Mar 29, 2017
In the late 1970's, neighbors would gather in the market on 9th Street to complain and receive consolation from the woman behind the cash register. Emma was a neighborhood institution. A native Allentonian, she had gone through school with mayor for life Joe Dadonna, and knew everybody at City Hall. More important, she wasn't shy about speaking out. What concerned the long time neighbors back then was a plan to create a Historical District, by a few newcomers.
What concerned Emma wasn't so much the concept, but the proposed size of the district, sixteen square blocks. The planners unfortunately all wanted their homes included, and they lived in an area spread out from Hall Street to 12th, Linden to Liberty.* Shoving property restrictions down the throats of thousands of people who lived in the neighborhood for generations didn't seem right to Emma. As the battle to establish the district became more pitched, Emma began referring to it as the Hysterical District.
Emma eventually lost the battle, but won the hearts of thousands of Allentonians. Emma Tropiano would be elected to City Council beginning in 1986, and would serve four terms. In 1993 she lost the Democratic Primary for Mayor by ONE (1) vote.
Her common sense votes and positions became easy fodder for ridicule. Bashed for opposing fluoridation, our clean water advocates now question the wisdom of that additive. Although every founding member of the Historical District moved away over the years, Emma continued to live on 9th Street, one block up from the store. In the mid 1990's, disgusted by the deterioration of the streetscape, she proposed banning household furniture from front porches. Her proposal was labeled as racist against those who could not afford proper lawn furniture. Today, SWEEP officers issue tickets for sofas on the porch.
Being blunt in the era of political correctness cost Emma. Although a tireless advocate for thousands of Allentown residents of all color, many people who never knew her, now read that she was a bigot. They don't know who called on her for help. They don't know who knocked on her door everyday for assistance. They don't know who approached her at diners and luncheonettes all over Allentown for decades. We who knew her remember, and we remember the truth about a caring woman.
* Because the designated Historical District was too large, it has failed, to this day, to create the atmosphere envisioned by the long gone founders. Perhaps had they listened to, instead of ridiculing, the plain spoken shopkeeper, they would have created a smaller critical mass of like thinking homeowners, who then could have expanded the area.
reprinted yearly since 2010
photo: The Morning Call
Mar 28, 2017
When I was a boy I worked in my father's meat market located at the foot of Union Street, where the Hamilton Street Bridge crossed over the Lehigh River. Saturday was busy, with many customers who worked at the Steel, Lehigh Structural, Black and Decker, Western Electric, Mack and dozens of sewing factories. A couple of guys who worked during the week at Arbogast & Bastian helped my dad out on Saturdays. Both Swift and Wilson meat packers had wholesale branches near by. They would be supplied by rail sidings, which criss-crossed that area of the city. At that time everything was made in America, except for cheap novelty junk. Now, in addition to losing our manufacturing, we're even losing our retail, as everything comes directly from online ordering and warehouses. I suppose that soon the cashiers at the supermarket will be a relic of the past.
Mar 27, 2017
In recent weeks the liberals were convinced that the bomb threats against Jewish institutions was the result of Trump exciting the neo Nazi types during the campaign. Those liberals of course included most Jews. I always felt, and blogged, that the connection to those incitements was fabricated by the media and his distractors. I also defended Steve Bannon. Well, lo and behold, the phoned threats originated from a emotionally disturbed Jewish boy in Israel.
The media of course has nothing to say about their erred speculation. They are now concentrating exclusively on Trump's defeat with repealing Obama Care. However, if you don't mind, I want to stay on this error for a few more sentences. We are constantly reminded that Trump lost the popular vote. Never the less, slightly less than half the votes were cast for Trump. Was not the media's presumption about the source of the phone threats somewhat insulting to this large portion of the population?
Now, I'm just a small town pizza blogger, but I know when there is a disconnect between elitism and populism. Those smirks on the condescending liberal pundits faces returned, less than a week after the election. Must be grand to be so self-righteous.
Mar 24, 2017
St. Matthew's Monastery in Kurdish Iraq, one of the oldest Christian Institutions in the world, was built by Christians fleeing persecution in 363 AD. Today, 16 centuries later, Christians are once again seeking shelter there. In the last decade it has been estimated that half the Christians have left Iraq. Since the Baghdad Church bombing in October, some Christians are afraid to be seen wearing a cross; Others have fled with little more than the clothes on their back. Pray for them.
St. Matthew's is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church
reprinted from December 2010. Things have only gotten worse for the Christians in Iraq, many more have fled.
reprinted from May 2013. The situation in Iraq has become even more perilous. Those Christians unable to leave Iraq have mostly taken shelter in north section of the country, under control of the Kurds.
