Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Easton City Councilman Charged with Drunk Driving

Posted by: Noel Jones

In an article in the Morning Call this morning, Christopher Baxter reports that City Councilman Jeff Warren, who heads up our Public Safety panel on council, has been charged with drunk driving related to a traffic stop in Hellertown back in January. Ironic, since one of Jeff Warren's planks while campaigning for office was tougher penalties for police officers who drink and drive. 

The article does not say why it has taken us nine months to hear about the arrest.

He was stopped for speeding. The officer that stopped him described him as having red, glassy eyes and smelling of liquor. When he was tested an hour and a half after the incident, his blood alcohol level was 0.18--twice the legal limit. He said he was going home after a night of drinking with friends.

Jeff Warren is also chief legislative aide to state Senator Lisa Boscola, and apparently was suspended for a week without pay by the senator's office at the time. Mayor Panto just told him to "come clean with it as soon as possible" and didn't think it made him a bad choice to continue heading up the Public Safety panel for our city.

The Morning Call's Valley 610 blog poll shows the public is split so far as to whether Warren should resign.

What do you think?


Bernie O'Hare said...

As an alcoholic, I would be the last person to condemn someone who who was stopped only once.

noel jones said...

Bernie, I hear you. But a few points worth considering:

1. we're not talking about your average joe resident, or even about judging those who battle the disease of alcoholism. we're talking about an elected official who has been appointed to lead our city on public safety issues.

2. the article mentions two "related" offenses--not sure if that means they were both DUI's or not.

3. when we elect people, ultimately what we're doing is saying, "i think this guy will exercise the best judgment when it's important to the public." i drink, my friends drink, so the concern is not that drinking is bad or even that getting drunk is bad. the difference between drinking and being a danger to society, as opposed to drinking for fun and not being a danger to anybody, is good judgment and willpower. everyone's judgment is impaired when they drink too much--the judgment call comes in earlier, when you haven't had too much yet, and yet can't resist having another, when you know you have to drive home. to go double the legal limit and then get behind a wheel demonstrates dangerously bad judgment.

4. further to the issue of good and bad judgment, he wasn't just driving while extremely drunk, but speeding--even more dangerous. i have a problem with the idea that someone whose judgment is that dangerous to the public would be in charge of leading us in public safety.

i drink a few times a week, but rarely to the point of getting drunk. on the rare occasion that i do, i have already foreseen the possibility and either walked to the fun, or arranged for a designated driver. but aside from having any forethought about it, people react different ways to finding that they are drunk. i'm rather jolly and obedient on those occasions, and if someone benevolent says, "i don't think you should drink anymore tonight," i tend to react with a sense of grateful surprise, as if they've just been nice enough to let me in on a secret. not everyone reacts that way--many react with a belligerent arrogance and become even more determined to drink more, and to prove that they can drive a car. these are dangerous people--they might be nice people, but they are nice people with dangerously bad judgment.

i have no problem with a recovering alcoholic being elected to public office, as long as they have demonstrated that they have mastered the disease to the point that they don't drink any more--i think such mastery is rather heroic, as i have never been up against an addiction, and have no idea how hard that fight must be. but i do not know yet whether our councilman has considered that he might have a drinking problem or whether he has given up drinking. hopefully he will consider it. when one gets to the point where he finds himself driving dangerously drunk and putting his career in jeopardy, it's time to start asking one's self the hard questions.

of course, as i understand it, Easton has a history of not taking the drinking problems of public officials seriously, considering that i have heard that our former mayor, Tom Goldsmith, is a notorious alcoholic (as in passing out publicly at bars) and somehow was made head of the liquor control board.

Anonymous said...

"Easton has a history of not taking the drinking problems of public officials seriously, considering that i have heard that our former mayor, Tom Goldsmith, is a notorious alcoholic (as in passing out publicly at bars)"

Easton also has a history of publishing a lot of nonsense like this starting with the Express-Times newspaper.

You are irresponsible for posting an "I have heard that . . ." But your track record shows that you engage in bashing public officials so this post is not surprising. Pathetic . . .

noel jones said...

Anon 6:45--"bashing"? Really? No one is responsible for a councilman drinking and driving and getting his arrest published in the media but the councilman himself. Why would you defend something so dangerous, and "bash" the people calling drunk driving dangerously irresponsible?

