Thursday, March 08, 2007

Northampton County Government Races

Assuming our WinVote touchscreen machines don't blow up, voters will elect the following offices this year: District Attorney, Controller and four county council district seats. They'll also decide whether Judge Stephen Barrata should be retained in the marble palace we're spending $45 million to build.

District Attorney: According to the county's website, the DA "is required to prosecute all violations of Pennsylvania Criminal Law within the Northampton County's geographic boundaries." Incumbent John Morganelli is running for a fifth term! He's the best DA I've ever seen. No Republican will run against him. He's more conservative than most of them anyway. My only criticism is that he's too political. He has promoted proteges like Steve Barrata and Paula Roscioli to the bench. They sing his tune. He remains heavily involved in Bethlehem politics, and is now trying to plant another protege on county council. After sixteen years, he has become too powerful.

Controller: I told you yesterday about that race. About a month ago, I gave you a detailed post about Democrat Steve Barron and Republican John Schimmel. I'm hoping to be able to interview both of them so you can have a better feel about the Controller.

County Council: This is the county's equivalent of Congress, its "governing body." This year, its four "district" seats are up for election. Voters will also decide the at-large seat to which Tony Branco was selected, not elected.

District 1 (Bethlehem, Hellertown and Hanover): Incumbent Ann McHale thought she had a free ride to her third term in this heavily democratic district. She deserves it. She has been a fierce advocate for Bethlehem in her eight years on council. Republicans, in a losing cause, will run home inspector Tom Dietrich against her. And I have a funny feeling some fellow Democrats who deposed her as council VP will pay a heavy price. I'm talking about selected, not elected, councilmen McClure and Branco. They voted to replace McHale. I'm sure that Ann will go out of her way to drum up Bethlehem votes for Branco. And she'll use her heavy ties to county employees to make sure McClure is elected. Right. "Hell hath no fury ..." She is not someone I would like to have angry with me.

District 2: (Easton, Forks, Glendon, Palmer, Stockertown, Tatamy, West Easton, Williams and Wilson) Incumbent Rev. J. Michael Dowd is an affable and very quiet UCC pastor and Chamber of Commerce VP, seeking a third term. He's a pro-business republican, willing to hand out all kinds of dough and tax incentives to big business in the vain hope it might create a job. As council prez, he manipulated a council agenda just so developer Abe Atiyeh could prance into council with one day's notice and demand a KOZ for a property that has yet to produce a job. He was involved in a $1 million grant for infrastructure in Palmer Tp that enabled Giant to move a foodstore 1/4 mile from another location. I like and respect him, but he's too business friendly for my tastes. Democrat William E. Wallace is opposing Dowd. I know nothing about Wallace except that he has never held public office.

District 3: (Allen, Bath, Bethlehem Township, East Allen, Freemansburg, Lower Nazareth, Lower Saucon, Nazareth, North Catasauqua and Northampton) Lamont McClure, an appointed councilman and a part of Joe Long's cabal, will raise and spend $30,000 in his third effort to get elected to council. He'll be slinging mud at Will Power, who filed his nomination papers on Monday. Morganelli is also promoting Lamont so he can have a puppet on county council. Morganelli has been dredging up a 1993 car accident as proof that Power is an unfit wingnut. When someone gently reminded Morganelli that going dark can backfire, D-Day Morganelli quipped, "I don't care. I have an 80% approval rating." Lamont does not. I'll have more to say about Power later. But he has already stood quietly against the party machine and incredible pressure urging him not to run. His stubborn independence reminds me very much of another maverick - his sister, Lisa Boscola.

East Allen Township supervisor Mark Schwartz, a republican, is also running.

District 4: (Bangor, Bushkill, Chapman, East Bangor, Lehigh, Lower Mount Bethel, Moore, Pen Argyl, Plainfield, Portland, Roseto, Upper Mount Bethel, Upper Nazareth, Walnutport, Washington and Wind Gap) The darling of the blogosphere, republican Ron Angle, is seeking his third term in the slate belt district. He has powerful enemies in both major parties, from Elmer Gates to Glenn Reibman. But he is the county's pitbull, and can smell bullshit a mile away.

