Friday, September 22, 2006

Norco Solicitor Zito: Elections Chair Must Avoid Appearance of Impropriety

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWas there something good on TV last night? Only five of nine members bothered to show for a regularly scheduled meeting of Northampton County Council, a bare quorum. It was still a helluva show, one for the books.

Everyone was in a bad mood. Before the meeting even started, Council Prez Grube accused me of sticking knives in his back. Huh? Then he threatened to let the air out of my tires and slice the rag top on my jeep, although he always does that. Branco looked like a zombie after his perpetual four hour commutes. He needed coffee badly. McClure was harried and unhappy. Angle, who is undergoing daily intravenous injections for his leg, gimped in with steam coming out of his ears. And Ann McHale was decked out in red, a sure sign she was taking no prisoners.

Of all people, Angle delivered the invocation, and oh what an invocation it was. His prayer focused on all the "bad people" out to get us, and called on God to protect Christians. Jews and everyone else can take care of themselves. He was getting ready to sacrifice a goat, but McHale snarled that those animal rights protestors might pop up again.

Last night was not a good night to approach Council with my rants about Wally G, the Elections Commission Chair. Wally sees no conflict with also being area chair for a local political party or in hosting a highly partisan radio show promoted by a local Dem website.

Now if I had any brains, I would have kept my mouth shut. Council was already in foul temper, and four of the five members at last night's meeting just happen to be Dems. But, as you can readily see from my prior posts, I'm an idiot. So I told Council that, regardless of the specifics in the Home Rule Charter, it's a matter of common sense that the elections commission should be above partisan politics and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I even submitted a resolution that does not demand, but simply requests, Wally G to step down.

After I had finished braying, Lamont McClure decided to forget about common sense and stick with the Charter. The Charter does not define "officer." Ah ha! How do I know a committeeman is an officer? Well, let me see. He runs for the office of committeeman. He does things Dems like me are unable to do. And in Wally G's case, he was elected by other committeemen to be an area chair. Any other conclusion turns logic on its head.

While McClure was demanding specifics on how an elections commissioner could rig an election, Vesuvius was percolating. I can't recall exactly when, but Council blew sometime around 7 PM last night. The cupola landed somewhere in Allentown, and molten lava has now damaged the judges' new marble floors. Angle and Council Prez Grube were screaming at each other about party bashing or something. Dertinger, who wasn't even present last night, was nevertheless accused of grandstanding. Grube's face was so red that all of Easton's johns stopped in, looking for a little action. At this point, Branco made a fatal error, and tattled that someone had called him a "professional prostitute." That was all the johns needed to hear. I think they dragged him down to Easton's circle as he screamed, "I quit the wrong Council." Order was finally restored when Ann McHale, the lady in red, gave everyone a time out.

I had pretty much given up hope on this wild bunch when, at the end of the meeting, Lenny Zito spoke up. He's Council's consigliere. He used to be a judge. He told Council, well, at least the five who showed, that an elections commission is a quasi judicial body. It often makes decisions that are essentially judicial. Members must avoid the appearance of impropriety, and conduct themselves with impartiality.

Holy canoli! Someone in authority actually agrees with me! I better check my research.

Zito also cautioned, however, that no action should be taken without insuring that Wally G's due process rights are protected. County Exec Stoffa, who apparently hasn't had a chance to discuss the situation with Wally G, mentioned doing just that last night. Until he does so, he's not ready to conclude there's an appearance of impropriety.

For Wally G, the writing is on the wall. It's time to step down. Delaying the inevitable will only make his party look bad and hurt the candidates he's trying to promote.

For more objective accounts of what transpired last night, the Express Times and Morning Call have excellent summaries. Their reporters escaped last night's eruption.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to Easton's circle to find Tony Branco.


LVDem said...

I love watching those displays. I recently witnessed a developer get his ass handed to him by a borough council. It was the best thing I've ever seen.

