Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Ides of March in Allentown/Lehigh County Politics

  I understand why ballot challenges take place. Politics is a blood sport in Pennsylvania, with no holds barred. I get it, if you can run for office without an opponent, it makes your life easier. But should you? First case in point, Allentown Council Candidate Courtney Robinson (No relation to Courtney Love) has challenged the petitions of candidate John Rosario. Both are vying to finish out the two years left on the term of Jeff Glazier, who got himself appointed City Controller after Mary Ellen Koval was indicted and took a plea deal.
       Rosario filed petitions for both the 2 year, and for a four year term. I don't know the specifics yet of the challenge, but I have to wonder, why? If you want to hold elected office, go out there and convince people to Vote FOR YOU. Don't surreptitiously use legal shenanigans to rig the game in your favor. Just because it is legal, doesn't make it right.

        One other point  (Coo Coo Kachoo) Mr. Robinson, did you think this thru? Because John Rosario is very active in the Hispanic Community, which makes up more than 50% of the Allentown Population now. Granted, their community hasn't exactly exercised their power at the Ballot box, but has it ever occurred to you that you might be waking up a sleeping Giant? You would still have to face Lou Hershman in November, perhaps losing to him would be the ultimate and deserved slap down.

        Second Case in point: selective enforcement of City code. When Daryl Hendricks ran for City Council for the first time, he was still an active member of the Allentown Police Department. He did not retire until AFTER he was elected. Luis Garcia is presently an active member of the Allentown Police Department, yet he is being given an ultimatum to either quit his job or drop out of the race.  
        Uh, isn't that sort of a double standard? I can't help but wonder if it is motivated by other forces with ulterior motives, which I will get to after I discuss the next case in Point:

        Republican Christopher Pez submitted only 114 of the 100 needed signatures to get on the ballot. I said in an earlier post I was troubled by his petitions, now I will say exactly why. Pez submitted ten pages of signatures. On page 7 of ten there are 12 sigs, and on page 9 of ten, 10 sigs, that all share the same inadvertent error. The signor put their zip code in place of the date, and then the date was added beside that, outside the lines. That is 22 sigs of 114 that can be questioned on legal technicality.

         Now all is not lost here. I have seen a few challenges here locally, and I believe that judges have been inclined to side whenever possible with keeping candidates on the ballot. Only when they see a clear piece of evidence that a petitioner was willingly trying to subvert the Democratic process do they act. Back in 2006 a certain State rep near Erie had her staff fill out petitions and turn them in. She got tossed and was dealt some harsh justice, but that was the extreme.
        Mr. Pez expressed to me via email that he went about collecting his own sigs because he wanted to meet and talk to voters. What can be more Democratic than that? So I will wait to see how this shakes out in court.

          So who benefits if both Garcia and Pez end up off the ballot? You would think Democrat turned Republican Landlord Developer Nat Hyman would have an easy path to the Nomination, and could concentrate on whoever he might face in November. That would likely be true, but........

          You would be WRONG.

          This being the Ides of March, the day Caesar was betrayed, is so appropriate, because the candidate who would benefit the most is........ Brad Osborne, current County Commissioner and now County Executive candidate.

            You see, If there is no contested Mayor's Race in Allentown, plus only one City Council Candidate, R's in Allentown won't be as interested in voting. Republican Glenn Eckhart is a blue Collar kind of guy who appeals to the hard working Allentown inner City Voter, unlike Brad (I'm not really related to OZZY) Osborne.

            No real races for R's in Allentown translates into a plus for the Commissioner who has never bitten the head off a live bat (as far as I know.) It does sound a bit Machiavellian, but it makes a great deal of sense. Glenn Eckhart has run two successful County Controller campaigns and has name recognition across all of Lehigh County. He will do well with the regular working folks. Osborne, on the other hand, is a champion of the South Whitehall McMansion land, and while he has the money to spread his message, he isn't all that well liked. He's been wishy washy on just about every issue of import in the County, and always seems to see which way the wind is blowing before casting a vote. The inability of the Commissioners to move forward with a purpose concerning the County Nursing Homes is an immediate case in point.
     So it is in Brad's best interests to try and knock a peg or two out from under Glenn's base support.

