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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, April 20, 2018

McClure Labels GPA a "Rogue Authority," Calls Legal Bills an "Outrage"

Lamont McClure smiles when Peg Ferraro asks,
"Will you say, I do?"
Since January, I've been critical of the General Purpose Authority (GPA). This is a county agency originally established as a conduit for pass through loans by universities and hospitals. But when former Executive John Brown designated this authority to administer what really is a $38 million county bridge building project, the problems started.

It started the year with a Sunshine Act violation, ducking into executive session without bothering to explain why. Review of the minutes revealed that its Solicitor, John Lushis, was tapped by Brown to work on other P3 projects and provide "special legal services" without the knowledge of Council and in apparent violation of the County's own Administrative Code. The GPA also hired Brown's former publicity agent, Sahl Communications, to establish a web page and Facebook page that could have been created by a grade school student. It also voted to pay Chair Shawn Langen $200 per hour yo check the work being done by the third party engineer checking the bridge contractor.

I learned from Langen himself that the GPA and Lushis intended to market P3 projects to other municipalities.

In response to a Right-to-Know, I learned that Lushis' law firm, Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus, billed the County $3,390 for six copyrights that were identified as the property of that firm, and not Northampton County or the GPA. I learned that Langen had submitted a bill for $11,950 to check the work being done by the checker. Finally, and most significantly, I discovered that Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus had billed and received  $813,000 in 2016 and 2017. Brown buried the expenditure in the jail budget

At their April 10 meeting, the GPA refused to recognize Charles Dertinger, the County's second highest ranking official, when he approached them with information they had just finished complaining they had not received. They also voted to hire a Philadelphia law firm for litigation with the County without bothering to seek proposals from anyone. They may have already paid this firm a $10,000 retainer.

During this meeting, they also voted to approve five invoices submitted by Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus, including a bill for $34,000 to respond to three Right-to-Knows (Two from me, one from The Morning Call). At that time, I still did not have a complete response to my requests.

I have it now, and it is a joke. I intend to appeal.

What does Executive Lamont McClure make of all this?

He answered that question last night, in his report to Council. He called the GPA a "rogue authority" and said that the John Lushis bills are an "outrage." While saying he'd like to avoid litigation, he made clear that GPA's role in the P3 project needs to be lessened.

Here's what he said.
"I believe that I was not clear enough when I made my last statement on this issue. I want the P3 project, specifically the P3 project with the 33 bridges in it, to be successful. I want to complete it, and when I highlight the difficulties with it, I want no one to assume that we are anything but completely committed to finishing the project. That isn't to say that we don't want our laws followed, including our 80% rule [80% of all county-financed construction must be with local labor]. We do. That isn't to say we won't stand on our rights in the contract. We will. But we want this to succeed. We will make the milestone payments when it's appropriate under the contract. The construction company will have its cash flow.

***

"We will get this done, but that isn't to say there aren't problems. One of the big problems is we have a rogue authority right now in the General Purpose Authority. And they really are in the way of us getting this project done in a timely fashion. Frankly, some of the things they've done, including bill you - you're paying - 800, almost $1 million in legal fees over the last two years - you're paying that. That's an outrage. We have a bill from [GPA Chair] Langen for $11,000. He's the Chair of the General Purpose Authority. He submitted a bill under the services agreement for checking the work of the third party engineer. Well, as you might imagine, I haven't paid it. These are some challenges that we have going forward.

"Now Ms. Ferraro, you're on the GPA. You were at that last meeting. You saw a bill and I think you voted to approve it, which I think was disappointing. Thirty-four thousand dollars to do a Right-to-Know request  We do Right-to-Know requests all the time around here, and we don't spend $34,000 on them, I was also very disappointed that the GPA voted to use public money to sue this County or to hire a special counsel to do that. That's very, very unfortunate.
Peg Ferraro asked McClure to sit down with the GPA like he did with the Gaming Board.. He said he would, and would be at the next meeting himself.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ole pocketbook Peg should be ashamed of herself. Who does she work for?

Anonymous said...

It was clear enough during the Mayor Ed Pawlowski trial.
This law firm if a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

I think the FBI is smelling around. Only a matter of time before the sky starts to fall. And where us our District AtrornAt while the courthouse is being robbed?

LVcitizen295 said...

Pigs get fat but hogs get slaughtered. Greed and hubris will lead to a spectacular downfall.

Anonymous said...

Pocketbook Peg can't give enough money away before she goes off into retirement. She should resign now, while the county still has some money left. She is almost as bad as the GPA and their robber-baron John Lushis.

Anonymous said...

FBI should have been sniffing around when Glenn Reibman was here and all is ill advised followers ( staff) with shady backgrounds.

Anonymous said...

Has to be some engineering firms buried in the darkness of this corruption?

Anonymous said...

Peg should resign from the Authority and let someone else take them on.

