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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bethlehem Township's Mini Junkets

Bedford Springs Resort and Spa
On St. Paddy's Day, Bethlehem Township Police Chief Dan Pancoast and CPT Greg Gottschall will be enjoying themselves at Penn State, thanks to a unanimous vote of  the Board of Commissioners on Monday night. Taxpayers will spend $220 for them to go to a labor conference, and will also pay about $120 per night per officer for hotel accommodations.

Now I have a lot of respect Chief Dan Pancoast and CPT Greg Gottschall. But there is no way I would spend public funds to send any public employees to a news conference on St. Paddy's Day and at Penn State no less.

What were Commissioners thinking? We'll never know. Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution approving this little junket with no questions asked.

Nor did they question the trip that Manager Melissa Shafer will take to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort and Spa on Feb 18-19. In addition to spending $305 for an "executive development" conference, taxpayers will pay for her discounted $139 per night stay. She can dine in their Signature Steakhouse and be pampered at the "springs eternal spa." And of course, there's Afternoon Tea.

In the spa brochure, the experts hosting this conference blather, "The greatest challenge facing public managers today is the sea of change in citizens’ perceptions and expectations of their government, and their interest in providing a contribution to local governance."

That challenge is hardly reduced when taxpaying bodies send these managers at taxpayer expense to a resort spa. Kinda' makes you wonder whether Shafer will really learn a damn thing, except how to get one over on the taxpayer. When you whoop it up at some spa, that tends to create a negative perception, and citizens expect better.

OK, I've just explained everything Melissa could hope to lear for free, so she can cancel her little trip.

There was a third trip on the agenda, too, for police training. But that matter was not voted on with no explanation.

Maybe they forgot.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lookin to hook up with a new job. BT isn't the bed of roses she thought.

Anonymous said...

The place is a zoo.

Anonymous said...

jUST TAKE A LOOK AT WHO THE SOLICITOR IS AND ASK NO MORe!!

Anonymous said...

They need real leadership.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, this is common practice but it will be justified. Don't forget if they drive personal vehicles they can claim mileage reimbursement.

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

Sounds to me , that the conference is intended to teach bureaucrats how to hide their shenanigans from the public, "The greatest challenge facing public managers today is the sea of change in citizens’ perceptions and expectations of their government, and their interest in providing a contribution to local governance." Do you believe they are really hoping citizens will contribute to local governance. What they really want is the citizens to SHUT UP AND GO AWAY.

Anonymous said...

The "junket" to Penn State is actually the 3-day annual PELRAS conference which focuses on public sector labor law and is attended by a large number of municipalities. Well worth the money in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The monthly bill rubber stamp payments says it all, lack of oversight & management.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The "junket" to Penn State is actually the 3-day annual PELRAS conference which focuses on public sector labor law and is attended by a large number of municipalities. Well worth the money in my opinion."

Not on St. Paddy's Day to Penn State. I wouldn't even send the Pope out on that day. Who do you think you're kidding?

Anonymous said...

Other towns and county agencies do worse than this for junkets. You just happen to be covering this township.

Its widespread abuse and its usually rubber stamped.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Absolutely. This is by no means exclusive to Bethlehem Township. When a "conference" is scheduled at a resort and spa, or when it is over St. Paddy's day, red flags should be flying.

Anonymous said...

So are you implying that because the conference is on St. Patrick's Day it is not legitimate but rather big party flowing in Guinness and Jameson? Not everyone is an Irish boozer like you O'Hare.

Anonymous said...

Much to do about nothing. You are really stretching this time O'Hare.

Anonymous said...

The conference is a statewide effort by the Association for Pennsylvania Municipal Management, not a junket the Resort/Spa is offering to just anyone. It is ok with me if my town manager gets to relax in a spa at the end of a full day of lectures and discussions. I am also ok with seeing my tax dollars support a key public servant working to renew, review and see what's new. Staff who head an organization or department should also be earning continuing education credits, which this conference awards.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you are working on a story with REAL gravitas - the federal lawsuit filed by Northampton County's ex-HR Director Tracey Barnes against her former boss Brownie.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie -this is off one but Messa has hearing with Express Times on list now. Going to attend .

Anonymous said...

Here's to all of you that will never need sunglasses. Remember the guy in the bathtub in Las Vegas . After a hard day of lectures good lord.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:53, Don't worry about it. You are pretty. Just give O'Hare the eyes and he will have a hard on for you all over again.

Anonymous said...

Just be thankful we have these wonderful people. You know they could go to the private sector and be paid well in excess of 7.25/hr.

Anonymous said...

