Apr 27, 2015

The Obama Cult

Obama gave a very good performance at the Correspondents Dinner, he did everything but sing and dance. Of course it was an audience that loves him, the press. The ultra liberal Huffington reported each separate quip in a separate article. The left gushed that he bashed the entire Republican field. What a performance, but, unfortunately, he's President. In that role, objectively, things aren't going so well. We  now have a Middle East policy that's only reactive at best. While terrorism is becoming more and more widespread, he still wants to close Guantanamo Bay, and afford our enemies an OJ defense in NYC. While he himself now calls The Affordable Care Act Obama-Care, and considers it his legacy, doctors are retiring in record numbers, because of the paperwork and reduced compensation. His support is based on personality, not on performance; That is his true legacy.

Apr 24, 2015

The Pawlowski Polka

Yesterday, we learned that Edwin Pawlowski intends to harvest his Polish background as a fundraising technique. His campaign has brought aboard a Polish-American organizer to promote him as their voice in the U.S. Senate. Pawlowski's activism in that community will be a surprise to local Polish Americans. Today, we learn from Easton's Sal Panto that Pawlowski has kept Allentown clean and safe; That will be news to people living in center city. Essentially, his campaign seems to be based on myths, instead of reality. Allentown, under his watch, did tear down a number of buildings and replace them with new buildings. If that replacement revitalized the city remains to be seen. Pawlowski's role in the NIZ is debatable. When telling the story across the state, he will have to be careful not to mention that all taxpayers, state-wide, are paying for things which they neither own or enjoy.

Apr 23, 2015

Your Vote Counts On The Local Level

If you are going to complain about the parking meters, slumlords, trashed neighborhoods, crime, absentee landlords, blight, homeless issue, graffiti, lack of government transparency, lack of city services, illegal dumping, traffic, lack of community engagement, lack of green space, unsafe streets, lack of youth programs, etc then you need to get out and vote on May 19th for the candidates that you feel will do their best to address the issues in the city. It is the local government who makes decisions that can affect your life right here in Allentown. Local elections determine what happens in your neighborhood, from your water to your recyclables, from your public safety to your quality of life. Your vote doesn't matter? Truth is, local elections are where the power of one vote is greatest. Local elections are frequently decided by a handful of votes. This year’s election will be your opportunity to exercise that one vote and have a voice in who represents you in our local government. By Julian Kern, candidate for Allentown City Council

Addendum:  Julian Kern For City Council Website

Apr 22, 2015

Pawlowski Manager Makes Honest Man Of Morning Call Reporter

Mike Fleck has made Daryl Nerl an honest man. I don't mean that they got married, but Fleck has hired Nerl to promote Pawlowski for his senate campaign. As a former reporter for the Call, Daryl did that anyway, making him very unobjective as a journalist. After being laid off by the Call during a major downsizing, he landed at a local AOL Patch. Now, at last, he can apply his political bias as a paid spin doctor, for Fleck's political campaign consulting. In addition to managing Pawlowski's senate campaign, Fleck has the entire Pawlowski stable of candidates; The PAC(s) includes the Allentown School Board, Allentown City Council and Lehigh County Commissioners. These campaigns are being financed by the NIZ Barons, bringing us some of the best candidates money can buy.

Apr 21, 2015

EMAIL From Ed Pawlowski

Dear Friend, We hope this email finds you doing well. We would like to take a moment of your time to tell you about Allentown School Board candidates Elizabeth Martinez, Audrey Mathison, Charlie Thiel and Marc Telesha and their plans to restore the community’s confidence in the Allentown School District. Allentown is becoming a better place to live and work every day, but the community has lost faith in the city’s school district. The staff has been reduced to less than bare bones, school buildings are not as safe as they should be and the quality of education is suffering. We aim to restore the community’s pride and confidence. With the right leadership, we believe we can make this once-great district the best in the Lehigh Valley. To restore the community’s confidence in the district, Elizabeth, Audrey, Charlie and Marc will do the following: 
Work to restore proper student to staff ratios 
Work to improve the safety and security of our students and staff 
Hire a more diverse staff that reflects the community
Partner with business and other government entities to promote programs in the best interests of our students 
Provide support for school athletics, which drives school pride
For more information on Elizabeth, Audrey, Charlie and Marc and the rest of Citizens for a Better Allentown slate of candidates, please visit www.citizensforabetterallentown.com. Thank you for your time and consideration and please don’t forget to vote for Elizabeth Martinez, Audrey Mathison, Charlie Thiel and Marc Telesha on May 19. Citizens for a Better Allentown

Mayor Pawlowski, your letter begs a few questions. You do realize that two of the four candidates that you're promoting are already on the school board, which you apparently find deficient? How will electing your chosen candidates achieve these goals without significantly increasing taxes? Do you honestly feel that these goals are not shared by the existing board, and the other candidates that are running? Do you understand that democracy and the city is better served if not all candidates, on every board and council, are chosen by you? Please stop confusing Reilly's new buildings with a better city. As mayor, please stop saying that quality education is lacking in Allentown.

Lehigh Valley's Political Lethargy

Political apathy in the valley crosses most sectors of the community. If it's inter-city low income people preoccupied with day to day food and shelter issues, or the well heeled in the suburbs, few elections provide choice at the ballot. Last fall, I observed that the majority of incumbent state representatives were unchallenged. Despite the Wehr's Dam controversy, come November, South Whitehall residents will have three choices for three slots. Uncontested elections have almost become the norm in the Lehigh Valley. There are a few exceptions. The Allentown School Board race this year is highly contested. The local Syrian Community tends to vote, and vote en masse. Although election returns indicate higher turnout in the more affluent areas, that demographic seldom produces candidates on the local level. There will be no waiting in line at the primary election next month.

Apr 20, 2015

South Whitehall Clerical Staff Unionizes

molovinsky on allentown was late to press this morning, running down a tip that South Whitehall's clerical staff unionized. Sources verify that this past Thursday the staff voted 9 to 4 to join the Teamsters. Apparently, the idea to organize grew out of a employee dismissal last summer, affiliated with the Tonkin tax embezzlement case. Although no criminality was ever suspected by the affected employee, her competence came into question. This fall the discourse between the employees and commissioners was further heightened by the unanimous vote to change the defined pension system, from benefit to contribution, although only future employees would be affected by the change. The received tip said that the staff unionization resulted from "meddling" by the Commissioners. Although unionizing does indeed seem unusual for a small staff of only 13 employees, it's not clear if "meddling" by the Commissioners is a bad thing. The residents of South Whitehall deserve elected representatives who are engaged, and willing to guard the taxpayers best interests. On a personal note, as an advocate engaged on the Wehr's Dam and other issues, I've had only courteous and helpful responses from all staff members over the years.

