Friday, November 04, 2011

Lauer: Video Devices "Absolutely" Permitted at Council Meetings



For well over a year, whenever Ron Angle speaks during a Northampton County Council meeting, he is subjected to heckles and catcalls. Jack D'Alessandro and Mary Ann Schmoyer, who proudly sport "Gracedale Goon" buttons, are the usual offenders. If someone dares offer a view about Gracedale that's different from theirs, that person is taunted, too.

Two weeks ago, as Ron Angle spoke about the Chrin TIF, the usual torments began. When I turned to film this disruptive behavior, Jack D'Alessandro actually attacked me.

I thought posting this latest example of disruptive behavior might shame D'Alessandro and other Scott Parsons' supporters into displaying some of the civility they claim is absent in Angle.

Instead, an unsigned letter, dated October 28, was sent to County Council, complaining about me. The address on the envelope goes back to D'Alessandro, although the unsigned letter claims it's from "The Coalition of Alzheimer Family Members." I am charged with using my flip-cam (I have two of 'em) to "intimidate, disrupt, antagonize, annoy and harass" them. They add that, when D'Alessandro attacked me, I "was holding [my] camera up in front of Jack D'Alessandro's face so Jack could not see the proceedings."

Well, as the video they want silenced clearly reveals, D'Alessandro was actually two aisles behind me. It's pretty hard to shove a camera in anyone's face from that distance. The person I had intended to film was  Mary Ann Schmoyer, their head heckler.

Acknowledging that Council has "no control over [my] blog," the unsigned letter states "you do have control over your Council chambers," and asks them to adopt rules to stop me. "Perhaps your legal council [sic] can advise you on this matter."

That's what happened at last night's meeting. Council Solicitor Phil Lauer told them that my use of a flipcam is "absolutely permitted, and cannot be restricted."

Under Pennsylvania's Sunshine Law, a member of the public has "the right to use recording devices to record all the proceedings." 

If I am banned from filming their antics, how long would it be before TV cameras were banned as well?  How long would it be before someone was prohibited from even writing about meetings in a way that annoys or antagonizes others? And who decides that the conduct constitutes harassment? It's a slippery slope.

I like the way one Pennsylvania judge put things in the right perspective. "True, a tape may be misused, but that fact, one in common with every other communication device since the alphabet, must not result in restricting its use. The freedom to misuse is the price of an open society, a small price indeed."

It appears to me that the Coalition of Alzheimer Families, who sometimes call themselves "We the People" or "Gracedale Guardians," have no desire for an open society. They shout down anyone who disagrees with them, and their enemies' list grows by the day. They want their message, and only their message, heard.  And although they pretend to want "civility," their real message is one of hate.

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh the Drama Queen!!

Anonymous said...

there was a time, ten years ago or so, when your allies engaged in the same kind of heckling behavior at council meetings.

Zorn said...

the goons continue to make fools of themselves and they really don't even have to work hard at. it just comes natural

Anonymous said...

Using a video camera is fine.....it is how you EDIT it that is deceiving and just plan wrong!!! You seek DRAMA where ever you go and when you don't find it, you create it. Totally agree with 3:19 DRAMA QUEEN you are!

Anonymous said...

well at least a queen

Anonymous said...

Phil Lauer is the saddest excuse for a lawyer this county has ever seen. He is a dancing pansy, and will tap dance to whatever tune the council wants him too.

Instead of manning up to do what is right and eject O'Hare and his flipcam, he lays down like a dog, and continues to foster absurd and perverted behavior.

Seems like there is more to come on this one. Stay tuned.

Legal Beagle said...

The Sunshine Act in PA clearly states that recording devices are allowed at public meetings.

What O'Hare failed to address in his posting is the intent of this law. While its intent is to provide for an open government to allow for an exchange of info from its elected officials and members of the public, one may reasonably conclude that recoding devices must be allowed.

However, it is not a far stretch to also conclude that when the recoding device is used as an attempt to silence those individuals from volunteering their voices, his use of this mechanism can be called into question.

He has caused embarrassment to the members of the audience who he offends with his recordings. He posts the recording on a blog, and adds malicious statements to contend that they are disruptive.

His recordings have the opposite effect of the intent of the Sunshine Law. When people realize that they become the victims of unwanted recordings as members of the audience, and face a media smear on a local political blog, they are less likely to have their voices heard at public meetings.

