Thursday, October 06, 2011

City Council Candidates Carroll, Simao Suffer Borderline Thuggery

Last Saturday, Bethlehem City Council candidates Tom Carroll and Tony Simao had breakfast at the Borderline, a popular greasy spoon located smack dab on the border between Allentown and Bethlehem. In fact, that's why I always thought it was called The Borderline. Now I'm wondering whether the name stands for borderline personality disorder, especially after hearing about how the diner's owner, Chris Valianatos, blew up at Bethlehem City Council candidates Tom Carroll and Tony Simao. Let me tell you the story.

In local races, Carroll and Simao know there's no substitute for pounding the pavement, especially in a race against Mayor John Callahan's machine. So last Saturday, after spam and eggs at The Borderline, they met a few volunteers and distributed those precious street lists, full of the names of super voters.

After a few hours of knocking on doors, Simao and Carroll returned to The Borderline for lunch. While there, Tony noticed some campaign material for other races, and could see a picture of Bill Clinton, who had visited the restaurant, proudly displayed. Tony decided to ask owner Chris Valianatos if he and Tom could serve coffee to customers the following Saturday. They'd get noticed while simultaneously helping the restaurant keep nasty caffeine addicts like me from going postal, early in the morning.

"Of course!" answered Valianatos, who told his hostess she'd have some help the following week.

Yesterday, Carroll and Simao asked the local party to send an email to its distribution list, asking for volunteers on Saturday and Sunday. Here's what it looked like.


SATURDAY
October 8th

MEET UP AT
The Borderline Restaurant
**** West Union Blvd.
 10:00 a.m.
Where Tony and Tom will be serving coffee
You will be with a group of other folks
Who want real reform in Bethlehem

The email identifies Borderline as their rendezvous point, but makes no claim that the restaurant or its owner endorses them. You could argue that letting them serve coffee is an implied endorsement, but many restaurants do that sort of thing. As long as it brings in business, that's all that matters to them.

Here's where things get weird. On Wednesday afternoon, while Carroll and Simao were working on their campaigns, Carroll got a call. A former prosecutor, he instinctively put it on speaker phone when he realized what was happening, so Simao heard every word.

On the other end of the line was a very angry Chris Valianatos. He may have been gleaming the last time he had seen Tony and Tom, but was a completely different person on the phone. He was livid that the two City Council candidates would send a "flyer" (it was an email) mentioning his restaurant.

According to both Simao and Carroll, Valianatos made these statements: "You fuckin' put my name on a flyer ... You put my business on a flyer ... I'm going to fuck you up ... You're going down ... This is illegal ... Callahan is my best friend ... Bill Clinton has been here ... I'm a good Democrat ... You fooled with the wrong person ... I'm going to take you out ... You don't know who the fuck you messed with."

While Valianatos screamed and cursed, Carroll was unable to get a word in. Eventually, Valianatos hung up on him. A few minutes later, Caroll called again, but it was just more of the same, with Valianatos hanging up again.

Simao told me afterwards that he knew running for office would be interesting, "but I didn't think it would ever get to the point of physical threats being thrown around." Especially from a restaurateur.

Was there some misunderstanding, or was Valianatos catching heat from the Callahan machine?

When contacted, Valianatos told me he had no problem with Simao and Carroll serving coffee at his restaurant, but objected to ther email mentioning his restaurant's name without his permission. "Now all the Blackberry people have it," he complained.

He denied stating that Callahan is his best friend, stating that he instead told them Callahan is a "frequent patron." While that might be true, FEC records indicate that Valianatos is a "frequent" Callahan contributor. He gave Hizzoner $3,700 for his failed Congressional bid.

Getting Clinton to drop in must have been expensive.

When I asked him whether he had made the remarks reported to Simao and Carroll, he hung up on me. I called back, and he told me that Simao and Carroll could talk to his attorney, and hung up again.

Unfortunately, I never got a chance to ask Valianatos who in Callahan's machine leaned on him, although it's obvious that's exactly what happened.

It's what's wrong in Bethlehem.

The rendezvous point has been changed from the Borderline to Perkins on Route 191. Simao and Carroll have just sent an email to everyone stating to forget about meeting up at "the restaurant whose name shall not be mentioned," but they mentioned Perkins.

I sure hope the owner there isn't Callahan's best friend, too.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Borderline is going to be sold to a consortium founded by the late Sammy Davis Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald.

It will be called Sam 'n' Ella.

Anonymous said...

"Now all the Blackberry people have it!"

Yeah, goddamn it! Now all the Blackberry people have it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Now all those damn Blackberry people will have my blog about it, too. I think I'll take myself out.

Anonymous said...

That's how we in the Callahan gang roll. Got a problem with that sunshine?

Anonymous said...

I will never eat there

Anonymous said...

