Thursday, September 30, 2021

NorCo GOP Exec Candidate Steve Lynch Blowin' Oil Over Accurate Mailer

Up until now, Northampton County Exec Lamont McClure has been a good boy in his re-election bid. He has sent out a few mailers highlighting his accomplishments during his first term in office. But now he's telling you about the pathetic excuse the Republicans have put up to challenge him.  It's Steve "20 strong men" Lynch, who participated in the January 6 attempted coup at the US Capitol. He wore a bulletproof vest to this insurrection, and was visited by a curious FBI after he returned home. McClure just thought you should know. 

I imagine you'll soon be informed that Lynch also wanted to storm the Northampton Area School Board with "20 strong men" over, of all things, a face mask. 

He also wants to prosecute Governor Tom Wolf for murder, although I was unaware that a county exec had law enforcement powers. 

Lynch was really upset at McClure's accurate portrayal. He hopped on Facebook Live on Tuesday, blowin' oil, in a bizarre attempt to counter the "McCounty Coward," as he calls McClure. 

Lynch claims that McClure lied when he stated that Lynch was visited by the FBI over his role in the January 6 insurrection  

"If I'm an insurrectionist and I was interviewed by the FBI, why am I not in jail?" he asks. "Wanna' explain that one to me?" 

The answer is simple. You did participate in the insurrection, but there is just no evidence that you trespassed or were one of the guys smearing shit in the halls of Congress. ... Yet. 

Lynch goes on to claim that McClure slandered him when he stated that Lynch was visited by the FBI.

Let me give you a lesson in defamation law. First, it's called libel, not slander. Second, truth is an absolute defense.  The proof that you were visited by the FBI comes from your own daily Facebook Live videos, in which you repeatedly hang yourself. You have stated, at least twice, that you were visited by the FBI over your role in the January 6 insurrection. You can see an example above.

There most definitely is a liar, Steve, but it's you.   

Steve, everything you say can and will be used against you. And you've said a lot of goofy and dangerous things.

McClure to Release NorCo's 2022 Spending Plan on Monday

Northampton County Exec  Lamont McClure will introduce next year's budget at 11:30 AM on Monday, October 4, 2021 in Council Chambers at the Government Center, 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042. The Budget Address will also be livestreamed on the County’s YouTube Channel and on Facebook.

Will it include a tax hike? My guess is that, for the fourth year in a row, McClure will present a budget that is both balanced and without a tax increase. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Biden and Trump Both Botched Afghan Withdrawal

When news first broke that our withdrawal from Afghanistan had been a disaster, some of you slammed me for failing to speak out. I had my opinion, but wanted to wait until it was more certain what actually had happened. Now that the nation's top generals, including Joint Chiefs Chair Mark Milley have testified before a Senate panel, we know that Donald Trump and Joe Biden both betrayed our counterparts and left without leaving a stable and humane government in their wake. Their foolish withdrawal means that roughly 2,500 American soldiers died for no reason. We also flushed $2 trillion down the toilet. 

Our military adventurism in the Middle East was spawned by the 9/11 attacks. In the days following that terrorism, a rage militaire, as the French call it, dominated our thinking. We had to attack someone, anyone, preferably Muslim,. So we hit Iraq, even though it had nothing to do with  the airline hijackings. Of course, everyone slapped each other on the back and waved flags. Iraq was not enough. We had to go into Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden. We all cheered and waved flags again. Congress was nearly unanimous in its support. 

At that time, I was guest hosting a local radio show and was one of the few voices who spoke out against military involvement. The very people who now condemn the "forever wars" were ready to string me up. I was called unAmerican, etc, 

Before the "shock and awe" started, you might recall that then Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President George W Bush of the pottery barn rule. Once you invade a country and muck things up, you have an obligation to fix it before you leave. Anything less makes your initial actions meaningless and reduces you in the eyes of your allies. 

You break it, you fix it. 

We broke it.  

Time went on and the rage militaire waned, as it always does. The very people who were prancing around and saluting each other now decided it was time to pull out. Never mind that the region was still unstable. Or that we would creating a power vacuum that will be filled by China, Russia, Iran or yet another terrorist group. Or that we are signalling our allies that we are unworthy of their trust. 

This is what happened during the Civil War. Though the Union had vastly more resources than the Confederacy, Robert E Lee knew he could win if he destroyed the political will of the North.  George McClellan ran against Abraham Lincoln on a platform that included a negotiated peace with the South, a peace under which slavery would continue. Lincoln was immensely unpopular because a war that was supposed to last 90 days had gone on for years. A decisive blow in the North would ruin Lincoln politically, Lee hypothesized. 

Lee was correct. But then he lost at Gettysburg while William Tecumseh Sherman ran wild in the South, traipsing all the way to Atlanta without a supply line. 

Unfortunately, there are no William Tecumseh Shermans or Ulysses S. Grants in Afghanistan or Syria. And no Lincoln in the White House. It was hard to justify a war to end something as horrible as slavery in our own country. It's been next to impossible to justify a war to ensure stability (and basic human rights) on foreign soil. 

In February 2020, dealmaker Donald Trump agreed to pull out of Afghanistan by May 2021, freed 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and reduced troop strength from 13,000 to a scant 2,500. Never mind that Taliban attacks continued.       

Now the very patriots who were waving flags and slapping each other on the back when we went into these countries, were waving flags and slapping each other on the back when we decided to pull out. 

Trump's new policy certainly is the view of most Americans. I know mine is a minority view. We expect things to happen in five minutes, and lack the patience of older civilizations like the Chinese, who can wait for centuries. Trump ignored the advice he received from the military, although they will be the first to admit that civilian authority is paramount. 

Biden may disagree with Trump on many things, but he like Trump knows those "forever wars" are unpopular. So he followed through, and as we now know, he also ignored military advice that some troops needed to stay in place to keep the government from collapsing and to guarantee that those who wanted to leave could leave. He may have even lied by denying such advice was given to him. 

No one will ever confuse Biden or Trump with Honest Abe.

So basically, I believe both Trump and Biden botched our withdrawal and have weakened us in the eyes of our allies. If we were really interested in global security, we'd still be there.  

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

NorCo Sample Ballots Now Available

Many residents of Northampton County are Jersey transplants who like to complain at the polls about the county's failure to send them a sample ballot to review before the election. NorCo's Elections Office does, however, have a sample ballot on the county webpage. So have at it. 