Two democrats are fighting for the privilege of taking on Angle. One of these is John Maher, whose Slate Belt Concerned Citizens was a vocal opponent of the now defunct Wal-Mart proposed in Wind Gap. His opponent? Upper Mount Bethel Township resident William Hall III, former candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

At-Large: Although there are five at-large seats on county council, only one is up for election this year. Tony Branco, appointed to fill a council vacancy, must face the voters. He is a likable and sincere member of council, but is an unknown outside Hellertown. His record is undistinguished. Republican Peg Ferraro, has served three council terms, and currently chairs the citizens' task force studying our election problems. She delayed her announcement to avoid politicizing the elections panel. Now that she's announced, she'll have to step down after the primary. She'll have to step down now if John Cusick succeeded in persuading another republican to challenge her. Thanks, John.

Judge Barrata's Retention: First, I think judges use the bathroom just like the rest of us. And if they want to remain judges, they should stand for election. They're already too isolated, and it's getting worse. These judges are all beneficiaries of the midnight payraise enacted by our state legislature. Judge Steven Barrata is raking in nearly $150,000 a year. For that kind of money, he should face the voters.

I don't think a single judge should be retained. Hey Steve, where were you when county employees were getting sick? Did you speak up when over 100 positions were eliminated to help pay for your overbudget Taj Mahal? Where were you when your $15 thousand judicial lunch table had to be sawed in half just to get it in your new building? Where were you when judges decided that all members of the public had to be searched when they entered your new building, even if their business took them nowhere near a courtroom? When did you announce that you would refuse the new pay raise? How could you take a nickel when the people who work under you have seen nothing for nearly four years? Why couldn't you open your mouth about any of the judicial excesses? These are just a few questions Barrata should answer if he expects to remain on the bench. I asked them before, way back in November. His silence is deafening.
Update:Both The Express Times and Morning Call have complete listings of the candidates seeking election in Northampton County's May primary. Lehigh County's candidates are already listed by their efficient voter registration office on its webpage. Very impressive.

20 comments:

Unknown said...

Thanks for that overview Bernie. It smoked mine.

Rich

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rich, I appreciate the nice words. I pay close attention to NC Council, and they love me for it.

LVDem said...

wait, did the GOP even bother to field a candidate in District 3? I ask b/c if Lamont is vulnerable, you would think a candidate would have been targeted? Likewise, if Will wins, that would be a primo opportunity for a GOP win.

LVDem said...

oops... never mind... missed the sentence below the paragraph. Thank Buddy Jesus... I was kind of confused there for a minute.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem, McClure is bad for local voernment. He is vulnerable. He has a primary opponent and an opponent from the R party. he has never won. He has lost in his two previous tries.

Anonymous said...

People, People, I ask you...are you so blind as to think that Lamont is any good? LvDem, you are so biased without dual research as to whom would better serve the people of Northampton County. I ask you, why not just be a man, and give your true ID, and reveal the reason for your vested interest in the Lamont team...or are you too embarassed?
Truly, without that, you have little genuine credibility. Don't you mind being a fake, LVDem? Do you really think other readers are too stupid not to see the nature of your hidden agenda? Please...you certainly haven't tried to contact me, yet your own blog is like a paid commercial for Lamont with so much hypocracy to deny it is to deny Niagara falls. If you think bringing up the past is so okay, wouldn't it be fairer to acknowledge that Lisa Boscola's drunk driving incident is much more recent than any police problems they could reference about me...and I'm 4 years younger than her. Surely, a fair comparison would proove me as more respectable citizen, even though I'm no Senator. Oh, but you might work for/with her, so you can't work your manhood to point that out, huh. Listen, I'm not trying to call you out for some fight, I'm not looking for a Joe Long-Bernie O'hare like-confrontation in that manner like Joe did to Bernie...you see the real truth just happens to matter to me. You don't appear to be born that way though, my friend who hides.

Written by yours truly, Will Power

PS: that coming out thing...it is liberating... you should try it sometime

Anonymous said...

Now, please allow me to share my background for those who will be voting in May for either Lamont or I in Northampton County:

Will Power for County Council Announcement


BACKGROUND:

• Honor Roll student and 1984 graduate of Freedom High School.

• Dean’s List student and graduate of Moravian College with Degrees in Political Science and Business Management, and an earned Professional Certificate to teach Secondary Social Studies in Pennsylvania.

• Twice publicly elected county-wide to serve on Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee representing Northampton County in 1988 and 1998.

• Publicly elected to serve Northampton and Lehigh County in 1992 as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

• My wife, Rachel, and I are the elected Democratic committee people that now represent Freemansburg from the 2006 primary election.

• Age 40, married 7 years, with a son age 2.

• Employed the past 2 and a half years by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, serving as a law enforcement officer.

