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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, September 15, 2006

Partisan Radio Host Wally G Outed: He's Chair Of Norco's Elections Commission

I told you yesterday about WGPA 1100 AM's "Checks and Balances," a dreary hour of highly partisan propaganda delivered in a monotone by Wally G. This morning, Wally G was the guest on another radio show that requires callers to identify themselves. So I called in, identified myself, and asked Wally G to identify himself, too. That's only fair. And guess what? He's actually Northampton County Chairman of the Elections Commission Walter R. Garvin. He was also recently elected as Democratic Committeeman.

Here's what the Home Rule Charter says about members of the Elections Commission: "None of these nominees shall hold public office or be an officer in a political party." Now isn't an elected Democratic committeeman an officer in a political party? He does things that Democrats like me can't do, like electing the county chair. And since he's actually elected publicly, doesn't he hold public office? Apparently not in Northampton County. The Home Rule Charter provision against an elections commissioner holding public office or being an officer in a political party was clearly designed to prevent the intrusion of partisan politics in the electoral process. Yet that "check and balance" seems to be forgotten. And to make matters worse, this guy hosts a highly partisan radio show advocating Democrats in the upcoming election. Will Republicans feel safe knowing that he's counting the votes?

John Stoffa said Wednesday there's nothing wrong with government, but that sometimes the wrong people are in government. This is an example.


Anonymous said...

Re: "None of these nominees shall hold public office or be an officer in a political party."

Bernie, so now what happens? We (read: you!) put them on notice of this infraction before threatening legal action?

Thanks for your continuing vigilance.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's a question of interpretation. The Home Rule Charter does not define "public office" or "officer in a political party."

I think a Democratic comitteman might be considered both. But someone else might conclude that "public office" refers to anm official who is elected by all voters to an office in government.
I can see that.

Someone else might also conclude a committeman is not a party officer, but that's real stretch.
A committeeman, elected in a primary, is elected to an office in the party and is hence a party officer. I don't know how you get around that.

I am bothered by Wally G's refusal to identify himself by name as the host of a partisan radio show. As chair of the Elections Comm'n, he shouldn't be hiding his identity. It's a fraud against the voters to anonymously engage in a highly partisan radio show and then purport to be an impartial counter of votes.

I got suspicious about this on Wednesday when I listened to the show. He sounded familiar. I called his home last night and tried to talk to him, but he didn't return my call. So today, wehen I heard him on a talk show where the host insists that callers identify themselves, I asked him to identify himself.

Right after my call, Norco Dem party chair Joe Long called in to say there is nothing wrong with Garvin's status as party chair and I was accused, as usual, of political motivations.

Is there anything wrong with asking for a Comm'r of elections who is not burdened by partisan politics and doesn't host political radio shows anonymously?

That's the whole point of the prohibition in the Charter. Perhaps I'm wrong. I'll let Stoffa decide what's right and will respect his decision.

Anonymous said...

Do you sleep well at night?

Anonymous said...

"It's a question of interpretation".

Golly gee whiz! This sounds like an earlier well-known dilemma concerning what the definition/interpretation of is is!

I like the old standard of "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, waddles like a duck, then it's a dang duck!

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon 3:14, Please don't play that game.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Anon 4:25, The Home Rule Charter prohibits an elections commission member from (1) public office and (2)being an officer for a political party.

With respect to Item 1, an elected committeemen is not elected by all the voters. He's only elected by his own party. So I would agree that it's really questionable whether he actually holds a publice office.

But with repect to item 2, we're talking ducks, as you say. A committeman is elected to the office of committeeman for a poilitical party. I don't think there's any way around that one. He's a party officer.

Anonymous said...

It would appear Donnie 'Dooper' Russo and Bernie are not wine-tasting buddies.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To Mr. Moshki, I've known Russo since college. I have nothing personal against him or his guest this morning, Wally G. Since Russo requires callers to ID themselves, I figured it was a perfect opportunity to ask Wally G exactly who he is. Now we know.

And I do have a problem w/ a committeeman and the host of a partisan show being in charge of the vote counting in NC.

PA progressive said...

Those definitions happen to apply if an elected committee person runs for a judicial post, even magisterial district judge. I'd say they apply to Wally.

Plus, it's unseemly for an elections commissioner to be a committee person for either Party. The appearance of conflict is bad.

