|Heffentrager's mug shot|
Not just Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. As you know, he's the bull's eye of a federal investigation into political corruption. Six people around him have already entered guilty pleas. Three of those are ex-City employees, including a Controller who had just been re-elected. In such a climate, the last thing Allentown needs is another criminal. Yet Kenneth Heffentrager, a self-proclaimed political activist who attends nearly every City Council meetings and insists on pontificating on every topic ad nauseum, wants a seat behind the dais.
He apparently needs the money.
In my initial assessment of Lehigh County candidates, I devoted just a single sentence to Heffentrager. I wrote, "I can exclude Heffentrager, not for his criminal past, but because he is a demagogue who attempts to monopolize every meeting and is always angry." By my standards, that was relatively benign. But it was too much for Heffentrager, who peppered my blog all weekend with the very kind of rants that just prove that what I was saying is correct. It was also too much for Allentown blogger Michael Molovinsky. "i [sic] don't recall you ever going after a city council candidate with such rancor," he disingenuously wrote, knowing full well that my criticism of Heffentrager was mild in comparison to that of at least 100 other candidates over the years.
On Monday, Molovinsky kicked things up a notch and accused me of "[c]rucifying* grass roots in Allentown." Molovinsky apparently thinks that because Heffentrager has appointed himself some sort of faux voice of the people, he's somehow immune from scrutiny. I completely disagree. Every person seeking office has to expect scrutiny.
Heffentrager is, as Molovinsky himself observed on my blog, a "second tier candidate." But since Heffentrager and Molovinsky have both made such a production of this matter, let me explain in detail why he deserves no place in government.
1) Heffentrager is a criminal. - Heffentrager was initially charged with a drug infraction in Northampton County in 2008. He applied for and was accepted into ARD, a special program for first offenders in which the charges are dismissed after a period of probation. But he was removed from ARD in 2011, which is what happens when a drug user continues using. That year, he was charged with a drug infraction in Lehigh County, to which he pleaded guilty.
2) Heffentrager has no remorse.- I'm all for giving a criminal a second chance, and in some cases, a third chance. Many of society's most productive members have turned their lives around. As Miyamoto Musashi would say, "Fall down seven times, get up eight." Not Heffentrager. He has no remorse, and has thumbed his nose at the fines and costs imposed against him. In Northampton County, Heffentrager has paid just $10 towards $1,145.25 in fines and costs. In Lehigh County, he's only paid $200 towards $802.10 in fines and costs. He's also failed to pay $45 room and board for an evening at Lehigh County's slammer.
3) Heffentrager has no visible means of support. - He is unemployed. A man who comes from a drug culture claims to be living off savings and the sales of antiques. Sure.
4) Heffenrager lacks transparency.- When asked about his employment status, he responded with "[A]re you paying my rent, no I didn't think so and no one else is either." Under the States Ethics Act, all candidates and public officials must disclose all sources of income, direct and indirect, in excess of $1,300. If there are none, they must say so. Heffentrager initially refused to answer what the law specifically requires, and when he later did so, he was evasive and complained.
5) Heffentrager lacks personal responsibility. - Judgments abound, both for his unpaid fines as well as unpaid rent. He's been evicted several times, which likely explains why he has such a hot nut for landlords. He insists those judgments are unjust, just like most deadbeats.
6) He is a demagogue. - Allentown City Council meetings always include a bevy of public speakers like Lou Hershman or Don Ringer who can make their points with a touch of humor and without alienating half of the audience Dennis Pearso is more serious, but is very earnest. Heffentrager has no humor or sincerity and instead sallies forth with bloodshot and glassy eyes to rant on and on about nearly every item in the agenda. I'm all for grass roots activism, but Heffentrager is there to hear himself speak,not because he cares. .
Allentown has enough problems. There's no need to add Heffentrager to the mix.
* His use of the word "crucifying" is a trap. I refuse to take the bait.