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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Updated: Allentown City Council Video Feed Malfunctions for Nat Hyman

A vacant warehouse owned by Allentown businessman Nat Hyman on Oct 7. Fortunately, no one was injured in the blaze. Two days later, without bothering to even consult with Hyman, Allentown officials may have entered into a $1.25 million contract to demolish the building. That's about five times as much as Hyman would pay under a bid for the work he already received. They've been doing their best to vilify Hyman as well, so much so that he visited Allentown City Council last night to give his side of the story. I had intended to watch and report on it from my underground lair. Mysteriously, the video feed just happened to fail.

On the night of this fire, Mayor Ray O'Connell was at the scene and was cordial to Hyman.

Then he fucked him.

One reporter actually approached Hyman and said some people were calling the fire "Jewish lightning." Hyman told the reporter he had no property insurance. That became one of the screaming headlines.

I would have punched the reporter in the mouth.

But I'm Irish, not Jewish.

Hyman does maintain liability insurance at all his buildings but there was no good reason for him to have property insurance.

As Hyman explained to me, the building is assessed somewhere around $191,000. No insurance company is going to insure it for a higher value. From a business perspective, it makes no sense to insure.

Let me tell you what's going on here. The City is going to have to raise taxes next year. It is going to have to raise taxes because City Council has been asleep at the switch and failed to exercise proper oversight of disgraced former Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. He ran the City into the ground and they let him.

Instead of having voters blame them for their own financial mismanagement, Council members and O'Connell would much rather have them blame Nat Hyman.

They're hoping you don't notice.

In reality, Hyman has provided a great deal of affordable housing in Allentown by taking old factories and warehouses and turning them into apartments. Of course the properties are a mess when he buys them. That's what happens to old vacant buildings.

I can tell you this much. I live in Nazareth. I've lived here for over two decades. I am still considered an Auslander. But they love Hyman. He is converting an old factory into apartments, and people are moving in as he continues to work on different parts.

I am disappointed at how the City handled this unfortunate event. City officials are in no position to vilify anyone. They should try to work with Hyman before convening an executive session to sue him.

I understand Hyman was actually permitted to speak for nine minutes and brought money, which was turned down. After he was out the door, the vilification continued. Cndida Affa claimed she had tried calling him,but his numbers were disconnected. She waited until Hyman was out the door before slurring him. Hyman tells me that none of his numbers has been disconnected for years.

Hyman's Address to City Council:

Last week I experienced a tragedy like few that I have experienced in my life. Beyond the enormous financial loss I have sustained, seeing one of my buildings go up in flames was terribly upsetting. I had put a lot of time and effort into taking that blighted building to make attractive affordable housing from it.

As you also know there was a fire in another one of my buildings this past Sunday night. To be clear, these fires started at the hand of someone. There is no other way they could have started. I think I have a good idea who did it and I’m working with the police on bringing him to justice.

As bad as this whole experience has been, it was made infinitely worse when our INTERIM Mayor railed against me and took my tragedy and turned me into the villain, for his own self-serving reasons. Frankly, I was surprised by it because prior to that he was nice to my face and never made mention of the demolition or any costs associated with it.

I decided to come tonight because my name has been so slandered that I felt compelled to clearly and succinctly provide you with the irrefutable and incontrovertible facts related to this matter:

1. When Ray told you that the city had reached out to me several times but I never responded…that was categorically untrue and he knew it when he said it . The city solicitor sent one e-mail to my attorney at 12:49 PM on Tuesday... a one line e-mail asking simply what Mr. Hyman’s intentions were for the building. Never a mention of demolition or any costs. When that attorney contacted me, I told him that he would not be representing me in this matter. There were absolutely no other communications…zero. This past Monday, the communications director for the City told The Morning Call, and I quote "The City reached out to Mr. Hyman by phone AND contacted his attorney in the days immediately after the fire." That was likewise untrue. As it looks inevitable that this matter will head to litigation, costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands more in legal fees, I want to remind you that those statements will have to be made under oath, under penalty of perjury. In addition, as part of the discovery process, we will require production of the phone records proving that they called me. I promise you they will not do either because it never happened. So, what this illustrates is that this administration is willing to lie to the citizens to cover their mistakes.

2. I never knew about, was consulted, given the courtesy of any discussion or even told that the city was tearing down my building. I found out from the media like everyone else.

3. While it is true that getting insurance on large vacant buildings is nearly impossible because they are magnets for vandals, drug addicts and squatters, that is not germane to this discussion. As you all know, no insurance company will EVER issue insurance on any building higher than its value. With that in mind, I have for you a copy of the Lehigh County Assessment record for this property. As you will see, Lehigh County just reassessed this property last month and INCREASED the value of this building from $121,900 to $191,100. So whether it was insured or not has absolutely no bearing on this matter.....even if it had been insured it would be for a fraction of the $1.25m at issue here.

4. One of my maintenance crews was at the building the Tuesday before the fire, once again boarding up every broken window and chaining and barring every door….as we have done countless times before. The building could not be alarmed because it had no power and even if it did have power, the alarm would go off 5 times per day driving the police crazy. But, as those of you in law enforcement know, the reality of these buildings is if someone wants to get in, they will get in. More importantly, I want to remind you that this building has been in this same state for 30 years....long before I bought it!

5.I had said that we planned on starting work the next day. To those people who have questioned that because there was no power to the building, we had 10 people who had finished cleaning out the smaller building on the same lot. If you went in that smaller building today, you would see it perfectly clean. They were to move over to this larger building on Monday to start cleaning out all of the garbage left by the prior owner and putting it in roll off dumpsters. As was the case with cleaning the smaller building, the daylight is sufficient for this task. From my past experience, this clean out would have taken 2 months, involve a hundred tractor trailer loads of garbage and does not require any permit.

Now for the 1.25 million dollar question, do I think the tax payers should be paying for the demolition of this building. ABSOLUTELY NOT. And as one of Allentown’s largest taxpayers, and the person who may have CREATED MORE PROPERTY TAX REVENUE FOR THIS CITY THAN ANYONE IN ALLENTOWN’S HISTORY, I am uniquely sensitive to wasting taxpayer dollars. I have seen that waste every day from the first days of this administration with its hiring dozens of people despite the fact that the city is losing $4m to $5m and will, undoubtedly, be raising our taxes in this upcoming budget.

BUT I will not pay for someone’s stupidity, nor should I be expected to.

I recently tore down a 40,000 square foot building on Gordon Street. It cost me $72,000. This past summer, I tore down a 10,000 square foot building in Nazareth for $37,000. I went out for bid on this demolition before I knew the City was doing the work. One bid came in from the company which did these 2 aforementioned jobs for me. I have that bid here for you tonight. The amount quoted for the entire job is $217,325.00 . And, frankly, I think I could have gotten it done for less.

As these documents I will give you will clearly illustrate, the cost for the demolition of a commercial building is $4 to $6 per square foot. If one simply googles " per square foot cost for demolishing a commercial building" they can confirm these numbers.

To pay $1.25 million dollars for the demolition of that building is so outrageous that I respectfully suggest that City Council investigate who is getting rich from this, because I assure you that someone certainly is! Using just common sense, you know that they have said this job will take plus or minus 10 days of work. That means they are making $125,000 per day! If there are 5 guys working on site, that would mean they are paying each of them $25,000 per day! It is precisely because of outrageous expenditures like this, that this city is barreling toward insolvency.

This job should have been bid out to market rate contractors and those bids could have been back in 2 days. And if the argument is that it was an emergency and had to be done immediately, then ask yourself what would have happened if City Council voted no to authorizing the funds? And why aren’t they working weekends and evenings? I went out to the site on Sunday morning at 10 am and no one was working and there was smoke coming out of the building! Clearly it was not as much of an emergency as we were led to believe. I think that Mr. Guridy had it right when he tried to take the prudent path of minimizing the exposure.

When I stood before you when you were selecting a Mayor and told you that I believed that you were selecting a CEO for a $100m business, I believed that then and believe it now. Well your CEO just went out and gave a contract to a company for a job at 6 times the market rate. If you want to know why Allentown is in dire financial straits, look no further.

And when Ray was grandstanding before you yelling that “Mr. Hyman, this is not a threat, it is a promise, you will pay the City back every penny” he either knew then that what he was saying wasn’t true or is painfully uninformed. The property is owned by a limited liability corporation. There is absolutely no recourse to your recovering that money. But the anger Ray tried to have everyone direct at me is misguided....It should be directed at the person who decided to pay $1.25m for a $200,000 job .

