Feb 12, 2016

Nestlé and The Wildlands Conservancy

In the Nestlé corporate office they must snicker about the Lehigh Valley. While communities across America fight to defend their water, Don Cunningham actually wooed them when he was County Executive. If that wasn't enough, the Wildlands Conservancy legitimizes them with contrived Nestlé children's days and other acts of prostitution. Nestlé returns the favor with substantial contributions to that corrupted organization.

Elsewhere, from Monroe County in the Poconos, to Casade Lords in Oregon, communities are fighting back against Nestlé, the biggest producer of bottled water in the world. Understand that the water they extract is free, and they sell it for over a buck a bottle. Their business is worth hundreds of millions in Pennsylvania alone, billions across the country. With the corrupt Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection's blessings, they are sucking Pennsylvania dry from seven different sites across the state, taking over 200,000 gallons from each location each day. They, like their local shill and student, The Wildlands Conservancy, feign concern for the environment.

Feb 11, 2016

Steering Allentown's Titanic

I was told that Pawlowski mentioned the demolition of the two Parkway Dams and the repair of the WPA wall as an accomplishment of his administration, at yesterdays meeting on sustainability. The reality of course is that he depreciated the iconic park system, along with Allentown's reputation. The administration has been compared to the Titanic recently by a number of people. But, imagine boarding the Titanic in England, with the foreknowledge that it's going to sink. That's the tough position new hires face at City Hall. There has been some speculation that Pawlowski is a powerless lame duck. Unfortunately, that's not entirely true. He still has the power to hire and fire. City Council has decided to re-evaluate the tax collection contract that it readily previously approved, along with dozens of other yes votes.

Pawlowski will be indicted by the FBI at some point in the future. They could do Allentown a large favor, and expedite the charges.

Feb 10, 2016

The Re-use of Allentown's Factories

A few years ago, Allentown changed its zoning to allow the adaptive re-use of its factories for apartments, with less variances required. One gentleman converted a number of former industrial buildings along the Jordan Creek. Of course, all these specific proposals used words like loft and upscale to help persuade city planning and zoning. For the most part, those new units are not high end, nor do they attract a different clientele than the thousands of other intercity apartments. I have mixed feelings about the conversions. One on end, I tend to be a property rights guy, who supports the owner's decision regarding best use of his property. On the other side, I realize that these units are adding to the density issues in Allentown, and problems facing the school district.

Planners are concerned about the lack of available parking for a current proposal to convert the building at 10th and Turner (shown above) into apartments. Ironically, to help facilitate the NIZ, Allentown Parking Authority was willing to sell off many its surface lots to connected developers. Nothing is applied very evenly in Allentown, if it's parking, zoning or any other right.

Feb 9, 2016

Sacred Cows

Yesterday's post(in 2008) questioning the expanded mission of a popular local charity drew only one reaction from a indignant reader, I thought there would be more. Alfonso Todd, local activist, actually complimented the concept of applying diligence to our giving. About twenty years ago I formally opposed a Habitat For Humanity Project. Their plan for three new houses would have blocked the side window in a property I managed, denying my dwelling both light and air. Habitat's plan was endorsed by the City, The Redevelopment Authority and defended by the city solicitor. After the hearing, at which I prevailed, Habitats Regional Director came up to apologize to me. Seems they went with their standard straight wall plan to save time and money, even though everyone knew blocking a neighbors window was improper. He told me they were such a sacred cow that nobody had ever opposed them before.
reprinted from May of 2008 

ADDENDUM February 2016: People and corporations love sacred cows and united funds, it makes our charity giving so much easier, and makes us feel better about ourselves. Three recipients of the United Way of Lehigh Valley are CACLV, Lehigh Council of Churches and Wildlands Conservancy. All three are well established sacred cows in their own right, and receive many direct contributions. So, if you're inclined to tear down a picturesque dam, or put a homeless person out into a snowstorm, now you know how to fund it.

Feb 8, 2016

The Lehigh Parkway Entrance Wall

When the Lehigh Parkway wall collapsed last summer, it was no surprise to me. The city already had barricades along the leaning wall for three years. During that time the city had two chief engineers and three park directors, none of whom made the wall a priority. During those years I spoke with all five of them, and got five different stories. We are now informed that the missing section will be replaced by May. The new wall section is to be poured concrete, faced in stone along the Parkway entrance. I have received several inquires as to my opinion of this plan. As the main advocate for the WPA, I have no problem with this method of replacement construction. In addition to being a barrier along the road, the wall is primarily a retaining wall, holding up the roadway. Concrete will satisfy the engineering requirements, and the visible portion will be faced in the original stone. This method was utilized at Union Terrace, when the Union Street bridge was replaced last year. So, while I approve of the planned method, some other observations and criticism are also in order.

The wall was a victim of neglect, as is most of the WPA structures throughout the park system. The wall was in dire need of mortar repointing, especially on the top. That particular entrance was built with a concrete drainage swale along the road, to keep rainwater from pushing against the wall itself. At some point the swale was paved over, extending the macadam right to the wall. I suspect that vehicle weight exerted enormous pressure through the macadam now against the wall, especially being on a curve. For a number of years now, since the closing of the park depot by the stadium, heavy trucks  have added to the exerted pressure. Last, but not least, in heavy storms, the manhole covers blow off at the top of the hill, resulting in enormous amounts of water rushing against the wall. I hope that the city addresses these issues, so that more sections of the original wall are not endangered.

In addition to replacing the missing section of the wall, they will also repoint just a small portion of the remaining wall. For a city that just spent $1.4 Million dollars to buy unneeded, distressed land from a Pawlowski campaign contributor, it is a crime to have neglected these WPA structures. 

surveying the fallen wall day of collapse

Feb 5, 2016

Before Corruption Tainted Allentown

It's becoming apparent that Chicago native Ed Pawlowski introduced a new level of corruption to Allentown. Going back to the Daddona and Heydt years there was certainly cronyism, but these native Allentonians always put the city first. Neither they or their predecessors had ambitions beyond being mayor of Allentown. Pawlowski, on the other hand, thought that he was a political sophisticate in a land of local yokels. He imported out of town subordinates, and tried to cultivate connections with outside king makers. One example of those ambitions was the ill fated Delta Thermo plant proposal. When he allowed council chambers to be overwhelmed with out of town union workers, he was showing his contempt for local opinion.