Judge Narlesky Cleared For Return to Magisterial District Court

The recent death of Magisterial District Judge Pat Broscius has presented something of a manpower problem among magisterial district judges. Not to worry,. According to the Administrative Office of Pa Courts, retired Magisterial District Judge Jim Narlesky has been cleared to return to the bench. He recently a week-long course in Harrisburg and has been recertified.   

Broscius' term was set to expire this year. Her spot on the Democratic ballot has been filled by Sandra McClure, a former Assistant DA selected by Democratic committeemen in that area. She will square off against Republican Andrew Tupone. 

Monday, September 27, 2021

AMTRAK Derailment in Middle of Nowhere Should Make Enthusiasts Hesitate

AMTRAK would like  to extend its service into the Lehigh Valley with passenger rail from Allentown into the Big Apple. I've told you I have mixed feelings about it. I think before it expands anywhere, it needs to do a better job of managing its website and answering its phone. Try to book a ticket anywhere and you'll see what I mean. It's next to impossible to book on the website, and the phone just rings and rings. This is no fluke. I have experienced this issue several times now. This is what you'd expect from yet another government-subsidized operation. I loved taking the AMTRAK from DC to Pittsburgh, but would hate it if I had to commute that way.  

In addition, I am more than a bit concerned about its fatal weekend derailment in Montana, which appears to have been caused by a faulty switch or bent rail. Switches, in particular, should be inspected daily. A train company unable to answer its phone or manage its webpage 

Should Medicare Include Dental?

According to the U.S. House's 2,465-page (and growing) reconciliation bill, dental coverage will finally be included in Medicare. But not 'till 2028. Isn't dental care health care?

Hokie Joe Wisdom

"Although Covid-19 does spread via the mouth and nose, doctors and scientists now conclude that the greatest risk comes from ASSHOLES." - Hokie Joe

This is, unfortunately, an apt observation. One pulmonologist has told the media states that 100 of his Covid patients have died, and 90% of them were unvaccinated. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

NorCo Controller Tony Bassil Has Passed Away

NorCo Controller Tony Bassil passed away on September 24, losing a long battle with cancer. 

Previously, he served as Easton's Controller. 

He arrived in this country from Lebanon with pennies in his pocket and became a successful businessman.  He his wife, owned and operated The Carmelcorn Shop, an institution in Downtown Easton, since 1996. 

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children and two grandchildren.

Five Questions for 10 NorCo Council Candidates

Last night, I sent five questions to the 10 NorCo Council candidates seeking five seats. I asked for a reply within seven days because I'd like to get their answers out there before you cast your vote. 

Northampton County is a home rule charter government. There are some who'd like to return to a Comm'r form of government, while there are others who think charter needs a major overhaul. Would you vote to authorize a referendum asking voters to approve and elect a home rule charter study commission?

Northampton County has had no salary study done for decades, leading to salary compression between newcomers and long-time county employees. Would you budget for and insist on a salary study?

Northampton County's role in the pandemic was limited, but it made federal funds available to small businesses, renters facing eviction, set up testing and vaccination sites and provided assistance to local municipalities and nonprofits. What is your assessment at how the county responded to this health crisis and what would you do differently? 

Are you confident that elections in Northampton County are fair, accurate and legal? Explain. 

Steve Lynch, the Republican candidate for Executive, attended an attempted coup of Congress on January 6. He has claimed, falsely, that Covid-19 vaccines alter DNA. Steve Lynch promised an angry crowd to get rid of them.  At an August 29 Harrisburg rally, he vowed to physically remove Northampton Area School Directors over a mask mandate. "Forget going onto these school boards with freakin' data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I'm going in with 20 strong men and I'm gonna' give them an option - they can leave or they can be removed."  Do you support Lynch?  


Thursday, September 23, 2021

John Kachmar on Why He's Running For Bethlehem Mayor

From John Kachmar's Mayoral Campaign - John Kachmar spent his life serving his country – first, as a Marine and then as a professional city and county government manager. Today, he sees his hometown in crisis with annual tax and fee increases, the streets in poor condition and basic city services and safety in jeopardy. After nearly 30 years in municipal management, he is concerned about the future of Bethlehem.

“Bethlehem is deeply in debt and has $60+ million in unfunded pension liabilities while planning more spending on elitist projects that don’t advance basic city services. We have an $80 million budget and 800 full- and part-time employees, and we have enough resources to efficiently run our city. But with tax increases three out of the last four years during a pandemic, we are headed for trouble. I am not a professional politician. I am a professional city and county manager. With my many years of executive management of bipartisan city and county administrations, I know that we need transparent and efficient city government to stop this trouble in its tracks.” John said.

Born on Hayes Street on the Southside and raised on Washington Avenue on the Northside, John has roots in Bethlehem and a strong understanding of the needs of the city. John can utilize national best practices in city management, and he has creative solutions to vexing problems. Currently, our city government is engaged in massive, irresponsible spending which will only worsen each year unless it is addressed head-on with efficient practices and less politics. John can bring back fiscal responsibility to city government while considering all the peoples’ needs as it makes decisions to put Bethlehem on a solid footing into the future.

With early voting starting this week, John asks for your vote for Mayor of Bethlehem this year.

To learn more about John, visit www.johnkachmarformayor.com.

About John Kachmar

John is a Bethlehem native who graduated from Notre Dame High School, wounded and decorated combat Vietnam Veteran USMC, and earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Moravian College. He was a city manager and county administrator in several municipalities throughout the United States. During that time, he produced 28 budgets with one tax increase, five tax decreases and the remainder with no tax increases.

Blogger's Note: John is one of two candidates seeking election as Bethlehem's Mayor. His opponent is Willie Reynolds, a teacher who also serves on City Council. If Willie sends any news releases my way, I will publish them as well.  

Hyman to Build & Donate Police Substation in Allentown

Real estate developer Nat Hyman is building and donating a police substation in Allentown. Hyman, who has built 700 apartments in Allentown, will be constructing the 2,000 square foot substation on the corner of Court and Race Streets in The Adelaide building, which he owns.

Hyman said, “ I know it is fashionable to be down on the police, and some of our local politicians want to defund them for their own political agenda, but I am a big fan! I think the APD perform a vital function and are rarely applauded for their efforts and often unjustly criticized.” He went on to say, “I told Chief Rocca that if there is anything I can do, or my company can do, to help them make Allentown safer, I always stand ready to do it.”

This will be a substation in a critical area for the APD. Positioned at the entrance to the NIZ, this new location will provide them with coverage where it is most needed. The new location will be positioned on an upper floor to provide them with a birdseye view of the entire area.

