Friday, March 20, 2009

A Few Words From John Stoffa

In a wide-ranging conversation with reporters this afternoon, Northampton County Exec John Stoffa announced his refusal to shake down county workers or vendors to fund his primary campaign against Ann McHale. "I am accepting no money from anyone."

Condemning the pay to play politics so rampant everywhere else, Stoffa noted he could easily raise a large sum of money. "I could have said to my cabinet, 'I want $1,000 from everyone of you.' I could have said to the lawyers, 'I want $750 or $500.' Do you think they would have said no? I'm not doing any of that and it feels great."  

The reason for his refusal?  "I wanted to bring integrity back to government and want to bring it back for another four years." He feels that a politician who accepts large sums of money is indebted. "Whether you want to or not, you are beholden to them in some way."

Stoffa will do a few fliers and signs, but will this be enough?

"I have a lot of respect for voters. The people who vote in a primary are educated, sophisticated voters."

What if he loses?

"In politics, one of two things happens. You either win or you lose. If I win, everything will be great. If I lose, everything will be lousy for about six weeks and then I'll go back to building 500 birdhouses. I've built 26 so far."

How does he compare himself to Lehigh County Exec Don Cunningham or Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski?

"I'm a different kind of politician. I love Don, but when we get there I have to spend five minutes to think about what the hell I'm going to say. That's my style. Don has prepared speeches, double-spaced, too. I've never given a power point presentation. I wouldn't know how the hell to do it."

What is really prompting his run for a second term?

We need to do something about the prison. "We waste lives in that jail. I think it's abominable that we have four people in one cell."

I'll have more about Stoffa's different brand of politics next week, but wanted to share this breath of fresh air now. Spring is in the air.


Anonymous said...

The only words I want to hear from John Stoffa: "I'm retiring."

Bernie O'Hare said...

You'll have to wait four years.

Anonymous said...

is that his platform? he took money from contributers last time he ran what changed?

lighthouse said...

I make no commentary here on Stoffa vs. McHale.

What I will comment on is that while I can relate to the principle he wants convey through you of not being beholden to anyone, it reads to me that he doesn't really want the job, and is content to go down on some moral high ground. He ran and won before, so he is not (or should not be) naive. Just from the Council Expense reports you have linked on this site, McClure spent over $24,000 during the Post-30 day reporting period (of which close to $10,000 was self-debt). This against a man who I believe spent less than $500. And McClure barely won. Yes, this proves money does not in itself buy elections, but for a County wide seat? Stoffa, having been there done that, really thinks he doesn't have to raise or spend any money?? "A few fliers and signs"?!?

Also, such a black and white outlook on the world? Who says that if you accept campaign contributions that you are engaging in "pay to play". Would the scenario you describe of hitting up those employed by, or doing business with, the County be ethically wrong. Yes! (but, if those people of their own volition thought him the best, and contributed, is that wrong??). "I am accepting no money from anyone"? There is Black and White, but don't forget about Gray. Unless he hit the lottery, I have to wonder about his judgement. Awefully, noble, but misplaced "respect for voters" in my opinion.

Also, if he is only running to make convicts more comfortable, I again, have to question his judgement. If one has such "respect for voters", he probably would know that issue is not A#1 on any voters' list of concerns.

dick nepon said...

As I am running a similar cashless campaign, I can sympathize with John. Politics is not set up to be won by people who care deeply and offer to serve. Entry to just the various group's dinners, alone, could break the bank.

But it is important to try.

I sense that many people are tired of Chicago style politics, and ugly personal attacks. People no longer trust 'big money' to have their interests at heart.

I hope that all those who registered and voted in the Presidential elections will choose to continue on the path toward becoming a super voter. Then maybe we can get back to issue based campaigning, where the press actually tries to get the messages out, instead of hoping for mass cash infusions from candidates.

Too much to drink tonight said...

Dick, I hate to break it to you, but the voters in fantasyland can't vote in the primary.
Stoffa is probably going to lose, no matter how much cheerleading O'hare does for him.
C'mon, O'Hare waving pom poms? you find that attractive? I find it horrifying. Stoffa IS TOAST.
Wishing it aint so won't make it happen.
Four more years, Bernie? I think 9 more months is more like it.
It's Ann Mchale's baby, and there's no navy that can sink that ship.

lighthouse said...

