Saturday, June 09, 2018

Opinion Online, 6/15/18

Opinion Online is a weekly feature that enables you to comment on any topic and see it here on Saturday, not as a comment, but as part of the actual post. Anonymous comments are fine, but what you say has far more credibility if you identify yourself. I refuse to post anything I consider defamatory or vulgar. Also, anonymous personal attacks on elected officials will receive heightened scrutiny, and I refuse to allow anonymous personal attacks at most other public employees. 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Fed Ed Yard Signs

Leave your name and email address. Once orders hit 25, I will be in touch.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Bethlehem City Council Campaign Funding Analysis

Robert Donchez
2013 Pre-Primary
Raised $55,839.76
Internat'l Union Operating Engineers - $1,000 on 3/29
Sheet Metal Workers $500 on 4/15
Carpenters PAC $1,000 on 3/15
Christian Perrucci $1,500 on 3/15
LR Kimball (arhitect) $500 on 4/15
Sovereign Enterprises $1500 on 1/7, 4/2
Greg Butz $500 ON 3/15
Matt McTish $500 on 3/2
Gregory Rugerson $2,500 on 3/28 (J.G. Petrucci)
J.B. Reilly $1,000 on 3/15
Mark Pepitone $1,000 on 4/3 (Westgate Mall)
Boyle Ventures $1,000 undated
Sean Boyle $1,000 on 3/20
Joe Topper $1,000 on 3/15
Anthony Stellar $1,000 on 4/2 (construction)                      15,550
2013 Post-Primary
Raised $15,071.05
Mark Pepitone $1,000 on 5/17 (Westgate Mall)
Edward Roski $2,500 (Majestic)
Woodmont properties $500 (Perrucci)                                  4,000
LVAR $15,000 in-kind for radio ad
2013 Annual Report
Raised $250
2014 Pre-Primary
Raised $1000
2014 Annual Report
Raised $27,820.70
Carpenters $500
Operating Engineers $1,000
Laborers Local $1,000
Bricklayers $500
IBEW $1,000
T and M $1,000
Jim Hickey $1,000
Greg Butz $1,000
Luke Cunningham $1,000
Mark Pepitone $1,000 (Westgate)
Robert Kiel $500 (Liberty Properties)
Lou Pektor $500 (developer)
Dennis Benner $1,000
Edward Roski $1,000 (Majestic)
Boyle Ventures $1,000
Raised $32,550 from participants in City projects, including CRISZ and TIF
Raised $98,981.50 total.
33% of campaign funding comes from TIF, CRIZ and City Project Beneficiaries

Willie Reynolds
2013 Pre-primary
Raised $57,447.16
L.R. Kimball $500 on 4/2
Pennoni $500 on 2/21, 4/29
Greg Butz $500 on 1/8
Anthony Stellar $2,000 on 1/31, 4/30
Arif Fazil $500 on 1/31 (D'Huy)
Fred Bracalente $1,000 on 2/6 (construction)
Sean Boyle $1,500 on 2/21, 3/27
Kevin Serfass $500 on 3/11
Leo DeLong $1000 on 3/15 (Bucks Development)
Gary Dahms $500 on 3/25 (T and M)
Louis Intele $500 on 3/27 (real estate)
Scott Allinson $300 on 3/27 (lawyer)
Anthony Sambello $500 on 4/25 (Pintzuk Brown Realty)
Scott Homel $500 on 4/25 (Pintzuk Brown Realty)
Benner Family $1,050 on various dates)
2013 Post-Primary
Raised $12,731.00
Leo DeLong $500 on 5/16 (Bucks Development)
Raymond Yee $2,000 on 5/16 (C3 Holdings)
Anthiony Scarcia $1,000 on 5/15 (Allied Bldg Corp.)
Edward Roski $1,000 on 5/22 (Majestic Realty)
James Petrucci $1,500 on 5/22
Annual 2013 Report (from 6/11/13 to 12/31/13)
Raised $19,890
Sovereign Enterprises $500 on 8/1
Lewis Ronca $1,000 on 8/21
Sean Boyle $500 on 8/21
Dennis Benner $2,000 on 8/21
James Petrucci $500 on 8/15
Annual 2014 Report (from 1/1/14 to 12/31/14)
Raised $21,125.00
IUPAT $250
Bricklayers $250
Brandon Benner $250
Garrett Benner $250
Scott Allinson $100
Sovereign Enterprises $250
Carpenters $1,000
IBEW $1,250
Operating Engineers $1,500
Laborers Local $750
T and M $500
Matthias Fentermacher $500 (Serfass Construction)
Dennis Benner $2,000
Sean Boyle $500
Total raised $111,193.16
30,700 campaign funding comes from TIF, CRIZ and City Project Beneficiaries. 28%

