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Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Milion Reasons To Say No To Slonaker

Don't know where he got his education, but he should ask for a refund.

He certainly has demonstarted his expience. Gootta' love this in a piece that essentially claims that Glenn Eckhart is dumb.

Allentown: Vote Hershman, Ramos, Fegley and MacLean

Allentown City Council Flyer

I would urge voters to also consider citixen activist and bremaster Richard Fegley and Roger MacClean, Allentown's former top cop.

Allentown School Board: Vote For Scott Armstrong, Bob Smith

Judge Giordano Needs Your Vote

I never have seen a larger crowd for a campaign kickoff than when Judge Emil Giordano announced in February that he was running for for the Pennsylvania Superior Court. He did so at the cavernous Northampton Memorial Community Center amid dozens of empty pizza boxes. Those boxes were empty because it seemed as though the entire Lehigh Valley had cascaded into Northampton, despite the single digit temperatures and mounds of snow everywhere. Some say there were about 600 people there, although it could easily have been 700. It was a bipartisan crowd, too. Democrats and Republicans. Lawyers and friends. Urbanistas and country folk. It was the Lehigh Valley. Northampton Mayor Thomas Reenock put it best when he called the gathering "our favorite son's debut."

Since that time, Judge Giordano's message has only grown stronger as he has criss crossed the state, in search of votes. But to win, he is going to need the same bi-partisan support he has had all along here in the Lehigh Valley. Democrats and Republicans are both going to have to come out and let their voices be heard. Send a message to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the land of midnight payraises.

The Lehigh Valley's favorite son also happens to be the son of two Italian immigrants who met while learning how to speak English in night school. They came here to raise a family and made pizzas. Lots of them. When Emil was old enough, he made pizzas, too. Lots of them. They got him through Bethlehem Catholic High School, Moravian College and Villanova Law School. Giordano learned about hard work. He learned to respect and admire his parents and grandparents, and to admire the many people who appear before him to become naturalized citizens. Most importantly, he learned how to listen.

"The time spent behind counters, waiting on people, served me very well," Giordano has said. In time, there was a law office adjacent to Pizza Village. And after 18 years of practicing law, he became a judge. And for the past 12 years, he has handled that role with humility and a genuine concern for everyone who comes before him,lawyers and non-lawyers alike.

At the same time, he has taught at Becahi and Moravian College. But where he has excelled is as a coach to young athletes, bringing out the best in them. I've seen him take groups of kids and win basketball championships despite claiming to know nothing about the sport. He knows how to motivate.

After 12 years as a judge, Emil Giordano is the same person he was before he put on a robe. Few other judges can make that claim.

Why is he running for the Pennsylvania Superior Court? That's the state's busiest court. It's an appellate court that reviews the decisions of common pleas judges in all 67 counties. Just to keep up, the 15 judges on that bench must each hand down one or two opinions daily.

Giordano already knows about hard work, He added that he would be a "common sense judge who follows the law." He also believes that the best person to evaluate the work of other judges is a person who once sat where they are sitting.

Why do people like him? Giordano, when he was still practicing law, once challenged Morganelli in a DA's race. That night, as the numbers came in, it was clear that Morganelli would be the victor. Instead of calling Morganelli to concede, Giordano actually walked into the Democratic stronghold and congratulated him in person.

That's class.

That's Giordano.

We could use some of that on our appellate courts.

If you want another Philadelphia judge, stay home. If you want someone who actually listens and does not consider himself better than you simply because he dons a black robe, you need to come out and vote. He needs Democrats and Republicans alike.

Check Out LWV Voter Guide

If you want to know more about the candidates, check out the League of Women Voters Voter Guide. For Lehigh County candidates, the Voter Guide is on the main page.

I had a good laugh when I saw the information provided by Tricia Mezzzacappa, who is again running for West Easton Borough Council. Under occupation, she claims to be an "animal rights activist." And in her own commentary, she states that West Easton has been led "by very, very stupid people."

I guess she's hoping that the voters are very, very stupid, too.

Opinions Online, 10/31/15

Blogger's Note: Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature. If you'd like to express your opinion on any topic, click on the Opinions Online button on my left sidebar. You can also call 385-325-2564. In addition to these submissions, I am taking some comments from throughout the week and re-publishing them here.


You have been quiet on the K. Kane investigation. What is your opinion of her. She is a bad example for the democratic party to say the least.
(Blogger's Reply - I have published numerous critical stories, have called on her to resign and support her removal.)


As I watch the Brown Administration unfold I am struck with an observation. John Brown is not an evil man; he does not deliberately hurt people. He is however the victim of "innocent ignorance" of how County government works. When people call for a business man for his position I shudder. County Government has evolved in complexity and is not in the profit business. This is not to be confused with his poor judgement or keeping dept. heads out of important meetings or disregarding union contracts. It is no accident that other than Brackbill all previous execs had years of county experience behind them.


If for some reason, there is an open date after the regular season and playoff schedule for the local high school football teams, I urge the athletic directors, administrators, school boards, Bishop, and who ever else can make a decision to have Easton Area High School's varsity football team play Notre Dame of Greenpond's varsity football team. Someone please make this happen!


anyone who doesnt vote on Tuesday should be ashamed of themselves living int he United States of America....furthermore you should not be able to complain about the politicians.


Bert Daday needs to finally hang it up and move on from the airport board, hopefully in favor of someone under age 85 with actual aviation experience.


Dennis Pearson: This was my campaign slogan for the County Commissioner election of 2011 ...

Dennis Pearson for Lehigh Commissioner - A Life Time of Preparation Ready to Serve You - Join the Mission

Please note --- I am not a on the ballot candidate this year for any elected City of Allentown, Lehigh County or Allentown School Board position nor am I a write-in candidate...

Therefore, I ask residents of Allentown and Lehigh County to vote on November 3 ... And this call also goes out to residents everywhere in their own communities ..Indeed, there are no perfect candidates. They, like all of us, are all flawed. But we must prayerfully examine the policies of the candidates, from those seeking the Oval Office to those seeking local offices, and go to the polls to support the men...


Bert Daday needs to finally hang it up and move on from the airport board, hopefully in favor of someone under age 85 with actual aviation experience.


Bernie, has Brown changed the Stoffa policy not to allow deputy sheriff's to keep county vehicles at their homes overnight? An NC Sheriff's vehicle has been spotted several times in a community in LEHIGH COUNTY. That doesn't seem right.


An Appeal to Lower Saucon Voters

Letter to All Lower Saucon Township Voters

As a resident of Lower Saucon Township, I can’t remember a time in the township’s history when it was more important for the residents to head the polls and to insure the future direction of our community!

Furthermore, there has never been a time in Lower Saucon that a foreign corporation has dumped almost $100,000 dollars into the election process for its own business interest. Our township residents are being exposed to a major loop-hole state and federal campaign financing law that permits a CORPORATION to make an “independent expenditure” and could influence the outcome of an election. As long as the CORPORATION does not have any direct contact with the candidates they are either supporting or opposing they can spend as much money as they want – there are no limits!

The company taking advantage of this loop-hole is none other than IESI PA Bethlehem Landfill Corporation owned by theCanadian based Progressive Waste Solutions Corporationwith the help of their Philadelphia based attorneys. They are supporting Tom Maxfield and Sandra Yerger.

Matt McClarin
IESI’s mailers and calls fail to explain why they want these candidates ele cted and use scare tactics to sway voters. What they don’t tell you is that every year an average 375,000 tons of garbage is hauled into the township by nearly 40,000 trucks, most of which are from out-of-state. The waste from out-of-state is approximately 70% of the total hauled into the township daily! In addition, IESI does not want you to know that the proposed 2016 township budget has NO TAX INCREASES, NO CUTS TO SPENDING, and IESI’s TOTAL CONTRIBUTION TO REVENUE IS ONLY 10%.

