Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Election Day Predictions 11-05-2013

So, it's an off year election across the nation! In thousands of municipalities, voters are selecting candidates most have never even heard of. I've already voted this morning in my home town of Emmaus and was voter #29 at Precinct 1. Here's how I think things will shake out here in Pennsylvania and in some of the more noteworthy races around the Country:

Virginia Governor- Terry McAullife by 6

New Jersey Governor- Christie by 25

Alabama 1st Congressional District GOP Primary Run off- Bradley Byrne wins by a bigger margin than most think. "Tea Party" Dean Young has been a one-note samba on gays being a threat to America. Um...what? I think the bigger threat is out of control Government spending. This will be seen as a rebuke of the Tea Party (as will Virginia). It isn't (neither is Virginia).

Pennsylvania Superior Court- Jack McVay Jr. (D) by 4. I voted for him. Just couldn't bring myself to vote for Vic Stabile.

Lehigh County Executive- Scott Ott (R) by 4, but that's only a guess. Higher than normal D turnout in Lower Macungie Twp and Parkland School District -could- push Muller over the top. If that happens, God help us...

Lehigh County Commissioner District 5- Wes Barrett (D) defeats Mike Schware by 3%. I really hope I'm wrong on this one but Wes has run an excellent campaign.

East Penn School Board- Alan Earnshaw and Rebecca Heid win another term and are joined by Chris Donatelli and Garrett Rhoads. Incumbent Francee Fuller will then be appointed to fill out the remainder of my School Board term (2015).

Emmaus Borough Council- Wes Barrett (D), Roy Anders (D), and Brent Labenberg (R) all win.

Monday, October 28, 2013

For the Children

Tonight, I'm officially tendering my resignation from the East Penn School Board.

For 20 years, the East Penn community has been divided by a conflict between community heritage and progress.

This has been manifested in School Board election after election featuring candidates who stood "for the taxpayers" and candidates who stood "for the Children". Often "for the Children" candidates were/are little more than useful tools for the East Penn Education Association/Teacher's Union.

Those who have stood for the taxpayers, like me, have been relentlessly and maliciously demonized. That's ok. Politics is a bloodsport for nerds.

For now, I'll be bowing out of public life, spending time with my loved ones, and pursuing other endeavors. One day, I may re enter the political arena, but we'll see.

Let me just implore those currently sitting on the board, as well as those who will be seated after next week's election to finally pursue a middle way that will put an end to the war dividing the East Penn Community.

Join the 21st Century and webcast Board Meetings. John Donches has done an admirable community service by putting out videos of the meetings at his own expense but it is time for the East Penn School District to take responsibility and put out their own broadcasts of meetings.

Next year, put a referendum out that would include an adequate tax increase to decrease class sizes across the district to reasonable sizes. Elementary and middle school class sizes in particular are out of control. The entire East Penn School District should have this conversation as a community and ultimately, let the people decide. At any rate, any such tax increase will be far above and beyond what the state index would allow the board to do unilaterally. This has been long been the case and finally giving the public a vote on this contentious issue would remove it as something that could be demagogued in future elections.

Another referendum the community desperately needs is one that would allow the public to vote on increasing tax levels enough to eliminate "half-day" Wednesdays. This practice is hugely inconvenient to East Penn parents. It is a practice that the board could theoretically end by responsibly negotiating the next Union contract up in 2015, but since most of the Board owes the Union their seats, I remain skeptical that it will happen through negotiation.

For the children, for the future, and for the community, take these simple steps that will finally heal the bitter wounds of the past that run so deep through our School District. Continuing the status quo will only serve to further fracture and divide us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm Leaving It As I Found It. Take Over, It's Yours

For the last 6 years, I have fought to bring a taxpayer friendly majority to the East Penn School Board. Regardless of what happens in the election this November, I will have failed in that effort. In the past 20 years, East Penn residents have seen their community and way of life change dramatically. I do not believe it has been for the better. In another few years, long-time citizens of Emmaus will hardly recognize their home town.

Part of this change has come as a result of vehement and venomous elections for School Board and Borough Council during which those who claim to stand for community and justice play the dirtiest politics imaginable.

Since I was first elected to the School Board in 2007, a certain group of citizens have attempted to recall me (recall elections are not allowed in Pennsylvania), lied about my voting record, demanded my resignation, failed to defeat me in my 2011 re-election bid, and accused me of everything short of having sex with farm animals (for the record, I deny that too). I'm a big boy (all 6'1 and 240 lbs of me), I can take it. I can take the heat, slings, and arrows. As an elected official, I am fair game (for even those who play unfairly). That said, I am announcing my resignation as a member of the East Penn School Board of Directors, effective immediately.

