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.