Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Northampton County Judges Throw Us a Bone

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingIf there is any doubt in your mind that Northampton County judges are running this county, look no further than today's Express Times. Judges are now planning to decorate a plaza near the giant crayon sharpener rotunda with a simple memorial to area veterans. Cost? Ten or fifteen thousand bucks. Well-paid court administrator James "the snake" Onembo hissed, "That amount may not be necessary. We're trying for something simple."

I've got an idea! Why don't the judges dig into their own pockets? They've dug in ours long enough. How's that for something simple?

Why is a court administrator, and not County Exec Stoffa, doing all the talking? According to the court's own website, Onembo "is responsible for the long and short-term judicial planning, interaction with the other branches of county government, day-to-day operations of the Court as well as the oversight of the various court divisions and district justice offices." He's not there to decide what to do in a plaza near the rotunda. We elected someone to make those decisions. But the court is still trying to run this county.

And the sole reason for a ten or fifteen thousand dollar memorial is to placate you. They're throwing us a bone, bippy. Judges are betting that people will love that memorial so much they'll forget President Judge Freedberg's promise not to exceed $43 for the Taj Mahal. That project is now at least $3 million over budget and nearly a year behind schedule.

As veterans salute each other and give somber speeches, judges hope the public will forget about the once ample parking chewed up by their expansion. Total disregard for courthouse furniture and jackhammered slate slabs will be a hazy memory. No one will mind the judges' private dining room and private floor to which keys are denied to all, even deputy sheriffs. Employees made ill by all the Fiberglas particles and asbestos removal are just crybabies who should suck it up like our vets.

Look at our beautiful memorial!

Best of all, this memorial will be dedicated right around the time that Judge Stephen Barrata seeks retention. What a coincidinky!

Northampton County officials were not happy yesterday, when I suggested that no Northampton County judge should be retained. One of them told me I was a "little tough" on poor Judge Barrata. Admittedly, he's not President Judge and it would be difficult for him to come out against the court's official position.

But then he shouldn't be telling WGPA's radio audience that he wishes he could take them all on a tour of the new complex. He can't have it both ways. Is he prepared to state it's wrong to pay a court administrator over $102,000, and then allow him to work part time in Franklin Township and engage in a questionable real estate deal near the new courthouse complex? Will he reject a payraise when courthouse employees have gone without for nearly four years? He has taken no affirmative steps to distinguish himself from Freedberg/Moran/Onembo.

These are not questions about abortion or some other legal issue that a judge must refuse to answer. These are questions about perks and the people who work under him.

I'm waiting to see if Barrata answers these questions. If he tolerates an Onembo, he doesn't deserve retention. We deserve fair judges, not people who use political hacks to call the prothonotary to discover how I paid for my lawsuit against the county.
And so the battle rages.


Unknown said...

Wow. Where is the administration? That's a very bad sign. In Lehigh County, Don Cunningham is fighting a similar battle to keep costs low. Why isn't Northampton following suit? I'm not an expert on either county, so I find it interesting.

LVDem said...

b/c John Stoffa inherited a mess that frankly can't be changed at this point. The time to nip this in the but is when the discussion is starting. Donny C knew that and used it as a campaign issue. Then he started to lead as soon as he got into office.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh he inherited a mess, to be sure. He has addressed the court's overreaching but it can't be changed overnight. In fact, it will take years.

LSTresidentPIA said...

It is beyond my ability to understand why the county is the mess that it is and why more people are not speaking out against it. The issues sure are getting enough publicity. Why wasn't this the case years ago when this mess in the county was first starting? I wish the troubles in Lower Saucon would get this type of attentiona and coverage.
I guess most people are too busy commuting to their high paying jobs in New York and Jersey to care. While the rest of us are barely able to make ends meet and dreading yet another tax hike. Just what I need adoublew whammy. Lst is raisng taxes to cover the cost of open space, and the county wants to also. That is not right.
As far as Mr. Stoffa goes, he is too well- mannered and soft-spoken and isn't one to get all emotional and in our face about an issue. He need to find a way to speak up or this is going to be his only term in office.
I wonder how many transplants from New York and Jersey even know what county they live in other than the Lehigh Valley area and know what their county seat is? People tend to move to the Saucon Valley area and don't even know if they live in Lower Saucon Township, Northampotn County or Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LST, You're right. A lot of people don't really know what's going on. It's hard enough to keep up on the world, national and state issues. Local issues aree probably insignificant to most, but these are the ones over which we can have the greatest impact.

I don't think Stoffa can solve these problems in one term. I don't think anyone could. I know he is trying to assert that HE, and not Onembo, is county exec.

And this is where we come in. We can rid the courts of those judges who are milking this county and allowing unelected officials to usurp the role of exec.

Unknown said...

I just can't believe how much power seems to be in one individual who is unaccountable to the public. It somewhat reminds me of the township managers we have in townships. I just don't know how these things are legal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Neither Onembo nor the judges is supposed to decide yhese things. That is the province of the executive. Yet there they go. And a few weeks ago, PJ Freedberg issued an edict with all kinds of rukles about the government center in offices that have nothing to do w/ him. I should publish it bc I got my grimy hands on a copy. He's the one who has decided that people coming into the building to pay their frickin taxes must go through a search and then walk another 30 miles. These guys are out of control.

And we're supposed to retain these guys?

Anonymous said...

How did you pay for your lawsuit? It wasn't green party money was it?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Counterfeit. Slipped it right by them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Incidentally, to those who wonder just who "Mike O'Hare" may be, he's my brother. He usually denies it under questioning for some reason.

LVDem said...

I think he was looking for you to admit to all the times you stole his tooth fairy earnings.