Thursday, January 05, 2012

Callahan Dips Into Escrow Without Council Approval

On Tuesday night, after Bethlehem City Council's reorganization, an upset Karen Dolan vented on this blog. She admonished readers for their obsession with Mayor John Callahan, instead suggesting that the real problem in Bethlehem is an unnamed "strongly centralized power on city council." On Wednesday, she back-tracked on that charge a bit, stating that her "council colleagues are all good people, but political ambition makes some good people forget why they were elected." But what Karen failed to tell you, and what she likely did not know herself, is that Hizzoner has proved again that he is very much the problem.

According to a well-placed source who spoke to me late last night, Bethlehem is struggling to meet its first payroll in 2012. Despite promises and ordinances and special accounts, Callahan has already transferred $900,000 out of the Treasurer's escrow without Council approval. Although he could have asked them to act last night, Hizzoner instead chose to inform them today, after the fact.

What makes this all the more amazing is that Council member Dave DiGiacinto warned City officials during a late 2011 finance committee meeting to watch balances closely so there would be no last minute surprises. DiGiacinto fully anticipated the City might need to borrow until the casino host fee comes later this moneth.

Once again, the administration is defiant, council is weak, and nobody does anything to stop the fiscal madness.

"It's not like anybody is going to jail," Business Administrator Dennis Reichard might say, as he's said before.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

As hizzoner sez, "elections have consequences." He sounds like another socialist, Barack Hussein Obama. Elections certainly do have consequences. You now have a rubberstamp city council. And don't blame the city council members, blame the mushrooms in bethlum that keeping voting in the one party system. There are now six rubberstamps on council. Enjoy the tax increases and additional borrowing. And weak kneed donchez wants to be the next mayor. Good luck bethlum.

Lighthouse said...

transferring funds is old practice in COB, predating Callahan. For example, Bethlehem (water) Authority was a frequent cow to milk in years past.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Except that Bethlehem now has an ordinance prohibiting the practice without prior City Council approval.

Anonymous said...

Wait until he becomes County Exec. He and Barron will have 60 million bucks to fool around with.

Anonymous said...

So don't pay the employees?

Shit has to happen and whilst it may be improper, no harm no foul!

Bernie O'Hare said...

What he could have done is follow the ordinance and ask Council to authorize this during their meeting on Tuesday night.

Crispus Attucks said...

anon 12:34,

agreed. for the most part there are 5 gutless wonder rubber stampers, 1 who has integrity and 1 that is sort of neutral. u r absolutely right in that the few who even bother to vote are either complete mushrooms or lever pulling, kool aid drinking dummies.

Lighthouse: u r are correct but it doesn't make it right, especially now that it is against the law.

We'll see now if Evans has any guts.

Maybe Reichard and the Mayor should go to jail.

Will Dolan raise her voice in protest?

Anonymous said...

Outside of Davy D, the rest of Bethlehem city council are wussies. They are about as useful to the city as a tit on a bull.

Donchez wants to be mayor but won't even dare to enforce the laws they already have on the books.

Get ready Northampton County this could be your future. of course Northampton county already has a rubberstamp council so it may work out.

Anonymous said...

12:34

Just think another 4.5 years of you getting to use the name Hussein when referring to the POTUS.
Must make you happy.

Anonymous said...

discontinue the error 2012

Anonymous said...

Bernie your usually pretty good, way off on this one.

Seamus

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then enlighten me and tell me wha is going on.

Issac Touro said...

Seamus obviously has had his dose of Kool Aid this morn. But that seems to be his only nourishment.

Anonymous said...

The next mayor will spend his or her entire four years in office cleaning up Callahan's mess.

First thing the new mayor should do before even sitting down in the chair is fire Reichard. I wouldn't trust that man to run a little league concession stand.

Anonymous said...

Callahan will only be Executive if Boscola and Panto decide to not run. You may not like that but it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

Jon Geeting already explained this. Since it's been going on forever and it's being done now by a far left radical liberal (shame that Callahan let the DNC and Joe Biden paint him that way, but oh well ) it's not a violation of anything and it's not a problem.

Nothing to see here.

Paul Kersey said...

Bernie,

Just to clarify, both Council and the Controller were made aware of the transfer needed before anything was done.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ordinance 121.08 RESTRICTIONS ON FUND TRANSFERS, specifically provides as follows: "c) No transfers of funds from the Treasurer's Escrow Account shall be made to the General Fund Operating Budget or to the Water Fund Operating Budget or to the Sewer Fund Operating Budget without prior notice to and approval of City Council. (Ord. 4425. Passed 5/1/07.)"

I understand Meg Holland, the Controller, refused to sign the check until Council was at least notified. But as you can see, they must approve the transfer.

Cllahan violasted the law. Everything after that is spin.

Anonymous said...

Give him a county budget. Not!

Anonymous said...

There is no there there Bernie....

Seamus

Anonymous said...

The Panto job seekers are back in force. Relax, if he runs he runs. But don't count on a money spending big crime city mayor winning that easy.

