Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Bethlehem Tp to Make Home Inspections "Easier"

Bethlehem Township's Board of Commissioners have decided to tweak its residential resale inspection process. At an unusually collegial meeting on October 5, President Marty Zawarski led a discussion on changes to "make things easier" for residents seeking to sell their homes. One change that has already been made is to provide home inspections when requested, as opposed to waiting until an agreement of sale is in hand. Board members also plan to eliminate some of the more "onerous" requirements in home inspection.

An example of this was highlighted by both Zawarski and Tom Nolan. For years, the space between stairway railing balusters was six inches apart. But a few years ago, that was suddenly reduced to require that balusters be placed every four inches. This would require homeowners to rip out and install new balusters at considerable expense.

"We need to use a little more commonsense," observed Michael Hudak.

Planning Director Nathan Jones said his staff is currently reviewing inspection requirements to weed out code requirements that are regarded as burdensome.

Commissioners also agreed, by a 4-0 vote, to recognize the Freemansburg-Bethlehem Township Athletic Association as the Township's official Little league and Senior Legion sports organization. In June, the Board recognized the Bethlehem Township Athletic Association, also known as the Bulldogs, as an "official" Township youth sports group. Both of these organizations are nonprofits supported, in part, by public tax dollars.

According to Hudak, 98% of the baseball players come from the Township.

In the aftermath of Township police successfully tracking down and capturing a suspected burglar, Commissioners had no problem approving, by a 4-0 vote, a number of funding requests for the police department. These included a Toyota Scion ($24,623), radios for detective cars ($5,920.80) and polygraph exams for new recruits ($2550). Part of this money was awarded to the township by the County Gaming Authority in the form of grants.

Pat Breslin was absent from this meeting. Commissioners will meet again on Monday, October 19, at the Municipal Building.

NorCo Controller Race Stretching Campaign Dollars

Steve Barron on the left and Hayden Phillips on the right. Dean Browning is referee.  
Northampton County Controller's race pits incumbent Steve Barron, a Democrat, against challenger Hayden "The Colonel" Phillips, a Republican. Both candidates are going to have an opportunity to demonstrate who is best at running a campaign with limited funding. The federal investigation into pay-to-play in Reading and Allentown has made potential contributors think twice. For that, many mailmen will be thankful as election day approaches. So how are the candidates reaching the voters.

Barron appears to be making heavy use of technology. He has been placing Facebook ads strategically that are designed to reach a targeted audience. He also purchased an auto dialer and is using it to reach super voters and for polling.

Phillips appears to be relying heavily on a grass roots effort based on supporters from the Lehigh Valley Tea Party, along with mainstream Republicans.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Opinions Online About to Heat Up

Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature on this blog. It gives you an opportunity to weigh in on any topic. The instructions are on my left sidebar. You can also call Opinions Online at 385-325-2564 with your comment. I thought people might have lost interest, but a few entries on Friday proved otherwise.

Things are going to heat up this weekend, as municipal races get closer. I already have comments from readers in two municipalities - Bushkill and South Whitehall Tps - that I don't regularly cover. These are the kind of comments I envisioned when I started this forum.

This is your chance to weigh in on any race or anything else that might be bothering you. Had a bad experience dealing with some local official? A good one? Tell us about it.

Bethlehem NAACP Talks Student Walkouts, Education

Esther Lee led the discussion
Against the backdrop of a student walkout in Allentown, Bethlehem's NAACP hosted a forum devoted to educational inequality on September 29 at Town Hall. About 35 people, most of them black or Hispanic, attended. This racial disparity was noted by outspoken moderator and NAACP President Esther Lee. "That's not my fault," she said to laughter. "People hear the word NAACP and ... ."

Wearing her ever present church hat, Lee peppered panelists and even audience members with questions about the walkout, the absence of diversity among teachers and the educational gap between white and minority students.

Student Walkout

"It starts in the home," said Rev. Melvin Tatem
Though opposed to the walkout, Lee stated that "[w]e would not have that situation in Allentown if those young people thought they were being treated fairly." Mayor Bob Donchez, who spent 35 years as a teacher in Allentown, called education "one of the great equalizers," but what sets Bethlehem apart from Allentown is that it is an area school district that includes suburbs like Hanover Township. Many years ago, Allentown passed on an opportunity to create an area school district.that could have included Salisbury, Donchez observed.

