Thursday, January 31, 2008
A statewide poll shows Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and Attorney General Tom Corbett in a dead heat in the race for Attorney General. The poll of 600 likely voters was requested by The Element Agency, the media consultant for John Morganelli, and was conducted January 21-23, 2008. It has a margin of error of 4% +/-.
Voters were asked the following questions:
* Do you feel that Tom Corbett has handled his job as Pennsylvania Attorney General well enough to deserve re-election or is it time to give a new person a chance?
* In the race for Attorney General, if all you knew was that the Republican candidate is Tom Corbett, the current state Attorney General, and the Democratic candidate is John Morganelli, the current District attorney for Northampton County, who would you vote?
The poll shows that Morganelli is virtually unknown outside eastern Pennsylvania with only 4% favorable name identification statewide. Corbett, the incumbent, is better known with 15% favorable name identification statewide. Neither candidate has any significant negatives.
The following conclusions were arrived at from the poll:
* The race for Attorney General is fluid at this time.
* Despite the fact that Corbett as the incumbent has a significant advantage in name identification over Morganelli at this time, as Morganelli becomes more known to voters, his share of the vote will increase and continue to make him competitive.
Grant Draper of The Element Agency said that the poll is bad news for the incumbent attorney general. "Whenever an incumbent has less than 40% re-elect numbers, there is a problem", said Draper. Draper also noted that although Corbett has 4 times the favorable name identification of Morganelli, Morganelli is neck and neck with him. "I don’t see how John Morganelli could be better positioned at this time than he is now to be the first Democratic Attorney General in Pennsylvania," said Grant Draper.
Draper also noted that the poll confirms what he believed based on the history of these races in Pennsylvania. “This will be a close race and consistent with past Pennsylvania races for Attorney General,” said Draper. Draper noted that in years 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2004, although no Democrat was ever successful, each of the races was decided by about 1-2%.
“Even in 1984 when President Reagan was winning a landslide in Pennsylvania, then incumbent Republican Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman defeated Allen Ertel by a scant 25,000 votes garnering 2,283,940 votes to Ertel’s 2,258,884,” noted Draper.
“At this point, I think we are well positioned to compete," said Draper.
Contact: Grant Draper
The Element Agency
20 West 22nd Street 12th Floor
New York, New York 10010
Update: Beardless Capitol Ideas has just hinted this poll is slanted in favor of Morganelli because The Element Agency has liberal clients like Nuclear Threat Initiative and Rainforest Alliance. Morganelli's a pinko? So is he just joshing when he harps about that death penalty thing and those illegal aliens? Morganelli has been on the O'Reilly show more often than Ann Coulter. Come to think of it, he's better looking, too. God, he nearly invaded New Jersey last week. He also eats red meat . . . raw.
Good point about that name recognition thing, though.
My kind of guy!
He also torments Philly columnists, who are also mostly dead, with abridged versions of their columns. Hey, I can do that, too! So here's a recap of what our LV columnists and mainstream bloggers are saying.
Bill White: Brian Monahan sucks, but you don't get to vote him out because he's a lawyer or something. Oh yeah, Williams Township sucks, too.
Joe Owens: I'm running for president, you know. Shhh! Don't tell anyone.
Paul Carpenter: Hey, guess what? I ride a motorcycle without a helmet! Bet you would have never guessed that!
Jim Deegan: The Giants can kick the Eagles' ass. And Jesus' divine derriere, too!
Margie Peterson: This is my last column for the sucky Morning Call. But they're letting me trash them to prove they're not really discriminating against me. (Wait 'till I sue their asses!) And something about journalism.
John Micek: I don't have a hormone deficiency. Ask my wife. If O'Hare keeps insisting I can't grow a beard, I'll kick his ass. I'm a lumberjack, damn it!
If Easton is the greatest recycler in the Lehigh Valley, nearby Williams Township leaders are the Kings of solid waste. Williams is home to Chrin Landfill, whose fumes murder nearly every Jersey resident who dares enter Pennsylvania from Route 78. On summer days, the smells are so bad I've seen skunks hitchhike the hell out of there. Chrin should bottle that stuff and sell it to the Pentagon.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I speak of Vic Mazziotti, Northampton County's Director of Fiscal Affairs, professional bean counter. He saved the county a half mil soon after he came on board over its IT contract. He advised the county to rebid a second IT contract, which saved another $1.8 million.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
All residential properties in the City of Allentown , offered for sale on or after January 31, 2008, must have a buyer notification inspection performed. It is the primary responsibility of the seller to request the inspection from the City. Attached is a procedure memo for you and your group's information. If you see any properties being offered for sale by Owner, after that date, please notify us. The City relies on our neighborhood groups to be our eyes and ears in the community. Thank You.
