Thursday, September 08, 2011

Barron Plays Politics With Asbestos

Back in 2007, I posted "Diary of a Sick Worker at the Northampton County Dustbowl." The problems started when construction on the Courthouse began under the helm of then Executive Glenn Reibman. Before he left, renovations began in the Recorder of Deeds, Register of Wills, Civil Division and District Attorney's office. People became seriously ill from mold, dust and Fiberglas particles. One employee in the Register of Wills office, who couldn't stop breaking out in rashes, was forced to quit.

Although some precautionary measures were taken, the problem returned when John Stoffa took over as Exec and renovations extended into other row offices. Some people caught pneumonia, while others experienced itching, coughing and watery eyes.

As a result of complaints, the state DEP was called. Investigator Don Koehler inspected the Courthouse, and found no evidence of any asbestos violations. Director of Public Works Steve DeSalva told me safety is his primary concern, and asked anyone to call him if something seems wrong.

Bill Hillanbrand, then a Stoffa cabinet member (he's now in Emergency Management), wrote this: "It's 2:50 a.m., and I am awake. I am concerned that an employee feels that the administration does not care about their employees. I am also a county worker. ... If any county worker wishes to contact me, stop me in the hallway of the courthouse; phone me 610-559-3091; or email me at whillanb@northamptoncounty.org or come to my office. My office is located in the basement with Orphan's Court. I am not a miracle worker, but I will do the best I can to help. Thanks, Bill"

When a Stoffa administrator reaches out like this, it's pretty obvious that he cares. When someone like DeSalva puts in the hours he puts in, doing the work of three engineers, it's clear he's doing his best.

Our County Controller, Barron von Footinmouth, cares, too. But it's not about employee welfare. It's about his re-election. Last Septemer, Barron was awarded an ET Turkey for a "thinly veiled threat on behalf of union organizers" at T-Mobile, and a subsequent "non-apology" in which he refused to admit "he misused his authority by hinting at official retribution against an employer." He was also censured by County Council.

Barron's next little trick was to complain to the DEP about possible asbestos contamination, some of it from as long as 14 years ago. They've investigated again, and this time, they might have found something. There might be fines, which we will have to pay. Thanks, Steve.

Barron tells the Express Times he went public because the Stoffa administration "left me no choice." In other words, an administration that loses sleep over safety complaints, would callously disregard concerns about asbestos.

I smell a bit fat bullshit burger.

When you come right down to it, I know of NO business or government with aging buildings that could avoid an asbestos contamination claim. Years ago, that was what was used.

Barron's real motives became clear in an email that Dem Party Boss Walt Garvin sent to Committee members yesterday, encouraging them to vote in an Express Times poll on whether Barron handled this situation properly.

He didn't, but Dem Committee members will help their "independent" boy.

As one of my readers noted, "the County is left paying for [Barron's] childish antics. He is going to cost the County big bucks on something that was already being handled. I hope the voters send him a message and give him his walking papers. He can't even do his job, yet he cries to the EPA, because he has a beef with Stoffa. Who can we cry to when we have a beef with Barron for not doing what he was elected to do? This guy needs a strong dose of reality."

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understaqnd the right of Barron as a citizen to ask the DEP to come in. I guess I don't know how it ties in as an official Controller function.

I must admit, I am in a quandry on this one.
He is either a concerned citizen who may be confused on the dutues of his office but wants to do the right thing.
Or he is a shamless slimeball politican playing on all the Gracdale issues to suck up some votes.

Who knows?

Anonymous said...

I know, Barron is a fraud in search of a job.

Anonymous said...

well....isn't the health of the public paramount? if there is asbestos contamination, shouldn't we be concerned?

i mean, yeah, barron's a tool, but still, in this instance, i'm having a hard time faulting his actions.

Anonymous said...

The Administration approved the cleaning out of this asbestos while the employees and public sat there. I was in the basement at the time and saw it happen. Only they wouldn't call it asbestos.

The least they could have done was move us out of the area for a while.

Anonymous said...

If the handful of Barron detractors are split among themselves on this asbestos matter, you must be getting pretty lonely out there, Bernie, with the dead stallion and your whip in hand.

Anonymous said...

Barron blew the whistle on a dangerous practice. What can possibly be wrong with that?

If there is no dangerous asbestos. then he will pay the price. If there is, it means that there are a lot of incompetent or ineffectual people working for the county.

Whistleblowers are, by definition, insiders. They are the ones who cannot stand idly by when something has gone wrong.

Bernie, you and your minions are going to have to dig even deeper into your bag of vitriol and hate to tarnish him on this one.

The county knew there was asbestos. They ignored it. Barron pointed it out. No-one listened. He then contacted someone who could do something about it. He wasn't playing politics. He was trying to undermine those who were.

I know the facts don't agree with your agendum, and therefore mean nothing in this instance, but you're going to need a whole heap of wool for the voters eyes on this one.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Barron von Footinmouth did nothing but draw attention to himself. He also made sure that Garvin and his boys politicized it even more. You would have me believe that the people in Stoffa's administration have no regard for human safety, while Mr. Buttcrack is the only thing protecting the people who work there. That's crock, pure and simple. Barron cares about nothing but himself and his own re-election, and will do anything and step on anyone to ensure that happens.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knew there was asbestos and where it was. There are asbestos materials in ANY building older than 30 years. It is in floor tiles which are completely safe unless they become torn and friable. It is in pipe wrap, ceiling tiles, etc. Again, not hazardous unless disturbed. However, as a precautionary step the county began to systematically inspect all county buildings for ACM's last year and began to remove the materials based on priority. This was all done before the opportunistic Barron stuck his nose in it. The Stoffa administration was quietly addressing a problem left by previous administrations and getting the job done. Barron was simply looking for a way to capitalize on a controversy. He should do his job as Controller for a change.

