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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, March 16, 2015

Panto's Attempt to Muzzle LVR Backfires

As my teachers used to tell me, I'm special. Some people can fly. Others can climb walls, Me, I have an uncanny ability to really piss people off. It's my superpower. Most recently, I got to Easton Mayor Sal Panto. He's running unopposed, but is blowin' oil so badly that someone should throw him up on a lift and fix the leaks. He spent his Friday night penning a ten-paragraph screed excoriating me on Facebook.  Accusing me of "vicious lies and half-truths, he claims no one should really pay much attention to me because I'm disbarred. He forgot to mention that I'm an alkie, too. His post generated 447 likes at last count, along with 191 comments. Part of the reason for that is because he's the Mayor and has a lot of cronies and sycophants. Of course, another part of the reason is that I really am an asshole. Not only do my Super Powers give me an ungodly ability to piss people off, but I'm completely unfazed by what others think about me. I'm not running for anything. My role as a bottom-feeding blogger is to tell the truth as I see it. And the truth, as I see it, is that Easton is infested by favoritism and cronyism.

The Nowroski hire

What really rankled Panto was my Friday post about incoming Codes Director Stephen Nowroski. The City refused to identify him, but had Council rubber-stamp a significant pay hike for the position to a starting salary of $87,000, with absolutely no disclosure of who was getting the job. When I blew the whistle and identified Nowroski as someone who had been investigated twice -  once for using code as a retaliatory measure and once for issuing permits without inspections -  Panto went beserk.

These are the unvarnished facts. They are not pretty, and the City should have been up front and transparent about what it wanted to do. Panto attempted to muzzle me, but now The Express Times has published the story as well, and in a way that reflects poorly on the new hire that Panto wanted so badly to keep under wraps. Now he can explain what he's doing to people who are outside his circle of cronies and sycophants. This pretty much blew up in his face.

It could very well be that Nowroski will prove to be a great addition to Easton. But he starts with a strike against him, not because of me, but because Panto refused to be transparent.

Easton has always played favorites. 

To some extent, there's cronyism and favoritism everywhere. But it's embedded in Easton. You need look no further than people like the Vulcanos. On the school board and city council, they both have abused their positions  One even used his influence to get his daughter a teaching job for which she was unqualified.

City Council members are paid an ungodly $9,371 salary, plus health benefits. That's about 50% more than in Allentown.

Don't forget, this is a City where the The Holy Cross Society deposed some poor high school junior as the Queen of some goofy Summer festival and gave her crown to a Panto niece.

Favoritism in business

The favoritism extends into businesses, too.  In 2013, Easton rushed an assessment reduction for developer Mark Mulligan at the Wolf Building, even though the building was subsequently granted KOZ status and is essentially exempt from all but federal income taxes. Permit fees for a trendy Cheeburger Cheeburger restaurant at one of Mulligan's properties were reduced. This developer and an Easton Redevelopment employee who also acts as a realtor for Mulligan nearly got away with the escrow money for two burned properties. They were stopped only because I blew the whistle.

While playing favorites for some, others are treated like second class citizens. Developer Abe Atiyeh, for example, was denied an assessment appeal on the same day that Easton pitched one for Mulligan. He also has claimed, and in a federal lawsuit, that he was targeted by Easton code enforcement officials.

So what does Panto do? Hire someone who was investigated for using code enforcement to retaliate against people outside his inner circle. Brilliant.

Favoritism in Parking Tickets

This favoritism even extends into Panto's extrajudicial parking enforcement. People outside his inner circle are being denied due process by a greedy Mayor who counts on those tickets as an extra source of revenue. Even on Sundays. He might as well send one of his goons around with the collection basket. I know people who won't go downtown at night any more, not for fear of the criminals, but the Panto Parking Police. This situation is made worse by the "who you know" culture of favoritism that exists. As a result of several Right-to-Know requests, I was able to establish, pretty conclusively, that many had large numbers of tickets avoided.

Despite the plain evidence of Easton's own data, which show that a privileged few are getting parking ticket breaks, he attacks me because I have failed to provide "one example of a ticket that I fixed or voided."

That's pretty hard to do when Easton has destroyed all records of the names of the those whose tickets were expunged..

He then goes on to say that criticisms of  "city employees are off limits." He adds that his new codes director underwent an intensive background check in which it was discovered that another employee was the culprit playing favorites.

