Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Cusick's Election as Council Prez Illegal

The Express Times has a thorough report concerning yesterday's Northampton County Council reorganization, in which three members decided on this year's leadership. I am one of Lamont McClure's harshest critics, but yesterday's travesty is illegal.

First, you can't allow one Council member (Republican Peg Ferraro) to participate by phone, while denying that same right to another Council member (Democrat Ken Kraft). That, in effect, has disenfranchised the entire Bethlehem District of Northampton County, which is represented by Kraft. It's a basic violation of due process and is anti-Democratic.

Second, to be elected, John Cusick needed five votes, not three. The Home Rule Charter clearly states that it must act by resolution for any matter that requires it to express its consensus, which is majority will. A resolution requires five of the nine votes. Something as basic as its own leadership requires a majority of the entire Council, not just those who happen to be there that day. Arguing that it was just a motion exalts procedure over substance.

Third, Cusick should not be allowed to vote for himself because he has a direct financial interest in the matter, unless he is willing to sign a waiver, agreeing that he will accept no compensation above and beyond what is paid to a Council member. His vote for himself is contrary to the state Ethics Act.

Finally, how ironic that the three members of Council involved in this illegal exercise - Cusick, Ferraro and Tom Dietrich - just happen to be the same three Council members who organized the cabal against the evil Ron Angle.

They need to do this again on Thursday night.

Updated 11:20 AM: - Werner Sidelined by Illness, Too. -  Bob Werner, like Kraft, was battling an illness yesterday, and that is why he was absent.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

What does it matter..Honestly, if all of them were there, the outcome would be the same..It's what's called much ado about nothing..Absolutely..It's fun to argue and debate about but in the end Council was going to vote who they voted for anyway..maybe 5-4 but the result is the same..Who cares??

Anonymous said...

This whole issue is Bizzare. If there is no quorum of Council, you cannot conduct the business of the County. The meeting was advertised by the Council Clerk as an official meeting of the County Council. In order to be an absebtee voting member of the Council, you must prearrange your vote being cast so to avoid any conflict with another member not being present. That voting procedure should not be abused. Vacations are not an excuse where illness or an emergency is an excuse.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:48, If Cusick is unable to vote for himself, as I contend, he has only four votes.So it actually does matter.

If one Council member on holiday is permitted to participate by phone, while another who is ill is not, you are replacing a representative democracy with an oligarchy. The fact that the result would be the same in this instance is no justification.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so what you are saying is that it isn't right for Ken (representing Bethlehem) to be disenfranchised but it's okay to have Cusick's district disenfranchised by not allowing him to vote for himself? You can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

If we recall when Ron Angle was voted out as president, angle voted for himself forcing cusick to then vote for himself to break the tie. I hope you remember that Bernie. But in this instance I actually agree with you, they should have waited. And for Cusick to accept ferraro on the phone without giving kraft the same opportunity, especially since kraft was ill and ferraro was on vacation, truly shows his manipulation.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:02

You are missing the point. Cusick can vote for himself if agrees in advance to decline the pay increase that comes with being the chair. Otherwise he is voting for a raise for himself during his current term.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:13, You are right. Angle voted for himself, as have many past Council Presidents. I believe the practice is wrong, and prefer what they do in Lehigh. I also think a Council member can vote for himself when there is a tie out of what is called the doctrine of necessity. I might be right or wrong. But that issue pales when a Council member is prevented from voting at all, as occurred with Kraft. I know I am right about that. You can't allow one member to vote while depriving another.

Anonymous said...

What does Lehigh do ??? Lehigh Does the Same Thing. The Person Going for Chairman OR Vice Chairman is Allowed to Vote for Themselves.

Anonymous said...

Ever since Kraft got voted in , council has'nt been the same I think He needs to stop holding private sessions in the morning at Spiro's Restaurant then maybe the folks of Northampton County would have a chance!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:48, In Lehigh, as I believe I have pointed out, the Chair waives the extra pay.

C said...

Good for Scott for abstaining.

Anonymous said...

Bizzare has been the nickiname of the Northampton County
Council for for some time now. If I am not mistaken, there was a time when you actually had relatively normal and intelligent people serve on that body. They knew when meetings were held and the significance of the first meeting. They to had jobs. It was never genteel and always a bit rough but at least at the end of the day they were honest and did the right thing.

What say you Bernie?

