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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, August 31, 2020

MLK's Dream Still Remembered, 57 Years Later

Despite the need for a walker, civil rights icon Esther Lee
participates  in virtual walk on Washington
On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I have a dream!" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. He was joined by at least 200,000 people in what he called "the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation." Dr. King noted that "America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.'" But he was still hopeful. He had a dream. He met with then President John Kennedy, who thought the march helped his civil rights bill. Two months later, Kennedy was assassinated. Not long thereafter, so was King.

But the dream lives on.

The virtual march was a walk around the block. McClure didn't even break a sweat. 
Fifty-seven years later, Dr. King's words still echo throughout this nation, including at Bethlehem's Payrow Plaza. A crowd of about 70 people gathered at the Christmas City's front porch in remembrance of both that march and one of the greatest speeches ever delivered.

Mayor Ray O'Connell introduces Council members to Esther Lee

When Dr. King spoke 57 years ago, it was on a pleasant summer day. August 28, 2020 was a different story. Instead of 200,000 marchers, there may have been 200,000 cicadas warning of bad weather ahead. Ominous dark clouds gathered. But the Mayors of all three of the Lehigh Valley's cities made it a point to be there, along with NorCo Exec Lamont McClure. Three members of Bethlehem City Council - Willie Reynolds, Olga Negron and Grace Crampsie Smith - were there. Accompanying Allentown Mayor Ray O'Connell were Council members Daryl Hendricks, Candida Affa and Ed Zucal.

The dream lives on.

Lee exchanges pleasantries with Allentown's Council members
If you've visited any of the local Black Lives Matter or Black the Blue rallies., you've probably noticed that most of participants are young white progressives or old white conservatives. They participate in mindless chants of "Defund the Police!" or "USA! USA!" With the exception of elected officials, a large proportion of the participants at Friday's rally in Bethlehem were black. They mostly wore their Sunday best. They marched. They sang. They even danced.

The dance of these three pretty young ladies was just one of several musical
interludes marking this remembrance of MLK's "I have a dream!" 
They still have a dream.

The white Mayors and County Exec gave excellent speeches. Perhaps "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood," as Dr. King dared to dream.

Mayor O'Connell, meeting the iconic Esther Lee for the first time, hugged her. She was happy to meet members of Allentown City Council, at least two of whom are NAACP members.

But it's still an unrealized dream.

Lehigh University's Dr. Daniel Outing made that clear. "Racism is in the American dirt," he said. "America's real pandemic, eternal pandemic, is racism, and the the infection continues to kill, always and forever."

But like Dr. King, Dr. Outing is hopeful. "What makes us great is not our belief that we are perfect. What makes us great is our desire to be better and do better."

He still dares to dream.

How about you?

Friday, August 28, 2020

General Election FAQs

NorCo's Elections Office has provided an excellent list of Frequently Asked Questions for Northampton County voters concerned about the General Election which will be held on November 3rd.

Can I vote by mail?
·        Yes. Act 77, which was passed in 2019, allows for no excuse mail-in voting. Applications must be received by October 27th and are available in the Election’s Office or online at https://www.votespa.com/Pages/default.aspx

How do I know my application has been accepted or if my ballot has been received?
·        Citizens who sign up on votespa.com will receive emails about their application/ballot status. Voters who applied on paper can track the status of their ballot at votespa.com

Why did I get an email saying my application for a mail-in ballot has been declined?
·        It’s likely that a duplicate application was filed. Some voters forgot that they also requested a mail-in ballot for the General Election when they filled out an application for the Primary. Also, local groups have sent out unsolicited applications, confusing some voters into applying more than once.

When will ballots go out in the mail?
·        Ballots will start being mailed out by the end of September. Voters can check the status of their ballot on-line at votespa.com

I’m worried about getting my mail-in ballot back to the Elections Office on time.
·        To be counted, ballots must be returned to the Election’s Office by 8:00PM on November 3rd. Right now, we are recommending voters return their ballot as soon as possible or at least get it in the mail by October 20th.

What kind of stamp should I use to mail my ballot back?
·        Return envelopes are metered with first class postage. Voters do not have to use a stamp.

Do I have to return my ballot by mail?
·        No. Ballots can be returned directly to the Election’s Office at the Government Center or, for those who prefer to not go through security, to the secure ballot drop-off box in the Rotunda. (The box will be installed when ballots become available.) The Government Center is located at 669 Washington Street Easton, PA 18042.

Can someone else deliver my ballot to the Elections Office?
·        If you come into the office, you may be asked for your ID or, if you’re dropping off someone else’s ballot, you will be asked for a signed “Certification of Designated Agent” form.  A copy of the form can be downloaded at votespa.com

Is there anything visible on the outside of the mail-in ballot envelope that indicates my party affiliation such as a “D” for Democrat?
·        No

I requested a mail-in ballot, but I’ve changed my mind and want to vote at the polls.
·        Voters can cancel their mail-in ballots by filling out a form at votespa.com until September 1st.

It’s after September 1st. I requested a mail-in ballot but now I want to vote in-person at the polls.
·        Voters should bring their mail-in ballots and the return envelope to the polls. The Judge of Election will spoil the ballot and let them vote on the machine.

Will the polls be open on November 3rd?
·        Yes. As of right now, the Election’s Office plans on staffing all 154 precincts with 315 voting machines.

Have the ExpressVote XL machines been tested?
·        Yes. The machines were all recalibrated after the election in November 2019 and will undergo testing before the election on November 3rd. The machines performed very well in the June Primary.

Have any polling locations changed?
·        Northampton 4 is now at Gospel Church 1769 Newport Ave; Hellertown 3 is now at Saucon Valley High School Gym; Easton 8W and 8E is now at Paxinosa Elementary School.

Do I have to wear a mask at the polls? What about the poll workers?
·        All poll workers are required to wear masks. We strongly request that voters wear masks out of respect to the people who volunteer in our elections.

Who should voters call if they have problems or questions either before or on Election Day?
·        The Northampton County Elections Office: 610-829-6260 or election@northamptoncounty.org  

Our democracy increases in strength the more we all participate. If you, or someone you know, has an interest in taking a more active role, please consider becoming a poll worker. Poll workers are paid for their training time and their work on Election Day. https://www.northamptoncounty.org/CTYADMN/ELECTNS/Pages/PollWorkers.aspx

Dinosaur Spotted in Nazareth

I saw this vicious dinosaur in Nazareth today, going for a walk.

"What kind of dinosaur is that?" I asked the little girl.

"A brown one."

"Yes, but what kind?"

"A mommy dinosaur."