It is one thing to attack me, it is quite another to attack those I love. Over the past few days, an online personality identifying herself only as "Anna Karina" has continued her cyber assault not only on me, but also on the woman who happens to be the love of my life.

When we first met five years ago, I made a calculated decision to pursue political goals rather than be with her, because she was a student at Emmaus High School at the time. Doing so was a mistake and it is not a mistake that I will repeat. Some day, I may regret not having those five years together.

Serving on the East Penn School Board has been everything from an honor to pure hell depending on the time. I enjoyed every minute of it.

In closing, let me just say...

Brother, you asked for it!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

10-14-2013 East Penn School Board of Directors Meeting Agenda and Planned Votes

1.) Call to Order; Pledge of Allegiance

2.) Requests to Address the Board- I'm sure there will be a few calls for my resignation or removal. Spoiler alert: I'm staying through the end of my term.

3.) Approval of Minutes- I plan to vote in favor of this item.

4.) Report of the Superintendent
   1.) District Update
   2.) Personnel- I plan to vote in favor of this item.

5.) Other educational entities

6.) Legislative

7.) Business Operations
   1.) Approval of Bill List- I plan to vote in favor of this item
   2.) Treasurer's Report- I plan to vote in favor of this item
   3.)  Investment of Funds- I tentatively plan to vote in favor of this item.
   4.) Facility Rentals- I plan to vote in favor of this item.
   5.) Budget Transfers- I tentatively plan to vote in favor of this item
   6.) Disbursement of Funds- I plan to vote in favor of this item

8.) Announcements

9.) Adjourn!

Men Struggle With Eating Disorders Too

As Firefly's captain Malcolm Reynolds once said, "I'm feeling kinda truthsome". I have thought about writing this post for some time and now that I'm on the verge of becoming a minor local media "sensation" again, I thought I would use the attention I'm going to receive for a positive purpose.

I am an American male who has struggled with bulimia.

I have always been on the chunky side. I'm 6'1 and 240lbs and, at the moment, wear a size 40 pants.

Back when I was in grade school, and eventually high school, I was made fun of for my size "Julian's got fattitude" is one quote that stands out in my mind. Today, my political opponents sometimes use my looks as a way to attack me.

Between the ages of 12 and 17, I would occasionally make myself throw up after eating, but it didn't become ritual until my senior year of high school. While getting ready for school one morning, my step-mother remarked on how fat I was getting (I wore a size 36 back then and they were snug). I'm sure she didn't say it in a mean-spirited manner but even still, it was the catalyst that made it click in my head to start habitually throwing up after I ate in order to lose weight. It worked. It worked a little too well. I walked to and from school every day during the week (2 miles round trip) and I was losing a pound a day. I went from 225 lbs to about 175 before I plateaued. I wanted to be 165 lbs because I had read that was a healthy weight for my age and size.

Since I plateaued, I have slowly put weight back on, and then some. Starting early in my senior year in High School, I threw up after most meals. In college, I even had friends who were bulimic and while many students were binging on alcohol, we went on binge/purge food runs. Then, in early 2011, I threw up blood. Not a few streaks. Blood.

One of my biggest fears has always been being committed to a psych ward. As a result, I did not seek medical attention, but it was enough to scare me straight. I have not thrown up intentionally after eating since then, but I still deal with the effects every single day.

Raw vegetables, among other foods, cause me horrible indigestion and acid overproduction. I have ulcers so bad it sometimes feels like I'm having a heart attack. My metabolism is pretty much shot to hell. I hit 255lbs last year and have managed to get back down to 240 with some work and care with regards to my diet.

Fortunately, I'm lucky enough to have a girlfriend who is helping me get my digestion and body back into balance. She comes from a family that eats macrobiotic and has provided me with pickled plum paste or "umeboshi" as well as alkalizing pills. Drinking lots of oolong tea has helped me as well.

I'm relatively lucky. Some people who engage in eating disorders end up much worse off. I'm also lucky I was able to stop. For my part, I do not believe bulimia is a mental disorder, but a result of societal conditioning. Pop culture, television, school, and even parents teach that to be attractive, you need to be skinny. Abercrombie and Fitch has even said they don't want unattractive people wearing their clothing. People will go to extremes to try to feel accepted and fit in.

Frequently, eating disorders are portrayed as female-only problems. While they may predominantly occur in young women, they are on the rise with males.

You can help fight eating disorders in your every day life. Stop judging people for their weight. Remind people they're beautiful, or attractive. Surprisingly many people who are, refuse to accept that they are because they have felt pressure to fit a societal norm.

Last night, my girlfriend sent me this cartoon and said that she wished it would be seen in every school. I agree.

