Jun 30, 2015

Wildlands Conservancy's Thrill Of Hypocrisy

Yesterday, was the last day of the Conservancy's Annual Lehigh River Sojourn. The event was well covered by The Morning Call, with both a reporter and photographer on board one of the rafts. The three day event started with a talk by Chris Kocher, President of the Wildlands. The group gets grants during the winter to demolish dams, and grants during the summer to conduct this educational sojourn on the Lehigh river. Last year, Wildlands spend over $250,000 in grant money on just a study, promoting the removal of Wehr's Dam. Their website stated that the Lehigh Sojourn would take place rain or shine, but doesn't explain why. What Chris Kocher and The Morning Call fail to reveal is that their raft adventure is scheduled to coincide with the water release from the Francis E. Walter Dam in White Haven. It is only because of this dam that the Lehigh has a steady flow of water, and that these hypocrites can get their whitewater thrill.

photo of Wildlands Conservancy hypocrites enjoying dam release by Harry Fisher of The Morning Call

Jun 29, 2015

A Ghost Town Called Allentown

On Saturday afternoon, albeit in a very light drizzle, I parked at 10th and Hamilton and walked down to center square. On the way back, I stopped at Tony Lukes for takeout. Besides the lonely clerk at the empty steak shop, I didn't encounter one other person. When I participated in the NIZ debate several years ago, Pawlowski's NIZ representative said that they were going to eradicate the cancer. That of course referred to the former merchants and their customers. What they have done is trade what they perceived as low life for no life. The plan now is for Reilly to add people to the mix, by building apartments for the milleniums. Not exactly an organic plan for urban renewal.

Jun 26, 2015

The Thin Veneer Of Allentown's NIZ

In the 1930's, wooden buildings would be covered with shingle that looked like brick, it was called tinselbrick. The thin masonry facade of the NIZ buildings is certainly a higher grade imitation, but an imitation never the less. Among all the promotion and ballyhoo, occasionally we get a glimpse of truth from the local media. They wonder if there really is enough tenants for all the new offices? They occasionally wonder if there is enough patrons for all the new restaurants? They reveal that Starbucks itself really didn't come to Allentown, but rather J.B. Reilly leased a franchise for Reilly Center, and is running it himself. In a day or two the paper goes back, and refers to the Starbucks opening as a symbol of the NIZ's success. The hospital was going to open their orthopedic center at 7th and Hamilton. Thinking better of that idea, instead they located it at the Westfield building in South Whitehall. Their arena location instead became their fitness center. We now learn that their employees are demanding increased security before they will use the facility. The arena was supposed to have 126 events a year. This year they will be about 100 short. Although the paper refers to the restaurants and shops, there are no shops. People are wondering if they want to pay $2 an hour to park while picking up their cheesesteak, or drink a beer. Reilly can induce the businesses to relocate for the virtual free rent. The unique NIZ tax arrangement has Pennsylvania taxpayers paying for this business illusion. Enjoy the show, you're paying for it.

Jun 25, 2015

WPA Walls, The Problem and Parkway Solution

To propose a solution to the WPA walls and structures, today the blog moves to Union Terrace, now named Joseph Daddona Terrace and Lake. Union Terrace was the last large scale WPA project in Allentown. The double stairwell shown above leads down from St. Elmo Street. A similar, but larger version graces Lehigh Parkway, just beyond where the wall there recently collapsed. We see that the top of the staircase wall at Union Terrace is missing numerous stones and mortar. This condition allows rain and snow to steep down inside the
wall, and force out the wall stones during the winter freeze cycles. I'm sorry to report that this condition has existed now for four years, and my reports to the previous park directors fell on deaf ears. This is the same condition which caused the failure of the parkway wall. It is imperative that the top surfaces of these walls and structures are maintained. The vertical planes of the walls are much more forgiving, if the tops are kept sealed. I've chosen Union Terrace for this post because of the new retaining wall built there last year, as part of the Union Street bridge replacement. In building the new bridge, it was necessary to remove the previous retaining wall along Union Street. The new wall, shown below, is actually a concrete wall, which was faced with actual stone retained from the previous WPA wall. The top of the new wall was then capped with flagstone like cement pieces, hiding the concrete and making many fewer mortar joints. If this wall method was employed in Lehigh Parkway, the replacement wall section would meet today's construction standards, and blend well with the remaining WPA wall.

Jun 24, 2015

Allentown Park And Pawlowski Nonsense

Yesterday, joining Pawlowski and Allentown City Council, bureaucrats and elected officials from all over Pennsylvania erected some playground equipment in Jordan Park. The event was planned over several years, and involved three Allentown Park Directors; The former, the acting and the new. Pawlowski boasted that it gave him an opportunity to showcase Allentown. If he was more accountable and introspective, he would have taken them to Lehigh Parkway, and showed them the legacy lost for future generations. He would have showed them how Allentown mistakenly allowed it's beautiful WPA heritage to literally crumble, while it concentrated on fads and public relations. Yesterday, proved that anybody can assemble a piece of playground equipment from a catalog in less than a day. I wonder if Pawlowski and the other officials, wearing their matching feel good tee-shirts, could have built one of our irreplaceable stone structures. I never expected an elected official to have that skill, but I do expect them to make sure the icons of this city are maintained.

photo by Emily Paine/The Morning Call

Jun 23, 2015

Allentown's Sad Excuse On It's Park Neglect

Allentown's managing director, Francis Dougherty, told the Morning Call that
"This is not an issue of neglect by this administration, the structures have been neglected for decades."
Mr. Dougherty is wrong on both accounts. Both the Daddona and Heydt Administrations responded to my requests for stone pointing on the WPA structures, and it is very much a case of neglect by the Pawlowski Administration. The city has also conceded that it knew that the Parkway wall needed work for at least the last six years. All of this is the good news. The wall was not simply a barrier for the road, rather it was a retaining wall, holding the road up. The wall was constructed when the road was cut down the side of the Little Lehigh ravine, and supports the roadway. I doubt if the roadway can be reopened before the wall is rebuilt. However, the consequences of the neglect and wall failure get even worse. When Don Cunningham was Lehigh County Executive, rather than properly replace the metal bridge by the police academy, he used a pedestrian only bridge. This means that vehicles cannot reach most of the park from the 24th Street entrance. With numerous runs and events still scheduled this summer, participants will have to enter on the narrow twisty single lane road off Vultee Street. Last summer, the traffic was routed several times on the path to Lehigh Parkway North, near Regency Tower. This is not a proper roadway, but rather just a macadamed bridle path, which goes very close to the 1858 historic triple lime kiln. Hopefully, Pawlowski will not further endanger that sensitive area with vehicles.

panoramic photograph from 1936 shows construction of wall and roadway

Jun 22, 2015

Allentown's Lehigh Parkway Pays Price Of Neglect

Early Saturday morning a section of Lehigh Parkway's entrance wall collapsed onto the bridle path below. This was a result of long time, gross neglect. As an advocate for the WPA, I know more about this catastrophe than others. Today and tomorrow, I will chronicle how this happened, and propose a solution to save Allentown's incredible park legacy.