Panelists like Lehigh University's Dr. James Peterson insisted there would have been no walkout at all if school board members just listened to student grievances at a crowded and contentious meeting just a few days before the student strike. He said students have many legitimate grievances, like old textbooks and far fewer teachers than just a few years ago.

Chief Mark DiLuzio calls himself "the last teacher"
But Rev. Melvin Tatem, Pastor at Grace Deliverance Baptist Church had a completely different view.

"It starts in the home," the cleric observed, speaking in a soft voice that grew louder as he continued. "If we don't do our job, everything else falls down. ... If you don't respect your parents, you won't respect the police." He want on to speak of three generations in just one family being in jail.

Chief Mark DiLuzio, sitting right next to Tatem, called himself the "last teacher" that a young person sees before being sent to the prison system. Both Chief DiLuzio and Mayor Donchez also decried the poverty in Allentown and elsewhere within the Lehigh Valley. DiLuzio asked how, in a country as blessed as the United States, the poverty rate could go up three per cent in just eight years. Donchez decried a "permanent underclass" with "very limited skills."

Educational Disparity   

Mayor Bob Donchez (L) and Dr. James Peterson (R)
Dr. Joseph Roy, Superintendent of the Bethlehem Area School District, not only agreed that there is disparity, but told the audience it starts early. A gap in reading and math proficiency among white, Latino and black students starts in the fourth grade, and widens as students get older.That's why he believes all-day kindergarten is so important. "We have to start young and get kids on a successful track early," he stressed.

But all-day kindergartens and teachers cost money in a "Don't tax me" society that is increasingly unwilling to pay the price.

"We've lost respect for the public good," observed Roy."We don;t have money for roads and bridges," he said, referring to our crumbling infrastructure.

Mayor Donchez blamed extremists on both sides of the ideological divide to whom "compromise" is a dirty word. "We can certainly do better,": he observed.

Minority Teacher Shortage 

Both Dr. Roy and Dr. Peterson agreed with Lee's observation that "the majority of teachers are white while the majority of students are not." But Dr. Peterson explained that there's "no pipeline" to crate minority teachers. He stated more needs to be done to make "teaching a profession to which students aspire."

Peterson, who directs the African Studies program at Lehigh, noted that one reason so few high schools offer African American studies is because so few teachers are qualified in that area.

Panelists participating in this forum included Mayor Bob Donchez, Police Chief Mark DiLuzio, BASD Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy, African American Studies Professor Dr. James Peterson, Bethlehem YWCA Executive Director Stephanie Hnatiw and Randi Blauth from the American Association of University Women.

Emil Giordano Poised to Win Seat in Superior Court

I'm used to seeing Emil Giordano on baseball fields and basketball courts during the hot days of summer, but he's MIA. He's instead been all over the state picking up the support he'll need to win a seat as one of the state's fifteen Superior Court judges. In fact, if you haven't done so, I'd recommend that you look at his Facebook page just to see all the great places and people in what really is a magnificent state.

This pic says it all. Who but Judge Giordano would not only let someone photobomb a campaign pic, but would also then load it onto his page?

A man with a sense of humor. A man who, despite working hard, is still willing to laugh at himself. That is Giordano. He is one Republican who will get my vote this election cycle. I suspect he will win big in Northampton County and throughout the state. He will lose Philly. That is where his opponent, Alice Dubow, is based. But he will win everywhere else and should win the race.

Fed Ed's Picks In Allentown Races

Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski, aka Public Official #3, should be regarded by any candidate in this election as a pariah. But despite a federal investigation and mounting evidence that he was the ringleader of a scheme to deprive citizens of their right to honest services, he has arrogantly continued to inject himself in local races.

Last week, in the middle of a student walkout in Allentown, Pawlowski instructed fellow Democrats to work against popular school board President Bob Smith. In 2010, Bob Smith seriously injured himself when he wrapped his arms around a suicide jumper as she hurled herself off a roof. He broke her fall with his own body.

Christian that he is, Pawlowski told Democrats that Smith is no longer "right in the head."  This is typical of the way he speaks about others behind their backs, something I'm sure the feds have learned from reviewing hours of recorded conversations.