BACKGROUND OF SUPPORT:

While I am not seeking campaign contributions from anybody, my nominating petition was signed by several distinguished people. They include:

• County Executive John Stoffa of Allen Township, who serves with honor and integrity.
• Former County Executive Gerald E. Seyfried of Lower Nazareth Township, who has served with honor and integrity.
• Edward Pany of Northampton, whose history of frugality and genuine geniality in government I intend to match.
• Louis A. Gallucci of Bethlehem Township who attempted to earn an appointment to County Council last year, but who was denied despite his far greater qualifications than Lamont McClure’s.
• Bernard O’Hare of Nazareth, who I consider the greatest public watchdog the county has. O’Hare not only signed my petition, but also circulated it.



WHY I AM RUNNING FOR COUNTY COUNCIL:

I am running for County Council to fight against, and help clean-up the corruption in Northampton County government. The election of John Stoffa was a very good start, yet there is a deep need for such integrity on county council. To accomplish this goal, I will propose an County Ordinance called the Code of Civil Ethics, which will outline how council votes must be made with a full disclosure as to if and when any campaign contributions or gifts were made by any and all persons whom are conducting business with the county. Moreover, this ordinance will demand full disclosure of any and all campaign contributions or gifts made by any and all persons whom conducted business with the county in the past from yesterday to up to 3 to 5 years ago. More watchdog ordinances would follow in the same spirit of integrity and accountability. (NOTE: This action will be far more relevant than the make-believe ordinance McClure authored, which is really just a tool to squash public dissent of council’s business, and will hold all members of County Council immediately accountable if there is a “money trail” connected to their votes.)

I am also running to keep property taxes down by cutting spending, especially in the forms of grants, and by reducing entitlements such as tax abatement programs that are taken advantage of by the wealthiest real estate investors whom certainly are not paying their fair share of taxes. I openly take the position that County Council was wrong to vote in favor of a nearly $500,000 renovation to County Council’s own chambers, when that amount so grossly exceeds the value of an average taxpayer’s own entire home.

Moreover, I am running to promote a more cordial council-executive relationship, so that more positive things can be done for Northampton County citizens in the vital coming years. These next few years are too important for such infighting as we’ve seen this past year, and McClure is an obstructionist to good government in far too many ways.

To The Editor:

Early Wednesday morning I Emailed my campaign announcement to one Morning Call reporter and one columnist, and then in the afternoon to the Easton Editor. Apparently, such an announcement is considered one day late by this newspaper, and there is no allowance for a candidate to make his or her announcement the day after the deadline to file nominating petitions with the voter registration office, despite election day being another 10 weeks away.
I think that the Morning Call should move such a deadline to atleast 8 weeks before election day, after all, that is Pennsylvania' deadline for a candidate to withdraw. After the exhausting task of obtaining signatures of over 250 people door to door in the cold winter, paying $100 out of my own pocket to the county for the right to have my name printed on the ballot, and filing the all the required paperwork for this candidacy, the Morning Call could "give me a break". The greater good of providing more and not less information to your readers about candidates is forsaken with such a rigid policy, especially when you publish the announcement of one candidate, and not the other, which is the case, as my opponent's announcement and photo appeared in your local section a few weeks ago. Indeed, you must question the fairness of this policy and perhaps survey your readers to guide you.

I hope you will atleast publish the following, if only at least in this editorial:

I am running for County Council to fight against, and help clean-up the corruption in Northampton County government. The election of John Stoffa was a very good start, yet there is a deep need for such integrity on county council. To accomplish this goal, I will propose an County Ordinance called the Code of Civil Ethics, which will outline how council votes must be made with a full disclosure as to if and when any campaign contributions or gifts were made by any and all persons whom are conducting business with the county. Moreover, this ordinance will demand full disclosure of any and all campaign contributions or gifts made by any and all persons whom conducted business with the county in the past from yesterday to up to 3 to 5 years ago. More watchdog ordinances would follow in the same spirit of integrity and accountability. (NOTE: This action will be far more relevant than the make-believe ordinance McClure authored, which is really just a tool to squash public dissent of council’s business, and will hold all members of County Council immediately accountable if there is a “money trail” connected to their votes.)

I am also running to keep property taxes down by cutting spending, especially in the forms of grants, and by reducing entitlements such as tax abatement programs that are taken advantage of by the wealthiest real estate investors whom certainly are not paying their fair share of taxes. I openly take the position that County Council was wrong to vote in favor of a nearly $500,000 renovation to County Council’s own chambers, when that amount so grossly exceeds the value of an average taxpayer’s own entire home.

