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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, January 15, 2021

81% of Gracedale's Residents Vaccinated

According to NorCo Executive Lamont McClure, 81% of Gracedale's residents have now been vaccinated for Covid-19. Unfortunately, and despite a $750 cash incentive, only 42% of the nursing home workforce has been inoculated. The vaccine only has emergency use authorization, and county lawyers have advised that no one should be forced to immunize.

Below is the CDC guidance on the benefits of a vaccine:

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19. Learn more about the different COVID-19 vaccines.

All COVID-19 vaccines that are in development are being carefully evaluated in clinical trials and will be authorized or approved only if they make it substantially less likely you’ll get COVID-19. Learn more about how federal partners are ensuring COVID-19 vaccines work.

Based on what we know about vaccines for other diseases and early data from clinical trials, experts believe that getting a COVID-19 vaccine may also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

Getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you, particularly people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Experts continue to conduct more studies about the effect of COVID-19 vaccination on severity of illness from COVID-19, as well as its ability to keep people from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.


No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

As most of you know, I'm a miserable bastard. Mean as cat shit. When I walk into a room, people walk out. As well they should. I had a momentary lapse of kindness yesterday. Now I am paying a price. 

I was on my way to the bank to deposit money I didn't deserve. I spotted an man, flat on his back, in the parking lot at Patient First. He was flopping like a fish out of water with a cane next to him, and appeared to have trouble getting up. 

"Are you OK?" I shouted, half expecting he would tell me to mind my own business. His reply, however, was unintelligible. 

I pulled into the parking lot, got out and approached. This fellow was able to speak English, but barely. Turned out he had fallen and was unable to get up. He had been with his nephew at Patient First but his nephew had to leave because he was late for work. 

I helped this guy to his feet. After all, I'm a highly conditioned, well-trained athlete. 

But not as much as I thought. Just as I got this guy up, he began twisting. This in turn caused me to pull my lower back. The old fart went down again and this time I went down with him. 

I got back on my feet and, fortunately, was able to enlist help from a visitor at Patient First to get this guy on his feet. We walked him a few feet to some concrete wall, where he said he'd wait for a cab. He asked me to call. 

I called the cab company, which wondered how they'd get this guy into a cab. I had no idea. I told them I'd call them back when done at the bank. 

I did my banking and returned to Patient First. The elderly guy was gone. I called the cab company. They did not have him. My guess is that someone from his family must have come for him. 

As for me, I could barely walk the rest of the day. I was being punished for acting out of character. But I just insulted a few readers and am starting to feel better. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Trump Impeachment Most BiPartisan in US History

Ten Republican members of the House voted to impeach Donald Trump yesterday. Given that there are 211 Republicans, that's less than 5%. But it is still the most bipartisan impeachment of a U.S. President in history. 

Trump Unequivocally Condemns Mob Violence and Vandalism in His Movement

It's an excellent speech, delivered about a week later than it should have been. Better late than never. I hope it deters any violence in the protests planned this weekend and next week. Hopefully, it means the next few days will be peaceful.

NorCo GOP Needs to Remove Snover

Not long ago, NorCo GOP boss Gloria Lee Snover left Facebook for Parler, where death threats are treated like jokes.  So much so that Apple and Google both refused to permit downloads of the app. As a result, Parler has gone dark. That might be permanent, too. 

Snover attended last week's attempted coup at the capitol. I have no idea whether she participated in storming past the barriers, or whether she was among those smearing her feces on the walls or taking down the American flag to replace it with one of Trump. I doubt she'd do that, but the crowd she was with did.  I do know that in a radio interview with WLVR, she attempted to minimize what had happened (it includes the murder of a police officer) while adding she had as much right to be inside the halls of Congress as VP Mike Pence. 

Before Parler went dark, I was following her. She's not just angry about Trump. She's also angry that outfits like Twitter and Facebook no longer tolerate incitements to violence. "maybe satellites need to come down," she suggests. She also hates most of the Republicans in her own party for failing to ray at his aqltar like she does.

