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Friday, February 16, 2018

NorCo Paid $3,390 For Lushis Firm Copyrights at GPA

Earlier this week, I told you that Northampton County's General Purpose Authority (GPA) Solicitor John Lushis is the attorney who represents Northampton County's General Purpose Authority (GPA) incredibly copyrighting six agreements he's prepared for the GPA. According to the U.S. Copyright office, These documents were all registered on 10/5/17 under the following copyright numbers: TX0008456750; TX0008456708; TX0008456702; TX0008456704; TX0008456707; and TX0008456700.

Lushis has made these documents the property of the law firm Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus.

I now have the bills that Lushis's firm submitted to the County in 2016 and 2017.

I'll be reporting on them this Monday, but thought you'd like to know that Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus.actually charged the county for the cost of registering these copyrights.

According to invoice #10797926, the county was billed $3,390 to file six copyright applications on 10/5/17.

A copyright application costs between $35-55 

Oh yeah, this story is copyrighted, so watch out! ©

NorCo Council Revokes $10 Million DaVinci Grant

By a 7-2 vote, NorCo Council voted last night to revoke a $10 million grant of hotel taxes to the DaVinci Science Center proposed in Easton. The ordinance passed by a lame duck Council in December would have shackled the County with annual payments of $250,000 over the next 40 years.

Earlier in the evening, when Human Services administrators complained about shortfalls in state funding for mental health, John Cusick complained that the state was more interested in subsidizing bug farms. And when the DaVinci Center came up for a vote, e added that the plan was completely changed six weeks after the grant was approved. He suggested that DaVinci Executive Director Lin Erickson had not been forthright, and reminded everyone that he failed to tell Council about a competing aquarium being considered in Monroe County.

Erickson herself was absent. Her continued presence at Council meetings and repetitive pitches were beginning to annoy some council members.

Instead of Erickson, Council heard from Easton Mayor Sal Panto and DaVinci trustee Jane Ervin. They both seemed to recognize that the grant was going to be pulled but asked council to keep an open mind when a new pitch for funding is made at a March 1 committee meeting.

"Be bold, think big," urged Ervin.

"Exercise caution, fiscal prudence," countered Cusick.

"I'm not going to hostage the county for 40 years," said Lori Vargo Heffner.But she added that neither she nor anyone on Council is anti-Easton and is willing to listen to the March 1 proposal. Ron Heckman said that if it were up to him, he'd move county offices downtown.

Even Bob Werner, who represents Easton on Council, said that a grant that goes on for 40 years is too much. But he still voted against revoking the ordinance. Peg Ferraro, who also voted No to revocation, was most concerned that this year's $250,000 go into DaVinci's coffers.

That depends on what Council approves.

Bucky Szulborski Appointed NorCo Controller

Richard "Bucky" Szulborski, who served on Bethlehem City Council for 12 years before voluntarily stepping down in 1995, was appointed  NorCo Controller last night in a 6-2-1 vote by County Council. Steve Barron resigned in January after being confirmed as Fiscal Affairs Director.

Voting for Szuloborski were Ken Kraft, Ron Heckman, Tara Zrinski, Bill McGee, Lori Vargo Heffner and Peg Ferraro. Voting  No were John Cusick and Bob Werner. Matt Dietz abstained.

Cusick, a Republican had urged Council to vote for Hayden Phillips. But other than Matt Dietz, he was unable to attract any support. Cusick, Dietz and Phillips are all Republicans.

Szulborski is a Democrat.

Dietz abstained in the vote for Szulborski, primarily because he said he would have liked to have heard from all three candidates. One of those candidates was at last night's meeting and asked to speak, but he made his request after courtesy of the floor was over.

Though Werner never explained his No vote,it may be the result of an apparent Sunshine Act violation on January 31, when the Personnel Committee met to review the applications without advertising. Council President Ken Kraft took responsibility for this error at Wednesday's Personnel Committee, where the applications were reviewed again in public, and the public was afforded two opportunities to speak.     

Szulborski has an extensive record of community service to various organizations, including Camelot for Children, the Catholic Youth Organization, the Sun Inn Preservation Association, the Bethlehem Recreation Commission, the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission and the Bethlehem Area Public Library Board.

Szulborski told Council that he does engage in real estate sales on a part-time basis on evenings and weekends. He said he has no interest in running for the job when his term expires in two years.

After Jerry Seyfried had imparted his pearls of wisdom to Council (see below), Szulborski told me that you if you cut the edges off of pills, you remove the side effects.

It's County Executive Night in NorCo!

They say that if two former county executives touch each other, the universe as we know it will cease to exist. But that did not happen last night when. by strange coincidence, three former county executives and current Executive Lamont McClure converged in NorCo Council's meeting room. From left to right, they include current Exec Lamont McClure, former NorCo Exec Glenn Reibman, former NorCo Exec Gerald E. "Jerry" Seyfried, and former Lehigh County Executive Jane Ervin.

McClure was smart enough to tap two former Executives very familiar with Northampton County, to serve on different boards. Glenn, looking trim and fit as always, was unanimously confirmed to the Airport Authority. Jerry, who made sure everyone knew he was sporting an Eagles' jacket, was unanimously appointed to the retirement (pension) board. Jane Ervin, looking beautiful as always, was at Council to make a pitch for the DaVinci Science Center.

Seyfried, who was sporting a $19 oilskin outback hat in a poor imitation of me, decided to impart some pearls of wisdom to the new County Council that he's gleaned in his 70 plus years of existence on Planet Earth."Never ever take a sleeping pill and a laxative at the same time."

Good to know.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

NorCo Parents Want Voting Out of Schools

Korry Franke
Tonight, Northampton County Council is expected to vote on five members of the Elections Commission. Executive Lamont McClure has nominated Democrats Kathy Fox, Deb Hunter and George Treisner as well as Republicans Mary Diggs and Maude Hornik to serve for two-year terms. A group of citizens want the Elections Commission to stop conducting elections at local schools, and were at last night's Personnel Committee to insist that Elections Commissioners pledge to move polling places out of schools as a condition of their appointment. They are especially concerned about voting at the Butz Elementary School in Bushkill Township, and are circulating an online petition that has already garnered 1,792 signatures. Though McClure has tweeted that he supports moving the polling place at this school, he has declined to insist that Commissioners make such a promise. 

Korry Franke was upset that McClure failed to explain in detail the criteria he used to choose commissioners. "The most important criteria we used was hope," tweeted McClure. "The hope that these volunteers would agree to accept the appointment and serve."

Franke called this answer "unacceptable and irresponsible." He called on Council to require nominees to state whether they agree that voting at schools creates an additional risk to children. He wants them to agree to use schools as an election site only if there is no acceptable alternative. Finally, he wants Commissioners to agree to move voting from Butz Elementary because the Bushkill Volunteer Fire Co. has agreed to make its facility available. Franke said that McClure should be relying on more than mere hope. "Otherwise, we're left to wonder whether these selections might have been made, perhaps,out of personal or party loyalty," he said in a prepared statement. He added that "the outdated practice of using schools as polling places needs to end."

McClure made no attempt to defend himself. So let me. As I told Franke at the meeting, he needs to read the Home Rule Charter. If he did, he'd know that Executive McClure has very little discretion with these nominations. The Executive receives three names from the party that gets the greatest number of votes, and two names from the party having the second highest vote total. He can make his own nominations only if the party chairs refuse to provide him with a list. It is completely political because that is what the Charter provides.

I happen to believe the Charter is wrong, and this is one of the many reasons why I advocated a home rule charter study. But we're stuck with it.

One of the names that McClure received, Maude Hornick, happens to be the sister of GOP county chair Lee Snover. I am sure she was selected precisely because of her party loyalty. Another nominee, George Treisner, is a long-time Dem Committeeman. It's all about party loyalty.

