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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Allentown Firefighters Still Besieged by Equipment Breakdowns

Second time in two days. Fourth time in a month. Rescue Engine 9 is back in a pickup truck again tonight. This is absolutely a Crisis. Call the Mayor tell him the Fire Department needs more than one new engine to fix this Crisis. They need a commitment for another engine ASAP and a true Replacement Plan going forward.
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Disgraced Reading Council Prez Seeks Sentence Reduction

Francis Acosta, the Reading City Council President who was the first public official to plead guilty to federal political corruption charges in an investigation embracing both Reading and Allentown, wants his sentence reduced to time served. Acosta was sentenced in February 2016 by US District Judge Juan R. Sánchez to two years in prison as a result of his participation in an $1,800 bribery scheme.

“He abused the trust of the people of Reading," Judge Sánchez said when sentence was imposed. "He took a bribe and showed that he could be bought."

Acosta is seeking early release because he has back problems, high blood pressure and needs to care for a special needs child.

The political corruption investigation in Reading and Allentown features many of the same players.

Like Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski, Spencer, aka Public Official No.1, has yet to be charged. But unlike Pawlowski, Spencer lost his re-election bid two years ago.

Fed Ed Investigation: Feds To Seek Another Sentencing Delay

Seven people have pleaded guilty to political corruption in a federal investigation swirling around Public Official No. 3, who can only be Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. They include his former campaign manager (right arm), Managing Director (left arm), Finance Director (right leg), City Controller (left leg), an Assistant City Solicitor (tongue) and two campaign contributors. Sentencing is supposed to take place, starting today, and continue next month.

I learned today that federal prosecutors are seeking yet another delay, perhaps until September. This means that they do intend to prosecute Fed Ed, and are counting on the seven people who've already entered pleas to continue their cooperation. But this is really starting to get unfair.

From what I'm told, the FBI has wrapped up its investigation, and is waiting on the US Attorney to move.

Though the US Attorney only has to worry about a five year statute of limitations (which can be increased if racketeering charge are brought), these constant delays are very unfair to the seven people who have already pleaded guilty and presumably would like to get on with their lives. It is unfair to Allentown City employees, whose morale is in the tank. It is unfair to Allentown firefighters, who are dealing daily with vehicle breakdowns. It is unfair to Fed Ed, the target of this investigation, to walk around with the sword of Damocles constantly over his head. Most of all, it is unfair to the businesses of Allentown, whose growth has been stunted by the smoke of political corruption.

Judge Juan R. Sánchez, sitting in Philadelphia, probably has no idea how this has impacted Allentown. Don't expect federal prosecutors to tell him. Defense counsel, whose clients have already pleaded guilty, have no bargaining power. The public has no standing. .          

John Brown Awards $72,000 No-Bid Contract For New NorCo Jail

Northampton County Executive John Brown has begun the process of selecting what could very well be a new jail. Yesterday, he signed an Executive Order authorizing Corrections Director Dan Keen to enter into the planning process for a new detention center with DLR Group. That firm, which has offices in Washington, is described as "the leading prison design firm in the United States." Over the next three months, DLR will be paid $72,000 for a master plan that considers existing space needs and the possible reuse of the existing facility.

According to Brown's order, "The master plan will not be site specific, but rather the development of a concept based on the Lexington / Fayette County (KY) Detention Center plans which are owned by DLR Group and are considered the best design concept of all centers visited by the Director of Corrections."

Brown's Executive Order claims that his deal with DLR is a "sole source," or no-bid, contract. This way he can avoid the competitive bidding that would otherwise be required under the county's Administrative Code. Brown can argue that DLR is the only outfit in the universe that can give him a prison plan. But that's nonsense.There are numerous prison design firms besides DLR.

DLR Group is actually the nation's largest architectural firm, with offices all over the globe. It designed the first federal "supermax" prison in Colorado, known as the "Alcatraz of the Rockies." But there are numerous other national lnown architectural firms that design prisons, including Arrington Watkins, KMD and SchenkelSchultz of Gitmo fame. There are also numerous local architectural firms.

Brown by-passed them all, in apparent violation of the Administrative Code. This may very well be intentional. This is an election year, and four council members up for re-election may very well want to be able to deny they had anything to do with what could end up being a politically unpopular prison deal. What makes this even more troubling is that this already is literally the ultimate captive market.

The contract amount - $72,000 - is below the $100,000 threshold required for Council approval. But Brown is required to notify them. They could stop this in its tracks when they meet on Thursday night because Brown has violated the Home Rule Charter by failing to seek competitive bids.

Are the courts on board? Have alternatives to reduce incarceration been discussed? What does the DA think? I would think Brown would want those questions answered before spending $72,000 of taxpayer money to a nonlocal firm and without seeking proposals. .

This $72,000 is just a first step, the equivalent of sticking your big toe in a pool. The ultimate cost of either an expansion or a new prison is estimated at $128 to $136 million.

It could be in Nazareth. It could stay in Easton. It will certainly mean a tax hike.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Molovinsky, Monkey Momma and Me

Most of my stories are local. They are based on attendance at meetings, interviews with those affected and an occasional Right-to-Know request. My stories differ from the mainstream in that I'm more than willing to share my own perspectives, right or wrong. I make a huge effort to get my facts right, even to the point of recording meetings so I quote participants accurately. Although I was recently derided as "Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor," I believe what I do is an important public service at a time when the corporate owners of daily newspapers have decided it's no longer important that you know what is happening in your own community. I am only one person, but my primary goal is to deliver as much information as I can, especially about local communities overlooked or no longer covered by the dailies.

A perfect example of this is a story from last week concerning UGI's request for a 78' high liquefied natural gas facility in Bethlehem. Though this proposal is opposed by Lower Saucon Tp, it is Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board who will make the decision. I attended and sat through a three and a half hour hearing. I also did some independent research about the safety records at other liquefied natural gas facilities and, of course, wrote the account. It took me about eight hours.

Neither of the daily newspapers thought it was important that you know about this proposal.

I did.

Saucon Source and The Home News, both of which are listed on my sidebar, do provide some local news coverage in the Saucon Valley and Northampton-Bath areas. In addition, Matt Dees and Ron Beitler are two locally elected officials who make a diligent effort to keep readers in West Easton and Lower Macungie informed. But that's about it, other than me.

Alcoholism stripped me of the one thing I hold most dear - my integrity. I can tolerate and even laugh and join in disparaging remarks about what I do. But over the years, this has really been an attempt to restore my honor, as corny as that might sound, by serving the public.

Since I began blogging in 2006, I've published over 10,000 stories. Weekday readership has gone from about 30 when I started to between 5,000-7,000 now. Some posts are very ordinary, like notices of an upcoming town hall. Others have been significant. The dailies often data mine this blog for stories. That's fine with me. I want to see the public informed. That is the source of this blog's only real power. It is no help to anyone running for office. But it does help set the public agenda.

The most controversial feature of this blog is the anonymous comment feature. There can be ugly remarks, and I am often blamed for allowing them, even if I delete them. But anonymity also encourages spontaneity. It enables people to say things they could never say if you knew their identity. There have been useful tips, too. So I will continue to allow anonymity and monitor the trolls. Besides, there has been a drastic decline in civility, even when readers are required to sign their name. I see that both on Facebook and at other blogs.

