Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Drunk Driving Not a Problem As Incumbents Sweep Easton City Council Race

Ken Brown (far left), El Warner (2nd from left), and Jeff Warren (2nd from right)

Posted by: Noël Jones

Interestingly enough, the fierce anti-incumbent sentiment in the school board race was not reflected in Easton's city council race yesterday. All three incumbents, Ken Brown, El Warner and Jeff Warren won their seats easily. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that they only had one challenger for three seats. One has to wonder, where was the Republican party? The three incumbents are all Democrats, and their lone challenger was a
Democrat. I find it amazing that the challenger, Reno Pesaresi of College Hill, was not even able to knock off Jeff Warren, who got a lot of negative attention earlier this year for getting busted for his second DUI in nine years. Warren, is the council's Head of Public Safety. Somehow, he was able to get off with a first-time offender's program, even though it was his second offense.

So what happened here? Are voters that satisfied with their incumbents, or just so cynical that they see no point in even running? Have the Republicans, outnumbered in Easton 2-1 for years, simply been depressed out of existence to the point that they don't even think they can defeat a drunk driver? And is support for Jeff Warren simply a lack of opposition, or do we have such a problem with alcoholism in Easton that voters support him, whispering, "there but for the grace of God go I?"

This is one race ripe for a write-in challenger.


Anonymous said...

Very simple answers --
1. yes the residents are happy with the incumbents doing their job abd working with a great administration headed up by Mayor Panto. To date no one has heard that Councilmember Warren was a drunk. He made a mistake but deserved to be re-elected.

2. The Republican candidates for Council backed out when all of a sudden they had a person running for mayor -- and one that even yesterday's election results showed doesn't have a chance. AS one potential candidate said to a friend of mine -- "No way I am running with Panto on the ballot. He will bring all of the Dems out and even most of the Republicans are going to vote for him. It's a good point. If this firefighter didn't announce you may have seem three candidates on the R side.

noel jones said...

Anon--#2 is an interesting point--I wonder, do Republicans reading this out there agree with this theory? Is it an issue of not having a lot of resources to put behind all races, so that the party feels it has to pick its battles?

As for #1--I tend to agree that I think in general most people who care about these sorts of things, are fairly happy with the incumbents, but with regard to Warren, I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "To date no one has heard that Council member Warren was a drunk." Do you mean that because he is not seen as a functioning alcoholic, per se, but rather someone who just makes extremely bad decisions on the occasions that he does drink (deciding to drink to a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit knowing he was going to drive home, deciding to drive while drunk, deciding to speed while driving drunk, etc.)?

I think I understand what you're saying, but he didn't just make 'a' mistake, he has been caught for the same very dangerous (to himself and others) mistake twice, and for some reason is getting off easy, both in our legal system and in terms of getting re-elected.

But The People have spoken. Drunk driving by public officials apparently is okay with Easton.

Anonymous said...

Just a personal opinion>

The local Republican party is finding itself. It needs leadership. The old guard has moved on. The Tea party has mixed the message. I would expect more in future years.

As far as council. Most people were not interested. Seems that the positions are not as important as they once were. Perhaps there are too many council with little work.

Warren baffles me. I did not vote for him. bothered by the drunk driving accusation in view of the "higher standard" speech. Although I do recognize two important things about him. First, he is the only elected official in fifty years to standup and challenge the compensation package of his fellow councilmen. Second, he has repeatedly recognized the importance of the charter and its impact on the government. He does not give all credit to elected officials. Makes me happy because I voted for the charter.

As far as council; the city has become a confused structure of layers of different governments. It just seems that council does not really count anymore. I can't point to any real accomplishment in four years.

noel jones said...

For those not familiar with Anon 7:53's reference in "higher standard"--s/he is referring to a comment that Jeff Warren made when a police officer was arrested for drunk driving, when he said that public officials should be held to a higher standard.

Apparently he forgot to say, "except for me" at the end.

Anonymous said...

interesting post at
I think the third post

Anonymous said...
third comment
try the new link

Anonymous said...

Here is a copy for some reason
it will not print the entire link

Here is an interesting voter strategy practiced on the southside.
Let say your an incumbent member of city council.
You get your fairly big group of loyal voters to vote only for you.
Thus poisining the waters for the other people running especially
non incumbents. Also, devaluing the vote of people who vote for 3.

noel jones said...

Anon 10:37--yes, this is a common strategy here. It used to be even more popular before home rule charter, because whoever got the most votes automatically became president of council and set the agenda. So people who wanted a particular candidate to be president would tell everyone to vote ONLY for him/her, thereby "undervoting" for the other candidates and increasing his/her chances of coming out with the most votes.

Voters need to know this and keep it in mind, because as you point out, it also works for getting people across the finish line who might not have made it in--thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...


