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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Nationwide Test of Emergency Alert and Wireless Alert Systems Planned for October 4

Periodically, there are tests of our Emergency Alert System. You can hear them on the radio or see them on your television. But on October 4, there will be a test of the Wireless Alert System as well.  A text message will be sent to all consumer cell phones to ensure that there's an effective way to warn the public about a national emergency.  

Instead of Higher Pay, How About Fewer Hours?

San Juan County, located in Washington, recently voted unanimously to transition to a 32-hour work week for about 70% of its workforce. Workers will receive the same amount of money for fewer hours. County officials there say that, contrary to what you might think, this actually helps them keep their budget under control and avoids a tax hike. Deputy Sheriffs and office administrators will still be expected to work 40 hours. Moreover, the union officials who negotiated this deal states productivity actually increases with employers who have made this transition. 

This might actually be a good way to attract and retain workers without asking taxpayers for more money. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Sultana Facing New Assault Charge, PFA Hearing and Her Husband Is Being Investigated For Witness Intmidation

Easton City Council member Taiba Sultana, age 39, waived her right to a preliminary hearing yesterday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Jordan A Knisley in Northampton County's central criminal court. Sultana was originally charged July 31 with assault and harassment of her adult son at the family abode. But yesterday, Assistant DA Julianne Danchak amended the criminal complaint to charge Sultana with assaulting her son on a previous occasion in which he had to go to the hospital for stitches to his foot. She also requested a "no contact" provision be added to Sultana's bail based on "numerous occasions" in which Sultana's husband, Muhammad Nadeem Qayyum, attempted to dissuade the victim's son from appearing at the preliminary hearing or testifying against his mother.

The victim was present in the courtroom. Seated right behind him was Sultana's husband, Muhammad Nadeem Qayyum. He is a former candidate for Magisterial District Judge on Easton's south side, an office currently held by Dan Corpora. This may explain why Knisley, and not Corpora, presided over yesterday's proceedings. Qayyum also ran in the Democratic primary for Controller, and most recently, was one of four applicants for the job. 

In his campaign for Controller, Qayyum claimed to have a law degree from the University of the Punjab. He presumably knows that witness intimidation is a crime. Assistant DA Danchak stated that an investigation into that matter is pending, but refused to be more specific. 

According to Sultana's Facebook page, her husband was recently hospitalized for a "moderate heart attack."  

Sultana sat quietly throughout the proceeding, only speaking when asked if she understand that she was giving up her right to force the Commonwealth to establish a prima facie case against her.  She was flanked at the defense table by two attorneys. Ettore "Ed" Angelo, a highly respected criminal defense lawyer from Bucks County, told the court and Donchak that Attorney Elliott Love is assisting him. 

Ettore told the court that if Sultana was a private citizen, this matter would attract no attention. But because she's a public figure, this case has been "blasted all over the media."

I've certainly done my part.

Ettore indicated he would be seeking accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD), a special program for first offenders in which charges are dismissed after a successful period of probation. This is within the discretion of the District Attorney. It is precisely what happens for most first offense simple assaults. 

Danchak made clear that District Attorney Terry Houck would have to approve the application. 

For his part, Ettore asked that bail conditions be relaxed so that the Defendant's family can return to their home. He said they are currently squeezed into a small apartment, and that the victim could live in the basement with no contact from Sultana. 

Judge Knisley declined to relax bail conditions, stating she needed to hear from Pretrial Services. 

She had a different attitude when Danchak asked for a "no contact" condition because "the Commonwealth is concerned about public or victim safety." She granted Danchak's request to add a "no contact" provision to bail conditions. 

Judge Knisley scheduled formal arraignment for December 21, at 1:30 pm. That is when a Defendant is formally advised of the charges and enters a plea. Attorney Angelo said he expected to have Sultana in the ARD program before then. 

In addition to the criminal case, a Protection from Abuse Act (PFA) hearing is scheduled over Sultana's behavior on Wednesday at 1:30 pm. An emergency order was entered on August 18.

In the PFA  proceeding, the victim described Sultana's behavior on July 31, which led to her arrest: "My mom had gotten very physical. She had slapped, punched me in my face and stomach multiple times. And continuously head butt me. It resulted in my face being injured and my face was bleeding. Also kept pulling my hair and dragging me around." 

The victim also describes prior incidents: "Threw dishes and sharp objects at me which resulted in my foot opening up. A sharp glass had been strewn inside my foot. I had been taken to the hospital and had to get stitches on my foot. Other incidents included punching my lip (it was bleeding nonstop) hitting me with random objects in bruised back and arm. She also threatened my many times with knives and has told me she is going to kill me one day.

"She has threatened me with knives. She has told me she is going to kill me in my sleep."    

Easton Police Officer Kade McNally filed the criminal charges against Sultana.

Blue Moon Coming Wednesday

This one is supposed to be the biggest and brightest of the year.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Baratta Officially Unopposed in NorCo DA Race

On Friday evening, a reader took me to task for failing to report that county Republicans have named no candidate to oppose Democratic nominee Steve Baratta in this year's DA race. Actually, this blog was the first media outlet to inform you that Terry Houck, who won the Republican nomination as a result of a write-in campaign, had withdrawn. At that time, I added that Republicans had a limited amount of time to come up with a substitute. The sands in that hourglass emptied on Thursday with no nominee. This means that Baratta is the sole candidate running in this race. Is it possible he could lose as a reesult of a write-in campaign? Yes, but that is highly unlikely. 

Preliminary Hearing For Accused Easton City Council Member Today

Magisterial District Judge Dan Corpora will conduct a preliminary hearing today at 2:30 pm on domestic assault charges brought against Easton City Council member Taiba Sultana. His job is to determine whether there's enough evidence to send the case to county court. 

Sultana has retained prominent Quakertown attorney Ettore "Ed" Angelo to represent her. 

I Missed Philly's Naked Bike Ride

It was a busy weekend for cycling enthusiasts. Wout van Aert, the Belgian Beast, crushed the UCI world gravel cycling championship. He was 9 minutes ahead of the second place finisher. The Vuelta a Espana, a 1,950-mile bike race in 23 stages, has started in spite of torrential downpours and lightning. The 112-mile ride on Sunday had a 9,000' mountain. I rode 16 miles here with a 600' elevation and thought that was tough. But we all blew it. We missed Saturday's Naked Bike Ride in downtown Philly. That's a 13 mile trek that promotes cycling and body positivity. 

