Sep 28, 2016

The Dinosaurs Of Sumner Avenue


Up to the early 1950's, Allentown was heated by coal, and much of it came from Sumner Avenue. Sumner was a unique street, because it was served by the West End Branch of the Lehigh Valley Railroad. The spur route ran along Sumner, until it crossed Tilghman at 17th Street, and then looped back East along Liberty Street, ending at 12th. Coal trucks would elevate up, and the coal would be pushed down chutes into the basement coal bins, usually under the front porches of the row houses. Several times a day coal would need to be shoveled into the boiler or furnace. By the early 1970's, although most of the coal yards were closed for over a decade, the machines of that industry still stood on Sumner Avenue. Eventually, they took a short trip to one of the scrap yards, which are still on the avenue, but not before I photographed them.

reprinted from 2011

Sep 27, 2016

Trump Wins Debate


Recently, I did a post on the liberal hysteria about Donald Trump.  I put the piece on social media, and the group went crazy.  Rather than discuss the media phenomena to which I was referring,  they went right after Trump, as on cue.  I believe that this hysteria is fueled by their perception that indeed Trump may win the White House.  In another recent post,  I questioned the validity of the local college poll, which had Mrs. Clinton ahead by 9 points.  One week later, they report that the lead has shrunk to 3 points.  I believe that one week later, they realized what fools they had made of themselves, and decided to be more honest in their new tally.

We then learned that Mrs. Clinton will be prepared for the debate.  Two months ago, they considered the debate a joke,  after all, Clinton went to law school, was a senator and Secretary of State. Then, we learn that she will be prepared.  In other words,  they lowered the expectations about her performance.

Last night, after the 90 minute rumble, the pundits agreed in unison that Hillary had won. They found her more presidential, and felt that Trump went down too many rabbit holes.  They are wrong. Who won is who moves up and down in the polls. I believe that the upward move will be by Trump.  The public is not satisfied with the status quo, and has lost faith in damn statistics.  The case to be made was for change,  and Hillary failed to convince that she could bring any.

Sep 26, 2016

Pawlowski Puts Facts On The Ground


Pawlowski went ahead and had his nominee for Community Development Director start work, although the majority of Council indicated that they wouldn't approve him.  Meanwhile, back at the council chambers, council said that they couldn't fit the vote in until mid October.   Will they have the fortitude to send someone packing after he has already been working almost a month?

To me, the delay of the vote already indicates acceptance by council.  I have often seen things put on the schedule at the last moment to accommodate one agenda or person.  Another irony of this situation is that the administration is justifying the pre-approval hiring based on an opinion from a previous solictor, who of course served at Pawlowski's pleasure.  Council voted for no confidence in Pawlowski,  and I have little confidence that council will assert itself in this matter.

Sep 23, 2016

Trump In The White House


I'm so amused at the liberals and their fear of Trump. They actually equate a victory by him with the end of the Earth. Let me assure them that we will all still be here for the 2020 election, when they can again let their hysteria go wild.

It would be incorrect to interpret this post as pro-Trump, rather I remain amazed at the hostility towards him by the Clinton supporters.  I see otherwise rational people pulling their hair out about his candidacy.

It is my intention to vote for Mr. Johnson.  However, I will remain in the United States after whoever wins.

Sep 22, 2016

Obama's Gift To Trump


While another immigrant terrorized NYC with bombs this past weekend, Obama told the United Nations that walls only imprison us. He is so in love with the sound of  his own voice, that he doesn't understand how out of touch his words actually are.  While his words didn't even electrify the choir to which  he was preaching,  outside that building, his words were totally off-key.  He doesn't understand that Lady Liberty didn't mean to welcome blood hungry terrorists with meat cleavers. Pictured above a NYC cop, several days after being attacked by another terrorist just last week.

Obama is actively campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  He did her no good with his UN speech.

Sep 21, 2016

The Exoneration of Edwin Pawlowski

The Supreme Court decision (reversing the conviction) in the Virginia Governor corruption matter, U.S. vs. McDonnell, has made it impossible to convict politicians of bribery in the absence of EXPLICIT evidence of written or oral testimony that supports a DIRECT quid pro quo. The evidence has to rise to the level of actual statements between the parties that "when I give you the money, it is for the specific purpose of giving me the XYZ contract." And the politician has to reply, "Yes, I will do that because you are giving me the money." The mere fact that a party gives money & other expensive gifts & favors to the politician and the politician subsequently later takes favorable action in matters of interest, concern & direct benefit to the giver is now NOT considered a bribe, but, rather, under the Supreme Court's new understandings, mere custome & usage and political courtesy extended between politicians and their constitutents/donors/benefactors. To have decided otherwise, the Court felt would be to "criminalize" the normal social/commercial discourse between politicians and their friends & financial supporters.

So, the Mayor probably can't be prosecuted. I suspect law enforcement was waiting for the decision in McDonnell to come down before proceeding to indict him. The tapes undoubtedly record aides or even donors talking to the Mayor or his top aides about soliciting/giving/receiving funds and the Mayor saying he understands their needs & wants, is sympathetic and agrees to help, yadda yadda, but, presumably no one was dumb enough, or felt the need to even be as blunt to say or put in writing, "I am giving you XXXX dollars, and you agree to give me that zoning exemption for the YYY site, correct? "Yes, I agree if you give me the money I will rubber stamp the YYY site tomorrow." No one says, "I hereby announce I am bribing you.....I hereby accept a bribe."

Get use to Mayor for Life Ed Pawlowski.

                                   

The above brief is from the molovinsky on allentown legal staff. I have heard back channel about some of the emails pertinent to this case.  Although, I do not believe that they rise to the criminal threshold as described above, there is a twist to the Allentown case.  Supposedly, Pawlowski/Fleck reached out in soliciting contributions.  Rumor has it that here will be at least one other indictment before Pawlowski.