Are there tapes available. I just came upon a case of pop corn and beer and have a free weekend.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, Tapes are available in the clerk's office. OK, I made up the part about the erupting volcano. I lied about Branco being dragged off by a bunch of johns. But just about everything else is accurate. Really!

It was a very strange evening. Was the moon full last night?

Anonymous said...

Just more proof that Joe Long and his band of idiots need to step away from the local Democratic Party. If Long and Walt Gervin (please, make sure we all know who is really doing this) cared about something other than their own power - like electing a better quality of elected officials - they would do the right thing.

Unfortunately we have a better chance of Sen. Rickie Santorum caring about the people of PA than we have of these two fools doing the right thing.

Damn the man. Save the empire!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said! Wally G, aka Walter R Garvin and Joe Long don't seem to realize that they are asserting themselves at the expense of their own party.

This is not the way to tell voters that Democrats are a voice for reform or change.

And if there's a problem with the new touch screen voting machines, people will be pointing their fingers at Wally G, no matter how innocent he may be.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I think people are just suffering from burn out, I know that I am. I had enough of politicians/tics at Wed night's LST Council meeting and their BS.

It could also be that Council members were afraid of Bernie threatening another lawsuit. I glad you intordiuced a resolution instead. I just don't get McClure defending this Walter Garvin.

All I really know is that I have left McClure two phone messages that he has not returned.
But he is in good company. Rep Beyer has not returned two phone calls to her either despite she showing up at a LST Council meeting saying if you need money for anything, just let me know. I want to speak with her about the bridge. She is too busy running for re-election. I guess it is a good thing that even though she represents part of LST, that it is not my part becuase I may not vote for her based on this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Lstres, Thanks for your post. I have not threatened any litigation over this matter. I don't think I have standing in this instance. And I certainly don't think Council members are concerned over anything I may or may not do.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I would respectfully disagree with you Bernie. You more than I are well known to Council members, both local and county, and they do keep us in the back of their minds.

Mr. Sotffa said it best when He told me htat Council members know who comes tho their meetings and why they are their. Ii throws them when new people show up. I witnessed this at Wed's Council meeting. When it came time for public citizena non-agenda items time which is basiclly courtsey of the floor, President Glenn Kern mentioned their were new faces in the audienes and let them go first. They know what I wantedt toyell at them for and the other person who was there.
The best thing about the new faces was that they were their to complin about water run-off problems from construction.

Anonymous said...

dang...see it hasn't changed .

i miss it.

just a little...

Anonymous said...

(and a cold wind blew through cyberspace)

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well, it was very nice to hear from you. The county needs you.

Anonymous said...

there are no second acts in life. ask joe gibbs.

i enjoy the blog.

and you're still a %$#@**!! piece of $#^@ (he said with some degree of affection).

Bernie O'Hare said...

Just what the county needs.

Anonymous said...

do you like ron angle? i like ron angle and enjoy listening to his radio show. at least you know what's on his mind

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:50, Yes, I really admire Ron. Is he flawed? You bet. But a man with few flaws usually has few virtues.

It always gets me in trouble with fellow Dems, but I'm proud to count Amgle among my friends.

Anonymous said...

I happen to think that Ann McHale looks hot in red...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. McHale, Knock it off!

Ann is an attractive and classy lady. She can be a bit imperious and regal but has an amazing hold on council members. I'll give you an example. Angle adores her. I'm not suggesting anything inappropriate here, but he really respects and admires her. She consistently votes against anything he proposes, but you'll never hear him take shots at her the way he does with his own allies.

Angle's not alone. Other council members and members of the public act the same way.

I've known her a number of years and consider her a no-nonsense council member who takes her job seriously and really fights hard for Bethlehem. But she's very partisan, has often voted against good government measures, and tends to be unwilling to listen to reason once she's made up her mind. I thought the way she behaved in the Marta Gabriel Boulos matter was abhorrent.

I hear rumors she's got her eyes on the exec seat in the next election. She certainly is a better choice than Heckman, the other D contender being mentioned.

Bernie O'Hare said...

And I personally think Wayne Grube looks hot in red.

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