Later in the week, from his Facebook page, Fed Ed plugged the City Council candidacies of Candida Affa and Jeff Glazier. He also is backing Mary Ellen Koval for Controller and Audrey Mathison for the school board. He backed these candidates in the primary, too, along with Charlie Thiel and Elizabeth Martinez in the school board races.

People backed by Pawlowski have became his rubber stamps. That's why voters should think before pulling the lever for anyone he supports. In the school board race, Scott Armstrong and Bob Smith have stood up to Pawlowski so long and so often that they deserve election for that reason alone. On City Council, you'll never find a better watchdog of finances than Lou Hershman. And Roger MacLean, the City's former police chief, has first hand experience dealing with Pawlowski's betrayal of the public trust, which started in his police department. Finally, Steven Ramos would be an actual controller, unlike the rubber stamp wasting space in that office now.

Are the people of Allentown finally awake? Will they continue to allow bluebloods like J.B. Reilly or Sy Traub to rob them to give to the rich?

Stay tuned. Election's just one month away. If you don't register now, it's too late.

Joe Thomas Seeks Holy Grail of Pizza

Like a Knight of the Round Table, Joe Thomas is on a noble quest. It's one that should last years and take him on many adventures. He seeks the perfect pizza. Thus far, his tour has taken him to Nicolosi's (P-burg), Quality Pizza (Easton), New York Style Stomboli Pizza (N. 17th, A-town) and Mivajo's (Nazareth). You can follow the Joe Thomas Pizza Tour on Facebook.

I wish Joe Thomas lots of luck on his journey, but hope it's one that will never end. There are so many great Italian restaurants here in the Lehigh Valley, and I love them all. Pizza Joe (Nazareth) is my favorite, followed by Rosanna's (Bethlehem) and Antonio's (25th St Shopping Center).

A friend tells me Pizza D'Oro (Easton) is also very good.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Opinions Online, 10/3/15

During a fairly wild week in the Blogosphere, I received only one comment for Opinions Online. This feature depends strictly upon readers. If you want a forum for your views, or want to discuss a topic completely different from the things I bring up, this is your chance. You can post comments by clicking on my left sidebar or calling 385-325-2564. I will run them every Saturday as a regular feature.

A municipal election draws near. This is an opportunity for you to support or oppose different candidates in the Townships, Boroughs and cities, as well as in the county races. You don't need to pay to get your view across.


The final well-deserved nail in the coffin of the Morning Call will be their website. It is borderline unreadable on a smartphone due to the large masthead and constant "subscribe now" boxes you have to X-out. I've yet to use a desktop/laptop computer that the website does not grind to a screeching halt. It literally locks up my laptop for 3 minutes while it loads. Too busy, too much crap bogging it down, unorganized, tough to figure out what's new and what's been on there for a week, it used to be far better. Express-Times wins this one.


The Sands Bethlehem Event Center needs to do a better job of scheduling acts and advertising. The center has a larger capacity than the electric factory, yet they get few to any popular acts. Many of the acts that go to Philly don't like visiting there anyways because the vibe there is horrid. Philadelphia gets skipped on national tours all the time. Advertise Bethlehem as a way to play a show in eastern PA at a place more awesome than Philly! Hell, hire the person that schedules the EFac if you have to. There's money to be made here if they can start getting in better acts.


From Rich Fegley: I would want to support a write-in candidate for Allentown City Council that would have a chance of winning in the upcoming election.

At this point in time, I'd would ask the readers of this blog who they think would have a chance of winning as a write-in. My social circles are not as big as some may think and my well informed choices for candidates are few.

Pawlowski had money $$$ and Mike Fleck to help good citizens decide who to vote for. Where are all the PAC mailers now? Where are the PAC yard signs?

Who should Allentown citizens be voting into City Council on November 3rd? Will voters just vote straight party ticket and write-ins will not be considered? Lou Hershman, will he be considered by party voters?


--The UN General Secretary is calling for gun control in the U.S. over the reported 9 people killed on an Oregon college campus -- This killing of people by gunfire domestically is done by novice non-shooters ,sports or taxpayers. Why are black males disproportionately involved in these crimes? I for one would like to see the NAACP educate our children of color about responsibility and how to be a good citizen. The President will have 'egg on his face" after it come out the shooter asked each victim' what religion they were before they were' shot . He shot the Christians.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Freebies For Bloggers?