ADDENDUM: Bernie O'Hare also chose to address the Pawlowski topic today.  He contends that there will be an upcoming RICO prosecution,  making the McDonnell decision less relevant in Pawlowski's case.  

Sep 20, 2016

The Valley of Lying Sacks


According to the new Morning Call/ Muhlenberg College poll,  Donald Trump is 9 points behind Ms. Clinton.  Over the years,  I have developed no faith in Muhlenberg's polls.  In Allentown's 2005 mayoral election they were 20 points off.  Once, they and the paper collaborated on measuring how the debates were effecting undecided voters.  By chance,  I knew most of the supposed undecided independents,  and they were anything but that.  At best, I can conclude that their polls are useless;  At worst,  I can suspect that they are actually trying to influence voters.

Am I cynical,  or do we live in the Valley of Lying Sacks?  Over the years I have seen Allentown City Council approve numerous mistruths.  I have seen the County Commissioners ignore history and fund political correctness.  Whose going to farm all those preserved acres?  Never mind, it will yield Jaindl cheap farmland to rent, and grow feed corn.  Even the South Whitehall Commissioners have joined the disingenuous, by greatly inflating the cost to maintain Wehr's Dam, and justify a referendum.

I'm not sure who will win Pennsylvania,  but it will not be a 9 point spread.  It will be very close.  Perhaps our local college professors should attend Molovinsky University.

Sep 19, 2016

Whose Afraid of Booze and Drugs


Regular readers of this blog know that I'm lite on the personal stuff. For today, I make an exception.  When I ran an as independent for mayor in 2005, somebody commented that I didn't even graduate from William Allen.  They had searched the yearbooks for several years,  and couldn't find my name or picture.  Truth be known,  William Allen and I separated several times.  This weekend I attended the 70th Birthday Party for what I consider my "class", or the fellow delinquents that I spend the most years with.   It is 52 years since graduation, and most of us turned 70 in 2016.

Graduated or not, I started College in NYC after high school.  This weekend we learn that Edward Albee passed away.  It is known that he fashioned Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf after the relationship between underground film makers Marie Menken and Willard Maas.  I'm afraid that my discipline hadn't improved much by college, because I recall a crazed evening in their Brooklyn penthouse.

I suppose that if there is a moral to this post it is to keep your babies away from booze and drugs, or risk them reduced to writing a non-monetized blog in their sunset.

Sep 16, 2016

X-Raying Trump and Clinton

Nothing exemplifies the difference in media treatment more than the controversy about the candidates's health.  While Clinton literally collapses,  the liberal media is concentrating on the disclosure that Trump doesn't exercise.  To me, it doesn't appear that Hillary works out too much either.  Putting aside political bias,  it takes no doctor to see that Trump is in better shape.  Although that certainly doesn't qualify him as a better candidate,  it does disqualify any media pretense for objectivity.  Both of the candidates are pushing 70.  Many of us that age don't have the energy to attend a rally, much less give one every night.

As someone who is basically non-partisan, it has become more difficult to discern attempted truth in the news.  Truth seekers must mix numerous sources,  then go through an elaborate filtration process to distill small drops of it.  We have come to rely on those sources which lie the least.

illustration credit: Ben Garrison@grrrgraphics

Sep 15, 2016

The Dimness of Allentown's Future


This blog concerns itself with the intersection between local politics and history. By those parameters, the future of Allentown does indeed looks bleak. There is nobody on the political horizon who appears pragmatic enough for the current reality. We are aptly described as a small town with big town problems. The potential crop of candidates even believe that positive thought in itself is a strategy. Now, positive thought certainly has its place, I enjoy sermons by Joel Osteen; However, it's not enough of a plan with which to manage a city. They have confused J.B. Reilly's real estate portfolio with revitalization. The candidates on the horizon, at best, suffer from political correctness, at worst, to outright acceptance of the status quo.

I believe that it is possible that Ed Pawlowski will not be prosecuted, or will be exonerated if indicted. More on that in a future post. I personally think that a fourth Pawlowski term would be better than some of the alternative candidates.

As for history, and the importance of its gift for future generations, there is nobody serving on any level of local government who has a clue.

Sep 14, 2016

The Lehigh Valley's Lost Morality




One of the headlines in today's paper is that the Allentown Planning Board approved J.B. Reilly's new apartments on the former parking lot next to Symphony Hall. Never mind that Symphony Hall expressed its displeasure at losing the convenience of an adjoining surface lot.  The Parking Authority, serving what is masquerading as progress in Allentown, cooperated with the sale.  Never mind that the Community Music School, primary tenant of Symphony Hall, said that it would relocate without that lot.  Allentown's commissions and authorities are mere bobbleheads.

Not only has the Parking Authority played ball with private developers using progress as an excuse, the Park Department compromised itself to cover Pawlowski's purchase of unnecessary land, at a greatly inflated price.  Isn't it wonderful to add a park or two when the department cannot afford to maintain what they already have.  While the collapsed portion of the wall was repaired so that Lehigh Parkway could reopen,  the rest of the wall was never repointed,  and the double stairwell is falling apart.

It's not just Allentown officials compromising themselves, it has become standard procedure in the valley.  The South Whitehall Commissioners inflated the price to repair Wehr's Dam by 1000%, to justify a referendum to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy.   Call these things progress,  but it's really just excuses for corrupt agendas.

Sep 13, 2016

Pawlowski and The Little People

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

ADDENDUM: The above is a reprinted post from September 7, 2015. Ed has continued courting the little people. Before the scandal, aka FBI investigation, he certainly keep company with more uptown constituents. However, in all fairness to him, he has always been inclusive with city residents. There is now, however, a noticeable difference in photo ops. Previously, they were Morning Call moments, often appearing on the weekend society page; Now, they are cell phone selfies. If Ed is still available to run for a 4th term,  it is the little people who will elect him.  They are less sensitive to the scandal,  and more flattered by his attention.  I believe that there has been too much damage done to the city's self esteem for the more established Democrats to again support him.

