Aug 21, 2017

Trump And The Jews

The Jewish reaction to Trump's statements about Charlottesville can be viewed within the larger political arena;  The overwhelming majority of Jews are Democrats, and voted for Hillary Clinton.  They join those who haven't gotten over the election last November, and bash Trump as the numerous opportunities arise.  That said, people marching with torches shouting Jews Will Not Replace Us leaves quite a jarring impression.

As a political conservative of the Jewish faith, I have no delusions about anti-semitism. I think that it is everywhere, just under the surface. I think that many non-Jews share the misconception that there is some secretive Jewish network,  helping Jews succeed at the expense of everyone else.  If such a network exists,  they must have misplaced my address.  These misconceptions have existed for almost two thousand years,  and I choose not to blame Trump for them.

Trump's presidency has been a series of poorly worded sound bites.  His background in commercial real estate development didn't require political correctness.  He was suggesting that everybody who was protesting against removing a statue of Robert E. Lee wasn't evil,  and that not everyone favoring its removal was pure in their intent.  He was not defending Neo-Nazis, or their  hatred of Jews and blacks. In our current era nothing elicits more reaction than an accusation of racism.  Even Mitt Romney joined the drum-beaters this weekend.  I didn't realize that he was interested in 2020.

 Most of those criticizing Trump for not providing moral clarity last week would not be satisfied regardless of what he had said, or didn't say.

Aug 18, 2017

O'Connell's Back Door

Allentown City Council will hire an attorney and attempt to have Pawlowski removed as mayor.  What this effort indicates to me, this late in the game,  is that Ray O'Connell shares the belief that election night will go to Pawlowski.  Considering that most pundits feel that O'Connell's entrance into the race as a write-in is a boost to Pawlowski's chances,  I might question O'Connell's write in effort.

The City Charter,  short of conviction, leaves the mayor in office.  The best way to get him out is at the polls.  The best chance of an opponent winning is a two-way race.  O'Connell could withdraw his write-in campaign, and support Hyman.

The above two paragraphs are my gut reaction as a local political analyst to the city council vote to hire an attorney.  That said,  as a former third person myself on the ballot, and as an admirer of Ray O'Connell,  best wishes in his pursuit.

Aug 17, 2017

Jaindl Up The Creek

It's not actually a creek, but the Lehigh River.  It's not actually Jaindl up the creek, but Allentonians who care about history.  Talen Energy has announced that it will relocate from the PPL Plaza down Hamilton Street to Reilly's new Tower 6.  Jaindl was hoping to land Talen as his anchor tenant for his  project at the riverfront,  which also has NIZ designation.

Students of this blog may remember that I complained about the last spur route being removed from the riverfront,  to accommodate Jaindl's project.  Although,  they tried to spin the track removal with the Rail To Trail annoucement,  it was a historic loss for Allentown. The spur was part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad Old Main, with the last distributor in Allentown using rail service.

This town, and especially Pawlowski, has no knowledge or sense of local history.  The boards, authorities and commissions in Allentown, which are composed mostly of Pawlowski appointees, also have no sense of history.  Further adding to this problem, is the significant number of new residents in the area.  Whether they are the entitlement folks from the big cities, or the new middle class suburbanites, local history is of little concern to them.  Never the less,  local history will continue to be a major theme of this blog.

Photo shows the former last spur line in Allentown, which was probably removed for naught.

Aug 16, 2017

The Saga Of Cedarbrook

I snickered when I learned that the Lehigh County Commissioners last week were getting ready to decide the fate of Cedarbrook Nursing Home. They already decided in 2011, when they started postponing any decision. Now, six years later, they have decided? The decision back then in 2011 was rather than say no to the county elders, and suffer the political consequences, they could keep postponing their decision with more and more studies. Along these many years I credit myself and Tom Mueller for speaking out against the charade.

By now Cedarbrook could have been renovated and turned profitable. Recently, at least one former commissioner took umbrage at me for pointing out the folly of another board. Over the years from attending meetings and advocating for one issue or another, I have become friendly with many of our commissioners. However, for me not to speak out against their collective shortcomings because of friendship or courtesy would negate both my activism and this blog. I choose to put these missions first, whether it be the parks or the elderly.

photocredit: K Mary Hess

Aug 15, 2017

Ambush At 9th & Chew

A former neighborhood leader was ambushed at 9th & Chew Streets last week.  Youths with their faces covered by bandanas circled her car in ATV vehicles,  causing both damage and fright.   Although Pawlowski is featuring the new buildings in his campaign material,  I suspect that the ambush will not be mentioned. Neither will be the recent shootings, stabbings, home invasions and homicides.

In 2005, I predicted our current state of crime. As a independent candidate for mayor, and an inter-city property manager, I was well aware of the changes moving into Allentown.  Although my views were marginalized by The Morning Call at the time, those chickens have come home to roost.  Allentown has reached a critical mass of the hardcore under Pawlowski's tenure. Hideous crimes are a daily occurrence. The NIZ district will be full of new Reilly owned buildings, but there will be no revitalization. No yuppie with more than three brain cells will want to live downtown among the gangsters.

The screen shot shown above is from John Ford's 1939 epic, Stagecoach.  The movie was filmed in Monument Valley in the Navajo Nation.   That movie, and subsequent ones featuring the valley, made it a destination. 

Aug 14, 2017

Stoking The Fire

What occurred in Virginia over the weekend is certainly a tragedy. I don't watch cable news as most people do, my television viewing is very restricted. From the headlines; Three Killed By Supremacist March. Only later did I learn that one pedestrian was killed by the car ramming, and two policemen died when their helicopter crashed.

