Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bethlehem's Email Block and That Pesky First Amendment

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOn Friday, I told you about a Bethlehem City Council meeting during which two residents complained that their emails to city hall had been blocked. As these accusations were hurled, Mayor Callahan started to smile (or was it sneer?) at his attackers, which only made them more upset. "I have no idea what he's talking about" was Callahan's response, and this time he was sneering as he gazed at his shiny shoes.




As the night wore on, it become apparent that Mayor Callahan is something of a dandy. He sure paid a lot of attention to his very shiny shoes and tailored suit, and at times it looked as though he was searching for a mirror. When citizen after citizen complained about their sewer back-up problems on Homestead Avenue, he piously proclaimed, "I know what those people are going through. I jog by there every day." He had no reaction at all to a citizen who claimed the Mayor once told him he was "off the clock" when he wanted to talk about the sewer problems along Homestead Avenue. It also became clear that a very serious Council has been frustrated by Callahan's administration at nearly every turn.

At the end of the public meeting, Councilman Joe Leeson, who had been listening to the public comment, quietly asked Council Solicitor Spadoni to look into the allegations. Joe was concerned about that pesky First Amendment, which gives people the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Lesson also pointed out that it doesn't cost the City a dime to receive an email.

Well, as it develops, Bethlehem WAS blocking email. Calling it a "nonissue," Bethlehem's business administrator lifted the block on Friday. But where did the decision to block this email come from in the first place? Do you think the Mayor knew nothing, as he claimed in Council chambers? And how many email addresses have been blocked, and for what reason?

Bethlehem's economic development director, Tony Hanna, later whined to the Morning Call that both he and the Mayor had been unfairly attacked in some emails. So did the decision to block emails originate with him? Does he have that authority? These questions all deserve answers. On Monday, I sent an email to Bethlehem's city council clerk and to Tony Hanna, and just asked them to acknowledge receipt. I heard back from the city council clerk within a few minutes, but I'm still waiting to hear from Tony. I'll send this blog post and ask him to explain how this administrative decision was reached without the Mayor's knowledge.

Bethlehem's business manager says we should all be happy and "move on to what's really important - city business." Personally, I think the First amendment is city business. It's even more important than a casino. But that's me.


Tuesday Morning Update:

I've heard from the City's Economic Development Director, Tony Hanna, and here's what Tony says:

"While very critical of me and the Mayor, the e-mail was invective laden, and at times profanity laden, and for some just irritating. About 6 or 7, it could have been more employees went to the City's IT Director and asked for the block. It was not a recommendation or an official action on anyone's part - except for IT's response. I was aware of the block, as was Dennis Reichard, Human Resources, and the City Solicitor's office and the employees of course. The Mayor may not have been aware of it. At this point, it's over and I am fine with the removal. Apparently, according to the Council Solicitor, Mr. Grubb is satisfied too. We can talk later if you wish."

I don't know about you, but I find it incredible that a techie would take it upon himself to decide who is and is not authorized email access. And if Bethlehem's Business Administrator had to issue an order directing the email block be lifted, doesn't it necessarily follow that an order had to be imposed to install the block in the first place? And if both Tony and the business Administrator were aware of this block, which was supposed to contain personal attacks against the mayor, isn't it likely the mayor knew? I thank Tony Hanna for his response.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Callahan is doing a great job as Mayor. He probably didn't even know about the e-mail filter. Your personal shots at him being "a dandy" were uncalled for. You of all people should know better than to sink that low.

Anonymous said...

In response to anonymous's comment, I again refer your readers to the official minutes of the Bethlehem City Council meeting of July 20, 2004.

I took some heat from your commenters for my comments regarding Tony.

Presumably these commenters were supporters of Rybak's victorious opponent in the primary contest to decide the Democratic Party's nominee to replace retiring 133rd legislative district representative T.J. Rooney.

My comments were not meant to condone Rybak's alleged negative campaign (which I did not follow), but to focus your readers' attention on the minutes of the July 20, 2004, meeting.

Rybak had brought these minutes up in his 2005 primary contest with John Callahan, a contest that I did follow closely.

In fact, in the company of my Kathy and our neighbor Cliff O'Hearn, I was threatened with ejection from the Democrats for America (DFA) meeting held February 2, 2005, Ground Hog Day, in the atrium room of the Brew Pub in Centre City Bethlehem.