Vee have vays of making you cooperate. Ask Zee Weikel vhat happened vhen she tried to have a yard sale. Loyalty oaths are next.
Update: Kay Pickel, President of Cmmunity Watch #7, 12th to 20th Streets, has already urged "everyone to boycott this."
My kind of guy! I'm surprised he's not King of the World.
What really intigues me is his latest post, A Tip for You, addressed to someone named Ed.
"Even though you've been comped for a meal, it's still customary to tip your server. Just thought you should know.
So who the hell is Ed?
I've learned independently that the Ed referred to in this post is none other than Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. The restaurant in question is none other than the famous Johnny Mañana's (that's with a ñ, damn it!). Pawlowski stuffed his face there gratis on January 18. All the local elites were there for its grand opening. My invitation was probably lost in the mail.
Pawlowski must think his server's best reward was the honor of catering to his every whim. No tip. Waiters have contacted Zee Weikel about a yard sale to help make ends meet. When it comes to the little guy - suffering Hamilton Street merchants, seventy-five year old ladies conducting yard sales, or waiters - Pawlowski has very little respect or concern.
How do other elected officials feel about handouts? Northampton County Exec John Stoffa refused to accept a bag of pretzels during a meeting last year in which Morning Call columnist and Love Doctor Bill White acted as some sort of Doctor Phil. "I won't accept anything from anybody." Easton Mayor Sal Panto has the same attitude - "ask Josie at the deli, I won't even take a sandwich."
Not Pawlowski. He'll take a handout, but won't tip his server. He doesn't care much for Allentown's poor. So who does he like? You can get an answer to that question on the 31st. Mayor Ed is having a fuñdraiser that night at famous Johnny Mañana's (that's with a ñ, damn it!). For just $5,000, you can be a "gold" sponsor and get a gold taco or something. For $1,000, it's bronze. That's a pretty much tells me who Pawlowski thinks is important. It also sheds light on his views concerning local campaign finance reform.
Actions speak louder than words, and the Morning Call gods have been busy boys. And boy oh boy are they boys!
Monday, January 28, 2008
As she confessed during Saturday's "Allentown Speak Out" forum, she occasionally has yard sales when the weather is nice. "I'm on a limited income, and this gives me something extra so I can go out with my girlfriends every now and then."
Thanks to Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, this criminal behavior has come to a screeching halt. While toolin' down Turner in his big ass municipal SUV, he spotted one of Zee's yard sales, and dispatched his minions to shut her down.
City officials surrounded her, demanding to see her papers, telling her she can only have a yard sale once every thirty years or something without a special dispensation that ensures the city gets a cut of the action.
Thank God for Mayor Pawlowski and his vigilant eye on street crime! Imagine if some of the beautiful people dining at Johnny Mañana's were forced to see some old lady - and a poor person no less - selling used underwear or something. One skidmark and they'd start hurling chunky salsa, quesadillas and margaritas all over the place. It might even make the gangs leave town.
By the way, that's Johnny Mañana's with a ñ, not an n, damn it!
Keystone Politics - a Democratic leaning news aggregator, did the honors. Of course, I quickly followed KP's lead. I suggested that Tony - a wrestling referee - was probably just showing this woman some new moves. Hee. Hee. KP described her as a "known prostitute." Chris Casey went a little further, claiming Phillips' companion "has a criminal record as a prostitute." Someone on Casey's site then huffed that women are "creeped out" by Phillips. You can see a picture of him above. He doesn't look that creepy to me, but he sure looks black. The Morning Call finally decided to report this escapade on July 13, two days after it hit the local blogosphere.
Well, as all know, no charges were ever filed against Tony or his female companion. None were needed. He had already been publicly crucified, and I drove in a few of the nails myself.