Though it's hard for a politician to ignore a petition signed by 1700 people, I see nothing wrong with voting at a public school. I see no public safety issues and in 2007, a Northampton County Court ruled that a school district must make its facilities available for voting.

HS Hoops: Beca v. Central Holy War Looms on Friday Night

I never expected this, but come Friday night, there will be a Holy War between Bethlehem Catholic and Allentown Central Catholic. Not just the boys' teams. Not just the girls' teams. Both teams. On the first Friday of Lent, no less. In a double header, The Vikettes will face the Hawkettes at Bethlehem's Liberty gym for the East Penn Conference championship at 6 pm. The Vikings and Hawks will follow at 8 pm.

Both Vikettes and Vikings won their semifinal battles on Wednesday night at Liberty. The Vikettes defeated Freedom, 49-32, while the Central boys squeaked by East Stroudsburg South's Cavaliers, 54-51.

There was nothing cavalier about the way East Stroudsburg South played. They are in many ways a mirror image of Central, relying on a fierce defense and guard-oriented offense. Central Point Guard Jay Vaughan was held to just three points in the first half, but managed to break free and score another 11 in the second. He led the team in scoring with 14. He also had 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Keyshawn "the beast" Kellman is who saved Central. He scored 5 field goals from inside the paint, and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jordan McChristian, Nick Filchner and Chad Kratzer added 7 points apiece.

The person who was bottled up through the night was the team's leading scorer, Dat Lambert. He was guarded the way he likes to guard others and simply was unable to get open. He took just one shot in the first half, and missed. He had just one field goal during limited action in the second half. But as the game was drawing to a close and the Cavaliers threatened, he was put back in action and sealed the victory for the Vikings by going 6-6 in free throws. He ended the night with 8.

These games had to be a welcome relief for the Vaughan family. Daughter Emily and sons Sam and Jay all play for Central. Most of the games were at the same time, meaning they had to divide them up. Anne and Jeff finally had a chance to watch sons and daughter play in back-to-back games.

They will have the same opportunity on Friday night.

Pope Benedict is picking Becahi to win, but Pope Francis is saying Central-2 over the Hawks. Neither is speaking ex cathedra, so you never know.

The Morning Call's Keith Groller has an excellent recap that includes a great interview with Keeshawn Kellman.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Correction: NorCo Corrections Officer's Death NOT Flu Related

Earlier today, I scared the hell out of a few county employees, including the Executive, when I reported that the flu had claimed the life of a 29 year old corrections officer. But I was mistaken. It turns out that this officer's death, while tragic, had nothing to do with the flu. I apologize for getting it wrong.

I first began receiving reports about this fatality early in the week in the form of anonymous comments posted here. Then today, I was approached by a local attorney who provided me with a copy of a memo that Court administrator Jermaine Greene provided to the entire court, reporting on the death as flu-related  Greene added that a second officer was on life support with flu-related symptoms.

In addition to publishing a story, I emailed administrators at the jail asking that they inform the public as soon as possible as this is a matter of public health.

Less than an hour later, Executive Lamont McClure contacted me to say that, though an officer had passed away, it had nothing to do with the flu. Nor is a second corrections officer on life support as a result of the flu

The officer who passed away is Thomas Michael LeBeau Jr., 29, of Bethlehem Twp. He is a Bloomsburg University graduate.

McClure declined to provide additional details concerning the death.

Though this flu season has been virulent, it has killed no corrections officer.

I apologize again for getting it wrong.

Corrected 10:19 pm.

McClure Nominates Pintabone, Anthony to Embattled GPA

Executive Lamont McClure has nominated two people to serve on Northampton County's embattled General Purpose Authority (GPA).

Paul Anthony, a Bethlehem resident and business manager at IBEW Local 375, has been nominated as a successor to Helene Whitaker, who served on the board for five years. Whitaker asked McClure to remove her from consideration. If conformed, Anthony will serve until 12/31/22.

Frank Pintabone, an Easton landscaper who served as President on Easton's often contentious school board, will fill the vacancy created by the sudden resignation of Neal Koplin and serve until the end of 2019.

GPA Solicitor John Lushis has huffed that the GPA, and only the GPA, can appoint someone to a mid-term vacancy. He relies on a provision in the Municipal Authorities Act under which the authority, and not the municipal governing body, "shall" name someone to the unexpired term.

So they shall. McClure wants them to name Pintabone. Although the imperative "shall" is used in the statute, that is usually construed as permissive and not mandatory unless a contrary intention is manifest. No such contrary intention is manifest. Under the Lushis interpretation, the entire board could resign mid-term, and no one would have the authority to appoint replacements. It's an absurd interpretation. In this case, the best resolution is that the GPA "shall" appoint the choice recommended by Norco Council.

I don't know whether Lushis copyrighted his legal advice.

The other five members of the GPA are Shawn Langen, Mike Dowd, Peg Ferraro, Mark Schiavone and Shawn Donahue.

Fearraro's term expires 12/31/20, but she may be there illegally. She was a member of the governing body that appointed her. Though the law may have changed,the courts at one time frowned on Council members appointing themselves to authorities. The state Supreme Court once said that "there is ‘a virtual unanimity of opinion’ among all reasonable men that it is against public policy for a public official to appoint himself to another public office within his gift ... ."

John Cusick has usually opposed the appointment of Council members and Executives to these boards.

Glenn Reibman Proposed For Airport Authority

Executive Lamont McClure has nominated one of his predecessors, Glenn Reibman, to serve on the airport authority. Reibman was NorCo Executive for two terms. If confirmed by Council, he will serve for the next five years. He will replace Anne Baum, a Capital Blue Cross exec and one of the Lehigh Valley's most prominent women in business. 

Fed Ed Just Convicted Himself

Those of you following the Fed Ed trial know that the U.S. Attorney has rested, and without calling Mike Fleck. I consider that a mistake, but it might be harmless error. FBI agents today played their taped interview with Fed Ed, in which he told numerous very obvious lies. His fatal flaw? Hubris. This Chicago transplant underestimated the FBI and guaranteed his own conviction. You can read Emily Opilo's tweets to see the hole he's dug for himself. If he does testify in his own defense, as his attorney promised, he's going to be torn apart with his taped display of arrogance. There's even a possibility that the feds will call Fleck in rebuttal.

This case is over.

Goin' Off the Deep End

I went off the deep end Tuesday. I had a really good breakfast at Angelo's, an excellent Easton eatery, with a good friend. I had my usual delicious lunch at the courthouse, followed by a taco dinner at Nazareth's Rice 'n Beans, including a side dish of rice 'n beans and lime soda. Then, I had a peanut butter pie from Bethlehem's Vegan Treats as a desert.

That's going off the deep end for me.

Then there's the case of a North Catty man who was going to step out with his wife. But he decided instead to grab a bat that happened to be laying around and beat his wife's brains in.

"I went off the deep end," was his explanation.

His notion of going off the deep end and mine are two different things.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

GPA Lawyer Copyrighted Work Done for NorCo

John Lushis is the attorney who represents Northampton County's General Purpose Authority (GPA). He's the guy who permitted that board to meet in the back room at their very first meeting this year, smack dab in front of County Executive Lamont McClure and Council President Ken Kraft. He actually had the temerity to defend this illegal action when I confronted him. He's the one who has been dragging his feet in responding to my right-to-know requests for his legal bills.

Guess what?

He's been copyrighting the agreements he's prepared for the GPA. According to the U.S. Copyright office, he's copyrighted six documents that he prepared, either as an agent of the GPA or as some sort of super secret stealth Solicitor to former Executive John Brown. These include a Public-Private Partnership Agreement (original and final), P3 Project Administration Agreement (original and final) and P3 License Agreement (original and final). These documents were all registered on 10/5/17 under the following copyright numbers: TX0008456750; TX0008456708; TX0008456702; TX0008456704; TX0008456707; and TX0008456700.