Michael RecchiutiPre-Primary
$1,000 from Lewis Ronca on 2/26/15
$2,000 from Norton Herrick on 2/26
$500 from IUPAT District 21 on 2/11
$500 from Internat'l Union Operating Engineers on 4/27
$500 from Carpenters PAC on 4/30
$500 from Garrett and Brandon Benner on 4/30
Total Raised - $16,995
$1,000 from Lewis Ronca on 5/18/15
$500 from Duane Wagner on 4/20 (Lew's right hand man)
$500 from Sean Boyle on 5/11
Total Raised - $2,275
Total Raised Pre and Post Primary - $19,270
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries - 36%
$7,000 of $19,270 

Shawn Martell
$500 from Lewis Ronca on 4/20
$500 from Garrett and Brandon Benner on 5/2
$1,500 from Norton Herrick on 4/24
$500 from Sean Boyle on 4/2
$1,000 from Dennis Benner on 5/1
Total Raised - $14,883.35
Total Raised - $700
Total Raised Pre and Post Primary - $15,583.35
$4,000 of $15,583.35
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries - 26%

Michael Colon
Total Raised - $5,390
Total Raised - $0
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries - 0%

Olga Negron
Total Raised - $6,770
Total Raised - $825
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries - 0%

Eric Evans
2013 Pre-Primary
$100 from IUPAT on 3/25
$100 from Carpenters on 3/25
$250 from Sean Boyle on 3/25
$500 from Dennis Benner on 3/25
Total raised - $9,067
2013 Post-Primary
$250 from Jim Hickey on 5/27
Total raised $350
2013 Pre-General
Total raised $700
2013 Post-General
Total raised $0
2013 Annual (11/26 to 12/31/13)
Total raised $0
2014 Annual
Total raised $0
$1200 of 10,117
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries -  12%

Bryan Callahan
2013 Pre-Primary
$250 from Sean Boyle on 4/3
$250 from James Petrtucci on 3/28
$500 from Garrett and Brandon Benner on 4/3
$150 from Scot Allinson on 4/3
$250 from Anthony Stellar on 4/30
$250 from Jim Hickey on 4/30
$500 from Dennis Benner on 4/3
$500 from Fred Bracalente on 4/8
$1,000 from Sean Boyle on 4/8
Raised $13,485  (3650)
2013 Post-Primary
$200 from Christian Perrucci on 5/20
Raised $1,000 (200)
2013 Pre-Election
Raised $5368.66(1250)
$250 from Christian Perrucci
$1,000 from John Callahan
$500 from Greg Molcahny, HR at Michael F Ronca and Sons
$500 from Edward Angerman, employed by Ronca
2013 Post-General
Raised $5,368.66
2013 Annual (11/26 to 12/31)
Raised $0
2014 Annual
Raised $0
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries - 31%.

Adam Waldron
2013 Pre-Primary 
Raised $7,660
2013 Post-Primary
Raised $330
Raised $0
Raised $0
2013 Annual
Raised $830
$250 from Mark Pepitone
2014 Annual
Raised $0
Percentage of donations from CRIZ, TIF and City Project Beneficiaries - 3 %.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mark Smith on ASD Walkout

Below is my exchange with Allentown School Board candidate Mark Smith concerning the walkout. He expressed some concern I might twist his words, so I told him I would publish the actual exchange.
You really need to speak out on the walkout. Your failure to do so is irresponsible and shows a lack of leadership.

