Northampton County Judge Steve Barrata appeared two weeks ago on a local radio talk show, telling listeners that the new courthouse expansion is just magnificent. And it's true. It's great for judges. It's just everyone else who suffers. The expansion is at least $2 million over budget and way behind schedule. Contractors are milking this project for as long as they can. I'd love to know the labor costs for landscaping and hand cut stones for the wind sensitive fountain. I'm sure they are at least twice what was budgeted. Taxes increased 66% over two years and over 100 positions were eliminated to pay for this monstrosity.
So why was Judge Barrata on the radio, and why was local lawyer Don Russo kissing his derriere? Elementary, my dear bippy! Barrata is up for retention next year and he wants the masses to know he's a swell guy.
I don't think a single judge should be retained. Hey Steve, where were you when county employees were getting sick? Did you speak up when over 100 positions were eliminated to help pay for your expansion? Where were you when your $15 thousand judicial lunch table had to be sawed in half just to get it in your new building? Where were you when judges decided that all members of the public had to be searched when they entered your new building, even if their business took them nowhere near a courtroom? What talk show were you on to announce that you would refuse the new pay raise? How can you take a nickel when the people who work under you have seen nothing for nearly four years? Why couldn't you open your mouth about any of the judicial excesses? How can you put up with a court administrator who is paid $102,705 per year as a full time administrator, but who is nevertheless allowed to supplement his salary by working as both constable and zoning administrator in Franklin Township, New Jersey? These are just a few questions that Barrata should answer if he expects to remain on the bench. I'm not holding my breath.