Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Death in the family

  My Friends:
      On Thursday October 3rd, just after 9AM I authorized a veterinarian to give my dog Sally a lethal injection. She was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer on Saturday the 28th. She had a few good days before I saw her take a dramatic turn for the worse around 4 AM Thursday morning, when she couldn't breathe to the point that she could not walk herself to the door to go out.
      I want to share with you a note that the staff at my vet share with me. The Author is unknown:

                      The Last Battle

  If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And Pain should keep me from my sleep
Then will you do what must be done?
  For this-the last battle - can't be won
   You will be sad I understand
   But don't let grief then stay your hands.
   For on this day, more than the rest,
 Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years
You wouldn't want me to suffer so,
When the time comes, please let me go.
Take me to where my needs they'll tend
Only stay with me until the end.
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time, you will agree
It is a kindness you do for me
Although my tail it's last has waived
From pain and suffering I have been saved
Don't grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing you do
We've been so close - we two these years
Don't let your heart hold any tears.

My wife and I rescued Sally from the Dixon street shelter in Allentown on the fourth of July weekend of 2003. She was an adult Springer/Cocker Spaniel mix in need of a home. The Irony is that she made our home a happier place with her presence. We don't know how old she really was, but we are forever grateful to God for the gift of her presence.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Election Crystal Ball Time!

        November 5th just 44 days away, and that means it is time for what some readers lovingly refer to as my "HALF-ASSED" Predictions.

        I would like to start with Northampton County Executive. I believe that it is highly probable that present Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan will win with, at  the worst, a 60 to 40 % landslide.
   When all is said and done, Bangor Mayor John Brown's political body will be a "moulderin in the grave."
        Bob Donchez will be the next mayor of Bethlehem, no matter what folks might have heard a about a write in campaign from a former Bethlehem City Council member. That uh, candidate is currently indisposed, but I did hear he has a campaign office in Graterford Prison.

         Skipping over to Lehigh County, It appears that running simultaneous campaigns for Mayor of Allentown and Governor of Pennsylvania will not hurt Ed Pawlowski in the least. I appreciate the efforts of Michael Donovan, but I deal in reality. Ed P will get 75% of the vote in Allentown. What hurts him a bit is that City Republicans will come out to vote for Executive Candidate Scott Ott and it should be no surprise if a majority of them vote for Donovan down the ballot. But with a ratio of 2.5 Ds to 1 Rs, It only helps Ott overall, not hurt Pawlowski.

   And that leads us into the Lehigh County Executive race. When it comes to municipal elections Countywide, R's consistently out perform the D's when it comes to turn out, negating the huge D registration edge. That makes this race too close to call. But right now, much to my chagrin, I have to give Scott Ott a 52 to 48% winning margin. It could easily change, and there are a bunch of possible variables that could conceivably shift the balance in he turnout.
    One of those definite variables is the Parkland library funding question. That could bump turnout in the Parkland School district among Democrats in a proportion substantial enough to carry Tom Muller to Victory by itself.
     The other POSSIBLE variable is if the air quality folks in Allentown win their court challenge and get their issue on the Allentown City Ballot. I am not saying either issue will win, what I am saying is they will drive turnout more than the candidates will.

   So there you go, six weeks before V Day.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Collateral damages: In Syria, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions

All over Syria, people are dying. It has been going on for a couple of years now

Let us be honest with ourselves. All we really know is that the evidence is pretty convincing that a chemical weapon was used on civilians There were likely close to 1500 people killed in the use of that weapon, and the photographic evidence shows very clearly that at least more than 400 of the dead were children.  And this was likely not the First time a weapon like this has been used there.

    Do we really know who did it? I ask that question because I think before we play judge, jury and executioner, we damn well better be sure. We know that Syrian rebel forces have captured government facilities around the country. Are we absolutely sure that some rogue Al Queda element could not have done this precisely to provoke the United States and its' allies into a blundered involvement in this slaughter?

      I want to be clear, I have no use for the President of Syria. For decades his family has supported the Hezbollah folks who have launched numerous attacks against United States forces around the world. I remember a marine barracks in Beirut getting bombed in October 1983, killing 240 Marines.
   That was courtesy of Hezbollah, one of the players in the Syrian nightmare playing out live on Al-Jazeera and CNN nightly.

     "The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend." That is terrible logic to try and apply here.

      It is way too easy for politicians to say stupid things about redlines being crossed, and much harder to find the morale high ground to actually do something about it.
      Both sides in Syria repulse me, and part of me wants to see them wipe each other out. But the other part of me knows that as members of humanity, we have a morale duty to protect the Innocents involved and try to find a way to end the bloodshed. I have never met a child that asked to be born into bloodshed.

      Which brings me to my sticking point. Since the Camp David Accords in 1979 that brought peace between Egypt and Israel, the Syrian Government has been busy building up its' own formidable Chemical weapons stockpile to counter a threat it perceived from Israel's Nuclear weapon's program.
     Who helped them with that? Why, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and China, for the most part. That's right, Industry in those countries made a tidy profit helping the Syrians build their arsenal.

   And that's why I think those responsible for giving them those weapons should take the lead in doing something about it. Why does America have to take the lead on this? We are going to be busy enough keeping Israel from getting drawn into the mess. In a crazy side note, Israel has been supplying medical care to Syrian refugees since the fighting started. Compassion knows no borders, why can't common sense?

       Russia is Syria's biggest ally, and the Chinese one of the biggest suppliers of missile technology and equipment. They should be the ones pressing to solve this problem, and getting advice from us, not the other way around. Assad is their guy, they should take responsibility for him.

     Unfortunately, I don't think that will ever happen. I also think we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't

     With all the war crap we got into under the previous President, I never feared the threat of a possible globally involved strife as I do now. You look at the history of what happened at Sarejevo in 1914, and how one assassination brought about a global conflict. Then compare that to Damascus today. I am not a conspiracy theorist or Rapture nut, but I see some serious political dominoes lining up to fall.
      The killing has to stop, so we are going to have to launch Cruise missiles and kill more people, some innocent, some not so Innocent. It reminds me of Vietnam, where we destroyed Villages to save them.

         I don't know what we should do, but I don't want to see us go down that road again. The road is once again paved with good intentions, and most assuredly it is still the road to Hell.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Connection to former Ohio Governor Gilligan.

The former Governor of Ohio, John Gilligan, passed away Thursday. While he was Governor of Ohio, he lived at an address on Parkway boulevard, less than 2 miles from where I Lived just across the railroad track, in East Columbus, Ohio.  I attended St Charles Borromeo Preparatory School in the late 1970's, where I had a teacher who had a great influence on my life. Dr. Michael J. Gilligan, the governors' son. I had him for English my Sophomore year, and British Literature my Junior year. One of the reasons I started writing a Journal when I was 15 years old was because of the urging of Dr. Gilligan. I wrote a paper about a how the song "Hummingbird" by the Duo Seals and Crofts had influenced me, and he gave me an A. He encouraged my literary interests, and I continued to write everyday, including my time in College at Ohio State University, and especially my several years overseas in Military service.
    I  even got to meet Dr. Gilligan's younger sister Kathy once when she stopped by our campus. That would be Kathy Sebelius, former governor of Kansas and presently a cabinet Secretary for Presient Obama. That is my 6 degrees of separation story. I doubt any of them would ever remember me, but I remember them. May he rest in peace. He made difficult decisions in a difficult time and took responsibility for them. It is a shame so many of today's political elected can't follow his example.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

So Friday, I get a call from my Congressman Charlie Dent

  Yes it was an automated call, but it was a call. It invited me to come to the railroad station in Kutztown at 1:00 PM on Monday, August 26th for a Town Hall meeting. It is taking place at the Railroad station in the 100 block of Railroad street. I am a registered Democrat, my Congressman is a Republican. But my Congressman is also the rightfully, legally elected representative of Pennsylvania's 15th Congressional district, and I respect him. I do wish we had a member of my political party as a representative, but I respect the opinion of my neighbors, and I respect Mr. Dent. I have approached Mr. Dent and his office numerous time with issues that are personal to many of my fellow veterans, and he and his office has always done their best to resolve them. I honestly believe that Mr. Dent is not a "PARTISAN" member of Congress. He represents ALL the people of the 15th fairly. There are times I wish he were more in tune with my views, especially when it comes to healthcare, but I will not disparage a man who takes the time to hear and discuss differing points of view.
    Anyway, Monday, August 26th, there is a Town Hall meeting with our Congressman in Kutztown. I encourage all of you to go, because I will be hard at work in a warehouse, earning money to pay my share of our staggering debt.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Not Neccesarily the news....or is it?

         If you ever want to read a great story on just how all the media goes about manipulating us read this story about how ESPN uses questionable stories to create a news cycle about an issue that has no importance whatsoever. ESPN created a BULLSH#T story about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick completely out of thin air.
        And what should really get you thinking about the mainstream media is a news story today that NBC Television has an episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" coming out this fall that has a White Chef based character based on Paula Deen, shooting an unarmed young Black man who she perceives as following her on the street. NBC admits the young black man character is based on Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed when killed by George Zimmerman in Florida last year. They are even PROMOTING the episode already. Read about it here.
        So we have one national media outlet creating news, and another using news to create so called "Fiction." 
   Am I the only one to wonder just how blurred the lines really are? NBC is plainly smushing together two real events to create a fictional story that will raise ratings for a show and earn them money.
   Meanwhile, ESPN is using real people to create events and situations that are really nothing but the opinions of their sport personalities to drive a news story they created, raise ratings, and create revenue.
         So what is news, and what isn't? Can anybody tell the difference anymore? What is news, and what is not?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why did Scott Ott resign his job in April of 1995?