Hyman is in the process of building 180 apartments in The Adelaide building. Across the street, he owns The Tribeca which has 86 apartments. Two blocks away, he owns The Bindery which has 120 apartments and on which he commissioned the large “ALLENTOWN” mural which celebrates the symbols of the City.

Hyman also recently announced that he will be building a freestanding Nathan’s restaurant in front of The Adelaide. It will be the first drive-through, full service restaurant in the downtown area. One of my best friends, a Maronite Catholic priest, has already told me he plans to visit as often as he can, although he's stationed in Mass. 

He is also in the process of building 27 apartments on the corner of Hamilton and Front Streets, called Hamilton Pointe.

“This is a big step in making this area of Allentown a vibrant, thriving and, most importantly, safe neighborhood“ Hyman said.  “I think that often too much of the focus is on the NIZ area and not enough on revitalizing the rest of Allentown. My company is trying to change that.” We want everyone to feel comfortable walking everywhere in Allentown….not just in the NIZ. Only then will our city blossom.”

Mayor Ray O’Connell thanked Mr. Hyman for helping the APD and the City. He said “ Mr. Hyman’s thoughtfulness and generosity are truly appreciated.”

Blogger's Note: Without question, Hyman is one of Allentown's biggest assets. In addition to his business acumen and educational background, he has a deep passion for Allentown, where his father practiced medicine. I believed he would have been a great Mayor. He also has a great, self-deprecating sense of humor But despite reading numerous books on the subject and attending several classes, he stinks at Hearts. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Gerald E Seyfried Sewage Treatment Plant?

Jerry posing with several Council members. Ron
Heckman is to his left
Former Executive Gerald E. "Jerry" Seyfried is a man of many wonders. An avid sportsman, he started an annual banquet for fellow hunters, with the proceeds going to give kids lessons in the outdoors. He's an expert archer who recently won his age group in a contest at Cabella's. (He was the only participant). Most importantly, he is the father of open space preservation in Northampton County. He got the ball rolling, and was expert at leveraging money to start the process that has kept many of our greenfields green.

Like Jerry, former Exec John Stoffa and incumbent Lamont McClure have been forceful advocates of open space. But recognizing that Jerry started it, McClure said he'd like to name the Bear Swamp Archery Complex for Jerry. 

I asked Jerry how he felt about this, and he was quite touched by this gesture. "I'm just glad the County owns no sewage treatment plant or landfill," he quipped. 

Pittsburgh to D.C. On a Unicycle?

In August, I bragged quite a bit about a 335-mile bike trip from Pittsburgh to D,C. along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O towpath. It was actually a blast, even though my bike was stolen an hour after I finished. I'm far from alone.A Lehigh Valley friend is making this trip for the second time as I write this story. I hope she stays dry today. As much as I like to toot my own horn, some people simply amaze me. I told you about one person who rode the entire distance in 24 hours. I've also mentioned a woman who is cycling 3,000 miles (not 335) across the country. And now I want to tell you about Alessandro Pagliai from Lancaster.  He is doing the Pittsburgh to D.C. pilgrimage on, of all things, a unicycle.

One man, One wheel. One gear. 

His ride is a Fat Tire Nimbus Hatchet Unicycle and he's doing 40-50 miles a day.

You may have noticed he has bags and a rucksack. That's because he's camping!  
 

McClure Drops 24/7 DropBox at 911 Center

At Monday's meeting of Northampton County's Elections Commission, nine people objected to a 24/7 drop box at the 911 Center. This decision was made, not by the Elections Commission, but the county administration. But Comm'r Frank DeVito summed up the dissenting views succinctly when he stated the benefits of a  24/7 dropbox are minimal in comparison to the suspicions aroused. "The appearance of corruption is just as important as corruption itself," he warned. Fortunately, someone was listening  to DeVito and the nine voters who attended the meeting.  That person was Executive Lamont McClure. And in response to the concerns raised, he dropped the 24/7 dropbox at the 911 Center. It will instead be open from 8:30 am until 8 pm. 

The reason for the dropbox is to provide secure locations where voters can drop off ballots without having to worry whether a mailed ballot was received. The reason for the extended hours is to accommodate voters who are unable drop off a ballot during regular business hours. 

At yesterday's meeting, Comm'r Maude Hornick complained there should be a drop box in the Slate Belt. The County has placed them in each of the four county council districts. The drop box at the 911 Center is  in Region Four, which does include the Slate Belt. 

The larger question, and one that still needs to be answered, is whether this is the province of the Elections Commission. Since this relates to the conduct of an election, I believe the Elections Commission should decide whether they are needed as well as the hours of operation. I nevertheless commend Executive McClure for listening to the public's concerns and doing something  that is very difficult for an elected official to do - change his mind.  

The dropboxes will be available on October 4. 

If you vote by mail, the Elections Office reminds voters to make sure the ballot is enclosed in the sealed privacy envelope, that the return envelope is signed and dated, that there are no identifying marks or symbols on the privacy envelope and that the ballot is returned to the Election’s Office by 8:00PM on November 2nd.

Ballots that fail to comply with these requirements will be rejected
 
Voters may only drop off their own ballots. I know very well that husbands and wives will innocently bring ballots for both, but this is illegal. Third party return of ballots is prohibited unless the person returning the ballot is rendering assistance to a disabled voter or emergency absentee voter and has a signed “Certification of Designated Agent” form. A copy of this form can be downloaded at vote.pa.gov
 
Counterfeiting, forging, tampering with or destroying ballots is a second-degree misdemeanor pursuant to sections 1816 and 1817 of the PA Election Code. (25 P.S. §§ 3516 and 3517) 
 
Voters can track the status of their mail-in or absentee ballots at vote.pa.gov 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Updated: 24/7 Drop Boxes Come Under Attack at Elections Comm'n


If you vote in Northampton County, you have a number of ways to vote. You can vote in person at your polling place on election day. You can stop at the courthouse for early voting between now and October 23. You can also apply for a no-excuse mail-in ballot (MIB). If you're worried about making sure it gets to the elections office on time, you can drop it off at one of four drop-box locations established by the county and used in the previous two elections cycles. These locations correspond to county council districts. Drop-off boxes have proven to be controversial. A change in the hours at one of these locations has added fuel to the fire.

 The drop-off box at the 911 Center is now going to be open 24/7, instead of during regular business hours. This decision was made by a county administration whose  Executive is seeking re-election. This may contravene the Home Rule Charter, which specifically states that the Elections Commission, and not the Executive, "shall administer the system of elections."

