Monday, May 17, 2021

Politics, Money and Power: All in the Family for the Harringtons

They are a perfect combination of politics, money and power. It's all in the family for the The Harringtons of the Lehigh Valley. They are certainly a part of the Lehigh's Valley ruling class. Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. You could even say it's the American way. The goal of our founding documents was to rid ourselves of the nobility. We nevertheless still have an aristocracy who periodically impress their wills on their lessers. The Harringtons are intent on replacing our mostly moderate local leaders with woke extremists of dubious character. In the process of ruining our local government, there's money to be made. It's pretty clear that they've engaged in conflicts of interest in violation of the state Ethics Act. 

Who is Tom Harrington?

According to LinkedIn, Tom Harrington is a graduate of Miami University with a B.A. in political science and government. He also holds several certificates that people in the business world often use to pad their resumes. He holds no degrees beyond his B.A, 

After graduating, Harrington spent 34 years for the Boy Scouts, in locations as spread out as Dallas and Kansas. In late 2015, he was selected as President and CEO at Valley Youth House

This appointment was controversial. "You've hired a person who upheld discrimination against gay youth," noted Mark Segal, publisher of Philadelphia Gay News. "And now that same person [Harrington] is going to be dealing with gay youth."

In fairness, Harrington stated at the time that he and others were trying to change Boy Scout policy from within. 

Last week, I told you Harrington's 2019 compensation was a whopping $335,036. This is according to the 2019 tax return filed by this nonprofit.  This is 1.18% of Valley Youth House's total revenue of $28 million. His compensation is approved by a Board of Governors, but these boards typically act as rubber stamps for whatever the director at a nonprofit wants.  His salary is excessive. 

In addition to his role at Valley Youth House, Harrington also chairs Allentown's homeless commission. 

He was appointed in July 2020 at the request of Council member Ce-Ce Gerlach. She failed to disclose that she worked at Valley Youth House and Harrington is her boss. 

His appointment comes right around the time that Gerlach, an intake worker at Valley Youth House, dropped a 16 yo runaway boy off at a tent city. He was thereafter abused for two nights until being rescued. Gerlach has admitted dropping this child off at a homeless enclave, but denied knowing his age. "[S]o if people want to beat me up over that, they can,” she told blogger James Whitney. 

That matter is currently under investigation by the Lehigh County District Attorney.   

What is Valley Youth House? 

First established in 1973 as a single shelter, Valley Youth House "was open day and night, ensuring that vulnerable, abused and homeless young people in the community had access to shelter and counseling." Today, it calls itself "the catalyst for youth to achieve their desired future through genuine relationships that support families, ensure safe places, and build community connections."

According to its audited financials, at least two-thirds of its $28 million in revenue comes from money received from the counties as well as state and federal grants. Lehigh County paid $2.2 million to Valley Youth House in 2018 and $2.4 million in 2019. 

At a zoom meeting of the homeless commission last week, Harrington suggested that Valley Youth House could manage a new homeless shelter under consideration at an unspecified location in Allentown. He used his position as Chair to solicit business for his nonprofit. 

Who is Kathy Harrington? 

Kathy Harrington, Tom's wife, is part of the blue wave that followed Donald Trump's election in 2016. She became the First Vice Chair of the Lehigh County Democratic Committee. She also formed a Democratic organization called Lehigh Valley For All, Initially, it may have been an inclusive organization, at least insofar as Democrats are concerned. That's no longer the case. 

At their most recent endorsement meeting, Lehigh Valley For All Some failed to invite incumbent Mayor Ray O'Connell or incumbent City Council members Ed Zucal and Daryl Hendricks, even though they are all proud Democrats. They failed to invite incumbent Democrat Bryan Callahan of Bethlehem, even though he was the sole member of their City Council to vote No to a tax hike in the middle of a pandemic. 

Numerous other Democrats were snubbed as well.  

Lehigh Valley For All Some would then endorse Ce-Ce Gerlach for Allentown Mayor over incumbent Ray O'Connell. Members were never informed that Gerlach is employed by Harrington;s husband. Members were never told that Harrington's husband is trying to squeeze Allentown into letting his outfit manage a new homeless shelter. Members were never told that Gerlach is herself under investigation for her role in dropping a child off at a tent city, after which he was abused. 

