Thursday, May 16, 2013
Barron Von Footinmouth Helps Union Pal Jim Gregory
Jim Gregory is a Northampton County caseworker in Human Services, and works under Kathleen Kelly. A former Bethlehem City Council member, he's still very active in County and City politics, and is now threatening to run against Ken Kraft in Bethlehem. At election season, he is one of the many politicos who walk around with nomination petitions, collecting signatures. He's also very active in SEIU.
Not only did Gregory oppose Executive John Stoffa's centralized human services building, but he brought a client - a woman suffering from depression - to a Council meeting. He used her as a prop to complain about the County's desire to teach her to take buses and do more things for herself. He mentioned this woman's name several times during the taped meeting, completely violating her privacy. He insists that he had a signed consent from her, but consents signed by mentally challenged people would probably mean very little in Court.
In a rambling speech, he demanded that his boss, Kathleen Kelly, be fired. He also wants Director of Human Services Ross Marcus canned. Finally, he wants Executive John Stoffa to resign, though two short weeks before, he visited Stoffa's home without an invitation and spent an hour there watching the birds.
Though I'm a bastard, I hate seeing people fired unless they steal or abuse sick leave. So I'd hate to see Gregory fired, but the way he treats what they call "consumers" is just wrong. It's a form of abuse, and he's done it before. As you might have guessed, attempts are underway to discipline or perhaps even terminate Gregory, according to what he has publicly said himself.
This is where our political Controller steps into the fray. Barron von Footinmouth sees an opportunity to ingratiate himself with an SEIU steward, as well as a politico who can help him down the road.
So Barron decides to look over the expense sheets of Gregory's bosses, and discovers they were illegally charging the County for artwork at the new human services building. Before sharing that information with anyone else, he shared it with Gregory, who promptly made sure everyone knew about it
Last night, Barron finally mentioned it to Council, complaining about a lack of policies and procedure. Director of Human Services Ross Marcus had a few things to say himself.
First, the "artwork" was for a new conference room wall in the Bechtel Building, not the new Human Services building.
Second, for the past 23 years, it has been the policy and procedure of Northampton County to claim these kinds of incidental expenses exactly as was done in this case.
Third, the artwork was five prints, costing $20 per print, prepared by one of the county's own recovery groups, called Recovery Partnership. Their philosophy is that the mentally ill can still lead normal lives. (You can see the artwork here).
Fourth, receipts were attached for the expenses claimed.
When Barron complained that this incidental expense is improper, Marcus and other Human Services supervisors simply dug into their own pockets and paid for the prints themselves.
While Marcus gave his explanation, Barron repeatedly interrupted from the rear. I'd like Barron von Footinmouth to explain why he gave this information to Gregory before giving it to Council. Maybe it's time for someone to investigate the political use he is making of his own office.
This Controller is complaining about 5- $20 payments for prints from the County's own customers, something that would likely help them in their recovery. He thinks that's improper. But as Marcus told me after the meeting, "This is the same guy who thought that $85,000 a year for the Lifestar ambulance contract was too small to worry about."