Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elections Comm'n To Review Gracedale Initiative on Monday

Northampton County's Elections Commission Chair Kenneth M. Kraft has scheduled a meeting on Monday, 3:30 PM, to review a Gracedale initiative designed to prevent the sale or lease of the County's nursing facility for the next five years. According to the Home Rule Charter, they have twenty days, or until February 7, to determine whether the magic number, i.e. 19,630 legitimate signatures from Northampton County registered voters, has been achieved.

They will also have to determine whether an initiative prohibiting sale is in direct violation of an Charter provision stating, "The power of initiative and referendum shall not extend to the budget or capital program ... ."

Anticipating a sale this year, County Council only funded Gracedale for six months. Any initiative that prevents that sale will necessarily require a budget amendment and will force the County to dip into its rainy day fund. So it's pretty clear that, in this instance, the power of an initiative would very much extend to the budget or capital program.

Tuesday was the cutoff day for petitions. At the close of business, 507 petitions, totaling 23,391 raw signatures, were on file. Elections officials are currently in the process of performing the tedious job of verifying the names submitted.

In my own review, I've noticed signatures from Allentown, Coplay, Whitehall, Catasaqua, Phillipsburg, Saylorsburg, and the Lehigh County portion of Bethlehem. I saw one page that was obviously written by just one person. But I've also seen petitions signed by people like Mario Andretti, Lisa Boscola, Larry Holmes, Sal Panto and T.J. McHale. Former State Rep. Rich Grucela actually circulated a petition himself, getting 27 signatures.

If the Elections Commission determines that the petition is invalid, it will be retrned to the original petitioners, along with a statement of findings of fact. But if the threshold is met and the Commission is untroubled by the language in the Home Rule Charter, the petition will be certified to County Council. At that point, Council can adopt the Ordinance or return it to the Elections Commission for placement on the ballot.

As The Express Times observed yesterday, what happens to Gracedale is a $30 million question, "and the county has to stick to its game plan."

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for Mr. Angle's opinion. However, the commission can allow the referendum to go forward, as a non-binding question. The fear for the Administration and County Council is that the vast majority of Northampton County citizens will voice their anger over the dumping of Gracedale.

While the plot to sell Gracedale was hatched by Angle and Stoffa for some time. After running it into the ground and now having the right mix of inexperienced and partisan councilmen they can move forward on this crazy idea.

Remember, this all because Ron Angle calls the County Nursing Home a "money pit". Voters must ask themselves if this is the rationale they want to follow in destroying a facility that has been home to thousands of elderly for decades.

We as a County are now in the hands of Ron Angle. Is that what the majority of citizens want?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"However, the commission can allow the referendum to go forward, as a non-binding question."

The Commission's sole function is to determine whether your petition conforms to the Home Rule Charter. It either does or does not. It has no authority to force the County to schedule a meaningless vote.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Home Rule Charter has many times been shown to be an imperfect document. It is really what state law or the Penna. Supreme Court decides. That will be the position of the Save Gracedale Coalitions attorney.

A vote for the people to voice their God given right to have their voices heard on whether to dump seniors at Gracedale may be meaningless to Mr. Angle, Mr. Stoffa and you but not to the vast majority of people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The vast majority of the people is unwilling to pay for a meaningless election. That's just an exercise in narcissism.

Anonymous said...

The Save Gracedale legal team doesn't share your legal opinion.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale and its residents are not going to be "dumped". The sale of Gracedale will exchange hands with a private entity that will save taxpayers dollars, that in this economy, can no longer afford. Hopefully, the private entity will end the four-patients-to-a-room policy, which is akin to the flats in Northampton County Prison. Federal statutes have changed in favor of privately run facilities. That's why Gracedale's revenues have been declining in recent years. We can no longer afford Gracedale. That is unfortunate, yes, but reality necessitates a sale. If not, it is only a matter of time that this county files for bankruptcy. Don't think it can happen? Ask Orange County, California; Jefferson County, Alabama; Vallejo County...

Bilc said...

Apparently God is in the senior care business as the "Save Gracedale" supporters constantly bring him/her up (God given right..., God fearing..., God knows..., etc). Too bad God never took an economics course. The county can no longer afford Gracedale and the reader is correct in that federal statutes favor privatization. Facts are facts, emotions are emotions. I favor facts.

