Maine Township Supervisor Laura Morask has hired a political ally for a new $30,000 part-time position without conducting a job search.
Former Maine Township Trustee Kelly Schaefer, who lost an election bid running on the Republican slate with Morask in April, started the fundraising job for the township food pantry a couple of weeks ago. The township created the position as hours at the food pantry are expanding to five days a week from two.
Schaefer is tasked with increasing donations to make the program self-sustainable and streamlining the application process. Morask said Schaefer is the perfect fit for the job.
"She's really going to benefit the township," Morask said. "She was well known for her work in the food pantry and with seniors."
Schaefer is a customer service agent with Delta Air Lines. Morask cited Schaefer's fundraising experience at Maine South High School and Lincoln Middle School Parent-Teacher Organization, as well as familiarity with the community and township government, as qualifications for the job.
Schaefer, who was an appointed trustee, lost in the April election to Trustee Claire McKenzie, the first Democrat elected in the township in a decade. Maine Township Republicans sought a recount to reverse the outcome, but Schaefer still lost to McKenzie by 49 votes.
McKenzie panned Morask for the hire.
"I call it patronizing," McKenzie said. "There was no advertising."
Morask said the job did not need to be advertised or approved by trustees because the position is in the general assistance department, which falls under the purview of the township supervisor. Jobs in other departments would require approval by the board, she said.
"Why should you spend money posting an ad for a job when you don't need to do that?" Morask said.
McKenzie questioned whether the township supervisor can make the hire, and if so, argued the policy should be changed.
The job will not cost taxpayers extra money because the township cut three part-time jobs and created efficiencies through automating office tasks and funding the food pantry through donations, Morask said.
"I think it's a big controversy about nothing," she said.
"I think it's an expansion of government that is not warranted," she said.