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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

NorCo Council's 2017 Workhorses, Showhorses and No-Showhorses

Who are Northampton County Council's workhorses, show horses and no-showhorses in 2017? What is their attendance, including Committee participation, where most of the real work is done?

This is my annual report card, something I have done since 2006.

In 2016, Council's workhorse was Hayden Phillips. He had a 96% attendance record at all Council and Committee meetings. The no-showhorse was Glenn Geissinger, who had an appalling 54% attendance record so he could run for Congress, yet hypocritically contended at a Council debate that attendance is important. .

Both Phillips and Geissinger were swept out of office in 2017. I doubt many voters knew about their attendance. They were caught up in a blue wave of resentment against Donald Trump.

What about 2017?

Northampton County Council met 29 times last year, including 24 regular and 5 budget hearings. In addition, its committees met 50 times. Hayden Phillips' Capital Projects Committee met 8 times to deal with the county's nuts and bolts, its infrastructure. bridges to generators. Seth Vaughn's Human Services Committee met 9 times for periodic updates from Gracedale and other human services departments.  Peg Ferraro's Economic Development Committee huddled 9 times, mostly for repetitive updates from the DaVinci Science Center and its quest for public funding of a $130 million fishtank. Finance and Personnel remain the nuts-and bolts committees . Other committees that met were Matt Dietz' Parks and Open Space (7), Governance (2) and Courts and Corrections (1).

Each Council member is encouraged to attend committees, regardless whether he or she is a voting member. The committees that do meet are an indication of what issues concern Council members. This Council appears to be very concerned about county bridges, funding DaVinci and our responsibility to help those in need.

It's hard to argue with these priorities.

I have graded each council member based on his attendance of the 79 committee and full council meetings. If participation is by phone, I have decided to count it since the member can vote. If a Council member is only present for part of a meeting, or participates in a combined meeting of two committees, I count him as present at both.
Hayden Phillips, one of NorCo's workhorses of the year
Based on this system, this year there was an unusual tie for workhorse of the year. Both the Colonel, Hayden Phillips, and Council President John Cusick had perfect attendance this year.  Each attended every one of Council's 79 meetings.

Bob Werner, who was sidelined at times by a family illness, still managed to punch in for 74 of 79 meetings this year for a 94% attendance record. A liberal Democrat, Werner has worked closely with Phillips and has tried to avoid partisanship.

From these top three the attendance record begins to slack off. The remaining Council member report cards are as follows: Matt Dietz - 76% (60/79); Mat Benol - 75% (59/79); Seth Vaughn - 72% (57/79);Peg Ferraro - 71% (56/79); Glenn Geissinger - 71% (56/79); and Ken Kraft - 67% 53/79.

So Kraft is the no-show horse of the year, which is hardly an encouraging sign from someone who is supposed to take over as President of Council in 2018.  He is the only Council member with a failing attendance grade, but he has been plagued by two problems. He had a number of medical procedures last year, and in fact attended one meeting at which he should have stayed home because he was trying to talk with a broken nose. He also admitted that his work schedule this year was hectic, and included one session that conflicted with a committee meeting. Neither his bosses nor committee chair was willing to change the time. 

Vaughn likes to claim he has a perfect attendance record, but that's false. He has managed to attend more meetings, but mostly by phoning it in. In 2016, he missed the one meeting of the year that should be a must for every Council member - the vote on Budget amendments. When I confronted him over this, his response was, "So what? Who cares? I'll still win the election next year, pal."

I created a Facebook page to remind voters of his prediction right before the election.

Like the other Republicans, he was swept out of office by an anti-Trump surge. But my Facebook page reached  1,742 people in the three days before the election. I doubt it helped him.

Here's the breakdown.

Capital Projects (8 meetings): Hayden Phillips, Chair; - 8; Bob Werner - 7; Mat Benol - 7; John Cusick -8; Peg Ferraro - 3;  Matt Dietz - 7; Seth Vaughn - 3; Ken Kraft -0..

Courts and Corrections (1 meetings): Mat Benol, Chair; - 1;  Bob Werner - 1; John Cusick -1; Hayden Phillips - 1: Peg Ferraro - 1;  Matt Dietz - 1; Seth Vaughn - 1: Ken Kraft - 0; Glenn Geissinger -0.

Governance (2 meetings): John Cusick, Chair, - 2; Hayden Phillips - 2: Seth Vaughn -1; Bob Werner - 2; Matt Dietz - 2; Ken Kraft - 0; Peg Ferraro -0; Mat Benol - 1; Glenn Geissinger - 0.

Human Services (9 meetings): Seth Vaughn, Chair -9; Matt Dietz - 8; Mat Benol - 9; Hayden Phillips - 9; Bob Werner - 9; John Cusick - 9; Glenn Geissinger - 9; Ken Kraft - 9; Peg Ferraro - 4.

Parks and Open Space (7 meetings): Matt Dietz, Chair - 5; Bob Werner - 6; John Cusick - 6; Hayden Phillips - 5; Seth Vaughn - 3 (1 by phone); Peg Ferraro - 3 (1 by phone); Glenn Geissinger - 2; Mat Benol -1; Ken Kraft - 1.

Economic Development (9 meetings): Peg Ferraro, Chair - 9, Ken Kraft - 7; Seth Vaughn - 7; John Cusick - 9; Hayden Phillips - 9, Matt Dietz - 8; Bob Werner - 8; Glenn Geissinger - 4; Mat Benol -0.

Personnel and Finance (11 combined meetings): Ken Kraft - 8; Peg Ferraro - 8, Mat Benol - 10, Glenn Geissinger - 11, John Cusick -11, Bob Werner - 11; Hayden Phillips - 11; Matt Dietz - 11, Seth Vaughn - 6. [Since these are combined meetings, I consider attendance at one as attendance at both].

