Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Northampton County’s Home Rule Charter, in an effort to professionalize the County workforce,  established the career service. The idea was to attract the best and the brightest and impose the “highest possible ethical standards.” No one in career service may be “demoted, suspended, dismissed,or disciplined” without “just cause.” Impartial standards should exist for each position, and people who already work for the county have the right to apply for vacancies as they occur. A pay plan is mandated as well as a policy in the event that a reduction in force is deemed necessary.

Without question, the career service provisions of the Home Rule Charter are paved with good intentions. So naturally, they have been a disaster. Throughout the Charter’s 40-year history, there have been numerous examples of people being passed over for promotion, despite being qualified. In some cases, it’s been because the test for the new position has nothing to do with the job being performed. In others, an outsider connected to one of the department heads is brought in and the job is never posted.

Perhaps the most glaring example of the inadequacies of the current system is provided by someone who himself was employed in Human Resources and tested for a position. Then HR  Director Pete Regina claimed this person had tested poorly, but this employee marked his test paper in blood and claimed that he had been cheated.

Another problem with career service is that it has no application to a large portion of the workforce.Of Northampton County’s 2,200 full and part-time workers, 175 are considered exempt. Most of them work for the judges and are really just at-will employees, even if they belong to a union.

Three of the Clerks working for County Council are considered exempt, and could be replaced by the incoming Council. That’s unlikely, but part-time Council Solicitor Phil Lauer (salary $55,858.61) is probably toast. He is one of the County’s most formidable litigators. He’s won every suit in which he represented Council. In a governing body dominated by Republicans, most of his opinions agreed with the Democrats. But I suspect he will be dumped solely because he is a Republican.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

More understandable will be the replacement of the County’s legal department.

Part-time Solicitor Ryan Durkin ($61,886.03) is a gentleman, but the fact remains that he is an Emmaus collections lawyer with no practice in this County. In fact, he is not even a member of the NorCo bar. The six part time lawyers under him include First Ass’t Solicitor Stan Margle ($52,675.79) and assistants Dave Backenstoe, Dave Ceraul, Dan O’Donnell, Jacob Sitman and Michael Snover. They are paid $45,340.46 per year. Ceraul is a regular GOP contributor, while Backenstoe gave Brown $1,000. Snover’s wife is General Lee, the NorCo GOP boss.

I am sure they will all be replaced.

I’m less clear on the Public Defender’s Office. Chief Public Defender (Part Time) Bob Eyer ($61,737.31) made the mistake of contributing $500 to John Brown and will undoubtedly be replaced. I think most of he part-time assistants ($48,338.99) are safe. They include Ed Andres, Syzane Arifaj, Jim Connell, Rory Driscole, Jordan Knisley, Alex Mills, Mark Minotti, Matt Potts, Tim Prendergast, Chris Shipman, Phil Viglione and Joe Yannuzzi. Two full-time public defenders, Susan Hutnick ($74,225.63) and Anthony Rybak ($71,029.30), will likely be retained, but they are exempt employees. So is First Ass’t Goodrich Public Defender (Part Time) Matt Goodrich ($61,581.73).