Thursday, August 27, 2020

BLM LV Demands McClure to Veto "Offensive" Referendum Banning Discrimination

Last week, by a 7-1 vote, Northampton County Council agreed to ask voters to make a change to the county's Home Rule Charter. This is the county's constitution, and it does specifically ban discrimination in county employment. But the language used is antiquated and could be construed in a way that allows it to refuse employment on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. Council wants the Charter to reflect that we are a tolerant community and has faith that the voters will see it this way, too. There is a small minority of homophobes who will oppose this, but this is a country that recently had an openly gay Presidential candidate and a state that has numerous openly gay elected officials. Like Council, there is no doubt in my mind that a vast majority of NorCo voters will support this measure. It's time. Amazingly, this is opposed by Tara Zrinski, who distrusts the good will of the people of the Lehigh Valley. She has corralled two LGBTQ groups to pressure Executive Lamont McClure to veto what really is nothing more than a housekeeping measure. But what really takes the cake is the pressure brought by demagogue Justan Parker, who claims to lead Black Lives Matter Lehigh Valley.

Parker is the bullhorn-toting screamer who jumped to the wrong conclusion when Allentown police were forced to deal with a puking and staggering drug addict and drunk outside Sacred Heart St. Luke's in July. He had ingested seven bags of heroin along with some cocaine and was an immediate danger to himself and others. In the course of putting a spit mask on this fellow so he could be treated by medical personnel, an officer had his knee on this gentleman's head for a few seconds. There was no brutality. Officers were actually trying to help this guy. But a video shot by a passerby was blown out of proportion by Parker and other loudmouths. He organized a mob that has been banging on the doors and windows of Allentown City Council. He is at the front of the "Defund the Police" movement, and has participated in, if not led, chants of "Fuck the Police" and "Get Down or Lay Down."

In an August 26 letter to Executive Lamont McClure, Parker wants a veto.
Black Lives Matter Lehigh Valley is calling on you to veto the recently passed Voter referendum that would put LGBT civil rights on the ballot.

This issue is important to our organization as systemic racism and oppression negatively affect black and brown members of the LGBT community.

In this day and age, a majority population of non LGBT citizens should not have the opportunity to vote on protections and legal rights of a minority population of LGBT citizens.

In this current climate, we should be working together on ways to build our community with an emphasis around solidarity and love. Not a voter referendum that will only prove to LGBT residents that they are not supported by their neighbors.

Black Lives Matter is asking you to VETO this disturbing, offensive, and unnecessary voter referendum.
Do any of you think that Black Lives Matter LV had a meeting and actually voted on this matter? Of course not. I have to laugh when someone shouts "Fuck the Police" yet talks about "solidarity and love."

Parker is the mob. He is no different than a Maximilien de Robespierre, who led a Reign of Terror in the French Revolution.

McClure can follow the mob if he wants. Or he can trust the people who put him in office.

UPDATED: Why Pave Nor-Bath Trail?

At their August 20 meeting, Northampton County Council voted 8-0 (Peg Ferraro was absent) to reject a $218,693 bid from Grace Industries to pave a portion of the Nor_bath Trail. Twenty-seven firms accessed what's called the Request for Proposals, but only Grace submitted a proposal. Council member Tara Zrinski complained about the quality of work done by Grace, and Council member John Cusick was concerned that only one firm submitted a bid. The project will be re-bid, but Executive Lamont McClure worried there may be no bids at all in a rebid. "What are you going to do?" he asked.

I'd suggest there's no need to do any paving on a trail. All that does is add to impervious coverage, which increases water run off. Paved trails are also more dangerous because cyclists will travel too fast. The best surface would be crushed stone, which is pervious and more easy to maintain than asphalt.

UPDATED 3:25 PM: I'm informed this paving will be gravel, not asphalt. That's different, lol. Am trying to find out and will let you know if I had it wrong.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Lehigh County: Phil Armstrong to Release No-Tax Budget Tomorrow

Despite a pandemic that has caused most local governments to bleed money, Lehigh County Exec Phil Armstrong has just announced there will be no tax hike when he releases his 2021 Budget tomorrow.

I love his weekly updates, which you can see above.

Want to Volunteer For Covid-19 Vaccine Study?

If you'd like to volunteer for a Covid-19 trial vaccine, you can do so here. I'm pretty much nonessential and am hardly on the front lines. But I volunteered for what it's worth.

McClure: Veto of NonDiscrimination Referendum "Likely"

NorCo Exec Lamont McClure apparently distrusts the voters, too. He indicated on social media last night that he will "likely" veto Council's decision to ask voters to amend the Home Rule Charter to prohibit discrimination in county employment on the basis of sexual orientation or lifestyle. My previous story on this issue is located here.

If he distrusts that the voters will do the right thing, why should voters trust him? His action is a basic betrayal of democracy itself. He and even his Voting Registrar want to prevent the people from participating in the democratic process.

As John Lewis said, "The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society." But McClure will "likely" deny that right.

McClure is Executive, not King. Seven members of Council have already expressed confidence that voters will do the right thing. Hopefully, six of them will refuse to be bullied by him and let the people speak.

Cops and Good Trouble

Kerry Myers is in his first year on NorCo Council
On May 25, African American George Floyd was detained and eventually arrested by Minneapolis police officers for passing a counterfeit $20 bill. A white police officer knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes, while three other officers kept bystanders at bay. Pleas of "I can't breathe" were ignored, and the officer refused to remove his knee from Floyd's neck despite pleas that he do so. Floyd died. A video of this obvious brutality sparked nationwide outrage, and by people of all colors. The officers involved have been charged with homicide, but both peaceful protests and riots ensued. Cries of "Defund the police!" and "Black Lives Matter!", accompanied by violence, eventually led to "Back the Blue" counter-protests. Donald Trump declared himself the "President of Law and Order." In the meantime, every questionable incident involving police with persons of color have led to more protests, from Allentown to Wisconsin. It is against this backdrop that a group of 74 people, 50 of whom are police officers, met yesterday at Steel Stacks for a wide-ranging discussion of police interactions with persons of color.

This three-hour meeting, called "Courageous Conversations," was sponsored by NorCo DA Terry Houck, NorCo Council member Kerry Myers, Pa Democratic Black Caucus member Harold Levy and Senior Pastor Philip Davis of Easton's Shiloh Church. This is the second time this group met.

Does Racism Exist?

There are people on both sides of this issue in the community. So it's no surprise that police officers have different views as well.

Roseto Police Chief Brandon Rader denied there's any racism on the part of the officers with whom he works. But he said there is such a thing as good people and bad people. He noted that at times, a black person will claim he is being stopped because of his color. "No, I'm not," he said. "If you're a good person, I'll buy you a meal. I'll put gas in your car."

