Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bob Donchez Makes Two Excellent Picks

I was unable to attend yesterday's Bob Donchez news conference, in which he announced two important appointments to his sanctum sanctorum - Northampton County's Alicia Karner as DCED Director, and Bethlehem Attorney Bill Leeson as City Solicitor. These are excellent picks, a sign of good judgment from the Bethlehem Mayor elect.

Alicia Karner

I know Alicia Karner best so let me start with her. As most of you know, I'm more than willing to mix it up with anyone, from Edwin Pawlowski to, most recently, Lehigh County Comm'r Vic Mazziotti. But Alicia scares the shit out of me. I admit it. She's always acted professionally, but knows exactly what is going on. She also happens to be a jock. She earned eleven varsity letters at Bangor High School and went on to play Division I field hockey before graduating from the UNC at Wilmington with a degree in Political Science.

Karner won election to Bangor Borough Council, served as its President, and then ended up working for State Senator Lisa Boscola. Along the way, she developed an interest in both community and economic development, As a member of the County's most impoverished community outside of the cities, she started serving on the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley board, eventually becoming its President. She also was selected by Executive John Stoffa to administer his economic development program in Northampton County. 

Alicia has been deeply involved in both downtown revitalization projects as well as other job creation projects. She helped usher in Charlie Chrin's Route 33 TIF, which is expected to eventually bring 5,500 jobs to this area. Presentations that she orchestrated even persuaded Ron Angle, a foe of economic development handouts, to support the project.  She even got me on Charlie Chrin's side, something I never thought would happen.

While doing all this, Karner also administered the County's Gaming Authority.

Her biggest achievement, though, and one of which she should be very proud, are her three children. On election night, the Karner family had its own annual election for Karner House President. There was even some dirty campaigning.

Alicia is a very good pick for Bethlehem as DCED Director. But her loss will be felt at Northampton County.

What Happens to Joe Kelly?

Bethlehem's current DCED Director, Joe Kelly, is out. Donchez has the right and really, the obligation, to put his own stamp on City government. As good a person as Joe is, Bob can't do that with incumbent Mayor John Callahan's right hand man. There would always be a question of loyalty.

As an attorney with an impressive resume, I believe Joe should have no problem landing on his feet.

One rumor floating around is that Willie Reynolds will try to install Joe on City Council as Donchez' replacement. This seems like an effort to undermine Donchez, not good government. Nor is it particularly good for Joe Kelly down the road. Reynolds has the votes to do this, I'm sure. But isn't it time to stop playing politics and start governing?

Bill Leeson

They say you can't fight City Hall, but I have fought several battles with the County. I did so when I challenged Northampton County's $111 million megabond under former Executive Glenn Reibman. I won the first battle, thanks in large part to the efforts of Easton Attorneys Charlie Smith and Brian Monahan. Along the way, we made law. We got a Commonwealth Court ruling in our favor on the Sunshine Act, with a ruling that a judge had improperly made arguments not advanced by the county. We also got an important Supreme Court ruling that bond proposals must be real, and be accompanied by realistic cost estimates.

We lost the second round, in which the fight was that public money was being used to fund private projects. I think we might have had a shot with the Supreme Court, but we just ran out of money.

Our opponent in this legal war was Bill Leeson.

He impressed the hell out of me. He would write an excellent and terse brief, but had an uncanny knack in oral argument of putting things in a slightly different way that would completely throw us off our game.

Throughout this battle, which became quite heated at times, Leeson always remained a gentleman. He always kept his word, except for that one time when he told me the Supreme Court had moved to Phillipsburg and I should just wait there for oral argument.

He knows municipal law inside out, and like his brother and father, will be an excellent City Solicitor. 

Class all the way.

What happens to Jack Spirk?

Like Joe Kelly, Jack has to go. He was a trusted confidante to Bethlehem mayor John Callahan, and knows that Donchez needs his own consigliere. Jack was an excellent Assistant DA, and I know this better than most because he kicked my ass several times. He loves teaching, and can continue that profession and can walk through numerous other doors. 

As is the case with Joe Kelly, a rumor floating around that Spirk will be installed as the next City Council Solicitor, replacing long time Solicitor Chris Spadoni. I don't understand why Council would replace a neutral and effective Solicitor with someone who is known as Callahan's right arm. I thought Callahan was term-limited.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah screw Willie Reynolds, he's a loser and needs to get over it already.

Anonymous said...