I think I'd have a tough time riding 100' without padded bike shorts. I think a lot of people are going to have sore posteriors today.  

Friday, August 25, 2023

David Brooks: Nikki Haley Best Alternative to Trump

New York Times columnist David Brooks is someone we encounter very rarely these days. He's actually a thoughtful Republican instead of a cult follower. He even reads Plutarch! After Wednesday night's sciamachy among eight would-be Trump alternatives, he believes Nikki Haley is the best cure for "the cancer that is eating away at the Republican Party. It’s not just Trumpian immorality. The real disease is narcissistic hucksterism. The real danger is that he’s creating generations of people, like Vivek Ramaswamy, who threaten to dominate the G.O.P. for decades to come."

"Ramaswamy has absolutely no reason to be running for president. He said that Trump is the best president of the 21st century. So why is he running against the man he so admires? The answer is: To draw attention to himself. Maybe to be Trump’s vice president or secretary of social media memes."

Brooks went on to make the following observations about Haley:

"Haley dismantled Ramaswamy on foreign policy. It was not only her contemptuous put-down: “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.” She took on the whole America First ethos that sounds good as a one-liner but that doesn’t work when you’re governing a superpower. Gesturing to Ramaswamy, she said, “He wants to hand Ukraine to Russia, he wants to let China eat Taiwan, he wants to go and stop funding Israel. You don’t do that to friends.”

"Similarly on abortion, many of her opponents took the issue as a chance to perform self-righteous bluster — to make the issue about themselves. She was the only one who acknowledged the complexity of the issue, who tried to humanize people caught in horrible situations, who acknowledged that the absolutist position is politically unsustainable.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Fox News Greets GOP Presidential Contenders With "Rich Men North of Richmond"

Last night, Fox News hosted a debate among 8 contenders for the GOP Presidential nomination.  When it kicked things off with "Rich Men North of Richmond."  I was transported back to 1861. All that song needs is a rebel yell.  Was Fox suggesting we need a new Civil War? At least one of the candidates - Vivek Ramiswamy - thinks so.

He actually called for "revolution."  Although he has a lot of appeal among hard-line Rs, I thought he was arrogant, especially when he said he was the "only person on this stage who isn't bought and paid for." He called climate change a "hoax," and stated he believes we need to "drill, frack, burn coal, declare war on administrative state." 

In contrast to Ramiswamy, Vice President Mike Pence stated he is "unquestionably the best prepared" person to be President. "Now is not the time for on the job training," he said in a slur aimed at Ramiswamy. While Ramiswamy claimed that we should devote our military resources to the border (which incidentally is illegal) instead of Ukraine, Pence scoffed at the notion that the United States must do one or the other. He argued that we need to let the Ukrainians fight so we don't need to do so.  Nikki Haley told Ramiswamy, " You have no foreign policy experience and it shows." 

Pence's views on abortion hurt him. He "gave myself to Jesus Christ." and condemned the Nikki Haley notion of compromise on abortion as "the opposite of leadership."

Ron DeSantis continually evaded questions and demonstrated a complete lack of charisma. His one solid point was his claim that he refused to lock down during the Covid pandemic, unlike most states.  

Christie, a former federal prosecutor who has never shied from mixing it up, was clearly the best debater. After Ramiswamy kept interrupting others, Christie finally unloaded on him. "I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT standing up here,” he said. 

I'd give the win to Christie, but I'm a Democrat. What do you think? 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Lehigh Valley Justice Institute Charges Easton Housing With Enriching Absentee Landlords at City Children's Expense

Joe Welsh, Executive Director of the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute, knows a little bit about Easton. He worked there as Easton Business Administrator. He practiced law there. He lived (and may still live) there. So when he speaks about that City, it would be wise for people, especially those who come from outside the area, to listen. In a letter to Easton Housing Authority (EHA) under the Lehigh Valley Justice Institute's banner, Joe condemns a recent attempt by the EHA to demand $16,000 a month in rent, up from the current $1. This gambit is the work of EHA's Executive Director Tyler Martin, a recent Philly transplant. Welsh slams Martin for wanting to enrich absentee landlords on the backs of Easton's children. He calls this shortsighted idea "Robin Hood in Reverse."

Easton's Boys and Girls Club has existed since 1974, and served 463 children during 2020-21. It's after school meal program provided 3,422 dinners. Its summer meal program provided. 922 breakfasts, 2,732 lunches and 2,652 snacks. It runs seven different programs, from sports and fitness to lexia reading. Its goal is to help all children reach their full potential as "productive, caring, responsible citizens."

It has served as a stopgap from a sad "school to prison" pipeline affecting many disadvantaged youth. It pretty much stopped the racial violence that plagued Easton in the early '70s. It instead has produced role models like Kenny Brown, who is currently Easton City Council VP.  

What Martin is proposing would pretty much be the death knell for one of the most positive programs in the Lehigh Valley. 

Below is Joe's letter. 

LVJI Letter to Easton Housing Authority by BernieOHare on Scribd

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

NorCo to Distribute NARCAN on August 31

: From Northampton County: On International Overdose Awareness Day, the Northampton County Drug and Alcohol Division will hold a free NARCAN distribution drive-thru event. The event, on Thursday, August 31, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Northampton County Department of Human Services Building, is part of Northampton County's Fake is Real campaign.

"Counties are on the frontline of the opioid epidemic," says Executive Lamont McClure. "It's important that the County of Northampton makes resources available to help everyone impacted."

The Fake is Real campaign aims to educate families, specifically young adults in the 18-35 age group, about the dangers of buying counterfeit prescription pills that may contain fentanyl. The campaign is funded from proceeds secured from litigation against opioid manufacturers. This funding from the settlement gives the County the opportunity to strengthen our response to the ongoing epidemic, raise awareness to prevent addiction and offer services to treat addiction. The NARCAN is provided at no cost through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

You can learn more about our campaign by visiting FakeIsReal.org. The event is free and open to the public.

Area YMCAs Sign Management Agreement , Will Merge

From Greater Valley YMCA: (August 22, 2023) YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and Greater Valley YMCA in Pennsylvania, will enter into a management agreement for Zane Moore, President/CEO of YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties, to provide executive leadership to Greater Valley YMCA beginning September 1, 2023.

The boards of directors of both YMCAs separately voted to move forward with the agreement after several months of conversation between the two organizations. The conversations were initiated by Greater Valley YMCA anticipating the August 2023 retirement of their longtime CEO, David Fagerstrom.

