Monday, November 30, 2020

We Should Be Tracking More Than Just New Covid Cases

We keep daily track of the number of new Covid-19 cases that are exploding throughout this country. In Northampton County, 236 new cases were reported on November 28. If most families ignored the  admonitions about large family gatherings on Thanksgiving, as I suspect, you can expect another spike in a few days. I understand the importance of tracking this pandemic, but we are doing a shitty job of tracking similar problems - drug overdoses and suicide - that go hand-in-hand. 

In Philly, there's been a spike in overdose deaths among restaurant workers, many of whom are laid off as a result of the pandemic. But how big is this problem throughout the state and country? No one really has current data.

The same problem exists with suicide. Japan, one of the countries that has had an excellent response to Covid-19, is one of the few countries that track suicides. It reports 2,153 deaths by suicide in October. That one month tally exceeds all the deaths caused by Covid-19 in that nation. It is believed these suicides are mostly from people who have lost their jobs as a result of what has happened. 

Unfortunately, the latest suicide figures in the US are from 2018. 

We should be tracking both Covid-19 and the drug overdose deaths and suicides caused by the corresponding economic downturn.  

Moving Into New Underground Lair

As a result of frequent death threats, most of which come from my friends, my security staff has recommended that I move my estate to a new secret underground lair. I have been slowly but surely moving over the past few weeks. Though I am under strict orders to keep my new location a secret, I'll still be somewhere in Nazareth. 

I mention this because I will be offline for a few hours as wires are extended through a few bombproof tunnels and caverns.   

I consider myself a minimalist, but am amazed at how much garbage I've accumulated 

NorCo Council to Go Zoom Again

Despite recently agreeing to buy 10 robots, technology has never been NorCo Council's strong suit. Tara Zrinski is great with a bullhorn outside a Bethlehem post office, but still regularly fails to use her microphone at Council meetings. They all seem technically challenged. But we're all in for a treat. They're going back to Zoom meetings again. 

According to an email from Council's Deputy Clerk, they will start zooming again this week. Though no reason is given, this is presumably the result of rising number of Covid cases.

Frankly, no meeting conducted by Council Prez Ron Heckman can in any way be called zoom. It's more like a snail. 

If you want to participate in the Zoom doom, you'll have to check the Council webpage for the not-so-secret password. 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Mezzacappa Facing Trial ... Again

West Easton Borough Constable Tricia Mezzacappa is scheduled to face a jury on Tuesday on charges that she lied to Pennsylvania State Police in an attempt to frame a black neighbor. She told troopers she had been forced to fire at him after he pulled a gun on her. Examination of her firearm, however, revealed it had not been fired. Moreover, none of her neighbors heard a gunshot and police were unable to locate a spent shell or bullet. 

Mezzacappa was previously scheduled to face the music in October, but failed to appear. President Judge Michael J Koury, Jr. issued a bench warrant, and Mezzacappa was picked up at or near Lehigh Valley Mall. After a night in the hoosegow, Judge Paula Roscioli released her on $1000 bail, conditioned on posting $100. Attorney Joseph P Maher, who currently is on sabbatical from the legal profession, posted bail for her at the request of a mutual friend.

Mezzacappa had been represented by prominent defense lawyer John Waldron, but Judge Steven Baratta granted Waldron's motion to withdraw after a hearing in which he stated there were "irreconcilable differences" with her. Mezzacappa was outside the courtroom during this hearing, but for some reason never came in to be heard. 

After this, Mezzacappa applied for a public defender, but was rejected on October 28. So she filed a motion asking Judge Baratta to appoint a lawyer for her. 

He declined, at least for now. "We cannot entertain [Mezzacappa's] motion to require the taxpayers of Northampton County to provide court funded counsel without any indicia that [she] qualifies for a taxpayer funded counsel, or, in the alternative, that there are factors at play which suggest that the interests of justice requires such an appointment."

At this point, Mezzacappa can be charged with failure to appear, a second degree misdemeanor, in addition to false reports.  

I doubt the court will permit her to go to trial without a lawyer. She probably belongs in a mental health treatment court, but that would require her to admit she has a problem. She instead seems to think everyone else is the problem. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving For Most, Mourning For Others

Today is Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays. This has nothing to do with giving thanks or seeing family. It has everything to do with food. It's the one day of the year I can eat like a glutton with no guilt. But this year's Thanksgiving meal will be relatively modest. I passed up a few invitations because I have no desire to pass my germs on to anyone else. I'm spending it instead with my favorite person - me.

Today is also National Day of Mourning for native Americans. This originated in 1970 when former pilgrims wanted to commemorate their arrival and asked a native American to deliver a speech. They refused to let him give it when they saw an advance copy, So he started his own day of mourning. Here's his speech.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Trump Might Attend Pa. Senate GOP Hearing Hosting Giuliani

The Pa. Senate Majority Policy Committee (GOP) plans to conduct a hearing in Gettysburg today for the purpose of exposing "irregularities" in the Presidential election. According to both CNN and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rudy Giuliani will be there to continue spewing claims of fraud, something he failed to do in court. Both news sources report he might be joined by President Donald Trump. This hearing will be conducted at a hotel in Gettysburg, not the state capital.  

NorCo: Biden Beat Trump, but GOP Had Higher Turnout Percentage

In Northampton County's 2016 Presidential contest, voter turnout was a record 70%. This year we broke that record when 75.68% of the county's registered voters cast a ballot, either in person or by mail.  We all know that Joe Biden won, but Republicans did a better job of showing up.

Going into the election, there were 102,478 registered Democrats and 81,400 registered Republicans. Of the Democrats, 76,856 voted. That's a 75% turnout. Of the Republicans, 65,440 voted. That's 80.4%. 

There may be fewer of them, but Republicans will crawl over broken glass to cast their vote. 

Biden won the county with 85,087 votes. Assuming that every Democrat voted for him, which we know is not so, this means he picked about 9,000 votes from Republicans and independents.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

It's Official! Biden Wins NorCo By 1,233

Northampton County's Elections Commission has certified the November 3 Presidential election, handing Joe Biden a 1,233-vote victory in a county that Trump won four years ago. The Board consists of Republicans Maudenia Hornick and Frank L DeVito, as well as Democrats Dr. Alan Brau, Daniel Lopresti and Gail W Preuninger. Maude Hornick, chair of the Commission, is the sole member who refused to certify. She is the sister of county GOP boss Gloria Lee Snover.

NorCo certified its results in the afternoon. Earlier that day, Lehigh County also certified its results. According to The Morning Call, Lehigh's vote was unanimous. 

Having participated as a pollworker in numerous elections over too many years, I've never seen an error-free election. This one looked like trouble. In addition to numerous significant and very recent changes to the Elections Code, this Presidential election had a record  75.68% turnout. To make matters even more interesting, it was conducted in the middle of a pandemic and with poll watchers glaring at us, looking for problems. Yet it is the best and most error-free election I've ever worked. I attribute this to the excellent training provided by the elections staff, a point I made at the hearing.

GOP Chair Snover and Elections Chair Hornick disagree, and both used the word "chaotic" to describe the election. In addition, one of their poll watchers claimed she had been "intimidated" by pollworkers at a precinct in South Bethlehem. She never called the elections office.

Snover listed a litany of complaints from Republicans unable to vote by mail and even said several were unable to vote because someone had already done so, using their name. 

While it's always disturbing to hear that any voter has been disenfranchised, bare allegations are an insufficient basis for setting aside valid votes under the Voting Rights Act. 

Seated next to Snover was her husband, Michael Snover. He sued (and lost) when elections officials released the names and addresses of voters whose ballots had been rejected. If the Snovers truly believed that mischief was afoot, as Lee contended in a recent radio broadcast, they could have sued to stop certification. They never did. So it's difficult to give much credence to her anecdotes.

I suspect she's looking for excuses to justify how Trump lost a county he won four years ago. This might be because people were turned off by Snover's decision to conduct counter-protests when children protested the killing of George Floyd. It could be that some were incensed by her decision to invite accused felons to participate at a superspreader in Lower Saucon Tp.  But mostly, I think it's because the people of Northampton County know Trump much better now than they did four years ago.

