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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What's wrong with this picture?

What see all the Democratic candidates for Allentown City Council. You also see the Democratic candidate for mayor. So far, so good. But who is that tall, smiling dude in the rear? That's Walter Felton,Democratic candidate for District Judge.

Judges, magistrates and candidates for those offices are governed by different rules than apply to ordinary mortals like you and me. That's why they get to wear black dresses.

The Judicial Conduct Board of Pa has standards governing their behavior. One of these rules bans them from participating in partisan political activity.

Sure, during the year in which they run for office, they are allowed to attend political gatherings to speak about themselves. They can even contribute to their party, but that's pretty much it. No contributions to other candidates. No endorsements.

Yesterday, I told you that magisterial candidate Walter Felton, a very nice guy, has 13 campaign signs in his yard, not counting his own, endorsing partisan candidates for office. His personal Facebook page continues this theme of partisan political activity. Its public portion lists Walter as a "fan" of Northampton County Controller Steve Barron and Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan.

Now, the above picture is included in an email blast that went out from the Pawlowski campaign yesterday, entitled "Two weeks to Go." Mayor Edwin states "Walter Felton is running for District Judge and he needs your vote."

There's nothing improper about Pawlowski asking his supporters to support a judicial candidate. But there's plenty wrong with Felton's decision to pose with other candidates, which he had to know would be used for partisan political purposes. It is effectively an endorsement, and that's out of line because it compromises Felton's impartiality.


Anonymous said...

For years the Northampton County Democratic Committee sent out flyers with the "Democratic Team", that included Common Pleas judge candidates.

No laws were broken only your feelings.

Anonymous said...

Why is the Mayor smiling, Crime is up,streets are dirty,city is in a financial mess and middle class taxpayers are leaving the city.

Anonymous said...

To Hell with all of them.I wouldn't pose with the likes of Ed under any circumstance or for any reason.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Did this Felton guy run for Lehigh County Sheriff? Wasn't he a Republican then?

Maybe he is just trying to convince people he is a Democrat.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"For years the Northampton County Democratic Committee sent out flyers with the "Democratic Team", that included Common Pleas judge candidates"

Nothing is wrong w/ the Dem committee edorsing judicial candidates or w/ anyone else endorsing judicial candidates. What is wrong is when a judicial candidate endorses political candidates, and that's what Walter's picture does. He's way off base here. I can't think of a singlt instance in which a judicial candidate hs ever done that.

Anonymous said...

If Felton doesn't respect the election laws before he becomes D.J., how will he ever after? A district justice has such power.

Anonymous said...

Manescu has attended county gop events, one of which Pam Varkony even blogged about. Is Walt wrong? Sure, but so was Ron.

Anonymous said...


here is pam's account. ron attended the count gop convention where the topic was getting republicans elected and setting the stage for future republican wins.

it goes both ways. I hope you take ron to task for this. if anything, you have certainly uncovered systemic behavior that needs to be curtailed.

Anonymous said...

So both these jd candidates violate the law. Hope the winner is as forgiving of citizen errors that come before their court!
Why don't you contact Harrisburg about this issue to find out if it really is a violation of campaign ethics.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:47, There is nothing wrong or improper about a judicial candidate attending a political gathering in the year he is running. It would only be wrong if he endorsed candidates for office.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anone 9:57, A complaint can be made to the Judicial Conduct Board.

Anonymous said...

he attended a rally for republicans. democrats can reasonably wonder if they will get a fair hearing with Ron, just as republicans can reasonably be concerned if they will receive a fair hearing with walt.

I don't see a bit of difference between placing lawn signs for democrats and attending a rally for republicans.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Th Judical Conduct Board thinks there's a difference because it is specific candidates being endorsed.

Chris Casey said...

Don't want to go off topic, but I am curious as to who they are replacing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's an open seat held by a magistrate elevated to judge.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the pressure here, Bernie. It's been several days and Felton's not flinching. With each passing moment he refuses to address the charges, he demonstrates his lack of fitness for the office. I actually liked the guy three days ago. Law-breakers should not be judges.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:47 and 9:57,

Please take the time to read the judicial code. Link here: http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/207/chapter33/chap33toc.html

I read Varkony’s blog and am trying to figure out what violation occurred. Attending a political event is permissible as is identifying yourself as a member of a political party.