Now, as far as the question of whether I intend to pay for the demolition, the answer is that I am willing to pay that which it would have cost me had I done it, as it should have been done. Accordingly, I hold here a check made payable to the City of Allentown, for $217,325, which is more than generous because I could have negotiated that price down. I am willing to give it to you tonight, provided that you give me your assurance that the work will be completed and that no liens will be placed on the property and no litigation related to this matter will be initiated against me or any of my companies. Any reasonable person understands that I should not bear the burden of Ray's poor business management skills.

This City just wasted $1.25m but you aren’t going to put that on me:

1. I didn’t start this fire,
2. I didn’t ask or authorize anyone from the city to knock
this building down nor was I even consulted about it.
3.I didn’t ask or authorize anyone from the city to pay for it.
4. I fully expected to knock it down myself and at my own cost and would have done so promptly if given the chance.
5. I certainly didn’t agree to or authorize anyone to pay $1.25m for this work

Finally, we all agree that 2 of this city’s biggest issues are blight and affordable housing. I am the only one attacking both of those problems on any meaningful scale and the only one doing substantial development in Allentown without any government assistance or tax advantages. I don’t need your thanks or recognition but I certainly should not be criticized while doing it. If you ever hope to see development of the long neglected east side and south side and downtown area outside of the NIZ, you must be accommodating to people who try to do it and treat them with a modicum of decency and civility.

Thank you.

(This posted originally at midnight and has been updated to include Hyman's remarks.)

Zrinski Blows Off Important Council Meeting For Politics

Yesterday's finance committee hearing was particularly important. Executive Lamont McClure wants to float a $26 million bond, and the county's financial adviser gave an excellent presentation that even I could understand. Tara "Down With the Patriarchy" Zrinski, an elected member of Northampton Council, was MIA. I assumed she must have had some unavoidable conflict. I was wrong. She blew off the meeting for politics.

Zrinski has blocked me from her Facebook page, but one of her friends sent me this explanation of what she was doing yesterday instead of representing the people who elected her:

In stark contrast to Zrinski, Lori Vargo Heffner actually cancels appointments so she can attend these meetings, depriving herself off income. Matt Dietz will decline work assignments for the same reason.

In 2008, Zrinski was sanctioned by Judge Emil Giordano for "perjury" in a custody dispute, though she was never criminally prosecuted. (See NorCo Docket 2007-9468, Court Order dated 12/16/08, Paragraph 14).

Upper Naz. Tp Manager Resigns

Becky Bartett has the scoop. E.J. Mentry was highly regarded and will be missed.

Pa-7: How Much Have Nothstein and Silfies Raised?

Yesterday, I told you about Susan Wild's campaign finances in the Pa-7 race. What about her opponents, Marty Nothstein and Tim Silfies?

As of September 30, Nothstein has raised $856,359.88. This includes $145,000 of his own money. $219,058.19, or 26% of his total funding, comes from Pennsylvania.

As of September 30, Silfies reports having raised $48,276.00. Of this total, $33,975 came out of his own pocket. The site was nonresponsive much of the night, but it is clear from his own contribution that most of his money comes from Pennsylvania

McClure's $26 Million Bond

Lamont McClure
Scott Shearer, Managing Director at PFM, gave an excellent presentation yesterday to County Council about Northampton County's debt and Executive Lamont McClure's plans to borrow money through a bond issue.

Bond interest rates have varied over the past ten years from a low of 1.290% to a high of 4.860%. The higher the interest rate, the more money that county must pay on the bond. The current interest rate is 2.680%.

How much debt does NorCo have right now?

The county owes $137,153,789, including principal and interest, on four general obligation bonds and lease rental debt.

McClure plans to use bond money to exercise an option to purchase the Human Services Building next year for $14,468,731. He also wants to build a $11 million forensic center at a site to be determined. Though the County has funds on hand to purchase the Human Services Building next year, McClure would prefer to borrow the money. The reason is that the County gets $800,000 from the state every year to pay for the lease. If the County buys the building, it will lose that money. But if it borrows, it will continue to receive this funding. So McClure plans to leverage that state money to pay debt service on a bond and use the savings on hand to pay for the P3 project.

Where's the forensic center going?

This is a stumbling block for Peg Ferraro and John Cusick. "Before I take out a mortgage, I want to know where I'm going to build a house," complained Cusick.

McClure said they will all know exactly where before voting on the final ordinance, or at least have a very good idea. He said that three locations are under consideration, and not a dime needs to be spent to purchase them. In other words term , it will be located on land already owned by the county. He declined to be more specific because "negotiations are going on as we speak."

How much will the County pay for a $26 million bond?

There are two ways to repay the money. The first is through a 20-year term at a fixed rate. The second is still traditional, but is a wrap around and for 11 years only. This will make the county debt free by year 2030. A wraparound will mean that the debt service is higher on this bond, but not until 2024.

As with any bond issue, there will be costs for bond counsel ($24,000), financial advisor ($32,500), rating fee ($25,000),etc.. The biggest expense is the underwriter, and is projected at $208,000.


Oct. 18 - Borrowing Ordinance introduced.
Nov. 1 - Borrowing Ordinance considered.
Late Nov.- Preliminary Finance Documents
Early Dec. - Seek proposals for Underwriter
Jan. 14 - receive credit rating (County is currently very high, at AA and AA1)
Jan. - Underwriter engaged
Jan. - lock-in interest rate
Feb.- close on Bond

Milides Building Will Soon Be Milides Parking Lot

NorCo's Public Works Director Mike Emili informed County Council last night that the County is planning now to demolish the Milides building and replace it with a much-needed parking lot, right across the street from the courthouse. Last week, it obtained some minor variances from Easton's Zoning Hearing Board. Work is now imminent.

The once majestic building has fallen on hard times. One of its biggest problems is that the former law office, along with a 40-space parking lot, is slowly falling off a cliff.

Emili and Administrator Charles Dertinger say there are plans in place to shore up the cliff. One of the main reasons for the erosion is that the building and parking lot were built on top of fill. Another is that rainwater from the building and parking lot trickle down the side of the cliff, eroding it.

Dertinger said that the county will place an underground tank under the parking lot, which will serve as a drain.

When completed, Dertinger said there will be 104 parking spots instead of the current 40. This will include eight spaces for handicapped parking, six of which will be van accessible.

Emili also updated Council on the P3 project, under which 33 bridges are to be repaired or replaced. One bridge was completed last year, and 10 were supposed to be completed this year. Only 6 of these bridges will be completed. Emili said there are two reasons why. First, there were difficulties with easements. Second, the constant rain slowed down work.

In some good news, the emergency generators at Gracedale are installed Permits are being obtained and testing will follow. Emili and his Deputy, Scott Parsons, predict the generators will be online in a few weeks.

"The end is in sight," said Emili of a project that has lingered since 2013.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Revenue Department Apologizes to Browne, Pinsley

State Senator Pat Browne is seeking re-election. Last week, he sent a flyer accusing his opponent, Mark Pinsley, of having a state tax lien. We all know now this was untrue. The state Department of Revenue has apologized to both candidates.

C. Daniel Hansell, the Secretary of Revenue, sent them both a letter yesterday:

"I am aware that this issue has now become a matter of public controversy. I deeply regret the inaccurate information provided by my Department with regard to this matter, and apologize to you both for the confusion it has caused." 

Only 15% of Susan Wild's $2.4 Million is From Pa.

As of October 1, Susan Wild has raised $2.4 million in her bid for Pa-7. Only $341,756.10 of her total, or 15%, comes from Pennsylvania. The rest is outside money.

In her Business Mattes debate, Wild defended the money she received, claiming that most of it comes in the form of very small donations. This is false. Those under $200 donations amount to $326,728.67, or 13%, of her total contributions.

Wild claims her first priority is campaign finance reform.


In the meantime, she has sent an email to her fans, falsely claiming she's unable to pay her staff.

I will give you the skinny on Marty Nothstein and Tm Silfies when their most recent reports post. The Morning Call ghas a story, but I prefer to look at the numbers myself.

Bethlehem Tp Ponders Fire Tax

"Butch" Grube and his assistant, Rich Kanaskie
Which do you think is more important, police or fire protection? If I could only pick one, it would be police protection. You can always replace a house, but you can never replace a life. The state legislature thinks differently. No state law requires a municipality to provide police protection. But since 2008, "The Municipality shall be responsible for ensuring that fire and emergency medical services are provided for including appropriate financial and administrative assistance.” So local governments are required by law to support their local fire departments. One way to do this, and to plan ahead for major capital purchases, is through a fire tax. This possibility was considered by Bethlehem Township Commissioners at their Oct 15 meeting.

A possible fire tax was raised last year by Tom Nolan. Eight other NorCo communities have a fire tax. Finance Director Andrew Freda spoke with the state about this idea and it was recommended as a "common practice" and as a good way to plan ahead. Hudak said that he'd want the fire tax to include the Township's entire annual obligation to volunteer firefighters.

