Thursday, November 19, 2009

DA John Morganelli to Angle - Payback's a Bitch, Ron

Just a few weeks ago, Northampton County DA John Morganelli was crying to County Council he's broke. He's so cash-strapped, he actually turns down 75% of extradition requests from other states. "We can't afford to go get them." With an expanding caseload and rising expert witness fees, he's had to put off empaneling a new grand jury and getting a new DA car.

Amazingly, this cash-strapped and over-worked DA nevertheless intends to pervert the public will, pursuing quo warranto proceedings against Northampton County Council member Ron Angle. Although Ron was elected November 3rd to the Bangor School Board by people who know he sits on County Council, Morganelli is going to push Angle off County Council, or so he thinks. His two-page letter to Angle is below.


Here's what he's really saying. "Payback's a bitch, Ron. You made me look bad, so now I'm going to remove you from office, something we could never do in an election." Now to make things look good and give himself some political cover, he's sent a similar letter to a Wilson Borough Council member elected to Wilson's School Board. But don't kid yourself. His target is Angle.

Morganelli bases his supposed opinion on provisions of a School Code enacted before there even was a Home Rule Charter, as well as a provision in the Home Rule Charter that the state supremes have declared unconstitutional. Let me repeat. Angle is Morganelli's real target. His threat is a nothing more than a thinly disguised, political hit job.

Morganelli's past practice

In 1999, when Ron Angle was first elected to County Council, he was a Bangor School Board member. Council Democrats sought Angle's ouster then, and Morganelli consented to a lawsuit filed by Council. But he refused to use the power of his office himself, choosing to stay away from a political question. Two years later, when it appeared that some members of the General Purpose Authority had been illegally appointed, Morganelli again consented to a quo warranto. But as before, he stayed out of the fight. Then in 2006, when Hellertown Borough Council President Tony Branco was appointed to County Council, Morganelli had no objection to this Democrat. In fact, the DA later made robo calls for him. Last year, when Bangor Mayor Joe Capozzolo was appointed to succeed the late Wayne Grube, Morganelli voiced no concerns.

Given his past practice, why this sudden change of heart? I believe there are three reasons, none of which has anything to do with the law.

1. Morganelli wants to prevent Angle's election as Council President.

If this matter ever goes to Court, Morganelli will lose. But Morganelli has decided to grandstand on this issue now, six weeks before Angle can even be sworn into office. At the same time he was sending this letter to Angle, he was forwarding copies to the press. He's trying his case there, where he has a better chance at success.

His goal is to influence the election of Council President. With a 7-2 Republican majority, Angle is in a very good position to be elected Council president. Morganelli, a hardened Democrat, has seen both Northampton County's bench and Council go Republican. Angle and County Executive Stoffa, whose interest is government and not partisan politics, are on the cusp of making some significant changes in the County, from a downsizing of Gracedale to a relocation of county offices to a treatment center that actually tries to prevent recidivism.

Morganelli, unlike Stoffa, is very much a political animal, and his protege is the very unpopular Lamont McClure. They are both losing their grip on political power, and need to weaken a Republican-controlled Council. Since an Angle Council Presidency is likely to succeed, they want to remove that possibility. Publicizing the DA's threat will cast doubts about Angle, making him less palatable to his fellow Republicans.

2. Nobody else will do it.

County Council, having already appointed two people who serve in other municipal governments to Council seats, has effectively taken themselves out of this game. They are in no position to raise the proscription in the Home Rule Charter, which then Solicitor Leonard Zito ruled unconstitutional. And they have no standing to raise the prohibition in the School Code.

How about Bangor School Board? On Monday night, they went into executive session over the Angle issue, and decided to waste no taxpayer dollars on what essentially amounts to a fool's errand.

That pretty much leaves Morganelli to play the fool. He's willing to take that risk because he has another reason for wanting to hurt Angle.

3. Payback's a Bitch

When political consultant Tom "Scissorhands" Severson was convicted by a jury for his bizarre and threatening behavior towards Ron Angle during a funeral mass, DA John Morganelli assumed the role of defense counsel, trying his best to downplay the reality that his friend and political consultant is now a criminal. Things got worse. Severson has been charged with deceptive campaign practices, and a statewide grand jury has extended its investigation into Morganelli puppet Lamont McClure. Morganelli has at best been asleep at the switch. At the worst, he may soon find himself under the magnifying glass.

He has one person to thank, more than any other. Ron Angle.