The reason for the threat? I was urging DFA members to recruit candidates for the Democratic primary to challenge the incumbents, including John Callahan.

The July 20, 2004, minutes reveal s naked abuse of authority by Callahan: He interfered with and bullied the independent Bethlehem Authority and its chair Ronald Donchez.

Callahan insisted on throwing the swaption refunding of the Authority's $94 million bond issued in 1994 for Bethlehem's water treatment plant to bond underwriter Merrill Lynch.

Donchez was just as insistent on bidding the refunding competitively for the best possible deal on behalf of Bethlehem's taxpayers.

Csllahan became so frustrated with Donchez, according to the July 20, 2005, minutes - and the minutes of subsequent meetings - that Callahan called Donchez a "f---ing boy scout."

All of these minutes, once displayed on Bethlehem City's website, have since disappeared.

In fact, the July 20, 2005, minutes had disappeared once before. They were restored after I complained to Bethlehem City Councilwoman Jean Belinki on her Friday WGPA-AM call-in talk-radio show.

But then they disappeared again.

They are still unavailable on the Internet for the public's perusal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon 12:20, Thankks for the comments. Callahan sure did not impress me, noe did he seeom to impress those sitting on Council. And it really did look like he was looking for a mirror. I also did not like the way he sneered when people addreeswed Council during courtesy of the floor, his "jogging" remark, and his reputed "off the clcok" remark. And he most ceretainly is NOT doing a fine job, as evidenced by a meeting packed with unhappey Homestead AVE residents dealing with a problem that Callahan had to promised to fix 10 months earlier. I was impressed by Council, but not by Callahan.

My impression about Callahan is based upon observations at one meeting, and I think it appropriate becauee it seems to interfere with his effectiveness.

But to be fair, it was just one meeting. Perhaps Callahan is doing a "great job." You could have fooled me. I'll be watching him again.

Anonymous said...

One more time: Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan usurped the authority not only that of the Bethlehem Authority and its chairman Ron Donchez; but he also usurped the authority of the Bethlehem City Council.

And the lesson here is one that will not be lost on those like me who have insisted since December 18, 2001, that the Northampton County General Purpose Authority and its $111 million bond for Government Center expansion and "economic development" are frauds.

"Economic development" is the responsibility of local municipalities, not the county. The same is true of Open Space, which effectively can be saved only through the enactment and enforcement of zoning ordinances by local municipalities.

Congresses of Government (COGs), inter-governmental agreements akin to former Northampton County Councilwoman and now Executive John Stoffa-appointed Court Services Director Mary T. Ensslin's proposed bi-county (Lehigh and Northampton won't cut it.

Northampton County Council has no severer critic than I, but eveything it does is not negative. I can say the same for John Stoffa. Though I frequently disagree with him, vociferously and even vehemently at times, at least he recognizes that the governing body of Northampton County is its council, not the executive.

My biggest beef with county council is that two of its members, Lamont McClure and Anthony Branco were appointed, not elected to that body, and thus do not represent the will of the voters.

They rejected both in the May 17, 2005, Democratic primary. Ditto the Bethlehem Area School District director defeated in that same priary election but later appointed the the position by the majority of his Democratic cronies on the board.

The Mcclure-Branco appointments have resulted in your complaint alleging violations of Pennsylvania's Open Public Meetings statute, or Sunshine Law.

And the subsequent appointment of the voter-rejected BASD director ignited a federal discrimination suit brought by two highly qualified Hispanic candidates for the position.

But as far as rejecting Stoffa's, Ensslin's, and the Weller Health and Wellness Foundation county-wide health department - fleshed out on the bones of Bethlehem's department - county council was right.

Ditto its rejection of Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce Vice President Marta Boulos Gabriel as Stoffa-nominated Northampton County administrator - a position that's been vacant since PA Governor Ed Rendell picked up Jim "flaming monkeys will fly from my ass before a county prison will be built outside of Easton" Hickey in a rapture and transported him to heavenly mansions and golden streets of Harrisburg.

Ditto Northampton County Councilman Charles Dertinger's show of balls in challenging incumbent 15th Congressional District representative Charlie Dent and for accepting your challenge to accept no political campaign contributions from the Big Oil PACs.