Last week, Northampton County Council member John Cusick was the first to question what's going on. He was told by Administrator Charles Dertinger that these are administrative decisions. Dertinger explained that, since the 911 Center is open 24/7 anyway, people are being allowed to drop off ballots there. The change just conforms to reality, he added. Actually, in past elections, the drop-off box at 911 was limited to regular hours.

Is the 24/7 decision a mistake? That was the concern of nine voters at yesterday's meeting of the Northampton County's Elections Commission.. I had surmised that, after Cusick raised the issue, they would at least be asked to give their stamp of approval to this change. But no such request was made. In fact, the Elections Commission was there only to listen to Solicitor Rich Santee and Registrar Amy Cozze. The only votes they were allowed to take were to approve the minutes and adjourn. 

Many of these voters who spoke brayed away about nonexistent election fraud, but a broken clock can still be right twice a day. They raised legitimate questions concerning the need for and security at a 24/7 drop box. 

"How many ballots do you anticipate at 1 or 2 in the morning?" asked Linda Cole (sp?). She also said that voters should be able to see the surveillance videos. The County has refused to release videos from the courthouse drop-off box. It's unclear whether surveillance videos from other locations have been made available.   

Review of these video would determine whether one voter, who claimed she personally witnessed voters bring in bags of ballots, is accurate. 

Concerns were also raised about who monitors drop-off boxes. Elections Commissioner Frank DeVito was told that is within the purview of the county administration. That's nice, but it fails to answer the question. Is anyone really monitoring? 

Solicitor Rich Santee assured the audience that drop-off boxes are specifically authorized by Act 77 of the Elections Code, though he acknowledged they are called "satellite offices" in the enabling legislation. He added their use was approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a federal district court. 

DeVito shared the concerns of the largely Republican audience. He noted that, before the primary, an attempt to limit drop-boxes to one location failed in a 3-2 vote. He stated the benefit of a 24/7 drop-off box is minimal when compared to the suspicions raised. 

"I think we've come pretty far in making the vote easy," said DeVito. "I think the concerns in the community are more towards security than making the vote easier. ... The appearance of corruption is just as important as corruption itself." 

Lamont McClure ran on eliminating county corruption, by the way. 

DeVito then moved to recommend that the 911 Center drop-off box be limited to regular hours. He was stopped by Solicitor Rich Santee, who incidentally is an administrative appointee. 

Santee advised that the Elections Commission was powerless to make this recommendation because it first needed to be on the agenda. That's nonsense. Santee himself told these Comm'rs they can only make recommendations. If that is so, a toothless recommendation is no "official action" and hence there could have been a vote without violating the Sunshine Act. Moreover, they could ratify their actions at a later meeting. 

If the County had any sense, it would drop the 24/7 designation at 911, and explain in detail what surveillance efforts are made at drop-off boxes. Unfortunately, administrative hubris is creating an issue where there need be none. 

What's going in here exposes yet another shortcoming in our Home Rule Charter. Clearly, the Exec and Council should decide on what voting systems are used since they foot the bill. They also should hire the elections office employees who participate in the pension plan and participate in county benefits. They control the purse strings. But it should be the Elections Comm'n, and not the Executive, who administers the actual election.  That's what both the Charter and Elections Code say. They may have no say in the selection of epollbooks, but should have jurisdiction over any decisions about drop boxes or their hours. That's why it is the Elections Comm'n, and not the Exec, who certifies an elections. If it were merely a toothless recommending body, t would have no such power. Nor would it be able to decide disputed ballots, as it did in the Presidential. 

Elections Comm'n Does Have Authority Over Conduct of Elections: 

Authority for our Home Rule Charter comes from the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law, 53 Pa.C.S. Section 2901 et seq. A home rule government may  "exercise any powers and perform any function not denied by the Constitution of Pennsylvania, by statute or by its home rule charter.  All grants of municipal power to municipalities governed by a home rule charter ... shall be liberally construed in favor of the municipality." 53 Pa.C.S. Section 2961.

This enabling law imposes a limitation on the "registration of electors and the conduct of elections." Those matters "may not be contrary to or in limitation or enlargement of powers granted by statutes." Id. Section 2962(a)(5). Thus, a Home Rule Charter County is unable to allow same day registration or change election dates. Those relate to the conduct of elections and registration of voters. But they should be distinguished from the purchase of equipment or the hiring of employees, which has nothing to do with the actual conduct of an election.   

Northampton County's Home Rule Charter establishes the Elections Commission to "administer the system of elections and the registration of voters under applicable law." HRC, Section 1007.  (emphasis added.) That applicable law is both the Election Code and other provisions of the Home Rule Charter. They must be read in pari materia (together). 

The one requirement the Election Code expressly places on a Home Rule Charter County is the appointment of at least one minority party representative on the Elections Comm'n. The Election Code also gives the Elections Commission authority to make purchases and hire and fire employees, but these provisions have nothing to do with the actual conduct of elections or registration of voters. Thus, a Home Rule Charter County can perform, these functions under other provisions established by law. . 

 Article XIII of the HRC establishes a career service to ensure professionalism in county employment. If the Elections Comm'n were able to hire and fire at its own pleasure, this would create the very kind of cronyism the HRC was intended to AVOID. Thus, the hiring and firing of employees, which is totally unrelated to the conduct of elections, is properly a function of the county's own hiring procedures. 

Article II of the HRC gives County Council, and not the Elections Comm'n, authority over the purse strings. The purchase of a voting system is unrelated to the actual conduct of an election, and hence is the province of County Council. 

To be sure, there are functions that are the sole province of the Elections Comm'n, such as investigations into voter fraud, acceptance of returns and drop boxes.  Purchases and personnel are beyond the scope of this part-time volunteer body selected by party chairs. But the actual conduct of an election is their province, not that of an Exec seeking re-election. 

Updated 9:01 am: In an earlier version of this story, I attributed the concerns raised by Frank DeVito to Dr. Alan Brau. I apologize to both for my error. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish speakers when I watch a meeting on YouTube.  

Monday, September 20, 2021

NorCo to Buy 112 Acres in East Allen For Open Space


As we all know, warehouse proliferation and increased truck traffic are two of the Lehigh Valley's biggest problems. While they provide some jobs, they also destroy local roads, gobble up the time and resources of first responders and detract from our quality of life. There's little a county government can do to slow things down as it has no say in zoning matters. But one thing it can do is buy up land that would otherwise fall prey to land developers. That's precisely what Northampton County did last week. It agreed to purchase 112 acres along the south side of Route 329 in East Allen Tp for $2.69 million, or $24,000 an acre. 

