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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, May 09, 2014

Jesus Watches State Senate Democratic Hopefuls

Joe Capozzolo, Mark Aurand, Scott Parsons
Three Democrats vying for the nod in the new 40th state senate district were on their best behavior during a debate before about 50 people last night. They had no choice. Not only were they in Gracedale Chapel, but they were seated directly below a gigantic picture of Jesus Christ. A golden cross and open Bible were right behind them. Scott Parsons and Joe Capozzolo looked a bit out of place in that setting, not knowing whether they should genuflect, drink holy water or kiss the Bible. But for Mark Aurand, the son of a Lutheran preacher, this was like having a home field advantage. He was the most polished of the three in an evening during which the candidates mostly agreed with each other. Scott Parsons, a blue collar type despite being a member of County Council, came across very well as the Everyman. Capozzolo displayed the most humor.

Jesus is not running. He forgot to register. 
The 40th Senate District, incidentally, is made up of the northern half of Northampton County and most of Monroe County. State Rep. Mario Scavello is the sole Republican running, and will face the victorious Democrat in November. He's been running for the past two years, and is well financed.

Scott Parsons, a quarry worker, is a member of Northampton County Council and has served as president of Wind Gap Borough Council. Capozzolo, a clothing manufacturer, is the Mayor of Bangor and served as an appointee on Northampton County Council. Aurand is an attorney practicing in Allentown, and has been an activist for the past six years.

Though Jesus was in the background, he played no role in the debate. It was hosted by the Northampton County League of Women Voters. I love to tease them, but I'm very thankful for their efforts. Lafayette College's John Kincaid served as moderator. He posed questions, and gave the candidates an opportunity to ask one question of each other.

Voting

As might be expected, all three Democrats oppose the Voter ID law. Aurand called it a "solution to made up problem." Even Governor Corbett has vowed to take no appeal of a ruling that found the new law to be unconstitutional. All three support early voting.

About 50 attendees
Fracking

There are slight differences between their stances on this topic. Parsons supports a moratorium for fracking on publicly owned land, as well as a 5% severance tax. But he supports fracking. "We need the natural gas," he argued,

Capozzolo and Aurand, by contrast, support a complete moratorium on fracking, whether it is on public or private land. "We need to protect our water," said Capozzolo. He supports a 7.5% severance tax,  and noted several times during the evening that Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that imposes no severance tax.

Aurand called fracking an example of a "big money interests" that "have come into Pennsylvania and have been able to get what they wish." He pledged to stand up for the people, and wants a severance tax as close to 10% as possible.

Scott Parsons
Transportation Funding

All three Democrats support the recently enacted transportation bill, but all three are displeased about the rise in gas taxes to pay for it. Aurand suggested that an infrastructure bank be set up that could provide low interest loans. Parsons stressed more uniform bridge designs that would reduce costs significantly. Capozzolo would pay for the transportation bill with the severance tax. In fact, he proposed the severance tax as the source for just about all new spending he supported throughout the night.

Public Education

Capozzolo would impose a moratorium on charter school applications, complaining that the funding formula is unfair. Parsons added that it is the state's obligation to fund 50% of a school district's needs, and argued that charter schools and similar programs should be incorporated into vo-tech schools. Aurand stated "there's a place" for charter schools, but noted that the Corbett administration drastically cut spending. "We need to reverse that," he noted, adding that he recently discovered that schools in Stroudsburg only get 23% of their funding from the state.

Joe Capozzolo
Property Tax Reform

Capozzolo noted that every election cycle, there is a proposal to eliminate property taxes, often accompanied by a patriotic-sounding name like HB 1776. Holding up a dollar bill, he asked if anyone wanted to bet whether it would be enacted. "It's not going to pass," he predicted. "It's not going to see the light of day."

Parsons complained that the proposal is unworkable because it creates a sales tax that will hurt seniors, and an income tax that will disproportionately hurt low and middle income workers.

Aurand called the proposal "well intentioned," a "response to pleas of the people." But the chief problem in his view is that all the money would go to the state. "Local people aren't going to have any say," he observed. He also noted the bill would actually help places like Wal Mart, which would have no property tax. "We need to find a better way to deal with this problem" he concluded.

