Saturday, April 13, 2013

You Are Not Jeanette Reibman

A debate was taped the other night for the 3 Democrats running for Northampton County Executive, the debate will air on WFMZ 69 on Monday night.

According to the report in yesterdays newspaper Glenn Reibman is taking credit for all the good things that have happened to Bethlehem.  Our Mayor John Callahan (also a candidate for County Executive) had nothing to to with it, he was just lucky to be in office when these good things happened.  Glenn Reibman as Northampton County Executive made these things happen.


John Callahan was elected Mayor of Bethlehem 10 years ago.

Glenn Reibman was thrown out of office in the primary 8 years ago.  The voters in his own party were so disgusted by his time in office that they said enough! 

But, according to Glenn Reibman he is responsible for Bethlehem's successes.  I guess it all happened in the two yeas he was County Executive & John Callahan was Mayor. Callahan had nothing to do with this - it is all Glenn Reibman.

Let me note here that John Callahan has always acknowledged that the support of the county and the hard work done by the Mayors before him.  He has never taken credit for the city successes alone but you cannot deny that his leadership enabled them.

But, according to Glenn Reibman the two years he was in office during the beginning of the Callahan era in Bethlehem are the reason Bethlehem is successful.

On another issue Glenn Reibman during a forum broadcast on local NPR this week inferred that he was the political heir to his aunt the late State Senator Jeanette Reibman.  Sen. Reibman is one of the best people I will ever know. She is a woman who transformed this Commonwealth.  She was a public servant  untouched by scandal and admired by even her opponents.  Senator Reibman was my friend, she is my hero and she is someone whose memory I am determined to keep and share.  Glenn Reibman benefited from the last name his aunt made great, but once in office himself....The voters of the Democratic Party, her party said enough.

Why would we want to return Glenn Reibman to the office we threw him out of 8 years ago.


  1. I am not a Glenn Reibman fan, but when 3 candidates run it gets very interesting. The votes will get split and mark my words; Reibman will finish in 2nd place. I am just unsure who he will beat out.

    1. Thanks for commenting
      The key will be turn out - if Callahan can get big numbers out of Bethlehem he should win with ease. Bethlehem does not normally have a big primary turnout but with a hotly contested race for mayor we may see higher numbers.

  2. I do not agree. Jeanette Reibman believed that government could work to better our lives. She had very progressive views about how government should improve education. She sponsored much legislation that changed how education works in Pennsylvania. Glenn is no different. He believed that government could work to better our lives. He believed in expanding county services and also believed in involving government directly in economic development. Those beliefs resulted in tax increases and higher debt for the county. Those factors contributed to his defeat in the past election. If his aunt had continued in office to this date, I believed that she would have equally found difficulty in defending legislation that increased school construction and strengthened teacher unions. Both factors have contributed to higher costs in education. That does not mean that I disagree with her efforts or the efforts of Glenn Reibman. When Glenn was defeated there was a marked and radical turn away from the type of county that he represented. Not only was he defeated but a entirely Republican council was elected in the following fall election. In the current primary these attitudes are represented again. McClure has demonstrated an obvious desire to hold county taxes and to check the growth of county services. That attitude is diametrically opposed to Reibman's desire to expand the government center and expand county services. That is the election and is the center of the county issue. How Callahan fits in all this, I don't know? He has not exposed his attitudes on these issues as of yet. That may not make him a player in the final vote. Reibman was a student of county government, served on council and has well established views on these issues. McClure has a similar record as well. One has to remember that county government grew out of movements to regionalize the Lehigh Valley. County charter studies in both counties changed the management of county government and elevated the cost. Both counties have seen a thermidor reaction and a reluctance to expand county services. I would think that such thinking advantages McClure in the election. Reibman has his following, but obviously not a majority. Then there is Callahan who probably is a spoiler. His lack of knowledge and his non commitment to county government is a negative and will not serve him well. There is a voting public that participates in the county elections which does not participate in local or other contests. I do not think that Callahan attracts any of those voters. On the other hand, the Bethlehem mayoral race will have some spillover. Another point about Reibman: he suffered from the corruption of an associate. This factor did not impact him in his first re election campaign. The associate was well known in Democratic circles and was involved in many campaigns including Jeanetter Reibman. Most voters passed the incident off as unfortunate. Reibman's real problem is his concept of county government and what government should do. In that area he is very close to his aunt. There are those who would be satisfied with a return to commission government with elected row offices. We may be headed in that direction

    1. Thank you very much for commenting and doing so in such a thoughtful way. You have clearly considered this race. This is a lot to read and kind of rambling but I very much appreciate your taking the time to respond.

      I don't think Callahan is the spoiler and by most accounts he is leading the polling in the race and certainly has an enormous lead in fundraising.

      Are you saying that county elections attracts more voters or different voters than other elections. That factually just not true.
      Callahan popularity in Bethlehem is enormous and could carry the Mayors race for Reynolds and the enthusiasm for Reynolds will aid Callahan not to mention the Donchez votes Callahan will receive. Callahan appears to have considerable amount of support in the Easton area and he has worked very hard in the Slate Belt where I have seen a lot of his signs on not on public spaces and highway interchanges where the Reibman signs are but on peoples lawns and porches - People vote not highway intersections.