The march started as a protest to removing the statue of Robert E. Lee. It was originally conceived by the University Of Virginia itself, as a Day Of Reflective Conversation. The white national group's participation was defended by the American Civil Liberties Union.  No less of an informed American than Condoleezza Rice has spoken out previously against revising Confederate history. History is something you add to, not take away from.  The march also did attract neo-nazi's and the KKK. These subgroups are opportunists.

The person who weaponized the car is supposedly a Trump supporter. Juxtaposition Trump's weak comments with that person's background, and you have a media storm which will last indefinitely.  The media pundits are holding Trump responsible for the death.  Nobody of course would attribute any blame to Cornel West, the Princeton/Harvard professor who encouraged the counter demonstration.

ADDENDUM:  On August 16 I received the following note by email from a local reader/college professor.  Although, I don't find his sources any more substantial than mine,  I present his objection to above post.

The march/protest to removing statue was, of course, *not* originally conceived by the University—a day of reflective conversation was. Unite the Right organized the actual protest, which — obviously no one disputes this, including the groups themselves—is a coalition of neo-nazi, white supramicists, and the KKK. It is flat-out inaccurate to say “The march also did attract new-nazi’s and the KKK.” It was organized by them. A correction is called for, in my opinion. The stakes are obviously high on this.

Aug 11, 2017

Simmons Is Better Than This

I support the 2nd Amendment and own a gun. That said, I do not belong to the NRA;  I cannot  respect a group which tells its members for whom to vote.

I was disappointed to see Justin Simmons pander to gun owners with a concealed carry seminar.  Here again,  I'm not against the right to carry, just against politicians who play on it, one way or another,  These seminars are straight from Julie Harhart's old playbook, who was a Representative for eleven terms.  I could accept Simmons reneging on his term limit pledge, but he should be above  parlor tricks like this seminar.

Aug 10, 2017

Allentown's Planning Puppies

Longtime readers of this blog know that I have written about these puppies before, when they approved the arena itself.  At that time, I said that one of them tried to bark, but hadn't really learned yet,  but that they were so cute.   They're still obedient, and this week passed J.B. Reilly's plans for the Croc Rock site.  One planner praised the proposed design,  inadvertently acknowledging  that their previous approvals were devoid of architectural merit. Could you imagine them not approving a  Reilly proposal?

By coincidence, many years ago I  happen to be sitting with Joe Clark when the then mayor phoned him about his plans for that nightclub. Lets just say that he didn't get the cooperation that Reilly is getting, nor did he get to pay for it with our state tax money.

Also on the puppy's menu was Nat Hyman's proposal to turn the massive Phoenix Mill building into apartments.  I have an issue with these conversion projects.  On one hand,  additional apartments contribute to the poverty magnate, by making housing relatively overly abundant  and cheap in center city. However, I do believe in the right of property owners to utilize their investment, and alternative  commercial uses for such buildings no longer exist.  Some people on Facebook wonder if such a project is a conflict of interest for a mayoral candidate.  I think not, and Hyman will seek all necessary approvals before serving, if elected.

Aug 9, 2017

Pawlowski Park Crimes

Yesterday on Facebook, Mayor For Life Pawlowski was bragging about a grant to plan for a new park in Allentown. This park would be around the old incinerator plant off of Basin Street. As a long time advocate for the park system, especially maintaining the WPA structures, nothing represents Pawlowski's disconnect from Allentown values more than this proposal. There is so much wrong with it, it's hard to know where to begin.

Pawlowski spent $1.5 Million Dollars buying part of this parcel and another unnecessary one from a local developer in a questionable deal. The WPA double stairway in Lehigh Parkway is crumbling. One of the landings is starting to cave in from neglect, threatening the steps below. Although the city had to replace and repair part of the wall to reopen the park entrance, the remainder of the wall has received no attention, what so ever. Likewise, other WPA locations, such as Union Terrace, are in dire need of restoration.

It would be nothing less than a disgrace to open another park until the existing park structures are repaired. Likewise, the grant that Pawlowski is bragging about should have been directed to WPA structures,  instead of trying to justify one of his back room deals.

Aug 8, 2017

Airport Director Flies Coop

The director of LVIA is leaving,  and their board of directors issued the standard exit praise about the wonderful job he did.  In my opinion,  neither he or they do a good job.

As often the case,  people appointed to these boards are the same good old boys appointed to multiple boards.  Often they are appointed not because they care and study a situation, but because their cooperation can be counted upon.

The previous ill-advised acquisition of expansion land cost the authority over $26 million in punitive damages.  Factor in that the airport passenger volume has generally deceased,  the wisdom of those previous decisions is apparent.

When the board decided to do away with the previous management company,  they hired the guy who was representing the previous company, expecting better results?  In recent years they have modernized a perfectly modern facility for no useful purpose.  Their current useless project is to do away with the convenience of having the car rentals by the luggage claim area, and building a separate building as a transportation hub.  Again, expanding for expansion sake with no useful purpose.

In the meantime,  they continue to overcharge for parking, and fail to induce more flights to more destinations.

In the past when I questioned a board member about some of these decisions,  he knew little to nothing about them.  Of course that didn't deter him from voting yes.

Aug 7, 2017

What Now For Allentown

With Ray O'Connell entering the mayoral race as a write-in,  the dynamics of the contest change. Some students of the local political scene think that the anti-Pawlowski vote will be divided up between O'Connell and Hyman,  giving Pawlowski a plurality election eve.

Certainly,  O'Connell's entrance can only take votes away from Hyman.  While some Republicans complain that he is only one of them by opportunity, that accusation may actually be a plus in Democratic Allentown.  So far,  I haven't seen Hyman defend his recent Republican registration.

Although Allentown would certainly be better off with either O'Connell or Hyman, I'm refraining from any predictions, with one exception.  Regardless of who wins,  Allentown has been lessened because Pawlowski won the primary.  The fact that about 28% of the votes cast in the Democratic Primary were for someone with compromised integrity, doesn't bode well for Allentown's future.  These supporters will continue their own agenda, regardless of who wins in November.  Future politicians will have to pander to this element, who are more concerned with entitlements than ethics.