You make a big argument against Willie's pick of Kelly and Spirk, yet not of Karner?
She was park of Callahan's campaign team. She ran around the county pushing him and is still a tight Callahan Camp confidant.

You can tell the heavy influence of Lisa Boscola on this pick. She went hat in hand to Lisa after Callahan crashed and burned. Karner is lucky Boscola pitched her for the job. Morganelli got Leasson and Boscola got Karner the jobs.

Karner's loyalty is hardly Donchez. Until a few weeks ago she didn't even know the guy. The Callahan people will have at least one person in the Donchez Administration.

Anonymous said...

Valid points. Confusing as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Karner campaigned for the Democratic nominee for Exec. She has that right, and it is no secret. Bob knows that and hired her. The question is not whether you, who don't ID yourself, can trust her. The question is whether Bob can. He has made his decision, and I like his willingness to reach out to pick someone who is both qualified and female and not part of the Bethlehem "in" crowd.

Anonymous said...

Please Bernie. She was picked by Bob's co-campaign manger as a favor. This was a Lisa Boscola favor. Also Karner campaigned for Callahan ling before he was the Party nominee.

She may be qualified and you do like her. However, try to be somewhat balanced and truthful.

Anonymous said...

" She went hat in hand to Lisa after Callahan crashed and burned."

You're a fucking idiot. Next time you want to make stuff up, you need to make it more nebulous, so you can't be taken to task.

It's pretty well known that the Donchez folks and the DA were inquiring after Karner long before Callahan hit the iceberg.

Maybe Donchez is actually trying to find solid, credible professionals?

Anonymous said...

the bottom line is that these are political pay back jobs. However both are very good in their own fields. That's good for bethlum. move on

Anonymous said...

Well written Alicia. Showing your class again. God help Donchez with this pick.

Anonymous said...

Was really hoping for more, unless he brings in a star as business administrator, this cabinet
Is not looking too promising.

Anonymous said...

Wait, how does a government employee 'campaign for the democratic nominee for exec'. That is a political hack. So she was out of a job because Brown won, beat her candidate Callahan, and the democrats found her a job. No wonder people get disgusted.

Anonymous said...

Bill Leeson is a gentleman and a great humantarian as well as a helluva lawyer. He knows Government and especially Municipal law. No one would have to recommend him for consideration as part of any legal team. He earned that respect and honor many years ago. Good luck Bill in your new job. I know you will make Bethlehem proud of their city. I always thought you would make an excellent Judge.
Gerald Seyfried

Anonymous said...

joe and jack will make great members of the opposing team

let the battle begin

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem's gain is the rest of Norco's misfortune. Not even a Slate Belt county exec can make up for the loss of Karner to that region.

Anonymous said...

Geez Alicia, let's calm down a bit. No need to get off your rocker. Political favor for Lisa's endorsement of Bob and nothing more. You will soon find out this job is actually work not like you County job which I'm sure Lisa got you as well.

Anonymous said...

grub for business administrator

nah, not even bob is that whacko

Anonymous said...

Inside Politics says...
Karner was favor to Boscola. Frank Kane was all over this job at one point, then the unthinkable happened and Callahan lost and Muller won.
All of Donchez's picks are political favors being returned. Word on street is Ed Boscola is in for Public Works. What ever happened to Bob wanting Bethlehem people for his cabinet?
Also, heard that Karen Dolan was talking about cutting department heads salaries when they get appointed. Makes sense since these people should not start where the predecessor's were.

JG said...

Bill Leeson's hair is fabulous.

Anonymous said...

Alicia did little or nothing for Bangor. A speck in her rear view mirror now on her way up the political food chain. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Um, there's something wrong with that guy's hair. Is that Photoshopped?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Please Bernie. She was picked by Bob's co-campaign manger as a favor. This was a Lisa Boscola favor. Also Karner campaigned for Callahan ling before he was the Party nominee."

Under the Northampton County HRC, County employees have every right to campaign for whomever they wish. She supported Callahan in the primary, and would have supported the party nominee. So what?

You want me to be truthful and balanced. OK. Let's try some truth. What is your evidence that Boscola is the person behind the Karner appointment? Where sdid you hear this? From Boscola? From Donchez? Any evidence at all? And who are you? These 3 AM trolls come on here and demand truth while making claims with no evidence and while refusing to identify themselves.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So she was out of a job because Brown won, beat her candidate Callahan, and the democrats found her a job."