West Easton blogger Matt Dees reports that he gets freebies from local establishments as a result of his website. ... Jars of honey. ... Tickets to the State Theatre. ... A bug-a-salt gun.

Maybe I should be nicer.


Reminder: Opinions Online Publishes at Midnight!

If you want your opinions on any topic expressed here, click on my left sidebar and post a comment. You can also call 385-325-2564 with a comment. Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature, and is your opportunity to weigh in on any topic with a short comment.

If It's Monkey Business, It Matters ... to Feds

Tony Iannelli likes to end his popular Business Matters show by saying, "If it's business, it matters!" Monkey business matters to the feds, and Tony's name was added with others to an increasingly long list of players in the federal investigation into Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski's pay to play practices.

It's important to note that most of the people identified in this latest round of names, like the first, are completely innocent. Tony Iannelli, for example, is a gentleman and one of the nicest persons I've ever met.

What this tells me is that Fed Ed is not going gently into that good night, and feds are getting all the information they can to build what already appears to be a strong RICO case.

NorCo's Ten Commandments Saga Continues

The mystery concerning a Ten Commandments plaque in Northampton County Council's chambers continues. This time, Council member Mat Benol is unable to get to it.

He first placed the Decalogue on a wall behind his seat on July 1, but noticed it was missing a month later.

This was the second time that has happened. When he was on Council, Ron Angle had hammered a plaque onto the wall behind his seat, but it vanished soon after he left office. Despite a $500 reward offered by Angle, it was never recovered.

Then Executive John Stoffa suggested that Moses must have it..

After Mat Benol's $100 plaque disappeared, he purchased another. He put it up before every meeting and when they ended, he locked it away in his own private courthouse cabinet.

But the wall was bare at the October 1 meeting. Someone smashed the lock Benol had placed on his personal Ark of the Covenant, making it impossible for him to retrieve any of the Commandments, to say nothing of all ten. The county's maintenance staff will break into this cabinet, but it's unknown whether the Decalogue is still there or has vanished again.

Though no one has been identified as a suspect, the Pope had a strange look on his face when he left Philly on Sunday.

Seth Vaughn was reportedly considering introducing an 11th Commandment banning selfies on county property, but pulled his ordinance when he learned of the latest mystery.

No word on whether DA John Morganelli has been asked to investigate. But I think it's time to haul the Pope in front of the Grand Jury.

John Brown Proposing a No-Tax Hike Budget

Northampton County Executive John Brown is proposing a no-tax hike budget next year. His 2016 spending plan was released to Council at the end of their meeting on October 1, two days before it was due. Northampton County administrators will post Brown's proposal online for public inspection as well.

The budget plans to use $9.3 million in reserve funds to balance out spending next year, and will keep the tax rate steady at 11.8 mills.

Brown proposes no reductions to the health plans currently offered to county workers beyond those imposed last year.He is giving nonunion employees a cost of living adjustment in their wages. He also wants to set aside one mill in taxes ($7.4 million) for capital projects.

If Council fails to make any changes or rejects this proposal, it will become the budget for next year. Council can, however, make changes to the budget.

Four 911 Dispatchers Honored by NorCo Council

Four Northampton County tele-communicators were honored by Council on October 1 for exemplary service in responding to two different incidents in October and December of last year. "Our whole 911 system is something we should be proud of," said Scott Parsons. These dispatchers were also recently honored by St. Luke's Hospital during their annual Night of Heroes. They are the first Northampton County employees to be so honored.

"We take them for granted, but what they do saves lives," said Director of Administration Luis Campos. These dispatchers are (from left to right) Jamie Horinko, Erin Stahley and Liza Bonisese. The fourth person honored, A.J. Olszewski, was unable to attend the formal presentation.

Northampton County's 911 Center is administered by Todd Weaver. Allentown, Bethlehem, Lehigh and Northampton County are currently conducting a study on the possible merger of 911 services.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Allen High School Student Speaks Out Against Walkout

Nicole [redacted] is proof that there's hope for all of us. She's a 16 year-old student at William Allen High School. She won't be stepping into Nate Whips' stretch limo today or anytime soon. She also refuses to buy the bullshit burgers being sold by walkout organizer Michael Frassetto. Here's a message she sent to him via Facebook. 591 likes. 290 shares. The truth is a very powerful weapon.

