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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ejectment: How Squatters Hurt Everyone Else

Most of us our well aware of the very real damage that predatory lenders can do to everyone. Or unlicensed mortgage brokers who conned banks into extending credit to home buyers, knowing that the loan will never be paid. All of this contributed to the collapse of the real estate bubble, which hurled us all into the Great Recession. But there are people who take advantage of the system, too. They use every trick in the book to get something for nothing.

I'm not referring to the mythical welfare queen made famous by Ronald Reagan, but real people who come in all shapes and colors.  They end up costing all of us money, and in some cases, they cost people their lives.

Consider this. A couple purchased a home in Upper Mount Bethel in 2005, which was secured by a mortgage. Everything was hunky dory. But about 2 1/2 years ago, they refinanced the property with a local credit union, paid off their original mortgage and decided to just ignore the new one.

The credit union was forced to file a mortgage foreclosure action, to which this couple responded with bullshit claims that it had paid, that their money had been stolen. After two years of refusing to pay their mortgage, the credit unionbought the property at Sheriff Sale.with the couple still living there.

Desiring to get out of this mess as quickly as possible the credit union sold it to my friend, Ron Angle  He approached these squatters, and they gave him song and dance every time he stopped by. The fellow was waiting for a big union pension that never seemed to come. In the meantime, the couple was unwilling to even pay rent on a decent and secluded home on 2.3 acres.

Angle brought an ejectment action, which is the kind of action filed to remove a squatter. At a non jury trial in June, the couple came. But before the trial could get under way, the husband pulled a Fred Sanford. He grabbed his chest and shouted, "I'm coming, Elizabeth!. It's the big one!" He then hurled himself on the floor

Deputy sheriffs and paramedics raced to this freeloader's assistance, and he was strapped in a gurney and rolled away to a waiting ambulance.

He was released from the hospital that very day, and was home in time for lunch.

Instead of continuing this case to September, President Judge Stephen Baratta listed it again just a few weeks later. This time the couple never bothered to show up, though they had spoken to Angle the day before.

Judge Baratta granted ejectment, but gave the couple ten days to find a new home. Angle visited them several times, and was always told that they'd be out the next day.

Yesterday, Angle came again. But this time, he was accompanied by a locksmith and five deputy sheriffs wearing body armor. They were there to remove this couple, and used me as a human shield.

Obviously, an ejectment can get ugly so you need several deputies who have to be trained and ready for anything, as is certainly the case in Northampton County.

Though the air conditioner was going full blast, no one was at home. When Angle got in, he was greeted by two dogs who the owners left behind along with tons of garbage.

All locks were changed but one, and the deadbeat came back a few hours later and went through that door. Then he called Angle and threatened to kill him.

That's nice. Angle made sure he took his dogs and now all doors are secured.

In the end, these deadbeats ended up staying in a home for 2 1/2 years without paying a dime.

These are the people who make it difficult for everyone to get loans. They drive up our real estate taxes, and the make deputy sheriffs very insecure.  

Grigg Grates on DA

Blogger's Note: This story was written on Monday night. I wondered why I got no comments at dinner with a friend last night, who told me he never saw it. I forgot to publish it. 

Sherwood Grigg and Donald Trump have at least one thing in common - scalps on which even the most brutal Comanche would take a raincheck. Their noggins look more like furry steamed lobsters than actual human heads. Trump has spent an entire Presidential race demonstrating there's little inside his. Over the years, Magisterial District Judge Sherwood Grigg has proven that he's a tad odd himself.

Forget those evil Islamic immigrants or dirty Mexicans. Our real menace? Old guys who insist on dying their hair a weird shade of orange.

They both apparently get it at Mark Thatcher's ColorRite plant in Upper Mount Bethel. Yamaha, Sukuki, Trump and Griigg.

Ask for Off-Road Orange.

I'll stop talking about Trump now because I'm hoping he appoints me his Press Secretary. This post is really about Grigg, known to people in the slate belt as Griggy. You might find him at the Mount Bethel Diner, where he speaks out of turn about the cases before him. You might find him at the Bangor Elks.You might even bump into him in Atlantic City.  But he tries to stay away from courtrooms. They make his orange head hurt.  

District Attorney John Morganelli blasted him on Monday over the way he handled, or more appropriately, failed to handle a sex crimes case brought against New Jersey teacher Joshua Mohlman. This teacher allegedly carried on seven-year long affair with a former student, starting when she was just 14. During the Preliminary Hearing before Grigg, Assistant DA Anthony Casola chose to use hearsay evidence of the victim's statements,just like in the Cosby case. But Grigg refused to listen, continued the matter and told Casola to produce a brief explaining why hearsay is admissible.

Hearsay evidence in preliminary hearings is admissible because the Supreme Court says it is, according to rules adopted in 2013 and a 2015 Superior Court decision. A senior Magisterial District Judge is bound by those courts, whether he likes it or not. Now that there's a new Supreme Court, that rule might very well change to give defense attorneys the right to confront accusers. In fact, let's hope it does. But there's no denying that the rule in place right now.says hearsay (out of court statements offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted) may be used to prove any element of an offense.

"Hearsay evidence is absolutely 100% admissible at preliminary hearings and there can be no dispute that is the law," said Morganelli, who is rightfully concerned about subjecting the victims of sexual offenses to even more humiliation.   .

Grigg seemed to have little regard for her. He was more worried about an accused child predator.

Morganelli was also miffed that some local news accounts suggested the matter was continued because his office was unprepared.
"Yesterday's delay ... was completely unnecessary and was the result, not of the Commonwealth not being prepared, but the result of a district judge not knowing the Rules of Procedure or the law.Unfortunately, I am advised there are other district jidges that also refuse to follow the Rules of Evidence and procedure and somehow [are] putting their own judgment in place of the judgment of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Superior Court .... ."
Instead of getting a brief from the DA, Grigg will be getting a memo from President Judge Stephen Baratta. According to Morganelli, he consulted with Judge Baratta, who agrees with the Commonwealth's position.
"It is very frustrating to pick up the newspaper and read a story that seems to suggest - no offense to the press - that somehow, the District Attorney's office was not prepared to move the case forward and the judge making statements in the newspaper stating such things as, 'In all my years as a judge, I've never done this.' Well, that may be,but things have changed since 20 or 30 years ago."  
Originally a Justice of the Peace, Grigg was first elected in 1969. Prior to that, he was a county assessor. Grigg is the mini-judge who administered a bizarre and rambling oath to Ron Angle when he was sworn in last year as an interim school director.

Before the school board meeting started, he explained to the person seated next to him that he had come to swear in the new appointment, but refused to bring his robe. Then he added, "If a certain person is nominated and elected, I'm out of here because I don't get paid to do this."

He was referring to Angle, and had spent the day lobbying agaonst him, which is completely improper for a member of the judiciary.

Why does Griggy have such a hot not for Angle? Maybe because he lost his home to Angle when the bank foreclosed on him. Instead of blaming Angle for his financial predicament,  he would do better to spend a little less time at the Bangor Elks.

