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Friday, October 20, 2017

NorCo Voters to Decide on a Government Study Comm'n

Is Northampton County government working? Could it be improved. This time next year, you'll be able to answer that question yourself. After a contentious hearing, a divided Northampton County Council voted last night to ask voters whether its time for a government study commission. Voting in favor of this measure were Council President John Cusick, Hayden Phillips, Matt Dietz, Mat Benol, Seth Vaughn and Bob Werner. Voting No were Glenn Geissinger, Peg Ferraro and Ken Kraft. 

The ordinance, which was sponsored by Phillips and Werner, originally called for voters to decide in next Spring's primary. But it was delayed at Geissinger's suggestion until the general election next November, when more independents would be likely to vote. 

If approved by voters, a nine-person government study commission will study Northampton County's existing form of government. It could recommend a return to the three-Commissioner form of government that exists in most counties. Or it could suggest retaining the Home Rule Charter government with some changes, or no changes at all. 

The commission, which would consist of nine citizens, will have 18 months to finish its job. 

Northampton County's Home Rule Charter has been in existence since 1978. Phillips explained that whenever he talks to people, he walks away with a laundry list of proposed changes.Over the years, numerous amendments have been adopted. In addition, parts of the Charter, like the recall provisions for elected officials, have been declared unconstitutional. Other portions of the Charter are ambiguous. Some positions established, like the Director of Court Services, are considered political plums that an Executive can hand out to supporters. Should the Sheriff be elected? Should the Controller be appointed? Many think that high-ranking officials should be required to live in the county. Some argue for term limits.It is unclear whether the Voting Registrar reports to the Executive or the Elections Commission. He believes that a government study "will make it better than what we have right now." Instead of "piecemeal changes," he said a government study "will look at the whole picture."

But Peg Ferraro was disturbed that "just anyone could run for this" with no qualifications. "We all ran for the office we're in, and we're running the county budget without a requirement," retorted Matt Dietz. She also said a substantial budget would be needed, but Cusick said Council would be able to control over how much is spent. 

"I think this is a complete waste of time, waste of money," said Kraft. "The problems that you're citing are in the Administrative Code, not the Home Rule Charter." 

The problems cited by Phillips are in the Home Rule Charter..

When Cusick and Dietz attempted to answer Kraft, he cut them off. "I'm not asking you," he said to hem both. "I think you're just grandstanding, you're trying to deflect on whatever other nonsense is going on,"  Kraft charged Phillips. "It's an election year. It's a lame duck Council. Put this off until next year, and if you're here, vote for it."
"I can't believe you're saying I'm doing this to grandstand," responded Phillips.

"You are."

"I'm not."

Kraft also objected that "just anybody could tell us how to run the government. No background. No knowledge."

"That's democracy,"Cusick reminded Kraft. 

Geissinger also objected to nine individuals "with who knows what background" demanding a $500,000 budget. 

Cusick noted that an attempt to do a government study 12 years ago failed in a 5-4 vote."It's been 12 years since then, and we owe it to ourselves to ask this question - is it working?"

He added he'd like to study whether there should be an appointed administrator and a Council. He noted that most townships have appointed managers. 

He claimed that the argument that just anybody can run without qualification is ridiculous. That's democracy," he said, repeating a point he made earlier. "If you're a citizen who is registered to vote, and you live in the community, well, that's your right unless you're running for an office that requires a specific qualification, like a judge or district attorney."

Kraft attempted to table the matter, but his motion failed.    

After the measure passed, Ferraro expressed her wish that knowledgeable people like Gerald "Jerry" Seyfried and Frank Flisser, the Council's former Clerk, would consider serving on a government study.  


Anonymous said...

In order to be on the commission people have to run for it right? Also can siting county council members run for and serve on the commission?

Bernie O'Hare said...

They are elected positions, and anyone can serve, including a member of Council.

Anonymous said...

So Peg and Kraft think they are above everybody else. Of course this is the stupidity of county council in action. Just because they were elected, doesn't mean they are at the top of the heap. Common sense is all that is needed, except most of council do not exemplify this. Just because these politicians have been elected, doesn't make them one notch above everybody else. Look at Kraft, he managed to con the great deceiver, John "jack ass" Brown, to appoint his wife to a comfy position. That doesn't make him smart, just a shrewd politician that only cares about himself.

Anonymous said...

This commission will have more experience than the current Council. Check it out. Phillips, Benol, Geissinger, Vaughn, Deitz and Werner had no prior political experience. Kraft very limited, Ferraro to long ago to remember and Cusick had some

Anonymous said...

This is typical of the way our present elected officials think. Blame everyone else but don't look at yourself to see if this is a charter problem or a public servant problem. Why not appoint a "Blue Ribbon Panel" of College Government Professors, past Elected Officials, and individuals who have worked within the systems (Judges included) to discuss what the problems are. No....it's easier to kick the can down the road.
What will be the budget for this "Study Commission" appoint a panel now to budget for expenses that are incurred with this type of Commission. you will have......
*advertising costs (you must advertise meetings etc.)
*Legal fees (someone will have to do legal research etc.)
*travel expenses (you will have to have meetings in various locations in the County
may very well travel to other Home Rule Counties to see how they function)
*office supplies and reproduction (paper, pencils pens etc.)
*Postage (every citizen of the County will receive a copy of the first draft of the new
Charter, and then any further changes)
*professional consultants (not all consultants work for free).
Copier cost (will be quite high)
The list goes on and on and a budget must be approved before an election is held for the Commission seats so that the Home Rule Charter Committee Members know what expenses they will have if they run for A Commission seat. They should have no expenses.
The approximate cost of the Commission to do their work in 1975 was approximately $70,000.00
You can easily expect to spend upwards to $500,000.00 in todays dollars.
You May even want to bring a consultant on Board to get these people started.