Sep 12, 2016

The Spandex Yuppie Dilemma


The spandex yuppies, who have been championing for decades for Rails to Trails, have created a dilemma for themselves. This is the same constituency who would like to see rail service reestablished between Lehigh Valley and NYC. Norfolk Southern, the current rail freight operator, has informed those yuppies that there is essentially only one track left, and that they need it exclusively for the freight service.

molovinsky on allentown is a teacher and student of our past rail history. I have documented all the major rail and spur routes that intersected Allentown. Recently, I protested against the riverfront NIZ removing the last remnant of the Lehigh Valley Rail Road Old Main Line from along the Lehigh River.

$Millions have been wasted on both removing tracks for the spandex crowd, and planning to restore rail service on tracks that no longer exist.   Even as I write this, the Allentown Economic Development Corporation has a plan to restore a freight track back to its building on S. 10th Street, although a tenant who could possibly utilize such service hasn't existed for 50 years.  Spare us the expense of bureaucrats who want to fund solutions to problems that they helped create.

Shown above, a Lehigh Valley RailRoad freight train heads north on it's Old Main Track.  That track has recently been removed to make more Rail to Trail.

Sep 9, 2016

Mapping Allentown's Past


The map, partially shown above, was produced by the Nathan Nirenstein Company of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1929. His firm specialized in engineering maps of various center cities on the eastern seacoast. The map is 22X30, and expands out from 7th and Hamilton for 2 1/2 blocks east and west,  2 blocks north and south. The map includes names of both the owner of the building, and the merchant/tenant occupying the space, if different.

While numerous small banks are shown on both Hamilton and the side streets, the coming Depression surely culled that herd. Allentown City Hall and police station are still on Linden Street, while the post office is at 6th and Turner. Two large hardware stores, Young and Hersh, are on Hamilton Street.

The buildings are owned by hundreds of different people.  What will future generations think when they see a 2016 map, and all the buildings are owned by just a few people?

Sep 8, 2016

Allentown's History A Thing Of The Past


As I've been studying up on Allentown's former merchants, I keep thinking of the radial population shift experienced by this city in one generation. While most the merchants of 1930 were at least 3th generation Allentonians, the new residents, mostly Hispanic, are almost all recent arrivals. Interest in local history is so small that even the local historic society concentrates on topics of national interest, such as Abraham Lincoln.

Talking of Lincoln, this population shift has had political consequences.  Pawlowski, who hails from Chicago,  was not unlike the carpetbaggers who went south after the civil war.  I believe that we are in a historic void, between the old Pa. Dutch culture, and the new Hispanic population, which has not yet risen politically.  And, like the south after the Civil War,  the opportunists are making hay.

postcard above,  Hamilton Street 1930

Sep 7, 2016

Hamilton Street's Golden Era


Wetherhold & Metzger was one of the giants of Hamilton Street. The extended family operated two stores on Hamilton Street. When exactly was the height of the golden era I suppose is a frame of reference. I can tell you that as a early baby boomer, Hamilton Street was booming in the 1950's. With three large department stores, three large 5&10's, half a dozen shoe stores, half a dozen jewelers, women and men's stores, there was something for everybody. In addition to Hamilton, stores were also located on the number streets.

MOLOVINSKY UNIVERSITY
At 2:00pm this afternoon, I will present a 1930 map showing the business district of downtown Allentown. We will be meeting at The Coffee House Without Limits. The shop is located on 4th, just north of Tilghman Street, in the Alternative Gallery. You are cordially invited to join us.

Sep 6, 2016

A Reflection on Allentown


After the lily ponds were rebuilt about five years ago, there was little attempt to restore the water lilies. The park department now calls them reflective ponds; Actually, they are a reflection on how much Allentown has changed for the worse. There is now one(1) lily growing in one(1) of the ponds.

The parks were a great source of pride to Allentown. Shown above, the linen postcard probably dates back to the mid 1940's. None of the houses on either Parkway Blvd or Ott Street have yet to be built.


MOLOVINSKY UNIVERSITY
A presentation, summary and discussion of a circa 1930 map of Allentown's business district, showing the leading merchants of that era.

The session will be held at the Coffee Shop Without Limits, located at the Alternative Gallery, on 4th Street, just north of Tilghman.

The short session will begin at 2:00 pm  tomorrow,  Wednesday, September 7th.

Sep 5, 2016

The Great Allentown Fair


The Morning Call website is hosting an archive of Fair Pictures from over the years. Being a fan both of fair pictures and black and white photography, looking at the 111 photos presented was a treat.

The photo shown above, which I will get back to, reminded me of one of my unique fair experiences. In previous posts, I have discussed that both my father and myself had stands at the fair. While my father learned that you couldn't sell hotdogs near Yocco's, I learned that drunks leaving the beer garden loved to buy printed T-shirts.

But today's post has to with George Kistler, long time City Clerk during the 1950's and 60's. George loved the fair, and loved sharing his fascination with a large group of people. I was fortunate enough to be invited several times. The routine was always the same; Dinner at a local stand on the eastern side of the fairgrounds, followed by the wrestling show. I remember photographing Andre The Giant.

The Morning Call fair picture above is none other than Jim "Super Fly" Snuka, who was recently back in Allentown, for a most regrettable reason.


MOLOVINSKY UNIVERSITY
A presentation, summary and discussion of a circa 1930 map of Allentown's business district, showing the leading merchants of that era.

The session will be held at the Coffee Shop Without Limits, located at the Alternative Gallery, on 4th Street, just north of Tilghman.

The short session will begin at 2:00 pm this coming Wednesday, September 7th.

Sep 2, 2016

Fly Me To The Moon From The Lehigh Valley Airport


Believe it or not,  I'm trying to become less acidic in my criticism of public officials, both elected and appointed.  While the elected ones have been submitted to some public scrutiny,  the appointed ones are usually the wrong people in the right place.  Among the most useless of the boards may be the Airport Authority.  While just bailing themselves out from a two decade mistake,  they embark on another unjustified expansion.

