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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Att'y Blake Marles Argues Against Single Waste Hauler in Bethlehem

After several years of watching municipal bodies, I can tell you with some certainty that you'll be hard put to find a better advocate before them than Bethlehem Attorney Blake Marles. He's a good guy to have in the foxhole with you. His patrician appearance alone will give your cause gravitas. He knows the Municipalities Planning Code inside out, and prepares.

Isn't that cheating?

Sterner Sanitation, a fourth generation trash hauler with 3,000 customers in Bethlehem, has retained Marles to represent their interests in connection with Mayor John Callahan's proposal to centralize trash collection under one hauler. His most troubling argument, at least to me, is that the City may lack the legal authority to take a slice of the single hauler contract to help pay for its underfunded pension. He calls it "legally suspect."

Here's the letter he sent to Bethlehem City Council:

Marles Argument Against Single Waste Hauler in Bethlehem


Anonymous said...

Marles is correct about any excess monies being legally suspect, and the situations in Allentown and Bethlehem are surprisingly similar.

A fee (such as water, sewer or trash fees) has to closely approximate the service being provided. If it does not, it is illegal.

This is why Pawlowski is going through the gyration of "leasing" the system to a third party. Ultimately, I think the lawyers will have a field day picking both Allentown and Bethlehem's plans apart, at great expense to City taxpayers.

I think it will be particularly so in Allentown if the "lease" results in rate increases to surrounding municipalities that buy Allentown water or sewer capacity.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I doubt this will pass, so the tax increase will stay intact or go up. A majortiy of city council seem to have already passed on the idea.

Assuming that happens, how do you assess the County Executive race next year. Callahan is definitly in. Apparetnly Glenn Reibman is running, as strange as that sounds. Also people very close to Lamont McClure claim he is in fact running. I have no idea what is going on with the Republicans.

I have been told Seyfried,Panto, Grucela, Heckman and others mentioned in the past are not running.

So given the the trash and tax issue, do you think it gives a chance to either McClure or
Reibman? Or do you think they are longshots at best?

Serious question, since you have been around like forever.

Bernie O'Hare said...


Although a single trash hauler seems like a no-brainer to me, it appears that Callahan lacks the votes. I think DiGiacinto and Belinski are definite Nos. Evans and Donchez seem to be leaning against it. This will result in a higher tax hike next year.

The three names I hear on the D side are the same you are hearing. I believe McClure is really just a stalking horse for Reibman. It will be Callahan v. Reibman, and Reibman will be crushed.

Yes, they will resurrect all the Dent ads, but Reibman is no Charlie Dent, and time has passed since that election. City finances have improved. The Mayor has become more willing to take the lead on issues, even controversial ones like single hauler. He has been far more accountable and transparent.

Reibman is running from a state patronage job he's about to lose with the bridge commission, so he wants to pad his pension. He is the man who gave us a 70% tax hike, who drove employees into the arms of 11 unions, whose right-hand man went to jail for bribery and who gave us a $25 million swaption. Even 8 years later, he is despised. And don't get me started on that $11 MM bond.

The only name I hear from the Rs is Cusick and he will be crushed, too. I think it will be a Democratic year, and Peg Ferraro is the only R who will likely win if she chooses to run for Council again.

If Jerry Seyfried were to run, he'd win without spending a nickel. He has not ruled it out and will decide early next year. I think it's more likely he will seek a Council seat. He and Ron Heckman would really be good.

Thierry and Gilbert are likely not running, so those will be two open seats. If he runs for Exec and Council simultaneously, Cusick is setting himself up for attacks, since he knows he can;t do both. Dietrich, who has displayed all the qualities of an idiot in his four years on Council, has worn out his welcome and has done nothing to distinguish himself in that time. Instead, he tried to steer some contingency money to his pals and got caught accusing Angle of bribery in the middle of a public meeting, for which he received a turkey.

So I think that there will really be 4 open seats on Council. Heckman and Seyfried will get two if they want them. Stoffa could decide to run, and don't count him out in a Council race. Charles Dertinger will run. But I think we have enough union representation in the county. Bill Wallace will run, but he can't win and is too close to Dertinger.

