Is DaVinci Center a Fit in Easton?

Da Vinci Science City – Easton WaterfrontWithout question, Easton looks much better today than it did just a few short years ago. Mayor Sal Panto, who is an enthusiastic ambassador when he talks about what once was known as Shadtown, deserves much of t…

Dent Commends "Mad Dog" Nomination

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis to be his secretary of defense. Congressman Charlie Dent has been no fan of Trump, but applauds the selection of the “Warrior Monk.”

“I commend President-Elect Donald Trump for naming retired United States Marine Corp General James Mattis as his choice for Secretary of Defense. I believe that General Mattis will serve our country and the men and women of our Armed Forces with the same distinction and integrity as he did for four decades wearing the uniform of the United States Marines. As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that is tasked with meeting our nation’s military construction needs, I look forward to working with General Mattis and his team.”

NorCo Council Condemns Possibe Cunningham Conflict on Chinese Board

Don Cunningham

As reported here yesterday, Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) CEO Don Cunningham has decided to accept no compensation as a board member at plastic company Fuling Global. “While it’s perfectly legal for me to serve, I have learned that perception often becomes people’s reality, and I don’t want to cause any harm to LVEDC or Fuling.”  But that did nothing to dissuade Northampton County Council from adopting a resolution condemning what had happened.

Hayden Phillips, who sponsored the resolution, was aware of Cunningham’s decision to accept no compensation. But he went on with it anyway. “The bell’s rung, you can’t unring a bell,” he said. “I think we should still go through with this.”

Bob Werner, who has clashed with Cunningham in the past, called Cunningham’s letter a “walkback.” “It’s an ‘I’m sorry’ after I hit you.” Saying he had no problem with LVEDC, Werner added, “I know Don,” and questioned whether Cunningham really was waiving the $30,000 salary. “If any one of us up here did anything like this at all, we would be fried to death.”

Executive John Brown defended Cunningham, stating it is a “common practice” among economic development professionals in the private sector, and affords a “learning experience.” He indicated that Cunningham’s willingness to forego a salary on the Fuling Board should cure any misperception. He asked Council to withdraw the resolution.

Glenn Geissinger agreed that sitting on a board was not a problem, but accepting money was. He believes Cunningham corrected that error. “I no longer have a problem with it since he’s not being compensated,” he said.

“At the very least, we should say what he did was wrong,” said Council President John Cusick

Supporting the resolution were Phillips, Werner, Cusick, Peg Ferraro, Mat Benol and Matt Dietz. Voting against it were Geissinger, Ken Kraft and Seth Vaughn.

Cathy Allen Confirmed as Director of Administration

A divided Northampton County Council voted last night to confirm Cathy Allen as Director of Administration, with a starting salary of $91,790. The vote was 6-3. Hayden Philips, Matt Diet and Bob Werner voted No. The remaining Council members supported …

Vaughn: "Who Cares?" If He Misses Important Budget Hearing

Though the legislative branch of government is generally regarded as the weakest, there is one time during the year when that changes. That’s at budget time. The legislative branch controls the purse strings and can make wholesale changes to an Executi…

NorCo Council Tables $5 Vehicle Registration Fee

In 2013, the state legislature enacted a massive gas tax, giving the Keystone State the highest gas taxes in the nation, even higher than California and New York. In addition, it authorized counties to impose a $5 “local use fee” on vehicle registrations, so long as the money is used for transportation. Eleven counties have already enacted this additional tax.

Will Northampton County be the twelfth?

That appears to be increasingly unlikely.

In July, Council killed a proposed ordinance that would require you to spend $41 to register your vehicles instead of $36. But the idea was resurrected when the County embarked on an aggressive bridge repair plan,and was scheduled for a vote at last night’s meeting.

The matter was tabled without discussion.

Pen Argyl’s Jeff Fox urged Council to vote it down. “These hurt the poorest the hardest,” he argued. ”Many of the biggest users have vehicles not registered in the county. You can call it a fee or whatever you will. It is indeed another tax. If you call yourself a fiscal conservative or care about the less advantaged within our county, vote it down.”

Northampton’s John Szazdi called it a “money grab.”

There is some concern that the decision to table is a ploy, and that the matter will be voted on again down the road.

NorCo Council Unanimously Adopts 2017 No Tax Hike Budget

LVIA’s Charles Everett (L) and Mike Dowd (R) justify $250k Braden Airpark grantAfter months of budget hearings, followed by numerous amendments, Northampton County Council voted unanimously last night to approve Executive John Brown’s $379 million spen…

Cunningham to Waive Compensation on Chinese Board

 Dear LVEDC Board and Staff, 
            I want to thank all of you for your support and excitement regarding my selection to serve as a public director on the Fuling Global board. As you know, Fuling is a unique Lehigh Valley success story. It is the only Chinese-based manufacturer making its product in Pennsylvania with American workers. I look forward to learning firsthand how international manufacturers work and helping to make Fuling successful in the U.S.
            While there is no conflict of interest for me at LVEDC to do this work, the compensation associated with a public director position has been questioned by some outside of LVEDC. It’s an honor to have been asked by Fuling to serve on its board. I did not accept it for the compensation but to learn and to help. Therefore, I’ve asked Fuling to not compensate me and to consider donating my compensation to a worthy cause or causes in the Lehigh Valley. The company has agreed.
            There is nothing more important for me professionally than making LVEDC the best it can be and having our organization held in the highest regard. While it’s perfectly legal for me to serve, I have learned that perception often becomes people’s reality, and I don’t want to cause any harm to LVEDC or Fuling.  Like all of you and most leaders in the Lehigh Valley, I sit on numerous boards. Board service is a way we learn, develop professionally and help organizations and causes. 
            Again, I thank all of you for your encouragement, excitement and support. I look forward to working with you as we head into 2017 and finalize our new 3-year strategic plan.
            My best,
            Don 

NorCo 2017 Budget: Winners and Losers

Bob Werner and Hayden PhillipsAt a lengthy budget hearing last night, Northampton County Council began the process of leaving their own mark on the $359 million spending plan proposed by Executive John Brown for next year. His 2017 budget is balanced b…

NorCo Personnel Changes Next Year

Last night, Northampton County Council approved a number of personnel changes for next year’s budget. Many of these were previously discussed, but let me summarize them:.One corrections re-entry coordinator at a salary of $53,889. With benefits, it’s $…