  On April 4 of 1995, Scott Ott resigned his job as a Part time School bus driver in the North Kansas City School district. On April 14th, at an executive session of the school board, he was given his job back. At the time, Scott Ott was the "Pastor" of the Siloam Springs Baptist Church in  Excelsior Springs Missouri, located in the 400 block of Benton Avenue in Excelsior Springs.
    According to transcripts at the Midwest Bible College in Kansas City, Scott Ott only accumulated 57 0f the 81 credits needed to earn a degree in Divinity. I spoke to a gentleman by the name of Earl McElwee, who is presently the pastor of that church. He told me that Scott Ott was well liked by the parishioners, and that they were sorry to see him go. I interviewed three people who were working as Employees at the North Kansas City School district at the time  of his resignation/reinstatement, and what they told me about him and his attitude at the time gave me pause. So before I write something that could be, for all intents and purposes, taken out of context, I would like to give Mr. Ott a chance to give his side of the story. Why did he resign, and under what circumstances did he ask for reinstatement? What really happened? Mr Ott has not even mentioned on his resume that he was a pastor of a church. Mr. McElwee explained to me that you don't need to be an ordained minister to be a pastor as a Baptist, if the congregation accepts you.
       Mr. McElwee also told me that Scott told them the reason he was leaving was that he was homesick.
   This is relevant because Mr Ott wants to run Lehigh County. In my opinion he bailed out on a church in a dying small town, and acts like it never happened. It isn't even on his resume. So what were the circumstances? I ask this because he moved from Excelsior Springs with his wife to an address in Independence Missouri after leaving Excelsior Springs, and for the first time, registered to vote in 2000. He didn't go back to Pennsylvania, he just moved to another county. A check of state voter records shows that Scott Ott lived in Missouri from 1993 to 2001, but only registered to vote once, in the 2000 November election. That vote was cast as being registered from an address in the 9500 block of Winner Street in Independence MO. I asked the Election office in Liberty Missouri to check his name against all records statewide, and that is all they had. Once again, much like Mr. Ott's many addresses in PA, the Winner Street address appears to be a short term rental.
     Who is Scott Ott, and why doesn't he want to own property? These are fair questions. maybe Mr. Ott has a good explanation. Here is a chance to give it.
   And before anyone starts ranting incoherently, let it be known that I spent three days IN the KC area interviewing former coworkers of Scott Ott and checking his employment records. I even visited the offices of the Excelsior Springs Standard, and talked to a 80 something young women who has worked and lived in Excelsior Springs all her life, including more than 60 years at the newspaper.
   She pointed me to several people in town to Interview concerning Mr. Ott's time there, including Mr. McElwee. I believe my sources are telling me the truth, but before I post their version, I want Mr. Ott's side. Excelsior Springs is a beautiful little   town, but it is on the decline.  I just want to know why he stopped trying to achieve his Divinity degree, and why he bailed on Siloam Springs Baptist Church. If he bailed on them because things got to tough, how can we be sure he won't bail on Lehigh County when it gets rough here? People gave Don Cunningham hell for walking away, will they be just as tough on Scott Ott?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I can see clearly now, the cataracts are gone

  It has been almost three months since I published. The reason being that I had cataracts in both eyes that made reading extremely difficult. I had surgery on my right eye in April. It helped, but my left eye was just as bad, and when I tried to read for any extended period of time, headaches would ensue.
   I always thought that my left eye was my "GOOD" eye, but I learned quickly that was not the case.
   And because of Insurance and work issues, I had to wait until recently to have my other eye done.
   But now that it is done I am grateful to God Almighty for my sight, something that even a decade ago might not have been possible. Because of 20 minutes of surgery, I have 20/20 vision in both eyes, and can read the computer screen comfortably, even if I have to adjust it to 125%.
    The left Eye was harder, My surgeon told me the cataract was tougher to destroy, and took longer, and collateral effect was that my cornea experienced some swelling, and it may take longer for the sight to come around. But three days after, it has, and I thank God.
   It amazed me that they used compressed air to obliterate my cataracts and then insert implants for my lenses. I have two cards for my wallet, one for each eye. And I was kept awake during both procedures so they could give me direction on where to look. Even more amazingly, I now have 20/20 vision in each eye.

     I wrote almost everyday, but I made so many typos it was embarrassing, So I held off publishing anything for two or more days, and in most cases, when I wrote about something, it seemed dated, so I didn't post it. That is about to change. I can see clearly now.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

So they held a primary and less than 10% came

   The first thing I want to point out is to the Scott Ott attack dogs. There are 76,620 Republicans registered to vote in Lehigh County. Scott Ott won with less than 10% of the eligible Republicans voting for him.. 6,837, to be exact. You still want to cream about his mandate? I don't fricking think so. All it proves to me is that in all primaries, the Extremists of any party have an inordinate amount of power. Lets see how old Scotty appeals to the 108.082 Democrats come November. All we need is a 25% turnout, and old Scotty is big time toast. But I am not holding MY BREATH.

     But the big story is in Allentown, where my predictions were WRONG. That's right, WRONG. I gave far too much credit to the dissatisfied folks who screamed about how everything Ed Pawlowsi did was wrong. the truth is, out of 42,652 registered Democrats, it appears only 2800 to 2900 made it to the polls to vote.  Let me be generous and round that up to 3000. If I do that, it still means barely 7% of the eligible democrats showed up on election day. The proletariat would be proud.
   Hell, even in the City Council race, only one appointed incumbent, Jeff Glazier, lost, and that was to Allentown Police Captain Darryl Hendricks, soon to be a recipient of the overly generous police pension that is forcing the city to lease off its' water operations. The rest of the Challengers got destroyed, as turnout fell even lower than past years when there were only three seats open on council.

  I hate to admit it, but the naysayers may be right. Democracy in Allentown is a formality, and may be dead as we know it.
   Here is what makes people angry with me: As much as I dislike the methods, Ed Pawlowski is moving the city forward. He is addressing the City's issues. You may not like his methods, but he is doing that, and if voter turnout is any indication, the inhabitants like where it is heading.
Who  needs transparency when the voters (AND THE MORNING CALL,  or WFMZ 69), don't Care?

        Let me be clear; I don't like the methods, but I understand. I am a resident of the burbs, but I see he is making lemonade with turnips. God help him, but he is trying.

    I have the numbers from all the races, and I am analyzing them. In my next post, I will look at Republican turnout in the city and the burbs, and look at how Scott Ott won. I privately told people it was a 55% to 45% race3 for Ott, but though it could shift. It did not. Stay Tuned.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A few observations and predictions on Northampton County Races

    Here we are, 10 days before the primary, and the Northampton County Executive and Bethlehem Mayoral races are still in doubt.

  That's right, I said that they are still in doubt. Lets begin with the County Executive race.

   If it were held today, I predict somewhere between 18,500 and 21,500 Democrats will vote in the race. That would be at least 3000 more than voted in the Stoffa/Reibman race in 2005. If it were held today, Callahan would get 38%  (between 7030 and 8170 votes),  McClure 34% (between 6290 and 7110 votes), and Reibman 28% (Between 5180 and 6020 votes).

      With ten days left, there is still a great deal of room for any of the three to either fall back or surge ahead. I think the race is Callahan's to lose. The problem for me is that when I look at the overall picture, I see Reibman and Callahan engaging in a campaign of mutual assured destruction. Their numerous negative attacks on one another reminds me of the adage that "If you set out on revenge, you should dig two graves."

     The tactics have allowed Councilman Lamont McClure to quietly plow forward into contention.  Someone pointed out to me last week that McClure and Reibman were getting savaged in the local blogosphere. I responded that I would bet less than one percent of the participating voters in Northampton had ever read my blog, let alone certain others. Of the 20,000 likely voters in the Dem primary,  Even if 5% ever read one of the blogs covering the Council race, that would be 1000 voters, and do you really think that many people read all these blogs?  I give a few blogs that kind of credit, but not mine. That's why when people cry foul over my presentation of Scott Ott's own dysfunctional blog ravings, I laugh at them. They doth protest too much.

 What really matters In Northampton is the continued negative mail and media campaign. It has made a psychological impression on the race. I can't help but wonder if a chunk of voters goes to he polls, looks at the choices and votes for the guy that has the least negatives. That gives McClure a shot on election day. It is never over until all the votes are counted, and while we can make educated guesses, if we were educated by idiots (the candidates themselves), there's a chance any guess is idiotic.

      Now moving on to the Bethlehem Mayoral race between Willie Reynolds and Bob Donchez.
      In 2005, the last time John Callahan had a challenger, 3850 voter participated in Bethlehem, and Callahan won with 2300+ votes. In 2009, Callahan was unopposed, and only received 2300 votes.
    Bethlehem's population and registration has stayed fairly static in the last decade, so I feel pretty sure that even with several high profile issues locally, (Garbage fees/Casino payments/budget shenanigans) Bethlehem City turnout by Democrats will not exceed 4000 voters.