Thanks again for having me on your radio talk show yesterday. I was honored to be a guest with the councilwoman from your adopted hometown of Nazareth, Ms. Werner.

Anonymous said...

My point is: you can criticize what he does or doesn't do as Mayor all you want. Every elected official's record is fair game for public scrutiny.

But, your cheap shots about him "looking for a mirror" and being "a dandy" [that's archaic, by the way] disappoint me because I always thought that you eschewed personal attacks on your blog. Or is it an "ethical" matter where YOU get to decide what's "personal" and what's not?

I fail to see how you calling him those names passes for valid criticism of his public record. Frankly, Bernie, I thought you were better than that.

Anonymous said...

Billy,

You're an idiot. No one likes you and no one listens to your psychotic ramblings.

Get a life--or at least try to rent one.

Anonymous said...

The $13.1 million from Northampton County's $111 million MOAB (Mother of All Bonds, not to be confused with Massive Ordnanc Arial Bomb, refined successor to the deadly "daisy cutter" of Viet Nam)to construct Commerce Center Boulevard from Route 412 and across the former Bethlehem Steel's Saucon Tract and teminating in a cul-de-sac less than a mile away at the site of the Majestic Realty Corporation of Los Angeles, Callformia, was not enough:

Governor Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell and the legislative bodies of Harrisburg, Northampton County, and Bethlehem, and the Bethlehem Area School District, felt further obliged to throw in Keystone Innovation Zone tax exemptions for at least four properties in the Saucon Tract bordering on Route 412.

And as you said on your radio show yesterday, much more than heavy metal toxins contaminate the former Steel's 1600-1800 acres.

The KIZ tax exemptions and other taxpayer subsidies replace the Comprehensive Enrionmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)for cleaning up Love Canal Superfund Sites like the former Steel.

Before its gutting by Presdent George W. Bush and his administration - with the cooperation of former PA Gov. Tom Ridge and former NJ Gov. and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Christie Whitman - the property owners of Superfund Sites were held responsible for their contaminated properties's clean-up costs.

At least Northampton County taxpayers can breath a sigh of relief that Bethlehem is going to do this clean-up on the cheap:

The Christmas City of County Nicholas Von Zinzendorf is simply going to "cap" the contaminated site with big-box building footprints like the Las Vegas Sands Casino and luxury hotel and their impervious parking lots.

Opponents of sheldon Adelson's, Fast Eddie's, Michael Perrucci's, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan's, and Behlehem City Council President J. Michael Schweder's Superfund Site clean-up should be telling the BethWorks Now competing casinos this:

Pennsylvania's Governor Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell and the state legislature's Act 71 and Act 72 are frauds, a fact acknowledged even in the lead editorial of today's edition of The Morning Call.

Please get on the bandwagon of Bucks County state representative Paul Clymer and the young family friend and class-mate of my older daughter Sarah Parker-Givens at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, Meridith Warner, who with her husband Jeremy just recently bought their first home in Philadelphia's Fishtown neighborhood, proposed site for one of the casinos.

Meredith and Jeremy don't want a casiono in their neighborhood, and Meredith has organized growing neighborhood opposition.

Meredith, whose listed on my e-mail list, can use your help. She just lost her part-time job at the Black Sheep Restuarant in Lumberville, PA, shut down indefinately by the June 28, 2006, floods.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous's calling me an "idiot" is not grounds for a lawsuit.

But the public denunciation of me as a "terrorist" by former Easton City Council President Tim Pickel and the installation of bullet-proof glass in the entrance to the Easton City Council offices to protect City Clerk Tom Hess from me is.

In fact, Bernie, it was you who advised me I have grounds for a suit against the City under Quo Warranto, since the it has placed me in a special class, "dangerous terrorist," legal relief that was available to the Republican-controlled county council under the presidency of J. Michael Dowd and to District Attorney John M. Morganelli.

Had they sought this relief instead of obstructing and coverning it up, Northampton County's General purpose Authority and its 2001 $111 million bond would have been dissolved because of fraud.

This fact that the GPA and its 2001 $111 million bond are fraud lies in the $880,000 insurance policy the GPA bought on behalf of the county's taxpayers to them protect them against deficiencies in the bond.

