Lawton dismisses Carolee Medico Olenginski
Last Modified: February 17. 2013 12:26AM
Medico Olenginski said she received a dismissal letter from Lawton this morning and was instructed to pack up her belongings.
Lawton said in the letter that Medico Olenginski is not working toward the home rule mandate of uniting the prothonotary's office with clerk of courts.
"Although I respect your philosophical dissent from home rules's application to the former row officers, I do not share it. Neither can I permit you, when acting under the manager's executive authority, to impede advancement of the charter's mandates," Lawton wrote.
Medico Olenginski publicly complained Thursday that her deputy, Art Bobbuine, was directing staff to assist in the clerk of courts office without her input or knowledge.
Lawton assigned Bobbouine last month to oversee the clerk of courts office, saying Interim Clerk of Courts Tom Pizano is tied up with election matters filling in as election director.
Medico Olenginski accepted Lawtonâ??s special assignment to examine document handling in all offices and come up with recommendations to reduce paper and increase public information through technology.
But Medico Olenginski said she was never told she would lose management control of her office by taking the assignment.
She said Bobbouine issued a memo to staff on Aug. 27 with letterhead identifying himself as â??clerk of courts/prothonotary offices.â? She also obtained memos about office staffing decisions that were never copied to her.
The new home rule charter eliminated the prothonotary along with all elected row officer posts except for the controller and district attorney.
Medico Olenginski, who receives $36,562 annually, and Register of Wills Dorothy Stankovic, who is paid $38,562, are guaranteed compensation through the end of 2013, when their elected terms expire.
Medico Olenginski said she won't give up the pay because she was elected to the post and was willing to continue working for the compensation.
"At this time, your sole function and entitlement is to receive your salary and benefits through the remainder of your elected term," Lawton wrote.
Medico Olenginski said she was willing to provide assistance to eliminate clerk of court backlogs and join the two offices but said the decision of others to pull staff from her office has already caused record processing delays in her office.
In the dismissal letter, Lawton said county voters "spoke in overwhelming fashion" adopting the new government.
"Realizing the charter's vision of a unified Division of Judicial Services and Records is a duty entrusted to us by the county council and the residents of Luzerne County," Lawton wrote.
Lawton said he allowed Medico Olenginski the opportunity to get involved in a "workable, joint approach" to the consolidation of the two offices and elimination of the clerk of courts backlog.
"Your communications on the matter since then, however, give me no reason to believe that you are fully committed to contributing to a solution on terms other than your own," he wrote.