If the local airport has any advantage, it is that it is easy.  While it's essentially expensive flights to nowhere,  at least it's easy.  When you enter the arriving baggage area, the car rental desks are right there.  If you want a cab,  merely go through the doors and look left.  I suppose all that was too convenient, because the LVIA will now build a separate Transportation Hub.

If this seems like just another unnecessary fix to something that isn't broken, it gets worse.  Several months ago,  I questioned one of the most informed authority members about this proposal,  and he knew nothing about it.

Sep 1, 2016

Molovinsky University


I own several historical maps of Allentown. In the first session of Molovinsky University, we discussed a map of the former railroad spur routes throughout Allentown. The second session will analyze a map of center city merchants. Although the map is undated, I estimate it harks back to the very late 1920's, or very early 1930's. City Hall and the police are still located on Linden Street, and the art deco Post Office has yet to be built. The number streets, as is Linden Street, is packed with merchants of all types. Dating this map will be exercise for all Allentown history buffs. This upcoming session, as was the first, will be held at the coffee shop off 4th and Tilghman, again at an inconvenient time to limit participation. I like history, people, not so much...

Place: The Coffee House Without  Limits, Located at the Alternative Gallery, Northeast corner of 4th and Tilghman Streets.

Date & Time:  Wednesday September 7th,  at 2:00 pm

Bonus Friday;  A second post, on the Lehigh Valley Airport, will appear at 11:30 AM today.

Taxing Allentown's Arena


A headline in Monday's Morning Call lamented that taxpayers spent $84K challenging the Arena Authority for more school taxes.  Sy Traub, the Authority chairman, commented,  They wasted our money and theirs. Very frustrating.  Personally, I was frustrated that the school district decided against appealing the decision. I was further frustrated that the arena legislation was amended to codify the arena's position.

The legislation was not written on a mountain, and chiseled into a stone tablet to guide mankind forever more. It is imperative that such laws be tested, and submitted to reasonable scrutiny.

Aug 31, 2016

The Mighty Atom


Years ago, at the Allentown Fair, as one would push through a sea of carney delusion, tucked back by the 4H animals, was an island of reality. There, in an old battered truck, an ancient Jewish strongman performed incredible feats of strength, to sell only homemade kosher soap. Standing on a platform on the rear of his truck, flanked by photographs from his performing youth, he would bent horse shoes and bite through nails. Many years earlier, my mother as a little girl in Bethlehem, saw him pull a truck uphill with his hair. Even as an old man, like a reincarnation of Samson, his grey hair was still long.
In the summers of 1964 and 1965, myself and a friend,(Fred Schoenk, retired Allentown art teacher) made and sold printed tee-shirts at the fair. We had the honor to know Joseph Greenstein(The Mighty Atom) and his wife. For those interested, there are various articles on the Mighty Atom and even at least one book. Enjoy the fair!

reprinted every year since 2007

Aug 30, 2016

A Crime Against Allentown's Treasure


Readers of this blog know that I was very offended that the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the small dam by the bridge at Robin Hood, in Lehigh Parkway.  To add insult to injury, they piled the smashed dam ruble around the stone piers of the bridge.  While previously the stone piers rose majestically of the water, they were now surrounded by ruble.  That ruble has now accumulated silt, and tall weeds and brush now grow around the piers.  Furthermore, this accumulation has now completely blocked off the flow of water from under one side the bridge.

I call upon the Allentown Park Director to insist that the Wildlands  remove this ruble at their expense.    They were, unfortunately, given permission to remove the dam, but they were never authorized to depreciate the bridge or stream in such a way.

The banks of the stream are so overgrown by the bridge, that the creek can no longer be seen.  The WPA water fountain that sits on the edge of the weed barrier is a reminder of how beautiful the park used to be.  Robin Hood is really a disgusting mess now,  and this blog will tolerate no environmental rationalizations as an excuse for the abuse of this former treasure.

When the classic postcard shown above was made,  the stream bank provided both access and view to enjoy the Little Lehigh.  

Aug 29, 2016

Charter Schools, Educators or Tenants?


I received a call from promoter and underground videographer Imantrek.  He is upset about the Morning Call's contention that they do not know who paid for the controversial mailer about drugs at Liberty High, despite that their associated Tribune Direct Mail produced the piece.  My hunch is that they're protecting that divisions privacy policy.  Although, I find that internal Morning Call situation mildly interesting, another aspect of this story interests me more.

As this controversy surrounding the Innovative Arts Academy newspaper ad and mailer developed, one common denominator with several other charter schools is the landlord,  Abe Atiyeh.  Atiyeh has not only been the landlord, but is active in getting these charter schools approved.  As taxpayers,  we would like to think that these schools are educationally innovative, and providing a unique learning opportunity, not available in the public schools,  which fund the charter schools within their district.  It is becoming more and more apparent to this blogger that the schools are designed first and foremost as tenants, or real estate business opportunities.

Charter schools have become fashionable, as public schools are perceived as dysfunctional victims of urban poverty.   School systems are now more inclined to approve charter school applications,  with Harrisburg's tendency to go over the head of local school boards anyway, and grant approval.

In reality, many parents looking for a better educational option for their children, may be sending their child to an under-equipped alternative.

Aug 26, 2016

Allentown's State Of The Arts


Today, in the Morning Call, a member of the Art Museum's Auxiliary asks the reporter to spread the word about the museum. The museum recently added an addition. Across the street, the Arts Park extends past the Baum Art School, to the rear of Symphony Hall. Then, across 6th Street, the Arts Walk has been extended through J.B. Reilly's Strata Village, to 7th Street. There is even a steel archway announcing the artiness of it all, by the former Shula's Steak House. With art this, and art that, why does the museum need a plug in the Morning Call? In Allentown, there's a large gap between the hype and the reality.

