O, yes, election season has begun

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

ref: Councilman Reynolds opens his mayoral campaign
ref: Thinking about the primary election
ref: Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance issues a CALL TO ACTION

As Gadfly tries to dial back from the national drama (though this week promises to be as portentous as last), he would like to call attention to the beginning of the local political campaign season.

In an event likely to have been overshadowed by the insurrection, Councilman Reynolds kicked off his run for mayor last Wednesday. He should never have any difficulty recalling the exact date he tossed his hat in the ring!

Four City Council seats are also on the line.

Elections excite the Gadfly. They represent periodic new beginnings, fresh starts.

And Councilman Reynolds has laid out substantial visions for the future to woo our votes.

And we will hear more from campaigns that will necessarily have to be run under pandemic rules.

How interesting. What impact will there be on such standard fare as door-to-door solicitation, meet-and-greets, candidate nights, and so forth? Will campaigning radically change? Will we see innovative tactics?

You’ve seen Gadfly hope for competition, the vigorous exchange of ideas in the public square that makes us all better.

He would particularly like to see people of color and women candidates.

But sometimes, as they say, you gotta watch what you ask for.

The Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance is looking for candidates.

That does not bode well, thinks the Gadfly.

We’ve seen one commenter in these pages say that “this group seems to prefer labels & fear-mongering to actual analysis or truth.”

And to wonder “what the term ‘Marxist’ means to them.”

Another poster found the LVGNA commentary “pretty awful . . . incendiary and off-putting, not an opening for a conversation.”

If there is one thing that the insurrection tells us, it’s that we need to seek a greater sense of community.

In addition, Gadfly hears President Waldron’s wise call for civility in our local dealings.

As a first step in fielding a candidate, Gadfly would ask LVGNA to stop the name-calling and to explain how Marxism pertains to the actions done by and positions held by current elected officials.

“So you wanna run for City Council”

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

So you wanna run for City Council Game Show!
Lehigh Valley Stands Up
Moderated: Jon Irons
December 10, 2020

As you can see from the previous posts this morning, the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance is aghast at “Slick Willie” Reynolds’ participation in a Zoom event — a “Game Show” — hosted by Lehigh Valley Stands Up called “So you wanna run for City Council.”

It behooves us to learn more about this event and Councilman Reynolds’ participation in it.

You can see for yourself via the link above.

The game was run on Kahoots, which looks like a popular educational tool.

The game was moderated by low-key LVSU member Jon Irons, a familiar public commenter at City Council meetings. There were a dozen participants, two Gadfly knew professionally, and one whom you can see was cooking in her kitchen the entire time. Except very brief comments by winners of the game at the end, participants did not speak.

LVSU compiled 20-some mainly multiple-choice questions relating to City Council membership.

  • Should you run for office?
  • I would vote for a city council candidate who supported which of the following statements.
  • Which of the following are great reasons to run for city council?
  • What professional qualities do you need to run for city council?
  • What qualities make for a successful councilperson?
  • What types of people does it help to have in your network to run for council?
  • What are some skills you should have to prepare to run for council?
  • Add some qualities or ideologies you would like to see in city council members.
  • What’s it like to work for council?
  • What is the most time consuming part of a council member’s work week?
  • What type of career background is REQUIRED to run for city council?
  • What are some responsibilities of council members?
  • How much does a city council member earn for their work?
  • What is another IMPORTANT non-legislative role that city council members have?
  • What is a way that elected officials can engage with and grow from constituent feedback and meetings?
  • What are some fundamentals for thinking about a campaign for local office?
  • How many signatures does it take to get on the ballot for a city-wide race?
  • How many votes are needed to win a city council race in Bethlehem?
  • How much cash money should a candidate raise to fund a city council race?
  • What is one of the most expensive parts of a city council campaign?
  • What are some ways to get started with a campaign for city council?
  • Are you feeling ready or willing to run for office?

Our Councilman Reynolds and Allentown City Councilwoman Ce-Ce Gerlach were present to expand on answers to questions. They had no other role in the program. They participated almost not at all. Here’s an example of Councilman Reynolds responding to a question about time management. (1 min.)

There was no political commentary or discussion during the event.

Information about LVSU’s 3-point political platform was quite brief and presented at the end.  The 3-point platform is police accountability, affordable housing, voting rights. None was expanded upon. There was no overt attempt to proselytize. Invitation to join was offered. (4 mins.)

Should “Slick Willie” have passed on this opportunity to foster active public participation in the political process?

Was his behavior anti-American?

Is Lehigh Valley Stands Up not good company?

What are you thinking about a morning devoted, in effect, to the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance?

———-

See Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance under topics on the right-hand sidebar.

Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance on debunking defunding the police

Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder

Facebook January 3, 2021

Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance

Wanna hear the truth for a change?

Ya know, just for a goof.

Here ya go.

(Don’t let misguided politicians like Willie Reynolds or brainwash professors like Holona Ochs manipulate your mind with their debunked ideology.)

———-

selections from Christopher Young, “A cop debunks four core myths of the #DefundPolice movement.” New York Post, December 27, 2020.

As a progressive who wants to decriminalize drugs and advance the welfare state, I fit in well in my Pacific Northwest community. Except, that is, for my job: I’ve been a big-city cop here for 26 years. Before that, I served in the military. The raging #DefundthePolice movement doesn’t know me and my colleagues at all — and persistent myths about police and their critics do more harm than good.

Four myths especially deserve debunking by an officer who knows.

