Apr 27, 2017

Allentown's Mayoral Race

Back in 2014, I wrote several posts on two people who I thought would run for mayor in the next election, Charlie Thiel and Sam Bennett. In addition to writing about them, I also interviewed them, and ran the subsequent posts on this blog.

Move ahead three years and the primary election is upon us. Beyond clarifying that I believe that it's time for Mr. Pawlowski to move on, I decided not to endorse any one candidate. Yesterday, somebody asked me why I didn't attend a recent candidates evening. I don't believe that it's possible to write about so many candidates in an even handed fashion, nor am I motivated to make such an attempt.  Beyond that, I prefer to deal with issues, not personalities. Rest assure that whoever wins this election will clearly know how I feel on the issues facing Allentown.

In the meantime, The Morning Call has been doing extensive interviews with all the candidates. On their page you can read  about how they feel on practically any topic under the sun.

Apr 26, 2017

South Whitehall's Pasteurized Democracy

Recently, the Morning Call printed a letter praising the character of one of the candidates for South Whitehall Commissioner. Now, this is the same newspaper which refuses to print my letters about the township's conspiracy against its voters concerning Wehr's Dam. Although, the residents voted to repair and keep the dam, the township is allowing the Wildlands Conservancy to back-channel with the state, to condemn the structure. While my letter is news in every sense of the word, the candidate endorsement was just puff nonsense; The commissioner election in South Whitehall is only a dummy. There are no more candidates running than available openings. Like the sign pictured above, it is just an allusion of democracy, in an uncontested election.

My readers may be starting to wonder what's with me and this Wehr's Dam conspiracy, post after post?  There has always been sacred cows like the Wildlands Conservancy. However, in the past the newspapers would have an offbeat columnist, like Paul Carpenter, to write about the "irregularities" in the community. After that era, the paper would at least allow a citizen like myself to speak out. We now have entered the pasteurized zone, where no dissent is permitted.

Apr 25, 2017

Questionable Integrity of South Whitehall Township

The new edition of the South Whitehall Township magazine, in addition to updating residents on new programs and regulations, features the park system. Among the many park programs offered this summer, in addition to movies and concerts, are special children's nature programs, outsourced to The Wildlands Conservancy. Though many of these activities are scheduled in Covered Bridge Park, there is not one mention of Wehr's Dam.   Understand, that this past November voters passed the Wehr's Dam Referendum. In doing so, they agreed to a possible tax increase to keep their beloved dam. It is almost unheard of that voters pass a referendum which could increase their taxes. This referendum was put on the ballot by the South Whitehall Commissioners to enable the Wildlands Conservancy to demolish the dam. with no political consequence to the commissioners. So,  after having a devious referendum which backfired on the township and Conservancy, there is no mention of the dam in the summer magazine?

The township is now conspiring with the Wildlands Conservancy to have Harrisburg condemn the dam, despite the referendum. I have secured letters between the Conservancy, Harrisburg and the township, questioning the dam's structural integrity. The integrity that should be questioned is that of the township.

Apr 24, 2017

Allentown's Declining Park System

Bill White recently used this photograph to write about the homeless shelter, which is in the former Fountain Park Pool house. Bill concerns himself with such things, whether homeless people or homeless pets. Now, before you think of me as cold, I am, thank you. My concern with the photograph is the deteriorating swimming pool. Allentown closed the pool years ago,  rather than replace a $160,000 filter pump. We now know, from Cedar Beach, that building a municipal swimming pool costs $millions of dollars. Why would you discard one for less than $200,000? If losing the Fountain pool wasn't enough, the park department has announced that they're going to also close Irving Park Pool. Actually, Pawlowski renamed that park after a football player. If all this neglect isn't enough to aggravate a park traditionalist like myself, Pawlowski also spent $1.5 million to purchase two distressed parcels for new parks,  that we don't need.

As a lifelong resident and advocate for the park system, I offered City Council my input several times; They declined. You would think that they would get tired of feigning outrage about the deteriorating park system,  when they approved every decision along its decline.

photocredit: The Morning Call

Apr 21, 2017

General Trexler's Streets

Allentown benefitted enormously from General Harry Trexler. Most obvious is the park system, which unfortunately has suffered continuous depreciation under Pawlowski's misguided priorities, and The Wildlands Conservancy's agenda.  The General's various business interests played an important part in Allentown's prosperity.  He was largely responsible for developing the West End, through his lumber, real estate and construction businesses. His connection with the Lehigh Portland Cement Company resulted in several concrete streets, which have lasted almost a hundred years.

Yesterday,  Chew Street was blacktopped over the cement, which had been there since the 1920's. Nearby, Allen Street is also still cement from that era.  Unlike cement which lasts forever,  blacktop lasts  about ten minutes;  I suppose that's why they use it now.

Apr 20, 2017

Crimes By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little folly Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam ruble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that ruble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffers.

The Wildlands Conservancy is now going to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. The township commissioners are cooperating, by having a grossly inflated price associated with repairing the dam, to justify a disingenuous referendum. Sadly, by next spring I will be showing you before and after pictures of that crime.

top photo by Tami Quigley

above reprinted from August 2016

UPDATE: To everyones surprise, especially the Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners, the referendum was approved by the voters this past November. The Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners are now conspiring to have the dam demolished anyway, by exaggerating its problems with the Pa. DEP.. Although, I have documented the communication between the Wildlands, State and township, the Morning Call will not report the conspiracy. As for Lehigh Parkway, the Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove the former dam ruble that is despoiling the vista of the Robin Hood Bridge piers.

