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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lehigh Valley Flavor: An Alternative Online Newspaper

He calls it an "E-Publication for THE PEOPLE." It's Alfonso Todd's Lehigh Valley Flavor, an eclectic look at life in the Lehigh Valley. Diverse articles span subjects as diverse as the Gothic Liberation Front (Good, but Misunderstood) to an interview with Jose Rosado, author of Being Good at Being Bad. Between these articles are fascinating pictures and pop art.

He also has published a strident defense of his Down Low/Catch 22 Nightclub, which Allentown is suing to close. "If you have problems with scores of 'black/brown kids and adults' coming into Allentown to spend money and give revenue to a supposedly 'cash-strapped' city and you mind having them roam the streets and 'expect' the police to be called, ask yourself if you have the same opinion when the Allentown Fair and The Mayfair comes to our area and bands of 'white' youth roam Allentown in search of recreation? I really hope it has not come down to THIS in the great city we live in."

Lehigh Valley Flavor is a mind-opening experience.

Allentown Peace March and Rally on May 6

On Monday, I asked whether art can rescue downtown Allentown? The answer appears to be YES. Local arts activist Alfonso Todd, founder of Project R.E.A.L. (Readying Each and Every Life) is organizing a march and rally for May 6. I'll let him tell you about it himself.

The NYC Sean Bell verdict, local rap artist J.Dot's death, treatment of Austin Scott in alleged rape case, Kari Holmes racial assault...

What do all of these things have in common ?

Each incident has made people angry and frustrated over the apparent belief that bias, racism, and misconceptions are no longer problems in the U.S. and/or in the Lehigh Valley.

They also represent the fact that senseless acts of violence are still being committed and must be stopped!

Please join us for the Allentown Peace March and Rally on May 6, 2008 at 3:30pm. It is time to expose the ugly truth about racial intolerance that is alive and well in Allentown, on both sides of the coin. It is also time to confront the violence that is still rearing its ugly head in our community streets.

We are calling everyone, from everywhere, to come stand side by side and represent your desire to live in peace, no matter what nationality or lifestyle your neighbor may be.

We will be meeting at 333 - 335 Hamilton Street (Catch 22) and marching to City Hall where there will be a moment of silence for all of those who have been harassed, victimized, and killed senselessly or due to their beliefs, lifestyle, or nationality.

SPONSORED BY: Project R.E.A.L./CATCH 22. Contact Alfonso at (484) 707-9592 for more information.

A Tale of Two County Execs

Two county execs would like to be your next Governor. Allegheny County Exec Dan Onorato got Northampton Dem Bossman Joe Long to host a meet 'n greet last month at which about fifteen people showed. Most of them had to be there.

So who's helping Lehigh County Exec Don Cunningham? Well, he lacks the powerful assistance of Bossman Long, so he had to ask a little known Philly pol named Ed Rendell to host a fund-raiser on May 7 at Philly's Cuba Libre. According to Capitolwire, donors will be shelling out between $250 and $1,000 for a chance to snuggle with the future Guv.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Allentown Racial Assault Update - Kari Holmes Doing Well

On Friday, I told you about Dr. Karen Holmes, an Allentown minister who participates in Unity in Diversity workshops. Sadly, her daughter - Kari - is the recent victim of what appears to be a racially motivated assault. Karen has been kind enough to update and included me in her email. I would like to share her comments with those of you who expressed or felt concern.

Hello and Thank you,

Thank you for the absolute outpouring of love, the support from every sector of the Valley and the Heaven load of prayers. The massive show of compassion helps to heal. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. Even those who do not know Kari have flooded her with expressions of concern, love prayers. I appreciate that you understand that what happens to one of us happens to all of us.

And yes, I also appreciate the sense of horror and outrage. It is time for all of us to do our part in forging and implementing actionable strategies.

Future updates: Rather that email all of you, I will ask Kimberly to put a blog on our
church web site or the church’s MySpace page. Many have had good suggestions toward actionable plan. Many want to continue expressions support to Kari. Both can be done there. Hopefully, Moses Clark, will organize/coordinate an actionable strategic plan in for our community. I hope The Holmes Family will now record and distribute the song we did for Life Church, "Justice Is Righteousness" and sometime this week I expect to post the rest of "Hate Is Not A Color".

About Kari: Kari did finally go to the hospital. X-rays were the extent of an examination. The X-rays did not show anything broken or fractured. Her neck is swollen and her body is sore. None of that was looked at in the hospital. Right about now she's glad her mom is one of those radical "faith healers" and she knows that Jesus is the Great Physician by first hand experience. She will be well. Kari keeps ministering the Word to herself, most especially II Timothy 1:7; and doesn’t Psalm 107:20 tell us He sent His Word and healed them and delivered them...His Word will heal her spirit and psyche. Saturday was a rough day for her. Fear kept trying to creep in when she needed to go out to take care of some things. There is counseling for victims of crime and she will look into it. She needs your prayers, your love, and your good will while the Balm of Gilead does His work. Ministering is life to our family; thankfully, Kari has been working with church in NJ so Sunday is like a B 12 shot for her…and today their choir has another service, so it’s a mega B 12. God is altogether lovely in all His ways. She will be following through with other plans of action on this matter come Monday and will spend the week tying up everything for the Thurs-Sun National Day Of Prayer observances. Kari does ask for your support and presence at these observances "but especially Sunday". Please put them on your calendar and in your plans.

The National Day of Prayer: Kari does ask for your support and presence at these observances "but especially Sunday". Please put the dates on your calendar and in your plans:
Thursday May 1st

11am –2pm City United at Allentown’s 7th Street Monument, Hamilton St.
7pm –9pm First Baptist Church, 1808 N 19th St, Altwn, Pastor Neil Kulp
Friday, May 2nd

7pm -10pm Youth Praying at The Forte Bldg. 1337 E 5th St, Bethlehem, Pa
Saturday, May 3rd

6pm -10pm At The Forte Bldg. 1337 E 5th St Bethlehem, Pa
Sunday, May 4th

6pm - 8pm Region United at First Baptist Church 3235 Linden St, Bethlm.
The Regional National Day Of Prayer, Sunday evening worship begins with covered dish fellowship.

The police: Some of you know that when a police report was sought on Thursday afternoon, there was none to be found. My guess is that it was in process for filing, since The Call apparently got a copy and we now have one. Did the tide change because the community began to express its displeasure? One thing I know for certain, the tide changed, and the change was very good.

Concerning the police officer who came on Thursday who did not want to get too friendly before getting the facts; maybe he should be dispatched somewhere other than someone's home and deal with something other than people, since shaking a victims hand at their door or in their home is "too friendly:" at least, something more suited to his style and personality.

