The opportunities range from an $8 per hour part-time clerk in the Recorder of Deeds office to a system designer and developer in the Department of Computing and Information Services. Maximum salary: $89,723.33.

Apparently, however, there are other county positions that prospective employees never would find.

Former county GOP campaign treasurer Kathleen Pearse will begin one of those jobs Monday when she assumes her duties as administrative executive/chief clerk to the county commissioners.

The commissioners recently voted, 2-1, to name her to this newly created, $65,000-a-year position.

The action raised the ire of Democratic Commissioner Andrew Dinniman, who voted against her appointment. Although he did not question Pearse's qualifications, Dinniman protested because the job was not posted on the county Web site before she was hired.

County policies - and practices - are about to be subject to change, however.

At the commissioners' Tuesday meeting, Chairwoman Carol Aichele will announce the formation of a county policy review committee.

"We're going to take it one policy at a time, and we have to start someplace," said Aichele. "And this one on posting is a fine place to start."

The committee will meet weekly, she said, to review county policies. Although the work sessions will be open to the public, she said, citizens will not be permitted to comment.

Aichele said fellow Republican Commissioner Donald Mancini will serve as committee chairman. She also said the committee, made up of county staff members, will include Pearse; Mark Rupsis, director of administrative services; Wayne Rothermel, director of government services; Tom Whiteman, assistant county solicitor; a representative of the county court system, who will be selected by President Judge Howard Riley Jr.; and a representative of the county's elected row offices.

"We need a framework in Chester County," said Aichele. "But it's not going to happen overnight."

When Dinniman raised his objections about Pearse's hiring, he said the county has a long standing policy that open employment positions should be publicly posted so that the county can get as many applicants as possible, and there fore the best chance for hiring a qualified applicant.

Later, however, Tom Czulewicz, director of human resources, said the county has "no hard, fast" rules for posting job listings.

In truth, they both are right.

"Right now we have a broad policy statement, but we don't have any regulations," said Aichele.

The county's employee handbook, which last underwent a thorough review in 2001, says the commissioners have instituted a job posting practice. "The policy reflects the County's ongoing commitment to equal opportunity and a diverse work force," the handbook reads.

The handbook also says: "An external search may occur simultaneously when necessary to obtain a pool of qualified applicants."

Specific procedures, however, are lacking.

In the past, Aichele said, elected officials have had discretion about hiring employees in their offices.

"That's practice, not policy," she said.

For example, the county's two newly elected judges, John Hall and Rusty Griffith, each hired a secretary and a law clerk. None of those jobs were posted on the county Web site, said Aichele.

Asked if this discretionary practice should become county policy, however, she replied: "I think we should write a policy that reflects a practice that serves the people of Chester County."

Dinniman said only the commissioners have been able to make an exception to hiring policies.

Aichele and Mancini said they decided to hire Pearse, who also has worked on Aichele's campaigns, without posting the position because they needed to fill the post right away.

However, the job posting section of the county handbook makes no reference to policy exceptions.

"When you're an elected official," Aichele said, "policy is everything."

Rather than undertaking policy changes in one task, she said, they will be reviewed and put in place as needed.

"Writing policy is challenging," said Aichele, a former Tredyffrin-Easttown school director. "The wording is very important."

When the T-E school board rewrote policy during her tenure, she said, board members first went to each department to find out how they were conducting policies.

Any change in policy first required two public readings, she said.

"If you have no policy, you can't have a policy of non-discrimination," said Dinniman. "I want everyone to be assured that everyone has an opportunity to apply for a county job."

Amy Shivers, County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania director of communications, said the association makes no recommendations about hiring practices.

"Each county governs itself," she said.

The commissioners also will update the public on the county open space preservation program Tuesday.

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