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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, December 08, 2006

Norco Workers to Their Bosses: You Should All be Ashamed

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"I think you all ought to be ashamed."

Those words, spoken by long-time courthouse worker Pauline Taylor, best reflect the public sentiment at last night's packed county council meeting. It was the culmination of a week of worker unrest.

On Monday, employees began circulating an open letter to county exec John Stoffa, demanding a fair contract. Late yesterday afternoon, a gigantic rat mysteriously appeared on the street alongside the new courthouse. It was strangely reminiscent of Northampton County's ratpack, first described by essayist Billy Givens. Those river rats have gnawed and pawed for years at the county's wheel of cheese, breaking off pieces to fund a road for a Wal-Mart developer and a parking lot for luxury apartments at Riverport. While chewing away, the ratpack has ignored the little mice, the county's long suffering workforce.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingLast night the mice roared.

As workers left their jobs, they began parading around that rat, in a swelling sea of green AFSCME shirts. And as the clock struck 6:00 PM, a tidal wave in green struck John Stoffa's office. Disgruntled county employees stormed the fourth floor, demanding that Stoffa listen to them.

"I'm working," was Stoffa's reply as he attempted an escape to his inner offices. Courthouse workers followed, knocking on his door, until Stoffa finally agreed to hear them out. As he listened to a litany of complaints, the little mice could see two big river rats near Stoffa's office, trying to listen to what was happening. They looked a little confused.

Many mice were still roaring at poor John Stoffa when the ratpack started its council meeting at 6:30 PM. Over a hundred employees crowded into chambers and stood in the halls, straining to listen as the little mice bellowed eloquently at the river rats.

Barb Martucci, an 8 year county vet, chided council: "You take care of your own at the expense of the rest of us." Another county employee with 22 years of experience, John Szabo, reminded council that "we are the bricks and mortar that make up Northampton County." And Dan Sell, a county carpenter for the past 11 years, shamed council when he confessed he makes no more money than a part time Taco Bell employee on work release from the prison.

Several courthouse employees clearly accused Stoffa of going back on a promise to allow binding arbitration. But Rose Macaluso delivered the hardest punch of the night. Several employees had emailed Stoffa to complain about council's decision to give its staff a 20% payraise while ignoring other employees. In an attempt at humor, Stoffa responded he had given council an "experimental drug and it worked." Council was not amused.

When they heard that, the river rats exploded. What outrage! Last night was not a good night for John Stoffa.

As the evening continued, and the river rats began to gnaw at each other with their usual petty squabbles, an experimental drug actually sounds like a good idea to me. A 911 employee sitting behind me in the peanut gallery, stared in disbelief as council members tossed childish insults at each other.

"And this group is representing the county? A God-damned bunch of monkeys up there!"

And it's true. Council tends to embarrass itself all the time. But the real loser last night was John Stoffa. I admire the man. He has been honest with me. But last night he looked like a liar who brushes off employees and speaks publicly of council in disparaging terms that only insane bloggers like me should use.

The real winners last night were the little mice. They finally roared. And as Pauline Taylor noted, county council and administration should all be ashamed.

And after hearing from the little mice, the ratpack responded by giving a tax break in Palmer Township to yet another developer.

And so the battle rages.


Anonymous said...

i'm not eligible to wear one of those green shirts, but i would if i could. kudos to my fellow employees and also to you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The green shirts were ALL quite eloquent last night. Hopefully, the ratpack is willing to give away a higher percentage of the wheel of cheese. Stoffa was making a ridiculously low offer. He can't offer more than council will accept. So let's see what happens.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I agree that the raises for the council employees and Stoffa's guy an unproven, unknown from out of state and starting him off at the top of the pay scale is wrong. But if any county employee want to give up his/her job, I would be glad to take it.

Anonymous said...

LST whines a lot. Is there some job you are qualified for. Whining while reading blogs is not a "growth" industry. What skills do you have? I'm not seeing a lot of initiative from your side. I've never been unemployed, I went to a temp agency and took what I could get to keep money coming in, and I even worked nights at McDonalds 15 years ago in addition to my regular office job, so I could but Christmas gifts for my wife and family. life is what you make it. I don't want to be maean, but quit feeling sorry for yourself and get out there.

