Friday, August 17, 2007

Defying Their Solicitor, Northampton County Council Approves American Heroes Grant

Although absent from last night's meeting of Northampton County Council, Ron Angle still managed to cause the biggest ruckus. That's because he insisted on attending by speakerphone from the wilds of Jellystone Park. Solicitor Lenny Zito, a former judge, advised council prez Grube to try and accommodate Angle.

That decision was resented by crybabies Charles Dertinger, Lamont McClure and Diane Neiper. They shook their bobbleheads in disgust at Councilman Speakerphone, before the meeting ever got started.

When it did, McClure demanded that Zito state the legal basis for permitting a council member to attend a meeting by phone.

"The Sunshine Law," Zito quietly answered. That shut McClure up because he knows next to nothing about that.

From the west coast, Angle kept saying things like, "Hey there, Booboo" and "I'm smarter than the average bear!" But he kept getting cut off. In his last call, it sounded like Angle was in a bit of trouble. In fact, I could swear he was being swallowed whole by a grizzly bear who thought Ron was a "pic-a-nic basket." Council made one last try, only to get dead silence on Angle's end. After a quick call to the National Park Service and a sad moment of silence, the meeting resumed.

"We tried," shrugged Ann McHale.

With Angle out of the way, Council unanimously adopted the American Heroes Grant. This provides a property tax rebate to veterans deployed this or next year. Solicitor Zito had suggested tweaking the language so that it could withstand a legal challenge. "We can do that after the fact," explained Dertinger. Lamont McClure smugly dismissed Zito's concerns. "Anytime a legislature acts, it invites judicial interpretation."

Don Cunningham's American Heroes Grant is a good idea. But if your own lawyer has suggestions to improve it, why not listen? Perhaps the grant could have been amended and adopted on the spot. Four members of council (Grube, McHale, Dowd & Cusick) wanted to table the matter for that reason.

Not Team Dertinger. Their unwillingness to listen sounds eerily similar to a presidential administration that refused to listen just a few short years ago.

3,702 American soldiers have paid the ultimate price for Team Bush's refusal to listen. This same stubbornness now could end up hurting returning soldiers in need.
Update: The Morning Call's detailed account of last night's meeting is here. The Express Times has three separate reports - Angle's encounter with ursos horriblus; the military rebate; and even a story about the courthouse cupola repair (on schedule and under budget).
Update #2: The Lehigh Valley Independent Press questions whether Northampton County Council is supporting our troops or just gaining political support without pain. Joe DeRaymond asserts that, if council truly wants to help veterans, "they should do it across the board, with an outright grant to every soldier who was a resident of Northampton County who qualified, not just those who owned real estate."


Bernie O'Hare said...

I have just deleted two identical anonymous comments. They start as follows: Where is the legal basis for permitting a council member to attend a meeting by phone?

He then proceeds to post the entire Sunshine Act, which I actually linked in the main body of my post.

I suppose the point being made by this "anonymous poster," who has cut and pasted articles here and at other blogs before, is that he can't find a specific provision in the Sunshine Act to support Zito's opinion. When he did it on Varkony's blog, he had to ID himself, so I actually know who he is.

As Zito made clear during last night's meeting, it is the Pa. Supremes who have determined that a person, including a councilperson, has a right under some circumstances, to attend a meeting by speakerphone. And they read the Sunshine Act to provide that right.

And Zito is correct. There is at least one reported case like that, although the situation is not identical.

Please don't cut and paste a lengthy article when you can simply link to it. It's rude.

Anonymous said...

Angle was stringy with a lot of gristle.


The Bear

LVDem said...

what's rude, Bernie, is that the Bear did not chew with his mouth closed.

I do love the Jellystone Park comments. too funny.

Re: the bill itself. If the lawyer found a couple of ways to strengthen it, I hope council looked at it carefully. We both agree that the merits of this bill are fairly self-evident (unless you are the MCall), but it would be a tragedy if in 2 years this bill is over-turned b/c the "class" identified in this matter is less than air-tight.

river said...

"Thats right Mr. Ranger Sir " :):)

river said...