UPDATE: I started posting about the plight of Christians in Iraq and the greater Middle East in 2010. The next reprint was in May of 2013, and conditions had only gotten worse. Now, in 2014, they are outright victims of genocide. The Monastery is still be used for protection.
I'm glad that the plight of Christians in Iraq is starting to attract main stream media attention, but there is another persecuted group you may not hear about. The Mandeans predate Christianity, do not believe in Christ, and are believed to have been followers of John the Baptist. Accepting no converts, their numbers have always been small. Apparently, they migrated to the swamps south of current Baghdad after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Their writings are in Aramaic, the language of the Bible in the time of Jesus. Their rules and ethics are similar to Jewish tradition. Baptism is their central ritual; they call the water Jordan.
reprinted from 2010,2013 and 2014
Mar 23, 2017
Terror attacks are part of living in big city, said London Mayor Sadiq Khan last year.
"You have to be kidding me?!" Response to Khan by Donald Trump Jr. yesterday.
Trump Jr. is being criticized for insensitivity because he juxtapositions a response to Khan a year later, after the London attack yesterday. Meanwhile, back in yesteryear, Khan's remark was made after the bombing incident in NYC and elsewhere in the USA, which injured 26 people. Liberals are more upset by Jr's statement than the terrorist attacks. I suppose it's better to be politically correct than safe.
Mar 22, 2017
In a taped interview with The Morning Call on corruption at City Hall, Pawlowski stated that it would be ludicrous to modify the system because a few people acted improperly. What he failed to mention is that those people pleaded guilty to illegal acts for his benefit, and allegedly under his direct or indirect control.
That he remains a favorite to win, or even viable, bodes poorly for Allentown. As I have reported before, and as revealed on his Facebook page, he has been courting selected small minority groups and businesses, as opposed to the more established among them. The fact that they would even consider voting for him is a problem in itself. If he prevails on May 16th, Allentown has officially turned the wrong corner.
UPDATE: Francis Dougherty, former Managing Director of Allentown, and Pawlowski's #2 person, has pleaded guilty in federal court this morning to tying city contracts with donations to Pawlowski, under Pawlowski's direction. Pawlowski is scheduled to debate the other mayoral candidates this afternoon.
UPDATE: State Representative Michael Schlossberg has joined the chorus asking for Pawlowski's resignation
photo by The Morning Call, showing candidates being asked how they would counter potential corruption in city hall.
Mar 21, 2017
I wasn't surprised when Luiz Garcia announced his candidacy. I had mentioned his interest on this blog before he made it official. Although Luiz survived the challenge yesterday in court, the real hurdle will be on primary day. There are very few registered Hispanic Republicans in Allentown. Those readers afflicted with political correctness may take some umbrage with this post. They might ask me to clarify if I believe that Republicans won't vote for a Hispanic, at least in Allentown. Frankly dear, I don't give a damn about political correctness. My point is that whatever cache Garcia might have with Hispanics, it won't help him in the primary. He's on the wrong ticket for that benefit.
Nat Hyman is strongest in the deep West End, where the party faithful largely reside. If Garcia would happen to prevail in May, he might well be a stronger candidate in the general election next fall. In the meantime, the publicity from Garcia surviving the challenge can only help his candidacy.
Mar 20, 2017
Regular readers of this blog know that I had to replace my entire staff because of a mass resignation after the Women's March. One position which I didn't have to refill was staff photographer, because I have always assumed that role myself.
All candidates for mayor should understand that my advocacy for the traditional park system will continue as a important component of this blog.
Residents of the West End, from 19th street to Ott, between Tilghman and Liberty think that Pawlowski did a good job with the snow. This neighborhood, bordering into the west end, contains many super-voters. In reality, the area was plowed curb to curb to facilitate the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday.
Reports from elsewhere in the city aren't so good. The school system had to hire a contractor to clear the school fronts, because the city's snow removal was inadequate.
The only thing wrong with my political analysis in the first paragraph is that it is incorrect. Unlike 2013, 2009, and 2005, that west end neighborhood does not belong to Pawlowski; It will likely go to Ray O'Connell. Likewise, Charlie Thiel and Sam Bennett have strong sections of the city, and have been working hard for the nomination. Although, they all read this blog and my predictions, none of them concede the advantage to Pawlowski. The Democratic Primary this year is a real horse race.
Mar 18, 2017
Mar 17, 2017
As I posted on Wednesday, the snow storm was a gift for Pawlowski. With less snow than predicted, and warmer temperatures, Mother Nature is cooperating to make our Mayor For Life look good. Needless to say, not all the campers are happy. Many of Allentown's narrow streets with high density, put the cars and snow at odds. Two women were arrested for fighting over a parking spot.
