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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Easton Mayor Sal Panto: "No One is Trying to Hide Things From the Public"

On Monday, I published an email that's been widely circulating over the past several weeks, reporting that LA's Hoover Crips street gang has invaded Easton. I was unaware that Neighbors of Easton blogger Noel Jones had circulated her own email warning about gang activity. Amazingly, Easton's coppers told her to mind her own business. "[T]his type of misinformation hinders our law enforcement efforts dramatically because it causes paranoia within the residents."

Translation - telling the truth is bad for business.

I was surprised to learn That Easton Mayor Sal Panto had previously warned Jones about the email I published. "The [email] circulating from the Courthouse was scaring people."

Translation - telling the truth is bad for business.

We now know, thanks to Express Times reporter Michael Buck, that the email is generally accurate. Mayor Panto also clarifies his objections in a comment posted at Noel's blog.

"First and foremost no one is trying to hide things from the public. The email that Bernie O'Hare placed here was the email I referred to, saying it was alarmist. It was meant to encourage her fellow employees to be conscious of the activity if and when they left the juvenile center after hours. It went beyond that in that it did name a very fine business in the West Ward, one of the pioneers so to speak who built their business and rehabbed properties when no one was moving to the West Ward. It was untrue and it hurt their business to be associated with this gang."

Basically, Hizzoner is saying the email is bad for a specific business, which I redacted in my own post. He then goes on to try and contradict what the Easton police themselves confirm in the story written by Express Times reporter Michael Buck.

Mayor Panto, unlike his Allentown counterpart, has always been up front about Shadtown's crime problem. He's dealt with it honestly and proactively. His willingness to participate in blog discussions is refreshing. But it's a mistake to suppress information warning about a new gang in town. It led to an ET story that provides a little more perspective. It resulted in the mayor's own clarifying comment. Third, and most importantly, it informed the public.

Something wrong with that?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn those pesky county employees for telling about what they actually see in Easton.

Things are not getting better under Sal Panto. They are getting worse.

We've moved past Sal's honeymoon and into his "I've done a great job" phase, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

Now that the war on drugs is being exposed as a folly, the law enforcement industry is looking to revive budgets and power by hyping a war on gangs. Duh... the gangs are here because there is $$$ in drugs.

Anonymous said...

Sal should drive up and down Ferry St. late at night in his Smart car. That would scare off the Crips.

Anonymous said...

Keep your government hands off my local gangs!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sal has been a good mayor in Easton, which has more problems than the other LV cities, even A-town. He has not sugar-coated finances, he has strived to cut where he can while adding to the police force and fire department. Easton is both safer and cleaner than it was before he assumed the helm. He is not doing this as some stepping stone to some other elected office, but bc he loves the city. But as Sal himself knows, I think information like that gang email should be disseminated.

Dave said...

This is typical of local government. They ask for citizen input and help and then when you try to assist the police you are told to shut up and let them do their job. Do they really think the populace don't know what's happening in their neighborhoods? Sal was livid when the GAngels showed up in the West Ward! Why? Because it points to the fact that the powers that be can't protect their own citizens and in some cases would rather look the other way depending on what area of the city the problem is in! You can't have it both ways. Tell the people the truth and maybe they can truly be advocates for justice and help you work the problem. Make any sense..Sal?

Anonymous said...

Oh oh, I smell another pheromone rich Ohare mancrush. Christ Ohare; Stoffa, Dent, Angle now Sal Panto and who knows how many more in the closet. You need an intervention or vaseline.

Bernie O'Hare said...

And you need a name. Commenting here is a privilege.

Donald said...

I think Mayor Panto has done a good job. Bernie you are right about Easton's problems. It is the smallest, by far of the 3 cities, it has no where to grow, it has almost no open space in which to build on, between the county and Lafayette College the amount of taxable land is shrinking yearly.
-- I grew up in the West Ward and it is sad to see how is it is going down hill. I spend quality time in downtown and feel completely safe.
Hopefully they will be willing and able to get their hands around this problem

noel jones said...

The West Ward is not going downhill--it already went downhill, and now a dedicated group of residents comprised of "newcomers" and old-timers are volunteering their time and professional experience to revitalize the neighborhood, together with the help of organizations like the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership. The neighborhood is slowly and steadily getting better.

We have newly planted shade trees all over the neighborhood, two new community gardens (built by residents with the help of WWNP), new sidewalks, trees and street lamps going into Northampton on two different blocks, an urban ecology program doing all kinds of cool things with residents and teens, and a neighborhood blog as a central source of news and event announcements that relate to the neighborhood.

Crime-reduction, street cleaning and code enforcement are ongoing pursuits--code enforcement being the most frustrating, but we're working on it. Street cleaning is something that we're pursuing with the City, the Mayor is on board, and they are basically waiting for funding for a new street sweeper. As for crime, what has improved a bit is the rapport between the EPD and residents. That may seem surprising, considering the current issue around treating emerging gang info on a "need-to-know" basis and resisting resident self-education, but considering that just a few years ago, resident trust of the EPD was so low that most residents wouldn't even bother to call, things have improved greatly. I am in regular communication with the EPD and have been working hard to continue to improve resident/EPD communication and cooperation. Lt. Remaley gave me a little push-back on this issue, but most of my communications with him and Chief Palmer have been very positive, and residents are now invited to the monthly Safety Committee Meeting, which previously only engaged with "community leaders."

I have heard from many residents who used to live in the West Ward who have given up on the neighborhood, and all I can say is, please come back. Things are getting better--it might be at a frustrating snail's pace, but almost everyone I talk to agrees that things are better than a few years ago, so it is no longer sliding downhill. Come check out all the cool stuff happening now and get involved if you can. We need you!

Larry Kisslinger said...

Sal is "my kind of LOCAL guy" doing the best he can for "HIS" community, same as his parents before him! Carpetbaggers and critics can do no better, no matter what they say or do. Sal is as transparent as you can get in a public official! Detractors need to support dedicated Easton Mayor and staff! I felt exactly same with "LOCAL" Mayor Phil Mitman! Firehouse pix & visits are non-issues while crime in Easton needs more attention.

The Unredistributor said...

I think Sal should do the whole world a favor and hide Easton from the public.