Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Judging the Moves

Last Friday, the District Attorney's Office released the first office roster under Mike Anderson, thus completing the first major wave of personnel assignments of his administration. The process began with naming his First Assistant and Bureau Chiefs in December and was completed with naming the new Felony Chiefs and Felony Twos last week.

As with every time the Office makes a lot of moves and promotions, there are compliments and criticisms of what was done and why.  In my personal opinion, the moves and promotions run from outstanding and inspired to ill-advised and poor -- and everywhere in between.  I'm not going to specify my thoughts on individual moves.

The three words that seem to encapsulate the theory behind the promotions are: Seniority Seniority Seniority.

As with all transitions between two administrations, there were some people who did not have their contracts renewed.  In this case, there were six prosecutors who were not renewed.  I'm not naming them here.  I knew five of them personally, and they are all friends.  I'm sorry to see them go.  I can sympathize with what they are going through and I feel confident that they will all do just fine in the private sector.

Virtually all of the upper level hires by Lykos did not ask to have their contracts renewed and left on December 31st.  Two others were reassigned to positions that they apparently did not want and they subsequently resigned.

And yes, the one person that everyone assumed would be terminated has ironically been the last remaining holdout of the Lykos Administration.  Rachel Palmer remains on the job as an Assistant District Attorney.

Contrary to popular opinion, I'm not privy to the rationale behind this but I have my guesses.  I have heard from reliable sources that there was virtually nothing documented in Rachel's personnel file over the past four years by her supervisors.  If you'll remember, Lykos stopped doing evaluations fairly early on into her tenure.  My guess is that if her contract had not been renewed, there would have been a lawsuit forthcoming saying she had been terminated for exercising her 5th Amendment right.

Her continued stay at the Office has caused some grumblings by many who watched her during the 185th Grand Jury investigation.  However, as of next Monday, Rachel will be returning to the Trial Bureau as a Felony Two to be given the same workload as all of the other prosecutors at that level.  Her extended tenure as Deputy Dawg and in Writs is over.  She will be given a fair chance, but the cushy positions that Lykos handed her for four years seem to be over with.

As I mentioned above, there are going to be criticisms of the moves.  That's pretty much how I remember it when I was at the Office.  Some of the comments on the blog have been very critical.  I'll publish those comments (within reason), but they usually have me rolling my eyes.

Most of those comments remind me of this Louis CK performance on Conan O'Brien.


Anonymous said...

Where is the roster?

Scott C. Pope said...

Why post an entry entitled "Judging the Moves" and then refuse to judge the moves? What's the point of saying some moves were crappy and some were the best moves in the history of all moves?

You might as well have titled the post "Hot Bikini Boobs" and the content would have still reflected the title of the post.


A Harris County Lawyer said...

Dude, I said that I thought they were a mixed bag ranging from excellent to poor. That is my judgment. I've never singled out rank and file prosecutors or moves and you know that.

The main point that I was trying to write was that this is to be expected on all moves and everybody freaking out about what they did and didn't like is silly. It is just the nature of large scale moves in a large scale government entity.

Just Sayin' said...


Imagine, if you will, that all the major law firms in America decided to promote their associates to partner based primarily on how long they worked for the firm instead of how much business they brought in and how well they executed their duties.
The flex time workers with enduring mediocrity would rise above the young associates who busted their asses, worked overtime without complaint and performed at the highest level. The bread makers would be replaced by excuse makers and the partners would have end of the year busts instead of bonuses.

Does anyone think that Steve Jobs was more concerned with how long an employee worked for Apple instead of how well he performed for the company?

Seniority is a good tie-breaker tool; but the union philosophy of basing promotions essentially on seniority is destructive and not the leadership style shared by great visionaries.....
..especially in times demanding fiscal responsibility.
Times have changed since the days of JBH and if our new leaders don't adjust they will wither on the vine.

Just Sayin'

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Just Sayin',

I'm not disagreeing with you.

What I'm saying is that there appears to be a heavy emphasis on seniority in the moves and that led to very mixed results. Some people were senior and were long overdue for promotions. Others weren't.

You need to remember that the Lykos Administration left virtually nothing in writing. The transition team was dealing with personnel files that had little in them from the past four years and promotions had to be made quickly. It doesn't surprise me that seniority ended up being the trump card in most of these instances.

I would hope and expect that as the new Administration starts making their own evaluations and has a chance to observe the prosecutors, there may be a little more variety in the moves.

Anonymous said...

The retention of Rachael Palmer demonstrates leadeship weakness. Texas is a right to work state and an employee need not give a reason for termination. A C/A would only arise (and highly questionably at that) in the scenario you suggest if Palmer's termination was specifically predicated on her exercise of a protected 5th Ammendment right. However, if instead there is a well orchestrated conspiracy to force Palmer to resign or "justify" grounds to terminate her for cause; this would present clear grounds for significant legal exposure.