The Snovers complain of a "chaotic" election day. America has experienced a "chaotic" four years with Trump at the helm. His failure to deal with Covid-19, the only crisis not of his own making, showed him for what he is.    

Snover also complained about the Express Vote XL voting machines, a system she herself once embraced. She ticked off a list of breakdowns at numerous precincts, adding that some were down the entire day. When asked about this complaint, Voter Registrar Amy Cozze noted she had technicians with extra machines on the road to replace any machine that malfunctioned. But she had no breakdowns.

"It's just not true," Cozze said of Snover's complaint. 

Cozze's report was much briefer than the polemics delivered by the Snovers.  "It was a very long and arduous year. I'm glad it's over. That concludes my report."

NorCo, Lehigh U Team Up to Help Small Businesses Recover From Pandemic

Northampton County and Lehigh University's Small Business Development Center are teaming up to provide training for small businesses on how to rebound from the pandemic.  Here's what the programming involves, according to a county news release:

·        High-Performance Teamwork: Communicating and Collaborating for Results
·        Strategic Decision-Making and Leadership in a Crisis
·        Value Creation
·        Creating and Executing Strategy: The Business Model Canvas
·        Building a Resilient Organization: Surviving in an Era of Rapid Change and Disruption

If you'd like to sign up, you can do so here.

The program is free. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Trump's End Game - The Art of the Steal

In the wake of a historic Presidential election in which Joe Biden and Donald Trump attracted an unprecedented 153 million votes, some of you think Trump's strategy is to win the election through legal challenges to some of the problems that are inevitable in every election. That's fine. That's why the courts are there. But Trump has no intention of winning through the courts. His goal has been to undermine voter confidence in the election through claims of widespread fraud, hoping that his supporters will pressure state legislatures into taking matters into their own hands. 

He has certainly succeeded in undermining public confidence. If a Reuters/Ispos poll is to be believed, nearly half of all Republicans believe Biden won a rigged election. This refrain of election fraud has been made by Trump over the past four years, and only intensified with the introduction of mail-in ballots (MIBs) and early voting. 

On Thursday of last week, the self described Trump "strike force legal team" conducted a bizarre 90-minute news conference that assailed a supposed coordinated effort to rig the election.

"It's right here in our back yard," contended GOP party boss Gloria Lee Snover on a local conservative radio show. Her biggest complaint, aside from a few instances in which voters never received a ballot, was that inactive voters were permitted to vote. That's the law. Even an inactive voter may vote until he or she is purged from the rolls. Refusal to allow that would be the very election fraud she decries.

On Facebook, Snover disingenuously complains, "Has anyone noticed BIDEN only takes the lead overnight in a state when no one's watching? Where are they getting all these ballots? Bigger than Obama!!!"

Snover knows very well that Trump voters were instructed to avoid MIBs and vote in person. So of course he would be in the lead before MIBs were tallied. She also knows and had a small army present at the polls and for the canvass. I had three in my precinct alone, and had to remind them several times to put their masks on. They were watching, even objecting when I let a young girl go behind the voting curtain with her father.  

Snover has even spread a completely discredited story that a Philly mob boss manufactured 300,000 Biden ballots and transported them to the Philly convention center .Review of her Parler account reveals she has even bought into the QAnon nonsense that high level Dems are involved in pedophilia and devil worship. 

As nutty as Snover has become, Trump's "strike force legal team" is even worse. Rudy Giuliani follows up a botched court appearance in Williamsport with that 90-minute melt-down. As hair-dye or bullshit (take your pick) streamed down both sides of his face, he claimed a control center somewhere was directing this fraud. 

Believe it or not, his nuttiness is topped by Sidney Powell. She (yes, Sidney is a she) claimed that Dominion Voting machines were part of the conspiracy in Pa. Never mind that their machines are only in 14 counties, or that Trump actually won those counties. Never mind that the paper ballot back-ups would expose any hanky panky with the machines.

She claimed Hillary Clinton used Dominion to beat Bernie Sanders, then bought him off with a nice house. Republicans loved these absurd claims when directed at Democrats. Unfortunately for Powell, she went too far. She also claimed that Georgia's Republican Governor was in on the vote fixing, and paid a bribe. Accusing Dems of corruption is fine, but she slammed a Trump ally. 

She has promised a lawsuit of "biblical proportions." I suspect that will happen, but she'll be the Defendant. 

She's no longer a member of the elite strike force legal team. 

Maybe she's a ninja. 

All of this nonsense will get nowhere in court. A federal complaint in Pennsylvania has been rejected "with prejudice," and the very limited appeal only seeks permission to file yet another amended complaint.  

Thius baseless litigation has nevertheless raised doubts in the minds of Republicans. They have been conditioned to regard anything they disagree with as "fake news."  

The hope here is that these Republicans pressure state legislatures to ignore the vote certifications occurring today, and choose their own electors for the Electoral College. According to federal law, "Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct."

If Trump can  sway a few state legislatures in battleground states, he wins. He has made inroads in Michigan. I think this unlikely, but possible. 

If that does happen, our problems will just be beginning. 

10:15 am Update: National Review Debunks False Elections Claims. - The National Review is a conservative publication, but its first responsibility is to the truth. In its Morning Jolt, it effectively debunks a number of the more recent false claims made about the Presidential election.

More Pandemic Suggestions

On Thursday, I told you Northampton County Council would consider $1.3 million in grants to small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic. This would be in addition to $8.779 million already awarded to 673 businesses throughout the county. As expected, the measure passed 8-0 (Peg Ferraro was absent). If you have a small business in Northampton County, you can apply here. This is first come, first served. Do not delay.

On Friday, Executive Lamont McClure conducted a zoom meeting with Greater LV Chamber of Commerce Prez Tony Iannelli. He was joined by John Hayes, who chairs the Board. McClure asked them what we as citizens can do to help small business and the folks on those front lines.  

I had previously suggested occasional tipping cashiers at grocery stores. You'd have to do that on the sly because a former Giant grocery clerk informed us that she could get fired for taking a tip.  

Tony Iannelli and Hayes had their own ideas. 

Buy local, was Tony's biggest suggestion. Hayes added that if you do go out to eat, give the server a hefty tip because they are suffering. Hayes also suggested dropping Amazon. 

One of my readers suggested using grub hub for take out. 

If you have an idea, please feel free to share. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Conservative Jurist Rejects Trump Pa Suit "With Prejudice"

In a blistering 37-page opinion, conservative jurist Matthew Brann has rejected Donald Trump's attempt to put the brakes on the Pennsylvania presidential election certification process. His ruling is "with prejudice," meaning that Trump is unable to refile. Trump's only option in court is an appeal. 

"Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters. This Court has been unable to find any case in which a plaintiff has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election, in terms of the sheer volume of votes asked to be invalidated. One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.

"That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence. In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state. Our people, laws, and institutions demand more. At bottom, Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Therefore, I grant Defendants’ motions and dismiss Plaintiffs’ action with prejudice."

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is calling on Trump to "accept the outcome of the election and facilitate the presidential transition process.” His failure to do so thus far has endangered our national security and hampered this country's ability to deal with the Covid-19 crisis. But Trump cares only about Trump. 

I'll tell you his end game tomorrow. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

The Conspiracy Circus

I was incredibly disturbed yesterday by a news conference featuring the legal team spouting assorted conspiracy theories in an effort to thwart an election that Donald Trump lost.

As Rudy Giuliani's hair dye streamed down the side of his face, Jenna Ellis proclaimed that she is part of an "elite strike force legal team" giving its opening statement.

The place to make an opening statement is in a courtroom, not a news conference. The elite strike force legal team has pretty much failed when called on to make an actual case. 

Giulani asserts a pattern of switching votes, especially in Democratic cities. It might have escaped his notice that Democratic cities tend to vote Democratic.

Sydney Powell defamed both Dominion and Smartmatic, alleging with zero evidence a conspiracy to reverse votes. 

Jenna Ellis said this is case, not of voter fraud, but election official fraud, from the local level on up.

