Oct 7, 2015

Allentown As A Bustling Downtown

Just as people who visit Disneyland know that they're not really in the west or the future, visitors to downtown Allentown know that it's really not bustling. Bustling was a gift word bestowed on J.B. Reilly's City Center Public Tax Funded Empire, by The Morning Call. The Morning Call itself is struggling. Yesterday, their mother ship The Tribune Corporation, offered a buyout plan to it's senior workers. Unfortunately, most of the people at the paper are just a little too young to retire, and too old to land somewhere else. Most will pass on the offer, hoping to keep their seat when the musical chairs start playing again. In the meantime, we readers will be treated to words like bustling, even as reality starts to set in, before the paint is  dry on the new restaurant walls. While Grain opens this week, the pickings are slow at Roar. Too many restaurants already for the thin event schedule, and quick lunch times available for the imported office workers. J.B. will have to again prime the pump with another round of gift cards for the esteemed office workers. The Morning Call will have to review another restaurant, and coin yet another word describing excitement at Allentown's Disneyland.

Oct 6, 2015

Allentown's WPA Watchmen

Being a self appointed watchman over Allentown's WPA structures is an act in frustration. Since I started posting about the neglect of the structures in 2008, I have seen nothing of substance done. Actually, besides the steps at Irving Park being rebuilt, I have seen nothing done at all. While rebuilding that small staircase was positive, many negatives occurred in the meantime. The meantime has been over seven years. Also in the meantime, another set of steps were removed from Irving Park. The staircase at Union Terrace is deteriorating to the point where that structure is in jeopardy. The repair to a remaining staircase at Irving was done with a $25,000 grant from the Trexler Trust. In the last seven years, the park department's budget has been over $25 million dollars. The playground at Cedar Beach cost $1 million. Pawlowski has rejected my offer to be a liaison on behalf of the WPA structures. I'm pictured above standing over the former WPA wall, after it collapsed this summer, closing Lehigh Parkway's classic entrance. This city's history and future are tied to our park system and other quality of life issues, not just some private/public new buildings. I know there's no big money or national attention to be gained in fixing an old wall, but we have a responsibility to the things which made this city unique.

Oct 5, 2015

Mr. Pawlowski, Build Up This Wall

From a distance, the double stairwell off of St. Elmo Street, down into Union Terrace, looks pretty good. As you get closer, the disrepair becomes more apparent. The neglect and demise of this icon is nothing new, I have been writing about it for years. Union Terrace was the last major park developed by the WPA, and without a doubt, the most ambitious. The amphitheater and raised stage is separated by the Cedar Creek, an incredible symphony of landscape design. The park is now called Joseph Daddona Terrace, but I always use the original names, they have more meaning and history. The top of the main wall of the staircase is missing numerous cap stones. As this winter weather begins, water will seep down into the middle of the wall and freeze. This freezing and expansion cycle can destroy the irreplaceable wall in short order. Let us hope that a city with a $billion dollars of new development can find a few dollars to seal the top of this wall.

reprinted from November of 2014

ADDENDUM: Although, I have been writing about the need for maintenance at Union Terrace for years, the above post appeared last November, under the title, Emergency At Union Terrace. Unfortunately, since then not only has nothing been done, but the condition of the structure has significantly deteriorated. The flagstone on the landings has become dislodged. Pieces of the flagstone and stones from the wall, are being strewn about in the park. I have serious doubts if the wall can survive another winter, as water seeps down from the open top,  freezes and expands during the cold weather. If this irreplaceable structure is to be saved, the city must act now.

ADDENDUM:Earlier this morning I first titled this post, Ms. Taylor, Build Up This Wall. Lindsay Taylor is the current park director. I have decided instead to address the post to Mayor Pawlowski. Mr. Pawlowski has cut many ribbons opening businesses that have come and gone. Let up hope that he will turn his attention to a imperiled structure, that has graced Allentown since 1939. Let us hope that there was a lesson learned from the collapse of the WPA wall in Lehigh Parkway.

Oct 2, 2015

Nonsense In Allentown's Future

Above is some nonsense on Charlie Thiel's facebook page, about the American Parkway Bridge. By November, drivers will be able to travel on one road from the east side of Allentown, a baseball throw from Coca-Cola Park, to the city’s bustling downtown. Last year, I did a series of posts on Allentown's next mayor, in which I featured Sam Bennett and Charlie Thiel. This of course was well before the FBI visited the city's bustling downtown, and the reality that a new mayor will be coming sooner than later. Since then, Sam Bennett has been silent on all issues, except for fabricating a role in West Park's Historic District history, that she had no part of. Charlie, on the other hand, has become such a cheerleader of Allentown's nonsense, that he also has no credibility.

I've never seen Allentown's bustling downtown, but since I'm on Hamilton Street between 5th and 10th most days, perhaps Charlie can show it to me sometime. In the meantime, despite The Morning Call, Sam Bennett or Charlie Thiel, welcome to the real Allentown, as showcased at molovinsky on allentown.

Oct 1, 2015

Pennsylvania, A State Of Thieves

Back in July, I reported how the state was stealing from drivers at the Pocono turnpike exchange. By installing an EZ Pass only exit at the popular destination, and charging $65 per pop, per vehicle, the state has been making $150,000 a week at that point of robbery. It's been so lucrative, that the state will now duplicate the crime on both ends of the turnpike; At the Delaware crossing into New Jersey and at the western side, with Ohio. Welcome to Pennsylvania.  Meanwhile, back in Harrisburg, our visionary with the beard, has vetoed the stop gap budget presented by the  State House, forcing local school systems to issue bonds,  incurring more interest and debt payments.  A sorry state indeed.

Sep 30, 2015

Morning Call Catches Up To Molovinsky On Neuweiler

On Sunday, The Morning Call had an article that Ruckus Brewing was much less than previously presented, but they didn't mention their previous puffing.  Over two years ago, I reported that they were in reality a couple of young guys, with a rented office in NYC, who had purchased the former Reading Brewery Label, and contracted out the limited beer production. Recently, columnist Bill White defended the paper's reporting, and tried to marginalize this blog by not even referring to it by name. Although Ruckus had no actual brewing experience, and no real estate experience, they were given the option on the Neuweiler property, and a $34 million dollar plan in taxpayer NIZ funding,  to renovate the parcel. Although they had no experience,  they did have a local business agent named Mike Fleck. The paper previously gushed about the coming brewery and pub, regurgitating press releases like they were news. Recently, I reprinted one of my Ruckus/Neuweiler posts, and low and behold, The Morning Call now had a Sunday feature. But even fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare said,  But they had more details.  I reported two months ago that in fact they were  mickey mouse, with only a single distributor in Pennsylvania.  Bernie was impressed because the Morning Call printed the name of the distributor, which I had chose not to.  In reality, there wasn't one more pertinent detail in the paper's story than mine, written two months earlier.

I'll leave the regurgitated press releases to the paper.  I'll leave Bernie worshipping those details which pad out articles into longer features.  I will continue to distill reality from promotion in Allentown, and give the news in small shots, to discriminating readers. Comments will remain moderated, restricted to additional insights.  molovinsky on allentown will remain a craft blog,  in an ever more crass environment.

Sep 29, 2015

Today's Take Away From Yesterday's Walkout

As I revealed on this blog yesterday, and picked up today by Bernie O'Hare in his posting, Michael Frassetto has a reputation of being an excellent teacher. Never the less, a comment from Bernie's post yesterday states;
The students who fell for the charlatan Falsetto's insane rantings were simply looking for a reason to cut class. Pure and simple. None of them were serious students, just like their Pied Piper was a lousy teacher and got dismissed from a charter school position where even the worst teachers survive.
Frassetto was not a lousy teacher, and taught at Roberto Clemente several years, where he started United Youth Party. Until yesterday, that organization was only associated with positive work, involving youth participation in several notable projects. Many teachers at the charter schools are excellent educators. Likewise, I'd bet that some of the kids partaking in the walkout are indeed good students. It's easy to generalize and spout off like Bernie's anonymous commentator, but in addition to being misinformed, it can be counter productive. Frassetto certainly does has a flaw, he's too much an activist for the comfort of the administrators above him. However, to totally dismiss an action involving so many students, can only further alienate them. Although I totally reject the protester's formal demands, and many of them may indeed be underachievers, it is therefore even more incumbent upon Allentown to somehow make this experience more than just another negative for the district.

