Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Norco Workforce: No Salary Study or Place to Eat, But Dressed to Kill

Last December, Northampton County's top dog, John Stoffa, told WGPA's radio audience his top priority this year is the county workforce. In addition to negotiating contracts with all unions, he pledged that the county's antiquated salary structure would get a much-needed overhaul. I think he meant it, too.

Since that time, Stoffa has negotiated agreements with a myriad of county unions. But the residual unit's contract is still outstanding. Worse still, no salary study has started. In fact, no one has even been selected to conduct it. In the meantime, employees still eat at their desks or in halls. Once the workers' cafeteria is completed, there's no contract for anyone to run it.

Do you see how workers just might get the impression they're taken for granted?

Whether he realizes it or not, Stoffa has just given two thousand county workers a new reason to be disenchanted. Are you ready for this? It's a condescending three page dress code that treats grown adults like grade school kids.

No shorts, mini-skirts, exposed midriffs/tops, tight or revealing clothing, etc. Most of this is obviously directed at woman.

This goofy new policy was signed by Stoffa on March 19, over three months after it was supposed to be operational. And it has teeth. "Continued violation of the standards will result in disciplinary action up to and possibly including termination of employment."

"What they do is really insulting. You simply can't tell people what to wear. They don't understand that use of force only brings hatred toward them, not love." Those are not the words of a disgruntled county worker. They come from a woman in Iran. You see, they have a dress code, too. Once we invade Iran to set their women free, perhaps Stoffa can get a few pointers from one of the mullahs we don't kill. If nothing else, John can learn how to give council real scary looks.

No Nose studs, damn it!

"Dangling jewelry and visible facial jewelry (forward of the ears) is not permitted ... ." In other words, no nose studs. Now it just so happens that married Hindu women wear nose studs the way most Christians wear a wedding band. But a Hindu woman, unlike her Christian counterpart, must get special permission, on a "case-by-case" basis, to wear a nose stud. Forcing her to seek permission to practice her religious or cultural beliefs, while not imposing a similar requirement on others, is discriminatory.

Have you ever seen someone challenge a woman's professionalism because she wears a nose stud? Are they unsafe? That must be it. Women must die by the millions from nose studs. Overweight and unbalanced noses must crash through computer monitors all the time.

But wait a 'tic. I'm an expert when it comes to noses. Look at my profile picture. See the schnozz? It would take a pretty big nose stud to be more dangerous than that. My nose has never crashed through a computer monitor, although I do use it to hold the door open for courthouse customers.

And to crack walnuts.

No tongue piercings, damn it!

This troublesome dress code also bans tongue piercings. Now I happen to know two people with tongue piercings whom I consider quite professional. One of them is an Express Times reporter. The other is my daughter. Well, at least one of them is professional. My daughter sthill talkth like thisth when sthee wearsth that damn shtud.

No sthneakerth either, damn it!

The silliness continues, even on "dress down days." That's when workers pay for the privilege of wearing jeans to work. Now they can't wear sneakers, something they've always done. Seriously, have you ever heard a member of the public register outrage over someone who dares to don running shoes? Most pass out before they can do that. It's absurd.

I understand employee attire has a "direct impact on public perception," but I see no need for a formal policy. It's just common sense. And if it's so god-damned necessary, why not first show employees you respect them by putting that overdue salary study on a fast track?

In addition to public perception, there's such a thing as employee perception. Here's what I really am hearing from harried courthouse workers. "What's the sense of having dress down day if we can't wear sneakers?" Or this. "We all hated Glenn [Reibman], but he left us alone. Stoffa should have bigger fish to fry. He needs to leave us alone." They've found this new policy an unwanted invasion of their personal lives and a needless attempt to impose conformity. What a meddlesome county has really done is give employees yet another reason to sue.

Now excusthe me while I get Joe Long'sth picture branded on my assth.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Bernie, but I disagree. I worked in the corporate world for many years and we always had a dress code. People can be great workers, but also be clueless about what is appropriate and what's not. By creating a policy, one person isn't singled out. I'm truly surprised that they didn't have one before this.