Aug 4, 2017

Being An Independent Blogger

The Morning Call yesterday reported that two independents have qualified for the mayoral ballot. In addition to reporting their names and backgrounds, they included a photograph of both. In 2005, although I was the first independent to run in two decades, they never once published my photograph throughout the entire campaign. They also excluded me from their sponsored debate with Muhlenberg College, televised by WFMZ.  Every day for two weeks they ran a quarter page photograph of both Pawlowski and Heydt in the paper, promoting the debate. I mention this inequity as a prelude to my thoughts about blogging.

 My exchange with a reporter abruptly ended when I mentioned a former reporter who covered the 2005 campaign, and his bias for Pawlowski. The former reporter was not only Pawlowski's first supporter, but ended up being the last person hired by Mike Fleck, before he flew the coop. The current reporter has remained friends with this guy, and apparently demonstrated his loyalty by ending our dialogue. A feud with a  local  blogger also involved loyalty. He claimed that I was being disloyal, when I scoffed at a disclaimer he made.

 Loyalty to me is something you give to your significant other and your country. It's not something which should extend to journalism, especially in the political arena. That's how you end up with a mayor running for his fourth term under indictment.

Aug 3, 2017

Pawlowski's Poverty Shuttle

I told readers that Pawlowski won the primary by campaigning in the minority owned beauty and barber shops. These people were flattered by receiving attention from a mayor. He subsequently attended every event and birthday party to which they invited him. On primary evening he had cobbled together over 1,700 votes, a plurality to win in the crowded primary field. Not being content with my analysis, I called it the Marion Barry vote, because these constituents are not turned off by Pawlowski's trouble with the law. He continues now to court this demographic.  A bus outfitted with a Re-Elect Pawlowski  sign fueled speculation that he was providing a free shuttle service around town.  Perhaps at night the shuttle could take shooting and stabbing victims to the emergency ward.

He certainly knows how to work these people for his gain.  A free shuttle service would be appropriate, since under his tenure most of the low-income moved to Allentown.  I saw another photo of him carrying a cooler, and handing out bottles of water in a park.  I suppose that's because he leased the city's water department.  He might also consider handing out models of city hall,  since he allegedly sold that as well.

Those looking for nice sentiments should buy a Hallmark card,  you won't find them here.

Aug 2, 2017

Morning Call's Farewell Missing Firewall

In Bernie O'Hare's obsession to criticize me on Monday, and ingratiate himself with Bill White, he dismissed an important story. When I had referred to Rolf Oeler's comment as interesting, Bernie commented on his blog; His explanation (Molovinsky) is nonsense, too. People going out for dinner on Friday nights or having a drink is indicative of nothing. 

Oeler reported that J.B. Reilly, Pat Browne and Bill White were at the bar.  Bill White, in a subsequent public facebook post, commented that the occasion with Morning Call personnel, was a farewell for Matt Assad, which we know from Oeler included Pat Browne, and J. B. Reilly.

I have been asking here on this blog for several years whether Matt Assad was reporting on the NIZ, or acting as a press agent for Reilly's City Center Real Estate Company? The newspaper articles, one after another, read more like press releases than news articles. Readers looking for critical analysis of the NIZ were left mostly with only this blog. The Morning Call would be hard pressed to prove that the proper firewall exists, especially now since J.B. Reilly literally purchased the Morning Call Newspaper building, and is their landlord.

Aug 1, 2017

The Dour Molovinsky

Bernie O'Hare wrote an attack piece against me yesterday, in which he claims that I allowed Rolf Oeler to threaten Bill White, because White called me dour. White did describe me as dour, thank you, several years ago. However, after seeing a psychiatrist numerous times, I came to grips with the description. It appears however, that Bernie O'Hare hasn't come to grips with his resentment towards me. He got angry when I called his disclaimer about contributing $25 dollars to Morganelli an understatement. Anyone who has read O'Hare's adulation of Morganelli understands that $25 pales in comparison to all the free public relations given to him over the years.

The comment by Oeler did have some hostility, but it was interesting and informative. It was about a politician and developer sitting in a place they created with our tax money, with the newspaper men who promote it for them.  It was in no way an actual threat against Mr. White.  I believe that the only real aggression was O'Hare's post about it.

Call me dour,  but don't tell me who can comment on my blog.

Jul 31, 2017

Allentown's New Political Era

In his column on Sunday, Bill White uses a Winnie The Pooh analogy,  that he hopes that Pawlowski supporters start wising up, and realize that he is not the leader that he purports to be.

Ed's supporters know exactly what he is.  They're not voting for integrity,  instead they're betting on someone who might share the honey with them.  They're not voting for a better Allentown,  they're voting for bigger piece of the pie for themselves.

The new constituency which Pswlowski cobbled together for his primary victory will continue on past November's election,  regardless of who wins.  Rather than looking forward to a more ethical Allentown,  I think that we have seen the beginning of a Tammany Hall.  Even if we luck out with someone other than Pawlowski for the next mayor,  he created a blueprint for a new era of self-interest politics.

I can appreciate that some of my readers may find this post less than optimistic in outlook.  Thst's good,  because we are going to need all the idealists available to counter the coming opportunists.