Nothing happened until the 2019 budget was recently introduced, requesting a half mill tax hike. Now Commissioners are taking a hard look at a fire tax. Commissioner Malissa Davis argued, "It makes no sense to borrow $1 million for a firetruck." Commissioners have asked for 10-year listing of purchases and contributions to the Township's two fire departments, hoping to arrive at a fair tax.

All money raised by a fire tax must by law go to fire department funding. The advantage to this is everyone is assured that the money will be used to support fire departments. The disadvantage, as pointed out by President Michael Hudak, is that the money will be unavailable for other emergencies that might arise.

Commissioner John Gallager wondered why this has to be a tax and not a fee like a stormwater management fee, which can legally be imposed on nonprofits. Solicitor Wendy Nicolosi answered that a Township only that a has the powers it is given by the state. It may impose a fire tax. It has no authority to assess a fee that would apply to nonprofits. A Township's power to impose an individual tax is limited as well.

Commissioners also speculated that a fire tax that includes the annual contribution to fire companies might make reduce or even eliminate the need for a property tax increase for other services.

In 2017, South Whitehall Township adopted a 0.47 mill tax hike so it could generate the revenue needed to replace fire equipment over time without heavy borrowing.

In Hanover Township, there is no debt and there has been no tax increase for 10 years. Part of the reason for this, according to Manager Jay Finnigan, is the fire tax. It enables the Township to plan and pay cash for replacement fire vehicles.

In addition to the fire tax discussion, Commissioners voted unanimously to stop the commercial use of the recycling center for yard waste, starting in January. This was recommended by Public Works Director Richard "Butch" Grube.

Under current policy, the Yard Waste facility is open to all township residents with proof of residency. This includes contractors who can prove that they are either from the township or are providing service to residents of the township. According to Grube, contractors are abusing this policy "Contractors from within the township can use the drop off no matter where they are actually doing work based on their home address," he said. "Also, outside contractors can use information from residents of the township to use the drop off center regardless of where they are working."

In the past, the Township was able to take the mulch to Green Pond Nursery for no charge. But the nursery ran out of room. "We were forced to find a hauler to take the material at a cost of $250.00 for an 80 ton tractor trail load. So far this year, we have needed to haul 7 of these loads out," noted Grube.

Kevin Lott Sole Applicant for Kraft's Seat

Two weeks ago, NorCo Council Prez Ken Kraft jumped ship. He stepped down, not just as President, but as a member of County Council. He's now working at the jail, where he belongs.

His salary is $74,076 a year, a significant increase from his $9,500 salary as Council President. Who will succeed Kraft on Council?

For months, it was rumored Kraft would be replaced by Kevin Lott. He's the business agent for the Lehigh Valley Carpenters Union as well as a Hellertown Borough council member.

Lott was instrumental in the 2015 prosecution of Bethlehem construction firm Salukas and White for defrauding workers of decent wages and the government of taxes by deliberately misclassifying employees as subcontractors. Lott accused the firm of "exploiting people" who will end up on welfare when they turn 65 because they will be unable to collect social security. "It's a shame on every level."

Lott also sued over the P3 bridge project, but withdrew his challenge.

He is among those who submitted letters seeking leniency for former Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski, who was convicted of political corruption. Lott made clear to me that he personally witnessed Pawlowski help the disadvantaged in Allentown, and that's why he spoke up for him.

Lott is the sole applicant for the County Council vacancy.

Though you never really know what will happen until it does, it seems likely that Lott will be appointed Thursday night.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Allegheny Co Dem Exec Director Forced Out For Being Patriotic and Religious

Mark Salvas, disgrace to Dems
Mark Salvas, 47, a Marine and Gulf War veteran, was hired as the Allegheny County Democratic Party Executive Director in September. But he's been forced out as a result of a Facebook posts from him and his wife. Yes, he's been held accountable for his wife's posts.

The Facebook post found to be so offensive is this: "I Stand For The Flag, I Kneel At The Cross."

“I’m not ashamed of my patriotism, not one bit. I fought for this country. I think I have a right to have a voice and be patriotic,” Salvas told CBS.

He has no problem with NFL players who want to take a knee, saying "That’s part of what the flag stands for. It gives them the right to do that.”

His wife asked for donations to help a white Pittsburgh police officer who has been charged in the shooting death of a black teenager. He's been held responsible for her actions because the New Democrats all know women can't think for themselves. They just pretend they can.

Democratic party officials are very upset and have a zero tolerance policy for Executive Directors who are religious and patriotic.

To make matters worse, Salvas is a white male. In 20 years, he'll be an old white male.

Half Mill Tax Hike Proposed in Bethlehem Tp

Bethlehem Tp Manager Doug Bruce confirmed after last night's Commissioners' meeting that he has proposed a half mill tax hike for next year. A skeleton of a spending plan is available online, and contains no budget message that might explain why a tax increase is necessary. Bruce did indicate that additional material will be uploaded to the Township website this week.

Bruce may propose, but it is Commissioners who dispose. Budget hearings are scheduled as follows:

Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov.10, 2018 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Browne Sued, Acknowledges Revenue Error in Faulty Pinsley Tax Certificate

Mark Pinsley wants very much to be a State Senator. He wants it so badly he announced his candidacy before being sworn into office as a South Whitehall Township Commissioner. He may have needed a head start because he's running against Pat Browne. He chairs the Appropriations Committee and is one of the most powerful officials in Harrisburg. A close ally of former Congressman Charlie Dent, Browne is known for his moderate views. Pinsley by contrast is on the fringes of the Democratic party. But a recent Browne flyer attacking Pinsley for unpaid corporate tax liens was a mistake. It was an honest mistake, but it was a mistake.

That flyer hit mailboxes last week. "Mark Pinsley. He'll raise your taxes. But won't pay his own." The flyer includes an excerpt from a Pa. Department of Revenue tax certificate showing that Pinsley is delinquent on taxes owed by one of his companies, DermaMed Solutions, LLC. 

On the day this flyer hit, Pinsley called a news conference and strongly denied that he was behind on any taxes. He called on Senator Browne to retract his accusation, and threatened to sue.

Pinsley made good on that threat on Monday, and sued Browne in Lehigh County court on a defamation/false light theory. He is represented by Allentown Attorney Matthew Mobilio.

A search of the Pa. Corporation Bureau reveals there are eight different DermaMed companies. There's DERMAMED ACQ., LLC, DERMAMED INTERNATIONAL, DERMAMED INTERNATIONAL, INC., DERMAMED SOLUTIONS, LLC, DERMAMED USA (with a Lenni, Pa. address), DERMAMED USA (Allentown address), DERMAMED USA, INC. and DERMAMED, INC.

That's a lot of DermaMed.

All these DermaMeds apparently confused a Revenue employee who prepared the tax lien certificate. As a result, a taxlien ceryificate was erroneously issued,naming Pinsley as a debtor for taxes that have no application to his business.

Last night, the Pat Browne for Senate campaign responded following the issuance of a statement by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue indicating the department’s error in issuing a tax lien notice against the company owned by Mark Pinsley:

“The Pat Browne for Senate campaign relied on public information regarding tax liens issued against Pennsylvania businesses, which was obtainable through the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue and its authorized personnel responsible for responding to public requests for such information.

“Following the Department of Revenue’s recognition of its error, the Pat Browne for Senate Campaign is taking the proper steps to respond to this acknowledgement accordingly and expeditiously.”

In the course of doing my own research, I saw a taxlien against DermaMedin Delaware County for a small sum, which was satisfied this year. The Pinsley campaign tells me that's the other DermaMed.

There are no DermaMed tax liens filed in Lehigh County, where Pinsley's business is located.

Monday, October 15, 2018

What's Going on in Pinsley Brown Tax Lien Dispute?

Senator Pat Browne has sent flyers claiming that his opponent, Mark Pinsley, had tax liens from his DemaMed business. Pinsley contends this is false and is threatening to sue. I am still gathering information, and hope to have a report for you on Tuesday.

Down With the Patriarchy!

If you're like me, you have probably noticed an increased hostility in recent months against those considered the ruling elite - old white males. We are apparently the chief reason for all of the world's problems. It's certainly true that we are quite often intolerant and bigoted. I have to tell you, my bowel movements alone could destroy the planet. But the very persons who condemn the flaws of miserable bastards like myself are themselves guilty of the same flaws.

I first noticed this phenomenon locally when Ray O'Connell was appointed Allentown's Mayor. I was actually amused to watch mostly white people line up and smear O'Connell because he is white and a senior.

Erin Keller, a candidate who herself is white, was loudly applauded when she called Allentown's current government "boys in the hood. White guys are making money; everyone else is floundering."

The angry mob wanted a convicted felon who was ineligible as a result of several felony drug convictions. They liked him because he is black.