In stark contrast to Rader, LU Police Chief Jason Schiffer (former Chief of Bethlehem's Police Department) said "[r]acism is alive at LU and in our community."I need to recognize those shortcomings in myself."

Dave Collins, the first black person to become a Captain at Northampton County's jail, relayed his own experience. When he's driving, even if he is in uniform, he immediately gets nervous if he sees a police cruiser. In his mind, he goes over what he'll do if stopped. He noted that at one time, there were no police departments.

There were slave patrols.

False Loyalty

Collins also condemned what he called the "false loyalty" among some police and corrections officers who will back each other when there's a misconduct complaint. "What side of history do you want to be on?" he asked. "I want to be on the right side." This concern was also raised by community member Nicole Cooper, who said there needs to be more accountability. "We need officers who will say, 'That was wrong.'" Shje lamented that 48% of police discipline cases are overturned (I am unable to corroborate that assertion) nut former Easton Police CPT Scott Casterline said that is because those matters are reviewed by an independent arbitrator.

Harold Levy (Black Caucus) and DA Terry Houck
Defund the Police?

Almost all agreed that the "Defund the police" mantra is a misnomer. Kerry Myers, NorCo County Council's sole black member, said he prefers to see some funding reallocated to training officers. But Chief Schiffer countered that most police departments are hampered by very tight budgets. He said that when he was Chief in Bethlehem, he at one time had barely enough money to fuel his cruisers.

Terry Houck, who spent a decade as a Philly cop before becoming a prosecutor, echoed Schiffer. Houck said that when he started as a patrolman, Philly had 8,000 officers. When he left the force 10 years later, there were just 6,000. "Defunding the police has been going on for years," he lamented. He said it really hurts the ability of his office to prepare cases for trial.

Do We Need School Resource Officers? (SRO)

John Remaley and Scott Casterline, school resource officers at Easton Area School District, think so. In the wake of the Parkland shootings, they are needed to protect children from a seeming increase in mass shootings. "Most of the time, we are mentors or counselors," he said. He noted that a good SRO is adept at de-escalation, something he learned as a police officer.

Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said the Lehigh Valley is putting the finishing touches on a new program called "Handle With Care," in which a school is provided with a "heads up" when a child has been subjected to a traumatic event so he can be provided with counseling.

Don't Jump to Conclusions

Chief DiLuzio also recommended that people should refrain from jumping to conclusions when they see only a brief video clip, as happened recentkly in Allentown. "Let's deal with facts," he said.


Captain Collins expressed the fear he feels when he is driving and sees an officer. But that's a two-way street. Detective Andre Stevens noted that officers are "not punching bags," but should avoid feeling fearful when dealing with someone. "If you got fear in your heart, you should not wear the badge."

Good Trouble

The meeting ended with a video clip of civil rights icon John Lewis, who liked to say "Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble." Though officers were told they could leave before the video played, they stayed.

Thode: New LV Covid Cases and Test Positivity Have Dropped Substantially

Numbers cruncher Steve Thode has been following and reporting on the Covid-19 data since the inception of the pandemic. Here's his latest report.

The 14-Day COVID-19 New Case Rate has dropped substantially in both Lehigh and NorCo.

The number of new cases in the two counties combined has dropped by 50% in less than a month as illustrated by this chart:

In the last 14 days, Lehigh has reported only 143 new cases out of 6,008 new tests.

That's a positivity rate of 2.38%.

In the last 14 days, NorCo has reported only 124 new cases out of 5,323 new tests.

That's a positivity rate of 2.33%.

The 14-day case rates and positivity rates are the lowest for both counties since the pandemic began.

Statewide, the positivity rate for the last 14 days is 3.05%. That's also a new low.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Zrinski and NorCo's Elections Chief Distrust the Voters

Tara Zrinski, a member of Northampton County Council, is running for the state house seat being vacated by Marcia Hahn. But she distrusts the voters she hopes will elect her. Amy Cozze is Northampton County's openly gay elections chief. She also distrusts the voters she is supposed to be serving. All of this became clear by a decision made by County Council last week and the ruckus that followed on social media. By a 7-1 margin (member Peg Ferraro was absent), they approved a referendum in which voters will be asked to amend the Home Rule Charter to prohibit the County from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or identity. Zrinski was the sole No vote.

Council members John Cusick and Kerry Myers sponsored this measure. Cusick explained that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or identity was banned by the Supreme Court in June, and NorCo has adopted policies consistent with that decision. The County's 43 year-old Home Rule Charter, however, is based on the language of the Civil Rights Act. "I feel that it's important that we add this to the Home Rule Charter and that we ask the voters to affirm what the Supreme Court did,' argued Cusick. "I believe this is something that, in 2020, they will support."

Myers agreed. "We need to have faith in the people of Northampton County," he asserted. He later invoked his inner John Lewis, "Sometimes you gotta' get in good trouble."

Zrinski, who spoke four times and repeated herself, unsuccessfully attempted to have the referendum tabled. "The voters don't get to have a second pass at what has already been deemed by the Supreme Court," she declared. She also said she spoke to members of the LGBTQ who think it's a terrible idea to let the voters weigh in. "This is a tactic to undermine the Supreme Court ruling," she charged, which impugned John Cusick's motives.

Zrinski was contradicted by members Lori Vargo-Heffner and Ron Heckman. They also spoke to members to the LGBTQ community who had no problem letting the voters decide. ""I am going to trust the will of the people of Northampton County."

After the meeting, Zrinski continued to gripe on Facebook about the measure, and this is when NorCo's Voter Registrar Amy Cozze decided to signal her own views on an election matter she is required to administer. "I don't look forward to knowing how many people in Northampton County think I don't deserve equal rights because of my sexual orientation," she complained.

Under Northampton County's Home Rule Charter, nothing prevents the chief elections official from weighing in on matters in which she has either a personal or political interest. Perhaps it should. Cozze's remarks about an elections question she will be administering creates the perception and perhaps the reality that she will run elections in a way designed to favor herself and her party. Even worse, it is an indication that she, too, distrusts the voters she serves.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Trump's Illegal Threat of Law Enforcement at Polls

On Friday, President Donald Trump threatened to send law enforcement to watch the polls on election day. "We're going to have sheriffs, and we're going to have law enforcement, and we're going to have, hopefully, US attorneys, and we're going to have everybody and attorney generals (sic)," he brayed.