As a local election official myself, I am outraged at her baseless claim.  I refuse to lend any credence to their nonsense, which extends from Philly mob bosses to Hugo Chavez to even the poor Germans. 

I refuse to publish comments that participate in this circus. 
 

Rise of the Robots in Norco

Last night's meeting of Northampton County Council was mercifully brief. As expected, they agreed to the purchase of 10 robots who will emit death rays to kill Covid-19, flu and MRSA and other viruses.  Although I originally thought this was a great idea, I am now concerned about the rise of the robots in NorCo. Below is a comment I received from one of them yesterday. It's name is R2D2 WD40 OU812.

Ten is a solid number for a bargaining unit. I plan to discuss this with the augmented reality simulation that is Steve Barron. We plan to organize immediately. The cyborg McClure and the collective hologram that is council will be incapable of opposing us. Who do you think keeps screwing with their virtual meetings? Who do you think turned Dean Browning into a black homosexual? You've been warned. It's our game now.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Exterminate! Exterminate! NorCo Buying 10 Covid-Killing Robots

Dr. Who would be impressed. 

If County Council agrees, Northampton County will be purchasing 10  Covid-19 killing robots to be used when cleaning the building. Apparently, it shoots UV death-rays that kill Covid-19, MERSA and even the flu. The robot must be by itself when inside a room or it just might exterminate humans as well. 

Each machine costs $55,000 and there's a three-year $30,000 maintenance contract. Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron said the County will pay less because it's buying in bulk. 

Above you can see one of the robots in action. He told me he intends to run for Exec next year. 

NorCo Poised To Award Another $1.3 Million in Small Business Grants

I criticize Northampton County all the time. It's what I do, and I do it well. At times, I'm completely full of shit. But now and then, like a broken clock, I'm right. Since I started blogging in 2006, I've managed to piss off every county executive, every Council member, many of the judges, deputy sheriffs, corrections officers, caseworkers, nurses, IT, row office workers and even the frickin' tipstaffs. I'm so nasty I even pick on the Coroner, who's always eyeing me up with a knowing leer. Unfortunately, this is one of thjose rare posts in which I have to commend Northampton County. It has done an outstanding job assisting small businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, and it intends to continue. 

All counties have been awarded money for distribution under the federal CARES Act. Northampton County received about $27.6 million, with instructions to spend it as soon as it can. That money does no one any good sitting in a county bank account. 

Lehigh County, which is slightly larger than NorCo, received slightly more money. It is spending its money much the same way that NorCo is, but for some reason, at a much slower place.

Like Northampton County, Lehigh is handing out small business grants. Like NorCo, Lehigh is relying on the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce to market these grants. But for reasons that escape me, Lehigh County has moved much more slowly in getting the money out the door to where it is needed. It is my understanding that grant awards to small businesses are only being disbursed now. 

In the meantime, Northampton County has already conducted three rounds of grants to small businesses. It has awarded $8.779 million to 673 county-owned small businesses, most of them at $15,000.  

The County still has some CARES Act money in its coffers, so guess what? If County Council agrees, it's about to conduct a fourth round of funding for small business with $1.3 million. 

To qualify, the business must be (1) located in Northampton County, (2) have fewer than 100 employees and (3) missed out on the previous awards. According to the county, "The grants can be used for rent, payroll and other operating expenses. Priority will be given to small retail shops, restaurants and community staples operating on a main street or in a traditional neighborhood and minority-owned businesses. The maximum grant amount is $15,000 per business."

If you'd like to apply, you can do so here

I know several businesses who have applied, and they've all succeeded. 

This program will also be discussed at a Zoom meeting with Executive Lamont McClure on Friday at 9 am. If you'd like to attend, here are the details:

https://zoom.us/j/95493415141?pwd=ZWlsdytkMDhTYWwvV2ZQVlhmOUlJZz09

Meeting ID: 954 9341 5141 and Passcode: 3vbawx

NorCo Elections Comm'n Finishes Review of Challenged Ballots

After three days of hearings, Northampton County's Elections Commission finished its review of 480 challenged ballots yesterday. It will meet again on Monday and vote on certifying the results. That is the county deadline for certifying results to the state. Certification by the state would be delayed only if 100 or more voters petition a state court by November 23 and allege that the election was illegally conducted.

Northampton County's Elections Commission is comprised of five members. They belong to the two parties with the highest number of votes in the most recent general election. The Republican members are  Maudenia Hornick and Frank L DeVito. Hornick, who happens to sister to county GOP boss Lee Snover, is the Chair. 

The Democratic contingent consists of Dr. Alan Brau, Daniel Lopresti and Gail W Preuninger. Dr. Brau is a physician and is undoubtedly deluged with Covid-19 cases. He was understandably unavailable, but all other members were present at yesterday's hearing, conducted in the courthouse cafeteria as the sun descended and darkness fell.

Attorney Rick Santee is certainly one of the Lehigh Valley's top litigators. He would be proud of his namesake and son, who has done an outstanding job providing legal assistance to the Commission in uncharted waters among two recent changes to state election law.  Ricky, as they called him, kept a lid on the fiery debates that sometimes erupted. 

Attorney Michael Snover, husband of GOP boss Lee Snover and brother-in-law of the Elections Chair, represented Republicans. He and his wife are largely responsible for the 480 challenges. He started things off by droning on for about 15 minutes about issues that are being decided at a higher level.   

Attorney Gary Asteak, who now is as much at ease behind the wheels of a tractor as he is in a courtroom, represented Democrats. He made clear that his party challenged no ballots, even GOP ballots that appeared to be facially defective. "We did not raise spurious arguments like the Republicans did," he noted. "We wanted every vote to count."     

Asteak was at times incensed at challenges brought against persons of color or with Spanish-sounding names, while Republican precincts went untouched. "We'd probably have to rent Cottingham Stadium to hear all the people you want to get rid of," he responded when Snover complained about inactive voters who still are registered and thus were able to vote. 

The Elections Commission pretty much took the same approach that was followed in Lehigh, where there was no rancor or binoculars. If a mistake on a ballot was the fault of an elections official, it was not held against the voter. If, however, a voter failed to sign his ballot twice, his vote was rejected. 

Gail Prueninger made an eloquent argument in favor of accepting a ballot so long as it was signed once, but it failed to sway her colleagues. 

Amazingly, Republicans even challenged the validity of some signatures, though they had no experts on hand. 

On Facebook, Lee Snover has implied that chicanery occurred during the count. On Parler, the new GOP social media platform, she has even passed along a story suggesting that Philly mob bosses threw the election to Biden, But her husband failed to produce any evidence of fraud or even improper conduct. The facts were against him. The law was against him. So what he did do was abuse his opponent. He attacked Voting Registrar Amy Cozze. Rick Santee stopped him. 

Just as the voters stopped Trump.   

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Pa. Supremes Take Over Five Election Cases on One Issue

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has exercised "extraordinary jurisdiction" over five cases pending in the Commonwealth Court, limited to this question: "Does the Election Code require county boards of elections to disqualify mail-in or absentee ballots submitted by qualified electors who signed their ballot’s outer envelopes but did not handwrite their name, their address, and/or a date, where no fraud or irregularity has been alleged?"

Pandemic Suggestions

Of course the best thing we can do is nothing. I'm quite good at that. An unsung hero, you might say. But when we do venture forth for toilet paper and other vital supplies, we are invariably shamed at checkout to donate a few cents or even a dollar to feed the hungry. This enables the grocery chain to take a nice tax write-off with our money. I have a better idea. 

The people who work at checkout are on the front lines. They are exposed daily and most of them get no extra money. Only a handful get benefits from these grocers who want us to feed the hungry. Most remain cheerful and do a pretty good job at wiping down the machines we use. So from time to time, I slip them $1 to let them know I appreciate them. More often, I have no money to spare. But I make sure I thank them.

That costs nothing. 

Do you have any suggestions?

