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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How I Rate NorCo Council Candidates


1) Gerald (Jerry) Seyfried. - A former Executive, former Council member and former cabinet level official, I know nobody more knowledgeable about the County than he. Jerry claims Amanda Seyfried gets her good looks from him.

2) Ron Heckman. - This former Council member and former cabinet level official claims I have a shrine at my estate, containing candlelit portraits of Charlie Dent, Ron Angle and John Stoffa. And he's right!

3) Deb Hunter. - She's run once before and barely lost, but has continued attending meetings and even participated in the County's first ever Citizen Academy. She is an independent thinker, and like any good teacher, does her homework.

4) Kerry Myers - Unlike most of today's crop of politicos, this man has spent his adult life as a volunteer. In his case, it has mostly been in youth sports. He brings passion and a pledge to remember our veterans.

5) Christen Borso. -  She has been attending meetings for months, is a well-recognized business person who can bring that perspective to Council, and is another grad of the Citizen Academy.

6) Bill Wallace. - Intelligent and personable, Bill is just too partisan. I question whether he can play nice with Republicans. All of his activity has been party-oriented.

7) Jason Toedter. - This guy thinks voters should elect him because he has a Master's Degree.

8) Tom O'Donnell. - Ill-informed, cranky and divisive.


1) Peg Ferraro. - I am still very upset over the way she deposed Ron Angle. But she has the experience and, in many respects, is often the wisest member on NorCo Council. Being objective, she'd have to be rated highest.

2) Seth Vaughn. - This Physician's Assistant threw a big scare into Ken Kraft in the district race two years ago. Like Ken, he's a Marine. He's also an Iraq War vet, and brings that perspective along with his medical knowledge. Vaughn regularly attends Council meetings as well.

3) Glenn Geissinger. - Like Democrat Kerry Myers, Geissinger is known for volunteerism. Like Republican Frank Hesch, he runs a small business. A former Bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Geissinger has been a regular attendee at Council meetings.

4) Frank Hesch. - A co-founder of the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce, he is a well-regarded small businessman, the kind of Republican we all tend to admire.

5) Mat Benol. - Despite his Libertarian and tea party leanings. Benol is no extremist. He listens to what others say, and attempts to build a consensus. He is a frequent meeting attendee.

6) Hayden Phillips. - A retired marine colonel, Phillips is a tea party member. I have seen no evidence that he's really mounted any sort of campaign.

7) Tricia Mezzacappa. - Racist. Disorderly conduct conviction after a borough hall tirade that included death threats against an elected official.Currently faces harassment charges for impersonating a third person and deceiving voters that she had his support. Her account at The Express Times was suspended afyer she repeatedly posted this death fantasy about me: "Deep breath, aim, shoot, and....one hollow point goes right through his skull, he's dead before he hit the ground, kersplat....PERFECT" She has a Master's degree.

Rumor: NorCo Ct Administrator Jim Onembo to Step Down

According to the rumor mill, embattled Northampton County Court Administrator Jim Onembo is retiring June 1.

Reynolds: Donchez "Fear Mongering" About Bethlehem Finances

Willie Reynolds inside the belly of the Pi
Last December, when Bethlehem City Council adopted a 7% tax hike, both Willie Reynolds and Bob Donchez agreed it was the "most difficult budget" that each had ever faced as members of Council. Reynolds added, "It's only going to get more difficult." Now that both Donchez and Reynolds are running for Mayor, Reynolds claims that Bethlehem is a "strong city," thanks in no small measure to the way it has managed finances. At a news conference yesterday afternoon, he claimed that Donchez paints a "sad picture of our financial situation." He then accused him of "fear mongering."

I'd accuse him of being realistic. This year,pensions will cost Bethlehem $11.1 million. To put that in perspective, it's 55% higher than it was the year before. To put that in even greater perspective, that one payment completely gobbles the $9.4 million casino host fee. And this high payment will be made each of the next five years.

In addition to pensions, health costs have increased 60.9% since 2004, even though the workforce is at its lowest level in thirty years.

Reynolds' news conference was at a technology center, the Pi Center for Innovation, located atop the Cantelmi Hardware store on E. 4th Street. This 8,000 sq. ft facility is leased from Cantelmi by the Bethlehem Economic Development Corp. A conference room, conversation rooms, lounge, kitchenette and even an ADA‐accessible shower are shared by a number of post-incubator businesses. Tenants are attracted to this site because it is in a state‐designated Enterprise Zone and a Keystone Innovation Zone.

They like the tax breaks.

According to Reynolds, there should be more places like them. "We need more Pis," he said, though he's rather slender.

Claiming that Bethlehem is in the midst of an "economic renaissance," Reynolds claimed that more economic development is the solution to Bethlehem's fiscal stability. "Economic development is the most important thing," he said.

What about public safety? I asked. Isn't that important, too?

That's a given, responded Reynolds. He agreed that questions about safety are what he hears most often from voters as he knocks on doors. So I guess economic development is the most important thing after public safety, which is the most important thing.

Historically, Bethlehem has shied away from KOZ properties, which exempts business owners from almost all state and local taxes. But Reynolds stated yesterday that Bethlehem should consider all economic development tools, even a mini-NIZ that is under consideration in some municipalities. He claimed the City needs this to remain "competitive" with other municipalities.

Reynolds also stated that he'd try to bring more efficiency into City government.. He claimed that replacing street lights with LED lights could reduce the cost of energy consumption. He also talking about centralized accounts payable and receivable, and making online payment of tax bills a reality.

Reynolds was confronted about the propriety of partisan political activity inside a publicly funded office.  Frankly, the space is rented to BEDCO, which in turn rents to private tenants. They do get tax breaks, but are private businesses. I don't know the answer to that one.

All in all, I'd say that the Reynolds' "fear mongering" crack is a bit over the top. But since Donchez took a cheap shot himself with a mailer that included Willie's middle school picture, I'd say they're even.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Americans Overwhelmingly Support Gun Background Checks

65%. In view of the recent tragedies in Colorado and Connecticut, I'm surprised it's not even higher. But locally, one gun rights attorney claims Sheriffs have no authority to check references on a state-supplied form.

Under Pennsylvania law, the Sheriff shall conduct the following investigations when reviewing a LTCF application:
(1) investigate the applicant's record of criminal conviction;
(2) investigate whether or not the applicant is under indictment for or has ever been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year;
(3) investigate whether the applicant's character and reputation are such that the applicant will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
(4) investigate whether the applicant would be precluded from receiving a license under subsection (e)(1) or section 6105(h) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms); and
(5) conduct a criminal background, juvenile delinquency and mental health check following the procedures set forth in section 6111 (relating to sale or transfer of firearms), receive a unique approval number for that inquiry and record the date and number on the application.
Preventing a Sheriff from checking references makes it impossible to determine whether an applicant presents a danger to public safety.