Instead of registering these documents with the GPA or Northampton County, who paid for them, Lushis has made these documents the property of the law firm Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus.

Another attorney who worked at that firm, Scott Allinson, is currently on trial in Allentown for political corruption. 

Lushis obviously intends to benefit financially from the work he did for Northampton County. This would be in addition to the money he was paid as a supposed public servant.

Under the law, work done by an officer or employee of the federal government, when done as part of that person's official duties, is considered to be in the public domain. Though it's possible for state and local government to seek copyrights, public policy prevents their application to "edicts of government." This includes judicial opinions, administrative rulings, legislative enactments, public ordinances and similar official legal documents that have the force of law. (Compendium 313.6(C)(2)).

It's questionable whether these documents are subject to copyright. But assuming that they are, the protected party should be Northampton County, not some law firm in Allentown.

I'm still waiting for the Lushis bills.Maybe they've been copyrighted, too.

Oh yeah, this story is copyrighted, so watch out! ©

15th Congressional District Endorsements Pile Up

Congressional candidate Susan Wild received some publicity yesterday that I'm sure she'd prefer to avoid. She testified for the government in the federal prosecution of Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. She's Allentown's former Solicitor, and handled herself with integrity, but there are those who will blast her as well, usually anonymously.

But she's received a flurry of endorsements that include former Lehigh County Exec Tom Muller and the following current or former members of Allentown City Council: Courtney Robinson, Candida Affa, and Cynthia Mota, Ray O’Connell and David McGuire. She also has the endorsement of the Bobsey twins, State Reps. Pete Schweyer and Mike "Darth Voter" Schlossberg.

Congressional candidate Greg Edwards is supported by Bethlehem City Council member Olga Negron, Common Defense and several left-wing PACs from out of the area.

I am unaware of any endorsements for candidates Bill Leiner or Dave Weidman.

I told you yesterday about the Lehigh Valley Labor Council's endorsement of John Morganelli for Congress. Business agent Ken Kraft pointed out to me the labor Council is actually a collection of the following trade unions: Insulators and Asbestos Local 23; Boilermakers Local 13 Bricklayers; Tilesetters and Cement Masons Local 5; Cement Masons and Plasterers Local 592; Electricians IBEW Local 102; Electricians IBEW Local 375; Elevator Constructors Local 84; Glaziers, Architectural Metal Workers Local 252 DC 21; Heavy and Highway Laborers Local 158; Ironworkers Local 36; Laborers Local 1174; Millwrights Local 1906; Painters Local 1269 DC 21; Plumbers Local 690; Road Sprinkler Fitters Local 669; Roofers and Waterproofers Local 30; Sheet Metal Workers Local 19; Steamfitters Local 420; and Teamsters Local 773.

As for the Republicans, I have no idea what is going on at this moment. I would think that Ryan MacKenzie will have a tough time against Oluympic medalist Marty Nothstein. This might explain why his campaign office sent me a juvenile hit piece aimed at Nothstein. That's something I'd expect from Justin Simmons. Dean Browning was hoping to stand out in a large field of candidates. I think his chances have faded. 

Should Nazareth School Director Step Down?

Should Nazareth School Director Linda McDonald resign? Should a court be asked to remove her? These are questions currently being considered by Nazareth parents who are upset that recently elected school director Linda Director Linda McDonald may have been improperly elected.

McDonald has served on the sometimes contentious school board before, and in various capacities. She's been president and VP . But she resigned, effective January 11, 2016. She told the Board she was moving to Massachusetts at the end of 2015.

At the time of her resignation, she was employed at Essroc as a development analyst. Essroc does have a plant in Massachusetts.

According to an anonymous letter I received over the weekend, McDonald registered to vote in Massachusetts and even voted there in the November 2016 election.

Recently, McDonald found a new job with Air Products as a business support coordinator. Her LinkedIn page indicates she started there in July 2017.

In October 2017, she purchased a home in Upper Nazareth at Westminster Way.  In November 2017, she waged a write-in campaign for school director and won.

But did she reside in the school district for a full year before her election?

Section 322 of the Public School Code provides that a school director must be a citizen, at least 18 years old, of good moral character, and a resident of the school district for at least one year prior to the date of election or appointment. It is questionable whether McDonald meets this residency requirement.

According to my information, she has attended no meetings since her election, but she will be brought in as needed by some of the more senior directors who are unconcerned about whether she was lawfully elected so long as she votes with them.

I have reached out to McDonald but have heard nothing.

The appropriate way to remove McDonald from office is by quo warranto. Only the District Attorney or his designee has such authority.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Boys' Hoops: Allentown Advances to Semi-Final in EPC Tournament

Morning Call senior sports writer Keith Groller is a lucky man. He was at this year's Super Bowl, and had a series of great stories that made me feel like I was there. But he's #alwayswatching. He somehow managed to keep on eye on things here. Tonight, he covered the EPC quarter final between Northampton and Allentown Central Catholic, which was played at Rockne Hall. His excellent story is here, and I am supplementing it with a box score.

It didn't hit me until about an hour after the game was over that I had just watched my grandson play his last game at Rockne Hall.The team will go on to play in the EPC tournament semifinal on Wednesday. Then there will be districts and possibly even states. But this was the last time that Dat, Jay Vaughan, Jordan McChristian, Dennis Csentsis and Keeshawn Kellman played together at Rockne. Kevin Kern, who injured his ankle earlier in the season, was cleared today and suited up. It was too early for him to play, but it was nice to see him ready to go. These guys are selfless, something that is increasingly rare in high school basketball. But it works.

Having said that, I want to congratulate Northampton's coaching staff, for what its worth. In their last game of the season,one of their players committed a technical foul. The coaches could have played him against Central. No rule prevented it. But the coaches decided  to make the player sit out the game.

In the opening prayer at Central home games, we are reminded that the gym is really a classroom where good sportsmanship is taught.

Northampton's coaches would rather teach a young man a lesson than win a game.

That's class.

On Wednesday, Allentown Central Catholic will face East Stroudsburg South while Bethlehem Catholic will take on the Allen Canaries. At this point, the team is tentatively scheduled to play at Liberty High Schoolat 7:30 pm, following the girls' game.

Box Score

ACCHS - 64, Northampton - 48

Northampton -6-9-19-48
Central Catholic -18-20-15-64

Northampton (48)

Donte Rodriguez: 3  3FGs - 9
Aiden Ellwood: 4FGs, 4 3FGs, 0/2 FTs  - 20
Cory Weisenberger: 1 FGs, 1 3FG, - 5
Zachary Gula: 2 3FG - 6
Michael Torres: 4 FGs, - 8

Central Catholic (64)

Jay Vaughan: 2/4 3FG, 2/4 FG, 2 steals, 10 assists, 4 rebounds - 10
Keeshawn Kellman: 6/8 FGs, 1/3 FTs, 8 rebounds, 1 block -12
Jordan McChristian: 3/4 3FGs, 1/1 FG, 3/4 FTs, 1 assists, 3 rebounds - 14
Dat Lambert: 3/6 3FG, 2/5 FGs, 5/5 FTs, 1 steal, 2 rebound - 18
Nick Filchner: 3/5 3FG, 0/1 FG, 5 assists, 32 rebounds.- 9.

Blogger's Note: You can see scores from other local schools on my left sidebar. 

GPA Continues to Stall RTK Seeking Lawyer Bills

Former NorCo Exec Bill Brackbill once likened government authorities to "runaway trains." They may start off in the right direction, but there is always a danger that they will go off track. That seems to be the case at the Northampton County General Purpose Authority (GPA). It started off the new year with a Sunshine Act violation. It paid an unknown sum (believed to be $60,000-70,000) to the very public relations firm that former Executive John Brown was using to promote himself, oblivious to the public outrage and lawsuits. Last year, without the knowledge or assent of NorCo Council, it voted to pay $200 per hour to Board Chair Shawn Langen so he could review engineering work done for a bridge project. Solicitor John Lushis may have been doing side work for Executive John Brown and passing the bills through the GPA. He wagged his finger in the  face of the County Administrator following a meeting last week. And now, Lushis is dragging his feet on a Right-to-Know request for information from GPA, including Lushis's bills.

