Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gracedale Initiative: The Case Against Government by Mob Rule

I've been one busy beaver the past week or so, spending so much time in the Northampton County elections office that the ladies there have threatened to file PFAs against me. I've been reviewing 507 petitions filed to prevent the County from selling nursing home Gracedale, one of its own assets, and one that loses money. After noticing several disturbing patterns in the petitions, as well as a facial inconsistency between the Home Rule Charter and the Elections Code, I decided that a lawsuit had to be filed. What's more, it had to be filed yesterday.

I won't bore you with all the legal gobbledygook, but after discussing this matter with Northampton County Bulldog Ron Angle, we formed an Unholy Alliance to stop government by mob rule.

Yesterday, shortly before the Elections Commission convened, we filed a suit challenging the validity of 23,391 unverified signatures filed by a group led by a fake preacher, who's probably cooking up a batch of Kool Aid for his group right now. I've attached the full Complaint below, but want to summarize the points made to the Elections Commission yesterday, which ultimately ruled against the Initiative, 3 to 2.

1) Ellen Weiss was a petition circulator, i.e a person who watches you sign the petition and later swears that she saw you sign it. She just happens to be the President of AFSCME. She's a VP of the LV Labor Council. Her husband is their Recording Secretary. She's one of the union cadets who used the Gracedale rally as an excuse to campaign for Charles Dertinger and John Callahan. She circulated 37 of the 507 petitions, getting 2,269 signatures. On Election Day alone, she obtained 1,229 signatures between 7 AM and 8 PM in at least 8 different municipalities, and in places as far apart as Hellertown and Pen Argyl. Assuming she spent just one hour driving to different polling places, eating and using the facilities, she would have to have obtained one signature every 35 seconds. That's a physical impossibility. We are asking the Court to strike all 2,269 signatures to preserve the integrity of the election process.

2) Dana Lorin Paisley is another petition circulator whose claims are simply unbelievable. He supposedly obtained 1,188 signatures, and 537 of them were on Election Day alone, from Walnutport to Wilson Borough. That's 41 per hour between 7 AM and 8 PM.

3) Mary Ann Schmoyer is a woman who disrupts nearly every meeting with catcalls ad curses at Angle. She even called him foul names in front of a group of around 40 boy scouts. Well, she was a petition circulator, too, collecting 47 of the 507 total, getting 1,439 signatures. At any given point in time, she had as many as 15 different petitions. She was obviously dropping them off at bars and clubs. Now she claims to have set up tables and laid 15 out at a time, but even then, she is not witnessing each signature.

4) Circulator Jack DAllesander, one of the blog trolls here who incessantly attacks Angle and anyone who supports Gracedale's sale, is physically disabled. He has breathing tubes coming out of his nose, ears and practically every orifice. He can't walk or speak without them, and has claimed that on this very blog. But there he is on Election Day, supposedly obtaining 301 signatures. He is saying his equally disabled wife helped him.

5) Circulator Clayton Creamer is a non-county resident who handed in two petitions, and one of them is all filled out with the same handwriting. That's 53 signatures.

6) Betty Fensetermaker obtained 99 signatures and is not herself a registered voter.

7) Wendy Haggerty obtained 583 signatures. Holly Guzaman got another 97. Their addresses do not match information at the elections office. (This is a curable defect).

8) Petitions were fraudulently circulated in Bethlehem Township and Easton. I have several witnesses, but Bethlehem Township Planning Chair Lee Snover saw it go on all day. Circulators were making the following false statements to voters: "Gracedale not only is closing; they are moving the patients two or three Counties away; their family is never going to see them again.” Approximately 700 signatures come from those 2 districts.

9) Jerry Green and Tim Rehrig are the President and Business Manager of the Steelworkers bargaining unit at Gracedale. They both make over $60,000 per year. Neither are residents of Northampton County, but they both circulated petitions in a matter in which they have a financial interest, getting 300 names.

10) Ladd Siftar notarized his own signature. That's 1.

11) In just half of the 507 petitions on file, there are 1,238 defective signatures (not registered, wrong County, etc.).

