Monday, October 20, 2008

Lehigh County Steps Forward While Northampton County Hides in Shadows

When Lehigh County Commissioners reviewed their 2009 budget, they added $15,000 for a camera system. Starting next year, there will be a webcast of each meeting, to be posted shortly after each meeting.

In the meantime, Northampton County recently dipped into its own contingency fund for "renovations" to council chambers. Council members spent close to $650,000 of your money for extravagances like a new dais and a fancy county seal, etched in glass, placed directly behind council prez Ann McHale.

It does add a certain je ne sais quoi to that star chamber look.

In the meantime, the amount of working space available for council's staff was actually reduced. Theatre seats for the public were replaced with cheap, plastic crap. The new PA system is just as ineffective as the one that was replaced.

Most amazing at all, council has set aside no funds at all to videotape and webcast its meetings. IT director Al Jordan tells me this could be done for as little as $1,500, but no one has even asked him. So iCarly has no reason to fear any competition.

Of course, if the public saw what goes on in that star chamber, it would get rid of most of them.

20 comments:

Bob Jr said...

I'd like to see a line item as to where this $650 grand is going (you've already made clear that none will be used on informing the public). Then one could truly form an opinion beyond cheap plastic seats.
Second, has anyone researched whether any open government laws could be used to litigate against this decision? It's 2008, perhaps the legal concept of open government needs to be broadened/updated to include web cams.

Anonymous said...

When Charles is Council President you will see much better government.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Wd you mind posting a public
email address? Wanted to ask you something about that online newspaper you are creating.

Glenn said...

In this day and age, both county and council meetings in each area should be posted for everyone to be able to attend via streaming video. Archived or otherwise. Also what is disappointing is, as far as I know, no (entire) local budgets are posted via .PDF files.

Rather then a negative thing. I feel, by exposing the entire budget (online), the public could contribute a vast number of suggestions to better the spending of their money. Same applies to the meetings as well.

Hopefully this would not result in just critical sniping, but rather come up with sound suggestions to our local reps. Or am I a dreamer here?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bob Jr,

That money has already been spent, and exactly as I stated. It was a disgraceful waste that did nothing for the public who actually attends those meetings, or thouse of us who can't mkae it but woulf like to tune in. No, there is no law requiring that meetings be webcast.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:33, My email addy is BOHare5948@aol.com.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Glenn,

Northampton County's budget is located at www.morthamptoncounty.otg. LC's budget was online as well.

NC has started putting its agenda online, too, but what I've notived is that it does not go up until the day of the meeting, which defeats the purpose.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:33, Dertinger is too lazy, but here's an interesting point. In January, 4 Rs and 4 Ds will be deciding the next prez. The Queen of hearts is no longer so secure, and after the way she allowed things to get out of control in front of two unions and rail advocates, she may no longer want the job.

Anonymous said...

Next thing you know, there'll be a salary study performed by county employees with a vested interest. NorCo is a funny place; not funny ha ha, the other funny.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'll give you my take on the Hay study tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dertinger is the most effective Councilman in an generation.

Anonymous said...

Dirtinger is not the best Councilman in a generation, but he is a politcal force. Bernie is spitting in the wind if he doesn't think Charles will be a big winner next year

Anonymous said...

Let me add, I am no great fan of John Stoffa but this County Council has no stars on it. The renovation is an example of their incompetence. They scream at Stoffa about management, yet not only spend $650,000 on a half-assed renovation. The project was something like 30% or more over budget.
How can people who let that happen think they are competent to run a bigger budget. A few of them want Stoff'a job but they sure don't inspire confidence.

Anonymous said...

That's not quite right. Stoffa did bring this up with Jordan - I know because Stoffa also asked me about what would be necessary to enable taping/webcasting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Stoffa is all for this. He's mentioned it to me, too. Unfortunately, it's not his call. This is aa decision that must be made by council. We're waiting.

Anonymous said...

They didn't think of it because there isn't an original thought between any of them.
BO could this be the worst County Council of all time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think it is.

Anonymous said...

Bernie did the MC write about this at all before you were in the paper today?

Bernie O'Hare said...

To my knowledge, no. Boy, did I get it at a council budget hearing tonight! More about that later.

Anonymous said...

So basically the MC is using bloggers to point out information that the MC doesn't want to reveal because they are afraid of the backlash (i.e. advertising and circulation revenue). Typical MC why do it themselves when someone else will do it for them. Good job Bernie. Great story.