Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bill White the Michael Moore of the Lehigh Valley?

That's what Bossman Wayne Woodman told Lehigh County Republicans at their most recent meeting. Woodman was reacting to Bill White's recent column, Will voters reward puppeteers?

Rank-and-file Republicans are unhappy with his leadership. Party stalwarts like Bob Romancheck and Scott Armstrong have stepped aside, unwilling to be part of a train heading over a cliff.

Ironically, the Republican who persuaded everyone to vote for Woodman was Dean Browning.

LVRamblings Excommunicated By LV Tea Party

I have to say I've been kicked out of better places. Lots of them.

As a Georgetown undergrad, my roommate and I were once tossed from a popular and swanky Irish bar. His repeated propositions to our sixty year-old server were finally beginning to work when they were overheard by the owner, who happened to be her husband. As we were tossed out, I decided to do a jig, but it was atop everyone's tables, where I kicked over drink after drink. Now, in addition to the owner, numerous patrons were after us, too. I can't remember how we actually got away without getting clobbered, but remember running my ass off.

We may have been drunk, but we were kids and could outrun the suits easily.

What's sad about this is that Murphy, my roommate, really loved that place. So we kept going back, even to the point of wearing disguises, but were caught every time.

Little did I know that this was only the beginning of me being kicked out of prominent places. In 1985, it culminated with me being kicked out of the lawyering profession. Drinking had something to do with that, too. Murphy went on to join the Foreign Service, where drinking is a prerequisite.

Last year, Northampton County Dems mounted an expulsion effort, too, trying to reverse the Will of the People. Even though I was duly elected as a committeeman in Nazareth with one write-in vote, party bosses were outraged and demanded that something be done about me before they elect their next Chair. Nothing came of it, but the party hierarchy decided to just stop sending me notices of their meetings. One of these days, I'm going to crash one.

Now, it's the Lehigh Valley Tea Party's turn. I didn't even know I was a member! Yesterday, I received a certified letter from them, informing me that I've been removed by a vote of 2/3 of their Executive Committee, for a violation of article 2.05 of their by-laws, "acts that could harm the reputation of the Organization."

These supposed defenders of our Bill of Rights love free speech, and hurl invective after invective at local, state and federal officials. Good for them. But it turns out they hate it when somebody holds them to their own standards. This is what they say in their Fatwa.

"Your blogs on March 9, 2010 'LV Tea Party Advocates Return to Old-Time Book Burnin'', March 23, 2010 'LV's Tea Party: Democracy Too Dangerous To Be Left to the People', April 6, 2010 'Joe Hilliard: Specter Slayer, Topples County Gov't with a Slice of Pizza' and finally February 26, 2011 piece 'Benol Forced Out as Chair of LV tea Party' are all examples of your unrelenting attacks on the Organization and it's [sic] leadership. The Board considers these blogs an attempt to smear, mock and divide the members of the Group in order to render our Organization ineffective, if not an attempt to destroy it."

Instead of worrying about a little criticism from a bottom-feeding blogger like moi, you'd think that Tea Party Queen Kim Schmidtner might be a little more concerned about the lack of dark faces at their monthly meetings. Or young faces. Or the occasional yamaka. This unwillingness to reach out might explain why the public is increasingly becoming disenchanted with the tea party.

In February, I told you that tea party chair Mat Benol was forced out by a cabal who could never come to grips with his endorsement of LV Congressman Charlie Dent last year. At the same time, Executive Board member Joe Hilliard is routinely huddling with GOP Bossman Wayne Woodman and elected official wannabe Scott Ott. Benol mentioned that himself in his resignation letter, which I have. My anonymous source, "Tipster," revealed here that Kim Schmidtner and Joe Hilliard were suspicious of everything Benol did, even to the point of refusing to share contact lists with him.

After my post about Benol, I received 8 emails from the Tea Party Mullah Joe Hilliard. Hilliard was blowing smoke well over a year ago about an "audit" he was doing of Lehigh County's 2009 budget. Although the budget is online, he insisted on filing Right-to-Know requests, and claimed his report would be out in a few weeks. Of course, he's still working on it. Hilliard explains, "[M]y ideas are usually a year or two ahead of the curve."

He also asked me to continue the criticism.

"I would encourage the coverage if you keep making fun of the effort. Make bold pronouncements that it won't get done. Ridicule the effort. Get it out there that such an effort will fizzle. Tell the public that only politicians have the answers. We would like the buzz..."

Last night, Northampton County Bulldog Ron Angle ran into Exec Board member Ronnie DelBacco, who was invisible when I tried to track him down as a witness in the Gracedale litigation.

"I hear you expelled O'Hare and he's not allowed within 300' of any tea party member."

DelBacco responded that the Executive Board is not allowed to discuss this matter. It's amazing that a group founded to protect individual liberties has no problem muzzling dissent.

What's funny about this is that, as a group, I actually like the LV Tea Party and have defended them. True, I've been highly critical of Schmidtner and Hilliard. But they are thin-skinned blowhards. I never had a problem with the rank-and-file.

Under the reasons given for my excommunication, shouldn't I be asking the group to expel Schmidtner and Hilliard? Haven't they committed "acts that could harm the reputation of the Organization." I do have a right to make an appeal to the general membership, and will exercise that right.

I suspect they'll pull out article 2.06 of their bylaws, which states, "Some animals are more equal than others."

That should be as much fun as dancing on the tables.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Welsh & Browning: The Gang of Two

I've told you about the Gang of Four, which is hellbent on ousting LC Comm'r Dean Browning. But Dean does have fans. The Morning Call's Bill White is one of them. And so is LC Commissioner candidate Mike Welsh. In fact, over a breakfast of spam and eggs yesterday, Mike confessed he'd happily form a Gang of Two with Dean.

Welsh's admiration for Dean Browning goes back to February 2009, when Dean voted against a Don Cunningham plan to save the nearly bankrupt LV Zoo by injecting $525,000 in cash that year, followed by $325,000 over each of the next four years. Browning was willing to give the zoo $200,000 to meet its immediate needs while commissioners and zoo officials worked out a business plan.

The final vote? 7 to 1.

A 10 year-old girl named Ashley killed Dean's plea for fiscal sanity.

"I have no animals at home, only a hamster and a fish. At the zoo, I got to watch a lot of happy faces. If someone closes the zoo, it will make me very sad."

The place was packed with LV Zoo advocates, and Commissioners crumbled. Except Browning. There were no tea party people in the audience. Wayne Woodman was lounging on his yacht in Beverly Hills. Scott "Scrappleface" Ott was at that time more concerned about Rush Limbaugh. Neither stepped foot inside Lehigh County's meeting room.

Browning quietly and amiably voted his conscience, notwithstanding the pressure of special interests.

Mike respected Browning's courage.

Later that year, when Lehigh County was preparing its 2010 budget, Dean Browning proposed cutting $100 thousand in "quality of life" grants for the foo-foos. County Exec Cunningham tipped them off, and this time, instead of a 10 year-old girl, Pip the Mouse came and blasted Browning. He even stuck a little mouse bomb in Browning's car. It just went P-f-f-f-t, but it's the thought that counts.

In addition to Pip, Arts Director Robert Metzgar was so mad his false teeth nearly fell out. "What are you, cRaZy?" is how he started from the podium. From there, things went downhill. He told Commissioners they could forget being re-elected if they insisted on these cuts. "You're going to bring the wrath of our community down on you," he roared. When Commissioners nervously laughed at this old dude on his way to cardiac arrest, he yelled even more. "Something funny up there?" Metzgar looked like he wanted to hop over the dais and roll around with both Glenn Eckhart and Dean Browning, but must have had second thoughts. He settled by condemning Browning's proposal as a "draconian insane cut." After being repeatedly condemned, Dean Browning finally said, "I get it. I'm a Visigoth barbarian."

