There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Jerry Greene, and he’s been busy.
In Austintown, he opened a new satellite office for the Mahoning County Sheriff Department’s Senior Services Unit.
He’s established a new set of fees to drive more revenues for county services, including:
A $40 reception fee to be charged to newly convicted and sentenced county jail inmates that should amount to $40,000 to $60,000 in annual revenue;
A $175 filing fee for bank foreclosures, expected to raise $200,000 annually;
A $25 sex-offender registration fee, expected to raise up to $15,000 annually;
Fees for criminal background checks, expected to raise $20,000 to $30,000 annually.
But the most important decision of his new leadership — the one the public will care about most — was presented to him this week:
What to do with Deputy Ken O’Rourke? He was arrested on a charge of DUI after crashing his car last Sunday and damaging two other cars when he rolled off Raccoon Road. His blood-alcohol level was .242 — not even a horseshoe’s throw close to sober.
New Mahoning County Engineer Pat Ginnetti is also into his first round of decisions.
The list is a lot less sexy than the crime and punishment world of a new county sheriff.
It’s why Hollywood legend John Wayne never played a county engineer:
“I’m the engineer in this town, pal, and this asphalt pile is not big enough for the two of us ....”
But Ginnetti’s list is no less vital to taxpayers.
It thankfully includes remaking Walker Mill Road, which is just slightly better than driving over a cheese grater.
Other roads are on the list as well. That fewer funds are causing fewer roads to be fixed is hardly Ginnetti’s toughest decision.
The toughest was hiring a guy who just one year ago pleaded guilty to stealing from the Ohio Turnpike Authority, his employer for about two decades.
The Valley’s government history is not without good decisions and practices. Yet what has overshadowed the successes are persistently bad personnel moves.
Ultimately, personnel moves have a way of distinguishing one’s leadership agenda.
So when a leader fails at either personnel or personal actions, that failure seems to linger more than, say, a flawed road project or jail inner-workings.
Greene and Ginnetti are in the dawn of new regimes and both are taking over posts with unique public profiles.
Their terms may combine to open many jail cells and create autobahns out of sections of Western Reserve Road.
But how they hire, fire, promote and manage their employees will be what many taxpayers will measure most come re-election time.
It wasn’t just Republican fervor that fueled SB5.
There were taxpayers — both Democrat and Republican — who were simply frustrated with government workforce activities.
The frustration has settled a bit. But it would be foolish to think it’s not simmering just under the surface.
Ginnetti did not help himself with his hire.
Greene is next up with a problem deputy.
Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs, too, on Vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.