UPDATE:  I've been informed that the 3th walkout, for today Wednesday Sept. 30th, has been cancelled.

Sep 28, 2015

The Academy of Vindictive Arts

A rather ugly picture is emerging about the demonstration at the Allentown School Board meeting Thursday evening. From a report by Jacqueline Palochko of The Morning Call, we learn that protest leader, Michael Frassetto, was coaching kids for the protest during school time at the Medical Academy Charter High School, where he teaches. In trying to explain away distasteful videos on his facebook page, he clearly indulges in double talk. The article mentions that Jose Rosado is CAO of the that school, but omits Rosado's background. He was terminated by the Allentown School District as principal of it's alternative high school, and subsequently filed a lawsuit, claiming that minorities were unjustly sent to the alternative school. Minorities are the majority in the Allentown high schools,  so why not in the alternative school?  I have an issue with these discrimination type lawsuits.  Truth be told, minorities have a leg up getting hired, but never complain of discrimination on that end of the contract. If Rosado is the CAO, Abe Atiyeh might be the Provost, in that he apparently owns all the buildings housing the charter schools. Frassetto, rejected by employment by the Allentown School District, defends his coaching as a teachable moment, and Rosado claims that he wasn't aware of Frassetto's protest coaching. One would think that in a small charter school, that he should be aware of most everything.

Some have speculated that the demonstration and walkout scheduled this week are a concerted business effort to lure students away from the school district and into charter schools. My guess is that it's concerted vindictiveness,  against the Allentown School District. What is apparent is that the Medical Academy is a controversial place of learning. Some of the characters promoting the walkout actually have aliases, criminal records and pending charges.  This is what Frassetto also regards as a teachable moment? I was going to end this post by writing how ironic that parents looking for alternatives, end up sending their children to a place staffed by rejects from the public system, but there's a disclaimer necessary.  I heard that Rosado's trouble with the Allentown administration began because he complained about teacher's speaking despairingly about students.  Even more complicating to my narrative, I heard from a reliable source, that Frassetto is indeed an excellent, dedicated teacher. I conclude that Michael Frassetto has a problem separating his personal activism from his teaching. He's entitled to believe that the Allentown District has issues, but encouraging students to walkout for five days is not in any way educational.

photo of Michael Frassetto by Harry Fisher/The Morning Call

Sep 25, 2015

Armstrong On Demonstration At School Board

A lesson in anger and fraud was on display at tonight’s school board meeting. District students, offered free food if they showed up, were then riled up by an adult charlatan protest leader and directed to focus their energy and anger on the supposed injustices perpetrated by the Allentown School District, its board, and superintendent. This, they proceeded to do with great dispatch, banging on the Administration building’s picture windows and chanting very loudly. It was real sound and fury. The press and police were there in force. The leader of this group, who was clearly hoping to make a name for himself, was allowed to address the board. He used the opportunity to make thinly veiled threats and present himself as a great leader. I heard this from the hall as I was unwilling to be part of his audience. He is an opportunist, but the opportunity was created by Mayor Ed Pawlowski and his agents who discredited the district as part of their campaign to gain control of the board. With the FBI’s focus on the mayor, that plans seems to be in jeopardy, but the damage has been done to the district and yes, to the city itself. This protest is bad news for who, in the suburbs, will watch this and say, yes, let’s move our family to Allentown. Well done, Ed Pawlowski and all those who participated in his scheme to selfishly besmirch the ASD. Tonight was the first fruit of that effort.
                                   Scott Armstrong

ADDENDUM: The above first person account of the last night's school board meeting is by Scott Armstrong,  current board member and candidate for reelection in November.  Accounts of the meeting by the Express Times ,  WFMZ and The Morning Call paint a rather raucous event.  Protest organizer and charter school teacher, Michael Frassetto, would better serve students by encouraging them to go early, and stay late, rather than participate in his scheduled walkout.  It appears as if teacher union leader Debra Tretter could have separated her lack of contract grievance more from the other protest.  Likewise, former board member Holly Edinger appeared to put a political agenda ahead of the student's best interests.

Sep 24, 2015

Allentown News and molovinsky on allentown

Today, I was going to do another Yom Kippur post, this time on the 1973 war in Israel. On October 6th, Yom Kippur in 1973, 500 Israeli soldiers defending the Sinai, were attacked by 80,000 Egyptians. Instead, I'm going to write about a really surprised and outnumbered group, the Allentown taxpayers. Although, I would prefer to concentrate on the progress of the baby ducks at Cedar Park, Bernie O'Hare and Bill White compel me to indulge in this political stuff, as Emma of Allentown's past would say.

Today, O'Hare at Ramblings, writes about the NIZ not being accountable, if he only knew to what extent. In my recent sit down with Alan Jennings, he had the same complaint, and he's on the NIZ board. With passing through over $30 million in state tax dollars each year to J.B. Reilly, that amount exceeds the budget of many Lehigh Valley municipalities. It's ironic that the ethics of Kathleen Kane are being are scrutinized, when the state has neither a budget, or one responsible representative in Harrisburg. To heighten the irony, we have the largest full time statehouse in the country, or in other words, the most crooks.

While all this is going on, Bill White is emailing me, that my comment to his recent article, about how good the Morning Call coverage of the NIZ is, must have been deleted by an automatic program, which hunts and deletes inappropriate words. I suppose that telling the truth about Allentown's Revitalization is inappropriate.

So my friends, you are truly under served by me, who prefers to write about the WPA walls in Lehigh Parkway. You are also left uninformed by the Morning Call, which insists that it's cheerleading for Reilly's empire is actually hard news.

Sep 22, 2015

Yom Kippur 1965

Scott Armstrong, Magnet For Controversy

Of all the candidates running for Allentown school board in November, and there was perhaps the largest primary field in Allentown's history last May, none is more controversial than Scott Armstrong. The irony is that none of the candidates are more plain spoken and straight forward than Scott. In a city dominated by liberal Democrats, a conservative Republican becomes a lightening rod. Armstrong actually criticizes the teacher's union for their contract demands, and defends the superintendent. Here's a sample of the current frenzy worked up about Armstrong.
I think that fellow incumbent Scott Armstrong is a right-wing extremist who is not only racially divisive but an obstructionist to getting anything done by the rest of the board. He creates such a toxic environment at school board meetings that I cringe just being in the same room with him. He is not only not a part of the solution, but also he is a big part of the problem on the ASD Board, and he has to go.
The above slur appeared on facebook. For two terms now, defeating Armstrong has actually been a campaign theme for some candidates. As an writer on Allentown, and politically independent, I could endorse no better candidate than Armstrong. He's a home owner near Allen high, sent his kids there, and has been involved in every aspect of Allentown School District for the last decade.

It's going to be a knock down race this November. Ce-Ce Gerlach has developed nothing less than a grass roots machine. Charlie Thiel, first part of the Pawlowski chosen slate, has been positioning himself for the post Pawlowski period in the local Democratic machine.  But only Armstrong, truly represents the taxpayer with no ambition beyond the school board.

Readers of this blog know that in addition to addendum's and updates, I also do unannounced rewrites. Consequently, the post you read at 7:30 AM, may be quite different than the version at 5:30PM. This post may well become part of that category.