Apr 17, 2015

The Morning Call's Pawlowski

There used to be a billboard on the New Jersey border that said You have a friend in Pennsylvania. It can be said that want-a-be senator Pawlowski has a friend in The Morning Call. Actually, it's sort a new friend. Neither current reporter on today's Call article really knows that much about Pawlowski. Although Pawlowski has only been in the valley less than twenty years, the reporters have been here only twenty minutes. Their frame of reference is the Morning Call archives, whose stories were as distorted then, as they are now. If historical accuracy and truth are what you're looking for, this blog is one of the few places that you're going to find it. In today's timeline on Pawlowski, they write that in 05 he beat former mayor Heydt in what was then the most expensive mayoral race in Allentown's history. Actually, there was a third candidate then, a self-funded independent. Although I only got a few percentage of the vote, I attended over thirty events with Pawlowski. Night after night, I suffered through his same power point presentation, and heard his well rehearsed feigned sincerity.

Because Pawlowski has been mayor while Browne and Reilly created the greatest state sponsored private windfall in history, his campaign manager has a story to tell. We here in Allentown know the real story. That story involves dirty streets, crime and no improvement in the quality of life. So, plug your $2 into the parking meter, and listen to the Morning Call's version.

UPDATE:  Ed Pawlowski has officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate this morning.  From his website :  I intend to spend the majority of my time calling donors and  doing the hard work required to defeat an incumbent senator.  Ok Ed, but who will be running the city for the next  two and half years of your mayoral term?

Apr 16, 2015

The Honest Broker, Missing From Lehigh Valley

In a previous post, I told how South Whitehall's Christina Morgan would be coming forward suggesting a referendum on Wehr's Dam. Last night, as if on cue, she made her backdoor suggestion, hoping to help the Wildlands still demolish the icon. Also in a previous post, I mentioned that the Allentown Parking Authority presents contrived surveys, to justify their rate hikes. Also on cue, that claim was made last night, to justify doubling the meter rate in Allentown. We were also told that tickets are only reluctantly given, to enforce rules which benefit everybody. As one who has often seen street sweeping tickets give out en masse, with no meaningful sweeping, I know better than that. We live in an area where bureaucrats can say and do as they please, with no scrutiny from the press. The bureaucrats are imbued with arrogance, thinking they know best, certainly much better than the dirty masses. The press is nine to five, satisfied to report what is said, with no need to know the real motives. The public, for the most part, is content with this diet of abridged news. On the national level, they're so conditioned to spin and attitude, that facts no longer count. Who cares if you have to pay $2 an hour to park on empty Hamilton Street on a Tuesday afternoon?

Apr 15, 2015

Benign Neglect, Allentown Park System

Word from East Side warrior Dennis Pearson is that the Allentown Park Department is preparing to tear down the pavilion and other structures at the East Side Reservoir. I don't know if ownership and responsibility has been affected by the lease/sale of the water system to the Lehigh County Authority, but in recent years the park system has adopted a benign neglect policy. A prime example is the Fountain Park Pool. Over a $160,000 filter pump, a pool which would cost $millions to replace was allowed to decay beyond repair. As often documented on this blog, the WPA Structures have received no maintenance, what-so-ever, for decades. Complicating the infrastructure neglect, there has been a secession of out of town park directors with a background in recreation. Unassertive City Council park committees, and cronyism at the Trexler Trust, have also contributed to the demise. Save but for the archives of this blog, the neglect has gone undocumented. Despite the benign neglect of the last decade, our magnificent park system has endured for almost a century. With some care it will serve Allentown residents much longer and better than a minor league hockey arena.

photo courtesy of Dennis Pearson

Apr 14, 2015

Wehr's Dam Challenges Integrity Of The Wildlands Conservancy

Chris Kocher, President of Wildands Conservancy, publicly stated on their website and a Morning Call editorial that Wildlands Conservancy will certainly respect whatever decision South Whitehall Township makes about the dam’s future. The same pledge was also repeated by their director, Abigail Pattishall, prior to the vote on March 18th. This blogger has learned that there is a back door plan under way to still demolish the dam. Prior to voting on the dam, Commissioner David Bond suggested that perhaps the issue should be turned over to the voters in form of a referendum, because of the expense involved in keeping the dam. Bond voted to save the dam, but only after the yes votes were already in a majority. My sources reveal that Commissioner Christina Morgan, who voted against the dam, and the Wildlands' Pattishall, are encouraged by the prospect of a referendum. They know that any question to the voters which increases taxes or expenses always loses.

The entire Wehr Dam study lacked integrity. The million dollar price tag assigned to repair the dam was a blatant scare tactic. Realistically, the repair cost would be only a small fraction of that amount. Unfortunately, this inflated figure has been taken at face value by The Morning Call, and repeated article after article. What Christina Morgan and Abigail Pattishall fail to realize is that unlike their inflated dam study, support for the dam is very real. The thousands of people who signed the petition, while visiting the dam, are very real.

The current Explore issue of South Whitehall Park News fails to mention or honor the dam's retention. Likewise, the Wildlands Conservancy has not acknowledged the decision, and a previous pledge to move on to other projects. Randy Cope, South Whitehall's park director, might be a member in good standing with the Wildlands, but he is failing the citizens of South Whitehall, by ignoring the peoples' wishes to celebrate the dam. Any referendum on the dam,  originated by commissioners, will be a vote against the wishes of the townships' residents.

photograph by K Mary Hess

Apr 13, 2015

Allentown's Uptown Admission

From the crumbs breaking off the NIZ windfalls, it's apparent that no elected position in Allentown is for the little guy anymore, even election to the school board. This event announcement, sent from the Chamber of Commerce email account, shows that $14,000 is being raised on Charlie Thiel's behalf, before anybody even walks through the door. Among $thousand dollar hosts are developers Reilly and Jaindl. Sponsors at $500 include Pawlowski and our state representatives. Nobody gets a sip of wine or bite of cheese for less than $100. We have candidates who will spend three times more on their election than the district spends educating a student. What's the lesson here?

Apr 10, 2015

Whitehall's Hozza Inherits Allentown's Syrians

Back in day, when demolition began to build the arena and Reillytown, Whitehall's Ed Hozza was cutting the ribbons with Ed Pawlowski. At the time, I questioned what he was doing there. Hozza's enthusiasm for Allentown's project quickly waned, as he realized truck after truck was dumping the former ground up buildings into  Whitehall's quarry. If that wasn't insult enough for Hozza's support, within two years Pawlowski would be supporting Hozza's current opponent. Although Hozza may have lost Pawlowski's support, there's a new power broker in Whitehall, the former Allentown Syrian community. The Syrians in Allentown developed their political influence back in the days of District Attorney George Joseph. Voting as a block, the Democratic Club in the ward could be counted on in local elections, and numerous Syrians ended up working in various departments of Allentown City government. Through inter-marriage and relationships, many non-Syrian names became part of the base, even including extended members of my family. Although that power base has shifted north in the last 15 years, it took Pawlowski's refusal to raise the Syrian flag to make the move official. In the future, the flags will be raised in Whitehall.

