Sunday, February 01, 2015

Mezzacappa: NorCo "Not Deserving of My Qualifications and Extensive Experience"

West Easton wingnut Tricia Mezzacappa has been going bonkers at the Lehigh Valley Live comments to Tom Shortell's recent interview with NorCo Executive John Brown. She's now using pseudonyms touch2000, brudgejaxtonsr and brewberries to create the false impression that several people feel the same way she does. Though she blatantly violates their terms of service, the paper does nothing to stop her from essentially deceiving its own readers. What's more, the newspaper often allows her vicious personal attacks to remain. A lot of those personal attacks are aimed at the County worker. This gun-totin' and borough council candidate has made clear she'd like to see them all fired. But guess what? She is trying to get hired at Gracedale, and as a Supervisory Nurse.

God help the residents.

And God help the Human Relations Analyst who last week told Mezzacappa she lacked the qualifications, i.e two years as a supervisor, to be a Supervisory nurse at Gracedale. (I can think of a few other qualifications Mezzascappa lacks, and find it disturbing that someone as mentally troubled as she is even being considered for a position involving the care of others). Mezzacappa exploded when she learned they won't be bringing her in as Nurse Rached. On Friday, she fired off this screed, addressed to the analyst, with copies to all members of Council and the Executive.
I provided a chronological list of the last 25 years of my life, extracting the most relevant experiences, from 1992 to present. If I failed to list "Charge Nurse" exact words under any one of my many RN jobs in the last 13 years, then thats a shame. As a Human Resources professional, I thought you would realize that Registered Nurses are inherently, and by the endorsement of the State Board of Nursing, charged with the responsibility of oversight for all professionals that fall under nursing.

Clearly, my experiences as an RN in nursing homes and hospitals over the last 13 years easily satisfy this requirement. Additionally, as an RN for "right at home" I was tasked with supervisory visits to all of the mediciad cases that were staffed with home health aides, to determine if safe and acceptable practices were evident in the care they were receiving.

In more unfortunate circumstances (such as all hospitals and some nursing homes) I had to quasi-supervise doctors who had to be reminded to re-order meds, to actually visit a patient before discharge, to communicate test and lab results that they previously ordered and neglected to address, as well as many other issues over the course of my career.

It is sad to see that I have been discarded as "not qualified" in todays job market, when in 2003, nursing homes and hospitals (including Gracedale) would scramble for anyone who possessed a nursing license to work in their facility. In a few instances, I was even hired over the phone, with less than 6 months of experience on my resume. I guess it all comes down to supply and demand. Now that I think about it, the County is not deserving of my qualifications and extensive experience. Therefore, you need not re-justify your callous and erroneous rejection letter, with more excuses.

I'll find an employer who welcomes a wealth of knowledge, hands on experience, and one that values the need for a competent employee.
Registered Nurses, she claims, are the boss of everybody. She even bosses around those forgetful and negligent doctors.,

Saturday, January 31, 2015

GOP State Committee Endorses Giordano For Superior Court

The Republican State Committee has endorsed Northampton County's very own Emil Giordano for a seat on the state Superior Court.  So far as I know, no one will challenge that choice at the polls, and Judge Giordano is virtually assured the Republican nomination. Lehigh County Judge Doug Reichley, a former state representative, considered making a run of it, but withdrew.

Barron's Got Company in NorCo Controller Race

As expected, Northampton County Controller Steve Barron on Friday announced that he is seeking re-election to the post he has held for two terms. He calls himself a "check over the County Executive." But that's one check that Executive John Brown would like to remove. Sources at this weekend's State Committee in Harrisburg tell me that the GOP has recruited Pam Colton to challenge Barron,

Who the hell is she? She's the Bangor Area School Board president who voted to hire an ousted Superintendent for the same amount of money she was getting when she got canned.

Government by consultant.

Sound familiar?

Colton did do a stint as RenewLV's Executive Director. That's a Lehigh Valley Partnership entity set up by the Lehigh Valley's wealthiest business magnates. Its the Urban Growth Regime, disguised as a grass roots group. She did not last long. Some say she was fired. Others claim the group just ran out of money. But that's where she probably got to know John Brown. He was installed on their Board around the same time she was there.

Before being a pretend liberal, Colton worked as analyst for the Open Source Center.

Though he's no accountant, Barron is a certified fraud examiner. As such, he is qualified to be a lead auditor.