Hey Bernie,

You noted that the candidates did this weekend before, did they send an invitation out then? You do note that the name of the restaurant on the e-mail/flyer could denote an endorsement. It also includes the language about real reform in Bethlehem, again indicating the owner might believe real reform is needed. Don't you think it advisable that they should have at least run the e-mail past the owner of the establishment before sending it out? It seems like common courtesy. I am an owner of a restaurant and allow this to happen, but I would be angry at the invitation denoting real reform is needed. From reading the invitation it seems to imply that I as the owner agree with the position of the candidates. As you note, the invitation was not approved by the owner. This would annoy me especially if I disagree with it.
I think the invitation was poorly done and placed the owner of the establishment in an unfair position. Just my opinion as a business owner.

Anonymous said...

This is terrible. Odd that Borderline's owner would act like this as he's hosted other "fringe" groups. Will think twice about going there again for breakfast.
Terrible to speak that way!

Anonymous said...

much ado bout nuthin. the folks in the wrong here were the folks who sent out the email. you NEVER put anything political in print about a business without first running it by the owner.

NEVER.

Anonymous said...

The email was sent out to a private list. It simply requested people help knock on doors. It notified people of the meeting place to meet and start knocking on doors. It was not a Flyer. It in no way suggests or implies anyone endorses anyone. I just said that the candidates will be serving coffee and if you want to help knock on doors meet them there.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that the owner extended the invitation for them to serve coffee. He knew they were candidates and he knew what side they are on. He has literature for a candidate in a Lehigh County race on the counter. That person is a Republican while the owner is a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry as a Bethlehem business owner the language in the e-mail/flyer says "Where Tony and Tom will be serving coffee
You will be with a group of other folks
Who want real reform in Bethlehem" As an owner it implies that my restaurant is full of people who want real reform in Bethlehem. If it were my business it would have been a simple come meet Tony and Tom two city council candidates. The e-mail is poorly drafted and the intent was to imply something that appears to be not true. I can understand why the owner was upset when he saw the e-mail. I would be too. A business owner has every right to put out information about candidates he supports if he wants too and invite candidates to have functions in his restaurant. I think the candidates here were in the wrong with the message that was conveyed in the e-mail. And the notion that it was e-mailed to a private list makes it ok is absurd. It was a blunder and the candidates should apologize to the business owner for sending out the e-mail. I would want the same thing.

Anonymous said...

If the owner had just called to have a discussion about it, it would have ended there. "Someone" had to put their thumb down on this guy which resulted in a threatening, gross over-reaction on his part. Only then did it become a big deal. Peeling the onion is smelly business in Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about "putting a thumb down on the guy". If he is a Callahan friend and supporter as noted by Bernie, then he should be upset by what is in the e-mail. You also presume that the candidates are telling the truth. I've never known a politician to be honest.

Anonymous said...

So, in your house, the language that was used and the tenor of the call registers as "upset"? Must be interesting in your world. It's a big stretch for the owner's reaction to be made public if they are lying...c'mon now.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anon 9:28! Is Callahan honest then?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted an OT comment posted by Tricia Mezzacappa. I have previously told her that her comments are unwelcome on this blog.

Anonymous said...

This stuff is better than television, thanks Bern:)

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:49,

The weekend before this, there was a meet-up outside borderline and Tom and Tony did send an email to their own friends and supporters and certainly did mention the restaurant.

The email sent yesterday went to a larger audience and was sent by the local party.

I certainly could see how a business owner might be concerned that the email implies he endorses them, although I think the name was mentioned only so people would know where to rendezvous. I do think it would have been wise to tell the owner about the email.

But the reaction of the owner, which includes cursing, vague threats and references to this Callahan ties, was totally inappropriate to what had happened. It makes me think someone leaned on him. In fact, the way the owner hung up on me tells me all I need to know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I will add that I have sometimes met people at this diner. I will never go there again.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"You also presume that the candidates are telling the truth. I've never known a politician to be honest."

This reminds me of a comment once made by Lincoln, who was complaining about politicians in his high-pitched, Midwest twang.

"Mr. Chairman, This movement is exclusively the work of politicians, a set of men who have interests aside from the interests aside from the people and who, to say the most of them, are taken as a mass at least one long step from being honest men.

"I say this with greater freedom because, being a politician myself, nobody can regard it as personal."

Anonymous said...

This wasn't a "private" list folks. I was a member of the LCRC four years ago, and I received the same email. I also haven't contributed, signed up, endorsed, or even spoken with these candidates.

You can disagree with Mr. Valianatos' strong language, but he has every reason to be angry. He has seemingly cultivated political relationships in the Valley, and this poorly worded and unapproved mass-distribution email could sever those.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then perhaps he never should have agreed to allow them to serve coffee. How are they going to tell their supporters without telling them where to go?