I've been unable to line up anyone willing to take over for me when I'm gone. I did have one recently retired lawyer interested, but she came to her senses. It requires a thick skin. I've endured calculated insults and snubs by politicians and even other news outlets.

I accept no ads. I did have Google adsense. I loved it because, other than ruling out certain types of ads, I had no say on who or what was advertised here. It was a perfect firewall. But they fired me twice because some readers thought they were doing me favors by clicking on my ads.

I refuse to solicit locally. That could compromise my independence and integrity. I am paid by no one. I do get paid for stories I submit to a small weekly, but if you saw the amount, you'd laugh. If I support a candidate for public office and am writing about him, I try to make that clear. I also will disclose any monetary contributions I make in those rare cases when I can afford it. I was once slammed for failing to disclose more fully my support for AG candidate John Morganelli. I have no idea how much more transparent I could have been.

I post only as me. I never use sock puppets, here or anywhere else. I owe you honesty. I have sued people who attack my integrity with knowingly false accusations that I attempt to manipulate discussions by posting either anonymously or through pseudonyms. I feel strongly about this and Allentown blogger Michael Molovinsky knows this because I told him many times.

Yesterday, in a Memorial Day post about the Pope and Trump, Molovisky on Anything But Allentown writes, "As a Jew, it's nice to say nice things about the Pope." Isn't that nice? He then proceeds to rip the Holy Pontiff for daring to preach that we need to forgive our enemies, even them Muslims. Imagine that! The spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church teaches forgiveness. Molovinsky also again slams Morning Call columnist Bill White for calling him dour a few weeks ago.

Molovinsky received a critical comment from "Monkey Momma." She has been commenting in the blogosphere for years. "This is an odd post for Memorial Day," she starts.

"To those who gave their life defending our freedoms here in the United States, I am thankful," she continues. "We live in a country that tolerates and encourages the exchange of varying opinions, and that is not something I take for granted. Our freedoms have been clouded lately with anger and extreme partisanship. I believe this blog has, in its own small way, lately contributed to the hate we see blooming in our society. You need only read comments from the last few posts to see the venom of which I speak."

Molovinsky responded by accusing her of being me. "I will give you this; when it comes to contributing to hate, you remain the master."

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle.

Molovinsky is wrong. Monkey Momma writes well. I suppose I should be flattered. But as he knows, I only write as myself. He is attacking my basic integrity. He is doing so with reckless indifference to the truth.

I have no problem being demeaned as "Jimmy Olsen, Boy Editor."  But this latest reckless and false accusation is a smear on more than me. It's a slur on a woman, and someone with whom I've often disagreed, for telling an authoritarian that he's an authoritarian.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Irishman and Joe Biden

When VP Joe Biden was being shopped for the presidency, the rap against him is that he tends to put his foot in his mouth. Hillary was the Democratic nominee, and the result is a President who has taken foolish, embarrassing and tactless rants to a whole new level. We'll never know, but I believe Biden would have beaten Trump.

With that in mind, I thought I'd stray from the usual fare to share a story about how Biden first was elected to the US Senate in Delaware. It might be because of a union mobster and hit man known as Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran.

Sheeran's life story is told in a book called "I Heard You Paint Houses," in which the Irishman confesses to having killed Hoffa. That was the first thing Hoffa said to Sheeran when Pennsylvania crime boss Russell Buffalino introduced Sheeran. Painting houses, by the way, was a mobster's polite way of discussing murder. He first earned how to kill during WWII, where he would slaughter German POWs.

Sheeran was President of Teamsters Local 326, based in Delaware, and supported Joe Biden in '72 when he first ran for the US Senate against incumbent Caleb Boggs.

It was a close race and Boggs decided to run ads in Delaware's two newspapers on the weekend before the election. A lawyer Sheeran liked wanted to make sure those newspapers never got delivered.

Here's how the Irishman explains it:
"I told my friend the lawyer and the guy he had with him that they could count on me to get it handled. I always had a lot of respect for that lawyer and thought Biden was better for labor anyway. I told him that once we put up the picket line I would see to it that no truck driver crossed the picket line. The Teamsters would honor the informational picket line of the other union, whatever name they used.

"The line went up and the newspapers were printed, but they stayed in the warehouse and they never were delivered. The newspaper company called me up and wanted my men to go back to work. I told them we're honoring the picket line. He asked me if I had anything to do with the blowing up of a railroad car that had material that was going to be used in the printing of the newspaper - whether it was paper or ink or some other supplies, I don't know. But no people got hurt in the bombing. I told him we're honoring the picket line, and if he wanted to hire some guards to keep an eye on his railroad cars he should look in the Yellow Pages.

"The day after the election the information picket line came down and the newspaper went back to normal and Delaware had a new United States Senator. ...

"There have been things written about this incident and I am always mentioned in them. They say this maneuver is what got Senator Joe Biden elected. Especially the Republicans say that if those newspaper inserts from the Boggs side got delivered inside the newspapers it would have made Joe Biden look very bad. The Boggs ads coming as they almost did that last week there would have been no time for Biden to repair the damage. I have no way of knowing if Joe Biden knew if that picket line thing was done on purpose on his behalf. If he did know he never let on to me."
Incidentally, Biden won that race by just 3,162 votes.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bethlehem Has Three Ladder Trucks, Allentown Down to 0 Again

Allentown  firefighters are reporting that, once again, Pennsylvania's third largest city has no ladder trucks.Once again, they are using a pick-up truck, and have placed neighboring departments on stand-by.

A Bethlehem firefighter was at last night's meeting concerning a 78' LNG facility,and during a break,I asked him how many ladder trucks Bethlehem has. Three. All operational.

UGI Proposes 78' High LNG Facility on Ringhoffer Rd

In an effort to deliver natural gas more efficiently to its Lehigh Valley customers, UGI is planning to build a 98' high, 78' wide liquefied natural gas facility in Bethlehem at 2470 Ringhoffer Road on an 83.91 acre tract of former Bethlehem Steel land that is now part of Lehigh Valley Industrial Park. Represented by Allentown Attorney Tim Siegfried, company representatives were at the Zoning Hearing Board May 24 for a special exception and dimensional variances. But so were Lower Saucon Township officials, who were represented by prominent environmental attorney Charles Elliott. They were there to argue against the project. After over three hours of testimony, the Board called it a night and will return on June 14.

There was no shortage of lawyers. Attorney Jim Preston was there on behalf of Bethlehem Commerce Center,which adjoins the proposed facility. Attorneys Joe Piperato and Jim Holzinger were there on other matters. Attorney Kevin Kelleher was acting as the Zoning Hearing Board's solicitor. Attorneys Michael Santanasto and Linda Shay Gardner are themselves members of the Board. Before testimony got underway, Chair Gus Loupos joked that the Bar Association should find some other place for their meetings.

