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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Trump Excels in Maiden Speech to Congress

In stark contrast to much of his early Presidency, in which he's managed to alienate just about everyone, Donald Trump's maiden speech to Congress last night was surprisingly conciliatory and inclusive. Although there were hints of the bombastic and divisive style he made famous on the campaign trail and Twitter, he actually sounded, dare I say, presidential.

Instead of the fear-mongering he displayed in his Inaugural address, he was upbeat and powerful simultaneously. I'd say it was his best speech ever, and  some of his ideas (like paid family leave) were far more centrist than I expected.

Bringing people from the real world into these speeches has been done by Presidents over the years, but the way he did it was much more touching than I expected. The father of a young athlete who was killed by an illegal immigrant began choking up as Trump spoke gave me a better understanding ofhis anti-immigration policies.

Also, his statement about foreign policy marks a major shift in an understandable way.

"My job is not to represent the world; my job is to represent the United States of America."

If he's actually willing to work with both parties, he can get something done. But is he?

Nazareth Settles Stickergate for $39,000, Adopts Three Major Policy Changes

(The Sticker Gang with their legal Dream Team. From L to R: Dan Logothetis, Attorney Gary Asteak, Trevor Gehret, Attorney Phil Lauer, Jeremy Peters and Attorney Mark Minotti)

The infamous Sticker Gang has settled its civil rights suit against Nazareth. Filed in the United States District Court, the suit was filed last year by Trevor Gehret, Jeremy Peters and Daniel Logothetis. They were represented by prominent civil rights Attorney Joe Welsh, along with Phil Lauer. Nazareth, Police Chief Thomas Trachta, Patrolman Dan Troxell and the entire Borough Council were named as Defendants. The lawsuit sought compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees, for civil rights violations, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault, battery and the intentional infliction of emotional address. In addition, the lawsuit sought injunctive relief for constitutional violations. The case was settled today in exchangew for a flat payment of $39,000 and the adoption of three major policy changes in Nazareth.

This lawsuit is the result of tiny "FT (Fire Trachta)" stickers, which were springing up all over Nazareth nearly two years ago, along with the dandelions.

They were small but everywhere. Mailboxes, telephone poles, benches and even crime prevention signs.

The FTs were someone's way of saying FU to Police Chief Thomas Trachta.

After a major investigation conducted by perhaps the dumbest cop on the planet, Chief Trachta served notice that there will be no free speech in Nazareth, a point that Borough Council has tried to make with me on several occasions.

Not only did Trachta arrest the trio that ultimately became known as The Sticker Gang, but he conducted a staged perp parade in front of a fawning press.

He detained these desperadoes until both papers arrived. Then he paraded them outside, up from the police station to District Judge John Capobianco's courtroom. They were shackled and handcuffed, so the dailies could snap pictures of these evil criminals doing what is called a "perp" walk. The Morning Call video shows Jeremy Peters getting at least one shove by a cop who wants him to move faster.

It was actually more of a parade, along the entire length of the bank building. It was done to publicly humiliate this trio and impress a powerful image of guilt in the mind of the public. People charged with littering were treated as though they had just attempted to assassinate the President.

It was also totally unnecessary. Trachta could have easily escorted them up the stairway from the police station into the courtroom.

Online comments in both newspapers expressed outrage at this abuse of police power. Chief Trachta has been called a megalomaniac, egotistical maniac, Nazi, moron, transplanted clown, Barney Fife and out-of-control.

The Sticker Gang was represented by a legal Dream Team of three of the area's most prominent criminal defense attorneys - Phil Lauer, Gary Asteak and Mark Minotti. When they arrived at the courthouse, they introduced themselves to Trachta and tried to shake his hand. He refused. "That's the first time that ever happened to me," noted a baffled Lauer, who has devoted a career to major criminal cases on the federal and state level and is well-respected by law enforcement.

As the case developed, there was no real evidence that any of the Sticker Gang members had actually done the dirty deed. But there was evidence that, in addition to manufacturing a victim, Trachta and Troxell tried to get the feds involved. Troxell actually testified that he contacted the United States Attorney's Office for the stickers found on mailboxes, bringing some chuckles from the defense team. Postal Inspectors apparently have better things to do.

The Sticker Gang had been facing misdemeanor criminal mischief charges (eight counts each), as well as disorderly conduct, harassment and eight counts of scattering rubbish.

"There's nothing here to support the misdemeanor charge," concluded Judge Jacqueline Taschner. "Nothing." She indicated all the evidence from the Commonwealth showed an expression of political belief, not an intent to damage any property.

She then told Chief Trachta that he, like she, is a public figure who has to expect some criticism.

"Suck it up, cupcake!" she advised.

She also tossed the harassment and disorderly conduct charges for much the same reason. That pesky First Amendment kept getting in the way. Mark Minotti, legal scholar for the Dream Team, furnished the judge with another Superior Court decision finding that a person wearing a "Fuck You" T-shirt inside a courtroom is not disorderly, as a matter of law. He noted that disorderly conduct charges cannot be used as a dragnet for all irritations. It is a statute intended to preserve the public peace.

Troxell made a last-ditch effort to get the judge to at least buy a scattering rubbish charge. But he failed there, too. He said he found some stickers in a Valero gas station parking lot, but conceded to Attorney Lauer that he was unable to say how they got there or whether the Sticker Gang was even responsible.

The settlement of $39,000 includes attorney fees, so monetarily, this is a good deal for Nazareth. But Attorney Joe Welsh told me his clients were more concerned with policy changes that would prevent this from happening again.

The three policy changes can be summarized as follows:

1) Free Speech. - Nazareth police will respect citizens’ rights to free speech, including speech with which an individual police officer disagrees or even finds offensive. Officers will exercise discretion in making arrests that might raise questions of free speech, and when possible, will consult with an online supervisor, the on-duty Assistant District Attorney or borough solicitor.

2) Publicizing arrests. - This will be a function of the departmental head law enforcement executive, in consultation, where necessary, with the Borough Solicitor. Blotter information (name, unit block of residence and charges) regarding all individuals arrested for misdemeanors and felonies will be provided to local media for publication unless doping so would identify a sexual assault or domestic violence victim, or would compromise an investigation or prosecution. In announcing arrests, there will be no personal asides

3) Perp walks. - The practice of parading criminal defendants before a fawning media will stop. While they have the absolute right to film and/or photograph prisoners during transport between facilities, Nazareth is under no obligation to create such opportunities and, as a policy, will refrain from doing so.

Updated 8:55 pm. Trevor Gehret's Statement: "Thank you all who supported #StickerGate. Bernie O'Hare thank you for making this a big deal in Nazareth and brining the real issues to life. This journey is over but let's not forget the importance of #StickerGate our judiciary system (cupcake calling and all) and of course a well structured United States Constitution.

"Thank you to all who stood by us in this journey and believing in our cause our friends, family, loved ones and co-workers. A special thank you to our "Dream Team" of attorneys for their hard work and dedication. Today marks the official end to a long battle. Policies were changed to better Nazareth and push it further in to the future. I will see you all in 2020 as I make a run for POTUS.

"Stay safe, stand up for your rights and never forget #SuckItUpCupcake ."

Glenn Eckhart To Run For LC Exec

Glenn waits for Moe and Larry
Lehigh County Controller Glenn Eckhart will be announcing his candidacy for Lehigh County Executive tonight at Big Woodys' Sports Bar (1841 South 4th At, Allentown Pa 18103). The event runs from 4:30 - 8:30 pm, with pizza and soda on Eckhart.

"Republicans, democrats and independents welcome," he states. "Formal announcement will be at 7 pm. I hope you can share this time with me."

