Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Proposed Campaign Contribution Limits and Tax Law

Will the proposed campaign contribution limit proposed by J. Michael Schweder work? No. He apparently did not consider the tax law. According to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code Section 2503(b) in 2007, an individual can gift $12,000 or less to anyone and no gift tax filings need to be completed. Therefore, in order to circumvent any changes in campaign contribution limits, any individual could gift privately to the candidate any dollar amount $12,000 or less and the candidate could contribute to his or her own campaign. The aforementioned discussion is considered the "gift tax exclusion" regulations. In addition, the gift tax exclusion is adjusted every year for inflation. In 2006 the gift tax exclusion amount was $11,000.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why does Jean Belinski Always Vote the Same as J. Michael Schweder?

Jean Belinski, is a nice woman on Bethlehem city council, however, she never seems to have her own opinion about anything. Ms. Belinski always votes the same way J. Michael Schweder does on every single item up for voting. Can Ms. Belinski think for herself? Or is Mr. Schweder such a bully, that she thinks she has to follow his lead on everything? I certainly hope that J. William Reynolds (the newest elected official to city council) can make his own decisions.

Schweder - Proposed Limit on City Political Donations

Yesterday, J. Michael Schweder proposed limiting campaign contributions to $1,000 for an individual for an election and $2,500 for a Political Action Committee for the mayor, city council, controller and treasurer. Mr. Schweder must have forgotten that he received $5,000 from the Campaign Committee of Former State Representative TJ Rooney and $5,000 from Dorothy Zug-Taylor in 2005 for his campaign for city council.

This is an example of another one of Schweder's personal attacks against the Mayor, since he plans to run for Mayor (and he'll lose). He hopes to prevent Mayor Callahan from raising funds which will exceed his own funds. This is also an attack against Meg Holland and an attempt to get his friend's name (Mr. DiGiacinto) in the paper again. Schweder needs to get a life and start doing GOOD things for the city rather than causing problems!

(Picture of J. Michael Schweder downloaded from the City of Bethlehem's website

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bethlehem Area School District - $5.7 Million Budget Deficit

The Bethlehem Area School District obviously needs some financial overhauling.The Bethlehem Area School District has a $5,700,000 budget deficit and plans to increase property taxes by 5.4% to help curb the problem. The school board also put off accepting the audit report. Not to mention, that according to estimates to this date, $11,000 in laptop computers are missing. Apparently laptops went missing and then the following month more went missing. This is FRAUD and someone or numerous people are raking in the benefits of a clueless school district and superintendent. My questions are... who performs the financial audit? what are the comments made by the auditors? who is responsible for the finances of the school district? Someone needs to be held responsible. There is a Bethlehem Area School District Finance Committee Meeting scheduled for February 4, 2008 at 7:15pm at the Education Center Dinning Room.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Meg Holland, Bethlehem Controller, Releases First Year's Agenda

Meg Holland held a press conference today to release her first year's agenda as the newly elected City of Bethlehem Controller. Reporters from the Morning Call, the Express Times, the Bethlehem Press and the Channel 69 News attended the press conference. Holland provided a detailed listing of her agenda, which included the following:

1. Hire a Deputy Controller
2. Attend monthly pension board meetings and review reports
3. Establish fraud deterrence and prevention practices
4. Establish purchase order procedures and authorization controls
5. Enact record retention policies for the Accounting and Controller’s Department
6. Enhance the existing database of municipal contracts with the Law department
7. Review and monitor the budget process
8. Meet with all departments as to policies and procedures
9. Review of medical insurance and catastrophic insurance processing
10. Operational and performance audits of departments and other entities (including the entities that are part of the Bethlehem Authority)
11. Review purchase policies and procedures as they relate to pricing negotiations
12. Meet with Sands-BethWorks representatives to review the casino host fee contract
13. Meet with various other local government controllers to coordinate any efforts with respect to related areas

DiGiacinto is a Poor Loser

David DiGiacinto, the unsuccessful democratic City of Bethlehem Controller candidate, is a poor loser. According to Bernie O'Hare on his Lehigh Valley Ramblings Blog, DiGiacinto "ducked" out of a debate proposed by the successful candidate, Meg Holland, during campaigning in October 2007.

Now, Mr. DiGiacinto files not one, but two, erroneous complaints with District Attorney Morganelli against Meg Holland and her campaign.

The first complaint was filed regarding a donation not reported timely, based on the 24 hour reporting regulations. However, Mr. DiGiacinto neglected to research the 24 hour reporting regulations, because the donation was received after the 24 hour reporting requirement had already expired, therefore, Meg Holland's campaign committee correctly reported the donation on the post-election Campaign Finance Report. In addition, Mr. DiGiacinto claims to have visited the Northampton County Office of Voter Registration several times in December 2007 to verify that the aforementioned donation was reported correctly. My question is... why didn't he have time to debate during the campaign, if he seems to have a lot of free time on his hands to take leisurely visits to the Northampton County Office of Voter Registration to verify Meg Holland's donations?

The second complaint was filed regarding Meg Holland not filing her nominating petitions accurately by listing her name as "Meg Holland" and not her legal name "Margaret Mary Holland". Again, Mr. DiGiacinto did not do his research! The nominating petitions state that the candidate's name should be listed "as they want it to appear on the ballot" and that "nicknames are allowed as long as they are a derivation of the legal name" (Meg is obviously a nickname for Margaret).

Mr. DiGiacinto wasted the time of District Attorney Morganelli by not doing research. There is a rumor that Mr. DiGiacinto is in "hot water" with the Democratic party over his wastefulness and disregard for the District Attorney's time and the taxpayers' money.
(Photograph of David DiGiacinto downloaded from

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bethlehem Area SD Considers Drug Testing

The Bethlehem Area School District is considering requiring drug tests of prospective employees including teachers. The school district might have problems with the teacher's union, however, this consideration is extremely important. John Acerra, former Nitschmann Middle School Principal, brought drug problems with teachers to the front page and the national scene in February 2007 when he was arrested for selling crystal meth in his school office. The arrest was extremely embarrassing for the Bethlehem Area School District and the Superintendent.

Drug testing of all new hires should already be required and the school district should also consider enacting random drug testing of existing employees. Teachers are role models for the children and they should not be using drugs. From my experience in the Bethlehem Area School District at Northeast Middle School and Liberty High School I know of teachers who smoked pot on a regular basis and this should not be tolerated.

The Morning Call wrote a good article in the January 17, 2008 newspaper.