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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Bethlehem City Council Prez Donchez to Seek Re-Election

Bethlehem is in serious trouble. It is swimming in debt, has finished the last two years in the red, and perhaps worst of all, has an administration that hides things from Council, usually costing them and the public. As recently as yesterday, I told you that a Callahan-controlled Bethlehem Parking Authority recently spent $1.6 million to buy a parking deck valued at only $675,000. When Executive Director Hector Nemes complained and refused to go along with this sweetheart deal, he was squeezed out.

You might think it's time to get out the broom and make a clean sweep on Bethlehem City Council, which has often been the third wheel on the bicycle heading over the cliff. But I think Bethlehem is lucky to have a man like Bob Donchez as a public servant. He's an honest man, which is an increasingly rare commodity in government.

Donchez reminds me of Northampton County Executive John Stoffa. Parents Irene Mayer Donchez and late City Detective John J. Donchez, obviously impressed Bob with the importance of being truthful, even when it hurts. I saw that when Bob testified in a prosecution several years ago.

Like Stoffa, Donchez tends to look for the good in other people. Yes, he can get burned doing that, just like our County Executive. But this belief in the basic decency of others is a classic Bethlehem attitude, and one that sets its Council apart from every other municipal body in the Lehigh Valley.

Don't look for Donchez to confront Callahan over his mismanagement, but he will work quietly to fix the problem. Although I prefer the "in your face" approach of Ron Angle, Donchez might get better results in the long run. True, his style makes life boring for bottom-feeding bloggers like me, but I can simply lie and claim .

Donchez announced yesterday that he will seek a fifth term to Council in the May Primary Election. First elected in 1995, Donchez id now the President of City Council. His focus over the next four years will be public safety, fiscal responsibility, economic development and neighborhood preservation and accessibility.

A retired teacher who taught American Government for thirty-five years at William Allen High School, Bob is Chief of Staff to State Representative Joseph Brennan and also serves on the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Policing. He's served on an alphabet soup of boards, from the Zoning Hearing Board to the Elections Commission.

He's a member of St. Anne’s Catholic Church, is married to Jayne A. Miller Donchez and is the father of two children, Robert and Kristen. You can find his web page here.

In my post about Republican candidates, some of you claimed you were turned off by Tony Simao's patriotic tie. Will the American flag superimposed behind Bob annoy you, too?

Below are Bob's accomplishments on Council and a resume.

Bob Donchez Accomplishments

Bob Donchez. Resume 2011


Bobbie Peeler said...

I kind of feel that Mr. Donchez is too good of a person to be involved with those clowns. He seems to be THERE for the right reasons...the rest are there for vanity, ego you know the spoils of power.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He is a class act, and even his Republican opponents claim they are not running against him.

Anonymous said...

Bob is a fence sitter. He wants to be loved, hates any confrontation and as a result can only make a decision after six years and five or six hundred committee meetings.

He wants to be Mayor but if you are to slam Bethlehem and any shenanigans, you can't escape looking at Bob Donchez. He has been there since the sabre tooth tiger and rarely has he taken on any controversial issues or raised any rd flags until long after the damage was done. Bob is a nice guy but we really need a strong leader in Bethlehem who can get things done and make things happen, that is not Bobs strong suit.

We realize you like him because of the Brennan connection but as a leader, he is the last choice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

My admiration of Bob Donchez is not connected in any way to my admiration of Joe Brennan. I also happen to admire Steve Samuelson, but don't care much for J Willie Reynolds. I admire Alycia Karner, a former Boscola aide, but I don't think much of Lisa.

I think some of your criticism is very fair and agree he could be more confrontational. But it's just not his style. He's more like Stoffa.

He is running for City Council, not Mayor. Were he to run for Mayor, he'd need a real bastard in there to collect heads. Someone like that bastard Hickey.