Bernie, sorry for any confusion. I made a statement on my personal Facebook page. I have included it below. Please feel free to contact me, again, with any additional questions. Regards, Mark This is a great opportunity for our leadership to engage the community. I really wish I was involved in this situation now, as one that could join that conversation. The school board and administrators need to speak with the community leaders, parents and students about what they are feeling. This is their community and school district also. Everyone should have a voice and that voice should be heard by the people directing the Government entities that effect them. Our education problems in Allentown will not be solved by ignoring those who feel disenfranchised. As I have said many times before, it is encumbent upon those in power and with influence, our school district leaders, to initiate the conversation of how WE, as members of this Allentown education community can provide access to an education. Despite of what anyone thinks of this young man organizing this demonstration and walkout, there seems to be enough people in our school district that feel they are not being treated fairly. We must take this opportunity to initiate a different approach. There is no way we can make headway in education reform when there is segment of our population that thinks no one cares about them. So, I recommend the ASD take this opportunity to engage the parents and students in a face to face discussion of their perception of what needs to be done. And the administration needs to help them understand what is actually happening. I would start with a letter to every student that left school and their parents/guardian to join in a meeting/discussion concerning their education. If they feel strongly enough about this issue to leave school, will they feel strong enough about it to come to an evening meeting? From this we will find student leaders and community leaders that an alliance can be formed to address the issues and create a strategy. When people are included in the process they take ownership. A new trust must be built at this point.
Yes, I read your statement. Do you condemn the walkout or not? Of course there are problems. My question is whether you support 1000 students walking out of classrooms for a week. I think you need to really speak out on this issue if you want to lead. Your statement tries to say something for everyone, but is not leadership.
9 hours ago

1st. You and I must have a different definition of leadership. In the development of my leadership skills, I found that it is very important to gather and understand the facts and circumstances before determining a strategy to deal with an issue. I have taken the time to speak with many involved, while reviewing all that has gone on to this point and decided today I will let everyone know my thoughts. Calling me out on my leadership skills is insulting. You don't know me. Why did you not reach out to me before your personal attack on my leadership skills? This leads me to believe your motive is confrontation not information. This is a very complex issue. A problem that has been around for 3 decades now. The answer to your question of "do agree with the walk out or not?" is not a yes or no answer. That type of bumper sticker politics is as divisive and just as counter productive as the walkout. With that being said let me give you an abridged answer, because there is noway we can cover this issue completely on facebook. I am not for the walk out. I feel it is counterproductive on several levels. There are better ways to address this problem. I do however, believe that there are people in our community that think this is the only way they will be heard. And, EVERYONE deserves to be heard. This situation is the result of lack of leadership on both sides of the discussion. I am hoping to help my school district, if elected, by bridging communities, cultures and socio-economic groups. It will take everyone in our community's participation to solve these problems. I invite you to sit down with me and have a full discussion of issues, where you can understand my positions better. That way when you involve me in your blog you can be comfortable in explaining my positions.
Look, I need a simple answer. Do you oppose the walkout or not? Do you think it;'s just fine to expose students to Nate Whips or not? Are you a leader or not? I am asking this of ALL the candidates and my motive is to see who leads and who does not. This does not rquire a sitdown. You only need answer the question. You talk about being insulted. I find it highly insulting that you think so little of the voters that you can't answer a simple question.

It's not a simple question? And who put you in charge of determining leadership skills? First, I did answer your question about the walkout. And I think the leadership of the United Youth group is not leadership at all. From the looks of things, he is surrounding himself with people of low quality and questionable character. I actually expect this walkout to fizzle out. Once again, let me be clear. I am not for this walkout and I think the leadership of the walkout is questionable in its motive and ability. With that being said, we have people in our community that believe they are not part of the process. Addressing that will take leadership.
You finally said something. Was that hard?

Don't be a wise guy. This is not simple question.