A message to Michael Frassetto,
(If someone could tag him,I'd appreciate it)
Your intentions are being represented in the wrong way. You will never be taken seriously with the way you're trying to show your care for the students. If you GENUINELY cared about students, you would motivate them to sit in class, stay in school, and not promote 5 illegal absences. To tell your followers to sit on the steps of Allen in the morning, prohibiting kids who WANT to go to school and WANT to learn, is basically telling us our education is not important. I genuinely love William Allen high school. Blasting bull horns, and yelling at students "don't walk in if you don't want to get raped!17% of asd students get raped!" Is a disruption of my education and disgusting. Spewing lies and false statistics only to connive young high school students. To be honest, you should be ashamed of yourself for motivating students to skip school for a week and lying to them saying they won't get in trouble. Illegal absences are a thing buddy. You're allowing young kids to commit truancy. By also claiming "police and security guards are on our side," is FALSE. They're not supporting you, they're just not arresting you or kicking you out because your actions are not illegal-yet. Multiple times I have heard you say "No one learns at ASD." I've been in this school district my entire life, and I'm in fact an advanced and AP student,because anything is possible when you let your mind open to education and when you do not surround yourself with negative influences, like yourself. And to be quite honest, I feel bad for every single young person who has fed into your lies and influence. Let us not forget that you and your team were letting students drive in a limousine with you? Creepy and unprofessional. I recommend you stop making me, and other students uncomfortable while walking to school, and go back to teaching at your own school, and be the "great teacher" you want ASD to have. Act like your age and be a positive influence on this community.So, brb, I have homework to do, because you know, my teachers actually teach and care about their students.
A hard working student from Allen who loves their education.

Frassetto never answered Nicole. Nate Whips is repeating lies on Facebook, falsely claiming security attempted to lock students in and that the Superintendent installed a $100,000 home theater with school funds.

Allen High School Parent Speaks Out Against Walkout

Carmen Aguila is a William Allen High School graduate who even volunteered volunteered her time for Michael Frassetto's United Youth Party. This is how she was treated by him on Tuesday morning for exercising her First Amendment right to disagree with him.

I am really hurt and feel very disrespected by your actions towards me this morning. I was minding my own business, on my way to work when I came across you and your protest. You asked if I support the walkout and my opinion is, no I do not. So you decided to embarrass me and started yelling over you're bullhorn and pointing to me. You and the kids were booing me. You let the kids curse at me. From day one I have always supported your group, being that my son and his best friend (who I love like a son) are part of the group. I volunteered time and energy also. You kept yelling over your bullhorn and wouldn't let me speak, and also the grin on your face. I wanted to let the kids know, ( which I wasn't even going to say anything until you started), my son was involved in the group, I volunteered for the group, but my son went to school everyday and went on to college. But you wouldn't allow me to speak. So that is what these kids are doing, out there disrespecting people. Even though I do not agree with the walkouts and how things are being handled, I never disrespected you. Thank you very much for disrespecting me and allowing the kids to do it also.

Frassetto never responded.

NorCo Slots Revenue On Track for $1.8 Million

Northampton County's Gaming Board, which doles out slots revenue from the Sands Casino, received a quarterly payment of $460,805.78 in August. This puts the Board on track to receive $1.8 million this year. That's a good thing because the Board has already awarded $1.66 million this year in what are referred to as impact grants to Northampton County, Bethlehem and the five communities surrounding Bethlehem. This leaves the cupboard bare for remaining Northampton County municipalities.

At their September 28 meeting, the Board unanimously voted, on the recommendation of Joe Kelly, to allow municipalities who have $500 or less money left over from a grant to just keep the sum, instead of remitting a check for a few cents, as has already happened in one instance.

Executive Director Karen Collis also reported that she visited five municipalities who have received grants and that "all went well." Even a ride she reportedly took on Bethlehem's new HazMat truck, which she survived.