Just ask Seamus

Anonymous said...

Who the hell is a Panto Job Seeker?

Issac Touro said...

I see Seamus has switched from kool aid to the harder stuff

Anonymous said...

Seamus, in law school they didn't teach you the difference between your and you're?

Tony Simao said...

I have said before that the only thing Karen didn't reveal was just how broke the city is.

I can guarantee this would not have gone down if even one of the three Republicans had been elected to Council. Like the old saying goes "You get the government you deserve!"

Crispus Attucks said...

anon 6:28

For Seamus spelling is not required Only blind obedience and the ability to spin the lie that is JC.

Crispus Attucks said...

Tony,

KD is two drunk on the kool aid of JC and her desire to be just like him to mention such trivial things..

The dem fools pulled the lever of stupidity not understanding they will have to pay dearly for such foolishness.

Anonymous said...

I'm sick of hearing all of the County Exec hype. When those who want to run announce....we will know who is running. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know who the best candidate is. But will he run? I doubt he will. The guy loves Easton too much.

Anonymous said...

JANUARY 2012 - BETHLEHEM FALLS SHORT ON FIRST PAYROLL - NOT TO WORRY, NO ONE IS GOING TO JAIL!


BETHLEHEM'S MUSHROOMS APPROVE LACK OF ADMINISTRATION COMPETENCY!

From Lehighvalleylive.com:

Bethlehem finished 2011 with $600,000 in the bank but needed a last-minute $900,000 transfer to pay its employees this week.

Bethlehem council members said they foresaw the likely shortfall and wish the administration had given them more notice.

The administration requested the transfer Wednesday morning, a little more than 12 hours after city council met Tuesday night. Administrators said they didn’t know about the shortfall until that morning.

The city had $600,000 in its accounts last week and was closed Monday, Bethlehem Director of Budget and Finance Mark Sivak said. On Tuesday, the city's computers were down to perform an annual transfer for the new year, he said.

“We couldn’t get in the system to see what our cash balance was,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, administrators found they were $900,000 short for the year's first $1.5 million payroll, Sivak said.

He said he called council President Eric Evans and last year’s finance committee chairman, J. William Reynolds, for permission to transfer the money from the treasurer’s escrow account, a flexible general fund account that requires city council approval for transfers.

The transfer, by ordinance, requires council approval. But calling the council president and finance committee chairman is common city precedent for last-minute transfers, Sivak said. The other five council members were later notified by memorandum, he said.

Several council members said administrators should have known they were likely to be short on the year’s first payroll and should have told council sooner.

“I would have much preferred to have known the third instead of the fourth,” Evans said. “I wish they would have erred the other way and let full council know.”

Council members David DiGiacinto and Robert Donchez made similar comments.

The city controller’s office refused to authorize the transfer until it was assured council was notified, Controller Meg Holland and Deputy Controller Eugene Auman said. They also said council should have been notified Tuesday.

“There’s no way we would have gotten $900,000 in deposits. They at least should have said to council, ‘We’re going to need to make a transfer, we don’t know how much,’” Auman said.

The $900,000 will be paid back once the city receives new casino host fees that come in at the end of the month, Sivak said.

Bethlehem also was short on its first payroll in 2011. Bethlehem Business Administrator Dennis Reichard said the city is in a much better financial situation this year with $600,000 left over after paying all of its 2011 medical bills and pensions.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:33, we hope you get the job. You have earned it. By the way, how do you know he is the best before you even know who else is running.

Anonymous said...

Out of the current elected officials. He is one of the best admins with the most experience. You can argue. But again.....I'm sick of hearing about it. He won't run. He loves Easton.

BTW....I'm retired asshole and never going back to work. No matter what.

Crispus Attucks said...

no one would believe jc or dr's version of this so now they have sivak, drunken with kool aid lying for them. the business administrator (joke tittle) and the budget analyst can't get into the cities finances via computer?

there's not enough kool aid or booze to convince even the simplest bethlum moron of that spin.

the new pres and others don't know the city's finances? either BS or just scary. we wish we were told. what a cop out.

Notice that the two biggest rubber stampers, reynolds and dolan are not commenting.

well at least the the medical bills and pensions were paid so hopefully they won't have to take out another loan to fix that problem. What about all the other bills??????????? No one mentioned that did they?

come on seamus. jump in here and tell us how we just don't understand. spin the spin lawyer man.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:59 you have anger issues like your boss. Easy there pal, just sayinn. There are a lot of people with the same if not better credentials as your ex-teacher, thats all.

Chill my brother, come take a crime free walk in Bethlehem.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To the commenter who posted the article from lehighvalleylive,

I love the story bc it proves that my source had it right. But in the future, I would prefer a link instead of a cut and paste of the story. I''m pretty sure that's a copyright violation. Also, Lynn Olanoff works hard, writes well, and deserves the credit for digging and finding the truth.