What IESI wants from these candidates is not an expansion approval, but azoning change! What is zoning? A simple explanation of zoning is lines on our township map that tell a property owner what they can and cannot build on their property. For instance, many of us in this township live within a Residential or Rural Agricultural district, it allows for one house on a specific number of acres along and other uses that will protect environmentally sensitive land. Another example is the Light Industrial district which allows for manufacturing, warehousing, and even landfills.

Since 2005, IESI has been acquiring the rural agricultural land adjacent of their land to the tune of 83 acres . IESI wants the Lower Saucon Township Council to change their land that is zoned Rural Agricultural to Light Industrial district. IESI has selected the candidates who will permit this changed based on their previous support of IESI.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that the current zoning is designed to protect quality of life for all the residents of the township, not just a select few. Zoning establishes the boundaries that separate the many different types of residences, business and all uses throughout the township. It protects all the interests of the residents who live and/or work as one with little conflict. An overwhelming majority of residents around the current IESI PA Bethlehem Landfill do not want these boundaries to be changed. It will impact their quality of life and feel it will set a very negative precedence in this township; for the right amount of money, a corporation or developer can change the character of a community and the quality of life for the residents doesn’t matter. Furthermore, what they want to do is considered SPOT ZONING and that is ILLEGAL. So, they are using a legal loop-hole in the campaign laws to get an ILLEGAL change in our zoning code!

I encourage all residents to attend council meetings and become engaged in our local government! I have been attending council meetings, planning meetings, and public hearings for three years. I have met many great people from all walks of life. It is ironic, that the only time I see new faces at these meetings is when they feel their quality of life and homes are threatened by outsiders attempting to change our zoning codes to their benefits.

We are a community that contributes .25% of our earned income tax to protect the environment and hold off development. Many of our current council member s first walked through the council room doors to object to various projects that were going to impact their quality of life. For Maxfield it was a cell tower; deLeon it was a quarry, and Willard it was the Phoebe Retirement Community. For the most part, these council members have continued to maintain the quality of life by enforcing the current zoning codes. That was until the proposed rezoning the Applebutter Road area. We watched one of our council members flip-flop on the issues because it would be financial beneficial to the township.

If it wasn't for the people living around the landfill, IESI’s dream of a western expansion would now have been realized. The residents are not objecting to IESI expanding within there existing foot print into the southeastern area by placing new trash on top of old trash and would extend the life of the landfill 6-7 years.

Through our fight to save not only our community, environment, and quality of life, but all residents, we have forced IESI to revise their dream for the landfill expansion.If the new eastern expansion is approved it will generate an additional $6,000,000 in revenue to the township while not using any new land. This revenue would never have been a reality if it wasn't for the people opposed to the zoning change.

I am not anti-business, in fact many of my neighbors own small business that employ ten times the amount IESI employs; somewhere between 8-12 people. I have never had a bad word to say about my neighbors that operate businesses, in fact I'm friends with many of them. Our community will be here long after the landfill has closed and are departed. I know who I am voting for on Election Day! It will not be for any candidates that benefited from a corporation or developer that can spend an unlimited amount of money to chan ge the very thing that protects all residents quality of life - ZONING.

This is not Washington special interests cannot be allowed to win elections when informed residents VOTE.

Matthew McClarin
Lower Saucon Township

Friday, October 30, 2015

Kane Office Challenge a No Quo, Sez Morganelli

(Kathleen Kane Theme Song)

The way to test a person's right to hold wlwcted office is by an action called a quo warranto. Those are brought by the Attorney General or a District Attorney. Obviously. Kathleen Kane is not going to be suing herself any time soon. But what about the DAs? Here's what NorCo DA John Morganelli has to say.

I am NOT filing a Quo Warranto against Kathleen Kane. I was just noting that I was asked to by a high ranking OAG offical.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a high ranking person in the OAG and asked if I would consider bringing a Quo Warranto action to remove AG Kathleen Kane from office. Under Pennsylvania law, generally, only a district attorney or the attorney general has the legal standing to bring such an action that seeks to remove a public official from office who no longer has the legal qualifications to hold such office. I found it alarming that high ranking OAG people thought things were so bad that they openly were looking to have a coup regarding their boss. Since then, however, the situation has gotten worse. In my 24 years as District Attorney, and my 35 years as a lawyer, I have never seen anything like this. We have accusations of criminal conduct against the AG. Counter charges by the AG of criminal conduct against judges and internal revolt by top OAG officials against their boss. There have been calls for a federal investigation, and calls for independent prosecutors to try to find out what is actually going on.

The OAG is dysfunctional at this point. It is a mess , and damage is being done to the foundation of Pennsylvania's criminal justice system. Public confidence in the OAG as well as in our judges and courts are being eroded. I never imagined it could get so bad. Although Ms. Kane continues to have the right of due process relative to the charges against her, it is imperative that this matter come to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

John Morganelli is Pennsylvania's senior district attorney. He is past president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and was the Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2008.

Landfill Dumps Another $28,700 Into Lower Saucon Races.

IESI, the corporation that has already spent $96,500 in an apparent attempt to buy the Lowwer Saucon Township Council race, has just spent another $28,700. According to a 24-hour report filed with the NorCo elections office on Thursday, IESI has paid that sum to "high-stakes public strategy" firm Mercury, LLC for a mail piece opposed to the candidacies of Priscilla deLeon, Dave Willard and Donna Louder.

deLeon, Willard and Louder are running together as a slate. deLeon and Willard are Democrats, while Louder is a Republican. IESI owns the Bethlehem Landfill, which wants to expand west and will need a more complaint Council. deLeon, Willard and Louder have tended to be anti-landfill.

This slate is opposed by Republicans Tom Maxfield and Sandra Yerger. Democrat Gary Gorman, whose wife is employed as Finance Director in Lower Saucon Township, has publicly supported Willard. According to the Valley Voice, he has "publicly stayed out of the landshipo fray." I'd out it more bluntly. He avoided questions about his position on this blog, and when he finally did answer, indicated he opposes the zoning change now but could change his mind later.

Though Pennsylvania campaign laws generally prohibit corporate donations, they may be made as independent expenditures.

Updated 5:54: An earlier version of this story inaccurately states that Gorman is opposed to landfill opponents deLeon, Willard and Louder. He's a little more slippery.

Differences Showcased in Judicial Debate Between Murray and Scomillio

Ten minutes before thee show, meeting room nearly at capacity
Judicial candidates Sam Murray (Democrat) and Vic Scomillio (Republican) exchanged views last night in the one and only debate they will have before voters decide on Tuesday which one of them is best suited to be a Northampton County Court of Common Pleas judge. This forum took place before a standing room only crowd of over 100 at the Northampton County courthouse. This candidates' night took place thanks to the Northampton County League of Women Voters (LWV). Lafayette College's David Woglom played the straight man, acting as moderator and posing questions prepared in advance by the LWV, as well as questions from the audience, submitted on index cards.

Woglom goes over debate procedures with candidates
This is the most important local race this election cycle. Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas are the trial judges and have jurisdiction over most civil and criminal matters. Murray and Scomillio are running for the vacancy created when Judge Edward Smith was inducted as a united States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. At full strength, there are nine judges and one senior judge. The salary is $178,111, and judges are elected for a ten-year term. At the end of that time, they can simply seek retention.