They would also go on to endorse Justan Parker Fields and Patrick Palmer for City Council over the snubbed Daryl Hendricks and Ed Zucal, both of whom are retired police officers. Palmer, who literally lives in his mother's basement, has dishonestly portrayed himself as a member of two city boards. Fields was never asked why he and a mob spent months pounding on the doors and windows of City Council meetings, disrupting them just as certainly as the insurrectionists did at the capitol. Fields was never asked to explain his use of a false name when stopped by Coplay police with his minor child in the car. He was never asked why he thought it was OK to drive his child with a suspended license.  

What's dangerous about this endorsement is that, if Fields and Palmer are elected, City Council will have a majority of members who think public safety can be guaranteed by social workers. Ironically, these social workers refused to leave their homes during the pandemic and were perfectly content to allow police officers do their jobs.  


Who is Dave Harrington?

Dave is the son of Kathy and Tom Harrington. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of Lehigh Valley For All Some. More importantly, he is a Lehigh County Commissioner.. He was elected in 2019. 

His mom (Kathy Harrington) contributed a small amount to David Harrington's campaign..

His Dad (Tom Harrington) was the treasurer for David's campaign committee. 

As already established, Valley Youth House pays Tom Harrington over $330k a year. 

As already established, Valley Youth House gets several million dollars a year from Lehigh County/ 

As Lehigh County Commissioner, David Harrington votes on the budget for Lehigh County. He voted in favor of this year's budget on October 28. It sets aside over two million for Valley Youth House. He failed to recuse himself even though his vote financially benefits his father. 

State Ethics Act 

According to the Pennsylvania Ethics Act, a conflict or conflict of interest exists when a public official uses the authority of her office or any confidential information received through that office for the private pecuniary benefit of herself, a member of her immediate family or a business with which she or a member of her immediate family is associated. A public officer also violates the public trust when he uses his influence as a public officer to advance the cause of that non-profit.  There are several potential violations here. 

1. Tom Harrington is a public officer as a member of the homeless commission, and violated the state Ethics Act when he promoted Valley Youth House as the manager of a new shelter. 

2. Ce-Ce Gerlach possibly violated the state ethics act when she promoted her boss as a member of the homeless commission without disclosing she works for him. 

3. Dave Harrington violated the state ethics act when he voted for a budget that includes several million dollars for his father's non-profit.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Best investigative journalist in the Lehigh Valley. Hands down. If The Morning Call hired you, they might sell enough papers to rent a small office somewhere.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I decline to post comments making generalizations about Democrats or Republicans. Read my comment policy.

Anonymous said...

No surprises here for me. Familial arrangements with squandering abuse of taxpayer dollars is what happens all over this nation. Because government has grown too big to monitor. The system is all too easy to manipulate.

There’s a reason why many Members of Congress will say, and do, anything to remain in office as long as they can. Also why they become so resentful when anyone dares to question their performance.

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Harrington looks like an older more attractive Tara Zirinski.

Anonymous said...

Adding to my 3:13 entry.

Nothing will change until more people understand funding from State and Federal Agencies, Departments, and Committees to support non-profits are making use of each of our own taxpayer dollars. Money extracted from our OWN households. Government spending and donations are my dollars, YOUR dollars.

Problem is, our dollars are treated like water from the kitchen faucet. It flows with very little thought, and no real accountability. Put a nice sounding, virtuous name on your non-profit and it’s off to the races.

Anonymous said...

Does Dave have a job?

michael molovinsky said...

There is also a similar conflict of interest with the Cope family in South Whitehall. The former CFO of the Wildlands Conservancy has a son who served as park director when the WC laid out the township's new park master plans. The son is now public works director, and the WC now administers a $multi-million dollar Greenway Project.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -
Does it ever stop?


1. Tom Harrington is a public officer as a member of the homeless commission, and violated the state Ethics Act when he promoted Valley Youth House as the manager of a new shelter.

2. Ce-Ce Gerlach possibly violated the state ethics act when she promoted her boss as a member of the homeless commission without disclosing she works for him.

3. Dave Harrington violated the state ethics act when he voted for a budget that includes several million dollars for his father's non-profit.

Anonymous said...

The Harringtons' daughter Sarah also gets in on the action- she is listed on LV4A candidate Omar Ray's most recent campaign finance form as receiving $500 for website design and hosting.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
Best investigative journalist in the Lehigh Valley. Hands down. If The Morning Call hired you, they might sell enough papers to rent a small office somewhere.

May 17, 2021 at 1:59 AM"

True

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Does Dave have a job?"

