Feb 28, 2017
I'm a baby boomer. I was born in December of 1946. As soon as my mother climbed out of the hospital bed, another woman climbed in. I grew up in the neighborhood now called Little Lehigh Manor, wedged between Lehigh Street and the top of the ravine above Lehigh Parkway. That's me on our lawn at the intersection of Catalina and Liberator Avenues, named after airplanes made by Vultee Corporation for the War. We had our own elementary school, our own grocery store, and the park to play in. On Saturdays, older kids would take us along on the trolley, and later the bus, over the 8TH Street Bridge to Hamilton Street. There were far too many stores to see everything. After a matinee of cartoons or Flash Gordon, and a banana split at one of the five and dimes, we would take the bus back over the bridge to Lehigh Street.
Not that many people know where Lehigh Parkway Elementary School is. It's tucked up at the back of the development of twin homes on a dead end street, but I won't say exactly where. I do want to talk about the photograph. It's May Day, around 1952-53. May Day was big then, so were the unions; Most of the fathers worked at the Steel, Mack, Black and Decker, and a hundred other factories going full tilt after the war. The houses were about 8 years old, and there were no fences yet. Hundreds of kids would migrate from one yard to another, and every mother would assume some responsibility for the herd when it was in her yard. Laundry was hung out to dry. If you notice, most of the "audience" are mothers, dads mostly were at work. I'm at the front, right of center, with a light shirt and long belt tail. Don't remember the girl, but see the boy in front of me with the big head? His father had the whole basement setup year round with a huge model train layout. There were so many kid's, the school only went up to second grade. We would then be bused to Jefferson School for third through sixth grade. The neighborhood had its own Halloween Parade and Easter egg hunt. We all walked to school, no one being more than four blocks away. Years ago when I met my significant other, she told me she taught at an elementary school on the south side, but that I would have no idea where it was.
reprinted from January of 2013
Feb 27, 2017
According to Michael Siegel, who knows about such things, the Little Lehigh is in dire trouble. Meanwhile, back in the land of government and sacred cows, the LCA, like Sergeant Schultz on Hogan's Hero, knows and says nothing. Nestlé and the other bottlers keep sucking out our water like they're making a profit on it.☺☺
Mr. Siegel better get used to frustration. Here, in our one paper valley, the sacred cows roam free. Save but for a few bloggers, no worries here. But even in the blogosphere, the topics of choice involve personal attacks combined with anonymous comments.
Here in the valley the sacred cows herd together. The Wildlands Conservancy never criticizes the LCA, and invites Nestlé Water to conduct children's workshops.
Shown above is the former Robin Hood Dam on the Little Lehigh. It was demolished by The Wildlands Conservancy in order to harvest a state grant.
Feb 24, 2017
If you're a student of grassroots politics in Allentown, chances are that you know Robert Trotner. This political and community activist has been encouraging political newcomers for a number of years, through both an internet radio show and coffee house gatherings. His recent meetings at the Coffee House Without Limits has attracted new candidates for mayor, city council and the school board. While their names are mostly new to the general public, all of them are involved in the process already, attending meetings and studying Allentown's problems.
I have been a supporter of local outsider politics for decades. These are the people you see at the meetings, week after week. They are the ones that fight the battle for everyone else. They are the ones who speak out for the many who remain silent. While a few get elected and become mainstream, most remain unelected, and unrecognized for their commitment. Reporting their accomplishments has always been an honor for this blog.
Shown sitting with Trotner is City Council candidate Jessica Lee Ortiz and School Board candidate Phoebe Harris.
ADDENDUM: Political outsider and police officer Luiz D. Garcia has announced his candidacy as a Republican for mayor. I had reached out to Garcia last fall, and we finally connected at a police event at Sacred Heart Hospital earlier this winter. He is Allentown's first Hispanic Mayoral candidate.
Feb 23, 2017
At Tom Muller's kickdown event, he announced that although not running for another term, he would champion for the county's Cedarbrook nursing home. That most important facility has been stonewalled by the county commissioners. During the last few years I appealed to the commissioners at least twice that Cedarbrook is their most meaningful obligation. Not only haven't they funded any renovation there, they have been disingenuous in not doing so. They have commissioned study after study, stalling any real commitment. By now, the proposed modernized wing would have been half amortized. It's not as if the commissioners are bound by conservative principle, they funded the useless, but politically correct farmland preservation. They should at least treat our elderly as well as excessive acreage, used mostly for Jaindl turkey corn.
Although, I have been labeled as a radical Republican choir, I supported Muller on his Cedarbrook efforts. I supported Democrat Dan Hartzell, because he voiced support for Cedarbrook. My support for Cedarbrook will continue, as well as my outspokenness against hypocrisy, without regard to political party.
ADDENDUM: An article in the Morning Call suggests that commissioner Marty Nothstein might be more sympathetic to Cedarbrook than his Republican predecessors, time will tell.
Feb 22, 2017
Yesterday, a valued reader thought that my observation of women losing it over Trump was perhaps an aberration, caused by a small sampling on my behalf. Between the demonstrations and facebook, I don't know why she thinks that. Another reader suggested that the mental illness resides within me, for not fully understanding their outrage.
