Money trumps good sense

If you had any doubt about money being the root of all political evil, you need only look at the payroll of the Youngstown clerk of courts, Sarah Brown Clark. It will take your breath away.

And, it will explain why Brown Clark is so stridently opposed to any change in the status quo when it comes to the city municipal court system.

Indeed, the payroll of the three-judge court is just as obscene — given that Youngstown is financially stagnant, at best.

But the refusal to face reality isn’t confined to the criminal justice system. Four members of city council, in a move that could only be described as idiotic, voted in favor of a resolution urging the Ohio General Assembly not to eliminate a judgeship that is vacant. Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. has retired.

Fortunately, the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O’Connor, who has studied the Youngstown situation, advised Gov. John Kasich not to appoint a successor to Douglas. Thus far, the governor has followed the chief justice’s advice and has said that the General Assembly should eliminate the position. That would still leave two full-time judges in a city with a declining population, a shrinking tax base and a court caseload that is one of the lowest among communities of comparable populations.

Maintaining the status quo does not make sense until the payrolls of the court and the clerk of courts office are taken into consideration.

They show the corrupting influence of money.

Total compensation

In looking at the payroll spreadsheets, it is important to not only focus on the salaries. Add the special pay, pension contribution, dental and medical insurance premium, Medicare contribution and worker’s compensation premium and you’re looking at buckets of taxpayer dollars being poured into the public trough.

Since Brown Clark is leading the campaign to preserve the status quo, let’s look at her annual compensation.

Her pay is $96,985 a year. The city picks up 60 percent of it, while the rest comes from the county. Regardless, it’s all taxpayer money.

But here’s the kick in the pants for private sector workers who are barely holding on to their jobs, have been forced to accept cuts in benefits and aren’t guaranteed company pensions:

The clerk of courts is the recipient of $540 a year in special pay; $14,095 in pension contribution; $6,612 in health insurance coverage; $852 in Medicare contribution; and, $1,028 in worker’s compensation premium.

The county also pays $9,301 a year toward her pension and another $562 toward her Medicare.

It all adds up to a whopping $129,975 a year — compliments of the taxpayers.

By comparison, the median income of a family of four in Youngstown is about $24,000 a year. What about their benefit package? Now that’s funny.

As for the two judges in the municipal court, here’s their story:

Robert Milich — Salary of $114,100, of which the city pays $37,050, the county $24,700, and the state $52,350. For his pension, the city pays $8,892, while the state comes in with $12,564 and the county $5,928; dental and medical, $16,668 from the city; Medicare, a grand total of $1,655 ($537 from the city, $359 from the county and $759 from the state); $648 in worker’s comp premium paid by the city.

So when you add Milich’s salary and all the trinkets paid for by the taxpayers, he’s raking in an eye-popping $164,455.

Judge Elizabeth Kobly, who is the presiding judge, gets a slightly higher salary, but her dental and medical insurance contribution from the city is less than her colleague’s because she has single coverage.

Pick pockets

Picking the public’s pockets doesn’t stop with Clerk of Courts Brown Clark and judges Milich and Kobly. A goodly number of their employees are also making out like bandits.

The total outlay for the Youngstown Municipal Court is $2,055,000 — which reflects only the city’s share of what the judges receive. There are 50 court employees.

For the clerk of courts office, the city shells out $1,871,000. There are 31 employees in the office.

It should be clear by now that the strident opposition to the elimination of the Youngstown Municipal Court and the clerk of courts office is being driven by greed and self-preservation.

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