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Former HSD director charges county officials with 'inappropriate dealing with employees'

Published November 27. 2009 05:00PM

S. Thomas White, former director of the Schuylkill County Human Service Department, whose job was terminated several weeks ago by county commissioners, accused them of "discrimination, inappropriate dealing with employees, retaliation against those not loyal and, dealing in political patronage and violating the affirmative action laws."

The comments were made at the public segment of the Schuylkill commissioners meeting held Wednesday at the courthouse in Pottsville.

White also asked the commissioners if they had looked into the overtime spending by the departments of sheriff and county prison which he said exceeded over $100,000 for each department. The commissioners did not respond to his accusations.

When chairperson Mantura Gallagher asked where he lived, White responded "in Reading." When commissioner Francis McAndrew asked about his status, he replied "former county employee."

Overtime at the prison, caused chiefly by a large number of correctional officers being off sick, has been a frequent topic at commissioners' meetings but no solution has been reached. Overtime has been logged by deputies serving papers on people being sued and transporting prisoners to state institutions. This year, Sheriff Joseph Groody initiated a program of waiting until a number of prisoners have been sentenced by county judges to state institutions before transporting them by bus. He personally drives the bus.

At the conclusion of his remarks, White approached County Solicitor Eric Mika and handed him a letter, which demanded certain information under the Right to Know Act. It stated, "Please note I am requesting information, data and, or documents as listed below, according to the Pennsylvania Right To Know act and I am prepared to pay required fees in accordance with legally prescribed rate."

The information White requested included:

• Copies of the entire sheriff deputies annual base wage rate for the period from year 2004 to November 2009, and copies of the automobile mileage paid each sheriff deputy annually for the same period. He also requested the same information for correctional officers at the county prison;

• Information on the county's dealing with New World Company, pertaining to the controversial computing system installation, which was settled after legal suits were filed. He requested a copy of the original contract and all documents indicating total contract costs for implementation and ongoing maintenance of the proposed system and all costs to the county paid for outside legal counsel related to the project;

• Copies of documents and contracts for funds paid in 2004 to the individual organizations acting as director of the mental health and mental retardation department;

• All documents, including electronic, related to the demolition of buildings approved and paid by the commissioners in 2008;

• All documents, including electronic, that indicate proposed costs and funding for the construction and operation of the proposed prerelease prison center;

• Copies of all costs and payments for the 2008 and 2009 remodeling and installation of all security items in the commissioners and county administrative offices;

• Copies of all prison board meetings for the years 2007 and 2008;

• Copies of all electronic documents in the county's management information system's public folder;

• Copies of all personal action requests requiring approval by the county commissioners and salary board for hiring, transferring, promotion, and termination of county employees for year 2007 and 2008;

• Copies of all advertisements for the recruitment of county employees for the years 2008 and 2009;

• Copies of the annual salaries of current and former employees for the years 2004 through 2007;

• Copies of the political party registrations of employees released by the commissioners over the past number of years, and the names and number of all part time county solicitors receiving full health benefits for themselves and their families and the number of part time employees receiving full health benefits.

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