UGI's VP for business development, Matt Dutzman, described the proposed facility as a 98' tall, 78'wide triple-wall full containment tank capable of holding two million gallons of liquefied natural gas. He explained that a stainless steel tank will be surrounded by insulation and then a second wall of steel that would be encased in concrete. "It's a big thermos bottle," explained UGI engineer Mike Mara. UGI already maintains three such tanks, with a fourth under construction.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is cryogenically cooled natural gas which is liquefied to reduce the volume for shipping and storage. LNG is primarily methane, but can contain up to 10% ethane and propane. It is stored at a temperature of negative 260 degrees Celsius. The location along Ringhoffer Road was attractive to UGI for two reasons. First, it is located near a pipeline that will enable the company to deliver fuel after returning the methane to its gaseous state. Second, the facility would be located in a swale, affording some natural protection.

The tank will be filled by 10,000 gallon tankers, each of them weighing over 44,000 pounds, that would travel along Applebutter and Ringhoffer Road. About five or six deliveries will be made daily over the course of several months until the tank is full. After that, the only time the tank will be accessed is during extremely cold weather.

UGI officials conceded that Ringhoffer Road is a poor access route, but vowed to make improvements.

Both officials stated that when there is a delivery or when gas is transferred to a pipeline, employees will be on site. The rest of the time, the facility will be monitored from a gas control facility located in Reading. That gas control station will be able to detect leaks and dispatch technicians, or remotely shut down the plant.

No other use will be made of this 83-acre tract,and the property will be both buffered with landscaping and fenced to prevent easy access. An emergency plan is still being formulated with Bethlehem public safety officials. Mike Mara said UGi would provide any training that is deemed necessary and purchase any equipment that first responders think are needed to deal with an emergency.

UGI officials conceded this are is prone to sinkholes, and plan to introduce testimony to establish how they plan to deal with that problem, as well as potential earthquakes.

Though LNG is inflammable, Mara admitted under cross-examination that there have been accidents. He admitted that n 1944, the wall of a LNG facility failed. The tank ruptured, spilling LNG into the city sewer system. It vaporized and turned into gas, which exploded and killed 128 people. Mora explained that was a single wall, not a triple wall. Moreover, he indicated the steel used in Ohio was of low quality. He said designs today are much improved.

Dutzman was unable to tell Lower Saucon Council member Priscilla deLeon how old the pipes are that will be used to carry the natural gas. But Mora stated that the first 500 feet will be stainless steel. She lives less than a mile away and is concerned about a vapor cloud that could ignite and explode.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What's the Hold Up in the Fed Ed Case?

Allentown's former Managing Director, Francis Dougherty, is the latest domino to fall in a federal public corruption investigation aimed at Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski, otherwise known as Public Official No.3. But he himself has thus far eluded prosecution, even though his own attorney has stated an indictment is imminent. Why?  Is this because it was all just a misunderstanding, as Fed Ed and a few of his fellow travelers would have you believe? From what I'm told, the FBI has concluded its investigation, and this matter is in the hands of the US Attorney's Office. So what's happening?

First, the US Attorney himself has resigned, though there are about 130 career prosecutors in that office and an Acting US Attorney to approve any prosecution. Second, the prosecutor originally assigned to this case resigned to run for Philadelphia DA. Third, the Supreme Court's decision in McDonnell, which invalidated the prosecution of Virginia's ex-Governor for honest services fraud, undoubtedly forced prosecutors to re-evaluate the case. Fourth, the US Attorney's Office in both the Eastern and Middle Districts of Pa. have had their heads handed to them in two high-profile public corruption cases. Fifth, if they are filing racketeering charges like they did against former Congressman Chaka Fattah, they need approval from the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Department of Justice, which can take time. Sixth, they were likely reluctant to seek a prosecution right before the Mayoral primary, although that decision itself interfered with the election in a very negative way. Seventh, they are governed by a statute of limitations and nothing else. They are under no obligation to file charges until the statute is about to run. That's five years.  

When this investigation first became public, Fed Ed was a wreck.Some thought he might commit suicide and he lost a lot of weight. But as time has gone by, he's rebounded, as demonstrated by his weight returning and his bully tactics against both an Allentown firefighter and community activist Eugene McDuffie. He has gone from being scared to denial.

While I do expect to see him indicted soon, and Dem party bosses are looking for a replacement candidate.But he won't resign. He will have to dragged out of office, kicking and screaming. Seven lives have been shattered by this ordeal. Count on seeing their sentencing delayed yet again. Here's the current schedule before Judge Juan R. Sánchez in Philadelphia:

Mary Ellen Koval, May 31, 10am
Matthew McTish - May 31, 2pm
Garrett Strathearn -June 1, 11am
Ramzi Haddad - June 12, 2pm
DaleWiles, June 13, 10am
Michael Fleck - June 13, 2pm
Francis Dougherty - June 27, 9am

Matt Cartwright to Host Town Hall in Wilson Borough

U.S. Congressman Matt Cartwright (Pa.17) recently hosted a town hall at Northampton Community College before a friendly crowd. If you missed that one, you'll have a chance to see him up close and personal in Wilson Borough at the end of this month. All are welcome. He'll be at Strausser Community Center (2210 Liberty St, Easton, PA 18042) on Tuesday, May 30, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm.

Cartwright serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee with Charlie Dent. Though they come from different parties, both speak highly of each other.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Las Vegas Blog Bets NorCo Will Stay Away This Year

New to Las Vegas is having some fun with NorCo Controller Steve Barron's recommendation that County Council impose tighter controls on outside travel after his discovery that Human Resources Director Amy Trapp sent staffers last year on trips to New Orleans and Vegas. "I guess when you live in hardscrabble northeastern Pennsylvania–especially the area around Easton–any trip to Las Vegas by government workers on the public dime can look suspect," writes blogger William Barrett. "I’m nominating Trapp for my new list, It Didn’t Stay Here. The list–a play on that great Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority marketing slogan, “What Happens Here, Stays Here“–consists of folks having problems somewhere else for things that happened in Vegas."

Noting that there's an election in November, Barrett is betting there will be no trip to Vegas this year.

Bath Takes Its Case to Colonial Regional Oversight Board

Members of Bath's police advisory board
address CRPD Comm'n 
In the wake of Saturday's Town Hall in Bath, a large crowd was expected at the monthly meeting of the Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD) last night. To be sure there would be enough room, the venue was transferred from CRPD HQs to the popular Hanover Tp Community Center, a YMCA on steroids where even my grandson trains. Some people were lifting or doing cardio. Young ladies joked in the lobby as they prepared for volleyball practice. Bouncing basketballs provided the percussion. When about ten police officers entered the building, nobody batted an eye. Some of the kids even said Hi to these cops, who have apparently taken the time to develop good relations. But how are these same officers viewed by the Bath community? About 35 people were at last night's meeting, but only a few of them were residents who were neither part of the police advisory commission or borough Council.

Borough officials continue to insist that no decision has been made. But Borough Manager Brad Flynn's Budget Message from October makes clear that a mere five percent increase was so devastating that there would be discussions about the Bath's continued participation in CRPD.