I have watched Allentown's iconic park system be abused and depreciated by outside priorities. Others have noticed mismanagement in other departments. Now is the time for those who have been silent to speak up. Now is the time for those of us who have spoken out, to do so much louder.

Feb 4, 2016

A Vacancy In Allentown's Democracy

When I ran for office in 2014, I asked Michael Donovan to serve on my vacancy committee, an obscure requirement for independents. He kindly accepted. Michael knew of such things, because he had run the year before as an independent for mayor. Michael and I became acquainted about a decade ago, both as advocates for a better city. Although Michael was a liberal democrat, and I am anything but, we found many common denominators.

While Michael became somewhat critical of the NIZ this past year, as a former city councilman he never regretted voting for it. He believed that it still has the potential for community benefit, to help Allentown's underclass. Until just a few weeks ago, we would often discuss local current events over coffee in the morning. Although he was fighting a progressively aggressive illness, this past summer he made a cross country motor trip to visit his sons.

Michael was a dedicated college professor and a proud father. His optimism and energy, even while fighting cancer, spoke volumes about his character. His passing leaves a void in Allentown's democracy.

photographed at The Epicenter

Feb 3, 2016

The Photography and Politics of Lehigh Valley

K Mary Hess is an extraordinarily gifted landscape photographer, whose soft, sensitive use of color gives her images a painterly quality. Her page on Facebook, Photos Of Lehigh Valley, receives thousands of views each week.

The criminal investigation of Allentown City Hall has now spread to both the Parking Authority and Lehigh County.  The private tax collecting agencies used are so lucrative that they pay our local government for the contract. They made their money on the fines and fees, levied on the backs of the citizen voters.  The Parking Authority charges more per hour than resort cities.

Fortunately, we have local gifted artists,  to give us some pause and respite from the corruption surrounding us.

Photography Page of K Mary Hess

Feb 2, 2016

The Art and Politics of Lehigh Valley

Usually, when you meet a good artist who is prolific, they are also so versatile it's hard to define their work.  Among many other descriptions, it can be said that Alison Bessesdotter makes tranquil paintings and watercolors that resemble fabric.  She also makes fabrics which resemble paintings. Her tools, paint, brush and sewing machine are used interchangeably, sometimes all on one piece. If that merging isn't enough, she also puts her art on wearables, such as jackets and wristbands. Bessesdotter's studio is located at the Banana Factory in South Bethlehem.

A line on her page says slow art made here.  While her high quality art is made painstakingly slow, our local politics are fast and sloppy.

Allentown City Council appointed one of their own to the controller position, Jeff Glazier.  He was originally appointed to city council, and only managed to get elected with assist from the Pawlowski PAC.  Although his latest appointment is a disappointment,  he creates an opportunity for council to finally rise above its tainted reputation.  Once again council will have to appoint another new council member,  and therein lies its chance for redemption.

editor's note: I have wanted to feature some good artists and history, however, our bad government hasn't provided an opening.  Perhaps some good images will sweeten the bad taste from our elected officials.

Artist's Website

Feb 1, 2016

Jennings Remains True To His Mission

Over the years, Alan Jennings and I have become friendly. That's pretty amazing, considering that in 2005, if I succeeded with my long shot run for mayor as an independent, I would have locked him up in the basement at city hall. During that period I started proclaiming that Allentown was becoming a poverty magnet, which was a very politically incorrect thing to say. But as a landlord, I knew how many organizations were fixing up hardcore non-workers with move-in money, and what the long term consequence to Allentown would be. Of course, I was profoundly correct, and the consequences are now very obvious.

Yesterday, Alan had an editorial in The Morning Call, which called on Allentown to increase* and improve its affordable housing. Alan stays true to his mission, and I must likewise stay true to my observations. It is self evident that there is no shortage of affordable housing in Allentown, or we simply wouldn't have such a high poverty level. Jennings suggests that people report both deficient landlords and tenants. Systems are already in place for the landlord problem, and what would you do with the problem tenants? Because I remain politically incorrect, I suggest we need only observe the endless litter in the area north of Linden Street, to appreciate our problem is much more than a few bad apples.

Allentown has become a place with the urban problems of usually much larger cities. That toothpaste is not going back into the tube. While these larger cities have spent decades and $billions looking for corrective programs, solutions remain evasive. I commend Alan for his advocacy, but don't look for a fix, much less a quick one.

*ADDENDUM: Alan Jennings has pointed out to me that no where in his editorial did he call for additional affordable housing,  only that existing substandard units be improved.

photocredit: The Morning Call

Jan 29, 2016

Pawlowski As The Messiah, Special Weekend Edition

I just watched Pawlowski's State Of The City Address, and all I can say is,  move over Jesus, Pawlowski is here.  Considering the elephant in the room, some of his statements were priceless. He praised his administration for providing predictability in government, I hope he wasn't referring to pay to play. Not only did he thank all the little people who rub elbows with the unwashed, he apparently summoned them all there for a shout out. Included in his sermon on the mound were the veterans, the homeless, the Syrian refugees and last but not least, the poor.

 Pawlowski, as I have been recently writing, is a case study in delusion. In the speech, in regard to Allentown's revitalization, he said No one bailed us out. That might be a surprise to the Pennsylvania taxpayers, who have to make up the shortfall being used for J. B. Reilly's building boom.

Mayor Ed ended his speech by saying that service should be above self. I believe a forthcoming indictment will show that he put self above service.

 although I didn't attend the speech, I watched it live courtesy of WFMZ-69.

Subpoena and Award Same Week, Only In Allentown

This week Boyle Construction, received both an award from the Chamber of Commerce, and is the subject of a subpoena to the Allentown Parking Authority.  I believe that it may actually be the second  time the company has appeared on a FBI inquiry, the first at city hall. Seems as if the Feds are interested in the new Parking Authority Deck at 6th and Walnut, and it's connection to contributions to Pawlowski's campaign fund.  Boyle beat out other Pawlowski contributors also being probed, including J.B. Reilly, Jack Rosen and Pennrose. None of the mentioned have been charged with any crime. One must wonder exactly what attribute the Chamber awarded.  I had just mentioned in a recent post that both the Parking Authority and the Park Department have been tainted by Pawlowski shenanigans.  Iannelli invited Candida Affa to a recent taping of Business Matters.  She has served faithfully as a rubber stamp on the Parking Authority,  and now has been promoted to City Council.