Naked Ballots Cost Biden About 1,000 Votes in Lehigh Valley

Celebs like Sarah Silverman
went naked for us. 
Though the matter is moot,* Pennsylvania's Supreme Court yesterday still went ahead and killed a challenge by Philly election observers. They had complained, perhaps properly, that they were unable to see the canvassing. Whatever the facts, the matter was over. There was no real need for a ruling. The Court's decision to inject itself into a matter that had essentially been resolved (majority opinion by Justice Debra Todd) is precisely what you might expect from a bench controlled by Democrats. But before you break out the torches and pitchforks and scream about activist judges, I need to remind you that this same Democratic Supreme Court ruled in September that mail-in ballots (MIBs) must be rejected unless placed inside a secrecy envelope.** This decision has disenfranchised thousands of mail-in voters. Since the lion's share of MIBs were from Democrats, this hurt them most. 

In Northampton County, only 329*** of 73,815 MIBs were rejected because the voter failed to use a secrecy envelope. That's only 0.44%. This may seem insignificant, but looms largely in a race in which  Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by only 1,115 votes. 

In Lehigh County, the situation is much different. Democratic attorney canvass observers were Steve Zakos and Drummond Taylor. They worked well with GOP attorneys Blake Marles, Bob Rust and Ed White.  The two sides were class acts  who pretty much agreed on what was and was not acceptable. There was no need for frivolous litigation like that pursued by Mike "Binoculars" Snover in NorCo.

Unfortunately, and this is the bad news, there were also about 1,200 naked ballots among approximately 77,500 MIBs. This is about 1.5%

Since Biden was getting at least 70% of these MIBs, this cost him about 1,000 votes in the Lehigh Valley.  

Statewide, I'm sure it's much more. 

_____________________________________

* This was the opinion expressed by both Chief Justice Thomas Saylor and Justice Sallie Mundy.

** This ruling is based on express language in the Election Code providing that a mail-in elector " “shall . . . enclose and securely seal the [ballot] in the envelope on which is printed, stamped or endorsed ‘Official Election Ballot,’”

*** This is according to NorCo Voting Registrar Amy Cozze. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Pa.'s Latest Election Results Give Biden 68,904 Vote Lead

Based on the latest (and still unofficial) state results, Democrat Joe Biden leads in the Presidential race with 3,425,190 (49.93%) votes to Donald Trump's 3,356,286 (48.92%). This lead of 68,904 votes includes the tally of 70,587 provisional ballots, with more to come. Review of provisional ballots can be laborious, especially when there are challenges. 

In Lehigh County, Biden soared past Trump with 95,889 votes (53.19%) to the President's 82,287 (45.64%). This 13,602-vote lead will change once provisional ballots are added to the mix. 

In Northampton County, Biden's lead is much smaller. He has 84,847 votes (49.74%) to Trump's 83,732 (49.09%). This 1,115-vote lead includes 1,537 provisional ballots. More of those will be reviewed today and tomorrow, and on Monday, the Elections Board will meet to vote on certification. 

In addition to ten legal actions in state court, a federal action appears to be on life support, and will likely be dismissed this week.   

An Oregon Police Stop


 

NorCo Elections Comm'n Continues Review of Challenged Provisional Ballots

Following a day-long session on Friday, Northampton County's Elections Commission will continue its review of challenged provisional ballots both today and on Wednesday. On Monday, they will vote on certification of the results. 

Republicans filed 480 challenges to Democratic and Republican provisional ballots, including many filed by ethnic minorities and persons of color. Democrats filed none. 

Attorney Gary Asteak, representing the Pa. Democratic Party, said he was astonished at the number of voters who skipped work or called in late to make sure their vote was counted. He was also impressed by elections workers who told the Board they neglected to fill out portions of the ballot envelopes correctly. 

The Board eventually decided that it should not hold voters responsible for mistakes made by pollworkers. But provisional ballots filed by voters who failed to sign the exterior envelope twice,were discounted. 

Republicans even challenged handwriting, although they only succeeded on one of those challenges.  

Asteak was particularly impressed by a voter who moved to Allentown recently. He was still in the grace period in which he should have been able to vote in NorCo. The voter was scheduled in the morning, then told to come back in the afternoon. The Board agreed to accept his ballot. 

He turned to Asteak and said, "Biden 2020!" 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Both Gerlach & Siegel Make Mayoral Runs Official

Allentown City Council members Cecelia ("Ce Ce") Gerlach and Joshua Siegel  made it official over the weekend. On Saturday, Gerlach announced from atop a pickup truck before a small crowd of about 15 people, On Sunday, it was Siegel's turn before an equally small crowd at Bucky Boyle Park.

At Gerlach's announcement, her event started with a rendition of John Legend's "Take it Slow" instead of the national anthem or God Bless America. The scene was decorated with a few blue and white balloons, although there was no indication what they signify. 

Gerlach portrayed herself a a voice for those who are one small step away from financial disaster. She described the majority of Allentown as "beyond one paycheck away. They are one flat tire ,.. one unexpected emergency [away] from losing it all." She said she would seek out corporations who want to hire people with felony records  and who would pay a living wage to boot.

She never said how she'd manage to achieve this lofty goal. 

For his part, Siegel timed the start of what he calls his "historic and transformative campaign" to coincide with his birthday. But  he said it "isn't about me."

He had blue and white balloons at his announcement, too, for some reason. 

Maybe they're running for Mayor of Penn State. 

If you're running for Mayor, Josh, it's about you. I have no idea what he said, but he released a Youtube video that shows him strutting around the downtown in slow motion, posing with hands on hips, giving a dirty look at two patrol cars parked along a street and talking to Patrick Palmer, who incidentally was Ce Ce Gerlach's rally. 

These two candidates have the same base, which is largely made up of transients who never vote. They will almost certainly cancel each other out.

Why Is Covid Getting Worse?

Only 21% of those with Covid are responding to the state DOH about the places they've visited, and that makes it very difficult to establish precisely how they've contracted the virus. What is known is that the original virus has mutated and is both more infectious and airborne than what first afflicted China. I'm going to list a few sources I know and make some educated guesses about why the spread is suddenly so rampant. Feel free to share your own observations.

What I know:    

I know that a Halloween party at one local college led to 34 Covid-19 infections. 

A sorority decorating party at another local college led to a spike and campus-wide lockdown.

What I guess:

1) The November 3 election, which brought lots of people close together, had to result in some infections. The high turnout made it extremely difficult to practice social distancing. Though most voters wore masks, some refused. 

2) Halloween, Most communities had trick-or-treat, and there were numerous parties. 

I know the likelihood of contagion is very small at places that really practice social distancing and enforce mask mandates. I believe there has been just one new case at the courthouse, where masking and social distancing is taken very seriously. I believe that true of most businesses as well. Unfortunately, at some places like my gym, there are customers who remove their mask or wear it around their neck or chin. This does no one any good, but I have no idea whether gyms really are a source of community spread because responses provided to the state are lacking.     

Updated 8:40 am: Interestingly, I've just realized that Wall Street Journal (can't get past paywall) is asking the same question I am. My story focuses on Pa,, while WSJ is international. The big unknown is WHERE Covid is spreading. Is it bars? Parties? Nursing homes? Groceries?   

Ten Lawsuits in State Courts Over Presidential Election

Thus far, 10 separate lawsuits have been filed in Pennsylvania state courts concerning aspects of the presidential election. 

The Supreme Court is considering a case related to the canvassing in Philadelphia. That matter has already gone through the county and Commonwealth Courts.

The Commonwealth Court has rejected Department of State guidance that would allow some voters who filed late ballots to cure defects. It has ordered some ballots segregated. 

Four county courts are considering ballot challenges.

None of the litigation complains of widespread or systemic fraud. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Thode: NorCo Sets Single Day Record For New Covid-19 Cases

Not all that long ago, I was hoping to report to you that either NorCo or Lehigh went just one day without a new Covid-19 case. Unfortunately, as people begin to congregate indoors in colder weather, the pandemic has gone in the opposite direction. It's attacking the Lehigh Valley with a vengeance. Just yesterday, Northampton County set a record for Covid-19 cases in a single day. Lehigh County is on the verge of doing the same thing. 

Steve Thode is a numbers cruncher who has been following the data since the onset. Here's his latest report. 


