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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, June 02, 2014

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

 (This is an open letter to J. Willie Reynolds, President of Bethlehem City Council).

Dear Willie,

On January 30, you were forced to endure a six-hour long special meeting of City Council, convened to interview 11 applicants for the vacancy created when Bob Donchez resigned his seat to ascend into the Mayoral atmosphere. The reason for this lengthy meeting, we both know, is Karen Dolan. Though she had already decided she was supporting one of the candidates, she felt it necessary to belittle other applicants. Even Ron Heckman, a former Director of Northampton County's Human Services, was basically told he's too white and too male. A CPA was demeaned. It was City Council at its worse. In fact, it's what prompted me to look at Dolan's nonprofit.

During a meeting I had with Dolan at Illick's Mill in February, I learned that she had failed to file her nonprofit tax returns for three years straight. As a result, her nonprofit status was revoked by the IRS and stayed that way for at least a year, while she had to re-file. I decided against writing about it because she broke down in tears, said it would ruin her nonprofit and promised that she would be more respectful to people who come before your body.

I was to later learn that she told you and at least one other Council member that I was writing no story because it lacked merit. If she told you this, it was a lie. In fact, I began learning that she had told me lies, too. For example, she assured me she was paying the utilities at her nonprofit, except for heating oil, and couldn't understand why she was getting free oil. We now know that she actually voted for the free heating oil in two city budgets, and that Bethlehem has been footing utility bills for several years.

When she used her position as Parks Chair to promote easing alcohol limits in City Parks, you appropriately ended her role there. It was one of several blatant conflicts of interest that diminish all of you.

I am writing to request that you ask Dolan to step down from another City Council Committee - Human Resources and Environment. It is Dolan, an eight-year veteran of Council, who acted as ringleader to turn a simple appointment to the Parking Authority, an unpaid volunteer position, into the Spanish Inquisition. Diana Morganelli, wife of the District Attorney, was assailed with ridiculous questions that even included the square foot per parking lot spaces and the capital of Assyria.

In the face of public condemnation, Dolan called the whole thing "an incredible learning experience" and paid homage to treating others with more respect. But given her track record, I think that's impossible. Her continued presence on a committee that interviews appointees is going to continue to diminish City Council in the eyes of the public. For that reason, I request that she be removed.


Anonymous said...

Ata boy! Can't wait to see and hear her response.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Antalics:
I have also found Ms Dolan to be quite untruthful. After a recent council meeting where I inquired as to the status of the lease concerning the Fox Environ. Ctr, I was approached by Ms Dolan after the meeting thanking me for my effort in determining the lease status. She said she was trying to get a lease for a number of years and was unsuccessful. I later found out by a reliable source, but not official, that a member of the legal dept. of the city attempted to get her to sign a lease but she refused. I was refused a copy of that lease by legal since it was a draft version and not executed. I hope the grand jury can resolve this dilemma

Anonymous said...

As a recent insomniac I decided to read your blog. I have to say you nailed it with this city council. I remember your story on the city council appointment. I was not really upset at their pick nut the apparent arrogance of their process, as you reported. Reading the newspaper at the time it seemed as if all the candidates were highly qualified for a city council position. Why they had to endure such an interrogation is still something that boggles the mind. I give the applicants credit for sitting though it. I would have told them to kiss my ass but I am not a very civic minded person as these applicants apparently were. You mention Ron Heckman, I know him form past encounters and not only was he Director of Human Services but I believe he was also a Northampton County Councilman fro some time when he was younger. Would seem to have some qualifications for the job. Actually, I think any of the applicants were fine and the entire process was some sort of strange farce.

You appear to have hit the nail on the head with Ms. Dolan. I believe there are a few other s that are frankly out of their depths as representatives of the people.

The residents of Bethlehem will continue to get the government they deserve unless they decide to take a very active and learned approach to the candidates and not just pick names off a list.

Even though I believe your letter will fall on deaf ears,

Good job!

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

Mazunga, your comment is inappropriate. Ypu likely know this, which is why you do not ID yourself.

MZUNGA said...

what was inappropriate?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not going to mention it and draw more attention to it. If you don't know then shame on you.

Anonymous said...

I think, as a Bethlehem taxpayer and Life Long resident, that Miss Dolan should step down from City Council Immediately and for once in her life do the unselfish right thing. Please

Anonymous said...

This city council looks like the not ready for prime time players. Time to bring in the big leaguers.

Guy Williams said...

Stephen if Bernie werent biased he would tell you like a lawyer would, that Dolans statement That shes trying to get a lease wasnt untruthful simply because she didnt sign one. What I hate about politics is when common sense is trumped by one sided passions. Of course this blog wouldnt exist without the ability to create drama. I love all this entertainment as well. As soon as I pick through the rest of this soap opera im sure to come up with other doozys.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Guy Williams, I believe that, leaving the question of the lease aside, Dolan is a dishonest person, I caught her in several lies myself. For example, her claim that the nonprofit was paying utilites was an outright lie. Also, it is very clear that she engaged in conflicts of interest in violation of the Ethics Act. While there are instances in which there is no smokin' gun, in this instance there are several.

Guy Williams said...

Seriously, Bernie look, I dont know karen personally but. I know alot about her hard work over the years,her dedication and the loyalty of some of her supporters. She has done some great things over the years both in academics and for her city. So now we have found out that some of her recent work has been sloppy and questionable to say the least. Doesnt matter why, is she stretched too thin work wise,bad communicating, sitting on her laurels assuming she can do everything in her sleep or on auto pilot. I dont know but I do know that many think she needs to regroup. Maybe it means a political rest or dropping many of the extra responsibilities and focus, and it seems some think she deserves a pass. The thought of seeing a lifetime of hard work go down in flames over such questionable circumstances is hard for some to take. I think the only fair solution must come from Karen herself.