Although it was my hope to  end the week with a historical post,  this town provides no rest for a political blogger,  as the Morning Call called me announcing my condensed flirtation with running for the state house.

On that subject,  since I dropped out, I have discussed the election with several of the movers and shakers in the local Republican Party.  In my short candidacy, I described myself as an outsider, and that's almost too insider for me.  The values and methods of political parties don't do much for me,  I'll be re-registered as an independent before this ink dries.

My staff informs me that I haven't insulted the Morning Call or Bill White in two days.  Yesterday, Bill White reguritated the Homeless Put Out In The Snow Story.  He repeated a mistake in the paper's first story on the incident,  that the shelter is half a mile away from Zion Church.  As I mentioned before,  the distance is at least double that, and mostly uphill to boot. Hopefully,   Bill will make that walk as research for the next rendition.

Jan 28, 2016

Bob Smith Jr. Times Two

Its been a long time since anybody used a pack of matches to advertise a political campaign. Who knows, maybe with marijuana becoming fashionable, someone will again use a match pack to make a point. Most local politicos know Bob Smith, long time Allentown School Board member. Bob also had a flirtation with city council and running for mayor. He actually sat on council as a appointed member when Spinoza gave up his seat. Pictured on the matches is an earlier Bob Smith Jr., who also ran for several offices, including mayor. The first Bob also owned and operated the diner at 19th and Tilghman Streets for a number of years.

I present this short political history hopefully as a transition from politics to history.  I'm hoping the political commotion in Allentown slows down enough to allow some long overdue history posts.

Jan 27, 2016

National Public Radio Confuses Corruptions In Allentown

National Public Radio made an understandable mistake Friday evening,  when they directly combined an outrageous state incentive program, of over a $billion dollars, with Allentown municipal corruption.   Again, it is a natural misunderstanding,  considering the amount of money involved and the greed in Pennsylvania.

The NIZ, the state program designed by state senator Pat Brown, did foster a $billion dollar development at 7th and Hamilton.  That incentive program is morally wrong, untimely with Pennsylvania's financial woes, and based on cronyism,  but is legal. There has been no suggestion of criminal misconduct with any of that development,  they have a license to steal from the taxpayers.

Two blocks away at City Hall,  the mayor, who incidentally was not instrumental in passing the NIZ as reported by NPR,  couldn't stand all that money flowing, without him getting a small taste.  He and his campaign manager decided to bend the arms of normal vendors to city service, who are not directly linked to the NIZ development up the street.

So, the smell of all that money up the street corrupted the mayor, and the custom designed development scheme there should be illegal,  but they remain two separate issues.

Jan 26, 2016

Allentown's Homeless Under The Bridge

When the Pawlowski's were crowned in 2006, the homeless were living under the 8th Street Bridge and kids were swimming in Fountain Park Pool, both shown in the old postcard above. While the king set about depreciating the park system, and closing the pool by hiring people with no institutional knowledge of the park system, the queen had a special spot in her heart for the homeless. Though her compassion, her new commission had meetings, but the plight of the homeless never actually improved, being shuttled from one basement floor to another.

This year, an imperfect improvement seemed as if it might help. The changing house at the now abandoned pool was converted into an overnight warming station, complete with beds. Earlier this fall, I complained that because of its remote location,  it was actually an internment camp. Little did I know that unfortunately it was worse than that, because the homeless were forced out Saturday morning into the blizzard. In any direction, it's a very long steep walk to the next shelter from the storm. The director of the Conference of Churches, which manages the facility, explained to The Morning Call; "We did what we were supposed to do and what we are staffed to do," It's not the station's job to remain open during the day — even if there is a blizzard outside.

 In a city with a $Billion Dollars of new development, there is something very sad about this story. At the coming city council meetings,  knowledgeable people will address the council with practical suggestions, about how to address this and other problems. Those sitting up on that dais must start heeding that advise, clearly the existing systems are broken.

Jan 25, 2016

Pawlowski Even In Denial About Snowstorm

The Morning Call reports Pawlowski responded to criticism that the city never called a snow emergency prior to the storm. He said one was never called because weather reports didn't indicate heavy snow until three hours prior. Strangely enough, the rest of the United States Eastern seaboard had gotten the warning.

Jan 24, 2016

Pawlowski Scandal Rough On Bill White

Bill White, the Morning Call's long time columnist, sat in council chambers last week with a heavy heart.  He's been a staunch supporter of Mayor Pawlowski for all his three terms, and it was painful for him to see one naysayer after another criticize his man.  In White's mind, Pawlowski is the architect of the new Atlantis, aka Allentown's NIZ. He writes in his Sunday column, undeliverable because of snow, the following;
In most respects, this city is much better off than it was when Pawlowski took office. I'm not sure I'd mount his image on a horse next to Gen. Trexler, but perhaps his accomplishments ought to buy him some extra consideration.
 I have thought this over, and think I have a solution for both Ed and Bill.  Perhaps, the General's horse could be named Mayor Ed,  sorta like Roy Rogers' horse had a name.  A plaque could be added to the statue in Trexler Park.

photo attribution: Mr. Ed The Talking Horse

Jan 22, 2016

The Psychological Pathology of Pawlowski

In a stunning accusation worthy of inclusion in psychology journals, Ed Pawlowski blames the anti-corruption laws created because of him, for slowing down the workings of city hall.  After Pawlowski corrupted the city contract process, resulting in three FBI indictments so far, Pawlowski claims that the new rules are responsible for reports of inefficiency by city workers.  As someone with many sources in the city,  I can tell you that morale has been decimated since the investigation began in July, long before any new regulations were formulated.  Actually, the work atmosphere with city workers has been tense for years, even long before any of the recent accusations came to light.  Before recent charges of criminality, Pawlowski was well known for being vindictive.

