Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2017
press photo by bernie o’hareWires for a timeclock dangle outside Northampton County DA John Morganelli’s office. press photo by bernie o’hareWires for a timeclock dangle outside Northampton County DA John Morganelli’s office.

DA says no to courthouse time clocks

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by Bernie O’Hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Many Northampton County employees who work at the jail and at Gracedale already punch timeclocks. But John Brown wants to use them countywide, including at the courthouse and at the Human Services building. HR Director Amy Trapp has argued they will reduce paperwork, save time and even be beneficial for employees in the long run. But employees resent them. They find the practice degrading, and feel that being compelled to supply their fingerprint for a biometric device is an infringement of their privacy. Brown has forged ahead anyway, and has spent over $30,000 so far for six fingerprint-activated time clocks at the courthouse and human services building. He has done so without agreement from the courts, controller or district attorney. These are independently elected officials.

District Attorney John Morganelli has tangled with previous executives over the right to run his own office as he sees fit. In 2013, he sued then County Executive John Stoffa over his right to promote employees, and won. The Home Rule Charter gives him express authority “to appoint, promote, transfer, demote,suspend, dismiss or otherwise discipline his own staff.” When returning to his office from court, he recently noticed some of the county’s maintenance team banging away part of the wall outside his office and stringing in blue wires. He was told they were for time clocks, something he had already told the Brown administration he opposed.

Morganelli fired off an email to Brown and Human Resources Director Trapp, making clear that he would refuse to have his staff punch time clocks. Five days later, he received an email from Trapp, asking to discuss the matter, and assuring him that he, his assistants and detectives would be exempt. He also bumped into Administrator Cathy Allen, who was coming to the courthouse at 10 am, and she told him that time clocks are a federal requirement.

Morganelli checked. The Code of Federal Regulations specifically states, “Time clocks are not required.” So he send Trapp a second email, making clear that he will refuse to make his staff use time clocks. He said morale in his office is good, and added, “I am not fixing something here that is not broken.”

In an interview, Morganelli said his office has had about $100 in overtime over the past five years.

Though Brown officials refuse to comment on this matter publicly, the following comment appeared on a local blog.

“These entitled spoiled brat government employees need to get on board. If they don’t want to punch a clock at the Northampton County courthouse let them quit and punch a clock elsewhere. Hey, here’s an idea. Don’t punch the time clock and when there’s no money in your account on pay day, bet they’ll start punching a time clock! And as for Morganelli maybe he has more important things to be concerned about. And to the person who made the idiotic statement.”

That comment was intended to be anonymous, but was posted under the name Dan Trapp, who happens to be Amy Trapp’s husband. Trapp admitted the comment came from her husband’s account, but denied she wrote it. She refused to apologize for the slur at county employees or at Morganelli. That evening, Morganelli responded to a murder in Palmer Township and worked until late evening, assisting officers and ensuring that the charging documents were properly prepared. The next day, a Friday, he was at the courthouse at around 8 a.m., and put in a full day. He joked that he forgot to punch his time clock.