Friday, April 09, 2021

Why Breena Holland Supports Dana Grubb for Bethlehem Mayor

Breena Holland is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative at Lehigh University. She earned her doctorate and master's degree at the University of Chicago. She and I have been on the opposite sides of many issues. She supports a plastic straw ban. I think it would be more meaningful to pay people who need work $15 an hour, funded from the county's open space fund, to sweep the stream banks for garbage. She opposed a parking deck on Bethlehem's south side. I thought it was needed. But she's also prescient. Back in 2012, it was Holland who gave a Town Hall lecture on the need for better public health. 

While we have our differences, we agree that Dana Grubb is the obvious choice for Bethlehem Mayor. 

Grubb's opponent in this race for the Democratic nomination is City Council person J. Willie Reynolds. I've already told you that at their LV4All presentations, Reynolds called Grubb a liar when he denied seeking endorsements from local elected officials. I've known Grubb for decades. He's never misled me on anything. Moreover, he told me earlier this year that he had decided against seeking endorsements from current local elected officials. But Willie's fellow Council person, Paige Van Wirt, had a breakfast meeting with Dana after which she may have told Willie that her endorsement was sought or Willie may have misunderstood her. I suspect it was the latter. 

One of Willie's supporters posted an anonymous comment on my blog stating Dana was "begging for endorsements from Van Wirt and Olga last year already, and he had Breena Holland and Barbara Diamond pushing Van Wirt to endorse him. Maybe he changed his tune about endorsements after they refused, but he did ask." This person added, "Breena and Diamond also tried to hijack the LV4ALL meeting and pushed the group to endorse Dana."

This led Breena Holland herself to respond, and here's what she says. 

"This is Breena Holland and you need to get your facts right. Feel free to ask PVW if I ever pushed her to endorse Dana. Additionally, Barbara Diamond was not at the LV4ALL meeting. That was me setting the record straight on WR, because people deserve to know the who they are voting for. A lot of LV4All people don't follow Bethlehem politics closely. Willie has consistently made bad decisions and endeavored to exercise absolute control over council, somewhat successfully for a long time. His newly proclaimed mature and kinder self is awfully convenient and I don't personally think he has earned the support of progressives. But putting that aside, he has no experience inside city hall or running anything but a classroom. We've had a school teacher running the city for 8 years, and if you want more of that kind of leadership, then you should vote for Willie. I want someone to run the city who has a demonstrated commitment to principle and integrity, who I believe is capable of figuring out how to make government function better, and who will do what is best for Bethlehem's South Side, which I think of as the area of our city that currently needs the most attention from city government. That person is not Willie Reynolds. Dana has more experience, more integrity, more ideas about how to actually get something done. He is honest, fair, and actually listens to people who disagree with him. Willie does not do these things unless he needs something from you. Willie speaks in feelgood generalizations and his explanation of how to get things done seems to involve a lot of convening others to do it. They are just not the answers I'm personally looking for. He may be well-intentioned, although I've personally suffered plenty of his vitriol, so I don't think he's well-intentioned about me. Freaking out because people are presenting facts about his own record demonstrates his incapacity. Calling Dana a liar over something that he couldn't actually know to be factually correct demonstrates his tendency to mischaracterize others and protect himself when challenged. He's done this for years. It's not new behavior, just wrapped up in a box that is all about vision and positivity--so long as you agree with him, of course."

Breena identifies herself. The Willie supporter chose to remain anonymous. 

Unfortunately, since both Breena and I agree about Dana, he's bound to lose. 

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dana is the better choice for Bethlehem but Reynolds made a deal with Donchez 4 years ago to not run against Donchez as long as Donchez endorsed Reynolds in this primary. That is Reynolds in a nut shell. Unless the voters get out to vote thats democracy in Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

Ouch! pretty unvarnished opinion right there. Maybe Willie should listen more to people that disagree with him!

Anonymous said...

LOL, Breena Holland...the original Lehigh Birkenstock. If she is supporting Grubb, I am definitely voting for Reynolds. She nothing but an academic elitist. Not surprisingly she is supporting the guy who thinks he is the answer to all of Bethlehem's problems.