By the way. I expect this to fizzle due to lack of structure and leadership
Whether you opposed the walkout or not was a very simple question. It should not have required a root canal to get an answer. But I finally have one, and will be reporting it on my blog. I'll leave it to readers to decide how complicated this question is.

Just does us both a favor and report it accurately. I have no problem with that. And any time you would like my thoughts on anything, I am here for you, just reach out.
I will report our exchange, word-for-word. How's that?

That works. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Barron Email To NorCo Council dated 5/5/15

From 1/2/2014 to present there have been 1,411 people who received some sort of pay adjustment. This does not included the most recent clerical staff. It does include union, non-union and part time workers. This amounts to 1,863 transactions and changes to the payroll system since John Brown has taken office. There are three known issues with Salary Adjustments (Pay Code 26). At question are the following amounts: Cathy Allen : $6,934.40 (This does not include the out of class pay which she is most likely allowed) Chris Zieger: $2,900.54 (This excludes his out of class pay, but does not include any consideration of pension impact since Mr. Zieger is vested in the pension) Stanley Rugis: $606.40 (This was simply a raise and no out of class) Total: $10,531.34 If one looks at those 1,411 employees there are 54 of those employees who were given additional salary under the Pay Code 26 or Pay Code 16 (Out of Class Pay) in the database that warrants additional review. I have those names and will conduct that review and give a report to council as soon as I follow up if there are any additional matters other than the current top administrators. Some of these people were adjusted based on council action and I want to confirm those matters and alert you to problems if they arise. Linda, please forward this to all council members and allow me until at least the June 4th council meeting to research this 51 remaining individuals situations (54 minus the 3 known problem increases).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On Sunday night, at least six local police departments, along with the Pennsylvania State Police and FBI, participated in the frantic search for a missing 7 year-old girl. Nazareth was in virtual lockdown as helicopters circled overhead and cruisers raced through town, looking for a mysterious Subaru that seemed to be everywhere and nowhere. The search was eventually called off because, as time ticked away, it appears there never was a missing girl. The supposed abductors may have engaged in an elaborate and cruel hoax. More likely, someone just misunderstood what he or she saw. Police really had no choice but to do what they did. But this tremendous expenditure of manpower shows a serious weakness in the Nazareth Police Department. Under Chief Thomas Trachta, all attempts at community policing have ceased. Had they been in place, this may never have happened. Yesterday, I told you that there's supposed to be a special police detail at the Borough Park on weekends, from 4 pm until sunset. This detail lasts until the bathrooms are closed for the winter. But Chief Trachta, in a September 1 memo, ended the detail early, though it was part of the approved budget. Had an officer been at the park, it is certainly possible that what was perceived to be an abduction would still have occurred. But it would have been far more unlikely. Before Trachta became Chief, Nazareth had established a fairly effective community policing program. Trachta ended it. Jack Herbst, a former member of Borough Council Police Committee Chair, explains. "The first decision he made when appointed Chief was to eliminate the community policing policies that Chief Sinclair put in place - crime watch meetings, park officers and bank and business checks." This is simply insane. According to The National Institute of Justice, in police departments that have tried community policing for just one year, "99 percent reported improved cooperation between citizens and police, 80 percent reported reduced citizens’ fear of crime, and 62 percent reported fewer crimes against persons." Those business checks were appreciated, as owners sometimes forgot to lock up when they leave for the day. The banks loved it. Officer Fred Lahovski, who with former Chief Michael Sinclair was a community policing advocate, was ordered to send a notice to local businesses, announcing this termination. "Some time ago, 2008-2009, the police attempted a specific community policing service. It included walking patrol in the business district as well as a month community police meeting. However, due to a variety of circumstances, the program has ceased as a viable entity." Lahovski attempted to establish an email database for local businesses and residents. For something as simple as a found dog, Officer Lahovski could send a blanket email with pictures and a note like this: "This little guy was found in the unit block of Belvidere St. We got along well after he straightened me and let me know who was boss. We held him for awhile unfortunately had to turn him over to the SPCA. If you know this dog or his owner, please help. FREDDY" If this could work for a lost dog, it would certainly be something to use when a potential child abduction occurs. Chief Trachta refused to use the email database. So on Sunday night, when there could have been a real missing child, the public was kept in the dark. "We can't just blindly give out a description when things are still unfolding," Mayor Carl Strye, a carwash salesman, told The Morning Call. Why the hell not? I'd think that would be the first thing police would do, and would be one way in which the public could assist. Instead, people who were just walking the street at night were accosted and asked what they were doing. Instead of reaching out to the public, Trachta treats them with disdain. According to Herbst, "He is the first Chief not to go out on patrol, show his presence at Borough events and refuses to give an extra second of his time to the community. After meeting nights, he'll show up to the office later the next day based on how long the meeting went the night before. Wonder why Bushkill Twp. got to the park before him! I'm surprised that he even showed up at all, but I guess when the big boys got involved, he had no choice." Numerous police departments responded on Sunday night for a search that really had to occur. But did Trachta call in his officers? No. Instead of calling on all the manpower he had, he let other departments do the work. They know it, too. One fellow I know was stopped by a fed last night, and asked if he saw anything unusual. This federal officer told a citizen that if he saw anything odd or suspicious, to please call 911. Then as he left, he said, "I got to go see what Cupcake is doing." Nazareth needs to re-institute community policing. There should be a block watch, business checks, foot patrols. Most importantly, there really needs to be an officer on beat at the park, especially on weekends.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Barack Obama Executive Order re Abortion Restrictions and Health Care Reform