I can only speak to Pennsylvania, where the law is very clear. Unless he's there to vote, any police officer who is within 100' of a polling place is committing a crime, unless he's there to vote himself. Here's what the Elections Code says:

"Any police officer in commission, whether in uniform or in citizen's clothes, who shall be within one hundred (100) feet of a polling place during the conduct of any primary or election, except in the exercise of his privilege of voting or for the purpose of serving warrants, or in accordance with the provisions of the exception set forth in section 1207 of this act where the police station or headquarters is located in the same building or on the premises where the polling place is located or unless called upon to preserve the peace, as provided by this act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five hundred ($500) dollars, or to undergo an imprisonment of not more than one (1) year, or both, in the discretion of the court."

The only person who can ask police to preserve the peace is the Judge of Elections.

This is also contrary to federal law, which bans any federal official from summoning either troops or armed men to a polling place unless necessary to repel armed enemies of the U.S.

What Trump is doing is voter intimidation.

Only One Man Would Dare Give Me the Raspberry!

We were masked and did social distance, except Anne was hiding from the camera. 
On Sunday morning, I rode my bike along the wide berms of Route 191 from Nazareth to the Delaware and Lehigh Trail at Sand Island. Anne Felker, Don Kelly, Shari Wilson and Rick Bannister were positioned on the trail with maps and were also offering to do bike checks to passing cyclists. Although I have no mechanical ability, I thought I'd offer some moral support. We met lots of interesting, none more so than the man who dared give me the raspberry. His name is not Lone Starr.

Jim Thorpe or bust! 
Some people like the beach. This Philly cycling couple was taking a mini-vacation along the Delaware and Lehigh Trail. They had ridden up from Bristol to Easton and then took the trail west and into Bethlehem. After a night in the Christmas City, they planned to ride to Jim Thorpe.

We also met Team EPS -Riptide-Cawes. They had come in from Jersey and were doing over a century. They wanted directions to WaWa for a sports drink called Mountain Dew.

The man who dared give me the raspberry was about four or five years old. The second he saw me he ran and hid behind his mother. I tried to put him at ease by saying how good he looked. He responded by sticking his tongue out at me and giving me the raspberry.

Everyone complimented him on his excellent judgment.

He had a flat.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Grandpa Armstrong Explains MIBs

Not long ago, I called Lehigh County Exec Phil Armstrong the Grandpa of the Lehigh Valley. I love his periodic updates, which are always informative and delivered in a folksy style. His topic on Friday was the upcoming Presidential and mail-in ballots (MIBs).

Armstrong explained there are two ways to vote - in person at your local precinct or by mail-in ballot, which you can mail or hand deliver to the elections office.

What about MIBs? Will it get there?

"There are all kinds of people now really worried about mailing in their ballot, and having it get here. Well, November 3 is the Election Day. ... I have a lot of confidence in our postal system. I know my mortgage bill came on time. I know my credit card bill came on time and the package my wife ordered in the mail came on time. So the mail is getting through. "

Armstrong noted that elections officials have yet to mail out the ballots. "The official ballots going out won't be going out until we get the official word on who's on the ballot and we can print them."  He estimates they will go out the last week in September or first week in October.

"Get it in the mail by October 20th and you will have absolutely no worries," he recommends, adding that the county might open up on Saturdays near Election Day for those who want to hand-deliver their ballots.

"Send it in, go to the polls or come here.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Can An Old Fart Exercise in the Heat?

Bushkill Creek is an air-coditioner
Can an old fart exercise in the heat? I do. I've been doing it all summer. Yesterday, I rode from my estate in Nazareth to the courthouse, worked 30 seconds, then rode to the Pho Bowl in Bethlehem and returned back home. Because much of the Delaware and Lehigh Trail is impassable between Easton and Sand Island, I hit the roads for much of my ride. I find that, once you're used to it, exercising in the heat is fine. You need to drink more and forget about setting any speed records, but I find that the heat actually makes me more limber. But it's easier in the shade. Yesterday, there was no refuge from the sun on the roads, and that can be brutal.

I noticed this today as well. Once every four days, I "run." Though I try to start early when it's hot, I like to sleep too much. Today I started at 9:30 am and went 4.1 miles, followed by 1.5 miles of walking at a 16 minute per mile clip. It's the most intense workout I do. I felt very loose the entire time. I think that is entirely due to the heat.

My conclusion is that heat is actually beneficial for boomers like myself because my muscles stretch more easily and I have no joint pain. BUT, and this is a big BUT, avoid the sun.

Most of my run on the Tatamy trail is both shaded and flat. On top of that, the Bushkill Creek is like air-conditioning. So I actually had my best run in many years this morning. My average heartrate was 85% of my max, which is a bit worrisome, but the run today and the ride yesterday caused no soreness.

The story is much different when it's cold.

If you're a senior like myself, you might notice your old bones and muscles come to life in the heat.

Blogger's note: Ten minutes after writing this story, I died.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Biden Vows to Overcome "Season of Darkness"

I've listened to Vice President Joe Biden many times over the decades. I always thought he was a good orator. In night 4 of the Dem Nat'l Convention, however, he delivered the best speech I ever heard him make. In fact, it even eclipsed the speech given by Barack Obama on Wednesday.

"“I’ll be an ally of the light, not our darkness,” he said, drawing a stark contrast between himself and the current occupant of the White House. The incumbent has enabled not just the Covid-19 virus, but a pandemic of fear and hate that appears to have infected many of my Republican friends.

“[M]ake no mistake, united we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America,” promised Biden, but can we ever again be united?

I hope so, and believe Biden is just the person for the moment.

McClure v. Social Workers

Allentown City Council members Ce-Ce Gerlach and Josh Siegel have both promoted the notion of defunding the police or at least diverting some of the money allocated to public safety to fund social services. They both participated in rallies chanting "Get down or Lay down and "F--- the police." They should talk to NorCo County Executive Lamont McClure.

In NorCo, CYF workers had a hissy fit when McClure ordered them back to work. They were all going to die horrible deaths from the Covid, they said. They paraded before County Council and even attacked this blog for exposing them as hypocrites who had to be called back because they weren't doing their jobs. Police officers were.

In the three months these entitled workers have been back, not a single soul among them has contracted Covid-19. But guess what? They are
asking to telecommute again. Through Council member Tara Zrinski, they noted their own children are going to be at home a lot more because schools are going to be partly online. Zrinski even hinted there could be a mass exodus if these workers don't get what they want.

After all, some of them have Master's degrees.

"I'm not inclined to do it," said McClure. "I have empathy for these folks, but I also have a sworn obligation to make sure that the vulnerable children who are in abuse homes are taken care of.

Council member Kerry Myers backed McClure. "We cannot neglect what our responsibility is."

