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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, January 31, 2019

DaVinci Science Center Pitched to NorCo Council.

Blogger's Note: I was at a college basketball game last night and hence missed this pitch in person. My report is based on the NorCo Council video. 

DaVinci Science Center's Lin Erickson pitched her latest attempt at a "world  class" science center to a dubious Northampton County Council last night. What was originally a $130 million aquarium is now a $160 million nature dome and a 100' tall Vitruvian Man. But he'll be called a Vitruvian Person. Erickson said this latest plan is even better than an aquarium and on a par with The Franklin Institute and Carnegie Science Center. She also claimed it would draw up to 600,000 visitors a year.  She expects 2/3 of the money will come from the public. This is likely because the private sector is a little more careful in how it spends its money.

Easton Mayor Sal Panto, who also was a big cheerleader for the now defunct High School Hall of Fame, has already pledged $30 million of his city's money for this pipe dream. What's more, he has spent $5 million to buy an old hotel, where the DaVinci Science Center will stand. "We aim for the stars," he said. He should be little more concerned about being mooned when this falls on its face.

Erickson said that DaVinci has outgrown its current facility in Allentown. It plans to keep it for children aged 8 and under, and continue its mission of bringing "science to life and life to science" in Easton.

She's planning on a 130,000 sq ft facility, with 50,000 sq ft of exhibits The two major attractions are the Vitruvian Man Person and a "Nature Dome" in which animals live in eternal darkness.

Although this property is located within the flood plain, she said it will be built so that all interior areas will be above it. She called the outside area an urban wetland. Just like a swamp is actually a vernal pool.

You enter by going under and between the legs of the Vitruvian Man Person. Not sure I'd be so crazy about walking underneath the balls of a 100' tall man, but they won't be there. The poor bastard is a Vitruvian Eunech.

Council member Tara "Down With the Patriarchy" Zrinski questioned how a little girl would feel about seeing something that is supposed to be a celebration of the human body in male form.

"It kinda' sends a message," she remarked.

"I hear you totally," responded Erickson. "I'm a female myself." Zrinski said it should be male, female, and "everything in between."

I'm pretty sure that the Vitruvian Man Person is plastic, too, but that point eluded Zrinski.

Whatever it is, Erickson said there will be ramps so people can walk through different body parts and understand how they work. It's very scientific, you know.

The other main feature of this supposed Science Center is the nature dome. You'll be able to take a simulated walk along the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers watershed. You'll pass by a butterfly and insect garden and an indoor forest at night, with 45' tall trees and nocturnal animals that include bobcat, raccoons and oppossums. Don't know if there will be any vampires.

Council member Matt Dietz wondered who would be idiotic enough to pay $23.50 to see what he can see for free by simply going to Jacobsburg Park or walking along the real Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.

Zrinski wondered about the animals. What impact will this have on them? "To me, that sounds cruel," she said. She wondered why they'd be behind glass at all. Some guy named Joe Moore, who has already been paid quite a bit of money to shill this project, said the issue has been carefully studied and that all the animals would be rescues who could never survive in the wild.

Dietz questioned the visitor projections. How many of the 400,000-600,000 visitors per year are wealthy enough to come, he wondered. That information will be supplied to him.

So far, funding for this project has been a joke. $50.4 million in public funds have been "committed" by Easton and the state. Only $2.6 million in private money has been "committed."

"Your funding plan looks anemic," warned Council member Bob Werner. "Thank you for not asking us for any money."

That's coming, but Erickson was cautioned to lower her expectations by Werner, along with Council President Ron Heckman and Council member Kevin Lott.

This is simply a bad idea. I can't think of any sane person who would throw a dime at it. So I fully expect NorCo Council to give Erickson money.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Will Roverfan73 Seek Sixth Term as Easton Mayor?

Roverfan73 with African King
He's made no announcement, but Easton Mayor Sal Panto is running for an unprecedented sixth term. It's been an open secret for months. When he was first elected, he was the City's youngest Mayor. If he stays in office much longer, he'll be the oldest.

Panto, who disguised himself a few years ago as roverfan73 and tom18017 on the Lehigh Valley Live comment page, suffered no real damage for his dishonesty. In truth, despite his thin skin and monumental ego, he has been a good Mayor for the downtown. He's kept it "clean and safe" while the West Ward has become a war zone. He's raised no property taxes, which is evident from the decline in city services. Some of his ideas, like his $30 million commitment to a gigantic fish tank designed by architects who were not even licensed in Pa., could come back to haunt city residents. It's been replaced by something even more idiotic - a giant ant farm. There will also be an outdoor-indoor display of raccoons, skunks and other rodents, possibly elected officials.

Despite my criticism, Panto has been a proponent of affordable housing and the development of small organic businesses in Easton. He appears to be very popular and will be difficult to beat. City Council member Pete Melan might challenge him as well city activist Taiba Sultana. I doubt either can beat him, but choice is always a good thing.

