Tuesday, November 23, 2010

LV Health Board: It's Alive!

Do you know what it's like when you're trying to get a date with some really hot babe? I do. She's exactly my type, but I'm not hers. But rather than just telling me to get lost, she'll usually let me down easy. She'll say she can't go out because she's getting root canal or something. Or she'll have her husband or a cop pay me a visit. After a few restraining orders, I usually get the message. I can take a hint.

Well, RenewLV's Steve Bliss is a lot like me, except the date he's hoping for is with Northampton County Council and a possible resurrection of the all-but-defunct bi-county health bureau. I thought it died on the operating table in July, when six Northampton County Council members (Angle, Cusick, Dowd, Gilbert, McClure, Thierry) and three Lehigh County Commissioners (Browning, Creighton, Eckhart) refused to approve a budget or authorize the establishment of a Board of Health.

But they forgot to cut off its head and drive a wooden stake through its heart.

It's alive!

That's why on November 4, when Northampton County Council adopted its 2011 no-tax-increase budget, an anxious Steve Bliss was there, wondering if he was going to get lucky. At the time, Council member Mike Dowd hinted around about the bi-county health Department., "[W]e indicated that we would at least be prepared to consider - and I'm not asking for a vote at this point - that we would be prepared to consider revisiting that. And so my sense is I do intend to bring that to the table for us as we move into the new year, once we've got a decision as to where Gracedale goes." At the time, Council member John Cusick stated that, "until the Gracedale issue is resolved, I don't think we can even consider that."

Fast forward two weeks, to Council's November 18 meeting. Once again, a hopeful Steve Bliss is in the peanut gallery, patiently listening to Upper Mount Bethel NIMBYs and the usual Gracedale goons claim that they are "We, the people." This time, he got lucky!

Council member Ann McHale started things off, stating they really should give some kind of signal of their direction so that Lehigh County could go it alone, if need be. "Do we have a mandate for them to continue? Are we going to continue to let them waste their time if we're not going to be participating? It's an issue that this body has got to address ... . [I]t's my understanding that Lehigh County will in fact continue to move forward with their own department."

Really? In the face of a 16.1% tax hike? In the middle of a recession? Comm'r Andy Roman, an ardent health board advocate, recently withdrew his support for precisely those reasons.

"It's interesting you had those conversations because they are kinda' opposite the same conversations I had," remarked Rev. Dowd. But he's all for keeping public health "on the table" until we know what is going on with Gracedale.

Council member Tom Dietrich stated that, in his conversations with LC Comm'rs, "[I]t sounds like we're the ones holding them back."

But Ron Angle scoffed at that, claiming LC Comm'rs are just scapegoating NC Council as the "dirty dogs" and "rats" who prevented them from initiating a health department. "That's a fraud, that's not true," barked Angle. "That's a great Percy play. ... I never seen any action on their part or money on the table from them. They're game playing."

When McHale repeated she had been told that LC will pursue it on its own, the Bulldog snarled, "They better pursue taking care of their taxpayers. They're not doing a very good job at that."

But then County Council voted 5-2, with only Angle and Thierry dissenting, to continue discussions leading to the creation of a bi-County health bureau.

So Steve Bliss is in bliss.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Anonymous personal attacks will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Does it make sense to dump Gracedale because it isn't something the County must do, then turn around and support a non-mandated multi-million dollar Health Department?

Very respectful and necessary question.

Anonymous said...

You've done a very good job telling us what happened last night. Can't believe Bliss still thinks that health board will happen. Do you think Lehigh County will go it alone?

Anonymous said...

"Does it make sense to dump Gracedale because it isn't something the County must do, then turn around and support a non-mandated multi-million dollar Health Department"

cogent observation

Anonymous said...

To answer anon who asks, Does it make sense to dump gracedalethen turn around and support a health department? No, none, zero, zippo, notski! No freaking sense at all. That, of course, is why this council won't let it die..because they are out of their freaking mind! They cannot be serious..Can they?????

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, they are not serious, and are misleading Steve Bliss, just like the pretty girl who really does not want to go out. If they are not going to spend $6 MM to fund Gracedale, they are not going to spend $300k to fund a public health bureaucracy.

Ferraro, Dowd & McHale are the only real "supporters," and I question whether McHale and Ferraro really support the concept or just the LV Partnership members pushing this idea.

Anonymous said...

"Well, RenewLV's Steve Bliss is a lot like me".

Bernie...there's no one like you. I think you owe Steve an apology.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, you're right. Sorry, Steve,

Anonymous said...

Since Renew LV has no responsibilities - such an effort in the two counties will not cost their organization anything nor will they have to answer to the public for decisions that are made - why shouldn't they support the concept? They have nothing to lose but a little public relations 'face' if the proposal dies.

While I have no great admiration for certain individuals, I don't envy these Commissioners when faced with these choices in this economy. In prosperous times, this might be a good way to go. Right now, it seems fiscally foolish.

Maybe, instead of a maybe, an honest "No" would be best. At least that way, Mr. Bliss could move on to some other goal.

PippySqueek said...

