Monday, April 21, 2014

Ethical Questions Over Brown's Proposed Director of Administration

In the wake of Tom Harp's resignation as Director of Administration, Northampton County Executive John Brown has proposed that Deputy Director Cathy Allen take his place. This is a mistake.

Cathy Allen, who happens to be a Republican, has been on Bangor Borough Council for five years and is currently its President. She is paid $600 per year. What's interesting to me is how she got there, and what she's learned in the business world. This is especially important because she has no education beyond a high school diploma.

Until she went to work for Brown as a Deputy Director of Administration, she was the "office manager" of a two-person office in Bangor called Diversified Financial Planners, Inc. The other person in that office is the boss. That corporation is owned - lock, stock and barrel - by Marino Saveri.

He knows all about diversification.

Until late last year, Saveri was a member of Bangor Borough Council. He was also one of their two paid representative to Bangor Borough Authority. For some reason, the Bangor Borough Authority pays two Council members to attend their meetings. This presents all kinds of ethical problems, especially when the Authority has a matter before Council..

In 1999, Saveri proposed and may have actually audited Bangor's books himself to save the borough the expense of an independent and professional audit.

It does not stop there. Saveri is also the paid Administrator of the Bangor Borough Authority. As a member of Bangor Borough Council, Saveri never shied away from advocating for the interests of the Borough Authority.

In a nutshell, Saveri is a walking conflict who makes Karen Dolan look like a Girl Scout by comparison.

This is the problem. The only real job Cathy Allen has had is as Saveri's protege.

Three years after graduating from high school in '81, she went to work with Saveri, and stayed with him until Brown recruited her.

While working for Saveri, she became a long term care insurance sales person. She sold policies to seniors. This makes her no expert on risk management.

Aside from Cub Scouts, she was never involved in anything. Then four years ago, out of the blue, she ran for and was elected to Bangor Borough Council.

Saveri needed an ally. Maybe Brown, newly elected Mayor, needed an ally, too.  

When the heat began to turn up on Saveri, he resigned his seat on Bangor Borough Council late last year.

The person he wanted to replace him was none other than Stephanie Merlo, the Pius X volunteer coach who had never even been registered to vote before her appointment. Allen voted for her, and when the matter ended up in a tie, then Mayor Brown broke the tie to vote for her.

Only a few weeks after this, Merlo was accused of corrupting the morals of a minor at Pius X. Allen, as President of Borough Council, refused all calls for information.

So she has no real academic education. From her work history, you can see that the only thing she has been schooled in is engaging in conflicts of interest, combined with a refusal to be transparent.

It would be irresponsible to set this person loose on 2,000 county workers and a $330 million budget, without an extensive background check. There is also no way that Northampton County Council should confirm a sitting Borough Council President to Director of Administration because it presents too many opportunities for the same kind of conflict that existed with Allen's mentor.

As things stand, most of the clerks in the row offices have more education and experience than Allen. But they don't get paid the $88,000 salary Brown is proposing for her.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see this as more of the same from Brown. the guy is really treading water. why has he not asked an experienced person to come in on an interim basis with the long term objective of helping Ms. Allen to acclimate to the top spot by next year, while still serving as Assistant Dir.

There are some people out there who know county operations inside and out., with executive experience. The other day someone jokingly mentioned Heckman and Hickey. I am a Republican and I don't think it sounds that funny.

Brown could do a shit load worse, than that. I really think he needs some intense hands on experience for at least the rest of this year.

Republicans are scratching their heads at this point. What is the "Brown Plan"..

Bernie O'Hare said...

While he's entitled to his own Council, I honestly believe all the worst habits have been ingrained into Allen.

Anonymous said...

holy shit.

doesn't the hrc or admin code lay out any minimum level of qualification for this post?

Anonymous said...

thanks for this post BO. I just couldn't figure out why brown was screwing up so badly but this article straightened it out for me.

Apparently there is massive inbreeding going on in banger or is that bangher

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? A county administrator with NO public administration experience and only a HS education, probably to earn over $80 K? Boy, did she ever fall ass-backwards into a job she is under-qualified for! Brown must be losing his mind. There HAS to be someone better qualified in our area for such an important position.

Anonymous said...