If you add it all up, that's 8,267 bad signatures. That means the 15,124 valid signatures are way below the 19,630 threshold need for ballot initiative. So if you forget the Home Rule Charter's express prohibition on initiatives or referenda that interfere with the budget or a capitol program, this effort still falls short.

Gracedale Complaint

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would like to summarize points in my complaint below....

1) Ron Angle is suing his own fathers estate.

2) Ron Angle "allegedly" forged his fathers Will so he would benefit the most.

3) The Elections Committee didn't vote on the "validity" of the signatures.

4) Bernie O'Hare is a disbarred attorney.

5) Bernie O'Hare has a suspect past at best.

6) Bernie O'Hare is friends with, and has written blogs defending pedophiles.

7) Bernie O'Hare is the town drunk.

8) Ron Angle flip flopped on the GEO prison for his own benefit.

9) Bernie O'Hare censors his blog in order to spin discussions in his favor.

10) Bernie O'Hare will play the "anon coward" card for this post.

11) Bernie O'Hare will swear that Anons don't make his blog what it is, yet when he enacts Discuss he gets 4 whole responses.

12) Ron Angle will not get reelected.

13) Bernie O'Hares liver will go out on him.

14) Ron Angle will go to prison for his "alleged" forged Will.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, you have made those attacks and more, none of which has anything to do with Gracedale or the Petition, and you always end up with your face in the mud.

Anonymous said...

It was reported that you and Angle would carry the water for John Stoffa on this issue, we see it is happening. The Save Gracedale Coalition legal team is ready.

Most of your claims are pure conjecture and will be challenged and summarily dismissed by the Court. As neither you nor Mr. Angle are Spacial Physicist's or medical personnel, your opinions on the capabilities of the disabled or what can be accomplished in how much time by motivated individuals are irrelevant.

Since Mr. Angle has a vested interest in the sale of Gracedale having personally taken calls from unnamed potential buyers, overheard by members of the public, he should be tossed off the suit.

On the face of it, your claims are capricious and without merit. They are based on opinion without any corroborating evidence.

If all your witnesses are as flawed as Ms. Snover , who is on record with remarks about the need to sell Gracedale her "word" and the "word" of others who have been vocal in their opposition to the petition drive, merely results a case of he said she said.

All petitioners certify no one said they knew for sure residents would be dumped but anyone is free to speculate, even petitioners.

The petition's asked a very direct and specific question.

You may strike a few names but not enough.

Your disbarred lawyers claims will be countered by someone who can actually practice law and is already chuckling at your claims.

Good Luck booby. Judges tends to side with people putting decisions in the hands of people, not disgruntled wannabe attorneys and disposed dictators pols.

We shall see, the game is afoot.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for not providing your legal gobblyglok, considering you wre disbarred.

Attorney can and should disgraced and disbarred ones should not.

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Bernie. The majority of us want Gracedale off our backs and appreciate your efforts.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, get off thier backs. How will these people make a living if the county decides to get rid of Gracedale?

Anonymous said...

Well done Bernie!

Don't even listen to these whiners who have the intellectual level of an earthworm.

Gracedale bleeds money, and needs to go. These Union clowns would have been okay with me had they not used fraud and false public outcry to get their agenda tthrough. No judge in the county is going to let those signatures be validated.

To the people with the desire to use personal attacks, place your name address and phone number as well as a place where you'd like to meet, and you can debate this with me all day...Instead of attacking people anonymously like a coward. If you want to post neutral nonpersonal points of view anonymously that is a different issue.

Anonymous said...

John Stoffa Broke Our Trust... right along With Ron Angle !!!!! How can anyone believe in the Process that should be representing All The People ?

Anonymous said...

There is no such process that represents ALL the people. Its majority rule as representing ALL the people is inherently impossible. The people who want gracedale gone and think it is a good decision for gracedale and for the county, aren't whining because we dont have to. It is called the silent majority.

HELLO? where on earth do you people come from? Is our education system really this bad?

