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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lehigh County Election Analysis: Why GOP Won

I was walking down the street, minding my own business, when a Lehigh County election analysis suddenly fell from the sky and hit me on the head. The raw data, which I've attempted to load as a spreadsheet, is quite informative. It lists election results both county wide and then district-by-district.

* In November's election, Republican turnout was 27.7%, nearly 10% higher than the 18.3% figure reported for Democrats. In fact, Republican turnout was higher in each of the five Districts. It was highest in District One (31.0%), where Democrat Jeanne McNeill waged a last-minute negative campaign against Tom Creighton. That may have backfired. It was lowest in District Four (25.0%). where Dan McCarthy won an easy vicory over Mike Welsh.

* Without Allentown's vote, Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham would have lost to political newcomer Scott Ott.

* Every Republican County Commissioner candidate received more votes than there were Republicans who voted in their districts. Every Democrat County Commissioner candidate received fewer votes than there were Democrats. At the same time, Democratic County Executive Cunningham received close to or slightly more votes than there were Democrats who voted in each of the 5 districts. This means Democrats were either splitting their ticket and/or were simply unfamiliar with individual County Commissioner candidates.

* The total number of voters this year was 44,474 (19.9% turnout) vs. 57,623 (28.6% turnout) in 2005.

* The breakdown for 2009 and 2005 is as follows:

R = 21,321 for 27.7% turnout
D = 20,547 for 18.3% turnout
I = 2,606 for 7.6% turnout

R = 26,613 for 33.2% turnout
D = 27,081 for 30.2% turnout
I = 3,929 for 12.6% turnout

* In 2009, the under vote for County Commissioner was 821 (40,491 total votes cast for County Commissioner candidates vs. 41,312 total votes cast for County Executive candidates). This compares to an under vote of 17,749 in 2005.

* The under vote for the Democrat County Commissioner candidates was 3,402 (17,692 total votes cast for Democrat County Commissioner candidates vs. 21,094 total votes cast for Democrat County Executive candidate).

* The Republican County Commissioner candidates had actually had an over vote of 2,581 (22,799 total votes cast for Republican County Commissioner candidates vs. 20,218 total votes cast for Republican County Executive candidate).

* The over vote for the Republican County Commissioner candidates occurred in each of the 5 districts (including those with first time candidates). Earned media, i.e. blogs and newspaper accounts, as well as a targeted direct mail campaign, obviously helped the Republicans. Cunningham's campaign on behalf of two Democrat candidates may very well have backfired.

2009 Results - Lehigh County (General - Turnout)

How Joe Long Stacked the Deck

Northampton County Democratic bossman Joe "Bossman" Long is affectionately referred to by lame duck Charles Dertinger as "chairman for life." But if truth be told, he's been an unmitigated disaster. I want to tell you how it happened.

In eight years at the helm, Long has alienated Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham, Northampton County Executive John Stoffa and state party boss T. J. Rooney. The Bossman's penchant for preselection of candidates in smoke-filled bars has resulted in disaster after disaster at the polls. These include Charles Dertinger (Congress); Sam Bennett (Congress); Glenn Reibman (County Exec); and Ann McHale (County Exec). Our fearless leader's most recent trick was to manage somehow to lose all five at-large seats in November's County Council race, giving Republicans a first-ever 7-2 edge. Even Northampton County's bench is now Republican. As if that were not enough, Long has made at least three appearances before a statewide grand jury investigating deceptive campaign practices.

How the hell could this happen? The answer is simple. Throughout his eight years as party boss, Long has stacked the deck with sycophants who would tell him what he wants to hear instead of what is best for the party.

How did Long stack the deck?

First, he appears to have been elected illegally. Committee members were last democratically elected in 2006. (Results are posted here.) This is the group that would elect Long, but he was miraculously elected before the results had even been certified. In fact, he was elected five days before certificates of election could even be sent to committeemen.

Second, once those results were certified, it quickly became apparent that 105 seats were still vacant. Most of those elected simply voted for themselves. Some of them - Arthur Piatt, Colin Burke, Paul Devlin - seem awfully confused about their sex, getting elected as both male and female committee members. This enabled Long to make all kinds of appointments.

According to the Party webpage, Jim Edinger is Long's lieutenant in Easton, Glendon, West Easton, Williams, and Wilson Boro. Chris Amato is little bossman in Allen, Lehigh, Northampton, N. Catasauqua, and Walnutport. Todd Pasini is Chief of Chapman, Bushkill & Moore Twsps. John F. Maher rules in Pen Argyl, Plainfield Twsp. & Wind Gap, and also acts as the Treasurer. Maria Dertinger is Long's Queen. None of these are themselves democratically elected. All appear to be Long appointees. In fact, the "chairman for life" himself was never elected to the committee.

The only way to prevent history from repeating itself is if this Spring's newly elected committee members insist on a Democratic election of party chair. The days of a closed club must end.

In recent months, a Facebook page has been established for the Northampton County Democratic Committee, allowing anyone to join. Ironically, I see none of the party hierarchy subscribed to a group designed to help elect Democrats.

Below is a list of the Democratic committee members who were actually elected. That should have been the pool for area chairs and party boss.

Allen Tp: Robert John Bates - 2 votes; Louise Bugbee - 1 vote.

Bangor: Kenneth Haldaman, Jr. - 2 votes.

Bath: Gail Vozari - 3 votes

Bethlehem: Donato Finelli - 1 vote; John W. Reynolds - 2 votes; Mary Pongracz - 2 votes; Richard Canning - 2 votes; Joseph Oravec - 71 votes; Patricia A Oravec - 71 votes; Rolf Treisner - 1 vote; Delia Diaz - 1 vote; Robert Schweder - 4 votes; Sonja Walker - 1 vote; Ladd E Siftar - 87 votes; Iris N Linares - 85 votes; George H. Treisner, Jr. - 45 votes; Darlene Treisner - 47 votes; Andrew T Jasso - 102 votes; Robin Beaty - 1 vote; Thomas B Lloyd - 111 votes; Helen Soloi - 117 votes; Harold Seyfried - 1 vote; Dana Grubb - 1 vote; Holly Kennedy - 1 vote; Kenneth Kraft - 3 votes; Anna A Stofko - 143 votes; Ismael Arcelay - 92 votes; Anant G Sabnis - 85 votes; Jyoti A Sabnis - 91 votes; Stephen J Barron, Jr. - 113 votes; Louise Kelchner - 3 votes; Jack Burke - 112 votes; Pat Burke - 111 votes; Robert Cohen - 1 vote; Karen Hampton - 1 vote; Stephen P Walters - 72 votes; Joseph Salgado, Jr - 1 vote; Juan Cruz, Jr. - 3 votes; Evelyn Rodriguez - 1 vote.

Bethlehem Township: Walter Garvin - 6 votes; Radha Ganapathy - 5 votes; Paul Colahan - 2 votes; Eileen Colahan - 2 votes; Louis A Gallucci - 1 vote; Sheree Szumlyo - 1 vote; Kevin McCabe - 1 vote; Stephane Rau - 1 vote; Richard A Harold - 47 votes; Suzanne M Harold - 48 votes; Robert J Hawke - 77 votes; Lamont McClure - 2 votes; Sandra McClure - 2 votes; Hugh Close, Jr - 1 vote; Art Psitos - 1 vote; Roger Reibman - 1 vote.

Bushkill Township: Larry Fenstermaker - 1 vote; Kathleen B Reese - 1 vote; Bruce Beltz - 1 vote.

Chapman: Glendora McGinnis - 1 vote; Michael McGinnis - 1 vote.