One thing always bothered me about this story. Do you honestly think, for even a second, that Keystone Politics sends staffers to check local police department blotters? If they do, they've missed some juicy stories involving political figures over the past year. I know a few myself, but don't like writing about DUIs, even when they involve local hotshots. So how did KP get this little ditty? Obviously, somebody leaked it. Someone wanted to smear Phillips.
Worked like a charm, too.
Over the weekend, I ran into Tony Phillips at the Allentown Speak Out Forum. It's the second time I've met him. Contrary to what I expected, he's actually very well-spoken and informed about his local community. He may not be on a first name basis with Lee Butz, but seems to know a lot of Allentown's less affluent citizens pretty well. They don't seem "creeped out" by him at all. Although it's yesterday's news, I asked if he would mind telling me his side of the story, and he did.
Phillips is a twenty-two year veteran of the Allentown police department and a life-long Allentown resident. He's a Moravian grad, and is teaching in Philly. He's also a victim of racial discrimination, and I'm playing no race card. This is documented extensively in a federal district court opinion. Phillips was forced to work for over ten years with an officer who wore a swastika pin on his uniform and made racist remarks. When he finally complained, he was subjected to retaliatory harassment. This included false accusations about smoking marijuana on duty, later admitted to have been fabricated. He'd come on duty to find a severed and blackened doll's head attached to his cruiser's steering wheel. Just a practical joke, they said. Despite this hostile work environment, Phillips was still cited for heroism.
Still creeped out?
Obviously, Tony was a thorn in the side of officers who think swastika pins are cute. And although he's a Democrat, he bluntly told me he's no "team player" for Mayor Ed Pawlowski, either. He's been called a "chowderhead" and "halfwit" for opposing Allentown's bond refinancing scheme. He has criticized the $73,000 salary paid to the city's information technology director. He opposed a 54% payhike for Allentown's next mayor. He stood up for suffering Hamilton Street merchants - most of them minorities - when they were thrown under the bus by LANTA. He dared complain when the city tried to get a special booze license for Johnny Mañana's - an upscale nonlocal eatery that will send all of its profits out of the city - while thumbing its nose at less trendy establishments. Worst of all, he was highly critical of Democratic operative Peter Wernsdorfer as Allentown Director of Public Works. Wernsdorfer is no engineer or city resident, but is politically well connected. Phillips dared speak against our political spoils system.
So when Tony was caught in a playground this summer, someone took advantage of the situation. Newspapers, for all their flaws, can usually tell when someone is trying to spin them. But we bloggers are more naive. In some cases, we ourselves are active participants in the spin cycle.
Here's what Tony, a married father of four, tells me. The woman in question is a friend, a person he's known since 1972, and she was having some personal problems. He actually attended classes with her. She's a local, too. Contrary to what we told you, Phillips claims this woman has no criminal record as a prostitute. I checked myself. Since 2000, this woman has had four parking tickets and six minor prosecutions involving her children. No prostitution charges. After the incident in question, police visited this woman at her home no less than three times in an attempt to have her implicate Phillips.
Tony Phillips was definitely screwed. It just wasn't by that woman. Who is the Phillips screwdriver? Could be Allentown cops who like swastika pins. Could be city administrators who hate being questioned. Could even be goofy bloggers like me.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Don't think that happens here? Look no farther than Easton, where politician Mike Fleck brazenly defends a $1,500 campaign contribution from the city's own financial advisor, Concord Public Finance. "If you disagree with that reform the system because 90% of the pols. in the Valley do that."
Fleck also thinks it's perfectly OK that the city's financial advisor treat the entire city council (and their families) to baseball games (although he claims it's only the Reading Phillies), but refuses to name the council members involved. "I am not going to expose people to your anal probe for a family friendly Father's Day outing that they threw for most of their clients."
Fortunately for us, the supremes' edict applies to any municipality governed by a home rule charter. In the Lehigh Valley, that includes both Northampton and Lehigh Counties as well as the three cities - Bethlehem, Allentown and Easton. Instead of waiting for reform from the land of midnight payraises - hell will freeze over before that happens - we can simply adopt our own fleckin' campaign finance laws. Zack Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy, a Philly watchdog group, explains why. "It's clearly changed the landscape already, in the sense that the big donors - the corporations or law firms or unions with big political action committees - are already finding themselves with less clout."
I am delighted to read that Bethlehem council member J. Michael Schweder has taken the initiative to propose contribution limits on candidates seeking office in Bethlehem. He even wants finance reports made available for public inspection at city hall. The Express Times summarizes his proposal here.
