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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stoffa: No Layoffs Planned for Northampton County

After Thursday night's Northampton County Council meeting, an excited Jerry Seyfried took a group of us into one of the anterooms near council chambers. He's unearthed the only known copy of the county's 1752 Charter, nicely framed in cherrywood. Express Times reporter Sarah Cassi, county exec John Stoffa and fellow council member John Cusick looked on as Jerry went through the document, frame by frame.

"You really should read this! It's so exciting."

We eventually left him there, where he is probably on his 14th of 19 frames by now. As we walked out of the building, Stoffa would duck into different rooms and flip off the lights. That's what County Exec Gene Hartzell used to do when he was top dog, too. These guys know how much it costs to run a county.

In an effort to save money, Stoffa has proposed a voluntary furlough program, giving workers the option to take time off without pay when times are slow. The key word here is VOLUNTARY. County workers will not be asked or forced to take these furloughs. The program is designed to accommodate those workers who'd like more time off than allowed under their vacation package, as I've explained before.

Unfortunately, there is a small group of misinformed people who insist Stoffa is secretly planning layoffs. "I just seen [sic] the hidden information being put together by [Human Resources Director] Falk. Operation dump employees is already beyond the planning stage."

Stoffa denies this. "There are no mandatory anticipated layoffs planned for next year`s budget … I repeat…no anticipated mandatory layoffs are being planned. "

I'd suggest that some people take a furlough, buy a dictionary, and look up the word "voluntary."

47 comments:

lighthouse said...

I do not know if anyone else has had this problem, but for the last few days I have had an unusual inability to access your site for very long. Before it is done down loading the main page it kicks out of your site and redirects to a Google screen saying something about "dg.specificclick...." "unable to match searched documents" or something like that.

Just an FYI that others may also be experiencing that. I managed to click on "comment" while it was still downloading the main page before it redirected me away from your site. There must be something new, or an image, that downloads on your page that my computer (or virus protection) doesn't like.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This may be from my SiteMeter service, which keeps track of page views and other statistics for me. It might be a tracking cookie. I've had no trouble getting on, but need to play around now.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had any problem.

Anonymous said...

I have always noticed that the Stoffa critics are always prone to make serious spelling and grammar mistakes even when using monosyllabic words. It makes me suspect that it is a small group or the same person over and over. Somewhere there must be people who don't like Stoffa who have GEDs.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse,

It appears the culprit may be my sitemeter. http://wernerpatels.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/warning-do-not-use-sitemeter/

http://boudicca.mu.nu/archives/290722.html

Your privacy settings probably caught it attempting to install a tracking cookie and redirected you.

I am removing sitemeter from my blog and will look for another tracker. It is unfair to my readers to invasion of privacy — and not of mine but of yours. As a reader, you should not be tracked by a cookie you did not approve. I did not know this was happening.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:40, the elitist way in which you attack those who question Stoffa, speaks volumes about Stoffa.

Ohare has said he likes some people but rates them by their supporters. So based on Stoffa supporters like you, Ohare and Angle, Mr. Stoffa must be a lousy County Executive.

Anonymous said...

He's an elitist just because he can spell better that you?

You must live in a dreary world if you think that someone who passed 6th grade spelling is an elitist - and you don't qualify for that tiny, special group.

Anonymous said...

Elitists or not elitists, poor spelling reflects a combination of low intellect, poor phonics skills, and, more significantly, laziness, as proper spelling is a learned skill requiring memory and practice.

"I'm a bad speller," and "I'm just not good at math," are cop outs by lazy, stupid people who were guaranteed several years of free education and wasted it getting stoned or trying to be popular.

And I don't care which politicians you prefer.

lighthouse said...

Bernie,
everything seems to work this morning. Thanks.

Back on topic, I understand the concern of some that "voluntary" may become a slippery slope into "mandatory." I am sure a certain cynicism comes from being in a system long enough, public or private.

I perceive that Mr. Stoffa is experimenting with this idea, in the hopes of weathering the economic realities we live in. However, it would be naive for critics to expect from him a "read my lips, no new layoffs" kind of statement from him. The private sector has been hit hard. Likewise, the public sector is not immune from reality. What has been in the papers the past week? Bethlehem School District talking about layoffs, and state employees working without pay (sure will eventually, but if you are on a tight budget, it can still be devastating). I am sure there are schools, counties, and municipalities that hired during all the growth of the past decade stuggling to decide if they really can still justify all employees in our economic recession.

I don't blame workers for being concerned about their jobs, but likewise can't blame Stoffa for being concerned about the budget. Only a stronger economy can alleviate everyone's concerns, and I don't see that happening yet.

Anonymous said...

