It’s usually difficult to get information out of the Schuylkill County Courthouse.
Remember when we simply tried to get a copy of the 2022 County budget?
And we’ll never forget the debacle on how it spent that CARES Act funding in 2020. The Commissioners and other officials didn’t say boo about that cash until months after it had to be spent. When they finally disclosed how they’re saying it was spent, they only punched more holes in their own story.
They’ve yet to fill those holes and now they’re on to hiding how they’ll spend way more than the CARES Act funding with the money they’re getting from the American Rescue Plan.
They do this because they clearly don’t want the public to know how the money’s being spent until after it’s spent. And even then, you can’t get a straight story out of any of them at the Courthouse.
Selective Transparency from Schuylkill County Public Officials
But that’s not the case when they think they’re in the right. Then – and these are rare occasions – and only then will you get Schuylkill County officials to bust open the books and let you see some real numbers.
Oddly, Schuylkill County voters only get this sort of transparency when they’re firing people, apparently.
The latest precious moment of transparency from the folks at the Courthouse came on Tuesday. The meeting Agenda for the March 9 Commissioners meeting has more financial detail than we’ve ever seen from them in regard to how much the County’s going to have to pay to Experian for credit monitoring of more than 9,000 people.
Now, if you missed the original story, you may want to check it out here: Schuylkill Commissioners Will Try Again To Fire 2 Jane Does From Courthouse Jobs On Snooping Allegations
But in the interest of time, here’s the story in a nutshell:
The Commissioners want to fire 2 women who are among 4 suing several Courthouse officials for sexual misconduct. They’ve been trying to get them out of their jobs since the lawsuit was filed. First, they planned a major overhaul of their jobs at the Tax Office in the Courthouse. Then, they came up with this accusation of that 2 of the 4 women had conducted more than 9,000 “unauthorized searches” of personal records on the LexisNexis software.
They were able to reach that conclusion after they’d previously tried to fire these women for the same thing back in November but couldn’t get a vote together because one person who’d vote on it has a conflict of interest. That’s Commissioner George Halcovage.
So, to make it appear somewhat legit, the Commissioners hired an outside law firm – a firm they’ll say is “independent” – to conduct an investigation and determine through the course of that investigation if what they say these women did was a violation punishable by termination.
It should come as no surprise, that after 4 months, that firm apparently came back with a determination that yes, it is something that you can fire them for.
Showing You Their Work
But that’s not enough for the Commissioners. They don’t just want to fire these women; they want to humiliate them. And they’re willing to give up the one thing they seem to value more than anything: financial secrecy.
You remember when teachers made you “show your work” in math class. And unless you were a math nerd, you rolled your eyes or argued with the teacher.
Well, in this case, the County Courthouse is filled with math nerds.
So, rather than you worrying about why 2 women at the Courthouse may be looking up your personal information on LexisNexis, they want you to know how much this is going to cost the County as they try to play the part of Good Guy.
To do so, right on the Agenda that’s previously disclosed almost no detailed financial data, they show their work in full. They almost had to go to the back of the paper to get it all on.
We snipped the pertinent part of the Agenda below, but here’s what it says:
- These “unauthorized searches” the 2 women allegedly did total 9,146 in number.
- At the very least, the County expects to pay $63,843.11 to Experian to offer those 9,146 people credit monitoring for 2 years. We usually have to fill out a Right to Know form to get that kind of detail but they must be feeling generous because wait, there’s more:
- Of that $63,843.11, an estimated $16,005.50 will go to paying a call center to make 9,146 phone calls to people caught up in these “unauthorized searches” at $1.75 a phone call.
- Each of those 9,146 people will also get information in the mail about the alleged search activity. That’s going to cost about $11,853.30 to cover a $1,250 set-up fee and another $1,000 set-up fee for an additional 2 notices sent by mail. That comes to $1.05 a letter for 9,146 letters.
- And then there’s the continuous credit monitoring, which will cost about another $35,984.31. You can see the breakdown of that cost in the Agenda below.
And while that $63,843.11 is just an estimate, the County wanted to be sure to let you know that this debacle could end up costing taxpayers a total of $277,894.41. They put that number in BOLD, too, so you didn’t miss it.
You got us all this transparency and we didn’t get you anything …
If the County made this type of transparency the norm, you’d rightfully think nothing of it. But this is odd.
However, it’s only odd if you didn’t notice another pattern here. When it comes to dumping problem employees, it appears to the powers in charge at the Schuylkill County Courthouse live to dunk on them.