“Once I announced my upcoming retirement, we began thinking as an organization about the best way to move forward,” said Fagerstrom, “Following an extensive period of due diligence, we feel that entering into this partnership with neighboring YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties will lead our Y toward a strong future of growth and service to our community.”

The management agreement provides a unique opportunity for the two Ys, who already have a shared mission and commitment to positively impact lives, to explore the possible benefits of merging the organizations. Exploration will include assessing organizational alignment, shared resources and efficiencies, and opportunities for learning from proven practices. Following a period of due diligence, the boards of both Ys will evaluate whether merging the two organizations provides operational benefits and strengthens their ability to advance their mission.

“This is an exciting time for both Ys and will provide us with a great opportunity to learn from each other and establish collaborative connections,” said Zane Moore, President/CEO of YMCA of Bucks and Hunterdon Counties. “Through this process, our goal is to strengthen both organizations, providing greater benefit and service to communities across Lehigh, Northampton, Hunterdon and Bucks counties.”

Both YMCAs are charitable, nonprofit organizations committed to strengthening communities through membership and programs that foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility for all. Additionally, they support members of the community through food programs, residential and overnight sheltering services, educational resources, blood drives, and community service projects.

Blogger's Note: I'm surprised to hear these are "charitable" institutions when membershipfees are outrageous in comparison to for-profit gyms.

No One in a Suit With White Socks Should Ever Be Taken Seriously - Part Two

In late June, Allentown City Council unanimously confirmed a guy in a suit with white socks as its new Human Relations Director. Prior to that, Mayor Matt Tuerk effusively praised the guy in a suit wirth white socks. Nominee Nadeem Eli Shahzad sounded more like a bullshit artist than a personnel professional. He never lasted very long in any one job, and as Council member Candida Affa herself observed, he has so many jobs on the side that he's stretched himself very thin. I predicted he'd be gone before long, and sure enough, he's been either fired or resigned, depending on who you choose to believe.

Shahzad has threatened litigation in both federal and state court. As a former HR Director, he should know that he serves at the pleasure of the Mayor. He is at will, and has no right to remain employed. He could even be fired for wearing a suit with white socks, which is what I would do.

Tuerk obviously blew this pick and Allentown City Council should have seen the bullshit burgers he was slinging.

The City should train someone from within who actually lives locally.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Goffredo Proposes Exempting Local Contractors and Subs From Responsible Contractor Ordinance

In 2018, Northampton County Council adopted a Responsible Contactor Ordinance (RCO) that required apprenticeship programs from contactors and subcontractors who do major projects for the county. In 2020, it amended its RCO to make it applicable to projects as low as $100,000.  After seeing several instances in which there was only one or no bids for a project, Council member John Goffredo has proposed a change that will exempt Lehigh and Northampton County contractors and subs. 

Former Council member Bill McGee, who is also a union agent, spoke against this change during public comment. He told Council that OSHA and apprenticeship training is "paramount" in the construction industry. He noted it is a matter of safety. He indicated that there are more deaths in the construction industry than in any other. 

Executive Lamont McClure also spoke against changing the RCO. He noted that the county's forensic center, which was built on time and under budget, included nonunion contractors who had apprenticeship programs.  

Goffredo said all contractors and subcontractors post bonds and receive no payments unless the work is done responsibly. He added that the current RCO is unfair to businesses who pay taxes in Northampton County but are denied the opportunity to bid. 

With respect to the paucity in bods for county work, McClure stated that for five years prior to the RCO, 55% of county projects had multiple bids. In the five years following adoption of the RCO, 60% of county projects have had multiple bidders. He noted that the number of bidders increse with the size of a project. "That's just a fact of life." 

NorCo Council Skeptical of McClure Claim of 12% Hike in Wages Paid Since He Took Office

At last week's meeting of Northampton County Council, Executive Lamont McClure claimed that wages paid to employees have risen about 12% since he took office. In 2018, the county paid $141,312,000 to its workforce. It now has paid $160,379,400. 

Council member John Cusick observed that, during this same period, inflation has risen about 16%. 

"I don't think you would argue to me, Mr. Cusick, that I should propose an 18% pay increase this year," remarked McClure. 

"We're still falling behind," observed Cusick. 

Council member John Brown noted that the size of the workforce is not represented in McClure's figures, which "skews the numbers." McClure agreed this is a fair criticism and he would revise his figures to represent the actual number of employees. If the county has a larger workforce now than it did in 2018, that increase could actually be smaller. 

McClure also advised that Northampton County taxpayers pay these wages, but that's to some extent inaccurate. For many positions, especially in Human Services, the county receives a state contribution of as much as 90% of some of the wages paid. 

The county is currently undergoing a wage study of nonunion positions, which was ordered by Council over McClure's veto. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Lori Vargo Heffner Questions Delayed "Cover" Date by Recorder of Deeds

Last  night, Council member Lori Vargo Heffner read an email from a local title insurance company, complaining about the "cover date" used by the Recorder of Deeds when land records are indexed. Basically, this title agent was predicting that the sky will fall and lenders will refuse to grant mortgages unless something is done immediately. Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron did a good job responding to this complaint by noting that no closings in Northampton County have ever had to be postponed or delayed because of a "cover" date that is usually about one or two months behind the actual date. As a title searcher who pretty much practices exclusively in Northampton, I think I can explain this a little better. 

In Pennsylvania, the first person to the courthouse with a deed wins. If I sell Blackacre to Party A, and then sell Blackacre to Party B, the first person to record that deed is the owner of Blackacre. Is this fair to Party B? Yes, He has an obligation to check the record before he buys Blackacre to make sure no one has sold it before he got it. This is why we have title searchers and title insurance.

In Northampton County, as soon as the Recorder of Deeds records the Deed to Party A or B, that Deed is immediately available for inspection by anyone searching, whether online or at the courthouse.  Now the Recorder might make a spelling error or insert an incorrect address, but the document is immediately available. So there is no need for a "cover" date. There's nothing to cover. 

Before the document is ever even recorded, it is scanned and sent to the assessment office to make sure that the parcel identifier is accurate. If not, the Recorder will reject the document. Thus, there is no way in which a searcher looking for Blackacre can miss it, even if the name is spelled wrong or a wrong address is mistakenly entered. 

This title company has confused a cover date with a verification date. If we had to wait three months to see if Blackacre was conveyed, we'd have a problem. But the records are immediately available.

