Thursday, July 21, 2011

Elections Office Staff Proposes Elimination of Deputy Registrar

If you ever visit the Northampton County Voter Registration office, you will likely see Amy Birch and Rich Kessler. They are tow of the reasons why that office has become a professional operation. A third reason would be the Registrar herself, Dee Rumsey.

I was surprised to see Amy and Rich sitting together at yesterday's Personnel Committee before Northampton County Council. But I soon found out why they were there. The office has managed well without a Deputy Registrar, and they think it's just a tad silly to hire on an inexperienced Deputy so that three employees can answer to to bosses. So they've proposed eliminating the deputy and using senior election technicians like themselves to perform those functions.
Oh yeah, and give them a raise, too.

Executive John Stoffa told Council he opposes this idea, saying there has to be somebody to answer if the Registrar herself is not there. HR boss Pat Siemiontkowski notes she's already begun the process of hiring a Deputy, and would have to study the recommendations made by Kessler and Birch. Ron Angle liked the idea, but claimed Council should be Kessler's last stop, not his first.

Then Angle and Ann McHale got into a spat over whether the elections office staffers report to the elections commission or the administration. Mike Dowd noted they could argue about that another ten years , but they won't get an answer to that question today.

As someone who visits that office regularly, especially to review campaign finance reports, I think Kessler and Birch should be given a green light. No one can argue that the office is more efficient today than ever, and with a smaller staff. They deserve a raise, and it will still save the County money.

If there's some hesitation, do it on a trial basis.

Council President John Cusick and Peg Ferraro seemed to understand. Cusick noted, "Any time employees come up with ways to save money, they should be encouraged." And Ferraro, after listening to the "I need to do a study" argument, commented that many good ideas "get tangled up in government rules."

This is the smaller government that conservatives claim to like so much. Why not try it?

12 comments:

Lighthouse said...

OT, but related: do you know how frequently/effectively the voter registration rolls are purged? I know with motor voter and other efforts to register folks, many have registered over the years (though that doesn't necessarily translate into higher turnout rates). However, I have seen street lists, and there were people still on the rolls that have moved away. In some transitory neighborhoods, sometimes two or three family names show up at one address. I thought after four years, names were to be automatically purged if they were not already removed due to formal change of registration at a new residential address. Is that still the protocol?

Anonymous said...

Now that Stoffa is in charge Angle is quick to tell employees to come to county council last. With past Admirations he was quick to encourage staff to come to county council and piss and moan.

Amazing how Angle has changed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, Those purges are very infrequent. I'll ask.

Gerta Veronese said...

sounds like good management to me - maybe that is way stoffa is against it

notsocasualobserver said...

A few years back dealing with voter registration was a horror. Inefficient, incompetent and un friendly. TODAY it is a whole differeet story. They are helpful. knowledgeable and dedicated public servants. I would take the reccomendationsof Birch and Kessler very seriously, that whole office from the top down has proven its worth, why change a good thng?

Anonymous said...

what's conklin's take? isn't this his department?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of elections, there is a bill in the general assembly that will make it impossible for anyone to vote without presenting a photo ID at the polling place. It has drawn some criticism in the senior circle, but also has its merits.

Trish

Bernie O'Hare said...

Whether this is Conklin's department is another debate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ligthouse,

To answer your question, I called the Elections office and spoke to Amy. She tells me that if a person fails to vote for 5 years, he or she is sent a letter asking for an update. If that letter is ignored for 2 years, the voter will be purged. So basically, a person who becomes inactive will be urged about 7 years after becoming inactive. Those letters to inactive voters go out once per year.

Ken Kraft said...

I also agree that the office can run with these two splitting the duties. When I was appointed chair of this commission we were not the best run place in the county, but now with Dee in charge, the place is running very efficiently and I think that council should consider this request and do the right thing. Now is not the time to train someone who knows nothing at all about the job, and to make them a boss...

Lighthouse said...

Thank you Bernie, I appreciate your efforts to follow up. Helpful information.

Zorn said...

norco once again makes an ass of itself