|Brown calls Council craven and irresponsible|
Brown Posts Guards
When I reported to Brown's office for the news conference, I did notice three three deputies standing near his outer door. I thought they were looking for Eric Frein, but they were apparently there to prevent anyone from attending Brown's news conference that he didn't want there.
"Do you have a press pass?" asked one.
"Only forgeries," I answered.
That was good enough. I was in.
I thought maybe they were there to protect Brown from Morning Call columnist Bill White, who was rumored to be on his way. "Good idea!" I thought. He does look a lot like Eric Frein.
But I learned that, in addition to the armed guards in front of his outer office, Brown posted Deputy Sheriffs (either one or two) outside the door that separates his office from Council chambers. That area is open only to members of Council. So he was actually posting guards to protect him from elected representatives of the people.
Brown Blasts Last Week's St. Luke's Vote
Last week, by a 6-2 vote (Seth Vaughn was absent), Northampton County Council rejected a pass thru bond issue for St. Luke's Hospital after Lamont McClure had argued that Council should stop doing all but absolutely essential business until Brown agrees to negotiate on his health care cuts. The two Yes votes were Peg Ferraro and Hayden Phillips. Peg was incredulous because Council was cutting off its nose to spite its face. In addition to depriving St. Luke's of needed revenue, the County would lose out on hefty administration fees.
Brown waited until today to call an "urgent" news conference, and it was about St. Luke's. He explained the obvious value of the project:
"St. Luke's is creating a uniform system for sharing accurate health information across a broad network of providers. This project will ensure that a person's vital health records are up-to-date and instantly available to every doctor nurse or first responder that has to provide care to the patient.Brown is right. In fact, later that day, Council reversed course at a budget Meeting and authorized the funding with Lamont McClure being the sole No vote. (Vaughn recused himself and Ken Kraft was stuck in an elevator).
"Not only is this critical to managing its 194,000 emergency room visits every year, it will help first responders and primary care physicians better protect the public when facing a public health crisis. For example, the Enterovirus that's sickening our youth; or the potential of an Ebola outbreak. It means that anybody who needs accurate information can get it immediately."
Brown then went on to blast Council and McClure.
"[T]hey took this action to extort the Executive's office. After the meeting, Council members and their mouthpieces sent messages to me with an offer: If I were to acquiesce to their demands on an entirely unrelated matter [employee health care]; they would hold an emergency session in order to approve the bond. in other words, they are holding the County government, the county's healthcare providers, and our citizens hostage in order to win a political fight. That's not only craven and irresponsible ... it is wrong."He went on to accuse McClure and other Council members of "political gamesmanship and pandering to further their own personal interests and open the door to a real health crisis."
"If my words seem angry, it's because I'm more than a little outraged with people who are willing to shirk their duty. I urge citizens to contact every member of council and tell them that this is wrong! Tell them to stop!"He goes on to claim that he won't allow council members "to use our community's security as a bargaining chip in their effort to grab cheap political wins."
Who Wrote Brown's Speech?
Brown then got up and walked out of his own office, refusing to answer questions. Judging from the horrified look on Kim Pyler's face, I know it wasn't her. Because it was written in English as opposed to business babble, it wasn't Brown, either. Instead of saying, "Tell them to stop", he would have said, "Communicate parameters on future dialogue with the leadership core."
My guess is that Brown used his political consultant, Matt Deibert, to write that screed. He was reportedly seen slinking about the courthouse.
By the way, who the Hell uses the word "craven"? The only time I hear it is when someone is being sentenced.
Ferraro Blasts Brown
Peg Ferraro, President of Northampton County Council, supported the St. Luke's vote from the onset. She was one of the two Yes votes last week. Last night, she managed to resurrect the matter during a Budget Meeting, thanks to a determination by Solicitor Phil Lauer that any County business could be conducted. She had representatives from St. Luke's present to explain the loan. She agreed with many of the observations in Brown's statement. But the Doyenne of Northampton County was visibly perturbed by Brown's heavy handed approach to a news conference.
"I have been around here for a long, long time. And everybody knows I've been around for a long, long time (laughing). This is the first time I have come to know the difference between a 'media event' and a 'press conference'. It's a little bit like Willie Shakespeare. 'What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'
"Today I got a copy of the media event, and I have to say it is well written and I agree with much of it. But today, I experienced something that I have never experienced in my years here in Northampton County government. Two Sheriff Deputies were pulled from their duties to guard the doors. I can understand ... maybe ... the public entrance. But to have the Sheriff's Deputies stand - armed Sheriff's Deputies - standing guard at the door between a Council Chamber and the County Executive Chamber, to me, is absolutely appalling and sends completely the wrong message to the elected officials that sit up here on this dais with me. I just had to get this off my chest. I've never seen anything like it."