Colton is not. She appears to have less education and experience in accounting than Barron.

But she does believe in government by consultant.

DiGiacinto - "God's Gift to Us For 61 Years"

Bethlehem City Controller David DiGiacinto, the fiscal watchdog who died unexpectedly on January 26, was laid to rest on Saturday. Funeral services were conducted by Father Abraham Ha at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church at a mass attended by over 300 people.

A reading from Ecclesiastes told mourners there is a time for everything, "a time to be born, and a time to die." In his sermon, Father Ha praised DiGiacinto, not as a City official, but as a "husband, a father, a son and a friend. God's child." Recalling DiGiacionto's extensive collection of hats and T-shirts, Father Ha joked that DiGiacinto could "wear one a day and never do laundry." On a more somber note, the priest called him a "wonderful gift that God shared with us for 61 years."

Bethlehem's former City Council President, J. Michael Schweder, delivered a brief eulogy. "He refused to go along just to get along," Schweder observed. "He didn't follow the course, but he stayed the course," he concluded.

DiGiacinto, a graduate of both Liberty High School and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, served with distinction as an Air Force pilot for six years. After resigning his commission in 1981, he spent 18 years at Pfizer, where he held various positions in sales and management. At the time of his death he was Chairman and CEO of Axiom Power.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jail Supervisor Denied Counsel at Termination Hearing

From what other corrections officers tell me, Lieutenant Jason Rosati should have his termination hearing soon, if it has not already occurred. He was suspended without pay for enforcing the military discipline that is imperative at a jail. Unfortunately for him, he went by the book with a favorite of Deputy Director of Administration Cathy Allen. she was written up for coming to work with a dress shirt that was not buttoned at the top, a choker necklace and wearing makeup that is inappropriate in a jail setting. But her write-up was overturned, and jail officials have told Lt. Rosati they intend to fire him.

Lt. Rosati has retained Counsel, but Corrections Director Daniel Keen has reportedly refused to allow him to be represented. This means that Keen either intends to exonerate Rosati for what we all recognize is bullshit, or that he does not know what he is doing.

How to Snag a Disciplinary Complaint

According to a Morning Call account, Attorney Donald Corriere spent at least $50,000 owed to Randi Ratushny after her mother passed away. What I find interesting is what happened to Randi Ratushny's money.

She, along with her sister, are the two people who complained to the Disciplinary Board and got the ball rolling.

She passed away in 2012, leaving a will that left everything to her sister, Robin Thomas. But Ratushny's boyfriend stepped forward with a new will, claiming that he was the rightful heir. This Will was executed just two months after the first one, and Michael Corriere testified that Ratushny really intended to devise her estate to her boyfriend. Judges bought this argument, on both the County and Superior Court level.

That estate was worth $87,836.40. But $61,752.13 was gobbled up in administrative fees that included
  • a $5,000 payment made by Don Corriere to his malpractice insurance carrier for the deductible in a malpractice claim made by Ratushny.
  • $24,822.50 in ligitation fees to Don Corriere.
  • $5,832 to Michael Corriere as the Estate attorney.
There is no suggestion that any of this money was spent improperly. But a disappointed heir who sees her sister's life's savings spent on legal and administrative costs might have an ax to grind.

Northampton County Races Update

NorCo Liberty Bell
Since I last updated you on this year's County races, there have been a few changes. let me fill you in.

Controller: Republicans have found a candidate from the northern part of the County to go after Controller Steve Barron, but she has not announced. Neither, for that matter, has Barron.

Judge: It's still a three-way including Abe Kassis, Sam Murray and Vic Scomillio. Judges Anthony beltrami and Paula Roscioli should have no trouble in their retention campaigns.

District Attorney: John Morganelli, a conservative Democrat who is tough on crime, is someone who is just as popular at a tea party meeting as at a union hall. He  will likely see no opposition.   

District One: Bethlehem, Freemansburg, Hellertown and Hanover. Incumbent Ken Kraft has already announced his intention to seek re-election on this heavily Democratic district. Though Republicans claim to have someone in the wings, his or her identity is still a state secret.

District Two: Easton, Forks, Glendon, West Easton, Wilson, Palmer, Stockertown and Tatamy. Though this is thought to be a Democratic district, that really only applies to Easton and the small boroughs around it. The other areas are mostly Republican. But Democrat Bob Werner hasalrady announced his intention to seek re-election.  It's unclear whether Mike Dowd is running, but republicans will try to capture this district.