But Donchez really is the good face of Bethlehem. He's honest, unassuming and looks for the goodness in others. That's his style, and I respect it.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:02 hit the nail on the head.

he is a good man but he is part of the problem.he has sat by for years and let cunningham and callahan drive the city into a major sinkhole. he has accepted their continual lies and BS. NOW is the time for him to grow some and do something about the financial mess the city is in.Stop the shenanigans. Start cleaning it up now because everyone knows he will run for mayor when (Thank GOD) callahan leaves.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Donchez is a nice man. But playing nice with the likes of callahan and his corrupt crew does not work. They proved this once again when they removed money at the first of the year from the FRED fund to pay other bills. They had promised not to do this again but they lied and then told the council after the fact.

being polite hasn't and will not work in the future, time for council to act resposibilely. but that will not happen because the vast majority are callahan cloned clowns with rubber stamps.

Anonymous said...

"...even his Republican opponents claim they are not running against him."

There are three of them...one of them would need to run against him.

Anonymous said...

the anonymous tea party crew shows up to blast somebody for being nice, claiming taht being nice is not acceptable in politics.

all three republicans will lose with that mentality in bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

He is a nice guy...but remember Leo Durocher.

In my opinion, only one current councilman has what it takes (DiGiacinto) because he is new, because he has a common-sense business background and because he has already demonstrated that he will not play along with corrupt liars.

I say replace all other six members. This fish is rotten from the head down.


The Battle Cry of Freedom said...

Bethlehem has been putting progressives on Council and in the Mayor's office for a very long tiime. Major problems appeared with Cunningham, who showed his true colors at the County Council meeting last year, followed by Callahan who is twice as bad and has a very dark side as to his personal life. But this is a town, much like Nazareth, where they sit around singing happy songs while the town goes to hell right before their very eyes. Let me assure you it is not going to get better. Anonymous 1:02 is correct, Donchez has been there all this time and is part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

NICE guys finish last and usually take all the good people with them, Donchez cannot make a decision to save his ass!!!! Its time to step up and help the good people of Bethlehem.....Many of good hard working people have lost their jobs thanks to callahan..its time he goes comon council with the leadership of a GOOD MAN YOU COUNCIL can oust this lying! cheating ! Loser CALLAHAN

Larry Kisslinger said...

Bob Donchez is honest as the day is long. I'd rather have honesty and mild confrontation as Bob is want to, and has done over his years of public service. He asks questions but doesn't throw handgrenades should be OK enough! Nobody should be running "against" any other candidate in this race! New office seekers should simply be vying for vacancy left by Mowrer, is my opinion.

Anonymous said...

"Bob Donchez is honest as the day is long. I'd rather have honesty and mild confrontation as Bob is want to, and has done over his years of public service."

Meanwhile, Rome burns.

The most deadly serpent is one that doesn't announce its presence. It's easy to curry favor with the public when you never appear to stand for anything.

Everyone wants to brag about development and bringing jobs to the City of Bethlehem, but yet the Council has done nothing but put roadblocks in front of development. Stop picking on Zoning and Planning Commission as the root of Bethlehem's problems, start listening to the other advisory boards within the City, and confront the Administration on how it has nearly bankrupted the City.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem needs change and Bob represents the opposite. Four terms is enough. Perhaps he should relax, wreck a car or two, and hop into the nearest bar with Joe Brennan to have a drink.

Seriously, though, we've had enough of the same gang.

Anonymous said...

Although Mr. O'Hare stated that even the 3 Republican Candidates are not running against Donchez, the truth is that they are not running against any individual. They are running to fill 3 spots. It's not about individual personalities, it's about the issues. There are 3 positions open and 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans have announced their desire to win those spots.

Anonymous said...

I could put a pair of pants on an upside down mop and if its name was Donchez it would win any election in the city of Bedlam.

Anonymous said...

I'll drink to that!

Joe B.

Anonymous said...

"Nice" rarely serves the interests of taxpayers. Wayne Grube thought over-expenditures were "nice." Nice is what landed Gracedale in its current state. "Nice" usually ignores financial realities that are often not nice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Look, There's nothing wrong with Joe's driving. That mounted cop he hit last night did not have his tail lights and was shitting on Joe's car.

Joe had a fender bender. He gets treated like Jack the Ripper. Callahan just managed to have the City BPA pay $1.6 MM for a tract worth $676,000. No story. His brother-in-law sends a cop to the hospital. No story. What do you think is more important?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The most deadly serpent is one that doesn't announce its presence. It's easy to curry favor with the public when you never appear to stand for anything."