Mezzacappa Candidacy Condemned in GOP LTE

Ben Miller, a Republican, is "embarrassed to be affiliated with certain members of our party and their inappropriate actions — specifically, county council candidate Tricia Mezzacappa and Ronnie DelBacco, who are making fools of themselves as they attempt to cause problems for Republicans such as Peg Ferraro, who has served the county for many years."

Spadoni, the Zen Candidate

The Chris Spadoni game face
Chris Spadoni, one of the Lehigh Valley's finest lawyers, is running for Northampton County judge. I saw him early this evening as I was walking the grounds of my estate, and he tried to run me over. Like his able opponent Jennifer Sletvold, he is campaigning hard. He had been out all day. Abe Kassis and Tom Carroll, the other two judicial candidates, are also excellent attorneys. But it has to drive all four of them nuts to know that the Supreme Court could pull the rug out from under all of them, after they've spent as much as $100,000 each.

Like Spadoni, Jenn Sletvold is everywhere. By 10 AM, she has usually already consumed three breakfasts. At a Hanover Supervisors meeting a few weeks ago, she came to introduce herself to everyone.

These lawyers are campaigning full time while trying to put bread on the table, too.

But there's a dark cloud on the horizon. Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille, who can only stay on the bench until next year, wants to kill that mandatory retirement age provision carved into the Pennsylvania Constitution. He and his fellow Supremes have already reached down to the Commonwealth Court and grabbed the case. He must think he has a constitutional right to be a judge.

Now if this were me, I'd be threatening to sue somebody. Maybe everybody. That's why I'm not exactly judicial material.

When I asked Spadoni about this mess tonight, he just smiled and said this could be the first time in County history that voters pick a candidate who can't run for judge. I guess this Buddhist answer is evidence of what you call a judicial temperament. Either that or he just ate.

EnvsionLV To Host Virtual Meeting May 13

Many of you have anonymously attacked EnvisionLV. Now's your chance to do it in person. On Monday, May 13, between 8-9 PM, there will be a virtual meeting that will allow anyone to jump into the broadcast through a specific link and chat live with a panel of city planners from Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown as well as a regional planner from the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. Viewers can tweet, write Facebook comments, email, or join a live chat to share their thoughts on topics from economic development to housing, and also ask questions of the panelists.

The virtual meeting link to the Envision Lehigh Valley, hosted on a free uStream channel, will be shared on Envision Lehigh Valley’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, or through this URL: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/envision-the-lehigh-valley posted on the website: www.envisionlehighvalley.com.

Questions and comments can be shared ahead of time by sending an e-mail to Renew Lehigh Valley, who will be coordinating the virtual meeting. Emails to smartgrowth@renewlv.org with “Virtual Meeting” in the subject line will be gathered beforehand and integrated into the meeting in May. Feedback can also be given on Envision Lehigh Valley’s website through the orange UserVoice box or the Survey function.

Envision Lehigh Valley is a public outreach effort seeking to create a regional sustainability plan for the Lehigh Valley through community input and planning. It is a three year, $3.4 million Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that was awarded in November 2011. The project began in early 2012 and will conclude at year end 2014. The Lehigh Valley Sustainability Consortium is comprised of fourteen partners from all sectors across the Lehigh Valley.

A Miracle For 192 Kids

On April 27, the gate of Easton Rotary Field swung open for the Miracle League's first day of baseball this year. One hundred and ninety-two kids, formed into twelve teams, will play every Saturday on a $750,000 astroturf baseball diamond. There's a teletron in left center field, stands, and most importantly, lots of free ballpark franks.

This ballfield, built for kids whose physical and intellectual challenges prevent them from playing in the local little leagues, is already seeing double the participants who played there last year. Some might call it a miracle.

Dave Colver, whose Herculean efforts as Project Manager are yet another miracle, spent the entire day at the field, doing a little bit of everything. He's even managed to recruit his 17 year-old daughter, Paige, to play Homer, the League's mascot. Homer gave lots of hugs, and appeared in every game played throughout a long, but fun, day.

There is no score. Everybody hits. Everybody wins.

Easton Rotary Field is located right next to Chrin Community Center in Palmer Township.

You can see more pics on my Facebook page.

General Pulaski Honored in Bethlehem

Children from St. Peter and Paul RC School presented flowers
At one time, the Lehigh Valley's strong Polish-American community worked the blast furnaces and cranes at the Bethlehem Steel, producing the gun forgings and artillery shells that protected this nation in two world wars. On April 28, about sixty members of this community were at Bethlehem's south side again, not to manufacture steel, but to commemorate a man who represents the very best of American and Polish ideals. The valor of Brigadier General Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman who fought and died in the Revolutionary War, is still remembered. He was honored during a brief ceremony at Pulaski Park, located on East Third St. and Brodhead Avenues.

Joe Janik wears replica of uniform worn by Gen. Pulaski
Pulaski, father of the American cavalry, once told George Washington that he came to this country because this is "where freedom is being defended." Like many Poles who would follow him, Pulaski spent some time in Bethlehem. It was there that he protected Moravian Sisters from unruly troops. In gratitude, they provided him with an embroidered silk banner, which he always took into battle with him. In the words of Longfellow,
And the warrior took that banner proud,
And it was his martial cloak and shroud
During a daring cavalry charge to protect French troops, Pulaski took that banner into battle for a last time in 1779, when he was mortally wounded in the Battle of Savannah.

Pulaski declined to participate in a punitive Sullivan Expedition planned against the Iroquois.

WWII Vet Walter Luczyszyn helped raise the American and Polish flags
U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent, one of numerous public officials on hand for the commemoration, stated that Pulaski exemplifies the "determination and defiance" exhibited by many other Poles throughout history, including John Paul II. Poland, Dent said, has always been trapped between two great powers, but has always stood like a rock, much like the boulder in Pulaski Park.

State Reps. Steve Samuelson and Dan McNeil presented a state house proclamation, honoring Kazimierz Pulaski, as he is also known. State Senator Lisa Boscola, who grew up in the Polish-Slovak-Hungarian south side of Bethlehem, said she "almost feels Polish." Mayor John Callahan stated that we need to "recognize those who came before us". He expressed some sorrow that this will be his last year attending Pulaski Day as Mayor.

Pulaski is one of only seven people to have ever been awarded honorary American citizenship.

Following the ceremony, a Mass was celebrated at St. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Allentown.
Julia Gloc, age 4, and brother Jacub, age 7, attend Polish school in Allentown
Mayor Callahan and Father Dominic Kalata want these young Polish Americans to remember those who came before them.

For more pictures, visit my Facebook album.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Coretta Scott King!

Just in time for her birthday, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and local civil rights activists unveiled a memorial stone on Saturday, April 27, in honor of Coretta Scott King.

This dedication took place at Martin Luther King Park, located on Carlton Avenue, before about eighty onlookers. Before the event started, some of the children were convinced that Martin Luther King (MLK) died in the pocket park that bears his name. But Tomacene Nickens, Callahan's former kindergarten teacher, set the kids straight. She described this wife of the martyred civil rights leader, who took up the banner after her husband was struck down by an assassin's bullet. "She filled a void at a time when we needed her most," noted Callahan.