On the political scene, while there have been challenges in the small Republican slate, the large Democratic group of mayoral candidates remain unscathed.
Pawlowski's legal predicament was helped out last year when a federal prosecutor resigned to run for District Attorney in Philadelphia. Pawlowski may now benefit again, as Trump and Sessions restock the Justice Department.
While everybody cares about the snow and parking, I'm afraid very few residents concern themselves about who will prevail on May 16th.
Billy Mack's facebook photo of 4th Street, just north of Tilghman
Mar 16, 2017
I titled this post a Pink Pussy Hat Moment because I couldn't understand why so many women weren't getting past Trump's election. If Pawlowski wins the primary, I will be in that same mental state.
Not to fully reveal my egotistical nature, but after the last several days in the blogosphere, I think that local readers may need my political ethics. I suspect that even with a Pawlowski victory, I will carry on. However, I won't be so sure about Allentown's future.
Mar 15, 2017
The good Lord helped out Moses with manna from heaven when the Israelites were in the desert. He has likewise helped out Pawlowski with a snowstorm before the primary election. The snow ended with about 14", below what was predicted. Rest assure that snow removal will be beyond Allentown's usual level of performance. Rest assure that in the coming weeks Pawlowski will applaud and pat himself on the back for that accomplishment. Even expect a few photos of him in a snowplow. Mayor for Life on the job.
photo by Stephanie Sigafoos/The Morning Call
Mar 14, 2017
photo shows sewage overflowing into the Little Lehigh, just upstream from the drinking water plant.
Mar 13, 2017
O'Hare's comprehensive post last week on Lehigh County candidates apparently had some misnomer concerning Allentown council candidates. When Heffentrager commented on the mistake, O'Hare lowered the boom on him. O'Hare used his research skills to discover some past legal problems and associated unpaid fines by Heffentrager. He also challenged Heffentrager about an alleged omission on his candidate application. He implied that Heffentrager was both a criminal and a liar. When I added my perspective to the comment dialogue, O'Hare doubled down with a reply that was almost a repeat, word for word, of his prior attack on Ken.
Bernie stated in a subsequent comment that he would report why Heffentrager is unfit to serve in a separate post, to warn the voters. Heffentrager is only a second tier candidate at best, but he is a first tier attendee at city council. Please understand that the number of people who regularly attend council meetings couldn't fill a large table at the Hamilton Family Diner. Bernie has never suffered from a lack of self-righteousness. Although, he will attempt to justify his attack on Heffentrager, in reality he is inadvertently helping to crucify grass root candidates in Allentown. There is nothing in Heffentrager's background that made him ineligible to run. There is nothing in his background that would make him ineligible to serve, if elected. There is something in Bernie's post which will discourage people in the future from stepping forward. Allentown needs all the city council candidates it can get.
ADDENDUM: O'Hare has published his promised hit piece on Heffentragger, in which he repeats over and over that Heffentragger is a criminal. He cites two cases, which from the small fines involved, appear to be cases of a controlled substance. He then goes on to question Heffentrager's income, implying that he is a drug dealer. Although Heffentragger may have been treated compassionately by the legal system, he was retried harshly by self-appointed Judge & Jury Bernie O'Hare.
Mar 10, 2017
In the last several months I have often referred to my irate women facebook friends, who cannot let go of their rage against Donald Trump. I have also mentioned that prior to this past national election, I have seen little political interest expressed by most of them. However, today's revelation is the most disturbing to me. Despite non-stop Trump criticism, not one of these local women have written one word about the upcoming mayoral election. They are apparently more consumed with this past November than the future. They are apparently more concerned about things that will probably not affect them, than their own backyard.
As I have previously posted, Pawlowski is courting certain segments of the minority communities with favors and promises. With such a crowded field, that could well be a winning strategy. I realize that this is a controversial statement, but anyone who knowingly votes for a candidate tainted by corruption, in return for a few more city entitlements, gets no respect from me.
If the local women, so distressed by Trump in Washington, would devote a few minutes of their time for an alternative mayoral candidate, Allentown could emerge from the primary with some dignity.
Mar 9, 2017
There was almost another Democratic candidate for mayor; Everett/ Erika Bickford. Bickford is a unique grassroots person, who has been politically active in Allentown for decades. She has been particularly active in issues of social justice. Yesterday, she told me that she has decided not to run for mayor, because the field is already overcrowded. Ev was born Everett Bickford, but in recent years has presented herself as a woman more often than not. I will not elaborate on her gender identity, for I have no grasp of such subject matter. I will tell you that she is very knowledgeable on the workings and problems of Allentown. She has appeared at city council often, and is certainly a courageous person. We share a common opinion that the crowded field plays to Pawlowski's advantage. Please limit any comments to only political issues in Allentown.
