Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A Question For Second Amendment Enthusiasts: How Do We Stop These Mass Shootings?

After the tragedy in Texas yesterday, in which a lone gunman killed 19 children at an elementary school, it's really time to stop the partisan bickering and make some changes. Trying to implement gun control on any level is a nonstarter. There's too much opposition. But for the past few years, we've gridlocked over any suggestions. It's very clear to me that we really need to step up our oversight of firearms in the possession of mentally ill people who express violent thoughts. I'd suggest some sort of temporary seizure based on complaints of threatening behavior.   

Last night, readers were weighing in on a post on another topic, so I thought I'd set this space aside to hear suggestions from second amendment enthusiasts. 

Jungle Monkeys

Racism is still very much alive and well here in the Lehigh Valley.  I'm sure most of you are aware of the outcry after a recent incident between Catasauqua bar owners and an Uber driver. The driver was called a "ni--er lover" when he refused to drive them because of a racially charged comment. Is that an isolated incident? I'd like to think so, but am disheartened to learn that a locally elected official uses language that is just as bigoted. Amy Richard, President of  Stockertown Borough Council, has called no one a "ni--er." She prefers the term "jungle monkeys."  

I learned of her racist behavior because Stockertown's police Chief, who is under fire in the borough, has shared their text exchanges. What I've seen is appalling.

Back in June 2020, in response to multiple protests over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, she fired off a text to the police chief, stating 'WE ARE NOT DEFUNDING OUR POLICE DEPARTMENT." 

He was a bit confused and did not know what she meant.  She responded, "No ...just watching the stupid jungle monkeys on TV demanding that everybody defund police departments....dumb assess!!!" 

Then, in July, a Stockertown resident complained to the chief about fireworks bothering her dog. Richard, who has no business telling a police officer what to do, nevertheless instructed the Chief to let it go.

"She won't get any sympathy from me. Sorry about her dogs...It's the 4th of July.... This life is about give and take.. If I have to put up with gay pride month and black history month... deal with it. Thise probably aren't good comparisons."

Do you think? 

I spoke with Richard yesterday. She said she had two things to say to me. First, she believes the Chief is incredibly stupid for sharing texts with me because she has an equal amount of dirt on him. Second, she said I should know that emails and texts can be altered. 

That's precisely why I wanted to talk to her. I point blank asked her whether she sent a text message referring to protesters as "jungle monkeys."  

She said she was not in a courtroom and refused to answer my question. 

I also spoke to the Chief. He told me he's unaware that he made any racially offensive comments, but that if he did, he'd be willing to accept responsibility.  

There's nothing subtle about Richard's racism.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Is Lisa Scheller the Lehigh Valley's Manchurian Candidate?

"Would You Be Doing Business With Germany During WWII?"

That was a question that conservative WAEB radio host Bobby Gunther Walsh posed to Steve "1 of 20" Lynch during his radio show yesterday morning.  Real patriots, unlike those who prance around at flag rallies with designer camoflauge and AR-15s, understand that doing business with the enemy is unAmerican. GOP Congressional candidate Lisa Scheller is the 100% owner of Silberline Manufacturing. And guess what?  She's doing business with China, our biggest enemy. She does more than trade with this human rights abuser. Her company actually operates two manufacturing facilities there, with a third one on the way. This is why no one who actually cares about this country should elect her to Congress. It's fair to say that she'll be representing President Xi Jinping, but not the American people. 

This was the knock against her during the primary, but she ran a very carefully choreographed campaign with very limited public exposure. Her money won the day against a noble effort by Kevin Dellicker to warn everyone that the Lehigh Valley had its very own Manchurian candidate. 

On election night, Scheller had a watch party, which is the norm. But unlike anyone I can remember (except for Doug Mastriano), her event was private. The press was denied access. Gunther, on his radio show, told his listeners about this, and mentioned that "chucklehead" Steve Lynch actually pulled a reporter away. 

Chucklehead was tuned in, and started blowin' oil right after Gunther made his remark. He pulled over immediately and began ranting at Facebook. He called Gunther as liar several times and then did one of his Facebook Lives. He stopped short of calling Gunther a demon or subhuman, as he did with me about a week or so ago. There was no challenge to a duel, as there was with me. But he was really pissed because, as he insisted, he was not even there.

Lynch quickly changed his tune when Gunther agreed to bring Chucklehead on his show yesterday to clear the air.  Lynch deleted his ugly rant and tried to pretend he was going to be mature. 