Civil rights activist Frankie West, one of the founders of the annual Martin Luther King March, was honored with a citation and a Moravian Star. West explained that first march had just four participants, but has grown to over 200. It ends at MLK Park.

While waiting for the ceremony to start, Pastor Melvin Tatem wanted to see if he could still ride a bike. His Grace Deliverance Baptist Church is moving to Broad Street.

Thanks to the Cops 'n Kids program, children were treated to free books.

Callahan spends time with Bethlehem's most precious asset - its children.

For more pictures, visit my Facebook album.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Flight of the Turkey Vultures

On Saturday, I developed an ear infection. I tried ignoring it, hoping it would go away, but it got worse as the week went on. I finally broke down and went to the doctor and have antibiotic ear drops laced with a little prednisone for the inflammation. But I'm still tired, a little dizzy and have had a slight fever for an entire week. But I'm no longer in Winter hibernation. Sick or not, I'm still out on the bike path every day, mostly walking with a little running.

That's what we highly-conditioned, well-trained athletes do.

Today, about half way through, I did some core work. When done, I just lay there on my stomach. The warm Sun felt good and very relaxing, and I think I fell asleep for a minute or two. When I woke up and stood, I noticed that three turkey vultures were circling above. They hopefully followed me along the Lehigh Canal, but I finished without keeling over.

Since I've lost my license to practice, I can't expect the professional courtesy that buzzards usually extend to lawyers. But as a bottom-feeding gossip blogger who can't be trusted with a wallet or child, I'm insulted.

Maybe they wanted some tips.

Republicans Opposing Mezzacappa Branded "Traitors"

The NorCo GOP infighting continues. Someone calling himself or herself "David Jones" is mad as hell that tea party extremists like Robert Kerr and Tony Simao have failed to take over their party and get rid of party stalwarts like Peg Ferraro, Dottie Niklos and Lee Snover. 

Kerr and Simao, the former Chair and Treasurer, have resigned, taking their marbles home. No longer able to gavel down responsible Republicans, these extremists have decided instead to attack, anonymously, the "traitors", in an email you can read for yourself. 

From: David Jones <your.ncrc@gmail.com>
Date: April 25, 2013, 6:53:42 PM EDT
To: David Jones <your.ncrc@gmail.com>
Subject: Truth & Justice
Yesterday the Express Times ran an article entitled "Republican Party dissolves into infighting over Northampton County Council candidate Tricia Mezzacappa".  A portion of the article reads as follows. . .

When asked to elaborate, Craig DeFranco, the acting chairman of the Republican committee, said the statement came regarding alleged threats Mezzacappa leveled against blogger Bernie O'Hare and her disorderly conduct conviction for a tirade at West Easton Borough Hall, where she allegedly threatened to drown West Easton Council President Kelly Gross.

"We do not think a public official should be threatening to kill people.
We are trying to distance ourselves from those statements,"
- -Craig DeFranco

It now seems this former Police Chief Craig DeFranco wants to convict someone on the hearsay of another and he feels perfectly comfortable putting our Committee's name, reputation and financial resources on it.  Since when does the Northampton County Republican Committee start listening to the local gossip blogger, disbarred attorney and admitted alcoholic Bernie O'Hare and taking his word as gospel!  What is unusual is that Bernie O'Hare is a Democrat Committeeman and several of our Executive Committee members have had almost a decade long political relationship with this man (and I use that term loosely).  Stay tuned there is more coming about this because you deserve the truth and the facts not gossip.

I think I am right to assume almost everyone reading this email is an intelligent and compassionate Republican who really cares about our nation so all I want you to do is to decide should we be condemningANYONE without having our facts straight?  This isn't about Tricia Mezzacappa or Bernie O'Hare it is about TRUTH and JUSTICE!  I am betting on you to come to the right conclusions after reviewing the facts and that you will vote accordingly in the May primary.

Please save this great organization Northampton County Republican Committee from the likes of Bernie O'Hare and his co-conspirators and traitors on our Executive Committee!

 Inline image 1

Who would you rather leave your wallet or your small child with?

This email is NOT an endorsement of anyone! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gross Family Endorses Reibman

In the latest announcement from the Glenn Reibman camp, he has added endorsements for Executive from several local officials. These include Bangor Area School Board Director Frank Addessi, N. Catasauqua Council member Cherie D. Gebhardt and West Easton Mayor Gerald Gross and Council Prez Kelly Gross. His local endorsements now stand at 25.

“It’s inconsequential to me how big or how small these communities are, " claims Reibman. "They are proud communities and they all are part of Northampton County, and they all play a role in what makes this County strong, productive, and a great place to live, work, and play.”

Mota to Miss Water Lease Vote

Valley 610 has the details. While Cynthia Mota is one of Pawlowski's  bobbleheads, I certainly hope her health improves.

Updated 9:50 PM: The Morning Call's Emily Opilo is giving us live tweets. Mota is on the phone. I don't ordinarily follow the twittereti, but like Opilo's slightly irreverent style.

Boy Scout Brings Good Luck to Bethlehem Zoning Applicants

Nicholas Hanna, age 13, Troop 318
Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board had an unusual visitor at their April 24 meeting. Nicholas Hanna, a 13 year-old boy scout with Troop 318 in Bethlehem, was forced to attend the meeting by Solicitor Mickey Thompson, who moonlights as an assistant scoutmaster. Hanna, distant cousin of Bethlehem's former DCED Director Tony Hanna, correctly predicted how zoners would rule on each of three cases they considered. He proved to be a good luck charm to applicants.

Tara Mahoney was unanimously granted a dimensional variance at 2003 Mary Street so she could build a 6' high fence along her front yard, instead of the 4' permitted. Her property had been surrounded by 12' high arborvitae, but they must be removed because of storm damage. She explained that a 6' high fence is needed for safety reasons, noting that a 4' high fence makes access by possible intruders too easy. She also worried that a smaller fence might tempt passing school children to try and pet her dog, who is sometimes unfriendly.

Christopher and Krista Kozak, 2041 Fernway Avenue, were also unanimously granted a dimensional variance so they could extend and enclose an existing porch, converting it into an office and bathroom. The couple recently had a daughter, making bathroom space more important. "If they have another, he'll never see the bathroom again," mumbled Zoning Officer Suzanne Borzak.

In the final matter considered, Kurt Schreefer, 1625 Sycamore Street, was granted a dimensional variance so he could construct an 8 x 14' shed just 5' away from his property line near Hamilton Street. He explained that, to comply with the zoning ordinance, he have to put that shed in the middle of his yard. he added that, because of the irregular shape of his lot, he has three front yards under the zoning ordinance, instead of one. Although zoners grated relief, it was on condition that Schreefer build nothing in the remaining 5' from his property line to Hamilton Street. ZHB member Linda Shay Gardner dissented from that decision.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Callahan Touts Economic Development at Martin Guitar

Bethlehem Mayor and Northampton County Exec candidate John Callahan stressed the importance of economic development today during a visit to Martin Guitar. Chris Martin, whose family has run the internationally renowned instrument maker for the past 6 generations, called himself a "big fan" of Callahan. He repeatedly urged people to vote for the Bethlehem Mayor, while Callahan complimented Martin's blend of new technology with old world craftsmanship.