Apr 9, 2015

Incited Allentown School District Race

Someone or something has incited a crowded school district race, and I believe that it's Scott Armstrong. Thirteen candidates are running for five spots in a race that normally barely has enough candidates to cover the spots. To the ire of the Teacher's Union, Armstrong has consistently and loudly identified the pension issue as the financial problem of the school district. Understand that although it is well known that pensions are bankrupting the school districts and the state, Pennsylvania failed to enact any change, even with a previous Republican Governor and both chambers of the State House. Understand that the failed proposals for change protected all previous and existing employees, and only affected future hires. Never the less, the unions are so strong that nothing more than lip service is ever implemented. Pleading children are used as props to protest teacher and program cuts, resulting from budget realities. While Armstrong has the courage to articulate the facts at the meetings and in editorials, he became a scape goat for some operating only on emotion about music and art programing. Ironically, Armstrong himself was schooled in fine arts, and his work is first rate. Truth is a heavy coat to wear in politics, but Armstrong carries the weight well. If the burden isn't heavy enough, Pawlowski is attempting to influence the results. He and the districts two lightweight state representative, Michael Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, have started a PAC to push their hand chosen candidates. Out of thirteen candidates, Armstrong offers the homeowners the most mettle for their tax dollars.

UPDATE: The last sentence above as been modified since being published early this morning.

Apr 8, 2015

The Monster Parking Authority


Back in September, I wrote about a center city homeowner exasperated beyond fairness by the Allentown Parking Authority. Here are a few excepts from his letter in that post.



I am writing to express my surprise and dismay upon receiving yet another citation from the City of Allentown.
This time a street cleaning ticket. THIS ONE IS FOR 50.00!! It states repeat offender.
Is this really how to construct a GOOD neighborhood?
Now I am in the pool for the city to collect fifty dollars at a time?
This policy is unbelievable and unconscionable.
I realize that the city is hurting for money, but this is not the way to raise revenue.
Sweep tickets, APA tickets, all kinds of inspections, fees to visit fish, and what else?
I really wanted to have a good experience living in this city.
You must not allow the city to tax/fine/extort this kind of money from cash strapped intercity residents.
I will not pay 50.00 for a street sweeping ticket.
The insult is further compounded because there is no redress to these matters prior to the escalation of the fine fee.
No good will come from the City of Allentown continually stepping on the very citizens that stabilize our neighborhoods.
Respectfully,
Mark's new letter, to the full City Council

Where did this insult of a program (the "repeat offender designation")originate and who supported it?
I am a stabilizing element in my neighborhood and a twenty year plus resident in center city Allentown.
I pay my taxes and my street cleaning fees.
The Allentown Parking Authority makes a profit from street sweeping. I have now been designated as a "repeat offender".
Am I to be subject to this new tax forever? This is certainly another tax.
How about parking tickets? Will they too have a repeat offender category?
I Have to work different hours, and can't always get back to move a vehicle at noon.
I can't park on the north side of my block because drug dealers punch and otherwise dent my and other citizens cars parked in front of their shops.
The Allentown police are working hard to control this problem - tax money well spent.
The police department does not produce income. Why does the Allentown Parking create wealth?
Hammering low income city folks with this predatory penalty driven program to fill city coffers is just wrong.
Living in the center city should be tolerable and maybe even safe and enjoyable for residents.
One more straw on your camels back.
This is how you cause citizens to say "I'm done".
I would appreciate a response. Please tell me how wrong I am and why.
Thank you,
Mark XXXXX
Mark's reward for his protest? While waiting for his day in district court to appeal his "Repeat Offender" status, the Parking Authority mounted the orange boot on his car. While OAPA holds house tours on 8th Street, and $millions of dollars are spent dressing up 7th Street, the salt of our city is punished for living on 6th Street.

UPDATE: The above post is reprinted from November of 2010. As I wrote yesterday, I have posted often about the Authority. A decade ago, I would go toe to toe with the director at City Council meetings and outside her office. It's somewhat awkward now, because I'm friendly with the current director. However, the same essential flaw exists with the Authority. That flaw is that it allows itself to be periodically used by Pawlowski's Administration, to further some other city agenda, at the direct expense of the residents.

Apr 7, 2015

Parking Authority Preys On Poor


Although the shopping district in Allentown has shrunk down to only Hamilton and 7th Streets, the meter district remains as it did during the heydays of the 1950's. The meters extend from Walnut to Chew, from 5th to 10th, well over 1000 meters in 20 sq. blocks. Parking meters extend out to 10th and Chew Sts, three full blocks beyond the closest store.* These meters are a defacto penalty for the residents, mostly tenants. In essence, it is a back door tax on Allentown's poorest citizens. The apologists claim the tenants can purchase a resident meter pass, however their friends and visitors cannot. To add insult to injury, in 2005, to help finance a new parking deck for the arts district, the Parking Authority doubled the meter rate and fines. Testimony to City Council permitting the rate increase indicated it was favored by the merchants. At that time I documented to the Council that in fact the merchants were not informed, much less in favor. The vote was 5 to 2, with Hershman and Hoover dissenting
* I used the above copy on my posting of October 3, 2007. In the past several weeks the Parking Authority finally removed the meters in the 900 block of Chew St, 50 years beyond their legitimate need.

UPDATE: The post above is reprinted from September 2009. I have published dozens of posts on the Parking Authority. In 2005, I conducted two press conferences on their abuses; One conference was at 10th and Chew Streets, and concerned the oversized meter zone. The second conference, directly in front of their office, concerned the fabricated merchant survey that they  presented to City Council. Old tricks die hard. Forward ahead to 2015, and the Parking Authority will once again penalize both existing merchants and residents.  The new plan is to double the meter parking rate from $1 an hour, to $2, and extend the metering time to 10:00pm.  They claim that the merchants are in favor of this plan. Although I will not conduct my own survey, as I did 2005,  their survey defies logic.  Why would any of the few surviving merchants want their customers submitted to a destination city parking rates in Allentown? Despite the hype,  Allentown is not Miami Beach or N.Y.C.. In reality, just as the taxpayers are subsidizing the arena zone,  now the merchants and residents will be subsidizing the arena plan through punitive parking rates.

Apr 6, 2015

Gethsemane 1934


Maria Magdalene (Mary Magdalene) is the Russian Orthodox Church located on the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem.
The church is dedicated to Miryam of Migdal, a follower of Jesus. Maria Magdalene was the first to see Christ after he was resurrected, and was a crucial and important disciple of Jesus, and seemingly his primary female associate, along with Mary of Bethany, whom some believe to have been the same woman.
The church was built in 1886 by Tzar Alexander III as a commemoration for his mother, Empress Maria Alexandrovna of Russia, in the traditional tented roof Russian style, including seven onion shaped golden domes. Photograph dates from 1934

reprinted from April 2014

Apr 3, 2015

Allentown's Historic Syrian Community


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

UPDATE: The above post is reprinted from March of 2010. I have repeated the post several times since over the years, and have written other posts concerning Allentown's historic Syrian Community as well. Although I didn't grow up in the Ward, I grew up with their children, who had by then also lived in other sections of town. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, the organized Syrian community wielded considerable strength in local Democratic politics. I assure you that Pawlowski went hat in hand to their leadership even in 2005. This week at least a portion of the community came to City Council, hat in hand; Pawlowski had denied their request for a Syrian Flag ceremony at City Hall. The Syrian political influence in Allentown has been somewhat weakened by a large migration of that community to Whitehall. I will also concede on Pawlowski's part that the current politics of Syria is indeed very complicated. That reality aside, the large local Syrian community deserves some public recognition of it's historic role and roots.