Back to the subject please..As a county employee I think there is nothing wrong with the voluntary time off. Many people overreacted because they saw it in the newspaper before they heard anything official about it. That was a royal screwup by the administration. Don't be surprised about people over reacting when they hear it secondhand. Otherwise, who cares It is what it is. A lot, although not a majority, of human services workers were upset when the county upped their hours to 40 hrs a week. Since they seemed to want less hours this 32 hour week should suit them well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't know why people were shocked. Stoffa has been kicking this around for more than a month and it was posted here back then.

Anonymous said...

For 3:07 PM


Are you spending time on here and making comments on tax payers time?

Anonymous said...

honestly, given their attitudes, couldn't you furlough 10 per cent of the county's workforce, and no one would notice the difference?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Are you spending time on here and making comments on tax payers time?"

Not really a fair question. Most county workers have no time to look at the Internet, to say nothing of blogs, when they areat work. Many offices do not even have Internet access.

Anonymous said...

The market has unfortunately determined that 10% should be currently unemployed due to the poor economy.

The county should also implement a 10% unemployment program to bring government in line with the rest of the county, state, and country.

Stoffa is protecting government workers amid an economy that is pummeling the rest of us. It's what politicians do instead of being fiscally responsible in very tough times.

Unfair.

Government should react to the situation the rest of us our faced with. Layoffs of 10% of the county workforce should begin immediately.

We are not their customers. We are their boss.

Anonymous said...

ed

"... are faced with..."

Anonymous said...

Why is the 1752 Charter hidden in an anteroom? Are they afraid it will be stolen? That would be neat if they hung it up in Council Chambers, instead of the Ten Commandments which looks odd in a government council chambers where there is supposed to be separation of church and state.

Anonymous said...

Why is the 1752 Charter hidden in an anteroom? Are they afraid it will be stolen? That would be neat if they hung it up in Council Chambers, instead of the Ten Commandments which looks odd in a government council chambers where there is supposed to be separation of church and state.

Anonymous said...

Who is this Seyfried guy to act like the Lord High Priest and hide the Charter, put it out on public display. Arrogant public officials like to get off on their own power.

If Stoffa has plans to layoff employees, good for him. I can understand how these politicans work and he won't really say what he plans to do until he does it. Probably after the election and early next year.

I applaud his plans to layoff some of the non-essential people, even if he can't admit it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jerry is the person who tracked down and found the charter after it was misplaced during that expansion. He found a place to keep it until the county decides what to do w/ ths treasure. And you are an asshole.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jerry is the person who tracked down and found the charter after it was misplaced during that expansion. He found a place to keep it until the county decides what to do w/ ths treasure. And you are an asshole.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jerry is the person who tracked down and found the charter after it was misplaced during that expansion. He found a place to keep it until the county decides what to do w/ ths treasure. And you are an asshole.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

As a person who works in the county, when will we get a straight answer.

Anonymous said...

Not being able to spell homonyms like there and their or your and you're and simple polysyllabic words means that you have not spent much time reading newspapers or book or signs or commercials on TV and you basically have the reading level of a 4th grader. It's not a question of intelligence but of ignorance...

ig⋅no⋅rance  
– lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've deleted a comment from one of the trolls. It's one of the usual hateful comments, this time referring to the former client whose complaint resulted in my suspension from the legal profession about 25 years ago. He actually names the former client, which is something new.

In fact, there is a continuing series about my ethical lapses as an attorney, being posted on another blog. So I'll say a few words.

No question I let my clients down. I let the legal system down. I let my family down. I let myself down. It was not a good time for me, but I brought it on myself and have paid a very heavy price. There is nothing that some asshole can post on another blog that can punish me more than I've already punished myself.

My misconduct, although totally my own responsibility, was caused by the way alcohol interfered w/ good judgment. It did not happen all the time, or even most of the time, but it happened. I knew I was an alcoholic. It runs in the family. I tried to control my drinking, deluding myself I had no problem, but was unsuccessful. I did not have to drink a lot either. Sure it made me a bad lawyer, but what's worse, it made me a bad father and bad husband. Eventually, I was sitting in a state park somewhere, getting ready to end it all. That's when I hit bottom. A friend tracked me down and got me in rehab.

Nobody forced me to drink. In fact, my family had been trying to get me to quit before this surfaced. My father, a notorious drinker, actually quit when he saw what it was doing to me. That's why the suspension order calls for a doctor's report. Alcoholism is a disease, both physical and emotional. If you'd prefer to say I had an emotional illness, go ahead.

When I drank, I felt like I could do anything, and made promises I could never keep. Then I would try to cover them up and would guilty and miserable until I would drink again.

I believe I should have been disbarred, not suspended. I have not applied for readmission bc, to be honest, I am afraid I would drink again. I was a litigator, and that is very stressful.

Yes, I love to argue and to research legal issues. If I applied, I would be admitted. Judges have encouraged me, but I have always held back bc I feel I can contribute to society in other ways without risking a repeat of the harm I caused as a lawyer. If I ever feel I can overcome that risk, I will apply and undego whatever medical testing is deemed appropriate. But I've been eligible for over 20 years and still don't feel ready.