 In 1928, Harry Trexler commissioned a leading American park architect to design Allentown's park system. When Roosevelt announced the WPA as part of the New Deal, Allentown was shovel ready with those plans. Four thousand men labored throughout the citys' parks, mainly between 1935-37, creating the stone icons which made the parks literally a picture postcard.

Since the early 2000's, when Ed Pawlowski first worked as Afflerbach's Community Development Director, not one nickel, nor one moment, has been spent on the WPA structures. Cracks on the top surfaces of the walls were not kept sealed, allowing water and the winter's freeze cycles to loosen the stones. The Park and Recreation Departments were combined, and a series of new directors, with their background in recreation, were preoccupied with playgrounds.

In addition to the administrators, all originally from out of town with no personal history or feeling for the parks, City Council never asserted themselves on this problem. Understand, that I have lobbied and informed everybody on the WPA neglect for the last decade.

The Trexler Trust also has not exerted themselves on this subject, although they are a major contributor to the park department budget. I was informed that they do not specify how their contribution is spent, but we know that they do have influence.
The Morning Call
The media, specifically the Morning Call, has been a mixed bag. Former columnist Paul Carpenter did  a column on my efforts. Former Opinion Page Editor Glenn Kranzley  featured several of my WPA pieces. However, the paper did not publicize or report on my Parkway WPA tours the last couple of summers.

The section of the wall which fell on Saturday was supposed to be repaired four years ago. Funds were already budgeted for that purpose twice already. The original drainage swale, built as part of the wall, was macadamed over years ago. An overflowing storm sewer, which pushes tons of water against the wall, has never been addressed. The wall had endured decades of neglect. It's a testament to it's builders that it defied so much abuse. While I care about replacing the fallen section, my real concern is maintaining the remaining walls. They need some long overdue attention.

ADDENDUM:  Francis Dougherty, the city's managing director, said that the city has been criticized repeatedly for the deterioration of the structures.
"This is not an issue of neglect by this administration," Dougherty said. 
"[The structures} have been neglected for decades."
 From the Morning Call

Mr. Dougherty, the structures have not been neglected for decades,
but what is your point beyond admitting that the Pawlowski 
Administration has done nothing in it's three terms?

Jun 20, 2015

Molovinsky Called It Years Ago

In his post today, LVCI credits my long-standing concern about the Parkway wall and other WPA structures. The wall collapse this morning was catastrophic. A full post to follow on Monday.

Jun 19, 2015

Racism In The Allentown School District

I've posted before about the local Power Northeast group, which has been demonstrating against what they claim is institutional racism in the Allentown School System. At public school meetings they have worn surgical masks, and turned their back on the board members. Recently, at POWER'S request, four board members met with the group. While those members may have attended the meeting as a responsive and conciliatory gesture towards the groups' concerns, Scott Armstrong is upset that in doing so, they have validated a very negative agenda. We all know that racism is all too real. The horrific shootings in Charleston this week remind us that racial sickness abounds. It is, however, necessary for students to know that their teachers and school support their success. The meeting produced a document which states that systemic racism must be addressed in the school district. It goes further, and states that this racism is the cause of low test scores and the high drop out rates. I don't believe that this is true, but worse, it discourages, rather than encourages, the students. Many of the students live in poverty, and some come from dysfunctional families. These are difficult circumstances for any student to overcome. But, to convey the message that the deck is stacked against them, even in the sanctuary of their school, is a disservice.

Jun 18, 2015

They Shoot Landlords, Don't They

When I ran as a long-shot independent for mayor in 2005, against Ed Pawlowski and Bill Heydt,  the first thing I did was take The  Morning Call reporter on a tour of the properties that I managed.  As an intercity landlord, operating apartments between 4th and 12th, Walnut and Tilghman Streets,  I knew that the rentals would become  Allentown's biggest problem.  After the WW2,  it became fashionable to live in a twin or small ranch, and Allentown's row houses began being divided into apartments.  Those apartments were mostly occupied by singles or childless couples, and helped keep downtown and Hamilton Street vital, long past many of it's sister cities.  In the 1960's, despite the thousands of converted apartments,  center city was clean, and Allentown was the All American City.  Both the tenants and landlords were hard working and conscientious.  As the urban poor from New York and New Jersey discovered the clean streets of Allentown, and it's moderately priced apartments,  a steady influx of new residents arrived daily.  These changes were not encouraged by the landlords.  Nobody ever purchased a building hoping to replace their conscientious middle class occupants, with a poorer, more problematic tenant base.  Various social agencies staked many of these newcomers to the first month rent and security deposits.  Although politically incorrect, I said at the time that Allentown was creating a poverty magnet.  My phrase and analysis back then is now recognized as an unintended consequence of such programs.  During Heydt's administration, Allentown passed a Rental Inspection Law.  Some viewed  this as the solution to the rental problem, I didn't fully agree;  You cannot legislate pride of ownership. Bad operators could, and easily did, cross the T's and dot the i's.  Pawlowski's solution has been to tag buildings as unfit for habitation, so many,  that the process itself has created blight.  Halls of Shame, either by the city or private groups, only stigmatize both the property and owner, but don't produce a solution.  The programs in place, if applied with more flexibility, can work.  The school district is starting to show concern about the consequences of more apartments and students.  Recent zoning changes allowing the conversion of commercial space by right, rather than by variance, could well add to the problem.  At the end of the day,  all landlords want to see their investment appreciate.  The city must learn to work with that basic incentive as a vehicle for change.

UPDATE:  The post above is reprinted from my archives.  I believe that my background enabled me to write a  concise, accurate synopsis of Allentown's downtown housing situation. Today, we learn that Reilly's City Center and other employers and stakeholders in the NIZ are offering $10,000 incentives for their employees to buy houses in center city. I believe that if the plan is properly administered, it can be a useful tool for Allentown.

