Friday, March 27, 2015

Brown's Stealth Layoff - a 12.4% Job Vacancy Rate

Northampton County Executive John Brown has stated that he considers the County employee its most valuable asset, and now I know why. He is balancing the County's budget on their backs. According to a report supplied to Northampton County Council yesterday, there are 268 vacant positions throughout the County, which accounts for 12.4% of the entire 2,162-person, workforce.

This report was generated at the request of Hayden Phillips, who ran on a theme of limited government. I suspect he will attempt to eliminate the positions entirely. He has stated that if a position goes unfilled for a period of time, it should just be eliminated.

My problem with this is hat most of these are positions that should be filled, but are purposely being left vacant to give Brown more money to play with at budget time. He is sacrificing efficiency and delivery of services in the name of the Almighty Dollar.

Where are positions going unfilled?

Most of these vacant positions, 133.15 to be exact, are in Human Services. They include caseworkers for Children and Youth, Area Agency on Aging, Mental Health and at Gracedale. How much of this is due to federal and state budget reductions is unclear to me. But it's a pretty sad commentary for the 18,000 people who  receive Human Services of one kind or another. I am especially appalled at the 16 vacancies in Children and Youth, which does include caseworker positions. After being abused and neglected by their counties, children need attention. instead, it's more of the same. When I see something like this in a County that has a full complement in its Department of Community and Economic Development, I want to throw up.

Last year, Corrections Officer Tom Davis several times insisted that corrections officer vacancies are going unfilled at the jail. That is still the case. Corrections is down 29.5 positions, and 22.0 corrections officer jobs are still unfilled.

What are called row offices, because they used to be lined up in a row along the hallways outside the courtrooms, are suffering, too. Despite several complaints from the Court, there are still eight vacancies in the Civil Division. There are four unfilled jobs in the Criminal Division and four jobs in the Recorder of Deeds have been left open.

Custodial and maintenance staff have been decimated. The janitors are down 9.8 jobs, including four FT cleaners  I have always found the custodial staff to be one of the County's finest departments, but they are obviously being overworked. Things are bad in Maintenance, too, where 7 jobs remain unfilled. For someone like me, who is unable to change a light bulb. this is a disaster.

Eventually, what is going to happen is some child is going to get killed, or perhaps an overworked corrections officer on mandatory overtime will snap.  And then the County will pay millions. i would prefer to see it doing its job.

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most of these problems would not have been had Gracedale been sold.

Anonymous said...

12:24 - The problem is Brown and Allen and their inability to see that you can't run the county like a business. Unfortunately, most of the one's who suffer from this ignorance are the one's least able to defend themselves.

Anonymous said...

its never too late to fire up the range and enjoy a piping hot cup of vegan cocoa to wash down a hearty helping of fakin bacon,

Anonymous said...

Didn't DHS union and non-union employees just get a raise retroactive to 7/1/14 at the last council meeting, and council approved this? Based on this, it appears money available is not an issue. Wow, all those openings! Shame on the department heads of C&Y , Aging, MH/MR for allowing this. Don't recall reading about one of them attending a council meeting and on the open floor to the public them addressing council of this dire need. Not a Brown supporter, but shame on all of them!

Anonymous said...

Fear of retribution is the reason why employee's are afraid to come to council and state the dire conditions they labor under right now. This is typical divide and conquer strategy by Brown and Allen. At some point..the unions have to stand up to JB and tell him to back it up. The employee's will support a mass effort. Stand together against the tyrant.

Anonymous said...

The jobs have been sacrificed at the altar of Gracedale. Gracedale is why we can't have nice things. Gracedale is why this will continue for the foreseeable future. To paraphrase Bill Clinton: "It's the Gracedale, stupid."

Anonymous said...

No it's tea party crap economics! Less service to the public..less government..less safety..less productivity..less people to do the jobs..Get over the Gracedale blame game.

Anonymous said...

"Gracedale is why we can't have nice things."

Is Gracedale why we get ants?

Anonymous said...

what about the bed bugs

Anonymous said...

those vacancies will continue to grow because more workers are leaving to better jobs in the private sector. You know the real world everyone keeps talking about. It will take months to years for the county to recover from the brain drain. This at a time when seasoned workers are needed most. Sad day at Norco. John Brown has no idea what these workers do since there are no measurable widgets to count.

Anonymous said...

