No new staff?

January 31, 2012

The addition of a deputy chief of staff position to the cabinet apparatus of the Harford County Executive's office could be likened to a new bud likely to branch out on the tree of local government.

"It's not really a new position; it's more or less a new title…It's going to be an existing person that has pretty much been doing the job in that area," so explained County Executive David R. Craig's Chief of Staff Aaron Tomarchio. The new title is to be "deputy chief of staff," in other words, a person to serve as Tomarchio's second in command.

It's worth noting that Harford County government has grown substantially over the years, and the subject of whether that growth is good, bad or a function of the increasing size of the population is a discussion for another day.

Furthermore, a deputy for the person who is essentially the county executive's lead administrator is a position that might be needed, though it's unavoidable to wonder if the county executive's de facto second in command needs a second in command.

Let's, however, dispense with the fiction that this will not be a new position because it simply changes the title of someone already employed by the county government. The reality is, if the person already is on the county's staff and doing anything that doesn't fall into the category of deputy chief of staff work, someone somewhere down the line will make the argument that a position was shifted away from one office to create the deputy chief of staff position and a new, relatively low level position (or two) will crop up in the budget.

Possibly, it won't happen under the current administration, but a new county executive will be taking office at the end of 2014 and someone is bound to say something to the effect of, "Well we used to have someone who did that, but that position was shifted." Then the bud of a theoretical new position is likely to flower into a full salary and benefits job for someone, or more likely for more than just a singular someone..

The fiction that a new assistant to a cabinet officer will not result in a new hire in a year or three is something no one should confuse with reality.

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