Council meetings (24 meetings) John Cusick - 23/24; Peg Ferraro - 22/24; Ken Kraft - 21/24; Bob Werner - 22/24; Matt Dietz - 23/24; Glenn Geissinger - 21/24; Hayden Phillips - 24/24; Seth Vaughn - 24/24; Mat Benol - 24/24.

Budget Hearings (5 meetings) Seth Vaughn 3/5 (2 by phone), Matt Dietz 5/5 (2 by phone), All other Council members were physically present for all five budget hearings.


Anonymous said...

It snot how often you show up, its what you do when you are there. The voters have spoken!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Poor attendance demobstrates the elected official has no regard for those who elected him. This was overshadowed by Trump, but attendance matters to voters. Kraft gets a pass this year bc if circumstances beyond his control, but not if he repeats this conduct. It is also a slap across the face of many others like Jerry Seyfried who were able to manage a job demanding physical labor and council. If you don’t show up, you don’t care.

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned about attendance of this new council. Let's wait and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned about this new council period! Rookies, lots of talent and potential. But will they deliver?!?! Having some doubts.......

Anonymous said...

First, the blue wave was not from a rejection of President Trump, it was due to the in-actions, arrogance, useless rubber stamp council and covert support of the ex-county executive and his attack on county workers, his appointments of re-noun under qualified lackies, and his non-transparency. Second, pocketbook Peg, the glamour girl of council, was tied with the useless Glenn Geisinger. Third, it seemed Kraft attended meetings only he deemed important. He had no troubles attending personnel and finance; maybe because he got his wife a job. This is disturbing about a possible president of council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Without question, the blue wave was a rejection of Trump. It transcended this county and was statewide and rippled into municipal elections
Min other stares.

Anonymous said...

Not everybody loves John Morganelli the same way you do. He will get beat the same way Callahan got beat.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you use the word "showhorses" that has the word "WHORE" right in the middle of the word "shoWHOREs". What a brilliant way to describe our elected officials in Northampton County. They must really love you for your originality.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:07, JM is the right kind of Democrat for the 15th. The others simply are not. Fine people, but they can’t win. A woman running in a field of men might stand out, but there are two.

Anonymous said...

"Each Council member is encouraged to attend committees, regardless whether he or she is a voting member."

By who? you? you are so full of yourself

Anonymous said...

Every council member can attend other committee meetings as a member of the public. These meetings are open to the public and they should attend, if they want to know what is being discussed before it is presented to Council. Many committees are often intertwined.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed Phillips got swept up in the rebuke of Trump. He was actually a sane R and his attendance was an indication that he took his position on council seriously.

Anonymous said...

Phillips like the others raised taxes after running as conservatives and also were a rubber stamp for Brown. They like pocketbook Peg are nothing but Party hacks and did as they were told.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Phillips was far from a rubber stamp. He had integrity and followed his conscience. He often went against Brown. Do us all a favor, stop telling lies.

Anonymous said...

So they were supposed to attend (at the most) 79 meetings last year. Also assume, they had meetings with constituents, meetings with municipal leaders in their respective districts, meetings with employees, and speaking engagements, also attendance at various boards authorities and commissions they serve on, include breakfasts and luncheons and dinners they are asked to attend, they could easily be attending 125 to 150 meetings per year. That's a minimum of two or possibly three meetings per week. No Council person gets paid enough to attend that many meetings per year. However, they should attend every council meeting and they should attend the committee meetings of which they are voting members. That isn't asking too much. Quite simply, they don't get paid enough to do their job right. Still they ran for the job knowing what it pays.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I did the math. kock it off. Assuming 3 hrs per meeting, they are paid $40;per hour. A council member who skips committee meetings will not be meeting constituents, or to be more honest, people looking for government handouts.

Anonymous said...

That is your definition, not what is required. I trust these officials judgment, they ran. You are not an elected official. You don't make the rules. Your hero Phillips went to everything and the voters booted his ass based on is performance. Stop pretending you are the know all of everything.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Attendance matters to voters. If you don't show up, you don't care. Hayden Phillips is clearly a man of integrity, despite his conservative views. That matters to me. Were it not for the anti-Trump wave, he would have been re-elected in a close race. Brown would have still lost. You have an irrational hatred of this man and obviously do not attach the same significance to things like honesty and conscience that I do. Phillips voted against Brown on numerous items. He voted against the consultants. He voted against Allen, while Kraft amazingly voted to confirm her. He stood up to Amy Trapp and was bothered by Barron's report about the useless travel. He is a man of honor. You don't sign your name and don't know much about honor.

Anonymous said...

Totally disagree, as did the voters.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The voters tossed Geissinger and Vaughn, both of whom had lousy attendance records. If you fail to show up, expect to lose. Ken Kraft was not up this election cycle.

Anonymous said...

The voters also tossed Phillips and Angle, so there is that. Your analysis does not hold up.

Anonymous said...

A disbarred lawyer for malfeasance and a drunk is a good one to talk about CONSCIENCE and HONESTY...good one! You wouldn’t know the truth if it slapped you in the face and clearly, your reasons for being disbarred show you have conscience. Good grief!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The voters also tossed Phillips and Angle, so there is that. Your analysis does not hold up."

Yes, and that was the blue wave. There is nothing any of them could have done. Absent that blue wave, I think the race would have been much closer, and that Phillips would have won. The poor attendance records of Vaughn and Geissinger would come back at them and they would have lost.

Don't expect people to vote for you when you don't bother to show up.