People who do business in his slate belt courtroom report his rulings have grown more inexplicable in recent months Last year, he threatened harsh sanctions against Portland's Billie Golden for maintaining a junk yard. He made these threats ex parte from the Mount Bethel Diner, after finding Billie guilty and before imposing sentence.

Now he's instructing DAs to file briefs and is going against rules that have been in place for three years.

It's time for Griggy to step down.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dent Calls For Bilateral Trade Agreement With UK

In the wake of Brexit, LV Congressman Charlie Dent is calling on President Obama to negotiate a separate trade agreement with the UK. Here is the text of his statement:

“The Brexit referendum, for better or for worse, is behind us. This was a decision for the British people to make and they chose to leave. We must respect that decision whether we agree with it or not. Now Congress has a responsibility and interest to work with the United Kingdom, particularly when it comes to strengthening economic ties between our two great nations.

"This is why I am introducing a resolution urging the Obama Administration to direct the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to immediately commence discussions for a U.S.-UK bilateral trade agreement.

"Brexit will likely cause short term disruptions. A bilateral trade agreement, the North Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (NATIP), will mitigate potentially adverse economic consequences as a result of Brexit. Beginning discussions for this agreement will help stabilize the current financial turmoil.

"The United States and the United Kingdom have long shared a special relationship. We have strong cultural and economic ties and a commitment to shared strategic interests. The UK is the largest private sector investor in the United States as well as one of the largest markets for U.S. goods, and one of the largest suppliers. By forming a stronger economic alliance with the UK our strategic interests would be strengthened and enhanced.

"Discussions for a bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. do not weaken a commitment to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It is abundantly clear that negotiations for TTIP are moving at a slow pace. NATIP could ignite action or movement on TTIP. These two trade agreements would be complimentary to one another.

"Finally, assuring a great ally in this extraordinary moment is an immediate imperative. The United States and the United Kingdom must continue to work together. The Administration must begin discussions to show that the UK is never ‘in the back of the queue’ when it comes to American interests.”

Panto Gun Proposal Pre-Empted

Easton Mayor Sal Panto has proposed a gun ban at city parks and city hall. This move comes after the state's Supreme Court invalidated a law that allows gun groups or any persons "adversely affected" by local gun control laws to sue. But state law still preempts any local regulation of firearms.
"No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth."
I completely agree that no person should be allowed to bring a weapon into a government building or city park. The Ross Township massacre proves that it is all-too-easy for a mentally disturbed individual to go to a public meeting and blast away. But this change has to come from the state, nit Easton City Hall. So Panto's proposal will be rejected just as quickly as the law giving gun owners the right to sue.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why Jerry Seyfried's Dog Smokes

Former NorCo Exec Gerald E. "Jerry" Seyfried is sending this email to his pals. He used to be my friend. He just got back from Alaska. He had to end his fishing trip early because I reported him to PETA. 


Fear Not, the Fed Ed Investigation is Alive and Well

I warned you in early May that the United States Supreme Court could soon have some good news for Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. He's the obvious target of a federal investigation into political corruption. While chess pieces around him have fallen, the King is still on the board, defiant and in denial. Yesterday, as was widely expected, the Court of Final Error unanimously invalidated an honest services fraud conviction of Virginia ex-Governor Bob McDonnell. This ruling makes it more difficult to prosecute Fed Ed. But it by no means  ends the case against him, as Fed Ed's mouthpiece is telling anyone who will listen. It has instead halted what White House counsel from Ronald Reagen to Barack Obama have called a  “breathtaking expansion of public-corruption law" that "would likely chill federal officials’ interactions with the people they serve and thus damage their ability effectively to perform their duties.”

Had the Court invalidated he honest services fraud and federal bribery statutes as unconstitutionally vague, as it was asked to do, that would have ended most political corruption investigations, including the one aimed at Fed Ed. But the Court actually held these statutes are constitutional. It has interpreted the law in a way that avoids the vagueness claim.

McDonnell has by no means been exonerated. Get this. The Court rejected a request to dismiss the case. He and his wife accepted gifts that included a Rolex watch and a shopping spree for designer clothing. There were stays at a donor's vacation home, loans and even more gifts. Their behavior was "distasteful" and "tawdry." and the Court agreed that "it may be worse than that."

All that the Court did is reject a criminal conviction because of faulty jury instructions on what constitutes the "official act" aspect of honest services fraud. He could very easily be retried, but in a prosecution in which the jury gets better instructions on what constitutes an "official act" for purposes of honest services fraud. .

Under the Supreme Court's interpretation, "Setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event does not, standing alone, qualify as an ‘official act.’” But it could be.

"[T]his is not to say that setting up a meeting, hosting an event, or making a phone call is always an innocent act, or is irrelevant, in cases like this one. If an official sets up a meeting, hosts an event, or makes a phone call on a question or matter that is or could be pending before another official, that could serve as evidence of an agreement to take an official act. A jury could conclude, for example, that the official was attempting to pressure or advise another official on a pending matter. And if the official agreed to exert that pressure or give that advice in exchange for a thing of value, that would be illegal."

From the federal charging documents filed in the Allentown and Reading investigations, there is ample evidence of criminal conduct by Fed Ed, even under a more restrictive definition of what constitutes an "official act."

We know the scheme: [Fed Ed] aspired to win election to a statewide elective office. To achieve this goal and others, [Fed Ed], while still serving as a public official in Allentown, hired and directed certain political operatives (“the campaign operatives”), known to the United States Attorney, to help him raise campaign contributions from donors, including parties who had profited from their dealings with the City of Allentown and who sought favorable treatment from the City of Allentown (“the vendors”). [Fed Ed] also directed certain municipal officials to give preferential treatment to certain of his past and potential political donors.

In 2014 and 2015, [Fed Ed] and others, known to the United States Attorney, knowingly devised and intended to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and deprive the City of Allentown and its citizens of [Fed Ed]'s honest services through a bribery and kickback scheme, wherein [Fed Ed] sought campaign contributions, including contributions to [Fed Ed]’s federal campaign, in exchange for past, continued, and future official actions that  [Fed Ed] took, attempted to take, and caused and attempted to cause the City of Allentown to take. 

[Fed Ed] directed other public officials to identify for him individuals and entities who had profited from their dealings with the City of Allentown and who sought favorable treatment from the City of Allentown (“the vendors”). [Fed Ed], directly and through subordinates, made clear to certain vendors, including [Jack Rosen], [McTish and Kunkel Engineering], and Ramzi Haddad, that providing [Fed Ed] with campaign contributions was a necessary condition for receiving certain favorable treatment from the City of Allentown.

Disappointed by his poor fundraising in his earlier campaign for statewide office, [Fed Ed] instructed defendant MICHAEL FLECK, [Jack Rosen], [McTish and Kunkel Engineering], [Scott Allinson] Donor #5, Ramzi Haddad, and others that his best chance at winning his party's support as a candidate for the federal office was to maximize the campaign contributions that he received on or before a federal campaign reporting deadline of June 30, 2015.