Sep 21, 2015

Allentown's Deluded Of The Month

I'm not sure who's more deluded this month, Mayor Ed Pawlowski, or Morning Call columnist Bill White. Since Pawlowski got visited by the FBI, he can't get enough of the little people. He's been attending little hispanic churches and posing with center city children. Two months ago, he was dining in NYC, and bending arms for campaign contributions. Ed's fall came from simple greed. Years ago he spend over a $million in taxpayer money to make City Hall user friendly. This year, he and his campaign manager instead conspired to sell access to him and city hall, quite a difference. Truth be told, Pawlowski and Fleck had nothing to do with the arena and that NIZ $billion of taxpayer money, so they went for their own little taste.

Bill White is offended because the blogs have reported that both he and his paper have been lite on scrutiny of the mayor and Allentown's Revitalization. Although he wrote an article detailing his and the paper's articles, he didn't mention these blogs by name. When I filled in the names of those blogs, he deleted the comment. Another truth be told, there has been nothing written or revealed of substance about the NIZ, which did not appear first on this blog, including information provided by others in my comment section. The paper was even officially comprised by having their building included in the NIZ, when it was the only property on north side of Linden Street included. Now, that would be something for Bill to write about.

ADDENDUM: Bill White states by email that he did not delete my comment on mcall.   He states that there is an automatic program, which deletes comments which contain offensive words. There were no such words in my comment, and it was deleted, within 24 hours.

screen grab from Pawlowski's facebook page, which is now a study in humility. 

Sep 18, 2015

A Fib and A Truth In Allentown

In a recent piece, Bill Kitten White explained that although the paper may have fibbed once or twice about Mayor Pawlowski, they are telling the truth about the NIZ, and it's wonderful. As if on cue, today's paper states that the Reillyville restaurants are preparing for the 10,000 Men Unity Conference at PPL Center on Saturday. After getting past the headline, and reading the article, Shula's better hold off on ordering more steaks, but perhaps Chickie's and Pete's might need a few more hot dogs, but I doubt even that. We find out that 3,000 tickets have been distributed, but the organizers are hopeful that more men attend. It's intent is to encourage men to fulfill their obligations, in regard to family and children. As if the restaurant bull wasn't enough, the article explains that a number of rooms at the new Renaissance Hotel have been set aside. Since they go for about $200 a night, those men would be better off saving that money for their children. Did I forget to mention that Ed Pawlowski is going to the event. He said that "It's important to take a step back from all the distractions in our lives...". Wonder what's distracting him?

ADDENDUM: Bill White's piece does NOT concede any fibbing about Pawlowski,  and defends it's coverage of the NIZ. It does take molovinsky and Ramblings to task, (but not by name) for our  criticism of the Morning Call coverage. Although White claims that the paper broke numerous stories, he omits the fact that his paper has never given attribution to this blog, for the stories broken here.  I found  White's version of the paper's coverage so distorted, I must have hallucinated that he admitted fibbing.

ADDENDUM 2: At the carnival, when you spin sugar fast enough, it becomes cotton candy. Likewise, when the paper indulges in spinning an event, especially to an absurd degree,  (such as this Unity event,)  it does become a fib.

UPDATE: Bill White deleted my comment off his mcall article,  criticizing him for not mentioning this blog by name.  Furthermore,  today(September 20th), a year late, the Morning Call finally gets around to reporting that the Allentown Arena was the most expensive arena ever built.

Sep 17, 2015

Rumble At the Reagan Library

As a conservative independent, I have no use for Hillary Clinton, and less for Bernie Sanders. Even though I'll be late opening the bakery this morning, I stayed up last night and watched the debate. I was actually more impressed with the undercard. Sans Santorum, Pataki, Jindal and Graham were compelling. But, as Marshall McLuhan said, the medium is the message, and those gentlemen, relegated to the second tier in the second debate, are no longer part of the medium.

 On the main card, the overly crowded field was almost like cage wrestling, too many people vying for camera time. In that regard, I felt that CNN had the camera on Trump a disportioncate amount of time. For foreign policy geeks, hearing that Trump will surround himself with experts, as opposed to being one, must be excruciatingly painful. I believe that if Marco Rubio could make himself appear older, he would be a real contender. I might send him some of my gray hair dye, it has helped me looked more distinguished. Getting back to McLuhan, Trump may have again stole the show by default. Although Jeb Bush was more aggressive, he only managed to play into Trump's portrayal of him as unenergetic. In that regard, Ben Carson appears to be self medicated. The other doctor, Rand Paul, also cannot shed the Trump barbs. Huckabee has cast himself more as a pastor than a viable politician. Both the governors, Walker and Kasich, failed to stand out. Ted Cruz presented himself well, but the media has marginalized him as too right for America. Although Christie held his own, he still looks like he caused that traffic jam at the bridge, trying to get to the donut shop before it closed. Certainly, Carly Fiorina also held her own, but I don't think that she has enough spunk to break through this large men's field.

I'm back to Marshall McLuhan and the persuasive media. If Trump produces some commercials which succeed in adding some world expertise to augment his bravado, the White House might become the next reality show.

Sep 16, 2015

Abuse At Cedar Park

After the previous park director, John Mikowychok, was here only three weeks, he endorsed the Wildlands Conservancy demolishing the Robin Hood Dam. To add insult to injury, he allowed them to pile the destroyed dam rubble around the stone piers of the Robin Hood Bridge, depreciating the beauty of a view enjoyed by generations of Allentonians. I told Mikowychok at the time, that however long he stays in Allentown, he will never climb out of the hole in damage he allowed. As it turned out, he  stayed only about a year.  The new park director, Lindsay Taylor, has already dug her self a rut. This past weekend, after last Thursday's rain flooded Cedar Park, the heavy support and supply trucks for Artsfest rutted the soft park ground. The ArtsFest is a nice event, but it's held in the wrong place. It's the wrong place for the overused and abused park, and it's the wrong place for the arts festival. It should be held in an urban environment, downtown. It could be a real boost for center city, either on Hamilton Street, or by the Alternative Art Gallery, on N. 4th Street.

The festival was held in area much larger than necessary to accommodate the event, and it rained two more times during the festival. Consequently, the large box and flatbed trucks necessary to supply and support the event did extensive damage to the park.  I do not blame the organizers of ArtsFest in any way.  There's a long history of such events in the park section east of Ott Street.  However, this is the first such event held west of Ott, in the Rose Garden section of the park.   Although this western section has been used before, it was confined to spill over from Sportsfest, and involved only golf cart type vehicles. The combination of soggy ground and heavy trucks produced 12" ruts through out the park. It will take the park department no less than $30,000 in material and manpower to restore the area,  assuming that they do. This is the good news, the bad is that nobody, save this blogger, may care. The Morning Call mentioned nothing of the damage in their review about the festival.  I know that Mayor Pawlowski didn't care about the parks before his own current problems, neither did City Council.

At the very least, as long as the park department is going to allow such events and damage in the parks,  they should have a designated park for such fairground type use.  That park should have an area which stays dry from creek flooding.  It's time for the Department of Parks and Recreation to show more respect for the classic beauty of Allentown's parks.

photograph by Harry Fisher/The Morning Call

Sep 15, 2015

The Betrayal Of Ed Pawlowski

The account in the Morning Call was biblical. A friendship so sincere, that the Pawlowski's trusted their only daughter to his care. But like other another person pure of heart, his great goodness was taken advantage of, he was victimized. In case anybody happen to not understand the sermon, the article spells it out. We learn that Lisa Pawlowski writes on social media, BETRAYED.

Although we can all benefit from a parable now and then, somehow the real victims were overlooked, the citizens of Allentown. If Pawlowski's trust was misplaced, how about the taxpayers. Although it's wonderful that J.B. Reilly's wish-list was fulfilled beyond his wildest expectations, we all have things we would have liked improved in the city. I would have liked if $1.3 million spend on Atiyeh land that we don't need, was used instead to repair the WPA structures. Homeless advocates would like a shelter properly funded and staffed. Better housing advocates would have liked to see more blighted properties rehabilitated.

