Assistant director should be much more qualified

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 31, 2015

Earlier this month, the Lawrence County Commissioners filled the positions of director and assistant director for the county’s department of job and family services.

The director position was given to Terry Porter, who before taking the post, was the assistant director. He was also formerly a social services supervisor at the DJFS for 12 years.

To fill the vacancy left by Porter after his promotion, the commissioners seemed to miss the mark when searching for someone even the slightest bit qualified when it comes to social work for children and adults.

Picked for that job was Christopher Collins, son of Ironton Municipal Judge O. Clark Collins Jr., and grandson of the late Sen. Oakley C. Collins.

Collins’ resume consists of a single page listing a half a dozen political jobs, all held for less than a year and which range from Ohio Senate page to campaign coordinator to legislative aide — none of which qualifies one to negotiate with unions on collective bargaining matters or grievances, determine the structural and organizational needs of the JFS or allocate funding and employee placement within the agency, all of which Porter described in his resume as duties he performed while employed as assistant director.

The state also requires the position to consist of implementing agency and state policy, rules and regulations, as well as acts as the director in his absence.

There were, however, other candidates whose resumes displayed concrete experience in social work, as made evident by the candidates’ resumes, which The Tribune requested from the commissioners office.

For example, Sharon Brumfield, of Sciotoville, has worked for the Scioto County DJFS for about 25 years as an administrative assistant. While still not the most qualified candidate, Brumfield at least has working knowledge of the agency and its sub-departments.

More qualified, Lisa Massie, of Pedro, has a bachelor’s degree in social work and has been a social services worker with the agency since 2013. She has 14 years of experience with the agency, previously being an income maintenance worker who determined clients’ eligibility for cash, food assistance and medical benefits.

Massie also has previous work experience in accounting and billing fields.

Even Ironton’s own mayor, Rich Blankenship, has more than 15 years of experience in public and social services fields. He spent seven years as an investigator for the agency, plus has a track record of managing multiple city departments and bringing in grant funding for various projects, including the development of the riverfront, which is ongoing.

The candidate with the most relevant experience is Kenneth Ater, of Chesapeake, who actually used to be the assistant director of the DJFS, back when it was called the department of human services. It was a position he held for 11 years before going on to become the program administrator for the county’s Workforce Development Resource Center, which he helped develop.

Collins has none of the qualifications one would expect the assistant director of the DJFS to have, however the commissioners considered his “diplomatic background,” and interview skills to be enough.

It should be noted that most, if not all, candidates also included a cover letter and references with their resumes.

But when one’s resume is delivered in an envelope with a yellow Post-It marked, “From Judge Collins, ASAP,” that must be all the references and qualifications one needs.