Scott Ott was nowhere to be found that night. Perhaps he was doing voice overs for one of his witty essays. Bossman Wayne Woodman was likely livin' the dream, sipping Margaritas on the French Riviera.

Agree or disagree, Browning stuck to his guns, even though he lost. Mike Welsh could see again that Browning was willing to stand by his convictions.

In addition to Browning's political courage, Welsh admires Dean's loyalty. He told me that Dean and his wife stood on street corners for him when he ran for state rep against Jennifer Mann.

"What were they doing, selling their bodies?"

"No, they were holding signs, Bernie."

"Just asking. I'm a journalist, you know."

Courage, loyalty and honesty are character traits that mean something to Mike Welsh. "Your word is everything," he flatly stated.

He also rejected the Woodman-inspired effort to send the 2011 budget back to County Exec Don Cunningham, with instructions for a do-over. "To throw something back at the County Executive for no purpose whatsoever is just not my way."

Mike is employed with AC Thompson Insurance and Financial Services Co in Allentown, and has spent 23 years in the insurance industry. He ran a very spirited campaign against Jennifer Mann a few years ago, and in my opinion, trounced her in several debates. He has also ran for Commissioner against Dan McCarthy in 2009, but tells me his heart wasn't in it because Dan's a "really good guy."

"You didn't vote for him, did you?"

"No."

"Just asking. I'm a journalist, you know."

Mike is hoping the third time is the charm. "I want to make a difference in the lives of every day people." He said he'd support a return to the core functions of County government, mentioning public safety and human services as his top priorities.

LV Vet Roundtable to Host Hitler Youth Who Survived Dresden

If you like the History Channel, you'll love the LV Vet Roundtable. Military history buffs like Paul Fiske and Mike Sewards are collecting the fascinating stories of the men and women who served in our military, especially WWII vets.

Last year, I had the honor of listening to Emmaus Everyman Bob Kauffman share his experiences as an 18 year-old replacement who was thrown up against Germany's most elite combat unit, the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. "We got the crap kicked out of us," this unsung hero bluntly admitted. Kauffman has also written a book about his combat experience, The Replacement.

If you have time on Thursday night at 7 PM, drop by the Lehigh County Senior Center. This month's guest, like my father, endured the Allied fire-bombing of Dresden in February 1945. Today, he's the Reverend Dr. Manfred Bahman, the pastor of St. Joseph Lutheran Church in Allentown.

When Dresden was being fire-bombed, my father was a POW, cowering inside a slaughterhouse with author Kurt Vonnegut, who later wrote Slaughterhouse Five. As the bombs began to explode around them, Vonnegut claims that one of them wisecracked, "I wonder what the poor people are doing tonight." I am certain the source of that dark humor is my father.

Unlike my father and Vonnegut, Dr. Bahman was a member of the Hitler Youth, and his father was a Nazi.

Dr. Bahman's story is one I'd never miss.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Accountable Gang of Four Forms Harrisburg PAC

October 2009.

Democrats Hillary Kwiatek and Jeanne McNeill have waged a spirited and well-financed race for Lehigh County Commissioner District seats. But those campaigns begin to unravel when their campaign finance reports reveal that County Exec Don Cunningham is funding them in an attempt to pack the board. Thanks to a recently adopted Ordinance, designed to make County government more transparent and accountable, all their contributions are listed on the County web page. Kwiatek and McNeill are caught almost immediately.

Fast forward to the 2011 County Commissioner race. This time, it's four at-large seats, including one occupied by Chairman Dean Browning. And in a Gang of Four news release, four Republicans - Scott Ott, Dave Najarian, Lisa Scheller and Vic Mazziotti - make very clear they view their candidacies as a referendum on Dean Browning.

Now when Kwiatek and McNeill ran, they made a horrible mistake. They were honest. They truthfully told you where their money came from, hurting both themselves and their benefactor in the process. They amended reports to make it even more clear.

Scott Ott is much too clever for that. He's Scappleface, damn it! The last thing he wants you to know is how he gets his money. And the best way to keep you in the dark is by running all the dough through a statewide PAC. Sure, he must still file reports. But instead of appearing online immediately, as would happen in Lehigh County, his state report should be available about a month or two after the election.

Ott's PAC? My Lehigh County. Filed in Harrisburg. That's part of his Lehigh County. Campaign treasurer Donald Kurtzman has never voted in Lehigh County. His Lehigh County must be somewhere else, too.

In addition to the inherent dishonesty of filing a Lehigh County PAC in Harrisburg, Scrappleface insults us further by claiming it "was formed to advance the cause of accountability, transparency and reform in Lehigh County government ... It belongs to you." All this accountability for me??

Speaking of accountability, Ott registered this domain on February 7, 2011. He asks for "$10, $50, $100, $250, $500 or whatever you can devote to this cause." But over a month later, on March 8th, he filed an affidavit with the Lehigh County Voter Registration office claiming he has no intention of forming a political committee, or raising or spending more than $250. At the time he filed this sworn statement, he had already formed a committee.

The same's true for Bossman Wayne Woodman's wife, Lisa Scheller. She registered her domain on February 14, and in it, she seeks "a contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $25." But on March 8, she swears under oath that she has no intention of forming a committee or raising any money.

This is what Scrappleface means by "accountability, transparency and reform in Lehigh County government"? With their Harrisburg PAC and false affidavits, they're off to a great start. I'll take the guy who votes his conscience, any day of the week.

Some of you may prefer to discuss Lehigh County spending or whatever, but the first and foremost question in any races should be honesty. Even for people who get perfect scores in their tea party ratings.

LC GOP's Brad Osborne:Can't We All Just Get Along?

He's President of South Whitehall Township's Board of Commissioners, but still likes pancakes. That's one thing I learned during breakfast with Brad Osborne yesterday. Brad is a Republican candidate for Lehigh County Commissioner, and wanted to introduce himself to you.

Brad has been attending County meetings for the past two years and is a member of the County's GPA. He's running because he perceives a need for a "more effective board" that can work with an administration.

As for this year's 16% tax hike, Brad points out that "everyone knew" it could have been justified in 2009. He finds it "regrettable" that everything came down to the "last night and one vote" and claims the simple reason for this is that too many Commissioners are unwilling to work with each other or the administration.

"Every one of those Commissioners is responsible for that 16% tax hike," Osborne claims, noting that the "undue influence of election-year politics" makes it difficult for politicians to make hard choices.

"Our County Executive and Board of Commissioners are fond of saying we have the lowest taxation rate in the County since 2003. While that's true, what they're not saying is that the tax rate today is 63% higher than it was in 2002. It was 7.31 mils in 2002, and it's 11.9 mils today." Osborne is employed as a plant manger at GEO Specialty Chemicals and claims that, if his company experienced increases like that, they'd be out of business.

As a Commissioner, Brad would attempt to identify "areas of opportunity for efficiency and productivity gains."

A chemical engineer, Osborne indicated that party affiliation should be irrelevant at this level, and the focus should be on public service.

Osborne is running without the blessings of party boss Wayne Woodman or his plank, the Gang of Four. Woodman never offered to circulate petitions on Brad's behalf. He's also running without Dean Browning's blessing, but independently, and with his own committee.

Did he sign an affidavit like Scott Ott and Lisa Scheller? "I did not sign an affidavit for all the reasons it says on there. I intend to form a committee and intend to raise and spend more than $250. This is my first opportunity to make a connection with the voters. I don't know their [Ott, Scheller] circumstances, but for me, I could not sign that affidavit."

Does he support Bi-County health as currently planned? No.

Does he support a regional crime center? Yes.

Will he support a tax hike next year? No.

Why is he skinny while I'm fat? (Tony Iannelli bumped into me at the diner and made me ask that question).

Osborne's web age should be operational this week.