The Northampton County Bulldog has insisted for years that Severson is crooked. Morganelli studiously avoided these complaints until the Attorney General himself began to pay attention. The subsequent prosecution and investigation into deceptive Northampton County campaign practices is really an indictment of Morganelli, who unleashed Severson far too often.

Severson and Morganelli go back at least to 1991, when Severson ran John's campaign against then incumbent DA Don Corriere. That race, incidentally, turned nasty.

Morganelli has continued to use Severson and more importantly, has convinced others to use him as well, building up a little fiefdom in the process. These allies include former first assistant DA Paula Roscioli, who used Severson's services when she ran for judge, and won. After Scissorhands was charged in the funeral fracas, Morganelli used him in his own, unsuccessful, AG race. That support even continued after it became known that Severson was the subject of a statewide grand jury.

In his eighteen years as DA, I can't think of a single elections law prosecution. Severson had a green light to run wild, and did. Morganelli created a monster.

Morganelli refused to lift a finger when Severson began an anonymous sleaze campaign against local magisterial candidate Brian Monahan in Spring '08. He remained silent in July '08, when Severson started push polling against county councilman Ron Angle, even though that expense appears nowhere on any campaign finance report, even as an in-kind corporate contribution. When anonymous robo calls began in earnest against council candidates Angle and Peg Ferraro, Morganelli was MIA, even though campaign finance reports fail to reflect the amount of money being spent. In fact, he was working against Ferraro.

Now that Severson is being prosecuted and his political allies are under scrutiny, Morganelli has had a sudden change of heart about his personal involvement in quo warranto. You see, notwithstanding sleaze campaigns consisting of anonymous robo calls and vicious Severson-orchestrated mailers, Morganelli and company have failed to remove Angle at the polls. So now he'll attempt to replace democracy with litigation.

Why Morganelli Will Fail

No court is ever anxious to upset the will of the people. Despite the games that Severson and Morganelli play with elections, majority still rules. Judges will only negate an election result if the law is clear. And when it comes to a Home Rule Charter form of government, it's about as clear as the Delaware after three days of rain.

The Home Rule Charter proscription on which Morganelli relies has been found unconstitutional, for one thing. Morganelli himself notes that different lawyers reach different conclusions. The state supreme court has ruled that only the state legislature, and not any Home Rule Charter, can set forth the reasons for removing an elected official.

But how about that School Code prohibition? Well, that was adopted long before home rule government even existed. Counties were then appointing members to County School Boards. It applies to "county commissioners", who under the older form of government, have a mix of legislative and executive functions. They bear no similarity to the council members or commissioners in home rule governments.

When Morganelli's personal and political motivations are spelled out, and they will be, judges will take an even dimmer view of this waste of prosecutorial resources. Ironically, Morganelli himself has previously determined he is too biased to investigate or prosecute Severson. So how can he then prosecute Severson's victim, even in a civil matter?

Morganelli denies this is personal. Bullshit. I saw him the day Severson was found guilty. Instead of following the law, Morganelli is pursuing a political and personal vendetta, being urged on by McClure.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Morganelli do anything when Tony Branco was on both County Council and Hellertown Council? This is John Morganelli at hypocritical best.

Why did Morganelli make this letter public before Angle had a chance to see it. This is a cheap politically motivated shot.

Mr. Morganelli should be ashamed of himself.

He is threatening to take legal action against someone who is about to vote on a budget for the District Attorney's office. Talk about conflicts!

Anonymous said...

Morganelli's crooked.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Morganelli do anything about Severnson? Why did the State have to do all that work?

Anonymous said...

was this written on the computer that Ron bought you, Bernie? Or should I say, was it written on the tools your employer provided you?

Anonymous said...

the whole will of the people argument is thin. the will of the people is kept in check by the rule of law. we are, after all, a country of laws, some of which it appears Angle doesn't think he needs to follow.

let the court make its determination. that's how the rule of law works.

the rule of law is what makes our country so great.

Anonymous said...

You defended this crooked little Napoleon for a long time. He's bad news and needs to be challenged when he runs (yet again). Welcome back from the dark side, Bernie.

Morgy's a very poor public servant. Hell, with the Scissorhands connection, he may end up in the stir before long! It's probably why he wants prison conditions improved.

If Angle ran for ANY county-wide office against Morgy, he'd crush the bitter little loser worse than he all Morgy's previous statewide disasters - combined.

Morgy should do the right thing by taxpayers and retire to a blissful life of sleazy ambulance chasing. It seems what he was born to do. And he may actually be successful at it vs. his current swim in the Peter Principle pool.

Anonymous said...