On the two deceives came on Thursday: There was a slight edginess at the door that made me wonder who made them come. But both of them were the appropriate combination of professional and cordial. The detective who was actually making the report asked his questions without “attitude” or conversely, without being “overly understanding.” He is a wonderful example of a community servant in the job of being diligent with data and human with human beings. The detectives took us to where the hate crime took place and got a good handle on how and where it all occurred.

We were going to meet the detectives at the police station so Kari look at photos and write out her own account. When that did not work out, Detective Good-at-his-job, and another detective came back and picked us up. This young detective continued to be professional, thorough and patient. Kari might have a different perspective; she kept trembling during the process and at one point bowed her head and cried. The detective didn’t rush her, he simply let her collect herself and then quietly continued. It did take hours.

Important Police Point: The Allentown police do not have any such category of crime to do with “hate crimes.” This is simply classified as an “assault.”

No information was given about what to do in the case of "hate crime." The President of the NAACP let Kari know that hate crimes are handled by the State Police.

The City:
As to the hate and bigotry that is alive and ill in the Valley: it must be eradicated. I plead all sectors of our community to do our part in forging and implementing actionable strategies to that end: and to give real aid to victims of such crimes; and to make necessary information available.

Hate and bigotry must be eradicated from the streets, the courts, from the newspapers, from the educational institutions and process, from business and corporate policies, intuitional and political norm and everywhere else it festers. We have to own up to it, address it and correct it; appropriately...aggressively.... now...not later. Denial has been damaging, delay has been costly.
Excuses are just that, x uses: things that neither you nor I, nor anyone else has any use for:

We also need to address and correct some ills that are not necessarily borne of bigotry, but are bad policy, menacing mistakes, abuse of power, and apathy at the knowledge of those that do.

I appreciate the emails, messages and calls from the mayor, council members, police chief, community action head and members: especially the action of the community action committee. Let us continue to take the outrage and horror at this hate crime to right our wrongs--I appreciate actionable strategies to eradicate and educate concerning hate crimes.

It is a spirit that will inflame your emotions
Play with your mind and dictate your actions
It will twist your ties and corrupt your commitments
Hate will poison your legacy and pollute your progeny
And make you less of a person than any person was meant to be. KEH

Do LC Deputy Sheriffs Really Need Glocks?

Lehigh County Exec Don Cunningham "Safe Streets" community policing program provides $1 million in matching grant money, over three years, to fund a proactive approach to crime. Lehigh County taxpayers currently spend $1.1 million per week to prosecute and incarcerate criminals. If that cost can be reduced by funding a few cops on bicycles, it is money very well spent.

Amazingly, all five Republicans on Lehigh County's Board of Commissioners have said "No" to this idea, at least temporarily. All along, Commissioner Dean Browning has objected to the use of tax revenues to fund this program, but has identified other funding sources. Browning's objection appears to be reasonable and protects the county taxpayer.

But Commissioner Andy Roman, unlike Browning, thinks the county should limit its money to its own functions. In the first hearing on this matter, he publicly worried that deputies - armed with revolvers - were being outgunned by thugs. There are two flaws in Roman's thinking. First, he is only interested in spending money on programs that react to crime. Second, are revolvers inadequate?

At the second hearing, a number of deputies just coincidentally showed up to complain about being armed with revolvers. Obviously, Roman wanted these deputies to provide him with political cover for voting against something publicly endorsed by both the Republican DA and Lehigh County police chiefs. So two deputies got up and complained, alienating police officers and chiefs who had come for a community policing program. They claimed their radios are inferior and that equipping them with revolvers is just not enough. "It's dangerous. We don't just deal with inmates, we deal with the public, too."

These "law enforcement officers," if you want to call them that, don't really give a damn about community policing or their "brothers" on municipal police forces. They were there to get their boss, Sheriff Ronald Rossi. His philosophy of "doing more with less" really bothers deputies, who chafe at his tight budgets.

Irked by this insubordination, Rossi intends to place disciplinary letters in their file. And deputies have responded with character assassination at The Morning Call Reader Forum. What these deputies need to learn is that they are just deputies and their boss, the sheriff, prefers revolvers.

The question of revolver v. semi-automatic is very much up in the air. Revolvers fire more slowly but are more accurate. Since deputies are usually providing courtroom security, I can certainly understand the concern for accuracy. Thanks to semi-automatic weapons, three New York detectives were able to fire fifty rounds into a car driven by twenty-three year-old Sean Bell, who was innocent of any wrong-doing.

Can deputies even be considered cops? There are numerous decisions going both ways, and the extent of their authority is murky. Legislation has been proposed to make clear that deputies have the same clout as regular cops - HB 466 - but it has been languishing in the Judiciary Committee since February, 2007.

DA Jim Martin stated emphatically that deputies are not law enforcement officers at the second commissioners' meeting, but I know several Northampton County deputy sheriffs willing to debate that point - privately. Unlike their Lehigh County counterparts, they act professionally.

No wonder they're armed with semi-automatics.

This is Your Brain - This is Your Brain on Hip Hop

In three major appearances over the past four days, Barack Obama's pastor has done his utmost to ensure that the presidency goes to Hillary Clinton or John McCain.

Jeremiah Wright's NAACP speech, delivered Sunday night, actually claims there is an organic difference between blacks and whites. Amazingly, he claims we have different brain structures. Whites are apparently left-brained while blacks are right-brained, which enables black kids to remember "every word from every song on every hip hop radio station ... ." Gee, I wonder if he has studied Asian brains, too. This imagined difference is how racism becomes possible.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien, calls Wright's speech a "home run," proving she uses neither side of her brain.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Can Art Help Rescue Downtown Allentown?

In my evil quest to rule the blog universe, I went to House of Chen Friday night to knock off a few bloggers. Since that's in downtown Allentown, I figured no one would even notice for a few days. By the way, killing bloggers is completely legal in the Queen City so long as you pay the necessary permit fees. Molovinsky on Allentown, Lehigh Valley Somebody, Allentown City Arts, Lehigh Valley Lexicon and Seventh Street Now were actually all going to be in the same place at the same time, a serious security lapse.

Imagine all the room I could free up on my blogroll!

The person I really wanted to nail was Michael ("Can't we all just get along?") Donovan, the Inclusion blogger and Allentown city councilman who says outrageous things like "Stay in touch, smile, be civil." Unfortunately, when Donovan saw me coming, he hightailed it out of there, telling the waitress I'd be picking up his tab. (He must have learned that trick from Mayor Ed).

Why was everyone at House of Chen? Actually, the whole thing was planned by Mrs. Dottie, and this get-together attracted around thirty artists, writers and local businessmen. From beginning to end, I enjoyed wonderful conversation and great Asian cuisine with people I'd be unlikely to see in the political world. I also got to catch up with Rosemary Gesek, who was my sister's best friend in high school. You can view some of her work by clicking on the gallery here.