"Some of the views are phenomenal,." noted Parks Director Bryan Cope.  

One of my objections to some open space projects is that it is money wasted buying swamps and cliffs. While these tracts are certainly environmentally sensitive, there is little danger that anyone is planning to build a warehouse on a swamp. 

But this is land that could be developed for warehouses or a residential development. So preserving this land, which is located close to the Nor-Bath Trail and Wayne Grube Park, is an excellent use of county resources. 

Some of this land has been farmed for generations, and that will continue. 

Cope noted that, within the past two years, the county has been able to add two parks to its roster with just over 184 acres. Another 217 acres have been protected, both in rural areas and in more urban environments like Bethlehem and Easton. 

Executives Lamont McClure, John Stoffa and Gerald E "Jerry" Seyfried all made open space a cornerstone of their administrations. John Stoffa actually ran on the very unpolitical promise to raise taxes to fund it. "They elected me anyway," he liked to quip. 

McClure hailed Seyfried as the man who created "all the things we do today" with respect to  open space. 

McClure wants to name the Bear Swamp Archery Complex in Seyfried's honor.

"Oh great, they want to name a swamp after me,"is how Seyfried responded when Council member Ron Heckman informed him.   

Friday, September 17, 2021

McClure is Mandate Hesitant With Vaccine Hesitant

At last night's Northampton County Council meeting, Executive Lamont McClure advised that the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has resulted in a spike of Covid-19 cases at the jail. He indicated 22 of about 500 inmates are currently infected, along with 7 of about 200 staffers and 2 vendors. "The vast majority of these people ... are unvaccinated," he remarked. "People need to get vaccinated and they need to do it now. Vaccinations save lives and they save livelihoods."

McClure noted he has offered COs who agree to a vaccine a $500 bonus. Moreover, there have been 16 vaccination clinics at the jail. But only 38% of the COs have been vaccinated."It's not enough," he said. "We need closer to 100%."

Council member Ron Heckman asked McClure whether he is considering a vaccine mandate at the jail. 

Unlike a mask mandate, a vaccine mandate is pretty intrusive. I'm willing to do all kinds of things if someone asks me. But I hate being told what to do, even when it's necessary.

McClure noted that public health experts uniformly advise that there should be empathy with the vaccine hesitant. He indicated strong-arm tactics are likely to be the least effective. Moreover, the AFSCME union representing COs considers a vaccine mandate a "bargainable issue," and requested the County to provide more education to officers. So the county is now providing prison staff with CDC and state Department of Health reports concerning the vaccines.on a weekly basis. 

There are also legal questions. Although the Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval, the Moderna and J&J vaccines still have only emergency use authorization. It's unclear to me that a person can be forced to submit to a vaccine that has only been approved for emergency use. The courts will almost certainly have conflicting opinions

Assuming that this power exists or that vaccines have full approval, the next question is whether the County has the power to force its workers to submit to a vaccine. It might be able to do so at the jail, but it's really unclear to me,. The state has this kind of plenary power, but Northampton County has no plenary powers. Assuming it can make vaccines mandatory at the jail, the next question is who has this authority. I see nothing in the Home Rule Charter giving the Exec this authority, and it could be that this should come from County Council, which has the residual authority.  

There are many unanswered legal questions, so I can understand why McClure is mandate hesitant to those who are vaccine hesitant. Persuasion is better. At least for now. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Election FAQs

From NorCo Elections Office: The Elections Office is providing a list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Northampton County voters for the General Election on November 2, 2021.

What races will be on the ballot?
·        County-wide offices, candidates for municipal offices, state and magisterial judges. The Elections Office recommends all voters review the ballot on-line before voting. The ballot will be available towards the end of September and can be viewed at: https://www.northamptoncounty.org/ctyadmn/electns/Pages/default.aspx
 
Who can vote in the General Election?
·        All registered voters are eligible to vote in the General Election. October 18th is the last day to register before the election.

How can I see if I’m registered to vote?
·        You can check your registration status at www.vote.pa.gov

Can I vote by mail?
·        Yes. Act 77, which was passed in 2019, allows for no excuse mail-in voting. Applications for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballots are available in the Election’s Office or at www.vote.pa.gov or www.NorthamptonVotes.com

How do I know my application has been accepted or if my ballot has been received?
·        Citizens who sign up on vote.pa.gov will receive emails about their application/ballot status. Voters who applied on paper can track the status of their ballot at vote.pa.gov once the state makes that tool available.

Why did I get an email saying my application for a mail-in ballot has been declined?
·        It’s likely that a duplicate application was filed or the application lacked a signature or a verifiable ID. Contact the Elections Office for assistance at 610-829-6260 or elections@northamptoncounty.org 

When will ballots go out in the mail?
·        Ballots will start being mailed out in late September or early October. Voters can check the status of their ballot on-line at www.vote.pa.gov   
 
I’m worried about getting my mail-in ballot back to the Elections Office on time.
·        To be counted, ballots must be returned to the Election’s Office by 8:00PM on November 2nd. We recommend voters return their ballot as soon as possible or at least get it in the mail by October 22nd. Secure ballot drop-off boxes will be available until 8:00PM on Nov. 2nd.
 
What can cause a mail-in ballot to be rejected?
·        Mail-in ballots can be rejected if:
o  The ballot was not enclosed in a sealed privacy envelope (i.e. a “naked” ballot)
o  The return envelope was not signed or dated
o  There are identifying marks or symbols on the privacy envelope
o  The ballot was not returned to the Election’s Office by 8:00PM on November 2nd.

What kind of stamp should I use to mail my ballot back?
·        Postage on the return envelopes is pre-paid. Voters do not need to add a stamp.

Do I have to return my ballot by mail?
·        No. Ballots can be returned directly to the Election’s Office at the Government Center at 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042 or at one of the secure ballot drop boxes stationed around the County. (Boxes will be installed when ballots become available.)

Can someone else deliver my ballot to the Elections Office?
·        No. PA State Law states that voters must only drop off their own ballot. If you come into the office, you may be asked for your ID. If you drop off someone else’s ballot because they are physically unable to do so, you will be asked for a signed “Certification of Designated Agent” form. A copy of the form can be downloaded at www.vote.pa.gov

Can I vote using Ballot on Demand?
·        Yes, Ballot on Demand will be available in the Election Office at the Government Center starting September 20th until 4:30PM on October 26. You must bring an ID with you to the office.

