Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton told county council Tuesday he has discovered a more serious problem with the county's time clocks.
Citizen Brian Shiner and county Controller Walter Griffith last week found employees can use their own finger scans to clock other colleagues in and out if they have their absent co-workers' numerical identification codes.
They thought this buddy punching was only possible if an employee logged in correctly and then acted quickly.
But Lawton said he was able to walk up cold and clock in two other employees Tuesday using their codes and his finger scan, even though he didn't first log in correctly under his code and scan.
Lawton said the time clock supplier – Chelmsford, Mass.-based Kronos Inc. – indicated the fingerprints supplied by about 280 employees did not meet the company's 40-percent recognition threshold.
The fingerprints of all employees will be rescanned if necessary, Lawton said, but he stressed the workers both he and the controller clocked in were not among the 280 with poor-recognition fingerprints.
We're going to step into them (Kronos) pretty hard because the whole goal of having fingerprints is to ensure who's there is the person who is signing in, Lawton said.
In other business Tuesday:
•Lawton told council he is seeking potential individuals or entities to conduct an independent evaluation of prison operations and finances, in large part due to concerns about free meals that were provided to some prison workers.
•A council majority approved an $18 million tax anticipation loan for 2013. The $10 million loan will carry a tentative interest rate of 1.1 percent, while the $8 million is at 1.43 percent.
•Shiner, of Kingston, told council he has received complaints from Children and Youth employees and supervisors who are deathly afraid of a volatile female worker. He alleged the county is not sufficiently addressing the concern.
Council Chairman Tim McGinley said council discussed the issue in executive session and said much of Shiner's information was incorrect. He said citizens will no longer be permitted to raise personnel accusations at public meetings.
Shiner said his sources are prepared to come forward to defend his statements if necessary.
Attorney Kim Borland said his client, Luzerne County deputy coroner Daniel Hughes, did not violate any ethical rules or policies and did nothing wrong.
The county ethics commission concluded Monday that a deputy coroner should be admonished for violating an ethics code ban applying to deputies affiliated with funeral homes.
The ruling stemmed from a complaint filed by Wilkes-Barre resident Belinda Coulibaly against Hughes. Coulibaly, whose father unexpectedly died of natural causes in August, said Hughes violated a ban prohibiting coroners from soliciting, discussing or accepting business for a funeral home with which they are associated while they're engaged in county business.
Mr. Hughes will pursue all possible remedies to have this corrected and his reputation restored, Borland said.
He said the commission violated the county home rule charter and Constitution by issuing a public sanction before Hughes was notified of findings and provided an opportunity for a hearing.
The process by which the commission serves as both prosecutor and judge and sanctions people before they have their hearings is a violation of one of the most important protections we have as citizens, Borland said.