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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, October 23, 2009

John Callahan Sure Likes to Spend Your Money

Congressman John Callahan.

Do you like the way that sounds? But what does it mean? Callahan has so far ducked taking a position on health care, our most pressing national issue. I have no idea where he stands on Speaker Pelosi's cap-and-trade energy bill, which will cost about 60,000 jobs here in Pennsylvania. What's his position on important foreign policy questions, like the recent proposal to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan?

Beats me.

Callahan plays it safe, hiding in his throne room with his finger in the air, trying to tell which way the wind is blowing. In contrast, LV Congressman Charlie Dent has reached out to his community. This year alone, he's conducted 17 town halls all over the Lehigh Valley. This is in addition to numerous Q&A sessions with senior center residents.

Dent leads from the front while Callahan is still in the rear, stocking up on supplies that include $1,000 contributions from developers like Nolan Perin, who is still looking for public money to fund his Wind Gap road to nowhere.

So tell what type of Congressman John Callahan would be, we need to look at his record as Bethlehem Mayor. That record shows he likes to spend taxpayers' money. Local news media has reported an audit showing a $2.7 million deficit in Bethlehem’s 2008 Budget. Even the Democrat Chairman of Bethlehem City Council’s Finance Committee said that Callahan’s overspending the budget was “unacceptable.” Maybe Callahan should think twice about running for two offices at the same time.

Did Mayor Callahan consider for a moment that this nearly $3 million deficit was the result of overspending? No. His Administration instead blamed the deficit on their inability to continue his longstanding practice of raiding other city funds (like the Water Authority) to cover holes in the City’s General Fund Budget. In other words, Callahan uses non-recurring revenue to pay for recurring expenditures.

Mayor Callahan wants voters to believe that things are looking better for Bethlehem’s finances in the coming year. In fact, Bethlehem will receive millions, just for hosting a casino. So can city residents expect the tax relief they were promised in exchange for opening their community to gambling? No.

“Mayor Callahan has built up such a mountain of debt that it is highly unlikely he’ll be able to offer property tax relief at a time when people could certainly use it,” said Shawn Millan, Dent’s campaign manager.

Instead of property tax relief, Callahan has a better idea - a $1.5 million skateboarding park. As a councilman, he opposed that idea, bit I think what sold him is the idea of putting a few slots there and in the dog park.

“These are the same misguided priorities and out-of-control spending that Mayor Callahan supported by saying he backed the failed Stimulus Bill. We’re in the middle of tough economic times, but you would never know it from the way the Mayor spends taxpayers’ money,” Congressman Charlie Dent said.

As Mayor of Bethlehem John Callahan has raised property taxes, imposed a $52 municipal services tax for people working in Bethlehem, fought to increase the sales tax, ran up a $2.7 million budget deficit, sank the City’s Water Authority with debt and thinks that $1.5 million of taxpayer money for a skate park is prudent spending as opposed to giving the people of Bethlehem tax relief.

Congressman Dent has a different view. “This is the record that Washington Democrats think qualifies John Callahan to serve in Congress. If you want to know what kind of Congressman Callahan would be, here’s your answer: he’ll be the sort of Congressman that Speaker Nancy Pelosi just gave $4,000 to elect.”

Blogger's Note: Ken Petrini has the text of the Dent campaign's news release here.


Anonymous said...

Hey ohare was that a paid political announcement or did you just do it for free?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Instead of attacking my integrity, why not respond to some of the claims being made by Congressman Dent and Shawn Millan? I realize that these personal attacks are usually what people do when they have no argument on the merits, but I'm sure you could come up with something.

I happen to like Mayor Callahan. I think it is important that he continue serving the good citizens of Bethlehem without worrying about all the distractions of a congressional race.

Anonymous said...

Dent campaigns 24/7, year round. That's what members of Congress do. Like we need more proclamations (merchant marines, take heart). What you are upset about is that Callahan won't campaign on your schedule. How about getting next month's election out of the way before we start working on Dent's seat?

Anonymous said...

What integrity? You don't have any and never did. Ethics did you mean? No there also.

Anonymous said...

"Hey ohare was that a paid political announcement or did you just do it for free?"

he's right Burn. you've always had a slant, or point of view to your writing, and that's ok. you were up-front about it, and it was good reading. this one crosses the line, though, and reads like a Dent campaign ad.

Anonymous said...

Lies and misinformation.

The city did not get 2 million in sewer connection fees in 2008 that were estimated as revenue.