Mark Aurand
Medicaid Expansion

All three Democrats support Medicaid expansion in contrast to the Governor's proposal to create a private market option for 520,000 Pennsylvanians in need of health care coverage. "Our Governor decided for political reasons not to participate," complained Aurand. Cappozzolo would pay for it, like everything else, with the severance tax. But Aurand had another source. He noted that Republicans have cut business and corporate taxes by $1.2 billion. Parsons added that the expansion, which would help people in the gap, would also create between 35-39,000 jobs.

Gun Control

Parsons supports the 2d Amendment, adding that "criminals aren't going to abide" by tighter laws. Capozzolo said everyone in his family is a hunter, and he supports both the 2d Amendment and "more stringent background checks." Aurand stated he respects the right of people to have guns, but not those with mental health issues or who engage in domestic violence.

Silly Time

When it was time for candidates to question each other, Capozzolo gave a speech about being positive and then demanded Parsons to name all the municipalities in Monroe County. Parsons started and was up to about 12 when his time ran out. Aurand rejected the question. "It's more important that I talk to the people than that I know the name of the municipality.'

Parsons asked Capozzolo why some of his campaign literature lacks the union bug. Capozzolo answered it was done by a local Bethlehem business.

Aurand was asked why he never ran for anything, and is suddenly running for state senate. Aurand noted he has been an activist and later stated that he is an attorney who advocates and negotiates."It seems to me that's pretty good training to be a lawmaker," he reasoned.

Audience

Though most of the crowd were in one of the three camps, there were a few undecided voters present, like Helen and Aaron Newman, from Bushkill Township. They are concerned about negative campaigning by Democrats in the Governor's race.

There were also Republicans in the House.

"What's the enemy doing here?" I asked Republican Ben Hedrick, who was with County Council member Hayden Phillips. "I'm here to listen to both sides," he told me.

As I was leaving, I asked Gracedale Administrator Dee Freeman about why the Chapel seems to be set up exclusively for Christian services. He turned into Samuel L. Jackson.

"And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."

All right, all right. .

I'm guessing a Menorah is out of the question.

45 comments:

Bev said...

Pretty decent review of event, actually.

Anonymous said...

Larry, Moe and Curly. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

Anonymous said...

LOL, white Jesus.....

Anonymous said...

Aurand is not helping himself by flashing the "loser" sign!

Anonymous said...

I am fully in favor of REPLACING property tax funding for education with a small increase in the current sales tax.Reasons for avoiding this just don't hold up, as I see it.

First of all, property taxation of COMMERCIAL properties can continue as always. They are clearly identified already and can be assessed differently than non-commercial units that would be relieved under a more equitable system.

Secondly, if sales taxation is unfair to some, but not others, why are opponents of HB1776 not working to eliminate our CURRENT 6% levy?

NO, renters do not pay comparable school property taxation through their monthly rent payments. Two unit building do not pay double the school taxes. Just as 50 unit buildings do not pay 50 times the single unit amount. This is easy to demonstrate.

As a property owner, my vote will not go to anyone who does not support HB1776. Certainly, renters will have a different opinion.

Fred Windish





Anonymous said...

Fred, HB 1776 is from 2012 and is dead. SB76 is the current scam, and will be dead after the election. It's a lie!

Anonymous said...

8:54-

Thanks! No matter what it's called, I believe the concept has plenty of merit.

The greatest fear people have is ending up with BOTH the current property tax amount for schools and additional sales taxes to also fund schools. I am against that. We'll still need some property taxation, of course, to cover police, fire, roads, etc.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Well, at least religion wasn't as flagrantly flaunted as during the "Prime Time" reports at the NFL draft last night. It was like an old time tent revival!

Anonymous said...

Parsons is right that we need natural gas and the jobs that it creates.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Prime Time and the NFL can flaunt religion all they want. The Gracedale Chapel is a wonderful room. It has both a piano and an organ, and I think both are heavily used.

Anonymous said...