Until her party denounces and removes her, I see no reason why anyone should support a Northampton County Republican. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Absurdity of Metal Detectors Aimed at Congress Members

In reaction to the atrocities that occurred exactly one week ago, when a rabble breached both houses of Congress, it makes sense that security would be ramped up. But one of the most idiotic responses has been metal detectors aimed at members of the House of Representatives themselves.  

I doubt this has anything to do with security. How do metal detectors for House members prevent Proud Boys from storming the capitol? This is understandable for the public, but not House members. There is little doubt in my mind that this is really is intended as a partisan slap across the faces of a few GOP Congress members who insist on carrying guns everywhere like a blankie. I personally think that's silly, but have no issue with those who want their blankie. This kind of partisan slap is the kind of thing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does, and is completely contrary to Joe Biden's desire to bring us together.  

One change that does make sense is the mask requirement. House members who fail to don a mask when entering the floor are subject to a $500 fine. During last week's lockdown, House members who refuse to wear masks were sharing confined space with those who do.  Three House members have since tested positive for Covid-19. 

Mini-Manwaring Thumbs Nose at Controller

Roy Manwaring is a Magisterial District Judge in Bethlehem. I wrote about two years ago. after he improperly assessed court costs against a Defendant he had just found "not guilty" of overtime parking.  Guess he never heard of the presumption of innocence.  He actually refused to let his prey escape from his mini-courtroom until those costs were paid. Unfortunately for the mini-judge,  the big one found out. President Judge Michael Koury ordered Manwaring to return the money and he did. He even apologized. So he's not a complete asshole. But Mini-Manwaring is regressing. This time, instead of arguing with innocent Defendants, he's fighting with the Northampton County Controller's office. Let me fill you in. 

Northampton County's Controller's Office, currently headed by Tony Bassil, is pretty busy. It audits every department in the county that handles money. This includes mini-judges. After all, they (and the people who work for them) can steal, too. They handle a lot of cash payments. I've never seen even a hint of dishonesty in all those offices, but if there was, an audit would eventually catch it. 

In addition to ruling out theft, these audits take a look at ongoing practices that might invite fraud.  In auditese, these are called "internal controls." 

Late last year, the Controller's office audited Mini-Manwaring. Staff Auditor Stacy Duke discovered that constables had key access into the secretarial area, which could give them unsupervised access to cash, financial records. She added this weakness existed in a previous auidit, and violates an internal control memo issued by Deputy Court Administrator on November 11, 2012. That memo bans constables, police officers and members of the public from the secretarial area. This is to deter access to cash records, cash and financial records. 

You might think Mini-Manwaring would be thankful for this observation. Nope. He disagerees. He thinks constables "constables should have 'key access' to the secretarial area."

"I believe this issue rests within the sound discretion of the Magisterial District Judge who was elected to manage and run the court," he continues. I see. He's the plaintiff and judge in his own casuse. Maybe you won't be elected next time. People get queasy about a combination of arrogance and financial foolhardiness. Manwaring is thumbinmg his nose at the Controller and even the Deputy Court Administrator. Whether he likes it ornot, he is required to follow directives from the Court Administrator. But a judge who assesses costs against innocent people obviously has liilte regard for trivial details.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Would You Vote to Impeach Trump?

Below is the text of the Congressional resolution to impeach Donald Trump, which will be introduced Wednesday. It's unlikely the Senate will be able to act on it before Joe Biden is sworn in as President. Although Trump's conduct leading up to the attempted Congressional coup last week clearly demonstrates he is unfit for office, won't this matter be moot by the time it reaches the Senate? Doesn't it make more sense for the House to do all it can now to ensure that what happened last week never happens again? Shouldn't we first ensure the capitol is safe when Joe Biden is inaugurated? If Trump broke the law, as I believe he did, shouldn't Congress allow federal prosecutors to conduct a thorough investigation and file the correct charges? Sure, he can pardon himself, but I doubt that will hold because he is unable to be a judge in his own case. What do you think and why?