I suspect he feels since the party machinery is behind McHale, he has no chance at campaign contributions. But, he still can run a campaign by-passing the "party machine." But it still takes at least SOME money to get your message to the voters. Yes, there are some of us who are sick of the partisan NORCO politics, but not everyone reads this blog, and contrary to his "primary (voters) are educated, sophisticated voters" statement, they tend to be the MOST partisan voters. Just ask Arlen Specter. Also he can't think being a sitting Executive he can say "I'm the outsider, vote for me", like before. He may feel like an "outsider on the inside", but Joe Schmoe voter sees him on the inside only.

Final comment tonight, I can not think off the top of my head of any leader who was a true outsider who was actually an effective leader. I can think of a few who were moral, principaled "outsiders", but not effective. Even with a clean heart and soul, you still need a little dirt on your hands to actually get any work done.
Good night.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa didn't say he isn't going to spend money.

"A few fliers" - each mailing to 8 or 9 thousand primary voters costs close to 10 grand.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"is that his platform? he took money from contributers last time he ran what changed?"

He took contributions but was very selective about it bc, if truth be told, he is more strongly opposed to P2P than I. As he explained it, it cost him a new car. Money that would have went to purchase a new car instead went to his campaign. His campaign is $14k in debt bc he financed much of it in his last race. Nothing has really changed.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Stoffa would rather run an ethical campaign, and lose, than be part of the P2P that is staining our political system.

Think about it. Some much corruption pervades our system we no longer even notice it. Fumo was just convicted of how many counts? Veon is under indictment. From what I read, DeWeese will soon be under indictment. Pawlowski treats city workers and vendors like cash cows, taking unseemly amounts of money, even during off election years. At the same time, people are struggling to stay in their homes.

I find it refreshing that one of our local leaders can afford to say NO and has the courage to do so.

I will have more about Stoffa's platform later. He did share some things today. I know that taking care of inmates is not high on everyone's mind, but I would be lying if I told you this is unimportant to Stoffa. First, he cares very much about people, even those who have made mistakes and are paying a price. Second, we really should not be condemning 4 people to one cell, having three watch as the 4th takes a shit. It is inhuman. Third, if we can do something to reduce the recidivism, we will take a big chunk out of county costs. Cunningham and Stoffa will both tell you that 66 cents out of every tax dollar goes to the cost of prosecuting and jailing criminal defendants. Programs to minimize that will end up sdaving people like you more money that just about anything a county official can do. Stoffa's concern for prisoners is actually something that translates into reduced costs in the long run, if it is done right. Our recidivism rate is somewhere around 64% (I don't have it exact). The programs that reduce that recidivism will end up saving you money.

Does it still sound so stupid? Stoffa is interesterd in doing what is right for our prisoners, but the real beneficiaries are the taxpayers.

"Final comment tonight, I can not think off the top of my head of any leader who was a true outsider who was actually an effective leader."

Actually, I can. It depends on what you mean by outsider. George Washington was a Virgina insider, but was very much an outsider to the members of the Continental Congress and later, as president. Lincoln, although he knew politics better than anyone, was very much an outsider.

Actually, I consider Stoffa's decision a stroke of political genious. People are fed up by the influence of money in politics, especially now that the economy is sour. That message will resonate. As the uncumbent, Stoffa is already a household name. McHale is not. Incumbent county execs do not lose unless they raise taxes or are involved in scandal. If McHale thinks the Joer Long Dems will get her elected, she is out of her mind. She knows, as we all know, that our local parties tend to be cash poor and disorganized. Her best bet would be to withdraw from a race she can never win.

Stoffa is by no means perfect. He'll tell you himself he made mistakes in his first term. He also gave voters a reason to return him by continuing to improve the quality of county services. The best kept secret in the LV is our county government. Stoffa has built no pyramids like our former Pharoahs, but he's been busy serving the taxpayers. If disaster strikes Easton's college hill, theree is now a reverse 911 that can issue warnings. That is set up for the entire county. He's done lots of little things like that to help us.