We know he threatened adverse official action against those who failed to come up with money for his various campaigns:

[Fed Ed] communicated to others, including Allentown officials and defendant MICHAEL FLECK, that the city of Allentown would withhold favorable treatment from certain donors who failed to provide satisfactory campaign contributions to [Fed Ed].

On diverse dates between on or about January 6, 2014, and on or about May 26, 2015, [Fed Ed], Mary Ellen Koval, defendant MICHAEL FLECK, and others met for the purpose of helping [Jack Rosen]'s company receive a "no-bid" contract from the City of Allentown as a reward for [Jack Rosen]'s agreement to raise campaign contributions for [Fed Ed].

Here feds may have a problem, at least isolated by itself. We know that sending a letter, by itself, is not considered official action when directed at boards over which there is no control. Except in Allentown, Fed Ed appointed members of these commissions and boards. .

[Fed Ed] caused and attempted to cause certain municipal staff to take official action favorable to certain actual and potential donors, including defendant RAMZI HADDAD and other donors to [Fed Ed]’s federal campaign.

An outright bribe is still an outright bribe.

During his in-person interactions with defendant RAMZI HADDAD at restaurants, [Fed Ed] directed defendant HADDAD to pay [Fed Ed]’s food and beverage bills

In order to conceal and continue the conspiracy, [Fed Ed] employed countersurveillance maneuvers, including destroying records, conducting sweeps of government offices for electronic surveillance, and procuring disposable “burner phones” that he believed would be difficult for law enforcement to monitor.

Bid rigging is pretty clearly an "official action."

On or about January 8. 2014, [Fed Ed] contacted defendant GARRET STRATHEARN to explain the importance of awarding the 2014 revenue collection contract to [Northeast Revenue Service] and ensure that defendant STRATHEARN would help achieve that result.

On or about May 27, 2014 and again on or about August 14, 2015, in order to conceal and continue the conspiracy, defendant GARRET STRATHEARN made materially false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of  Investigation who were investigating the conspiracy. For example, defendant STRATHEARN falsely claimed that [Fed Ed] was unaware of  expressing any preference about, let alone having input or involvement in, the award process for the 2014 revenue collection contract when in fact, as STRATHEARN well knew. [Fed Ed] had specifically told him that [Fed Ed] wanted [Northeast Revenue Service] to win the contract and that it was important for STRATHEARN to provide that result for [Fed Ed]'s benefit.

This sounds like official action to me.

On or about August 8, 2014, [Fed Ed] agreed to help [McTish and Kunkel]'s company receive a contract from the City of Allentown as a reward for [McTish and Kunkel]'s agreement to raise campaign contributions for [Fed Ed].

On diverse dates between on or about April 14, 2014, and on or about May 8, 2015, [T and M] met with [Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer], [Fed Ed], defendant MICHAEL FLECK, and others, known to the United States Attorney, to discuss trading municipal contracts in Allentown and Reading for campaign contributions from a political action committee over which [T and M]'s company had influence and control.

By itself, this is not an "official action."

On or about April 21, 2015,[Fed Ed], acting in his official capacity as an elected official, used the U.S. mails to send a letter of support for a proposal in which Ramzi Haddad had a business interest, in consideration for Haddad's agreement to raise money for [Fed Ed].

If communicated to Donor Scott Allinson, this is extortion. 

Upon hearing that [Scott Allinson] had expressed doubt about [Norris McLaughlin]'s willingness to make future contributions, [Fed Ed] complained "Really! I've given him millions of dollars.. .. Relatively, compared to other law firms, they've given nothing. [Allinson] for sure will get nothing now. ... You know, f--k them! And I'm not gonna award work to [Allinson's] law partner] or anything. Screw it all!"

On or about July 2, 2015, in order to conceal and continue the conspiracy, [Fed Ed] made materially false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who were investigating the conspiracy. For example, [Fed Ed] falsely denied having had any knowledge of, involvement in, or interference with Allentown's RFP process when, as [Fed Ed] well knew, he had taken steps to help award the 2014 revenue collection contract to [Northeast Revenue Service]. 

False statements are still false statements.

On or about July 2, 2015, in order to conceal and continue the conspiracy, [Fed Ed] made materially false statements to FBI agents who were investigating the conspiracy. For example, [Fed Ed] falsely denied knowing whether he had received campaign contributions from [Jack Rosen]’s company or its principals when in fact, two days earlier, as [Fed Ed] well knew, [Jack Rosen] had donated and bundled tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, which were transferred to [Fed Ed]’s federal campaign via interstate wires, including the Internet.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bethlehem Celebrates 275th

Picture stolen from Don Cunningham's Facebook page.
I've always felt Bethlehem is the jewel of the Lehigh Valley, as Don Cunningham says, "a very special place." and that's in no small due to the efforts of each of its these five fellows: John Callahan, Ken Smith, current Mayor Bob Donchez, Don Cunningham and Gordon Mowrer. But as they themselves would tell you, it's mostly due to the people who live there. I see them at meetings frequently, and they never cease to amaze me with their insights.

Judge Panella Helped By Man He Sent Away

Judge Panella and Jerry
Can people change? Superior Court Judge Jack Panella, whose chambers are in Bethlehem and is a former County judge, has seen some of the state's most hardened criminals in his decades on the bench. But during his summer vacation in Fort Lauderdale, he saw first hand that some people do change for the better

Panella, like many older runners, has back problems from years of pounding. When he and his wife experienced a flat tire in their Florida rental car, he tried his best to throw on a spare. But his back was making it hard for him.

Someone was watching from across the street. A hot dog vendor named Jerry saw Judge Panella. "You look like you're having trouble," he said and offered to help. Judge Panella quickly agreed.

While Jerry worked on the car, a Fort Lauderdale cop also stopped and helped Jerry.

While they were talking, Judge Panella learned that Jerry is originally from Pennsylvania.

"You probably never heard of it, it's called the Lehigh Valley!"

"That's where I'm from!"

Knowing that Jerry is originally from the Lehigh Valley, Panella asked him if he knew anyone.

Jerry did, and spoke very highly of Judge Grifo and McFadden.

"I had some trouble in the past, and that's why I moved here. They were very helpful."

"Do you know Judge Panella?"

"He's the jerk who sentenced me!"

Though Jerry was holding a tire iron, Judge Panella identified himself. Jerry hugged him.

Is Hillary Taking Pa. For Granted? Or Has She Written State Off?

From 538
When she was at Liberty High School a few years ago, running against Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton reminded local Democrats that Lehigh Valley Congressman Paul McHale had voted to impeach her husband. Not very reassuring to anyone hoping that Hillary will have the Lehigh Valley's back.They voted for her anyway, but i would nor be so sure this time

538, a website that focuses on opinion polls, is concerned that Hillary Clinton is just a little too sure of winning Pennsylvania this Fall. She has undeniable lead in the polls and has set aside $137 million for television. But she's reserved no air time in the Keystone State, which is gone from Democrat to "toss up," according to NPR. Given the perception that many Pennsylvania Democrats are corrupt, from Chaka Fattah to Kathleen Kane to Fed Ed, this omission will hurt unless quickly remedied.