"Give us Barabbas!" they cried.

I saw the angry mob again a few weeks later, this time at a NextGen debate for congressional candidates. I had to pay to get in that one. NextGen is all about protecting the "fundamental rights of every American" who (1) could afford the $5 admission fee; and (2) agreed with them. They denied the "fundamental rights" of John Morganelli, actually shouting him down as his opponents smiled.

Since that night, I see slurs all the time on Facebook, other form of social media and here.

What's going on, as NY Times David Brooks aptly observes, is "an epidemic of bigotry. Bigotry involves creating a stereotype about a disfavored group and then applying that stereotype to an individual you’ve never met. It was bigotry against Jews that got Alfred Dreyfus convicted in 1894. It was bigotry against young black males that got the Central Park Five convicted in 1990. It was bigotry against preppy lacrosse players that led to the bogus Duke lacrosse scandal."

Many of those who opposed Kavanaugh's confirmation did so because they know how privileged white people behave. Others are equally abhorrent of "the Left."

This is bigotry.

Up until now, I've mostly ignored this unhealthy hatred. But that changed this weekend, when two elected officials - Bethlehem Dem party boss Becky Wamsley and NorCo Council person Tara Zrinski - joined the circus. I defended Becky when she was unfairly smeared during her campaign by LV4All (who agree with them) elitists.

In a rant with bullshit statistics citing no source, Wamsley asks, "How many men do you personally know who have been falsely accused [of rape or sexual assault]? Not a one? Me either[sic]. Second question; How many people do you know that've [sic] been struck by lightning? Not a one? Me either [sic]. Lastly, how many woman do you know who have been raped or sexually assaulted? Again, I'll wait. Math is hard for some people."

Tara Zrinski incredulously responds, "Down with the patriarchy!" Wamsley gives her an "Amen!"

Now what false accusations of rape have to do with patriarchy is a mystery to me, but there it is.

Break out the guillotines!

Wamsley apparently missed the false accusations lobbed just a few months ago against GOP Congressional candidate Marty Nothstein. Like Nothstein, I have also been falsely accused of drugging a woman and raping her. Those kinds of accusations can be devastating because they are logically impossible to disprove.

Wamsley and Zrinski are both engaged in the very sexism, intolerance and bigotry they rightly condemn when it comes from men.

Wamsley has also slurred white males in some kind of goofy argument against assault rifles. "ARs are for WAR COMBAT, not the average, angry, ex-wife beater, white male," she says.

Do you detect just a little hatred there?

After taking her to task for her own hypocrisy, Wamsley responded on Facebook with "Beware of Republicans in Democrat's [sic] clothing." She later explained she was referring to me, although she did not mention me by name.

I'll out myself.

As for Zrinski, she believes "white males can get away with anything, shrouded by privileged [sic] and protected by the entourage of patriarchy, the ultimate fraternity."

Well, maybe she can explain how the patriarchy allowed her, a female, to get away with perjury.

When she was in the middle of a custody dispute with her ex, she and her then boyfriend (I assume he was a white male) went on a mini-vacation to New England, and brought her two boys with her. She put them in a separate room so she could have some alone time with her beau. But she lied to the court, telling the judge that the rooms were really a suite with connecting doors.

When Judge Emil Giordano discovered her lie, he sanctioned her $2,750 for her "perjury." (See NorCo Docket 2007-9468, Court Order dated 12/16/08, Paragraph 14).

The patriarchy never prosecuted her criminally, as it could have.

The hatred and intolerance I see in my own party is just as bad as the bigotry I see from some Republicans.

It is time to drop these stereotypes about the other tribe or admit you're both pretty much two sides of the same coin.

New Democrats are astonished that when they phone bank Democrats, these old white males tell them they intend to vote Republican. They has abandoned blue collar workers and the working poor. It has become elitist and more intolerant than the tea party members it condemns. While taking their money, Democrats have all but abandoned shrinking unions. The Affordable Health Care Act drove many away because healthcare is much less affordable now. Our children are unable to go to college without incurring monumental debt. Most of those in office are as wealthy and as entitled as the Republicans they decry.

Put simply, the Democratic Party needs an enema.

Weekly LV Police Blotter

Below is a weekly LV police blotter compiled from police department Facebook pages. If I missed something, please provide a link. If you have a comment that contributes, please share. I remind you that this thread is no place for pious condemnations of either police or the persons charged.

Theft From Vehicle and Fraudulent Use of Credit Card. - On Tuesday October 9, 2018 at 1352hrs Lower Saucon Police took a report of a theft from a motor vehicle at Maxx Fitness in the Saucon Square Shopping Center on Rte#378. The victim reported an unknown actor(s) smashed the passenger window of her vehicle and removed a purse. The purse contained a driver license, debit card and a credit card.

The pictured male fraudulently used a credit card belonging to the victim at the Villa clothing store at 1 W 4th Street Bethlehem, Pa to purchase 2 pair of Nike Airmax and 1 pair of green Air Jordan sneakers valued at $459.96.

If anyone has information related to the theft from vehicle or can identify the pictured male who fraudulently used the credit card please contact the Lower Saucon Police Department at 610-317-6110

Car break-ins in Hanover Tp. - Car break-ins again have been occurring over the last week in the township, primarily on Blair and Greenfield. All residents are urged to lock their car doors and make sure that their garage doors are down and secured. If anyone can identify the below persons, please contact Colonial Regional Police Department at 610-861-4820.

One surveillance photo reveals that two actors are involved.

Theft from vehicles reported in Brookfield Cir/Village Walk Dr area. - Macungie Police have received several calls about thefts from UNLOCKED vehicles in the Brookfield Circle and Village Walk Dr areas of the borough. The thefts occurred between Thursday, Oct 11 and early morning hours of Friday, Oct 12. Patrol units were dispatched to the area overnight but were unable to locate a suspect(s).

The reports we have taken all indicate the vehicles entered were UNLOCKED. The easiest way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to simply lock your car when not using it. Additionally it is a good idea to remove all valuables from in the cabin area.

If a resident has seen anything suspicious over night please contact Macungie Police at (610) 966-2222.

Crime in Emmaus.

Driving Under the Influence: Mario Balcazar, 32, of Allentown was arrested for Driving Under the Influence and Speeding on 9/3/18 in the 100 block of Main Street. He was transported to the Leigh County DUI Center and processed.

Criminal Mischief: Two 13 year old males from Emmaus were charged with Criminal Mischief on 10/1/18 after they damaged tires totaling $1,180.92 on 3 vehicles. Charges filed with Lehigh County Juvenile Court. A 3rd 13 year old male will be admitted into a juvenile diversion program at the Impact Project for his involvement in the incidents.

Criminal Mischief: reported on 9/25/18 in the unit block of S 5th Street. Actor damaged the rear window of victim’s Chevy Equinox causing $300 damage.

Theft: reported on 9/26/18 in the unit block of N 6th Street. Actor removed a collectable action figure valued at $50 from the victim’s garage.

Harassment: Fatima Huaman Ataski, 25, of Allentown was arrested for Harassment on 9/27 following a dispute in the 1300 block of Chestnut Street. A citation was filed at the Magistrate’s office.

Theft: reported on 9/28/18. Actor removed light bars valued at $180 from 2 vehicles parked in the 100 block of North Street

Criminal Mischief: reported on 10/1/18 in the 200 block of S 7th Street. A window valued at $100 was damaged by a BB.

Criminal Mischief: reported on 10/1/18 in the 500 block of Chestnut Street. Unknown actor damaged the right front tire on victim’s Kia Sportage. Estimated loss of $110.

Criminal Mischief: reported on 10/2/18 in the 1200 block of W Jubilee Street. Unknown actor damaged tires on victim’s Ford F250 and a trailer valued at $650.

Criminal Mischief: reported on 10/2/18 in the 600 block of Walnut Street. A window was damaged by a BB.

Criminal Mischief: reported on 10/2/18 in the 500 block of N 6th Street. Unknown actor damaged a screen on victim’s home causing $30 damage.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Nothstein Condemns Wild Attack Ad

Marty Nothstein
I was under the impression that Congressional candidate Susan Wild was way up in the polls. A double digit lead, some say. And let's not forget, this is the Year of the Woman. On top of that, her campaign coffers are overflowing with $1.1 million, most of it from California, New York and Massachusetts. I'd expect anyone in her position to be on cruise control. Instead, she's running a dark campaign that vilifies Marty Nothstein. I've already received several mailers with those grainy black-and-white mug shots. I expect to see one tomorrow claiming that Nothstein picks his nose. And one the day after that announcing he eats it, too. It's no surprise that she would run a TV ad claiming that Nothstein apparently wants to infect everyone with cancer.

Her cancer ad is disgusting.