   My personal algorithm has Donchez winning with 53% of the vote, but that was before Reynolds got a much publicized endorsement from the local paper. I can't ignore that Bethlehem has a recent track record of electing young progressives as their mayors. Reynolds would fit right in  behind Don Cunningham and John Callahan. All logic says he should not win, but sometimes logic has to be defied. I think Reynolds has the momentum and will win by a narrow margin Not 500 votes, how about 50?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

If I were the candidate running against Scott Ott for executive.....

   I would have a piece in the mail today highlighting his views on the Terrorist attack on Boston. If I were Dean Browning, who happens to be vying with Ott for the Republican County Executive nomination, I would send a copy of Ott's Post to every Lehigh County Republican Party Committee member and ask that they condemn it. I would also create a campaign mailer targeting supervoter vets and your true believer Republicans.
   If they give Scott Ott the nomination after this, it will be a kiss of death for R's across the county at any level. Because I guarantee you, Come November the Democratic party will make sure every Democrat in the County will know about Scott Ott and more will go to the polls to support their candidate over OTT than recent memory. We could see Cunningham over Ervin like turnout.
   Tom Muller is a good candidate, and knows how to manage. Scott Ott knows how to insult them. What do you think voters will do with that kind of choice in November?

Curious George near Hellertown? Another slow news day in the Valley

    Because there is absolutely no real news to report, the big story today is that a Morning Call staffer was walking her dog and thought she saw a monkey. Because wandering wild monkees are as great a threat to democracy and our way of life as terrorists, this is front page news.

   Read the story here.  No word confirming other possible sightings of a Monkey wearing a blonde wig, stilletto Pumps, and driving a Black Toyota Rav 4 being sighted at a  nearby firearms range.
   Though there are reports that the monkee is a pretty good shot with handguns, better than many political candidates.
   Just like CNN, we will report if we have a breaking news update.

   For those of you wondering, this is satire.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Scott Ott's take on the Boston Marathon bombing FOR REAL

  Last Monday was a dark day in American history. But Scott Ott found the humor in it. I was born in Boston. Numerous members of my family live there, and my Uncle had a heart valve replacement Wednesday at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. The same hospital where many of the bombing victims and now the lone surviving suspect are currently being cared for.

   Read Scott Ott's mind numbingly insensitive humor post from his Scrappleface blog here.

  What Mister Ott has written about my hometown makes me angry. It is my humble opinion that he is a heartless piece of CRAP. But I think you readers should read his post, and make your own decisions.

   Terrorist Bombings of American Cities are not funny. PERIOD.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Scott Ott's personal writings show a disturbing attitude towards Teachers, among others

   I make no apologies for reading Scott Ott's Scrappleface blog or any of his entries at Town Hall or the Washington Examiner. The man has written pages of what he calls humor or satire, that shows a basic lack of respect for many of the people he would be governing over should he be elected County Executive. People are furious  with me for pointing out Scott Ott's own words, that he has posted. They are attacking me because that's what people do when they can't defend the truth.

   Maybe he should not have written any of  it? If it wasn't there, then we couldn't read it, but it is.
   I have friends and relatives who are teachers in various school systems across America. They are all good people who work hard in difficult conditions to try and educate the next generation. Demeaning them does not solve the funding problems that all entities are starting to face.

       On October 30, 2007 Mr Ott wrote a post on his Scrappleface blog where he referred to America's Public Schools as "DROP OUT FACTORIES".  He also claimed that 40% of American High School students drop out.
   I would like to know where he got those numbers. They seem outrageous, and they are.

    In another entry from Scrappleface, on February 24, 2004, Mr Ott referred to the National Education Association, (NEA) as an extortionist, monopolistic cabal.

   In an August 19, 2002 Scrappleface entry, Mr Ott suggested the NEA was responsible for "American Provincialism", "Narrow mindedness" and "Bigotry".

   I know a lot of teachers, and I can't find one of them who ever taught their students to think that way. That is of course, unless they asked their students to read Mr Ott's writings. Then they might be able to discuss those topics pretty thoroughly.

  I can't decide what of Mr Ott's published literary humor to post next. Should it be how he feels about blacks? Abortion? Planned parenthood? Or maybe his take on the Terri Schiavo controversy in 2005, where he tried to make light of the tragedy by writing about a Schiavo diet book. On february 22, 2005, Mr Ott wrote: "with the Atkins diet fad waning, obese American women have embraced a new book, "The Terri Schiavo Diet: No Willpower Required." pushing it to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. The book, penned by a ghostwriter for Mrs. Schiavo, promises "Dramatic weight loss and life change without any need to make personally difficult decisions."

        Scott Ott thinks he was being funny. What would he find funny if he was elected County Executive?
      Do even the more moderate members of Lehigh County Republicans want to take a chance and find out?
     I know the Democrats don't.

Friday, April 19, 2013

What Lehigh County Executive Candidate Scott Ott really feels about Military Veterans (In his own damning words)

   East Penn School Board Member Julian Stolz, someone I know and like despite disagreeing with much of his politics, has said some pretty controversial things lately in Social media that have put him in some hot water. Julian is opinionated but in my opinion, it is all much ado about nothing. He is young, and just getting started.

   But Lehigh County Executive Candidate Scott Ott has a plethora of colorful quotes and opinions that he has issued for public consumption on the Internet in the last decade. Some of this stuff is so disturbing you can't believe he actually wrote or said it.  If someone is running for elected office, you want to believe that they will take the job seriously.You also want to believe that they realize they represent everyone, not just the few that voted for them, and they have a duty not only to serve all, but RESPECT ALL.  After reading through Mr. Ott's so called "satirical" views concerning many different groups, none of which he either belongs to or has affection for, I am sure of one thing: There's a whole bunch of us that he looks down upon in society. The only purpose we serve in his eyes is to be ridiculed and disparaged. Those are not things most people look for in their leaders. In fact, it is the kind of thing I saw in most cowardly bullies.

    I am a United States Army Veteran, a member of the American Legion, and I don't think too highly of would be politicians/half assed so called journalists who mock military Veterans and the plight many of them face after service. So today's entry will concentrate on what Scott Ott erroneously thinks is funny about Veterans.
    In April 2009, during his first run for County Executive, Scott Ott suggested in the Washington Examiner where he was a regular contributor that Democrats view war veterans as poorly educated and deeply troubled. I know Mr Ott has a degree in Journalism from Penn State, but nowhere in his resume did I see any doctorates in Psychology. I also didn't see any military service time on there, so I can't figure out where he got the qualifications to make such judgements about military personnel, or what makes him think he knows where we came from or what our education levels are. I could argue all day on that point, but instead I want to remind everyone of one thing that all Military members do:
   We Stand ready to defend your freedoms. One of those freedoms is the right to free speech. I will defend to the death Mr Ott's right to say and/or write incredibly insensitive things.
     But I will also exercise my right to point out that I find much of what he has written and claims to be "satire" to be incredibly insensitive to the plight of many military veterans.  I am going to use two instances in the not so distant past to illustrate my point.
      Here is the first quote, from a Washingtom Examiner piece in April 2009:
     "After the Department of Homeland Security sparked a firestorm of protest from right-wing extremists over a nine page report on the "resurgence in radicalization and recruitment among right-wing extremists groups, DHS chief Janet Napolitano announced today that her department would soon release a similar report on leftist groups via twitter. The "Rightwing Extremism" report warned that the current economic crisis, and the election of a black President, could inspire returning war veterans and others to join violent groups plotting against their own nation......Meanwhile Napolitano said she would meet with veterans groups to apologize for what many saw as a disparaging characterization in the report on right-wing extremists. "I would say that I am sorry if some of our deeply troubled war vets misunderstood our report because of their limited education" Ms Napolitano said. "After all they joined the military because they had no other options. We at Homeland Security should be sensitive to folks who didn't have the benefit of a liberal arts education, or the kind of wisdom that comes from high level policy meetings in Washington D. C." (Scott Ott, Examiner April 17, 2009)

      Mr Ott took a legitimate news report on right wing extremists groups in America and twisted it into what he thought was a humorous piece that demeaned the new Obama administration.
       Mr Ott thinks this is funny. This is his idea of satire, mocking Military veterans.This was not a one time thing, In the years before John McCain became the Republican nominee for President in 2008, he was a constant butt of Mr Ott's humor.

 To further illustrate Mr. Ott's lack of compassion, or disdain for any veteran who has served, let's go back to March 2007 when Scott Ott published his TOP TEN REASONS TO NOMINATE JOHN MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT on his SCRAPPLEFACE blog
   10. Years as POW in Solitary Confinement prepared him for isolation of White House "Bubble"
     9.Won't accept Presidential paycheck, since at 72 he can live off Social Security
     8.More exciting presidential news conferences as reporters vie to light his fuse
     7.To beat him, Libs will have to get through his gang of 14
     6.Unlike Senators, Presidents have term Limits
     5. He has a lock on the black vote, because his middle name is Sidney, Like Poitier
     4.Won't surrender to anyone, since war injury prevents raising hands above head.
     3.No longer despises "Agents of intolerance" on whacko religious right
     2. Definition of "Surge" starts with 200,000 new boots, and Al Sadr dangling from a rope
     1. Not beholden to the Republican Party or Other Special interest groups.