Although, I believed that he wouldn't leave city hall until led out in handcuffs, it's now becoming apparent that he might have to be removed from the building in a straightjacket.

selfie of Pawlowski and United States Secretary of Housing,  taken on Thursday.

Julio Guridy's Confession

                                                                                             photo by molovinsky

Julio Guridy is the longest serving member of the current city council, on at least his fourth term. I didn't attend the council meeting Wednesday night, but according to the Morning Call, Julio's speech was the longest, and today they printed his entire text. Julio essentially said, over and over, that he worked with Pawlowski on city matters for fifteen years, and believes that they both contributed much to the city. However, his statement near the end of rambling speech is startling.
We are the stewards of the city's money. I'll give an example. Just in December, we had a big budget, $100 million budget. And I didn't think it was the right thing to pass that budget. Basically, I thought that budget needed some work. Basically, I disagreed with some of the things, and for the first time since Pawlowski has been mayor, I voted against that budget.
Herein lies the trouble with Guridy and the entire city council. It was the first time Julio voted no against something advocated by Pawlowski. Council is supposed to use their no vote as a strategic negotiating tool to help mould  better policy, not just vote, yes, yes, and yes. Guridy may be proud of his service to the city, but one must ask how he justifies only voting no once in twelve years.


Jan 21, 2016

Pawlowski's Continuing Damage

In 2006, shortly after Pawlowski started his first term, he hired Francis Dougherty to be Managing Director. In the previous two years, City Council had rejected the idea of changing from a strong mayor system to the manager system, with a ceremonial mayor. So when Pawlowski hired Dougherty, we actually ended up paying for both systems. Additionally, Pawlowski created three other positions which had never before been part of the mayor's office. In 2007, when this blog started, I often wrote about the top heavy 5th floor at City Hall. Last night, Pawlowski had a statement read into the record at Council, which ended with the following statement; I thank you for your consideration and I apologize I am not able to be there personally tonight but am in Washington representing our great city at the US Conference of Mayors. With the dark cloud floating over Pawlowski, we certainly are not being well represented at that conference. If his concern was the city, and not himself, he would have instead sent one of the many underlings he has created to Washington.

Although he will bring no value to us in the conference in Washington this week, he continues to inflict actual damage back here in Allentown. The Parking Authority, and it's director, has been tainted by his involvement in the bid to construct their latest parking deck. In another involvement, the Park Department, and it's director, has been tainted by the recent purchase of the Atiyeh parcels.  It's general knowledge that City Hall and all its departments are more less paralyzed by the current cover your back mentality.

I'm not surprised by his refusal now to put the city first. I opposed him first in 2005 as an independent candidate for mayor, then as a frequent speaker at council, and letter writer to the paper. In 2007, I began this blog, which largely opposed Pawlowski's policies. At that time, Allentown thought he was wonderful, including the local blogosphere. Allentown will survive, until which time he's taken away.

Jan 20, 2016

Allentown City Council's Faux Redemption

Tonight, Allentown City Council will vote unanimously for Ed Pawlowski to resign, or as Daryl Hendricks concedes, commit political suicide. Although, it might be a public demonstration for redemption, we who watched the rubber stamps in action for so long are not impressed. Only two weeks ago, Candida Affa was still publicly expressing support for Pawlowski.

A more valid test for redemption will occur at the next meeting, when council chooses the new controller. Two of the candidates, Jeff Glazier and Erlinda Aguiar are confirmed Pawlowskites, and benefited from his association.

For those students of political science interested in Allentown's fall from grace, only this blog has the whole story, starting a decade ago, when The Morning Call and Allentown thought that Pawlowski could walk on water.

Jan 18, 2016

Morning Call Still Promoting For Reilly

On Friday, the Morning Call ran a special on Hess's. I could tell that the reporter actually never experienced the store, but I neither fault him or the paper for that. There are few places to find historical perspective on Allentown anymore,  this blog being one of them. But, what I do fault the paper for is the following line; Today, Allentown is undergoing a transformation that has brought an arena and high-end businesses and restaurants to the area dominated by Hess's.

Allentown becoming a dining destination is wishful thinking.  Allentown again becoming a high end shopping district is delusional.   Sage and the Moravian Bookstore were induced by J.B. Reilly to open here with irresistibly cheap rent, they were not attracted by any success of the area.  Furthermore,  after the failure of Shula's, it diminishes the paper's credibility to continue the Reilly NIZ myth.

At some point, after it was apparent to others, the paper starting portraying the disgraced city government for what it is.  At what point will the paper realize that the arena zone is a taxpayer funded, privately owned bonanza,  for just a few people.

Jan 15, 2016

Allentown, A Revoltin Development

When I was a kid, at the end of each episode of The Life Of Riley, William Bendix would say, What a revoltin development this is. Imagine how poor J.B. Reilly feels, one $Billion dollars worth of development, and everyday the headline reads that the mayor is a crook, although not yet charged with any crime. Worse yet, is the realization of all the shenanigans, and all the willing players. If city hall and the council chamber would be really purged, there wouldn't be enough people left to run the city. Truth be told, this city deserves the scandal. Whoever heard of electing people endorsed by a mayor everybody knew was going to be indicted. Instead of starting off city council meetings with a prayer for good judgement, they should instead apologize, for all their poor decisions.

News sources state that council will finally vote no confidence in Pawlowski. Each meeting more citizens express no confidence in council. Vicky Kistler will take over Community Development. Although, she has no experience in many aspects of that department, and the head of Building and Code just retired, she should do no damage. In all due respect, beyond everyday city operations, City Hall should be making no major decisions or initiatives; They no longer have the moral authority.

For my skepticism about municipal intentions, several years ago Bill White called me dour and misguided. In my mind that's much better than indicted, which will soon describe those he admired.