Anonymous said...

hey drum beater you forgot you did not look ver,y well you missed tne one signature of one member of councel. I am sure if the referendum was invalid why did they give them the okey to pass it?The commmission said it was okey when they received them, County councel (the bull dog) asked what happens after the referendum comes to councel? You can vote on it, it goes to the voters, if we dont vote it goes to the voters, drum beater you were at the council meeting.

Anonymous said...

IF THE STATE IN ALL THE INSPECTIONS DID NOT FIND A PROBLEM WITH THE ROOMS, WHY ARE YOU FINDING A PROBLEM? NOTHING ELSE TO RITE AOUT OR IT LOOKS GOOD IN PRINT. YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR TWO INTERCHANGABLE PARTS. IF GRACEDALE IS SO BAD WHY IS THE INSPECTION RATTINGS SO FAR A HEAD OF THE PRIVATE HOMES, IF THEY DO IT SO MUCH BETTER?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hey all caps, private homes are rated better than public homes and Gracedale is only rated average. It went from 2 stars to 3. Whoopee.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I am sure if the referendum was invalid why did they give them the okey to pass it?The commmission said it was okey when they received them,"

The do not determine the validity of the question until this point.

Anonymous said...

Hey drum beater Gracedale last state inspection was on 01/29/2010 Spring creeks was 03/25/2010.star ratings gracedale first spring creek second. overall rating 3-1 health inspection 2-1 deficiencies 7-23 nursing home staff 3-1 RN 3-2 total residents 645-377 quality measures 5-2 fire safety inspections 3-15 Now tell me how mutch better they are If you want a copy of this report I think you can get one from the REV. it was posted on save private gracedall.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Like I said, whoopee. Three stars. Average. Stop the presses!

Anonymous said...

I would think that the questin has to be valid to get the referendum to go forward. you can put anything on a referendum, with the aproval of the election board, they aproved it before it was started, pea.ce be with you

Anonymous said...

drum beater why no mention of your bosses favorite Spring Creek.Gracedale is avarage Spring CReek is sub average stop the presses, You are lower than a sna ke in a wagon wheel rut. peace be with you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" they aproved it before it was started"

OK. Make that argument. The rest of us will follow the HRC, which expressly provides that the Elections Comm'n determines the validity of the question after the signatures are obtained.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Spring CReek is sub average "

It s, and was even worse when owned by a County. The reality is that the best nursing homes, with the exception of cedarbrook, are privately run.

rabbit said...

Bernie, Conklin said the companies must guarantee the facility remain a nursing home for a to-be-determined period. Lehighvalleylive.com 12/18/2010 what hapens after the predetermined time my vote for a water park.

Anonymous said...

bernie thank you Angle wants to sell to spring Creek who you said is below average how can they give as good or better care than they get now, time to change your parts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"rabbit",
That's really something you need to think about. I'm not sure it makes sense to provide for it in perpetuity. Gracedale was originally the poor farm, but as times changed, so did the need for a poor farm. Will we need nursing homes 50 or 100 years from now? Who really knows?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:57,

I have no idea what you're trying to say. But to the rest of the world, Spring Creek is Dauphin's nursing home, which was County owned. Things there were very bad and it was sold. It is now rated 2 stars, which is still below average, but is better than under County management.

The best-rated nursing homes, according to the rating system used by Medicare, are almost always private. Now I've been told this rating system does not mean much and Gracedale fans said we should not pay attention to it. But when Gracedale went from 2 (below average) to 3 (average) stars, it suddenly became important.

In my view, 3 stars is nothing to brag about.

Anonymous said...

Why lie to the people spring creek has been in private hands for a few years has an overall rating of 1 star. If 3 stars is nothig to brag about than 1 star overall for Spring Creeh is? Away to make money?

Bernie O'Hare said...

There you go with accusations of lying again. One star, Two stars. Makes little difference to me. It was a lousy nursing home that improved when it was sold. It is one or two stars now and was in danger of losing its license before. The important fact is that quality of care went up, not down, after sale.

Anonymous said...