I do believe that we are experiencing a unique psychological phenomena, which will eventually be officially recognized and titled. To say that the vast majority of women I personally know are offended by Trump is an understatement.
As a political blogger I look forward to seeing how Republican incumbents play the Trump card come the midterms in 2018. Here locally in Pennsylvania that already is a challenge for Dent and Toomey.
Feb 21, 2017
No, this post isn't about Trump being mentally ill, it's about him making women nuts. If it seems as if I'm dwelling on Trump and women's reaction to him, it's because of their obsession, not mine. I'm a student of politics, and this visceral reaction to him by women is unprecedented.
I know a woman who has a large presence on facebook. In all the years of being facebook friends, she has always avoided politics. Currently, she can't stop posting about Trump. Furthermore, her comments are becoming more and more vulgar, which is also out of character for her. I can only conclude that Trump has made millions of women mentality ill.
Recently, I heard of a psychiatrist who is also very upset about Trump. Who will be left to treat these people with this new condition?
Feb 20, 2017
With the country having been so split in the last election, the losers constitute a large market share. Furthermore, that segment is passionate in their dislike of Trump, and has disposable income. Witness both Starbucks and Nordstroms cashing in on that sentiment. Expect to see more businesses copying the strategy. While Trump may have been a brand name prior to his campaign, Anti-Trump now has purchase appeal.
I recently have been accused of running a choir for Trump supporters. I was not a Trump supporter prior to the election. Since he prevailed and now is president, I have evolved into a Trump defender of sorts, although he doesn't make that task easy. I am revolted by the animosity coming his way. There is more vitriol toward Trump than I have ever witnessed in politics. At that intensity, there can be nothing productive about it. I do believe that Trump will become the issue in the upcoming mid-term elections. How sad that a congressman will run on his position on a person, rather than on the issues.
Feb 18, 2017
Feb 17, 2017
I was told by the top hierarchy of the Morning Call that although they wouldn't print either my editorial or letter about Wehr's Dam, that they would investigate and report on my documented assertions. I'm concerned about the township commissioners having allowed The Wildlands Conservancy to cast doubts about the dam's condition with Harrisburg. They attempted to poison the water about the dam behind the public's back. The state in turn sought clarification from the township about the claims by the Wildlands. I provided both quotes and dates from those memos. Two weeks have passed, and this week they reported on South Whitehall's plans to utilize the house owned by the former mill operator, but ignored the dam issue. The mill itself was torn down decades ago, and the dam is the only remnant left of this important part of the township's agricultural history.
The article reports that the house will become the township park office, and be in the important Jordan Greenway project. It doesn't reveal that the project was formulated, and is being administrated by the Wildlands Conservancy, which still wants to see the dam demolished. Bill White, their remaining columnist, and closest thing they have to an editorial by the paper, had previously publicly sided with the Wildlands in calling for its destruction.
Wehr's Dam was sanctified by the voters last November by special referendum. Although sanctify is usually used in the religious sense, understand that the voters were willing to endure a tax increase to keep their cherished dam. It has been a destination for generations.
The dam is still standing mostly from my efforts. To stifle my current concerns about its future from the public, reflects a continuing bias on the paper's behalf.
photocredit: K Mary Hess
Feb 16, 2017
As I've written before, with such a crowded field, it will not take many votes to win. Pawlowski has been courting the small minority groups, hoping to cobble together enough votes. He is in a position to dispense favors, and promise more. I believe that his name recognition and remaining power makes him the lead candidate.
Sam Bennett started early, and is an experienced organizer. This is a Democratic town, and being a woman in this Hillary era, can only help her. She will certainly draw a substantial number of votes.
Charlie Thiel likewise has been on the scene for years. He is a school board member who has the support of Jennifer Mann. He has long standing ties with both the business and religious communities.
Ray O'Connell, in addition to currently being president of City Council, was an Allentown school principal. He has been concentrating on the west end vote, which always has the highest turnout.
My preference would be anyone but Pawlowski. The three others mentioned above bring a lot of talent to the race. Even among the three not mentioned, there are many qualifications.
Feb 15, 2017
As a small boy growing up in the twin homes above Lehigh Parkway, I would go down the steep wooded ravine and cross the Robin Hood Bridge. The stone lined spring pond and miniature bridge was just the first in a series of wonderful WPA constructions to explore. Last year, when I organized the reclamation of the Boat Landing, my memory turned to the pond. Although overgrown with several inches of sod, I knew the treasure was still savable.
In the spring of 2010 I met Mike Gilbert of the Park Department, and pitched the idea of a partial restoration. On May 26th, I posted A Modest Proposal, which outlined my hopes for the pond. By July, Gilbert had the Park Department clear off the remaining stones, and clean up around the miniature bridge.
Park Director Greg Weitzel indicated to me that the pond features uncovered will be maintained. Any further clearing would be at the discretion of Mike Gilbert. In our conversation he also stated that there are virtually no funds available for the preservation of the WPA icons.
