Weaver, who had been earning $76,351.81 per year, will now see a $91,051 salary. At the beginning of next year, Weaver's wages will shoot up another three percent to $93,782. Thanks to Northampton County Council, a county employee in possible violation of the state ethics act will see his wages increase by $17,431, or 23%, in just two weeks.
Council's agenda for yesterday's meeting was only published on December 14, the day before the meeting. It indicated that Council would consider a "Director of Emergency Management Services Resolution," but no further detail was provided. The resolution itself was never attached to the agenda, in effect keeping the public in the dark.
It took a call to the Council Clerk's office to discover that Executive John Brown had just appointed Weaver as Director of Emergency Services, and was seeking a significant increase in salary for him. It took just a few more calls to learn that Weaver is in possible violation of the state ethics act.
Every year, Northampton County spends about $100,000 for training in emergency services. That's the result of a contract with Northampton County Fire School. Though Executive John Brown enters into the contract, it is the Director of Emergency Services who approves the invoices. Since May 2, 2015, that person has been Todd Weaver. He had been Acting Director after Bob Mateff's departure for the state. On Wednesday, he agreed to become the permanent Director.
Here's the problem. Todd's father, former NorCo Council member Rick Weaver, is the Director of the fire school. He's also an instructor, as is Todd Weaver himself. For the past 18 months, Weaver has been approving invoices submitted by his father. He may have even been approving his own invoices.
This is a conflict of interest in violation of the state ethics act.
Our state legislature has said that "public office is a public trust and that any effort to realize personal financial gain through public office other than compensation provided by law is a violation of that trust." When he approved payments to his father and possibly himself, Weaver violated that public trust.
According to the state ethics act, a “conflict” or “conflict of interest” occurs whenever a public employee uses the authority of his office for the private pecuniary benefit of himself, a member of his immediate family or a business with which he or a member of his immediate family is associated. Weaver has been using the authority of his office to approve payments to his father and to a business with which he is associated. He may even be approving payments to himself.
NorCo Controller Steve Barron waved this red flag to Council yesterday. He suggested a brief delay in the appointment so he could further investigate. In the minutes that he had to review the records, he found invoices to Weaver's father that had been approved, although he found none to Todd himself.
The Controller was thanked and politely ignored.
Executive John Brown said there is no conflict because he approved the contract. Brown is dead wrong. Weaver approves the invoices, not Brown, and that is where the conflict occurs.
This conflict has never been publicly disclosed.
Brown, who has failed to fill the Director of Emergency Services slot for 18 months, is suddenly in a rush.
Council, which is supposed to provide a check and balance against an over-reaching Executive, has instead has become a willing participant in an ethics act violation.
The two Democrats have joined the bandwagon. Bob Werner is weighing a race for County Exec and is unwilling to alienate the Weaver clan. Ken Kraft is letting Brown walk all over him, hoping that he'll get a few union jobs for a jail expansion that may be a decade away.
The Council member who seemed genuinely concerned was Hayden Phillips. But he voted for Weaver's raise, too.
It is just two years ago that former Bethlehem City Council member Karen Dolan was forced to resign for using her public office to benefit a nonprofit in which she was involved. Contrary to what John Brown or Northampton County Council may think, the state ethics act applies to county employees, too.