There has been no raise for DHS workers union or non union. There has been draconian cuts to healthcare for non union in DHS that are the leaders of the workers. This ship is taking in too much water and is sinking faster than the Titanic. God help the workers and consumers of this county.

Anonymous said...

No mention of the hemorrhaging white elephant in the room? Gracedale, Gracedale, Gracedale. It's operating better than any thime in its history and bleeds $10 million per year. That would fund a lot of jobs and bridge repairs. Stoffa and Angle were right. We should have listened. It's time to revisit selling Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

This is not a corporation! Profit and loss is meaningless as far as service to the community is concerned. RAISE TAXES! Screw this austerity crap! NORCO is not a stock to be bought and sold. Just STOP!

Anonymous said...

Brown is starving the county to death to prove a political point. When are we gonna push back? Enough!

Anonymous said...

12:@$,

BINGO!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Gracedale will still be necessary if it loses $30 million per year. Raise taxes, pay up and shut up. A price should never be put on Gracedale. Crazy teabaggers are always looking at what things cost.

Anonymous said...

It is incredibly irresponsible when two primary functions of county government- human services and corrections are neglected by not filling vital positions, and instead hiring more people for a bloated DCED department that has yet to create ONE JOB! The county is already paying LVEDC for economic development in the county, and on top of that Brown fully staffs his lame DCED while essential human services and corrections positions remain unfilled. This is irresponsible and stupid. But where are the unions in all of this? Why aren't they at council meetings raising some hell? PSSU represents the caseworkers and AFSCME the correctional offices and other area where there are staff shortages. Where are their business agents? Where is Justus James? Council meetings have become rubber stamp bores to watch. There should be a little push back from the collective bargaining units about Brown's policies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:45, When I advocated Gracedale's sale, I identified myself. You won'ty do so, not even on a blog. It takes people of courage to do something like that. You obviously have none.

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:35, So identify yourself and publicly say what you're so willing to say anonymously. When you can do that, we'll talk.

Anonymous said...

Why NOT look at vacancies and try to determine which jobs are needed and which really aren't?

Both sides will likely be surprised by what is discovered, and I'll guarantee you the correct answer isn't 0% or 100%.

The jobs aren't being filled by the Executive now, and it's a great discussion to have in a public forum.

If that's where Hayden Phillips is headed with this, or even just the result of it, I say kudos to him for starting the discussion.

Anonymous said...

the question for the brownhole camp is this- how much more can you take from your workforce? Maybe the whole county can be staffed with volunteers? Maybe 20 k out-of-pocket medical? No raises for eternity? And useless trolls on this site think brown's a visionary? Let me come to your house and i'll tell you where to cut from your budget. done. How hard is that? A REAL leader would find some good somewhere to show to the workforce he truly "cares" , because acting like you care for the worker and actually doing so are two different things.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Here are Phillips's exact words: "I am interested in the number of our open positions and the length of time these positions have remained open. I am of the opinion that after a certain length of time unfilled, the open position should be closed and taken off budget."

does that mean that of a corrections officer solt goes unfilled for one or two years, the position is eliminated? That's very unwise.

Anonymous said...

Funny, but I didn't see any Democrats step up last year to support the tax increases necessary to fill these positions and pay for those Cadillac benefit plan. Can't blame it all on Brown and the Republicans.

Nursing homes will always be necessary but county governments don't have to own and operate them.

Anonymous said...

@9:49 am... the Democrats did step up and wanted to talk about cuts to the budget along with adding programs and finding alternatives to property tax to fund them. Parsons added back all the open space money and funded it from a slush fund John Brown hoped everyone forgot about.

The Republicans did not cut one thing out of the budget and when they hid behind John Brown when he proposed that silly line of credit they had no choice but to raise taxes.

The citizens voted overwhelmingly to support and pay for the home. That is what the referendum was about. The Republicans on council need to start listening to the people and governing and not blindly rubber stamping this uncaring ignorant county executive.

Anonymous said...

I believe there were two positions in fiscal affairs that went unfilled for over 2 years. One was a secretary position filled by someone from the Bangor area. Maybe that position should have been eliminated.

Anonymous said...

republican exec, republican controlled council- it's the dem's fault! lol

Anonymous said...