Jun 17, 2015

Reillytown Reinvents The NIZ

Today's Morning Call is dominated by Reilly's plan to own the entire 700 square block of Hamilton Street. Buried within the article are new interpretations of the NIZ, which has always been nothing but a pliable work of opportunity for Reilly. Conveniently placed after the jump to the paper's last page, we learn that Reilly is increasing his NIZ backed credit line from $185 million to $320 million. We also learn that this new project will be built on taxpayer backed speculation. The paper once again presents his press releases as facts. The apartment portion of the project has been moved from Walnut Street to 8th and Hamilton, supposedly to avoid infringing on the residential neighborhood south of Walnut. Let me translate; The apartments have been moved to avoid and segregate the new sought yuppies from the existing low income population. Let me clarify that I don't think that these projects are bad for Allentown. There clearly has been a stagnation in center city for many years. However, as a long time independent observer of Allentown, no person or project deserves wholesale promotion, with no scrutiny.

illustration from The Morning Call

Allentown's WPA Bounty

When the WPA started in 1935, Allentown was in a unique position to benefit. In 1929 the city decided to expand it's park system, and acquired hundreds of acres for that purpose. We had both the space and the unemployed needing the work. A project was built in almost every park in Allentown; Cedar, Irving, Union Terrace, Lehigh Parkway, Jordan, and of course, Fountain Park. The stairwells leading from Lawrence Street (now Martin Luther King Drive) up to Union Street (Junction Street) and next up to Spring Garden Street became essential several years later. Hundreds of men would use them every day as Mack Truck turned their production to the War effort. As well built as the stone structures were, they are now over 75 years old. Steps are missing on the Grand Stairway, columns are being undermined at Union Terrace, and these monuments of our past need attention. Although they are beautiful, irreplaceable, and the icons of our parks, they are not a priority for the current Administration and Park Department.

reprinted from February of 2012

Jun 16, 2015

Allentown Crime Down, So Is Credibility

According to Pawlowski and his chief, crime is down in Allentown. If you have any doubts, they produced a 53 page report, complete with statistics and graphs. The report will be an annual production. I do remember the other week when the chief's son was on trial, there was at least four shootings. The report doesn't lower Pawlowski's and Fitzgerald's credibility with me, they didn't have that much. But, the media seems to have some doubts. The Morning Call placed the story on page 7, and writes according to the mayor and police chief. To me, according reflects doubt. That's the very word I used to start this post. Someone should tell Pawlowski and Fitzgerald that there just has been way too many shootings and stabbings for their first annual report to have any meaning.

Jun 15, 2015

Allentown's Lyme Disease Party For Children

Allentown's new park director, following the lead of her predecessors, is closing rather than repairing swimming pools. Worse yet, she is allowing the Wildlands Conservancy to again dictate stream bank policy. Once again, the streams will be blocked from view and access by a uncut swath of weeds and underbrush. Apparently, she took the Wildlands Orientation Course, because this year the barrier is wider than ever. In reality, this is a terrible attractive nuisance for children and pets. They want to see and experience the stream, and will navigate their way through the tick infested mess. In the past, we could count on the Trexler Trust and city fathers to safeguard the traditions of the park system. Those values, like Fountain Park and Cedar Beach Pools, are closed for the season.

Jun 12, 2015

O'Hare To Be Flogged

Taking a lead from Saudi Arabia, Northampton County Executive is planning on having Blogger Bernard O'Hare publicly flogged in Nazareth. Preliminary reports indicate that the local police chief has volunteered to administer the lashes. Full details to follow as they become available.

The Butchers Of Allentown

Those coming here today looking for a story about sloppy civic leadership will be disappointed. This post is literally about butchers, more specifically, some butchers at Allentown Meat Packing Company. A few days ago, while at the Fairground's Farmers Market, I learned that Bobby had passed away. Bobby was the "kid" who worked at my father's meat market on Union Street. Bobby grew up in an orphanage, a hardship which my father respected. One meat cutter that I knew nothing about was Lamont, other than he lived at the WestEnd Hotel. He was a bear of a man, who could carry a beef quarter from the cooler with no effort. I never saw Lamont in the market portion of the shop, he always remained in the back, either in the large cooler or the adjoining cutting room. While my father insisted that people working on the counter change their meat coat and apron several times during the day, no such rule was imposed upon Lamont. Although he would look over the trays of meat before being taken out to the display cases, he never spoke. Last time I spoke to Bobby, he told me that he appreciated that my father had taught him a trade, which he used throughout his life.

reprinted from February of 2014

Jun 11, 2015

Jordan Heights

In 1903, the 600 block of 2nd Street housed one Russian Jewish family after another. They built a small synagogue there, which was kept open till about ten years ago. My grandfather, who then worked at a cigar factory, had just saved enough to bring his parents over from the old country. They lived in an old house at 617 N. 2nd. The current house at that location was built in 1920. By the time my father was born in 1917, the youngest of five children, they had moved to the suburbs just across the Jordan Creek.

My grandfather lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets. He butchered in a barn behind the house. The house is still there, 301 Jordan, the barn is gone. He would deliver the meat with a horse and wagon. On the weekends, when the family wanted to visit friends, the horse insisted on doing the meat market route first. Only after he stopped in front of the last market on the route, would he permit my grandfather to direct him. excerpt from My grandfather's Horse, May 13, 2008
Allentown has just designated the neighborhood west of the Jordan to 7th Street, and between Linden and Tilghman Streets, as Jordan Heights. The area encompasses the Old Fairgrounds Historic District. Allentown's old fairground, in the years between 1852-1888, was in the vicinity of 6th and Liberty. It was an open space, as is the current fairground at 17th and Chew Streets. When my grandparents moved to Jordan Street it was a modern house, just built in 1895. Many of the Jewish families moved to the suburbs between Jordan and 7th. The Jewish Community Center was built on the corner of 6th and Chew, today known as Alliance Hall.
I wish the Jordan Heights initiative well. There's a lot of history in those 24 square blocks, and hopefully much future.

reprinted from June of 2010

Jun 10, 2015

Allentown Rubber Stamping Even Stuns Local Newspaper

Nobody has ever accused The Morning Call of being analytical about the NIZ. To the contrary, I've accused them of blind cheerleading and outright promotion in their articles about the Renaissance. However, even they found the recent Allentown Planning Commission meeting lacking in scrutiny. The meeting pertained to maintaining a warehouse on the waterfront parcel, to take advantage of the  cigarette tax loophole.
Planning commissioners asked developers almost no questions before unanimously approving the proposal, but Chairman Oldrich Foucek III questioned whether the operation, which would have one to two tractor trailer deliveries daily, would have any impact on the health and safety of the community.
Jaindl's attorney answered "No, it won't adversely effect anybody's health or safety, and here's a puppy biscuit for your good question."