   Scott Ott published this on his Scrappleface Blog on March 1, 2007.

     John McCain is a decorated War hero who spent more than 5 years in a Vietnamese POW camp under brutal conditions. He has served Our country all his life, and while I have different politics, I respect him. How is this funny? The entire list offends me, but number 4 is so blatantly disturbing that I cringe every time I read it. How do you mock a man's horrific war injury?
   On this list alone, Ott mocks POW's, Social Security Recipients, and African Americans and makes it looks unnaturally easy.

   Mr Ott has a right to say whatever he wants, but what a person says and does also shows a great deal about what kind of person they are, and just where they see you in the scheme of things. Mr. Ott has shown me in his writings that he does not respect those who have served this country, among others.

   Mr Ott continually presents himself as a good christian and follower of the word of Jesus.
   I wonder what Jesus would say about his attitude towards our wounded heroes?
   I would urge all my brother and sister veterans to take a pause before considering voting for this man at any level. He seems to think it all is a great big joke.  Well it isn't. We need serious leaders who know what they are doing, and treat ALL the people they are elected to serve with respect. I do not believe Scott Ott will do that, and I guarantee you, come November, there will be mailings to every Possible Lehigh County Voter pointing out how Scott Ott feels about each and every one of them.
      Veterans are just one of the groups Mr. Ott has mocked. I don't trust any person who disparages an American hero such as John McCain, or jokingly refers to any of my brother or sister veterans as deeply troubled because of our "so called" limited education. The plight of veterans returning home from the last decade of wars is no joking matter. Veterans are not uneducated, as a matter of fact, the military puts a high priority on education for all personnel, making higher education opportunities available for active duty members even when serving in the field. But Mr. Ott wouldn't know that, the closest he gets to any military personnel, past or present, is when he is trying to figure out a way to cut their services locally, so he can honor his pledge to kill off all useful government.
      We need leaders at the local level dedicated to making sure services are available to area veterans who desperately need them. Mr. Ott has vocally expressed his desire many times to refuse any and all pass through funding from higher levels of government that would fund those services. We can not trust him as County Executive to ensure he will do the right thing and take care of those in need.
    Veterans services are not an entitlement program, they are keeping a promise made to those who have served. The only thing Mr Ott seems to promise is that he will continue to mock us to further his political career and agenda.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If Newtown is not the tipping point, what the hell is?

  In December, 20 children were mowed down by a madman in Newtown Connecticut. Back in 2006, there was an amish school shooting here in PA that made all the news. Remember that? Probably not.
   We Americans seem to have become desensitized to violence, and from what I have seen in the past thirty years, there is very little evidence to refute that thought. I remember in the late 1980's as the drug crack brought violent warfare to every American city. Young  Americans died at a horrifying rate, but it was poor minorities, so nobody relly cared. There was a lot of political rhetoric, but the bloodshed went on into the 1990's.
   I have come to believe that we Americans just don't give a damn. As long as it is not our family member, we will profess our sorrow, offer our prayers, and move on, taking our kids to Dave and Busters or the Iron Pigs game.  We never believe it will happen to us.
    The thing is, Fate is the hunter. You really don't know where the next whack job will strike, and most Americans are willing to gamble it won't effect them.
    I don't know what to say, but I am tired of watching innocent children die because of nutjobs. I don't have an answer, but I find it absolutely irresponsible that no one is willing to take the lead and find a starting point.
    I disagree with Senator Pat Toomey on so many issues, but I respect him for trying to do something on this one. It Took courage. Too bad the rest of Congress didn't have any.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Some insight on the ballot refusal of the Allentown Water issue petitions

  If you read the blogs and the so called local media, you would think that the head of the Lehigh County Voter Registration office, Tim Benyo, was responsible for the water issue not getting on the ballot. Some folks mistakenly were lead to believe by uninformed sources that Benyo reviewed the petitions and found there to be a conflict between state and local laws, which kept Benyo from putting the question on the ballot, There is even a belief that he did nothing to notify the petition gatherers of their pending legal issues.

    All of this would be wrong

    You see, I have this nasty habit of asking questions and trying to find the truth. I am not sure who told what to whom, I only have the media reports and what I have read elsewhere. But I also have my firsthand investigation and my in person questioning of the parties involved.

    When you want to see petitions, usually you go to County Voter registration. But this time, the big secret is that THE PETITIONS NEVER LEFT THE CITY CLERK'S OFFICE. Tim Benyo never laid eyes on them. All Benyo ever got was a communication from the City Clerk that there was a legal conflict that prevented the issue from being on the ballot. After receiving that, he kicked it upstairs at County for the legal eagles to handle. To blame REPUBLICAN Tim Benyo and claim he is an agent of dark conspiratorial forces is untrue. He, and no one else at his office, ever laid eyes on the water issue petitions.

    So I went to the City Clerk's office and asked to see them. The only person there was a receptionist who wanted my name and purpose for seeing them. She retrieved the petitions for me after I made it plain  that I knew they had to be there......somewhere.

       She retrieved them from a cabinet from which she had to remove several piles of files to get to them.
      These things were buried on the bottom drawer under God Knows what in the City Clerk's office. I did look through them, and they were the originally submitted petitions. the kicker is I already had access to copies of the petitions from a third party and knew what I was looking for.  The receptionist told me I could only look at the petitions, if I wanted copies I would have to file a right to know and probably pay for them.
     So after 15 minutes paging through them and verifying they were the real deal, I went back downstairs and filed a Right To know Request asking for copies of the original petitions.

    I also learned at that time that the power burning plant petition folks had fallen approximately 800 signatures short in their efforts for a ballot question.

     If the water issue people have questions about what happened, they should start and end their investigation at the City Clerk's office. That is where all the evidence leads, and where the petitions are, literally buried. The Lease is pretty much a done deal, and they should accept that. But the actions of the Allentown City Clerk raise ethical questions on many levels. The Clerk has an obligation to do his job properly, in this case, his neglect in not notifying the petition gatherers of a potential conflict may have been perfectly within legal bounds, but rings loudly of political maneuverings. The Clerk should be above that,
    If I were an Allentown resident, I would ask City Council to review the procedure used by the Clerk in handling and verifying the petitions, and what measure are in place to enable the citizens to correct any mistakes or perceived deficiencies that might occur. A mechanism exists for candidates, isn't there one for potential ballot questions? There must be, and if there isn't, there should be.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Velez is on, but not for the reason I thought.

     I thought Kim Velez would get back on the ballot because of a technicality in the withdrawal process. But Judge Varrichio, after hearing all the evidence of what transpired, ruled that it was reasonable to believe that Kim Velez withdrew under duress, and gave everybody an out. I have already made my argument concerning her signatures, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the true spirit of Democracy was served.
     You may not like the rules of electioneering as they exist, but they were played by all sides in this to the hilt. Mike Fleck did not do anything illegal. Tim Brennan did what his client asked him to do. Kim Velez is back on the ballot.
    Judge all of them however you want, but Miss Velez still has to get her message out and get more than 2500 Allentown Democratic Voters to push that on screen button next to her name.
    She has six weeks, and as I do all candidates, I wish her well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

45 Days from election day, here are my Allentown Democratic City Council Primary predictions

   Right off the bat, I have Kim Velez in this. I have talked to several local lawyers who think Bill Platt will win on a point of law. So let's move on.  We have nine candidates and we have four spots. Joseph Davis  does not matter because he is running unopposed to finish the two years left on now State Representative Mike Schlossberg's term.  Here, for all intents and purposes, using lots of solid data and analyzing trends, is what all the voodoo says to me.

      I believe that democratic Voter turnout on May 21st will be between 5200 and 5600 voters.
     So that you can understand how I came to that number, I will explain the variables I looked at, The biggest is past voter turnout in municipal primaries since 2005.
     In 2005, just over 7000 Democrats went to the polls in a heated mayors race. Yet only 6.675 of them voted in the mayors race. Pawlowski had 2692, Sam Bennett 2154, and Louie Bellettieri 1824. The Allentown Democratic Primary that thrust Ed Pawlowski to power was decided by less than 20% of the city's registered Democrats. To further my point about lack of voter interest, even in a contested Mayoral race year, I point to the City Council primary results. Voters could choose 4 candidates, meaning there could have been over 28,000 total votes cast for the seven city Council candidates. Believe it or not, there were only 17,095 votes cast, meaning an undervote of over 10,000 opportunities to vote existed. Those votes were spread out over the 7 candidates, with the highest total being 3460, and the lowest 1267.
    One point of interest in that batch is that Julio Guridy,while gathering 3,095 (and that gave him 2nd place) in that year, is on the ballot for reelection this year.
    In 2007 there were 5 Democratic candidates for three seats. There was also a contested Controller's race, which helps us gage interest. In the Controllers race, 4404 votes were cast by just over 4800 Democrats that came out. In the city Council race, those 4800 Democrats could have cast a total of 14,400 votes for the five candidates, Instead, the 5 candidates only accumulated 10,211 votes between them.
   In 2009, Ed Pawlowski ran unopposed, and 7 candidates ran for four seats on City Council, I have exact turnout numbers for 2009, and only 4332 democrats in Allentown went to the polls. That gave a 100% potential of 17,328 votes in the City Council race, yet the five candidates only garnered 13,840, an undervote of 3,488 votes, or almost 20%
    In 2011, it got worse. only 3513 registered Democrats came out for the primary, and the five candidates only garnered a total of 7563 votes out of a potential 10,539, for an undervote of 28.2%

   So lets look at this again:
   2005 Turnout approx 7000, actual mayor votes 6670, City Council votes 17093 of 28,000
  2007 turnout approx 4800 Controller votes 4404, City Council 10211 of 14,400
  2009 turnout was 4332, city council votes 13,840 of 17,328
  2011 turnout was 3513, city Council votes 7563 of possible 10539.