Apr 19, 2017

Fighting Sacred Cows

One of the things that sustains me producing this blog, day in and out for ten years, is fighting the sacred cows which roam in our valley. Of course, one of the most influential is The Wildlands Conservancy. Northampton County has officially turned over planning of their park system to those schemers. Recently, when I told the South Whitehall Commissioners that they were in bed with the Conservancy, one of their members took offense. Never mind that the Conservancy officially manages the largest program in their largest park, or that their park director is the son of one the Conservancy's paid officers. Facts aside, he took offense. Despite a voters referendum to maintain Wehr's Dam, its survival is in jeopardy because of back channel communication between the Conservancy and the state DEP. Despite having documented this outrage to The Morning Call, the newspaper refuses to print my exposé, in order to protect the Wildlands Conservancy.

The Wildlands Conservancy has degraded the Allentown Park System, by both deed and silence. They persuaded a weak park director, mayor, and city council to demolish the Robin Hood and Fish Hatchery Dams. Likewise, all summer the creeks are hidden from view, while invasive species clog access to the refreshing water. Our elected officials apparently cannot understand that our parks were not meant to be wildlands.

Although fighting sacred cows and hypocrites is taxing, I gladly pay the price. It's awkward to be told to keep it short and polite before you speak. It's frustrating to see the local media ignore the truth.

Remember, when you visit the parks this summer to keep your kids and pets away from the tick infested bush and weeds along the creeks.

Apr 18, 2017

Pawlowski's Pitch

Our campaign has been working hard and now we're getting ready to really ramp things up for the Primary Election Campaign.
As a fun and exciting way to kick off the fall campaign, we're planning Pawlowski for Mayor House Parties across Allentown and we need your help.
Can you help us by hosting a house party?
As a host, we'll ask you to invite your friends and neighbors to come over to your house to spend a fun evening hearing about the great things happening in Allentown and have an opportunity to ask questions directly to the mayor.
A victory in the Primary is an important step toward Reelection. I need your help to finish the job of moving our city forward. Please help us by hosting a house party and getting your friends and neighbors involved in our campaign.
Also if you have friends who might want to host their own house party, please forward this email and ask them to sign up as a host. 
Thank you for all of your hard work and support.
Sincerely, Mayor Ed Pawlowski

Pawlowski has been pitching small Hispanic gatherings at house parties, complete with a power point presentation on how Allentown has been revitalizing under his leadership. With the crowded field, he probably only needs about 1700 votes. However, his strategy is no secret to his opponents, who are endeavoring to match that number. Consequently, this highly contested primary may actually result in a high turnout.

sourced from facebook

Apr 17, 2017

Muhlenberg Poll Bodes Well For Pawlowski

A poll by Muhlenberg College indicated about a third of Allentown residents would vote for Pawlowski again.  The Morning Call reporter,  Emily Opilo, was surprised about how many city residents were unaware of Pawlowski's pending indictment.  She must think that everybody reads The Morning Call!!!  In general, the Hispanic minority majority are not well informed on local issues.  As I previously posted,  Pawlowski has been courting this demographic for months.   Many who do know of Pawlowski's troubles are not bothered by the accusations, even if true.  With seven candidates in the Democratic primary,  it will not take many votes to win.

If there is a silver cloud in this poll for the other candidates, it is the fact that Muhlenberg polls are always far off the mark.  Someone suggested that if the other candidates really want to see new leadership in Allentown,  that most of them should withdraw, and throw their support to someone at the front of the pack.  Having spoken to most of the candidates,  I don't see that happening.

Apr 14, 2017

Wrestling With Lehigh Valley Indifference

It's not  easy wrestling with the indifference of the Lehigh Valley. Once three cities of concerned citizenry, we're now an area of newcomers. The large growing Hispanic demographic is isolated from local issues by both language and poverty. The wealthy suburban migrants didn't move here to bother themselves with local politics. Consequently, we have an upcoming mayoral election with nine candidates, headed by our own Boss Tweed.

Our newspaper, once owned by a local family, is now part of a national media company.  Its building is now owned by the largest property owner in center city, and principal beneficiary of the largest tax incentive program in Pennsylvania's history.

Advocates who fight for issues, especially against local sacred cows,  are mostly reduced to private soapboxes, to publicize their cause.  Whether you're a blogger trying to inform the public that a municipality is trying to subvert the results of a referendum,  or a former president judge rallying against excessive profits from a tax-free hospital,  the sacred cows are protected by the media.  Furthermore,  the media is very indignant when you point that shortcoming out.  Never the less, there are a few of us who continue to dive into the ring.

Apr 13, 2017

NIZ And The Taxpayer

New construction is pretty easy to tax,  the cost is a matter of public record, especially in the NIZ.  Reilly's City Center Real Estate is allowed to harness state taxes to pay its debt service.  When PA's largest tax incentive program was being hawked,  J Q Public was told that the local property taxes generated would be his reward.  As it turned out,  Reilly's attorney found a loose end, putting less money into the local tax coffers.

The assessment on commercial buildings can be challenged based on income generated. Because Reilly charges less rent in his taxpayer subsidized buildings,  his attorney has successfully challenged the assessments based on construction cost.  Although there is some logic to that argument, it ignores the reality of the public subsidy,  and the original rational for the program.  His attorney claims that the public is still getting more than they were before the revitalization, and omits the fact that it's almost a $million less annually than expected.

Because the Allentown School District is experiencing a huge shortfall, this tax reduction for Reilly has real consequences to the public.  Mayor for Life Ed Pawlowski thinks that the tax break for Reilly is fair.

photocredit: The Morning Call

Apr 12, 2017

Fake Indignation By South Whitehall Commissioners

In June of 2014,  South Whitehall Commissioners approved the removal of Wehr's Dam by The Wildlands Conservancy.  As this press article from the time clearly shows,  the subsequent study of the dam was only directed at it's removal.

