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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, May 16, 2014

Accounting Manager Promoted Despite Nepotism Claim

Lamont McClure
Is it a blessing or a curse to be the child of a highly-placed elected official? That relationship might make it easier to secure a position or a raise. But the person involved could be exposed to all kinds of scrutiny that would never occur if no relationship existed. Mary Allice Einfalt, Northampton County's Accounting Manager, could probably weigh in on this topic. By a 5-2 vote of County Council at their May 15 meeting, she was reclassified as part of a fiscal overhaul to give her additional oversight over many operations. She was also awarded a major salary hike, from $66,504 to $87,307. To some, this promotion and reorganization were long overdue. To others, it was nepotism. Einfalt is the daughter of Council president Peg Ferraro.

Einfalt's reclassification is part of a plan to require accountants to report to accountants, instead of program directors. This problem, along with a lack of tighter fiscal control at Gracedale, has been identified by external auditors as a "material weakness" in internal controls for the past two years. It has also cost the County money. With the exception of Controller Steve Barron, nobody has voiced any serious objection to this reorganization, which also reduces the responsibilities of an accountant at Gracedale and creates a new fiscal administrator for human services. Barron's objection was that the County was putting the "cart in front of the horse." He pointed to outdated fiscal policies and procedures, which go back to 1988, and suggested they be revised first.

Scott Parsons was the swing vote
Nobody challenged Einfalt's qualifications. A CPA, she's been employed by the County since 2010. In that time, she's assumed responsibility for numerous financial statements, initiated paperless pay, eliminated OT in Payroll by 97%, and has taken some Human Resources tracking from there to Payroll. She has identified and eliminated internal control weaknesses missed by the outside auditor and Controller. One glaring example of this is eliminating a practice in which the accounts payable department was permitted to create new vendors. She is a cross-training advocate and also a disciple of Continuous Improvement (CI), which ironically was championed by John Brown's opponent, John Callahan.

But some Council members, particularly Lamont McClure,  had concerns that have also been voiced by County workers.

McClure was put off by the size of the salary hike, a point he mentioned repeatedly at a Council and Personnel Committee hearing

"When was the last time this County gave anyone a 30% pay hike?" he asked Executive John Brown, who was unable to cite an example.

"Unprecedented", "historic" and "massive" are words he used to describe the pay increase.

McClure and Ken Kraft also raised questions whether career service regulations were being followed. When a new position is created, career service regulations require the job to be posted so that others within the County can apply. But Executive Brown told them this was no new position. Einfalt was and remains the Accounting Manager. As a result of a desk audit, her position has been re-classified to add additional responsibilities and give her a larger salary.

Then McClure raised the nepotism issue. It had been raised the previous day by Council member Hayden Phillips, but after speaking to Einfalt, he became "enthused." "I have to tell you, I'm a big fan," he had said at a Committee meeting.

McClure, to put it mildly, was unenthused.

"No one else in this County is getting this kind of raise. Our employees are still shell-shocked over the Easton commuter taxes. ... I'm very concerned that, in order to get this kind of consideration, you need to be politically connected, and I'm just very concerned about that. It's unfortunate."

"That's very uncalled for," retorted Peg Ferraro. .

"What's uncalled for? What I think is uncalled for is that people who are interested in the issue - you, Madame President, making phone calls to our fellow Council colleagues regarding this issue, in advance of the issue, when you should have, in my view, not been involved in any conduct whatever advancing this issue."

After the meeting, Ferraro acknowledged that she did call Council members, as Council President, to advise them that this matter would be considered. She denied lobbying for her daughter, took no real part in the discussion at Council and in Committee and recused herself from the vote.

McClure, who accused Ferraro of nepotism, bristled during last year's budget debates when a Council member suggested that he was unable to vote for raises to professional employees like his wife, who is employed as an Assistant District Attorney. He pointed out, correctly, that she is part of a class receiving the raise and there was no conflict.

After the nepotism accusation, the vote was quickly taken. Ken Kraft and McClure opposed the promotion, Ferraro recused herself, and the five remaining Council members, including Democrat Scott Parsons, supported the reclassification. Bob Werner was absent as a result of a death in the family.

The other proposals, which reduced the responsibility of Gracedale's Fiscal Administrator and created a new position for fiscal management of human services, passed 8-0.


Anonymous said...

Bernie, will the new fiscal manager in human services be like it was when Ron Heckman was Director. He had Cindy Smith as the lead fiscal officer of the Department and all the accountants were to report to her. He was concerned that with Division Heads writing their evaluations, fiscal reports could be unduly influenced by the Division Heads.