Northampton County officials could not avail the taxpayer of this protection:

They knew that the GPA and its bond (and the $30 million bond for the Juvenile Correction Center and Probation Office issue by the GPA in 1988)were fraudulent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon 8:44, I get your point. Now let's see - we have a Mayor who 1)walks in late to a public meeting; 2) spends a lot of time looking at his shiny shoes and his nice suit; 3) spends even more time looking at his watch; 4) tries to demonstrate his concern for Homestead Ave residents by saying he jogs by there every day; 5) spends a lot of time laughing and talking with city adminoistrators while Council tries to handle a room full of angry residents; 6) actually sneers at two residents who criticize him during public comments; and 7) claims incredibly to "know nothing" about blocking emails that just happen to be critical of him.

All of this demonstrates, in my view, the picture of a man who does not take his job that seriously. Hence, I think my observations were appropriate and perhaps explain some of Council's frustration. Thus, it's not personal.

Having said that, my observations are based on only one meeting. Maybe I'm wrong or maybe Callahan needs to mature.

As far as use of the archaic word "dandy" is concerned, I didn't want to call him smug. That's a bit harsh, and I don't think it's true. But I do think he takes his relationship with Council too lightly, from what I've seen.

You are right. I don't like personal attacks unless they are related to job performance. This one is related.

I'll think about what you said. You apparently have your own opinion of the "great job" that Callahan is doing, and that might have colored your reaction when you saw him criticized. I went into the meeting with an open mind, and don't have anything against him.

But if my perception is accurate, he'll have a few opponents next time he tries to run.

Anonymous said...

I have contacted my immediate family in Arizona about the advisablility of a lawsuit initiated by me against the commonwealth of Pennsylania, Northampton, and the county's two second-class cities, Bethlehem and Easton.

My immediate family members at my request have also contacted the local office of U.S. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Senator McCain and his committee held public hearings on the influence-peddling of "Casino" Jack Abramoff, his PIO Michael Scanlon; Grover Norquist, an Abramoff operative with same surnane as the woman from whom Kathy and I bought our house on College Hill,Volz; and staff members of the U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton, a former Arizona attorney general.

Norton has resigned at President George W. Bush's Secretary of the Interior as the result of the hearings conducted by Senator McCain and his office.

America's aboriginal people still have the right under current federal statute to own and operate slot-machine gambling casinos in locations off their reservations; e.g., the 315 acres stolen from the Delaware and Lenni Lenape native-Americans by Pennsylvania Proprietor William Penn's son Thomas in the notorious Walking Purchase fraud of 1737.

This fraud involved trickery and the forging of deeds. In fact, some of the private property owners of this stolen property - headquarters of the international Binney & Smith crayola Crayon and Fuller corporations and the land on which real estate developer Nic Zawarski & Sons has built hundreds of homes - still do not have title to their property.

At least Joe Leeson, partner of brother William in the lawfirm of Leeson and Bethlehem City Councilman opposed to casino gambling in the Christmas City of County Nicholas Von Zinzendorf and the Moravians, is consistent.

As the attorney for plaintiff Northampton County in the Delaware-Lenni Lenape lawsuit, Joe Leeson not only opposes slot-machine gambling casinos in Bethlehem; but he also opposes a casino owned by the Delawares.

By contrast, 15th Congressional District representative Charlie Dent opposes casino gambling in Forks Township but supports it, however tacitly, in South Bethlehem.

He and colleague Califormia represntative Richard Pombo have intoduced legislation in Congrews that would prohibit the ownership and operation of casinos by any of America's indigenous people anywhere off their reservation.

The McCain aide whom my family contacted at my behest in Arizona was Mr. James R. Currieo whose telephone number is (520) 670-6334.

LVDem said...

Billy, 95% of what you typed had nothing to do with Bethlehem, the 1st Amendment or email. I literally don't read what you say and I have a feeling that others are starting to feel the same way, which is a shame b/c I feel you have some good things to say. Keep it to a paragraph and you will have people listening more.

Personally, John Callahan is as nice a guy as you will meet when you see him on the sidewalk. I've never seen him in the "board room" but having talked to him "on the street", I can say he is passionate, down to earth and really knows his stuff. I'll defer, however, on the actions of that night you saw him Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, My blog post, as I told another commenter, are based strictly on what I saw in Council. I asked a LVBO member and he had the same impression.

