|Callahan with his wife and children|
It's a good thing it was at Gracedale. I thought his first term as Exec might be over before he was done with his speech. About twenty people nearly died of exposure, including the Evil Jim Hickey, but they are recuperating in the nursing home.
Doctors have been unable to locate Hickey's heart. Or my brain.
|Why the Hell isn't he frozen?|
There was some question whether it was appropriate for a politician to make his announcement at Gracedale, but administrators there were ecstatic. "Are you kidding? We now have enough hot air to keep the building heated for the rest of the Winter," said one, who asked not to be identified. "If we could only get Angle, we could heat the entire County."
In 2011, Northampton County voters decided overwhelmingly, in a hotly disputed referendum, to keep Gracedale. Callahan, who signed the referendum petition in 2011, made clear at his announcement that he considers the nursing home a "core function" of County government. "Outsourcing it would be the equivalent of Bethlehem outsourcing our police department, I just don't agree with it," he said.
I don't know how much clearer he could be, unless he actually moved into the place. But his commitment was still challenged by several referendum proponents who appeared at yesterday's announcement, led by Forks Township resident and Fake Reverend Mario Martinez. Calling him "Callahoffa" on their blog, they wanted the Bethlehem Mayor to sign some kind of Loyalty Oath to keep Gracedale in County hands. He did it on the spot, but they now think it's some kind of trick.
Contrary to the claims of many critics, and I was once one of them, Callahan stated that he has been a good fiscal steward in Bethlehem.
"During a time when many cities are bankrupt or near bankruptcy, Bethlehem is in its strongest position in decades, with a bright future. We have eliminated the deficit, and we have $90 million less debt today than when I started. We have tackled some of the toughest of the legacy costs and we ran back to back surpluses, a million dollars this year. Not many municipalities can say that."His priorities as County Executive?
"My priorities are straightforward, deliver cost effective County services, most especially these services right here at Gracedale, preserve our farmland and promote redevelopment of our brownfields, create the opportunities for the private sector to grow our tax base and create jobs, so that our neighborhoods stay safe and our schools stay strong."The Bethlehem Mayor would also like to bring a little-publicized program to Northampton County called "Continuous Improvement (CI)," in which employees are encouraged to find ways to deliver services more efficiently. In Bethlehem, a 42-day business permit process has been shortened to 14, thanks to innovations from the people who actually work inside the halls of government. In addition, it saves money and has saved $13 million in Bethlehem, according to Callahan.
Callahan plans no major infrastructure bonds. His rival, former Executive Glenn Reibman, floated a $111 bond in 2001 for numerous projects throughout "the four corners of the County." Callahan called it a re-election gimmick. "That's not the right motivation for taxpayer dollars," said Callahan. "I think the taxpayers of the County deserved better and deserve better in the future." He later added, "It wasn't about jobs and infrastructure. It was about getting Glenn Reibman re-elected."
Callahan was joined at his announcement by his wife, Mafalda, and his three children. He apologized to them in advance for his time on the campaign trail.
After it was all over, though freezing, I went over to introduce myself to Mafalda. One touch and I was warm. Magic. Now I know why Hizzoner needs no overcoat.