District Three: Nazareth, North Catty, Northampton, Allen Tp, Bethlehem Tp, East Allen Tp, Lower Nazareth Tp, Lower Saucon Tp and Williams Tp. This district has become much more Republican since the last census. Incumbent Lamont McClure, who suffered a recent unexpected family loss, is taking some time off. Democrats who live in this District include Gerald "Jerry" Seyfried and John Stoffa, both of whom are former county Executives.  Jerry has already ruled out running, while the always-unpredictable Stoffa keeps his own counsel. Republican Mickey Thompson has announced, and inside word is the former Council president John Cusick intends to announce soon.

District Four: The Slate Belt and northern tier, this is Republican country. Incumbent Scott Parsons has announced his intention to seek re-election. Two Republicans - Nazareth School Board Prez Lorin Bradley and tea party darling Matt Dietz - have announced.

Bradley, who has quite an extensive resume, is being pushed by Glenn Geissinger. Hayden Phillips is behind the Dietz campaign.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Treasurer Rob McCord Says So Long

You can read his resignation here.

Ethical Charges Against Former DA Don Corriere

The Morning Call has reported that former District Attorney Donald Corriere is under an ethical cloud, having been accused by the Disciplinary Board of misusing client resources. It's a a 51-page Complaint, to which Corriere has filed an Answer denying all wrongdoing.

I've been aware of this matter for several days,but dd not want to write about it without the Complaint and Answer. I called Don yesterday. He is under the impression that he's unable to discuss the matter, So was I. Not so, says the Disciplinary Board. Once he files his Answer, the matter is public.

I learned this two days ago, when I first found out about the complaint. I called there and spoke to an Elaine Bixler.

"Your name sounds familiar," Bixler told me.

Uh oh.

I was suspended in '85, and Bixler told me she's been with the Disciplinary Board since the '70s.

Once I get copies of the Complaint and Answer, I will post them here.

Corriere is a former Northampton County Commissioner and has long been involved in local Democratic politics.  He's a former District Attorney who was unseated in by a little-known Bethlehem Attorney named John Morganelli.

In all his years as DA, Morganelli tells me he has never had a complaint about Corriere.

When I practiced law, I acted unethically and disgraced my profession and family. In my case, my misconduct occurred because I thought i could do anything when I was drinking, even if it was just a small amount. It's not how much, but what it does to you.

I know numerous other lawyers over th years who have had problems with alcohol, drugs or both. It does not excuse the misbehavior, but explains it.

The fact that Corriere has been charged with misconduct does not mean he is guilty of anything.

Bethlehem ZHB Toss Enforcement Notice Against Elias Market

Alex Karam is not just Joseph Kray's lawyer, but a customer, too.
Like the recent snowstorm that never was, the January 28 meeting of Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board bore all the signs of a very long night. Elias Market, located at 3131 Linden Street, was on the agenda. Though a Zoning Hearing Board decision allowing an expansion had been affirmed by three different courts, opponents sought and obtained an enforcement notice that would essentially require the busy store to remove its asphalt parking lot. At one side of the room sat lead opponent Al Bernotas and his friends. Earlier that day, he had had supplied a 48-page presentation to the Board that appeared to be an attempt to relitigate matters already decided against him. On the other side sat the proud Elias family with engineer drawings, ready to relitigate matters already decided in their favor. But it was not to be. Instead of lasting hours, the hearing was over in minutes. It seemed to end in favor of Elias again, although this is the case that just won't go away. 

The reason for this short hearing? Two words. Joe Piperato. A lawyer, he represents the Elias family. He pointed out that the enforcement notice issued to Elias wasn't worth the paper it was written on, except he didn't use those words. He said it was void ab initio because it never informed Elias of its appeal rights, something required by both state law and the Zoning Ordinance. Solicitor Terry Faul told the Board that Piperato was correct, and just like that, the enforcement notice was dismissed, 5 to zip.

As Elias foes and supporters filed out of town hall, Bernotas sat there, in stunned silence. He was still there as three other cases were heard. He may still be there.

Whether this is finally the end remains to be seen. But Elias Partner George Azar was relieved. "The less I'm here, the better," he whispered on his way out.

With the main event out of the way, zoners tackled the undercard.

