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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, October 29, 2021

19,040 MIBs Returned in NorCo

For the  November 2 election, 28,633 registered voters have requested mail-in ballots (MIBs) in NorCo. As of mid-afternoon on Thursday, 19,040 of these MIBs have been returned. That's about 65%, and it's safe to say that about 70% will be returned by Election Day. That  translates into about 20,000 votes. 

These returned ballots so far are predominantly from Democrats. There are 13,588 Democratic ballots, with 3,730 Republicans and 3,129 "others." If the tally of these ballots is the same as in the Presidential, that means 72% of the 20,000 MIBs will go to Lamont McClure in the Exec race. That's 14,400 votes. 

As of October 25, there are 219,447 registered voters in Northampton County. Turnout in the 2017 municipal race was 23%. If turnout is the same this year, that means there will be 50,472 voters total. That translates to 30,000 electors at the polls on November 2.   

I expect thereto be an undervote in the Exec race from Republicans and others who recognize that Steve Lynch is a fringe candidate but are nonetheless unwilling to vote for McClure.  In 2017, about 4,000 of 45,000 voters (9%) cast no ballot in the Exec race. This year, I expect the  undervote in the Exec race to be about 4,500. This means that the winning Exec candidate needs 22,751 votes. 

The 30,000 voters who do so in person are predominately Republican, McClure wins if he can capture 8,351 of these in-person votes. 

A contested Bethlehem Mayoral race will help McClure.

The contested school board races, which will bring out voters who usually only vote in Presidential races, will hurt McClure. 

It appears highly likely at this point that McClure will score a victory. He never took his opponent lightly, defined him early and hammered away. I also suspect that Lynch's looniness will have a trickle down impact on Republican Council candidates who lacked the intestinal fortitude to distance themselves from his undemocratic views. 

Thode: COVID Continues to Decline in Pa.,LV

Steve Thode, our COVID-19 numbers cruncher, notices the latest trends. 

Here are some data relating to COVID:

1) Statewide, the 7-day new case rate peaked on October 8 with 33,764 cases. As of today (October 28), the 7-day new case rate has declined 22% to 26,235;

2) The most recent peak in the 7-day new death rate peaked on October 14 at 522 deaths. As of today (October 28), the 7-day new death rate has declined 16.7% to 477 deaths;

3) In toto, 31,292 Pennsylvanians have died from COVID. Of that total, 45.9% (14,374) have been among residents of Long-Term Care Facilities;

4) Locally, NorCo has been consistently reporting more new COVID cases than Lehigh County in recent months. Since early July, NorCo has reported 8,534 new cases while, over the same time period, Lehigh County has reported 8,433 new cases. Overall, since the beginning of the of the pandemic, NorCo has reported 92% as many cases as Lehigh County. This is somewhat surprising since, according to the 2020 census, Lehigh County has 16.4% more population than NorCo (374,557 v. 312,951).

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Dana Grubb Expected to Endorse John Kachmar in Bethlehem Mayoral Race

In the Spring primary for Bethlehem Mayor, Willie Reynolds defeated Dana Grubb for the Democratic nomination.  John Kachmar ran unopposed as the Republican candidate. 

In Lehigh County, Willie Reynolds garnered 1,271 votes. Kachmar (664) and Grubb (779) combined beat Willie.  

In Northampton County, Willie pulled in 2,692 votes compared to Kachmar (2,349) and Grubb (1,643). Combined, they beat Willie. 

If Grubb supporters vote for Kachmar instead of Reynolds, Kachmar wins. 

This morning, Dana Grubb will be announcing his support for Kachmar. 

This could be a game changer for a Republican in a Democratic City. As Grubb;s vote tally indicates, many Democrats are centrists or are sick and tired of perpetual tax increases accompanied by deteriorating city services. 

“Being Mayor of Bethlehem should be about managing a city, not about playing politics, particularly when it comes to development. It’s why I chose to run for Mayor in the Democratic primary election and why I am supportive of John Kachmar’s run for Mayor of Bethlehem,” Grubb said.

 “John’s life experiences as a U.S. Marine in Vietnam, Lehigh County administrator, Manpower executive director and in city and county governments elsewhere, lend themselves to the management skills that I’ve felt Bethlehem needed from the start.

“John’s family lived in the same northeast Bethlehem neighborhood that my family did when we were growing up. He graduated from Moravian College in my same class. His late father ran the City’s tax office at the same time I was hired by the city, and his father was a fair and honest man, just as John is.

“I believe it’s time to return Bethlehem’s city government to one of practicality, common sense, integrity and putting the taxpayers first without the favoritism both inside and outside of city hall that have become the norm. It should be about service and fairness, not political opportunism, and that is why I am supporting John Kachmar for Mayor,” Grubb said. 

Kachmar is not just a combat veteran of Vietnam, but is a wounded combat veteran. Unlike the flag wavers who prance around in bulletproof vests and pretend assault rifles, Kachmar is an honest-to-goodness patriot. He put his life on the line for his country. 

Now this little detail about John may mean little to you. It certainly meant nothing to The Morning Call. That paper omitted it from its profile of Kachmar.. But I can tell you it means something to veterans. It certainly meant something to my Dad. 

You see, my Dad was a wounded combat veteran of WWII. He was captured during the Battle of the Bulge and marched off to a POW camp in Dresden. After a beautiful city known as the Vienna of the East was firebombed by the Allies, American POWs were about as popular as bloggers.. That's when a goose-stepping Superman used his rifle to beat the shit out of my father. 

My Dad had company. He was captured with another "intelligence scout" by the name of Kurt Vonnegut. This was before he became the famous novelist. They became lifelong friends.  

My Dad never discussed the war with me or anyone in my family. When Kachmar was a college student doing a paper about my father and novelist Kurt Vonnegut, my Dad reluctantly met with him.  Kachmar began probing him about what it was like, and my Dad snapped at him for asking about something he could never understand. 

That's when Kachmar told him that he had seen action himself and had been wounded. 

Things changed after that. They became good friends. One night, Kachmar was invited to join my Dad for a few drinks. When he picked him up, Vonnegut was in the car. That trio visited more than a few drinking establishments, from what I've gleaned.    . 

In addition to being a wounded and decorated combat veteran, Kachmar is a graduate of Notre Dame Green Pond and 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, 5 tax decreases and the remainder with no tax increases.

Tonight, at 7 pm, Kachmar and Reynolds will square off in a debate broadcast by PBS39 and WLVR 91.3. 

I believe Willie and his incoming City Council are completely out of touch with most Bethlehem residents, from the small businesses along Main Street to the blue collars and Latinos that make up most of the City. Who on earth pushes a tax hike in the middle of a pandemic? Willie Reynolds. I've actually lost count of the number of tax hikes he's supported.

Then he wonders why the city has an affordable housing crisis. 

Landlords raise rents when taxes go up

I support John Kachmar in this race, and am looking forward to listening to tonight's debate. Willie will stand for the woke community. Kachmar will stand for common sense. 

Is Phil Armstrong in Trouble?

While former Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, he was a vicious campaigner. He never lost a race. "There's only two ways to run, hard or unopposed," he once told me. Lehigh County Exec Phil Armstrong is also a nice guy. So nice that I call him Grandpa. I love his folksy weekly broadcasts, which remind me of Mayor Tommy Shanks. But unlike Dent or his counterpart in Northampton County, Phil has failed to do what he needs to insure victory on November 2. He's raised nowhere near the amount of money an incumbent Exec can garner. He's failed to point out the numerous negatives in his Republican opponent, Glenn Eckhart, who originally was running simply because no one else wanted the job. And now, Phil could lose. 