The Pawlowski's may have been betrayed by Mike Fleck, but there's nothing biblical about them. Local drug dealers and thieves cheat and steal from each other all the time, but the paper doesn't portray them as Robin Hood. Maybe, by the time the whole story is told, the paper will get a grip on itself.

ADDENDUM: This morning, Bill White defends himself and the paper against blogosphere accusations that he and his associates have pampered both Pawlowski and the NIZ. I don't know anybody who reads the blogosphere, but Ramblings and molovinsky are widely read. Yes Bill, the paper has been late to the game. The Raid On City Hall could not be glossed over, but you're still promoting Reillyville like it's news. You need only look at this weekend's coverage of the Artswalk.

Sep 14, 2015

The Synagogues Of Jerusalem

Except when barred by one conqueror or another, Jews had lived in Jerusalem since King David. Prior to Jordanian rule in 1948, there was a Jewish majority for 150 years. In 1864, eight thousand of the fifteen thousand population was Jewish. By 1914, two thirds of the sixty five thousand residents were Jewish. In 1948 the United Nations Partition Plan divided the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Jerusalem was to be initially an international city, with access guaranteed for all. This plan was rejected by the surrounding Arab nations, which attacked Israel in concert immediately upon the UN vote. When the truce was declared, Israel had survived, but East Jerusalem(walled Old City) was in procession of TransJordan. The Jordanians subsequently destroyed over 50 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, which dated back to the 1400's. For hundreds of years both Christians and Jews were prohibited from building higher than Muslim structures. The few synagogues which survived were the ones built mostly below street level. The oldest surviving synagogue, The Jerusalem Synagogue, was built by the Karaite Jews in around 900. Shown above is the Ben Kakai, a Sephardic Synagogue built in the 16th Century.

Perhaps the most famous synagogue destroyed by the Jordanians was the Ashkenazi Hurva Synagogue built in 1720, it's dome visible in the top center of this photograph from the 1920's. It's replacement has just been completed.

reprinted from September of 2010

Sep 11, 2015

She's Not Here Mr. Molovinsky

I don't understand it, every time I stop in to see an Allentown public official, they're not there. Is there something about me? Up to this past July and the FBI Raid At City Hall, I suppose it was my blunt questions and subsequent blunt treatment on this blog that made them hid under the desk, whenever they saw me coming through the door. After the Raid, management was nervous. They knew that they served at the pleasure of a vindictive mayor, but now he was wounded, to boot. Some were afraid that they would end up being scapegoats for whatever accusations were coming down the pike. I can only imagine that yesterday's fear is today's terror. Now there are times, places and their signatures on reports, being used as evidence in a criminal investigation.

Although this blog has pointed out policy flaws since 2007, I never indulged in pay to play speculation. Frankly, despite the current meltdown at city hall, those specifics still don't interest me. I remain focused on policy, and it's effect on the city. Unfortunately, I realize that in this current climate, the bureaucrats could care less about better policy, and will be looking for life preservers. Never the less, I will still be coming through their doors.

Sep 10, 2015

Allentown's Crossing Guard Controversy

This morning we learn from facebook that Pawlowski tried to bully the Allentown School District into paying for the crossing guards. This story, like an onion, has many layers. First, let's look at Bob Smith's statement on his election facebook page. 
I have been a school board director for 12 years. President of the board the last 4 years. And I have always worked hard for the tax payers of Allentown. Today I had a meeting with the mayor, city solicitor, assistant chief, city council president ,superintendent of Asd and school solicitor. The mayor wanted the school district to take over crossing guards and pay half the costs. They showed a statute that says school district must pay half if no other agreement could be reached. I heard too much talk about the school district taking over and said the school district will not take this over as this is public safety. This should be handled by the city not the school district. We would contribute toward costs but we do not know what we are getting from the state and I would need to talk to the whole board as well. Not to mention we already voted on our current budget. Mayor wanted us to open our budget. Then it happened, everything about pay to play came to my mind but in this case pay or lose your SRO officers in our school buildings. The mayor said if we did not pay he would pull all Sro officers from our school buildings. I blew my top and said do not threaten me or the school district. This was blackmail, a threat, strong arming and bullying. I will not be blackmailed, strong armed or bullied into making any deal that hurts our taxpayers, students or our staff. We offered 100,000. To start work on a plan to help hire crossing guards. We would need to wait and see what our state funding is and time to talk to the whole board on this.The mayor rejected this good faith offer, I'm very disappointed in him today. Now I see what contractors must have gone through. The mayor also threatened to sue us. We will continue to work with the city and help where we can but if the mayor wants to fight and blackmail us on the safety of our students and staff that is a fight I will gladly take defending with all my being to protect our students, teachers and all our taxpayers. I think we need to ask where all that money for water went that the city budget is so tight. I do not work for the mayor and he threatened the wrong person today. I will continue to defend the taxpayers and will not be bullied, blackmailed or threatened by him or anybody else. I post this so the public knows the truth. The school district will work together with the city despite what happened today but will not take over the crossing guards and will pay something we can afford not what the mayor demands.
I have no issue with Bob's reaction to the bully tactic by Pawlowski, but must note that other school board members were asked not to go public with this development. Another layer on this story is Pawlowski's attempt last spring to load the school board with his chosen picks, through the Citizens For A Better Allentown PAC. After the FBI raid, those endorsed tried to separate themselves from the taint, but that dye still sticks. Another layer is that the Allentown budget supposedly has a $9 million dollar fund gap, which precipitated Pawlowski's strong arming of the school board. So much for the water and sewage lease being a silver bullet.

This story is also being covered by Bernie O'Hare at Ramblings.

Another Department of Parks and Recreation Failure

Ever since Pawlowski's first term, when the Park and the Recreation Departments were merged, our parks have been administered by those with a background in recreation, who have little regard for the parks in themselves. The consequence of this emphasis has been a disaster on the iconic park system. They are just seen as a venue to hold one event after another. Up to this year, not one dollar had been spend on the WPA structures, which anchor every park. Even the traditional recreational assets have been neglected, such as the swimming pools. In 2004, the Trexler Trust commissioned a masterplan for the park system. One of the main conclusions of that expensive report (over $100,000.00) was that Cedar Park was being overused. Unfortunately, we're on our third park director since Mr. Ed's arrival, and that report has been ignored.

This week and weekend the west side of Cedar Park is fenced off to accommodate the Allentown ArtsFest, the alternative kind. Among the alternatives are graffiti, which was left behind on park facilities after last year's event. The park really doesn't need another event. It should have been scheduled for Hamilton Street, which is a ghost town on weekends anyway. It's placement in the park is a failure of both the park department and planning at city hall. Hopefully, when Pawlowski is finally carted away, a new mayor with local roots, will insist on a park department policy more considerate of the traditional park system.

ADDENDUM: Friday Sept.11th. Although I felt that this event should not have been scheduled in the park, the organizers are now dealing with some misfortune. Yesterday's rain flooded the section of the park where they are set up. That may well be another consequence a new park director from out of town, and her staff not familiar with the park system. The area selected for the ArtsFest is the low ground, which always floods in heavy rain.

poster by Steven Leibensperger

Sep 9, 2015

Sitting Down With Alan Jennings

I sat down with Alan Jennings yesterday, to discuss some of the criticism coming his way from comments on this blog. He wanted to elaborate on his proposed Inclusionary Housing Policy for the Neighborhood Improvement Zone. Generally, it's the hubris of people of influence to think that if you don't agree with their proposal, you must not fully understand it.  As if on cue,  Jennings started out by handing me a printout of his proposal; Introduction-The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority is dedicated to vibrant, diverse communities where parents can spend time with their children...blah, blah,blah.   In the proposal's details, in addition to making a percentage of the units affordable (5 to 10%), the developer can opt-out, by creating the affordable units elsewhere in the city. These would have to be either through  the Allentown Housing Authority, or any non-profit organization selected by ANIZDA, which is the NIZ board. An obvious question would be if this non-profit would happen to also be Alan's organization? I upped the ante on Alan, and suggested my own molovinsky opt-out recommendation for future apartments in Allentown. As one of my readers recently noted, and I had stated in previous posts,  Allentown apparently already has too much affordable housing.  I believe that Allentown could really improve itself by insisting that builders can only develop new units, by eliminating an equal number of distressed existing units. In a city where many row houses sell for only $20 thousand and less, that would not be an unrealistic burden. After all, if the new units are going to be truly upscale, what's 20K more? Anyway, enough Molovinsky, back to Jennings.

