Turns out Philadelphia doesn't have a monopoly on bad behavior by public officials.

A Montgomery County Court judge and a judge-elect are hiring their wives as their secretaries, each making almost $53,000 a year.

Meanwhile, Radnor Township officials are scratching their heads over how almost $400,000 was misspent by the former township manager. Much of the money went toward personal expenses, employee bonuses, and unused personal time. An audit found the bonuses were listed as "sewer-fund repairs and maintenance."

It all sounds so Philadelphia, which has earned its reputation. Except this pocket-lining and nepotism occurred in the suburbs.

Radnor is an upscale part of Delaware County along the Main Line, and home to Villanova University. The wife-hiring judges are in affluent Montgomery County, a Republican stronghold known for its good schools and a giant mall.
Judge Paul Tressler promoted his wife, Nancy, from her job as a court crier to his personal secretary. The promotion comes with a $13,000 pay hike. Tressler said his wife has been his paralegal for 20 years and was his "first choice for the job." Good answer, Judge.

Judge-elect Gary Silow doesn't take his seat on the bench until Jan. 4., but he has already hired his wife, Mary, to be his secretary.

Tressler and Silow should note that federal judges are prohibited from hiring relatives, and the American Bar Association urges judges to avoid nepotism in hires.

Montgomery County also bars nepotism in hiring. But judges get around the provision because they are considered state employees, while their staffers are county employees.

The loophole makes it legal for judges to hire family. While hiring your wife may hold up in court, Tressler and Silow clearly are skirting the spirit of the law.

Nepotism, though, is not limited to Montgomery County. Judges across the state have hired family members. It sends the wrong message, especially in a system where justice is supposed to be blind and evenhanded.

These stories may not be big news in Philadelphia, where City Hall has long been one big family business. It seems hardly anyone gets a job without being connected or related.

Sadly, that's an accepted practice in Philadelphia. And it may be in the suburbs, where there is less scrutiny. Cronyism and corruption aren't just a city issue.