NORCO: Brown has some good news ... and even better news
Northampton County Executive John Brown usually passes when given an opportunity to address county council. But he had good news and even better news at the Aug. 17 meeting.
First, he reported that the annual payment that must be set aside for worker’s compensation claims, set by an outside actuary, has been decreased sharply, from $9 million to just $6 million. This means an additional $3 million will go into the general fund next year.
Second, he predicted that Gracedale should finish this year in the black. If so, it will be the second year in a row that the county’s nursing home has actually made money.
Brown cautioned that nothing is certain at this point. He added added that the money earned this year should be a little less than last year, when the facility closed the books with about $800,000.
In addition to Brown’s good news, Gracedale Administrator Raymond Soto reported that Gracedale’s Medicare rating is now two stars, thanks to an increase to two stars in its rating for quality measures, which is resident care. This rating means the nursing home is below average as opposed to much below average.
This quality measures rating has increased as administrators have begun phasing in a new protocol that reduces the use of psychotropic drugs, which are often criticized as chemical restraints.
In other business, Council welcomed former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning, who told them a story about Juan Francisco López-Sánchez. He had been deported from the United States five times, but kept returning. He had seven felony convictions. He had just been released from prison in San Francisco, which refused to honor a request (called a detainer) by federal authorities to continue holding him.
After his release, Sánchez fired a stolen gun three times in the vicinity of Pier 14, a popular tourist destination. One of these bullets hit Kate Steinlein in the back, puncturing her aorta. She died two hours later.
Kate’s Law is a bill that increase the penalties for illegal aliens who commit crimes in this country after having been deported.
This bill has passed in the House with bipartisan support. Locally, both Congressman Charlie Dent and Matt Cartwright voted for it.
Another bill, the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act,” has also passed the House with the support of both local Congressmen. This measure takes aim at what are known as sanctuary cities. First, it requires an annual list of all jurisdictions that refuse to assist federal authorities with the removal of undocumented immigrants who commit crimes. Second, it removes any legal liability imposed on local jails that honor federal detainers. Third, it provides a private right of action against municipalities that refuse to follow federal immigration law.
Both of these bills are now in the Senate. Browning asked Council to adopt a resolution affirming support for these measures. Hayden Phillips has agreed to sponsor this resolution.