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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Candida Affa Seeks Re-Election to Allentown City Council

Candida Affa, a former saloon owner, will announce her plans to seek a second term on Allentown City Council tonight, 6 pm, at Louie's Restaurant, 2071 31st St SW, Allentown, PA 18103. In her statement, she claims to have "led the charge" on legislation banning conversion therapy and decriminalizing marijuana. She is also responsible for lying about one of the City's most prominent developers, and after getting caught, refusing to apologize. More importantly, she voted against cuts to Mayor Ray O'Connell's 27% tax hike. She also fails to mention that she was one of disgraced former Mayor Edwin Pawlowski's most ardent supporters.

Now before announcing her candidacy, she somehow got her hands on the City employee mailing list, like Susan Wild did, and sent a mass email dunning them for contributions.

For just $2,500, you can sponsor a meatball.

Fed Ed  taught her well.

She represents what is wrong in Allentwn.

Joshua Siegel Running For Allentown City Council

Josh Siegel impressed many people when he ran for Allentown Mayor last year. I am pleased to learn he's seeking one of three City Council seats up for election this year. He will formally announce his candidacy on Saturday, January 26, at the East Side Youth Center.

According to his announcement, "The City of Allentown is at a crossroads, it faces both enormous challenges and significant opportunities. Joshua Siegel’s candidacy is about restoring a government that fights for the working people of the city and addresses issues critical to them such as crippling tax burdens, affordable housing, safe and prosperous communities, and family-sustaining jobs. Joshua Siegel will bring a bold and new strategic vision: the All-American City Vision, that makes Allentown a leader in progressive policy."

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

"Amazing Grace" Crampsie Smith Announces Bethlehem City Council Candidacy.

Four positions for Bethlehem Cty Council are up for grabs this year. They are the seats currently held by Michael G. Colón (Gracedale Admissions Coordinator), Shawn M. Martell (Nazareth High School teacher), J. William Reynolds (William Allen High School teacher) and Dr. Paige Van Wirt (physician). Presumably, they are all running. Dr. Van Wirt was appointed to Council, but the rest were elected. Willie is the longest-serving member, having first been elected in 2008.

These candidates are going to have some competition. Grace Crampsie Smith, a highly regarded school counselor at Easton Area High School has decided to run. I have seen her at my grandson's high school basketball games. She came with my grandson'e sister, who is also a school counselor at Easton. She tells me that everyone refers to Smith as "Amazing Grace."

From her announcement, I can tell you the following:

* She is a Democrat and longtime Bethlehem resident (28 years).

* Her dad was police chief in Clarks Summit and her mother was a nurse. "They taught me early the importance of discipline and compassion.”

* She has three children in law school, medical school and college.

* She is a "smart growth" advocate, although what that means seems to different for every person.Here's what it means to her. "It is important to maintain a balance between preserving the city's past , honoring the people and businesses that built this city and achieving progress in our diverse community. Bethlehem is a city that has never been stagnant but has constantly re-invented itself in the arts, education, and business while never losing sight of its heritage.”

* She is highly educated, having a masters degree in education and school counseling from Lehigh University and a bachelors degree in sociology and social welfare from Bloomsburg University.

* She said it is crucial for City Council members to know the jobs of city employees and the challenges they face for the overall efficiency of city operations. Perhaps she can find out why Department heads Alicia Karner and Darlene Heller forced Suzanne Borzak, the City's popular and helpful zoning officer, to resign.

* She completed the Bethlehem Police Citizens Academy to get a better understanding of the Police Department.

* She is a politically active and progressive member of the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee (Precinct 14-1), Northampton County Democratic Committee, Lehigh Valley Democratic Progressive Coalition, Lehigh Valley ROAR and Lehigh Valley 4 ALL (who agree with them).

* She has been a volunteer with Ryan’s Tree for Grieving Children, Musikfest, OLPH School, LV Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the American Heart Association.

* She is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.

From speaking to her, I can tell you she has a sense of humor.

Morganelli's Top Assistant Running for DA

The field in the NorCo DA's race is beginning to get crowded. John Morganelli's top assistant, Terry Houck, has announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. His news release is below. Without dispute, Terry would be an excellent DA. His opponent is Chief Public Defender Nuria DiLuzio, who would also be excellent.

Among Republicans, the only announced candidate so far is Tom Carroll, who practices almost exclusively in Montgomery County. He did work in the NorCo DA's office for two years, but suddenly resigned.

Who does Morganelli want to succeed him? Because he's running fir judge, he is unable to endorse anyone. 

From Terry Houck's campaign: Today, Northampton First Deputy District Attorney and lifelong Democrat Terry Houck announced his campaign for Northampton DA. Houck also proudly announced that his bid for District Attorney has already received the endorsement of Fraternal Order of Police Washington Lodge #17 (the FOP Lodge of Easton, PA).

In a letter, FOP Lodge #17 said As a former Law Enforcement Officer [Terry Houck] knows the challenges that police officers face on a daily basis and the split second decisions that we are forced to make. [Terry] has promised to pursue the truth no matter where it may lead and for these reasons we are proud to support you in your upcoming campaign for Northampton County District Attorney.”

Houck has served alongside District Attorney John Morganelli as Northampton County’s First Deputy DA for 13 years. As First Deputy District Attorney, Houck oversees 20 attorneys, and all specialized units including the Child Abuse/Sex Offense, Violent Crimes, DUI, Grand Jury, Narcotics and Forfeiture, White Collar, Juvenile, Appellate and Domestic Violence Units.

Houck regularly prosecutes high profile and particularly sensitive cases, including violent crimes and homicides. He has spent over 32 years as a prosecutor in Bucks, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties. For more than 20 years he has specialized in violent crime prosecutions. In his role in Bucks County, he investigated and prosecuted hundreds of sensitive sex offenses and child abuse cases as the Chief Deputy District Attorney.

Prior to his career as a prosecutor, Houck was a decorated Officer of the Philadelphia Police Department, where he earned numerous commendations including the Chapel of the Four Chaplains Award for Bravery.

In a statement, Houck said

I’ve spent my career standing up for victims of crime, and ensuring that those who abused and victimized the vulnerable faced consequences for their actions. For 30 years I’ve seen my role  as a true advocate for victims when they are at their most vulnerable. I’ve stood up for the citizens of Northampton County for 13 years - and as District Attorney, I will keep up that fight.

I grew up one of nine kids in a row home in Philadelphia on a blue collar income. I became a Police Officer because I saw that having a fighting chance at the American Dream meant living in a safe community, free from victimization. When I passed the bar exam and became an attorney, I knew I wanted to spend my career fighting for justice for victims of crime and helping to keep our communities safe. I have spent three decades fulfilling that vision, and I will continue to fulfill it as our District Attorney.

The District Attorney has a duty to the people of Northampton - you put your faith in our office to advocate for you, for all of us, when our laws are broken. I’m not interested in using this role as a platform for higher office, or to move on to the private sector in a few years. Though the responsibilities of the District Attorney are many, the core mission is clear: to continue to fight for and give a voice to the innocent victims in Northampton County.

The FOP Washington Lodge #17 has endorsed my campaign because after my years of service to Northampton County, they have seen my commitment in action. They know the simple truth about me - I will not shy away from the truth, no matter where it leads us.”

About Terry Houck

Terry graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy in 1977, holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from LaSalle, an M.A. in Human Organization Science from Villanova University and his J.D. from Temple University.

Terry lives in Easton with his wife of 40 years, and has two daughters, a son-in-law and a granddaughter. Terry grew up with 4 brothers and 4 sisters, the child of William and Regina Houck in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he went to Cardinal Dougherty High School.

His career as a prosecutor started in 1986 as an ADA in Bucks County, where he earned a promotion to Chief Deputy District Attorney and headed the Child Abuse/Sex Offense Unit. In 2002, he joined the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office as a Chief Deputy District Attorney and the Chief of the Violent Crime Unit.

