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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brown's Clown Car Continues in Reverse

Tony Pristash is a local business owner and member of Northampton Borough Council. He is also one of three at-large members on Northampton County's nine-person Gaming Board.  But if Executive John Brown has his way, Pristash will soon be gone.

Northampton County gets all kinds of money from the Sands Casino. In addition to a host fee, it also brings in about $1.6 million in slots tax revenue annually, and about $1.2 million in table games revenue. State law is pretty flexible about how the table games revenue is spent  But it is much stricter about slots revenue. Northampton County had to create the nine-person Gaming Board just to dole out the slots revenue. Priority must be given to grant requests from Bethlehem and other communities that are contiguous to host city Bethlehem. After all impact grants have been awarded, other communities can apply. Most years, the pie is gobbled up by the host and surrounding municipalities.

Pristash, as one of the three at-large members, has to watch as most of the grants are awarded elsewhere. This may seem unfair, but that's the way the law is written. But in his years on the gaming Board, he has never tried to sabotage grant applications or steer things unfairly. He has often been a voice of humor on a Board with a tedious and thankless task.

At yesterday's Personnel Committee, Brown proposed replacing Pristash with Cindy Miller, a well-regarded Supervisor from Lehigh Township. In response to questioning by Ken Kraft, Brown admitted that Pristash wanted to continue serving, but he wanted to replace him with Miller anyway to "mix it up."

Peg Ferraro stated that Cindy Miller would "be fine, but I also know that the person who has the job really wants it."

Ken Kraft, who serves as Council's liaison to the Gaming Board, agreed that Pristash is "very active, very involved."  

This appointment will now go to Council tonight without a recommendation.

It's unclear precisely what Brown has against Pristash, although it is perhaps because he was part of an unanimous Board that refused to replace Executive Director Karen Collis with Brown's DCED Director, Diane Donaher.

This nomination is almost certainly headed to defeat tonight, and this is yet another illustration of John Brown's poor leadership.

The Gaming Board appointment is not like a cabinet official, where an Executive appointment is entitled to great deference. In fact, the Gaming Board's enabling ordinance, which was drafted by Lamont McClure after several months of study and discussions with Council, specifically provides that it is intended to be an "independent" body. In the discussions leading up to the Ordinance's adoption, McClure made clear that it was his intent to make it as inclusive as possible. He noted that the County Council could serve as the Gaming Authority, but thought it important to give a voice to those on the ground to work together.

It appears that Brown, in complete defiance of this ordinance, wants to pack the Board with people who will do his bidding. This is an insult to Cindy Miller, who is nobody's puppet.

He has needlessly embarrassed her and Pristash, a volunteer who did his job.



Anonymous said...

Stoffa appointed the people he wanted, Brown has the same right. No one has a birthright or lock on any of those "appointments".. Over the years many people who didn't wan to leave various Boards were sent packing by every executive. This is nothing new.

If county council denies this out of spite it is more childish and partisan than Brown could ever be.

The Executive knew the reason Stoffa had Collis in that position and how she got her job, so he wanted to replace her. She ended up staying. So there is no bombshell there. Also I doubt you want to point o the entire Collis situation too deeply Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Why 4:36. Do fill us in on your Collis story, oh and sign your name so we know your not Glenn G or Allen

Bernie O'Hare said...

4:36 apparently cannot read. I just finished explaining that the Gaming Authority is an independent body, and was specifically designated as such. So he does not get who he wants. It is not likea cabinet position. He is not entitled to any deference in this kind of appointment. Cindy Miller is an excellent choice, but only if Pristash does not want the job. Now they are both being dragged thru the mud bc the Exec did not get this lined up in advance.

I also love how 4:36 insinuates something nefarious between Stoffa and Collis. That's really a slur oin her, and something she does not deserve. Although I'm sure Stoffa would admit it if confronted, he had no affair with Collis. Shit, I would admit to having an affair with her if I were confronted. She is the Susan Sarandon of the courthouse. But it would be a lie, just as 4:36's insinuation is a lie. But i'm sure Stoffa will love it. he's admitted to affairs with just about everyone, including me. That one is true.

Anonymous said...

Yea, if Brown thinks he's going to influence Cindy Miller to do anything against her ethics or principles he is out of his mind. I only know her in the context of Lehigh Twsp. Supervisor's meetings, and I don't always agree with her politics. But, she is smart, tough and principled for sure.

I quite like Tony Pristash too. Shame if he got forced out.

Anonymous said...

Good leaders retain good people who do their job regardless of party affiliation. There should be no agenda here. Seems this position is more about regional representation than it is political favoritism. That of course if you are a noble leader.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tony is an R, too, so this is quite bizarre. Typical Brown. "How to insult two people at once."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Cindy Miller would be excellent in that role, but she is not going to let anyone tell her what to do.

Anonymous said...

Collis was Stoff's administrative assistant in Lehigh County. That is widely known. She applied for a position in DCED and was hired, with or without Stoffa's influence. If Stoffa influenced the decision in any way, it was because he knew what a great asset she could be to the county. Anyone who knows her admires her hard work and professionalism. She has done a terrific job as administrator for the Gaming Commission as evidenced by their expression of total support of her services. Donaher just wants something else to do to occupy her time rather than focus on the job she was hired to do- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN NORTHAMPTON COUNTY. Under her leadership, not ONE JOB has been created in the county as a result of her bloated staff's efforts. She has taken over several divisions formerly under the Department of Administration to grow her influence and authority. These were divisions that were functioning perfectly fine without her. But now that she has her little empire she can look as busy as possible without any value-added outcomes. She should stay as far away from the Gaming Commission as possible. She has already fouled up with the grant application process. Now she is meddling with their administrative services from the county. Denise the Menace.

Anonymous said...

This is just like Facebook. People spouting off with authority about things they know nothing about.

Anonymous said...

I think the never ending attacks on Brown since his swearing in has resulted in attacks on other executives. Hate begets hate.

Anonymous said...

"he's admitted to affairs with just about everyone, including me. That one is true."

We all knew that already.

Anonymous said...

FY 2014-2015 netted $2,773,692 in Slots and $1,218,082. The receive 1% of the gross terminal (slots) revenue for hosting the facility. An additional 1% of gross terminal revenue is received for the purpose of municipal grants. Including FY 2014-2015, Northampton County has received a total of $19,710,634 ($15,437,396 slots, $4,273,238 tables). Northampton County Municipalities have also taken in over $7.8M in gaming proceeds from Monroe County.