Eckhart is a conservative Republican currently serving his second term as Lehigh County's Controller. In the primary, he will face Lehigh County Comm'r Brad Osborne, who announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination in late January.

I am unaware what w=either candidate plans to accomplish if elected, but will certainly tell you about their platforms as soon as I get them.

According to incumbent Executive Tom Muller, Phillips Armstrong will be seeking the Democratic nod. Armstrong is a Whitehall Commissioner and a retired teacher.

Despite the lure of free food, I will miss Eckhart's announcement to cover a Hanover Township meeting tonight.

Allentown Central Catholic Misses State Tourney in Two-Point Loss

Last night, Pleasant Valley High School hosted the 5A semifinals in District XI boys' basketball. Allentown Allentown Central Catholic faced East Stroudsburg North (ESN) in the 6 pm game, followed by a matchup between Bangor and Pottsville.

I was hoping that Central and Bangor would finally meet on Thursday night in the District Championship,and even had a bet set with a Bangor fan I won't mention. But our bet will have to wait until next year.

They say that the door to a District XI championship is through Pottsville, and the Crimson Tide proved it with a 48-35 victory over the stunned Bangor Slaters.

The battle between Central and  ESN was much closer. Though most high school teams are run 'n gun, this was a defensive battle. Central won the first half by three. But they lost the game to the Timberwolves 41-39, and in the closing seconds. Central's Dat Lambert had the ball with seven seconds left on the clock. He's a three-point shooter. He's a jump-shooter. But he elected to drive for the hole and as he made his way into the paint, tripped and fell. ESN grabbed the ball and tossed it to the opposite side of the court and the buzzer sounded.

The season is over for Bangor and Central, but both ESN and Pottsville have earned a birth in the state tournament. ESN and Pottsville will play Thursday night for 5A Division XI bragging rights.

Tomorrow night, four 6A semifinalists will play at PPL Center in downtown Allentown. The 6 pm game will feature Pocono Mountain West against Emmays. In the 8 pm contest, William Allen will take on Parkland.

As a Central fan, I am sorry to see their season end. But they'll be back next year.

"Life is falling down seven times and getting up eight." - Miyamoto Musashi

Monday, February 27, 2017

Morning Call Report About Allentown Is "Fake News"

Recently, The Morning Call published a story claiming that Allentown ranks #79 of the 100 best places to live. It would probably be more accurate to say that The Morning Call regurgitated a story from U.S. News and World Report. While Allentown may in fact be a very nice place to live,  this is honest-to-goodness "fake news."

Here's why. The Morning Call story is about Allentown the City, yet the U. S. News and World Report ranking is based on statistics for what is known as the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or "metro area," not the city. All of the statistics - population, crime, education, income, etc. - are MSA based. It's a neat little trick to use positive statistics for the entire region, which happens to include Bethlehem, Easton and four counties, one in New Jersey as well as Carbon County. The Morning Call story perpetuates a myth to make Allentown more attractive to investors. Its first obligation should be to the truth, not real estate sales.

Are there six colleges and universities in Allentown? Where? 207 schools in Allentown? Where? This is shoddy reporting. Billy Givens, the original bottom-feeding blogger, liked to call Allentown's newspaper The Morning Call Girl. This story certainly demonstrates that Billy had a legitimate criticism.

Ron Beitler, A Thinking Conservative, Self-Limits Campaign Contributions to $75

Some of you may think that the term "thinking conservative" is an oxymoron, but the Lehigh Valley has a large number of these. Ron Beitler is certainly at their forefront. He's running for re-election a Lower Macungie Commissioner. I disgaree with his Township's refusal to pay for its own police coverage, but find he is one of those rare public servants who is transparent and accountable. His informative blog belies a passion for his community and is itself a public service. At the risk of giving him the kiss of death, I'd vote for him in a heartbeat if I could.

Local campaign finance reform is currently in vogue. Beitler has decided to enact it on himself:    

"I decided to limit donations to 75 dollars or less per person, PAC or entity. I knew this would make raising the 1750-2000 needed to run an informative campaign in our large township more difficult - but, it's the right thing to do. Money in politics and even the perception of money in politics is one of the major problems we have at all levels of government. By self capping the amount of donations we eliminate that perception.

"As soon as I raise the amount I need to fund this campaign - I stop. Note: I don't believe elected officials should carry large campaign balances, you should raise the money for the election in front of you and that's it. If you get elected then you focus on the position you have. Not endless fundraising for another position."

On my blog, he recently posted this interesting comment about Trumpism.

"I'm really glad the theme of actually being or significantly influenced by conservative VALUES/PRINCIPLES vs. being a "click bait anti liberal" is catching on in the conservative press. (As in the actual conservative press not the click bait propaganda machine)

"This is an important distinction as it defines the trump era. Many conservatives disdain trump but held nose and supported him because of SCOTUS or some "lesser of two evils" argument. (Which to his credit trump delivered a shockingly excellent SCOTUS choice in Judge Gorsuch - Now, more so a credit to the conservative judicial watchdog groups that drafted the original lists and Trump sticking to those lists than trumps actual judgment.)

"Folks did this because they stand for something they believe is important. They often are but are not always 'movement conservatives.'

"The 'alt right - click bait - anti left' in contrast really isn't anchored by discernible principles or values at all. It's the trumpian populist movement that trump masterfully cultivated. These folks are mostly driven by a team sports or mob mentality where anything "anti left/anti liberal" be it real or too often completely made up is inherently good. They do what they do (obsessively) out being against something not often enough ever being FOR something.

"The team sports analogy is perfect. So I'm an Eagles fan of the bleed green variety. We pride ourselves in rooting for the team thick or thin. Perfectly appropriate attitude for a sports team. But not for politics. The "click bait anti left" is far too willing to blindly ignore Trumps many many severe flaws. And Trump masterfully gives them fodder to ignore the problems with his "fake news" fantasy. I contend that trump populism actually hurts movement conservatism. Conservatives should be winning hearts and minds with our ideas. Not by engaging in the very same kind of identity politics that the alt left does.

"These are, and will remain.... interesting times. Trump is a bull in a China shop".

Examples of this team sports or mob mentality are now abundant in the comments section of the Molovinsly Tabernacle Choir  People like Scott Armstrong, who I one time thought of as at least a thinker, is a perfect example of Beitler's team sports analogy.

If you'd like to contribute to Ron, checks can be made out and mailed to:
Elect Ron Beiter (must be made out to this specifically)
5540 Lower Macungie Rd.
Macungie, PA

Morganelli Forgets to Punch In

On Thursday, either NorCo HR Director Amy Trapp or her husband posted this comment on my blog about timeclocks.

Is this a serious article? Are you kidding me!? Hourly employees don't want to use a time clock? And there is some rule, law or document somewhere stating that hourly employees don't have to use a time clock? Seems to me that anyone putting in an honest day's work wouldn't have a problem punching in or out. As a taxpayer in Northampton county I'm glad that there will be proof of an employee being at work. These entitled spoiled brat government employees need to get on board. If they don't want to punch a clock at the Northampton county courthouse let them quit and punch a clock elsewhere. Hey, here's an idea. Don't punch the time clock and when there's no money in your account on pay day, bet they'll start punching a time clock! And as for Morganelli maybe he has more important things to be concerned about. And to the person who made the idiotic statement " it is dehumanizing" get a grip! Millions of people punch in and out every day!

That comment was meant to be anonymous, but either Amy or her husband pushed the "Publish" button without thinking. Though the comment was deleted, I get an email notification of every comment posted, so I received it right away. Trapp claimed her husband was the culprit, not her. She refused to apologize for his (or her) slur at the county workforce. She also refused to apologize for the slur at Morganelli.

