Wednesday, May 31, 2006
He's at it again. John Morganelli, Northampton County's DA for the past 7653 years, is frothing at the mouth over undocumented workers. Recently, he rounded up a bunch of them doing construction work at a future Holiday Inn Express in Hanover Tp. He was tipped off by unions, who contribute heavily to his campaigns for DA and state attorney general. Now, as usual, he's railing at federal immigration authorities for letting things get out of hand. This should get him a few votes in his next election.
Well, John has no trouble rounding up thousands of illegal aliens at pallet companies, Walmart and construction sites. But he's never arrested any of the real criminals - the people who hire them. Of course, those people have money and connections, and undocumented workers can't even afford to go to Mayfair.
John's not alone. His counterpart in Lehigh County, Jim Martin, has determined he won't prosecute an Allentown cop who shot another officer with a plastic BB gun. His reasoning? The gun's only a harmless toy. Why, then, was it confiscated in the first place? And why was a kid, who was caught messing with it, placed under arrest and taken to HQs? Well, this cop has plenty of connections and dough while the juvenile is part of Allentown's large low-income population.
In the Lehigh Valley, like the rest of the US, it's always a question of - how much justice can you afford?
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
Well, those kids had more fun than me. Like Team Bush, Mayfair officials seem intent on keeping out the very Latinos I saw in inner city Allentown. Team Bush wants to build a 7 million mile fence around the US, and Mayfair officials surrounded their fair with an ugly chain link fence. They also charged $5 admission. I can't tell you whether they made you speak a few English phrases or produce citizenship papers because I hopped the fence as well as Jim Gregory, not too shabby for an old fart. I'm used to evading metal detectors at Easton's courthouse, so this was a snap!
I walked from one end of the fair to the other, saw about 7 or 8 Latinos, and they were the ones picking up garbage. Way to go, Allentown! In the spirit of diversity, "English only" Allentown was serving tacos served by cute blue-eyed blondes and did have a Caribbean stand with fake palm trees. Now you're going to say, "Wait a tic! There was a Latino radio station on Friday night!" To this, I respond, "Yeah, and some of my best friends are black."
The National Guard was one of Mayfair's heralded "artisans," with a rock-climbing wall for the kiddies. I think they were setting up a machine gun firing range as I left. For some reason, no stands were set aside for the artisans from LEPOCO, our local peace group. They probably couldn't afford the entrance fee.
In its heavy coverage of this event, the normally progressive Morning Call failed even to hint this festival might discriminate against Allentown's large low-income population, much of which is Hispanic. Well, its reporters may not have noticed. But as The Morning Call itself acknowledged in an editorial promotion, it's also a corporate sponsor, which explains its heavy positive spin. And let's face it, Allentown's Hispanic population reads some Spanish paper anyway.
What really kills me is that, not only did The Morning Call sponsor an event that was fenced to keep out the peasants, but the state also kicked in $50,000, thanks to two state reps. anxious to keep their jobs.
If Mayfair officials want to make money next year, I have a suggestion. Charge people who want to leave; they'll pay anything.
Mateo Braccili, who owns the Lehigh Valley's only Hispanic radio station, WHOL 1600 AM, was kind enough to assure me that, at least on Friday night, Mayfair had a large Hispanic contingent.
Friday, May 26, 2006
I've looked at the campaign finance reports for each of our illustrious County Council members. It's a tale of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
On Northampton County's election results website, however, there is no write-in tally. Yesterday, I asked to see the write-in results, and was told they were not yet available. "Unofficial results" aren't ready, either.
"Check again in a week," is what local voting officials tell me.
Part of the reason for the Help America Vote Act, which requires use of touchscreen voting machines, is to restore confidence in our voting system. But how can this happen when local voting officials are still unable to produce, even unofficially, a vote tally for the county's 160 precincts? Results in war-torn Iraq are quicker.
Techonological advances like the Internet and touch screen voting do not improve our system if local and state voting officials fail to do their job. By the way, how does Joe Long know that Dertinger has over 3,000 write-in votes in Northampton County? Why was Channel 69 displaying numbers on election night if it is impossible to do so 8 days after an election? When elections officials tarry in a vote tally, suspicions will arise.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I don't like government interfering with my personal liberties. For that reason, I resent government telling me when and where to gamble, drink, pray, or smoke. On the other hand, gambling never really appealed to me. So I was not among the gaggle waving signs that either supported or opposed gambling in the Lehigh Valley. It doesn't much matter to me. But I'm always bothered me when a government body conducts sham public hearings. And that's what happened yesterday in Allentown's Crowne Plaza. The Board is considering whether to award a casino license in Bethlehem, Allentown, or Limerick. The charade continues today.