East Allen Township: Arthur Piatt - 1 vote; Arthur Piatt - 1 vote (as a female); Judith Landofi - 1 vote (as a male); Sarah Wills - 3 votes.

East Bangor: Joann Monath - 1 vote.

Easton: Robert Gerheart - 24 votes; Christina McFadden - 1 vote; David Hogenboom - 112 votes; Mary Elizabeth Colley - 106 votes; Jeffrey Warren - 1 vote; Arthur Richter Traldi - 56 votes; Kelly Prentice - 54 votes; Phyllis Altieri - 1 vote (as a male); Phyllis Altieri - 1 vote (as a female); Michael Fleck - 1 vote; Mildred Collins - 33 votes; John D Markley - 34 votes; Christopher Finan, Sr. - 1 vote; Lois Fleck - 1 vote; Merol Ulucakli - 50 votes; Betty Mauro - 1 vote; Pat Vulcano, Jr - 40 votes; Sandra P Vulcano - 43 votes; Florence M Hixon - 66 votes;
Frank P Kutch - 29 votes; Winifred Worley - 43 votes.

Forks Township: Jeri Brewer - 1 vote; Ronald Asteak - 2 votes; Lilly Gioia - 68 votes; Lois Hefferle - 1 vote; John Colatch - 1 vote; Sharon Davis -2 votes.

Freemansburg: Will Power - 53 votes; Rachel Ann Power - 67 votes.

Hanover Township: John Lemos - 1 vote; Sophia White - 2 votes; Frank T Colon - 128 votes; Lorraine M Pasquali - 132 votes; Frank Kozero - 1 vote; Linda Kozero - 2 votes; Stephen Luisser - 1 vote; Jonathan Soden - 1 vote; Lisa Magyarics - 1 vote.

Hellertown: Ricard Larish - 1 vote; Joseph J Chunko - 2 votes; Daniel P Stohl - 110 votes; Jennifer H McKenna - 102 votes.

Lehigh Township: George G Bowen - 1 vote; Mary Bowen - 1 vote; Russ Shade - 2 votes; Adele Meyers - 1 vote; Richard A Gilbert - 1 vote; Ervin Raber - 1 vote; David Schulman - 1 vote; Carl Sharpe - 1 vote; Regina Sharpe - 1 vote.

Lower Mount Bethel Township: Richard Grucela - 1 vote; Salomea Grucela - 1 vote; John Gercbino - 1 vote.

Lower Nazareth Township: Marlyn H Butz, Jr. - 114 votes; Patricia L Butz - 105 votes.

Lower Saucon Township: Margaret Leister - 1 vote; David Willard - 1 vote; Monica Willard - 1 vote; Michael Stern - 1 vote; Emerson Heffner - 1 vote; Lori Ann Heffner - 1 vote.

Moore Townhsip: Paul Devlin - 1 vote; Paul Devlin - 1 vote as a female; Brian Baylor - 1 vote; Christine Baylor - 1 vote.

Nazareth: Otto Dreydoppecl - 1 vote; Susan Dreydoppel - 1 vote; Rodney W Applegate - 73 votes; Constance Huth - 1 vote; Bryan Miller - 1 vote; Jacqueline Jennings - 1 vote.

Northampton: Joseph Lenzi - 1 vote; Joseph Lenzi - 1 vote as a female; Thomas R Neiper - 115 votes; Diane Neiper - 108 votes; Edward Pany - 1 vote; Michael Sayuk - 1 vote; Sandra Sayuk - 1 vote.

North Catasauqua: Jason Schlosser - 1 vote; Mary Molchany - 3 votes.

Palmer Township: Ralph Marinetti -1 vote; Susan Kuper - 1 vote; Richard Wilkins - 5 votes; Susan Wilkins - 2 votes; Christopher Berger - 1 vote; Marguerite Belyea - 1 vote; Alois Himsl, Jr - 1 vote; Frank Ferraina - 1 vote; Colin Burke - 1 vote; Colin Burke - 1 vote as a female; Margaret Terleski - 1 vote.

Pen Argyl: Thomas Williams - 1 vote; Judith Piper - 1 vote.

Plainfield Township: Randy Lieberman - 2 votes; Doris Uhler - 1 vote; Carol Smith - 1 vote.

Portland: Ruth Ribble - 1 vote.

Roseto: Jonathan Caponigro - 1 vote; Lucille Guida - 1 vote.

Stockertown: Timothy Craigin - 1 vote; Karen Snyder - 1 vote.

Tatamy: Nobody.

Upper Mount Bethel Township: Steven Ott - 1 vote; Jason Capone - 2 votes; Ruth Bisher - 4 votes; Jan Miller - 1 vote; Gary Davies - 1 vote; Patricia Davies - 1 vote; Edward Nelson - 2 votes.

Upper Nazareth Township: Eugene Hunter - 8 votes; Joanne S Messenlehner - 108 votes.

Walnutport: Arthur Bachert - 4 votes; Joyce Bachert - 1 vote.

Washington Township: Charles Dertinger - 110 votes; Shirley B. Ascani - 125 votes.

West Easton: Dan DePaul - 28 votes; Kelly A Gross - 32 votes.

Williams Township: William E Wallace - 58 votes; Diane Wallace - 1 vote; George Coffin - 1 vote; Walter J Russell - 41 votes; Lorraine Mineo - 1 vote.

Wilson: James McGowan - 49 votes; Patricia Hartley - 1 vote; Mark Price - 2 votes; Anne Thomson - 1 vote.

Wind Gap: Mitchell Mogilski - 6 votes.

Tonight! Angle & O'Hare v. Donovan & Denis on Business Matters (or BMs)

Sooner or later, it had to happen. Tonight's the night. Northampton County Bulldog Ron Angle and I team up on Business Matters (Channel 69, WFMZ-TV, 8 PM) for a cage match against Michael Donovan and former Obama campaign worker Jude-Laure Denis.

The subject? Is all criticism of President Barack Obama racially motivated? Michael and Jude staunchly defend all things Obama while Ron and I play the role of barbarian Visigoths. Rather effectively, I might add. Donovan and Jude did survive the encounter, but only because Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski fired Denis. She must have done something right.

I stopped counting after Angle had interrupted Donovan for the 32d time. Poor Michael eventually ran out of the studio, crying "How about some civility?"

Host Tony Iannellii, who I'm convinced is a cocaine addict, was taping about forty shows at once. While the make-up lady was getting a few extra barrels of whatever she needs to make The Morning Call's Paul Carpenter look like a human being, Angle and I let the air out of his tires. He can ride his frickin' bicycle.

All in all, it was a good day to be a racist.

All kidding aside, Donovan and Denis were terrific. But they were up against the varsity.

Do You Like Gladiator Movies?

Most sports junkies I know subscribe to Direct TV so they can catch every second of their favorite team in action. Well, if that's you, I've got some good news. I can't help you in any divorce actions that may be pending, but might be able to save some money.

Northampton County Controller Steve Barron sent me a link last week to ATDHE, which brings you sports that span the globe. I caught some college football and two good movies on Saturday. Maybe you prefer Italian sports? BBC? CNN from Spain? It's got all that, too.

I'm still looking for the gladiator movies.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Despite Recession, Open Space Remains Popular

Northampton County Council member Ron Angle has proposed a one-year moratorium on open space funding. This will reduce next year's tax increase by half, but is contrary to the popular will expressed in a referendum. It's even contrary to the sentiment expressed when County Exec John Stoffa was initially elected. He had warned he'd propose a half mill tax increase for open space. "They elected me anyway," he likes to say.

But that was when times were good. Now that we're in the midst of a recession, Angle questions whether that widespread support has vanished. He is interested in what you think, and even asked me to run a poll.