   Primary turnout in Allentown has been steadily declining, leading to fewer and fewer people making the decisions. The positive for candidates is that it makes the core group of true believers easier to identify and reach, the negative is that if you tick them off, you do so at your own peril

    Another key element is the bad read of the Democratic party of Latino voters, They are transient and not rooted in the community. They make up 30% of the voting age eligible population, but less than 5% votes in the municipal primary. Cynthia Mota came in 5th of five candidates in 2011, and got her seat thru appointment when Frank Concannon resigned. She shows up no better than 7th no matter how I run the numbers. And by transient, I mean that almost 30% of the Hispanic voters who voted in Allentown in 2008 did not vote in 2012. Where did they go? That is almost 800 voters. They either moved or died, and I'm voting for moved.

   My point is, Conventional wisdom about voter loyalty does not apply here.  But VOTER ANGER DOES.

   Originally, I had my estimate at a healthy 4400 to 4800 voters, but the core voters are angry about at least two big issues in Allentown, those being the handling of the ARENA NIZ and the Water lease. The Arena issue had me bumping turnout to the 4800 to 5200 level, and the water issue has me adding another 400 potential voters, to my present 5200 to 5600. Perhaps I am being a bit generous in thinking that the 4500 signatures gathered on the water petitions will result in about 400 Dems voting who wouldn't otherwise, but that number feels right, and sometimes you have to weigh your gut instinct.

     So here's what I see for the results May 22. If 5400 Dems show up at the polls, that gives a potential of 21,600 votes cast. I see about an 18% undervote, for a total number of votes cast of around 16,858 spread between 9 Candidates.

   My only true lock is Ray O'Connell with between 3100 and 2900 I think just over 50% of the voters will pick his name
    Second should be Jeff Glazier. Yes he is an appointee, but he was on The Allentown School board, his family had a business in the city for decades, and many old timers and long time city residents will  give him around 2500 to 2800, putting him somewhere between 2nd and 4th.

     Now comes the tough calls Carmen Bell is an Obama for America organizer who knows many of the grassroots people in Allentown. Police Officer Darryl Hendricks has great relations with all of Allentowns inner city Crime watch groups. Those two have deep community connections that should put them somewhere between 3rd and 6th. Alfonso Todd and Dave Melman are in there as well, but they just aren't quite as connected or well known in Allentown. I have a same problem  quantifying Melman;s name recognition that I have with Glazier, but Glazier's family history in the city bumps him up, while for some unknown reason Melman doesn't seem to have that. Alfonso Todd is putting out a street effort, and seems to be the only candidate appropriately using social media. He could bring several hundred new voters to the polls, but that is his only true shot at getting in the top four. They still have 45 days to make a stretch run, and I could see any of these  five candidates pulling ahead.

    I believe the cutoff between 4th and 5th place is going to be 2100 votes. I believe that you could see 5 candidates, Hendricks, Bell, Melman, Todd, and possibly Guridy within 100 votes either way  of that mark.It is all about turnout. I don't believe Mota will get 1500 votes. Velez, even if she gets on the ballot, has run no campaign other than raising hell over electoral procedures, as she should, but that is not enough.
    I actually separated some precincts in the District Three County Commissioners race, trying to see if having Juan Camacho on the ballot would help the Hispanics running for Allentown City Council, but it is 100 votes more at best, and split between Mota, Guridy and Velez.

      The problem, and the opportunity here, is that there will likely be a huge undervote of over 4000m as I noted earlier. Many voters will only punch one or two names rather than four. The opportunity for the lesser known candidates to grow name recognition is huge, mostly because the incumbents, while having it, have it in negative spades. Glazier and O'Connell will overcome it, Mota and Guridy likely will not.

    And that leads us into the uncomfortable territory of asking why Glazier and O'Connell get a pass for being perceived as part of the Mayor's bobbleheads, while Mota and Guridy don't. If you are an Allentown voter, go look in the mirror. My numbers tell me quite basically that O'Connell and Glazier's core ethnic base will show up on election day, while Guridy's, Mota's and Velez's will not. Whose fault is that? I will leave you with that thought.

    UPDATE 4/11/2013 11 PM:
       I noticed in the comments that someone asked where I got information on Dave Melman being on the School board. I inadvertently referred to Melman as a school board member, and he is not. I made a mistake while editing my post and used wording that would infer he had served on the ASD board. I apologize for my error, it was not intentional, but it was my error.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Velez Ballot Challenge scheduled

For those of you following this electoral primary soap opera at home, the next episode will be taking place at the Lehigh County Courthouse on Wednesday April 9th at 9:30 AM. Hearing the case will be the honorable Michelle Varrichio. Seating is festival style, first come first serve basis. If anyone attempts to sell you a ticket on the court house steps, ignore them. It is likely one of the local magisterial candidates trying to raise money for their campaign. Just kidding about that last line!

Proof Monkees are smarter than our current Republican Lehigh County Commissioner reform team

   Ran across this article on MSN news. Research showed that Monkees made smarter financial decisions than humans overall. That pretty much explains all our problems with government at every level, doesn't it?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Upon Further review.....

This is not the NFL, but earlier today I had evidence presented to me concerning my dismissal of one particular signature as invalid. Upon checking the 22 signatures I had categorized as completely invalid, I was able to find THREE that were valid. This still leaves the petitions short of the requirement, but that is a moot point, as it can not be revisited and the issue now is A) whether or not Miss Velez, as a candidate, felt intimidated or coerced to withdraw, or B) did the Lehigh County Voter registration office follow correct procedures in processing that withdrawal?
    Tim Benyo has always been a stickler for following the law, but after reading the complaint by Attorney Platt, it is fair to say there is a question of whether the process as it was carried out was in exact compliance with the appropriate laws. There is some gray area there, and that is why we have judges.

      As for calls for the head of Attorney Tim Brennan, there is no accusation at all in Attorney Platt's complaint that Brennan acted improperly. Mr Platt laid out the events and conversations in a precise timeline as provided by Miss Velez. After reading Miss Velez own account in the court documents, it is obvious she was more intimidated by the possibility of experiencing the challenge process than anything else. It is a scary thing running for office the first time, and she didn't have a support network of experienced people behind her to advise her. I have a feeling that once she gets back on the ballot, more than a few folks will reach out to give her a hand.

   Once again, Attorney Platt has wisely made the issue about a candidate that felt intimidated and possible perceived flaws in the withdrawal process. The validity of the petitions does not matter. It is all about undoing an act that undermines the electoral/ballot process, that is, Miss Velez' withdrawal under honest and understandable duress as a first time candidate unfamiliar with the process as a whole. She should not be punished for that..

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Truth about the nominating petitions of Kim Velez

       There are a great deal of accusations and assumptions being tossed around the blogosphere concerning the circumstances that brought about Kim Velez's withdrawal as an Allentown City Council Candidate. This all started with her petitions, and if you want to find the truth of the matter, it is not a bad idea to start at the beginning.
     So Friday Morning I returned to Lehigh County Voter Registration and paid $1.75 for copies of the seven pages of signatures she submitted. Kim originally collected and submitted 6 pages with 108 signatures, but she later added 17 more that were collected by current City Councilwoman Jeannette Eichenwald.
    So to set the record absolutely straight, Kim Velez's public record shows she submitted 125 signatures. That's how many are on the 7 pages she presented.

     Now it is true she only needed 100. So with the help of the friendly staff and the use of a computer terminal, I spent from 9:45 until 12:45 Checking the Lehigh County voter rolls of EVERY SINGLE SIGNATURE on those pages.
   The great thing about Lehigh County voter registration records is you can check registration by name or address, and see what the person's party is. The first thing I did was enter each last name and search it. If it came back no voter, I would enter the address. When an address pops up it shows all who are registered to vote there. A recurring issue with Kim Velez's petitions was that no such person was on the voter rolls at the address. That doesn't mean they don't live there, It just means they were not registered to vote.I found at least 22 names that were not registered to vote. As they are not registered voters of any party, especially the Democratic party which they need to be, they are not qualified electors.
      That dropped the number of "GOOD" signatures to 103.
      On the names that were registered voters, I found at least 12 names that were registered as other parties or no affiliation at all. They are not qualified electors either for Miss Velez, and that drops her "GOOD" signatures total to 91.

      There were four signatures where the name or address were illegible, and attempts to guess were futile. The system allows trying the first three letters of a last name, and when even the addresses had no one with matching names, I took those out as well. that drops the total to 87.

     There were 4 more signatures that are what can be listed as with "correctable defects." The date a person signs a petition is important, as it shows the petition was circulated during the allotted period. These particular signatures had the zip code written instead of the date. That puts them in question, and drops the total to 83. I found one more signature, it was by a registered Democrat, but it had one problem: They were registered to vote in South Whitehall, not Allentown.

