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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, January 02, 2015

LVR's 2014 in Review - January Through June

I have ferreted out the stories from last year that drew the most attention. The first six months are below. The final six months will publish on Monday.

January  

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.

February

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.

March

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.

April

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.

May

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.

June

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.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"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."

Classic!

Hey Bernie, wasn't January 15 or February 15 the Great Snow That Stopped Certified Mail in West Easton? Something like that.

Anonymous said...

How exactly do you file a RTK to find out who is leaking information?

Bernie O'Hare said...

She filed a RTK for all emails from city workers to me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mezzacappa's notice was delivered before the snowstorm hit. She does not pick up her certified mail

Anonymous said...

When Bill White does this it is both smart and funny.

You are no Bill
White!

Anonymous said...

and either are you....

MegaBakerdude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@12:44 When Bernie does something, it is usually smart and funny. If you don't think so, who cares? Go read Bill White. If Bernie's humor is too smart for you, you won't find it funny.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:44, I love Bill White's annual year in review. This is similar but is based on stories I've written. It is also designed to explain in detail what has happened over the last year. Some of it is funny, like the shit wars. Karen Dolan's behavior is not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was going to do an account of the top ten stories, but liked the chronological approach.

Anonymous said...

Bo grows one year more bitter and one year sadder

Anonymous said...

Has there been any movement with the County on the non-profit exemptions in regards to property taxes?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Now they are shaking the municipalities.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Maybe you can enlighten the public to 11:50 comment as to if non-profits for profit realestate tax status will be changing like the heating source in that particular box?

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

What of Jim Gregory's imprisonment. He has spent another year in prison, some say as a political prisoner

Bernie O'Hare said...

He has spent a little more than a year, and will probably max out bc he is an unrepentant woman beater.

Anonymous said...

There will be a reintegration fundraiser for Mr. Gregory when he is released. Hopefully, you will allow people to publicize it. I doubt even you can't be that cruel.

Anonymous said...

Was an interesting year, to say the least, in Bethlehem and Northampton County. Keep up the good work in 2015!

Hank_Hill

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:27, amazing! There are children in the Lehigh Valley going hungry and you want to have a fundraiser for that cretin.

Anonymous said...

Jim Gregory is hardly a cretin, he is a member of MENSA.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, he is not. But he did manipulate jail inmates into contacting his ex and slipping her notes from him. He was found to have battered his ex and his sister. He was also found to have repeatedly violated the No Contact provisions of his PFA. He has promised revenge against his perceived enemies in his release from state prison. Other than some people joking around, I doubt anyone but Mezzacappa could be serious about a fundraiser for that piece of shit.

Anonymous said...

Great job Bernie! Keep it up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I must be because I'm being attacked (as usual) at The Express Times comment pages. Mezzacappa has a tendency to do it, although I have several fans.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Maybe since he is a MENSA member, maybe he should have his menstral cycle coinciding with the pig lady? this for his new mate as she is out and he is in with no congical?

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

I will donate 10 tokens from Chickie Cheese's to the Gregory fundraiser.

Anonymous said...

Chuckie.... Darn that auto spell check feature!!

Anonymous said...

What ever happend to the CO Brian M Peters? Was he sentenced??

Bernie O'Hare said...

As I mentioned in my story, he is scheduled for alternative sentencing on 1/27.

Anonymous said...

In his defense, Brian is good guy, and at one time a good officer. Unfortunately, he fell victim to his demons. His arrest was noted in the newspaper, just not his occupation. Corrections officers are no different than any other segment of society, but I do get that we are held to a higher standard. Statistically we have higher suicide rates, fall to addictions, yet we persevere through our thankless profession because we know what we signed up for going in. Nobody dreams of becoming a CO growing up but I took this job to take care of my family because of the security of pay and benefits it provides. And now someone is threatening our lively hood by taking that away. Maybe you could look into that Bernie...oh yeah that has been mentioned a few times...lol...sorry, I'm still delirious from all the mandated OT we endured over the holidays while certain Norco politicos were nestled at home enjoying their families. Anyway, while I digressed, I just want Brian to know I wish him well and that he gets better. He will have his case resolved shortly and hopefully he will be afforded the same rights due anybody, not based on his occupation. Our society is one of second chances, and word is out that Brian is taking full advantage of his. I got your back brother! Tom Davis...former President...AFSCME 2549.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tom, He is entitled to a second chance. but i think he needs to look for another profession. He can do plenty of other things.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough...What I heard was he got help and has found employment outside of corrections. When I spoke to him shortly after his arrest (which was off county property, not that it makes it any better) he felt a sense of relief and remorse, and looked forward to a fresh start in life. Believe me Bernie, when he started he was a very good officer and had the respect of his peers and inmates alike. It was sad to watch his demise and I for one wish him well. I can only laugh (beats crying) when your gutless anonymous bloggers claim we wouldn't make it in the "Real World". Our world is unlike any other and I defy anyone to spend ONE day in our world and they would soon realize they got it all wrong. I have been CO for 22 years and I care enough about my colleagues that I wonder if they can hack it as long as I have. Despite all the adversity we held down the fort over the holidays, even though things got quite tense on numerous fronts. You see, inmates go through bouts of depression when the holiday season arrives, and we are trained to recognize and deal with it. Mission accomplished and I could not be prouder of my brothers and sisters at NCP. Especially the night shift, who routinely get crushed with mandatory OT. They represent the younger officers, with young children, yet they got to spend Christmas at the jail. We know this is part of the deal but this year was off the charts unfair. Gee, I wonder what the reason was behind all this? I may be near the end of the road but I can assure you I will leave on MY terms, nobody is driving my old ass out. Because I have something in common with you Bernie. I am as stubborn as a mule with convictions to match. Happy New Year! Tom Davis.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tom, It is good he has a friend like you. I have grown to really respect you and your principles.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Did the CO Brian Peters get fired from Northampton Co Jail? If so was he ever sentenced in criminal court?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe he was placed on ARD and lost his job. Will check.