Can art help rescue a rough place like downtown Allentown? These artists think so, Alfonso Todd will have a community arts festival between 6th and 7th Sts. in July and is looking for artists. It is guerrilla art, in which artists simply set up shop and work away. People who see this type of art naturally slow down, talk and relax. It may make communities just a little safer.

Dottie has a few pictures from Friday night. Sarina "was really happy to see so many people and find out that there are painters, writers, musicians, graphic designers, etc. living quietly and working diligently in the Allentown area." Joe Skrapits claimed it "was inspiring to meet and listen to so many intelligent, creative people ... ."

Fortunately, neither Sarina nor Joe met me. I was busily stuffing eggrolls and lo mein in my pockets as Skrapits spoke. When Molovinsky caught me, I told him I've become a sculptor.

LáZorro Pounds Pawlowski Over Allentown Racial Assault

I call himself LáZorro (with an á, damn it!) because of his keen sense of right and wrong. He is also known as Lázaro Fuentes, a venture capitalist who chairs the Lehigh Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania's largest Hispanic organization. It includes 318 businesses that employ over 2,550 people with over 12,500 family and extended family members right here in the Lehigh Valley.

Like many of you, Fuentes is outraged over the racial assualt reported by Kari Holmes and by the way Allenotwn has reacted. This is his letter to my pal, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

Dear Mr. Mayor,

I hear that the policeman that took this report refused to shake her hand [Kari Holmes] when he approached her to take the report and that the report mysteriously was lost at the precinct. I also heard that you did not have the decency to contact Ms. Holmes yourself and instead had one of your “people” call, even though she was instrumental during your campaign to help get you elected. I suppose that you are just too busy, again, to deal with the rampant crime in your city. Maybe had another meeting with Butz or your buddies at the LVEDC?

I for one hope that Allentown gets a real Mayor one day. A genuine one. If only a Guridy or a Donovan would run against you. That would be something, wouldn’t it? Maybe then the people might get some needed attention and security not “just” the developers and bankers. You should have run for Bus Driver. It would have saved you having to throw the people closest to you under the bus. You would be able to just run them over.

Fix your issues Mayor. Stop ignoring the policing problems. You might want to start by getting them to leave the precinct.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Unity in Diversity Family Member Reports Racial Assault

Dr. Karen Holmes is a speaker I remember from my visit to the Unity in Diversity workshop in Allentown last month. I'm sorry to learn that one of her family members members was assaulted, and it appears to be a racially motivated assault. This is a copy of an email that Dr. Miller is sending to her email list.

I pray the Prince of Peace walks with you this day,

First, let me say, Kari seems to be okay. She is bruised, sore and shaken. She did not go to the emergency room for fear of the bill it would generate. She did file a police report.

At our urging, with the pain increasing, and unable to walk, she went to the hospital tonight. I am sending this out in a plea to unite around an actionable plan to eradicate the hate crimes in the Lehigh Valley. The police seem to be able to do little, the FBI seem to need more outrageous crimes, and many of the rest of us ordinary folk, have been stunned or lulled into disbelief. But we need an actionable plan in the Lehigh Valley to stop the assaults and property damage due to hate crime. I hope you welcome my call when I ring you for ideas and action. I will tell you what happened this morning. Please know this is not an isolated incident in the Lehigh Valley and it is escalating in frequency and severity.

This morning as Kari was in the car coming from a 24hr supermarket, a small light gray – 2 door auto (license GYP_______) was blocking her entrance into an access way. The driver, a Caucasoid male with short dark hair, (mid twenties), and a Caucasoid female with dark hair past her shoulders (early to mid twenties), and a Caucasoid female with long blond hair past her shoulders (early to mid twenties), began hollering things like "We're not moving you ni____ger b____ch" "We're gonna kill you, you ni____ger” Mind you there were three, each hatefully and vehemently spewing their taunts and intentions. As Kari managed to pass them, they squealed their car into a u turn and sped after her. Kari turned in different streets trying to loose them and they kept trying to hedge her in and side swipe her. At one point they swung in front of her, cutting her off. One of the young women jumped out of the car and opened Kari's car door (there is a short, and the door comes unlocked), drug her out and began to beat her, all the while, all three are spouting off their hatred of n____ and their intention to "kill the n____ b_____" and all but jumped in to get at Kari. From her smell and actions, Kari said the girl who attacked her must have been drinking. (After this incident, when I got in the car the smell of alcohol lingered...we do not drink.) The young woman dragged Kari out of the car and was wailing away...The others began to scream, “kill her Anna, kill that nig____.” Now, Kari is a sweetie, but she is not to be contended with. When the other two saw this to be the fact they got back in the car and screeched away. The young woman tried to flee, hollering after the other two in the car not to leave her. As Kari got up and back in the car, they all fled.

By the way, this was not center city; this all took place on Allentown's East side...between Airport Road and Plymouth, right off Union Blvd. and between 6:05 & 6:30 this morning. And I don't need to tell all the rest. As I said before, my purpose in this email is to unite us on an actionable plan to stop this. I know most of my Caucasian friends, pastors and such do not realize how bad nor how long this problem has been. I would say at all is too much and too long. But the fact is, years ago it was taunts and threats, then a few years ago it went to property damage, then in 2005 there began attempts at physical harm and very real life and death circumstances. And while I know my own family's plight better than any other, I also know of far to many others who have loved God and their fellow man while suffering such things. And I know some who are sick and tired. Please, join me; uphold me, even, with an actionable plan to stop the acts of racial violence in our cities. Become aware if you didn’t know. So many people say that---good people just did not know or can't believe this is happening right around them. Whether I call on you as a religious leader, community leader, educator, politician, corporate exec, community servant, please welcome my call. Please help...please be part of the solution. I hope, I pray you will welcome my call.

And ladies, put 911 on speed dial in your cell and walk to your cars with your cell in your hand. The thing this morning was in daylight, unexpected, and not in a high crime area. Yes, Jesus is with you and Goodness and Mercy follow you--that is why Kari is only sore and bruised-- the better part of Wisdom is your cell phone in your hand...and lock your car doors, pronto…as you pray for our cities.

Rev. Dr Karen Holmes

Local Contributors and Voters Aren't Buying Into Bennett

In yesterday's post about Sam Bennett's appeal to special interests, someone actually tried to claim anonymously that Congressman Charlie Dent gets "a lot of financial support from outside the district." This is pure baloney. According to the link supplied by this Bennett booster, Pennsylvanians contributed $1.4 million of the $1.5 million raised in the 2006 race.