Jan 14, 2016

The Lies Of Allentown

2016 isn't shaping up as a good year for Allentown. As the top floor of City Hall is being arrested, Pawlowski remains in psychological denial, still putting up inane facebook posts in the early morning. J.B. Reilly could also be more truthful about Shula's closing. He told the Morning Call "We're certainly interested in a more lower-cost concept that has a broader appeal to the community and neighborhoods,"   Now, we all know that he doesn't really want a neighborhood friendly eatery below his millennials at Strata Flats. He's trying to sell those tenants an image which doesn't include the underclass.  Besides, Allentown gave them their own shopping and eating district further out 7th Street, and would prefer to keep them on the north side of Linden Street.

Anyway, even as a dour and misguided blogger who never got with the program, I couldn't have written this script if I had tried. Which donkey will the FBI pin the tail on this week?

Jan 13, 2016

Inside Lehigh Valley Politics

The picture and caption on my campaign page was intentionally very simple and direct. I needed help. You needed to participate in democracy, beyond just voting, to help foster change; Otherwise, there may be less choice inside the voting booth than you realize. Our incumbent representatives, from both parties, have more in common than that which separates them. Neither party was capable of making meaningful changes to the state's morass, or even passing a budget. New candidates seek the endorsement from existing candidates, holding different offices, as if their recommendation should mean anything. The caption with the photograph said only, I need your help to fight for us in Harrisburg. Help me get signatures to be on the ballot. Registered Republicans call me at 610 XXX-XXXX or email me, XXX@XXX.com 

While a limited number of people contacted me offering their help, numerous people "liked" the photo. Now,  I understand adult coloring books; People like pictures and government which require little to no work on their part.

Jan 12, 2016

Outside Straight Shooter Folds

When I ran for State Representative in 2014 as an independent, I was shocked by the partisan attitude of many of the people I had worked with on various causes throughout the years. None of those involved with the local Democratic or Republican party actively helped me. I did receive help from people active in various causes, but only from those best described as non partisan. I appreciated their help, and we managed to man a few polling places. In this current effort, even as an outsider Republican, once again I face that partisan wall. I've had a number of people volunteer to assist in gathering signatures, but the response has not been sufficient to encourage me. Unlike other people seeking the office, I'm not looking for a career. I have not accepted any contributions. My motive was providing more conscientious representation in Harrisburg, for an interested public. Between the public indifference and the party politics, I have decided to cease pursuing the Republican nomination. Perhaps the public will become more interested in this election as the year progresses, in which case I will still be eligible as an independent. Again, I want to thank those who offered me their time and support.

Jan 11, 2016

Little Apple Peaks

I believe that the Little Apple, Allentown's Revitalization, has peaked. Shula's closure signaled that we're over the peak, on the downslope. I'm sure that the owner gave J.B. Reilly ample notice to keep him open, if J.B. was inclined to pony up with another round of gift cards. I don't know if it's true, but I was told that they even tried to get the street singer back to do Barbara Ann. If J.B. himself wasn't the operator, likewise the hotel and Dime would have closed already. Now, don't cry for J.B.. The core money stream, the office workers income tax, will keep the show in production.

I always enjoy it when the Morning Call takes one of my 250 word themes and turn it into a feature story, complete with graphs and charts. Such was the case Sunday, when they conceded that gentrification never got past the Strata Flats. They still sell the company line that those apartments are full, despite no people or lights at night.  If those empty units are indeed leased to corporations, is it an arrangement which allows a large portion of the residential building to also utilize the NIZ funding mechanism?  With the NIZ being self regulated, nobody oversees the public interest.  It's not like Pennsylvania has any revenue shortfalls to worry about.

photo:The Morning Call

Jan 8, 2016

Send The Truth To Harrisburg

In the picture above I'm debating the NIZ, on Tony Iannelli's Business Matters, with Mike Fleck. This of course was before the FBI investigation, Fleck's disappearance, and all the subpoenas. This blog, published for the last eight years, has been telling the truth,  and nothing but the truth,  although often times not well received by our "leaders".  With your help, I'll represent the upper Lehigh Valley with same honestly and tenacity in Harrisburg. I need the help of registered Republicans to gather enough signatures to appear on the ballot. If your willing to give me a couple hours help, please contact me at 610 395-1815 or mmolovinsky@aol.com

Jan 7, 2016

Fighting The Political Machine

As an advocate, blogger and now candidate, I can tell you that it's not easy fighting against the political machine. Last time out, I ran as an independent, in a state that hasn't elected one since the 1930's. This time I'm running as a Republican, but now against established insider connections. Although change is always an election buzzword, neither the party or voters seem to really put value on it. Quite the contrary, with representatives usually serving for ten and more terms. They talk about property tax reform, pension reform and any kind of reform popular at the time. Truth is nothing changes, neither the representatives, term after term, or the policies in Harrisburg.

The Morning Call's political correspondent in Harrisburg finally acknowledged that I'm running, but referred to me as an independent. With your help  I'll correct him, when I'm sworn in as the first real outsider representative. I need help gathering the signatures during the last week in January and first week in February, in order to be on the ballot. Those who circulate the petition must be registered Republicans. I can be reached at 610 395-1815 or mmolovinsky@aol.com

UPDATE: Steve Esack made corrections to his Capital Ideas.  As a long time advocate and critic, even  occasionally of the newspaper,  I appreciate the fairness.

Jan 6, 2016

Obama Inadvertently Promotes Gun Frenzy

Obama's televised speech on gun control from the White House was wrought with emotion. I don't believe that there is anybody not profoundly saddened by children being shot.  However, the relationship between such revulsion and his proposals is very vague. Virtually all guns bought and sold through various venues, ultimately involve a FFL dealer, and a background check of the buyer. I don't know what tiny loophole Obama really closed yesterday by executive order, but I'm sure that it will result in a buying frenzy, that will profoundly outweigh the few sales it curtails. Worse yet, I'm sure that the White House knew that while his action would affect only a few dozen transactions, it would foster the sale of a few hundred thousand more guns. This is a pattern that has repeated itself, over and over again. I'm not advocating a gun policy, but know that grandstanding on the issue serves no good end.

Jan 5, 2016

Julio Guridy Cries His Way To The Bank

                                                                       photo by molovinsky        
Julio Guridy, Allentown's current longest standing council member, lost the vice presidency of council last night. Last year he lost the presidency, which is the current backdoor to being mayor. With Pawlowski's pending baggage, this could well be the year that a council president moves up, via resignation. However, don't cry for Julio, once Allentown's rising star. About a decade ago, the Hispanic power brokers in Philadelphia got Julio appointed to the Joint Toll Bridge Commission, with which he has earned close to $100 grand a year ever since, for a no-show, nonsense job.

