Friday, July 16, 2010

Norco Council Sickened By Public Health Proposal

In early June, the LV Health Bureau released its proposed budget to the Lehigh Valley Partnership, an unelected and secretive millionaires' club. But the elected legislatures of Lehigh and Northampton County, the ones who actually spend your money, were kept in the dark until Wednesday. That's when they learned that each County is expected to contribute $250,000 for a regional health department next year, followed by $500,000 in 2012, and $550,000 in 2013-15. With just five days notice, they are being told to vote for this on Monday.

Naturally, this dominated conversation at Thursday night's Northampton County Council meeting.

"If you'd want to buy stock based on this proposal, I'm not available for any shares," noted Council Prez Ron Angle.

Council member Lamont McClure, a public health opponent who previously has boycotted all meetings of the LV Health Comm'n, said he'll be there Monday. "We have never been able to pin them down on what they'd actually do," he complained, insisting it is time to reject the proposal.

But County Executive John Stoffa had a different view. "If I were the King, I would mothball the project. I wouldn't vote on it. I would out it aside. I would not negate all the work that's been done, but I think I would wait a year or so to see if the economy changes."

Council members Michael Dowd and Peg Ferraro, who formerly advocated a Bi-County Health Department, accepted Stoffa's argument. "I'm not prepared to vote yes based on what I've seen. But once you say no, it tends to be no forever," said Dowd.

Northampton County Council and Lehigh County Commissioners will decide the future of a regional health department on Monday, 6:30 PM, in Northampton County Council's meeting room.


Anonymous said...

Enough Bullshit! Enough with Stoffa, if I were King talks, is this guy being tested for dementia yet? Enough with spineless Mike Dowd and his wishy washy ways.

Vote this monster down already. We have wasted enough time and money on this crap. What the Hell is wrong with Stoffa and Dowd. You are selling off the elderly in the nursing home, you are freezing wages, you are laying people off and you are still talking about a multi-million dollar "new" bureaucracy. The sate has no money, after all the bullshit this group has shoveled, you really believe their numbers now??

Stop the madness. Are there any leaders in Northampton County government? End this bullshit now.

Child Abuse Caseworker positions are being left unfilled by Stoffa and he still wants to think about this multi-million dollar white elephant.

Praise be God.

Anonymous said...


Wasn’t the bi-county health department idea originally pitched as a cost saving idea for both counties? If so the results are typical for government efforts.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

No more time wasted for this ridiculous idea. Not now!! Not next year!!! They are talking about laying off County employees and at the same time talking about creating a whole new department ..Are they absolutely out of their freaking minds!!!!..Dump this as soon as possible!! Sooner even!! Bad, bad idea...

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:50...I couldn't have said it better myself! Council needs to send this to the graveyard once and for all!! The state has no money..They are cutting human services, parks, and public libraries and they are going to fund a county health department..Once the County would take this on, the State money would disappear and then what..We would have a nightmare on our hands in this county..Kill this beast already and put it out of its misery..The folks behind this said they'd put it on the ballot if rejected..So tell themm to go ahead with that and wish them the best !!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Agree with all! Too bad for the local hospitals- they were hoping this was going to be their dumping ground for their indigent population. Too bad for Allentown and Bethlehem- they were hoping to dump their problems on someone else and have someone else pay for them. Too bad for some of the people on the board- they were hoping for big time positions when they retired from their present jobs.

This had rape of the taxpayer written all over it. First, was just taking straight tax money to pay for it at a time when we could least pay for it. Second, would have been the new fees charged to businesses for inspections to finance this thing's budget or fees for sewer, water when building a new home. Third, the empty promises- like having 5 satellite offices through out the valley. Guess what happens when the money dries up- the extra stuff goes away, meaning that offices would have to close to save money or services scaled back. Or the promise this is a "job creator" - most public health office through out the country have had to decrease their staffing due to less and less funding coming from their own state or federal government.
The chairman of the board has threatened that if this does not pass by council, he will go for a referendum- with which I plan to be the first to vote "NO".

Anonymous said...

It does sound like you were allowed to attend this meeting, not like closed-door LVP. Thank you for
bringing us up-to-date with a first-hand accounting.

Anonymous said...

"If you'd want to buy stock based on this proposal, I'm not available for any shares," noted Council Prez Ron Angle.

Say what???

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have not heard that the folks behind this want a referendum, but that might explain why McHale was hinting about it a few months ago. Unless Council and Comm'rs agree to pt it on the ballot, public health advocates will have to go the initiative route, and that will take 10% of the registered voters. It's a daunting task.

Anonymous said...

It was stated in yesterday's MCall article- the second to last sentence.

"If either county rejects the health board's budget proposal, he (Dr. Lyons) said, there may be a push to put the health department proposal on the ballot as a referendum."

Bernie O'Hare said...

I missed that. Yhanks. All I can say is, Good Luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Allentown closed the doors on the southside's public library branch at least three years ago. For hundreds of southside children to now travel alone to the city's main Hamilton Street facility is dangerous and difficult. Lehigh County's estimated bi-county health bureau assessment could go a long way towards reopening this much-needed facility's doors.

Clem said...


A daunting task, indeed. And if they take that route, you can bet there is much, much more money to be made off of this scam than we will ever know.

Holy Water, Silver Bullet, Stake-in-the-Heart. Now.

Anonymous said...

Are you the blogger who has
written about the persistent absences of Lehigh County Commissioner David Jones?

If not, just delete the following.

Morning Call:
"Sheriff Ron Rossi didn't even show up at the Lehigh County commissioners' meeting Thursday and he still had a bad night there.

