Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Northampton County Council: 2008's Workhorses and Showhorses


You want to know who works and who doesn't on Northampton County Council? Look no further than their committees. That's where the grunt work gets done. Council has eight standing committees, and seven of them met this year. The most active by far are the personnel, finance and human services committees, chaired by John Cusick, Ron Angle & Diane Neiper.

Council's standing committees conducted twenty-six meetings last year. Every member of council is encouraged to participate in every committee. So it's a pretty accurate gauge of the time and effort each councilperson devotes to government service. The committees that meet are also a good indication of what council members think are important.

Council's busy Finance (Angle) and Personnel (Cusick) committees, usually combined, met eleven times last year. Human Sevices (Neiper), studying the possibility of a bi-county health department, had eight meetings. Mike Dowd's Economic Development committee also conducted three meetings.

Lamont McClure's Legal and Judicial Committee met only twice, although his second meeting, which related to the home foreclosure crisis, was perhaps ther best committee meeting I've seen in several years of following council.

The Intergovernmental (Ferraro) and Open Space (Dertinger) met just once. Rev. Mike Dowd's Operations and Administration committee failed to meet at all, as it failed to meet in 2007.

The workhorses?

Council member John Cusick attended 21 committee meetings last year, making him the hardest working and most dedicated council member for a second straight year. Nipping at his heels, just like last year, with 20 meetings to her credit, is Diane Neiper. Both Cusick and Neiper are finishing their third year on council, and their attendance record reflects dedication. They are far ahead of their colleagues.

Two other council members - Ron Angle (13) & Ann McHale (15) - have solid committee attendance records this year.

The showhorses?

Peg Ferraro, in her first full year on Council after defeating Tony Branco last year, attended only 8 committee meetings last year. That's certainly better than Tony Branco, the person she replaced, but she could have done much better.

Lamont McClure, who does have a law practice, attended only six committee meetings, just one more than in 2007.

Rev. J. Michael Dowd and Charles Dertinger are tied, at at the bottom of the heap, with an abysmal record of just 5 committee meetings in 2008. That's an 8% attendance record. Dowd, to his credit, at least has the brains to keep his mouth shut at council meetings, knowing he never participated in committee discussions. But not Dertinger. Rarely will you see a person take so much time to say so little.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

When will Naiper address the huge deficit in Human Services and discontent among staff.
Instead of trying to come up with a new place to spend money in the Health Department why not address the actual human Services Department.
She can have one hundred meetings for all the good it does, since she has yet to have any indepth look at the Countys largest Department that is having some big problems.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Listen, Diane Neiper has not been one of my favorite council members. I've criticized her more often than I've commended her. But she does work her ass off, and I can't remember the last time human services had so many meetings. These meetings are open to the public. They are advertised. You are permitted to go to any one of them to make trhem aware of your concerns. That's the whole point.

As far as the "deficit" is concerned, there is none. But Northampton County, just like Lehigh and every other county in the state, has been forced to cut services because it is not getting the funding it needs from the state.

Everyone is aware of this, from Ross Marcus to every member of council. He has not hidden from this.

Now if you have answers to these problems, by all means let them be known. But don't slam a council member who cares enough about your department to do her job. If the department has people like you, there is little wonder why there are morale problems. You criticize someone for working. How stupid is that!

Anonymous said...

You forgot about St. Frank Flisser, who has to put up with all of the Council members and listen to their bull**** at every meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Frank is the best of the best, but I'm prettier than him.

Anonymous said...

The Department does in fact have a deficit and neither Lehigh nor Bucks has a deficit.
This has nothing to do with the State, at least not yet, and everything to do with runaway costs and overprojected revenues by Northampton County. They also planned on having money left from Gracedale in 2007 but Stoffa re-directed it.
I remember the past few Directors were constantly questioned and re-questioned about their budgets, but with this crew they could say the Moon is cheese and you would cheer,yelling prove them wrong.

Sad for the taxpayers and the Clients.