The Board also entered into a new agreement for legal services with Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus, the firm that currently represents the Gaming Board and charges $14,000 a year. Scott Allinson had proposed a $10,000 retainer, but agreed immediately when Board member Dave Heintzelman suggested it be reduced to $8,000. The Board will also pay $195/hr for any litigation that arises.

Allinson considers that possibility remote. "If there was going to be litigation involving this authority, it would have happened in the first three years," he said.

In the Fall of 2017, the Board will issue a Request for Proposals for legal services.

The Gaming Board is made up of nine members: Joe Kelly (Bethlehem), Tom Nolan (Bethlehem Tp), Gerald Yob (Freemansburg), Jay Finnigan (Hanover, Chair), Dave Heintzelman (Hellertown), Dave Willard (Lower Saucon), Tony Pristash (Northampton), John Dally (Pen Argyl) and James Pennington (Lower Nazareth).

The Gaming Board only has authority over slots revenue. Northampton County Council decided in July to give itself the final authority over any disbursements from the $1.2 million in table games revenue expected this year, along with nearly $3 million already sitting in county coffers. Executive John Brown has proposed a grants and loan program from that fund to stimulate economic and community development, especially in older boroughs. Those grants will require Council approval.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Embattled Fed Ed Still Wants to Take Over ASD

Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski was at the Allentown City Democratic Committee meeting on Monday night. He was trying to figure out how City Dems could support a school candidate like Mark Smith. He's a Democrat, but only captured the Republican party nomination in the primary. State rules bar a Democratic committee from endorsing a candidate who is not a Democratic nominee. They decided to include an attachment to their endorsement materials noting that Mark Smith is a Democrat.

Fed Ed also spoke strongly against Bob Smith, the current president of the Allentown school board. Bob Smith is a Republican who captured both his party and the Democratic nomination. He talked the party out of endorsing Bob Smith. He claimed that Bob Smith is "not in the right mind."

In 2010, Bob Smith was seriously injured when he tried to thwart a suicide attempt by a patient from the roof of Mount Trexler Manor. He wrapped both arms around this mentally ill woman, but she hurled herself off the roof anyway, taking Bob with her. He suffered two broken arms and various contusions, but no brain injury.

The real reason Pawlowski wants Bob Smith off the Board is because Bob went public when Pawlowski recently attempted to bully the school district into picking up the entire tab for school crossing guards.

Pawlowski, who is up to his eyeballs in a federal investigation into his pay-to-play practices, is now publicly maligning a selfless man who suffered serious injuries in saving someone's life.

And he claims to be a Christian.

Updated: School Board Candidates on Allentown School Student WalkOut

Photo of walkout on Monday, courtesy of Lou Shupe
The Pied Piper of Allentown's schools, Michael Frassetto, has vowed to lure children out of their classrooms every day this week. Instead of attracting them with a magic flute, he's been using Nathan (Nate Whips) Markham's stretch limo. But it's unclear whether this walkout will extend into a third day. Frassetto's Facebook page, which was exploding with all kinds of videos and exhortations on Monday, was mysteriously quiet on Tuesday. So was Whips. He's busy with a new girlfriend who apparently is willing to overlook his rather extensive criminal history. That's nice. We know how Whips and Frassetto feel. But what about the people who are actually running for the position of school director.

Scott Armstrong and Bob Smith are both vocal opponents of the walkout. Scott, who has never shied away from controversy, spoke forcefully against the walkout last week in an essay published by Michael Molovisnky.

Last week, Smith took also exception to a walkout in which students would leave their classrooms to rendezvous at a statue of MLK.
Dr. King would never support students walking out of school, he protested and marched so all students would be able to go to any school they wanted. Dr. King wanted students to go to school not walk out. Shame on adults for organizing this walkout. I ask every Allentown student not to walk out but to help make changes by staying in school, working with teachers and the board together.
On Tuesday, Smith also disputed Frassetto's numbers. He said 400 participated on Monday, but that dropped to just 123 on Tuesday. On Monday when students tried to leave the protest, they were told they would be arrested, according to a source at the scene.* That might explain why the numbers dropped so dramatically.

Bob Smith condemned the "hypocrisy of this history teacher [Frassetto], whose 15 minutes of fame is almost up. ... I still would meet with any student, any time, on any issue they have or want to discuss with their parents or not, but not with anybody with this United Youth group.