As her two daughters looked on with angelic smiles in the audience, Virginia Fowler received the Board's unanimous blessings for a dimensional variance that would allow a greenhouse at her property at 53 E. Market Street,. Attorney Mike Deschler argued that the 2% variance was so slight as to be immaterial. But he didn't use those words. He instead called it a classic de minimis variance.

Attorney Alex Karam, representing computer guru Joseph Kray, persuaded zoners to grant a special exception that would permit him to operate a computer sales and service shop in what had been a law office at 1022 Main Street. "I know he'll be an asset to the city of Bethlehem, Karam assured the board,adding that he is not just his lawyer, but a customer, too.

"Are you employed by him?" joked Zoning Hearing Board Chair Gus Loupos.

Lucy Lennon, acting as the realtor for Darey Hamm, also sought a special exception that would substiute a dog -grooming business for what had been a doctor's office at 1809 Columbine Avenue, right across the street from Notre Dame Church and Elementary School. She called it a "low impact" business that would be operated by a mother-daughter team, a "good fit for that neighborhood. Michael Santanasto and Linda Shay Gardner, both of whom are attorneys, agreed that lennon makes a good case, but suggested she seek a use variance instead of a special exception. So her appeal was continued so she can re-post the property.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why Driver Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants Is a Bad Idea

Last year, tax-happy Sal Panto got his rubber stamps on Easton City Council to go along with a resolution calling for drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants. he never bothered to consult with law enforcement,  Had he bothered to call, Northampton County DA John Morganelli would have warned Panto that his proposal is "misguided and dangerous," and would make Easton a magnet for foreign criminals.

So what happens in states that allow undocumented immigrants to seek driver licenses?

Fraud, according to a study by the Federation of Immigration Reform.

Vermont - illegal aliens in new York were paying $2,000 to have someone take the test.

New Mexico - as much as 75% of the applications are bogus. Criminal charges were brought against a group from New York in 2011. They ran  ads in New York, limited to Chinatown newspapers, offering New Mexico driver license. Chinese immigrants from New York paid $1,500 for New Mexico licenses.

Tennessee - had to repeal a law that granted license to undocumented aliens because of excess fraudulent residence documents.

California - 64% of 46,200 undocumented immigrants failed when they took the test.

A Blog For the NorCo Jail?

Ken Kraft chairs Northampton County Council's busy Personnel Committee. He also acts as their liaison at the jail. He's pretty unhappy about the games being played there, both with the understaffing as well as the favoritism being shown to a corrections officer who happens to be Cathy Allen's snitch,.As I told you last week, Allen made sure that a lieutenant got suspended without pay for writing up a corrections officer who showed up for work out-of-uniform and who ignored him.

"They fire the guy who wrote her up. and put her back and reinstate her again, " he complained, while Peg Ferraro tried to change the subject. Having none of it, Kraft stated "[t]here's things going on in this County that need to be known, and need to be brought to the surface, and they need to be addressed.

That might happen. Someone is working on a blog to "discuss issues related to the Northampton County Jail. We welcome your input, and would like to address current and past problems inside the walls of the prison. We will address union issues, employee concerns and inmate complaints."

It might be a flash in the pan.

Or it might be the real deal.

Time will tell.

We're No. 1 - Do You Tip Jersey Gas Attendant?

Pennsylvania now has the distinction of having the most expensive gas in the country, according to The Patriot News.

Most everyone I know from Bethlehem township east will cross the river into Jersey to fill their tanks. Prices there are $1.92, which is a lot lower than the $2.26 charged at Pa. pumps.

I still buy my gas in Pa because I always thought you should tip the gas attendant a dollar in Jersey to fill your tank. If i have to do that, i might as well buy here. But my friends are telling me I'm wrong.

If you buy gas in Jersey, do you tip the guy or gal who fills your tank?

Allen Nearly Scores 100 Points Against Becahi Boys' Basketball

In the waning moments of a basketball game, the team that is head usually tries to pass the basketball back and forth to keep the other side from getting the ball and scoring. But last night, the roles were reversed. Bethlehem Catholic's Golden Hawks, down by a ton, frantically passed the ball back and forth to keep the William Allen Canaries from scoring their 100th point. They succeeded in holding Allen to 98 in a lopsided loss to one of the Lehigh Valley's better teams.

