Government Fleet Top News

Bethlehem Mayor Criticized Over Swapped Vehicle

July 11, 2007

BETHLEHEM, PA – Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan was recently criticized by two City Council members for using a new city-owned vehicle that was not specifically earmarked for his office in this year’s budget, according to the Bethlehem Morning Call newspaper.

Callahan said the city’s director of parks and public property suggested he take a new vehicle because he puts more mileage on his car than the city inspector to whom the car would have been assigned. Callahan said he makes trips to Harrisburg and Philadelphia on the city’s behalf, while the inspector never leaves the city.

The mayor got a new Chevrolet Impala, while the inspector got a used Chevrolet Impala with 62,000 miles on it.

The situation heated up when Council President Michael Schweder questioned Callahan on his ‘‘legal justification’’ for switching vehicles. Schweder charged that the mayor made a ‘‘unilateral’’ change to the city’s budget without council’s approval. Callahan said it is the administration’s job to manage the city’s vehicle fleet. City Business Administrator Dennis Reichard said that such swaps have been a common practice of past mayors, according to the Bethlehem Morning Call newspaper.

Callahan said the suggestion to give him the keys to a new car was made by the city’s fleet manager, the director of parks and public property. He said he could not recall whether the suggestion was made by the new director, Ralph E. Carp, or the recently retired Charles Brown. In either case, Callahan said he did not make a request for a new vehicle but accepted one when it was offered.

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