UPDATE: Some courthouse officials are saying CityBeat's sources are wrong, and that no decision has been made on who will fill Clancy's former job. The officials say applications were being accepted until Jan. 5, and the judges will decide later. One option would be to keep the position vacant, at least temporarily, to save money. Other sources, however, are saying the selection of Jodie Leis-George and Casey DeNoma to share the job is a "done deal" and courthouse officials are seeking political cover for the choice. We shall see in the weeks to come.
ORIGINAL ITEM: Details are sketchy and hard to come by, but CityBeat has learned the daughter of Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. was recently selected to become the county’s assistant chief probation officer over another longtime employee who critics say is more qualified for the job.
The various judges in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court — most of them Republicans, as is Leis — recently decided to split the job between the sheriff’s daughter and her own assistant. It was awarded to Jodie Leis-George and Casey DeNoma.
After CityBeat published a letter last month by a Hamilton County Probation Department employee listing the work she’s done for the local Republican Party as a reason she should get a promotion, other county workers replied by stating the worker only did so because the “fix” was in to give the job to Leis’ daughter.
Probation Office Supervisor Gwendolyn DaCons Taylor, who is a licensed social worker and has years of experience with the department, was more qualified for the job, the workers said. Among other points, Taylor’s letter to the judges cited such volunteer work as time spent marching in parades, distributing campaign literature and staffing phone banks.
The assistant chief probation officer’s job was previously held by Republican Patricia Clancy, who left it after being elected Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in November. Party leaders arranged that job for Clancy when she agreed to give up her Ohio Senate seat to Bill Seitz, setting off a musical chairs-style series of moves among local GOP officials.
Prior to the recent promotion, Leis-George was assistant director of the Probation Department’s community service program, which assigns defendants into supervised projects as a condition of their community control. Leis-George was appointed to that job in 2007 by the Common Pleas judges.
CityBeat hasn’t yet been able to learn how much Leis-George and DeNoma will make in their new positions.
An anonymous letter writer who identifies her- or himself as a county worker wrote CityBeat recently to explain Taylor’s earlier letter, and to complain about the patronage rampant throughout county government.
“Many of us take great issue with your criticism of a probation office supervisor who, last week, sought only to present her credentials to the judges of the Common Pleas Court and asked nothing in return but to be considered for a position,” the letter states. “At least she was willing to present her credentials. Most people who get jobs in this county don’t have credentials, they only have connections. They get moved into high-paying jobs with no more than a handshake to close the ‘deal.’”
The most recent letter, alas, is only partially correct.
While Taylor does list her advanced degree in social work as one qualification for the promotion, the bulk of her initial letter to the judges details all the volunteer campaign work she’s done for various local Republican candidates.
Still, the recent letter defending Taylor’s actions said it’s necessary to offset the “old boy’s network” that permeates Hamilton County government and influences most hiring decisions.
“If you want to rant about something, rant about the phony ways in which the Powers-That-Be give jobs to their cronies and their families, while all the rest of the ‘little people’ stay on the outside with our noses pressed against the window pane,” the letter states.
“So what if (Taylor) put her best foot forward in writing? That kind of stuff goes on all the time as a really good position opens up. People start going to the judges to ask to be given the job, not to be considered for the open position as (Taylor) did. So, don’t criticize one person, criticize the system.”