Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Exec Candidates in Both Counties to Appear at "Top 1% Only" Forum

County Executive candidates in both Lehigh and Northampton County, whether Democrat or Republican, like to tell you they're all about transparency and accountability. Yet every one of them has agreed to participate in an exclusive May 13 candidate forum in which neither the press nor the unwashed masses will be permitted to attend.

"This event is open only to LVEDC [Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation] board members and investors and Lehigh Valley Partnership members," huffs a "news" release. Bluebloods only. And like lambs being lead to slaughter, every stinkin' Exec candidate has made very clear just how much they really care about public participation in government.

There is absolutely no reason why a forum "on jobs, economic development and regionalism" should be conducted secretly. One very legitimate criticism of both LVEDC and the unelected aristocrats who call themselves the Lehigh Valley Partnership is that they operate in the shadows, away from the glare of public scrutiny.

What regional ideas will be discussed? Bi-County health? Passenger rail? More hotel taxes? These are all topics that demand public scrutiny, not some meeting in the back room with the muckety mucks.

Updated 9 AM: I have sent this email to each Executive candidate:

Dear Exec Candidate:

You have agreed to a candidate forum to discuss important issues related to jobs, economic growth and regionalism. But this candidate forum will be open only to members of LVEDC's board members and investors and members of the Lehigh Valley Partnership, our unelected aristocracy. You cannot claim to be transparent while meeting in the back room with the rich guys. I am asking that you decline to appear at this forum unless ALL members of the public are invited. You are running to represent us all, not just them. Thank you.

I would appreciate a reply.


Updated 10:30 AM: LVEDC CEO Don Cunningham has told a candidate that, despite the clear language in a so-called news release, this meeting will be open to members of the press and guests of the candidates. So I could probably wrangle my way in there by claiming that I am a guest of asbestos lawyer Lamont McClure.

There's also a second version of this news release, written by CEO Don Cunningham. It does not appear on the web version, but was just emailed to me by the LVEDC. This one states that the Forum "is open only to LVEDC board members and investors and Lehigh Valley Partnership members. The Lehigh Valley news media will be invited to report on the Forum." Don't know if that includes bottom-feeding bloggers.

I am also warned, "this E-mail may contain confidential and privileged information intended only for the use of the person(s) named above. Any unauthorized use of this E-mail or attached documents is strictly prohibited. Further, this NOTICE serves as a disclaimer of any liability on the part of the sender in failing to keep this information confidential. Nothing in this E-mail shall be construed as legal advice or as establishing an agency relationship with any recipient."

So I guess I could be shot for telling you that the press is really "welcome" to this event, despite an online "news" release saying it is not.

Clearly, the LVEDC still has a long way to go in the transparency department.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have got to be kidding me? Is this a joke? if this is on the level, I will vote for the first candidate who tells these stuffed shirts to stick there "appearance" were the sun doesn't shine.

Anonymous said...

well---you should have a discussion about it with Cunningham. it's is brain-child.

Anonymous said...

I know several candidates aren't thrilled about it.

Anonymous said...

Both of these organizations are funded heavily with PUBLIC monies. Are they not subject to sunshine laws when they meet? If not too bad for the public, if so then the public and press ought to be there.

Anonymous said...

A bit snooty but I really don't see the harm. It's just a private party. It's where the rich and famous get an up close look at the menu. A new rite of passage and LVEDC is in the midst of an overhaul in the way they do business. I would want to hear Cunningham's take afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is time for NH county to have their own EDC and tell these people to go scratch. It is public money and we created this monster. Time to slay the dragon?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"A bit snooty but I really don't see the harm. It's just a private party."

Yeah what couLd possibly be wrong about a meeting in the back room with the rich guys?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I know several candidates aren't thrilled about it."

Then why agree to appear? Why not take a pubic stand against this kind of nonsense? Will Lamont McClure tell them privately he's only kidding about getting rid of the hotel tax?

If they meet with these guys privately, it is only a matter of time before they have other private sessions. Except these will be with grand juries, Ask Glenn Reibman, who should know better.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"you should have a discussion about it with Cunningham"

Don no longer works for us. He works for them, and owes his loyalty to them.

Anonymous said...

How would you expect these people to act. Reibman did away with the Northampton county Econmoic Development Authority and sold his vote for campaign donations to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Authority. This group is self serving and should not be funded by our tax dollars. Reibman should be castrated for doing away with the only group of developers that worked soley for Northampton county. We had elitest on the board also, but they worked for us. Reibman sold out for campaign donations. He can remind them of that when he has the secret meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have asked for comment form each Exec candidate, and will post if I receive a reply.

