Friday, April 30, 2010

Allentown Ethics Board probes blogger, Cedar Crest College "ethics" professor, Allentown City Council VP (for now) Michael Donovan


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[LVS readers, here's our re-directed (and signed) Request & Complaint to the Board of Ethics of the City of Allentown, regarding the outrageous ethical transgressions perpetrated against us by recently tenured Cedar Crest College Ethics Professor Michael Donovan, Vice President, Allentown City Council.]

REQUEST FOR BINDING WRITTEN ADVISORY OPINION AND APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION

171.10 BOARD OF ETHICS

A. Insofar as possible under state law, the Mayor shall authorize the Board to issue binding opinions, conduct investigations on its own initiative and on referral or complaint, refer cases for prosecution, impose administrative fines, and to consult with independent counsel.

E. The Board shall also render written advisory opinions in circumstances where there is alleged to be a conflict of interest or unethical conduct on the part of any official or employee of the City within the scope of the Code of Ethics.

G. The Board shall acknowledge the receipt of a request in writing to the person submitting the request.

K. Within thirty (30) days after a request for an opinion or within thirty (30) days after a hearing on any request shall have been concluded, whichever is later, the Board shall render its opinion in writing.

L. If the request for an opinion involves an employee or official and the request is made by a person other than the employee or official, then after an opinion has been reached, the Board shall in the case of the appointed official or employee notify the Mayor and the appointing authority of the official or employee involved of its decision. The appointing authority shall take whatever action is deemed necessary and shall report the action to the Board within fifteen (15) days after receiving the decision of the Board. If the majority decision of the Board that the action taken is not satisfactory then the Board shall so notify the Mayor and all members of Council. In the case of an elected official, the Board shall notify the Mayor and all members of Council.

171.11 INITIATIVE OF VIOLATOR FOR REMEDIAL ACTION
Violation of any provision of this Code of Ethics should raise conscientious questions for a councilperson or other official or employee concerned as to whether voluntary resignation or other action is indicated to promote the best interests of the City.

171.99 PENALTIES
The doing of any act prohibited, or the failure to do any act required, by the Code of Ethics or rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action, and any City official or employee subject to the Mayor’s jurisdiction who violates the Code of Ethics shall be disciplined in the manner provided by law and administrative policy. Any elected City official or employee or one subject to the City Council’s jurisdiction who violates a material provision of the Code of Ethics shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including removal from office in the manner provided by law.

TO: ALLENTOWN ETHICS BOARD
Rev. Dr. Grant Harrity, Hugh J. Gallagher, Martin Velazquez III, Jackson J. Eaton, The Rev. Canon Maria Tjeltveit, cc: Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Allentown City Clerk Mike Hanlon

ELECTED OFFICIAL INVOLVED: W. Michael Donovan, Allentown City Council Vice President, Allentown Arts Commission, AEDC, Allentown Parking Authority

ALLEGED VIOLATION
171.04 USE OF POSITION OR PRESTIGE FOR PERSONAL BENEFIT
No official or employee shall use, nor allow others to use, the authority, title or prestige of public office for the attainment of private financial, social or political benefits in any manner that is inconsistent with public interests.

COMPLAINT

* W. Michael Donovan authors and hosts a political blog on the Internet ironically titled, "Inclusion by Michael Donovan."

* Starting in September 2009, blogger Donovan began to allow and publish comments at his blog of a highly derogatory nature, directed at claimant Bill Villa, and his wife Angie Villa (Note: Angie Villa, co-founder of the Allentown Chen Arts Group, will be accepting the Allentown Arts Commission's "Arts Ovation Award" in May 2010 on behalf of the Allentown Chen Arts Group).

* In March 2010, blogger Donovan "upped the ante" of the provocation at his blog and started publishing comments about the Villas on the Internet that are offensive, sadistically cruel, false, and clearly libelous. Several comments invite readers of Donovan's blog to believe that Bill Villa engages in necrophilia with his deceased daughter. Other comments published by blogger Donovan falsely and libelously claim that Bill Villa is a “convicted criminal” who has made “terroristic threats against the Lehigh County District Attorney” and has “threatened to kill” employees of The Morning Call newspaper. In a series of comments, readers of Donovan's blog are encouraged to petition Mayfair and Mayfair sponsors and demand that The Villas original music band be removed from the Mayfair 2010 roster of scheduled performers. Readers are also instructed in ways to disrupt The Villa’s musical performance, at Allentown Arts Commissioner Michael Donovan’s blog.

* Among the hundreds of derogatory, cruel, and libelous blog comments being directed against Bill Villa and Angie Villa and being allowed by blog host Donovan is a comment signed by Michael Donovan stating that he is "letting all comments run" because they are "fun to read."

* Many of these outrageous blog comments (all visible worldwide via the Internet) are signed by two local bloggers-- one of who is [Redacted] ...

* By publicly allying with these rogue bloggers, Donovan stands to "attain social and political benefits," via publicity, of both a political and personal nature from these rogue bloggers at their local political blogs.

* Donovan also stands to gain "social and political benefits" from The Morning Call newspaper, where Donovan and several of these rogue bloggers are handpicked members of "Valley Blogosphere," a cooperative "community" of local bloggers who are featured, promoted, and linked to, on The Morning Call’s website. "Valley Blogosphere" exposes The Morning Call's handpicked community of bloggers and their blog writings, including Michael Donovan's anti-Villas attacks, to the newspapers' self-touted “10 million monthly online visitors.”

* “Inconsistent with the public interests” here is that elected official Donovan’s blatant public partisanship in favor of these rogue bloggers is 180 degrees from what Donovan’s public position should be, and that is, one of neutrality and impartiality-- especially when considering that a jury needs to be selected from among residents of Lehigh County for Bill Villa's litigation against the rogue blogger Donovan has publicly allied with.

* And finally, re: “nor allow others to use, the authority, title or prestige of public office for the attainment of … social or political benefits,” W. Michael Donovan’s inappropriately public, approving, and enabling Internet interactions with these rogue bloggers has the effect of giving them credibility (via their “approved affiliation” with an elected City official), a credibility that could not be farther from being deserved.

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE SUBMITTED

* 13 pages of offensive, provocative, sadistically cruel, and libelous comments allowed and published by Michael Donovan, extracted from eight (8) relevant Donovan blog posts and listed sequentially by date of occurrence.

* Hard copy printouts of the eight (8) relevant Donovan blog posts, including all the comments in context and in their entirety.

* Several recent examples of Donovan “attaining social and political benefit” via political and personal publicity from one of the reciprocating rogue bloggers at his Morning Call-affiliated political blog.

* Digital links to the relevant Internet blog posts (accessible via the emailed version of the hard copy) for easier handling.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of my REQUEST FOR A BINDING WRITTEN ADVISORY OPINION AND APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION, re: Michael Donovan.

Respectfully Submitted,

Bill Villa
April 30, 2010