Monday, March 25, 2013

In The Wake of....

...Stoffa-Gift - Should a Board of Ethics in Nor-Co be weighed?

Yes, we think so. There is no mechanism or device in place at this point in time to assist the taxpayers deal with government unethical questions.

When COAF addressed County Council and asked them to look into the Stoffa-Gift matter, they (CC) suggested that they would deal with the matter only if there was evidence of wrong doing on the part of County Executive John Stoffa, and or his administration.

In December of 2012, the independent office of the County Controller produced two hours of misused tax-resources which has been substantiated. In our humble opinion, this should have been the evidence that Council required to (at minimum) ask the proper authorities to launch a formal investigation into the matter. After all, the taxpayers are asking for it, and they deserve a legitimate response. Don't they? Especially when the taxpayers believe that the actual number of hours misused are more like 30-60 hours.

The intent of any investigation should be to substantiate or disprove wrongdoing within our local government.

Interestingly, after receiving the information from Controller Barron himself, County Council sat silent!

When COAF sought to understand the direction they were planning, they again sat silent!

When COAF asked County Council to censure Mr. Stoffa as a means of demonstrating to the taxpayers that they (CC) did not condone such behavior (in light of the evidence), they sat silent!

Their silence has made it quite apparent that County Council would prefer not to deal with these types of matters.

The local media (taking its cue from County Councils' silence) decides not to report on the very serious matter of misused tax resources in Northampton County. They too chose to sit silent.

We view all of these realities as clear indicators that County Council is not capable (for various reasons), or not willing (for obvious reasons) to handle such matters.

Perhaps local government shouldn't be expected to police itself!

Perhaps an independent body should be established specifically to handle and investigate allegations of improper and unethical government behavior, removing the need to bring such matters before County Council.

Yes, in light of recent events and the evidence which has gone unnoticed, it does appear the time has come to consider establishing an ethics board that would be responsible for reviewing ethical matters relating to our local government. The question is however, who in government would establish such a review board?


  1. This is a valuable and dynamic column. My approach for keeping officials under watchful, impartial and ethically informed observation: I think a TAXPAYERS OMBUDSMAN is an excellent idea which would result in a salaried position with a line in the Northampton County budget. Probably a change in the charter approved by the voters would be needed.

    I'd like to see the elected official who would dare oppose such an initiative. The position should have teeth and the person elected would have HIS OR HER own access to the press which is now dominated by a very few polticians.

    Let me know how I can help to achieve this--

    Donald Dal Maso

  2. I agree with you Don. This is a very interesting post.

  3. doesn't the state already have an ethics board or commission, that responds to ethics conplainst filed by private citizens? why not got that route?

  4. There is a state ethics board but i'm not sure if they deal with criminal matters. Will discuss with a friend of mine who is an attorney and get back to you guys.

  5. Hello ,

    I would like to let all of you know that not only did you win the battle, you have won the war. You not only ousted Ron Angle from office, but kept gracedale county owned, and got the truth to the taxpayers about John Stoff'as misappropriation of funds.

    But the icing on the cake is surely about to happen. The goose is about to lay its golden egg. See, Ron Angle loved eating people alive when he was a councilman. He's not eating alive his own party, and word on the street is, he has worn out his welcome there too.

  6. You may report the instance of Stoffagate to the state ethics Board and they WILL investigate. If in fact they find an ethical violation, your criminal case against him will be bolstered.
    I agree that you should contact the state ethics board, give them your information and request an inquiry. They will do it and annonymously as well.

    What Stoffa did was wrong but you don't have to rely on county council to do the work.

  7. It has been clear for the last year that cc never intended to do anything about it. Sad because we supported 3 newcomers that we thought would at least stand up and say that what stoffa did was wrong, and they didn't!

  8. again...go to the state board. no need to recreate the wheel. they're pretty prompt, and independent. mayeb you get something out of them, you can then shame council into doing something

  9. I like the State Ethics Commisssion route. You may actually start to see some justice. That is somehting you have not seen at the local level.

  10. While every avenue should be followed regarding "Stoffagate" I'm pessimistic that a slow-moving office in Harrisburg will do much given that he is so close to leaving office. How about the long range?

    A Taxpayers Ombudsman will have a huge effect on Northampton County's traditional way of doing business. The fashion has been that the two local newspapers are carefully cultivated by those few in power and used against their enemies--look at the way articles were written throughout the Referendum campaign as if Stoffa had already signed the deal (for so he thought).

    The Taxpayers Ombudsman could draw attention to every document issued by Council and the Executive the way Stephen Barron uncovered this one hidden issue of an Executive using the Taxpayers' money to support a private attempt to frustrate the exercise of PURE DEMOCRACY--the Gracedale Referendum.

    Anybody want to advocate for a Taxpayers Ombudsman? Count me in.

    1. WORD ON THE STREET IS, STOFFA SOLD GRACEDALE AND TOOK A DEPOSIT ON THE SALE before you voted to keep or sell it. Honesty at its finest.

  11. technically, all elected officials are supposed to be a "taxpayer ombudsman". why create yet another layer of bureaucracy? far better to hold the current electeds accountable, as this blog attempts to do.

    1. It's not a new layer of bureaucracy at all, it's a DEDICATED OFFICE in Northampton County for one single thing--oversight over every elected County official to protect the voters from actions such as Stoffa has taken. As for elected officials policing themselves, look at how well they've been doing that! And this blog gets credit but nothing will actually change until politicians stop stonewalling and covering for one another.

      We wouldn't have NEEDED this blog if an Ombudsman had been there to stop Stoffa in the first place from reversing himself and trying to get a court to stop the Referendum.

      This blog must continue as a special resource but somebody has to hold a fire directly under the feet of politician AND get the permanent attention of the press, which is now inclined to listen only to a few politicians who, as I said before, use the press against their personal political enemies. --Don

  12. I too agree that this blog has been highly instrumental and beneficial for the county. Not that I always agree with some of the things said, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Also your hearts are in the right place. Keep up the good work.

  13. O'HJare is workign overtime for Callahan on his hate blog. It is pretty obvious he is now part of the Callahan bandwagon. Sad to see Jerry Seyfried bought off, I guess he wants to be elected that bad.

    Most of the nonsense O'Hare is blabing about is untrue but that never stopped him in the past.

    Of course makes you wonder how the city taxpayers feel about paying their mayor to campaign for another office.