ShareThis Page
News

Firings cost county more than $320,000

| Friday, Oct. 19, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

Four politically tinged firings by Allegheny County Clerk of Courts George Matta have ended up costing the county about $320,000.

County officials earlier this month settled with two of the workers - Kathy Williamson and Glad Knock, who were both finance assistants in the office - after losing a federal trial this spring involving the two other fired workers, said Sam Cordes, a Downtown lawyer representing the four former employees.

The four all claimed Matta fired them after he took office in January 2000 for supporting his Democratic opponent, former Clerk Joyce Lee Itkin, in a bitter primary election contest the previous spring.

In a settlement in which Matta admitted no wrongdoing, according to his lawyer, Jack Cambest, Williamson got $50,000 and Knock - a former assistant finance director - got $35,000.

This spring, two other former workers won jury trials in U.S. District Court. Reid Stewart and Ron Venturella, who also were assistant finance officers, claimed they were fired for supporting Itkin. Venturella got a $69,000 award and Stewart got a $46,000 award.

Cordes also was awarded about $117,000 in attorney's fees in those two cases.

County Manager Robert Webb said the county will pay $150,000 of total costs from the four cases, with the rest to be covered by insurance.

None will be paid by Matta, who could not be reached for comment.

'This case sends a message that you can't fire workers anymore to make room for your political supporters,' Cordes said.'Patronage is a part of old-time politics, but it has been against the last now for about 15 years.'

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me