       Okay, one last thought: I am absolutely stunned that as of yet, no one challenged the candidacy of Allentown Mayoral hopeful of Nathan Woodring, that was a no brainer, his petitions were absolutely vulnerable. I can't print the names, but I found two signers who do not live at the address they listed and also were not on the voter rolls. But it is too late now, and not my call to make. Lets see how they roll now.

Updated 5:30 AM  The local newspaper reports that Pez's petitions are being challenged on the basis that 40 of the sigs are from people who are not registered Republicans. If that is the case, Pez is likely dead in the water, and that is unfortunate.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why can't local government help citizens. instead of F#CK them?

   Two doors down from me there is a 90+year old women. During the week a Mini Lanta Bus comes, backs up her driveway, and takes her over to a facility across from Lehigh Valley Hospital.
    Today, Several of my neighbors and I took the time to clear her driveway after the heavy snow.

     Despite her daughter asking the Township to please not plow their driveway in, they did it anyway, putting a four foot wide and several feet high ice wall at the end of it. How do they expect a 60+ year old woman to clear that for her 90 year old mother?

     The Township says it can't be helped, but I think they are just being A$$HOLES. Any Comments?

Monday, March 13, 2017

I believe there will be Petition Challenges in Allentown

  First things first, I do not live in Allentown and have no horse in any of these races

     Now  I wish it were not so. but after viewing the petitions for every candidate for Mayor and City Council in Allentown, I have some observations. First, The Candidates for Mayor. There is one Glaring problem for one candidate in particular, Nathan Woodring. You need 100 valid signatures to be on the ballot as a candidate. Nathan Woodring turned in exactly 100 signatures.  That is all. That is a recipe for disaster. While I was at Lehigh County Voter Registration on Monday a person came in asking for information on how to challenge a candidate's petition's. I asked the person who they were challenging, and they admitted it was Woodring's. Voter registration turned them away, sending them to the proper place and procedures for petition challenges. You only need to find one signature with an issue to get tossed with that kind of margin. After looking at Woodring's sigs, I think they will find at least one.

        Now, just for the heck of it, I looked at the petitions filed by the Republican candidates. I was deeply troubled to see that Chris Pez only filed 113 signatures. Luis Garcia filed almost 200, and Democrat turned Republican Nat Hyman filed several hundred. I quit counting after page 15. Pez has left himself exposed to a challenge if Hyman or Garcia were to decide it worthwhile to knock him off the ballot.   
        I doubt if Garcia would do it, I see him as a guy who wants to take on all challenges. Hyman, though,as a former Democrat who some believe may have been recruited to be a Republican surrogate for interests of businessmen who are uncomfortable backing the current Democratic incumbent, would see knocking Pez off the ballot as a plus for his long term campaign.

    The thing to remember here on the Democratic side is that the more candidates there are, the more split the vote, the better chance Pawlowski has. On the Republican side, as a Democrat turned Republican, Hyman needs as little competition as possible. The West End R's will never vote for a Hispanic or black, ask Tony Phillips how that worked out in 2009.

   That is why I believe Pawlowski IS NOT behind any challenges. I have people telling me what they think, and I have my own personal experience today, but I do not know who is behind it, and guesses can be wrong.

     It would also not surprise me if Mayoral candidate Joshua Siegel is challenged, and while I believe his signatures are good, I believe it would be a tactic specifically designed to drain his campaign finances. It could also backfire, encouraging people to fund his campaign in the face of blatant unfairness by those entrenched as political players.

     Okay, now moving on to the candidates for City Council. I looked at every single petition. It says a lot that Julio Guridy is using many of the former Fleck organization employees to help his campaign. Cynthia Mota? there is nothing about her petitions that on face value that you would immediately challenge, but I have to wonder if she actually circulated each of her petitions. If I was going to challenge, I would ask why she is listed as the circulator on the back on several different petitions on the same dates. in neighborhoods in three different parts of the city. She has several hundred signatures and would survive any challenges, but I am curious why she is listed as almost the sole circulator. Maybe she really did cover all that ground in a very short period of time, so I have to give her benefit of the doubt.