Impeachment Resolution by BernieOHare

Monday, January 11, 2021

Jimmy the Badass

Dent: Instead of Chaos, GOP Should Represent Decency and Freedom

Congressman Charlie Dent is one of Trump's numerous casualties and is especially reviled by the more extreme elements within his own party. But in my view, he is perhaps the most effective leader I've ever covered. He warned us all about Trump and was ignored. Now, in an op-ed published in The Financial Times, he reminds Republicans that now is the time to reach across the aisle for the good of the nation.  

"Mr Trump cost the GOP the White House, the House of Representatives and now the Senate. Democrats control the levers of power by the slimmest of majorities. This represents an opportunity for the Republican party to not just block ill-considered Democratic policies but to engage in good faith bipartisan negotiations to reach agreements on cyber security, infrastructure, China and more. Incremental progress can be made in a closely-divided Congress."

"It is time to begin again if only to honour Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and the Bushes. These Republican leaders left a legacy of decency and a commitment to the advancement of freedom. Let’s not squander that inheritance. The US needs a healthy GOP more than ever. Time to get to work."

Democrats in the House might wish to impeach Trump again, and perhaps they should. But I'm more interested in seeing this nation restore its good name abroad while working with Republicans to make needed changes to our tax system, healthcare and improve our decaying infrastucture. 

I'm also very concerned that Biden's inauguration is secure and that the Republicans who wish to hang Pence or trample ore disrupt our communications satellites, as GOP Chair Lee Snover has suggested on Parler, are kept at bay. 

Syrian Immigrant Seeks Seat on Allentown City Council

Allentown businessman Tino Babayan is a Syrian immigrant who has prospered in the Queen City. I've spoken to him at a few City Council meetings. I'm delighted to report he's decided to run for City Council. His daughter Jaylin explains, "[M]y dad's been someone for YEARS volunteering in the community and someone who has always been a helping hand for whoever needed it......he’s someone who will literally give you his own shirt off his back and be there for you every step of the way."

I know that in addition to his business interests, he has been active in youth sports. He has previously supported an increase in police foot patrols and rehabilitating vacant properties to provide affordable housing.

His Facebook page is here.  


Friday, January 08, 2021

Moments Before Insurrection, Trump Family Celebrating

DC Metro Seeks Your Help Identifying Insurrectionists

 Although Capital Police practically ushered in the insurrectionists at the Capital yesterday, DC Metro has been active. On Wednesday night, they arrested and processed 736 individuals for curfew violations, riot-related burglary, and other riot-related events. Of these, 26 were juveniles. More importantly, they are seeking the public's help in identifying persons of interest who engaged in the failed coup attempt. You can see some of the persons they are looking for here.

If you see someone you know, you can contact DC Metro at (202) 727-9099 or text your tip to the Department's TEXT TIP LINE at 50411. There's a reward of up to $1,000 for infdormation leading to the arrest of those involve.

Here's someone I recognize:


His words incited the very mob violence he now hypocritically condemns ...  after the damage is done.  

According to the Northampton County GOP Facebook page, several buses of Lehigh Valley residents descended on the capital on Wednesday. You may recognize someone. Party boss Lee Snover was there, and claimed she had as much right to be on the floors of Congress as VP Mike Pence. If she went past the barriers, she should be prosecuted.  

Covid-19 Vaccinations Under Way at Gracedale

Jennifer Stewart-King
Executive Lamont McClure told Northampton County Council at their January 7 meeting that vaccinations have begun at Gracedale. Thus far 144, of about 650 employees have been inoculated. McClure said he's concerned that only 22% of those who are eligible have participated. The County is paying $750 to every Gracedale worker who agrees to the injection. 

McClure added that the vaccine is being offered to residents, too. So far, 145 of about 530 residents have been vaccinated. There has been very little resistance from those who live at the home. 

