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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, August 16, 2018

PaNewsMedia: Journalists NOT Enemy of the People

From Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association: On May 30, 1783, the Pennsylvania Evening Post and Daily Advertiser published its first daily edition, becoming the first daily newspaper not only in Pennsylvania, but in our young nation. Today, more than 200 daily and weekly newspapers across the commonwealth carry on the ideals of not only that newspaper, but the Constitution and the free press it ensures. Today, we stand with many other newspapers across the country to defend our profession and the communities we serve.

We are NOT Fake News. Journalists pledge to report real, honest and credible news. We go to school to learn how to tell people’s stories, record history, sift through the hazes of propaganda and uncover the truth. We cover the stories and uncover the information everyone in the community needs to make informed decisions on who to vote for, where to eat, and what to buy.

Mistakes are NOT Fake News. Journalists do their best to report truthful information. In today’s world of the 24-hour news cycle, sometimes we make a mistake in the rush to sort through conflicting information and tell a story. We then do our best to correct the error and learn from it. This misinformation happens for a variety of reasons, but the mistake is not deliberate nor is it malicious.

News you don’t like is NOT Fake News. Not all news is happy news. We cover the tragedies, the crime, the tax hikes, the shady backroom deals. Just because it makes us uncomfortable, or angry, doesn’t mean it’s any less true. Journalists would not be doing their jobs if they didn’t cover the things that unsettle us. Many times, those are the things that impact our lives the most.

Opinions are NOT Fake News. The editorials and opeds we write and publish are just that – opinion. We endorse candidates based on the information we have and who we think will best serve our community. You may agree with us, or you may not. That’s OK. Our job is to provide you with the facts so you can form your own opinion and make your own informed decisions.

Journalists are NOT the enemy of the people. We are the people. We live in the communities we cover and, just like everyone else, want those communities to succeed. For communities to be at their best, the people who live in them need to know what is happening. Journalists are the eyes, ears, and voice of the people we serve. We sit at the school board meetings so you know who the next principal will be. We attend the town council meetings so you know which company is building in your backyard. We ask tough questions of government officials so you know where and how your tax dollars are being spent.

For every candidate we investigate, there’s a small business owner we profile. For every tax hike we report, there’s a high school football/basketball/soccer win we celebrate. For every congressman we question, there’s a charitable event we share. There is nothing fake about the communities, the people, the businesses we cover. There is nothing fake about our loyalty to those same communities, people and businesses.

We are not perfect. We know that. We also know that the news we provide can play a vital role in keeping our communities safe and economically sound. We cannot allow our leaders to erode the public’s trust in the media. Doing so would also erode the quality of information you receive, affecting the decisions you make.

The First Amendment is just 45 words in length, but they are mighty. It guarantees our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Journalists are your safety valves, whistleblowers and reporters-in-chief who cover everything from what is going on in your town, to the cat stuck in the tree. And, we are passionate about our duties to document the history of our communities and serve as watchdogs to protect the public’s interests… your interests.

NorCo Gets Clean Bill of Financial Health

Under Northampton County's Home Rule Charter, an independent certified public accountant must audit the County's finances every year. Nick Hoefel and Jill Gilbert of RKL presented their findings to County Council yesterday. The county is in good health financially, with only one problem noted, thanks to the General Purpose Authority (GPA).

How healthy is the County? Its statement of net position, known in the private sector as the balance sheet, shows that the County has total assets valued at $321 million, and deducting liabilities, a total net position of $123 million. When money restricted for different projects and programs is set aside, there are $25 million in unrestricted funds. This is the county's "play with" money.

Hoefel warned that "play with" money might be in negative territory next year. That's because the county's liability on post-retirement benefits, which currently is $53 million, may have to be included in next year's balance sheet.

The audit also shows that Gracedale, the county's nursing home, earned nearly $500,000 in 2017. 

This year's audit included the GPA, even though it is a separate body. In previous years, the GPA was audited separately from the County. Hoefel explained that it now must be considered a "component unit." This is because of the P3 bridge project , in which the County has guaranteed the debt incurred to replace or repair 32 bridges.

The problem identified at the GPA is one it has had for years. It's a lack of segregation of duties. That never mattered before the P3 bridge project, but now is considered a "material weakness" that must be addressed. It is being addressed, too. Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron has proposed a solution in which the county's fiscal department will handle the finances with internal controls that will prevent or detect fraud.

The RKL audit also recommends that the county establish a formal process for the disposal of assets that are no longer needed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Shapiro's Grand Jury Report Charges No Crime

Attorney General Josh Shapiro has released a devastating account of child sexual abuse that includes over 300 priests and over 1,000 children. Even worse, it chronicles a systematic cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy. I hope it helps at least some of the victims find closure. But let me add the following caveats.

First, it is a report, not an indictment. Not a single of these hundreds of priests has been charged with anything. Though the torches and pitchforks are out, the grand jury has essentially admitted it is unable to prove even one crime.

Second, it is almost entirely old news, going back as far as the '60s. I could look any human institution and come up with a devastating account of how it has operated over the past 50 years. The number of corrupt officials in Lehigh Valley local government would number in the thousands, with crimes extending from bribery to illegal wiretaps to very real police brutality, in which confessions were quite literally beaten out of people.

Third, beware the motives of AG Josh Shapiro. He has that "lean and hungry look," as Caesar might say. He would like to be the next Governor, and could ride into office as the man who took on the Catholic Church without prosecuting a single one of these evil priests. That's quite an accomplishment.

Fourth, understand that many of the news accounts are going to be salacious and essentially unfair, while pretending objectivity. Nothing like a sex scandal to beef up sales.

Fifth, in the Allentown Diocese, all five DAs conducted an investigation in 2002, revealing much of the same information that has surfaced again 16 years later. At that time, the Allentown Diocese committed to notifying authorities whenever any allegations of child sexual abuse are made against a Catholic priest, no matter what church officials may think of the merits. DA John Morganelli said a few weeks ago that he believes the Diocese has lived up to its agreement.

Donaher Opposes Plainfield's Proposed Sludge Plant

Donaher with Senator Casey
Dean M. Donaher, who is running for State Representative in the 138th Legislative District, has come out against the proposed sewage processing plant to be developed in Plainfield Township by Synagro Technologies Inc.

“If this sludge plant is developed, it’s going to adversely affect the Slate Belt’s natural environment, plain and simple,” Donaher said. “State leaders should be rising up against this facility, which unfortunately hasn’t happened. We need leaders who will fight for their local communities and natural environment every step of the way, which is why I wholeheartedly oppose the development of this plant” he said.

For years, Synagro Technologies has been attempting to obtain the necessary permitting to develop this plant. Donaher has attended at least three of these meetings, and is concerned about its negative impact on a high-quality stream. Our waterways are also being damaged by irresponsible development, he observed. "I looked at them today and they are chocolate brown from all the sediment being washed in."

"Nobody's minding the store [in Harrisburg]," he complained.

“I’ve spoken with too many Plainfield Township residents on their front porches about how this plant will alter the natural environment in such a beautiful area in Northampton County. We shouldn’t gamble away our natural environment just so corporate profits dramatically increase for these large companies. Let’s do the right thing and oppose this unnecessary sludge plant,” he concluded.

Just this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found Synagro irresponsibly violated state rules by dumping sludge over a farmer’s field. There is also great concern that this plan will have a negative impact on high-quality streams.