Ron is going to be surprised. Although only 44 votes have been cast so far, a slight majority (52%) still supports open space funding.

You can vote on the left sidebar.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Should We Cut Open Space Funding to Reduce Tax Increase?

Several years ago, Northampton and Lehigh County both overwhelmingly adopted referendums to approve public funding for farmland preservation, county and municipal parks and environmentally sensitive land. It's what we call open space.

After being elected County Executive, John Stoffa proposed a half mill tax increase for a "pay as you go" open space plan that will generate $84 million over twenty years, and provide a source for matching funds from the state's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Stoffa's plan, adopted in December '06 by a dubious County Council, had overwhelming public support. Sandra Yerger and Tom Maxfield, Lower Saucon Township Supervisors, spoke of their own referendum for open space, which passed with 66% of the vote. Williams Township supervisor Robert Doerr told Council that a similar tax increase in his community had already resulted in $3 million for open space. Jerry Steele, who chaired Williams Township's preservation board, warned we are "being circled by corporate developers."

Since that time, the economy has nosedived, year after year. County Executive Stoffa has warned that, unless the economy suddenly improves or we take drastic measures to reduce costs, Northampton County is looking at tax increases in each of the next three years. A tax increase is all but certain next year in Lehigh County, too.

Ron Angle has suggested we forego open space funding until the economy improves. This step alone would reduce next year's tax increase by half. But he was surprised at a recent Nazareth COG (Council of Governments) meeting to learn there is little support for his proposal, at least among township leaders. So he has asked me to post a poll, asking you how you feel. Should tax dollars set aside for open space be used to reduce a tax increase next year? Angle is proposing a one-year moratorium on open space. What do you think?

On my left side bar, you can see the poll. I've set it so you can only vote once from a computer, but someone will figure out a way around that. I think Angle, and the rest of Council, would really be interested in your views. Do you continue to support open space, even when it hurts?
Update: (7:20 AM) - The early voting overwhelmingly supports using open space money to reduce this year's tax increase, 10 - 6.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

One Reason to Be Thankful

We could be the turkey.

I'm giving myself a break and enabling comment moderation for the day. See 'ya tomorrow.

Update: Moderation is off. Let me review my commenting policy. I welcome your thoughts and love to argue. Feel free to disagree. But remember, commenting is a privilege, not a right. I will delete personal attacks or off-topic remarks. Flame wars and petty grievances just distract from the issues.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lorena's Story:

Northampton County's seal contains just two words - "mercy" and "justice." Those lofty words are there to remind us, better than any mission statement, of the County's core responsibilities.

County officials have finally agreed to allow Lorena, a female inmate with medical problems, to be examined by the doctor of her choice. Of course, she must be accompanied by two deputy sheriffs. As you might have guessed, doctors aren't crazy about that idea unless word comes directly from the prison. In the meantime, Lorena has been placed in a cell with a glass door and camera, so they can determine whether she is faking.

One of her friends, recently released, tells us more about the indequate medical care at Northampton County's jail.

Hello, I am a former inmate of Lorena Hackers. I served 60 days on a dui charge. In those 60 days I have witness the suffering that Lorena has gone through, not just emotionally and physically but mentally... As an inmate At NCP it's emotionally draining to know that you have a medical problem but yet you cannot get help for it. It's physically draining because when incarcerated you have a lot of time on your hands to think about all the things you have done, or haven’t done in life, and you try to reform yourself into the person that you always wanted to be so when you do get released you can live the life "God" intended for you. But in Lorena's case how can she begin to want a good life for herself when she feels that "No one" cares... Isn’t healing and building self esteem apart of rehab recovery? Isn’t this why NCP implemented the IBM program? The answer is "YES" according to NCP, but the truth is it's all a joke. Instead of buying new plasma TV’s for the inmates. Don’t you think they should get a real medical staff. A staff that can actually diagnose head lice. “Yes” I first hand witnessed that the medical staff did not know what head lice looked like so a corrections officers had to diagnose the inmates. So when a woman has a medical problem that causes sever bleeding and blood cots that are the size of tennis balls how can the medical staff give her the proper diagnoses of her problem and treat her correctly. My heart goes out to Lorena. She is a woman and any woman would agree that when you are bleeding and discharging blood clots in such a manner as Lorena is the situation becomes extremely scary. The one thing that god solely blessed women with is the gift to be able to bear a child. How is anyone suppose to mentally cope knowing that, that one gift might be taking from them. Lorena has to deal with this day in and day out. Just because she has committed a nonviolent crime does that mean part of her punishment is to sit in jail with the chance that she could never bear children or lose her own life because she has a medical condition that if properly examined by a gynecologist the threat could be treated or cured for. Does it have to take a tragedy to happen for someone to finally hear her and help her… What kind of inhumane world do we live in???????

Update: Ann McHale Comes Through! Looks like prison officials are finally helping Lorena to see a doctor. According to Lorena's mom, Lorraine Russo, "[Prison laison] Ann McHale finally got to [Warden] Todd Buskirk and got the wheels in motion. Jan in medical just called and said they are going to set up an appointment for her today. Ann McHale is wonderful and compassionate. She always answered my letters and called me."

Will Marin's Departure Kill LV Passenger Rail?

Rumor has it that Paul Marin once wowed his house guests by donning a matador's costume. But in many ways, he has been very much like those flamboyant showmen, considered both artists and athletes, who are willing to face the bull alone.

Marin has faced some LV bulls. He was willing to answer some tough questions from me about passenger rail, and stared down both Lehigh and Northampton County for a $150,000 rail study. As a LANTA board member, he again faced the bulls on Northampton County Council. He publicly pitched the appointment of controversial alternative transportation advocate Steve Schmitt, a bicycle enthusiast, to the board of a transit company.

Does Marin's departure for Madrid sound a death knell to LV passenger rail?

Phoenix, the Fantastic Mr. Fox

I've always thought foxes are supposed to be clever and sly. One of my distant cousins, Dessie O'Hare, was an elusive IRA member nicknamed the Border Fox. He would slip through the grasp of police ... until he got caught. Well, this story is about another clever fox. No, it's not FOX News (Conservatives, please bow your head), but a real, honest-to-goodness fox who was just minding his own business, trying to cross a busy Monroe County street, when he got nailed by a passing driver. The little guy forgot to look both ways.

Things didn't look well for the poor little carnivore, who suffered both a skull fracture and broken hind leg as a result of his failure to look both ways before crossing. Close to death, he was rushed to Saylorsburg's Pocono Wildlife Center, where he was slowly nursed back to health, thanks to some wonderful people.

He's made a complete recovery and has been named Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from the ashes.

Now that it's time to release Phoenix back into the wild, Lehigh County officials have authorized his admission into the 1,108 acre Trexler Nature Preserve, which was recently opened to the public. Phoenix will be set free today, 4:15 PM, at the Preserve’s North Range off of Mill Creek Road.

Amazingly, Phoenix's release coincides with Commissioner Dean Browning's First Annual Fox Hunt, scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving Day. "Bring it on," taunts Phoenix, who learned how to speak during his convalescence. "My hounds are ready for you," answered Browning, who tells me this hunt is just a prelude for his real target.

Pip the Mouse.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Charlie Dent: There Are Only Two Ways to Run, Hard or Unopposed

When Sam Bennett ran against LV Congressman Charlie Dent last election cycle, she would often tell her listeners "Charlie's a nice guy, but I'm a nice guy, too, and have better hair." I'm guessing that was a mistake. But let's face it. That is Dent's image. Even die-hard lever pullers on the Democratic side of the aisle will readily concede he's a great guy. He remembers everybody he meets, speaks softly and is one of very few people who actually listens to what others say to him. But don't kid yourself. Dent has fought, and won, three Congressional races in a Democratic district. Beneath his velvet glove, there's an iron fist. That was on full display yesterday during a news conference that included Morning Call reporters, Ken Petrini and yours truly.