I would have respected McClure more if he had filed the quo warranto himself. But, he had Morganelli do it for him. That's what makes this whole political mess a losing proposition. If JM had any further political ambitions, it just went down the tubes.

I also recognize that Ron Angle baited the Democrats. He loves controversy. He loves stirring the pot. And he's probably laughing his ass off, that the Democrats went down in flames.

As far as vendettas go, this one is going to be flaming for awhile. I don't see either side letting this one go. Their too stupid and/or too politically corrupt.

Anonymous said...

Ding. Dong. Joe Long is gone.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
How about a full disclosure of all money and gifts you received from Angle and all members of council, with dates and donor?

From meals, to gifts, to paying your rent?

You should disclose Bernie, all of it.

Pay to play is Ohares way!

Anonymous said...

"Angle..whose interest is government and not partisan"

Really Bernie? I think you are bought and sold my man.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:36, That reference is to Stoffa, not Angle. Ron is as political as Morganelli.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:43, Our contry is a democracy, founded on the will of the people. Judges are very reluctant to interfere with that will, and will do so in only the clearest cases.

Morganelli has a loser, knows he has a loser, and is only make this threat bc he has both a political and personal vendetta.

LVCI said...

Not that the world works the way it's supposed to, but this whole issue should be taken up outside the county away from the influence of local politics . Why wouldn't the state pursue this? Perhaps because there's more smoke then fire? It certainly would put an end to these accusations of political motivations.

Also of concern is not just the money, but the human resources being tied up when there are so many other criminal cases, etc. to be pursued that directly affect the public.

Three other elements to consider is number one.. voters made a choice. Secondly, whether you like Ron or not, he will only get one vote on the board. He can't take over the whole shebang. And thirdly there is the legal sticking point argument over whether someone who is not compensated can do legally do this.

One thing's for sure, there's no humdrum days in the NORCO political arena.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"If JM had any further political ambitions, it just went down the tubes."

I've pretty much lost my respect for the guy. In addition to being wrong on the law, the whole way he handled this sucks.

According to the ET account, he sent this letter last week. But that's not true. Look at the date on the letter. It was sent to Ron at the time he released it to the press. He did not even have enough
respect for Angle to give him a call first or send it to him privately.

This is a vendetta.

He was too conflicted to do anything about Severson. Now Severson has been brought down, thnaks to the AG, and it appears that one of Severson's biggest victims is Ron. Why isn't Morganelli conflicted now?

He is too biased to handle this. And that poor Wilson Borough Councilman was thrown into the mix to give Morganeli political cover.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVCI, Just as Morganellli had too much of a conflict to even investigate Severson for 18 years, he is for the same reason too biased to be doing this to Angle. This should be the AG's call alone. I suspect the reason Morganelli has not referred this to the AG is bc he knows the AG would never touch this loser.

God, I supported this guy. If he is willing to abuse process locally, what the hell would he have done as AG?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, should Angle now recuse himself from the County budget process?

If I understand correctly Morganelli's budget allocation is approved by Council. With Morganelli's action, the simple appearance of a conflict is pretty damn strong. And that timing is very interesting given all the discussions about the budget (Gracedale, parks, the pension cost deferral sham, etc.)

Any idea what he or other Council members might do about this?

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Did branco, sitting on county and hellertown councils, have anything to do with 2009/2010 open space grants?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not that I'm aware. He was off Council by then.

Anonymous said...

That letter to Angle was written November 18 but the Express Times article says "District Attorney John Morganelli sent hand-delivered letters last week to Northampton County Councilman Ron Angle and Wilson Borough Councilman Tony Verenna expressing his legal opinion." Which is it? I know Morganelli has been known to lie to the press but usually that is when Severson is involved. Is he at it again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Banker, Since Angle can derive no pecuniary benefit from his vote on the budget, he has no legal reason for recusing himelf. Morganelli has given Angle reason to look unfavorably on his budget request, but Angle has never opposed a single Morganelli budget request. If he does elect to recuse himself, and I don't think he should, it would only be that portion of the budget dealing w/ the DA.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:34, How can a letter dated 11/18 have been sent last week? The letter was only sent yesterday, and was delivered to council chambers in a brown envelope. Now the ET may have been mixed up about when the letter was sent, ot Morganelli may have misled them. I suspect the latter, given the date on that letter. Morganelli only sent that letter when he released it to the press.

Anonymous said...

"Anon 6:43, Our contry is a democracy, founded on the will of the people. Judges are very reluctant to interfere with that will, and will do so in only the clearest cases.

