"The shoe fits," said Muller.

Phone debate

In arguing against the motion to allow Dougherty to vote by phone, Schware said all commissioners have missed meetings at times or cut short trips to attend meetings He said they even come in sick or when they could be home dealing with family matters.

Scheller said she opposed the motion made by Jones for the same reasons stated by Schware.

Scheller said a previous resolution allowing county commissioners to vote by phone once was rejected by 6-2. She added Dougherty was one of the commissioners who opposed that resolution. (Muller later said that was in 2002.)

Said Mazziotti: "I think I'm going to follow Commissioner Dougherty's lead on this and vote no."

Both Schware and Scheller said the commissioners should develop a policy if they want to change the rules and present it as a new resolution.

Schware said commissioners don't allow the public to call in their comments during a commissioners meeting. "If we're going to develop a policy that allows commissioners to do that, we ought to be fair and allow the public to do it as well."

Brace told Scheller that, at the Jan. 22 meeting, he was under the impression from his fellow commissioners that they would do everything they could to allow Dougherty to participate in Friday night's meeting and vote by phone.

Brace said he would not have voted to defer action on McCarthy's appointment at that Jan. 22 meeting if he had known

Scheller said commissioners had to get a ruling from the county legal department whether or not it was permitted and learned a motion to suspend the rules was required.

Arguments against McCarthy

After the meeting, Ott named three different reasons for opposing McCarthy's appointment.

He maintained McCarthy, a lawyer, does not have the "skill set" to be director of administration. He called him a marginal match for the job. "If he had been nominated for solicitor, I wouldn't be batting an eye."

Because he was a county commissioner for 12 years, McCarthy will get a much larger county pension than if Muller hired someone who never worked for the county. "That's not his fault," acknowledged Ott. "He didn't write the pension laws."

Ott also said McCarthy was one of the top, if not the top, political contributor to Muller's campaign in the last election, with a total of
$6,500 coming from McCarthy and his campaign committee. "We have to make sure the executive is not putting political cronies on his cabinet. Public trust could be jeopardized by an appointment like that."

Ott added: "None of these things suggest McCarthy has done anything wrong." He called McCarthy "a nice guy who has done a lot to serve the county."

"I thought my life skills, my professional skills would be beneficial to the job," said McCarthy right after the meeting.

After the meeting, Mazziotti said after four years on the job McCarthy will be eligible for a pension of about $28,000 a year, because of a state system that allows elected officials to factor in their part-time work as county commissioners. He said if Muller hired someone who never worked for the county, that person would get a pension of less than $9,000 a year.

McCarthy said he looked into whether he could accept a reduced pension, to appease commissioners who oppose him, but learned the state pension system does not allow him to do that.

To get his appointment approved, McCarthy told some commissioners he was willing to give up medical benefits for himself and his wife, which would amount to a savings of $50,000-$60,000 to the county over four years.

Muller said he didn't endorse McCarthy's attempts to reach some compromise with the commissioners, but added it was McCarthy's call.

He joked: "I told him 'I don't negotiate with terrorists'."