Everything You've Never Wanted to Know About My Personal Life But "Anna" Felt the Need to Talk About Anyway

I attract a special breed of crazy. Since the debacle regarding my comments on Twitter back in March, someone calling herself "Anna Karina" has stalked my every post online, going back more than half a decade. I don't know who the individual is. What I DO know is it is someone I went to High School with. If you think I'm insufferable, pompous, and obnoxious now, you should have seen me back then... She commented on another blog that I was weird enough at age 17 "wander around singing". Sometimes the monsters in our lives are of our own making. "Anna Karina" is certainly one of mine. "Anna" has stalked me at my place of employment, taken my picture, accused me of being a drunk, mentally ill (specifically "bipolar"), and corruption. I have periodically considered retaining an attorney, filing a subpoena (I know someone who knows who "she" really is) and suing her.

A little over a month and a half ago, a former girlfriend, Amanda Hein, made headlines by giving birth to a child in the bathroom of Starters Pub in Saucon Valley and killing him. I did not publicly comment on the incident which "Anna" apparently thought was suspicious enough to warrant going through Amanda's Facebook pictures where she found one of us together at a fundraiser to pay the hospital bills for her step mother. I'll go into my perspective on Amanda Hein another time. I'll say this for now, she is not evil. She needs help. I hope, in her case, the justice system works correctly for once.

Right around the same time, Anna and her online accomplice, Kevin Chang, made contact with another former girlfriend. I will not mention her name here, though she has certainly brought herself into this. Either directly from her or through a google search using her name, they found my old account at Teenspot.com which included a photo of me shirtless. Why I ever thought a shirtless picture was a good idea, I'm not sure (ew!) I had a Teenspot.com account since 2005 or 2006 (I was 17 or 18) and I freely admit the account was "active" as late as last year (I was 24). When I became aware that it was about to be used against me, I went back and deleted the account.

I didn't hit the delete button quite fast enough. "Anna" grabbed a few screenshots. Her own screenshots show the account has not been active in over a year now. I said via another online forum, if she had evidence of criminal activity (there was none), she should report it to the police. That was a month and a half ago. "Anna" hates me with such a burning ferocity that, if I had done anything criminal, I'd be in handcuffs by now.

While it is named "Teenspot.com" there are lots of 20-somethings on the site. I did periodically talk to people under the age of 18, which Anna has dug up as well. The last time I had a relationship of any sort with someone from Teenspot was a date in late 2011 with a girl who was 19 or 20. She was good company but it didn't make seeing the third Twilight movie any more bearable.

The individual who led "Anna" to Teenspot is an ex-girlfriend whom I first began talking to when I was 20 and she was 16. We dated from 2009 through early 2011 when I finally broke up with her. She moved from Texas to the Lehigh Valley to go to College (DeSales University, where I dropped out in 2008). She attended Tea Party meetings with me, went to my school board meetings, and even ran for and won a term on the Republican County Committee. At almost no point in the relationship was I faithful. I loved her very much, but I was not in love with her. I should have ended it long before I did, but I was afraid of hurting her. In the process, I believe I hurt her more than if I had been honest earlier on. Then again, if she had not moved to the Lehigh Valley, she never would have met her fiance. She is still feeling jilted, and I understand that.  Unfortunately, she is sending my former fiancee harassing anonymous text messages. I cannot prove it is her, but I know it is. The timing is too precise. The texts began back in 2011 when I broke up with her. They resurfaced at the same time "Anna" discovered my Teenspot account and again today when she fed "Anna" a conversation that I had with my current girlfriend back in 2009.

I first met my girlfriend, Sahrin Holderman, back in 2008 at an end-of-school-term party held by some mutual friends (the sort of party where there's cake and singing, not alcohol and drunken sex). I remember the moment we met perfectly. I walked into the room and she was curled up on the lap of one of our friends. We made eye contact. If there is such thing as love at first sight, that was it. We became friends on Facebook and, a few days later, met at "True Blue" where I bought her a cup of coffee. We sat, talked, and I walked her home. This was the start of a four month relationship (I was 20). Her mother knew of our relationship, my age, and position and I received her approval. We eventually broke up because, among other things, she was an Emmaus High School student and I, of course, a sitting school board director. I've been regaled with many a tale of teachers bashing me in class in front of students. Now they know that I know. So much for "educating". At any rate, the relationship never became sexual in nature.

I never stopped loving her. In May of this year, I found out the feeling was mutual. I've never been happier. I don't need or want anyone else.

There are other people I met on Teenspot that I still talk to from time to time. All are now in their 20's. I should never have maintained my account there as long as I did, but even my attackers acknowledge it has not been active in over a year and they have no evidence of criminal behavior. For a time, logging on became as much a force of habit as Facebook...and I had a Teenspot account before I had Facebook.

