The Onondaga County government employs 3322 people, making it the fourth largest employer in the county. However, that fact is kept secret from the citizens. The county, on its official website, reports the largest employers as—
1 Upstate University Health System 7,935
2 Syracuse Univesity [sic] 6,504
3 Wegmans [sic] 4,100
4 St. Joseph’s Hospital Center 3,142
5 Crouse Hospital 2,700
The City of Syracuse, on its website, reports the same five largest employers, only reversing the order of Wegman’s and St. Joseph’s. Wikipedia is using exactly the same figures as the City of Syracuse. The Post-Standard, in its “Guide to CNY Major Businesses” doesn’t even mention the Onondaga County government as a leading employer.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the county government has been getting larger and larger, and nobody’s been telling you. Governing you has become big business—and desirable employment. The Onondaga County government is unionized; it gets a cost-of-living wage, guaranteed pension, nine holidays, medical insurance, and a very good salary. How much, you ask?
The starting salary for an Onondaga County Clerk I is $27,000 a year. For a kid flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, it is $16,512. For a person on Social Security, it is $9852. In other words, the entry-level clerk’s hourly wage is $13.00. The kid’s hourly minimum wage is $8.00. My hourly income is $2.80.
At this point, I need to go get a drink. Sixty-seven years of life experience and the author of two blogs with 84,000 views last year and all I’m worth is $2.80 an hour? If you figure a 40-hour week then that means that my blogs get viewed 40 times an hour AT A RATE OF $0.07 PER VIEW! Sheesh, are you getting a bargain, or what? How about we do something serious about you paying me for all my (a) hard work, (b) wisdom, and (c) decades of accrued courage to say what’s true without regard to the consequences? What’s it worth to you? Would you subscribe at $25/year?
Well anyway—back to the county, which is not reporting that it is the fourth-largest employer in Onondaga County. I, personally, think it is absolutely insane to hire so many people to govern us. Frankly, I think we could take care of ourselves by ourselves a whole lot better. Back in the day when I was an Onondaga County employee, the way it worked was that a commissioner or department director would want to put his sister/neighbor/accountant on the county payroll, so he would go to the Personnel Director, who would ask what he was going to get in exchange, and then the Personnel Department would engineer getting approval for a new job item in the county budget and the relative/friend/accountant would have a new job with Civil Service protection and lots of benefits.
One way for an elected official to get more votes is to put his people on the government payroll, even if he has to create a new job to do it. In fact, there are so many ways to manipulate the hiring that at any given time it is highly probable that the county employee with whom you are currently speaking is totally unqualified for her job—for example, the bloody fool with whom I spoke today. I don’t know her name but the Personnel Department does—but we’ll get to that later.
It starts with the fact that on Monday, December 30, Adult Protective Service called Long Term Care and told them that I—having just spent eight months on complete bed rest and total care in hospital and nursing home—was now back home and needed help.
A week later three county employees—a nurse, a case worker, and one other—spent two hours inspecting my home and interrogating me on every detail of my life. I would guess that this little invasion of my privacy cost the taxpayers $250 in direct salary plus benefits. And here’s the question: WHAT DID YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY? Did you get compassionate care for one of your poor, sick neighbors? Did you get the poor old lady’s apartment cleaned or her furniture moved back in?
Of course not, you big silly. You got nothing. Zero, zilch, zip. You paid; you got nothing in return. You forked over a bunch of money to the county government. They used it to pay three women who pocketed it and didn’t provide any service. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are an Onondaga County loser who has just been ripped off!
Onondaga County has done some reorganization. Various departments, possibly involving the Department of Social Services, have been shuffled and reassembled thus creating a new county agency called the Department of Adult & Long Term Care Services. It covers “Aging . Mental Health . NY Connects . Protective Services . Veterans” and the commissioner is Robert Long. Lisa Alford and Barry Beck are deputy commissioners. Joanne Spoto-Decker is head of something, exactly what being unclear. Under her is Marge Owens, nurse supervisor, and under her is Mary Douglas, case manager.
Marge told me that I had been approved for 14 hours a week of aide care and that my case had been put on the call-out list to eight agencies. Today is February 28; I have been waiting for aide service since December 30. Two months. Nothing. Zero-zilch-zip. Consequently, my health is failing. Badly.
Last week I called Deputy Commissioner Barry Beck, who was troubled by my situation and said he would get back to me the next day. I never heard from him again.
He called Director Joanne Spoto-Decker, who called me that afternoon. Unfortunately, I was out getting a treatment so Joanne (we’ve known each other a long time) left a message saying she’d call me back. I never heard from her again.
Marge Owens sent me a message that hereafter I should deal with Mary Douglas, the lowest county employee involved in my case.
When I asked Mary Douglas why the agencies weren’t picking me up, she said she didn’t know. When I suggested that she ask them, she sounded surprised by the concept of this information-gathering strategy.
That was last week.
(To be continued, God willing and the creek don’t rise.)