Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Callahan Wants Nemes Out at Bethlehem Parking Authority

I've never met Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Director Hector Nemes, but I've done business with him numerous times. You see, I collect parking tickets the way Hugh Hefner collects 24-year old blonde bombshells, even in the Christmas City. I learned late yesterday that Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan is trying to squeeze Nemes out and replace him with someone he can control. Let me share what I know.

Nemes, a LV native who worked at Bethlehem Steel with Don Cunningham's dad, was appointed Exec. Director back in 2002. At that time, the only nay vote came from Joe Hoffmeier, who now chairs the Board.

Callahan and Nemes have been butting heads over numerous issues that essentially boil down to control. Callahan thinks he should be calling the shots. For example, Callahan wants to double meter rates, but Nemes has resisted.

Nemes was offered early retirement, but decided against it. So on December 23, Callahan tried to fire him. But it turns out that's something for the board. As word has leaked out about what is going on, Hizzoner has apparently backed off, at least for now.

What's leaking out are questions concerning the Bethlehem Parking Authority's decision to purchase the parking deck behind the Main Street Commons. Using RCAP grant money the property was purchased from Lou Pektor's Ashley Development. According to Northampton County assessment records, the property was sold to Bethlehem Parking Authority in 2009 for $1.6 million. But what has some City insiders concerned is a pre-purchase appraisal, valuing the property for much less than what was ultimately paid. Some say it only appraised at $600,000.

Callahan was able to persuade board members to go along with what might be a sweetheart deal. Chairman Joe Hoffmeier is a Callahan acolyte who contributed $1,000 to the Mayor's congressional quest. Vice Chair Dino P. Cantelmi just happens to be the Mayor's brother-in-law, and is the very person who crashed into a Bethlehem police cruiser nearly four years ago. He sent an officer to the hospital with negligible legal consequences and no publicity. Board member Mary Beth Baran was hired by Callahan to work in the City's water department despite a freeze on new employees. Finally, board member Michael D. Recchiuti is running for City Council and is reputedly a member of the "better than you" crowd after Council meetings.

Callahan has the clout to remove Nemes and wants him gone, but word about that parking deck project has him spooked. In addition to questions about the purchase price, there's another problem. Pennoni Associates was hired to do the renovations, but they are apparently way over budget. I do not have the exact figure, but know that the City is currently unable to use the Authority as a cash cow.

Interestingly, Pennoni just happens to be the outfit doing Northampton County's parking deck. It bid $1.7 million, and currently is somewhere around $500,000 over budget. "Whenever there's a government project, we get waxed up," complained NorCo Council Prez Ron Angle. Looks like Bethlehem is getting waxed up, too.

Interestingly, several Pennoni employees were very generous to Callahan in his failed Congressional bid. It's impossible for me to identify all of them, but I can list some of the principals and employees who seem to think very highly of an elected official who doesn't mind their overruns:

CR Pennoni - $2,000.
Anthony S. Bartolomeo - $1,000.
David DeLizza - $1,000
Andrew Bennett - $1,750
Nelson Shaffer - $500
Eric Flicker -$1,200

That's $7,450.

I do not have a copy of the appraisal or Pennoni's cost overruns, so I can only say for sure that Callahan wants Nemes out, but backed off as some of these questions arose. I believe several City Council members may have similar concerns.


Anonymous said...

John Callahan is fundamentally dishonest.

Kudos to you Bernie for showing how the people of Bethlehem are constantly being hosed by Callahan's cronies and contributors.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this Pennoni crew has an in with both Callahan and Stoffa. Nice insider workings.

Anonymous said...

Simply wow! Hector is a good guy and has done a good job at the authority. Nepotism and political cronyism is running a muck in the city.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get this stuff? You make it impossible for us working stiffs to leave the house! Parking garage cost overuns and nothing is said? Where is city council?
Where is city taxpayer outrage?

Anonymous said...

Is Dino related to the hardware store owners?

Anonymous said...