Anonymous said...

From what s/he writes, I suspect LST's job is that of self-imposed victim.

Mad batter said...

Looks like the mean kids in the neighborhood are all ganging up on LST, So I will too. I've got 6 freaking screws in my leg, and I'm still working! Get off your Ass!
That's just my good buddy, Perky the Percocet pill talking, Sorry!

LSTresidentPIA said...

Since none of you know a thing about me, I find your comments not only mean spirited but a waste of this blog space.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I at one time worked three jobs to make ends meet.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I do not feel sorry for myself thanks, I just tell it like it is, not everyone who wants to work is able to get a job right now despite the rosie unemployemnt numbers that are reported.

What I am qualified to do is irrelevant. What is is that I have skills and am unable to get hired.

Bernie O'Hare said...

My screws are mostly in my head.

Anonymous said...

BooHooHoo, what's that tell you LST
You are unable to get hire, or are you unwilling to take a job below a certain level. Most of us do what we have to, when we need to get by. You are telling me that there is no retail store that wouldn't hire you on during the busiest retail time of the year, What do you have, a third eye in the middle of your unibrow, or a deformed siamese twin hanging from your backside? Get your lazt ass to work! LOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 5:59, We all sometimes make a comment in an email that does not convey what we really feel. LST is a little blunt, but is not so different from you or me. I don't think she meant to denigrate anyone who works for the county. I would not resort to name-calling.
If you want to call me names, that's fine. The focus of this post is the plight of the NC worker, not LST.

LSTresidentPIA said...

Thanks Bernie. I have no ill will towards any NC employee. I am not sure the last time some of these people looked for a job, but it ain't easy. It was hard to believe that when I applied to Barnes and Noble for a position at their new store in Center Valley they did not hire me. They were hiring for two stores including holiday help. Hundreds of people applied I was told. There are only a few jobs I won't work. There is no level. There are some jobs I don't apply for because I am not qualified.I thought that I had a job the other day, and I got to the interview and I was told that the woman that I was being hired to replace was coming back to her position. The job market is tight and competive and to get even some crappy paying jobs, you have to have a four-year degree which I don't have. The hoops that one must jump through to get hired is amazing. Drug tests and credit checks before they will even give you an interview.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:59, that was frickin' hilarious..."Third eye in the middle of your unibrow...deformed Siamese twin hanging off your backside"...I laughed my frickin' ass off!

Anonymous said...

I think LST is perfectly qualified to run for elected office!LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Anonymous said...


My www.billybytes.com article, "County Rats Feast on Taxpayer Cheese," is followed by your article, "Billy Bytes the Bond."

In it, you refer to another Billybytes's article by your fellow title searcher Joe DeRaymond, "Bond Blues - They Took the Money and Ran like Thieves in the Night."

You close your article with the warning, "And Billy is getting his bullhorn ready."

Indeed, I dusted it off again just the other day - Pearl Harbor day, in fact - and commemorated it in downtown Easton, the seat (as in ass) of Northampton County.

Standing in Centre Square, I declared war on both municipalities (a plague on both your houses), an echo of the declaration I made to Northampton County Council on July 6, 2002.

Standing at council chamber's podium, I reminded members of what's supposed to be your governing body of this historic fact:

The first tax revolt in our newly estabished republic after the one in colonial Boston against the taxing of tea was the Whiskey Rebellion.

It took place right here in Western Pennsylvania, defined, basically, as everything west of Philadelphia. Farmers rebelled against the first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's levying of an excise tax on their distilling and selling of whiskey.

I conclude this comment with a reference to my www.billybytes.com article, "The Still."

LVDem said...

what the hell did that have to do with county workers? GAH!

Anonymous said...

The $111 million megabond floated in 2001 remains a booger on the nose of Northampton County that the 10 fingers of its council and executive just can't flick off.