Even though I put aside his printout without looking at it,  Jennings was very open to my questions.   He thinks that people who criticize him for being so corporate, don't understand his strategy for successfully helping people.  He believes that he must interact with the movers and shakers, if he and his organization are going to have the ways and means  to benefit the community.  He defended his falling out with CUNA as having offered that organization his inside status, to achieve the same goals for Allentown's less fortunate. He had requested to be on the NIZ board, through his friendship and rapport with Ed Pawlowski. He claims that his real concern is not the NIZ district itself, but how it affects the greater surrounding neighborhood. He sees himself not as another human services guy, but as an economic developer, for the underclass. He believe that the best way to improve poor intercity neighborhoods is to help the most ambitious of those residents achieve ownership, so that they stay there, and help improve the area, instead of just moving up and out. He seems introspective and somewhat realistic about the NIZ and Allentown. Realism is a relative term, needless to say, he doesn't have my view on things. On the other hand, he is willing to submit himself to a critical blogger like myself,  he called me,  albeit with an agenda.  He offered that I should call him if I have further concerns about anything,  I won't.  He will have to read about them here, just like everybody else.

Sep 8, 2015

Small Town Pizza Blogger

The comment was sent yesterday to an older blog post from July; Pennsylvania, A State Of Corruption. The comment, sent through a second person, details alleged corruption by a local police officer, with a background story spanning two decades. After reading the allegation, I forwarded it to Bernie at Ramblings. He claims to be a genuine reporter, award winning, no less. Me, I'm just a small town pizza blogger. Now, I don't mind trying to save a dam or wall, and calling a few officials irresponsible in the process. Hell, I'll even suggest that the mayor and the police chief should leave Dodge. But, when it comes to a specific incident of corruption against an individual, I'll leave that to others, who purport to tackle such issues. In addition to the other blogger, I forwarded the comment to several reporters with local news outlets. If you also have such an allegation, please send it somewhere else, I'm just a small town pizza blogger.

small town pizza blogger trying to save WPA wall in 2013

Sep 7, 2015

Pawlowski and the Little People

Lately, I noticed on facebook, that Ed Pawlowski has started attending littler events, such as a small hispanic church picnic. Understand that if Mayor Ed had his choice, he still would be a candidate for the United States Senate, and not the object of an FBI investigation. He still might had,  under the prior scenario, attended a mega congregation picnic, but previously he didn't have interest in the small fry stuff. Why now is Ed showing up at the munchkin events? Does he want to say he got religion as part of his future defense? Naw, he always had big church religion. Beyond the obvious, that his personal cache has depreciated, he might be trying to cultivate a Marion Barry constituency. When the Washington mayor got popped for cocaine, his followers still elected him. I think that the taint from the Raid On City Hall has made bigger office, or big appointments, on the state or federal level, a goal no longer attainable. Perhaps Ed sees being Mayor For Life now as his best shot, supported by the little people, more tolerant of legal scrapes.

Sep 4, 2015

A Blogging Dilemma

Sometimes Bernie and I wonder who is the bigger bastard, him or me? I suppose it depends on the story. Neither of us pulls punches, but we operate differently. Bernie has some pets, me, I don't like anybody. On the other hand, I don't go to court or send anybody to prison. Another difference is how we handle comments. On Ramblings, comments appear instantly, often encouraging chatting between his readers. Here, because I must first approve the comment, they often sit overnight, from early evening to early morning. This morning, there was over a dozen comments waiting, which bashed Alan Jennings, none of which will appear. Now, I don't mind anybody being blunt and insulting, but doing it anonymously, that's just too easy. Another issue with anonymous comments are their accuracy. On another subject, I opened a comment this morning about the Trexler Trust. It began explaining that the General didn't particularly like the WPA structures. Trexler was killed in an automobile accident in 1933, the WPA construction began in 1935. If you're going to send a vicious comment, light on fact, send it to Bernie.

Molovinsky receiving license to blog, currently valid in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, District Of Columbia, and Florida

Sep 3, 2015

Getting Real About The NIZ and Affordable Housing

Alan Jennings has proposed that 20% of units in new luxury NIZ housing be put aside for low income. Sy Taub believes that now is not the right time. Both Alan and Sy can relax, the low income aspect is already built in. When Reilly built the new Renaissance Hotel, he condemned the Holiday Inn, at 9th and Hamilton, to become a flop house. Furthermore, despite the Morning Call's hype, the Strata Flats will be moderate housing soon enough. Lets be real, both the downtown and the building itself, lack the ambience to succeed with upscale urban dwellers.

Also, while I'm taking the Morning Call to task, here's another problem with today's article. The Morning Call keeps using Alan Jennings and Ce-Ce Gerlach has their go to people for these articles. There are plenty of other critics available in regard to the NIZ. Ce-Ce is a candidate for election in two months. It is a distinct disadvantage to the other candidates that Ms. Gerhart is mentioned, over and over again.

photograph of Millennial Prison Courtyard by The Morning Call

Sep 2, 2015

Truth, Justice and the American Way Can Offend In Allentown

I got into an argument with one of my readers yesterday, on the Deleted By Pawlowski post. Seems that he's a cyclist who insists that Lehigh Parkway hasn't lost users, despite it's primary entrance off South Jefferson Street being closed. In the heat of the debate, I mentioned spandex and helmets; He was offended. Over the years I cultivated many new readers. Back, before he probably knew of this site, I opposed the Trail Network Plan, which was to link the parks together with a bike path. My objection was based on priorities. I felt that the park department should first be taking care of it's existing infrastructure, such as the WPA structures, and the Fountain Park Pool. It was at that time I started writing that the park director had to do more than think about the spandex crowd. Well, three parks directors later, the WPA entrance wall at Lehigh Parkway has collapsed, and I offend my reader by referring to spandex and helmets. Also since then, a second new park director told city council that the Basin Street parcel purchased from Atiyeh, was needed to link the parks together, parks that he hadn't even seen yet. Recently, the third new park director, told the press that she knows nothing about that plan. So, my offended reader, now you know the history of my spandex slur. While $1.5 million dollars was spend, justified by something nobody remembers, not one dollar has been spent on the WPA, or the pools. Anyway, back to my disgruntled reader. I also explained that I produce this blog to fill an ever increasing void in local truth, available to people interested in things beyond the available A-Treat flavors. In the course of this endeavor, I will unfortunately offend some people.

Sep 1, 2015

Informercial At The Morning Call

The advertisement for the Strata Flats apartments was on Sunday's front page, New Luxury Strata Flats Filling Up Fast.  That's now you merchandize apartments in a new complex,  get yours quick, before it's too late.  There was just one problem, it wasn't an advertisement, it was article, presented as news.  Being familiar with the rental dynamics of Allentown, I did my own research. After waiting 30 minutes outside the entrance to the Strata above Shula's, and being careful not to hum Barbara Ann, finally a person came  out.  He was a genuine Millennial.  New to area, he moved in three weeks ago. Although happy with the apartment, he has hardly seen nobody else in the building, although the leasing agent told me that it was filling up fast.   He was surprised that they pro-rated August's rent, and charged him no security deposit or last month's rent.  Furthermore,  although new construction, they allowed his dog.  Nothing about his experience indicates that the apartments are renting very well, much less almost rented up. The article even said that demand is so high, that J.B. Reilly might have to fast track his other planned apartment buildings.  Observing the outside balcony's facing 7th Street, charming view indeed, it appears that several of the porches have been staged.  Staging is when the owner puts  in furniture to make it look attractive, or in this case, occupied. I fully understand Reilly hyping the apartments as renting like hot-cakes, but for the Morning Call to participate in the ruse, is sad indeed. But,  I suppose that's why people are clicking here for the some honestly, a commodity in short supply in Allentown.