      What do you mean Callahan's non-commitment to county government?

      I speak to a lot of people all over the county and from types of circles in politics, business and the arts and no one thinks McClure has a chance except for you. I wish I knew who you were - but since you are polite and thoughtful I respect your desire to stay unknown

      I do not share your view of Glenn - I do not think he is in anyway a bad man but do compare him to his Aunt is a bit of a stretch.

      Glenn's problems were more than just Mike Solomon, there were the crony hires, his testy relationship with council, his lack of participation in supporting the county party in the years he was not running

      You have to really ask yourself why the voters of the Democratic Party rejected him and rejected him in a big way when he ran for re-election.

  3. Excuse my rambling thoughts. I did not want to write a doctoral thesis on this subject and tried to be brief but understandable. Just a few comments in response to your response.
    1. I believe that Glenn was coached by Jeanette. For example, his avoidance of playing to the county democratic committee would be a play from his aunt's playbook. Jeanette began her career in the Fifties. She was a woman, Jewish, and non native. An all male club attempted to keep her out of politics. They gerrymandered her out of her district-that's why she ran for the state senate. Every opportunity to cut her was made. When she collected money, she kept it. Why share it with an organization that wanted to eliminate her. Glenn followed this attitude when dealing with the county dem comm.
    2 I agree Glenn had problems in management beyond Solomon. But, I will contend that he was driven out of office by tax increases and huge debt. Again, the issue is one of big government vs. lesser or no government. When Ann McHale ran, she kicked off her campaign complaining that Stoffa did not follow the plans to expand the prison, gracedale, etc which were the hallmarks of the Reibman administration. She lost even by more votes than Reibman. In my opinion, she was glenn reibman in a skirt.
    3. The county democratic political organization has long been built around the county government. It operates to gain and hold control of county government. Patronage and appointments use to fuel this machine. Still do but to a lesser extent. Local municipal races draw their own interest and their own political organizations. When you start looking at county race voting, you see a large falloff in participants compared to local races. that fact always intrigued me because county races were always located first on the ballot before local races. That's why I believe that county races attract a voter different from local or presidential contests. That voter is more in tune to county issues.
    4. County executive voters in democratic primaries are low. 15% of total democratic registration. Reibman lost the primary to Stoffa by 500 votes. You have to examine that number in context of the whole-roughly 96,000 registered democrats in the county. Only 250 had to change their vote or 250 more voters had to show up to make a horse race. Thats .26 %-hardly nothing. I know the newspaper headlines said that Stoffa beat Reibman 52% to 48%. That's misleading. The race may be close and it's not because McClure has a chance. It's because next to nothing in votes can win this race. I understand your comment about the Bethlehem local race. Historically, those local races have not increased participation in county elections. But, there are and can be exceptions.
    5. Ann McHale was endorsed by the county dem committee because Stoffa had appointed many Republicans. McHale did not carry many wards in the county. So goes the power of political endorsements.
    6 In the end I still believe that this race is about big government vs little government. I give the edge to the little government. It does matter where Callahan stands on these issues. With such little voter participation in these races, your position is more important than your popularity or where you are from. As Callahan identifies himself on county issues so goes the race. Where perception puts him-big government or little government, the opposite candidate wins.

    1. Thanks again - Clearly you have thought long and hard about this and I admire that.
      Let me just say that I have known the Reibman family my entire life. I appeared in a campaign ad for the Senator when she ran for congress. I helped her interview potential campaign manager's in 1980. I helped design campaign materials for many of her campaigns. She named me a co-chair of a few of her campaigns. My family dog jumped up on her got paw prints on her white dress once. I know Jeanette Reibman better than most people. And, I am sorry my thoughtful friend Glenn is no Jeanette Reibman.

      But, again I thank you for this conversation. Politics is still very interesting and sometime unpredictable. We'll see what happens.

  4. Donald, Donald...such a gauze of nostalgia. Jeanette was indeed a pioneer in many respects. However u fail to recall several ethics questions regarding her involvement with Joe Reibman's incinerator; her complicity with party "walking around money" -essentially unreported cash disbursements- delivered to committee people; the ubiquitous presence of certain lobbyists napping in her Senate office-and i can go on and on. All politicians have shortcomings, its the "fans" who choose to ignore the reality that each politician advanced their personal interests and the public interest.

    Finally, you dismissal of the Reibman Administration's tenure 98-07 misses how it fundamentally changed for the better the course of the county. And yes, Glenn and his crew had many shortcomings all of which were shared by Messrs Hartzell, Brackbill and Seyfried. But like Nixon, glenn's folks were called out publicly.

    1. Anonymous, Anonymous......Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Perhaps my personal affection for Sen. Reibman and her husband and sons has given me rose colored history glasses but... As for the walking around money and a close relationship with lobbyist were how things were done when she was Senator - you can't judge history using current standards it was is was.

      Yes Glenn did change county govt. But then the two men he followed were hardly up for the job and the two before them were old school and not ready or really supporters of the new form of government

      I love how everyone who has defended Glenn to me either here or in person fully admit to his failings and yet want to return those failings back to the office his own party threw him out of. Why would we want to return to the mistakes of the past. And, clearly Glenn is not a changed man. I have been following the campaign