If the audience is any indication of who will be voting on election day, Sam Murray will win. At least 70 of the people there were wearing Murray buttons and T-shirts.

Having a largely friendly crowd seemed to relax Sam. He was himself throughout the debate, and appeared very much like the kind of guy you'd be sitting next to at a diner or McDonald's. In fact, when asked about his greatest weakness, it was McDonald's. Vic appeared stiff and wooden, very much like the kind of guy you'd see in a board room. He claimed his greatest weakness was that he would spend too much time on cases because he cares so much. That answer seemed a tad artificial.

For the most part, they agreed or had only minor differences to the tepid questions posed by the LWV, which was operating under the misunderstanding that they can only ask judge candidates about their qualifications and experience. So yes, neither will legislate from the bench. Both would impose the sentences required for hate crimes. Defendants are entitled to bail, something that many hardliners forget is specifically mentioned in the Constitution they claim to literally follow. They both think local judges should be elected. They both favor individual calendars to move cases along, which is contrary to current Northampton County practice. They both support problem solving courts.

But there were differences.

L to R: Sam Murray, LWV Bev Hernandez, Meyner Center Dave Woglom and Vic Scomillio
Experience Matters

The biggest of these is experience. "Experience matters" is the mantra that Sam repeated at least four times during the debate. He has been a practicing attorney for 32 years, has tried every kind of case, and was selected by the Court as both a Custody andJuvenile hearing Master. Vic has only half the experience, yet has circulated campaign literature claiming essentially to be the mist experienced person in the world.

This perplexed Sam so much that he called Vic out on it. Aside from himself, Sam told Vic there are lawyers and judges with 40 years of experience. How could he claim to be the most qualified?

"My experience speaks for itself," was his rather hollow answer.

Scomillio Violates Employee's Due Process Rights

This inexperience is apparent in the way he handled the termination of Jill Mancini, a former Assistant County Solicitor he fired two days before Christmas, before he was even in office himself as County Solicitor. He did it by cell phone from his car, in a conversation that kept fading in and out.

That was a terrible way to treat somebody. He also failed to accord Mancini with something that should be basic in any judge. Due process. He provided no notice or opportunity to be heard.

Mancini, who was in the audience last night, sued and won. Taxpayers are now on the hook for nearly $300,000 in lost wages and attorney fees.

Candidates were asked last night whether those costs will go up, especially since the County has appealed the ruling. Scomillio argued that any costs from that defeat would be more than offset by efficiencies he created in his one year as Solicitor. In incredulous Murray called Vic's explanation "nonsense" and predicted this fundamental deprivation of constitutional rights will cost taxpayers at least $500,000.

Working Poor's Access to the Courts

Scomillio claimed that there are safeguards in place to serve the legal needs of those with limited or no income. He pointed to North Penn Legal Services, which is funded by lawyers. Vic noted he himself has done pro bono (free) work for clients in need.

But Sam said that's not enough. "There are a lot of people who cannot afford the legal services that the people in this room can afford," he said. He noted that the budget at North Penn Legal Services has been reduced and it no longer accepts cases from victims of domestic violence or landlord tenant matters.


Vic portrayed police officers as victims of violence and argued more needs to be done to help them do their jobs. While Sam agreed that the vast majority of police officers are dedicated, profiling does occur outside of Northampton County. "If I were black, i would not want to drive at night," he said.

What's sad about this debate is that not one media outlet, save for this blog, bothered to cover it. I think that, once again, they are failing in their mission to keep the people informed. If you were there, and have observations to share, please add them. I took copious notes, but I'm worse than the newspapers. I left my notebook at the courthouse. This report is based solely on my own faulty memory.

Updated 10:20 am: Notebook Retrieved. - My Notebook has been retrieved. The Council Clerk has just sent me an email, advising me, "We will lock it up until you're able to stop by to pick it up." My response. "You don't have to lock it. It is not the Ten Commandments."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

More Local Support For Giordano Bandwagon

FROM EMIL GIORDANO CAMPAIGN – The Emil Giordano for Superior Court Committee is proud to announce the endorsement of Lehigh Valley officials,
including Republican State Representatives Mark Gillen and Barry Jozwiak, Democratic Lehigh County Executive Tom Mueller, Republican Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach, Democratic Berks County District Attorney John Adams and former Republican Allentown Mayor William Heydt.

“I am incredibly grateful for the tremendous amount of bipartisan support my campaign has received and I am confident that working together we will be successful on Election Day,” Judge Giordano said.

Judge Emil Giordano is running for a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Judge Giordano has been endorsed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, Pennsylvania Medical Society, National
Federation of Independent Businesses, Pennsylvanians for Effective Government, Le-Hampton Lodge 35 FOP, Allegheny County FOP, Queen City Lodge FOP, Scranton FOP, Pennsylvania Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), ABC Eastern Pa. Chapter and has earned the "recommendation” of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Firearms Owners Against Crime and LIFEPAC. Judge Giordano currently serves on
the Northampton Court of Common Pleas, a position he has held since 2003. Prior to being elected, Judge Giordano served as an assistant district attorney, assistant public defender, civil litigator and as lead counsel in his private law practice. Judge Giordano resides in Bethlehem with his wife Tina and his two sons, Joseph and Caden. For more information about Giordano’s campaign please visit EmilGiordanoforJudge.com.

Fed Ed To Propose Up to Two Mill Tax Hike

Allentown's Home Rule Charter, Section 802, requires Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski to present City Council with a balanced budget and budget message at least 60 days prior to the end of the fiscal year. That means his budget is due no later than Monday. When it arrives, it will include a tax hike, possibly as high as two mills. City Council member Julio Guridy has confirmed that there will be a tax hike, but is unsure just how high it will be. The voting public, it appears, will be kept completely out of the loop until the day after the election.

When will the public know? It appears that this tax hike, a certainty, will be kept under wraps until the day after the election. The fear is Jeff Glazier and Mary Ellen Koval, both of whom are running for re-election to City Council and Controller,.will be hurt if the public knows what really is being planned.

Allentown City Council's Budget and Finance Committee, which ordinarily meets every fourth Wednesday, was suddenly canceled by Chairman Jeff Glazier yesterday. Is this because Glazier wishes to avoid discussing the tax hike he knows is on its way?

City Council Clerk Mike Hanlon said the Budget Committee often delays its monthly meeting. "That's not out of the ordinary," he explained. "I would never have anticipated the Budget tonight."

So when will the actual Budget be presented? "You'll have to ask them," he answered, referring to the Mayor's office. The Mayor's office, not known for its transparency, won't be answering that question.

I called Glazier and left a message, but he never returned my call. Controller Mary Ellen Koval also failed to return my call, bit I cornered her at yesterday's Dougherty rally. "As far as I know, it's coming out on Monday," she said of the budget.

Here's the likely scenario. Fed Ed's tax hike budget will be released late Monday, as required by the Home Rule Charter. But he is only required to release it to City Council, and will refuse to release it to the public until Wednesday, ostensibly to give Council an opportunity to review it first.

The first inkling the public will have of a tax hike will be at Wednesday's Budget and Finance Committee, one day after the election.

Lou Hershman, a City Council candidate and watchdog who alerted me to the sudden cancellation of the Budget Committee, had some harsh words for Pawlowski and Glazier.

"It's bad enough that seniors on fixed incomes and the working poor are going to have to pay for the City's fiscal irresponsibility, but keeping this important information from the public is no better than a burglar who sneaks into your home in the dead of night. Burglars get prosecuted, but it's too bad there's no penalty for politicians who steal elections."