In reality, the city is allowing J.B. Reilly to smash Symphony Hall in the knees, by using its parking lot for a new apartment building. The lot is actually owned by the Allentown Parking Authority, which is supposed to act for the betterment of Allentown and its residents, not a private business interest. About 25 years ago, I went to see the late B.B. King perform at Symphony Hall. Today, with the competition from the Sands and Steel Stacks, and another half a dozen places, I doubt if Symphony Hall would attract such an act. Apparently, the power structure in Allentown also finds the old theatre expendable. There is a message in that for the Art Museum;  Business before art.

Aug 25, 2016

The Second Wave For Allentown Mayor


Last week I posted about the mayoral candidates already lining up in Allentown. Mentioned in that post were Sam Bennett, David Jones, Charlie Thiel, Daryl Hendricks and Ed Pawlowski. This post covers some additional potential candidates. Erika Bickford has been a long time fixture at city council meetings. She has already announced her candidacy to The Morning Call. Mark Smith has also been flirting with the idea of running. Smith ran unsuccessfully in the recent crowded school board election. That election was the most competitive for a seat in my long history of local election observations. Also hinting at a run for mayor is Luiz Garcia, a member of Allentown's police force since 2013. He thinks that he would bring some freshness to the political arena, if he decides to run. With the exception of Garcia, I have met or sat down with all the candidates at one time or another.

Pictured above I'm modeling one of my T-shirts from the 2005 election. These shirts are available for purchase in S, M, L, and XL at $495.00 each, which includes shipping.

Aug 24, 2016

Rite-Aid Returns, A Figment of My Imagination


Dear Mayor Pawlowski,
Forgive me for saying this, but I'm very disappointed in the changes made to my town. After my wife passed away, I moved to the senior high-rise at 8th and Union St. I can see the old Mack Transmission Plant from my window, I worked there for 40 years. I understand now it's a indoor go-cart track, I find that a bitter pill. Actually pills are why I'm writing. I used to walk to the Rite-Aid on Hamilton Street. With that closing, I don't think I can walk out 7th St. to the old Sears. Forgive me Mayor, that's before your time in Allentown. The other Rite-Aid used to be Levines Fabrics, they bought it from Sears. The Army Navy store was across the parking lot. Anyway, back to my problem. Now I can't even catch the bus on Hamilton anymore to go visit my daughter in Catty. What have you done to me? My neighbor, a nice widow, tells me you gave that Mexican Restaurant lots of our money and they don't even pay their bills? Never ate there, what were you thinking? Anyway, sorry to bother you, I know you're a busy man, but I don't know where I will get my medicine from, and I'm upset. Sorry.

Originally titled, Figment of My Imagination.

PhotoCredit: molovinsky

Reprinted from July of 2008, to commemorate the return of Rite-Aid.  Isn't it wonderful that J. B  Reilly will finally get a tenant there who will do enough business to actually pay rent. 

reprinted from this past April of 2016. Rite-Aid will open tomorrow, Thursday August 25, 2016

Aug 23, 2016

Lehigh County's History Lesson

Students of this blog know that I'm disappointed with the Lehigh County Commissioners, for their refusal to save Wehr's Dam from the  disingenuousness of the South Whitehall Commissioners. One of the current county commissioners is a former township commissioner, and you know that there is protocol. I was frustrated by the county's recent decision to spend $millions more on farmland preservation, while ignoring the historic dam. Now, the county commissioners are doubling down on history, and legally defending the county seal, in a lawsuit from a religious freedom group. At the end of the court cases, the defense will cost much more than it would have to save the dam. Countless thousands of people have visited the dam over the decades. How many people have come to visit and enjoy the county seal?

Aug 22, 2016

Allentown, Signs of Our Time

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Some of you may have noticed that all the parks are getting new matching signs. The wood carved and other classic signs of the former classic parks, are being replaced by unimaginative, painted signs, which promise to have a short life span. However, beside the separate park name, they are all the same,  a rather ugly green design. It's called branding, and I suppose the new park director must have seen the uninspired idea in some national park magazine. It should be no surprise that Cedar Beach Pool has been out of commission now for two years. Most of the time no one is working on the project, while occasionally, two men can be seen there. Amazing what a mayor from out of town, with a series of park directors from out of town, and a sleeping Trexler Trust, can undo. With the stock ideas from the National Park Magazine, who needs those classic parks from Allentown's past? Put up a new sign, schedule as many events as possible, show a movie, go to a national convention, and that's how you build your resumé.


ADDENDUM: Pawlowski has now hired a company to brand the city. They will conduct a study for public input, and other dog and pony nonsense. Allentown, a city which truly never stops wasting your tax dollars.

Aug 19, 2016

As Allentown Turns


In 2014, I did a series of posts on what I called Life After Pawlowski.  I interviewed and featured both Sam Bennett and Charlie Thiel, who were both interested in the top office of city hall.  An article in today's Morning Call also examines the contenders emerging since the Pawlowski scandal.  I have decided to label the Pawlowski situation a scandal,  because he has yet to be indicted, despite being incriminated. Two more likely candidates have joined the field:  County Commissioner David Jones announced for the office, and City Councilman Daryl Hendricks issues no disclaimer on his ambition.  The main theme of the paper's article is that Pawlowski himself may well run again,  assuming he's still on this side of the iron bars.

The Morning Call has their regulars that they go to for what they consider expertise.  For local political analysis, they call on a Muhlenberg professor.  The professor thinks that Pawlowski could possibly be re-elected, despite the scandal.

today's post was delayed by a slowdown by the blog's production department,  negotiations are on-going. 

photo courtesy of The Morning Call

Aug 18, 2016

Start A Blog

I was recently asked how to start a blog, it's very easy. In the upper right hand corner of this page, click on Create Blog. Blogspot will take you through the process, step by step. When it comes to comments, it's important to allow anonymous comments, because people love to give their opinion, without revealing their identity. In addition to Blogspot, there are other blogging platforms available. You can even make money by allowing advertisements, or solicit your own sponsors. However, don't expect to make more than $100,000 the first year. It's important to be diplomatic, and not insult any elected or appointed officials. Cultivate a good rapport with the local media. Never insult your readers.

