Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Northampton County has essentially two classes of employee – career service and exempt. Members of John Brown’s cabinet are called exempt employees. The purpose of this post is to explain why they can be fired for any reason or no reason.

Career service was created when the Home Rule Charter was adopted. Its purpose in theory was to reward and promote employees based on merit and ability, as opposed to who they know. Shortcomings in that system have led to unions, and 75% of the county workforce is now organized under 11 separate unions. But union or not, the chief advantage of career service is that you are given a property right in your job. You can be fired only of there is “just cause,” and are entitled to due process, i.e. notice and an opportunity to be heard, before that happens.

Exempt employees are completely different. They were also established under the Home Rule Charter so that the Executive would have an inner core of staff in whom he can confide and set policy. Unlike career service employees, who are protected in the Home Rule Charter from termination without “just cause,” exempt employees serve at the pleasure of whomever appointed them.

All judicial employees are exempt. Even if they unionize, a judge can send them packing.

When Executive John Brown was sworn in, he became the Lord and Master of a gaggle of county employees that extend beyond his cabinet. Each cabinet member has an exempt employee. Assistant county solicitors and part-time public defender are also exempt.

His cabinet is listed below,along with their salaries.

Director of Administration Cathy Allen – $93,626.00. Allen has no education beyon a high school diploma and had no county experience prior to being selected. There were several outstanding tax liens filed against her, and at one point, her home was in foreclosure. Call me cRaZy, but I think McClure will let her slip away.

DCED Director Tim Herrlinger – $85,392.53. Herrlinger is well educated but his prior career is as a fundraiser. Personally, I’d repurpose the department to focus on community development. But McClure has said he’d really like to create some jobs in the slate belt.

Corrections Director Dan Keen – $106,842.94. Keen is a glorified corrections officer who promised to move here, then didn’t. His proposal to build a new $185 million jail, and most likely at Gracedale, was rejected by the voters when they rejected Brown. Keen will likely be eliminated.

Fiscal Affairs Director Jim Hunter – $93,626.00. Hunter impressed me with his honesty as Fiscal Director. He comes from the banking industry. He is too close to Brown for McClure to want to keep around.

Human Resources Director Amy Trapp – $111,202.83. Trapp is pretty much responsible for entire county workforce voting against Brown. With her salary, I’d like her to return the money for those gift cards that went who knows where. She was by far Brown’s worst pick, unless you like $800 popcorn machines. She flouted rules that she enforced against others. She can sneak her dog into the next place that makes the mistake of hiring her.

Human Services Director Alison Frantz – $102,241.78. I have heard bad and good about her. She is apolitical.

Public Works Director Stan Rugis- $102,241.78. – He is held in high regard by County Council and understands the county’s infrastructure. He’ll be hard to replace.

Sheriff Dave Dalrymple – $97,446.75. Though likable and professional, Lamont McClure was very bothered about a Sheriff who does not live in the county he serves.

Coroner Zach Lysek – $111,202.83. Though technically exempt, all Lysek has to do is ask, “How are you feeling? You look a little pale.” He’s a keeper.