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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Barron Threatens Government Retaliation Against Nonunion T-Mobile


If you're an elected official, the last thing you should do is shake down some local business. And if you're gonna' do it anyway, you should at least be sneaky about it, like Vince Fumo. Northampton County Controller Steve Barron and Allentown City Council Prez Michael D'Amore have been caught on tape, giving T-Mobile the strong arm. They're actually proud of it. You can see the video above.

CWA, a union, is trying to organize at T-Mobile's Allentown Call Center. A few weeks ago, on August 10 (a Tuesday), organizers tried to enter the building and meet with a VP who was conducting a "town hall" with employees. They had no appointment.

Northampton County Controller Steve Barron and Allentown City Council Prez Michael D'Amore decided to inject themselves in this affair. Now D'Amore is only a part-time City Council member. He strongly believes in unions. I have no problem with his pro-union activity, so long as he makes no attempt to play on his official position as President of Allentown City Council.

Barron's another story. He claims to be a full-time Controller. On a Tuesday, instead of traipsing around in Allentown, he could have been auditing some office somewhere. He's also involving himself in policy matters, something he's been warned about in the past. Still, he's entitled to show his pro-union ardor, as long as he makes no attempt to act officially.

I suppose it's a good way to get campaign contributions.

This is where things get weird. Both of them play on their official titles in an attempt to get their foot in the door. D'Amore points to his City ID, and Barron mentions several times that he's the Controller, damn it!

Elected officials or not, T-Mobile's Group VP had no interest in listening to them sing, "Look for the union label." For one thing, he was there to talk to employees, not them. For another, they had no appointment. If I dropped in on D'Amore uninvited, I'm pretty sure I'd get the bum's rush, too.

This is where Barron really blows it. Instead of just walking away after having made his point, Barron actually threatens retaliation. Not by the union. That's normal. No, he claims it will come from the government itself. Here are his exact words.

"Please remind him [T-Mobile VP Brueckman] that if he needs anything from Northampton or Lehigh County, we're going to remember this day and we'll make sure that it will be part of the negotiations."

Can you say Hobbs Act extortion?

Barron threatens government retaliation so he can wrongfully obtain preferential treatment for CWA. It makes no difference whether Barron himself benefits personally. He is clearly attempting to benefit a third party. If T-Mobile submits a bid for cell phone service to either County, Barron is hinting it will be rejected unless it plays ball with CWA.

Barron's ignorant remark has also exposed both Counties to liability. They are both open to a lawsuit claiming retaliation if they ever refuse to do business with T-Mobile, no matter how legitimate the reason.

Thanks, Steve. At the very least, he should resign.

I have no problem with unions, but I do have a problem with elected officials use their office to bully a business into union negotiations.

This story, along with several incriminating videos, first appeared in DailyKos and Lowering the Bar, On these blogs, Barron is actually complimented for his threat of government retaliation. I guess it's OK to rig bids if you do it to penalize businesses that have no unions.

Locally, LVCI and Molovinsky both picked up on this yesterday. They are far less charitable, and I tend to agree with them.

Once their blogs published, and throughout the day, some of these videos began to go "poof." So I downloaded a video myself, made a few annotations of my own so I can claim it is an original, and uploaded it to YouTube myself. If the union has a problem with this, tough. Let 'em sue.

People have a right to know when their public servants abuse their office.

For Barron, this is the second time. A few weeks ago, he was pandering union votes at a County Council meeting concerning Gracedale, using bogus figures. "I'd rather stand with the people behind me than the person in front of me," he told Angle, to thunderous applause from AFSCME. He had previously told me he'd stay out of that controversy because, in his own words, he'd "just be pandering."

I guess the temptation was just too much for him.

Barron may be standing in front of Angle again this Thursday. The Bulldog is considering asking Council to censor him.