Callahan's economic development theory is that government does not create jobs, but does create the atmosphere that makes jobs possible. In Northampton County, that atmosphere requires a Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) director, according to Callahan, who called Executive John Stoffa's decision to allow that office to remain vacant a "mistake."  He also complained that the office, located "in the bowels of the courthouse" and next to a holding cell for prisoners, is an immediate turnoff to business prospects.

Callahan declined to say who he would appoint as new DCED Director, explaining it is far too early to discuss cabinet appointments.

In addition to stressing the need for a DCED Director, Callahan noted the need for infrastructure improvements. He noted that 17 county-owned bridges need serious repairs and would give them priority as Executive. He stated that, for that reason, he supports the concept o a bridge bond proposed by Executive John Stoffa.

One of the bridges slated for repairs, Bridge No. 90, is located in Bethlehem along Lehigh Street, right before the Fahy Bridge. County Council, last Thursday, authorized $195,150 for repairs to this "Priority 1" bridge, which crosses Monocacy Creek. That bridgework will likely coincide with Musikfest.

In addition to discussing infrastructure, Callahan emphasized a desire to rebuild store fronts and other small businesses whose vacant faces are a serious problem in Nazareth and other small boroughs. Callahan noted these small boroughs should be able to rely more heavily on County resources for redevelopment.

In closing, it should be observed that Callahan finished Saturday's 5k in 29 minutes, which means I could have beaten him if I had been up just 5 minutes sooner.

NoCo Exec Debate on May 9

Is Willie Reynolds Pushing Too Hard For LGBT Rights?

Let me tell you a little bit about my brother. He has the brains, while I'm just another pretty face. He can take a car apart and put it back together, while I still haven't figured out how to pop the hood. He goes to church twice a week, while I don't go at all, figuring he has me covered. His religious convictions tell him that same sex relationships are immoral, while I have no convictions at all and don't mind if three guys and one parakeet want to go to space mountain. I know my brother, who lives in Bethlehem, would be opposed to Mayoral candidate Willie Reynolds' stands on marriage equality and same sex benefits. I have reservations myself, although for different reasons.

At a news conference last week that I unfortunately missed, Willie Reynolds chose to make "equal rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters" a major theme of his campaign. He pledged that, as Mayor, he would insist on "diversity training for City employees, particularly our public safety personnel." Same sex domestic partners "would be provided with the same health care benefits as all other city employees." Finally, he vowed he would perform no marriages at all until he could do so for same sex as well as heterosexual couples.

Although Willie's stand should just about lock up the gay vote (and they contribute), this is not exactly what I would call a high priority in a City afflicted by a revenue-sucking pension crisis. In fact, as gay employees add their domestic partners for health benefits and pensions, this can only make that problem worse. It will cost the City money at a time when it should be trying to trim costs.

If Willie had proposed benefits for prospective city workers in same sex relationships, this pill would be easier (and cheaper) to swallow. Those pension agreements are much more reasonable, thanks to negotiations by the Callahan administration. But under Willie's plan, he will add significantly to the City's pension crisis.

I could understand diversity training, so long as it can be done at no municipal expense. But why did Willie add that public safety personnel need it more than most? I would think police officers and firefighters, who see same sex unions night and day, could probably give Willie some diversity training.

Another point, and I one I find unnecessarily divisive, is Willie's pledge to refuse to perform any marriages at all until he can marry same sex couples. That is insulting to numerous innocent heterosexual couples who have nothing to do with the state's marriage laws. It is also insulting to many people like my brother, who for religious reasons, are offended by same sex couples. Who's to say my brother is wrong? Willie Reynolds? LGBT activist Adrian Shanker?

Worst of all is that, in the name of political correctness, Willie is diminishing the sanctity of the special relationship between man and woman. That is the only relationship that can actually produce new life. It deserves a special place and name for that if for no other reason. No same sex couple can produce children. To call their union a marriage diminishes the miracle of new life that is often produced by a real marriage. My objection here is mostly definitional. I would agree that same sex partners should have the same rights (and obligations) as heterosexual couples, but the union of man and woman deserves its own special word in our lexicon.

Willie is a progressive candidate with many good ideas, including district seats on City Council. Same sex couples certainly should have the same rights and protections as everyone else. But in a City with many other real problems, this should be a back burner item that needs to be approached with a little more sensitivity than Willie has displayed. You can't just force people to accept gay rights. You need to persuade them. And that takes time, not mandatory diversity training for cops.

I know I have several gay readers. Please tell me if you thing I'm wrong. It would not be the first time.

Hanover Volunteer Firefighters to Get $449k Rescue Truck

Firefigther Ryan Kery and Chief Craig Wasem with 20 year old rescue truck, still in service
Hanover Township Supervisors, at their April 23 meeting, unanimously awarded the bid for a new rescue truck to Marion Body Works, located in Wisconsin. The Township will spend $449,774.00 for the truck, rejecting a lower, $411,098.38 bid from KME Kovatch.

Though lower, KME's bid contained 38 deviations from bid specs. This included shortcuts like incandescent instead of LED lights and a roof that was 2' higher than requested. Unlike KME, Marion's bid contained no variations from very detailed bid specs. "For the specs on this, we killed off ten trees," reported Township Manager Jay Finnigan.

Rescue trucks, unlike other fire trucks, carry an array of special equipment that includes the Jaws of life, wooden cribbing, generators, winches, hi-lift jacks, cranes, cutting torches and circular saws.

Fire Chief Craig Wasem stated the new truck will replace a 20 year old rescue truck still in service by the Hanover Township Volunteer Fire Company.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Judge Dally Sides With DA in Spat With Stoffa

Judge Dally Decision on DA's Independent Authority

Reibman Misstates Facts in Second Hit Piece

Yesterday, I pointed out that NorCo Exec candidate Glenn Reibman is using a drunken Callahan look-alike in campaign brochures in an effort to deceive voters. Now, he's using misinformation. In a news release responding to a John Callahan TV Spot that includes video shot in “The Heavenly Hedgehog Ice Cream Company” at the Main Street Commons, Reibman claims it is a now defunct business.

What he fails to point out is that there is a new ice cream shop in its place at the same site, the "All Aboard Taste Station." The prior owner retired. It was not a "failed" business, as Reibman claims in a news release.

This is not negative campaigning. This is just being dishonest.

Labor Endorses McClure, Misspells His Name

From my good friends at the LV Labor Council.