From 538:
"Many Democrats take Pennsylvania for granted because it hasn’t voted Republican in a presidential election since 1988. But in 2012, its margin for President Obama was just 5.4 percentage points, equal to his margin in Colorado and less than his margins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — all states included in early pro-Clinton ad reservations this year. Moreover, unlike those four states, Pennsylvania has trended toward Republicans over time, thanks to its older, whiter and more working-class electorate."

*          *          *

"So far this year, 73,543 Democratic registrants have switched to the GOP. The switchers mostly live in heavily white, working-class counties, and most did so in advance of the April 26 primary, presumably to vote for Trump. Trump took 57 percent statewide, but he took 70 percent in Fayette County (Uniontown) and 77 percent in Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre) — locales that recorded two of the highest rates of party switching."
Political corruption among Pa. Democrats should reach a crescendo toward the end of the summer, when Attorney general Kathleen Kane goes to trial. In the meantime, federal investigations and guilty pleas have painted Democratic elected officials in a very poor light. Democrats are certainly going to lose the Attorney general's seat, and could lose every row office, especially with an inept Governor who needlessly dragged out a budget fight that he ultimately lost.

It could be that Hillary is not taking Pa. for granted. Remember, this is the state derided by then candidate Barack Obama for clinging to guns and religion.

She may have written the state off.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Opinions Online, 6/25/16

Blogger's Note: Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature. If you'd like to express your opinion on any topic, click on the Opinions Online button on my left sidebar. You can also call 385-325-2564. In addition to these submissions, I sometimes highlight comments from throughout the week and re-publish them here. Please keep your comments brief, if possible.


June 30, 2016 is the official announcement of Joanne Jackson for State Representative in the 131st District. The event will begin at 6 pm. at 4195 Estates Drive, Center Valley, Pa. and Joanne is committed to donating 25% of her salary when elected to local non-profits. Visit her face book site at Joanne Jackson for State Representative. Her website will be forthcoming as she is running a grass roots campaign and momentum is happening as she brings a new vitality to this political possession. She has vowed not to run as a career politician and will not break any political promises.


First it was the destruction of an open space piece of land in Bethlehem Twp and then is was the construction of a cell tower in Lower Nazareth Twp, what is wrong with our elected and appointed officials in not working with and or communicating with the residents? Do they have all the answers? Best legal advice taxpayers can buy?


Bernie; Did you send me something as an e-mail? I generally do not open files if I'm not convinced the person is not a phisher.
Send it again if it was you. Dave Molony

Blogger's Reply: Email Accout Hacked. - Lat Friday, my email account was hacked. I found out almst immediately after it happened and stopped it in about 15 minutes. But during that time, someone sent our hundreds of emails under my name. My password is pretty strong, and the new password is stronger. i am sorry for any confusion caused.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Will Allentown Tap Ex NorCo Administrator Luis Campos?

Earlier this month, I told you that Northampton County Director of Administration Luis Campos had suddenly resigned. Executive John Brown never explained why, but it's pretty clear he wanted his top administrator to go. This might actually be a blessing in disguise for the soft-spoken former administrator. Various Allentown sources tell me that Campos is under serious consideration as a replacement for the Managing Director position recently vacated by Francis Dougherty.  

Any person nominated by Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski, who is under federal investigation for political corruption, is going to receive tough scrutiny. But Campos has several things going for him. Council member Julio Guridy thinks the world of him, and even spoke on his behalf at Campos' confirmation hearing in Northampton County. He might be able to sway several council members. Also, he is both highly educated and experienced in both the public and private sectors. Finally, he is a Latino in a community that is largely Latino.

Beca Beats Central in Holy War

One guy is smiling in this picture, and the other is not. That tells the story. Becahi's Golden Hawks defeated the Allentown Central Catholic Vikings in summer basketball last night. Because of threatening skies, the game was played indoors at Whitehall High School. At one time, Beca was up by double digits, but Central fought back and finished the game three points behind.

The smiling player is Becahi sophomore Caden Giordano, who is about 18' and still growing. He's been getting a lot of playing time this summer, and scored at least four in last night's game. Central's "Who Dat" Lambert told me he was not smiling because he wanted to see the basketball draft, but the truth is he hates to lose.

In my mind, they are all winners. Caden and Dat used to play together in grade school.  They were mentored by Ace coach Emil Giordano. He happens to be a judge in his spare time.

While I was enjoying the games (I saw three last night), Judge Giordano snapped a picture of the back of my head. Some bastard must have removed all the hair on the back of my head while I was sleeping.

In other games, Whitehall beat Liberty by 14 and that's because Mikey Esquilin was able to play. Northampton, led by Aiden Elwood, edged out Freedom.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Benner Gets Green Light for $5.5 MM Apartment Building Next to OBT

At their June 22 meeting, Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board voted 3-0 to support dimensional variances that will permit Bethlehem Attorney Garrett Benner to build a 33-unit apartment building at 124-128 W Union Boulevard, next to the Old Brewery Tavern (OBT). The property is currently owned by the Casilio family, but is under agreement of sale to B-Land Company, owned by the Benners. Instead of tearing the old warehouse down, Benner has proposed an adaptive re-use. He will spend $5.5 million of his own money, with no special tax concessions or public grants, to build something that he testified "will improve the general character of a neighborhood ridden by crime."

The vote was 3-0 because two members of the Board recused themselves. Attorney Michael Santanasto has represented some members of the Casilio family, while Attorney Linda Shay Gardner's husband has publicly supported the project.

Attorney Chris Spadoni, representing the OBT, objected to continuing with just three Zoning Hearing Board members, complaining his client is "deprived of a full board." But Solicitor Erich Schock asked, "How does that prejudice you? The vote dynamic does not change." He noted there is no difference between a 3-2 vote and a 2-1 vote. The hearing went on, but the Board did vote unanimously to seek alternates.

Benner was represented by his father, Dennis Benner.

Garrett presented photographs of the exterior and interior of the old warehouse, noting that the building is "tattooed with graffiti" and that there are numerous broken windows. "Things have become progressively worse over the past several months," he said.

"Is that a picture of an abandoned car inside?" asked Bill Fitzpatrick. Garrett acknowledged that there were various cars inside the building, on the first floor.

Benner's plan is to use the building footprint as a garage for parking 39 cars on the first two levels. He will use an adjoining lot 114 Spruce street to provide 18 additional parking spots. Then he will build three floors on top of the two existing garage floors with 15 two-bedroom and 18 one-bedroom apartments. Fixtures will be stainless steel and granite. Most apartments will have their own balcony, and the rents will be between $1,200 and $1,500 a month.

Benner met with downtown Bethlehem merchants concerning this project, and he received a letter of support from the Downtown Business Association, penned by Donegal Square's Neville Garner. "The greenest building is often the building that is already built," said Gardner. He added that the apartment building will "support small business when finished."