Nat'l Civic League: Gracedale Not Ballot Measure

One thing I learned when Bill Hansell was appointed Lehigh County Commissioner is that, if you let him go on long enough, he'll claim to have written the Northampton County Home Rule Charter, Federal Health Care Reform Act, Declaration of Independence and Grapes of Wrath. So it was no surprise to see him credited as a "co-author" of Northampton County's Home Rule Charter on Saturday. And given his support of every spending program he's seen, from bi-county health to a plan to add spending to what was already a 16% tax hike in Lehigh County last year, his views on Gracedale are no surprise.

In response to a request by Morning Call reporter Jenna Portnoy, County Exec John Stoffa asked Archives to look for background information concerning Northampton County's Home Rule Charter. They found about five boxes from 1975, and Stoffa made them available to all media outlets. This annoyed the hell out of Jenna Portnoy, who wanted one of those exclusives, but nobody really wanted to go through all that dusty old information. I spent about an hour looking at everything, and saw nothing that explains the intent of this single sentence.

"The power of initiative and referendum shall not extend to the budget or capital program, to the appropriation of money, to the levy of taxes, or to the salaries of elected officials, officers, or employees of the County."

That single sentence is why the County maintains there can be no initiative relating to Gracedale's sale.

Bill Hansell was a paid consultant who provided information to the real authors. At no time did he or anyone, for that matter, discuss the meaning of that sentence, probably because it's pretty clear.

But in 2011, thirty-six years after his consulting gig is over, Hansell claims the County is not "not playing by the rules." Really? Then what the hell does that sentence mean, Bill?

According to The Morning Call account, the real author is the National Civic League.

Guess what? That group does explain that the reason for this restriction on the power of initiative is to prevent the vox populi from interfering "with responsible officials striving to achieve a properly balanced long-range fiscal program."

Kinda' like what is happening here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Commonwealth Court to Hear Gracedale Challenge April 6

Of the two Gracedale initiative challenges, my challenge is weaker. Although I am very concerned about pervasive election fraud, I am asking an appellate court to overturn a judge on findings of fact.

That's rare.

But the County's challenge, relating as it does to an interpretation of the Home Rule Charter, is a pure question of law. And it appears that the Commonwealth Court has noticed. In a per curiam order today, it has listed the case for "submission on briefs before the court sitting en banc on 4/6/2011, Pittsburgh, PA."

Allentown Gas Explosion Featured on Business Matters Tonight


On Friday, I told you that the Gracedale Goons invaded WFMZ's Business Matters last week and continually disrupted the show, kinda' like they do at County Council meetings. They're now blaming the producer for their bad behavior. But this post is about another show taped that day. It's airing tonight at 8 PM, and it is a MUST SEE for anyone who lives in the Lehigh Valley's three cities or its older boroughs.

The show was a look back at the UGI gas explosion that killed five people and wiped out a city block. A woman who lived in one of these homes was a panelist. So was Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and the LV United Way President Susan Gilmore.

United Way staffers packed the audience. A very well-dressed Susan Kennedy, who did those awful Tempo shows, was there, and she even brought her plastic smile. Two, younger, mini-Sue Kennedys followed her, wearing the same vacuous smiles.

"Power down, girls," Kennedy kommanded. I thought maybe they all had chips implanted somewhere, but she was referring to their cell phones.

Regular and perhaps even occasional readers of this blog know I pretty much detest King Edwin. But he impressed me. As I've pointed out in a companion piece at Easton Patch, Pawlowski mentioned several very disturbing facts:

♦ There is more regulation of our water lines than there is for a highly flammable substance being transported by aging, cast-iron pipes.

♦ Most of the cast-iron pipes in Allentown are ancient, some of them going back to the early 1900's.

♦ Allentown is no different in this regard than Bethlehem, Easton, or the many older boroughs in the Lehigh Valley.

♦ In the year before this explosion, Allentown responded to over 100 gas leaks.

♦ UGI's current schedule of replacement is phased over forty years, and the Lehigh Valley is the last area scheduled.

♦ After the February 9 explosion, a gas-fed fire raged for five hours until UGI and City officials were able to find a shut-off valve.

UGI sent no representative to this show, but host Iannelli read a letter of apology the utilty sent, accepting responsibility. In addition, the utility has sent $20,000 to every homeowner displaced, no questions asked.

How about the tenants?

Apparently, they've been forgotten. In the audience were several of the people who've lost everything, and they've been pretty much ignored up until now. One gentleman said Red Cross gave him money to stay in a hotel one night, and the hotel decided to let him stay another day. But the United Way had not been there for him at all between February 9, the date of the explosion, and March 23, when this show aired.

Gilmore stammered about all the money she is raising, but was unable to explain how she has failed to help someone who was essentially left homeless. He is currently staying with family.

One week earlier, CACLV's Alan Jennings sent out $31,380 of the $118,000 raised thus far. Clearly, they need to be more responsive.

After the show was over, Gilmore, Kennedy and the mini-Kennedys made a quick exit.

Like the United Way, don't expect any quick action from state or federal officials. In my Patch article, I do mention some steps that local municipalities can and should take to reduce the incidence of this kind of tragedy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Gracedale Goons Storm Business Matters

Last time I was on WFMZ's Business Matters, hosted by Tony Iannelli, it really should have been the last time I was on Business Matters. Express Times editor Joe Owens and I rolled around in the gutter. A Morning Call reporter ran out of the place in tears.

That's the kind of damage we bottom-feeding bloggers can do.

Believe it or not, I was there again Wednesday. Producer Mike Schlossberg wanted to do a show on Gracedale, and was able to see the Gracedale Goons in action for himself. They packed the audience, along with LV Labor Council Recording Sec'y John Weiss. He's one of the union dudes who was handing out "Elect John Callahan" flyers at an October "Save Gracedale" rally. His union president wife is one of the petition circulators who claimed to have obtained one signature every 35 seconds on election day. Even Judge Baratta was forced to conclude she had gone too far.

Ron Angle, teamed up with me on the Sell Gracedale side, brought two friends. I had asked a few friends to come, too, but forgot to tell them what time they had to be there. I told Ron it looked like we were heavily outnumbered.

"What do you mean, we, you widow-hater," snarled Angle.

Uh oh.

On "God's side," as he always claims, was none other than Fake Rev Mario Martinez. As he sat in the make-up chair before the show, this Phony Preacher kept repeating "Angle is Satan, Angle is Satan."

Alrighty then.

The Fake Rev was joined by USW union boss Jerry Green, a genuinely good person who seemed embarrassed to be there.

Things got out of hand pretty quickly. When the Fake Rev started braying about "widows and orphans" at Gracedale, I interrupted to point out that there's no orphanage at the County-owned nursing home.

That brought hoots and hollers from the Gracedale Goons, who can abide no contradictions. But I wasn't done. I pointed out that, contrary to his constant claims, the Fake Reverend represents nobody and that he got his ordination papers from a Cracker Jacks box.

The Gracedale Goons screamed and yelled throughout the show, trying to shout down Angle or me whenever we made a point.

To their credit, Jerry Green and Ron were fairly subdued, but I pretty much acted the way I act here. Except this time, I had my enemy right in front of me. I pointed to audience members who padded Gracedale initiative petition numbers with duplicate signatures, and noted the pervasive election fraud from this mob.

After the show was over, one of the Goons started poking at me, and he was ushered away. Mike Schlossberg wanted to have Michelle Young escort me to my car because she's the toughest person in the room, but I declined. I did go out a side door, which put me at the far end of the parking lot.

They were all waiting for me by the front door, and when they saw me, started yelling again. But I got in my truck and followed Angle out of there as they continued to prove that the moniker "Gracedale Goons" is very apt.

I doubt the Fake Rev wanted to pray.

Although this show is scheduled to air on April 4, I honestly don't know if it will make it past the censors.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gracedale Lawbreaker is LV Labor Council Exec VP

Last October, I confronted union members who used a Gracedale rally as an excuse to campaign for John Callahan, Joe Sestak and Charles "Don't Call me Charlie" Dertinger. They were handing out flyers on County property, and when I told one of them that he was violating the law, his response was, "Show me a reason to care." When I asked him to explain, his witty retort was, "You're an ass."