In late January, Synagro was cited by the state DEP for spreading Class B sludge on a farmer's field in Lower Mount Bethel. No fine was imposed because the company addressed the issue.

Donaher, a retired educator, is challenging incumbent Marcia Hahn. Her Facebook page is devoid of comments on this issue.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

PJ Koury: No Costs May Be Assessed to the Innocent

On Friday, I told you about the poor experience that a Nazareth family had in front of Magisterial District  Judge Roy Manwaring II. They had gone to Bethlehem for a night of shopping and dinner, but made a return trip to their parking meter. Ryan Woodmansee used his credit card to add time, but was rewarded with a blank screen. he had no spare change and photographed the meter. Sure enough, when he and his wife returned from dinner that night, a parking ticket awaited them. Since this was a defective meter, they were sure they could appeal the citation and win. So when they went to their hearing on Wednesday, they brought their children. They wanted to teach them that, in America, the system works. What they got instead was a Magisterial District Judge Roy A Manwaring II. They feel that he treated them like garbage

PJ Michael Koury, Jr. 
During the hearing, the Bethlehem Parking Authority conceded there had been a glitch that night. Manwaring really had no choice but to dismiss the case. But he still ordered them to pay the court costs, and before they left his little star chamber.

Now I have already told you that Manwaring had no basis for imposing costs on an innocent Defendant. True, I've lost my license to practice law, but not for being a dumb ass. But still, why should anyone much care what some bottom-feeding blogger thinks?

While I understand that my own objections mean nothing, those of the President Judge of Northampton County mean a great deal. PJ Michael Koury, Jr. has instructed Manwaring to refund the money to the Woodmansees. A copy of his directive has been sent to the Woodmansees, but they feel uncomfortable releasing it.

They might get assessed costs again.

The statute establishing constable fees provides, in pertinent part, "In all criminal cases wherein the defendant is discharged or indigent or the case is otherwise dismissed, the court shall assess to the county the fee provided in this section ... ." Thus, a magisterial district judge has no discretion to assess costs against a Defendant who has been exonerated.

This determination is consistent with United States.Supreme Court rulings, including its recent decision in Nelson v Colorado. . In Giaccio v. Pennsylvania, the US Supreme Court ruled that a Pa. statute authorizing this sanction on innocent people is unconstitutional.

Even in Roy Manwaring's courtroom.

May a Constable Peer Into Your Windows?

May a Constable peer into your windows? Can he be videotaped while speaking to someone? According to Northampton County's Constable Review Board, the answer to both of these questions appears to be Yes.

On Friday afternoon, Northampton County's Constable Review Board convened on a complaint brought Glenn Brown against Constable Stanley Smith, who has served in that capacity for the past 27 years. Brown lives on a secluded tract located off Ridge Road in Upper Mount Bethel Tp. He said he likes his privacy. He is surrounded by farmland and other secluded homes. In fact, to reach his home, you have to travel several hundred feet along a driveway.

On July 18, at around 11 am, he was sitting in his kitchen in his underwear, and claims his wife was wearing even less. He heard a knock on his door, and that was his first encounter with Constable Stanley Smith. Smith, who was fully uniformed, was trying to serve papers in a civil matter against Kyle Brown, Glenn Brown's son. Glenn Brown refused to accept the papers. He said he and his son were estranged.

After Smith left, Brown reviewed his security footage and determined that Smith had been looking through a plate glass window on his front door. He demonstrated via video that if you are very close when looking inside, you can see the inside of the house.

Smith returned later that day or the next, and was accosted by Brown, who carried a cellphone and was videotaping the conversation.

He told Smith that his son lives in New Jersey and they are estranged. "I don't want to be bothered, that's why I live up there," said Brown. "You're not allowed to look in my window. Get off my f---ing property and don't come back, you f---ing pervert."

Although Smith was trying to remain cordial, it was difficult for him to say anything in that second encounter, in which he was instructed to leave.

He told the Constable Review Board that, during his first visit, he did ring a doorbell, knock and look through the plate glass window at the front door, but not through any of the side windows he was trying to determine if anyone was home, and said he saw nothing. He said he tries to be low key. he came back a second time because the son might have stopped by or there might be someone else who could give him information to enable him to serve the papers.

Brown insisted that his privacy had been violated and read Pennsylvania's invasion of privacy statute into the record. Although that statute contains an exception for law enforcement personnel, Brown said he applies only if the officer is conducting a lawful criminal investigation. He argued that service of papers in a civil matter is not a lawful criminal investigation.

Constable Kevin Spano, himself a former Bethlehem police officer, set Brown straight. "We are actually trained to look into a window," he said. He said they do it to see if there might be a weapon or gun or "for the unknown."

Constable Smith was in a place where he had a right to be. He was attempting to serve a civil complaint listing a defendant at the address he visited. The door included a plate glass window.

Spano asked Smith to explain how many times a constable attempts to serve a complaint. Smith said they get paid $13 to attempt to serve papers, regardless of the number of efforts or whether they are successful. He added that the unwritten rule is three attempts, but it always depends on the circumstances. In this case, he was directed to stop after his second attempt.

As for the video that Brown took of the second encounter, the Constable Review Board accepted it because Brown had the camera pointed right at Constable Smith. He had no justifiable expectation of privacy.

From here this matter will go to President Judge Michael Koury, Jr. 

What are constables?

Constables are elected officials who serve six-year terms. Their primary role is service of minor arrest warrants and other legal process for the Magisterial District Courts, such as eviction notices, and prisoner transport. They are required to maintain order at the polls on election day.

Though it is a Constitutional office that have existed in Pennsylvania since 1664, the constable system has been criticized as one that is open to abuse by armed officers who have minimal training and no oversight. As a result, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted standards in 2013 designed to professionalize them To be certified, they must undergo 40 hours of training every year, including 20 hours of firearms training.

Northampton County has 37 certified constables, including Smith.

What is the Constable Review Board?

Established in 2016, Northampton County's Constable Review Boards provides some oversight of constables and helps resolve citizen complaints. This Board includes the following: Judge Sam Murray, Judge jennifer Sletvold, Magisterial District Judge Dan Corpora, Constable Kevin Spano, Sheriff Rich Johnston, Controller Richard "Bucky" Szulborski, Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron and Magisterial District Court Administrator Debbie French.

For complaints that might result in the suspension or termination of a constable, the Review Board is required to interview the complainant, constable and all other relevant witnesses. The Board must report any suspected criminal activity to the District Attorney. After completing interviews, it makes a recommendation to the President Judge, who is the ultimate authority on a constable's continued work in Northampton County.

Celtic Classic to Award $500 Scholarship to HS Volunteer

Celtic Cultural Alliance award a $500 scholarship to one of its high school volunteers at Celtic Classic Highland Games and Festival, held on September 28-30, 2018, in historic downtown Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Through this scholarship, CCA hopes to encourage high school students to learn about Celtic culture and gain useful volunteer experience in the community. Applicants must fill out an application that describes their volunteer experience and includes a photo of themselves volunteering at Celtic Classic. The $500 scholarship is to be applied towards higher education expenses.

The student must be in grades 9-12 during the 2018-2019 school year, register for volunteering through the volunteer data base, and volunteer for 12 hours at Celtic Classic on September 28-30, 2018 or in the past two years.

