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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Will Norco Council Produce Audiotape Containing Their Childish Remarks?

Last Thursday, Northampton County Council took absurdity to new levels when it refused to follow its own lawyer's advice. Morning Call columnist Bill White, fresh from his recent holiday with Jolly Joe Timmer, likened the meeting to an Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party. And that's actually being kind to that sorry crew.

I want the audiotape of that meeting. I'm particularly interested in Ann McHale's hissy fit, including the "Nice guys finish last" grenade she threw at county exec John Stoffa. I'd really like to upload her little outburst for your listening pleasure. In fact, I should do that more often.

I asked for that audio tape last Friday. Yesterday, I put my request in writing, and even kicked in $20 to defray any costs.

Here's what county council's own public records access policy states:

"All requests for copies of audio tapes of a County Council meeting, not made in person, shall be submitted in writing by the person making the request. The following charges shall apply to each request for copies of audio tapes: $15.00 for each tape copied, plus, if mailed, postage and $2.00 service charge."

Under council's own damn policy, as well as The Right to Know Law, I'm entitled to a copy. Incidentally, The Right to Know Law specifically provides council "may not deny a requester access to a public record due to the intended use of the public record by the requester."

Seems like a slam dunk, right?

Wrong. Last night, when I glanced at the agenda for tonight's meeting of county council, I noticed the following item listed: "Discussion of the County Council Public Records Access Policy."

There is nothing to discuss.

Nothing, unless council has no interest in open and accountable government. It could decide to make a retroactive change. It could even try to bury my request in some goofy committee, as it did with its own lawyer's legal advice. I'd put nothing past that goofy bunch. If it moves in that direction, it does so at its own peril.

You see, I'm not one of those nice guys. I'm a miserable bastard.


Anonymous said...

Bernardo, we have very different views on our leadership challanged County Executive but on this one I agree with you. For a variety of reasons I am familiar with the Charter. While I wish 'the real world' of business was half as open as government, we can always improve. You do have a right to that tape. I believe this came up once before some time ago. Point is I have my disagreements with folks on issues but in public office your words and actions belong to the public.
You go Girl.

Sir Dude

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sir Dude,

Let me be clear. I've never had a problem with county council's staff, which has always accomodated my requests for information. They are a great bunch, and you probably know that.

What is strange, at least to me, is that no council ever had to be involved in a request for information until now. I suspect Ann McHale does not want people to hear how she sounded. But like you say, her words and actions in a public meeting belong to the public.

They can do this the easy way or the hard way.

Blah Society said...

No matter what council will try to do, they still HAVE to supply the tape, correct?

Anonymous said...

I am hoping that after the Council renovations, that their sessions will be broadcast via the internet as promised. That's as open as you can get. Even better than a TV news camera that people can edit.

LVDem said...

"No matter what council will try to do, they still HAVE to supply the tape, correct?"

I am reminded of a quote that Andrew Jackson made after the Supreme Court issued a ruling he didn't like. Something to the effect of, "John Marshall has made his ruling, now let him enforce it."

I suspect if they really got into a jam, the council could just sit on it and say "NO". Or they'll hand bernie a pile of recording tape sans cassette.

Anonymous said...

Bill White and Jolly Joe Timmer??

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that Timmer invited White to buy Time Shares in the Polka fun Center. Timmer's free gifts to White included free use of a bumba stick and some 40 year old cassette tapes. The 5 coarse meal included brown lettuce, ground hog stuffed with green keilbasi,molded wheat rolls and a 20 year old jar of pickles with their own mushrooms growing out of the top. What a Timmer delight!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mmmmmm! Makes me want to do the chicken dance.

Anonymous said...

Bernardo will get the tape but there will be a mysterious 18 second erasure. H.R. Dowd will explain it. Sam Bennet, Lisa Boscola and Ann McHale, the women have caught up to men in the world of crass and incompetent government.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:38, Sir Dude?

You will see this discussed tomorrow. They forked it over.

Anonymous said...

You got me!
I'm glad you got the tape. I, like you was mystified as to why it would rise to the level of an agenda item. I know I mentioned about this sort of thing happening before. I should have said I knew of requests before and sometimes some elected's were not happy but too bad you have a right to the information. Frankly I believe with the digital age here, we should at the very least record all public elected meetings and if possible videotape. (Or is that digivideo/)

Your less tham humble servant,
Sir Dude

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sir Dude,

I appreciate the support. I did address council tonight and was trying to remember your words, which rand in my head from the time i read then until the meeting started.

in public office your words and actions belong to the public.

I couldn't remember themn at the meeting and just brayed on about there being nothing to discuss.

Apparently, Neiper "and a few others" got together and decided to slow me down while pretending they had no intention of interfering. I'll have more about that tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I know this is OT but anything at the meeting about the suicide at the prison? I know many say who cares. But NorCo has a bad reputation when it comes to inmate suicides. Least we forget this is a county jail not Graterford. The prison chiefs and their staffs never seem to get anything but praise. I would hope Co.Council would check this out.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I'm terribly sorry but your comment is the first I've heard of this suicide, and I'm sorry for that. Nothing was mentioned.

In fairness to that council, I have heard them individually express concerns over living conditions for the inmates, and more than once.

Inmates are human beings and deserve to be treated as such. I'll ask around. But my impression is that most county leaders, evewn those I detest, share that view. I'll certainly ask around.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of this County ALWAYS thinking they are above the law!!!!!! Even when ALL of those "in charge" are are presented with signed court orders to do something they refuse. Who do these people think they are? I'll tell you. They are all crooked bastards who should be doing the right things for the people, not themselves or out of spite. The higher ups in this county act like a bunch of children. They disobey the law, court orders, and do what is best for themselves or cover things up when certain people are involved. Where are their morals? By the way, what ever happened to the two "higher-ups" who were recently (allegedly)caught doing some inappropriate things in the building on the weekend? That sure seemed to die fast! Maybe it was just a rumor. Rumors certainly do run rampant in this County.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:10,

Can you tell me what court orders are being ignored? If that's the case, there's a simple remedy. But I don't know what you're getting at, and would appreciate it if you could fill me in.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I don't know what annon 10:10 means about court orders. Unless it's related to the rumors that have been flying about one of Stoffa's Directors and a county staff member allegedly caught in the 'act' over some weekend. These type of rumors have gone on for years over here. Appartently a custodian walked in on the pair, as they were communicating. Supposdly some on Council claim a security tape exists of the incident and want it. I'm surprised you have not heard about this, it's been going around for awhile. Go to your usual sources, I'm sure you can learn more if you want.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The rumor I'm interested in is the one about court orders being ignored.

Anonymous said...

ANON 9:58 PM SAID "I know this is OT but anything at the meeting about the suicide at the prison? I know many say who cares. But NorCo has a bad reputation when it comes to inmate suicides. " Yes it is off topic. However you made it a topic. I knew Ray jr and Ray sr about 25 years ago. They both seemed like shady characters to me. Unfortunately, the good hearted sole that I am, I loaned the suicide man Ray Davenport Jr my 17" chainsaw. I NEVER GOT MY CHAINSAW BACK. He also beat his girlfriend to near death. So all I can say is good ridence to bad rubbish. Iff you need my name to confirm I will provide it.