See All Evil said...

but don't forget about Gray.
The Grays have it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, We'll see who gets that engineering contract. John will debt himself and then get elected and then make everyone cough up the dough. That's why that engineering contract is written the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa loves to be praised, always has. He is also one of the most shrewd politicans out there. He knows the Press lapdogs love that Lincoln man of the people shtick and plays it well. He brings you all in to tell you how wonderfully humble he is, that is really good.
He sent out three negativbe mailers on Reibman and two on Nyce. he had his campign hitmen threaten Nyce over some info.
This race he knows lapdogs like you and the papers will campaign for him and tear into McHale. Also mailers will be sent but not by John. When they come out he will say, "Shucks, i didn't authorize those mean old mailers".
Ols John is a sly one and he is trying to get McHale to drop her guard.
Remember Ann, he promised in writing to work with Council, he put it in a mailer. He failed worst than any other Executive.
In four years he has not put out one responsible Prison plan.
He failed, His campaign stradegy will play to the Press and boneheads like you but hopefully McHale hits him on all hois broken promises and wasted opportunities.
We have a massive deficit in Human Services and we haven't even had any State level cuts yet. You guys just drink the crap he gives you but if she does some research the proof is out there.
Old John, he is one devious devil.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yawn. This race is over. Bray away.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, has/will AnnJoeLongMcHale hit the speed dial for Scissorhands? Can you provide your latest on dirtbags using the dirtbag?

Anonymous said...

The Call said that he isn't making the pledge in the General..Wish him luck but that doesn't make any sense..The serious race is in the primary..Honestly he could leave the area after the primary( if he wins) and come back in Novemeber and still win..The Republican is no threat at all..

Anonymous said...

as for me i could careless if a rapist, child molester etc... has to share a toliet with 3 other people. prison isn't supposed to be a day in the park. if you can't do the time then don't do the crime. i have no sympathy for them. there are far more important issues to concern ourselves with,prisoners don't even vote.besides he had 4 years to do something about the prison problem. what is it stoffa has actually accomplished? talk to people around the lehigh valley, they'll tell you they don't know what he's accomplished either.he may have great attributes but he's not a good county executive.

Anonymous said...

"he took money from contributers last time he ran what changed?"

He probably saw the results from McHale's poll.

"i could careless" ..."there are far more important issues to concern ourselves with"

and when some ex-con with MRSA wins a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the County, you'll change your tune.

Anonymous said...

When Stoffa's record of shame is made known, he will wish he had raised some money.

Anonymous said...

Am I getting this right John is saying his ethics are so fragile that if someone offered him money he would feel a overwhelming sense of need to award the donor a contract...
He sounds like an alcoholic saying he has beaten his alcoholism because he has locked himself in a room away from any temptation.
Character is not based on avoidance but rather facing situation and overcoming them.
This simply looks like a campaign stunt being perpetrated by a candidate who has little support.
Obama showed the people supported him by setting records in fundraising. Is he a pay to play guy too. Is John the only honest guy? I doubt it!!!

Anonymous said...

People you are so silly. O'Hare is just a wackjob with a mancrush on Stoffa, I can almost forgive him, he's in love. The Press has always loved Stoffa's faux Common man approach. He totally screwed up Lehigh Countys Human Services, losing State Certification, kids dying, etc., but the Press said nothing.
Read the Express, Stoffa said he would accept "in-kind help", any pol knows that can mean as much as money in your pocket.
In his last outing the Republicans not only contributed directly to get rid of Reibman but helped in the fall over their Civil War with Nyce/Severnson. Some group may even send out a mailer just to inform us about Ms. McHale and Stoffa but he won't, what a crock.
Mark my words, if Stoffa loses in the Democratic Primary by some Immaculation Conception the Republican nominee will withdraw and Mr. Stoffa will become the Republican nominee for County Executive. Win or lose in the Spring he will be on the ballot in the fall. It is the word on the street and it is a pretty sound word stated by some reliable sources.
The entire used car nonsense is so silly it is amazing the paper even writes that tripe.
I and many others donot want to twist someones arm to represent me. The County would do quite well if this incompetent goof lost both elections. In the past four years, if you were napping, don't worry nothing happened, oh yea, but your County taxes did go up.

Anonymous said...

"If you can't drink their booze, take their money, sleep with their women and then vote against 'em, you don't belong in this business."
Sam Rayburn
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives for seventeen years, and is regarded by historians as the most effective Speaker in history.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa is the worst County Executive in history. He will be exposed as thus shortly !

Anonymous said...

then clean the prison up .soap water, n some bleach no more mrsa. not the first lawsuit won by some one against the county.silly reason to cast a vote for stoffa

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Stoffa will become the Republican nominee for County Executive. Win or lose in the Spring he will be on the ballot in the fall. It is the word on the street and it is a pretty sound word stated by some reliable sources."

Dream on, wingnut,

Anonymous said...

sounds like you have crystal ball. time will tell.

Anonymous said...