I may be mistaken, but think no Lehigh Valley team has scored 100 points in a game this season.

Beca is having a tough season. But they should be around .500 next year. In two years, they will be scary.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Eastern Pa. Weather Authority: "We Blew the Call"

At this time yesterday, Eastern Pa. Weather Authority was predicting a blanket of 9-14" of snow by this time today. I am delighted to report they got it wrong. Here's their explanation.
We blew the call, and everyone blew it - and amending or lowering your original call is not nailing it either. No one got this right, plain and simple. It reminds us of the March 5-7th, 2001 epic fail "blizzard" that never was - very eerily similar. Everything looked great through early this evening, and then everything took an abrupt turn for the worse. So although we put countless hours of time and effort into this one, we failed. Yes we got and will get snow, but nowhere close to the epic amounts that up until today looked to be spot on. So this is our "man-up" post. It wasn't hyped, it wasn't sensationalized. It was the right call from a physics and forecasting standpoint, but in the end, mother nature humbled us. It is our first large scale blown call by our staff of meteorologists for our coverage area this year, and this one stings a lot. And will continue to sting until the next one we're sure.
I don't know about you, but i'll take this kind of failure. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. As Matt Dees asks, "Why complain about a blizzard that didn't happen?"

Updated 1:46 pm. Lehigh Valley With Love published a story entitled "Can We Finally Stop Saying How Great The Eastern PA Weather Authority Is Now?" But blogger George Wacker decided to redact portions "solely on professional courtesy."

This is the first time I ever heard a blogger refer to himself as a professional.

He snidely adds, "[W]e have the original saved if they decide to take the shitty route." But he's already beaten them to it.

Seth Vaughn: "Retirements Happen"

So does shit.

Last year, there was a record number of 139 retirements in Northampton County. To put this in perspective, that's 2 1/2 times the normal retirement rate. Obviously, something is rotten in the State of Northampton County.

But just as Horatio told Marcellus, Seth Vaughn is saying, "God will direct it."

As employees jump off the S.S. Northampton County, Vaughn is in la la land, re-arranging the deck chairs. Here's some of what he had to say at last Thursday's Council meeting.
"Retirements happen. Whether it happens a lot now or next year, there's really no way of predicting that. To sit there and try to pin it on the Executive by saying, 'Well, the Executive's policies are causing all these retirements,' I think is biased and I don't think it's objective.  ... There's really no way of telling whether these retirements happened at one time or not. ... These people are looking for good replacements. There's a process here."
Translated, Horatio Vaughn is still carrying water for John Brown, as other GOP Council members distance themselves from him. Then he lashed out at Controller Steve Barron, stating again that there's a resolution calling on him to resign.

Lamont McClure refuted Vaughn's claims of politics as usual.
"That's always what you fall back on. ... It's not Lamont McClure. I'm bringing this to your attention because you are the governing body of Northampton County. ... It's the President Judge of Northampton County. It's the Administrator of the Courts of Northampton County. It's the District Attorney of Northampton County. It's the independently elected - I know you have problems with him - Controller of Northampton County, who came here to tell you there are huge issues ... . And yes, I do think there was a substantive act that the County Executive took to force all these retirements, and that was the change in health insurance."

Brown's HR Chief Approved By NorCo Council

Tracie Barnes
After running through a gauntlet of questions in two separate hearings, Tracie Barnes has been confirmed as Northampton County's new Human Resources Director. By a vote of 8-1-1, with Bob Werner voting No and Glenn Geissinger voting "Present," County Council approved this last-minute nomination at a starting salary of $88,100 at their . Executive John Brown, who was absent from the January 22 meeting, had only provided three days notice of his choice,

Barnes has 21 years of human relations experience in municipal government, both at the County and City levels. Her weakness, and one she readily admitted, is that she has no experience negotiating with unions.

"I expect you might get some," observed Lamont McClure, advising her to "buy a heavy coat."

Though she had already answered McClure, Mat Benol asked her the same question about unions, to which she provided the same answer.

Glenn Geissinger stated he was "greatly concerned" whether Barnes would be up to the challenge of a 2,200-person workforce, most of whom are represented by 11 different unions. She responded that she would provide a "fresh set of eyes" and "neutrality."

"I want to take the time I spent in school and give it back to the community where I work," she argued.