No, although I'll agree that they perhaps should have cleared this email with the business being mentioned, they may have thought that was implied when the owner agreed to allow them to serve coffee.

I believe the owner acted as he did bc someone called him to complain.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I will add that the owner's behavior to me was totally inappropriate. I can guarantee that he severed a few business relationships as a result of his boorish conduct. I will never go there again, and will tell people I am meeting for lunch r breakfast to rendezvous at Bethlehem Diner, where the food is better and cheaper anyway.

R Yanc said...

What went down between the woman from west easton and yourself? Not too long ago she seemed like a trusted confidant and a very vocal supporter of all of your opinions, now she is persona non grata. This has got to be one hell of a story. I realize that you are smart and won't spill the beans but some of us find it quite intriguing .

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

Good thing that they weren't holding a birthday party at the restaurant.

It would've sucked to get an angry call from the owner telling them that the invitation implied that HE was also wishing the person a HAPPY birthday.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"R Yan," I wrote a blog about what happened. Read it. I consider any comment on that matter as OT.

Anonymous said...

Shit, I love Bethlehem Diner, now I am screwed. O'Hare and Angle and their lunatic buddies will now be lounging around for hours with a cup of coffee.

I know the owner and will be sure he is appropriately warned of this coming infestation!

Anonymous said...

Now here is Anon 5:37 making a nasty politcal slur on what is truly a public blog.

It tells us that he gets to pick who is allowed at the Bethlhem Diner. I will forward this to owners so that they know Republicans are not welcome in their establishment.

Anonymous said...

I love the place. I got a hummer there and left a present on the bathroom floor. I plan to come again.

Warm regards,
Bill Clinton

Anonymous said...

This is too bad. The Borderline is a nice place for breakfast, and Chris is such a nice guy. I couldn't imagine him yelling at someone like that.

"Now all the blackberry people have it."

Priceless comment.

Anonymous said...

The invitation was fine. THey just said that they were going to be at the Borderline. The guy should have appreciated any extra business that came out of it.

As long as you offer the same opportunity to everyone, who cares?

A lot of these small restaurant owners put everybody's sign in their window. Same principle.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Valley Republican Ramblings.

Yeah, Callahan "leaned" on him. Your imagination is very vivid, I have to hand it to you.

Anonymous said...

I will add that I have sometimes met people at this diner. I will never go there again.

Of course not. It's a business that supports Democrats. You are a died in the wool Republican.

Anonymous said...

I will never go there again, and will tell people I am meeting for lunch r breakfast to rendezvous at Bethlehem Diner, where the food is better and cheaper anyway.

Talk about petty bullshit. Insulting the man's food now simply because he is a Democrat.

Anonymous said...

it's ok Bernie, I'm pretty sure you would not be welcome there anyway so no real threat on your part.

I wonder why I never got jumped into this thugerish "gang" yet...LOL...you write some classic out of reality pieces sometimes.

Seamus

Anonymous said...

"Now all the blackberry people have it."

Priceless comment.

7:52 AM

Or, maybe, if one is worried about standing with the dems . . .

"Now all the INS people have it?"

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Insulting the man's food now simply because he is a Democrat."

No, I was ne der crazy about the place to begin with, but his party has nothing to do with this. It's his thuggery.

Anonymous said...

Well maybe he is opposed to your buggery. People in glass houses and all.

Anonymous said...

re:
MEET UP AT
The Borderline Restaurant
**** West Union Blvd. 10:00 a.m.

Chris can try to spin that email anyway he wants but that email only shows "The Borderline" as the meeting place. If I do a seminar on "How to Shoot a Rifle" at the Marriott that does not mean that the Marriott supports shooting a gun - AFRAID NOT!! duh, Callahan put pressure on that "big" Chris that is a no-brainer and Chris is a weakling and didn't stand up for himself and instead made a fool of himself. What a jerk Chris was to go bullistic and make a mountain out of a "mole hill". DIRTY POLITICS! MAYBE CALLAHAN IS SCARED THAT HIS CITY COUNCIL "RUBBER STAMPERS" WILL BE GETTING SOME NEW, DECENT PEOPLE ON CITY COUNCIL THAT WON'T GIVE IN TO HIS CORRUPT DEALINGS. Go Tony, Al, and Tom and WIN, WIN, WIN and show them all that FAIR and DECENT and not financially destroying the residents of Bethlehem MATTERS to people!

Anonymous said...

what a joke "The BLACKBERRY" people!!! HA HA HA, WTF Is Chris stupidio? I can publish in a newspaper a meeting without showing or getting approval from them to publish the article as long as I have the approval of the establishment to hold the meeting there. GIVE ME A BREAK - CHRIS IS A BIG JERK AND FLIP-FLOPPER!!!