Well now you know. A Morning Call reporter was in earshot when I was speaking to Guridy, so my guess is that it knows, too. This is news and is something the public has a right to know.

According to The Express Times, Allentown already has the highest taxes in the Lehigh Valley. "The school, county and city property taxes are $7,964.06 on a home assessed at $180,863 in Allentown. $180,863 is the average assessment for a residential property in Lehigh County."

Wanna' Win a Bike?

Joanne Jackson is one of the four Democrats seeking an at-large seat on Lehigh County's Board of Commissioners next week. Fundraising in these local raises has been anemic, which I think is a good thing. To raise money, Jackson is raffling off her 7th grade bicycle.

She also rode it after the Kevin Dougherty rally yesterday. I kicked in $5.

The other Democrats running include Dan Hartzell, The Morning Call's former Road Warrior; Hillary Smith, a marketing professional; and Bob Martin, a public relations professional.

Jackson and Hartzell appear to be the two strongest Democrats.

Their Republican opponents are Marty Nothstein, a former Olympic cyclist; Vic Mazziotti, Former Fiscal Director at NorCo; Brad Osbourne, a local plant manager; and Amanda Holt, a piano teacher who was appointed to the Board.

They don't need any raffles, although a dunk tank for Wayne Woodman would probably bring in millions.

LV Dems Rally For Supreme Court Candidate Kevin Dougherty

Local Dem officials backing Judge Kevin Dougherty
Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty is a candidate for the Pa. Supreme Court. Elected in 2001, I had heard he is a reformer who has revamped Philadelphia's challenging Family Courts, making that county a model for the rest of the state. I also liked his emphasis on problem solving courts like a veterans' court.

I met him speak before the primary and became an instant fan. I love his explanation of his role as a judge. He views it as "serving the most at-risk and marginalized, the poor and working poor. The average day individual who walks our streets and roads in the desire and hope that they may be safe, in and outside of their home. Each day, every day, we see the worst that life can offer our families and children. Each day, every day, we have a vision, and we implement that vision so that we have a period or a series of accomplishments and successes which advance the health and welfare of our families."

When invited to a rally for him early last night at his Westgate Mall campaign HQs, I attended.

Though he obviously has an Irish name, I was unaware until today that he is first generation Irish. Don't tell Morganelli, but both his parents came here from the old sod. He grew up on the streets of South Philly.in what he called the Irish ghetto, though it's really a blue collar neighborhood.

Being Irish makes one the Universal Minority. We are the Jews of the Irish Sea, the blacks of the British Isles, the Mexican gardeners of English country estates. In short, we know what it is like to be treated like shit, although most of us start putting on our own airs pretty quickly.  

Dougherty is the first member of his family to get a college and then a law degree, but his real education was on the streets. That helped him as a prosecutor under Lynn Abraham, and even more when he became a judge dealing with juveniles.

Like judicial candidate Sam Murray, Dougherty also spent a few years as a Master in juvenile court.

He was particularly tough on kids who went on rampages with Flash Mobs, where they might meet in an area of Chinatown or on Washington Street's Vietnamese area and terrorize minority businesses. For every lie a juvenile told him, he would go away a year.

He also got a handle on truancy by forcing parents to attend lectures on parental responsibility. ... Or they could go to jail.

Some have criticized Dougherty because he is from Philly. "I had no choice in where I was born," he joked. "That was a decision made by my parents."

Others, mostly anti-union types, are critical because Dougherty's brother, known as Johnny Doc, is a prominent labor leader who heads up IBEW Local  98. Close to 40 trade union members were at Dougherty's rally yesterday. He considers their support a badge of honor.

Numerous local officials and labor leaders were with Jodge Dougherty, including NorCo DA John Morganelli, State Senator Lisa Boscola and State Rep Dan McNeill.

"He really wants to make a difference in people's lives," said Boscola. Morganelli added that Dougherty is very tough on violent crime, but willing to give deserving people a second chance. Danny McNeill called Dougherty the "best candidate I ever say in my whole life," and then embraced him in a gigantic bear hug

Dougherty's funeral services are on Wednesday.

Fed Ed Goon Attempts To Silence Two Bloggers in One Day

I've written several times about Fed Ed Goon Ed "Disgrace" DeGrace, a bully who uses threats, intimidation and profanity to silence anyone who dares criticize Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski. He has the distinction of being the first anonymous troll I ever outed, way back in 2008. That has made no difference in his behavior. He's also the man behind a $8,000 illegal contribution to Fed Ed's first mayoral run in 2005. He chaired the PAC which donated this money, but has never filed a report indicating where he got his money. Yesterday, he did his best to muzzle both Michael Molovinsky and yours truly.

Molovinsky warned Allentown School Board candidate Mark Smith about Disgrace, and this is what ensued.

Ed DisGrace
I was unaware of this when I attended a rally for Supreme Court candidate Kevin Dougherty yesterday. State Rep. Danny McNeill was telling me about the state budget impasse when Disgrace barged in with and interrupted our conversation with insults. This continued until I began snapping his picture.

When the rally finally started, I began photographing the speakers and taking notes on their remarks. But DisGrace got behind me and began taunting me as I worked, making it impossible for me to catch more than a few words. You can actually see DisGrace in action at 2:00 to 2:16 of this video.

His taunts had reached the point where they were beginning to distract the speakers as well as me.

Eventually, he was pulled away, and I believe he must have been asked to leave.

DisGrace exemplifies everything that is wrong with Allentown politics.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Barron, Heffner Prevail in NorCo's Sweet 'n Sour Debate

Phillips a little uncomfortable shaking hands after debate
I'd call it the sweet 'n sour debate. Last night, Northampton County's Controller candidates Steve Barron (Democratic incumbent) and Hayden Phillips (Republican challenger squared off in a debate at Gracedale's Chapel before a crowd of about 100 supporters. Their clash was immediately followed by a forum featuring the County Council for Districts 3 and 4. In District 3, Democrat Lori Vargo Heffner and Republican John Cusick seek the seat being vacated by Lamont McClure at the end of this year. In District 4, incumbent Democrat Scott Parsons is fending off a challenge by pilot Matt Dietz. This event was sponsored by Northampton County's League of Women Voters. It is the only candidates' night scheduled, but most of the people there already have made up their minds.

Dietz gets last-minute pointers from his daughter
In the Controller clash, Hayden Phillips, a current member of Council, immediately went on the attack. Noting media accounts describing Barron as the "worst Controller ever, he accused him of "dirty politics." He belittled Barron's Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) status. "CFE stands for 'I'm not an accountant,'" he charged, calling him a "festering sore that has to be cured." He claimed Barron is "capable of any misdeed."

For his part, Barron tried his best to remain congenial. He admitted that he has made mistakes, but argued he is a different person at age 38 than he was at age 30.

Arlene Klocek gives us a bright smile
He did attack Phillips for his role in proposing what ended up being a one mill tax hike last year, but Phillips countered that financial projections had indicated the County would only have $1 million in the till at the end of last year.

In robocalls, Barron has suggested that Phillips would try to privatize Gracedale. Phillips responded that, as Controller, he "would not take a policy position. I would not be pro or con. That goes out the window." As a Council member, Phillips admitted that he does support a free study of the advantages of forming a 501c3, and noted that pro-Gracedale Democrats like Bob Werner and Scott Parsons agree with him.

When it was over, I asked several Republicans whether Phillips had won. "He lost," responded one of them, a sentiment that was echoed by several others who are still going to vote for him.