Once a document is recorded, the Recorder assigns someone to verify that everything was done correctly in the index.  Is there a spelling error? Was the wrong address used? Once that is established, the document is verified. 

So if I am searching Blackacre, and the conveyance to Party A was recorded 15 minutes ago, I will find it even if Party A is called Party Z and even if Blackacre is mistakenly entered as Whiteacre. The cover date is whatever date I complete the search.

In addition to confusing a cover date with a verification date, this local title company forgets that Pennsylvania law requires a person recording an instrument to make sure it is indexed correctly. When Party A brings his Blackacre deed to the courthouse, he has an obligation to make sure it is properly indexed. That can easily be accomplished even before the records are verified.    

As a title searcher, my job is to look for problems. We have a tendency to see everything as problems. It's an occupational hazard. 

We also start talking to ourselves.

A cover date is more appropriate with respect to the civil division. But that office maintains daily sheets from which we can review judgments that have yet to be entered in the system. 

NorCo Council Gets an Overview of New Veterans Court

When we talk about courts, it's usually involves stern-looking judges festooned, somber juries and flamboyant lawyers who duke it out on a legal chessboard. But there's been a sharp increase in another kind of court that focus on particular kinds of offenses or people. These are what are known as problem solving courts. Instead of sentencing people to 20 years in the electric chair, these tribunals are actually a team that address the problem that got a defendant into trouble, and comes up with solutions to prevent it from ever happening again. Northampton County has been a pioneer with these types of courts. It established a drug court in 2015, and not long after that, a mental health court. Now it has established a veterans court, and Northampton County Council was provided with an overview yesterday. 

Judge Jennifer Sletvold introduced herself as the administrative judge who now presides over problem solving courts. She succeeds Judge Craig Dally, who now is Northampton County's President Judge. She's uniquely suited to her new role because, as a juvenile court judge, she took a very innovative view of truancy and worked hard to reduce it.  

She told county council that establishment of a veterans court has always been her top priority. married to a veteran her top priority. She introduced Stephanie Spencer Stewart, coordinator of the county's problem solving courts. Stewart provided a road map of how it will work. 

Who's Eligible? - Veterans, obviously. They must be at least 18, and are ineligible for consideration if the charges are of a serious nature. 

Is it Pre or Post Conviction? - It can be both. A person can apply if he's already been convicted or if he's just been charged.  For pre-conviction applicants, the program is diversionary. This means charges will be dismissed on successful completion of the program.

How Does It Work? - It's a five-phase program, lasting from 18-24 months. In Phase One (60 days), participants are expected to engage in treatment and services based on a needs assessment provided to the courts. This includes weekly court appearances as well as meetings with volunteer veteran mentors. Phase Two (no time stated) requires engagement in a recovery network  or prosocial activities to build social skills and collaboration. In Phase Three (120 days), reporting requirements are relaxed. In Phase Four,(120 days) participants obtain employment or get job training . Phase Five (120 days) looks to see that these veterans have achieved stability, have completed whatever treatment was deemed necessary and can move on to other aspect of their lives. 

To qualify for graduation, participants must have engaged in treatment services, comply with supervision, engage in prosocial activities, have a job or be in training and develop a continuing care plan that is submitted to and approved by the court. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Lawsuit Filed to Prevent Bethlehem Landfill From Expanding Into Lands Preserved by Conservation and Woodland Easements

On August 14, 2023, eight Lower Saucon Tp residents filed suit against Lower Saucon Township and the Bethlehem Landfill to protect the 275 acres of forest from landfill destruction. In their suit, residents Bruce and Ginger Petrie, Andrew and Tina Krasnansky, Bob and Elizabeth Blasko, and Bob and Cindy McKellin claim Lower Saucon Township and the Bethlehem Landfill are violating the Donated and Dedicated Property Act by rezoning and attempting development on forest lands above the Lehigh River. 

At one time, the City of Bethlehem owned and operated the Bethlehem landfill. It also owned surrounding tracts. In 1994, it adopted two conservation easements and a woodland easement. The conservation easements preserve 208 acres of landfill property for scenic and conservation purposes and specifically exclude landfills. The woodland easement, which applies to 8 acres, is intended to preserve undisturbed woodland. It was binding on both the City and future owners to preserve the Delaware and Lehigh Canal Heritage corridor as well as "the original character and scenic nature of the land."  

Most of these residents live next to or near the buffered land/ In his lawsuit, Attorney Gary Asteak refers to them as third-party beneficiaries of the easement. He seeks to enjoin expansion into this conserved area. 

Why Bethlehem, which has adopted a Climate Action Plan, has failed to enforce these easements itself is anybody's guess.   

Dellicker, Montero and MacKenzie Agree on Term Limits

Yesterday, I told you the GOP congressional candidate Ryan MacKenzie supports term limits for members of Congress (3 terms for Congressmen and two terms for Senators). I decided to ask his GOP rivals, Kevin Dellicker and Maria Montero. for their positions. At the suggestion of readers, I also asked the Susan Wild campaign. 

Dellicker agrees with MacKenzie, adding that state officials should be term-limited as well. "I believe that we should have term limits for all Members of Congress and state elected officials too," he said. "I think our representatives should be citizen-legislators: people who live in the community, acquire real-world experience, serve for a few years, and then go back home to live and work under the laws they’ve enacted. That’s how our founders envisioned our government. And that’s what I’m running to do."

Montero agrees as well. "I have signed onto the U.S. Term Limits Pledge," she tells me. "Its backing is fairly bi-partisan, receiving nearly 80 percent support from across the political spectrum. This pledge highlights the importance of electing not career politicians, but a citizen legislature made up of individuals who understand the struggles of real people and who are committed to representing the values of the 7th Congressional District. If elected I will vote for a Constitutional Amendment to establish term limits in the U.S. Congress. I also support a ban on Members of Congress enriching themselves by trading stocks based on inside information and would vote for additional transparency in grant funding."

I have asked Congress member Sue Wild for her stance as well. 

In November, Northampton County voters will decide on term limits for County Council, Controller and Executive. I was initially opposed to term limits for local officials, but was persuaded by readers. 