    I like Eugene McDuffie. His heart is in the right place, he believes the next generation of Allentown deserves a chance, but he only turned in 130 + signatures. I looked at them, and they look good, but again, I can see one of the unscrupulous INS taking a shot to knock him out and make him spend what little campaign funds he has.. It is what insecure people do.
     I also believe that Allentown Tenant Association President Ken Heffentreger might get challenged. While he turned in more than enough signatures, those with deeper pocketbooks could force him into court and defending his petitions, and drain his meager campaign funds. This is what they do. I don't like it, but it is how they roll.  We will find out first thing Wednesday morning who gets bitch slapped, and who does not.

Update 3 PM:  I mistakenly said that West end R's would never vote for a Hispanic or black. That is too big a blanket of a statement. What I should have written, and am writing now, is that I don't believe that the West end R's will be completely supportive of a minority candidate (from either party), and that is backed up by past election turnout and results. I regret casting such a wide blanket over one particular voting block.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The 2017 Allentown REPUBLICAN MAYORAL Primary and why it matters

  There are thirteen thousand five hundred and ninety two (13,592) registered REPUBLICAN voters in Allentown. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, compared to the forty five thousand seven hundred and fifty three (45,753) registered Democrats also in Allentown.

      But what we have coming up here on May 16th is a primary. A primary that so far has seven announced Democrat candidates and three Republicans. Today it is time to look at the Republican numbers. When I look at the turnout numbers for the 57 Allentown precincts since 2001, there is one very clear pattern, and that pattern is that despite being outnumbered by approximately 3.5 to 1, The registered Republicans do participate in the process. I believe that it is mostly because they (and their county party leaders) realize their importance in helping elect Republican candidates countywide.
      You would think that because Republican candidates theoretically don't have a chance in Allentown, that Republican voters might be as complacent as well as apathetic as the Democrats in Allentown, but they are not. While Democratic Turnout in Municipal primaries has struggled to break 10% in most districts, Republican turnout has in many precincts surpassed 25% and in one case, 30%.

      (We will touch on the General election in a future post, where R's out perform D's in Lehigh County in municipal elections by at least 27% to 18%, and the 20+% of Independents that participate go for R candidates by an 85% to 15% margin)

        So this year we have what I see as a perfect storm that could very well elect the first Republican Mayor in Allentown since 1997.  This storm is reliant on incumbent Ed Pawlowski winning a plurality over the six other candidates and becoming the Democratic nominee. For Republicans, this will be a Christmas gift of unfathomable proportions. This will turn off many of the few Democrats that do turn out in Allentown on Municipal election years, and help the Republicans maintain their majority at County Government levels. It will also, in my opinion, very likely give Allentown a Republican mayor, and possibly a Republican City Council member or two.

    If you don't believe it possible, I will point out to you that Republican Congressman Charlie Dent won Lehigh County by over 17,000 votes, despite the Democrats having a registration edge of over 35,000 voters. Ninety percent of that supposed edge (32,000) exists in Allentown. So you put a damaged incumbent who is under Federal Investigation as the Democratic nominee, and have him face a young energetic and charismatic Republican, and you have got yourself a horse race.

      Which brings me to handicapping the three Republican candidates. First in was Democrat turned Republican Nat Hyman, a property developer in Allentown Center City who, for the most part, is on the outside of the NIZ looking in. The last time R's ran a converted D against the current mayor that did not end well at all. Second in was Christopher Pez, an area native, and an Allentown Central Catholic grad who likely appeals to the local R's for being a guy who ran his own company and knows what small business owners have to endure on a daily basis.  Third, is Allentown Police Officer Luiz Garcia. Garcia is well spoken and articulates his platform and passion for the City very well. All things being equal, when I use my formula to score the three candidates, I think the Republican Primary has a turnout in Allentown of 22 to 25% of the registered R's. Which means 3200 to 3500 votes will be cast.

      My vote breakdown, based using census figures on median income,  past voter activity and preferences, plus a couple of other variables I came up with over the past decade, breaks it down this way:
             Pez              1440 to 1536 (45%)
             Garcia         1120 to 1216 (35%)
             Hyman          640 to 700   (20%)

            I believe this race is truly a toss up between Garcia and Pez. And to be honest, I feel there is a bias against Hispanics in the Republican base. Trump didn't win without their votes, but I also believe that it can be overcome. It will be tough for Garcia, but I think it possible.

            I also think that either Pez or Garcia could defeat Pawlowski. Hyman has no shot on that regard, because he played ball with the mayor many times, and Whoever the Dem nominee is, even if not Pawlowski, would toss it in his face regularly.