In 2006 he was hired by District Attorney John Morganelli as the first full-time First Deputy District Attorney, directly overseeing all specialized units. He has personally investigated and  successfully prosecuted some of the county’s most difficult and high profile cases in the last 13 years, a selection of which are listed below.

Prominent convictions include:  

  • 2007 1st Degree murder convictions of Ali Davis, Demar Edwards and Olayiwola Hollist for the “execution-style” murders of three people in a home in Easton,
  • 2008 1st degree murder conviction of Eugenio Torres for the beating death of a three-year old child.
  • 2017 conviction of Daniel Clary for the Attempted Murder by of Pennsylvania State Troopers Seth Kelly and Ryan Seiple.

Bethlehem View Inn Assessed For Hotel Taxes

Bethlehem's View Inn and Suites, located just below the Route 22 and Nazareth Pike interchange, owes Northampton County $8,729.43 in hotel taxes. This determination is the result of an audit by Northampton County Controller Richard "Bucky" Szulborski and Auditor Kathy M Nesfeder. The audit covers calendar years 2016 and 2017.

Moravian College Names 732 Students to Dean's List

Bethlehem, Pa., January 22, 2019: Moravian College named 732 students to the Dean’s Honor List for the Fall 2018 semester. Students who carry three or more course units during the fall or spring term and attain a GPA for the term of 3.50 or higher are placed on the Dean’s Honor List. Below is a listing of students on the Dean’s Honor List for Fall 2018 by hometown, state, and country.
From Allentown: Vina-Andrea Aguirre, Ashtynn Allen, Kate Arner, Danial Boules, Willow Childs, Kirah Dreisbach, Stephen Ewald, Nadine Ewald, Adriana Facchiano,  Casey Faurl, Alfred Fustakgi, Tavion George, Nicholas Ghasab, Kelly Gonoude, Devon Haggerty, Jewel Haik, Fadi Hanna, Christopher Hawk, Youssef Helou, Elizabeth Hutnick, Salma Ibrahim, Jessica Ionescu, Megan Konrath, Madyson LeCause, Joseph Milano, Alyssa Pereira, Morgen Peters, Dayvon Reimert, Guadalupe Rivera,  Megan Shea, Christopher Shosted, Christopher Sorich,  Victoria Urquiza, Nick Zambelli.
From Bangor: Sabrina DePue, Kaytlyn Gordon, Junie Miller,  Erin Snyder, Jamie Wickett.
From Bath: Auria Enright, Alyssa Golomb, Brooke Granitz,  Elizabeth Horn, Olivia Lucas, Christian Pinnock, Madison Pursell, Laura Roberts, Meredith Roe,  Leauna Schaner, Will Stackhouse.
From Bethlehem: Cody Abrachinsky, Wyatt Abrachinsky, Derrick Achey, Brooke Adams, Rathath Alawad, Ahmed Alsakhairi, Amanda Andrews, Ankita Bassi, Lauren Bayda, Alvaro Belmonte, Rocco Beltrami, David Bertolotti, Hannah Bovard, Madison Capuano, Lauren Caronia, Jessica Chomo, Matt Corcoran, Sara Dahdoh, Allison Davis, David Donio, Emily Duddy, Thomas Durham, Reilly Eager, Megan Eltringham, Emilee Engler, Schuyler Evans, Lexi Fabey, Toshi Figueroa, Amy Flyte, Kaitlyn Fritz, Elena Galvano, Taylor Garza, Lauren Garza, Kelley Gavin, Ava Gilotti, Hannah Graybeal, Jordan Hawk, Erica Heaney, Morgan Hintze, Analisa Jeffries, Zoe Karvan, Emily Kessler, Ryan Kratzer, Eric Kressly, Ashley Kunsman, Jarred Kyra, Alyssa Lopez, Adrianna Mantz, Jacob Maskornick, Macy Miller, Alexis Mock, Chloe Mondok, Bradley Morgan, Connor Morro, Mikayla Morton, Calli Mosebach, Dana Neupauer, Shelby Nickerson, Andrew Nieves, Ellyce Nieves, Janessa Ortiz-Delgado, William Pelletiers, Ryan Pohl, Emily Prendeville, Somaya Rajhi, Victoria Ritter, Destiny Rivera, Eileen Rolwood, Nicole Rommens, Joseph Ryan, Jessica Salib, Philip Salib, Mary Sampson, Franklin Santos, Julius Sarkozy, Maja Sejdic, Bujar Shkreli, John Spirk, Gabrielle Stanley, Brianna Suvire, Jay Swint, Lexie Szaro, Andjela Todorovic, Rim Turk, Safa Turkdonmez, Lexi Vega, Connor Wagner, Morgan Weaver, Andrew Weidner, Paul Weierbach, Christine Wieder, TahLea Wright, Christine Yacoub, Shun Yang.
From Easton: Dalia Aguilar, Valeria Aguilar, Khola Ahmad, Diana Alejandro, Erin Anagnost, Alec Buttner, Kyra Cerar, Korinne Corallo, Haillee Flank, Kayla Frindt, Alexis Gasparetti, Shannon Geist, Destiny George, Jewel Gilbert, Jorne Gilbert, Sean Haas, Anna Hambleton, Paige Haycock, Mackenzie Heitz, Kelsie Hilsenbeck, Matthew Hogan, Shane Houghton, Breana Imboden, Madison Johnson, Hannah Johnson, Bryan Kelly, Jack Kelly, Gianna Koehler, Shannon Koehler, Lucila Lampertti, Mitchell Lapka, Jordan Luciano, Moorea Marrello, Liana Marte, Michael Massimo, Akaylah Mease, Christopher Miceli, LorŽn Miller, Maria Morello, Hadeel Raboui, Emily Reiter, Mia Romfo, Meagan Ryer, Brooke Santy, Lauren Saylor, Christian Scheuermann II, Emily Stanilious, DeAnna Stocker, Abby Stocker, Lauren Strawn, Robert Taverner, Nicholas Wan, Charlene Weiner, Miranda Youngkin.
From Emmaus: Gabi Landi, Liz Mogollan, Robert Roman, Michael Shimer, Marne Wigfield.
From Lehighton: Maison Allen, Michael Patrick Mayernik, Jonathan Rupell, Zech Schweitzer.
From Macungie: Astrid Diaz Villegas, Nathan Hannis, Michael Kemeter, Avery Korner, Alyssa Machado, Salvatore Pagano, Megan Rander, Elizabeth Thomas, Joe Welsko, Bryn Wiragh.
From Nazareth: Sonal Arora, Michael Bassil, Kate Bisio, Olivia Boyce, Danielle Burke, Olivia Clearie, Sierra Dittmar, Bobby Falatyn, Behnam Farbod, Omeed Farbod, Hannah Frame, Lauren Freed, Jordan Gensits, Armando Gonzalez, Talea Gordon, Alex Haug, Emily Hendershot, Katrina Krause, Cathi Krock, Meghan Lazarchak, Robin Lerch, Austin Long, Alyssa Martinetti, Annie McCarthy, Evan Mengel, Angelina Miller, Michael Palmeri, James Prekopa, Nicholas Princiotta, Lauren Resh, Rachel Riley, Allison Schlegel, Bailey Shiffert, Daniel Stocker, Rebecca Stocker, Emily Szuter, Sara Tanzosh, Antonio Tavares, Brooke Thomas, Felicia Thomma, Hannah Witkowski.
From Northampton: Sara Cipriotti, Ian Csencsits, Hannah Flaven, Kennedy Jamicky, Tara Klementowicz, Holly Malitsch, Jared Miller, Kaitlyn Nemes, Autumn Paul, Brooke Paul, Naomi Rieth, Bethany Skrapits, Chris Snyder.
From Whitehall: Morgan Anderson, Courtney Brodeur, Jackson Buskirk, Alix Buskirk, Tyler Cyriax, Amanda Endy, Devon Fogel, Gabby Ghasb, Grace Helfrich, Emily Kiefer, Kayla Koehler, Lauren Kubic, Lyne Libale, Seth Rappaport, Shianne Reimer, Kelsey Reimer, Hilda Sarraj, Emily Snyder, Brandon Sokalsky, Madison Walker, Evan Yandrisovitz, Chanel Younes.