Anonymous said...

you were bashing former mayor tom goldsmith and you didn't even know him. You didn't even live in this city when he was mayor. you are listening to hearsay. You, as the author of this blog, shouldn't be "bashing" a former official on hearsay. As i recall Goldsmith doesn't have a DUI or does he suffer from alcoholism. He is a good man and yes you are "bashing" himo n hearsay.

Anonymous said...

also, where do you get off with "Easton has a history of not taking the drinking problems of public officials seriously'? Warren made a mistake, true, now name me one current or former Easton public official that drinks to excess. I personally know that this current administration not only disciplined but provided counceling for an employee who got a DUI. I also know of a police officer that was terminated for drinking early in this administration's term. Please stick to facts. Facts never destroy a person or a family.

noel jones said...

Anon 10:44--you said:

"Please stick to facts. Facts never destroy a person or a family."

Right you are--the facts are that Jeff Warren made the extreme bad judgment call to get drunk, get behind the wheel of a car, and SPEED. Jeff Warren has hurt himself, and if his family is hurt, that is his responsibility. This desire to defend him and to project blame on to reporters and bloggers is interesting...and inappropriate.

As for Tom Goldsmith, you're right, I have not met him, and it is hearsay--hearsay that I have heard from more people since moving to Easton than I can count on two hands. It's important to remember that bloggers are free to discuss anything they care to on the blogs they create. Bloggers and reporters are both members of the media, but they are not the same thing. Tom Goldsmith, as head of the LCB, is an official, in the public realm, and fair game. I did not say that he got a DUI, I said that many people have told me they have witnessed him passed out drunk at a bar, and if that is true, it is disturbing in a public official.

You say Tom Goldsmith is "a good man" so clearly you must be a friend to post so passionately about him. But no one on this blog has accused him of being a "bad" man--unless you think having a drinking problem makes some a bad person. If so that is your judgment.

There is a big difference between judging a human being as "good' or "bad" and thinking someone is a wise choice to lead residents in a public office.

Anonymous said...

You continue a great urban legend.

We should stick to Ozzy Osborn's biting off the head of a bat. It's funny and it does not hurt anyone. And, it never happened like passing out at a bar around town.

The problem with a small town is rumors get easily repeated and become facts. They remain just myths and legends. There's a giant fish that lives in the Delaware north of the Bushkill Street Bridge. It's a big as a whale! How do I know? I've heard about it from so many people that it just has to be true.

noel jones said...

Anon 11:19--you've made your point--you like Tom Goldsmith and don't want people to think he has a drinking problem. And you could be entirely right--each of those people over the years could have just been lying maliciously about him and you could be the one telling the truth.

This post is about Jeff Warren and his actual arrest for speeding while driving drunk, and whether or not he should still be leading our city's panel on Public Safety. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinions on that matter.

Anonymous said...

I am not defending anyone and your assumption about a friendship is without fact. I have lived here too long and know how innocent statements transform into harmful gossip. I've heard that rumor before along with dozens about current and past office holders. Lacking any facts as to time and place, I would never undermine my own credibility by repeating myths as you have done so well. The real truth does hurt.

Dennis R. Lieb said...

Anon@11:19 (aka Goldsmith defender),

I believe that there has been one factual error in that Tom Goldsmith is not running the PLCB; he is a lessor ranking official. I also applaud your loyalty to Tom Goldsmith and his reputation as a former mayor. But it would be wiser to have just let the comment lie. The more you contest the issue of fact or fiction over his drinking (and other bad behavior) the more you tempt people like me to set the record straight.

I have no desire to dredge up the past as far as Mr. Goldsmith's personal habits are concerned but let there be no doubt that I had a litany of personal experiences dealing with him during my early years of citizen activism. Some of them involved drinking and some just other boorish behaviors. I have also had stories related to me by very respected former members of city government about the behavior he exhibited towards them in his official capacity.

I won't harp on it further because he is gone from Easton and I'm glad of it. What I will say - and something that I've said before - is that he was the worst mayor in the history of Easton. I say this because during the three terms of his office this country had the only budget surplus in my lifetime, believed that cities were worth saving and provided programs (like Hope VI and others) that facilitated rehabilitation of places like Easton. In a cover letter for my West Ward redevelopment plan to the Weed and Seed program in 2000 I mentioned the fact the the window of opportunity for both the surplus and the urban mindset would close quickly if not taken advantage of.

