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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Andy Roman: Support Your Local Sheriff!

Although state law sets the fee for concealed-carry permits at $25, Lehigh County Sheriff Ron Rossi was charging $38 until very recently. County lawyers ruled this higher fee was justified because those permits are encased in plastic and will last 1,000 years. Last week, Commissioner Andy Roman called Rossi the "stealth sheriff" when he failed to appear at his Inquisition on this very, very, very important matter. Like the Energizer Bunny, Roman keeps going and going and going. Yesterday, he fired off this strange mass email, addressed to other commissioners, the DA, and Colonel Sanders:

"With all due respect there seems to be a concerted effort here to cover the Sheriff's mis-deeds at all costs, even if it defies logic.

"The Sheriff, according to this Controller report, charged $38.00 for thousands of applicants, and did not give an option to pay $25.00, thus violating State Law according to Mr. Sorrentino's own legal opinion, and I quote; 'However, so long as the Sheriff has always offered a paper permit for the $25.00 fee, an additional charge for photographic and lamination services is compliant with the law'.

"So. if he DID NOT offer the $25.00 option then he is NOT compliant with the law. Period.

"Now if someone violates State law, do we as a County sweep it under the rug or does the Sheriff face consequences and refund those over-charged? Common Sense says yes!"

Hmm. Would you like coffee or tea, Andy? "Common Sense says yes!" Should the County raise or lower taxes, Andy? "Common Sense says yes!" Andy continues with his indictment:

"The evidence includes an instruction form that outlines a fee of $38.00 dollars with no other option, a Controller report outlining thousands who paid $38.00 and a Sheriff who has not explained or justified his actions but has hidden behind others who make excuses for him.

"I hope we are not being asked to ignore the obvious. I was born at night, but not last night."

Exasperated, Chairman Dean Browning lays the smack down on Andy

"Using 'With all due respect' at the start of your email doesn't excuse your claim that 'there seems to be a concerted effort here to cover the Sheriff's mis-deeds at all costs'. There have been numerous emails on this subject, most of which have been copied to the County Executive, to the District Attorney, to the Controller, to the County Solicitor, to the entire Board of Commissioners and to me as Chairman of the Board. The fact that no one else sees the issue in the same fashion as you do should be an indication that your view might not be correct rather than being used as the basis for making an irresponsible and inflammatory claim that we everyone that I listed above is engaged in a cover up. That accusation simply is not supported by the facts some of which are as follows:

"* The District Attorney, who is the chief law enforcement officer for the County, has responded to an email stating that there is no basis for criminal charges.

"* Subsequent to that and following a review by Legal, I asked our Solicitor to make a presentation of his findings to the Board of Commissioners. This presentation was made at a public meeting that was covered by reporters from two separate newspapers and was also filmed by a member of the audience.

"Exactly what part of the above process leads you to conclude that there 'is a concerted effort to cover the Sheriff's misdeeds'? Was it the fact that the issue was discussed in a public setting? Was it the fact that there were reporters present? Or was it the fact that a State Representative (who is intimately involved in this issue) was present?

"With all due respect, the claim that there is a cover up in this matter not only questions the integrity of everyone on this email it is also absolute rubbish."


Anonymous said...

I am SHOCKED....SHOCKED to learn roman was born at all, rather than hatched.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

Whether there is a cover-up or not, there is a problem.

I don't think that an extra $13 per card is a fair price for a plastic card, especially since I didn't have the choice of a paper one. Also, I have heard that $5 of the $25 fee is designated for the plastic/lamination costs.

I'm no fan of Roman or a critic of Rossi. However, a significantly higher fee was charged by the Sheriff - apparently without the knowledge of the administration or commissioners. This went on for a fairly long time and the issue should be properly addressed by the administration and commissioners. One has to wonder if there are other fees being charged without proper approval.

Incidentally, I went in for my carry permit last week. The cover letter reminding me to do so had the printed price whited out and "$25" handwritten over it. This would indicate to me that the Sheriff was wrong. There was no option to choose a higher price and I am assuming that (this time) I will get my plastic card for only $25.

I'll report back in 30-45 days to let you know what I get.

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to wonder if the Commissioners all to frequent deliberation via email does not violate the Sunshine Act.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That concern has been expressed by some.

Anonymous said...

NLV Logic & Bernie -

Does the Sunshine Law even cover e-mails?

I hate to punish Roman and Browning for being tech savvy, but it seems that much of the debate that should be conducted at public meetings and part of the public record is being conducted via e-mail (not readily available to the public).

Anonymous said...

Deliberation must be done in public, unless an exception applies, in which case it must be announced. And yes, it covers virtual meetings including deliberation by email.

Anonymous said...

And I'm presupposing a quorum of members on the email thread.

Andy Roman said...


Just curious as to how you got my e-mail to County officials regarding the Sheriff issue?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Andy, Your email and Browning's reply went to every Comm'r as well as some other individuals, and hence are in the public realm. The identity of the specific individual who gave it to me is irrelevant. AS NLVLogic has suggested, these back channel conversations should probably be taking place in public. Aklso, you made a very serious accusation, and people have a right to know that is what one Comm'r has told all the others.

Andy Roman said...

An e-mail sent from my County office to specific County officials regarding a serious issue under investigation somehow ends up in the public realm? Irrelevant...hmm...I see...surely from someone of utmost integrity...can I take a guess?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, An email addressed to every frickin' Comm'r, the DA, the County Exec and others, is certainly a matter for the public. If you are embarrassed by what you see, then perhaps you shouldn't have written it. But don't you try to claim this is either a "serious matter" or that it is "under investigation." Both claims are bullshit. The person who would investigate this is the DA, and he took a pass. If you have a problem with that, run against him. But first go to law school.

What difference does it make where I got my information, so long as it is accurate?

Maybe you should start a new investigation about where I got my information. You sound more than a little like Captain Queeg in the Caine Mutiny.

Anonymous said...

Cards printed on ANY plastic/parchment and laminated is covered under the $25. The credit card style with self laminated surfaces is a very expensive process. I think the machine alone was $25000+. The "toner" rolls are expensive and the laminate even more expensive.

Be careful what you wish for because soon you will get laminated paper. Easy to forge. Easy to duplicate. But if security and validity of a LTC means nothing to you all then do whatever. Safe a few bucks now but undermine the integrity of the system.

You can have quality or cheap. You get what you pay for.

Anonymous said...

> An e-mail sent from my County office to specific County officials regarding a serious issue under investigation somehow ends up in the public realm?

Dunno if the writer was Andy or not, but the answer to his question as to how the email leaked out, doesn't matter. Emails of this type are generally contemplated under the Open Records Law. There're public documents. Mebe someone should make a Open Records Reqeust.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Some people believe that a folded up piece of paper in a wallet with a pasted photo is a suitable permit to carry a concealed weapon, meanwhile, you need a laminate photo id to get a beer if your look young, you need a Laminated Photo ID to get in to a discount box store, and you even need a Laminated Photo ID to get into a fitness facility.

It was my impression that the permit image is available to law enforcement to verify legality.

Did you know Northampton County offers only laminated permits at $35.

Better yet, did you know that Bucks County offers a paper permit? Yes they charge $35. The laminated permit costs $46.

I got this info from the PA Firearms Assoc web.