This thing is like a human on life support with no hope for several reasons- First, Lehigh county is now is the stituation that Northampton was in as it now has no money to spend on extra projects; Second, Lehigh has just done a major tax hike and lay off and to start a new level of government after closing several other levels looks irresponsible; third, even after Gracedale is sold and all the bills are paid, will there even be enough money left to fund this YEARLY. No sense in starting something if down the road you have to do away with it because you no longer can afford it.; and fourth, the issue of fair shair- will the hospitals be willing to kick in any money now or still refuse.

Patrick McHenry said...

Anon 11:42 said:

"...In prosperous times, this might be a good way to go. Right now, it seems fiscally foolish."


This is a very dangerous statement, and is why government is in trouble at so many levels.

If it is fiscally foolish in bad times, it is fiscally foolish in good times as well. We need to understand that government cannot - and should not - do everything.

If this had been passed during good times, we would be stuck with it (and would be trying to pay for it) now. Does anyone really believe that this thing would magically disappear (or contract) when times went bad? To the contrary, we would be hearing about how much more it is needed during difficult economic times.

As a great American once said, "The closest thing to eternal life that we'll ever see is a government program".

We don't need another government program. We can't afford it.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the details, we can't afford not to do a bi-county health department.

Seriously, this is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

300K first year, 500K the next,
550K the next year from each county. Yet the state contributions keep going down and down with no answers from anyone as to what will happen when 0 comes from the state and the whole money responsibility belongs solely to the counties.

Anonymous said...

If this hypocritical County Council dumps Gracedale as a "money pit" and then turns around and "invests" in this hospital welfare "money pit" scheme, we will raise a Holy Army of Gracedale goons and descend on County Council.

This is disgusting. Quite a few people said this was the secret Republican plan as laid out by the Partnership.

So sell off the old folks in Gracedale and spend money on an un-mandated Healthcare system for welfare cheats.

This is a BS plan. Everyone knows the state is broke and the so-called State money everyone brays about will never materialize. By the time this monster gets rolling the County will be spending as much on this as it does on Gracedale.

We call BULLSHIT!!!!

I hope this is one thing Gracedale families and the tea party can agree on.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Lee. This attempt to improve the public health infrastructure has been around for a decade and the only connection to Gracedale is that made by County Council. This is the first time I've heard it called "a secret Republican plan". That's a laugh.

If Gracedale is sold, residents will still get care, so making the argument that we're trading services for our seniors for public health is not valid.

They are two separate issues. Let's keep them separate.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me but what is this new bureau supposed to accomplish? Sounds like some healthcare manager types looking for a cushy job when they retire. And who is, Steve Brill, where did he come from and most of all who is Mr. Moneybags behind the curtain?

Anonymous said...

Nice try 9:26. Can the patronizing tone. Your kind of elitism is one reason you tripped on our way to a health Department. Gracedale has been and is a valuable public option. It has and does provide a safety net for the needy elderly ill of Northampton county. The "only" wiggle room for the County to sell it is it is not a mandated service. Of course neither is land preservation but at least there was a referendum on that topic. The County currently spends millions in non-mandated services in Human Services alone and still will after the sale of Gracedale. Most employee salaries are beyond the state reimbursement rate and the County pumps more than mandated money into mental health and children's services,etc.. If that is what they want to do fine but it does take a jab at the Gracedale argument of "let's not spend money not mandated".

As to a Health Department, it is no secret the Lehigh Valley Partnership, a partner in creating Renew LV as well as the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., is a collection of Republican businessmen who help the Party decide what is "right" for the common folk. Since the Hospitals are tired of wasting time and money on written off debt with the poor in the ER's, they need a cluster of these free clinics to take care of the great unwashed masses.

So in the end the County gets to do what the Hospitals don't want to do. Hell, why not bring back "County Hospitals", like in the 30-40's. The arguments used to dump Gracedale are very appropriate to staying away from this white elephant in waiting.

I recommend the creation of a Regional Health Department be put on the ballot. This was suggested a few years back but that is not what the PH advocates want to do. They opted to ram it through the local elected officials with arm twisting and promises of no cost ways to stop everything from breast cancer to childhood obesity. Put it on the ballot and let the people decide if they want to create another multi-,million dollar bureaucracy.

Who could object to that, you anon 9:26?


Anonymous said...

A County Health Department is NOT REQUIRED by law just as a County run nursing home is not required by law. I find it utterly amazing that this Council and Administration would EVEN consider participating in a new NON REQUIRED governmental agency funded by MY TAX dollars.

My wish is that the truly smart people of this County stop this madness by stepping up and running for Council. This current joke of a government is simply out of control. I for one would be supportive of taking the County Flag and turning it upside down and flying it outside the courthouse until all Council Members and the Executive are voted out!

Anonymous said...

So far away - from reality, that is.

Look at the literate driving Renew Lehigh Valley. So many foreigners behind the curtain.

And why! Is it about doing the right thing or about building the dependent minions who make up the voting roles?

If our deceased founding fathers can see what their current charges are doing, I am sure the inside of their coffin lids are almost scratched through.

Be gone you resume builders. Be gone.

Many of the locals secretly nudge each other when they see the alien movers and shakers flexing their muscle (writing a check) for we know they will soon fall and be replaced by another dreaming fool.

Anonymous said...

You are all wet on unemployment. Come on - 99 weeks??? And you want it extended? Why not just make it unemployment for as long as you want? Why was 13 weeks good enough a few years ago and now 99 weeks is not enough? I am in construction and I see all the fraud and abuse that goes on.