I understand this practice was stopped eight years ago by Ross Marcus. Is this what is happening or something different?? I was told Division heads always fought Heckman on this with backdoor complaint sot county council.

IUs Cindy Smith who was the head fiscal officer in the past the new lead officer. Also will she then report to the Dir. of Human Services or directly to the fiscal affairs office? It would be disjointed not to have the top HS fiscal officer not report to the head of the entire Department.

If Brown has no faith in his new Director, why? Maybe he should have considered Heckman who was doing this to begin with. Did he offer Heckman the job? Did Heckman refuse?

Anonymous said...

A $20,000 raise in one move???

This is no different than all the insider stuff Brown has done since day one. He has tried to help political allies with contracts, jobs and now promotions.

This is really bad government in action. Yet, since he is a Republican will the so-called good government types call him out??

The silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...

That was cute.
Nepotism is wrong if only on principle.
The obvious possibility of impropriety
will always hang over the position.

Anonymous said...

Council made the right decision. But the huge pay increase is still too much and quite unnecessary. Peg is an arrogant political moron who did more harm than good by calling council members. She's not to be trusted, and her sins were and will be visited upon her clearly qualified daughter. The daughter should stay. Peg should go far away.

Anonymous said...

This raise is a slap in the face to all the incredibly hard working County employees that are paid very low salaries. I'm sure they would like to have a fair desk audit. Also, you might want to see if this is true - A little birdy stated that one of her employees has been internet shopping right under her nose during County time.

Anonymous said...

Parsons must have gotten Peg's endorsement to vote for this travesty. I thought he was the "common man" who would object to such a bloated raise when hundreds of front line county employees are lucky to get 2-3% raises. For all of the enhanced duties Einfalt will be taking on, will she be working more hours? One would think that she should have to work 60 hours a week to do her current job plus the increased duties and responsibilities. That would be the only way the $20 K raise could be justified.

Anonymous said...

Parsons must have gotten Peg's endorsement to vote for this travesty.

Not likely. Peg is doing commercials for Scavello.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"ill the new fiscal manager in human services be like it was when Ron Heckman was Director. He had Cindy Smith as the lead fiscal officer of the Department and all the accountants were to report to her."

That sounds like the way it will be.

Anonymous said...

In the past fifteen years the handpicked hacks put into the Human Resources Department write the desk audits they are told to write.
It started under Reibman and Hickey and has continued to this day. Not a professional in the bunch.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It strikes me that this anonymous shot is unprofessional, too.

Anonymous said...

I guess we know why Peg Ferrao actually wanted the president position! She may not have voted, but she can put pressure on the others. You scratch my back at wotk here one more time. And to think the employees may get a 2 or 3% raise if theyre lucky.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me get this straight. The most senior member of Council, who also happens to be the top vote getter in the county, wanted to be Council Prez so she could lobby other Council members for her daughter?

That's just nutty.

Anonymous said...

a twenty thousand dollar raise. That is absurd and if this was anyone but peg you would be screaming bloody murder. Oh and if Stoffa proposed it you would be praising it.

Nonsense and political payback pure and simple. Where is the tea party on this outrage???


Anonymous said...

after having some time to think about this, it doesn't bother me peg's daughter has the job as far as i'm concerned the nepotism argument could go either way ,but I am bothered by the salary increase .There are many employees who go above and beyond due to shortage's in dept.s who wear several hats to keep things from falling apart because positions aren't filled that aren't ever reconized let alone given pay increases . that just doesn't sit right with me.reclassifing the job also makes it appear as a cover for pegs daughter nepotism isn't the problem here but everything that followed is ...

Anonymous said...

Peg can't put pressure on anyone. And she wouldn't.

If she her daughter deserves the job then so be it. The raise is excessive but not compared to what some of the others make.

People need to lighten up.

McClure is a lawyer and we all know they are overpaid.
Kraft is a union agent who lobbies for jobs for the union and when it's county work we get to pick up the tab which is double.the rate of private workers.

So I don't really care what they think.

Anonymous said...

As predicted the teabaggers are OK with one of their own fleecing the public. Good thing Peg is white.

Anonymous said...

"People need to lighten up."

Agreed, nothing to se here. this is all OK. Why are we not talking about Obama!

Anonymous said...

Pipe down and reread the comments, fleabagger. And stop shitting on sidewalks and selling weed to kids. Occupy a shower and a job.