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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

NorCo Council Needs To Hear From Its Centurions

Several years ago, Ron Angle was able to cobble together a Budget after meeting with the court and Budget Administrator. It sailed through a veteran council without the need for budget hearings. John Cusick at the time complained that this deprived council of their annual opportunity to meet with the workers. I didn't think much of Cusick's comments at the time, but am amazed at how much smarter he appears to be now. Executive John Brown has directed most employees to stay away from the Budget Hearings, and this hurts both them and a new Council that is just getting used to the job.

An example of this came into play last week, when Council was discussing the Louise Moore Pine Mansion. Why were offices being planned? Does this comply with the terms of her trust and will? Nobody really had any answers.

The one person who could have answered all questions, Parks Director Gortie Heller, was directed to stay away. He could have explained the deplorable conditions in which his workers are currently housed.  He could have told them about the Graystone Building, where there are no elevator. But he didn';t because he was not there.

Doran J. Hamann, the mensat Budget Administrator who's been a fixture at every Budget hearing i can remember from years past, is missing. And when questions about the Budget arise, questions he can answer in 15 seconds,, Council is greeted with "I don't knows" from a Cabinet as inexperienced as they are.

Human Services sages like Kevin Dolan, who heads up CYF, were told their services won't be needed. This, they had no opportunity to tell Council about what is going on in their departments, and whether what their bosses are saying is really true.

It's not.

Luis Campos, Director of Administration, claimed all problems in the Civil Division will be solved with new software. That's just completely untrue. That office has lost all four of its deputies. Thanks to John Brown, they're retiring. Another four are gone. The office is down eight people.

Diane Donaher completely misrepresented that the nearly $3 million in table games money is under the control of the gaming Board. Wrong. It's a slush fund under the control of the Executive.

The only place that sent its own people (other than independently elected officials) is the jail. And when Arnie Matos honestly reported that there';s a shortage, Glenn Geissinger tried to argue the point.

For some reason, Brown is keeping department heads and other employees I like to call out centurions, away from Council. That is a disservice to both.

The Roman Legion under Gaius Marius was perhaps the greatest army that existed, and that is because of the centurion. That's the equivalent of today's noncom or department head. You need to listen to them, as Gaius did and Julius Caeser did.

Today's new Council doesn't even know who they are, let alone listen to them.


Anonymous said...

Bulls Eye Bernie! right on target !

Anonymous said...

This is just plain poor government. Brown is making a tough situation even worse with his lack of transparency about county government and how it is funded. It is common practice in Bethlehem City to be sure, that all dept. heads present and stand for questions from council. They need to hear it from the "horse's mouth" as it were to gain a better understanding of the departments and their funding "must haves" as well as their "wish lists". Brown's bad governance is exacerbated by putting his inexperienced administration at the forefront so that nothing about the county's needs is actually understood by council or the public. Big BAD John Brown....when is this guy gonna learn?

Anonymous said...

Good reporting.

Anonymous said...

He is Gordie short for Gordon. You must be thinking of Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still.! But you are correct. Division heads were told not to attend the hearings, which was a disservice to council and the public.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct. There is only one exception I can think of. Maria Bentzoni was in the audience at the first meeting, and when questions arose over the entirely misleading (and impossible) budget figure of $3.9m for farmland preservation for 2015, one council member asked Maria to confirm the status of the $3.9m. She reported it is "encumbered" and already earmarked to be spent - council was thus able to hear there in fact is $0 budgeted for 2015. Councilman Phillips was under the impression these were all "new" funds (not realizing the figure could not be over $2.7m in the best cast), when in fact the exact opposite was true.

At the last budget meeting, several questions by council members of those standing at the podium were met with "I don't know" "I'll look into that" etc. It was disgraceful. Brownie should have people there to answer questions. It's all smoke and mirrors and a line of credit. We elected this buffoon.

Anonymous said...

Council members danced around for a half hour about the Louise Moore bequest when Gordie could have answered all of their questions in 10 minutes. Rich Young and Brown made stuff up as they went along.

Anonymous said...

Correct Bernie and those you mention will be the first to get thrown under the bus by the current fools in charge.

Anonymous said...

Many pro John Brown posts removed. What is the fear? The fact is taxpayers overwhelmingly approve of his no tax budget. He is cleaning up the fiscal mess he was left with. Brown is telling employees that he will stop giving away the store.

A 90-10 plan is very fair.
County employees have job security, great benefits and a guaranteed pension. If you don't like it leave. There are many people who would jump at the jobs.
I guess now that you are for the employees, you only wan to hear bad things about John Brown.

Anonymous said...

To 1:21 PM

Not everyone has job security at the County. Politics plays a part with those positions even though they shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Brownie wants to treat his employees like mushrooms. Keep them in the dark and shovel shit on them. He thinks he's Caesar. But he acts like Sid Caesar. A bad comedy act for sure.

Anonymous said...

3:11 will be here all night and at the best western on 512 from Nov 11th through to the 15th

Anonymous said...

No, actually the Hampton Inn in Easton Nov. 12-16. My opening act will be Caesar Brown and His Centurions.

Anonymous said...

John Bown is keeping my taxes down. He has my vote and many others. As do the Republicans on county council.

Anonymous said...

The"many"votes are declining daily. He is a one-termer. Period.

Anonymous said...

John Brown is keeping your taxes down? Good for you. Look how that worked out for Corbett - it didn't. Keeping taxes in check is great, but not at the expense of axing needed services and programs.

Brown is an amateur surrounded by amateurs he appointed. Nowhere more evident than the $20m line of credit to balance the budget.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Although I agree with you Bernie about his deployment methods and his appointment and other general issues, NORCO $320,000,000 BUDGET WITH 300,000 PEOPLE ,WOW-man woman and child most don't pay taxes ,land owners and others ,federal gov't --I can see his point. Prison should be run like a Marine Corps Red Line Brig and that will cut the recidivism for-sure nobody ever wants to return. They would sooner move away. GUARANTEED

Anonymous said...

Lighten up, Francis!

Anonymous said...

Lauer says it's illegal..Victor says it is legal. We have a problem NH county! This is no way to run a business/county. What now? Who's gonna blink?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brown: NorCo is not a "play date". You are not a super hero--super heroes are not defendants.

You can throw a tantrum and bully people into staying away, but you will still get sued and be vilified. But far worse: your incompetence makes life utterly miserable for your employees and will cost your tax payers many times the amount you promised to save.

Reading list: HRC (stands for Home Rule Charter); Bernie can direct you to the new book: "Open Meetings for Dummies".

p.s. where is your solicitor? Open Meetings statute--it's a law--that's what he is supposed to be doing. ---Can't have everything though and he is a financial whiz. Oh--right---budget was illegal. well, he's a contract guy....oh--right sued over a couple of those too.

Thank God for Phil Lauer.