Updated 1:00 AM, This Can't Be Good. - The Morning Call's Jarrett Renshaw has picked up on this story.
Updated 10:40 AM: Council Will Be Asked to Censure Barron. - I have emailed Barron to notify him of my intention to request that Northampton County Council censure him. I will also request they adopt a resolution to notify T-Mobile that Controller Steve Barron's had no authority from the County for his August 10 threat.
Updated 1:00 PM: In a second public video (you can see it here), Controller Barron tells T-Mobile VP Brueckner, "I'd also like you to think about why you didn't meet with one of the local elected officials here in the Lehigh Valley, and how that can benefit your company. And when you do that, I'd like you to give me a call - my numer is [redacted] - and discuss it with you."

73 comments:

Anonymous said...

BARRON has proven the controller position is even less than a part itme position. Any one at the court house knows he is hardley ever at work..mostly out of the office,at home,with hs kids,or double dipping teaching somewhere. He is a huge public embarrassment and a drain on taxpayers. He has the judgement of a 12 year old. Did he take vacation for this escapade or was he on a 15 minute break ? Who signs his tme sheet ? a ghost ? what a shame....

Bernie O'Hare said...

I supported and defended this guy. But this extortion is a disgrace. They BOTH used their offices to bully a union, but Barron actually threatened the company. Amazing. This is nothing short of thuggery.

I have emailed Barron, asking him to resign.

Anonymous said...

What the Hell is Barron's game? How can he speak for both countries. i mean, he is a part-time controller in Northampton County. Has this limited power small staff office gone to his head.

He sounds like old corrupt deal maker Mike Solomon trying to cut a deal for services.

He should be careful, I believe he could get himself in hot water over that nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Ummm. that TMobile facility is in HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LEHIGH COUNTY!! Do these guys really think that that "dropping" their Allentown and Northampton County positions will get them anywhere. No your geography people before you open your mouth!!

Wayne said...

Bernie said,

"On these blogs, Barron is actually complimented for his threat of government retaliation. I guess it's OK to rig bids if you do it to penalize businesses that have no unions."
_________________________________
Unfortunately that is the mindset. "success by any means, the end justifies the means". It's everywhere...

Anonymous said...

Can I ask the question? What did they hope to accomplish if they were allowed access? Did they intend to interrupt the discussion between management and employees of a private company? Quite frankly, after being threatened, the company should have let them in and videotaped what happened next.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a large disgrace. Barron's should be fired immediately. It should happen before his voice changes.

Anonymous said...

"Any one at the court house knows he is hardley ever at work..mostly out of the office,at home,with hs kids,or double dipping teaching somewhere."

How would anyone at the Courthouse know if he was in the office or out? His office is not in the Courthouse, it is in one of th buildings near the courthouse.

Compared to the last controller, Barron is full time.

Barron should have used better judgment before becoming a union enforcer. The Controller should be non-political.

Anonymous said...

This is just another reason why people don't want to pay any more in county,or any other taxes. Maybe most can afford a few dollars a week more, but who the hell would want to spend a penny more funding assholes like this? We don't get what we pay for now.

And if you think Barron the only one, or that it is only one party's M-O, you are sadly mistaken.

Anonymous said...

And, once again, the paper jumps on the blogger bandwagon, day late and dollar short.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Compared to the last controller, Barron is full time"

I saw more of Shimmel when he was Controller, and his office was a mile away.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please call Corbett this morning and request an immediate investigation.

Anonymous said...

Barron Resign Today!

Anonymous said...

Ao many people looking for work and these two thugs who both have how many jobs each have the xkckc of a nerve to threaten a new employer.

Anonymous said...

Who does sign Barron's pay sheet.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Barron is an independently elected official, and the Exec has no control over his salary. Unless he resigns or isconvicted of criminalactivity, the only way to get rid of him is at the polls.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Barron Resign Today!"

I have sent him an email asking him to do that.

Anonymous said...

Union or No Union, why would he threaten a corporation, who in these tough enconomic times, can simply take those 500+ jobs and move them out of the Lehigh Valley to where they might be better appreciated?!?!

Does Northampton County want 500+ people waiting on the unemployment lines?!?! I don't get it!

Anonymous said...

"Unless he resigns or isconvicted of criminalactivity"

Do you know what statutes, if any, might apply here?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Do you know what statutes, if any, might apply here?"