You can see the video yourself.

Yesterday, this union hack was in a Business Matters audience for the show on "Will PA see a replay of Wisconsin protests? Who's to blame?" After seeing who he was sitting with, I did a little digging and learned that this person, who thumbed his nose at the law, is none other than John Werkheiser, the Executive VP of the LV Labor Council.

With this kind of leadership, is it any wonder that there were over 1,000 duplicate signatures on the Gracedale Initiative petitions?

But the flag's a nice touch.

You can also see Werkheiser here with Allentown City Council Prez Mike D'Amore, sippin' a cocktail.

Commonwealth Court Gives Green Light to Moravian Village

In a decision released on March 17, a three-judge panel of the Commonwealth Court has upheld a Bethlehem Zoning Hearing Board decision allowing Moravian Village to expand its retirement community. This ruling clears the way for a four-story memory care facility and a two-story medical office building along the east side of Stefko Boulevard at the site of the former Minsi Trail Inn and Krick's Bakery. This will be right across the street from what is already Bethlehem's largest senior housing project.

Developer Abe Atiyeh, who has been trying to market his own assisted living facility at the intersection of Center Street and Dewberry Avenue, threw up the legal roadblocks, both on a County and appellate level.

Unable to attract more than a handful of customers, Atiyeh sought his own variance in October, scrapping assisted living for luxury apartments. Zoners rejected his request, so now he's proposing a detox center.

Last March, Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano upheld the ZHB decision to allow Moravian Village to expand operations, ruling they provided an "articulate explanation" for a use variance. At that time, Atiyeh vowed that both Judge Giordano and zoners would be reversed.

But in an unanimous opinion written by Senior Judge James R. Kelly, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Judge Giordano and Bethlehem zoners had it right all along.

Under Bethlehem's proposed zoning ordinance, an assisted living facility would be a permitted use on the Stefko parcel. This possibility was noted, both by zoners and the courts.

In addition to releasing this decision at their March 23 meeting, zoners allowed Alan Jennings' CACLV to resize its parking lot at East Fifth Street to accommodate ten more vehicles. Architect Chris Portner explained that CACLV employees currently park on the street, presenting a problem for neighborhood residents. "This is as close to the Ordinance as you can get."

Zoning Officer Chris Bartleson cautioned that the plan already calls for a large shade tree in an island at the parking lot, but next door neighbor Josh Santana begged zoners to waive that requirement, claiming it would impose a hardship on his 84 year old mother, who would end up raking all the leaves. Zoners were satisfied by a proposal to place evergreens along Fifth Street.

Zoners finally approved a two-family detached dwelling at 1849 Auburn Street, owned by Mark Wingertzahn. In January, a contractor appeared, but not the owner. In February, it was a surveyor who had just been retained that day. With two strikes, the Wingertzahns finally brought their heavy hitter, Easton Attorney Steven N. Goudsouzian, who established that a previous zoning hearing board had approved a two-family home with a previous owner.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hanover Tp: Mulch Ado Over Nothing

Hanover Township pays an annual $5,000 fee for the use of Bethlehem's Compost Center, which is located at the intersection of Schoenersville Road and Eaton Avenue. In addition to this payment, they haul yard waste and leaves to the facility, and the tonnage of waste supplied helps Bethlehem qualify for DEP grants. For years, Bethlehem has reciprocated by loading Township trucks with mulch at no charge. "We kinda' scratched their back and they scratched ours," explains Public Works Director Vince Milite. But Hanover Township maintenance worker Jeremy Bucko learned on March 18 that Bethlehem now wants $10 for every cubic yard of mulch loaded onto Hanover Township's dump trucks.

Milite told Supervisors at their March 22 meeting that Bethlehem's Recycling Coordinator, Tom Marshall, now wants between $5 and $10 for every cubic yard of mulch loaded into Hanover trucks. Although Hanover Township has its own loading equipment, Marshall refused to authorize the use of Township loaders on City property.

Marshall told Milite that the City must now charge for mulch because the Compost Center is $200,000 in debt. Marshall gratuitously added that Township Manager Jay Finnigan "was wrong" on some information supplied to the Mayor. Finnigan has no idea what Marshall means.

"We help the City out. Now, he's going to have stockpiles of [mulch]," complained Milite. Vice Chair Glenn Walbert suggested that Milite buy whatever is "the best deal" for the Township. He added, "It may not be something you want to put on your front lawn, but it is fairly good mulch."

Township officials stopped short of declaring Bethlehem a no-mulch zone.

In other business, Supervisors acknowledged receipt of a conditional use application for the "Greenway Creative Learning Center" at 52 Highland Avenue, a preschool and daycare that will service families whose parents work in the industrial park. This is a "nature based curriculum" that will include fine arts, yoga and organic gardening for about 30 children under the age of 6. Children will be fed "whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible."

All of this natural activity will occur in a 1,657 sq ft unit in the middle of an industrial park.

Dent to Visit Bangor on Thursday

After nearly escaping with his life in Easton, LV Congressman Charlie Dent is in safe territory today. But he returns to Northampton County tomorrow, and this time, it's the Slate Belt. Bangor. Since our Congressman tries to stick to national issues, he should be safe. He'll be at Bangor Borough Hall (197 Pennsylvania Ave) between 10 and 11 AM. It's not often that you get a chance to talk to a member of the Appropriations Committee, but Dent is to be credited for making a great effort to make himself accessible throughout his district.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

832-Unit Development Planned in Bethlehem Township

For open space lovers, it was the best and worst of both worlds. At their March 21 meeting, Bethlehem Township Commissioners were given a brief overview of the Housenick Estate park. But they were also introduced to Madison Farms, a major subdivision that replaces the defunct “Field of Dreams.”

The Housenick Estate Park is a 55-acre tract donated to the Township in 2006, located off Christian Springs Road. A master plan study of the park will be presented to the public on Thursday, April 14, 7 PM at the Municipal Building. "It's very important that the citizens, who are going to be the beneficiaries of this estate for many decades to come, have their chance to understand what's coming," said Commissioner Thomas Nolan.

Over 100 acres, Madison Farms is a mixed residential and commercial village-style development located off Freemansburg Avenue. Developer KRE Group, represented by Tom Gough, described multi-family and single residences, totalling 832 units, consisting of 565 apartments, 210 town houses and 57 single-family homes. In addition, 17 acres slated for commercial development, surrounding an artificial pond. Gough hopes to attract restaurants and a large grocer.

Township Manager Howard Kutzler complimented the walkways, hidden driveways and garages, a private community center, and building heights that gradually increase from West to East, which will protect the views of Wagner Farms’ residents. Another “neat feature” is a walkway to the Township park, which will enable residents to walk or cycle there, instead of driving along Freemansburg Avenue. Kutzler likes what he calls a “nice Northeastern feel.”

Township Commissioners took no action on either plan. Madison Farms will be reviewed by the Planning Commission on March 28.

Below is a picture of the Housenick Estate Park plan.

The Gang of Four Aims For Dean Browning

Republican political consultant Tim Perskie sent me a news release yesterday afternoon on behalf of the Gang of Four. They are four LC GOP Comm'r candidates united in an Unholy Alliance to purge the heretic, Dean Browning. I'll get to that, but before I do so, I have to say something about this hired gun. I'm informed his services were sought back in February by none other than LC GOP Party Boss Wayne Woodman. He's the dude who told me he was Switzerland in this primary race. Wayne Woodman not only circulated petitions on behalf of three members of this Gang of Four, and now, his hand-picked consultant enters the fray. Instead of making me think about Switzerland, Woodman's conduct reminds me more of Pearl Harbor.