Anonymous said...

I like the picture. Is that Ron Angle and Lamont McClure?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I tried to get one of them holding hands.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:25, It's the timing I find most offensive. Workers don't have a cafeteria but are being told how to dress.

Anonymous said...

Okay. I agree with you about the timing.

P.O'd Naked Blogger said...

I think the dress code should be enforced on men, that they NUST wear Skirts of a certain length, and I think the picture you posted is perfect. Let's see Stoffa, Onembo, and the judges wearing "Burkhas?" Is that what they call them. That would be justice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I once wore a dress to the courthouse. A friend and I were celebrating "Greek Halloween." We paraded into every office. Unfortunately for us, two real crossdressers decided to visit the courthouse that day and were terrorrizing the ladies' rest rooms. Needless to say, we were both arrested and detained until things were sorted out. I believe my accomplice later married one of the deputies.

Tom Foolery said...

In response to anonymous I can only say this. They have had a dress code in the county before but the supervisors failed to enforce it. Since the supervisors were afraid to tell the 1% that violated it that
they needed to get a clue the administration decided instead to create another idiotic code and annoy the hell out of the 99% that always followed it. By the way bernie, you better watch the shots at Stoffa. He might "Imus You" and send your blog into oblivion.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I'm surprised by how often I end up agreeing with Stoffa. When I first heard about the citizens' panel reviewing our elections troubles, for example, I thought it was a silly idea, a paper tiger. But it did a great job and cast a public spotlight on many problems. Stoffa did the right thing.

But when the emperor is in his underwear, someone needs to tell him. The fourth floor is nearly always out of touch with sentiments in the rest of the county. Communication can always improve. That's where this blog can actually be a positive for the county. Its employees often will gripe here anonymously, and that should be of some value to a county admin that cares. And Stoffa does care.

As far as being careful is concerned, I would not be blogging at all if I were a careful person.

Tom Foolery said...

I wasn't serious about you being careful..EMails do not convey emotions well. I'm sure Stoffa is aware that you still love him..If he wasn't he would have banned the website long ago..I'm sure Council would support a ban however since you are usually beating them up at one time or another..Obviously Stoffa still has more power than council in this regard, so you're safe for

Bernie O'Hare said...

Got it. ... But I know my days are numbered.

Billy Givens said...


Does your blog have the technical capability to tote up the number of times I've warned you that John Stoffa is nothing more than a sanctimonious prude, in the mold of an Anthony Comstock?

Chris Casey said...

Hey if you want to enforce a dress code, why stop there? How about an ethics code? There's a lot of elected officials who wouldn't get in the building.

Also, concerning Billy Bats, I think the better question is do you have a way of figuring out how many times Billy has gone off topic, or tried to "blog-jack" this blog with his rantings?

Anonymous said...

"Got it. ... But I know my days are numbered."

You have nothing to worry about! A lot of politics is bullsh**. According to this link of 50 bullsh** jobs out there, you can see how the job of blogger ranks.

You're in good company (and doing a fine job at that!)

R Gy-eeen said...

In honor of America's love of Islam
(as opposed to Islamism), this garb should be mandatory for all genders, all ages.

In fact, Diversity encourages us
to extend teaching-fellowships to our Taliban friends in all colleges and univ. thruout the 50 states and Am. Terr.

They can learn us why we are in error about everything.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say again is thank you, thank you, thank you Bernie for voicing what many of us "Residual Unit" (and other county employees too) complain about (and cry about--yes this is how frustrating, upsetting working for this county is) on a day to day basis. I make less than $10 an hour----can we please highlight this figure??-----to take in thousands of dollars into my register, not to mention the piles and piles of work that is expected of me (which my co'workers and I are all behind in--which much of this work should be on the $16/hour and above scale) and the nerve of the higher paid personel to complain about everyone being in professional attire is ridiculous. Yes it is expected, can be assumed, and we comply, but Hello?? Where is the "professional" pay rate, so that the poorest of us, those of us on medical assistance, utility assistance, assistance here and there, can actually afford new clothes decent enough to actually wear to work!!!!!!!?????!!!! I can agree with you entirely, (with great hopes these higher ups actually come here to read your great words of wisdom) that Stoffa and the council have their priorities out of looks like all they care about is getting their chambers renovated with swanky new carpets and chairs.......uh, I just hope they'll be nice enough to provide the revenue department with more of that fine pretty gray duct tape to keep taping the holes in the carpets, since it is such a fashion statement for the public to see, the same public who will most likely never even step foot into their pretty new chambers!!!!!! Keep up the good work, and thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Whats this! there are folks critical of King John. Given the free ride he got and continues to get from the press and blogs, I'm schocked. Not really he is one of the best all time BS artists ever.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:01,

