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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, January 04, 2016

Reorganization Day

Today, most municipal bodies throughout the Commonwealth have their annual reorganization meeting. It's an annual rite, usually accompanied by numerous Sunshine Act violations, in which legislative leaders are chosen for the upcoming year or, in some cases, two years. This might sound boring to you, but I love watching these because they are usually a sign of things to come. Unfortunately, I am only able to cover Northampton County and Bethlehem Township because almost all these meetings happen at 4 or 7 pm.

No matter how much these Council members, Commissioners and Supervisors claim not to care, you'd be shocked at the amount of behind-the-scene intrigue that accompanies these meetings. It's not the small amount of extra money paid to a Council President or Supervisors' Chair. It's the power and visibility.

Though the President or Chair of a municipal body is technically only a first among equals, he or she does set the agenda. These leaders also often attend ribbon cuttings and are often sought out as spokespersons for hot button issues.

I have no idea what is going to happen in Lehigh County or Allentown, but given the increasing likelihood that Fed Ed will resign sometime this year, the Presidency of Allentown City Council becomes more than a status symbol. Under Allentown's Home Rule Charter, he becomes Acting Mayor until an Interim Mayor is appointed, either by Council or the courts.

I can only imagine the amount of back-room dealing that is going on among their City Council members, unless they are afraid their phones are being tapped.

The current Council President is Ray O'Connell, and he's already told me that I don't have to call him "Your Honor" if her gets the job. A slight bow is enough.

In Bethlehem, tradition is that a Council President serves for no more than two consecutive two-year terms. Willie Reynolds was voted in as President of City Council in 2014, and my guess is he has the votes to be elected again by the new Council.

As President, Willie gets to set the agenda,as he did with martin Tower. He will also be able to note his elevated status when he runs for Mayor next year.

What will happen now that Marty Zawarski, the former President of its Board of Commissioners, is gone in Bethlehem Township? Michael Hudak, who knows he is too unpopular to be elected himself, has reportedly asked Pat Breslin to assume the presidency. But that's not going to happen. There is no way that Democrats Kim Jenkins and Malissa Davis and Republican Tom Nolan are going to appoint this tea party member as president when he misses so many meetings. No one is even sure he actually lives in the Township. My guess is that Tom Nolan will be voted in, which will drive Hudak nuts. Hudak arranged for a palace coup of Nolan when he was serving as President just two years ago, and will try to get rid of him again.

In Northampton County, the return of John Cusick means more palace treachery. This New Jersey school teacher will likely try to seize the Presidency by dumping President Peg Ferraro. He's done it before. Never mind that, as a teacher, he has no time for bi-weekly meetings with the Executive or to attend the many functions that request the President's attendance. Cusick is being supported in this quest by Exec wannabe Hayden Phillips. Newcomer Matt Dietz will go for this, too. He was just glued at the hip to Phillips. To get Seth Vaughn behind Cusick, he's been offered the Vice Presidency despite having an appalling 64% attendance record in 2015.

Cusick, who has the personality of  wet sock, is a poor choice for President. In addition to being unavailable for most events, he simply can't be trusted. His VP is just like him.

Phil Lauer is apparently safe as Council Solicitor, at least for now. His detractors have been unable to recruit a sufficiently stupid replacement. I will say this. A Council Solicitor works for the Council, not individual members. The days of individual Council members seeking goofy opinions needs to end. No Council Solicitor should be tasked with bullshit research unless it is sought by a majority.

In Nazareth, Borough Council at tonight's meeting is expected will create a new Commissioner position for a top-heavy police department that already has a Chief who reports to the Mayor. The department consists of just four full-time and six part-time officers. Though it is generally thought that Randy Miller will be installed, the job might instead go to Jim DePalma, who is currently the Deputy Chief at Colonial Regional. Chief Thomas Trachta will be assigned to work middle shifts in what is essentially a demotion.

DePalma comes cheaper than Miller.If Nazareth is nothing else, it is penny wise and pound foolish.

Nazareth was criticized in a state study for its top heavy department, and Borough Council's solution is to make things even worse.

But Nazareth does have a cool Christmas tree.

Things will get even wackier in West Easton, where outgoing Council President Kelly Gross spent most of last week hunched over a shredder. She fired the Clerk, and one of her last acts in office was to send residents a three-page self-aggrandizing letter, at borough expense. She slams the new Council for making lots of promises, complains of being harassed and warns she'll be watching them. She also had the computers removed, though new ones are apparently on the way

Until they come, Council will be flying blind.

It is believed Dan DePaul will be the new Council President. Believe it or not, he's worse than Kelly Gross. They will have to retain a new Solicitor because Christy Schlottman represents one Council member who is suing another Council member, and has a conflict.

An ambulance should be on standby at every meeting for the inevitable heart attacks and nervous breakdowns

North Catasauqua should be the wildest ride. Though the reorganization itself should result in little loss of human life, at least 18 people have accepted a "Justice for Sugar" Facebook invitation to attend the meeting. They'll be there to complain about Officer Leighton Pursell, who shot and killed an unarmed cat named "Sugar" after she ran away from home and was lounging near a poll five homes away.

She hissed at him, so he plugged her..

Up until now, Officer Pursell's main claim to fame was eating 21 packs of mustard during lunch in his high school days. I think this has that beat.

In fairness, we don't know all the facts. Sugar might have been hiding a little cat gun or worse, might have been part Siamese.


Anonymous said...

