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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bethlehem City Council Advances Meaningless Hiring Freeze

Last night, Bethlehem City Council's Finance Committee voted 2-1 to advance a meaningless hiring freeze to the full Council for a vote in May. It won't make a damn bit of difference to City finances, but that's not the point. In future campaigns, Mike Recchiuti and Bryan Callahan will be able to pretend they are fiscal conservatives who drew the line and crap like that. But other than the political gain, there's no point.

Earlier that night, Director of Community and Economic Development Director Alicia Karner wanted staffing in her department increased by one or two people to handle the workload that will come with the CRIZ. David Brong found a way to make it budget neutral. But Callahan and Recchiuti voted No because the City is in dire financial straights. Eric Evan countered the best way to change that is by increasing revenue with the CRIZ, but their minds were made up.

Amazingly, right after refusing to listen to some pretty powerful arguments for CRIZ staffing, which the City agreed to provide in its application to the state, Callahan claimed City Council would listen to administration pitches for hiring staff.

"I don't think we're going to be hard of hearing," he said, right after listening to the administration point out that these jobs are needed for what is expected to be $538 million in development.

He sounds deaf to me.

As for the hiring freeze, about half the City's workforce is exempt. It doesn't cover fire, police or EMS. They will also make sure it doesn't affect seasonal employees. When all the exemptions are considered, it might affect three positions for two months, a point noted by nonvoting member Adam Waldron.

"It's more like a chill," he observed.

So then what's the point?

Aside from the question whether Council has the right to stick its nose into day-to-day administrative affairs, Business Administrator David Brong told them it simply won't work. Other things will, he noted, like consolidations within departments, the increased use of technology and elimination of non-core functions.

"A Council-imposed hiring freeze takes the reins of leadership away from those who run the City," Brong argued. "Abandon this hiring freeze and let us do our jobs."

Brong called it an "irritant" and "token effort."

"How much mileage are we really going to get out of this?" he asked.

That depends on whether you are interested in government or politics.


Anonymous said...

The comments on the Express times are ripping you to shreds.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Is that supposed to bother me? They are crazy people who don't identify themselves, but it's pretty obvious who they are. Dolan is now out at Fox, but i believe she needs to resign her seat on Council as well.

Anonymous said...

council is overstepping it's bounds. oversight idiots - not day to day operations

Anonymous said...

Deaf and completely stupid. Unfortunately, Bryan suffers from a complex created by being the brother of someone more popular and charismatic than he. Bryan is just dumber and less well spoken than he wants to be.

Anonymous said...

Every administration, wheter it be the two Cities or the County, has had a hiring freeze. Yet, they all have added new positions before the end of their administrations. Councils have the oversight not the every day responsibility of running the government and usually don't have a clue as to the everyday duties and responsibilities of the grunt worker. A six month hiring freeze in a department that deals with the public on a daily basis could set the department back as far as two years in workload. I know government costs will go up every year as do my household expenses. I also know that government, school districts included will sufer when cutbacks are made. All we ask is be efficient in what you do.

Anonymous said...

Excellent job, Bernie. As to the first comment above, who cares what someone has to say elsewhere? Man up, and post it where Bernie will either respond if a response in merited, or he ignores you if not.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it clear those comments are all written by the same one or two people?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is to me.

Anonymous said...

Where to start about City Council?
Corrupt, i think that sums it up!!!