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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Are You Ready For Some Football . . . And Local Elections?

On Sunday, peewee football season started here in the Lehigh Valley. Hundreds of screaming parents cheered and booed as the Nazareth Clippers took Allentown's East Side Huskies to the doghouse, 6 - 0, in the ferocious 90 pound division. Coaches moaned, but the kids loved and were perhaps a bit overwhelmed by the $1.7 million artificial playing surface at Andrew S. Leh stadium.

Both The Express Times and Morning Call have set aside separate sections of their papers for the many interesting stories that come from high school sports. I love it. That kind of attention, so long as it's positive, helps keep kids away from the dark side.

In addition to fall sports, another interesting season kicks off with Labor Day- election season. From now until November 6, municipal candidates with mostly small war chests will try their best to deliver their message to voters. But unlike high school football, local papers sound no trumpets to announce the start of these campaigns. Not even a kazoo.

And that's a mistake.

Many people who subscribe to the print media do so for local news. Thus, the decision to refuse to cover local races is more than a disservice to our democratic form of government. It's also bad business. Newspapers that have remained intensely local have actually experienced increased circulation during a time in which people are reading less.

Candidates usually get one article when they announce and another to sum up a campaign. In many small races, that's enough. But when the mud starts flying or there are many issues, the press hides. And this really hurts a challenger. Morning Call columnist Bill White acknowledges this himself. "[I]t has to be frustrating to keep trying and trying to get your message out -- in the back rooms of diners, in quiet hotel meeting rooms, on busy street corners -- knowing that in many cases, almost no one will show up, and no one will hear about it."

Limited manpower and space are often cited as reasons for this scant coverage. But I know many local reporters, and their knowledge of the candidates and their issues is always surprisingly detailed.

Between last May's primary and now, both local papers are trying something new. They've established placeblogs. Local reporters should be able, for the first time, to give detailed attention to municipal races. This should both increase interest in the print media and educate us about our leaders. It will be nice if we finally can get this information from the pros.

But rest assured, the least trusted news source of all - citizen blogs - will also be spouting off. This certainly includes yours truly. Norco Dem Chair Joe Long, in a recent letter to the county exec, called me a "a blogger who has no credibility in this county." I even get parking tickets. I probably should be taken out and buried up to my head in a brownfield.

Here's where you can find some interesting coverage of local races:

Allentown - Queen City Daily (Morning Call blog), Molovinsky on Allentown (former Allentown mayoral candidate and businessman), Our West End Neighborhood (a good Allentown apologist), Look Out Lehigh Valley (her essays really get to me), Schweyer for Council (campaign blog of city council candidate Pete Schweyer).

Bethlehem - Bedlam in Bethlehem (Express Times), Bethlehem Daily Star (Morning Call), Down and Out in Bethlehem (good analysis of Bethlehem city council), Bethlehem Blog Times (former Globe Times reporter Joan Campion has sadly been inactive since March), Bethlehem Regurgitator (the platform of 16 year-old peace activist Peter Christine).

Easton - Two Rivers Daily (Morning Call), the often hilarious Jim Deegan (Express Times), Easton Undressed (promotes open and accountable government).

Nazareth - News Over Coffee (covers Nazareth School District municipalities).

Forks - Forks Action Committee ("an ad hoc watchdog and political action group composed of Forks Township residents whose aims are to promote quality candidates for township office(s) and to inform Forks residents of current issues"), Forks Residents Who Care ("a public service tool that enables us to share relevant information and opinion," but doesn't allow comment).

Northern Lehigh County - Northern Lehigh Valley Logic (penned by a "a lying politician, the reason for the medical malpractice crisis, defender of the guilty, an Auslander. I seek to pollute cornfields and rivers. I will dump sewer straight into the ground. I am a slimy slanderer. I have no business speaking or writing. I will line my pockets with your tax-dollars and dole out public jobs to my friends and family.") Sounds like my kind of guy!

Lehigh Valley - First, let me tell you about the mainstream blogs covering the Lehigh Valley. This summer, Bill White has been "trying to attract more teenage boys to the site" with posts like "Hot Lesbians." And Jedi Joe Owens has battled Imperial stormtroopers in Upper Nazareth Township over - well - street lights. But it won't be long before White's Eye of Mordor focuses its withering gaze on some hapless Lehigh Valley pol. And now that Owens' Express Times baseball team has been humiliated for a second year straight by a bunch of dweebs, he's already complaining about the foul balls on the Bethlehem school board. "The education mafia strikes again. It's a racket -- union, administration and elected officials, all hand-in-hand, skipping down the yellow brick road, winking at taxpayers and nudging one another in thanks."