Obviously you are biased but if you were to do more investigating than just ask the people you defend you would learn the truth.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, this comment is off topic, but in regard to northampton county, i must once again say how unimpressed i am with sal panto. after defending the riverwalk project for a year, yesterday he admitted the project was ugly and useless. never the less, he's still obsessed with spending the grant somewhere on a parking garage, even if its location and need is questionable.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:24,

First you slam Neiper bc she actually consducts Human Services meetings. Then you of course blane Stoffa and I am biased. The only person who seems to have his act together is you, and you're anonymous. You go to no meetings, but sit back at snipe anonymously, like a pathetic piece of shit. Like I said, if the department has morale problems, it's because of people like you.

Go to a meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM,

I very nearly went to last night's meeting, where Panto was going to discuss the new transportation center in more detail. I need to know more.

I will say that moving it ffrom the River to Third Street takes it away from the flood plain and is much closer to all the businesses. It's less than a block from where the buses currently piuck up and drop off people. This will not hurt the businesses so far as I can see.

We are OT here. I will do a separate post when I learn more.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can discuss the logic behind the increase in the Easton local EIT from 1% to an incredible 1.75%!

Bernie O'Hare said...

A few anonymous personal attacks, posted by troublemakers, have been deleted. Opinions are welcome. Criticism is encouraged. Childish slams will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

After reading this post I am struck by how unimportant these committee meetings must be Cusick and Neiper have done all this work at meetings and finished the year with nothing to show for it personnel is still nowhere and human services is bankrupt. Good job guys. Angle quit finance because he couldn’t get his way he had no effect on the overall budget, he predicted over and over the budget wouldn’t pass and it did unanimously except for him. He finishes this year again without getting anything done. In all the years Ferraro usually has the worst attendance no surprise there. Dowd, and McHale have done a great job for the people they represent together they are the leaders in spending earmarks for Easton and Bethlehem. As for Dertiger and McClure they seem to be driving a lot of what goes on, or why else would you blog about them so constantly. I’ve seen here, the msm and in other places these two guys are always on the winning side of the votes.
Maybe the rest of council could learn from Dowd, Dertiger, Ferraro and McClure, rather than holding pointless meeting just get things done.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Amazing! Simply unfrickin' amazing. The council members with the lousiest attendance records are the ones who get things done.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dertinger is a legislative stud. He single handidly broke the log jam on the Keystone Cement project so that huge construction project can move forward. Additionally, he scored a major open space victory in the deal by getting the company to agree to connect the Nor Bath Trail. He also fought off Angle attempts to move Wayne A. Grube park money into farmland preservation. He is a true workhorse. Please name one thing in three years that Cusick has passed.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, let us join hands this Christams Season and thank God for Charles Dertinger. It sounds as if the County would shut down if he werre to leave.

How did anything get done before he arrived?

Anonymous said...

I am thankful for Charlie on Council. He is honest, decent, intelligent public servant. He is active in his community. He is a good family man. He cares about local government passionately. We are very lucky to have this guy. Incidentally, he finished second to Wayne in 2005 and I expect him to be the top vote getter this year. Merry Christmas !

Anonymous said...

Burne - it is good to admire work ethic. And Cusick and Naper should be commended for showing up, although, you might want to check the meetings for which actual attendance is kept - that being County Council meetings mandated by the Home Rule Charter. That paints the opposite picture of what you have here. Also, Naiper has a significant accomplishment sheperding through Council the Health Bureau. What has Cusick done ? Ronny has more accomplishments.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actual attendance is kept at committee meetings. And in NC, ALL council members are encouraged to attend as many of these meetings as they can. It makes them better informed.

What has Cusick done? He's asked a lot of questions. He's provided oversight, as has Neiper. The more informed a council member, the more effective they tend to be.

Dertinger, McClure and Dowd do a disservice to the people who have elected them by their lousy attendance.

Anonymous said...

That's what's great about elections we will get to see how Dertinger's record of accomplishment stacks up to Cusick's record of inaction. Here's his slogan, Vote for Me, I'm Useless, But Burne thinks I'm Swell for Showing Up. I always knew there was a Burne - Woody Allen symetry.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That is what is great about elections. Dertinger's lousy attendance record stretches over the last three years. He can exmplain it to the voters. I will not vote for a candidate simply bc he por she attends the meetings, but I will vote against a candidate who fails to attend them and then acts as though he knows everything.

Anonymous said...

Dertinger will be top vote-getter ! Merry Christmas !

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank you, and Happy Chanukah, too!