Dolan: Distrust Between Council, Observers

Controller deadlock is the result of lack of trust between council and "shadow council," Dolan says.


City Council will take one last crack at resolving its differences to pick a new controller at a special meeting tonight in Town Hall.

If it fails, the selection will likely fall to judges on Northampton County Court, which can be petitioned under Pennsylvania’s Third Class City Code once the city goes without a controller for 30 days.

Council members appear to agree that this is not a desirable outcome. But in five votes over two meetings since , the result has always come out the same: Two votes each for Councilman David DiGiacinto, retired economist William Scheirer and financial planner George Yasso.

To hear Councilwoman Karen Dolan describe it, this deadlock is the result of a “great distrust” among council members and between City Council and a group council-meeting-regulars who are neither elected nor city employees.

At , Dolan described this group as “the shadow council.”

And because Scheirer, the candidate both she and Council President Eric Evans favor, is a member of “the shadow council,” he is being kept away from the controller’s office by her colleagues, Dolan said.

The “shadow council” apparently believes that council members are incapable of thinking for themselves who either vote in factions or because they are beholden to a leader, Dolan said.

The shadow council grades individual members “like sides of beef,” Dolan said – a reference to grading papers distributed, collected and compiled every week by council gadfly Stephen Antalics, which ask observers to give each council member a grade for every meeting.

“We know what you think of us because you tell us,” Dolan observed.

By the same token, Dolan noted that her council colleagues are not blameless. Without naming names, she accused some of them of behaving poorly during the most recent , during which sitting council members defeated members of the “shadow council” who were Republican nominees. Since then, there have also been “broken trusts,” among council members, she said.

Council members have taken to painting “shadow council” with a similar “broad brush” that “shadow council” members paint them with, Dolan said.

“Mr. Scheirer is not to be trusted,” Dolan said. “If you’re on the shadow council right now, you are all being seen the same.”

The retired English teacher compared the two groups to 14-year-olds incapable of seeing how they contributed to causing a fight.

Yasso is supported by Councilmen J. William Reynolds and Michael Recchiutti, who both won election in November.

DiGiacinto, is supported by Councilman Robert Donchez, who also just won re-election, and Councilwoman Jean Belinski. Dolan said that despite his qualifications, she does not support DiGiacinto, because it would require council to stand in for voters for a second time to pick his replacement on City Council.

Tonight's special meeting will start after council's Human Resources and Environment Committee meets at 6 p.m. in Town Hall.

Roy Schreffler February 27, 2012 at 12:20 PM
It may help some readers to look back to November 2006 and the council meeting minutes for some historical perspective on this issue...quite interesting I might say. http://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/city_council/agenda_minutes/archive/2006/minutes/2006-11-14.htm
Patriot2 February 27, 2012 at 12:55 PM
The real problem here is that Reynolds despises the shadow council people and has castigated anyone who speaks out against the Mayor or City agenda. He is an elitist and a puppet for the Mayor. If DiGiacinto is appointed Controller, he should be replaced by the candidate receiving the next highest number of votes in the last council election and that person is considered part of the shadow council that Dolan refers to. The important point about the shadow council people is that they care enough about the city to attend the meetings and speak out and that is noble in my opinion.
Jon Geeting February 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Seems natural that council members would over-weigh the importance of people sitting directly in front of them at meetings, but it's important to remember that they're just a handful of people in a city with tens of thousands of residents. You can just ignore them. Nothing they do really matters in terms of moving votes, as we saw in this past election.
Keith February 27, 2012 at 02:04 PM
After hearing Councilwoman Dolan's ranting on several occasions I have concluded that ANYONE who disagrees with her on ANYTHING is considered her enemy. There is no debating with an elitist who's own motives have been poorly spoken, but well documented. Perhaps if it was her seat that was up for reelection this past november we would be hearing the councilwoman's conspiracy theories about "ninjas in pajamas" who sit in on thier city's council meetings.
Jon Geeting February 27, 2012 at 02:30 PM
"The important point about the shadow council people is that they care enough about the city to attend the meetings and speak out and that is noble in my opinion." And yet the "shadow council's" opinions on policy issues don't matter any more to than the guy sitting at home watching American Idol who can't name all the people on council. Politicians should do what they personally think is best for the city, not what the loudest people tell them to do.
Keith February 27, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The "loudest people" are the citizens who elect the politicians. They have the right to have their opinion counted. Especially when the council member doesn't respect any opinions but their own often misguided or uninformed and often skewed position. I thank the "shadow council" for being a voice for the little guys who aren't always able logistically to make it to local political meetings. Thier opinions DO matter, and keep the politicians who look for votes in line!
Patriot2 February 27, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Well Stated Keith. The Shadow Council plays a vital role as a watchdog for the people that sit on their butts at home watching TV and don't have a clue how bad some of their council representatives are when it comes time to vote. Karen Dolan falls into that category as a left wing liberal elitist.
James Halleman February 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Sounds like Ms. Dolan and council doesn't care much for being criticized. But that is the political business. Must be nice to be so perfect.
James Halleman February 28, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Every week? council meets every two weeks. I think this is an unfair representation of the frequency of the meetings held. The papers are an opportunity to offer feedback, again I am sorry if council can't take criticism from the people who elected them and pay their salaries...
James Halleman February 28, 2012 at 02:40 AM
I suggest papers for committee and budget meetings too!!!


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