Thursday, August 30, 2007

Norco Administrators:"We're From the Government and We're Here to Help!"

I'm a title searcher. It's a dying profession, especially for those of us who do "full" searches. Twenty years from now, most searches will simply be credit searches. And they'll be performed online by people from India.

Although we work at the courthouse, we're really just members of the public. But because our job takes us regularly into different row offices, we get to know everyone and can voice opinions that might get a county employee fired.

If you think I'm the only title searcher with opinions, think again. We're miserable bastards. You see, our job requires us to find out everything that's wrong with a piece of property, and that trait carries over into everything else. Most county administrators avoid us like the plague.

That changed on Monday, when two county administrators actually met with a group of title searches. Director of Court Services Bill Hillanbrand, who oversees most row offices, called this meeting. He was joined by Recorder of Deeds Ann Achatz (a 30 year vet) and her boss, Fiscal Affairs Director Vic Mazziotti. Nothing like this has ever happened in a previous administration.

"We're from the government and we're here to help!"

Fourteen searchers showed up for this tête à tête. If you want to know how obnoxious we are, get this. Seven searchers refused to come at all.

Bill and Vic quietly introduced themselves, and said they were available for any concerns or suggestions. They spoke about attempts to make certain records available online, possible WIFI access and electronic recording. They flatly admitted they "don't know it all," but their goal is to make information as accessible as possible for the general public. They asked us to let them know if we have any problems or ideas, and said they'd like to conduct these meetings on a regular basis.

What I liked about this meeting is that two cabinet members care enough about the county to want to open up lines of communication with everyone, even cantankerous title searchers. This speaks well, both of them and their boss, John Stoffa.

Blogger's Note: This post has not yet been approved by the Northampton County Democratic Committee.


michael molovinsky said...

in lehigh county the row offices have been combined by voter referendum recommended by cunningham to save money. in so far as each office had a recent new computer system, and now those systems must be replaced with a new integrated system, and now it is recommended that in addition to the director of services, we hire extra "managers" those in the know say NO MONEY WILL BE SAVED. in regard to the previous post, in which cunningham won the popularity contest, facts on the ground, or wallet, would be hard to produce.

Anonymous said...

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig is finding himself increasingly isolated from his political allies, maybe he can hang out in the county courthouse bathroom with you bernie when you are naked.

LVDem said...

hey mike, are you going to mention that the idea had bi-partisan support and was introduced by a Republican Commissioner (Roman)? Your hatred toward Cunningham is an obsession and it shows when you omit facts like the ones I mentioned above.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Your comment appears to be on the wrong post. I asked people to select those elected officials who further open and responsive government. I voted for Cunningham myself, even though I disagreee w/ his Superclerk idea.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 7:57, Gee, Thanks, but I don't need to use the bathroom anymore. I just cnange in the judges' fountain. But thanks for thinking of me.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, frankly, your title searching should be able to be done by computer on-line. The day of having to camp in the recorder's office should be coming to an end. As a non searcher that has to, on occasion, use the services of the recorders office, I have found it distracting to have so many searchers in the place taking up space, speaking at normal voice and frankly being disruptive. However, I do recognize that people are people and you folks have a job to do and the recorder's office has become your office by no fault of your own. PS: for a while there was a searcher that would bring her kids with her and set up a defacto day care. I hated to do business at the county knowing that I would have some kid possibly interrupt me and the person serving me. Anyway, the day and age of having to do your work in person should come to an end with upgrades in technology.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:25,

It will probably be about 15 years or so, but we're on our way out. Right now, deed records are online from 1985 to present. I imagine the prothy will make all of its computerized records available. Once that happens, credit searchers will first work from home, then find themselves out of a job. Full searchers like me will hang on, but only for a few years.

Many banks don't require title insurance and don't inform buyers of the risks they face when buying real estate bc all they really care about is their mortgage. They don't really gave a damn about a right of way or encroachment or restriction.

As far as the noise goes, you're right. It distracts me, too, although I'm a major offendor myself.

With respect to your complaints about kids running around, several searchers bring their kids at times. Many of the credit searchers are working mothers who sometimes can't find a babysitter or something of that sort and bring their kids in at times. I sometimes jokingly call the place "Northampton County Recorder of Deeds and Day Care," but most of these moms have no choice and try not to abuse the privilege.

Most of the kids are fine. When I'm busy, I can't spend much time talking to them. But they don't bother me. I actually enjoy seeing them, although they don't enjoy seeing me.

There have been some complaints. One searcher has been told she can't bring her child in the recorder's office anymore because it becomes too disruptive.

I'll forward your concerns to the recorder.