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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, May 02, 2016

Why Nazareth Needs a New Government

Nazareth Legion
On Thursday night, during a fractious meeting, I called for resignations from Nazareth Mayor Carl Strye and the entire Borough Council. Strye is an admitted thief facing third degree felony charges for skimming $8,000 from the Vigilance Hose, a social club routinely raided for illegal gambling. He has waved his preliminary hearing, something no innocent person would do. As Mayor, he remains in overall charge of the local police. Any rational person would be outraged. Not Borough Council. They have his back. And for good reason. They are part of a culture of corruption in this tiny borough, too.

That proverbial fox is in the henhouse. Yet people at Thursday night's meeting complained, not about Styre, but bad press. Council and its pom-pom waving downtown business manager complained, not about Strye, but me.

I would recommend  the accounts appearing in The Morning Call (clean version) and Express Times.(down-and-dirty) over my own story because it is very difficult for me to provide a factually accurate rendering of an event in which I am one of the players.  The Express Times version generated comments that were pretty much like the meeting itself, with numerous personal attacks aimed at yours truly. At one time, there were close to 300 online comments. At least 70 of the more vicious attacks have deleted, but enough remain to give you the flavor of what it was like at that meeting. .

I was speaking during courtesy of the floor, which is the one time that citizens are statutorily allowed to discuss matters. I was repeatedly interrupted by Lance Colondo and Larry Stoudt with personal insults. After I finished, both of them chose to personally attack me during courtesy of the floor, when it is the people who should have the floor. When I attempted to respond to their epithets, the gavel nearly broke as they attempted to shut me up.

Lance Colondo  and his tequila
Two years ago, I told Borough Council that they needed to take control or the borough would be hit with both civil rights litigation and a DA's investigation. They chose to ignore me, and the result has been several civil rights lawsuits as well as a Grand Jury investigation.

There's a culture of corruption. The kind in which Lance Colondo can brag at Christmas about getting a 1972 Tour Rolling Stones Edition Jose Cuervo Silver Tequila from the local Chamber of Commerce that can go for as much as $150 a bottle (it could also be as little as $30) after voting in October to double the payment to the downtown manager to $20,000.

The American Legion Grant

In the meantime, in October of last year, Borough Council unanimously applied for a $52,900 grant from Monroe County's Gaming Authority to benefit the Nazareth American Legion. They all thought it was a good idea to use the public purse to benefit a private entity whose membership is restricted.

Not only that, but a private social club where Council member Larry Stoudt works as a bartender. Now he claims h;'s received no salary there for the past three years, but I know for a fact he is tipped. He definitely has a financial interest in the success of that club. So much so that he was criminally charged and placed on ARD  after trying to force.local police to run a license plate of a suspected state police undercover agent.

And then re-elected.

That Borough Council allowed this to happen is a badge of corruption. Even if you remove Stoudt completely from the picture and forget the fact that public money is going to a private club with a restricted membership, the fact remains that Borough Council unanimously voted to seek $52,900 in public funds for a club that has fined seven times since 2000 for falsifying records, gambling and gambling machines, sales to nonmembers, and serving visibly intoxicated patrons. You can see the ugly truth for yourself, from the state liquor control board site, below.


Case: 2000-0836 - Penalty: FINE - ($250.00)

Case: 2000-1452 - Penalty: FINE - ($450.00)

Case: 2007-0535 - Penalty: FINE - ($600.00)

Case: 2010-2228 - Penalty: FINE - ($650.00)\

Case: 2013-0506 - Penalty: FINE - ($2600.00)

Case: 2013-2363 - Penalty: FINE - ($300.00)

Case: 2013-2642 - Penalty: FINE - ($400.00)
The public interest is very poorly served by a handout like this.

Due Process and Dark Clouds

Colondo and Carl Fischl both pointed out that Council has no power to force a sitting Mayor to resign. No argument there. But they can ask.

At their January 20 meeting, Allentown City Council unanimously called on Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski to resign, even though no criminal charges arepending against him. Most of those who backed this resolution were his political supporters. He is entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence.

But that's not the point. The point, as stated in the resolution itself, is that "a series of cumulative events have put the government of the City of Allentown in a critically unfavorable light in the community." The "allegations have brought the City into disrepute and created a negative work environment making it difficult to effectively conduct city business." Fed Ed has become "a detriment to the well-being of the City, its residents and city employees." He is " no longer an effective leader and can no longer carry out the duties of the Office of Mayor."

Allentown has been under the dark cloud of a federal investigation since July. There'a another dark cloud here is Nazareth, where the Mayor has been charged with felony theft and the relationship between Nazareth and its social clubs is under scrutiny.