That's her. She tries very, very, very hard to smile at events, but her default facial expression is a scowl. Maybe that's unavoidable. But every time I see her I am reminded that this is the person who, in the primary, promised fellow lawyer John Morganelli she would run a clean campaign. Then she broke her word.

Tim Silfies
At the Business Matters debate, Nothstein objected to the ad, saying it misrepresents his position. He made clear then that he supports insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. He wants to expand the pool of available insurers by allowing people to shop in states outside of Pennsylvania. That's exactly what Charlie Dent wanted, and no one tried to vilify him.

Wild never bothered to address Nothstein's objections.

Now Nothstein has called on opponent Susan Wild to retract what he terms a blatantly dishonest misrepresentation of his position on healthcare. This attack ad quotes a cancer survivor saying that Nothstein “wants to take away our insurance.” The ad offers no explanation for the claim because, Nothstein says, there is none.

“I am on record as supporting current law that requires insurers to cover preexisting conditions. Likewise, I am in favor of policies that would ensure health care for every citizen who wants it,” Nothstein said in a statement released to the press. “What I oppose is government forcing people to purchase policies they do not want and imposing plans that take away a patient’s choice of doctor.”

Nothstein says his own personal experience makes the spot especially offensive.

Susan Wild
“Because Wild did no research before making these charges, she didn’t realize that my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my sister are cancer survivors,” Nothstein said. “Nor is she aware that I’ve been active in fundraising efforts for a range of cancer-related health causes.”

Nothstein said he took special offense at the cynical manipulation of a cancer survivor by a candidate who should have known better.

“Using a cancer survivor as a campaign prop to foist a lie on voters, should give people pause when it comes to thinking Susan Wild has the principles or temperament to serve in Congress,” Nothstein said.

Okay, so that's what Nothstein says. What about Libertarian Tim Silfies? He's also running for Congress. Does he think Nothstein is over-reacting?

"Gross!" is his one-word takeaway. "It's part of the problem with the tribal warfare we have right now. The two parties are at constant war with one another instead of having an honest exchange of ideas."

Nothstein and Silfies have run on the issues. Wild is running on smears. Maybe her internal polling shows a closer race than newspapers claim.

Just so you know, I did ask Wild for a response to Nothstein's demand for a retraction. She ignored my request, just as her former employer, Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski, was wont to do during his criminal conspiracy.

Nothstein and Silfies are both right. If we want to reverse the politics of personal destruction and end this tribal politics, it's time to call out these personal smears.

Knock it off, Susan. She debases herself and the rest of us with that kind of campaign.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Morganelli Taps Kassis to Lead Domestic Violence Unit

L to R: Lori Sywensky, Suzanne Beck,
Abe Kassis and Dean Wilson 
NorCo DA John Morganelli announced yesterday that he has named veteran prosecutor Abe Kassis to head up the busy domestic violence unit. Kassis' unit handles 15-17% of the entire criminal caseload. Admitted to the bar in 1995, Kassis has been an Assistant District Attorney for the past 18 years.

Kassis is getting help. Morganelli has persuaded Attorney Judy Chaverri, a Berks County Public Defender who graduated from Villanova Law School, to join Team Kassis. She is fluent in Spanish, which Morganelli believes will be a great aid to victims whose primary language is Spanish.

That's not all. Morgaenelli has assigned Detective Dean Wilson, a Bethlehem Tp Police alumnus, to the unit. As a Bethlehem Tp police officer, Wilson developed the "Every 15 Minutes" program, designed to educate teens about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Morganelli has charged Wilson with designing a similar program for domestic violence.

These moves are made as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

When he first ran for DA, Morganelli committed to (1) increasing the number of female prosecutors; (2) expanding a Victim/Witness Assistance Program; (3) prohibiting part-time Assistant DAs from representing parties in protection from Abuse matters; and (4) creating a Domestic Violence Unit.

He has kept all four promises. In fact, 50% of Morganelli's prosecutors are female. 

Abe Kassis
The Domestic Violence Unit has existed for 20 years,and has been led by talented prosecutors who include Martricia McLaughlin, Teresa Miranda, Kelly Lewis, Jacqueline Taschner and Erika Farkas. Detectives assigned to that unit have included Reggie Cora, unfortunately deceased, and Frank Jordan, unfortunately retired.

Since enactment of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, Morganelli has noticed a two-thirds reduction in the overall rate of domestic violence. But as the criminal caseload suggests, the problem continues.

In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Morganelli was joined by Lori Sywesky ( a NorCo alum) of Turning Point and Suzanne Beck of  Lehigh Valley Crime Victims.

"Unfortunately, the work of this team is as necessary today as it was two decades ago," said Sywensky. "Each year at Turning Point, we continue to help over 2,500 of our friends and neighbors who are living in violent and abusive homes here in Northampton County. Many are just reaching out to our hotline for the first time and learning for the first time that there are options and choices available to them. For many hundreds of people, they will turn to law enforcement and the courts for help. When they find the bravery to do this, it's critical that the helpers - investigators, prosecutors and judges -.understand the seriousness of the danger in these relationships and respond to them with empathy.

"As we celebrate our 40th anniversary at Turning Point this year. we've been asking people to share with us stories about their personal turning points. One in particular really illustrates to me just how powerful this work can be that we're doing. A person named Jan shared with is that she remembers standing in an elevator with a big smile on her face. Someone asked her, 'Why are you smiling?,' and she stated, 'Because I'm finally safe and happy.'"

"Victims and survivors of domestic violence present differently than victims of other crimes," added Suzanne Beck."Many often minimize and recant or even altogether deny their abuse as a result of the power and control that permeates their relationships.Many victims have been physically, psychologically, socially and financially abused for so long that they distrust anyone who tries to help them.

"to help victims regain trust in themselves and in the justice system, it is imperative that the process offers consistency and continuity. Specially trained prosecutors and detectives, just like the ones here, have a better opportunity to build relationships with victims and ensure that consistency and continuity. Domestic violence units like those here in Northampton County are indeed best practises.

'The ultimate goal, the reason we're all here today, is to keep victims safe."

Hanover Tp (NC) Introduces 10th Straight No-Tax-Hike Budget

Chair John Diacogiannis
On Tuesday night, Hanover Township (NC) Manager Jay Finnigan provided Supervisors with his proposed budget for 2019. He is recommending they hold the line on taxes for the 10th straight year. He has also cut spending by $200,000. There are also no plans to borrow money for anything.

The Township currently has zero debt.

The millage rate, which has remained the same since 2008 and includes a fire tax of 0.5 mills, will hold steady at 3.90 mills if Supervisors go along.

In other good news, Chairman John Diacogiannis announced that Hanover and Lower Nazareth Townships have reached agreement in principle with the Colonial Regional Police Department on a new contract for the officers. He expects Supervisors to vote on it at their October 23 meeting.

Supervisor Jack Nagle is in China and was absent.

"He defected," claims Public Works Director Vince Milite.

Pa-7 Congressional Debate on Business Matters: Analysis

I've already told you briefly about the Pa-7 Congressional debate taped for WFMZ-TV69's Business Matters on Tuesday.  It included Democrat Susan Wild, Republican Marty Nothstein and Libertarian Tim Silfies. I nearly missed it because I was given directions to Coney Island in Scranton for some reason. I arrived just as the crew was getting the 175-person audience fired up to applaud wildly at the beginning of the show.

This was a show. That's my main problem with it. A few weeks ago, I listened to a Pa-7 Congressional forum at WDIY's "Lehigh Valley Discourse," i.e. Lehigh Valley Elitists. Now that's the worst show, not just at WDIY, but perhaps in all of radiodom. It is so bad that it has included disgusting guests like me. But when Alan Jennings hosted the three Congressional candidates, he let them provide detailed answers to well-considered questions. The result is that all three candidates sounded great. There were no gotcha' moments or pretend arguments.

This pattern continued at the CACLV annual luncheon, in which all three Congressional candidates were given ten minutes to explain what each would do to lessen poverty. 

A debate format is different. A TV debate is one in which the candidates are more or less limited to sound bites and gotcha' moments. In a country and congressional district that is already incredibly divided, a debate can drive us further apart

What made things worse is that all three candidates were blinded by Tony Iannelli's socks.

I hope they recover. 

Tony made a point, at the beginning of each segment, of complimenting the candidates for putting themselves out there. He also should have insisted on civility from the audience.

Throughout the debate, I was appalled to see Lehigh County Comm'r Amy Zannelli and two female friends  cheer loudly just about every time Wild opened her mouth. They loudly booed Marty Nothstein a few times, too.

I came to this debate to hear the candidates, not Citizen Amy Zannelli and her mini-gang. If we really do care about civility in public dialogue, audience members should have the basic decency to let the contenders speak.