1) Police are killing large numbers of civilians. That’s simply not true. . . . The reality is that US policing has steadily improved over the past 50 years. In Gotham, officers firing a gun have gone from a daily to monthly occurrence. And the city has become dramatically safer over the same period. In other words, the NYPD has successfully used less lethal means of preserving — and improving — the rule of law.

2) The anti-cop movement is largely peaceful. Again, false. The movement, rather, is akin to the Batman villain Two-Face. Anyone who watched the protests on television would know that the daytime ones were lawful free speech. But the dynamic changed dramatically at night. Protests became intentional ­riots, designed to draw a police response that allowed rioters to claim victim status.

They would begin with insults, shouted at the riot line for hours in the hope that exhausted officers would retort on video; some told officers to commit ­suicide. Then they would throw rocks, shine bright lasers in our eyes and throw fireworks and Molotov cocktails — forcing the police to respond.

Yet the mainstream media adopted the comically false “peaceful-protest” narrative and perpetuated the myth of pervasive police brutality. For activists, it was a successful propaganda operation, encouraging the police to engage with force, then driving the narrative that law enforcement “overreacted” to latter-day Gandhis.

3) Abolishing police wouldn’t lead to lawlessness. Many of the defunders are genuine anarchists, who want no government at all and believe in a society of angels who serve each other voluntarily.

This is nonsense. One of the greatest achievements in human history was creating government monopolies on the use of force. Ancient tribal societies had a violent death rate of 500 per 100,000 people per year. That number dropped to 50 in medieval societies and just one to five in the modern West.

Seattle’s recent experiment with the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, proves this. Police weren’t allowed in the “occupied” protest zone for three weeks. It immediately became a hellscape and led to the shooting deaths of two young black men — the very people the movement claims to want to protect from the police.

4) Today’s police are “militarized.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. As a soldier, I rode in an armored vehicle and sat in a turret with a belt-fed machine gun. My job was to shoot enemy soldiers. In my 26 years as a cop, I have done no such thing.

Contrary to activist complaints, SWAT teams’ armored vehicles, armored clothing and special training help them avoid deadly force, not commit it. A regular cop is often justified shooting someone who threateningly brandishes a gun. A SWAT officer wearing protection, however, will wait longer before resorting to deadly force. In Seattle, our SWAT team recently saved a suicidal young black man with a gun.

Here’s the reality. We need police on the streets.

Social-justice warriors say that policing is hopelessly broken, and the only solution is “defund, disarm and disband.” Take it from a left-leaning cop: Those arguments are either wildly exaggerated or just plain false.

———–

See Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance under topics on the right-hand sidebar.

Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance asks a question

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Facebook January 3, 2021

Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT COULDN’T GET ANY WORSE . . . SLICK WILLIE STRIKES AGAIN!

Remember when two-faced Bethlehem City Council members insisted they never publicly stated they were going to defund the police?

Well, on December 10th, current Councilman Willie Reynolds (who we have it on good authority is about to announce his candidacy for Mayor) participated in a “How to Run for City Council” Zoom meeting where he was giving advice to the same local Marxist group that demanded the defunding and elimination of the police.

Slick Willie’s master plan is to become mayor and then pack city council not just with the leftists who already sit there but with Marxist radicals who called the Bethlehem police an evil machine and said they didn’t want to hear from any more white people but we just want your money, frankly.

Are you going to allow Marxist radicals and their puppet to take over the City of Bethlehem?

———-

 See Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance under topics on the right-hand sidebar.

Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance issues a CALL TO ACTION

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Ref: Thinking about the primary election

———–

Facebook January 3, 2021

Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance

————
See Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance under topics on the right-hand sidebar.

Giving gadflying a bad name

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

This is the kind of stuff that gives gadflying a bad name.

Somebody needs to connect the dots between the newspaper story and the LVGNA post for me.

————

Peter Hall, “Bethlehem police: Man tried to gouge officer’s eye during arrest.” December 28, 2020.

An Easton man is charged with aggravated assault after allegedly trying to gouge the eye of a Bethlehem police officer who was investigating package thefts Saturday.

Rashan Y. Bellamy, 39, of the 900 block of Butler Street was sent to Lehigh County Jail under $50,000 bail, according to court documents. In addition to a felony charge of aggravated assault of a police officer, Bellamy is charged with simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and driving an unregistered vehicle.

According to a police affidavit:

Officer Matthew Steidel and another Bethlehem officer were watching a car that was identified as the vehicle used in multiple package thefts. The officers discovered that the temporary registration tag on the car was assigned to another vehicle and had expired in September.

When the officers saw Bellamy get into the car and pull out of a parking space without using a turn signal, they tried to make a traffic stop, but Bellamy eluded them.

Steidel radioed that he found the car in the 600 block of Fifth Avenue and officer Trevor Tomaszewski responded to that location. When Tomaszewski arrived, he saw Steidel struggling to take Bellamy into custody. Tomaszewski helped Steidel handcuff Bellamy, who continued to resist until he was placed in a police car.

Steidel said Bellamy pushed him against the police car, hit him and pressed his finger on Steidel’s eye.

———–

“We have the information and the ability to do better”

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

speaking of statistics

ref: What’s missing in LVGNA’s march to victory?

Much appreciate the work Gadfly; the need for this conversation is pretty apparent if one does believe that there are over 1000 neighbors “supporting” the fear mongering being driven by the so-called good Neighbors Assoc.

To stick to facts over 50% of Americans believe that policing needs a major over all while only 6% believe no improvements are needed.

Gallup usually gets this stuff fairly close to right I think we would all agree (https://news.gallup.com/poll/315962/americans-say-policing-needs-major-changes.aspx).

But more than that; there are concrete examples actually happening all across the country.