McClure Wants to Fund ALL 660 Small Businesses Who Sought Grants

Last week, NorCo $4 million in grants to 302 small businesses negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most are for $15,000. These were awarded on a first come, first served basis. As a result, 358 worthy businesses who applied late were left out. Executive Lamont McClure was hopeful that he might be able to open up a second round of funding with left over funds from the $27.6 million in CARES money provided to the county. He reported to NorCo Council last night that the County has sufficient funds for all 660 small business grant applications.

NorCo Council will have to approve these grants. If they do, the county will have spent $8.7 million to help small businesses. "I can't think of a better use of the CARES money," said McClure.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Barack Delivers Devastating Trump Takedown at Dem Convention

The headliner at Night Three of the Democratic National Convention was supposed to be Kamala Harris. But what she and three night's worth of speakers were completely eclipsed by the devastating take-down that Barack Obama delivered against his successor. A full transcript is at CNN, and below are some selected passages:

"I have sat in the Oval Office with both of the men who are running for president. I never expected that my successor would embrace my vision or continue my policies. I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously; that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care.

"But he never did. For close to four years now, he's shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.

"Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't. And the consequences of that failure are severe. 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone while those at the top take in more than ever. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.

* * *

"[Biden and Harris] believe that in a democracy, the right to vote is sacred, and we should be making it easier for people to cast their ballot, not harder. They believe that no one -- including the president -- is above the law, and that no public official -- including the president -- should use their office to enrich themselves or their supporters.

"They understand that in this democracy, the Commander-in-Chief doesn't use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil. They understand that political opponents aren't "un-American" just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn't the "enemy" but the way we hold officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depends on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up.

"None of this should be controversial. These shouldn't be Republican principles or Democratic principles. They're American principles. But at this moment, this president and those who enable him, have shown they don't believe in these things."

NorCo Elections Office Needs Another $620K

Northampton County Council is expected to vote tonight on an increased budget in the elections office. Much of the money will be spent on postage for mail-in ballots, which have been mandated by Governor Tom Wolf. Although the state has promised to reimburse the costs, the county will be forced to front the money. In addition, Registrar Amy Cozze notes that the cost of printing the ballots has skyrocketed.

In the primary, there were 47,000 requests for MIBs. Cozze had projected there would be 100,000 requests for the general, and has 47,000 requests so far. But she noted she's receiving calls from voters who now have second thoughts and might decided to vote in person.

If a voter receives a MIB and decides to vote in person, he may do so but must bring the ballot and the envelope to his local Judge of Elections. At that point, the MIB will be spoiled and the voter will be able to vote in person.

What Happens If A Voter Fails to Sign Mail-in Ballot?

Pennsylvania Secretary of State, Kathy Boockvar, is the chief statewide official responsible for administering elections. Her department maintains a database of all registered voters, certifies the voting systems used in each county and provides guidance to county offices. Recent changes in state law now permit no-excuse mail-in ballots (MIB) for the first time. Five federal lawsuits have been filed by Republicans, Democrats and conservative groups. On August 7, Pennsylvania's League of Women Voters made it six. Although the League endorses universal MIBs as an enhancement to democracy, it nevertheless complains that "the administration of Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail system retains a critical flaw that now is likely to affect many more Pennsylvania voters: lack of a mandatory notice and cure process for missing signatures or perceived mismatches between an application’s and a ballot’s signature. The lack of any guidance from the Secretary of the Commonwealth has led to variation among Pennsylvania counties as to whether, and how, voters are provided notice and an opportunity to cure problems related to ballot signatures. Voters have a due process right to such notice and opportunity to cure, and an equal protection right to a uniform statewide procedure for counting mail-in ballots that is applied regardless of the county in which the voter resides and casts their ballot." As of yesterday, the state has filed no answer. The suit names neither Northampton nor Lehigh County as Defendants. This might be because locally, our elections offices do attempt to notify voters who fail to sign their ballots. I have contacted both offices, and this is what they tell me.

Lehigh County Registrar Timothy Benyo: "Any returned envelope without a signature get isolated. Voters will receive a personal letter & their ballot with instructions on how to remedy their issue. If time until the deadline is short and the mail will not get to them before the deadline, we will use the additional information provided from the application or their record (phone, email) to contact them."

Northampton County Registrar Amy Cozze: "We check to make sure that 1. There is a signature, and 2. That it is the correct name. If either of these requirements are not met, the voter is contacted, and the ballot is returned to the voter so they have an opportunity to correct the error. We err on the side of the voter as default, and would never frivolously deny someone the right to vote. Personally I know the signature on file for me is not even remotely similar to how I now sign my name, as is the case with most of the voting public. Our solicitor has assured us that we are meeting the standards of the law with this practice, it is also how I have directed our poll workers in trainings in regard to signature verification. I hope this helps."

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

NorCo Reported Just One New Covid-19 Case Yesterday

With schools set to re-open, this is encouraging news.

I Love Jill!

I was so disgusted after Dem Convention Night 1 that I resolved to skip the rest. But I routinely listen to C-Span radio, and caught a lot of Dem Convention Night 2. It was much better. I really loved the profile of Dr. Jill Biden, an exceptional woman from Willow Grove. She repaired a broken family and her husband and she not want to repair a broken country.

Democrat "NonProfit"and RNC Send Unsolicited MIB Applications to NorCo Voters

NorCo's Elections Office is all atwitter that "outside groups" are mailing unsolicited voter registration and mail-in ballot applications to citizens in Northampton County. The groups doing this are the Voter Participation Center, the Center for Voter Information and the RNC. What they are doing is perfectly legal and is designed to increase voter participation. I see nothing wrong with sending out voter registration applications, something that the Elections Office should be encouraging. But I am bothered by the practice of handing out MIB applications to people who may have already applied for a MIB.

According to Wikipedia, Voter Participation Center is actually Women's Voices Women Vote (WVWV), founded by Democratic political activist Page Gardner. It works in tandem with the Center for Voter Information.

The RNC, of course, is the Republican party.

In 2018, Voter Participation Center sent voters a "Pennsylvania State Voter Report," detailing the voting history of both the recipient and several neighbors. It asked, in bold upper caps, "What if your friends, your neighbors, and your community knew whether you voted?" It was an obvious attempt to shame people into voting. But there's nothing nefarious about trying to register voters. The County should be doing all it can to encourage voter participation.

Unsolicited MIB applications are more troublesome. These are legally, but do create a small risk of voter fraud when sent to a deceased person, which the elections office avers has happened. A family member could fill out the application, and so long as there still is a driver's license number on record, cast a fraudulent vote.

If someone has already applied for a MIB, sending out a second request for one is bound to cause confusion.

Just so you know, only one MIB will be counted.