Anonymous said...

Angle and Stoffa have earned our trust by following through with tough, but sound financial decisions. Bravo. And thanks, Bernie.

Anonymous said...

One man ruling a county! The citizens of Northampton County need to wake up. And for you, Bernie O'Hare, you blame the loss of your license due to alcoholism. Being an alcoholic didn't cause you to lose your license, it was lost due to your incompetent and reckless mannerism in the way you represented people. You have also choosen not to reinstate your license....why is that BERNIE...could there be darker things that you need to hide!? As far as I'm concerned, you and Ron Angle deserve each other, you are both egotistical maniacs that use things like the Gracedale issue to put yourselves in the "limelight". Just remember, every DOG has their day and very soon, the Bulldogs' day will be coming. Citizens of Northampton County are sick and tired of Ron Angle and just hope that the fall will be hard enough that we will never hear of Ron Angle again and without Ron Angle, Bernie O'Hare is nothing!

Anonymous said...

representing all the people is john stoffa's duty .... we are all taxpayers ... whether you are pro or con on the issue of gracedale ... john stoffa has not uttered a whisper ... i hear bernie ohare but i didn't elect him for county executive i elected john stoffa.... the people who took the time and energy to collect signatures deserve better from him. i do have a question ... how is it the people willing to buy gracedale figured out a way for it to make money ... why then can't the county ? regardless of your position on the issue 23,000 signatures is not a small portion of the voters and to there efforts i appauld them all . i can't understand how saving a tax increase for one year solves anything ... will you be singing the same tune next year when they increase double ?

Anonymous said...

from all outward appearances .... the fix is in isn't it ? why would spadoni talk from both sides of his mouth , unless it was meant to decieve ?

Anonymous said...

Angle wins whenever he runs, lately. Re; DOGs, he'd win a dogcatchers race, too.

Stoffa's been elected twice, easily. He's not the best statesman in the world, but his views on the sale are well known and he does not control council.

It's not 23,000 signatures. It's far fewer after all the fraud is sifted out.

The people buying Gracedale will make money because they won't have uncompetitive union compensation to pay. There's 9% unemployment and good people willing to work these jobs for less money.

There will be tax increases as long as politicians of either stripe breathe.

Bernie did a huge favor for the silent majority. His sins have been confessed and well documented. We don't care and are thankful for his work.

c said...

This issue will be resolved one way or another. I hope that the damage done by personal attacks is not so great that we are unable to unite for the next series of issues that will face our county. Democracy is ugly but I am glad that we have the process. Somehow it just always seems to work out.

Monkey Momma said...

"The people buying Gracedale will make money because they won't have uncompetitive union compensation to pay. There's 9% unemployment and good people willing to work these jobs for less money."

This, to me, is the crux of the matter. If the county cannot afford the obligations it has to union at Gracedale, then the county has no choice but to bow out of the ownership. I would think residents would be furious if a tax increase were required to pay for unions and legacy costs. I blame unions for this whole mess, not the County or activist bloggers.

However, I don't understand why selling Gracedale is such a fire drill. One thing that Molovinsky says that rings true is that the voters did not get a chance to hear their elected officials discuss this matter during elections. If Gracedale wasn't an issue then, then why does the county have to solve this issue RIGHT NOW? Voters do expect things in the county to generally keep on keepin' on, and major changes of this nature should be a topic of discussion during elections. Chances are, nothing the county can do can make Gracedale affordable, but it would seem the voters would want a more lengthy discussion (at least) on the matter.

Also, I am curious about the process here. Leaving out the home rule charter issue, if O'Hare didn't file suit, would the petition signatures have to be validated? Are the signatures accepted at face value if no one files a lawsuit????

Bernie O'Hare said...

"However, I don't understand why selling Gracedale is such a fire drill."

Actually, the sale of Gracedale has been under discussion for quite some time. Ron Angle has been advocated a sale for years, but Wayne Grube always spoke against it.When Grube passed away, Gracedale lost its most powerful supporter on Council.