Just a clarification about your point on the way council president was appointed before home rule. It had nothing to do with who received the most votes in the general election.

During reorganization, the city solicitor asked for nominations for president and VP, which council members voted on. The same method is used throughout municipal government from planning commissions to borough councils and township supervisors.

noel jones said...

Are you sure about that? I had it on pretty good authority that the president of council was the one who got the highest number of votes...

Anonymous said...

Yes. Council nominated a president and voted on the nomination. Election results had nothing to do with it.

noel jones said...

hmmn...not what i was told before --this was before Home Rule Charter came into play--i will have to do some more digging about this...thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...


Yes, that is how it was done before Home Rule. You were misinformed.

After Home Rule, mayor serves as council president. Incidentally, any council member may bring something before council to be placed on the agenda. All it takes is a simple majority to have it placed on the agenda.

Anonymous said...

There are always customs. The chair usually rotated to the most senior and/or to the highest vote getter. Not necessarily always. Candidates always campaigned for themselves and in a three way race asked for one vote. That vote counted as three votes. That has always been the case in city and county races.

noel jones said...

Thanks Anons--please take monikers so we know how many different anon voices are in the conversation and we as readers can follow the train of thought of each "voice" while you still remain anonymous.

noel jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tachitup said...

I'm glad to see folks still posting here. The first 2 anonymous posts are very interesting; I hope they come back and use a name/moniker.
Anon 4:12 is kinda right with #1 and dead wrong with #2, nobody should ever run unopposed. Maybe a friend thought about running, but never contacted the local R committee. Nobody was ever serious about running for council as an
Anon 7:53 is right on. There is need for anybody with slightly conservative views to step forward and lend a hand....not that left or right views really mean a lot in municipal government. Even in Easton there have to be SOME Republicans.
Sad that you can get busted twice for driving drunk while insisting on a higher standard and still get re-elected. He ain't that bad on council...but c'mon, are there no standards? And even a challenger from his own party can't beat him?

Anonymous said...

interestingly enough even with three choices on city council, although some may one shot, Panto received the highest of the Dem candidtates and Warner barely beat Warren even with his two DUI. Shows me that Brown and Warren worked for their votes and if anyone wanted to beat then they would have had to work harder.

Krill didn't so anyhting and Panto ran a campaign and it showed. Panto by the unofficial count received aome 90% of the Dem votes and Krill received only 50% of the Republican vote with Panto having a large number of write-ins on that side. Proves to me that PAnto is perceived as a bi-partisan mayor and is fiscally conservative.

Just some thoughts. On to November.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you can really make conclusions unless you were exit polling on election day. The turnout was not that great. Party labels usually don't work at local levels as far as describing philosophies. It has more to do with party organization. I think that earlier poster was right. The Republican party locally does not exist. No candidates. As far as being fiscally conservative, so has every mayor since the Depression. Easton mayors don't spend money.

David Caines said...

To be perfectly honest, I don't know that I feel that public figures should be held to a higher / double standard.
Many of us, myself included have suggested Noel for office...does that mean you must then become "Super Noel" or does it mean that we accept your failings and still vote for you?
I get looking to our elected leaders as role models...but did Clintons daliances actually affect the nation ?
I really don't think so, except perhaps that a happy president is a good one.
There is a concept that we make our politicians more than human....I wonder if in doing so , we so limit the field that we cannot vote for people like ourselves.
Just a thought.
I've seen you tilt a glass or two...and for your slender size...probably drunk in public...
It's assinine of course,
There is however a question of harm done...and I'n of the no harm no foul opinion.
When we start to judge against harm that might have been done, we'd all be in jail one day or another.

noel jones said...

There is a big difference between drinking, drinking and driving, and drinking and driving while speeding.

Drinking is legal. Yes I happily enjoy a pint or two, but I live two blocks from my favorite pub and have the luxury of walking if I should ever tilt more than that.

It's not a judgement of drinking, it's a judgement of bad judgement. We look to our elected officials to exercise good judgement. I'm not as bothered about Warren remaining a city council member as I am about his remaining our Head of Public Safety on council. Drinking and driving is not safe for the public, and if you're going to be the HEAD of something, you should lead by example.

Independant Democrat said...


You are concerned about Warren continuing to be the head of Public Safety? What about Libya being the head of Human Rights in the UN? This is the common farce in our political system. Give the authority to the biggest violators.

As for your and a number of the anon's opinions about party not being a factor, I seriously beg to differ. I overhear people talking in church about what a great guy and great ideas this person is that came to their house looking to get elected. They then proceed to explain that they can't vote for the person because they are a "Republican". My Father put it best, and he is a lifelong Democrat in town, "the people in this town would vote for Hitler as long as he had a D next to his name".