As the person who posted this criticism of King John, let me assure you I'd vote for him again in a heartbeat. He's honest and owes nothing to anyone. That's a rarity in this world of political favors. Is that what bothers you?

LVDem said...

bothers me Bernie. I like to know who owns my politicians. The self-owned ones are the scariest to predict.

I say that totally tongue in cheeck of course.

Anonymous said...

Lvdem- all you have to do is follow the expense report. A big time donor payed and was...well you know. From LC to NC this fellow has left a trail of incompetence. That election comm.-please if Brackbill or Reibman pulled that with his hand-picked croonies this blog would have crashed from overuse.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 3:55,

Crashed from overuse? That's ready to happen now. Stoffa is one of my faves precisely bc I don't think he owes anything to anyone.

I'll look at Stoffa's campaign finance report. If what you say is accurate, you can expect to see a blog on the subject.

Anonymous said...

OK, this is crazy! I am a county employee and I have to say this. I appreciate Stoffa trying to improve the county's image, it shows some leadership. BUT...the county executive doesn't have the time to be micro managing all the individual departments. That is why they have division heads and department heads. It's their responsibility to be observant to what their employees are doing or not doing.

And beyond that end.... what the heck ever happened to PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY"? Don't people look at themselves in the mirror before they walk out the door anymore??? People are suppose to be responsibile for themselves, it's not the county exec's job to be the fashion police! Geez, give me a freakin' break!

Anonymous said...

I agree, why does Stoffa feel the need to approve this dress code; if there is a problem with how an employee dresses it should taken up with that employee by office supervisor to take disciplinary action.

Anonymous said...

Is there any reason why the residual unit's contract is still outstanding, why no salary study has started, and why employees still eat at their desks or in hallways? Instead of paying a company to do a salary study, why doesn’t Stoffa try to save that money and just take a look at our neighboring counties pay rates. It seems to me that money is mismanaged when a company would be hired for that reason when it could be done very simply. Then a new costly security system is put into place at the courthouse, now say what you want about Reibman, but when he was in office the courthouse was user friendly, and now it feels as if we are entering the prison, it is no longer friendly to the public nor to some of the employees that are not working there daily, they are searched before they can enter. Then $22,000 was spend to do a study to see why the windows at Gracedale are leaking. It is not rocket science; take the $22,000 and apply the money toward better replacement windows, or better yet if money is going be spent that way; for studies, pay the employees the full amount of back pay for the time they didn’t receive raises then they could afford to dress better. Real nice Stoffa, reassess our real estate, as the cost of living has been going up, and yet, employees have not received raises for almost four years but if they don’t dress to standards, fire them; now they can be homeless, well I guess some don’t have to worry about the reassessment FORECLOSURE will be their issue. Bernie wrote that county workers have a new reason to be disenchanted with Stoffa, well Bernie you are being real nice to put it that way.

Anonymous said...

it seems the only thing John Stoffa has time to do is critize the employees of northampton county . he should stop and consider that these same people elected him and are also taxpayers.his actions speak for themself he is ungrateful he is dishonest this is thanks people get for electing him for trusting he would do the right thing big joke he let the emplyees of northampton county down BIG TIME. he refers continualy to the taxpayers we to are taxpayers. he apperciates no one and nothing. i've beeen wondering if he id actually ILL and unable to make decisions could he be medicated? it seems something is interfering wih his decision making. god bless us all. see you in the soup kitchen.