In September, I suggested that both counties post locally filed campaign finance reports online. How hard is that? If I could post reports filed by county council candidates here, couldn't the two largest governments in the Lehigh Valley make these reports available as well? I believe both counties are looking into this possibility.
Update #2: A bill similar to Scwhweder's proposal is being considered in Pittsburgh.
So Allentown blogger Michael Molovinsky has scheduled a forum, Allentown Speak Out!
Who's the other?
Lehigh County Exec Don Cunninghman has been singled out for a commitment to fiscal responsibility. If you ask me, the secret to Cunningham's success is a willingness top reach across the aisle and work with Republicans.
After all, we're all in this mess together.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
And no, she's not using a broomstick.
I was only able to post this data because of research kindly provided by Lori G. Sywensky, Norco's Community Development Grants Administrator. Lori is one of many people in government who really do care. She's just one of many names you'll rarely see in the paper. We see the embezzlers or folks who abuse their credit cards. But there are many more Loris. If you attended last Thursday's meeting of Northampton County Council, you'd see the appreciation its members expressed to her for her efforts with the homeless.
In last week's post, I noted in a comment that Northampton County Council had unanimously adopted a resolution seeking $233 thousand from the state for emergency shelters. "It will get it, too. The amount of money has gone up every year since I've been following it."
Although the amount being requested has increased, the actual money received is another story. As Lori explains it, "Last year, we applied for $175,560 on behalf of five area shelters. The state's DCED thought we would receive around $180,000, but due to drastic cuts in McKinney-Vento Act funding, the state only awarded us $61,988 for use in two of the shelters. PA DCED told us in November that they received a slight in increase in Emergency Shelter Grant funds this year, so we're hopeful we can get money for some more of our projects this year." For the first time in four years, Congress has increased funding for homeless children by $2 million.
Here's the rest of the homeless research provided by Lori.
Income as a Factor
* As in 2005, most adults residing in the LV's shelters (68.5%) had diplomas and some post-secondary education. Strikingly, the percentage of persons having attended college increased in 2006 from 7.7% in 2005 to 11.4% in 2006.
• About 25% of the adults staying in shelter in the LV last year were employed, an increase of almost 4% from the previous year. Thirty percent (30%) of adults in family shelters were working, with an even larger number (48%) of heads-of-household actively seeking employment.
Disability as a Factor
* Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $603 in Northampton County. If SSI represents an individual's sole source of income, $181 in monthly rent is affordable. Fair Market Rent for a one-bedroom is $668.
* Over 25% of the people staying in one of the LV's shelters identified themselves as having physical or functional disabilities, with 15% of them receiving SSI or SSD.
Race/Ethnicity as a Factor
• County residents who are African American and Latino/Hispanic continue to be disproportionately effected by homelessness. However, the numbers vary greatly when comparing families and individuals who stayed in shelters.
Caucasian make up 87.6% of the county population, 30.9% of families in LV shelters and 57.2% of individual adults in LV shelters.
African American make up 3.8% of the county population, 25.4% of families in LV shelters and 23.5% of individual adults in LV shelters.
Hispanic or Latinos make up 8.3% of the county population, 41.6% of families in LV shelters and 15.4% of adult individuals in LV shelters.
U.S. Census Bureau, "2006 American Community Survey" (Northampton County)
Lehigh Valley Coalition on Affordable Housing. "2006 Lehigh Valley Shelter Census: A Survey of Nine Lehigh Valley Homeless Shelters"
National Low Income Housing Coalition, "Out of Reach, 2006."
Northampton County Pennsylvania Five-Year Consolidated Plan & Annual Action Plan: October 1,2007-September 30, 2012, as prepared by Triad Associates and approved by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, October 2007.
Dude, hire a speechwriter! And make sure it's not Angle.
Update: John Micek's account of Morganelli's announcement, published by The Morning Call, is located here. The Express Times story, written by crime reporter Russ Flanagan, is located here.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
He's hoppin' mad that Meg Holland did not run as Margaret Mary Holland, and wants DA John Morganelli to arrest her or something. Good luck with that one, Dave! By the way, Dave, Bethlehem is in Lehigh County, too. So if you want her executed, the person to ask is the state AG. I'm sure Corbett will hop right on it. Bonusgate can wait.