"There are only two ways to run, hard or unopposed," Dent said in response to a question asking whether he might be jumping the gun in his race against Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. "He has a public record, which we will be happy to talk about."

Health care reform

Irked by Callahan's participation in a health care rally outside Dent's Bethlehem office, the Congressman pointed out that this demonstration was actually sponsored by MoveOn, "an ultraliberal organization," and SEIU, whose Allentown president was forced to resign five days later for bullying Boy Scout volunteers. "John Callahan may want to do a better job picking his allies next time around."

Dent also slammed Callahan for his refusal to state whether he would have voted for Pelosi care. Dent noted Callahan could fall out of his office at city hall and read the bill in Bethlehem's public library, which Dent personally delivered. Instead, Callahan will "weasel out of taking a position."

"I guess the chicken dance isn't just for Musikfest anymore," he joked.

Pelosi care will be paid for with $500 billion in Medicare cuts over ten years, as well as $730 billion in new taxes. Dent disputes that these Medicare cuts are realistic. "They're not really reforming anything." He also argues that these cuts will be felt by seniors. "I will let senior citizens of this district know what John Callahan intends to do to their programs," calling him a "Nancy Pelosi Democrat."

What would Dent do about health care reform?

Instead of one massive health care reform bill, which Dent argues is just a recipe for partisanship, he suggests a piecemeal approach. "Deal with things we know need to be fixed," He recommends separate bills for pre-existing conditions, medical liability, health insurance reforms, tax equalization, and so on. He believes this permits more bipartisanship and is more easily amended.

Bethlehem taxes

Claiming that Callahan is "no stranger to deficit spending," Dent accuses Callahan of breaking a 2007 promise to cut taxes after the casino was built. Noting a $2.7 million deficit in 2008 and a $10 million line of credit proposed for next year, Dent charges that Callahan has "repeatedly raided" the water budget to avoid raising taxes. "It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and then you rob Paul."

In his 2007 State of the City address, Callahan did promise to cut taxes. "[W]e need to give a direct financial return to all of our taxpayers in the form of a tax cut." In February of this year, Callahan downgraded his 2007 promise to a "possible" tax cut. Now that promise has been forgotten completely. "John Callahan can't play it straight with the people of Bethlehem concerning tax cuts." Pointing to Bethlehem's $7 million host fee, Dent adds "You would think the good people of Bethlehem, who are hosting this casino, would get tax cuts."

Callahan is obviously listening to all kinds of well-paid politicos who claim it's far too early to start this Congressional race. Somebody needs to tell that to Dent. He's removed his velvet gloves to expose iron fists, is pounding away, and is happily painting Bethlehem's Mayor as a vacillating politician who has no real interest in the issues. Chickendance Callahan.

Advantage, Dent.

Update: Ken Petrini has a far more detailed account of this news conference, which you can read here.
Update #2: The Morning Call's story, penned by irrepressible Scott Kraus, is located here.

Northampton County's Deed Transfers Drop 50% Over Five Years

Relying on realtors for news about the housing industry is kinda' like letting the foxes tell you how many chickens are in the hen house. But amazingly, news organizations routinely accept these housing industry reports as gospel.

Last week, The Morning Call dutifully reported that LV home sales have skyrocketed over the last month. It relies on a monthly report prepared by Prudential Patt, White Real Estate, whose business is to create a buzz about local homes. "There were 544 homes sold in October in Lehigh and Northampton counties, up 19.6 percent from the same month a year ago."

Sounds very exciting, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it's complete baloney.

I checked Northampton County's October deed transfers. In October, they actually dropped 11% over the same period last year. In fact, deed transfers have consistently declined in each of the past five years. Over that five-year period, transfers have dropped nearly 50%.

Here's the raw data: October '05 - 975 deed transfers; October '06 - 844 deed transfers; October '07 - 700 deed transfers; October '08 - 561 deed transfers; and October '09 - 498 deed transfers.

The housing industry is actually at a five year low.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Joyce Marin Resigning as Allentown's DCED Director?

According to a reliable Allentown source, Joyce Marin is resigning as Allentown's Director of Community & Economic Development. When she was hired earlier this year, the job carried an annual $87,000 paycheck. Her appointment followed two contributions to Mayor Ed Pawlowski's campaign, totalling $1,150.

I have no additional details. The city web page still lists her as Director.

Update: It's official! According to a news release on the city web page, Marin's resignation is effective December 18th. She and her husband are moving to Madrid, where she will begin her training as a matador.

SEIU's Apology Over Boy Scout Incident

Below you will see two letters from municipal union SEIU, addressed to LV Congressman Charlie Dent and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. They apologize for "careless and insensitive" remarks made by a local union president, objecting to volunteer efforts by boy scouts at an Allentown park. (You can click on the letters to see them more clearly).

State Legislator Plans to Moonlight on Delaware County Council

Mario Civera, minority chair of Pennsylvania's House Appropriations, was just elected to Delaware County Council. Until his succession is assured on that powerful committee, he plans to serve both as a state legislator and county council member. He claims there is no conflict because he will only accept one salary.

Where's DA John Morganelli when we need him?

Northampton County Female Inmates Denied Equal Treatment

Over the past two weeks, I've been regaling you with stories about a female inmate at Northampton County's jail. Her name is Lorena. She claims to be a victim of medical neglect and to have even witnessed what certainly appears to be physical abuse. A drug offender, she's also the inspiration for the rehabilitative work done by Lafayette College's Dr. Bonnie Winfield.

Her story has resulted in some sharp reactions, some from people who think jails should be modern torture chambers, and others from angry prison insiders who resort to personal attacks. Lorena's mother has been told that, if she keeps squawking, some of these insiders may sue her. Instead of silencing her, this threat has made Lorena more vocal.

Here's what Lorena herself has to say about conditions at Northampton County's jail.

"I am currently an inmate in Northampton County Prison. My name is Lorena Hacker and I have been incarcerated since May 17, 2009 for a technical parole violation and my max date was up on November 9, 2009. I also have new charges pending for a non-violent drug-related offense. I have yet to go to court regarding this matter and have been rescheduled for the third time, so my preliminary hearing is now scheduled for December 22, 2009 at Magistrate Marinkovits in Northampton. I have a public defender. There are no drugs as evidence. I have never had a violent charge or physically harmed anyone but myself. All of my past criminal history was drug-related. I have spent years of my life in and out of jail due to mistakes and bad choices I have made because of my addiction to drugs, and not once have I been sent to a rehab. Sure I have been sentenced to a rehab, however the county paroled me to my home plan instead. I feel that jail is the last place I need to be. I never received any in-patient rehabilitation or counseling. I just don't understand this criminal justice system. There are some women who have been sent to a rehab 2-5 times, yet I have never been given the opportunity even once. Why? I know that I have made bad choices and many mistakes, but I do not deserve to be locked up in a prison with no rehabilitation, no counseling and no help.

"I cannot even get proper medical treatment much less dental care in here. I have cavities and all the dentist will do here is pull teeth. So basically, because I get cavities, I should get teeth pulled and along with losing them,lose some more of my self esteem?

"My addiction grabbed a hold of me in 1996. I first came to jail in 1998. I think. It's sad to say this, but it's been so many years that I don't even remember which year exactly that this nightmare began. I'm tired. I'm crying out for help. I'm crying out for justice.