The criminal charges against Strye renders him ineffective as a leader and certainly presents a problem for the police department, whose boss is an accused felon.

Stephanie Varone, the downtown manager, thinks this "toxic" blog is responsible for Nazareth's woes. Actually, it's a culture of corruption with no transparency and no accountability. The criminal charges against Strye have more to do with giving Nazareth a black eye than anything I could ever say.

Only the Landed Gentry Matter

The part of the meeting that astonished me most was when John Samus asked those who own property to
raise their hands, and then personally interrogated me about home ownership. The necessary implication was that only those who own homes should have a voice in government.

This patrician thinking is completely contrary to our form of government. My vote counts just as much as Ray Orwig's, who owns half the real estate in this borough. But that's another indication that local government hereis corrupt. Instead of representing everyone,the good ol' boys arepretty much intersted in themselves.


Anonymous said...

Tweedle-dee fire balls is badmouthing you on LVL, Bernie. How sad the her life is consumed by following you around with immature insults about weight, genitals, etc. Anything but the actual topic - Mayor Strye.

Bernie O'Hare said...

She is obsessed with me.

Anonymous said...

Larry Stoudt is President of the Harold V Knecht Post 415 Home Association which is the club side of the Legion organization. Then there is the Post side where he did hold a position as an officer. Either way, Larry is an officer and makes decisions at board meetings that are open to all active members. There is another meeting he attends each month for the elected officers that is private. Either way, there is a definite conflict of interest where he is concerned. This club lets in any one. It is a shame that the Veteran's do not have a place to call their own. This club is only allowed a certain number of social members allowed by the by laws and they have been breaking the by laws for such a long time. Larry looks the other way on a lot of things and I guess it is no surprise that he would support a corrupt mayor instead of doing the right thing. There must be some sort of benefit for both parties to behave in such a way that makes you wonder if there is more that we don't know.

Monkey Momma said...

What I find strange about the media's account of last week's meeting was that the headlines focused on you, O'Hare, instead of the alleged crime and obvious corruption at hand. I mean, you're pretty great, but your "outburst" and "shouting" shouldn't be the main story here. Out of all the stuff you detailed here in this blog post, it's pretty unbelievable that traditional media considers a blogger's complaints to be the top take-away.

John Samus ought to be ashamed of his question regarding property ownership. There are quite a few renters in Nazareth, if I'm not mistaken. Are all of their opinions irrelevant? What a ridiculous thing to say, especially at an official meeting where he is on record. I can't understand why Samus would ever "go there" in terms of a rebuke.

All I need to know about Strye is that he thinks the firehouse should have resolved this theft in-house, instead of calling the police. Really?? A guy rips off an organization for years, and then has the balls to act as if this shouldn't be handled like the crime it is? What a total and complete scum bucket. He's a thief. A common criminal. And the apathy of his borough's residents doesn't mean he didn't commit a crime.

Although I don't live in Nazareth, this story very much interests me, in that it's another example of corruption and apathy here in the Valley, and perhaps it's indicative of the entire country. Power obviously corrupts, and no one really cares. It makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with people, and it certainly adds to my disdain for politicians. They're in it for themselves, and Nazareth is a prime example of that. Thanks, Nazareth, for adding to my cynicism.

Anonymous said...

Strye is being charged with only those crimes that the DA can prove. Tens of thousands of dollars are missing from poker machines all over the valley because someone trusts a fellow officer of a club to turn in all the money from an illegal poker machines. Misplaced trust is what buried the FLEAS CLUB in Easton when baskets of money were found on the premises and I believe in an officers home. Strye is being charged with only those crimes that the DA can prove. How much money is really missing?

Anonymous said...

The council's insinuation that if you do not own land, you should have no voice is unprofessional at best but downright chilling at worst.

You have a thicker skin Bernie and can take that and i am sure it will not stop you from commenting, but for other residents, who may have a legitimate concern, but are renters, they may not bring these issues up because Council has indirectly said your voice does not mean anything unless you own land.

Council owes you and the Citizen's of Nazareth an apology for their conduct.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, what about the new ordinance Nazareth council is considering banning first floor apartments in the downtown? More meddling with private owners. Won't this discriminate against the elderly and disabled? First floor apartments are their only option to climbing stairs. But council in their great wisdom want to reserve this space for commercial tenants, even if the space remains vacant. This is government interference in private enterprise as well as a potentially discriminating practice.

Anonymous said...