Parsons is right that we need natural gas and the jobs that it creates.

Bingo. The other two are radical liberals on this issue. A Democrat has to be centrist to win this district and Scott understands the lower cost energy and good blue collar jobs this industry has created in PA.

Matt M. said...

Hey Fred,

I'm going to politely disagree with the tax shift to a sales tax. As someone who works close to the minimum wage, a broader sweeping increased sales tax will hurt, especially the clothing aspect. My workboots cost $90 for the pair. I go through 3 pairs a year, at a current cost of $270. Under the clothing part of the sales tax, my steel-tips jump from 270 to 288.80. What's $18? About 2 hours more work after the increased income tax to the Commonwealth, health insurance, SSI, FICO, UCI, The Fed, a few bones for my 401k...

I'm already facing $5 more per month in fuel costs thanks to a shitty transportation bill, speculators running rampant on heating oil and pricing games with electricity. As a home owner, I'd love to see some relief, too, but at what cost?

I think the lottery needs to do more for Seniors, or revamp the Lottery, Gaming and Liquor to completely fund education, and cut property taxes in half. Cut the overhead in both of those departments.

Anonymous said...

You have turned my Fathers house into a den of dumb.I was not pleased

Jesus

Anonymous said...

More fracking and make them pay for the privilege to extract the gas!
The environment will be ok, and we will all see lower costs I am sure my kids won't be staying in Pa when they grow up so they'll be ok, too.

Anonymous said...

Matt M. -

I'm glad you have given some thought to this proposal.

I'm probably more concerned with the elderly widow who happens to own her residence. With a little luck, you'll become a homeowner, too. Then, you'll face a lifetime of school property taxes.

Please remember, NO ONE escapes paying sales tax forever. All money is eventually spent. Sometimes, the person spending the money is a drug dealer, an illegal working for cash, a bank robber, a welfare cheat. Each should help to fund public education regardless where they live, in a manner tied to their ability to make purchases in the first place.

NO ONE likes paying taxes. That much is true.

Fred Windish

Matt M. said...

Hi Fred,

5 years ago when times were better, my wife and I bought a house in Northampton School District. We've been very fortunate that they've been fairly reasonable with tax hikes over that time. Then the economy went south, and after bouts of temp jobs and unemployment, my options ran out. The job market is nearly impossible, and I fortunately landed somewhere close to home, but started at the bottom again.

I can certainly sympathize with the widow factor, but there are a lot of younger families struggling just the same. I think most people agree we need some sort of reform, but when we have a Lottery system that boasts to help older Pennsylvanians, they need to put their money where their mouth is. Eliminating half of the 7 figure board would eliminate property taxes for 10 seniors alone.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I can't believe you outed me! I just hope my friends will respect me in the morning.

I am in Lisa's district so this was the only debate by "those other folks" that was available.

I like learning both sides of an issue because if you only hear what you always heard you never hear anything new. And I am old enough to know that I don't know everything and am not always right.

I would like to see more people attending debates by the other party although you mostly hear the party line and not much of the "why" they feel or think that way. That's where the meat is and that is were we can work to come together.

I was impressed when you approached Hayden, shook his hand, and said that you misjudged him. I really respect that.

Keep up the good work but please don't mention seeing me at these types of things as it is very bad for my image.

Ben

Bernie O'Hare said...

I understand, Ben. There is probably a 12-step group. Actually, you and Phillips are the ones who impressed me.

Anonymous said...

I also witnessed Bernie telling Hayden he had misjudged him. I thought Hayden was a nut job initially also but not anymore. Good job Bernie. I respect your reversal of thought and being up front about that change. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bernie. As misguided, ill-advised and foolhardy as it may seem, I use your reports of candidate appearances to help make my voting decisions.

I agree with the candidates - this form of property tax reform will never happen.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Although this post is about the state senate race, I did tell Hayden Phillips last night that I had misjudged him. Ideologically, I don't think we have much in common. I will likely be critical of many of his votes. But he has demonstrated to me that he is a man of conscience. That's a rarity in government. His attempt to restore accountability in goverment through something seemingly as mundane as maintenance, is also quite refreshing. So I meant what I said.

