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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

NorCo GPA Starts New Year With Sunshine Act Violation

They're in the back room.
I've warned you before that Lehigh Valley's local government is dangerously close to what academics would call an urban growth regime. It's a system in which crony capitalists (mostly Republican) call the shots through their pay-to-play puppets in local government (mostly Democrat). It's a shadow government in which a consortium of select real estate developers, attorneys, engineers, consultants and other public vendors are the de facto rulers. Ordinary citizens have no real say. They just pay the bill. This system is what led to the federal indictment of Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. It is why Bethlehem City Council is increasingly viewed, fairly or unfairly, as unresponsive. And under former NorCo Executive John Brown, it began seeping into the county, too. Specifically, this infection appears to have spread into the General Purpose Authority (GPA)..

This unelected body of seven people met yesterday. Executive Lamont McClure, who has succeeded Brown, decided to drop in on them. So did Council Prez Ken Kraft.

"I'd like to go into executive session on a couple of matters," suggested GPA member Shawn Langen. And off they went into the back room, with no explanation. Was it personnel? Litigation? Labor contracts? The lease of real estate? No explanation was given, which by itself is a Sunshine Act violation. Their Solicitor, John Lushis, is paid a lot of money to know better. But he was perfectly content to keep not just the people, but their highest ranking county official, in the dark.

"Do you want staff to attend?" asked Mark Hartney, their clerk.

"No!" answered Lushis. "These are privileged."

Why?

Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act clearly states, "The reason for holding the executive session must be announced at the open meeting occurring immediately prior or subsequent to the executive session."

After being behind closed doors for nearly a half hour, the GPA came back and resumed the meeting with no explanation why they met privately.

It was clearly a dig at McClure and Kraft for daring to attend one of their meetings.

According to the state legislature, "[T]he right of the public to be present at all meetings of agencies and to witness the deliberation, policy formulation and decision making of agencies is vital to the enhancement and proper functioning of the democratic process ... . [S]ecrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public's effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society."

This is a poor way for a public body to start the new year, and makes me winder what they are up to in the back room.

9 comments:

Randy U. said...

Great work Bernie. I want it to he known there Are more possible abusers and violaters of the Sunshine act in the Valley. Stay tuned.

Randy U. said...

Correct first line to be not he known.

Anonymous said...

Can McClure and county Council dump their asses and appoint new members?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The GPA is a state authority and its members serve staggered terms. I ran into this issue a long time ago, when i sued over the bond. I don't know that McClure would want to replace the board over one Sunshine act violation, even though it appears to have been a dig at him. But it's a red flag that there may be other problems.

Anonymous said...

New people with any appointment. No re-appointments. Tough Love for Democracy!

Anonymous said...

Dig deep Bernie. This will be the next pay to play scheme In the Lehigh Valley. Get rid of these clowns now, then ask the Attorney General to come in and investigate. Look to see how much money these jokers donated to the State Republican Party, then look to see who funded Browns campaign. Have the County Controller audit this authority and then follow the money trail. You only go into Executive session when you have something to hide. McClure must clean house.

gsmith said...

Very interesting Bernie. who knew? I doubt the vast majority of citizens are aware of the GPA and the GPA probably prefers it to be that way. This should be front page on the MC. I hope McClure continues to attend these meetings. We need a little sunshine on their "activities." thank you.

Anonymous said...

"It's a system in which crony capitalists (mostly Republican) call the shots through their pay-to-play puppets in local government (mostly Democrat). It's a shadow government in which a consortium of select real estate developers, attorneys, engineers, consultants and other public vendors are the de facto rulers. Ordinary citizens have no real say. They just pay the bill."

WOW! This is so blindingly true that you could but almost anything next to it and it would go unseen and unexamined.

Good job Bernie!

george schaller said...

Bernie,
I have redd this one this morning and have giving it some thought as to the left and right consortium. As I am now a party favor instead of just being a humanist.
Yes it seems as if the R's are above the D's and there is a collusion factor between all entities named but the de facto could and would involve some legal entities or just persons acting to divert.
So there is more than just named parties too, but yet unnamed parties too in the collective collaboration of contributors that can be freind or for in this circus carnival of political parasites!
humanist by design