The Bangor Mafia plus payoffs to consultants. What a refreshing way to run county government.

county corruption said...

Mr.O'hare,Thanks for exposing this terrible situation-
if this weren't so serious, this would be laughable. Kathy Allen is a Saveri protege: all talk- no results. Besides no formal education or business administration experience, she follows the Saveri plan of failure. Saveri's business background is replete with failures. He was in the mill, restaurant, and insurance business- all failures. His BS got him his first real job- a posh position with the borough authority where he reports to no one. This guy can't balance his own check book, let alone audit an authority's books. Ask any RESPECTED BUSINESS OWNER IN THE SLATE BELT, about Marino Saveri- and they'll roll their eyes. If you call his so called "insurance office," you get either a part-time kid with no insurance experience or an answering machine. Kathy Allen worked there part-time; if she did show up at the office, she spent more time outside- chain smoking. This is really serious- someone so incompetent in such an important position. Instead of doing the right thing for the county- appointing the best qualified person for the job- he's filling them with incompetent "buddies." Another example is Dave Ceraul as solicitor to the Sheriff. Another poor choice. He served as Bangor's solicitor- at his best, he's an average attorney, who has sucked off of slate municipalities for years. As far as the Stephanie Merlo appointment, she's the goddaughter of Marino Saveri- surprise, surprise. I voted for Brown, but I couldn't be more disappointed in him. Just like Marino Saveri, he BS'd the voters- He's an imposter. Stay on this story, something definitely is rotten in the county of Northampton.

Anonymous said...

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse...Brown keeps proving me wrong.

Anonymous said...

6:41 AM- there Are better candidates for the position locally. All Brown has to do is look right under his nose. What about Bob Mateff at EMS? Was he even asked or considered? Bob is a top-notch professional who is highly qualified to become a county administrator.

Anonymous said...

Cathy is the party girl she makes things interesting with Her talent to Bullshit the public..She has openly stated how she hates bangor and the fire dept yet she is the President she is supposed to back Her town not go around bad mouthing it and everyone in it....just imagine what she will bring to the table for the county??????? Holy shit Brown what are You thinking or aren't You..You surely can find another skirt..to follow You around GOD man what are You doing??

Anonymous said...

"The head of any agency immediately under the direction and supervision of the County Executive shall be qualified for his office on the basis of education, training, and experience."

This appointment is a clear violation of the Home Rule Charter and Council should reject it.

Mateff would be great but he is career service, like the "acting" sheriff and finance director. John Brown is proving to be either inept or thickheaded.

Anonymous said...

Bob may be willing to give up his career status for this opportunity. He is one of the county's best and brightest and should be considered over an obviously unqualified individual.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:04
The trouble is that the "education, training, and experience" isn't specified with minimums required to qualify, which makes it subjective to opinion.

Not supporting the result of the wording, just pointing out the problem with how it reads.

On the flip side, there are people extremely skilled at jobs that never had formal training or received a degree, but their experience might make them better than most at something. There are CEO's of multi-million dollar corporations that never went beyond High School.

Anonymous said...

It should stop at the education level. The county should NOT be hiring people to this level without a college degree, period. No offense to this woman but the procurement of a degree should mean something in this day and age.

Anonymous said...

Where the hell is Bangor? Isn't that in Maine?

Anonymous said...

@8:25 must be someone in Vic's Solicitor's Office defending their incompetent client who is again violating the HRC. That's what you are paid to do but seriously this woman has no education, training, or experience that would qualify her to run the county. There is no problem with the wording and hopefully Council sees it that way.

Anonymous said...

@8:55

You ASSume someone who points out how something can be interpreted is a supporter. Get over your blind hate. It was never said that in this case Allen is a good choice. Just that how appointments can be made is subject to opinion because the requirements aren't specific.

To clarify what an ASSuming individual you are, I don't think Allen is a good choice.

Anonymous said...

There is no way Allen is a good choice. I am glad we all agree on that. However I doubt he would appoint someone that is competent. It is obvious he thinks no one is as smart as he is and therefore only he should deal with the issues confronting the county.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not troubled by the lack of a college education. I know many educated idiots. But in the absence of a degree, I'd like to see qualifying real world experience. Instead of that, I see training in ethical conflicts and nontransparency. She is the Executive's choice. He is entitled to his own cabinet. But before letting her near $330 million and 2000 people, I'd insist on a background check. Also, there is no way I would pay her more than $45,000.