Anonymous said...

This one is all on Donny....

Seamus

Bernie O'Hare said...

Seamus, This is just wrong. It is not on Don. It is on each of the candidates who agrees to meet with th rich guys in the back room.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Seamus, It is possible that some candidates were unaware this was a private meeting, although I know for a fact that some knew. In any event, they all know now, and I am asking that they decline to participate in a back room meeting with the money bags. They cannot do that and claim to be transparent.

Anonymous said...

You carry water for the anointed big money candidate for executive and complain about the rich guys making our decisions for us? You're ridiculous.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is not about which Exec canddate I support. This is not about your hatred of me. This is about basic democracy. Do these candidates represent the money bags or do they represent us?

Anonymous said...

your silence on the 'protest march' at the ASD building in allentown is deafening ...

michael molovinsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernie O'Hare said...

10:47, I do not really cover school boards.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, no offense, you know me and i sure wouldn't want to offend anybody; but, I don't know if donny cunningham ever worked for you, but surely you worked for him, rather tirelessly. between the lines, you're invited, just stand down with the blog noise.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the Hater who post on the Heckman piece thinks of this issue.

Anonymous said...

All school districts are up against it and Corbett is your target..not Bernie! ASD is not alone..just look at the mess in the Reading SD. The reg. press and TV are giving coverage to that issue.

Anonymous said...

Rich, connected guys make big decisions for the rest of us and Bernie supports their candidate. The indignation rings a bit hollow.

Anonymous said...

Not all rich people are users. The trick is to find the ones who do really care and help them do what is most needed and then they can feel good about it. It is a fine line and an art. Humanity is by nature flawed and we all need to bring out the best in one another.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Don "I'm the Great Communicator" supposed to fix this?

What interests me is that you keep hearing about how Northampton County needs a separate economic development office away from whatever LVEDC is pretending to do.

I not only want to see that stated in the room to them but their reaction to it.

I happen to agree with that philosophy by the way. LVEDC does little for Northampton County other than take the hotel money from it. Sure they will give you some token effort here and there but they spend most of their effort in the Saucon Valley or out in the Macungies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have just heard from Cunningham. He did in fact invite the media, but for some reason, that did not appear in the news release. Also, candidates may bring guests.

Anonymous said...

Are these the one-percenters that politicians have been falling over themselves to give special tax gifts?

At least these political whores know where to worship. To paraphrase 1% waterboy Geeting: On your knees, boys.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, perhaps it didn't appear in the release because it wasn't there. at the very least you can't say in fact. the only fact is that you're apparently back to carrying water for him.

Anonymous said...

Oh, well, if candidates can bring guests I suppose that's ok and Cunningham isn't excluding anybody.

I'll just sit here and wait for Butz or Reilly to call me to make plans to pick me up. I'm sure they'll want to carpool.

Anonymous said...

Love the photo you used. (Monty Python's "Twit of the Year Competition")

Anonymous said...

"Bring guests, is code for campaign flunkies. what really blows me away is that Scott Ott would go to this thing, given the entire Tea Party against the machine thing and all.

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Anonymous said...

Have any of the Executive candidates declined the offer as of now? If not they are all worthless and have no integrity.

Political whores, one and all.

This is why the Public Health monster bureaucracy will never be approved. This backroom deal shit will step up the efforts of the rest of us lazy 99%ers.

Anonymous said...

By the way Bernie, have any of the candidates responded to your email?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes. Two of them took action. Callahan's team went to work and Browning got through to Cunningham, who explained that press and guests were always welcome and in fact provided an email making that clear. The other candidates dd not respond. In fairness, my concern was resolved pretty quickly.

Anonymous said...

"Two of them took action".. Bullshot, stop writing whatever Hickey tells you. As of now the only civilians allowed in must be "invited" by the candidates.

Just the candidate sand their handpicked flunkies. Right Bernie. that really makes it a look better.

If Mitman were pulling this you would be more crazy then you usually are. Since Cunning ham is a man crush you make excuses for him and carry Callahan's balls for him.

Shameful!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Bernie but once two candidates agree to the event, no way can the third concede the day. Don put this together then said. Oh by the way all the others have agreed. It was BS, but there really is only one viable candidate anyway. It's a shame the mayor couldn't do another four years but the city's loss will be the counties gain

Seamus

Anonymous said...

Seamus, you are full of crap. If Callahan could run for a third term he would be crushed by Donchez, and maybe even Callahan's hand picked candidate, Wee Willie Reynolds.

In fact a few Dem's could beat him. He is not that popular in Bethlehem anymore and the votes will bear that out.