Monday, January 04, 2016
No matter how much these Council members, Commissioners and Supervisors claim not to care, you'd be shocked at the amount of behind-the-scene intrigue that accompanies these meetings. It's not the small amount of extra money paid to a Council President or Supervisors' Chair. It's the power and visibility.
Though the President or Chair of a municipal body is technically only a first among equals, he or she does set the agenda. These leaders also often attend ribbon cuttings and are often sought out as spokespersons for hot button issues.
I have no idea what is going to happen in Lehigh County or Allentown, but given the increasing likelihood that Fed Ed will resign sometime this year, the Presidency of Allentown City Council becomes more than a status symbol. Under Allentown's Home Rule Charter, he becomes Acting Mayor until an Interim Mayor is appointed, either by Council or the courts.
I can only imagine the amount of back-room dealing that is going on among their City Council members, unless they are afraid their phones are being tapped.
The current Council President is Ray O'Connell, and he's already told me that I don't have to call him "Your Honor" if her gets the job. A slight bow is enough.
In Bethlehem, tradition is that a Council President serves for no more than two consecutive two-year terms. Willie Reynolds was voted in as President of City Council in 2014, and my guess is he has the votes to be elected again by the new Council.
As President, Willie gets to set the agenda,as he did with martin Tower. He will also be able to note his elevated status when he runs for Mayor next year.
What will happen now that Marty Zawarski, the former President of its Board of Commissioners, is gone in Bethlehem Township? Michael Hudak, who knows he is too unpopular to be elected himself, has reportedly asked Pat Breslin to assume the presidency. But that's not going to happen. There is no way that Democrats Kim Jenkins and Malissa Davis and Republican Tom Nolan are going to appoint this tea party member as president when he misses so many meetings. No one is even sure he actually lives in the Township. My guess is that Tom Nolan will be voted in, which will drive Hudak nuts. Hudak arranged for a palace coup of Nolan when he was serving as President just two years ago, and will try to get rid of him again.
In Northampton County, the return of John Cusick means more palace treachery. This New Jersey school teacher will likely try to seize the Presidency by dumping President Peg Ferraro. He's done it before. Never mind that, as a teacher, he has no time for bi-weekly meetings with the Executive or to attend the many functions that request the President's attendance. Cusick is being supported in this quest by Exec wannabe Hayden Phillips. Newcomer Matt Dietz will go for this, too. He was just glued at the hip to Phillips. To get Seth Vaughn behind Cusick, he's been offered the Vice Presidency despite having an appalling 64% attendance record in 2015.
Cusick, who has the personality of wet sock, is a poor choice for President. In addition to being unavailable for most events, he simply can't be trusted. His VP is just like him.
Phil Lauer is apparently safe as Council Solicitor, at least for now. His detractors have been unable to recruit a sufficiently stupid replacement. I will say this. A Council Solicitor works for the Council, not individual members. The days of individual Council members seeking goofy opinions needs to end. No Council Solicitor should be tasked with bullshit research unless it is sought by a majority.
In Nazareth, Borough Council at tonight's meeting is expected will create a new Commissioner position for a top-heavy police department that already has a Chief who reports to the Mayor. The department consists of just four full-time and six part-time officers. Though it is generally thought that Randy Miller will be installed, the job might instead go to Jim DePalma, who is currently the Deputy Chief at Colonial Regional. Chief Thomas Trachta will be assigned to work middle shifts in what is essentially a demotion.
DePalma comes cheaper than Miller.If Nazareth is nothing else, it is penny wise and pound foolish.
Nazareth was criticized in a state study for its top heavy department, and Borough Council's solution is to make things even worse.
But Nazareth does have a cool Christmas tree.
Things will get even wackier in West Easton, where outgoing Council President Kelly Gross spent most of last week hunched over a shredder. She fired the Clerk, and one of her last acts in office was to send residents a three-page self-aggrandizing letter, at borough expense. She slams the new Council for making lots of promises, complains of being harassed and warns she'll be watching them. She also had the computers removed, though new ones are apparently on the way
Until they come, Council will be flying blind.
It is believed Dan DePaul will be the new Council President. Believe it or not, he's worse than Kelly Gross. They will have to retain a new Solicitor because Christy Schlottman represents one Council member who is suing another Council member, and has a conflict.
An ambulance should be on standby at every meeting for the inevitable heart attacks and nervous breakdowns
North Catasauqua should be the wildest ride. Though the reorganization itself should result in little loss of human life, at least 18 people have accepted a "Justice for Sugar" Facebook invitation to attend the meeting. They'll be there to complain about Officer Leighton Pursell, who shot and killed an unarmed cat named "Sugar" after she ran away from home and was lounging near a poll five homes away.
She hissed at him, so he plugged her..
Up until now, Officer Pursell's main claim to fame was eating 21 packs of mustard during lunch in his high school days. I think this has that beat.
In fairness, we don't know all the facts. Sugar might have been hiding a little cat gun or worse, might have been part Siamese.