So what's Meg, 'er Margaret May, doing? At a news conference yesterday afternoon, Bethlehem Controller Holland announced an ambitious and detailed first year agenda in a four-page news release. Instead of summarizing it, you should read it yourself. It reveals a consummate professional who takes her job seriously. Voters got this one right.
1. Hire a Deputy Controller - In December 2007 I instructed Jean Zweifel, Director the Human Resources, to put an advertisement for the Deputy Controller position in the newspaper and on Career Builder. I also informed Daryl Yothers (the former Deputy Controller) that I would consider him for the position if he submitted an updated resume to Human Resources. I received approximately 40 resumes from interested applicants for the position. The majority of the applicants were extremely qualified for the position. I narrowed down the 40 applicants to 10 and interviewed them with Ms. Zweifel. Several applicants were willing to take dramatic decreases in salary from their present employment. I hired Eugene Auman on Sunday, January 13, 2008 for the position. Mr. Auman was Vice President of Finance and Administration of Valley Youth House, has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Perm State University and is also certified in human resources. Mr. Auman brings with him over 20 years of financial, managerial and administrative experience with non-profits and governmental entities, particularly in budget preparation, fiscal reporting and contract monitoring.
2. Attend monthly pension board meetings and review reports - As required, I will personally attend the monthly pension board meetings. I attended my first meeting in November 2007 and reviewed all financial reports, actuarial reports, and investment and performance reports with respect to the city's pension funds. I will summarize my review of the aforementioned documents in the coming weeks.
3. Establish fraud deterrence and prevention practices - I will enact several fraud deterrence and prevention practices, including: an anonymous telephone"integrity and humility" tip line, personnel manuals, cash handling procedures, computer access and Internet controls, telephone controls, etc. I will also introduce IDEA software to enhance the current accounting systems and establish routine queries of the city's databases to detect any potential fraud for further investigation.
4. Establish purchase order procedures and authorization controls - My department will perform audits and procedures which will work towards resolving the management comment noted by Maher Dussell CPAs (the CPA firm hired to perform the city's financial audit). This management comment has appeared on the audited financial statements for over ten years. My department will instruct the Accounting Department to record purchase encumbrances, immediately. In addition, my department will institute purchase order reviews, as well as, perform an audit of blanket purchase orders for last twelve months. My department will work with the Continual Improvement (CI) team to review purchase order processing and approval in order to eliminate duplication (i.e. six copies of purchase orders are routed after approval process). Any other management comments noted in the auditors['] report will be resolved and procedures will be instituted to prevent future comments regarding internal control weaknesses.
5. Enact record retention policy for the Accounting and Controller's Department - The legal department recently completed a record retention policy(part of their CI projects) for their department and for city contracts, while researching with respect to governmental record retention. My department, particularly the part-time employee, will work with the CI team and the law department to inventory, categorize and shred unnecessary documents that are currently stored on the fifth floor of city hall. For example, through housecleaning of my department we found telephone books from the 1970s, tax books from the 1980s, four scrap books dating back 40 years with newspaper clippings about former Controller, Wally DeCrosta, and the city administration, a painting from Gloucester Massachusetts from 1966 and various other prints and pictures.
6. Enhance the existing database of municipal contracts with the law department - Until now, the details regarding all city contracts were kept manually on contract cards by the Controller's office, while the law department kept contract detail in a database. My department will enhance the contract database with various contract details to enable more efficient sorting to facilitate audits and reviews of the contacts (i.e. vendor information, dollar amounts, department, purpose, length of time, etc.)
7. Review and monitor the budget process - My department will complete a detailed review of the budget process, budget calculations and overhead allocation (by the Accounting Department) and budget monitoring procedures with a comparison of budgeted amounts to actual amounts by category. I will require an explanation of variances by the applicable department and city administration,which may result in adjustments and changes to future budget calculations. My department will obtain comparative municipalities to the City of Bethlehem from Maher Dussell and will perform ratio analysis to determine areas where the city outperforms its comparatives and areas for improvement and further investigation/review. The Deputy Controller will begin reviewing the actual to budgeted financials for year ended December 31, 2007, immediately.
