Friday, August 02, 2013

NorCo Council Grumbles Over LVEDC Firings

Last week I told you that three heavyweights at Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. have been let go. Pete Reinke, VP of Business Development; Jean Mateff, VP of Administration and Investor Relations; and Bob Bilheimer, Director of Business Expansion, have all been shown the door. As I suspected, Northampton County Council were less than enthusiastic at the news. They were especially upset at the termination of Reinke.

Council President John Cusick: "Say what you want about Pete, at least he came here. He always answered our calls."

Scott Parsons: "Pete was our contact person? Who is our contact person? Do we have one?"

Ken Kraft: "We should demand that Don Cunningham [he's the boss] come here and tell us what is going on."

Bob Werner had no pithy comments, but did have a very depressing observation as a result of all his bed-time reading. According to the Fourth Economy Index, Lehigh County is rated #7 among communities "ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth." Despite being practically identical, both geographically and demographically, Northampton County is rated 167.

Something is obviously wrong.

Cunningham has been President and CEO of LVEDC for over a year, but has made no appearance at Northampton County Council. But in a statement to this blog last May, he pledged to "use all of my ability to work with everyone, whether they supported my selection or not, whether they are in the urban core of Allentown or the slate belt of Northampton County to find a way to get it done."

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only reason he will show up now is because he read it on your blog.

Anonymous said...

When he shows up the bullshit meter will break.

Anonymous said...

this is the guy who sold bethlum's landfill. costing millions that we are still paying for 10 years after his departure.

this is the guy Rendell fired from the state for being incompetent

his bs meter was broken long ago

Anonymous said...

"this is the guy Rendell fired from the state for being incompetent "

comlete bullshit

Anonymous said...

Let the games begin!! It is time for the county to realize there is very little the organization does. Cunningham admits their influence over development is minimal. They have no resources of their own. They have gotten behind some really bad projects. Failures are more quiet than successes but have put them at risk. Someone ought to start getting into the details.

Anonymous said...

Cunningham = Callahan trait for trait, lie for lie, sleaze for sleaze. These are two identical narcissists.

You usually ask too many questions. It's good to know you're standing down on Callahan. Good boy, Bernie. Good boy. Sit. Stay. Good boy.

Anonymous said...

Bernie - why haven't commented on who is left after the loss of these heavyweights? I'm surprised there isn't more commentary on your pal, Kingsley. He screwed up the bond projects and then moved on to LVEDC to screw up the New Job Corp projects. Jack Cook is rolling around in his grave...he never really liked "the kid" when he used to follow him around like a lost puppy. Would be embarrassed to know he is NCDC's legacy.

Anonymous said...

Since you are on the subject of
Cunningham, a little surprising to see him do a for-profit TV ad? What do others think?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Let the games begin!! It is time for the county to realize there is very little the organization does. Cunningham admits their influence over development is minimal. They have no resources of their own. They have gotten behind some really bad projects. Failures are more quiet than successes but have put them at risk. Someone ought to start getting into the details.

6:31 AM

If this is true, why does the taxpayer keep funding this organization with so many Valley residents suffering with threat of mortgage and tax payments. Maybe it's time to say adios.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm surprised there isn't more commentary on your pal, Kingsley. He screwed up the bond projects and then moved on to LVEDC to screw up the New Job Corp projects"

I have heard nothing but good things about Kingsley, and have no idea he screwed up any bond project here.

It kills me how people can say such nasty things when they don't have to sign their names.

Anonymous said...

Which company?

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County is rated #7 among communities "ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth." Despite being practically identical, both geographically and demographically, Northampton County is rated 167.

Do they hold themselves at all accountable for this fact? Also, I'm curious how much this has to do with the NIZ.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:13

You are so filled with hate! I feel sorry for you. Get some help.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:45, Since the rating was given in 2012 before the NIZ was under way, I would say zero. I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

"Bernie - why haven't commented on who is left after the loss of these heavyweights? I'm surprised there isn't more commentary on your pal, Kingsley."

You obviously don't know John or the work he has done and did not know Jack. Baseless accusations from another anonymous poster.

Anonymous said...

You idiots talk on here like You are surprised at all this....This has been the Cunningham and Callahan show for years don;t act surprised what the fuck do think the dems are shoving Callahan up Your ass for????
With hi in NORCO EXEC they will both fill thir pockets and retire foreer on everyone elses money....OPEN YOUR DUNMBASS EYES!!!!!

eastonpride said...

