Monday, December 28, 2009

Northampton County Council: 2009's Workhorses & Showhorses

Want to know who really works and who showboats on Northampton County Council? Look no further than their committees. That's where the grunt work gets done. This is my fourth yearly rating of the workhorses, show horse and no-show horses of Northampton County Council. Later this week, I'll be publishing a similar report about Lehigh County's Board of Commissioners.

Council has seven standing committees. These are Economic Development (Mike Dowd - C); Finance (Lamont McClure - C); Human Services (Joe Capozzolo - C); Intergovernmental Affairs (Peg Ferraro - C); Legal, Judicial & Operations (Lamont McClure - C); Personnel (John Cusick - C); and Open Space (Charles Dertinger - C). Until this year, there was an eighth committee, Operations and Administration. Having failed to meet even once in the three previous years, it was merged into McClure's Legal & Judicial Club.

Traditionally, the County Council President chairs no Committee. That explains Ann McHale, last year's President, chaired no committees. Ron Angle, irate that no one would listen to him as chair of Finance, stepped down in 2008, and McHale refused to let him chair anything else. She named Lamont McClure to chair what effectively amounts to three committees - prestigious Finance, Legal and defunct Operations.

You'd never know that from his committee attendance record.

Council's standing committees conducted twenty-three meetings last year. Since every member of council is encouraged to participate in every committee, 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 usually busy Finance committee, which met eleven times in 2008 with Angle at the helm, met only four times in 2009 under McClure. It made no difference that the County was facing a tax increase or that there was a state budget impasse.

John Cusick's busy Personnel Committee convened eight times, dealing with a Sheriff appointment as well as a controversial LANTA Board nominee.

The big surprise, at least for me, was Rev. Mike Dowd's Economic Development Committee, which met six times in 2009, twice as often as the previous year.

Human Sevices, under the stewardship of appointed Council member Joe Capozzolo, met four times. Charles Dertinger's Open Space Committee met just once. McClure's Legal and Judicial and Peg Ferraro's Intergovernmental Committee conducted no business.

The workhorses?

Council member John Cusick attended 19 committee meetings last year, making him the hardest working and most dedicated council member for the third straight year.

Following closely behind Cusick, and surprising me again, was modest Rev. Mike Dowd, who attended 17 committee hearings last year, seeking no accolades.

Four other council members - Ann McHale (13), Ron Angle, Peg Ferraro and Joe Capozzolo (all tied at 12) - have solid committee attendance records this year.

The showhorses?

Lamont McClure, who does have a law practice, attended only six committee meetings, equalling his pitiful 2008 performance and just one more than in 2007.

Charles Dertinger, with 5 committee meetings that equalled his abysmal 2008 record, was at the bottom of the heap. Even Jerry Seyfried, who was not even appointed to Council until July, attended 9 different meetings, nearly twice as many as Dertinger.

Naturally, Dertinger and McClure were two of Council's three loudest mouths.

Dertinger undoubtedly blames his Council loss on angry Republicans, mobilized by President Barack Obama's agenda.

But Dertinger's own shoddy record had to contribute to this loss. If I were McClure, I'd be looking over my shoulder.

Blogger's Note: Previous years can be reviewed here: 2006, 2007 & 2008.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Ohare condemns Dertinger and McClure and praises Cusick and Dowd. Surprise, surprise.

That has been your song for two years. You know any other tunes.

How about the most incompetent County Executive for four years. Mr. Stoffa gets the ten foot trophy for that one.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. There is working smart and just putting in time. Dowd has a cake gift job with the Chamber so he puts in time but really accomplishes little.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The above two comments were posted by Bobn daday, a bitter old Reibman hallwalker who lost his marbles when Stoffa cut off his unemployment.

Ther facts are the facts. For four years, McClure has been at or near the bottom of the heap in committee attendance. For three of those four, Dertinger has also been at or near the bottom.

It's very telling when a 6 month Council member can attend nearly twice as many meetings as McClure pulled off in a year.