Phillips came on too strong, while Barron was congenial and even spoke to a fellow who was heckling him during the debate.Barron actually apologized to the guy. People like sour sauce and sweet sauce, but Phillips was simply too sour.
(From L to R, Matt Dietz, Scott Parsons, NorCo LWV Prez Beverly Hhernandez, Lori Vargo Heffner and John Cusick)

In the Council debates, I'd expect to see John Cusick or Scott Parsons come out on top. Both are very knowledgeable about County government. Nobody works harder than Scott Parsons, who had a near 100% attendance rating at Council and Committee meetings last year.

This debate was far more civil, to the point where it became boring. Arlene Dereskiewicz Klocek had to nudge me awake at one point as I began to doze off.

Though they were all impressive, the winner of this debate would have to be Lori Vargo Heffner. She had a good self-deprecating sense of humor, and conveyed an image of sincerity that seemed to impress even the hard-line conservatives who surrounded me. "She seems like such a nice woman," a tea party member told me as the debate went on.

She was the sweet sauce to compliment the sour sauce from Phillips.

"Why the heck should you vote for a psychotherapist for County Council?" she asked. After the laughter subsided, this double master's degree recipient noted that 48% if the Countys budget deals with human services. "I feel I have something to offer."

Cusick, a high school math teacher who is a bit a=of a wonk, championed the idea of converting Gracedale into a 501c3 before other counties began actively pursuing it. He also spoke of needs for improvements at the 1870's era jail. "To say it's functionally obsolete is an understatement" he noted.

Parsons stressed his inclusive approach to government."Rs and Ds don't matter," he said. "We've got to make sure we provide the services to the people that need them."

Matt Dietz, whose young daughter was giving him a pep talk before the action started, worked his way up from a baggage handler at the Airport to a pilot and small business operator. He spiced his remarks with what people tell him as he goes door-to-door. From speaking to police officers and municipal officials, he pointed to a need for a central booking station in Northampton County so that officers can get back on the road. He'd also work for a more proactive approach to drug overdoses.

All the candidates did very well, and all certainly proved they are worthy of support.

At one point in the evening, Heffner offered this advice. "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don't say it mean." She seemed to follow that mantra the best. Phillips, not so much.

Giordano Gets More Democratic Support

Judge Giordano and Steelworkers Prez Jerry Green
From the Emil Giordano Campaign: – The Emil Giordano for Superior Court Committee is proud to announce the endorsement of Lehigh Valley officials, including former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, former Northampton County Executive and County Council Member Gerald Seyfried and Jerry Green, President of the United States Steelworkers, Local 2599.

“I have known and worked with Emil Giordano for more than 25 years,” said John Callahan. “Emil Giordano is an experienced, qualified and honorable judge and I know he will be an excellent addition to the Pennsylvania Superior Court."

Judge Giordano added, “I am proud of the broad coalition of that has joined together in support of my campaign and I am confident that working together we will be successful on Election Day.”

Giordano's My father-in-law and mother-in-law were proud members of the Steelworkers Union.

Judge Emil Giordano is running for a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Judge Giordano has been endorsed by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police, Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, Pennsylvania Medical Society, National Federation of Independent Businesses, Pennsylvanians for Effective Government, Le-Hampton Lodge 35 FOP, Allegheny County FOP, Queen City Lodge FOP, Scranton FOP, Pennsylvania Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), ABC Eastern Pa. Chapter and has earned the “recommendation” of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Firearms Owners Against Crime and LIFEPAC. Judge Giordano currently serves on the Northampton Court of Common Pleas, a position he has held since 2003. Prior to being elected, Judge Giordano served as an assistant district attorney, assistant public defender, civil litigator and as lead counsel in his private law practice. Judge Giordano resides in Bethlehem with his wife Tina and his two sons, Joseph and Caden. For more information about Giordano’s campaign please visit EmilGiordanoforJudge.com.

Bottom Feeding Blogger Visits Saucon Valley Country Club

Marc Troutman
Though it's missing a $7 million loan payment, the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority met yesterday at the private Saucon Valley Country Club. Its meeting was set for 9 am at the Weyhill House, which is at the end of an unmarked private road. After business was over, the Board was supposed to go on its annual "retreat." Aside from two members of the press, a waitress and I were the only members of the public who attended. She was there to keep their pastry plates filled and I was there to give them all indigestion. I had to go after reading that Board Chair was about to embark on yet another with hunt to determine who had leaked a story to me.

Mike Dowd gets some java
I was warned before going that I'd never get in the place because of some goofy dress code. One person said something to me, and  I replied that the Sunshine Act trumps the Saucon Valley Country Club. Two cops were there, and I thought they would try to toss me, but it turns out they were there because one of them was getting promoted.

There was a nice little breakfast buffet with assorted juices, coffee, pastries, bagels, toast, jams and things of that sort. But there was no extravagant display. That could have come later, during their "retreat," but I saw nothing outrageous. Most of the Board was there, with T.J. Rooney participating by phone and Anne Baum MIA.

During courtesy of the floor, I slammed them for conducting a public meeting at a private country club and also took them to task over the very obvious shenanigans being pulled in the selection of counsel. The wanted to replace Florio Perucci as their general counsel, and select as bond counsel a firm that is associated with Jean Everett, who just happens to be the wife of Airport Executive Director Charles Everett.

Until I was there, I had no idea that the attorney providing legal advice is none other than Bob Freedberg. He is a former Superior Court Judge and was president Judge in Northampton County. How they could even consider replacing someone of his caliber was beyond me. Freedberg has sentenced me to the electric chair several times, and I pointed that out, which seemed to make most of them happy.

They ultimately decided, on Jane Baker's motion, to table the selection of a new lawyer, especially after some board members claimed they had no real idea what was going on until they read about it in my blog.

Freedberg also instructed them that Everett would be unable to have anything to do with his wife's firm, if it is ultimately approved as bond counsel.

Chairman Marc Troutman did complain about the leak anf=d asked the offending board member to step forward. No one volunteered.

"This is terrible!" huffed Bert Daday, mouthpiece for the LV Partnership."This is a tragedy."

I was amazed at the amount of time spent discussing how to deal with public comment. Some of these guys seem genuinely terrified of we vulgari. Mike Schware proposed some amendments that would crack the door open just a wee bit for comments on agenda items. "We send a message to the public with the way we conduct meetings," he argued.

D'you think?

Most elected officials like Glenn Geissinger and Mike Dowd were all for more transparency. So were Ed Lozano, Bill Berger and an 18' tall board member whose name escapes me but should be in the NBA. In the end, Schware's move for more transparency was adopted 9-5.

The Board suffers from poor leadership. Troutman does not know how to run a meeting, and had to be reminded several times about proper procedures by Freedberg.

When they went into Executive session to discuss this and that, I ordered lunch and then got in a quick nine holes.

King Allentown Announces Write-In Bid

Saying "I could really use that $6,000," King Allentown has announced his bid as a write-in candidate for City Council. He's actually running for all three seats, arguing he can hold them all simultaneously and collect $18,000. Personally, I think he should hold out for the AG seat, but that's me. The "full time sex machine," who already spends half of his day signing autographs, is doing a candidate Meet 'n Greet tonight at Stooges.

He's apparently also waging a write-in campaign for school board, dog catcher, back scratcher, candle stick maker and Mayor.

You may have spotted him standing in welfare lines or at one of the food banks (his record is three food banks in one day), after which he sells the food at eBay.

He was also a successful litigant on Judge Judy, where he won $1,625.

He  also is reportedly considering a daycare for his numerous illegitimate children.