Morganelli has a loser, knows he has a loser, and is only make this threat bc he has both a political and personal vendetta."

No Bernie, you are wrong and you know it. The country is a constitutional republic whereby "We the People" have established rules by which we will allow gov't to exist. The US Constitution, State Constitution and various Home Rule Charters lay out those rules.

Now, there is an expressed concern that the election of one person to two different offices has violated the rules. Our system of rules lays out a process by which this is determined to be true or not and if certain remedies can be applied.

The Constitution of the US and PA and home rule charters are intended to protect rights and restict gov't powers. It is then that our values of freedom, equality and order are protected. Sometimes, these rules restrict Democracy, but it was the intent of our founders to ensure that the rights of citzens not be trampled by gov't or other people in the name of gov't.

This is basic constitutional law and it is really sad that somebody who has completed law school seems to have neglected this history and understanding of our constitutional republic.

Anonymous said...

but speaking to the situation, it doesn't matter what morganelli's motives are. The point is that the motion is within the scope of understanding of the rule of law. your love of angle clouds your ability to see that concern. frankly, I see his decision to run for school board and county council in the same light as I do Jennifer Mann running for state rep and auditor general. It has little to do with good gov't and is way to easy to see where abuse of power can occur. Remove the name Angle and substitute McClure or Dertinger and my guess is you would be livid.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"but speaking to the situation, it doesn't matter what morganelli's motives are."

If you truly believe in the rule of law, then Morganelli's motives certainly are an issue. No DA should be permitted to abuse the powers of his office to reward his friends or punish his enemoies.

When Severson was involved in the funeral fracas, Morganelli recused himself because of his personal relationship w/ Severson. The victim in that matter was Angle.

Morganelli also recused himself in the deceptive casmpaign practices investigation involving Angle, and one of the victims there is Ron Angle.

Now, Morganelli is using the power of his office to seek Angle's rremoval from Council.

There is an appearance of impropriety and Morganelli should step aside and let someone else decide what to do.

And believe me, no judge will be anxious to set aside the will of the people.

Anonymous said...

Agree. Voters elect judges, too.

Anonymous said...

Knowing Spaziani from the years gone by, you guys in control of the Northampton County Courts are just as fraudulent in your actions as are the pirates on the open seas. Your days are numbered though cause the people are going to rise up and straighten out and get rid of the administrative bunk you guys think is the real rule of law. Change is on the way, the investigations have begun, have fun in jail with bubba.

Anonymous said...

I read the letter you posted Bernie and it would appear the State School board Law is pretty clear. Angle cannot legally hold the position.

The Law is the Law, for him, you and me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The law is the law, for him, you, me and DA Morganelli.

Anonymous said...

Are Morganelli's motives political? I don't doubt it. But is Ron Angle breaking the law if he takes that seat? Most definitely. The PA Code is clear, no matter how much Angle wants to split hairs on "county commissioner" versus "county councilman". The law perhaps should be changed; any law that disenfranchises voters is a bad law. But the law is the law, and Angle shouldn't be allowed to flaunt it.

Anonymous said...

In all cases related to Home Rule Counties, "County Commissioner" and "County Council" are considered one in the same.

Ohare has deleted numerous comments expalining this because the truth in his world is vicious personal attacks.

In the end it is very simple," Hey Ron, ain't Karma a bitch".

In the case of Angles past, he has a lot of Karma shiting on him for a long time.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"In all cases related to Home Rule Counties, "County Commissioner" and "County Council" are considered one in the same."

That's your problem. There were no Home Rule Counties at the time the School Code was adopted. There was no home rule law. County comm'rs, under the county code, are completely different animals than county councilmen. The former have exec powers. The latter do not.

The rest of you comment is tyhe usual mindless crap, requiring no response.

Anonymous said...

State law as of "today" defines county Comissioner and County Councilman to mean the same thing in their view. While once an attorney, your opinion today means about as much as Angle's.

Whether you think the State should update or not, as of now Angle is violating the State staute. Very easy, even a law clerk can handle it.

The reason many asked Morganelli to file is the very reason they would not file the suit. Angle would harass them with his attornies and just run them out of money. You would do you invasive nitpicking and subject the individual and their family to your malicious scrutiny and possible personal danger.

Morganelli is not afraid of either of you and cannot be intimidated by either of you. The rule of Law has taken a while but finally our long County nightmare with Ron Angle may be winding down.

Ugarte said...

Haven't Pennsylvania Department of Education spokespeople said in media reports about this story that "county councilman" and "county commissioner" mean the same thing? It seems like the PDE is pretty clear on this...