Chesa Boudin in San Francisco and now the newly elected LA prosecutor George Gascon (https://www.wfmz.com/news/crime/new-la-prosecutor-ends-cash-bail-for-many-offenses/article_7451be42-206c-5537-93bb-0e4aa7304b6d.html); revolutionizing the way we see policing, eradicating cash bail, re-evaluating 3 strikes cases and the ceasing of charging juveniles as adults.

All of these structural changes are supported by data; not rhetoric, not feelings nor a desire to cling to days gone by.

The only excuse Bethlehem has to not follow the ingenuity of those leading the way is fear.  Not good enough. We have the information and the ability to do better.

Michele Downing

Residents chatter about Gadfly around Gadfly’s water cooler

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

ref: What’s missing in LVGNA’s march to victory? et al

  • Gadfly’s assault on LVGNA shows immense bias on his part.
  • And a lack of common sense: Tuesday was precisely the right night to call in, the time to influence council before they offered amendments.
  • And some naivete: just because 2 council members may have said 2 weeks before that they would not defund the police doesn’t mean that they would not have 4 votes to do so.
  • Hey, Waldron pulled a tricky maneuver, diffusing call-ins by announcing at the beginning that there were no amendments.
  • I think he [Gadfly] has been sucker-punched by the BLM agenda to destroy America. A majority of those scary July 7th speakers subscribe to that BLM agenda.
  • Yeah, and that husband and wife that keep calling in are avowed Marxists.
  • I thought so.
  • Marxism is totally unacceptable.
  • I think Gadfly is basically a good guy, I just don’t see how he goes along with mantras like “What do we want — Dead cops” or “Pigs in a blanket.”
  • There’s a lot of ignorance: police do not kill black criminals at a higher rate than whites, and no one is talking about black on black crime which kills 90% of blacks—they focus on a limited number of blacks killed by police instead of addressing the inner city drug culture & fatherless households & crime.
  • Don’t forget that Blacks themselves don’t want a reduced police presence in their neighborhoods by an 80% poll preference.
  • So the Neighbors have every right to be concerned.
  • No question the George Floyd thing was awful but that occurs to white & Hispanics as well and particularly when they resist arrest or are juiced up on drugs like Floyd was.
  • The Neighbors were civil, how about the guy from Broad St that screamed at the top of his lungs, he . . .

Councilwoman Negron: stop the lies!

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

We come to an end of Gadfly’s coverage of the December 1 City Council meeting. You have heard lots of voices. Gadfly loves these voices. Both our elected officials and our ardent residents.

Most recently we have been listening to Council voices. You can really learn something about these people by hearing their voices, no?

And I hope you can recognize them by their voices.

When Gadfly started Gadfly he used to put pictures of the Council members up and ask you to identify them. He did that because he quickly learned that there were a decent number of followers who couldn’t name the Council members and, of course, couldn’t “recognize” them either.

Gadfly wants you to know them, know them well, especially if they are on the ballot next time ’round.

But, he wonders, could you recognize their voices if he put up some audio clips without identification?

Maybe will do that. Would be an interesting exercise.

But we’ll end this thread of posts with one voice you can’t miss.

Councilwoman Negron.

And she’s on fire here!

Listen —

7 mins.

  • I’m very upset right now.
  • [Thanks Councilpeople Reynolds and Crampsie Smith]
  • Thank you for calling the group that is spreading fear, especially among the elderly . . . they are scared.
  • They are spreading lies, lies.
  • This is not fair.
  • As a woman of color that has been hurting about everything happening in our nation . . .
  • [Recounts her work history and experience with the police]
  • That’s what I did for frickin’ fve years!
  • I know we can do better, I know how to do it better.
  • So it is appalling to me . . . that somebody would just come up and say this is what they are doing.
  • It is wrong.
  • Stop the lies.
  • I am really happy we have a brand new Chief of Police, I am very proud of her.
  • And I know that under her leadership, we are going to do a whole lot better.
  • The role that we have as members of Council . . .
  • You want to fire me, go ahead, I don’t pay for my rice and beans for the $185 I get from City Council.
  • Stop threatening for something that has no value.
  • You wake up and smell the coffee.
  • It is wrong.
  • Something that you need to understand is [both City and Council have roles and services they need to provide] we can not just eliminate public safety and police and hire 50 case workers.
  • It doesn’t work that way.
  • We are not in the case worker business.
  • [Police and Health Bureau working together]
  • [Working with Pinebrook]
  • [Northampton County and Lehigh County have great crisis programs]
  • We need to do a better job sharing this information with our community.
  • We have a great service [at the county level], we don’t have to reinvent the wheel for something the city is not meant to do.
  • That is what the county Human services do.
  • [Mental health and drug court]
  • They get treatment according to their need.
  • I am really appalled that some individuals took it upon themselves . . . to scare half of the city.
  • That has to stop.

Other Councilmembers respond to Councilman Callahan: suspicion, outrage, separation

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

If you’ve been following Gadfly’s coverage of the butt end of the December 1 City Council meeting, he left you with Councilman Callahan in the middle.

Where Councilpersons Reynolds, Van Wirt, and Waldron took aim.

We have suspicion that Councilman Callahan is the source of the “fake controversy,” outrage that he’s driving a wedge between Council members, and belief that his intention is to separate himself from the rest of Council in regard to support for the police.

Councilman Reynolds (4 mins.)