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (approved March ­­__, 2010), I hereby order as follows:

Section 1. Policy.

Following the recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“the Act”), it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment. The purpose of this Executive Order is to establish a comprehensive, government-wide set of policies and procedures to achieve this goal and to make certain that all relevant actors—Federal officials, state officials (including insurance regulators) and health care providers—are aware of their responsibilities, new and old.

The Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly-created health insurance exchanges. Under the Act, longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience (such as the Church Amendment, 42 U.S.C. §300a-7, and the Weldon Amendment, Pub. L. No. 111-8, §508(d)(1) (2009)) remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Numerous executive agencies have a role in ensuring that these restrictions are enforced, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Section 2. Strict Compliance with Prohibitions on Abortion Funding in Health Insurance Exchanges.

The Act specifically prohibits the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) in the health insurance exchanges that will be operational in 2014. The Act also imposes strict payment and accounting requirements to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services in exchange plans (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) and requires state health insurance commissioners to ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, OMB funds management circulars, and accounting guidance provided by the Government Accountability Office.

I hereby direct the Director of OMB and the Secretary of HHS to develop, within 180 days of the date of this Executive Order, a model set of segregation guidelines for state health insurance commissioners to use when determining whether exchange plans are complying with the Act’s segregation requirements, established in Section 1303 of the Act, for enrollees receiving Federal financial assistance. The guidelines shall also offer technical information that states should follow to conduct independent regular audits of insurance companies that participate in the health insurance exchanges. In developing these model guidelines, the Director of OMB and the Secretary of HHS shall consult with executive agencies and offices that have relevant expertise in accounting principles, including, but not limited to, the Department of the Treasury, and with the Government Accountability Office. Upon completion of those model guidelines, the Secretary of HHS should promptly initiate a rulemaking to issue regulations, which will have the force of law, to interpret the Act’s segregation requirements, and shall provide guidance to state health insurance commissioners on how to comply with the model guidelines.

Section 3. Community Health Center Program.

The Act establishes a new Community Health Center (CHC) Fund within HHS, which provides additional Federal funds for the community health center program. Existing law prohibits these centers from using federal funds to provide abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), as a result of both the Hyde Amendment and longstanding regulations containing the Hyde language. Under the Act, the Hyde language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers under section 10503 and all other relevant provisions. I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of Federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law. Such actions should include, but are not limited to, updating Grant Policy Statements that accompany CHC grants and issuing new interpretive rules.

Section 4. General Provisions.

(a) Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) authority granted by law or presidential directive to an agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This Executive Order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This Executive Order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.