“We want the public to know that the Elections Office does not send out unsolicited applications,” says NorCo Registrar Amy Cozze. “These mailings have generated a great deal of confusion and, in the case of the recently deceased, much pain for family members. Anyone who receives one of these unsolicited applications should check the ‘Paid by’ notice to see which group sent it.”

The Elections Office performs regular maintenance of Northampton County’s voter rolls, removing ineligible voters after they have passed away, moved out of the County or have been inactive for a period of time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Dem Convention Night One: Most Interesting Things Said

The 11 speakers in the first night of the Democratic convention included Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama. I listened to them all. Below are the most meaningful things said by each:

Michelle Obama -

Bernie Sanders -

Catherine Cortez Masto -

Doug Jones -

Amy Klobuchar -

Andrew Cuomo -

Gretchen Whitmer -

James E. Clyburn -

Bennie Thompson -

Gwen Moore -

John Kasich -

Yep. It was a snoozefest. But they all have one trait Donald Trump lacks - decency.

Covid-19 Test Positivity Rate Continues to Drop.

Numbers cruncher Steve Thode has some encouraging news concerning the Covid-19 pandemic.

For the seven days ended August 15, NorCo reported 2,702 new tests with 80 positives. That's a positivity rate of 2.96%.

For the seven days ended August 15, Lehigh reported 2,613 new tests with 102 positives. That's a positivity rate of 3.90%.

For the seven days ended August 15, DoH reported statewide 167,496 new tests with 5,608 positives. That's a positivity rate of 3.35%

So, NorCo is doing better than the statewide average while Lehigh is doing worse.

A positivity rate is the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive, or: (positive tests)/(total tests) x 100%. The World Health Organization recommends that the positivity rate be at or below 5% for two weeks before easing restrictions.

In NorCo, Exec Lamont McClure calls this low positivity rate "tremendous news," but warns the cold and flu season cometh. The cold and flu season has already hit the southern hemisphere, but the numbers are much lower than usual. Some experts believe that social distancing and masks have been very effective tools against the flu.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Do Not Count Trump Out

The Washington Post reports today that Biden-Harris has a 12-point lead over Trump-Pence among likely voters. But counting Trump out would be a terrible mistake, especially since this is a race that will be won or lost in swing states, including Pennsylvania.

As loud as I am on this blog, that's how quiet I am when I visit my local diner. I keep my ears open, and my impression is that many of both the patrons and servers support Trump. I am beginning to see the home-made signs again, but something really amazed me when I started my long bike ride on Saturday.

On the Lehigh River, there was a flotilla of at least ten rubber rafts making its way downstream. On one of these rafts was a gigantic Trump-Pence flag.

At this point, I think Trump still has a good chance of winning.

Should Ce Ce Gerlach Stop Going Door to Door?

Last week, I told you that Ce-Ce Gerlach, a putative Mayoral candidate, has already been been going door-to-door in Allentown. She's dropping off cards and mail-in ballot applications if no one is at home. One question I failed to consider is whether anyone, in the middle of a pandemic, should be doing this.

This is actually a pretty stupid thing to do. If she is infected with SARS-CoV-2, she could be a super spreader of the virus. This is why most campaigns have stopped canvassing. In electoral politics, the most effective tool is personal contact. But sadly, this is also the best way to transmit a highly infectious respiratory virus. There are way to reach voters without infecting them.

James Whitney makes precisely this point in an email to City Council:
We are in the midst of a pandemic, and an economic shut down. Our businesses are suffering, we're struggling to pay our taxes, the bills are piling up. We're all praying every day for an end to this global tragedy, and for our neighbors who are hurting. Allentown City Council continues to hold meetings behind closed doors, not allowing the public to be in the room as they legislate our futures. So it's incredibly shocking and concerning to learn that Allentown City Council member Ce-Ce Gerlach is going out into the community and knocking on doors and handing out literature. This is a blatant violation of Governor Wolf's COVID-19 guidelines. If members of City Council wish to communicate with the public, there are socially distant options they can utilize to do so. In the meantime, they should stop face to face political activity and outreach until Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. To tell the public that they can't come to City Council meetings, or visit City Hall, they can’t engage in door to door sales, and shouldn't gather to worship their creator, and then go out into the community and start knocking on their doors and potentially exposing them to COVID-19 is absolutely absurd, immoral, and flies in the face of not only the Covid-19 guidelines, but also common sense.

Teleworking requirements are being enforced, even for life sustaining businesses. If there is any doubt that this door to door activity is a violation of Covid 19 I strongly suggest that you reach out to the Department of Health for clarification.
Canvassing is core political speech and is protected, but it's still irresponsible in this climate. It does appear to be inconsistent with the latest July 15 mitigation orders issued by both Governor Tom Wolf and Health Sec'y Dr. Rachel Levine. 

Speaking of irresponsible, above is a a compilation of Gerlach videos, which she took herself. It  clearly shows her shouting "Defund the Police!" and actually leading in "Racist-ass cops have got to go!" Whether she participated in "Fuck the Police!" chants is less clear. It appears to me that she was silent during one chant but participated in another at the end of the video. My uncertainty about this is the sole reason I thought only Siegel deserved censure.

You can censure them both at the ballot box.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

My Quest Along D&L Trail Continues

When I was a little boy, I periodically ran away from home. My plan was to become a mountain man for 20 years, after which I'd return with a beard and coonskin caps. I'd get up in the middle of the night, load my rucksack with a few soup cans and visit the homes of two friends who thought this was the greatest idea in the world. But it never happened. One or the other of us was always asleep. The idea of getting away from the world, however, always stayed with me, so long as it's not for too long. This is why I always enjoyed running long distances when I was younger. Now that I'm an old fart, it's why I love long bike rides. Instead of soup cans, I pack lots of water, coffee, cliff bars, a bagel, bananas and lots of bandaids and neosporin for the adventure that lies ahead. And I'm off. That's what I did Saturday in my quest to ride the Delaware and Lehigh Trail from Cementon to White Haven and back in one day. I am now up to 74 miles. It's slightly under the 80-mile ride I had hoped for, but I was distracted by a steam locomotive in Jim Thorpe. I had to ride it.

Tropical Storm Isaias has done a lot of damage to the Delaware and Lehigh Trail, especially between Sand Island and Easton and along the Delaware. But the pristine northern stretch is as beautiful as ever. The heat was much less oppressive than it has been in recent weeks, and lots of people were on both the trail and river.

When I hit Jim Thorpe, people were lined up at the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which was about to depart for a jaunt to Old Penn Haven. That's only about six miles north but is along the trail. The train's iron bell was clanging an imminent departure, with an angry air horn letting out a blast here and there. I had to ride it, and my bike and I were on the train.

