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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Proposal to Elect Row Officers Gets Frosty Reception

Peg Ferraro, lookin' lean and mean
Rogue Deputy Sheriff Tom Bachik would love to see an elected Sheriff. That way, unions can install a puppet who will give him triple and quadruple time whenever he farts. So it's no surprise, although a little disappointing, to see Ken Kraft sponsor a giant step backwards for anyone interested in good government. Instead of professionals running offices like the Sheriff or Recorder of Deeds, Kraft wants political hacks installed by the unions. After all, Kraft himself is a business agent. Instead of representing his district, he's representing AFSCME District 88.

Another Council member, Tom Dietrich, also supports making row officers elective positions. At yesterday's Personnel Committee meeting, he claimed this is because of John Stoffa's recent, and very controversial, appointment of Gina Gibbs as Register of Wills. That's funny because, when he spoke to The Morning Call, he denied the proposal had anything to do with the Gibbs' appointment. He's managed to contradict himself in the span of 24 hours, like a good little pol.

Bob Werner chides Kraft and Dietrich
As Kraft makes a play for the unions, Dietrich is trying to portray himself as a populist, hoping that it gets him a few votes in his bid for re-election. As a Republican who supported the sale of Gracedale, he knows he's in hot water.

This appeal to direct democracy has a big flaw, and that was driven home by former County Exec Jerry Seyfried at a hearing on Wednesday. You see, the voters, in an exercise of direct democracy, have already shot down the idea of elected row officers.
In 1978, the row offices were abolished, not by politicians, but by the voters of Northampton County. The voters, through the process known as voter referendum, have told you they don't want row offices. The change that was implemented provided a system of checks and balances like no other in the history of the County. The efficiencies that came with the elimination of the row offices and the adoption of the Northampton County Home Rule Charter resulted in cutting property taxes almost in half.
I spoke, too, but should have kept my trap shut. Council members Bob Werner, Peg Ferraro and Scott Parsons each stated that this is pretty much a terrible idea.

Scott Parsons, as Coroner, can declare me dead
Bob Werner, reacting to concerns that the current appointments are a product of nepotism, chided, "And you think the election process is any better?" He suggested fixing problems with the appointment process instead of "throwing out the baby with the bath water."

Peg Ferraro, who remembers what it was like when row officers were elected, claimed there were "separate little fiefdoms" that were accountable to no one. "You're taking us back forty years," she warned Kraft and Dietrich. She said people get elected for two reasons - popularity and money. Not competence or professionalism. "Be careful what you ask for," she added.

Scott Parsons said bluntly, "This is probably the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen. I can't support this at all."


Anonymous said...

Its as stupid as Bethlehem having single hauler garbage talks.

Anonymous said...

Anybody noticed the city hall at night?
It looks like a bad Chinese restaurant in Vegas.
Flashing blue to yellow lights or whatever the daily color pick turns out to be.
The tackiest display of lights I have ever seen next to "lights on the parkway".
Must cost us all a bit for the electric too.

Anonymous said...

Elected row offices defeat the whole idea of trying to keep politics only in the campaign and not after the election as well. Peg said it correctly, elected row offices leads to little fiefdoms. We should learn from history and not repeat it.

Montague Tazewell said...

The people who are vehemently opposed to having elected row officers, are elected officials.


Alan Earnshaw said...

Although I support appointed row officers (subject to some kind of tests to ensure only qualified people are appointed), citing a voter referendum from 1978 is a poor argument. I suspect a large majority of the current voters turned 18 or moved to the county sometime in the last 34 years. I don't believe any of our current elected officials were voted into office in 1978 and have remained there since then. And, hey, opinions can and do change over time.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:10

Yeah, and that there Constitution, heck I was even born when that thing was ratified. And you know... none of our current elected officials were around when it was enacted. And, hey, opinions can and do change over time.

None of those old laws are relevant anymore, right?

Anonymous said...

And that thing called the "Bill of Rights". Throw that out too because it wasn't there for me to vote on 40 years ago. You have some real jerks reading this blog. Thank God the good people outwiegh the idiots who comment on this Blog.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:57 You may be right that good people outweigh the idiots....for now. The United States is very reapidly being taken over by the idiots and the "good people" are going to be the minority very soon.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

All other Counties have it wrong, except these Einsteins!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the county judges should be appointed.

Everyione else elected.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"All other Counties have it wrong, except these Einsteins!!!"

Allegheny appoints. Luzerne just adopted a HRC after decades of all kinds of trouble from elected row offices, and will appoint. The Committee of Seventy recommends appointed professionals. Lehigh County has consolidated and elects, but elects fewer row officers.

The whole point oh home rule is to allow municipal governments to do precisely what happened in NC.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"citing a voter referendum from 1978 is a poor argument"

That's OK, Alan. I provided five other reasons in a previous post on this topic.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You have some real jerks reading this blog."

Look at its author.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Hare stop anonymously trolling the Saving Private Gracedale blog. Also stop pretneding to be West Easton Footprint.

Last time we want to warn you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fake Rev,

This is one of your numerous problems. You think other people do what you do. I have too much respect for my readers and for myself to deceive them with anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Also, I do not impersonate other people. That's how I roll. In fact, I want people to know that I am the author of what I write. Unlike you and your false friends, I am not a coward.

Now you go ahead and do whatever you have to do. I don't really give a shit.

Anonymous said...

All these guys want to do is grow the County Government and put in unqualified elected idiots in key positions. Now the brainiacs want to build some mega human services building in Bethlehem. Didnt they learn their lesson before? How much taxpayer money will be wasted on all this non sense?

Anonymous said...

Kraft and Dietrich - the Mutt and Jeff of county council. Let's go back to the good old days of 1978 when Norco was a political cesspool. Just jump on in and enjoy the sludge! Dumbest idea ever. But these two dim bulbs think its revolutionary.

Anonymous said...


Alan Earnshaw said...

Anon 3:21,

You may wish to familiarize yourself with the amendments to the Constitution. To date, there have been 27 of them, the most recent enacted in 1992. The Founders were smart enough to realize that the document might need to change over time, so they made provisions for change.

If you'd prefer to go back to the 1789 version of the Constitution, you'll have to convince a lot of women and people of African descent to give up the right to vote, allow slavery to be reinstated, stop electing your senators, remove term limits for the President, and more.

I, for one, am glad to live in a country where change is possible, where decades-old procedures, even when established by vote, are not immutable, and where my vote still counts today.

Anonymous said...

Ken Kraft is not a member of AFSCME, nor is he their business agent. Fact checking is hard, isn't it Bernie?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I didn't say that. I said that, instead of representing his district, he was representing AFSCME. Learn how to read.