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Scott Parsons. As a new memebr of county council if he had concerns over the bizzare behavior of the so-called veterns, he did th eright thing by abstaining and cannot fault him for that.

No mentors on this Board. The only reason Lamont steped up was out of personal desires.

Anonymous said...

Again, who really cares..If all 9
were there the result would have been the same..You are wrong about Cusick being able to vote for himself..however, even if he or any opponent couldnt vote for themselves, the vote would be the same..Doubt that they need five votes..What if they had three or more people running..They'd never get to five..majority of votes should rule..Again, who cres..The majority of Council wanted Cusick and he won..If Peg wanted it, she would have gotten five votes. However, she supported Cusick..So, in the end, it doesnt matter..

eckville press said...

"What does it matter..Honestly, if all of them were there, the outcome would be the same..It's what's called much ado about nothing..Absolutely..It's fun to argue and debate about but in the end Council was going to vote who they voted for anyway..maybe 5-4 but the result is the same..Who cares??"

The families of our fallen military personnel, whom sons and daughters gave their life, fighting for democracy in foreign wars.

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Anonymous said...

Then move to Lehigh county.

AMOrlando said...

Bernie, where did Phil Lauer get that interpretation? He is completely wrong and the Council members relied on his bad advice. However, as you know, the ultimate remedy is just a re-vote. Do you know if the result would change with all 9 voting?

Anonymous said...

I think I detected a "hanging chad". This may go to the supreme court. The issue should be brought before Council on Thursday and revoted. What occured was wrong regardless of how the outcome of the vote is tallied. Do it fair and do it right. Also, since the salary of the president of council was established some time ago, the issue of voting himself a raise is utter nonsense. He assumed a leadership position on Council that gives a 500 dollar supplement to whoever holds the position. That issue will not hold up in court. Now for that hanging Chad??????

Anonymous said...

you pick your nose when no one watches then decide to sneak a quick nibble when people walk by.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:32, Agreed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

AMOrlando, I think the result qwould have been the same had all 9 been there, but it would have been democratic.

Anonymous said...

I really think Scott Parsons should stop posting on here how great he is and believe that he shirked his responsibilities by not voting for his democrat or republican friend who was running for the position.

Anonymous said...

Dear 2:38,

Very funny..What the hell does that have to do with the county reorganization vote?? Geez..You tea nuts are crazy!

Matt M. said...

You are welcome, Bernie for the video link last night.

I still find it very hard to believe that there is no contingency plan for a call-in meeting, or video conferencing.

If the county can post videos of every meeting online, it can certainly run a live meeting with more than one councilperson able to meet, but maybe not able to attend in Easton at 4:30pm.


Anonymous said...

Bernie is right again and all of you haters will be shown to be wrong again. The real dumbass is the solicitor. He must have gotten his copy of the MPC out of a cracker jack box.

JOHN M

Bernie O'Hare said...

" since the salary of the president of council was established some time ago, the issue of voting himself a raise is utter nonsense."

I disagree. It does not matter when the salary was set. If a Council member decided to vote on a matter in which he has a direct financial interest, which is certainly the case for Council President, he is possibly in violation of the state Ethics Act.

Lehigh County does not consider this argument "utter nonsense."

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Do you know if the result would change with all 9 voting?"

I suspect it would not. They should re-do the vote to removes any appearance of impropriety.

Bernie O'Hare said...

".What the hell does that have to do with the county reorganization vote?? Geez..You tea nuts are crazy! "

It has a lot to do with it. Starting with the Revolutionary War, many Americans have given their life for a representative form of government. Yesterday's vote was not representative democracy, but was more akin to oligarchy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

". As a new memebr of county council if he had concerns over the bizzare behavior of the so-called veterns, he did th eright thing by abstaining and cannot fault him for that."

Agreed. I give him a lot of credit.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" It was never genteel and always a bit rough but at least at the end of the day they were honest and did the right thing."

I was actually in awe of Council, back in the day.

Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein said...

I just watched that farce on the internet. I really don't like McClure, but he made a lot of sense. Lauer's reasoning just seemed off. But it took a lot of guts to do what Parsons did by abstaining.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised Ditrich went along woht this. His reelection possibilites are shaky at best. His "conversion" on Gracedale was opportune but too little too late, and he will be swept away.

He just gave Cusick more name exposure going into the election year. Frankly, since Dietrich helped engineer the Angle coup, he should have demanded the Council Presidency since he is the most vulnerable Republican running.