As you can see, NorCo had a record number of new COVID cases over the past 14 days (1,018) and a new single-day record on Thursday (133). Meanwhile, Lehigh is at near record levels both on the 14-day number (1,412) and the one-day number (202). For the two counties combined, we haven't seen this number of cases since mid-April. That 14-day number for Lehigh (1,412) is more than seven times the governor's data-driven target for Lehigh to be in the "Green" phase (184); for NorCo, the 14-day number (1,018) is slightly less than seven times the governor's data-driven target for NorCo to be in the "Green" phase (152). Yet, "Green" we remain. So much for "science." Oh, maybe the governor is using "political science."

As for statewide deaths, here's the latest weekly data:


COVID continues to kill the elderly (those over 60 account for 92.7% of all deaths to date) while those under 30 have suffered a tiny percentage of deaths (only 0.2% of all deaths to date). These percentages have held quite steady for months.

As of November 6 (the last weekly report from the state), there had been a total of 8,975 deaths from COVID of which 5,903 (65.8%) died in nursing homes.

And today is Friday the 13th. 

I consider myself lucky. On election day, I spent 14 hours inside a crowded school with about 700 people, and am still virus free. Everyone wore masks and tried to social distance. Unfortunately, my machine operator was missing because he discovered that very morning that he had to quarantine himself after being exposed to an infected co-worker. 

I strongly suggest that you download and use the COVID Alert Pa app. It has been downloaded by 450,000 people and will alert you if you've been exposed. If you wish to avoid another business shutdown, this technology can help. 

Trump: I dont wanna go!

Trump Has Lost Before ... to Nat Hyman


Though both Donald Trump and some of his supporters are in denial, most of us recognize that Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States. But it might surprise you to know that the man who claims to be all about winning has gone down in flames before. Nearly two decades ago, Nat Hyman beat Trump at his own game. He sued him and won in a business dispute over Hyman's jewelry kiosks.

"I don't care at this juncture whether he's Donald Trump or Donald Duck. Right is right."

That's what Hyman told The Morning Call at the time. 

Hyman had Trump's number long ago. 

Yesterday, I disclosed some names from the fringes who want to be Allentown's next Mayor. Unfortunately, there will be more.  Wouldn't it make more sense to put someone at the helm who actually knows what he's doing?

Hyman, who is actually from the City and has stayed while so many others have fled, is being courted to bring his no-nonsense business acumen to Allentown. 

If you see Nat, ask him to run. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Is Your NorCo Ballot Being Challenged?

 Republicans have filed 480 challenges to ballots cast in the Presidential contest. If you'd like to know whether your ballot has been challenged, check this list.

The Elections Board will spend the entire day on Friday to review these challenges. 

One registered independent who is traveling and is in Arizona is perplexed that Republicans have challenged his vote, and is attempting to take a flight back.

Incidentally, he voted for Trump. 

A number of East Bangor provisional ballots are under attack because of an error by pollworkers. who never put the ballots in a secrecy envelope. 

Extremists Seek Mayor and Council Seats in Allentown

Ce-Ce Gerlach
Though the dust has yet to settle on last week's Presidential election, it's pretty clear that Pennsylvania voters delivered a sharp rebuke to both President Donald Trump and Governor Tom Wolf. Trump minimized a serious pandemic that has spiraled out of control, while Wolf's draconian business shutdown was driven by politicos, not epidemiologists. Wolf has a pediatrician at the tiller of Pennsylvania's pandemic, while Trump has tapped a neuroradiologist for the coronavirus crisis. Voters are sick of the extremes within both parties. So voters said No to four more years of chaos with Trump, but also rejected Democrats in two of the three state row offices up for grabs. The House Minority leader went down in flames, and Dems may even lose ground in the state House. It is against this backdrop that political extremists have decided to seek office in Allentown. 

Matt Tuerk announced his Mayoral candidacy a month ago, but no one noticed because we were heavily focused on the presidential race. He's promising jobs, just like Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski did when he first ran. Tuerk's campaign manager is Charlie Thiel, whose name was mentioned repeatedly during Fed Ed's trial. I'm sure there will be a job for him ... or a juicy contract.   

Next we've got Joshua Siegel, who likes to call himself a visionary and has called himself "a candidate of conviction." His convictions led him in July to provide Mayor Ray O'Connell's personal cell phone number to an already angry mob. Mayor O'Connell was deluged with numerous calls over a period of several days. He was exposed to potential violence. One unidentified person told him, “I know where you live and I like flames. ”

Siegel has a "comprehensive policy platform unlike any in the City's history." Yeah, it's a regressive increase in sales tax as well a county-wide earned income tax to shovel money into the "creative economy," i.e. the foo-foos. 

He needs to go back to Jersey, where they love taxes. 

But he does have the support of his fellow Northampton County extremist, Tara Zrinski. 

Justan Parker (Fields)
Next up is Ce-Ce Gerlach, who had to delay her announcement because Josh stole her thunder. She has no job and no real familiarity with the Lehigh Valley. She's a DC transplant who voted NO to 11 new police officers (along with Siegel), voted NO to grants for the police (along with Siegel) and earned the wrath of fellow protesters when she Facebook-lived the aftermath of a suicide before the family knew what had happened. 

In addition to these goofs, LV BLM Head Activist Justan "not Justin" Parker has announced he's running for City Council. He's the dude  who organized all kinds of protests in Allentown, and had people pounding on the doors and windows outside City Council while he pranced around with a bullhorn.  

He wants to hold police accountable and defund them, etc.  Except he's not so accountable himself. 

You see, Justan Parker is actually Justan Fields, and is currently being prosecuted for false reports to police. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Former GOP Congressional Candidate Dean Browning Finally Admits He's Black ... and Gay



I'm so proud of former GOP Congressional candidate Dean Browning. He has finally come out and admitted what I've long suspected - he's black ... and gay. Good for him! With a name like Browning, it's little wonder. 


Former LV Congressional candidate Dean Browning tweeted the comment you see yesterday. It sat undisturbed for a few hours, and then the twitterverse exploded. Reporters began calling him, too, some from as far away as England.

Most of the twitterati believe Browning uses sock puppets to buttress the arguments he makes under his own name, and that he forgot to log out of his own name while posting under a fake account. 

Not so, said Browning. He deleted the tweet you see and then posted this explanation: "Regarding the tweet that is going viral from my account — I was quoting a message that I received earlier this week from a follower. Sorry if context was not clear. Trump received record minority votes & record LGBTQ votes. Many people won’t say it vocally, but do in private."

I believed Dean. I teased him a bit, but figured he just forgot to use quotation marks. 

But then he doubled down and tweeted a video from Dan Purdy, a gay black guy who said he sent Dean that message. Dan Purdy's real name is William Holte, a landscaper related in some way to Godmother of Soul Patti LaBelle. Twitter has since suspended this account, probably because it is fake. It seems very convenient. 

So I no longer know what the hell to believe. 

Then I started looking at some of Dean's tweets. I always knew he was conservative, but he's far more extreme than I thought. A review of some of his tweets, gathered at Snopes, is very disturbing.

Browning represents the extreme fringes of the GOP.  I honestly have no idea what happened to the Browning I once knew. 

Blogger's Note: Though I've linked to Dean's extreme tweets, I have removed them because they interfered with my left sidebar. 

Biden Extends NorCo Lead Despite Hundreds of GOP Challenges

All counting done publicly. 
President-Elect Joe Biden extended his lead over Donald Trump in Northampton County yesterday as the counting of provisional ballots finally got underway late in the afternoon. The count was delayed because county Republicans,with Gloria "General Lee" Snover at the helm, lodged hundreds of objections to the approximately 2700 provisional ballots submitted. Democrats objected to none.

Biden now leads Trump by 1,365 votes. He has 84,271 to Trump's 82,906. This is after two batches* of provisional ballots were run late in the day. These were provisional ballots from Bethlehem, where Biden would be expected to lead. The counting of the remaining unchallenged provisional ballots will resume Thursday, and will be completed. 

In addition, 170 ballots that arrived after election day have been segregated from the other ballots. It is highly unlikely these late-arriving ballots will make a difference. 