Frassetto heads up the United Youth Party.

Charlie Thiel echoes Bob Smith and Armstrong. "I oppose the walkout," he made clear. "The outcomes of this walkout do not improve the education of our students."

It was a little harder to pin down Mark Smith, who posted a long and rambling commentary that essentially said nothing. After a rather testy exchange (reproduced it in its entirety here), Mark Smith finally stated, "I am not for the walk out. I feel it is counterproductive on several levels. There are better ways to address this problem. I do however, believe that there are people in our community that think this is the only way they will be heard. And, EVERYONE deserves to be heard."

Audrey Mathison refused to condemn the walkout, and appears to support it.
I believe that the walkout is a symptom of the distrust of the school district felt by some in the community. And I believe that the best way to deal with distrust is to talk openly about it. I would like to see the district sponsor some small group community discussions where individuals will feel welcome to speak freely. Maybe an evening discussion could be sponsored in elementary buildings for the neighborhood’s convenience.

And I would like to see the organizers of the walkout promote such discussions.
So Mathison actually would invite Nate Whips and Frassetto to share their expertise.

Elizabeth Martinez failed to respond. Ce-Ce Gerlach, the so-called people's candidate, ignored repeated requests for a statement expressing her actual position.

So there you have it. Four candidates are opposed to the walkout. One candidate appears to support it. Two candidates never bothered to weigh in on this issue.

Addendum (11:21 am): When kids were threatened with arrest for leaving the protest, that threat came from the organizers, not police. They actively misled students even after being assured no arrest would be made.

Updated 5:15 pm - Mathison opposes walkout. - Audrey Mathison has just emailed me to claim, "Evidently—though I read what I wrote several times—I accidentally gave you the wrong idea. It was never my intention to make you think that I support the walkout or condone truancy. And I certainly do not condone adults who advocate cutting class. I hope this clarifies things."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pied Piper Dismisses Concern That Allentown Walkout Hurts Marginal Students

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is the Grimm fairy tale about a savior who led all the children out of the village with his magical flute and drowned them after he was stiffed for similar services regarding the town's rat population. Charter School teacher Michael Frassetto is Allentown's Pied Piper. He has lured Allentown students away from their classroom with promises that they can't get in trouble; ridiculous demands for a voting student board member (illegal); and impossible $10 an hour summer jobs from a struggling school district that can't afford textbooks. He also wants Superintendent Russ Mayo fired.

Until yesterday, I was blissfully unaware that this student walkout at the Allentown School District would last a week, perhaps even longer. That vow was made United Youth Party's Frassetto, on a Facebook video."It does not work if you do it just one day," he explained. "We're going to do it all week long." That presents a lot of questions that I had hoped to avoid asking. So I asked them to Falsetto, who uses Nate Whip's black limo instead of a flute to lure the children away.

Nathan Markham, alias Nate Whips
First, what is Unity Youth Party's funding source? Since three different charter schools have allowed their students to help this Falsetto in permitting students to engage in truancy, are they also backing him financially? Who's paying for the Chinese food and McDoanld's double cheeseburgers? Is Charter school advocate Abe Atiyeh behind this, just as he was one of the players behind Fed Ed's attempt to pack the school board? How about Allentown?

Second, why is Falsetto using a convicted criminal like Nathan Markham, who calls himself Nate Whips, as one of his organizers? This fellow has page after page of arrests. As recently as February, he was charged with corrupting the morals of a minor after he was caught drinking with a 17 year-old girl. He had her drive for him because his own license is suspended. I wonder how many 17 year-old girls he picked up in his limo on Monday?

Nate Whips, who ironically is a car salesman, was charged with carjacking last November when he jumped into a stranger's car in an effort to elude police.

Third, and most importantly to me, won't a week of unexcused absences hurt and possibly ruin the academic career of students who are struggling in courses like calculus, algebra, chemistry and physics? Getting a class on how to conduct a demonstration peacefully is no help to a student trying to determine how many moles are in 50 gallons of water.

Last night, I had an exchange with Falsetto. He denies marginal students will suffer, and instead claims they will be empowered. He defended  Markham, saying he has turned his life around. He denies getting any help from Charter schools or Abe Atiyeh, but did admit to getting funding in the past from Allentown.

