Did you know that private sector workers have more workplace protections than our police officers, firefighters, corrections officers, road maintenance workers, and other public employees in Pennsylvania? That’s a question State Rep. Patrick Harkins has asked his Harrisburg colleagues.
Northampton County broke ground on its first real forensic center Sept. 12. The facility will be located at the Gracedale campus, next to the 911 Center. Currently, Coroner Zach Lysek has no morgue and operates out of a small office at Louise Moore Park.
On Sept. 10, John Pequeno’s Upper Nazareth home, at 3300 block of Rising Sun Court, was destroyed by fire. No human lives were lost, but Pequeno did lose a pup named Marshall, whom he referred to as his “fur baby.” “The rest of what was lost was mostly just stuff,” he said. Nine different fire departments ultimately responded. Pequeno has been so touched by their heroic efforts that he organized a fundraiser for what he calls the Rising Sun Fire Brigade.
Northampton County Council reversed itself Sept. 5 on a pay raise for the county’s probation officers. All nonunion workers received a two percent pay hike at the beginning of the year, but probation officers were in limbo because they were in the middle of decertifying their union. That union was decertified in late January. County administrators proposed a new pay scale, identical to the old pay scale, for probation officers. This included a 2 percent increase. Probation officers wanted it made retroactive to the beginning of the year, like the rest of the county’s nonunion workforce.
Under Pennsylvania’s Election Code, 10 or more citizens have the right to challenge the Department of State’s certification of a voting system. That’s exactly what happened to the ExpressVote XL voting system, a hybrid combining a voter-verified paper trail with the simplicity of a touch screen. This system was certified by both the federal and state governments in November 2018. Eight months later, a consortium of paper ballot purists filed a challenge. This triggered an automatic re-examination, which was conducted off-site in August.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in an irregular series called “Faces of Northampton County.” It attempts to explain what county government does, as revealed by the rank-and-file people there. One of its core functions is the back-end of crime. Police make the arrests. What happens next is up to our judicial system.
Judge F.P. Kimberly McFadden, Northampton County’s first female judge, was up for retention in November. But on Aug. 19, she notified Governor Tom Wolf of her withdrawal from the retention election. She also advised she would be resigning, effective Nov. 30.
She’s a graduate of Bryn Mawr College (1974) and received her Juris Doctor degree from Villanova University in 1978.
After her appointment to the bench in 1988, she was elected in 1989 and retained in 1999 and 2009.
She’s been a judge for 31 years.
Next year, all but one of Northampton County’s nine judges will be either Italian or Lebanese. John Morganelli has already been picked by both parties for Judge Giordano’s vacancy. The executive committees of both Democratic and Republican parties decided to keep the Mediterranean influence Aug. 29 when they chose the party nominees to succeed retiring Judge F.P.Kimberly McFadden.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey visited Northampton Community College’s Lipkin Theatre Aug. 21 for a town hall attended by a friendly but small audience of about 100 people, including Democratic area elected officials. Over the course of an hour, the usually soft-spoken legislator responded to a host of questions on topics extending from the electoral college to infrastructure.
All of Northampton County’s unions, which represent about 75 percent of the workforce, now have contracts. The last holdout was the corrections officers’ union, represented by AFSCME local 2549. Their agreement is the result of a binding arbitration award July 26. This award was approved by Northampton County Council Aug. 16 in an 8-0 vote.