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‘You’re damn right I ordered the raises’

Published: Sun, February 13, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

The business of public employment is taking a beating — around the country, in Columbus and even down at the Mahoning County Commission.

And, also, in this space the past couple of weeks.

It appears draconian in some ways, if you watch the agendas of governors such as John Kasich here or Chris Christie in New Jersey.

To be fair, there is ample evidence of thousands of workers doing great service, extending great care and, in some cases, making great concessions to serve their communities and schools.

But to their detriment, some leaders in too many of those organizations just do not get it. I believe this of the cities, counties, courts and schools. And I believe this of the leadership at the elected, management and union levels.

Draconian, sadly, may be the only way to get some of them to get it. “Them” was on display this week in Mahoning County.

While Kasich tackled public-union strength in Columbus, and Christie fired 71 Jersey sewer commissioners, we tried to understand how our elected officials handed out 10-, 15- and 20-percent pay raises to already top-paid managers.

County Engineer Richard Marsico was first this week to explain. He said that of the $70,000 in January pay raises, only $35,000 was truly for pay raises. The other $35,000 in extra wages actually was rolling into managers’ wages their existing expenses for clothes, boots and cell phones.

Those are typically expenses that, in the private sector, you want tracked.

More specifically to our current economic climate, those are expenses that often are discontinued to tighten spending.

But in Marsico’s form of government, those expenses are not tracked, and instead are buried into wages — which coincidentally contributes to a sweeter pension accumulation and payout upon retirement.

More troubling is that the reimbursements for clothes and boots have gone to engineers’ clerical workers, and the money was automatic and never verified that it truly was used for clothes, boots or phones.

If Marsico owned Marsico & Marsico Engineering Co., this would be solely his choice. But as he owns part of the $3 per gallon of gas we fill up with every minute of every day, I think the majority of us would disagree with his logic or methodology.

Though Marsico’s explanation was troubling, county Prosecutor Paul Gains was downright entertaining (while still being troubling).

To frame his presentation — and I think the eight of us in attendance would agree, picture Jack Nicholson on the witness stand in “A Few Good Men.”

The vision still in my head is Nicholson at the trial, and he’s yelling “You’re damn right I ordered the pay raises!”

Gains’ presentation even shared Nicholson’s themes of workers attacking crime and disgust that most people would rather not face.

All true. All righteous. But the court diatribe falls short in the bigger picture of overall county operations and laid-off deputies and $32,000-salary child-welfare workers and 10 percent unemployment and sluggish retail on U.S. 224 and ... .

In defending his criminal convictions, his caseload and his countywide role, Gains was Tom Cruise-like and accurate. In discussing his fiscal operations, he was not.

Two examples to illustrate the challenge of doing business with Gains and his staff:

When a commissioner interrupted a point Gains was winding his way through, Gains snapped: “Don’t interrupt me, please. I didn’t do it to you.”

Welllll ... he did. At least four or five times before that moment.

The most humorous of which was when Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti was winding her way through a spending history to which she was, I think, going to get to a question.

Gains started answering her narrative. Didn’t wait for her question. Commissioner John McNally IV tried to slow down Gains. But you don’t slow down "Colonel Nathan R. Jessep .... United States Marine Corps ... Guantanamo Bay Naval Base .... Cuba."

Second example: Linette Stratford, who is Gains’ chief of the civil division, tried to chime in a couple of times. She got “The Hand” brush off from Gains, as well as a couple of dismissive “Quiet Linette!” lines.

The exchanges were hardly horrific. They just were not conference-table, but more kitchen-table — if you grew up in the ’50s belief that one gender had a lesser role.

What all of this adds up to — I have no idea.

It’s clearly difficult to have a discussion with Gains about his business. You can certainly listen to him.

Commissioners quietly did and will take up the issue this Tuesday.

The structure of county operations is such that, though all 20 elected officials share in one funding source — us — they will spend it with 20 different value measures, knowing we won’t be able to keep score of all of them.

Some will spend it as they see fit, regardless of the economic and employment realities faced by us.

They lose score of their spending because ultimately, they are not pulling it out of their own wallet like a private business owner does.

That’s a truth they truly can’t handle.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes e-mails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.


1author50(1121 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Todd - keep the scruitny coming.I giuess you can add being "Gainesed" to be being "Tablacked" and "Dellicked".

I sure wish Kenner (Marscio is the puppet - everyone knows Kenner runs the office) would have put that boot money into filling in some pot holes.

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2Jadedpast(19 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Another case of an arrogant politician/lawyer!
Damn right it's our money!

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago



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4mishmash(333 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Hopefully the RAISES max out at 22%.... thanks for capping those!

Franko better watch his step..... the GAINS GANG gonna look close at you for some upcoming indictments..... you'll be looking at a grand jury & one of their Prosecutor cronies from another county that rides a Harley....

