Amateur Hour With NorCo Executive John Brown

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Former Bangor Mayor John Brown pulled out a surprise win over a well-funded rising Democratic star, former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, in this November’s Northampton County Executive race, and now that he’s in office homeboy plainly has no clue WTF he’s doing.

First Brown stopped putting campaign finance reports online, so you have to physically go down to the Northampton County courthouse to see how much money Republican developers in Allentown poured into Brown’s campaign undetected at the last minute, or how bad Eric Nagy fucked up John Callahan’s campaign in the final stretch.

But it’s the cabinet appointments where Brown’s quite literally hosting amateur hour, with supremely unqualified nominations for important leadership positions, one of which had to be retracted.

The retraction of the Public Defender nominee was amazing given that the tea people also swept the Council elections, so Brown is working with a majority of Republican stupids here. It’s not like Democratic partisanship is the hold up, so you know it’s gotta be pretty bad when even the tea people can spot an unqualified hack. Brown’s pick for DCED head, to give another example, is a voice-over artist who hasn’t actually worked in economic development for 13 years.

Part of what you’re seeing is that the Republican shadow bureaucracy in Northampton County is just incredibly thin since the party’s been out of power for decades. Usually you’d just rehire some of the folks who worked in the last administration from your party because they already know what they’re doing, they share your values, and can help you get things up and running quickly.

Brown doesn’t have that luxury, but instead of keeping on Democrats who worked for the last administration of centrist Democratic Executive John Stoffa until he found somewhat qualified Republicans, he’s moving quickly to replace them with Republican patronage appointees. Welcome to Tea County.

This entry was posted in Lehigh Valley, Munipocalypse 2013, Regional Politics.

4 Responses to Amateur Hour With NorCo Executive John Brown

  1. GDub says:

    That was such a strange race, with such low turnout, that I doubt the last week’s advertising really made much of a difference, unless Allentown developers somehow paid people to stay home.

    Doesn’t mean it isn’t problematic. In fact, I’d say it underlines the hazards of creating economic development policies that are so closely aligned to the interests of just a few individuals, rather than broader policies that anyone can benefit from.

    Plus, I thought we were so lucky to have a big time urbanist like Reilly? Guess the shoe is on the other foot now?

    • Jon Geeting says:

      It isn’t that the NIZ is tailored to just a few individuals, Reilly is just an early investor. There are 30 more years of NIZ subsidies for others to take advantage of once early movers like Reilly show that the investment pays off.

      On paper it seems weird that he donated to Brown instead of Callahan, since Callahan is one of the most pro-development Democrats around. It seems like it was more of a personal spite issue, related to Callahan speaking out against the NIZ in the middle of that controversy.

  2. GDub says:

    As things have developed, it seems pretty clear that the city’s consensus is that its interests and Reilly’s interests are largely the same and it has acted that way. From a political, set-the-groundwork perspective, this isn’t a good development. Why should Reilly care what the mayor of another city has to say about a state law?

    Putting your hopes in a benevolent dictator usually ends up with the guy just being a dictator.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      To say that you need to be able to show who else is applying for these loans and not getting them. Everybody else who’s applied for the construction subsidies has gotten money. Reilly’s just asking for more money earlier than everyone else. It doesn’t mean that others won’t also get money when they move later.