Angle crashed yesterday's Gaming Board hearing. Guess what? The Board allowed him to speak.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Let me explain how this happened. I usually only attend matinees like Ice Age II or, most recently, Over the Hedge. I spend most weekends on baby-sitting duty, and can tell you anything you'd ever need to know about Curious George or RV. But both yesterday and today, as I ran yellow lights along Rte 248, I saw something I thought I'd never see at a shopping center -- protesters. At the entrance to this gigantic shopping center, which includes a SuperWalmart and Starbucks, three protesters stood in their Sunday best with signs I couldn't read. I was actually forced to stop at a red light so I could read one of the signs, telling me that fiction "is no excuse for blasphemy."
Friday, May 19, 2006
Now compare this to Charles Dertinger's Congressional campaign. He mounted a last minute write-in campaign to get the Democratic nomination for a Fall face off against Republican incumbent Charles Dent, who incidentally has a $700,000 warchest.
As results trickled in and it became apparent that Dertinger had the necessary write-in votes, a hungry candidate with a message would sound his trumpet. Why is he running? Is it the war? Concern over rising health care costs? Our shrinking middle class? Exactly what is his message? He does have a webpage, but it tells us nothing except how to give him money.
The Express Times had this report on Election night: "Dertinger could not be reached for comment ... ." The following day, The Morning Call told us, "Dertinger could not be reached for comment ... ." They should have looked in Jersey.
A candidate who snubs the press will ignore his constituents. This explains why it took Dertinger three tries to get elected to Northampton County Council. It also explains why Dent will win in the Fall. Dertinger is a Democratic Lynn Swann, hand-picked by party leaders, whose real message is personal advancement.
Don't we deserve better?
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
1. State Elections Officials: A Day Late and a Dollar Short
In the Lehigh Valley's most contentious race - the battle for the 133rd state rep. seat being vacated by T. J. Rooney, state officials have yet to post the campaign finance reports filed by the four candidates. Rybak's report became a major issue, but practically no one saw his report. Government has no problem posting all kinds of personal information about us on the net, but can't be bothered to let voters know who is funding a candidate until after an election, when it is too late to do any good.
2. Local Elections Officials: A Day Late and a Dollar Short
What's going on in the Boscola race? Who's been elected to state committee in Northampton County? We don't know because, as of the time of this post, most of the results are not in. Northampton County has just started using computerized voting, which supposedly makes things easier. Yet as of the time of this post, most of the results are not even tabulated. In the 21st century, this is unacceptable.
Local elections officials also need to be trained in the requirements of the Campaign Finance laws they supposedly administer. Both Lehigh Valley counties mistakenly believe that a candidate seeking a state office need only file a campaign finance report with the state. The law, however, also requires candidates seeking state office to file reports in their home counties. That law must be enforced, especially when the state can't be bothered to post a candidate's finance reports on the net until after the election.
3. Local Elections Officials are Destroying the Private Ballot
The right to cast a private ballot is central to our democratic form of government. It's why lever machines were replaced with computerized voting machines in Pa. Yet yesterday, as I attempted to cast my ballot, I had to do so with an election official hovering around my shoulder. He was only trying to help, but I didn't want his help or appreciate his proximity. Elections officials should not be within five feet of a voting machine while it is being used unless the voter asks for help.
4. Negative Campaigning
Tony "the Hatchet" Rybak attempted to get himself elected by falsely portraying Joe Brennan, the eventual winner, as some kind of jailbird. This deceptive campaign practice deters potential voters, who become disgusted by the whole process.
5. Lousy media coverage
No newspaper has reported the state's failure to post campaign finance reports on the Internet, which might embarrass state bureaucrats into doing the right thing. The vote yesterday reflects a genuine desire for more disclosure and transparency. Those media failed to take state officials to task for its poor performance in online disclosure of campaign finance reports. If the media doesn't care, why should we?
6. Political Hacks
How can we prevent voter apathy when we have a serious case of candidate apathy? Republicans are reeling from the many missteps taken by the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Delay, etc., etc. They are vulnerable. But the 15th U.S. Congressional District presented no Democratic candidates to face off against Republican Dent. Instead, Charles Dertinger, a county councilman who was also running for the state Democratic committee, waged a pitiful, last-minute, write-in campaign. He had such little regard for the voters that he wouldn't speak to the public through the press last night, leaving political boss Joe Long to claim victory.