$1.9 million for a parking deck + the renovation cost of how much?

Does Pector still have a reserved spot in the lower deck?

Anonymous said...

Mary Beth Baran is a former long-time downtown merchant who was the last City Hall employee hired BEFORE the freeze went into effect.

She was appointed to the board AFTER the decision to buy the Commons parking deck was made and AFTER the Pennoni contract was inked.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad this fool is not our congressman.

Anonymous said...

Callahan isn't giving Pawlowski the Lehigh Valley Worst Mayor of the Year award without a fight.

Anonymous said...

Man, who wants Callahan for Congress now? He seems so crooked. Bethlehem needs to dump this guy.

Anonymous said...

Recchiuti, Baran and Cantelmi were all unaware of the Nemes "firing". This was something Callahan concocted with his cronies. After Nemes was told by Hoffmeier that he was to resign by the end of the year, word got out to those three board members what had happened and they were shocked and dismayed. That they were left in the dark only angered them more.

If it had come to a true board vote, if it had gone through the proper channels - it never would have happened - Hector was never even given a bad or even lukewarm performance review.

What is astounding is that Callahan and his "advisors" didn't have the first clue as to Public Authority rules and regulations on dismissing a director. Arrogance at it's worst. This was a bungle of epic proportions.

Anonymous said...


If you double check, I'm sure y9ou will find out that BEDCO not the city really owned the parking deck.

It would be interesting to see the minutes of their meeting on this subject. Oh wait, they haven't met in 2010.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Mary Beth Baran is a former long-time downtown merchant who was the last City Hall employee hired BEFORE the freeze went into effect"

That may be, but the people who actually work for the City think she was hired after the freeze was in effect, and it's one of the reasons why they are so disgusted by Callahan.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Sounds like this Pennoni crew has an in with both Callahan and Stoffa. Nice insider workings."

The "in" with Stoffa was having the low bid. After that, they waxed up the County.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Parking garage cost overuns and nothing is said? Where is city council?"

I believe some members of City Council are looking into this.

Larry Kisslinger said...

I graduated LHS '62 with Hector! I know of no better citizen and very dedicated public servant. His chief attribute is that he knows how to treat people as fair as possible ever since he was Bethlehem City ombudsman B4 his BPA service. I think/know big mistake if we lose his public service, is my opinion.

Anonymous said...

First and foremost Bernie You need to know that Mr. Nemes in one of the most honest and sincere idividuals i have ever had the honor to come in contact with, His devotion to the Parking authority and it's employees is second to none, that being said..the Mayor on the other hand is by far one the most underhanded individuals I have ever come into contact with, the question is, is why council,the city controller NOONE holds this man accountable for any of his mis's time to call him out make him explain how grant money is unaccounted his brother inlaw got away with a DUI related accident involving a police vehicle with his girlfriend in the car and many more unanswered questions....comon people wake up this guy is going to drain our city dry!!!!!!!!

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

Why wouldn't Bethlehem want to double their parking rates?

Allentown did it a few years ago and just look at how successful it's been there. Downtown Allentown is sooooo safe and vibrant!

{Note to some readers: The above comment about Allentown is meant as sarcasm}

Anonymous said...


Hector is a great guy and certainly has done a good job with the Authority..It was a vast improvement over the knucklehead who ran the authority before him.
However, we should note that hector's appointment itself, by his longtime friend Cunningham, was completely political..He went from being a retired Steelworker to Director of the Parking Authority...Don't get me wrong..He's done a good job..However sometimes when you are a political appointee you need to understand you can get politically unappointed also..One really has no argument against removal if that's the case.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:10 beat me to the punch. Cunningham appointed a crony (Nemes) and he replaced a guy who was unpopular (Spitzer). Now, Clahan wants equal time...he wants his own crony in there, either because it's good pay, no work, or because he has an axe to grind with Nemes, or who knows what else....

Nemes has worked out because as others have said, he's a good guy for the most part and unlike some political appointees, he actually produces. You don't always get that with a hack.

