Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Ferraro Out, Cusick In, as NorCo Council Prez


(The Dietz Family: Matt Dietz sits behind the dais for the first time, surrounded by his family. Sitting on his lap is his cute daughter Madison. The rest of the crew includes sons Brilynd and Cade, wife Lori and in-laws Karen and  Jeff Frack)

Elections have consequences. There's a new tea party faction on Northampton Council. It consists of Exec wannabe Hayden Phillips, Matt (that's two t's) Dietz, Mat (that's one t) Benol and Seth Vaughn. Their new leader? John Cusick. He's no tea party member himself, but is ambitious. He's walked right back into the Council President job he had when he left politics four years ago, fearful that his advocacy of Gracedale's sale would cost him an election. He managed to become President the same way he did in 2011 - by ousting the incumbent.

In 2011, that incumbent was Ron Angle. Cusick, along with Peg Ferraro and former Council member Tom Dietrich, were part of a bi-partisan sneak attack that removed Angle as President and replaced him with Cusick. This time, it was Peg Ferraro who was ousted. She was removed by the tea party elements within her own party.

Ferraro and Cusick have starkly different styles. Ferraro is known for a warm and engaging smile that makes nervous citizens feel at home when they come to Council with something that is important to them, even if no one else cares. Retired, she has time to attend numerous functions at which a Council president is expected to appear. Cusick, who teaches algebra in New Jersey and lives in Williams Township, has less time than Ferraro and is far less engaging, especially with members of the public.

Council members provided no explanation for their votes. It was a raw exercise of power.

Benol, who nominated Cusick, is the former Chair of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party and first became known in 2010 when he challenged Charlie Dent for U.S. Congress. He was defeated by a 4 to 1 margin. Hayden Phillips, rumored to be interested in running for Executive next year, has referred to himself as a "proud tea party member." Matt Dietz, who was supported by tea party members, has claimed that many Northampton County services are "ineffectual and ineffective. ... There is not always a need for government intervention." Seth Vaughn's significant other is an enthusiastic tea party member, and Vaughn appeared at a Bethlehem school board meeting last year to complain about taxes.

Ferraro was nominated by Glenn Geissinger, a Republican member of Council who is running for Congress.

Cusick attempted to vote for himself, but Ferraro challenged his vote because the Council President receives a slightly higher salary than other Council members, and the Ethics Act prohibits a Council member from voting in a matter in which he or she is financially interested. Despite Cusick's protests that Council has winked at this violation in the past, Solicitor Phil Lauer advised such a vote would be an illegal conflict of interest unless Cusick were to agree to waive his higher salary. Cusick indicated he would do so, and Ferraro made the same pledge before voting for herself.

This waiver of higher pay is common practice in Lehigh County, but Solicitor Lauer may pay a price for pointing out the law to an embarrassed Cucick, who tried to argue with him. The tea party faction has discussed removing Lauer, but has thus far failed to find a suitable replacement

The final tally was five votes for Cusick, including himself, and three votes for Ferraro. Cusick received the votes of the tea party faction, while Geissinger and Democrat Bob Werner voted for Ferraro.

Democrat Ken Kraft abstained.

Seth Vaughn was nominated for Vice President by Hayden Phillips, despite having only a 64% attendance record at Council last year.

Vaughn then muddied up the waters by nominating Glenn Geissinger, who has served as Vice President for the past two years. Geissinger declined the nomination,. He said he learned a great deal over the past two years, but told Cusick that it is "time that I allow somebody else to stand at your side."

Instead of thanking Geissinger or at least acknowledging his kind words, Cusick woodenly responded, "Mr. Geissinger has withdrawn."

Ken Kraft nominated Democrat Bob Werner, who is rumored to be interested in the Executive position That went nowhere. Only Ferraro and Kraft would vote for him. Werner even abstained from this vote. The remaining Council members voted for Vaughn.   .

Ferraro, who is normally mild mannered, was a bit miffed at her ouster, but noted she knows what it is like to lose an election. "It hurts. You feel betrayed in many ways" But she added she will move on. "Some of the best things in life happen after you lose an election," she said. She spoke of losing an Executive race in which her husband woke up blind on the day he was supposed to watch the polls. She said that loss enabled her to focus on her husband's recovery.

