"What the hell's wrong with you?" I asked.
"I just told Judge M---- to go f#*& himself," was the reply.
That was Jim Hickey, Director of Administration under former County Exec Glenn Reibman. He rammed Reibman's $111 million spending plan down our throats, and when the county's first bond was rejected by the state, did it again. Councilman Ron Angle fought him tooth and nail, and the two of them rolled around courthouse gutters more than once.
As much as I opposed Reibman's folly, I learned to respect and eventually admire Jim Hickey. He was Reibman's hatchet man, and don't kid yourself, every county executive needs one. He was a hard-working, brilliant and aggressive lieutenant who fervently believed in the bond. He was also a straight shooter and very accessible. He thought nothing of storming into the recorder's office, beet-faced, poking a nicotine-stained finger into my chest, and telling me I'm completely full of shit.
I loved the guy!
He's the bastard who told Morning Call reporter Scott Kraus "flaming monkeys will fly out my ass" before the prison expansion went anywhere besides Easton. I kept hoping for that day, but it never happened.
He played hardball. Want an example? When Easton officials considered blocking a prison expansion next to the county campus, Hickey threatened to build it right by Centre Square. Easton quickly backed off.
He left Northampton County in 2003, off to higher wages and a lot less stress working for the state. Reibman never filled Hickey's spot, a big mistake. It created a vacuum, and Jim Onembo quickly slithered in.
Had Hickey stayed, he would never have let the judges or Onembo go off the deep end. He would have told them to go f#%* themselves, and most likely would have kept the courthouse expansion on budget and on time.
County Exec Stoffa's selection for Director of Administration, Marta Gabriel, was rejected by his own Democrats on Council. They seem intent on preventing Stoffa from accomplishing anything. They've hurt Stoffa, but also have hurt county employees and taxpayers. He needs someone with a hatchet, a miserable bastard.
I wonder if Hickey is bored in Harrisburg?