Next to the Executive, the most important position in Northampton County is the Director of Administration. The Director supervises numerous county departments, negotiates union contracts and handles relations with Council and other municipalities. The person who now occupies that position is someone with four tax liens. Her home is in foreclosure, too. Her education consists of a high school diploma. Aside from her 18 months of county experience, she worked in a two-man insurance office in which the other person was the boss.
Cathy Allen was confirmed by Council at their July 21 meeting as Interim Administrator for the next six months. Her salary will be $91,790 per year.
At the time of her confirmation hearing, Allen was facing a foreclosure action of her Bangor home. A records search at the courthouse she will supervise shows the following judgments that were still open at the time of her confirmation:
1) IRS v.Catherine Allen (Klages), 2008-FT-1338, filed 12/22/08, for $51,414.69 in unpaid income taxes (1040) in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
2) IRS v.Catherine Allen (Klages), 2011-FT-3697, filed 4/25/11, for $6,060.33 in unpaid income taxes (1040) in 2007.
3) Pa. Dept of Revenue v. Catherine Allen-Klages, 2015-J-8690, filed 9/23/15, for $1,551.15, in unpaid personal income tax in 2008.
4) Pa. Dept of Revenue v. Catherine Allen-Klages, 2015-J-11366, filed 12/7/15, for $1,857.99, in unpaid personal income tax in 2010.
The only Council member who seemed bothered by her financial history was Hayden Phillips. "Can you shed some light on that and how it came about?" he asked Allen. "In working with my attorney, and we've been working on this for quite a few years, he advised me not to speak about it in public, so I cannot give you an answer at this time," she answered.
Essentially, she took the Fifth.
Other Council members lobbed softballs. "Over the past 2 1/2 years, you have gained a great deal of experience," said Glenn Geissinger, a John Brown ally who can counted on to support. Noting that former Gracedale Administrator D. Freeman spoke on Allen's behalf, he added, "That speaks volumes."
Allen said that her work would be a "reflection of what the Executive wants done."
Seth Vaughn complimented Allen for her work with the unions and reminded everyone that she had been praised by Justus James, something she had never heard him do for anyone else.
"Especially a Republican," added Allen.
When it came to a vote, Allen's appointment was supported by Geissinger, Vaughn, John Cusick, Peg Ferraro and Mat Benol. Hayden Phillips and Matt Dietz voted No. Ken Kraft, who believes that Council should have no say over interim director appointments despite a contrary ruling from Council Solicitor Phil Lauer, voted "present." That is the equivalent of a No.
Council member Bob Werner was absent.
So by a 5 to 2 vote, with one member voting present, Northampton County Council has installed a tax deadbeat in foreclosure to the second highest ranking position in the County, despite a lack of education and minimal experience.
John Brown is running for state auditor general, a position that ensures that public money is being spent appropriately. He apparently sees nothing wrong with hiring a tax deadbeat in foreclosure to the second highest position in a $330 million operation. The five Council members who voted for her have a fiduciary obligation to the public that was very poorly served by this vote.