A winner will be chosen by December 15, 2018, by a committee comprised of members of the Board of Directors of Celtic Cultural Alliance.
For more information and a registration form, please visit http://www.celticfest.org/volunteer_scholarship

Celtic Classic runs from Friday, September 28 through Sunday, September 30, in downtown historic Bethlehem. For more information, directions, volunteering opportunities and the weekend’s schedule, log on to www.celticfest.org. For up-to-the-minute information and updates, follow Celtic Classic on Twitter (@CelticClassic) and friend them on Facebook (facebook.com/CelticClassic).

Monday, August 13, 2018

Allentown A3 Rating Called Stable

From Allentown:  Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the city of Allentown’s A3 General Obligation debt rating, but revised its outlook to negative from stable. Allentown has roughly $80 million of rated General Obligation-backed debt outstanding at this time.

 

According to Moody’s, “The A3 rating speaks to the fact that the city has opted, for the past several years, to rely on a cash inflow from its utility sale in 2013 to sustain operations rather than correcting a long-standing, considerable, structural operating imbalance.  The A3 rating also highlights that while the structural imbalance persists, the city's current reserves, though narrowing, are still in line with similarly-rated cities in the commonwealth.”

 

Mayor Ray O’Connell said, “Moody's has affirmed our A3 rating, and we share the concerns raised in the outlook.  The 2019 city budget now under development will be proactive in addressing these concerns and will establish a solid fiscal foundation for subsequent years.”

 

Some $7.5 million was taken from reserves to balance the 2017 and 2018 city budgets.  Reserves have also been used to remedy a malware attack on the city’s computer systems and pay legal fees to defend lawsuits filed against the city.

Flooding Forces Cedar Beach Pool to Close Again

From Allentown: Floodwaters from Cedar Creek are forcing the closing of Allentown’s Cedar Beach Pool for the second time this summer.

 

Floodwaters reached the pool at about 12:30 this afternoonThe city will re-assess the situation after the water recedes.

 

Cedar Pool was closed due to flooding on Saturday, August 4.  It re-opened on Friday, August 10 after it had been drained, cleaned, refilled and passed water quality testing.

Why You Won't See 3,000 Stories Today

Because I have more time to write and research on weekends, I generally start the week with a few stories. Not today. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I was pretty sick over the weekend. I still am unsure whether it was a summer cold or allergies. It hit me hard on Friday night and stayed with me until 4 pm Sunday. It has gone just as suddenly as it came, but has left me wasted.

For the past six weeks or so, I've been exercising. It's mostly walking. When you are morbidly obese, that's all you can really do. But I love it. I feel like St Bernard of Assisi. Last week, I got within just a feet feet of this doe,

"Do you know Hokie Joe?" she asked me.

"Quite well!" I replied.

"Well tell him he sucks," she said, as she and a few fawns scampered off.

While walking along the Palmer-Tatamy Bike Path, I ran into an interesting gentleman who lives right next to the bike bath. He and his grand-daughter are raising pygmy goats. They are quite a hit.

I also see quite a few very large birds. It's hard to make them out, but they usually fly in wide circles above me like they are waiting .

I wonder what that's all about.

I started out with 20-minutes. I have been increasing time so that I now go as long as 35 minutes. I also began doing double sessions, i.e. walking once in the morning and again at night. Last week, I began doing push ups, too. Negative push ups and half push ups, not the real thing. Although I've lost a few ounces and my blood pressure has dropped, I think I may have overdone it, as ridiculous as this may sound.

Fitness always makes me sick.

In any event, I will drop the double sessions or limit them to 20 minutes.

Lehigh Valley's Weekly Police Blotter

If you know of any matters missed here, please feel free to provide a link. Comments that contribute something are welcome. Negative judgment condemnations will be deleted.

Wilson Police identify one of two persons who allegedly robbed Burger King in South 25th early Saturday morning. He is Glenn James Glenn James Cain, age 52. More details are on Lehigh Valley Live.

Coplay Police - Coplay Police looking for operator of the blue Nissan driving on Coplay and N. 2nd St. at approx. 11:07. There is video on Facebook page.

Bethlehem: After the flooding of three areas of Musikfest, Jim “the Judge” Stocklas and Barry Bartakovits donated $10,000.00 in Muskifest food and beverage tickets to Bethlehem’s Emergency Service Personnel working Musikfest. Chief Mark A. DiLuzio and Officer William Audello, President, FOP Star Lodge # 20, thanked them for a "thoughtful and heart felt donation towards City Emergency Services."

Palmer Tp. - Joe Rothrock and Eric Smith were sworn in on August 6 as Palmer Tp's newest police officers.

Salisbury Tp: Two dogs found at South Mall on August 7.

Lower Saucon: During July, Lower Saucon Police participated in 5 aggressive driving details resulting in 47 traffic citations, including 4 for driving under suspension.

Colonial Regional Police Department accepting applications for citizen police academy between September 5 and November 14. Applications due 8/24/18. Apply here.

Bethlehem Tp Police Department Gets Grant from Walmart - for "Shop With a Cop" program.

Slate Belt Regional Police adds Glen Connolly III as its newest officer. Connolly worked for Bangor Borough Police Department for the past 10 years.

Nazareth PD is looking for part-time police officers.

Emmaus Police: Driving Under the Influence: Gerald Moyer, 49, of Emmaus was arrested on 7/6/18 at 6th and Elm Streets for Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Under Suspension and Careless Driving after he struck a parked car. He was transported to the Lehigh County DUI Center and processed.

Defiant Trespass: Aidan Stevens, 18, of Macungie was arrested on 7/11/18 for Defiant Trespass after he was twice removed from a property by the Emmaus Police Department and ordered not to return. Charges filed with Lehigh County Court.

Possession of Small Amount of Marijuana: Jason Engler and Kyle Ruch ,both 19, both of Emmaus ,were arrested on 7/31/18 for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana in the 300 block of S 10th Street. Charges filed with Lehigh County Court.

Found Item: A Schwinn bicycle was found in the unit block of N 6th Street on 8/1/18. The bicycle is held at the Emmaus Police Department.

Retail Theft: Marcus Dengler, 23, and Kristian Boger, 25, both of Macungie, were arrested on 8/3/18 for Retail Theft after removing $95.53 worth of merchandise from Weis Markets 1220 Chestnut Street. Charges filed with Lehigh County Court.

Sale/Transfer of Firearms: Donald Bortz, 56 ,of Emmaus was arrested on 8/3/18 for Sale/Transfer of a Firearm and Unsworn Falsifications after he attempted to purchase a firearm and falsified documents to obtain same. Charges filed with Lehigh County Court.

Hit and Run: reported on 8/6/18 in the 1300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue. An unknown vehicle sideswiped the rear passenger side bumper of victim’s Subaru Outback andleft the area.

Theft: reported on 8/6/18 at the Emmaus High School. Unknown actor removed miscellaneous clothing from a locked locker totaling $370.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

RIP Robert Lasso


On this day in 2011, Freemansburg Police Officer Robert Lasso was gunned down while responding to a domestic disturbance. He was a nine-year veteran of the police force. He was pointing his stun gun at the assailant's two dogs. Lasso's killer has been sentenced to death.

Friday, August 10, 2018

O’Connell Nominates New HR Director

And it’s not Amy Trapp!

From Allentown: Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell today nominated Meloney J. Sallie-Dosunmu to be Director of the Department of Human Resources.

