Lehigh Valley

Northampton County controller drops suit against county executive

Stephen Barron had sued John Brown after Brown hired Sahl Communications for the county

The lawsuits between Northampton County Executive John Brown and Northampton County Controller Stephen Barron have finally ended.

Barron says he dropped his lawsuit against Brown, noting, "This doesn't mean this is OK or I like the contract, but there may be no legal recourse."

The lawsuit had been over Brown's hiring of Sahl Communications to develop and implement a communications plan for the county.

Brown's initial contract with Sahl Communications was terminated after Barron filed a lawsuit saying the hiring violated the county home rule charter and administrative code.

Brown then put the job out for bid and eventually rehired Sahl Communications for the same job.

Barron filed a second lawsuit in response because he felt that the position for Sahl Communications should be filled with a cabinet member.

Now Barron says he dropped that suit because , during a hearing last month, a judge did not agree with the argument that the agreement with Sahl Communications was broken up into smaller pieces to avoid county council oversight.

Barron says although some members of council have not enacted their role in oversight, the arguments "became narrow" and were beginning to move away from arguing the purpose of the contract and what it's being used for.

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