Now this is unfortunate if Callahan is not like that because he certainly is creating a bad impression. I don't think he gained many votes that night. His outward behavior suggested he took the whole thing too lightly.

I am encouraged, however, that your one on one impression is different.

Thanks and take care.

Anonymous said...

Billy, please keep rambling because it's the fastest way to prove to even more people that you truly are an idiot. You and Tony Ryback were twins separated at birth--because every person he actually met and talked to during the primary voted AGAINST him (and for very good reasons!).

Bernie, given what Tony Hanna told you about the e-mail filter in place at City Hall, maybe you should scroll all the way up and admit you were wrong.

But since you are firmly entrenched in "ATTACK" mode, I look forward to you calling Don Cunningham a gigolo, Karen Beyer a slut, Jenn Mann a dyke, and Lisa Boscola a drunk. Because in your warped mind, those kind of personal attacks can be justified just as easily as you defended calling Mayor Callahan a "dandy."

You lost a lot of credibility when you lost your ethics. And your 7 very subjective points of justification for personally attacking Callahan were something I'd expect from Ron Angle, not you.

I expected better. Sad. Very sad.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon: Thanks for your comments. I considered what you said and what I said was entirely justified and appropriate. I listed 7 items that supported my conclusion, and those were observations, not subjective, and they were happening dutring a meeting. Let's face it, he is a dandy, and that's bad when it interferes with a meeting, and it does. I learned more and more as the day went on today, and was told that at times, Council actually has to wait for him to stop chatting with his pals or laughing so they can continue their meeting.

Now, as far as the IT department is concerned, I don't believe those decisons should be made by IT guys. And I also find it totally incredible that the mayor did not know that this block had been imposed. There's nothing wrong with asking questions. That's how you find out what's going on. And I still would like to know exactly what role Callahan had with this.

If Callahan was doing the "great job" you described in your earlier comments, he would not have acted during a public meeting with a complete disregard both for Council and the people who were there. I didn't make him late. I didn't make him constantly look at his watch. I didn't make him smirk at people who addressed council. I didn't make him constantly look at his shiny shoes and splendid suit.
What makes this fair game is that Callahan engaged in this type of activity during a public meeting.

I'll give you this much - my observations are based on what I saw in one meeting. And calling Callahan a bit of a dandy is not the worst thing in the world. But as you correctly observed, I have a warped mind.

As far as my future posts are concerned, you must have been looking at my computer. Let's say that Angle or Dowd walked into a public meeting drunk out of his mind. Don't you think the press would pick up on that? Of course, because it is directly related to his job.

I'm sure you get this. Callahan may be a great guy, but the way he acted at council was a little insulting. You must get that, too. It's not a big criticism.

Thanks for your comments.

Bernie O'Hare said...

My point is: you can criticize what he does or doesn't do as Mayor all you want. Every elected official's record is fair game for public scrutiny.
***********************************
Agreed. And when a Mayor's behavior has an impact on a public meeting, that behavior is fair game. People come down on Angle for being disruptive and impose Codes of Civility and crap like that. But there are many ways to be disruptive, and some of them are outwardly very civil.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

OK, points well made and well taken.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You made good points as well.

Anonymous said...

I am not talking about Tony Rybak's 2006 campaign against Joe Brennan and three other candidates.

I did not follow that campaign; thus I'm in no position to speak to it.

I'm talking about Rybak's 2005 challenge to John Callahan.

I did follow that campaign. In the company of my wife, Kathy, and our neighbor then, Cliff O'Hearn, and many others, I was threatend with ejection from the Democrats for America meeting in Bethlehem's Brew Pub on February 2, 2005, Ground Hog Day.

Two of the others at that meeting, DFA members Jeanne Doyle and her husband, were also at a DFA meeting held at the Ship's Inn in Milford, New Jersey, in January 2005, where we talked live with Democratic National Committee Chair candidate Howard Dean in a nationally broadcast radio conference call.

Dean told us he was confident he had the votes for the position and was awaiting the endorsement of only one more nationally known Democratic Party leader.

That leader, we learned later, was Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, a decorated Army combat veteran and hero, not a "chickenhawk."