In this year's race, ninety per cent of Dent's money comes from inside the state. The top ten zip codes of his contributors are all located inside Dent's home district. This is a good indication that people here support him. If they're contributing to his campaign, it's a pretty safe bet they'll be voting for him, too.

How's that Bennett grass roots campaign going? According to a study performed by the Dent camp, not too well. Evil genius Shawn Millan reports that 78% of her $177,823 in itemized contributions comes from outside the Lehigh Valley. Uh oh! Nearly 30% comes from people who do not even live in Pennsylvania.

These figures do not even include PAC contributions.

“To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never before have so few people from a community, given so little support to a candidate with so many ethical questions surrounding her,” said Shawn Millan, campaign manager for Congressman Charlie Dent.

Allentown Democratic voters have twice voted to defeat Bennett in her mayoral campaigns. Many still remember the public spectacle she made of herself after the first loss. They know that, contrary to her campaign claims, she left the Mayfair Festival saddled with debt. They know her first financial disclosure was a disaster. "Take three zeros off all of it, and you've got the right answer," her campaign spokesman joked. Most tellingly, voters know that she used a local non-profit organization, Properties of Merit, to enrich herself by improperly paying herself a hugely inflated salary of $110,000 a year at taxpayer expense.

Amazingly, Bennett views this lack of local support as a “great sign.” “Folks out of District see the viability here,” said Bennett. In fact, according to the Democratic party's own blog, she's concentrating on funding sources outside her own district.

Good luck with that!

People outside her district are unable to vote for her. And Democrats inside her District won’t vote for her. On Primary Election Day, nearly 40,000 Democrats in Lehigh and Northampton counties, who voted in the Presidential race, didn’t bother to vote for Bennett. Overall, 36% of Democrat voters overlooked or ignored her candidacy. In Northampton County, 48% of the Democratic voters refused to vote for her.

“These numbers show that Siobhan Bennett is utterly disconnected from the people of our community. Is it any wonder that those who know her best are least likely to support her candidacy?” asked Millan.

Lehigh Valley Kids To Walk For Invisible Children on Saturday

Invisible children.

That's what they call these children of Northern Uganda, who are abducted and forced to become soldiers.

Lehigh Valley's children care. On Saturday, Lehigh Valley Academy Charter School’s Student Action Committee and other students will stage a three-mile walk for the war-stricken child soldiers of Uganda. Here are the details.

When: Saturday, 11 AM, at the parking lot under Bethlehem's Hill to Hill Bridge, near Musikfest.

What: A three mile walk through downtown Bethlehem, ending at the Spring on Fourth Street Chili cook-off.

Why: Invisible Children is a nonprofit organization that helps raise money for schools in Africa. f LVA students are asking the public to help them walk for this worthy cause, and to raise money to help support these children (Donations are greatly appreciated although not necessary to walk). T-shirts and buttons will be available for purchase at the event.

Organizers: Five LVA sophomores have organized this walkathon - Josh Won, Amanda Allred, Michelle Valencia, Alyssa Leonard, and Stephen Prager. Their message? "Come help us end a war and save millions from suffering. Come help the Invisible Children."

Cunningham Top LV Vote-Getter in Presidential Delegate Run

When not playing a gig in his band, Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham has what you might call a mild interest in politics. He received 53,406 votes as a delegate for Hillary Clinton in Tuesay’s Pennsylvania Primary. That makes him top dog. In fact, Cunningham attracted more votes from Dems in Lehigh, Northampton, Montgomery and Berks Counties than Barack Obama, who walked away with 41,686 votes in the Lehigh Valley.

“It’s an honor to be selected by the people of the Lehigh Valley to represent them in support of Senator Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention.” said Cunningham.

Rounding out the top five highest vote-getters in the 15th Congressional District were Joseph Russo with 52,071 votes, Kathy Campbell with 50,783 votes, Iris Linares with 45,519, and Miriam Huertas with 45,173. Delegates are assigned proportionally as a percentage of vote total in congressional districts. State Democratic Party officials will announce which delegates in addition to Cunningham will represent the Lehigh Valley at the National Democratic Convention, August 25-28, 2008, in Denver, Colorado.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dancing With Don on Friday Night

Eat and Dance with Lehigh County Executive "Don Cunningham and His Cabinet" on Friday night, 7 PM, at the East Side Youth Center, 1140 E. Clair St., Allentown. (Corner of Clair and Knapp Streets).

I'm told Sterling Raber plays a mean acoustic guitar and has recently signed to play in Cunningham's band.

Cost: $25 per person, at the door or in advance.

Abundant food and drinks served.

Make checks payable to "Friends of Don Cunningham," PO Box 644 - Bethlehem, PA 18016

Sam Bennett in Congress?

You really think Sam Bennett is going to represent you? Think again.

Lehigh County Commissioners Refuse to Fund Community Policing Program

It was one of those nights. Lehigh County's hearing room was packed with so many cops I felt I was in a 7-11. District Attorney Jim Martin was there, too, pacing while smoke billowed out his nostrils. Before last night's festivities were over, even Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski had joined in the fun. But despite their pleas, Lehigh County Commissioners refused to reinstate Don Cunningham's $1 million grant proposal for a three year community policing program. The voter went strictly along party lines, with all Republicans opposed.

There were many great arguments in support of community policing. Cunningham told commissioners this is really just an extension of the many community revitalization funding programs already in place.

But Commissioner Andy Roman was unswayed by arguments that community officers are "proactive," "Ambassadors," or "sources of intelligence." When this idea was first proposed, he argued that the county should make sure its own house is in order before giving money to other municipalities. Last night, several deputy sheriffs suggested that money should go to them.

Deputies Mike Wacas (sp?) and John Barrett (sp?) complained their department is the only one left in the state that still uses revolvers, which leaves them outgunned against people carrying semi-automatics. They also noted the radios provided to them are so bad they can't reach the communications center. I guess these guys want bazookas or something. According to Barrett, "It's dangerous. We don't just deal with inmates, we deal with the public, too."

But does he deal with bloggers?

What these deputies failed to make clear is that their boss, Sheriff Rossi, has never asked for these things. Where the hell was he? And DA Martin told commissioners he won't consider deputies law enforcement officers until a statute is adopted.

When Pawlowski arrived, he rambled on for at least twenty minutes, telling commissioners what a great job he's done with Allentown's fiscal affairs, turning a $8 million deficit into a $6 million surplus, among other things. And of course, he wants those officers to reduce the "perception" of crime. Call me crazy, but if I wanted a handout, I wouldn't be bragging about how much money I have in the bank. At one point, he even told Commissioner Glenn Eckhart, "You have no idea what you're talking about." After the vote, Pawlowski walked up and criticized commissioners again. "It's a sad day for county government ... ."