The Wildlands Conservancy designed South Whitehall's Park Master Plan, which calls for the dam's removal.

The Wildlands Conservancy is in charge of the Jordan Greenway Project in South Whitehall's Covered Bridge Park.

South Whitehall allowed the Wildlands Conservancy to send reports to Harrisburg, claiming that the dam is in poor condition.

Since residents voted to preserve the dam last November,  South Whitehall has not modified its MasterPlan calling for the dam's demolition.

South Whitehall has not advocated for the dam, or corrected misinformation forwarded to the state DEP by the Wildlands Conservancy.

Last Wednesday, when I told the commissioners that they were cooperating with the Wildlands Conservancy to subvert the intent of the voters referendum,  they took great offense.

photocredit: ytreephotography.com

Apr 11, 2017

Bill White Exonerates Bernie O'Hare

On Sunday, Bill White started his annual Hall of Shame series.  Although, he claims it is a hall of fame,  we all know better.  As usual in Part 1,  he lists all the previous people that he has ridiculed over the years. Previous winner Bernie O'Hare has been flattering to Bill recently.  In one blog post he identifies White as a winner in a state journalism award ceremony.  In another post, he pictures White at a public meeting.  In White's column, both print and web versions, O'Hare's name doesn't appear with all the other previous honorees. In a follow up blog piece on the history of his Hall of Shame, he again fails to correct the O'Hare oversight. With two columns, we must assume that it was an intentional omission.

O'Hare received an award for his writing in the Bethlehem Press from the same outfit that awarded White. Perhaps White doesn't want to diminish his award by identifying a fellow winner with his booby prize contest. Regardless, congratulations to O'Hare, for being the first person to escape from the annual shaming.

ADDENDUM: Bernie O'Hare took this post as an attack upon both himself and Bill White.  You can read his reaction here.  He finds me jealous, mean spirited, and petty. 

UPDATE: I placed the following comment on O'Hare's blog post, he subsequently deleted it;
 bernie, last time i commented on one of your blog posts you deleted it, hopefully you will allow this one to stand. the difference between you and me is your concept of loyalty. i don't factor loyalty or friendship into blogging; i simply write the truth, as i see it. last year when you mentioned a small monetary contribution to morganelli as a disclaimer, i commented that you made an "understatement". you took my observation as a personal insult, and violation of our friendship. i simply thought a $25 dollar contribution was nothing compared to all the favorable things that you wrote about him over the years. likewise, yesterday i pointed out that i believe that bill white was extending you a courtesy by not including you in his recap list. again, you took it as an insult. IMO, the only ad hominem attack was your reply.

Apr 10, 2017

Brouhaha In The Political Blogosphere

As I have written previously, besides wanting to see Pawlowski replaced, I will be making no recommendation in the mayoral race.  Although, it was my intention to reprint my neutrality before the election, circumstances accelerate my schedule.  Over the weekend candidate Sam Bennett linked to my previous post about Bill White and Pawlowski on a facebook page.  Fellow blogger Chris Casey then chimed in that Pawlowski was instrumental in the NIZ, and went on to write about Bennett;  The only reason you are running for mayor is your ego. You have no skills or experience whatsoever that would qualify you to handle the debacle that is Allentown at this level.......

Casey has been active in the Democratic politics, and ran himself for office in the past.  He openly admits to having done oppositional research, including some assignments for previous local elections. Because I find Bennett's qualifications on par with her opponents,  I cannot help but think that Casey's comment was politically motivated.  If his motivation indeed was to help another candidate,  it's no crime;  It's called politics.

It is my hope that Casey takes this post as the political observation that it is, as opposed to a personal insult. I also commented on Bennett's Facebook post, but only reaffirming Pawlowski's incidental involvement in the NIZ.  I feel compelled to set the record straight on links concerning my blog posts.

Apr 9, 2017

Slaughter Of The Innocents

Much of the dogma, liturgy and shrines of the Coptic Church deal with the Holy Family's stay in Egypt, when they fled the Slaughter of the Innocents. With of the fall of various despots in the middle east, the iron fists which protected religious minorities are no longer there. Particularly affected, are the ancient Coptic Christians of Egypt. Saint Mena Coptic Orthodox Church dates back to the 6th century, and was rebuilt in 725 AD. It was put to the torch by a mob on Saturday, while the army stood by.
reprinted from May 2011,  April 2013

UPDATE:  The Coptic Christians have suffered yet another attack yesterday in Egypt.

The Coptic Church Of Alexandria

The Church and Theology School in Alexandria was established by the Apostle Mark in 60AD. Most of the early converts were common Egyptians who spoke Coptic. Although Christians became the majority before the Arab invasion in 636, by the 12th century they were the minority. The concept of monasteries in Christianity was started by the Coptics in the deserts of Egypt. Currently, the Coptics are threatened by transitions in Egypt, let us pray for their safety.

photograph of St. Marks Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

reprinted from December 2016

Apr 7, 2017

Bill White's Elephant

In Bill White's recent column on the upcoming Democratic primary, he fails to mention the elephant in the news room.  He gives Pawlowski some of the credit for the redevelopment of downtown, but doesn't specifically mention the NIZ and J.B. Reilly.  This is a real omission,  because Reilly now literally owns the Morning Call building, and most of the developable real estate in the NIZ.  I see no relationship to the NIZ by Pawlowski.  It was created by Pat Browne.  I would bet that J.B. knew about the proposal long before Pawlowski.  Although, it occurred on Pawlowski's watch, and they allowed him to cut a few ribbons,  he was not involved in its inception or implementation.  As proof of his irrelevance to the NIZ,  not one of the FBI's accusations against the Pawlowski administration involve any NIZ projects.