My offense? Simply this: Acting on the advice of Dean, I urged the DFA members help reshape the Democratic Party by recruiting candidates to challenge incumbents like John Callahan, a political poppet of Pennsylvania Governor Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell, Las Vegas Sands Casino union-busting owner Sheldon Adelson, Newmark & Co. CEO Barry Gosin, BethWorks Now's opportunistic Michael Perrucci, and Richard Feinstein, CEO and managing partner of Feinstein, badillo, Wagner, and Harding lawfirm.

Richard Feinstein is a darling of the Democratic National Committee and a major campaign contributor to the party.

A New York resident like his law partners and Barry Gosin, Feinstein was a frequent guest of Bill Clinton's White House coffee klatches and guest of the Lincoln bedroom.

Anonymous said...

After all, the name of Bernie O'Hare's blog is "Lehigh Valley Ramblings."

So in the spirit of Bernie's blog, my comments "ramble" - and, I hope, "rumble" as well, with a deep, long, rolling sound that continues to attract readers and commenters like you.

Thank you for your comment, lvDem.

LVDem said...

"I did follow that campaign. In the company of my wife, Kathy, and our neighbor then, Cliff O'Hearn, and many others, I was threatend with ejection from the Democrats for America meeting in Bethlehem's Brew Pub on February 2, 2005, Ground Hog Day."

That is not the truth. I was at that meeting and Peter Wornsdorfer simply stated that the local DFA group was not in a position to make primary endorsements at the time (too young, not enough information) and said that in the future we would entertain such opportunities. Nobody threatened to kick you out. If I remember correctly, Peter said that now isn't the time. If you wanted to talk about it more later, it could be done. I believe what Peter said, and several of us agreed, was that if you don't like the decision, then you know where to find the door. You opted to stay. I would also like to say that nobody else brought up the subject or voiced an opinion. Besides, you brought the issue up in the middle of an introduction to Sam Bennett who was there to address the group. It was rude and ill-timed at best.

Anonymous said...

Lvdem,

Following are the facts regarding the DFA meeting in Bethlehem's Brew Pub on February 2, 2005, Ground Hog Day."

These facts are borne out in an e-mail exchange the following evening between my wife Kathy and our neighbor Cliff O'Hearn.

Kathy's e-mail, dated Feb. 3, 2005,7:40 PM, reads: "Hope you were not upset by the ruckus. That group [Bethlehem DFA] is too big for my cup of tea. It's almost 500 strong on paper. So the leader has to run it like a boot camp and they have to have bylaws, raise money, etc. When I mentioned starting a meetup in Easton, the leader [Peter Wornsdorfer] forst said, you'll never get anything going in Easton. Then he said why not just join our group, not that I'm into a power trip, bit [right!] but we [meaning John Callahan's DFA]can have more clout.

I guess it's what you're looking for. I would like a group small enough where we could pair off to the things like update voter rolls, educate voters, knock on doors to promote our candidates. etc. Not they can't do that but their sheer size necessitates all sorts of other administration.

What do you think? I got an emial a while ago from MoveOn asking if I was interested in being part of 8 to 10 right in my area. I'm going to investigate that more closely. Could be efficacious.

kathy

Cliff replied in an e-mail later that evening, subject: Ruckus. What Ruckus?:

Kathy,

I just thought of it as lively and motivated. As for size: It is important when the pols have to consider your leanings. I am, as you know, only slightly interested in the local stuff, but I did admire the lady from Allentown [Sam Bennett]. Wasn't she articulate? and knowledgeable?...I noticed that Billy's candidate, Joe Potera (do I recall the jame correctly?) [John Todaro, who didn't attend the meeting; Joe Todaro, who did attend, is John's nephew] announced [at a press conference earier that day his candidacy for Northampton County executive]and received some coverage in the Call. He [John] impressed me as a Nero Wolfe Character. As for DFA, I expect it will slim down to a small directorate with most of the rest in support except at precinct canvassing times, etc. It did not seem unmagageable to me. Mein gott, if there were no strong opinions and disagreement, it would be a pretty pissy outfit. I was delighted to hear Billy speak out. If you want to start something local, I am with you, but as I put on the form last night, I am only a spear carrier. I am hoping for a vigorous H. Dean leadership and enthusiastic supporters. The last time I put out a really strong effort was when I canvassed a whole precinct myself for LBJ in '64. That was in Winter Park, FL. I really kicked my ass when Johnson proceeded to escalate. I could tell you more about those years, but preferably over a Beefeater.

