Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who Can Replace John Conklin in Northampton County?

Conklin & Stoffa
The Express Times broke the story that Northampton County's Director of Admin., John Conklin, is leaving for a homeland security job in the private sector, effective October 31. The Morning Call has told you that two people are in the running to replace John Stoffa's right hand man. I'll tell you who they are, but before I do that, I want to say a thing or two about Conklin.

He's originally from the Johnstown area, but became known in this area when he worked in Lehigh County's emergency management. He left Lehigh County for Florida in 2003, but continued working in emergency management until he got the call from Stoffa.

Unlike most Directors of Administration, he's completely apolitical. He just did his job, and did it well. His weakness was his unwillingness to play the political game with an erratic Council, but that was also his strength. He played no games. He just executed flawlessly.

First, he applied his managerial skills to rescue an election office that was out of control. Second, he took the lead in establishing many of the innovations in Northampton County's emergency management, from reverse 911 to coordinating with other groups in Lehigh County. He could also be counted on to execute plans flawlessly.

Over the years, I became friendly with John and will miss him. Whoever is getting him is very lucky.

Now who's under consideration as Conklin's replacement? One of them is Bob Mateff, the current Director of Emergency Management. His office is among the most efficient and successful in Northampton County. It's hard to decipher where Conklin's expertise ends and Mateff's begins, but there's no question that Mateff has played a big role. From chemical spills on Route 33 to a swine flu scare to the recent handling of Hurricane Irene, Mateff has been there.

But like Conklin, Mateff is also apolitical. He may be an expert at dealing with tornadoes and hurricanes, but those are nothing compared to the snakepit known as Northampton County Council. Many people have gone into their star chamber, never to return.

The second contender is right at home in the political world. Alicia Karner, the County's Economic Development Analyst, knows how to deal with the politicos. After all, she was State Senator Lisa Boscola's District Chief of Staff. Karner serves as the Administration's eyes on the gaming authority, general purpose authority, industrial development authority and a host of other projects. She is the person who recently made an excellent presentation concerning the proposed Rte 33 TIF in Palmer Township. That will probably pass unanimously, thanks in large part to her fine work.

She even persuaded me!

Another difference between Karner and Mateff s that when you call her, she gets back to you. That's not a strong suit with Mateff. Sooner or later, that will get him in trouble with the politicos.

I believe Karner would look better to the administration that follows Stoffa, too.

Either one of these people would be an excellent choice. I would prefer Karner, but the County Executive makes his own decisions.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

I heard he offered the job to Ann Mc Hale ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Me, too!

Anonymous said...

I think Stoffa should discuss this with Sal Panto who will more than likely be our next County Executive.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they can even hash out the parking issues at the courthouse while they are at it.

Anonymous said...

I would guess that young italian man will be director of admin if Panto were county executive. They are like connected at the hip. Maybe its his son. I doubt any new executive will keep stoffa staff.

Anonymous said...

Is Stoffa going to give either one some goofy letter, letting them get their old protected jobs back if the next Administration doesn't keep them on?

Also, I agree that a Stoffa appointment for such a high profile position will not be kept by the next executive. A new executive will pick their own team, especially the Director of Administration. This isn't career service. A Stoffa appointee is a Stoffa leak and their isn't a person in the hunt that will keep that person. Stoffa pulled the same thing and no one said a word, he dumped a few super qualified people because they were appointed by Reibman. So, that is just the way things go. Also I beleive Mataff has the better personality for the job. Karner is way to confrontational for such a position.

Anonymous said...

These candidates are too talented for this administration. Stoffa's lack of communication and inability to make a decision renders the best of them ineffective. May they both look away when they see Stoffa coming.

Anonymous said...

Alicia and Bob are strong candidates. What will be interesting is if they are able to stay if Stoffa is voted out or decides not to run for another term (not sure if he is limited).

Anonymous said...

"Karner is way to confrontational for such a position"

yeah, no one who was confrontational ever held that position...

Anonymous said...

Stoffa select Ann McHale.....RON ANGLE would NEVER allow that. She would break up the shenanigans of the terrible trio that has been going on. Lets see how long you will keep this posted!

Anonymous said...

I think its about that time to discuss who is likely run for executive. Sal Panto? John Callahan? Rich Grucela? Mike Dowd?

Anonymous said...

Didn't that guy work under Reibman? Stoffa better do more than sift through 49 pages of Google this time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I think its about that time to discuss who is likely run for executive. Sal Panto? John Callahan? Rich Grucela? Mike Dowd?"

It is.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"yeah, no one who was confrontational ever held that position..."

I still have ass bruises from all the times Hickey threw me off the courthouse roof.

Anonymous said...

Angle for County Executive

Anonymous said...

He will need the job when Parsons beats him.

Anonymous said...

None of the folks mentioned will run for county executive. However, there are a few people out there who may in fact be running and in a few cases already are running.