Although commissioners claim they may decide to fund a community policing program, I think it's dead. Would you want to give money to a guy who acts like he doesn't need it and then insults you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let Us All Bow Our Heads and Pray for Governor Rendell

If anything happens to Rendell, Catherine Baker Knoll becomes our Guv.

Pennsylvania Decides - Ladies First!

Barack Obama, after telling a cheering Indiana throng that it's "good to be back in the Midwest," indirectly explains his failure in Pennsylvania. "It’s easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit-for-tat that consumes our politics; the bickering that none of us are immune to, and that trivializes the profound issues – two wars, an economy in recession, a planet in peril."

His failure to follow that advice cost him dearly. I told you yesterday that, with a ten point margin of victory, Hillary Clinton could convincingly argue that momentum is on her side. She got it. With 89% of the vote tallied, her statewide margin of victory is 55.1% to 44.9%. (Northampton County margin - 62 to 38; Lehigh County margin - 60 to 40). In the two hours since being declared the winner, her campaign has raked in over $1 million.

Clinton can now argue that, if you count disputed totals in Michigan and Florida, she leads in the popular vote.

In Hiladelphia, Clinton graciously acknowledges Pennsylania's importance. "It's a long road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and it runs right through the heart of Pennsylvania." Instead of acting as though her candidacy is "inevitable," she now strikes me as a decent human being.

As predicted on April Fool's Day, "Hillary will be the Democratic nominee for President. She will leave Pennsylvania with both momentum and money. Obama's campaign is in disarray, and Hillary is apparently much warmer and vibrant than commonly thought. Pennsylvania is where she makes her push. If you put your ears to the ground, you'll hear the train rumbling, and it's getting louder and louder."

And I Thought Dean Browning Liked Democrats

Thanks to Northern LV Logic, I now know that Dean Browning plans to squash me. And he seems so nice!

A Few More Words About Blogging From a Disbarred Attorney

meWhen I first started blogging, and had maybe twenty or less daily readers, it was basically an exercise in writing. I've always loved to write, and this was a forum that gave me some freedom to say exactly what I thought.

I gave myself two months. It's been two years.

I had no specific desire to discuss local politics. But that's pretty much what has happened. I present a picture of mostly local leaders and issues you are unlikely to see in the MSM. I can go into more detail, be more opinionated and really piss people off, too. I can also focus on issues that matter to me, like local campaign finance or open and accountable government.

Now, this blog has annoyed many local leaders. The most recent example is Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Until the blogosphere arose, few knew the obscene amount of money - $108,588 - he has been collecting from city workers and contractors during off election years. Hizzoner knows there's only one paper in town and counts on a lack of competition to shove his agenda down everyone's throat with little dissent. Those who question him are marginalized as naysayers or must be from the "boonies of Northampton County."

Here in the blogosphere, Pawlowski is fair game. Even MSM hotshots like Bill White have noticed.

Pawlowski is just one of many examples. Dem party boss Joe Long had seizures when Northampton County Exec John Stoffa made the mistake of including a blogger in a press conference. "I ask you to cease and desist from treating O'Hare as legitimate press."

Blogistan even presents a challenge to highly paid spinmeisters like LVEDC's communications director, Joe McDermott. He's really being paid to promote the agenda of Lehigh Valley's unelected aristocrats in The Lehigh Valley Partnership. They are the puppeteers pulling the strings for elected leaders like Pawlowski. If you don't believe that, just look at his campaign finance reports. They must really get annoyed when some low brow blogger comes along and starts throwing monkey wrenches into their well laid plans. It makes his job so much harder.

If I've done one thing right, it's this - I've really managed to piss some powerful people off. It's a gift. But what I write is entitled to no credibility unless I follow this simple mantra - be fair.

I've already blown that ideal twice since Saturday. I posted a blog with a picture of a Hillary sign claiming she likes to eat children, who do taste pretty good if properly cooked and marinated. But my headline was misleading, creating the implication in some people's minds that I was blaming Obama 's campaign. My readers quickly noted this, and I was forced to agree. I did pretty much the same damn thing again on Tuesday, and was quickly called out by my readers.

I violated my own mantra. My readers are actually my editors. If I go over the top with something, they let me know pretty quickly.

Despite stunning good looks, I am only human. Many things my critics say are true. I am an alcoholic. I did lose my license to practice law. I am pretty poor. I do live in a small apartment. I do accumulate parking tickets. I am overweight. I do drive a banged up jeep that probably should be towed away. I am also very opinionated. I may even be a blowhard. Those are the nice things. Other complaints are hateful. But they are to be expected.

If I dump all over Bossman Joe Long, Mayor Ed or Scissorhands Severson, I have to expect someone to return the courtesy. That's no biggie. Have I afflicted the comfortable? Yes. Have I covered stories in ways you won't see in the MSM? Absolutely. Is it impartial? Absolutely not. Informative? Yes. Entertaining? Hopefully.

But unfortunately, some local bloggers have also joined the cacaphony of ad hominem complaints directed at me by local leaders. And it all came about because I actually defended a local official from an unfair and defamatory attack.

I'll tell you about the "team" at LVPoliblog next time. They just removed their link to this blog, too!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Catherine Baker Knoll Throws Hissyfit at Clinton Rally

Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll is going to have see the pope again! After being overlooked during a Pittsburgh campaign rally for Hillary Clinton, she exploded when Allegheny County Exec Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl forgot to introduce her.

"They never recognize the lieutenant governor. These two men can't stand women. You know what? I have loafed with this president and with Hillary and their beautiful daughter Chelsea for 25 years. That's long before he was the governor -- that's governor of Arkansas."

A commenter at Capitol Ideas has posted this link to the hilarious audio.

Obama Campaign Playing Dirty Tricks in Nazareth

Hillary Clinton supporters manning polls at Nazareth's three precincts are reporting dirty tricks from Obama's "well oiled hope machine." Hillary signs, placed onsite at 5 AM, have already been stolen from at least two polling places. A volunteer named Patricia, pictured on the left, simply went home to get her lawn signs, and is now dealing with an Obama supporter who periodically drives by and gives her the finger. After school, Patricia will be joined by her 10-year old daughter, who has a handmade "Hunt Hillary" sign.

Patricia also tells me recently, when she returned home, there was an Obama sign hanging on her glass door. She was offended by the arrogance of someone placing a sign without her permission, and removed it. Later that day, she and her husband were accosted by some dude driving a white car with Illinois plates. He demanded they put that Obama sign back up and refused to leave until Pat and her husband threatened to call the police.

Chicago-style politics are a bust in Nazareth.

