Friday, January 21, 2022

DA gets Raises For Prosecutors, Secretary That Were Mysteriously Removed From His Budget

Salaries in Northampton County are pitifully low. This includes the DA's office. Terry Houck, the county's top prosecutor, has lost four assistants in recent months. All but one have left over wages. In meetings with his staff, Terry promised seven of his top assistants and his executive secretary that he would get them a raise for this year. He sat down with county budget officials and explained what he wanted, in August, as an independently elected official. He was told it would be included in the 2022 budget and that "everything was fine." It wasn't.  Without telling Houck, county financial officials took the money for these raises out of the budget. This is something Houck only discovered after the budget had been adopted. So Houck appeared before County Council last night to seek these promised raises and told Council he would take money from other portions of his budget to pay these increased salaries. 

"An independently elected row officer got what he asked for," insisted Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron. He noted Houck asked for and got a step, but Houck actually wanted a step in addition to the increases that the Exec had proposed.

Houck disagreed sharply with Barron's explanation. "That's not accurate at all," said the DA. He indicated that Barron owed him an explanation. He said his salary structure has "nothing whatsoever" to do with the step increases that have already been outpaced by inflation. Moreover, when he told Human Resources to process the paperwork for these raises, that office refused. He also called Barron about the issue and Barron was supposed to call him back but never did. "This is why I'm before you," he explained.

Houck indicated he was in front of Council so they would know exactly what was going on. 

Solicitor Chris Spadoni advised Council that, as an independently elected official, Houck had the right to decide what to pay his staff. He indicated his increase was taken out of the budget without his permission and behind his back.   

Kerry Myers was livid when learning that Houck was told by HR that the office was unable to process the raises. 

Houck made pretty clear that he was in front of Council solely as a matter of transparency, and knew what he had to do if this raise was disapproved. 

This episode demonstrates friction between the DA and Exec. That';s no excuse for penalizing prosecutors. 

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

No surprise. You are a big fan of McClure, but his type is well known at the courthouse. My way or I will screw you over. He is already proud of how he constantly plays county council off on each other with gotcha games. He planted the seeds of sabotaging the new
DA's RIC program FROM DAY ONE BY DROPING LESS THAN SUBTLE RMEARKS about IT being A WASTE OF MONEY. He BELEIVEs HE CAN CONTROL the DA WITH These GAMEs AS WELL.

It is obvious this was a screw you move by the McClure mob and it's good to see that Mr. Myers saw it for what it was and still is. He does what he wants when he wants and will try to screw over anyone who gets in th way. No different than a few other past executives and in some ways worse as there is no press to dig into these games.

Anonymous said...

Why does it look like council did not want to address Mr Meyers concern of someone changing the DAs budget with out his or their approval or notification.

Anonymous said...

Our Government people always do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Glad Houck stood up for the employees. Now people hear from a high ranking official how things have been going on since McClure and his incompetents took over. Thanks Terry!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the public defender post should become a row office, so the gap between DA wages and the lower PD wages can be narrowed.

Anonymous said...

Law and order lunch pail barristers don't like ambulance chasing foie gras barristers - at all.

Anonymous said...

Council was pretty insensitive with comments last night. For some that are so sensitive about minorities, they should watch their comments about being hit by a bus. Sad start to a new year, Council.

E Mest said...

At least Mr Houck stood up for his office! That’s what needs to be done by ALL offices. You see, I worked there when the salary audit was done and someone picked and choose who got the raises and who didn’t! It was the most unfair practice ever! One reason Northampton County is behind on getting new recruits!

Anonymous said...

I know you like Barron Bernie, but he has always rubbed me the wrong way. From marching with Verizon strikers to teaching on paid government time, he has always seemed to have the attitude of rules for thee, but not for me. To me, a man's promise means everything, he gave his word and then pulled a fast one on the DA. It's unforgivable, and it tells you a lot about what kind of man Steve Barron really is.

Anonymous said...

I’m not a huge fan of the DA and certainly vocalized my opposition to the creation of the PR position, which is totally unnecessary. (And yes, Bernie, I know you think it was a needed job.). This, however is obscene and again shows that McClure is petty, rather than professional. The buck (pun intended) stops with him and he should be made to answer some very tough questions.

Anonymous said...