In addition to these enjoyable mainstream blogs, LVPoliblog will certainly have a few things to say, especially for contested races in Lehigh County. I'm sure Dear Maddy will be busy answering lots of letters. We'll also be getting the usual informative posts from Blue Coyote (very wily), AJ's Web Blog (trained journalist), and GreenDog (political strategist).

I'll focus on Northampton County Council, Northampton County Controller, Easton City Council, Easton Mayor, Easton and Nazareth Magistrate and appellate court races. And although he's trying to slip between the cracks, the retention campaign of Northampton County Judge Steve Baratta will also be featured. Some candidates have already agreed to interviews. I won't pretend to be objective, but will try to be fair.

And if you get fed up, there's always football. And a burgeoning number of nonpolitical local blogs. I'll tell you about them another time.


J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

Wait till early October. Along with the Pumpkin Heads. (I mean Letter from Tommy Panic of course. lol)

But the ads with "Patroitic" tones. Eagles soaring. (And no Ashcroft signing such), Uncle Sam wants you "To place your ad for your political campaign in the valleys fastest growing paper!"

The Express with no shame run at times massive ads even Tiffany & Co would dare not run in size for being too tacky.

Half a whole page devoted to turning our local elections into a fire sale.

But unlike fire sales of stockks at a low price. These ads are a massive cancer. They give bigger rates to Campaigns making it more a most cash wins.

Democracy for sale.

A book called "Run the other way" speaks of how this is a epidemic that is destroying the majority of America.

Watch the City of Easton City Council race. You will see Big money vs No Money.

Ofcourse No Money has morals and good ideas.

Mo Money has the same lame brain in a diffrent bodies than the last time.

Mayor Mitman had Mo Money Mo Money Mo Money!!!

look where it got Easton 18042!

DB said...


I both agree, and stronly disagree, with your posision that I am an Allentown apologist. Please allow me to clarify.

Defining the word apologist as "a person who makes a defense in speech or writing of a belief, idea", I could not agree more.

When defining the word as "a person skilled in apologetics" I strongly disagree.

As presented in my blog, Allentown remains an incredibly vibrant and dynamic place despite the constant pummeling of negative PR (deserved or not) received elsewhere in the media. Allentown and its proud citizens owe an apology to no one.

Bernie O'Hare said...


You agree and disagree? It's pretty hard to argue with that!

When I referred to you as an Allentown apologist, my intention was to use one word to explain that you vigorously proclaim Allentown as a great place to live, work and visit.

Anonymous said...

I have heard several times since the week after the Primary that a losing candidate will attempt to run as a write-in. Seems like that may becoming true as a close source has suggested the photo opts have started and frequent press since early Aug was focused on the campaign. I can understand the initial frustration of a defeat, but the voters have spoken. If this happens, it will serve no value to the people or the process. Any thoughts?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:04,

I think you're speaking of E Penn School Board candidate(?) John Belin.

He's a conservative Republican, a three-time loser, and has refused to cross-file because it might compromise his R principles.

But after losing, he actually switched registration to Dem to improve his chances and, for a time, conned both local parties into putting him on the ballot to complete the term of a resigning member. Both parties feel he has misled them.

He strikes me as a blatant opportunist.

Julian Stolz has posted a blog about this over at LVPoliblog. He thinks party bosses are being "petty" but I disagree. I don't think they are offended so much by his party switching as his apparent deception.

As a write-in, he'll lose.

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

Agree and disagree? Isnt that the definition of a "Flip Flopper"?

Anonymous said...

Bill White?? forget about him, he is to busy whining about the people who go to the Allentown Fair for at least the second year in a row. Also Paul Carpenter spends all his time complaining about the Allentown Police doing their job by making drug busts. I could not believe Paul was actually complaining about it. I wonder what Paul is SMOKING ????

Anonymous said...

Fancy artificial turf, a skateboard park, a middle school swimming pool that would make the Sultan of Brunei blush - all paid for with taxpayers' dollars.

While we direct the nanny state to indulge our latest whims, I'm certainly glad there are no stories detailing dangerous bridges and crumbling infrastructure. Oh wait ....

Play on, Nero. See you at the park.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 12:47,

Say what you will about Carpenter, but I liked those Allentown Fair columns. They were genuinely funny.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, this person is another candidate from LC. I was wondering if there has been political rumblings. Apparently this person has told some party official or has suggested it assuming they would give him the nodd. He may have under-table support from other elected officals. Although I am not sure of this. I suspect journalist like Paul, Bill, and yourself will have a field day if this happens.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm no journalist - just a steenkin' blogger.

DB said...

Go Little Huskies!!!

BethlehemDem said...

Bernie, Thanks for the plug. I plan on posting more regularly now that summer is nearly over. Bethlehem will be electing a new councilperson and a new controller this fall. History could be made. Reynolds would be the youngest council person in Bethlehem's history. The new controller will be the first new controller elected in a long time.

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

Press Pass you don't need no stinking press pass!