Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Caesar's Rule in Northampton County

Yesterday, I told you all about naughty emails. Two NorCo Register of Wills clerks could tell you more. They were fired in September because, from time to time, they exchanged vulgar emails with each other and an ex-boyfriend or two. A union grievance was denied, and the County also opposed paying unemployment. Late last week, an Unemployment Compensation Referee ordered the County to pay up. He reasoned that the County was in no position to claim willful misconduct because it acquiesced in the naughtiness for two years without taking any disciplinary action of any kind.

Don't get me wrong. I can certainly understand the reason for this policy. Over two thousand years ago, Julius Caesar applied it to his own marriage. When his wife Pompeia was caught in a compromising position with a young aristocrat named Publius, he divorced her on the spot. It made no difference to him that his wife had dispensed no sexual favors. "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion," he ruthlessly reasoned.

That same reasoning would apply to vulgar or offensive emails. Public employees, like Pompeia, should do nothing to place Caesar, i.e. their public employer, under suspicion. But Caesar's rule also applies to nepotism.

In Northampton County, a cabinet level official has a relationship with an employee under his direct supervision. To my knowledge, they live together. I'm happy for them. But their relationship, by itself, places Caesar, i.e. the County, under suspicion. Though I have no reason to believe they have failed to act with honor, the very fact of their relationship presents an appearance of impropriety.

Northampton County Executive John Stoffa, in 2007, signed a nepotism policy (you can see it here) that prohibits this kind of nepotism. Yet for years, he has acquiesced in its violation. How can he fire some poor clerks for exercising poor judgment with emails while allowing a cabinet level official to brazenly thumb his nose at Caesar's rule?

It's hypocritical to apply Caesar's rule unevenly, depending on the class of person involved. But that's exactly what is happening in Northampton County.

Incidentally, I've been asked to name this cabinet level official. I have declined, for the same reason I have declined to name the fired employees. But 95% of the courthouse knows.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Check-mate!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Unfortunately, this is not chess.

Anonymous said...

There are more stories untold by this blogger.

Anonymous said...

"In Northampton County, a cabinet level official has a relationship with an employee under his direct supervision. To my knowledge, they live together. I'm happy for them. But their relationship, by itself, places Caesar, i.e. the County, under suspicion. Though I have no reason to believe they have failed to act with honor, the very fact of their relationship presents an appearance of impropriety."

It can be terribly uncomfortable for co-workers too.

Mark Baker said...

JC will right all wrongs when he takes over. management and nonmanagement do nothings will find themselves in the unemployment line. the too many unions will be left quaking in their boots as their excessive beneies are stipped away. there will be real working department heads and a sense of integrity and purposefulness will reign. the honest workers will no longer feel the petty wrath of mindless management.

In short, JC will kick ass, take names and lead. Something the county has not seen in well over a decade.

Anonymous said...

JC will go to great lengths to protect family members who drive drunk and wreck police cars. Don't believe your lyin' eyes that he's a dishonest and putrid politician. He's a regular knight in shining armor (that was probably stolen from somewhere).

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It can be terribly uncomfortable for co-workers too."

I had not considered that, but you are right.

Anonymous said...

Typical Northampton County.

Anonymous said...

so what your saying is ... if the person is useful to john stoffa he turns a blind eye ...but is judgemental of everyone else ? then i wonder is it possible john stoffa never made a mistake ? i doubt it ,yet he slams the hammer on these two other people , you said it depends on the class of the person ,since when doesn't a clerk have as much class as a cabinet member? the only thing i can figure is either these people involved are great benfit to john stoffa or they know something improper about him.... what say you bernie ?

Anonymous said...

Stoffa should do the right thing and bring these two employees back to work. They will be reinstated by the Courts anyway. He can't win this one. Then we will have back pay to contend with, paying back the state unemployment, paying the lawyers fees, and paying for any civil actions that will be forthcoming. Stoffa is wrong on this issue. How is he going to answer the Courts when he lets a cabinet member go carousing and doeosn't find that wrong but fires two employees for this e-mail crap. Here's another scenerioe for you. What happens when the Underling decides to scrap the cabinet member, gets an attorney, and then sues the county because Stoffa didn't do anything to protect her or him from the sexual harrassment that is sure to arise. Your buddy Stoffa just isn't too bright is he?

Anonymous said...

Stoffa ran out of gas and quit doing the job several months back. He's even lost Bernie, his biggest ass wiper. He's a hall walker, now - and with multiple taxpayer-funded pensions to boot. Lifetime trough sloppers eventually play to form. Welcome aboard the hammock, John. The bridge commission awaits career takers like you.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa ran out of gas about three months into his first term. Worst county excutive in county history. He needed a guide dog to find the mens room.