From Pennsylvania (Other): Jessica Abraham, Em Adam, Brandon Adams, Trey Adams, Antonia Aita, Justin Albert, Ben Anderson, Rachel Andrews, Ryan Angelini, Jon Anthony, Maddie Bachert, Isaac Bachert, Eyliena Baker, Lauren Balbierer, Bryanna Banes, Jason Barish, Woody Battle, Meghan Bauer, Megan Bauman, Aubrey Bealer, Jonah Beers, Olivia Bender, Rodney Berger, Steven Berger, Tyler Bergsma, Marc Bernal, Ashton Bevans, Boris Prince Bla, Vanessa Blose, William Brandes, Gabriella Brandon, Alec Brisbois, Timothy Brunstetter, Devon Bucks, Santina Burak, Caitlyn Byrne, Jennifer Calhoun, Ashlyn Cantrel, Andrew Carr, Nick Casazza, Cora Castor, Francesca Catino, Kylie Chichura, Maecy Chlebowski, Matthew Clapps, Bradley Clemson, Shelby Codd, Sydney Costenbader, Gabe Crouthamel, Nichele Cruz, Marissa Cusimano, Frank Dangello, Carly Danoski, Devon Dean, Megan Deaven, Sarah DeFranco, Morgan Delong, Julia DeMarco, Victoria Demuysere, Mikayla Dennis, Dominic DeRafelo, Bridgette  Devlin, Jason Dietrich, Sarah Donati, Samantha Doyen, Kasey Draude, Shae Duka, Jenevieve Eberly, Rachel Ernest, Jaime Ernst, Anna Esposito, Gabrielle Fatula, Michael Feeley, Morgan Fehnel, Alyssa Flannery, Samantha Flickinger, Ashlynn Forney, Corinne Frick, Alexandria Fries, Kaitlyn Furst, Allison Garman, Johnathon Geiger, Delia Geyer, Grace Gilbert, Ashley Gindle, Peter Gingrich Victoria Giorgi, Logan Gober, Austin Grace, Nicole Grayuski, Emily Groarke, Sarah Gross, Mariah Guarin, Michael Guarino, Dom Gurreri, Melanie Gutierrez, Brenna Haddad, George Haddad, Quinn Haldeman, Joe Hall, Kasey Hanlon, Sarah Harshaw, Bryan Harvey, Taylor Heffner, Sonya Hennet, Sophia Hochfeld, Cassie Hoffmann, Aaron Hofmann, Ty Holbert, Elmira Hoxha, Morgan Hresko, Mason Hudnall, Katie Hudson, Lexy Illing, Devon Irvin, Marie Johnson, Nathan Jordan, Kaela Kane, Victoria Kately, Hannah Katz, Gavin Kemery, Maci Kendrick, Kaitlyn Keppel, Cheyenne King, Riley Kirkpatrick, Adam Klatka, Matthew Kosack, Kenzie Koziel, Claudia Krautkremer, Kaitlin Kridlo, Vanessa Kuras, David Kusters, Jackie LaCava, Alyssa Lambert, Jennifer Leh, Austin Lewis, Alyssa Limbaugh, Anna Litofsky, Raquel Lopez De Boer, Callista Lutz, Kelsie Lynn, Tatianna Machado, Livia Mackes, Renee Mapa, Emma Marion, Hannah Maurer, Thaise McCauley, Jessica McCormick, Riley McHugh, Jillian McLuhan, Rachel Mikols, Emma Miller, Cassandra Miller, Jessica Minnichbach, Emily Mittl, Layne Morgan, Brendan Morgans, Marina Neslen, Natalie Novotni, Michaella Ohl, Rylee Pahls, Marley Palmere, Nicole Peluso, Emily Pettinato, Josephine Pizzino, Brett Poling, Matt Poloway, Jen Pugliese, Kristin Rader, Charlotte Reid, Morgan Reiner, Lexi Reinold, Emily Renner, Donald Reynolds, Nathaniel Rhoads, Abigail Rick, Sarah Riegel, Joe Rochelle, Shannon Rock, Noah Rosenthal, Haley Rudofker, Hunter Runge, Katelyn Ruth, Michaela Ryan, Abdulaziz Sahli, Soriana Salloum, Melissa Salvadeo, Taylor Sanders, Emily Sangirardi, Kyle Schaedler, Isaac Schefer, Gabbie Scherff, Olivia Schlofer, Kiersten Schmall, Autumn Schray, Derek Scott, Natalie Sedorovitz, Maddy Shaneberger, Miranda Shattah, Matthew Shields, Kevin Shields, Sophia Skiffington, Natalie Stabilito, Sophia Starner, Lauren Steinert, Andrew Stires, Paige Stitzel, Tanner Stokes, Nicholas Stout, Lindsey Strohl, Ashley Strouphauer, Abby Strouse, Adam Strouse, Molly Talarico, Christian Tassinari, Elise Tomaszewski, Paige Towich, Amy Trout, Sean Twomey, Brooke Vennie Ashley Vesdel, Erica Vibert, Nick Vinansky, Morgan Wagner, Elizabeth Ward, Damian Wasieczko, Tessa Weber, Matthew Weigand, Colby Werkheiser, Kayla Werner, Anita Werner, Camaryn Wheeler, Ben Wilder, Alessandra Wilson, Shon Wilson, Cayden Wisner, Haley Wrazien, Cody Yarnall, Crystal Yautz, Sara Yitzchaki, Hailee Yoder, Kayla Yoege, Mairead Young, Devan Young, Erika Zarate.
From New Jersey:  Austin Adams, Elizabeth Rose Allen, Chrissy Anselmo, Jamie Bader, Madeleine Baker, Carlos Barnes, Erin Barry, Nadia Belverio, Amanda Bencivenga, Zach Benjamin, Kayleigh Bennett, Elizabeth Biava, Elizabeth Bill, Emily Bolger, Cassandra Bower, Oonagh Breen, Karlie Brogan, Alexa Brown, Norah Bruther, Emily Buonocore, Julian Calv, Alexa Canella, Mattison Casolaro, Megan Chesney, Michelle Ciliberto, Matthew Clayton, Cathryn Cole, Matt Comini, Alexis Cruz, Jacqueline D'Auria, Will Dadouris, Julia Defeo, Danielle DeFillippo, Michael Del Cioppo, Mae Dienes, John Dugan, Olivia Emposimato, Fallon Endler, Rachel Farmer, Jacob Feenstra, Cassidy Fernandez, Jillian Ferrara, Kayleigh Ficarra, Sydney Freay, Ryan Frehill, Conor Frehill, Shannon Gallo, Brianna Gammel, John Gleason, Richie Glennon, Jamie Golubinski, Raechel Gonzalez, Sarah Gross, Ryan Harper, Kaitlyn Harth, Courtney Heist, Kayla Herr, Alexa Hicks, Colby Hillman, Marlee Hornbaker, Beth Hrehovcik, Ashley Hutchinson, Alex Izzo, Audrey Janosko, Damian Katarsky, Victoria Kauffman, John Kerrison, Brianna Keyes, Jennifer Khawam, Marissa Kibler, Paige Kovacs, Megan Krozser, Courtney Kunzman, Brooke Kusmider, Liz Kyle-LaBell, Stephen Lazicki, Julia Lepore, Patrick Manturi, Austin Markowski, Kelly Martin, Shane Mastro, Clare Mastronardi, Kathleen Mayer, Stephen McDonough, Regina McElroy, Caitlynne Meola, Angelica Merone, Brianna Milstrey, Taylor Moskal, Shannon Mulvihill, Brianna Myers, Anthony Nagy, Katelyn Nardi, Gabriella Nasta, Courtney Nealon, Christine Neu, Joseph Nicolaro, Michael O'Hagan, Alec Oriolo, Eirean Perst, Luke Peterson, Danielle Petrovic, Jordyne Pfister, Jillian Picciuto, Brielle Popolla, Dylan Purdy, Janelle Pyar, Taylor Rasely, Kate Rennar, Cameron Reppert, Gianna Rettino, Baru Roberson-Hornsby, Kaitlyn Roberto, Gabby Roe, Billy Roethke, John Sabo, Kristina Sadler, Sonia Safarpour, Erika Salus, Amari Schooler, Rachel Shafer, Stephanie Sharp, Brandon Sisk, Samantha Smolinsky, Joseph Solis, Emily Sporer, Amanda Springer, Tia Steinhardt, Melissa Strom, Janessa Ternosky, Erin Tiger, Danielle Tomko, Ross Traphagen, Alex Tursi, Alyssa Ullmann, Abigail Vallaster, Daria Van Doren, Madison Van Duzer, Skylar Vaughan, Shannon Wabeke, Morgan Walters, Amanda Whitworth, Andi Wilkinson, Kimberly Wolf, Mark Wolinski, Amye Zalesky, Nicole Zangara, Britt Zwiebel.
From other states: Albra Alabry (VA), Rachael Backus (NY), Katie Boyle (MD), Thomas Brim (CT), Morgan Brown (NH), Jenny Buhler (NY), Christian Burda (NY), Kristen Cassidy (NY), Shilo Coccodrilli (FL), Rachel Cupp (CT), Lyric DeSimone (ME), Kathryn Dewitt (NY), Sarah Emmanuel (CO), Amanda Fish (NY), Heather Gallant (MA), Mike Gallo (NC), Maura Griesser (MD), Michaela Harding (MD), Connor Hull (NY), Bettyjo LaBare (OR), Devyn Lapp (NY), Clay Lewis (NY), Matthew Mittl (MD), Valerie Monaco (NY), Olivia Moore (NH), Mark Morykan (NY), Timothy Murphy (ME), Kylie Norwood (MD), Caitlin O'Hanley (MA), Savanna Paxton (NY), Sarah Penna (MA), Jessica Pisano (NY), Carley Sheetz (TX), Connor Tiernan (RI), Isaac Weston (CT).
International: Dina Alnahari (Saudi Arabia), Tevo'n Campbell (South Africa), Lara  Slabber (South Africa), Corentin Bauchet (France), Maria Moreno (Ecuador), Nischal Piya (Nepal), Benitta Ngobeni (South Africa).