I do not believe that Reilly owning the newspaper building in itself negates the paper's ability to deliver NIZ news. Another article on the NIZ in Thursday's paper spells out how Reilly received the overwhelming majority of the program's tax benefit toward his debt service.  However,  considering White's continuous defense of all things NIZ, a fuller disclosure was in order.

Apr 6, 2017

Allentown Cheerleading

There's a young Allentown cheerleader I sparred with several times on facebook. Yesterday, he found and posted a list which rated Allentown as one of the top five midsize cities in the northeast to visit. How silly is that? I drive all around Allentown, including Hamilton Street, several times a week. Can you imagine how disappointing it would be to actually take a vocation to Allentown based on that article? The list was created by some travel outfit called RewardExpert.

Now, I understand how such a list gets created. Some young person gets an assignment, and bases the article on other articles that he has read,  without ever visiting the town himself.  But how does the cheerleader, who actually lives here, take pride in such nonsense? Now, that's not to say that Allentown isn't improving, but to be a vocation destination?

Apr 5, 2017

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 2015

Apr 4, 2017

Mr. Molovinsky, That's Being Very Insensitive

Recently, I got a call from a valued reader saying I was being culturally rude in a post.  He was alarmed because I was quoting someone  he considers biased against a certain group.  He asked me several times how I would feel if someone was making a comment that I considered anti-semitic.  Although, I was glad to discuss the issue with him,  he overestimates my sensitivity.

Here in the blogosphere, anonymous is the comment name of choice.  Most people aren't willing to own their own words, even when they're being politically correct.  However,  anonymous said allows them to really let loose.  Some bloggers allow anonymous, but then reprimand their commenters when they insult someone.  Here at molovinsky, I allow registered pseudonyms.

Now, there is nothing wrong with people who have manners, but chances are they will not become bloggers.

Apr 3, 2017

The Hope of Marine Le Pen

With the exception of Israel, this blog seldom goes outside of the USA.  I mention Israel, because today I write about Marine Le Pen,  who is being compared to Donald Trump,  as France's populist candidate. Marine Le Pen is a French nationalist who wants to divorce France from the European Union.  She wants to reestablish her country's borders and currency. She wants to unlink their destiny with Brussels and Berlin, especially in regard to immigrants and refugees. Le Pen heads the far right National Front Party.  The party was led by her father for decades,  who was known for his anti-semitic statements.

Marine's rising popularity is tied to increasing fear about the unassimilated Muslim minority, and the radicalization therein.  That radicalization has resulted in lethal attacks against the general population, and Jews in particular.  Le Pen would minimize immigration,  and greatly restrict refugees.  She openly considers France a Christian nation.  She would ban Hijabs, and expect Jews to sacrifice yarmulkas, instead using hats for religious head covering.  She would ban dual citizenship outside of Europe, which would mean that some French Jews could no longer also maintain Israeli citizenship.  While such proposed restrictions alarm most French Jews, there are those among them that find the status quo more dangerous.  Complete religious freedom doesn't mean much if you're being run down by trucks or shot in Jewish Day Schools.

Unlike Trump, Le Pen is seasoned in politics and is articulate.  The French election involves two rounds, with the first occurring this month.  The top two vote getters face off in May.

Mar 31, 2017

Pawlowski's Immigrants

Yesterday, Pawlowski announced The Mayor's Office of Immigration Services in the city's Alliance Hall.  I have reported previously that Pawlowski is courting the small migrant groups in Allentown, and has provided them with  space in the city owned building. Among those groups were new Liberian and Kenyan organizations.

The immigration help center may jeopardize Allentown's federal block grant funds. Pawlowski claims that those funds are marginal anyway. In years past he had a designated employee who processed an elaborate application process from various agencies, which was an annual tradition since his first term in 2006.  Those funds might be marginal to the city, but they are primary to various agencies which depend on them to operate.

He now states that "We can't have a large portion of our citizenship living in fear," I don't know how many people, if any, Pawlowski's action will actually save from deportation. With our Democratic City Council he will probably get away with this election stunt.  I do know that there are other fears in Allentown, such as fear of crime.  There's even the fear of bad local government.

Mar 30, 2017

Pawlowski's Patronage Positions

During the mayoral campaign of 2005 I was aghast at Pawlowski's blatant acts of pandering. He would point out to the audience and say "There's a man who will work at city hall if I'm elected"., "That woman will be at city hall if you elect me"; even the person who carried his briefcase during the campaign now works at city hall. Although I will not reveal the names or positions of these individuals, let me assure you their jobs are by no means necessary, and we would all be better off with a few more police officers. This brings me to an article in today's Morning Call, that Louie Belletieri is resigning his unnecessary job, because he couldn't handle the frustration with City Hall's slow pace and bureaucracy. Fortunately for Pawlowski, the reporter doesn't realize that as Director of Community Development under Afflerbach, Pawlowski implemented and spend $3 million dollars remodeling city Hall to make it efficient and business friendly. Although this past October, Pawlowski hired a second coordinator to help people through the city permit process, and Louie said "it's not like the real world," the mayor hopes to refill the "position" as soon as possible. It's not the real world.


UPDATE: Pawlowski would go on to his second, third and now attempted fourth term, and really show Allentown what patronage can be. Now wounded by the federal investigation, he's hoping that his handout of jobs and promises to the little people will be enough to cobble together a victory this coming May.