Jim Thorpe is formerly known as Mauch Chunk, which in Lenape means Mountain of the Bear. Despite numerous warnings, I've yet to see one along the trail. But I saw one in Jim Thorpe, waiting to board.

I was shocked at the number of people not just riding, but lined up along the route to wave at family and friends. People love those steam locomotives as they chug along the tracks, with dark smoke billowing from the engine. As we rode along, we were regaled with vignettes about different parts of the trail. For example, Glen Onoko Falls is apparently haunted by the Spirit in the Mist, an Indian princess.

At Old Penn Haven, my bike and I got off the train, and I continued my trip north. And uphill. According to my trusty Apple Watch, the elevation gain was only 512 feet during my entire trip. It's still noticeable. The nice thing is that what goes up must go down. So the ride back is downhill.

I usually get banged up when I ride over one of the two narrow wooden bridges between Jim Thorpe and Weissport. I'm too proud to dismount and walk it. This time, I managed to rip one of my toe clips away from my pedal, and need to fix it. For most of you, this is a minor repair. For me, this is a monumental undertaking. Mountain men don't usually do repairs.

At Rockport, there is a breathtaking waterfall that the kids really enjoyed.

This alone made the ride worth it.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

RIP Robert Trump

Those who read this blog know I am highly critical of Donald Trump. I am nonetheless sorry to hear he unexpectedly lost his brother Robert.

Friday, August 14, 2020

NorCo Mails $4 M in Grants to 396 Small Businesses

NorCo has just mailed $4 million in grants to 396 small businesses negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Most are for $15,000. These were awarded on a first come, first served basis. As a result, some worthy businesses who applied late were left out. Executive Lamont McClure is hopeful that he might be able to open up a second round of funding with left over funds from the $27.6 million in CARES money provided to the county. These cash awards were approved unanimously by NorCo Council on August 7.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economy” said McClure. “They provide jobs and deliver needed services to our residents. These SBA loans will help them survive and thrive during this difficult time.”

The Greater LV Chamber of Commerce did an excellent job of making this grant known, even to the point of knocking on doors.

The businesses that have been given a hand up are listed below:

NorCo Small Business Grants by BernieOHare on Scribd

Lehigh County to Distribute $33.3 M in CARES Act Funds

Blogger's Note: Lehigh County, larger than NorCo, receives slightly more money in CARES Act funding, but is poised to distribute it pretty much exactly the same way NorCo did. 

Lehigh County, PA- Effective Friday, August 14, 2020, the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners voted to create funding streams to provide relief for non-profits, tourism, regional entities and educational and workforce entities.  This is in addition to a fund already established to provide emergency aid for small businesses. 

In order to maximize transparency, the county has enlisted the help of community partners to promote the grant programs as well as receive, organize and help process the applications.  United Way of the Lehigh Valley will assist with the non-profit fund, Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board will assist with the education/workforce broadband fund and Discover Lehigh Valley will assist with the tourism and regional fund. 

The source of funds for these programs is the Lehigh County COVID-19 Block Grant.  Applications for relief from these grant funds must directly correlate with COVID-19 expenses. All related expenses can be charged from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020. All COVID-19 grant funds MUST be spent by December 30, 2020.

Applications will be processed by the corresponding community organization as noted above.  They will be reviewed by primary committees and submitted to the County Executive who will then make recommendations to the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. 

These programs as well as the small business program is authorized under the Lehigh County COVID-19 Block Grant of $33.3 Million received under the CARES Act.

  • $8 Million for county/municipal government COVID response offset
  • $5 Million for Small Business Grant Pool
  • $6 Million for drug, alcohol, behavioral health and Human Services
  • $5 Million for non-profit and community entities
  • $5 Million for regional co-operation and tourism
  • $4 Million for Broadband, Education and Workforce assistance

Applications for all Lehigh County COVID-19 Relief grant programs can be found on the Lehigh County website at lehighcounty.org .

LC Exec Phil Armstrong: The Tommy Shanks of the LV

Although I make forays into other areas of the Lehigh Valley from time to time, this blog focuses most on Northampton County government. I've followed it closely for decades, long before I started blogging. All too often, I neglect writing about Lehigh County, which is quite similar in form to NorCo. It's headed by Lehigh County Exec Phil Armstrong, with a nine-member Board of Commissioners that appears to be as goofy as our County Council.

Some of you think I'm too biased in favor of NorCo Exec Lamont McClure. He gets mostly good coverage for two reasons. He is transparent and accountable. In fact, I have an easier time talking to him than many department heads.  So is Armstrong. He actually does little shows every week that I love to watch. I thought they were only on Facebook, but discovered this week they're on Youtube, too. Above you can see his latest update.

I love these little events. On his desk, you see a mug or something entitled "best Grandpa ever." I'm sure he is. And that's the style he brings. McClure can be formal and somewhat lawyerly, which should be no surprise because he is one. Armstrong, however, is your grandfather.

He's very hokie, but it really suits him. In his latest update, he explains that the DA's office and PD's office have different budgets because they are different departments with different needs.

He also addresses mail-in voting. "If you registered for a mail-in ballot in the primary, and checked that box that says you want to get a mail-in, you will get a mail-in ballot. Now the date is October 27, but you really wanna' think October 10 is when you wanna get that mail-in ballot in the mail to make sure we get it here in time. "

Armstrong said he's asked for new positions in his upcoming budget to handle the increased burden on the Voter Registration office. He's also ordered "new machines."

"The Governor has said he's gonna' pay the 50 cent stamp, and that's very, very nice, but with all these ballots coming in, we need extra people to do the work and we're working on it to make sure your ballot will be counted, and will be counted on time. So not for you to stay up at night worrying. And what we have researched is 0.006% fraud in mail-in ballots. So I don't want anybody to worry about that. That is such a low, low, low number."

He closes by saying, "We're open for business. Stop in if you need us."

I'm told he sings, too.

When I watch Phil, I am reminded of Mayor Tommy Shanks on SCTV:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Allentown City Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution Aimed at Helping Police

Last night, unanimously, Allentown City Council adopted a relatively bland resolution aimed at helping its police department improve. There are no calls to defund a department that is already short-handed, but the measure agrees to explore formation of a citizens' advisory board, among other things.

Ed Zucal was the first to comment, lamenting a "demoralizing  lack of support [for the police] from Council members [and the] Mayor." He noted 23 officers are set to retire. "Unless you want a City that is going to be in complete chaos, you better start supporting the police," he warned.