I requested a mail-in ballot, but now I want to vote in-person at the polls.
·        Voters who prefer to use the machines must bring their mail-in ballots and the return envelope to the polls. The Judge of Election will spoil the ballot and ask the voter to complete a “Declaration to Surrender Ballot” form before allowing them to vote on the ExpressVote XL machine.

Will the polls be open on November 2nd?
·        Yes. As of right now, the Election’s Office plans on staffing all 156 precincts with 315 voting machines.

Have the ExpressVote XL machines been tested?
·        Yes. The machines undergo testing before the General Election on November 2nd. The machines performed very well in the last three elections.

Have any polling locations changed?

·        Bushkill Cherry Hill and Bushkill Center precincts are returning to Butz Elementary School

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

When Anti-Vaxers Die From Covid-19

SorryAntiVaxxer is a website chronicling antivaxxers who died or became very ill after refusing the vaccine. Now I know some of you might enjoy a bit of schadenfreude at their suffering, but I consider these losses tragic and completely unnecessary. If you've refused to get the vaccine so far, please reconsider. 

One of the persons featured is Mark Kuronya, a 55 yo firefighter from Bethlehem. He was an anti-vaxxer who regularly posted memes making fun of the vaccine. One of his last entries joked that Delta was a new strain of bullshit."

It killed him on September 1. He was a loved father and a brave firefighter. 

He was also duped. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Lynch Mob Makes No Move on Northampton School Directors

On Monday night, Northampton Area School Directors met for the first time since anti-masker and anti-vaxer Steve Lynch promised an angry crowd to get rid of them.  At an August 29 Harrisburg rally, he vowed to physically remove them with 20 strong men. "Forget going onto these school boards with freakin' data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I'm going in with 20 strong men and I'm gonna' give them an option - they can leave or they can be removed." I figured you'd all want to know all the juicy details. Did Lynch and 20 strong men go after the geriatrics who sit on the school board? Was there a donnybrook with the Northampton police officers and Northampton County Deputy Sheriffs brought in to keep the peace? How many bodybuilders did School Board Prez Dave "Konkrete" Gogel toss around like ragdolls while keeping his mask fashionably in place?  Here's what happened. 

Nothing. 

No violence. Oh yeah, the school directors were called cowards and tyrants a few times, but no one uttered a profanity or even flipped a bird.

Steve Lynch has constantly told anti-maskers, "Do Not Comply." He has even advised health care workers to choose termination over being forced to submit to a jab of science juice. But there he was, as well behaved as an altar boy, with a mask covering both nose and mouth.  

Oh there was lots of security in place. In addition to several Northampton police officers, I saw six or seven deputy Sheriffs armed with a metal detector at the door. 

"Cell phone, wallet and keys," they barked at those entering the building. None of the anti-maskers and anti-vaxers even peeped, although that's a hell of a lot more intrusive than a stupid face mask. 

Once my Bowie knife and bazooka were taken away, my first priority was knowing where the rest room was located. No, I'm no Michael Corleone. I had no pistol stashed in the can, but needed to squirt my own water gun. When you're 70, you'll understand. Anyway, when I was done, a Deputy was standing at the door, making sure that my business included no mob activity. Fortunately for me, there was no anal probe. 

The meeting was held in the high school auditorium. A huge crowd was apparently anticipated. There were over 100 in attendance, and most of them were anti-maskers out to portray the school board as evil villains. As for the school directors, I saw no evidence that they bullied the audience. This was one of the reasons Lynch gave for needing 20 strong men. They in fact seemed incapable of bullying anyone. 

I've been to Northampton Area High School many times over the years, but my previous trips have been fun. I've been there for basketball games and tournaments. I've always considered it a friendly school where both parents and kids understand that a basketball court or gridiron is actually a classroom where people learn to give it their all, to win graciously or lose with dignity. And they have the best perogies in the world.

So it was hard for me to feel threatened by the lynch mob, which incidentally had a lot of strong women. For reasons that mystify me, they spoke out against the mask mandate. Even if this measure is ineffective, it is designed to keep students and staff from getting sick, with the goal of keeping school open five days a week. Even if you think it's silly, how can you really object to something designed to keep your child healthy?

As I listened to the anti-maskers threaten school board members that "there are 20 strong men here" or call these hapless unpaid public servants "tyrants" and "cowards," I had to wonder whether they really could possibly mean what they were saying or were instead playing highly-stylized roles in what has now become an American form of Kabuki theatre. 

Wearing ridiculous T-shirts and signs, they make exaggerated claims that masks are "child abuse". They openly jeered at the one person who spoke in favor of the mandate but hypocritically complained about their first amendment rights when their time had expired. 

Although there was lots of coverage of this American Kabuki theatre last night, it will be a short run. It is a play that closed on its opening night. 

You see, if you claim you support the law or the Constitution, you necessarily oppose anything that subverts the democratic process. 

Let's say the Supreme Court rules the mask mandate is unconstitutional. That's fine by me. That is the way our system works. I can and often do disagree with judges and elected officials, but that's no justification for physically removing them and elevating one person over the democratic process. That is what oligarchs and autocrats do, not those who believe in a democratic republic. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

A Daring Ride to Jim Thorpe

Some weeks ago, I invited you to join me on a Sunday bike ride to Jim Thorpe and back. Yesterday was that day. A few of you contacted me, but I honestly had no idea who would be at the Cementon trailhead. Believe it or not, at the ungodly hour of 9 am, four of you were there. It was a great day for a ride along the most beautiful stretch of the D&L Trail. It also became quite an adventure. 

Three of the group were only able to do a portion of the ride and turned around after about 10 miles or so. That left me with one other rider, an Air Force captain. My plan was to ride into Lehighton and turn around there instead of going to Jim Thorpe because Tropical Storm Ida did quite a bit of damage to the canal towpath at Weissport. Parts of the towpath were rumored to be littered with frickin' boulders the size of Blue Mountain. I was bike riding, not mountain climbing. 

Unfortunately, the Air Force CPT outranked me, and wanted to ride into Jim Thorpe and have lunch. He had his wife's credit card, and offered to buy, too. I accepted. 

As you go into Weissport along the D&L, you have to turn off and go up this switchback hill. It is well-marked, but easy to miss. I know because I missed it a few times last year. But I was now a guide and had no problem pointing it out to the aviator on a pre-electric Townie. I kind of felt like Davy Crockett. 