Obama Disappoints Northampton County Exec John Stoffa

On April Fools Day, I predicted Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nod. True, Barack Obama's campaign does send at least ten spam emails every day. I've even seen volunteers in fancy blue T-shirts prancing up and down the streets of Easton and Nazareth. But Hillary is going to win big in Pennsylvania, and will leave this state with the momentum needed to attract superdelegates and money. She will be the Democratic nominee.

Who can she thank for this? Barack Obama.

Instead of trying to deliver a knock out punch, he actually spotted her a two week head start. His condescending remark that small town Pennsylvanians "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them," has gained him very few votes. Instead of appearing eloquent or even thoughtful in his widely-viewed debate, he came across as petulant and petty. To make matters worse, he accused Clinton of "slash and burn" politics just yesterday. Perhaps most foolish of all, he has conceded defeat before the polls have even opened.

In addition to Obama's own errors, his "well-oiled hope machine" has been a disaster. Although they might be good at telling us what to think in neverending emails, they're slow to answer questions. I have yet to get responses to any of the emails or telephone calls placed with his local and state campaign.

And it goes way beyond me.

One state representative was leaning towards Obama last time I spoke to him, but was complaining that no one ever called him as promised. And Northampton County Exec John Stoffa reports a similar experience. "It is disappointing to me that Obama spent so little time in Pennsylvania - in essence he gave up on us. Just imagine if he had fought hard here and won, just think the message that would have sent. Although I offered, I was never contacted by any one from his campaign. On the other hand I was contacted three different times by Hillary people and invited to support her - the most recent at Liberty. I refused all three because I believe that he is the better candidate. He may not be as organized as most people think."

After the polls close tomorrow, Clinton will have the momentum she needs, thanks to Obama and a poorly run campaign.

A Few Words About Blogging From a Disbarred Attorney

I have a story for you, but it's not my usual rant about politics. It's instead about blogging. It's good mental therapy and the best thing is you don't even have to read it. This is mostly for me.

Some of you may have probably noticed an increase in the number of anonymous personal attacks directed at me here and on a few other blogs. You see, I've had a little spat with several LVPolibloggers. They believe I'm intent upon world domination, squeezing out all voices until I'm the only one left.

Actually, they're right! Somehow, they've stumbled upon my fiendishly evil plan.

But I'm an abysmal failure. There has actually been an explosion of local blogs, and I link to all of them, even those that detest me. So what's this tiff really about?

Jealousy. You see, I'm very handsome, and women are naturally attracted to me. I'd love to know what it's like to be ugly for just one day, but am cursed by godlike features.

You're not buying that? OK. Here's the truth. Although we have no editors or filters, I have this weird notion that we polibloggers need to be ethical. Like it or not, this is some sort of journalism. If we expect to have any credibility, we need to be fair.

Rebecca's Pocket has a few minimal standards.
1. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true.
2. If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.
3. Publicly correct any misinformation.
4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.
5. Disclose any conflict of interest.
6. Note questionable and biased sources.

Those six sentences can be reduced even more to just two words - be fair.

Most of us get this. But there are an unfortunate few who have thrown all notions of fairness out the window. When they do so, they hurt us all. Over the next few days, I'll detail my hopes for this form of media and and my objections to the unethical bloggers who abuse it.

Food Drive For Local Food Banks This Friday

Thanks to the rising cost of gas, working people and low income families are struggling just to eat. Local food banks and pantries are running out of food.

Wal-Mart has offered to help, and a food drive will be held on Friday, April 25th 2008, from noon to 6 p.m., at the Wal-Mart on MacArthur Road in Whitehall.

These are the most needed food and non-perishable items:

Canned Foods
Meat (spam, tuna, deviled ham, chicken, turkey & beef)
Meat meals (chili, beef stew, chicken & dumplings)
Pork and beans

Other Food Items
Baby Food
Baby Formula
Betty Crocker Complete Meal Dinners
Bottled juice
Boxed potatoes (scalloped & mashed)
Corn breads
Macaroni & Cheese
Pasta Sauces
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Personal Care Items
Powdered milk
Quick breads
Ramen Noodles

This food drive will benefit the following food banks: Salvation Army of Bethlehem, Bethlehem, PA; Northampton Area Food Bank, Northampton, PA; Bethany E.C. Church Food Bank, Allentown, PA; Lehigh County Conference of Churches, Allentown, PA ; New Bethany Ministries, Bethlehem, PA; Allentown Rescue Mission, Allentown, PA.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hillary's Lead in Double Digits?

Although Barack Obama has conceded he'll lose Pennsylvania tomorrow, he claims it's "going to be close." But Drudge is claiming Hillary Clinton's internals show her with an eleven point lead, and The Boston Globe is now claiming she's within "striking distance of the double-digit win she badly needs to build new momentum for her candidacy."

Coplay's Dems Endorse Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton!

Some of you may be influenced by the endorsements of print media. Others may be persuaded by political leaders. As for me, I like the way Coplay Dems think. This is from their executive board.

The 2008 Presidential election is the most important Presidential election since the 1930's when Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to clean up the mess created by Republican administrations.

We believe our nation can not afford another four years of Republican rule. We have another Republican mess to clean up.

We have two excellent Democratic candidates in Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The race appears headed to roughly a tie.

We, like many of you, have received numerous phone calls from both camps asking who we are supporting this Tuesday.

We suggest when you get these calls asking you who you support, consider saying the following, "I am supporting the Obama - Clinton ticket, or the Clinton - Obama ticket". The caller will then say to you, "Oh, you are undecided." Consider answering the caller this way, "No, I have decided and I want to see both of them on the ticket, and I don't care if they don't get along. They won't be living in the same house in Washington. But, together they will win. If we win we can have positive change for our country."

Please take the time to vote this Tuesday. After the primary and throughout the Summer, talk to your neighbors, and friends. Get them energized to vote in November for a Clinton - Obama ticket or Obama - Clinton ticket.

The Republican dirty tricks machine will be in full force this year. They will, like in 2000, do anything to win up to and including stealing the election. We must fully understand this is about winning the White House to improve our country.

We believe a Clinton - Obama ticket, or Obama - Clinton ticket will win. If you agree, send this email to all of your Democratic friends and Democratic groups. The stakes are too high. Join us to start the movement to unify our party with a ticket consisting of two great Americans - Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Thank you for reading this and have a great weekend.

And, do not forget the Coplay Democratic Club "Spaghetti Dinner" Friday, 4/25/08 from 4-7 PM at the American Club of Coplay pavilion, 300 Cherry Street, Coplay. For tickets, $10. send me an email [Billleiner@aol.com] or call 610 751-2745.

The Executive Board of the Coplay Democratic Club ....

Nate Kromer, Secretary
Belinda White, Treasurer
Rachel Luckenbill, Vice President
Bill Leiner Jr., President

And This Guy Wants to be Our Next Guv?