Apr 2, 2015

Jerusalem


In the city of awe-inspiring sites, the most imposing is The Dome of the Rock. The Dome covers the Rock from which Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven to receive a message from Allah. The Jews believe the rock is the Foundation Stone, from which the world was created. On it, Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac and the Ark of the Covenant stood when the Temple occupied the Mount. The Mount and Temple was enlarged by Herod, during the lifetime of Jesus.

Jews pray at the retaining wall, The Western Wall, which survived the Temple's destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. The bottom four rows of stones date from Herod, below current street level, there are 17 more layers.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is west of the Temple Mount. The first church was built on the site in the 4th century. Christians believe the church encompasses both the sites; where Jesus was crucified, and also buried and rose from the dead.
reprinted from July of 2013

Apr 1, 2015

Lehigh Valley Replay and Repay, The Study Of The Studies

Yesterday, The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission announced a new traffic study for Lehigh Valley. In that article they mentioned how much traffic there currently is, how much is expected, and which routes it will be using. With that information already in hand, what do they expect to learn from the new study? Last night, a symposium on the Valley again discussed our future. This blog in the past discussed Renew Lehigh Valley, the $3.4 million dollar study completed last year, which defined our present and future. Has our future changed that much in the last four months? What we really have is a cottage industry of recycled public bureaucrats, who conduct endless studies on the public's dime. Unfortunately, they're not really cottage, but fully funded organizations, costing the taxpayer extra, for those redundant reports. They in turn hire professional journalists, mostly former reporters, to publicize and legitimize their function. It's not easy for Pennsylvania to have a $30 Billion dollar budget and still be broke. That takes many Commissions, which study nothing new, but recommend another study.

Mar 31, 2015

Suspicions and Aspersions

In the past when I've done a speculative post on two or more subjects, I strove for a cute title, like Bits and Pieces From The Rumor Mill. Those days are past me, this baby now gets the cheap diapers.

Rumor has it that when Pawlowski recruited yes woman Candida Afif to run for City Council, she hesitated because she enjoys much time out of state at a vocation home. Pawlowski assured her that she can continue her lifestyle, and cast votes by telephone. The telephone option has been used in the past by several members over the years,  but only for important votes.

I've written numerous posts about the plans for upscale apartments in downtown, and the realities of that market. I use a dated term, yuppies, for the target demographic. Shown above is Reilly's Plywood Plaza at 7th and Linden Street. I've been informed that the previously hyped P&P Mill Luxury Apartments at 3th and Linden, has turned to Section 8 to fill their vacancies.

Mar 30, 2015

Lehigh County's Good Old Boys Part 2

In yesterday's post, we discuss David Jaindl being nominated to the Regional Planning Board, despite having some history of circumventing local zoning. As the largest land owner in the valley, he is essentially being invited to write the rules which will govern him. We are also watching Allentown's NIZ Baron, J.B. Reilly, write his own rules. Reillytown was created by Pat Browne, with a unique scheme allowing public state taxes to pay for Reilly's privately owned building. Any loose end was exploited by Reilly, such as even the cigarette tax going to his debt service. All along, the enablers were saying that although it's a golden goose for Reilly, the public will benefit from the increased tax base. We now learn that Reilly is appealing his assessments, greatly reducing the public benefit. His brand new buildings, paid for by the public, will pay less tax because that scheme allows him to charge less rent and show less income. Missing from that argument is that the public must make up that state tax shortfall through higher taxes and fees, and other municipalities have lost the tenants and taxes now occupying Reilly's buildings. Meanwhile, back at this circus of public exploitation, our local leaders have a cat eating mouse grin, explaining these calamities to the public. Pawlowski says that Allentown will benefit from a settlement with Reilly. There was never any mention of assessment settlements two years ago, when Pawlowski was cutting the ribbons and running for governor. County Executive Tom Muller supports Jaindl's nomination. There was nothing about that in his State Of The County report.

There really is nothing  new with these shenanigans. Today, we worship Harry Trexler and call him General. Back in his day, he was the largest land owner and developer by far. Cedar Park was actually created to enhance his west end real estate developments, on both sides of Hamilton Street. Although there was no scrutiny back then by local bloggers, I suppose that there was some dissent. Will our great grandchildren call Reilly and Jaindl generals, and picnic by their statues?

Mar 29, 2015

Lehigh County's Good Old Boys

When it comes to politics, I have to admit some naiveté, after all I ran as an independent. Speaking of that effort, several times when I was putting up signs last fall, I was told that Mr. Jaindl doesn't allow signs on his land. I had that experience north to the Blue Mountain, and east to Danielsville. David Jaindl's nomination to the Lehigh County Planning Commission is causing some controversy, because he is by far the largest land owner in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. To some people, like Commissioner Percy Dougherty, the conflict is self-apparent. Ron Beitler, a Commissioner in Lower Macungie, points out that Mr. Jaindl has a record of development proposals contrary to local development guidelines. I'm curious about the people who nominated him. Sometimes the good old boys are women. After nominating him, LVPC's director Becky Bradley, has no comment other than, We're neutral. We're Switzerland. Isn't that the land of hidden bank accounts? Actually, the other paid development bureaucrats in Lehigh County government pushing for Jaindl, Rick Molchany and Frank Kane, prefer to paint him as experienced, as opposed to conflicted.

Mar 27, 2015

It's Like A Postcard

Last week when I prevailed on some players at City Hall to meet me in Lehigh Parkway, somebody remarked that it's like a postcard. With the creek banks now overgrown, it would difficult to recreate the nationally distributed postcards of Allentown parks from the 1950's. But the old postcards still exist, giving testimony to the beauty that was ours. There will be a formal discussion with the City Council Park and Recreation Committee next Wednesday at 5:00p.m. They will hear about stream velocity theory and habitat from the grant driven new age science crew. I will talk about beauty. I still believe that the parks were created for the pleasure of people.

reprinted from August of 2013

Mar 26, 2015

Bill White Should Stick To Christmas Lights

Bill White can't win with me. I either accuse him of wasting his bully pulpit on fluff like christmas lights and cake contests, or being wrong on more serious topics. Today, he's wrong on Wehr's Dam. Bill's biggest mistake is taking the Wildlands Conservancy and their bought and paid for report as gospel. For his latest column he interviewed the Wildlands Director, but didn't seek comment from one of the dam advocates. He and the director, who had told the South Whitehall commissioners that she would respect their decision and move on, keep referencing the $million dollar estimate to repair the dam. The director, Abigail Pattishall, even says that the estimate is probably on the low side. Anybody who has ever visited the dam knows that it isn't going anywhere. It's a massive concrete wedge, most of which cannot be seen, sitting on a massive concrete shelf. Two years ago, the DEP concluded that overall the dam is in good condition. Wildlands Conservancy and their contracted report by KCI, based the ridiculously overpriced repair estimate on removing all the silt in the mill pond, rerouting the creek, and rebuilding the dam completely from the shelf on up. In reality, for what the report cost, $239,000.00, the dam could have been kept in good repair for the next fifty years. Bill, stick with the cake contests.