Julio's job and hundreds like it, really motivate me to get to Harrisburg and address that bed of corruption. There are dozens of commissions, with political plum no-show jobs, sucking $millions from the taxpayer.

I'm currently wrestling with an obstacle on my plan to run under the Republican banner. The window to gather Republican signatures is short, and being an outsider gives me no access to the party's organizational advantage.  Hopefully, some party members who recognize the voters mood will want someone unique on the ticket,  and step forward to help me with this hurdle.  One things for sure, nobody will be offering me a no-show commission job to be a good boy.

Jan 4, 2016

Politics, Morning Call Style

Early last week, The Morning Call ran an article about Julie Harhart retiring, and mentioned four contenders for the seat, including myself. Later in the week, they published, online, Steve Esack's blog,  in which he mentioned only one of the Republican contenders, and a different Democrat. So, two articles from the same paper, with different information. I was going to email Esack, their Harrisburg correspondent, about the discrepancy, but assumed the paper would work it out.  I must also assume that the reporters read each other's articles. On Sunday, the paper reprinted Esack's choices, in two spots in the front section, again omitting three contenders, including myself.

I must confess that Sunday's edition gives me some pause about pursuing this election under the Republican banner.  The Republican candidate mentioned is the party's anointed one.  The first article was on the inside of the front page, in the POLITICS AS USUAL section. The second mention was in the TOP STORIES section, where they usually condense articles printed earlier in the week.  In this case, they omitted three previously mentioned candidates, but added another.  While it's difficult enough to compete with an anointed candidate,  equal space in the press is essential,  especially in the Lehigh Valley.  Sunday is the paper's largest circulation, in essentially, a one paper market.

Also on Sunday, Bill White's column dealt with what voters must do to end politics as usual in Harrisburg. I have no issue with White's column per se, but he might also want to involve himself with what the paper itself should do. They should guard against articles that promote one candidate over others.  They should strive to assure that each candidate for elected office receive a fair amount of coverage. They too, like the voters, have a responsibility.

Jan 1, 2016

As Good As It Gets

In the movie, As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson brings his own eating utensils to the coffee shop, I can relate to that. Those visiting today expecting a Year End Review should go elsewhere. There is no best of, and nobody wants to read the worst of. There's a couple State Representative paragraphs, which will become a steady diet here. Although I will continue to report noteworthy Lehigh Valley items of interest, the Molovinsky campaign has rented much of the column space.

It's ironic that Representative Schlossberg, who writes a blog on how to avoid political embarrassment, failed to control his own damage with the ghost vote incident. At least he hasn't posted on that blog since the scandal broke, which is better than Pawlowski, and his inane facebook items. Only in Allentown could Schlossberg survive this breach of trust.

In my own campaign, I need a little help from my friends. Because of the Presidential election, the election calender is moved up, and the short window for gathering petition signatures begins January 26th. Any help from registered Republicans (an election code requirement) would be greatly appreciated. I can be reached by email at mmolovinsky@aol.com

Dec 31, 2015

The Harrisburg State House Experience

Julie Harhart issued a press release confirming that this is indeed her last term. "It has been an honor and privilege to represent the residents of the 183rd District in the state House," Harhart said in a press release. "In doing so, I have made many friends, both in the General Assembly and the surrounding community, that I will miss tremendously. They have helped to make public service, while challenging, one of the most satisfying experiences of my life." I take particular notice of her word "experience". To my way of thinking, 11 terms, or 22 years, is not an experience, but a career. Although I'm a candidate for this office, the 183rd District, I have no interest in learning the language of political speak, I prefer straight forward English.

I also note that both my opponents for the Republican nomination indicated that they just learned of Harhart's pending retirement, from a recent Morning Call article about State Rep expenses, which had only a few words suggesting that Harhart wasn't seeking re-election.  One candidate is the aide of Harhart's colleague, and most assuredly knew of  Harharts pending announcement.  The language of politics apparently comes very easy to some people.  I hope that I don't confuse them with speaking only the straight forward truth.

Dec 30, 2015

Harrisburg, A House of Worms

Anybody who fishes in the Susquehanna can find all the worms they need a few blocks east, in the state house. Many of them even wear suits and ties. Although Governor Wolf deemed the partial budget he signed garbage, both parties, and both branches of our government, are to blame. On a positive note, funds will be released immediately for public schools, some of which had to already borrow over $900 million to stay open. Once again, pension reform fails to pass, not even passing the Republican controlled House of Representatives. For anyone who hasn't subscribed to this blog for the last couple of days, I'm running for state representative, as an outsider in the Republican primary, against two establishment candidates. When I see the chaos in Harrisburg, I'm proud not to be a partisan. Tell your friends north of Route 22, in the 183rd District, that I look forward to working for them.

Dec 29, 2015

A Supremo Christmas

While I've never shown much enthusiasm for J.B. Reilly's attempt to revitalize downtown through his high end shops, neither has the marketplace. Christmas day, I visited the new Supremo Market on 7th Street, occupying the former Levine's Fabric store. The market was attractive, large, well stocked and mobbed.

There is an old saying that there are more nickels than quarters. I suppose that it should be no surprise that in a city populated by a large percentage of low income people, a well run store geared for that demographic can prosper. What's interesting is that while the taxpayer ponied up a $Billion dollars, so far, for the NIZ, the thriving Supremo costs us nothing. While the Morning Call writes one promotion after another for Reilly's portfolio, there is nothing said about the real success story in Allentown.

Let me provide some history.  Once upon a time,  that was the busiest block on 7th Street. The building was built as a Sears and Roebucks in the early 1950's, using a plan duplicated in other cities. The store did well competing with the three local department stores, and was first to go suburban.