Hazard pay for Gracedale workers terminated on December 31, and Council agreed to extend it. Thirty per cent will be paid to employees at Tower 10, where Covid-19 residents are located. Remaining employees will get 20% if they work extra shifts. 

Council member John Cusick said he supports hazard pay, but argued it should be time-limited. "Making this open-ended will put us in a bad spot," he observed. He suggested that hazard pay should expire on June 1. 

Council member Tara Zrinski asked whether the union was consulted, and Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King responded that this is a "management prerogative" and no consultation is needed. She added that there is $4 million in CARES Act  money available for "infection control," and this is how the hazard pay is funded. 

By a vote of 8-0, Council approved the hazard pay extension.

Council member Peg Ferraro was absent and participated in no votes. 

In other business, Council voted 8-0 to approve the appointment of Kathleen Wedge as Director of Human Resources, and at a salary of $96,094. 

Finally, Council voted 8-0 to approve a two-year contract extension with corrections officers. They will receive 2 1/2% in Year 1 and a step (about 5%) in Year 2. 

There is no separate source of funding for corrections officers or Juvenile Justice workers. 

    

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Trump's Assault on Democracy

 

Photo Credit : Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Regular readers of this blog know I'm no fan of Lehigh Valley Congress member Susan Wild. But I'm outraged to see how my elected Representative was treated by a mob incited by Donald Trump to mount a coup against our elected representatives in Congress yesterday, This is nothing short of sedition, and those involved must be prosecuted. 

One of them could include NorCo GOP Chair Gloria Lee Snover. In a chilling telephone interview, she told WLVR's Brad Klein, "Don't listen to the fake news, the fake media. ... The violence was small. It was isolated. ... Was it two people, I heard?"

Klein: "No, I think it's clear from the pictures that there are hundreds of protesters inside the capital building."

Snover: "Okay. I own as much of the capital building as VP Mike Pence does.

Klein: "Although probably storming the doors and forcing ...."

Snover: "Yeah, storming, but I'm just saying we have a right to be in the building." 

No, Lee, you don't have the right to barge onto the Senate or House floor and interfere with the people's business. And the Vice President, who presides over the Senate, has a duty to be there when called. 

Snover went on to say, "We want a new Republican party. We're never going back to the old Republican party. Never. We want a new party, a patriot party, out with the old Republicans." 

She added she refuses to accept the election results. "Donald Trump did not concede and will never concede. And we didn't lose. We won. "

In contrast to Snover, NorCo Exec Lamont McClure condemned the sedition. 

"The United States of America is the greatest experiment in self-government in human history. Nothing the domestic enemies of the nation did today changes that. Please join me in imploring all of our fellow citizens who are not domestic enemies of America to use these deplorable acts as impetus to recommit to those most magnificent of promises made in Philadelphia in 1787."

“ 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.' ”

Willie Reynolds Running for Bethlehem Mayor

Blogger's Note: Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donhez is finishing his second term as Mayor this year. He is term-limited and is unable to seek a third term in office.I am aware of several candidates who have expressed interest, but the first to announce is Bethlehem City Council member J. William "Willie" Reynolds. Below is his campaign's announcement.

BETHLEHEM, PA - City Councilman J. William Reynolds will kick off his campaign to be the next Mayor of Bethlehem at 4 PM on Wednesday January 6th with an announcement and speech on his vision for the future of the city. The announcement and follow-up question and answer session can be viewed on Facebook Live (www.facebook.com/jwilliamreynoldsbethlehem). The videos will be available after the announcement at www.jwilliamreynolds.org. 

“Bethlehem has always been a wonderful place to live but it is time for us to become something more. We need a clear vision for the future of our city that builds on our strengths and reimagines what our community can be. ” Reynolds said. 

During his time on City Council, Councilman Reynolds has - 

● Supported economic development and job creating initiatives that have led to Bethlehem’s strongest public and private financial position in decades. 

● Proposed and led the creation of Bethlehem’s first climate action plan. 

● Proposed and created Northside 2027 – a unique partnership and revitalization strategy for our neighborhoods involving citizens, small businesses, the Bethlehem Area School District, and Moravian College. 

