Morning Call Op-Ed: It’s Time for Reform

May 16, 2017
I am writing in regard to the May 2 Bethlehem City Council meeting. Councilman Shawn Martell’s state ethics teaching ordinance was fast-tracked and adopted instead of working on council members Olga Negron and Michael Colon’s comprehensive ethics ordinance, which was introduced in February, with a public information meeting in March.

Their ethics ordinance, endorsed by Pennsylvania League of Women Voters as a model for municipal ethics reform, is necessary for transparent local government. It states that council members who have taken significant amounts of money from developers and other parties with financial interests in the project, must recuse themselves from voting on that project.

If there was any question that the majority of the council does not want this ordinance to be enacted, it is evidenced in Councilman Bryan Callahan’s outrageous request last council meeting to Negron for the names of the Bethlehem citizens who helped draft the ordinance. Why in the world would he ask for that list? Not to say thanks.

It’s time for comprehensive ethics reform that eliminates pay-to-play in Bethlehem. It’s time for Bethlehem City Council to start listening to the will of the citizens, not the developers. It’s time for reform.

Paige Van Wirt

The Morning Call, May 16, 2017