To the person asking about Cantelmi, the hardware guy's dad and the funeral guy's dad were 1/2 brothers, for what it's worth.

Calahan- he's a rascally scalawag. He's close to being a n'er do well. He's fast becoming an embarassment.

If he has a hidden agenda for replacing Mr. Nemes, he simply loads the board and a simple majority does his bidding.

Voice of Reason

Anonymous said...

the mayor is a walking punch line, if the mayor had half the heart as hector he may of won, how ever most people see through fake b.s.ers hold your head high mr. nemes and shame on you johny bot

Anonymous said...

John Callahan, where to begin! He's a disgusting person, politician, and family man. His indiscretions are vulgar, both privately in his marriage and publicly as Mayor. Thank goodness he didn't win the election. That would have been a disaster. John thinks with areas other than his brain and when he does use his brain, he would be better off using the other part of his body. John has always had his own "agenda" on all levels both privately and publicly. He should do the City of Bethlehem a favor and go back to selling prescription least his B.S. probably worked there. Hector Nemes on the other hand, is totally the opposite of Callahan. He is true public servant and runs the B.P.A. with the utmost integrity while treating his employees with respect and fairness. Hector's desire to not retire is a good thing. How dare Callahan try to force his own agenda and throw out Hector just he can try to control one other area within the City. John, you should be ashamed of yourself. Do the City a favor and resign. We as taxpayers would all be better off without you running our City. John, you don't "own" the City of Bethlehem, you were appointed to that position. Stop trying to act as if you can control the City, us, and Hector Nemes.

sitizen said...

This is what the Mayor said about Mr. Nemes job performance a year and a half into him taking over the BPA..also,Callahan wanted to double meters and tickets,Hector said no way..and define 'crony',this town is so small,we're probably all related someway,I say "Hector for Mayor!

Parking Authority Employees - Support of Executive Director

Mr. Callahan said he wanted to call attention to a letter that Members of Council received from employees of the Parking Authority dated January 25, 2003. Recalling there had been controversy related to the appointment of Hector Nemes as Executive Director of the Parking Authority, Mr. Callahan commented he thought it would be fair to at least recognize the job that Mr. Nemes has done over the last year and a half and point out the positive position taken by employees of the Parking Authority since Mr. Nemes has held the position. Reading from the letter, Mr. Callahan noted the employees wanted to show their support and confidence in the Mayor's managerial endorsement of Mr. Nemes as Executive Director of the Parking Authority. They were pleased with the changes Mr. Nemes made in the staff as well as the effect it had on the image of being a "kindler and gentler Parking Authority", and they are confident that the direction he has taken will have a positive outcome on the future of the Parking Authority and its employees. Mr. Callahan continued on to say that the employees wanted to endorse Mr. Nemes in his position as Executive Director, and support his position. Mr. Callahan stated that he wanted to recognize Mr. Nemes for the job he has done over the last year and a half.

Mrs. Belinski expressed she is glad that Mr. Callahan recognized Mr. Nemes. Mrs. Belinski, noting that she is Council's liaison to the Parking Authority, pointed out that any resident who comes to the Parking Authority Board meetings is dealt with and the Board tries to accommodate the individuals. Mrs. Belinski remarked she can verify that it is truly a kindler, gentler Parking Authority.

Anonymous said...

"I learned late yesterday that Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan is trying to squeeze Nemes out and replace him with someone he can control"

This seems to be the theme at the City of Bethlehem. Every spineless loser that would rather follow this crowd gets to keep their job while all of the intelligent and independent public servants who are there for the right reasons get tossed out on their butts! Hector is a great guy, and to force him into retirement so that this slimy mayor can keep squeezing every last cent out of the residents here is BS... plain and simple.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Thanks for what seems like an excerpt from City Council minutes.

Anonymous said...