Jul 28, 2017

Allentown's Predicament

Pawlowski says that he isn't resigning because he did nothing wrong. I certainly believe the first part of his statement, that he won't resign.  Although, his support is limited almost exclusively to minority owned beauty and barber shops, that was enough to get him on November's ballot. The established business community and local government officials have made it clear to him that he is a liability, and that he should put the city ahead of his need for a paycheck. Perhaps these two segments should put their efforts together, and see if Pawlowski could be induced to resign with a payout. He is essentially totally ineffective now as a mayor, making the entire city hall payroll non-productive.

photocredit:The Morning Call

Jul 27, 2017

Schism In Lehigh Valley Democratic Party

The Lehigh Valley Democratic Party Committee has thrown Chairman (for now) Walter Felton and the new minority party members shown above under the bus.  Yesterday afternoon one of the committee members forwarded their statement to blogger Bernie O'Hare, stating that Walter Felton was speaking for himself, and not the local party. We are seeing a schism between the county suburban, mostly white establishment and the city urban core, which they had formally embraced to mint new voters.

When Ed Pawlowski was campaigning to win the Democratic primary,  I reported that he was courting the minority beauty and barber shop owners.  I called it the Marion Barry vote.  A Black Democratic political consultant accused me of being racially insensitive on facebook,  because of my bluntness.  A Black woman who moved here from Washington DC told me outright that she supported Barry in spite of his criminal wrongdoings.  She is now very comfortable supporting Pawlowski.

Now that Pawlowski's indictment has become very real,  Felton and the folks pictured above apparently spoke out of turn. They apparently were not authorized to endorse Pawlowski, who now is a full blown liability.

I believe that we're witnessing the beginning of a split between the city and county Democrats.  The County party wanted those urban votes,  but the white suburban voters aren't ready for Marion Barry moments.  Don't expect any committee members to verify my observations,  but the people shown above don't appreciate being dissed.

A local Democratic activist on the molovinsky on allentown sounding board contributed to this post.

Jul 26, 2017

Allentown, Pawlowski and Molovinsky

When I started this blog over ten years ago, one of the things that motivated me was the direction Allentown would be going in under Pawlowski.  The Morning Call writes today that Pawlowski began his political career defeating William Heydt in 2005 for mayor.  There was actually a third candidate, an independent,  also on the ballot that year.

Although, The Morning Call denied me equal coverage,  I held underreported and unreported news conferences on what would become Allentown's most pressing problems in the coming years.  While the paper held interviews and debates with seven Democratic primary candidates this year, they claimed that three was too many when they excluded me from their sponsored debate in 2005.

Back in this blog's earliest beginnings,  I was a chorus of one.  Even bloggers Bernie O'Hare and Chris Casey assumed that the issues I was raising were just sour grapes on my part.

I will not be reporting on the nuts and bolts of the indictment.  To me it's already old news.  I will be reprinting some of my early posts.   Despite the tone of this post,  I take no satisfaction with the current events.  Despite all these new buildings, Allentown has been depreciated over the last ten years.  Our center city streets have become danger zones.  Our schools are failing.  Even our famous parks are falling apart.

Below is a reprinted post from June of 2007.

June 23, 2007

Certainly Maxwell Davison and Robert Wood had Allentown's best interest in mind when they recommended a raise for Mayor Pawlowski. The same gentleman also recommended a manager style city government. There are those complainers who say Pawlowski should be paid less ,because although the manager style was not adopted, he hired one anyway, effectively reducing his own job description. But his supporters, and there are many, feel the mayor is reorganizing the ship of city government to lead us to better times. Here's an idea, why not let these cheerleaders form a collection to show their gratitude to the Mayor. Pawlowski will receive the compensation they feel he deserves, and us malcontents will feel less exploited.


Jul 25, 2017

The Pawlowski Predicament.

Blogger Bernie O'Hare has reported that a lawyer associated with Ed Pawlowski expects to be indicted soon, perhaps even today.  Others speculated that this new round of indictments would include Ed Pawlowski.

A New York State Legislator had his bribery/public corruption conviction overturned by the 2nd Court of Appeals, because under the Supreme Court's recent McDonnell decision,  a public official engaging in generalized support for a patron or a contributor is no longer enough to establish a conviction.  Bernie further speculated that perhaps dropping out of the mayoral race might be a condition of bail.  I would think that regardless of what happens in regard to Pawlowski being indicted,  he will be on the ballot come November.   Furthermore, I doubt that an indictment will significantly change his chances of being elected, whatever those happen to be.  His pending indictment has already been baked into the odds.  His constituents, mostly Allentown's minority communities, won't blink over these charges.

In other ballot news, based on a conversation with Ray O'Connell last month,  I expect a decision from him this week about waging a write-in campaign.

In conclusion, I don't see an indictment of Pawlowski changing the election results.  I suspect that a trial won't occur before 2018.

ADDENDUM: Ray O'Connell is making an announcement on August 3th.  Apparently, he is joining the mayoral race as a write-in candidate.

Jul 24, 2017

The Left's Dilemma

My liberal and Democratic friends are still foaming at the mouth about Trump, six months after the inauguration.  While world leaders like France's Macron have come to terms with our election,  half the voters here have not.  Of course what Macron realizes is that the world is potentially a dangerous place, and what North Korea is up to is much more important than who is Trump's press secretary.  It's even much more important than who Donald Jr. met with before the election.

Unfortunately, the ratings driven media would rather profit than inform.  Thus, cable news is still reporting on SNL sketches, rather than threats to our security.  In their mind Trump and his administration is both the enemy and their bread and butter.

I suppose what really astonishes me is the superficiality of this obsession.  Trump has become the news, instead of current events.   While I'll concede that Obama was cool, and Trump is not,  what does that have to do with our economy or security?

Jul 21, 2017

Allentown Is A Roller Coaster

Last night I attended an art opening at the Baum School of Art. It is a continuation of the art show at Muhlenberg College, featuring artists who worked in Allentown during the 1980's. While the show at Muhlenberg exhibits their older work, the show at Baum features their current work.

Some of the artists have passed away, those remaining are now in their sixties and seventies. I knew most of them at the time, through one association or another. Some would frequent Allentown Photographic, a business I operated on 8th Street.