Mar 29, 2017

The People's Candidate

In the late 1970's, neighbors would gather in the market on 9th Street to complain and receive consolation from the woman behind the cash register. Emma was a neighborhood institution. A native Allentonian, she had gone through school with mayor for life Joe Dadonna, and knew everybody at City Hall. More important, she wasn't shy about speaking out. What concerned the long time neighbors back then was a plan to create a Historical District, by a few newcomers.

What concerned Emma wasn't so much the concept, but the proposed size of the district, sixteen square blocks. The planners unfortunately all wanted their homes included, and they lived in an area spread out from Hall Street to 12th, Linden to Liberty.* Shoving property restrictions down the throats of thousands of people who lived in the neighborhood for generations didn't seem right to Emma. As the battle to establish the district became more pitched, Emma began referring to it as the Hysterical District.
Emma eventually lost the battle, but won the hearts of thousands of Allentonians. Emma Tropiano would be elected to City Council beginning in 1986, and would serve four terms. In 1993 she lost the Democratic Primary for Mayor by ONE (1) vote.

Her common sense votes and positions became easy fodder for ridicule. Bashed for opposing fluoridation, our clean water advocates now question the wisdom of that additive. Although every founding member of the Historical District moved away over the years, Emma continued to live on 9th Street, one block up from the store. In the mid 1990's, disgusted by the deterioration of the streetscape, she proposed banning household furniture from front porches. Her proposal was labeled as racist against those who could not afford proper lawn furniture. Today, SWEEP officers issue tickets for sofas on the porch.

Being blunt in the era of political correctness cost Emma. Although a tireless advocate for thousands of Allentown residents of all color, many people who never knew her, now read that she was a bigot. They don't know who called on her for help. They don't know who knocked on her door everyday for assistance. They don't know who approached her at diners and luncheonettes all over Allentown for decades. We who knew her remember, and we remember the truth about a caring woman.

* Because the designated Historical District was too large, it has failed, to this day, to create the atmosphere envisioned by the long gone founders. Perhaps had they listened to, instead of ridiculing, the plain spoken shopkeeper, they would have created a smaller critical mass of like thinking homeowners, who then could have expanded the area.

reprinted yearly since 2010

photo: The Morning Call

Mar 28, 2017

Made In The Lehigh Valley

The other day I was self checking out of the grocery store, and across the aisle was Bethlehem Steel T-Shirts.  They were made to look retro, with pre-faded logo and copy, which said MADE IN USA.  Although, I knew the phrase referred to the steel,  I couldn't resist looking at the shirt's label.  Needless to say, it was made in China. Ironically, Bethlehem Steel was a self sufficient company, which even  produced ships with its own steel.

When I was a boy I worked in my father's meat market located at the foot of Union Street, where the Hamilton Street Bridge crossed over the Lehigh River.  Saturday was busy, with many customers who worked at the Steel, Lehigh Structural, Black and Decker, Western Electric, Mack and dozens of sewing factories.  A couple of guys who worked during the week at Arbogast & Bastian helped my dad out on Saturdays.  Both Swift and Wilson meat packers had wholesale branches near by.  They would be supplied by rail sidings,  which  criss-crossed that area of the city.  At that time everything was made in America, except for cheap novelty junk.  Now, in addition to losing our manufacturing,  we're even losing our retail,  as everything comes directly from online ordering and warehouses.    I suppose that soon the cashiers at the supermarket will be a relic of the past.

Mar 27, 2017

Trump Inspired Anti-Semitism Debunked

In recent weeks the liberals were convinced that the bomb threats against Jewish institutions was the result of Trump exciting the neo Nazi types during the campaign.  Those liberals of course included most Jews.  I always felt, and blogged, that the connection to those incitements was fabricated by the media and his distractors.  I also defended Steve Bannon.  Well, lo and behold, the phoned threats originated from a emotionally disturbed Jewish boy in Israel.

The media of course has nothing to say about their erred speculation.  They are now concentrating exclusively on Trump's defeat with repealing Obama Care.  However, if you don't mind, I want to stay on this error for a few more sentences.  We are constantly reminded that Trump lost the popular vote. Never the less, slightly less than half the votes were cast for Trump.  Was not the media's presumption about the source of the phone threats somewhat insulting to this large portion of the population?

Now,  I'm just a small town pizza blogger,  but I know when there is a disconnect between elitism and populism.  Those smirks on the condescending liberal pundits faces returned, less than a week after the election. Must be grand to be so self-righteous.

Mar 24, 2017

St. Matthew's Monastery

St. Matthew's Monastery in Kurdish Iraq, one of the oldest Christian Institutions in the world, was built by Christians fleeing persecution in 363 AD. Today, 16 centuries later, Christians are once again seeking shelter there. In the last decade it has been estimated that half the Christians have left Iraq. Since the Baghdad Church bombing in October, some Christians are afraid to be seen wearing a cross; Others have fled with little more than the clothes on their back. Pray for them.

St. Matthew's is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church

reprinted from December 2010. Things have only gotten worse for the Christians in Iraq, many more have fled.

reprinted from May 2013.   The situation in Iraq has become even more perilous. Those Christians unable to leave Iraq have mostly taken shelter in north section of the country, under control of the Kurds. 

UPDATE: I started posting about the plight of Christians in Iraq and the greater Middle East in 2010. The next reprint was in May of 2013, and conditions had only gotten worse.  Now, in 2014,  they are outright victims of genocide.  The Monastery is still be used for protection.