Talking of history, some may notice a new item on this blog's sidebar. It's a picture of a Mack Truck Magazine cover, which was printed each month. I have titled the new insertion, LOCAL HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE.  Hopefully, the local political shenanigans will slow down, so I can devote more posts to our rich history.

stock photo from Supremo website

Dec 28, 2015

Announcing My Candidacy

After some deliberation, I announce my candidacy under the Republican banner for the 183rd State House seat. Although, I will compete for the Republican nomination, needless to say, I will retain an independent spirit. As an outsider to party politics, I will need help in gathering petition signatures, and other necessities for success. Harrisburg is clearly broken, let us together see what we can do to improve the ethics of this state. Those who share my interest in a better Pennsylvania can leave their contact information by comment to this post. Such comments and information will not be printed or shared.   Thank you, Michael Molovinsky

Dec 25, 2015

Christmas City

In 1937, Bethlehem was still struggling from the Great Depression. In December of that year, the Star was built on top of the mountain, elaborate street decorations were installed, and the city began calling itself                                                Christmas City.

reprinted from December 25, 2012

Dec 24, 2015

Pawlowski's Willing Patsies

Allentown City Council was recently asked to approve a feasibility study for a trail path through the former fertilizer plant property, west of Schreiber's Bridge, along Martin Luther King Drive. Students of bad Allentown government recognize this parcel as one of the two, that Mayor Pawlowski purchased at significant profit for the owner.  I believe that this trail topic is being raised now in an attempt to justify the purchase. However, there was absolutely no need or previous plan to purchase the land for a trail, because the right of way for the former Barber Quarry Rail track runs right through the parcel, already providing the rail to trail option.  At no cost, I opposed the trail, because the park department has neither the manpower or budget to maintain existing features. Purchasing the land was a poor decision at best, corrupt at worst, and should be put up for sale immediately.

This year, when I offered my historical perspective to City Council as a volunteer consultant on park system matters, their response was total silence. Apparently, they prefer to be willing patsies, rather than informed decision makers.

photo of Barber Quarry rail line, just west of Schreiber's Bridge, taken in 1976 by Dave Latshaw. From the collection of Mark Rabenold

Dec 23, 2015

Teaching The Sweat Hog Parents

Recent news from the Allentown School System is that 10 more students have been arrested because of the recent fights, and that the system is starting Parent University Workshops.

The Allentown school district is correct in realizing that much fault for the discipline issues at the schools comes from their home life. However, thinking that their parents will attend workshops to improve their parenting skills is something only an administrator could think will work. In real life, dedicated parents don't need the help, and problem parents won't attend.

This is the kind of program a school district engages in desperation.That said, even minimal results make the program worth pursuing if the cycle of poverty can be broken in at least a few families.   Scott Armstrong

Dec 22, 2015

A Raise For J.B. Reilly

There's one constant in every rejected state budget plan coming out of Harrisburg, that's a raise in the cigarette tax. In that land of the moral and mental midgets, cigarette smokers are the low hanging fruit. They're not exactly an organized group, with a lobby defending their interests. Back here, in the land of private bonanza, any increase goes straight into J.B.'s pocket. Only Allentown, in Pennsylvania, could be having a $Billion Dollar building boom, which doesn't benefit anybody, but one man.

Dec 21, 2015

Humbug Christmas Continues

On Saturday I put up a rare weekend post titled Humbug Christmas, in which Alan Jennings was taken to task for handing out ten dollar bills. Because Bill White has a Christmas Lights special each year, and Bernie O'Hare is trying to emulate him with his Municipal Christmas Tree posts, allow me a second in the Humbug Christmas series. The alternative caption for the photo shown above would be, For Whom The Bell Tolls, which I believe someone has already used for a book title. In my version, Mayor Ed is ringing the bell at the Lehigh Valley Mall in Whitehall. He's hoping it's the bell of redemption.

Dec 19, 2015

Humbug Christmas


On Friday night 69NEWS did a Christmas “story”of Alan Jennings handing out envelopes of cash in downtown Allentown. Point one: it wasn’t his money. Point two: how did 69 NEWS know about this event if they weren’t notified in advance by those dispensing of the “charity”? Isn’t anonymity a basic rule of charity? If so, it was totally blown in this story. While one might want to see the upside of any situation, this one strikes me as very galling. Alan could have done the same act with discretion but chose not to. To me, that makes all the difference.
                                                                                   Scott Armstrong

 Because, neither this blog or myself care about being perceived as nice, this submission by Scott Armstrong was accepted without hesitation. Alan Jennings apparently called both WFMZ and the Morning Call, to publicize the handout. He stated to them that the money came from a private donor, one hundred ten dollar bills.

photo: Sharon Merkel / The Morning Call

Dec 18, 2015

PPL Plaza Lawsuit

Yesterday, I said that I was deferring opinion of the Plaza lawsuit, the deferral is over. The building was purchased by New York investors with what I call a New York City frame of reference. At the time of purchase, they had no idea that Reilly/Brown would be scheming up the NIZ. They paid top dollar for a premiere building, with a blue chip Fortune 500 tenant. Because they didn't pay NYC prices, although an associate referred to it as a Philadelphia price, they thought it was indeed a solid investment. It is a unique building, which was custom designed to accentuate PPL's promotion of energy efficiency. Although the center atrium facilitated natural daylight, it wastes an enormous amount of space. The grass on the roof and other high tech energy concepts of that moment, bring no added value for other tenants.

The KOZ was originally conceived to help cities draw businesses to brownfields. That concept was bastardized over the years to regular parcels, including the former prime address of Lehigh Valley, 9th and Hamilton. With the KOZ expired, PPL having spun off Talen Energy, and Reilly and Jaindl competing for their tenant, their investment does indeed look like a white elephant.

The NIZ certainly does create an uneven playing field, but so did the previous KOZ's, to a much less extent. If class A space like the Plaza cannot compete, older office buildings have no future what so ever. If we had anything more than moral and mental midgets in Harrisburg, perhaps they would have thought through the NIZ,  in regard to the consequences to the greater marketplace.

link to companion post

Dec 17, 2015

LVHN Doctors To Reilly's Wallet

If you're in the hospital, you would like to think that the head honcho for your malady, the chief of staff, is near by. Well, he or she is not, instead they're above the arena entrance, in Reilly's portion of the building. Floors 6 through 9 of the PPL Center is the official address for the LVHN administrators, and chiefs of staff. This maneuver allows J.B. Reilly to harvest the state income taxes from the highest paid employees of the hospital. Although this is a ruse to funnel even more money Reilly's way, I only hope that these doctors do in fact spend their time at the hospital, and not above the arena.