Mar 25, 2015

Voodoo Science and The Wildlands Conservancy

Hanover Township and the Monocacy Creek are about to lose some beauty and history to the Wildlands Conservancy, as that grant greedy deceiver rips out another dam. Like the former Robin Hood Dam in Lehigh Parkway, these short decorative dams, less than one foot tall, are no barrier to fish migration. Almost after every rain the dams disappear as the water level rises, giving the fish easy passage. In the drier periods, the low dams help oxygenate the water. The Wildlands Conservancy comes to the municipality with a power point presentation showing how detrimental dams are to waterways. Specifics, such as that the dam is only 8 inches high, are omitted. They point out how Pennsylvania leads the nation in dam removals. We of course would be better off if the DEP concerned itself with the chemicals used by the fracking industry, and other real issues affecting our health. Local college professors are recruited to testify about about the benefits of dam removal, again generalities and site unspecific. It's a sad course of events to lose the beauty and memories enjoyed by so many people for so long in our parks. My associate Bernie O'Hare reports on this latest scheme by the Wildlands Conservancy. He evens seems to buy into their false premise. That's the problem with sacred cows, too few people are willing to see their flaws.

Mar 24, 2015

Robin Hood Bridge, Before and After Wildlands Conservancy's Crassness



                                       photo by Tami Quigley


Last spring I conducted a well attended tour of the WPA structures in Lehigh Parkway for  Friends Of The Allentown Parks. We ended the tour at the last WPA structure built in Allentown, the Robin Hood Bridge. This fall I unsuccessfully tried to save the dam, which was built with the bridge as part of the beautiful setting. The Wildlands Conservancy had a grant to remove the dam, from which they also harvest administrative fees. In a crass act of destruction they removed the dam, and piled the broken dam rubble around the beautiful stone piers, destroying a classic view which Allentown had enjoyed for over 70 years. A naturalist told me the other day that the project even disappointed from his environmental point of view. The stream is no deeper, the silt didn't reduce, and a large portion of the former stream-bed is exposed. Although I recognize and support Friends Of The Parks as a most worthwhile organization, I must respectfully decline their invitation to conduct another tour this coming spring. It is apparent that this Mayor, City Council and even the new park director have no appreciation of the irreplaceable gifts that were bestowed upon our park system so many years ago.  




UPDATE: The post above is reprinted from December of 2013, when it was titled, I must Respectfully Decline. I did relent, and conducted a second tour of the park last summer. The new park director referred to above was only here long enough to approve two dam destructions by the Wildlands Conservancy. The second dam removal, the Trout Hatchery Dam, may well have caused the massive fish kill last year. We now have a third new park director within two years, and another chance for responsible park stewardship, which has been long lacking.

Mar 23, 2015

An Open Letter To Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director, Part 1

Ms. Taylor, congratulations on your confirmation as Director of Allentown Parks. You should take great pride in your new position, for decades Allentown was considered one of the premier park systems in the country. We were blessed that Harry Trexler had one of the leading landscape architects in the United States formulate plans in 1928, before the depression. When Roosevelt created the WPA, Allentown was shovel ready with those plans. Thousands of men worked in Lehigh Parkway, Fountain Park and Union Terrace between 1935-1937. What they accomplished would have normally cost untold $millions of dollars, and taken 50 years to finish.

Unfortunately, the proper emphasis has not been applied in recent years to the iconic park system. I'm sure like your two predecessors, you have already been approached by the Wildlands Conservancy. Pictured above is the former Robin Hood Dam. Your immediate predecessor agreed to its demolition by the Wildlands Conservancy, even before he ever saw the little dam. Although you will now never be able to experience its beauty and sound, you may see its broken pieces, they are piled around the stone piers of the companion Robin Hood Bridge. That broken rubble ruins the former beauty of the piers, which rose straight up out of the water. To those of us with any respect for beauty and history, it was adding insult to injury. Although the dam was only 12 inches high, and no real barrier to fish, the Wildlands Conservancy got its way. As a local historian and advocate for the WPA structures, it saddens me to inform you that despite the prominence of the structures in our parks, not one dollar has been spent on the stone maintenance in years. Major park policy has pretty much been relinquished to the Wildlands Conservancy's agenda, removing historical dams and blocking the view and access to the streams with riparian buffers. The former Fish Hatchery Dam was built directly by Trexler. The Robin Hood Bridge and Dam were the last WPA projects in Allentown. I have the sketch plans of those structures, they were the pride of the city when completed in 1941.

It is my hope that you decide to revive the great tradition of Allentown parks, instead of just settling for a Certificate Of Cooperation from the Wildlands Conservancy.

photocredit: molovinsky

Mar 20, 2015

Saving Wehr's Dam

In today's Morning Call article, the reporter states that he was gobsmacked that the dam was saved. Perhaps if he wasn't the fifth reporter to be assigned to the story in the last nine months, he would have been less surprised. Perhaps if he had attended more meetings he would have credited more people in the effort, notably myself, Bob Schantz and Leroy Schmidt. While that's water over the proverbial dam, there are consequential issues which still need to be addressed. While the dam certainly received a temporary stay from execution, I doubt that the Wildlands Conservancy will stand down. The reporter kept mentioning the KCI report, as if its conclusions were gospel. In reality, it was generalized current dam removal patter, not even applicable to the Jordan Creek and Wehr's Dam. The projected cost to repair the dam was based on conservation methods usually reserved for the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty. In the real world, the DEP said two years ago that the dam is in overall good condition. The report by the Wildlands Conservancy, done by KCI, and paid for by a Pennsylvania grant, cost $239,000.00. As a taxpayer, I'm concerned with the channel between the Wildlands Conservancy and Harrisburg, which allowed a quarter of a $million dollars to be spent on virtual propaganda. I'm also concerned with the channel between the Wildlands Conservancy and South Whitehall Commissioner Christina Morgan, which encouraged one of the most significant features of Covered Bridge Park to be threatened. If the Wildlands Conservancy has its way, that picnic table shown in the picture above would replaced with a riparian buffer, which is actually a wall of weeds. It's necessary to realize that our parks were intended for recreation, not the Wildlands Conservancy grant harvesting agenda. The dam must receive some protective status, so that the citizens need not again defend such an iconic place of beauty.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Mar 19, 2015

The Dam Video

Not too many campaign promises are kept, especially by a candidate who lost the election. Although I'm delighted that the dam was saved, in the upcoming posts I will divulge the money wasted and the lies told, in the attempt to demolish the dam.