Anonymous said...

Total waste of time and money.

Anonymous said...

who is the anonymous troll at 7:14?

if you want to call people out like Peg and Kraft, identify yourself, you coward

Anonymous said...

Everybody that voted for this, should be voted out of office in two weeks. Send that message to these can kicking money spending jerks

Jeff Fox said...

Mr. Kraft's verbal attack at Mr. Phillips became personal and belligerent, as was Mr. Benol's diatribe aimed at county controller Steve Barron. Politics and assumptions of personal motivation should not be a part of a forum, such as last night's council meeting. Mr. Kraft's personal attack of Mr. Phillips speaks a lot toward his character, or lack thereof. People can and should debate issues without political and personal attacks. Mr. Kraft's personal attack at last night's county council meeting is a fitting example of the lack of civil discourse displayed in our world today. Mr. Kraft should vent his vicious venom one on one, face to face. Mr. Kraft should not be politically grandstanding during a county council meeting. This post is not about the vote regarding the HRC study commission. It is about the public behavior of public officials at a public meeting. I do think that as chairman, Mr. Cusick should not have let Mr. Kraft go on with such an attack. As always this is IMHO.

Anonymous said...

This is to the contributor at 7:56 AM
You seem to know what you're talking about. Please tell us who you are and where did you get your numbers? 1/2 million dollars? are you serious?

Peter j. cochran said...

"Just anyone could run for this " Without Qualificans ! Well, I have no qualification, does that mean you want me in there Peg?

Anonymous said...

An election held for the purpose of forming a commission that will instruct the actual elected officials how they should govern.

First they should have an election to form a committee to advise the council on how to go about forming the commission.

Government by infinite regression ....

This is just dumb

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to attack a reader, identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

This is a tea party initiative. hey will cram the commission and destroy the good government we have.

Jeff Fox said...

Peg Ferraro, with her concerns as well as her experience, would be an excellent choice for the Home Rule Charter Study Commission.

Anonymous said...

Peg knows less now than when she first ran.

Anonymous said...

Werner is Phillip's biatch. The guy is working on Phillip's re-election. This was just an election year bullshot proposal that will cost more money than nay good it will produce.

Peter j.Cochran said...

Bernie , you have to be deprecating comments derogatory towards me here as I fueled this one . Anon 5:44 Not True , Bob Werner does not have to do anything . He could do like me being retired , go the range and shoot 3 days a week or play golf ! Remember I'm a hard R and I say this .

Anonymous said...

Werner is pissed that the Dem's did not hand him the executive nomination. So he is sabotaging the dem's race. He is a petty little guy. The only shooting range he ever saw was with a golf club.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"This is a tea party initiative. hey will cram the commission and destroy the good government we have."

Your claim is nonsense. For at least the past ten years, I have advocated a government study. That is really the only way to enact any meaningful improvements to the Home Rule Charter. About a month ago, when Council was set to enact the 999th amendment to the HRC, I argued for a home rule study instead. It is time. Last time i checked,iam a democrat. Bob Werner, who sponsored this, is alsoa democrat. It is called good government. Ken Kraft says the Admin Code needs to be fixed. He's been on Council nearly two full terms, and has done shit. Amazingly, he is relying on the Exec to fix his legislation. That is council's job, but many of them are too lazy to do it.

Anonymous said...

"Bob Werner, who sponsored this, is alsoa democrat."

Barely, he co-sponsored it with Phillips. Since he is working to re-elect Phillips this was less about good government and more about politics. Unnecessary expense, all for show. Hopefully the cost of this tea party game to ruin open government will be part of the ballot question.

Bernie O'Hare said...

What difference does it make whwthwer he wants to see Phillips re-elected? I hate partisanship, whether it comes from Democrats or Republicans. Ken Kraft was churlish on Thursday night, interrupting people and insulting Phillips.he was complaining that the Admin Code needs to be fixed and has forgotten completely that this is his job.a government study is an opportunity to improve the quality of our government and is overdue.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:12, this is more nonsense. It is mean-spirited comments like these that actually hurt Democrats. Werner did not run against Lamont. Stop being such a vindictive hater.

Anonymous said...

The last thing this was about was good government. Who has been clamoring for his? What citizens have come to meetings asking for this? No one, other than you.

This is an election year ploy for an otherwise terrible group of incumbent candidates. Phillips needed a distraction form his jail nonsense, so here we are. Now we may have an expensive proposition for problems that don't exist.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have, and for ten years. If i wanted to, I could have filled the meeting room with people to take that argument away. My sense was that it was going to pass so I did not push for that and did not even speak myself. But I know quite a few good government advocates who endorse this idea. And that is what it is. Good government. Why are you afraid of the people?

Anonymous said...

People will not decide this issue, insiders will.

Anonymous said...

This is not off to a good start. Does any of these elected officials really understand that they have no control over this group. They haven't even agreed to finance the cost of the Commission meetings. This is quite crazy. Run to serve. Don't fund the study. pay your own bills. No guide lines from the Council what will be paid and what won't be paid. the Commission needs guarantees. Without them you won't get good people to run. Again this is crazy.

Peter j. Cochran said...

Bad Government is same as bad people issues. This is for HR : take it from me - or debate me - Anytime you compromised the " natural selection processes" and I know there is critera , your violating federal law . Now my statement is not comprised of simple hiring . The other thing that happens is you screw up employee s that are honest, hardworking and deliberate. You screw them ! I say the dead wood came from existing wood pile and they are clogging the chimneys with creosote. - Get it ?