I submitted two Right-to-Know requests in January, asking for the Lushis bills, the public relations bills, and all correspondence concerning the jail, especially at Gracedale  After playing some games about my requests, Lushis agreed to respond to me by February 15. That would be this week.

But late Friday, Lushis sent me an email telling me he wanted another extension until April 15 because there were 3,000 documents. This stall tactic is being used in the forlorn hope that I will lose interest. I won't.

I can understand a delay might be needed if the request is more burdensome than I originally thought it would be. But he needs to produce his legal bills. Now.

Below is my response to Lushis:

Mr. Lushis,

I have filed two Right-to-Know requests seeking information from the General Purpose Authority (GPA). In both, I made clear that I would agree to an extension, so long as it was to a date certain. You serve the GPA body as Solicitor and Right-to-Know Officer. You sought such an extension until February 15. This was not fine with me, but I kept my word and posed no objection.

On Friday, February 9, at the end of the day, you wrote to advise me you wanted yet another extension until April 15. This is because you suddenly discovered that over 3,000 documents need review.

I will agree in part to your request, although this is now a second date certain. I have no desire to unduly burden staff .

At this point, when you are ready to release these documents, have someone contact me so I can make an appointment to review them and determine how many copies are needed. Having done this before, I know that there is lots of duplication.

But I agree to no additional extension with respect to your legal invoices. They were approved at numerous meetings as a matter of public record. I have made no request that you disclose any legal advice you may have provided. I simply want and have a right to know how much the taxpayers paid you, and immediately. This is information at your fingertips. Your delay at this point smacks of bad faith.

Why are you hiding what the public pays you?

I expect you to produce your legal invoices on the agreed date of February 15, along with a record of all payments made to you.

Thank you.

Bernie O'Hare

Latest Developments in 15th Congressional District Race

After being rebuffed by the Unites States Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania legislature's top two Republicans - Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Speaker of the House Mike Turzai - have submitted a new map to the Governor. This time, they didn't even bother gettojg a vote. That's alright because the map they presented is almost certainly doomed, as is suggested in The Unionville Times. The new map is little more than an incumbent insurance policy, especially in the southeast. But one district it gets right is the 15th Pa. Congressional district. i suspect that portion of the map will survive with little change. And that bodes well for candidates John Morganelli and Susan Wild.

It bodes well for District Attorney John Morganelli because the Lehigh Valley is blue collar Democrat country. He easily won this area against the more liberal Josh Shapiro in the Attorney General race. It's good news for Allentown Attorney Susan Wild because the new map takes her only female competitor, Laura Quick, out of the picture.

It's bad news for Rev. Greg Edwards, whose condemnation of educational apartheid is likely to offend many Lehigh Valley Democrats despite the money he spends from outside the district. There are better ways of improving education than calling everyone involved a racist. Also, the new 15th has already drawn Rick Daugherty back into the picture. He'll be running for the third or fourth time, and he and Edwards will be taking votes from each other.

It's also good news for Ryan MacKenzie and Marty Nothstein because it takes Mike Pries and Scott Uehlinger out of the race. Though they can run, they no longer would be living in the district. It's bad news for Dean Browning, who was hoping for a more crowded field.

Edward has the endorsement of Bethlehem City Councilmember Olga Negron. Wild has been endorsed by former Lehigh county Exec Tom Muller. On Sunday, received the endorsement of the Lehigh Valley Building Trades Council. The Lehigh Valley Building Trades Council includes the Boilermakers Local 13, The Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Local 5, Carpenters Local 167, Cement Masons & Plasters Local 592, Electricians Locals 102 and 375, Elevators Construction Local 84, Glaziers & Architectural Metal Workers Local 252, Heat & Frost Insulators Local 23 and the Ironworkers Local 420 and Operating Engineers.

Their endorsement was unanimous.

Morganelli has a long history with labor, growing up in a labor household. John's father was a member of the Operating Engineers Local #542, the Laborers Union , the Steelworkers, and Teamsters. His mother was a member of the ILGWU. Before becoming the District Attorney, John represented the Bethlehem Corporation Employees Association and is the only district attorney who has fought to enforce the Construction Misclassification Act.

In accepting the endorsement, District Attorney Morganelli said, "In Washington, I will make protecting the middle class, growing wages, and access to health care my priorities. I have spent my career as a Democratic elected official defending the working man, and I pledge to continue that as the next Congressman from the 15th Congressional District."

Blogger's Note: I support john Morganelli for Congress and home you vote for him anyway.

Texas Teacher Dies From Flu, Delayed Getting $116 in Meds

A second grade Texas teacher has died from the flu because she was unable or unwilling to pick up her prescription, which was $116 with copay. Her delay may be because she was frugal, was unable to afford the medication or simply hates taking pills. I fall in all three of those categories myself. Unfortunately, this will continue no matter whether Obamacare, single payer or some other form of health insurance is in place.

Ultimately, staying healthy is a losing battle.

The Pa. Department of Health reports that, as of February 3, flu is widespread throughout the state, with the highest activity in the southeast. Statewide, there have been 91 deaths so far, including one in Northampton County.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Boys Hoops: Playoffs Under Way

Support your favorite team!

Monday: EPC quarter-finals at 7 pm

#8 seed Parkland at #1 seed Becahi.
#5 seed Allen at #4 seed Pocono Mountain West
#6 seed Easton at #3 seed East Stroudsburg South
#7 seed Northampton at #2 seed Allentown Central Catholic

Tuesday: Colonial League playoff games at Catasauqua High School

Southern Lehigh will face #2 seed Moravian Academy at 6 pm.
Wilson High School will face #1 seed Bangor at 7:30 pm. 

Friday, February 09, 2018

Will Fleck Be Called in Fed Ed Trial?

Most of the evidence in the political corruption case against Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski has been pretty solid. It's a bit weaker against Attorney Scott Allinson, but I'm not sure the "My client is a drunk" defense is playing very well with the jury. Sam Ruchlewicz was the one disaster. Defense Attorney Jack McMahon had a field day with him. This may have made the feds reluctant to call the other admitted liar, Mike Fleck, to the stand. The theory is that they can rely on wiretaps and recordings without exposing Fleck to McMahon.

This would be a mistake. First, McMahon can simply call Fleck as a witness himself. Second, McMahon could argue, "Where's Fleck?," as the case continues. Third, Fleck is no Ruchlewicz.

he hinted around about that possibility when Celeste Dee, a former Flack employee who is actually a victim in this matter, was called to testify. In response to questioning by McMahon, Dee said no one was closer to Fed Ed than Fleck.

"So he would be the best one to tell this jury what really happened," suggested McMahon. This statement resulted in objections.

McMahon is laying the foundation to attack the government for failing to present the witnesses against Fed Ed.

Though Fleck can be attacked on the stand for his dishonesty, he has admitted tohis criminal behavior and can tell the jury that, unlike Ruchlewicz, he is payng a price. Alos, despite his shortcomings, fleck is a very likable person who could help win the jury over.

Boys Hoops: Central Finishes Season With Tough Win Over Nazareth

"Who Dat" Lambert and Keeshawn "the
beast" Kellman both had career highs
At this time last year, Allentown Central Catholic was fighting for its life. It had already failed to qualify for the league playoffs, and needed to beat Nazareth at Nazareth to be able to limp into districts. The Vikings managed to win that game, on Nazareth's senior night, by a score of 60-57.

