Thursday, May 02, 2013

Donchez Denies Fear Monger Charges Leveled by Reynolds



At a Monday news conference, Mayoral candidate Willie Reynolds accused opponent Bob Donchez of "fear mongering" with respect to the state of City finances. I asked Bob about this at a news conference yesterday.

"My response to that is the record speaks for itself. Number one, we had a total fund negative balance of over $14 million, based on the audit report two years ago. Number two, we had transfers done without the approval of Council, to balance the general fund. Three, we've taken money from the water and sewer fund to balance the general fund. Four, we have one time revenue sources [last year was the sale of a parking lot] to balance the general fund.

"So it's not a term to use - I think that's totally inapprop... - this is the record. Those are the facts.

"I think when you look at the cost of the pensions, when you look at the increase in medical benefits, the rate of growth there is way ahead of the growth of our new businesses coming in to to industrial parks.

"These are the facts. I think any Mayor, whether it's myself or Mr. Reynolds, is going to have to look at fiscal issues, front and center. It's important for us to be honest with the voters.

"We also borrowed money to pay the bills and we put more debt on the taxpayers.

"That's the reality of the situation and the public needs to know that.

***

"We didn't grow our way out of our financial situation. We actually borrowed our way out of our financial situation."

In addition to painting a realistic picture of Bethlehem finances, where there have been improvements over the last two years, Donchez also addressed charges that he's running a dirty campaign. In one mailer designed to convey the impression that Willie is immature, he used an old photo of Willie, along with Willie's now famous "hot girlfriend" remark.

Donchez acknowledged that he is running a "spirited" campaign, but pointed out that he has about ten mailers and all the rest of them are positive pieces. "I have a record. Mr. Reynolds has a record. I stand by my mailers," Donchez said, noting that they are "compare and contrast" pieces.

Calling the "fear monger" charge a "harsh term", Donchez also bristled at the suggestion that he is an "insider," noting Reynolds' close connection to Mayor Callahan.

But he also noted that at 8 PM on election day, "the politics ends."

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Donchez is right, Callahan should be indicted; not elected to anything. Wow. What a mess he's leaving.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He is not leaving behind a mess. In 2010, the City as in dire financial straights, and that is what Donchez was stressing. It s why I was hammering Callahan at the time myself. Since 2010, the City has made great strides to right its financial ship. It has finished the last two years with a cash balance. Of the three Cities, it is the most fiscally sound. But Callahan himself has said it is by no mean out of the woods. Those pension costs, along with health benefits, are a substantial drain. Callahan has cut personnel while increasing public safety personnel. He has used CI and other innovations to increase efficiencies. But the City is by no means out of the woods.

You are attempting to make points for the Exec race. I am trying to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

Donchez is part of the problem. He has been on council for 17 years. He was president of council and did nothing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, that same argument could be used to attack Reynold's, who has chaired the City's finance committee. The City's financial problems started bc the Steel closed down. That's when the practice of juggling money between accounts began.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dent was right about Callahan.

Anonymous said...

Bernie ..when arYou going to stop defending Callahan??? God mna what did He promise you????? If anyone did half of what He did to finacially they would be in prison..and YOU know it ...YOU COWARD!!!!

Anonymous said...

A leader has to do what a leader has to do: No harm, no foul...

Bernie O'Hare said...

How ironic it is to be accused of cowardice by a person who lacks the courage to identify herself. I am not defending Callahan, but am instead telling the truth. In 2010, City finances were in the tank, and I was among those pointing it out and being taken to task for it by anonymous cowards like you. Since 2010, Bethlehem has made great strides. It finished the last 2 years with a positive cash balance. It used CI to create efficiencies such as an autmoatic vehicle locator (AVL) to keep track of the City fleet. It pared the workforce to its lowest level since records have been kept. It stopped the practice of juggling money between accounts without Council approval. It made many positive changes. This is thanks to Council, to the people who attend meetings and to Callahan. He listened to what others said, and that is to his credit. As Bob D points out, the City is by no means out of the woods. Callahan would tell you that himself. But the notion that he created the fiscal mess is wrong. He made changes that will help Bethlehem out of it. Once of the things not noticed is that he has paid down debt by $90 million plus. He helped grow the tax base with $2 billion in investment and 5,500 jobs. So when you come up for air and take a breath or two, do some reading.