Jun 9, 2015

Fading Park Postcards Of Allentown

While Allentown continues it's efforts to establish a dog park, the parks themselves are going to the dogs. Take an aging park system, combine it with an administration composed of people from out of town with no institutional memory of the city, and the the famous images of Allentown are disappearing . This year the dogs got more time in Cedar Beach Pool than the residents. Cedar Beach is closed for the season; Of course, that's what they said when Fountain Pool first closed. The stone stairwell, going down into Union Terrace off St. Elmo Street, is crumbling. The park is now called Joseph S. Daddona Lake and Terrace. With Cedar Pool closed, Irving Park, with the first pool in the city, will be renamed Andre Reed Park. One stone staircase in that park was removed several years ago, rather than repaired. It won't be too long before people look at an old park postcard, and wonder where that picture was taken.

Jun 8, 2015

Allentown's Success Based On Smoke And Dummies

J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper have purchased a cigarette distributorship and moved the business address to their 702 Hamilton Street address. This maneuver allows their company, City Center Own Allentown, to use the $1.60 per pack Pennsylvania cigarette tax toward the debt service on their growing empire. Perhaps this was the conflict of interest which propelled Reilly to resign his position on the hospital board. One would like to think that tobacco taxes are used for health care, not private enrichment.

UPDATE: The above is reprinted from February of 2012. The cigarette loophole proved enormously lucrative.  Instead of relying on employee taxes poached from other places in Lehigh Valley, the NIZ barons could now build more and more buildings, funded by smokers everywhere.  While originally building just for the poached businesses, it allowed the barons to start building on speculation.  The Jaindl Company,  now following that successful game plan, is also purchasing a cigarette wholesaler.  This means that instead of tenants waiting for completion,  we will have new empty buildings waiting for tenants.  It gets much worse if we use a moral compass.  The cigarette taxes had been used to fund CHIP,  children's health insurance, and other health related programs. A large portion of those funds now go to finance these privately owned real estate empires.  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? In the last election for state representatives, seven of the eleven incumbents were unopposed.  They are, to a person, inept and complacent.  Of course, the dirt dumb voters also deserve credit.

Jun 4, 2015

Blogging Lite

I saw this picture this morning on the page of a facebook friend. In real life we don't even know each other. The strawberries were meant to be nothing more than strawberries. Another friend asked where he got them, and the poster gave the address of the fruit stand. I thought how much more relaxing that would be, instead of writing that the mayor should fire the police chief, for being involved in unnecessary tension between different police agencies. I also think that it would be more relaxing to just give directions to farm stands, rather than receiving antagonistic anonymous comments all day. I probably won't turn into a food or puff blogger, it's not my nature, but here's one portion anyway.

Pawlowski Double Downs On Fitzgerald

Pawlowski has put on the happy face by linking on facebook to articles proclaiming Junior Fitzgeralds' not guilty decision, but he knows the situation is far from innocent. Even the most avid supporters I know were disappointed when they found out that the Fitzgerald family turned down the ARD offered by Martin. They believed that the family was defending Juniors' future, so he would  be able to follow his parents footsteps in law enforcement. The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program would have allowed that, by expunging the arrest record. The Fitzgeralds declined, because Junior would have to admit that he pointed a gun and apologize to the detectives. Supposedly, he was a model suspect because he did apologize while in custody. Handcuffed to a wall in the Whitehall Township police station, Christopher Fitzgerald apologized for pulling a gun on two detectives and insisted he only did so because he was scared. The Morning Call, May 29, 2015. Another condition of the ARD was that their attorney, Jack McMahon, would have to retract his assertion of racial profiling. Even though McMahon was willing to do that, and recommended accepting the ARD program, the Fitzgeralds declined on principle. So, the chief and his family had an opportunity to avoid the trial, avoid the insinuation of racial profiling, and most importantly, avoid the tension with fellow law enforcement, but chose not to. Pawlowski can double down with facebook, but lets hope he's not really proud. The credibility of law enforcement was eroded by a man that we brought here, and are paying to defend it. Although those who defended the Fitgeralds,  before knowledge of the ARD offer became public, are privately disappointed, you won't hear them admit it. It's too politically incorrect, they would rather double down.

Jun 3, 2015

Stairway To Shame

In the mid 1930's, Allentown, and especially it's park system, was endowed with magnificent stone edifices, courtesy of the WPA; Works Progress Administration. This was a New Deal program designed to provide employment during the aftermath of the depression. Stone masons from all over the country converged on this city and built structures which are irreplaceable. The walls and step structures in Lehigh Parkway, as the Union Terrace amphitheater, are legacies which must be protected. Pictured above is the grand stairway from Lawrence Street (Martin Luther King Drive) up to Union Street, built in 1936. The steps are in a state of disrepair. They lead to the great Union Street Retaining Wall, twenty five feet high and two blocks long, which was completed in 1937. I call upon the Trexler Trust and Allentonians of memory, to insist that these steps are re-pointed and preserved. The current Administration knows nothing of our past, and really has no commitment to our future. Save the things in Allentown that matter.
reprinted from September 2008

UPDATE JUNE 2015:It's seven years later, and I'd like to say there has been some progress, but it hasn't happen. While Pawlowski is on his third term as mayor, we're on our third park director, and not one $dollar has been spent on one WPA project, in all these years. Actually, the state of our historic structures has significantly declined. An indifferent administration allowed The Wildlands Conservancy to demolish the scenic Robin Hood Dam, which was only ten inches high, and was the companion piece to the Robin Hood Bridge. Built in 1941, it was the last WPA structure completed in Allentown. Union Terrace, which was the last large scale WPA project, built in 1937, is rapidly deteriorating. While the park department concentrates on playgrounds and parking lots, it's losing the stone structures which make the park system iconic. They will never be able to be replaced.

Jun 2, 2015

Model Suspect Exonerated

Up to last week, I had never heard the term model used for a suspect. But model suspect was the term a Whitehall police officer used to describe Christopher Fitzgerald, because he was polite, compliant and even cried. His high priced, melodramatic defense attorney, also put on a first rate performance. In a passionate — and loud — crescendo to his closing speech, he implored the jury to find Fitzgerald not guilty, so that he could continue his career path of becoming a police officer like both his parents."Do not put an end to the dreams of this young man today,"  So, young Fitzgerald joins the OJ Club.

If you're ever behind someone who stops his car and jumps out with a Glock, fear not, that's a model suspect. In a few years, if you're stopped by a cop,  who is holding a Glock and crying, fear not.

ADDENDUM: Ed Pawlowski had doubled down on his support for police chief Fritgerald by posting the Morning Call article link on his facebook page. Ed, junior wasn't innocent, he just wasn't convicted.