Democrats have virtually no ground game in Lehigh County. Republicans, in stark contrast, are energized by Biden's blunders and a face mask mandate at area schools. Turnout is expected to be heavy in certain school board races like Southern Lehigh, with write-in candidates in addition to those who are on the ballot. On top of that, the 911 lawsuit appears to have energized Latino activists. Though the lawsuit appears to be groundless, it's never a good thing when Democratic activists call for your resignation the week before an election. It's hardly a good thing when they complain about lack of representation in the county a week before an election in which the only two Latino Commissioner candidates just happen to be Republicans.   

Phil appears to have made the mistake of taking his opposition lightly and it might cost Lehigh County an excellent Exec. 

In fairness, I thought Phil made that mistake the first time he ran. The weekend before the election, I caught him sitting at a good government conference in Northampton County, instead of knocking on doors and making calls in Lehigh.

"Are you out of your mind?"I asked. He smiled and petted an imaginary dog. He went on to win big, but that was in a climate in which Democrats were energized. It's the opposite this time. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Who Do You Like in the Lehigh County Judge Race?

Six candidates are on a holy quest for the black robe. They seek three seats on Lehigh County's Court of Common Pleas that will open up this year. Democrats Zach Cohen, Rashid Santiago and Maraleen Shields and Republicans Tom Caffrey, Tom Capehart and Dave Ritter are the candidates. 

The courts of common pleas are the trial courts, both civil and criminal, in Pennsylvania. Judges are elected for 10-year terms. The salary this year is $188,292, and it automatically goes up each year with the consumer price index. When a judge's 10-year term is up, he or she can just stand for retention. 

The candidates were all rated by the Lehigh County Bar Ass'n. Cohen, Shields, Caffrey and Capehart are all "highly recommended." Ritter got a "recommended" while Santiago was tagged with a "not recommended," basically because he failed to submit a sample of his legal writing for the bluebloods to scrutinize.  

His dog ate it. 

Fortunately, the aristocrats do not decide on who should sit on the bench. They'd love to take that burden from you and appoint their favorites. But fortunately, the people still elect judges.  

I live in NorCo and have no say. But if the bluebloods can tell you who they like, so can a black Irishman. 

Here are my three choices:

1) Maraleen Shields. - Not 'cuz she's black. Not 'cuz she's a woman. Not 'cuz she's bilingual. Not 'cuz she - like me- is a highly conditioned, well-trained athlete Because she's the leader of the pack. She stands head and shoulders above the other lawyers running in terms of raw ability. She's a shareholder at Fitzpatrick, Lentz and Bubba, one of the most elite law firms in the Lehigh Valley,. She double-majored in college, attended law school on a full scholarship,where she was a member of the Law Review. You only get that if you know what you're doing. She graduated magna cum laude.

Even more compelling than her professional and educational prowess is her personal background. He father died when she was in fourth grade,and she and her sister were raised by her mother in a small town outside of Pittsburgh. She came up hard. Instead of relying on handouts, she worked her way through college and emerged with a double major and no student debt. 

She might be the best judicial candidate I've ever seen. 

2) Tom Caffrey, Like Maraleen, Tom comes from a blue collar background in Allentown's first ward. His dad worked at General Electric while his mom was a seamstress. On Sundays, he attended Immaculate Conception Church. He still does. He graduated from Allentown Central Catholic, and after college at PSU and law school at Dickinson, he returned to the Lehigh Valley  and has been practicing law for 36 years. 

Unlike most lawyers, Caffrey has experience on both the civil and criminal side of the ledger. He is also an experienced municipal lawyer, and has served as Lehigh County Solicitor since May 2020. 

3)  Zac Cohen. - Like Caffrey, Zac is Allentown born and raised. Like Maraleen, he was a double major when he attended college. He's practiced as a trial lawyer for 15 years, handling both civil and criminal matters. 

He's a second-time candidate. Many lawyers lose their first race but go on to win in their second try. 

All three of these lawyers have done considerable pro bono work over the years. 

I by no means am trashing the other three candidates. I am merely saying who I like. 

WHYY Has Detailed Voters' Guide on Appellate Court Candidates

You might be struggling with the choices for Pennsylvania's Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts. Nobody local is running. Fortunately, WHYY has a detailed voters' guide on  these appellate races. This includes a description of each court, each candidates and cases being considered. 

Have You Considered a Bullet Vote?

In the Northampton County Council  Lehigh County judge and Commonwealth Court judge election, there will be more than one winner when the polls close. There will be five winners on Northampton County,  three new judges in Lehigh and two victors in the Commonwealth Court.  This is where what is known as the bullet vote comes into play. 

Bullet voting is a tactic used in multi-winner races. For example, on Northampton County Council, you may vote for up to five candidates. But let's say you really like one of them. If you vote for that person only, you have effectively given him (or her) five votes. In Lehigh County, if you vote for just one of the candidates, you will have given her (or him) the equivalent of three votes. In the Commonwealth Court, a vote for one candidate is the equivalent of two votes.  

In smaller areas like the county races, a bullet vote has much more impact. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Why I Voted for All Five Democratic County Council Candidates

If you've received the mailers from Republican County Council candidates, you might notice that they were a tad harsh on Democratic Council member Tara Zrinski. You may also notice that the source cited most often for these criticisms is this very blog. And with good reason. I've been highly critical of her on Council and repeatedly took her to task for her failure to make the transition from environmental activist to county legislator. She repeatedly injected Council in matters where it had no business and was clearly out of touch with the pulse of most of the people she represents. I was particularly irked by her plastic straw ban, which was not really a ban and does nothing to solve increasing pollution or our climate.  Believe it or not, I voted for her. In fact, I voted for each of the five Democrats - Patti Bruno, Ron Heckman, Lori Vargo-Heffner, Bill McGee and Tara Zrinski - in this race. Let me explain why. 

Ordinarily, I split my ballot. I often vote for more Republicans than Democrats. And to be honest, I've been harsh with each of these five Democrats. But when it comes to transparency and accountability, there simply is no contest. I had to vote for them. Republican Council members gave me no choice. 

In advance of this election, I sent a questionnaire to all of the 10 candidates seeking a seat on NorCo Council. I timed it so I could publish their answers just as mail-in ballots (MIBs) were being sent to you. I had no problem making contact with the Democratic Council candidates. They have all publicly posted email addresses and even phone numbers so they could be contacted. With Republicans, it was much more difficult/ While John Goffredo and Annamarie Robertone posted their email addresses, the others were more private. I had John Brown's private email address from when he was Executive, but was forced to use Facebook to try to contact Kristin Lorah Soldridge and Nicole Romanshin. I did make repeated attempts with them all and heard nothing. Not one of them even had the courtesy to acknowledge receiving the questionnaire. 

I received replies from all five Democratic candidates within a week of sending out my questionnaire. This is by no means unusual. Over the past four years, I've sent each of the four incumbents several nastygrams on various issues they were considering. In all cases, I received replies within a day or two. I know they disliked what I was telling them, but their willingness to respond reflects both transparency and accountability. Those qualities matter more to me than a stance on a given issue. IfI only voted for someone who agrees with me, I'd be voting for no one.

In the case of Tara Zrinski, she was a very vocal advocate of what I consider the fringe left of the Democratic party. But I think she learned from her loss in the State Rep race to Ann Flood. She was a bit more subdued. She began addressing county issues. She spoke up for county employees, who are underpaid and, in some cases, overworked    

What surprised me most was her willingness to meet with residents of the Oliver Border House. Those are mostly senior residents and mostly Republican. But when they complained about living conditions, rightly or wrongly, Zrinski made it a point to visit with them several times and brought the matter to County Council. She did her job. 

I've been critical of Vargo-Heffner because she can be snarky. That might be a good quality in a blogger, but not in a Council member. But recently, when Peg Ferraro got verbally attacked in the back room by another Council member, it is Vargo-Heffner who called Peg several times to make sure she was OK. That's a good side of Vargo-Heffner about which I knew nothing. 

As for Ron Heckman, he is one of a handful of people who understands county government, along with giants like Frank Flisser, Jerry Seyfried and Ron Angle. He is one of trhe few who knows precisely how a County Council van be a check on the Exec.