Bethlehem Press on Pay-to-Play in Lower Saucon, Bethlehem

I freelance at The Bethlehem Press, a small weekly publication that circulates in the Bethlehem Area School District. I am proud of this week's edition, which I am calling the Pay-to-Play edition.

Its weekly People Say feature, put together by photojournalist Dana Grubb, reveals that a lot of people think there's too much money in politics.

In an analysis of the Bethlehem City Council, I conclude there are two factions. These are not Democrats and Republican. They are crony capitalists and small "d" Democrats. The crony capitalist faction consists of Bob Donchez, Willie Reynolds, Bryan Callahan, Mike Recchiuti and Shawn Martell. Their hearts are almost certainly in the right place, but they all accept too much money from entities who want something. The small "d" Democrats consist of Eric Evans, Olga Negron and Michael Colon.

Finally, my story about the Lower Saucon landfill, which has dumped $96,500 into the Township race, raises the worrisome concern that corporations are trying to take control of our democracy.

I hope you can check it out online or better yet, but a print copy before the landfill buys them all and dumps them. It should become a collector's item.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bluebloods Angry Over Critical Airport Authority Story

Marc Troutman is pretty hot stuff. He's the bastard who turns off my juice when I forget to pay by First Energy electricity bill, He's also Chairman of Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority's 15-person Board of Governors. That's a lot of Governors to order around, but the boss is unhappy. In fact, word has it that his panties are twisted out of joint over my story yesterday. In that little ditty, I told you the financially strapped airport board is meeting this morning at, of all places, the very posh and private Saucon Valley County Club. They plan on trying to replace their current lawyers (Florio Perruci and about out 10,000 other names, including former Judge Robert Freedberg) with some goofy firm.  One of their lawyers (she's "of counsel" and technically not part of the firm) just happens to be the wife of the Airport's Exec Director, Charles Everett.

It's all in the family, I guess.

Ironically, this is the same law firm that issued a bogus report claiming that just about everyone there has a conflict of interest. It was complete horseshit, and that bad legal advice alone should be reason to reject this outfit.

Well, Troutman is blowin' oil over my story so bad that someone should throw him on a lift and find out where he's leaking. He fired off this angry missive yesterday to all the little governors.

We have a much bigger problem than Public Comment at our board meetings. If you haven’t been contacted, harassed or insulted by someone today because of this article. Please read it. I would like to discuss this tomorrow.


The Executive Committee and staff were the only individuals who received the information discussed in the article. In addition the article is inaccurate at best as the evaluation and motion to be moved forward by the executive committee.

It was very inappropriate and embarrassing for a member of the executive committee, staff or board member who attended the meeting to leak confidential bid information to a “Blogger”. The article is clearly an inaccurate assessment of the process and motion. Not to mention it appears to be an attack on our executive director and the competence of all of us around the table. All actions we take are subject to right to know and there is a process for interested parties to obtain that information. Therefore I can only surmise that this release of misinformation was malicious in nature.

This is damaging as well as embarrassing for all of us.

In addition to staff, the following board members were given the RFPQ information:

Exec Committee:

Bert Dadey
Jane Baker
William Berger
Dean Browning
Marc Troutman

Ed Lozano
Jeff Matzkin

I am not pointing fingers at anyone listed above but raising a concern that we need to deal with. As we move forward and continue to negotiate with vendors, airlines etc to make land deals or purchase services, confidentiality is paramount and lack of can ruin deals , create liability and embarrass individuals and the authority.

Let’s discuss this tomorrow and how we want to deal with it from a policy or whatever perspective.


Love to see this outfit's priorities. They can't rub two nickels together and are worried about the unwashed masses sounding off during a meeting. But that pales in comparison to the bottom-feeding "Blogger." I could see him holding his nose as he pens the word.

He does have a point. My story really is an attack on the Executive Director and the competence of those who are idiotic enough to conduct a public meeting at a private country club during a fiscal crisis. But I'll differ with him on one major point. The story is also accurate, and he knows it's accurate, which is why his nose is so out of joint.

Looks like he now wants to start an investigation to determine who the traitor is who leaked this story to me. Maybe he should hire that law firm again..

I think I'll drop in on the bluebloods today, although morning meetings and I don't mix well. Maybe Marc and I can get in a quick none holes during their so-called retreat.

"He's on his final hole. He's about 455 yards away, he's gonna hit about a 9 iron I think."

"Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A bottom-feeding blogger, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac... It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"

Reminder: Council and Controller Debate Tonight!

In addition to a judicial debate on Thursday, October 29, the Northampton County League of Women Voters are hosting a debate tonight in the Controller's race between Steve Barron and Hayden Phillips. There will also be a debate between the County Council candidates for District Three (John Cuisck v.Lori Heffner) and District Four (Matt Dietz v. Scott Parsons). Tonight's forum will be at Gracedale, starting at 6:30 pm. For more details, see the flyer here.

Should Government Shield Online Identity of Homeowners?

In this week's edition of Opinions Online, I received this comment:
There is a Northampton county judge whose home, when searched on ncpub.org (assessment records), comes up as "Unknown Owner." I can certainly understand the judge's concerns for privacy in the event of a hostile losing litigant, etc. He also has the house's image blurred out on Google Earth, but anyone can have Google do that for them easily.

I work in a position in the private sector where I am frequently threatened with violence from angry members of the public. I have had a gun pulled on me. God forbid one of them decides to meet me at my house one night. Why can't my house be listed as "Unknown Owner"? I've never seen any home listed like that other than this judge's.

County policy or handshake deal with the assessment folks?
He later added this:
I am the one who posted the comment about the judge's house. In case anyone wants to blur their home in Google Earth street view, it's easy:
1. Open Google Earth, type in your address, and go to street view.
2. Click "Report a Problem" in the lower right corner of the image.
3. Follow the steps that appear on the screen from there.
4. If you have an alleyway to the rear of your home, make sure you repeat the process for that angle.

I'll add that when I called the assessment folks about having my house's record changed to unknown owner, they first claimed to have no idea what I was talking about, then they said it just was not possible.
At one time, the public was able to search ncpub.org by a person's last name. That policy was changed after I complained about the loss of privacy and the very real possibility that the information could be used for data-mining or to present a real risk to personal security. You can still search assessment records by last name, but to do so, you have to visit the courthouse in Easton.

Using that system yesterday, I was able to determine the residential address of every Northampton County Common Pleas judge as well as every magisterial District Judge. I also obtained the home addresses of several assistant District Attorneys, the District Attorney and Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio.

With that information, I returned to ncpub.org. To be clear, this is an online version of the County's assessment records, but is not the official version. Using that system, I saw that when I typed in a judge's home address, the answer I received was "Unknown owner." But when I typed in a prosecutor's or a police officer's address, their names appeared.

I also checked Google maps, and no judge has blurred his or her home address that I could see.

County officials inform me that the judges' names have been removed from this online system at the request of the Courts. When he was Executive, John Stoffa agreed to remove their names, but also decided that no one else would be given that privilege.

Those of you who know me know I am a John Stoffa fan. But I consider this a mistake. Just as the judges have had their names purged from the system for obvious personal security reasons, any property owner should have the right to make that request. There should be no need to demonstrate a need. The right to know has a concomitant right to privacy.

I was informed that County officials denied this privacy request to an FBI agent as well as others. This privacy policy should be expanded to include everyone who makes a request. I also do not fault the judges. They should not have to worry about someone invading their home. But nor should DAs, police officers or people like my anonymous reader.

In Europe, the right to privacy is protected much more than in this country. U.S. privacy rights are much more limited.