He practices immigration law. Also represents Amy Zanelli in her never-ending custody battle.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Mrs. Harrington looks like an older more attractive Tara Zirinski.

Sexist comments like this destroy all the valid points I was trying to make.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The Harringtons' daughter Sarah also gets in on the action-"

Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

"He was appointed in July 2020 at the request of Council member Ce-Ce Gerlach. She failed to disclose that she worked at Valley Youth House and Harrington is her boss."

But he knew she was and he did not disclose either. Why? What was there to gain?

Anonymous said...

"
Nothing will change until more people understand funding from State and Federal Agencies, Departments, and Committees to support non-profits are making use of each of our own taxpayer dollars. Money extracted from our OWN households. Government spending and donations are my dollars, YOUR dollars."

Folks try a little experiment. Read local papers for a few days and see how often the
phrase "taxpayer dollars" is used.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"But he knew she was and he did not disclose either. Why? What was there to gain?"

In his case, a management contract for a new shelter. In her case, continued employment and perhaps even advancement.

Anonymous said...

This is just the tip of the ice-berg in this country. The corruption is on a third world level. Sadly Americans cant overcome their desire to believe that the government institutions are working in their best interest. Can you imagine what is going on in Washington?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Probably less in DC. There's a lot more money, power and politics. But there is also a lot more scrutiny and both parties are powerful. In Allentown, there is little scrutiny and it is a one-party town. It is a candy store for me. We need divided government and more media, much as you may hate them.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes, thank you for investigating this, since the local media only covers police calls and feel good press releases, pre-written for them. The Lehigh Valley 501C3 not for profit world is full of these types of questionable relationships, fueled by cocktail party boards that are kept happy by flattery, naming opportunities, and the general idea that they are doing good deeds. Please investigate more.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that LVforall endorsed Omar Ray for Co. Commissioner over Joyce Moore, who has been active in local Democratic politics for many more decades.

Anonymous said...

Very clearly, conflicts exist here. Tomorrow is primary day. Get out and vote for candidates being shunned by the political machine.

Anonymous said...

No wonder this family is smiling.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...
Yes, yes, yes, thank you for investigating this, since the local media only covers police calls and feel good press releases, pre-written for them. The Lehigh Valley 501C3 not for profit world is full of these types of questionable relationships, fueled by cocktail party boards that are kept happy by flattery, naming opportunities, and the general idea that they are doing good deeds. Please investigate more.

May 17, 2021 at 10:27 AM"

if Bernie could only be cloned. Another topic not even touched: What about the warehouse development that has covered some of the once finest farm land in PA.

Huck Weaver said...

A another piece of excellent journalism.L.V.R. is the place of L.V. political news

Anonymous said...

I don't think our betters see anything wrong with these greasy arrangements. They're all heads of the same ass. Not to demean this worthy blog (especially on the Fed Ed case), but this story is appearing here and not on what's left of local media that wants us to pay for a subscription to see hotdog contest results or some other nonsense. Again, they're all heads of the same ass.

Anonymous said...

"if Bernie could only be cloned"

i volunteer to conduct that experiment. i will rely heavily on sheep DNA, to accurately reflect the original DNA mix of his bog-trotting, sheep "herding" ancestors

Anonymous said...

"i volunteer to conduct that experiment"

Sounds great. We'll secure a local grant too. Hear they're a piece of cake. No questions asked.

Anonymous said...

Morning Call? Forget it. First of all, they have almost no one left on the regular payroll. Besides that, they haven’t shown any interest during the last decade, or so, to investigate much of anything their Country Club Chums put together. Biggest example, in my opinion, deals with the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.
The NIZ is an absolute rip-off of Pennsylvania taxpayers. The structure of that thing is outrageous. Always remember, that same area was ALREADY producing tax revenue without the NIZ. The scheme has PA taxpayers underwater by about 200 millions dollars from what would have come in without the plan. The NIZ is ripe for a full examination, but who will do it?

Dennis P said...

Robert Smith Jr and i know that the Harringtons in 2019 were actively working for Amy Zanelli for County Commissioner...Very good investigative report Bernie ... For the individual that won't an investigative report on the warehouses on the farms ... I wrote a manuscript about the development of Lehigh County from its agricultural roots to a megalopis. It deals with water and sewer and the loss of farmland ... The manuscript could be strengthened with some o this insider warehouse reports... And then published for history with recognition of all who added truthful and import information to the work ... Again I say good report ... Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Comment about 3pm that particular parcels now known as NIZ was just another name change from KOZ. That was Keystone Opportunity Zone and there was a particular interest holding for the vast majority of parcels.