- For 2006, the accrual basis financial statements indicated an approximate profit of $300,000 and the cash basis budgeted financial statements indicated an approximate loss of ($1,600,000).8. Meet with all departments as to policies and procedures - I or the Deputy Controller will personally meet with all departments to review procedures, policies, any existing manuals, cash handling detail, etc., which will facilitate future audit plans.
- After my review of individual line items, I determined that there was $2,000,000 in interdepartmental revenue recorded on the accrual basis financial statements, which was not recorded on the cash basis financial statements because the revenue was not collected as of December 31, 2006. The difference was primarily due to the following interdepartmental revenue items:
- Ambulance fees (outstanding receivables are overdue and the city has a part-time employee/retiree at St. Luke's Hospital collecting the ambulance fees due to the insurance processing)
- Police roster fees
- 911 fees
9. Review of medical insurance and catastrophic insurance processing - My department will review the medical insurance claims processing procedures and reimbursement of catastrophic medical reimbursements. I have a meeting scheduled for February 11, 2008 with Mike Caruso and Joe Leonard to discuss my questions/concerns.
- The city is currently responsible for catastrophic medical expenses up to $100,000 and up-front expenses over $100,000 and is reimbursed for expenses incurred over the S100,000 threshold. The reimbursements in the past have not been made on a timely basis.
10. Operation and performance audits of departments and other entities (including the entities that are part of the Bethlehem Authority) - My department will perform announced and unannounced operational and performance audits of various departments and entities as determined through my analysis of financial information.
- i.e. the Municipal Golf Course did not make a profit, therefore, my department will review/audit the golf course to make it more efficient (cash collection procedures, increase revenue generation in other ways, etc.)11. Review purchase policies and procedures as they relate to pricing negotiations - My department will review the purchase policies and procedures related to price negotiations for quantity discounts. This relates to office supplies, equipment, energy and utility usage, insurance, etc. For example, two departments will purchase photocopiers/printers at the same time and not consider grouping the purchase for additional discounts.
12. Meet with Sands-Beth Works representatives to review the host fee contract,revenue generation and computations - I will personally meet with the Sands-BethWorks representatives to review the host fee contract, revenue generation and computations.
- Determine the applicable reporting, collection, gaming requirements and remittance of revenue to the city.13. Meet with various other local government controllers to coordinate any efforts with respect to related areas -I will meet personally with other local government controllers (Allentown, Lehigh County, Northampton County, etc.) to coordinate any efforts (i.e. the casino host fees and revenue collection/calculation).
- Determine city collection, reporting, budgeting, projection and spending of revenue with controls.
Update: The Morning Call's story is here.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
I can give you one reason. John, unlike few others, has been on the front lines as a county prosecutor for four terms. I may have my differences with John's stance on a few issues, but he's still the best District Attorney that Northampton County has ever seen. He has the state party endorsement, but that's worth very little.
To defeat incumbent Tom Corbett, John needs money. His most recent finance report reveals a $389 thousand warchest, which is competitive with Corbett's half million dollars. But Morganelli will need ten times that amount if he hopes to become the state's first Democratic Attorney General.
If elected, Morganelli would also be the state's first state prosecutor from the Lehigh Valley.
"Are you OK?"
"Of course, I'm OK. I'm a highly conditioned, well-trained athlete."
But it took me an hour to stand on MLK Day, so I decided to seek medical attention ftom my doctors in Bangor. I started out early enough, but it still took me another hour to get into my jeep. And have you ever tried driving stick shift with back spasms? No picnic. When I could do so safely, I blew off a few red lights, pissing off just about everyone in the slate belt, and they're all packin'.
When forced to stop, my jeep kept stalling as I'd try to put it back in gear. The last time, I was in the middle of a frickin' intersection, about a mile from the doctor's office. Not to worry. I have roadside insurance. But guess what? My damn insurance company was unable to find a tow truck. I dutifully called non emergency Bangor PD, explained the situation, and said I needed to get to the doctor. They told me not to worry my pretty little head. So I abandoned my trusty red jeep, and hobbled through 15 degree weather for the last mile, making it in about an hour.
After the usual three hour wait in the doctor's office, I was finally treated. Here's what I was told.
"You know why you pulled you back?"
"Because some little basard knocked me on my ass?"
"No! Because you're too damn fat!"
And so on. This Jenny Craig disciple let me have it because he's a stick. Fat or not, I could still knock him on his ass with just one good fart.
