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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bottom Feeding Blogger Visits Saucon Valley Country Club

Marc Troutman
Though it's missing a $7 million loan payment, the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority met yesterday at the private Saucon Valley Country Club. Its meeting was set for 9 am at the Weyhill House, which is at the end of an unmarked private road. After business was over, the Board was supposed to go on its annual "retreat." Aside from two members of the press, a waitress and I were the only members of the public who attended. She was there to keep their pastry plates filled and I was there to give them all indigestion. I had to go after reading that Board Chair was about to embark on yet another with hunt to determine who had leaked a story to me.

Mike Dowd gets some java
I was warned before going that I'd never get in the place because of some goofy dress code. One person said something to me, and  I replied that the Sunshine Act trumps the Saucon Valley Country Club. Two cops were there, and I thought they would try to toss me, but it turns out they were there because one of them was getting promoted.

There was a nice little breakfast buffet with assorted juices, coffee, pastries, bagels, toast, jams and things of that sort. But there was no extravagant display. That could have come later, during their "retreat," but I saw nothing outrageous. Most of the Board was there, with T.J. Rooney participating by phone and Anne Baum MIA.

During courtesy of the floor, I slammed them for conducting a public meeting at a private country club and also took them to task over the very obvious shenanigans being pulled in the selection of counsel. The wanted to replace Florio Perucci as their general counsel, and select as bond counsel a firm that is associated with Jean Everett, who just happens to be the wife of Airport Executive Director Charles Everett.

Until I was there, I had no idea that the attorney providing legal advice is none other than Bob Freedberg. He is a former Superior Court Judge and was president Judge in Northampton County. How they could even consider replacing someone of his caliber was beyond me. Freedberg has sentenced me to the electric chair several times, and I pointed that out, which seemed to make most of them happy.

They ultimately decided, on Jane Baker's motion, to table the selection of a new lawyer, especially after some board members claimed they had no real idea what was going on until they read about it in my blog.

Freedberg also instructed them that Everett would be unable to have anything to do with his wife's firm, if it is ultimately approved as bond counsel.

Chairman Marc Troutman did complain about the leak anf=d asked the offending board member to step forward. No one volunteered.

"This is terrible!" huffed Bert Daday, mouthpiece for the LV Partnership."This is a tragedy."

I was amazed at the amount of time spent discussing how to deal with public comment. Some of these guys seem genuinely terrified of we vulgari. Mike Schware proposed some amendments that would crack the door open just a wee bit for comments on agenda items. "We send a message to the public with the way we conduct meetings," he argued.

D'you think?

Most elected officials like Glenn Geissinger and Mike Dowd were all for more transparency. So were Ed Lozano, Bill Berger and an 18' tall board member whose name escapes me but should be in the NBA. In the end, Schware's move for more transparency was adopted 9-5.

The Board suffers from poor leadership. Troutman does not know how to run a meeting, and had to be reminded several times about proper procedures by Freedberg.

When they went into Executive session to discuss this and that, I ordered lunch and then got in a quick nine holes.


Anonymous said...

"A quick nine holes"? Doughnut holes off the buffant table? lol

Anonymous said...

Jeff Matskin.

Anonymous said...

What do the board members get paid for these type meetings? What is the annual pay?

Anonymous said...

You would think the members of Saucon could afford new curtains! Those curtains look 100 years old.

donmiles said...

Back in the late '70's when I was a new attorney, the Northampton County Bar Association had its meeting for the first time at Saucon Valley Country Club (when it was still the rural venue for Bethlehem Steel execs). I found myself walking up the front steps with the terrific trial attorney, Mark Refowich. I said to Mark as we entered, "You know, Mark, its a great country when an Irish Mic like me and a nice Jewish boy like you are finally allowed into this place." Mark growled back, "Well, f**k them and the limo they rode in on."
What a bizarre spot to hold a meeting of a public authority.
- Don

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What do the board members get paid for these type meetings? What is the annual pay?"

As you likely know, they get no salary. I assume most are doing it out of some sense of service, and i reminded them of that yesterday when I said they should never meet at a prviate facility.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Don, I think I heard Troutman tell Everett, "It's a good thing we're not Jews." The club has a history of discrimination, although I'm sure that's no longer true. In my father's time, membership was pretty much limited to WASPs (White Anglo Saxon pricks). It was a strange choice as a public meeting place. If they wanted to have a retreat, they could have rented a room at NCC for $50. Artsquest might have let them meet at no cost.

Anonymous said...

Artsquest doesn't do anything for free!

Bernie thanks for getting on this, more ridiculousness. It's getting tiring.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sometimes they do, Banker. I know they allowed ET to host a blogger forum at no charge a few years ago. Maybe that policy changed.

Anonymous said...

Wow - I've not only not heard that, I've seen they are very pricey.

Have to keep that in mind.

The Banker

King Allentown, Jr said...

The blogger forum brought together many of the greatest minds in the Lehigh Valley. It was a high watermark for ArtsQuest. they were wise to host it gratis.
-King Allentown, Jr

Anonymous said...

Gee, LVIA brings tourists to the Valley, Artsquest benefits from that. It is likely they would have hosted the retreat at no or little charge. And the NCC Gates Center is conveniently located and is a perfect site for a retreat. Not as posh or isolated as SVCC though. And at least whatever fees that are charged go to a NFP organization v. a highly-private country club.

Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry I asked you to park my car. You looked like a .... well, you know.