Bill McGee has actively inserted himself into a number of important roles, especially with economic development and the Lehigh Valley Planning Comm'n. He is quiet but very dedicated. He drafted a responsible contractor ordinance that survived a challenge ion federal court. He is an advocate for a living wage, and hopefully will push this for county employees. 

Patti Bruno is a first-time candidate but has experience in managing several campaigns. She has answered every email sent to her.    

The most important reason why I voted for each of the five Demoratic Council candidates is that they each condemned the fascism represented by Steve Lynch. He actually threatened to bring 20 strong men to remove Northampton School Directors simply because they refused to do his bidding. 

Before he was hung by Adolph Hitler, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. ot to act is to act.” In refusing tio condemn Steve Lynch's threatening remarks to a democratically elected school board., Republican Council candidates were silent  in the face if evil. 

NorCo GOP Candidate Steve Lynch Makes Last Minute Attacks From Gracedale

Northampton County's GOP Exec candidate, Steve Lynch, took his campaign to the grounds of Gracedale on a balmy Monday afternoon. He spoke in front of an admiring throng of about 40 supporters who brought American and "Steve Lynch" flags. Although he failed to recognize them, his rally was also attended by former Exec John Brown and County Council hopeful Annamarie Robertone. 

The news conference was supposed to be about the terrible conditions at Gracedale, but as is his habit, Lynch wandered into other areas during the course of his news conference, at which he refused to accept questions from me.

Gracedale. - The County owned nursing home is under a magnifying glass. It receives plenty of oversight by a citizens' advisory panel, County Council and the state Department of Health, which investigates all complaints., Lynch is nevertheless calling for yet another investigation.  

The picture painted by Lynch and Stacy Soldo, a terminated former housekeeper, is one of neglect and elder abuse, with residents lying in their urine for two hours while one hapless nurse's aide handles 50 residents. 

Understaffing is undoubtedly an issue at Gracedale. It has been discussed in numerous meetings and Administrators have pulled out all the stops to recruit more people. 

The picture painted by Lynch and Soldo, while disturbing, is largely fictional. What Lynch failed to note, most likely because he does not know it, is that understaffing became an issue at Gracedale because former Exec John Brown imposed a de facto hiring freeze combined with reduced benefits.  That's also when the home dropped to a one-star rating (much below average).     

JohnBrown would like to return as a member of County Council.
Soldo made it sound as though one aide for 50 residents is the norm. That's simply untrue. Soldo also complained about an uncaring Administrator who is getting paid to work from home. That's also untrue. Jennifer Stewart King, Gracedale's Administrator, started at the bottom as a nurse's aide. She worked her way up to become Administrator. She might or might not be the best Gracedale ever had, but is definitely the hardest worker. She often sleeps on a couch there. When the home is short on staff, she will herself participate in feeding and caring for residents, including changing their bed pans.

Soldo has yet to explain why she was fired. It is pretty clear to me that she bears a personal grudge against McClure and Jennifer Stewart-King. Also, it needs to be pointed out that Soldo is basically a janitor. She and has no expertise on administration or nursing. 

Political interference at Gracedale. -  Lynch also complained about a letter that Jennifer Stewart-King wrote to residents when Republican Council members sent a flyer depicting Gracedale as "crumbling  off a cliff." This scared numerous elderly residents and Stewart-King was merely assuring them and their loved ones that there's no need for alarm. She has every right to protect the home's reputation. 

Ironically, Lynch calls for an investigation into electioneering from a county-owned facility while he himself was electioneering on the grounds of that very same facility. 

Republican Council mailers in Gracedale shredder. - Lynch claimed that he has video proof that mailers by Republican Council candidates are being put in the shredder before being seen by residents. Obviously, any attempt to interfere with the mail is both an election law violation and federal crime. But Lynch provides no details. No names, no dates, no photos and no video. It is unclear to me whether these were found in a shredder after a resident read and discarded the mailer.   I know I toss most of the mailers I get. 

Usurping the Elections Comm'n. - Lynch seems to think the Elections Comm'n is entitled to hire whomever it wants and buy whatever it wants and the county has no say. This is just wrong. County Council has the power of the purse, not the Elections Commission. The Home Rule Charter establishes a career service, not the Elections Comm'n. Lynch seems to think that the Elections Comm'n should operate as an unelected and independent fiefdom, accountable to no one.That is simply ridiculous. 

The Elections Commission administers the election, but does so in accordance with other laws. So while I do think that drop box times are their call, the purchase of any equipment and the hiring of personnel is the County's function. 

I agree there are ambiguities in the Home Rule Charter, but that has nothing to do with McClure.  

Illegal Immigrants. - Lynch referred to the bail revocation hearing last week of a Honduran immigrant facing felony assault charges. Bail was revoked and the Defendant is in jail, incidentally. During that hearing, Lynch claims that the Ass't DA advised that the McClure administration refuses to "report" this matter to ICE. 

I believe the Assistant DA likely made no such representation. I'd have to see the transcript, something Lynch failed to produce. 

Moreover, I am unaware of any DA who is bound by what an Executive advises. Certainly not Terry Houck, who is definitely his own man. 

Here's what I do know. ICE agents had an increasingly nasty habit of ambushing illegal aliens when they appeared at the courthouse and carting them off. This interferes with and has a chilling effect on an individual's willingness to come to a courthouse and cooperate with law enforcement.  In fact, the practice of making civil immigration arrests at the courthouse has been banned by the Department of Homeland Security.  

McClure's policy on civil immigration arrests is contained in an executive order from 2020. It simply provides that no civil immigration arrest can be made unless a warrant is first provided to the Sheriff and jail. This is perfectly reasonable. ICE agents are almost always in plain clothes. If an arrest is attempted and Deputy Sheriffs and corrections officers know noting about it, they could get the wrong idea and hurt the ICE agent. or an innocent member of the public.  

Lynch accused McClure of refusing to keep Defendants when requested to do so by ICE. As a you can see from McClure's Executive Order, it specifically provides that an immigrant must be held if a detainer is lodged. 

When Lynch was done, he walked towards his admirers. "Good job!" gushed Council hopeful Robertone to Lynch. 
Not if you know anything about county government. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Case Against Steve Lynch

As the November 2 election draws nigh, some of you have already voted by mail or in-person at the elections office. Others of you are still considering your choices. In Northampton County, the most important election is between incumbent Lamont McClure and fringe candidate Steve Lynch. I understand some among you, especially Republicans, are unwilling to vote for McClure because he's a Democrat.  That, however, is no reason to waste a vote on Lynch. Here's my list of reasons why he's simply unfit for public office:

1) Participated in an attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. -  In the days leading up to the January 6 insurrection, Lynch linked to a QAnon meme suggesting Trump was preparing to punish his enemies. "They will all die," it boasts. Lynch himself added that he was "praying" that "criminals like Killary and the like receive devastating justice." He claimed it was a peaceful protest but wore a bulletproof vest that day. "This is war!" he said. He was perfectly willing to participate in  a failed coup of our democratically elected representatives in Congress. He received a visit from the FBI over his role that day. No charges have been filed. ... Yet. 

2) Threatened yet another coup of the Northampton Area School Board. - After participating in the failed coup at the US Capitol, Lynch threatened to stage yet another one. This time, his target was Northampton Area School Directors who dared impose a Facebook mandate out of a strange desire to keep kids safe. Lynch was having none of that!

"Men, where are you?" he roared during a speech in Harrisburg. "Men, wake up! Smell the coffee! Let's go! Make men great again, right? Make men men again, let's go!" He then described his plan. "Forget going into 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." It's abundantly clear he was calling for coercion. Why else would he need 20 strong men to accompany him?  He backtracked only because of wide public backlash 

3) He's divisive.- "I unite people," Lynch recently told the Not-So-Excellent Conservative Network. 

Here's what he's said about Democrats. "You people are a cancer to society and would be ashamed of yourselves if you had a conscience."