 

Ms. Sallie-Dosunmu served as Global Human Resources Director for Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham, MA. and Senior Manager of Organizational Effectiveness and Talent at Just Born, Inc.  She is Founder/Owner of Precision Talent International of Allentown and is a Facilitator/Moderator for Harvard Business Publishing and an Adjunct Instructor at DeSales University.

 

“Meloney is a very experienced and highly skilled human resources professional who will be a tremendous asset to city government,” said “O’Connell.  “She has practiced and taught how to align people strategies to the needs of the organization and how to get the most out of people.”

 

“I am honored to be nominated by Mayor O’Connell,” said Sallie-Dosunmu.  “I am really excited to have the good fortune to serve Allentown, my home of more than 20 years.  I have practiced human resources all over the world, but I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to make an impact on my own city.”

 

The mission of the Department of Human Resources is to provide quality customer service in all personnel operations with integrity, responsiveness and sensitivity to all employees of the City of Allentown and other customers. 

The Department of Human Resources works in partnership with all city departments to attract, motivate, retain, manage and develop qualified productive employees. The department is responsible for organizing, directing, and administering programs involving recruitment and retention, training & development, salary, benefits, workers compensation, pension, labor relations, civil service employment for fire & police, and risk and safety program management.  The department provides support for contract negotiations, labor management, arbitrations, and grievances. The department provides professional advice to administration, department directors, supervisors and employees of the City of Allentown.

 

Ms. Sallie- Dosunmu has earned a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling from Wilberforce University in Ohio and a Master of Business Administration from Rosemont College.

 

Ms. Sallie- Dosunmu will earn $103,350 as director.

 

The nomination of Ms. Sallie- Dosunmu must be confirmed by City Council.  A confirmation hearing is set for August 15 at 6:00pm.

What's the Over Under on Fed Ed?

Earlier this week, disgraced former Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski and his wife Lisa started a a GoFundMe page to help with their legal expenses. They raised $2,380 as of last night. The link to the page is gone. Many people were very upset at Pawlowski's sense of self-entitlement. That little trick may have earned him an extra year, especially since it displays defiance instead of remorse. 

I was not going to ask for predictions, but i think he's earned this attention. I say his minimum sentence will be 10-12 years. What's your guess? The person who comes closest gets to decide what charity is worthy of the $115 I raised on my parody GoFundMe page.

My Special Parking Place


A Lehigh University Professor who shall remain nameless discovered this special parking place while grocery shopping. I agree that it's very considerate to set aside parking spots for fat guys with grills.

Angry Magistrate Imposes Court Costs on Man Who Beat Parking Ticket

Most of you need no law degree to know that it is fundamentally unfair for a judge to punish someone for winning a case. Yet that's exactly what happened on Wednesday in the mini star chamber of mini Judge Roy A. "the Martinet" Manwaring II.  He did so in a case involving, of all things, a parking ticket. At Northern Southern Ohio Law School, or wherever the hell he went, he apparently never learned about the Constitution. Either that or he was asleep.

Now Roy the Martinet is actually a former Ass't District Attorney. He made such a big impression there that I never noticed him. Now he's in his second term on the Judge JV squad, just waiting for an opening. He wears a black robe and everything! Now even if he was watching soaps during law school, as most people from Western-Eastern Southern Ohio Law School are wont to do, you'd think he might have picked up a tidbit or two about the Constitution by now.

Apparently not.

Let me tell you about the big case in front of Magistrate Martinet on Wednesday.

Nazareth residents Ryan and Christine Woodmansee visited Bethlehem for a night of shopping and dinner, but the meter was not accepting credit cards and they had no loose change. They took pictures to show that the screen was blank when they tried to use their card. When they returned to their car, they had a ticket on their windshield.

They intended to dispute the parking violation, but life happened, as it sometimes does. They did respond to the citation they received in the mail, and scheduled a hearing for Wednesday. Ryan took an afternoon off from work and the entire family came down to the Bethlehem Star Chamber,not to be confused with the Moravian Star..

According to the Woodmansees, Manwaring was rude and condescending to them. That's a pretty big mistake on his part. Christine Woodmansee is a slight figure, but she and her husband are both quite forceful people. They organized the opposition in Nazareth to a jail at Gracedale, and are pretty much the reason former executive John Brown is former Executive John Brown. .

During the hearing, a witness for the Bethlehem Parking Authority acknowledged that there had been a glitch in the system on the day they were cited. Basically, he threw in the towel. But Martinet Manwaring was having none of it. He looked at their photographic evidence skeptically and wanted to know why they didn't use coins.

They had none. That's why Bethlehem has credit card slots on their parking meters, Dumbass.

Excuse me, that should be Magistrate Dumbass. I must be respectful.

Martinet Manwaring II reluctantly found the Woodmansees not guilty, but ordered them to pay the court costs. He reasoned that it's no fault of the taxpayer that Woodmansee failed to respond immediately to the ticket. What's more, he told them they had to pay these costs ($57.25) before leaving his office.

There was a time when judges did order acquitted defendants to pay court costs. By 1966, Pennsylvania was the only state in the country still following this practice. In Giaccio v. Pennsylvania, decided that year, the US Supreme Court ruled that the statute authorizing this sanction on innocent people is unconstitutional.

This sanction violates the most fundamental concept of due process. It punishes a defendant who has been found not guilty of any offense charged.

Was Manwaring, a Republican, punishing the Woodmansees for their opposition to former Executive John Brown, a fellow Republican? Does he exercise a different kind of justice against people who live outside his district? Or is he just an unfair person? He woud do well to remember the words of Governour Morris. "This magistrate is not the king. The people are the king."

This money should be refunded to the Woodmansees immediately, and Martinet Manwaring II should personally return the money along with an apology.

The Ballad of Martinet Manwaring II (with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan)

When I was a lad I served a term
As office boy to Morganelli's firm.
I cleaned the windows and I swept the floor,
And I polished up the handle of the big front door.
I polished up that handle so carefullee
That now I am the Ruler of the Judge Javees!

As office boy I made such a mark
That they gave me the post of a junior clark.
I served the writs with a smile so bland,
And I copied all the letters in a big round hand —
I copied all the letters in a hand so free,
That now I am the Ruler of the Judge Javees!

Updated 11:15 am: The Woodmansees have asked me to note that their card actually worked the first time. It was when they attempted to refresh their card in the middle of dinner that they got a blank screen and photographed it.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

NorCo Collecting Hotel tax From Airbnb

Steve Barron
Airbnb is a global internet travel community enabling people to rent out their homes and become hospitability entrepreneurs. There are 140 hosts in Northampton County who welcomed 8,800 guests to share their homes in the past year. In 2017, the typical host took in $3,900 in annual income from sharing their home for approximately three nights per month. Starting this month, Northampton County will be collecting hotel taxes from this online service.

This issue was first raised by Steve Barron in 2016, when he was the county controller. He estimated the county could be adding $100,000 annually to its coffers by imposing its hotel tax on rentals arranged online through Airbnb. His research at that time showed numerous short-term online rentals at private homes.

“This places traditional hotels and bed and breakfast establishments on a more level playing field," argued Barron. "It is not fair to ask one entity or person to pay and not another, no matter how large or small.”

Former Executive John Brown, citing "the complexity of the issue," never moved forward.