Hershman, Fegley and Ramos Demand Opponents to Return Fed Ed Money

Allntwn City Council Mascot
Repeating a refrain that has already been sung by Allentown City Council write-in candidate Rich Fegley, two other candidates are demanding their opponents in this year's City Council and Controller races to return money received from Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski and his affiliated political action committees and cronies

Lou Hershman, City Council candidate, and Steve Ramos, who's running for Controller, claim that incumbent Controller Mary Ellen Koval and Council member Jeff Glazier have each received $15,000 from what increasingly appears to be a criminal enterprise. Records online are incomplete, but do corroborate much of what Hershman and Ramos are saying.

Glazier, for example reports $3,000 from J.B. Reilly's Citizens for Urban Renewal, just made in June. Car dealer Robert Bennett, one of Fed Ed's benefactors, also kicked in $500.

Ramos called on Koval to state how many audits she produced in the past year and how many payments she approved as a result of the Mayor's "sole source contract scheme," which he claims is now financing her campaign.

Of Jeff Glazier, Hershman asks, "Did he ever, ever vote against the Mayor? Ask him where he was and how he voted on all the contracts and land deals that came before Council."

For Allentown voters, the choice is clear. They already have lap dogs. They can keep them or trade them in for watch dogs who will fight for honest, open and accountable government in Allentown.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Wilson Police Seek Help in Luring Incident

From Wilson Borough Police: On October 23, 2015, at approx. 6:05PM, in the 2200 block Washington Blvd., a woman observed an actor operating a silver Volkswagen Passat, with a brown interior, tinted windows, and an unknown Pennsylvania registration, talking with two 15YOA females. The actor was talking to the females and the females were telling the actor that they could not hear him. They were asking him what he was saying and getting closer to the vehicle. This woman stayed in the area of the girls until the actor left.

The girls told this woman that the actor was telling them that he was there at the direction of their fathers and talking in a lower voice so that the girls had to get closer to the car. The woman counselled the girls about safety and then left. A few minutes later, the woman saw the actor on S. 24th St. He told her to “stay out of his business” and yelled obscenities at her then left the area, last observed traveling into Palmer Township on Butler St.

Police checked the area and could not locate the actor. The Police Department never received any calls from the female juveniles.

The actor was described as a Hispanic male, with his hair buzzed around the sides and a little longer on top. He is approx. late 30’s to early 40’s and was wearing a white t-shirt with a large silver necklace on.

Anyone with information about this incident should call Det. Jason Hillis @ 610-258-8542, or the Northampton County Control Center @ 610-759-2200.

LVIA Exec Director Wants Wife to Take over Legal Reins

It's a busy time. There's a federal investigation into pay-to-play in Allentown, which might just be what's needed to stop the rampant crony capitalism in the Queen City. Bethlehem merchants are rightfully worried about a third and publicly subsidized downtown at Martin Tower. Bethlehem Township is pondering a 37.6% tax hike. A landfill has dumped $95,600 in a brazen attempt to buy Lower Saucon Township Council. Elections are just eight days away. It's a perfect time to slip something under everyone's nose. That's exactly what is happening at the Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority.

Its top heavy 15-member board is meeting this Tuesday at, of all places, the very posh Saucon Valley Country Club. A "haven" for most of its blueblood members, it's billed as "one of the largest private clubs in North America." Initiation fees start at around $30,000 for a higher-end memberships.

I suppose the unwashed masses will have to be admitted if they can figure out where the Weyhill Guest House is located.

When business is concluded, members are supposed to have a "retreat" for "strategic planning"

Now I have no problem with board members disguising some sort of golf outing as a retreat. I do have a problem when they also plan to conduct a full blown meeting before doing whatever it is that bluebloods do. And I really have a problem when one of the things planned at this meeting is switching legal teams.

It appears that Executive Director Charles Everett is trying to squeeze out Bethlehem-based Florio Perruucci and replace it with a firm more to his own liking. Or should I say his wife's liking?

Everett was on a team of three that sought proposals from nine different law firms for legal services, including pay-to-play forms like King Spry and Norris, McLaughlin and Marcus. Now of course, everyone was judged by "objective" criterion, all of which are rated subjectively. Everett made sure that the highest score, as you can see in the ratings of all nine firms here, went to a law firm called Barclay Damon.

Did I mention that Everett's wife, Jean Everett, is "of counsel" at that firm?

No conflict there.

What's really ironic about this is that Everett used this firm, without a formal board vote, to determine that there were all kinds of conflicts at the airport authority. That ridiculous conclusion was correctly disputed by the current Solicitor, Florio Perruucci. It was a red herring designed to force some board members out.

Now, the very same firm that found conflicts everywhere sees no appearance of impropriety if the Board hires a firm where the Executive Director's wife is "of counsel."

That's different.

How Nazareth Police Officers Get Harrassed

Earlier this month, I told you about a recent state study concerning Nazareth's mismanaged police department. My story was picked up by The Express Times about a week later. The report, prepared by Pennsylvania's DCED (Department of Community and Economic Development), pretty much condfirms what I have been saying since last July. The only persons who somehow are managing to do their jobs are the officers themselves. They are somehow coping, despite a micromanaging Borough Council and Mayor, a paranoid Chief and a Deputy Chief whose sole role seems to be to get rid of the police union. This study is calling for a "truce" between the warring factions, but that message appears to be going nowhere.

The most recent evidence of how wacky things are can be found in the arbitration of police discipline imposed on Officer Steve Schleig for the way he responded to and wrote up a traffic accident, as well as a claim he made for overtime. It's really chicken shit, and i can't believe that the Borough goes to such ridiculous lenghts with these officers.

Overtime. - Officer Schleig worked an overtime assignment without the express approval of Chief Thomas Trachta. He was disciplined, filed a grievance, and won. Then, for reasons that only he knows, Deputy Chief Randy Miller disciplined Schleig again for the very same infraction. Amazingly, officers had to take the matter to arbitration to get the matter thrown out as double jeopardy, "which runs counter to the concepts of fairness and due process that are embodied in just cause."

Miller is Bethlehem's former Police Commissioner and Northampton County's former Sheriff. He should know better, but obviously is under pressure to harass good cops.

Traffic accident. - Now this is a good one. On August 9, 2014 a former member of Council, one who resigned in disgrace after twice being found passed out in his car with a bottle of vodka, was tooling down Pine Street and ran smack dab into a pickp truck backing out of a driveway, driven by a former police officer in another jurisdiction.

Schleig took the details and sent everyone on their merry way, but was disciplined after the former member of council called to complain about the way Schleigh wrote up the accident. Chief Trachta wanted to give Scheig 20 years in the electric chair, and was convinced that Schleig was slanting things in favor of the ex-cop onstead of the drunken former Council member.

The arbitrator found that Trachta was full of shit. Deputy Miller investigated, determined that Schlieg mixed up Unit 1 and 2, but could find no evidence of bias. And the arbitrator concluded that Trachta's testimony "on the chain of events was far from certain and often changing." That was a polite way of calling him a liar.

Because Schelig admitted he had screwed up about Unit 1 and Unit 2, the arbitrator ruled that counseling was appropriate. But that's it.

What disturbs me is that this nonsense cost $5,700 to resolve, and was totally unnecessary. It also bothers me that people like this former Council member are clearly trying to influence police work.

SCBL Fall Basketball Championship On Sunday

Dat got banged up pretty hard before this foul shot. He was jammed, face first, onto the hardwood floor
Instead of playing football this Fall, my grandson Dat Lambert has been working hard to make Central's Varsity team, either as a starter or #6 or #7 off the bench. He does drills at South Mountain nearly every night, and on Sundays, has been playing in SCBL (Select Basketball Competition League). Players from high school teams all over the Lehigh Valley were pooled together and six teams were formed.

