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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, June 24, 2024

Did Ken Kraft Actually Act Like a Statesman?

On Friday, I told you NorCo Council voted 6-3 to table an ordinance authorizing $63 million in new debt for a new parking garage and office building at the courthouse campus. Voting to table were Council members Lori Vargo Heffner, Ron Heckman, Jeff Corpora, Tom Giovanni, John Goffredo and Ken Kraft. Voting against tabling were John Brown, Kelly Keegan and Jeff Warren.

I want to present remarks made by Council members. That job was more difficult because I was unable to hear them at times, despite watching the video twice.

Earlier this year, Ken Kraft was in the County Council doghouse and for good reason. Council had asked the court to fill a Council vacancy and Kraft took it upon himself to appear in front of our President Judge and misrepresent what had happened. I personally do not think he intended to mislead the court, and in any event, he failed. 

But Thursday night, Kent Kraft the partisan rubber stamp was more of a statesman than at any time I ever saw him in his long career on Council. He gave a lengthy speech to explain why he thinks a new parking deck and county building are necessary, imbued with all kinds of anecdotes from our history and our unfortunate tendency to kick things down the road. He made no personal attacks and spoke in an open and friendly way that put others at ease. His speech was so impressive that Council members Ron Heckman, Lori Vargo Heffner, John Brown and even John Goffredo acknowledged his points

Two weeks ago, Council member John Goffredo was on fire, effectively making points on nearly every issue that came up. But Thursday, he was completely ineffective and unpersuasive. He attempted to turn a county request to fund a county project into an attack on federal debt, and also complained about voter ID and Mail-in Ballots, even though these are both beyond county jurisdiction. Even worse, he seemed to think we'd believe his walk-around of a problem parking deck was somehow superior to the findings of a licensed civil engineer and several Professional Engineers who preceded him. 

Here's my summary.  

Jeff Warren. (He often makes his points from scripts prepared in advance). He argued that some employees in human services are "working out of closets" and that the elections office should be able to work from a central location instead of the current hodge podge arrangement. The garage is a public safety hazard. "The last thing we all need is a huge chunk of rock coming down [and] hitting somebody." Given that the county credit rating is A1, now is the fiscally responsible time to make this move. 

John Goffredo. "I don't know how we can say this is fiscally responsible with the information that we have." He's seen no budget for the $63 million borrowing plan, There are no architectural drawings, just conceptual. (There is a cost estimate, which was presented to Council's finance committee, without which no bond could be floated). "Cutting a check for $63 million is a little premature." He suggested the county should first study how to use the space it does have more efficiently and then determine more realistically what is needed. "This is a Cadillac and I think we need to be able to be looking at the financial interests of the taxpayer as well, not just the people who work in this building." He then leapfrogged to claim we are borrowing from a government (we're not) that is trillions of dollars in debt and not fiscally responsible. He denied that the parking garage is unsafe. "Our parking deck is absolutely fine. I literally walked all around it before I came here, looked all over, and I do have expertise in that, and I do not think it's structurally deficient. ... It is not falling down. That is a structurally sound parking deck and it'll be structurally sound for at least 10, 20 more years if you keep maintaining the way it has been maintained ... . I will provide a structural engineer to come give a second opinion if they're saying it's dilapidated or falling down because it's just not the case, especially after the repairs." 

Kelly Keegan: "We need this election integrity committee because we're all worried about elections, on this hand. But then when you hear we're disjointed and it could be safer on this hand, you don't want to give them the money." (Translation, the elections office needs one location to conduct more secure elections and other offices need more space as well). "Either you want to set them [elections office] up for failure or you just want to obstruct this.... Let's stop being pennywise and dollar foolish. Let's be fiscally responsible. We have the money. Let's do what's right. ... You [addressing Goffredo] walk around the parking lot and make these assumptions that it's sound for 10-20 years .... -

Goffredo: "That's what I do for a living." (Then he digressed to condemn voter ID and Mail-in Ballots as the real election integrity problems. Both of those are outside the county realm, something he should know by now), 

Keegan then went on to challenge Goffredo's expertise despite being admonished to make her points to the chair. The two began to bicker until Vargo-Heffner shut both down.

