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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, November 03, 2014

Brown's First Ten Months a Disaster

Northampton County Republicans met in their secret underground lair on Thursday night. They are looking for candidates in next year's County Council and Controller races. Nobody is stepping forward just yet. I could understand waiting until the dust from this year's state races settles. But another reason for this reticence, apparently, is me. The argument is that I've been so hard on John Brown that no one in their right mind should consider County office. I personally think they've got it wrong. Instead of blaming me, they should look at John Brown. He has somehow managed, in ten short months, to make Democrats look pretty good by comparison. Let's review what can only be called a disaster.

-  He proposed a $715,200 business consultant, incorrectly predicting that he would get the five votes he needed, Instead, it was condemned by Republican stalwart Elmer Gates

-  His insistence on hiring a $67,500 public relations consultant has been a public relations disaster, spawning two lawsuits.

- He proposed Director of Administration, a high school graduate who was a secretary in a two-person office, was rejected in a 6-3 vote of County Council.

- The Voice Over artist he hired as his Director of Economic Development has thus far failed to bring a single job to Northampton County.

- He is notorious for failing to return calls from the press, recently snubbing Morning Call columnist Bill White.

-  Despite his denials, he is attempting to balance Northampton County's budget on the backs of what he has called its "most valuable asset", the worker. He shoved draconian cuts in the health plans and then refused to budge after three meetings in which employees begged him to stop being so harsh and even Council asked him to reconsider.

- In addition, he told Human Services workers he intends to cut other benefits, from sick time to vacation to longevity.

-  In addition to reducing the benefits package, Brown has made clear that the already underpaid workforce will see no wage hikes.

- Late last week, he blinked on the health plan reductions, but is now so unpopular in the workforce that even that proposal is being viewed with suspicion.

- He has engaged in mean-spirited attacks against previous administrations and, more recently, against Council.

- At a routine news conference, he barred a Council member and the Controller, who were only there to listen, telling them to make an appointment if they wanted to see him.

- At another "urgent" news conference in which he blasted Council as "craven" and accused them of extortion in a hissy fit, he actually posted armed Sheriff's Deputies to prevent the public and even members of Council from attending.

- He proposed a budget for next year that irresponsibly and illegally balances the budget with a $20 million line of credit.

- He has directed department heads and other county personnel to stay away from budget hearings, leaving an inexperienced Council to ask questions of inexperienced cabinet members. This deprives county employees from acquainting Council with what they do, and deprives a new Council from learning what is going on.

- He has directed that questions of County workers must go through Director of Administration Luis Campos.

- He has allowed the workforce to disintegrate, with 17 unfilled openings at the jail and a Civil Division that will soon be down eight people, including four deputies.

- He has driven medical costs to the County to high levels because many employees are having elective procedures done now, before it is too late.

- He appears to have piece-mealed contracts with one consultant to avoid reporting to Council.

- He removed a web link from the Controller, enabling employees to report fraud.

- He censored the Controller by preventing his ability to send mass emails to County employees.

If pointing out these many failings discourages people from running for office, that's probably a good thing.

Updated 9:02 am to add two items.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brown also totally defunded farmland preservation, county parks and environmentally sensitive lands, and put $2.7m of our Open Space tax proceeds into the General Fund. This is unprecedented, irresponsible, and unethical.

Jim Gregory said...

MezzaICrappedMyStretchPantsWhenISawBOH'sLibelJudgment for council!

Anonymous said...

What does he stand for ?

Anonymous said...

Yawn...

There is no "open space tax". Please find its mention in either the Home rule Charter or the Administrative code.

This is some of the emotionally based ignorance that John
Brown inherited, along with a cleaned out cash reserve cupboard.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame me.
I voted for the Frat Boy.

Anonymous said...

I like him and would vote for him again. He's better than the last two wrecks to hold the job. This is what we get in local politics.

Anonymous said...

"Don't blame me.
I voted for the Frat Boy."


Can we get bumper stickers made? please please?

Anonymous said...

They will find 4 clueless candidates for spring. Everybody wants to be on County Council and they want to get rid of JBs opposition. When that happens 2016 will be a train wreck of a year. T-party controlled NORCO, I think I will finally have to sell my home and move down south with the rest of the retirees and hide my head in the sand.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ said...

no story here, just bo regurgitating the same tired stuff. get a life little boy

Anonymous said...

Brown's administration has been a train wreck. Norco republicans are abandoning him in droves. He has embarrassed those who bought his snake oil by voting for him. Brown has lost Phillips on Council, has alienated Ferraro and now even Vaughn and Benol are distancing themselves from his insane actions. He is a one-term executive.