I will attempt to organize a group and contributions for this most worthy cause. Between the Spring Pond and The Boat Landing there was once a bridge to the island. Wouldn't it be nice if a small boy could go exploring.
reprinted from previous posts
UPDATE August 2013Mike Gilbert has retired, and the Park Department has a new director. Although grass and sod are starting to again cover the remaining stones that surround the pond, the miniature bridge is still visible. I will make it my mission to again pitch the new personnel.
UPDATE June 18, 2014. The grass and sod has reclaimed the stones that surround the pond. Only the very top of the miniature bridge is still visible to those who know that it's there. Unless there is an immediate intervention, it's days are numbered.
HISTORY IS FRAGILE
UPDATE February 2017:In 2015, in cooperation with Friends of Allentown Parks, I supervised college volunteers to clear the new sod off the pond stones, and the new bush off the miniature bridge. Allentown is on its third park director since this post was first written, and has acquired two large parcels to create new parks. To be planning additional parks, when our existing park features are left to abandonment, is incredibility poor management.
Feb 14, 2017
Nordstroms is having a boom because they dropped Ivanka Trump's clothing line. In their hatred of Trump, women are flocking there to patronize the store. It's hard to think of anything less supportive of women, than rewarding a merchant, because they don't like a woman's father. In this time of issues, such as North Korea's aggressiveness, liberal women are still obsessed with the results of November's election.
Here in the local arena, blogger Bernie O'Hare wrote; Locally, an assortment if bigots and xenophobes at Molovinsky Tabernacle Choir has been trying its best to justify just about everything Trump does, even when he's dead wrong. That's pretty much what has been happening nationally, too. Bernie was supposedly giving Trump the benefit of the doubt, until he used the phrase so called judge, two weeks into the administration. To Bernie, Trump is now a so called President.
In truth, I am not a Trump supporter, but a defender of our democracy. The country knowingly elected an outspoken, political outsider. Although, I understand the entertainment industry seizing upon his unpopularity, women and liberals should consider, whether if at this point, they're just being obstructionists. Furthermore, whether if this obstructionism is marginalizing their own country.
photo: Although, liberals have been over regarding SNL as news for years, now even the press is treating it that way, with reports on Sunday morning.
Feb 13, 2017
If this blog seems repetitive at times, or that I'm harping on something which doesn't interest many people, it's because I find the subject historically important, or politically compelling. Understand, that this blog is not monetized in any way. How many people read it is of no consequence to me. Even my comment policy goes against common strategies for increasing readership.
For the record, I would like it be known that I take no pleasure when my posts offend. Likewise, let me say that although I won't compromise for it, I do value your readership.
Feb 10, 2017
In the mid 50's, it was a big deal to us southsiders when they opened the new 15th Street Bridge. Prior to that, we had to either go over the 8th Street Bridge, or use the old stone arch bridge by the fertilizer plant. The fertilizer plant is long gone, but the old stone bridge is still there. Schreibers Bridge was built in 1828, and rehabilitated in 1920. The new 15th Street bridge was built in 1957, and is now restricted to south bound only, until which time it can be completely replaced. So the new bridge lasted 54 years, while the old stone bridge is still in use, 182 years later.
Recently, I urged Donny Cunningham not to replace the stone arch bridge on Reading Road. His project manager, Glenn Solt, insists that the historic bridge must be replaced. He stated that stone arch bridges look nice on the outside, but inside, they're filled with "crap." Thankfully, Don and Glenn didn't target Schreibers Bridge, because we're really going to need it with the new 15th Street Bridge out of commission. Hopefully, they will reconsider about stealing our history on Reading Road.
reprinted from November 2010 and February of 2012
ADDENDUM: I did manage to save the Reading Road Bridge. I now encourage Allentown to restore the approach walls to Schreibers Bridge, damaged as it served heavy duty while the new 15th Street Bridge was being replaced.
Feb 9, 2017
If anyone is wondering what the issue was with my letter to the Morning Call about Wehr's Dam, the issue was me. One of the consequences of having criticized the paper and various sacred cows over the last decade, is that my letters are submitted to a much higher level of scrutiny. Almost all the letters that they print have assumptions and opinions. It is, after all, the Opinions Page. My previous letter on Wehr's Dam, before the referendum, took over a month of negotiations to have printed. In the end, it was only printed because Bill White declined to make corrections to his piece on Wehr's Dam, and suggested instead that I write an editorial.
One must understand that we live in the valley of sacred cows and denial. Only here can the township manager of South Whitehall go to work for the townships largest property owner and developer, and not raise eyebrows. Only here can Allentown's biggest developer actually now own the newspaper building.
For the sake of journalism and access to news, the Morning Call should be printing this blog as a daily column, instead of repressing my occasional letters.
Feb 8, 2017
The thing about Trump's Muslim Ban is that it is not a ban on Muslims, it's a travel ban against countries which for the most part are in a state of anarchy or hostility, and not capable of vetting their own citizens in regard to our security. How safe do you feel about the current governments of Libya, Somalia or Yemen, checking passengers on their end of a flight?