Blogger's Note: I will be happy to post high school and college honor rolls and dean's lists. Please send too BOHare5948@aol.com

Bethlehem Tp Ponders Refinancing $10 Million in Debt

At their Jan 21 meeting, Bethlehem Township Commissioners heard a presentation from financial consulting firm PFM on a way to ease the debt service currently paid on four bank loans. Interest on three of these notes has or will shortly switch from fixed to variable rate. This has already cost the Township $75,000 in interest. PFM wants to assist the township in seeking out a lender who is willing to refinance the loans or consider a bond issue.

With a bank loan refinancing this debt, PFM estimates it can save the Township $256,000. With a bond issue, the savings is estimated at $382,000. If the Township authorizes PFM to proceed by late January, it estimates it can have a new loan in place within 90 days.

Commissioners took no action, but Malissa Davis said she always understand that loans in excess of $10 million should be by bond issue. 

PFM already serves a number of local municipalities and school districts. These include Allentown, Bethlehem, Northampton County and Allentown School District and Bethlehem Area School District. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Who Is Amazing Grace?

I'll tell you on Wednesday.

Professional Photographer Claims Copyright Infringement By Morning Call

Theo Anderson is a highly regarded professional photographer. He has the rare gift of being able to capture more than a physical image. Of Allentown origin, he is perhaps best known around here for his photo history of the construction of the PPL Arena. The Butz family (photography lovers, especially son Lee) gave him extraordinary access to the construction site. According to an Anderson Facebook post, The Morning Call recently used some of his work without permission. Here's what he says, minus the picture:

The Morning Call has used a photograph of mine without my permission in the current edition of The Morning Call and online.

The Morning Call and the writers Jon Harris and Nicole Radzievich are responsible for this ethical travesty. The photo appears on page 6 of an article about transforming #2 machine shop into a water park. I would not have permitted this use.

Mr. Harris,

I was quite surprised when my iconic photograph #2 machine shop was used in the Sunday edition of the Morning Call, January 20, 2019. After investigation I also found that it was used online in a gallery under the Lehigh Valley Business Cycle article, “Sand’s Bethlehem casino buyer pitches $190 million investment, second hotel on Steel Land.”

You and the The Morning Call have debased my work and reputation. This photograph is paramount to my career. Prints are in the collections of the Museum of Fine Art Houston, The Allentown Art Museum, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Lehigh University, Michigan State University and numerous private collections. It is deemed by many significant curators to be the important modern photograph taken at that site.

I gave no permission for the use. The copyright is registered in my name. I have no idea the source of the photograph but you certainly had a moral obligation to contact me regarding it’s [sic] use.

Please note I could not find Ms. Radzievich’s as the email the link directed me to you. I have included editorial staff in this email.

You and the paper have turned perhaps the most iconic and collected work of my career into rubbish. You did this with clear disregard of copyright.

You should be ashamed of yourself. This has damaged my reputation and the value of my work.

The record needs to be set straight and I need to be compensated for this illegal act on your part and the part of The Morning Call.


Theo Anderson

Steve Samuelson Assaulted at MLK Breakfast

I'm no morning person and neither is my car. We both groaned as we bounced along icy roads early yesterday morning for something of a Bethlehem tradition. Approximately 130 people braved the icy cold weather for the annual Martin Luther King breakfast at the stately Cathedral Church of the Nativity. Civil rights leader Esther Lee usually leads these things, but she was actually in the kitchen, cooking up free breakfasts. Cordelia Miller, Bethlehem NAACP VP, introduced guests that included United States Senator Pat Toomey. It was a very nice event until poor Steve Samuelson got assaulted. I'll be writing a separate story for The Bethlehem Press that omits these significant details, but thought I should clue you in on what really happened.

Five speakers were featured. That's pretty many, especially considering that there was also a panel discussion after breakfast. In addition, there were several songs. So Cordelia Miller asked speakers to keep it brief. Two minutes tops.

Nobody listened except for DA John Morganelli. He wasn't there at all. He was laid up at home, in bed with a cold. When Cordelia announced John's absence, the room burst into applause.

Not quite sure how John should take that.

Anyway, one of the first names Cordelia called was State Representative Steve Samuelson. He was missing, too.

But after two or three speakers, he showed up and marched up to deliver a keynote address. He actually had a book with him and read passages from it. He certainly was knowledgeable. Passionate, too.

Then he made his mistake. When he was done, he plopped down right next to NorCo Council person Tara Zrinski.

Steve, you may recall, recently hand-delivered a shitload of diapers to the Salvation Army. They were bought with other people's money. He issued not one, not two, but three news releases concerning this important event. He had a staffer photograph him as he carried the poopie pants in to this worthy charity. He also had video taken and had that posted on a state website.

But these diapers are single-use plastic. They're worse than plastic straws.

Zrinski throttled poor Steve as he sat down.

"You bastard!" she shouted. "Don't you know that disposable diapers take 500 years to decompose in a landfill? Did you even think about the greenhouse gases that come from baby shit?" she exclaimed as she wrested him to the ground.

"Down with the patriarchy!" Zrinski shouted as police hauled her away. "Get your hands off me, you old white men."

Samuelson was released from the hospital late last night.