Cusick asked Council members to let him know the committees on which they'd like to serve.    

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

"County services are "ineffectual and ineffective."

Bernie, I am fascinated by this statement. Republicans have made it for years. Now the teapartykids are even more strident in their comments about their hatred of "wasteful over taxing" government. The weird thing is, does Dietz even know what the county really does? Does he know what they must do by law? Has he specifically pointed out how he can save money.

I mean this was the same garbage these boys peddled in 2013 and upon getting elected they promptly raised taxes 10%. Even the tea party king, Phillips wanted 20% more taxers.

What is the deal with Northampton County? Has the water gone bad? Have people totally lost their minds. Wasn't there a time when knowledgeable people of common sense were in office? Even if you didn't agree with them on everything they seemed to know what they were talking about.

Maybe we can get a do over on the 2013 election. Good Grief!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Council now has a seven to two Republican majority, and four of them are current or former tea party members. I expect to see them try out some of their limited government ideas.

Anonymous said...

This is absolute mess

Anonymous said...

are you fudging on cusick? wfmz says he is retired

Anonymous said...

Hokie Joe says:
Here's a point to ponder.........
The "Home Rule Charter" mandates County Council under Article VI, Section 602 Sub Para (13)establishes salaries and any remunerations, other than accountable expenses, for elected officials.................
ALSO....Article I titled Elected Officials Section 106 Compensation clearly states "The County Council shall have the power by ordinance to set the salary of each elected official. No ordinance shall increase or decrease the salary of an elected official during his term of office. No ordinance which increases or decreases the salary of an elected official shall take effect less than one (1) year after its date of enactment.
Since the ordinance to have the "President of Council" receive compensation ($500.00) more than the other members of Council was established in the late 1970's, and it was done by ordinance, and in accordance with the HOME RULE CHARTER and is now a "County Law", how can you change the compensation of the President of County Council. Quite simply put.....YOU CAN'T. Cusick is not voting to increase his salary under the Home Rule Charter. He is simply vying to serve as President of Council which according to all County Laws happens to pay more. He is entitled to the $500.00 wage which the law allows him to have. By not paying him the $500.00 Council is in violation of their own ordinance and County law.

Anonymous said...

Hokie Joe says.......
Gee..I forgot one other thing. When ever you are in doubt about what the authors of the "Northampton County Home Rule Charter" intended, you may sometimes find a clarification in Article XIII Transitional Provisions Section 1303 of the Home Rule Charter. Its states and is very clear....."Section 1305 Salaries of Elected Officials "The President of the County Council shall receive an additional ($500.00) per year as compensation for his responsibilities as presiding officer.
Give the man his $500.00 and obey the intent of the law. Cusick by law is entitled to the compensation and it was unfair to make him take a pledge not to accept the stipend. Damn it......the law is the law.

Anonymous said...

The best "limited government idea" in years was to sell Gracedale! Now, no one will touch that subject for years to come. Meanwhile, to subsidize that white elephant other mandated county programs must suffer.

Anonymous said...

Hokie Joe, if what you are saying is law and factual, and all of what you have stated here is not embellished in anyway, then someone on council was trying to railroad Cussick or simply trying to screw Cussick by not letting him vote for himself to be president.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hokie, It makes no difference what the HRC says. Irt is trumped by the Ethics Act. A council member may not vote on a matter in which he has a personal financial interest. Period.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"are you fudging on cusick? wfmz says he is retired"

If that is so, I stand corrected. But he seems a tad young to be retired.

Anonymous said...

Cusick was studying to become a school administrator. If that has changed the don't be surprised if he runs for CE in 2017.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Lets play nice- we are fortunate here in NC to have this talent that want to take charge. I think that these folks will be ok and if we have three people that always agree ---then we DON't need the other two. Cooperate don't fight. There is not enough money in the game . These people we have aligned are all good citizens. Mr. CUSICK is a professional and he is a leader in my humble book. Matt is a leader and the Colonel-a leader. Give the process a chance now. Math ,physics and chemistry teachers are not like the rest of the academia world anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty hard to play nice when Cusick aligns with the Tea Party faction against a popular Republican just to get the President role. It's a fairly honorary title and to remove Peg from that position shows the quality of Cusick's character.