Though he's normally the contrarian, McClure told Geissinger that Barnes is the most qualified person to date that Brown has nominated to his cabinet, with the possible exception of Sheriff David Dalrymple, a former Major in the New Jersey State Police.  He described Barnes as someone who is moving up in her career. He added that, unlike some of Brown's other cabinet choices, "this one has actual experience in governing."

The reason Werner voted No, he later explained, is the short notice of the nomination provided to Council. "Council needs to be appraised of things sooner," he observed, noting that nominations come in at the last minute.

In a signal that Republicans on Council are beginning to distance themselves from the Executive, Republicans Hayden Phillips and Glenn Geissinger agreed with Werner.  "I'm going to vote No to any nomination that comes to County Council that does not go to the Personnel Committee.," he vowed.

After some discussion, Werner stated he would draft an ordinance.

Monday, January 26, 2015

PSP Raid Shows Connection Between Nazareth Officials and Illegal Gambling

If nothing else, last week's Pennsylvania State Police raid on four Nazareth Area social clubs makes one thing very clear - the connection between illegal gambling and local government officials is extremely disturbing. At the time of the Stickergate arrests, Police Chief Thomas Trachta boasted, "We enforce all the laws and if you break the law, there is a pretty good chance you will be arrested," But Chief Trachta has turned his head the other way at clubs that routinely violate gambling laws. Trachta's boss, Mayor Carl Strye, has been the responsible officer for a social club that has had more than its fair share of legal entanglements.

An online database maintained by the state LCB reveals the following about these Nazareth-area social clubs. .

Holy Family - fined $600 in 1995 and $700 in 2013 for sales to nonmembers and gambling machines. The machines are reportedly out of Holy Family for good,

Vigilance Fire - fined seven times over the years for gambling machines and sales to nonmembers. It has received fines of $1,000, $1,000, $100, $400, $400 and $600. Its license was also suspended once. During most of this time period, Carl Strye was the responsible officer. He is now Nazareth's Mayor.

A Borough Mayor's only real role is to supervise the police department. But when that Mayor just happens to be the responsible officer at a Nazareth club cited seven times for illegal gambling, he makes the police department look like participants who are turning their heads the other way.

Do officers find themselves suspended because they ask questions about possible Crimes Code violations going on inside these clubs? Has Chief Trachta - and I am no fan - been shackled with a "Deputy" Chief  for asking too many questions? Never mind that the Deputy Chief's police certification has expired and he's running around with a badass glock and no authority to arrest anyone.

Except maybe me.

At the Vig, the PSP noticed that there's a discrepancy between the actual amount money on hand and the money that's supposed to be there. They followed a Vig worker named Larry home and confronted him, telling him to fork over all of the money or they would get a search warrant for his home. This Larry went into his home, came out and gave agents an unknown sum of money. But he bragged to too many people about keeping an envelope of money on his person. One of those people told me.

Now if club members are taking money home, or carrying it around on their person, this suggests a pattern of skimming to me. Are gambling proceeds really benefiting the club? Or are they paying for snowmobiles.

The lack of internal controls is appalling.

Much more bothersome than the actual gambling.

Harold V. Knecht American Legion Post - fined seven times since 2000 for falsifying records, training records, sales to nonmembers, gambling and serving visibly intoxicated patrons. Fines go from $250 to $2,600. Long time Borough Council member Larry Stoudt is a bartender at this club, although he has no position of authority. He was charged himself when he asked police to check out a club applicant whom he suspected was being an undercover state trooper. She was. She was working under cover. Charged with obstruction, Larry was placed on ARD.

In Stoudt's defense, let me say I consider him very honest. He would never try to benefit personally from an illegal activity. I've seen him devote countless hours of service to Nazareth. But he did use his official position on Council to ask for something improper.

Nazareth Jacksonian Club - fined eight times for gambling devices and misleading records. Fines extend from $300 to $1,500, This club is where NorCo Dems have often made endorsements in County races. Its license was suspended once.

Nazareth VFW - fined six times for deceptive records and gambling devices. There has been one suspension. I'm getting reports that this outfit was hit in the raid as well, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Hecktown Volunteer fire Co. - fined five times for gambling devices. The biggest fine imposed is $600.

East Lawn Volunteer Fire Co. - no record of fines before last week, which has led to lots of grumbling by other Nazareth social clubs. The President of this club is a former Upper Nazareth Supervisor.