High-End Gas Station Pitched at Former Leiser's Rental Tract

Jack Muschlitz (L) and Arif Fazil (R)
Two new "sketch plans" were considered by Bethlehem Tp Commissioners at their Jan 21 meeting - a high-end gas station on Nazareth Pike and a senior living facility along Freemansburg Avenue. These are basically informal presentations in which developers can determine whether to move ahead or go back to the drawing board. No action is taken.

High End Gas Station - WaWa, Sheetz or Top Star?

Arif Fazil, President of D'Huy Engineering and a respected professional engineer, has decades of experience representing developers before local government boards. This time, he represented himself. He and Jack Muschlitz, VP of Muschlitz Excavating, are pitching a project of their own. They want to convert the old Leiser Rental business, located at 3608 Nazareth Pike, into a high-end gas station.

This is a 3.8 acre tract located along the northeast corner of Oakland Road and Nazareth Pike. It is next to commercial properties like Dunkin' Donuts and Josh Early Candies. It is also close to residential neighborhoods. The property has been vacant since Leiser's Rental moved two miles south to 3464 Linden Street.

A sketch plan proposes a 7,600 sq ft convenience store, gasoline pump bay with canopy, parking for 97 vehicles and a stormwater management basin that will filter water across the street and into Monocacy Creek.

Both Nazareth Pike and Oakland Road are state highways, so highway occupancy permits will be needed from PennDOT for access. In addition, the state Department of Environmental Protection will have to issue what are called NPDES permits for the stormwater discharge.

Fazil, who lives nearby, pointed out that the combo gas station and convenience store is more than a permitted use. "There's definitely a need for a gas station in this area," he argued. "The site was really made for this use."

"I agree it's needed," responded President Mike Hudak, who suggested that Fasil's real problems will be with PennDOT and the discharge of stormwater into a high-quality trout stream Resident Tom Keifer was a bit more blunt. "You're going to pollute the hell out of the Monocacy," he charged.

Fazil disputed this after his presentation. "We're going to have less impervious coverage than is there now," he noted. He added that the water will be filtered before it ever hits a stream, and believes he can get the permits. 

The engineer-turned developer himself acknowledges that residential neighborhoods are close, and is proposing a buffer to protect neighbors. He was unable to say for sure whether the facility will be open for 24 hours because an end user is yet to be determined.

Commissioner John Gallagher warned that people going from Oakland Road to Nazareth Pike will use the gas station as a shortcut to avoid waiting at the light.

Fazil and Muschlitz were unable to say when this project would start or the end cost, noting that would depend on the plan review as well as the ultimate end user.

Solebury Senior Living

Prominent local Attorney Joe Bubba pitched Solebury Senior Living, a 7.8 acre parcel located along the south side of Freemansburg Avenue, between Wagner Drive and Farmersville Road. Heritage Senior Living is proposing a 70,000 sq ft facility with 120-beds. There will be parking for 65 passenger vehicles, stormwater management areas and walking paths It has been called both a nursing home and life care center, both of which are permitted as "special exceptions" under the Township's zoning laws. Township Engineer Brian Dillman is recommending that access from Freemansburg Avenue be limited to emergency vehicles.

Township Vehicle Policy

Based on multiple complaints from resident Barry Roth, Commissioners adopted a motor vehicle use policy for township-owned vehicles. Under this new policy, only three employees will be able to take township vehicles home. They are the Chief of Police, Fire Marshal and K-9 officer.

Roth agreed about the K-9 officer, noting that a dog might "lose the scent" if police wait too long to unleash the hounds on a runaway suspect. But he said there was no justification for allowing the police chief or fire marshal to drive township vehicles home.

Commissioner Jack Gallagher was the sole vote against the policy. He wanted these employees to fill out mileage logs, but Commissioner Malissa Davis countered that would be insulting to two police officers.

It was a lengthy and substantive meeting, and I will have a second story for you tomorrow about (1) plans to refinance Township debt and save some money; and (2) critical township road projects being pitched for major federal funding.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Are Pa Schools Testing Lead in Drinking Water?

Last year, a group of concerned and angry parents crowded into Northampton County Council to demand that elections in Bushkill Tp be moved from an elementary school to a nearby volunteer fire company. They were unmoved by an elections law that requires voting to take place in a public facility if possible. They were concerned about the safety of their children, who might be exposed to child molesters, mass murderers or even worse, Democrats. The popular thing would have been to just move the polling place, but the County refused during a crazy session in which the Elections Commission Chair actually cursed at these parents, many of whom had brought their children for a lesson in government.

They got one.

Conducting an election at a school while class is in session is a traffic hazard. Super voters are mostly old farts like me. We are bad drivers, as evidenced by a fatality in Forks Tp. last election cycle. The other concerns are remote.

Though unpopular, county officials are right to say No. The elections code requires that voting take place in a public facility if at all possible, and specifically mentions schools. The right thing to do is close schools on election day. Moving one polling place away from a school might open the flood gates and embolden parents everywhere else to demand the same, which would make elections more expensive and more unsafe for voters.

This refusal has already prompted one of these Bushkill Tp residents - Korry Franke - to declare his candidacy, as a Republican, for County Council.

It is perfectly understandable that parents would worry about their children. While raising dangers that are practically nonexistent, these parents should be concerned about what their children are drinking. Pennsylvania has no real protections in place to test the water school children drink for lead.

A law just enacted last year requires schools to test for lead in the drinking water or discuss the issue in a public meeting once a year. Schools with unsafe lead levels must be listed on the Department of Education webpage.  I see no schools listed.

Friday, January 18, 2019

My Weight Loss Goal

A friend - yes I do have friends - is a fitness fanatic. Like me, he's a former Chippendale. He has been encouraging me for years to make more healthy choices.

I have always found it relatively easy to lose weight, once I get started. I have never been successful in keeping it off. My weight just goes up and down like a yo yo, which is more unhealthy than just being fat.

Anyway, he texted me most recently to ask, in cell phone language, "what's ur goal?"

I plan to become invisible.

Two things persuaded me to start again. First, fellow fat man Frank Pintabone challenged me. Second, and the big reason, is Suki.

Suki is a girl but she's not human. She's my grandson's dog, although she thinks she's human.

I watched her for a few days over the summer. When I have her, she knows she is going to go for lots of walks. But this past summer, I could only go about ten minutes before having to sit down. At one point, she turned and looked at me with utter disgust.

"How could you let yourself go, you fat fuck?" she said to me in dog language.

She refused to eat anything I got her, in protest over my inability to keep up with her.

"I bet you feel a lot better!" is what people say to me now.

I do when I'm done exercising for the day.

I am still unable to walk or run as I used to do all the time. I am fine for a few weeks, and then sciatica grounds me. But the arc trainer at the gym is great. Aside from having a sore ass, I am doing alright. But I miss being outside. Whether it's hot or cold, I love being outdoors. In the gym, you have to contend with people who insist in slamming weights so everyone knows how strong they are, as well as some people who are really loud.

The other day, some woman was literally shouting and yelling the entire time I spent exercising. All five minutes. It was so annoying that, when I was done, I decided to track her down and let her know that all I want from her is silence, and damn little of that.

I found her pretty easily, as you might imagine, and then realized she is mentally challenged.

I'm an asshole.

So as I said, my goal is to disappear.

Mayor O'Connell to Deliver "State of the City" Today!

Late yesterday, I received notice that Allentown Mayor Ray O'Connell will be delivering a "State of the City" Address today at noon at The Palace Center, 623 Hanover Avenue. This is being hosted by the Greater LV Chamber of Commerce. It's sold out too. It costs $39 for members and $69 for non-members.

Given a 27% tax hike, the state of the city should be pretty clear. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Online Petition To Save Allentown State Hospital.

An online petition opposing the demolition of Allentown State Hospital has garnered 3,100 signatures thus far. When the state decided to close the hospital, it was insane. Now it is going to spend $15 million to demolish the buildings so it can sell the property to a tax cheat for $2.57 million. It has brushed aside the biggest and most "serious" developer in Allentown, next to JB Reilly. 