Mar 18, 2015

Panto and O'Hare

Social media, blogs and Facebook, have become an unattributed source for main stream media. The recent article and editorial in the Express Times on Easton's new code director came from both these sources.  When blogger Bernie O'Hare questioned both the job history and salary of Sal Panto's recent hire, Mayor Panto went ballistic on Facebook against O'Hare's disclosures.  Hundreds of Panto's Facebook friends lined up to bash O'Hare and praise Panto, including Ed Pawlowski's wife. O'Hare's disclosures became the substance of both an article and editorial in the Express Times. Although the article mentioned Panto's Facebook page and O'Hare's Blog,  the attribution was missing from the editorial .

Mar 17, 2015

A Slice Of No Class

The Allentown Municipal Golf Course, aka Benner Fairways, always had a classy look. The entrance off Tilghman Street could have been taken for a country club. No more, enter Pawlowski and an oversized sign for Jack's Pizza. This monstrosity of a sign ends another long term Allentown tradition. Benner was Harry Trexler's secretary. Besides Pawlowski, who approved of this dominating illuminated sign? The Benner Fairways will now be known as Jack's Pizza, how crass can we get?

Mar 16, 2015

The Morning Call's Favor To Pawlowski's PAC

The Morning Call accepted the following letter from Scott Armstrong in early February for publication.  Then, after sitting on it for six weeks until petitions were due,  they told Armstrong that they couldn't run it because he now was a candidate for school board. 
The wrong answer to a real problem
It should come as no surprise that Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski is creating a Political Action Committee to take control of the Allentown School Board when one considers his demonstrated propensity for dictatorial power and demand of total allegiance of those in his service. Until now, the Allentown School Board has escaped his notice and managed to operate with autonomy to act in the best interests of the district, the students, and the taxpayers.  This will end unless the voters intervene and prevent the mayor from using the PAC to purchase school board seats.
  Those with and without children in the school district may wonder what harm could come if Ed Pawlowski’s yes men/women win control of the school board.  First off, the board will reflect the mayor’s will rather than the residents’ interests. One only needs to look at Allentown’s other governing bodies (city council, zoning, planning etc) as evidence. None of these exhibit any independence; rather, they dutifully fulfill the mayor’s wishes. This acquiescence is the result of the mayor packing these entities with people whose main quality is loyalty to him. Those who have dared express an alternative point of view have failed to be reappointed. Clearly, the mayor’s slate will follow this same governing principle and he will use the school board to build on his already substantial political power base here in the city. The mayor’s political allies, i.e. the teachers’ union, will be given carte blanche on district issues such as their own salaries and benefits as well as appointments, staffing, policies, procedures and curriculum. The fox will be ruling the hen house, and the justifying spin will be “who knows more about education than teachers?”.  
 As a sitting director I take umbrage at the mayor’s statement concerning “the quality of the education provided by city schools.”  The main problem with the Allentown School District is that it is located in a municipality that is by all standards dysfunctional. This lack of proper municipal management has allowed poverty to explode in the city in recent years.  Any school district can provide a quality education to a percentage of low-income students, but no district can do the same when the student poverty rate climbs to well over 80%.  The mayor who came to town as an advocate for low-income housing has turned his back on the neighborhoods. His attempts to improve the city are limited to building shiny new buildings and silencing dissenting voices. We are told the NIZ (Neighborhood Improvement Zone) activity will spur the process of bringing “people back to the city.” Is this anything other than gentrification?  Clearly, it is the rich and powerful who are Ed Pawlowski’s main concern. 
 If Ed Pawlowski’s concern about the quality of education in the city were sincere, he would not attempt to solve the problem by packing the school board with cronies. Instead, he would develop a real plan to improve Allentown’s struggling neighborhoods.
Scott Armstrong

Editor's Note: I found it necessary to shorten this letter for use on the blog. Please contact Scott Armstrong for full version.

Mar 13, 2015

Saving The Queen City Airport From Pawlowski

The Old
When I grew up on Liberator Ave., I would walk up Catalina Ave. toward school, which was at the end of Coronado. The streets were named for the Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and the neighborhood was next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing. Today this small airport is known as Queen City, and is threatened by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
1944 was the first full year of the operation for the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania factory. Consolidated Vultee handled over $100M in wartime contracts at their Allentown plant where they produced TBY-2 Sea Wolves, components parts for B-24 Liberator bombers and other essential armaments and products for the war effort.
Pawlowski covets this unique part of our history to expand the tax base. What he doesn't understand is that more housing or commercial space is not in Allentown's best long term interest. Unfortunately, long term interest is not a term understood by our current leadership. There is a whole development of started houses off S. 12th St. and Mack Blvd. which were never completed. There are filled in foundations on 8th Street, also never completed. More housing is the last thing both the real estate market and school system need. Likewise, the existing commercial sector has been struggling to maintain an acceptable occupancy rate. Queen City airport is a unique asset to Allentown. If LVIA does successfully expand, a separate airport for small planes is very desirable for safety. Considering Pawlowski's predetermined objective, I question whether he should have been appointed to the LVIA Board.
The New
I wrote the above several years ago. Last week The FAA has reiterated their requirements for selling Queen City, and such a sale remains totally unfeasible. Pawlowski says that he won't give up; He never meet an Allentown asset that he didn't want to sell. Although Airport Board Chairman Tony Iannelli conceded that it's time to move on, his quote is disturbing. "I totally understand the mayor's goal here, but unfortunately the hurdles are too high and too many." Tony, if you agree that the mayor's short sighted goals are in the best interest of the Airport Authority, and that it's unfortunate that you can't sell Queen City, then it's unfortunate that you're Chairman of the Authority. The recent FAA letter also prohibits Pawlowski's planned sale of the fire training tower to Lehigh Valley Health Network. Pawlowski claims that if the Hospital cannot expand their lab on Lehigh Street, that they will relocate to the suburbs and that Allentown will lose hundreds of jobs. He hasn't expressed the same concern about suburban offices relocating to Hamilton Street's NIZ.
reprinted from July 2012

UPDATE: I'm rather amazed about today's Morning Call article questioning whether Pawlowski should be reappointed to the Airport Authority, and the news therein that he was found free from conflict. Pawlowski should have never been appointed to the Authority in the first place, and his agenda since 2006 has been for Allentown to obtain the Queen City and develop the property to expand the city's tax base.

UPDATE 7:00pm: I have been informed back channel that the conflict evaluation referred to a financial conflict of interest.  I never meant to imply that Pawlowski had that type of conflict, but rather a predetermined agenda for the future of Queen City.

