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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Andy Roman: Got Public Health?

Andy Roman is a conservative Lehigh County Commissioner who nevertheless supports the proposed Lehigh Valley Health Department. Here's why, in his own words.

A modern Health Department would be a strong guardian of protection for the residents of the Lehigh Valley. This isn't Mayberry. The Lehigh Valley is the 3rd largest metropolitan area in PA.
And yes, a quality health department would be instrumental in Lehigh/Northampton County fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities of providing for the Public Health & Safety of each County resident. Safety, which certainly includes Emergency Management.

Just ask the director of the Allentown Health Bureau and she will tell you the wide spectrum of catastrophe scenario's that we must be prepared for.

Imagine the panic of a bio-terrorist act of our food supply being poisoned and 5,000 people flock to area hospitals with high fevers, vomiting and convulsions and we had no capacity or command and control to handle such an incident because we were so shortsighted and foolish?

Right now there is no central authority to direct such a response effort. Our current system is fragmented and incapable of addressing a significant event. A Health department would provide that central authority.

If the County government doesn't provide for public health & safety in an age of terrorism, then what exactly is the primary role of government?

What better method than local government and local control over protecting our citizens?

Just ask the victims of Katrina who were waiting on the State & Federal Government.

I believe this debate should start with the "value" a modern health department would provide given the threats that exist before we argue about the "cost".

Cost is only a primary issue in the absence of value.

Once value is established then a cost/benefit analysis should be conducted and only then can an intelligent decision be made.

I hope this entry will add to an intelligent discussion of a very important issue and that is Public Health & Safety in an age of Terrorism.


Jacob said...

Lehigh Valley Residents worrying themselves about bio terrorist attacks are about as silly as Fort Wayne Indiana residents worrying about the same thing 6 years ago when I lived there when Ridge told people to buy duct tape and plastics and the morons bought all the duct tape and plastic at Home Depot.

Terrorist like to make statements. There is nothing in the Lehigh Valley to make a statement on.

The obsession over terrorist is quite ridiculous in smaller regions.

Many arguments for a Valley wide Health Organization.

Terrorism is just plain fear based stupidity.

Jacob said...

I want to add further to the stupidity of commissioner Roman.

A biological terrorist attack in our food supply would rise to the level that it would have to be state sponsored. The level of sophistication required to get a pathogen that was able to survive food processing and than introduce it into a supply would require a lot of cash and a lab to implement it. It would than have to be imported into the country somehow or to fund a lab in the United States to produce the pathogen.

The recent terrorist attacks in the US have involved fertilizer, box cutters, pipe bombs, and crude explosives tucked away in shoes and underwear. We have had one anthrax attack using the US Postal service as a delivery system and it appears that it was a domestic terrorist attack. Even this attack was rather crude.

I think an outbreak of a new strain of flu or other such virus is more of a reason than bio-terrorism.

Anyone who nods their head when they hear the terrorism buzz word thrown out there without doing some critical thinking should be slapped.

Bernie O'Hare said...


I happen to disagree w/ Comm'r Roman's argument bc I believe something like this is covered by emergency management, not a health department.

Having said that, I find it incredible that you, Jacob Oberholtzer, would publicly call him stupid. The only person looking stupid right now is you.

Attack the idea, not the person.

Jacob said...


I'm sorry Andy might not be stupid. He thinks people are stupid if he thinks they should buy into an argument over a potential bio-terrorism attack. He could be right, people could be that stupid.

I have no problem publicly calling politicians stupid. I call the President stupid, about twice a day on my economic blog.

Anonymous said...

If a pandemic strikes and 5000 people flood local hospitals, I think the important question is what does a new bureaucray do?

The idea that a Lehigh Valley Health Department is somehow going to dimminsih the effects of a run on the hospitals under panic conditions is a costly placebo and unrealistic.

This in theory is a fine idea but not practical. In a disaster a health department can do what? Tell a parent to not take their kids to the hospital. Do you think a paniced nervous parent with a sick child is going to care what another bureaucrat in a cheap yellow vest says.

A health Department is a marketing tool of the Lehigh Valley Partnership, so I am not surprised you will get some mainstream Republican support. In a weird marriage of sorts, it is also a favorite of the liberals who see it as another layer of public (free) health services. Wait until the welfare cases in the majority of PA, that doesn't have these clinics hears about this.