My readers of liberal persuasion are probably beginning to doubt my claim of being a non-partisan. The fact is I am bewildered by the misinformation and distortion concerning the Trump administration. Now, I get that Trump has repulsed you numerous times in the last six months. You are certainly entitled to your dislike and distrust of him, but the distortions benefit nobody.
killing Christians on the beach in Libya
Feb 7, 2017
Among the things I find interesting about this post election result, is the classism and hypocrisy of the liberal Democratic establishment. Although, I'm non-partisan and voted for Gary Johnson, I interact with both camps. The shocked Democrats keep referring to low information rednecks, who voted for Trump. However, they had no problem with black voters, some of whom were low information. Obama and Hillary themselves tried to rally the black vote, not with information, but with free concerts. An uninformed black vote is apparently more legitimate than one from an uninformed white person. Perhaps, what they're thinking, but not saying, is that they expect the black voter to be less informed. Another Democratic concern for blacks is alleged voter repression in the south. Registering them is enough; If they vote Democratic, there is little concern about how informed they are on the issues. Of course those whites, who do not vote Democratic, are uninformed rednecks.
Feb 6, 2017
Although, I thought that the news and media was biased during the presidential campaign of 2016, I haven't seen anything yet. Only President for two weeks, Trump has managed to alienate the press even more than before. Now, I don't blame Trump, I blame the press. (I use the terms press and media interchangeably, and mean both print, internet, broadcast and cable) The media knew what they were getting when Trump won. I suppose that there might have been an expectation of a more presidential demeanor, but there should be no surprise that it didn't materialize.
As someone who looks for news and not attitude, my hunt has become more elusive. Complicating the endeavor, is that more and more news sources are being consolidated. When the public is willing to accept the blurbs on facebook as news, we are in an era of electronic tabloids.
News as entertainment isn't new, but when that's all there is, democracy suffers. Previously informed people are reduced to this new diet. The Sunday edition of the Washington Post treats the previous evening's Saturday Night Live parody as news. CNN has joined the official electronic tabloid club by refusing to host Kellyanne Conway on their Sunday talking heads program, after being shut out of some access by the White House. In this vacuum, I expect that molovinsky on allentown will have to open a Washington bureau. I was hoping to devote more column space to local history.
Feb 4, 2017
Feb 3, 2017
The Morning Call has declined to print the following letter, and a longer version of it.
The basis of the letter in question is centered on assumption of a result not yet known. We are declining to print the letter because it contains at worst faulty logic, at best an assumption. Please include this reasoning when you ‘go public.’ The Morning Call
The South Whitehall Commissioners never expected the voters to approve the referendum this past November to retain Wehr's Dam, especially when they had associated it with a possible tax increase. They thought that they could accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy in demolishing the dam, with no political consequence to themselves. In July of 2014, the Commissioners gave the Conservancy permission to conduct a study of the dam, which was intended to justify its demolition. The engineering firm for the Conservancy then claimed that the dam was leaking under itself, at one small spot. On February 13, 2015, the DEP wrote the township; "The Wildlands Conservancy has recently brought to our attention that there is some confusion relating to the current condition of the Wehr's Dam..." For the Commissioners to have granted the Wildlands Conservancy permission to interface with the state was improper. The dam is the historic property of the township residents, not an outside party. A subsequent study of the dam by another engineering firm could not confirm the above referenced leak. It is now necessary for the Commissioners to put aside their agenda of accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy, and honor the results of the referendum. They must change their Park Master Plan, which still calls for the dam's demolition. They must now advocate for the dam with the state DEP, and correct any misconceptions about its condition.
ADDENDUM: Although, The Morning Call has declined to print my letter(s), they will now inquire and report on the Township's intention in regard to the dam.
photocredit: K Mary Hess
Feb 2, 2017
As I reported previously, my entire female staff resigned after the Washington march. It wasn't enough to be non-partisan, they insisted that I condemn everything about Trump. One of the things that I complimented Trump on was his pick of Rex Tillerson, for Secretary of State. Here is a man who is giving up a $25million dollar salary to serve his country. Here is a man who was CEO of Exxon/Mobile, one of the biggest companies in the world. Do you suppose that he just might be as smart and qualified as John Kerry, or Hillary Clinton, for that position.
My hope for my former staff is that they can calm down somewhat, and resume life. Presently, they're just besides themselves about Trump. Although, it's apparent that the man has no notion of diplomacy, he has only been president for less than two weeks. Barack Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize in between being elected and being sworn in, just on the basis of his ability to speak eloquently. He didn't receive another one as president, nor should he have received the first one. This isn't a pro Trump site. He will be readily criticized here, as warranted. Although, additional vetting is prudent, his recent ban on certain countries was poorly implemented. Shown above is Brigitte, our new copy editor.
photo of Brigitte Bardot, French actress and activist
Feb 1, 2017
Another interesting phenomena is the Pawlowski freelance goons. I call them freelance, because I have no reason to believe that Pawlowski is behind their actions. One young man attacks me on facebook as a jealous hate blogger, because I criticize Allentown policy. Ironically, he feels justified in attacking a person, because that person takes city policy to task. I didn't know that cities had feelings, or were that sensitive. Another person has been bullying for Pawlowski since before his first election, in 2005. Talking of irony, Pawlowski, in addition to putting up photos of the small businesses and congregations, keeps also posting about being kind. Those of us who have taken his city policy to task, have often been personally insulted and smeared by that very advocate of kindness.