Bernie it improved they now have only 23 deficiencies and 15 fire code deficiencies to worry about. Would you like to be there? Great Improvments. They are due for inspection in Feb. They will have to improve a lot to catch Gracedale, unless they buy Gracedale and drag it down to their standard.

Rabbit said...

I understand from last nights meeting one company backed out , who and why?

Anonymous said...

Ain't politics grand

The newly minted reason to sell Gracedale 4 residents per room plays extremely well in Poughkeepsie

This argument, just manifested itself in the last couple weeks when it appeared the petition numbers would be there.

Angle being a regular
Albert Schweitzer
a real humanitarian
changed his mantra from
your taxes are going up attack with a new plan
they are cramming 4 per room!!!!

Did it ever occur to you prehaps these people have no one
prehaps they ENJOY the company

and I read your comment BO about dying among strangers

if you have no one that might be comforting

My wife works in healthcare and has held dozens of peoples hands in the moment of death when no family members where there

you do not know of what you speak

maybe Ron can conduct one of his polls down there to get a better idea


Polically speaking
Whereas if the residents were 1 per room Angle and Company would be complaining about the Four Seasons care you the taxpayers are affording the poor.

I can just hear it

"why they have 1 person per room"

"why even private homes where you pay enormous amounts to live have 2 people per room"

"why this is an outrage"

"why har rump a dump dump"

I watch national politics and this is exactly the format the parties adhere to
it is dammed if you do
dammed if you don't

of course Ron and Company gleened on to that one

Anonymous said...

People do not want to pay for meaningless election. Than why is the bullldog on the same election. It is called a primary. It will apear in spring , You are right no primary election, less people in goverment. May be now they can ger something done.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A nonbinding election is meaningkless by definition. If you want to pay for that, I'm sure the County would schedule it for you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"rabbit,"
I would not know bc I am not pestering admin officials about confidential information.

Anonymous said...

I voted for many who comprise the current council majority. As it's a solid majority, I'm confident I speak for the majority of us who elected a majority of them. Last November's election results indicated a deepening of support for the kind of fiscal responsibility I/we put in place a year earlier with our God-given right to choose elected representatives. I/We support the sale of Gracedale. I/We don't want to waste another dime on it, and that includes the cost of a referendum. I/We, the majority want council to press on with the sale and do what the majority of voters want.

In the words of Barack Obama, "Elections have consequences."

Anonymous said...

Elections have consequences, I agree the dumping of a valuable County service to get a quick cash infusion to cover for poor County management, is part of the consequence of the 2009 election.

Mr. Stoffa/Angle got the memories they needed to sell this bogus sale deal.

So in 2013, these folks will be replaced by people who understand the role of the County and respect the citizens who live here.

So, yes, you are correct elections have consequences.

We are a Republic

Anonymous said...

Uh ... s c o r e b o a r d.

Anonymous said...

In the words of Barack Obama, "Elections have consequences."

Then I guess you are okay with everything they do in Washington

They just decided to put your grandmom down
you know "death panels"
my condolences
lol

sometimes
"We The Sheeple"
must intervene
this is one of those times
get used to it
the genie does not go back in the bottle that easy

Anonymous said...

Ah, was that Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann, I'm not up on my crazy talk interpretation.

Anonymous said...

The commission allows the referendum, it goes to counsel who can except or not except it than it goes on the ballot for spring.meaningless vote the same election for Engle to win his seat for novembet your right it is meaning less.

Anonymous said...

Ah, was that Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann, I'm not up on my crazy talk interpretation.

sarcasm

and

accept///// Angle

Anonymous said...

Not only does Mr. Angle need to realize that he is NOT Council President anymore, but the media also! They continue to court him as though he is. Why can't people understand that if a private company run a nursing home at a profit a County should be able to run it at a break even! Mr. Gilbert keeps talking about the burden that could be put on the children of the county, how about the burden that is being put on our senior citizens that are paying ridiculous school taxes so your children can go to Taj Mahal schools! We are simply asking the county to take care of the senior citizens that have paid dearly to the county for a majority of their life!

Bernie O'Hare said...

You need to realize that, whether he holds the title or not, Angle is Council's most colorful member and will always be a source for news. For one thing, he's willing to answer a question. Try getting one out of Cusick.