  • better idea of where this fake controversy came from and how it got pushed to this point
  • [conversations with other Council members] we all had our suspicions.
  • pick and choose [quotes]
  • [About the Community Engagement Initiative] A lot of people are feeling pain, and we are trying hear different people’s perspectives
  • A lot of the comments that night, some we agree with, some we disagree with.
  • [Long meeting, lot of people talking] You do not have to own every comment made.
  • Different people have different perspectives.
  • [Conversation with a police officer]
  • A lot of discussion over past six months is not . . . slogans, or how we make people look bad . . . [but] how do we move past that for the betterment of society.
  • You have a 4hr meeting and somebody says O they agree with this and they don’t agree with that so on and so forth — that’s not a serious way to look at these issues.

Councilwoman Van Wirt (2 mins.)

  • [Thanks to other Councilmembers for their words] to promote unity and healing.
  • [Thanks to Councilwoman Crampsie Smith] for the dichotomy that is a good Councilmember, which is that you can do both things at once.
  • Indeed, that is the definition of a good Council member, being able to do both things at once, both sides of the coin.
  • Usually, I don’t respond to Mr. Callahan . . .
  • But I am outraged at his behavior . . . driving a wedge that doesn’t exist in between Council members and causing such pain and fear among our fellow citizens.
  • His words have been divisive and inflammatory, self-serving, and distorted.
  • What we need is unity.
  • Finding someone using such a painful topic for their own gain, I find reprehensible and I’m embarrassed.
  • For him to take words and distort them, I find reprehensible.

President Waldron (2 mins.)

  • mixing and matching different quotes from callers and Council members that may or may not have anything to do with each other
  • out of context look pretty damning, and I think that’s exactly what you are doing right now, inciting a lot of the rhetoric that’s been going on
  • After a lot of the rhetoric that’s been going on and the emails we’ve been getting . . . facebook posts that have been circulating there’s been a lot of misinformation and a lot of quotes being taken out of context.
  • I’ve had an opportunity to correspond with a few people . . .they thanked me for clarifying the record and said they were misinformed.
  • . . . intent to separate you from the rest of your Council members as if you are the only one who is standing up for the police department when clearly every one on this Council supports the police department.
  • There’s no proposals to defund . . . supporting [the police department] 100%.

Councilman Callahan quotes from the record for the record

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Councilman Callahan got himself in the middle, a not unusual position for him, by providing his explanation of the genesis of the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance and the callers the night of the December 1 Council meeting.

That genesis, he said, was a combination of the tough defunding/abolition statements by commenters at the July 7 meeting plus sympathetic and supportive responses to them especially by Councilpersons Reynolds and Van Wirt.

Councilman Callahan went to the July 7 primary source and quoted passages from the Councilpersons to back up his point.

He explained that he wasn’t trying to differentiate himself from others on Council, but he wanted the record to show that such statements were made, statements that would concern some citizens, and Gadfly believes that Councilman Callahan was implying that if it weren’t for pushback at the August 11 meeting, there might have been amendments affecting the police department from the more liberal members of Council.

Certain members of Council “re-prioritized” after pushback, he said.

This, you will recognize, is the narrative of the LVGNA.

5 mins.

  • I agree with a lot of the comments that Grace Crampsie Smith made.
  • All of us agree . . . very unfortunate deaths of those individuals..
  • Some of those cases, I believe it was murder.
  • I’m totally supportive of the police in our city, but I understand why the Black Lives Matter movement came up . . . supported that movement.
  • I don’t know the group that you are talking about [Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance].
  • Obvious some of the residents of the city were concerned that some of the comments that were made at the July 7th meeting  . . .
  • No one on Council right now is making any amendments to defund the police department, but, let’s be honest, that was not the case at the July 7 meeting.
  • [reads comments from public at the July 7 meeting]
  • Based on comments made at that meeting . . .
  • [reads direct quotes from Councilpeople Reynolds and Van Wirt at the July 7 meeting]
  • Those are the comments that were made and that’s the genesis of some of the phone calls that were coming in tonight.
  • I don’t know about any threats, and I apologize to Ms. Crampsie Smith if anybody attacked her.
  • [People who called in tonight] felt there were some pretty radical comments made at the July 7 meeting and there were some comments by Council members that backed up that.
  • I’m just quoting from the record.
  • That’s where the genesis of that was.
  • Nobody should be inciting any type of violence against anybody, or any type of fear . . .
  • We’re talking about the Bethlehem police department [not Wisconsin, Minnesota, etc.].
  • Our police department hasn’t really had any ____?___ since the Hirko settlement . . . national accreditation.
  • [Concerns of people who called my house came from comments by Council people Reynolds and Van Wirt]
  • Those were direct quotes from the Council meeting.
  • I just want it on the record that those comments were made by those two individuals.

2 mins.

  • [Mr. Waldron], I think what happened was in that following Council meeting there was a lot of pushback
  • I was the only one at that time — I’m not trying to differentiate myself from any Council members — I said very plainly we are not defunding the police department.
  • There was a lot of pushback and [Councilers Reynolds and Van Wirt] had a re-prioritization of their thoughts.
  • [repeats comments of Van Wirt from July 7]
  • That’s a direct quote; I’m not putting words in anybody’s mouth.
  • If anybody thinks the context is wrong, please go and check.
  • [Gives time marks on video for each Council person] Judge for yourself on the context.

2mins.

  • I agree . . . empathy . . . seeing from both sides of the issue.
  • All I was saying — I don’t know any of the callers who called in, I don’t know why anybody thinks I had anything to do with it, I didn’t encourage anybody, if you want to blame me for that, you may, I had nothing to do with it, I don’t know anybody who called in — I’m just trying to correct the record.
  • I encourage all the residents, go look at the July 7 video and make up your own decision.
  • I’m not putting words in anybody’s mouth, go look at the meeting.
  • It wasn’t till after that meeting [August 11 public safety meeting] . . . when there was pushback and everybody kind of took a step back from their comments . . .
  • For everybody to pretend that those comments weren’t made is very disingenuous.
  • Make up your own mind.
  • Had there not been pushback from the community . . .
  • I don’t know anybody that called tonight . . .
  • Had there not been the pushback, some of the more liberal people on our Council . . .
  • When it comes to our police safety, I think some of the comments that those two Council members made that night were not welcome.