Of course, that's bullshit. Sal is just repeating what this guy said in his interview, No municipality, with the possible exception of Easton, would be so stupid as to release an intenal investigation.

Who are Sal's Sycophants? 

Many rallied to Sal's war cry on Friday night. Without question, some are true believers who believe Easton is a better place now than it was when Panto took office. And it is. But there are just as many who want me silenced because my Super Powers piss them off.

Here's a few.

Melissa Miller, who writes, "He is a bully and everyone knows it," is one of the most extreme members of the Republican Action Team, aka Tea Party, and is NorCo Council member Seth Vaughn's significant other. I have been critical of her vulgarities and her husband on Council.

Lisa Pawlowski, Allentown's very own Lady MacBeth, tells Facebook readers I get "paid every time someone opens his blog. So every click is a win for him. Controversy means more money for him. So folks, if you support your mayor, don't ever read Bernie's blog. Make a statement by cutting into his income." Lisa must think I'm as money hungry as she and her husband. I don't make a dime blogging.

Jon Geeting is a failed Lehigh Valley blogger who claims that reading my blog "always makes me feel like being in a dirty gas station bathroom" He is jealous, and needs to grow up.

Billy Kounoupis of Billy's Downtown Diner fame calls me an ass, which is a step up from what I'm usually called. He waves the pom poms, but doesn't bother telling anyone that he's working on a deal right now for a third Billy's Downtown Diner in Easton, at the new LANTA terminal. When this guy was appointed to the Bethlehem Parking Authority, the first thing he did was attempt to have a ticket fixed. He'll be right at home in Panto Paradise.

Joseph H Capozzolo, Bangor's Mayor after winning by one vote, writes, "Consider the source." That source exposed him as an opportunist when he ran for the state senate seat, taking just enough votes away from Scott Parsons to guarantee a Scavello victory. I also criticized Joe for defacing someone's campaign signs, which is a pretty low thing to do.

Thomas Lutes came out in support of Hizzoner. He should because he had five parking tickets voided in 2014.

Heidi Stecker Markow  refers to me as an "evil blogger" and chastised me for using a sentence containing the word Jesus. As a victim rights advocate, she went overboard and was calling news conferences to complain about the DA and judges, and I took her to task as a nut job.

I stand by every word I've written about Panto and his Posse. They better head over to The Express Times comment board because the people commenting there are less understanding.

My Concern

Panto was unsuccessful in muzzling me because The Express Times covered my story. But what happens in a few years when there are no dailies. I criticize them incessantly, but without them, our democracy dies. It will be too easy for someone in power to marginalize and muzzle contrary voices.


Anonymous said...

"Not only do my Super Powers give me an ungodly ability to piss people off, but I'm completely unfazed by what others think about me. "

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a Cluster B personality disorder[1] in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and to others in the process. Symptoms of this disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR, include:[1]

Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments

Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others

Envies others and believes others envy him/her
Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence

Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others

Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior

Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure the main reason Billy Kounoupis chimed in was he is resentful of the roll you played in getting Jim Gregory locked up, Jim was more than just a great customer and tipper he lit that place up with smiles and revelry his return will be glorious.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Explain that to the judge at 1 pm, MezzacRaZY. I'm sure that will solve everything.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever watch that show the "Big Bang Theory"? You would fit right in there Bernie. They are very entertaining "Nerds" whose thought process is way above ours, and they do crazy things and get in trouble because they are misunderstood and lack common sense in most issues. You would fit right in with Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and the others. They too don't care what people think about them, but they too want to be loved. Kind of sad in a way. Panto liked you at one time. He used to read your Blog and even commented on your Blog at times.

Anonymous said...

the truth hurts...you tell it like it is!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about everything thats going on in Easton but one thing i'm sure about is the favortism in EASTON no one can tell me otherwise because i see it first hand especially in the mulligan situation

Anonymous said...

I love your description of an $87K salary "obscene". I guess you've been down and out so long, you've lost perspective of what professional people make for a living. Meanwhile, you criticize Norco for giving employees a raw deal.

Other than that criticism, thanks for the story.

Anonymous said...

Sort of like O'Hare's attempt to muzzle Panto supporters fails.

Anonymous said...

