Feud Grows Between Reading Mayor and Newspaper

There’s an old saying in politics:  never get into an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel.  Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer has engaged The Reading Eagle and this the newspaper struck back with a headline story about the Berks County Elections Board investigating his campaign finances.  The story is bogus is because I investigated this (and had the story last August 21st) and found nothing improper or illegal in Spencer’s actions.

Berks County Commissioner launched the probe as a personal vendetta wasting thousands of taxpayer funds (that’s the real story) trying to go after Philadelphia union boss Johnny Dougherty.  The IBEW local gave Spencer’s campaign $30,000.  They used ten grand of it for election day activities (get out the vote operations) and then handed ten thousand each to two Philadelphia City Council candidates.  Philadelphia rules cap such contributions at $10,000.

Candidates always spread money around to each other and through other entities.  Scott himself gave the Pennsylvania Republican Party a ton of cash which they used to post direct mail pieces on his behalf.  Mark Scott and their ilk do so so negative attack ads don’t have their own names on them.  If what Spencer did was “money laundering” then so did Scott.  The problem is there’s no law against it.

Yesterday I published a response from Mayor Spencer’s office attacking The Reading Eagle for its failure to disclose an obvious conflict of interest.  Let me do an aside right now that I take no sides in this conflict I’m simply reporting what is happening.  Reading City Councilwoman Donna Reed is Vaughn Spencer’s chief political foe.  Her husband is the direct supervisor of the reporter covering City Hall.  The Eagle has never disclosed this conflict when reporting on the mayor.  The newspaper has run many negative stories about him (and he’s given them enough to write about) done by Don Spatz without ever disclosing he reports directly to Reed’s husband.  Today’s headline story is again written by Spatz with no disclosure.  It is an obvious response to the Mayor charging them with ethical violations.

Tit for tat and guess who’s going to lose?  Hint:  it won’t be the guy who buys ink by the barrel.

Reading Passes LGBT Non Discrimination Ordinance

Reading City Council passed a new LGBT inclusive non discrimination ordinance by a vote of 6-1 this evening.  It protects gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders from bigotry based on gender identity or expression.  Voting for the bill were sponsor Maria Baez, Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz, Councilmen Dennis Sterner, Jeff Waltman, Stratton Marmarou and Council President Vaughn Spencer.  Only reactionary Republican Councilman Steve Fuhs spoke and voted against the community.

Fuhs always speaks from ignorance on these issues. Tonight he claimed, repeatedly, that sexual orientation is a choice.  I’ve never met any LGBT person who chose their orientation.  I know I didn’t and I challenge Mr. Fuhs to tell me he consciously chose his to be a heterosexual.  Choices are very different, perhaps such as choosing to ignore Pennsylvania campaign finance law or choosing to misquote statistics on universal health care in Canada.

We thank the six Council members and Mayor Tom McMahon for their support of our community on this important issue.  Reading becomes the 16th community in Pennsylvania to add non discrimination protection to our community.  Now it is up to the state legislature to protect ALL Pennsylvanians from housing, employment and public accommodations discrimination.  None of us are free until all of us are free.