But Spadoni, representing the OBT, was concerned that tenants will complain about the bar, which he claimed can get a bit rowdy. "We want to be protected," he said.

The OBT was the only objector.

After deliberation, the Zoning Hearing Board imposed three condition on their 3-0 approval. First, all leases must state that the apartment is located next to a bar and restaurant facility, Second, windows are prohibited at the apartment on the west end. Third, Benner must provide as much buffering as possible from the OBT.

In other business, the Board voted unanimously to approve two sign variances along Wood Street for Moravian Village. Attorney Bill Matz argued that the signs would blend into the surrounding area, which is owned by Moravian Village. Also, Cheryl Hoch was granted permission to build a 12' x 12' porch at 1025 laurel Drive, so long as it is not enclosed.

Ramadan: Jews, Christians and Muslims Break Bread at Payrow Plaza

Lots of kids enjoying Turkish food
Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board was scheduled to hear four cases on June 22. Meetings can get pretty crowded. It was still a surprise to see a big tent pitched outside Town Hall before the hearings started. Fortunately, the 150 people inside had no interest in variances or nonconforming uses. They were there for a Ramadan dinner and included people of all faiths - Muslim, Jew and Christian. The meal, completely free of charge, was for anyone interested in interfaith and intercultural dialogue.

Northampton Attorney Dean Berg and his wife, participated in the dinner. 
What is Ramadan? According to the Lehigh Dialogue Center, "Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. Every year we ask our friends and neighbors to participate in a life experience in the month of Ramadan. We organize Ramadan dinners at our centers, our member's homes, churches, synagogues and colleges to portray and experience the Ramadan's role in sharing, feeding and helping the poor."

Ramadan is between June 5 and July 5 this year.

Ohran Guven sings a prayer while Dr. Kent Ozman and other Muslims holds hands out.

Dear Easton Area School Board

According to The Morning Call, an indoor farm is coming to an old factory building on Easton's south side. But there's a catch. There's outstanding real estate taxes in the amountof about $3,300 standing in the way of a $4.5 million investment. No worries. Donna Taggart, who has made a living by bleeding local government as a "consultant," has prepared a letter to the Easton Areas School District.

Dear Easton Area School Board:

I am working on a $4.5 million project that will convert a vacant mill into an exciting vertical urban farm complex. But here's my problem, I need you to waive $3,380 in penalties on outstanding real estate taxes. My motto is when planning to do multi-million dollar projects, every thousand dollars is important. Can you help?


Donna Taggart, consultant for
Developer No One Has Ever Heard Of - Southern Cross Management
You Can Visit Me At My "Office" Which Is Also My Apartment At 210 Rittenhouse Square

A financial analyst i know calls this "an investment for people with more money than brains."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hold the Mayo! He's Out at ASD

Though they'll call it a sabbatical, Allentown School District is buying out Dr. Russ Mayo. Instead of buying the last year if his contract, five school board members will pay him to be absent. This financially irresponsible decision is the handiwork of School Board Prez David Zimmerman wants Mayo out because the Superintendent refused to give him preferential treatment when his child was supposedly the victim of bullies.

I understand the formal vote will take place tomorrow night, and Mayo will not be there.

The Board will embark on a year-long search for a new Superintendent, but they've become too political to attract anyone with any ability. As they've demonstrated time and again, like with Mayo's predecessor, there's little interest in ability. They'll look everywhere for a superintendent who is black or at least slightly tanned.

I hear Michael Frassetto is available.

US Att'y Has Message for Fed Ed

After today's guilty verdict in the racketeering prosecution of Philadelphia Congressman Chaka Fattah, US Attorney Zane David Memeger released a statement that says, in part:

“Chaka Fattah Sr. and his co-defendants betrayed the public trust and undermined our faith in government. ... Today’s verdict makes clear that the citizens of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania expect their public officials to act with honesty and integrity, and to not sell their office for personal gain. Hopefully, our elected officials in Philadelphia and elsewhere hear today’s message loud and clear.”

How Did You Spend the Summer Solstice?

Remember, I'm a Druid!

The Taj Mahal of Craphouses?

Mike Hudak 
By a narrow 3-2 vote, Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted at their June 20 meeting to seek a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth Financing Agency for combination bathroom facilities and a storeroom at the Northside Athletic Complex. It's the same grant that Commissioners sought nearly exactly one year ago in another 3-2 vote. Township Manager Melissa Shafer explained that a second grant request was necessary because of last year's state budget impasse. It is still pending review.

The Northside Athletic Complex is where the Bulldogs play football, softball, soccer and lacrosse. The bathroom, if it's ever built, will replace port-a-johns currently in place. The actual cost is currently estimated at about $300,000-$350,000.

In previous memos to Commissioners, Shafer blames the 2009 International Building Code and Township Plumbing Code for the high cost. Based on parking lot capacity,  a public restroom must include six women's toilets; two men's toilets, one urinal and two lavatories (sinks) in each restroom. That's not all. Handicapped accessible facilities for each gender; two drinking fountains (one each for wheelchair and standing persons); a service closet with water heater, mop sink, and cleaning supply storage; and a separate, "family assisted use" restroom are required.

In addition to being a restroom, the facility would provide permanent storage for shoulder pads and other athletic equipment. The Bethlehem Bulldogs currently $8,000/year for storage of equipment and supplies during the off season, and have previously stated they would agree to an $8,000 cut in their annual allotment from the Township if this project becomes reality.

Voting in favor of the grant request were Malissa Davis, Kim Jenkins and Tom Nolan. Opposed were Mike Hudak and Pat Breslin, who voted against the grant request in 2015, too.

"It's a lot of money for a bathroom," said Malissa Davis. "It would be nice to see a plan. ...But I don't think it's unreasonable to provide bathrooms at the North 40."

Hudak countered that there alreadty are bathrooms (port-a-johns)and that citizens don't want it, a point he made last year, too. "I don't care if it's grant money or not.... All I can say is if we're going to go for a grant for a quarter million dollars, I think we should be spending it on more than a bathroom. ... We're blowing a quarter million dollars on something stupid, and you can quote me on that."

Last year, Breslin claimed on talk radio that he could raise $100,000 for the bathrooms without involving the government. But one year later, Breslin has raised no money.

From the floor, Don Wright suggested dropping the storage room component. Roy Roth called the request "pathetic" in a township with storm water problems. Dennis Brennan said the Bulldogs should raise the money for this on their own. Martin Comer called it "the Taj Mahal of craphouses."

In other business, Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint John Meehan to the township police force. Meehan is a graduate of Rutgers with a double major in criminal justice and sociology. He has been a police officer in Baltimore for the past five years, but wants to return to the Lehigh Valley.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Congressman Fattah and Fed Ed

We have become a society accustomed to getting everything we want, and when we want it. Many of you have asked why are the feds taking so long to indict Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. Its racketeering investigation of Philly Congressman Chakka Fattah began in 2006. He was convicted today.

I'd rather see the feds be careful and win than rush and lose.