Yes. This is extortion, and is covered by the Hobbs Act. It makes nodifference whether Barron personally benefits. You don't threaten some business, under colkor of office, that bad things will happen unless they talk to unions.

I happen top believe in unions. I have no problems with CWA attemptong to organize at T-Mobile. I do have a problem when public officials throw their weight around on behalf of a union. And In am really bothered when they engage in threatening behavior.

Anonymous said...

i mean, you really really have to stretch to read his statement as "Extortion". you can "remember" the incident in any number of ways that don't qualify as illegal.

but it was, nonetheless, stupid.

Anonymous said...

So because you say he did something illegal (arguable at best) he should resign.


And the angle will matter?

The air is thick with irony.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It was definitely stupid and is arguably a violation of the Hobss Act. Barron is a public official. He is using the color of his office to suggest official retaliation unless T-Mobile agrees to deal with the union. These tyypes of threats are often very vague.

Anonymous said...

That video was hilarious! Classy Steve Barron with his shirt tails out (respect me- I'M THE CONTROLLER DAMIT!)leading his posse on a failed mission. Even threatening action against T-Mobile in Lehigh County. Is he their controller as well? This is an embarrassment to the NorCo Controllers office which must remain neutral and non-political to have any credibility. With his showboating at the last Council meeting and this sordid incident Council should censor Barron tomorrow night.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So because you say he did something illegal (arguable at best) he should resign."

Yes, he should. If he wants to be a union agent, he can apply for a job with them. He is abusing his office by throwing his official title around and dictating terms to a private business on behalf of a union.

Anonymous said...

"He is abusing his office by throwing his official title around"

agreed

Anonymous said...

In my option:
1. Morganelli will do nothing.
2. O'Hare will do nothing.
3. Angle will do nothing.
4. Stoffa will do nothing.
5. This footage will be aired at every union meeting for fund raising for Steve's reelection next year.

So the winner? Steve. Go home and cry BO.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1) I doubt Morganelli will investigate. This occurred in Lehigh County, for one thing. And DAs do not historically pursue Hobbs Act violations. This would be too minor an infraction for the feds. De minimis. Not enough to warrant criminal charges, but more than enough to warrant a request that he resign.

2-3) Wait and see.

4) Stoffa should not have to involve himself in this matter.

5) Playing that video duiring Barron's re-leclection campaign is a great way to ensure his defeat. Even pro-union people are offended when an official abuses his office and engages in threatening behavior.

Anonymous said...

Using that high pitch voice and whiny lisp to portray union thuggishness is one of the funniest things I've seen. Bernie, your pop-ups were perfect.

It is brazen extortion. And where did he get that idea?

From Barack Obama, his savior-in-chief.

And this blog endorsed these bums in November 2008.

While you may be disappointed, many of us expected this.

larry said...

D'Amore gets to go through the Renshaw grinder, too funny.

D'Amore used Renshaw as his war club for too long.

Anonymous said...

If they want this call center to close and move, unionize it.

Anonymous said...

Barron appears amusing. I almost think this was tongue in cheek. Somewhat like a Monty Python sketch watching them walking up to the guard. I mean how can you watch that video and take it seriously. He looks like an overweight homeless dude complaining about portions at a soup kitchen.

I believe his political guru, the Fleckster, probably put him up to it to raise his profile with the unions. Just like the Gracedale stunt. He wants to be a lifetime elected official and he sees this as the way to cement union support.

What I don't get is these guys and their antics usually do more harm than good for unions.

Hell, I just found out he never did an audit of Gracedale like the union guys were telling me. So all he was doing in front of the Gracerdale union was blowing smoke. I think he may have slipped a cog or two.

Without Joe Long in power these little Longbots have no brain.

Anonymous said...

Unions were good when employees were mistreated.

They have ruined the American economy. Remember the air traffic controllers - thank you President Reagan!

Anonymous said...

"I have sent him an email asking him to do that."

Did you send the same email to Angle for taking illegal calls on the sale of Gracedale.