            I ran this data with the variable that Pawlowski does not get indicted BEFORE the Primary day. If that happens, Pawlowski's safety gap of votes would shrink to a point where he likely would still get 15% of the Dem vote, but give one of his challengers a chance to get by him.

      We have a long way to go, more than two months are left. The ride is going to be fun!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

So prospective candidate, you want voters to listen to you?

  The first thing a candidate should do is try listening to the voters first. A group of canvassers set out not to change anyone's minds, but to find out what was on them. In engaging the voters, they learned that voters like it when people listen to what they have to say, giving their voice an outlet. Click on the included link and take a read.

Monday, February 20, 2017

If Allentown Mayoral Primary was today,.....

   Ed Pawlowski would win the nomination. You read that correctly. As things stand right now, the Mayor who has not yet been indicted would win nomination for a fourth term. The latest results from my own personal algorithm with 7 candidates comes out like this: (In approximate numbers)

     Pawloski  1250

     Thiel         1075

     O'Connell   950

      Bennett      725

      Jones          650

      Siegel         650

    . Basrawi      450

      Woodring   250

     This is based on voter turnout of approximately 6000 registered Democrats. Once the money starts getting spent, there could be some drastic moves in the rankings, but if only 6000 of the 45000 registered Democrats in Allentown come out on May 16th, This could be what you get.There are approximately 120,000 people in Allentown, do you really want your mayor chosen by barely one percent? If 6000 of 45000 are all that vote in the Dem primary, that is less than 5 % of the overall population.  The top contending would be mayors are already sniping and wounding one another with amazing ferocity, if their social media presences are any indication.

    Now over on the Republican side, it is Property developer Nat Hyman against Independently wealthy self employed Christopher Pez. This just keeps getting crazier. I think Pez should have people at each precinct passing out PEZ dispensers on primary day. I have to think about this and look at something that hasn't been relevant for decades, Republican turnout in Allentown. Oh Well!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Allentown Mayoral Electoral Equation as of today

          As of Monday, January 23, there are six announced Democratic candidates for the Mayor of Allentown. There is also one Democrat turned Republican now in the race.

           With so many candidates, the number of votes needed to secure the nomination is not that easy to discern, but I have given it a shot.

            First, let us take a look at Mayoral primary turnout since 2005. In 2005, there were three Democrats on the Ballot. There were 6670 ballots cast in the Democratic primary. Ed Pawlowski won the nomination with just 2692 votes (40.4%). Sam Bennett came in second, garnishing 2154 votes (32.6%). Louie Belletieri came in a very competitive third with 1824 votes (26.9%).
       At that time there were about 41,500 registered Democrats in Allentown, which means barely 16% of the eligible voters participated in choosing the mayoral nominee. When you really look at it, the mayor was chosen by less than 7% of the Eligible Democratic voters,  2692 of approx. 41,500.

             In 2009, Pawlowski was challenged by Dick Nepon, who was easily defeated 3571 (86%) to 577 (14%). There were only 4048 votes cast that year in the Democratic Primary. In 2009, there were just over 42,000 registered Dems, so less than 10% of the Dems made the decision that Pawlowski get another term.

             Moving on to 2013, Ed Pawlowski was unopposed, and turnout dropped even lower, as he received 2583 votes. No one was on the republican ballot, and his campaign ran a mailer asking Republicans to write him in, He needed 100 to do that, and he received 139 write in votes. So Ed was in fact, the candidate of both Republican and Democratic parties. He was challenged by former Councilman Mike Donovan as an Independent in the November general election, in which he eked out a surprisingly small victory of 5845 to 3602 votes over an underfunded opponent. Imagine that, winning a third term with less than 8 % of the overall registered voters in Allentown voting.