● Created Bethlehem’s first open data effort to improve governmental transparency and access to public data in an effort to spur innovation and entrepreneurship. At his announcement, Reynolds will lay out his vision for the future of Bethlehem including attracting further increased private economic investment, prioritizing neighborhood revitalization and sustainability, implementation of the city’s climate action plan, and building a fair and equitable city. 

For more information on his campaign, please visit www.jwilliamreynolds.org

Lehigh County Solicitor Running For Judge

 

Blogger's Note: Another outstanding judicial candidate has sent an announcement prepared by his campaign,, which you can read below.

Tom Caffrey, the Lehigh County Solicitor, is seeking to fill one of the three judicial vacancies in Lehigh County. 

Caffrey, 59, was born and raised in Allentown’s working-class First Ward. After graduating from Allentown Central Catholic High School, the Pennsylvania State University, and the Dickinson School of Law, Caffrey started his legal career as an assistant solicitor in the Lehigh County Department of Law. 

In 1991, Caffrey was appointed to serve as the full-time Lehigh County Juvenile Master. He conducted delinquency hearings related to criminal conduct by juveniles and dependency hearings related to issues of parental neglect and child abuse, and earned a reputation for being tough but fair. Caffrey not only gained valuable judicial experience, but also significant insight into the underlying issues—poverty, parental neglect, drug abuse, and mental illness—that often lead to ongoing involvement in the criminal justice system. 

In 1998, Caffrey was appointed to serve as a prosecutor in the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office. He prosecuted defendants charged with felony criminal offenses such as burglary, aggravated assault, and robbery, and tried many of these cases to verdict. 

From 2001 through 2004, Caffrey headed the Children and Youth Services Legal Unit. Caffrey returned to the Department of Law in 2004, and litigated the County’s most significant federal civil rights cases, often representing the County’s corrections officers and law enforcement personnel. 

In May 2020, Caffrey was elevated to serve as the Lehigh County Solicitor. He now heads the Department of Law, which consists of ten attorneys, two paralegals, and the Right-to-Know Officer, and advises County officials on the wide array of legal matters impacting County government and its residents. 

Caffrey has also proudly worked in several capacities for the City of Allentown. He is currently the solicitor to the Police and Fire Civil Service Board, and in the past served as special solicitor to the Police Pension Board in disability pension matters and special solicitor to City Council in police officer termination cases. He also represented the City’s police officers in federal civil rights litigation. 

In his private practice, Caffrey has handled a wide variety of legal matters while working for local law firms and operating his own law practice, including family law, employment, criminal defense, land use and zoning, real estate, and wills and estates, and has significant civil litigation 2 experience. He currently serves as the solicitor to the zoning hearing boards in Moore, Lehigh and Plainfield Townships and Hellertown Borough. 

When asked why he is seeking a seat on the Lehigh County bench, Caffrey said, “I have dedicated my career to serving the people of Lehigh County, and I believe that I am well qualified to serve as a common pleas judge. I have valuable experience as a judicial official and more than 34 years of experience in both civil and criminal law. I have the academic ability and experience to handle complex legal matters, but also the common sense required to understand and deal with the wide variety of issues and problems that come before a common pleas judge on a daily basis. I will work hard, maintain an open mind, and treat all those who come before me fairly and with respect.” 

Caffrey has worked as an adjunct professor of sociology/criminal justice for Moravian College and served as a guest lecturer on federal civil rights and juvenile justice issues. Caffrey is married to Bobbi Jo Caffrey, who works as an optician for Dr. Binae Karpo. They live in Whitehall and are members of the Immaculate Conception Church in Allentown. Caffrey has three adult daughters, Kate, Kristen, and Lauren Angela, and an adult step-son, Scott. 

Caffrey has served as a volunteer at the Lehigh Valley Hospital and is a member of the Whitehall Area Rotary Club. 

Caffrey, a Republican, will cross file to appear on both parties’ ballots.