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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Norco Council Continues to Ponder Campaign Finance Reform

Pennsylvania is one of only twelve states with no limits on campaign dough for pols. So Politico Mike Fleck can brazenly defend a $1,500 campaign contribution from the city's own financial advisor, Concord Public Finance. "If you disagree with that reform the system because 90% of the pols. in the Valley do that."

In Northampton County, part-time public defenders and other patronage employees were regularly assessed $1,000 per year under former county executive Glenn Reibman. Many major campaign contributors just happened to have county contracts. This culture of corruption, in which one hand washes the other, hurts those financially unable to play the game. Locally, developers and big businesses end up making the real decisions, while local voters are ignored. Ridiculous "riverwalks" or "Renaissance squares" are proposed, and the public often ends up footing part of the bill. Taxes go up and wages are frozen.

County executive John Stoffa is despised by wheelers and dealers who attempted to bankroll his campaign and the hacks looking for a "do nothing job." But that's why he was elected. Hopefully, he will decide to seek re-election because there's still plenty of weeds and some sit on Northampton County Council.

Since February, Northampton County Council has been considering campaign finance reform. Tonight, it will consider an ordinance introduced by Council members John Cusick and Rev. Mike Dowd, based on a similar measure vetoed in Pittsburgh.

I doubt there are five votes for campaign finance reform in Northampton County. That should scare the hell out of voters.


Anonymous said...

Reibman employees assessed $1000 each. Where is your evidence? Provide names and dates or you are a lying hypocrite.
This is what you demand of others. Be consistent. Or be a hypocrite.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The evidence ia (1) Reibman's own campaign finance reports (2) the comments of county employees to whom I spoke over the years.

If you need to know the names and dates, just look at the reports. I do know the names because some of them surprised me. A few of them were Rs like Dwight Danser. He was not there bc they thought Reibman was a great exec.

They paid for their jobs. The same is true of the part-time county solicitors. Backenstoe and Spadoni and all the others were regularly assessed. This is common knowledge, readily admitted by everyone. Don't act so shocked.

The sheriff wrote one or two checks every year. Ask him sometime how he felt about that.
No matter how much he tried to professionalize the department, no one could take him seriously when his job was the result of campaign checks.

The same is true of Dan Polanski, Dan Spengler, Jack Spirk, Davey Gawlick, and many others.

I won't list them all. The names I've given are just some of them.

It was pay to play all the way.

Hawbecker no longer has to write checks. Neither do part-time solicitors or part-time PDs or cabinet members.

Tom Foolery said...


it might be a good idea but there are so many ways to get around the law that it really won't have teeth.From what i have read much of it would be unconstitutional if challenged.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Actually, Philly's campaign finance ordinbance survived a constitutional challenge. I don't believe the court was asked about the First Amendment, but those would liely survives, as they have in 36 other states.

But I'll agree that we need to move slowly. I'd prefer council to take a baby step approach. Instead of starting out with an ordinance that makes major changes (which are neeeded), I'd prefer to see baby steps followed by evaluation.

I'd start with online disclosure of campaign finance reports, which requires nothing from candidates.

After that, I'd consider an outright ban on contributions to county candidates by anyone seeking a job w/ the county.

A little bit at a time.

Tom Foolery said...

Sounds reasonable. However I thought I'd heard a proposal to not allow County employees to donate to campaigns. Civil service even allows that. I have a hard time believing that could be constitutional. Either way, it certainly would be easy to dance around it..

Bernie O'Hare said...

It would be easy to dance around, but it is legal. A similar bar exists in other jurisdictions. In NC, no one who works for the court - even DR workers - may be directly involved in a campaign.

Anonymous said...

Your attack on Mr. Reibman is pure Bull. County employees who you spoke to, people regularly assessed and even Republiucans. That is evidence? I can do all of that and apply it to Stoffa. Mr. O'Hare you are a hypocrite. I will be posting the contributers to Mr. Stoffa, you will find they are his appointments. Mr. Bradt, a former GOP chair gave thousands to Mr. Stoffa in the name of good government? Not everyone buys your cherrypicked history lesson.
Your attacks are spurious and circumstanial at best. The same can be applied to every Mayor and County Executive including Mr. Stoffa.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Game on, bippy!

What county job did Bradt get? Oh that's right - none. How much did Connie Falk Sutton give Stoffa? Or the sheriff? Or the PDs? Or anyone?


Thanks to hacks like you, I posted Stoffa's campaign finance on line months ago. He hasn't picked up a penny since he's been in office.

If you wanted to call Stoffa slow or indecisive, someone might be into it. But challenging his integrity just makes you look like an idiot.

And Reibman? You asked for names and I gave them. You asaked for dates and they were his entire time in office. Two people went to Club Fed during Reibman's time.

Anonymous said...

And the story on Dwight Danser is?

Anonymous said...

Which two were empolyees of Reibman at the time of their uincarceration? That is what you suggested.

Bernie O'Hare said...

With respect to Danser, the facts are as I stated them. He's a Republican PD who contributed to Reibman. If he did not, he'd be out of a job. Talk to him. Talk to any of them.

Lawyers would get card in the mail inviting them to a Reibman pool party, and the amount wanted from them was already checked off.

One of the two people who went to jail, Michael Solomon, was intially a county employee. The other was a broker who dealt on behalf of a county contractor.