Excuse me for defending this group Bernie, but they have raised a valid point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"there was a time, ten years ago or so, when your allies engaged in the same kind of heckling behavior at council meetings."

This is completely false. With the exception of Billy Givens, who was allied to no one, I have never seen such a larger group who heckle and catcall during public meetings. I have often been o n the wrong side of County Council, but have never disrupted a meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Using a video camera is fine.....it is how you EDIT it that is deceiving and just plan wrong!!!"

Under this theory, I should be banned from writing about what happened as well. Channel 60 should be banned from doing newscasts that show excerpts of Council meetings as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"well at least a queen"

Once agian, I see that the civility of Scott Parsons and his supporters is at work.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Phil Lauer is the saddest excuse for a lawyer this county has ever seen. He is a dancing pansy, and will tap dance to whatever tune the council wants him too."

Guess you need to add him to your enemy list, eh?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Te Legal Beagle, like the Fake Rev, must have gotten his papers out of a crackerjack box. Whether I embarrass people is irrelevant. Whether my motive is to harass, although it is not and I don't, is irrelevant. I have a right to record ALL proceedings during a public meeting. Under your reasoning, any group who feels that I am antagonizing them, could silence me. It would not be very long before somebody decided to silence you.

Anonymous said...

The offending beast from the riotous video embarrassed him or herself (this is still not clear to me given the assailant's limp wristed fighting style and large breasts).

The First Amendment protects the rights of those who wish to embarrass themselves, just as it protects the rights of those who wish to capture and share the hilarious high jinks.

Anonymous said...

They embarass themselves and their comments here are a stain on the memories of those who raised them and the institutuions that educated them. Certainly don't endeer anyone to their cause. They should be ashamed but are too angry and venomous to be shamed or contrite. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you should start a youtube channel “Supporters Gone Wild” I’ll bet there will be a lot of footage to collect on Election Day.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you should probably file a civil action as you appear to be an obvious victim of a battery. The only real question of law is whether or not you can file suit against a gobbling/troll cross. I am not sure whether or not they are recognized as a "person" under PA law.

Anonymous said...

At least Att. Lauer has the dexterity and stamina to tap dance, half those gracedale goons can barely make it to the council chambers without wheezing, breathing heavily and sweating profusely......
Not to mention the smell.

Marlin Perkins, Esq. said...

Bernie,

Your filming exploits are eerily reminiscent of some close calls I've had with the untamed. There's a moment at the 1:40 mark of the clip below that is pure deja vu.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGMf4QQdI9c

God bless you for carrying my torch. Wild beasts are simply fascinating when observed acting naturally.

I humbly suggest you find a good Jim Fowler-type, however, whom you can goad into particularly dangerous situations in your stead. The woman from West Easton's underworld seems like she'll do anything. Just a thought.

God bless. Spay and neuter -
animals too!

Marlin

Anonymous said...

HEY BO (CURLY) ARE YOU STILL GOING TO FILM MEETINGS AFTER MOE (ANGLE) OF THE THREE STOOGES LOOSE THE ELECTION OR WILL YOU STILL DO IT FOR LARRY(STOFFA). I THINK NOW THAT WE WERE TOLD BY OUR SOLICITOR CAMERAS ARE ALLOWED WE ALL SHOULD BRING THEM TO THE NEXT MEETING AND STICK THEM IN YOUR IN YOU FACE. BUT EVERYONE REMEMBER TO BRING YOUR WIDE ANGLE LENS SO WE CAN FILM YOUR FAT BUTT.

Anonymous said...

Marlin Thank you so much for sharing that.

Anonymous said...

Don't always agree with you, Bernie, but in this one you're 110% right, and the fact that the law is on your side is obvious to anybody with the ability to read...

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:10. How exactly does one LOOSE an election? Do you set it loose like a wild beast? Now I understand why Marlin Perkins is here. And what is this OUR SOLICITOR? Do you mean Atty. Lauer? Are you a member of County Council?

Anonymous said...

Got credentials outof a crackerjack box? Where are your credentials disbarred Bernie who is a useless bum

Anonymous said...

If the goons were given flipcams, they'd likely eat them and bitch about having loosed them.

Anonymous said...