Also, I believe it is unfair to start speculating who may keep Stoffa's next Director of Administration. Given the lackluster and sinister nature of the Stoffa crowd, no Execuitve is going to keep the past executives pick. Past Executive's have picked new Directors, so will the next one.

Anonymous said...

There is a cast of effective managers available for Mr. Stoffa to choose from. He'd be better off picking a municipal manager that is close to retirement age an serve only to the end of Mr. Stoffa's term.

There are many qualified, and only a few he'd need to do an extensive Google research on.

Anonymous said...

Sal Panto will run. Great source tells me. Market better suck up.

Anonymous said...

Mike McFadden for County Exec.

Anonymous said...

Not totally Conklin's fault, but Voter's registration is a mess.

YOu know it is Bernie.

This takes nothing away from Conklin, who I respect fully as a professional. He will be missed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Voter registration has vastly improved, thanks mostly to the good people in that office. That's my take.

Anonymous said...

After the Gracedale fiasco of this Adminstration, we need someone with county experience, brains and energy. Sal is a good guy but the county is a different animal from a city.

No more learing curves. With the mess Stoffa left and his inattention to important issues like the prison, calls for a smart experienced county hand.

Easton needs Panto more than the county, I beleive Sal will stay on as Mayor for now.

I do hear there will be about four democrats running for county execuitve. The shame is where were these people when Stoffa was running. Thats when we needed someone.

Anonymous said...

It took a first term to address the negligence of the Reibman administration. Shrinking tax revenues, increases in personnel costs even with fewer county employees, reduced intergovernmental revenue and its all Stoffa's fault? Don't forget to add in a dysfunctional Council of bobbleheads and a megalomaniac. Whoever you think will save the County as the next Executive will have a rude awakening.

Anonymous said...

After 6 years in office give the Reibman rap a rest. There was no negligence beyond what any executive left. Stoffa owns the governemnt now.

Remember Reibman left him the largest cash surplus in county history. Stop whinning and man up.

This guy and his hacks are incompetent. Hell, even Gracedale was working well when he took office and he undid all the changes made and it went bad.

This is an incompetent group of people. Every executive has faced labor issues. The only difference is this guy had and has a lot of cash on hand and now he wants more. He and Angle are joined at the hip and that has been a disaster for the county.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Karner would be a fool to get appointed. No one will keep her when they take office. As for "who will run". I'm told Barron wants to run - Callahan, Boscola and Grucela don't - Heckman is eyeing a run (he won't beat Barron) and Sal Panto is the favorite should he choose to cave to pressure. On the republican ticket - I'm not hearing much other than Mike Dowd who is a good council member but would make a bad executive. I'm sure Barron will have his cabinet picked pre announcement. I'm thinking Panto would be front runner. I'm told by Panto camp that they are focused on making Easton even better.

Anonymous said...

Annon 1:37 - you said - None of the folks mentioned will run for county executive.

You've never seen the shit eating grin on a certain persons face when asked. Sal Panto will run.

Anonymous said...

HEY BERNIE, DIDN'T STOFFA REPLACE ONE OF MATEFF'S WIVES WHEN HE TOOK OFFICE?

Anonymous said...

Jane Baker and Jane Ervin would paint a very supportive and complimentary picture of John's performance on the job in Lehigh County. It is always difficult to steer a ship in the right direction when the rudder is broken - welcome to the Lehigh Valley folks (and you all know what I'm speaking about when it comes to our local government). While I've known John since his Central PA days, his personal situation 10 years ago is none of yours or anyone elses business. He is a very committed and engaged father. And btw when he remarried, his wife is the one who encouraged him to look at FL for better job opportunities because in PA they don't take his profession seriously. Just what I "heard".

Anonymous said...

Conklin's personal life should not be aired in this blog. His reasons for leaving are probably complex and relate to the Gracedale fiasco, him being dragged to court, his frustrations with union bobble-heads, etc. He was probably seeking greener pastures for the past year. He was a asset to the county and we should wish him well in his future endeavors.

Anonymous said...

union bobble heads!!! how about Barbra Thiery and her bobble head! now you want to talk about bobble heads!!! what a joke!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted an anonymous attack on John Conklin. What kills me is that people will say all kinds of things, but are very hesitant to take responsibility for their words.

Conklin is a consummate professional, and his decision to leave is the County's loss. On a personal level, I want the best for John and understand his decision, but wish he could stay. He is that good.

Anonymous said...

Wow. That suit is bad.

Anonymous said...

Whoever is getting him is very lucky.

Expect to see more of the best people in the public sector leave their jobs for the private sector. There is only so much consternation and abuse people can take. Blaming all of the country's problems on government will take its toll on PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

"Expect to see more of the best people in the public sector leave their jobs for the private sector."

From which they will flee back to the nipple, once they realize their is zero tolerance for hall-walking, bullshitting, clock watching and that you only get raises when you produce something other than debt for future generations.

-Clem

Anonymous said...

"there".

-Clem

Anonymous said...

Just another Stoffa hack. No one will be keeping the Stoffa team.