Speaking of choice, I am unaware of any Republican who might be running.

Willie Reynolds Seeks Fourth Term

J. William "Willie" Reynolds, first elected to Bethlehem City Council in 2007, is seeking a fourth term. A government and history teacher at William Allen High School, Willie is a graduate of Liberty High School and Moravian College. An avid runner and former star basketball player, he is the voice for Moravian's Men's Basketball.

“Bethlehem continues to be a model of what a city can be in the 21st century - progressive, diverse, and economically strong," he said in a prepared statement. "I am asking the people of Bethlehem for their support for another term so we can continue the important progress we have made in the areas of climate action, neighborhood revitalization, open and transparent government, and economic development.”

Reynolds stated that he is proud of everything that has been accomplished during his previous four years on City Council including the successful implementation of several initiatives proposed in his “Bethlehem 2017” legislative agenda.

• Proposing and leading the creation of Bethlehem’s first climate action plan
• Northside 2027 – a unique partnership and revitalization strategy for neighborhoods involving citizens, the Bethlehem Area School District, and Moravian College
• Bethlehem’s first open data effort to improve access to public data in an effort to spur innovation and entrepreneurship
• Financial Accountability Incentive Reporting (F.A.I.R.) – an initiative designed to increase transparency and efficiency of economic development incentives
• Working with the Administration and City Council to improve the City of Bethlehem’s financial standing currently reflected in Bethlehem’s recent upgrade to a A+ bond rating from S&P
• Being a vocal advocate for state legislation related to environmental protection, equality, marijuana decriminalization, and increased funding for the Bethlehem Area School District
• Attending block watch meetings and remaining accessible to citizens for neighborhood issues and concerns

If re-elected, Reynolds vowed to continue implementing Bethlehem’s climate action plan, further develop Northside 2027 and extend Bethlehem’s open data initiative.

He also listed these priorities:
• economic redevelopment and revitalization efforts throughout the City.
• keep Bethlehem the safest mid sized city in Pennsylvania.
• improving governmental communication by modernizing Bethlehem’s social media channels in an effort to increase the efficient delivery of basic city services.
• Build cooperative strategies with the Bethlehem Area School District in an effort to combat issues currently affecting Bethlehem’s most vulnerable children.

Four Bethlehem City Council are up for grabs this year. In addition to Willie's seat, the others are currently held by Michael G. Colón (Gracedale Admissions Coordinator), Shawn M. Martell (Nazareth High School teacher), and Dr. Paige Van Wirt (physician). Martell has decided against seeking a second term. Also, Dr. Van Wirt was appointed to Council, not elected. It is believed that she and Colón are running, too, although I've received no announcement.

Grace Crampsie Smith, an Easton Area High School counselor, is also running.

Reynolds may be running for Mayor in two years, when Mayor Bob Donchez' second term ends.

I Got Distracted

I only had one post on Monday and am only getting back into writing mode now. Let me explain why.

I am, as most of you know, an alkie. Though I quit drinking in 1985, I still have what I would call an obsessive personality. I tend to get addicted to things. Some of these, like fatty food, are bad for me. Others, like exercise, can be good unless I overdo it. At one time, my motto was, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing."  That has led to problems.

I leave it to you to decide whether my blogging penchant is positive or negative.

Lately, I've been distracted by another one of my negative additions. I love online strategy war games. In the past, I have missed days of work while sitting at home, in command of some fictional army. I also tend to spend money on it, too.

So yesterday, I was so caught up in online war games I neglected to post. I could tell you I was held up by basketball, but that would be a lie. You may laugh, but this is just one of my many problems.

If you think video game addiction hits only young teenagers, I can say it gets me too at times.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Moravian College To Offer Online MSPA Program

FROM MORAVIAN COLLEGE, January 28, 2019: Today, Moravian College announced it will officially launch the Online Master of Science in Predictive Analytics program (MSPA), the first online Graduate Business program offered by the college, at an event this Wednesday, January 30. The official launch of the program will be announced at Celebrate Innovation, an event being held Wednesday, January 30 at 4:30 p.m. on the Main Street campus of Moravian College in the Haupert Union Building at 1119 Monocacy Street, Bethlehem, PA.

“Launching this online graduate business program to meet the demands of the market is completely aligned with the mission of Moravian College, dating back to our start in 1742,” commented Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian College. “We’ve worked hard to embrace technology and make it ubiquitous on campus for every student, and this online program is part of that evolution.”

The Moravian Graduate program has partnered with Extension Engine to build their online MSPA program which will begin offering classes in September 2019. Extension Engine is a world-class learning solutions provider and nationally recognized expert in online learning that has helped highly regarded institutions like Notre Dame, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) build online learning programs.

“Our partnership with Extension Engine helps strengthen the college’s commitment towards innovation and the liberal arts tradition,” said Scott Dams, dean of graduate enrollment at Moravian College. “There is a pronounced need for data analytics professionals in the region, and the Online Master of Science in Predictive Analytics program will prepare graduates to meet that demand.”

