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Thursday, April 02, 2015

McClure: Some Things Are Sacred in County Gov't

In his recent State of the County address, Northampton County Executive John Brown stated that "[t]here are no sacred cows. There's nothing sacred although a lot of departments think they are." In response to questions from Scott Parsons during last night's Council meeting, Brown denied that he meant to include employees in that category. And last night, Lamont McClure made clear that there actually are some sacred cows. They include our elections process as well as at-risk children and seniors. He is deeply concerned about a recent report prepared by the Brown administration, noting that 12.4% of the county workforce positions are vacant. Those include 133.5 vacancies in human services, which serve neglected and abused children and seniors.


Elections are administered by the Northampton County Elections Commission. "It is one of the fundamental things we do," noted McClure. "I always think it is very risky to be penny wise and pound foolish."

McClure was speaking about Brown's plan to have maintenance employees move voting machines to 149 different different precincts. This would save about $40,000 per year, which is what it costs to have Frick Transfer, a bonded moving company, make these deliveries.

Ken Kraft, a former Chair of the Elections Commission, noted Brown made this decision without consulting that body, which is charged by state law with administering elections. Brown then claimed that the idea actually originated with Voting Registrar Dee Rumsey herself.

Rumsey was not present at this meeting to confirm or deny Brown's charge.

Kraft complained that this was tried once before and "was a disaster." He added this comes at a time when the County already is short-staffed, noting the number of vacant jobs

Mr. Kraft, I don't believe the comment that they're already short-staffed is appropriate," huffed Brown.

"Well, I've been hearing that from all the departments that we're short-staffed, and people are overworked and trying to get the job done, and that we have lines in places, and now we're going to take people out to deliver election machines" responded Kraft."It just doesn't make sense to me."

"Thank you for your opinion," snarked Brown.

The Elections Commission, made up of three Republicans and two Democrats, will weigh in with their own opinion at noon today.

At-Risk Children and Seniors

Noting the number of vacancies in Children and Youth (CYF), McClure flatly observed that it puts "children are at risk." He also pointed to the large number of vacancies at Area Agency on Aging, which is down 5.25 case managers.

"That is unbelievable to me," declared McClure. "This is not good government. I understand that there are in management text books the concept that there should be no sacred cows. But our vulnerable children and our elderly are sacred. They need to be protected. These positions need to be filled and they need to be filled now."

"Thank you, I agree with you; do you have a question?" snapped Brown.

"Are you going to fill them?" asked McClure.

There were several answers, depending on who was asking the questions.

We Are Not Dawdling

"Those positions, when they come to my desk, get signed immediately," Brown assured McClure. "We're not holding them out." But Brown and Human Services Director Allison Frantz explained that the hiring process for these positions, most of which are civil service, can take up to 150 days. Frantz assured McClure that division heads are working "very hard"to fill vacancies. "[I]t absolutely does affect our ability to provide services to the community, and it affects the morale with the other workers."

"We are not dawdling," she insisted. She acknowledged, in response to questions from Ken Kraft, that starting salaries might be too low.

Frantz was unable to state how many people are in the pipeline to fill these vacancies. "This has to be a top priority,"complained McClure, adding that existing staff can only visit so many homes in a day. Frantz responded that her staff meets state regulations regarding response times.

We Evaluate each Vacancy

After assuring McClure that she's doing everything she can, Frantz gave what seems to be different answers to suggestions from Mat Benol, the former Chair of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party. He proposed an analysis "to see how many positions need to be filled." Noting the increased use of technology, he suggested that employees could be shuffled from one department to another.

"Absolutely," answered Frantz. "Whenever a position is open, we evaluate to determine what we can do better, differently," she told Benol. That is more in line with what Brown told an audience just one week earlier, during his State of the County address.

Does Anybody have Something That's Actually New?

Glenn Geissinger, who was chairing the meeting for an absent Peg Ferraro, tried to sum things up. He stated there may be flaws in the hiring system and that starting salaries might be too low.

"Now does anybody have anything that's actually new?" he pleaded,

A perplexed McClure observed that the Human Services Director had just acknowledged she is unaware how many people are in the pipeline to fill vacancies at Children and Youth and Area Agency on Aging.

"You don't see that as a problem," he asked.

"I would prefer that you not put words in my mouth, Mr. McClure," responded Geissinger, who earlier that night had led everyone in prayer.

Except me.

I sat on my ass.


Anonymous said...

I have never done this before, but I must compliment Lamont for taking up this battle.

It's time more Councilmember's remind the Emperor that he has no clothes.

Lamont should take his message to the people and inspire them to demand more of Brown. If he can do that, he can run successfully for county exec - and I never once thought I would use those words in the same sentence.