It is clear you jumped on this story because Barron made Angle look foolish at the council meeting.

This is retaliation at its finest. This is Bernie going after Barron for Angle. And it is clear as day. Shame is you fools don't see it!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It is clear you jumped on this story because Barron made Angle look foolish at the council meeting."

Barron did the same thing at the council meeting as he did here, minus the threats. He's not so good at that face-to-face.

What he did is use his official title to pander to the unions.

Larry Kisslinger said...

Hey, I think we have a "tie" going on here for the least effective public servant (sic) & most inept in the area in last few decades! Joe Long, Lumpy Sanders, Charlie Dertinger, now Steve Barron & some others, too many to mention here. What are these people thinking? Who are they really serving beside themselves? BTW, in recent comment at this blog, I'm no relation to Henry...my name is KissLinger.

Mystery said...

Both Barron and D'Amore should be punished/resign for this (what I'm assuming was an) unlawful act.

The way in which this is handled will help set the tone for our local government over the next couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Why did you redact the number? He was acting as an official representative of the people, even if he shouldn't have been.

Flood the switchboard, demand his resignation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I considered, but decided against publishing his phone number. He was stupid enough to put it out there, but I can't participate.

Anonymous said...

Went to the website (in barron's movie) "lower the bar" site, since since raising the bar for people is bad? I found another movie where that DuhMore boob had to read the t-mobile sign to figure where he was at.

No wonder why Allentown is so screwed, they elect fools like this. Go get more solar panel money for your ivory tower, while you watch your citizens die from the violence. Fool.

Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't Barron lose his job unless he got permission to take
time off from work to go to T Mobile.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

And, once again, the paper jumps on the blogger bandwagon, day late and dollar short.

7:56 AM

The Internet and roving bloggers will be the prime source for news.

Anonymous said...

Because he doesn't have a "job" with a supervisor who can just fire him... he has an elected office - he has to be voted out of it unless he resigns or is convicted of a crime.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha, if politicians were required to show up for work, McClure would be fired by now.

Anonymous said...

"Both Barron and D'Amore should be punished/resign for this (what I'm assuming was an) unlawful act"

there's no unlawful act, despite what Bern states. that should not, however, obviate the almost comicly moronic actions of the Barron/D'Amore version of "dumb and dumber"

Anonymous said...

Don't hide the number Bernie. It's a well known number, seen on most men's room walls.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with above. It's well known. He's clearly looking for a date.

Anonymous said...

Bernie....a few times you stated you have no problem with Unions and yet with Gracedale AFSCME all you have seemed to do is degrade them during the Gracedale/County issue...so which is it? Are you for or against Unions?

Anonymous said...

Way to go Bernie, A good piece of researched reporting on this very stupid debacle. This is when pride, ego and special interest get in the way of common sense. Thanks....PJF

Bernie O'Hare said...

I support unions. When my grandfather was forced to work as a boy and a coal car ran over has fingers and cut them off, he had no union he could go to or child labor laws to enforce. I understand why unions are necessary.

But I get angry when elected officials trade on their official status to bully a company into dealing with a union. I'd be just as upset if they were instead bullying th union.

And I get furious when someboby threatens official retaliation, by the government, just for not meeting with a union.

As for AFSCME, its history in NC has been a disgrace. It has done nothing for the workers except take their money. It has also enslaved the private sector.

Anonymous said...

If Barron is a Northampton County elected fellow, and this occured in Lehigh County... what really could Barron do to TMobile. This is so silly that it hurts when I laugh. A Northampton County guy throwing his so called weight in Lehigh County and an Allentown guy doing the same in Hanover Township. I would have said to them... Be gone, you have no powers here. Return to your lairs and spill your spew and threats there!!

Anonymous said...

First, the he dumps granny at Gracedale and bitches when others get tired of paying for her expensive care. Then, he begins an extortion campaign while he should have been at work. This guy is the lowest of the low. I'll bet a dollar for every doughnut he eats that he's Dent's next victim in '12.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't expect him to last that long.

Dave said...