Lehigh County Exec Don Cunningham, rated by LVRamblings readers as our second most accountable and responsive area leader, has predicted taxes for Lehigh County residents will remain unchanged through 2011. Some critics complain he's just lucky, but that's still a pretty good trait for an elected leader.

Ask Allegheny County exec Dan Onorato, Cunningham's most likely opponent in the next Pennsylvania governor's race. Onorato was actually booed during a recent speech on his home turf. And for good reason. According to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "This year, Mr. Onorato cut 200 jobs from the county payroll to help balance a $727.6 million budget. He also persuaded council members to approve drink and car rental taxes ... ."

A drink tax? Wasn't there a little revolution over something like that just a few years ago? I can't imagine proud Pittsburgh Pirates' fans putting up very long with the indignity of driving to Ohio to get loaded!

Even with his little drink tax and layoffs, Allegheny's Controller predicts Onorato could face a financial crisis by 2012 if he doesn't boost revenues or cut spending.

So do we elect this guy governor or pick the lucky Irishman?

Unmarried Women Earning $12,000 Less Than Unmarried Men

According to a report released by Women’s Voices Women Vote on Friday, unmarried women suffer a huge income gap when compared to unmarried men, married men or married women. Their average household income is almost $12,000 less than that of unmarried men.

Unmarried women live on only $37,264 per year, nearly $6,000 less than unmarried men ($42,843) and nearly $30,000 less than married men ($66,646) earn. Despite these lower earnings, unmarried women spend 37 percent of their household income on basic household costs, more than the other groups.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Like Jesus, HRH DePaul "Forgives" Offensive Blogger

For some reason, HRH DePaul forgives me for reporting her resignation yesterday. Looks like I'm going to heaven after all!

"I will remain above all the disparaging comments that you have attempted to bestow upon me. As a Christian I serve, and I am to forgive. You are a challenge. I have received a great deal of positive which far out shines this blog. I do not recall this comment about “reign,” but it is the furthest from any true meaning of holding my position. My staff is, and will be more of a family then just my employees, and they know I didn’t even care for the word boss. Anyone that speaks up or defends themselves when they feel they are being treated unfairly is doing the right thing. The county never paid a bill, and it was never my intention other then having non-partisan representation. We all know that an appointed attorney, although a very supportive one is beholding to his source of income. Your thought process defies logic. Two things, you are not doing a service but a disservice when you keep or frighten good people from running for office or doing a job. The world in general, and most importantly the world of politics NEED good people desperately. Think before you write or post Bernie. Also, remember you may depend upon others someday also; you put my father down for defending me. You now have a daughter in the service, god bless her and keep her safe, but what if something arose negative with regards to her. I would certainly hope that you would be by her side. One other thing, we do watch our parent’s behaviors, and actions, try to think of that in your travels, and made your daughter proud. I have made a choice to try a new venture in my life. Why don’t you just wish me well Bernie, that would be the decent thing to do."

Deborah DePaul

Northampton County Council Rejects Proposed Tax Rebate

A bad idea was soundly rejected last night during a brief Northampton County Council meeting. By a vote of seven to two, the tax rebate proposed by Lamont McClure and Charles Dertinger went down in flames.

Before the vote, Lamont McClure sternly warned, "We're overtaxing our citizens." He even argued that the county is taking in 80% more money than it needs to run the county. "This is unacceptable." McClure's sole ally, Charles Dertinger, ranted that the previous administration and council "actually did things. We are stuck in the mud."

Dertinger's right. The Glenn Reibman administration chipped away at that cash reserve until the at least forty union employees were let go in mid-February, 2004. Those who remained saw frozen wages and a 63.5% tax increase over just two years. Wayne Grube mentioned this before his vote against a rebate. "It's not sensible," he muttered.

Diane Neiper, who is learning day by day about the declining amounts of money being provided to Human Services, actually sat down with Budget Administrator Doran Hamann, who has served the county for 28 years. After going over those figures, "My fear is we're going to need money just to make our budget."

Ron Angle, who has consistently advocated keeping two months of operating expenses in reserve, kept it very simple. "There is not $8 million just laying around here to make people happy." And Peg Ferraro wanted to know, "Where is the staff going to come from?"

In a column published yesterday, Bill White questions the motives of Lamont McClure and Charles Dertinger. "What you shouldn't do is waste taxpayer money mailing refunds that will average $54 when you know you'll have to turn around and take it away. That only makes sense if you're a politician envisioning a spiffy campaign flier." That's the same conclusion reached in a Morning Call editorial. "This is a ginned-up campaign issue for the 2009 council and executive races, not something to handle county finances responsibly. Council should drop it." My own conclusion was that this is little more than "a fiscally reckless appeal for votes."

Minutes after the vote, McClure and Dertinger were giggling and whispering to each other like schoolchildren, which adds fuel to the fires of those who question their motives. But I believe we may have misjudged them. McClure actually sent me several emails to argue his position, posted a comment and even persuaded The Morning Call to publish an op-ed.

I now believe he's sincere. His rebate suggestion has been rejected, but council will certainly be looking at that unrestricted reserve to help fund some of the upfront cost of the county's badly needed parking deck.

Where's My Beer??

That's what Iron Piglet and future model Maya wanted from her mom and dad at a game earlier this week. Incidentally, she pitched in the ninth. If you don't see the IronPigs tonight, you'll have to wait until next Saturday.

Great Lehigh County Cleanup on Saturday

Lehigh County’s Department of Community and Economic Development has organized the “Great Lehigh County Cleanup” for Saturday, April 19. Fifteen municipalities will pitch in to beautify their downtowns, parks and communities. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will provide garbage bags, safety vests, and gloves.

Lehigh County’s event is part of the Great Pennsylvania Cleanup. Last year, more than 139,480 volunteers in 5,113 PA teams cleaned up roads, parks, schools, waterways, wildlife areas and communities. Volunteers racked up:
• 7.4 million pounds of trash collected
• 372,096 bags of litter removed
• 13,565 miles of roadway cleaned
• 12,934 trees, flowers, and bulbs planted
• 3,238 acres of parkland cleared

Volunteers will be rewarded for their efforts with tee shirts, beverages, and goodie bags donated by area businesses:
 Giant Food Stores, Tilghmann St., Allentown: Five hundred reusable canvas goodie bags
 Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, Just Born, Commerce Bank, Lehigh Valley Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, and Lehigh County Department of Solid Waste and Recycling: Items for goodie bags
 Commerce Bank: $500 towards purchase of tee shirts
 Alvin H. Butz Corporation: $100 towards purchase of tee shirts
 Physical Graffi Tees of Allentown: Design and printing of tee shirts
 Coca-Cola: Cases of soda for volunteers
 Weis Markets, Cedar Crest Blvd: $25 for purchase of water for volunteers

Participating Lehigh County municipalities include:

Alburtis: Camp Fire USA Kids will clean up along Alburtis Road

· Bethlehem: Several parks, the Rt. 378 gateway, the trail on the Monocacy Creek, and various bus shelters will be spruced up by The North by Northwest Neighborhood Initiative, Coalition for Appropriate Transportation (CAT) and other neighborhood groups.