This year, those roles were reversed. Nazareth had failed to qualify for the East Penn Conference tournament. It needed a win against Central on Central's Senior night on Thursday to keep its hopes alive for districts. But despite their best efforts, the Blue Eagles came up short.

It was yet another exciting game at a packed Rockne Hall, where the crowds have grown as the season has progressed. When the final buzzer went off, the Vikings were on top, 67-61. Though I feel bad for Nazareth, who played us very hard in a game earlier this year, it was a great way for Central to finish its season at Rockne Hall.

Dat Lambert, who was introduced to sports as a toddler by kids living in Nazareth and played at the Green Street park, will probably remember this game the rest of his life. He scored a career high 25 points, including 5 from beyond the arc. That's five, people.


He was also 4/4 from the free throw line.

Sophomore Nick Filchner will probably exceed that total before his high school playing days are over. He sunk 4 from downtown. That's four, people.

Nick ended the night with 14. What was remarkable about Nick's effort is that he only missed one shot. Everything else went in the hole.

The Baryshnikov of Basketball
Keeshawn "the beast" Kellman, who was injured at the start of the season, has become the team's He-Man in the paint. He took over when Kevin Kern, a very tough forward, went down a few weeks ago. He has risen to the occasion, and has become the backbone of this team as he jealously guards from under the boards. From above the rim. he can bring a THUNDEROUS dunk, while blocking the attempts of his opponents.

Then there's Senior Point Guard Jay Vaughan, who glides across the court with the grace of a ballet dancer. The Baryshnikov of Basketball scored 9 points, including a three. What is special about him is his ability to find the person in best position to make the shot. He had 8 assists, which is the norm for him. He also is a formidable defender who can strip a ball and score before his opponent knows his pocket has been picked.

Nazareth's Blue Eagles were just as dangerous as they were earlier this year. Three players - Maihan Ramin, Jahan Dotson and Noah Briggs - finished the night in double digits.

Central has finished its season to head into playoffs with 19 wins and 3 losses. Part of the reason for that is its very tough defense, combined with its ability to shoot 3s. Tonight, for example, the team hit 10 of them. But what makes this team special is its chemistry. These guys look out for each other, care about each other and pick each other up. And any one of them can come out of nowhere and light things up. Jordan "McCrush" McChristian, for example, was high scorer in the two previous games. Chad "the X-factor" Kratzer has also bailed the team out in several contests.

Central will host the Easton Red Rovers in the East Penn Conference quarter-finals on Monday night.This will be the first meeting of these two teams. Easton is a well-coached and young team that everyone had counted out. They might have more raw talent than any other team.

Parkland will visit Beca. Yes, the Trojans made it to the playoffs, even though the team is in re-building mode. They keep getting better with every game.

Northampton, which had been ranked #1, has had a series of recent losses and will visit East Stroudsburg South  They may have peaked too soon.

The final quarter final game is between Pocono Mountain West and William Allen. I believe (but am not sure) that Allen will host the game.. According to Keith Groller, Pocono Mountain West will host Allen.

Box Score

ACCHS - 67, Nazareth - 61

Nazareth - 9-23-38-61

Central Catholic -16-26-46-67

Nazareth (61)

Maihan Ramin: 6FGs, 2/3 FTs -14
Anthony Harris: 2FGs - 4
Jahan Dotson: 4 FGs, 1 3FG, 3/4 FTs -14
Nick Clark: 1 FG, 1 3FG - 5
Alex Houchin: 1 FG, 1/2 FTs - 3
Mason Wickmann: 1 FG, 4/4 FTs - 6
Noah Briggs: 2 FG, 3 3FGs - 13
Jarred Bachik: 2/4 FTs - 2

Central Catholic (67)

Jay Vaughan: 1/1 3FG, 3/3 FG, 1 steals, 8 assists - 9
Keeshawn Kellman: 7/11 FGs, 3/4 FTs, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks -17
Jordan McChristian: 1/3 FGs, 0/3 3FGs, 0/1 FTs, 1 assists, 2 rebound, - 2
Dat Lambert: 5/8 3FG, 3/3 FG, 4/4 FTs, 3 assists, 2 steals, 4 rebound - 25
Nick Filchner: 4/5 3FG, 1/2 FG, 4 assists, 2 rebounds.- 14.

Blogger's Note: You can see scores from other local schools on my left sidebar. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

NorCo GPA Board Members Need to Go

GPA Chair Langen poses with Glenn Geissinger,
just days before the election, and you paid for this
lousy picture.  
NorCo General Purpose Authority (GPA) Chair Shawn Langen insisted at Monday's meeting that he is completely apolitical. He made the same claim in a separate meeting with me. But the facts tell a different story. It prostituted itself to help former Executive John Brown in his bid for re-election.  Its Chairman began charging the County for work, something that has never happened before and was never disclosed to Northampton County Council. It has also lost sight of its role as nothing more than a conduit for loans. It instead began taking steps so it could market itself as the place for local governments to come if they want to do a P3 project. It would do nothing for the County. But it might help Solicitor John Lushis line his pockets.Its time to seek resignations from the entire board. Helene Whitaker, whose term already expired at the end of last year, has told current Executive Lamont McClure that she's done. Another board member, Neal Koplin, has resigned. That leaves the Board with five members who need to go.

Last year, the GPA hired Sahl Communications, the very same firm that Executive John Brown had hired at public expense to try and make himself look good. the result was two lawsuits. Despite what happened, GPA hired Sahl at Brown's request and paid this firm was paid between $60,000-70,000 in public funds in a thinkly veiled attempt to get himself re-elected.

Sahl created a completely web page for the GPA, even though one already exists as part of the county web page. Sahl also set up a Facebook page, loaded with pictures of John Brown. They are still there, even though he is no longer the Executive.

Sahl then promoted an October 27 groundbreaking ceremony  for work on the first of 33 bridges being repaired or replaced  Though careful to make sure that I was never informed, Morning Call reporter Tom Shortell was there. He is much nicer than I.

The reason I was kept in the dark is because the groundbreaking ceremony was planned just days before the election. It was obviously political. John Brown, Peg Ferraro and Glenn Geissinger were all seeking re-election, and were hoping to get some free publicity. The Facebook page includes pictures of them all, taken at public expense on election eve.

Shortell, to my knowledge, never ran that story. The Express Times no longer really exists. So the hoped for publicity never came.

A third grader could have done a better job of setting up the Facebook and web page. It was a complete waste of public money.

The five GPA board members who need to go are Mike Dowd, Peg Ferraro, Langen, Mark Schiavone and  Shawn Donahue.

Mike Dowd is a former NorCo Council president, but us the person who actually made the motion to violate the Sunshine Act and go into executive session in January without bothering to explain why. He knows better. Also, he chairs the Airport Authority. One of these shadow governments is enough.

Peg Ferraro was MIA last January, when the Board voted to pay Langen. She may have even been absent when the GPA voted to retain Sahl. She definitely was absent in January, when the Sunshine Act violation occurred. Even at the most recent meeting, she participated by phone from Florida. She clearly lacks the time for this responsibility. In addition, there is caselaw providing that an elected official should not be a part of a board that the elected official helps to appoint. Courts have found this to be contrary to public policy.

I have nothing against Schiavone or Donahue, and perhaps they should be re-appointed. but they should offer their resignations and let McClure decide.

Langen should never have agreed to permit Lushis to work for the GPA and simultaneously work for then Executive John Brown, as some sort of secret P3 Solicitor. This is an inherent conflict of interest. Langen should also have realized that he should never accept a dime without getting approval from NorCo Council, regardless what Lushis might tell him.

The person who really needs to go is board Solicitor John Lushis. He is there to sell P3 projects, not assist what is supposed to be a conduit agency for loans.

