Your Tax Dollars at Waste

Back in April, I submitted a public records request to the Franklin County Auditor and looked at recent raises given to County administrators. Most of what I saw was only remarkable in that it revealed bureaucratic restraint during a recession. But, as a past employee of the Clerk of Courts, I was disappointed to find that Clerk O’Shaughnessy had made some transparently bad decisions: hiring additional staff in her Administration office while giving hefty raises to the Chief Deputy.

Now that two months have passed, I thought I’d follow up with the Auditor for any recent Clerk of Courts staffing changes. Check out the Excel file from the Auditor, if you’d like. Even given what I saw in April (view Excel source), I was a little disgusted.

Title Hourly Rate, 03-17-2009 Hourly Rate, 03-16-2010 Difference [%] Hourly Rate, 06-09-2010 Difference [%] Annual Salary as of 06-09-2010
Chief Deputy $42.17 $45.87 $3.70 [8.77%] $50.87 $5.00 [10.9%] $105,809.60
Director of Business Operations N/A $37.22 (New position) $31.25 -$5.97 [-16.04%] $65,000.00
Dealer Services Liaison N/A N/A (New position) $36.06 (New position) $75,004.80

The “Dealer Services Liaison” is a second new Admin position created since Maryellen O’Shaughnessy took office roughly 18 months ago. Combined with the “Director of Business Operations” role added earlier this year, that’s $140,000 annually in new administrative salaries. During the same period, the salary of the Clerk’s top administrator has skyrocketed: it’s 20.63% higher than it was last March.

The current Chief Deputy has worked for the Clerk since April 20, 2009. What’s the biggest pay increase you’ve ever received after one year at a job? When was the last time you got a ten percent raise? This, in an industry where there is no competition… unless you count the more than 100 front counter, file room, and data-entry clerks paid less than $30,000 a year whose raises (or lack of raises) come out of the same pot. Strange behavior for a Secretary of State candidate endorsed by every union in the book.

From late 2005 to late 2007, I was an employee in the Clerk’s IT department. I got along with nearly everyone (as far as I know). I have no desire to drag the office through the mud, but one of the awful things about creeping bureaucracy is that it’s tough for outsiders to know what elected officials and the big-shots who follow them around actually do. How can you criticize administrator salaries when you don’t know who’s pulling the weight in an agency?

I know who’s pulling the weight at the Clerk of Courts, and it’s not the Clerk. This is generally acceptable, with an understanding that the Chief Deputy oversees day-to-day operations and coordinates inter-agency projects. Really, elected officials need only achieve a few things: hire competent administrators, make a handful of important decisions, and speak clearly to the public about what they’re up to. If an elected official bumps an unelected administrator to a six-figure salary while creating new positions which insulate said administrator from anything resembling $100,000 worth of work, the elected official has failed.

This November I’ll almost certainly be voting for Maryellen O’Shaughnessy’s Republican opponent, Jon Husted, for Secretary of State. This would have been the case even if I hadn’t seen the irresponsible way Clerk O’Shaughnessy rewards her administrative staff. But, having never met O’Shaughnessy, the data from the Auditor tell us two things:

  1. Clerk O’Shaughnessy doesn’t hold taxpayers in very high esteem.
  2. Clerk O’Shaughnessy is not especially conscientious.

I can only assume O’Shaughnessy thought nobody would notice. So much for that.

[Update: It gets worse.]

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