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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, October 20, 2006

Northampton County Priorities - Wallpaper & Drapes

Last night's Northampton County Council meeting was a bit longer than the 23 minute meeting held two weeks ago. It took council two hours to go through a light agenda. The reason? Angle was there. Man, that guy questions everything. It annoys the hell out of other council members, but is infinitely preferable to a board of bobbleheads. Those long meetings can be a circus, but they're actually good for government.

Let me give you a small example from last night. Councilperson McHale told fellow members in passing that she was getting bids for a renovation to council chambers, which will probably cost a half mil. All the bobbleheads went up and down except one. Angle was off and running.

Angle: "The windows are leaking all over seniors in Gracedale, the cupola is rotting off the roof, the rotunda where we're going to lay Wayne [Grube] in state is leaking, and we're talking about renovating council chambers? A half million dollars for new drapes and wallpaper? Is this a priority? I just bought a house and that cost only $200,000. I kind of like this the way it is."

Grube: "Well, he [Angle] got in the papers."

Whatever his motivation, Angle is right. The courthouse cupola will probably blow right off the courthouse next time the wind kicks up. Windows at Gracedale do leak all over the place and county still doesn't know why. The brand new rotunda, where Wayne Grube probably will be laid in state after he goes to that big football camp in the sky, does leak whenever it rains. Courthouse employees have seen no raises for nearly four years. Furniture and filing cabinets still clutter hallways. These matters should have a little more priority than wallpapers and drapes for council.

Love him or hate him, he makes his points. And a little thing like that is good government.

Update: Increasing Council Absences - Historically, it is rare for a member of Northampton County to miss more than one or two meetings during the course of a year. That pattern is coming to an end. On September 22, Council squeeked by with a bare quorum, just five of nine members bothered to show up. On October 5, there were two absences at a 23 minute meeting. And last night, Dertinger was a no show.

Charles Dertinger has now missed two of the last three county council meetings. I understand he's running for Congress, but that's no excuse for failing to do the job to which he was elected. Northampton County has a $311 million budget, and needs every one of its nine elected council members. When council members develop a lax attitude towards their responsibilities, the encourage a climate in which mischief can occur.


Anonymous said...

You better add anothe 50 grand for sashes to hold the drapes back, oh, wait a minute, that would let the sunlight in, we can't have that, forget it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sunshine on local government? You're right. We can't have that.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I used to get disguised by the goings on at Lower Saucon Township meetings, but these people really take the cake.
I appreciate that Pres. Grube was to keep the meeitng orderly and move it along but, he is ridiculous. And did you notice that everyone is so anxious to adjourn?
Angle is right that they attack him, and no one gets punished. I am glad he aske the tough questions. The county council room is ugly, but I think that at a time when the county is in a fiscal crisis, that spending money to redecorate is insane.
Stoffa's request to bring in an unproven/unknown employee to his staff and pay him more than anyone has ever earned in the position is wrong.
My overall experience with the county has been negative. I can't get anyone to do anything about the bridge, so I am about to give up.
Oh yeah, and trying to get in the building last night was real fun. by the time I actually got to the correct door, no one would let me in. I got lost on the way out too. I helped pay for that leaky rotunda, and by god I should be ableo to walk through it. council meetings are about the only time I go down into the county building. I understand Stoffa's security concerns but someone should have figured this out ahead of time.
My question is what is a cupola and why is it so expensive to fix?
Also I could hardly hear, but what was the outcome of the vote to rehire a firm that may have known about the discprencies in the clerks' office?

Anonymous said...

alas, the eye of mordor has been found, hovering over northampton county council. perhaps Ron angle could lure it over to Wayne Grube's Cupola, trap it with their NCC owned alternative fuel transport Gondola, and carry it off to Mt Holly New Jersey!
On second thought, they could drop it off at Onembo's house. A perfect fit!

LSTresidentPIA said...

I think that many council members are only there as a stepping stone to bigger and better things. I would like my representatives to be there because he or she wants to and wants to represent my (best) intersts in county matters. I know naivee and wishfull thinking on my part...but

Bernie O'Hare said...

LST, I don't understand your post. You say that when you finally got to the right door, no one was around to let you inside the building. Could you please explain what happened. This is important because the public has a right to attent these meetings and that doesn't mean very much if no one is around to let them in.

The cupola is the bell tower atop the courthouse You can see it on the picture attached to my post.

The county got rid of the auditor who is currently under contract and replaced its outside auditor w/ a cheaper one.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:54, The eye of Mordor?? I love that.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Well, I stood at the doors to the rotunda for a couple of minutes and then walked around there a bit looking for the employee entrance as the sign said. The guy sitting inside by the security system finally came to the door and I asked him where the employee entrance was. He directed me. I got to the employee entrance and there were two security oficers sitting on the inside. I stood there on the outside looking in for about a minute and then Paul Muschick showed up. Then one of the guys finally let us in. I don't know why I stood there and they did not let me in. I didn't see a button or anything. But I did pull on the doors like an idiot. Very discouraging. They knew there was a meeting that people would be coming in those doors for so why didn't they make sure that we could get in?
Then I got lost on the way out too. It is very confusing.

So is there any chance that this company that got the contract to do the audits is going to outsource any of the work oversees?

RadCenter said...

If the council wants to keep its meetings short, I suggest they do what Bethlehem's city council has apparently decided to do: Eliminate cooling and ventilation from their meeting room during public meetings. I sat through the two marathon Bethlehem Council meetings that decided the slots-parlor zoning in the city (a total of 11.5 hours!), and the room was so hot that by the time I left, I was dehydrated and could barely think, let alone make an intelligent comment.

I hear the building was donated to the city by Bethlehem Steel. How typical of them to donate a building and forget to include the AC!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rad, Don't give them any ideas ...!