The Freeholders discussed restructuring at a county level, looking for cost savings and efficiency. Needless to say, the political appointees whose positions might be affected are concerned.
The Cumberland County freeholders opted to proceed with discussions of restructuring county departments at the board’s work session on Tuesday evening.
The six county department heads whose positions had been targeted by the board’s Republican leadership in January had been issued new Rice notices, pertaining to personnel matters, prior to Tuesday’s work session.
Jim Matlock, whose leadership of the OEM/911 Call center has resulted in numerous federal investigations and as yet to be calculated cost for defense was the most vocal, singing the blues.
“The perception will be that this is a vote of no confidence. If this is based on performance, you have to let me know; if this is political, we need to know that, too,” said Department of Public Safety Director Jim Matlock. “I have no political affiliation — I interviewed for my position and was picked as the best candidate of 13. …You don’t reward someone who’s good at their job by posting their job.”
Yes, Jim, you interviewed. Everyone interviews so that the process appears to be aboveboard. Every intelligent person knows that these interviews are courtesies and have absolutely no impact on the decision to hire, when that decision was predetermined in a backroom meeting.
Kirstein also noted that the Republicans “had a right as the ruling party on Jan. 1 to fire everyone” but sought to be “more fair than what happened before against us.” Matlock, however, stated that the move was setting precedent and that an employee had not previously “been pushed out to make room for another person” at the county level.
Kirstein was absolutely correct that it would have been within the rights of the new leadership to simply fire every political appointee without reason or cause. And it would have been within their right to hire their own political hacks to replace the vacant positions. And Matlock was absolutely wrong in claiming that no employee had ever been pushed out – under the Lou Magazzu regime that was common practice. Not only is Matlock unable to properly run his departments in an efficient manner, but he gets a failing grade in County History 101.
Now I get what he is trying to say; productive employees should not have to fear for their jobs every time there is an administrative change on county government. And I could not agree more. However, that must be based on the premise that the people in those positions were the most qualified to begin with, and not hired simply due to political affiliation or family relations.
I am cautiously optimistic that the Republican leadership is attempting to do the right thing. You don’t release an employee that is qualified and performing their job efficiently simply because you don’t like them, or they are of the wrong political party. To do so would be simply to be as corrupt as the CCDO has been for at least the last three decades and continues to be to this day.
You can be assured that MWatch will be keeping a close watch on these matters.