Jan 31, 2017
reprinted from April of 2015
UPDATE January 31,2017: While much of the older Syrian Christian community has migrated to Whitehall, many of the newer Muslim immigrants from Syria are moving into the 6th Ward, a traditional starting spot for many immigrants to our city. The last two years have made the story of the Syrians complex. The same can be said for Pawlowski, Allentown and even the country. The older Syrian community remain staunch Democrats. The newer immigrants will of course be preoccupied with their new surroundings. According to the paper, the local Syrian population is under 4,000. I was surprised, their influence is much larger.
reprinted from June 2013
UPDATE January31,2017: Today's Morning Call has an article and video in which Rev. Sabbagh supports the concept of Trump's ban, but criticizes the way it was implemented. The article accurately explains that the Syrian Christian community generally supports Assad. Both he and his father defended the Christian minority in Syria. While the article even mentions the tension between Allentown's older Christian community, and the newer Muslim immigrants, it overlooks another fact about the community in Allentown. The older Syrian Christian community referred to in my two posts, were a united Democratic block in this city.
Today at noon I will reprint a post on the large political influence of the small Syrian community. You're welcome to return.
Jan 30, 2017
When my grandfather first arrived in Allentown he lived in the Ward, on 2nd. Street. It was around 1895 and the neighborhood was full of immigrants. Some groups came from the same area in the old country, most noticeably the Syrians, from the village of Amar*. They were Antiochian Orthodox, a minority in a Muslim country. The congregation of St. George's Church on Catasauqua Ave., largely is descended from those immigrants. Well known names in Allentown, such as Atiyeh, Haddad, Hanna, Makoul, Koury and Joseph are among their members. They were among one of the first groups to organize, and those organizations still exist. The photo above was organized by the Syrian American Organization in 1944. Note that Jewish, on the left, is treated as a nationality.
* hopefully my Syrian friends will correct any historical errors I have made.
click on photo to enlarge
reprinted from previous years
Mayor Pawlowski is patting himself for having the 100 year old fountain refurbished in West Park. Actually, the fountain is less than 30 years old, and is a reproduction of the original fountain, which was scrapped in the 1950's, for a modern brick monstrosity.
This is what happens when you have a mayor from out of town, and a park director from out of town; There is no institutional memory, whatsoever, of the park system. We are paying to refurbish a fountain which is probably still in excellent shape. Meanwhile, the WPA structures, which really do need attention, are allowed to crumble away. We have a mayor who is more political than ever, wasting our resources on photo opportunities. His highness deleted my corrected history off his facebook page in about 30 seconds.
At noon today, this blog will be reprinting a short history of the Syrian community in Allentown. Your return visit is welcome.
Jan 28, 2017
Jessica Lenard, who was an important part of Allentown's art scene in the 70's and 80's, died from an accident in December of 2016. I will make pieces available to discerning collectors and institutions, with proceeds to her memory with her favorite institutions. shown All Day Sucker, oil on canvas, 5'x6'
Jan 27, 2017
When I was a little boy, I would work at my father's meat market, boxing eggs. The job was pretty straightforward. I would take eggs from a big box, and put them in small boxes with folding lids, each of which held a dozen. If I did a whole crate without breaking an egg, I did a good job. The real adventure was the drive to the shop. We lived just off Lehigh Street, and would take it all the way to Union Street. The many landmarks are now gone forever, only remaining in my camera of the past. Shown above in 1952, is the portion of Lehigh Street near the Acorn Hotel, which is not visible in the photograph. Before reaching the Acorn, you drove under The Reading Railroad bridge overpass, which recently has been dismantled and removed. That line served the Mack Plant on S. 10th Street. Just beyond the area pictured, the Quarry Barber railroad spur also crossed Lehigh Street, at the bridge over the Little Lehigh Creek. That line also crossed S. 10th, and served Traylor Engineering, now known as the closed Allentown Metal Works. Just last week Mitt Romney was there, to rebuke Obama's former visit to the site. Mayor Pawlowski is now rebuking Romney, but none of them really know anything about it's past. A half block away, on overgrown steps built by Roosevelt's WPA, a thousand men would climb home everyday, after working at Mack and Traylor. Freight trains, on parallel tracks, from two different railroads, were needed to supply those industrial giants.
