(This is an open letter to J. Willie Reynolds, President of Bethlehem City Council).
On January 30, you were forced to endure a six-hour long special meeting of City Council, convened to interview 11 applicants for the vacancy created when Bob Donchez resigned his seat to ascend into the Mayoral atmosphere. The reason for this lengthy meeting, we both know, is Karen Dolan. Though she had already decided she was supporting one of the candidates, she felt it necessary to belittle other applicants. Even Ron Heckman, a former Director of Northampton County's Human Services, was basically told he's too white and too male. A CPA was demeaned. It was City Council at its worse. In fact, it's what prompted me to look at Dolan's nonprofit.
During a meeting I had with Dolan at Illick's Mill in February, I learned that she had failed to file her nonprofit tax returns for three years straight. As a result, her nonprofit status was revoked by the IRS and stayed that way for at least a year, while she had to re-file. I decided against writing about it because she broke down in tears, said it would ruin her nonprofit and promised that she would be more respectful to people who come before your body.
I was to later learn that she told you and at least one other Council member that I was writing no story because it lacked merit. If she told you this, it was a lie. In fact, I began learning that she had told me lies, too. For example, she assured me she was paying the utilities at her nonprofit, except for heating oil, and couldn't understand why she was getting free oil. We now know that she actually voted for the free heating oil in two city budgets, and that Bethlehem has been footing utility bills for several years.
When she used her position as Parks Chair to promote easing alcohol limits in City Parks, you appropriately ended her role there. It was one of several blatant conflicts of interest that diminish all of you.
I am writing to request that you ask Dolan to step down from another City Council Committee - Human Resources and Environment. It is Dolan, an eight-year veteran of Council, who acted as ringleader to turn a simple appointment to the Parking Authority, an unpaid volunteer position, into the Spanish Inquisition. Diana Morganelli, wife of the District Attorney, was assailed with ridiculous questions that even included the square foot per parking lot spaces and the capital of Assyria.
In the face of public condemnation, Dolan called the whole thing "an incredible learning experience" and paid homage to treating others with more respect. But given her track record, I think that's impossible. Her continued presence on a committee that interviews appointees is going to continue to diminish City Council in the eyes of the public. For that reason, I request that she be removed.