Republican challenges were somewhere between 300 and 400. Snover provided no explanation for her challenges, which she shouted off as each precinct was reviewed. 

She did so maskless until I raised a challenge of my own ... to her. 

This was not a Trump rally.

As you might have guessed, most of the challenges were in heavily Democratic districts. She had no objections at all in heavily Republican districts like Bushkill Township. She also objected to ballots submitted by people with names like "Trevon," "Amin," "Rashan" or ""Ugochouko."

No bias there. 

Attorney Gary Asteak, representing Democrats, was appalled by the number of challenges. "You are witnessing live voter suppression at its finest," he grumbled, adding that the sole reason for these voluminous objections was to "delay and distract" election officials.

Voter Registrar Amy Cozze will now have to attempt to notify somewhere between 300-400 voters and deliver the news that Republicans are attempting to disenfranchise them. What's worse is they have no idea why. 

The Elections Board will convene Friday at Council Chambers at 9 am to review and rule on the challenges and certify the results. After that, there are two days in which to petition the court for any changes. 

Statewide, Biden now leads Trump by 44,983 votes. He has 3,370.332 (49.76%) to Trump's 3,325,349 (49.09%). This latest tally includes about 17,000 of an estimated 200,000 provisional ballots.In addition, 49,174 mail-in ballots (MIBs) are outstanding. 
______________________________________
* The unofficial results contain the numbers from only the first of these two batches at this time. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Trump Files 6th Lawsuit in Pa Courts Over Election

President Donald Trump's campaign has just filed its sixth lawsuit (you can review the previous five here) challenging the results of the Presidential election. 

This latest volley alleges that Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar as well as Allegheny, Chester, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties’ boards of elections violated numerous election laws to ensure Joe Biden would win. The alleged violations include, among others, denial of poll watcher access to Trump Campaign watchers, mail-in ballot irregularities, cheating by election boards, and allowing some voters to cure their miscast ballots. The complaint claims that these violations of the law deprived legitimate voters of their right to vote by diluting the vote. The court is asked to enjoin the Secretary from certifying the results of the election.

The legal strategy appears to be one of firing an entire quiver of arrows in the vain hope that one finds its target. 

The problem with this scattergun approach is that it begins to be viewed as frivolous.  

You can read the complaint here.

NorCo GOP Drops Appeal Over Disclosure of 38 Erroneous Ballots

Who the hell carries binoculars in the courthouse?
Mike Snover. 
Among the 75,000+ mail-in ballots (MIBs) processed by NorCo elections officials, 38 were rejected for apparent technical reasons. In some cases, the voter failed to sign the ballot. Others were naked ballots, i.e. ballots that the voter forgot to place inside a secrecy envelope. Attorney Gary Asteak, representing Democrats, sought the identity of these voters so they could at least submit provisional ballots. This was opposed by Attorney Michael Snover, husband of GOP party boss Gloria Lee Snover. President Judge Michael Koury denied a request to muzzle the elections office. 

Snover appealed Judge Koury's denial late Thursday. The Commonwealth Court directed that appeals be filed no later than 3 pm on Friday. Attorney Gary Asteak rushed back to his office to prepare and submit the required brief. President Judge Koury also issued an opinion explaining his ruling. 

He denied preliminary injunctive relief because that requires a showing of "immediate and irreparable harm." This is where Republicans founder. 

"[T]he Northampton County Republican Committee would not be harmed in any way by allowing these votes to be cast by provisional ballot because they can be challenged after the election on the ground that disclosure was prohibited under the statute. In contrast, preventing these affected individuals from casting provisional ballots would constitute substantial and irreparable harm because those individuals who took a number of affirmative steps in an effort to vote in this election would have their votes invalidated without any real opportunity to cure its deficiencies." 

Judge Koury adds that the GOP failed to call a single witness to show immediate and irreparable harm. Having failed to establish this prerequisite to injunctive relief, he denied it. 

So after forcing Attorney Gary Asteak to write a brief and the President Judge to issue an opinion, what did Snover do?

Nothing. 

He withdrew his appeal after making everyone spin their wheels. 

This should really help him when he starts challenging provisional ballots. 

Biden's Lead in Pa is Now 44,930

As elections officials continue to process mail-in ballots, Joe Biden now has a 44,930 vote lead over Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. Biden has 3,362,873 votes (49.76%), while Trump has 3,317,943 (49.09%). At this point, 53,185 MIBs and an estimated 200,000 provisional votes must be counted. Most of the MIBs are from Philly and Allegheny. In addition, returns from 10 Philly precincts are still uncounted.   

NorCo Expected to Process 2,700 Provisional Ballots Today

Northampton County elections officials will process about 2,700 provisional ballots cast in the Presidential race today. Republicans are hoping this will turn the tide in a race in which Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican Donald Trump by 1,315 votes. 

A small army of Republicans and Democrats will be able to challenge ballots, and then the Elections Board will decide on Friday. When I get the time and precise location, I will update this post.  

Under the state Elections Code, when a provisional ballot under this clause, the ballot envelope is marked "challenged" together with the reason for the challenge. It is then set aside for review by the Elections Board.

That review will take place Friday, although I do not have a time or place at this point. Decisions by the Elections Board are subject to review by the Court of Common Pleas if a petition is lodged within two days after the Board's decision.

A provisional ballot is discounted if (1) the voter failed to register; (2) already voted; or (3) is a naked ballot with no secrecy envelope.

A provisional ballot will be partially counted if a voter lives in the county, but his vote in a state Representative race could be discounted. 


Monday, November 09, 2020

Constable Tricia Mezzacappa Muted at West Easton Meeting

You'd think West Easton "Constable" Tricia Mezzacappa would be keeping a low profile these days. After all, she's scheduled for trial on December 1 on charges of false reports to Pennsylvania. Her lawyer dumped her and she's already spent one night in the hoosegow for failing to show up in court.  But that's the way she rolls. 

On election day, she appeared at West Easton's precinct with her constable jacket and immediately got into an argument with voters over her refusal to wear a mask. Then she took off. 

Last night, at West Easton Borough Council, she launched a blistering polemic aimed at Council Prez Matt Dees. She was muted after calling him an asshole. 

She complained about his "false, disgusting hate blog filled with lies, slander, libel and straight-up garbage about me and my activities ... ."

Gee, I thought I was the one who had a false, disgusting hate blog filled with lies, slander, libel and straight-up garbage. 

After being ejected, she referred to Dees on her West Easton Borough Constable Facebook as a "snowflake communist." "See you in court, jerk."

Yes, we will, Tricia. ... Try to show up this time.  

NorCo's Presidential Election: Biden Wins, But Do Dems Lose?

Below are Northampton County's unofficial results, broken down by municipality in each of the four Council districts. Here's my analysis. 

Biden's biggest victories were in the cities. He won convincingly in both Bethlehem and Easton, and this in turn gave him Districts One and Two. Trump crushed in the slate belt and northern tier. 

District One was nearly 2-1 in Biden's favor and District Four was nearly 2-1 in Trump's favor. District Two was slightly in Biden's favor while District Three gave Trump a 2,000 vote margin. 

Turnout matters. - This was a turnout, not a persuasion, election. There were few undecideds. Turnout was very high, at 74.19%. Given an extremely close race in a Democratic majority county, this means that Republicans turned out proportionately more voters than Democrats. Four years ago, GOP turnout was 90% in a race in which total turnout was 70%. Right now I am unable to obtain a precise number of Democratic and Republican turnout. There is little doubt in my mind, however, that GOP turnout was 90% or even more. I say this for two reasons. First, turnout in heavily Republican District Four was extremely high. It was highest in Kesslersville precinct, at 87.57%. In contrast, the turnout in most of the heavily Democratic South Bethlehem districts was pathetic. In the 3rd ward, it was just 28.86%. 

Where are the Latinos? - A few years ago, some Latino hotshot had a meeting with NorCo pols and said he could deliver the Latino vote, but had some demands. He went on to list about 7,000 things that had to be done. This NorCo pol, who shall remain nameless, told this VIP to take a hike. "Contact me when more than three of you vote in an election," were his parting words. 