MacKenzie Campaign Expands on Need For Stock Ban and Transparency in Grant Funding

Yesterday, I told you that GOP Congressional candidate supports term limits, a ban on insider stock trading by Congress members and a need for more transparency in grant funding. I asked for clarification about stock trading and the need for transparency in grant funding. His campaign sent this response: 

  • The current laws in place are woefully inadequate to oversee Members of Congress and their influence-peddling.  
  • The STOCK Act of 2012, which supposedly banned insider trading for Members of Congress, has clearly not sufficiently addressed the issue. 
  • The New York Times highlighted the issue in its 2022 reporting through a series of articles and noted that, “Some members of Congress have strangely good timing when it comes to stock investments…With inside knowledge about forthcoming policy changes or economic developments, the members could buy stocks shortly before they rose in price or sell them shortly before they fell.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/briefing/congress-stock-investments-profits.html)
  • To further address this, Congress has introduced a number of good proposals they should pass. Two of those that I would support are the Ban Stock Trading for Government Officials Act and the Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust (TRUST) in Congress Act. 
  • While the media and legislators are talking a lot about possible conflicts with stock trading, which is good, less attention has been paid to grant funding and possible conflicts of interests in that space. 
  • In 2022, it came to light that “House Dem [Congresswoman Susan Wild] Lands $1 Million for Former Client Implicated in Child Rape Case.” (https://freebeacon.com/democrats/wild-spending-house-dem-lands-1-million-for-former-client-implicated-in-child-rape-case/)
  • Congress should address these types of conflicts as well and Congresswoman Wild should have been required to disclose that she was seeking this funding for a former legal client. Without such a law in place, this particular case only came to light through investigative reporting.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Congressional Candidate Ryan MacKenzie Supports Term Limits, Ban on Stock Trading, Transparency in Grant Funding

State Rep. Ryan MacKenzie, one of three announced Republicans seeking Lehigh Valley's Congressional seat, has announced that he supports "term limits for elected officials as well as bureaucrats. I will also push to ban members of Congress from trading stocks based on their insider information and demand transparency in grant funding to expose their conflicts of interest."

To be specific, he's support term limits of three terms for Congressman and two terms for US Senators. 

MacKenzie also said he would support a ban on insider trading by members of Congress, but that is already illegal. A more important question is whether he supports the Ban Stock Trading Act, which would bar all members of Congress and executive branch from holding or trading in individual stocks, even if they are placed in a so-called blind trust. 

Finally, I'm unclear on his statement concerning transparency in grant funding and have asked for clarification. 

I have also forwarded MacKenzie's statement to his rivals, Maria Montero and Kevin Dellicker, for any insights they may wish to share. 

Dixie Cup Developer Wants Tax Break to Convert Factory Into 422 Apartments

Blogger's Note:
Wilson Borough resident Armando Moritz-Chapelliquen, who fought against converting the old Dixie Cup factory into a warehouse, remains quite concerned about the redevelopment of that site. To that end, he attended Monday night's meeting of Wilson Area School Board to learn what Skyline Development plans. His report is in detail below.

Bascially, Skyline wants a tax break known as a TIF so it can redevelop the site into 422 1 and 2-BR apartment.

My chief concern is the developer itself. I'll be sharing more soon.

Also, I see no reason for any tax break when there are people willing to buy this property without one. Why on earth would we subsidize a developer to increase the tax burden on property owners to pay for the education of students coming from two bedroom apartments?

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Correction: Who Else Has Withdrawn in NorCo Municipal Race?

Yesterday, I informed you that incumbent NorCo District Attorney Terry Houck has withdrawn as a candidate for re-election. At the moment, Democratic nominee Steve Baratta is unopposed. That could change if the local GOP finds someone who is willing to run, but that would have to occur no later than 75 days prior to the election. Yesterday was the final date on which party nominees could withdraw. Two other candidates for municipal office have withdrawn. 

In Hanover Tp, Jean E Versteeg has withdrawn as the Democratic nominee for Supervisor. 

In Plainfield Tp, Matt Glennon has withdrawn from either a two-year or four-year seat for Supervisor.   

Correction (11:40 am): Versteeg has informed me, via comment, that she still is running for Supervisor. Apparently, she was also a candidate for Auditor and withdrew from that race. 

Rueters: Fulton County Grand Jury Indicts Trump, 18 Others, in Scheme to Overturn 2020 Election

Reuters reports that a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, has returned an 11-count indictment (The Hill reports 13 counts) against former President Donald Trump  over his participation in a scheme to overturn the 2020 election in that state. In addition to Trump, 18 others face criminal accusations. These include former Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman as well as former chief of staff Mark Meadows. Charges include racketeering, a powerful law usually reserved for organized crime. 

It's highly unusual to return an indictment in the late evening. My guess is this was done to minimize the danger to grand jurors and prosecutors. Trump has warned, "If you come after me, I'm coming after you."  

I'll have more details once the dust settles. 

Cycling Commutes

During the summer months, I try to avoid driving as much as I can and hop on a bicycle. I can be holier-than-thou, and claim I'm doing my part to save the environment. The truth, however, is that it's a lot cheaper and I really enjoy it. But yesterday's ride was a bit too much of a good thing. 

When I ride to the courthouse, it's mostly downhill. Mostly. There are still some hills. If I turn from Bushkill Dr. to 13th Street, I have to climb a fairly steep hill with a lot of traffic and several lights. It's also fairly narrow,. If I continue on Bushkill Drive and turn to head to 7th Street, there's an even steeper hill and narrower street. So yesterday, I decided on another route from Nazareth, taking me along Country Club Road and past the AAA and Louise Moore Park. The hill there is more manageable. I was unaware that, about a half mile beyond the park, the bridge over Route 22 is longer there. I had to circle back and ride through several hills. So it was a challenge. 

When I left for home, I cheated. I rode part of the way and hopped on a LANTA bus. I love the bike racks on front and, as a senior, I ride free. 

Another concern is rain. Last week, I was caught in several downpours I cheated then, too. 

Is traffic a problem? Most people are very courteous. Today I pissed off a driver on 13th Street in Easton when I had trouble getting a move on after the light turned green at the top of the hill. Other than a loud horn and a few epithets that are mild compared to what I read on this blog, I was unscathed.      

Monday, August 14, 2023

Terry Houck Withdraws as NorCo DA Candidate

Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck has notified the elections office that he is withdrawing his candidacy for re-election.  Today was the last day on which he could withdraw. No independent candidate has filed nomination papers. This means that Stephen Baratta, the Democratic nominee, will be NorCo's next District Attorney. 