I Saw Daddy Kissing Miss Claus.
At a upscale Mall in Lower Saucon
Up on the rooftop quick quick quick
at that bar which shall remain anon
then off to Irving Berlins tittie bar blind drunk with his trusty elfen SAUCEmaster chief cook and bottle washer then back to the bar for more schmekkin' JUST NOT WITH THE WIFEY
Yeah he would have fit right in
I abhor Dent

why has Pennoni been banned from various state DOT contracts?
public record..look it up

Anonymous said...

look the mayor is a scum bag.......he has reached his political peak and this speaks nothing less that the reason why he lost his election . he would not even need to gain control of the b.p.a. if he had not toatally screwed up our, and i mean our, bugdet . my mom told me when i was young that when you point a finger at someone you have 4 more pointing at yourself, well , johnny boy, you have 4 pointed back at you. wow clinton was here stomping for this shot in the pants. he must of had no clue who this fake was, is ,or who will be no more soon. worst mayor in years, scumbag,liaer,immature,two faced,jerk..

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:08,

You said that about Pennoni once before. I spent some time trying to find any evidence that backs this up, and came up dry. Please give me a link - something - anything, to help me find hard evidence of what you say. That is relevant to beth Bethlehem and NC, where there are cost overruns.

Anonymous said...

Call Andrew Pennoni
he can give you the short list
although its' become quite long

Anonymous said...

Seems like Lucy parked her hummer and is doing a lot of posting. It is hard not to like Hector he is one hell of a guy. As far as the Authority goes that Spitzer guy was a freaking dictator and no one shed a tear when Don Cunningham 'moved" him out and put in Hector.

Lets keep it real folks, like a previous poster wrote Hector was a political appointee and that is the life you live as an appointee. Whether it is the City or the County people come and go. I have seen some great people get dumped because the new guy has a different set of people to placate. This has been the case in Northampton County and in the City of Bethlehem.

Don't forget Hector did crash an authority car a few years back and walked back to the party he left, no dui test no questions asked. As noted Hector jumped from working the line at the steel to running a city authority, that doesn't happen unless you have some heavies pulling for you.
I hope Hector stays but Hector has been around and knows how the game is played. If he has any cards to play I am sure he will play them. Maybe Don can intercede with Johnny C, on Hector's behalf.

Keep posting Lucy, God love ya.

Smoke Stroker

Anonymous said...

bus stop bench. come on Bernie.

Anonymous said...

"blah blah blah. More of the same from Bernie. Streeeeeeeetching facts and posing questions to create the look of corruption where they don't exist. It's interesting this blog is really a study in citizen lunacy. It's like the bench at the bus stop with the old stooges just rambling on about all the scourges of society. But really nothing is wrong, they are just grumpy and old and a little loony. This blog is the bus stop bench. And you're the male chauvinist who just wants to whistle at ladies and talk about how all races besides whites cause all the issues on the south side. Good work Bernard, you're quite the newsman."

reposting, because this applies here.

Anonymous said...

These fascist dildos are turning me into a criminal.... Im an innocent harmless grad student who is literally just be bent over and pummeled financially by these losers.... To the point where i can make ends meet and miss a car insurance payment thus got dropped and had a fender bender ... Lucky me .... a cop was behind me.... Now narleski is taking his turn on me without lubricant.... Moral is I am a peaceful productive member of society and the parking authority is turning me into a criminal and literally taking all my free money.... and then some more.... Who the hell gives them the right to ticket a tax paying citizen who fucking pay to build the road with has taxes but has no right to park his damn car unless he adheres to rediuculous 2 hour parking zones and 1 dollar per hour parking meters..... Listen some of us got a fucking job to do unlike you pricks at the parking authority who write tickets all day long and suck the livelihood out of the bethlehem residents.... You have no right.... I am going to start writng them parking tickets and see how the fuck they enjoy it.... I only feel hatred and animosity for the parking authority....The must be resist.... Resist the corrupt parking authority... Whatever happened to freedom and our taxes paying for roads so we can use them not be used by them for more money.... I literally hate that organization and would love to bring down the head hauncho.... aristocrat