By the by, I'll have more about Jenn Mann soon.   

Alberta Scarfaro Announces MDJ Candidacy in Whitehall

(Blogger's Note: I had hoped to attend Alberta's announcement, but gave an excuse she would understand. My grandson had a basketball game last night.  I know she is a great Whitehall fan and have seen her at plenty of games over the years. In addition to being a great mother who overcame many obstacles, she has a great quality - common sense.  Below is her announcement:)    

WHITEHALL, PA: To a full house at Maza Middle Eastern Cuisine in Whitehall, Alberta Scarfaro announced her candidacy for Magisterial District Judge in Whitehall’s District 31-1-07.

Scarfaro discussed her family’s history in the Lehigh Valley and emphasized the role that the Whitehall community has played in her life and in the life of her family.

“This campaign isn’t about winning an election; it is about serving a community, our community.  I look forward to earning your support, not to win an office, but to serve our community.  I look forward to serve as judge, not to advance my own career, but to provide justice and compassion in service to our community.”

Scarfaro didn’t shy away from her personal story, including the passing of her husband nearly fifteen years ago and the challenges of raising two children as a single mom.  She beamed when she discussed her children’s accomplishments, both graduates of Whitehall High School.

Scarfaro also hinted at what kind of judge she would be:
“I know both the just and compassionate side of the law and I am ready to work hard and to dedicate my time to delivering that justice and compassion.”

She added, “I understand the needs of our community and I recognize the utmost importance of everyone’s right to equal and just due process.  I will protect our citizens by serving in this office with integrity and as a fair and impartial judge.

Pointing to her education—Scarfaro holds a Master of Public Administration, in addition to degrees in paralegal studies and political science—and her life experiences, Scarfaro emphasized her desire to serve the Whitehall-Coplay community.

“I say all this today to punctuate one point that I hope you’re remember: This is about community. Our Community. The community that helped me raise my kids. And the community to which I want to give back.”

About Alberta Scarfaro
Alberta Scarfaro is a resident of Whitehall Township, where she has raised her two beautiful children.  Raised in the Lehigh Valley herself, Scarfaro is an active figure in the community, serving on the Whitehall Zoning Board, including two terms as Chairwoman, and as a member of the local Rotary.  She previously served as President of Football Booster Club for the Whitehall High School football team.

Scarfaro is a graduate of Kutztown University, where she studied political science and also holds a Master of Public Administration.  She is certified by the Minor Judiciary Education Board of Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Allentown State Hospital Tract Being Sold to Tax Cheat

Let's say that you wanted to buy property from someone. You're willing to pay $2.57 million. Let's say the Seller is amenable but tells you it must first spend $15 million to knock down all the buildings located there. What's more, the Seller is going to give you three years to get a few investors to join you. During that time, it is spending $2.2 million a year to maintain the buildings it wants to knock down. You'd say that Seller is nuts and belongs in a state hospital. That Seller, unfortunately, is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The property in question is the Allentown State Hospital, which is where our glorious legislators belong. Without question, its deal to sell the 200-acre campus for $2.2 million to a private party is fiscally irresponsible. It's actually borderline lunacy until you learn who's involved.  Then it really begins to smell.

In their infinite wisdom, state officials decided some years ago to close down the state hospitals. The argument was that residents there would do better in community mental health programs. But that's bullshit. Funding for community mental health has been cut. The result is that some severely mentally ill people are on the streets. They have been flooding our jails, too. In Northampton County, 72% of the jail population is mentally ill. Twenty-three percent suffer from serious mental illness, with acute symptoms.

After this monumental error, state officials had to decide what to do with what had become a ghost town. Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski wanted it, and told state officials that he would seek requests for proposals from developers, entrepreneurs and nonprofits. You know, the same people that lined his campaign coffers. Fortunately, at that time, it was known that he was under federal investigation  for political corruption.

So the state began negotiations for a direct conveyance. No requests for proposals. No advertising the property. Nope, someone from Doylestown mysteriously appeared and is negotiating to buy the property. A direct conveyance to an outfit called TCA Properties was unanimously approved in the land of midnight payraises in 2017. There's a three-year period until the sale actually occurs.

Like fish, any deal that lasts that long begins to stink.

How did the state line up TCA Properties, who State Representative Mike Schlossberg referred to as a "serious developer." What makes him a "serious developer" is the fact that he is represented by former State Rep. Jennifer Mann, now a lobbyist and a wheeler-dealer with a real estate license.

Though Mann is a registered lobbyist, she has failed to list her work on behalf of TCA. How did TCA get lined up with the state?  Mann is currently lobbying to get a special tax break for TCA from the county, Allentown and the school board. State law fails to compel lobbyists to register for dealings with local government.

We all know how that worked out for Mike Fleck.

Mann is not doing this for Allentown. She is doing it for herself and a very nice commission (as a realtor) on the sale.

Now let's take a closer look at this "serious developer," shall we? The principal of TCA Properties is David Ali, who operates both TCA Properties and another one-man outfit called Impala Builders. He runs both businesses out of his house in Doylestown.

Bucks County records show the following liens against this "serious developer":
2018-73860. Pa Dept of Revenue v. David J Ali and Maria L, filed 8/8/18 for $10,107.77
2011-74202. Pa Dept of Revenue v. David J Ali and Maria L, filed 11/30/11, for $5,710.83
2008-72320. Pa Dept of Revenue v. David Ali, filed 7/29/08, for $6,721.37
2007-70914. Pa Dept of Revenue v. David J Ali and Maria L, filed 4/9/07, for $$6,049.49
2010-21825. IRS v. David J Ali & Maria L, filed 10/4/10, for $4,789.88
2004-04444. EARTHSTAR BANK v. David J Ali & Maria L, foreclosure complaint filed 7/8/2004. Terminated 10/12/06.
2005-20094. IRS v. David J Ali, filed 2/8/05 for $ $87,270.01.
2011-07439. AMERICAN FAST FREIGHT INC v. IMPALA BUILDERS LLC, filed 8/18/11, for $8820.14.

This is a "serious developer"?

State Senator Pat Browne campaigned against opponent Mark Pinsley, listing nonexistent liens. These liens are very real. No government, state or local, should do business with someone who collects tax liens like candy.

In case you're wondering whether anyone aside from me has noticed that TCA is far from the "serious developer" that State Rep. Mike Schlossberg pretends it is, let's look at what The Morning Call itself said about TCA and David Ali back in 2017:
Ali’s companies, TCA and Impala, also are named in a March 10, 2015, report by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. The report raises questions about how Ali’s companies handled the purchase and sale of property in Fayetteville, N.C.. The property was owned by the family of a Veterans Affairs employee, leading to the finding that she had “an appearance of conflict of interest” by participating in the evaluation and sale of land used as a VA health care facility, according to the report.
This is a "serious developer"?

Sign me up. I can make deals from my estate atop the Nazareth Army Navy store, sitting in my underwear.

Over the weekend, Nat Hyman contacted the very state legislators who want to sell this property to a tax deadbeat. His interest was reported in a Morning Call story that originally was very positive. Then reporter Emily Opilo got State Rep. Mike Schlossberg to trash Hyman, which seems to be a hobby for local Allentown officials. His remarks were so vitriolic that the newspaper decided to tone it down and remove some of them.

I guess it can only handle one libel suit at a time.

Why are Schlossberg and even Browne so willing to trash Hyman? Simple. Jenn Mann represents TCA, not Hyman.

Just a few days ago, Schlossberg sent a missive to The Parkland Press, saying "In a perfect world, the Allentown State Hospital buildings would be preserved and re-purposed to create jobs and grow our economy, but we have to face the facts."

Now he has a "responsible developer" who wants to preserve the buildings and create jobs. He is seeking no TIF. But he lacks a connection to Jenn Mann.