Anonymous said...

What did Bob do about anything financially while he was on Council or as Council President the last 17 years or while he was on the Council's Finance Committee? Answer, nothing! Just sat there like a bump on a log. Bob may be a "nice" guy but he is not capable of leading the City. If he becomes Mayor Bethlehem will regress.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If that is so, then I guess you can make the same argument against Willie Reynolds, who chairs the City's finance committee. But it is not so. Both Willie and Bob have made efforts to contain costs. How do you contain a pension that skyrockets 55% in one year? If you can solve that one, you should be King of the World.

Anonymous said...

Reynolds: 6 years on Council, last 4 years as finance chair. Voted against budgets and tax increases. After hitting rock bottom, the city improved under his watch as finance chair.

Donchez: 18 years on council. 8 years as Council President. Voted for every tax increase and every budget. He helped create the problem in the first place. He was there when the slide started, and supported every budget.

Donchez is not the solution, he is the problem.

(BTW: Bob, that is a compare and contract piece. You need to talk about yourself when you compare and contrast. Your negative mailers were attack ads, not compare and contrast pieces).

Bernie O'Hare said...

Somehow, I am not getting the compare and contrast here. They are both members of Council. Willie chairs the Finance Committee. If you want to claim that Donchez is part of the problem, then I don't see how Willie escapes the same condemnation.

Anonymous said...

Willie entered into a problem, if as you say there was one that has now been corrected, and it was corrected while he was there.

Bob was there when the problem started, did nothing to stop the problem from occurring, and now is telling us he is the solution to the problem. (a problem you say has been corrected by Callahan).

BTW, I agree that Callahan made the right adjustments, and created a real surplus the last 2 years.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The problem has not been corrected, as Callahan himself can tell you. Those pensions and health benefits will be a drain on City resources for at least the next 5 years. Those pension agreements were negotiated at better times, and to be honest, before Donchez, Willie or Callahan. But if you want to blame Donchez, you have to blame Willie, too.

Anonymous said...

You have to blame Callahan as well as Willie and Donchez. I love how John talks about the surplus when he raised taxes to create the surplus so things would look good in the city while he was running for exec!

Bernie O'Hare said...

... or maybe he raised taxes bc he needed to do so. The pension payment alone was $2 MM more than the casino host fee. Nether he, Willie, not Bob had a hand in negotiating those. And those who did had no crystal ball to foresee the death of the Steel or the downturn in the economy. Yet Bethlehem is in better shape fiscally than any of the three cities in the LV. It is listed as one of the 100 best places to live. It is listed as one of the 100 best places in which to do business. And it is listed as the safest city in the state. Not a bad record.

Whoever is elected has his work cut out for him, but Callahan has turned the City around. That's the real reason I've gone from critic to supporter.

Anonymous said...

You choose to blame Willie. Donchez supported every budget he now is blaming for the problems.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't choose to blame Willie. I choose to point out the logical absurdity of your argument. The truth is that neither is to blame. They had nothing to do with the Steel closing down. They had nothing to do with skyrocketing pensions or medical benefits. They did have something to do with righting the financial ship of state. Both of them.

Anonymous said...

Remeber Bernie... Callahan is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Sad he is fooling you so easily.

Anonymous said...

You have deleted all the late night comments. Sad.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is sad that you anonymously post filth.

Anonymous said...

Donchez's statements about how Callahan's Bethlehem was run are consistent with Charlie Dent's. Really similar. I know you're a fair weather Callahan fan. And it likely wasn't Bob's intention to backhand John (although John easily survives his race because his competition is so weak). But Donchez and Dent have eerily similar takes on Callahan.

Anonymous said...

Lets be honest here. If he believes Bethlehem is in such a mess where was he? He, along with every council member sat by doing nothing when these transfer of funds were being done. Why? Because they knew it was necessary. Don't tell me they didn't know, they're not blind, they permitted these tactics to happen because it needed to be done.