They made it a key plank in their successful campaign platform. They railed against Frank Staudemeirer and Bob Carl for doing it for years. They promised the voters that they would never partake in it. The “they” I am referring to is Schuylkill County Majority Commissioners Mantura Gallagher and Francis McAndrew and the “it” I am talking about is cronyism. Of course, the only change we see one year into the new democratic administration is that the cronies reaping the rewards of political nepotism have a (D) after their names instead of an (R).
Now, I realize that they won, we lost, and one of the repercussions is that many political appointments, like solicitor posts and board memberships, will go to democratic partisans. Its all part of the game. However, when a politician campaigns on the notion that cronyism is too rampant in an institution and promises to clean up the process, like Gallagher and McAndrew did, only to continue the same old cycle when they ascend to office, he/she better be ready to take some lumps.
The cold hard fact of the current state of courthouse employment is that unless you are a family member or close personal friend of, worked a poll for, or contributed to the campaign of Gallagher, McAndrew, or any one of the democratic row officers, you need not apply. And if you are a registered Republican on some sort of board, commission, or committee and your term is set to expire before 2012, you had better realize that no matter how much of a bang up job you are doing, you are just keeping the seat warm for one of Ange’s nieces or nephews.
Here are just a few examples of the current nepotism that has engulfed the courthouse:
- Gallagher and McAndrew eliminate the 911 Operations Manager position, create a new position entitled 911 Quality Assurance and Training Officer, and hand the $18.35/hr position over to Tara Shappell, daughter of County Administrator Darlene Dolzani (a democrat).
- First Deputy Controller Mike Mehalko and accountant James Moll were both demoted from full-time employees with health insurance and retirement benefits to part-time employees without any benefits. Now, we all know that county Controller Melinda Kantner is a fellow democrat, but it is well documented that she is despised both within her own political party and by the majority commissioners for various run-ins throughout the year. This is relevant because it is the first time ever that these two positions will be classified as part-time.
- John Guers, an employee in the county zoning hearing department, and Philip McCarthy, an employee in the communications center, both well-known Republicans, were laid off in November to “cut costs”. Only a few days later, Gallagher and McAndrew signed a contract with American Staffing to fill their respective posts for close to the same cost.
- In Feburary, Frank Zukas was fired from the County Municipal Authority after serving more than 20 years on it. Zukas is a prominent Republican fundraiser and is employed as the Executive Director of SEDCO. He was replaced by a democratic campaign contributor.
- On Friday, former county GOP Chairman Dan Daub was fired from the county zoning hearing board.