For my opponents, this is not about the fact that I had the account, this is about the election this November. They sat on their "evidence" for a month and a half and waited til now to unveil it. Failed State House candidate and Citizens-for-Strong-Communities front-man Patrick Slattery included "Anna's" hate-blog posts in an email to his supporters today to attack candidates running for School Board. For the dozenth time at least, Patrick, I am NOT part of any campaign for East Penn School Board this year. I'd like to remind you that I supported Slattery-endorsed Rebecca Heid back in 2009. Shouldn't she be forever tarred and feathered with my name as well? No, of course not, she votes with the board majority.

I expect there will be some calling for my resignation at Monday night's board meeting. I'm not going to resign. One of them, a Ms. Jessica Hughes, followed me on Twitter last night. I thanked her for the follow and the resulting conversation is as follows:

Jessica Hughes- I'm following you b/c I think you're disgusting and as a parent of a child in the EPSD I plan on attending the next school board mtg

Jessica Hughes- And fighting for you removal of office

Jessica Hughes-  So your (sic) welcome

Me-  I cannot help but wonder why that merits a follow? At any rate, full "Teenspot" disclosure will be posted on my blog tomorrow evening.

Jessica Hughes-  How about you referring to public education as "brain rotting" and students such as my son as "crotch fruit"

Jessica Hughes-  Since you believe this isn't really isn't "anything that matters" why don't you do parents that care a favor and make your "fake tweet

Jessica Hughes-  reaignation" (sic) a reality.

Jessica Hughes- You are immature and have no clue how hard being a parent is. I don't want an ignorant selfish twerp like yourself having any influence

Jessica Hughes- over my boys education. You are a disgrace and have a lot of growing up to do before you choose to run for anything that matters

Jessica Hughes- It merits a follow because I was interested in other potential inappropriate tweets/postings you made that I would be able to use to plead

Jessica Hughes-  my case in demanding your immediate removal

Me- I'll have a copy of your comments to read after your statement to the board on Monday. My tweets are open to the public, not just followers. (I will not be reading her comments tomorrow night. Posting them here will suffice)

Jessica Hughes- No worries I will let the entire room know about this conversation myself. Being a member of a school board is a privlage (sic) one you have so

Jessica Hughes- admimantly (sic) proven time after time that you no longer deserve. My son and every other child in the East Pemm (sic) SD deserves better
I'm not posting her words to try to bully or intimidate her or prevent her from speaking, merely using her to show how unhinged my opponents are. Their problem is with my politics. That is all this is about.

Let it be known that this will be my last term as a member of the East Penn School Board. My Raison d'ĂȘtre has been to stay on long enough to become part of a board that would responsibly negotiate a contract with the Teachers and force a contract that would be more friendly to Taxpayers than to the Union. Come 2015 when both the Union contract and my term are up, there will not be a majority on the board with the spine to stand up to the Union, let them strike, and show who's really "For the Children". The results of the election this November are irrelevant. Two terms is enough. It's important to me that I not be sitting on the board when I'm 30.

When I came home from work today, my darling girlfriend wrapped her arms around me, hugged me tight, and said "why can't they just leave you alone?" I replied "because I stand for something, loudly and proudly." I will continue to do so. I will not resign. I'm eccentric, opinionated, a curmudgeonly sonofabitch, and sometimes, just plain weird. That makes people uncomfortable. Good. I like afflicting the comfortable. Especially Unions.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

9-23-2013 East Penn School Board Agenda and Planned Votes

1.) Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance

2.) Requests to Address the Board

3.) Approval of Minutes

4.) Report of the Superintendent of Schools
   1.) District Update
   2.) Personnel- I tentatively plan to vote in favor of this item. I have a few questions.
   3.) Contract for Consultation Services
Resolved that the East Penn School Board of Directors approve the Contract for Consultation Services for Dr. Rebecca Woodland, University of Massachusetts, Amherst for services and activities as indicated in Exhibit 6 for a cost not to exceed $55,440.- I will absolutely oppose this item.

5.) Legislative
PSBA 2014 Slate of Candidates- I will be abstaining on this item. I will maintain my practice of abstaining on all votes involving the Pennsylvania School Board Association as I do not feel they have the best interest of the taxpayers at heart.

6.) Policy- Board Policy 903, Public Participation at Board Meetings: Informational

7.) Business Operations-
   1.) Approval of Bill List- I plan to vote in favor of this item
   2.) Parent/Guardian Transportation Contract- I will vote in favor of this item.

8.) Announcements

9.) Adjourn!