Dat is playing for the Bulls. His team includes Jordan Harrington (Whitehall), Justin “JP” Paz (BECA), Ryan Young (BECA), AJ (CCHS), Ryan Young (BECA) and Hector Morales (Allen). On Sunday, they qualified for the 'ship, and will face the Spurs on Sunday at 3 pm at the Swain School.

After that, it's tryouts time.

Why Did Scomillio Give NorCo GOP $26,000?

Vic Scomillio is the Republican nominee in the race for Northampton County judge. He faces Democrat Sam Murray in what should be a very close race. Sam will win in Bethlehem and Easton, but Vic will win the northern tier in an election cycle with few contested seats. Turn out is expected to be very low. In these kinds of races, Republicans generally tend to win. I can think of few races more important. Judges are elected for ten-year terms, unlike other elected officials. Once they succeed, they never really stand for election again, Voters are simply asked to retain them in a position that pays $161,850 per year.

All candidates, even judicial, must file periodic reports enabling voters to see who is contributing to their campaigns and how that money is being spent. One of the most important of these is the report called the Pre-Election report, filed the second Friday before every race.

Scomillio's Pre-Election Report shows he has raised $75,457.06 on top of $24.811.55 that he already had. He contributed $46,465.06 of his own money to the race. His major contributors are
Citizens for Urban Renewal (J.B. Reilly) $1,000 6/11/15.
Nolan Perin $1,000
S. Graham Simmons $1,000 (Norris, McLaughlin firm)
Steve Hoffman $500 (Norris McLaughlin firm)
Charles Chrin $2,500
L.Anderson Daub $2,500
Menelaos Valianatos $2,250
John Malloy $1,000 (Victaulic)

The $1,000 from Citizens for Urban Renewal, a donation that was made on 6/11/15, is actually a donation from the NIZ Twins, J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper. They formed this PAC to help perpetuate their urban growth regime into Northampton County and Whitehall Township. They failed in Whitehall, but managed to get John Brown elected in Northampton County with a $50,000 contribution laundered through the state Republican party.

This donation was made before news of the federal investigation into hanky panky in Allentown. Though presumed innocent, J.B. Reilly is one of the names on which feds have expressed interest. Wouldn't a judicial candidate return this tainted money to remove any appearance of impropriety?  Look at Sam Murray as an example. He demonstrated his good judgment by severing all ties with Mike Fleck three months before feds raided Allentown. Scomillio should return the donation he received from Reilly.

What also troubles me about this donation is I am unable to find a record of it in the finance reports filed by Citizens for Urban Renewal. I guess when you're used to throwing around sums like $50,000, this seems like chump change. Still, it's a violation of election reporting requirements.

I am also bothered by Scomillio's $26,000 contribution to the NorCo GOP, made on October . Though he technically is the Republican candidate, this really is a nonpartisan race. The lawyers and Democrats who contribute to Scomillio are right to expect to see that money used to help him get elected, not one of the Republican Council candidates. It is also possible that Scomillio has given this money to County Republicans so they can run a hit piece on Sam Murray.

Much of Vic's support, about $12,000, comes in the form of contributions of $250 or less.

I have a separate report about Sam Murray's finances below. .

Murray Raises $60,000 in Judicial Quest

John Stoffa for Sam Murray
Sam Murray is the Democratic nominee in the race for Northampton County judge. According to his pre-Election report, he raised only $60,000 to the $75,000 by his GOP opponent. But that's so only because Murray spent less of his own money.He spent $35,000 of his won money, while Republican Vic Scomillio threw in $46,000 of his own money.

His major contributors?

Trade unions - $2,750
Herb Litvin (Easton attorney) - $700
Lenny Mellon (Easton attorney and close friend) - $950
Ray Lahood (Easton attorney who got his start with Sam) - $850
Bob Nitchkey (Easton attorney  and close friend) - $600

Much of Murray's money - $10,125 - comes in the form of contributions of $250 or less. A lot of contributors are members of the local bar, who often give to both candidates, and that certainly is so here.  

By way of full disclosure, I contributed $75 to Sam's campaign.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dent: Obama Wrong to Veto Troop Pay

(Washington, D.C.) – Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), Chairman of the House Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding President Obama’s veto of the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, which has been passed for 53 consecutive years, authorizes troop pay and sets the annual priorities and budget levels for the Department of Defense.

“I’m extremely disappointed by President Obama’s decision to veto the National Defense Authorization bill. Using our servicemembers as ammunition in a political fight is wrong.

Our men and women in uniform should not have to pay the penalty for the President’s political brinksmanship.  The NDAA is an important bill that has long enjoyed bipartisan support – something that unfortunately is becoming too rare in Washington.

This bill provided the President with the full amount of his requested funding for the military.  It met the needs of our service branches to maintain a robust defense posture and confront the ever-increasing threats we face around the world.

Instead of granting our men and women in uniform a 1.3% pay raise and providing them with financial security by establishing a new 401(k)-style retirement system for the 83% of service members with less than 20 years to build up a nest egg, the President’s veto will embolden our enemies and send a morale-deflating message to our troops actively engaged in war that their welfare and safety are less important than further expanding domestic spending and federal bureaucracies.

President Obama has made a regrettable decision with this veto.  It is my hope that both the House and Senate will vote to overturn his veto and salvage this well-constructed bill.”

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Opinions Online, 10/24/15

Blogger's Note: Opinions Online is a regular Saturday feature. If you'd like to express your opinion on any topic, click on the Opinions Online button on my left sidebar. You can also call 385-325-2564. In addition to these submissions, I am taking some comments from throughout the week and re-publishing them here.


Did Abe secure himself a zoning variance for the parking lot at Building 21 while he was making deals with the city, to park all of those tractor trailers there? Assuming they're for the show at the PPL Center. Guess there wasn't enough room in the AOW parking lot for all of them this time (BTW, wonder what the zoning is for tractor trailer parking there as well?)


I have been following the election a bit. I got a robo call about Hayden Phillips wanting to turn Gracedale into a corporation. Is this true. I know there was a resolution that talked about studying a possible sale of the home again! Mr. Barron has my vote if that is the case. I am disappointed that Mr. Phillips would go down this road.


There is a Northampton county judge whose home, when searched on ncpub.org (assessment records), comes up as "Unknown Owner." I can certainly understand the judge's concerns for privacy in the event of a hostile losing litigant, etc. He also has the house's image blurred out on Google Earth, but anyone can have Google do that for them easily.

I work in a position in the private sector where I am frequently threatened with violence from angry members of the public. I have had a gun pulled on me. God forbid one of them decides to meet me at my house one night. Why can't my house be listed as "Unknown Owner"? I've never seen any home listed like that other than this judge's.

County policy or handshake deal with the assessment folks?


I recently received my annual "Per Capital" $10 tax bill. I'm curious how much is spent to collect this measly $10. Would not surprise me if $5 is spent to collect $10. What is the purpose of this tax anyway?


Why is there NO Lehigh County Commissioners debate?


While people will often claim that people who don't vote are doing a disservice to democracy I think that people who blindly vote straight party line are far worse.



Bethlehem City Council did the right thing in approving the rezoning of Martin Tower. The merchants are whiners who claim they are not scared or competition but yet clearly do not want to compete. Council made a decision that will ultimately position Bethlehem to be competitive for new businesses. As a resident I want to know what is wrong with new retail development in Bethlehem? If Main Street offered something people would want, people would go there. But they offer crafts and foo foo. Yeah. Good luck.