The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 5, 2012

Shoch String: No prayer of Bridy receiving Shoch emails

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

A email string provided to The Daily Item from Northumerland County Commissioner Rick Shoch regarding his communications with county workers and fellow commissioners, accompanying a story on Page A4 of Wednesday’s edition of The Daily Item headlined “No prayer of Bridy receiving Shoch emails”:

From: Steffen, Gary

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 3:07 PM

To: z_everyone

Cc: Clausi, Vinny; Bridy, Stephen; Shoch, Richard

Subject: to all county employees

To all Department Heads and employees:

In the past several weeks, Department Heads and other county employees have been summoned to the Commissioners Office to speak to a Commissioner. To date, a number of those employees have expressed concerns that they have felt uncomfortable being placed in that position and subsequently found their names or titles displayed in news articles.

Today, Chairman Clausi and Commissioner Bridy have mandated that to protect the integrity of employees, employees have the right to have two Commissioners present when they feel uneasy being questioned or interviewed by a Commissioner. Additionally, if any employee finds themselves being placed into a situation that they are not completely comfortable with, please contact the Chief Clerk immediately. Thank you.

From: Shoch, Richard

Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 12:35 PM

To: Steffen, Gary; z_everyone

Cc: Clausi, Vinny; Bridy, Stephen

Subject: RE: to all county employees

To all Department Heads and Employees:

I apologize that I was not able to address the below email until now.  I was away on vacation last week in under circumstances that made it difficult to access emails, etc.  I guess it’s true what they say about “when the cat’s away…”

I have already met with and discussed this matter with several department heads and other employees, including some of those who were mentioned specifically in some of the recent newspaper articles.  Amazingly, none of them indicated they needed a “plus 1” present in order to feel comfortable meeting with me, and I get the impression from the conversations I’ve had that most of you recognize these latest theatrics for exactly what they are.  In fact, if you would refer back to my “Bread and Circuses” op-ed piece from a few months ago, you will see that I devoted several paragraphs to the predictable tactic of creating the illusion that the person with an opposing viewpoint lacks credibility and is actually the “enemy”  of the people, or in the case the employees.

As any of you who have met with me know, I have never “summoned” anyone to my office and given them an “ultimatum”, as was suggested in the press.  And, as any employee who has met with me can tell you, the only thing I have ever asked of anyone is that they be honest with me.  If the environment in Northumberland County government is such that asking employees to be honest with me makes them feel uncomfortable, then I would suggest to you that the forces that are creating a poor environment in this county lie somewhere other than with me.  

As for the statements from the specific employees involved with the DCED grant issue, from the conversations I’ve had with some of them, their reaction appears to have been generated by: (1) an isolated, but important, mischaracterization of one of my statements that appeared in the Shamokin News Item; and (2) the influence of my fellow commissioners, for reasons that I think are obvious to everyone at this point.  The statement that appeared in the News Item to the affect that the “..other funds could not be accounted for..”  was inaccurate and never said by me.  What I did state is what DCED representatives stated to me.  That is, that at this point they had identified documentation issues with the administration of the grant, and they do not know how much money the county may be required to repay to DCED.  Please know that, since becoming aware of this issue, I have been working with DCED in the hopes of ensuring that no funds will need to be repaid.

I was particularly disappointed to see Ms. Jeremiah’s claim that I have not been supportive of her since, as she well knows, we are only several weeks removed from an incident in which I stood up for her against both of the other two Commissioners when I thought she was being treated unfairly regarding an issue.  Be that as it may, after reading that some of these employees felt compelled to tender their resignations, I certainly hope that, if they ever did in fact consider this, Mr. Stavinsky would set those thoughts aside and continue his dedicated service to the county.

I will leave you with this closing thought.  I would encourage all of the county’s employees to think back over the last several years, and to note in the years to come, which of the Commissioners has in fact ever “summoned” you or a co-worker to their office and made threats, issued ultimatums, or made you feel afraid that you could loose your job if you didn’t comply with a demand.  I would encourage all of you to talk to your families and as many of your friends as you can about that, and encourage them to go to the polls in three years and cast votes that can change that environment in the future.

Thank you,

Richard J. Shoch

From: Bridy, Stephen

Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 1:03 PM

To: Shoch, Richard

Subject: RE: to all county employees


I am disappointed that you yet again bring county employees into an error created by yourself.  It is my hope that you will apologize to Kathy Jeremiah, Joe Picarelli, Pat Mack, Gary Steffan as well as Gregg Stravinski for yet again listing individual employees by name.  We need to move forward for the betterment of all in the county.

Kindest regards,

Stephen Bridy, Commissioner

County of Northumberland

From: Shoch, Richard

Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2012 10:49 AM

To: Bridy, Stephen

Subject: RE: to all county employees


Initially, I wasn’t even going to bother responding to this tripe, but I feel compelled to let you know that I am familiar with the feeling of “disappointment” that you speak of.  

It is similar to the feeling I had on a night back in December of last year when I received a call from Vinny letting me know that Jim Zurich had just called him to indicate that you were secretly planning to nominate Vinny for Chairman, even though you had publicly and privately indicated that you were supporting me.   Vinny wanted to show me that you would gladly stab me in the back, which, of course, you did.  While it was certainly your right to nominate anyone you wanted, a man would have contacted me first to explain why he had changed his mind, not spring it on me at the meeting.  I was equally disappointed when you later claimed to me that you had “prayed” about it, since I knew the plot had been in the works for weeks.

I would imaging your feelings of “disappointment” might also be similar to the feelings I had when I discovered that you were willing to spend additional taxpayer dollars for an extra Westlaw account for me (one that I never asked for), in order to attempt to set me up and “nail me” in case I would have used it for my private practice (or, perhaps you would have gone so far as to try to obtain my user id and password and make it look like I had used it inappropriately?).  If you’re wondering how I know about this, it is because your mentor “threw you under the bus”, as he is fond of saying.  When Vinny and Dave Fisher were in my office on another matter, I mentioned to Dave that I would prefer not to have the Westlaw account, both because of the additional expense for something I really didn’t require, and for professional liability reasons (and because I can usually see through your and Vinny’s clumsy attempts to set me up).  Your mentor spent 5-10 minutes trying to convince me to take the Westlaw account.  When it became clear to him that I wasn’t going to take the bait, he, in classic Vinny fashion, tried to gain some measure of loyalty from me by offering up that I was smart not to take it since  “that Bridy was trying to set you up with it”.  Of course, with him having known it was a set-up and having spent so much energy trying to convince me to do it, he inadvertently revealed that he was your co-conspirator.  Also classic Vinny fashion.

You and I both know that I could go on and on with the list of “disappointing” things that you are doing behind the scenes, but why bother.  The important thing is that you understand that I see exactly who and what you are. So, you can stop wasting my time with emails like this proposing to instruct me on how to conduct myself.  I’ll own everything I do.  Unfortunately for you, I’ll make you own everything you do, as well.

By the way, I believe it was your mentor, not me, who arranged to have employees’ names in the paper by herding them into his office so they could give their statements to the press under his watchful eye.