If I had to call this, I'd say none of them looked very good, but none of them looked very bad.

It's hard for me to buy into Wild's claim that her top priority would be campaign finance reform when most of her money comes from special interests in California, New York and Massachusetts. Nothstein said candidates should be limited to money from their district. That's the very point made eons ago by Democrat Russ Shade when he ran against Julie Harhart. 

Last week, Nothstein issued a news release claiming he wants to be known as the education congressman, and will raise private funds for after school activities in Allentown. He failed to mention this even once during his debate. That was a missed opportunity.

Silfies constantly pointed out that the parties represented by Nothstein and Wild are dysfunctional and have led to gridlock. He's right, but did a poor job of explaining to Tony how he'd make a difference all by his lonesome. At one point, he actually claimed we need to be more that bipartisan. We should be nonpartisan. Then why the hell is he running as a Libertarian?

The zingers of the debate, at least for me, came when Wild was arguing she'd be great in Congress because, as a lawyer, "I have to work with a lot of very difficult people."

Nothstein responded, "We have a lot of lawyers in Washington now. It hasn't been working."

Wild came right back and said those lawyers are needed because "Congress makes laws."

They do, but they also appropriate money. A lot of it.

If I had a question, I'd ask Wild and Nothstein to state where they differ with their own parties. I'd ask Silfies to explain where he agrees with the mainstream parties.

(I took a lot of pics, but they are all terrible. So I leave you with Tony's sock.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

McClure Announces 2% COLA For Retirees

At the semi-annual luncheon of retirees yesterday, NorCo Exec Lamont McClure announced he will be proposing a COLA at the retirement board meeting later this month. Though he failed to say how much, I am informed it is two per cent.

Nothstein Sues Velodrome, Morning Call

Yesterday, Republican Marty Nothstein participated with Democrat Susan Wild and Libertarian Tim Silfies in an hour-long Congressional debate being taped for WFMZ-TV69's Business Matters. The show, moderated by host Tony Iannelli, was shot in front of a live audience of about 175 people at Coordinated Health in South Whitehall Township. The show will air Oct 15 and 22 at 7:30 pm. Though no one mentioned it, this debate comes fast on the heels of a 108-page lawsuit that Nothstein filed on Monday in Lehigh County Court. He names The Veldrome, Andrew H Ralston, Jr and the Morning Call as Defendants. The eight-count complaint, filed by Macungie lawyer R. Eric Hall, seeks over $50,000 in damages on each count.

According to the Complaint, Nothstein had been employed as Executive Director at The Velodrome since 2008. That's a charitable nonprofit.  It promotes cycling. Nothstein, a Silver and Gold Medal Olympic athlete, was at one time the fastest person on a bicycle.  Ralston is an attorney.

A little background here about Ralston, before I move on with the Complaint. His LinkedIn page shows that he was employed by the Gross McGinley law firm between 2003 and 2016. That just happens to be the very law firm where Wild was employed  It also happens to be the very same law firm that defended The Morning Call in several defamation lawsuits. In 2016, Ralston left Gross McGinley for another law firm, White and Williams   

Getting back to the Complaint, Nothstein claims he noticed that Ralston was engaged in "self-dealing," i.e. personally benefiting from his position of trust, by steering legal work to his law firm. He allegedly "funneled tens of thousands of legal work" to his law firm even though The Velodrome in previous years had little or no legal expenses.

In 2016, Nothstein began to complain about this self-dealing, and confronted Ralston. Then, on October 29, 2017, Nothstein announced his candidacy for the seat being vacated by then Congressman Charlie Dent. A scant 11 days later, an "anonymous tipster" contacted USA Cycling, and accused him of unspecified sexual misconduct that supposedly had occurred 18 years ago, when he was in training for the Sydney Olympics.

USA Cycling passed this anonymous tip to Safesport, a federal entity established by Congress to investigate accusations of sexual misconduct by Olympic athletes.

Safesport notified Ralston of its investigation on Feb 9, 2018, and just three days later, Ralston handed Nothstein a "confidential" letter placing him on indefinite unpaid suspension. He was instructed to turn in his ID card, keys and credit card that day and was even warned, "There is no reason for you to be at the velodrome."  He was also muzzled from discussing his suspension with other board members or Velodrome employees.

At the same time he was muzzling Nothstein, Ralston is alleged to have told Velodrome staff, "Marty no longer works here." He also declared he had a "plan" to replace Nothstein.

Nothstein avers that Ralston acted unilaterally, in violation of by-laws that would require him to consult with other directors. He is alleged to have done this so he could continue to milk the Velodrome with legal bills.  He then ransacked Nothstein's office and took various items, including high end bicycles and mementos from Nothstein's cycling career.

Nothstein did eventually get one bicycle returned to him.

According to the Complaint, Ralston and other Velodrome board members then began leaking the existence of this investigation, in direct violation of Safesport rules requiring strict confidentiality. These rules exist to protect both victim and accused. Ralston is alleged to have leaked the investigation to The Morning Call.

The Morning Call began contacting this woman. It also obtained emails or minutes from Ralston in which he discussed this supposedly "confidential" matter with board members  Before it published its first story, Nothstein representatives offered an affidavit from this supposed victim, strongly denying the anonymous accusation of unspecified sexual misconduct. They were spurned, and The Morning Call published a story without bothering to inform its readers of these denials. In doing so, the newspaper cast Nothstein in a false light.

As explained in the lawsuit, the story intentionally omitted information that cleared Nothstein. (I personally  think fundamental fairness would demand that the newspaper inform its readers that the very victim of these anonymous accusations had denied them.) 

After a Nothstein news conference on the day this story was published, the paper did admit it had been offered affidavits, but Nothstein placed too many restrictions on them. This is contradicted in the Complaint. The only restriction Nothstein wanted was one that would require the newspaper to honor this woman's request for confidentiality.

The decent thing.

According to the Complaint, "There is no more compelling evidence than an unequivocal denial from the woman involved in the anonymous accusations, and it was a gross violation of journalistic standards,ethics and integrity for the Morning Call to refuse to review the aforesaid AFFIDAVIT."

On August 23, Safesport cleared Nothstein of any sexual misconduct. By that time, the damage had been done. As Nothstein said yesterday at his debate, "It was devastating to me, devastating to my family and devastating to my campaign."   

Nothstein has also sued the Velodrome for continuing to use his name and likeness to draw revenue and for suspending and then firing him in violation of their own by-laws.

Ralston's Denials -  Ralston is defending himself in Facebook court. After claiming all the allegations are false, he issues a threat: "please please repeat these allegations outside of the pleadings so I can sue you for defamation.” After saying, "I want to, but can’t, say more right now," he does.
1. I haven’t and don’t make a goddamned nickel off of legal work that was or is done for the Velodrome. Zero. $0.00. I’m a salaried employee of my firm, and voluntarily did the exact right thing by refusing any remuneration related to this client. The decision to hire my firm was and is the Board’s, with me recused, and based upon merit. The claim that I am unethical is outrageously false. If these allegations are not withdrawn immediately, I will seek sanctions under Rule 1023 against Nothstein and his attorney.
2. I didn’t leak anything to The Morning Call, or anyone else, about Marty Nothstein. As soon as I can, I will be asking The Call to confirm that I am not the source that they cite in their article about Marty Nothstein. I have no idea who their source is. If these allegations are not withdrawn immediately, I will seek sanctions under Rule 1023 against Nothstein and his attorney.
3. All actions taken by the Velodrome related to Marty Nothstein were taken by the Board of the Velodrome, not me. I never acted unilaterally, ever. All decisions were that of the Board. If these allegations are not withdrawn immediately, I will seek sanctions under Rule 1023 against Nothstein and his attorney.
4. I have not ever, am not now, and will not in the future support any candidate for Congress in this election. I have never “conspired” with anyone, including but not limited to The Morning Call, to support Marty’s opponent, or to hurt Marty. If these allegations are not withdrawn immediately, I will seek sanctions under Rule 1023 against Nothstein and his attorney.
5. Nothstein’s attorney is his close friend, and did legal work for the Velodrome when Nothstein gave it to him. Nothstein wanted him to take over the defense of a lawsuit brought against the Velodrome related to the conduct of Nothstein — which request was obviously refused by the board. Hall also has personal animosity, clearly exhibited in the Complaint, against my firm — where he used to work. Hall also has personal involvement with aspects of certain relevant facts underlying decisions about Nothstein that were made by the Board.
He really seems to like Rule 1023. Ralston should stop defending himself. He is demonstrating the principle that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.

(I'll give you my take on the debate itself on Thursday).