Anonymous said...

maybe the law firm will hire her

Bernie O'Hare said...

"And where us our District AtrornAt while the courthouse is being robbed?"

In case you have not noticed, there is no absence of bad guys out there. I would not make criminal accusations lightly. The DA is a prosecutor,not a persecutor.

Anonymous said...

The voters cleaning house when the house stinks can be a good thing. With all that is coming out about Brown, it probably wouldn't have been known if he were still the Exec.
Too bad Pocketbook Peg wasn't swept out with Brown.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Peg should resign from the Authority and let someone else take them on"

I agree she needs to step down, and have said so to her. She said herself last night that, once the P3 project started, the GPA changed and became far more complicated. I think she is probably concerned that what is going on could imperil the project. McClure addressed that last night. He is committed to the P3 and seeing it succeed. He is making the milestone payments to Kriger. I doubt Langen or Lushis will see a dime. He believes that the GPA is getting in the way of that success. He's right. The members of that Board are simply ill-suited to what needs to be a very public and transparent project. Lushis himself is the biggest problem, and wants to morph the GPA into some kind of P3 salesman statewide. The best solution would be for Lushis and the old board to step down. Contrary to what Lushis has asserted, he is the chief problem, followed by Langen. But Peg should run from this. She is very good at many things, and is often a voice of reason. But a different kind of person is needed to deal with Lushis and langen.

Robert Trotner said...

I agree.

Anonymous said...

When a prolific spender is called out by a prolific spender for approving prolific spending, that's really something. Peg is Teflon, however. Like Trump, she could commit a terrible act in a public place and Nazareth area voters would canonize her, let alone re-elect her.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm a little more concerned about Lushis and Langen than about Ferraro. You are clearly motivated by some kind of personal animus.

Anonymous said...

I don't know her at all. I know who people who do, and say she's a lovely person. You've written nice things, and I believe you. My criticism is strictly focused on her job performance. I don't like what I see as her cavalier attitude toward spending tax dollars. It's noteworthy and refreshing to see her called out - especially by another official I believe to be similarly cavalier.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile our District Attorney is busy while the taxpayers store is being robbed-

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I have already noted, the DA is a prosecutor, not a persecutor. Now we all know a Congressional race is under way, but I will delete attempts to politicize a serious issue of good government.

Anonymous said...

The flower of the Lehigh Valley legal establishment is a criminal cabal.
Nothing new here.

Anonymous said...

Agree Bernie, I think Peg is just getting very old. She has always been the representative of the country club. This is her last term I was told. She can do little damage with the current democratic council. Hopefully, they just let her ramble on in peace. Now is not the time for attacking people.

Anonymous said...

The bundling (bungling) of the bridges was a bad idea from the get go. This is like contracting for snow removal with a small firm in Easton to do all the roads in the State-an impossible task. What`s wrong with how it was done in the past? Too successful? IF IT works good don`t fix it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

In fairness, the county is not really in the bridge biz. I'm not endorsing P3, but we were doing a shitty job. The number of deficient bridges is cause for concern. It is too soon to say if P3 is an improvement.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am enabling comment moderation for the weekend, You can think a sick man named Robert Ryan, who does not even live in the state, but New Jersey, and has some sort of screwed up agenda against a local judge and his family. He has trolled this blog for two years, and is becoming more virulent. He works for KDDI America. His wife left him, and he is drinking himself to death.

Bernie O'Hare said...

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-ryan-09372b31

Anonymous said...

Well Morgaelli's campaign filing confirms his responsibility for that push poll earlier, this month regardless of how much he denies it. There is a 4,000 payment to convicted criminal Thomas Severson, for polling. Who is notorious for this type of activity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Severson's polling took place at a different time. Morganelli has already denied, and quite adamantly, that his campaign has had a thing to do with any push polling. It would be contrary to his own self-interest. If you choose to call him a liar, that's on you.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, what qualifies Langen to check the checker for bridge projects? Isn't he a developer?

Anonymous said...

Don’t think Langen has an engineering degree, and heard that he isn’t particularly bright, so, why is he getting paid to oversee a consulting engineer? Doesn’t make any sense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He is not an engineer and has a Bachelor's degree from lycoming. he doeshave experience asa construction manager for Arcadia, so I believe he is qualified.

Anonymous said...

BO - By your own words, he is "not an engineer and has a Bachelor's degree from Lycoming." Bachelor's in what? Accounting? Marketing? 18th Century British Authors?

Even if he were an engineer, is he experienced in bridge design? The Engineer's Code of Ethics prevents someone from practicing in an area that is outside their expertise.

Experience as a construction manager does NOT qualify one to check another engineer.


Bernie O'Hare said...

It kills me when people demand that I provide information that they are too lazy to look up themselves. I have previously written on this very blog that Langen's B.S. is in economics. Try googling his name and you would see this.