Discussions became more earnest during budget discussions in 2009. In early 2010, John Stoffa commissioned a study, which recommended a sale.

Discussions continued, and in August, Stoffa proposed a sale.
Informational meetings were held in all 4 corners of the County.

It was not until mid-October that the Petition Initiative was even started. Basically, they waited for 10 1/2 months to start the process.

" Leaving out the home rule charter issue, if O'Hare didn't file suit, would the petition signatures have to be validated? Are the signatures accepted at face value if no one files a lawsuit?"

Under the HRC, the elections office has an obligation to review the signatures, although not with the scrutiny that I applied. They would just look at the basic stuff, such as whether the voter is registered or not.

The reason I filed suit is because the Elections Code, which requires petition challenges in 7 days, might trump the 20-day period of review provided for by the HRC. So I wanted a law suit on record to preserve that issue.

Now that the Elections Comm'n has ruled, I do not think a hearing is necessary and it will be up to initiative proponents to challenge the final determination.

Anonymous said...

The latest Peanuts cartoon has Linus hiding under his bed so he doesn't have to attend school.

Anonymous said...

Hey BO
Color it challenged

Anonymous said...

There's 9% unemployment and good people willing to work these jobs for less money.

It wouldn't bother you if your employer came to you and told you we are letting you go because we found a "good" person willing to do your job for less?

I hope that comment comes back and bites you where the sun don't shine.

michael molovinsky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I don't know what the answer is for selling or not selling Gracedale, but I do know not everything is being said. Facts are that Gracedale lost $$$$ the last couple years. What wasn't said is that Gracedale made $$$$ the years before that. That surplus was used to help other departments within the County to balance their books. If that surplus was used to update Gracedale maybe they wouldn't be at a loss. I know, it's the unions fault. Except Gracedale is reimbursement I believe 95%, therefore it's not $ for $ for the County.

Obviously the surplus was used all these years so as to not increase taxes, rather than reinvesting in Gracedale. Sort of like your own home, pay $1000 a year for repairs over 10 years, or pay at leaast $10,000 that tenth year. And then, the biggest culprit of this mess happened. The swaption.

Lets tell the truth. The swaption is going to cost over $10 million to get out of. Raise taxes, or sell off assets? Here's Gracedale with back to back losses, easy target.

Give me a break about the unions at Gracedale. Nurses get paid very well everywhere. Besides, the pensions and benefits are equal to every
northampton county employee, union and non-union. Only most employee expenses are not reimbursed at the rate that Gracedales employees are.

I am not a Gracedale employee, but I am a County employee. Obviously it would benefit me to remain anonymous, but I do know Bernie and he know's me. Talked to him often.

I just wish the general public knew the entire story.

Anonymous said...

Saw BO and RA on TV 69
I actually tried to adjust the aspect of my TV bacause Bernie looked so bloated. It wasn't necessary.
Bernie you better hop back on your bicycle, you don't look good. I invite you to join me at the Jacobsburg Park bike trails when the weather breaks It will help you melt some of those pounds off. I suffer from being overweight as well so don't take this as a barb.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have reached the conclusion that comments from MM are no longer welcome here. It has nothing to do with his position on Gracedale, which is contrary to mine. It is because conversations with him tend to deteriorate into petty squabbles that diminish all of us. I refuse to play his game.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Yesterday afternoon, Houston called to tell me that she was just presented with a wonderful opportunity and is giving up on The Butterfly House."

Actually, it might cost $20 MM. No one knows. And when Gracedale was a cash cow, it's true that the County took money and spent it elsewhere. But all this does is demonstrate why the best thing for Gracedale would be its sale.

County government has different priorities and needs than a privately-run nursing home. It will skimp there, even when times are good.

And the personnel costs are astronomical and beyond the norm for nursing homes because of the union benefits being paid. That's simply the truth.

The primary concerns here are (1) quality of care; and (2) indigents. Gracedale will be sold only if a private home can meet the concerns about the residents. What happens to the unions should not be part of that discussion. It should be about the residents, right?

Anonymous said...

