Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Allentown LGBT center grant falls through with 4-4 vote

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Local News

A $5,000 grant to the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center fell through at the June 13 Lehigh County Board of Commissioners meeting when one of the sponsors of the bill, Amy Zanelli, abstained from voting.

She then watched the votes split between the remaining eight commissioners, 4-4.

Zanelli commented on her abstention.

“I volunteer for, contribute to and benefit from the Bradbury-Sullivan Community Center,” Zanelli said. “I will abstain.”

Zanelli listed some of the benefits of the LGBT community center and described the Pride in the Park festival as a community growth event that provides services to the LGBT community.

The bill failed because, according to Solicitor Catherine Roseberry, at least five votes are required for a bill to pass.

Asked the next day by The Press if he planned to ask commissioners to put the matter back on the agenda for a future vote, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center Executive Director Adrian Shanker declined to comment.

He said this will be the 25th year for the pride event. It will be held Aug. 19 at Cedar Beach Park, Allentown.

A second quality-of-life grant on the agenda, a grant of $5,000 for the Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society, never came to a vote as county administrators withdrew the motion before the vote.

Director of Community and Economic Development Frank Kane said the administration wanted to review the grant policy that requires past financial information.

He said PMPS is a new organization without financial information to submit.

Kane said the administration may resubmit the grant request with an appropriate request for a waiver for a history of financial information for PMPS.

Based on an approval at a first reading, the name of the Cedarbrook Nursing Homes will be changed to Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation.

The bill is sponsored by Commissioners Dan Hartzell, Percy Dougherty, Marc Grammes and Zanelli and was expected to advance to a final vote at an upcoming meeting of the commissioners.

In other business, commissioners appointed two of their own — Brad Osborne and Geoff Brace — to work with the CEO of the Lehigh County Authority.

The two commissioners, referred to as a working team, will help with ensuring communication between commissioners and the LCA.

They are charged with monitoring and reporting back to the board on such matters as the sustainability of LCA’s financial plans, whether an independent financial study is needed and to recommend ways to improve communications.

According to Brace, a goal of the working team is to make a recommendation on the need to extend LCA’s charter.

The effort to extend LCA’s charter was defeated by commissioners a couple of months ago amid concerns about the financial information LCA officers provided commissioners.

Lehigh County resident Bob Elbich expressed concern that the county’s pay to play law has unclear language.

“It’s terrible,” Elbich said. “I could drive a Mack truck through parts of it.”

Elbich was protesting the recent decision by county legal officials to consider the withdrawn contribution to Nothstein’s campaign for Congress as being “cured,” or resolved with no further legal action contemplated.

Such actions by politicians, according to Elbich, lead to a lack of trust in public officials.

Grammes responded to Elbich.

“I have to rely on our solicitor’s advice,” Grammes said.

Elbich’s frustration did gain some traction with Zanelli, who put forward a motion that Nothstein be removed as president of the board of commissioners.

Zanelli’s motion received only silence from the other commissioners. As no second was offered to support her motion, no action was taken.