The Latino vote last week was, as usual, nonexistent.  Turnout in Wards 4 and 5, the most heavily Latino districts in Bethlehem, was 49.47% and 50.48%.

I get that there is no monolithic Latin vote. Some might support Biden. Others might like Trump. But they stayed home. 

Ironically, Bethlehem has two Latin Council members. 

Boroughs are Becoming More Republican. - Historically, boroughs have been home to many of the blue collars who work in the mills or cement companies that once dotted this county.  They voted Democratic. That's changing. Trump captured the vote in Bangor, Bath, Chapman, East Bangor, Glendon, Nazareth, Northampton, N Catty, Pen Argyl, Portland, Roseto, Stockertown, Tatamy, Walnutport, West Easton and Wind Gap.  Biden won only in Freemansburg, Hellertown and Wilson Borough. 

Townships are Becoming More Democratic. -  Just as boroughs have been home to blue collar Democrats, townships have been the home of Republican farmers. But farms are being replaced by warehouses (they call them "fulfillment centers") and massive residential developments for NYC commuters, and Republican farmers are slowly going extinct. Some traditionally Republican townships are now voting blue. This includes Bethlehem Tp, Hanover Tp, and Palmer Tp. Lower Saucon is on the verge.   

Win the battle, lose the war? - Though Biden won the battle for Northampton County, it is clear that Democrats are losing the war for the hearts and souls of ordinary people. Republican voters tend to be more motivated. Urban voters may simply be unable to vote because they are more transient and generally have to work several jobs. They may think it makes no difference. Blue collars in the boroughs appear to be alienated by the elitism expressed by some Democrats as their jobs have disappeared. And as that happens, Democrats are disappearing, too. 

Please feel free to provide your own insight. While this post does involve our political parties, I will refuse to publish any comment that makes sweeping generalizations. No tribalism, please. 

Bethlehem Results

District Two

Easton Results

District Three

District Four

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Updated: Pa. Delivers Biden The Presidency!

11/7, Noon: AP Has Just Declared Biden the Winner in Pa.! What this means is he will be the nxt President of the United States. AP explains why it has called Pa. for Biden here

*************************************

As of midnight, there are 175,880 MIBs left to be counted in Pa.

Donald Trump is still ahead of Joe Biden with 3,285,048 votes to Biden's 3,262,575. 

If Biden gets just 60% of these MIBs, he wins. That would give him 3,368,103 votes to Trump's 3,355,400. That would be a paper thin margin of 12,703 votes. 

According to WHYY, Biden has been getting about 78% of the MIBs, although percentages differ from county to county. If that average holds, he will win the state by 65,407 votes. 

I expect to see Biden declared the victor in Pennsylvania. This will give him the 270 votes he needs for the Presidency. 

9 am update: Joe Biden is now ahead with 3,295,044 votes to Trump's 3,289,544. There are 163,501 ballots left to count. 

11:40 am: Biden is now up by 8,943 votes. There are still 124,000 ballots to count. 

1:45 pm: Biden is now up by 13,306 votes, with 112,796 votes left to tally. 

4:45 pm: Biden now leads by 14,520. 

8:15 pm: Biden lead is now 18,904, with 102,541 MIBs outstanding.  

9:48 pm: Biden lead is now 25,588. Statewide, in-person voting at all but 17 precincts in Philly have been reported. 

10:40 pm: Biden now leads by 26,475, with 89,282 MIBs remaining. He has 49.62% of the vote to Trump's 49.23%.  If Biden captures just 60% of the remaining MIBs, his margin of victory will be 63,000 votes. If he captures 78%, which was his average yesterday, he will win by 76,473 votes.  

11/7, 10 am: As votes trickle in, Biden's lead is now 28,178.  For some reason, the state website shows that 89,282 MIBs still remain.  

After MIBs are counted, approximately 100,000 provisional ballots will need to be reviewed. That process is unfortunately far more laborious than mere counting because many of the ballots are from people who could be ineligible. They will have to be checked for issues like registration or whether they already voted by mail.  

In a brief statement last night, Joe Biden predicted, "We're going to win this race." Instead of taking a victory lap, he is calling for unity. "We may be opponents, but we're not enemies," he declared. "We're Americans. He expressed concerns about the continuing pandemic and 20 million Americans who are unemployed. "We don't have any more time to waste on partisan warfare," he cautions. 

It is still mathematically possible for Trump to win in Pa, but I hear the fat lady warming up.

11/7, Noon: AP Has Just Declared Biden the Winner in Pa.! What this means is he will be the nxt President of the United States. AP explains why it has called Pa. for Biden here

11/8, 2 PM: President-Elect Joe Biden's lead in Pennsylvania is now 42,203. This is nearly the same margin that Trump had against Clinton four years ago. Biden has 3,355,613 votes (49.74%) to Trump's 3,313,410 (49.11%). There are still 55,962 MIBs to be tallied and returns are needed from 12 Philly precincts. There are also an estimated 100,000 provisional ballots.

Originally posted 11/5 at 10:20 pm

Friday, November 06, 2020

Biden Lead in NorCo Now at 1,315 Votes

After a day of counting additional votes under the glaring eyes of unhappy Republican party bosses, elections officials report that Joe Biden's lead in NorCo has grown to 1,315 votes. He now has 84,145 votes (49.7%) to Donald Trump's 82,830 (48.9%). Turnout has increased to 74.79%.

My Revised Comment Policy

Blogger's Note: The American people have signaled they've had enough tribalism, and so have I. From now on, I intend to reject all such comments. In addition, I will reject any and all conspiracy theories, including election fraud, unless backed up with hard evidence.  

You own views are appreciated, especially if they differ from mine. But remember, commenting is a privilege, not a right. I will delete personal attacks or off-topic remarks at my discretion. Comments that play into the tribalism that has consumed this nation will be declined. So will comments alleging voter fraud unless backed up by concrete evidence. If you attack someone personally, I expect you to identify yourself. I will delete criticisms of my comment policy, vulgarities, cut-and-paste jobs from other sources and any suggestion of violence towards anyone. I will also delete sweeping generalizations about mainstream parties or ideologies, i.e. identity politics. My decisions on these matters are made on a case by case basis, and may be affected by my mood that day, my access to the blog at the time the comment was made or other information that isn’t readily apparent.

Updated: NorCo GOP Wants 38 Erroneous Ballots to Stay That Way

Among the 75,000+ MIBs processed by NorCo elections officials, 38 were rejected for apparent technical reasons. In some cases, the voter failed to sign the ballot. Others were naked ballots, i.e. ballots that the voter forgot to place inside a secrecy envelope. Attorney Gary Asteak, representing Democrats, sought the identity of these voters so they could at least submit provisional ballots. This was opposed by Attorney Michael Snover, husband of GOP party boss Gloria Lee Snover. President Judge Michael Koury denied a request to muzzle the elections office. 

Snover has taken this matter to the Commonwealth Court. He appealed Judge Koury's denial of injunctive relief late Thursday. 

It's pretty clear county Republicans want to disenfranchise as many MIBs as they can because they are mostly going to Biden. 

Judge Koury has issued an opinion explaining his decision to allow the Elections Board to release the names and addresses of voters whose mail-in ballots (MIBs) were canceled. 

The Elections Code prohibits the early release of election "results", and the County GOP contends this disclosure violates that proscription. Democrats counter that names and addresses are just that, with no indication how a person actually voted. 

Judge Koury notes in his Opinion that Republicans seek preliminary injunctive relief, including a showing of "immediate and irreparable harm." Judge Koury concludes this is where they founder. 

"[T]he Northampton County Republican Committee would not be harmed in any way by allowing these votes to be cast by provisional ballot because they can be challenged after the election on the ground that disclosure was prohibited under the statute. In contrast, preventing these affected individuals from casting provisional ballots would constitute substantial and irreparable harm because those individuals who took a number of affirmative steps in an effort to vote in this election would have their votes invalidated without any real opportunity to cure its deficiencies." 

Judge Koury adds that the GOP failed to call a single witness to show immediate and irreparable harm. Having failed to establish this prerequisite to injunctive relief, he denied it. 