Although, the show was well attended, I cannot say the same for center city. Despite all the current new construction,  even though there were vacant buildings and empty lots in the 1980's, the town was more vibrant back then. Despite Billy Joel's song,  there was even more pride in the town back then.

I do believe that all this new construction will revitalize Allentown, but it hasn't happen yet.

The art shows at Muhlenberg and Baum will run through August 2nd.  Shown above is Life Is A Rollercoaster by Jessica Lenard,  Mixed media, 30X22 inches.

Jul 20, 2017

Allentown's Monuments Of Time

While Allentown City Council has been imploring the feds to rescue the town from our political turmoil, I have been surveying our timeless icons. Although, I cannot predict when Mr. Pawlowski will get a knock on his door, I can report on some needed emergency repairs.

Unlike Pawlowski who is responsible for his dilemma, the WPA structures continue standing despite the neglect. However, unlike people whose integrity is an internal trait, the structural integrity of these stone icons does require some outside attention.

A landing on the double stairway show above is starting to cave in. The seeping water in turn will damage the steps below it.

The bottom of the wall at the Union Terrace double stairway has some missing stones. These need to be replaced ASAP.

Unlike people who can be rehabilitated in prison, once these structures are gone, they're not coming back. In 25 years nobody will remember who Pawlowski was, but hopefully the stone icons of our park system will still be there.

Photos of the WPA structures and the campaign to save them by Molovinsky

Jul 19, 2017

New Superintendent Reaching Out

The new Allentown School Superintendent is reaching out to the parents. He is offering free dinner, baby sitting and a raffle for $20 gift cards to attend one of five open houses in the next two weeks; It's an opportunity to meet him and become a better parent. (Implied, but not stated) In my day parents didn't need to be bribed, but only invited to attend PTA meetings and teacher conferences. I have heard back-channel that he also wants to install free laundromats in the schools, so parents might become more involved.

Perhaps these incentives are necessary to get Allentown's low-income parents into the school buildings. If this is the case, I doubt that their interest will extend to more than the free door prizes. If this is the case, I doubt that Allentown will have any more success with these gimmicks than the other large urban areas.

While the student's parents are being invited for a free meal and gift,  the taxpaying homeowners will be receiving their school tax increase.

The school board chose this superintendent for this new route, good luck with that.

Jul 18, 2017

No Thirst For Local News

In a recent post,  I noted that The Morning Call seems to be lowering their firewall  between news and opinion in regard to Mayor Ed Pawlowski.  On what planet have I been stranded?  Firewall is a historic term from the dinosaur age.  It no longer exists in news, whether print or broadcast.  Quite to the contrary,  the media seems to wear their bias as a badge of conviction.

Here at the molovinsky on allentown blog,  being a completely unmonetized endeavor,  I can afford to strive for objectivity.  I even proclaim myself as non-partisan.  Truth be told, it would be very difficult to monetize the blog.  There is less than a thirst for news in this community.

Another truth be told,  I'm interacting with less and less people.  I now only attend meetings to advocate for something or other.  Since our esteemed elected officials actually do very little deliberating at the public meetings,  attendance is becoming less and less productive.

However,  I do survey people at the diners and grocery markets.  Their knowledge or interest in local decisions is minimal. Acutally,  they're  perplexed why people even concern themselves with such matters.

Jul 17, 2017

Lower Macungie's Draconian Policy

Farmland preservation is the yuppie myth of our time.  While liberals love their organic farmer's market, they know nothing of the realities involved.  Don't misunderstand,  I also love rides in the country and photographs of pretty pastures,  but I know where our bread and butter really comes from.

Those farms are of a different era.  While the yuppies, my pejorative term for uninformed liberal idealists, lament coal mines,  they love those farms of yesteryear.  They only still exist not because there is a shortage of open land, but because of an almost endless supply.  The only shortage involved is that of farmers,  those who are still willing to work like horses to eke out a living.  The yuppies even now want to train farmers as props for their delusion.

Farmland preservation funds are now being mostly used by gentleman farmers, with taxpayers essentially paying for privately owned country estates.  

Enter Lower Macgunie Township, which has decreed that future  home owners on previous farmland developments must pay to maintain the roads in their new neighborhoods.  The roads must still be built to township specification, but be privately maintained.  Of course these new homeowners must still pay township taxes, even though they will not be receiving the same service as residents elsewhere in the township. 

Jul 15, 2017

Short Notice WPA Tour

Occasionally, a student calls me about the local WPA. Apparently, my name comes up when doing research on that topic. I have volunteered to take a young woman on a quick one hour tour this coming week. It occurred to me that a few others might be interested in joining us. We will meet in front of the Allentown Art Museum on Tuesday(7/18/17) afternoon, at 1:00,  and depart promptly.

Jul 14, 2017

Beyond Allentown City Council's Purview

Next week Allentown will past an ordinance banning gay conversion therapy, and there were no objections at a widely attended and publicized committee meeting. Let me be the first.  While the intent of the ordinance may be commendable,  it is clearly outside of the purview of City Council.

What motivates this post is council's historical failure to properly regulate things that are in its purview. While there are many such topics,  I will mention some recent examples concerning the park system.

Allentown City Council gave permission to demolish the Robin Hood Dam in Lehigh Parkway, just to solely accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy.  Council approved spending $1.5 million dollars to purchase two parcels for additional parks, while the existing park system is in deteriorating condition.

While much of my activism has centered on the park system, there are others who could cite numerous examples where council has rubber stamped one initiative after another. Some were done to accommodate the mayor, before he lost favor.   The better interests of Allentown's general public should be the only criterion used on council decisions.

Jul 13, 2017

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.

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.

UPDATE JULY 2017: Over the years I was able to influence Karen El-Chaar,  Director of Allentown Friends Of The Parks, about the WPA structures.  She in turn prevailed in obtaining a grant from the Trexler Trust to repair the steps at Fountain Park in 2016.  Most of the structures throughout the park system remain in dire need of attention.