Mar 12, 2015

Framing The News In The Lehigh Valley

To quote Superboy's parents, With great power comes great responsibility. Here in the valley, I can't say that The Morning Call has always shouldered that responsibility in an admirable fashion. In fairness to them, most of my criticism is based on lack of coverage of issues in which I have been involved, or on myself. I suppose if you factor in my annoying manner, and my aspersions toward them, nobody will hire me as a media consultant. Last year, when I ran as an independent for state representative, I missed out on the primary election news cycle. I requested, with no success, that the paper run a candidate announcement or profile in August to balance coverage previously given to my opponents.

Currently, the paper keeps reporting that the Wildlands Conservancy position on Wehr's Dam is based on science, while the defenders are mere history buffs. They would rather keep repeating confused conclusions from past articles, rather than update and report new aspects of the situation. So far, that story has been written by four different reporters, none of which has investigated or reported the Wildlands distortion and generalization of science for their own agenda.

Yesterday, the article on City Council candidates reported that Julian Kern was not listed on the primary ballot. Julian says otherwise on his Facebook page, and includes an election office printout. When will the paper correct the oversight, or will his campaign also suffer unequal coverage?

UPDATE: Julian states that he handed in his petition at the last minute, resulting in the paper's oversight.  The issue is how and when will the paper report that he is indeed a candidate.  Today's paper contained no correction.

Mar 11, 2015

A Primary For Allentown City Council

The race for City Council has gotten interesting, by Allentown standards. By that I mean the suspense will be the May primary, when Pawlowski's minions are challenged by the outsiders. There is even one Republican who will be on the ballot in November, a political species not seen in Allentown in decades. As I posted previously, Pawlowski has created a PAC to finance and publicize his intended yes men. To their dishonor, this PAC is also endorsed by state representatives Mike Schlossberg and Pete Schweyer. The yes people include Candida Afif, who sits on many of Pawlowski's appointed boards. See someone on many boards, and you're looking at a yes person. The most viable contender in the outside Democrats is former Police Chief Roger MacLean. Roger has the right stuff to be the first independent in the Pawlowski era, the question is do the voters still have any discretion? MacLean is viable because he realized that in Allentown only the Democratic ticket can win in November. The lone Republican is the old warhorse Lou Hershman. Nobody knows Allentown and the issues any better than Lou. Unfortunately, those criterion mean little to the sorry voters of Allentown.

This post is an analysis of an article by Emily Opilo in The Morning Call 

The warhorse Lou Hershman, a molovinsky photo

Mar 10, 2015

Facebook Madness

When I first joined Facebook a few years ago, I limited my friends to those people that I had worked with on community projects. I had about 60 friends, and I enjoyed the occasional visit to the site. Last year, when I decided to run for office, it seemed logical to expand my social networking. Although it's not my nature to ask for friends, I did accept most invitations that came my way. My network increased to about 250. Not only hadn't I worked with the additional 200 people, with some I had very little in common. Although I generally tolerate differences in belief, with Facebook its pretty much in your face. I have never been a big fan of the dogmatic placards people share on Facebook, not much originality there. I sparred with a few friends, especially over Israel. One guy actually cursed me. Yesterday, some guy put up a chart comparing ISIS with Right Wing Christians and the Tea Party. Now personally, I don't belong to a political party, but I know that even Tea Party members do not behead people. It's time to decrease my network.

Mar 9, 2015

Visiting Easton


Being one of the last warm days of the year, I thought we would visit Easton. I thought perhaps it would be more interesting to do the trip circa 1948. Lehigh Valley Transit had a trolley that went from 8th and Hamilton, through Bethlehem, to the circle in Easton. In the photo above, we're coming down Northampton Street, just entering the Circle. The Transit Company was using both trolleys and buses, until they discontinued trolleys completely, in 1953. At this time, Hamilton, Broad and Northampton Streets were the shopping malls of the era, and public transportation serviced the customers. The Transit Company, now Lanta, currently serves the Allentown population from a prison like facility at 6th and Linden Streets; It just needs a fence. Easton mayor Sal Panto is now also abandoning the merchants for a remote transportation/correction facility, which will entertain the inmates with the Al Bundy High School Dropout Museum. Hope you enjoyed the trip.
reprinted from November of 2011

UPDATE: The above post was written in 2011, but it's taken Sal Panto longer than expected to build the Lanta Transfer/Parking Deck. The planned Al Bundy Museum is now being replaced instead by Easton City Hall, where Sal is expected to wear his high school football uniform. As it turns out, Sal and I have something in common, we both worked at our fathers' meat markets in Easton. My father's market was called Melbern, and was on S. 4th Street, catty corner the Mohican Market. During the early 1960's, on my way to lunch in the circle, I would stop and visit a friend who worked at Iannelli's chicken and coldcut counter in the 5&10 on Northampton Street. The meat markets and commerce on Northampton Street are long gone, but Easton's Center Square is having a revival as the place to dine.

Mar 6, 2015

The Mohican Markets

Once, before the malls, there were three thriving cities in the Lehigh Valley, and some merchants would have a store in each of the downtowns. Some of the buildings still exist, and have been reused; The Allentown Farr (shoe) Building is now loft apartments. Two of three Mohican Market buildings, famous for baked goods, no longer exist. The Easton location, on S. 4th St., was victim to fire. The Allentown store is now the parking lot behind the new Butz office building. The Mohican Markets were owned and operated by Bernard Molovinsky, who purchased the three Lehigh Valley stores from a small chain located in New York and Pennsylvania.

revised and reprinted from September of 2007

Mar 5, 2015

Lehigh Valley's Winters Of Discontent

We are clearly in another winter of discontent. Some winters we have a lot of snow, some a lot of cold, this winter we seem to be having both. I clearly remember the winters of 1983 and 1994. As a property manager, I would drive the alleys of Allentown, between one sidewalk to clear, and another, in an never ending cycle. My station wagon, loaded with shovels, ice breakers and salt, would steer itself in the ice ruts, as if on a children's amusement ride at Dorney Park. Let's hope for a warmer tomorrow.

Center City Allentown 1983

Mar 4, 2015

The Incredible Shrinking President

I believe that Obama was incredibly small about Netanyahu's speech. Although I understand that Obama would have preferred Netanyahu to stay home, once the speech was arranged, a bigger president would have invited the prime minister to visit the White House while in Washington. Instead, we saw accusations about a violation of the Logan Act, and statements about disrespect. For Netanyahu, this wasn't about lyrics to a Aretha Franklin Song, but survival for his country. For Joe Biden to hide, and congressmen to boycott, was just juvenile pouting. There were indeed many aspects to this situation, for both Netanyahu and Congress. But, at the very least, a well informed person offered to brief them on a major issue of our time.

