Friday, November 16, 2012

NorCo Bulldog Kills Payraise for Council, Exec

"You talking to me?"
Ron Angle is more dangerous than ever. Though he lost his bid for a third term on Norco Council to Scott Parsons, he now occupies the highest office of them all - that of citizen. And at November 15's Council meeting, it is largely his efforts as a citizen that killed proposed payraises for the next Exec ($10,000) and Council President ($300). It was the bulldog at his worst. It was also the bulldog at his best.

Council member Ken Kraft, who sponsored this proposal, was sure he had five votes. But he watched that support vanish as Angle made his points during a public comment period, despite an effort by Council president John Cusick and member Bob Werner to muzzle the bulldog.

Saying that the $300 reminded him of a "wart on a water buffalo," Angle asserted he had no doubt why the $10,000 salary hike was being proposed for the Exec.

"The next County Executive, and that's unless the good Lord comes down from the sky and runs on the Republican ticket, will either be Mr. [Glenn] Reibman or Mr. [John] Callahan. And I'm sure for the Democrats on Council, it's been suggested to them that in the case of Mr. Callahan, he would need more than $85,000 a year to come over here and be Executive. So how fitting do you think it is, when the rest of the world is struggling and they didn't get raises? Many of them wish to hell they could hang on to their job.

[At this point, both Cusick and Werner told Angle to wrap it up, although they allowed State Theatre representatives to drone on for 35 minutes on why the annual allocation for the artsy-fartsys should go up from $25,000 to $60,000. The attempt to stifle Angle failed.]

"If you don't like what I have to say, maybe you shouldn't be in office. You're going to raise it $10,000. You're negotiating contracts with employees. At a time when you're asking them to give back and take freezes."

Sounds pretty good, eh? When Ron sat down, I asked him, "Ron, didn't you make the exact opposite argument just a few years ago?"

"Shhh!" he whispered.

Too late. Ken Kraft noticed the reversal as well, pointing it out and also claiming that he was still waiting for Angle to pay off some side bet the two had. That brought an indignant Angle to his feet for a few more minutes, as he and Kraft parried back and forth.

In fairness to Angle, the economy was much better when he supported raises, and the timespan without one had gone on much longer.

At some point, Angle claimed Reibman had run the County into the ground and Callahan had run Bethlehem into the ground.

"Will any of them perish if they don't get this pay?" he asked.

There goes his Christmas presents from them. He also managed to insult John Cusick, Bob Werner and several members of the audience. One of them, Jack D'Alessandro, waddled over and attempted to lunge at Angle before leaving, but missed. Then he just floated away.

Cusick admonished Kraft about attacking Ron from the dais. But the Council Prez just does not understand that real people like Ron Angle and Ken Kraft love to mix it up. Angle's a slater and Kraft is a union dude. They were fiery, rude and having a great time. It was entertaining as hell.

The music of democracy.

Much better than polite hypocrites telling each other how wonderful they are.

Though despised by nearly every Council member, Angle's arguments were persuasive. Tom Dietrich and Peg Ferraro, two of the Council members who deposed Angle as Council President just two years ago, echoed many of his sentiments. Ferraro, in particular, noted that the County had just asked the Gracedale union to make concessions. Cusick argued that 37 county employees make more than the Exec, as well as nearly every Township Manager. But Ferraro retorted that perhaps Townships should ask their managers to give back instead of increasing the Executive's salary.

Maybe his absence has made their hearts grow fonder.

Probably not.

Aside from Kraft and Cusick, who incidentally would also like to be the next exec, Council members voted the raise down. After the meeting, anti-union Angle and union business agent Kraft joked with each other.

Angle's replacement on Council, Scott Parsons, has been an excellent representative, and after seeing him in action, I understand why people voted for him and like sincere and humble approach.

But the world is a little better with one Northampton County bulldog. Maybe he's even better as a citizen. The State Theatre will cost Northampton County $240,000 over the next four years. Angle's argument, despite the attempt to muzzle him, just saved taxpayers $41,200 over the next four years.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Come on Bernie, please. I get the Ron Angle lovefest from you but that goofy proposal was DOA. Seven County Council memebers killed that dumb idea, whether Angle had been there or not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

According to Ken Kraft, he was sure he had five votes.

Anonymous said...

Kraft lives in the same dreamworld the Callahan Clan live in. I am sure he brought the proposal on their behalf but I defy him to name the other three votes. Political suicide is sometimes subtle but this would have been like jumping off the Golden
Gate Bridge.

Not a chance in Hell Bernie. You have been around and you know it.

D.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's possible this may have failed without Angle, but I know what Kraft told me, and he believed he had 5 votes.

Ken Kraft said...

And lets not forget that my Co-Sponsor Peg also changed her mind. It's fine, that is why we have a council, we make proposals and they get voted on.

