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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lehigh County's Controller Plays Some Politics

Eckhart, Schware and Ott
In Lehigh County, like Northampton County, the Controller is supposed to be an independent elected official. He ensures that proper internal controls are in place, assesses compliance with statutory requirements, evaluates operating procedures, and audits the accuracy and completeness of records and files pertaining to the receipt and disbursement of County funds. It's no job for a partisan hack. It is a job for an accountant. But in both counties, the position is held by partisans who have no particular skills as accountants. In Northampton, it's partisan Democrat Steve Barron, who just finished helping Lamont McClure lose a race for County Executive. In Lehigh, it's partisan Republican Glenn Eckhart, who just had a picnic for Exec candidate Scott Ott and Commissioner candidate Mike Schware. Neither of these political can perform an audit, bit they sure know how to play politics.

Over the years, I've complained numerous times about Barron's political activity, but have pretty much left Eckhart alone. That's because, until recently, there was some legal question whether he could hold the job, which was ultimately decided in Eckhart's favor. Also, I have to admit that I like Glenn. There's no getting around the fact that he is a good-hearted soul. But he plays politics, too. Just as Barron compromises his independence, so does Eckhart.

Instead of watching the henhouse, he's joined the foxes. There is no way that he can conduct a fundraiser for an Executive candidate Scott Ott and Commissioner candidate Mike Schware and then claim to be independent.

But something else bothers me even more. He recently had prominent Attorney Blake Marles on the County payroll for $1000 per month. Though Lehigh County's Controller never had a Solicitor before, it strikes me that one who can't perform an audit needs a lawyer more than most. But he just hired a new lawyer to replace Marles. It's Christy Schlottman, who will charge him only $550 per month.

So what's wrong with that? He's saving money, right?

No. Christy Schlottman is a Republican candidate for District Judge. His decision to hire her is in effect a back-handed campaign contribution of $550 per month. And you're paying for it, not him.

Eckhart denies this. "West Easton just hired her 3 months ago and the DA in Monroe County just hired her 2 months ago and we all knew she was running," he argues. In my opinion, it really makes no sense to do that unless the money is intended as a back-handed campaign contribution.


Anonymous said...

I think this is gross failure to remain independent. Glenn has absolutely no financial qualifications to be controller. He was selected and supported to be a part of the tea party group. His business experience was running a small lawn service.

Anonymous said...

Sad to read.

Anonymous said...

what a mess. Guess what group Glenn is involved with. YEP going down the wrong road with extremist.

Anonymous said...

Both Barron and Echard meet the requirements to hold this office.

1st) Must be fat

2nd) Must be dumb

Anonymous said...

I agree Glenn is a nice guy but he is as dumb as a rock, did he graduate from high school?

Anonymous said...

Barron is a lawyer and the guy is dumber than a pile of rocks.

Anonymous said...

Wow - this is so shocking that the bloggers who write this posting can not spell correctly ---- its called spell check people!