Luzerne County Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck is drafting a proposed resolution to stop employees from taking home county-owned vehicles.
McClosky Houck also wants to create a pool of vehicles that could be shared by multiple departments for county business.
These ideas have been suggested periodically over the past decade, but county officials never took action.
County Manager Robert Lawton said the ban on taking home vehicles would impact county detectives, three sheriff department employees and the coroner. Though he described the cost saving as “minimal,” Lawton said he supports the McClosky Houck’s proposal because it increases accountability and control.
• County Councilman Edward Brominski clashed with county Chief Solicitor C. David Pedri last week over the solicitor’s approval of a $5,000 payment to an outside attorney who is reviewing legal concerns with the county ethics code.
Brominski said he wants future payment requests brought to council.
“I will not be doing that,” replied Pedri, who said the matter did not fall under council’s control under the home rule charter.
“Then you won’t be working either,” Brominski said.
“Sir, is that a threat to a county employee, because you understand a council member can’t hire and fire?” Pedri said.
• Councilman Jim Bobeck defended Pedri’s action, saying the county solicitor has a right to approve an outside review if the legality of a county code is challenged. Bobeck said some haven’t accepted that home rule gave management more authority over decisions instead of “having council approve every nickel and dime.”
Bobeck also addressed incoming council member Kathy Dobash, who has repeatedly challenged his actions.
“I will double my efforts to work together with you,” Bobeck said.
• Councilman Harry Haas vented about several issues last week.
Some council members complained several seats on outside boards and authorities were filled instead of waiting until Dobash and Eileen Sorokas take office next month. Haas said these seats expired or will expire the end of the year, and critics could argue council was violating the home rule charter leaving seats vacant.
Haas also said all council members were free to propose 2014 budget amendments if they were displeased with the manager’s proposed spending plan.
“This budget is squarely upon the shoulders of all 11 council members — those who voted for it and those who didn’t,” he said.
He also complained about the “outbursts and lack of decorum” from some of his council colleagues.
“I’m sick of Luzerne County being the laughingstock around Pennsylvania and the nation because people can’t control themselves in a public manner. It’s very frustrating,” Haas said.
• Brominski questioned if Haas was referring to him, and Haas said he was not naming anyone.
“You’d better not,” Brominski said.
• Haas said he recently toured the county’s 911 center in Hanover Township and was very impressed with the technology and staff.
• Applications are being accepted for two positions at the county prison — classification specialist ($35,000) and correctional officer ($28,155). Job descriptions are available on the county website, www.luzernecounty.org. The first review of applicants is Dec. 31.
• County officials encouraged citizens to apply for vacant unpaid seats on county boards and authorities. The application form is on the county website.