Mar 3, 2015

A Spokesman For Israel

In my post yesterday I engaged a gentleman critical of Israel and its leadership. In the comment section he accused Israel of nazi like behavior, for a unproven  allegation that some Ethiopian women where injected with the three month contraceptive Depo-Provera, while staying in a transition camp in Ethiopia awaiting transfer to Israel decades ago. If some women were given a temporary contraceptive without their full understanding, it's certainly not of no consequence. However, to compare that alleged occurrence to torturous medical experiments by Dr. Mengele in the concentration camps takes a jaded eye toward Israel and its people. Critics of Israel take delight in accusing Israel of nazi behavior.

Although I write about Israel here on my blog, I'm not qualified in anyway to be a spokesman for that country. However, today at 11:00 a.m. on C-Span, you can hear a qualified spokesman. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be speaking on what he believes is a matter of Israel's very survival.

Mar 2, 2015

Netanyahu's Speech And The Black Caucus

My associate over at The African American Clarion Call is not happy about Netanyahu's upcoming address to Congress, he finds it disrespectful to Obama. He resents the Democrats who are not boycotting the speech, and specifically any that belong to the Black Caucus. He has particular scorn for a group of African American Pastors who have urged the caucus members to attend. He writes, This is not just embarrassing for Obama, but for the entire country that a foreign leader, particularly one like Netanyahu, can hold that sort of sway over our elected officials. It's like Netanyahu is the president rather than Obama. It's certainly the case that the congress fears Netanyahu more than the Obama. Basically, the Israeli lobby has purchased the entire congress. In regard to the pastors, he goes on to say, Just goes to show that everyone can be bought.

I  totally disagree with the writer about  the appropriateness of Netanyahu's speech, and who should attend. However,  this post is not about that disagreement, but about an engrained stereotype about the Jews and Israel. The writer assumes that anybody who supports Netanyahu's right to speak must have been bought and paid for by the Jews.  Fortunately for Israel, not everybody shares that prejudice.

Feb 27, 2015

Stealing Businesses Is Now Our Industry

When I was a kid growing up in the 1950's, I couldn't begin to tell you everything that was manufactured in Allentown. If it was telephones at Western Electric, toasters at General Electric, or thousands of shirts and pants at dozens of textile mills, Allentown produced product. We now call distributing all the products Made In China an industry. Commercial Development in 2015 is reduced to stealing existing businesses from another state, or even a neighboring town. We pay people to direct Development Authorities, which orchestrate these musical chair jobs. The tax incentives given to facilitate the musical chairs do nothing for the residents but increase their tax burden. Although having no new product, these Authorities and incentives have become an industry in themselves. They have become the talking points for our politicians. Maybe not as a region or a state, but as a country, we would be much better off producing more, and playing musical chairs less.

photo shows toaster ovens being manufactured on S. 12th St. in Allentown

Feb 26, 2015

Allentown City Hall For Sale

I should clarify that I'm not talking about Allentown's current City Hall, some people think that it already has been bought and sold. I'm talking about the canopy over the main  entrance on Linden Street, and the  CITY HALL sign,  shown in the photograph above. Stored all this time, these Allentown artifacts are now available for the first time in over half a century. Send serious inquires as a confidential comment to this post.

Click on photograph to enlarge image.

Feb 25, 2015

The Sorry Streets Of Allentown

While Mayor Pawlowski boasts of one NIZ success after another, the quality of life for center city residents is dismal this winter. While merchants and property owners cleared their sidewalks, the city and Parking Authority has failed to provide cleared parking spaces, even on Hamilton Street. Quality of life must be for more than a few NIZ barons. In prior administrations, the parking lanes were cleared, curb to curb. Although losing the water department personnel and equipment may have complicated the effort to properly clear the snow and ice, there is no excuse for the state of Allentown's Streets.

Feb 24, 2015

Watchmen For Jerusalem


Isaiah 62:6-7
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, 7 and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

Christian Zionism is appreciated by Israel
Today, Christians by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, by the tens of millions – today they have heard this call, and they stand with Israel. I salute you, the people of Israel salute you, the Jewish people salute you.                                                                                                 Benjamin Netanyahu
From a Christian Zionist radio station operated in Israel by Stan Goodenough, to the mega ministries of John Hagee  and Joel Olsteen, Christian appreciation of the Jewish State continues to grow.       Christians United for Israel








On May 28, 1948 the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem fell to the Arab Legion; They immediately destroyed the Hurva Synagogue (in anticipation of the arrival of King Abdullah) and began burning and looting Jewish shops. No Jew would again pray at the Western Wall until 1967. Photo from 1948 Life Magazine shows residents of the Jewish Quarter on the shortest exile in modern Jewish history; 500 yards, through the Zion Gate to the New City.

reprinted from June of 2013

Feb 23, 2015

The Truth Of Wehr's Dam

Recent articles in The Morning Call on Wehr's Dam painted an environmentally motivated Wildlands Conservancy, against a few history buffs, who are without much merit. The reality of the iconic site is just the opposite. The Wildlands has been generalizing the science, and minimizing the rich history. Although strong currents and danger did exist at Allentown's Jordan Park Dam, those things were never a factor at  Wehr's in South Whitehall. The water at Wehr's flows over the dam, not through a pipe, as it did at Jordan Park. Although dams can be a barrier for fish migration, the real factor in that section of the Jordan is the disappearing creek phenomena, where the water dries up into the porous stone stream bed during the summer. Numerous local environmentalist have publicly stated that in the case of Wehr's, the history and beauty trump the Wildlands' generalizations. To create the fabricated cost assigned to repair the dam by the Wildlands, one would have to restore it to brand new condition, for which there is absolutely no need. Although the dam isn't registered as an official historic site, its history has been well appreciated in the Lehigh Valley for generations. Last, but most important,  the reports have not included the scenic beauty of the dam site. The park itself was created because of the majestic view and popularity as a destination.

Feb 20, 2015

Lehigh Valley History, A Thing Of Wonder Gone

The former greenhouse at the current Trexler Park was the pride of Harry and Mary Trexler. The General was very specific in his will about its future;
I, Harry C. Trexler declare this to be my last Will and Testament: ......into the Treasury of the City of Allentown, for the perpetual maintenance of said Park, (Trexler) as well as the Greenhouse thereon located. This bequest shall include all the plants and other contents of said Greenhouse (1929)
Although nobody in charge of Allentown remembers, the greenhouse was a thing of wonder. Full of banana trees and other tropical plants, it was a true escape from winter for all visitors. Its demolition was a project that the Wildlands Conservancy would have loved. The park director at the time touted all the money in maintenance to be saved. He then took that projected money and planted the southeast section of the park along Cedar Creek in natural species. Last year Allentown Park Department cut down all those trees planted at the time, and we now have nothing to show for our loss of the greenhouse.

Flash ahead twenty years, and South Whitehall Township will demolish another thing of wonder, if not stopped. The Wildlands Conservancy paid an engineering firm to compromise their credibility with an absurd report, on how expensive it would be to keep Wehr's Dam. I will not let the dam go quietly.