Friday, January 24, 2014

Welcome to Northampton County, Inc.

At a time when local governments in Allentown and Lehigh County are discussing ways to house the homeless on code blue nights, Northampton County Executive John Brown delivered something of a mini-inaugural address at County Council last night. Instead of discussing the importance of actually helping people, he said his focus will be "to keep taxes as low as possible" but still delivering services in a "cost effective" way. "We do have to manage and control all costs," Brown said, more in the style of a corporate CEO as opposed to the leader of a County government.

He made these remarks after his first real victory before Council. He had to withdraw his controversial choice for Public Defender earlier in the week. Could get his picks for Human Services and DCED Director picks confirmed.

Both are questionable.?

Voice over artist Diane Donaher, Brown's DCED pick, has not worked in economic development in 13 years. Most of her jobs, short-lived ones at that, are in the non-profit sector. During confirmation hearings, she stated that she had worked on a KOZ, a specialized economic development tool, in Bethlehem. But Bethlehem has never had one. She also disparaged the office she will be heading, claiming they are all office types, unlike her.

Allison Frantz, the Human Services choice, was even worse. She acknowledged in confirmation hearings that she's never supervised more than eight people. But as pointed out by Council member Bob Werner, there are 992 Human Services employees, 827 of whom are full-time. In addition, she knows nothing about the County's controversial nursing home, Gracedale, and several other aspects of human services. She has no experience in negotiating union contracts. But Brown picked her because she repeatedly said his magic words - fiscal management. Never mind that her own record in Lehigh County is one of fiscal mismanagement.

Five votes were needed to confirm. There are five Republicans on Council, so this should have been a cinch. But newly elected Council member Glenn Geissinger is off somewhere in the U.S. Virgin Islands, while the rest of us are freezing, the lucky bastard. Now there's a problem. To make things worse, another newly elected Council member, Republican Mat Benol, advised that he had to leave early for a family emergency. A sure thing suddenly became questionable.

Council Prez Peg Ferraro handled this by making sure that Glenn was able to phone in from the Virgin Islands, which is legally permissible. She also stood the agenda on its head, moving these confirmations up in the agenda so Benol could vote and get the hell out of there before Steve DeSalva talked for three hours about generators.

The Frantz nomination passed along party lines, five to three. Council member Bob Werner's argument that this position is not one that should be "viewed as on-the-job training," was rejected.

Frantz will be paid $95, 921, with room to move up to $124,975.

Donaher was confirmed six to two, with only Council members Ken Kraft and Bob Werner dissenting. Noting that Donaher has not worked in economic development in a decade, Kraft complained that a "real powerhouse" is needed.

Kraft also complained about the $80,113 salary, which has room to grow to $114.039.

Council member Lamont McClure was absent, which is why only only eight votes were cast on these votes.

In the meantime, most of Brown's cabinet is still unfilled.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like county council was less than enthusiastic about these two appointments.

Wonder how they will play out after the ceremony and actually on the job. It doesn't seem like he has found any real solid overall county function background in these picks.

As for HS, I know the haters will attack but I wish Ron would have applied for the job, not that he would have got it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Brown wants someone who will back him as he guts programs by saying they don't work. She clearly is unqualified, but said the magic words.

Anonymous said...

At best two lousy draft choices. Off the bench players at best not first round picks. Allison and Brown sound like they went to the same language school together.
One question...will Alicia`s position be filled ? If not , how did Brown improve this department ? He simply paid some one more money to do what Alicia did. Although a royal pain, she was effective e.g., KOZ, Gaming Revenue from Monroe County , Route 33 interchange negotitions and the list goes on. Obviously this will be both a penny wise and penny foolish administration.

Anonymous said...

These two appointees sound like they are very poorly prepared for their positions - perfect choices for government.

Anonymous said...

Alicia is somewhere dropping F bombs.

O'Hare you putz. Your buddy Ross Mucus cut many programs. He privatized many programs. He and Stoffa cut positions from Aging and let MR go to vendors. Mr. Brown talks about trying to save money and you attack him.
He has yet to do a bit of all the damage done by your old buddies.

Face it O'Hare you come form a place of hate!

Anonymous said...

I'll take F Bombs and results. This administration is already adrift!