I'd like to see some fresh faces. I am talking to someone who is interested, but it's too early to go into detail. I would want this person to meet Jerry, Stoffa, Parsons, Werner, Kraft. I think they will like this person, who has demonstrated a lot of dignity and class under fire.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the side that demands choice to abort babies is hellbent on denying choice of garbage haulers. Hands off my trash!

Anonymous said...

Galioto should run for Council. Smart guy.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem can easily show that their total waste removal program (recycling, trash, compost) costs more than the fee. The fee would free up other revenue currently funding those programs for other use.
Your pal Sal has been using that fee in Easton for years to fund general fund stuff.

Anonymous said...

Bethlehem should decriminalize marijuana, be the first in the state to grow it, sell it and tax it!

Anonymous said...

But Jon Geeting said a single hauler is the way to go, and we'd just show ourselves to be country idiots yet again if we don't?

Shouldn't we do whatever Geeting tells us without question? After all, he is a policy wonk and has almost hit puberty.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, I think single hauler is a no-brainer myself. But I love the "Choice" argument.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bethlehem can easily show that their total waste removal program (recycling, trash, compost) costs more than the fee. The fee would free up other revenue currently funding those programs for other use."

Duh. I had completely forgotten about the composting aspect, on which the City has seen a 40% drop in state funding over the last 2 years.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Galioto should run for Council. Smart guy."

And a fresh face, unlike Dertinger and Wallace.

Mark Baker said...

Marbles is against single hauler because he is bing paid to be against it. Lawyers will present any argument, even a weak one as long as they are paid to do so. thus all lawyers are whores.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well, we all aim to please.

Anonymous said...

If there is one thing people see as completely irrelevant, it's county government. I don't doubt 98% of the people in Northampton County could not name the executive let alone anyone on the council. Yet that seems to be the sole focus of the blog. Weird.

It is amusing to see the Mayor so praised on this blog. No more "Johnny Casino" or other nonsense.

As for single hauler, the last poster insinuated people were being paid off. I would not be the least bit surprised. It's the only logical explanation for so many being "opposed" to something with such common sense.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, I do tend to focus on county government, and make no apology for it. County government plays a very important role in our lives, as does all local government. And we can have an impact on that, unlike what happens in Harrisurg and DC.

Also, I am by no means praising Callahan. I am being honest and calling things the way I see them. I do think he has made great strides in City finances, transparency and accountability.

I'll even praise Steve Barron if i think he is right. And i will criticize John Stoffa or Ron Angle when I think they are wrong. Is that so hard to understand?

If you would rather read about what you think is popular, pick up a copy of the Enquirer.

Anonymous said...

You will soon be given the real story and the truth about single hauler in bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

Galioto is said to be a head bobber for Callahan. No thank you. We just endured a few years of head bobbers for Sgtoffa. No more of those.

Anonymous said...

County government just doesn't effect people's lives unless you are interested in courts and prisons. That's all I'm saying.

Anonymous said...

How bout the 2 guys from Bangor? Brown for exec and Capo for council.

Anonymous said...

Add Angle in there A-B-C

Paul Kersey said...

And what would that be? I think the Mayor has been pretty clear on what the funds would be used for. Probably another trash hauler trying to instill fear with no facts to base them on. I love how these haulers make it out to be like they will all go out of business. Like none of them collect trash outside of Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

Capo9 os an Angle puppet and Dem's don't want that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"County government just doesn't effect people's lives unless you are interested in courts and prisons. That's all I'm saying."

And you are mistaken. The County does much more than that. Bridges, open space, economic development, elections, and a host of vital human services, from aging to MH/MR. Most regional ideas originate on the county level as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Galioto is said to be a head bobber for Callahan."

That will be news to them both. Randy is Mayor Panto's former campaign manager and is like a son to him. An architect, he would give Council some expertise in its capital projects.

Anonymous said...

"Open space" - a perfect example of the non-essential services.

Anonymous said...

You are right..It has no chance of passing..I think its comical that they hired an attorney who council could care less about, to write a letter for them(or him if it's only Sterner). I could have done the same and save dSterner alot of money..It's done, it's toast, never happen..Callahan might get 2 votes on this..

Anonymous said...

When Willie Reynolds is Mayor, we will get single hauler.

Anonymous said...

The letter sent by the Att'y to city council should be published in te newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that Atiyeh's lawyer? That letter lacks credibility. Enough said.