Anonymous said...

well said Bernie !couldn't agree more! it's terribly sad whats happening there at the county and to the workforce who have been devoted employees long before john brown strolled threw the door ,how anyone could single handed do this to so many is an absolute outrage and I wonder where is this mans conscience or does he even have one it will be a great day when he walks his sorry behind out the door he came in threw!

Anonymous said...

The devoted employees are "B" players. They'll B there when Brown's here and they'll B there when Brown's gone. Trust me, Brown's political career is almost over. I'm surrounded by Republicans and even they are shaking their heads. Brown's one hold out supporter is mezzacappa. That, should tell you something and give council tremendous pause.

Anonymous said...

Omitted on the list is his proposal to call the budget balanced by factoring in a $20 million loan.

Anonymous said...

Once you lose your workforce you have lost your effectiveness as a leader. Brown claims to be a businessman but he has broken every rule of effective leadership. If he were CEO of a company, the board of directors would have fired him by now. Unfortunately his board are the voters and they have to wait 3 long years to toss him out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Omitted on the list is his proposal to call the budget balanced by factoring in a $20 million loan."

It's there. It's a long list.

Anonymous said...

Also omitted was his pathetic attempt to restrict email access by another elected official.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You got me there. Will add.

Anonymous said...

Not to pile on but how about one of his first appointments - public defender? Poor choice of the husband of a sitting judge who would have faced substantial conflicts of interest if appointed. To his credit, Brown rebounded with an excellent 2nd choice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are correct.

Anonymous said...

He took 7 months to fill key cabinet positions.

Anonymous said...

How about a story on his past failures (illegal activity), in Bangor and whatever he did in Doylestown. The Bangor list is almost as long!

Anonymous said...

@2:32 AM There is no "open space tax" Yawn.

You need to get more sleep.
"County Council approved a $320 million budget Thursday that raises the property tax from 10.3 mills to 10.8 mills, with the extra money dedicated to open space in response to the public's demand"

Source http://articles.mcall.com/2006-12-15/news/3694943_1_open-space-tax-increase-tax-hike

Anonymous said...

Brown had no business experience that seems clear at this point. He was a "consultant" but we never knew where or for who. He sold us a bill of goods and now we are stuck with Mr. "Not ready for prime time" Brown. The people get what they deserve.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:54, contrary to popular opinion, I only can report on what I know. If you are unwilling to share your information, I suspect it lacks credibility. I'll stay with facts and leave the innuendo to you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:15, although Brown has abandoned open space, I did not raise this as a shortcoming bc he said it is temporary. I should add that the half mill tax for open space is not a dedicated tax. That is its weakness.

Anonymous said...

What is the Doylestown connection? This ominous specter has been raised before without any context. The poster needs to share his/her information or stop raising this phantom accusation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed. I am going to start deleting these accusations unless the accuser states the underlying facts. It is easy to make false accusations, especially when they are vague.i have already wasted a lot of time looking into this. No more of these comments without a clear explanation.

What we do know is bad enough.

Anonymous said...

I don't really see what the problem is...he operates like a typical Republican...cutting wages and benefits from workers and handing those taxpayer dollars to consultants and cronies...what's so hard to understand?

Anonymous said...

The poor people of NORCO didn't have much of a choice.

Anonymous said...

Keep pulling that "R" lever and watching Fox News and this is what you'll continue to get, you voted for this douche bag! This is what republicans do, they love small government, cutting services, and screwing the working man.

The Central Scritunizer said...

Brown also totally defunded farmland preservation, county parks and environmentally sensitive lands, and put $2.7m of our Open Space tax proceeds into the General Fund. This is unprecedented, irresponsible, and unethical.

I'm a Democrat: put that under the POSITIVE column!

The Central Scrutinizer said...

I don't really see what the problem is...he operates like a typical Republican...cutting wages and benefits from workers and handing those taxpayer dollars to consultants and cronies...what's so hard to understand?

Precisely. You vote for tea party types with no discernible experience (why is it so damned hard to find anything about his past and who voted for him not knowing anything about him?) and this is what you get. Repubs don't give a rat's ass about working people - especially not public employees. They are the drain on the economy, a scourge that needs to be eradicated. Why is it any wonder that those that despise government the most are the most horrible people at actually running it?

But don't let this stop you. Go out and vote in more Repubs tomorrow. The brain dead are all over the country repeatedly voting against their own interests.

Anonymous said...

This is the same blog that campaigned for the frat boy and guaranteed his easy victory right up until his crushing defeat. Enjoy tomorrow flea baggers! You earned it.

Tired of Being Broke said...

And his newer Health Care Plan is still terrible. He expects someone with a Family Plan to pay $5200. It doesn't matter if you earn 17,000 a year or $85,000 a year. Either way it's $5200. Where is the Common Sense in that.....There isn't !!! He honestly is starting to remind me of Hitler because Hitler was Legitimately Crazy but still managed to work his way up into having thousands of people do terrible things. I'm starting to see no difference between the two men. I'm embarrassed to have him running the County I live In!!!

