Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The LuLac Edition #2168, August 22nd, 2012

Our “Write On Wednesday” logo. 



Workers from the county unions are saying they are not going to sign an Ethics Pledge. Union leaders don’t want them to sign anything that might interfere with language in their contracts. Taxpayers are not happy that the union is even hesitating. Mike Buffer sorted it out and we feature that on this week’s “Write On Wednesday”.   

Some Luzerne County employees are refusing to sign forms required to show they will abide by terms of the county's new ethics code, officials said Monday. Issues with signing the forms involve whether the ethics code applies to employees in unions with collective bargaining agreement and employees in the judicial branch or other offices that operate independently from the executive branch. Any employee who doesn't sign the form by Friday's deadline should be fired, Kingston resident Brian Shiner said at an ethics commission meeting. "So you want to have separation of powers? Let's separate them from their paychecks," Shiner told commission members. "You need to be firm. You need to stop being wishy-washy." Controller Walter L. Griffith Jr., one of five members of the ethics commission, said he will file an ethics complaint against every employee who does not sign the form. The commission can take disciplinary action against county officials and employees if it finds them guilty of violating the home-rule charter or ethics code. County Manager Robert Lawton, who also serves on the ethics commission, said he doesn't plan to fire employees who don't sign the forms because they can still be punished for violating terms of the code. Paula Schnelly, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' Local 1398, said the code references a table of penalties but doesn't include a table of penalties. "So how can you sign it, when you don't know everything in it," Schnelly said. The ethics code says the manager must approve a disciplinary system, which includes a table of offenses and penalties, within four months after county personnel code becomes official. The personnel code became effective May 10. Schnelly said a proposed table of penalties she reviewed conflicts with terms in her union's collective bargaining agreements. Her union represents about 500 county employees. The county has more than 1,520 employees, and more than 1,200 of them are represented by unions. More than 300 county employees work in the judicial branch. The ethics code defines unethical behavior for county officials, employees and appointees. Officials and employees are required to "expose corruption wherever discovered" and are prohibited from using positions to receive payments, contracts, loans, privileges and personal advantages. County council adopted the ethics code April 24. It went into effect May 24. According to the code, the manager is responsible for communicating the provisions of the ethics code in an employee handbook. "As a condition of continued employment, each person shall sign a statement to the effect that he or she has received such copy, understands its contents, and agrees to abide by established policies," the code says. Ethics Commission Chairwoman Margaret Hogan suggested talking to employees to resolve disputes over the code and the form

Michael Buffer is a reporter for the Citizen’s Voice.


At 4:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, this is just a lot of nothing trying to amount to something and as usual, Walter Griffith is right up front grabbing a headline. This Shiner guy loves to stand up at county meetings and run his mouth as though he understands what's going on and in fact, he hasn't a clue. The county employees do have rules and regulations as well as union contracts that spell out the methods of disipline. The court employees fall under the state's ethic code so they are already covered under an ethics code so what's the problem? There is no problem. All the employee repersentatives are asking is that a table of disapline be included just as there is in union contracts. This is just another situation where the county management will go forward with a conflicting situation and expect smooth sailing. Seems like the only one with a rational thinking system is Lawton. At least he brings common sense to the table.

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Bluto said...

There's an easy way around this: just change the pledge to clarify that it does not purport to change the collective bargaining agreement.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unreal...what a cluster ****! Griffith the clown is gonna file hundreds of ethics complaints!! lol, yeah, that'll work!

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mrs Hogan says to "talk to the employees" Mrs. Hogan for real? Maybe she ought to arrange meetings with the individual unions and her years and years of experience as an Ethics person will sway their opinions about this ridiculous requirement placed on them by this Ethics Committee!!!! How can anyone legislate morality? That is what is wrong with this entire Council and Home Rule Government---they believe they are so righteous and without fault and have destroyed our government operations in only 7.5 months. And they complained about the County Code form of government??? God Help all of us in this county with these clowns at the helm!!!!! on The LuLac Edition #2168, August 22nd, 2012

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Aggie95 said...

close to 40 elected officals and their henchmen bagged by the feds of those nearly 40 only 2 Republicans .... maybe if you democrat were a lot more honest and now I get to listen to ya'll whine about someone's job skills ....LOL ...funny upset at the changes caused them ...from top to bottom ...your judges....your commissioners ... your school board members ... your ...* SIGH * ....well they are all yours ... so spare me the outrage


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