Mar 8, 2017
Occasionally, some of the older boys in Lehigh Parkway would get saddled with taking me along to a Saturday matinee in downtown Allentown. We would get the trolley, in later years a bus, from in front of the basement church on Jefferson Street. It would take that congregation many years to afford completing the church building there today. The trolley or bus would go across the 8th Street Bridge, which was built to accommodate the trolleys operated by Lehigh Valley Transit Company. Downtown then sported no less than five movie theaters at any one time. Particularly matinee friendly was the Midway, in the 600 Block of Hamilton. Three cartoons and episode or two of Flash Gordon entertained our entourage, which ranged in age from five to eleven years old. We younger kids, although delighted by the likes of Bugs Bunny, were confused how the Clay People would emerge from the walls in the caves on Mars to capture Captain Gordon, but our chaperones couldn't wait till the next week to learn Flash's fate. Next on the itinerary was usually a banana split at Woolworth's. Hamilton Street had three 5 and 10's, with a million things for boys to marvel at. The price of the sundae was a game of chance, with the customer picking a balloon. Inside the balloon was your price, anywhere from a penny to the full price of fifty cents. The store had a full selection of Allentown souvenirs. Pictures of West Park on a plate, the Center Square Monument on a glass, pennants to hang on your wall, and picture postcards of all the attractions. Hamilton Street was mobbed, and even the side streets were crowded with busy stores. Taking younger kids along was a responsibility for the older brothers, the streets and stores were crowded, but predators were limited to the Clay People on the silver screen.
reprinted from April of 2014
Mar 7, 2017
Allentown doesn't have much of a political memory. The Morning Call changes out its reporters about every 6 months, and most political activists eventually have lobotomies out of frustration. Never the less, some of you may remember Heydt's hole. After he torn down Hess's, the hole sat there for 18 months while a group of investors failed to find financing for a amateur hockey arena. (The one built later in Bethlehem folded and now is for sale) Now, eight years later, Pawlowski has a hole. Announced with great fanfare, a local developer would build the Cosmopolitan on the site of Sal's Spaghetti House. It makes me nervous when they name a restaurant before they built it. Anyway, Pawlowski bought Sal's, and the city paid for the demolition.(Through one of its Authorities) Then the city gave the Cosmopolitan a $50,000 restaurant grant. Yes, we gave a brick-less name $50,000. I think some of the city puff bloggers were even making reservations for dinner. Back to the hole; as a sidewalk supervisor I was surprised to see the excavators dig under the adjoining Sovereign Building and pour pylons under its footers. Perhaps they were mining, mining for grants. Those pylons have enabled the developer to remove his equipment. and let that hole sit there now for over two months, with no danger to the adjoining building. I'd say about $50,000 worth of work has been done. Last month the city applied for a low cost Liquor License for the Cosmopolitan. Last week, after the Pawlowski Administration had an embarrassing "no comment" in regard to Johnny Manana's, a backhoe was moved back to outside the Cosmopolitan site. Is that backhoe a Pawlowski Prop? Does the developer sense the time is ripe for renewed grants? Does Pawlowski need a new ribbon to cut? *
* There could be legitimate reasons why construction has halted on the Cosmopolitan. However, last month the developer's attorney declined to comment on an explanation.
reprinted from August of 2008
UPDATE: The developer(s) would go on to build the high end restaurant with their own capital. It was built pre-NIZ, and represented more faith in Allentown than many others shared at that time, including this blogger.
Mar 6, 2017
As Allentown eagerly awaits the opening of the Cosmopolitan Restaurant and banquet facility on 6th Street, lets go back in time. Before the former Sal's Spaghetti House was demolished on that parcel, preservationists from Bucks County saved the historic sign. Had the couple been somewhat more familiar with Allentown's history, they may have realized that the sign was neither very historic or iconic.
Before Hamilton Street was bi-sected architecturally by the now gone canopy, the street was lined with large neon signs, many of which were much more elaborate than Sal's; That sign became historic by default. Interestingly, the Sal's sign for most of it's
business days, said Pat's. Pat's and the sign go back to the mid 1950's. In the late 70's, the business was taken over by Sal, and the P and T were simply changed to an S and L. But time goes on; Sal's family is now in the sauce business and have a most interesting website. Congratulations to Mayor Pawlowski and Myron Haydt for bringing the Cosmopolitan to 6th Street; May they have the success that both Pat's and Sal's enjoyed.
