The problem with NorCo's DCED
Donaher became known for a rather imperious attitude. The most glaring example of this was the decision, which she apparently made on her own, to take control over nearly $500,000 in tourism grants awarded by Council each year. She knew better than the people's elected representatives, and even went so far as to contact grant recipients and tell them there would be no money.
When her grand plan became known, Council exploded. Brown quickly reversed her, although it was by then too late to award any grants last year. Brown assured Council that they, and not she, would have final say over hotel tax revenue.
Unfortunately, there are other examples of someone who seemed more focused on creating her own little fiefdom than in creating jobs or providing affordable housing. Like taking Bryan Cope out of Open Space, where he belongs. Or trying to take control over departments like the Conservation District, whose interests might at times be averse to hers Or scheduling a private meeting of all the authorities for the purpose of hiring a consultant, in blatant violation of the Sunshine Act.
Enter Timmy Herrlinger, a John Brown crony
It's no surprise that Donaher has resigned. In fact, when Brown decided to bring Deputy Director Timmy Herrlinger on board, she was among the last to know. She found out when IT called her about his phone. The writing was on the wall.
Herrlinger is a John Brown pal. Soon after his hire, he placed a sign over his office saying, "Do Not Disturb unless you are bleeding." He was writing. Perhaps he's doing his memoirs. When people ask him about different matters, his stock answer is, "I'll check this out with my friend, John."
LVEDC Morphs From Whipping Boy to Breath of Fresh Air
While all of this was going on, Don Cunningham and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) came into Northampton County recently like a breath of fresh air. For years, LVEDC has been Council's favorite whipping boy. Whether it has been Ron Angle or Wayne Grube, whether fair or unfair, LVEDC has always been blamed for driving development to Lehigh County. But after Cunningham's most recent report, I thought Bob Werner was wiping tears from his eyes. Cunningham presented a fact-driven speech demonstrating exactly what LVEDC has been doing over the past 18 months. He has even prepared brochures and videos to market the Slate Belt, Easton, Bethlehem and Northampton County.
The winds have shifted.
Brown himself seems uncertain whether he wants to continue with a bloated DCED department whose economic development function appears to be redundant with the work being performed by LVEDC. On May 11, he informed Council that his new Deputy Director Tim Herrlinger is now the Acting DCED Director, but has not increased his salary beyond the $72,623 at which he was hired, which is $3,000 more than Deputy Director Lori Szywensky was making when she left the County for Turning Point. Brown has not nominated Herrlinger as Donaher's successor.
While I have no idea what Brown is thinking, Council member Bob Werner has made pretty clear that he is disgusted by the County DCED. In his email to fellow Council members, he makes this specific complaint and request:
"[T]here has been little presence, if any, at our council or committee meetings and we have had little or no updates as to what has been accomplished or what the committee as a whole has done or is working on. I respectfully requested the Economic team 's presence at our May 5th council meeting.and no one showed. I am now requesting, with ample time in advance, to have all Economic team members at our next council meeting to respond [to] unanswered questions and concerns that still are open."Enter John Orsini the Meanie
I told you about this on Monday and yesterday. This was more than NorCo DCED Specialist John Orsini could bear. At 9:19 am, during business hours, he posted this personal attack, which even includes Council::
As one who works within this "bloated department", I have to say that the "bloat" is non-existent. The department is a consolidation of past functions that have been brought under one roof, and in fact has the same number of people that it had before the consolidation. I've been hearing from Bernie's trolls since I joined the department over a year ago, and have never been subjected to such lies, attacks and gossip. Bernie's trolls all have plenty to say that is not based on fact, only on innuendo, rumor, and unsubstantiated claims from people in various levels of the county and the community, and some I suspect, who may sit on the very Council that governs this county.At about 10:30 am, while I was working on a title search, Orsini confronted me in the Recorder of Deed's Office. I took it out into the hallway, and when I told him he has a bloated and ineffective department, he began poking me and telling me that I should be trying to get him more money.
If you're going to try to destroy someone's reputation, Bernie, at least meet that person face to face and form your own opinion. How many of us in DCED have you met? I walk past you every day in your pursuit of dirt. You don't know who I am or where I work. Why not? As an ex-lawyer, I'm sure you know that here in America, you're innocent until proven guilty.
The people of DCED are dedicated professionals who work hard every day to try and make the County a better place. If this is repulsive to some, then so be it. I would consider the source when reading this blog. So to all you anonymous cowards...IDENTIFY YOURSELVES AND BE KNOWN AS THE TROLLS THAT YOU ARE.
By the way, the only bloated thing around the county is Bernie...
(I will be surprised if you post this, in whole or in part, as it doesn't fit your style of character assassination)\
John Orsini, DCED Specialist
He then said he wanted to talk to me, but wanted me to agree that everything he says is confidential. I refused to give him confidentiality, but met him in a lounge so we could speak freely without disturbing others. But when I got him alone, he refused to tell me where he worked before coming to the county, how long he has worked here, or his salary. He said his comment was made from his smart phone at break time (9:15 am). He said he has flexible break times. My conversation in the lounge with him was at 10:40 am, and he said he was on break again. After the conversation was over, he came back to tell me, this time in the presence of others, that he understood why I hate government and that it must be tough to lose my law license.
Orsini is paid $46,017.30 per year, and has only been working for the county for a year. His LinkedIn page shows that he is a journeyman, never lasting very long in any one job.
And he won't be lasting that long at Northampton County. He confirmed he has given two week's notice, and may have helped himself out the door even sooner with his antics yesterday.
I hear there may be some slots open in Allentown.