Surely, our new Luzerne County Council would never hire a county manager who does not have his own financial affairs in order.
Having said that, we’ll reserve judgment on The Citizens’ Voice’s big scoop that the “preferred candidate” to manage the county is a management analyst from California. The Voice also reported that another finalist is a former deputy county administrator from South Carolina whom was fired from his job.
The council members, who have remained mum on the finalists for this very important and powerful position, have said that the top three candidates are all top notch. So we all need to wait for more information because, frankly, the Voice’s article was cause for a little concern.
The “preferred candidate,” according to the Voice’s anonymous sources is Robert Lawton, a principal management analyst for Solano County in central California. Sounds good so far, but then county Controller Walter Griffith stepped in and burst our balloon.
Walter told the Voice that Lawton told him that not only was he a finalist but that he also had problems making mortgage payments on properties he owned.
Why in the world would anyone vying for the top management job in Luzerne County reveal that he can’t make his own mortgage payments to someone not even on the selection committee? Did he mention this to the incoming council members or just to Walter?
Griffith said he’s not saying Mr. Lawton isn’t qualified, just that he didn’t “know the history of his foreclosure,” noting that he ”would be in charge of a $121 million budget.”
Who said anything about foreclosures?
Griffith also expressed concern that Mr. Lawton may be unable to obtain bonding from an insurer. To that we say, if that minor detail doesn’t concern the council, maybe Walter should take a chill pill.
Transition committee Chairman Jim Bobeck responded that Griffith’s comments were “a mischaracterization of information.” If that is true, Griffith has done a disservice to the Citizens Voice’s readers by spreading innuendo and to Mr. Lawton himself.
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine that the incoming council, whose every move will be watched, would botch up its first critical duty.
Then again, who can forget the time the county commissioners trumpeted its hiring of a new human resources director, whom The Times Leader later outed as a shop lifter?
Well, at least for now, the county seems to be in good hands with the interim appointment of former county budget and finance chief, Tom Pribula.
Let’s hope that we can say the same about the permanent appointee.
- Betty Roccograndi