Love the poetry of this well-written paragraph. Look, my style is very confrontational. Angle's style is even more confrontational, and he is criticized for being divisive, etc.

Bob Donchez has his own style. Maybe he could be a little more confrontational, but he has to be himself. e seems to have accomplished pretty much in his years of service, and he does view it as service. I respect the man.

Anonymous said...

He has given his time. However, I don't think his being there has resulted in anything significant.

In trying to be everything to everybody he has been nothing of substance. he feels because he has put in time he should naturally be Mayor.

It is a very public school worker way of viewing life.

By the way Brennan has had a few fender benders. Rushing in for a beer and burger after an auto accident is not normal, it is odd. It is also a keen way to screw up a DUI test. Of course any other citizens would have had the test done on them anyway.

Just say-in

Bernie O'Hare said...

Two fender benders. Both very minor accidents. Let's see what's odd. You have an accident. Cops are called. You're waiting. Cops aren't there. There's a Dunkin' Donuts across the street, so you wait there. Is that odd? Let's say there is no Dunkin' Donuts but there's a pub, so you go there and wait. Is that odd? Do you think it would be on the first page of two papers the next day if it were you?

Joe is a state rep and lives in a fish bowl and should be subjected to scrutiny, but I'm having a hard time believing that this means much of anything. There's certainly no evidence that he was drunk. I looked into this, by the way. The officer investigating this matter did not even know Joe was a state rep. He was not treated favorably and I think he has to go to driving school or something like that.

I'll tell you what I think. Driving day after day along 78 to Harrisburg is grueling. It is a boring, monotonous drive. On a regular basis, I could never do it. Joe does it bc he wants to see his children every day he can. I think that with all the miles he puts in, he has been a little reckless on the road. But I'm not reading anything more than that into it.

Doc Rock said...

Key election issue will be unfunded pension liabilities. Where has Donchez (and the rest of councils past and present) been on this issue? Are they willing to raise property taxes to fully fund the city's pension liabilities? If so, when?

Anonymous said...


Bethlehem is actually pretty good in the pension department, surprisingly.

Anonymous said...

Key question of any "veteran" council-person. This leaves out DiGiacinto:

"Why did you allow the last two mayors to lead the city down such a ruinous path?"

I'll bet that most of them are "nice guys"...conceeded.... now stop with the "he's a nice guy defense".

Is he competent? Is he paying attention?

when I go to the bank, I don't stand in line hoping that the cute teller waits on me. I want the one who can count.


Anonymous said...

I have never commented on any blog, I just truly enjoy reading them (Bernie for Mayor!), however I feel compelled to comment on this conversation. Anyway, as a City of Bethlehem employee I want everyone to know that President Donchez is perhaps the one council member who is concerned the MOST about his constituents. I am not particularly involved with ANY politics within City Hall, I am just a everyday worker who serves the City of Bethlehem, therefore I receive no award or recognition for making this comment.

Mr. Donchez is well known around City Hall for issuing his infamous memos where he wants explanations for certain situations occurring around the City. He attends various block watch meetings and really listens to what the people want. Although sometimes we all get fustrated with the continual memos and need for explanation, in the end we all know he is just trying to protect those he serves.

Although some may say he is not confrontational, please know that he is perhaps the ONLY ONE watching out for the public good.

All City of Bethlehem Residents should thank him for his continual dedication!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I thank you for that informative accolade. It paints Donchez as someone who again reminds me of Stoffa.

As for my political aspirations, I said long ago that even I would never vote for me. I'd be terrible.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mrs. Donchez for that heartfelt tribute to your husband. I apologize for Mr. O'Hare comparing your husband to Mr. Stoffa. Last I checked he never promoted selling the elderly housing in Bethelehm to some Arab company for cold cash. Hopefully Bob, unlike Stoffa, will be known for more than just dumping the most fragile citizens of his constituency for cash to balance his mismanaged budget.

Truth over BS!

Stan Bialecki said...

"First elected in 1995, Donchez he is now the President of City Council. His focus over the next four years will be public safety, fiscal responsibility, economic development and neighborhood preservation and accessibility."
May be a very nice man. But, Has not been able to help the city for the last 15 years.

He may be part of the city's problems and not the solution.