Because of its proximity to New Jersey, Northampton County has more than its fair share of nutbags, or put more politely, colorful characters. Chief of these, of course, is our very own Ron Angle, the LeeRoy Jenkins of local politics. But there are many others, from Wicked Witch of West Easton Tricia Mezzacappa to Fake Rev. Mario Martinez. If I were objective, which I'm not, I'd even have to lump in Bottom Feeding Blogger Bernie O'Hare somewhere in that mix. After last night, I'm pretty sure that union activist and NorCo employee Jim Gregory is a first class nutbag, and he may end up being one without a job.
Over the years, he and I have traded sharp exchanges. But his girlfriend, who is a Saint, managed to broker something of a truce between us. Now I'm about to violate the cease fire.
Gregory, believe it or not, is some kind of mental health worker in human services. At last night's Council meeting, Council Prez John Cusick had to give him the hook in the middle of a rambling speech that complained about the proposed centralized human services buildings, his boss, his boss's boss and his boss's boss's boss. He had gone on well beyond the five minutes allotted for public comment, and we'd all still be there if Cusick let him go.
Gregory is a union steward, and that gives him some rights to make complaints. But he made clear that he was there as a taxpayer, and not as a union steward.
He started off by complaining about the centralized human services building, which was approved 8-1 by Council several months ago. Gregory had spoken in support of it as a union steward. But as a taxpayer last night, he spoke against it.
In addition to complaints about privatization and spending millions on that, Gregory went on to attack his boss, whom I will not name. He complained that she is still paid over $100,000 per year, even though she only has half the responsibilities she once had. He suggested that she be removed, and that Human Services Director Ross Marcus follow her out the door. He also called on Executive John Stoffa to resign.
He tried to woo Council. For example, he called Council member Peg Ferraro "a Republican with a Democratic heart" and Council member Ken Kraft his "union brother from another mother."
Gregory also brought one of his clients with him to use as a prop. He identified her as a Nazi death camp survivor and described her as a victim of shock treatments. From the look of her, an appearance at a Northampton County Council meeting must have brought about some flashbacks. I think Gregory, who clearly did not have the knowing consent of this woman to use her as did, violated her privacy rights by parading her in front of Council as though she were an Exhibit instead of a human being. Also, forcing her to attend a Northampton County Council meeting is something even Hitler would consider too cruel.
While all this was going on, Executive John Stoffa sat very quietly, doing a slow burn. He usually exchanges pleasantries after a meeting with Council members and the press and gives me at least one insult. Not last night.
Many, many moons ago, erstwhile Prothonotary Ernie DiSalvatore decided to complain to County Council about his boss, then Executive Marty Bechtel. During the course of his tirade, he referred to either Bechtel or one of his top Administrators as a "hatchet man." The next day, that hatchet fell on him. He was out of a job.
Last night, Gregory started off by saying, "I just want to do my time with the County." His rant was no way to go gently into that good night. Moreover, his presentation was so laced with personal attacks that whatever legitimate point he was attempting to make, was lost on me.
I do know this. He needs an old priest and a young priest.