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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Northampton County Civil Division Needs Help

In addition to blogging and freelance writing, I search titles for people buying or refinancing real estate, through title companies and attorneys. The most important aspect of that job is identifying the liens. These consist of mortgages and judgments that are on record. It's important to get that right, or people can get stuck with an unpleasant bill. If it's my mistake, then it's a claim against me. But what if it is because the County simply isn't indexing the judgments? That's what is happening in the Civil Division, one of the best and hardest working in the County. It's not their fault. They are down four people, and County Executive John Brown refuses to hire. This may save him a few bucks in the short run, but will cost the County much more if the problem isn't addressed.

In the Civil Division, there's something called a "daily" sheet. That's where you look for judgments that staff have yet to enter into the system. There's usually a lag of a few days. You need to look at the "daily" before recording a deed or mortgage because there might be a recent judgment against the owner that would become a lien the second you record.

Civil Division employees are very diligent about noting judgments the day they are filed. But they've been so overwhelmed, they don't have the opportunity to go through everything, especially court orders that include judgments.

So I could record a Deed from A to B, not knowing that a judgment was entered against A that very day because it does not appear on the "daily" sheet. I can't be held responsible for that error because there's no negligence. But the County can. Let's say it fails to note a $1,000,000 judgment against A, who then conveys to B. When B is sued for the judgment, he can argue that the County failed to index the judgment and has to pay.

Executive John Brown claims he wants to make offices more efficient without reducing services. He is making the Civil Division less efficient, through no fault of its own. He is reducing the services that office offers to the public. He is exposing the County to liability. He is also damaging morale in that office.

Instead of spending $76,500 for useless propaganda from a barely literate PR person, he needs to make more hires in the Civil Division. The daily stream of citizens going in there daily for passports will appreciate Brown and the County much more if the staff can actually wait on them.


Anonymous said...

Bernie, OI hear this is going on across the board. Brown and some of his buddies on county council want to cut, cut cut. They don't know what and why or the consequences but cut away is their motto. I am OK with cuts but not if they come back to bite me in the butt down the road.

It is shocking that well over a half year into his first year he has no one of any substance in county issues on his staff. I voted for the guy and admit pulling the straight county ticket, maybe I didn't think that through. By the way I am not a RAT Republican just a normal Republican.

Someone mentioned that he should ask either Jerry Seyfried or Ron Heckman to consider coming on as Dir. of Admisntration, even for a short time. Though they are of a different Party and both retired that actually sounds like a decent idea. I know of both men and they certainly have a strong and well rounded knowledge of county operations and were good administrators, at least from what I have been told. I doubt either would play politics with such a position as I have been told both guys are done with running for office.

What do you think? I am a Republican but this is crazy. He needs some knowledgeable help Republican or Democrat. Also neither of those guys strike me as flaming liberals. Both being Penna. Dutchmen, you know they are cheap so that's a plus.

Who knows what Brown will do but it is becoming clear that amongst his friends and consultants he really could use a seasoned manager to help tie the county all together.

This is all getting a bit silly.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I am sure that either Ron or Jerry, both of whom love the County, would be willing to help. They know the County and could give Brown a firm foundation while he works out his plan, whatever it is. The Civil Division is down four people. They are good people, but not Wonder Women. I know the County is hurting, but you don't balance a budget on the back of the workforce. This has to change. Long ago, I recommended cross training so that row offices can help each other. If he does not want to hire, he needs to rotate people from other offices in there. But he really does need to hire at least two new people.

Anonymous said...

Morale is in the toilet county wide.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brown is a man of new vision. He wants to move Northampton County into the future. Most people don't understand that and live in the past. Why in the world would he ever want two people from the past to help him manage the future.

These guys may be alright but do they possess the vision that Mr. Brown wants? The ability to move past the past!

They may just be relics of the past. The county needs new vision and new blood.

Why don't you see this Bernie!@

Anonymous said...

I believe you are right on target here Bernie. The people in that office are very hard workers, and usually very helpful. Some are getting pretty testy near closing time these days, and I guess I can't blame them if they are so short-staffed.

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Brown is a man of new vision."

Rubbish. He's a selfish man with a vision that doesn't comport with reality. His attempt to install crony Cathy Allen as Director of Administration, coupled with his attempts to pay huge $$$ for a PR firm that have resulted in two Contoller lawsuits prove he's a loose canon.

Anonymous said...

John Brown in one sentence: A paranoid micromanager who values loyalty over competence.

Anonymous said...

Cheap shot. Brown inherited the neglect that Stoffa left him. $76,500 won't fix what has been ignored for years. Stoffa ignored this while proposing debt spending for $186,000 parking spaces. I voted for Stoffa, although he was a fiscally schizophrenic. Perhaps this should have been fixed before going into more debt for building projects.

Anonymous said...

10% budget reduction across the board is nearly unimaginable. county services will shrivel up and die under those arbitrary conditions. RAISE TAXES! Those two words are not possible it seems with the yokels now in control of county council. The voters were duped and now the axe falls. This is near Tea Party extremism. Give Barron some credit for suing the executive.

Anonymous said...

Brown is clueless. His "high performance team" is like a Yugo running on two cylinders.

Anonymous said...

Can't blame Stoffa. These offices were running fine just a year ago. Brown needs to get his act together. Court Services is a core function of county government.

Raise taxes? Not when a non-core optional function Gracedale is on pace to lose $9 million.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Cheap shot. Brown inherited the neglect that Stoffa left him. $76,500 won't fix what has been ignored for years."

Try again. There was no manpower shortage in the Civil Division ntil Brown assumed office.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Stoffa ignored this while proposing debt spending for $186,000 parking spaces."

Another lie. Stick to the subject.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Brown is clueless."

He is not clueless, but nor is he a "man of vision."

He needs 4 bodies in the Civil Division and if he does not start filling those vacancies soon, it will cost the County.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Some are getting pretty testy near closing time these days, and I guess I can't blame them if they are so short-staffed."

Unfortunately, they have customers like me, although I am engaged to Roseann. She denies it and has a PFA, but that's just her way of playing hard to get.

Anonymous said...

As an attorney, I can say that the level of service in all court services seems to have decreased in the last few weeks. This is attributed to empty postions. The Prothonotary's office is down to a skeleton crew. There are several empty desks visible from the counter.
I feel sorry for the women working there.

Anonymous said...

"I am engaged to Roseann. She denies it and has a PFA, but that's just her way of playing hard to get."

HA HA! Funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thank god we have a Cracker Jack solicitor who has actually read the Home Rule Charter to guide the executive through these thorny issues,

Anonymous said...

Bernie, dig deeper. Hiring practices are atrocious throughout the county. Civil Service test scores are ignored and qualified people are pushed aside for people with an inside track with the interviewer.

It has risen to shameful proportions.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm sorry, but I can't allow that comment unless you identify yourself.