I get a real crack out of the folks who called you venomous and low life etc...then FREAK OUT when you name them here, and cry to the high heavens that you are repressing their freedom of facebook expression.


Please crawl back in your holes now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I love your description of an $87K salary "obscene""

Given the guy's age, murky background, lack of supervisory experience, and the salary paid to the last director, it is obscene. But she was a woman, so I guess it was ok.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Easton, they are not the only ones that will take care of tickets for their friends. There was a time I never paid a single ticket in Bethlehem. It happens anywhere where you know someone

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Did you ever watch that show the "Big Bang Theory"? You would fit right in there Bernie."

I don't watch nor do I have time for TV. As for Panto, he is a politician and does not like people so much as count votes. He was worried that this blog might begin costing him some support, and I hope it does. I hate it when government refuses to be transparent and when it engages in the cronyism that is standard fare there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"To be fair to Easton, they are not the only ones that will take care of tickets for their friends. There was a time I never paid a single ticket in Bethlehem. It happens anywhere where you know someone"

You are correct. To some extent, this goes on everywhere. Easton as come up with a system so that favorites can be recognized.

Anonymous said...

To all you evil blogers out there.I saw one Lisa Pawlowki chaired a committee to eliminate homelessness.I see after the tragedy that occurred last week outside the Arena homelessness still occurs

Bernie O'Hare said...

I must have used the money i get from people clicking on this blog to hire people to pretend they are homeless.

Anonymous said...

'Hail' Lisa Pawloski advocate for the Homeless

Anonymous said...

You and Sal ate like two bag ladies fighting over a day old donut in a dumpster. Now kiss and make up!

Anonymous said...

The mulligan silk project is going nowhere. They have been putting in a taxpayer funded parking lot, street and exterior building restoration for 2 years now. Heard its out of money and the big mulligan is looking for more tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the city announced a developer for this project back in 2009 and yet there still isn't private money being spent on the site. Am I wrong? Ease correct me. The last I heard was that 1.5 million federal grant was issued for the work that was completed. What am I missing here ?

Anonymous said...

You being a alkamist like OZ behind the curtain at the bigtop of the Brown Hole circus that the lehighvally has become at the hands of these political parasites feeding off this poverty magnet created by those reaping from this superfund sight¿

patent pending

Anonymous said...


Stop trash talking Obama.

Anonymous said...

Bernie you are a real Jackass! Since you love being on Sal Panto's jock that's fine. Keep digging until your tired of talking about the same people same stories now balled into this article. And now you bring up the Queen? Calling it a "goofy summer festival"? I would speak for all my Italian American friends who put a lot of time, effort and hard work into running that festival which has been running over 100 years. Goofy summer festival is over the line. You should come this year and yes they have ALCOHOL

Bernie O'Hare said...

The good and decent Italian Americans who put so much time into this can't be happy to see the crown taken from someone who deserved it.

Anonymous said...

The mouth that roared.

Word on the street is a young woman from West Easton is still at home.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Mayor Pantos father is living in one of the new homes in Neston heights, the housing development on the site of the former Delaware terrace. if ths is true then how did he afford this after his store failed and went into bankruptcy. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I for one am glad you speak up about these things. Someone needs to bring the garbage to the light of day. Government need to be transparent with OUR money. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 7:46, AKA, Kizzazz, apparently Mr. O'Hare's war on a woman didn't go so well today.

What are your critical thoughts?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't know what you're talking about. The charges were held for court.

PhD PoPo said...

DOCTOR Cerullo

DohBiden said...

My comment on today's E-T editorial re: Panto's poor hiring practices. I expect it'll be removed quickly.

"You failed to mention your initial source for this story, who, in retaliation for informing you and rest of us, was subjected to a vicious, personal attack by Panto on his Facebook page. It's the kind of Facebook tirade usually reserved for conflicts among upset 5th grade girls. Coming from a sitting mayor, however, it's news. Your piece is not complete without these details."

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's funny. I notice that another comment that did nothing more than defend me was quickly deleted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me add that I don't mind when newspapers declined to credit me for a story. Numerous ways that a newspaper can independently arrive at the same thing that I have reported even if I have reported it before they did. It is also more important to me to see that the story gets out there to see that anyone has given any credit for it. In this case the express times actually did mention my criticisms and its Sunday story.