Sandra Walters Weiss said...

Thank you Bernie,I for one want to know who,when and why not! At least I now know that there is a County Council.But every time I go to attempt to attend a meeting,it seems to be canceled or no quorum.
And while we are on the County discussion,Diane Fossco,a life long friend and County employee until 2003,passed away on Christmas Eve.

If anyone knew Diane she helped bring D & A into a new era only to be forced into early retirement. So she is on my unsung hero list and those of us that knew her know the deal.She was definitely a Clydesdale!

Anonymous said...

I want to thank Mr. Angle for his accurate representation and support for Route 22 widening on WFMZ's Business Matters Transportation Talk. I have to call it as I see it.

Is it coincidental that Cunningham did not get NC support for a Regional Crime Center and the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee did not conduct any business?

Anonymous said...

Lehigh County Show Horse Dougherty...Work Horse Eckhart...Donkey Leiner...Trojan Horse Browning...Talking Horse Roman...Bronco Jones...Sleeping Horse Raber....Dark Horse McCarthy...Poney Hamm

Lighthouse said...

you need some new "daily" one-liners...

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're right.

Anonymous said...

I want to protest Ms. Weiss' rude and inaccurate comments. shame on her!

Alan Earnshaw said...


You criticized LC commissioners' attendance records of 81, 76, and 64 meetings (60%, 56.3%, and 47.4%, respectively). (Perhaps rightly so; I am not overly involved in County politics.) But in NC, you characterize as "solid committee attendance records" 13 (56.5%) and 12 (52.2%). Even the "worst" LC commissioner attended five times as many committee meetings as the "solid" NC commissioners.

When I compare both percentages and actual numbers of committee meetings, I think all the NC commissioners are doing their county a disservice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Alan, That is a valid criticism. You're right. NC Council members need to attend far more committee meetings, and there need to be more of them, too.

Anonymous said...

Many Northampton County Council memebers have real jobs. Unlike teacher Cucisk, slumlord Angle and "what does he do" Chamber guy Dowd, many have to work.

You are really a hack Ohare. You twist every post to attack those in government you hate.

Why not a post on what Mr. Stoffa plans to do in the next four years. He accomplished nothng in his first four except depleting the treasury and going back on his open space pledge. So what goals does the big guy have planned for us in the next four. Famine, flood, frogs?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Another bullshit excuse by people too lazy to spend the time to do what they were elected to do. If a meeting interferes with the working schedule ofa council member with a "real job," he could open his mouth and ask that meetings be scheduled at more convenient times. That has not happened, and government suffers as a result. Take a look at Lamont McClure's Finance Committee, for example. During a time when the County is in fiscal crisis, he's too busy at his "real job" to deal with the myriad of issues. He could easily have scheduled meetings outside regular business hours, but apparently detests doing the spade work.

And Angle has a real job, incidentally. Do you think it's easy kicking out all those old ladies on their asses? So did Joe Cap, who managed a busy factory. So does Ann McHale, who nevertheless attends more committee meetings than most.

You are trying to make excuses for McClure and Dertinger's loust attendance. The voters have told Dertinger what they think of his attendance. Lamont is next

Anonymous said...

The biggest showhorse in the Lehigh Valley is Ron Angle. He achieves nothing and only works to get his mug on TV and name in the paper. No one will work with the obnoxious blowhard and he has made Northampton county the laughing stock of the State.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank you for your comment, Mr. McClure.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:32, best statment of 2009!

Anonymous said...

how and where can i find out when nc meetings are held

Anonymous said...

They are held the first and third thursday of every month 7:00 pm @ the govt center in easton.
The first one is next monday Jan 4 to reorganize. see you there mr. Morganeeli

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, the meetings are at 6:30 PM, not 7 PM. The reorganization will occur on Monday, around 10:45 AM

Anonymous said...

Do the meetings beginning with the Reorganization, start on webcast this year?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Reorganization is a dry run. Meetings thereafter will be webcast on a livestream.