It is already in the bag. Why do you think he is so casual about this primary election election. Either way he will be there in the Fall.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bingo! The Long Dems don't understand just how fed up people are with the usual politics, which consists of P2P and those anonymous smears. They will learn a hard lesson ... again. And in the meantime, Stoffa will concentrate on representing taxpayers, not aspecial interest groups. He won't be perfect. I won't agree with him on every issue. But he'll be honest, fair, open and accountable. The rest is bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit insulted by your logic. Let us accept that your candidate Stoffa is an honest man for this discussion. You have cast a light of doubt on every other elected official in the region in an attempt to build respect for Stoffa. Are we to now believe that Freeman and Samuelson are P2P reps because they have accepted contributions from donors and the HDCC. How about Dally who has the largest war chest of any regional state Rep is he a P2P? How about Dent the most prolific fundraiser in the Lehigh Valley is he a Joe Long P2P?
Moreover this logic casts a dim light on someone like Panella who has collected serious money, will he be a P2P???
The truth is accepting campaign contributions is a part of the system until we have public campaign financing this will continue.
The officials mentioned above are no less moral, ethical or honest than Stoffa.
This seems to be a silly measure of honesty.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me clear up things. i am opposed to ALL P2P, no matter where it goes. Candidates should not have to waste their time fundraising, espectially from the people who will work or do business with them. It is an invitation to corruption.

Look at waht happened to Fuo. Look at the Veon indictment and the likely DeWeese indictment. Look at 2 Luzerne County judges behind bars and a prothonotary who will be joining them. In Northampton County, look at two operatives who went to Club Fed. In Philly, look at all the corruption indictments and jail sentences.

It is so frequent we no longer notice it. Someting HAS to be done about how we collect our money.

lighthouse said...

I think Anon. 10:26 put it well. While I appreciate the passionate principle of your stance, Bernie, I think you are too Black and White on this your eyes candidates seem to be either all dirty P2P, or are purely self-funded candidates. Self-funded does not make one inherently more moral in governance. Neither does accepting contributions make one inherently a corrupt P2P. Think about the real world ramifications of this view. Basically you are saying only those who are rich (or go into self-debt) are "honorable" and "pure" enough to run. That leaves out an aweful lot of competent people who could (and DO) bring integrity to our government.

lighthouse said...

Looking at the campaign expense reports posted on this site, I see that even Ron "the Bulldog" Angle has accepted campaign contributions, even though I assume that at least some of the carried over monies were self-funded (but clearly not all, since there was a $500 refund to Lou Pektor). You clearly hold him in high regard, based on this blog's past. I can not imagine you think Angle is P2P, let alone the others mentioned by Anon 10:26 like Freeman, Dally, Panella, and Samuelson. Do you?

Its a sunny day, so I am off to enjoy God's earth, but it goes back to my earlier comment. There is black and white, but many shades of gray in between.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lighthouse, I do not let one issue dictate my decisions about whom I support. But I feel strongly that P2P is the root cause of many of the problems in government. Even if I support a candidate, I oppose P2P. I believe our whole system is crying out for reform and I do tend to view this as more black and white than most other issues. But your persepective is, as always, appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Name one elected Northampton County official who went to prison. Name one cabinet member from Northampton County that went to prison.
Your mancrush bias for Stoffa is admirable, sick, but admirable.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Two people involved in Northampton County contracting went to jail under Reibman. One of them is a political consultant who worked for Reibman and Dertinger. The other was an insurance agent.

We are in a culture of corruption that is so prevalaent it is not even noticed.

Anonymous said...

Hey O'Hater that political consultant worked for Reibman, Dertinger, Cunningham, Brennan, Rooney, Callahan, Boscola etc.

I donot believe he was working for the County when charged with the crime of income tax evasion.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No one claimed he was a county employee at the time he was charged, although he did briefly work for the county. And it was not just income tax evasion. It was illegal P2P. But if you want to minimize this crime, be my guest. I prefer a government with reforms that prevent this from recurring. That's why Stoffa's message is a breath of fresh air to those of us interested in good government.

DemoThug said...

How about another scenario for you poli-detectives...

What if McHale's poll shows Stoffa with a commanding lead? For the sake of argument, let's say 10 points. Then what?

In order to win, Ann would have to do a massive publicity job - robocalls, 2 mailers a week, a phone bank, television and radio advertising.

That would run her roughly 150-200K - those consultant's fees really add up - especially when one goes to air and screen.

Since there are no size limits on contributions for county races, Ann will be looking for angels - folks ready to plop down 10K or more for her campaign.