Houck, a Democrat, lost the Democratic primary to Baratta on May 16.  He won the Republican nomination as a result of a write-in campaign but refused to change his party affiliation. As a result, neither party would back him in the general election. 

In addition to being a man without a party, Houck was hamstrung by a lack of resources needed to wage a competitive campaign. 

Houck has yet to pursue other employment opportunities. 

Though Baratta was a judge for a quarter-century, he waged a hard-hitting and, at times, an ugly campaign. Houck has spent over 40 years in law enforcement, both as a police officer and as a professional prosecutor.  

Houck's departure from the race is a simple recognition that his re-election would be impossible and would expose his family to more of the brutal attacks they endured in the primary. It is nevertheless a blow to democracy. 

Money wins over merit.  

Local Republicans have until 75 days prior to the election to submit another candidate.  

A County Employee Tells Me Why She Supports a Voluntary Health Center For Workforce

Northampton County's most controversial issue at this time is an exclusive and voluntary health center for its workforce, with no co-pays. Many of you reject this out of hand as yet another perk for public sector workers that are denied to the rest of you. It certainly is a great benefit, but the county is doing this because it will actual.ly save you money. The county is self-insured, and health costs are increasing exponentially. It is projected that this clinic will save taxpayers between $1.5-2 million per year over the next five years. If this fails, the county can bail out at that time. 

I bumped into a county worker (I won't name her) at the grocery store last week. She was loading up for what she expected was going to be another long night. She works at a 24/7 operation, and gets mandated a lot. I asked her what she thought about the health center. 

She told me that, because she is mandated frequently, she often has to cancel doctor's appointments. She's unable to schedule minor procedures. Council member Tom Giovanni,. who opposed the health center, stated that there should be more of a focus on preventative care. Well right now, she's unable to get preventative care. If she or her child needs medical attention, they are pretty much forced to use an urgent care facility. This costs her money in the form of co-pays and costs the county money ion the form of higher medical costs. 

So she would welcome a health center as a facility that would enable her to get the preventative care she needs. 

Sultana Silent on Arrest at Easton City Council

Easton City Council had a very short meeting last week (August 9). It was their first meeting since Sultana's July 31 arrest for a domestic assault inside her home. At a meeting in June, she accused the other members of Easton City Council of bigotry and sexism. "I am a minority, a woman, an immigrant, a Muslim, and I want every race of human being who live in the City of Easton to be treated equally, not marginalized and targeted. ... Any woman who stands behind this podium and asks questions has been intimidated by the male elected officials and it's on record. ... I refuse to accept the status quo and will not allow a group of men to intimidate a woman of color. ... They think the black and brown community is criminal and dangerous ... ."

This time, she was quiet.

Her preliminary hearing is currently scheduled for August 28. No attroney has entered anappearance on her behalf.

Friday, August 11, 2023

The Real Reason Housing is Unaffordable

Affordable or workforce housing is the flavor of the day among most local governments. Even in Allentown, where so many churches are empty, the high cost of housing is a common refrain. Some form of rent control could be enacted to prevent current tenants from being displaced. There is no statewide ban on rent controls, so I am hard pressed to understand why our local elected officials have failed to pursue this option. But there's another reason why our housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, and that's mostly due to the onerous rules imposed by an unwieldy and slow bureaucracy in places like Allentown, 

A few weeks ago, I told you how Allentown makes life miserable for developers.  Like many municipalities, it requires a third-party review of building plans from a list of approved vendor.  This is supposed to expedite the permitting process by allowing a recognized independent agency to review the structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, architectural and accessibility requirements of a building project. It enables the developer to address any issues before plans are approved.  But guess what? Allentown, unlike other municipalities, insists on conducting its own review of submitted plans after the third party review is completed. And once those conditions are met, they are reviewed again ... and again ... and again. As a result, unless you're getting a tax break, there's little reason to invest in Allentown. 

These draconian rules and sloth-like mandarins combine to make it illegal or unprofitable to build. As a result, municipalities are saddled with a lack of supply. They have pretty much created the crisis of which they now complain. 

What our cities and larger townships really need to do is completely overhaul the permitting process to make it more efficient. I understand the need for safety, but the repetition and multiple checks and stops along the way need to be simplified. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Mayor Tuerk Sends His Greetings From Puerto Rico

Blogger's Note: Below is a greeting sent by Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk from sunny Puerto Rico. When I get something like this, I at least expect a picture. Instead, Tuerk wants to know why so many Allentonians between 25 and 54 are unemployed. In my view, the answer is obvious. Instead of teaching people how to fish, we just give them away. Why fish if they are handed to you? Mayor Tuerk's  email greeting is below. I am sure several of you have theories. Feel free to share them in the comments, and I will forward. Unfortunately, some of you will have xenophobic or racist views, but I will allow them because it explains that some of you have already made up your mind and have no interest in teaching anyone how to fish. 

Mayor Tuerk:

Good morning from Ponce
, Puerto Rico! I’m here to develop a better understanding of a culture that significantly influences the City of Allentown. My hope is that through understanding, I will be able to build the trust required to increase the likelihood of success in policy interventions designed to improve outcomes for the stakeholders invested in our city. Basically, I want to gain more credibility so that people will follow my lead.


Just over a month ago, the US Economic Development Administration released a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) for something called the Recompete Pilot Program. It says that in some parts of the country, people between the age of 25 and 54 are disproportionately unemployed or out of the labor market and asks applicants to produce plans to address the Prime Age Employment Gap in those communities. In the Lehigh Valley, the only eligible community is Allentown.


The first question requested for the project narrative is “Why?”


I need your help to answer that question. I’ve pasted the exact text from the NOFO below, but the question breaks down to a trio of possibilities.


  1. Are people unemployed because there are no “good jobs” available in the market? OR
  2. Are people unemployed because there are barriers keeping people from getting “good jobs”? OR
  3. Is it both?


Take your pick of the above but tell me how you think we got here.


Say as much or as little as you want. I’m collecting input from a lot of different people and our project team will put it all together as we consider our project narrative. All I ask is that you respond in some way. This is important for our region.