NorCo Receives Grant For Drug Court

Judge Craig Dally prefers diplomas to drug court
grads over jail sentences. 
Northampton County has just been awarded a $132,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to expand programming services for the Northampton County Adult Drug Court. The money will fund staff training, client monitoring, and needs based assistance to clients inclusive of housing, transportation, and ancillary needs. The grant also provides sober living activities.

Opioid use, and the fatal overdoses that accompany it, has plagued the nation and the Lehigh Valley. The Drug Court, launched on April 2, 2015, emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. Participants benefit from a system that addresses their individual needs, keeping them out of jail, and helping them access social services on their path to sobriety. Traditional prison and jail sentences do not always offer drug users treatment for their addictions. The Drug Court combines treatment with strict court oversight. Keeping an individual out of prison saves taxpayers $112.15 per day. To keep someone in a Northampton jail for a full year costs $40,374.

Drug overdose deaths have increased sharply on the Lehigh Valley since 2014, according to records maintained by both the Northampton and Lehigh County Coroners. These fatalities have increased sharply even though drug overdose kits have been widely available and have been used by first responders over the past year.

In Northampton County, drug overdose deaths have tripled since 2014. There were 31 deaths that year. As of October 25, 91 Northampton County residents had succumbed to opiates. In Lehigh County, there were 88 drug overdose deaths in 2014. In 2017, that number has soared to 167 as of October 22. "Unfortunately, we are outperforming Norco," complained then Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller.

NorCo Coroner Zach Lysek has told Council that his staff now collects a decedent's prescription drugs. This year, his team has collected 407 pounds of drugs thus far.

Former Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller said that "as you clamp down on the Rx side, the 'market' tends to shift to the even more dangerous illegal market where fentanyl has become prominent."

Fenatanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. It is sometimes sold as heroin, leading to overdoses.

According to Muller, "This isn’t just an Allentown and minorities issue, as the prejudiced and ignorant mind might suspect."

NorCo's Children Youth and Families Director Kevin Dolan would certainly agree. He has told Council that caseworkers responding to complaints have observed the problem has had a widespread impact on wealthier suburban communities where the parent, and not the child, is addicted.

Since April 2015, the Northampton County Drug Court has provided a pathway for substance addicted individuals involved in the criminal justice system a pathway to sustained recovery. The Court currently has an enrollment of fifty-six (56) participants, and to date, it has had nine (9) successful graduates.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

"Apolitical" GPA Tried to Re-elect Brown

I was the first person to ever exercise "courtesy of the floor" and address Northampton County's General Purpose Authority (GPA) at their monthly meeting yesterday. As I pointed out, that might be because they meet at 8:15 am. I was there to discuss their blatant Sunshine Act violation in January, when they ducked into executive session without bothering to say why, either before or after the back room meeting.  I received a less than warm reception. As I suspected, it's beginning to appear that this is becoming a runaway board.

Instead of existing to serve the best interests of Northampton county, the GPA has become a platform from which P3 deals are being marketed so that board solicitor John Lushis, yet another Norris McLaughlin Marcus lawyer, can line his pockets. Board Chair Shawn Langen is now billing the county for his services on P3 projects. The GPA spent between $60,000-70,000 to market not just P3, but former Executive John Brown, right before the election. Lushis is also telling them that they, and not NorCo Council, are the ones who must appoint a replacement for a GPA Board member who recently resigned. In the meantime, Lushis is dragging his feet on three Right-to-Know request that will answer how much money he has been paid.

During yesterday's meeting, Langen hypocritically made a point of stressing that the GPA is completely apolitical. Really? The GPA paid between $60,000-70,000 to Kim Plyler, Brown's ex propaganda machine,  so she could make a splash for the ribbon cutting on Brown's P3 project. This groundbreaking occurred on October 21, right before the election. Plyler made sure to include photos of Brown, Peg Ferraro, and Glenn Geissinger, all of whom were seeking re-election.

So much for apolitical.

Fortunately, Plyler is incompetent. The only publicity was on the GPA Facebook page. I saw nothing in either daily.

Langen stated yesterday that he is willing to donate his salary to charity. He has also told me that the way the P3 law is written, county employees are unable to review the work, and he appears to be qualified from his years of experience at Arcadia as a project manager.

I have no problem with Langen, who appears to be well-intentioned. But he should have realized that Brown was using him to promote his re-election, and spent public funds to do so.

I do have a problem with Lushis.

After the meeting, he approached Administrator Charles Dertinger and began wagging a finger in his face. Dertinger Not a good idea.

Fed Ed - "I'm Actually Terrified"

I played hooky yesterday afternoon to watch the political corruption trial against Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski and Scott Allinson, a former partner at the Norris McLaughlin Marcus law firm. Morning Call coverage has been excellent, but I had to see things for myself. Most of my readers know that I consider Fed Ed completely corrupt. I have felt that way long before this investigation started. But if I had to decide this case based solely on what I saw in court yesterday, I'd vote to acquit. The reason is Sam Ruchlewicz. Fortunately for those of us seeking justice, there's much more to this case than him.

Let me tell you a little about what I saw. I arrived during the lunch break. I noticed that the prosecution side was empty, but there were several defense lawyers on the Fed Ed and Allinson side of the courtroom, looking through files. That's a rough indication to me that the defense thinks it's in trouble.

When he entered the courtroom, Allinson made no eye contact with anyone. He originally sat with his back turned to everyone. Fed Ed also failed to look people in the eye. He did at one point speak to his wife and mother-in-law, but that was it. He mostly sat at the defense table, occasionally pouring himself a glass of water. He made no attempt to instruct his defense lawyer, who never once asked him anything.

Judge Juan Sánchez, a diminutive and smiling man who was born in Puerto Rico and has a slight accent, is presiding. Though he's a former legal aid lawyer as well as a public defender, he has the reputation of being perhaps the most pro-prosecution judge among those in the Eastern District. Throughout the afternoon, he sustained nearly ever objection made by prosecutors, and quietly admonished criminal defense lawyer Jack McMahon a few times.

He runs a tight courtroom. When he called for a five minute recess, he was back in four. He also made a point of looking at his watch as he waited for a straggler.

Though all rise for Judge Sánchez, he and the rest of us remain standing for the jury as they enter the room. They are the ultimate deciders in this case. They were equipped with several monitors so they could view evidence as it is being presented. Though I've been told that they've lost interest during some of McMahon's previous cross-examinations, they listened closely to his extensive cross-examination of Ruchlewicz.

McMahon himself was at the top of his game. I've seen him try cases in Northampton County, and in two of these cases, he was ineffective. But he was a masterful showman in the courtroom yesterday. He was prepared yet theatrical. At one point, while making points in his cross, he stood behind Fed Ed with his hands on his shoulder, humanizing him. When admonished by the court, he'd be very apologetic and then continue to do what he's been doing all along.

Ruchlewicz himself is a terrible person. He's self-absorbed and I am sure he impressed few jurors when he mentioned being "abroad" during his testimony. During breaks in testimony, he was sequestered from everyone by the FBI.

What really did him in for me is a recording (and yes, sometimes there is video) of a meeting that he and Matt McTish had with Fed Ed at the Hamilton. When he saw Fed Ed make his way into the restaurant, he repeatedly disparaged him to McTish. As Pawlowski stopped to talk to people, Ruchleicz called him a "motormouth." He added that Pawlowski was "like a toddler in an ice cream shop." When Ruchlewicz spied former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan talking to Fed Ed, he said, "Who doesn't like Johnny Casino?"

Fed Ed made his pitch to McTish - he was running for the Senate and needed McTish's help - and then left. McMahon's point was that there was no solicitation by Pawlowski to commit bribery. But Fed Ed's departure was very likely purposeful.

While Ruchlewicz was like the male equivalent of a Mean Girls cast member, Mike Fleck appeared to be a complete goof who was unable to stop laughing in conversations about the acquisition of Eagles tickets for a playoff game. Fed Ed got some from the Pennoni engineering firm as well as another city vendor. Ruchlewicz was tasked with getting a bunch of them from different sources that included the delinquent tax collector.