That evening, Morganelli was contacted by Palmer police concerning a homicide, and worked with officers until late that night. The next day, a Friday, Morganelli was at the courthouse by 8 am. He put in a full day, but joked he forgot to punch in.

He claims that in his younger years, people used to time him with a stopwatch. Now it's a calendar.

Breslin's "Township Observer" Raises Ethical Questions

Pat Breslin
Last week, Save Green Pond attorneys Tom and Charles Elliott filed a motion to disqualify Commissioner Pat Breslin from voting on a Traditions of America retirement community in Bethlehem Township. They introduced evidence that Breslin had said the plan is a "done deal" and had disparaged Save Green Pond. They also introduced evidence that suggests Breslin may have a pecuniary interest in this matter.

Generally speaking, “A member of the board shall not be disqualified from voting on any issue before the board solely because the member has previously expressed an opinion in either an official or unofficial capacity. ” But the law is different when there is evidence that a board member has a pecuniary interest.

The brochure that Breslin gave to witness Randi Jordan includes this notation: "In the News, Green Pond Country Club to Expand, p. 5."

TheTownship Observer website includes a promotional photo for Green Pond Country Club and Banquet Facility.

The website was created by Breslin on November 1, 2016, using a compaid.com email address. It is owned by Township Observer, LLC.

According to the Pa. Corporation Bureau, Township Observer LLC was created on October 7, 2016 and lists an address of 1534 North Ninth Street Stroudsburg PA 18360  That also happens to be the address of Major Hyundai, a well-regarded auto dealer. No one there has heard of Breslin or Township Observer

I have asked Breslin to explain whether he solicited ads from Green Pond or TOA. If he solicited business forma gold and jewelry exchange, it's logical to wonder whether he contacted Green Pond Country Club and Traditions of America. I've also asked him to explain why no one at the Stroudsburg address is aware of him or the Township Observer. It is unknown whether he has received or solicited a financial consideration from Green Pond Country Club for what appears to be promotion of that business on his website. Under the state Ethics Act, elected officials must recuse themselves from matters in which they have a pecuniary interest.

Broughal indicated he would make no ruling on the disqualification motion without first affording the absent Breslin an opportunity to respond to these concerns. This should be interesting.

Congrats to Jeff Braido as Easton's New Football Coach

I first met Easton High School's new football coach as a result of football. Peewee football. Jeff and his wife religiously came to every game in which his nephew Isaiah played. He was at many of the practices, too. I know because his nephew and my grandson were on the same flag football team.

That continued over the years and in other sports, too. Like basketball. I often saw Jeff and his wife at different basketball tournaments, and sometimes sat with him. Though I knew he was an Easton football coach, he was quiet about it. He never attempted to interfere in coaching decisions. He sat quietly in the stands and enjoyed watching the kids play and develop over the years. He cared mostly about the kids, not the score.

On Saturday night, his nephew Isaiah was lit up Pottsville's magnificent Martz Hall with 35 points at Catty advanced in District XI's 3A Boys basketball tournament. Part of the reason for that is Braido's quiet support over the years. I'm sure he was there.

Braido replaces Steve Shiffert, who has come under criticism in recent years. I decline to interject myself in that debate, except to note he won more games than anyone else as Easton's head coach. I am sorry to see him go, but think Braido will give Easton the wins its fans demand and will develop players for college.

Alston Construction Opens LV Location

Alston Construction, a national general contractor with 13 offices around the country, has opened a Lehigh Valley office announces the opening of its new office in Allentown, PA. The new Allentown office is located at 968 Postal Road Suite 200 Allentown, PA 18109.

“The appetite for industrial and commercial buildings continues to grow in the Allentown and Lehigh Valley area,” said Paul D. Little, Alston Construction CEO. “As the largest industrial contractors in the country, being in Allentown was the logical place to help expand our business.”

Tasked with leading the Allentown office of Alston will be construction veteran Robert Murray. Bob has more than 30 years of construction experience. Bob has significant experience in the Leigh Valley, New York and New Jersey markets, constructing some of the largest warehouse projects throughout these areas.

For more than 30 years, Alston has offered its clients a broad platform of general contracting, construction management and design-build services. Alston Construction has a diverse experience profile, including industrial, commercial, office, healthcare, education, retail and government projects. Ex in Allen, the possible establishment of an inland port in South Bethlehem, and NIZ construction in Allentown.

This move coincides with the construction going on at Fed Ex in Allen, the possible establishment of an inland port in South Bethlehem, and NIZ construction in Allentown.

Alston Construction has completed projects ranging from $250,000 to more than $100 million. It is headquartered in Atlanta, GA and has office locations in Sacramento, Seattle, Newport Beach, Reno, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Nashville, Chicago, Park City, Allentown and Edison, NJ. Alston provides its clients with the most qualified staff resources, utilizing state-of-the-art construction delivery processes and systems. To learn more visit www.alstonco.com.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trapp or Her Husband Called NorCo Workers "Entitled Spoiled Brat Government Employees"

Amy Trapp
Yesterday, I told you that DA John Morganelli refuses to allow his staff to punch timeclocks. He learned of the Brown Administration's intentions as maintenance staff knocked a hole in the wall outside his office for these biometric devices. That's a lousy way to communicate. But the Brown administration found an even poorer way to communicate yesterday. It was on this blog, and denigrated the county worker. John Brown claims that county employees are its most valuable resource, but his top staff apparently think otherwise. Most disturbing of all, it's his HR Director.

The chief proponent of timeclocks,  which have cost Northampton County over $30,000 already (I'll haveallthe details Monday), is HR Director Amy Trapp. She had one installed outside her office within weeks of being hired. I think timeclocks are wonderful for what I'd call an encapsulated workforce like the jail, Gracedale or even the Juvenile Justice Center. The staff at those places stay at the facility and only work there. But it's foolish for the county courthouse or the human services workers. Assessors, Deputy Sheriffs, probation officers community and economic development staff and caseworkers and even clerks all have business that require them to work at remote locations. If forced to punch a clock, they would actually cost the county far more money in overtime than the $30,000 it has already flushed down the toilet.

Yesterday, I was told that Amy Trapp insists on installing time clocks and has threatened to hold up the pay for people who refuse to use them. I didn't believe this until I received a comment yesterday afternoon at 5:07 pm.making the same threat. The comment was quickly deleted, but I receive email notifications of all comments posted on my blog, even those that are deleted by the author. This one came from Dan Trapp.

HR Director Amy Trapp's husband is a fellow named Dan Trapp. Now he might have been the poster.But  I know of couples who use only one person's name and I know wives who use their husband's accounts. So this could have been from Amy Trapp using her husband's account. One of them posted a comment, but forgot to do so anonymously. This is what came from "Dan Trapp":
Is this a serious article? Are you kidding me!? Hourly employees don't want to use a time clock? And there is some rule, law or document somewhere stating that hourly employees don't have to use a time clock? Seems to me that anyone putting in an honest day's work wouldn't have a problem punching in or out. As a taxpayer in Northampton county I'm glad that there will be proof of an employee being at work. These entitled spoiled brat government employees need to get on board. If they don't want to punch a clock at the Northampton county courthouse let them quit and punch a clock elsewhere. Hey, here's an idea. Don't punch the time clock and when there's no money in your account on pay day, bet they'll start punching a time clock! And as for Morganelli maybe he has more important things to be concerned about. And to the person who made the idiotic statement " it is dehumanizing" get a grip! Millions of people punch in and out every day!
The comment was quickly deleted when "Dan Trapp" realized that the Trapp name was used. Either Dan Trapp or Amy Trapp, using her husband's account, posted a comment that disparages county employees who oppose timeclocks as "entitled spoiled brat government employees who need to get on board."