Nat Hyman is no Ghandi. He's in this to make money. I do not mean to suggest that he should get the sweetheart deal intended for the tax cheat from Doylestown. It is clear that TCA lacks the resources to do the demolition. Instead of wasting more money, the state should seek proposals from interested developers and do what is right for the Lehigh Valley.

Not Jenn Mann or her minions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

DiLuzio Announces DA Candidacy

Last night, before a throng of about 120 supporters at the Blue Grillhouse in Bethlehem Township, Nuria DiLuzio announced her candidacy for District Attorney in Northampton County. DiLuzio is a graduate of Temple Law School, which she attended at night in her desire to become a lawyer. Daughter of an Albanian immigrant who fled Communist tyranny, DiLuzio said she would "enforce the law fairly and completely,with regard to the rights of all involved."

She has spent most of her two-decade career as a defense lawyer, and is Northampton County's first female Chief Public Defender. Though she has no prosecutorial experience, she pointed out that neither did John Morganelli when he took office a quarter century ago, and he leaves behind a legacy of which all can be proud.

She said the office of District Attorney "is not about power, but service." She pledged to lead an "exceptional" team of prosecutors and law enforcement to protect and serve us all. She also promised "new and creative ways" to deal with crime. "I will work with county government and all concerned citizens to protect our most vulnerable, like our children and seniors. I am prepared to do the hard work as your next DA."

Based on those attending DiLuzio's announcement, she already appears to be the person to beat.

NorCo and LeCo Sheriffs Rich Johnston and Joe Hanna
She was introduced by Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez. He both endorsed her and read a letter of support from State Senator Lisa Boscola.

The biggest plug came from Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio. He referred to Nuria, not just as his wife, but as "the woman I love."

Both Northampton County Sheriff Rich Johnston and Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hanna, who is running for re-election, were there. So were a rather large number of law enforcement people. The bastards were having my car towed while I snapped pictures.

Northampton County Council members Ron Heckman, Kevin Lott and Bill McGee were there. Former NorCo Council President Ken Kraft timed the speeches to make sure no one went over five minutes. I also saw Bethlehem City Council member Bryan Callahan and several Bethlehem cabinet officials.

There were also several trades union reps on hand.

Several prominent attorneys also came, including NorCo Solicitor Missy Rudas, Palmer Solicitor Chuck Bruno and Dwight Danser.

Civil Rights leader Esther Lee was also on hand.

Where was John Morganelli? As an announced candidate for judge, he has to be Switzerland when it comes to politics.

Monday, January 14, 2019

McClure Concerned About Federal Shutdown

Northampton County Exec Lamont McClure is growing uneasy about the potential long-term effects of the federal government shutdown. “With tax bills scheduled to go out later in January, there is no anticipated problem with cash flow,” he said. But he cautions that "several federal grants have been delayed and this may affect services to County residents.”

Money from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will soon be affected, he claims. HUD funds subsidize housing for low-income residents. Northampton County’s Housing Authority has obligated funding through next month. Payments to landlords can be made in January and February, but not be beyond that.

The County expects to receive vouchers for lead paint from residential housing next week. Lead poisoning is a serious issue for children and can cause problems with brain development. Plans to remove the paint are currently on hold.

Federal offices in Washington and Philadelphia are closed. This means no help will be available if problems arise with particular County programs. Some litigation in federal courts has been postponed.

The Department of Corrections is waiting for funds from a State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP) to help house undocumented immigrants.

“People are hungry for competent, transparent and civil government,” says Lamont McClure. “That’s what we deliver here in Northampton County, and that’s what has to happen on the national level—now.”

Nuria DiLuzio to Run For NorCo DA

Bethlehem Attorney Nuria DiLuzio will announce her candidacy for Northampton County District Attorney tonight, 5:30 PM, at the Blue Grillhouse in Bethlehem Tp. She has served as both a full-time and part-time public defender, and is currently Chief Public Defender. She has also maintained a private practice since 2001, focusing on criminal defense and family law. She is married to Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio. She is a Democrat.

The only other candidate to announce so far is Republican Tom Carroll, who announced his candidacy in Lehigh County.

Why is DiLuzio running? She'll explain tonight.

Lisa Pawlowski For Mayor?

Is Lisa Pawlowski, wife of the imprisoned former Mayor, running for the job herself. That's the political gossip coming my way from a Democratic party activist who shall remain anonymous. According to this source, Phoebe Harris and Jessica Ortiz working for her. The strategy is to cobble a plurality in a multi-horse field. This is precisely the same strategy her husband used. According to my source, Lady Lisa has been visible at different community events.

Lisa would attract her husband's hard core supporters, and as a woman, would benefit from a surge in sometimes irrational support for people whose only distinguishing characteristic is that they have no penis.

According to her LinkedIn page, Pawlowski is a "group facilitator" with the Center for Humanistic Change. The focus of that nonprofit is drug and alcohol abuse prevention through the development of life skills. It is aimed primarily at schools.

I have not reached out to Ms. Pawlowski. She and I are on pretty bad terms. She has publicly told people that I am paid on the basis of the number of people reading this blog. She has urged a boycott. The truth is that I am paid nothing.

Incumbent Mayor Ray O'Connell has already announced he's running. Businessman Nat Hyman might run, too.

Updated 9 am: I just received a call from Phoebe Harris, who denies she is working for Pawlowski. She asked me how many sources I had before I went ahead with this. Just one. This story is not double-sourced. It is not real journalism. It is just political gossip. Naturally, if I were disclosing something sinister about these people, I'd be more careful. The rumor is probably untrue, but it's fun to speculate on the "what if."

Friday, January 11, 2019

Bethlehem's Popular Zoning Officer Forced to Resign

Suzanne Borzak
While the rest of us were enjoying the holidays, Bethlehem Zoning Officer Suzanne Borzak was hard at work, as usual. Last Friday, after lunch and with no prior notice, she was summoned to a meeting with the Human Resources Director. When she arrived, Planning Director Darlene Heller and Department pf Community and Economic Development Director Alicia Karner were sitting there, waiting for her. They essentially fired her. What a wonderful gift from the Christmas City for a 55 year-old person! Borzak was told to resign or the City would fight her on unemployment. The reason for her termination? Stealing? Nah. Chronic absenteeism? No way. The City is moving in a different direction, Borzak was told.

Well, it's the wrong direction. Planning Director Darlene Heller likes to stonewall and has a completely unhelpful attitude with the public. Heller clearly resented Borzak and felt threatened by her. Borzak is adored by everyone except for Hotel Bethlehem Principal Bruce Haines. Bruce hates everyone, so he doesn't count.

Let me explain how I know Suzanne. Until I became mesmerized by high school and college hoops, I routinely covered Bethlehem's Zoning Hearing Board. I first saw Suzanne during one of those hearings way back in 2011. At that time, she was a Housing Inspector. She testified against a south side landlord who wanted to convert a single detached home into a two-family home. She destroyed him. First, the owner failed to have the property inspected when he purchased it. Second, he had already been using the property a multi-family home and had been hit with "cease-and-desist" orders several times. Third, there was no heat for at least one of the tenants. Fourth, Borzak visited the property and learned he had actually crammed three families in there. Fifth, it was uninhabitable. She took pictures showing rat feces, exposed wires, inoperable sinks and loose floorboards.

The landlord's petition for relief was denied. In fact, I believe his conduct was tantamount to recklessly endangering the lives of others.

Borzak is very tough. But she is also very fair. When this guy recognized that he had been out of line and made a substantial investment in his property to make it safe for he people who loved there, she worked with him.

Not long after this, Borzak was appointed Bethlehem's Zoning Officer. At this point in her career,she already had 17 years of experience in planning, zoning and code enforcement. Her coal region roots - she's from Schuylkill County - give her a strong work ethic.

