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.
Most employers, even in the public sector, hate having to deal with unions. A collective bargaining unit can provide legal protections to an employee whose boss wants to discipline or fire him. On Aug. 16, Northampton County Council may very well have punished a group of county workers simply because they left their union. County Council members Kevin Lott and Bill McGee, both of whom are union agents, led the charge against 64 court-appointed professionals, who consist mostly of probation and pretrial services officers and court reporters.
A Bethlehem man has been charged with a double-murder, arson, burglary and related offenses stemming from a January fire at 2901 Stephen St. in Palmer Township.
Drew Alan Rose, 37, was charged Friday with the homicides of 97-year-old Virginia Houck and her son, Roger Houck, 61, of Seattle. The motive for these alleged actions was Rose’s need for his half of $900 in rent at a Broadway apartment he shared with his mother.
By a 7-1 vote, Northampton County Council approved a new contact for healthcare at the jail at its July 18 meeting. It’s with Primecare, which has spent 19 years with the county. The contract amount is $24 million over seven years, with options to extend it to 10 years for $36 million.
It’s no longer just nonbinding plastic straw bans. Northampton County Council member Tara Zrinski is now pursuing a new resolution, also nonbinding, taking aim at the PennEast Pipeline route through Bethlehem Tp. This one calls for an evacuation plan and asks PennEast to provide equipment for first responders.
Tara Zrinski is an at-large member of NorCo Council. Her resolution was discussed by Council’s Energy Committee July 17.