"Yes, I have a criminal record, but that doesn't mean I am a bad person, that doesn't mean that I don't deserve to be treated like a human being. I need help, not to be locked up and ignored. All I am asking for is some help. Please

Sincerely and respectfully,
Lorena Hacker

Here's some of her questions.

1. Why do men have a rehabilitation program with group activities all day and are able to be housed on their own separate unit, not with the rest of the prison population? The women of NCP are not so lucky.

2. Out of all the classes provided for the women, how many are volunteers and how are actually paid facilitators?

3. The prison has now begun a program called IBM. We are supposed to be provided with games and art supplies, etc. A majority of these have been donated and some Correctional Officers have even bought the female inmates games and supplies out of their own pockets. Where is all the money going? Why don't people start holding this county accountable for receipts? I mean, really, how much does a pack of construction paper cost? Yeah, okay, add in a couple of glue sticks, etc. Where are the thousands of dollars for our programs going?

4. Why are the C.Os walking around the unit wearing coats because it is so cold, while the inmates, have short sleeved jumpers? Then on too of it, we aren't allowed to use our blankets from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

5. Why are there three battery operated razors for 40 women, and none of them are soaked in Barbisol solution, ever. All we have is a spray bottle to squirt them down with. Why don't we ask a hair salon how sanitary that is?

6. Why should women who have been abused by men on the outside have to bear witness to the same thing on the inside? Being subjected not only to physical abuse but mental and verbal as well?

7. Why is it that violent offenders who have been convicted of a violent crime against another human being are released back into society, before me? When I am in prison for a non-violent drug offense due to my drug addiction and am guilty of moving without notifying parole of my change of address?

8. Why are men in this prison allowed to have visits without glass in between them and their visitor, but women, who carry our children in our wombs for nine months are not granted contact with our children?

9. Why are men allowed the privilege of earning money by doing kitchen work, laundry, maintenance and commissary, while the only paying jobs for women are three females who receive one dollar per day for cleaning the hallways. Out of all the females incarcerated here, only three can get a paid job. What about the tray runners who do their job three times a day, only to receive an extra tray as payment and sometimes not even that? So basically, they work for free because how much does one inmate meal cost? Any really, who wants to eat this county food anyway?

10. Why would people expect prisoners to change by locking them up without sunshine or even a window to see the outside? The only light we get is artificial. I haven't seen the sun in 6 months all because I never received counseling for some trauma I've gone through, so I turned to drugs to numb my painful memories. So now I still don[t receive counseling and am removed from society, not to mention the light of day. On top of my sorrow and traumatic memories I can become bitter and angry because I'm locked up and ignored.

Lorena's mother is trying to get her to a gynecologist for some female problems. She's willing to pay for it herself. But Lorena has no appointment.

Who Will Lead Northampton County Dems?

Northampton County may be increasingly Democratic, but you wouldn't know that from the election results. Bossman Joe Long's heavy handed machine style of politics, in which candidates are pre-selected by some small group and foisted on the rest of us, has been an unmitigated disaster. Thankfully, Joe Long intends to step down, and the sooner the better.

Who will replace him? On one side we have the Long Dems like Northampton County Council member Charles Dertinger, who has just been voted out of office, even losing in his home town. On the other side are the New Dems, people like Ray Lahoud, who detest back room cliques and believe the person might sometimes be more important than his party. Another name being mentioned is Bill Wallace, who plays both sides.

If committeemen elect a Long acolyte like Dertinger, expect to see Bethlehem annexed by Lehigh County and Easton divert the flow of the Delaware so that it becomes part of New Jersey. In eight years, Long can take credit forthese failures:

* Recruiting Charles Dertinger to run for Congress right after he had finally won his first race for Northampton Council on his three try. Long not only failed to get his pre-selected candidate elected to Congress, but he just lost his seat in Northampton County.

* Interfering in a contested Democratic primary, having the party endorse Glenn Reibman, who lost, over John Stoffa, who won. He even threatened to run Reibman as an Independent until learning that's impossible under Pennsylvania law.

* Persuading a mere handful of Democratic committeemen to endorse county council candidates Tony Branco and John Maher, both of whom were soundly beaten in the general election.

* Hiring the King of Sleazeball politics, Scissorhands Severson, to work county council races. Not only did Dems lose, but Severson currently faces criminal charges for deceptive campaign practices and Long Dems are hauled in front of a statewide grand jury as often as I visit Dunkin Donuts. To make matters worse, Northampton County Dems still owe Severson money.

* Pimping for unqualified congressional candidate Sam Bennett, whose campaign was so disastrous that portions of her debate performance had to be bleeped. She was destroyed as a candidate, probably permanently.

* Convince the party to endorse Ann McHale over progressive County Exec John Stoffa, who even beat her in Bethlehem, her home District. This endorsement occurred at a supposed petition-signing meeting.

* Sending Charles Dertinger to quell a disturbance among Bethlehem City Dems, where he lectured popular Bethlehem City Council member Karen Dolan and referred to John Callahan as Bethlehem's "boy mayor."

* Giving Republicans a clean sweep of all five open County Council seats in the most recent election, giving Republicans a 7-2 majority for the first time.

Joe Long has been Northampton County's gift to the Republican party.

Congressman Dent To Conduct Two Town Halls This Week

This year alone, LV Congressman Charlie Dent has conducted seventeen town halls with his constituents. By tomorrow, it will be nineteen. He has a town hall scheduled for both today and tomorrow.

Today! Stockertown Rod and Gun Club, 206 Lefevre Road, in Stockertown, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Tomorrow, at the Salisbury Township Municipal Building, 2900 South Pike Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

In addition to discussing pressing issues like health care, these are great opportunities to meet Congressman Dent's staff to seek assistance on specific federal matters.

Show Me the Money!

When I told you that Easton activist Dennis Lieb was waging a write-in campaign against Mike Fleck for city council, one of the first comments posted on my blog was this: "Didn't Bernie O'Hare torture and/or rape a girl in 1990? I heard about a federal ongoing investigation about that."

That's Fleck's style. It's what I'd expect from someone who lied about being a college grad when he first ran for Easton mayor. Now I understand he has since graduated summa cum laude from both Oxford and Harvard, where he double majored in Astrophysics and Physical Education while simultaneously writing several novels in Sumerian.

On Friday, I received a "warning" that Fleck's been bragging to his buddies at the Allentown Brew Works that he's about to take me down. Apparently, he has incontrovertible evidence that I'm being paid to write stories favorable to Congressman Charlie Dent, Northampton County Exec John Stoffa and Bulldog Ron Angle.

This is great news to me because I'm broke and Christmas is fast approaching. But where the hell is the money? I've looked everywhere and can't find it.

On Thursday and Friday, anonymous comments began to post on this blog, claiming I am supported by these pols and, for good measure, drawing attention to my 24 year-old legal suspension. They even slammed me over a laptop I received from friends as a birthday present, and which I wrote about here. I've been deleting these personal attacks, but in retrospect, that's been a mistake. I should at least have asked them to tell me where I could find my stash.

Of course, there is no treasure. I have never been offered nor would I accept a penny for what I write. But as I reflect, this accusation is actually an admission. It's an acknowledgement that even small blogs like this one can and do shape and influence public opinion. So thanks for the compliment.

Lehigh Valley Health Board Has a Website

It's located here, and provides meeting dates, actual minutes and useful links to other public health resources. Once (or should I say if?) a bi-county health department is established, this website will serve as a central location for information on public health services that will be available to the entire Lehigh Valley community.