I have been watching stories and comments in the express. It appears that they are deleting not only offensive comments against this blogger but many comments that addressed the subject directly with no mention of any individual with the exception of the mayor and stoudt. Guess the truth doesn't fit the lvl agenda as well. Must be taking lessons from Nazareth council.
Although I find some of your blogs way out of line in the way you express yourself in this particular case I think you may have hit the nail on the head. Now you need to either drive it home or back off.

Anonymous said...

Bernie - 8:02 beat me to it. Hope you comment.
If Varrone thinks you are the cause of Nazareth's problems, she also believes a You Tube video caused the Bengazi attacks.

Anonymous said...


Have you had an opportunity to speak with Keenhold or Lahovski? Would love to hear their side of the story. I am from Nazareth and have tried to speak with people connected to Strye Jr, but immediately they shut down or get defensive. Now it makes sense to me why Strye Jr was always collecting ticket money at the carnival.......

What a shame!!!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:02, To give you some idea how brilliant i am, i had no idea that such an ordinance was being proposed until I read your comment. I have long known that here is a bit of classism in Nazareth. People like Fischl have complained before about "renters" as though we are the source of the borough's woes. But I was still somewhat shocked to hear Samus state what he said.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Have you had an opportunity to speak with Keenhold or Lahovski? "

I have spoken to Officer Lahovski, but stayed away from the Keenholds once I learned this was in front of the Grand Jury.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How much money is really missing?"

I believe it is likely substantial, in the hundreds of thousands.

Anonymous said...

First floor apartments can yield higher rents. And, they are the only apartments that can be made accessible to wheelchair-users and renters with other disabilities. The borough should have no right requiring that a building in the so-called "business district" that is otherwise zoned commercial/residential preserve the first floor for a business rather than convert it to an apartment. Especially one that could help a landlord meet ADA requirements.

Pippysqueek said...

Most of the comments on LVL are pretty much from the same person-whom we all know- but is using about 3-4 different identities to make it look like a lot of people have issues with Bernie. Really wished LVL would work on only allowing one ID to knock out all the fakes.

JoAnn Kennedy said...

we hit 300 briefly at noon and then the deleting comments started

Anonymous said...

11:59, just ask the "person-whom we all know" about his expunged DUI conviction and what his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was when processed after his arrest. With all the DUI-related nonsense he's been bleating about for years, he really hates when that part of his past gets talked about.

Anonymous said...

Colonblo's hair looks like something from a 70s porn video involving glory holes at a gay brothel. Is that his real name? The whole "Colon" thing and silly hairdo are suspicious... not that there's anything wrong with that. I fully expect to see him take advantage of the new pervy bathroom laws.

Anonymous said...

But... But... But Bernie.... you don't understand your not "from" here. Its like in Nazareth they look for a date at a family reunion. Your Borough Council is like Ancestry.com.

As for the self admitted thief- THE MAYOR.... and the mindless, no morals nor integrity Borough Council... your the laughing stock of the Lehigh Valley! Resign!

Its good Bernie went and demanded that they resign. They can hurl al the mud they want on you Bernie it wont stick because you have been straight up.

Anonymous said...

Looks like he just came from his electroshock therapy.

Anonymous said...

"we hit 300 briefly at noon and then the deleting comments started"

That is the way on LVR.

Anonymous said...

Your last name has always been more important in Nazareth than anything else. Good 'ol boys club has been around for decades, imo.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Most of the comments on LVL are pretty much from the same person-whom we all know- but is using about 3-4 different identities to make it look like a lot of people have issues with Bernie. Really wished LVL would work on only allowing one ID to knock out all the fakes."

After ten years of blogging about local government, I have numerous enemies. One is him. Another is Mezzacappa. Although I'm sure some Strye defenders chimed in, most of those comments are from her.

Anonymous said...

I can't recall the last time I read a comments section that was such a cesspool. There were several accounts that were actively trying to subvert the conversation, away from the council and Mayor. Paid shills or people with a vested interest in the outcome?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's a pretty blatant attempt to ruin my credibility, often with outright lies. I will say that the ET has been pretty good about deleting the hate. It is going away even when I don't flag it. But I have told them many times they need to disable certain accounts responsible for this hate.

Anonymous said...

They would just have a new account up 5 minutes later. =/

Anonymous said...

See you tonight at the meeting? Your comments were appreciated.

JoAnn Kennedy said...

you be careful tonight

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, JoAnn. I don't think I could add to what i said Thursday, other than explaining away a few red herrings. So I will be there, but intend to let others speak unless provoked. There will be no evidence of "Fireball" or "yforever" or any of the other numerous false names Mezzacappa uses to post her hate at this meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That is not what I said.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,Do you know how long taxpapers are on the hook for paying boro employees family health care when they are divorcing? Going on 3 years.Money could go for another officer.Another under the table deal perhaps?