I really believe that County Council needs to understand that we are ranked so low and because of them. They have fought any type of bi-county support except for this one and they do nothing but trash the organization regardless of their leadership or their success. Personally I believe that without LVEDC the valley would be down many thousands of jobs.

That being said, Northampton County is a mess/ Totally disorganized, fiscally irresponsible and frankly I don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. They botched the bi-county efforts on the crime data center, central booking of inmates, bi-county health department and many more. No wonder Lehigh County is ahead of us -- they did all of them on their own.

The county house is in need of a total make-over and I hope that Callahan has the cojunes to do it. He seems too political for me and that's why I would have supported someone who is a political leader and and not a "politician." Someone like Grucela or Panto.

County Council needs to take a long look at their ranking and then look in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

eastonpride:

Norco had their central booking correctional operation in place and functioning two years before Lehigh County.

The rest of your comment is accurate though.

Anonymous said...

It's clear that NorCo is in for some serious Lehigh-izing. It could use it.

Anonymous said...

Eastonpride:

Norco had their Central Booking facility operating two years prior to Lehigh County.

The rest of your comment is accurate.

Anonymous said...

get rid of Ken Kraft he is an idiot anyway, he thinks he tell just about anyone what to do since he got on county council....one word LOSER!!!!

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County needs to be viewed in two segments: Allentown and the rest of the county. Until recently, Allentown wasn't on the screen. Any numbers related to Lehigh County (income, education, home value) was pulled down by Allentown... dramatically.

Norco needs to be viewed in several segments. Bethlehem/Easton, the Slate Belt and the rest of the county. Bethlehem's/Easton's income, education and home values compared to Allentown are wildly favorable. The presence of a regional school district helps in that endeavor. The Slate Bell is the weight that kills Norco. Poverty, poor education performance and lower home values span an entire segment of the county. If we were to isolate Lehigh County's economically best performing areas with Northampton County's economically best performing areas, they would be wildly strong. If we put Allentown up against Easton/Bethlehem, Allentown would be in sad shape. If we put Lehigh County's most struggling rural areas against Norco's slate belt, the Slate Belt would would struggle.

If LVEDC was created to help places like Allentown and the Slate Belt take advantage of the relative strength of the rest of the region. If LVEDC disappeared, places like the Slate Bell, which doesn't have the advantage of the NIZ, would fall by the way-side and Norco would be in a difficult position. It is entirely Norco's benefit to be associated with LVEDC.

That said, if the leadership of Norco was really interested in seeing improvements to its competitiveness relative to Lehigh County, it should want to see Norco's numbers improve, not Lehigh County's decline. To do that, the focus of public resources need to go to improving education, deconcentrating poverty and investing in infrastructure in the Slate Bell. Easton is rebounding nicely. Bethlehem is showing tremendous growth and will see more as a result of the NIZ like tools. The suburban townships are fantastically positioned. When examining Norco's opportunity for smart investment and room for economic growth, the Slate Belt is the area of concentration.

Consider, finally, the impact that the Lehigh County Authority has had on Lehigh County's suburbanization and growth (biggest growth in the county). These types of county level arrangements have an impact on competitiveness b/c local gov't fragmentation kills economic competitiveness. Not sure the folks in Norco recognize that. Not sure Norco has ANY county level endeavors that pool resources to fight off the effects of fragmentation.

Anonymous said...

by the way, the Route 33 interchange is a good example of Norco getting it right. LVEDC can't build roads. Norco found a way to do that. That helps the slate belt. Once built, LVEDC will have success pulling businesses into the area, just as it did when the Route 309 and Saucon Valley Road were improved in Southern Lehigh County and we are seeing with the completion of the Route 222 bypass in Western Lehigh County.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Cunningham-Callahan is there a difference?

Anonymous said...

LVEDO was created to keep crooked politicians like Cunningham and Callhan and the whole bunch in jobs stealing big ass salaries while the rest of us have to work.....and ohare sits on his blog defendinbg them!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"get rid of Ken Kraft he is an idiot anyway, he thinks he tell just about anyone what to do since he got on county council....one word LOSER!!!!"

