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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Luzerne County Govt: A public-sector dependency

"The wisest of men follow their own direction."--Euripides

I think what the Times Leader published today was proof positive that our two majority commissioners lacked the intestinal fortitude and the political will to avert the recently enacted 15% property tax increase.

The link: Luzerne County staffed far above average (The county has 1,698 full-time employees, more than its similarly-sized counterparts)

The excerpt: The size of Luzerne County’s workforce has been a heated topic at commissioner meetings in recent months.

Taxpayers demanded staff cuts to avoid a tax increase this year, bolstered by a suggestion from the county’s financial recovery consultant to eliminate 150 positions.

Commissioners Maryanne Petrilla and Thomas Cooney ended up voting to furlough just 15 workers and to raise taxes 15 percent, arguing that they couldn’t identify further job eliminations.

15. That's it. 15 furloughs and then the tax increase was approved. And in hindsight, I'm sure the majority commissioners, if pressed, would attempt to prevaricate by saying that the numbers are skewed by differing demographics. You know, we've got more seniors drawing services. Far more children & youth cases. A billion more miles of road to upkeep, or dozens more bridges to maintain (er, sleep under). Bunk such as that.

The highly-paid (taxpayer-supported) consultants recommended the elimination of 150 positions, so the commissioners, in all their, ahem, wisdom, cut just 10% of those positions. All of which makes one wonder if those hefty fees for the bean-counting consultants could have been better spent at Patte's Sports Bar.

Oh, and there was that dishonest claptrap about shuttering Moon Lake Park and furloughing the park's handful of employees for a lack of funds. Remember that bit about trying to find an outside outfit to take over management of the park? Turns out, what the commissioners were really hoping for was for some outside outfit to come in and turn the picturesque park into a sprawling waste water pond for fracking fluids.

You know the rub. The only way to hide the gross mismanagement and the financial irresponsibility is to find new revenue streams and stick with the status quo, i.e., protect the unionized employees who vote predictably democrat. Therefore, in an effort to save the unneeded jobs of those unionized employees, Moon Lake Park would have to be converted into a vast drilling wasteland. Out goes the swimming pool, in come the pollution pools and the over-weight trucks.

And whatever happened to all of this experience as a town manager that Maryanne Petrilla was purported to have when first she sought a county-wide elected position? Where was it again? In Sugarloaf, or Drums or Incest Creek or some such glorified corn field with one traffic signal? Is that how she ran the show there, by deficit-spending and raising taxes year-in and year-out? Gee, that's not the way I remember the campaign pitch.

At this point, her stock has to be dropping about as fast as that know-it-all spending us into oblivion in Washington. Being irrefutably overstaffed coupled with being either too completely incompetent or totally unwilling to enact the long overdue austerity program has to lead a thinking voter to a vote of no confidence for Maryanne Petrilla.

After reviewing her spotty performance as the county controller, and then later on as a majority commissioner feigning concern, one could only conclude that her track record suggests a clear abnegation of responsibility on her part. The overriding responsibility of any manager is to protect the assets and investments of the owners. And in this case, with the residents being being the owners, could she even attempt to make the case that she has protected our assets and investments? Methinks not.

Check this excerpted swill:

Petrilla, who endured criticism for the recent decision to cut staff at the now-closed Moon Lake Park, said she will continue to study ways to reduce the workforce.

The county eliminated a switchboard operator position, opting to rely on an automated phone system to direct callers. The county also is exploring the possibility of outsourcing security and processing of back taxes, which could lead to more staff reductions.

“We’re trying to trim and do more with less. We’ve made a commitment that we’re going to try to streamline government and operate as lean as we possibly can,” said Petrilla, the board chairwoman.

We're going to try? We're trying?

That'll only cut it for so long before the underachieving manager in the private sector gets his or herself unceremoniously canned. Fired. Box up the pictures of the brats, take your clock radio and leave your keys on the desk. Canned!

Therefore, since Maryanne Petrilla tried (really?) but couldn't or wouldn't do it, obviously she needs to be sent packing by the owners--the voters. Canned, I say.

And since this county has recently been documented to be a one-party thiefdom of epic proportions, it's fair to suggest that the local democrats have broken the public's bank as well as lost the confidence of the public.

Much like the bloated and ever-expanding federal and state governments that are currently ignoring our needs over their own, the government of Luzerne County has become a public-sector dependency. And I'm saying from my electronic soapbox that the local welfare reform initiative starts with the firing of the (mis) managers.

Send Maryanne Petrilla packing. Tell Thomas Cooney, thanks, but no thanks for nothing. And encourage Steve "Dr. No" Urban to run for that state office he has his oft-covered eyes on.

Enough is enough.

It's time for the public-sector dependency to end.

Sez me.


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