This is brought up every 4 years to be voted on, it takes effect in 2014 the next time this will come up to a committee will be 4 years from now, we looked into it, recommended it to council like the charter said, and they voted it down.

I call that democracy at work.

Mark Baker said...

kraft presence on council is a joke. enjoy your time on council. there will be no re-election for this union lover

Anonymous said...

that scummer cusick would vote for his own pay raise.

Colin said...

With all sorts of budget issues why would you even consider a pay raise Ken? It is a few pennies here that are no big deal and a few pennies there that are no big deal that lead to the budget gaps you have.

Anonymous said...

I respect Kraft for his proposal. It is rather ridiculous that a county exec makes less than many twp. managers and 37 of his own employees. However, Peg made solid points that if twp. residents felt their manager's pay was too high, then just reduce it. These are professional managers hired to do a job. If they do a job well, like Finnegan in Hanover they will be compensated accordingly. But they are not ELECTED officials. They do not have the professional staff of a county exec. And as pointed out no one runs for these offices for the money. Heck, Shelly Brown of the State Theatre probably earns over $125 K and still had the nerve to grovel to council for over a half hour for an extra $35 K in hotel tax. Ron alone did not torpedo the pay increases, but his impassioned comments likely swung a vote or two.

Ronnie said...

Bernie,
This comment is for you on all articles.
It is refreshing and enjoyable to read your blog simply because you say it like it is.
The sarcasm is well placed and the facts don't suffer from your delivery style.
I would probably enjoy a family obituary written by you if for no other reason than I would at least come away laughing and smiling a little.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Who is Mark Allen Baker 37 of Bethlehem, PA?

Ken Kraft said...

Collin,
It is to be brought up and discussed every 4 years. So I researched and made a recommendation to council. It will appear again in 4 more years.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Although I loved the discussion, if only for its entertainment value, I actually agree with Ken and Cusick on this issue. The Exec should be paid the same salary paid to a judge and to the DA. It's a demanding job, requires a major commitment and should be compensated accordingly. Similarly, I feel PT Council members should be compensated at about $30k. Most of them, with some glaring exceptions, are quite dedicated and spend at least 320 hours per week.

But I would tie it in to county real estate tax revenue, allowing increases only in accordance with the %age increase in real estate tax revenue the preceding year. If real estate tax revenue increases 4% there is a 4% raise that year, and so on. The raise would be drafted so that it could never exceed the salary paid to a judge for the exec. For Council, it would be capped at 14 the salary of a judge.

Anonymous said...

We are eagerly awaiting your posting about your favorite foil, Steve Barron, aka Barron von Footimouth, aka Little Stevie Blunder about his childish "na-na-na-na-na" boast about his 2012 budget prediction. What a self-agrandizing tool.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I ran out of steam around 2:30 this AM, but will deal with Barron von Footinmouth this weekend or early next week.

Anonymous said...

You get what you pay for. You won't get a PROFESSIONAL MANAGER to run until the pay equals the responsibility.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ronnie, Thanks so much for your nice words, but this story wrote itself. The real authors are Angle and Kraft.

Anonymous said...

"They were fiery, rude and having a great time. It was entertaining as hell.

The music of democracy.

Much better than polite hypocrites telling each other how wonderful they are."

This, from Senor Civility, Capitan Compromise, himself? Excellent!

Seriously though. The point about pay equity is well made by anon 9:03 and Ms. Ferraro. Unfortunately, governments have been bestowing upon themselves public wealth not yet created for generations. The keep raising it because others are doing it argument is how the school districts have been doing it for years and we all know how that's turned out.

Way to go, Mr. Bulldog! You got it done this time as a citizen, but we still need you back on defense for every play.

At-Large! At-Large! At-Large!

Have a great weekend.

-Clem

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, I love spirited debate, but in the end, I like it best when it serves as a tool for compromise. I consider this sort of give and take, in which people are saying what they really think without fear about how it is reported, the best kind of democracy. But that's only if they also listen to each other.

Yes, I believe in compromise, but detest when meetings devolve into back-slapping sessions with the good ol' boys. That doesn't happen with Ron, unless he's patting his own back.

Colin said...

Ken,

Thank you for responding to my question.

Anonymous said...

Since when "must" council review the pay every four years. In the entire history of county council this is the first I have heard of this. I asked a few former council memebers and they were unaware of any requirement to vote on any raises every four years unless they to choose to do so.

Anonymous said...

Cant believe the state theater slides by without scrutiny.Are you aware of Ms Browns compensation? Thats salary,benefits, and expense account.Granted the state theater is the jewel of eastons downtown but come on.

Ken Kraft said...

That is how it was presented to my committee. It is to be visited every 4 years.