Good afternoon,
      On April 1st and 2nd the Lehigh Valley Labor Council COPE Committee met and held a candidate interview process.  Northampton County candidates presented first, followed by Lehigh County.   I have to say that there are many, many outstanding candidates running and we were hard pressed to reach the numbers necessary for endorsement. 
      On a personal note, I would rather not get involved in primaries but the Labor Council operates through a Democratic process and the majority voted to have a primary endorsement process.  Although both parties in both counties were notified, we only interviewed one member of the GOP.  I hope to change that in future cycles and have made some progress earlier today.  We only endorsed and voted in races where there was competition.  Endorsements for the general election will come out in the early Summer.
       The candidates that were endorsed by the CLC include:
Northampton County Executive----Lamont Maclure
Northampton County Council------ Bill Wallace
Northampton County Council-------Ron Heckman
Northampton County Council-------Jerry Seyfried
Easton School Board-------------------Dominic Buscemi

We were unable to reach consensus on Lehigh County candidates.
       In unity & solidarity,
       Gregg J. Potter
       President, Lehigh Valley Labor Council
       610 360-9491

Is This Why Ray O'Connell Supports Pawlowski's Agenda?

Ray O'Connell is an affable enough fellow. He even was a bit independent. At his time last year, he and the Iron Lady of Allentown, Jeanette Eichenwald were the sole No votes on an unpopular waste to energy plant for one of Mayor Edwin Pawlowski's campaign donors. But that attitude has now changed, and he is on board completely with Pawlowski's so-called Rising Tide, where the rich get richer.

What happened?

About three or four months ago, O'Connell's son got a job with the City's IT department. Before that, he had been jobless for at least three years.

Now he can snoop employee emails for Hizzoner.

Did this hire affect O'Donnell's attitude when it comes to voting with Pawlwoski?  You betcha'. I'm sure Ray could offer an explanation for this nepotism, but he has not returned phone calls placed to him yesterday morning and evening.

See, he's already learning from Ed how NOT to be accountable or transparent.

Ray is currently running for re-election. I wonder whether he bothered informing potential voters that his son works for the City.

Donchez, Reynolds Both Impress at Block Watch Meeting

Bob Donchez
No matter who you support for Bethlehem Mayor, you had to walk away impressed at last night's West Bethlehem Block Watch meeting with candidates Bob Donchez and Willie Reynolds. Both of them really looked good. Willie displayed a youthful energy and drive, while Bob exhibited his trademark laid back style.    I would say that Bob's style suits Bethlehem voters better, but they have shown they like young Mayors. One thing is very clear. Reynolds is in this to win, not just show.

For the most part, the two candidates agreed. They both oppose a single trash hauler. They both support zoned hauling. Naturally, they will both do whatever they can to avoid more tax hikes. They both would like to get more services or small donations from nonprofits.

Their biggest disagreement focused on Willie's proposal for districted Council seats. Willie points out that places like West Bethlehem have had no representation on City Council since 1995. He feels that district seats would make it cheaper to run, reducing the influence of money on politics. He also points out it would be more small d democratic.

Bob counters that districts are fine in larger municipalities, but not Bethlehem. He worries that "we would begin to pit district against district," and that parochialism would rear its ugly head. He argued that the real problem is more people need to run for office, pointing out that there are only 6 candidate seeking 4 seats.

Willie Reynolds
Both of them favor more transparency. Reynolds talked about "bringing City Hall to you" at various neighborhood committees. Donchez pointedly said that the books will be open to City Council and that he would have an "open door" policy as Mayor, setting aside days where people could walk in and talk to him without an appointment.

The only sour note of the night came when a woman in the audience told Donchez she was "very disturbed" by his negative flyer about Reynolds, quoting his "hot girlfriend" remark. Moderator Gus Loupos declared that topic off limits.

It was a contrast of youthful exuberance with genial experience with two well-qualified candidates.

Donchez and Reynolds will face each other again on May 2, 6:30 PM, Prosser Auditorium, Moravian College. Don Cunningham will moderate. He knows a little bit about being Mayor of Bethlehem.

Why Karen Dolan Failed to Answer Bill Scheirer's 200,000,000,000 Questions

She forgot. In her words, "Oops."  She's been pretty busy at the Illick's Mill, with over 300 kids doing school projects there. In fact, last week, I dropped in on her, and she was surrounded by more students than she probably had when she was teaching.  As someone who sometimes forgets appointments and once forgot one with her, I can understand.

The candidates' questionaire is linked on my left sidebar.

It was a looooong questionnaire. Bill Scheirer, who posed these questions for the "Bethlehem Citizens Association", is currently in hiding.

How Would You Like $10,000?

That's how much Attorney Rick Orloski is offering for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who twice attempted to firebomb his office on March 8 and 18. He's also taken out a full-page ad in The Express Times to publicize his reward offer.

Both The Express Times and Morning Call have stories about the attempted arsons and Orloski's offer. In the Morning Call account, Orloski states he and police have theories on who might be responsible.

So if you heard someone bragging about setting a fire to Orloski's office, please contact the South Whitehall Police at 610-398-0337.

I will not be accepting comments on this post. If you have something, call the police.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Wizard of New Zealand Visits Bethlehem Greenway

Just about everyone was at South Bethlehem's Greenway this weekend. I've already told you about the Dancing Dragons. But there was more much more. The biggest attraction, of course, was the Wizard of New Zealand who was accompanied by his apprentice, the Wizard of Richmond.

The Wizard of New Zealand was first appointed to that post in 1990 by that country's Prime Minister.

The Wizard claims to have discovered his avocation during the '60s. But he cautions, "Don't regard us as hairy hippies. We are not hippies in any way whatsoever. We are dangerous weirdos, so watch out!"

He claimed he was in Bethlehem because the City needs him. I asked him about Allentown. "Look, a Wizard can only do so much," he told me.

Then he turned me into this:
You can see the Wizard in action here. 

Reibman Uses Drunk Callahan Look Alike

Political guru Mike Fleck, Edwin Pawlowski's campaign manager, was the person behind the attempt to kill the Kim Velez candidacy in Allentown. That effort failed, largely because Steve Barron's Solicitor, Tim Brennan, engaged in bully tactics. A Lehigh County judge corrected that error. I did not really fault Fleck for Brennan's stupidity. But Fleck, who also is running Glenn Reibman's Northampton County Exec race, has sunk to a new low.

The flyer, which I decline to reproduce here, includes a photograph of an obviously drunk John Callahan. For those of you on Planet Krypton, Callahan is one of Reibman's two opponents in the Northampton County Exec race.

But it's a look-alike, not the real Callahan.

This deceit is no surprise from Reibman. After all, he's the Executive who scandalized his office when a top aid was sentenced to federal prison for taking kickbacks on County contracts. Reibman spent more time in fornt of grand juries than he did in his office during his first term. And Mike Fleck is a guy who falsely claimed to be a college graduate when he himself ran for Mayor.

Neither Fleck nor Glenn Reibman is interested in being honest with you.