Shortly before the shit hit the fan, Fed Ed got wise to Ruchlewicz. What frosted him was that Ruchlewicz had sent a text message to Ramzi Haddad, assuring him that Allentown would buy or lease one of Haddad's properties for the City's Public Works. What bothered Fed Ed was not so much that the promise had been made, but that he had done so in writing.

"If Sam keeps this up, we're gonna' be in jail," Fed Ed tells Fleck.

"If any of this ever comes out in writing, we're fucked," agrees Mike Fleck.

"I'm actually terrified," said Fed Ed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Is Democratic Failure to Applaud Trump Treasonous?

The question itself is absurd, betraying a total misunderstanding of both treason and the First Amendment. Yet that's precisely what Authoritarian Donald Trump claimed in a speech on Monday. He was complaining that Democrats sat on their hands instead of applauding him.

According to NBC,
he suggested that failure to cheer him was "treasonous," and then added, "Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much."

He is currently trying to discredit the Justice Department so he can remake it in his own image.

Once that happens, he can do what other strong-arm dictators do and round up his opponents. He is a threat to our Constitution and to democracy.

Superbowl Aftermath: Philly Goes Nutz

Lock up your women and children! Eagles' fans are on the loose!

I've done some cRaZy things back in the day. I've gone skinny dipping at 3 AM in a stranger's pool with a bunch of other drunks. I've done many other things that are pretty shameful, as you might expect from a drunk who lost his license to practice law.

But I never punched a police horse.

When the Eagles hosted Minnesota, two fans were arrested for just such an equine assault. One of the assailants calls Whitehall home.

But that's just one of those things, right?


In the aftermath of the Eagles Superbowl victory, joyous fans decided to steal two police horses. Reports that an ostrich was stolen from the zoo turned out to be false, especially since the zoo has no ostriches. But a car was flipped, and for some reason, a Christmas tree was set ablaze. A cop was accidentally run over by a four-wheeler. The Ritz Carlton awning collapsed, and today I heard one radio personality claim he has a piece.

Good fun.

Then some bastard actually started eating horse shit.

In fairness, it might have been a reaction to Justin Timberlake's half-time show.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Boys Hoops: Allentown Central Catholic Picks Up 18th Win Against Stroudsburg

With just one game to go in the regular season, Allentown Central Catholic now has 18 victories and 3 losses. Monday night's win came courtesy of the Stroudsburg Mountaineers (7-13), who are in rebuilding mode this year

It was supposed to be an easy victory, but somebody forgot to tell Stroudsburg. The score was tied at the end of the first quarter, 11-11, and still tied at the half, 21-21.

Vikings had no problem during warm-up, but they only shot 30% in the first half.

That changed as the second half got underway. Central built up a small lead and spent most of the fourth quarter protecting it.

Jordan "McCrush" McChristian was top Viking scorer with 15. Leading the way foir the Mountaineers was Saveon Jackson, with 16.

Central returns to Rockne and will host Nazareth on Wednesday night. Nazareth lost to Emmaus on Monday night, 58-53, and may as a result be denied a spot in the East Penn Conference championship.

Box Score

ACCHS - 55, Stroudsburg - 42

Central Catholic - 11-21-44-55
Stroudsburg - 11-21-35-42

Stroudsburg (42)

Nyshan Sadler: 1FG - 2
Saveon Jackson: 7 FG, 2/3 FT - 16
Marcin Ogrodniczuk: 1 FG - 2
Edwin Ferreras: 1 FG, 2/4 FT - 4
Colin Brady: 5 FG, 4/5 FT - 14
Del'Ron Card: 2/2 FT -2
Na'iln Kettrles: 1 FG -2

Central Catholic (55)

Jay Vaughan: 3/5 FG, 1/3 3FG, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals - p
Keeshawn Kellman: 3/5 FG, 0/1 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 block,
Jordan McChristian: 3/4 3FG, 3/5 FGs, 1/2 FTs, 1 assists, 4 rebound, 1 steal - 15
Dat Lambert: 3/6 FG, 1/3 3FG, 4/4 FTs, 2 steals, 2 assists - 13
Nick Filchner: 2/3 3FG, 1/1 FG, 2 assists, 2 rebounds.- 8.

Blogger's Note: You can see scores from other local schools on my left sidebar.

Fly, Eagles, Fly!

Underdogs to Atlanta. Underdogs to Minnesota. Underdogs to New England.

A team that never gave up on itself, even after its franchise player went down with a season-ending injury. A team that in fact embraced the underdog moniker.

Superbowl champions.

Yes, it's just a game. But the best games are those that inspire hope and confidence in all of us.

Congrats to the Philadelphia Eagles on an amazing season and brilliant Superbowl against a very worthy foe.

Updated 8 am with comment from Chris Casey on Facebook: NBC should be embarrassed by how their announcers called this game. Al [Michaels] and Chris [Collinsworth] seemed very disappointed that the Patriots lost. They questioned the validity of Eagles touchdowns and overlooked an equal number of calls that went the Patriots' way. Dare I say that the Eagles gave a great effort, played well, and won the game because they deserved to?

Meanwhile, in Lehigh County

Lehigh County Exec Phillips Armstrong is calling Bingo on a Friday night at St. Elizabeth's Church in Whitehall. This man is always smiling!

Melissa Shafer: BT's Loss is St.Luke's Gain

Melissa Shafer, who has been Bethlehem Township Manager since March 2014, is leaving the public sector for St. Luke's Hospital. She will be taking Jane George's job in government and community relations.

At St. Luke's, Shafer will be responsible for developing and maintaining positive working relationships with elected officials and their staffs. She will also review legislation and advocate policy positions.

During her tenure at Bethlehem Township, Shafer was an advocate of increased transparency. She started the practice of having everything considered by Township Commissioners made available online. She enhanced the Township website and promoted the use of social media that included Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. She also promoted Nixle, which warns residents about traffic changes or emergency situations. It has been activated three times in recent months for police standoffs.

Shafer is a graduate of Millersville University and has a Master's degree in Public Administration from Villanova University.

Before coming to Bethlehem Township, she was Chalfont Borough Manager for over six years.

Friday, February 02, 2018

ACCHS Vikings Defeat Emmaus 56-44

A balanced offense and stingy defense combined to give Allentown Central Catholic their 16th victory of the season against a young Whitehall (5-13) team on Tuesday night at Rockne Hall. Would that same strategy work inside a loud and angry hornets' nest in Emmaus? Why, Yes! On Friday night, before a packed house at Emmaus' abnormally tiny gym, the Vikings conquered in a low-scoring game, 56-44. It is the second time this season that Central defeated Emmaus.

Jordan McChristian was top scorer for the Vikings with 16 points, including four from downtown. But what won this game was Jay Vaughan's masterful ballet as point guard. With grace, he'd streak across the court with an uncanny ability to spot the open player. He finished the night with 9 assists.

When Emmaus least expected it, the Baryshnikov of Basketball would just stop and shoot.


Emmaus would hear that swish 11 times before the night was over. But they are fighters who even wear camouflage warm-up suits. I do think Coach Yoder took things a bit too far tonight when he came out with war paint on his face. Senior forward Zach Sabol, a very pleasant young man who always displays the best sportsmanship, delivered the most stings for the Hornets with 18.

My favorite play of the night was close to the end of the game. Keeshawn "the beast" Kelman, who had 9 rebounds, was fighting for the ball, and come down with it, but landed on his backside. From the floor, he managed to pass the ball to Jordan McChristian. He was waiting conveniently by the rim and tapped it in.

Central's record is 17-3 with two games left.

Central will travel to Stroudsburg on Monday. Emmaus will visit Nazareth, which had a big win stunning Northampton on Friday night, 71-53.