For government to function well it's staff need to be well compensated. Qualified, motivated people cannot be recruited or retained otherwise.

Anonymous said...

First “RAISE” is not even the correct term to use. These individuals were supposed to be paid according to a Pay Scale. A Pay Scale that they are STILL 3 years behind!!

The County Council is still acting oblivious to the fact these individuals are not paid the reasonable “RAISES” they are entitled to. These individuals are overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.

The fact is the D.A. doesn’t practice what he preaches since he came into office. These individuals have been advocating for a salary raise they are entitled to for years. It is clear he had the money in his budget previously and knew how to shift the money around. It is until NOW “money was mysteriously removed from his budget” that he WOKE UP!

It’s clear from this article the D.A. knew the protocol and procedures of how to get these individuals paid. He has been dragging his feet until he got the run around THIS YEAR from HR & no phone call return from Barron.

As for the Chain of Command in the Northampton County it’s all about these men having Big Egos about who has control and power the D.A. v Exec office running that place. As for the H.R. department it is being used as a pawn middleman giving everyone the run around.

Both sides need to remember they were appointed by the people for the people!! If they behave like this towards their own workers imagine how their work ethic is towards the community!!

At the end of the day don’t forget these individuals have families that depend on them especially during these hard times during the pandemic!! All parties involved should be ashamed of themselves for their unethical immoral behavior for penalizing these individuals for “RAISES.”

Anonymous said...

I wish I was only 3 steps behind were I should be on my pay scale at work. But as stated county doesn't care about keeping its employees

Anonymous said...

If you want these people to get more money I have a suggestion. When you pay your taxes to Northampton county give more money than what your tax bill says. I am sure the county will take the extra money no questions asked. Maybe put a note with the check and tell them what the extra is for. Put your money where your mouth is.

Anonymous said...

Why must there be such pettiness and drama in with professionals who have been shown faith by their constituents through elections? Prosecutors have a tough job and are worth every penny.

Anonymous said...

Bernie people are leaving the DA office because of Houck arrogance. Yes the pay is and always has been more other places but Morganelli never had an exodus like this.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of steps and cost of living increases. Pay fair wage and if able give merit raises based on performance like the real world. Or like many in the past few years no raises at all in many industries. To not call the step increase a raise is crazy. This is an outdated system that needs to go. In theory a four and one half percent increase plus the cost of living could be that every year the salary increases by at least 6.5 percent. It's unsustainable. That's why they have been on hold. Few I the private sector get 6-7 percent increases each year! It's a raise no matter how you want to spin it

Anonymous said...

Good for him for calling out the games played with the budget. Ultimately the county exec makes the budget decisions even when department heads manage there individual budgets efficiently. They balance the county as a whole so some effective managed departments loose out

Anonymous said...

Remember the poor taxpayer.

Anonymous said...

Steve takes his orders just like everyone else in that court house that under chuck and Lamonts thumb. If he would have done anything else he would be on the street. Place blame where it should go.

Anonymous said...

One reason merit based raises in the county wont work because of the good old boy network. Take care of your friends. It happens all over the county. Weather Ken Kraft getting a step after one year at the jail or someone getting a job in HR that has no education in HR. I was just glad to see a boss stand up for his ppl. A team guy. Do not have that at the jail. We aren't a team. Leaders don't give to cares about the COs . Thought if anything a team would mean something now. Hell other employees get what ever chucky and Lamont want . Looks great in that political picture of things. Forget the other county employees. Get sick from the public contact.

Anonymous said...

I watched the meeting and don’t understand the problem and am as confused as Zrinski claimed to be. Houck stated no money was taken from his budget request and he wasn’t asking for more money, so what is the big deal? If he can re-allocate funds from different areas of the budget, then it almost seems to me that there was padding in the budget. More concerning are the comments regarding the state of affairs at the courthouse.

Anonymous said...

Good for Mr. Houck. Employees can't talk about what is going on or we are told to shut up or leave. The Department heads are the only ones allowed to talk as long as they say what they are told. At least one person can stand up against this crew.

Anonymous said...

It is nice to see someone stand up to chuck and Lamont. Wish more department heads had the balls. But all the other departments heads know what would happen. They would be let go. Only chuck and Lamont get to bully ppl now. No gets to bully them.