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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, December 04, 2006

Norco Exec Stoffa Orders Blog Block Lifted

Northampton County Exec. John Stoffa called tonight to tell me he has ordered the blog block lifted. He doesn't like freedom of speech stifled in any way, and thinks it inappropriate to censor what county workers see on the net without first establishing some sort of policy, which is currently nonexistent. About an hour after I spoke with Stoffa, I received a second call from Vic Mazziotti, Northampton County's amiable Director of Fiscal Affairs. He explained how the block occurred in the first place. I pretended to understand as he used computer terminology I've already forgotten.

One thing Vic did acknowledge, and on behalf of the county, is that my blog does not fall into any of the "73 categories of unacceptable material, including adult, gambling, violence and hate topics." That I understood.

Hooray for our team!

I was worried county officials had discovered my upcoming photo essay, Alluring Ladies of the Northampton County Courthouse, which is being separately sold later this month as a calendar to benefit impoverished title searchers. A sneak peek at Miss January is attached.

I want to thank the Express Times, Morning Call, VoicePA and GrassrootsPA for casting a public spotlight on this issue.


Greendogdem said...

good my blog numbers will go up again now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Given your recent posts about Northampton County, your numbers should skyrocket.

Greendogdem said...

yep the Northampton county dog catcher is going to be after me.

Anonymous said...

Now that Northampton County Fiscal Affairs Director Vic Mazzioti has tutored you on computer censorship, maybe he can explain his predecessor Jean Mateff's failure to take the legal action that she promised against the county's computer services provider, Affiliated Computer Services of Houston, Texas.

You yourself saw the two e-mails, her's and Northampton County Controller John Schimmel's, promissing appropriate legal action, which of necessity would have involved DA John Morganelli - and, in fact, federal law enforcement officials because the subject of both e-mails was the hacking of the county's computers, a federal offense.

Two low-level computer techies, a male and a female. employed by ACS were fired as whistleblowers as their reward for reporting the crime.

Meanwhile, ACS still provides the county's computer service.

As you will recall, I had taken a heavy black Magic Marker and "censored" the names of the two sacrificial goats, but for their protection.

But now that that their names are a matter of public record, I'm no longer constrained by that prohibition. One was Jeff Britland and the female, whose Christian name slips my mind and is not immediately available, was a Ms. Brandau.

As a former official of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and an active supporter of the American Federation of State, County, and Municpal Employes (AFSCME) when it struck Easton Hospital, I support collective bargaining.

Non-profit Easton Hospital was forced to go private because of gross mismanagement and Medicaid fraud.

Also fraudulent was the manner in which Northampton County President Judge Robert Freeberg divided the dissolute hospital's spoils between the for-profit buyer, Community Health Services, and the non-profit Weller Health and Wellness Center.

As you say, Bernie, Northampton County's judges are the source of many of its problems: Witness judges Ed Smith, Bill Moran, and Jim Hogan whose miscarriage of justice evicted Plainfield octogenarian Anna Mae Kessler from her home at 574 Bangor Road, auctioned it off, and imprisoned her in the Williams Manor assisted-living facility at 164 Baron Road in Bushkill Township.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:49 = Billy Givens.

Billy, Your recollection of the Jeff Britland - Karen Brandau terminations is flawed. An independent assessment by a federal judge who dismissed Brandau's lawsuit is a little more reliable. He read the depositions.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, why are you "outing" anonymous identities?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:20,

I don't out anonymous comments as a general rule. But I know Billy well, and he always intends to identify himself but sometimes forgets and has trouble. He has sent me emails on occasion about having difficulty posting any way other than anonymously. He wants people to know who he is so I'm not outing him. He's my friend even though we don't agree about everything, and he tends to remember things differently from the rest of us. So if I see a post by him and remember, I'll identify him. He has an unmistakable and colorful style, and I hope to see it for years to come.

I've also outed Councilman Lamont McClure when he once deceptively tried to pass himself off as an anonymous witness to a council meeting. I've also outed an astroturf blogger.

But I don't usually care about identity. I value the comments much more. My sitemeter only tells me the domain,, i.e., if someone is using aol or rcn.

Anonymous said...

10-4. Got it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Where is it written that you have the right to do whatever you like with your employer's computer equipment?

Bernie O'Hare said...

ANON 12:03, Nowhere. But it is written that a public entity shalt not discriminate against one class of speech while permitting others. And it is ridiculous that the same filtering software that blocked my blog permitted access to ebay and espn as well as other blogs . And believe it or not, blogs can be work-related, especially for public emplyees gauging opinion on different issues. I do understand your point, but the county doesn't even have an Internet use policy.
I could understand a uniform rule that applied to all blogs. Even there, I have a problem when it's a public employer, where I believe information should flow freely. But I could at least understand it.

LVDem said...

What? Billy Givens doesn't tell the story right.

Billy reminds me of my great uncle who tells me stories about the 75 lbs trout he caught in a 3 feet deep creek.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Nt sure why you ever outed Mr. McClure. I would love to go round with him on many issues, but mainly his lack of progress on the bridge.

I am sure it is only a matter f time before the county comes out with a policy regarding internet use at work and some gets in trouble for using your blog at work.

When I worked at a major company, we could access the internet/intranet but I never did becuase I knew they were tracking our use. I also stopped using the email becuae I knew they were tracking that also. Thre are so many other things that one can get fired for. Why give them a reason?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I outed McClure for the same reason as the astroturf blogger. They were both being deceptive. ATT & a county councilman tried to pass themselves off as regular Joes, although on completely different issues.


I wonder if the John Wayne Gacey simularities had anything to do with it?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It could have been that
that, ... or the article about Santa at the Coopersburg Swing Club, ... or the inflatable doll in Upper Macungie. The host of possibilities is endless.

Ryan said...

Congratulations. You do good work and this is a prime indicator.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ryan, Thanks. Your check is on the way.

t.g. said...

peace - t.g.

Anonymous said...

As I wrote in my earlier comment, Northmpton County's judges are the source of many of its problems.

Paula A. Roscioli, when running for judge, got a lucrative lease for her father, a lawyer in Glenn Reibman's office, on Pat's Brake Shop, a story you yourself broke in your Webpage "Our Common Bond."