Now I have no knowledge whether Lynch actually pulled anyone away, but I do know this. He was there. He said so himself during one of his several thousand Facebook Lives he cuts daily while driving,

I expected to hear Lynch address the actual accusation when he was on the air. He never did. He instead embarked on a feeble defense of Scheller's business ties to China. 

He pointed out that her company is 100% American owned. No shit.She owns it. And as Gunther pointed out, so what? That is what the radio host called "semantics." It fails to address the fact that this Scheller-owned company has some fairly deep roots in the soil of our largest adversary. 

Lynch claims he was unable to get a word in edgewise because of Gunther's constant interruptions. That's untrue. On several occasions, Gunther actually asked him to make his case.   

"Have at it!" Gunther started. "Go ahead," he said later. Gunther asked what he had wrong. Lynch then went on to discuss a previous interview, failing to address the reason for his appearance.  

"If she's running, she's going to be a Congress person for us," asked Gunther. "How is she not conflicted?"

"China is our number one enemy. They are eating our lunch economically and they're using that against us militarily." 

The Daily Beast has noted an alarming trend of former U.S officials who are lobbying for China, both Democratic and Republican. But if elected, Scheller will be a member of Congress who owns a company with as many as three manufacturing sites in our biggest adversary. This country has learned how to welcome companies willing to play by its rules, while slamming the door shut on businesses that ask too many questions about the 80,000 Uyghurs who have been relocated and forced to work at many foreign factories.

Lynch had numerous opportunities to explain why Scheller's business ties to China is not a conflict, he completely failed. 

In  the end Lynch proved two things. First, Scheller in Congress is a conflict of interest. Second, Lynch really is a chucklehead.  

Monday, May 23, 2022

Lynch Takeover of NorCo GOP a Win For Hate and Fear

The unofficial tally of voting at the May 17 shows a Steve Lynch takeover of Northampton County's GOP.  I suspect it may also be a win for the politics of fear and hatred. 

The Lynch mob captured four of seven state committee seats. He himself was the lead vote getter with 12,512 votes. That's nearly 2,000 more votes than the second highest candidate. He's well on his way to becoming county chair as well. Numerous of his myrmidons were elected to the county committee.

Republican turnout was 35.35% for last week's election. That's a substantial turnout in a GOP primary. It's an indication that a large percentage of Republicans are unfortunately sold on a message of hate and fear. 

Lynch, who has never served a day in the military, likes to call himself a "patriot." Though soundly defeated in the Exec race, he continues to pretend he speaks for "We the people." Hed plays on fear and hate, and this weekend alone, provided several examples. 

On his Facebook page, he posted a comment from a fellow Republican criticizing him, and then gave the green light to an acolyte who asked for permission  to troll her. 

He also implied that Democrats are communists, adding, "You don't negotiate with Communists you destroy them." He's critical of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, not just for her far-left views, but her engagement to a white guy. 

And of course, he's already calling a monkeypox outbreak a hoax. 

Instead of responding to my previous criticisms with reason, he challenged me to a boxing match and called on his armed thugs to "blast" me (I assume figuratively). They actually did terrorize a GOP state committee candidate who dared to support Kevin Dellicker instead of Lisa Scheller for Congress. 

"The American experiment of democracy is in danger like it hasn't been in my lifetime," observed President Joe Biden on Friday. "Hate and fear are getting too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America." 

That's Steve Lynch. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

NorCo Council Passes McClure's $15.5 Million Gracedale Plan

During a lengthy, four-hour long meeting last night, Northampton County Council adopted Executive Lamont McClure's $15.5 million plan to recruit and retain staff at Gracedale with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

His plan calls for the following: $2.5 million for nursing agencies to supply manpower until more staff is hired; $2 million to build an on-site Daycare for Gracedale staff at no cost to them; $10 million for bonuses paid to keep and recruit staff over a two-year window; and $1 million for capital projects. 

The only part of the plan to pass unanimously was the $1 million set aside for capital projects at Gracedale.

The $10 million for recruiting and retention bonuses was amended at the request of Council member John Goffredo to exclude Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King as well as the Nursing Director and her top deputy. This bonus is a $2,500 annual payment over four years to all staff. The only Council member opposed was John Brown. 

The most controversial aspect of the plan is $2 million for an on-site Daycare. At the request of Council member John Cusick, this was amended to include workers at 911 and forensic center, if possible. Council was advised that this daycare is a pilot program, and might ultimately be expanded to include the entire county. 