The Sabaean Mandeans of Iraq

I'm glad that the plight of Christians in Iraq is starting to attract main stream media attention, but there is another persecuted group you may not hear about. The Mandeans predate Christianity, do not believe in Christ, and are believed to have been followers of John the Baptist. Accepting no converts, their numbers have always been small. Apparently, they migrated to the swamps south of current Baghdad after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Their writings are in Aramaic, the language of the Bible in the time of Jesus. Their rules and ethics are similar to Jewish tradition. Baptism is their central ritual; they call the water Jordan.

reprinted from 2010,2013 and 2014

Mar 23, 2017

While Liberal America Laments The Travel Ban

The UK has banned me from speaking because of my work opposing jihad terror and supporting Israel, but Prime Minister Theresa May allows these devout Islamic hate preachers to spew their venomous poison anywhere and everywhere. You can avoid reality, Ms. May, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. Pamela Geller 3/22/17

Terror attacks are part of living in big city, said London Mayor Sadiq Khan last year.
"You have to be kidding me?!" Response to Khan by Donald Trump Jr. yesterday. 

Trump Jr. is being criticized for insensitivity because he juxtapositions a response to Khan a year later, after the London attack yesterday. Meanwhile, back in yesteryear, Khan's remark was made after the bombing incident in NYC and elsewhere in the USA, which injured 26 people. Liberals are more upset by Jr's statement than the terrorist attacks. I suppose it's better to be politically correct than safe.

Mar 22, 2017

Pawlowski Swims In Denial

In a taped interview with The Morning Call on corruption at City Hall, Pawlowski stated that it would be ludicrous to modify the system because a few people acted improperly. What he failed to mention is that those people pleaded guilty to illegal acts for his benefit, and allegedly under his direct or indirect control.

That he remains a favorite to win, or even viable, bodes poorly for Allentown. As I have reported before, and as revealed on his Facebook page, he has been courting selected small minority groups and businesses, as opposed to the more established among them.  The fact that they would even consider voting for him is a problem in itself.  If he prevails on May 16th, Allentown has officially turned the wrong corner.

UPDATE: Francis Dougherty, former Managing Director of Allentown, and Pawlowski's #2 person, has pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to tying city contracts with donations to Pawlowski, under Pawlowski's direction.  Pawlowski is scheduled to debate the other mayoral candidates this afternoon.

UPDATE: State Representative Michael Schlossberg has joined the chorus asking for Pawlowski's resignation

photo by The Morning Call, showing candidates being asked how they would counter potential corruption in city hall.

Mar 21, 2017

Allentown's Republican Primary

Local Republican Jews and Republican Hispanics have something in common, they can fit their meetings into small rooms.  Because of Obama's attitude toward Israel,  the Jews now need a slightly larger room than they did before,  but this post is about Hispanics.

I wasn't surprised when Luiz Garcia announced his candidacy.  I had mentioned his interest on this blog before he made it official.  Although Luiz survived the challenge yesterday in court,  the real hurdle will be on primary day.  There are very few registered Hispanic Republicans in Allentown. Those readers afflicted with political correctness may take some umbrage with this post. They might ask me to clarify if I believe that Republicans won't vote for a Hispanic,  at least in Allentown.  Frankly dear,  I don't give a damn about political correctness. My point is that whatever cache Garcia might have with Hispanics, it won't help him in the primary.  He's on the wrong ticket for that benefit.

Nat Hyman is strongest in the deep West End, where the party faithful largely reside.  If Garcia would happen to prevail in May, he might well be a stronger candidate in the general election next fall.  In the meantime, the publicity from Garcia surviving the challenge can only help his candidacy.

Mar 20, 2017

Molovinsky Staff Photographer

Regular readers of this blog know that I had to replace my entire staff because of a mass resignation after the Women's March. One position which I didn't have to refill was staff photographer, because I have always assumed that role myself.

All candidates for mayor should understand that my advocacy for the traditional park system will continue as a important component of this blog.

photocredit: molovinsky

Pawlowski's Luck Of The Irish

Residents of the West End, from 19th street to Ott, between Tilghman and Liberty think that Pawlowski did a good job with the snow. This neighborhood, bordering into the west end, contains many super-voters.   In reality, the area was plowed curb to curb to facilitate the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday.

Reports from elsewhere in the city aren't so good.  The school system had to hire a contractor to clear the school fronts, because the city's snow removal was inadequate.

The only thing wrong with my political analysis in the first paragraph is that it is incorrect.  Unlike 2013, 2009, and 2005, that west end neighborhood does not belong to Pawlowski; It will likely go to Ray O'Connell.  Likewise, Charlie Thiel and Sam Bennett have strong sections of the city, and have been working hard for the nomination. Although, they all read this blog and my predictions, none of them concede the advantage to Pawlowski.  The Democratic Primary this year is a real horse race.

Mar 18, 2017

Jessica Lenard's Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy is oil on canvas, 60"x60". I am making this piece and other monumental works by Jessica Lenard(1950-2016) available to the public. Those so interested can contact me off line.

Mar 17, 2017

As Allentown Turns

As I posted on Wednesday, the snow storm was a gift for Pawlowski. With less snow than predicted, and warmer temperatures,  Mother Nature is cooperating to make our Mayor For Life look good. Needless to say, not all the campers are happy. Many of Allentown's narrow streets with high density, put the cars and snow at odds. Two women were arrested for fighting over a parking spot.

On the political scene, while there have been challenges in the small Republican slate, the large Democratic group of mayoral candidates remain unscathed.

Pawlowski's legal predicament was helped out last year when a federal prosecutor resigned to run for District Attorney in Philadelphia.  Pawlowski may now benefit again,  as Trump and Sessions restock the Justice Department.

While everybody cares about the snow and parking, I'm afraid very few residents concern themselves about who will prevail on May 16th.