Cliff

Anonymous said...

As Anonymous said, I may be and "idiot" whose "psychotic ramblings" no one listens to, and I may not have a "life."

But this much I do know because it is a subject I've reported on extensively:

Two Rivers Landing is a bust. It has done little or nothing to improve downtown Easton economy, only the bottom line of Binney & Smith and its parent corporation, Hallmark Cards.

Rack J. Michael Dowd's paean to B&S reported in today's The Express-Times up to Main Street Babbitt boosterism:

B&S is up to its eyeballs in one of the biggest scandals to hit this country since those of President Ulysses S. Grant's following the Civil War, such as the notorious Credit Mobilier.

I refer not to B&S's politically incorrect faux pas of introducing a new color crayon line as "Indian Red," or widely reported presence of asbestos impregnated in its product.

I refer to the "Casino" Jack Abramoff scandal racking both the Republican and Democratic parties, as reported in today's NYT:

The Texas native-American tribe that is suing Abramoff and associates like Michael Scanlon, Neil Volz, U.S. Congressman Bob Ney, and even Christian Coalition founder and Georgia Lt. Gov. candidate Ralph Reed.

The Abramoff scandal, which I have been reporting on for more than a year now, has reached, like the leachate of the Waste Management/Grand Central Sanitation, Chrin Brothers, and IESI landfills - or like the flood waters of the Delaware River washing over the Ashley developments of its owner Lou "Hannibal Lecter" Pektor in Easton's S. 3rd St. or Riegelsville's flood plains.

Or Lafayette College's New Urban Community, Bushkill Village, in the Bushkill Creek corridor on property seized by Easton under the threat, if necessary, of emiment domain.

Or the Arcadia Properties' condos and boutiques of developers Richard Thulin's and Shawn Langen's Riverwalk of Larry Holmes Drive.

At least Thulin and Langen had enough business sense to abandon their luxury condos in the Snyder-N. 4th St. HubCap Store as a bad investment.

Unfortunately, Lafayette College has seized on Thulin's and Langen's misfortune, and offered to bail them out (no pun intended).

Lafayette's trustees, alumni, and administration - and a handful of fine art and architectural majors - see Arcadia Properties bad business judgment as an opportunity to expand Bushkill Village.

Meanwhile, 15th Congressional District representative Charlie Dent has introduced legislation on behalf of B&S and other corporations headquartered in Forks Township that would deny America's aboriginal Delaware and Lenni Lenape people a slot-machine gambling casiono on the 315 acres stolen from them through trickery and forgery in the infamous Walking Purchase scandal of 1737.

Dent has no objections, however, to honky-owned casinos and race tracks, or racinos, in his district.

LVDem said...

Billy, the emails you shared had nothing to do with the meeting itself (and they were filled with more opinions than facts). Nowhere in those notes does it say you were threatened and your comments w/ Peter afterwords don't reflect threats either. Bottom line, you aren't telling the truth about that night. Your drumming up conspiracy theories that could be refuted by the 40 people that were in that meeting that night. Besides, if I remember correctly, your candidate's nephew didn't even know that his uncle was running for CE. He was surprised at your announcement. That's a great campaign: forgot to tell the family!

As far as the group size, I personally backed out b/c of personal obligations, but I know the group has taken on new leadership, a new name and has become a voice for the progressives in the area, going so far as to endorse Pennacchio in the primary. I don't know about the size, but I have a feeling that the numbers dropped but will likely pick up for a short while after labor day.

What really got me about your behavior that night, Billy was that you never publically apologized to Sam Bennett. She didn't deserve to have your rant go off just before she spoke. It had nothing to do with her, but you sure didn't care.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe this group is now called the Lehigh-Northampton Progressive Alliance. I just joined it. They meet the first Wednesday each month at the Wegmans in Beth. I'll be going to their next meeting.

Anonymous said...

Lvdem,

John Todaro's nephew Joe attended the Feb. 2 Ground Hog Day DFA massacre that my wife Kathy euphemized as a "ruckus."

Our neighor Cliff was even more charitable than Kathy: He characterized the meeting as "lively and motivated."