Highly irregular behavior from a public servant. As a conservative Dem who is a past and present union member..this is just wrong on many levels. The union doesn't need this kind of help. The working conditions and wages and benefits are what a union strives to improve and maintain for their membership and possibly new members. Stick to the issues and walk away from pandering pol's.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Way to go Bernie, A good piece of researched reporting on this very stupid debacle."

I'd like to take credit for it, but this story was first broken by LVCI, an anonymous blogger.

Dave said...

Bernie..was the county pension formula brought up during the Gracedale negotiations? As a state of NJ retiree the system over there prevents stuffing your pension thru overtime accumulation. NJ uses a three year base pay average to determine your payment. I would think that a similar change in the pension formula would solve a few problems at once. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Lately you've been really upsetting. Not a morning goes by we aren't upset with some awfully disgusting government official conduct. It's upsetting.
Now, here's a nice little post that showcases mother/son love. Why can't you find stories like this?
"A mother and son were charged with fighting with Allentown police who were investigating a shots fired call at their home, authorities said." Morning Call

Bernie O'Hare said...

Warms the heart.

Lighthouse said...

Barron proudly gives his 484 phone number on one of the LCVI videos. Since he is presenting himself as a government official, I would assume that phone is paid for with public tax dollars.

So who audits the Controller?

"Our purpose is to audit County departments and entities receiving County funds in accordance with the Home Rule Charter and to make recommendations to County management that will improve the economy and efficiency of County operations, ensure compliance with laws and regulations, and strengthen internal controls safeguarding County assets."

eckville press said...

Ecks belly hurts really bad!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm pretty sue that cell is Barron's personal cell phone, and paid for out of his campaign treasury.

Anonymous said...

"throwing their weight around", I almost bust a gut. Watching Barron and D'Amore waddle up to that poor guard, I thought it was a weight watchers commercial.

Christ that is funny stuff. Even a die hard union guy has to split a gut on that one.

The Long Dem's are the gift that just keeps giving.

Thanks for the laughs guys and oh by the way here is my number, give me a call sometime big boy!

Anonymous said...

"He is abusing his office by throwing his official title around and dictating terms to a private business on behalf of a union."

And Angle is abusing his office by fielding phone calls on the sale of Gracedale....He is after all the council prez!!!! There is no difference here. Bernie will never admit it, but there is no difference at all.

Anonymous said...

"minus the threats"


Yes I remember, it was Angle making the threats at that meeting....I think it was something like "you're done!!!!" Now that is a threat.

Anonymous said...

"As for AFSCME, its history in NC has been a disgrace. It has done nothing for the workers except take their money. It has also enslaved the private sector."


Remember Bernie, your suck buddy Angle is quoted as saying that an AFSCME contract somewhat recently signed was "the best he has ever seen" Get your facts straight for once. I realize you have limited time at Panera to do your research, but for gods sake stop trolling for soup and state the facts.

Anonymous said...

"Not a morning goes by we aren't upset with some awfully disgusting government official conduct."

He fails to acknowledge certain govt. official conduct when it does not favor him or his cronies!!

Anonymous said...

How can anyone, pro-union or con-union, defend the outrageous behavior of Mr. Barron. His actions demean his office, they demean Northampton County and they really demean decent union folk.

The Central Scrutinizer said...

I'm generally pro-union but this guy is a jackass. That last video takes the cake.

He absolutely should resign. Who the hell is he to use his position to harass local business? If he's so interested in labor organization, perhaps he should get a job in that field.

Anonymous said...

Unions were good when employees were mistreated.

They have ruined the American economy. Remember the air traffic controllers - thank you President Reagan!


You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about, do you?

Anonymous said...

Why did you redact the number? He was acting as an official representative of the people, even if he shouldn't have been.

Where does the number go at the end of the video?

Anonymous said...

Barron reminds me of an Ant floating down the river on a leaf saying " Open up the drawbridge I am coming through"

a small man with a crazy attitude

Anonymous said...

That background music is FUNKY! (smile)

Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

What is the use of the truth if you can't tell a lie sometimes.Pawlumpski's camp are all crooks and low life's .