After my father rounded the second curve on Lehigh Street, we would head up the steep Lehigh Street hill. It was packed with houses and people. At the top of the hill, we would turn right on to Union Street. Going down Union Street, Grammes Metal was built on the next big curve. Grammes made a large assortment of finished decorative metal products. Beyond Grammes were numerous railroad crossings. The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks crossed Union, as did the Jersey Central and several spurs, near Basin Street. It was not unusual to wait twenty-five minutes for the endless freight trains to pass. A two plus story tower gave the railroad men view and control of the busy crossing. A few more blocks and we were at the meat market, in time for me to break some eggs.
reprinted from July 2011
Jan 26, 2017
Urban renewal projects are nothing new to Allentown. Every couple decades some Mayor thinks he has a brighter idea. In a previous post, I showed the historic Lehigh and Union Street neighborhood, totally destroyed by city planners. Today, an under used Bank calling center sits awkwardly alone on that Lehigh Street hill. The picture above shows another hill of merchants and residents, fed to a mayor's bulldozer. The picture is from 1953, and shows Hamilton Street, from Penn Street down toward the railroad stations. At that time we still had two stations, The Lehigh Valley Railroad and The New Jersey Central. The current closed bar and restaurant occupies the Jersey Central. Everything on Hamilton Street, west of the bridge over the Jordan creek, with the exception of the Post Office, was demolished up to Fifth Street. Government Center would be built on the north side of the street, and a new hotel on the south, to accommodate the many anticipated visitors. Recently we had to remove and replace the facade of the county courthouse, which leaked since it was constructed. The hotel is now a rooming house.
Unannounced plans are underway for a new hotel to service anticipated visitors to Pawlowski's Palace of Sports. It will be up to some future blogger to document how that hotel becomes a rooming house.
reprinted from June 2011
UPDATE 2017: The arena hotel, The Renaissance, has been operating for a couple of years. I do not believe that it is doing very well. I imagine that things are even worse for the older hotel at 9th and Hamilton.
Jan 25, 2017
A local cheerleader on facebook said, in response to another shooting yesterday, that public safety must improve. Understand that our police department is up to full complement. Center city has been outfitted with surveillance cameras. Unfortunately, we are facing the consequences of poor policy for over a decade. I predicted this result as an independent candidate 2005, and was criticized at the time for my bluntness. Welcome to big urban reality in small town America.
pictured above is Kellyanne Conway, who has become a target of women upset by the election.
Jan 24, 2017
Although, my male liberal friends believe that our new president suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder, and that his supporters are primarily low information people, they are conceding that he processes some skill sets. They believe that he can effectively manage and delegate. They actually approve of dropping out of the Trans- Pacific Partnership. They even realize that there is some talent in the new cabinet.
On the other hand, my female friends offer no quarter. Most, just back from the marches, may not even forgive my postings.
Meanwhile, back here in the little apple, Mayor For Life faces a battle for the first time in the primary. I only wish that some of this talent challenged him previously. As soon as all the staff from molovinsky on allentown has returned from Washington, local coverage will resume.
Jan 23, 2017
My previous post concerning the Trump inauguration protests generated some heartfelt comments. One reader was afraid that a loved one would loose her health insurance, without the pre-existing condition coverage provided by the ACA. Although, I had issues with the protests, the validity of her concern cannot be underestimated. Let us hope that any replacement to the Affordable Care Act makes a similar provision.
One reader suggested that such protests define democracy. Another blogger, Chris Casey, a Democrat, commented, I firmly believe in the right of Americans to protest against the Government. But would it not have been more appropriate to protest by actually voting on Election day? I can't help but wonder how many of those who are upset over President Trump did not get off their rear ends and participate in the process. We have the Government we deserve, and we have to live with it....
Considering that many of the protesters began assembling before Trump was even sworn in, many weren't protesting policy, they were protesting the results of democracy. I credit Hillary for attending the inauguration, and saying that she was there to honor our democracy.
Many women that I know and care about attended the Women's March On Washington, or local versions of it. Numerically, the marches were incredibly impressive. I believe that sheer volume alone will make their messages politically relevant. I hope that Trump reaches out and offers some reassurance to these concerned citizens. In turn, I hope they can consider extending some benefit of the doubt.
photocredit:Mario Tama/Getty Images
Jan 20, 2017
Under Pawlowski, the park and recreation departments were combined, and all three of the consecutive park directors had the same background in recreation, and were hired by the same person, Fran Dougherty.
The WPA double stairwell in Lehigh Parkway, shown above, is in dire straights. The landings are falling apart, allowing water to seep into foundation of the steps. The park department always has the same answer now for years. Yes, we're budgeting for it next year. Yes, it's on our short list. etc. etc. Meanwhile, last summer a large outdoor gymnasium was installed at Jordan Park. Although it would be the envy of any federal prison, it is nothing they could ever afford. However, our recreation obsessed park director found the funds.
I have twice publicly offered city council my time to act as a liaison on park matters. They approve the park budgets, and have the leverage to modify park priorities. Meanwhile, our iconic system, once nationally recognized as among the best, declines. Pawlowski's director endorses more parks, and more expensive catalog equipment, while the important existing features crumble.