    Whether anyone likes it or not, I hate to tell you, but these petitions would not have survived a challenge.

    The thing is, I think the more the merrier is good for Democracy, but you have to follow the rules. I have filed many petitions and never had one challenged. First, because I got more than I needed, and second because as I was getting them I made sure the person I was asking to sign was a qualified elector before handing them the pen. Then I had them sign exactly as they were registered.

   It is not that hard to do. When you get your petitions from Lehigh County Voter Registration and register as a candidate, they give you a walk lists of all the precincts. It is simple, you just have to read the list and go right down the street.

   I feel badly for Miss Velez, but I also feel bad for Tim Brennan. Tim is a personal friend, and the way he has been portrayed has truly bothered him. I know Tim as one of the most honest and ethical men I have ever met. I do not believe for a minute that he misrepresented himself on the phone as acting on behalf of the Lehigh County Democratic Party. I believe Tim when he tells me that all he was doing was asking her to come to his office on Monday so he could point out the flaws in her petitions. And they are flawed.
    I still don't know who the client was, and that is for others to speculate on, but if you put everything else aside, Kim Velez did not meet the burden of legitimate signatures that the law requires.

    All the other candidates did. How can we reward Miss Velez with a ballot position if at the end of the day, it is proven she did not earn it. If she is allowed on the ballot, a candidate might as well write the names of 100 different fictional cartoon characters down and give them whatever address they want.
    Voter reg isn't going to check the names, all they do is count how many, checking the names is up to regular folks if they have doubts. Someone had doubts about Kim Velez's petitions and hired Tim Brennan to check it out. That is the way the system works, if you don't like it, work to change it.

     One last point of order: I am a Lehigh County Democratic Committeeman. I have done various research for many of the political operatives in the valley area. I pride myself on being thorough. On this instance, I was not approached by anyone to do this research and I have shared it with other bloggers and parts of the media.

      I also want to give a special thanks to Tim Benyo and Terri Harkins, as well as other staff at Lehigh County Voter registration for putting up with me for three hours in their office as I researched every last signature. I would like to point out that they helped me verify at least a dozen signatures as being good, as well as the 43 I found to be bad..

      I have decided against posting the petitions online, even if they are public record. I believe the people who signed have a right to privacy, and possibly would not be willing to get involved in the Democratic process next time if they knew their names and addresses, as well as party affiliation, would be splattered on the Internet.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Okay, so now it is an 8 person race for Allentown City Council

I have to tell you, this Kim Velez thing is troubling,What you need to kmow is that Jim Davis is running unopposed for a two year term (finishing Frank Concannon's term, who now lives at Country Meadows in Upper Macungie). It is eight people running for four seats, now that Kim Velez has imploded.
   Velez Running fractured what was already a minimal hispanic vote, her not running gives Mota or Guridy a shot at coming in fourth. But not both of them. The Hispanic electorate makes up close to 30% of the inner city Dem electorate. Too Bad their turnout averages less than 5 % in the primary.  Good bye Julio!
I am running it all again with only 8 candidates. If I could predict I would say Davis is obviously a shoe in, and that O'Connell and Glazier will win 4 year terms. As for the rest, Todd will win and the rest is too close to call. More to come after I re run the parameters without Velez in the ballot..

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Allentown PA City Council Numbers

  The numbers  are based on several variables, including voter participation by ethnic group, and are way out there. I just received the results from an algorith run thru the Computer capabilities of an Ivy League school, and I am flabbergasted. I have run it four times and still can't believe it. The biggest highlight has incumbent Guridy and Mota finishing no better than 6th. That is outside what is needed to make the November General. I have to check the report further on my days off, but  that is where my own analysis keeps heading. I will post the results no later than Friday.  A race with ten Dems vying for 5 seats is an opportunity to measure voter anger. One thing to consider is that of the 4500 signatures gathered to put the water issue on the ballet, less than 28% of those folks voted in the municipal election of 2011.
    That is a wild card that is hard to measure, because of that 4500, fewer than 650 voted in the 2009 municipal election. Is the Allentown electorate that transient? or is it that disconnected?
    By the way, close to 91% of the people who signed the petition to put the water lease issue on the ballot voted in November 2012. This makes making a call on turnout in May 2013 difficult.
   I want to read the repoer further, but I can't help thinking that the whole damn thing is a shot in the dark

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why the Tea Party idiots have to go

Mazziotto, Scheller and Ott. Three of the most illiterate, uninformed idiots to ever serve as Lehigh County Commissioners.
   Their refusal to allow the Lehigh County Authority to bid on the Allentown Water lease is a historically bad decision.They are willing to allow all taxpayers in Lehigh County to absorb exorbitant water rates to make a point. In ten years they will be gone living on their government pensions while all of Lehigh County Foots the bill.   How shortsighted do these three idiots have to be to make a point? They are adamant about tax increases being bad, but support a reassessment process that crucifies property owners at the low end of the scale. Now they refuse to allow changes to a charter that will allow Lehifg County Residents to afford water over the next 50 years...When I check their PAC expense reports, will I see money from the bidders that qualify for the Allentown Water giveaway? Anybody wanna bet?
   Scott Ott is already accepting money and endorsements from for profit  enterprises he views as friendly.. These people represent no one but themselves. Shiny, glossy reform mailers be damned. These people are not about reform, they are all about ideology and protecting theirdonors, Remember that at the ballot box.

Where my thoughts come from.

Tonight I watched a "Big Bang Theory" episode which dealt wtth how a major character dealt with his absentee father, who abandoned him and his mother when he was nine years old. I was abandoned by my biological father at less than 5 months and raised by my great aunt and Uncle.  My Mother did this out of love, at the age of 18. I thank her for it, because I have always known who she was, and what she sacrificed for me to have a better life for both of us. Maybe the world is a better place because of my existence, maybe not. But I believe that Government should have no control over personal decisions, including the decision of whether or not to have a child.
   Government has no business in deciding what is or is not moral. And when I look at the list of elected Government officials using their power for personal agendas, I am further convinced that all moral choices should be left to the individual. As a whole, I see no level of government, Federal, State, or local, acting morally. So why let them be our moral guidepost?

    Reality is that our elected officials, with few exceptions, only act in their own best interests, not that of those of us they are supposedly serving. Maybe in November of 2013, or even in May, the electorate may move to change all that.

  I am running an algorithm on the prospects of a ten person race for Allentown City Council. The first results  were absolutely outside the box, with 4 incumbents losing. So I am running it again. I will post about it soon. With all the challengers at the city, Township, and County level, one thing I am sure of is that voters are ticked off. To what degree remains to be seen. Friday I am having a vision exam. I hope that helps make my vision clearer, but I can't help the rest of you......Yet.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A great article on the Tom Corbett/Jerry Sandusky Money Trail.

   I have had recent conversations with Republican friends who call our newly elected Attorney General Kathleen many disparaging names. Many feel that her investigations into Governor Tom Corbett's lack of investigation into Jerry Sandusky serial child molesting is politically motivated, and that there is NO CAUSE for an investigation.
    I respectfully disagree.

   PLease read the article on the Link I have posted. I may never shop or purchase fuel at a SHEETZ ever again. The article details how Second Mile Board members "Laundered" their donations to Tom Corbett to the tune of at least $600,000. You have to wonder why mainstream media is not asking these questions or calling the Governor on the carpet.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

PA Supreme Court Justice Guilty on 6 of 7 Corruption charges

She is Guilty!
Read all about it on the link. This makes possibly two open seats for election in 2015.

Joan Orie Melvin, just like her sister the former State Senator Janine, was found guilty of using their paid staff to run campaigns on the public dime. Maybe they will get to share a cell together.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Political Polygamy, Lehigh County Republican style

If you want to take a guess at what will happen in this year's Municipal primary, you can learn a lot from studying what has happened before. That's why I study voter turnout and identify trends to help me predict the different paths the electorate can take. Politics makes for some interesting and unexpected arranged marriages, in this case, one groom (Scott Ott) and three brides (Tom Creighton, Scott Aquila, and Mike Schware.)

   So let us take a look at May 2009, the last time the political planets were aligned this way in the Lehigh County Universe

    Way back then, two incumbent Republican Commissioners, Creighton and Dougherty, had primary challengers. Because of that, Republican Turnout in their districts was about 5 to 10% points higher than in the other three.

     For Example, present County Controller Glenn Eckhart had no challenger in District 5.  2029 Republicans went to the polls, with 1605 voting for Glenn, and an undervote of 424.  Getting 80% is a good thing in any election, But at the time Scott Ott was running unopposed for Executive, so neither race had much interest.

   But over in District one,Tom Creighton had a knock down drag out fight to retain his seat, and  2451 votes were cast for the two candidates, 846 more than Eckhart had unopposed. And Creighton only defeated Allen Cerullo by 249 votes. That is not all that many.
    The point I am trying to make here is that a contested race down ballot, such as County Commissioner, can greatly effect another race, such as County Executive.