Allentown Water Lease: The BlueBloods Have Spoken

Here in the Lehigh Valley, we have our very own unelected aristocracy, a group of bluebloods who think they run things. And maybe they do. I'm referring of course, to the Lehigh Valley Partnership. This group has bought and paid for Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. He is shoving an unpopular water lease down the throats of the masses, despite popular opposition.

Because those silly citizens know nothing, the Partnership has purchased an ad it intends to run in The Morning Call this week. A copy was leaked to me. Your betters have told you to shut up.

Lehigh Valley Partnership Ad For Allentown Water Lease

Armstrong: Allentown's Children Deserve Better

Message to ASD Parents

The Allentown School District is facing very difficult times. Less federal funding, almost flat state funding and dramatically increasing employee related costs have compromised our financial situation. This is not a one year problem; unless something changes, the same troubling dynamic could be in place for the next few years.

In spite of the lost revenues and increased costs, the Allentown School District, like every other PA school district, is mandated by the state to produce a balanced budget. The board has only three avenues to achieve the balance and close the projected 20 million dollar budget gap, raise taxes, cut expenses and spend down the reserve fund. In spite of the hardship that will be imposed on the district’s homeowners, taxes will have to be raised by the maximum allowed by the state. Since, however, the budget cannot be balanced with just a tax increase, the board has directed the administration to produce a plan to reduce spending. The resulting cost reduction plan calls for the furloughing of 140 district employees. With the combination of tax increases and employee furloughs we are closer to balance, but the district may be forced to spend some of the vital reserve fund. That is the extent of the problem.

These cuts will negatively impact the quality of education your child receives. Although the district and the school board are striving to preserve and even improve education in the ASD, it is important that you understand the board of directors does not have the ways or means necessary to provide a better alternative. The best we can do is to draw up similarly depressing plans which include tax increases, employee furloughs and spending down the reserve fund. Therefore, concerned parents may want to contact both their state and federal representatives. Urge these leaders to assist Pennsylvania’s 4th largest school district in its mission to provide a quality education to some of the state’s poorest children. The district needs legislative relief from the exploding costs of public pensions, employee benefits, and prevailing wage mandates, just to name a few. Any additional funds could also offset potential cuts in all day kindergarten and Arts programming.

Remember, public education should be the nation’s number one anti-poverty program. It will be this area’s poorest children who will be harmed the most if much needed assistance isn’t received by the state and federal government. Certainly, Allentown’s children deserve better than this.

Blogger's Note: In addition to being my favorite conservative writer, Scott Armstrong is an Allentown School Director.

Dolan, Reynolds Duck Citizen Group's Questions

Harmony Pavilion, along S. Bethlehem Greenway
An informal group calling itself the Bethlehem Citizens Association has posed a questionnaire to all City candidates. All candidates, save for Mayoral candidate Willie Reynolds and incumbent Council member Karen Dolan, have responded. That's too bad because these are nice "meat and potato" questions that run the gamut, from a fire engine at Dewberry to regionalizing 911 services with Northampton County. Just yesterday, a reader asked me to provide more information about the candidates. This is a start.

I've listed the questions and corresponding answers on my left sidebar.

Dolan provides no explanation for her refusal to participate. Willie Reynolds is clearly suspicious, thinking it's the same folks who gave him a lousy evaluation at City Council meetings. That became campaign fodder for Reynolds' opponent, Bob Donchez. Reynolds complains, "The mailer was based on the spurious report of another so-called citizens committee. Citizen involvement in government is the most basic and important function of our democracy. However, to claim that four or five disgruntled ex-employees and office seeking candidates qualify as a "committee" as Mr. Donchez did last week in a direct mail piece is ridiculous, disingenuous, and misleading." Reynolds was also suspicious that many of these questions were plants designed to make Bob Donchez look good.

Correspondent Bill Scheirer acknowledges that he did complete council evaluation forms a few times, but that his ratings had a minimal effect. He also admits that he and one other member are Donchez supporters, but are not "close" to the campaign and that there is no conspiracy.

First formed in 2006, Bethlehem Citizens Association has about 170 members. According to Scheirer, most meetings are online, i.e. virtual meetings. There are two requirements for membership: care about the city and agree to accept an average of one email or less per month. About 5% live outside the city.

If you are interested in joining, you can contact Scheirer at bethlehembill@yahoo.com

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tricia Mezzacappa and her Hate Enablers

Northampton County Council and West Easton Borough Council candidate Tricia Mezzacappa's online account at The Express Times has been terminated as a result of three graphic online death fantasies. So she now is spewing venom under the account "Pigface817", the name she uses on her YouTube Channel.

In comments posted to a story about reference checks in LTFC applications, Mezzacappa tells one reader that his mouth needs "acid wash."

She is particularly terrible to West Easton Borough Council President Kelly Gross. "Word is, Gross already had her head bashed in once, (years ago) but never learned her lesson," Mezzacappa states, referring to a brutal assault inflicted on Gross when she was a caseworker at KidsPeace. "People with less restraint than Mezz would have twice bashed her head not agaisnt a wall, but through it," claims Mezzacappa. "Gross is a nutcase who needs to be removed from office for good."

Let me add that I am completely astonished that State Reps. Joe Emrick and Marcia Hahn, after what happened in Newton, think a reference check is completely unnecessary.

What planet are they on? They are enablers of hate.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dragons Dance on a Bike Path?

Ever see dragons dance on a bike path? I did, and I'm sober, too. Two dragons danced along South Bethlehem's Greenway for the dedication of South Bethlehem's Harmony Pavilion. Even Mayor John Callahan was snapping pictures.
John Callahan, dragon photograoher 

Callahan Runs in Another Race

This one was in honor of Robert Lasso, a Freemansburg police officer gunned down on August 11, 2011, while responding to a disturbance call. Proceeds raised from this 5k, which had 114 participants, will benefit Lasso's widow and his two children. Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan was 50' from the finish line when a referee popped up out of nowhere, and ejected him.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Jim Gregory Show

Because of its proximity to New Jersey, Northampton County has more than its fair share of nutbags, or put more politely, colorful characters. Chief of these, of course, is our very own Ron Angle, the LeeRoy Jenkins of local politics. But there are many others, from Wicked Witch of West Easton Tricia Mezzacappa to Fake Rev. Mario Martinez. If I were objective, which I'm not, I'd even have to lump in Bottom Feeding Blogger Bernie O'Hare somewhere in that mix. After last night, I'm pretty sure that union activist and NorCo employee Jim Gregory is a first class nutbag, and he may end up being one without a job.

Over the years, he and I have traded sharp exchanges. But his girlfriend, who is a Saint, managed to broker something of a truce between us. Now I'm about to violate the cease fire.

Gregory, believe it or not, is some kind of mental health worker in human services. At last night's Council meeting, Council Prez John Cusick had to give him the hook in the middle of a rambling speech that complained about the proposed centralized human services buildings, his boss, his boss's boss and his boss's boss's boss. He had gone on well beyond the five minutes allotted for public comment, and we'd all still be there if Cusick let him go.

