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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An Argument Against Elected Sheriffs and Row Officers

Do you want a professional in charge of the County's Deputy Sheriffs or would you rather have an elected hack? In Northampton County, voters have already answered that question. In an exercise of direct democracy, they said they want appointed row officers. Here's how Jerry Seyfried, a Home Rule Charter expert, puts it.
"In 1978, the row offices were abolished, not by politicians, but by the voters of Northampton County. The voters, through the process known as voter referendum, have told you they don't want row offices. The change that was implemented provided a system of checks and balances like no other in the history of the County. The efficiencies that came with the elimination of the row offices and the adoption of the Northampton County Home Rule Charter resulted in cutting property taxes almost in half."
If you're still on the fence about this issue, an excellent argument against elected row officers and sheriffs appears in an Express Times account about an elected Beaver County Sheriff, who's just been arrested and charged with some batshit cRaZy shenanigans.

He told a campaign worker that he'd chop off his hands and eat them.

He told an online reporter that if he asked too many questions or got too cute in his stories, he'd beat him worse than he used to beat the [blacks] in Aliquippa.

He also made conditional threats to "blow out the brains" of several people, including a Prothonotary and another reporter.

Beaver Countian's John Paul, who has had to endure the Sheriff's wrath, says this:
"Small town politics and cronies with big time influence had blanketed his misdeeds from view for far too long. It makes me physically ill when I think of how many he has hurt over his 40 year career, abusing both power and persons to achieve his own self-interests."
With appointed row officers and sheriffs, there are less small town politics or cronies with big time influence.


Peter J. Cochran said...

Read American COP magazine about this month about Elected VS APPOINTED. Can you see the puppet strings?

Anonymous said...

Not only is Jerry a Home Rule Charter expert, but he once had one hell of a right hook. Knocked Davey Gullick on his ass in the old Courthouse entrance area. Appointed row officer assaults a fellow employee and keeps his job, and now cashes in on a County pension. Others have been fired for lesser offenses. Bad example to use, Bernie, in your defense of appointed row officers. And lets not forget Ross Marcus, who attempted to assault a union officer during a grievance meeting. Tom Harp led a great investigation and found the actions of Marcus violated no County policy. BIG SUPRISE. Had the union rep knocked Marcus' head off, he'd be out of a job. Appointed row officers only need to kiss the ass of the Executive rather than winning over the majority of voters. Look at the current prothonotary - was a clerk until her husband gave $5000 to Reibman. Same thing for Jeff Hawbecker - a $5000 donation got him APPOINTED sheriff. This is a great system and one Northampton County should be proud of. Makes one wonder why only four other counties in the entire United States use it. Seyfried will always be a bum until he takes out a formidable opponent. Marcus has a Napolean complex. And Northampton County will continue to function beautifully under this communist system.

Anonymous said...

Off the topic Bernie, but does Onembo have any ownership in Nazareth Ambulance? Heard he is retiring in June. Hopefully to the Brown Stone Inn at 666 Walnut Street.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ross Marcus attempted to assault a union officer? With what, a cumfy cushion? He is many things, but "tough guy" is not one of them.

I agree the pay to play has to stop. You are right on the money there.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the specifics of Northampton County, but isn't it an inconsistent argument to think that an elected sheriff....or any row officer for that matter will be less qualified?

I mean, we elect the county executive and county council who would appoint him, so he'll either be an elected official or a flunkee hack.

Wouldn't you think it's better to have him or her stand for election every four years?

It's not like judges who are appointed because there is usually some credentialing involved. In PA we elect our judges and get some real humdingers, but in the other states that appoint, there is a judicial review process, so that is a marked improvement.

Just thinking that the appointment of a political hack to repay a favor by someone who was elected is better than the voters just electing their own candidate doesn't really make much sense.

I am meh on the whole thing, and could be swayed either way with a good argument, but at face value, it doesn't seem that appointment is any better to me as it is currently done.

Anonymous said...

Wow, somonme is not a Jerry fan.

It is true he and Dave Gullick got into a fight and he should have been dismissed. I guess you will have to ask Reibman why he wasn't.

Of course Jerry's gratitude is shown by his endorsement of Callahan.

Every man for himself.