Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Giordano: The Lehigh Valley Comes Out For "Our Favorite Son"
Just last month, when Sam Murray announced his intentions to run for Northampton County Judge, the 170 people who crowded into Riverview Country Club created a bipartisan aura of inevitability. But I have never seen a larger crowd for a campaign kickoff than last night, when Judge Emil Giordano kicked off his campaign for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. He made his announcement at the cavernous Northampton Memorial Community Center amid dozens of empty pizza boxes. Those boxes were empty because it seemed as though the entire Lehigh Valley had cascaded into Northampton, despite the single digit temperatures and mounds of snow everywhere. The Express Times' Tom Shortell placed the number at about 600, although it could easily have been 700, It was a bipartisan crowd, too. Democrats and Republicans. Lawyers and friends. Urbanistas and country folk. It was the Lehigh Valley. Northampton Mayor Thomas Reenock put it best when he called the gathering "our favorite son's debut."
That favorite son also happens to be the sons of two Italian immigrants who met while learning how to speak English in night school. They came here to raise a family and made pizzas. Lots of them. When Emil was old enough, he made pizzas, too. Lots of them. They got him through Bethlehem Catholic High School, Moravian College and Villanova Law School. Giordano learned about hard work. He learned to respect and admire his parents and grandparents, and to admire the many people wo appear before him to become naturalized citizens. Most importantly, he learned how to listen.
"The time spent behind counters, waiting on people, served me very well," remarked Giordano last night. In time, there was a law office adjacent to Pizza Village. And after 18 years of practicing law, he became a judge. And for the past 12 years, he has handled that role with humility and a genuine concern for everyone who comes before him,lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
At the same time, he has taught at Becahi and Moravian College. But where he has excelled is as a coach to young athletes, bringing out the best in them. I've seen him take groups of kids and win basketball championships despite claiming to know nothing about the sport. He knows how to motivate.
After 12 years as a judge, Emil Giordano is the same person he was before he put on a robe. Few other judges can make that claim.
Why is he running for the Pennsylvania Superior Court? That;s the state's busiest court. It's an appellate court that reviews the decisions of common pleas judges in all 67 counties. Just to keep up, the 15 judges on that bench must each hand down one or two opinions daily.
Giordano already knows about hard work, He added that he would be a "common sense judge who follows the law." He also believes that the best person to evaluate the work of other judges is a person who once sat where they are sitting.
Business Matters' Tony Iannelli served as Master of Ceremonies and shared a story he had heard that very day from DA John Morganelli. Giordano, when he was still practicing law, once challenged Morganelli in a DA's race. That night, as the numbers came in, it was clear that Morganelli would be the victor. Instead of calling Morganelli to concede, Giordano actually walked into the Democratic stronghold and congratulated him in person.
Aside from Iannelli, Giordano invited Judges Anthony Beltrami and Paula Roscioli to his reception. Because they are seeking well-deserved retentions this year, they are permitted to attend political gatherings. But Giordano and Iannelli decided against calling them up onto the stage. "Four Italians on the stage at one time might be a RICO violation," explained Judge Giordano.
Giordano also introduced Michael George, the President Judge of Adams County, who is also seeking a seat on the Superior Court.
(This is just part of huge crowd of at least 600 people at Judge Emil Giordano's campaign kickoff for the Superior Court. Judge Giordano asked each of them to give him ten. Not $10,000, but ten votes.)
(Attorney Vivian Zumas shares a few words with Judge Giodano after his speech. At the far right, you can see Al Recker, the great Bethlehem Globe Times reporter who used to cover the courthouse).
(Judge Beltrami with his lovely wife, Gina. Judge Beltrami and Judge Paula Roscioli are seeking retention this year. I trapped Judge Beltrami for a picture, but Judge Roscioli was too fast for me.)
(Abe Kassis, who is running for Judge, offers his best wishes to Judge Giordano. Kassis' opponents, Sam Murray and Vic Scomilio, were there, too, but they slipped out with Judge Roscioli. Abe is Lebanese, Sam is half Lebanese and Vic's wife is half Lebanese.So that's two Lebanese running for judge, right?)
(Though he's only in the 8th Grade, Caden Giordano is already 23' tall, and is just what Becahi's basketball program needs. He's a great athlete, but more importantly, is a great young man. He must be smarter than his father because he tells me he's staying away from the law.)
(Bethlehem City Council Member Eric Evans and his gorgeous wife Jodi, with Judge Giordano. It was amazing to see so many Democrats flock to Giordano's banner.)
(South Whitehall Township Manager Howard Kutzler told me tonight that he is not running for Township Comm'r in Bethlehem Tp because of the time it would take away from his day job. He's also the Treasurer of the Northampton County GOP, and kept charging me admission.)
(My favorite tea party person, Arlene Klocek, and I exchange our usual pleasantries. Not only do we disagree about everything, but she is part of the Ronnie del Wacko wing of the NorCo GOP. But for some reason, I really like her. "I pray for you, Bernie," she always tells me. So I got that going for me.)
(Well-spoken and cerebral, Joan Rosenthal is a member of the NorCo Elections Commission and is on Hanover Township's ZHB. I think she prays for me, too.)
(Bethlehem City Council member Mike Recchiuti, along with a gentleman I'll call Mr. Donchez. The rise between these two thorns is Gross McGinley lawyer Loren Speziale, who no doubt will be suing me one day.)
(Bethlehem City worker Mike McGraw, with Judge Giordano. Mike, a former baseball standout, is the man at Northwest Little League. As baseball season approaches, he is required by baseball law to insert a little chew in his mouth from time to time. It's a rule. But he's quit smoking. Incidentally, he knows EVERYTHING about Bethlehem). .