Friday, January 02, 2015
LVR's 2014 in Review - January Through June
Northampton County Executive John Brown is sworn into office and declares, "I am here to serve." Later that month, he fires Sheriff Randy Miller, who supported Callahan. He also tries to appoint newly elected Judge Jennifer Sletvold's husband as Chief Public Defender, pretty much because she's a Republican who helped get him elected. This would make it nearly impossible for her to hear criminal cases. Brown eventually pulled this nomination after five Council members made clear they could not back him on that deal. But they did go along with his appointment of voice over artist Diane Donaher as Director of Community and Economic Development,
In Bethlehem Township, two elderly residents are threatened with the death penalty for keeping birdfeeders.
Hundreds die during the shit wars between Ron Angle and the Irish Republican Army over his God-given right to spread sludge on his farmland. Heavy snows produce an uneasy truce.
Municipalities are running out of road salt to deal with storms in what is proving to be a horrible winter.
A Northampton County Investigating Grand Jury exposes mismanagement at the National Museum if Industrial Steel. This includes both an overpaid CEO and Board members like Lee Butz, who appear to use their positions on the nonprofit to benefit financially.
After a six-hour Bethlehem City Council meeting to determine Bob Donchez' successor, in which Karen Dolan insulted nearly every applicant as too white, too male, too politically naive, or just simply too old, Council decides on ubanista Cathy Reuscher. She sounds just like Minnie Mouse. Then Dolan goes to work on removing Chris Spadoni as City Council Solicitor.
In Upper Mount Bethel, the shit wars take an unexpected turn when Angle ally Mark Thatcher tosses School Director Tony Lynch's phone into an unflushed shitter at the Mount Bethel Diner. Its ringtone was set to Wagner, and Thatcher hates Wagner. Even Angle's team of Navy Seal divers are unable to retrieve the phone after several hours of effort.
A cocaine user found unconscious outside the jail turns out to be corrections officer Brian Michael Peters. He currently is scheduled for an "alternative sentencing" of some sort on January 27. Neither daily has picked up on a corrections officer doing drugs right outside the jail, or the long period of toime that has gone by with no resolution.
John Brown asks Council to approve a $715, 200 "business consultant," and then calls a news conference in which he reads a statement claiming he is both transparent and willing to work with Council. He claims he is steering the County in the right direction after it has been a "drifting ship without direction" over the last 16 years.
An angry Mat Benol chastised a Council member for participating in a blog discussion here concerning that failed contract. Benol supports government behind closed doors.
Bethlehem City Council unanimously votes to fire a police officer for an off-duty DUI involving no personal injury. During the kangaroo court, they actually chose to believe a bar bouncer, who himself was house arrest for a second offense DUI, over the word of police officers.
During his first "State of the County" address, Exec John Brown calls the NorCo worker its most valuable asset. "It's not how many speeches I give," he states, "but how the county workforce reacts with the public that matters." NorCo Exec John Brown reveals he has hired Bangor Boro Council Prez Cathy Allen as a Deputy Director of Administration.
Along party lines, NorCo Council refuses to condemn an $84,000 no-bid contract for a public relations consultant
Lower Nazareth Supervisors ponder pulling out of Colonial Regional Police to form their own department. Chairman Eric Nagle concedes Colonial Regional Police are "the best in the state as far as I'm concerned," but is concerned by the rising costs.
Bethlehem Planning Director Darlene Heller reveals that residential development has plummeted from a high of 681 units in 2007 to just 46 in 2013.
Northampton County Judge Edward G Smith is confirmed as a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pa.
I obtain a $67,140 defamation verdict against West Easton common scold Tricia Mezzacappa. She fraudulently conveys her house, which is owned free and clear, to her mother. She also begins to hide assets and refuses to allow Sheriff to levy on her assets.
Bethlehem City Council member Karen Dolan comes under fire when this blog reports that her nonprofit status at the Illick's Mill was revoked for failure to file nonprofit tax returns for three years in a row. This blog also reports that Dolan is using her position on Council to enrich her nonprofit. "We're not the National Museum of Industrial History," Dolan claims. "We've done everything by the book always." Bethlehem produces 90 pages of documents detailing a $127,000 debt owed by Dolan's nonprofit to the City. DA John Morganelli convenes an Investigating Grand Jury.
In an effort at damage control, Dolan resigns as Executive Director of the nonprofit.
This blog is the first news source to report that State Senator Lisa Boscola is accused of a drunken assault inside a Harrisburg bar. Senator Boscola provides no comment to me, but speaks to other news sources.
Executive John Brown names Cathy Allen, who has a high school education and whose prior job experience consists of managing a two-person office, as his Director of Administration. By a 6-3 vote, the nomination fails.
In Bethlehem Township, long-time Commissioner Tom Nolan is unceremoniously dumped as President in favor of Marty Zaworski.
This blog reveals that Executive John Brown is sitting on an untapped $2.375 million slush fund in table games revenue that he can pretty much use as he sees fit.
Bethlehem Township Commissioners are unsympathetic to a township resident who wants to walk his dog in Township parks. They're still getting used to people being there.
The Shit Wars end in Upper Mount Bethel, with the formation of a nonprofit to provide farmers with cover crops, which are just as good as fertilizer, but far less toxic. Maude Davis is the Peacemaker, and even convinces Ron Angle to contribute.
Bethlehem City Council member Karen Dolan persuades two Council newbies to reject Diana Morganelli as a nominee to the Bethlehem parking Authority, pretty much because she's a stay-at-home mom. She also happens to be the wife of the District Attorney investigating Dolan. When the matter goes to the full Council, Morganelli is unanimously confirmed. Dolan later complained that their earlier decision had been "mischaracterized,
Instead of investigating Karen Dolan's conflicts of interest, Express Times reporter Lynn Olanoff files a Right-to-Know request with Bethlehem to find out who is leaking information about Dolan to me. She believes in comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted, I guess.
Northampton County's Revenue Appeals Board begins a quiet war on the Church, challenging the tax exempt status of many properties and then sitting in judgment of its own challenges.
Council bails out a failed golf course developer in Lower Saucon Township with open space funds. They'll let him keep his banquet hall, which will now be more valuable. They also decide to blow money to preserve cliff lands surrounded by other cliff lands that are already preserved.
DA John Morganelli warns Easton Mayor Sal Panto about the dangers of granting driver licenses to undocumented immigrants. He worries that those kinds of actions could make cities like Easton a magnet for foreign criminals. Panto ignores the DA, probably because Easton is already a magnet for foreign criminals.
NorCo Exec John Brown reports that eight of the County's 11 unions, which represent 75% of the workforce, have no contracts. Two more contracts are set to expire by year's end. The last will expire at the end of 2015.
Independent auditor reveals that the County ended 2013 with just $11.1 million in its unrestricted reserve, a dangerously low amount for a County that spends $8-10 million per month.
Lower Nazareth decides to stick with Colonial Regional Police coverage. They make their decision before entertaining public comment. Though that violates the Sunshine Act, no one complains, not even me.
Nazareth police decide to prosecute a woman known to all the local businesses, basically because she's a townie. When I complain to Chief Thomas Trachta, I soon learn the only opinion that matters to him is his. This inspires me to take a closer look at Nazareth.
As dozens of tiny, postage stamp-sized Fire Trachta stickers begin to decorate Nazareth, I start reporting the Tales of Trachta with ."Shit Happens" (the story of a plopper left on his front porch); "The Freemason Conspiracy". I am interrupted by the arrest of the infamous Sticker Gang. Trachta had them chained and shackled and them marched them on an unstaged perp parade so the dailies could snap pictures of these infamous criminals.