Understanding of regional conditions and needs – Recompete Plans should reflect a deep understanding of the region and its needs, including the conditions that led to a high prime-age employment gap among the region’s prime-age residents. They should be specific in detailing the contributing local conditions, employment barriers for different targeted populations, job quality, and geographic considerations. Beyond the PAEG, applicants are encouraged to provide qualitative and quantitative data that supports the region’s needs, including demonstrating persistent economic distress, and justifies potential investments

NorCo EMS on Power Outages Following August 7 Storm

 From NorCo EMS (Emergency Management Services): 

In addition to the severe flash flooding event that took place on Sunday, July 16, 2023, Northampton County Emergency Management Services is working with Med-Ed and PPL Electric Utilities to ensure County residents have their power restored following the storm event that has caused numerous outages in our region on Monday, August 7, 2023.
For Met-Ed customers:
Due to an extended restoration period, Met-Ed, in partnership with Giant Food Stores, is offering 2 gallons of bottled water (or the equivalent) and two bags of ice from August 9 until noon on August 10 at the locations listed below:
Met-Ed Customers who experience a service interruption should report their outage to the contact center by calling, texting, or online:
Call: 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877)
Text: OUT to LIGHTS (544487)
Current outage information can be found on their website at FirstEnergy Storm Center PA (firstenergycorp.com).

For PPL Electric Utilities customers:
For emergencies such as downed wires, call PPL 24/7 at 1-800-342-5775 and say “downed power line.”
Text "outage" to "TXTPPL" or report your outage online.
Customers who have been without power for 24 hours or more as a result of storms can purchase ice and water from any local vendor and submit receipts for reimbursement.
You should assume all downed or low-hanging power lines are energized and dangerous. Please stay at least 30 feet away and use extra caution where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Red State Ohio Appears to Support Women's Choice

Yesterday, Ohio voters rejected a ballot measure that would require 60% of the plebiscite to approve a change in their state constitution instead of a simple majority. The state legislature placed this matter on the ballot to prevent a citizen initiative that will give women the right to seek an abortion. 

Ohio joins red states Kansas and Kentucky, which have also rejected measures under which the state constitution creates no woman's right to choose. 

The hard-right's war against letting a woman make her own decision, appears to be a loser. 

Why Not Build a VA Hospital at former Allentown State Hospital Grounds?

According to the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council, at least 50,000 veterans live in Northampton and Lehigh County.  If eligible for health care, they can visit a clinic located in Allentown. But its hours are limited and the clinic is closed on weekends. For serious care, vets need to travel to the VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. I think it's time that one be established here and know the perfect spot - the former Allentown State Hospital. 

City Center is currently considering how to develop these site. I'm sure they'd welcome a VA hospital located close to center of the Lehigh Valley. 

Congressperson Sue Wild likes to tell everyone that she is the daughter of a career military father, so perhaps she can deliver on something that helps our retired military. 

Speaking of veterans, I'm told that Northampton County is establishing a Veterans Court. This would bein addition to a Drug and Mental Health Court currently in operation. When I get more details, I will share them. 

Retirees May Invite County Candidates to Next Luncheon

Northampton County retirees get together twice a year for lunch, in the Spring and Fall. This year's Fall luncheon is scheduled for October 10.  These affairs usually attract 200-300 of the county's 1,300 pensioners. Guests always include members of both the county administration and Blue Cross. This year is a municipal election year with lots of important races, so the retiree association is considering inviting the candidates for judge, DA, Controller and County Council. Because there are so many, they will probably just be introduced and then meet with people after the meeting. 

I told you yesterday that the county's pension fund is $463,795,774. The OPEB fund, which pays retiree medical expenses, is $48,534,422. I neglected to tell you that both are fully funded, meaning there are enough assets to pay every pension and medical claim. These are among the best performing funds in the state, if not the country. 

At the October meeting, retirees will select three individuals to serve on the Retirement Board, and County Exec Lamont McClure will select one of these names for confirmation by county council. The current retiree rep is Gerald E "Jerry" Seyfried, but he told me he's pretty busy conducting tours of the  Gerald E "Jerry" Seyfried swamp at Minsi Lake.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

COVID Making a Comeback

The stock prices of COVID vaccine manufacturers are crashing, but according to The Washington Post, the virus is on the rise. Hospital admissions have increased, but are still far below where they were at this time last year. 

I reside in senior housing, and there are several cases. They appear to be mild. 

NorCo Has $513,646,498 Invested With PFM Asset Management

You may remember John Spagnola from his football days at Bethlehem Catholic High School or his years with The Philadelphia Eagles. In Northampton County, he's known  more for his investment prowess as managing prowess as managing director at PFM, a Philadelphia investment firm. 

Last week, Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure advised County Council that PFM is managing $513,646,498 in county investments as follows: Pension fund - $463,795,774; OPEB fund - $48,534,422; and county trust fund - $1,316,302. 

Why Would Climate Activists Disrupt a Bike Race?

Let me start by stressing that I am deeply concerned about global warming. I agree with those who say we should start weaning ourselves off our finite fossil fuel reserves. Studies of our local air quality are long overdue. especially since the Lehigh Valley is rated as the worst place to live for people suffering from inflammatory lung disease. On a personal level, at least during the warmer months, I try to walk, take a bus or ride my bike when I can. This also saves me money, makes me more fit and is simply more fun. But climate activists can be their own worst enemy. Locally, this happened recently when landfill expansion opponents disrupted a Lower Saucon Township Council meeting with laughtracks. Environmentalists can often be as bad as born-again Christians in they way they preach and virtue signal to others. It happened last weekend at, of all things, a bicycle race. 

Once a year, UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) hosts a one-day bicycle road race. This year's2 71.1 km competition was held in Scotland.  It had to be stopped midway because climate protesters decided to glue themselves to the road and had to be removed (They do this during the Tour de France as well). 

Now I can see gluing yourself to the road outside a gas station or speedway to make a point. But a bike race? Cycling is one of the best ways to minimize carbon emissions, so what's the point? Actions like these actually detract from the message. 

  those who say we should start weaning ourselves off fossil fuel, I oppose the proposed expansion of Bethlehem Landfill because it is destroying the side of a mountain in the process. 

Monday, August 07, 2023

NorCo's Child Support System Criticized at County Council Meeting

At Thursday's meeting of Northampton County Council, resident Matt Flower attacked Northampton County's child support network.  He listed the following problems: 

(1) Failure to give timely notice of upcoming child support hearings. - He cited an example of a June 7 hearing in which notice was sent out on June 25.

(2) Failure to respond to subpoena requests. - Support matters are docketed separately from other civil matters, but Flower contends employees there have no idea what the subpoena process is. He provided an example of one case in which subpoenas were ultimately issued, but too late to allow them to be served. He contends conference officers "don't know their jobs and the rules that govern those jobs."