Martin Boucher, a soft-spoken Lower Nazareth Tp Supervisor, chairs the CRPD Commission, which provides civilian oversight over this regional force. John Diacogiannis, from Hanover Tp, and Fiorella Mirabito, from Bath, are the other voting members. After getting the police business out of the way, Boucher opened up the floor to public comment.

CRPD Commission Absence at Town Hall. - It appears that members of the police advisory commission, along with Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, were bothered that the CRPD was absent from Saturday's Town Hall. Diacogiannis explained that he thought the Town Hall was for residents of Bath to register their concerns. That's certainly how it was presented on Bath's Facebook page. It was billed as a meeting for residents and business owners about the future of police service in Bath, hosted by the Bath Borough administration. In fact there was an attempt to prevent CRPD officers from speaking for that very reason. Boucher explained he was working on Saturday.

There's another reason why Commission members would be wise to stay away. Had they gone to that meeting and participated in discussions concerning Bath's future with CRPD, they would be deliberating about matters on which they will be taking official action. They would be conducting a public meeting without advertising and without anyone to take minutes for them. It would be a clear violation of the Sunshine Act.

Can This be Worked Out? - Diacogiannis explained that the Commission is there for each respective municipality, and that it is up to each participant.  But speaking for himself, he said, "You got a problem. Police are only one component of it."  He noted complaints that 23% of Bath's budget goes for police protection, but noted that 29% of Hanover's budget pays for police. "We view police as a public safety issue. It's our responsibility as a government to provide for that."

Is Lower Nazareth going to bolt, too? -  Eric Nagle has been singing that tune for several years in Lower Nazareth, and has used the situation in Bath to rekindle the issue there. But Boucher put out that fire. "A majority of our board doesn't feel that way," he said. "We're very pleased with Colonial Regional."

Is CRPD Willing to Provide Contracted Services? - This question came both from a police advisory commission member and from Mayor Fiorella Mirabito, who tried to insist again that no decision has been made until I turned on my tape recorder.  It's pretty clear that Bath wants CRPB, like Moore Tp, to provide a proposal for contracted services even though no guidance about what is sought has been provided. Basically, Bath wants CRPD to compete against itself, and Chief Roy Seiple said he's prepare a proposal if he was given some guidance.

Some Police Advisory Comm's members support CRPD - Tara Berger, a registered nurse at St.Luke's, and spelled her name out for me. She said she jumped at the opportunity to be part of the advisory commission. "Initially, I thought, why fix the roads?" she asked. "Because who's going to want to drive into a town that's not protected by you guys?" She added that "any rumors, any blogs or articles, it's so sad for me to think that we are questioning what they do for us." She expressed concern about an "ever-growing transient element."  She also said that she represents a large part of her neighborhood "because I knocked on doors and I talked to them, and they don't want to leave you."

Tara might wish to tell those neighbors that CRPD officers were prevented from responding to what was essentially a hit job in the "informational packet" prepared by Borough Manager Bradford Flynn, which is full of inaccuracies. As one of them told her last night, "I felt we were personally disrespected." Officers intend to set the record straight at the next Borough Council meeting on June 5.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Meanwhile ... in the People's Republic of Allentown

From Local 302: Ladder Truck #1 out of service out of the city for repairs. Ladder Truck #2 Out of Service broke down on a call. Engine 11 a 75' quint acting as the Aerial truck. The City is growing and reliable fire trucks are a must. This again highlights the absolute necessity for a Replacement Plan and a new Fleet Services Contact. Call the Mayor and let him know this is unacceptable.
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Bath's Spending Problem Has Nothing To Do With Police Protection

About 70 attend a Bath Town Hall over regional police
Over the weekend, there actually was a town hall without a Congressman. Close to 70 Bath residents braved a rainy Saturday morning to meet at Social Hall, guzzling coffee and munching Dunkin' Donuts. They were there to discuss Bath's continued participation in Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD). "This place should be packed," complained State Representative Marica Hahn. But to draw 70 people for a weekend meeting about government in a tiny borough of just 2,700 people, is pretty remarkable. At the front of the room was a 15-person police advisory commission, who have been studying CRPD's future in Bath for several months. At the rear were several police officers, along with Chief Roy Seiple, who will be directly impacted by that decision. It's a question of money. It's also a question of public safety.

CPRD, first formed in 1995, is a regional police department that covers Hanover and Lower Nazareth Tp, along with Bath. In 2001, it became the first regional police department in the state to become accredited. It includes 24 police officers. Civilian oversight is provided by a six-person commission, with two members from each of the member municipalities.

Bath has been around a bit longer than CPRD. Settled in 1728, it's a borough consisting of 0.9 square miles and a $1.8 million budget. According to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, it is at least $1 million in debt, with much of that money ($380,000) having been borrowed in just the last year. Its 2017 budget includes nearly $128,000 in debt service. It is nearing its debt limit. Some of the reasons can be gleaned from Borough Manager Bradford Flynn's 2017 Budget Message:
  1. Last year, the Borough decided to purchase the "Thirst Quenchers" building to serve as a new municipal center. That alone will cost $425,000, to say nothing of at least $250,000 in renovations that will follow. 
  2. Legal fees in a borough that serves just 2,700 people have doubled. Forty-one thousand dollars have been budgeted for this year. With a straight face, Borough Manager Brad Flynn justifies this so that the borough can catch up on its codifications. 
  3. In the course of one year, Bath's three-person public works department resigned, and now borough officials are dealing for the first time with a union.
It's a borough with both a spending and a morale problem. Flynn's solution is to dump the one thing the borough appears to be doing well, i.e. protecting the public. He wants to eliminate the CRPD. A manager who thought nothing of borrowing near the limit and who didn't blink an eye when legal fees doubled, was very incensed that the cost of police coverage went up five percent, from $398,000.00 in 2016 to $416,000.00 in 2017. "This increase in cost will prompt upcoming discussions with the Colonial Regional Police Commission about the Borough’s seat at the table and to what future extent," he huffed, in his October 2016 budget message.

Repeated assurances were made on Saturday that "Nothing has been decided." That's window dressing. Flynn's October 2016 Budget Message tells a much different story. It is he, a person who wants to rid the borough of its police protection, who then prepared the "informational" packet that even criticizes CRPD for its "Shop with Cops" program.

Mayor Fiorella Mirabito called CRPD "top notch" and appears to be one person who wants them to stay. But she has no say in this matter, unless there's a tie.

Borough officials claim they've made no decision, either, and then refused to allow Chief Seiple and other CRPD officers to refute the findings in Flynn's so-called "informational" packet. Seiple and others complained that opinions were mislabeled as facts, and facts were misrepresented. As things would get heated, one or another member of the panel would stand up and repeatedly state how much they want to hear from the public.

The longest speeches in a meeting that was ostensibly set up to hear from the public, of course, came from members of the advisory commission. Attorney Beth Beers went on at length. "If we truly believe that we need to go to a different service because we can afford that, it's because we believe we will have the correct and appropriate police service for the Borough of Bath."

Beers insisted that they were not looking for a bargain, though the "informational" packet makes clear that is precisely what they are doing.Moore Tp can provide police protection at a cheaper price with a department that has less manpower and is not accredited. The state police will do it for nothing, if you don't mind waiting an hour for them to respond to a complaint about someone looking in your window.