I'll tell you about these entitled spoiled brats. Many are single mothers. Many of them work two jobs and even three jobs to make ends meet.

This comment, which comes from the HR Director herself or her husband, is outrageous. It also includes the same threat that had earlier been attributed to Amy Trapp.

I informed Trapp about this comment and she blamed her husband. She said that he posted it. She asked me to remove his name, but incredibly, failed to apologize for what the message said, even after I sent her a verbatim copy. She never said she was sorry for insulting the very people that Executive John Brown has called the county's most valuable asset.

She did apologize to me, but I am not the person she offended.

If John Brown has even an ounce of respect for the county workforce, he should insist that she make a full apology to the entire county workforce. He should also consider asking her to resign.

Allentown Central Catholic Stuns Blue Mountain

The Morning Call's Keith Groller has probably forgotten more about basketball in the past 24 hours than I'll learn in the rest of my life, but I'm delighted to tell you he got this one wrong. He picked the 19-5 Blue Mountain Eagles to win the District XI 5A PIAA boys' basketball championship this year. But last night, they were eliminated by Allentown Central Catholic 51-48 in an exciting game that was only decided in the final second.

Jordan McChristian, who moments before was kicking himself over a foul that allowed the Blue Eagles to tie the game, managed to sink a three-point buzzer beater and give the Vikings a victory.

At first, I thought Groller would be right. Blue Mountain steamrolled over the Vikings with 7 points before anyone knew what was happening, but then Dat Lambert and Jay Vaughan started scoring as teammates provided assists and screens. Chris Ocasio and Kevin Kern did the heavy lifting under the boards, with Keyshawn Kelman (Remember that name!) relieving both of the big guys throughout the night.

Jordan McChristian put it away. 
A stingy Viking defense surprised and confused Blue Mountain, and I thought they tired throughout the night. But in the fourth quarter, they caught their second wind and the lead seesawed back and forth as the clock wound down. Jordan McChristian was tagged with a foul in the closing seconds that enabled Blue Mountain to tie the game.But then he tore down the court and, thanks to a KevinKern assist, scored a three-point buzzer beater to win the game.

Central will face East Stroudsburg North on Monday night, while Bangor will take on Pottsville in the 5A semifinals.

Central Boys wait for the Blue Devils' game to finish

Central Scoring: Dat Lambert - 17 (3 3FGs , 4 FGs, 2 steals, 2 assists), Jay Vaughan - 10 (1 3FG, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3-3 on FTs) Chris Ocasio - 9 (2 FGs and 5-5 FTs); Keyshawn Kelman - 3 FGs, 2-5 FTs, 4 rebounds, 2 steals); Jordan McChristian - 5 ( 1 FG, 1 3FG, 0-2 FTs), Kevin Kern - 2 (1 FG, 0-2 FTs, 6 rebounds)

I received a complaint today from someone I won't mention (Don Ringer) that I need to pay more attention to Allen. I'll be watching them play against Easton on Saturday and will watch Beca play Friday night.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

DA Blasts Timeclocks Planned at NorCo Courthouse

A timeclock is coming soon
Time clocks might be a good idea at NorCo jail or at Gracedale. But John Brown wants to use them countywide, including at the courthouse and at the Human Services building. HR Director Amy Trapp has argued that they will reduce paperwork, save time and even be beneficial for employees in the long run. But employees resent them. They find the practice degrading, and feel that being compelled to supply their fingerprint for a biometric device is in an infringement of their privacy.  Now an administration that has unilaterally reduces the medical benefits of employees doesn't really care what they think. But it should care what DA John Morganelli thinks, especially since he's sued the Executive and won over the issue of who runs his office.

On Friday morning, when Morganelli was returning to his office from court, he noticed some of the County's maintenance team banging away part of the wall outside and stringing in blue wires.

"What's that for?"

"Timeclocks. They're going everywhere."

And they are.Blue wires are dangling from walls all over the place.

No one had bothered discussing this with the DA, so he fired off an email on Friday morning at 10:49 am, addressed to Amy Trapp and John Brown.

Amy and John

As we speak there are workmen outside my office putting up a time clock. I made it absolutely clear that my employees will not be subject to ANY timeclock as long as I am DA. The Home Rule Charter specifically gives ME as DA EXCLUSIVE control over my employees. This is a waste of money and I am not going to decrease morale and efficiency in my office with this.

I think you should stop work here immediately. I will not have my people do this. Period. JM

Morganelli heard nothing Friday, Monday or Tuesday.

You see, they don't have to worry about time clocks.They're management.

Finally on Tuesday night, at 10:46 pm, Morganelli got this response from Trapp.

Good evening John,

I apologize for the delay. I was off for my daughter’s birthday and I am trying to catch up on my messages.

I also would like to apologize for the lack of communication. I was not aware there was a mass installation of time clocks, but I am very excited to hear that they are all going in. I would very much like to sit and talk to you about this.

Your ADAs and Detectives would never need to punch. However, anyone else subject to overtime under FLSA regulations should be as it will create a great number of efficiencies. Much like the [redacted] of the world we have discussed before, this holds everyone equally accountable and provides the most accurate information. I know how important that is to you as the District Attorney. No one can argue with facts.

Please let me know when you have time to discuss this week or next week and I would be happy to meet. I look forward to talking with you.

Does she get three days off for her daughter's birthday?

Oh that's right, she doesn't have to worry about a timeclock. She's management. And she wants him to know that he and his assistants and detectives are special, too, and would never need to punch. Only the lowly clerks, who are already shackled with low wages. Let them get stressed about being to work on time.

Morganelli had a meeting with police in Bethlehem on Wednesday morning, so he was unable to get to the courthouse until 10 am. As he parked his car, Administrator Cathy Allen was just pulling in herself.

She punches no timeclock, either. She's management.

This high school grad told Morganelli that federal regulations now require timeclocks. Morganelli checked. They don't. In fact, the Code of Federal Regulations specifically states, "Time clocks are not required."

Morganelli fired off this email to Trapp.


There is no need to discuss this. I am not doing it. Period. Unless the Supreme Court of Pa or the US Supreme orders me to do it, it will not happen. I am in charge of of my employees, not you or the County Administration. As far as I know, there is no legal requirement under FLSA or anywhere else that requires us to use time clocks at this time. I have no problem with my employees. When I did, it was addressed. I am not fixing something here that is not broken. We are the most efficient office in the county-- we do a big job with little staff. Morale is good here. People wanting to get into our office all the time. I am not suffocating morale. I am not meeting to discuss something I am not considering at all. JM

Morganelli refuses to practice the classism that seems to be in vogue among those who parade around on hoverboards and call themselves management.

He later told me that timeclocks would only breed resentment among his staff and create and "Us v. Them" mentality.

The notion is simply unworkable. If assessors are supposed to punch in and out, the county is going to lose productivity from staff who will need more time to hit outlying areas. Deputy sheriffs on hospital or court details will end up charging more overtime. Caseworkers in human services will become less productive because it will take them more time to meet with clients, and these include families with children who are being neglected or abused.

I can guarantee the judges will refuse to have their staff use timeclocks, so we will have uneven use all over the county. This just breeds resentment instead of stopping it.

This is a foolish idea and should be scrapped. It is, as Morganelli stated, a solution to a nonexistent problem.