Jan 19, 2017
The Morning Call announced that Ed Pawlowski has made his try for a fourth term official. As I pointed out previously on this blog, he has been courting minority church congregations since his incrimination with the FBI investigation. His friend and probable supporter Alan Jennings, thinks that because of the Trump era discontent with status quo government, that he might have a chance. Actually, by that yardstick, he's toast. He represents the worst of government as usual. What Pawlowski is going after is the Marion Barry vote. That previous mayor of Washington was re-elected, even after being convicted on drug charges. The idea is that minorities are more sympathetic to trouble with the man. Pawlowski's strategy might work. The Democratic primary will divide up a relatively small number of votes among numerous candidates.
In 2005, when Pawlowski was unencumbered by corruption allegations, he promised the established minority community leaders more presence in city hall. He delivered on that promise. I can only imagine who and what he is promising now.
The title of this post is based on my observation that Pawlowski is not only courting minority votes, but those smaller congregations and business people, who previously did not warrant his attention.
Jan 18, 2017
Now, I can accept that many women found Trump's persona unacceptable. I can also understand that many women, and men, supported Hillary. While protesting the inauguration might provide some cathartic relief, and it certainly is a boom to the busing industry, what the exercise really accomplishes remains a mystery.
The protests remind me of the controversy over performing elephants. I think that if those Ringling Brother elephants could talk, they would have told the women to butt out. Their cousins in India and Asia have to carry logs all day. Worse yet, their relatives in Africa are slain by the thousands for their ivory.
During the campaign I met Hillary workers from New York, who were concerned about their granddaughter's future health choices under a Trump presidency. I suspect that their granddaughters will have the same health options as now, but because of grandma, they will no longer be able to enjoy the circus.*
* Ringling Brothers is ending the circus after 100 years. The show could not survive without the elephants.
* Ringling Brothers is ending the circus after 100 years. The show could not survive without the elephants.
Jan 17, 2017
Pawlowski has been praising Allentown's plan for a new park off of Basin Street by the old incinerator parcel. As a student and advocate of the park system, I can tell you that the existing park system has never been in worse shape. As a student of local government, I can tell you that this plan shows how misguided priorities can be in this city.
Allentown's Park Director, Lindsay Taylor, is also elated. “I am very excited at the prospect of the city’s creating a plan for Allentown’s own “Central Park,” a park and trail hub that will link to downtown and provide the type of recreational facilities that will encourage people choosing to move to the downtown.” Lindsay, it would be a pretty gritty ride from the new Strata Lofts to Basin Street. Quite a tour past the prison, down to Union Street. You know where to find me in the parks everyday. I'll be glad to take you around, and show you 100 things that should be maintained before you even think about adding a new park to the neglected existing system.
Jan 16, 2017
The other day I received the following comment on an older post. So where is your story on the first black superintendent of the Allentown School District??? I noticed you and Bernie conveniently neglected to bring that up??? Well, first off, Bernie and I write two blogs completely independent of each other. When we cover the same story it is only by coincidence. I tend to publish only one post per day, putting me behind the news cycle. However, this topic wss indeed on my short list. The Allentown School Board members were very pleased with themselves about the three finalists being minorities. Articles mentioning Mr. Parker's selection, featured the fact he was the first minority superintendent in a system where minorities are now the majority.
I don't know what is involved in improving the district, but I'm fairly certain it is not the color of the superintendent's skin. I do not believe that the role model concept applies here. I do not believe that students at Raub Middle School either know or care that their superintendent is African-American. One need only look at the large urban school districts to know that having minority school administrations isn't enough to make a difference.
Role models must be much closer to home, if not in the home itself. I wish Mr. Parker and the district well. If there are improvements it will result from his insights, not his complexion.
Jan 15, 2017
Jan 13, 2017
Despite Pennsylvania being one of the thirteen colonies, there exists a vast wilderness in the northern central portion of the state. Open space exists everywhere in the world, except our densest cities. Despite this reality, the concept of open space and farm land have become mantras of the left. Here in the Lehigh Valley, we have many more acres of farmland than farmers, yet the conservative Lehigh County Commissioners keep adding more tax dollars to farm preservation. I recently suggested that they should care more about our historical structures, rather than bowing to political correctness. But all this background is leading me up to today's topic, Lower Macungie Commissioner Ron Beitler. Although we never met, Ron and I are often on the same page. However, Ron is an open space advocate, who I believe may now be crossing a line.
Ron would like to see his township zoners more sympathetic to open space. I think that he is clearly confusing zoning and planning. The township comprehensive plan dictates what uses are allowed, and where they are allowed. It is zoning responsibility to implement that plan. It is the zoning board responsibility to fairly allow justified exemptions to that plan. The zoners should not be swayed by a predetermined philosophy of land use. Although the township is rolling out a new comprehensive plan later in the year, Beitler just engineered the replacement of a zoner that he felt wasn't in sync with his philosophy of open space. Although he acted within the guidelines of appointments and approvals, it was deck stacking, which I find objectionable.