            Which brings me to my projection for the 2017 mayoral primary turnout. It can be argued that when voters don't think they can make a difference, they  will be indifferent. And with Ed Pawlowski having no true challenger in the primaries since his first run in 2005, It is no surprise that the number of participating voters in local municipal elections has kept sloping downwards since 2005. It didn't help that his lack of challengers enabled him to keep a slate of bobbleheaded followers on City Council during that time.
            But 2017 is going to be different, I believe the number of voters is going to rise after more than a decade of gradually dropping. Having six candidates on the Democratic side really opens up the choices for prospective voters. I will start with the longestshots and work my way up from there.
       Five of the six candidates have run for office or been elected before. Only newcomer and recent Seton Hall graduate Joshua Siegel is a political virgin who will have to build a voter base from scratch. Nathan Woodring once served on Wilson Borough in Northampton County, and despite getting a few dozen write in votes in recent municipal elections over the last decade. will also be fighting a battle to make a name for himself. I would put Siegel ahead of Woodring at this point, as he brings fresh young energy to the race and it would not surprise me closer to election day if the top contenders attempt to take some of his ideas as their own.

       Next comes District three County Commissioner David Jones. Four years ago he had a tough challenge to keep his Commissioner seat, I believe his intentions are good and that he would be a capable Mayor due to his experience at the County Level. I just don't believe he can garner the City wide support outside district three to win the nomination. Next comes Sam Bennett. While she has never been elected to office, She has worked tirelessly locally and nationwide to further the opportunities of woman in elected office. She is separate from the stain of Pawlowski, but also has the connections to raise the money needed to get her message across.  Does she have baggage? Yes, but it is nowhere near as heavy as that of our next contestant, Incumbent Mayor FED ED Pawlowski

       How does one facing an impending indictment find the gall to announce a re-election campaign for an improbable fourth term? In all of the Mayor's previous campaign announcements over the last decade, (and there were many, for many different offices) he was always surrounded by his family and dozens, if not hundreds of supporters in a public place. This time he did it on facebook, all by himself. It was a litany of accomplishments in Center City, ignoring the fact that all he really did was make a millionaire named J.B. Reilley into a Billionaire. It is telling to me that he is standing as a man apart from the rest of the field. I don't believe he is going to have the money to bankroll the campaign needed to drive off challengers like he did the last two times out. But I won't count him out, and at the end, you will read why.

     So now we come to the two candidates with the best shot at unseating the Mayor, Allentown School Board member Charlie Thiel, and City Council President Ray O'Connell. O'Connell has seized the high ground as a foil to Pawlowski, and he helped negotiate a truce in the budget battle. O'Connell will have support from the public sector Unions which is critical to being a viable candidate. Charlie Thiel has the backing and resources of behind the scennes mover and shaker Jennifer Mann. Mann made a name for herself in the State legislature and has a hide that is tough as nails. She doesn't take a lot of crap from anybody and she plays to win. She will get Thiel the resources he needs to compete. That's why I put him at the top with O'Connell, because both have the stones and backing to go toe to toe with the mayor.

   I honestly think it is a four person race, with Bennett, Pawlowski, Thiel, and O'Connell the best players, but having one of the others crack that top four or burst through is entirely possible.

     So in a six person contest for one seat, how many votes will the winner need?

     I project that Turnout by Democrats in Allentown will likely be between 13 and 15%, or approximately 5200 to 5600 voters.  Remember, only 6670 turned out in the last real contested primary in 2005, and Allentown's Demographic has shifted sharply in the last decade, There are more rental units than ever, and renters are the least likely of all voters. Throw in growing voter dissatisfaction with government at all levels, and I kind of think I might be shooting too high, but I think I am about right. I would like to say that having so many candidates will bring many new voters out in May 2017, but I don't see it.

    To win a six person dogfight like I expect this to be, The winner will need 1450+ votes. That is approximately 28% of projected turnout. I expect the top four to all break 18%, and get close to 1000 votes. Remember, you don't need a majority, just a plurality. That is how the current Mayor won with 40% in 2005.

    The last item is this: Ed Pawlowski has an extremely loyal, if not all that large base. He is already playing the victim card in the local communities portraying himself as a victim of media distortion and vindictive government officials. Kind of reminds me of a guy who just won a national election.

     Anyway, I predict that Ed Pawlowski gets at least 1150 votes. He could win this thing, even if he gets indicted before election day. I don't have faith in Allentown voters, because they have a history of being complacent sheep. If Washington D.C could elect Marion Barry Mayor again after he was caught on tape smoking crack, I have no doubt that phone tapes of Ed Pawlowski soliciting contributions won't mean a damn thing.

Coming up Next Time: What does Nat Hyman do for this race?