The true and honest fact is that too many people in this town live and die by the "D". Unfortunately, if we can't get new life and new blood, especially some Republicans into positions of authority in this town, we will all die by the "D".

Sal Panto even made comments at some of his public meetings that the taxes haven't been raised by him in his term, and that the tax hikes will be applied to the next candidate. He is putting the huge tax bill on the next mayor and the people will thank him for it. I also seem to remember that HE and COUNCIL, which is all Democrats and yes, Ruggles is no more a Republican than I am, upped our EIT to 1.75%. So he is telling boldfaced lies in order to get re-elected.

The problem is that the voters in this city are blind sheep. Their theory is, "My great grandparents were Democrats, my grandparents were democrats, my parents are democrats, so I have to be a democrat". When will the residents learn to think for themselves?

Anonymous said...

I follow Easton politics pretty closely and attended all public forums. I have never heard Panto say anything other than holding down property taxes and having a surplus for the last three years at a time when he inherited a city deep in debt and on the verge of Act 47.

When questioned at South Side Civic from a Tea Party guy he told them that yes they did raise EIT and gave some very prudent reasoning. He called it the senior budget because the increase didn't affect retired seniors nor did it apply to unemployed.

Plus the increase was from .5 to 1.25%, you can't blame him for the school district share./ He pointed out that the average person in Easton was making about $38,000 per year which meant that a gainfuly employed person would pay a little more than $5 per week more.

Now what you don't talk about is that in the last two years the city's garbage rate from the collecting hauler has gone up 3% each year but the rate to us residents didn't go up. And in this same period the city is now paying more that $600,000 per year for a lawsuit that occurred before he took office and also from what I recall and addiitonal 1/2 million dollars per year for pension debt. To me that's pretty remarkable.

And if Panto is putting these increases off to the next mayor, isn't he running for re-election.

Get real, the guy is doing a good job, our city is recognized by many rating agencies as doing much better, thgere is development nin the neighborhoods and downtown, parks are being improved, infrastructure projects delayed for a decade are being completed. All in all he has earnewd re-election and I predict by a landslide. Easton people are not stupid. They recognize good leadership.

Anonymous said...

that's incredible. that you would remember all that from a meeting. you must take very good notes or have an incredible memory to recall all of those numbers so exactly

noel jones said...

oh Anons, i beseech you, for the love of chocolate and all other manna from heaven, PLEASE take monikers when you post. i promise you will remain completely anonymous to me and everyone else--even if there were some extreme hacker method that could reveal your identities, i am such a luddite i would never be able to pull it off (nor do i have the desire to learn how).

this is a very interesting conversation and i want for myself and other readers to be able to understand which anon voices are which!

noel jones said...

i do not think that Easton's blind loyalty to the (D), and Mayor Panto doing a good job are mutually exclusive.

Easton has improved in steady increments over the last three years. we still have much work to do in terms of blight and code enforcement in the neighborhoods, but in terms of street cleaning, the riverfront parks, and general improvements downtown, i don't think that anyone can argue that the city is on the rebound and doing well under this mayor.

As i mentioned before, the real question for voters will not be whether or not Panto has done a good job, but which candidate's vision for moving forward each voter prefers.

tachitup said...

To Independant Democrat:
You have some good points and are indeed correct that D's would elect any D over an R (although you oughta learn to spell your moniker correctly).
Our controller is Tony Bassil, who was elected as a Republican because the Democrat was a ridiculous candidate. But the really neat thing happened later when Tony switched to become a D. R's, like me, were pissed until I thought about it and realized that it was a brilliant move for him. The job is not really partisan and, in this town...Hitler could be elected as a D, so why be a minority.
Look at the EASD race for southside - Pintabone won D's in a landslide...but only because he campaigned for a non-partisan job as "the only Democrat". I'm wondering if DelBacco would have won if he'd run as a D...he's twice as smart as the "only Democrat".

Ronnie said...

Thanks for the compliment. I would not run as a D simply because I do not believe in playing political games just to win an election for a non-partisan position. It would be as highly unprincipled and disingenuous a strategy as that which the democrats employed (on Pintabone's behalf) in the primary last week. What was more disturbing is the reason Larry (last name ?, head of the Easton Dems) was offering as to "why" Pintabone only appeared on the Democratic ballot. "He is staying true to the party". Anyone following the campaign knows the real reason was that Pintabone was one of only three people out 209 school board races who could not figure out how to properly cross-file. (Attention to detail)
It is disheartening that so many in BOTH parties only look for the D or R before they vote. My challenge as a Republican in Easton will certainly be to get folks to pay attention to the issues over party loyalty. Elections have consequences and the importance of electing principled candidates is unfortunately lost when one is blinded by party labels in the voting booth. My hope is to have several, well covered, and accurately reported, substantive debates before November. Email questions to me at
Thanks for paying attention,