After ascending the hill, you cross a bridge that takes you over the Lehigh River and into the bustling metropolis of Weissport. I hopped into the bike lane, cranked my Cannondale Trail 5 into 10th gear, and flew across the bridge, down a hill, and up a hill to the towpath. But when I turned around, the Air Force was nowhere to be found. I actually backtracked a bit and still didn't see him. Eventually, I got a call and he had somehow lost me. He never saw me when I wizzed by, probably because I broke the sound barrier. After providing directions, he caught up with me.

Just as he was doing so, another guy was leaving the tow path on his bike, having come from Jim Thorpe.

"How's the trail"? I asked.

"Don't do it!" warned the cyclist. "There are rocks and washouts everywhere. It's too dangerous."

Now the guy who gave us this warning had just ridden a trail he considers too dangerous. What's more, the bastard had only one arm. 

"If some guy with only one arm can do it, I think we can do it," said my comrade.

"Yeah, but maybe he lost that arm doing the trail," I answered. 

Like idiots, we forged ahead. Sure enough, there were rocks and washouts everywhere. In fact, I saw an arm lying on the path at one point, waving at us. But we continued in true military fashion. I was feeling quite manly, like Hannibal crossing the Alps. Then we were passed by a few 80-year old ladies who jeered at us as they sped by.   

"Eat my dust!" cackled one of them.

Eventually, we made it to Jim Thorpe, the Mecca of Lehigh Valley cyclists  While there, I posed in front of a gigantic black lump that looks amazingly similar to, though slightly smaller than,  my usual morning deposit. It's anthracite coal. 

We ate at Molly Maguires, which fortunately had no Irish cuisine The Air Force dude kept calling it Murphy's, and when I pointed out his error, he said, "You Irish are all alike!"

That's true. We're all quite gifted, except when it comes to food. Seriously, does mutton sound like anything anyone in his right mind wants to eat? But it is better than haggis, a food created by a dare from none other than Satan himself. 

After lunch, the ride back is pretty much downhill. We were tooling over those rocks and washouts when, suddenly, the Air Force dude realized his saddlebag had been knocked off his bike. In it was his wallet, phone, car keys, a few sidewinders and, worst of all, his military ID. If he loses that, it's a firing squad. 

He quickly turned around and found his bag, which was apparently being dragged away by that lone arm.      

From this point, I tried to stay behind him in the event his bag fell off again. 

My main fear along these trails are the rocks and ruts. His are snakes. He hates them, although he admitted to eating a few on some survival mission with the Air Force.

Snakes never bother me. 

Professional courtesy.

We continued along and then, about three miles from the end of our ride, "Pffffffft!"  The Townie's front tire went flat. Some snake no doubt bit his tire, especially after he admitted to eating them. 

Fortunately, he had a tube and was able to repair it in a few minutes. If that were me, I'd probably still be there. I did help with the pump and provided lots of sage advice. 

All in all, the ride was a blast. What's sad is that the leaves are turning color and there will only be a few left before it becomes to cold. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Biden's Latest Steps in War Against Covid-19

Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced a six-pronged national strategy designed to extricate ourselves from the pandemic that refuses to go away. Let's lay them out, one-by-one.

1) Vaccination Mandates. This applies to all employers with 100 or more employees; all federal workers and contractors; all health care workers at Medicare or Medicaid funded hospitals; and large entertainment venues. Any employee who declines a vaccine must be tested weekly. 

2) Booster shots for the vaccinated. These will start September 20.

3) Keep schools open, but safe. Some children are too young for a vaccine. Until then, President Biden is calling for universal indoor masking; social distancing;improved ventilation; and regular testing. 

4) Increase testing and masking. - This, combined with the vaccine, will reduce spread. 

5) Support our economy. - Instead of lockdowns, there will be forgivable small business loans. 

6) Enhancing Covid-19 care. - This will be accomplished by increasing monoclonal antibody treatments by 50%. 

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Guess Who First Mandated Vaccines in US? - George Washington

From Governing:  "Smallpox was attacking [Washington's] soldiers, and given the close quarters at camp, there was little he could do to prevent its spread. As regiments from the south planned to march north, he took drastic action to prevent them from catching the disease once they reached Philadelphia. After catching smallpox as a teenager and living with the scars on his face to prove it, Washington knew how deadly the disease could be.

"On Feb. 5, Washington wrote John Hancock, president of Congress, sharing his plans to “innoculate all the Troops now here, that have not had it,” as well as his intention to “innoculate the Recuits as fast as they come in to Philadelphia [sic].” The general assured Hancock that the army would lose no time while the recruits were in quarantine, as they had to wait while “their cloathing Arms and accoutrements are getting ready” anyway.

"Washington also alerted the nearby state conventions, urging them to inoculate their troops before sending them to winter quarters. He also reminded them: “We intend for the present to keep the Matter as much a Secret as possible, and I would Advise you to do the same.” If the British discovered that the Continental Army was recovering from the inoculation, they would certainly seize the opportunity to strike."

I believe we'd all agree that George Washington, the only person to be unanimously elected President, was a patriot.

Does the LV Need AMTRAK?

AMTRAK stop in Cumberland, MD
AMTRAK and local officials will host a "media roundtable" on Friday to drum up support for its $75 billion plan to expand passenger rail service. This includes a line that will run from Allentown through Bethlehem, Easton and into NYC. Details of its proposal are here. 

I have mixed feelings. Owned by the federal government, it has lost money every year since 1970. Since it has no incentive to compete,it is extremely inefficient. I discovered this the hard way when I attempted to secure a train ticket from D.C. to Pittsburgh in August. The website is far from user friendly, and no one answered the phone when I attempted to call numerous times. I was only able to get a ticket by downloading an app on my smart phone. The train I took arrived two hours late, something I'm told is a common occurrence. 

On the other hand, I loved everything about the ride. It was far cheaper than renting a car or flying. The seats were comfortable and the dining car was a nice touch. If you're in no hurry, it's a great way to travel.  

Also, anyway driving on Routes 22 or 78 during rush hour might seriously consider this alternative. 

What's your take? 

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Lynch Participates in Anti-Mask Protest at a Nazareth Grade School?

Yesterday, a group of about 30 "patriots" assembled outside of Shafer Elementary and Nazareth High School to protest Governor Tom Wolf's statewide mask mandate, according to Lehigh Valley Live. They apparently believe their first amendment rights include the right to hurl profanities at parents and children on the first day of school. One of my readers claims that Steve Lynch, GOP nominee for NorCo County Exec, was there. He forwarded a picture of Lynch posing with several protesters also identified in pictures appearing at Lehigh Valley Live. Interestingly, most of these freedom lovers refused to identify themselves or allow themselves to be quoted.  

