In "," I told you that our local top crime dog, DA John Morganelli, regularly dips into his campaign fund for meals at posh places like the Blue Grille and Emeril's Chop House.
He blew over $13,000 on himself last year to dine out (35 times), fill up the tank (15 times) and even to buy DA uniforms at Macy's. But there's one eatery he missed--Darto's Restaurant in Bethlehem.
The owners must be looking for his business because the first thing you see when you walk into this North Street breakfast nook is a poster telling you to sign Morganelli's election petition for DA. And right below, Whoomp! There it is.
Now I know you've probably seen your fair share of nomination petitions languishing in bars, social halls, bingo parlors and church lobbies.
But guess what? It's illegal.
If a candidate is too important to take a nomination petition around himself, he gets someone called a "circulator," and according to our Supreme Court, it's that person's job to make sure that each signer (1) knows what he is signing; (2) correctly states his address; (3) lives in the county; (4) signs on the date indicated; and (5) is a registered voter. These requirements are imposed, not as mere technicalities, but to prevent election fraud and preserve the integrity of the election process.
How the hell can somebody do that when he's flipping pancakes?
Based on a tip I received at the hotline for bottom-feeding bloggers, I stopped at Darto's for spam and eggs on Tuesday morning. As the chief law enforcement officer in Northampton County, I'd expect Morganelli to follow the rules, especially when he has no opponent. But there was John's petition, all by itself. Over the course of a leisurely breakfast, I photographed it.
A little while later, I got up and decided to examine John's petition carefully.
A little while later, I got up again and wrote this, right below the last signature:"This petition is untended at Darto's on March 2."
But the elections office will notice if Morganelli attempts to file that petition. There is no way he or anyone else will be able to claim that the "circulator" had a clue what was going on.
After leaving Darto's, I went to the courthouse law library, hoping that sitting there would make me look smart. The first person I saw, believe it or not, was DA John Morganelli.
"I want you to arrest yourself," I demanded. Morganelli tried to claim that the "circulator" was right there and knew what was going on, until I told him what I had written on the face of his petition, which had ruined it.
"Were there many signatures?" he asked.
"No," I lied. Satisfied, he marched off, looking for illegals.
If you'd like to preserve the integrity of the elections process, make it difficult for candidates to leave petitions all over creation.
Next time you see one all by its lonesome at Our Lady of Perpetual Motion or whatever, write this: "This petition was untended at [****] on [*]." That will effectively make it impossible to file the petition and simultaneously encourage candidates to play by the rules, even our DA.