The only Council members opposed to the daycare were John Brown and John Goffredo. 

On Monday, I will go in the more detail with the pros and cons made by Council members. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

NorCo Council Ponders McClure's $15.5 Million Plan at Gracedale

On May 5, Northampton County Council tabled Executive Lamont McClure's $15.5 million plan to turn things around at Gracedale. Although all Council members generally supported the idea of investing in the county's embattled nursing home, they wanted more detail. They got it last night. 

The $15.5 million is part of about $30 million that NorCo will receive this month from the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted by Congress in response to the pandemic.

McClure's original plan called for the following: $2.5 million for nursing agencies to supply manpower; $2 million to build an on-site Daycare for Gracedale staff at no cost to them; $5 million for bonuses paid to keep and recruit staff over a two-year window; $1 million for capital projects; and $5 million to replace revenue lost as a result of the reduced census.

Bonuses - $5 million

In response to Council's concerns, McClure dropped his proposal to set aside $5 million to replace lost revenue. He has instead added that money to extend the bonuses proposed to keep and recruit staff for four-years instead of two years. Every person hired or working at Gracedale, from Housekeeping to Administrator, will be entitled to a $2,500 annual bonus paid annually over four years. 

"If you're a CNA [certified nurse's aid] within the sound of my voice, it would be a really good time to come to Gracedale," he said, and repeated it several times. 

With the exception of member John Brown, County Council was generally supportive. Council member John Cusick initially suggested that the bonuses be limited to those workers who work directly with residents. But he was swayed by McClure's argument that all workers are "absolutely critical." He was the Council member to move the bonuses for consideration by the board tonight. 

Brown complained that, despite multiple requests, the administration has failed to provide him with a breakdown of the workers employed at Gracedale. he observed that the county has offered similar incentives in the past, to no avail. He said the county "was throwing money at something, and then you're going to make it up as you go along, but I don't see that as functionally being a plan."

Brown's dig brought McClure to his feet. He turned the tables on Brown, and the two sparred. 

"What's your plan? What would you do with the $10,000," he asked. "We're all ears."

- "I would have to have more information to be able to take a look at that."     

"What information would you need, Mr.Brown?  You had my job for four years. What information would you need, sir? I understand you're opposed to the efficient and long-term success of Gracedale, but you said we don't have a plan. What's yours?

- "No I did not say that I'm opposed to the long-term and efficient plan, again, I don't have enough detail to move this forward. ... I don't even know how many full-time employees we currently have. And what is the long-term impact? And if you do provide this and you're able to begin ro sustain some recruitment or retention overall, what does that do to Gracedale's budget and how are you going to make up the revenue then to maintain this going forward once this goes away? ... ." 

"Well clearly we would not be able to offer $10,000 bonuses forever. This is an emergency measure to deal with an emergency. We need to be able to hire, we need to be able to get people in the door. There is a very good plan top get people in the door. There is a marketing plan. And the best piece of that marketing plan is this $10,000. 

McClure went on to say that "questioning the plan to death" will only further endanger the home. "Not allowing us to do this is setting us up to fail."

-"The reality of this, Mr. McClure is that the home is failing, has been failing for an extended period of time.  ... You're not addressing the management issues that I feel are part of the problem. ... ." Brown added that Gracedale employees are the ones telling him that management is the real issue.

"My suspicion is there'll  never be enough detail for you," continued McClure. 

Unfortunately, just as things were getting good and I thought Steve Lynch might pop in with boxing gloves and challenge everyone to a duel, Council President Lori Vargo Heffner gave them both a time out.  "I don't think anyone up here needs or wants the antagonism." 

Speak for yourself, Heffner!  

"Why the rush?" she asked McClure. He likened Gracedale to a tanker (hopefully not The Titanic) ) that needs a lot of time to turn around. "If we don't start now, we won't turn it around."  

Tara Zrinski said these bonuses will be a Godsend, not just to Gracedale staffers, but to "vulnerable people" who have nowhere else to go. 

"Tara hit the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned," added Kerry Myers. But he said that as soon as he leaves, he'll be getting calls from other county workers asking, "What about us?" 

McClure later explained that he hopes the hiring and retention bonuses will yield 54-60 nursing staff, and at that point Gracedale will be able to provide the required 2.7 hours of daily nursing care per resident. 