2 mins.

  • Mr. Reynolds, I agree with you about the emotional and reactionary response.
  • I plainly said, right away, immediately, we are not going to defund the police department.
  • My point is that some of you reacted . . . very reactionary and emotional responses to what was being said that night instead of thinking through the process.
  • I stated right away, we’re not defunding the police department.
  • I’m not trying to embarrass anybody, but everybody’s trying to back walk.
  • Just like these comments weren’t made. They clearly were made.
  • I felt they were reactionary and emotional responses from you.
  • If anybody is offended by me quoting . . . I apologize.
  • But I encourage city residents to watch the video.

Councilman Colon: a lot of fear but not a lot of understanding

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

The sense of injustice that most Council members felt at the actions by the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance might best be registered by the response by Councilman Colon the night of the December 1 Council meeting.

In his more than two years of Council watching, Gadfly never saw Councilman Colon so exasperated.

The always pleasant, always cheery, always even tempered, always brief Councilman was, in Gadfly’s view, quite a bit off his equilibrium in his longest commentary in Gadfly’s tenure (8 mins.). Not, it seemed to Gadfly, “appalled and angry” like Councilwoman Crampsie Smith, but pained and frustrated.

  • What I heard tonight was a lot of fear but not a lot of understanding.
  • As Councilmembers we are tasked with looking at things from everybody who calls in and understanding that life looks a lot different depending on what lens you are looking at it from.
  • This heightened sense of fear that we heard tonight . . . where’s this coming from? . . . what’s driving some of this? . . .
  • this idea that there’s a nefarious, clandestine, undermining of the police department and beyond our police department our City’s sense of feeling safe in our residents’ own homes . . . and drumming up the sense that looming around the corner is us, the City Council, with this plot to kinda push Bethlehem over a cliff into chaos.
  • And we hear these anecdotal notions of other cities and what’s going on . . .
  • this idea that if it weren’t for Council being called out that we were ready to unplug the energy of Bethlehem . . .
  • or that conversations going back to over the summer where we tried to understand where people were coming from . . .
  • people who feel that they are walking around with targets on their backs, whether real or perceived . . .
  • we heard tonight, some people who say that they can’t call the police
  • then on the other end of the spectrum people who feel that they can’t go to bed at night because they don’t know if there’s going to be someone to call if they need help.
  • Or to the brave men and women who actually punch a clock every day and put on a badge feeling that they aren’t being supported or that they are walking around with a target on their back . . .
  • A lot of this fear, but not a lot of understanding.
  • Talking about something that happened more recently, we all lauded an appointment that came before us with our new Chief of Police, Chief Kott, that passed unanimously, without question, not only did everyone vote in favor of Chief Kott, everyone sung her praise, justly so . . .
  • After the new year we should have conversations about hiring practices within the police department, promotions within the police department, what police responses look like, what our policies . . . and also visit the pilot program with the Health Bureau . . .
  • Previous to this fury of emails we had already established that at a budget hearing that we were not taking any positions away from the police department.
  • It’s a matter of understanding comprehensively how we operate a city . . .
  • I invite . . . anyone interested in learning anything, tune in.
  • Don’t just take it from a Facebook post, get it from the source, tune in to a Council meeting . . .
  • We’re getting emails from people telling us not to do something that we have not had discussions to do.
  • Acknowledging that there are people who think different than you not that they are trying to plunge Bethlehem into an anarchist state but that they want to look at things in a certain way to accomplish goals.
  • And that’s not going to happen overnight . . . these things don’t happen with a flip of the switch.
  • hope that we as a Council, outside of some of the other forces that be . . . continue to offer understanding of each other, of the different perspectives, and really try to diminish fears out there . . .
  • that we are behind closed doors in the shadows plotting to turn Bethlehem into some sort of chaotic city, which there’s nothing to support that.

Councilwoman Crampsie Smith: sympathy and support not mutually exclusive

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

“I can do both. I can sympathize with people of color and the hurt and pain they are feeling, and I can also support the police. They are not mutually exclusive things.”
Councilwoman Grace Crampsie Smith

Last week was a quite busy week for your city government and thus for Gadfly. A regular City Council meeting and the final budget hearing. Lots of interactions by our elected officials, the kinds of things that are not only important for us but also give us a good view of our elected officials. Gadfly will try to provide a few more scenes from the City Council meeting today to catch up on that one anyway.

The response from City Council members at the December 1 City Council meeting to the full court press that the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance put on to obstruct Council’s suspected conspiracy to defund the police was vigorous.

Led off by Councilwoman Grace Crampsie Smith in strong words that were praised by her colleagues (5 mins.):

  • No one on Council has ever proposed eliminating the police.
  • That has been the message sent out to the community over the past days and weeks, and that is unfortunate.
  • Many on Council have been hurt and moved by the pain and hurt that people of color have experienced.
  • This doesn’t mean that we are anti-police.
  • In my personal and professional life I have had many friends and clients and students who have been victims of systemic racism.
  • I see them, and their hurts, and I sympathize, but I can do both.
  • I can sympathize with people of color and the hurt and pain they are feeling, and I can also support the police. They are not mutually exclusive things.
  • And that needs to be clear to the community and the individuals and the groups that are spreading falsehoods about me and my fellow Council people.
  • [Council supported resolution for supplies for police.]
  • [She enrolled in the Bethlehem Citizens Police Academy to get a better feel for what police do.]
  • [Have been meeting with police since June about how to improve the quality of services and officer training.]
  • The biggest concern I have . . . is the falsehoods circulated by individuals such as the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance.
  • They have instilled fear in our community needlessly at time when we should be encouraging and supporting of others, especially like the elderly, crime victims, and those with PTSD, etc.
  • [Personal experience, daughter of a police chief, knows the stress.]
  • I saw my father get hurt and have a heart attack in the line of duty and almost die when I was 10 years old.