She was not out of a job. She held a career service position and could not be fired the way exempt positions can be. Get your facts right before you start spewing nonsense.

Jon Geeting said...

Huh? A City Council seat is a political position, not a non-partisan position. The purpose of the seat is to make political choices about the policy direction of the city. City Council should appoint someone whose views align with the majority of Council members' views on the issues, not the Mayor's views. If it was supposed to be up to the Mayor, then the Mayor would have the appointment power. He doesn't.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Unless your guys are not on Council. they have the votes to do what they want. Hopefully, it will be to govern, not play politics and undermine a Mayor. They should remember the person they are replacing is Donchez.

Anonymous said...

I know both individuals and while I think the world of Bill Leeson, I feel very differently about Alicia. Alicia is one of the most self-centered, egotistical and disloyal people you will ever meet. She is in my estimation the very definition of "political animal". She has one thing on her agenda - self-proliferation. She only needs people for as long as they are politically useful. I hope Bob keeps a close eye on her. She is not community-minded in any sense of the word and she is not a team player. Everyone is just another stepping stone to her professional aspirations.

Anonymous said...

I've known Alicia for years. 1257 must be thinking of someone else.

Anonymous said...

Her role at county would most likely have decreased or been eliminated entirely. Fire her? No..but she would not have the access and influence she did under Stoffa. Her support of Mr. Casino was legal but unethical and it cost her any chance of staying with the county into the future as point person on Econ. Dev.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately..12:57 hit the nail on the head. No need to elaborate on what has already been shared here. Buyer beware..

Anonymous said...

Being friends with Alicia for most of our live, she will be fine. I hope she takes the job and runs with it. Who cares what candidate she backed. Congrats.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Her political activity is both legal and ethical, and threatening sanctions for it would violate her First Amendment rights. If Brown took any of the punitive measures you mention, I'd want him sued. In fact, I'd ask the US Att'y to prosecute for civil rights violations. But thanks for making yourself clear, asshole.

Anonymous said...

Oh Bernie unwind your panties. Everyone knows you have the hots for her. He would have her do her job and nothing more. he has and will appoint a Director and he was not obligated to appoint her.

her reputation for more smoke than fire was earned.

Anonymous said...

I know Alicia professionally and understand her biggest supporter is a pretty powerful non political person and a trusted friend of a transition team member, not the Senator. Spoiled and soured grapes by those that attack her.

It's unfortunate that someone who is successful, moves to better and more influential positions is bad. Jealousy will get you no where!

Joe Kelly will do well because he has a respectable resume. Hopefully he doesn't get caught up in the Willie Reynolds I'll do anything to make Bob Donchez fail. If Bob fails, so does the City. Not a smart approach.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I know for a fact that Alicia was approached about this job over the Summer, so it's nonsense to suggest that she only got this bc the job w/ Callahan fell through. I wish though, that she was working with Callahan in bringing jobs into NC. I think they would have done very well, and we would all benefit. Now only Bethlehem gets her.

She is part of a very small group of people who make the County hum. Maybe 20 of them. They do not get enough credit, and when I have spoken to some of them, they don't want any acknowledgement. But we have some very good people in NC government. Alicia is one of them.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted an anonymous sexist slur. Does it make you feel good to disparage a mother? No wonder you won't sign your name.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Sign your name for any personal attack you want to make.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Sign your name, coward.

Anonymous said...

If I were the current Bethlehem folks, I would stop posting on this blog and start worrying about what someone like Karner may find when she gets to Bethlehem. She went to NC and got to work cleaning it up. She'll do the same in Bethlehem. Lucky for them, she doesn't seem out to embarass.

Anonymous said...

John Brown will be an excellent County Executive. Alicia, on the other hand, is not the talent Bernie would make her out to be. She is moderately intelligent with serious deficiencies in judgment. Her moral compass is also not properly calibrated.

Bernie O'Hare said...

An anonymous coward like you is a person whose moral compass is not properly calibrated.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Don't worry, she'll fail miserably. She'll take credit for the CRIZ even though Callahan and Kelly put everything in place. She'll quickly realize economic development in a City is a lot more work than anything she did at the County.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So says someone who obviously is jealous and behaving badly.

Anonymous said...

The assumption is that she will be confirmed by council. Is that a sure thing?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not going to allow you to slime someone anonymously. If you want your comment to remain, you have to identify yourself. Include an address so the Sheriff knows where to serve you with the libel complaint. You are obviously a jealous person, and know you are wrong, which is why you do not tell us who you are.