He's also complained Wednesday about "your typical Republican politician who just kowtows because they're concerned about the media, concerned about this or concerned about how they look  "

Uniter? Here's how he invited the press to a news conference he's holding today. "To all the local media who troll my page and hang on every word I say,make sure you make it out to my news conference ... ." 

4) He's financially irresponsible. - There are currently two open judgments filed against him:

Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC v. Stephen F Lynch, 2018-J-3169, filed 8/23/18, for $1,950.81.

Capital One Bank USA NA v, Stephen F Lynch, 2013-J-6193, filed 6/21/13, for $5,627.83.

He has also faced two foreclosure actions on his Northampton County home. One of them went to execution until he managed to catch up.

5) Has no mainstream support, even among fellow Republicans.- I'm unaware of any Republican member of Northampton County Council who has endorsed Lynch. I also see no endorsement by the Republican members in the LV delegation to he State House  or State Senate. Even more telling there are no donations.   

6) Does not vote. - .Since he first registered to vote in 2008, he's failed to vote in more than half of the elections. He's only voted three times in a municipal election.  He failed to vote at  all in the Executive's race in 2017, 2013 or 2009. Lynch likes to call himself a patriot. Patriots vote. 

7) Military at polling place. - In violation of both state and federal law, he wants to station troops at polling places on election day. How a county Exec can call up troops is anyone's guess.  

Friday, October 22, 2021

On Election Eve, Lynch Supporters Complain to Council About Gracedale

Unlike most nursing homes, Gracedale is publicly owned and gets quite a bit of oversight. In addition to the Administration on the campus, Executive Lamont McClure has taken a great deal of interest in the nursing home. He has often said he considers it a "moral obligation.":On top of that, there's a Gracedale Advisory Board made up of several citizens. Before the pandemic, residents were sometimes brought to meetings. Gracedale's Administrator reports to County Council's Human Services Committee once a month, both in writing and in person. If the news is bad, and sometimes it is, you read about it here. When family members are upset about visitation during the pandemic, they've had no qualms about making their concerns known to County Council. Finally, this home is under the state Department of Health's microscope. In addition to responding to anonymous complaints, health officials inspect the facility every year. It is very much in the public spotlight, as it should be. Unfortunately, at last night's County Council meeting, two disgruntled ex-employees complained about the terrible conditions at the home. They've never been to Council before. They waited for the last public meeting before the election. As you might have guessed, both are ardent Steve Lynch supporters.

The first complainer was Tonys DiPierdomenico. She quit over what she called the "unauthorized vaccine," even though there's no mandate in place. Then she tried to rescind her resignation, but Gracedale administrators said no dice. "You lost one of the best assets Gracedale ever had," she told Council. "I wasn't good enough because I didn't take the vaccine."  

She concluded by saying,  "I've been doing a lot of campaigning for somebody. God help us, We need him."

Obviously, she was there to play politics, not save Gracedale. .

The second disgruntled ex-employee was Stacy Soldo. She referred to an email she received from a nurse complaining about being short-staffed. It's impossible to know whether this complaint is true because the person who actually sent the email was not there to back her up.   

"I've never seen it this bad," said Soldo. Actually, she hasn't seen it at all.

She was fired as a Gracedale nurse. 

Perhaps she can explain why. 

In sever mailers, Republican County Council candidates have complained about conditions at Gracedal. in several mailers. That's certainly fair. The home, one of few that will accept nearly everyone, is currently rated by Medicare at just two stars, which is below average. They forgot to mention the home was rated at just one star when County Council candidate John Brown was Exec. That's OK. They are making political points. But unlike the Lynch mob, they understand the difference between governing and politics.      

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Bucky Szulborski Sole Applicant For NorCo Interim Controller

Richard "Bucky" Szulborski, who served on Bethlehem City Council for 12 years and as NorCo's Interim Controller for two years, is poised to make a return to county government. He was the sole applicant for the vacancy created by the unfortunate death of Tony Bassil. 

Szulborski is a Democrat.

"This is deja vu all over again," he said at yesterday's meeting of County Council's Personnel Committee. 

Council member John Cusick, who welcomed Szulborski back, nevertheless raised a question about just how long the appointment should last under the County's Home Rule Charter. Is it until the next municipal election is 2023? Is it next year's primary? Should there be a special election?
Although the prevailing view and practice is that the appointment is good until the next municipal election,  the Charter itself is unclear. 

Council members Bill McGee and Lori Vargo-Heffner both complimented Szulborski for "stepping up." Vargo-Heffner added, "There've been a couple of great Bucky's who stood up in October. One was Dent," referring to former Yasnkee Bucky Dent. 

County Council will vote on Szulborski's appointment tonight. 
Szulborski has served on various organizations, including Camelot for Children, the Catholic Youth Organization, the Sun Inn Preservation Association, the Bethlehem Recreation Commission, the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission and the Bethlehem Area Public Library Board.

Szulborski and I sometimes had lunch together in his previous stint as Contoller. We managed to solve the world's problems in 15 minutes every day. 

Bonhoeffer‘s Theory of Stupidity

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian and philosopher who had the misfortune of being an anti-Nazi in Nazi Germany. His views cost him his life. As he sat in a prison cell waiting for the hangman''s noose, he contemplated the mob mentality that permeated Nazi Germany, and that we all witness in the extremes of both parties today. This is his theory of stupidity.

"Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed- in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

"If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is in essence not an intellectual defect but a human one. There are human beings who are of remarkably agile intellect yet stupid, and others who are intellectually quite dull yet anything but stupid. We discover this to our surprise in particular situations. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them. We note further that people who have isolated themselves from others or who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals or groups of people inclined or condemned to sociability. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem. It is a particular form of the impact of historical circumstances on human beings, a psychological concomitant of certain external conditions. Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence, and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.

"Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity. Here we must come to terms with the fact that in most cases a genuine internal liberation becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it. Until then we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person. This state of affairs explains why in such circumstances our attempts to know what ‘the people’ really think are in vain and why, under these circumstances, this question is so irrelevant for the person who is thinking and acting responsibly. The word of the Bible that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom declares that the internal liberation of human beings to live the responsible life before God is the only genuine way to overcome stupidity.

"But these thoughts about stupidity also offer consolation in that they utterly forbid us to consider the majority of people to be stupid in every circumstance. It really will depend on whether those in power expect more from people’s stupidity than from their inner independence and wisdom."

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Morning Call Loses Its County Reporter

Tom Shortell, a Morning Call reporter, covered both Lehigh and Northampton County. He was also the paper's "Road Warrior." Today is his last day. Here's what he has to say on his way out the door.

"[N]ewspapers are in dire shape. Years of buyouts and layoffs have pushed out most senior reporters and editors. That leaves more work for less experienced staff to handle, and communities and beats get abandoned. I will be the 10th full-time reporter or editor to leave the Morning Call since the end of June. Only one of those positions has been filled so far.

"Our communities are poorer for it. Governments perform more openly and appropriately when there's a watch dog keeping tabs on them. While most have a few dedicated citizens who attend meetings and watch their government in action, these people rarely have the resources or time to dig deeply if things are amiss."

Neither do the reporters who are still there.

He's leaving journalism to start a second career. I wish him the best.

NorCo's Elections Office Offers Voting Tips

From Northampton County's Elections Office: -  On November 2, 2021, Northampton County’s 156 precincts will be fully staffed for voters who prefer to cast their ballot on the ES&S ExpressVote XL machine. It is recommended that voters wear comfortable shoes and bring a chair if standing for long periods is difficult. The County requests that everyone wear a mask while at the polls out of respect for the poll workers. All poll workers will wear PPE and each precinct will be supplied with hand sanitizer and tape to mark off spaces for social distancing.