"Save Green Pond" Lawyers Claim Absent Comm'r Biased

Breslin told Penn Farms' Anthony Orefice
that TOA Plan is"done deal" months before
Planning Commission Review
Last night was the first of what will likely be several public hearings seeking tentative plan approval for a retirement community adjacent to environmentally sensitive wetlands known as Green Pond Marsh. Things got a little more tentative last night. Testimony revealed that Commissioner Pat Breslin had told a neighboring homeowners' association that the matter was a "done deal."  Though over 50 people attended last night's three-hour hearing, Breslin himself was absent. Earlier in the week, he had drawn the ire of residents and Commissioners alike for a recent radio interview replete with what Commissioner Mike Hudak suggested were "alternative facts."

Green Pond Marsh is the home of 182 different bird species. They first caught the attention of businessman and environmentalist Jeff Acopian many years ago. He was driving in the area and noticed what he thought were numerous ribbons of white plastic. As he got closer, he realized they were actually snow geese, and they took off and surrounded his car briefly in a sea of white. "I've never seen anything like it," said a man whose interest in the environment has taken him as far away as Kenya.  He and Jack Glagola, a planner and architect who lives next to the marsh, co-founded Save Green Pond after becoming aware of plans to develop the site. Their group boasts about 200 members, including 38 township residents. The entire area around Green Pond Marsh has been Audubon-designated as an "Important Bird Area."

Brooke Kuronya passed out watercolors
of birds documented at Green Pond Marsh
at previous meeting..   
The marsh is owned by Green Pond Country Club. Most of their stockholders have no local ties and want a return on their investment. If unable to develop a golf course community, they have threatened to sell everything, including the golf course, for residential development. But if Traditions of America (TOA) can develop an age-restricted golf course community next to the marsh, the remaining land can never be developed, even if the golf course itself is eventually abandoned.

Reacting to concerns raised at numerous meetings, TOA has reduced the density of the development while increasing the amount of open space as well as buffering the wetlands area. The number of homes went down from the original 261 to 229. Open space has been increased from 22 to 29 acres, with 18 of those acres as true open space, independent of any storm water management. Buffering of at least 50' will surround the wetlands. The closest any home will be to the wetlands in 309.'

In November, the Planning Commission recommended "tentative" approval of the plan, although the Commissioners have the final say. In accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code, they must first conduct a public hearing and make specific findings leading to the general conclusion that tentative approval is "in the public interest." Even then, no plan may be recorded and no building permits may be issued until final approval is granted.

Bird watchers at Green Pond Marsh
TOA was ready to start their case last night. They had numerous bound copies of exhibits for each Commissioner, along with reams of rolled up maps. They also brought in well-regarded zoning attorney Marc Kaplin from Blue Bell, although his abrasive style seemed out of place in a township setting. He objected to nearly everything, including the identification of "affected parties" who are able to cross-examine and call witnesses. An increasingly exasperated Township Solicitor Jim Broughal  finally told Kaplin, "Unless you live in Alaska or Florida, you're probably an affected party."

Eight affected parties were identified. These include Jack Glagola and Jeff Acopian, the co-founders of Save Green Pond, as well as Save Green Pond itself      

Randi Jordan testified that Breslin laughed at
watercolor drawings of "fake birds."
After that, Save Green Pond attorneys Tom and Charles Elliott, who themselves are noted environmental lawyers, filed a motion to disqualify Commissioner Pat Breslin from participating because he is biased. Kaplin strenuously objected, claiming he had no advance notice. But Broughal responded that it was only moments before that Save Green Pond had been identified as an "affected party."

The Elliotts called three witnesses to support the claim of bias. Two of these included Anthony Orefice, Property Manager at Penn Farms Condominiums, and Board President Bill Walczak, Penn Farms Board President. They had were opposed to the use of their detention basin to handle some of the stormwaters from the TOA,and had written to Planning Director Nathan Jones about it on August 16, 2016. Not long after that, Orefice got a call from Breslin, who identified himself as the president of the Board of Commissioners. Breslin told Orefice that the TOA plan was a "done deal," even though it did not even have a Planning Commission recommendation at that stage. He also offered to accept a dedication of the detention basin, and said the Township was "financially strapped."

Green Pond Promo Appears on
Breslin's Township Observer webpage 
A third witness, Randi Jordan,was even more troubling. She testified that just a week ago, when she went to work at a local jewelry outlet, Breslin was there with a brochure for a publication called The Township Observer, in which the word Bethlehem was misspelled. This brochure identifies Breslin as the publisher and he was selling ads. The brochure represented that the publication has a circulation of 8,000. While there, Breslin belittled citizens, including a little girl, who came to previous hearings with paintings of each of the 182 bird species at Green Pond Marsh. He called the drawings "fake birds." Breslin told Jordan that the Township had to approve the plans or face a lawsuit, and complained that it was "ridiculous" that TOA opponents "had actually hired attorneys to represent them. When Jordan expressed concern about increased traffic, Breslin told her that residents there "tend not to drive."

In addition to Jordan's testimony, the Township Observer website appears to include an ad for Green Pond Country Club and banquet Facility and the brochure contains this notation: "In the News, Green Pond Country Club to Expand, p. 5."

Breslin was absent and therefore it is unknown whether he has received a financial consideration from Green Pond Country Club for what appears to be promotion of that business on his website. Under the state Ethics Act, elected officials must recuse themselves from matters in which they have a pecuniary interest.

Broughal indicated he would make no ruling on the disqualification motion without first affording the absent Breslin an opportunity to respond to these concerns.

In three hours, no substantive testimony was heard. Laura Eberle, P.E., did qualify as an expert for TOA,and when testimony resumes in a week, she's on deck.

Boys Basketball: District XI Playoffs Start Tonight

Tonight, after what seems like an eternity, the PIAA District XI playoffs finally get under way. The kids at Allentown Central Catholic made this poster for my grandson Dat, and he loves it.

Allentown Central Catholic, seeded at #7, had to crawl its way into the playoffs this year, but I am predicting right now that they will upset #2 seed Blue Mountain tonight at magnificent Martz Hall in Pottsville.(7 pm) They came together at the end of the season and had some clutch wins against Becahi and Whitehall in he final two weeks.

There will be two other 5A games tonight.

Pottsville, always a threat, will face Southern Lehigh at Blue Mountain. (7 pm)

Mikey Esquilin and the Whitehall Zephyrs will say Hi to East Stroudsburg North at Allen gym. (7:30 pm).

The #1 seed Bangor, gets a bye. My second prediction is that if they eventually face either Central or Whitehall, it will be bye-bye.

The 1A is playing, too.

Notre Dame East Stroudsburg faces  Tri-Valley at Minersville (7 pm)

Salem Christian will take on Susquehanna Community at Allen (6 pm)

Top-seeded Lincoln Leadership gets a bye.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Allentown's Former DCED Director Claims Fed Ed Corrupt

Betsy Morris Levin is an 18-year veteran of the City of Allentown who resigned as Director of Community and Economic Development in 2007. She considered that her "dream job." Prior to that, she ran the Burau of Recycling and Solid Waste. Ten years after her resignation, she's finally speaking out on Facebook Facebook about what she calls "corruption and beginning of a "reign of terror" instigated by Fed Ed and his Managing Director, Fran Dougherty. I reached out to her today, but have yet to establish contact. I am told that FBI, which also reads Facebook, has contacted her, but have been unable to confirm that with her. Here's what she has to say on her Facebook page. her observations may be beyond the Statute of Limitations, even for RICO.    