Anonymous said...

Was it an effort to undermine Callahan when Donchez nominated jay leeson to take callahan's seat on council after callahan was elected mayor and decided not to keep leeson as solicitor? Seems kind of appropriate that Kelly would take Donchez's seat.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point. Sometimes those decisions come back to bite you.

Anonymous said...

Fair point anon 10:26. I think the big question people have is why go through the motions if in fact decisions have already been made. Soon after Callahan lost, people knew that Boscola was pushing Karner on Donchez.

As to the vacant seat on city council, at least be honest. Please don't waste citizen's time sending résumés, standing and answering questions when you have already decided who is appointed.

Most insiders say it is Kelly, a few others have stated it is a specific Latina woman. If that is true just be honest and say it. Don't play games with citizens and make them play along with your bullshit political games. I think most resident would like the appointee to be a grown-up and not one of Wee Willie or Dolan's anointed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I happen to know who strongly recommended Karner. It was in August. It was not Boscola. You anonymously talk our your ass.

Anonymous said...

If you claim it was Stoffa, it was irrelevant. The only opinion that mattered was Boscola's. Also apparently Grucela was asked to throw in a reference for her.
However, at the end of the day it was Boscola that made it happen.

Face it Bernie. She is an in your face aggressive person who rubs many people the wrong way with her attitude, not exactly the Donchez style. Watch how long before there is discord in the city office.

That is the official; story, whether you want to run with it or not.

Anonymous said...

Interesting how Ms Karner was the gate keeper of the casino grant money and lately the city of bethlehem was winning chunks of huge money after it already receives huge host fees. This all being done on the backs of the other communities in the counties. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Alicia is a self-serving bureaucrat who is only interested in utilizing public resources to further her career. She has no interest in public service. I have known her for 10 years and she has never gone out of her way to help anyone unless there was something in it for her. God forbid you would ever get in her way, hell hath no fury...

Anonymous said...

Karner is the best person for this position. She is an economic development professional who understands the importance of relationships with both the people and organzations who work on projects in a community, but the elected officials who are a key partner in getting a project done. She will find success in this position because she will do the same thing she did in Northampton County - she will actually work bring projects to completion.

Anonymous said...

in way over her headmimmiss

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

Why are you conveniently failing to respond to this comment:
" Anonymous said...
Was it an effort to undermine Callahan when Donchez nominated jay leeson to take callahan's seat on council after callahan was elected mayor and decided not to keep leeson as solicitor? Seems kind of appropriate that Kelly would take Donchez's seat.

10:26 PM"

Donchez is not innocent. I am sure he will get what he has coming. He has no business leading a City, and you will see that soon.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not conveniently failing to respond to anything. I overloaded some circuits last night and spent it in darkness and no heat. So I did not have an opportunity to respond. Your observation is fair, and two wrongs don't make a right. But like I said, Council can do whatever it wants so long as it has the votes.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Interesting how Ms Karner was the gate keeper of the casino grant money and lately the city of bethlehem was winning chunks of huge money after it already receives huge host fee"

She has not adminitered that fund for some time, and her role there, like that of Ms. Hollis now, is that of Clerk. She followed the direction of the members of the board.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"She is an in your face aggressive person who rubs many people the wrong way with her attitude,"

If she were male, she'd be accomplished as someone who gets things done. She is female, so is characterized as a bitch.

We've come a long way baby.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The assumption is that she will be confirmed by council. Is that a sure thing?"

I know one thing. none of the assholes anonymously sliming her here will say a word at the confirmation hearing.

Anonymous said...

"She is part of a very small group of people who make the County hum"

Now that is funny!!

Anonymous said...

She and Callahan are the same. Arrogant, abrasive and legends in their own minds. Ask around the Courthouse.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, long time county employees who have become complacent, even lazy, tend to get annoyed when someone actually brings new and sensible ideas to the table that may require them to work a bit. Karner will do the same thing in Bethlehem and continue to anger those who just don't care any more. Why wouldn't we all want someone like that in our municipalities?

Good luck Mr. Brown. You are going to need all the help you can get when you get to NC. Moving many of those employees is like moving mountains.

Anonymous said...

At least one has left.

Stay Classy A.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many F-bombs she will be dropping around city Hall.

Anonymous said...

ms karner is very nice i have just met her and she is wonderful here at city hall!