About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 07, 2010

White: NorCo Private Meetings a Poor Start

The Morning Call's Bill White has a column today concerning two private meetings among Northampton County Council Republicans. The first involved the four incumbents as well as three electees, and concerned the Presidency. The second meeting apparently involved a smaller group.

Pennsylvania's toothless Sunshine Act requires that whenever a quorum of a public body like Northampton County Council meets to discuss the people's business, it must do so publicly. The reason, as stated in the Act itself, is that "secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public's effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society."

Regular readers here know I am a Sunshine Act purist, having posted 96 stories concerning this topic since I started here.

Back in 2007, when Democrats caucused behind closed doors to preselect Council officers, Council Prez Wayne Grube brazenly admitted that the decision had already been made, telling Ron Angle that what they were doing was "no different than the deal you made with the county executive over open space." Then Council member Tony Branco poured salt in the wound, also admitting that the deal had been made.

Because Council was doing publicly what was already decided privately, there really was no remedy. Courts generally allow public bodies to publicly ratify what they decide privately.

This time, the situation is a bit different. There apparently were two closed door meetings, but neither involved a quorum. Even when all seven Republicans met, only four of them were actually members of Council. The other three were electees who had not even taken the oath of office. So as White grudgingly concedes, no laws were broken.

Of course, the spirit of the law was trampled.

The only excuse I can make for Angle and his fellow Republicans is that they're not used to being a majority. If Ron Angle's Council plans to distinguishing itself from McHale's Navy, there must be a real effort at transparency.


Anonymous said...

Let them use your flip cam next time Bernie, then all will be documented.

Anonymous said...

I guess your girlfriend Angle is just like every other politician ... he believe that others have to be held to a higher standard and that once he is in control the higher standards do not apply.

The term for that is ... HYPOCRITE.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I take pains to point out in my blog, the situation 2 years ago is different from what occurred now. Two years ago, there ws an actual violation, brazenly admitted. This time around, there was no violation, as White himself acknowledges. So I see no hypocrisy.

But as i also stated, the spirit of the law was certainly violated. If this council wishes to distinguish iteself from business as usual, it will strive to avoid situations like this and try to be both transparent and accountable.

Anonymous said...

What bothered me most was Angle's comment that "There's no spirit" of the law, and that it's legal or illegal, period.

He's failing to realize is that appearances matter. And the appearance of backroom dealing matters even if it was legal.

Not off to a good start.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Agreed there was no actual violation. But ... just ask yourself if the same situation occured and the 7-2 majority were Ds and not Rs, and the new head of County Council was named Dirtinger (heaven forbid), what would Ron Angle have to say?

Would the MC story be that Mr. Angle thought it was ok because the spirit of the law was damaged but no actual law was broken, or would it be Mr. Angle ranting about how morally reprehensible the Ds actions were? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Anonymous said...

It is only a matter of time before Angle screws up enough to get him in trouble. I set the over under at 6 months.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter, b/c the Democrat Socialist America Haters are evil and want to turn America over to the Muslim Extremist Terrorists so they can kill our freedoms and perform more gay marriages and abortions. God bless the freedom-loving Christian Tea Bag Republicans who are saving America in Northampton County.

Republican Voter

Bernie O'Hare said...

I agree this meeting should have been avoided, even though there was no Sunshine Act violation. To the extent we can have more transparency, White's column is salutory.

But it is increasingly apparent to me that The Morning Call is out to screw Angle before he can do it to himself.

In today's column, White attempts to equate the admitted violation 2 years ago with what is happening now. That's where that "spirit of the law" comes into play.

Angle was named President on Monday. In the four days since, we've had the following:

(1) A Morning Call "news" account that, in its first sentence, points out that Angle has been called a racist, Anti-Semite, liar and bimbo. I have since been informed that this story was originally more neutral, but an editor insisted it be re-written to slam Angle because that's more colorful.

(2) A Bill White column slamming Angle for being named President, but that could be taken as humor.

(3) A mean-spirited Bill White blog that criticizes Angle for moving too fast when he has yet to conduct a single meeting.

(4) Another Bill White column that slams Angle for what White himself acknowledges is not a Sunshine Act violation.

Is an anti-Angle campaign is beginning to emerge from The Morning Call? I hesitate to claim media bias, but it's beginning to appear that this newspaper is making an issue out of Angle before he even starts.

Of all the slams, I'll agree that the Sunshine Act column is probably helpful, but not the way it was written.

Anonymous said...

In the article, 5-4 votes clearly show what again?

Anonymous said...

Private meetings are the new black. Just look at Obama and Reid and Pelosi and the health scam. Democrats shouldn't have a problem with Republicans imitating them. It's the sincerest form of flattery. It's about hope and change we can believe in.

Sarcasm aside, I appreciate your unwavering consistency on this issue.

Fly on the Wall said...

I think ur all wrong! Technically all in attendance in the meeting were elected officers of the county. The Northampton County Administration code states they were in office the 1st Monday after the election, 4th of January, 2010.

Bernie O'Hare said...

And the meeting occurred well before that time.

Anonymous said...

Mr. White, I know you swim in this sewer now and then, good catch. Thank you for being consistent. No matter who has been in office you handle it the same. You are a professional in the media business. Ohare would never have disclosed this meeting he knew of because of his mancrush Angle.
Ohare spits blood with McClure, Deringer and some others. When names of possible County Executive candidates were fielded he viciously attacked good people for his Stoffa.

This was clearly bullshit by Angle, Ferraro and Dowd(the man of God). Shame on these people and a big shame on Ohare.

Ohare, we know you are a lying hypocrite and how you have handled this scandal makes it clear.

The Angle-Stoffa government has many secrets that if left to Ohare will never be told.

There is the "Truth" and then there is what Ohare writes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Had I been aware that there was a private meeting among the Rs, I would have noted it. My impression was that there were some smaller meetings among different groups, but I was unaware that there was one meeting involving all seven Rs.

Anonymous said...

Cheney and Bush LOVED secret meetings....especially with the oil companies...right before the prices went up.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your 1:12 post ... The MC is almost always biased in it's reporting. In this case you choose to see it because you agree(and thus see) this bias against one of your friends.

Example: Back when Morganelli was running for State AG there was a case of alleged (false) statutory rape charges against a coach from Australia. He was tossed in jail and the "facts" that were reported all came from Morganelli's office. Essentially, the reporter wrote what was written in the police report/affidavid and that was about it. BTW right after the election the innocent coach was released and the bogus charges were dropped. The story was dug deep in the local section.

This was never mentioned by you for whatever reason. But that is clear reporting bias. I'm sure the MC didn't want to report the obvious because the DAs office feeds them a fair amount of the local "news" these days.

Beyond that, shouldn't you hold Angle to thesame standards that he has publicly stated should be upheld?

Anonymous said...


there has always been media bias. you are just noticing it NOW?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:52,

You make it sound as though Morganelli had some innocent Australian jailed so he could become AG. That's ridiculous. I vaguely remember the story, including the dismissal. Northing about it would make me more inclined to vote for Morganelli. Any case involving the possible abuse of a child should, for very obvious reasons, be publicized. Your claim of media bias makes no sense to me.

And I am not claiming media bias against Angle. I'm just pointing out that in his first 4 days as president, and before he conducted a single eeting, he was trashed 4 times. Three of these thumpings came from the same columnist. An editor forced a reporter to re-write the story about Angle's presidency to make it more colorful.

I'm not ready to conculde there is an actual bias just yet.

Anonymous said...

No but you are willing to do a crazy Glenn Beck like trirade on a respected columnist. something you can never be is respected.