|Francis Loughney travels 26 miles to Hanover ZHB|
Now unions have always been pretty controversial. But you rarely see them at zoning hearings. That's why Ken Kraft, a business agent with IUPAT AFLCIO AbBCDEFG, could sit on Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board.
But something strange happened last night in Hanover Township.
Although he lives in New Tripoli, 26-miles away, Francis Loughney was at the Hanover Township Zoning Board. He made this trip to oppose an application for four wall-mounted signs requested by Faulkner Chevrolet Cadillac at 298 Stoke Park Road.
It should have been a snoozefest. I mean, who really gives a shit about 4 wall-mounted signs saying things like "Chevrolet" or "Cadillac"?
Loughney did. Dressed neatly, he questioned every witness. He even attempted to interrogate Faulkner's attorney, Tom Maloney. Citing concerns about safety and lighting, the New Tripoli resident urged zoners to deny the appeal. But when Maloney had a few questions of his own, Loughney refused to answer him.
"Isn't it true that you've opposed this project from the beginning?" asked Maloney.
"I don't have to answer that question," snapped Loughney. "You're not a judge."
Loughney objected to Maloney's tone, but ZHB Solicitor Ted Lewis told ruled there was nothing wrong with Maloney's tone or his question.
"Aren't you a member of the Carpenters' Union?" asked Maloney.
"Proud member," corrected Loughney, who is also a business agent and organizer for the Carpenters' Union.
"Isn't that one of the reasons why you're here? asked Maloney, who wanted to know Loughney's role in an earlier union protest at the Faulkner construction site.
Loughney refused to answer Maloney, which prompted the barrister to wonder why zoners should believe anyone who won't answer questions.
|Faulkner's Attorney, Tom Maloney|
Faulkner was eventually given a green light for three of the four wall-mounted signs requested.
Sam Borrelli, President at Faulkner Chevrolet Cadillac, was a bit puzzled by the union opposition. He claimed that both nonunion and union labor was being used at the construction site. In addition to giving work to the low bidder, Borrelli told me he's motivated to use businesses that buy his cars. "It's all about dealing with people who deal with us."
When unions picketed his site, Borrelli states he even allowed them to pitch a tent on his property. But after being leafleted by union members, some customers complained directly to the Township, which then ended the party because there was no permit.
As he was leaving, Loughney declined to respond to Borrelli's statements. But he vowed he will return.
Maloney, who is about 18 feet tall, was going out the door after Loughney, but I suggested he should wait a few minutes.
"Give them some time to slash your tires," I advised my former Constitutional law professor.
I recognized Loughney, who does seem like a decent chap despite his little tiff with Maloney. In March, Loughney was one of about thirty trade union members who asked Hanover Supervisors to withdraw a controversial lawsuit holding up a hockey arena in Allentown. They worried about all the constructions jobs, and spoke eloquently. But Supervisors were just as worried and just as eloquent about their tax dollars being diverted. The Township did drop the lawsuit, but not until that state agreed that it would no longer use township taxes to fund the arena and other projects in Allentown.