Lehigh Valley

Controversy swirls over Bethlehem program

Controversy swirls over Bethlehem program

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - In March, former Bethlehem city employee Dana Grubb says he complained to the state that Bethlehem's health director was allegedly spending more time on the city's Continuous Improvement program, a cost-cutting program, than on health matters.

This is an alleged violation of state law because the health director is paid by the state and not to work on other city business.

A few weeks later, a Bethlehem city employee who was unaware of the complaint gave Grubb an email that he says backed his claim, but after he used it in a follow up letter to the state, Bethlehem's city administrator, David Brong, found out.

Grubb says Brong started an investigation to find out whom the email came from.

"A rogue administrator deciding on his own that city emails could be investigated without the appropriate authorizations," said Grubb.

Mayor Robert Donchez says he had no knowledge of the investigation that was carried out by the city administrator.

"I was surprised," said Mayor Bob Donchez.

Donchez confirms Brong didn't have authorization for the investigation.

Donchez says he created a new policy that all future investigations must be approved by him and the city's legal counsel.

The investigation was made public at Tuesday's city council meeting, where Grubb told council many employees feel bullied and demeaned by Brong's administration of the CI program, alleging Brong and his administrators have sent questionable emails to each other and have given certain city employees inappropriate nicknames.

Donchez wouldn't comment on his discussions with Brong.

"That is not my style and that is not my approach to people and it will not happen under a Donchez administration I could guarantee that," said Donchez.

The State Health Department found no merit to Grubbs complaint.

We reached out to David Brong for comment on the investigation and the allegations, but he did not return our calls.

In the meantime the mayor says he will wait a year to decide if he should keep or cancel the CI program.

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