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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bethlehem Press on Pay-to-Play in Lower Saucon, Bethlehem

I freelance at The Bethlehem Press, a small weekly publication that circulates in the Bethlehem Area School District. I am proud of this week's edition, which I am calling the Pay-to-Play edition.

Its weekly People Say feature, put together by photojournalist Dana Grubb, reveals that a lot of people think there's too much money in politics.

In an analysis of the Bethlehem City Council, I conclude there are two factions. These are not Democrats and Republican. They are crony capitalists and small "d" Democrats. The crony capitalist faction consists of Bob Donchez, Willie Reynolds, Bryan Callahan, Mike Recchiuti and Shawn Martell. Their hearts are almost certainly in the right place, but they all accept too much money from entities who want something. The small "d" Democrats consist of Eric Evans, Olga Negron and Michael Colon.

Finally, my story about the Lower Saucon landfill, which has dumped $96,500 into the Township race, raises the worrisome concern that corporations are trying to take control of our democracy.

I hope you can check it out online or better yet, but a print copy before the landfill buys them all and dumps them. It should become a collector's item.


Anonymous said...

grubb and O'Hare are 2 bitter people. Lost everything by their own hands and now blame their betters. laughable

Anonymous said...

8:25 am - I have followed Bernie's reporting on the IESI Bethlehem Landfill pay for play and he has done a very fair and balance report; plus he fact checked everything he wrote. I don't always agree with everything he writes, but on this issues he is dead on. He also told you when he was inserting his opinion. Furthermore, where I don't agree with everything Gary Gorman says, at least Gary publicly responded to Bernie's blog. Where is Maxfield and Yerger. Maxfield's line in the Morning Call with typical politician. Maxfield needs to explain his constant flip-flop on the issue. Maxfield seems to forget that the residents are not his high school students and do not like being bullied, intimidated, or insulted in public.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Obviously, the landfill is not sending that kind of money to advance Maxfield and Yerger with no expectations. hey are clearly bying the election, but are doing it quite legally.

Anonymous said...

Keep turning over the stones. Every single town operates like this and unfortunately , the people accept this garbage.

Nail these criminals to the wall , when need be. Hold their feet to the fire and "make " them defend their cash flow from developers or any one else, ever chance you can get, especially in council meetings.

People need to get involved and show up to school board meetings, council meetings and so on. If your council does not have live streamed versions of their meetings on the net or their web site , demand they figure it out.

The last thing these hacks want is more people actually knowing what these politicians and their donors are up to. Expose all parties, all politicians and the businesses who participate in corp cronyism/pay to play.

Thank you guys. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Part I

At last night's budget meeting, the Lower Saucon Township residents learned that the IESI PA Bethlehem Landfill Corporation's contribution to the the 2016 township budget is only 16% of total revenue and there will be NO TAX INCREASE! However, that has not stopped IESI PA Bethlehem Landfill Corporation from filling the residents' mailboxes with false and misleading information about Priscilla deLeon, David Willard, and Donna Louder.

Residents who support Tom Maxfield on Election Day should have been at the Budget Meeting to observe his latest performance before the residents. For the first time in years, Maxfield recommend take a look at the Consulting Fees in the budget and see where they could be tightened up. He was particularly interested in cutting the landfill engineer from the budget! If he is successful, that would eliminated the township's watchdog at the landfill. However, his final performance was the best! When resident Gene Boyer questioned him about why he suddenly changed his position on making budget cuts, he got up and left the room (check the audio of the meeting - Maxfield's performance begins at 158:00)

Anonymous said...

Part II

Check out this letter to the editor of the Morning Call for Karen Samuels:

Vote Maxfield, Yerger in L. Saucon

Through the leadership of Tom Maxfield and Sandra Yerger, Lower Saucon Township residents have enjoyed low property taxes, smart responsible growth of development and the preservation of open space. We need these good, proven managers to be re-elected as they have the best interests in mind for all the residents of the township.

Be aware that there is a team of three candidates, running for election to council, who represent a small reactionary group of residents. We don't need the headaches (higher taxes, angry outbursts and mud slinging) that these three will surely bring if elected. By voting for Maxfield and Yerger, we can continue to afford and enjoy living in our beautiful rural township.

Karen Samuels
Lower Saucon Township

Hmmmm. Looks like the "BLUEBLOODS" of Saucon Valley Road don't care about their fellow residents on the other side of the township. They don't see it or smell it, so they do care. Kind of let them "eat cake" attitude. Don't take any money out of my pockets, but they don't care that the pay an Open Space Fund tax that preserve over 200 acres of land surrounding Maxfield's home at a cost of over $2,000,000 to the taxpayer. Has Karen Samuels ever attended a Lower Saucon Township Council Meeting.