February 2: "Do we really want to re-elect ed??? Did he make Allentown great again?? In my opinion, he has not. I have decided to start telling anyone who wants to listen that in my opinion ed is a terrible mayor. I intend to explain why I have this opinion in future posts. I worked as the Director of Community and Economic Development from July 2006 until I resigned in disgust in June 2007. I saw corruption and the beginnings of the reign of terror that has decimated the ranks of Allentown city government. That is why I quit despite being in my "dream job". So please people vote for anyone but ed in the primary."

Yes I personally witnessed corruption that was ordered by ed. That and other things drove me to resign before I was a party to the corruption reign of terror. and He and Fran Dougherty had a hit list of all the bureau managers in the department of community and economic development. I began working for the City in 1989. At that point, Allentown was run by professionals. I worked for 3 mayors before ed. They respected the department heads and bureau managers. Not ed. In my opinion ed brought Chicago style corruption and Fran Dougherty brought Philly money and corruption to Allentown. They fired Eric Weiss the head of Building Standards in February 2007 because he would not bend the rules for their developer friends. That was one of the last straws for me!! Eric Weiss was the consummate housing professional. Since Eric left ed has decimated the city's housing programs. The percentage of rental housing has increased dramatically under ed and enforcement has declined. I think ed will eventually be indicted but maybe not before the democratic primary in Allentown which ed could win. That is why I am finally speaking out. I feel that four terms of a corrupt and hitleresque regime is enough Ralph.

February 5: About 10 years ago I saw Fran [Dougherty] tell a building inspector to lay off of a certain developer who owned a building with multicolored window frames at Jordan and Tilghman Streets. I was new in the job as director of community development after 17 years running the bureau of recycling and solid waste. Ed and Fran were trying to get me to fire Eric Weiss who ran the bureau of building standards and reported to me. Eric is an honest, knowledgeable and dedicated housing professional. Being new in the job, I asked the inspectors who were trying to do their jobs, to take me to the building. It was like going to a third world country. Or back to 1865 in the US before laws were passed to protect us from greedy capitalists. OMG I saw families living in the building with small children!!! They were working with chemicals and blow torches making who knows what?? There were sheets hung for privacy for the families living there. They were cooking over propane rice cookers. Buckets instead of bathrooms, no sprinklers, multiple violations. An appalling and shocking sight. I should have taken photos. Back in city hall one of the inspectors said to Fran, after being told not to file the citations, "I don't work for you Mr Dougherty I work for the state." Apparently the building inspectors are professionals with state licenses. Eric was finally fired by ed and Fran in February 2007. They told him they were taking the bureau in a different direction!!!! Yes they have!! I started writing resignation letters and filing them away. I was in my dream job. Kids in college. I needed and loved my job. I resigned without another job in hand in June 2007. I have kept quiet for 10 years. Not anymore. I feel that we who care about Allentown can't wait for the FBI to indict ed before the democratic primary in May. I feel that 12 years of this regime is enough. And so do many former city employees!!! Just ask one. Have a great day!! Go team. I am putting my soap box away. For now.

Mazziotti on Lehigh County Tax Cuts

Tom Muller
Lehigh County Exec Tom Muller surprised me last week when he announced he had decided against standing for re-election. In doing so, he still took a few shots at the Republican-controlled Board of Commissioners. He accused them of providing  "'Happy Meal' tax cuts on the taxpayer's credit card." ...  "[I]t was on the taxpayer's credit card because we had a budget deficit each time." Vic Mazziotti, a former Commissioner who was a superb Fiscal Administrator in Northampton County, supported these tax cuts. He denies strongly that these tax cuts are on the taxpayer's credit card. He instead argues that Republicans simply took a more realistic view of government finances than Muller. The proof is in Lehigh County's financial statements.

The most recent financial statement online is for 2015. What it shows, on page 15, is that after three years of cumulative tax cuts, the fund balance grew from $3.6 million. That's a surplus.

If Tom Muller were correct and Republicans were financing a tax cut on the taxpayer's credit card, there would be a deficit.

Vic Mazziotti
According to Vic, it is important to look at both the budget and financial statements when reviewing government finances. That's because government never spends all the money it budgets. This conservative spending often creates a surplus even when the budget itself contains a structural deficit.

So is Muller a liar? No. The result of the tax decrease did create a structural deficit in the budget. But the reality is that there was a surplus, thanks to conservative spending. .

This confusion over what is budgeted and how funds are actually spent is what led NorCo Fiscal Affairs Director Jim Hunter to make some dire predictions during John Brown's first year as Executive. He thought the County would finish with just $1 million. This scared NorCo Republicans, who are a little less astute than Lehigh Republicans, into seeking a one mill tax hike. At the time, I certainly thought they were right.

Lamont McClure and his fellow Democrats were opposed because they understood that a county never spends what it budgets. In the end,the county finished that year with $28 million in its general fund.

Brown, like any County Executive, claimed it was a result of his fiscal stewardship. It's really because no county comes close to spending what it budgets.

I'd try to explain this in more detail, but I'm a Democrat and my head already exploded three times.

NorCo GOP Has County Council Slate, Dems Working On It

On Saturday, at the Bluein BethlehemTownship, Northampton County's GOP hosted its annual Lincoln Day breakfast for about 200 people.The featured speaker was Scott Wagner, who is running for Governor. Lincoln himself believed in malice towards none and charity for all, and this breakfast has traditionally included Democrats. But not this time. According to party boss Lee Snover, the event sold out early, so Democrats were barred. Even magisterial candidate Vivian Zumas, whose uncle owns the restaurant, was turned away. .

It appears NorCo Council has its slate of five GOP candidates. Glenn Geissinger, who spent half of last year running for Congress, thinks he's a shoe-in. Seth Vaughn, known mostly for absences that included the Budget hearing in which Council members proposed their own amendments, is running. He told me that in December and said he'd win, too, because "Nobody cares" that he missed Council's most important meeting of the year. Peg Ferraro (not pictured above) and Hayden Phillips are also seeking another four years. Though he's said nothing publicly, Ron Angle stood with the Council candidates and is circulating.

During this breakfast, Snover presented awards to worker bees who helped ensure that NorCo voted for Trump. This includes West Easton's Tricia Mezzacappa. She may be an adjudicated defamer with summary convictions for harassing West Easton officials. She apparently is a tireless worker.

On Monday and Tuesday nights, Republicans had well-attended petition-signing parties. They are pumped up

Democrats, whom I would expect to be energized in opposition to a so-called President who lies several times daily, are having a rough time finding five candidates.Peter Melan, Ron Heckman, Lori Vargo Heffner and an unknown named Tara Zrinsky are reportedly circulating. but the county party has no bench and is apparently having a hard time. finding a fifth candidate. Some suggest that party boss Matt Munsey circulate his own petition, hoping he can eventually recruit someone and step aside.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Endorsements? Fed Ed Needs No Steekin' Endorsements

In his latest epistle to his disciples, Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski claims he needs no steenkin' endorsements because he delivers results. Hopefully, we'll be seeing some more of those results soon.  

911 Consolidation Between Bethlehem and NorCo Raises Concerns

Northampton County's 911 dispatchers fielded 97,000 emergency calls last year, 67% of which were from cell phones. There were even 161 emergency text messages. There were also 296,000 non-emergency calls. Bethlehem fielded about 40,000 emergency and 50,000 nonemergency calls, and dispatchers were able to use remote cameras to assist officers responding to crime or other emergencies in real time. What happens to those cameras when the County and City combine their 911 centers, as mandated by the state? That is just one concern raised by NorCo Council member Ken Kraft at Council's February 16 meeting.

Neither Northampton County nor Bethlehem has any say in this matter. This is a state mandate under a law enacted in 2015, increasing the fee charged for 911 services. Under this law, consolidation must be substantially completed by June 30, 2019.