The Silver Lining.
Despite the poor turnout, there's reason for hope. Here's why:
1. Voters cast out a number of the heavyweights who supported the midnight legislative payraise, including Senate Majority Leader David J. Brightbill, R-Lebanon, Senate President Pro Tempore Robert C. Jubelirer, R-Blair, and local state rep. Paul Semmel.
2. We met a few class acts seeking office. One of them is Jose Rosado. He was defeated by another class act - Joe Brennan. Here's what Rosado had to say about the eventual victor in the 133rd: . ''I thought the race was tough on Joe. It was a difficult situation for he and his wife. That's unfortunate. In addition to congratulating him, I was expressing my feelings that it had to be difficult for him to endure some of the things that were brought out in this race.''
I hope we see Rosado's name again.
Monday, May 15, 2006
But Tony could not stop with character assassination. First, he claimed on his finance report (which is not so readily available) that he was somehow able to send out 40,000 pieces of mail for around $7,700.00. Yeah, right. Second, he ignored campaign laws that require his reports to be filed both with the state and in his own county, too. Third his mailings falsely tell voters that he paid for them when in fact it was his PAC. Strike three, you're out of here! He'd fit right in with the current crop in the land of midnight legislative payraises.
Today, Brennan calmly fired back with a letter to the Attorney General, who just happens to be the main man for enforcing our campaign finance laws. He must be busy these days.
Election Eve Update
Tony "the Hatchet" Rybak tells us on election eve that he's for "honesty and common sense in state government." That's nice. But his campaign finance report tells a different tale.
Rybak's campaign finance report still is not published on the state's Internet site, and he failed to file a copy with the county until late last week, well after the deadline. As Joe Brennan points out, sending out 40,000 pieces of mail for $7,700 defies common sense. And in a Morning Call article published yesterday, Rybak would have us believe that, although he uses a campaign consultant, he does not have to report that expense because he was not charged for the service.
Wrong answer, Tony!
If Rybak uses a campaign consultant who does not charge for services, it's a reportable "in kind" campaign contribution. But as it develops, Tony WAS charged. He acknowledges in the same story that he bought mailing lists, and that expense is not listed on his campaign finance report.
Also not listed, either as in kind contribution or paid expense, is the cost of Tony's web site or his AOL mailing address.
If Tony can't be honest in his campaign finance report, do you really think he'll be honest as a state rep?
Well, those signs aren't going to help Dertinger in his next election. Within months of his election to County Council, he's now facing another "Charles," i.e. Charles Dent, in a battle to become the next U.S. Congressman from the Lehigh Valley. He's waging a write-in campaign because, astonishingly, no Democrat is running in the primary.
The Morning Call calls Dertinger a "faithless politician," and for good reason. He's deserting 17,000 people who voted for him in the vain hope he would actually spend some time on County Council.
Dertinger's few months on Council have been a betrayal of all the principles of the Democratic party. He engaged in back room shenanigans to make appointments to Council vacancies, violating the state's Sunshine Act. He stabbed County Exec Stoffa in the back by rejecting his selection for Director of Administration. He supported a nonsensical code of civility that actually muzzles citizens and provides for suspension of any Council member deemed to be bad boy, effectively disenfranchising those who voted for him. His actions betray a basic misunderstanding of democratic government.
I might be inclined to overlook these glaring defects if Dertinger actually had an agenda other than his own advancement, but he does not. He never spoke out against the Iraq war. He has taken no positions on any national issues. There are no letters to the editor penned under his name. He is very much a Democratic Lynn Swann, hand-picked to do the job by party bosses.
On top of everything else, he's a carpetbagger. He's a New Yorker who still works in Jersey, and only 17% of the contributions to his county council campaign are local. Even the affidavits to his campaign finance reports are acknowledged in Jersey.
I'm sure he'll be able to get 1,000 union write-in votes, but he stands for nothing except his own unbridled ambition. It's a shame that this is the best that local Dems have to offer against Charlie Dent. It's an indication that local party leaders are completely out of touch with the people who put them there. And who's running for the Democratic state committee? Why, none other than Charlie Dertinger.
Greta Browne is also waging a write in campaign, but she's the same person who betrayed Greens in the last Congressional race by throwing her support to Driscoll when it was too late for Greens to offer another candidate.