Anonymous said...

Bernie.....when Ron Angle is washed up....SO WILL YOU!

Bilc said...

I can't help but get a kick out of the asses that knock Bernie for being a disbarred attorney. He is still an attorney, just can't practice. The education can't be taken away. Most of those knocking him can't even spell. Anyone with one iota of brain cells has to give Ron Angle credit for speaking his mind and giving a reasonable argument for his opinion whether you agree or not. Frankly I give both of them the benefit of the doubt in a tight spot as I know their opinions are carefully thought out and insightful. Again, whether I agree or not.

Now on to the nuts and bolts. Can anyone explain to me what we are "saving" if the county keeps Gracedale?

Anonymous said...

The truth, we are saving the truth. Something you have no concept of. Are You one of Angle's retained attorneys or just another person paid to feather his bigoted, anti-semitic bed?

Bilc said...

Annon...always annon,

Please explain the 'Truth". I'm not too bright and need help. These "obvious" things need explaining for me to understand.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The Truth", is what you know already. You are in fact not to bright, as you stated. Acknowledging ones own limitations is a good start.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Blc, Notice the insults to anyone who is not in lock step with them.

Bilc said...

Well, I already know Gracedale is too expensive for the county to run, government subsidies would increase if privatized, and care would improve if privatized. Am I missing more of the "truth"?

Anonymous said...

Bernie will tell you the truth
as he sees it.
You know,
if you tell a lie enough times it becomes the truth.
(see: GOP)
FYI anyone who disagrees with his version of the truth
and doesn't ID himself
is a anon coward.
Ah yes, the lawyer thingy.
In most professions,
"PRACTICE" does make perfect.
It is however,like riding a bike,
what you have learned does not disappear. Unfortunately for some reason someone stole Bernies bike,
alas, never to be returned.
Maybe it was one of
the anon cowards.

Wayne said...

Anonymous said...
Unfortunately for some reason someone stole Bernies bike,...
--------------------------
I wondered why he stopped riding.

michael molovinsky said...

bilc, your comments concerning bernie, angle and gracedale are almost quotes, beyond paraphrases, of things bernie himself has written. you must be quite the loyal reader. fortunately, you agree with bernie, and therefore are not an anonymous coward in his eye.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM,

BilC is no anon and writes this way only bc he cold not sign up under Google. He is Bill Coker, is very much his own thinker, and I have even written about him on this very blog.

http://lehighvalleyramblings.blogspot.com/2007/02/nazareths-bill-coker-hes-got-more.html

He actually lives in Northampton County, just a stone's throw from Gracedale and has seen the real bullshit machine in operation.

When I have written about Gracedale, it has been with facts, not insinuations or outright accusations of dishonesty. I have written quite a bit about it, and have taken the time to research many of the problems. You really can't argue with facts.

Bill has made me aware of a number of things I did not know concerning the doomed petition drive.

I just got off the phone with Jerry Seyfried, who believes Gracedale should remain in County hands. I can have a pleasant discussion with people who want to discuss facts. I will have no pleasant conversation with anonymous cowards who hide behind their anonymity to bash Angle, Stoffa, Dowd, Gilbert, Thierry, me and anyone else who dares support a sale. They have acted like little babies during meetings, and on their hate blog, have gone so far as to claim that Stoffa is getting something from Angle in return for a sale of Gracedale. They have questioned Rev. Dowd, a real ordained minister, have called Angle a will forger, have been gleeful over his son's arrest, and have basically done everything they can to vilify him.

On those rare occasions when I have time, I take these assholes on. If you don't like it, tough.

I also don't like your insinuation that I must be BillC. I sign what I write.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, i will own and apologize for the insinuation that you were bilc. however, i will disagree about your travel on the high road concerning the topic of gracedale. you have portrayed those opposed from day one as goons and fakers. you justify your mission with the "boy scout" story, etc, but in reality, you are simply carrying water for stoffa and angle. your involvement ranges from continuous public relations, to scrutinizing the signatures to phone lobbying. i can tell you, as an outsider, that angle and stoffa have already lost, big time, regardless if the ballot question proceeds or not.

Anonymous said...

BO said

"He actually lives in Northampton County, just a stone's throw from Gracedale and has seen the real bullshit machine in operation."