Barron is now the county's Director of Fiscal Affairs, and Brown has been succeeded in office by Lamont McClure. McClure and Barron negotiated with Airbnb, and Northampton County is now collecting hotel taxes from this online room finder.

“We’re glad Airbnb has reached this agreement with us,” said McClure. “Our hotel taxes are used to promote tourism and economic development. They provide an important stimulus to our economy.”

Non-profit organizations and municipalities can apply for grants from the Hotel Tax fund to promote events and activities within Northampton County.  The Hotel Room Rental Tax is 4%.

Fed Ed Lashes Out At His Critics


Earlier this week, disgraced former Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski and his wife Lisa started a a GoFundMe page to help with their legal expenses. It includes ythe family picture you see above. So far, they have raised $2,380. But a lot of people were very upset at the Pawlowski sense of self-entitlement. Both dailies ran stories, and I was texted by several people. On his Facebook page, people were slamming him, too.

I figured I could be just as pig a moron as he is, and started my own GoFundMe page, seeking $100 million to help me deal with my flatulence problem. Though I meant this as a joke, I've received $110 in donations.

Fed Ed got Fed Up. He deleted the comments critical of him on his own Facebook page, and then this phony delivered a homily on the importance of being kind. "I don’t love the meanness on social media," he complains.

Wait until you experience the meanness of a federal prison, Fed Ed. I know one there right now who tells me the bologna tastes exactly like a pig's anus (I neglected to ask him exactly how he knows this) and that prison doctors are doctors the way Dr. Pepper is a doctor.

I agree it's important to be kind, a behavior you never exhibited as Mayor.

But it's even more important to be honest, as you are about to learn.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

What About That Hamilton Street Facade Grant?

Shelby Edwards and James Whitney, who have been seeking a facade grant for their Little Drill business at 1122 Hamilton in Allentown, had a rather lengthy meeting on Monday with Upside Down. They are supposed to hear on Friday whether their grant application has been approved, and I will update you about it next week. To me, the most important questions are: (1) Should grants be awarded to people who themselves participate in the decision-making process? (2) Should people who approve these grants benefit financially by being paid to do design work? (3) Why are grants being awarded to businesses that are not locally owned? (4) What steps are being taken to avoid the IRS ban on private shareholders who are benefiting from Upside Allentown?

There are many positive things to say about the facade grant program. But there should always be a willingness to listen to constructive criticism.

Previous stories:

Upside Allentown Facade Grant Program Is Upside Down

Upside Allentown Facade Grant Program Being Abused

Allentown Facade Grant Abuse Details

This Old House: History of 1122 Hamilton St

Manslaughter Charge Suggests Officers Need Better Training

Freemansburg Police prepare ID cards for area kids
Last night, communities throughout the country celebrated National Night Out (NNO). It's a time for first responders and the citizens they serve to come together. Police make ID cards for kids so that if they ever get lost, mom or dad can give officers something that gives them an idea what the child looks like and some other physical characteristic, like height. Firefighters are also a big hit, as they demonstrate how they put out fires. In communities like Freemansburg, it's an opportunity to get fed, too. Borough Council members drop their gavels for spatulas,and turn out dogs and burgers with food supplied by area grocers. Yesterday, NNO coincided with a day in which Lehigh County DA Jim Martin filed manslaughter charges against South Whitehall Township police officer Jonathan Roselle. Their National Night Out had been postponed as a result of flooding, and that's probably a good thing.

After Martin's announcement, I spoke with a career prosecutor who told me she knows of no other profession in which momentary bad judgment in a crisis situation can lead to homicide charges. But my concern all along is that the officer had available to him other means to subdue the man he killed. He had a baton, taser and mace. According to the statutory definition,
"(a) General rule.--A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:

(1) the individual killed; or

(2) another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed.

(b) Unreasonable belief killing justifiable.--A person who intentionally or knowingly kills an individual commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify the killing under Chapter 5 of this title (relating to general principles of justification), but his belief is unreasonable."
The officer felt at that one moment that he needed to use deadly force, but Martin's investigation concluded that belief was unreasonable.

Should Officer Roselle choose to go to trial, that will be a question for the jury. I personally believed he could have used less lethal means or waited for back up.

One officer told me last night that what happened underscores the need for better training. He said interactive training simulator shelp officers recognize when deadly force is warranted, and told me he believes the Allentown Police Academy has one of these.

I also spoke to a retired police officer -a big guy - with 30 years of experience. He said you never know how you're going to react until you're in a real situation.

It's an unfortunate situation for all involved. Lehigh County DA Jim Martin was unfairly attacked in the middle of an investigation. A police officer will never work in that capacity again,regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. Some feel that there was latent bias in the officer's decision to pull the trigger. Others are using what happened as an opportunity to express their bias while solemnly denying it. But the biggest loss is for Santos' children. They will grow up without a father.

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Today, I received an onslaught of text messages concerning Fed Ed's GoFundMe page. It's yet another demonstration of his fatal flaw - hubris. He and his wife are both Moody Bible School grads, but must have missed what Proverbs has to say: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." He deleted most of the Facebook comments taking him to task, but there's been plenty of online criticism at LehighvalleyLive, Morning Call and even Fox News. As I write this, he's already conned eight people into giving him $570. So I decided to try it myself, except I want $100 million. Hope you can help.

Allentown City Councilman's Car Gets Booted.


I opposed Courtney Robinson when he ran for Allentown City Council. His landlord sued him twice, in 2012 and 2014, for nonpayment of rent. He's the last person I'd want to review a $105 million budget. He also pleaded guilty in 2013 to parking a junker on someone's private property, so I doubt he'd be very sensitive to quality of life issues in an urban environment. He's also not his own man, but is lobbyist Jenn Mann's little gopher.

You elected him, and he repaid you by refusing to sign a letter of appreciation to federal authorities for their work in fighting corruption within Allentown.

Above, you can see his most notable achievement thus far as a member of City Council. He managed to get his Jeep booted for vehicle violations.

Did Saturday's Flooding Damage Allentown-Owned Vehicles?

I was called this morning and told that there's a rumor circulating that the stormwater flooding on Saturday did more than contaminate the Cedar Beach pool. Water also cascaded into a storage building behind the HamFam restaurant for Allentown-owned vehicles. In previous years, asking City Hall for an answer was useless.But since there's a new Mayor in town, I thought I'd ask the City spokesperson.believe it ornot, I got an answer, too.

Here's what Communications Manager Mike Moore tells me:
There was no damage to any gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles. Some snow plows that were not attached to any vehicles were submerged. They have been taken to the city garage to assess if they have been damaged.

The area received four inches of rain in approximately five hours. That is what caused the flooding.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Paul Anthony Takes Over Reins at GPA

Though Northampton County provides video access to every meeting, and pays dearly for it, it means nothing if those who participate fail to use the mikes. This morning, the newly constituted General Purpose Authority (GPA) met for the first time since Chair Shawn Langen and his sidekick, Shawn Donahue, resigned. It was virtually impossible to hear the meeting. I can forgive GPA members, who are 
there part-time, for forgetting. But it is absolutely inexcusable that David Hughes, a county employee who is essentially serving as the board's administrator, would fail to insist that the mikes be used. It totally defeats  transparency. It also makes the videos a waste of taxpayer money. Not only did Hughes fail to insist that members use the mike, he failed to use one himself. What resulted was a meeting of mumbles.