In-Person Voting

Polls will be open from 7:00AM – 8:00PM. Voters will check in at the registration table on an E-poll book by giving their name. The E-poll book will indicate if the voter is eligible to vote and if they are at the correct polling place. If so, they will sign in on the touchpad.
Voters who applied for a mail-in ballot and have turned it in are not eligible to vote at the polls.
Voters who applied for a mail-in ballot, but have decided they’d rather cast their vote on the machine must give the ballot and the return envelope to the Judge of Elections. After spoiling the ballot, the Judge will have the voter sign a form. Only then will they be permitted to vote on the ExpressVote XL.
Voters who applied for a mail-in ballot, but do not have their ballot or the return envelope with them will be given a provisional ballot. The Elections Board will verify that the voter did not vote by mail before the provisional ballot can be counted.
An instructional video for voting on the ES&S ExpressVote XL is available online at NorthamptonVotes.com
Casting a mail-in ballot
The Elections Office reminds voters to carefully follow the instructions included with their ballot. “Naked” ballots—those which have not been enclosed in the inner secrecy envelope—will not be counted. The voter should use black or blue ink and must sign and date the back of the return envelope. Mail-in ballots will be declared void if there are any identifying marks on the ballot or secrecy envelope.
If submitted by mail, the ballot must be received by 8:00PM on November 2ndPostmarks will not be considered. All return envelopes include postage, voters do not need to add a stamp.
On Election Day, mail-in ballots can be returned directly to the Elections Office located on the Lower Level of the Government Center at 669 Washington Street, Easton by 8:00PM, or at one of the County’s four secure ballot drop off boxes. The drop-off boxes have different closing times on Election Day. Under Pennsylvania law, voters are only permitted to return their own ballots.
 ·        Bethlehem City Hall Rotunda– 10 E. Church Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018- City Hall is closed on Election Day but the ballot drop-off box will be available in the Rotunda from 7:00AM -  8:00PM
·        Northampton County 911 Center – 100 Gracedale Ave. Nazareth, PA 18064 – open from 8:30AM - 8:00PM
·        Human Services Building – 2801 Emrick Blvd. Bethlehem, PA 18020 – open from 8:30AM - 7:00 PM
·        Rotunda of the Government Center – 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA 18042 – open from 8:30AM - 8:00PM

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Math Favors McClure

Popular belief is that the advent of MIBs has increased elections turnout. Studies at Stanford and the National Academy of Sciences, however, disagree. They conclude that actual turnout is about the same one could expect with an in-person election. Their conclusion is certainly supported by Northampton County's measly 20.87% turnout in this year's primary. Despite all the work that has gone into MIBs and drop boxes to make voting more convenient, the number of people voting has only marginally increased. While actual turnout is apparently unaffected by MIBs, there certainly has been a change in the way voters exercise their franchise. Democrats prefer to vote by mail, while Republicans prefer voting in person. In the 2020 presidential, 53,481 of 74,125 MIBs went to Joe Biden (72%). If this trend holds, Lamont McClure will be re-elected Executive.   

Northampton County's Election Day turnout in its 2017 municipal election was 23%, or 46,526 voters. This was prior to the advent of no-excuse mail-in ballots (MIBs), which only started in 2020. In the Exec race, Lamont McClure defeated incumbent John Brown with 22,520 votes, or 48% of the total turnout. 

Turnout in 2017's general election was marked by the fissures in this nation caused by a divisive President who chose to tear people apart instead of bring them together. This divide has only deepened. So I expect to see at least a 23% turnout on November. As of October 18, there are 219,258 registered voters in Northampton County. This means an election day turnout of 50,429 voters. There will be voters who cast no ballot in the Exec race. Many Republicans and Independents recognize challenger Steve Lynch as a fringe candidate, but are unwilling to vote for McClure. So just like in 2017, McClure will win if he can garner just 48% of the 50,429 expected voters, or 24,205 votes.

This is where MIBs come into play. In Northampton County, 27,125 have been mailed. As of this morning, 8,663 (32%) have been returned. In Northampton County's 2020 Presidential, 88,7% of requested MIBs were returned. If history repeats itself, that means that 23,897 ballots will be returned. If 72% of these MIBs go for Lamont McClure, that means he will have 16,727 votes from MIBs alone. 

He still would need 8,000 votes, but should get those easily from in-person votes. In the 2020 Presidential, Biden captured 30,753 in-person votes on election day, which translates to 17.87% of the 172,065 people who voted.  If McClure captures 17.87% from in-person votes, that gives him 9,011 votes. 

The math favors McClure. I believe my estimates are conservative. I believe his margin of victory will be higher because many Republicans will just refuse to vote in the Exec race. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Andy Weaver Named NorCo Citizen of the Year

If you follow high school sports like I do, and attend any basketball games at Nazareth Area High School, you know about Andy Weaver. He's the smiling guy who takes your ticket. Though challenged by cerebral palsy, he went through high school with students who have no such obstacles. He fell in love with Nazareth sports, and the players and coaches love him back. He also participates regularly in a Nazareth News Facebook page, providing local updates on the area. I'm happy to report that Andy has been named Northampton County's Citizen of the Year. This honor was bestowed at the annual festival held on Saturday. 

A few years ago, Andy needed a new wheelchair. One of my readers provided the balance of the funds Any needed. So I am sure that reading about this award will make him happy.  

Lynch Wants Military At Every Polling Place

Our national defense is a core function of federal government. Our public health is a core function of state government. The actual conduct of our elections is a core function of county government. So it helps if you have a county executive with at least some basic understanding of how elections are actually conducted. On this count, NorCo GOP Exec hopeful Steve Lynch is a dismal failure. He himself has only voted in three municipal races since he first registered in 2008. To make matters worse, his baleful acts as Exec would violate both state and federal law. That's because, according to his own Facebook page (2/27/2001), "[W]e should have military stationed at every single polling place. We place two military guards one inside and one outside the polling place to ensure that no strong arming and illegal activity is going on and be there for the protection of United States citizens casting their vote." 

Though Lynch likes to call himself a patriot, he knows little about our history. From the Civil War and beyond, law enforcement has shamefully been used by some state governments to target black and brown voters. 

Here's the Pennsylvania law:

"No body of troops in the Army of the United States or of this Commonwealth shall be present, either armed or unarmed, at any place of election within this Commonwealth during the time of any primary or election:  Provided, however, That no officer or soldier shall be prevented from exercising the right of suffrage in the election district in which he resides, if otherwise qualified."

Here's the federal law

"Whoever, being an officer of the Army or Navy, or other person in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States, orders, brings, keeps, or has under his authority or control any troops or armed men at any place where a general or special election is held, unless such force be necessary to repel armed enemies of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both; and be disqualified from holding any office of honor, profit, or trust under the United States.

"This section shall not prevent any officer or member of the armed forces of the United States from exercising the right of suffrage in any election district to which he may belong, if otherwise qualified according to the laws of the State in which he offers to vote."

The Lamont McClure campaign sent a flyer rightfully taking Lynch to task for his basic misunderstanding of the county, federal and state law as well as our history. 

After accusing McClure of slander (another concept he fails to understand), Lynch goes on to post the very remark for which he's been taken to the woodshed. He scoffs at the notion that law enforcement and military would be viewed by some U.S. citizens as intimidating. He should ask a few of his black and brown friends, if he has any. 

He is an extremist. I find it noteworthy that he has garnered no endorsements from fellow Republicans who currently hold public office. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

University of Fl - No Uptick in COVID From College Football

According to University of Florida epidemiologist Cindy Prins, there's been no sudden spike in Covid cases despite crowded stadiums at Florida's football games. She indicates this could change with cooler, drier weather. She postulates that the low transmission rate is the result of the following: (1) they are outdoor events: (2) Covid does not linger in humid air; (3) most people sit with the people in their immediate circle; (4) the Delta variant is on the wane; and (5) vaccination rates are high. 

