Northwestern Press

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Article By: Douglas Graves Special to The Press

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 by Douglas Graves Special to The Press in Local News

Business as usual hit a speed bump on Feb. 27 when Lehigh County commissioners attempted to approve a couple of routine professional services contracts.

Commissioner Amy Zanelli objected to the boilerplate anti-discrimination provisions of two proposed agreements — one with Election IQ LLC and another with Alfred Yacoub Esq., for professional services with the county.

Zanelli, elected in 2017 to serve District 3, noted the proposed contracts did not contain language that protects “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability” as proclaimed by county policy Jan. 31 by newly elected Lehigh County Executive Phillips M. Armstrong.

Armstrong’s “administrative notice” requires he new protection language be included in “any contracts or grants issued by Lehigh County departments, offices and bureaus.”

Zanelli argued failure to have such language acts as a bar to members of the LGBTQ community from going public.

She prevailed and commissioners sent the two contracts back for inclusion of the appropriate changes in protection language.

Commissioner Marc Grammes, in an impassioned statement, supported Zanelli’s objection by describing the discrimination he saw as a Merchant Marine midshipman during his travels in Africa — especially in then-apartheid South Africa.

The contract with Yacoub is for legal counsel to defendants charged with indirect criminal contempt for violation of protection from abuse orders in the county.

The contract with Election IQ LLC is for a database used to create ballots for the county’s electronic voting machines.

In other business, commissioners approved the sale of 6.3 acres at 749 Route 100 to Landston Equities, LLC for $550,000; and reappointed Doris Glaessmann to the Election and Registration Commission.