(3) Ex parte judicial communication. - Flower is referring here to a motion for continuance filed by a Defendant that Domestic Relations presented to the court without the Defendant's knowledge. I doubt that is ex parte. 

(4) Domestic Relations ignores self support reserve (SSR). - This exists to assure that low-income obligors retain sufficient income to meet their own basic needs as well as to maintain the incentive to continue employment. Historically, it is set at the federal poverty level for one person. According to Flower, support defendants' wages are garnished without regard to the SSR. There is no hearing or appeal. "The result is that some of the most impoverished citizens of our county, who have neither the resources to hire counsel nor the technical knowledge to defend themselves against these executive agency violations, are at most risk of these abuses."

Flower asked Executive Lamont McClure how many people are sitting in jail right now because of these issues.

McClure later explained that domestic relations is an arm of the court and under their, and not his, jurisdiction. He suggested that Council might want to schedule a meeting of its courts and corrections committee to determine the validity of Flower's criticism.  Council President Kerry Myers said he would schedule a hearing.  

Lance Wheeler Discloses PFA at NorCo Council Meeting

In June, Easton activist and constable Lance Wheeler was arrested by Wilson Borough police and charged with threatening three juveniles while driving a school van. He was  nabbed in the middle of a donation drive for fire victims, which outraged a lot of the people there. That's exactly what Lance wanted. He told me himself that he was given the option of turning himself in and refused. He also told me his arrest was political retaliation by both Easton Mayor Sal Panto and DA Terry Houck. 

Now, while his case is pending, he appeared before Northampton County Council last week to complain about his support. In the process, he volunteered that he is subject to a preliminary (not final) Protection From Abuse Act Order for allegations of abuse made by his children. He also admitted that he failed to bring paperwork concerning his earnings. But he claimed his ex-wife had them, and contends she used her influence as a county worker to get them. 

I contacted his ex-wife, who was none too happy to hear from me. She declined to discuss the matter, but denied that she abused her position as a county worker in any way. He's angry that Fiscal Affairs Director Steve Barron failed to return a call Wheeler made to him on Monday night and that Administrator Charles Dertinger "blew me off" on Tuesday. But he also paraphrased conversations he had with both. "Charles Dertinger played me like a clown," he insisted, claiming he is a "target of something."

He suggested that the county can take his social security number and determine his earnings. 

Interestingly, after the PFA Order was entered against Wheeler, he was allowed to keep his guns because he's a constable. He might be an elected constable, but is no longer certified. This means he's unable to work for magisterial district judges. 

Lance's behavior has grown increasingly erratic and paranoid. He's lost a considerable amount of weight and is no longer the happy-go-lucky guy we all used to see. If anyone should lose his guns for awhile, it should be Lance. 

Montero to Host Women Leaders Series on August 15

Women Leaders Series by BernieOHare on Scribd

Republican Congressional candidate Maria Montero is co-hosting a women's leadership conference on August 15 at Lehigh Country Club. She and her four special guests are all Republicans. Though the Leadership Institute is technically a nonprofit, its basic purpose is to train conservative activists. But I think anyone could benefit from learning how to raise funds, develop a winning message and take advantage of social media.

Montero has told me she'd really like to "increase civic engagement, especially amongst our young ladies. If you know of any HS or college students who may be interested, they’d be comp’d for sure."

If you have a daughter or granddaughter who you think would enjoy this event, contact Montero at maria.montero@me.com .

Friday, August 04, 2023

Zrinski, the Home Rule Charter and Parliamentary Procedure.

At their July 20th meeting, Northampton County Council rejected a contract for a voluntary and exclusive employee health center. It was a close vote, with 5 voting No and 4 voting Yes. An "utterly disappointed" Executive Lamont McClure stated this proposal would have saved taxpayers $1.5-2 million per year.  But it's by no means dead. When a new County Council takes office in January, this will almost certainly get a second hearing and is almost certain to pass. So I'm hard put to understand why Council member Tara Zrinski, who was on the losing side, would want a re-vote two weeks later. 

Conducting a vote last night would have violated the Sunshine Act. Under recent changes to the law, a matter must be on an agenda advertised at least 24 hours before a meeting. When made aware of this, Zrinski moved, with Kevin Lott seconding, to place the health center on the agenda for the next meeting.  

Her motion failed by the same margin that the health center resolution failed two weeks earlier. She, Kevin Lot, Ron Heckman and John Cuisck supported it. It was opposed by John Brown, Tom Giovanni, John Goffredo, Lori Vargo Heffner and Kerry Myers. 

Here's where she went wrong. She made a motion instead of just presenting a resolution. Under the Home Rule Charter, "Any member shall have the power to introduce a proposed resolution at any meeting of the County Council." See Section 604(b).To avoid a possible violation of the Sunshine Act, I'd agree that each Council member has the power to introduce a resolution so long as it is advertised 24 hours in advance. 

How is this accomplished? By simply notifying the clerk. She has no obligation to seek approval from the Council President or a majority of County Council. Each Council member has the power to introduce a resolution. 

The Home Rule Charter also provides, however, that "Each proposed resolution shall be introduced in writing and in the form required for final adoption." See Section 604(c). Zrinski failed to do that. The Clerk must circulate this written resolution to all other members of Council. See Section 604(d).

So Zrinski needed no approval from anyone to introduce a resolution. But it had to be in writing and the Clerk is required to circulate and advertise.

Despite last night's vote, Zrinski could simply provide a written resolution to the Clerk and inform her she wants it on the next agenda. That is her right as an individual Council member.   

It would, however, be foolhardy. It's clear her resolution would fail.

At last night's meeting, Council Solicitor Chris Spadoni noted that Roberts' Rules of Order provide for consideration of a vote only if someone in the majority wants it reconsidered. Thus, under Roberts' Rules, Zrinski would be unable to seek reconsideration. 

There are two problems with this argument. First, County Council never adopted, in the form of an ordinance, any rules of order governing the conduct of meetings. It's pretty much the Wild West. Second, even if it had, that particular rule would be contrary to the express provision of  the Home Rule Charter.  

My takeaways?

First, all Council members should familiarize themselves with The Home Rule Charter. Had Zrinski done so, she would realize that all she needed to do was present a resolution to the Clerk for consideration at the next Council meeting. 

Second, Council really needs rules of order. This will avoid the quagmires in which they often find themselves and will prevent individual Council members from trying to dominate meetings by weighing in on topics repeatedly.