Charlie Dertinger or Charlie Dent? I think I'll write in "C.D."
Friday, May 12, 2006
This certainly defeats the purpose. Why bother at all?
State campaign finance laws clearly require state candidates to file copies of their reports in their home districts, but astonishingly, most local elections officials don't seem to know that. In Lehigh County, I was flatly told that state candidates need not file reports. And in Northampton County, I was told they only do so as a courtesy.
Instead of running around the Lehigh Valley with cardboard checks, local and state officials should spend a little money to make sure that campaign finance reports are listed on the internet within hours of being filed, and should take a little time to make sure that local elections officials understand the laws they supposedly administer.
Election Eve Update
With the election now only a few short hours away, the campaign finance reports for the 133rd state rep. race have not yet posted on the Internet. Given the controversy concerning Rybak's report, this is a completed abdication of responsibility by state elections officials.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Tony must want to stand out. After all, the race is a 4 way free-for-all that also includes Jose Rosado (he's an assistant principal, not the pitcher) and Dennis Pearson (a substitute teacher "sounding forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat.")
And I think Rybak has succeeded. He's willing to mislead voters and step all over another person to get what he wants. You think we'd get any meaningful reform from this guy? Dream on.
Both The Bethlehem Blog Times and Caseyhasabat have already condemned Tony's campaign tactics, so I don't think he's picked up any votes in the blogosphere. But why did he do it? What prompted Tony, who never took himself that seriously, to adopt suddenly the attitude of a pit bull in an Allentown dogfight?
Ron Angle has a theory. According to the talk-show host, Rybak has hired Precision Marketing, or one of its clones, as his campaign consultant. This firm, owned by Tom Severson, has a reputation for going for the jugular. And it does most of its work for Republicans. So Rybak may have let himself be used to weaken Democratic candidates in the 133rd to make it easier for Republican Dawn Berrigan to win in the Fall.
Clean up, Aisle 133!
The best way to find out what's going on is to follow the money, so I went yesterday to the Northampton County voters' registration office to look at candidates' expense reports, which must be filed 2 Fridays before the election. But when I got there, there were no reports at all. State house candidates file their reports in Harrisburg.
Does this mean ROAD TRIP? Not at all. I could get these reports online and from the convenience of my home. So I popped on the web to look at the reports filed by all 4 candidates for the 133rd. But despite repeated requests, the only report that popped up was the one filed for Jose Rosado. I decided to call Harrisburg.
When I got through, I learned that although all 4 candidates filed timely finance reports, elections officials have not had time to put these items on the net. They'll try their best to get the reports online in about a week, which will of course be AFTER the election. This could explain why Pa.'s online access to campaign finance reports gets an F from The Campaign Disclosure Project.
Follow the money? It's not so easy in the land of midnight payraises. I do know that Rosado got almost all of his campaign money from gazillionaires Beall & Marlene Fowler, who seem like nice people very interested in educational projects. Did I mention I have a few educational projects?
Road trip, anyone?
If not, then perhaps we can persuade state legislators to tighten campaign finance disclosure laws. Reports, once filed in Harrisburg, should be made immediately available to local voting offices so that they are readily accessible. And for all the histrionics involved in getting a finance report available for on line inspection, I have one word for state elections officials -- scanner. As things stand now, Tony Rybak can hack away, and it's difficult for us to know where he's getting his money or who is running his campaign.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Homeland Security officials actually breathed a sigh of relief. Secretary Chertoff explained, "This guy in a goofy red suit was dropping stuff off at millions of homes every year without so much as a 'how do you do' to customs. How do we know he wasn't dropping chickens infected with Avian flu? Ever think about that? Ho. Ho. Ho. What's so funny about that? And what's up with all that peeping through bedroom windows at little kids?"
ExxonMobil reacted to the news by immediately dispatching oil exploration teams. Drilling is expected in the next month, and oil industry officials predict big savings at the pump, possibly as much as a penny per gallon. One energy expert noted, "We don't have to worry about preserving reindeer habitat with Santa out of the way. Now they're as useless as an appendix." When asked about the dwindling polar bear population, an oil industry official said, "That's why we have zoos. And if people really need to see white bears, we can just grab a few grizzlies and spray paint 'em. Conservationists must learn to think outside the box."