“She claims she’s not for eliminating the police but she wrote the resolution that gives radical Marxists direct influence over City policy and policing.”
The LVGNA “coffee cup” brochure

  • I saw the stress that that job took on him and I saw him go to an early grave because of the stress.
  • I am appalled, I am angered by the individuals and the groups that say I and my fellow Councilman do not support the police.
  • My father was a police chief and frankly I feel you are spitting on his grave by saying I do not support the police.
  • You can insult me, you can attack me personally, but don’t attack my family and that is what you are doing.
  • [Other family members in police work.]
  • I have nothing but complete respect, love, and admiration for them.
  • I would just ask that the individuals and groups that are spreading these falsehoods please consider the ramifications of your actions.
  • The one thing that is most upsetting is that you are instilling fear needlessly in innocent citizens of our community.

The claim that the Community Engagement Initiative Councilwoman Crampsie Smith co-sponsored with Councilman Reynolds gives direct influence to anybody much less radical Marxists is false.

What’s missing in LVGNA’s march to victory?

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Gadfly has liberally quoted recent voices from the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance without comment.

But he does not agree with them.

Here is some of his thinking on that.

  • LVGNA’s two highly placed but unnamed sources who indicated City Council was conspiratorially plotting as a bloc to “defund” the police department were wrong.
  • In fact, two Council members were immediately on record weeks ago as totally opposed to “defunding.”
  • Gadfly followers would know that he, who looks forward to comprehensive discussion but not necessarily “defunding,” has been whining precisely about Council inaction and saw no movement toward a vote of any kind.
  • People paying attention would know that there would be no vote on the police department funding at the regularly scheduled Council meeting December 1, that if there were to be any voting at all it would happen at the budget hearing December 3 and the final vote would not be till December 15.
  • Thus, LVGNA created a false sense of crisis for December 1.
  • People paying attention would know that Council is planning public meetings with and about the police in January, and if there were to be any change in the way policing is done, it surely would not happen till after that public discussion.
  • People paying attention would know that, on their own initiative, the police have instituted a pilot program involving a social worker, without any “defunding,” to be sure, but precisely in the kind of direction that “defunders” would like to see them go.
  • That said, the new Chief has basically recognized that there is a problem to be addressed and Council and police seem to be working cooperatively not antagonistically.
  • The notion fostered by LVGNA that people need to rally at the barricades to defend the police and save public safety from dissolution seems a false narrative.
  • LVGNA has perpetuated the notion of “defunding” — admittedly a poor term to begin with (which is the reason why Gadfly tends to put it in quotes) — as a mindless or Marxist attack on the police rather than a good faith attempt to address some problems by re-imagining how policing is done.
  • Those who call for “defunding” are not monolithic. Gadfly spent several posts on the “abolitionist” who presented at the NCC conference in October. He saw change gradual as public safety moved to a new structure.
  • The notion that “defunders” or “abolitionists” want an immediate end to police departments, throwing civilization into chaos, returning us to the law of the jungle, misunderstands the movement.
  • There were extreme public statements made against the police July 7 — that, yes, gave even Gadfly the shakes — but his response, like those expressed by some members of Council, was to try to understand the basis of such rhetoric not immediately condemn it. That seemed the neighborly thing to do, and certainly would be the role of a Council charged with representing the entire community.
  • Since that time those speaking for change in public safety have been quite moderate both in tone and idea. Gadfly has come to think of them as mainstream “defunders.”
  • In contrast, we find the LVGNA facebook pages filled with extreme hostility: Council members are characterized as “big city leftists,” supporters of “BLM, Antifa, and the criminal element,” toxic, disgusting, Socialist, simple minded, disgraceful, shameful.
  • And we find callers referred to as “radical Marxist anarchists.”
  • The kind of language hardly conducive to the good conversation that builds community.
  • The LVGNA seems to believe that police should be allowed to operate without oversight, especially by the body legislatively charged with doing so.
  • In short, Gadfly has a hard time seeing that LVGNA is doing any good. In fact, quite the contrary.

Without a doubt, the main thing that Gadfly has noticed in the recent self-styled LVGNA march to victory is what is not there.

Not a mention of George Floyd. Nor the other names on the necrology of tragic police encounters with people of color.

Not a mention of awareness of where and why the “defunding” movement started.

Not a mention of the problem the movement is trying to address.

It’s generally agreed that the “defunding” movement began with the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

And in the past six months it crescendo’d with a series of such events spanning George Floyd to Walter Wallace.

If you don’t try to understand the trauma of these events, you will never understand the “radicals.”

LVGNA has 7000 signatories to a petition to defend the police. LVGNA could do a lot of good with that following.

Gadfly has suggested starting a conversation based on a specific “first contact” situation between the police and a member of the community.

Here’s how he put it after his discussion of LVGNA’s “coffee cup” brochure.

Does LVGNA see no first contact problem that needs to be addressed? Gadfly would be curious to know the basis for such a view. That would be good conversation.