1963 Pat's advertisement courtesy of Larry P
Hamilton Steet watercolor by Karoline Schaub-Peeler
reprinted from July of 2010
Mar 3, 2017
The article about Hooks Seafood restaurant closing states that this type of failure isn't unusual in an urban renewal area, according to experts. So says the Morning Call. The article also states that The $6 million renovation of the long-closed Sal's Spaghetti House included a crystal chandelier from Hess's department store.... As you can see from my photograph above, Sal's wasn't renovated. The long closed former spaghetti house was demolished, and a new building was constructed in its place. Now, I can understand the paper not knowing this, after all, the building is over a quarter block away from the newspaper building. Assuming that people at the Morning Call read the paper, apparently nobody caught the error, twice. This was the second time in about a week that this misinformation was printed. However, this post is about the important part of the story, not covered by the paper.
The restaurant was built pre-NIZ. Save for a $50,000 city grant, the entire cost was borne by the owner. It happens that the owner and his wife were retired from a very lucrative business, and always wanted to own a high end restaurant. Opened as the Cosmopolitan, it was high end indeed. When that failed to attract enough well heeled, it was transformed into the more price friendly Hook Seafood. However, with the NIZ and Reilly's hospitality group of eateries, the market was now over-saturated.
The owner of the restaurant when asked about lack of foot traffic downtown stated, "I'm not going to get judgmental or say anything negative." Those are traits that nobody accuses this blogger of having.
photocredit:molovinsky- site of the former Sal's Spaghetti House being prepared for new foundation
Mar 2, 2017
Only a couple years ago City Center was claiming that there was a waiting list for it's storefronts. There was no need to promote, the Morning Call was doing that for them. Now, we see the NIZ's prime developer looking for merchants. Truth to be told, some of their remaining merchants are on life support. A $Billion dollars of taxpayer money later, Hamilton Street has less foot traffic than before the NIZ, certainly in the previously busy 700 block.
Nothing about this change of commercial fortune surprises me. Beyond eating lunch, the office workers have no time for shopping. After work their only interest is exiting Dodge as fast as they can. Although, too many vacancies have occurred to still claim store or restaurant demand, the apartment myth is still being sung by Reilly and his Morning Call. Unless they learned how to clone millennials, the reality of that situation will also be apparent soon enough.
Despite my on going critical analysis, I have become a supporter of the NIZ and other such incentives, provided that they used in an equitable fashion. The marketplace has imposed its own restrictions on City Center LLC. The massive twin tower projects are on hold. Besides the City Center portfolio, my concern rests with the existing prior building owners. The NIZ will not succeed surrounded by idle buildings. I would hope that after the current new projects are completed, City Center and the other vested interests work on rising the tide for all owners.
Mar 1, 2017
It is not at all "clear enough" to me. I read about the "resistance" and other absurdities of the disappointed left. I think that it's plausible that some of the acts are being orchestrated to make Trump look guilty by contrived association. I think that the connection between Trump and the neo-nazi types was fabricated nonsense. Although, it's easier to fabricate such a connection between conservatives and right wing fringe groups, it doesn't make it so. I also likewise believe that Steve Bannon was wrongly smeared by such accusation. I saw no such concern about Obama's affiliation with Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan. Whatever the authenticity of these hate acts, associating them to Trump is just part of the hysteria by those so distressed by Trump's win.
Feb 28, 2017
I'm a baby boomer. I was born in December of 1946. As soon as my mother climbed out of the hospital bed, another woman climbed in. I grew up in the neighborhood now called Little Lehigh Manor, wedged between Lehigh Street and the top of the ravine above Lehigh Parkway. That's me on our lawn at the intersection of Catalina and Liberator Avenues, named after airplanes made by Vultee Corporation for the War. We had our own elementary school, our own grocery store, and the park to play in. On Saturdays, older kids would take us along on the trolley, and later the bus, over the 8TH Street Bridge to Hamilton Street. There were far too many stores to see everything. After a matinee of cartoons or Flash Gordon, and a banana split at one of the five and dimes, we would take the bus back over the bridge to Lehigh Street.
Not that many people know where Lehigh Parkway Elementary School is. It's tucked up at the back of the development of twin homes on a dead end street, but I won't say exactly where. I do want to talk about the photograph. It's May Day, around 1952-53. May Day was big then, so were the unions; Most of the fathers worked at the Steel, Mack, Black and Decker, and a hundred other factories going full tilt after the war. The houses were about 8 years old, and there were no fences yet. Hundreds of kids would migrate from one yard to another, and every mother would assume some responsibility for the herd when it was in her yard. Laundry was hung out to dry. If you notice, most of the "audience" are mothers, dads mostly were at work. I'm at the front, right of center, with a light shirt and long belt tail. Don't remember the girl, but see the boy in front of me with the big head? His father had the whole basement setup year round with a huge model train layout. There were so many kid's, the school only went up to second grade. We would then be bused to Jefferson School for third through sixth grade. The neighborhood had its own Halloween Parade and Easter egg hunt. We all walked to school, no one being more than four blocks away. Years ago when I met my significant other, she told me she taught at an elementary school on the south side, but that I would have no idea where it was.