Ken Kraft: "This is like deja vu for me all over again. I've been at that parking deck since God knows when. It is falling down. It's been repaired by every Executive - I think even John [Brown] had part of trying to fix it. It's a mess. ... I've been around a long time. We've had Councils that would do things and we have Councils that put it in park and don't do anything and talk all the time. Mr. Heckman remembers when we used to have the Milides Building, the Wolf building, we had everybody all over the place. We built a human services building. I heard the same exact arguments. 'Oh my God, we're spending this much money on a human services building. How dare we? How can we do that? We're going to waste all this money. Oh my God, blah, blah, blah.' So we did it. All my life I wanted to build a new morgue (we don't call it a morgue ... I still call it a morgue). We finally got that done. .... They don't spend the entire bond. .... I've also been in construction for years. I don't know if you [Goffredo] actually went to college for that kind of stuff. That garage has wrecked a lot of my cars over the years. Mr. Heckman might be able to speak as to how long that garage has been a mess. We've been through many executives, many fixes. 

"We are out of space. It was supposed to be for human services only and the veterans administration. ... Now we have other people from the county in there. It's crowded. ... [We] need to build this stinkin' building and get rid of that garage. ... We need to be a Council that does something for once and not just talk about it and say No to everything. [The morgue] was working out of a farmhouse and [the Coroner] was dialing for refrigerators to put our bodies because we had no place to put our bodies when people died and we did that for 30 years. It just kept going and going and no one would get the money together to build a morgue. But we did on [a previous] Council. I think Mr Heckman voted for it, Lori [Vargo-Heffner] voted for it. We saw things that needed to be done. This projecting down the road .... we keep band-aiding stuff, we keep trying to find other space. ... We were going to keep the Milides building. Finally, it got condemned by the City of Easton. That's how we work here. ... We're going to get the actual bids. This is the bonding.  

Lori Vargo Heffner: "That was 10 minutes, and I think you took a breath at 8, so that diving [Kraft is a scuba diver] is really .... I need to sigh on. If that's a violation of whatever act we have, I don't care. That was pretty impressive." 

John Brown: "I think $63 million s a lot of money. I don't think I have enough information to really vet this project and all its moving parts. The parking garage has been an issue for a long, long time." He agreed that the parking deck could be rehabbed in a "significant way if not replaced completely." But he believes the market for commercial office space is "cratering," so he rejects McClure's claim that it would cost $2.7 million to lease office space. He indicated the county should explore remote work opportunities and accused the McClure administration of "hoarding cash" that could easily be used for a new parking deck. He suggested retrofitting part of Gracedale for the additional office space needed.

Brown did agree with Kraft's assertion that Council does have a tendency to kick things down the road. 

After this several Council members spoke but either failed to use their mikes or there was a system failure. . 

Tom Giovanni: He said we are now in the era of remote work. "We're looking at making a building just like Guardian did. They made this new building, and half the people work remotely ... and the building's half empty." He needs more information before he can support a $63 million bond. 

Ron Heckman: Made the point that the legislative branch is a separate branch of government, a point he has made numerous times in the past. He cautioned against knocking down and shaming Council members, saying it us unhelpful. "I think we could get a little more specificity for these people who have concerns." "We need to work with each other a little more as opposed to yelling at each other. ... I support this but don't think it's unfair to give more information to people who ask for it." 

After everyone had spoken once, several Council members decided to speak again, doing little more than repeating what they previously said. 

Lori Vargo Heffner: "I'm not opposed but I'm not in favor." 

The can got kicked down the road. But council does seem open. 



Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ken Krafty is a Statesmen ! If he were County Council President instead of Lori Heffner Council would not have suffered the humiliation of have Tera Zrinski’s seat filled by the Court. Council in its long history had never before failed to fill its own vacancy. But, Lori Hefner’s inability to work with others and build consensus caused that precedent to be broken. Ken Kraft should return to the Presidency.

Anonymous said...

All I know is that if Ken Kraft was President we’d have a Council clerk. That Alice woman would have the job and she’d be makin 120K. Lori Vargo-Heffner screwed up the 1 job of Council Prez and now we have an acting whatever that is and the need to waste more money on a temp.

Anonymous said...

Ken Kraft is a Golden God ! It is he, not Jimmy Page who jumped off that roof into the swimming pool. (Kraft was getting the Led out working as a roadie at the time.)

Anonymous said...

There’s only one reason Kraftoe is not Pres. Heckman wouldn’t vote for him because last time Kraftoe wouldn’t lend him drone on endlessly thereby creating a CO2 hazard in the Council room.

Anonymous said...

It’s not too late to replace failed President Vargo Heffner with the Statesmen Ken Kraft ! Motion to vacate the chair July 3rd !

Anonymous said...