As far as the specific client mentioned is concerned, I represented him on several other matters before this lawsuit. He remembered that, and he was a big enough person to forgive me for the harm I caused him. I lost out on my marriage, but did become a good father after I stopped drinking in 1985. I could have been a better father, but am happy i did not ruin it. There are probably some clients out there who still deserve apologies.

That's my past. It's full of mistakes and regrets. But it is the past.

These days, I can look myself in a mirror. Of course, it has to be a wide mirror.

You Can Call Me Al said...

Nice expose! Rock on, my man.

Peace, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

I am shocked that the County hasn't laid anyone off. It's kind of odd when every company I know has been laid off. I'm laid off and there are SO many people laid off that I cannot get through any of hte phone lines to file my unemployment biweekly claim. I can't file online either because the site crashed because of all the people filing. I had to go to my state rep's office to fill out a form claiming that I spent two days attempting to get in contact with Unemployment to make my biweekly claim on my specified day. Last time I talked to unemployment they told me there were just too many unemployed that the phone lines and the website couldn't handle it. And the COunty hasn't laid anyone off yet? It doesn't make sense. It's time to thin the herd.

Bernie O'Hare said...

When times are tough, that's when the demand for county services - especially human services - becomes greatest.

Buddy Jesus said...

Bernie, stop apologizing and explaining your past. Everyone is familiar with your story and everyone enjoys your blog. We're here to read your painstaking research and journalism, not to hire you as a lawyer. The trolls bring it up to get under your skin and the more you apologize, the more they win and feel like they've gotten to you in the hopes that they'll break you and keep you from reporting about their own sins. No one cares about your past so stop letting them trick you into reliving it. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." John 8:7

eckville press said...

Vol un tar y adj., n., pl. –tar ies. –adj. 1 done, made, given, ect., of one’s own free will; not forced or compelled: a voluntary contribution. 2 acting of one’s own free will or choice: voluntary workers. ---n 1 anything done, made, given, ect., of one’s own free will.

What next Boss?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Buddy Chrsit,

Thanks. I just want people to know I take my suspension seriously and do not seep it under the rug. Not a day goes by that I don't reflect on my mistakes and people should know about my past. But it is the past.

lighthouse said...

I saw the post before deleted, and a quick search led to their "expose". I don't know you personally, but I am still extremely impressed that you proactively posted what you did, while at the same time am saddened that you felt you had to do so. Like any public "figure", private lives too often are held up for public inspection, sometimes unfairly. Probably won't, but should close the door on all the references to the past that periodically show up on this site. I was not in the LV in the 80s, so for what its worth, door has been opened and closed back up for me. I enjoy, and often gain from, the commentary and dialog your blog provides. Keep it up.

"Jesus again sat up and said (), 'where are they? Has no one condemned you?'...'Neither do I condemn you,' Jesus said." John 8:10-11

Anonymous said...

Poor Bernie, I did not know that YOU were the victim. I am sooo sorry.

You Can Call Me Al said...

And Austin 3:16 says,

"I just kicked your @#$$!"

Peace, ~~Alex

Anonymous said...

Angry Priest you insult Sgt. Slaughter.

I also oppose the proposed layoffs.

Anonymous said...

I would find it financially irresponsible if there weren't layoffs.

Anonymous said...

Reibman layed off people and we know Stoffa plans the same.
He charged Falk, Conklin and Mazzioti to come up with coming up with a plan. Loose lips sink ships.

I have no idea of the numbers involved. Some will be disguised as freezes.

Your fourth grade teacher said...

It's spelled "laid" not "layed"

Anonymous said...

No matter how you spell it, it means you are screwed.

Anonymous said...

I have heard the time frame thrown around for layoffs is April 2010

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thomment was posted anonymously, and by a person who fails to ID his source of information. I point-blank asked Stoffa and have an answer from him, which is posted above.

Unfortinately, Log Dems are playing a cruel game on county workers, who they want to be dissatisfied.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, it has been stated at Gracedale that next year some of the indirect care staff will be laid off.

I have not seen it in writing but some claim to have been part of the discussions about what positions could you cut.

Scary times.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Stoffa has been very clear. First, VOLUNTARY furloughs are just that. Second, he has no plans to lay anyone off.

But I'd suggest you get on the horn to your state legislators and tell them to get off their asses and adop that budget. 75% of the county's money comes from the state, and that mostly goes to human services like Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

Whats new, the Human Services Department has been pumping millions of County dollars into CYF and MH for years now. They have a huge deficit already. Actually this budget problem comes at a good time for the County because now they can blame the deficit on the state.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa has screwed up the County big time. Layoffs nad huge tax increase. Sounds like "W", of course the Repubs love him.

Bernie O'Hare said...

My blog originally posted 8/10. A full week later, 8/17/09, the above anti-Stoffa comment is posted. That's proof that some people are a little batty.