Peter J.Cochran said...

HB1776 is picking up speed. Every single home owner ,party aside should be talking about this. . School districts should live with- in their means,and not keep screwing up with unqualified management like in Easton!Mostly overpaid for their skill levels. The other issue is that a former CEO of J%J for example who knows "HOW TO" run a 160 Million Dollar outfit can't be a school administrator because that person is not in the ED BIZ "certification"not and "educator" and thus can't fill the position in Pennsylvania. The teachers unions have a selective pool that is almost impermeable and unavailable to others with PROVEN TRACK records of financial success. This comment is no reflection on our present school administrator. I personally believe he is a good man, and believe he inherited 6 years of NON-_SENCE, no logic, only greed, greed is good!!! Pay the MONEY to the SCIENCE MATH AND CHEMISTRY-AND PHYSICS ,they should get $109.742.46 a year not an administrator.WE have it back -ass.

Peter J.Cochran said...

YA BERNIE , so you almost fell over when you saw I made contributions to his campaign>--- Well thank you Bern; No substitute for personal integrity. See, Mr Phillips has been "vetted" by facilities as a Marine Officer, that civilians can not truly redeem what this means.If he didn't pay a parking ticket in Biloxi - believe me they would have know about it.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, I just spent 36min'ts trying to E-Mail Lafayette College someplace, my starter wife and Me of 25 years are now screaming at each other about why we can't figure out how to send a simple message ; ABOUT A WOMAN IN A WHITE TOYOTA that allegedly points a firearm a a student ,nice lady. Well I have her in my sights now after she gave my buddy a 67 year old Veitnam Vet with a Purple Heart Tag on the car THE FINGER.Needless to say she is ON MY SHIT LIST>Can you help me? I want her ass if she did point a gun at a student.AND I CAN FIND HER>and the pervert with the green -blue jeep in the west ward. They are both easy pry.But L/C I would think would have an EZ system because in some situations E-Mail is QUIET and in a hostel situation in a school E-Mail gives intell.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter. Are you telling us a woman in a white toyota pointed a firearm at a Lafayette student, then gave your buddy the finger?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, just deleted a taunt from one of the trolls who likes to attack you. His name is Henry C Schaadt, and he lives on N Delaware Drive. He is a sicko who once sent me pictures of Goebbel's corpse.

Anonymous said...

"by facilities as a Marine Officer"

Peter will you please get off this marine mancrush you have. there are murderers that were marines. Hell L.H. Oswald was a Marine.

Your manlove for Marines doesn't translate in to top notch personal character.

Enough already.

Lloyd T.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This guy's name, Peter, is Henry Schaadt. Could be tat you executed a warrant or two against him.

Anonymous said...

Pete's a god egg. A guy whose last name is the past tense of "shit," is just that.

Anonymous said...

*good

Anonymous said...

No one is a god egg.

Anonymous said...

There was a correction from the typo god to good. Try reading asshole. But you won't because you're an asshole.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Saturday night trolls are out.

Anonymous said...

Now, now the Bedrock fans of Barney Rubble are getting mad. Where did you find a size 32 neck in a dress shirt?

Anonymous said...

The C.O.A.F supports Scott Parsons and thanks this blog for it's continued coverage of local elections.

Jack

Anonymous said...

Property tax, sales tax, blah blah blah...

Enough with the douchenozzlery, already!

I have yet to meet a PSEA terrorist worth its pay. I have met MANY who are worth substantially less, and more than a few who have no business anywhere near a school.

These universally economic, and sometimes literal, pedophiles, from the drunken womanizing gym freaks to the child molesting drama teachers, from the crack smoking naked porn watching bone smuggler to the illiterate, ethically challenged english teachers, from the wee-men superintendents who hire them to the fucktardarian boards that rubber stamp debt so their kids can live large at the expense of future generations of taxpayers...