Or she could second-mortgage her home.

I think Ann knows that too many angels appearing on her campaign report will set off an attack from the Stoffa camp - reminding voters of whom she is truly "allegient" to. My point is, it will be almost impossible for Ann to raise that kind of money in the slightly less than 8 weeks remaining before the May 19th primary.

$150 an hour for 24 hours a day - 7 days a week - $3600 a day - everyday.

In this economic climate, I doubt she'd second-mortgage her home. It's not like this job pays $100K a year (although it should).

In the confines of such a scenario, how do you think Ms McHale should run her campaign?

Anonymous said...

The latest poll does not show Stoffa with a commanding lead or any lead at all. They are fairly even Countywide with a slight advatage to McHale. In the Bethlehem area where 0ver 30% of the super Dem's live her numbers are far ahead of Stoffa.
It is her race to lose. Last time Stoffa won with the help of employee fear and anger. His actions and that of his HR Director lost him that edge. If McHale is slimed, runs a crap campaign, stays cold and imperious or lets the old Bethlehem crowd run her campaign she could lose. Frankly, I think Heckman would have given him a better run for his money but he decided not to run.

It is her race to lose. But Stoffa like the night walker he is, will return as the Republican candidate. The deal is already done.
By the way O'Hater, check the facts on why Mr. S went to prison, once again you are wrong. Nothing new there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I iknow exactly why Solomon went to prison and so do you. He was soaking county vendors.

McHale's race to lose? If she acts cold and imperious she could lose? How the hell do you think she'll act? Do you think she'll be floating around the county in an umbrella like Mary Poppins? No, McHale is too damn regal to even ask people to vote for her. Of all the candidates, the Long Dems have picked a real doozy. They picked someone more comfortable sipping martinis at the country club than actually talking to ... ugh ... people. And if there's any dount, Stoffa just has to mention that McHale voted to raise county taxes 64% over 2 years.

Do you think the taxpayers give a shit that the HR Director is a big ol' meanie? They could care less about that.

They will know Stoffa. They won't know McHale. They will know Stoffa has not raised taxes except for thew one tax - open space - he promised when he ran for exec the first time. They will know there have been no scandals under Stoffa. They will know that Stoffa is a decent man. This race is over.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

according to this analasis we don't need to to vote, the fix is in stoffa already won.

Anonymous said...

He also walks on water just ask Boonie

Anonymous said...

DemoThug posted three exact duplicate posts. Isn't that officially spam.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No. It was so good I asked him to do it again and agin. I'll delete the duplicates. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with all of you. This race is all about Joe Long and his ability to run the party. I'm sure he's the one who had Charles Dertinger and Lamont McClure convince Ann to run.

It will be interesting to watch. From my vantage point (far away from Northampton County)there is only one issue worth debating; whoever winds up as Exec is going to have 4 years of hell - falling home values = significantly lower tax revenue. High unemployment = rapidly increasing and uncontrollable Human Services costs. Inflationary pressure will come to bear in the form of higher wage demands from unions. It is not going to be pretty when the tax increases come - and they WILL come.

Stoffa said he wants to finish what he started. That's fair. Ann will propose a new direction for the county - even though almost 60% of supervoters think the county is already moving in the right direction. Tough row to hoe.

I suggest you ask the candidates to be realistic and tell you how they plan to handle the train wreck the County is facing. That will tell you far more about who the new CE should be than anything else.

If Stoffa wins, Joe Long is finished - he will not be re-elected party chair in 2010.I'll say - watch for what Long puts out close to election day - especially if the polls are running the way I think they will. Joe Long's desperation, if it comes to that, will produce absolute slime during this cycle.

Or not. Maybe Joe is willing to step back and view this primary as a referendum on his leadership. If Ann is victorious, so be it. Joe will be party chair for life - and Northampton will head back to the dark ages.

If Stoffa wins, there will be a reorganization and revitalization of the county party. Maybe then you can toss out the ineffective incumbents, support the effective leaders for state and other local races - and fix your way out of the 30 years of bumpy road that started back with the Gipper.

Anonymous said...

"And it was not just income tax evasion. It was illegal P2P"

actually, it was mail/wire fraud related to "theft of honest services." completely unrelated to P2P.

Anonymous said...

Thanks anonn6:56. The facts never slow doen an O'Hater rant.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It clearly is related to P2P. A county vendor/campaign contributor was being soaked. Don't know how much more clear it can get, whether it is mail fraud or bribery.