Sorry, the 911 terrorist card may have been successgully used to limit our Constitutional rights but I think it is really pathetic to use it as the red flag to rally support for a job producing expensive and unneccessary local quazi-governmental agency that will grow larger year in and yrear out.

I cut and pasted the above from an earlier entry I saw. The poster makes very good points.

Jacob said...

I'll add Bernie, if magical terrorist somehow develop a pathogen to put into our food supply and target the Lehigh Valley, I will bow down to Commissioner Roman in his Nostradamus like predictions of a threat.

That being said, I stand by my comments. I don't believe there is currently a terrorist organization that could implement the threat Commissioner Roman is losing sleep over. If his terrorist porn scenario would somehow play out it would involve a state sponsor. If US intelligence cannot pick up a large state sponsored terrorist attack in the continental United States using the sophistication Mr. Roman has described. We are in more trouble than our hospital system.

He should focus on mother nature taking a turn for the worse which is more highly probable.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm sorry Andy might not be stupid."


What you do on your own blog is your business. I welcome your opinions here, too, and actually agree with them on this point. But I take a dim view of the name-calling that seems to be so prevalent in dialogue today. It does not demean Andy Roman, it demeans you. And unlike the President, who you insult twice daily, Andy Roman will be reading your comments. He deserves a little respect, especially after going out of his way to explain himself here.

Anon 1:45,

Excellent points. In fact, on Monday night, Dr. Lyon was reduced to arguing that the health department would spur economic development, which has nothing to do with public health.

LVCI said...

If one wants to argue for a Health Department. I find it a little weak playing the "terrorists" card. It certainly won't push my fear button.

Growing up we in this area were more threatened in WWII or the cold war with the Soviet Union.

Nearly all my life living within the crosshairs of Mack trucks and Bethlehem Steel, we were all told that we could be the target of a nuclear missile attack from Russia or WWII bombers. Water and food were put in school basements. Eerie, spooky city sirens sounded everyday at noon. Civil Defense drills were done in schools and city wide on occasion.

Now I might have been concerned with commie nukes or WWII combatants trying to take out steel mills that fabricated the battle ships.

However bio-terrorists?

Ask them and they will probably say, "What's an Allentown?"

We already have HazMat teams and hospital alerting systems. Don't need another cog in the wheel. If this truly is a concern then expand on a system that is already trained, experienced and in place.

Anonymous said...

Andy Roman proves that even smart people have occasional dumb ideas. His argument is more than a stretch. He seems to want to address a lack of bureaucratic communication by adding still more bureaucracy. I'm beginning to question the description of Andy as "conservative." Although if "conservative" is defined as conserving the same broken approach to things, I stand corrected.

Anonymous said...

Does the US Constitution proclaim we are due bi-county health bureaus?

Bernie O'Hare said...

There are those who do think public health is a right. The basis is probably the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as contained in the Declaration of Independence.

Anonymous said...

constitutionally, the argument lies in the preamble. Somethng about "promote the general welfare." health certainly has something to do with that. we can argue about rights and such, but the founders seemed to indicate that gov't had a responsibility to promote the general welfare. now we can argue about the meaning of that till the cows come home.

speaking of cows, mad cow disease might be one of those health issue that scares andy into supporting this. silly. perhaps he was having a bad night?

eckville press said...

"If a pandemic strikes and 5000 people flood local hospitals, I think the important question is what does a new bureaucray do?"

Adds one more layer of dysfunctional bureaucracy to slow down any relief effort.

"Please wait till you here all the options before making your selection..."

"To continue in English press one..."

Anonymous said...

Knowing Andy, the shister that he is, I would not be surprised if he is jockeying to be the director of a new County Health Bureau!

Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand how the same folks who want smaller county government (and it was Andy that helped lead the consolidation of row officers) at the same time support the idea of creating a County health department, which puports to be a great expansion of County Government. That said, Mr. Roman's explanation is one of the more articulate, though in my opinion somewhat rehtorical. We do have a cordinated regional emergency management plan which contemplates action in response to a terrorist attack.

Anonymous said...

This plan has been dead for a while. It just doesn't have the sense to fall down.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It may be dead in NC, but is very much alive in LC. Expect the bi-county health department to become the LC Health Department.

Jacob said...


