Papadakos The Terminator Hits Traffic

Posted: February 07, 1991

Summing up his second foray into Philadelphia Traffic Court yesterday, a smiling Supreme Court Justice Nicholas P. Papadakos said, "The aerial war is over. The ground war is about to begin."

After meeting with President Judge George Twardy, Papadakos said that between 38 and 45 of the court's 202 employees will be fired within a month, saving more than $1 million.

Despite his smile, Papadakos got less than he wanted, at least for now. In recent weeks he has said 100 jobs could be cut with no loss in productivity.

Yesterday, Papadakos said the one-fifth reduction in employees will not hurt Traffic Court, because "every category of work here is overstaffed simply because the workload has dropped." The workload dropped when parking ticket cases were transferred to the Parking Authority.

Papadakos said that after a management study of the court is completed by the court's new computer vendor, more jobs cuts are possible. "I am personally satisfied that there will be many more by the end of the fiscal year," Papadakos predicted.

Twardy said that while he was "very happy" with yesterday's agreement, ''it's a sad moment to release or terminate . . . But we also have a problem here in Philadelphia with a budget crunch."

The cuts will occur throughout the building, but the first out will be Royal D. Hart, the court's $76,000-a-year administrator. He was fired by Twardy last week, then reinstated the next day by Papadakos. Twardy said Hart, who could not be reached for comment, will be fired today.

Papadakos said he had objected to Hart's initial firing because Twardy was doing it "piecemeal" without a comprehensive plan. With that plan now in the works, Papadakos said Twardy has a free hand.

While refusing to discuss other specific cuts, Papadakos said the court's new two-story facility at 8th and Spring Garden streets is easier to maintain than the seven-story building on North Broad Street. Recently, he questioned the court's employment of 18 custodial workers.

He also said other managment jobs can be cut immediately because there are no unions standing in the way.

About 120 Traffic Court employees are represented by Local 696 of AFSCME's District Council 33. Local President Burhman Smith said he'd been informed that layoffs were likely.

"My only concern is that they be done on the basis of seniority," Smith said, but added that currently there is no contract requiring that.

He said Twardy has so far not signed a non-economic union contract that outlines procedures for handling layoffs, among other issues.

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