|UCC's Doreen Arnold|
I told you yesterday that NorCo Council was scheduled to vote on a proposed $20,000 grant to restore the steeple at First United Church of Christ in Easton. This incredibly bad idea is the brainchild of Rev. Mike Dowd, who is taking advantage of his numerous county connections to put the squeeze on in a way no other religious organization has even considered. I expected this to sail through Council because it is buried among 38 grants.I was wrong. Council spent nearly an hour questioning Rev. Dowd, who brought several members of his congregation with him to make a sales pitch. They voted 9-0 to table this grant while Council Solicitor Chris Spadoni researches whether this violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.
Council member John Cusick made the motion to extract this grant, and everyone agreed.
The 187' tall steeple was touted as a "landmark" and as a "beacon of hope and faith " That's precisely why no government funds should be invested.
I have no problem with grants to fund secular projects at a religious institution. But church and government should be kept apart. As Justice George Carlin once observed, "My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."
A little peek at how the Old Boy network works.
Dowd is a shill. I am glad this money grab was short circuited at least for now. Perhaps your campaign had some impact on those in power to do the right thing and not the wrong thing. Small victories.
A steeple is not a facade! That is a BS argument. And what does any of this have to do with the stated goal of the CiPP program? This has nothing to do with economic development or service to the community at large.
Nice job Bernie, now report on the fix you have not reported. You may have protected Dowd if he was a Judge.
I addressed ur question yesterday and intend to address it in a post bc I know what really is happening
Did anyone really oppose this or was this just put to the side to sneak though quietly? did anyone on council have a problem with this crossing the line? I mean food kitchens or housing by church's is one thing but fixing them up for no good community reason because you are a major political player is just bullshit.
Evidently..council discussed this single grant issue for an hour per Bernie. Do not know what that discussion entailed but Dowd brought his allies to the fray to show support for his interpretation that this steeple construction qualifies for a CiPP grant. Dowd is acting like a shill here and his church should oust him for unchristian behavior. His conflict of interest is quite evident as a good old boy political hack. too bad no one had the guts to red line this grant application. Council needs to grow a pair as well as the committee who added it to the list.
Well,yeah. I was there. That’s more or less the point of this story. I told you they touted it as a “beacon of hope and faith,” meaning it is religiously significant. They also discussed the history of this church, which is very impressive. But we should not spend public funds to perpetuate this beacon of hope and faith. Let the private sector do it.
The private sector has little hope and faith left. It's why religious businesses like this run to the nanny state for help. I bet Dowd can slice off 20 large from his own moldy money and fix his own steeple.
Believe it has the votes but wait till all the other churches catch wind of this. I hope they all apply to fix their houses of worship. Council is just a rubber stamp for the Admisntration.
ACLU will also get wind of this travesty. Lehigh county mired in law suit over their county seal with cross on it...tax payer money paying for their refusal to back down. Actions have consequences!
The CiPP selection committee reviewed this grant list..not the administration! I doubt our executive had anything to do with this one selection tilted to Dowd's own church. Dowd pressured the committee to do this..not McClure. The committee screwed up. Council now needs to red line this grant award and correct the situation and send message that politics as usual is over here.
That is pretty much my own assessment. McClure pretty much took a "hands off" attitude towards the ratings of these grant applications, preferring to let the committee do its work. Ken Kraft, who was on the committee, expressed many of the same concerns i express. Lori Vargo Heffner said she bought into the history bullshit. No matter how historic something is, if it serves a religious purpose, the government should not fund it. This was touted, during the committee hearing, as a "beacon of hope and faith" by the UCC. I'm sure it is. That is precisely why the government should have no role in restoring it. It serves a religious, not secular, purpose.
Also, there is very little doubt in my mind that Dowd took advantage of his multitude of economic development ties. I doubt any other church was aware of or considered itself eligible for this kind of grant. The fix was in. This should be redlined, and if approved by Council, McClure can veto that portion of the budget if he chooses.
"ACLU will also get wind of this travesty. Lehigh county mired in law suit over their county seal with cross on it...tax payer money paying for their refusal to back down. Actions have consequences!"
I have not reached out to organizations that protect the First Amendment, but will do so if I must.
Fear of litigation and the expenses incurred by defending such a grant request should be more than enough reason for council to flush this one application. Dowd must think no one is watching or his ego is so big..he figures he can do as he pleases without repercussions.
Bernie can you tell us who is on the committee and how many are on it. Also it sounds like they let two council people on it to still maintain Admisntration control. Do you think they were able to roll the rookie council person to get this done for their buddy Dowd?
The committee consisted of DCED representatives and council members Lori Vargo Heffner and Ken Kraft. Since there is money for VIA marathon, I believe Karen Collis was on it. Probably Mark Hartney and Tina Smith, too. I think they overall did an excellent job, but as Ron Heckman reminded Hartney, it is Council who makes the decision.
Murray an Fleck +wrong !
I went and watched the video of this stuff. The guy from economic development came off as really arrogant. He basically was telling council they had no choice but to approve everything right away. Then he argued with council when he was challenged. The one council person called him on it and really put him in his place. I was surprised to hear Werner get angry and claim council had to vote the way the committee told them to because a council member was on that committee. Why must they do what a committee wants them to do.
County council has the responsibility to vote the way they see best. Seems like the Admisntration wants them to vote the way they are told to vote.
For the third time, you have come on here anonymously and accused McClure of wanting Council to be a rubber stamp. He wants Council to vote for his bond, but had no objection to Council tabling this grant. He was not even at the committee meeting to discuss it. I don't think he cares, one way or the other. So far I know, he has exerted no pressure on anyone, which would backfire anyway.
the person who chastised Hartney is Ron Heckman. After doing that, do you think he would bow down? I could understand Werner supporting this bc it is an easton grant and he represents that district. But I saw nothing in what he said that suggests to me that Council must do as they are told.
WTF is up with Hartney? He is a Brown holdover and he needs to watch his mouth. Werner is just gutless and probably in Dowd's pocket as it is always about Easton with Bob.
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