Gregory is a union steward, and that gives him some rights to make complaints. But he made clear that he was there as a taxpayer, and not as a union steward.

He started off by complaining about the centralized human services building, which was approved 8-1 by Council several months ago. Gregory had spoken in support of it as a union steward. But as a taxpayer last night, he spoke against it.

In addition to complaints about privatization and spending millions on that, Gregory went on to attack his boss, whom I will not name. He complained that she is still paid over $100,000 per year, even though  she only has half the responsibilities she once had. He suggested that she be removed, and that Human Services Director Ross Marcus follow her out the door. He also called on Executive John Stoffa to resign.

He tried to woo Council. For example, he called Council member Peg Ferraro "a Republican with a Democratic heart" and Council member Ken Kraft his "union brother from another mother."

Gregory also brought one of his clients with him to use as a prop. He identified her as a Nazi death camp survivor and described her as a victim of shock treatments. From the look of her, an appearance at a Northampton County Council meeting must have brought about some flashbacks. I think Gregory, who clearly did not have the knowing consent of this woman to use her as did, violated her privacy rights by parading her in front of Council as though she were an Exhibit instead of a human being. Also, forcing her to attend a Northampton County Council meeting is something even Hitler would consider too cruel.

While all this was going on, Executive John Stoffa sat very quietly, doing a slow burn. He usually exchanges pleasantries after a meeting with Council members and the press and gives me at least one insult. Not last night.

Many, many moons ago, erstwhile Prothonotary Ernie DiSalvatore decided to complain to County Council about his boss, then Executive Marty Bechtel. During the course of his tirade, he referred to either Bechtel or one of his top Administrators as a "hatchet man." The next day, that hatchet fell on him. He was out of a job.

Last night, Gregory started off by saying, "I just want to do my time with the County." His rant was no way to go gently into that good night. Moreover, his presentation was so laced with personal attacks that whatever legitimate point he was attempting to make, was lost on me.

I do know this. He needs an old priest and a young priest.

Glenn Reibman Wants Callahan Investigated, Damn It!

In a news release issued by his campaign yesterday afternoon, NorCo Exec candidate Glenn Reibman said that he "intends to notify the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to further investigate Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan’s unlawful use of Federal Grant money to balance his City Budgets in 2010 and 2011."  He claims he was disturbed by Callahan's remarks at a recent debate in which he said he did what he needed to do to keep the lights on and meet payroll, and would do it again.

“HUD warned him in a letter that this is a misappropriation of funds,” said Reibman. “Mayor Callahan is doubling down on this unlawful act. Because he thought it was politically expedient to his purposes, John Callahan used this money to balance the City’s budget. This is CDBG money that is supposed to go to those struggling small business owners that need it the most. He claims that he wants to create jobs, yet he jeopardized the federal money meant to do just that in the neighborhoods that need it the most. If you willfully take CDBG money and misappropriate it, you can go to jail. This simply is an example of failed leadership.”

Reibman should be an expert on going to jail. After all, two members of his campaign team spent time in Club Fed for what amounts to bribery. They weren't borrowing CDBG money so they could pay the bills. They were stealing. Another Reibman cabinet member resigned in disgrace when he was caught wife-swapping on the County dime. Yet another was forced to resign after his sexual harassment of female employees became intolerable.

But they legacy left by Reibman was still being felt by the County last year. That's when the County had to pay $25 million to get out of a ridiculous swaption he promoted in 2004.

But Reibman is obviously behind in the polls, so he's starting to get dirty, and even has Callahan going to jail.

“What’s far worse than John Callahan going to jail, is that the community could lose its CBGD funding and other federal grant funding. What he did for a short-term fix and political expediency was putting the financial well-being of the City in jeopardy. We can’t have this in the Northampton County Executive’s office. We need a leader with the experience, vision and results to lead Northampton County,” Reibman concluded.

Scott Parsons on Wrestling: It Takes a Family

Before the real fighting got underway at last night's NorCo Council meeting, Scott Parsons stepped down from the dais to recognize four wrestling stars on their way to bigger and better things. Saying that he wanted to draw attention to some of the good things happening locally, Parsons admitted he was once a wrestling ref. "Yes, I did throw people out of gyms," he confessed. As long as he never tells Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, Parsons should be OK.

Parsons noted most of these young men been have been wrestling for many years. This means their parents have sacrificed untold hours carting them to practices, matches and tournaments.

"It takes a family to do this," he observed. He's absolutely right, no matter what sport. At this time of year, many moms and dads are spending several nights every week, surrounding baseball diamonds, not because they love baseball, but because they love their children.
Scott Parsons (yes, he is standing, too) introduces Aaron Bradley, Nazareth High School, rated the second best heavyweight wrestler in the country. Aaron went 37-1 this year, and is 113-19 overall.  
Saucon Valley's Ray O'Donnell, state champ, went 44-3 this year, and is on his way to Princeton

Becahi's Daren Cruz, rated #3 in the country in his weight group, will attend Lehigh U
Pen Argyl's Racciato, 44-0  in the 145 lbs. weight group this year, is on his way to U.  Pitt.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Deputy Who Leaked LTCF Application Faces Felony Prosection

Northampton County Deputy Sheriff Darin Ray Steward,, who is active in the Deputy Sheriffs' union and is also a part-time police officer, faces criminal charges after leaking Tricia Mezzacappa's LTCF application to West Easton Borough Council President Kelly Gross. Steward and Gross are long-time friends.

Last November, Tricia Mezzacappa was convicted of disorderly conduct after a tirade at West Easton Boro Hall, during which two witnesses testified that Mezzacappa threatened to drag Gross to the Delaware River and drown her. Mezzacappa has also fantasized at The Express Times web page, on three separate occasions, about putting a "hollow point" bullet through my skull. Mezzacappa's account at that site was subsequently terminated.

Mezzacappa, who incidentally is a GOP candidate for both County and West Easton Borough Council, listed Attorney Rick Orloski and Executive John Stoffa as references on her application. Neither was contacted. Both would have urged the Sheriff NOT to grant the LTCF.

Attorney Orloski received the application in an anonymous letter, and forwarded the matter to both Sheriff Randy Miller and DA John Morganelli. Orloski represents me in a defamation action I've filed against Mezzacappa.

This leak cast a public spotlight on a systemic failure to check references in the Sheriff's Office, and at a time when gun violence is increasingly on people's minds.

While I do not condone Steward's actions, I believe criminal sanctions are too harsh. Rather than violating the public trust, this whistleblower upheld it. I believe it may have led Sheriff Miller to revoke Mezzacappa's LTCF, although the Sheriff has previously declined comment on that point.

Although no charges have been filed against Kelly Gross, the investigation continues.