"It wouldn't bother you if your employer came to you and told you we are letting you go because we found a "good" person willing to do your job for less?

I hope that comment comes back and bites you where the sun don't shine."

Been there, done that. got the tee-shirt. It's called the free market and yes, I'll agree that it can be harsh. I didn't make the rules.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 10:16 MAKE ME LAUGH!!!! Keep believing the lies Bernie is saying. He tells only half the truth and spins things to make these petitions sound like they are soooooo fradulent! The bottom line is over 23,000 signatures received. When he says that 50 some had the same writing.....he didn't tell you that all the signatures were different, address was written in the same handwriting. Obvious that the petition circulator simply wrote down the address as they were getting signatures in their neighborhood. What a twist he put on that one, making it sound like someone forged signatures! Bernie, some day you will pay for all your lies. Like the famous saying "payback is a bitch" can't wait till you get yours!

Anonymous said...

what goes around comes around

Anonymous said...

anonymous 2:22...

The petitioner cannot fill in anything relative to what the signees provide...If they fill in the addresses for the signers, the signature is invalid...

DUH...but you knew that...don't throw stones at Bernie without looking in the mirror...

Anonymous said...

It appears that this can now be defined as a "personnal agenda" as was denounced as such early on by chief cook and blogger washer Bernie, in regards to Angle filing in court. Isn't that a conflict of interest? I know he is a private citizen and I fully expected Bernie to file I just didn't think Angle would tie his name to the suit. Bears looking into.

Anonymous said...

The powers to be have derailed the real power --- the election process. Why are they so afraid of letting the public speak? Something is fishy here and its not the voters.

Anonymous said...

AS I SEE IT THE UNION NEEDS TO GO LOOK AT THE WHOLE THING WHAT HAVE THEY DONE FOR US IF HECTOR AND JUSTICE WOULD HAVE BARRINGED RHEN WE WOULDNT BE WERE WE ARE , THE UNION IS GREEDY BOTTOM LINE.YES AND WE WANT TO TRY TO SAVE IN THE MEAN TIME THERE IS ALOT OF OVERTIME GIVEN EVERYDAY TO THE SAME PEOPLE WHY IS THIS. YOU CANT TELL ME THAT IT WONT BE GOOD IF SOLD YOU DONT NO THAT LOOK WHERE WE ARE TODAY AND WHO CAN AFFORD A TAX HIKE............

The Battle Cry of Freedom said...

Isn't it just amazing to read these comments. On the one hand we have informed writers who rely on the facts of the matter and come to a conclusion and present it in an proper way. On the other hand we have individuals who spew bile against those who know what they are talking about pertaining to the matter.
Congratulations to Bernie, Ron, and the educated among us.

Anonymous said...

The idea of the "20%" tax hike was a number bought by the Administration for $18,000. Stoffa and Angle have wanted to dump Gracedale for years, that is a fact, all can agree. Yes, Stoffa did; he had Angle, quoting him as far back as 2003, just check it out.

So the problem is the level of "trust" in this government, just isn't there. If it was people might have believed some of the things being said.

Once some knowledgeable folks cast light on the questionable "20%" tax hike number, the new strategy shifted to, this is in the best interest of the "residents" or as some of the ignorant still call them, "patients".

The concern over the crammed four to a room issue was an Angle/
Stoffa production, never uttered by residents or families. People with absolutely no expertise in such issues, declared Gracedale was barbaric and inhumane. Bernie brayed on about star ratings until he was shown how they are done and the better ratings Gracedale received than the "model" agency in Dauphin County ever got. Then Bernie declared the raings don't matter, who cares about Dauphin, he meant most private facilities are better. Which way that wind blowing now Ron, just tell me what to say.

The anti-democracy crowd wants to sell Gracedale because they want to sell Gracedale. Fair enough, why play games. Why hide behind tarnished accounting and mystic medical science. The fact is the supporters of the sale would sell all of Human Service if they could. Mr. Stoffa tried to sell part of it during his Lehigh County days but the Sate stopped him.