Most world leaders did express grief, but this sentiment was by no means universal. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example, released the following remarks: "I dance on his grave - Santa Claus is a silly myth - we will wipe the North Pole off the map - right after we're done with Israel - arrrghh." Tehran officials privately acknowledged that Ahmadinejad was miffed after being placed on Santa's "naughty" list last year.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Ever listen to talk radio? Conservative extremists delight in this format because - well - most of them can't read or write. Although only semiliterate myself, I confess a weakness for some of these shows.
The Lehigh Valley has its own increasingly popular talk radio program on WGPA Sunny 1100 AM. The show broadcasts Monday through Thursday between 8 and 10 AM, and is hosted by the always controversial Ron Angle. Yep, he's the County Councilman. Yep, he's the same guy who was tossed off another station for making insensitive remarks that offended every minority in existence as well as some that have yet to be created.
Ron's loud, obnoxious, insensitive, and uses horrible grammar. He's also funny, intelligent, and much more moderate than he pretends. Some call him a populist: others a demagogue. Take your pick. Personally, I like the guy. I can't help it.
Long before newspapers or blogs reported Dertinger's Congressional write-in campaign, Angle was talking about it on his show. He finds out what is going on and tells his listeners. He also brings in a lot of local pols from both sides of the aisle, from Charlie Dent to John Stoffa. It's rather informative, and Angle occasionally surrenders the reigns to me as guest host. I once gave most of his listeners massive heart attacks when I introduced Ramona Africa as a guest. Hospitals were busy that day.
Unfortunately, the show may be coming to an end. Angle and Polka King Jolly Joe Timmer have been feuding for months, and on the air. Jolly Joe just happens to own the station and thinks Ron's too greedy. Ron thinks Joe is too cheap.
On Monday, at 9 AM, there will be an ON AIR showdown. I wish I could tell you this is just shtick, but these guys are really after each other. Retired Bethlehem Police Captain McLaughlin has been reinstated to maintain order, but will only be issued a squirt gun. There are rumors of a cage match.
If the show does end, we will all lose. I can think of no other forum in which we have such easy access to our local leaders.
Not Ready to Rumble Yet? Then get a load of this.
Billy Givens, a Bill White Hall of Famer and civic activist who has spent years wandering the streets of Easton with bullhorn and boltcutters in hand, has turned in his megaphone to invade the blogosphere with billybytes.
This guy's the real deal. He's been tossed out of more public meetings than I've ever attended. He and Ron Angle (see above) are widely believed to be the reasons why a terrified county council has adopted its "Code of Civility." I've watched him turn candlelight vigils into near riots with Iraq war supporters. (I watch from a distance because I run when Billy goes into overdrive.) Here's how he describes himself:
"With relish, Billy Bytes takes chunks out of those who hold themselves up as models of probity but are venal, be they officials such as mayors and school board members, political parties, or the mainstream media. Billy is mesmerized by the political process and serves it up in all its radiant, rubbishy, riotous detail as played out on the stage of Easton, a river town half way between Philadelphia and New York."
"Billy began with a newsletter distributed in downtown Easton, peddled to local merchants, shoppers, and passers-by. Occasionally, he used a megaphone to get his message out. With the launching of billybytes.com, the newsletter, once a toy boat in the bathtub, unfurls heroic sails to the powerful world-wide winds of the Internet. Those mainsails will catch readers' comments and the reflections of guest writers from the four corners of the globe."
Billy is a must-read, if only for the colorful language. But I don't think Billy really bites. He sure does bark, though. Did I mention he's running for governor?
Ready to Rumble Now? If not, check your pulse.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
They call it tax relief, and will continue doing so until someone actually believes it. But no matter how often you call a pig a princess, it's still a pig. The state Senate is patting itself on the back, and the House will start congratulating itself later today. Soon, Governor Rendell will join the chorus, and they will all hail a "historic" tax relief package, hoping to con all of us long enough so that the real beneficiaries of this relief package - incumbents - can keep their jobs. They'll probably succeed, too.
The reality? No one will see any relief until next year at the earliest. Those who do will be low income seniors who will get a pittance of $250. The rest of us will have to wait for gambling bucks to roll in from seniors and addicts who play the slots. And by the way, school districts will still be able to increase taxes pretty much at will, no matter what they say about "back end referenda."
Unfortunately, the property tax reform package is nothing more than a glitchy re-election gimmick, as gaudy as the casinos we will soon see throughout the state.
If the state legislature were truly interested in real property tax reform, it would start with how properties are assessed. If a property is not properly assessed, it doesn't matter what kind of reform package is adopted.
