Friday, December 29, 2006

Norco Dem Chair Joe Long's Inside Link to Elections Office - His Daughter

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingJoe Long, Northampton County Democratic party chair, likes to call himself Boss Long. No wonder. He was miraculously "reelected" to his post before committeemen were even certified. And on the Bethlehem Housing Authority, he trampled all over the Sunshine Act until Larry Kisslinger blew the whistle.

But what's really bothers me is Long's seeming inside connection to the embattled Northampton County voter registration office. On May 24, I wondered how Joe Long knew, on election night, that congressional write-in candidate Dertinger had over 3,000 votes. Eight days after the election, the voter registration office informed me that "unofficial" results would not be available for another week. I was told Long could learn this from his own poll workers, but I started getting suspicious.

Then Long began a strident, and ultimately unsuccessful, defense of the Elections Commission Chair, Walter Garvin. Garvin, aka Wally G, was conducting a weekly radio show during the last campaign aimed at getting Democrats elected. He regularly slammed Congressman Charlie Dent, suggesting he was part of a "culture of corruption." I believed it presented an appearance of impropriety. And lo and behold, Garvin was an area chair in the local democratic party. His dual role as party officer and elections chair was a clear Home Rule Charter violation. Long laughed off these problems until Garvin, an honorable man, voluntarily resigned his position in the Democratic party.

Last week, during a WGPA 1100 AM radio show, I began criticizing problems in the elections office. These extend from a ballot designed to promote straight party tickets, to unanswered phones and refusals to make provisional ballots available. They hurt candidates in both major parties. Joe Long called in to defend the elections office again. And while I was trying to point out that the problems affect both parties, he called me an asshole on the air. He then tried to clear things up on my blog. This prompted a question from me. "If you have nothing to do with the control of that office, then why are you so hell bent on defending it?"

Now I finally know why Long doesn't want me sticking my big nose into what goes on in that office. His daughter worked there. According to a report from the county's human resources, I know she was hired by former county exec Reibman as a part-time employee in April 2002, and stayed on board until July 26, 2006.

Boss Long's daughter helped run the elections office.

How convenient! Talk about "appearance of impropriety."

Illegal? No. Sleazy? You bet.


Chris Casey said...

Bernie I know Joe and his daughter. I won't argue with you on this, I realize I have pointed out that certain Republican officeholders in Lehigh make sure that companies owned by their children get a healthy share of Township business.
During the election, I did not attack my opponent on certain issues because I didn't believe it was fair to drag his family into the fray. I respectfully suggest that I think you are in a gray area in making Joe Long's daughter
into a "Fall Girl" as it were.
If I had a friend or relative working in the Election's office I would have no reservations about asking them for first hand knowledge of results. If you want to question Joe Long's motivations, I will disagree with you, but allow that your question has some validity.
But I believe dragging his daughter into the line of fire reaches into the realm of personal grudge, and you do yourself a disservice. Respectfully submitted, your friend and confidant, Chris Casey

Anonymous said...

"Confidant" - as in "one trusted with secrets" - ala the blogosphere! You're smokin' way too much Christmas crack, Chris Casey! (Try saying that three times real fast!)

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris, As you might suspect, I disagree. I first discovered this connection about two weeks ago, but could not get confirmation until just two days ago. As soon as I had it, this went up.

You mistake my animosity towards Long as something personal. It isn't. He was elected under questionable circumstances. He violated the Sunshine Act as BHA chair. He laughed off a clear violation of the Home Rulke Charter concerning the lections chair. And he has minimized legitimate complaints from both parties concerning the elections office. These are not personal criticismsn.

Nor is a criticism directed at the involvement of an immediate family member in the elections office. His job, as Dem chair, is to ensure that Dems get elected. Involving his daughter in the elections office presents an appearance of impropriety.

I'm not calling him a drunk or saying that he shoplifts or accusing him of affairs. I'm saying his daughter's involvement in that office presents an appearance of impropriety. It's certainly not illegal, but is questionable. If the congressional or some other race were quite close and Long's daughter was involved in a signifigant way, you can be damn sure that this info would make people suspicious.

I hit people hard on the issues, but don't like being personal unless it is directly relevant to qualifications. In this case, we're talking about the ability to conduct a fair election. The criticism is fair.

Before publishing this, I spoke to two highly placed Democrats. Both were aware that Long's daughter had been employed in that office. Both thought it was wrong. "Stupid," was the remark of one of these pols. "I would never let any of my kids work in an office that involves me."

It's wrong, Chris. It's one of many things that need to be changed concerning our elections office. It's not the end of the world. It's not a horrible despicable thing. But it's wrong. It presents too much of an opportunity for mischief.

If Reibman and Long wanted to practice nepotism, they should have stuck Long's daughter somewhere else.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:58, Chris Casey is a friend and I respect his criticism. I just disagree with him. I'm a miserable bastard.

Chris Casey said...

Hey Anon, you have no idea the secrets I keep! After some back channel discussion, I put down the Christmas Crack Pipe that the LV addict gave me on his way to the Carribean, and decided to clarify my intent. I agree with Bernie's questioning of the motivations, and I agree that he is correct to question possible political manipulation in a section of Northampton county Government.
A department of elections which, despite the best of intentions of the many hard working employees, can best be described as incompetent, exhibit A being the inability to accurately tabulate votes until several weeks after the election.
I still believe I am correct to weigh the personal history between Mr. Long and Bernie in my personal assessment that others outside the sphere of influence could interpret this post as a personal shot at MR. Long and in that way, I think it is unfair to involve the daughter. Thank you. Agree or disagree, it is just my humble opinion. and Bernie is not a miserable bastard. I believe Mr Long described him more accurately on the radio, when he called him a ***king ****ole! LOL!

Anonymous said...

but if bernie is a miserable bastard AND an asshole does that make him an asshole-bastard or a bastard-asshole?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:37, You'll have to ask Joe Long.

Anonymous said...

Bernie , while we agree very little on the issues, I applaud you for bringing
this to light.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, the one "highly placed Democrat" you spoke to was correct, it was a stupid thing for Long to do. But ... with his history, should this really be of any surprise.

This is the problem with politics in general. Too many of those who represent us pull crap like this. Where we should all focus is on replacing people like Long and the others who use the system for their own good, with people who will represent the people they represent. Is that too much to ask?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 5:59, Even I don't agree with me most of the time on the issues. We can disagree on these. Who cares? But where we all need to come together is when we talk about our government. We need responsible and open government. Party bosses need to be kept away from the elections office instead of immersing themselves in it.