What Questions Do You Have For NorCo Council Candidates?

Five at-large NorCo Council seats are up for election this year. The Democratic nominees are incumbents Ron Heckman, Lori Vargo-Heffner, Bill McGee, Tara Zrinski and newcomer Patti Bruno. The Republican nominees are John Brown, Kristin Lora-Soldridge, Nicole Romanishin, John Goffredo and Anna Marie T. Robertone. I'd like to inform you about each of the candidates. To that end, I am going to send each of them a series of questions this week. If they reply, I'd like to run their answers early next week. 

My biggest question is what they think of GOP Exec hopeful Steve Lynch's participation in the January 6 insurrection at the nation's capitol, followed by his threat to bring "20 strong men" to remove Northampton Area School Directors over a mask mandate. Do they believe in the democratic process or not? I believe the second most important area of inquiry is Gracedale, where far too many residents were fatally stricken by Covid. Did the McClure administration do everything it could to protect lives or did it fail?   

Post your questions in the comments and I will forward the best five to the candidates. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Surgical Masks Do Reduce Spread of Covid-19

How about that? Though the protection offered is far from 100%, surgical masks do reduce the spread of Covid-19. That's according to a large-scale study led by researchers at Stanford Medicine and Yale University. 

This study enrolled 350,000 people in 600 Bangladesh villages. People in control villages were offered free masks, were encouraged to use them properly (covering nose and mouth), were reminded (not forced) to wear them when seen unmasked and community leaders also wore surgical masks. The result was an 11% drop in the overall infection rate and a 35% decrease in people over 60.

Interestingly, in these control villages, less than 50% of the population wore masks despite the encouragement. In the control villages, there was also a slight increase in social distancing. The study also found that surgical masks are more effective than cloth masks. 

You can find the data from this study here

Lynch Monetizes Threat at School Directors

Steve Lynch,the GOP nominee for NorCo Exec, spoke at an anti-mask and anti-vax rally in Harrisburg on August 29, and complained to a supportive crowd about a mask mandate imposed by Northampton Area School Directors. 

"Men, where are you? " he asked. "Men, wake up! Smell the coffee! Let's go! Make men great again, right? Make men men again, let's go!" He then went on to say,  "Forget going onto these school boards with freakin' data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I'm going in with 20 strong men and I'm gonna' give them an option - they can leave or they can be removed."

A backlash erupted on social media and even received national news attention. Lynch backtracked on August 30, claiming his remarks were taken out of context and denying any intent to forcibly remove school directors.  His statement prompted Northampton's school district Superintendent to request Deputy Sheriffs to complement local police and beef up security at the next several meetings. 

Lynch's speech, much like his participation in the January 6 insurrection at the nation's capitol, were assaults on the democratic process. Both are attempts to replace constitutional government with mob rule. Over the bloody history of our nation, black families have seen what happens when demagogues like Lynch whip up a crowd into a feeding frenzy. Men are ripped out of their homes and hung. Local democratic governments have been overturned. In Germany, the angry mob began the active persecution of Jews. In France, the mob killed 40,000 people before all was said and done. Instead of democracy, the French ended up with an Emperor. 

After pretending to walk back his threat, Lynch has monetized it. He is now hawking "1 of 20 ... I've got your 6" T-shirts for $30 a pop. The man who never spent a day in the military is offering them in "Army" color, too.

What he really should be selling are hangman nooses.   

Friday, September 03, 2021

UPDATED: County Government Responds to Tropical Storm Ida

I told you yesterday that county government is the forgotten government. No one notices until something like Tropical Storm Ida hits. 

Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure briefed County Council last night on the storm. He noted that, as of 6:30 pm, there were 22 water rescues, but no serious injuries."Fire, EMS and police did a fantastic job keeping our citizens safe," he observed. He noted that the Delaware River in Easton crested earlier and lower than expected. He indicated EMS (Emergency Management Services) are still doing a damage assessment. 

In advance of the storm, McClure beefed up both EMS and the 911 Center. 

While there was no serious bodily injury, McClure indicated that about 25 properties in Freemansburg were hit pretty hard. He stated EMS was in the borough,  assisting residents in the paperwork that must be completed for federal assistance. 

Finally, he observed that parks, which often are next to waterways, were hit very hard.

I rode along Tatamy trail on my return from the courthouse yesterday. The Bushkill Creek, which runs parallel to that trail, had caused no problems, which is  something of a miracle. I have seen less severe storms do far more damage. 

Any NorCo resident with flood damage should report it to their local municipal officials to report damages. If unable, they may use the EMS agency website and complete the online recovery questionnaire at: http://ncem-pa.org/recovery-questionnaire/ The completion of this questionnaire, or any other disaster assessment form, does not guarantee any local, state or federal assistance. This assessment process (including the questionnaire) helps Northampton County to provide FEMA with the information needed to determine if FEMA will provide our county residents with any aid or assistance. Residents are encouraged to document their damages and clean up with photographs.
 
On Thursday September 2nd the Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster “PA VOAD” announced that Crisis Cleanup has activated their call center to be able to take calls from residents affected by Tropical Storm Ida. Crisis Cleanup is a coordination platform used by hundreds of relief organizations and government agencies across the country. Crisis Cleanup cannot guarantee that all calls for service by residents will be performed, as all services are performed by volunteers. Crisis Cleanup documents requests for services such as debris cleanup inside and outside homes, tarping, tree work, and mucking and gutting of damaged homes. Crisis Cleanup cannot assist with social services such as food, clothing, shelter, insurance, or questions about FEMA registration if FEMA aid is approved. Residents in need of cleanup assistance should call toll free 844-965-1386.
  
EMS reminds everyone to stay clear of swollen rivers and streams over the Labor Day weekend.


Lehigh County


In Lehigh County, EMS is encouraging residents to report storm damage that may have been sustained after the remnants of Tropical Storm Ida moved through the area. This will provide both the municipalities and the county a better understanding of the extent of the damage throughout Lehigh County.

 

Lehigh County residents can report their damages to their home/property by completing the survey at: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/2eef2ea1f0f049ce9d5d219f6b8e14ba?portalUrl=https://LehighGIS.maps.arcgis.com.

 

Please feel free to upload pictures of the damage into the survey as well.

 

For more information on the Damage Survey, call the Lehigh County Emergency Management Agency at (610) 782-4600.


Updated 11 am.