According to this webpage, the top ten greatest achievements of public health over the last century are the following: Vaccinations; Motor Vehicle Safety; Safer Workplaces; Control of Infectious Diseases; Decline in death from Heart Disease & Stroke; Safer and Healthier Foods; Healthy Moms & Babies; Family Planning; Fluoridation of Drinking Water; and Recognition of Tobacco use as a health hazard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

McClure Caught Trying to Rig Outside Lawyer Contract

If there were any doubts in my mind about DA John Morganelli's intention to remove Ron Angle from County Council for purely political reasons, they were erased at last night's County Council meeting. Morganelli lackey Lamont McClure made sure of that. Before the night was over, Angle had established that McClure tried, and very nearly succeeded, in steering the county's labor lawyer contract away from its current firm. Caught red-handed, all a petulant McClure could do in the end was mouth "Bye, Bye," to Angle, in an obvious reference to Morganelli's threat. It's a tale of two councilman - one who is out to hose the taxpayers and another whose absence would be sorely missed. Let me tell you the story.

Hallman Tudders & Sorrentino are the legal beagles who conduct the County's labor negotiations with 11 different unions. Lamont McClure, himself a lawyer, obviously realizes this is a specialized field. He knows in-house lawyers are at a disadvantage when negotiating complicated union contracts without outside help.

That's exactly what he wants! He may be elected by the taxpayers, but his Master is the Union.

Naturally, McClure has been complaining about "excessive" fees paid to this firm. The Stoffa administration, realizing it had no contract for outside legal help, requested proposals from Hallman Tudders and other firms. These were evaluated and graded by a committee. Guess who managed to get himself appointed to that committee? That's right. It was Lamont McClure. He even volunteered.

Here's what he did. He made sure he gave Hallman Tudders very low ratings, completely out of sync with other members. By doing this, he effectively took this firm, which knows the County, out of contention. As a result, the Administration had no choice but to propose awarding this contract for outside legal services to another firm.

When the matter came up last night, McClure made a mistake. He decided to play cute. Although a member of the committee making this recommendation, he told Council he would refuse to introduce the resolution. He really just wants to prevent the County from getting any half decent labor lawyers to deal with 11 different unions.

This made the Northampton County Bulldog, Ron Angle, suspicious. He began asking questions. When the smoke finally cleared, he had proven that McClure was manipulating the bidding process, trying to deprive the County of its labor lawyers.

Here's a transcript of the exchange among Angle, Fiscal Affairs Director Vic Mazziotti, McClure, Jerry Seyfried and Mike Dowd.

Angle: "Would I be safe in saying that Mr. McClure's votes were extremely low in one case, extremely, extremely low in one case, and extremely, extremely high in another case?"

Fiscal Director Vic Mazziotti: "I don't know if I can characterize the votes. Is it appropriate that I share this ...

Angle: "Well, you know, I inquired earlier about the possibility of going into executive session. I rarely like executive sessions, quite frankly, because you don't do the people's business in executive session. But I don't think this qualifies for executive session. I think it's the people's business and I think I am entitled and the public's entitled to every piece of information that you have."

Mazziotti: [after conferring with the Exec] "Well, I don't object."

At this point, Angle rambles offtrack about the Sunshine Law, and Vic agrees Ron's an expert.

Jerry Seyfried: "Do you think that the numbers were skewered?"

Angle: "Thank you. Wonderful question. You're co-counsel, you're giving closing arguments. I like that."

Mazziotti: [pause] "I don't think it's appropriate for me to characterize whether that's true or not ..."

Angle: "I have said many times, numbers are your specialty. You are an expert on numbers. His question was very fair. Do you believe, as an expert in numbers, that the numbers were skewered, yes or no?"

Mazziotti: "I think Mr. McClure's ..."

Angle: "Yes or no, I'm not asking Mr. McClure, I'm asking you."

Mazziotti: "Well, you have to define for me what you mean by ..."

Angle: "Very low, very high."

Mazziotti: "Yes, I would say that's true, in a couple of categories."

Angle: "Thank you very much. So at this point in time, if you want my opinion, we need to throw out how this process was done, and frankly, I'm not a fan of Tallman Hudders, but I think they did get the shaft. We need to throw out the process, I'd like you to have a new committee, and not have anybody on that committee who has personal axes to grind. The system was flawed, and the system should never be flawed so that it is skewered. I say that and I am not a Tallman Hudders fan. I am just the opposite, I'm not fond of that firm. But in all fairness, fair is fair, right is right, wrong is wrong. You want to table this? This would be a great time to table it ..."

Seyfried: "It hasn't been introduced."

Mike Dowd (presiding for an absent Ann McHale): "It hasn't been introduced. At the moment, it hasn't been introduce, so we don't have anything to discuss."

Angle: "This is not the first time this has happened, quite frankly, and it's very disturbing to me."

Dowd: "It has not been introduced, then it fails for want of not being introduced, and we will ask the Administration to come back."

Angle: "I would hope, Mr. Executive, that you would do the process over so that the process is not flawed and it is done 100% above board."

McClure: "Well, what was not above board?"

Angle: "What was not above board was, your numbers on the outfit that won it were extremely high. It was enough to sway it over, that that's who it went to. Your numbers on the firm that came in second were extremely low, and not in line with anybody else's numbers."

McClure: "Are you sure about that? Are you sure about that? Why were my numbers on the outfit that won it extremely high?"

Angle: "I'm not done yet."

McClure: "Why were my numbers on the outfit that won it extremely high?"

Angle: "I'm not interested in this. Mr. Mazziotti has answered my questions for me. But I can give you many areas where you've done the same thing."

McClure: "Oh no, I want to know from you, in public, why my numbers on the outfit that won it ere extremely high?"

Angle: "For once, you got caught."

McClure: "I got caught doing what, Ron?"

Angle: "The same thing you caught caught for with the Gambling Authority. Hauling somebody in. Using your influence as a County Councilman, you brought a law firm in from Harrisburg and said, 'These are experts,' trying to lobby for that firm. That's not what you should be doing."

McClure: "So the law firm that got recommended by the Administration tonight got recommended because of my extremely high grades for them?"

Angle: "Well, let's try this. Mr. Mazziotti, had Mr. McClure's votes not been calculated and only the votes of the other people, would not Tallman Hudders have been the high score?"

Mazziotti: "I believe so."

Angle: "Thank you very much. End of case. I don't want to discuss it with you, Mr. McClure, you've been caught. Let's move on."

McClure: "Caught doing what, sir?"

Angle: "Your usual stuff is what you were caught doing?"

McClure: "What is the usual stuff? What is the thing I've been caught doing?"

Angle: "Mr. President, let's move on."

McClure: "Move on to what? You've made an accusation, now state it."

Angle: "I've proved my accusation."

McClure: "You've proved what?"

Ignoring McClure for the moment, Jerry Seyfried asked Executive John Stoffa to establish another committee to take a second look at the proposals. Acting president Dowd agreed the process has to be redone, and Council voted to do so. Jerry Seyfried then suggested that McClure might want to explain what he was doing.

By this time, a very red and angry McClure shouted, "Do I want to explain anything? I don't want to explain anything. [Angle] made an allegation about a tainted score. I want to know what he means."

As Acting President Dowd moved onto the next item on the agenda, McClure put his hand over the mike and started mouthing "Bye, Bye" to Angle. The Bulldog turned his mike on and barked at McClure, "I'm not going bye, bye, Lamont. Your buddy John going to send me away? I don't think so."

I don't think so either. But if Angle had been ousted from Council, McClure would have a much easier time screwing the County out of the lawyers they need to deal with unions.