Updated 8:15 am: The Express Times has details from some of the clubs.

No Treats For A-Treat

Allentown's Renaissance is seeing the loss of another local business, A-Treat, with 97 jobs. Corporate welfare, in the form of  LERTAs, TIFs, KOZs, CRIZs and NIZs, are handed out like candy to developers like J.B. Reilly. After all, they are known for their hefty campaign contributions. But a business that simply tries to deliver an inexpensive product is ignored.

This business is located in State Rep. Michael Schlossberg's district. Maybe he can let company representatives attend his blogging boot camp for free.

Updated 8:10 am: :Michael Molovinsky's Allentown's Make Believe Economy is a sobering dose of reality that casts a spotlight on the faux Renaissance.

Chances Good There's a Snow Emergency Where You Live

You can check for it at WFMZ-TV 69's Stomcenter before your car is towed. i received notice from Hanover Township that their snow emergency starts at 6 am Monday. Lower Nazareth starts at midnight. Nazareth's emergency starts at 2 pm. You can park in the Borough Park or the South Green Street parking lot until the emergency is lifted. Eastern Pa. Weather Authority is calling for 9-14", with areas to the east of Allentown getting more. 

If you shovel snow, exercise caution. Take plenty of breaks. Hire a servant and don't pay him. This is when people experience heart attacks. I have no heart so I have no cause for concern. 

Bethlehem Area School Directors to Vote On "Fair Share" Agreement Tonight

When Bethlehem's School Directors meet this evening, one of the agenda items listed is a 3-year collective bargaining agreement with the teachers' union. Though the agreement itself is absent, one of the items included is what is known as a "fair share" clause. This requires theschool district to withhold union dues from the salaries of all teachers and other professionals within a bargaining unit, regardless whether they are members. School Board President Michael Faccinetto explains that all the other collective bargaining agreements contain such a clause. Seventy per cent of all teacher contracts contain this kind of clause.

This is a controversial issue nationwide. One the one hand, why should a union be required to provide representation to someone who won't pay dues? But why should teachers be forced to contribute to unions who take their money to support candidates that individual teachers oppose? I have no answer. If anything, I would tend to side with the union on this issue.

What I do know is that good government requires transparency. It appears to me that no notice has been given to the public concerning this clause. This issue deserves more scrutiny.

Clarification: By law, union dues paid by nonmembers may not be used for campaign contributions.

Atiyeh-Connected Attorney Seeks NorCo Council Seat

Attorney Mickey Thompson, age 41, has announced he's running for the District Council seat being vacated by Democrat Lamont McClure at the end of this year. Thompson, a Republican, may have company. Former Council President John Cusick, another Republican, is reportedly mulling a run as well.

Thompson, who lives in Bethlehem Township with his two sons, is the Chief Operating Officer at Saucon Valley Manor, Whitehall Manor and Pennsylvania Venture Capital, Inc. These are all Abe Atiyeh ventures.

Thompson also led the drive in West Easton for Atiyeh's treatment and work release center. Council approved a lease for that facility by a 8-0 vote in 2012.

Because of his connection to Atyeh, Thompson would be disqualified from participating in the discussion or voting on any Atiyeh matter. But his sympathies lie with what he calls entrepreneurs. "I understand that economic development starts from the budding entrepreneur at the local level, not at the County or the State," he states. "In order to turn the economy around and bring jobs to Northampton County we need to provide more support to these entrepreneurs at the County level."

One thing beyond dispute is that Thompson would bring a wealth of knowledge about nursing home facilities. He states,
“In 2011, the voters of Northampton County affirmed the obligation to provide care for our elderly citizens. I believe that my experience with the operation of these facilities will be invaluable in managing and supporting the care of the residents, while at the same time maintaining the costs for the sustainability of Gracedale."
A Moravian College and Syracuse University College of Law grad, Thompson has practiced law in the Lehigh Valley since 1999. For nearly all of that time, he was Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor.

This is Thompson's second stab at elected office. He ran against Michael Hudak in 2013 for Bethlehem Township Commissioner. He lost that race, 385-315.

Mickey is also a coach and council member at Bethlehem's Northwest Youth Athletic Association, where John Callahan played as a young man. He's also an Assistant Scoutmaster at Troop 318 in Bethlehem, PA.

His greatest achievements are his two well-mannered and very pleasant sons, whom I have met at several public meetings.