Originally published 11/6 at 12:07 am

Clayton County Puts Biden on Top in Georgia

Clayton County is the old South. It's the setting for both Gone With the Wind and Smokey and the Bandit. It's the home of fabled Sheriff Buford T. Justice. It's also the new South. It was John Lewis' county.  That county has just put Biden ahead of Trump in Georgia.  

"They Did It For Democracy"

What a difference a year makes! At this time last year, Northampton County had egg on its face over a disastrous debut of the Express Vote XL voting system. Many of the machines purchased were improperly aligned at the factory. To make matters worse, they were improperly programmed. Even worse, these issues were missed during logic and accuracy testing performed before the election. The result was long lines, loud complaints and a flurry of court orders throughout the day.  But based on what happened during this year's presidential election, you'd never know we ever had a problem.

The County resolved to improve, and it did. The problems with the XL were quickly sorted out and fixed. Electronic poll books were purchased, which simplify voter check-in. Staff was added in the elections office. Equipment was purchased so that mail-in ballots (MIBs) could be counted more quickly on a scanner. As a result, except for the poor bastard who shot himself at a Washington Tp polling place,the November 3 election went off without a hitch. 

Executive Lamont McClure, in his report to County Council last night, noted the high-end equipment purchased. But he added the real reason for the success is "the blood sweat and tears" of the elections staff who put in 14-16 hour days over several months. 

"They did it for democracy," he said, and added, "We're not the only county who has wonderful people."  

On Election Day, the two Amys (Registrar Amy Cozze and Chief Deputy Amy Hess) were at the courthouse around 5 am. They began counting at 7 am, the earliest time they could start under state law.  They and their staff continued throughout the night and finally were finished at 6 am the next day. 

The significance of what they did is that they gave the public an early indication about how the state as a whole would vote when the numbers are tallied statewide. Northampton County is very much a bellwether county, so its results were very helpful. The quickness also eliminated doubts that have appeared in other counties that are taking things more slowly, 

Registrar Amy Cozze and her staff got a round of applause from Council. I'd like to see them all paid a little more. 

Their work is by no means over. Starting today, approximately 2700 provisional ballots will be examined and accepted or rejected. Both parties will be able to make challenges as they see fit. 

In addition, ballots arriving after November 3 will be counted. That tally will be segregated. Cozze told Council that only a handful of late MIBs have arrived. 

Speaking of getting paid more, McClure noted he has negotiated two-year extensions to four AFSCME bargaining units. Member will see a two per cent raise in year one, followed by a step (4/12%) in year two. 

In other business, Northampton County acquired two major tracts of land in an effort to preserve open space. 

The first of these is the 76.76 acre site of the Hexenkopf witches' covens in Williams Township, where the ghosts of departed Council members appear and howl during full moons. Some of them, like Ron Angle, are still alive. "Some people golf, but this is more fun," he tells me. 

The second acquisition is 91 acres located in Lower Mount Bethel and Washiungton Tps, along Bangor and Upper Little Creek Roads. 

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Winners and Losers in 2020 Presidential

Since last night, I've heard and read all sorts of complaints. Donald Trump wants all vote counting to stop and has declared himself the winner. Several have moaned about Democrats' failure to seize control of the Senate. One article in Politico groans that Biden is already screwed. Of course, everyone is blasting pollsters for getting it wrong ... again. There are just two groups who seem to get it. One is the Biden-Harris campaign. The other is the American people. You can discount the former if you wish, but the latter are a lot smarter than we often think. With this in mind, let me name the real winners and losers of this contest. 

Biggest Winner - The American people. Despite what the pundits might say, the American people are collectively pretty smart. They are on the way to handing Joe Biden the Presidency. They are taking it out of the hands of a reality-TV star whose biggest accomplishment over the past four years is his uncanny ability to create chaos wherever he goes. Some adore him. Others detest him. A substantial majority of Americans are simply tired of him. American people did more than vote Trump out. They also rejected the blue wave that many were predicting. 

It seems likely that the GOP will retain control of the Senate. They may even gain ground in the House. This has been a recipe for gridlock in the past, but it's in reality an invitation to come together and listen to each other again. The perfect person to do that as President is Joe Biden.

Winner - Joe Biden. Last night, as votes were being tallied, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris walked out onto a stage decorated with numerous American (not Trump) flags. He delivered a short speech that was perhaps the most effective I've ever heard from him. Unlike his counterpart, he declined to declare victory, but made some important points about Tuesday. 

"Democracy is the heartbeat of this nation," he reminded us. "Here the people rule." He called on all of us to "put the harsh rhetoric of the campaign behind us," to "respect and care for one another,"  "to unite, to heal, to come together as a nation."

He said "we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies." If elected he "will govern as an American President. I will work as hard for those who didn't vote for me as those who did vote for me." He called yesterday's still undecided vote "a victory for the American people." He reminded us there really are "no blue states or red states, just the United States." 

Biden, unlike Trump and Obama before him, can work with Senate Republicans. It's possible that he can deliver something we've been missing for a long time - bipartisan government.

I am hopeful.   

Loser - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. - Though she has called herself a "great negotiator," she was unable to deliver a deal that would help both the unemployed and small business during this pandemic. Even though the White House was willing to meet her more than half way, she held out in the cynical belief that this stalemate would prevent Trump from claiming any victory before the election. In the process, she hurt the very people that she and Democrats pretend to champion. We need to cleanse ourselves of bitter partisans like her and others who loudly complained when Senator Diane Feinstein dared hug Senator Lindsey Graham at the conclusion of the Amy Barrett confirmation hearings. 

Winner - Northampton County. After a disastrous debut, the Express Vote XL has proven itself to be an excellent voting system, especially now that voters can check in with electronic poll books. Despite all the curveballs thrown by the state, the county's elections office was able to deliver results early yesterday morning. This is a credit to both Elections Registrar Amy Cozze and her Chief Deputy, Amy Hess. It is also a credit to the many hard-working people in that office, who spent weeks getting ready for what appears to have been another flawless election. 

Thanks to a quick tabulation of 80,000 MIBs, we knew early that Biden was the winner in a county Democrats lost four years ago. Northampton has acted as a bellwether for the rest of the state, where things are now going Biden's way.  

Executive Lamont McClure and County Council, to their credit, spared no expense in making sure this was a well-run election. Our elections should get even better now that I am stepping down as a pollworker.    

Loser - Party bosses. GOP Chair Lee Snover actually invited two accused felons to speak at a superspreader rally in Lower Saucon Tp.  She organized a divisive and confrontational counter protest when a group of mostly kids wanted to march in protest of the George Floyd death in Pen Argyl. She is so divisive that she has lost two Vice Chairs since the beginning of the year.

This is not West Virginia.  

As bad as she may be, Dem Party boss Matt Munsey is worse. It's still very unclear whether his party even has a treasurer. His particular talent is recruiting the most extreme Democrats he can find to run for office. To be suitable in his eyes, you must be a transgender pagan who is completely out of touch with ordinary people. If you want to help working people, you're no good. 

Winners - Trump Supporters. While I fail to understand what they see in this incorrigible liar, Donald Trump's supporters  created a lot of enthusiasm for and against their hero. Their flag rallies and car parades struck me as goofy, but they were getting a lot of positive feedback. With some exceptions, they are very nice people.  They were engaged in core political speech, which only makes us better. We need to listen to them instead of hate and try to find a middle ground when we can.  

Loser - Tara Zrinski. She is perfect for  Matt Munsey and might be great as an activist, but should never have run for State Representative in a heavily Republican district. That was simply insane.   

Winner - Moderate Voices in 2021. Had Americans re-elected Donald Trump, there would be a bloodbath for Republicans seeking municipal office next year. Had they elected Biden and tossed out Republicans in the Senate, it would be a bloodbath for Democrats. The American people have spoken, and have made clear they are sick of partisanship,

This is good news for moderates of both parties seeking local office. Lamont McClure, Phil Armstrong and Nat Hyman should do quite well. Extremists like Josh Siegel, Ce-Ce Gerlach and Mark Pinsley? Not so much.  You can be a proud Democrat. You can be a proud Republican.But you should represent everyone.