Bernie, putting aside ethical questions of whether the law is correct or not, or whether Morganelli's motives are political or not, do you think Ron Angle should be able to serve both laws if the law clearly states that he can't?

I mean, I'm no legal expert by any means, but wouldn't that open both the school board and county council to potential problems down the road? If either board votes 5-4 on an issue, couldn't somebody challenge the legitimacy of Angle's participation on the board and possibly seek action to overturn that decision? And if that happened, wouldn't that open up to question ALL votes those two boards held while Angle served in both positions? It seems like it could open a massive can of worms if Angle served on both boards contrary to the law...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ugarte, It's true some Education official claimed there's a conflict, a person who incidentally is NOT a lawyer. If the claw was clear, I'd agree that Angle has a conflict. But it's not.

Now you express the concern that if Angle's is removed by quo warraqnto, that negates all his votesd and could infact change the results of some close votes. But that is not the law.

Assuning that Angle is sitting illegally, he still would be what is called de facto member of both boards. All of his votes would have the same validity as if he were there legally.

But let me be clear. There is no question in my mind that this is a politically motived threat from the DA. He has no interest in either the School Code or HRC. His sole goal is to succeed where LongDems have failed at the polls.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I enabled comment moderation for about an hour to get rid of some spam. In the process, i inadverdently deleted a comment here responding to Ugarte. I am sorry.

Anonymous said...

Will your money supply be shut down if Angle loses his council position Bernie?

Where is that full disclosure of monies and gifts received from Angle I keep asking for?

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is ridiculous and spurious accusation, made with no evidence and solely to shut up someone whose opinions here scare and anger you.

In fact, I rec'd a telephone call warning me about this on Friday, claiming that these accusations would be coming from Mike Fleck. Anonymously, of course. The word I get was he was bragging about this at the ABW.

There is no truth to this latest story. I am in no way compensated by anyone for what I write, other than thru the google ads, over which I have no control.

It is true that Angle is one of a large group of people who contributed to buy me a laptop computer for my birthday. I also sometimes will search a title for him, and he might have paid me $700 over the entire time I've known him for title searches. But he pays me for title work, not my writing.

As far as Stoffa is concerned, there is no connection at all. I do none of the county's title work and have never even made an effort to get that work. If offered, I would say no. In fact, since he's been in office, I've spent less and less time at the courthouse bc i am writing so much.

Finally, we have Dent. Now I hear from time to time he pays me to say nice things. That is also untrue. His finance reports, which have been filed for years, reveal no payments to me. But according to what this person was telling his friends at ABW, the money is supposedly funneled to me thru third parties. Of course, this is all garbage.

The simple truth is that I write what I want to write. I am not for sale. If I were, I sure would be doing a lot better financially.

One final point. The suggestion that I am paid for my services is an acknowledgement that what is written here does tend to influence people. So thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Who was part of the small group that purcased your computer and accessories? We know Angle, Stoffa and some of his administration cronies did, who else, names please. Especially County Coucil members.

Which Asst. Solictors and Asst. PD's, all appointed positions, have given you work to do for them? Names please.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm not giving you the names of people who contributed to buy a laptop. Those are my friends, and I'm not exposing them to anonymous assholes like you. Except for Angle and Stoffa, none of them has a thing to do w/ politics.

Now you are also suggesting I can't do title searches for people who may be employed part-time by the county??? I see no ehtical conflict there. That's a real stretch, but I do NO work for anyone emoplyed as an assistant solicitor or assistant public defender.

What you have claimed is that Angle, Dent and Stoffa support me financially. This is a bald-faced lie. Now I have heard that Fleck was running his mouth, making this claim, at ABW. But it is false.

If these three were supporting me financially, all three ofthem and i would be in violation of election laws. But your charge, and the charges made in other comments, is a lie. Now, if you'sd like to pursue this further, ask John Morganelli to open an investigation. I'm sure he can tack it on to his quo warranto case.

At least then I'll have an aopportunity to confront my accuser. Next time you make an accusation, you better have a name. If not, you'll be taken out with the other garbage I am sometimes forced to delete here.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:
Keep up the good work on your Blog. Although I may not agree with everything, I enjoy reading about the local politics.

And Mr Angle: If you do need to decide between the County Council or Bangor School Board, I personally hope you choose the County. Work needs to be done, and you would be an asset for us all. I may not like the antics at times, but you can not question his intelligence. The man is just flat out sharp. We need as many people like that (man or woman) on County Council that we can get.

Anonymous said...

Hey 4:22, how long have you been locked up in a room?