It's also laughable that people think the guy who was forced to retire or be fired for getting in a fistfight in city hall has integrity and is more experienced. Dana has been out of city hall for over 2 decades. His experience is from the stone age and does not translate to today. He is a dinosaur.

Anonymous said...

I do not know Breena Holland personally but have encountered her at several public presentations and have interacted with her on social media. I find her to be rare gem among local progressive leaning people because she intellectually analyzes each issue before she offers her opinion. She does not appear to accept every progressive platitude as if it is a required check on a list of what "all" progressives "should" believe. I agree with her about some things, disagree about others and sometimes am neutral if the issue is not high on my list of priorities. I would add however that she has earned my respect and it is always worth listening carefully to her positions and opinions. I harbor little ill will towards Willie Reynolds, but Breena's opinions about Dana Grubb closely mesh with mine and that is why Dana will get my vote.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't both candidates assume to be or want to be "the answer to all of Bethlehem's problems"? Why run for Mayor if you do not think that way?

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't the mayor surround themselves with the best people and seek input from the public in solving Bethlehem's problems, and not be a "know it all" who speaks condescendingly to elected and public officials and called them Nazis, corrupt, crooks, and thieves over the years at the courtesy of the floor?

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the only two choices is Grubb or Reynolds. WTH has happened to Bethlehem?

Anonymous said...

Comparisons of distinctions without differences is the most curious thing about one party towns. Throw a dart.

Barbara Diamond said...

I want to be very clear about the accusations related in this post that I was pushing Paige Van Wirt to endorse Dana. At no time have I communicated with PWV in anyway to endorse Dana. I was also not involved with the LV4All meeting. The anonymous poster was wrong which is the problem with not backing up allegations with your name - no transparency, no accountability.

Which brings me to why I support Dana. As you know Bernie, because you published your right to know request regarding rezoning Martin Tower, while the public was asking for information about what the developers, Ronca & Herrick (major donors to his campaign fund) intended for the property, Willie Reynolds, then president of city council, was misleading the public by claiming the developers were not really involved, that the rezoning was coming from the administration. This claim was made while Ronca was actually stalking the rotunda & texting that he needed to flee before the press spotted him and expressing regret that the 2.5 hr presentation of the ordinance had resulted in more people leaving. This behavior and the fact that elected officials can accept campaign contributions and vote on business before them by their donors is what launched the effort to pass a comprehensive ethics ordinance. Willie led the effort to sabotage the ethics ordinance. Sure they passed a fig leaf but anyone who knows about municipal ethics knows they were just designed to look good. Willie Reynolds is still the choice of a handful of developers. Like most politicians, he will no doubt claim that his donor’s will have no influence on his decisions.

That is one of the reasons that I am not supporting Willie Reynolds, but there are affirmative reasons I support Dana. In addition to being independent and not beholden to donors like developers that want favorable treatment, the reason I am supporting Dana is that his experience is simply more relevant to running city government. That is clear when the two candidates talk about how they would address problems and issues. Dana has specifics that come from extensive awareness of the gears of municipal government including finance that make it work efficiently. He wants to make city government more responsive and effective and he has the experience to do it.

Anonymous said...

I find it really fascinating how some of Reynold's most ardent supporters are folks who are conspicuously absent from attendance at council meetings. Breena Holland was one of the reasons I began to attend and follow City Council meetings long before I knew her personally. Her articulate, researched input at council meetings, and her advocacy for less privileged residents always spoke to me. That is also true of watching Dana Grubb speak as a citizen on issues that matter to me, like development. When I finally met Dana, I realized he had a huge depth of knowledge of how the city works that serves as a foundation for how he knows EXACTLY how it can function better, given his 27 years of experience in a variety of high-profile positions. Dana was one of four city officials who created the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District in negotiations with Bethlehem Steel. That district has benefited Bethlehem by laying the financial groundwork for the development of the Steelstacks and supporting infrastructure, the Bethlehem Greenway, etc. I am not sure what practical administrative experience a school teacher has to run a city the size of Bethlehem. Oh wait, we have been there and done that -- the current administration is run by a former teacher cum mayor that has to defer to staff for lack of practical experience.