Allentown's Pied Piper Guilty on Three Truancy Charges

Both sides can claim a win. Both sides must admit defeat. After listening to a day of testimony that included seven Allentown School District principals and its operations officer, Magisterial District Judge Karen Devine found former teacher Michael Frassetto guilty of three counts of corrupting the morals of minors for his role in inciting a student walkout in Allentown last year. The Allentown School District has made the point that there's no such thing as a constitutional right to cut class. But Frassetto dodged a conviction on 142 citations. He was fined $100 on each of three counts instead of $14,500.

Let me start by telling you that this is not the typical corruption case, in which someone plies a minor with alcohol or drugs for nefarious purposes. In the context of this prosecution "Any person who knowingly aids, abets, entices or encourages a minor younger than 18 years of age to commit truancy commits a summary offense." It's called corruption of minors, but should be called truancy.

Ed DeGrace so vulgar in morning session
that Frassetto supporters asked him to be quiet.
He failed to return in the afternoon.
Divining Judge Devine

Judge Devine, with a face that was almost always smiling, noted that there is no defense of justification. In other words, it makes no difference why Frassetto wanted kids to cut class. If he knowingly encouraged the walkout, he committed a summary offense.    

Devine's courtroom, if you can call it that, is in the basement of the old Lehigh County Courthouse. It's a tiny room with a table and a hodgepodge of chairs. About 25 people crammed inside an unassuming room that included a fascinating assortment of decorations. On one wall hangs an old Ringling Brothers circus poster, which made me wonder if that is her commentary on the judicial system. There was also a mannequin head sitting atop a credenza, with a British barrister's white powdered wig. There were also some 40 year-old political ads and, here and there, small vases of artificial flowers. But the pièce de résistance would have to be her judicial robes, hanging on a wall.

All judges, even mini-judges, are required to wear judicial robes. But as Judge Devine pointed out, no one has insisted that they be any particular color. So Judge Devine has three robes. Yesterday's color was merlot, she said. I also noticed a more bluish robe and the traditional black.

Based on the courtroom and its decorations, it's hard to divine Judge Devine. She certainly appeared to be her own thinker.

Frassetto has taken a break from teaching
The prosecution
The principals at Allentown's three high schools and four middle schools all testified.Operations officer David Wildonger saw Frassetto at William Allen on 9/28 and 9/29, and could hear him on a bullhorn telling students they would get in no trouble for leaving. He had Facebook excerpts and even a video, but Judge Devine refused to accept the social media because she was unsure if it was really Frassetto. The video was definitely him, but she did not know if he posted it.

Another weakness is that students who had agreed to testify suddenly got cold feet. Finally, nothing directly tied Frassetto to the middle schools or Building 21.

* William Allen (3,000 students) - Principal Luke Shafnisky witnesses the walkouts that occurred on September 28 and 29, 2015.Altogether, 186 students participated. On the first day, they walked out after the second period. He could see Frassetto on the first day, exhorting students with a bullhorn. Some of them spilled ot intto the streets. On the second day, they sat on steps, which made it difficult for students who wanted to go to class. Students were booed as they walked in and the situation was "ripe for conflict."

Shafnisky spoke about the walkout with Frassetto several days before it occurred. He argued that the "best and safest place was in school, so children could receive their education and stay safe."

After the walkouts, Safinsky notified parents immediately, and some of them brought their truant children back..

* Dieruff (1,800 students). - Principal Susan Bacian said that on the first day of the walkout (9/28) she could see a group of about 20 young adults approach the school . A woman was speaking into a bullhorn, encouraging children to leave. About 50 students walked out that first day.  Teachers stood by the exits, asking students to remain.

She never saw Frassetto at the walkouts but did see him at a football game,handing out fliers that encouraged kids to leave.

* Building 21 (140 students) - Principal Jeanine Mathesz said 22 of her students walked out, and she called the parents of every one of them. "We're responsible for those students, even if they leave the building," she explained.Some of the parents brought their children back to school. She conducted town halls prior to the walkout, but they were lured by the promise of Chinese food. She never saw Frassetto.

* South Mountain Middle School (990 students) - Principal Frank Derrick, who has some students who are only nine years old, testified that 47 students participated in the walkout  He had people posted around the school, took the name of each student who left, and contacted parents. "A lot of them said they wanted Chinese food," he explained. He never saw Frassetto.

This lino was taking kids from Raub Middle School
* Raub Middle School (860 students) - Principal Susan Elliott said things were "very chaotic" on the day of the walkout as kids poured into the hallway. She testified 40 of her students participated in the walkout, mostly on the first day. They were lured by Chinese food the first day, and double cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets the second. She contacted each parent, and some of them returned with their children. She did not see Frassetto at her school, nor did she see his handouts. She saw several students hop into a limousine.

* Trexler Middle School (840 students) - Principal Christine Piripabel said 31 students walked out the first day, followed by four on the second and none on the third. She did not see Frassetto at her school.

* Harrison Morton Middle School (812 students) - Principal Daria Custer said that 33 of her students participated in the walkout. She never saw Frassetto, but did see handouts in student lockers.

Frassetto's Defense

When Frassetto testified, he had a 14 page manifesto entitled "Recent Failures of Allentown School District Encouraged Peaceful Protest." In it, he explains that lousy test scores, low graduation rates, a lack of staff diversity, discrimination against minority administrators, mismanagement of school funds, sexual assaults and student abuse are what led to the walkouts.

None of those reasons matter to Judge Devine, who pointered out several times that it makes nio difference why students are encouraged to leave school.

Frassetto portrayed himself as only one of many participants in organizing the walkout. He indicated he was encouraged by three lehigh professors, three Kutztown University professors as well as the sororities and fraternities of the local colleges.

"Do you think students have a First Amendment right to express themselves by walking out of school in the middle of the day?" asked Freund.


He said he was prepared to accept the consequences for his actions, just like Mandela, Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

Asteak double-teamed. 

Asteak is also a farmer
Though Judge Devine occasionally had to separate them, it was a pleasure to watch legal warriors Jonathan M. Huerta and John E. Freund III double team prominent criminal defense lawyer Gary Asteak. They presented a thorough case that included video from Frassetto, his Facebook excerpts, photographs and attendance sheets at seven different schools. Huerta acted as lead counsel, but it was Freund who coaxed Frassetto into admitting his criminal behavior during cross-examination.

With his Stetson on the table and his blue-colored glasses put away, Asteak was on the attack from the beginning to end. He probably set the Guinness record for most hearsay objections in one day, but amazingly, most of them were sustained. After one of these minor victories, Asteak asked that the testimony be "stricken from the record."

"We're not a court of record," answered Judge Devine.

"Then strike it from your memory," said Asteak.

Though there was absolutely nothing in the record to back him up, Asteak repeatedly insisted that the student walkout was forced on students because the school board had locked them out of a meeting and refused to listen to them.

"Mr. Asteak has done more testifying in this case than the witnesses," complained Freund.

'There's no First Amendment right to shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre,' argued Huerta.