reprinted from January of 2013
Feb 27, 2017
According to Michael Siegel, who knows about such things, the Little Lehigh is in dire trouble. Meanwhile, back in the land of government and sacred cows, the LCA, like Sergeant Schultz on Hogan's Hero, knows and says nothing. Nestlé and the other bottlers keep sucking out our water like they're making a profit on it.☺☺
Mr. Siegel better get used to frustration. Here, in our one paper valley, the sacred cows roam free. Save but for a few bloggers, no worries here. But even in the blogosphere, the topics of choice involve personal attacks combined with anonymous comments.
Here in the valley the sacred cows herd together. The Wildlands Conservancy never criticizes the LCA, and invites Nestlé Water to conduct children's workshops.
Shown above is the former Robin Hood Dam on the Little Lehigh. It was demolished by The Wildlands Conservancy in order to harvest a state grant.
Feb 24, 2017
If you're a student of grassroots politics in Allentown, chances are that you know Robert Trotner. This political and community activist has been encouraging political newcomers for a number of years, through both an internet radio show and coffee house gatherings. His recent meetings at the Coffee House Without Limits has attracted new candidates for mayor, city council and the school board. While their names are mostly new to the general public, all of them are involved in the process already, attending meetings and studying Allentown's problems.
I have been a supporter of local outsider politics for decades. These are the people you see at the meetings, week after week. They are the ones that fight the battle for everyone else. They are the ones who speak out for the many who remain silent. While a few get elected and become mainstream, most remain unelected, and unrecognized for their commitment. Reporting their accomplishments has always been an honor for this blog.
Shown sitting with Trotner is City Council candidate Jessica Lee Ortiz and School Board candidate Phoebe Harris.
ADDENDUM: Political outsider and police officer Luiz D. Garcia has announced his candidacy as a Republican for mayor. I had reached out to Garcia last fall, and we finally connected at a police event at Sacred Heart Hospital earlier this winter. He is Allentown's first Hispanic Mayoral candidate.
Feb 23, 2017
At Tom Muller's kickdown event, he announced that although not running for another term, he would champion for the county's Cedarbrook nursing home. That most important facility has been stonewalled by the county commissioners. During the last few years I appealed to the commissioners at least twice that Cedarbrook is their most meaningful obligation. Not only haven't they funded any renovation there, they have been disingenuous in not doing so. They have commissioned study after study, stalling any real commitment. By now, the proposed modernized wing would have been half amortized. It's not as if the commissioners are bound by conservative principle, they funded the useless, but politically correct farmland preservation. They should at least treat our elderly as well as excessive acreage, used mostly for Jaindl turkey corn.
Although, I have been labeled as a radical Republican choir, I supported Muller on his Cedarbrook efforts. I supported Democrat Dan Hartzell, because he voiced support for Cedarbrook. My support for Cedarbrook will continue, as well as my outspokenness against hypocrisy, without regard to political party.
ADDENDUM: An article in the Morning Call suggests that commissioner Marty Nothstein might be more sympathetic to Cedarbrook than his Republican predecessors, time will tell.
Feb 22, 2017
Yesterday, a valued reader thought that my observation of women losing it over Trump was perhaps an aberration, caused by a small sampling on my behalf. Between the demonstrations and facebook, I don't know why she thinks that. Another reader suggested that the mental illness resides within me, for not fully understanding their outrage.
I do believe that we are experiencing a unique psychological phenomena, which will eventually be officially recognized and titled. To say that the vast majority of women I personally know are offended by Trump is an understatement.
As a political blogger I look forward to seeing how Republican incumbents play the Trump card come the midterms in 2018. Here locally in Pennsylvania that already is a challenge for Dent and Toomey.
Feb 21, 2017
No, this post isn't about Trump being mentally ill, it's about him making women nuts. If it seems as if I'm dwelling on Trump and women's reaction to him, it's because of their obsession, not mine. I'm a student of politics, and this visceral reaction to him by women is unprecedented.
I know a woman who has a large presence on facebook. In all the years of being facebook friends, she has always avoided politics. Currently, she can't stop posting about Trump. Furthermore, her comments are becoming more and more vulgar, which is also out of character for her. I can only conclude that Trump has made millions of women mentality ill.
Recently, I heard of a psychiatrist who is also very upset about Trump. Who will be left to treat these people with this new condition?