I know Paul Anthony was elected Chair and that the KingSpry firm was named temporary Solicitor. I also know that the GPA took steps to sever the relationship with Philadelphia law firm Conrad O'Brien, which had been retained by the GPA for anticipated litigation with the County. But other than that, it's impossible to say what happened.

Proposals will be circulated for a new solicitor. Charles Dertinger updated the Board on the removal of  three bridges from a massive P3 project to replace or repair 33 bridges. Those bridges are located along a scenic byway (Little Creek Road) in Lower Mount Bethel, and residents living in that area like the idea of one-lane bridges. 

Bethlehem Tp Comm'rs Ponder New Yard Waste Policy

President Malissa Davis
Yard waste. That was the dominant topic for Bethlehem Township Commissioners at their August 6 meeting. Public Works Director Richard Grube wants a new policy that will ban contractors from dropping off yard waste.There's no room.

Under the current policy, any township resident can drop off yard waste at the recycling center. So can any township contractor or even an outside contractor who is disposing of a resident's yard waste. In past years, that has been no problem because Green Pond Nursery was willing to accept the mulch at no charge. But last winter, the nursery stopped accepting township mulch because it had no room, either. As a result, the Township has been forced to use a hauler seven times to dispose of the mulch at $250 for each 80-ton tractor trailer load.

"If this continues, we're going to have the problem year after year," said Ass't Public Works Director Richard Kanaskie. "We have so much of it that we'll never be rid of it."

Commissioner John Gallagher asked whether the mulch could be at township facilities. Kanaskie answered that it is at some locations, but a special kind of mulch must be used at playgrounds and around the community center.

Grube and Kanaskie say that, in Bethlehem, all contractors are banned from using the recycling center to dump yard waste, even those who reside in the City. "We would like the township to follow this same policy and not allow contractors to dump yard waste at our facility," they write in a memo.  They add that contractors can take yard waste to Grinding Acres on Freemansburg Avenue and pay a fee.

Public Works would like a new policy in place by the beginning of the year so that contractors have some advance warning. Commissioners took no action because both President Michael Hudak and Vice President Tom Nolan were unavoidably absent. Malissa Davis served as President in their absence.

In other business, Commissioners voted 3-0 to award a $378,417 contract with Grace Industries for improvements to Housenick Park. They include ½ mile of paved walking trail, a gazebo, scenic overlook, children’s nature play area and landscaping. Davis explained that nearly all the money for this project comes from outside sources.

Grace Industries was the lowest of four bids that went as high as $651,000.

Commissioners also voted 3-0 to direct Solicitor Jim Broughal to prepare a new ordinance to address littering and dumping within the Township. Police Captain Greg Gottshall has warned that the current laws are inadequate.

They also voted 3-0 to impose an annual $500 registration fee on banks that foreclose on vacant homes so that the property can be maintained if the bank fails to do so.

Davis also suggested that the carpentry contract at the Archibald Mansion be revised to include the $17,500 cost for fixing the shutters. Broughal said he would need to review the contract first.

Resident Barry Roth scoffed at the Vo-Tech's hesitation at doing this work as a volunteer project. Davis said it was because of the lead paint. "I sprayed lead paint when I was at Vo-Tech, and I'm still alive," he said, as a tooth fell out. "I'm still here," he said, as another one came out .

Lead poisoning has been directly linked to permanent brain damage. "That's an old wives' tale," said Roth, as he picked up his teeth.

Finally, Commissioners considered a proposal that would permit the athletic association to use a 6.59-acre park nestled at the end of Anthony Court for soccer practice by no more than 20 girls, age 5, twice a week. This park is located at Bethlehem Estates, one of the Township's swankier neighborhoods. Six years ago, residents there were upset that kids were using the park to play soccer and threatened litigation.

At that time, Anthony Court resident John Murphy reminded Commissioners that his is a wealthier neighborhood. "Do you guys have any idea how much taxes we pay in that community there?" he asked. "I guarantee that, with five houses, we're talking $60,000 a year."

"You should not have a park in a residential community," he argued.

Commissioners took no action on this proposals. Solicitor Jim Broughal said it is "more of a political issue" than a legal one.

Blogger's Note: I like to publish at midnight or soon thereafter, but simply forgot to publish this last night. I think I have lead poisoning.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Local Weekly Police Blotter

The following is a new, weekly feature, based on the Facebook pages of Lehigh Valley police departments:

Bethlehem Police Seek Luring Suspect: Bethlehem Police Department are looking for BERNARDO FONTANEZ-CINTRON, age 49, no current address, for luring and exposing himself to two young children.

On July 6, 2018 and July 8, 2018, FONTANEZ-CINTRON, lured two females juveniles, ages 7 and 8 years of age, over to his motor vehicle where he exposed himself and performed a sex act on himself. In both incidents, the females immediately ran to adults and FONTANEZ-CINTRON fled the area in a red color sedan. The first incident happened at 6th and Buchanan Streets in the Bethlehem and the second incident happened at 6th and Lynn Streets in the Bethlehem.

FONTANEZ-CINTRON is not a Bethlehem resident. He has been in Bethlehem for 3-4 weeks after leaving Chicago. Prior to coming to Bethlehem, he has been involved in similar acts in Chicago. His latest arrest in Chicago was on May 1, 2018, where he called juveniles over to a vehicle and performed a sex act on himself in front of them. He subsequently fled Chicago after that arrest.

BPD Detectives currently have an open arrest warrant for FONTANES-CINTRON. He is charged with:

(2) Counts Corruption of Minors – Felony 3rd degree.
(2) Counts Luring Child into Vehicle or Structure – Felony 2nd degree.
(2) Counts Indecent Exposure - Misdemeanor 1st degree.

BERNANDO FONTANEZ-CINTRON has no permanent address. FONTANEZ-CINTRON may have fled the Bethlehem area possibly back to the Chicago area.
NOTE: He is no longer operating the maroon in color Chevrolet Cobalt.

If you have information or you know the current whereabouts of BERNANDO FONTANEZ-CINTRON, please contact the Bethlehem Police Department at 610-865-7187.

We need the public help in locating this individual and getting him off the street so he cannot victimize any more children.

Hellertown Police Seek Stolen Bike: On 8/2/2018 at 1230 hours, Hellertown Police received a report of theft of a specialized bicycle from Saucon Valley Bikes located at 824 Main Street in Hellertown Borough. The theft is believed to have occurred on 8/1/2018 between 1800-1900 hours. The bicycle is described as a carbon and blue in color Pivot Mach 4 Pro XO1 Eagle bicycle. See the attached photos for similar bicycle and suspect. Any agency with information or recovery is requested to contact Hellertown Police through the Northampton County 911 Center at 610-759-2200.

Bethlehem Township Police Seek Shoplifter: RETAIL THEFT: On July 27, 2018, the depicted male stole almost $400 worth of items from ShopRite, 4701 Freemansburg Avenue. He did so with the assistance of another suspect from Alpha, NJ, who has since been charged.

Anyone who knows the identity of the suspect is asked to contact Ptl. Kraemer at 610.419.0830 or email gkraemer@bethlehemtwp.com

Wish to stay anonymous? Text TIP BETHLEHEMTWP followed by your message, to 888777, or visit https://local.nixle.com/tip/township-of-bethlehem/

Slate Belt Police have lost cell-phone: iPhone found at Giant, in Wind Gap, on Sunday, August 5 at approximately 2pm. Please contact SBRPD to claim. 610.759.8517.