Moreover, I am running to promote a more cordial council-executive relationship, so that more positive things can be done for Northampton County citizens in the vital coming years. These next few years are too important for such infighting as we’ve seen this past year, and McClure is an obstructionist to good government in far too many ways.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Will,

I've been following LVDem's blog for some time now, and he tries to be fair. His Lamont post was intended to present a more objective view of McClure. I hit McClure pretty hard, and I think he deserves it. I don't dredge up ancient history about a 1993 car accident. I look at promises McClure made last year and what he's actually done on council. I don't care for the dude.

I'm actually glad LVDem chose to write about McClure for a more onjective picture, and I thank him for that. I really can't be objective when it comes to McClure because he represents the worst in local government. But you better not let LVDem's rather mild remarks get to you. Things are going to get a lot worse for you in the next ten weeks. They will try to provoke you so you explode, and then they'll say you're a whack job.

I do think you have one good point, If LVDem wants to be more objective, he has an obligation to speak with both of you.

Unknown said...

Will,

While I'm most impressed with your resume, the attacks on LVDem were a bit mean.I'm glad to see you're running again and giving folks a choice,and best of luck to you.

Bernie,

You do cover them well. MOST of them love you for it, but there are a few... Hey, don't let it get to you though. As I said, that type of overview is a public service. It's more than anyone else could have put on here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Will, Rising Sun is right. You may feel good, but you didn't win any votes by going after LVDem on my blog for a fairly innocuous post LVDem posted on his own blog about McClure.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Will you are a little tough on LVDem. You say that coming out thing is liberting, but don't you hide, Darren?

Anonymous said...

Tough??? I think it was Harry Truman that stated, "I tell them the truth and they call it hell." Nevertheless, the bias LVDem exposed in himself shows one thing, "You can't handle the truth!" (that was Jack from A few Good Men) Perhaps it is true, let him be, I got bigger fish to fry, so to speak, but hiding behind your own comments, I just don't like it. Size and Identity matters. Written by Will Power. PS: I was Darin William Stofko before I legally changed my name in 1999, 8 months before I was married. My name stands for, and commits me to the integrity and perservance, I proudly possess. I will have one hell of a life story to write about for government classes on the college level, and a son that is as proud as he could be of his own father's character and raw courage. I won't just preach...I'll practice.

LVDem said...

Will... my email address is all over my blog. You must read it so you can find it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Will,

Pay no attention to the email address on LVDem's blog. It goes directly to McClure's office. I've got his real email addresses. IloveLamont@hotmail.com and Bernieslovemuffin@yahoo.com.

If you don't get a response there, you might find him in a car outside my estate in Nazareth, hoping I wave at him.

LVDem's a good guy, and was just trying to be fair to McClure. His post was no commercial, and he made clear in the beginning he just wanted to get a little more info out from McClure's perspective. Even I can accept that, and I'm a miserable bastard.

You're swimming against the tide, bippy. You don't get that tide to change by just yelling at it.

I've been telling people that you've grown and are much calmer now that you're a dad with such a cute son and pretty wife. And it's true. And you're a very bright guy with great ideas.

Do yourself a favor and contact LVDem.

Chris Casey said...

Okay, now that the love fest is over, I would like to point out the differences between the VR office of HRH Depaul in N'Hampton and that of recently retired Betty Heilman in Lehigh County.
Pretty impressive how Lehigh has its' act together isn't it? Their voting machines didn't "malfunction". their staff is some nicest people on earth, with great attitudes towards helping impaired people like me, oh, and less than 48 hours after the filing deadline, all candidates are listed online. HRH Depaul will be lucky ti have them up in 48 days, before the election, if then!

Julian Stolz said...

Bill Hall also ran for President in 2004

Unknown said...

Yeah, what is the deal with this Hall guy? I found his Lt. Governor site one time.... is he for real?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rising Sun,

I don't know very much about him, but he's definitely for real. I talked to him today, and he came across as a very sincere guy who's taking this very seriously.

There's some question that his nomination petition may be invalid, and some concerns have been raised about his primary opponenty, Maher, as well. Hall told me he has no intention of challenging any petitions and thinks the people should decide who they want. "Let the best man win," he said.

Pretty good answer. A breath of fresh air from the northern part of the county.

LVDem said...

Bernieslovemuffin... that's a good one.

Anonymous said...

Will Power or Darin Stofko, whatever he is calling himself today was the biggest bully in high school, he dealt drugs, vandalized, stole and assaulted his own brother in a wheel chair. He is the worst person I ever had the displeasure of meeting.