Does he posses that famous X-ray vision that allows him to see through walls into the rooms where the residents are chained 4 per bed like you and the other
"Lets Sell Gracedale Brigade"
have?

Anonymous said...

Maybe he is a peeping tom with a telescope scanning the windows trying to cop a peek of a undressed resident?
And owns a parabolic disc to pick up the utterance of the word ASSHOLE
By your and Rons accounts
That place sounds like it should be shut down, not sold.
You two portray it as a house of horrors.
Maybe the potential buyers should be directed to this site to see what they ALMOST got themselves into.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM,

I did not call the Gracedale goons by that moniker until they earned it. The boy scout incident, the hate blog, the outrageous accusations, the disruptions, they all merit condemnation. You ignore that and instead baselessly insinuate that I am using a sock puppet.

As for what is going on, this is not a PR battle. This is about what is best for the County. And it is in the best interests of the County to sell its nursing home. Because you oppose that sale, you will naturally conclude that Angle and Stoffa have "lost." Stoffa has always said that he will do the right thing, and it makes no difference to him whether it is politically popular. In my eyes, that has always made him a winner.

Stoffa was told that imposing a half mill tax increase for open space would end his career. He was told his veto of the Soldier & Sailor's Tax Abatement Act would ruin him. He was told he had to play ball with the unions or he;d be destroyed. But guess what, without taking a nickel from anyone, and with his own party working against him, he slaughtered his opponent.

Angle is crucified every election cycle and always manages to win easily. This time, the Dems still can't find anyone willing to take him on. I presume they will, but Rn will win bc people know what he's like and know he won't beat around the bush like most pols.

As for phone lobbying, Jerry Seyfried is my friend, and he called me, and I was making no effort to change his views. Once again, you stumble over facts the way a blind man stumbles over rocks.

What's really going on here is that you oppose Gracedale's sale, have opposed it before you even knew the facts, and continue to oppose it in spite of the facts.

michael molovinsky said...

perhaps rather than continue your self justification, it would be more informative if you reveal why a former county executive favors retaining gracedale.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not justifying myself, I am justifying Gracedale's sale and defending myself and others from the usual nasty attacks, including your own insinuations. Having attacked my integrity and being proven wrong, I suggest you spend some time reflecting about your own behavior.

Also, it's a bit unfair to ask me to summarize Jerry's position when I disagree with it. It is unfair both to Jerry and to me.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, you claim to be more journalist than PR man. you have written numerous pieces on why gracedale should be sold, now a former county executive told you he favors northampton retaining it; in the name of balanced reporting, i don't think a short capsulation of seyfried's views are out of order.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've just got done telling you why I don't want to do it, and I especially don't want to do it now. I suggest you call Jerry if it means that much to you. I am trying to take the night off.

Anonymous said...

There is no proof that the privatization of Gracedale would improve care. the only reason that statement can be made now is because the current policy of the Stofa Administration is to treat Gracedale residents and staff poorly.

Self-fulfilling prophecy. Angle wants Gracedale gone, Stoff agrees and so it is.

There is no "logic" or "need" here/. there is just a political philosophy decision that has nothing to do with care or cost.

If you stopped hanging out at those teabag meetings and actually researched the facts as some have done you would realize this.

Bilc said...

Yes, Bilc is Bill Coker. I am a very opiniated old fart living in Nazareth. No I don't have xray vision showing me these houses of horrors. Somehow union people shoving petition in my face every five minutes to justify their jobs tells me what I need to know. Anyone that has to justify a job isn't needed. Otherwise he wouldn't have to justify it. Sorry, but Gracedale can be cheaper and better private.

Bilc said...

I forgot to mention my telescope that I use to cop sneaky views of unwitting seniors at Gracedale. After all I'm almost 70 and need all the thrills I can get.

Joe Hilliard said...

Bernie,

Research the law - Non binding ballot questions are illegal in PA.

Bernie O'Hare said...

But this is binding.

Anonymous said...

Well now that we have the scholarly and educated opinion of Bilc, what more needs to be said? Hell, yes sell the place.

Private is better. That's Why I want the government to keep its filthy union ridden hands off our medicare. Right Bilc

LesD