She does have the following recommendations: 

"“Number one, you want to be vaccinated. That is the most critical part of protecting yourself and others and being able to do these activities and feel comfortable. I would definitely wear a mask. I would certainly wear it while I'm waiting to get into the stadium with other people, I'd wear it when I was going to the concession stand. For me, I would still wear it during the game. Some people may feel more comfortable if they're seated and they know that people around them are vaccinated, but otherwise, keep that mask in place and be vaccinated.”

Steve Lynch Pledges Return to Government by Consultant

Northampton County GOP candidate Steve Lynch was interviewed at a radio show yesterday, and was actually roped into discussing county issues. What he promised to do was bring in "high level consultants" to address Gracedale, Corrections and the Sheriff's office. In other words, he is promising to hire people, at taxpayer expense, to do his job.

This is precisely what former Executive John Brown did. He hired a public relations consultant so he could refuse to answer questions from the press. He hired a cost control consultant who recommended that he reduce health benefits to county workers. He tried to hire a $715,000 business consultant, and entered into a secret agreement for outside legal services for P3 projects to address everything, from bridges to a new jail. 

He hired people, often without County Council approval, to do his job. 

Lynch also stated he's audit election results, even his own. He's apparently unaware that the County already does audit every election. 

Lynch will also audit county finances in an effort to find inefficiencies. He's apparently unaware that the County has an independently elected Controller, or that the County has an independent outside auditor who reviews county spending every year. 

He periodically drifted into talking about irrelevant topics like Maricopa County and a condemnation of teaching social awareness. 

On Monday night, he and a Not-So-Excellent Network host roundly condemned NPR. Ironically, he was still willing to be interviewed by a local NPR station. 

In one of his many live Facebook rants, this is what he said about Democrats: "You people are a cancer to society and would be ashamed of yourselves if you had a conscience." But last night, he claimed,  "I unite people." 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Rain or Shine, NorCo Festival on Saturday

Northampton County will conduct its annual festival on Saturday at Louise Moore Park (151 Country Club Rd, Easton, Pa.,east side). It's a 10-5 affair, and will include food vendors, crafts, live music, non-profit organizations, demonstrations, an awards program for outstanding volunteers, youth, veterans, business, emergency and municipal personnel, and a presentation of colors.

Patriots Vote, Lynch Does Not

NorCo GOP Exec candidate likes to call himself a patriot. Patriots vote. Lynch does not. He likes to say "We, the People" means you. It also means him. For someone so willing to wave a flag and hold forth on national issues in a county race,  he's been pitiful in exercising democracy where it really counts - at tyhe ballot box. 

I've looked at his voting record all the way back to 2008. He failed to vote in the Executive's race in 2017, 2013 or 2009. He's voted in less than half of the elections since registering in 2008. He's only voted three times in 12 years in a municipal race. 

Yet this is the man who threatened to bring "20 strong men" to "remove" duly elected school directors at Northampton Area School Board. He could have voted instead of resorting to a mob. 

In 2017, Lynch was MIA in the election that led to Executive Lamont McClure. He also failed to vote in the election that resulted in Executive John Brown and Executive John Stoffa. He failed to vote for any of the three Republicans currently on Northampton County Council or any of the Republicans elected in 2017, 2013 or 2009. 

Some patriot. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Drop Box Security Questioned at NorCo Council

In October 2019, in what is known as Act 77, Pennsylvania's Republican-dominated General Assembly adopted sweeping changes to the Election Code. For the first time, no-excuse mail-in ballots (MIBs) were permitted. These could be mailed or "delivered in person" to the county elections office. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has interpreted this (in a 5-2 decision) to mean that that MIBs could also be delivered to drop boxes throughout the county. This because the Election Code elsewhere provides that ballots can be returned at any place designated by the county. Though the law appears to be clear, Republicans have been very suspicious. They appear to be primarily concerned  about what is known as ballot harvesting, an illegal practice under which party apparatchiks gather numerous ballots from the party faithful and deposit them all together. While I agree this is a real danger, there's another far more serious concern that no one has mentioned. At an unmanned drop box, and they are all unmanned, it is entirely possible for someone to sabotage them. The security of drop boxes was an issue at last week's  County Council meeting. More questions were raised than answered. The one valid suggestion was ignored. 

The security concerns over NorCo's four drop boxes (one in each Council District) were raised by Republicans Beverly Hernandez, Melanie Morgan and Sheryl Gerkovich. Although Hernandez and Morgan completely misstated the facts, Gerkovich suggested that deputy sheriffs should be assigned to drop boxes.  "There is so much suspicion out there," she argued. "You can alleviate that suspicion on both sides." 

These concerns were echoed by Council member Peg Ferraro. She noted that drop boxes might be under video surveillance, but that does nothing to prevent someone with slipping in a few extra MIBs here and there. Even if it is observed, it would be impossible to segregate the legally cast ballots from those that may have been cast illegally. Nor is it clear that a ballot cast as a result of ballot harvesting is itself illegal. The person who engaged in the illegal practice could be prosecuted, but nothing in Act 77 would per se invalidate the ballots unless they were obtained by coercion or intimidation. Ferraro feels, and with some justification, that the drop boxes should be manned to prevent what she called "shenanigans." 

Ferraro suggested that the logical choice to man a drop box is a deputy sheriff. But as Exec Lamont McClure and Elections Solicitor Rick Santee observed, this would be illegal. 

Ferraro demanded to see the law.  I have previously discussed this part of the Election Code, which predates Act 77 by decades. Here's what the Election Code says:

"Any police officer in commission, whether in uniform or in citizen's clothes, who shall be within one hundred (100) feet of a polling place during the conduct of any primary or election, except in the exercise of his privilege of voting or for the purpose of serving warrants, or in accordance with the provisions of the exception set forth in section 1207 of this act where the police station or headquarters is located in the same building or on the premises where the polling place is located or unless called upon to preserve the peace, as provided by this act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to pay a fine not exceeding five hundred ($500) dollars, or to undergo an imprisonment of not more than one (1) year, or both, in the discretion of the court."
I suppose that a drop box is construed as a polling place by McClure and Santee. This is a sound argument. The law is obviously intended to prevent voter intimidation by law enforcement.. Council member Kerry Myers vowed to fight "tooth and nail" against law enforcement at the polls, arguing that their very presence is intended "as a tool to keep people of color from voting." 

Well, Kerry, you better get ready to start fighting tooth and nail. The way things are now, deputy sheriffs are no more than 10' or 20' from the drop box at the courthouse rotunda. The drop box at Bethlehem City Hall is right above the police station, with officers walking by the drop box all day long. The drop box at the Human Services building is close to stationed deputy sheriffs. Finally, the drop box at 911 is swarmed by police officers day and night, if only to date 911 dispatchers. 

Under the argument advanced by McClure and Santee, all four drop boxes are illegal. 

My own take is that a drop box is actually more of a branch office than a polling place. While federal law concerning voter intimidation must be honored, I think the 100' state law applies only to an actual voting precinct.

Council member Tara Zrinski expressed concern that voters making their way in to vote could be subject to intimidation as third parties could approach them and ask to check their ballots.

Council member John Cusick probably raised the best point. He wondered whether the elections office could appoint a pollworker to man the drop box when it was open. This person could insure that only one vote is cast and that the outside envelope is signed and dated. 

Amazingly, this idea was killed by Attorney Santee, who said there's no mechanism in Act 77 that enables the Registrar to appoint pollworkers for the drop boxes.  Well, Rick, nothing in Act 77 specifically permits drop boxes, either, and you're fine with that.

Assigning a pollworker to each drop box while it is open is the best way to guard against ballot harvesting while simultaneously helping voters to make sure their vote actually counts. Having a pollworker on hand would also prevent the very real danger that someone upset with drop boxes is going to sabotage them.  If the county were smart and wanted to prevent sabotage while simultaneously providing reassurance about ballot harvesting, it would assign a pollworker to each drop box while it is open.       