Anonymous said...

My God, they never stop complaining..... wouldn't last five minutes in the private sector.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tired, the first person who mentions a Nazi loses. That's Godwin's Law. Let's not compare the Exec to a man who ruthlessly slaughtered at least six million innocent people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:34, if you're who I think you are, you did not last two days in the public sector and have gone thru about 50,000 private sector jobs.

Anonymous said...

Godwin's Law. You lose butt-head.

Agree with some of your gripes BO, but the health care proposal is in line with most private, non-profit, some public sector benefit plans. It's also necessary to reduce the county contribution to Gracedale where benefit costs are out of control.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, it is pretty outrageous bc it is coming from an Exec who wants to reduce other benefits and keep wages flat. It is also foolish bc it is going to drive health claims this year through the roof. I reject the notion that the public sector employee should serve as the least common denominator for compensation packages. The amount paid in salary and benefits should serve as an example to the private sector. You are instead suggesting that bc you get hosed, they should get hosed. What this means is you will get hosed even more. It is time to stop treating workers like shit, no matter whether they are private or public sector.

Anonymous said...

NORCO benefits (medical and leave time) are in line with both Lehigh and Monroe counties. Traditionally the salaries for workers are less than comparable jobs in the private sector. The newest plan to save the county worker for a year will still put NORCO way behind the other counties. Council should NOT approve this latest proposal without looking at the benefits offered at our neighboring counties. Mr. Brown’s initial misrepresentation was the ACA. I think that argument has been put to rest. The County’s current benefits do NOT put the county at risk for a tax scheduled to go into effect years from now. A $5,200 out of pocket max is still unaffordable for most county workers and our neighboring counties are not subjecting their employees to these burdens.

Anonymous said...

Has any County Executive ever been thrown out of office? How can we go about doing just that? Brown needs to go!!

Anonymous said...

John Brown is keeping his promise not to raise taxes. He is helping the taxpayer. You hate the guy because he cut off your special privileges.
You were anti-employee when Stoffa and Angle wanted to sell Gracedale. You attacked their benefits and their union. Now you want to play their messiah. You are a real hypocrite.

Fact is Brown is doing what he promised to do. If he can do it without raising our taxes he will win in four years by a landslide.

Employees always have the option of getting another job. Problem is most of these people are probably unemployable in the private sector.

Best county Executive in ages.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The above comment is brought to you by Tricia Mezzacappa, who lasted 1 1/2 days as a Gracedale employee.

Anonymous said...

You are so.....stupid! Do you really think this guy will ever win another public office? Might want to watch what you smoke.

Anonymous said...

The "proposed" budget is not acceptable, the plans moving forward are not acceptable, this exec is not acceptable. Northampton county employees, particularly nonunion employees do not have equitable salaries to the private sector or to other counties. To put the benefit change (which will save the county only pennies) is not for the good of the county. Its purpose is to hurt the workforce intentionally for reasons which we do not understand. This budget and this exec are damaging. Damaging not only to the employees it aims to harm but to the counties residents as well.
This administration has been given a lot of information which it continuously has chosen to ignore. There are major public safety issues which have been compromised and seasoned department heads have made Mr. Brown aware of these concerns. He chooses to ignore the issues and rule with his stubborn iron fist. This dictator and his plans are no good for this county. He has got to go and this budget cannot be passed.
The future of the county is at stake.
More needs to be learned about the concequencs of this budget. Council members are responsible for fully knowing what harm will be caused. Also, there have been no real facts presented by Mr. Brown and his team. He's trying to pull wool over the eyes of the council and of the tax payers.
Everyone who is able should be present at the last budget meeting on December 2 at 4:30 pm. Questions need to be answered. Generic answers without factual backing are not going to fly.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, can you do a piece on the referendum process?

Anonymous said...

7:52 is not this Mezzacappa, that is always O'Hare's fallback when he doesn't like the truth.

Facts are facts. County employees don't make less than their private counterparts. They may have twenty years ago but not anymore. There is no public safety issue if you do your jobs. If you can't do your job for whatever reason, leave and someone else will willingly jump in for the wages and bene's government people get. There are waiting lists of people without connections who have applied for county jobs.

It is still funny that a blog that attacked public employees as greedy a few years ago, now plays the violin for them. Amazing what a new fiscally responsible county executive can do.

Mot taxpayers and voters agree with John Brown. He was elected along with new Republican council members. This budget will pass and the world will not end.

Too bad you county folks aren't paying attention to political issues and believe voting is beneath you. The taxpayers did vote and this is the government we voted for. So suck it up you cupcakes you.

