Thursday, March 26, 2009

Michael Donovan: I Am Not a Monster

Over the past few days, I've been highly critical of Allentown City "Councilor" Michael Donovan. Queen City Daily started this mess when it reported that Allentown citizen Lou Hershman was barred from speaking at all during a recent Allentown City Council meeting. You see, Lou is a city council candidate. President Mike D'Amore invoked a gag rule obviously designed to protect incumbents, effectively gagging Hershman.

Now this incumbent protection policy is completely contrary to Allentown's Home Rule Charter, which plainly provides that "Council must provide reasonable opportunity for interested citizens and taxpayers to address the Council on matters of general or special concern." It's also a blatant violation of The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, which specifically states that residents and taxpayers must be given a reasonable opportunity "to comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before the board or council prior to taking official action."

After the meeting was over, the city solicitor who advised D'Amore prior to the meeting admitted she may have blown the call, at least according to Council member Tony Phillips. It happens. Only Coiuncil member Michael Donovan has tried to defend the indefensible, even going so far as to ramble on about ethical subjectivism v. ethical relativism v. consequentialism v. deontological ethics. The one thing he failed to do was to read the damn law.

Because Donovan has always maintained he stands for "inclusion" and transparent government, I've been highly critical. Last night, he labels my arguments "idiotic" and petulantly complains that now he's getting "a coronation by the great Mr. O'Hare." He also insists there's apparently nothing wrong with ignoring the plain terms of both Home Rule Charter and Sunshine Act. Here's his defense, which speaks for itself.

"I stand by my opinion. I really do not care whether Mr. O'Hare has lost respect for me, and quite frankly, something seems fishy when the state legislature will force a law on municipalities and not on itself. Doesn't that seem strange? Certainly, not in the tradition of the New England town meeting, is it?

"From what I understand, it is not the first time laws are forced on municipalities and not on the legislature.

"Also, I have good, consistent reasons for saying candidates, all candidates, should not speak on anything except what specifically is on the agenda. Some people may not agree, but so be it. My reasoning is my own. I can say that because when I was told that I could not speak during my candidacy, I thought that was a reasonable rule and accepted it. I did not change because of 'political pressure.'

"And, this evening at the Budget and Finance Committee, we had an agenda item on strategy for the committee to consider. Mr. Hershman spoke (I am chair). I had no qualms about him speaking because it was an agenda item. I would have allowed any candidate to speak. Mr. Hershman offered a very good idea that Mr. D'Amore, Mr. Phillips, and myself thought should be pursued.

"AND, I did not allow him speak because Mr. O'Hare lost respect for me. It was an agenda item on which to speak.

"FINALLY, I really don't care if people think that somehow I am a monster in disguise. I know who I am, what I stand for, and how I reason out difficult issues.

"If people do not want to vote for me next time, that is their choice. I still will do the best possible job for as many people as possible, while still in office. I especially focus on what is best for the people of Allentown, not those beyond the borders of Allentown, unless they own property here.

"Best regards, and shoot away, folks, especially you, Bernie. I enjoy it."


In that case, Mr. Inclusion is going to be having lots of fun.

17 comments:

IRONPIGPEN said...

Democrats are proving themselves to be clowns by supporting Obama's Marxist policies

Anonymous said...

Good to see O'hare admits he is the monster everyone is fighting.

Bernie "The Hatchet" O'Hare strikes again.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
At least he kept his response relatively concise. Consider yourself lucky.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

The council rule - and the Councilor - make the mistaken assumption that the only productive comment that a candidate could make is on an item that council already has on its plate. That is incredibly arrogant and self-serving.

Of course, all this assumes that council members would actually listen to those speaking, and refrain from the side conversations that many of them engage in during courtesy-of-the-floor.

I've been to my share of council meetings and have heard good points made on non-agenda items during the courtesy of the floor session. Many of those points or ideas came from people who later ran for council.

Why would council assume that someone's (potentially good) non-agenda comment wouldn't be worthwhile simply because that person filed to run for office?
Believe me, in Allentown we need all the good ideas we can get!


I am happy that the issue has exposed "Councilor" Donovan as an elitist and phony. I'm glad that you are now able to see him for who he is.

I also believe the "Councilor" thinks that election results - and future election results - will somehow validate his beliefs. He doesn't realize that with his Democrat party affiliation, a cocker-spaniel could win as well.

A cocker-spaniel, however, would probably talk less, be more concise, and understand that Council barring candidates from speaking is wrong.

Anonymous said...