     This year it looks like there are two Republican County Commissioner races that could tilt the County Executive race between Scott Ott and Dean Browning either way.
    The big one is Scott Aquila's challenge to Incumbent Percy Dougherty. Dougherty is no stranger to challenges, but this time he likely won't be just running against Aquila, he will be running against a Team slate, of Ott and Aquila together. It makes perfect sense for R party chair Wayne Woodman to do this. In 2009 there were 3271 votes cast in the district two race, with Dougherty prevailing over Prinzinger 1842 to 1329. A pretty comfortable win total. But Ott used the "Reform Team" label very successfully in 2011 under Woodman's direction. That play worked well then, and there's no reason to not see it ran again, with Schware, Aquila, Creighton, and Ott running under one united front.

 Here is the thing:

   I can't ascertain whether for sure who gets the benefit of this political polygamy. Because of redistricting, Dougherty has lost all the Moderate R's in Emmaus to Schware's district 5. Those votes helped Dougherty beat back challengers in the last two cycles. But I'm not sure they will easuly gravitate to Schware. I know that Schware potentially has a challenger in that district, who also happens to be an Emmaus resident. That could increase turnout by R's in district 5 as well.

     The point is, the greater the turnout in a primary, the more likely it is that the Moderate voters turnout. Now Woodman's dream team limeup might all get through at the County Commissioner district level, but the cumulative effect over 5 districts is iffy, especially if there are no Republicans on the ballot in district 3 or 4, which covers 90% of Allentown. Allentown is Charlie Dent's home base, and the moderates love him there. Sure, it is likely that only 20 to 25% of the 15,000 registered R's show up to vote, but that is 3000 voters in play.

      And the majority of those voters are exactly the kind of voters that Dean Browning needs, the Congressman Charlie Dent moderates. It is easy to understand why R County Chair Wayne Woodman wants loyal foot soldiers lining his ballot roster in November. But the battles he is picking to fight in May just might undermine his overall goal, the County Executive's office. It is still too soon to tell, but when that first attack mailing hits the R mailboxes in mid April, we will know which way the wind is blowing by who lainches the first salvo, and just how hard it hits.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Loons in the Lehigh Valley

Wayward Loons in the Lehigh Valley?

 I had seen a great many White Snow Geese in the last few days. They have been swimming in the retention pond below the cell tower behind my house,

    But I'm not surprised to read there are lost Loons in Upper Macungie. There has been Loons around for about 5 years or more now. I think many of them have even registered to vote in local Primaries. I will let you figure what party they might be voting for.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I had to engage Comment Moderation

I was out Saturday Morning clearing snow, and when I came in, I found I had been hit with numerous innapropriate comments. So I have stopped comments for the day. I left up the legitimate comment and my reply. The rest I deleted. I was hoping that would not happen, but that is what it is.

Allentown City Council Democratic Primary is wide open.

        This year there are 5 seats on the ballot. There are 4 incumbents running for 4 year terms. Ray O'Connell and Julio Guridy are running after serving one and two full terms respectively. Cynthia Mota is trying to win a full term after serving out the rest of District Magistrate Mike D'amore's term. Jeff Glazier is running after serving out the final months of newly elected State Representative Mike Schlossberg's term. Last but not least, Joe Davis is running to continue serving out the remainder of Frank Concannon's term.

   The interesting dynamic here is that three of the five incumbents were appointed, not elected. This makes a municipal primary with a history of drastically low turnout a game that could potentially be manipulated by the introduction of 1000 to 1500 voters who don't usually participate.

  Let me explain by putting forth the history of the last two municipal primaries in Allentown, taking place in May 2009 and May 2011.

In May 2009, Allentown had 42,948 registered Democrats. Democrats were so excited about their choices that only 4,332 of them showed up to vote. That is city wide turnout by Democrats of 10.08%.         Those folks could vote for as many as 4 of the 7 candidates on the ballot. That means, all things being equal, there could have been 17,328 votes cast if every voter had chosen 4 candidates. The fact is, there were only 13,840 votes dispersed among the 7 candidates. That betrays a staggering number of undervotes, of 3,488.
      That means at least 20% of the 4,332 voters who showed up didn't vote for 4 candidates. It's likely some voted for only, one, two or three. The point is, those votes were left unclaimed by any of the 7 candidates
    When you consider that the difference between 4th place vote getter Julio Guridy, who made the cut with 2056 votes, and fifth place finisher David Howelss, who earned 1,985 votes, was only 71 votes, it is easy to see how several thousand uncast votes can alter an election, isn't it?
     Now lets take a look at 2011. If you think turnout in 2009 was abysmal, 2011 was even worse.
     Of the 40,551 registered Democrats in Allentown, only 3,513 (8.66%) showed up on election day to cast three votes choosing from 5 candidates. That means the 100% potential of votes cast was 10,539.
    The 5 candidates together only garnered 7563 votes, this time with an undervote 2,976.

        Now Pete Schweyer and Jeannett Eichenwald both coasted easily, but the third spot was a toss up.
      Frank Concannon won it with 1,350 votes, but Cynthia Mota had 1,231, and John Ingram had 1,102.
      The three candidates were only separated by 248 votes, with almost 3,000 votes left at the tip of the voters fingers on the push button screen voting machines.

     Now why does this all matter?

    Enter Successful Allentown businessman/promoter Alfonso Todd. Mr. Todd has announced his intention to run for City Council. According to the Lehigh County Voter Registration website, all he needs to get on the Primary ballot is one hundred valid signatures from registered Democrats on his nominating petitions, and pay a $25.00 filing fee.

    Here is where I handicap the field.
   Joe Davis will likely not get a challenger to finish out Frank Concannon's term, and he will sail through.
   Ray O'Connell is likely a stone cold lead pipe lock to make the November ballot for another full 4 year term. Jeff Glazier will likely cruise to a nomination as well, and I will explain that reasoning in a minute.

    But Julio Guridy and Cynthia Mota? They have a big problem, and that is the apathy of the Center City Hispanic population. When I look at my charts of actual voter turnout in Allentown for the primary elections, There are more than a dozen precincts with turnout under 5 %, and 5 precincts that had turnout under 3 %.
      And those precincts are in the old fairgrounds district, where the Hispanic presence is strongest.

       Elections 101: Get your voters to the polls.

      This is why Julio Guridy barely survived in 2009, and Cynthia Mota couldn't make the cut in 2011.
      To be blunt, Hispanic voters don't seem to care. That sounds terrible, but the facts are there. Guridy and Mota haven't motivated them and I don't know what will. I wish I knew how to engage them but I don't.

     And this is also why Alfonso Todd has a rare opportunity. A perfect minor political storm is brewing in Allentown. If the water sale lease question ends up on the ballot, it will drive an anti-incumbent backlash against the Mayor's allies on council. I really doubt that the Mayor will suffer any political damage from this. Like him or not he has framed the argument perfectly for himself, trying to offer solutions to problems instead of ignoring them altogether, as his predecessors did.
       Even if there are only 1500 to 2000 more votes cast in the Democratic side of the primary, those votes will more likely be in play for those outside the circle of power looking in, than those inside it. As you can see from the data above, getting a few hundred more people to push an extra touch screen button or two could change the whols face of an election.
    COULD would be the operative word.

    Finally, Jeff Glazier is the lucky winner of the free pass award. He has an old City name, Glazier, runs an old City Business, a furniture store, and served three terms on the Allentown School Board, so he has instant name recognition. In an election with hardly anybody bothering to vote, he's almost as big a lock as Ray O'Connell.

   That's how it looks to me.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I saw my Shadow Saturday Morning

  For those of you who are interested. I rose at 4:42 AM Saturday to let my dog Sally out to do her business. When she was finished at approximateley 4:48 AM, I let her back in. I then saw my Shadow in the hall light, and went back to bed until after 7 AM. I believe this means at least 7 more weeks of winter. Now go to bed and get some sleep, it is freaking cold outside!

Interesting Trends in Lehigh Valley Voter Registration since 2003

                  I have had reason in the last couple of weeks to once again peruse voter data on Lehigh County. But in recent days I also started taking a closer look at Northampton County. I have the data by precinct for Lehigh County going back a decade, but I don't have it for Northampton....yet. What I do have is registration totals for the both counties overall, and when I put them up beside each other, the similarities are not all that surprising. I am using the period from May 2003 to November 2011 because I don't have any figures for Northampton in 2012. This makes the comparison easier and somewhat cleaner, in my opinion.
   In May of 2003, Lehigh County had 177,769 total registered voters

  That was 78,101 Democrats
                 74,902 Republicans
                 34,766 Other

   In November of 2011 Lehigh County had  214,881 total registered voters, a gain of 37,112.

   That was 107,594 Democrats  (+29,493)
                    73,857 Republicans (-1,045)
                    44,864 Other   (+10,098)

  Now initial glances at the data would have you think that Lehigh County had an invasion of Democrats migrating from the east, while Republicans were suffering from a case of fewer conservatives moving into the valley combined with a number of voters becoming unaffiliated  and changing their registration to something else.

    In Nov 2006 the Republicans did reach a registration total of over 80,000, but it has declined steadily at about 1,000 a year since then. I see this as an exodus of the more moderate voters. I see evidence of it in how far right the primary contests have continued to swing in results. This is exactly why the "REFORM" team won in 2011. It was a culmination of a perfect storm of electoral variables as it related to a party struggling to define itself. And an opposition party leader more focused on his own Congressional race than his local political obligations.

