Clausi hurting, not helping, county
To the editor: As I read Mrs. Lippay's letter intended to respond to my last letter, I concluded that she misunderstood the premise. Mrs. Lippay's letter assumes that Mr. Clausi has read well enough for the past several years. This is likened to the story of the emperor's new clothes. The taxpayers have been blindly listening to Mr. Clausi's mantra each time they hear him speak the word "taxpayers," naively thinking the one pandering to them is capable of working in their interest. The real issue is whether Mr. Clausi can proficiently read English to a sufficient degree to hold the office of commissioner.
I asked Mr. Clausi if he could read English three times during his "private" press conference held in the taxpayers' public building. Mr. Clausi has not answered my question. He exited the room, directed me to eternal damnation and called me a son of a bitch. His behavior is unacceptable as a public office holder.
I was only privy to a brief portion of Mr. Clausi's canned remarks before he moved his press conference to another room. As Clausi related his version of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) story, I heard him claim, "When I found out DCED wanted their money back, I called DCED ... I told them they would not get a penny of the taxpayers' money back ... I cut the program." Ironically, it requires a majority vote of the three commissioners in a proper forum with proper notice to take such action.
Mrs. Lippay, the cancer that has leached into our county is the dour and vindictive rule of a virtual tyrant who doesn't understand his job responsibilities or the conduct of governmental business.
Unless Mr. Clausi naively misunderstands, the DCED money he is disputing repaying to DCED is the taxpayers' money. Mrs. Lippay missed Mr. Clausi's attempt to point fingers away from himself to avoid responsibility for his own lack of oversight. The actual problem is that the money was improperly administered. If anyone believes as Mrs. Lippay asserts that it was DCED's fault, it might be a wise idea to review the grant utilization requirements and stop drinking the Kool-Aid Mr. Clausi is attempting to sell.
The other problem that Mrs. Lippay didn't understand is that Mr. Clausi discards quality personnel because they don't march to the beat of his drum. Jim King from the county authority after at least 20 years of service. Monte Peters after eight years as head of the planning department. Why? Mr. Peters was not removed from the planning commission for any planning performance failures. He was audacious enough to speak up for Commissioner Rick Shoch when Mr. Clausi went off on his tirade about the fact that Mr. Shoch, who is a practicing attorney, works as a solicitor for a township. Peter's removal was purely vindictive.
In July, Mr. Clausi was on his soap box pointing fingers at Point Township concerning proper administration of DCED money. None of the township supervisors participated in the day-to-day administration of the DCED money. Unlike the county DCED money, the Point Township money was properly used. Some paperwork wasn't filed by Point Township. It got filed. The issue was eliminated.
The difference with Mr. Clausi's county DCED problem is mismanagement/ improper utilization of DCED funds, which now require repayment. Mr. Clausi's claim is that "we" were helping people who needed help is all well and good; however, he fails to comprehend the DCED program and what was required of the county.
Mr. Clausi's claim regarding Monte Peters was he, Clausi, can't trust Peters to do anything for the county after Peter's failed to properly oversee the paperwork in Point Township. Now, if Mr. Clausi follows his own example, he should be resigning.
Mrs. Lippay has also missed something that unfortunately receives insufficient press. The courts were never the taxpayers' problem. The county's financial issues originate in the mismanagement by previous holders of the commissioners' office, the legislative branch of county government. Cutting court-related employees won't fix the county deficit problem. It only creates different problems.
I notice there is now a lawsuit filed against the prothonotary's office. The district attorney is also advising the public that his office in now not able to keep pace. At this point, court offices have been handicapped to the degree of incapacity to properly perform. These problems come directly from Mr. Clausi.
Mr. Clausi doesn't understand that the business of government is not the same as running private-sector business. Government doesn't turn profits. Government provides services.
Based upon his acidic rants, tirades, motions, resolutions and votes, it appears that Mr. Clausi is personally responsible for the unjustified reductions in staff in the sheriff, prothonotary, clerk of courts, district attorney, register of wills, recorder of deeds and clerk of the orphan's court. Each time one of these offices made a request for funds to do their respective jobs, they were told no. Then he levied budgets cut and those offices had to do more with less money and less staff.
The staffs of these various offices have mandated jobs to perform. When the work exceeds the staffing allocations, things fall through the cracks.
I feel especially sorry for the members of the prothonotary/clerks of court and district attorney's offices. If Mr. Clausi were required to pitch in and help in those offices, it is my opinion that the offices would be even worse off than they are now. The primary thing that those offices' employees must do is read and read quickly. The ratio of filings to employees dictate a need for Mr. Clausi to wake up, smell the coffee and reverse the poor staff cut decisions that have been made.
Our county prison has been a lawsuit waiting to happen since I started practicing law 24 years ago. Considering the needs for prison housing for immigration and naturalization, it is a wonder that no thought has been given to building a new, larger and more efficient prison with rentals to other counties and the feds, which would pay for itself.
After a new prison is built, the old prison can be renovated into two facilities. One facility can house female prisoners instead of paying other counties to house them. The second facility can house juveniles instead of paying for and sending them to various far-away places.
Northumberland County used to be one of the kinder more gentile counties in the commonwealth. Now it is a laughing stock. Much of it is attributable to Mr. Clausi's lip service to the taxpayers.
County employees' morale is at an all-time low. The installation of time cards and draconian treatment during Mr. Clausi's reign is an insult to the professionalism of the offices forced to utilize his factory time clock. These folks aren't common laborers; they are county servants. Most of the county employees have more education than Mr. Clausi. All of them proficiently read and write the English language. Apparently, Mr. Clausi, as an elected official, does not feel he needs to ascribe to this job prerequisite.
Until the taxpayers finally observe that the emperor's new clothes don't exist and they are naked, the county will continue its downward spiral into mediocrity. Mr. Bridy might want to cease being a part of the problem and attempt to mediate rather than choose sides.
The other vexing issue is the utter failure on the part of the largest circulated Northumberland County newspaper to accurately report the fact that Mr. Clausi swore at me as he left the room to preclude me from his private press conference. I sent a letter dated Dec. 5 discussing the events, which has appeared in other newspapers and was discussed on WKOK but has yet to appear in The Daily Item. Why is the Daily Item protecting Mr. Clausi?