I hope Mr. Roman reads my comments and I hope he thinks twice before reaching for the "fear" card when he wants to sell a public policy.

Using the terrorist card was an attempt to illicit an emotional response in the people he represents in the county.

Well he got an emotional response from me. I called it stupid.

There are many good arguments pro and con in this debate over a Valley-wide Health organization.

Mythological terrorist with technology that require large capital investments and a stable place to develop is not one of them.

It speaks poorly on Mr. Roman that he would go that route.

I said the same thing about the President when he threatened national insolvency if he didn't get his way on the Health Care bill.

If you wish to use fear as your main tool to sell a policy, my response is you think your voters are a bunch of mindless animals and a good portion of us are not. So that in fact is a stupid strategy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Well he got an emotional response from me. I called it stupid."

No, you called him stupid. There is a difference.

Anonymous said...

Here is one of the things with funding public health- if it is not a big problem here and now, the monies eventually go away, but you still have to take care of the problem. Examples: West Nile-10 years ago we were throwing money around collecting dead birds and spraying everything in sight. Now all that money is gone, but counties are still responsible for mosquito abatement and collecting of certain birds with no help from an outside agency. TB and HIV are another example of one time there was money, but now there is not and it still needs to be taken care of.

Anonymous said...

And here is another example of cutting funding: Per the Reading Eagle-
"When it comes to helping smokers quit or preventing them from getting started, Pennsylvania is failing. That is the finding of the American Lung Association, which Tuesday released tobacco control report cards for each state. Pennsylvania got an "F" for its spending on tobacco prevention and control after cutting 45 percent of its funding for those programs in this year's budget.

State spending on tobacco prevention fell to $17.7 million this fiscal year from $32.1 million in fiscal year 2009."

And this lack of funding trickles down to county and local agencies that are trying to help people end smoking.

Anonymous said...


Who cares? The state gives special smoking dispensations to its friends. Sands just converted a huge area of floor space from no smoking to smoking. Despite PSAs to the contrary, the state must be o.k. with smoking. It keeps 'em coming to the casino and generates popular tax revenue from those with lower incomes. If everybody quit smoking and drinking and gambling, PA would be in far worse shape. We have a lot riding on sins in this state.

Jacob said...


Considering some of the things you've published on this blog, a hit piece on Lorraine and a hack job by Scott on the first lady of Allentown, I'm amazed your feigned outrage over me saying that a commissioner was stupid for trying to play a fear card.

The comments were shameful and hopefully the commissioner will live up to his office by using rational discourse not fear when selling a policy in the future.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jacob, Go back and review those posts. Although highly critical, yu just won't see me calling other people stupid or human shitstains. Now you are either sorry or you are not sorry. I don't really care, but will not tolerate it when my readers are abused by others who think this is middle school.

Anonymous said...


The abuse you hurled on me on my introduction to you during the Lorraine Facebook post was rather amusing seeing we had never met. The abuse you allow towards public officials you don't like, is rather amusing.

You trying to shame me for calling a public official stupid for using a shameful tactic, is very amusing.

If you had a high road on personal attacks, I'd take you seriously. You don't.

Andy is one of your favorites. No big deal. His comments are still stupid and he's stupid if he thinks Lehigh County residents will take him seriously stoking fear.

Jake Oberholtzer

Bernie O'Hare said...


Go back and look at the posts. You'll see I call no one any names. That is simply not my style. I certainly don't call people stupid just for having an opinion different from mine.

As far as Andy Roman being one of my favorites, that should be news to both if us. I posted a blog about some nasty comments that he himself directed at Jeanne McNeill's husband. I posted a blog about his attendance record in LC, which I consider inadequate. I posted his explanation, but criticized that, too. He is by no means one of my favorites. Having said that, he will be treated with respect when he is kind enough to come inside my house.

I've asked you nicely to behave like an adult. Now I will tell you that additional demeaning comments from you will be deleted. And at this oint, you are off topic.

Anonymous said...

Boy if a Health Department is such a bad idea why are the stupid tax payers in Bethlehem and Allentown paying for one ? Do they just have more restuarants to exam ? What is happenig to the bi-county health department idea is typical of the Lehigh Valley ...lack of vision and good ole prejudice that thrives here in this Lehigh Valley area. We are still as unsphisticated as we were 50 years ago.