This revolting excretion from the proboscis of the county's body politic is exceeded only by the the repugnance of the 10 fingers as they pick and flick furiously, but futilely. to rid the body of it.

It's stuck tight now, jammed up by Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli's failure to blow it out while it was still mucous smf runny and easy to remove.

He had only to pull from his hip pocket the hanky of Quo Warranto, blow into it, and there would never would have been the booger of the $111 million bond and what to do about the $13.1 million for BethWork's Commerce Center Boulevard.

Billy Given said...

The $9 million Bushkill Village and $27 million Riverview projects are hampering Pennsylvania's war on crime such as the recent bust of 9 Mafiosa-type heroin traffickers, as reported today be The Morning Call's Tracy Jordan.

The two projects have led Easton Mayor Phil Mitman's chief of staff Stu Gallaher to shelve the city's "plan to seek anti-crime designation."

Gallaher's announcement comes on the heels of the www.billyhytes.com article that I distributed in downtown Easton, the day before my bullhorn declaration of war on the county and its seat Easton.

I specifically cited College Hill Brahmin William Lehr, Mike Dowd, Danny Cohen, Barb Kowitz, Mac McAteer, and Bob Freeman.

I could have cited others like Lafayette College President Dan Weiss, his executive assistant Gary Evans, Michael Moorehead, and Joel Scheer.

Anonymous said...

Getting back to the subject at hand...The county employees should be outraged! Not because they don't have good jobs, good benefits and decent working environments, but because an injustice has been done to them. There is a SET policy and procedure that needs to be followed when an employee gets a job/pay upgrade. That was NOT done! Council saw fit to indiscriminately change the classifications and salaries of THEIR employees out of retaliation to the Exec's hiring of Conklin. But, what is not being said here is those employees are COUNTY EMPLOYEES! They should have gone through the same process as the rest of the employees have to go through (namely a desk audit) to get the raise and upgrade they got (20% hahaha). How is that fair? Council waves their mighty wand and PRESTO! Here sit the other employees, 3 years and NO contract, NO raise. That is the injustice here. I am not saying those employees didn't deserve it, I am merely saying, they should have gone through the proper procedure that the rest of the employees are subject to! I can't believe that more county employees aren't raising their fists and saying "what the ???"

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't begrudge county council staff their 20% or county detectives their 40%. To me it is an indication that, for far too long, employees have been grossly underpaid. And that is why a 3.3% proposal for other county employes is highly insulting. Resolving these contracts should be the county's top priority. But it appears always to take a back bench to issues that have little to do with the county's core services. This has to stop. As John Szabo noted, it is the workforce that make up the real briucks and mortar in Northampton County, not those marble floors. If PJ Freedberg wants a real "committment to justice" instead of a giant tomb, he could start by insisting that employees are paid a living wage. When council just considered trimming a few items from the courthouse, EVERY judge stormed council in an intimidating gesture. But where where they Thursday? They knew about the rally but not a single judge could come and say it's time to take care of our people. They care a lot more about imported marble than they do about the people who walk those marble floors. I find that disgraceful, especially since one of these judges expects to be retained.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's not the county's nose that its governing ten fingers are rooting around in but a lower part of its anatomy and in an excrement of the Northampton County body politic more odious than a booger.

Anonymous said...

Sadly this whole issue is a microcosmic snapshot of what's going on throughout the nation & at every level of employment - a growing chasm between the rich & the poor. Shame on Northampton County!

Anonymous said...

Pennsylvania's first civil uprising grew from its rural areas, everything west of Philadelphia - farmers rebelling against Alexander Hamilton and his Federalist central bank taxing the whiskey they made and sold.

(The hayseeds got their revenge when Thomas Jefferson and his Agrarian-Republican Party supporter defeated Federalist President John Adams and, to boot, repealed his administration's hateful Alien and Sedition Acts - repressive measures this country would not see again until the repressive Smith and McCarram acts of the Joseph McCarthy era and the Homeland Security Act of President-Select George W. Bush; former U.S. Congressman, Pennsylvania Governor; Bush's first Homeland Security Office head and then Department Secretary, Tom Ridge; his long-time chief of staff , first in congress and then in Harrisburg, Mark Holman, a senior law partner with Blank, Rome, Comisky, and McCauley, Northampton County's bond counsel for the county's $111 million megabond and follow-on swaption refunding.