Todd Weaver and Bob Novatnack, newly minted EMS Directors in NorCo and Bethlehem, said they have been meeting monthly to navigate this transition. Weaver estimated that this consolidation will require between 10 and 18 new dispatchers, each of whom takes a year to fully train. Novatnack added that Bethlehem currently has 22 FT and four PT 911 operators. They both acknowledged there are Human Resource issues.

The state has provided $8.1 million to facilitate this coordination. This money is being used to purchase new communication centers in Bethlehem, Allentown and in both counties. They will be connected to each other, so that if one goes down, the other can act as a back-up.

Kraft, who represents Bethlehem on Northampton County Council, wanted to know whether the consolidated dispatchers will still have the same camera access as they currently have in Bethlehem, which enables them to assist police officers in finding fleeing suspects.

Weaver and Novatnack danced around the question. Weaver said that monitoring cameras is a "law enforcement activity," while Novatnack suggested that operators in Bethlehem will still man the cameras. .

"It just seems like it's not going to go as smooth as it sounds," worried Ken Kraft Weaver said there will be "bumps in the road."

"I hope the County doesn't drop the ball," said Kraft.

Hayden Phillips warned that this consolidation is just the first step. He said there are reports that the state's ultimate plan is to have one regional communications center for the entire Lehigh Valley.

Breslin Slammed Over "Alternative Facts" in Radio Interview

Breslin does not like the attention
Pat Breslin, serving in his final year as a Bethlehem Township Commissioner, rarely speaks during Commissioner meetings. But he gave WAEB-AM790 radio host Bobby Gunther Walsh an earful during a recent interview about Township finances. He portrayed himself as a fiscal watchdog concerned that the "train is off the track."  He warned that a tax increase is inevitable next year, meaning that the Township will have raised taxes in two of the past three years. He lamented that "I'm only one person," and called on the public to join him at the next Commissioners' meeting and help him "streamline" local government. That meeting was last night. About five members of the public were there The one resident who spoke about Breslin's radio remarks took him, and not the Township, to task. So did Breslin's fellow board members

Taxes.- Breslin's chief complaint is increasing taxes. He noted that in his first year as a Commissioner, the Board depleted its rainy day fund, resulting in what eventually tuned out to be a 17% tax hike the next year. Though no taxes were raised in this year's budget, he "can almost guarantee a tax hike next year." He ripped the Township for its borrowing, but neglected to say that he is one of the Commissioners who voted for a $10 million line of credit on April 7, 2014.

Community Center. - He also complained about $1.5 million in repairs needed at the 11-year old community center, saying that the "government shouldn't be in the gym business." He never said that during a Township meeting. He failed to mention that, on July 18, 2016 he was one of three Commissioners who voted to hire an architectural and engineering firm for these repairs. He also failed to state that, on September 19, 2016, he was part of an unanimous decision to seek a construction manager. He complained about a $725,000 note owed on the community center construction, but was unable to some up with a single suggestion about how to do better.

Housenick Park.- He lashed out at Housenick Park, which he mistakenly called "Housenick Mansion." He called it a "money pit" and a "waste of taxpayer money," adding  that only five percent of the township even know it exists. He slammed a trail at the park "that nobody uses." He told Bobby Gunther Walsh that he voted against the trail grant, but on March 2, 2015, he was part of an unanimous vote in support of a $471,000 contract to NIMARIS Construction to complete the trails and build a driveway and parking lot. The funding for this came from a DCNR grant, matched by funds from the Housenick Park Trust.

Township Engineer.- He complained about the Township Engineer, noting that the Township has failed to issue an RFP (Request for Proposals) within the last eight years. But he was unable to tell Bobby Gunther Walsh what an RFP actually is.

"They run roughshod over us." .

"Who's they?

"Our Township engineer,. Their bills. They gouge us."

Breslin neglected to say that, in his three years as a Commissioner, he has been one of those unanimously voting to approve the Township engineer about whom he complained.

Bill Agenda - Complaining about the Township's "$18 million budget" (it's actually $19.6 million), Breslin next turned his attention to the bill agenda, an assortment of bills that the Township Commissioners approve each month. "[I]f it was my job, I'd go through it every month and I could probably save 5-10% just negotiating, getting people to sharpen their pencils more." Well, that is his job. Some Commissioners occasionally do have questions about items on the bill agenda. Mike Hudak, Malissa Davis, Tom Nolan and Kim Jenkins have each questioned specific charges, and so do the Township residents. But Breslin has never once uttered a word about the bill agenda in any meeting.

Streamlining. - Breslin also stated that he wanted to "streamline" Township government. When pressed by Bobby Gunther Walsh, he indicated he'd eliminate departments and staff. .

Since Breslin will be unable to inflict his brand of stupidity on Bethlehem Township much longer, I had decided against writing about this radio interview, littered as it is with misinformation. But since it was discussed during the meeting, it's news.

Citizen Reaction. - Barry Roth, a citizen who does a lot of complaining himself, has the personal integrity to do so at open meetings, where township officials can tell him when he is wrong and when he is right. He noted that Housenick Park is no "money pit," but has been self-contained. Money for its maintenance has come from a trust managed by luminaries like Judge Stephen Baratta, as well as grants from DCNR. "Please,do a little more research next time," he suggested to Breslin. "Personally, I felt that we just looked like a bunch of fools."

Commissioner Reaction. - Tom Nolan made clear he was "disappointed" by Breslin's remarks,and thought they were deceptive. He was particularly irked at Breslin's suggestion about eliminating township jobs, saying that sent a "totally wrong message to township staff." Malissa Davis noted that "we did not borrow more money for the last budget." Mike Hudak, who is now President of the Board and is doing an effective job at running meetings, told colleagues that "[w]e're all certainly entitled to our opinions" But he added, "We need to check the facts and not facts that are alternative facts."

Blogger Reaction. - Breslin was on a conservative radio show so he could represent himself as a conservative firebrand for whatever office he is seeking next. Some say he's running against Steve Samuelson. Others say he has his eyes on Congress. But he fed Bobby Gunther Walsh nothing but bullshit burgers.  I am astonished that he spent so much time complaining about things completely within his control as a Commissioner. It is his job to review the bill agenda, something he's never done. If he wanted to seek an RFP for an engineer, he could have opened his mouth and said something. Instead, he voted three times to retain the very engineering firm about which he now complains. His claim that he voted against the Housenick grant is simply untrue. He also voted both for the engineer and construction manager for the community center repairs. With no comment, he voted for a $10 million line of credit. He misrepresented himself. He was deceptive. And, as Hudak so aptly observed, he delivered "alternative facts" in the hope that it plays well to conservative listeners, most of  whom will unfortunately never read the truth.

When Breslin was unable to tell Bobby Gunther Walsh what an RFP is, that should have given him away as what he is  - a fraud.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fearmonger in Chief Warns Us About ... Sweden

Yesterday, the Fearmonger-in-Chief warned that immigrants did something terrible in Sweden on Friday night. It was complete bullshit, the very kind of "fake news" that he decries. His lie was meant to scare people. Be very afraid, says this totally ignorant demagogue.