"You only come to see me when you have a problem."
Does he think I'm his boyfriend?
After getting lectured by a bunch of skinny people, the fat nurses came out and hooked up all these wires along my lower back and ass. Then they started electrocuting me. They twisted this goofy knob and then started asking questions.
Slight twist. "Do you feel that?"
Big twist of the knob. Smoke comes out my ass. How 'bout that?"
"Haaaachheeemama! Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Geez, what is this, Guantanamo Bay? I'm pretty sure there was also an 80' antenna coming out of my ass. Throughout this therapy, I continued having back spasms. But the nurses were having a hoot! While jolts of electricity were shooting up my ass, with smoke everywhere, some police dispatcher called on my cell to tell me I was in big trouble for not having moved my jeep yet. All she could hear on the other end were shrieks of agony.
The torture mercifully over, some dude in a white labcoat gave me prescriptions for anti-inflammatories, Valium, Placebo, blood tests and yelled at me some more. I hobbled back to my jeep (another hour) and was soon joined by one of Bangor's finest. He looked like the Terminator with his shades and closely cropped hair. But he refused to put me out of my misery.
"If you guys shot a pit bull this summer, you could shoot me! I'm a lot nastier! I don't even have rabies shots."
"You're not getting off that easy, O'Hare. Why is smoke coming out of your ass?" I think he was tempted.
So I stood by my jeep (my back hurt too much to try and get in) and waited another hour for the tow truck to come. In the meantime, Arnold sat in his cruiser with all his lights whirling around. If any of you are interested, frostbite's nothing compared to electrodes in your ass. Only a few fingertips have fallen off as I type this little epistle.
Jeepless, I conned a friend to take me to the drugstore to get my much needed medicine. (Getting in her car was another exercise in masochism - back spasms and a sore ass). After an hour wait, I was called to the counter and told my insurance company had changed all my numbers around the first of the year again - how thoughtful of them! - so that my drugs would now cost me $34,678.92. Fortunately, my health insurance company faxed the right numbers right away. Another hour. The new bill? $34,677.92.
Well, I just popped a few of those pills. Worth every penny! My back still hurts like hell, but now at least I don't give a shit. By Wednesday or Thursday, I'll be back with more about our homeless, those wacky kids in Easton, and my secret crush on Bossman Long.
Right now, Im trying to remember where my car was towed.
Monday, January 21, 2008
So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.Has anything really changed?
Update: Barack Obama, polled to win big in New Hampshire, was instead narrowly defeated by Hillary Clinton. New Hapshire, incidentally, is the last state in the country to recognize Martin Luther King Day as a holiday.
Friday, January 18, 2008
In 2006, 8% of the County's residents - over 23,000 people -were living in poverty!
I'll present more of her findings next time.
Ron Angle finally ended his boycott of the Northampton County Council dais last night, ascending into the stratosphere with seven other council members. But he was still the sole vote against a lever look-a-like endorsed by seven council members.
Sequoia Voting Systems, in the elections business for over 100 years, won over the elections commission, council and even me. Its product, technically called the Advantage D-10, already serves most of New Jersey, Louisiana and Montgomery County. A disabled elections commission member reports it is extremely user friendly, with buttons located within easy reach. The system does mimic the lever machine, presenting a full face ballot to the voter. Each machine is independently operated and is run on firmware.Update: The Morning Calls' Joe Nixon has a detailed account, including a video demonstration, located here. Sarah Cassi's equally detailed report, published in The Express Times, is located here. Wayne Grube absence is noted in both stories, and I hope the lousy weather had more to do with that than his health.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Update: The Express Times' Sarah Cassi has the details here. Commission chair Ken Kraft notes that the Sequoia system offers protections against hacking because the machines are not linked.
Update #2: The Express Times' story I mention in my first update was not actually written by Sarah Cassi. It was Mike Fleck.
Update #3: OK, OK. It's Kurt Bresswein who penned that tale.
That's one anonymous comment to yesterday's post about five different voting systems being considered by Northampton County. You'll notice no vendor is recommended. This person just wants someone to blame if things go wrong.
"I'm not selecting the voting machine."
That's how one Northampton County Council member responded when I mentioned different voting machine possibilities yesterday. Like that anonymous commenter, this council member is more interested in ducking responsibility. "The elections commission will decide."