Monday, April 02, 2007

Norco Dem Committee: We Know Best, If You Don't Like it, Leave!

Many of us were up before dawn last Saturday. It was the first day of fishing season, and there was no rain! Even more of us were listening to the crack of a bat and that loud snap we hear when a well-thrown ball hits the leather of an infielder's glove. But while most of us were breathing in the Spring air, a much smaller group was hunkered down in a dark and dank smoke-filled Nazareth bar. Twenty members of this group are intent on destroying our right to choose our leaders, one of our most fundamental liberties. They even ejected a dissident who complained just a little too loudly. This group of oligarchs? The Northampton County Democratic Committee. The man who had the gall to demand that the group be more democratic? County council candidate Will Power. Let me tell you how this happened.

Northampton County has 149 voting precincts. We should, therefore, have 298 persons serving the Democratic party in Northampton County, a man and woman in each district. But only about 195 people were elected last Spring. The local chair can appoint members in precincts having no elected members, but he's having trouble. The website practically begs people to get involved.

On Saturday, Boss Long's county committee decided to endorse candidates seeking the Nazareth and Slate Belt district seats for Northampton County Council. Neither seat is county-wide. The county committee gave no endorsement to candidates seeking local offices in Bethlehem or Easton. But for reasons that elude me, it selected Sunshine Act violator Lamont McClure over reformer Will Power in Nazareth. And the Slate Belt seat was awarded to John Maher over Bill Hall.

Veteran reporter Madeleine Mathias tells us seventy-five people attended this coronation ceremony. That statement led me to believe that there were seventy-five committee members involved. Maher's 20-12 endorsement, I surmised, came from the committee people in his slate belt district. But guess what? Just thirty-two people were allowed to decide on behalf of the entire county Democratic party, a mere sixteen percent of the popularly elected committee members. Only ten percent voted to endorse Maher. How many of these committee members were actually from the slate belt district? Your guess is as good as mine, but it had to be significantly less than ten percent.

Do you think a law enacted by ten percent of Congress or the state legislature would have any validity? Welcome to the world of Dem boss Joe Long.

Will Power, aggravated by this obvious insult to the democratic process, was tossed out of the meeting. Joe Long, Rodney Applegate, Charles Dertinger and William Wallace turned the Power off. These Dems are scared to death of the people. Power has his own first hand account. John Maher tells me Power was being "disruptive." It's called democracy, John. Let the people decide. Is that so hard?

Just a few weeks ago, council candidates turned in their nomination petitions. County Councilman Ron Angle told John Maher there were all kinds of problems with Hall's petition. He also told Bill Hall there were all kinds of problems with Maher's petition. And he was right! Both petitions are screwed up. Now Ron was just trying to trick potential adversaries into cancelling each other out. But they refused to take the bait, just like the trout I tried to angle on Saturday. Maher and Hall both told me the people should decide these matters, not judges. Looks like Maher has had an unfortunate change of heart. He's increasingly looking like a Joe Long puppet.

I'm told state rep. Rich Grucela had a statement for the small segment of the committee who actually attended Saturday's meeting. He opposes party endorsement of candidates in contested races. He's right. A party who predecides its candidates in dark bars, leads to public officials who will predecide the people's business behind closed doors. It results in only 195 people getting elected to a body that should have 298 seats.

Everyone else thinks they have a better chance fishing or playing ball.
Update: Larry Kisslinger, the former local Republican party chair, has his own very interesting and eloquent perception. Political parties are a thing of the past, unless a very civic minded person is in charge always trying to have "more" people involved in decision making at the Party level. If few people desire to make decisions and/or dictate to their Party members is tunnel vision. I was County R Chair '86-'88 and when I promoted more to attend meetings was rebuked by nonsensical advice by some, still in charge, to stop doing so. "Why do we need "all" of these people here, we used to do things with only a few of us attending"?... was their mantra...I resigned since nobody wanted input from all!


LVDem said...

I don't like party endorsements. It's not the proper role of the party. Win elections in the fall by developing reform minded, progressive Democrats. That should be the party's job.

Anonymous said...

Will Power said

On your numbers of committee people: I’ll check the totals, because the 195 you quoted looks high.