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5mrblue(1175 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Great article. Keep digging and keep us informed. I have said many times that Gaines is an arrogant ___and as far as Marsico is concerned, isn't he already double-dipping? How much is enough? These two have got to go. The commissioners need to act and quickly to put a stop to this assault on the tax-payers. If they don't act on our behalf, then they to, need to go.

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6pnmndd(1 comment)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

I enjoy your column every Sunday, and this one made me laugh out loud. I can't believe how out of touch these guys are. I guess they just "can't handle the truth" that the taxpayers in the private sector are fed up with these kind of stunts. I just hope EVERYONE remembers this when the next election rolls around. We don't have the room for such inflated egos.

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7ytown1(398 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

@ hoodrathunt

"Bigger question is who is going to take Gains on and beat him at the polls?"

"Jay Macejko we need you to run against Paul Gains. Get your campaign started."

I do not know how the Vindicator could endorse Macejko either, doesn't he have Cafaro written all over himself? The Cafaro backing of Atty Yavorcik did not go very well, so they went looking for a better mouthpiece to defeat Paul this time.

hoodrathunt be careful what you wish for?

Yes Todd, we do appreciate your tenacity for outing the issues concerning giving out raises with these county offices, Now I ask you to out the issues with the Boardman Township officials that have a innate ability to spend us into the ditch especially the re elected trustee Costello, maybe it is time to dig a little deeper digging into the why's and how's Boardman Township has gotten into this situation. The taxpayers all could use some real education on this. Looking forward to your next article on the Township.

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81970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Is it fair the way you have characterized the person who has a 22% increase in her pay?
She apparently has an entirely new job. It does not appear she got one of those "I'm your buddy, so here is a raise with fancy new title and do the same work" deals.

Assuming she truly filled a vacant position, and did not get a new job made up for her, shouldn't you be comparing what previous person in that position made to what she is going to make?

If person before her made same as what she is getting, there is no BUDGET increase and therefore no real reason to be up in arms over her salary.

Be fair, compare apples to apples, and report based on what that POSITION makes, not the individual who has moved up.

If she was coming from different office and the POSITION did not get an increase, there'd be no story whatsoever.

Now if the POSITION had an increase in pay, then you are correct.

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9seminole(476 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Gain's is an arrogant, pompous ass that spews his rhetoric to try to defend the raises. Keep plea dealing and allowing probations and then tell us how effective you and your crack staff perform, you jackass...

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10grand4dad(218 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

1970mach1 is absolutely correct regarding the person who got the 22% increase. You do need to compare apples to apples. If you take a promotion and go to a new job with higher level responsibilities, you deserve an increase. And 22% might not be out of line depending on what the person did in their old job versus what they are doing in the new job. But I also agree with you Tod on most of the other points of your article. Keep digging and reporting these abuses but also be fair.
And as for the comment by seminole, well said.

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111970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

315.06 Removal of engineer by civil action.
Any person may bring a civil action in the court of common pleas against the county engineer, alleging such engineer’s incapacity, misconduct in office, or neglect of duty. A copy of the petition with the summons shall be served on such engineer. Such cause shall have precedence over other business, and, if upon trial thereof, the court finds an engineer guilty of any of the charges, by the judgment of the court he shall be removed from office.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

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121970mach1(1005 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

313.06 Duties of coroner and deputies.
The coroner, his deputy, and assistants shall be available at all times for the performance of their duties as set forth in sections 313.01 to 313.22, inclusive, of the Revised Code.

Effective Date: 10-01-1953

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13unhappyvoter1(87 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

had to lay off welfare county workers and sheriff deputies no matter how many years they had to give that money to more management. kills the-----out of me. justice will prevail in the near future. this is not over. people are sick of all of this favoritism and buddy buddy koombas!!!

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14SickofJimbo(140 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

When will the Vindy start writing about Mahoning County making/paying the employee share of PERS? This is wrong and should stop immediately

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15retiredandtired(8 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

My son in law works for Mahoning County Sheriff's Department and has been with the department for 17 years. He only made 35,000 last year with all that experience. I would like to know what private sector worker only makes that much after 17 years in their job. As far as the PERS pick up maybe you should get your facts on what that really is. My son in law pays his own just like a 401k in the private sector when the employer matches. Lower the cost of the goods and quit matching 401k's. Remember as taxpayers, we are paying for services and part of that cost pays for the people who do the service. Just like when the public employee buys something. The cost is inflated to cover the wages of the private company employees and their benefits. My son in law pays for his healthcare, his retirement and his uniforms which are quite expensive, alot more than a business suit on sale. Maybe all the Union employees both private and public should stop buying goods at non union companies. Then they can lose their jobs and have layoffs and shut downs so they can feel what its like. I'm tired of the whining private sector employees had a choice of what job to do, and if you think police officers have it so easy try their job for a week. You'll probably go running back to your private sector job with your tail between your legs!!

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16candystriper(575 comments)posted 5 years, 3 months ago

took just 6 days to fix this road...


why I love money

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