ADDENDUM: The same reporter who wrote the Strata story, Scott Kraus, today has a story on the business page; Two Center City Earns Energy Star Rating. In this latest puff piece, he quotes Reilly's manager, "...City Center's tenants can enjoy lower monthly energy costs." Kraus should decide if he wants to be a reporter or a rental agent, right now he appears to be a shill.

Aug 31, 2015

Deleted By Pawlowski

On Sunday morning, Ed Pawlowski put a sketch of the proposed renovated Cedar Beach Pool on his facebook page. It's actually very nice, I have no issue with the plan. I do, however, have a issue with the misinformation dispensed by him and his administration, about the parks and other aspects of the city. You can no longer see the scene pictured above. The beautiful little Robin Hood Dam in Lehigh Parkway was demolished by the Wildlands Conservancy, and the vantage point from which this photograph was taken, has been closed since the WPA wall collapsed. Neither of these losses was necessary. I unsuccessfully tried to save the WPA dam, and likewise, unsuccessfully, lobbied for repairs to the wall. Some of my efforts concerning our iconic park system are chronicled on a separate facebook page, WPA-Lehigh Valley Save Our Structures.  Pawlowski deleted a comment and link to that page, that I put on his posting.  However, the proof is in the barriers, which block off Lehigh Parkway to thousands of citizens. The city gladly accepted misinformation from the Wildlands, and also dispensed misinformation and excuses concerning the wall. Pawlowski now states that Cedar Beach pool is closed because of a sink hole under the pool. When it was closed earlier this summer, the city then claimed a leak in the filter system. Now, rather than repair it as previously stated, we learn that a whole new plan for the pool was actually in the works.

Although the FBI is annoyed at Pawlowski's style of hiding things from the public,  that  generally doesn't bother me too much. The voters have the corruption, and corresponding rubber stamps that they endorsed, election after election. However, when it comes to the iconic park system, I become agitated. This unique park system was a legacy meant to be passed on to future generations. To me, it's importance is way beyond Pawlowski's pay-grade.

photocredit: molovinsky

Aug 28, 2015

Bill White's Confusion

I had to shake my head reading Bill White's column yesterday. While I often criticize Bill for wasting his bully pulpit on grammar and his reoccurring themes, it's actually better than the revisionism he bestowed upon the Morning Call yesterday.  He wrote, "The Morning Call has focused attention over the years on practices that hinted at pay to play, but those revelations never generated enough heat to trigger legislation or internal reforms." That's news to me Bill, although I realize that the paper has now ended it's eight year  honeymoon with Pawlowski, that only occurred after the recent FBI raid.  By my scorecard, you would have to cite examples of these revelations about pay to play you claim the paper made. Up to recent events, the paper took everything from the Pawlowski Administration at face value.  In reality, the paper, and pardon me for saying, you in particular, were cheerleaders, especially for the NIZ.  You even called me misguided for suggesting that the NIZ was a plan based on layers of inequity; Inequitable to most of the existing businesses in the valley, and segregating against the residents of center city. Although you now write that "Time is running out for politics as usual,"  most of the few local political mavericks have ended up in your Hall Of Shame.  If your memory lapses continue,  you might want to see your physician.

Aug 27, 2015

A-Treat Rules In A-Town

Early last night, outside of Allentown City Hall, I watched activist Robert Trotner plea for Bill 39, the legislation against Pay To Play. Now, if he had been praising one of the reintroduced A-Treat flavors, the public would be interested, but political ethics, not so much. The local media did give coverage to Mr. Trotner and his band of eternal optimists, but compared to A-Treat, it's nothing that the public cares to digest. Here in Allentown, there are priorities and values, and things worth waiting for, like the soda flavors of their youth. Now, eventually the ethics ordinance will pass, and the current administration will be replaced by a cast of new characters. But, what the public really cares about are the important things, like watching the monster trucks in the new arena, while drinking a giant-sized A-Treat.

Aug 26, 2015

Allentown Burns While Pawlowski Fiddles

Is it just me, or is Allentown in a reactive haze? I keep hearing about the cloud over Allentown, since the FBI scrutinized Pawlowski and city hall. The police chief wants to be anywhere, except here. Pawlowski and his company, Allentown city council, say that they can't blame Chief Fritzgerald from striving for upward mobility, but after only two years? We quietly just gave the fire department a new five year contract that has them dancing in their underwear. While they settle for 2% increase in year two, it's 3% yearly thereafter. Since the scant arena schedule has been criticized, the promoter has announced a new monster truck show, and that he will hire additional part-time peanut vendors.

Things are also rough in the blogging business. Yesterday morning, I met Bernie O'Hare and Lou Hershman for what wasn't Breakfast at Tiffany's. After O'Hare called the waitress a bitch, she refused to serve us. After recently noting that Bernie was on the up cycle of his weight swings, a reader accused me of using 20 year old pictures of myself. I'm pictured above two weeks ago in the deep south, with a 1975 Mack fire pumper, which was made in Allentown.

Aug 25, 2015

Allentown City Council

Wednesday night, before a council committee meeting, there is a protest planned against council's slowness to adopt an ordinance against Pay To Play. The protesters shouldn't be too rough on the council, they did take some action, they postponed the committee meeting. It was the Parks and Recreation committee. As a parks activist, I say no loss, they never made a good decision anyway. But, this post is about something else, a police chief who can't wait to get out of Dodge. I thought that Chief Fritzgerald outlived his usefulness when he implied that his son's arrest may have been racial profiling. Ironically, the same high octane Philadelphia lawyer who defended junior Fritzgerald, has now been retained by our mayor. When news broke that senior Fritzgerald was a finalist for a chief job in Kansas, council president Ray O'Connell said that it would be our loss. Ray must be searching for a father figure, because that's a loss we should encourage. We can be sure that the Wichita job isn't the only application that Fritzgerald has submitted. He already has one foot and his brain out the door. The police department's first reaction to the Slam At Shula's was that the singer was being hostile. Understand, that for a quality response like that, we had hired national consultants and spent a year looking before we hired senior. Please spare us such shams in the future, I'd rather that when papa leaves, they just hire junior for chief.

ADDENDUM: The cancelled Parks and Recreation meeting was scheduled for this evening, not Wednesday. Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting has not been cancelled.

Aug 24, 2015

The Morning Call Express

While The Morning Call has thrown Pawlowski under the bus, it continues to puff for the NIZ. A recent article on how the zone is benefiting the surrounding neighborhood was just more smoke coming out of that puff engine. Needless to say, they quote Alan Jennings, their go to person for most articles. Alan's organization has the franchise on community benefit, and of course, therefore, thinks that some good has rained on the local peons. The bureaucracy even produced a webpage, Upside Allentown, complete with pictures of smiling intercity children. In truth, the quality of their life has diminished. They now pay double to park, because of the Arena Excuse. Their former shopping center on Hamilton Street was demolished for that monstrosity, and if real success ever come to the district, they will be gentrified away. Meanwhile, former Mayor For Life is getting run over every time he tries to stand up. How flat can they get Pawlowski? While I no longer contribute letters to the paper,  I do see my ideas from this blog metamorpihize into long articles in the paper. For instance, they now acknowledge that the arena sits there empty, night after night. However, they will never admit that it was just a public pretense for the Reilly City Center Real Estate Empire.

