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Lies, Distortions and Propaganda

Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

Enough! Enough is enough!

If you were unlucky enough to attend the August 30 Lower Saucon Township council meeting that began at 9 AM (although it really didn’t – they were late) and stayed through the end at roughly 3:35/3:40 PM you know exactly what we had enough of that day. So many lies, so much distortion and obfuscation, so much spinning, that you probably, like me, felt the need to go home and take a shower and wash off the filth that was spewed at you.

I’ve been sitting through these circus acts for well over 3 years now and it not only doesn’t get better, it gets exponentially worse with each iteration. The August 30 act scraped bottom. At least I hope it did.

The main purpose of the meeting, which was a specially scheduled meeting not a regular council meeting, was to hold a hearing on the proposed zoning changes that would turn the Rural Agricultural zoning of properties adjacent to the Bethlehem Landfill’s dump to Light Industrial and allow a dump as a permitted use by right. This was necessary because the previous rezoning of this land had been thrown out by the Court for eight specific procedural mistakes that were made in rezoning it. I guess you get the quality of work that you pay for.

This new zoning removes any of the restrictions that a Special Exception or a Conditional Use designation would have placed on the land. The basic read on this kind of zoning is – you want to put a dump here? Go for it. The meeting agenda also included consideration and ultimate passage of new conservation easements, consideration and ultimate passage of a new Host Agreement, and consideration and ultimate approval of a committee to discuss a library for Lower Saucon Township (stop laughing out there – I hear you). What the agenda did not include but to which we were forced to listen was a lecture on “Facts vs. Speculation” by Banonis and Carocci’s usual blurting out of whatever wanders through his little brain, especially rude and obnoxious comments focused at Mrs. DeLeon.

The meeting began at 9:08. There was 1 hour and 40 minutes of public comment on agenda items followed by about 3 hours of hearing time. After that came consideration of the rest of the agenda which finally wrapped up sometime after 3:30 PM. There was so much camel dung presented at this meeting that it would be unreasonable to try to cover it in one issue of Saucon Shenanigans, so I will be spreading the dung out over a number of issues so that this can all be addressed in detail. In future issues you can expect discussion of:

  • Why Banonis’s Facts Aren’t Facts
  • The Odd Coincidence of a New Local Online “Paper” Popping Up To Share Banonis’s Non-fact Facts – And Who’s Behind It
  • More Lies About the Library and the History of How We Got Here
  • The Serious Problems with that New Host Agreement
  • Why Those Conservation Easements Are a Terrible Trade-Off
  • What Banonis Doesn’t Know About the History of Lower Saucon Township
  • Why That Property Value Program Probably Won’t Ever Deliver a Penny
  • Why We’re Lucky Banonis Doesn’t Handle the Finances for the Township
  • What Inglis Doesn’t Know About Libraries is Laughable
  • Excuses for Why a 9 AM Meeting Was Justifiable

And I’m sure there will be quite a bit more. I’ll try to break it all down into digestible morsels because no one wants to have to eat large amounts of shit in one sitting.

Doxxing

But what I want to start with in this first issue is something so egregious I never expected to see it practiced by a public official in public and that is “doxxing.” If you’re not familiar with the term, here’s a definition – the act of revealing identifying information about someone online, such as their real name, home address, workplace, phone, financial, and other personal information. That information is then circulated to the public — without the victim’s permission. Here are some examples:

  • Posting an individual’s phone number or address on the internet.
  • Encouraging others to use released information to harass an individual.

Now to be clear, we’re talking about information about private citizens, not about public officials who by virtue of their running for public office have had to provide that information in public documents and forums. Rather these are people like you and me and our neighbors who have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Almost at the end of the meeting, at about the 6:17:49 mark, Banonis starts an “explanation” of the fact that budget season is soon upon us and that there is currently a lawsuit working its way through the Northampton County Court system that, if it should be successful, would mean that the township would need to figure out how to replace the $2.6 million that we get from the dump for the 2024 budget. Right on its face, this is a misstatement (I would call it a lie, but what do I know). The township has been running a budget surplus for about 4 years now so obviously we’re not using all of that $2.6 million that we get from the dump every year.

Second point, even if this lawsuit is successful, it will not cause the dump to shut down immediately. The dump will go right on doing dump things for at least 3-5 more years (as the dump people themselves have told us) especially with the recently approved Northern Expansion project. The lawsuit has nothing to do with current dump operations or the already approved expansion on current dump property. Certainly it won’t have any effect on the 2024 budget. So that’s baloney.

But Banonis wants you to believe the lawsuit will have an impact so he wants you to know who those “selfish” (his word) residents are who have filed this lawsuit. And here’s where the doxxing comes in. He thereupon proceeds to read out the names AND addresses of the four families that have filed the lawsuit as well as their lawyer and his address, phone and email. Since the meeting is taped and posted on YouTube, Banonis has effectively posted that personal information on the Internet.

But wait, there’s more. Banonis then says that we should speak to these people (and he repeats their names) about what we can do to “stay proactive in managing township affairs”, whatever the hell that means. But it gets better. Carocci then chimes in at about 6:23:26 and claims that “8 selfish residents” – a phrase he repeats 3 times – out of almost 12,000 residents in the township (wrong – there are 11,094 residents as of the 2020 census) are trying to cost the township between $70 and 80 million over the next 18 years, money we’ll need for police, and fire and blah, blah, blah, blah. That sure sounds like the kind of dog-whistled threat that we’ve been hearing in various legal venues around the country lately. Just these 8 people are going to cause all of this. This is doxxing, big time, and it is first of all based on false assumptions and second of all completely out of place coming out of the mouths of elected public officials.

So since they are elected public officials and have no expectation of privacy on this matter, here is where you can find our township council members so that you can discuss with them what they can do to “stay proactive in managing township affairs.” I’m sure they’ll be delighted to talk with you, especially since they don’t listen to you at Council meetings.

Jason Banonis, 1802 Meadow Ridge Court, Bethlehem 18015

Tom Carocci, 2063 Pheasant Court, Bethlehem, 18015

Sandy Yerger, 2734 Easton Road, Hellertown, 18055

Mark Inglis, 1996 Sunderland Dr., Bethlehem, 18015

Oh, did I forget Mrs. DeLeon? Well, luckily she never forgets about you.

Stay tuned for more lies, distortion, and propaganda!

Coming Soon: What We’ve Lost – A Series

Join us in coming weeks for a new series covering what we’ve lost in Lower Saucon Township since the current regime has been in place. I know many of us are focused on the dump these days, but in the more than 3 years that I’ve been sharing Lower Saucon’s shenanigans, I’ve watched us lose far more than just that. Between now and Election Day, I’ll be reviewing what those things have been and who’s been responsible for them.

Not only will I be reminding you of the material things we’ve lost – like the library and the compost center and easy access to the pool – but I’ll also look at values that seem to have been misplaced like transparency, honesty, credibility, respect for residents, First Amendment rights, community, environmental justice, the respect of other communities, partnership with neighboring communities, and others.

Some of these things we can get back quickly; some will take longer and require a restoration of trust; some are lost permanently I suspect. But on Election Day, we can make a start. More on how and why will be coming.


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