Looks like that woman you destroyed with your hate blog was right about the diabolic nature of Kelly Gross, the Dandy Lion will restore order to our fair hamlet.

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

Bernie, good overall view of the local political landscape. Your reference to Bethlehem and Willie is well noted. He will no doubt be the Council President in 2016 and 2017. Will he then run for Mayor? Also what will happen in some of the other areas you mention as well as some elections in November of 2016? Without question some if this will spill into 2017, when cities and both counties will again see major races.

All of this is fascinating but you have failed d to mention one of the biggest variables in all of this. What of James Gregory?
Jim Gregory will be back in the Lehigh Valley next month. What will he do politically?
If Willie Reynolds decides to give Mayor Donchez a run, he would be wise to seek out Gregory. Jim is well known as a political guru. Also who will seek him out for state house races. Also 2017 county elections will hinge on who he endorses and works for. Do not discount the impact Jim Gregory and his UNITY-PAC had on the election Of John Brown.

Of course much of this is dependent on his preferences and if he wishes to return as the premier political mover and shaker of the past. It is always important to keep him in mind when discussing the political future of the Lehigh Valley. Hopefully you will be given a full interview with him upon his return to the area. People want to know his plans.

Anonymous said...

You're hallucinating in your magnificent crapulance, whacky. Jim will be scouting out the rat-infested alleys, looking to practice some of the oral skills he learned in State Prison, and looking for cardboard boxes to shelter in because he has nowhere to live. Nobody gives a damn about his plans except you. He's an abuser and a loser. Sound familiar?

You're so illiterate it hurts. It is "whom he endorses."

Anonymous said...

Oh please annon 4:06, you are just jealous. Must really gall you that Jim "the human tripod" has more manhood than you could ever dream of.

Stop hating and accept the fact that he is your better.

Anonymous said...

"The current Council President is Ray O'Connell, and he's already told me that I don't have to call him "Your Honor" if her gets the job. A slight bow is enough."

Didn't he sit by and watch the downfall of a once great city.

Anonymous said...

The "Pink Gavel" does not know how to write a letter.....replete with poor grammatical choices....She also broke her shoulder patting herself on the back.....Wow what an ego on her....

Bernie O'Hare said...

A comment from an impersonator calling herself "Pink Gavel" has been deleted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Looks like that woman you destroyed with your hate blog was right about the diabolic nature of Kelly Gross, the Dandy Lion will restore order to our fair hamlet."

Actually, I she drove Kelly, a normally sweet person, over the edge. Kelly let this defamer get to her instead of ignoring her.

Anonymous said...

Probably right about Nolan. Breslin is in his 3rd year of disbelief that he was elected. The two new Commissioners are too green to even know the procedures. Hudak is an early lame duck with 2 years to go, and a whack job, so nobody would even nominate, much less vote for him. He will, however, make life miserable for three of the other four.

Anonymous said...

The coming year in BT will give new meaning to "dysfunctional".

Anonymous said...

Who the hell is posting all these pro Gregory posts?? Sadly, in the late 80's, I spent 3 days in NCP until they wised up and arrested the correct person, and explained it as "whoops; sorry man". I cannot imagine spending almost TWO YEARS in a State Prison, let alone a few nights in a local jail, and believe I would pick up where I left off, friends appluading me, my life and reputation intact; and slip into leadership of anything except leader of the homeless under the warmest local bridge. With all the rumors on the internet, it will be a race back to the jail between the manslab and West Easton Wacko, who will also be homeless shortly....

Anonymous said...

Is your bud Ron Angle gonna be appointed president of the school board tonight?

Anonymous said...

in bedlam it's not called reorganization. The proper term is inbreeding.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:23, My friend Ron served for about three months as Pam Colton's successor, and his term is up.

Anonymous said...

Jim DePalma would be great in any police organization. Would be an awesome Chief of Nazareth. He grew up working there and is very and I mean VERY well respected. Randy is a useless political bloodsucker leech. I hope they hire DePalma.

Anonymous said...

I am far removed from West Easton but I enjoy viewing their meetings on Matt Dee's blog. Very entertaining and they could be used to teach a class on how not to conduct a public meeting. It was high time for Ms Gross and her father to exit their public service. I wish Matt well.


Anonymous said...

I also watch Matt Dee's blog and the council videos, it seems to me only half of the councilmembers ever show up at a meeting and half of that half are going along to get along, when viewing the videos they're only seems to be a one person who's concerned about everything that's going on in the borough. Like where's the money from one year to another, why isn't the treasurers report complete, ect and on and on.

Anonymous said...

Cusick's power play dumps Aunt Peg. Very icy atmosphere at county council reorganization meeting today. Peg was obviously miffed and Cusick was the cold snake in the grass that he is.

Anonymous said...

What an amateur. When I was in high school I drank a gatorade bottle filled with hot sauce. The youth of today disappoints me!


Anonymous said...

Peg was the mastermind behind the Cusick dumping of Angle for President some years back. so is it true he now dumped her? If so what was Geissingers reaction, he is the most politically ambitious of the lot. I think he sees himself as the new president.

That is the problem in Northampton County, they have always spent more energy on maneuvering to have meaningless titles than actually focusing on governing. All ego and no meat.

Anonymous said...

Geissinger was nominated for VP again but withdrew his name in favor of Vaughn. Peg voted for Werner, the alternative but Vaughn won 6-3. Geissinger has his sights on CE next year.

Anonymous said...

Hudak should move to Allentown and run for mayor.
The timing is perfect.