At that time, Goldsmith among others didn't take any of it seriously and in fact bragged of not involving the city in many of the projects then being proposed. Of course, then came the dot-com collapse, Enron, 911 and here we are, a decade later, trying to dig out of the mortgage mess and keep our city's head above water.

Near the end of his last term, Goldsmith initiated Weed and Seed; not to serve the West Ward but to find an easy source of cash to bolster the police budget with overtime pay so that a contract battle and/or tax increase wouldn't be necessary. The by-product of that decision was having people like me begin to question the legitimacy of the program and the budget expenditures of the W&S administrators. When the heat got too high, Goldsmith sent me a letter in the mail informing me that I was being officially removed as a volunteer member of the TALL Team for what he called "disruptive behavior" and worse. The context of his claim must be understood as something coming from a person who never spoke to me personally or even knew what I looked like.

For this fact alone I can only ridicule the man's performance as a public official because - as I have also said before - ridicule is the price one must pay for being ridiculous.


Anonymous said...

For the last time, will you people understand that I am defending no one. The comment was made that a former mayor "is a notorious alcoholic (as in passing out publicly at bars)". That is a strong accusation and when I asked for times and locations, I am accused of being a defender and get a dance around of excuses for a lack of specifics. Either prove the statement or shut up! Oh, and don't tire me with your long trail of tears in your dealings with the former mayor. I really don't care. I am interested in the truth. The truth ended with "the more you tempt me to set the record straight". Either set it straight or stop the dirty implications. By the way I am Anon 1119 and 1230. The other anons are someone else. Again, the truth always wins. That may explain why you don't.

Anonymous said...

Sal Panto says:
I would like to address the issue of being able to say anyhting on a blog and not giving your name. As a result of Councilmember Warren's incident, one unnamed blogger on the Morning Call website gave a detailed description of me being totally drunk, going behind a bar, going into the cash register and throwing all the money in the air.

This incident was to have taken place the night before my election at the Godfather Lounge on SouthSide.

The only part of the story that is true is that I was there that evening in May, 1983.

First of all anyone who knows me knows that I very seldom drink and if I do it is a glass of red wine or possibly a beer or mixed drink. But never more than one, and on a rare ocassion two.

But this cowardly blogger can right al kinds of negative and false accusations that people read and after some period of time it becomes truth in many eyes.

I challenged this coward to meet me face to face or better yet to come to City Council on Wednesday at 6:00 and confront me with his or her accusations. Of course being the coward they are no one will show.

Here is my dilemna on the whole issue from a global position. Good people are not running for public office anymore. They do not want to put their family through the mill or their reputation to be shattered by individual who hide behind anonymity. and then they wonder why we have a lack of leadership in this country. The really good ones won't run because of cowardly bloggers.

When I repsond I will use my name. I would ask that others do as well.

By the way, that evening I was campaigning until about 7:30 and was at the party until 9 and then home. But who cares about the truth.

noel jones said...

I can honestly say that no matter how many people may criticize the mayor from time to time to me, I have never ever heard a story about our current mayor drinking excessively, much less anything with the severity of Jeff Warren's situation.

As the creator of the blog, a lot of people tend to tell me stories. And when several people that I respect and who have always been honest in the past tell me the same story, independently of each other, I tend to believe it. But in the end, it is still only something that I've heard. A lot.

Yes, as one who owns her words every day, I would prefer that Anons had the integrity and guts to publish their names--especially when levying personal attacks, but in answer to their points, they are right, I do not know Mayor Goldsmith personally, and am only relaying how disturbing it is as a "newcomer" to move to Easton and hear these stories over and over--and when Jeff Warren was arrested in January yet we haven't heard about it until now, it makes one start to wonder whether this is a town where the powers that be tend to look the other way when public officials engage in excessive drinking, and especially when they engage in behavior as dangerous as speeding while driving drunk.

And again, I do not judge people with drinking problems PERSONALLY--I have more than one friend with a DUI that has learned his lesson, and I still love them as people (even though I think it is an incredibly stupid decision and an indicator that one should seriously consider whether they might have a drinking problem, and make some serious life changes). But they are not elected officials being trusted to make important decisions that affect the development of our community. The most important characteristic to me in any candidate is GOOD JUDGMENT, and making the decision to drink past drunk when you know you have to drive home does not exhibit good judgment--especially with regard to Public Safety.

