Friday, November 30, 2012

Are Right to Know Officers Worth $102,900?

Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law is by no means complicated. If someone makes a request, an agency has five business days to reply or invoke an automatic thirty day extension. But in the People's Republic of Northampton County, time and again, the County has simply filed no answer at all. Yet the County Solicitor, Karl Longenbach, thinks his Right-to-Know Officer is worth $100,000 per year, and made that argument repeatedly during a Budget Hearing earlier this week.

This would be Jill Mancini, the County's sole full-time assistant solicitor and designated right-to-know officer. But she has treated that responsibility with benign neglect instead of transparency.

Last July, for example, a citizen who just wanted to see the budget was ignored. He had to file an appeal with the state Office of Open Records. Mancini ignored the state appeals office until after the record had closed.

This is simply outrageous. The County's budget is available online, and Mancini should have directed this citizen to it, instead of ignoring both him and the state office of open records. Her neglect resulted in a full-blown appeal and a waste of state and county resources.

This is no anomaly. I've encountered the same nonresponsiveness in several of my own requests.

This is the person Longenbach wants to reward. Why?

Mancini accompanied Longenbach when he pitched for yet another full-time assistant solicitor. Although Council was willing to go along, they are unhappy at the salary hike. That in turn made Mancini mad, and she walked out in a huff.

So Longenbach stuck around until the end of a three-hour hearing to make the pitch for her again. He argued again that one of these full-time assistant solicitors - and you can bet it will be her - should be paid $100,902. That's just for starters.HAmazingly, he stressed the right to know matters.

Longenbach stressed the "professionalism" within his office while simultaneously lamenting the inherent conflict in the divided loyalty that part-time solicitors have as a result of their own private clients. If that is so, shouldn't he be phasing out all of the part-time Solicitors? Instead, he's creating a position just so that one person can get a pay raise. That's not professionalism.

Some might call it nepositism.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Outrageous. Mancini is incompetent at any salary.

Anonymous said...

How about making an existing staff person or two the right to know officer(s). If they are unsure of a request, they can call Longenbach on a need to work basis for advice. There, just saved the County tons of bucks.

Anonymous said...

One of your better posts. Good to see you getting away from the steady diet of tea bags.

Anonymous said...

... and anderson vanderbilt weighs in.

Anonymous said...

Yes, KL is the Stoffa cabinet member who is engaging in blatant nepotism on behalf of his subordinate with whom he allegedly is involved in a personal relationship. Rather than using discretion KL tried on three occasions to pitch a pay raise for his honey. If the position is approved at the pay level he is seeking she would be compensated at a higher level than assistant DA's whose job is far more complex and challenging. She would be at the same pay grade as the sheriff who runs a department of over 100 employees. That makes no sense. Excellent expose Bernie!

Anonymous said...

In the 2nd paragraph, you say this person is a full time assistant solicitor and then go on to say how the solicitor was pitching her to become a full time solicitor. Not clear.

TJD said...

The way I read it, Mancini is currently the only full-time assistant solicitor. Longenbach was pitching County Council to add another full-time assistant solicitor AND increase the salary for the two full-time assistant solicitor.

Anonymous said...

So the question is is an assistant solicitor worth $100K? Sounds about right to me. Can they hire one for $75? The labor market will tell you.

Mark baker said...

Kl has always been a scumbag but now he is trying for a Ph
D in it. What happened to his old lady. She ditch him or what

Bernie O'Hare said...

"In the 2nd paragraph, you say this person is a full time assistant solicitor and then go on to say how the solicitor was pitching her to become a full time solicitor. Not clear."

You are correct. I am unclear. Mancini is a FT assistant Solicitor. Karl wants another FT position, and Council agrees. But he also wants Council t raise the compensation of one of these two FT assistants to over $100k, and that will go to Mancini.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So the question is is an assistant solicitor worth $100K? Sounds about right to me"

Ask the FT assistant DAs, who put in very long hours in very stressful jibs, what they start at. It s much lower for a lot more work. I mentioned this to a few attorneys and got quite a few raised eyebrows.

I'd agree that the office should be professionalized, but Karl's proposal is not designed to accomplish that. He is instead trying to take care of someone.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How about making an existing staff person or two the right to know officer(s)."