Another thing about Perskie's appearance that bothers me is that it pretty much establishes that candidates Lisa Scheller, Scott "Scrappleface" Ott and attorney Dave Najarian filed false affidavits at the elections office. At the same time they were claiming they had no intention of forming a committee, and had no intention of spending or raising more than $250, they had already enlisted the services of a paid and well-known consultant.

They had also formed a committee, but Ott apparently screwed it up and filed it in Harrisburg instead of Allentown.

I was very impressed to see campaign promises, sworn to under oath, promising to spend no money. But it was all a lie. They even were untruthful about forming a committee.

In their news release, these candidates proclaim that they stand for transparency and accountability. And they prove that by filing a bogus affidavit with their nomination papers.

On her web page, which was up and running before she filed her phony affidavit, Lisa Scheller makes no bones about asking for money, the way most rich people do. "Consider a contribution of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $25...but even $5 helps us buy stamps to let more people know about Lisa."

I'd like more people to know about Lisa, too.

Here's Perskie's "news" release about the Gang of Four.

Team of Four Republicans Mounts Commissioner Run, Sparked by Browning-Enabled 16% Tax Hike

Scott Ott, Lisa Scheller, Vic Mazziotti and David Najarian Call for Transparency, Accountability in Focused Effective Government

(March 21, 2011) -- Four of the Republican candidates for Lehigh County Commissioner announced today that they're running as a team in an effort to change the county's long-term pattern of outspending revenues. They aim to bring transparency and rigorous oversight to a county government which has bled reserves to zero then jacked up taxes 16 percent for 2011, with the threat of higher taxes to come.

The team -- Lisa Scheller, Scott Ott, Vic Mazziotti and David Najarian -- "bring a complementary mix of experience to the commissioner board," according to Ott, an online video news commentator who's developing a show on the U.S. Constitution for PJTV.com. In 2009, Ott narrowly lost his rookie bid to unseat County Executive Don Cunningham by just 862 votes of 41,000 cast.

"County government performs crucial functions," Ott said. "Vic, David, Lisa and I will work to make sure Lehigh County does only what it must do, and does it with efficiency, effectiveness, and ongoing innovation."

The four run as a team because to reform the process and reduce spending requires power to override an executive veto -- in other words, six votes. Republicans now have a 5-4 majority, but they didn't voted [sic] together on the 2011 budget, so County Executive Don Cunningham was able to "divide and conquer," Ott said.

"The problems that spurred me to run 2009 have continued," he said, "and the consequences, sadly, are as I predicted then -- a double-digit tax increase. But when Commissioner Chairman Dean Browning had a chance to do something about it, he voted to reject two lower-tax options, enabling the 16-percent tax hike to pass without a vote. So, he can say he didn't vote for the tax hike, but the truth is, he didn't vote against it. He actually voted with the Democrats to guarantee it."

Lisa Scheller, President and CEO of a global manufacturing firm, Silberline in Tamaqua, expressed shock at the lack of due diligence under Browning's chairmanship which led to the big tax-rate jump.

"Leaders take personal responsibility," said Scheller. "But Chairman Dean Browning blamed his fellow commissioners for failing to do the work, failing to hold important committee meetings to scrutinize the budget. What does it mean to be chairman? Where's the leadership?"

David C. Najarian, a Lynn Township Supervisor who helped to cut spending, restructure government and roll-back taxes, agreed, noting his team has a different perspective on the commissioners' relationship to the executive.

"Dean Browning says his job is to partner with the administration," Najarian said. "If Mr. Browning and the commissioners, and the public-sector union bosses, and the department heads are all partners in this ever-increasing spending, who represents the taxpayer?"

Vic Mazziotti, who just retired as Chief Financial Officer of Northampton County, where he helped to cut millions in spending and to bring in a balanced 2011 budget with no tax increase, said, "Browning's self-proclaimed conservatism is fine, as far as it goes. But voters evaluate behavior, not professed ideology. What he actually did was vote to kill the only two alternatives to the 16-percent tax increase. Browning owns this tax hike."

The May 17 Republican primary, Ott said, will be a referendum on Dean Browning's enabling of the tax hike, and "a definitive statement by GOP voters that the era of Republican excuses is over."


So there you have it. Four Lehigh County Commissioner candidates, three of whom lied under oath, want to replace a Commissioner who follows his conscience.

I contacted Dean Browning, and he has this response.

"I find it interesting that Scott Ott's claim to fame politically is that he LOST an election and it is ironic that Ott wants to run a single-issue campaign on property taxes when he doesn't even pay property taxes in Lehigh County. Republican voters will find it simply unacceptable that Ott, Scheller, Najarian and Mazziotti like to talk about cutting taxes and spending, but when you press them for details about what they would cut, all you get are a bunch of blank stares.

"The fact of the matter is that I am a local small businessman who helped to create jobs in Lehigh County. I took on the public employee union bosses before it became politically popular and I have successfully led the fight to make government more transparent and to responsibly cut spending and to shrink the size of county government. My opponents can try and misrepresent my record but I have the facts on my side and I look forward to running and winning on my record in this year's Republican primary."

District Judge Candidate Dick Yetter Blasts Single Moms

In a supposed judicial campaign that is increasingly becoming a comedy of errors, Wilson Borough DJ candidate Richard "I'm a lawyer" Yetter is now taking aim at single moms. At a recent meeting of Easton Democrats, Yetter asks, "How would everybody in this room like a single mother who has to be at home at 4:30 PM to chase her kids around the dining room table?"

The room gasped.

Don't take my word for it. Among those present were Easton City Council members Ken Brown, Sandy Vulcano and Eli Warner. Ask them.

Yetter is running against Shana Restucci and Rhonda Elias. Nonlawyers, they don't belong to the penis club, either. Unlike Yetter, they're not little Dicks.

Collections lawyer Yetter has consistently demonstrated that he lacks pretty much all of the qualities we look for in judges. Before the race got uder way, he tried to scare off one potential rival by threatening her with defamation. This legal scholar followed that up by falsely telling lawyers that their campaign contributions are tax deductible. Now we have his slam at single moms.

Yetter did not stop there. He told Easton Democrats that one of his opponents, Shana Restucci, "did not vote for Barack Obama." How he would know that is beyond me. His other rival, Rhonda Elias, is even worse than Shana. She's an Evil Republican! His criticism of both Restucci and Elias is a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which condemns political activity inappropriate to the office.

On his web page, Yetter claims to have the endorsement of Lehigh Valley Advocacy for Men and Families. According to the FaceBook page for that group, it's a nonprofit that really should not be endorsing political candidates. This group did not respond to my inquiries.

When Home Countries Refuse to Accept Deported Aliens


American courts have ruled that the federal government cannot legally hold criminal aliens in custody for longer than six months following their sentence of imprisonment if their home country refuses or unreasonably delays reentry, unless the individual is proven to be “specially dangerous.” As a result, more than 17,000 convicted criminals have been released in our communities because their home country refuses or delays repatriation.

LV Congressman Charlie Dent last week introduced legislation (H.R. 1156, the Accountability in Repatriation Act) to get tough with hoe countries refusing to accept convicted and deported aliens.

Dent’s bill requires quarterly reports to Congress listing the countries that refuse or unreasonably delay repatriation, including information on the total number of criminal aliens in the United States. To encourage cooperation, the Secretary will have the power to deny immigrant and non-immigrant (or diplomatic) visas to citizens and residents of the offending country. Under H.R. 1156, the Administration retains the authority to exercise diplomatic flexibility with an affected nation in order to protect American interests.

“It is simply unacceptable for a country to deny or delay its own citizens’ reentry after they have been scheduled for deportation, including those who have been convicted of a crime,” Dent said. “By applying pressure on foreign nations to act responsibly, H.R. 1156 is an appropriate first step to reversing this objectionable practice that drains federal resources. Furthermore, the United States can no longer continue to release criminals who face deportation into our communities, where they jeopardize the safety of American citizens.”

