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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 05, 2017

NorCo Council Stops Back-Up Docs With Online Agenda

As most local municipalities are making strides to become more transparent, Northampton County government is going in the opposite direction.In several stories, I've told you about the county's disastrous new webpage, which provides less information to the public it ostensibly serves than its predecessor.Today I wish to focus on something called the County Council agenda.

Though not required under our Sunshine Act, every government meeting I've attended in the Lehigh Valley circulates an agenda prior to each meeting. Some may do so several days in advance. In some local governments, the first order of business is actually to approve the agenda.

In most Lehigh Valley municipalities, the agenda is posted online in advance of the meeting, and can be viewed by we, the people, along with the minutes of prior meetings.Hard copies of the agenda are also usually in the meeting room.

In an effort to be more accountable and transparent, most of the larger Lehigh Valley governments do more than post their agendas online - they also include all of the back-up documents. That's true in Bethlehem City, Allentown City, Lehigh County and Bethlehem Township. Easton posts proposed ordinances.

At a meeting last year, during an informal discussion of the agenda, Council agreed by consensus to start attaching back-up documents online. But that practice has stopped.

As a result, before the last meeting of the year, there was no back-up document that would have informed the public that a new EMS Director, Todd Weaver, been selected after an 18 month vacancy, and at a salary so high (over $90,000) that it most likely would have prevented his predecessor from leaving in the first place.

Weaver is engaged in a blatant conflict of interest under our state ethics law in that he approves payments to the non-profit fire school at which both he and his father are instructors. His daughter is Secretary,and his wife runs a food concession..

Though Controller Steve Barron raised these concerns and suggested that there at least be some delay, Weaver's payhike was unanimously approved by a Council that, save for Hayden Phillips, was unfazed by an Ethics Act violation.

Tonight Council is to consider an intergovernmental transfer resolution, but a copy of the resolution itself is not attached to the agenda. Though this has been pointed out to the Council Clerk and Council president John Cusick, no effort has been made to inform the public.

What you don't know won't hurt you, even if it does

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Go away! Leave us alone!

Jeff Fox said...

The agenda and a PDF version of the transfer ordinance are available on the website. Resolution to "consent to providing the Intergovernmental Transfer Program an estimated $10,636,534."...

Jeff Fox said...

The controller's report and the executive's report are on the agenda, as always, but are not available, which is not unusual. The "Update by the General Purpose Authority Regarding the P3 Bridge Program", which is on the agenda under the executive's report is also highlighted/linked but not available.

Jeff Fox said...

resolution not ordinance...my bad...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jeff, I went back and looked at the steaming video section, and a PDF of the resolution is there. I was unaware I would see it there. If I am unaware, I suspect many others would miss it as well. There are two ways to handle this: 1) attach the back-up documents to the sgends; or 2) indicate on the agenda page that the back- up documents are on the steaming video page.

Anonymous said...

You are obviously pissed the a the powers in Northampton County no longer bow to your pressure. When Stoffa and Angle ruled the place you had your privileges now you are treated like everyone else.

I guess that is why you now hate Northampton County government the way you hate Nazareth. Two government that are immune to your need for ego gratification..

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah I have this quirk that mayors should not be thieves and government should be accountable. But I hate no one, not even you.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you are an awful person and I thank you sincerely for regularly being the only source of news and observations like this ... can you be cloned and attend the Lehigh County meetings, as well?

Anonymous said...

They are just as transparent as their fearless leader Boris John Baronuff Brown. This circle of non-transparency is sickening. All of these clowns, under the Ringling's brothers circus tent, [NC government], are no longer funny and should be displaced as soon as possible. This garden club got to go!