Atty Lauer is Ron Angle's attorney, nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I've known Phil since 1973/74. He was a young Public Defender in NorCo. He was good man then. I am disturbed by the clients he seems to represent lately. I've seen him on TV with some obvious losers. Everyone is entitled to representation, I guess the competition is intense, so I'll give him a pass. You know those lawyers for people like OJ do their best to fight for their client, that doesn't mean they like the client. I haven't seen Phil in a while but I know he continues to be a good man no matter who he speaks for in the courts. He is correct in his assessment of the legality of cameras. Why don't ALL of you complainers buy yourselves one and post your results on YouTube. It might actually get interesting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Phil is still a good man. He has an obligation o represent a criminal defendant zealously, and does that job well.

Anonymous said...

There "may" be a right to film a public meeting. You do not have a right to use a video device as a weapon or as an intrusion on someone else's ability to be part of a public event.

Therein lies the problem Mr. O'Hare. When you are sued you will learn the difference.

Anonymous said...

When being charged by an angry, obese woman (as shown in the video), one "may" use a recording device in self defense. The burden of proof is on Schmoyer and the hungry hungry hippos to prove they were' attempting to take the camera and consume it, having mistaken it for a piece of food. Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

weren't

Anonymous said...

"I have often been o n the wrong side of County Council, but have never disrupted a meeting."

never said it was you. said it was your allies. and it was more folks than givens.

Anonymous said...

I was there too. There was a certain memorable meeting in Courtroom One. Good times! My recollection is that there was a lot of boos, jeers and catcalling from the audience. But the vast majority of the noise was from guys in union shirts, who at the end of the meeting, got back in their cars and drove home to New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

I think the "schmoyer" was seated and it is a man with "bitch tits".

Anonymous said...

Rrom the 911 emergency system to the $101 million bond issue, there have been jeering from the audience. This is nothing new in Northampton County. Please, enough wiht the bullshit. If anything the Gracedale crowd is mild compared to the others.

Hell, during the bond issue debate Bobby "gubber" Walsh sold hotdogs outside the courthouse and Angle encouraged people to disrupt the meeting. Soon after that Angle screwed over Walsh and was fired from one of his many radio shows.

Stop re-writing history.

Bernie O'Hare said...

As a regular attendee of Council meetings and the person who sued over the $111 million (not $101 million) bond, I can assure you that there was nothing from ether the 911 crowd or bond opponents that even comes close to matching the catcalls and outright interruptions from the Gracedale Goons. Nor have I seen the personal insults that have been directed at anyone, including newspapers and elected officials, with differing views.

Anonymous said...

You are full of shit O'Hare. You lying prick.

Anonymous said...

The kinds of personal attacks offered on these posts would seem to support Bernie's perceptions.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

Honestly, all I want to know at this point is, why does EVERY PERSON who hates, insults, or is against Ron Angle a SUPPORTER of Scott Parsons? There ARE people in this world who (sadly) will act/vote AGAINST one candidate more than FOR another.

That is: many people despise Angle, for reasons both right and wrong. Some of these people have been waiting for ANY person with a pulse and common sense to get Angle out of office. He CAN be effective at times, but even when he is, he tends to make his constituents look bad for "condoning his actions."

Amusingly enough, generally the same misconstrued emotional BS Im complaining about here is the reason for this (just because someone votes for someone doesn't NECESSARILY mean they approve of said person; they may just he dead set against the other).

To cut my ramblings short for once: not every person who hates Angle and harasses him is a true "supporter of Scott Parsons." Many are just "opponents of Ron Angle." So I really feel its disingenuous to blame Scott Parsons for ANY negative thing that ANY person who votes for him does.

You might as well say that Scott Parsons is the reason you don't practice law anymore, because you frequented the same bars, therefore he supported the establishment(s) that facilitated your alcoholism.

Sound rude? Sound personal? Sounds just plain DUMB, logically? That's because it IS. But its just an extreme version of the same logic YOU use to indirectly bash Parsons EVERY chance you get.

So can't YOU stick to the issues a little more? Or Hell at least bash Parsons for things HE does....I've yet to see almost any of THAT. Most is as described above or things he DOESN'T do.

Maybe its just that HE actually IS a good person, unlike your "friend" Ron Angle, who will assuredly throw you under the bus when he's done with you as he has many other "friends" of his in the past. Now THAT is going after someone for things they DID do.

Regards,

Anonymous D