According to 2009 figures provided by ICE, eight countries, including Laos, Iran, Eritrea, Vietnam, Jamaica, China, India, and Ethiopia are currently refusing or unreasonably delaying the repatriation of over 147,000 aliens – increased from 139,000 in February 2008.

CACLV Ready To Help YOU With Tax Returns

The end of tax season is fast approaching and the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley continues to offer the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at locations throughout the Lehigh Valley. CACLV has already helped many families to maximize their tax returns this year, and still has plenty of resources to assist hundreds more. The program will run until the last day of tax season, which has been extended to April 18 this year, in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Mt. Bethel.

Each site will have volunteers, trained by the Internal Revenue Service, to perform tax returns for households with incomes less than $49,000. Eligible families could receive and additional $1,000 and $2,500 from the Child Tax and Education Tax credits, respectively. So far this year, VITA volunteers have prepared 929 tax returns and helped local taxpayers to receive $1,654,595 in federal refunds.

Operating hours vary at the four site locations. The Allentown site, at 824 Hamilton Street, is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1PM – 7PM, and Saturdays from 10AM – 2PM. The Bethlehem VITA site is hosted at CACLV’s Forte building at 1337 E. 5th Street and is open on Mondays from 11AM – 7PM. Easton Area Public Library, at 515 Church Street, hosts the Easton VITA site on Tuesdays from 2PM – 7PM and Saturdays from 10AM – 2PM. The Mt. Bethel site is held at Representative Joe Emrick’s Office at 5 Mt. Bethel Plaza on Thursdays from 12PM – 5PM.

For additional information please visit CACLV’s website at www.caclv.org, contact VITA Project Coordinator Susan Zlotnick at szlotnick@caclv.org or call the tax hotline at 484-893-1040. No appointment is necessary except for the Mt. Bethel location.

Dent Town Halls Scheduled For Kempton, New Tripoli

LV Congressman Charlie Dent will be on the road again this Wednesday. As he did in Easton on Friday, he'll open the floor up to residents. Members of his staff will also be on hand to assist residents with personal casework involving federal agencies.

New Tripoli Office Hours
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 from 3:00 to 4:00 PM
New Tripoli Fire Company
7242 Decatur Street
New Tripoli, PA

Kempton Office Hours
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 from 6:30 to 7:30 PM
Kempton Fire Hall
2461 Route 143
Kempton, PA

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Best Time of Year


It's started. Magic time!

Charlie Dent Faces a Tough Crowd

It was a tough crowd. About forty people were in Northampton County Council's Star Chamber for a Friday morning town hall with LV Congressman Charlie Dent.

In addition to sad stories some constituents who are suffering in a bad economy, some people are just angry at their government. One woman went on for a good ten minutes, criticizing pretty much everything and everybody, without bothering to ask a question. She repeatedly interrupted those who did. At times, things got pretty raucous. At one point, Dent had to ask the audience to settle down. For a few moments, I thought I was in a Council meeting.

I videotaped Dent's positions on a few issues, and thought I'd share them with you.

What's Wrong With Obamacare?

"There's no real cost control built into that law. Some will argue there is. I will respectfully say there is no real cost control." While acknowledging that providing more coverage for people in need is a "noble goal," Dent predicts the system will collapse. He points to Massachusetts, where the cost of care is going up and the ability of the taxpayer to meet that cost is limited. As a result, Massachusetts is "cutting back. They're delaying, denying. They don't have enough providers up there to care for everybody.

What Dent proposes is a "high risk pool" for those with pre-existing conditions, and suggests sudsidizing those without ability to pay. "The pool created in the law is inadequate," claims Dent.

"Half of the uninsured in this country are under the age of 35, many of whom are insurable, and they need to get into lower premium, higher deductible policies, married to a catastrophic coverage."

About Those Nukes ...

Although Dent supports tax credits for wind and solar energy, he said we have to be "realistic" about out short term energy needs. Coal supplies 60% of Pennsylvania's energy needs, and 50% nationally. Natrual gas and nuclear energy are the other two principle sources. Because of what has happened in Japan, nuclear may become "less of the mix." But he cautioned that using less nuclear means more natural gas and coal.

Q. Did you see the list of the highest risk plants in the U.S.? Nuclear plants. Three of them are in Pennsylvania because they were not designed for earthquakes and now they're finding there are fault lines.

Dent indicated there will be all sorts of reviews and studies in the aftermath of the Japanese tragedy.

We Don't Need No Steenkin' Frac Act

Blogger Noel Jones, concerned about safe drinking water, pressed Dent on adopting a National Frac Act. Dent flatly stated that this proposal, which went nowhere last year in a Democratic House, is proposed by a House member who actually is opposed to fracking.

Noel Jones: "We don't want to get cancer and then find out it's bad for us."

Dent: "I think you have to have some of these conversations with the state. I've had confidence in the state DEP to monitor the gas drilling operation and, also, clean water. They have that capacity. I think it's appropriate that they deal with this issue."

Passenger Rail Too Costly.

Referring to a LVEDC and County-sponsored study, Dent asked everyone not to "shoot the messenger," but pointed out that passengers would only be paying 22 cents for every dollar of operating costs. "That's a pretty big delta there." Northampton County Exec John Stoffa, sitting in the audience, confirmed that Dent had stated the facts accurately. Dent noted that the bus service into NJ and NYC is "pretty good."

Be a Maverick

LEPOCO's Sue Ravitz is certainly one of Dent's harshest critics. But she was downright nice to him on Friday.

"I think you're a sweet human being. I know you're a church-going person, even though you had me arrested in your office ... .

Dent: "I didn't have you arrested."

She insisted he did, "but I still respect you as a person who's basically a decent human being." And a Republican, damn it! "Here and there you veer away." She challenged Dent to be a "Maverick."

Sharpe's Dull Edge

As I predicted last week, Mercedes-driving Attorney Robert Sharpe was knocked out of Lehigh County Court in a matter of minutes on Friday. Sharpe had challenged District Attorney Jim Martin's nomination petition, but he's a Democrat and Martin's a Republican. If you want to challenge a party nomination, you have to be a member of that party. Any half decent lawyer could figure that out in about five minutes by looking at something called a law book. Next time, Sharpe might want to think about that instead of writing news releases to hand out in court.

Instead of a brief, Not-so-Sharpe handed out a news release, trying to cover his tracks. According to that, he knew the law all along and was simply objecting to the "political mischief" of using a straw party to challenge a nomination petition.

I see. But gee, wouldn't he himself be a strw party for whomever paid him to file this challenge?

The truth is that Not-so just did not know the law, and taxpayer money was wasted to educate him. This became apparent to people in Lehigh County's crowded voter registration office last week, when they had an unusual customer - the District Attorney. He was there, apparently, to request a copy of Sharpe's voter registration.

"I'd have to be pretty foolish to file this action if I were not a registered Democrat."

That smug remark came from Not-so-Sharpe, who was in the office as well. He apparently thought he had to be a Democrat ... until he read this blog on Thursday.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Barron Makes Acusations, But Can't Answer Them


You may think that being a bottom-feeding blogger is easy. Sure, women throw themselves at me all the time. People hound me for autographs, too. But there's a dark side. When I take controversial positions, I really piss people off, sometimes without even trying.

It's a gift.

Over the past five years, I've been called just about everything, from pedophile to cross-dresser to drunken disbarred attorney. I've been impersonated. I've been accused of posting comments under assumed names or anonymously. I've received anonymous letters that depict me in homosexual poses. There's been the occasional death threat, and recently, one of my readers began emailing me pictures of Hermann Göring's corpse.

Wishful thinking, I suppose.

All of this goes with the territory. Besides, some of these attacks are true. I really am a drunken disbarred lawyer. I really did get caught, stark naked, in the men's room by Court Administrator Jim Onembo after going in there to change out of sweaty bike clothing on a hot day. I really did prance through the courthouse in a dress on a dare from a gay friend, who looked really good in drag. I even asked him out, but he shot me down.

