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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, November 17, 2014

NorCo Refuses to Produce Any Emails With Cost Control Consultant

According to the Commonwealth Court, our Right To Know Law is "designed to promote access to official government information in order to prohibit secrets, scrutinize the actions of public officials and make public officials accountable for their actions.” But in The People's Republic of Northampton County, it might as well be called the Right-Not-To-Know Law. Northampton County is refusing to supply any of the emails between its staff and an outside cost control consultant. It's the same outfit that advised Executive John Brown to help balance his budget by squeezing the worker. The County would prefer to keep the public in the dark

The C3 Group, a Scranton area-based company, is the cost control consultant that Northampton County Executive John Brown hired to come up with a new health care plan that digs deep into the pockets of county workers. Its employees sat in in several meetings with employees to discuss these reductions.. In response to questions at one meeting, C3 employee Colin Healey told a worker, "Nobody subpoenaed you to work here."

On October 9, I filed a RTK request with the County seeking the following:
1) All Contracts between Northampton County and C3 Group, LLC, from the time Executive John Brown was installed to the present.

2) All email correspondence between C3Group, LLC, representatives and andy [sic] employees of Northampton County during 2014.
RTK Officer, Daniel O'Donnell, Esq., invoked an automatic 30-day extension until November 15. He then responded timely, on November 14. He supplied the three contracts about which I've already written.  But he refuses to produce a single email.

Not one.

He raises seven different exemptions outlined in Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law. He claims disclosure will reveal medical histories; labor relations and negotiations; drafts of policies; internal, predecisional deliberations; insurance proposals; notes prepared by county employees for personal use; and risk management related documents.

That's bullshit.  There is simply no way that all emails are privileged, nor do I believe most of these exemptions are applicable. They are simply speed blocks thrown up by an administration that lacks transparency.

This denial will be appealed. I will demanding in camera review, which means the County is going to have to produce all emails for inspection by the Office of Open Records.

The one exemption I find particularly insulting is the claim that these emails are part of labor negotiations. Negotiations require more than one person. Brown's problem all along has been his refusal to negotiate. he just waved his sceptre and imposed draconian health plan reductions unilaterally.

Also, it's amazing that he could call these internal predecisional deliberations. The C3 Group is not part of the County government. The company is an external company, as are all the other consultants he's hired.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Big swing and a miss Bernie. How disappointing. We expected you would dig up the dirt on this underhanded contract. But this roadblock is what we must expect from the sinister Brown administration. They screwed up once again and are trying to hide the evidence. Don't give up! Your readers and citizens of the county have a right to know what kind of scam Brownie and his minions are running.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

2:14 a.m. get a life.

bored to death said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

what a shock from this administration!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Two comments with personal attacks have been deleted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"what a shock from this administration!"

The response fails to number the correspondence or indicate, in any way, that which exceptions apply to which emails. It stretches credulity to suggest that all emails and other correspondence are exempt.

Anonymous said...

BOH owned by Bangor Brownie! This guy is a douchebag.

Anonymous said...

(Brown is the douchebag, in case there was confusion.)

Matt M. said...

This is what happens when you demand a Government be run like a business. Your tax payers monies become "none of your business." Even shareholders of companies get more information than we do right now....

Anonymous said...

We'll eventually learn that this is NorCo's Gruber moment. Those who think they know better will lie to get their policies enacted. Obamacare has been shown to be a complete wasteful fraud. This administration is a complete, wasteful fraud. Keep digging Bernie. It's too bad you and others didn't do the same thing when Gruber was using a friendly media like trained monkeys.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I always opposed Obamacare. I have no idea who Gruber is. If you are referring to Wayne Grube, he and I had a love-hate relationship. I loved him and he hated me.

The Sons of Liberty said...

It seems to me that John Clown forgot he no longer works in the private sector and his emails are now subject to RKO.......the countdown is now on for the Morganelli press conference anouncing charges against this dildo. You heard it here first!

The Sons of Liberty said...

Sorry that was RTK not RKO The Sons of Liberty are sorry

Anonymous said...

This has been JBs problem from the beginning. That you Bernie on behalf of those who have no voice.

Anonymous said...

No one is voiceless in America. Fear of reprisals is real. Whistleblower protection does exist. It's a matter of how much are you willing to risk in the pursuit of the truth? Not everyone has the same risk threshold. Do what you can under your own circumstances. Work the system. In the end..the truth does win out. Power to the people of NH county.

Anonymous said...

they apparently have plenty to hide !

Anonymous said...

Transparency is a dirty word to those with a lot to hide. JB is a secrecy freak and a tiger does not change his stripes..ever. Nothing has changed since he emerged on the political scene. It is a vicious business model he uses and believes in to a fault. He will run anyone over who gets in his way unless you create roadblocks. Bernie is doing all that he can to slow down this run away freight train of conservative crap. Tear up the tracks..

Anonymous said...

Gutless jerks. If they won't release the emails it means there are dirty dealings. Period. If there is concern over confidential information, it can be blacked out. This administration is dirty. The may as well be the mafia. The rule with brutality and force. They have no concern for the employee, tax payer or the county. I would not be at all surprised if there are behind the curtain dealings going on with the gas companies and other corperations. Open space/farm land?=gas company and corperate space. Employee benefits =capatilizing through insurance and investments. They have a lot to hide and this move proves it. They are nothing more than bad business extortionists who plan to fuck up this county and move on to their next conquest. Just wait tax payers and business leaders. This plan is not done yet and you will get played and abused just like the hard workers of Northampton county who serve you, your families, neighbors and friends. After they dismantle us you will all be next. This is not crazy talk. This is reality.
But if you believe that it is crazy, the tax payer and business ought to demand the emails and plans going on behind closed and sheriff guarded doors. I'm sure since Mr. Brown is an alky to the tax payer he'd be happy to oblige. Right sir?

Anonymous said...

There absolutely need to be reprocussions in this case. If I were the DA I think I would consider obstruction of justice...but I'm not a lawyer. This is government. Not business. The law is real and needs to followed. When an oath is taken for public office it is to swear that you will be truthful fair and work in the best interest of your constituents. If that is the case there is nothing to hide. Brown is hiding information. C3 is hiding information. If that is a wrong assumption then release the information per the RTK which is the LAW. THIS IS BULLSHIT, SHADY AND CORRUPT. I'm sure the attorney general once she's settled in would be interested in taking a stab at this one...
Brown might just come to realize how connected and intelligent his "most valuable assets" really are. Dictators don't win and they do get over thrown.

Bill Coker said...

Gruber was an advisor to Obama for the Affordable Health Care Act who was quoted as saying Obama keep certain things vague to take advantage of the "stupidity" of the average voter.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh, that Gruber. Yeah, I've been following that situation. It's sad, Bill.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04 and 10:25 tell us what you REALLY think! You are spot on articulate about the shady, unethical, and arrogant Brown administration. Ad incompetent to that list for the way they presented next year's budget. The Controller should join forces with the DA's office to demand a higher level of transparency from Brown and his minions. Taxpayers and citizens of the county are entitled to the truth.

Anonymous said...

What medical records could be included? No one has the right to my medical records but my doctor and insurance co to pay the bills. Hope there is a HIPPA violation here so we can call in the feds!

Anonymous said...

True