The owners of the PPL Plaza office building, now occupied by Talen Energy, have filed a federal lawsuit. They claim that the NIZ makes the playing field so uneven, that the NIZ is unconstitutional. Although I'll defer opinion on the constitutionality issue, it certainly can spawn corruption. It appears that the NIZ is so lucrative, that it can even subvert the integrity of a large tax-free, such as LVHN.

As I often say, Pennsylvania is a corrupt state, and you are represented in Harrisburg by nobody but moral midgets. Although, I have exposed many shenanigans on this blog, today's revelation even surprised a jaded blogger like myself.

An Independent Lady

Although Allentown City Council is currently composed of all Democrats, there is an independent voice. On the vote for approving Eminent Domain, the only dissenting vote came from Jeanette Eichenwald. Whenever a group is being disenfranchised, they have an ally in Eichenwald. Her passion for prejudice reduction is well known in the community, and always supercedes any party affiliation or loyalty. Eichenwald's campaign budget for this coming election is $0.00. She feels that it's inappropriate for financial support to be a factor in City Council Elections. The moral compass in the Council Chamber has always pointed to her seat on the dais.

reprinted from October of 2011

ADDENDUM: I published the above endorsement of Ms. Eichenwald for the November 2011 election.  In looking back for this post, my archives revealed no less than thirty posts noting her independent stances on council. As an advocate for many issues over the decades, I can tell you that invariably council members know how they're going to vote before the meeting. Jeanette Eichenwald took her responsibility to a higher level, and rendered each decision based on the merits of the issue, not political alliances.  Jeanette attended her last meeting as a council-person last night.  Let us hope that somebody chooses to emulate her integrity.

Dec 16, 2015

Arena No Benefit For Allentown Taxpayers

There is fundamentally something wrong with a town that bestows a $Billion Dollars worth of real estate on one or two people, but gives everyone else a tax increase. While $34 million of our state taxes pay for Reilly's debt service this year, residents of Allentown will see a 24% increase in their city income tax. Mayor Pawlowski claims that the increase is necessary because of pension obligations, but that's why we supposedly leased the water system. In short, there has been no benefit to the public from the revitalization. We know that Reilly was revitalized, and that Pawlowski would have been, except for a pesky FBI investigator. While I  called for tar and feathers yesterday, where is the Morning Call? Save for Jeanette Eichenwald, where is city council?

This coming June, Allentown will host a convention of Pennsylvania bureaucrats, who will study the success of Allentown's inner-city revival. Ed Pawlowski, if not yet incarcerated, will be a speaker. State taxpayers will pay for these fakers to stay at the new hotel, eat at the new restaurants, and hear how we're benefitting from it.  If they're interested, I'm available as a speaker.

Dec 15, 2015

Molovinsky Holiday Cheer

I suppose that tar and feathering sounds a bit harsh, but a hundred years ago, a thousand miles to the west, Ed Pawlowski would have been coated already. I would prescribe the treatment not for his alleged abuses at city hall, but for his recent facebook posts, which have been insufferable. In a recent post, he's pictured with immigrants from Liberia. Tonight I welcomed members of the Liberian community in Allentown as they form a new organization to help bring reconciliation to their homeland which has been torn apart over the years by civil war. Picture after picture, Ed is with people who probably don't know about the FBI scandal. To them, and to Ed, he's still mayor.

While I'm spreading holiday cheer, allow me to address the recent Morning Call special on J.B. Reilly's investment in the NIZ. The report said that he's putting 5% down on the projects, which are approved by the NIZ board. The article omits the fact that he was loaned $20 million before any construction began, and before any specific project was announced. According to Mike Fleck, as reported in the Morning Call, J.B. had pledged $50 thousand dollars to Ed's campaign fund.

I think that local politicians, developers and reporters must have accidentally misplaced my address,  I have yet to receive any greeting cards this year.

Dec 14, 2015

Real LIfe In Allentown

Putting aside the endless NIZ promotion by The Morning Call,  real life in Allentown hasn't gotten any better. Stabbing and shootings have become so commonplace,  that they're relegated to the middle of the paper. The reputation of the school system is so dismal, that people choose charter schools, not because of their merit, but just hoping for something a little better.  A school system that once had a national reputation for theater and art, is now known for fights and beating up policewomen. Add  a scandal ridden mayor and city hall, and we owe Billy Joel an apology. We accused him of maligning Allentown, we can't blame him this time. While the paper can't contain its joy over the arena, the city can't contain its crime.

There was a recent drive-by shooting in the small residential area wedged between Target shopping center and route 22, within sight of Cedar Crest Boulevard. Early Sunday morning, close to the municipal golf course and again within sight of Cedar Crest Boulevard, a car was left sitting on the owner's driveway, missing all four wheels.

Office workers may now drive downtown to work, but come five o'clock, all but a few childless millennials will drive back to suburbia, where more often the woes of Allentown now follow them.

Dec 11, 2015

Allentown And Its Newspaper

When I was a kid, the paper was printed twice a day, The Morning Call and The Evening Chronicle. Many subscribers, like my parents, received both editions. The paper was locally owned, as were the businesses that advertised within. The owner/publisher, the Miller family, were part of an oligarchy that ran Allentown. Donald Miller was also a partner in Park&Shop, predecessor to today's parking authority.

Today, the paper is owned by the Tribune Company, and has virtually no institutional memory of the town. To my knowledge, there is nobody on the staff born in Allentown. The most senior writers arrived in Allentown no earlier than the early 1970's. When the paper asks for memories or photographs of the heydays, what they receive is all new to them. Yesterday, a columnist recommended a history written by somebody who left Allentown as a 15 year old in 1962, and never returned, except for a visit in 2010.

The newspaper situation in Allentown mirrors a national trend. Many communities, like Bethlehem, no longer have a local paper. I just think that each article they write should have a disclaimer.