The present civil revolt, more urban in its orgigins, rises from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton.

It was sparked in Easton's Jacob Bachmann Publick House on N. 4th St. (named Fermor Street after the estate in England of Lord Pomfret, just as the City of Easton was named after Easton-Nestor, the English governmental jurisdiction of his estate.

(Lord Pomfret's son-in-law was the son of William Penn, Thomas, who stole through forged deeds the 315 acres in Easton's neighboring Forks Township on which sits the world headquarters of the Binney & Smith Crayola Crayon Corporation and Nic Zawarsky & Sons builders and real estate developers/speculators.)

Penn's theft defrauded the "Forks of the Delaware's" original owners, the Delaware-Lenni Lenape Native Americans. They brought legal action against Northampton County and the corporate and private "squatters" that now possess the disputed land, some of whom hold no clear title to it. The federal district court in Allentown ruled against the aboriginals, of course, in a decision upheld by the Thrid Circuit of Appeals in Philadelphia, dominated by judges like former Easton district judge Franklin VanAntwerpen, former Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, and the wife of Pennsylvania Governor Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell.

The Third Circuit's decision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a split 5-4 decision. The majority opinion was written by Associate Justice Sam Alito, a former New Jersey prosecutor, who also delivered the "knock and announce" decision, further eroding the privacy protection guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

The contemporary revolt is not against the distilling and selling of whiskey but agasint such immoral laws as the one adopted by the legislature and signed by Rendell that would allow casinos to serve an unlimited number of alcoholic drinks around the the clock.

This is not going to happen. The poor-man's version of Sam Adams appeared before the county council members on January 3, 2005, to request they hold public hearings on the proposed Las Vegas Sands Casino.

Rendell had the power to honor the Native Americans' claim but declined. He feared they would built a casino on the land that would compete with the Las Vegas Sands Casino owned by Sheldon Adelson and Carl Icahn and Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey officials with whom Fast Eddie was already scheming to build on 126 acres of the defunct Bethlehen Steel Corporation.

The rebels of this latest uprising are going to help Bucks County State Representative Paul Clymer repeal Act 71 "legalizing gambling" (and its corollary, the "back-end" referendum).

And then we're going to move to impeach Governor Rendell. state senators like Lisa Boscola and Rob Wonderling and Pat Browne (swaption sponsor), state representatives like Robert Freeman and Craig Dally, and judges standing for retention.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:53, hook me up with some of whatever it is u b smokin', dude!

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 2:53, maybe if some of the county employees had some of what you've been smoking, maybe they wouldn't be quite so disgruntled.
Thanks for the history lesson, now if you care to comment on the issue at hand, I'd love to hear it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The anonymous poster at 6:07, 7:38 & 2:53 is Billy Givens. I am not "outing" him as he likes people to know who he is. Billy, as I stated in my post, first created the ratpack imagery for NC officials. Yes, he has a tendency to stray from the point at hand and I don't agree with everything he says, but he certainly supports NC workers in their quest for a fair contract.

Anonymous said...

Billy G, what up wid you liking people to know who you are, as Bernie says, but identifying yourself as anonymous in your comments? Who's the crazier fox here, you or Bernie?

Anonymous said...


In light of the article in today's The Morning Call, please return to your postings re global warming and Al Gore's documentary, The Inconvenient Truth.

Officials of the Lehigh Valley, whose "boundaries" shift at least every 10 years with the national census, know the threat of flooding to life and property damage.

But they have done little or nothing to address the issue, preferring instead to squander the public wealth to developers like Lou Pektor, Richard Thulin, Theordore Kheel and his parnter Peter Koehler, Abraham Atiyeh, beginning with multi-billionair Wilbur L. Ross of the International Steel Group.

What we are witnessing in the valley is a massive transfer of public wealth to private ownership of vulture investors like those I just "outed."