Most of these harangues would follow a statement by a Bath resident expressing concern about public safety. At least half of those at this meeting appeared to support CRPD.

After Flynn suggested that Bath has no drug problem, a woman named Helen said that "where I live, drugs are a problem. We've had drug busts right across the street from us."

"Do you know how many meth labs were busted on Old Forge over the last two years?"asked one gentleman.

Another asked borough officials whether they have considered allowing themselves to be swallowed up by a government that can provide public safety. A borough that claims to be on the brink of financial disaster and wants to shed its police department has not even considered that possibility.

Chief Seiple noted that Bath pays about 12% of the CRPD budget and gets about 15% of the services. Though borough officials attempted to shut him down, he was plainly irritated at how "Shop with Cops" was misrepresented by Flynn.

"'Shop with Cops' is a program where we solicit donations for underprivileged children within our three jurisdictions to provide them with a Christmas. We give them each $500 and pick them up and go out to Wal Mart. That's a heckuva' program. Eighty per cent, if you want a number, of the kids we pick up for this program are from the Borough of Bath."

As Bath officials should know, truck traffic in the Lehigh Valley and Bath is expected to double over the next ten years. Like it or not, and it's mostly not, the big boxes cometh. Under these conditions, it would be sheer lunacy for the borough to rid itself of a police department that actually is certified to do truck safety inspections

In January, a bank robber in downtown Bath was apprehended by CRPD within a mile of his crime. How long would it take state police to respond? Or Moore Tp?

Instead of shedding CRPD, Borough Council might want to consider eliminating what appears to be its real problem, a spend-happy borough manager who hopes to solve this problem by eliminating CRPD and replacing it with ... whatever. He could them participate himself in "Shop with Cops," but does not live in Bath.

This discussion will continue this evening when the Colonial Regional Police Commission meets at 7 pm.

Friday, May 19, 2017

NorCo Council Approves $6 MM Food Service Contract at Jail

Corrections Director Dan Keen
In a unanimous vote during their May 18 meeting, Northampton County Council approved a new, $6 million food service contract at the jail with GD Correctional Services. The contract is for a period of three years, with two one-year extensions. GD, the food service at nine other penal institutions, was selected as the low bidder among four firms submitting proposals.

Though $6 million is a lot of money, Corrections Director Dan Keen told Council that it comes down to $1.30 per meal per inmate. That's less money than the $1.42 per meal currently being paid and is less than the $1.40 proposed by the next highest proposal. It's also a 2,900-calorie diet, an increase over the current 2,500.

Keen said GD has a "good meal selection," and added it is "very important to have a good meal for the inmates."  He told me after the meeting that nutritionists will prepare diets for people like me, who have food allergies.

"How are the deserts?" wondered Fiscal Affairs Director Jim Hunter. Keen offered to take both of us on a tour, but I turned him down,knowing it was just a trick to get me down there so they could throw me in the hole and force feed me food loaf.

Keen admitted that there is food loaf, but it is only given to inmates who are disciplinary problems.

In other business, Council unanimously approved seven open space grants for projects at municipal parks Matt Dietz and his open space committee reviewed each request and recommended approval.      

Bushkill Tp - $45,256 for a stone trail around a fishing pond at Heintzelman Park, located along West Beil Avenue and High Street. The grant also includes a parking facility, landscaping, signage and other park amenities.

Roseto - $14,435.89 for the rehabilitation of Roseto Park. This includes the relacement of park benches and a concrete walkway.

Tatamy - $20,202.53 for the construction and extension of Tatamy Trail, including a pavilion,picnic tables, benches and landscaping.

Bangor - $21,884.54 for the opening of a road access to Market Street from Eisenhart Blvd at Memorial Park.

Washington Tp - $58,221.09 for improvements at Washington Tp Recreation Complex that include a dog park and a disc golf course.

Bethlehem Tp - $86,779.50 to replace the playground at Comer Park, including safety surfacing around the playground.

Palmer Tp.- $347,473.42 for natural sod athletic field at the Chrin Community Center, together with parking sidewalks and a new western entrance.

Ken Kraft's Good Side

Ken Kraft is a member of NorCo County Council. I criticize him all the time on this blog, but that's nothing compared to what I say to him in person.  I think this would be perfect for his next election.

Hanover Tp To Celebrate Armed Forces Day This Saturday

Hanover Township, Northampton County is hosting their Armed Forces Day event on Saturday, May 20 at 10 AM at Armed Services Park (Hanoverville Road and Route 512). LTC Timothy A. Brooks of the PA National Guard will provide remarks for the occasion. I encourage all to attend and join in honoring those who have served and continue to serve our great nation.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

NorCo HR Director Had No License at Time of her Accident

NorCo Human Resources Director Amy Trapp has come under fire recently for excessive spending on things like gift cards for her pets, an $800 popcorn machine, trips by her staff to Las Vegas and New Orleans and using the county credit card, called a P-card, to buy lunches for her staffers taxpayer expense, even though they are eating at the courthouse and meals are only authorized when an employee is 50 miles away from the courthouse. Controller Steve Barron prepared a detailed memo outlining his concerns and suggesting that perhaps Council should approve all overnight travel when it is 100 or more miles away. Several Council members seemed to appreciate Barron's report, but Benol wants our Controller strung by his thumbs from the courthouse cupola, then drawn and quartered.

Two weeks ago, Trapp attempted to justify her spending at a Council meeting, with the complete support of Executive John Brown. Her husband, who looks like a reject from Duck Dynasty, accompanied her. I thought he was there for moral support but now think he was actually her driver. Wearing a band aid across her nose, she prefaced her remarks with the following: "I had an unfortunate run-in with someone who, not only ran into, but drove away from my car. The good news is that I get a new car, and I'm OK." Everyone felt sorry for her and wished her the best. Even I felt bad for her.

But I have since learned that Trapp only told part of the story. She has actually been charged as a result of that accident, both with changing lanes unsafely and driving without a valid license.

Maybe that's why she was trying out a hoverboard.

Though the citations issued to her explain her options quite clearly, she nevertheless felt she had to contact the court administrator's office to discuss those options. Though that office assured me it felt no pressure in any way from you, I believe it certainly looks as though she was fishing around for a favor.

This isn't Allentown, Amy.

I sought Trapp's side of the story, both by email and telephone call. Late this afternoon, she sat 10' from me at a meeting. She offered no explanation.

Bushkill Cop Charged With Covering Up Wife's Affair With a Minor

Keith Transue, who identifies himself on his Facebook page as a school resource and police officer with Bushkill Township, has been charged with witness intimidation, failing to report child abuse and obstruction of justice in Monroe County. Unsecured bail in the amount of $25,000 has been set by Magisterial District Judge Phillip Riley. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for June 8.

In addition to being a Bushkill Township police officer, Transue also serves on the Mount Pocono Borough Council.

It's a strange case. According to PaHomePage, Transue's wife Robin is alleged to have had sex with a 14 year-old boy six years ago. Instead of reporting it, he covered it up. He took the boy's cell phone, which contained incriminating information, then convinced the boy's parents not to go to the police.