John Todaro's nephew Joe, whom I did not recognize because we had never met. came to the meeting with a friend friend, also unknown to me, whose name I do not recall.

After I had announced John Todaro's candidacy challenging incumbent county executive Glenn Reibman, and Joe had identified himself, his friend sitting next to him made an announcement of his own - the pure coincidence of which stunned me, nearly knocking me off my chair"

Joe's friend was the candidate of the political party of Govenrnor Ed Rendell, titular head of Pennsylvania's Democratic Party, its state party chairman and 133rd legislative district 133 reprentative T.J. Rooney, and Northampton County Committee chairman Joe Long in the 2004 election.

The coincidence that had struck me like a bolt of lightning was that the Republican opponent of Joe's friend was Bucks County republican Paul Clymer.

Representative Paul Clymer's is the strongest anti-gambling voice in the Pennsylvania legislature. He introduced the bill repealing Act 71 and its "back-ended referendum" corollary Act 72 - which the legislature has since amended, adding more referendum exemption even than the original Act 72.

And this is the coincidence that nearly knocked me off my seat, making me oblivious, at least momentarily, to everything else in the Brew Pub's atrium that fatefi; evening - including Sam Bennett, to whom I now apoligize if, as Lvdem alleges, I was rude to her.

Cliff O'Hearn's e-mail says, "I did admire the lady from Allentown," meaning Bennett, and if I were an Allentown resident, I would have voted for her in the May 17 Democratic primary.

The stunning coincidence is that while Pennsylvania's Democratic Party embraces gambling - including Joe's friend who challenged Paul Clymer in the 2004 general election - John Todaro had established his bona fides on the gambling issue at the Jan. 3, 2005, meeting of Northampton County Council, held in downtown Easton's historic Jacob Bachmann Publick House.

John and I were among the few attending the meeting on that snowy January evening, the same snow that covered the steps leading to county's historic courthouse entrance, now closed to the public, on Walnut Street.

John and I, while not outright opposing gambling at that time, neverthless expressed our concerns and those of the county's religious community - including more than 1000 of its citizens who signed a petition opposing the removal of the Ten Commandments plague from Courtroom One.

Because gambling is a moral and ethical issue as well as a potical one, John and I asked council that evening to hold public hearings to gauge public opinion on the controversail issue.

Concil agreed. Council president J. Michael Dowd gave the responsiblity of finding suitable loccations for the hearings. McHale represents Bethlehem City and Hellertown Borough, the two municipalities comprising the county's legislative District 1 on council.

Dowd gave the assignment to McHale away back in time when the presumption was that a slot machine-gambling casion would be sited in South Bethlehem.

This presumed siting was further narrowed down by another presumed fait acommpli; i.e., that the casino would be the Las Vegas Sands.

McHale finally found a hearing site, Moravian College's Foy Hall, where council conducted its first public hearing on June 28, 2005.

That was the first, and last, Northampton County Counc8l publich hearing. Gambling opponents packed the hall and scared the heck out of gambling's supporters.

These imcluded Bethlehem City council members Robert Donchez, Jean Belinki, Maggie Szabo, and council president J. Michael Schweder - a razor-thin majority of one vote.

The swing vote was that of Robert Donches, brother of principled Bethlehem Authority Board chairman Ron Donchez.

Councilman Donchez's deciding vote was based on a private agreement drawn up by him and BethWorks Now partner Michael Perrucci that the Las Vegas Sands would police itself.

Northampton County District Attorney John M Moranelli signed off on the agreement, but not Pennsylvania's State Police, who have filed a lawsuit challenging the Constituioal authority of the Las Vegas Sands Casino, Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent Association, or the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to police the Las Veas Sands or any other casino in Bethlehem or anywhere else in Pennsylvania.

LVDem said...

Billy, in none of your pointless rambling did you refute my claims. I've resisted the urge to follow conventional wisdom and say you are a foolish, crazy old man, but our give and take did nothing to resolve that. You have now started to call the events in 2005 a massacre... no blood was shed my friend. Cut the hyperbole and join reality.

If this is how you act in public meetings, rambling from one thing to another (which you do, b/c I have seen it), then it's no wonder you have such a poor reputation. I've clearly wasted my time in trying to engage you.