Other than Peg, I think all are toast.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Juan, I'm pretty much on total agreement with you, so you must be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Parsons actions are the only actions that made sense for a new member of county council.

Cusick and Ferarro should be ashamed of themselves. And yes I do realize McClures objections were only self-serving but even a broken cloock is right twice a day.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:05, I doubt that people will get too fired up about this, so I think Peg will be alright. But for Cusick and Dietrich, this is just another leak in their sinking ships.

Anonymous said...

Both sides are crooked. It beats having Democrats run things.

Anonymous said...

"Cusick, Ferraro and Tom Dietrich - just happen to be the same three Council members who organized the cabal against the evil Ron Angle."

Sounds like a campaign slogan. Hope the they put that on a post card.

eckville press said...

Bernie @ 7:10

Thanks, we were thinking alike.

Now I'm scared.

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Bernie O'Hare said...

That would get them votes, but would lose them votes, too.

eckville press said...

Bernie @ 7:10

Thanks, we were thinking alike.

Now I'm scared.

Respectfully,
Eckville Press

Bernie O'Hare said...

Eck, Maybe you should go to confession.

Juan Luis Pedro Felipo de Huevos Epstein said...

Bernie,

I pity the priest that has to hear your confession. And please let us know where and when it will be, so we can stay far away.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That will be Father Alex, after he is ordained in May. It might be enough to make him leave the priesthood before he gets started, especially when he finds out about my fondness for ... parakeets.

Anonymous said...

It's Bizzare vs Wacky then!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, i remember a few years back, the Express ran a story on elected officials attendance in Norco. From county, to city, to twnshp, to school boards. Could u do that?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, i remember a few years back, the Express ran a story on elected officials attendance in Norco. From county, to city, to twnshp, to school boards. Could u do that?

Anonymous said...

He does that for the County Council. it would take alot of time to check into the other municipal boards. The average attendance is around 75% give or take.

danthemann

zoid said...

I think county council members attendance is horrible and should not be acceptable to voters. You ran and got elected to do a job and represent the people. You know the regularly scheduled meetings and things should easily be scheduled to accommodate those meetings. Except in a rare instance where someone is sick there is no excuse for missing meetings. I sit on the board of a local municipality and I do not miss our twice a month meetings, I work the rest of my schedule, vacation, etc. around them; furthermore I also regularly attend planning commission, zoning hearing board and rec board meetings. Cannot do your job if you miss meetings and are not informed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:48, I could do that, but it would be very time-consuming. In NC, I do an annual check on attendance. McClure's attendance is horrible, and Gilbert's is pretty bad now, too.

I will say that the new Council is much better at attendance than its predecessor.

In Bethlehem, Behtlehem Township and Hanover Tp, which I regularly cover, there is no need for a report bc it is not an issue. These guys are everywhere, whether they have to be or not.

Paul Weiss could work as a blogger bc he sometimes attends meetings outside of Bethlehem Tp.

Anonymous said...

so ZOID is Al Bernatos new alias?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I believe the Milk Marketing Board case says you can participate remotely in a meeting but you cannot Chair a meeting remotely. Those absent could have called in if they were away or too sick to be there to vote. Yes?

Anonymous said...

Hey zoid, don't break your arm patting yourself on the back.

Bernie, my only problem with Peg is she seems to be doing this job becasue she can. She gets elected easily and then acts like its more of a hobby than anything else. I doubt she has ever researched an issue.

Anonymous said...

At a meeting last year it was clear that Peg didn't know the approximate populations of Bethlehem,Allentown and Easton.
........ I know, I know, if I didn't hear it myself I wouldnt have believed it myself.

Anonymous said...

It could be worse. We could have A-town's council sitting in the seats of Star Chambers in NorCo!

Anonymous said...

You people are all just haters. Is not council better than it was and more effective since Angel and Dodd where kicked to the curb? I beat Angel and I changed the way council works all by myself. So peg does not know the exact population of a borough or something, come on, we can still ride in floats together and drink beer, one happy NORCO family

Anonymous said...

Yeah but it still just nods its head at anything Stoffa tells them. Look at how they are going to do this stupid multi-million dollar un-needed Human Services building. This at a time when human service money is flatlining. A bunch of dopes that are proving no better than the last group of dopes.

Anonymous said...

Hey! Gracedale Goons are not allowed to post here. Go back to your own hate blog.