|Barron at Pigs game|
It's a date Easton union activist and resident Susan Eagle will never forget. Her grandson was born that day. While she was in the hospital with her daughter, three juveniles - including Bolivar Pagan - vandalized her home during the course of a burglary.
All of them were caught. Two of them have made restitution. But Pagan owes Eagle $116.66, and it's unlikely she'll ever see it, even though officials know he's in Allentown, where he was arrested last June for driving under suspension.
Fast forward to 2005. Stuart Bonds runs a stop sign on Ferry Street and smashes into a car being driven by Eagle's daughter. He had no insurance and was driving with a suspended license. He was ordered to make $1209.85 in restitution, but gave a false address, and the money's never been collected. It's unlikely Eagle will see a dime of that money, either. Bonds is in Newark, and nobody's in a rush to go get him.
Eagle has been complaining to County officials for years, to no avail. Our Court system is more interested in processing cases than in actually doing justice. So she, and many like her, end up with nothing.
In 2006, over $28.6 million was outstanding in court fines and restitution. Amazingly, instead of issuing bench warrants for these deadbeats, Lamont McClure proposed a collections agency. Compared to a judge, who has the power to imprison you, this is perhaps the most idiotic way to collect from convicted criminals. But it eases the court load, so the hell with justice.
Fittingly, on April Fool's Day, Eagle met Northampton County Controller Steve Barron at some kind of political fundraiser. He promised to help, but has ignored her. According to a conversation with Eagle, "He has completely ignored me from April 1 until today."
During this time, Barron made absolutely no effort to let the administration know about this woman or her plight, and then began ignoring her, too. He must have been shocked to see her in front of County Council on Thursday night, where he was hoping to scare everyone half to death with asbestos claims.
Whether it's asbestos or restitution, none of this has anything to do with Barron's job as Controller.
Unlike Barron, I will tell Ms. Eagle that it's unlikely she'll ever see a dime of the money owed her. That's because our system is designed to process cases, not do justice. Barron von Footinmouth would never have the nerve to tell a judge or probation officer that they blew it, but they do it all the time, unmindful of the reality that to these victims, $100 is a lot of money.