Ron Angle's call really wasn't lost, it was stopped. When Ron entered Jellystone national park,with a suspicious looking picanc basket. Mr Ranger Sir kept an eye on him. Sometime during the evening, Ron and Yogi got into a poker game. When Ron put up the picanic basket for the next game Mr Ranger Sir made mistakes on his eavesdropping. Scrapple and lemonade sounded like schrapnel granades, Amish potato salad sounded like ambush police stations, and pickled pigs knuckles became a slurr on all the police. By the time the hazmat team, Bombsquad and swat teams arrived, both Ron and Yogi were 30 feet up a tree holding out. Since Yogi didn't have a SS number, The ICE and INS agents wondered if he really belonged in Jellystone or if he perhaps slipped under the fence at Yellowstown or the Petrified Forest. Ron produced his SS# but since 15 illegal immigrants were already using his number to suck the blood out of the United States, he was told he would have to prove that number was his and not Miguels, juans,Jesus, etc. Anyway, the way that Poker game ended up, it's anyones bet who will own more real estate here.... Ron or Yogi :):):):):):)

Anonymous said...

You're insane . . . but funny!

Tom Foolery said...

I picture angle more as Yosemite Sam...If he is so damn concerned about what is goping on at a council meeting then stay the heck home or write a letter and present your case. Legal or not, it was just ridiculous. the man thrives on being annoying and obstructive.

Tom Foolery said...

Not sure how going on became goping but I meant what's going on at a council meeting....

Anonymous said...

"3,702 American soldiers have paid the ultimate price for Team Bush's refusal to listen."

What disingenuous hyperbole. Go ahead Bernie, tell those currently serving (as volunteers, mind you) how wasteful their current service is. It's fine to be against the war, but previous generations disagreed with policy, while avoiding the type of hyperbole that undermines those in the field - while in the field. My God. With patriots like you, those serving needn't any enemies on the PsyOps front. Until either or both party(ies) vote to defund the war they both agreed to start, and bring them home, don't insult and undermine those who voluntarily serve at the behest of those we elect.

I don't like Bush either, but Hillary, and several democrats currently running for president are just as responsible for getting us into this - and not getting us out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon. 1:41,

I'll agree that both parties are equally responsible for getting us into that mess. But I blame Team Bush more than anyone. There was a significant sentiment against an Iraqi invasion, and it came from sources as varied as the former commander of the Persian Gulf campaign to every major religion.

It is no longer any secret that Bush arrogantly forged ahead, discounting the advice of most American allies and even some military commanders. When he did invade, it was with too few troops. He ignored the advice of the army chief of staff and the written strategy set forth by the Army war command.

It is Bush's blunders, and not mistakes on the ground, that resulted in American casualties. Those blunders are the result of an unbridled hubris. That has set Bush apart from past presidents and has diminsihed America in the eyes of our allies.

I don't believe this is disingenuous or hyperbole. While I won't make the mistake of trying to blame everything on one party, I do believe Bush and his administration have damaged America more than any past president.

I agree that we need to be coming together and the divisiveness has to stop. But we also need to be honest w/ each other. I have no confidence in Bush's ability to lead this country. At best, his presidency is marred by his incompetency. Congress, both Democratic and Republican, have been his enablers. His biggest flaw has been the refusal to listen. Like it or not, American soldiers have died because of it.

On the local level, we have a similar refuasal to listen. because of that, the relief intended for returning veterans is unlikely to go anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bernie. But imagine your sentiments, expressed in the same tone, in previous war eras. I'm far less concerned with your opposition to Bush and the war as I am with the looseness of your statements, especially as they relate to volunteer troops in the field. You speak eloquently about returning veterans and the greatest generation. I doubt you'd abide similar statements (akin to yours about sending kids to die like firewood or some similar hyperbole) from those who were opposed to US involvement in WWII. Viet Nam taught most of us not to disparage military personnel when opposed to the war. None of these heroes are draftees. They signed up. And despite early criticism from those just looking for college money, we're now five years hence, and they continue to volunteer. Talk about a greatest generation. Current volunteer warriors are well aware of the shooting wars going on and still continue to volunteer for the fight. Again, these are volunteers. There are no draftees in the bunch. Disagree with the war. It's your obligation. But don't insult those who are volunteering, and whom, apparently, you believe you know better than. It's mighty low while they're still being shot at.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 3:58,

I've touched a nerve, and for that I apologize. I mean it, too. Obviously, I failed to express myself clearly. I've long been advocating that both sides, left and right, need to come together.

You claim I disparage volunteers. That surely was not my intention. I did intend to disparage Bush and blame him for the blunders that have resulted in the loss of American lives. But I did not once disparage our soldiers. I honestly don't know where that's coming from, but it wasn't my intention.

I actually come on here to apologize. After thinking about your comments, I think I know what really bothers you. It's the same thing that bothered me in a similar discussion a few days ago.

Here it is - it's wrong to use American casualties as an arguing point. I think that upset you, and I'm inclined to agree with you, and will try to refrain from that in the future.