GOP Robo Call Warns Voters About Tricia Mezzacappa

A robo call from 253-753-9030 is warning GOP voters about Tricia Mezzacappa, citing her disorderly conduct conviction, current harassment charges and the negativity that she has embraced on her hate blog. Callers have told me that this call is being made by a PAC, but they were unable to remember the name.

If you get the call, try to get the name of the PAC involved, and post in the comments, along with whatever other details you think are relevant.

Updated 12:15: Robo Call Comes From PaCAN.

PaCan, which bills itself as "Pennsylvania’s Grassroots Small Business Advocate," has sent me an email, taking responsibility for the robo call. Here's the email.

We appreciate your coverage of this issue. Ms. Mezzacappa should never have been embraced by the former Republican Chair or as a serious candidate for Northampton County Council. It is an embarrassment to everyone who wants to see responsible government in Northampton County. We are working hard to educate Norco voters. We're also fund raising for a more sustained effort. Here's the text of our robocall below:

"This is an alert for Northampton County Republicans regarding Tricia Mezzacappa, candidate for Northampton County Council.

In the past, someone like Mezzacappa never would have made it onto the ballot.

Mezzacappa has a conviction for disorderly conduct after making death threats and is now being prosecuted for harassment. And, there's more...a lot more at www.MeetMezzacappa.com.

Please Vote May 21st and keep Tricia Mezzacappa from hurting the other fine Republican candidates in November.

Paid for by PACAN's PACAN PAC."

MIA McClure

As it does every month, Northampton County Council's Personnel and Finance Committees met yesterday afternoon. And as happen every month, Council member and Executive candidate Lamont McClure was absent. He attended just 2 budget hearings and only went to just 4 of the 30 committee hearings held in 2012. His combined attendance was just 47%. The year before, it was even worse, at 41%. Since his appointment to Council in 2006, he has consistently been among the worst, when it comes to attendance.

His legal and judiciary committee is now in its third year without a single meeting.

Part of yesterday's meeting involved Nazareth's ailing pool. Borough Council President Dan Chiavaroli had the courtesy to come and lay out the problem. But McClure, who just happens to represent the Nazareth District, couldn't be bothered to be there.

In March, McClure missed another important meeting involving ambulance service to Gracedale, which is served by Nazareth Ambulance, located in his District.

If he's unable to represent the citizens within his own District, how will he represent the citizens of this County?

Shouldn't Northampton County Take Care of Its Buildings?

Flags at half mast in memory of Boston Marathon victims
When Executive John Stoffa proposed a centralized human services building in Bethlehem Township, one of the reasons advanced was the poor condition of the Governor Wolf Building in Easton, where 173 human services employees are located. Children and Youth workers presented a jaw-dropping power point. It depicted grisly conditions that endanger not only the people who work there, but innocent children who are already the victims of abuse and neglect. Obviously, the County does a terrible job taking care of its buildings. Yesterday's Finance Committee hearing provides a glimpse into just how that happens.

At issue was a contract for a preventative maintenance plan for the corrections buildings in Easton and West Easton. This includes the old prison, which has been standing since 1871. As Council President John Cusick observes, "Duct tape only does so far."

A three-year contract with D'Huy Engineering was proposed at a cost of $119,000 for the first year, followed by $40,000 retainers for years 2 and 3. If dissatisfied, Council could vote not to fund the retainers in years 2 and 3. Under the proposed contract, D'Huy would provide an overall assessment of existing systems to help the Corrections Department develop a plan to keep everything up and running.

There was some confusion concerning the terms, so the matter was tabled. Ken Kraft also balked at "throwing money" for yet another plan, and mocked the notion of paying an annual $40,000 retainer to D'Huy for the "privilege" of letting them charge the County hourly. Those points were well made.

But then Kraft suggested that the County should just let this go because we'll have a new Executive in January. "The Executive had 8 years to put a new plan in place," he complained. "Now they want to bring up all these things and do the right thing."

Let's assume Council decides it better wait. If it does, it will take at least two years for that Executive to understand what the hell is going on. And when he does, he may have a Council that is unwilling to work with him. That problem plagued John Stoffa in his first term. And that's how County assets deteriorate. So my answer to Ken is that it's never too late to do the right thing. John Stoffa is the Executive until the end of the year.

Scott Parsons took issue with Ken as well. "Are we supposed to sit here on our hands, waiting for a new Executive?" he asked.

When that happens, things don't get done. Buildings deteriorate. The Gracedale parking lot looks more and more like a moon crater.

NorCo Sheriff Will Seek More Personnel

Sheriff Miller with department accreditation
Both this blog and The Express Times have disclosed that the Northampton County Sheriff's office, which has been overwhelmed by concealed carry permit applications, has stopped checking references. And at yesterday's Personnel Committee hearing, Council President John Cusick accepted at least some of the responsibility.

He pointed out that Sheriff Randy Miller had asked for additional staff last year, but his request was shelved by Council because of a pending contract with the Deputy Sheriffs' union. Although that contract was approved several months ago, no requests for additional staff have come from the Stoffa administration, noted Cusick.

They're coming.

Director of Administration Tom Harp told Cusick that he and Sheriff Miller have had several meetings concerning the staffing, and a proposal will be forwarded next month with a budget amendment.

Reibman Snags Laborers Local Endorsement

Laborers Local 1174 announced its endorsement of Glenn Reibman for Northampton County Executive yesterday. “Glenn Reibman has a proven record of a strong commitment to project labor agreements and working families,” said Business Manager James Hartman. “His past record and future dedication are the reasons why Laborers Local 1174 is proud to endorse Glenn Reibman for Northampton County Executive.”

“I appreciate the support of local labor,” said Reibman. “The Laborers recognize the thousands of jobs that I brought to the County, and the number of family-sustaining jobs that my Capital Projects produced. They know that I will continue to support local labor and working families as County Executive.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Simao Resigns as NorCo GOP Treasurer

Treasurer Resignation Letter, Tony Simao, NorCo GOP

As a point of clarification, I should note that I attended a meeting of the NorCo GOP at the Northampton County Courthouse. That is the people's building, and I needed no invitation from anyone. Chairman Robert Kerr stated I was welcome, but now I see Simao whining about it.

Donovan: Do You Wish To Lose Control Over Your Most Precious Asset?

Michael Donovan is usually quiet and unassuming, but not at yesterday's news conference. At yesterday's news conference concerning Allentown's proposed water privatization, this Cedar Crest professor and independent candidate for Mayor took the Socratic approach to Allentown's proposed water lease.

"Do you wish to lose control of your most precious asset?

"Do you wish that your government gives away this extremely important asset?

"Do you wish to have an opportunity to say No, because if you do not even have an opportunity to say No, you've been shut out?

"Do you wish to have the opportunity to give your reasons why you wish to say No?

"Some will say that the LCA [Lehigh County Authority] arrangement is the best option. It may be financially, and a you know, I have a great experience in finance. But I ask, what is the cost of giving up control?

"What is the cost of politicians covering their poor decisions over a decade?

"And what is the cost of giving up and shutting down dissent?