But even I was unprepared for last week's assault. In a news conference with Channel 69, Gracedale lawyer Larry Otter claimed I might be going to jail. In emails, he told me I was "collateral damage" and should drop my signature challenge to the Gracedale referendum. Apparently, my contacts with a County lawyer were just like Bonusgate.

In the initial rush to judgment, even Council President John Cusick piled on, telling a Morning Call reporter that "perhaps" Ron Angle and I had misrepresented ourselves as "private citizens."

According to Controller Steve Barron, "It's clear the [Stoffa] administration was working with the people who brought the private petition challenge." Apparently, it was a crime for me to have talked and shared cases with the attorneys who represent the County. Barron's beef is that taxpayers were funding my litigation, which was news to me. He put two and two together and came up with five. He announced his faux audit to a 3' tall reporter who "cornered" him, but never bothered disclosing it to the Stoffa administration.

On Wednesday, Barron was walking the halls, telling employees who would listen to him that "John [Stoffa] is in big trouble." A Channel 69 reporter was claiming that the County had just given me all 507 Gracedale petition copies without payment because the elections office had no record of a receipt. Never mind that I never asked for copies, and just subpoenaed those records.

That was enough for me. On Wednesday afternoon, at a Council Finance meeting attended by Barron, I blasted both him and John Cusick for their irresponsible accusations. "I am really sick and tired of the politics and pandering to unions going on by people who consider their own reelection more important than the best interests of the County." I asked Council President Cusick to hold Barron accountable for his pandering to unions, just as Cusick held Barron responsible last year when our "nonpolitical" controller was caught pandering to unions at T-Mobile.

When it was Barron's turn to talk, he had no audit reports concerning Gracedale, and Cusick had to ask him about what bothered him. Apparently, the mere fact that Eckert spoke to me and Angle, and that they were preparing for their own lawsuit, raised "red flags." But when Ron Angle confronted Barron about his irresponsible statements, all the Controller could do was run from the podium. When asked specifically about telephone calls, all Barron could do was throw his hands in the air.

I videotaped this confrontation, and you can judge it for yourself. In my assessment, it was the Bulldog at his best.

Ironically, neither The Morning Call nor Channel 69 was there.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stoffa Makes Point About Third Term

Late last night, somebody posted this comment anonymously. "Stoffa deserves a third term if he wants it---best executive ever. No tax increase in 7 years except for a small one for open space. He is my hero."

He just may be thinking about it.

At last night's Northampton County Council meeting, Lamont McClure was playing Grand Inquisitor and trying his best to get some political mileage out of the goofy Bonusgate comparison made by Gracedale lawyer Larry Otter. After listening to McClure's attempt to throw stones at a procedure approved in advance by the then Commissioner of the Bureau of Elections, Stoffa finally had enough and approached the podium himself.

McClure insisted, absurdly, that the County has no authority to challenge an initiative petition designed to prevent it from selling one of its own assets. After hearing that, Stoffa was on his feet, telling McClure the County would have had every right to bring its own initiative challenge. "We did nothing wrong," he said, noting that the law firm hired by the County was doing exactly what it was authorized to do.

"You know what I'm going to do for my third term? I'm going to 25 cemeteries. I'm going to take the names off the tombstones. I'm going to fabricate addresses, and have people sign it, and submit it to the Elections Commission. That's what I'm gonna' do, just to test the system."

Although McClure pretended that Stoffa's point went right over his head, what Stoffa was saying is that under the reasoning advanced by McClure and the Otter, a County government would have no recourse in the face of pervasive election fraud.

O'Hare, Angle Face Morganelli's Spanish Inquisition

Ron Angle and I are in the clear, baby! That's right. During last night's Northampton County Council meeting, Grand Inquisitor Lamont McClure reluctantly admitted that they got nothing on us. Nothing. "I'm not troubled by anything I saw in the bills related to him [O'Hare], yet." So despite the ominous warning of self-proclaimed election law expert Larry the Otter that people might be going to jail, followed by absurd comparisons to Bonusgate, I've decided to put off buying rubber underwear for the next week or two.

Channel 69 and all kinds of "concerned" citizens have been calling DA John Morganelli, demanding that he do something. Well, lay off, people. Morganelli dragged both of us into a specially convened Gracedalegate Grand Jury yesterday afternoon. The panel consists completely of members of the Northampton County Democratic Committee. "It's all I could get on such short notice," explained Morganelli.

His special assistant prosecutor? The Spanish Inquisition.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

Grand Jury Testimony of Bernie O'Hare, aka Bernard V. O'Hare III, aka the Pope of Blogging, aka BO, aka Bernie O'Hater, aka Kato.

Morganelli: Cardinal, read the charges.

Cardinal Garvin: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the Holy Democratic party, in that you support Republican candidates and prefer good government to partisan politics. Confess!

Q. Your name?

A. I plead the Fifth.

Q. You'r invoking your right against self-incrimination already?

A. No, I want a drink.

Q. You would have us believe you were not secretly represented by Eckert Seamans, isn't that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Mr. O'Hare, isn't it a fact that you lost your license to practice law for forgery?

A. I didn't lose it. It was taken away. There's a difference.

Q. Can you explain why you've suddenly started getting all these title search orders from Eckert Seamans?

A. I am?

Q. Well, they just deposited $1,000 in your bank account.

A. Are you sure that isn't money from Angle?

Q. You've started drinking again, haven't you?

A. Why, what have you got?

Q. What sick mind would call you Kato? You're not Asian and you're not skinny.

A. Yes, I am.


Grand Jury Testimony of Ron Angle, aka the Emperor, aka Green Hornet

Q. Can you state your name?

A. Everybody knows me, you gutter snipe. I just did a poll and 99% of the East Coast knows me. The other 1% is lying.

Q. Can you produce that poll?

A. One of my cows just ate it. Can I light my cigar in here?

Q. Did you at one time have a radio show?

A. Yes, I did, you filthy prostitute. I had a morning radio show called the Ron Angle show and it featured me, Ron Angle. It was quite good, too. I did a poll and 99% of the Lehigh Valley tuned in every morning and the other 1% is lying.

Q. Can you produce that poll?

A. Listen, I don't give a damn if you run my ass out of office next year. I've got a bunker.

Q. Can you tell me how many wills you forged?

A. That hasn't been proven, you political hack.


After it was over, Angle and I cut a deal with Morganelli and sold out Stoffa. After all, he's older than us and is already missing a few fingers. Nobody will try to rape him in jail.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Can You Contribute to The Bernie O'Hare Legal Defense Fund?

I'm opening a Legal Defense Fund today. Who knows? If I get enough money, I might be able to hire Eckert Seamans, the law firm that supposedly is already secretly representing me. Let me tell you the story.

In a series of emails Tuesday night, Gracedale legal gunslinger Larry Otter told me to withdraw my appeal. He claimed "taxpayer funds where [sic] used for partisan political purposes in mounting the petition challenges by O'Hare / Angle and Stoffa." I had no idea that the Gracedale initiative was a "partisan" political matter, but Larry the Otter says so. I had no idea that taxpayer money funded my petition challenge, but Larry the Otter says so.

He claims this is just like Bonusgate.

"I am referring this to District Attorney Morganelli for further action," he warns me. "I also plan to file a motion to reconsider the fee question in light of this news. You may want to consider WITHDRAWING YOUR APPEAL forthwith."

Apparently, Northampton County Exec John Stoffa, Council member Ron Angle and I are hardened criminals. I'm not quite as evil as Stoffa and Angle, but I'm still pretty bad. "You may be collateral damage," he tells me.

Yesterday, the Otter engaged in a bit of litigation by news conference, telling Channel 69, that he's calling on the DA, Attorney General and even the frickin' Spanish Inquisition to break out the thumbscrews.