Or does LVGNA see a first contact problem and have a solution (such as more training handled internally by a department) but are objecting to “defunding” and/or to the presence of BLM? That would be good conversation too.

Such a conversation would better prepare us for the meetings Council will host with and about the police in January.

Residents chatter about the December 1 City Council meeting around Gadfly’s water cooler

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

ref: Residents support police, reject defunding
ref: Residents who support modifying the police budget

  • Good for LVGNA [Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance] people for recognizing the threat to the police planned by Council & alerting neighbors.
  • Bias?
  • Nelson got 11 minutes to drone on, while Waldron cut into Ragni before 5 minutes — why???
  • Yeah, Waldron consistently favors Stand UP [Lehigh Valley Stands Up] callers. Back in that long meeting he called down Ragni while letting Ochs go on & on for over 15 minutes.
  • Ochs was meeting behind the scenes with some of the council members.
  • Why did they [other Council members] make Callahan the villain?
  • Yeah, all Callahan did was point out what was said.
  • At the July 7th meeting they [Council members] accommodated LVSU [Lehigh Valley Stands Up] demands, including complete abolish[ing] of policing.
  • LVSU put the pressure on meeting after meeting.
  • They [LVGNA] were accused of fear mongering? There was reason to fear police defunding based upon this radical group pulling the strings of council.
  • Yeah, it was only Tuesday night they said they were not going to put forth an amendment!!!
  • If they’d said that before, it would have been a different story Tuesday.
  • Yeah, LVGNA would have been fools not to speak out to defend the police.
  • Since the BLM protests . . .

Residents support police, reject defunding

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Largely through the efforts of the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance, public comment was lively at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting and focused on the police part of the City budget discussions.

Word was out — unreliably — that a move was afoot on Council to “defund” the police department and perhaps that a vote would be taken, and the majority of the callers expressed their support for the department and disapproval of any attempt to “defund” the department.

Here are those voices. Gadfly encourages you to listen. If the audio clips are hard to hear, click to the video of the meeting for better quality.

Gadfly’s text is not meant to be exact or complete. Listening best.

See how these callers support their positions.

If your time is limited, Gadfly’s picks on which to focus would be George and Greg.

———-

Steve McGowan (3 mins.) (min. 6:15)

Concerned about full funding for the police. Family moved here from crime-filled city. Love this town. Thanks you for making us feel safe. Shook up by incident in which daughters’ school door was shot through. Professionals and essential workers insecure with the way the world is these days. Police presence at Musik-Fest a huge deal. Incident where there wasn’t. Brawl. Grabbed daughter and ran away. Opportunists look for opportunities where there are no police. Thank you. Wish more support for police. Grandfather was a cop. Police essential for well-being and safety of our community. Thanks to police for doing what they do in thee difficult times.

Michelle Dalgren (2 mins.) (min. 9:34)

Glad we’re just talking about rumors here. Long-time resident. I love our country. I love our city. I support the police. They have a lot of honor and should have a lot of respect from all of us. They’re going through a rough time. It’s a great time to support police and make sure they have what they need for training and accountability. They are first and last line of defense. Daughter with car trouble, officer on the scene and got her going. Lehigh Valley is nice area and we can show leadership to the rest of the country if we go in a positive direction.

Margot (3 mins.) (min. 20:06)

Thank you for your service to the city. Life-long resident of the Valley. I’m calling because I heard there was an effort to defund our police. Reassuring that that is not happening. I highly value the Bethlehem police department. Exceptional. Have had great interactions with police. Terrific interactions. Great reputations in the LV. One of the best departments in the Valley. Want to make sure that they are funded and even a little more. Public safety is paramount. I as a tax payer support your efforts.

Lucy Lennon (5 mins.) (min. 24:10)

Total and heartfelt support of our police department. Extremely blessed by leadership. Good men and women who work hard to keep community safe. Department is 1 of 800 of 17,000 nationwide with accreditation. Statewide only 120 of 824 departments have it. Only 4% nationwide have dual accreditation like we do.  Only 24 complaints out of 61,000+ calls. 2 complaints a month. Lots of time and effort put in on their own volunteering, fundraising, etc. Good humans. We are blessed. If you are looking for funding, take back department head raises. City Forester, Zoning inspectors, etc. I hope you will look deeper into the budget. Don’t cut police and fire. They keep historic neighborhoods quiet, deal with crazy domestic calls, etc. Mentally ill. They know how to deal, that’s what trained to do. If you don’t support them, you should be ashamed of yourselves. They are doing a great job despite what I hear from some of you. They make our city a great place to live.

 Michael Sasser (3 mins.) (min. 40:30)

Very happy not defunding and that police are getting raises. Our police deserve it. Military kid, lived many, many place. Bethlehem police best I’ve ever encountered. Best in state. Very proud. Bethlehem lately built on tourism. We can have best festivals and etc but if people aren’t safe, it’s all for naught. Extremely happy we’re not defunding. Proof in the pudding. Reading articles every day about cities like Portland, etc., where there’s a direct correlation between defunding/devaluing of police, mass retirements, and crime has spiked upward. New York City used to be great place to take a family. Mass exodus there. More police, safer we are.

George Roxandich (4 mins.) (min. 43:52)

Reading comments by other people (from survey?). May be no current proposals to defund, it’s obvious that sympathies of some council members are with radicals to undermine or re-structure the police force. It’s stunning that City Council would make one of these radical groups with no practical knowledge of policing de facto subcommittees of the Council. Anyone afraid to call the police shouldn’t call the police, they should call anybody they feel comfortable calling. And see what happens. Sending a social worker to a domestic violence call, not good even for police. Words of comfort and consolation inadequate in these volatile situations. The folks who are trying to defund the police departments have other agendas in their minds. A lot of these activists became activists because they were conditioned to be activists. It’s very easy to be pulled into these organizations. Violence we see elsewhere hasn’t come here yet because we have what we need from the police and the community. But other cities have said the same thing til it turns on them.

