don't get any more lame duck [of an] administration than we
are," its second-ranking member told an emergency meeting of
drastically cripple this government," she pleaded in urging the
lawmakers to stop meddling in the day-to-day functioning of its
alleged that an effort to wrest control of key executive powers
under the guise of oversight and combating corruption was
"highly politically motivated" and "directed [at] me to get more
her presentation and supporting testimony from several managers
and other employees, Council, by three-to-four votes, rejected
two ordinances which would have imposed a near-solid freeze on
personnel moves and prohibited moving political appointees into
jobs protected by the civil service merit system.
as emergency measures, they required five affirmative votes to
be enacted. Primarily sponsored by Council president Christopher
Coons, the text of the freeze measure carried the names of four
co-sponsors. The other one listed two co-sponsors. Prior to the
meeting, however, it was said that they had the endorsement of
all seven Council members.
end, only Coons and Councilmen Penrose Hollins and Robert Weiner
voted affirmatively. Council members Patty Powell, William
Tansey, Karen Venezky and Robert Woods lined up in opposition.
and Weiner are Republicans; the others are Democrats as are
Gordon and Freebery. Coons is his party's candidate, running
against Republican Christopher Castagno, to succeed Gordon as
county executive, having defeated Freebery in the primary
the emergency ordinances, which would have been in effect for 60
days, failed, versions of the legislation, which would be in
force until Gordon's successor takes office, remain before
Council. They cannot be voted on, however, until Council
receives a recommendation from the Human Resources Advisory
Board, which evidently will next meet on or around Oct. 6. That
could put the ordinances up for a vote at Council's regular
session on Oct. 12.
seemed to agree after the Council session on Sept. 21 that,
barring an equally dramatic turn, their enactment is now
in her testimony declared categorically that the Gordon
administration is not violating nor abusing the merit system.
After Patricia DiIenno, manager of the Human Resources
Department, corroborated that, Coons complemented her for the
department's strict compliance with previously enacted oversight
legislation. "Human Resources will comply with whatever the law
is," DiIenno said.
apparently knocked down the supporting prop for the emergency
session when she described the recent hiring of Lynn Moroz to be
insurance and control manager, a merit-system position that
apparently continues the risk-management function he has been
performing under a controversial outside contract.
Moroz is not a political appointee," she said, explaining that
he had been selected from among three qualified applicants in
compliance with normal hiring procedures and offered the
position last April. Although he accepted the job offer then, he
had to delay moving into the position until Oct. 1 "while he
shut down his business," she said.
agreed that is how it happened. Coons, however, questioned why
the arrangement did not come to light until it was listed among
three personnel changes in a report submitted in compliance with
the oversight legislation after the ordinance barring transfer
of political appointees into the merit system had been
introduced. Moroz's contract with the county has come under
scrutiny since auditor Robert Hicks cited it as being irregular
said the two other moves into merit-system position involve
executive assistants "neither of whom I know." They were put
into the appointive positions by department general managers as
a temporary expedient to have the benefit of their services
until there were regular vacancies for which to hire them, she
denied that the administration has fired or intends to fire
anyone in retribution for opposition to its policies or similar
reasons. She said two terminations for causes which have no such
connotation are currently pending and are being handled in the
telling support for Freebery's testimony came from Chief David
McAllister, who testified that the county police department "has
12 hiring and promotion processes underway" and said that "all
personnel matters in the police department happen through me."
He added that such activity "is every-day business" and taking
away his authority in that regard would "cripple the
acknowledged, in effect, that personnel actions with some
political ties remain part of the governmental function. She
noted that the predecessor administration of County Executive
Dennis Greenhouse shifted appointees into merit-system jobs in
its closing days and asserted that being able to so retain the
services of qualified people is legitimate. "When an
administration comes to an end, [its] employees should be able
to compete for jobs," she said.
she added, "Council members have obtained hiring in this
government." She singled out Weiner as an example and had
started to cite examples when Weiner objected on a point of
personal privilege and Coons cut her off on the grounds she had
made her point without the need for personal accusations.
in the session, county attorney Timothy Mullaney challenged the
legitimacy of presenting the proposed ordinances as emergency
measures and the calling of the special meeting. "There is no
evidence that any public emergency exists" and any action taken
would be subject to a court challenge, he said. "That one
individual is coming on on Oct. 1 ... doesn't constitute an
emergency," he testified.
proposed ordinances, he said, would have the effect of illegally
discriminating against political appointees, whom he described
as a recognizable "class of employees."
they also would violate state law in that they usurp legislative
powers granted to the executive and amount to "de facto removal