"Is it OK to shout 'Fire' in a theatre that is on fire?" asked Asteak. "This school district is on fire and the kids have a right to throw some water on it."
"Mr. Frassetto will proudly wear the badge of criminal for giving the kids the right to speak up. These are Latinos, young men and women of color, who are being repressed. Is it criminal to seek help, to raise your voice?"
Huerta, who is a Latino and said he struggled to make it, countered there is no first amendment right to crate a substantial disruption.
"At the end of the day, this is about students who want a better education. There's a way to make it, a way to do it, but it's not in the middle of a school day."
Asteak mispronounced the name of one school district witness several times while Freund repeatedly mispronounced Frassetto's name. Each accused the other of playing rhetorical tricks and trying to annoy the witness by constantly butchering his name. .

I asked them both whether they were playing games after the hearing, and they both responded, "I don't know what you're talking about, O'Hara."

The verdict.

Judge Divine found Frassetto guilty on three counts for the two days at William Allen, where he was observed and one day at Deiruff, where he was spotted handing out flyers. Because nothing tied him directly to the middle schools or Building 21, she dismissed those charges.

Frassetto was only convicted on three counts of a summary offense, the legal equivalent of a parking ticket. Could This could affect his teaching certificate, but that seems unlikely.

Updated 3:40 pm: Who is Ed DeGrace (Disgrace)? - He's a Fed Ed goon I first caught here in 2008, posting attacks under an assumed name. He's responsible for laundering an $8,000 contribution to Fed Ed from a third party through Latinos for a New Lehigh Valley PAC, and then failing to file a finance report that would identify this contributor.

He remains a Fed Ed cheerleader.
"Hey Ed, you can count me among the cheerleaders. Allentown has come a long way and you've had your hands and your heart in her rebirth since ABC, DEDC- Allentown, etc. My beef is with ASD and we have a long way to go in the areas of education, income disparity and minority engagement toward building the new but, I'm sure you're aware of these continuing battles. Maybe some of the naysayers should consider running for Mayor, against you and your record. Statistics show that even a generic, recalcitrant, yelping opponent could muster 35%. Good job Ed. Still much to do but, keep building the new."

He attempted to muzzle me at a Kevin Dougherty rally last year, but failed.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ed Disgrace invades Frassetto Trial

Four witnesses, including three school principals, have testified so far in the truancy case against former Allentown charter school teacher Michael Frassetto. Last September, he organized and led s three day walkout that attracted students from two high and four middle schools. Was he enticing truancy, as the schol District contends, or should he be compared to Mandela and Martin Lither King, as Gary Asteak argues?

Judge Karen Devine's tiny courtroom is packed with school district officials and Frassetto supporters, whose numbers include Ed Disgrace, outed by this blog as a troll many years ago. Disgrace seated himself directly behind me and spent much of the morning disparaging me in loud whispers. He continued even as other Frassetto supporters asked him to tone it down. 

He kept his voice low enough so the judge did not hear him. He also whispered insults at each school district witness.

Bottom-Feeding BloggerMobile

What fun is it being a bottom-feeding blogger without a bottom-feeding bloggermobile? I tooled around in this last night, and like the batmobile, was able to drive it across the Delaware River. Then I went airborne and knocked down a few drones.

And then I woke up.

Who owns this totally badass car? The license plate tells you.

King Allentown, who is in training for a fight with Muscles Nardone at Sportsfest, says he'd like it if it had fur.

BTCC is Now Gilligan's Island

In her monthly report, Bethlehem Township Manager Melissa Shafer announced that Jackie Gilligan is the new director at the Township Community Center. She takes over for Floyd Schaffer.

"I am pleased to report that after an extensive search and interview process, we have promoted Jackie Gilligan to the position of Bethlehem Township Community Center Director. Jackie has been with the Township since 2002 serving as the Recreation Program Coordinator. She continued her employment with the BTCC since its 2006 opening, serving as the Office Manager and assisting in all aspects of running the Center. Jackie graduated from Lock Haven University in 2002 with a degree in Recreation Management and Business Management. Jackie brings to the Community Center a great business acumen, a great knowledge and understanding of all the facets of the center, and a true passion for recreation."

Jennings: Hospitals Need to Do More

Lehigh Valley Health Network dodged a bullet recently when Lehigh County jurist Brian Johnson decided that it's doing enough - $354 million worth - to satisfy its charitable mission. The person who thought differently, Robert Young, is himself a retired judge. He's not alone. Community organizer Alan Jennings, helmsman at CACLV, said the hispital has a moral, of not legal, obligation to do more, especially for those in the throes of mental illness or a heroin addiction.

“Behavioral health problems impede every aspect of our region’s quality of life,” Jennings said. “They impair worker productivity, destroy families, fill our jails, cost infinite amounts of money and diminish the success of even the best healthcare in the Lehigh Valley. LVHN CEO Brian Nester, an extraordinarily gifted entrepreneur and physician, has an historic opportunity and obligation to lead the way.”

Coroner statistics, which show a marked increase in drug overdose deaths, do not lie.

Also, does anyone really disput that mental illness has more than a little to do with recent mass shootings?

Jennings reported that he has met with dozens of representatives of non-profit organizations and spoken with countless people in the region, all of whom have stories to tell. “Every one of us, while still sensitive to the stigma attached to mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction, has a friend, a family member or a coworker who struggles to cope,” Jennings said. He offered CACLV’s assistance in the endeavor to Nester.

I'm sure that went over well.

Allentown's Pied Piper Faces The Music Today!

Last September, a charter school teacher lured Allentown school district students away from their classes with Big Macs, eggrolls and rides in Nate Whips' limo. I called him the Pied Piper of Allentown.He's now a former charter school teacher, who was at one time facing 145 citations for corrupting the morals of minors

He actually posted the pic you see above, which shows that he at least has a sense of humor.

His trial on some of these charges is scheduled at 10 am today before Magisterial District Judge Karen Devine. Her courtroom is at 501 Hamilton Street in Allentown. Frassetto started a GoFundMe page for the $2,500 needed for his legal defense, but only collected $190..

Prominent criminal defense lawyer Gary Asteak confirmed that he represents the Pied Piper. I know from my own dealings with Gary that he will sometimes represent a client because he thinks it is the right thing to do and is a man of honor.

"Is the second amendment the only one folks care about anymore?" he asks. "How about the First - press, speech, assembly?"

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Opinions Online, 6/18/16

Blogger's Note: Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature. If you'd like to express your opinion on any topic, click on the Opinions Online button on my left sidebar. You can also call 385-325-2564. In addition to these submissions, I sometimes highlight comments from throughout the week and re-publish them here. Please keep your comments brief, if possible.


Gee thanks BASD, for being kind enough to "lower" our tax increase. Here's a question: They whine so much about the cost of charter school tuition. If so many students are going to charter schools instead of the BASD, shouldn't BASD be able to consolidate classes and lay off teachers? Why no talk about that? I get it, the more experienced ones have tenure (ridiculous system in and of itself), but what's stopping them from canning the younger ones to cut costs?


