Express Times scooped us all with a report that lead court officer Lance Wheeler, a courthouse fixture, had been unceremoniously dumped by Court Administrator James Onembo. I've learned since that Wheeler was replaced, almost immediately, by Deputy Sheriff Chris Fegley. The position was never posted for applications by other courthouse workers, but I understand that this is no requirement for a judicial employee.
It's who you know.
Fegley is a former Allentown police officer who retired in late 2006. In his final month in Allentown, he packed in 51.5 hours of overtime. This final month is what determined his pension, which turned out to be $54,619 on a salary of $48,768.
Depending on when he was hired as a Northampton County Deputy Sheriff, he might be eligible for a second pension.
Over the months before his termination, there was increasing friction between Onembo and Wheeler. One of Wheeler's two daughters, Makaeya Lynn, has MLD, a rare and incurable disorder that attacks the nervous system. muscles and organs. Onembo was upset at the frequent absences and fundraising, while Wheeler was disturbed by Onembo's seeming insensitivity.
Wheeler served at the pleasure of the Court, as an at-will employee. Some say he was let go because of his work as an elected constable, but the judges themselves gave work to Wheeler as a constable. Something else is going on.
It appears that Onembo is the person who fired Wheeler, who was afforded no meeting with President Judge H.P. Kimberly McFadden. It would seem to me that a person who works for the courts, even as an at-will employee, is still a public employee and should be afforded a meeting with his real boss before being given the axe.
It's called due process.