I watched her operate as Bethlehem's Zoning Officer for several years. She always had everything organized and ready for the Board, right down to bottles of water. She also made sure agendas were out there for the public. She knew every case being considered inside out, and could perform mathematical questions concerning square footage in her head while everyone else looked at the calculators on their smartphones and iPads.

I believe she was probably Bethlehem's best employee. Certainly in the top ten with people like Mark Spivak.

I have not heard about this from Suzanne directly. I have instead spoken to friends who were with her on the day this happened. I did reach out to Mayor Bob Donchez, who is aware what had happened. As he made very clear to me, it is improper for him to discuss personnel matters. I respect this.

Bob's father was a city police officer who was retaliated against because he exposed police corruption. He worked with a District Attorney named Bernie O'Hare. Detective Donchez was demoted for doing the right thing. But one day, then Mayor Payrow approached Detective Donchez and apologized for what had happened. He said he had listened to the wrong people.

I believe Mayor Donchez is making the same mistake. He is listening to Darlene Heller and Alicia Karner without even bothering to talk to Suzanne. He is hearing one side of the story. He may be listening to the wrong people, just as Payrow did. I find it very hard to believe that someone as professional as Borzak did anything to warrant her separation. Findamental fairness demands that he hear her side of the story, just as Mayor Payrow should have talked to Detective Donchez.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Steve Samuelson and Diapers

I received not one, not two, but three news releases that State Rep. Steve Samuelson was delivering over 3,000 diapers to the Salvation Army yesterday. There is even video of the event. Now mind you, he did not donate the poopie pants himself. He instead leaned on his constituents in an effort to make himself look very generous.

It's unclear how much money the state wasted in publicizing this event, photographing and even filming this long-time public official as he delivered other people's donations. It's really nothing more than an attempt to make himself look good at other people's expense.

Samuelson has been in office now since 1999. That's been his entire career. Twenty years of delivering other people's donated diapers. I am unaware of anything else he has accomplished other than giving speeches to which no one pays attention.

Samuelson is apparently very aware that diapers need to be changed often. As we all know, so do politicians.

Easton's Former Finance Director Running for Controller

Easton's former finance director, Chris Heagele, announced his candidacy for Easton Controller late yesterday afternoon. He is running for the seat currently held by Tony Bassil. Tony is giving that up to run for NorCo Controller.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend yesterday's announcement. I was on my way to a DeSales basketball doubleheader (men and women teams both won!). Heagele was kind enough to send me some information about himself.

Heagele, an Easton resident since 2002, was appointed Easton Finance Director in 2008, and served in that capacity until 2015. During his tenure, the City has had an operating surplus each year. In 2014, Lehigh Valley Business Journal named Heagele one of the Lehigh Valley Chief Financial Officers of the Year as well as Best Turnaround Specialist or his work at the City of Easton.

Heagele is currently the School Business Administrator at North Warren Regional School District in Blairstown, NJ where he is responsible for an $18 Million budget. Prior to joining the City of Easton in 2008, Mr. Heagele was a Vice-President at the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc.

Heagele also does have a very impressive education background. He's a 2001 grad of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he earned his Master of Public Policy. He's also a 1994 magna cum laude grad of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned two degrees: a Bachelor of Economics with concentrations in Finance and Accounting from the Wharton School of Business; and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

That's highly unusual.

Heagele is also active in the Easton community as both a Scout leader and as an Elder at his church. He's an Eagle Scout himself.

He resides on College Hill with wife Donna and sons Zachariah and Alexander.

According to his statement,
"Mr. Heagele pledges to become the City watchdog in the area of fiscal responsibility. Mr. Heagele not only plans to build on the successes of the current City Controller, but also raise the exposure of the City Controller position, which is clearly important to good government, but is often underneath the radar. Mr. Heagele intends to implement a communications strategy which will elevate the position via periodic reports to City Council and periodic meetings of the Audit Committee. Easton’s future is very bright; Mr. Heagele looks forward to the opportunity to make it just a little bit brighter by providing more transparency after he is elected City Controller."
I am unaware of anyone else seeking this position.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Who Killed Holly Branagan?

I received this email over the holidays.

I am a 33 year old Bethlehem resident who has been reading your blog for about three years now. Checking your blog is part of my morning routine along with changing diapers, making coffee, and checking the mcall and express times.

Lately, I have been intrigued with the Holly Brannigan case. I can’t stop researching it. I am just baffled as to why no one was ever charged. Since we are approaching the 40th anniversary (March) I was wondering if you might be able to do a posting on it. I am not sure if you have previously posted anything related to this case, but thought I’d drop you a line to request it.

Happy New Year! Keep up the good work!

Like the writer and many other people I know, the March 1979 murder of Holly Branagan has always mystified me. Holly was a high school student who lived with her father and brother. Her mother had previously died from cancer. Holly was stabbed in the back, quite literally, inside her home with a 10-inch kitchen knife. There were 18 wounds, 15 of which were fatal. The knife was still in her back when her body was discovered the next day by her brother and a friend. It had been wiped clean.

Her brother had spent that night at the home of a friend. In addition, Holly's father was out of town on business. She had made arrangements to go for pizza that night with a girlfriend.

Distraught by the lack of progress, brother Sean started to spread a rumor that he and the Bethlehem police knew who had killed his sister, and that police were getting ready to make an arrest. Sean was warned by his father that spreading this rumor would make him a target, but he continued. He wanted to flush out the murderer.

Maybe he did.

The next year, he was fatally injured in an explosion at a gas station while using a power washer. He lived a short time, and police visited him in the hospital to see if he killed Holly or knew the killer. He shook his head No to both questions.

The death was ruled accidental.

I spoke with District Attorney John Morganelli about the case. He told me this case is still the subject of a grand jury investigation. He noted that fingerprints were found, but did not match up with anyone who might be involved. He indicated a Bethlehem police detective continued to work the case after he retired. While Bethlehem police identified a suspect, this detective had a different theory.  According to Morganelli, these theories lack one thing - evidence.

Below are two interesting podcasts about this case from True Crime Garage.

Holly Branagan murder

Gracedale Finally Has Generators!

Remember Superstorm Sandy? from 2012 I do. Most of the Lehigh Valley was without power for several days or longer as utility workers tangled with downed wires and trees. Gracedale nursing home was without power for six days. To make matters worse, the permanent backup generator failed. Thanks to the National Guard, partial power was restored. The county decided, then and there, that it needed new generators. Believe it or not, it has taken until now to get the job done. That's six years, folks.

Everyone agreed on the importance of generators. Executive John Stoffa appropriated the money in 2013. Executive John Brown pushed for them, too. But when Executive Lamont McClure took office in 2018, there still were no generators, and guess what happened? That's right. Winter storm Riley knocked the power out for 27 hours. 

This was unacceptable to McClure, who led the fight to save Gracedale. It was also unacceptable to former Council member Scott Parsons, who now works in Pubic Works. From the moment he began to work for the county, that was his top priority.

Parsons had an ace up his sleeve, too.

Gracedale's generators
During one of many meetings with engineers who would complain this can't be done or that can't be done, Parsons brought with him a seemingly unassuming fellow saying "Good Day!" to everyone and wearing a bowtie. When the engineers began yet another snow job about ohms and ground fault circuits, this person understood and countered them. That's because this person, despite the bowtie, is himself an electrician who managed projects like Madison Square Garden. This proper bastard is none other than Charles Dertinger.

Dertinger was astonished that, in all the years this project has been underway, no one bothered to get the necessary PPL approvals and right-of-way agreements.

As the contractors from Wind Gap Electric looked on and smiles, Charles inspired the engineers. Parsons made sure they stayed inspired.

Gracedale now has three generators. Any one of them can power all of Gracedale, just by itself, for eight days before running out of diesel fuel. The three combined can keep the home going a month.

Dertinger said that if a storm knocks power out now, residents will not even notice because the switch will be automatic.

Now I know where to go next time the power company screws me just because I've neglected my bill for six months.