Let's look at Northampton County. In 2003, a resident did an analysis of what was paid for property and how it was assessed. It appears that the more expensive the property, the lower the assessment! Look at the following table:
Owner Purchase Price County Assessment
#1 $1,750,000 $516,500
#2 $1,350,000 $293,400 (?)
#3 $1,210,000 $546,800
#4 $1,040,000 $772,500 (Brand New Home)
#5 $982,500 $506,500
#6 $919,000 $608,300
#7 $878,000 $420,000
#8 $870,000 $420,000
#9 $850,000 $621,400
#10 $799,000 $453,600
#11 $750,000 $524,700
#12 $741,650 $531,700
#13 $725,000 $428,700
#14 $695,000 $277,000
#15 $650,000 $400,000
It's a system designed to benefit the wealthy minority at the expense of the rest of us. Until it addresses that basic inequity, the state legislature is gambling. It's playing the odds that it can fool us yet again. And the House usually wins.
The Guv is "outraged," but the state House did the right thing yesterday when it refused to vote on a re-election gimmick for incumbents that it laughingly labelled property tax reform. The package endorsed by the Senate does provide a pittance to seniors, but that's pretty much it. Runaway spending in school districts can continue under the current plan, which also fails to address inequities in current property assessments, the basis of all property taxes. Incumbents can no longer pretend they've delievered tax relief.
Now the true motive for rejecting the reform package is NOT some altruistic concern for the taxpayer, but a desire by House Republicans to embarrass Rendell. They've succeeded, but ALL of them are in trouble if they don't come up with a true tax reform package that addresses skyrocketing property taxes. So far, they haven't come close.
AND ANOTHER UPDATE:
Monday, May 01, 2006
As horrifying as this indiscriminate killer may be, it's not what most of us think of when we hear the expression -- "cell from hell." We think of cell phones, the latest technological success to enslave us.
Joe Brennan is a man on a mission. You see, he's in a 4 way fight to get the Democratic nod for the state assembly. And even if he wins, he'll have to face Dawn Berrigan in the Fall. So now he's promised that, if elected to the state legislature, he'll introduce legislation to ban people from using hand held cells while driving. Who knows, maybe Northampton County Council will amend its Code of Civility to regulate cell phone use.
I'll admit I used to detest people who are always on their cells -- at restaurants, movies, in cars, even on the john. Ever stand in an express checkout line behind some lady with 48 items who talks nonstop on her cell while fishing for a minuscule credit card inside the bowels of a 100 lb. purse? Or overhear some guy telling some girl from his cell what a nice night he had while he's sitting on the throne of a public restroom?
But now that I have my own cell from hell, I realize those poor slobs, like me, are really just slaves. I got my cell about two years ago, convincing myself I need it for my business as a title searcher. True, the Recorder of Deeds office already has about 1,000 phones and I don't get any calls in the middle of the night for emergency title searches, but you never know. Now, three cell phones later, I actually have 4 separate cell accounts for various family members. And I can see now that it's really important to answer that ring, even on the john. Yes, I am plugged in, even when I am plugged on. I have Internet service and even had one of those earpieces that make you look like a Secret Service agent, but lost it.
Here's the problem. Once you make the mistake of getting a cell and giving someone your number, you better answer that phone when whatever goofy ring tone you've preset starts to go off. (For me, it's the Mexican Hat Dance.) If you don't, be prepared to get the third degree from whoever called you.
This explains why so many women talk on their cells while they're driving. Unlike men, they don't wish to be rude, and feel compelled to answer when that phone rings. They go through stop signs, turn without blinkers, and commit numerous other traffic offenses, completely oblivious to the dangers of the highway. The other day, I decided to count them as I approached my job. EVERY woman on the road was talking up a storm. And then a fellow title searcher, who happens to be male, drove by and screwed up my entire theory about unsafe women drivers.
He was reading the newspaper!
I'm not sure whether talking on the cell phone while driving is as unsafe as some of the other things we do on the road, whether it's reading Bill White's latest column, gobbling down a slice of pizza, or singing along with the Beastie Boys. But Joe Brennan still has a great idea because it gives me an excuse to ignore that phone.
"Where were you? I called 28 times!"
"Sorry, Joe Brennan made it a crime for me to answer the phone while driving. I could be executed."
Anyone who gives me an excuse for ignoring my cell phone gets my vote. Now I don't live in Joe's district, but I'm voting for him anyway. I'm a Democrat and we do that sort of thing.