Bernie O'Hare said...

PaProgressive, I'm sorry it has to be a Dem. But that's the way it is. In fact, another Democratic member of the commission may also be a committeewoman. Stay tuned.

LVDem said...

Bernie, I think you touched on a key point. Legally speaking, both sides have reasonable claims. But putting aside the legalities for a minute, there is something to be said about keeping even the hint of inpropriety out of the picture. Why even allow the question to be raised? I liken it to Katherine Harris in Fla. She was one of the key Bush people in 2000 (I think the state chair) but she was ultimately the person who certified the final statewide results. I think it's fair to raise that point in light of this situation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, The appearance of impropriety is defintely there. Wally G must have known that himself and that was why he was reluctant to reveal who he actually was until directly confronted. It can certainly be likened to Katherine Harris, but on a much smaller level.

As far as legalities go, the HRC prohibits individuals serving on an election comm'n if they (1) hold public office or (2) are an officer of a political party.

I think the former is debatable, but the latter is not. Garvin is clearly an officer of a political party.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, Just so you know, I thought that some Rs serving on the elections commission may also be committeemen. But I have since learned that is not the case. But a second Dem serving on the commission may also be a committeeman.

Of course, Joe Long says everything is fine. Since I don't think Long himself was elected legaslly and also believe he was involved in the selection of 2 council members in violation of the Sunshine Act, you'll excuse me if I take what he says with what you call a PenDot sized grain of salt.

Thanks for your insight.

Anonymous said...

I say let him on the airwaves. Sooner orlater rigormortis will set in and that solves the problem

Bernie O'Hare said...

You've got a point! I don't mind him doing a radio show, but I do mind it when he sits as chair of the elections comm'n.

PA progressive said...

Bernie, I don't care if it's a Dem or a Rep. It's illegal. If we don't keep our own officials and candidates on the straight and narrow those who will be less forgiving.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Agreed and it's nice to know another progressive feels the same way about this.

Anonymous said...

Just trying to be objective; maybe you didn't tape your call to Dooper and Wally.

Your tone was a wee bit hostile.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Really? I thought it a bit more hostile than that. Russo, who hosts the show I called, claimed its purpose was to promote Dems and not to engage in the kind of trashing done by right wing radio. And then he and Daday proceed to trash Angle and every other R, Stoffa (a fellow Dem), and columnist Bill White. I won't be bringing him any bouquets. And I am offended that Garvin, the chair of the Norco elections commission, would actually use a pseudonym on the air. It also bothered me that I called Garvin's hime on Thursday night when I became suspicious and he never returned the call despite his wife's promise he would do so. So yeah, I was hostile.

Anonymous said...

Roger that transmission.

There was a time when a station such as WGPA was not an anomaly and announcers even got paid min. wage without having to bring in their own sponsorship.

As an atheist, Moshki have no use for Jolly Joe but without him there would be nothing but Corporate Radio Wretchedness 'round here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Moshki, I'd like to do a roundup of local AM talk radio. I stopped listening to Gunther after the missles started flying in Iraq, and that was at his request. So I'd appreciate your perspective.

Anonymous said...

Moshki appreciates this blog and will do what he can to help you with the roundup.

Moshki is fully aware that being from Lehigh County and a cynic does not help him fit in here; being allowed to vent anyway means a lot.

you have been more than fair to everyone who posts here. You spend a lot of time to maintain this blog and keep it up to date.

It's easy to take LVR for granted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Moshki, Thanks for the nice words. I'll be interested WAEB, the Walsh show. I have my own ideas, but stopped listening. You can send any comments to bohare5948@aol.com. In fact, I'd like your perspective on other talk radio shows, too. I think we could put out an interesting blog post about what's out there.

Anonymous said...

You know what Moshki thinks of Gunther.

All the right-wing guys, from Beck, Rush, Hannity and Savage are
obviously shrewd, high-rate talkers (Hannity is by far the most boring and least 'talented').
They do not care about objectivity unless the topic is immigration.

That is the sad part; again, it is called DOUBLETHINK, which explains
much, if not all, of human madness.

Best book ever written---yet it is ignored by most.

Moshki do not care about these chickenhawks, Bernie. At least not enough to listen to them everyday.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Moshki, I'll check it out. I'm due fro my weekly book from B&N.