The city did not blame "their inability to continue his longstanding practice of raiding other city funds (like the Water Authority) to cover holes in the City’s General Fund Budge". That is just a lie!

O'Hare usually loves to cite his sources, but fails to link to a the local news media reports. Why? Because they prove Dent is un-truthful.
Here is a link though.

The casino host fee is not designed to lower property taxes. It is for the city to handle the impact of a casino in its city.

The city has not raised property taxes in at least three years.

I do not know of a municipality that has not created the the Municipal Services Tax, so saddling that on Callahan is just unfair and ignorant.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:59,

When I saw you comment start off by calling me a liar, I was concerned. Then I looked at your link, which completely supports my claims. Thanks.

You have no idea how long I spent looking for that story last night. I remembered reading it, but could not find it. I have already updated my post to insert it. I like to back up my claims, and this does it well.

The very first sentence? "The city's $65 million budget last year left it with a $2.7 million deficit, according to an audit detailed Tuesday." Gee, that's exactly what I say.

The article also quotes Jay Leeson, who chairs the city's finance committee, as saying, "Overspending the budget by $2.7 million is unacceptable." Once agin, that's exactly what I say.

It goes on to point out that non-recurring sewer hook up fees were used to balance recurring fees. Geee, that's exactly what this post says.

And we all know that the big argument in favor of gambling revenue was that it is supposed to reduce our property tax revenue. In Las Vegas, where gambling works, there are no property taxes. I think it's fair to criticize a city hosting a casino for not using that money to limit or reduce taxes.

Hey, if you want to put someone in Congress who believes in deficit spending, vote for him. I'd rather convince Callahan to stop that practice first. He's a good man who just needs a little more seasoning. He also needs to learn that real leaders do it from the front.

Thanks again for the link.

Anonymous said...

It is a spin job. You can spin it any way you want it. Yes, the city audit showed a 2.7 million deficit, but 2 million that was counted on did not come in.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yep. Independent outside auditors are always doing spin jobs. The chair of the finance comittee, who called it "unacceptable," must be spinning, too.

Jim said...

Shame bernie

Anonymous said...

Dent: career politican and former TV salesman. We can do better.

Anonymous said...

Did Millan write this piece too?

Anonymous said...

Hey, if everything is so hunky-dory in Bethlehem -- why doesn't Callahan put a $2 million dollars out of the host fee into cutting city property taxes?

Skate park -- yes. Tax Relief -- no?

People didn't agree to host a casino in the city just so to make people from Las Vegas rich.

Anonymous said...

"The casino host fee is not designed to lower property taxes. It is for the city to handle the impact of a casino in its city."

I'm sorry this is stupid. It's not even logical.

So you host a casino just to pay for the increased police costs and social problems a casino and a gambling-based economy cause.

Why host the casino in the first place.

This is so offbase it boggles. It just boggles.

Anonymous said...

"Dent: career politican and former TV salesman. We can do better."

Callahan: career politician and former pharmaceutical sales rep for a giant bad-guy drug company. Hmm. I wonder where Mr. "Here's a Vacation on us, Doc, now go push Exlaxia to your patients," stands on health care.

cricket. cricket. cricket.

Get over your "Calla-crush" already. Charlie Dent is a decent guy, a good legislator and a savy politician.

Next to Charlie Dent, Mayor Callahan is like the dog who can't figure out how to get the blanket off his head.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Jim, The only time you comment is when I write about Dent! I'll make you an offer,. Write a piece telling me what is wrong with him and I'll post it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Did Millan write this piece too?"

Millan did send me a news release, which I reviewed and put into my own words. The actual news release sent by Millan is on ken Petrini's blog, to which I link.

I am happy top post news releases from just about anyone. i was getting a few too many from jake Towne, which were really just spelling out his positions, and I asked him to wait until after the election, but I considered this one more timely bc it does deal w/ budgetary matters locally.

I am always willing to post news releases, but reserve the right to say how I feel about them. When the NRCC tagged Callahan for saying a naughty word, I took them to task. I've posted bennett's news releases when she was running, until they stopped sending them to me.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, Callahan uses non-recurring revenue to pay for recurring expenditures."

True...a trick learned from former mayors such as Cunningham.

For years, Bethlehem mayors relied upon this trick...don't forget cash cows like BSC, the former landfill and even the golf course. This is not governing, it's "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Anonymous said...