Feb 20, 2017
With the country having been so split in the last election, the losers constitute a large market share. Furthermore, that segment is passionate in their dislike of Trump, and has disposable income. Witness both Starbucks and Nordstroms cashing in on that sentiment. Expect to see more businesses copying the strategy. While Trump may have been a brand name prior to his campaign, Anti-Trump now has purchase appeal.
I recently have been accused of running a choir for Trump supporters. I was not a Trump supporter prior to the election. Since he prevailed and now is president, I have evolved into a Trump defender of sorts, although he doesn't make that task easy. I am revolted by the animosity coming his way. There is more vitriol toward Trump than I have ever witnessed in politics. At that intensity, there can be nothing productive about it. I do believe that Trump will become the issue in the upcoming mid-term elections. How sad that a congressman will run on his position on a person, rather than on the issues.
Feb 18, 2017
Feb 17, 2017
I was told by the top hierarchy of the Morning Call that although they wouldn't print either my editorial or letter about Wehr's Dam, that they would investigate and report on my documented assertions. I'm concerned about the township commissioners having allowed The Wildlands Conservancy to cast doubts about the dam's condition with Harrisburg. They attempted to poison the water about the dam behind the public's back. The state in turn sought clarification from the township about the claims by the Wildlands. I provided both quotes and dates from those memos. Two weeks have passed, and this week they reported on South Whitehall's plans to utilize the house owned by the former mill operator, but ignored the dam issue. The mill itself was torn down decades ago, and the dam is the only remnant left of this important part of the township's agricultural history.
The article reports that the house will become the township park office, and be in the important Jordan Greenway project. It doesn't reveal that the project was formulated, and is being administrated by the Wildlands Conservancy, which still wants to see the dam demolished. Bill White, their remaining columnist, and closest thing they have to an editorial by the paper, had previously publicly sided with the Wildlands in calling for its destruction.
Wehr's Dam was sanctified by the voters last November by special referendum. Although sanctify is usually used in the religious sense, understand that the voters were willing to endure a tax increase to keep their cherished dam. It has been a destination for generations.
The dam is still standing mostly from my efforts. To stifle my current concerns about its future from the public, reflects a continuing bias on the paper's behalf.
photocredit: K Mary Hess
Feb 16, 2017
As I've written before, with such a crowded field, it will not take many votes to win. Pawlowski has been courting the small minority groups, hoping to cobble together enough votes. He is in a position to dispense favors, and promise more. I believe that his name recognition and remaining power makes him the lead candidate.
Sam Bennett started early, and is an experienced organizer. This is a Democratic town, and being a woman in this Hillary era, can only help her. She will certainly draw a substantial number of votes.
Charlie Thiel likewise has been on the scene for years. He is a school board member who has the support of Jennifer Mann. He has long standing ties with both the business and religious communities.
Ray O'Connell, in addition to currently being president of City Council, was an Allentown school principal. He has been concentrating on the west end vote, which always has the highest turnout.
My preference would be anyone but Pawlowski. The three others mentioned above bring a lot of talent to the race. Even among the three not mentioned, there are many qualifications.
Feb 15, 2017
As a small boy growing up in the twin homes above Lehigh Parkway, I would go down the steep wooded ravine and cross the Robin Hood Bridge. The stone lined spring pond and miniature bridge was just the first in a series of wonderful WPA constructions to explore. Last year, when I organized the reclamation of the Boat Landing, my memory turned to the pond. Although overgrown with several inches of sod, I knew the treasure was still savable.
In the spring of 2010 I met Mike Gilbert of the Park Department, and pitched the idea of a partial restoration. On May 26th, I posted A Modest Proposal, which outlined my hopes for the pond. By July, Gilbert had the Park Department clear off the remaining stones, and clean up around the miniature bridge.
Park Director Greg Weitzel indicated to me that the pond features uncovered will be maintained. Any further clearing would be at the discretion of Mike Gilbert. In our conversation he also stated that there are virtually no funds available for the preservation of the WPA icons.
I will attempt to organize a group and contributions for this most worthy cause. Between the Spring Pond and The Boat Landing there was once a bridge to the island. Wouldn't it be nice if a small boy could go exploring.
reprinted from previous posts
UPDATE August 2013Mike Gilbert has retired, and the Park Department has a new director. Although grass and sod are starting to again cover the remaining stones that surround the pond, the miniature bridge is still visible. I will make it my mission to again pitch the new personnel.
UPDATE June 18, 2014. The grass and sod has reclaimed the stones that surround the pond. Only the very top of the miniature bridge is still visible to those who know that it's there. Unless there is an immediate intervention, it's days are numbered.