Things got even more bizarre when Robin allegedly hired a hitman to kill her husband. She is supposed to have wanted him eliminated because he threatened to expose her.  

She's been charged, too, both with sexual assault and soliciting murder.

Keith Transue has been placed on administrative leave from his job at Bushkill Township.

Cartwright Secures Grant for Palmer Tp Firefighters

Last week, US Congressman was able to secure a grant for Lower Mount Bethel's Sandt's Eddy Fire Co. This week, he's snagged another one for the Palmer Tp Municipal Fire Station. It's $57,444 for $57,444 Operations and Safety grant. The funds will allow the fire company to purchase supply and attack hoses, including 192 couplings and related equipment. These purchases will improve fire operations and fire safety and will enable them to better serve their community.

“Our nation’s firefighters are called upon day after day to protect American citizens,” said Rep. Cartwright, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “As these brave men and women put themselves in harm’s way, we must ensure they are equipped with the best tools possible to do their jobs well, and today’s grants will help meet that goal.”

Someone ought to give Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski this message.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Fed Ed Gets Dem Nod With Four Percent

When my father was defeated in his bid for re-election as NorCo DA, radio stations  were still providing independent news coverage. So it was a radio reporter who stuck a microphone in my Dad's face to ask for his reaction. "The people have spoken," said my slightly inebriated father. "Fuck 'em."

It would be hard to blame Ray O'Connell or any of he other disappointed Mayoral candidates from feeling that way. But we live in a nation in which a scant plurality, as opposed to a real majority, can decide who leads them. So despite a federal investigation into Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski for political corruption, Democrats have chosen him as the party's nominee for a fourth term as Mayor.

Fed Ed cited his victory as proof that no dark cloud hangs over Allentown. But the reality is that he was chosen by just 1,734 of approximately 42,000 registered Democrats. Four percent of the City's Democrats decided for the other 96%.

Some blame the crowded field of seven candidates as making Fed Ed's nomination inevitable. But it's really a flaw in our winner-take-all system, which fails to provide for Instant-runoff voting (IRV). That's a voting method used in single-seat elections when there are more than two candidates. If voters ranked candidates in order of preference. Though this method is used in several counties and even in our Oscar selections, Maine is the sole state to provides for instant run-offs.

A more simple solution would be a second round of voting, limited to the top two candidates.

The Republican Mayoral primary was much more of a mandate for Nat Hyman. He garnered 1,422 voter to Luiz Garcia's 667.

So unless he's dragged out of office, kicking and screaming, Fed Ed will face Hyman in November. It is the worst possible result

Other disasters. Amy Zanelli, aka the Chicken Lady, cruised to victory in the Lehigh County Commissioner's race for We these constant attacks tiresome andcounterproductiveandwill be ignoring him from this point. st Bathlehem and Allentown's East Side over Dennis Pearson and Basilio Bonilla. Far few voters know her history. She will face Bob Smith, a man who suffered nearly fatal injuries when he broke the fallofa troubled teen who tried to commit suicide and hurled herself off a roof.

Easton voters went with incumbents Sandra Vulcano and Jim Edinger over Taiba Sultana and Terrence Miller

Silver linings. Alicia Zito and Vivian Zumas, both of whom captured the nomination of both parties for Magisterial District Judge slots in the slate belt and  east Bethlehem.

Tracy Magnotta,who won in the Saucon Valley School Board race.

Bob Cartwright, who fought off an attempt to remove him from the Bangor School Board, has survived on the Republican ballot.

Matt Dees survived an ugly attempt by Tricia Mezzacappa to knock him off the Democratic ballot in West Easton. She will be on the Republican ballot, but only captured 24 votes, about half as many as four years ago.

I'll have more to say tomorrow. I spent a long day yesterday as an election judge and need a little time to recharge my batteries.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Allentown Firefighters Using Pick-Up Truck Again

From Local 302 Allentown International Association of Firefighters: "This is a glaring indictment of Mayor Ed Pawlowski and his cronies' mismanagement of the City of Allentown.

"We have come full circle. Just 3 short weeks ago Rescue Engine 9 had to run out of a pickup truck do to the lack of a fleet replacement plan. Rescue Engine 9 is out of service again as well as the reserve Engine they changed in to. Once again our center city Rescue Engine is running out of a pickup.

"Mayor Ed Pawlowski said it was a Political Stunt and "Nonsense", he even found it humorous. He has proven he cannot handle the Public Safety Crisis Allentown is in. The citizens and Firefighters are fed up with the Mayor not taking our safety seriously.

"Once again call the Mayor's office and tell him enough is enough!"

My previous stories:

4/14: Fed Ed Has Allentown Firefighters Use Pick-Up as Engine Truck.

4/19: Allentown Ladder Truck Breaks Down Battling Blaze

4/20: O'Connell: Faulty Fire Trucks An Embarrassment to City

4/28: Another Allentown Fire Engine Breaks Down

5/4: Updated: Allentown Fire Dep't Still Running on Fumes

A Message From Allentown's Former DCED Director

Betsy Morris Levin: "Please if you are an Allentown registered voter do not vote for mayor Ed Pawlowski [today]. All politicians are not corrupt. But he is. I have experienced it firsthand. I am voting for Ray O'Connell. He is a tough and smart public servant. I think that he is the candidate with the ability and experience to hit the ground running."

Blue Lives Matter

Actually, all lives matter. This is National Police Week, a tradition started by President John F Kennedy. While most events will take place at the nation's capital, I'm sure our local officers will appreciate a simple thank you.

So that's what I did today. I pulled right alongside Nazareth Police Officer Stephen Schleig, who has been decorated several times and even delivered a baby, and thanked him for what he does.

"You're not writing another blog, are you?"

Last night, I also had an opportunity to thank another police officer. I left a Bethlehem Township Commissioners' meeting early and wanted to get home, put on my election judge nightgown and go to bed early for what will be a very long day today. He pulled me over because I was unfortunately driving too fast.

Whem he asked me where I had been, I told him I had just escaped from a township meeting .

"Oh, are you a Commissioner?"

"Worse, I'm a blogger."

"Step out of the car!"

I should be back in about six months.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Allentown's Election Is About Integrity, Not Politics

In the dawn of this nation's history, when British regulars and Hessian mercenaries had George Washington on his heels, Zions's Church in Northamptontown became the hiding place of the Liberty Bell, one of our most important symbols. Residents in that small community could be trusted. They were patriots who would resist tyranny and had already driven William Allen's loyalist family out of town. These true freedom fighters were the original inhabitants of what eventually became known as Allentown. They took a stand. Will that continue on Tuesday?

Will the voters speak out against the tyranny of a vindictive Mayor who has embroiled the entire city in a cauldron of political corruption? Will the voters finally say No to a false prophet who beats his chest about kindness while bullying truly Godly men like Eugene McDuffie, to say nothing of others? Will the dark clouds that have resulted in seven guilty pleas finally be lifted, or will Allentown continue with a paranoid man who sweeps his office for electronic bugs and uses burner phones? Will Allentown finally install someone who cares about public safety or a man who laughs at a fire department whose operating budget he has slashed by 65% since 2008?