Callahan is impressionable but Dent rubs you the right way. It comes down to values. Whose do you like better? Sure, Dent cautiously takes care of his constituents but I don’t think now is the time when WE can afford a free spending democrat looking to make an impression. Hey, it could help us in the short term but where are we going to be in the long run? Dead?

Anonymous said...

Dent is against affordable healthcare. His record is clear.

Anonymous said...

Don't fool yourself, ohare would do both these guys.

Rising Sun said...

Bernie, I'm disappointed. First off, you know as well as anyone that Leeson's political stature and relationship to the party right now is weak. So he wasn't shooting for bear, was he? Second off, you of all people know how municipalities and counties finance themselves, and how bond rates go up and down versus consistent small peaks and valleys in a municipalities finances. You know better than anyone I know about that, so I'm disappointed. By the surplus this year (so far!), John is now carrying a positive balance through nearly 6 years in office, an amazing achievement while creating thousands of jobs. Finally, I'm disappointed because you printed Shawn's blatant lie about about property taxes. Act 72 dictated that all money that went to SCHOOL DISTRICTS, not municipalities, was designated for property tax relief, municipal funds are for fighting the costs of hosting a casino.

Let me make it clear, I don't know if Charlie Dent is a decent man, I presume he is, but his record is that of a Republican Congressman this term, plain and simple. He's voted no on every major initiative. I fully recognize his views, and more power to him for them, but I disagree strongly with his representation. I will take Callahan's record, in full, over Dent's.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rising Sun,

Give it to me. I appreciate your comments. Actually, there are many people more knowledgable than I am about local government. One of these persons is Jay Leeson, who actually is one of the authors of the NC Home Rule Charter. I know he and the mayor do not see eye to eye, but his concern is reason enough to disturb me.

As far as gambling income is conserned, believe me when I tell you it is comlicated. Some funds go for impact, some funds are unrestricted, etc. But the primary argument for gambling was property tax reduction. I'll concede that Callahan needs time, but Bethlehem should strive to be a community with no taxes at all, as is the case in Las Vegas. Shawn Millan's statement is no bltant lie and is actually fairly factual. That's what makes him so deadly.

I am a Democrat and appreciate now that Dent voted against the stimulus (which I supported) and cap-and-trade, which I opposed. i appreciate the time he has taken to investigate health care reform and the views he's shared. i appreciate his foreign policy incites. Callahan, on thwe other hand, is hiding. if he is running bc his stance on the issues is different, then he should be expressing those differences and leading from the front, as you are doing.

Anonymous said...

Give it to him hard, Rising Sun!

Anonymous said...

The truthis the Bethlehem has not had a tax increase in 3 years because of Callahan's leadership. He forced developers in Bethlehem Township to pay a $5 million sewer fee to use Bethlehem's plant. We all know the cabinet was bare when he took over and has done agreat job moving the city forward. He has been honest in saying he has been working to create one time revenues to bridge to Casino monies. A project lets remember that he worked very hard for and showed great leadership on. It has been great for the region and for Bethelehem. Because of the way the casino fees are distributed Bethlehem has recieved only 4 months of revenue so far. Bernie, do you seriously want him to elliminate taxes based on 4 months revenue. That even a stretch for your own one sided bias. He has once again shown leadership and laid out a very responsible 5 year plan which will deal with the impacts, grow the cities cash reserves, increase the city's bond rating and ultimately lower city property taxes but he has properly not put the cart before the horse or made decisions for political expediancy the next election but rather will set the city up financially for generations to come. That is leadership and that is what I want for my congressman!

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that a fair amount of the Bethlehem story was due to the vision of County Executive Reibman. While Ohare, Angle and others continued to attack and malign him, he perservered.

Almost single-handedly he made the difference to be a major part of the Bethelehm story.

Anonymous said...

Reibman left a stain that will never be completely removed.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry any stain he left will be completely covered by the massive skidmark that is the Stoffa administration.

Anonymous said...

fairly factual

I like that. Any other candidate with "fairly" factual press releases would have the unfairly parts pointed out by O'Hare. Not the case with Dent.

Callahan is hiding? It's October. What politician in their right mind would give the incumbent material so early? Dent is the one who is on the defensive. It'll be nice to rid ourselves of the remaining Bush holdout.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What politician in their right mind would give the incumbent material so early?"

One who is running on the issues because he wants to make the LV and this country a better place.

Anonymous said...

This is national politics, not some county fiefdom.