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Half Mill Tax Hike Proposed in Bethlehem Tp

Bethlehem Township Manager Doug Bruce confirmed at the conclusion of last night's Commissioners' meeting that he is seeking a half mill tax increase next year. A skeleton of next year's spending plan is posted online, but is devoid of any other material, including a budget message explaining why a hike is necessary. He proposes, but it is Commissioners who have the final say.

Budget hearings are scheduled as follows:

Monday, Oct. 22, 2018 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov.10, 2018 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Four Forums Remain for LV Congressional Candidates.

The three Congressional candidates for Pa-7 (Lehigh Valley) are Republican Marty Nothstein, Democrat Susan Wild and Libertarian Tim Silfies. I have seen them together at WDIY and a CACLV luncheon. There are four forums left.

Today: WFMZ's Business Matters Program
Coordinate Health, 3435 Winchester Rd., Allentown, PA 18104
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
This is a closed taping, but the program will air Oct 15th and Oct 22, 7:30 PM

Thursday, Oct 18: Lehigh Valley Economic Development Forum
Coca-Cola Park (club level) 1050 Iron Pigs Way, Allentown, PA 18109
4 - 5:30 PM
Live, tickets may be reserved

Tuesday, Oct. 23rd: PBS 39 Debate
Northampton Community College (Lipkin theater), 3835 Green Pond Rd, Bethlehem, PA 18020
7 - 8 PM
Live, tickets may be reserved

Thursday, Oct. 25th: League of Women Voters Debate
Gracedale Senior Living Facility (Chapel), 2 Gracedale Ave, Nazareth, PA 18064
6:30-8 PM
No reserved seating

What is Teladoc?

Last week, in my story about next year's no-tax-hike budget in NorCo, I was a bit surprised when a county worker said he orshe had no knowledge of TelaDoc. "[I] don't know what it is and would like to know how many employees are actually using it and find it valuable. Would you be able to find that out for us Bernie?"

Teladoc is a mobile app you can download on your smart phone to put you into near immediate contact, by video or voice call, with one of over 3,100 licensed health care professionals. It began in Northampton County in June with an email blast to all county employees. At that time, 483 employees registered. As of September, there are 624 employees registered.

Though the county pays for this service, it costs the employee nothing. He or she is also spared the inconvenience of a trip to a doctor's office as well as a co-pay.

The average wait time is seven minutes.

The top diagnosis is acute frontal sinusitis. The top prescription is amoxicillin.

Among those who have used Teladoc in NorCo, 69% are women,and calls are most frequent between midnight and 8 am. That makes sense. Children often wake up in the middle of the night when they get sick. Mothers likely use the service to call in their children's symptoms.
The service is used most often on Mondays, and mostly by employees between 31-45 years old.

What Executive Lamont McClure likes most about Teladoc is how much money it saves, both for the county and employee. Between June and September, it has saved $97,196, or $517 per phone visit.

Those 624 registrations amount to 3,500 lives covered by this app.

Monday, October 08, 2018

LV Congressional Candidates on Kavanaugh

The three Congressional candidates for Pa-7 (Lehigh Valley) are Republican Marty Nothstein, Democrat Susan Wild and Libertarian Tim Silfies. WFMZ-TV69 has reactions of Nothstein and Wild, and I contacted Silfies.

Marty Nothstein: "My supporters were energized before the Kavanaugh debacle but I have seen an increase of support since the Democrats turned the confirmation hearing into a circus. The nomination is Exhibit A when it comes to a hyper-partisan atmosphere that hard working Americans detest about Washington DC. I pledge to be a voice of reason when it comes to making decisions that affect our citizens.”

Susan Wild: "In his hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Judge Kavanaugh displayed a complete lack of judicial temperament and this type of behavior does not befit a Supreme Court justice and suggests a lack of impartiality and respect that is very troubling."

Tim Silfies: "It was a complete, pathetic fiasco. This is the embodiment of why we need something different than these two parties. The willingness of politicians to destroy people's lives just to get a win for their side never ceases to amaze me."

NorCo Sheriff Warrant Sweeps, 9/21-9/28

Northampton County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Warrant Unit, along with PA Board of Probation and Parole agents, made five arrests during warrant sweeps Sep.21-28.

Jarred Croll, 22, was taken into custody without incident in the 200 block of Broadway in Bangor Borough. He was wanted by Northampton County Adult Probation for violating conditions of his supervision. His original charges are 2 counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on his case. From his Facebook page, Croll appears to be a member or veteran of the US Army's 82d Airborne, one of our best military units.

Amber Stanmets, 27, was taken into custody without incident in the 100 block of Dewey Street in East Bangor Borough. Stanmets was wanted by the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department for failing to appear for Criminal Court for the offense of Driving Under the Influence. She is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on her case. Her Facebook page indicates she is a mother.

Miguel Vazquez-Pedraza, 50, was taken into custody in the 700 block of North 12TH Sreet in Allentown. Vazquez-Pedraza was wanted by the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department for failing to appear at a bail revocation hearing on charges of stalking, defiant trespass, loitering and prowling at night time and harassment. He was found hiding in a bedroom. Vazquez-Pedraza is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on his csse.

Victor Sokoloski, 55, was taken into custody without incident in the 1000 block of Maple Street in Bethlehem. Sokoloski was wanted by Northampton County Adult Probation for violating conditions of his supervision. His original charges are DUI. He is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on his case.

Terrell Brunson, 43, was apprehended in the 200 block of Crest Avenue in Bethlehem City. Brunson was wanted by the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department for failing to self-commit on felony charges of possession with intent to deliver cocaine. Brunson had to be removed from a vehicle that he was allegedly living in. A 3 month old infant was present with him. Northampton County Children and Youth were called to the scene and the infant was turned over to a family member. Brunson is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on his case.

NorCo DCED Recommends $840,000 in CIPP Grants

NorCo' CIIP (Community Investment Partnership Program) was established under former Executive John Brown to award table games taxes with an emphasis on aging communities. Awards, which require a dollar for dollar match, go to façades, capital improvements, operations and last year, $730,000 was awarded. This year, $850,000 has been budgeted, and awards will be announced when the 2019 budget is approved. NorCo's Department of Community and Economic Development (NCDCED) is recommending $849,202 in grants. This is based on a review process that included the assistance of two Council members. Nearly $1.5 million had been sought.

Bangor Area School District - $15,000 recommended for improvements to one room school house.

Bangor - $13,412 recommended for Memorial Park Playground Improvements

Bath - $5,000 recommended for adaptive traffic signal design study.

Bethlehem Economic development Corp. - $5,000 recommended for Southside Arts District streetscape improvements.

Freemansburg - $15,000 recommended for façade program.

Easton Boys and Girls club - $15,000 recommended for Easton Playground and Gardens project.

Community Action Committee of LV - $25,000 recommended for city lights and planning.

Community Action Dev Corp of Bethlehem - $3,000 recommended for Spanish language business development.

Center for Animal Health and Welfare - $4,290 recommended for Operation clean Air.

Bethlehem - $15,000 recommended for a Christmas lighting and decor plan.

Bethlehem - $50,000 recommended for S. New St. streetscape improvements.

Easton - $50,000 recommended for Northampton Street lighting.

First United Church of Christ - $20,000 recommended for steeple restoration.

Forks Tp - $40,000 recommended for Sullivan Trail streetscape improvements.

Greater Easton Dev Partnership - $30,000 recommended for Easton Ambassadors (West Ward)

Greater Easton Dev Partnership - $47,000 recommended for Easton façade program.

Habitat for Humanity - $0 recommended for habitat home ownership program (received $40,000 in past for project that has not been completed)

Hellertown - $25,000 recommended for façade program.

Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley -$25,000 recommended for renovations at 520-26 E 4th St.

Lower Nazareth - $0 recommended for recreation and parks plan (received funding via CDBG).

Lower Saucon Tp - $20,000 recommended for Seidersville hall interior modifications.

Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living - $4,500 recommended for job development and staff training.

Moravian Historical Society - $9,000 recommended for fire suppression system design and archeology work.

Nazareth Council of Governments - $10,000 recommended for multi-municipal animal control officer.

NCDCED/Hellertown - $22,000 recommended for ADA improvements at Dimmick Park.

NCDCED/Lower Nazareth - $25,000 recommended fornewburg Community Park playground.

NCDCED/NorCo - $20,000 recommended for roofing and bathroom ADA improvements.

NCDCED/NorCo Office of Aging - $25,000 recommended for senior center warming and cooling station and restrooms.

NCDCED/NorCo Public Works - $40,000 recommended for ADA playground replacement.

NCDCED/Tatamy - $15,00 recommended for stairlift and playground equipment.

Nazareth Economic development Comm'n - $20,000 recommended for façade program.

Nazareth Economic development Comm'n - $15,000 recommended for new downtown manager salary.

Northampton Community College - $50,000 recommended for Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Pen Argyl - $40,000 recommended for revitalization plan.