The exchange is below.

I believe the notion of a walk out for an entire week can be very destructive to the academic career of many marginal students. If you care about these kids, you really should end this exercise. If unwilling to do that, you should only ask for volunteers from A and B students.

Frassetto: We will never segregate students from ANB students to CD and F students. The ones we want to reach the most are the ones that need the most help. We will continue to do this work because it is the just work. It is the first time in our city's history where over 1000 students gathered together today so they can be heard and so that they can make a statement and tell the leadership of the Allentown school District that they must listen to the students from now on.

That's not segregation. Any educator knows that some children have greater needs than others. Over the course of a week, you are probably going to cause several kids to flunk out. This is sad to hear. Also, If you care about the children, why are you exposing them to criminals like Nate Whip (Nathan Markham)? Do you honestly think that helps them, or that he helps your cause by telling easily recognized lies? Finally, what is your finding source? It appears that students from four different charter schools were on hand to help today. Who is giving you the dough for the grenades you've been throwing? Abe Atiyeh? Isn't your group the beneficiary of City grants? Is the City of Allentown funding this indirectly?

Frassetto: No one will flunk out? 5 days? 5 days of exercising their first amendment right to peaceably assemble - if schools suspend them or flunk them - that's Joe we all know they don't care for any of the students and our population.

Nate turned his life around and is supporting kids and the community -

We are the United Youth - we got our own funding from our previous events

Can you donate to this common cause of students working together to improve their own education and life?

1) I believe the ACLU has already made clear that the First Amendment does not give the children any right to skip class. So that argument is bullshit.
2) No one will flunk out? That's quite a different prediction than saying no one will get arrested. You are hurting the kids who need to be in school and who need the help a classroom provides, not some march down the street to listen to someone rant on. There are students who will flunk out if they take a week off. I guess your answer is You Don't Care. Is this because the ASD refused to hire you? You are hurting marginal students. As a teacher, you know this. They need someone who cares for them and who will go to any extent to protect them and look out for them
3) Nate turned his life around? Are you kidding me? Did you see his rap sheet? As recently as November? You are exposing children to that kid of adult? What does that say about your own judgment?
4) I know you get funding from events like Stellar, but did Abe Atiyeh give you money? Did Allentown give you money? Are you even registered as a nonprofit or charitable organization?

Frassetto: Bottom line is that he cares and supports the odd so they don't have to go through what he went through

He is supporting the kids more than you right now.

No funding from atiyeh ... But good idea

Actually, wanting marginal children to receive a decent education is supporting the children. A man who tells outright lies is not supporting the children. Nor are you. Unfortunately, you are a demagogue who is using these poor kids as pawns. and don't care that some will flunk out.

It is nice to know Abe Atiyeh has not sponsored this sad exercise. But you do get funding from Allentown, don't you?

Frassetto: ? Damn man you just don't know me - for you to judge me like that and you never met me or know anything about me tells me a lot about the type of judge mental guy you are.

I am very serious, sir. You are consorting with known criminals and using four charter schools to convince marginal students to walk out of their classes for a week. It makes no difference to you that some of these children will flunk out and may just drop out, like 40% of the student body. You are, I believe, city supported. Your web page appears to be promoted by the City. I have seen your indoctrination classes. You do appear to be a demagogue with a personal agenda. It certainly is not the children, as evidenced by your refusal to recognize that every child is different.

Frassetto: They won't... They will feel empowered

Personal agenda???? Now I know you don't know me... Go ask the 1000 students I taught in the last 6 years - ask them to get to know me

Every child is different... Sir ? We only have time for positive energy when doing positive work like this - but thank you for your concerns

I have heard you are a good teacher and therefore have not challenged you on that basis. I also understand the need to make a statement. But I question how good a teacher you really are if you allow marginal students to participate in this walkout. You have to know this will hurt them. I also believe you have an anti-Mayo agenda that is clearly personal. Did he refuse to hire you? You did not answer my question about funding from the City of Allentown. Do you get funded by Allentown?

Frassetto: No he refused to have a meeting with students... The first time I encountered him was three weeks ago at werts cafe

The city gave us funding in the past but I don't think anymore.