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Friday, August 21, 2015

Executive Brown Commends West Easton Borough Council

John Brown
At the August 20 meeting of Northampton County Council, Executive John Brown expressed his appreciation to West Easton Borough Council for agreeing to the addition of low level offenders to the work release facility. The County had been averaging about 50 prisoners at this center, but by next week, there will be over 100 residents. "That will take some pressure off of the old portions of our current jail," he remarked.

Northampton County's jail, built in 1871, is one of the oldest in the nation. It cost $200,000 to build.

"I wanted to just publicly thank the Board from West Easton for allowing us, because without that change, we would be kind of where we were before," Brown remarked. "This is a huge step forward."

Brown also told Council that he is relaxing the agility testing for new corrections officers so that he can eliminate the nearly 40 vacancies among corrections officers.

Brown also reported that the County is participating in a joint study with Bethlehem, Lehigh County and Allentown to study the feasibility of a regional 911 center.

When Pat Broscius is sworn in as a Magisterial District Judge in January, she will have a courtroom and office in which to hear cases. It will be at the Trolley Station at 3650 Nazareth Pike,  the same place where Magisterial District Judge Joe Barner mediated disputes. By an 8-0 vote, Northampton County Council approved a 10-year lease for 2,520 sq ft of office space with Bethlehem Village Associates at a rate of $4,410 per month. Bethlehem Village will be responsible for most utilities and improvements.

In other business, Council approved some personnel requests. An accountant in Court Administration will be reclassified as a Court Fiscal Administrator with a top salary of $69,359. Sixteen part-time Registered Nurse Supervisors were approved at a salary of $29 per hour. These measures passed 8-0, but Mat Benol was troubled by a request to transfer a painter from Housekeeping at Gracedale into the Maintenance department and also, to add a second painting position at a top salary of $43,349.

Though this salary has already been set, Benol complained that taxpayers are really paying between $60,000-75,000 for these positions, when benefits are included.

"Yeah, but that's $10 below prevailing wage for what painters are paid in the county," responded Ken Kraft, a business agent with a local painters' union. "I was going to make a motion to increase the rate $10,000 more so it's equivalent to the prevailing wage rate for the county."

"$75,000 for a painter!" continued Benol, saying he'd prefer to have jail inmates do the work."This is just a lot of money that the county is spending." Executive John Brown observed that bringing people from the jail would actually cause more work than the painters themselves. "Sometimes, it makes sense to add a particular position," he argued.

Only Benol voted against the painting transfer and new hire.

Council voted 8-0 to approve two bridge repair contracts

The first of these was with Bi-State Construction Co.for stream and channel cleaning at three county bridges. Bi-State bid $82,875. for the work, which was much lower than a $210,932.17 bid.from Bill Anskis Company, Inc.

The second bridge contract was with Clearwater Construction,Inc. for a bituminous concrete overlay on eight county bridges. Continuous bid $228,805,00, which was lower than the $364,004.00 bid submitted by Barker and Barker Paving.

Seth Vaughn, who missed the committee meeting in which this purchase was discussed, asked Public Works Director Stan Rugis, "What's a bituminous concrete overlay?"

"Basically, it's asphalt."

"So these bridges are in need of it?"

"No, they're just doing it for fun," wisecracked Scott Parsons

 Finally, Council voted 6-2 to approve a no-bid contract with Xerox for blade servers and upgrades at a cost of $241,987.20. Xerox is the County's IT provider and is able to use Xerox' global reseller status for cost effective purchases. Glenn Geissinger and Benol voted against this purchase without explanation.

Lamont McClure was unable to attend the meeting as a result of a business conflict, and Glenn Geissinger participated by phone.  


Anonymous said...

No surprise on the West Easton jail. People know that would happen years ago when the last administration said it wouldn't.

Also too bad we had no real planning when we leased that monstrosity building in Bethlehem Twp. We could have put the District Magistrate office in there and saved a lot of dough.

Of course cost efficient planning was not the high mark of the Stoffa guys.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, before the age of Brown you made no excuses for McClure's habit of missing meetings. Now its business??

The guy is a lazy big mouth. he would be the Democratic equivalent of Brown but he is even to lazy for that.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think it is very interesting that we can add a painter at Gracedale but we can never add a maintenance person at the jail. There has been requests for years for a position but was always turned down. The jail is so understaffed and the buildings are crumbling down around them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:19, When McClure missed three meetings in a row, I tagged him. I have always tagged his poor attendance at committee meetings. But I did not think that his absence last night warranted more than a notation.

Anonymous said...

West Easton Council is an example from which any municipality could take a lesson in efficient governance.


Anonymous said...

Now people, Kraft and McClure are the cream of the crop of Northampton County Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the compliment 7:06

Anonymous said...

I hope west Easton knows that there are felons with drug records down there. The only reason the jail officials pushed for this was to close some posts so they need less officers. And I love how he takes credit for lowering the test requirements. It was the officers who pointed out the test was harder than the state police test. And the officers came up with the new test. Hopefully it helps cover the 40 spots that need to be filled.

Anonymous said...

Guess the illegal pay raises Brownie handed out to his cronies has faded into the sunset. Spineless Council did not have the willpower to keep his feet to the fire and rescind the raises. So clueless, unqualified Allen, who cheated on her expense accounts, was rewarded with a 14% raise, use of a county car, and private parking space and council just rolls over and lets it happen. Taxpayers of the county need to make their representatives accountable by demanding that their money be better spent than to unjustifiably give away raises to the county executive' favorites.

Anonymous said...

@4:14PM The election seems like forever away, but the best we can hope for is to kick Brown and Allen back to Bangor or whatever hole they came from.

Anonymous said...

So far there is no one that can beat Brown on the Dem side. All bush leaguers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are incorrect.

Anonymous said...

Like who?

Anonymous said...

Director Dan Keen lied to West Easton Council when he told them the facility is regularly manned by 3 Officers. He knows there are only 2 over-worked Officers posted in the West Easton facility making it an extremely unsafe place to live and work. The West Easton facility is a ticking time bomb. Just another example off John Brown sacrificing security for the almighty dollar. Director Keen...... I'm disappointed

Anonymous said...

"Like who?"

Certainly not any of the Dems on county council. They would be worse than Brown. Even Bernie knows that but his hatred of Brown won't let him admit it.

Anonymous said...

Can you count? There are only 4 Dem's on council. They are the minority party. The R's hold sway here and back Brown's every move for the most part so lay off the D's please. Point your finger in another direction for who to blame for JB's excesses.

Anonymous said...

2:58 PM ticking time bomb it would be more like a sparkler, everyone at the DUI center is eligible for work release. You're trying to make it sound like Attica or the movie the great escape they're digging tunnels lock your doors stay in your house.

Anonymous said...

Now that the CEC program has departed..things are calming down in W. Easton's facility. No more forced attendance at useless meetings and denial of work release to make it look like treatment was actually going on there in a jail setting. It's a jail and work release is the objective and getting people back into society. Call it minimum security and get on with the job at hand. W. Easton is in no danger. Anybody does run..they are running fast and away from the area.