Jun 1, 2015

Allentown School Board, Witness To Slander

I have heard that lately Allentown School Board meetings have become quite ugly. Members of Power Northeast, wear masks and turn their backs to the school board, demonstrating against what they describe as toxicity and condoned racism in the district. The Resurrected Life Community Church, led by Rev. Gregory Edwards, has become aligned with this movement. They believe that the district has turned into a pipeline to prison. They believe that they have to push back to push forward. Many of their grievances are aimed directly at district superintendent Russ Mayo, actually describing him as guilty of sweeping problems under the rug. While the school board mostly listens silently to these accusations, Scott Armstrong responds.
At last night’s school board meeting a group of protestors made slanderous accusations against the district’s superintendent. I know those remarks had to hurt him deeply. He is a man who has dedicated his life to public education, and he is in the field and at the helm of the ASD for all the right reasons. No one is perfect, there is always room for improvement and solutions can be found. However, those who cast the accusations should understand the road to understanding is not paved by slurs. I chose to speak out against the slander, for the only thing worse than the insults is the silence of those who know the charges are false.    Scott Armstrong
I believe that Jude-Laure Denis, leader of Allentown's Power Northeast, and Rev. Edwards, would be better to continue working on the real issues, rather than scapegoat the district and particularly the superintendent. Although architecturally we look like just a large town, demographically, we have the issues of any large urban city. Allentown is mired in poverty, and those problems which often present themselves in the home life of the students. These problems are shared by all urban areas. The church has embraced and established their RLife programs of pre-school and learning summer camp. These are the types of actions that have meaningful results. The Allentown School District has concerned administrators and caring teachers, what it needs is partnering parents and community.

ADDENDUM: I have decided to link to a YouTube of part of the school board meeting. Addressing the  board is Pastor Paul Patrick.  Although he cites bible passages, I find his berating less than spiritual.

May 29, 2015

Weekly Shooting Map In Allentown

Readers of molovinsky on allentown know that I normally don't publish a police blotter, preferring to concentrate on our white collar criminals. One can only wonder what effect a half dozen shootings, on the Gateway to Allentown, has on the Renaissance. While the administration touts another new restaurant in the NIZ, the residents of Allentown cower inside their apartments. Our police chief, recruited by national search consultants, except for defending his son, has been invisible and apparently ineffectual. Ed Pawlowski's campaign to become a senator has garnered no enthusiasm, perhaps he should concentrate on being a mayor.

May 28, 2015

Trial In Mayberry

For famed criminal attorney Jack McMahon, who travels the country "looking forward" to tough murder cases, this must seem like a week in Mayberry. Called Fire and Brimstone by fellow attorneys in Philadelphia, discrediting a couple of Lehigh County detectives, to acquit his client, is child's play for him. This is the same attorney who only a few years ago got Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor in Philadelphia, acquitted of most charges. As is his style, he has successfully defended the police chief's son with the media, outside the courtroom. Yesterdays Morning Call headline called the defendant "a good kid." Aren't we glad that Pawlowski hired a national search consultant to bring this chief and his family to Allentown?

ADDENDUM: According to Morning Call reports, Judge Banach had to reprimand the chief for having uniformed officers come into the court room to shake his hand.  Cheesy lawyer orchestrated theatrics, by the self serving chief.

May 27, 2015

Allentown Needs A New Police Chief

The high price Philadelphia lawyer is telling the media that the police chief's son would never pull a gun on a cop. Well, actually, he did, that's why he's on trial. The cops were undercover, and the defense is saying that he didn't point the gun at them, he only displayed it, because he felt threatened. I don't know if the defendant really felt threatened, but the detectives did, and drove in reverse to get out of harm's way. The father, between the lines, suggested that perhaps his son is actually the victim of racial profiling. If Allentown needed a national search to find a police chief was questionable. If Allentown needed to import a former Philadelphia cop from Texas is questionable. If we need a police chief defending his son's aggression with the race card is not questionable.
photo from The Morning Call

 UPDATE: "He is not some thug, not some bum," McMahon said. "He is a man of character, a man of integrity, a man of honesty Thus spoke the expensive Philadelphia criminal lawyer today about his client.  However, the defense is mostly referencing the father's supposed character, as if the son must have the same traits.

May 26, 2015

Why Allentown's Monster Eats Its Young

Pawlowski has ordered the Allentown Parking Authority, whose street cleaning revenues were down in 2014, to pony up with more money for the city in 2015. To help meet this demand, the meter rates have been doubled, and the enforcement period extended to 10:00 pm. The Parking Authority, with the knowledge and approval of both the administration and City Council, fabricated a merchant survey endorsing the increase.
As reported to date...guests at the Allentown Brew Works have received parking tickets as late as 9:30pm. Someone is obviously checking meters late at night now. There are no "Arena Nights" at this time of year. There are a few concerts scheduled over the next few months.      Rich Fegley, co-owner Allentown BrewWorks
One would think that a city with a $billion dollars of new development would not have to resort to such tom foolery. One would think that a city, which only two years ago touted leasing its water system as the financial silver bullet, would not have to sabotage its own merchants with punitive parking rates.

thoughts from Rich Fegley and Michael Donovan were gleaned for this post.

May 25, 2015

A Tailor From North Street

The Allentown Housing and Development Corp. recently purchased a home at 421 North St. That block of North Street was destroyed by fire, and the agency has built a block of new houses on the street's south side; it will next develop the other side of the street. The deed transfer caught my attention because Morris Wolf lived in the house in 1903. Wolf signed up with the Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry on July 18, 1861, in Philadelphia, when he was 22 years old. He was a private in Company A, of the 3rd Cavalry. This unit was also known as the 60th Regiment and was later called Young's Kentucky Light Cavalry.It defended Washington, D.C., until March 1862, then participated in many of the war's most famous battles: Williamsburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Wolf had signed up for three years and was mustered out Aug. 24,1864.

Recently, to commemorate Memorial Day, the local veterans group placed more than 500 flags at Fairview Cemetery. If that wasn't enough of a good deed, the group also set upright more than 300 toppled grave markers. Visiting Fairview recently, I saw they had not overlooked the graves of either Mr. Wolf, or another veteran, Joseph Levine. I have concerned myself with Allentown's Fairview Cemetery for the last few years. I first became interested in the small Jewish section, called Mt. Sinai. This was the first organized Jewish cemetery in Allentown. Currently, all the synagogues have their own cemeteries, and Mt. Sinai has been mostly unused for many decades.

Mr. Wolf lies next to his wife, Julia, who died in 1907. Morris would live on for 30 more years, passing away in 1937, at age 98.
Mr. Levine, a World War II veteran, and his wife, Ethel, were the first and last people to be buried there after almost 25 years of inactivity. When Ethel died at age 93 in 2000, it was the first burial at Mt. Sinai since 1976. Joseph was 103 years old when he passed away in 2006.