Anonymous said...

Part III

As for Maxfield's behavior, here is what was in an article in the Valley Voice about how Tom Maxfield treats residents.

By Paul Bealer
Editor, The Valley Voice
August 2, 2013

Township Council meeting, when the group met July 24.
Steel City resident Gene Boyer had the floor during public
comment. He decided to update council on his recent visit to Town
Hall, where Boyer said he studied township budgets dating back to
1998, and township audit reports.

He seemed focused on the bottom line and income from the
township’s host tipping fee agreement with IESI Landfill.
After about five minutes, Council Vice President Tom Maxfield
cut Boyer off with a comment he, council President Glenn Kern and
Township Manager Jack Cahalan often ask Boyer at public meetings:
“What’s your point?” Boyer asked Maxfield to bare with him
a bit longer.

Handling the president’s gavel in Kern’s absence, Maxfield
obliged to hear a bit more history, his bearded face getting a bit red
in frustration as the history lesson continued. Maxfield cut Boyer
off again and told him to “come in and talk to the people who work
on the budget every day.”

Boyer tried to continue getting to his point and he was cut off

Anonymous said...

Part IV

several more times by the frustrated man behind the gavel. Apparently
Boyer wanted to discuss financial impacts of landfill revenue.
Maxfield said several times he did not want to have a discussion on
the matter without the township finance director’s figures and facts
before him. “We’re here to conduct business. We’re not here to
answer a million questions. We’re not here to teach school,” Catholic
school teacher Maxfield chirped.

Fair enough, but his backlash did not end there.
pulpit, tossing insults Boyer’s way. “I get the feeling
from you that you’re digging for some kind of dirt,”
Maxfield snorted at Boyer. Some audience members sat stunned
that the township taxpayer was verbally assailed by the council vice

Maxfield has done this occasionally toward residents during hot
discussions on landfill issues. But this night he went over the line
in public meeting decorum.

After a little back and forth banter between Boyer and Maxfield,
Boyer yielded his seat at the public microphone and was headed
back to his seat. “I feel like that teacher that gets that one student
who asks that same damn question day after day,” flustered
Maxfield said to the crowd of township taxpayers.

Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon twice told Maxfield she wanted
to hear Boyer out. “You shouldn’t feel intimidated to speak to
council,” she told audience members.

Anonymous said...

Part V

“I don’t want to sit here and listen to this,” Maxfield retorted.
Councilman Dave Willard chimed in, “We need to create an
atmosphere where you can come here and say what you feel.”
Maxfield sniped, “It goes both ways.”

Maxfield also ranted at two more taxpayers that stood up to
defend Boyer’s right to speak. “I’m just tired,” he said before resting
his head in his hand and quieting down.

There were no apologies from flustered Maxfield at the rest of the
public portion of the meeting.

remembered that he was once in Boyer’s seat: a taxpaying
resident concerned about the township’s future. Once
a township resident goes to the other side of the council dais, they
must answer to more than 10,000 other residents and set aside their
own agendas. They should respect concerns and opinions, and not
try to squash public input— whether they want to hear it or not.
Section 710.1 of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act requires local
agencies to provide an opportunity for public comment at all public
meetings. Lower Saucon Township Council has always been good
about yielding the floor to residents and hearing them out.
In covering Lower Saucon Council meetings for nearly 15 years,
I can’t count all the times council allowed the public to have the
floor, unimpeded, to share their concerns about happenings in the
township. There were many and most of that time council members,
including Maxfield, have been cordial in allowing two or three or
four hours of public comments.

That is rare among municipal boards, and many have passed
rules limiting public comment. But Lower Saucon has not, so Boyer
and others have the right to speak to their council representatives.
should not be heightened by a township representative
exhibiting poor attitude and intimidation toward residents.
At a time when more Lower Saucon residents are attending
meetings regularly, and getting involved in local government,
snippy attitude by a council member creates a chilling effect on
public discourse.

Maxfield needs to remember where he sat before he was elected
and appointed to his council, planning commission and environmental
advisory council seats. If remembering that does not act as
a lesson in public meeting decorum, at re-election time voters with
a long memory may just give him a hard lesson.

Then he may have his Wednesday nights free to get some rest.

And by the way, YERGER AND GORMAN (the candidate) didn't have time to attend last night's budget meeting!