We'll know Tuesday night.

A cornucopia of mayoral candidates, both Democrat and Republican, are in this race. I prefer Ray O'Connell, a man who understands the symbiotic relationship between the struggling city and its distressed school district. But there's much positive to be said for most of the candidates running. Thiel has business acumen. Garcia and Jones offer real ethnic diversity. Bennett has connections to small businesses and nonprofits, and knows people  in Harrisburg and Washington. Siegel brings intelligence and youthful exuberance.

They have their differences, but all but Nat Hyman and Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski have something in common. They bring integrity. As the sign outside Rick Orloski's office says, Vote Integrity. It is time for the citizens of Allentown to rise up again and say No to tyranny and political corruption.

Hyman's False Advertising

Hyman lacks the integrity needed to be a decent Mayor. Former Department of Community and Economic Development Director Betsy Morris Levin, on her Facebook page, states he was operating a building with multiple people living and working inside, but Fed Ed gave him a pass and protected him back in 2007.

What Levin has to say is troubling, but I'd want to hear from him before condemning him. But now there is additional evidence of his dishonesty, coming directly from Hyman himself.  

It's an ad with a pic of Hyman talking to firefighters, apparently directing their efforts in battling some blaze. Wherever that is, it isn't in Allentown. .

Local 302 Allentown International Association of Firefighters has made no endorsement in the Mayoral race. Imagine their surprise when they saw this Hyman ad of him talking to Cetronia Volunteer Fire Company firefighters, who apparently have no problem jeopardizing their nonprofit status in South Whitehall Township by allowing themselves to be used for partisan political purposes

Brilliant, guys!

So far as I know,and I spoke to several Allentown firefighters, Hyman has never reached out to or discussed any issues with them. He is just using their public safety crisis to propel himself into the Republican candidate's spot on May 16th.

This is dishonest behavior, and should disqualify Hyman from serious consideration by anyone interested in integrity in government.

The real Fed Ed

The other candidate who lacks integrity is Public Official No.3, incumbent Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. The real Fed Ed is far removed from the amiable if long-winded man delivering those lengthy power points. He is in fact malicious and vindictive, as those who know him can attest. Ask Candida Affa, a person who refuses to be intimidated by anyone, why she no longer supports Fed Ed. Ask Cynthia Mota whether he went after her one evening after she refused to vote the way he wanted. Ask the small businesses he shut down on pretexts. Ask the elderly lady who wanted to have a yard sale now and then for pin money. Ask Jeremy Warmkessel, a decorated firefighter who Fed Ed attempted to silence with bully tactics in a recent exchange.

This is all Fed Ed.

None of this has anything to do with Miked Fleck, the supposed mastermind of political corruption in Allentown, or any of the six others who have pleaded guilty to offenses that include bribery and bid-rigging.

I was particularly stuck and saddened at how Fed Ed bullied Eugene McDuffie earlier this month, as I told you on Friday. McDuffie is a saintly and gentle man, a person who I think has been touched by the hand of God. Jews and Muslims would call him righteous. Buddhists would say he's achieved enlightenment. We Catholics would say it's the Holy Spirit. He has spent his adult life caring for troubled teens and the homeless. Eugene is an announced City Council candidate, but only to bring attention to his bigger mission. He has spent no money. He has no money to spend. He has no intention of winning any political race. But he's been making the rounds in his one and only suit, wearing only the one pair of red shoes he can afford. He has continued his push to help troubled teens and the homeless.

Sir Sly would say,

"It feels good to be running from the Devil,
Another breath and I'm up another level.
It feels good to be up above the clouds.
It feels good for the first time in a long time, now."

Fed Ed bashed Eugene for doing God's work. I told you Eugene's story because it shows Fed Ed without his make up. He's a bully with no integrity. Amazingly, while under investigation for political corruption, he also used his city offices to play politics, which is a theft of public services. This is the height of arrogance. His mean streak has been corroborated by so many others that I would be writing until Tuesday if I listed every incident over the past 12 years.

Eugene McDuffie Story Criticism

Allentown blogger Michael Molovinsky, whose blog is called Molovinsky on Allentown, spent the crucial week before that City's most important election in its history, talking abut anything but Allentown. He disparaged some poor fellow who was turned away from a tea party event featuring Pam Geller. He complained about being called dour and the lack of media coverage given to him when he ran for Mayor in 2005. He complained about comedians who dare to criticize Donald Trump. He condemned the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans  

It's his blog and he can write what he wants. But he has no right to dictate my topics. He has taken me to task for telling Eugene McDuffie's story. He notes that newspapers wrote no story, which implies that there is no story to write. Based on that logic, he should probably stop writing. I base my publishing decisions on what I think readers ought to know. They ought to know that Fed Ed continues to be a bully.

Molovinsky implied that McDuffie engaged in a political stunt and outright accuses me of playing politics, along with several candidates who commented on my blog or appeared at McDuffie's news conference.

As I explained, this is about integrity, not politics Eugene McDuffie, who was scarred by abusive parents and spent years on the streets of New York City, felt bound to speak out. So did I.

Do Miller and Sultana Have a Prayer in Easton?

Miller in Saturday's rain. 
Terrence Miller and Taiba Sultana are two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Easton City Council in Tuesday's primary. They've battled nomination challenges from their opponents, Jim Edinger and Sandra Vulcano. They've endured candidates' nights in which Easton's Dem machine has given them less than 24 hours notice  They endured a NAACP candidates' night that received no publicity, in which Sandra Vulcano tried to talk the entire night and Ken Jones, who is not running this year, got into a shouting match with Miller.

Over the weekend, some Democrats received a letter from Mayor Sal Panto endorsing his rubber stamp, Jim Edinger.  Panto is the person who was posting on Lehigh Valley Live under two different sock puppets, but was so stupid about it he began posting comments under those names as the Mayor. Having the endorsement of a dishonest man is no reason for cheer.

But this is Easton

Expect the same ol' same ol'.  

NAACP to Meet Several Area School Superintendents Today

Lance Wheeler, President of Easton's NAACP, is meeting today with several school superintendents concerning the racism that unfortunately still exists at our area schools. He is hopeful that an area diversity committee can open closed eyes. As for me, I'm quite happy at the prom pictures from area high schools over the last two weeks.They include numerous interracial couples  I have more confidence in our younger generation than with people my age.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fed Ed Tries Bully Tactics on Eugene McDuffie

I've told you before that Allentown City Council needs cops, not criminals. I feel reassured knowing that former police chief Roger MacLean is on Council. The same goes for Daryl Hendricks, a former Captain. He has Fed Ed's number and most certainly deserves re-election. I also support Ed Zucal, a retired APD SGT, and Dan Buglio, a Deputy Corner and part-time police officer in Coplay and Slatington. These guys put their their lives on the line for you. They know what it means to serve. Allentown is in crisis mode and really needs first responders on Council.