The Housing and Development Corp. and North Street are now part of Allentown's new neighborhood initiative called Jordan Heights.Although soon there will be a new house at 421 North St., there is a history that will remain with the parcel. Once a tailor lived there who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.

reprinted from 2011

May 22, 2015

The Allentown Parking Authority Monster

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

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

UPDATE Memorial Day Weekend 2015: I did end up asking several merchants, and no, they were not surveyed. Eight years from the original date of this post, and the Authority is still up to the same shenanigans.   Reilly's City Center tenants, merchants and customers will get a free pass for the Authority's inconvenient parking lots. Other existing tenants in the NIZ, such as the south side of the 900 block of Walnut Street, will not be eligible for residential parking permits.  Pawlowski's Parking Authority Board Member yes-woman, Candida Afif, is now going to City Council. If you have a problem with any of this, remember, you must now put money in the meter at night, before  complaining to City Council.

May 21, 2015

A Message For Allentown's Pawlowski

I would think that Tuesday's election results may give some pause to Ed Pawlowski's hopes to be a senator. Despite a virtual snow storm of mailers with his endorsement, including both a picture of him and his message of a Renaissance, a quarter to a third of his candidates lost. In terms of his popularity beyond Allentown, his candidate in Whitehall lost; You don't get much closer to Allentown than that. Besides giving Pawlowski pause, his campaign and media manager, Mike Fleck, might need some introspection. The two top vote getters for the school board, Gerlach and Bob Smith, not part of the Pawlowski PAC, were outspent by Fleck tenfold. Even Armstrong, targeted by a separate scare mailer, survived the primary. Here in Allentown, where money was no object for the Pawlowski machine, if he couldn't hit a grandslam, his prospects statewide seem dim. Poor guy might have to settle for being Mayor For Life.

ADDENDUM: I opened today's Morning Call and discovered that reporter Emily Opilo and I were on the same page; We made the same points and used the same examples. Least anyone think I had seen her article prior to posting the above, I must now go one step further. Yesterday, I mentioned to Jeff Glazier, Pawlowski's big winner Tuesday night, that I thought Pawlowski failed by not hitting a grandslam. He thought that winning most of seats was a victory. Maybe Joe Davis would agree with me.

May 20, 2015

Bucking The Pawlowski Machine

Despite Pawlowski's PAC, and it spending $50,000 with a professional staff, CeCe Gerlach dominated the school board race yesterday. She came in first on the Democratic side, second on the Republican ticket, for almost one third more votes than Robert Smith, the second highest vote getter. Both CeCe and Robert Smith were independent of the PAC, Citizens for a Better Allentown. School Board candidates are allowed to cross register with both parties, leaving a total field of 7 candidates for the five slots come November. PAC candidates Charlie Thiel, Elizabeth Martinez and Audrey Mathison will also be on November's ballot, with Thiel being the third highest combined vote getter last night. Also moving forward to the general election are Mark Smith and Scott Armstrong.

CeCe ended her long day yesterday working the poll and phone at West Park. Overall, she had fielded about 60 workers, covering every one of the city's polling stations. Mark Smith also ran an organized campaign, his first foray into elected politics. Scott Armstrong, much to the chagrin of the Teacher's Union, Pawlowski's PAC and card carrying liberals, didn't campaign whatsoever.

May 19, 2015

Say Moo and Vote Pawlowski's PAC

Here in Reillytown, you don't even have to think to vote. Mayor For Life Pawlowski, unless he can get elected to something in Harrisburg or Washington, tells you who to vote for. The Morning Call gets you in the mood this morning by printing two stories glorifying the Renaissance. Women's merchant Sage is moving back to Allentown from the Promenade. They don't tell you that the owners are pushing 70, and looking to wind down their obligations. Second story is about more apartments coming to an old factory at 3th and Gordon. They don't tell you that the developer is cramming in 158 one room studios, which in reality are glorified motel rooms for single mothers and their children. Say moo, while Pawlowski milks your vote.

May 18, 2015

Saving Allentown From Right Wing Extremists

One by one, the oversized slick cards from the Pawlowski Political Machine, Citizens for a Better Allentown, reached the voter's mailboxes. They were sent to all voters, regardless of party affiliation. Each card, separately promoting a candidate for Allentown School Board, also had Pawlowski's picture and message, "We are committed to Allentown's progress. Over the last few years we have achieved so much, safer communities, job creation, and community development. Working together we can continue moving Allentown forward." While Pawlowski tries to associate his chosen slate to J.B. Reilly's new buildings, those living in his Dreamtown know that the community is no safer. If he were more honest, he would have said, "We are committed to now completely dominating Allentown's politics."

The four cards were followed by a fifth, picturing and promoting all four candidates. While the card stated that they would restore fiscal responsibility, the two candidates running for re-election, Martinez and Thiel, grandstanded by voting to hire back 20% more teachers than budgeted for.

If those five mailings were not enough, the sixth was a scare and hit piece against some incumbents. 4 years ago, we were fooled into electing right-wing extremists to the Allentown School Board. Our school board needs true-blue Democrats. The card concludes by saying that our schools should never be used as a political tool... Unless Pawlowski is holding the screw driver.

May 15, 2015

Pandering Politicians And The Pawlowski Effect

The Morning Call reports that last night school board members running for re-election gave the voters more than they expected, or perhaps can really afford. The candidates voted for both a zero tax hike, and adding more positions than sought by the school administration. Also running, but certainly not pandering, Scott Armstrong addresses the decision by his fellow board members.

Pandering politicians and the Pawlowski effect

At tonight’s ASD board meeting politics was on full display. Directors who never saw a tax hike they didn’t like ignored the administration’s recommendation for a 3.6% increase and embraced with full vigor a zero tax increase for next year’s budget. Then with total abandon they engaged in bidding war on how many positions to restore until finally agreeing on the number of 30. So after four years of a fiscal crisis that involved tax increases of $500.00 on the average household and staff reductions of over 20% just to balance budgets, tonight, four days before a primary, prudence was put aside. This evening priorities were more personal. To get their names in the paper as advocates for the taxpayers and the children these directors took the leap of faith that zero tax increases and 30 new hires will not put the ASD right back into the dire position that previous responsible choices had just extricated the district from. In short it was a very depressing night. Can one draw from this that the mayor’s influence is not already being felt ?