Now, although the above advise is top notch, I'm too stubborn and mean to follow it; that's why I am left with readers the likes of you.

As for Allentown, it's in suspended animation, awaiting for the culmination of the Pawlowski investigation.   So, while in this municipal trance,  you're reduced to the likes of me.

my new portrait, taken by Hub Wilson, for my upcoming second attempt at Mayor of Allentown 

Aug 17, 2016

A Joke in Allentown


According to news reports, J. B. Reilly got permission from the Allentown Zoning Board to demolish several buildings for his new Tower of (his) Opportunity at 6th and Hamilton.  What suspense, who knew what would happen?  Some of the comments reported at the hearing were precious.  The Preservation People, not to be confused with the Village People, complained that the buildings to be demolished were historical. They wanted to know if Reilly could possibly incorporate the old brick facades into his modern glass and steel tower?  Oh well puppies, you tried, have a doggy treat before your nap.  The zoners were also adorable. One spoke about the economic gain for Allentown,  I never knew that was a zoning consideration.  Another suggested that the Preservation Puppies give tours of some other old buildings, and sensitize Allentown to the issue.  Reilly's manager talked about the property taxes that will coming Allentown's way.  Funny, but he never mentioned Reilly's appeal of the assessments on previous buildings,  which were approved and constructed.

Aug 16, 2016

Molovinsky's First Post


After viewing the local media, if one would venture downtown, one encounters a rude awaking. Yes, the new buildings are there, but the essential vibe has not changed, the streets are still strewn with litter, and dominated by those that do the littering. Millions of our taxpayer dollars have been spent on a delusion; so lock your car doors and let me take you around, from behind the safety of your computer screen. michael molovinsky

Printed above is my first post on this blog, titled Time For A Reality Check. printed on May 26, 2007.  Now, over nine years later, the only difference is that we have spend a $Billion dollars more, of taxpayer money, for somebody else's private real estate portfolio. Does the sameness mean that I'm prophetic, or as citizens, we are pathetic?

ADDENDUM: According to news sources,  announcing mayoral candidate David Jones thinks that many of Allentown residents are not shareholders in the Arena and Reillyville.  His campaign may well try and harness the disenfranchised.  If he would succeed,  Allentown will become officially politically urban.  Pawlowski tried to dismiss him, with a comparison to Donald Trump.  I suppose that's the ultimate insult by a Democrat.

Aug 15, 2016

Best Of The Week's Blogs


The Morning Call has a feature each Sunday entitled, Best Of The Week's Blogs.  A clerk at a supermarket I frequent asked me why my blog is never included.  I explained that the paper only includes their own bloggers,  which are also their own reporters. All this brings me to their Sunday  feature blog post, Bill White ready to hang up his fork?  In the post, White wonders if after twenty years of eating his way through Musikfest, if it's taking too heavy a toll on his body?  No Bill, but it is taking a heavy toll on your readers.  So are all your other serial themes, like the Christmas Lights,  Hall of Shame, Fair Cake Taster, Grammer,  etc, etc, etc.  His themes have gotten to the point that when White occasionally writes something else, something relevant,  he has it put on the front page.

ADDENDUM: This isn't the first time I beat up Bill White, and he's actually a nice guy.  Worse yet of me, his columns are popular with the public. Furthermore, I suppose some of my nastiness comes from other issues with the Morning Call.  What's the big deal if Pawlowski doesn't get parking tickets, when the Parking Authority gives away the surface lots needed by Symphony Hall?  What do they mean that J.B. Reilly's project got critical approval? Has he ever been denied?  Who is there to deny him?

Aug 12, 2016

The Fiefdom of South Whitehall


Users of South Whitehall's water got a surprise in their recent billing.  Although, previously charged for metered usage, the township started charging an additional base rate of $25 per quarter.  While, not so noticeable for larger users,  the add on stands out on the bills of small users.  Usually those users,  such as the elderly, are the ones least able to afford such an increase.  For many of the elderly, this change amounts to over a 50% increase in their bill.  The justification used by the township was a 4% increase in wholesale cost from the LCA, which only provides a portion of the township's water.  Understand, that this change increases the township's revenue by almost $1 million dollars, with no public input, what so ever.

Understand, that virtually no one attends the commissioner meetings,  where the local elected aristocrats enact  such changes under no scrutiny.  This specific increase was by the township's Board of Authority,  which is appointed by the commissioners.  South Whitehall has changed from an affordable, community based government to a aristocracy,  becoming more and more expensive for the same level of service. Uncontested elections do have consequences.

Aug 11, 2016

Macungie Madness


Both Lower and Upper Macungie have been experiencing enormous growth.  The number of people residing in the townships has increased about 60% in the last  decade,  and together are the fastest growing regions in Pennsylvania.  Between them, there are now over 50,000 thousand people residing in the two townships.  Recently, I posted about the commercialization of the Rt. 222 bypass in Lower Macungie.

Upper Macungie, bi-sected by both Rt. 222 and Rt. 78, has seen the most growth in warehouse construction. That township will now begin developing a new comprehensive zoning plan, hopefully giving the residents  the sense that there is some restraint on development.

One of the more transparent elected officials in the Lehigh Valley, Ron Beitler, serves as a commissioner in Lower Macungie.  Beitler produces an informative blog on the issues affecting his township.

Aug 10, 2016

Shove Your Movies In The Park


The Lehigh Valley park systems, now essentially controlled by the Wildland Conservancy, currently feature Movies and Lies In The Park, instead of parks in the park.

While Allentown recently gave an excuse of delays in rebuilding Cedar Beach Pool, they never revealed that only about two men have been working on it all summer. While they show movies in the parks,  the weed barriers along the creeks are exposing children and pets to ticks all summer.

While South Whitehall will host events in Covered Bridge Park,  they have conspired with a referendum, to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy and demolish Wehr's Dam.