The judicial code states “A candidate may…attend political gatherings, speak to such gatherings on their own behalf when they are a candidate… or … identify themselves as a member of a political party.”

Varkony’s blog says “…Manescu was well received by the crowd, especially when he spoke about his experience and qualifications, and how hard he and his team are working.…”

Varkony’s blog says "Ron Manescu received a ringing endorsement and stirring introduction from Congressman Charlie Dent..." As Bernie has stated, it is not a problem to RECEIVE an endorsement - Judge candidates always promote their endorsements (i.e. “Lisa Boscola endorses Barbara Hollenbach”). It is however a problem to for the judicial candidate to endorse another political candidate.

So as I see it, nothing in that blog entry shows any evidence of judicial misconduct. In fact, it appears Ron Manescu’s appearance as reported by Pam Varkony exemplifies a judge candidate precisely following the rules.

Anonymous said...

he attended a partisan political rally. his presense alone was to satisfy a partisan agenda.

I am smelling a double-standard. Is it b/c Ron is a Republican that he receives no scrutiny on the matter or is it b/c the audience of this blog is so anti-Democrat in Allentown that Walt get's scrutiny. Both guys are wrong. If Ron had attended a press conference where Charlie Dent endorsed him, that is different from Ron attending an event where another candidate hauls off and gives a red-meat speech the gets the crowd riled up. I'm sorry, this is not where I expect somebody who wants to be a mini-judge to be. It makes him look like a partisan.

Walt and Ron are both wrong.

Anonymous said...

Try to keep up 11:54. It's legal to receive, but illegal to bestow political endorsements.

Anonymous said...

There is no double standard here. There is only what is permitted vs. what is forbidden under the Judicial Code.

That being said I am not sure that Mr. Felton appearing in a photograph with other Democrat candidates constitutes an endorsement of those candidates - it would depend on what Mr. Felton knew about how the photo was to be used.

However displaying Mr. Pawlowski's sign in his yard is a clear endorsement of Hiz honour and is not permitted under the Judicial Code.

Anonymous said...

The bigger issue is this:

Walter Felton was among the first to take advantage of the big pension deal that is bankrupting Allentown, taking a pension that was almost 90% OF HIS PAY WHILE ON THE FORCE. Walt received his inflated pension after only 21 years of service.

Why reward someone (with a magistrate position) who is helping to bankrupt the city?

Anonymous said...

Actually if you check past Northampton County Democratic mailers you will find different office seekers as well as a judge candidate on the same mailer.

It has been done for years. Mr. Ohare is stretching to fit his own agenda.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I cannot recall a single instance in which a judicial candidate allowed himself to be used to promote the campaigns of other candidates. There is nothing improper about Dems endorsing a Democratic candidate for judge. But it is imroper for a judicial candidate to pose with other candidates for office, knowing it will be used politically. It implies an endorsement.

Anonymous said...

I thought the other guy was Elvis???

Anonymous said...

The King and his Court (jesters)


Palowski, INC.

So much for checks and balances

Vote GOP

The Village Idoti said...


I can't remember his name. Who is the gentleman on the right, in the front row?

Thanks, ~~Alex

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's Ray O'Connell.

The Village Idoti said...

Captain Chaos here! Elvis has just left the building.

Phillies all the way!

And throw Da' Player the ball!

Peace out!

Anonymous said...

I see two black guys. I thought you said Tony was the first black guy elected in Allentown. Who's the little smiling guy down front? Why that's Julio Guridy. And he was elected long before Tony.

Just because he's of Dominican origins doesn't make him not black, does it?

Just curious.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've never really paid that much attention to it, and would go along w/ whatever Guridy says. Phillips is referred to in Valley 610 as A-town's first black elected official, but I'm not going to get into debates about it.

Anonymous said...

Are you a racist ohare?