Jul 12, 2017

Allentown's Urban Woes

Allentown has been waking up to a new shooting or stabbing practically every day. We're now talking about trying neighborhood policing.  It is nothing new,  going back to the Heydt and Afflerbach administrations, with officers assigned to different districts in the city.  At one point they actually had neighborhood offices from which the officers worked, when not out talking with members of the community.

One thing is apparent, something new needs to be tried, even if it has been done before.  We know from recent experience that having a police chief of color, in itself, makes no difference.

As someone who visits Hamilton Street several times each week,  despite the arena and all the new buildings, there is less activity there than ever.  Unless, and until Allentown can appear safe there will be no meaningful revitalization.  This is the urban dilemma of our times, not unique to Allentown.

Jul 11, 2017

Pawlowski's Paper Problem

Up until recent years, The Morning Call wrote editorials and endorsed candidates for Mayor. They endorsed Ed Pawlowski for mayor in 2005. They certainly will not be endorsing him in 2017. As a matter of fact, it's becoming increasingly difficult for him to find a friendly word about himself in the paper. Bill White, the Call's remaining columnist, has written that it is time for Ed to go. An article in today's paper , by one of their sports writers, takes him to task for his decision to remove the basketball rims in Andre Reed Park.

As a local political blogger, I find this new attitude by the paper interesting. Although,  Bill White has criticized the Ray O'Connell write-in effort, no one at the paper has yet to directly endorse Nat Hyman. In the days of the editorials, the paper claimed a firewall between the editorials and the news. Now, there are no editorials, but the firewall seems to be lowered.

In the primary election with a crowded field, Pawlowski cobbled together a coalition of mostly minority voters.  Ray O'Connell doesn't see Pawlowski garnering much more than those 1,700 votes in the general.  How the other 5,000 or so votes will divide is the question.  Will the plurality go to O'Connell or Hyman,  or will the divided vote allow Pawlowski to win once again?

Jul 10, 2017

Injury To Allentown's West End

After the "improvement"

For almost a hundred years the western stretch of Chew Street beyond Muhlenberg College had a quiet elegance to it. This was by no accident, as the neighborhood was developed by General Harry Trexler, also father of the park system.

Regular readers of this blog remember that recently I lamented the decision to blacktop the cement streets.  Little did I know that the macadam would only be the first assault on the neighborhood.

Despite the fact that virtually no cars park on Chew Street in that area, parking lanes have been painted. Although, there is little traffic or even walkers, cross walks have been painted on four sides of each corner. Add the double yellow lines and bike logos, and you have a blinding smorgasbord of paint.

There's something wrong when an improvement depreciates the value of a neighborhood.

Before the "improvement"

Jul 7, 2017

The Politics Of Local Basketball

Mayor Pawlowski had three of the four basketball nets removed from Andre Reed Park after neighbors complained of rowdy late night playing. According to The Morning Call, a youth coach has accused Pawlowski of accommodating a few neighbors over the need for youth basketball, to curry political favor in the neighborhood.  Cynthia Mota is crying foul because of the deprived youth.  Dennis Pearson is threatening to move back to Allentown and run as a write-in candidate, unless the courts are restored.

When contacted by phone,  the founder of this blog and park activist Michael Molovinsky, said that the trouble started when Pawlowski renamed the park from Irving to Andre Reed.  Furthermore,  they removed one set of WPA steps, rather than repair them.  When you have a park department that forsakes it's history and iconic structures for recreation,  then suspends the recreation for politics, what do you have left?

photocredit: The Morning Call

ADDENDUM:This story attracted the attention of both myself and blogger Bernie O'Hare. Both of us paid homage to Dennis Pearson, an east Allentown activist for many decades, who recently married and is in the process of moving.

Jul 6, 2017

Pawlowski Forsakes Iconic Park Structures

Despite my efforts for the last six years, the city has given no maintenance to the WPA structures except by necessity of circumstance. I began my campaign to save the WPA structures on this blog in 2010, and conducted public meetings at the Allentown Library. Fortunately, the director of the Friends Of Allentown Parks, Karen El-Chaar, attended a meeting and developed an interest in the mission. I subsequently gave her a private tour of the structures, and she invited me to conduct two public tours of the structures for her organization.

Although, I was told for years that money was in the park budget for renovation of the wall in Lehigh Parkway, no maintenance was ever performed. After a portion of the wall collapsed several years ago, it was only rebuilt because it was actually a retaining wall for the park entrance road.

Karen El-Chaar then secured a grant for the steps at Fountain Park from the Trexler Trust. At that time, I prevailed on the city to have the stone masons do an emergency repair on the steps at Union Terrace.

So, besides a collapse necessitating a repair, and a modest grant from the Trexler Trust,  nothing has been done by this administration to preserve this unique legacy bestowed upon the Allentown Park System.  Next week, I will reprint several posts on the structures with appropriate updates.

photo: El-Chaar and Molovinsky in Lehigh Parkway

Jul 5, 2017

Allentown's Treasures Deteriorate

The Allentown Park Department just completed installing 18 concrete pads throughout Lehigh Parkway for the Disc Golf Course. While the starting pads were unnecessary and unsightly, not one $dollar or ounce of cement was applied to the deteriorating WPA structures. Shown above is the top of the double stairway in Lehigh Parkway. While the top landing seen in the photo is in poor condition, the stair landings below are completely crumbling. Water is seeping down through the flagstone landings and undermining the steps themselves.

Unfortunately, it is clear that the current park director has no appreciation for these irreplaceable structures. Her background is completely in recreation, hence the new frisbee launch pads.
One would think that after the adjoining wall collapsed from neglect,  the administration would have realized that some preventative maintenance was long overdue.