Issac Touro said...

good point Bernie. But notice that the mc hasn't printed a word. apparently they can't report news even when it is already written for them.

maybe the ET will give Lynn a trophy while the lost 3 on the second floor will get major turkeys.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, sorry about taking up so much room on the blog with the lehighvalleylive cut and paste, but, I could not resist pushing JC's face into the toilet. In the future, I will share snippets, and point to links. Thanks for not deleting the posting. And Lynn Olanoff did a great job.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's OK. I just hope Owens does not sue my ass. As for the MC, they do a good job covering Bethlehem and could easily have been the paper that broke this story.

Competition is what makes both of these papers better.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame the story is not the city paid down debt and finished in the black during some very difficult times. I did not know about the payroll shortfall, but it's a very short term issue. Money comes into the city at different times, its exactly like any household moving cash out of savings to cover a debt and then putting it back once you receive your paycheck. Mountain out of a molehill....

Oh and I'm not a lawyer or a teacher, nor do I play one on TV.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Annon 12:15.....I live in Bethlehem on New Street. Far from Crime free.....My utility rates just went through the roof. Our Mayor should thank his lucky stars that we have casino host money or our taxes would be up 25% as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Seamus, I do not subscribe to the personal attacks made against you. Your comments here are welcome. Believe it or not, I WANT to hear Callahan's side.

In this instance, it appears that my source was correct, not "way off".

Anonymous said...

I concede the point.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I don't care about the attacks. We are adults and by posting open ourselves up to others opinions. I just think it’s funny that over time I have been called Callahan, Kelly, Reynolds, Hanna, etc… and I have no clue why people care anyway. The words are MY opinions or things I have picked up in conversation with the parties involved. I however am friends with the administration, but over the years I have both agreed and disagreed with all of them. No one always makes the right decisions, but unfortunately all one can do is make the best decision with the information they have at hand.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Hey Annon 10:24, do you not remember how the casino got there? It did not magically appear, it was hard work from the administration. You and all residents should thank their lucky stars that you had people in charge who made the casino and many other things happen, or as you said rates would be higher.

Anonymous said...

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Seamus you can't be all of those people, that is silly. We all know you are Kelly. You owe JC big time.

Anonymous said...

Kelly is no good, not sure why Callahan keeps him around. Kelly is not smart enough to be Seamus.

Anonymous said...

I think Kelly is smart enough not to be seamus. The air must be stake all the way up Callahans arse there seamus.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, Wee Willy, Mikey R, Dennis R., all thugs, and all part of the team of lying cheats who continue to justify illegal transfers of money and budget shortfalls, increased borrowing, increases in fees (Oh, that's right a fee increase is not a tax on the residents, just a burden and we can decide not to use the service for which the fee is charged, right Willy?) Bottom line, crime is up, the city has not enough money to even pay its bills and Seamus just keeps stating it's no big deal, just like a household...only our households are now broke because of the increased fees and taxes and you can't even clear the streets from snow properly. Now that they have a firm 5 vote margin of rubber stamps and spineless members likely they'll be putting in contract hauling soon, another pot of money and another increase in the cost of living in Bethlehem for its citizens. Seamus, whoever you are, and as you admit you are someone on that team called the Callahan Magic, you are a liar and a lowlife and you have no shame.

Anonymous said...

11:21 those are some pretty harsh words for a guy you don't even know. I appreciate that Seamus brings a different perspective to the blog and is willing to voice his perception. You clearly have an agenda and name calling is usually the last bastion of the highly intelligent. Perhaps you could actually bring facts to the conversation rather than a acerbic and illogical rant about people you don't even know. It is quite easy to say those things anonymously, but it does nothing to add to the conversation. I guess at some level Bernie I have to thank you for providing a venue where people like 11:21 can rant and rave and get their anger out so they don't keep it repressed. It is better for society.

Anonymous said...

You are welcome Tim

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd prefer that we all avoid the anonymous name-calling and stick to the facts we know.

Anonymous said...

Well I try not to be a lowlife, and try to look at things with an open mind. I am however numbers driven individual though and at times that seems to lack a sense of humanity. To me as stewards of the peoples money you have to make the hard calls no matter if popular or not. Thats what leaders do and why people are elected. The difference is owning up to things when they go wrong and not hiding on blogs and such. People throw out names and nastiness but do nothing to try and solve the issues. Please join a board, attend meetings, help out do something except just complain. I'm not an elected official for now but can get my opinions across as needed. The ultimate decisions fall on the mayor and our elected officials, but we can help the opinion that is formulated.

I for one was surprised about the money transfer, having even challenged Bernie on it when he posted. It was done appropriately mind you, but I specifically asked about it last week and expected a completely positive year end and start to the new one. It is really an accounting issue but I highly agree it should not be needed. I work for a large company and a different structure than local government though, so I would not begin to tell the people in the trenches where they failed. Unless your there seeing the numbers and making the decisions, you have no idea.

Seamus

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Oh by all means lest us not be anonymous.

The real Seamus O'Seamus

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem Council to review watchdog ordinance.

The review comes after the city made last-minute transfer to cover the year's first payroll.

See the complete Morning Call article here:

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-escrow-payroll-20120106,0,641622.story