Billy Mack's facebook photo of 4th Street, just north of Tilghman

Mar 16, 2017

A Pink Pussy Hat Moment

Actually seeing Pawlowski in a plow truck, as I predicted, has me shaking my head. Actually reading other pundits agree that Pawlowski has the advantage in the primary, had me debating the future of this blog. If not for the dual mission of trying to safeguard our historical structures, I might be laying off the new staff.

I titled this post a Pink Pussy Hat Moment because I couldn't understand why so many women weren't getting past Trump's election. If Pawlowski wins the primary, I will be in that same mental state.

Not to fully reveal my egotistical nature, but after the last several days in the blogosphere,  I think that  local readers may need my political ethics.  I suspect that even with a Pawlowski victory, I will carry on.  However,  I won't be so sure about Allentown's future.

Mar 15, 2017

Pawlowski's Manna From Heaven

The good Lord helped out Moses with manna from heaven when the Israelites were in the desert.  He has likewise helped out Pawlowski with a snowstorm before the primary election. The snow ended with about 14", below what was predicted.  Rest assure that snow removal will be beyond Allentown's usual level of performance.  Rest assure that in the coming weeks Pawlowski will applaud and pat himself on the back for that accomplishment.  Even expect a few photos of him in a snowplow.  Mayor for Life on the job.

photo by Stephanie Sigafoos/The Morning Call

Mar 14, 2017

The Hypocrisy of The Wildlands Conservancy

This past Sunday The Morning Call chronicled the raw sewage which overflows into the Little Lehigh during heavy rainstorms.  The various municipalities and the LCA  are struggling with a  formula for the shared cost of meeting the EPA guidelines. This problem has been occurring for over a decade.  I first reported the situation here on this blog seven years ago.  The biggest hypocrite in this problem is The Wildlands Conservancy.  While tearing down dams in Lehigh County to supposedly improve stream quality,  they have turned a blind eye to the sewage problem.  While the municipalities are worried about the expense of larger pipes, the Wildlands concerns itself with dam removal grants.  They are allowed to keep a certain administrative fee for each demolition.  In exchange for the municipalities cooperating with the dam deals, the Wildlands plays deaf and dumb about the sewage.  This blog has documented races and walks starting in Lehigh Parkway fields which were covered in feces and toilet paper the day before the event.

photo shows sewage overflowing into the Little Lehigh, just upstream from the drinking water plant.

Mar 13, 2017

Crucifying Grass Roots In Allentown

This past weekend blogger Bernie O'Hare and I disagreed over city council candidate Ken Heffentrager.  Ken is a founding member of a tenants association, which takes landlords to task over blighted conditions.  He has become a regular at city council, also taking the city to task for not being aggressive enough with landlords.  I have a soft spot for such grass roots activism,  having defended the traditional park system and other structures over the years.  As a former candidate myself, I appreciate the tenacity involved in running.  Heffentrager is not some main stream guy being encouraged by the local Democratic party.  On the contrary, he is an outsider,  stepping forward under his own volition.

O'Hare's comprehensive post last week on Lehigh County candidates apparently had some misnomer concerning Allentown council candidates.   When Heffentrager commented on the mistake,  O'Hare lowered the boom on him.  O'Hare  used his  research skills to discover some past legal problems and associated unpaid fines by Heffentrager.  He also challenged Heffentrager about an alleged omission on his candidate application.  He implied that Heffentrager was both a criminal and a liar.  When I added my perspective to the comment dialogue,  O'Hare doubled down with a reply that was almost a repeat, word for word, of his prior attack on Ken.

Bernie stated in a subsequent comment that he would report why Heffentrager is unfit to serve in a separate post, to warn the voters.  Heffentrager is only a second tier candidate at best, but he is a first tier attendee at city council.  Please understand that the number of people who regularly attend council meetings couldn't fill a large table at the Hamilton Family Diner.  Bernie has never suffered from a lack of self-righteousness.  Although, he will attempt to justify his attack on Heffentrager, in reality he is inadvertently helping to crucify grass root candidates in Allentown.  There is nothing in Heffentrager's background that made him ineligible to run.  There is nothing in his background that would make him ineligible to serve, if elected. There is something in Bernie's post which will discourage people in the future from stepping forward. Allentown needs all the city council candidates it can get.

ADDENDUM: O'Hare has published his promised hit piece on Heffentragger, in which he repeats over and over that Heffentragger is a criminal.  He cites two cases, which  from the small fines involved,  appear to be cases of a controlled substance.  He then goes on to question Heffentrager's income, implying that he is a drug dealer.  Although Heffentragger may have been treated compassionately by the legal system,  he was retried harshly by self-appointed Judge & Jury Bernie O'Hare.


O'Hare deleted  my comment shown above from his new hit piece on Heffentrager this morning. What a sad Punch and Judy show he runs, when doubling down on his self-righteousness

Mar 10, 2017

Allentown's Dignity On The Line

In the last several months I have often referred to my irate women facebook friends, who cannot let go of their rage against Donald Trump.  I have also mentioned that prior to this past national election, I have seen little political interest expressed by most of them.  However, today's revelation is the most disturbing to me.  Despite non-stop Trump criticism, not one of these local women have written one word about the upcoming mayoral election. They are apparently more consumed with this past November than the future.  They are apparently more concerned about things that will probably not affect them, than their own backyard.

As I have previously posted, Pawlowski is courting certain segments of the minority communities with favors and promises.  With such a crowded field, that could well be a winning strategy.  I realize that this is a controversial statement,  but anyone who knowingly votes for a candidate tainted by corruption, in return for a few more city entitlements, gets no respect from me.

If the local women, so distressed by Trump in Washington, would devote a few minutes of their time for an alternative mayoral candidate,  Allentown could emerge from the primary with some dignity.

