Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stoffa Moving Northampton County Forward

The Express Times has a weekly feature awarding trophies and turkeys over recent events. This week, Northampton County managed to get both.

First, the good news. A trophy was awarded To Northampton County Executive John Stoffa, who had the good sense to the kill the Doe Hollow boat launch project in Upper Mount Bethel Township after supervisors called it "a total waste of money" that would be washed out by floods.

But a turkey went To Northampton County and Colonial HealthCare Inc., its health care provider, for wasting more than $100,000 in taxpayers' money in 2005 on health plan fees for ineligible employees and 47 employees who had died. Before paying administrative fees and claims, someone should have been routinely checking to make sure the costs incurred were for eligible health care plan participants. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli has launched a criminal investigation that could result in charges against anyone who knowingly took advantage of this slipshod practice. Stay tuned.

Both trophy and turkey indicate that Stoffa is moving in the right direction. The health care waste occurred before he was the county's top dog. And he has stopped an ill-conceived boat launch along the Delaware that would have become a costly environmental nightmare.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

any clue as to whether the problem was caused by sloppy records by colonial, or sloppy records by the county?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:57, I don't have a clue. It is the subject of a criminal investigation. My suspicion, and it is just that, is that the county maintained sloppy records. Human services had no director for much of 2005, and the county was floundering for much of the year. it's one reason why Stoffa spent much of 2006 in putting out small fires.

Anonymous said...

Why was this not caught sooner? Who is responsible for watching over these things in county government?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:03, "Who is responsible for watching over these things in county government?" That's a responsibility shared by a lot of people. We can start at the top and blame Glenn Reibman, who was very lax in his last year. In fact, he never filled Human Services after Polanski bolted, forcing peopple in that office to assume roles for which they had no preparation. And of course, we can also start on the bottom and blame employees or former employees who were milking the system. I think that's where John is looking right now. Now between the bottom and the top, there's lots of room for blame.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A news account about the criminal investigation indicates that these possible abuses were uncovered as a result of a controller's audit.

Anonymous said...

that john stoffa hes quite ago my hero

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 3:35, You've got my problem. When I post a comment, it's loaded with typos. I can't understand the point you were trying to make, but appreciate the effort.