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.