Despite what Karl told Council, it's really not complicated for 90% of the requests.

Anonymous said...

"So the question is is an assistant solicitor worth $100K? Sounds about right to me"

Bethlehem and Easton have full time solicitors. Their salaries are in the high 50s to low 60s.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's a 9 to 5 job, with none of the stress attendant on a prosecutor or public defender, and with no overhead. While I think the office should be professionalized, this is the opposite. Karl is tying to take care of someone.

Anonymous said...

Good article Bernie

Anonymous said...

I would rahter pay for this job, then the $70K I am paying for Brennan.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
What does one do when there is no response to the RTK law when asking properly¿

REDD

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Mancini an ADA and couldn't cut it? And she now feels her job deserves to pay more than the one she ran away from? And she has the nerve to pressure her secret santa Karl to beg for a raise for her? Just outrageous! But those bobble-heads on council seem to have bought Karl's deceptive, self-serving argument. Hopefully they will come to their senses about this charade before next week's council meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jill Mancini was an ADA. I do not know why she left.

A few years ago, Angle had to speak to Longenbach and called him at his private office in Bethlehem. Jill Mancini, who is supposed to be a full time assistant solicitor and NOT an associate in Karl's private office, answered the phone.

Angle complained about this, and we know that Mancini worked against him at the polls.

Anonymous said...

Many worked against Angle at the polls. If she did, she was not alone.

Besides, maybe she was at Karls office to drop off something or pick somethng up. She hapens to pick up the phone and old crazy Angle has another crazy council show production to put on.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Isn't it convenient that you would know all about what happened there! I might go to someone's office to pick something up or drop it off, but I would not answer his phone. Maybe Stoffa would buy that, but I'd want the DA to investigate a theft of services. The people pay Mancini to work for the county, not Karl Longenbach.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What does one do when there is no response to the RTK law when asking properly¿"

You file an appeal with the state office of open records. If there still is no compliance, the law provides sanctions.

Anonymous said...

If the DA didn;t investigate you and Angle using a taxpayer paid outside law firm to work with you on your Gracedale lawsuit, I doubt this will be a big deal.

Oh and also the work the Elections solicitor did with you and the outside firm.

All financed by the taxpayers.

I agree an investigation should be done. But not on Karl but on you, Angle and Stoffa.

Anonymous said...

Yes, who could forget the video you posted from Parsons victory party at Ditzi's where Mancini was visibly plastered eating chicken wings with Justice James and the Fake Rev. And Longenbach standing in the wings. Real loyalty to their boss, Stoffa. And now she wants a raise. Only in the Republic of Northampton County!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I agree an investigation should be done. But not on Karl but on you, Angle and Stoffa."

Um, we were investigated. We were also sued. Repeatedly. The matter went all the way to the Supreme Court. And at every level, your claims were found to be nonsense, just like you. And this attempted deflection does not answer the impropriety that exists with Mancini.

Anonymous said...

Since Stoffa is known for throwing people under the bus, why the Hell would anybody have any loyalty to him.

Anonymous said...

6:06 what the hell are you talking about? Exactly WHO has Stoffa thrown under the bus during his administration? He agonized getting rid of the most unpopular HR director in the county's history and protected these two love birds for several years. And they repay him by supporting one of his political adversaries. Real loyalty on the part of his solicitors, people you should be able to trust 100%.

Anonymous said...

I find this utterly amazing. I work at the Court House and have hear the same innuendos that everyone else does. First....Longenbach was going to run for judge. He was leaving the Courthouse. What happened? Is he now staying and why? Isn't Mancinni the one who ran rough shod over the selection process of the Register of Wills selection process by using her influence to abort the official selection process? Everyone in the Court House knows that these two are an item. Stoffa has to know. Why did he allow Longenbach to go to Council knowing all this? Damn it.....where is the honesty and as employees, we all get a black eye because of their shenanigans. That third floor is nothing more than a peyton place.

Anonymous said...

All county employees should be afforded the opportunity to go before council to plead why they are overworked, underpaid and deserving of a raise. And council has afforded these love birds three opportunities and nearly an hour of council time to make their case. Unfreakingbelievable!