Today, I heard from Mr. Grubb , at least one of the victims of this email block. I now know why he was muzzled. He's a whistleblower. He's quite critical of Tony Hanna. What disturbs me most are the allegations (and these are just allegations) that Hanna, a Callahan ally, was provided two cell phones, a pager, used a city vehicle for personal purposes, and used economic development funds to pay a Philly parking ticket on his personal car and during a day off. Some of Grubb's complaints are detailed in his letter, which he allowed me to post below:
Dear Bernie O'Hare:
My name is Dana Grubb and I was the subject of the e-mail blocking at City Hall. Dennis Reichard, the City's Business Administrator is my brother-in-law, and now it appears, according to [Economic Development Director Tony] Hanna he was aware of this block, as were other key city administrators. This is extremely disappointing and disturbing, especially at a time when government's motivation and action always seem to be under question.
First and foremost, although I will not take legal action against the City of Bethlehem government, and am satisfied that the city has resolved a wrong, I have not ruled out taking legal action against individuals responsible for this, due to their abuses of power.
I owe the resolution of that matter to City Council, and in particular Attorney Chris Spadoni who is the Council Solicitor. And, by the way, I do have a great deal of respect for Bethlehem City Council, because I firmly believe Council tries to do what they feel is in the best interests of the city, not themselves as individual elected officials.
Second, the e-mail blocking that took place, happened in December 2004, and at the same time, someone in Bethlehem city government also decided to refuse to accept my photography for use on the city's website. This was after having provided my photography free of charge, and while a city employee, much of which the city web site uses to this day. That is part of why I called this action "childish and immature." It was apparent that this was in response to my dressing down of Mr. Hanna at a City Council budget session earlier that month, and after Harvey Joseph and I had been forced to retire due to a confrontation in the City's Health Bureau offices.
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At that budget hearing, which covered Hanna's department's FY2005 operating budget review, Hanna intentionally misled City Council on a number of budget issues (all of which I was keenly aware of in that I done most of that budget preparation prior to my forced retirement). Hanna's typical modus operandi when he doesn't have an answer is to make one up and hope you believe him, rather than to just say 'I don't know.' I also took Hanna to task for his blatant abuses involving his use of the city vehicle which was assigned to him (which included among other things his use of the vehicle to attend social events that were not city government events such as a wedding and retirement party, and transporting his wife regularly in the vehicle as if it was his personal vehicle); his obvious waste of $1,800.00 of taxpayers' money to advertise a job opening that was filled from within (the city's Human Resources Director had been critical of that waste in an earlier conversation with me while I was still employed by the city); that Hanna had 2 cellphone accounts and one pager account being paid for as a city official, in addition to the telephone on the desk in his office. The city's business administrator called my revelation of these facts "despicable", and Hanna stated that he didn't realize he was doing something wrong. The business administrator was already aware of some of these issues, and a number of others concerning Hanna, because I had brought a number of them to his attention over Hanna's time with the city. Employees regularly visited my office and stopped me in City Hall to complain about Hanna's absences, abuses, and treatment of others in City Hall. They often did the same for Hanna's cousin, Harvey Joseph, who was reputed to have raised contributions for Callahan's campaign for Mayor. It's ironic in some ways that one of those same employees probably gave Hanna a copy of my critical e-mail which he constantly refers to, and which didn't happen for months until after the e-mail block on the City's server. And by the way, I hold no enmity toward the Information services staff who enacted the block. They did what they were apparently told to do.
As far as these alleged annoying e-mails, had any employee inside of city hall asked me to no longer include them on my personal mailing list, I would have ceased, which I did for one employee in our Housing Rehab office who requested that I do so. Again, that was an e-mail sent several months after the block was enacted, and it was sent only to non-city hall e-mail accounts.
It was obvious that Hanna was embarrassed and had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. All this in addition to the well-known fact within his department that his whereabouts when he was working was almost never known, except for his extended coffee sessions at Jasmine's in University Square and other locales throughout and outside the City of Bethlehem; and the well-known fact that he would leave work early to travel over to Lehigh University to instruct some sort of class at the University. I would think the taxpayers of Bethlehem have every right to expect Hanna to be working for the City of Bethlehem government from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM., which are normal hours of operation
As I stated above, the e-mail that Hanna constantly references was NOT sent to city hall.. I personally thought it was a very good characterization of Hanna given his record with the city. The fact that someone chose to give a copy to Hanna is out of my control, and quite frankly it was a rather condemnatory e-mail because Hanna had finally found a way to get a new bright and shiny city vehicle for himself, without City Council's budgetary approval and after several years of bemoaning his status as a high ranking city official with a less than spiffy car to commute back and forth to city hall in, from his west Allentown home (I know a lot of city taxpayers and other city employees who would like that perk). While inspectors from his department continued to drive vehicles with mechanical defects, high mileage, and on some days used their personal vehicles because their city vehicles were in repair, Hanna schemed to get a new vehicle.
I could go on about his interrogations of city employees who had lunch with me after my retirement; or his intimidation of employees to get them to leave; or his protection of his cousin a city employee who had been accused of bribe-taking and who violated employee policies regularly-many which Hanna himself violated; or his use of economic development monies to pay for a parking ticket on his personal car in Philadelphia, on a day that he had taken as a personal/vacation day and was probably visiting the U of P veterinary Clinic.
I could tell you about the half-truths and non-factual statements he gave to a member of the press in his attempts to discredit me in the community which I call home for my entire life.
I could tell you about department staff meetings in which he would make promises to follow-up on various matters, sometimes a dozen or more, and never take one note. Of course, at the next meeting two weeks later, few if any of the answers had been obtained, but many of the same promises were made again.
I might tell you about his department secretary, whom he berated and intimidated in full view of department staff, because he wanted her to retire. Only after I went to the Human Resources Director and the business administrator to explain that this employee was prepared to file a union grievance and press charges for harassment did this behavior top. And, this same department secretary was not permitted in his office, nor was she permitted to know his schedule-she was the secretary to Hanna. What was he trying to hide? But, it's reared its ugly head since I left, and a different employee sought my counsel on how to handle Hanna's intimidating and berating behavior.
This is the same man who called his staff's attendance at neighborhood blockwatch meetings, " a waste of time." The same person who when criticized by a co-worker for not being in touch and connected with what's going on in Bethlehem because he doesn't live in the city, responds, "I'm glad I don't live in the city." Now there's some real empathy for the folks who pay your salary and benefits!
I'll stack my 27 years in Bethlehem city government against Hanna's 6 or so years any day. I and most Bethlehem residents will take my reputation for honesty, integrity, openness and hard work over his demonstrated behavior as a city official, all of the time, no matter how much he tries to discredit me.
This guy is the epitome of a government official taking advantage of his position, yet "Dandy" Mayor Callahan defends his actions and nothing is ever done about it.
Thanks for your blog coverage-gotta go to a meeting.
Tony Hanna, Bethelehem's Director of Community and Economic Development, is a nice guy. There's just no getting around it. During the bond hearings, when I sued the county over its $111 million megabond, he was one of the few local government officials who actually spoke to me. Today he assures me "the Director of IT has the authority to block or screen e-mail he believes to be objectionable or threatening. He is more than just a 'techie.' " I believe Tony. But shouldn't decisions about public access to government officials be made at a different level, or in accord with a policy approved by the Solicitor? The First Amendment, after all, is intended to annoy.