These structures were designed in 1928 by a nationally recognized landscape architect hired by Harry Trexler himself.  Although, the Great Depression delayed construction,  they were then built by the WPA in 1935.  They are part of Trexler's legacy, and their neglect is becoming inexcusable.

Jul 4, 2017

A Letter From The Mayor

Office of the Mayor of Allentown

Dear Ce-Ce, Mike, and Robert, 

I wanted to take time away from my busy schedule as mayor to thank you for all your efforts on my behalf. After the primary I was very concerned about my chances to be re-elected in the fall, but your efforts to mount a 3rd party write-in campaign for my good friend Ray is just the shot in the arm my campaign needs to guarantee success again in November. I couldn't do it without your support.

Together we can keep Allentown Moving Forward. 

Your truly, 

Mayor Ed Pawlowski

 July 3, 2017 at 1:40 PM

The above comment, meant as a parody, was submitted by Scott Armstrong.  Scott is a partisan,  and in his view my recent posts recognizing  Ray O'Connell's write-in campaign is heresy.   My intent here is not to once again analyze whom such a write-in campaign would benefit, but rather my position as a blogger.

I separate my personal political preferences from my blogging. I will not color my words to promote one candidate over another.  I will not refrain from observations, even if they contribute to an undesirable  candidate's victory. In the campaign there will be many mailings and promotions from the candidates and their surrogates, but this blog isn't one of them.   

Jul 3, 2017

As Allentown Turns


 The presses were down overnight, but we expect to be back to normal publishing hours by July 4th; Then again, Cedar Park Pool was suppose to be open by now. Otherwise, here at molovinsky on allentown, the staff remains intrigued by the race for mayor.

Although, write-in votes are normally a tremendous hill to climb, Ray could easily create an effective machine election day. A write-in no longer has to have his name spelled out correctly. Any version that conveys the voter's intent suffices. The voters would only need to type in RAY. He already has enough support to man all the polling stations. If he can be competitive with campaign funds remains to be seen. It will be an interesting race.

Jun 30, 2017

Blood In The Water, Allentown 2017

The last time the Republican Party actively participated in Allentown politics was 2005,  when Bill Heydt ran for mayor against Pawlowski.  In 2009 Tony Phillips was a default Republican candidate, left to his own devices.  In 2013 the party fielded no candidate,  and Michael Donovan was the second man on the ballot as an independent.  Now come 2017,  with Pawlowski facing a pending indictment, and the party apparently thinks that the city is in play again, for the first time in twelve years.

Ray O'Connell told me that he has received numerous calls telling him that he will only benefit Pawlowski if he runs as a write-in.  The Republican's aren't saying that they want their man to win, but instead that nobody should do anything that will enable Pawlowski to win office again.  They're saying that Ray should put the city first,  not his own ambition; How civic minded of them!

Now, I'm not saying that the Republicans are wrong in their calculations about Ray being a spoiler, but I'm questioning their motive;  Is it a better Allentown they seek, or a Republican Mayor for the first time in over a decade?

Many of my posts offend one party or another,  sometimes both.  Readers should understand that I'm nonpartisan, and that this blog's mission is to provide informed commentary.

Jun 29, 2017

O'Connell's Methodology

In a call yesterday, Ray O'Connell stated that he is employing a methodology to determine if he can win in November.  His team is conducting a poll of registered voters.  If they determine that a plurality of voters will support him, he will proceed waging a write-in campaign.  He expects the survey to be completed by late July.

I don't initiate such conversations; I find them to be somewhat constricting.  If I express any doubt here about everything that I am told,  the caller usually takes even more offense than I normally cause.  Likewise,  although I will occasionally endorse a candidate,  I have no interest in an on-going promotion of any candidate or office holder.  However,  I am always available to hear out anybody.  I never want this blog to misrepresent anybody's position.

I do believe that O'Connell is trying to be scientific about his decision.  If emotion and enthusiasm cloud his data,  we'll know the morning after the election.

Jun 28, 2017

The Ray O'Connell Do-Over

A week ago I posted how Ray O'Connell is apparently going to wage a write-in campaign for mayor.   Yesterday, Bill White used much the same material for his Morning Call column.  Both White and Bernie O'Hare think that O'Connell will be the spoiler guaranteeing Pawlowski's victory.  What gives that viewpoint more weight with me is that Scott Armstrong comes to the same conclusion.

However, I think that the outcome could be different.  Hyman will take all the Republican voters, although they are in the minority.  Pawlowski and O'Connell will divide the Democratic vote, perhaps allowing Hyman to still prevail.

Bill White asked O'Connell if he was indeed running as a write-in, and Ray replied,  "I have not made a decision yet."  Although, I'm unsure of the election outcome,  I do take O'Connell's answer as a yes.

Jun 27, 2017

Allentown's Anti-Corruption League

While Allentown is beginning it's week on Mondays, The Anti-Corruption League is gathering in a North 4th St. coffee house. It's leader, Robert Trotner, has been supporting idealistic concepts and candidates for years. Of course, when you juxtaposition Trotner's ideals with Allentown's reality, he is about 0/20. Never the less, he forges on. Yesterday he was hoping that somehow, someway write-in candidate Ray O'Connell saves the day for Allentown come November. O'Connell, as of this time, has yet to verify his off ticket write-in candidacy.

Robert Trotner on left, with Eugene McDuffie

Jun 26, 2017

Cedar Beach Pool Leaks Integrity

When I was a boy in the early 1950's, Cedar Beach Pool already starting serving the residents of Allentown.  About five years ago then park director Greg Weitzel, under Pawlowski, wanted to build a destination water park,  almost like a commercial amusement park. The plans alone cost $80,000. The idea was so gradiose,  that even Allentown City Council, which was still in it's rubber stamp mode,  balked.  That monstrosity would have extended from the current pool area up to Hamilton Blvd.