Anonymous said...

ohare is sucking on sour grapes because his horse lost. this blog is better than the comics

Anonymous said...

Maybe a royal pain but she fought for the tax payer and got results. Dee Dee already appears to lack direction and understanding of diced and the lv, which means she'll be taking her orders from others. I wonder who that will be.

Anonymous said...

lousy reporting- no mention of the solicitors office

Anonymous said...

Where was LaMutt?His comments on these lousy picks would have been priceless.

Anonymous said...

You used the quote "to keep taxes as low as possible" almost sarcastically. But wasn't that your mantra for the last 5 years and the county was falling apart?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh, I believe in keeping taxes low, and cutting costs. ut i am not going to fire people or eliminate services to reach my goals. I believe Brown will do that, which is why he wanted Frantz in Human Services. and why he has already cut two live bodies from the Solicitor's office. It's a balancing act, but Brown is going to lean on the side of cutting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"lousy reporting- no mention of the solicitors office"

I was tired and disgusted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The cuts that Stoffa and Marcus made were bc the state imposed cuts. They really had no choice in the matter, just as they had no choice when the state decided to close the state hospital.

Anonymous said...

Working poor, struggling taxpayers appreciate all efforts to help them pay bills and keep houses. They're also not heartless and understand that the vulnerable need the help we can afford to provide. Many of us tithe. Not all of us can afford to give as much. Balance is needed. But taxpayers make it all happen and easing the path to job creation should be priority one. A rising tide lifts all boats.

Anonymous said...

The failure rate of government is 100%. But, unlike businesses, they can just keep reaching into our pockets and borrowing borrowed money instead of suffering the consequence.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

It's beginning to look like nobody who is qualified is willing to work for the government. Those who are willing don't have a clue, and get the jobs by BS'ing their way into them. No wonder this country is going down the tubes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:14, if economic development is Brown's #1 priority and it's all about trickle down economics, you'd think he'd pick a DCED Director who actually knows something about it, as opposed to a failed voice over artist who can't seem to hold a job.

Anonymous said...

The cost of victory is JB's idealism and business acumen. He is being hamstrung by the people who paid handsomely for that political victory. It's payback time and it is too bad because he is better than this. These choices will have to fail..and they probably will of their own doing..but until then..he will have to go along with his handlers advice.

Anonymous said...

Exellent point, Bernie. If what you say about her is true, and the Exec is serious about running the gov't like a business, it seems there would be opportunity to negotiate that salary down based on her not having much leverage. Maybe couple that with an incentive package tied to tangible results.

That is what a businessman or, at least, the ones I associate with would do.

Nah, still seems like government as usual to me.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

Our current problems were created by generations of government lifers. I'm not thrilled with his appointments. But we really couldn't do much worse than those who got us here. I guess it depends upon how much faith you put in government. Those who like government are upset. Those who don't like it are mostly indifferent, figuring they'll get stuck with a higher bill either way. And they will.

Anonymous said...

Business acumen? Its a secret what this guy did for a living pre/post election. As far as negotiating the salary, I believe Scott Parsons made a motion to that effect, but didn't receive any support. And of course, McClure was MIA.

Anonymous said...

You know nothing about JB. I do and you are sadly misinformed. These missteps are not his. Take a deep breath and put your gun back in it's holster.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let's drop references to guns. I know you are speaking figuratively, but what you wrote could be misconstrued. I ask that you avoid using it, and hope you understand.

Anonymous said...

And government fails all of the time except the tax payer is fleeced to keep it looking like it hasn't failed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So is it your solution then that we have no government and run around in a state of anarchy? No thanks. I point out problems in government nearly every day but the notion that government run like business is idiotic. Government and business serve different goals. I agree that we need to make it fiscally responsive, but do not support deep cuts in services just to avoid tax hikes.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious we need some changes. What they are I do not know. This tax and spend that we always do is really most unfair to the taxpayer. We should do a better job figuring out who really needs or deserves the help. Government is always wasteful. If you paid more taxes you might see that. You do not own a home so right there you save plenty. Government is too big on all
levels..

Bernie O'Hare said...