• Catasauqua: Catasauqua Borough Business Revitalization Program, Borough Council (president and mayor are participating), and students from Lehigh County’s Juvenile Probation Dept. will clean the Canal area.

• Coopersburg: Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts #364 will clean Living Memorial Park.

• Coplay: County Commissioner Bill Leiner and the Coplay Town Watch Group will clean up Coplay Parkway and the area around Saylor Cement Kilns.

• Emmaus/Upper Milford: Environmental Advisory Council Between 50 and 75 volunteers from the Emmaus Main Street Program, members of Borough Council and various local boy scout troops will team up.

• Heidelberg Township: Lehigh County Juvenile Probation students will help residents.

• Lower Macungie: Friends of Spring Creek will clean up as part of the ‘Adopt a Highway’ program.

• Lower Milford: More than 30 volunteers, an area Cub Scout troop, and a staffer from State Rep. Karen Beyer’s office will clean up.

• Macungie: Emmaus High School’s Red Cross Club, Commerce Bank staff, Boy Scout Troop #71, residents and local officials and Macungie Borough Business Revitalization Program will volunteer.

• Salisbury Township: Students from Salisbury High School will pitch in.

• Upper Saucon: Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Students will assist residents.

• Whitehall Township: Residents and Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Students will team up.
Saturday also happens to be "Get Rid of Your Crap Day" in Northampton County. Ron Angle and I have rented a semi and will be dumping shit all over Lehigh County on Sunday.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

HRH DePaul Resigns as Norco Voting Registrar

Controversial Northampton County voting registrar Deborah DePaul, who once referred to her tenure as her "reign," has resigned. Her departure is slated to take place two weeks from next Monday. I have no details, but expect you will see them soon in The Express Times.

DePaul is best remembered as the county worker who attempted to stick the county with a $2,470 private attorney bill when she once brought legal windbag Larry Otter to a citizens' advisory panel as a "buffer" to protect her "from the falsehoods and basic lies."
Update: Sarah Cassi, reporting for the Express Times, notes the job will be advertised internally. The Morning Call's Joe Nixon adds that DePaul's decision is voluntary.

Unity in Diversity Workshop on Monday at Moravian

Lehigh Valley Citizens for Unity in Diversity, a group created to strengthen and unite people of color, will conduct its second workshop on Monday, election eve, at Moravian College. The primary goal of the group is to be a catalyst of empowerment and support to people of color and the broader community.

Date: April 21, from 6 PM to 9:30 PM

Where: Moravian College, Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Building, Room 102. Moravian College is located at 1200 Main Street, Bethlehem Pa. 18018.

At its first workshop last month in Lehigh County, founder Ngozi Bell - a class act - explained her focus. "We are just a group of people who care. There is beauty in the differences that we bring to the table."

These are beautiful people. I'm a crusty old fart who felt very much out of place when I walked into the first workshop, but the people there were so nice that even I was smiling in no time. I would highly recommend it. There's lots of free food, too!

Forum Coordinator, Ngozi Bell believes that the current political climate is an ideal time for this type of community forum to take place, stating that, “our diversity is a source of strength that should be leveraged and used to foster unity.“ Bell also happens to be a volunteer representative of the Lehigh Valley Obama offices, although the panel will be a mixed group that supports other candidates as well.

For more information, contact Founder, Ngozi Bell, by emailing TheUnityInDiversityGroup@gmail.com.

Dueling Dems: Who Won Last Night?

Unlike most of the civilized world, I have no cable television. The truth is I can't really afford it. But I pretend I'm too intellectual for such frivolities.

"Hey Bernie, did you watch American Idol last night?"

"No, I read."


Last night, that lack of cable made it impossible for me to watch the "debate" between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But I still was able to listen to the show on KYW Newsradio and follow Scott Kraus' live blogging over at Pennsylvania Avenue. .

Biggest Surprise? I expected Clinton to be on the offensive, but she was remarkably restrained. There was none of that shrillness I've noticed in prior speeches. Obama was actually the snarkier of the two, took a few unnecessary shots and seemed unprepared for some questions. Instead of sounding hopeful, he sounded petulant. "I can take a punch. I’ve taken several from Senator Clinton.” They don't call her Rocky for nothing. After the debate, she put on some sweats and started running Philly's streets, and she was packing, too.

Not those damn cookies again! In 1992, Hillary claimed she wasn't the sort of person content to stay at home and bake cookies, and Obama just had to bring it up. "People attacked her for being elitist. I remember watching that on TV and saying, well, that's not who she is. That's not what she believes. That's not what she meant." I'm so pleased that Obama decided against making those cookies an issue. Kinda' makes me hopeful.

But she does make one mean cookie. Here's her recipe for chocolate chip. It's all in the oatmeal.

Moderators Blasted for Making Debate Interesting. Both DailyKos and Pennsylvania Avenue were exasperated by the moderators. "We want issues." The Boston Globe huffs it was a "tawdry affair." There were a hell of a lot of questions about candidate gaffes, but guess what? Those questions matter to voters. David Brooks writes, "The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that’s their own fault."

New York Times Blames Pennsylvania! We're mostly trailer park trash, I guess. "Not that it isn’t a lovely place. (Full of people who despite their economic woes are in excellent moods all the time.) But the candidates’ pollsters always warn candidates that the entire state — and possibly the presidency — hinges on a couple of exurban neighborhoods full of alienated outdoorsmen." Hey, that's what I said last week, and everyone said I was nuts. Well, now it's in The New York Times, baby.

Who was the biggest liar? Fact Checker buries Obama. During the debate, he denied supporting a handgun ban as an Illinois legislator, blaming some staffer for incorrectly filling out some questionnaire. But Obama's handwriting is all over it. Ah ha! But hold on before giving that liar award to Obama. Hillary actually admitted she's told whoppers on a "few occasions," so doesn't that make her the biggest liar? But if she admits she's a liar, isn't she really being honest? This is deep.

You could cut that tension with a knife, but don't tell Scissorhands Severson. Despite claims to the contrary, Clinton and Obama clearly detest each other. Clinton finally conceded that Obama could win the general election, but both refused to pledge to accept the other as a running mate.

Debate winners? Philly hotels - average rate is $239 - and John McCain. Obama sounded flat to me.