Meanwhile, the Trexler Trust forsakes the General's accomplishments by funding the Wildlands Conservancy. Although, every park in Allentown got a new sign this summer, the park department forgets that the parks were designed to be enjoyed by people, not to provide space for the Wildlands' agenda.  Try leaving your yard grow that way, you'll get a fine.

Aug 9, 2016

The Boat Landing

Getting to the Boat Landing, for six year old boys who lived above the park in 1953, was quite an adventure. There were three other wonderful WPA structures to navigate on the journey. Unfortunately,  poor foresight by a previous park director has erased some of the WPA's monuments in Lehigh Parkway. As the postcard from the mid-50's above shows, the Boat Landing (my name for the structure) was a source of pride for the city and park system. It is located at the end of the park,  near Regency Apartments. I use the present tense because remnants of this edifice still exist,  buried under dirt and debris. Other attractions lost in that section of the park include the Spring Pond near the Robin Hood parking lot, and the bridge to the "Island", plus the mosaic inlaid benches which were on the island. ( Island halfway between parking lot and boat landing). Neither the Mayor or the Park Director knows that these centerpieces ever existed. These are irreplaceable architectural treasures well worth restoring.

UPDATE: The above post was written in May of 2009. Later that year I organized a small group of volunteers, and we unearthed a portion of the boat landing. The next year I prevailed on the Allentown Water Shed Foreman, Michael Gilbert, to expose the remaining stones around the Spring Pond and remove the growth hiding the Miniature Bridge.

Trexler Smiles, Landing Revealed
I believe that today, for the first time in decades, General Trexler had something to smile about. Most people never understood why three steps were near the lower entrance of Lehigh Parkway; they seemed to lead nowhere. This morning eight people joined a grass root effort to unveil, for the first time in decades, the structure I called the Boat Landing.
Buried under the dirt and grass were several more steps leading to a landing. Chris Casey was the first to arrive and cleared these steps and the first landing himself. A second set of steps led from the landing to the main landing on the creek. These second steps had a foot or so of ground and plants.
The quality and condition of the stonework is excellent, as was all our WPA icons. I will be polite and say only that it was a crime to have let this neglect occur. On the main landing the accumulated earth was two and half feet thick. The crew dug out the curving retaining wall several yards in each direction, and cleared off the top of the wall.
Eight people working four hours managed to reveal about one third of the landing at the bottom of the steps. It was a thrill to realize we were standing at creek's edge as the WPA architects had envisioned. I stood there often as a boy. There still remains a large portion of dirt to remove at the steps base, but you can now experience the Boat Landing.
The retaining wall and the landing continue for fifty feet or so in both directions. Unfortunately a huge tree has grown on the landing to the right, but the left appears reclaimable.
We who worked there today, hope to return and clear off the remainder of the dirt at the bottom of the steps.

Perhaps others will be motivated to clear off the remaining portion of the landing to the left. Now that might even be an idea for the City; imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue. I'm most grateful to all those who helped today, and will reveal their names with their permission.

ADDENDUM:Michael –

I just wanted to thank you for organizing today’s cleanup at the “Boat Landing” in the Lehigh Parkway. It’s not often that one gets to help unearth a treasure while barely leaving home, but that’s exactly what happened today.

It was truly impressive what big difference a small group of people can make. I can’t even estimate the amount of dirt that was moved with nothing more than a few shovels and a lot of hard work.
We can only hope that the City and the Trexler Trust will become aware of this location and start giving all the great structures in the Parkway the care they deserve.
However, the best part of the story for me came after we all left. I got home and my daughter Lucy (age 7) wanted to know how things went. We hopped in the car and soon we were walking up to the stairs leading to the landing. The sun was shining, and the sunlight trickled through the trees and onto the freshly-exposed stairway.
Lucy asked if she could go down to the landing by the water and next thing I knew we were both there at the waters edge, standing on what had been buried only a few hours earlier and marveling at the beauty of the location.
We spent a few moments there - a father and daughter both enjoying something completely “new” to us (even though the landing is over 70 years old). We talked briefly about what was – and more importantly what could be again.

Thank you for making that moment possible, and I hope many others take the opportunity to visit the landing in the near future.

Mike Schware
P.S. – After visiting the landing, Lucy and I walked further upstream and saw the remnants of the bridge to the island (near the water fountain). The remaining supports of the bridge confirmed what you had told me earlier about the island being much smaller years ago.

I organized the excavation shown above in 2009. We did return and remove the remaining dirt at the bottom of the steps.
reprinted from two separate posts combined

Aug 8, 2016

A Petition Against Park System Policy

The weed barriers need to be removed from the Allentown Park System. The zones are unsightly, breed plants that are on Pennsylvania’s invasive plant species list, harbor vermin, and present a public health danger to the citizens who use the park. Pennsylvania remains the state with the highest rate of Lyme disease. The CDC and all other groups that report about Lyme Disease cite one major but simple preventative measure: removal of weeds and high grasses. Lyme disease is difficult to diagnose and not always easily cured. Complications include joint inflammation, neurological problems; cognitive defects, and heart rhythm irregularities; left untreated, the disease can be fatal to humans and pets. Ticks also spread other diseases such as Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. Urban parks in the United States were created to provide city dwellers a chance not only to recreate but to do so in a healthy environment. The decision to allow these weed barriers in our parks was instituted without a referendum of the citizens of the city and without discussion with the Allentown Board of Health. The public servants of Allentown need to reconsider their decision and insure that our parks are a safe and healthy environment for the people that visit the parks. We believe the best way to do this is by weed removal along the waterways and throughout the parks.

 The above petition was started by a concerned Allentown resident.  Although, I wasn't involved in this petition initiative, it has my full support.  Those interested in signing can click here.