Maybe Morganelli should seek an emergency hearing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jake Towne: Let's Treat al-Qaeda Like Barbary Pirates

In his most recent news release, independent Congressional candidate Jake Towne is now suggesting we pull out of Afghanistan and treat al-Qaeda like Barbary pirates. Here's an excerpt.

"To deal with the problem of Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, Towne believes that constitutional letters of marque and reprisal – used previously to deal with the Barbary pirates – are the best solution to deal with small groups. Letters of marque and reprisal are warrants issued by Congress to specified parties giving them permission to commit what would otherwise be illegal acts as they capture 'marked' enemies or seek retribution. America currently has 68,000 troops in Afghanistan to combat less than 100 al-Qaeda members with 'no bases, no means of launching attacks' per National Security Advisor James Jones."


DA John Morganelli to Angle - Payback's a Bitch, Ron

Just a few weeks ago, Northampton County DA John Morganelli was crying to County Council he's broke. He's so cash-strapped, he actually turns down 75% of extradition requests from other states. "We can't afford to go get them." With an expanding caseload and rising expert witness fees, he's had to put off empaneling a new grand jury and getting a new DA car.

Amazingly, this cash-strapped and over-worked DA nevertheless intends to pervert the public will, pursuing quo warranto proceedings against Northampton County Council member Ron Angle. Although Ron was elected November 3rd to the Bangor School Board by people who know he sits on County Council, Morganelli is going to push Angle off County Council, or so he thinks. His two-page letter to Angle is below.

Here's what he's really saying. "Payback's a bitch, Ron. You made me look bad, so now I'm going to remove you from office, something we could never do in an election." Now to make things look good and give himself some political cover, he's sent a similar letter to a Wilson Borough Council member elected to Wilson's School Board. But don't kid yourself. His target is Angle.

Morganelli bases his supposed opinion on provisions of a School Code enacted before there even was a Home Rule Charter, as well as a provision in the Home Rule Charter that the state supremes have declared unconstitutional. Let me repeat. Angle is Morganelli's real target. His threat is a nothing more than a thinly disguised, political hit job.

Morganelli's past practice

In 1999, when Ron Angle was first elected to County Council, he was a Bangor School Board member. Council Democrats sought Angle's ouster then, and Morganelli consented to a lawsuit filed by Council. But he refused to use the power of his office himself, choosing to stay away from a political question. Two years later, when it appeared that some members of the General Purpose Authority had been illegally appointed, Morganelli again consented to a quo warranto. But as before, he stayed out of the fight. Then in 2006, when Hellertown Borough Council President Tony Branco was appointed to County Council, Morganelli had no objection to this Democrat. In fact, the DA later made robo calls for him. Last year, when Bangor Mayor Joe Capozzolo was appointed to succeed the late Wayne Grube, Morganelli voiced no concerns.

Given his past practice, why this sudden change of heart? I believe there are three reasons, none of which has anything to do with the law.

1. Morganelli wants to prevent Angle's election as Council President.

If this matter ever goes to Court, Morganelli will lose. But Morganelli has decided to grandstand on this issue now, six weeks before Angle can even be sworn into office. At the same time he was sending this letter to Angle, he was forwarding copies to the press. He's trying his case there, where he has a better chance at success.

His goal is to influence the election of Council President. With a 7-2 Republican majority, Angle is in a very good position to be elected Council president. Morganelli, a hardened Democrat, has seen both Northampton County's bench and Council go Republican. Angle and County Executive Stoffa, whose interest is government and not partisan politics, are on the cusp of making some significant changes in the County, from a downsizing of Gracedale to a relocation of county offices to a treatment center that actually tries to prevent recidivism.

Morganelli, unlike Stoffa, is very much a political animal, and his protege is the very unpopular Lamont McClure. They are both losing their grip on political power, and need to weaken a Republican-controlled Council. Since an Angle Council Presidency is likely to succeed, they want to remove that possibility. Publicizing the DA's threat will cast doubts about Angle, making him less palatable to his fellow Republicans.

2. Nobody else will do it.

County Council, having already appointed two people who serve in other municipal governments to Council seats, has effectively taken themselves out of this game. They are in no position to raise the proscription in the Home Rule Charter, which then Solicitor Leonard Zito ruled unconstitutional. And they have no standing to raise the prohibition in the School Code.

How about Bangor School Board? On Monday night, they went into executive session over the Angle issue, and decided to waste no taxpayer dollars on what essentially amounts to a fool's errand.

That pretty much leaves Morganelli to play the fool. He's willing to take that risk because he has another reason for wanting to hurt Angle.

3. Payback's a Bitch

When political consultant Tom "Scissorhands" Severson was convicted by a jury for his bizarre and threatening behavior towards Ron Angle during a funeral mass, DA John Morganelli assumed the role of defense counsel, trying his best to downplay the reality that his friend and political consultant is now a criminal. Things got worse. Severson has been charged with deceptive campaign practices, and a statewide grand jury has extended its investigation into Morganelli puppet Lamont McClure. Morganelli has at best been asleep at the switch. At the worst, he may soon find himself under the magnifying glass.

He has one person to thank, more than any other. Ron Angle.

The Northampton County Bulldog has insisted for years that Severson is crooked. Morganelli studiously avoided these complaints until the Attorney General himself began to pay attention. The subsequent prosecution and investigation into deceptive Northampton County campaign practices is really an indictment of Morganelli, who unleashed Severson far too often.

Severson and Morganelli go back at least to 1991, when Severson ran John's campaign against then incumbent DA Don Corriere. That race, incidentally, turned nasty.

Morganelli has continued to use Severson and more importantly, has convinced others to use him as well, building up a little fiefdom in the process. These allies include former first assistant DA Paula Roscioli, who used Severson's services when she ran for judge, and won. After Scissorhands was charged in the funeral fracas, Morganelli used him in his own, unsuccessful, AG race. That support even continued after it became known that Severson was the subject of a statewide grand jury.

In his eighteen years as DA, I can't think of a single elections law prosecution. Severson had a green light to run wild, and did. Morganelli created a monster.

Morganelli refused to lift a finger when Severson began an anonymous sleaze campaign against local magisterial candidate Brian Monahan in Spring '08. He remained silent in July '08, when Severson started push polling against county councilman Ron Angle, even though that expense appears nowhere on any campaign finance report, even as an in-kind corporate contribution. When anonymous robo calls began in earnest against council candidates Angle and Peg Ferraro, Morganelli was MIA, even though campaign finance reports fail to reflect the amount of money being spent. In fact, he was working against Ferraro.

Now that Severson is being prosecuted and his political allies are under scrutiny, Morganelli has had a sudden change of heart about his personal involvement in quo warranto. You see, notwithstanding sleaze campaigns consisting of anonymous robo calls and vicious Severson-orchestrated mailers, Morganelli and company have failed to remove Angle at the polls. So now he'll attempt to replace democracy with litigation.

Why Morganelli Will Fail

No court is ever anxious to upset the will of the people. Despite the games that Severson and Morganelli play with elections, majority still rules. Judges will only negate an election result if the law is clear. And when it comes to a Home Rule Charter form of government, it's about as clear as the Delaware after three days of rain.

The Home Rule Charter proscription on which Morganelli relies has been found unconstitutional, for one thing. Morganelli himself notes that different lawyers reach different conclusions. The state supreme court has ruled that only the state legislature, and not any Home Rule Charter, can set forth the reasons for removing an elected official.

But how about that School Code prohibition? Well, that was adopted long before home rule government even existed. Counties were then appointing members to County School Boards. It applies to "county commissioners", who under the older form of government, have a mix of legislative and executive functions. They bear no similarity to the council members or commissioners in home rule governments.