I like Don. He is the boss, and has an obligation to pick people he thinks are best suited to his organization. But given the amount of money we give to LVEDC, KK has every right to "demand" Don to make an appearance. He's been there a year, and needs to go. Lamont McClure is looking for an excuse to pull the plug on hotel tax, and Cunningham is giving him one on a silver platter. Best to go and make himself known, and put some members at ease about the direction in which he is headed. I'm sure Din knows this and will be there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:54, I am the blogger who broke the story about their Summer hours. I broke several other rather unflattering stories about the LVEDC, including the one about these terminations. I predicted then that Council would be none too pleased and they were not. I reported their complaints. I reported that John Stoffa refused to voter for Cunningham.

I do like Cunningham, and believe he will turn things around there. But my reporting has hardly been a defense. In fact, my pieces have been more critical than at any other source.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:08, If you want to launch a personal attack against someone who is no longer in public office and is not thinking about running for anything, you have to identify yourself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:38, Don't know who you are, but I sure hope you are working for LVEDC.

Anonymous said...

Bernie's been tough and fair with LVEDC. I sense a developing disdain for the new regime after its initial moves, though. That's also fair. First impression mean a lot.

Anonymous said...

While we are discussing Lehigh County and Northampton County, let's consider the flawed gaming legislation. With the exception of Allentown and three or four communities contiguous to Bethlehem, Lehigh County has little tangible benefit from gaming revenue. The furthest reaches of Norco county are eligible to benefit from Monroe AND Norco Gaming revenue. Hellertown and Easton aim to double dip. While I think it is important that the cities receive their defined benefit from gaming, FIX the legislation to so that excess revenue above the defined take is dedicated to redevelopment of our Brownfields to create jobs and remove blight across the LC. Current law redistributes surplus revenue back to the original benefactors.

Anonymous said...

marketing is just a fancy word for sales. What happens after the sale? Who finds the financing, who finds the employees? Who expedites the problems with zonin g, planning and conservation? LVEDC as a pure marketing organization is a laugh. Everyone with the skills to actually do something concrete has been let go.

The new mantra is: If it makes the paper it must be good. Let's talk about job creation. Actual job creation doesn't matter as long as we get press for talking about it.

Anonymous said...

Norco screwed up the gaming fee form day one. Stoffa agreeing to give over half of the counties share away was the biggest mistake. Then County Council making the rest a pork barrel grab bag for anyone in the county was the next mistake.

The majority of money should have gone to Human Services as originally intended and part to "contiguous" communities that show an "impact" from gaming.

This has been mismanaged since day one. Lehigh County and Allentown got money, they never should have received.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So much for regionalism.

Anonymous said...

7:55.
You are absolutely right because Stoffa and Boscolla decided to give half the money to Allentown for their "impact" a total joke.
But unless you sit or sat on the board you have no right to talk about who gets impact money.
Step up an get involved and maybe you will be able to grasp what they do. Until the shut up you anonymous troll.

Anonymous said...

Friend @ 755.

In January, the Commonwealth Financing Authority approved $1.7 million in grants for Northampton County projects. The projects are funded through gaming revenue at the Mount Airy Casino Resort in Monroe County.

Would you have guessed that Mount Airy funded the Route 33 Interchange to the tune of $450K and a water and sewer line project in a Lower Nazareth Business Park at $440K? While these may be notable projects, they have no relevance to "impact" from gaming. The Sands holds an exclusivity on gaming in the LV and now competes for hotel and retail business. Under this circumstances, shared benefits from gaming is appropriate.

Anonymous said...

"But unless you sit or sat on the board you have no right to talk about who gets impact money"

The words of the "entitled". Nice attitude. Hope you are not "serving" on any public committee or board.

Must be one of the Callahan clan.

Anonymous said...

friend @755
Please share with me the source of your information. Your commengts are extremely questionable since The Bethlehem Steel was still in operation when the funding mechanism was put in place for Rt33

Anonymous said...

They are talking about the new interchange for the rt 33

I guess your reading and comprehension skills are lacking?

Anonymous said...

116. I presume your question is directed at 1119. If so, the information is scatter in the press and county press releases. One source location for the $1.7m gaming grants can be found in a January press release from Sen Boscla. We could be talking about different Rt 33 interchange projects. My point to 755 and 826 is that Norco is using gaming money for things other than gaming "impact"

The Commonwealth invested $10's million in south side. I feel that excess proceeds from gaming should benefit revitalization projects in the LV, not redistributed to the same benefactors.