(Blogger's Note: Moravian College has hidden my records and will deny this, but I graduated from that school after 13 years. The person who sent me this will probably be fired. I am happy to post notices from any college.)

Monday, January 28, 2019

NorCo Council Adopts NonBinding Plastic Straw and Bag Ban

Northampton County Council member Tara Zrinski wants all county municipalities to ban the use of plastic straws and bags.  She thinks the best way to make that happen is by having Northampton County Council adopt a non-binding, meaningless resolution. It was tabled last year, but she brought it up again at Council's January 24 meeting.

The arguments from the public were hardly what I'd call compelling. Bethlehem resident Peg Church spoke of a blue whale that had ingested 30 tons of plastic before going tets up. This is bullshit. I've read of a whale with 20 pounds of plastic, but there's a pretty big difference between 20 pounds and 30 tons. She also spoke of a sea turtle with a plastic stray lodged in its nose. Finally, she pointed out that in a recent trip to Scotland, she did not see one plastic bag. She does not know the answer, but "a resolution is as good as anything."

She was joined by a kayaker who complained about all the plastic he sees while paddling the Lehigh River. There was also a gentleman who for some reason discussed edible drinking bottles.

There are several problems with Zrinski's resolution. First, it was never vetted by a Council Committee, which is the norm. Second, it is essentially identical to one tabled in December. Zrinski dishonestly or mistakenly suggested her previous proposal was an ordinance. Third, it is nonbinding, meaning it means nothing. Fourth, no municipality I know of looks to Northampton County Council for guidance on anything. Fifth, the research cited in the resolution is flawed. Some of it, I kid you not, comes from a 10 year old's school project.

I agree that plastic pollution is a serious problem, but an unenforceable plastic straw ban is a joke mostly designed to make Zrinski and her followers feel like they've accomplished something while the world still goes to hell. They can pat themselves on the back while whales still die. What is a solution, here in the Lehigh Valley, is periodic sweeps along the waterways to pick up plastic. Open space money could be used for this and pay people with limited incomes, but we'd rather spend that money to preserve undevelopable swamps and cliffs.

Aside from Zrinski, I doubt any member of Council thinks this accomplishes anything. But it passed 6-2-1. The two No votes came from Matt Dietz and Peg Ferraro. John Cusick voted "present." The Democrats voted Yes, mostly because they fear a primary challenge from environmentalists.

Bill McGee was a bit miffed that Cusick voted "present." But his own vote was cowardly. A real ban, which is what Zrinski wants, would ruin small businesses. But McGee, like his fellow Democrats, is more interested in appeasing zealots than in doing what is in the best interests of the county.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Gracedale Ratings Below Average

Medicare assigns a star rating to each nursing home, from one to five, based on health inspections, staffing and quality measures. This is often used by families to determine where to send their loved ones.  Unfortunately, Gracedale's rating is going in the wrong direction. Its current rating is two stars, or below average. The most recent state survey, conducted in December, resulted in 11 deficiencies. Administrator Jennifer Stewart-King downplayed the significance of this most recent health inspection in brief remarks on Jan 24, but Northampton County Council President Ron Heckman wants to schedule a meeting in which Gracedale, and Gracedale alone, is discussed.

This most recent inspection, conducted by the state Department of Health, notes the following problems:

(1) Gracedale "failed to ensure a dignified dining experience" for several residents. One resident was attempting to feed herself but most of her food never made it to her mouth. "The resident was not able to eat much of her meal."

(2) Gracedale failed to provide "reasonable accommodation of resident needs." A resident with lower back trouble was unable to reach the call bell and ask for help, even though she required extensive physical assistance.

(3) Gracedale violated one resident's right to be free from physical restraints. A doctor had ordered that one resident with a history of falling be placed in something called a pelvic restraint, but also ordered that she be released from it every three hours and while eating. The restraint was kept in place.

(4) Gracedale failed to develop a comprehensive care plan for three residents. This appeared with several residents who were being treated with psychotropic drugs, with no plan in place to address the underlying condition.

(5) Gracedale failed to ensure proper hygiene for two residents. One had "jagged, long and dirty" nails and another was unwilling to brush his teeth.

(6) Gracedale failed to provide quality care to a resident whose arms had visible scratches and scabs. The facility had no documentation that even noted the condition.

(7) Gracedale failed to provide services to relieve pressure sores for a resident with pressure sores on his heels.

(8) Gracedale failed to ensure that two wheelchair-bound residents had call bells.

(9) Gracedale failed to label respiratory equipment for a resident who was receiving oxygen therapy.

(10) Several residents were basically locked into their beds with no evidence that an assessment was made to determine if this was needed.In addition, informed consent from the resident is needed for this measure and there is no evidence it was obtained.

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, 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.