Anonymous said...

For a person who ran on having qualified individuals in important positions this is a smack in the face for those that voted for him. This position is THE most important position in his Cabinet and needs an individual with serious credentials, especially in handling negotiations with the unions.

I remember when someone proposed Marta Boulous for this position and County Council did not approve her because she lacked the experience and qualifications. Wow, Marta had more experience that this selection.

County Council must give this appointment serious thought before they vote.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bob Mateff should never even think about this job, which would probably pay less than he gets now, unless he receives an assurance in writing, that he can return to his old position. He would be the best choice under anyone.

Anonymous said...

We want to hold public service up to private sector standards then a college degree should be a requirement. I cannot imagine any position of authority being offered to someone without basic qualifications.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd give Brown his pick, subject to a background check and at about half the salary proposed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"probably to earn over $80 K?"

It's set at $88,000

Anonymous said...

She is probably paid more than $45 K for her current position, for which one could argue she is marginally qualified for. But $88 K for one of the highest level positions in county government, for which she is obviously not qualified, is obscene!

Anonymous said...

Marta Gabriel would be an excellent choice and is an R.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Marta Gabriel would be excellent but likely has no interest. If this is who Brown wants, let him have her, but I would attach three conditions:

1) Background investigation;
2) Resignation from Bangor Boro Council; and
3) A salary more commensurate with her complete lack of education and experience. About $40k.

Bernie O'Hare said...

In 12:28, I said Brown is entitled to his own council. I meant he is entitled to his own cabinet. But $88k is nutz.

Anonymous said...

I thought Tim Tenges was goingto be appointed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So some anons said. Tenges told me he never even met Brown.

Anonymous said...

Bob Mateff would stay where he is. The Emergency Management position is to important to get caught up in all this nonsense.

Mateff does a good job and is paid well for his important role. It would be a huge mistake for Bob to jump into this mess. It should really be someone qualified with nothing to lose and without concerns for future employment.

Dave Houser said...

I and Ken Brewer Jr. currently serve as Bangor Boro's Council's representatives on the Authority board. We are not paid to do this. Representatives from the community on that board are paid currnetly $200 per monthly meeting. Boro council reduced the amount paid to new board appointee's to $75 per monthly meeting beginning with the person we selected at the start of 2014..Mr. Schweitzer.

Matt M. said...

Thank you for this, Bernie. Where I live in Norco, the Slate belt might as well be Jersey... and we get nothing like this in any coverage.

Perhaps it's time the personnel committee rethinks some job description lines.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dave accepting that money is unethical. It needs to stop. Sorry.

Dave Houser said...

At least we reduced the amount paid to the other board members. It's a start in the right direction and it is sometimes hard to get people to take board seats. Not sure what else we could do as a council to curb the spending in that area.At least we had control over that expense and could not be over ruled by the Authority board. I and Mr. Brewer get no compensation from the Authority. As council members we are paid $100 a month and that's it.

Anonymous said...

What is Brown smoking to come up with this pick? As a Norco taxpayer I am offended that someone with so little education and experience would be chosen for this important position. And at nearly $90,000 a year?? It would be hard to believe that Lehigh Co. council made an issue of McCarthy serving as county administrator and that Norco's council would let this ridiculous pick slide.

Anonymous said...

Brown`s problem is he doesn`t know many people to feel comfortable asking someone.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, This is perfect, they can do what they want then BLEED ignorance.OLD PETER

Anonymous said...

another fail! john brown...what, dear fuckin' lord, don't you get?

-fletch

Peter J. Cochran said...

Mr. Brown should be looking people like Mr Steckman at the City of Easton,who is getting us out of a hole currently, or Mr Anckaitis, former U.S.Army Artillery Officer with on the ground Vietnam time and does take any crap! Both men great leaders -- NOT LIGHT WEIGHTS.Need someone to set the standard,oversee and correct issues.

Anonymous said...