There's no need for a drop box at the courthouse rotunda. That is just a stone's throw from the elections office. If a person can make it to the courthouse, he can walk a few extra steps to the elections office and be sure his ballot is received and is correct. 

If unable to afford someone from the Elections office at each drop box, then you shouldn't have the drop box. Republicans worry about ballot harvesting. I worry that someone is going to sabotage them. If the Lynch mob is willing to attempt a coup at the US Capitol, or threaten to bring 20 strong men to replace the people's duly elected government, destroying a drop box is chump change. 

Having someone man the drop boxes is just common sense. This concept is all too often missing from government. 

Steve Lynch Forgets His Opponent is Lamont McClure, Not Me

If NorCo GOP Exec candidate Steve Lynch has established nothing else, it's that he's thin-skinned. He banned me from his personal Facebook page back in January after promising to meet with me. Now he's also banned me from his campaign page, even though I never comment there. He's really blowin' oil after I exposed an attempt to falsely portray him as a Marine. Instead of apologizing to those who actually served, he threatened to expose the truth about me on Facebook. And last night, on the Not-So-Excellent Conservative Network, that's exactly what he did. 

He exposed me as a disbarred lawyer, something that happened back in 1985 and that everyone already knows about. I have written about it multiple times, so it's really kinda' lame. I was hoping he'd have something better than that, like my affairs with numerous very hot women. I freely admit to all of them. Instead of exposing my numerous sexual dalliances with just about everyone, he dredged up old news. I was very disappointed. 

I also thought he might release a few compromising photographs of me with some lewd parakeets. All I'll say about that is that each one was over 21. 

He went on and on, without really saying anything, until it dawned on me that he just hates being criticized. I admit I've been hard on Lynch. But he deserves it. After all, he is a thug. He threatened to overthrow a democratically elected school board with 20 strong men. He participated in the failed coup at the US Capitol on January 6, saying "This is war." He is no patriot. Certainly no Marine. Quite the opposite. 

He's been so worked up by my criticism that he spent yesterday and last night complaining about me. He should have spent that time trying to get a vote or two. Steve, you seem to have forgotten that Lamont McClure is your opponent, not me. I don't give a rat's ass what you say about me. You see, I'm not running for anything. You are. You just wasted an afternoon and night going after the wrong person. And you've done nothing to dispel the growing sentiment that you are unfit for any office, and could use a little anger management. Maybe do a few push ups or something. Or call that Keystone Alternative Medicine you pretend to own for a few relaxing herbs. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Could Lynch Win NorCo Exec Race?

If you think Northampton County Exec Lamont McClure is going to blow out challenger Steve Lynch in November's fast-approaching election, think again.  As nutty as he is, he will get votes. I say this for two reasons.

First, face masks are an issue in this year's school board races. This controversial issue has even resulted in write-in candidates. These anti-maskers, who ordinarily would not be voting at all, will certainly support Lynch, an anti masker.

Second, voter registration statistics in Northampton County continue to trend Republican. 

Right before the Presidential last year, there were 227,315 registered voters, consisting of 102,436 Democrats (45.06%), 81,345 Republicans (35.78%) and 43,534 others (19.15%).

As of October 4, the number of registered voters in NorCo has dropped to 219,125. This consists of 97,914 Democrats (44.68%), 78,932 Republicans (36.02%), and 42,279 others (19.29%)

Although Democrats still maintain a plurality of the registered voters, Republicans make up a larger percentage than they did last year, when Biden barely won this county. NN

Fortunately, Lynch turns off most Republicans. I expect him to lose, but the race will be closer than it should be.

Lynch Lashes Out Over Stolen Valor

On Thursday, I reported that some right wing Internet host at The Exceptional Conservative Network interviewed NorCo GOP candidate Steve Lynch. At the end of the broadcast, the host thanked Lynch for his service as a Marine and as a father.

"I appreciate that," responded Lynch. 

Lynch never bothered to clarify that he has never served a second in the military in any capacity, let alone as a Marine. 

This is stolen valor.

Last night, this rather unexceptional conservative admitted that Lynch is no Marine, although his Daddy was. He was miffed that "some blogger [that would be me] took to the blogoverse with exaggerations that Steve Lynch made the statement that he was a Marine." 

This is yet another lie. You can review my post. At no time did I claim that Lynch himself ever claimed to be a Marine. That would be a crime. He merely thanked the host for falsely labeling him as such. 

This host also claims the remark was taken out of context. No it wasn't. Lynch was specifically thanked for his service as a Marine and for being a father and actually responded with "I appreciate that." 

The uninformed conservative network host, who is responsible for the initial blunder, is now claiming that Lynch himself failed to hear what was said. 

That's yet another lie. If Lynch failed to hear it, he would never have answered.   

Lynch claimed he will be back with the exceptional conservatives and "will be fully exposing this political hack and disbarred attorney [that would be me] for who he really is. Buckle up. ... You know I don't play around." 

Neither do I. 

I have already exposed Lynch as a fraud who has judgments coming out his ass; has falsely represented himself as some kind of "alternative medicine" expert; participated in the failed coup at the US Capitol;  and, most recently, threatened to bring "20 strong men" to toss the duly elected representatives of the people over a decision that bothered him.

He is actually a huckster, a bully and a demagogue. He should never be in government in any capacity. Except perhaps as a Defendant. 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Five Deficiencies at Gracedale Uncovered by State DOH Survey

Jennifer Stewart King, Gracedale's Administrator, advised Northampton County Council on Thursday concerning the most recent inspection of Gracedale by the state Department of Health. That survey was conducted July 9, and raised five deficiencies the the home. You can see the report here. All but one problem appear to be minor.  

The most serious issue involved a resident whose catheter bag was observed on the floor twice.

Another deficiency was the use of a jumpsuit for a resident for infection control. A state surveyor considered the jumpsuit a restraint because it is zippered in the back.  

Other problems included demented residents observed eating with a knife, their fingers or stealing chips and a banana. Finally, an employee failed to log a range of motion exercise for a resident even though she performed the exercise. 

Currently, the census of Gracedale is down to about 490. In July, it was 569. "That's a lot of empty beds," noted Council member John Cusick.

In addition to a sharp drop in census, Stewart-King told Cusick there were about 200 vacancies. She had no exact number. 

On a more positive note, Stewart-King indicated that 65-70% of the staff have been vaccinated and added there is a $750 incentive. She added that, though the Biden administration has made vaccinations mandatory, she is still waiting for guidance. Until then, vaccines are strongly encouraged, but not mandatory, at Gracedale. Those who are unvaccinated are tested twice a week. 

Prior to Stewart-King's report, Director of Nursing Dawn Tuersfeldman provided Council with a litany of changes made at Gracedale, both before and after Covid. 

Before the advent of the pandemic, the McClur administaion made the following changes: (1) It replaced a privatized Administrator with a home-grown Administrator (Jennifer Stewart-King); (2) Email accounts were provided for all LPNs and CNAs to improve communication; (3) It began using MH provider Haven House; (4) 14 new vital signs machines were added, along with new therapy equipment; (5) portable phones connected to call bell in lower units; (6) the LANTA bus route schedule improved ; (7) food cart delivery was improved to keep food warm longer; (8) an anonymous complaint hotline for staff was established; (9) CNA trainee classes  every four weeks; (9) new furniture in nursing units; (10)  electronic medical records (11) referral bonus; and (12) a recruiter position

In response to the pandemic, the following measures have been taken: (1) dedicated unit (Tower 10) for Covid residents, which is being converted into a negative pressure unit; (2) acquisition of PPE; (3) in-house drug testing for new hires (got results instantly); (4) 8-hour temp CNA program (CMS granted waiver); (5) recruit on tv, radio and billboards; (6) hazard pay to front-line staff: (7) automatic door openers to improve infection control; (8) new lab gives test results immediately: (9) Lytbot UV for disinfection; (10) stipend to attend CNA class; (11) Ipad and window visits implemented along with compassionate care visits; (12) monoclonal antibodies for Gracedale residents started; (13) four day weeks and 12-hour weekends started March; (14) weekly staff development for new hires; (15) Reducing prescriptions; (16) contracted with agency to bring in 10 international nurses (all RNs); (17) Infection control position created; and (18) AEDs ordered for every unit.