Holy smokes!!!! The Lehigh County repubs just elected Jess Bonatai as Chairperson, 26 years old, after 220 people didnt want the job

Dean Browning is vice chair,

this is really good for Hillary


What is going on at the Northampton County Courthouse? Heard that Court Administrator Jill Smith has been terminated?! Need a sleuth to find out what is going on. Something smells.

Blogger's Reply: Jill Smith is on medical leave. Both the Administrative Office of Pa. Courts and the Court Administrator's Office confirm she is the Court Administrator.


From Google Voice, (385) 325-2564, name withheld at caller's request: Two [Bethlehem] city council members confirm to me that they're not the city council in Bethlehem is not. They're not issued any city owned computers or laptops on which to do their business, so they're basically doing business city business on their personal computers. I know that this is not prohibited by the state ethics statute - I spoke to one of the lawyers at the commission - and also I called the open records and they said that really not in the scope of what they do. But I do think it's a it's a problematic practice. I mentioned it to a couple of people and they raise their eyebrows with when they hear that this is the case. This is the concern about Hillary Clinton's private server. I thought I'd mention it to you because I believe you're a person who cares about good government. This doesn't strike me as good government, and it probably wouldn't be very expensive wait with what computers cost today to have computers available for them to do their work. One of those city council members is using a library. This is not the way to be productive or good for transparency.


The big story of the week is the delayed sentencing for those convicted so far in the pay to play scandal. What does this mean for the 2 big fish Spencer and Pawlowski? Why hasn't even Rob McCord been sentenced yet? How long can these crooks remain free and act like nothing is going to happen?


Someone gave me the heads up that there has been a rash of car break-ins occurring in Nazareth Boro this week. Make sure you lock up.

Perhaps if uber-cop stopped trying to pull over every car in town for fabricated infractions he would have more time to look out for the vehicle perps.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Heather Browne: "Where I've Been"

Heather Browne (wife of State Senator Pat Browne) was a high-powered lobbyist whom I criticized. She dropped out of sight a few years ago, but opened a small business in Emmaus. I had heard she was ill=, bit had no details. Today she told me she suffers from what we call invisible illnesses. She asked me to share her story, and I am happy to oblige. It takes a great deal of courage on her part to open up, and I am glad she is speaking out. But as brave as she is, I am unwilling to open this story up to comments, especially over a weekend.

Where I've been, Where I'm at, And how you may be able to help!

These last years I have become very reliant on Facebook to stay in touch with many of you. I’ve learned of your victories as well as what interests, saddens and amuses you. We are all complex beings, no two alike, yet all the same at the core. I am mystified by that; I always have been and always will be. I myself have avoided posting my personal circumstances publicly for many reasons. I now feel compelled to do so that I can move on to the next chapter of my life with your help. Many thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.

As many of you know, I have had some significant health challenges these past years that have kept me from being out and about in the community and engaging in activities I enjoy. What many are unaware of, though, is that my challenges are not new to my family or closest friends, as I have struggled with a complicated medical history for more than 30 years. I, my family, dearest friends and physicians have dealt with my flares for many years, and for the most part, we have been able to manage them. What is new, however, is the breadth and impact that this last flare has had on me.

Some of you may be familiar with the term “invisible illnesses.” Unfortunately, as the name implies, these illnesses are tough to diagnose and many have no cures. Fibromyalgia is one of them. Its sufferers may look good, often healthy from the outside, but “inside”, their systems are not working properly. The same is true for Fibro. Fibromyalgia symptoms are complicated and diverse, but always include pain of varying degrees, sometimes even debilitating.

My own health journey has been long and arduous but I know of others whose roads have been even more difficult. My heart breaks for them, however, I am also so encouraged for the many who are newly diagnosed and now have some information and/or tools available that, for whatever reasons, weren’t available years ago.

No doubt some of you are wondering why I’m choosing to share my personal story publicly now. There are many reasons; Firstly, this is my narrative, and in my world, it’s important for folks to hear it from me, not from someone who heard it second or third-hand as facts inevitably change...

Secondly, if I post it here, it can be re-shared and I can lessen the number of times I need to retell the tale as it is physically taxing for me. On that note, I’ve learned too that it can be very difficult for some to process and deal with uncomfortable news, most especially in a social setting. Sharing my news in this way allows folks to process my issues privately and at their own pace so that when I do see them, I can get the smile I know they have for me rather than their overriding fear for me.

Lastly, it is terribly important for folks to become educated and try to understand how difficult it can be for those with any chronic illness, especially those dealing with chronic pain, to go out into the world. It is not only physically draining, but also emotionally draining on countless levels. Lifelong hopes and dreams need to be readjusted, new coping skills need to be found and learned, as every day is now a different kind of challenge, one with each hour sometimes a challenge within itself. It's true, they are not the many fulfilling and fun challenges I used to have, but I’ll take them; with gratitude, and as much grace as I can muster.

There are ways that you can help me, even from afar. First and foremost, keep your prayers and good energies coming my way! I can’t thank all of you enough for your kind words, thoughts, well-wishes, cards and flowers over the last years. They have been so very much appreciated as I, my family and friends have navigated these troubled waters. For those of you close by, know that I am getting stronger, but am still managing many issues. For now, I am making every effort to get out more on my better days. Here are some tips that may help you (and will DEFINITELY help me):

1. Please don’t hug me! I am in physical pain nearly all the time and hugging hurts. Take my hand, kiss me on the cheek, and if you forget and come in for a squeeze, please don’t get embarrassed if I politely pull back and say “No hugs” with a smile!

2. If we’re going out for a meal, understand that I am strictly NO GLUTEN, NO DAIRY. Even the tiniest bit is a problem for me and exacerbates my pain. I am careful with my diet and there are no exceptions. I have no problems bringing my own meal if necessary, (again with a smile!)

3. If you would like to get together, advance planning for me is key. This gives me time to rest in advance and be at my best, which makes our visit together much more enjoyable!

4. When we see one another, let’s talk about your kids, your job, our families, and life; not my being sick… When I’m out I’d much rather feel as normal as possible! If you have some new medical info you’d like to share, please text or email it to me so I can review it and share it with my doctors!

5. Please, please, please try not to be frustrated if I do need to reschedule or can’t make an event. I can’t predict when I’m going to have a bad day or when I’ll be unexpectedly overtaxed. While I know it’s inconvenient, I would rather be asked and not be able to go as opposed to not asked at all.

6. It is very hard for me to ask for help. (If you are an independent, Type A person, you understand this!) Through necessity, I’ve learned to get better at this, but it is still a struggle for me. If you see I need help, feel free to just jump in – within reason of course! Trust me, I’ll just smile and thank you. Chances are if you ask, I’ll just say no and regret it later…

7. If I get very quiet, it's because I'm flaring and I’m having a hard time speaking. No worries; sometimes my not talking is a good thing for those around me, just ask my family and friends!!

Many thanks again everyone for your past, present and future patience, support and concern. Without being presumptuous, I thank you on behalf of everyone suffering from this and all chronic illnesses, whether they are “invisible” or not. Heather Browne