It is apparent that Brown is most comfortable with his tight circle of cronies from Bangor. Who cares about the best person for the job? Well council certainly should, especially since they hold the purse strings and must confirm all departmental appointments. They let the DHS and DCED appointments slide when there was a lack of experience and weak credentials. But this one is far more important . Let's see if council has the courage to vote this travesty down.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Mean Does not take any crap .Sorry, Cheapo here needs a new key board.

Anonymous said...

This would be funny if it were not so sad. The county cannot afford to have another incompetent in our midst. There are enough of them already. It is hard to imagine that at least some members of county council will not have the sense to reject this appointment.

Anonymous said...

I never seem to hear anyone complaining about the resumes of elected officials.From the looks of it this appointment is overqualified

Anonymous said...

Peg Ferraro is backing Brown, on Allen's appointment. Unbelievable!!! This is beyond all comprehension and logic. All of them must go. See the Express-Times article:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/northampton-county/index.ssf/2014/04/bangor_council_president_nomin.html#incart_m-rpt-1

Anonymous said...

Bernie..your conditions for hiring her are spot on. Let her earn the bigger paycheck. Nothing wrong with an incentive laden deal. She MUST step away from Bangor politics..completely.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:06, I can see Peg's point. He's entitled to his own cabinet. But not at that salary. That's way too high for this unqualified nominee,

Anonymous said...

Cathy is very street smart and has a very good financial aptitude. She lacks experience on the bigger county stage. Frankly..she ran the town and the police department as John was on the campaign trail day and night. She was mayor/police chief and finally.. boro manager out of necessity. Guilt by association with Saveri? You can make that case if you want to and I will not argue that point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I laid out three conditions and think they should apply. She needs to sever her ties to Bangor. She should undergo a background check. She should not start anywhere near $88k. That's absurd. $40k tops. Then see how great she is in a year.

Anonymous said...

Peg has a good reason to support Brown on this one. Her daughter will soon be nominated to be the next Director of Fiscal Affairs. Pure payback. Just disgusting.

Anonymous said...

"Street smart"? So is a con artist.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:20, I will try to find out if your statement is accurate.

Anonymous said...

At least Pegs kid is qualified and working right now, unlike the hs graduate from the little town with no experience in anything at all.

Anonymous said...

Con artist? Your words..not mine but if the shoe fits..

Anonymous said...

Transparency is non existant with Cathy. Everything is a state secret and vital to the defense of the nation. She learned that lesson well from her employer. That trait alone is disturbing and council must weigh the evidence in this case carefully. Loves the adulation but not very good at accepting the blame when obviously wrong. Gonna be a bumpy ride..

Anonymous said...

There are many qualified county workers for this position. Shame none of them get an opportunity to move up.

Anonymous said...

Bernie..you are just scraping the surface on this story. So much more remains hidden from sight. Your visit to Roseto last week was evidently very productive and provided a lot of background information from the locals on the SB political scene. Stay tuned..

Anonymous said...

10:20pms and 6:28am speak volumes.

-fletch

Anonymous said...

In the course of Brown's vast still as of yet unspecified financial background did he ever take time out to command a ferry boat?

Anonymous said...

Ouch! The Norco Titanic.

diversified financial said...

This is insane- she can't even take care of herself, let alone 2000 employees and a $300M budget-her house is almost falling down and she's always behind on her taxes

Anonymous said...

Is this a joke?

Anonymous said...

Behind on her taxes??? That alone should disqualify her. How irresponsible. This nomination is an abomination!

Anonymous said...

465989 167:59 a VERY bad joke. on the taxpayers of Northampton County.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, will you be commenting on this farcical nomination under courtesy of the floor at the personnel committee meeting Wednesday? This has to be stopped! It is an embarrassment to Northampton County.

Wonder if any of the R's have any integrity to vote this down.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Peg has a good reason to support Brown on this one. Her daughter will soon be nominated to be the next Director of Fiscal Affairs. Pure payback. Just disgusting."

This is inaccurate, although Peg's daughter is a CPA and eminently qualified.

Anonymous said...

We shall see.

Anonymous said...

Everyone of you anon cowards should show up Wednesday at 4pm and stand at the mike and make a statement, I know I will be there with my comments let's see if you a non cowards show, this is important she has 5 votes for confirmation, brown owns this T-bagged council

Bernie O'Hare said...

If you are busy on Wednesday, you can speak to Council again on Thursday at 6:30 pm.