You talk about previous war eras as though people were not critical. Actually, they were. And you can see that in almost every war. Vietnam is the obvious example. But consider also Lincoln, who was highly critical of President Polk's conduct during the Mexican American war. While the war was raging, Congressman Abraham Lincoln condemned the attack as unprovoked.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough Bernie. Your point about casualties as a point of argument is the point; in this war era especially, as there are no consignees here. We all walk a finer line today along the razor's edge between criticism of the war and criticism, if only by inference, of those brave ones who've chosen to fight in all our names. You needn't apologize to me. I'm admittedly defensive of these young people; not because they need my pity, but because they have my greatest respect.

You're a stand-up guy to admit you can do better. I'd like to believe I can too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tom Foolery,

I think it might be a good idea to permit a legislative rep to attend a meeting by speakerphone if exigent circumstances prevent him or her from being present. The experience was a disaster, but that's to be expected the first time anything is tried. As we become more tech savvy, it won't be speakerphones, but there will be videoconferences.

Anonymous said...

As Zito made clear during last night's meeting, it is the Pa. Supremes who have determined that a person, including a councilperson, has a right under some circumstances, to attend a meeting by speakerphone. And they read the Sunshine Act to provide that right.

"And Zito is correct. There is at least one reported case like that, although the situation is not identical."
This is political spin at it's worst. Bernie O can't make the connection with the Sunshine Act. Angle is at his best when he spends your money on frivolous lawsuits and tells you he is doing it in his (ahem) your best interest

Anonymous said...

Bernardo, You evil troll, hows it hanging?

I know I'm going to get beat down on this but I have to get it out there. I am not in favor of this latest craze in tax break laws. I know you feel if we give breaks to developers and contractors so why not our fighting men and women. On a gut level emotional plane, I agree, but two wrongs don't make a right. This reminds me of Gulianni, constantly talking about 9/11. I believe if Governemnt, especially local, works for all fairly, that is a good thing. Your County tax putting you in the poor house is a bit overstated and I know quite a few poor folk. We need to get the Feds to step up to the plate and ensure all citizens have 'real' access to decent healthcare and that emergency tax relief is available for veterens that need it. As well as all the services that these Vets will need for years to come in rehab.
If we go on with this trend, next we will rebate police, then Firemen, then Judges(the last is the absurd to prove my point). I fear these programs of Pol's tripping over each other to salute the troops will backfire and create even more resentment and divisivness than our poor nation already endures.
I said my piece now I'm prepared for the assult.

Your Less than Obedient Servant

Sir Dude

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:47,

No, actually, your comment, made at 2:47 in the morning, is the political spin. Leonard Zito is merely following the law, something that Lamont, Charles and Diane should try sometime.

Several municipalities in the LV, including Upper Saucon, have written policies permitting its members to attend meetings by speakerphone. They all cite the Sunshine Act as their justification. I guess they must be spinning, too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sir Dude, I understand the reductio ad absurdum argument, and heard it expressed by others.

Several members of council actually feel that way, but won't dare publicly say so.

As for me, I'll confess that I believe this is why gov't exists, to take care of the less fortunate.

river said...

Anon 2:47 said" Angle is at his best when he spends your money on frivolous lawsuits and tells you he is doing it in his (ahem) your best interest

2:47 AM " I beg to differ... Angle spent his own money for that suit

river said...

Bernie says" 3,702 American soldiers have paid the ultimate price for Team Bush's refusal to listen." Bernie...Just be glad it isn't a lot more, and Listen to what? When Saddam was in power it cost at least 100,000 that were killed just because supreme Saddam didn't want them. Refusal to listen to what? The south with Jefferson Davis wouldn't listen to others who wanted to end slavery. During the Civil War it wasn't unusual for 10,000 Americans to die in a single afternoon. How about Darfur?? No one else on earth will even lift a finger to try and stop genocide, the killing of people just because someone wants them killed. Bernie O'Hare, what a great Irish name. My great great grandfather came from Wales back in 1850. Back in the 1970's, was Iraq any different than Northern Ireland? The IRA was like the Shihits and the sunis, or how ever u spell it. They were exploding car bombs all over the place. Just because some where Catholic and some were not. Thousands were Killed. Is there really any difference? between Iraqs civil war and Ireland's???? I think not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I can think of one difference. The IRA usually called after it planted a bomb so that innoncent people could clear out.

river said...

Hi Bernie, I am not picking on Irish. I just wanted to get my point across that killing in the name or religion, ethnic cleansing, and genocide can happen anywhere at anytime as long as there are people who turn a blind eye to it and say they don't care because it isn't happening to me.