I’ll point out here that a great number of committee people are there as a result of only 1 or 2 votes from their voting district, which means they are on the committee because no one else was running and he or she simply wrote their own name in, as did perhaps, and most likely, another family member.

For example, Lamont McClure and his wife Sandy are “elected committee members” from just 2 votes each on Election Day. That is a laugh, any objective person would agree. But what is even funnier, is that that is the way it is for a great number of members on the committee.

A person must only get 10 signatures to be on the ballot and have their neighbors vote for them to be a committee person, but far too many of them are there not because they did a bare minimum of groundwork like that. They are there because they did what Lamont and Sandy did, simply write their own and each other’s name in. This could and should lead one to justifiably question how in touch they are with their own neighbors, which they are supposed to be persuading to vote for Democratic candidates.

But hey, I’m just someone who got 53 votes out of the 70 Democrats that voted in Freemansburg on May 16, 2006 in that election, while my wife got 67 of 70, so who the heck or we as elected committee people to make note of those that got only 2 in their voting areas (many of which are larger than Freemansburg, when it comes to how many voters there are). Shouldn’t we all just get along...

Written by Will Power

Anonymous said...

Yes, Will,

As I've commented here and elsewhere, many times in many venues, quoting the warning of Benjamin Franklin as he emerged from Independence Hall(?) after signing the Constitution and answered the anxious woman in the throng pressing against the exit, "Mr Franklin, do we have a Republic?"

To which anxious question Franklin answered, "Yes, Madam, if you can keep it."

Sorry, Mr. Franklin, we haven't kept it.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie,
Once again you’ve taken hearsay to a whole new level! I was there and I was not a voting member, but here is how I saw the event! It was advertised as a regular meeting of the members of the Northampton Democratic Party and Joe Long is their elected Chairman. The local party organization is a legislature and represents the democratic constituents in the county. Any registered Democrat within the county can be elected to represent their community. The meeting in my eyes was a majority representation, a quorum!

Now for Mr. Power. Members of a legislature as this meeting was, all comments and opinions are directed to the chairman. He attempted to use the meeting as a platform for his campaign against Mr. McClure with his campaign rhetoric. He was attacking Mr. McClure with comments better served for their campaign. Mr. Power was asked at least a dozen times to hold his comments to a better location, but he continued his tirade! A motion and vote was put before the members to have him removed so the meeting can continue and was passed by a majority.

Mr. Power and Mr. Hall both deserve an endorsement, but in any horse race, you have to put your money down and pick. If you win you take home your money or you rip up your stubs and pick another. This is a democracy; the final decision is made in the voting both.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Thanks for your first hand account. I have some comments.

1) Hearsay is a necessity because this is a "private" meeting. The public is not invited. So far as I know, Madeleine Mathias' report for The Morning Call is hearsay as well. My account of the meeting is based on a discussion with a number of those who attended, including you.

2) What happened to your "let the people decide" mantra? If you truly believed that, you would have told the committee you thought it was inappropriate for a party to endorse candidates in a contested election. A small and very unrepresentative number should not decide things for an entire party. That's what Grucela told them. I'm sorry, but I'm increasingly convinced you've abandoned your principles and have sold out.

3) Your description of the committee and analogy to a legislature is deeply flawed and misleading. If that's the way you really think, you don't belong in any office. First, contrary to your assertion, the meeting was not advertised. Second, once again, not all committee members were notified. Third, 32 of about 195 elected committeemen is NOT a quorum. Fourth, you were endorsded by committeemen who don't reside in your district. That's not democratic, dude. Just as you have no right to decide who sits on Bethlehem's city council, no Bethlehem resident should be voting to endorse you. Yours is a district, not countywide, seat.

4) If you believe Power and Hall deserve an endorsement, you should demand another meeting so that all Democratic candidates can be endorsed. That's what a party is supposed to do. But you won't do that, will you? This will hurt you. Let me make a prediction. You will win the primary and get creamed in the general election because a majority of voters, who don't decide these things in dark bar rooms, will conclude you're a phony. If you don't think Angle will point this out, you're nuts. You just served up your own head on a silver platter.