Aug 23, 2015

One Subject, Two Bloggers

Apparently, both Bernie O'Hare and I are posting on the same subject tomorrow.  Bernie's version will historically be viewable by midnight this evening,  while I put up my posts, while pre-heating the ovens in the family bakery,  around 4:00 AM.   Expect Bernie's piece to be longer, and mine,  of course, more insightful.

Aug 21, 2015

Drama At Civic Little Theatre

Architecturally, the 19th Street Theater has no rival. The tile elephant trunks coming down the edges of the facade have delighted viewers since 1928. Up to last year, there was one other Venetian type building in Allentown, in the 700 block of Hamilton, but it was  knocked down to accommodate the arena monstrosity. The 19th Street theater has survived because of it's current affiliation with the Civic Theatre, a non-profit cultural group. Shown above is the Franklin, in the 400 block of Tilghman Street, which survived until 2008. That theater,  built a century ago in 1913,  was also called the Jennette for about forty years.

reprinted from July 2013, then titled, Allentown's Last Movie Theaters

ADDENDUM: When I was a little boy, the Civic Theatre was already putting on productions for both adults and children. As an adult, Barry and Sharon Glassman have been synonymous with the theater's continued vitality. Unfortunately, I have recently received a report that the theater is currently suffering from Founder's Syndrome.
Founder's syndrome is a difficulty faced by many organizations where one or more founders maintain disproportionate power and influence following the effective initial establishment of the project, leading to a wide range of problems for both the organization and those involved in it.
According to this source, half of the staff, and a third of the board, have parted way in protest of the current leadership. I have not investigated this allegation. My gut feeling is that the Glassman's have been the energy and glue which has kept the theater continuously open for the last several decades. I will accept, by moderation, limited comments to this post which may shed light on the current situation.

UPDATE: After several complaints about the current leadership, and requests to provide space for this topic,  not one of the callers has submitted a comment.  Apparently, they wanted me to air their grievances, but they don't want to comment themselves, even anonymously. With that sort of timidity, I don't know how they think that they could run the theater any better.

Aug 20, 2015

Mazziotti Traveling Ethics Show

Last night, the Vic Mazziotti Traveling Ethics Show arrived "fashionably late" to the Allentown City Council, according to Bernie O'Hare. We learn that Pay To Play must be legislated away. I'm not impressed with such proposals, naive me thinks I should be able to take such basic concepts of honesty for granted. Last week, in the comment section of O'Hare's post on Mazziotti's showboat ordinance, I took Vic to task. I think that ethics should be on display in every public decision, and that Vic has been lacking in that department, when it comes to Cedarbrook, the county nursing home. Last year, Mazziotti and his fellow reform slate Republicans rejected the proposal to remodel a wing of Cedarbrook into a rehab center, which is the profitable avenue employed by the industry. Instead, after stalling for a year, they now want to re-employ a former consulting firm to repeat a previous study. Last week, when I suggested that the Reformers were stalling until it's time for the bulldozer, Vic sent a message that I should call him. Apparently, he wanted to send me to the Reeducation Indoctrination Camp, operated by the Reform Team. However, yesterday, even the Morning Call noted the stalling on Cedarbrook. "That quest for knowledge has dragged on for months, and commissioners still find themselves in a fact-finding mode."

Vic was late to council last night because the Commissioners were also conducting their own meeting, on Cedarbrook, to decide what kind of questions they should again ask their rehired consultant. Vic states that "We're making a 25-year decision here." It's unclear if he means that the decision will affect the county for 25 years, or if it will take him 25 years to make the decision. At any rate, it's clear that he doesn't want to make any decision before the election in November. I'm actually being kind. The refurbishment could have been completed already, and Cedarbrook on it's way to being viable. Play to Pay regulations don't impress me,  especially when an elected official still play games with a public trust like Cedarbrook.

Aug 19, 2015

The Livingston Club, Allentown's Benevolent Oligarchy

Back in the day, when the town had three department stores, the major decisions affecting Allentown's future were made at the Livingston Club. Harvey Farr would meet Donald Miller and John Leh at the Club for lunch, and discuss acquiring more lots for Park & Shop. The bank officers of First National and Merchants Bank would discuss loans with the highly successful merchants, many of whom had stores in all three major Lehigh Valley cities. As the heydays winded down, likewise the exit plans were made there. The City of Allentown acquired the Park & Shop lots, becoming the Allentown Parking Authority. Leh's became the Lehigh County Government Center.

The new oligarchy consists of much fewer men, they could all met at a small table in Shula's, and be entertained by watching street people  arrested. The former 1st National Bank location is now a new Reilly building. The former Livingston Club building is now a parking lot, and future site to another Reilly building. Shula's is also a Reilly building....

Aug 18, 2015

The Failure Of Fritzgerald, Allentown's Police Chief

I considered Allentown Police Chief Joel Fritzgerald a failure after he implied that his son's arrest may have been racial profiling. One of the reasons Fritzgerald was hired was to quell such accusations, not make them. I was critical of his hiring, Allentown hasn't had much success with national searches. We even hired out of town professionals to conduct the search, spare us such pageantry. Today, we learn that the police department is defending the treatment of the Shula Singer, because he was hostile. I would imagine that most people arrested are hostile. With lawsuits piling up against Allentown's Police Department, should Fritzgerald be in a double down mode? Don't expect Pawlowski to be tuned into this situation, he has his own legal problems.

Aug 17, 2015

Morning Call's Watchdog Has Doggie Dementia

The Morning Call has been running a series of articles it entitles Watchdog Report. The latest, on Sunday, rehashes the Atiyeh parcels, purchased by Allentown last year, supposedly for the park system. Associate blogger Bernie O'Hare, reminds us that he connected the dots between the purchase and Atiyeh's billboard company, last week. The Morning Call article also omits the fact that the purchase was first reported here, on molovinsky on allentown, last year. Although Bernie now notices that the paper is a sales agent for Atiyeh's billboard company, they had revealed that fact before. I also learned, or remembered, something new from the paper's story. Former park director, John Mikowychok, testified to city council that the Basin street parcel would allow the city to connect the envisioned trail network. An alternative title for this post was going to be Pawlowski's Toolbox, where I discuss the various department directors, and the distortions that they have uttered for their boss. After Mikowychok was here for only a matter of weeks, before he unpacked his suitcase or even seen the entire park system, he testified on the Wildlands Conservancy's behalf, to demolish the two small dams in Lehigh Parkway. He also apparently testified on Atiyeh's behalf, to purchase those parcels. I had, in the previous years, closely monitored the trail network plan, pushed by then park director Greg Weitzel. Although I attended the meetings on that subject, there was never any mention of a Basin street hookup. Now, I can't blame the paper too much for their memory lapses. They change out reporters like underwear, some have moved on even before they learned to hate me. Bernie O'Hare, his memory is probably affected by his radical weight gain/loss cycles. Don't worry about me offending anybody, they'll forget that they even read this.
ADDENDUM:  O'Hare's article last week did credit this blog with first reporting the land purchases last year.  I have modified the copy above to properly reflect that attribution.

Aug 14, 2015

Interviewing Mike Fleck In The Deep South

I found Mike Fleck at a bar on my the second night in Savannah. Bernie O'Hare was initially to conduct the search, but he's currently on the gain side of his current fat/skinny cycle.

Molovinsky:  What are your thoughts on Jolly Joe Timmer passing away?

Fleck:  You mean you came all this way to ask me that? How about Pawlowski and the wire tap?

Molovinsky:  No, I never thought that much about any of the people you represented, nothing would surprise me. Please answer my question about Timmer. 

Fleck:  The man knew polka. 

Besides for a pit stop in Charleston to see a 1975 Mack pumper made in Allentown, it was straight there and back. Can't wait for O'Hare to top out and start the diet, these trips are not my thing.