Having said that, I want to talk a moment about Eugene McDuffie, another City Council candidate. I met him in the September 2015, and over the course of a few hours, he told me his life story. It's the sad story of a 14 year-old boy who ran away from abusive parents to live on the streets of NYC. Thinking he was worthless, as attempted to end his own life several times. But it's also a happy story. He found God, moved to Allentown, raised a family of his own and has a passion for the City's homeless. It was McDuffie who was my tour guide several years ago.

He is a gentle man. His view of the world and other people is almost childlike. He is someone I consider a man of God, even if he lacks a degree from Moody's Bible Institute. I chose not to support him in his bid for a seat on City Council, but only because I believe he does more good helping people one-on-one. Believe it or not, I think he's far more comfortable with the homeless and addicts than with politicians. He is " Pawlowskia first responder for the soul.

McDuffie asked to speak to me yesterday. Apparently,he's been accosted by Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. On May 5, he was summoned by Fed Ed assistant Ismael Arcelay for a meeting at City Hall concerning the Human Relations Commission, of which he was a member. He went into a room and Fed Ed was sitting there, along with City Council candidate Jessica Ortiz, who is in Fed Ed's pocket.

Fed Ed had no interest in discussing human relations. He was misusing city resources for politics. He was there to bully McDuffie. He demanded to know why McDuffie had posed for pictures with Allentown activist Robert Trotner. He then demanded to know why he had appeared in a video with Mayoral candidate Josh Siegel. Grabbing his cell phone, he shoved it into McDuffie's face, yelling at him. McDuffie was extremely upset that evening and has decided to resign from the Human Relations Commission, which he believes is being perverted by Fed Ed for political purposes. Last night, he went to Allentown police to see if Fed Ed's conduct amounts to criminal harassment.

So much for the phony who exhorts everyone to "be kind."

Whether this conduct constitutes harassment is in my view questionable. But I do know that using public resources for political purposes, as Fed Ed clearly did, is a theft of services from the taxpayers of Allentown. It is precisely that kind of conduct that led to Bonusgate.

According to McDuffie, Fed Ed has tried similar bullying tactics on two of his former supporters. One of them is Cynthia Mota and the other is Candida Affa.

He's a bully.

LC Comm'r Race: Candidate Chicken Lady Cries Fowl

Amy Zanelli is the establishment candidate for Lehigh County Commissioner in District Three, which includes west Bethlehem and Allentown's east side. Incumbent Tom Muller endorsed her on the very night that he decided against seeking re-election himself. Two other Democrats, opportunist Basilio Bonilla and longtime citizen activist Dennis Pearson, were also running. Muller shoved them aside without doing his homework. Had he done so, he would have learned she was fired in 2012 for failing to show up at her job as a caseworker for child protective services in New Jersey.  He would have known that she was fired from a similar position in Northampton County in 2015. Muller told the crowd that Zanelli had been an announcer with the Lehigh Valley Roller Girls, but this is what Lehigh Valley Roller Girl Michelle Torte MessaHess said on her Facebook page: "DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS WOMAN. I care too much for Lehigh County and its residents. She is mentally unfit, financially irresponsible, and devoid of familial accountability. She has caused tyranny in several, local non-profit organizations within Lehigh and surrounding counties. DO WHAT'S RIGHT. SHARE THIS POST AND VOTE NO TO AMY ZANELLI."

Muller failed to mention that Zanelli is Hanover Township's chicken lady. Before she got canned by Northampton County, she lived in Hanover Township.She showed up at a Supervisors' meeting one night, asking them to do something about the Township's ban on backyard chickens She received permission to make a presentation at the following meeting, but never showed.

I spoke with Zanelli about these allegations, which she said were dismissed by the newspaper and WFMZ-TV69. She told me her termination in New Jersey was the result of discrimination. In Northampton, it was a misunderstanding about her hours. My own view of the information I had is that there are too many red flags for her. So after some thought, I posted a story entitled, "Why You Need to Vote for Dennis Pearson for LC Comm'r."

Zanelli published this comment, I wish to share it with you.
Greetings Mr. O’Hare and friends. My apologies for being late to the game here, but I didn’t realize this piece ran until I received a message from Dennis this morning. I will be the first to tell you that I have the utmost respect for Dennis and have no qualms about your endorsement of his candidacy. However, I think it’s important to note that the allegations regarding my raising chickens and my former places of employment are unfounded. For the record, I did not need to show up to the next township meeting. I was granted permission to raise my chickens into adulthood and re-home them for the sake of the children who were helping to care for them. And I did. In addition, the controversy surrounding my previous employment is untrue. In fact, it was at the hands of my competition that several news sources in the area received this false information and this was the only website where it appeared. Several days ago, I spoke to Mr. O’Hare and offered to meet with him to show him proof that in both instances, I was exonerated of all false claims. He refused. Neither case involved FMLA and since leaving Northampton County, they have since sent correspondence offering me two similar positions of employment, both at higher levels and pay grades. I have proof of those as well. I do not know who made a post on my behalf last night, but for that I am grateful. I can assure you it was not myself and my camp is too busy working to get me elected to spend their valuable time entertaining false accusations and fake news. With that said, this would not be the first time in history that an intelligent, well-spoken, beautiful woman has intimidated a man who then feels the need to spread rumors and lies in an attempt to tear her down. But as my grandmother used to say, if you have a target on your back it’s only because you’re so far ahead that it’s all they can see of you. See you all at the polls.
Unfounded claims.- Nothing I wrote is "unfounded." She was terminated in 2012 from a child protective services agency in New Jersey at a time when  staffing shortages and increased complaints had reached crisis levels. She appealed her Jersey termination and an arbitrator ruled against her. I have a copy of the lengthy decision. She simply refused to work, letting our most vulnerable element, our children, go without protection.

While refusing to come to work, she was being treated for a mental illness of some kind and was both receiving medication and undergoing therapy. Though too sick to work, she was still selling Avon products and brought them in for other workers.

The same thing happened in Northampton County, where she was terminated before her probation was up because of a disagreement over the number of hours she would work.Once again, she let down the most vulnerable element of our society.

Newspaper coverage.-  With limited exceptions, newspapers run for the hills from election stories. While there is always the danger that they are being played, failure to report at all is in my view irresponsible.I believe voters have a right to know that Zanelli was terminated from two positions and that some people take a very dim view of her role in ventures like the Lehigh Valley Roller Girls.

The chickens.- Zanelli now claims she had no reason to return to the Supervisors because the Township made special accommodations for her. She had50 people sign a petition for her and then let them all down because she was given whatever she wanted. Are you beginning to see a pattern?

Refusal to meet her.-  She did offer to meet with me concerning this matter, but she answered my questions so I saw no point. She may have concluded that I refused to meet her, but why would I call her if I didn't want her side? She gave it to me, and those flags were still there. I certainly would have met her if that is what she wanted.  

Sexism. - Zanelli finished by asserting that she is "an intelligent, well-spoken, beautiful woman" who "has intimidated a man who then feels the need to spread rumors and lies in an attempt to tear her down." Actually Amy, what you look like is irrelevant to me, as is your sex. There were no lies. No rumors. Just facts.

Dennis Pearson and Bob Smith are both head and shoulders above these other candidates They have integrity something missing from Zanelli and Bonilla. They have their roots here,and do not move every three seconds.