Ken Kraft was not a roadie for Zeppelin. He was a roadie for Jefferson Airplane, and got fired after a week by Grace Slick.

Anonymous said...

How old is that picture?

Anonymous said...

Kraft is a no nonsense guy with plenty of experience and no drama attached. Vargo Heffner stalls and makes excuses, projects and gaslights. She is a manipulative shrink who is overrated among Republicans. She has lost her party’s confidence and will lose in 2025 as will the Republicans. Ba-bye!

Bernie O'Hare said...

You Lamont Lemmings just don't get it, do you? KK was reaching out. Instead of calling his colleagues obstructionists, as Keegan did, he gave Council a bit of a history lesson about what happens when they let problems fester. He attacked no one but engaged them in a friendly and Non accusatory way. This is not about replacing LVH, nor have I seen her gaslight anyone. Does she sometimes create unnecessary roadblocks? Yes.

I have to warn you lemmings that these constant attacks are actually hurting Lamont, not helping him. I will say no more.

Anonymous said...

Ken Kraft is a Monster of Rock. Cameron Crowe has a script written called Never Famous about Ken’s time on tour.

Anonymous said...

This is not commonly known, but Ken Kraft is actually a pirate. All those “diving” trips he goes on are actually expeditions to steal sunken treasure before the rightful owners have the chance to engage lawful salvage teams. He uses Lake Hexagon to train fellow pirates.

Anonymous said...

McClure does not know how to work with others. His personality doesn't allow it. Kraft knows this and like Heckman, he knew if they voted on it that night it would have gone down. The kicking the can down the road is a cute slogan by a slogan driven group but sometimes the can is not worth kicking or should be kicked off the road. By blaming county council for every problem the county faces, McClure and kraft are not very adept at building winning coalition.

Reading the McClure trolls comments attacking the very votes they need is evidence of that. Do you really think attacking Hefner and Heckman will get their votes?

Ther biggest slam to his plans where the two rubber stamps he bought. They have been on county council for ten minutes and have already isolated themselves and hurt McClures agenda every time they open their mouths.

O'Hare you love McClure and want this project, but you are not voting. Council members want respect and time to absorb and question this massive project. The idea he gave them information on a Tuesday and demanded a vote on Thursday is just arrogant and boneheaded. For a council that does not trust McClure or his directors and who have been misled and disrespected, he and Kraft need to do a better job

Anonymous said...

You know what helps Lamont? People who gaslight the county into thinking that the commissioners weren't hand fed all the info they needed to make a decision for what is best for the county and then didn’t vote to support it. Those who delay processes that make sense for the county and then don’t support it makes them look like morons. And you, Bernie, who sits there behind a computer and acts like those who hem and haw over decisions that should be easy for those who do their homework and delay it are the golden. They aren’t. They are inept. . Please don’t mistake understanding the job as rubber stamping.

Anonymous said...

Nothing will be accomplished for the rest of the year unless Ken Kraft is County Council President.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth M. Krafcyk is the most powerful Democrat in Northampton County. Even Matt Muncy quakes in the presence of his omnipotence.

Anonymous said...

Will Kraft shut down the rubber stamps including himself? That picture is twenty years old.

Decisions are easy when you just follow orders. right???

Anonymous said...

Wahhh wahhh you want respect? You were given this info already and you still can’t be decisive? Do your job! Do the work of finding out your answers and stop gaslighting the county that you weren’t provided what you need. No one needs to show you respect to do your job and vote.

Anonymous said...

@6:07: vote Nay if you think it’s bad polisay. The respect you think you’re entitled to is never coming.

Anonymous said...

14 years old not 20

Anonymous said...

Build a new Parking Garage. We'll name it the King McClure Parking Center.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, These Mccluer gang members are either mentally handicapped or just stupor. They continue to demean council members who do not bend a knee to McClure. He doesn't govern he rules, and he doesn't know the difference. Talk to council members, he is losing any hope of the votes he needs. Good job Sparky.

The attacks on governing style are from people McClure even got them to go to court. Led by Kraft.

The problem may be the fools he has put on council. can't wait to see his super ticket next year. Five nuclear scientists to be sure. The names I have heard are nuttier than Keegan and Warren.

Anonymous said...

You're a regular riot!🤣

Anonymous said...

To be sure, Kraft wants to build for his union buddies. He will play the concrete falling on the car card, but his real objective is job creation for his labor lords. The garage has been falling down since Stoffa was exec, so let Kraft spin his magic and make money for people.