Yes, I am also aware of McClure's shortcomings and past actions, but what's the rest of the Northampton County Democratic Committee doing to resolve this fiasco? Why don't we see press releases from Mr Garvin decrying the state of affairs at the courthouse offices? Why aren't we seeing some Democrats emerging as executive candidates?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Brown has managed to make Lamont look pretty good. I never thought I'd be complimenting him either. Garvin is no longer party boss. That is now Matt Munsey.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale. Gracedale. Gracedale.

Anonymous said...

One thing to report is that the county republican party is at wits end with Brown and his tactics. BO is correct saying that McLure is now looking pretty good. The party is beyond nervous and actually frantic that the Democrats will win the up for grab seats on council this year all because of Brown's lack of experience, wisdom and tact in being able to run local government. Signed, NORCO Republican Party Committee Person.

Anonymous said...

6:44:. We can only pray that the D candidates win.

Anonymous said...

john brown forgets he represents all of us taxpayers in this County our elderly and children are a top priority !the more I look at what he has done to the county the sicker I get watching this bumbling fool !

Anonymous said...

just two union crybabies flapping their gums

Anonymous said...

This is all about Gracedale. Elections have consequences. Figuring out how to pay for Gracedale will color every other financial decision the county makes. Gracedale comes first. Everything and everybody else is secondary. Elections have consequences.

Anonymous said...

This is the America the Tea Baggers want. Let the children and elderly pick themselves up by their bootstraps. And to the workforce: do more for less and don't ask questions.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale. Gracedale. Gracedale.

Raise taxes, Gomer.

Anonymous said...

How is this different or worse than when John Stoffa went after the Director of Elections. He didn't like her and put together a Kangaroo court to muddy her reputation. His vendetta eventually led to her resignation. Yet here you are still trying to slam Mr. Brown. People know your game.

Um, your anecdote talks about one person and this story talks about hundreds of job vacancies that are not being filled because salaries are too low and/or Brown is tea bagging them. I don't see any similarities at all.

Anonymous said...

Gracedale will require regular tax increases and continued budget cutting. It's a promise to future generations and everybody must contribute. Money doesn't grow on trees. Tax increases and budget cuts should be followed by more tax increases and more budget cuts. Everybody must give until it hurts. That's the promise we made to our seniors. We cannot let them be thrown on the streets to suffer and die. Their lives are worth more than any taxpayer's next fancy dinner or employees' new car payment or retirement at 65. We're all in this together.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you defended Rumsey now it appears it was SHE who suggested the change. I cannot believe she would compromise the integrity of the voting process to score some brownie points with her boss. I have lost all respect for her.

Anonymous said...

dee Rumsey may have made the suggestion , that doesn't mean anything to me , john brown should no better!

Anonymous said...

3:33 I understand she left for a better paying job in North Carolina, and now is back in Northampton County with even a better paying job. The first person who took her job couldn't tell the difference between a typewriter and a keyboard. $$,$$$ 9:45 you have no idea what you're talking about, it's not up to Dee to make suggestion's about voting machine's, her's responsibility is the VOTER'S. The Voter Registration Office is out of Control.

Anonymous said...

It is quite likely that Rumsey made the suggestion about county employees moving voting machines without consulting with the commission first. The Elections Commission seems to be a rubber-stamp body that goes along with whatever Rumsey recommends. Let's hope on this case they show some integrity and oppose this farce.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't believe Dee Rumsey really made this suggestion, or if she did, it was under duress. We swill find out.

Anonymous said...

"john brown should no better!"

Well stated.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Unless I am writing specifically about Gracedale, I must insist that those who speak about it identify themselves. There have been too many trolls on both sides of that question.

Anonymous said...

Par for the Brown course on vacancies and absurd analysis.

Mr. Brown and his Aministration repeatedly demonstrate they are the least prepared, most incompetent, outrageously ignorant County Executive team in the history of both Counties' respective Home Rule Charters.

I will write it until he and his ilk leave the Courthouse-- this would not be happening if John Callahan had been elected.

Anonymous said...

go back to a 3-commissioner form of county government...

Anonymous said...

The Democratic Party in the county doesn't give 2 shits about munis. They haven't for a good decade or more, and current actions are showing that nothing will change. The hope was that with different leadership on the committee, we'd see a stronger push for the local candidates, but bitching about by-laws and only worrying about bus trips with Cartwright to DC seem to be the only things this group of Dems feel is important. You reap what you sow.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. The new leadership of the county Dem. party does care and have been active as to the coming 2015 muni' races. They will be more public after the primaries take place. Matt is doing a good job and his efforts are appreciated already.