Anonymous said...

5:06 - We probably shouldn’t go more off-topic. Your reply is not clear. I DO KNOW, the math hasn’t worked out for the majority of state taxpayers. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We all forget that the politician write laws allowing hem to do things such as this and also reward themselves their families and friends like this. They all have to be rooted out and horribly punished along with their family and friend that profited from things. Strip them of all their assets, ban them from an political or non-profit positions for the rest of their lives.

And set the boundaries that's the politicians any law specifically written in a way that benefits them personally must be put to a full and complete vote. It goes from local people who were 2 or 3 paying full time positions virtually triple dipping on the tax payer to the head of government like trump who got his family security because he was too cheap to pay for it or Biden who more then likely got his son the no show high pay job.

They are the reason this country is falling apart and being torn apart at the seams.

Zahavah said...

I find it very interesting that all these comments are labelled "Anonymous." It makes it very easy for anyone to say whatever and not take responsibility. I am also interested to see whether my comments even make it to be posted, as your blog seems pretty one-sided as far as comments go. At a time when Democracy and the truth is so severely under attack by the Far Right, who have apparently taken over the Republican Party -- this kind of attack you have made here on people who fight daily for justice and Democracy -- is damaging in more ways than just a personal attack would be. If the Democratic Party does not pull together in time for the 2022 elections, we may lose any chance to hold on to Democracy as we know it and we will be ruled by an entity that believes in Oligarchy, denies science, upholds racism, and does not believe in progressive values. That said, I thought I would clarify a few points, in the hope that you actually would publish information that conflicts with yours. 1. The Harringtons are probably the least "dynastic" or overbearing people I know -- they are also the most fair, hard working and dedicated, which is why I have given so much time to working with LV4ALL and especially Kathy. They get things done. 2. Tom Harrington is not involved with LV4ALL. As long as I have worked closely with the organization I have only met him briefly maybe 4 times. 3. LV4ALL is a Democratic organization. All endorsements are voted on by members. For this primary there were well over 100 voting members. I am not always happy with the endorsements -- but they are the majority vote, and I do believe in Democracy. 4.In order to have LV4ALL work with you as a candidate, you must apply with paperwork, which is on our website. Brian Callahan did not send anything in. Therefore he was not part of our efforts. We do not recruit candidates. We are a small organization and simply do not have the resources to reach out to everyone in the two counties...perhaps one day. 5. If as a candidate, you do send in paperwork, we include you in our efforts until we vote on endorsements. However, if a candidate "plays dirty", we may decide not to continue our relationship. For instance, we had people here during one of our petition drives who were playing dirty and admitted it, saying: "Politics are always dirty." We disagree. They do not have to be.
Finally, I could say more, but I think this can stand for now. So.... if you do allow these comments to be published, I hope the people reading this blog consider some of the things I have said here. I hope you do as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You smug phonies really turn me off. You complain about anonymous comments while refusing to ID yourself. That's rich. I allow anonymous comments bc I learn things that way. Sure, I also get ugly comments, but can delete the worst of them.

As for your supposed "defense" of the Harringtons, don't quit your day job. You failed to address any one of the three very specific conflicts of interest I identified. As for the points you do attempt to make, let me respond.

1) Tom Harrington's arrogance in recommending his nonprofit for a new homeless shelter is extremely overbeaering. Kathy Harrington tossed the former secretary of NorCo's PJ from the union hall even though she is and always has been a proud Dem. That's pretty overbearing to me, and I can cite numerous examples.

2) Tom is not involved at all but you've met him four times. I smell bullshit. As I said in the body of my story, it is all connected and is all about money, politics and power.

3) I get that LV4All is supposed;y for Dems, but is not. You will only endorse Dems with the blessing of your own nobility. You fucked over Dana Grubb and Joyce Moore, both progressive Dems. You fucked over John Morganelli and taunted him at a debate. You are not for all, not even all Dems. .That is a lie.

4) Your claim re Callahan is pure spin. He sent nothing in bc you never sent it to him. You even snubbed the sitting Democratic Mayor of Pa/'s third largest city, as well as two proud Dem Council members from Allentown who heard nothing from you. You are a disgrace.

5) More bullshit,. Your people played dirty with Judge Koury's retired secretary, played dirty with Morganelli, played dirty with Ray O'Connell and now you lie about it. I saw it.

I can say more, too, and intend to.