Scott Armstrong

May 14, 2015

A Pawlowski School Board Will Have Consequences

Taxpayers should know that a School Board, cherry picked by Ed Pawlowski, will have dire consequences. Presently, he has endorsed a plan to convert a former large factory into 158 apartment. Although the developer states that most will be studio apartments that discourage children, the real market speaks differently. In the real market, studios are less rent, and attract an endless stream of single mothers with children. Allentown has no shortage of that demographic, and the school district suffers from poverty and under parenting. Two years ago, another developer approached the school board seeking a tax free KOZ status, actively represented by the Pawlowski Administration. Those apartments would have resulted in more students with a smaller tax base. The School Board wisely turned down the proposal. What will happen when Pawlowski's Puppets dominate the board? They will be able to approve Pawlowski promoted projects, while separating Pawlowski from the taxpayer cost involved. Mayors always tell you that they have no control over school taxes. The voters would be wise to keep that disclaimer a reality.

May 13, 2015

Zimmerman's Battle With The School Administration

While twelve people battle to get, or stay on, the Allentown School Board, Director David Zimmerman, who isn't up for re-election this term, battles within the school administration. Zimmerman is a statistician and numbers guy, who doesn't abide by the Administrations use of arbitrary figures. Originally disturbed by discrepancies between the preliminary and adopted budget, his frustrations have only grown with the administration's dismissive attitude toward his inquires. He actually filed a Right To Know request with the district, which was denied. In addition to his concerns about the budget, whose fund balance has fluctuated as much as $12 million under different reports, he wants solid revenue projections from redeveloped NIZ parcels. He cannot in good conscience approach a tax increase without knowing how much money is on hand, or how much increased property tax revenue The Pawlowski and Reilly Company Renaissance, is actually producing.

  My concern over these issues arises out of my interpretation of the responsibility imposed upon me by my elected position to fairly and accurately represent the interests of the tax payers and students of the ASD.
David Zimmerman
Allentown School Board

May 12, 2015

Pawlowski Buys Democracy In Allentown

Pawlowski's PAC, Citizens For A Better Allentown, according to pre Primary filings, has raised over $63,000, and spent $43,000 thus far subverting democracy in Allentown. Allentown voters are having their mail boxes filled this week with oversized mailers, promoting Pawlowski's candidates of choice. Most of the contributions are cloaked in separate candidate reports, not yet analyzed by our Harrisburg staff. For instance, Citizens For A Better Allentown received a contribution from Friends of Ed Pawlowski for $23,000, and $10,000 from Friends Of Charlie Thiel. Direct contributions of note include local labor unions for $8,000, and Abe Atiyeh for $2,500. Friends of Schlossberg and Schweyer, combined, contributed $3,500. Please understand that all these Friends Of, are no real friends of democracy in Allentown.

May 11, 2015

School Director Questions Pawlowski's Slate

School Board member Mike Welsh, not up for re-election this year, feels that the candidates not compromised by Pawlowski's PAC money, could best guide the school district.

This year’s Allentown school board race features a large field of candidates and I for one couldn’t be happier that so many have expressed interest and put themselves forward for consideration. Eight candidates have chosen to run independently while 4 have chosen to compete as a slate with the endorsement and fundraising efforts of Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

The Allentown School District has faced many difficult challenges the last few years and I believe better days could be on the horizon. Thanks to real fiscal discipline by our board and the administration of the school district, we are positioned to eliminate the need for layoffs in the coming year and will be offering full day kindergarten in even more of our schools. In the ensuing weeks there will be discussions regarding the possibility of restoring programs previously eliminated in cost savings initiatives by the district, with priorities put on the restoration of arts and music programs, library and physical education. These will be just discussions, however, and it will be important to remember that in possibly rehiring staff in these areas we must we prudent as we do not want to face the challenges of laying staff off again because of rash decisions this year.

Regrettably, while many of us see prospects for a better financial horizon for the school district, Allentown’s economic realities will continue to weigh on our children for years to come. Despite the renaissance that is happening downtown, many of our children live in poverty as demonstrated by the fact that 88% of students receive subsidized breakfast and lunch. Many of our children come from broken and/or disruptive homes and enter school without a basic knowledge of colors and numbers. These are the children we are charged to educate, and the teachers, administrators, and the board itself have maintained a commitment to providing the best education possible under these difficult circumstances. In this election, I want to encourage voters to consider candidates who have a proven track record of fiscal prudence and will be independent in their voting. I am pleased that 8 of our candidates have chosen to seek office independent of any slate out of a concern that those within a slate may be compromised in their voting as a result of monies provided in funding their candidacy. While this may be the standard in most political races, I believe it inappropriate in a school board race.

In my short time on the board I have come to respect the professionals and many volunteers of the Allentown School District. I am humbled by their dedication to the mission of public education. Let there be no doubt that from top to bottom the people of the Allentown School District are here for the right reasons and could make more money in less stressful environments in surrounding wealthier districts. With their continued dedication, and with continued financial progress, I believe there can be better times ahead for the Allentown School District and the children and families it serves.
Mike Welsh 
Allentown School Board Director

May 9, 2015

Allentown School Directors In Dark About Assault

A decade after a student on student indecent assault at Central Elementary School, this past week news broke that another alleged assault occurred at Jefferson Elementary, and parents are again suing the school district. Although I had no intention about posting on this incident, today I received a pertinent comment from a school board member on the lack of communication, between the administration and board members. The comment was submitted to another post, but I made an editorial decision to run it as a separate post.

On Wednesday the board received an email concerning the incident referred to. I know nothing about this event since it seems it did not filter down, to at least this board member, when it occurred. I cannot comment on it. I can comment on ASD administration communications. Often information seems not to make it to the board and when it does, well there is always some logical reason why these issues are never the fault or responsibility of the ASD administration, a statistical impossibility. Personally I find the level of communication and the ability to get information from the administration sadly and woefully inadequate, as a board member and as a parent. Adjust your expectations and be realistic about transparency coming from the ASD administration. At least, to me, they seem to ascribe to the theory legal liability trumps truthfulness. As co-chair of the finance and budget committee they will not discuss $3 million in revenue projections for the current year's budget that never materialized or how they conjure up their doom and gloom projections of the imminent dire depletion of the fund balance of the ASD that has not materialized as well. Maybe they think if they keep silent long enough it will all go away.

David Fehr Zimmerman

May 8, 2015

As Allentown Turns

Allentown's greatly touted NIZ should be named the ROA, Reilly Owns Allentown. While his state house boy recovers in the hospital, and his home boy tries to become a senator, J.B. Reilly said Let There Be Stores. These stores were duly announced this week by the local paper and TV, which will promote them as they open. As he did with the restaurants, J.B. will hand out special J.B. currency to the new office workers, which can be used in the stores. The Plywood Plaza Apartments for the workers, at 7th and Linden, will be completed this fall. The idea of company housing and stores isn't new, cement companies and mines did it back in the early 1900's.