Box Score

ACCHS - 56, Emmaus - 44

Central Catholic - 22-33-42-56
Emmaus - 9-20-30-44

Central Catholic (56)

Jay Vaughan: 3/6 3FG, 1/1 FG, 9 assists, 3 rebounds - 8
Keeshawn Kellman: 3/6 FG, 9 rebounds,1 block, 1 assist
Jordan McChristian: 4/7 3FG, 2/2 FGs, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal - 16
Dat Lambert: 2/5 3FG, 1/5 FG, 4/5 FTs, 2 steals, 2 rebound - 12
Nick Filchner: 2/3 3FG, 1/1 FG, 3/4 FTs, 2 assists.- 11.
Sam Vaughan: 1/2 3FG - 3.

Emmaus (44)

Josh Artis: 4 FG, 1/2 FT - 9.
Bryce Diehl: 2/4 FTs - 2.
Cameron Brooks: 2 3FG - 6.
Mark Swedberg: 1 FG - 2.
Danny Bohman: 1 3FG, 1 FG -5.
Cole Ferguson: 1 FG - 2.
Zach Sabol: 7 FG, 4/7 FTs - 18.

Blogger's Note: You can see scores from other local schools on my left sidebar.

Fed Ed's Cake is Baked

Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski claims he's innocent of political corruption, and points his fingers at people he hired. He blames them for what happened. That's actually a lousy defense,especially when the feds can place you in the can, looking under stalls, in the midst of a bribery and extortion scheme.

Though this has not been reported, former managing director Francis Dougherty was asked when he was testifying whether Fed Ed is a liar.

"Lying is part of his DNA," answered Dougherty.

Ruchlewicz describes Mayor Pawlowski as a micromanager and "paranoid." He talks about the bug sweeps and says Pawlowski would only talk candidly in bathrooms when he felt he wasnt being recorded.

McClure on Milides Bldg: I've Got Good News and Bad News

The Milides building is a property that was at one time owned by prominent Easton attorney Gus Milides. It was conveniently located across the street from the courthouse and included a gigantic parking lot. Though it was private property, Gus was easy-going and would let county employees park there. In 2007, a divided NorCo Council voted to buy the building for $1.5 million, with Ann McHale ad Ron Angle voting No. McHale believed the price was too high while Angle said that part of the property would have to be razed.

That was then. It was discovered last year that parts of the parking lot were sliding down a cliff, mostly because it was built on fill that had never been properly packed down. So part of the parking lot has been roped off while the parking lot is shored up.

Last night, McClure had additional news concerning the Milides building.

First the good news. As a result of an anonymous complaint about mold, a crew of code inspectors descended upon the building recently, Fortunately for the people who work here, there is no mold.

Now for the bad news. Though code inspectors found no mold problem, they did discover some electrical deficiencies that require immediate attention. Happily, the county official who accompanied them on their inspection is Administrator Charles Dertinger. He happens to be an electrician himself, was able to come up with a game plan for solving the problem, and Wind Gap Electric is working on the problem on an emergency basis.

The Voter's Office is located inside the Milides building and obviously, there is no room there for electrical failures.

McClure actually thanked Easton's code inspectors, who may have prevented a serious problem with election results. Voters' Registration does have a generator for these power failures, but they have been all too frequent.

After explaining the problem, McClure said is time to move on from Milides.

NorCo Council's Top Priorities in 2018

NorCo Council member John Cusick is an algebra teacher and a bit if a wonk who would probably love to visit Nerd City USA, as described below. He religiously attends meetings about county government and his fingertips are always on the pulse of CCAP. That's the acronym used to describe the County Commissioners' Association of Pa. At his urging, County Council last night unanimously endorsed the top priorities identified by CCAP.

I. Human Services Reform and Funding. - There has been a 91% increase in referrals to the child welfare Agency as a result of 30 new child welfare laws enacted in 2015.

II. Opioid Epidemic. - Drug overdose deaths increase every year, from 72 in 2015, 81 in 2016 and 101 deaths as of November 2017.

III. Shale Gas Impact Fee. - Even if a severance tax is imposed, the impact fee helps counties acquire and preserve open space.

IV. State Hospital Beds. - Currently, there are 250 county inmates across the state, including one in NorCo, waiting for access to just 237 psychiatric or forensic beds at state hospitals.

NorCo's $10M DaVinci Grant in Trouble

Despite a plea from DaVinci Science Center Lin Erickson to wait for yet another presentation on March 1, Northampton County Council introduced an ordinance last night that, if enacted, will end a $10 million grant for a tourist attraction in downtown Easton. What had been proposed as a shark-infested 500,000 gallon salt-water aquarium has been replaced with a "Nature Dome" that permits you to see the exact same things you'd see if you walked along the river. There's also a bug garden and a 100' tall XXL Vitruvian Man modeled after Easton Mayor Sal Panto.

At one time, Panto had proposed a high school hall of fame for Easton. Now it's Nerd City USA.

Amazingly, Nerd Palace will still require the same $130 million that was proposed for the fish tank.

Executive Lamont McClure said he supports DaVinci, but needs realistic numbers.

In December, a lame-duck Council approved the $10 million grant from hotel taxes. It would commit the County to spending $250,000 a year over the next 40 years. Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Deputy Director Mark Hartney told Council that his department "has an overall positive view of the project." But he cautioned that, based on the numbers provided by DaVinci, it would be 99 years before the County began to see a return on its investment.

In 2017, DaVinci was awarded $50,000 in hotel taxes to develop a business plan, but no such plan is expected until the end of June.

Hartney has recommended an "independent analysis" by a third party who would be tasked with responsibility for verifying the assumptions and calculations in the still preliminary business plan. After a complaint by a local restaurant, DaVinci scrapped plans for one of its own on site. That will reduce its annual revenue by $1.25 million. "How is this revenue being replaced?, asks Hartney in a memo.

One dubious claim by DaVinci is that it will receive $4.2 million in support revenue annually. This supposedly will consist of $1 million in government support, $1.2 million in annual giving and $1.5 million in grants andc ontracts.

Hartney has also recommended that no money be provided until the shovels are in the ground.

DaVinci has previously said that 60% of its money would come in the form of government grants. But so far, only 38% of these commitments have been realized.

Peg Ferraro, Council's most vocal advocate for DaVinci, made a pitch for giving the project $250,000 this year, but that determination will come later.

Council will vote on ending the $10 million grant on February 15.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

This Blog Discussed in Fed Ed's Corruption Trial

Though I have yet to set foot inside the federal courthouse where Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski is being tried for political corruption, I have secret agents everywhere. One of them sat in on yesterday's trial, and reported to me that my name came up ... twice.

The first time was in a wire recording of the infamous breakfast meeting at Billy's Diner that ended with Fed Ed giving Fleck a  pat-down. They were talking about getting rid of evidence that could implicate them. Fed Ed said he would spend the weekend going through his email. According to Morning Call reporter Emily Opilo,

At the end of the breakfast, Dougherty says he's hearing rumors that Fleck is being investigated by the FBI. Fleck speculates that it's Bernie O'Hare. Dougherty says I asked him about it.
3:13 PM - 31 Jan 2018

According  to Agent 98, Fleck downplayed the possibility. "Bernie's been saying that for eight years," said Fleck.

Actually, at that time, I had been trying unsuccessfully to reach Fleck because I had heard the FBI had been at both his home and office.

The second reference to me was later, when FBI Special Agent Scott Curtis was on the stand and asked to explain who the hell I am. I believe that Curtis answered that I like to write about local political corruption.  I do.

High school basketball, too.

I have been writing about Fed Ed's corruption since 2007, so Fleck was actually right.

And so was I.

He’s corrupt.

When you delete emails and instruct others to do so, it's insulting to pretend innocence.