Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton has been facing more criticism as he settles into his position and makes decisions and recommendations, but several council members offered praise for his overall performance to date during last week's council meeting.
Councilman Jim Bobeck, who is highly supportive of Lawton's efforts to date, said he worries the pressure-cooker environment will scare away the manager.
Sometimes after these (council) meetings, I call up Lawton at 9 a.m. the next morning just to make sure he came to work, Bobeck said.
Lawton is nearing his 10-month anniversary as the first permanent manager under home rule – a position requiring him to run day-to-day operations.
The 2012 budget didn't earmark funds for eight division heads required by home rule, and council members have differing opinions on how much reporting and information they expect from the manager.
Councilman Eugene Kelleher said the manager is doing an excellent job.
Is he perfect? There's nobody in this room who is perfect. I'll tell you that right now, and that includes me, he said.
Kelleher said Lawton is a highly intelligent guy.
I'm glad we have him as our county manager, he said.
Councilman Rick Williams referred to Lawton's lengthy and detailed reports on the proposed 2013 budget and personnel statistics.
I think our manager has done an outstanding job. It is a prodigious effort to put together this document, Williams said.
He said Lawton handles many job duties unknown to council.
I think that as a council, probably one of the best decisions we have made is to hire Bob Lawton, Williams said.
Councilwoman Linda McClosky Houck thanked Lawton for presenting the budget in a format that allowed council to analyze finances.
Councilman Harry Haas praised Lawton for his hard work preparing budgetary reports.
If you look back where we were a year ago, this would not have taken place, and home rule government is succeeding. It's working, we're just taking these incremental steps, and that's what it's all about, Haas said.
Councilwoman Elaine Maddon Curry said there are some disappointments and disagreements, but she believes Lawton and council all want this new government to succeed.
I'd also like to thank Bob Lawton. I have never seen a budget with the attention to detail and the way that he dissected it and presented it to us, she said.
Council member Stephen J. Urban offered a different viewpoint, saying the administration and some of his council colleagues don't take advantage of all opportunities to reduce expenses.
I'd be glad to give you some pointers, mister manager, if you ever need any from the private sector side, on how to find ways to save money, Urban said.