That got Mayor Ray O'Connell's Irish up, especially after Zucal told him, "You've made no statement for or against the police." O'Connell countered that public safety was his top priority when he ran in 2017 and 2019.

"I talk the officers every day." he said as he wagged a finger at Zucal. "I support the Allentown Police Department and I support the officers. And you know what? If they do a great job, I'm there. And if they don't do a great job, we have fired people under my watch. ...  You don't have to make public statements all the time and say, 'I support, I support.' You know what my public statement is? My actions. ... They know I support them."

Julio Guridy said there's a wall between some members of the community and police."We need to break that wall," he said. "We need to support both the rights of the people to peacefully protest and also support the police." He opposes vandalism, and said he experienced some vandalism at one of his properties during the night of one of the protests. Ce-Ce Gerlach said it wan't from the protesters, but later admitted some participants have been from Philly and NYC and had to be calmed down. Chief Glenn Granitz said the persons who vandalized Guridy's property have been charged and they were not local protesters.

Guridy said he supports police 100% and believes they should be given "the right tools" to support crime.  He supports the right of people to protest, but does not condone the use of profanities like those hurled by Promise Neighborhoods Hasshan Batts. "I have children, I have grandchildren, and I don't want my children to be listening to - especially from people who are leaders, saying the F word out there, publicly."

Josh Siegel, who considers himself the smartest person in the room, said everyone should be more "nuanced" and avoid words like "chaos." Really? Last week, Siegel was attempting to justify "Fuck the Police" as a cultural reference.

Chief Glenn Granitz, who has had to put up with more bullshit than anyone in Allentown, said, "I will continue to work with everyone and anyone." He told Siegel and Gerlach that they both have complained, and rightly, of mischaracterizations and overgeneralizations. He encouraged them "not to do the same thing when it comes to City of Allentown employees and police officers ... because there [have] been rushes to judgment." He also pointed out that Siegel, as a county employee, should know that many of the social services agencies have been MIA during the pandemic, leaving their work to the police. "You know there's no other support or help there," he said to Gerlach, as someone who is constantly running for something or promoting some cause. He asked this duo to give police "the same respect that I try to give everyone. I think we owe that to everybody."

Enid Santiago Now Wants Election She Lost Decertified

State House candidate Enid Santiago lost her bid to unseat incumbent Pete Schweyer in the June 2 primary by a mere 55 votes. On election day, she was quite upset when she discovered an election judge who was darkening ballots so they could be read by a scanner. In another precinct, the election judge got off to a late start because of unfamiliarity with the equipment. At yet a third polling place, pollworkers mistakenly used the wrong provisional ballot. She ranted on Facebook and held press conferences, but failed to complain where it mattered most - she never requested a recount or recanvass. Results were officially certified on June 22. The Elections Board did agree, on July 29, to refer her complaints about an election judge to the District Attorney and Attorney General. Though the election is final, she's now claiming the results must be decertified.

Good luck with that.

This "formal request" comes from JustLaws (no office address) Steve Masters. He contends that the number of voters reported in Lehigh County's canvass (4339) is less than the number of voters reported by the Department of State (4440). He goes on to note that, in two precincts, there were actually 29 more voters than the state reported. Because of this discrepancy, he immediately claims there is fraud and demands the results be decertified.

His argument has several flaws.

The biggest of these is that he has no direct evidence of fraud. None

In addition, he is relying on Vote Builder, a Democratic tool, and not the Department of State.

Third, he asserts that the Elections Board has already found fraud. That's untrue. It has instead referred the matter to prosecutors, and it is up to them to make that determination, and only with respect to one election judge.

Fourth, he cites a 29 vote difference. In one precinct with two extras voters, they are likely voters who cast no vote in that specific race. This is common and is called an undervote. In the precinct with a 27 vote differential, those are Republicans.

Stevens' four-page demand is frivolous. His letter copies his client but there's no indication he bothered to notify Schweyer, the candidate who actually won. Talk about fairness.

Updated 8:10 am: Blogger Chris Casey has also weighed in with more detail. .

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Allentown's Rabid Pit Bull Located, in Quarantine

The City of Allentown reports that a pit pull bitten by a rabid skunk has been located and is in quarantine.

Pro-Trump Tricia Mezzacappa Brandished Knife at BLM Protesters in Emmaus

Last week, I took self-proclaimed visionary Joshua Siegel and Hasshan "F--- the police" Batts to task for their irresponsible and childish behavior during recent protests. They hurt, instead of helped, a movement to finally address systemic racism following the murder of George Floyd.  But they are by no means alone. Unfortunately, there is a small but determined group whose behavior is so disgusting they make Siegel and Batts look like choirboys. I refer to a Facebook group called Pro Trump Flag Rallies for Lehigh and Northampton County. One of their biggest idiots is criminal defendant Tricia Mezzacappa, who is well-known to this blog. At an August 1 rally in Emmaus by a group of high school and college students in support of black lives, she and a motley crew of armed counter-protesters disrupted the event. Though her pea-shooter has been taken away, Mezzacappa armed herself with a big-ass chrome colored knife and brandished it at high school kids.

What a nice person!

Organizers of the Black Lives Matter protest were so upset at being accosted by armed and Confederate flag-waving morons that they started an online petition calling for the ouster of Emmaus Police Chief Charles Palmer. They were unaware that Palmer had made sure in advance to insert some plainclothes officers at this event to prevent violence.

According to that petition, "At one point, a woman pulled out a knife and threatened one of our protesters repeatedly."

That woman is Mezzacappa.

No charges were filed against Mezzacappa after that incident, but she faces false report charges filed by Pennsylvania State Police. She told them that she shot at a black man who had pulled a gun on her. Police believe she lied to them in an obvious attempt to frame a black man. Her trial, which has been delayed as a result of the pandemic, is currently set for September 1.

Ce-Ce Gerlach Running For Mayor?

At last week's Allentown City Council meeting, member Ce-Ce Gerlach invited both other members of Council and even the public to reach out to her. I did. I have yet to hear back from her or her fellow traveler Enid Santiago. They display the same transparency that Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski did. None. But then again, I'm unable to vote for her.

Over the weekend, Gerlach was making the rounds in Allentown's west end. She dropped off a nice little note with her phone, her Allentown City Council card and applications for mail-in ballots.

Gerlach is trying to drive up turnout,. which is a good thing. But she's also attempting to increase her own name recognition. Why would she be doing this? According to several sources, it's because she plans to run for Mayor.

She's got time, too. According to her Facebook page, she worked (past tense) with a mental health provider. Aside from her gig on City Council, my guess is she's unemployed.

She has no administrative experience, and I have to wonder what makes her think she has the ability to balance a $110 million budget with 800 employees.