5) Why shouldn't Will be "disruptive," as you called him? A scant 16% is making all the decisions. People who don't live in his district are votring against his endorsement. Boss Long drones on for 15 minutes about Sam Bennett and gives actual candidates 2 minutes to speak? I'm sure Will strayed, but that's what happens in a democracy. It's an inefficient, unwieldy form of government. You have to hear things that may be totally unrelated to the business at hand. But it's still preferable to a totalitarian form of government. This is not a union hall.

Not long ago, a man stood up against the machine. He believes in government by the people. Boss Long was furious at him because he went against the machine. This candidate opposed rewarding developers and county contractors with public money. He would not have thrown money at a road for a Wal Mart in Wind Gap in the hope that all that public money would guarantee his reelection. This candidate's name was John Stoffa, and the people chose him over the party machine.

Now we know where you really stand - with the machine. The people be damned. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

Party endorsements in Primary elections are silly, in my opinion!
Individual committee folks should work their neighborhood for the candidate of their choice is fine. Political Parties are supposed to organize volunteers, build the Party registration base, secure good candidates for elective office, help them get elected and then move on to next election. Parties are not to dictate to elected officials, or else! Very weak political Parties in NorCo can't deliver votes for anybody. If someone they endorse wins, they take credit, and call in political favors. They lose: the candidate is at fault. The exact same goes for the so-called un-elected big wig donors of either Party. I have always suggested: 3 "equal" parts are necessary for candidate to win: volunteers, money and a good candidate, period. After any win person should serve entire public treating everyone the very same, and not be dictated to by anyone!

Anonymous said...

Nice picture of Joe Long

Anonymous said...

Will Power reports:

I just did some stat work with the NorCo Dem Committee membership, and this is what I found with the posting of the Northampton County Voter Registration Office’s web link to the May 16. 2006 primary:

Of the 200 (margin of error is 5) elected members:

106 were elected with just 1 vote.
Hence, the MAJORITY was elected only with their own single write- in vote.
Don’t these folks know how to ask anyone to vote for them??? Or do they just know how to get told how to vote by some abusive father figure????

24 were elected with just 2 votes.
My favorite example is Sandy and Lamont McClure…they only got two votes.
Seems that they don’t know their own neighbors too well, do they????

17 were elected in the range of 3 to 9 votes received by their neighbors.
They got less than 10, which is the amount required by the PA Election codes/ rules in order to have their names on the ballot. Two examples are Walter Garvin (you probably know of him) who got 6 write-in votes, and Radha Ganapathy who got 5 (and was later named the Area # 3 Chair of the party, which covers Freemansburg, Hellertown, Lower Saucon Township, and Bethlehem Township - Holy Molly Batman, those 5 votes were more powerful than any Joker could make up).

Last, but certainly not least, (only) 53 were elected the dignified way, with the proper groundwork of filling nominating petitions and having their names on the ballot for their neighbors to see. I respect them for their position, and nobody has the right to ask for anyone in this group (yes my wife and I are 2 of those 53 in this group) to shut up and leave a meeting due to their efforts to be there in the first place and to do so is GROSSLY UNDEMOCRATIC.

written by Will Power

Anonymous said...

Your just mad your own hand picks didnt get endorsed by Joe Long. Cry baby. Too bad. The committee works fine without you or idiots like Power.

Anonymous said...

Will Power wrote:

Correction to be noted for the record: I referred to my voting district previously, and stated that there were 70 Democratic voters who came to vote in Freemansburg on May 16, 2006. There were actually a total of 80 voters who came out that election day. Sorry. - Will

Anonymous said...

Will Power wrote:

You see how children speak when they can be anonymous...they actually embarrass themselves as they hide from their identity. No that's a good thing. We grown-ups who proudly share our identity know that the source of information and comments really ought to be attached and shared.

written by Will Power

Bernie O'Hare said...

I allow anonymous comments on this blog. Some people have jobs that require low profiles, so the anonymous option lets them express themselves. I like the discussion and don't mind the occasional shot. I just alter my routes home that day.

It's funny. The meeting convened only a half block from my estate atop the Army Navy store. I think they wanted me to drop by and blow them kisses. But I was busy. I'll try to make it next time. Why should Power have all the fun?