It is an interesting lesson in civics to read how the Tea bag folk don't like the "they" in government when "they" don't get what "they" want, and then demand direct participation. Yet when leaders do their bidding and another group embraces direct participation the "They" become the evil "them".

Damn the bolsheviks until you get the nice Dasha then its, damn those other peasants not we bolsheviks.

Intellectual dishonesty taken to the extreme by those who claim to champion participatory government.

The use of the law firm hired to sell the "sell", used by the election commission to write his opinion. Even conservative judges shake their heads on that one. So much fear from Stoffa, Angle and O'Hare on the idea of people getting a say. Interesting civics lesson indeed.

Bray on good folk bray on!

Douglas from Hellertown who will remain just that.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the Court of Public Opinion is more powerful than the Court of Common Pleas. Those of you who disagree with Angle and Stoffa, remember it when it comes election time. That's really all you can do at this point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A legislator owes his constituents his best judgment. He is not elected to stick his finger in the wind and see which way the wind is blowing. If you don't like what his is doing, you are free to replace him.

The Court of Common Pleas is in fact a safeguard against the tyranny of a whimsical court of public opinion, in which demagogues who pretend they are "Reverends" and other nasty people atempt government by mob rule.

Anonymous said...

Again with the fake Rev
Oy Vey

Anonymous said...

"Congratulations to Bernie, Ron, and the educated among us."

The inane dribble that is American Idol is on as I write. My young daughter enjoys it so I endure. One thing about this show I see is the fact some of the entrants are deluded by parents and or loved ones to fancy themselves talented singers. this when in fact they are terrible.

See the above quote by some Patriot

BTW patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. So says one of the founding fathers you like to quote.

Wayne said...

Monkey Momma said...
I blame unions for this whole mess, not the County or activist bloggers.
---------------------------------

Actually the unions were only looking out for the workers when they negotiated the pay and benefits that government can't afford now. I really can't find fault with that.

The fault lies with the administration or employer who didn't have enough foresight to see how they would be unable to finance this down the road. They only saw the advantage of being non-confrontational and getting along today at the negotiating table and that bought themselves trouble later. Pass the problem down to the next administration or generation, just like all government debt.

Anonymous said...

Very true Wayne, Even while complaining about Gracedale and the need to "fix" the problem, the Stoffa Administration negotiated 7-9% pay increase with social workers in the other part of Human Services.

One can only wonder about the competence or sincerity that mix message sends to all.

Faustus

Bill Coker said...

Wayne,

You are stating the union is looking out for the workers? What a surprise! They are not for the corporations or the taxpayer as the case may be?

Do you think this is why unions, except in the public sector, are pretty much dead? Ask IBEW or any construction union guy how he's doing.

The pendulum swings both ways. It swung the unions way for too long, now it is going the other way.

These legacy costs are driving taxes to ridiculous and unsupportable rates. Police, fire, teachers, government workers pensions and benefits have to be the next cut. Society can't afford them much longer as the system exists.

Wayne said...

Bill Coker said...
"These legacy costs are driving taxes to ridiculous and unsupportable rates."
---------------------------

My point was that it takes somebody in management or administration to go along and approve pay rates and benefit packages --- doesn't it?

Either management is stupid or cowardly or both to approve something that will destroy them or their successors down the road.

Every time management concedes to union demands the union tells the rank & file, "See, they had the money".

Management sends the wrong signal. They should learn to say no before they dig themselves into a hole.

BTW... I'm not a union man, far from it.

Wayne said...

BTW... I'm not a union man, far from it.

Read the comments HERE

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Wayne does not mind being attacked, but I will not tolerate personal attacks against a reader who himself is not an elected official. Also, stick to the topic.

Wayne said...

Bernie O'Hare said...
Wayne does not mind being attacked,...
----------------------------

What I don't mind are people displaying the very best they have to offer in the way of sparkling conversation and intellect. I saw the two you removed and was so impressed with them I was content to leave them unanswered.

I don't blame you for deleting them though... nobody likes it when somebody leaves poop lying on their property.