Don't get personal with me simply because you don't like what I am saying. You don't know my circumstances and I have no intention of revealing them to someone who does not even identify himself or herself. Continue the personal attacks and you will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't meant to be so personal. Just stating the differences between those who rent and those who own property. Renters simply do not pay the taxes a homeowner pays and therefore doesn't feel the pinch as much. That was my point. Sorry if it came across as an attack. Again was just a point. I don't care who rents just that they feel less.....

Bernie O'Hare said...

Like I said, you don't know my circumstances or whether I pay taxes. All you know is that I do not own the property at which I live, and that is bc I choose to state that fact . There are other facts of which you are unaware that I choose not to disclose in this setting. But you are wrong. Even if you were correct about my situation. Renters pay landlords. When their taxes go up, so does the rent. Under your reasoning, the Republican candidate for Lehigh County Exec was a terrible choice bc he owns no real estate. You also apparently classify renters as second class citizens. We have a Constitution that says something else.

Anonymous said...

These mistakes are not his? What a profile in courage....

Anonymous said...

10:01 are you f-n serious? You know that an apartment owner pays taxes on the property right? Ok now follow along here because I know your logical thinking is a bit off. Where do you think the apartment owners get the tax money from? If renters popped into your mind, all is not lost, pat yourself on the back for being semi smart. Of course Bernie pays taxes. Everybody does, just because he does not get a bill like you and I from the county schools etc, he pays every month and it is part of the basis for his rent. Sheesh you people are so stupid sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the above. Renters pay what amounts maybe to a mortgage payment. That's it. Should they live for free? We make the rent payment, to the bank and then the taxes not mentioning all of the repairs for landlords and homeowners. You are not making sense here. If I sell my home today and ditch my say 1200.00 dollar mortgage I also ditch insurance for the dwelling, taxes and repairs. What part of paying rent only don't u get????? Nothing to do with Bernie persae. Homeowners pay much more which is my point. Do you only pay what Would amount to a rental payment? Talk about being stupid. You implied this not me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Stick to the topic, please, or I will be deleting you.

Anonymous said...

How in the world can anyone justify giving this lady $95,000 a year with very little experience.

Someone suggested this to Mr. Brown since he is not an HS guy.
That is who you should ask Mr. O'Hare.

I mean the selection makes no sense. Especially with all the problems in the Department.

I think Mr. Brown is listening to the wrong person or people. What a dud of a pick. If he has to worry about a crisis it will come in this department, since it has the most action.

Anonymous said...

Come on man that is not fair. She has more experience than Ross Marcus had when Stoffa hired him and no one including Bernie complained about that one.

Let us try to be consistent if not fair.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Marcus dedicated his career to human services, and his boss was a HS Director. Brown has had no involvement in HS and picked someone who knows about one aspect, mismanaged that, and has no knowledge of anything else.

Anonymous said...

Ross Marcus had more knowledge in his little pinky when confirmed that Frantz seems to have in her entire body. Ross was always articulate and to the point. He never resorted to the convoluted lexicon that Frantz used during her hearing. She is all smoke and no sizzle.

Anonymous said...

Where are the Save Gracedale folks on this one? Shouldn't they be screaming about her lack of nursing home experience?

Anonymous said...

I think they are C-Team picks at best but I'm not really worried about what they will do. I think both will resign within a year.

Frantz is in over her head and she'll soon conclude that herself. Donaher won't like the hours, scrutiny or having to deal with LVEDC and the Airport and head back to the non-profit world.

I think both Brown and Muller are having a hard time filling their cabinets. Muller's job is easier because he kept a lot of Cunningham remnants on. Let's not forget he's touted out McCarthy and a tired and retired Dennis Reichard, not exactly blue chippers themselves.

Anonymous said...

Not fair O'Hare. The truth is that Marcus had less human service experience than Ms. Frantz. Your deleting that fact doesn't; change it.

You attack her but said not a word when marcus was selected.

he may have committed his life to human services but his resume was not committed.
so who is bullshitting whom?

Anonymous said...

Your doing a helluva job Brownie. Keep it up. He is clearly in over his head. I heard he wanted to give DCED to Lucy Lennon first over Diane. That would have been rich. Good luck passing that background check!

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is Lucy is pushing Brown to pick Hector as his Director of Admisntration.