Plainfield Tp - $25,000 recommended for sewage facilities plan.

Plainfield Tp - $0 recommended for fire department emergency generator. (My notes on this are vague)

Portland Boro Water Authority - $0 recommended for State St. Bridge Waterline replacement.

Roseto - $21,000 recommended for storm sewer drains, but $0 recommended for ambulance.

Third Street Alliance - $25,000 recommended for critical electrical repairs.

Via Events - $20,000 recommended for consultant to work on marathon course.

West Easton- $10,000 recommended forwar Memorial Park Development.

College Student Visits Whitehall PD

Public perception of police is pretty bad among black, and to a lesser extent, Hispanic segments of society. The recent police shooting death of an unarmed Hispanic male outside of Dorney Park stirred up some hostile feelings here locally, even though the officer involved faces voluntary manslaughter charges.  Against that backdrop, a college student who acknowledged she harbored a negative attitude towards law enforcement asked Whitehall police if she could spend some time with them for a role reversal project. They agreed, and this is her story. 

“To Serve and Protect “ these are words you will see on every single police car no matter where you are in the United States. The day in the life of an officer was something I never expected myself to do. I chose to spend a few hours and go on a ride along with the Whitehall Police Department because this is a role I have never considered doing before and being in the presence of police officers is a true fear of mine. Growing up I was afraid of the police, and this same fear has followed me into adulthood. I have always been a law-abiding citizen and have never had the urge to break the law yet every time I see an officer or a police car my hands begin to sweat and my heart begins to race. A lot of this fear comes from growing up in a household that was unstable, I was surrounded by things I knew were not legal and I worried constantly that the “mean” police would come and take me and my sisters away. Now with everything going on in the news, I have grown even more weary of the men and women in blue. My thoughts towards officers have always been that they think they are better than everyone and they abuse their power. My weariness of officers has always made me walk on the opposite side of the street from them and I always evert eye contact. Yet this exercise has opened my eyes and made these brave men and women seem much more human to me. “To Serve and Protect” now makes sense and the wonderful people I was lucky enough to spend the day with has cleansed me of my fears.

My day began by meeting Lieutenant Gregory Bealer at the Lehigh Street Precinct. He greeted me very professionally at first making sure all the paperwork was in order. Once I was granted access into the facility his whole demeanor changed. He smiled and seemed excited. All of a sudden he became human to me, he is a gray-haired man with smile lines which is very telling. I instantly felt comfortable with him, something I was not expecting. I walked around meeting all the administration women, learning how much paperwork is actually involved in police work was baffling. The woman who is in charge of keeping the records informed me that they have to keep murder files for 100 plus years after the case, which surprised me. Why keep something that will outlive the people who were involved in the crime in the first place? The reason; there is no statute of limitation for murder in Pennsylvania. The record room smelled of old books and had one full wall filled with folders, slowly they are becoming digital but must keep paper copies on certain cases. This was like any other office job, just with much more sensitive material

Next, we went upstairs to meet the captain, as we ascended the stairs I could hear his booming voice on a phone call and with each step, my anxiousness increased. Was this the kind of officer I had been expecting, the ones I had been afraid of my whole life? Once the captain was off the phone we were introduced, he was much younger than I expected, his room was large and very put together, everything had its place, the room seemed very telling of the kind of person that the captain was. His presence demanded respect, he was well groomed and a bit intimidating. However, this first perception was not very accurate, as soon as Lieutenant Bealer introduced me the captain became much warmer than he seemed before, greeted me kindly with a handshake and asked me questions about myself. The more and more I spoke with all these men and women the more my self-worth seemed to increase, they were eager to show me what they put their time into every day and they were interested in me as well. They joked with each other as any friends would. They reminded me of my soccer team growing up, everyone had and was appreciated for the work they put in. Being in their presence definitely made my self-worth increase, I felt important, like what I had to say/ask mattered. I asked Lieutenant Bealer if he felt his self-worth increased after becoming an officer and he responded with a resounding “Absolutely, most join to help people, we all get a sense of pride in doing the right thing.” I could feel this pride beaming off of all of them as I walked around the building, it was infectious.

Next, I was taken into the evidence room, what a menacing place. The rack on the back wall was overflowing with boxes full of murder cases, there was a fridge to my left full of sexual assault kits, the storage to my right was full of guns, next to that a locker full of drug paraphernalia, and a small case filled to the brim with surveillance videos. Looking at all this made me feel instantly small, these men and women have to see some of the most gruesome and unexplainable things, things that I could never begin to understand. In this moment my life in social comparison to theirs seemed a lot less important. I know in my heart I could never withstand seeing the things that were now kept in boxes. The two officers in there went about their duties as if it were nothing. In my eyes that takes a lot of strength. I was shown a few very interesting forensic techniques they use, however it is definitely not as cut and dry as the movies make it. These officers have to patiently wait for results sometimes more than a few months, this frustrated me. Trying to see through their eyes, really opened mine. They do all this work and then hit a wall while they wait for the information to come back, meanwhile, they are being questioned by the people also waiting for their results. Everything takes a lot of time when you’re an officer and patience is definitely a virtue in this profession. The more I learned the more I understood why I had previously perceived the police as “monsters”. Standpoint theory, “the theory that a person’s social position, power, culture, or background influences how the person perceives the behavior of others”(70 Beebe, Beebe, Redmond) plays a great role in this exercise. If I saw everything that these men and woman saw on a daily basis, and had to patiently wait on cases that I was invested in I would hold myself in the same respect as them. Everyone is guilty until proven innocent. This defense mechanism makes sense, how could you be anything but cynical when dealing with things of this manner. A quote from Lieutenant Bealer,”this changes your everyday life, my ex-wife used to ask me why I would look in every store when we would be walking in the mall and I would tell here it is just a natural instinct to survey the area, but it’s hard to explain things like that to anyone.” Their social position is of an authoritative nature, they need people to respect their authority in order to do their jobs. I as a civilian took this as them abusing their power and thinking they are better than everyone, where in reality it’s to protect us and to protect themselves.

I wrote a questionnaire for Lieutenant Bealer so that I could better put myself in his shoes, I asked him how being an officer impacted other areas of his life. From just the few hours we had spent together I could feel how much these men and women sacrifice. His answers only reaffirmed my initial feeling. He said “being an officer puts a lot of stress on other areas of your life, there is a very high divorce rate, 70%, there are very long inconsistent hours, many missed holidays and special occasions and it makes you very unemotional because you try to protect the people in your life from what you see every day and they, in turn see it as you hiding things from them.” This is not verbatim but what I had written in my notes. This made me look at myself a bit differently, I am about to get married and I tell my fiance everything, how would I feel if I couldn't do that. Here these people are putting their lives on the line and because of this, they are almost isolated. If I was in his shoes my looking glass self would be 100% encompassed in being an officer, you're very isolated from other people outside of the department because they can never truly understand what is going on inside of your mind. The men and women that surround Lieutenant Bealer are like a big family, they all reinforce the idea of being an officer. If I was in his place this would be the only thing that would make sense to me, they are the same and they're the only ones that understand the struggle of living a life outside of being an officer.

I do not feel that this exercise changed my self-concept at all. As much as I tried to see through their eyes I know I never could fully understand the weight of being an officer. I got to hold a taser and feel the weight of an AR-15, I got to see the strength and obedience of their police dog Mex thanks to Officer Apgar, I was shown the ins and outs of being an officer yet I could never imagine wearing their shoes. I am an artist, a lover of life, this profession consumes them. They are much stronger than I could ever be. I do not feel my material or social self was influenced in any way because as I stated before I could never be them. My spiritual self, on the other hand, was affected, my beliefs about officers have completely changed, instead of fear I feel safety, my view of them had once been dark but now I feel the calmness that is associated with the color blue like their uniforms.

Perception is a funny thing from the outside looking in on any group you can believe that your opinions are right because they are unchallenged. When you put yourself in their shoes and see the world from their eyes you learn that not all is as it appears. Nothing is black and white, life is constantly grey, especially when it comes to perceptions of others. You can never really know someone or something until you are in their place. I learned so much from this group. I learned that doing the right thing is something to be proud of, that everyone no matter their choice of profession are just human. These people are not robots they have feelings and have to internalize a lot of darkness so that we can all remain safe. They truly showed me how real they are, everyone has bad days and everyone makes mistakes, nobody's perfect and that's ok. I felt a lot of pride being around these men and women something I was shocked to feel, my whole life I viewed these people as monsters when in reality they are closer to angels. They are people just like you and me, going to work and going home to their families. I have never seen officers are regular people before and this has truly opened my eyes. My perception of them was dead wrong and I learned from this exercise that I should not judge until I can fully understand what it’s like to live in that person's shoes.