Anonymous said...

I'm 5:34 and have held my current, private sector position for 22 years. You dislike Brown because he refuses to acknowledge you're alive. No Tic Toc coffee and pie - nothing. He's sized you up as dishonest and he's right. I voted for Stoffa, Angle and Brown and would do it again. They all fought for taxpayers. They were called everything but their names by a vicious opposition. Stoffa and Angle humored you. Brown does not. That's the difference in your treatment of the three gentlemen. You handed your blog to Callahan and are still smarting from that idiocy. Get over it. And no, I'm not Messycrazy or the job jumper you suggest.

Anonymous said...

Which seats are up next year?

Anonymous said...

I seem to rember the taxpayers voted to keep Gracedale. Did you tea baggers forget that?

Anonymous said...

Werner,McClure,Kraft and Parsons are up for reelection

Bernie O'Hare said...

The comment at 8:35 is brought to uou by Mezzacappa as well. The hatred shines through. She has about 30 different names at Lehigh Valley Live. Lately, she is using "yforever", in the apparent hope she will remain young forever. But she's not young now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:39 is Mezzalooney, too. She does not realize I have more stories now than I ever did.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, can you do a piece on the referendum process?"

If you are referring to doing a recall by referendum, it is unconstitutional. There are only three ways to remove an elected official: 1) Governor seeks removal, and Senate concurs; 3) impeachment in the House, followed by conviction in the Senate; and 3) removal by the court after conviction of an infamous crime.

Anonymous said...

Brown must be getting great advice from his Cracker Jack Solicitor.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't think the Solicitor is advising him. Matt Deibert is doing that. The Solicitor is cleaning up Brown's messes.

Anonymous said...

NORCO benefits (medical and leave time) are in line with both Lehigh and Monroe counties.

False comparison. In Lehigh County the employees pay 20% of the benefit cost, not a percent of salary.

I seem to remember the taxpayers voted to keep Gracedale.

I don't recall them voting a blank check. Costs have to be brought in line with revenue. More functions needs to be privatized. $7.7 million loss is unacceptable.

The "proposed" budget is not acceptable.

It's not even legal. The LOC will have to be replaced by fund balance, a tax hike, or massive cuts.

Anonymous said...

"This budget will pass and the world will not end."

You're smoking something stronger than Dan's happy stick. This budget won't pass as is - it can't, and even R's on council know it.

Lighthouse said...

"John Brown. He has somehow managed, in ten short months, to make Democrats look pretty good by comparison."

Boy, so much can change. This time last year I was hearing from Dem friends that some were looking to have McC primaried. Now I hear Rep friends saying of Brown, "who is this guy?!"

There is only a few months to throw your hat in the ring before primary. I think Brown has helped to secure that all current Dems will be back on the ballot, and competent Republicans are understandably hesitant to get lumped in with Brown, et al. Brown is the face of the NorCo Republicans, so the public's perception of him will reflect on the current Council majority. Cheerleaders like Geissinger only reinforce that. I can think of a few from both parties who should consider, but doubt that they will.

Unfortunately, we may be looking at the status quo, to at best the slow evolution of Brown, for the next three years. Then? Will the Dems put up a strong slate to recapture the County, or will a certain Dem clique undermine the party with their intra-partisan divisiveness? Three years is a long time, and we'll have had the impact of a presidential election by then. Way too many variables to look into any crystal ball.

...at least us taxpayers are getting our bang for the buck with the Republican's publicly funded PR consultant. The public's perception of NorCo government is...

Anonymous said...

The Republicans will run people for the cocunty council seats in 2015. They have a great shot at taking at least two of the seats. A no tax increase budget is what the real voters will vote for and the Republican candidates will proudly run on that platform any day.

Anonymous said...

No reasonable person is asking for a blank check. Raise employee share of premiums. By the way at my salary I PAY MORE! Privatize things that can be at Gracedale. There are many was to trim costs that would make sense.

fletch said...

Bernie: you write that there are only 3 ways to remove an elected official, but wasn't district justice merlo an elected official and she was yanked off of the bench the old fashioned way: lynch mob. Although it was well deserved, it wasn't done any of the ways you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

My God, they never stop complaining..... wouldn't last five minutes in the private sector.

Because none of them ever worked in the private sector. Get your head out of your ass, Gomer.

Anonymous said...

8:39 PM - Is that ALL you vote for? Lower taxes? You are a selfish piece of shit. I fucking despise people like you that vote only on tax cuts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fletch, it is true that a judge can be reved by the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

Say what you want but the Fratboy ran the city well for 10 yrs. I will take that over this mess any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

No doubt everyone has seen the news that Lauer has found the $20m LOC illegal. McClure wants him to put forward a legal budget - sounds totally reasonable.