9:36 AM "The "junket" to Penn State is actually the 3-day annual PELRAS conference which focuses on public sector labor law and is attended by a large number of municipalities. Well worth the money in my opinion."

Don't the tax payers already pay an attorney to represent the township and the townships best interest. If that is not the case then fire every single attorney working for the township immediately. Well worth the money? may I be so bold to ask whose money is being spent and who deems this to be well worth it.

This is another example..It doesnt matter which party is running the show or who is involved. Both parties suck and both parties could care less about the tax payers hard earned cash.

In fact, stop spending the tax payers cash for everything and anything. The country is going down fast, but the political elites and those who protect them are still living it up. Did they ever hear about net meetings , like most businesses do these days, to cut costs.

Anonymous said...

Silence Pay your taxes or we'll sell your house!

Anonymous said...

Bernie - At the next meeting why don't you ask the Board why they allow this wasteful spending? Do it during Courtesy of the floor but be quick. Another poster made a good point below.

"Don't the tax payers already pay an attorney to represent the township and the townships best interest. If that is not the case then fire every single attorney working for the township immediately. Well worth the money? may I be so bold to ask whose money is being spent and who deems this to be well worth it."

Anonymous said...

Working people need to go to conferences. You've been out of any sort of professional career for so long, you don't understand what it means to grow any more. These expenses are minute and as a BT taxpayer, it doesn't bother me in the least.

And Bedford PA and State College PA are my idea of a weekend of decadence! Give me a break on this.

Anonymous said...

Not on St. Paddy's Day to Penn State. I wouldn't even send the Pope out on that day. Who do you think you're kidding?

What are you talking about? Half the bars voluntarily CLOSE on St Patricks Day at Penn State now. You have grand delusions of chicanery. You're wearing your tri-cornered tea party hat today.

Anonymous said...

I am a BT taxpayer as well and quite frankly this wasteful spending needs to stop.
My wife and I are on a fixed income, and attended several budget meetings when a 40% tax increase was being proposed. I listened to the manager speak of cutting spending to help, but then have staff pitch new hires and raises. Is it really necessary to have 2 of the top ranking police officers attend the same conference? No surprise why people as a whole have no confidence in these folks! Our elected officials need to wake up!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely. This is by no means exclusive to Bethlehem Township. When a "conference" is scheduled at a resort and spa, or when it is over St. Paddy's day, red flags should be flying.

Every conference is at a "resort" - thats a fancy name for a hotel. Unless you expect caviar, massages, and champagne to be ordered on the township's dime.

Anonymous said...

I am a BT taxpayer as well and quite frankly this wasteful spending needs to stop.
My wife and I are on a fixed income, and attended several budget meetings when a 40% tax increase was being proposed. I listened to the manager speak of cutting spending to help, but then have staff pitch new hires and raises. Is it really necessary to have 2 of the top ranking police officers attend the same conference? No surprise why people as a whole have no confidence in these folks! Our elected officials need to wake up!


I'm sorry you never planned for your retirement and are on a fixed income. Not my fucking problem.

Yes, people with jobs that invested in college educations need professional development AND (gasp!) raises. Just because YOU don't have the money to pay your easily predicted future expenses doesn't mean the world needs to stop.

Sorry, harsh, I know. I'm pretty tired of seniors dictating how we run government.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the trip to State College over St. Patrick's Day, I don't see an issue. These are people that will have to attend some form of professional development(most do at some point). State College is not what I would call a bustling metropolis, since all of the students are out of town for spring break during that holiday. The town is empty at that point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie - At the next meeting why don't you ask the Board why they allow this wasteful spending? Do it during Courtesy of the floor but be quick. Another poster made a good point below."

Why don't you? I do not generally address a Board unless there is an obvious Sunshine Act violation.I try not to be part of the story.

Anonymous said...

Because they would laugh at him for suggesting a conference under $1000 is wasteful spending. Might as well take away their toilet paper and make them bring their own in, for chrissakes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sounds like someone really wants to be at PSU badly over St. paddy's Day. If this was training or needed for a certification, I'dagree. But this isaconference and I believe it is irresponsible to send anyone on a junket that time of year. I'm amazed that Comm'rs who scream about waste didn't even question this folly.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:10 AM: You're a prick and if you actually do work for the township, my guess is your one of the two cops heading out to watch gay porn in your hotel room...

Anonymous said...

maybe they should pay for it out of the "much needed" $350,000.00 bathroom fund !
talk about priorities. after the bathrooms are in how many people you think would be using them on a day like today ? or for the next few months even. now there is your wasteful spending.