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Hiring triggers Vicites-Cavanagh battle

| Thursday, Sept. 19, 2002

UNIONTOWN - Heated words were exchanged at a Fayette County Salary Board meeting Wednesday between commissioners Sean Cavanagh and Vincent Vicites over hiring a temporary worker.

Cavanagh was upset that a temporary employee was hired to replace a pregnant staffer in the controller's office, while the commissioners weren't replacing Vicites' secretary, who is on the same leave.

Vicites took another secretary from the commissioners' staff, which Cavanagh contended affected the workload for other staffers.

But Vicites said that wasn't so, and he simply wanted to lead by example and show budgetary restraint.

"Next year is going to be tough," he said.

Cavanagh suggested that Vicites was playing politics and wanted to hire people he supported.

"You try to be Mr. Clean in public, and behind the scenes, you're mean," Cavanagh said.

He also accused Vicites of hiring his political supporters.

After the meeting, Controller Mark Roberts suggested that Cavanagh was being hypocritical.

"I find it ironic that Mr. Cavanagh would accuse anyone else of hiring political supporters. Fayette County is littered with his political placements," Roberts said.

While Roberts got his temporary worker, Vicites was able to block another employee's hiring for his office. He said the commissioners must try to keep expenses down to avoid raising taxes next year.

Cavanagh said he's prepared to eliminate some workers now.

"Let's fire them now. Let's cut the crap out of all this courthouse. You add people you have political connections with," he said.

"Don't say that - you're spinning. I want the public to see how you disrespect me," Vicites said.

In other business, the board voted to create a secretarial position at the county prison to assist with inmate classification and transportation.

Inmates are classified, or segregated, to separate hardened criminals from those with lesser charges, or defendants who have not yet been adjudicated.

The new employee also would allow better tracking of prisoners in state and federal prisons who must be brought to the county for court proceedings.

"We had a mess-up today where someone was supposed to be in court today, and he wasn't here," Sheriff Gary Brownfield said.

The board also reclassified several of Brownfield's employees. Two "contract workers" who reported to the sheriff will be hired full time with benefits when the chief deputy sheriff retires.

Brownfield said he would name an acting chief deputy to save salary. And a sheriff's employee will be reclassified as an office manager and receive a $2,500 annual raise.

Brownfield said the moves would provide raises to some important employees and still save the county about $11,000 annually.

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