Anonymous said...

The largest concentration of asbestos in county government is between Barron von Footinmouth's ears. Should be removed immediately along with any gray matter present.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sadly, there is no gray matter between those ears.

Anonymous said...

Challenge him to a duel!!

Anonymous said...

A back-crack duel!

Anonymous said...

Thank you anon 9:29 or asst Dir of Admin for Stoffa. At least you did something today to earn your county paycheck. Old Stoffa cronies never die, they just get county jobs.

Anonymous said...

So which is it, Bernie, there's no asbestos, like your cronies on the editorila board at the Express-Times say, or there is asbestos but it isn't any harm to anyone 'unless disturbed' as your poster says?

You obviously have disregarded the third option, that there is asbestos and it isn't something to mess with because if disturbed, i.e. present in a building where people live, work, etc, it can kill and cause various types of cancer.

Better yet, don't bother answering but keep on honing in on Barron's alleged butt crack slip. It is, after all, more important than any dangers posed by asbestos.

Now I really must go. The unthinkable seems to be happening. There seems to be a crack in a tile. No, wait a minute! It's just Bernie on the floor trying to retrieve a nickel.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, you miss the point. The primary concern here should be employee safety, and in the case of Gracedale, resident safety. That has been what has guided members of Stoffa's administration. They would never intentionally put another person in harm's way. Rather than work with people who care, Barron blew the whistle, hoping he'd get good press. And he got assholes like you and Wally Garvin to play it up for political purposes. And it looks like he's doing everything he can to help McClure's asbestos practice.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa and gang don't give a shit about the employee's. The Press is in the bag for the guy so nothing negative is reported. Barron told the Stoffa gang and they did nothing. I am sure Stoffa gave his standard answer, "We need to think about that".

Stoffa is a complete flop and your story of the yahoo staying up at night worrying about staff is nothing short of bizzare.

The only thing Stoffa cares about is his paycheck and his publicity. He is the worst County Executive in county history. A mean spirited and untrustworthy old hack.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, actually you miss the point. But to help you, I'll spell it out. Malignant mesothelioma. Asbestosis. Tons of trial lawyers descending on norco. An administration that said nothing. Too many people in the pocket of the county executive, including you.

Most disgracefully because they are supposed to be who we rely upon for truth and honesty, the partisan editorial board of the Express-Times should be to the last man and woman sacked at the first confirmed cancer diagnosis or death.

Let's hope this never happens. But let's get it out into the open and let the real experts speak.

Anonymous said...

It would figure Stoffa and his hacks like O'Hare will balme this on Reibman and others. The guy has been in office for six years and still does not accept responisbility for anyhting.

Anonymous said...

Good point. Six years is too long to blame the last guy. Stoffa should have handled Gracedale better. His financial management record includes belt tightening followed by ridiculous plans for bonds and breathtakingly expensive parking spaces back to raising taxes, which is what all lifer bureaucrat/politicians ultimately, always do. He's a lifer with a very spotty record. And he's apparently the best we can do.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare has a hardon for all things Stoffa. He praises this DeSalva Public Works director. He claims he does the work of three engineers. Given the 150% cost overruns on the parking deck, I would settle for the work of one competent engineer.

Another in the long list of incompetent Stoffa ahcks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Steve Barron comes from the City of Bethlehem, so what you are saying is they hire incompetent engineers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The asbestos problem has been there since the building first went up. Stoffa is the first exec to actually try to remediate some of it.

Anonymous said...

That is absolute and complete bullshit o'Hare and you know it. Stoffa ahs done no more and actually less in real terms.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, actually you miss the point. But to help you, I'll spell it out. Malignant mesothelioma. Asbestosis. Tons of trial lawyers descending on norco. An administration that said nothing. Too many people in the pocket of the county executive, including you."

Oh, I got the point. Barron and Walt Garvin will use this to spread another lie about an uncaring and distant admin, with the unions backing them all the way. Here you actually imply corruption against a man with more integrity than in all of Council combined.

This kind of mean-spirited campaigning has Lamont McClure written all over it. But Lamont, your tactics tend to backfire, so go ahead and call Stoffa corrupt or claim people are in his pocket and see how far you get.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, he is the first Exec who actually did something about asbestos. In the early days, we did not know there was even a problem. That became more clear under Reibman, but he did not address it systematically like Stoffa. I know, the truth can be awful inconvenient.

Anonymous said...

Most voters hate unions. With 9% Obama unemployment, and after those douche bags spent a billion dollars on the guy who put so many out of work, unions are more hated with each passing day. Gracedale was about old people and emotion. The only emotion held for unions is steaming hatred. There's a reason their numbers are shrinking every day. There's a reason they only thrive where they're on the gummint tit. Unions have become as evil as the creepy fake reverend who can barely mumble in shitty English. He's a perfect f-tard spokesman for the booger eating mouth breathers who think he's purty smart.

Anonymous said...

Barrons re-election will be so hard for Bernie and the wingnuts to take.

Oh well, suck on it anyway!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Whether Barron wins has nothing to do with his use of a serious matter to play politics.

Anonymous said...

I never called Stoffa or anyone else corrupt. Ineffectual and incompetent are the key words here.

I know who Barron is. I have heard of McClure, but wouldn't recognise him if he walked past me on the street. I have no idea who Garvin is whatsoever.

Why can't we post on this site without being lumped into some conspiracy of your making?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sure.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Steve Barron
God Damn Ron Angle