That's bad news for Stoffa, who already is missing a finger or two.

"This is the same case. People went to jail. I think the same thing might happen here."

There 'ya have it.

Reporter Bo Koldcrow dutifully laps it all up, too, claiming that Bonusgate "set a legal precedence [sic] that taxpayer dollars couldn't be spent on petition challenges." Of course, that's nonsense. The County most certainly has every right to spend taxpayer dollars to defend the Home Rule Charter, even from an initiative petition. It also has every right to spend its resources in a nonpartisan matter like the Gracedale initiative that directly affects the County, especially when there's pervasive election fraud.

There's another little hole in Otter's theory. Not one cent of taxpayer money ever funded my petition challenge. That litigation actually saved taxpayers many thousands of dollars because it spared the County the need to file its own signature challenge.

But the hounds are loose, howling away. Yesterday, 69's hound dog Bo Koldcock barged into Stoffa's office, cameras whirring, demanding to know why the County had given me copies of the Initiative Petition for free. Fortunately, he had a cameraman with him to tell him which way to go. Taxpayer money must have been used to finance my litigation, Bo charged, claiming that the elections office was unable to produce a single receipt to me for copies of all those nomination petitions.

This sounds damning, doncha' think? Believe it or not, the Chief Exec of a $300 million operation was unable to answer Bo's charge about receipts for what would have amounted to $126.75.

The reason Bo was unable to get those receipts is because I never asked for copies. I spent 2 weeks scouring the originals, which are easier to read, and when it was time to file suit, I subpoenaed the records.

Sorry, Bo. By the way, who the hell names their kids Bo, anyway? He sounds like he's a Shih Tzu.

Larry Otter's motive is pretty clear. He wants me to drop the Gracedale appeal. My brief must have him concerned. He also seems to have forgotten that threatening criminal prosecution to gain advantage in a civil matter, is a violation of the Pa. Rules of Professional Responsibility. It's also funny how investigative reporter Bo never asked Election Law Expert Otter about a Commonwealth Court finding that Larry the Otter was "disingenuous." In an election case. He was ordered to pay attorney fees, too.

Marlin Perkisn, Esq., reminds me that otters are part of the weasel family.

Speaking of unethical behavior, Northampton County Controller Steve Barron, censured by County Council last year for his threats to nonunion T-Mobile, must be worried as all hell about Steve Salveson's challenge. In addition to his usual union pandering, he's now doing audits by news conference. Instead of disclosing his findings to the administration or County Council, he's going right to the press with ridiculous and unfounded complaints.

He did that with The Morning Call's Jenna Portnoy earlier this week, insinuating that my litigation was funded, directly or indirectly, by taxpayers.

Late yesterday afternoon, there was a Finance Committee meeting and I demanded that Barron produce his findings. When the Northampton County Bulldog sunk his teeth into him, Barron ran away from the podium with his tail between his legs. Funny how all these accusations can be made when our backs are turned, but when we face our accuser, he runs away like a girly boy.

You can read about that in the post below.

Barron Blasted For Politicizing Controller's Office

At yesterday's Finance Committee meeting, presided over by John Cusick, I came out firing. I've had enough of the insinuations concerning taxpayer funding of my Gracedale litigation, and wanted to make it very clear that at no time was any taxpayer money used to finance that litigation. I also wanted to make clear that my litigation was my own work product, not the result of collaboration with County lawyers.

The person who's been making these insinuations, Northampton County Controller Steve Barron, was there. So I demanded that, instead of doing his audits by newspaper, he tell Council, the Administration, and me exactly what we are supposed to have done that is wrong.

I was so angry, I can't tell you accurately what I said. Sarah Cassi's Express Times' account, which is much more objective than mine, is here. But I can tell you about a few others.

Director of Administration John Conklin: "Why wouldn't you come to us and ask the question before going to the newspapers? That suggests impropriety of a professional administration that's here, conducting the business."

Barron had no answer.

When Angle pressed him about going to the press first, Barron claimed that Jenna Portnoy, who is about 3' tall, "cornered" him and forced him to tell her everything.

"The day before I looked through the bill, I was pandering, I mean pondering ....

Angle: "You had that right. You were pandering."

Barron claimed there were witnesses to this vicious ambush.

Angle: "Would you agree, Mr. Barron, that your job as County Controller should be a very nonpolitical job?"

"Generally, yes. I do run for office."

Angle: "Well, that's pretty evident. This year, you're running for office and I see it in the newspaper about twice a week. ...

Angle: "Would you call it nonpolitical to be over at Verizon, making threats to the people who manage Verizon? Would you say that's nonpolitical?"

Barron: "Verizon?"

Angle: "T-Mobile. You can play dumb if you want. It comes natural."

Barron: "You know - um - ah"

Angle: "Was that nonpolitical?" OK. You were over at Gracedale pandering to the union people. Was that nonpolitical? At every event the Gracedale unions have, you're at every one of their events. Is that nonpolitical?"

Barron: "I'm friends with those people and I see them at Gracedale -"

Angle: "You're lifelong friends with all the union people at Gracedale. I understand. ... When you first took this job, I remember you at this podium telling us that you would make this your full time job, that it was a sizable pay increase from your previous job, and you'd be on the job full time.

Barron: "I did."

Angle: "How many hours a week do you work in your office?"

Barron: "Hard to say."

Angle: "Hard to say? If I were to tell you that people who are very familiar with your office tell me you may work 15 to 17 hours per week, actually in that office or in these buildings, auditing, would they be correct?"

Barron: "I - you know, Ron - you see me in the courthouse, I'm everywhere."

Angle: "A simple question, Mr. Barron. My question was simple. How many hours a week are you in that office across the street or in her auditing stuff."

Barron: "I'm done."

Barron then walked away from the podium, without answering Angle.

As Barron walked to his seat in the rear, Angle stated, "Your specialty is gutter-sniping, dealing with these people behind the scenes."

Angle: "You got a Solicitor, Mr. Barron, Timothy Brennan. Can you tell me how much money Mr. Brennan has donated to your campaign since you've been in office?"

Barron (from his seat in the peanut gallery): "I dunno."

Angle: "Does he routinely send money to you every so many months?"

Barron: "He's my friend."

Angle: "Oh, he's your friend. Does he have a County political job as a Solicitor for you and he's on the County payroll? He routinely pays you ... Your Solicitor on a routine business day pays you for that job. You want to bad mouth Mr. Stoffa? I never seen him take a nickel from anybody he shouldn't take a nickel from. But you take that money and you want to make comments to the newspapers that there's something wrong because Eckert Seamans made four telephone calls to me, to update me on the sale? Are you saying that was wrong?"

Barron had no answer.

Angle: "You know what, Mr. Barron. You are a political hack of the highest order. You're over at T-Mobile, pandering to unions. You're over at Gracedale, pandering to the unions. You are a gutless individual who spends 15 hours or less per week in that office. You tell the other people you're doing work at home when, in reality, you're catering to the unions, Mr. Barron. So don't tell me about the wonderful job. ... ."

"I wish you success in your election with the unions because if there's anything I've learned, there's a lot of people who don't belong to unions who also vote, Mr. Barron.

"Many people may vote against me because of Gracedale because I'm making a decision, solely based on I believe it's the only decision I can make under the circumstances. I won't pander or cater to anybody and I don't give a damn if you run my ass out of office next year. So be it. I can leave here saying every decision I made here was the right decision. I don't pander over at T-Mobile. I don't pander over at Gracedale, I don't go to all of these events. I don't bad mouth other people on stuff that there's no truth.

"Four calls from Eckert Seamans, they called me. Yet you got to the newspapers and told them a big story and they loved it. They made front page news out of those stories. There wasn't an ounce of truth in any of it, Mr. Barron. But let the record show when you draw u the minutes that Mr. Barron retreated to his seat in the audience and refused to talk."

After that, Barron ran the hell out of there.