@9:49 Its been stated numerous times but lets keep beating a dead horse.....THE COUNTY DOES NOT HAVE A CADILLAC BENEFIT PLAN. This is a fact that even your savior John Brown has been forced to admit!

Anonymous said...

This was the choice of the people. The exec. and council were duly elected. The D's are doing what they can to manage the damage being done so far by those newly elected people. Put blame where it belongs. Stoffa and Angle are a distant memory. The honeymoon is over. Next time..vote like your life depends on it!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Brownie has chosen to fill positions for and with his cronies. He and his minions are only in it for themselves.

Anonymous said...

This discussion begins and ends with Gracedale. The people spoke. Gracedale stays. We have to find ways to pay for it: taxes, attrition - followed by more taxes and more attrition. Then, we can look to more taxes and attrition. It's for the old folks, after all. They'll be thrown to the streets if we don't keep the place in county hands. We're sacrificing things for Gracedale and that's the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

its never too late to fire up the range and enjoy a piping hot cup of vegan cocoa to wash down a hearty helping of fakin bacon

That hot cocoa is yummy and really takes the spring chill off after walking to the store because the car can't be used.

Anonymous said...

Bernie @ 9;41 -

You might be right. But I'm assuming that if Phillips is going to suggest eliminating the jobs, at least it will be public and there's presumably a debate in Council.

Could the Executive unilaterally remove the positions from the next budget? I'm not sure.

Wouldn't the better way be to have the discussion now, in County Council? Maybe I'm missing something.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree completely with a public discussion of the topic. That's a good thing. But I would completely appalls the wholesale illumination of positions simply because they have gone on field for a period of time. The way to witchy what Phillips watch which is an honest budget is by putting one dollar in as a placeholder for each of the positions that are vacant.

Anonymous said...

To 6:01 AM

The Division heads were ordered not to show up at County Council meetings. The order from Brown was stay away and shut up. There will be no honest discussion in County Council chambers when Division heads are ordered not to show up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's a very fair point. If Phillips wants an open discussion about this topic, he needs to bring in people from the departments negatively impacted.

Anonymous said...

When DHS workers, through their legitimate representation, have had an opportunity to convey certain issues to County leadership,they will do so and are prepared to respond appropriately in any event. Mr. O'Hare, both in his reporting and comments, is not incorrect about the situation. Collective bargaining and politics aside, DHS Division leadership and their workers have been ethically challenged. How they respond to that challenge will determine where they stand as people. There is no area between right and wrong.

Anonymous said...

2:47 WTF??? Is this Jim Gregory posting from prison??

Anonymous said...

Not Jim Gregory because this last comment makes too much sense. Sounds like someone from CYF who knows what a mess that place is. A nightmare waiting to happen. The Director is down so many experienced workers and supervisors that the place can't run right. And he doesn't come to work enough to know. And the positions under him are manned by someone else who doesn't come to work much, and someone who knows very little. Most of the good experience left last year when the Brown nonsense caused so many to abandon ship. Hopefully nothing terrible happens to any child in the county for lack of staff to monitor the situation.

Anonymous said...

OK, have any staff members been injured on the job due to short staffing?

Anonymous said...

10:03 so what is your point? We should just make conditions so dangerous that they are only accidents waiting to happen? What kind of risk management is that? One, just ONE lawsuit by a correctional officer who is injured or killed by an inmate due to staff shortages, or a report of child abuse that is not acted on promptly due to not having enough CYF caseworkers will cost the county FAR MORE than filling positions THAT ARE ALREADY BUDGETED!

Anonymous said...

This is astounding given that unemployment is down to under 6% nationwide. When are the tea partiers going to acknowledge the growing economy and falling deficit?

Anonymous said...

When are you libs going to admit that it has been the American oil industry that has supercharged our economy? Europe depends on fickle Russia for their oil, and we USED to rely more on the Middle East for our energy. Because conservatives have pushed for more oil drilling and exploration we are now in an envious position of not paying ransom to the Arabs to sustain our economy. Foreign oil prices have plummeted as a result. The U.S. economy was revived in great part thanks to our domestic oil industry.

Anonymous said...

You do realize most American domestic oil is put on the world market and not kept here in America. The benefits of a brain, a terrible thing to give to Fox.

Anonymous said...

2:52 check the percentage of US oil consumption from domestic oil v. foreign sources. It continues to rise as our output increases. With you mighty MSNBC loser brain you should know that.