As for the comment above -- about Dana being forced to retire for getting in a "fistfight" in city hall in 2004, that is all the Reynold's team has, and it is pathetic given the incident only speaks to Dana's ethics. Dana received the first and only blow, breaking his nose, by someone under an "open investigation" for being on the take in the department of the environment, an investigation opened by Dana Grubb, sanctioned by the prior mayor and solicitor after receiving numerous citizen complaints -- a pretty compelling motive. When the Callahan admin came into office (Willie's old council pal) the investigation was mysteriously sat on. How convenient for the Callahan administration to use an altercation in which Dana was the victim to get him to resign. Problem solved! Shortly after, Dana was ask to be an FBI informant in an investigation of the Callahan administration, much like Congresswoman Susan Wild did so commendably with the FBI investigation into the "pay to play" by Allentown's Mayor Pawlowski and his administration, for which he is now serving time. I think that speaks volumes about the kind of integrity Dana has. It is easy to speculate that the lack of a wire might be the only reason Bethlehem was spared the fate of Allentown.

As for describing Dana as a "dinosaur" above -- that's pretty ironic, since I have heard many residents who have followed Reynolds' career on Council (his votes, donations, antics) refer to him as another type of reptile.

Barbara Diamond said...

I want to be very clear about the accusations related in this post that I was pushing Paige Van Wirt to endorse Dana. At no time have I communicated with PWV in anyway to endorse Dana. I was also not involved with the LV4All meeting. The anonymous poster was wrong which is the problem with not backing up allegations with your name - no transparency, no accountability.

Which brings me to why I support Dana. As you know Bernie, because you published your right to know request regarding rezoning Martin Tower, while the public was asking for information about what the developers, Ronca & Herrick (major donors to his campaign fund) intended for the property, Willie Reynolds, then president of city council, was misleading the public by claiming the developers were not really involved, that the rezoning was coming from the administration. This claim was made while Ronca was actually stalking the rotunda & texting that he needed to flee before the press spotted him and expressing regret that the 2.5 hr presentation of the ordinance had resulted in more people leaving. This behavior and the fact that elected officials can accept campaign contributions and vote on business before them by their donors is what launched the effort to pass a comprehensive ethics ordinance. Willie led the effort to sabotage the ethics ordinance. Sure they passed a fig leaf but anyone who knows about municipal ethics knows they were just designed to look good. Willie Reynolds is still the choice of a handful of developers. Like most politicians, he will no doubt claim that his donor’s will have no influence on his decisions.

That is one of the reasons that I am not supporting Willie Reynolds, but there are affirmative reasons I support Dana. In addition to being independent and not beholden to donors like developers that want favorable treatment, the reason I am supporting Dana is that his experience is simply more relevant to running city government. That is clear when the two candidates talk about how they would address problems and issues. Dana has specifics that come from extensive awareness of the gears of municipal government including finance that make it work efficiently. He wants to make city government more responsive and effective and he has the experience to do it.

Anonymous said...

No idea who 2:27 is but couldn't agree more,Reynolds is a snake in the grass! Not to be trusted.

James Neara said...

What a quaint, old fashioned notion, Bernie, to pay people "$15 an hour, from the county's open space fund, to sweep the stream banks for garbage." You're clearly ignorant of the purposes of the open space program, which has absolutely nothing to do with sweeping up garbage anywhere. Do you even have a clue how many 100s of miles of steams we have in Northampton County? How many times a day or week or month would these stream bank sweepers sweep stream banks? Or would your stream bank sweeping program end once the open space program funds were exhausted on stream bank sweeping? Wow.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"James Neara," I am well aware of the county's open space fund, apparently more so than you. The money is used to purchase farms, purchase environmentally sensitive lands and purchase or maintain parks. The $15 per hour, which is more than the county pays some of its workforce, could be used to clean garbage along the streambanks of the D&L trail running along the Lehigh to the Delaware. It could also be used to clean the Delaware riverbanks at two county parks along the Delaware. This would reduce the amount of plastic flowing into our oceans and is far more effective than a plastic straw ban.

Learn to use your head now and then, and don'tr challenge me on topics about which you know nothing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"James Neara" I decline to hist your additional inanity as you simply do not know what you are talking about. The argument could be made that the purchase of the farm at the Johnston Estate was not permitted, but it was approved. The use of opens pace money to clean river banks is specifically permitted bc it preserves public parks. Bray away at LV Roar.