Capital Projects - $1 million

Council members Lori Varho Heffner and Ron Heckman both noted this money is needed for converting four-resident rooms to two-resident rooms. This is currently under consideration by the federal government. "I think we're going to end up needing more money," noted Heckman. Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King said that the majority of rooms at Gracedale (about 300) are for four residents. 

Council member John Goffredo said that the bonus money is a "no-brainer," but he has reservations about how much money is needed to change the occupancy of 300 rooms. 

McClure then stated that, if the room occupancy is reduced, the county will have to decide whether the home can even continue.  If it does, the county will probably need to borrow. 

Council will vote on this tonight. 

Nursing agency staffing - $2.5 million 

Because of staffing shortages, Gracedale brings in outside nursing agencies to provide staff.  The hourly rate paid for agency nurses is much higher than what is paid to workers.

Council member John Cusick had a problem with using these agencies. "If we were paying substitute teachers more than we pay our regular teachers, I would probably quit and become a substitute. We're almost incentivizing it by paying it. This is one I'm gonna' be a No on."   

McClure said he feels the way Cusick does, "but I can't get to the numbers I need without it." Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King noted that the higher salary is paid to the agency, not the nurse. She indicates she's been able to recruit few agency nurses who are looking for homes. 

Daycare - $2 million 

McClure presented detailed plans to Council. "If it's done right, I think it could be great, said Council member John Goffredo. "Some of the staff would like it tomorrow," said Jennifer-Stewart King.  The daycare could be operational by year's end. 

It will start out for Gracedale workers only, but it could be extended to others. The total cost of construction might be as low as $200,000. It will be located next to the chapel,and there will be interaction between residents and children. 

Lori Vargo Heffner indicated she'd like to wait until June 2 to take action on the plan.

"This is the single biggest piece of the recruiting puzzle,: said McClure.  

Heckman said his concern is that this will be a continuing cost. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Scheller Bans WFMZ From Private Election Watch Party

Taking a page out of the Doug Mastriano playbook, LV Congressional candidate Lisa Scheller banned the press from an election watch party as votes were being tabulated.  WAEB's Bobby Gunther Walsh made this observation during his morning broadcast, adding that "chucklehead" Steve Lynch pulled a reporter away. 

This in turn drove newly elected Republican State committeeman Steve Lynch, who denied he was even there. Lynch called Walsh a "bold-faced liar" and demanded that Walsh allow him on his show for a "productive conversation."  

I'm surprised he didn't challenge Walsh to a duel. 

Regardless whether "chucklehead" Lynch pulled anyone away, the fact remains that Scheller shut out the press from what is almost always an open event. Was Xi Jinping there? Was she afraid she might be questioned about her business ties to China and its blatant denial of human rights. 

That's the story, not the chucklehead. Thanks for making us all aware, Steve. You're already doing a great job for your party.   

Unofficial Results Show Scheller and Miller Ahead

The unofficial results in both Lehigh and Northampton County are complete.  

Kevin Dellicker beat Lisa Scheller in the Congressional race in Lehigh, 15,758 to 15,223. But Scheller won NorCo, 14,684 to 12,146. Overall, Scheller is ahead with 29,907 votes to 27,904 for Dellicker. 

In the race for Pa. Senate 14, Nick Miller beat Tara Zrinski in Lehigh, 7,572 to 3,483. But Zrinski won NorCo, 5,220 to 1,209. Overall, Miller is ahead, 8781 to 8703. 

These leads could change during the official canvass.   

They're Still Countin'

It's a wrap. Pennsylvania's midterm primary election is now history. Here's what I know. 

Governor: According to WFMZ-TV69, Republican Doug Mastiano will face Democrat Josh Shapiro in the Fall for Governor This has to be the worst candidate Republicans could have nominated. Because there were nine candidates, an extremist like Mastriano could win with just 45% of the vote. And he did. Josh Shapiro, who is more moderate, will win this race in November. Republicans have snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. 

Lt. Governor: Democrat Austin Davis will face Republican Carrie Delrosso in November. Former NorCo Exec John Brown ran on the Republican side. Though he only snagged 5% of the vote, he won in Northampton and Lehigh County. 

US Senate: Democrat John Fetterman will face either Trump-backed Mehmet Oz or hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.  McCormick was only slightly ahead as of midnight. The Republican nominee will be able to tie Fetterman to Wolf's record as Governor. 