They must be told: "Here's your pay losers. 20% across the board cuts and frozen until we get our noses above water. Don't like it? Get the fuck out! You are not very bright and are easily replaced. The cost continues to escalate only because you've purchased whores in Harrisburg, WHORES in Harrisburg who have sold you the legal right to hold children and your employers hostage. You are pigs who, despite more and more money every year, accomplish less and less.

But that will not happen, because morons make up the majority, morons who think the discussion really out to be (and I am laughing loudly at you dumb fucks) "What, REALLY, is the fairest way to continue to overpay extortionists, to give golden parachutes to the inept, to overbuild and overpay at every turn, cuz they said my little Jimmy is so cute and he's going to get to play on the football team?

Come on, dipshits. Wake up!

-Clem.

Anonymous said...

Property tax, sales tax, blah blah blah...

Enough with the douchenozzlery, already!

I have yet to meet a PSEA terrorist worth its pay. I have met MANY who are worth substantially less, and more than a few who have no business anywhere near a school.

These universally economic and, sometimes, literal pedophiles, from the drunken womanizing gym freaks to the child molesting drama teachers, from the crack smoking naked porn watching bone smuggler to the illiterate, ethically challenged English teachers, from the wee-men superintendents who hire them to the fucktardarian boards that rubber stamp debt so their kids can live large at the expense of future generations of taxpayers...

They must be told: "Here's your pay losers. 20% across the board cuts and frozen until we get our noses above water. Don't like it? Get the fuck out! You are not very bright and are easily replaced. The cost continues to escalate only because you've purchased whores in Harrisburg, WHORES in Harrisburg who have sold you the legal right to hold children and your employers hostage. You are pigs who, despite more and more money every year, accomplish less and less.

But that will not happen, because morons make up the majority, morons who think the discussion really out to be (and I am laughing loudly at you dumb fucks) "What, REALLY, is the fairest way to continue to overpay extortionists, to give golden parachutes to the inept, to overbuild and overpay at every turn, cuz they said my little Jimmy is so cute and he's going to get to play on the football team?

Come on, dipshits. Wake up!

-Clem.

Anonymous said...

Clem,

You live in a very unhappy place. My condolences to you.

Fred Windish

Peter J.Cochran said...

F T;Lee Harvey Oswald did not murder anybody. He was an intell guy around the U-2 Project, thus his ties to the CUBANS and thus Russians; He was yesterday's SNOWDEN-- He was not capable, not an EXPERT RIFLEMEN and had a crappy Italian rifle with rusted ,pitted lands and groves.You know as much about this issue as the people did on The Warren Commission.Sorry to wind you up,but Oswald was a staged stooge,the fall guy. BERNIE <YES, and LC with all their "smart people" should read today's local paper and social media EXPRESS TIMES 12 May,2014 top half of fold REF: POLICE and texting.OLD PETER

Anonymous said...

http://connect.lehighvalleylive.com/user/PORCINEPRINCESS/index.html

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, Ok, I got her in my head!! I came together or merged with the alleged 'gun flasher lady' that had two other thugs in the car on the day she threatened a LC student.She has no idea this happened. The report in the paper not very good I find out, and I suspect the occupant guest passengers are bottom feeders.They should be looked at to bet there ie "PAPER ON THEM". L/C "lead security person has failed to return my call as of 16;45 hrs. Friday09 May 14- so this is on them,at this point. Should I see how long it takes to .... or be a good guy and call EPD? Ethics ,demeanor, and probable cause play here.I would approach her at home unannounced with 'Heavy Machinery" they will find something good here.Old Peter.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"http://connect.lehighvalleylive.com/user/PORCINEPRINCESS/index.html"

Scott is so lucky to have a lunatic like her in his corner.

Anonymous said...

I got a robo call last night. Parsons paid for it, but I pushed #1 for Joe Cap. If the pig-woman is for Parsons, I ain't. Plus hes not that good.

Anonymous said...

The pig woman is for no one except herself. Self absorbed is the right word and the last time I looked she is a Republican.

Anonymous said...

Commercial properties cannot be taxed without a chnage in the PA Constitution which requires equal application of taxes. In fact, under Gov Casey's property tax plan that exact question was put on the ballot and was defeated.