The more I read about this 'scandal' the more I see it as a non-scandal. If Hershman is a former councilor, he knows the rules. Does he need to speak at every meeting during the courtesy of the floor session? Can he not suggest an agenda item. What did he want to talk about? (I'm sure that has popped up somewhere) Was it really coming from LH the citizen or LH the candidate? Maybe this nefarious rule has only come into play a handful of times because campaigning candidates have only tried to take the floor on non agenda items a handful of times.
I imagine the rule, good or bad, was established to prevent candidates from using council meeting time to promote their campaign. Fair enough.

I'm not able to make it to most CC meetings but I am a frequent emailer to concilors and commissioners alike. I always receive personal responses from Donovan, sometimes from Schweyer and D'amore. Bill Leiner and Percy Dougherty are the two commissioners that always write back. I applaud Donovan for explaining his process, whether or not I always agree. I think you could do a better job attacking the politics (a good thing) without attacking the people (a petty thing).

Anonymous said...

"New England" Here's Mr. Donovan's problem. He's lost.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I think you could do a better job attacking the politics (a good thing) without attacking the people (a petty thing)."

I regard any attempt to curtail public participation as a serious threat to out democracy. The rule, we have learned from Dennis Pearson, was adopted during the Daddona administration. It has since been unevenly applied. I believe it was adopted to protect incumbents. Regardless of the motive, it is a blatant violation of both HRC and Sunshine Act.

Donovan has not been attacked personally. I have not said he is ugly or that he steals or cheats on his wife. I have attacked his ridiculous arguments and an ostentatious attitude. Yes, he explains his process, and that's a valid point in his defense. But it is not very comforting to rerad them. It's actually a little scary to read an elected official explain that he is going to ignore the law.

One other point. Nobody around here refers to a city council member as councilor.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:11 wrote:

"Was it really coming from LH the citizen or LH the candidate?"

That's precisely the point! There is NO difference between LH the citizen or LH the candidate (or any other candidate).

Council cannot take away the right to speak from any CITIZEN, candidates included.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

I asked "Mr. Inclusion" the following question (2 times)on his blog: "Is it acceptable that most (if not all) of the committee members are contributors to the mayor's campaign, and none are Republicans?" No response. Maybe he should change the name of his blog to "Exclusion". At least it would be honest.

Anonymous said...

Once O'Hare stakes out a position, forget a discussion. Logic, reason and facts are thrown out the window and the O'Hateamatic starts to just continue to twist and turn every word and argument.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Really?

1) I attach my name to what I write. You launch a personal attack but don't have the courage to ID yourself.

2) Nobody, not even Donovan, has questioned me on the facts. I think my rendition of what occurred is factually accurate.

3) The HRC and Sunshine Act have no exception for "candidates." So my argument has been logical. The illogic has come from those who either disdain Hershmna or are trying to impose their own version of law.

4) I do not trust a municipal body that refuses to follow its own HRC or the Pa. Sunshine Act. it therefore necessarily follows that I do not trust that body to actually buy firetrucks with the money it is borrowing.

5) I actually took Donovan's defense, posted as a comment, and posted it as a blog. I've been fair to him. He never does explain how this is consistent with either Sunshine Act or HRC.

Anonymous said...

sounds like you all are complaining that Donovan needs elocution lessons. classism!

Anonymous said...

You know Bernie he "understands" the exact "unique" ethnic tone of voice, African Americans have. He also knows anti-Semetic ageist people who happen to mention that many, many older Pa residents love to retire in the South.

The Devine O'Hare who can't see the obvious and open anti-semetism and ageism of Ron Angle attacks a woman who dared disagree with O'Hare.

O'Hare is a vicious little man who also attacked some guy thinking of running for Northampton County office, with unforunded rumors trying to destroy him. That is the O'Hare way he projects his own bias and crazy mojo on those that donot pretend to respect and like him. Actually a sad little man.

An Exorcist said...

Bernie,

You are starting to scare me. Please don't tell me you went to the dark side. You are quoting Nietzsche, now. I hope you are not promoting an Übermensch. He ended up in the wacky ward.

If the seminary didn't work out for and I ran for office, would you be my campaign manager?

Peace, ~~Alex

Bernie O'Hare said...

Alex, I'd love to manage a campaign and think I'm absolutely brilliant. But for some reason, people run from me like the plague. Seems like whenever I get involved in a political campaign, bad things happen to the candidate. I am the kiss of death.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"O'Hare is a vicious little man who also attacked some guy thinking of running"

Little? Why thank you. I have been weorking out.

Anonymous said...

Good, keep pitching for Stoffa!