McClure made up for his absence at last night's meeting of Northampton County Council. He had no problem accusing the Stoffa administration of operating in a "shroud of secrecy."
"We're not being given the price tag because the price tag is going to far outstrip anything that we're currently doing in addition to the needs we have." Council Prez Ann McHale gravely and knowingly added, "Right concept, wrong location."
McClure apparently thinks County Executive John Stoffa should have a lease with Abe Atiyeh, who has an option but does not even own the property being considered. Ron Angle tried to explain things. "He wants to know, is this doable, before he enters into an agreement. ... He's not going to play his cards 'till he sees what's available."
But McClure remained adamant. "We need to start getting numbers. ... It's a huge undertaking."
McClure: "You will not come clean with the public as to what it is the cost will be."
Stoffa: "Mr. McClure, you want to get figures when the figures don't exist, when the site hasn't been acquired, when we don't know what zoning would approve. You want me to come in with figures and then you can criticize us for being low or high or not being accurate. I'm not a fool. Don't take me for one."
McClure: "So you're not giving us figures because you don't want to be criticized."
At this point, Stoffa walked back to his seat while an exasperated Angle told McClure "He can't give you what he doesn't have."
I could understand asking Stoffa to execute a memorandum of lease. But are terms like "shroud of secrecy" and "not coming clean with the public" really necessary? Those verbal grenades are intended to suggest Stoffa is doing something underhanded or possibly corrupt. McClure certainly has an obligation to act as a check and balance on the County Executive, but he also has an obligation to respect the office. Stoffa makes it a point to attend every council meeting, and usually has most of his cabinet on hand. That's a demonstration of respect to the legislative branch. Is it so hard to reciprocate?
Had McClure actually attended the zoning hearing in his own township on Wednesday night, he could have seen Stoffa explain that he has no intention of asking Council to commit to a project until he is certain that it can be done, and on terms favorable to the taxpayer. He would also know that this move may actually cost the county nothing at all. During a break, administration officials told me they expect to realize significant savings in personnel and utilities when they close the old, Civil War era, jail. That may completely offset the cost of operating a new treatment and work release center.
Maybe McClure should do his homework before making wild allegations.