Anonymous said...

Peg is far from honorable. Don't let the phony smile fool you.

Anonymous said...

Peg had her turn in office. Time to go. She was largely ineffective anyway. Seemed lost up there at times. Cusick knows what he is doing. Bernie doesn't like him because he runs meetings rather strictly, like a classroom. But the people's business should be efficient and not bogged down with sentimental slop that appeals only to pundits like O'Hare.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Anon 3;44 Character ----is what is happening now. To leave the same person as Pres. on council for extended time is to allow stagnate water in a lake or mayby in a pool. Peg has been an honorable representative, she was first elected back when only James Hemstreet an R was about the ONLY REPUBLICAN over at that big house. Peg has been a real asset and always a wonderful person--- but stuff changes and we need to accept that. These newer people have CHARACTER ,they are up and at them 05;00 hrs not 09;00 hrs like the old days. Peg your a great lady.

Anonymous said...

Northampton County government ahs really hit the teabagger jackpot. Colonel Klunker, Seth Bong and Mat Bunghole. We have them all. How the hell did the county decide to put these goof as in office? They are so high on themselves they have no concept of the responsibilities they have to the people.

Anonymous said...

As noted here..elections have consequences. These guys got elected by those who decided to show up and actually vote! Get over it and deal with the reality of democracy in action. If you don't like what happened..do something about it or sit down.

Peter J.Cochran said...

ANON 5;55 YOU most likely could not hold a candle to Clyde Apple much more these folks you degrade. And it's Matt with two t's .You might live ok- but all of them are on their own right success stories of their own right- and I will bet the farm they live better than you ---and me.Wait-- I will bet they will keep the sails trimmed in NORCO . Anytime more than ONE PERSON is operating a machine or guarding prisoners or copying documents ,you will develop waist by their ---not knowing what happens to the copy machine or how people are transported .We have BRIDGES that are used to conduct commerce that help pay taxes and are in repair or will need repair shortly . We have waist that will consume us, like any government has, if someone does not pay attention.I say they will.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:30, if you want to brag about being a teabagger that is your right. The proof is in the pudding. These teabaggers led by Colonel Klunker and endorsed by Ronnie delwhacko, has hired more county staff, upped pay and raised taxres by double digits. They are the teabaggers dream team?? Good for you, you are either as whacky as they are or just plain dumb. You probably are just a brain dead bagger who hates Democrats even if the Republicans you back do more harm. By the way it is "waste" not "waist" genius.

Peter J.Cochran said...

My pet peeve is tax free's Lafayette College in Easton that have too many legacy studants and fail to take care of evan local minorities -churches and other facilities that get away with contributions here in NC.Budgets are just that -but the senders of costs are us. The colleges are working off old rules of taxable property assessment for example -they are getting away with financial MURDER. THE STATE-or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should get with it --or die off shortly. Illinois ,for example does not exempt anything except their state college --this is the state our olestistris President is allegedly from -not Keanya -so you DEM's should lead by example.

Anonymous said...

Peter, try English for a change. Get a translator, for God's sake.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Maybe you right --the sunset here in South Carolina has affected me .I failed English in school but made it up in payroll and compensation.----

Peter J.Cochran said...

ANON 7[04 -Would you criticize a Black Man for the same mis -use of the English --or it it me. See this is blog and I;m on the phone you want to test my credibility Anon 7;04 have youR day.Me ,I BE simple and if you know me that's worst -get it.THIS IS NOT AN ENGLISH COMPOSITION.JERK OFF ANON. See -I sign my name aways here because I don;t regard myself a coward-- and if somebody wants me -----come get it.

Anonymous said...

Peter. Post your real name and address please.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter posts his real name and his address is in the book. We all know people like you, who can't even sign your names are too cowardly to confront the objects of your derision, face to face.