Monday, November 09, 2015
"Martin Tower" Makes Political Debut in Bethlehem
Thanks to changes in procedure that were recommended by Karen Dolan before she resigned in disgrace, City Council never responds to the public during courtesy of the floor. The ostensible reason for this is a desire to make sure everyone is heard. But its practical effect is to create a stone wall between the public and elected officials. That was very apparent on Wednesday, when 26 public speakers at City Council were answered with silence. Even when a member of the public tried to crack a joke, Council would sit there and refuse to crack a smile or acknowledge the person in any way.
But when all members are done and no longer have an opportunity to speak, two individual Council members begin taking shots at them. When they cry out in protest, Reynolds gavels them down. The two biggest offenders have been Reynolds and Bryan Callahan.. This approach actually stifles public participation in government.
People don''t like what is going on, and that is evident in the election results on Tuesday. Even though none of the candidates had opposition in this one-party town, Reynolds has already lost his position at top vote getter.. Moreover, 122 write-in votes were cast in the Northampton County portion of Bethlehem (I am unable to check Lehigh, and about 100 of these went to Martin Tower
Willie has been replaced as top vote getter by Olga Negron (LC 1866, NC 3416 = 5,282), who has never held elected elected office. From what I've seen of her on the Planning Commission, she is naive. But she refused to take a dime from developers.
Reynolds (LC 1816, NC 3294 = 5110) came in second. Now he can argue that he is really still the top vote getter because he was running for a four-year seat while Negron was running for a two-year seat. But that's a delusion in an uncontested race that really is nothing more than a popularity contest. Voters were clearly sending Willie a message.
Newcomer Michael Colon (LC 1831, NC 3253 = 5,084) finished only 26 votes behind Reynolds, and beat him in West Bethlehem. Like Negron, he took no money from CRIZ developers.
Shawn Martell (LC 1823, NC 3216 = 5,069) finished at the bottom. He is bright and his family has done many good things in Bethlehem. But like Willie, he took a lot of money from CRIZ developers.
Colon, Negron and Martell were at a NAACP candidates' forum on pre-election Tuesday. Reynolds was absent. I missed that event because I was tied up at a similar forum for the Council candidates. But I have been told by people who were there that pay-to-play was a topic discussed.