HISTORY IS FRAGILE
UPDATE February 2017:In 2015, in cooperation with Friends of Allentown Parks, I supervised college volunteers to clear the new sod off the pond stones, and the new bush off the miniature bridge. Allentown is on its third park director since this post was first written, and has acquired two large parcels to create new parks. To be planning additional parks, when our existing park features are left to abandonment, is incredibility poor management.
Feb 14, 2017
Nordstroms is having a boom because they dropped Ivanka Trump's clothing line. In their hatred of Trump, women are flocking there to patronize the store. It's hard to think of anything less supportive of women, than rewarding a merchant, because they don't like a woman's father. In this time of issues, such as North Korea's aggressiveness, liberal women are still obsessed with the results of November's election.
Here in the local arena, blogger Bernie O'Hare wrote; Locally, an assortment if bigots and xenophobes at Molovinsky Tabernacle Choir has been trying its best to justify just about everything Trump does, even when he's dead wrong. That's pretty much what has been happening nationally, too. Bernie was supposedly giving Trump the benefit of the doubt, until he used the phrase so called judge, two weeks into the administration. To Bernie, Trump is now a so called President.
In truth, I am not a Trump supporter, but a defender of our democracy. The country knowingly elected an outspoken, political outsider. Although, I understand the entertainment industry seizing upon his unpopularity, women and liberals should consider, whether if at this point, they're just being obstructionists. Furthermore, whether if this obstructionism is marginalizing their own country.
photo: Although, liberals have been over regarding SNL as news for years, now even the press is treating it that way, with reports on Sunday morning.
Feb 13, 2017
If this blog seems repetitive at times, or that I'm harping on something which doesn't interest many people, it's because I find the subject historically important, or politically compelling. Understand, that this blog is not monetized in any way. How many people read it is of no consequence to me. Even my comment policy goes against common strategies for increasing readership.
For the record, I would like it be known that I take no pleasure when my posts offend. Likewise, let me say that although I won't compromise for it, I do value your readership.
Feb 10, 2017
In the mid 50's, it was a big deal to us southsiders when they opened the new 15th Street Bridge. Prior to that, we had to either go over the 8th Street Bridge, or use the old stone arch bridge by the fertilizer plant. The fertilizer plant is long gone, but the old stone bridge is still there. Schreibers Bridge was built in 1828, and rehabilitated in 1920. The new 15th Street bridge was built in 1957, and is now restricted to south bound only, until which time it can be completely replaced. So the new bridge lasted 54 years, while the old stone bridge is still in use, 182 years later.
Recently, I urged Donny Cunningham not to replace the stone arch bridge on Reading Road. His project manager, Glenn Solt, insists that the historic bridge must be replaced. He stated that stone arch bridges look nice on the outside, but inside, they're filled with "crap." Thankfully, Don and Glenn didn't target Schreibers Bridge, because we're really going to need it with the new 15th Street Bridge out of commission. Hopefully, they will reconsider about stealing our history on Reading Road.
reprinted from November 2010 and February of 2012
ADDENDUM: I did manage to save the Reading Road Bridge. I now encourage Allentown to restore the approach walls to Schreibers Bridge, damaged as it served heavy duty while the new 15th Street Bridge was being replaced.
Feb 9, 2017
If anyone is wondering what the issue was with my letter to the Morning Call about Wehr's Dam, the issue was me. One of the consequences of having criticized the paper and various sacred cows over the last decade, is that my letters are submitted to a much higher level of scrutiny. Almost all the letters that they print have assumptions and opinions. It is, after all, the Opinions Page. My previous letter on Wehr's Dam, before the referendum, took over a month of negotiations to have printed. In the end, it was only printed because Bill White declined to make corrections to his piece on Wehr's Dam, and suggested instead that I write an editorial.
One must understand that we live in the valley of sacred cows and denial. Only here can the township manager of South Whitehall go to work for the townships largest property owner and developer, and not raise eyebrows. Only here can Allentown's biggest developer actually now own the newspaper building.
For the sake of journalism and access to news, the Morning Call should be printing this blog as a daily column, instead of repressing my occasional letters.
Feb 8, 2017
The thing about Trump's Muslim Ban is that it is not a ban on Muslims, it's a travel ban against countries which for the most part are in a state of anarchy or hostility, and not capable of vetting their own citizens in regard to our security. How safe do you feel about the current governments of Libya, Somalia or Yemen, checking passengers on their end of a flight?
My readers of liberal persuasion are probably beginning to doubt my claim of being a non-partisan. The fact is I am bewildered by the misinformation and distortion concerning the Trump administration. Now, I get that Trump has repulsed you numerous times in the last six months. You are certainly entitled to your dislike and distrust of him, but the distortions benefit nobody.
killing Christians on the beach in Libya