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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, February 12, 2018

GPA Continues to Stall RTK Seeking Lawyer Bills

Former NorCo Exec Bill Brackbill once likened government authorities to "runaway trains." They may start off in the right direction, but there is always a danger that they will go off track. That seems to be the case at the Northampton County General Purpose Authority (GPA). It started off the new year with a Sunshine Act violation. It paid an unknown sum (believed to be $60,000-70,000) to the very public relations firm that former Executive John Brown was using to promote himself, oblivious to the public outrage and lawsuits. Last year, without the knowledge or assent of NorCo Council, it voted to pay $200 per hour to Board Chair Shawn Langen so he could review engineering work done for a bridge project. Solicitor John Lushis may have been doing side work for Executive John Brown and passing the bills through the GPA. He wagged his finger in the  face of the County Administrator following a meeting last week. And now, Lushis is dragging his feet on a Right-to-Know request for information from GPA, including Lushis's bills.

I submitted two Right-to-Know requests in January, asking for the Lushis bills, the public relations bills, and all correspondence concerning the jail, especially at Gracedale  After playing some games about my requests, Lushis agreed to respond to me by February 15. That would be this week.

But late Friday, Lushis sent me an email telling me he wanted another extension until April 15 because there were 3,000 documents. This stall tactic is being used in the forlorn hope that I will lose interest. I won't.

I can understand a delay might be needed if the request is more burdensome than I originally thought it would be. But he needs to produce his legal bills. Now.

Below is my response to Lushis:

Mr. Lushis,

I have filed two Right-to-Know requests seeking information from the General Purpose Authority (GPA). In both, I made clear that I would agree to an extension, so long as it was to a date certain. You serve the GPA body as Solicitor and Right-to-Know Officer. You sought such an extension until February 15. This was not fine with me, but I kept my word and posed no objection.

On Friday, February 9, at the end of the day, you wrote to advise me you wanted yet another extension until April 15. This is because you suddenly discovered that over 3,000 documents need review.

I will agree in part to your request, although this is now a second date certain. I have no desire to unduly burden staff .

At this point, when you are ready to release these documents, have someone contact me so I can make an appointment to review them and determine how many copies are needed. Having done this before, I know that there is lots of duplication.

But I agree to no additional extension with respect to your legal invoices. They were approved at numerous meetings as a matter of public record. I have made no request that you disclose any legal advice you may have provided. I simply want and have a right to know how much the taxpayers paid you, and immediately. This is information at your fingertips. Your delay at this point smacks of bad faith.

Why are you hiding what the public pays you?

I expect you to produce your legal invoices on the agreed date of February 15, along with a record of all payments made to you.

Thank you.

Bernie O'Hare


Anonymous said...

He know that the day he shows you the bills that his gravy train ends, just another greedy lawyer

Anonymous said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz old news

Anonymous said...

someone is getting caught with their hands in he cookie jar.
to 6:50 AM.........you appear to be the lawyer not wanting to show the bills.

Anonymous said...

I smell the FBI nosing arouend.......perhaps Lushis should start working on a dense.... and get a paper shedder? Umm cancel the Armani suit as those orange jumpers I think are in his future....

Anonymous said...

One week ago while looking at the GPA website it was easy to find the minutes of the 1/9/18 meeting. While minutes reflect what happened at the meeting they are not Word for Word, but touch on every subject that came up which is more than fair. There was no mention in the beginning of the meeting or announcement that they were going into executive session. Today the meeting minutes were rearranged in a different format and the 1/9/18 minutes are gone, but the word transparency remains.

Anonymous said...

This is the part in the movie where they put a bomb underneath your car Bernie. Be careful, they seem like bad people willing to break the law for their own ends.

Anonymous said...

Does this warrant a referral to the DA's office for investigation?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, its there incapability to fess up to there part, there for acts of diversion will be implemented!

Carl said...

When I get home from work I find myself looking forward to reading this blog before other news sites more and more. Never boring!

Anonymous said...

Time for the duly elected county officials to shine some light on thee folks.

Anonymous said...

Richard Somach ... smh. Politics at its finest. Surprised? No.

Keep up the good work, BO. Put on a show tonite at half time of game.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, I joined the dance team.

Anonymous said...

Sunshine: The best disinfectant in the world! Go Bernie!