Greg Ragni (5 mins.) (min. 47:48)

Much has been made of tone of political statements and how much words matter. If simply relating quotes elected officials make upsets them, maybe they should think more carefully about what they say. I’ll spare Council the pain of hearing their own quotes in favor of hearing the voice of the people. Over 7,000 signed a petition to defend the police department from defunding and many left comments representatives should hear. [Reads series of vivid comments.] Hopefully from those voices of your constituents you get the idea.

Carrie (5 mins.) (min. 1:08:20)

Defunding an emotional issue for us. Events across the nation riveting and troubling. Reminded about how important police are to us. Accountability is at the core, for everyone not just the police. We are 50% of situations. We choose how we respond. Choose well. Although our police great, 911 is not only option if you don’t want to encounter police. If in mental health crisis, both Lehigh and Northampton county have hot lines. Mental health assistance offered at county level. Majority of people feel 911 ok. Gives crisis intervention numbers. Thanks Chief DiLuzio for decades of service. Shares more comments by respondents to the petition to defend police. Thanks you for hearing the majority of Bethlehem residents with common sense and belief in our police force.

Labeling all people willing to speak out for transparency and discussion “Marxists” is shameful

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

ref: The Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance also in full-court press as budget vote nears

Thank you for curating, Gadfly. Debate is missing, in spite of  your effort.

Obviously two sides so opposed – like our federal political parties – could only benefit from committing to listening to each other’s scientifically supported view points with a promise to listen and act based on democratic norms.

That is a hard thing to hear for those suffering under the legacy of 400 YEARS of racial, social, cultural, economic and medical oppression. This is a fact that can not be denied, though it is ignored and challenged and belittled.

Ignorance of its importance is being made known, especially recently by the young who perhaps don’t have the material wealth and social power to fear losing. But what is RIGHT?

We had been a country that prided itself on standing up against bullies, or so we’d been taught. I (a 54 year old) – like so many – agree that now is the time to use our voices on behalf of all. This must include those oppressed with the hope of righting our nation’s egregious wrongs, as much as possible.

BLM protests – joined by all creeds – have been largely non-violent – 93% (according to the report by US Crisis Monitor cited by Time, USA Today, Washington Post, and others) – in spite of the unquantifiable violence done on their ancestors their CONTEMPORARIES, and themselves.

If one thinks this is inaccurate, the democratic, civilized, educated norm is that one cites sources AND DEBATES; one does NOT write or yell “fake news” with any integrity.

Yes, corporate media must be checked, just like the powers and branches of government that can be bought much more easily as a result of the 2010 Citizens United ruling that allowed unlimited corporate funding of elections leading to undocumented “dark money”. (1) Fair and reasonable political influence? Phooey. Three Americans have more wealth than the least wealthy 50%. (2) Good at what they do? Certainly. Good FOR what they do? Much less so.

But that sweeping “fake news” cry is not only dishonest, it is lazy, undemocratic, ill-intentioned, and inhumane considering the suffering that has created the need to demand justice.

State your position HONESTLY, not in a partisan (one-sided) vacuum outside of society. Labeling all people willing to speak out for transparency and discussion “Marxists” is fascist oppression of free speech and McCarthy-esque, shameful (and likely libelous* and slanderous*).

*Where would this stand legally considering the recent Gunther Walsh radio bit and the online posters that have been shared?

To BE better, we have to DEMAND better, and then ACT better.

(1) https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/citizens-united-explained

(2) https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/noahkirsch/2017/11/09/the-3-richest-americans-hold-more-wealth-than-bottom-50-of-country-study-finds/amp/

Greg Zahm

President Waldron: no will on Council to defund or eliminate the police department

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

President Waldron began last night’s City Council meeting with a brief announcement that, despite rumor (think Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance), there is “no will among Council members to defund or eliminate the police department.”

President Waldron asked Council members to submit amendments to the budget for discussion at the Thursday budget meeting by Monday, and none were received relating to the police (sounds like there is something coming related to the Fire Department, however).

Even before going to a longish list of callers in the comment space of the meeting, President Waldron wanted to “assure” the public that Council “will not be amending or making any changes” to the police department budget for 2021.

“It is our intention,” he said, “as Bethlehem City Council to continue to support all of the employees of the City of Bethlehem, including the police department.”

The police department budget, President Waldron said, is, in fact, larger than last year mostly because of a 3% salary increase, like all of the 600+ City employees.

The salary of elected officials remains the same, no increase.

President Waldron’s announcement took some of the drama away from the subsequent string of pro-police callers, for the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance was in a kind of blitz mode during the previous 36 hours or so, including the appearance on the Bobby Gunther Walsh radio show and including the skewering of Councilwoman Van Wirt in the image Gadfly posted for you yesterday right before the meeting.

The meeting was robust both at the beginning from callers (overwhelmingly against “defunding” but powerful voices on the other side too) and at the end (the spirited interaction among the Council people).

Given some time, Gadfly will provide details and audio clips as usual, but, of course, in the meantime, you can go to the video (begin min. 1:46:00 with Councilwoman Crampsie Smith’s passion and eloquence for the Council interplay at the end).

Also, in the meantime, Gadfly suggests that you go to the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance Facebook page to see their reaction to the meeting.

Yes, go there. Whew!