Friday, October 08, 2021

NorCo Council Candidates Condemn Lynch's Intimidation and Bully Tactics

Blogger's Note: Below is the last of five questions posed to the 10 candidates seeking five seats on County Council. The five GOP hopefuls refused to answer any of the questions posed, while the Democrats answered so you can cast an informed vote.  

Steve Lynch, the Republican candidate for Executive, attended and attempted coup of Congress on Jan. 6. He has claimed, falsely, that Covid-19 vaccines alter DNA. Steve Lynch promised an angry crowd to get rid of them. At an Aug. 29 Harrisburg rally, he vowed to physically remove Northampton Area School Directors over a mask mandate. “Forget going into 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?

Ron Heckman. - No, I do not support Mr. Lynch’s candidacy. His statements about removing duly elected officials is anathema to our representative democracy. We are a nation of laws and there is no place for mob rule in America.

Tara Zrinski. I do not support Steve Lynch’s use of intimidation and implied threats of violence and proliferation of misinformation. I trust data. 

Lori Vargo-Heffner. - Absolutely not. People have the right to free speech, they also need to accept the consequences of that choice. Governing by threat is not acceptable.

Bill McGee. - I do not support Steve Lynch or any other candidate for office that uses bully tactics and threatens with physical harm.

Patti Bruno. - A leader does not need brute force or to intimidate in order to be heard. Unfortunately, Mr. Lynch missed that memo.

John Brown. - No response.

John Goffredo. - No response.

Nicole Romanishin. - No response.

Kristin Lorah Soldridge. - No response.

Annamarie Robertone. - No response.  

Bear Swamp Archery Complex Named in Honor of Jerry Seyfried

Ron Heckman presents citation
to Jerry
Former Executive Gerald E "Jerry" Seyfried was advised early this week that Northampton County Council would be asked on Thursday night to rename the Bear Swamp Archery Complex, located at Minsi Lake, in his honor. '

"Should I be there?" he asked.

"I don't know that we have five votes," said Council member Ron Heckman .

"If you don't, I'll bring 20 strong men and remove you," warned Jerry, who always open carries his compound bow and a few arrows.  

There was no need.  County Council unanimously voted to name the swamp after Jerry. 

In addition to his stint as Exec, Jerry has also served on County Council (twice), as Director of Court Services and as a member of the Retirement Board. His biggest achievement, however, is as the Father of Open Space in Northampton County. 

"He did things for open space at a time when it wasn't cool," remarked  Executive Lamont McClure. "He was a conservationist at a time when the people who were leading at the front of conservation were hunters and fishermen. ... They understood  what was happening." The County Council resolution recognizes Jerry as a "pioneer" of open space. 

"When I think of Jerry, I think of the outdoors," observed Council member Ron Heckman, who introduced the resolution naming a swamp after him. 

Peg Ferraro also complimented Jerry. She noted that, during his time as county exec,there was a pay study, a tax cut and the beginning of farmland preservation. "Jerry was the most nonpartisan leader that I have ever seen," said Ferraro, who is a Republican. 

After the vote, Jerry used his bow to shoot a few apples off the heads of McClure. 

"Lamont said some nice things and he said them exactly the way I told him to say them."

Seyfried was honored during a very busy night. I'll fill you in on what else happened on Monday. 

Lynch's Campaign Page on Facebook is Gone

NorCo GOP Exec hopeful has no trouble getting on goofy right-wing extremist Internet shows, but is having trouble with Facebook again. He was sent to Facebook jail before for intimidation and bullying. Now his campaign Facebook page has just vanished. "These leftist ideologues are traitors to this country and our constitution," he complains.  

Maybe he blocked himself. 

Thursday, October 07, 2021

GOP Exec Wannabe Lynch Allows Internet Host to Falsely Portray Him as a Marine

Northampton County's GOP Exec wannabe Steve Lynch, in his own words, "has a big ass." I don't know how big his ass might be, but he certainly is a big ass. I say this because of his goofy appearance last night on some right-wing internet show. The host thanked Lynch for his service as a Marine with three minutes left in the show, and Lynch never bothered to mention that he never actually spent a second serving his country in any capacity, let alone as a Marine. 

This is stolen valor. 

You can see the show here. Check out the last three minutes, and you'll see Lynch has plenty of time to correct the host, but fails to do so. 

That's what I'd expect from someone who is a big ass. This failure is an insult to those who actually served, as opposed to those who prance around in bulletproof vests. 

Does NorCo Run a Fair, Accurate and Legal Election?

In 2019, Northampton County's general election was a disaster.  Governor Tom Wolf had ordered all counties to replace existing machines with a system that includes a voter verifiable paper trail. Northampton County decided on the ExpressVote XL, a system that combines the convenience of touch screen voting with the added assurance of voter verifiable paper ballots. It's a good thing we had this redundancy because the touchscreens malfunctioned on election day. They came out of the factory misaligned, and that issue was missed during pre-election testing.  The back-up paper ballots saved the day, but not before making several judges very nervous. Fortunately, the issues with the voter system were resolved, and the 2020 primary went off without a hitch.  It was only after the general election, in which Donald Trump was defeated by Joe Biden, that GOP boss Lee Snover claimed there had been fraud. She never sued, although she did challenge ever provisional ballot cast by a Democrat. 

Northampton County's elections office is possibly the best-run office in the county. Registar Amy Cozze has had results posted before nearly everyone else in the state, and has gone to great pains to train elections workers. Vagaries in the county's Home Rule Charter do raise questions about where the administration's power over elections ends and where the elections commission's authority begins.  There's always room for improvement, but is the elections system itself fair, accurate and legal?  

That's the question I posed to 10 candidates seeking five at-large seats, 

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

Ron Heckman. - The elections in Northampton County have been and will remain fair, accurate and legal. The voting machines have been vetted and contain built-in safeguards. The election staff is a well-trained group of professionals. Finally, there is no evidence of any fraud or illegality in Northampton County’s elections.

Tara Zrinski. - I am confident that our elections were fair and accurate. I trust the numbers that were delivered by the machines, that no one voted who was not registered and that all the votes were counted.

Lori Vargo-Heffner. - Absolutely. It’s the most important function we provide. We worked very hard to fill an unfunded mandate for new machines from the governor and provided necessary equipment to ensure safe and accurate elections. We are ahead of the rest of the state in terms of efficiency with results reporting. We have ensured different options to allow more citizens to vote. Any method that denies a person the opportunity to vote is unfair and we have opted for inclusivity.

Bill McGee. - Yes, Northampton County elections department does an outstanding job on preparing and executing elections. I know there were some issues during the 2020 primary election with the new machines, however I know these problems were solved and tallies were accurate then and moving forward. I am confident that Northampton county election process are accurate, fair, and legal.

Patti Bruno. - I am confident in our system. Even during the 2019 election, I stopped in every day, to watch people hand count votes (the results were the same).

John Brown. - No response.

John Goffredo. - No response.

Nicole Romanishin. - No response.

Kristin Lorah Soldridge. - No response.

Annamarie Robertone. - No response.  

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

SBA Disaster Loans Available to Businesses and Homeowners Impacted by Hurricane Ida

Homeowners, residents and businesses are now eligible for Small Business Assistance (SBA) loans for any damages suffered from Hurricane Ida. Applications for physical damage are due by November 9, 2021. Applications related to economic injury are due by June 10, 2022.
The following loans are available:

Business Physical Disaster Loan – loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the businesses, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans – Working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.

Home Disaster Loans – Loans to homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate and personal property, including automobiles.
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela or over the phone at 800-659-2955. Email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.