ADDENDUM: Deck stacking can have major consequences, one need look no farther than Allentown. Mayor for Life Ed Pawlowski in eleven years stacked city council and all the Authorities. Before Candida Affa became his yes lady on council, she was his yes lady on the Parking Authority. Try going downtown to Hamilton Street, and putting in eight quarters for a cup of coffee. Destination cities do not even charge $2 an hour to park. What kind of destination does Allentown think it is? Mayor for Life is supposedly soliciting contributions for his 4th term. He has yet to call me.
photo credit: The Morning Call
Jan 12, 2017
The Democratic choir in Chicago Tuesday night heard Obama concede that although the factory jobs are gone, we still need more unionization. In the same paragraph, he also advocated for a larger safety net. Old mantras die hard.
One of the most glaring reality checks about the speech is that Chicago is the murder capital of the world, with over 750 fatal shootings in 2016. Hope alone can't get you safely down the street.
As Obama's golden words soared away from practicality, he cited his effort to close Guantanamo Bay, and avail our terrorist enemies the benefit of our justice system in New York City.
The disconnect between empty words, no matter how well spoken, and current events, is why Trump is being sworn in next week.
Jan 11, 2017
Senator Sessions expectedly replied, over and over, that as Attorney General he would enforce the law, regardless of how he may have voted on the matter, while serving in the Senate. What a surprise that a conservative senator has a conservative voting record. Before being a senator, he served as Attorney General in Alabama. The Senate hearings seem to be an opportunity for grandstanding, with little other purpose.
New Jersey's Cory Booker has publicized his upcoming crucifixion of Sessions. Booker will make history today, and testify against a fellow senator in a confirmation hearing. While Cory concerns himself with smears against Sessions from thirty years ago, he had no issue with Eric Holder wanting to transfer terrorists from Guantanamo to New York City, and afford them protection under US justice codes. Sessions favors retaining the prison at the Naval base in Cuba.
photo of Senator Sessions in Iraq
Jan 10, 2017
On Monday morning, the entire media, including conservative outlets, were abuzz with Meryl Streep's speech bashing Trump. Being a certified bastard, I wasn't impressed that a top grade actress could deliver an emotional speech. However, what did amaze me was that although Streep's photo was everywhere, the murdered Israeli cadets in Jerusalem had either moved to the bottom of the page, or even off of it.
Three of the four murdered soldiers were young women. The Palestinian reaction was to hand out sweets, and take pride in the attack. While Obama helped legitimize the attack through the UN vote and Kerry's speech, Trump has declared that he will move the embassy to Jerusalem. If he does that, it would be a memorial to those murdered girls.
Jan 9, 2017
The letter from PPL stated that my service would be interrupted on January 5th for six hours, to make improvements or repairs to our lines. I assumed that they had discovered damaged wires or equipment, and that the repair was necessary, to avoid an impending outage. After noticing a string of contractor tree trimming trucks, I made some inquires. Although it only 25 degrees outside, my electric was being turned off for routine tree maintenance, that wasn't done earlier in the season. How inconsiderate is that?
Although, I live in a neighborhood with many trees, in the all years that I've lived here, they have never before cut the power to trim the trees. It is not a densely populated area, so I suppose we didn't rate much consideration. Save for this blog, perhaps there were no other complaints. Most of the residents probably have no idea that the outage was for such an arbitrary reason. They might even think that PPL had their back, with some pro-active repair. Their taped message after the power was restored at 3:15 pm, stated that the cause of the outage was equipment maintenance, and that 137 customers were affected. In addition to being unnecessarily inconvenienced for almost a full day, they will consume extra energy bringing their house back to temperature. Those residents with electric heat or heat pumps, will have to pay a premium for their discomfort. They will have to tip their abuser.
Jan 8, 2017
Jan 6, 2017
Readers of this blog know that I'm upset about what little value history is given in this community. Yesterday's Morning Call story on the Lehigh Valley Trust Bank building goes a step farther, and significantly alters the story of an important structure. After reading the Morning Call article, one would think that the bank closed, Abe Atiyeh purchased it and then sold it to the Jaindls, who are now opening an event center after restoration. The real story is so different, I can only conclude that this current article was only meant as another NIZ promotion, not a serious background of the building.
When the building was purchased by Seigfried Braun, unmentioned in the article, it had been modernized. He and his family spend years and most of their assets lovingly restoring it. The famed skylight and other adornments were covered over decades earlier, by a massive new lowered ceiling. What you see now is the fruit of his labor. Restoring the skylight alone took over a year. In addition to that bank, he also purchased the Dime Bank and the Elks Club. The Dime Bank has now been incorporated into the new Renaissance Hotel. The Elks Club was demolished to make way for J.B. Reilly's aborted massive Two Towers project.
Unfortunately, illness forced Mr. Braun to quickly sell these significant structures for pennies on the dollar, to Abe Atiyeh. We should thank Braun for saving these magnificent structures. Although, I like to think that my local political opinions have merit, my better calling is to defend and advocate for local historical structures, when I have the needed endurance. Meanwhile, I use this blog to present local history, and occasionally point out misconceptions about it.
This piece was inadvertently posted for several minutes yesterday during revisions.
This piece was inadvertently posted for several minutes yesterday during revisions.