Mar 9, 2017

Ev Bickford Not Running

Yesterday, the Morning Call had a conventional article on the conventional candidates for Allentown City Council.  This post is unconventional.

There was almost another Democratic candidate for mayor;  Everett/ Erika Bickford. Bickford is a unique grassroots person, who has been politically active in Allentown for decades. She has been particularly active in issues of social justice. Yesterday, she told me that she has decided not to run for mayor, because the field is already overcrowded. Ev was born Everett Bickford, but in recent years has presented herself as a woman more often than not. I will not elaborate on her gender identity, for I have no grasp of such subject matter. I will tell you that she is very knowledgeable on the workings and problems of Allentown. She has appeared at city council often, and is certainly a courageous person. We share a common opinion that the crowded field plays to Pawlowski's advantage. Please limit any comments to only political issues in Allentown.

Mar 8, 2017

Flash From Past

Occasionally, some of the older boys in Lehigh Parkway would get saddled with taking me along to a Saturday matinee in downtown Allentown. We would get the trolley, in later years a bus, from in front of the basement church on Jefferson Street. It would take that congregation many years to afford completing the church building there today. The trolley or bus would go across the 8th Street Bridge, which was built to accommodate the trolleys operated by Lehigh Valley Transit Company. Downtown then sported no less than five movie theaters at any one time. Particularly matinee friendly was the Midway, in the 600 Block of Hamilton. Three cartoons and episode or two of Flash Gordon entertained our entourage, which ranged in age from five to eleven years old. We younger kids, although delighted by the likes of Bugs Bunny, were confused how the Clay People would emerge from the walls in the caves on Mars to capture Captain Gordon, but our chaperones couldn't wait till the next week to learn Flash's fate. Next on the itinerary was usually a banana split at Woolworth's. Hamilton Street had three 5 and 10's, with a million things for boys to marvel at. The price of the sundae was a game of chance, with the customer picking a balloon. Inside the balloon was your price, anywhere from a penny to the full price of fifty cents. The store had a full selection of Allentown souvenirs. Pictures of West Park on a plate, the Center Square Monument on a glass, pennants to hang on your wall, and picture postcards of all the attractions. Hamilton Street was mobbed, and even the side streets were crowded with busy stores. Taking younger kids along was a responsibility for the older brothers, the streets and stores were crowded, but predators were limited to the Clay People on the silver screen.

reprinted from April of 2014

Mar 7, 2017

Pawlowski's Hole

Allentown doesn't have much of a political memory. The Morning Call changes out its reporters about every 6 months, and most political activists eventually have lobotomies out of frustration. Never the less, some of you may remember Heydt's hole. After he torn down Hess's, the hole sat there for 18 months while a group of investors failed to find financing for a amateur hockey arena. (The one built later in Bethlehem folded and now is for sale) Now, eight years later, Pawlowski has a hole. Announced with great fanfare, a local developer would build the Cosmopolitan on the site of Sal's Spaghetti House. It makes me nervous when they name a restaurant before they built it. Anyway, Pawlowski bought Sal's, and the city paid for the demolition.(Through one of its Authorities) Then the city gave the Cosmopolitan a $50,000 restaurant grant. Yes, we gave a brick-less name $50,000. I think some of the city puff bloggers were even making reservations for dinner. Back to the hole; as a sidewalk supervisor I was surprised to see the excavators dig under the adjoining Sovereign Building and pour pylons under its footers. Perhaps they were mining, mining for grants. Those pylons have enabled the developer to remove his equipment. and let that hole sit there now for over two months, with no danger to the adjoining building. I'd say about $50,000 worth of work has been done. Last month the city applied for a low cost Liquor License for the Cosmopolitan. Last week, after the Pawlowski Administration had an embarrassing "no comment" in regard to Johnny Manana's, a backhoe was moved back to outside the Cosmopolitan site. Is that backhoe a Pawlowski Prop? Does the developer sense the time is ripe for renewed grants? Does Pawlowski need a new ribbon to cut? *

* There could be legitimate reasons why construction has halted on the Cosmopolitan. However, last month the developer's attorney declined to comment on an explanation.

reprinted from August of 2008 

UPDATE: The developer(s) would go on to build the high end restaurant with their own capital. It was built pre-NIZ, and represented more faith in Allentown than many others shared at that time, including this blogger.

Mar 6, 2017

Signs Of The Time

As Allentown eagerly awaits the opening of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant and banquet facility on 6th Street, lets go back in time. Before the former Sal's Spaghetti House was demolished on that parcel, preservationists from Bucks County saved the historic sign. Had the couple been somewhat more familiar with Allentown's history, they may have realized that the sign was neither very historic or iconic.

Before Hamilton Street was bi-sected architecturally by the now gone canopy, the street was lined with large neon signs, many of which were much more elaborate than Sal's; That sign became historic by default. Interestingly, the Sal's sign for most of it's

business days, said Pat's. Pat's and the sign go back to the mid 1950's. In the late 70's, the business was taken over by Sal, and the P and T were simply changed to an S and L. But time goes on; Sal's family is now in the sauce business and have a most interesting website. Congratulations to Mayor Pawlowski and Myron Haydt for bringing the Cosmopolitan to 6th Street; May they have the success that both Pat's and Sal's enjoyed.

1963 Pat's advertisement courtesy of Larry P
Hamilton Steet watercolor by Karoline Schaub-Peeler

reprinted from July of 2010

Mar 3, 2017

White Supremacist Arrested

White supremacist Juan Thompson has been arrested for threats against various Jewish institutions. Early press releases indicate that his hatred of Jews was fanned by his devotion to Donald Trump.