While trying to escape Allentown, first to Harrisburg and now to Washington, Mayor For Life Pawlowski tells us who to elect to City Council and the school board. Meanwhile, the streets beyond the Reilly District are potholed and dirty. Existing residents are being double ding donged at the parking meters. The WPA structures in our parks are crumbling away. Don't despair, buy a ticket for the Classic Geriatric Concert Series at the J.B. Reilly Arena, and enjoy a night out.

May 7, 2015

Courting The Allentown Teachers

Back in my fathers day, students gave the teacher an apple to get in their good graces. In current Allentown, the teachers are courted by the school board candidates, who hope to get into the good graces and recommendation of their teacher's union. One teacher forwarded me this email from Charlie Thiel, which was sent through official school channels.
To All Teachers in the Allentown School District, Thank you for all that you do to change the lives of our students. By creating an attitude of lifelong learning for our students, you are profoundly impacting their lives. I am sure there are some days (perhaps more than you would like to admit) that you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Rest assured that you are changing the lives of young people every day. Do you remember the first time you helped a student have a revelation, where the lightbulb went on? Maybe they finally learned to tie their shoes, or they were able to solve an algebraic problem, or even understand Shakespeare…or you provided a snack when they had not eaten for the last day. The needs of our students are great. But our teachers are greater! Thank you for heeding the calling on your life and choosing the Allentown School District and our students. Happy Teachers Appreciation Week!
Charlie Thiel      School Board Director

 The image below by candidate Mark Smith appears on facebook
Once upon a time, school board candidates appealed to the public and parents, for an opportunity to speak for them on how the school district should be run. Now, it appears that some candidates are appealing directly to the teachers, who are already well represented by their strong union.

ADDENDUM: Mark Smith feels that this post mischaracterized his intent. His reply is contained within the comment section.

ADDENDUM 2: I'm closing comments on this post. Please direct any additional comments on the school board election to the newer school board post,  Allentown School Directors In Dark

May 6, 2015

The $66 Million Dollar Dinner

Yesterday, a couple from Slatington told me that they went to the Allentown Art Museum during the afternoon on Sunday, then walked up to the Hamilton Kitchen, where they ate outside on the terrace. Except for the traffic noise on 7th Street, they had an enjoyable experience, and think that Allentown has changed for the better. Then, he asked what I thought. I told him that his meal cost the taxpayers of Pennsylvania about $66 million last year, most of which was going to the debt service of one private individual. Never the less, he enjoyed his day, and I have heard this story from different people, numerous times. Most people really don't care what the new experience cost, or who is paying for it, or who owns it. Of course, most people don't care how poorly this state is run, and keep electing the same officials, election after election. Then, there are some people who concern themselves with such matters, welcome to molovinsky on allentown.

May 5, 2015

Gilding The Lily, The Allentown Arena

This past Sunday was a usual weekend for The Morning Call, gilding their lily, The Allentown Arena. One feature story told how the perception of center city Allentown has changed, the other dealt with tourism and the higher hotel occupancy in the valley. The center city story mentioned the new restaurants and shops. Although I spend a lot of time downtown, and have frequented many of the new eateries, I have yet to find one of the new shops. Never mentioned  is the arena schedule promoted two years ago; So far this year, by those projections, the venue is about 65 events short. The companion piece on the hotels had even a greater reality void. Neither center city hotel in Allentown was mentioned. The glaring unasked question, which would link both articles, is how is the new arena's Renaissance Hotel doing? Without that question and answer, neither article had any value.

May 4, 2015

Law By Mob Rules In Baltimore

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore's prosecutor, apparently has decided that her real future is in politics, not the law. On Friday, when announcing charges against the police officers, she told the protestors, "To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for `No justice, no peace.' In regard to the police, she went on to say that nobody is above the law. It appears however,  that the rioters who looted and torched the buildings, might be above the law in her town.  While she had the mob celebrating in the street, the message for the thugs of Baltimore and elsewhere is that rioting pays. Although the charges against some of the police may prove to be warranted,  their implementation was pure street theater,  not normal legal procedure.

ADDENDUM: Tension broke out again in Baltimore today, as police arrested a  gun carrying suspect.  Such problems will be the cost of that city's appeasement.

May 1, 2015

Lehigh, County Of Hypocrisy

While The Wildlands Conservancy was working (they still are) to destroy the picturesque Wehr's Dam, supposedly to improve Jordan Creek water quality, the Lehigh County Authority was studying their option to dump treated sewage into that same creek. The Authority is under the gun by DEP to address sewage problems in the valley. One problem, as discussed previously on this blog, is that sewage overflows into Lehigh Parkway's Little Lehigh, during heavy storms. The other major problem is that Kline's Island Sewage Plant is at capacity. One horrendous option under study is spraying treated sewage sludge onto open land. All that is the known news, here's the hypocrisy. The Lehigh County Authority leased these facilities from Allentown knowing full well that these long standing problems had never been addressed. Lehigh County's Donny Cunningham induced Ocean Spray and other major waste water producers here, knowing full well that the county had a looming problem treating sewage. Kicking the can down the road is bad government, but when it ends up floating on raw sewage, it gets ugly.

Apr 30, 2015

It's Wrong To Justify The Riots, Period

Yesterday, Alan Jennings had an editorial that said yes the riots are wrong, BUT, you must understand the racism behind it. Last night, and today, rallies are occurring around the country, in solidarity with the beleaguered of Baltimore. In their politically correct version, the rioters are now protesters. That CVS and Mall that were looted and torched were subsidized to build there, after the riots of 1968 chased away any private investment. The protesters on Monday night went as far as to burn down a new senior housing development, now there's a political statement for sure.  Racism does exist, but so does lawlessness. Rather than riot over the death of a prisoner, it would be more productive for the neighborhood to examine why so many of its males engage in criminal acts. The apologists and professional advocates will reply that the cause is poverty. Fortunately, there is a growing segment of that neighborhood that is too busy working and bettering themselves, for such self-defeating rationalizations.

Apr 29, 2015

The IDF In Nepal

By 5:00 PM on Monday evening, the Israel Defense Forces had established a field hospital in Nepal, and deployed its famed search and rescue teams. Wherever there's a disaster, Israel doesn't hesitate to lend its resources.

An Inspection Of Hillary

Multiple sources report that independent Bernie Sanders will enter the presidential race this week. Supposedly, he will fortify his entrance by competing as a Democrat, and employing veteran political advisor Tad Devine to run his campaign. Although Sanders cannot wrestle the nomination away from the Clinton machine, if significantly engaged, he could submit her campaign to much needed scrutiny. With no primary opponent and a doting press, she has thus far enjoyed an undeserved cakewalk.