When Morganelli's personal and political motivations are spelled out, and they will be, judges will take an even dimmer view of this waste of prosecutorial resources. Ironically, Morganelli himself has previously determined he is too biased to investigate or prosecute Severson. So how can he then prosecute Severson's victim, even in a civil matter?

Morganelli denies this is personal. Bullshit. I saw him the day Severson was found guilty. Instead of following the law, Morganelli is pursuing a political and personal vendetta, being urged on by McClure.

Ron Shegda: He's Baack!

Life's not fair. Pennsylvania state representative Bob Freeman will be facing Hellertown wingnut Ron Shegda for the third time in the battle for the 136th legislative district. In his first effort, a write-in campaign, Shegda was beaten 50 to 1. He vows to keep trying until that margin is down to 10 to 1.

Here's one of Shegda's "position statements."

"I live in a small town in Pennsylvania. Maybe you live in a small township or city. I love Hellertown. My Special Sister calls it 'Lady Jane’s Town.' One of my daily goals is reading my Bible. I think I am close to accomplishing that goal because my main Bible is falling apart. As a fisherman, I’m a cousin to gun owners and support our 2nd Amendment 100%. I’ve learned to hold my fishing rod tight while reeling in a flounder or blue. If you want a national perspective on your humble Candidate, I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania, and I cling to my Bible because I love God and neighbor and I cling to my fishing rod because I want my catch."

There you have it. I'm guessing 60 to 1.

Lou Hershman: The Allentown Watchdog Reports

Beaten, but unbowed, Allentown Watchdog Lou Hershman has been attending every city council budget hearing. For that alone, he deserves a People's Purple Cross. Here's his latest report.

* Mayor Ed Pawlowski has submitted three names for the Ethics Commission. Naturally, they are all his supporters.

* Hizzoner has yet to show at a budget hearing, but will make an appearance on December 1st, when his new throne will be carted into Council chambers.

* Joyce Marin (DCED Director) told Council Wednesday that she's recruited 139 businesses to Allentown. But when Council member Jeanette Eichenwald asked how many actually came, marin claimed she's still working on that figure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SEIU Local Prez Censured by ... SEIU

This keeps getting better and better. Now, the union local President who threatened legal action against a boy scout for cleaning up some park pathway, is being criticized by SEIU itself. "SEIU spokesman Matt Nerzig called Balzano's comments 'completely unauthorized and insensitive' and said the union was "not at all" considering a grievance in this case."

Update: Jarrett Renshaw has posted the actual audio of the SEIU President's remarks at Valley 610.

Morganelli To Seek Angle's Ouster From Northampton County Council, Bangor School Board

DA John Morganelli has announced his intention to file quo warranto proceedings against Northampton County Bulldog Ron Angle, challenging his right to sit on Northampton County Council and the Bangor School Board. I'll have details later.

Union Bullying of Boy Scout Volunteer: Dent Denounces, Callahan Cowers

Last Thursday, Bethlehem Mayor and Democratic Congressional candidate John Callahan wandered from city hall to participate in a health care reform demonstration outside Congressman Charlie Dent's office. He bravely announced he was "proud to stand with the hard working members of SEIU so that their voices can be heard." He even slammed Dent's refusal to support Pelosi care. But mysteriously, he ducked all questions asking him how he'd vote if it were up to him.

It's the thought that counts.

Right around the time that Callahan was hanging with his peeps from SEIU, they were bullying a 17 year-old Eagle Scout candidate, who had the nerve to clear a pathway at a local park. They made sure their voices were heard at Allentown City Council, where a local union rep declaimed "there's to be no volunteers." He's mad that the city laid off 39 of its members, although they refused to agree to wage concessions. "We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails," the union rep threatened.

Amazingly, the very next day, Callahan was telling he press how proud he is of these bullies.

By the way, how many cub scouts does it take to do the work of 39 SEIU members?


Yesterday, Congressman Dent sent a strongly worded letter to SEIU, suggesting that an apology to the Scout and the public is warranted. You can read his letter below.

Instead of posting this letter as soon as it fell into my hot little hands, as I'd usually do, I decided for some reason to try to be fair. So I called Callahan to ask if he is still proud of SEIU. His secretary, who was very nice, took my phone number. I even gave her my email address. I laid out what had happened and told her Congressman Dent had already condemned this greedy interference with a boy scout. Callahan and Dent may be on opposite sides in a congressional race, but I actually expected a bipartisan condemnation of this kind of union thuggery.

While I sat by the phone, waiting for Callahan's call, that no-good bastard, Scott Kraus, managed to beat me with this story at Pennsylvania Avenue. He even posted Dent's letter.

As you may have guessed, and as I should have expected, Callahan ducked me. Perhaps it's beneath him to speak to a blogger, although he did a blogger interview some months ago. More likely, he's afraid he may alienate the very union he praised the day after they bullied a boy scout. He might have to answer why scouts do no community service in Bethlehem's parks.

Are you beginning to see a pattern? Rather than leading from the front, Callahan hides in city hall, with a wet finger in the air, checking to see which way the wind is blowing. He's already refused to take a position on Pelosi care. Now, he's afraid to speak up for a 17 year-old boy scout.

Is this what you want in Congress?

Acupuncturist Wants to Stick it to Joe Brennan

State rep. Joe Brennan, a former Northampton County Council member and strong advocate of government transparency, has a challenger to his state House seat. It's right-winger David Molony, a prominent acupuncturist, who wants to stick it to him. Molony and his wife, Ming Ming, are both licensed as Oriental Medicine Practitioners, and own Lehigh Valley Oriental Medicine Center in Catasauqua.

Molony made his candidacy official last night at the Fullerton American Legion. According to his announcement, "there will be food, soft drinks and juices. Lots of neato folks as Dave announces his candidacy to the world."

Gee, I just hope nobody challenged him to a game of darts.

There must be serious money in acupuncture. Since 2000, Molony's contributed $42,918.00 to federal dudes like George Bush, Rick Santorum and Pat Toomey. He's also been a generous donor of at least another $30,000 (I did not add it up exactly) to Republicans seeking state office. In a letter to friends, he pledges "to invest a lot of time and a bunch of money to win this."

If I were Joe, I'd quit the state house and enroll in some school of oriental medicine right now. Forget politics, there must be serious coin in those damn needles.

But fortunately for us, I believe Joe will fight for his seat. I say this, not just because Brennan has been an exceptionally dedicated state rep who has been willing to cross the aisle to work with Republicans like Craig Dally, but because Molony scares the hell out me. It's not his needles, but his Orwellian ideas.

Get a load of this, which comes straight from one of Molony's fundraising letters.

"Did you know that a very high percentage of cars are stolen between 2 and 6 AM? Police can't pull over anyone without a probable reason. Why can't the state provide a very low cost sticker for your car that allows police to pull ovr any car with this sticker between 2 and 6 AM with the fact that bought a sticker that says you probably won't be out at that time of night?"

OK, and why stop there? Why not put stickers on our houses allowing police to barge in whenever they feel like it, or have the state surgically implant a chip inside each one of us so they can scan our criminal history and bank accounts?

If this guy is giving money to people like Santorum and Toomey, why is he promoting ideas that are essentially Marxist?

Molony also slams Brennan as some lever puller who "should be doing more than voting for the party line." Brennan, you may recall, joined a Republican-led effort to break the state budget impasse, embarrassing House leaders in working out a deal. He even supported Republican Craig Dally's candidacy for judge. Funny, I don't see a single Democrat among the many political beneficiaries of Molony's largesse. So this claim, coming from a partisan, is just Molony baloney.