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Records show Bracey & others signed off on her son's pay raises & promotion

Written by Gordon Rago/The York Daily Record | Nov 8, 2017 11:48 AM
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York Mayor Kim Bracey (left) and her son Brandon Anderson (Photo: Submitted)

Because the mayor's approval was "more or less a formality," city officials and an ethics expert found little wrong with her actions.

(York) -- York city officials -- including Mayor Kim Bracey -- signed off in emails on some of her son's pay increases and a 2011 promotion at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, records obtained by the York Daily Record show. 

Following the alleged assault last month on Bracey by her son, Brandon Anderson, the mayor recused herself from any city decision regarding his employment. The documents, however, show she had played a role in his employment before that.

Repeated attempts to reach Bracey on Tuesday -- Election Day -- were unsuccessful. Anderson has been unavailable for comment since the alleged assault.   

City officials as well as an ethics expert in Pennsylvania found little wrong with her actions, though. They noted that the mayor was among several officials who approved the changes. That fact lessens any potential for her running into state ethical violations, they said.

Anderson, 31, most recently worked as an operations shift supervisor, earning roughly $50,000 a year. He has been on paid leave since he was charged in the Sept. 30 attack of Bracey at her campaign offices. His attorney in the criminal case said last week that Anderson was in treatment in the northern part of the state. 

Several days after the assault, Bracey released a statement that her son was struggling with an opioid addiction. 

In regard to the paperwork for the raises and promotion, York assistant solicitor Jason Sabol said, "We think the mayor's involvement is essentially de minimis." He was using a phrase that he translated roughly to mean minimal impact, and one that appears under the state's ethics act conflict of interest section.

That code restricts public officials from engaging in any conflict of interest. This is defined, in part, as a public official using his or her office for the "private pecuniary benefit" of themselves or an immediate family member.

The term, the code states, does not include an action having a de minimis economic impact.

"The mayor isn't making the recommendation," Sabol said. "It's coming from whoever is the employee's supervisor at the time."

Stanley Brand, a distinguished fellow in law and government at Penn State Dickinson Law, saw little indication of conflict of interest.

"If she's not reaching down to give him a raise, I think it's not a problem," Brand said Tuesday.

Sabol described the mayor's approval in her son's case, and other approvals the city makes, as the "final piece of the puzzle."

"Essentially, the mayor's not involved in the decision to promote or to give a raise," Sabol said. "The mayor's signing off on spending that money." 

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FILE PHOTO: Mayor Kim Bracey. (Photo: York Daily Record, File)

According to the newly released records, Bracey was last among a group of officials to approve of her son's 2011 promotion to operations shift supervisor, a move that came with a pay increase. 

She also signed off on an increase after his 90th day. After 180 days, he again received a raise. This time, however, the paperwork does not show the mayor signing off on the raise. Sabol said that, as far as he was aware, those are standard raises for every employee at the plant in that position.

In August 2014, Anderson received another raise, and again Bracey OK'd that paperwork.

A Human Resources employee sent the promotion change form on the morning of Jan. 21, 2011, records show. Then-Business Administrator Michael O'Rourke was the first to reply, followed by Thomas Ray, the deputy business administrator for Human Resources, followed by then-public works director Jim Gross and finally by Bracey at about 1 p.m. that afternoon.

Each replied with one-word response approvals: "OK."

Anderson, 31, had begun working for the city before his mother became mayor. 

Records show that a group of city officials -- including then-Mayor John Brenner and O'Rourke -- hand-wrote their signatures approving his March 2007 hire.

By 2011, with Bracey in office, the city had switched to approving these type of employment decisions by email. 

Sabol said Tuesday that likely accounts for why there are no written signatures on the change forms themselves.

Michael Doweary, the current business administrator, said that they were aware of ethical concerns raised over the last few days. But he said he does not share such concerns.

"Her signature is the last," Doweary said. "It's more or less a formality."

This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

Published in York

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