Anyhoo, Sweden's Aftonbladet came clean and told us all the terrible things that happened there on Friday night:
3:24 PM (local time): A man set himself on fire at Sergels torg, a plaza in central Stockholm. He was taken to the hospital with severe burns. There is so far no information on his motives but the intelligence service is not part of the investigation.
6:42 PM: The famous singer Owe Thörnqvist had some technical problems during rehearsal for the singing competition ”Melodifestivalen”. (However, the 87 year old singer still managed to secure the victory the very next day.)
8:23 PM: A man died in hospital, after an accident in the workplace earlier that day in the city of Borås.
8:46 PM: Due to harsh weather in the northern parts of Sweden the road E10 was closed between Katterjåkk and Riksgränsen. Due to strong winds and snow in the region the Met office also issued an avalanche warning.
12:17 AM: Police officers initiated a chase for a fleeing Peugeot through central parts of the Swedish capital of Stockholm. The pursuit ended in police officers ramming the suspect at Engelbrektsgatan. The driver is now accused of driving under the influence, traffic violation and car theft.
Trump later tweeted that his lie was based on something he saw on Fix News. Locally, The Molovinsky Tabernacle Choir warns that Trump critics are obstructionists. I have another word to describe people who stand up to authoritarians - patriots.

EPC 'Ship: Wm Allen High School Is Unconscious

The word "unconscious" has been used in basketball since at least 2007, according to Urban Dictionary.   But I never heard it until last month, when Parkland's Sam Iorio scored 17,000 points against Central Catholic. "He was unconscious," I heard ballers say. I began hearing it again when Nazareth's Kevin Wagner scored 41 points in an otherwise fairly close victory over Northampton. "The kid's unconscious," I 'd hear. On Friday night, at Freedom High School, I watched William Allen Boys Basketball team systematically destroy a very good team from Becahi, 84-52. As I saw Alan Jennings leave the gym, he told me, "They were unconscious." Then, when I bumped into Allentown City Council Prez Ray O'Connell, "They were unconscious" was his assessment, too. .

Though Becahi has offered me money to say I graduated from Liberty, I'm a Beca grad and was there to root for my team. But I really have to salute William Allen on their victory.  This was about more than basketball to them. Their pride was on the line because the only team to beat them this year was Becahi.

The place went wild long before the game started. That's because the undercard was a girls' championship clash in which Beca came out on top of Easton in a game that could have gone either way.

I had arrived early and got myself a good seat near center court. Then some prick in crutches came and puked as he made his way up the steps. He just kept going, too. A woman called Chief Dan Pancoast over. He looked at it and then he called over some poor custodian. That guy looked at it, too. It just stayed there 'till the end of the game, sending aromas my way every few minutes.

Ordinarily, I'd move. But the game was so exciting I refused. In fact, kids from Whitehall sat beside me and told me they they would keep their eye on the old fart who hurled.  An Emmaus mom was right behind me and she refused to move, too. That was fine with me because she would have absorbed most of the next episode, which thankfully never came.

Then she would have been unconscious.   .

Racine Invites, Then Disinvites Fed Ed

On February 17, Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski's publicly paid propagandist issued a news release proudly announcing that ha had been invited to Racine, Wisconsin. That city is considering building its own arena and hotel, and Fed Ed was going to share his pearls of wisdom. Thanks to their local newspaper, the Journal Times, he's been disinvited as fast as a judge's tipstaff can say, "All rise."

That newspaper did what some newspapers still do. It checked and learned that not only is Fed Ed himself under investigation for political corruption but six people around him have already enter guilty pleas to little things like bribery, lying to the FBI and bid-rigging. Three of those involved were city employees. One was his former campaign manager, who was also a business "consultant" to those who wanted to do business in Allentown.

“When you talk about a person who’s credible, in his case, he’s incredible,” Hendricks told the Journal Times. “He’s one of the least transparent, open and honest politicians I’ve ever met.”

“The investigation has been going on for almost two years and there’s been no charges filed against me,” Fed Ed told the Wisconsin paper. “I’m running for my fourth term as mayor and we’re getting good response.”

After that story broke, Racine Mayor John Dickert pulled the plug on Pawlowski's trip. “It was very disheartening how quickly the purpose of (Mayor Pawlowski's) visit and presentation turned into political mudslinging," he said in a dig at what he called the "hometown" paper. The integrity and economic benefit of this project is too important to allow it to be politicized.”

Rickert obviously failed to look into Fed Ed before inviting him. Given this lack of due diligence on his part, I question what effort he's really put into an arena project.

And that'snot political.

Some Thoughts on Presidents' Day

Forensic reconstruction of what Washington
really looked like as a young man
Today is Presidents' Day. Our two greatest Presidents (Lincoln and Washington) were born in February.

George Washington is the only man ever unanimously elected as President, and that happened twice. He was also unanimously elected as Commander-in Chief of the Continental Army and as President of the Constitutional Convention. On his last day in office, he told his secretary that "although we may be a little wrong now and then, we shall return to the right path with more avidity." That's pretty much sums up this nation's history

The dollar bill portrait of Washington in his waning years, painted after he had finally lost all of his teeth and was trying a new set of dentures, is a disgrace. Here are some little known facts.
  • He never wore a powdered wig, but tied his red hair behind him in what was then the military style. He did pomade his hair. 
  • He was a man of action,often leading from the front, even during the Revolutionary War. During the disastrous defeat at Fort Necessity, four bullets went through Washington's coat and two horses were shot out from under him, but he emerged unscathed. An Indian Chief who had fought against him later said that he had directed his warriors to fire right at him, but no one could hit him. At Princeton, Washington rallied Americans soldiers in flight from Hessians with drawn bayonets and fought alongside them to hold a bridge.
  • Called the Father of his Country, he had no children of his own. Though he loved to flirt with the ladies, he adored his wife and was never happy unless she was with him. 
  • He is also known in some circles as the Father of the American Mule. He developed the breed at Mount Vernon. 
  • He was considered the greatest horseman of his age.
  • Despite his land holdings, he was very often cash poor. He had to borrow money to travel from Mount Vernon after being elected President. He had to sell land in western Pa. to afford the move back to Mount Vernon.  
  • Though personally stung by partisan attacks in newspapers, Washington continued to defend the free press. His thin-skinned successor, John Adams, had critical editors arrested and jailed. But Washington understood the need for a free press, saying that without it, "dumb and silent may we be led, like sheep to the slaughter.".
  • When he surrendered his commission at the end of the Revolutionary War, King George called him "the greatest man in the world."
  • A slave owner, he refused to break up families or buy slaves, although he has been fairly criticized for failing to do enough to eradicate our original sin. In his Will, he set his slaves free and made monetary provisions for each family. This was an example to his fellow Virginians, but they failed to take the hint.
In contrast to Washington, Lincoln was actually uglier than portrayed. His election was far from unanimous. He only won a plurality of the vote. In the Lehigh Valley, Northampton County went with Stephen Douglas. Lehigh County voted for Lincoln.

As we learn in Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, most of  Lincoln's cabinet considered his election a colossal mistake. Some of them, like Secretary of War Stanton, snubbed him as a lawyer many years before, laughing at his tattered clothing. They called him an ape, a gorilla.

Even as President, Lincoln was snubbed. He once paid a late-night visit to General George McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac, to discuss strategy. McClellan was out, so Lincoln waited, stovepipe hat in hand. When McClellan returned home, Lincoln waited another half hour until a porter came to tell him that the General had retired for the evening.

He was used to being snubbed. His was a life of hardship, what he himself would call the "short and simple annals of the poor." In his youth, he lost his mother and sister to illness. As a young man, his first love died as a result of illness as well, nearly driving him to suicide. And as a father, he saw two sons die.

People like Stanton grew to respect and eventually admire the man he once abused. Lincoln was just the man our fractured country needed. He started his second term with these words. "With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the Nation's wounds." Instead of preaching fear, his was a message of conciliation and compassion, even for his former enemies.  When he was cut down by an assassin, the very same Stanton who once derided Lincoln announced, "Now he belongs to the ages."

I could use this occasion to dump all over Donald Trump and point out how inadequate he is by comparisons. But so are most of us.