Anonymous said...

Senor Newman are you actually saying that pre-Lykos seniority was not THE basis for upper level promotions at the HCDAO?
Seniority does not preclude merit but it does not remotely define it either.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Seniority did play a heavy role in the Holmes and Rosenthal Administrations but they weren't absolute. I recall George Weissfisch and Troy Cotton skipping large amounts of more senior prosecutors to make Chief. I had some people skip me and I skipped some people.

Normally, however, once a person had made Felony Two, they were regarded as being good enough to stay and there and seniority was the only determining factor v

Anonymous said...

Where did Clint Greenwood end up. He was a lykos hire?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Rachel Palmer is also involved in the civil suit, and there might be other stuff going on we don't know about. Palmer's back is to the wall, and now that Patsy is gone, who knows what Palmer will do? Remember, AC calls herself a "whistleblower" about the BAT Vans?

I can't decide if Rachel Palmer as a Felony Two is scary or not. It's certainly no cushy landing. I wonder how HPD will interact with her now?

Hot Bikini Boobs said...

No means no.
Stop looking for me.

Anonymous said...

"Seniority did play a heavy role in the Holmes and Rosenthal Administrations but they weren't absolute. I recall George Weissfisch and Troy Cotton skipping large amounts of more senior prosecutors to make Chief. I had some people skip me and I skipped some people"

Well that sure says it all, Murray.

Deviations from the norm of "seniority rules" wouldn't be so noteworthy if merit ruled.

Senior ADAs shouldn't be like tenured professors who have TAs do their jobs while they sit around pontificating.

Anonymous said...

Greenwood resigned

Anonymous said...

WTF!! What's up with cutting the salaries of some prosecutors that started at the office long before Lykos while keeping up the practice of providing gas guzzling crown vics to prosecutors who have no legitimate use for them in the furtherance of their duties? We all know the cars are just a "perk" and the prosecutors use them only to go to and from work and the DA pays to keep the tank filled! You would think that cutting salaries would be a last resort to make budget AFTER useless expenses and waste such as providing cars were cut. Great leadership, "leadership" team!

Anonymous said...

Why would an ADA ever need a "county ride" to travel back and forth to work? Do these same ADAs use their county cars to shop and take family vacations with as well? What is the county's liability if an ADA wrecks one of these free rides on their off-time or worse yet gets a DUI involuntary manslaughter?

In that rare instance where an ADA needs a ride for official job related business and for whatever reason is not able to ride with an investigator then I can see him/her checking out a county ride. Otherwise WTF.

Anonymous said...

wow, 12:36, sorry you were passed over and/or had your pay cut. The budget left by the previous administration was decimated and drastic measures are being taken just to meet payroll (thank you PL), so why don't you take a pill and be patient. Positive change takes more than three weeks.

Anonymous said...

Hey 3:36-

Chill sweetie, nobody expected hubby to put out the Lykos inferno any time soon. Some of us are simply puzzled as to whom he selected as "experienced" fire fighters and why he put diesel instead of water in some of the fire hoses.
The 1st 100 days of leadership are crucial and will set the tone of the Anderson administration.
For someone who so desperately wants to be just like Johnny Holmes it begs the question: WWJD?
Johnny would do what's right because it is the right thing to do:
1. Evaluate the credentials of those currently employed and those available either as new hires or re-hires and promote the best people for the leadership positions based on objectivity, politics be damned.
2. Understand that when you lead with integrity your people will respect you and when you lead with fear your people will resent you; everyone didn't like JBH but they all respected him.
3. Understand that loyalty is earned not paid for.
4. Fire Rachael Palmer

Anonymous said...

Well said 940.

Without those who possess both leadership and experience the office will continue to be second rate. A long list of negative things could be said about a majority of the decisions thus far.

Let's just sit back and watch how it plays out for the first year. Time will show the deficiencies in those who are currently in positions of authority.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for giving the new administration a little longer than three weeks to reverse damage done over 4 years. You can wreck something quicker than you can rebuild it.

Anonymous said...

The gals are ruling the office and making arbitrary decisions based on their own indecipherable scale. To the uninformed, it appears that the demoted are all of a certain age while the youngsters are making out like bandits. But what do I know?

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 8:40,

I don't know what you know either, but I know you seem to write in quite a bit with some pretty misogynistic statements. That's why I didn't post your Game of Thrones reference. You'll need to cool it if you want me to post anymore of your stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'm also guessing that 8:40 is a piece of deadwood and a friend of Jim and Roger