Anonymous said...

The county executives salary needs to be raised. Just look at the professional Manager's wages in municipalities. Like someone said earlier you get what you pay for. Callahan has run Bethlehem into the Lehigh.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The one person who drew attention to Ms. browne's salary last night was Ron Angle.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Angle vote for the $20,000 raise for the county executive?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe I pointed that out, and so did Ken Kraft. How very observant of you.

Anonymous said...

Okay Bernie, When are you going to stop giving this poor excuse of a politician and now even a poorer excuse as a concernned citizen, column inches? Ron had it right two years ago. The Exec Salary is way under what it should be. So is the Council Salary. They want to keep thee salaries low so we can't draw good candidates to the Executive Salary. If we can attract a good executive he will be worth his weight in "GOLD". This argument by the County Bulldog is nothing more than bullshit. He is a nasty vindictive person who is now paying back Reibman for all the heartaches Reibman caused him. Reibman nor Callaghan should be the leader of this County. Unfortunately, we will never have another good Executive until we pay the position what it is truly worth. Isn't our County budget somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred million dollars? In all honesty Bernie, Do you sincerely feel the position is underpaid and what do you honestly feel the position should be paid. Aren't there any County Executives or Council Members that you can hold up to public scrutiny and say, This is what we can get if you pay the position a decent wage for the responsibilities the position deals with.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I love Ron. He gets everyone fired up and that's when we have real debate and real democracy. And yes, he made the exact opposite argument just a few short years ago, but i don't like stopping him when he's on a roll.

As it happens, I agree with Kraft and Cusick. If anything, the Exec is not paid enough. I believe his salary should be the same as a common pleas judge and go up and down (it never goes down) like that of a common leas judge. If Council could adopt an ordinance setting the salary in this fashion, they never would have to visit the issue again. I would agree to table the matter until the economy improves.

Anonymous said...

What else is Callihan going to do? The guy is totally unmarketable for anything other than the Mayor of Bethlehem.

My guess Callahan ends up in a not so execsutive job doing community/goverment relations at a hospital or mid-sized company in the valley. Not Air Products or PPL. More like Just Born, Saint Lukes, or Lutron.

Anonymous said...

Look at most of those authorites like LANTA and the Tourism Board. Those guys have been in there for decades and have done nothing remarkable.

As to paying more money to get a better leader, that is a red herring. It is called public service for a resoan. The argument is ususally made by Republicans, trying to get one of their Bank Exec. buddies to run and not have to forfit his country club memebership.

Plenty of good people. Salary has nothing to do with it. That old argument has been passed around for years and so far has not been proved.

Anonymous said...

To: Anonymous 12:06 A.M.
Take a look at the quality of individual we are attracting to run for the job. School teachers, ex-steel workers, social service employees like Stoffa, School administrators who know nothing about government, career mayoral and public leeches, and the list goes on and on. Only one person who was a business man (Jack Bradt) ever ran for the office. Bernie is right on this one. Make the salary comensurate with the responsibilities and duties of the job. People with little minds and have given very little of their time (volunteer) always condemn those who do give back to their cummunity. Just because you run for public office doesn't mean you should be paid minimal wage. You only get what you pay for.Public service shouldn't mean a person has to sacrifice a comfortable living for his family for serving his or her community.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, Jack Bradt was a train wreak when Brackbill made him Director of Human Services. He thought he was still in control of the Board Room, and as a result was woefully unprepared for the ins and outs of running a large gowvernent agency were pwople do not pretend you are a genuis to keep their jobs. Most of his staff wasd in revot, he brought in nmumerous private contractors working wihout any real supervision and wasted thousands of county tax dollars on "pilot" programs that were sold to him by people who kissed his ass. The programs to a one, failed.

So enough with the "experienced " business man will save us stick.

If there is a "business" man or a "superior" person out there, then as a public service please run. Otherweise just keep sipping your single malt with your buddies at the Saucon Valley Country Club.

The taxpayers will not be fooled by the bogus
Country Club Republ,ican argument that more money for "me" equals a better person. I guess they should be thrilled to pay their employees lots more money to get a better person.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The above statement, distilled logically, makes these points.

1) Jack Bradt was a businessman.

2) Jack Bradt was a trainwreck as human services director.

3) There, all businessmen are necessarily trainwrecks as public servants.

This argument is an association fallacy and is illogical.

Anonymous said...

One thing I do get from the statment Bernie, is that more money does not ensure quality. You know that but you are now on the side of big money for the county executive so you dismiss the main point of the poster.

So much for fallacy and illogic.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The main point concerning that commenter and you is that you are both illogical. Try using that and facts, instead of making personal attacks.

Anonymous said...

Money does not equal excellance in management, if that were the case Bethlehem Stwel would still be operating.