in Philadelphia a graduate of St. Joseph's Preparatory College, Pennsylvania Maritime Academy, St. Joseph's College and Temple University School of Law. In addition to degrees in business administration and law, this new appointee was a licensed professional city planner in New Jersey and a licensed real estate broker in Pennsylvania. Prior to six years of private practice in law, he was vice president of a community development corporation and coordinated land use research. Earlier he served as executive vice president and general counsel to a consulting firm which specialized in city planning, urban design, real estate, urban renewal and public administration. This new administrator also was a rear admiral in the United States Naval Reserve.
In the same office the Secretary also appointed another Philadelphia attorney who acted as Special Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the Inheritance Tax Unit in Philadelphia from 1963 until 1971. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and the Temple University School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree, this particular appointee has lectured on law, including insurance and business law, at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, since 1964. Other appointees-retainees studied at or obtained degrees from Columbia University, St. John's University, Cornell University, Temple University, Duquesne University, the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania. Several had graduate degrees; one was a doctoral candidate at the Pennsylvania State University. Prior work experience included a Register of Deeds from Chester County, an appraiser in the real estate division of the Crawford County Assessors Office (and formerly a chief appraiser with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue's inheritance tax division), an attorney who spent nearly thirty years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and whom his supervisor described as a "very astute and intelligent administrator", an industrial development coordinator for McKean County (who previously had been an operations officer for the McKean County Housing Authority and assistant chief clerk to the McKean County commissioners), the Chief Clerk of the Northumberland County Commissioners, a former tax consultant and field investigator for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue (Bureau of Taxes for Education), the Clerk of Court in Montgomery County (previously an appraiser with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue), a financial analyst who had previously been director of personal property taxes in Erie County, a claims adjuster for the State Workmen's Insurance Fund, an executive director of the Area Transportation Authority of Northcentral Pennsylvania (and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army), a tax collector in Schuylkill County, an accountant with over ten years' experience, a deputy district collector with the Internal Revenue service, and an adjunct professor of tax at Temple University's accounting department.
Several new appointees had extensive experience within the department. For example, the district administrator in the Harrisburg office served as Acting District Administrator in the Department of Revenue's Bureau of Field Operations (1978-1979), worked in the assignment unit of the investigation division (1978), and served as field chief in the Personal Income Tax Bureau (1976-1978), chief of Audit and Compliance Division in the Personal Income Tax Bureau (1972-1974), chairman of the Sales Tax Board of Review, Bureau of Sales and Use Tax (1961-1972), hearing examiner, Sales Tax Board of Review (1959-1961), and as an accountant with the Bureau of Sales and Use Tax, Hotel Occupancy Division (1957-1959).
In contrast, district administrators whom the Secretary did not retain often did not have a college degree; some had only high school training. A few started additional education but did not graduate. Prior work experience typically included jobs as plant managers or production supervisors. Many had received from the personnel director of the department notice which expressed "considerable disappointment" with their performances. The director questioned "just how intensely and meaningfully" each one had been involved in the administration of his district office. Performance evaluation reports often indicated that their work had been of "average quality and consistency". One district administrator whom the Secretary did not retain listed as a reference a state senator, who responded to the Secretary's inquiry with "a singularly unimpressive, non-supportive recommendation" of the particular district administrator. He had, as the Secretary phrased it, "good reason to be modest". The Secretary further commented that "poor" and "sloppy" management, lack of leadership, low employee morale and lack of "astute awareness of the taxation laws and regulations" implemented by district administrators characterized the stewardship of many district administrators whom he did not retain. And at least two incumbents he refused to rehire had histories of previously unsatisfactory employment demonstrating a lack of "ambition and proper attitude toward doing (their) share of work".
Worse, several had been implicated in criminal mischief or accused of malfeasance in office. In one case, the Pennsylvania Department of Justice filed charges against a district administrator whom the Secretary discharged for making false entries on the register of the Personal Income Tax Bureau. Eventually, the administrator in question entered an Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program with the imprimatur of the local District Attorney and Court of Common Pleas. In another instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the internal investigating unit of the Department of Revenue investigated a number of people in the office of one district for criminal conduct relating to burying records of sales tax duly owed the Commonwealth. Although to date the investigation has not been completed, the Secretary indicated that mismanagement, if not criminal misconduct, pervaded the operation of the office. The Secretary also expressed a particularly strong interest in correcting apparent abuses within the Philadelphia office, which he said had the "most notorious" reputation with a "very sordid and bleak history, both with respect to raw competence and . . . allegations of, if not political corruption, something bordering very close thereto".
Clearly, the Secretary replaced district administrators whose personal and professional records indicated substandard performances with optimally qualified individuals with demonstrated competence and ability. Notwithstanding extended discovery over a period of months, plaintiffs have offered no credible evidence to support their allegations that the Secretary discharged them because they were registered Democrats. In fact, defendants have amply proven that the Secretary removed plaintiffs because he understandably and properly "lacked confidence" in their ability and competence. See Branti v. Finkel, 445 U.S. at 520, n.14, 100 S. Ct. at 1295. Accordingly, the Court finds and concludes that plaintiffs have failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence under Branti v. Finkel that defendants discharged them solely because of their political affiliation. Were Elrod v. Burns the appropriate standard, a contention not raised by the parties, a similar conclusion would be warranted.
Judgment will be entered in favor of defendants and against plaintiffs.
The foregoing shall constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Plaintiff Farkas testified as follows:
Q. (Y)ou did, in fact, establish daily procedures, didn't you?
A. Yes, to the guidelines as set down by my administrators in Harrisburg.
Q. (Y)ou were responsible for the level of efficiency in your district, weren't you?