First the commissioners narrowly rejected a move to grant raises to a series of elected offices — including the one Rossi now holds.

Then the commissioners and others proceeded to question and criticize the sheriff over a controversial surcharge his office has been levying on people seeking licenses to carry concealed firearms.

The fact that Rossi wasn't there to experience it all in person opened him up to even more criticism.

The commissioners had been set to vote on whether to grant raises to the sheriff, as well as the clerk of judicial records, coroner and controller. Each of those jobs has come with a $62,500 annual salary since 2008. By law, any raises for those positions can't go into effect until after the offices next come up for election — in this case, 2012. So while Rossi and the other row officers had been seeking a raise, there's no guarantee they would still hold the posts when any raises go into effect.

The newest proposal, which came after weeks of debate among the commissioners, would have started raising pay for the elected officials in 2013, topping out at $67,000 in 2015.

While some commissioners said it was right to offer at least modest raises to the officials after years of frozen pay, others said it was wrong to consider raises as the recession's effects linger.

The commissioners ultimately deadlocked 4-4 when they voted. Commissioners Dean Browning, Dan McCarthy, Gloria Hamm and William Hansell voted for the raises, while Commissioners Thomas Creighton, Percy Dougherty, Glenn Eckhart and Andy Roman voted against them. In the case of such ties, the motion dies.

Commissioner David Jones, who would have been the deciding vote, was absent. McCarthy, who proposed the raises, said it's "up to David Jones" whether the matter comes up in the future."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yep, I'm the one who has complained several times about David Jones, who thinks he's too important for a lot of the work Commissioners must do and who has missed many meetings.

Anonymous said...

David Jones makes a mockery of a post many would consider an honor.

Anonymous said...

York County is also abandoning their county health department plans

"Countywide health department plan dies"

York Dispatch

After six years of work, supporters of a countywide health department are abandoning the idea.

The idea of a countywide health department has simmered for decades and was revived in 2004 by YorkCounts, a nonprofit whose goal is to improve the local quality of life.

The Healthy York County Coalition took the ball and commissioned feasibility and business studies to examine how to start the department, its functions and cost. It also launched an advertising campaign meant to raise awareness and support from the department from the public, and ultimately the York County board of commissioners.

But it never earned approval, and is now a "dead issue," said Bob Woods, chairman of the coalition's health department task force. The commissioners were notified by letter earlier this year.

"There were just too many other things that put up barriers for us," Woods said.

He cited the poor economic climate as the primary reason for the coalition's decision to drop the proposal. It has strained the county and state budgets, which would provide much of the new organization's funding.

Details: The department business plan called for a $5.4 million department with 53 employees, with limited growth only when more state and federal money became available. York County taxpayers would shoulder $443,000 in net costs after three years.

In the meantime, the study said donations and gifts would offset some of the costs to taxpayers.

Although the idea is dead for now, Woods said all isn't lost. The two studies laid the groundwork for the new department and can be used as a backbone for the proposal when it surfaces again.

Commissioner Doug Hoke said he was never fully briefed on the health department's cost and the other details. He raised questions about whether the department's duties would overlap with the state Department of Health's responsibilities.

And given the county's financial condition, Hoke said it just wouldn't fly.

"There was no way I even thought we could consider doing it," he said.

Dr Smoothglove said...

Now is not the time for this. And given the secrecy and paucity of detail, there never will be a time.

Now, turn and cough.

Anonymous said...

I do not trust a thing this group says. This is what happens when you create a investigative panel that wants what they are investigating to happen. Bullshit for the past ten years. Every time they get cornered with the truth they come up with new facts or numbers. Bottom line within three years each county will be putting out over $2 million over and above any money from anywhere else.

Ross Marcus should spend more time running his Department and less time pushing this turkey. If he did maybe they wouldn't be over a million dollars over budget.

Good Lord, has competence been on vacation in Northampton County.

A Dutchie

Anonymous said...

OMFG!!! In this economy where every form of local government is CUTTING because its taxpayers simply can not pay bills anymore... there are still people trying to create a BS entity that no one with a straight face can justify!!! As a Northampton County taxpayer.. I am OPPOSED to any of mine or other monies going to a so called Health Department. When was the last time that some outbreak occurred in Northampton County where a LOCAL health department could have resolved??? Why do we need someone to hand out condoms to our kids?? Parents can do that or Planned Parenthood. Thank you Ron and Lamont for speaking out against this. I really wish Council would just kill this and get back to solving the financial problems of NORTHAMPTON COUNTY!! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Monday night's meeting will be a ridiculous stage for political grandstanding and a huge waste of time. Those who know the score know that this bi-county health department is past life support, and needs the services of the morgue.

The budget assumptions the health board has made are at best politically naive.

Who really believes that failing Allentown will contribute,and continue to contribute, the money it had been spending on its health department? That money will have to be contributed by the Counties.

Too bad Norco Council was too cowardly to kill it before now, and save everyone the pain of another meeting.


Anonymous said...

Simple answer. Put it on a referendum. The Counties get to frame and ask the question of the voters, "Do you want to create a new bureaucracy called the Lehigh Valley Regional Health Department costing taxpayers in Lehigh and Northampton Counties $3 million dollars a year".

The supporters could have done this from the beginning but preferred the back door approach of pressure on local county officials.

Yes, let the citizens decide just make sure the question is upfront and honest and not some feel good bullshit. If the supporters and the stacked deck Advisory Board don't like this, then wave goodbye, thank them and tell them not to let the door him them in the ass on the way out.

The Recon guy