Villa had Donovan up before the Ethics Board on some pretty serious charges. I'll tell you about them in a bit. Villa brought his lawyer, who must live with him, and confidently strutted around, snapping pictures of everyone in the hallway.
Donovan had to be encouraged to see some people rally to his banner in the middle of a workday. Dr. Bob Romanchek, Allentown's GOP chair, was there to support a Democrat. So was LVPoliblogger Chris Casey and downtown activist Alfonso Todd. Even my best friend from grade school, who shall remain nameless, was there. He met Donovan a few years ago and was impressed. Morning Call mini-celeb Bill White, sniffing a possible column, dropped by as well.
Of course they'll all pay a price. Villa snapped pictures of every one of them. He's already referred to Dr. Romancheck as a "spooky GOP RightWingNut," Alfonso as a "shameless blog publicity whore and community disorganizer", and columnist White as an "O'Hare shit-lover."
Donovan sat quietly, by himself, at the end of a very long conference table. He looked forlorn, almost bewildered. He's from Maine. People must be nicer there after eating all those damn lobsters. But he really has done a horrible thing. It's far worse than shooting someone.
Here's his dirty little secret. He's a God-damn blogger.
Nobody likes bloggers.
Let's face it, we're all bottom feeders who thrive on the misery of others. We actually make reporters look good. They used to be called bottom feeders who thrive on the misery of others, but now they're getting laid off, so everyone feels sorry for them and dumps on us. Shit rolls downhill, they say.
Donovan has something else going against him, too.
He's a God-damn politician.
Nobody likes politicians, even if they are college professors with tenure.
So hate blogger Bill Villa decided to bring Donovan up on ethics charges because of his blog. He regularly hijacked Michael's older blog to post derogatory remarks, taunts and links back to his own blog. Typical troll stuff. You've seen it here, although I delete it. No matter what the topic, Donovan was regularly ridiculed, although I was the usual target. Villa even took shots at Donovan's wife and son. When Donovan posted a heartfelt entry about the untimely passing of his own little girl, Villa sneered. Donovan rarely deleted the hate.
Villa got a taste of his own medicine when Donovan posted a blog entitled, A Tale of Two Cities, suggesting that Bethlehem and Allentown cooperate, instead of compete, against each other. Villa immediately began hijacking Donovan's blog with his usual impersonations and hateful attacks. In one of them, using the pseudonym "Freedom Fighter," he states, "Let's empty both barrels," containing a link to Allentown City Council.
That actually brought police to City Council's March 17th meeting. Villa stayed away from that one. Some bloggers, including me, challenged the taunts being made by Villa, teasing and chiding him. One anonymous comment was over the top, and was quickly deleted by Donovan.
Tired of the constant hijacking, Donovan finally started a new blog, giving himself greater control over the comments being posted.
That drove Villa, who just lost an outlet for all his hate, over the edge. He responded with a 3,000-page ethics complaint against Donovan, killing a forest or two to claim that Donovan was somehow using his city council position, on his blog, to enhance his prestige or for personal benefit. Of course, that's nonsense. Donovan uses his blog to promote transparency and accountability, but no good deed goes unpunished.
Board members quickly dismissed Villa's complaint yesterday. But before doing so, they entertained public comment.
That's when Villa's mouthpiece, who at one time was a bottom-feeding reporter and now is a bottom-feeding lawyer, objected to any comments from anyone who live outside the limits of the City Without Limits. He was trying to silence Chris Casey and yours truly. We both intended to speak on Donovan's behalf.
Nobody likes lawyers, especially lawyers who were at one time bottom-feeding reporters. They might even be as bad as bloggers.
This legal eagle read a portion of the Sunshine Act, which gives residents an absolute right to speak at most public meetings. But he only read a portion, or disingenuously misrepresented the law, take your pick.
Chuck Fonzone, the Solicitor for the Board, correctly told this divorce lawyer that nothing in the Sunshine Act bars nonresidents from public comment. And more importantly, the Sunshine Act extends the right of public comment to "taxpayers" as well. And let's face it, we're all paying for Allentown. All I have to do is plug a nickel in a meter and I'm paying a form of tax. So I was preparing to make a legal argument of my own when the Board unanimously decided to listen to anyone who wanted to speak. Three-minute limit. The only person they did not want to hear from was Donovan. Villa spoke, incidentally, and rambled on for six minutes, twice the allotted time.
Even the guys and gals in the land of midnight payraises recognize that "secrecy in public affairs undermines the faith of the public in government and the public's effectiveness in fulfilling its role in a democratic society."
That's why the Ethics Board made the right call in allowing the public to speak. They also made the right decision to dismiss the Complaint in a public meeting, instead of behind closed doors. It makes Villa look even more ridiculous when he claims the Board "hisses, then slithers away."
The only hissing and slithering I saw came from him and his mouthpiece. His lawyer tried, and failed, to stop Casey and Moi from speaking. Villa, as you've seen yourself in a video posted here, shouted at Donovan when he tried to speak. Finally, Villa actually claimed he had "back channel" discussions with the Board. I know he even threatened to come to their home, uninvited and unannounced, over the last holiday weekend. He's all for back room, ex parte, conversations.
Maybe it's time for Villa to write his memoirs.