Emmaus Police: Driving Under the Influence: Alex Rosado-Ferrer, 32, of Allentown was arrested on 6/9/18 for Driving Under the Influence and Operating a Vehicle Without Rear Lights at 10th & Chestnut Streets. He was transported to the Lehigh County DUI Center and processed.

Theft: Edgar Chicas, 20, of Willow Grove was arrested on 7/29/18 for Theft after he removed a backpack containing a cellphone all valued at $380 from the foyer of CVS 702 Chestnut Street. Charges filed with Lehigh County Court.

Hit and Run: reported on 7/14/18 in the unit block of S 6th Street. Unknown vehicle struck victim’s Ford Freestar damaging the driver’s side rear light and bumper.

Theft: reported on 7/15/18 in the 500 block of Keystone Avenue. Actor removed a seat and 2 side cases valued at $1,500 from the victim’s motorcycle.

Retail Theft: Tina Brown, 55, of Emmaus was arrested on 7/13/18 for Retail Theft after she removed $586.15 worth of merchandise from Weis Market 1220 Chestnut Street. Charges filed with Lehigh County Court.

Theft of a Motor Vehicle: reported on 7/20/18 in the 100 block of Jefferson Street. Actor stole victim’s unlocked 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee valued at $2,000. Vehicle was recovered on 7/28/18 in Emmaus.

Driving Under the Influence: Rachael Davis, 24, of Easton was arrested on 7/21/18 for Driving Under the Influence and Driving with a Suspended License in the 300 block of Main Street after she was involved in an auto accident. She was transported to the Lehigh County DUI Center and processed.

Theft of a Motor Vehicle: reported on 7/27/18 in the 800 block of N 2nd Street. Actor stole victim’s locked Honda CRV valued at $15,000. Vehicle was recovered on 7/28/18 in Lehighton.

Burglary: reported on 7/29/18 in the 800 block of Ridge Street. Actor cut the lock on victim’s shed and removed various power tools and a compressor all valued at $975.

Cedar Beach Pool Closed Due to Flooding

From Allentown City: Allentown’s Cedar Beach Pool will remain closed for the next several days due to flooding on Saturday.

Flood water from Cedar Creek entered the pool. As a result, the pool will have to be drained, cleaned, re-filled and re-treated and the water quality will have to be re-tested.

The city will have a better projection of when Cedar Pool will re-open after clean-up work is completed. In the meantime, the city’s Jordan, Mack and Irving pools will be open daily Monday, August 6 through Thursday, August 9. The morning adult lap swim programmed scheduled for Cedar Pool will be held at Jordan Pool.

Upside Allentown Facade Grant Program Is Upside Down

Lewnes gets $2,000 from Huertas, she gets at least two grants
CACLV's website proudly proclaims, "We take care of our neighbors." That's true, especially if you're connected. Upside Allentown operates under the CACLV umbrella. Last week, I published an audit of their  facade grant program  It shows clear favoritism towards insiders like Miriam Huertas, Rebecca Torres, Christian Brown and CACLV's very own Main Street Manager Peter Lewnes. It also shows grants to absentee landlords. I was appalled by how Jennings reacted when Allentown residents Shelby Edwards and James Whitney, who prepared this audit, presented him with a summary.

"Feel free to shout your findings from the rooftops," he taunted. He accused them of blackmail. They were seeking their own facade grant for Little Drill, their nifty photography and marketing business at 1122 Hamilton. Main Street manager Pete Lewnes refused to approve it unless they agreed to paint it one of the ugliest colors in existence - battleship grey. His refusal is what prompted their research, but Jennings accused them of a "selfish insistence that you are more worthy than the many others who have gone before you."

Battleship grey. Jennings loves it. 
Those who have gone before them include Lewnes (two possible grants), Torres (four grants), Huertas (at least two grants) and Christian Brown. All insiders.

To his credit, Jennings on Friday asked the state Department of Community and Economic Development to do an independent audit of these facade grants. He also said a meeting concerning this property with the "Physical Design Committee" was imminent, and it is. Turns out it's tonight.

Jennings invited me to his house on Sunday. That way I could tell him in person what a piece of shit he is. When I got there, I also blasted the ugly battleship grey color. Turn out that's what color he painted the inside of his house.

1122 W Hamilton
He admitted he can get arrogant, but added that he sometimes gets frustrated in his losing war on poverty. His approach is different. Most human service agencies will help those who are impoverished, but in condescending ways. Their goal is to get people out of the ghetto where the incentive to fail is strong. Jennings wants those who can leave a blighted neighborhood to stay and improve it.

With respect to Allentown's 7th Street Gateway, where Lewnes is Main Street Manager, Jennings tells me that there was a 25% vacancy rate on 7th Street vacancy rate when Lewnes started working there. Now there are none.

But just as the good things that former Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski did is no excuse for his criminal conduct, the success of the facade grant program is no excuse for abuses in which insiders are getting what really is public money. It is no justification for ignoring their own guidelines.

Upside Allentown is actually the name being used for some reason by The Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown (CADCA). It is funded by eight companies. BBT, TD Bank, and PPL kick in $100,000 per year.In addition, Alvin H. Butz, Inc., City Center Lehigh Valley, Susquehanna Bank, Lafayette Ambassador Bank and Wells Fargo donate $50,000 per year. Because they get tax credits in exchange for their donations, this is really public money. According to an Allentown news release, it is also funded by the City’s Community Development Block Grant and Home Program.

Upside Allentown facade grant guidelines have no standards in place to protect contributing companies and the public from insiders seeking to enrich themselves. Torres is a CADCA Board member. Huertas is a LV Chamber VP who handed a grant to Lewnes. Christian Brown is a member of the Physical Improvements Sub-Committee that supposedly approves these facade grants.

This needs to change to prevent insiders from benefiting.

Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.

The facade grant guidelines that are in place are being ignored. These grants are supposed to exist for locally owned properties, not absentee landlords. Why on earth what someone want to encourage investors looking to flip a property?

The Physical Improvements Committee that supposedly approves these grants will meet tonight to review this grant application. This group consists of Pat Jackson, Lewnes, Brown, Joe Calhoun, Dan Bosket, Deb Rubinski and possibly Geoff Brace. Bosket, the Executive Director of CADCA and Peter Lewnes' boss, told Edwards and Whitney that yours truly is unwelcome. "No, we will not be having Bernie O'Hare at the Meeting," he said.

So much for transparency.

I've been kicked out of much nicer places. I know why I'm unwelcome. I learned just this evening that the greed extends beyond the actual grant recipients. Deb Rabinski, who reviews and approves these grants, is actually getting paid $500 for a "design consult." It is entirely inappropriate for her to be sitting on the committee that approves or rejects facade grants. If she's involved in just 10 grants a year, that's $5,000 in her pocket. Some "volunteer." Get this. Lewnes has discretion to award up to $1,000 in design fees, which might explain why he has so many pals. The people who do these designs should have no say in approving these grants.

Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.

On top of everything else, there's a $300 fee for each grant application.

This program is being abused by insiders. There are no guidelines to prevent this greed, and what guidelines are in place are being ignored.

Should Upside Allentown refuse to address this situation, the corporations who contribute should be asked to stop. Moreover, Allentown should spend no CDBG money on a program that just promotes a culture of corruption.

