Naturally, blogger Michael Molovinsky scoffs at the very notion, deriding Cunningham as "a little Eddie Rendell in training pant" and as "Don Bureaucrat Cunningham." Lehigh County Exec candidate Scott Ott also questions the idea, minus the vitriol. "[I]t seems like common sense to use contractors who charge only for results, rather than to bring that task in house and assume the ongoing care and feeding, nursing and retirement of full-time government employees."
Here are the facts. Constables cost counties money. When indigent Defendants are unable to pay the costs associated with serving a warrant, the county foots the bill. In 2007, for example, Northampton County taxpayers shelled out nearly a million dollars in constable fees that they will never get back. This is in addition to fees that constables collect from defendants who have the means to pay. Cunningham's proposal will spare taxpayers that expense while simultaneously making them the beneficiaries of fees that defendants can afford. It is innovative fiscal management, demonstrating precisely why he belongs at the helm.
In addition to these financial reasons, there's another concern. Constables, who are independent contractors with no oversight, sometimes lack the training demanded by the job. This point was driven home by a reader who had a bad experience on Monday night.
"I rent a townhouse at [redacted] in Bethlehem, PA. Last night while making dinner we received a knock at the door. My roommate and I secured the dogs by putting them downstairs and he answered the door, I hung back but was interested to see who it was. The gentleman at the door was a large black man with a shaved head wearing a large, visible pistol on the front of his belt. Apparently this man was a constable, we didn’t know because he failed to identify himself. He was looking for our landlord, who someone had filed a civil complaint against because he hadn’t paid a bill. The constable asked for our landlord by name, was told he didn’t live there and he sneered in disbelief. He then demanded to know who we were, sneering again in disbelief when we told him. He continued to stand in our doorway, never telling us who he was or why he was there until he produced a paper and said 'you better make sure he gets this.'
"This man clearly had the intent of trying to intimidate us. He never identified himself or had anything on him that would have led us to assume he was a lawman of any kind. He was confrontational and menacing all in the name of serving a warrant for an unpaid bill for someone that doesn’t live there.
"I don’t think this is the kind of thing a person should have to endure. When someone shows up at your front door wearing a weapon and trying to intimidate you he should immediately identify himself.
"Anyway, I wanted to file a complaint against this guy but everyone I call seems to have the perfect excuse for not doing anything about it because I couldn’t give them his name. I don’t know it and it was no where on the paperwork he gave us to pass on to our landlord. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction and maybe even give me this man’s name. "
"I greatly appreciate any help you can give, no one deserves to be treated like that in their own home."
I was able to get the name of this constable, but there's still a problem. My reader tells me this constable is black, but this person is white. When I sort things out, I'll let you know.