Aug 13, 2015

Sad Sack Voters

As an independent candidate last fall, I was often told by voters that they didn't want to waste their vote on somebody who they thought couldn't win; As if it were a game, and they were betting on it.  In reality, they were truly wasting their vote, on someone they knew would under-represent them. Although we talk about the poor choice of candidates, it's really poor choices by the voters who create the political field. On the national stage, we now have two independent types attracting the early attention. But, in both cases, there is a gimmick. Trump, nominally a Republican, is a well know showman. Sanders, really a left wing Democrat, posed for decades as an independent. He was only elected as an independent because of Vermont's unique character. In the political reality of America, you must be a celebrity to succeed as an independent. The last independent in the Pennsylvania State House was in the 1930's. Locally, party affiliation always seems to be the dogma that wins elections.

With the Mike Fleck controversy,  we here in the blogosphere receive many comments about making better choices in the voting booth. Although, there would be no down side to a change like that, I would be surprised to see the sentiment effect election results. Instead, the normal candidates will just incorporation the word change into their election speeches.

Aug 12, 2015

Pushing Anti-Pay To Play

Fellow blogger, Bernie O'Hare, has been pushing Vic Mazziotti's Anti Pay To Play ordinance proposal. Vic tells Bernie, "I'm going to push it," he insisted. "I'm going to push it real hard." Supposedly, in addition to pushing it with the County Commissioners, he's going to push it with Allentown City Council. Bernie would even like to see it pushed in Northampton County. I think it's amusing, especially for a city and county which just erected a $Billion dollars of real estate, with no scrutiny what-so-ever. They would reply that you got to start somewhere, sometime. Vic even wants to push it to the NIZ board. The NIZ board takes their orders only from G-D and Pat Browne. They even declined to stoop so low as to a community benefit agreement. As long as the voters keep electing used car salesman, there will always be add on charges. I think that the citizens got to start pushing back, in the voting booth.

Aug 11, 2015

Lesson At Dieruff

A Dieruff High School social studies teacher would not have to take his class very far for a lesson in Allentown's history. Although never elected, East Side activist Dennis Pearson has been complaining for thirty years that the East Side always get short changed in Public Works. Such was the case in the mid 1930's, during the WPA work in Allentown. Roosevelt's New Deal program built the elaborate walls in the south side's Lehigh Parkway. Central Allentown received the magnificent Lawrence Street stairwell. The culturally elite of west Allentown received the Union Terrace Amphitheater, envisioned for Shakespeare. Pearson's east side got a few scattered steps to nowhere. The steps remained, and thirty years later Allentown built Dieruff High School. With expansions and renovations, some of the steps now adjoin the school. Flash ahead to the summers of 2009 and 2010.

I lobbied Allentown City Council members to appropriate some of the $millions of dollars in Cedar Park plans to begin preserving the irreplaceable WPA structures, starting to crumble throughout our park system. East Side elected councilman, Michael D'Amore, assured me that he only signed off on the Administrations plan, with the stipulation that the steps in Irving Park-Dieruff area would be restored at the same time. The work in Cedar Park was completed last year, including $millions of dollars with of recreation equipment from catalogs. The deterioration of the steps around Dieruff continues. Now there's a lesson in government!
photos courtesy of Mark Thomas

reprinted from September of 2011

ADDENDUM: Flash ahead again four more years, and the steps at Irving Park are now finally being repaired, using a $20,000 grant from the Trexler Trust. Although the grant was secured through Friends Of The Parks, it's actually also the fruit of my labor. That organization's director learned of the plight of the WPA structures through meetings I conducted at the Allentown Library in 2011. I then took her on a WPA tour of the parks, and we have been collaborating on the WPA ever since.

At the city meeting last week, I asked the councilmen to compare $20,000  from an outside source, to repair something as tangible as the stone structures, to the $1.4 million of city money, to buy land that we didn't need, nor are using.  I explained that the consequence of the WPA neglect was that our largest park, Lehigh Parkway, is now virtually inaccessible.  Considering that I had approached both previous park directors about the WPA, with no success, I asked council to appoint me special WPA envoy, and to instruct the new director to consider my suggestions in both her plans and budget.

Council didn't respond to my request. I think that maybe they were preoccupied with the mob behind me, the ones with the pitchforks and torches.  As things simmer down from news of  the FBI investigation, and council has to deal with the business at hand,  perhaps they will reconsider my offer.

Aug 10, 2015

On Second Thought, Pawlowski Should Stay

Recently, I posted that Pawlowski's resignation was overdue.  I'm having serious second thoughts about that natural reaction to the alleged improprieties. Thinking back on the last council meeting, I realize that for the first time in a decade,  there is the possibility of a dynamic tension on the dais. With the strong mayor wounded, council might actually become the check and balance that they're supposed to be. The old mix seemed to be particularly toxic for Allentown;  A popular mayor endorsing council candidates for several elections. Only a month ago, King Pawlowski was now going to formally expand his picks to the school board and county commission. I suppose that in a more informed democracy we could have both, a good mayor and a working council, but let's be realistic. Here in political zombie land, both isn't coming our way. I'm thinking that maybe the best we can have is a nervous mayor and a nervous city council, they might actually do their job under those conditions.

photograph courtesy of Bottom Feed Photo Service

Aug 7, 2015

The Republican Hairstylist

I thought that Marco Rubio did very well last night, but he looks so young.  He should dye his hair gray like I do, to look older (I do it to look more distinguished). Trump, of course. could also use some hair advise. I thought it was unfair of Fox News to not let Huckabee hold his guitar. Maybe some of them should have been able to hold a rifle.  Bush, they should have butched up with some dried blood, a scar and maybe a bandage over his knuckles. Christie should have worn a white Colonel Sanders Suit, and went with a Boss Hogg approach.  Carson needs some anger in his voice, or maybe a prescription induced twitch.  The others blended into the stage curtain.

ADDENDUM: A couple of weeks ago,  I thought that Hillary was a shoo-in.   The Democrats, because of so many Republican candidates, were talking about the clown car.   I have since changed my mind.  Even MSNBC could talk about nothing this morning but the Republican debate.  The large field will dominate the news for many months to come,  and that is the name of the game.

Aug 6, 2015

Allentown City Council Minutes, August 5, 2015

When the most civil comments to the dais came from yours truly, you know that it was a raucous meeting. Back in the day of most of my battles with council, Dave Howells was president. Last night Ray O'Connell asked Rich Fegley to sit down about eight times, which is exactly seven more times than he would have gotten from Howells. Back in those days, it would have been a paddy wagon night. Council even got reprimanded by one of it's own, Jeanette Eicenwald. The main accusation last night was that council was a rubber stamp, which is something that nobody can deny. Over the recent years, I had explained to council, on several issues, that they are occasionally expected to vote no; That they were supposed to use their power of appropriation as a negotiating tool. Pawlowski's reputation for reprisal must not be exaggerated, he had transformed council into a simple approval stamp. You will be able to find and read comments by most of the speakers on other media sites. To me, the most entertaining barbs came from Chris Cocca, who wondered how the candidates endorsed by Citizens for A Better Allentown would now shed that association. I recently did a post about the scarlet P/F (Pawlowski and Fleck). Perhaps, those most guilty of Pawlowski's influence have graduated on to Harrisburg, Schlossberg and Schweyer. It's beyond time for Pawlowski to resign.

Aug 5, 2015

Pawlowski's State Of Denial

From Pawlowski's Facebook submissions, you would never know that there is a giant shadow of suspicion cast upon the 5th floor of city hall. This morning the mayor linked to another report showing that crime is down in Allentown. Apparently, they are not including white collar crime in those figures. Personally, I find those reports meaningless, considering all the shootings and stabbings that do occur. At any rate, I invite Mayor Pawlowski to attend City Council this evening, and get some feedback from his constituents.