Previous stories:

Upside Allentown Facade Grant Program Being Abused

Allentown Facade Grant Abuse Details

This Old House: History of 1122 Hamilton St

Constable Review Board Clears, But Admonishes, Forks Tp Constable

Gordon Crowell in 2014. You can add a beard today.
Forks Tp Constable Gordon Crowell, Jr. has been cleared by county officials of allegations that he misrepresented himself on three different occasions as a Forks Tp. police officer and undercover detective. A constable review board conducted interviews July 13 in response to a complaint filed by Forks Tp Detective Philomena Kelly. On July 24, President Judge Michael Koury, Jr., adopted the review board's recommendation that the complaint be dismissed, but admonishing Crowell against making any statements to the community that could be construed as suggesting that he is a police officer. He was also instructed that his interactions with court staff must be professional and free of any language that could be considered demeaning to women.

Crowell was accused of misrepresenting himself as a police officer on three separate occasions. In a 2017 incident, he had a dispute with a flagman who was directing traffic in Forks Township, and is alleged to have threatened to throw  the road worker in jail. More recently, in May, he had another encounter with a person whose vehicle almost collided with his as he backed into his driveway. He followed and caught up with this driver, and allegedly told her he was a Forks Tp police officer and undercover detective. He also allegedly made the same misrepresentation to Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline Taschner's staff.

Forks Township Detective Philomena Kelly recounted these events from several police reports as well as her own investigation. But she was unaware that the Board wanted to hear from the actual victims as well to assess their credibility. This doomed the complaint.

Despite the absence of victims, the Board seemed concerned about Crowell's statements to Magisterial District Judge Jacqueline Taschner's staff.  But it decided against any action because Judge Taschner stopped giving him work. "[W]hatever level of violation was committed by Constabe Crowell, Judge Taschner took appropriate and reasonable steps to terminate the behavior and sanction the offender."

Basically, the Board cleared Crowell, but told him not to do it again.

The Constable Review Board includes the following: Judge Baratta, Magisterial District Judge Dan Corpora, Constable Kevin Spano, Acting Sheriff Rich Johnston, Controller Richard "Bucky" Szulborski, Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron and Magisterial District Court Administrator Debbie French.

Crowell has steadfastly denied the allegations of misconduct. he was represented by Allentown Attorney Ron Clever.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Langen, Donahue Resign From GPA

It's getting difficult to keep up with the game of musical chairs being played at Northampton County's embattled General Purpose Authority (GPA). Since January, the GPA has lost Helene Whitaker (her term expired) as well as Neal Koplin, Peg Ferraro, J Michael Dowd and Executive Lamont McClure. He stepped down after just eight days. But the music appears to have stopped for the last time. Some time today, GPA Chair Shawn Langen finally resigned. Board member Shawn Donahue, who had been siding with Langen, also stepped down.

In a strongly worded resolution on June 21, Northampton County Council called for Langen's resignation.

I am delighted this has happened without litigation. But what makes me even more happy is that I no longer have to wake up at the crack of dawn to cover one of their meetings.

Allentown Facade Grant Abuse Details

Yesterday, I told you that Allentown's facade grant program is being abused. People who administer it are actually benefiting from these grants. Today, I am posting an audit of these grants, detailing exactly how this program has been mismanaged. One of the chief deficiencies, in my view, is a lack of guidelines that are common on other communities.

When you look at this audit, you will see Upside Allentown members like Peter Lewnes, Miriam Huertas and Rebecca Torres acting like pigs at the trough. You will see grants awarded to millionaires and absentee landlords. You will see investors leverage grant money to turn a tidy profit. You will see friends of these Upside Allentown members getting grants while others are shot down. .

This audit was prepared by James Whitney and Shelby Edwards, whose grant was revoked when they refused to paint their building the color Lewnes wanted.

Allentown has just gone through a major pay-to-play scandal, but retiring FBI agent Scott Curtis warned that the threat of corruption still exists.

Looks like he was right.

On Monday, I will tell you how CACLV Executive Director Alan Jennings responded when presented with this unflattering audit.

Updated 10:40 am: James Whitney and Shelby Edwards are aware that Christian Brown may not be a city employee, and even sent me an updated audit to remove that reference. I accidentally went with an older version. But to me, it makes no difference whether he is a city employee because he is deciding on who does and does not get grants, and yet is benefiting. Also, the letter fromJennings was a response to their report yesterday.

Upside Allentown Facade Grant Recipients by BernieOHare on Scribd

NorCo Looks at New Voting Machine - With Paper Trail

ExpressVote XL voting system 
Pennsylvania's Department of State has mandated all 67 counties to have new voting machines in place - with paper trails - in time for the next Presidential election. But it only has $14.1 million in grants available for voting systems expected to cost $147 million. The counties will have to pick up the slack. Also, only one system with a paper trail has been certified, and NorCo officials like another system.

That system is the ExpressVote XL — a full-face Universal Voting System that includes a 32" HD screen and an independent voter-verifiable paper record that is digitally scanned for tabulation.

At Council's August 2 meeting, Executive Lamont McClure said that the state would like to see the new systems in place during the 2019 election so that voters are comfortable in time for the 2020 Presidential election.

Pennsylvania is one of 21 states that Russian hackers attempted unsuccessfully to penetrate during the 2016 election.

May God Have Mercy on the GPA

At their Aug 2 meeting, Northampton County Council voted unanimously to appoint Administrator Charles Dertinger to the County's beleaguered General Purpose Authority (GPA). He replaces  Executive Lamont McClure, who served for exactly eight days. McClure quipped that he now holds the record as the GPA  board member with the least amount of service.

McClure resigned in response to a complaint by GPA Chair Shawn Langen, who argued that a 1941 Pa. Supreme Court decision precludes the Executive from service. Rather than litigate the matter, McClure bowed out.

Langen will rue the day he objected to McClure. Despite the bow tie and "Good Day!" greeting, Dertinger is a proper bastard, precisely the kind of person an Executive wants to get down in the gutters and roll around. I speak from personal experience. I used to mix it up with Charles regularly.

How is he as an Administrator? Let me give you and example. A few months ago, he stepped out of the elevator with the County's Director of Public Works.I was minding my own business, sitting at a bench reserved for PFA Defendants and bloggers, when he suddenly turned and asked me,

"When is the last time you saw someone smoking in here?"

"How the Hell would I know? Do I look like Frank Flisser?"

(Flisser knows everything)

Dertinger then pointed to ashtrays that are built into the wall and asked why we have them. Then he pointed to fire extinguishers next to the elevator, encased in glass about 6" thick, and asked how anyone would be able to access them in the event of a fire.
He pays attention to things.

Little things that could save someone's life.

Might explain why he was a Project Manager at numerous big construction projects in NYC. Like Madison Square Garden.

On Tuesday, he and Council member Lori Vargo Heffner will join Frank Pintabone and Paul Anthony at the next GPA meeting.

Council member John Cusick said he is frustrated that the GPA's meetings are constantly being canceled, and asked McClure to start thinking about two other "zombie authorities" - The Higher Ed and Hospital Authorities. The GPA appears to have swallowed them. McClure said these authorities might have to be kept on life support if they have floated outstanding bonds, but he will end them as soon as he can. He has a good reason to do so. One of these authorities is sitting on $900,000 that could fill the county's coffers.