Aug 5, 2016

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

Aug 4, 2016

The Partisan Dilemma

The Republican partisans are having quite a dilemma  about Donald Trump.  When Charlie Dent announced yesterday that he could not vote for Trump,  local party advocate Scott Armstrong derided Dent as a Rino,  who he could no longer support.  Now, it will become more complicated if Pat Toomey continues to withhold support for Trump, because Toomey hardly fits the Rino description.
I invited Scott to express his opinion for this post;
Mike, speaking as a committee person and someone who has been part of the local committee leadership for years, I find Charlie's announcement troubling and yes,hypocritical. We have for year been told, and I myself have stressed the message that our responsibility is to defeat the Democrats. Many of us have supported Charlie even though over the years, his positions and rhetoric have been counter to basic Republican tenets.  Now Charlie finds Trump's comments as something he cannot support. Fine! So the old adage of what's good for the goose is good for the gander comes to mind.  Finally, with this development, how can I or any other Republican leader ask our fellow activists to do for Charlie what he won't do for Donald.  I  know I won't.  Will this prevent a Dent victory this fall, doubt it. But like Charlie,  I will stand by my own principles and not vote for Dent or his opponent. I will vote to defeat Hillary. Scott Armstrong

For the last decade,  except for briefly exploring the possibility of running as an outsider Republican for state representative this past winter,  I have described myself as an independent.  I ran for office twice as an independent.  I believe that  the straight party lever, which is now a button, should not exist.  In my mind there is nothing at all wrong with a Republican not supporting Trump, or a Democrat not supporting Clinton.  I understand that it is an unusual position for an elected official to take, who for the most part owe their success to party politics. So, for me there are no rino's,  only independently thinking Republicans.

Aug 3, 2016

Irony Of The Rt.222 Bypass


In 2005, when the westward side of the Rt. 222 bypass opened, it was a long planned expensive state project, to eliminate congestion on a busy road.. By 2007, when the eastward side was completed, the commercial potential of the Krocks Road interesection was already being planned.  The 63 acre shopping center now straddles both sides of Krocks Road, on the south side of the bypass.  Target and some other stores have already open.  Because the Hamilton Crossing developers also  have the option on the north side of the bypass,  the bypass promises to create more congestion than existed before the new road was built.

Besides the Jaindl family owning so much land in the county,  this portion of the bypass is designated the Fred Jaindl Memorial Highway.

ADDENDUM:  When I opened the Morning Call this morning,  they coincidentally had an article on the expanding commerce of the bypass.  Although, I sometimes do write in response to an article in the paper, such was not the case today.  When I do write in response, I link to the source article.

Aug 2, 2016

Lehigh Valley Railroad Piers


In this era of class warfare, while we worry that the rich are only paying 35% income tax, instead of 39%, let us be grateful that once upon a time we had the Robber Barons. In this era when we have to give a grant for some woman to open a small cookie shop on Hamilton Street, let us be grateful that men built railroads with private money. Let us be grateful that incredible feats of private enterprise built piers, bridges and trestles. Trains allowed us to move vast amounts of raw and finished materials across America. This network allowed us to protect ourselves during two World Wars, and provided the prosperity upon which we now rest.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks extended from their piers in New Jersey to the shores of Lake Erie. The Mile Long Pier in Jersey City was the scene of German sabotage in 1916. A train full of munitions, awaiting shipment to Europe, was blown up on July 30th of that year. In 1914, the railroad built the longest ore pier in the world, in Bayonne. The ore would come from Chile, through the new Panama Canal, for shipment to Bethlehem.

reprinted from September 2013

Aug 1, 2016

The Hubris of Allentown's Attorneys

Credit Emily Opilo of the Morning Call for a great exposé on the lawyers and firms that have benefitted for the last decade from the Pawlowski reign.   Prominent among them is Oldrich Foucek the Third.  Foucek is also chairman of the Allentown Planning Commission, and a member of the NIZ Board.  His firm was paid over $615,000 for chasing the riff raff away,  when the city demolished 37 properties to build its Great White Elephant.   All together, this firm received  $1.73 million in work, and contributed $32 thousand dollars  to Pawlowski.   He told Opilo that the work they have done for the city is very complex and extremely complicated. 

Now, I can believe that Oldrich's brain is big enough, but I don't believe that anybody should serve in multiple positions of influence in any town.  This isn't a new tradition in Allentown, but Pawlowski's appointments have been particularly strategic.

Jul 29, 2016

The Audacity of Hope

Posting on national news is an address this blog seldom visits.  As regular readers know, I keep baker hours.  So, in the early morning I watch  YouTubes of the previous evening's convention speeches.  Obama maintained his status as great speech giver Wednesday, while Bill Clinton has lost some his oratory prowess earlier in the week.  I enjoyed the audience shots during Obama's speech, talk about preaching to the choir.

The only thing wrong with the Audacity of Hope is that it has no substance as a national policy.  Now, while it's positive as a personal philosophy of life in dealing with our daily personal challenges, it provides no strategy for our country's economy or defense.  While Obama  claimed that we are experiencing higher employment and other upward statistics,  I don't think that it translates to many lives.  He even said that people are coming to American to open factories.  We are hard pressed to keep our remaining factories open.  People are working longer for less.  He can certainly lead the choir in singing Kumbaya,  but will the country again rally around hope and promise?

ADDENDUM: HILLARY AND THE GLASS CEILING

 Hillary delivered the best speech of her life, but no less would have sufficed.  She is caught in the contradiction of praising the recovery under Obama, but simultaneously addressing the underemployment reality of America.  In talking about her plans for the first 100 days, she promised to put a chicken in every pot.

While accusing Trump of dividing us, she would pay for those chickens by squeezing Wall Street and the rich.  The fact that she felt it necessary to mention Trump so many times, indicates how close she believes this election will be.

She was most successful when addressing the subject of weapons.  She built a  case that she might have a better demeanor to be Commander In Chief than Trump.  Her approach to gun control was pragmatic; Honor the second amendment,  but refine the background checks.

Both she and Trump are actually running on the same issues,  national security and jobs.