US Congress: In Lehigh County, Kevin Dellicker is slightly ahead of Lisa Scheller. In Northampton, Scheller has the lead. WFMZ has Scheller with a slight lead with about 150 precincts to go. 

Pa. Senate District 14 -  In this newly created Senate district, it's a tale of two counties. 

On the Democratic side, Tara Zrinski is way ahead of Nick Miller in Northampton, but Nick Miller is way ahead in Lehigh. WFMZ has Miller ahead, and that should hold because I suspect the uncounted Lehigh precincts will go to him. 

On the Republican side, Dean Browning is comfortably ahead of both Cindy Miller and Omy Maldonado. 

Pa. Senate District 15 - I didn't see this one coming. Long time Senator Pat Browne is on his way to being unseated by anti-masker Jarrett Coleman on the GOP side. Browne is the Appropriations Chair. 
The winner of this race will face Democrat Mark Pinsley in November.

State House Races:  Josh Siegel is comfortably ahead of Saeed Georges in Pa-22 (East Side Allentown), and will face Republican Bob Smith in November. Pete Schweyer has once again defeated Enid Sanmtiago in what is now Pa-134. He will face Republican Brent Labenberg in November. Ryan MacKenzie has defeated Gary Day in Pa-187.

NorCo State Committee: Steve Lynch was the top vote getter with 11,368 votes No one came close to his total. I expected and predicted this would happen. He only had to appeal to a plurality of voters on the far right. This is great news for Democrats. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Where to See Unofficial Election Results

I know lots of people tune into WFMZ-TV69, which has great election coverage. But the best way to find out who's ahead is by looking at the unofficial elections results at each county. Northampton County began posting results as soon as the polls closed at 8 pm, and had 60 of 154 precincts tabulated by 10:30 pm. Lehigh County is in similar shape. 

I will check in at midnight and give you a report on the local races. 

Election Day: Make Last Minute Picks, Any Problems at Polls?

On Election Day, I invite readers to make their last-minute picks for their favorite candidates. Who knows? You might sway one voter.

In addition to making picks, I 'd appreciate any comments about your experience at the polls. Where did you vote? What time? What was turnout like? Did you notice any problems? I took advantage of early voting so I have no reason to go to any polls, but weather permitting, might cycle by a few. 

The greeters who hand you palm cards outside the doors are party or candidate volunteers. They are permitted to campaign so long as they are 10' away from the polling place. I know it's annoying to be accosted as you vote, but these people are volunteers who put in a long day. 

You are allowed to wear whatever you want and you can say whatever you want UNTIL you step inside the polling place. Once inside, no active electioneering is permitted.. So while you can wear a T-shirt for your candidate, you have to stop talking about politics inside the polling place. 

No police officers are permitted within 100' of a polling place unless they are there to vote or are called  by elections officials. You may see a uniformed person, but that's a constable. He's expressly permitted to be there 

If you are told you are not registered and know you are, ask to vote by provisional ballot. You ALWAYS have the right to vote by provisional ballot, even if an elections judge tells you otherwise. 

If you received a mail-in ballot but decided you want to vote in person, be sure to bring your mail-in ballot with you. It will be voided and you can vote in person.If you've lost your ballot or never received it, you can still insist on voting provisionally. During the official canvass, elections officials will determine whether you already voted by mail-in ballot. If not, your provisional ballot will count. 

As for my own recommendations in the Dem primary, I have none. I feel particularly unenthusiastic about the choices.  

If I lived in Allentown, I'd certainly be picking Nick Miller in the state senate race and Saeed Georges in the State House. But then again, Allentown voters have repeatedly voted for Ed Pawlowski. 

In the GOP primary, I think Lisa Scheller will clobber Kevin Dellicker in the LV Congressional race. He started out strong and had lots of grass roots support, as evidenced by the number of people who signed his nomination petition. But he failed to capitalize on a good start. He strikes me as more conservative than Scheller, but the tea party hates him and actually refused to allow him to speak at one of their meetings. 

This is good news for Democrats. In a bad year, for Democrats nationally, incuimbent Susan Wild will be able to slam Scheller for her business ties to China. I can see the ad now. "Haven't we learned it's a mistake to do business with our enemies? Scheller will be doing it from the Halls of Congress. Will she represent you or Xi Jinping?"  

Since there are several openings for state committee, I expect Steve Lynch to have enough support from party extremists to snag a slot. This is good news for Dems. I'm sure the Lynch mob will put their foot in their mouths several times, as they've already done.