Council member John Cusick played prosecuting attorney on Wednesday, peppering Siemiontkowski about her involvement in Mayor Afflerbach's idiotic police pension agreement that pretty much ruined Allentown financially. What did she know and when did she know it? As it developed, she had "counseled strongly" against it, believing it would cause the City to go bankrupt. It's "one of the reasons I decided to leave the City," she concluded.
Cusick bought it. "Roy Afflerbach not taking good legal advice would not be a surprise," he snarked.
Siemiontkowski was also queried about her lack of human resources accreditations, but her legal skills and public sector experience appeared to outweigh those concerns.
Council Prez Ron Angle told her she is a "notch above" what is required.
Things were looking good.
But at last night's County Council meeting, where Siemiontkowski was unanimously confirmed, things suddenly got a little dicey.
Penny Himel, Frances Ketchen and other members of Easton NAACP were there as part of an African American committee, who had their own candidate. They were kind enough to give me her resume, and it is very impressive. Unlike Siemiontkowski, this candidate does have direct Human Resources experience. But she also has no legal experience in the field and no public sector background.
Diminutive Frances Ketchens, addressing Council in a pink sweatsuit, was quite forceful. "The African American community is not satisfied with what's going on." She mentioned that when she walks through the halls of the Northampton County Courthouse, she sees few faces like her own. "We'd like some answers."
When Council Prez Angle suggested she make an appointment to see Stoffa, she declined, saying she had met with him enough. "It's time to act," she declared.
She also rejected the notion that Council just votes on the Executive's nominee. "You vote. We vote, too."
Them's fightin' words.
County Exec John Stoffa told Council, "I think you have the most qualified candidate." Of 38 applications, Stoffa acknowledged that the candidate selected by the African American committee was one of the top three, "but I don't think she was the top candidate. She did not have public experience at all. ... I think I have given you the best candidate that we have found in that group of people."
Bruce Gilbert, Northampton County's first black Council member, was the first name called tonight to vote on Siemiontkowski. He voted for her, and the rest of Council followed suit.