Mayer Lansky said...

Noel Jones wrote . . .

"I would prefer that Anons had the integrity and guts to publish their names--especially when levying personal attacks. . ."

Too bad, Noel. What the hell is the difference if a blog entry is named or not? You never really know who posts anyway.

Dennis R. Lieb said...


How can I put this delicately? Drop dead, you piece of crap. You want to tell me to shut up do it to my face. Goldsmith was a bum. I saw him tonight at the Governor's dinner at Lafayette and he's still a bum. You want chapter and verse on his dispicable behavior; I can go on all night long if you want but why bother. You'd still kiss his ass.

So, relating stories of personal experience with the bum amounts in your mind to a "long trail of tears"? Well I've never shed a single tear over the asshole. In fact I'm glad he threw me out of Weed and Seed because it showed how goddamned stupid he was to take what was an internal TALL Team issue that we would have settled in private and turned it into a public one that ended up getting the program audited by the city, county and state and having their funding frozen by all three as well. The result of our actions were program modifications at the state level that changed the operation and oversight of Weed & Seed everywhere in Pa - a benefit to all of us.

I tried mediating things with Goldsmith via a mutual acquaintence before all these Weed & Seed problems festered and he agreed to meet at the Pomfret Club to work things out. Instead I was greeted by his exec. assistant in the dining room while Goldsmith sat in the bar drinking for an hour and never showed his face. I'm proud of the fact that I and a handful of dedicated citizens didn't back down from city hall and state house power brokers back then. The day I start backing off is the day I move out of Easton.

This afternoon we listened to many distinguished speakers talk about Lafayette's new film program being developed on N 3rd Street. This is a great thing and one Easton can be proud of, but I couldn't help thinking about the potential projects I bought to that location and the former Hotel Easton years ago - before all the college involvement. Projects that Goldsmith and his nitwit staff dismissed out of hand. We could have had a high-end, stereo cabinet manufacturer from Brooklyn and a Spanish culinary school downtown for a decade by now except Goldsmith's people couldn't think of anything but Crayola, Crayola, Crayola while other solid economic opportunities went someplace else. They cost me money as a Realtor, they cost Easton's citizens jobs and they cost the city ten years head start on turning the town around.

I'm sick and tired of revisionist history on Goldsmith's behalf and I'm sick and tired of people painting me and others like me as trouble makers, divisive influences or too controvertial because we have the guts to speak truth to power in this town.

We can't all be rah-rah cheerleaders - and I'm not saying that good PR isn't obviously necessary to varying degrees in every city - but there are also times when the emperor has no clothes; times when you have to say enough is enough, this is wrong and were not going to take it anymore.

I'll keep doing what I do and all the anonymous assholes in the world can keep pouring it on because I can take anything you dish out.


noel jones said...

Mayer Lansky--you said:

"Too bad, Noel. What the hell is the difference if a blog entry is named or not? You never really know who posts anyway."

Interesting--a rather aggressive post to make such a simple point. You are right, I have know guarantee that people are who they say they are--luckily for me, I know a lot of people, and when many of them post, I know it's really them.

Anyone new, I have no idea--and don't care frankly--it's ok to use an alias as long as it is consistent and readers get an opportunity to get acquainted with the writer's voice of that alias, and the alias isn't just a screen to play chicken behind while making personal attacks. Then more earnest (and more respectful, and more productive) conversations can happen.

g_whiz said...

I think its an arbitrary excuse to cast judgement for a crime I'm going to assume has already been handled within the judicial system. American ideology about public figures can be so disjointed; one minute we want homespun "men of the people", the next we want perfect, unaproachable paragons of virtue. Provided he's not getting saused on the job or violating his office in any way, its a past transgression and should be left as such.

noel jones said...

and what of the public not hearing about the January incident until October? are we at all concerned about that?

noel jones said...

The latest on this is reported by Chris Baxter of The Morning Call--turns out this was not Warren's first DUI--he was arrested 9 years ago in D.C:,0,1847627.story

It sounds, from the article, that the mayor may be gently suggesting that he resign on his own...