    Now lets take a look at Northampton County

In May 2003 Northampton County had 166,779 voters (only 11,010 fewer than Lehigh)

       That was 68,904 Democrats
                      55,190 Republicans
                      42,673 Other

By November of 2011, Northampton county had 201, 592 voters, (13,289 fewer than Lehigh County)

       That was 99,217 Democrats (+30,313)
                      67,986 Republicans (+12,796)
                      34,389 Other    (-8,284)

   As in Lehigh, The Democrats in Northampton have come excruciatingly close to having 50% of the electorate registered to their party. That doesn't mean they will vote as a D, but there is a psychological edge to it.

        What I find interesting is the disparity of growth in the Republican ranks in both Counties. Northampton Republicans managed to grow by more than 20% since 2003, while Lehigh County stayed more or less static. What caused that? The local leadership? the growth of the Tea party? Divisions in the Republican base between moderate and ultra conservative factions?

   If you look at the two counties from a distance, you would think they are on parallel courses, but when you get close up you have to wonder.

    So there are your thoughts to consider for this weekend What directions are the two main parties headed in? What is driving them? And Why are the Two counties so similar in demographic but so much different in the end electoral result?

Friday, February 1, 2013

The case for Incumbent Percy Dougherty losing the primary

Last week I wrote about some of the circumstances surrounding the challenge of incumbent Percy Dougherty by his own party leadership. I was personally challenged to make the case for why I believed that the respectable Dr. Dougherty was in trouble.

   Well, you asked for it, so here goes:

     I did a comprehensive analysis of Republican turnout in the primary elections for years that Dr. Dougherty ran for office. I concentrated on precincts in the 2nd Commissioner district cross referencing results from precincts that were in the district and are now out, and those precincts that are now in.
    To boot, All 6 Emmaus precincts and Macungie borough are out of the 2nd district, and now in the 5th.
   To balance that, all of South Whitehall's 8 precincts are now in the 2nd district,with 3 precincts (the 2nd,4th, and 5th) moving in from Dan McCarthy's old 4th district.
    The new 2nd district, as of Nov 2012,has 21,916 Registered Republicans.  In 2009, that district would have had 21,111 Registered Rs. By checking individual precinct turnout data from 2009, only 3,276 Republicans voted in those 24 precincts.

   That would be 1815 in Lower Macuncie, 843 in South Whitehall, 539 in Upper Macungie, and 79 in Alburtis. That means there was only 15.4% turnout by Republicans in those districts.

    I don't want to give out to much information on my personal electoral algorithm, but I would tell people to look for clues in the average price of homes in Emmaus/Macungie compared to South Whitehall. There is a distinct correlation in poll results to the average household income. I would argue that there are more farther leaning right R's in South Whitehall than in Emmaus, and a few 100 votes here or there can make a big difference. The people in Emmaus knew Dr. Dougherty, but there are precincts in South Whitehall that have never seen his name on the ballot. They have been voting for Dan McCarthy for the last decade.

   That's what the numbers tell me, argue with them if you want.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

County Commissioner Percy Dougherty gets a Republican primary challenger once again

  For at least the third time in twelve years, Dr. Percy Dougherty is going to get a Primary Challenger from his own Republican Party. In 2005, he barely beat off a challenge from current Upper Macungie Township employee and Lower Macungie resident Jim Lancsek, winning the primary with 1802 votes to Lancsek's 1578.
   That's what happens when you try to govern for the good of all the people in your district, at least if you are a Republican.

    Then in 2009, Percy fended off a challenge from a less formidable candidate, Mark Prinzinger, defeating him 1842 to 1329. Prinzinger had served with a flawed East Penn School board, and it could be argued that he suffered because of it. (also, Prinzinge lacked the finances to pull it off.)  But this time is different.

    In 2012/2013, Dr. Dougherty has had the cojones to stand for responsible governing, and stood up to the ill named "REFORM TEAM" in his own party. So Republican Chair Wayne Woodman has recruited Scott Aquila, a failed East Penn School board candidate in 2011, to run against Dr. Dougherty.

    Now you might think there won't be a problem, that the good doctor would likely survive. But the problem this time is that Wayne Woodman is bound and determined to get a Commissioners board that gets in line with him and his right arm, Scott Ott. Sources tell me Mr. Woodman is determined to spend whatever it takes to defeat Dr. Dougherty, doing to Percy what he did to Dean Browning in 2011.

   In 2011, Woodman mobilized the base of true believer Republicans against Browning ousting him.
   There is no reason to doubt that he could not do it again. To that end, I turn to my old friend "The Numbers" who we all know don't lie.

   In the newly redrawn Commissioner district #2, there are approximately 21,916 registered Republicans.

   If you look at voter turnout in 2005 and 2009, you can easily see that less than 15% of the registered R's turned out. It is easy to see how Wayne Woodman could spend $20k and get the 2000 votes needed to boot Percy Dougherty.

  No one thought it would happen to Dean Browning in 2011, but it did.

   And Democrats should be worried. As of November 2012 there are 20,396 registered D's in the district as it is now drawn.  The R's only have a registration advantage of of 1520 voters, or less than 3.1 5 of actual registered voters in the district. A good turnout machine could even this up real quick.
    The turnout in those precincts by registered D's in 2009 in the GENERAL election was in the vicinity of 15 to 18%, while R turnout was almost 30% on the average across the 24 precincts. Throw in that in 2009,of the 11% of the 7,777 (Yes that number is correct, a very odd anomaly) registered Indy/other party voters who participated went almost 3 to 1 for the R candidate, it appears the R candidate that wins the Primary has a cakewalk in November. (Note:Presently there appears to be somewhere between 7800 and 8200 Indy/3rd party registrants, depending on which source you look at.)

   Are the Dems going to sit back and surrender the seat?

   I live in the 2nd district, and I can tell you that I will do whatever it takes to keep that from happening. The three reformers have already pursuaded a possible R Primary challenger to Tom Creighton not to run in District #1, and they have a solid 4 seats. Sitting back and not contesting seat # 2 is tantamount to all out surrender. That would give them the 5 seats needed, along with possible the County Executive, to govern without question on the local level.

   Isn't it Ironic and a bit hypocritical that the same folks who complain about the Democratic Party hold on Allentown would plan a County dictatorship of their own?

   We get the government we vote for, and we get what we deserve if we don't put up a fight. If Democrats don't put up a fight, we are going to be allowing the Republican Party as a whole to make the decisions for all County wide.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scott Ott is fooling himself

  .........and unfortunately for far too many Lehigh County voters, he is fooling them too.

      Let us get something straight here. It is true that Scott Ott ONLY lost to Don Cunningham by 862 votes in 2009.  But ESPN has a TV show called "NUMBERS DON'T LIE", and a closer look at voter turnout in 2009 compared to the turnout in 2005 tells a different Story.

   In 2005, Don Cunningham received 33,263 votes to Jane Ervin's 20,721. At that time, there were 200,739 registered voters in Lehigh County. According to Lehigh County's own data, 57,638 citizens cast votes that November, for a turnout of 28.7% The undervote was 3,634, or 1.8%

  In 2009, Don Cunningham received 21,063 votes to Scott Ott's 20,201. In 2009 there were 222,980 registered voters in Lehigh County, with 44,637 participating in Democracy for a turnout of 20.02%
   The undervote of voters who participated but didn't cast ballots in the Executive race was 3433, or just about 1.4%

      A couple of big points to be made here. First, in 2005 Don Cunningham was running against a Republican who had pushed through a 70% property tax increase. This issue motivated voters to the polls. Second, in 2009, nobody gave Ott a chance exactly because Cunningham had done a good job, and people thought his reelection was easily  assured.

     Third, I would like to point out that Scott Ott received 520 fewer votes than Jane Ervin did. If we stay with his logic, then people like him less than Jane Ervin.
    Another thing to remember is that voters were burned out in 2009, after a raucous 2008 year of electioneering, In 2013, I believe the mood of the Country, and yes that belleweather place we call home, the Lehigh Valley, is shifting. Voters are tired of political games being played with every little article just to obstruct one side or the other.

   Mr Ott and his allies on the County Commissioners seem to have decided to forget that the purpose of serving in elected office is to take care of the people's business, and see to the welfare of the entire Community. Their idea of REFORM is to protect the interests of the wealthiest few at the expense of the rest of us. I agree that we have to be fiscally aware and watch our pennies. I agree that we should look at everything to see where we can save money, and I agree that there is always room to improve how government functions.

    But government can't function by unilaterally proposing $5 million dollar cuts without specifics.  A society is only as strong as its' weakest links, and we can't abandon our obligations because some feel that a few recipients don't deserve assistance or might be abusing the program. I will touch on this more in a future post, but most of the human resources money is state and federal pass through cash, and shouldn't be traeted with disdain as the reform crew has shown.

    When one is elected, I believe the person has a responsibility to weigh the best interests of all. Our Government is supposed to be "For the People" not "For the IDEOLOGY" of any political Party.

   We need people in the elected positions of Government who can work to build consensus and find common solutions, not ideologically blind theocrats whose mantra is "Our way or no way."

    Scott Ott is not the leader that Lehigh County needs in the next 4 years. Unfortunately, so far no one has stepped forward to offer an alternative. We won't know for sure until March 12th when the nominating petitions are filed what the answer to that question might be.