Several years ago when the pool supposedly developed a bottom crack, and the city said that it couldn't be fixed, I doubted it.  Last year, when the city said that the old pool walls weren't thick enough,  I doubted it. Now the renovation project has another problem.  The new filter isn't large enough for the pool's volume of water.  The renovated pool actually has less water than the original, because it no longer contains a deep diving area, and there is a large island bisecting the middle. Perhaps they should have just used the old filter.

I don't know when the renovated pool will be finally completed,  but I do know that it won't last anywhere near the sixty five years that the previous one did.

ADDENDUM: Link to Cedar Beach Pool history, courtesy of a reader.

Jun 23, 2017

Brown's Bet

While Pat Browne certainly has been good for J.B. Reilly and the Allentown NIZ, he has also directly benefitted the taxpaying citizens. He led the fight for the long overdue Pension Reform legislation, and now is resisting the push to legalize video gambling machines outside of the casinos.

Pennsylvania has a long storied history about gambling. When I was growing up, people were jailed for selling games of chance, or even organizing card games. In the late 1970's, compromising because of the need for additional revenue, they organized the state lottery. That evolved into the state actually promoting that you must Play To Win.

Needless to say, passing the casino bill was the big gambling frontier.  There is now real competition for our gambling dollars.  Browne claims in the above mailer that he is fighting to keep the state's own Lottery Fund viable, to sustain the various programs which it supports.

Jun 22, 2017

Stevens Park

My apologies for an earlier post where I acted so haughty about Stevens Park. Ive been sick the past couple weeks. That being said had family over today and bragged about the new park. Took my 2 yr old and a couple other toddlers with parents. Trash everywhere! Dirty needles...I picked up 6 heroin used bags. I was horrified! We left, kids in tears. Me on the verge! I went later with husband and cleaned it up. Ive been so excited for the young neighborhood will soon just get totally trashed. And Im moving......

The above comment appeared on a community facebook page. I have redacted the writers name. The Morning Call did a pictorial spread on the the renovated park, but of course the women above gives us an actual nitty gritty experience from visiting the park. Despite the reality of who will congregate there after hours, and whatever nefarious activity that may take place, it is important to provide attractive parks within the urban center for children.   However,  the nature of the neighborhood requires that the park receive extra cleanup and surveillance.

As a frequent critic of the  park system, allow me to commend the Parks Department on a renovation well done.

photocredit: The Morning Call/Harry Fisher

Jun 21, 2017

Writing In An Allentown Mayor

I recently heard that Ray O'Connell was going to wage a write-in campaign for mayor, and Ce-Ce Gerlach's Facebook post might be a confirmation.  According to Ce-Ce's post, she already has about 2,000 voters interested. If O'Connell will be actively participating in this effort remains to be seen.

Yesterday, I endorsed Nat Hyman, and wrote elsewhere that I believe that the hill is too steep for either an independent or write-in candidate to prevail. While some others might think that the more candidates the better for Pawlowski, as was the case in the primary, in the general I think O'Connell voters will help Hyman. In addition to O'Connell, Luiz Garcia is also being  encouraged to wage a write-in effort. Because O'Connell and Garcia were primary candidates, election law precludes them from now running as independents.

Although still only June, the fall election for mayor has begun in earnest.

Jun 20, 2017

Allentown's Fall Election

Although I took no position and made no recommendations in the primary races this past May, that will not be the case for November's election. Yesterday, Nat Hyman's started placing sponsored spots for mayor on facebook. I will be supporting Hyman because it's beyond time for Pawlowski to move on. Hyman has an extensive background in business and also firsthand familiarity with Allentown's housing issues.  He apparently will be playing hardball, which will be necessary to win. The Morning Call has revealed that he did in fact finance the challenges to his primary opponents.  It will not be a gentlemanly contest.

On the county level I will be supporting Bob Smith for Commissioner, and Brad Osborne for Executive. Both of them have appropriate experience for the positions.

Further recommendations may follow in contested races.

Jun 19, 2017

The Blog, Why?

Over the weekend I told someone that I have been producing a blog on local politics and history every weekday for ten years.  She simply, sincerely asked why in the world would I want to do that?  Understand that this blog is not monetized in any way. None of the posts are used by another publication, which then subsequently pays me. I'm not motivated by comments and feedback.  I actually eliminated the anonymous said option,  reducing the amount of comments received.  Of course none of this answers the why question.

Before the blog I felt compelled to speak out against those actions and inactions which I thought reduced the unique quality of life called Allentown.  I expressed myself at city council and through letters to the editor. I suppose it's the same compulsion which made me run for office twice as an independent.  Both council and the editors are grateful for this blog,  it helps keep me away from them.

I didn't tell the woman who asked the why question that I usually post the blog before 4:30AM. She already thought that I was nuts.

Like the donut maker, I get up early

Jun 16, 2017

The Paper's Morning Yarn

The Morning Call headlines that the new Strata Loft apartments are all spoken for before the building is even finished.  I have claimed that this is erroneous at the most innocent, and an outright informercial at the more dubious.  I think that after three years of their articles we can dismiss the innocent error option. I have discovered that many of the apartments are both vacant and rented at the same time.  Apparently, City Center LLC has included some apartments with commercial office leases.  A number of the apartments are assigned to the hockey team.

Needless to say if all the apartments were really rented to people living in them,  restaurants wouldn't be closing, and the Moravian Bookstore could have sold a few books.

We find  Rite-Aid coming back, and less pricey eateries going into the closing upscale locations.  Between market forces and the pressure for inclusionary housing*, we know who will be living in the new apartments soon enough.    Today, someone mentioned to me how she and her husband dine in Bethlehem and Easton, but not Allentown.  They feel Allentown has no charm or ambience.  They certainly would have no desire to walk around in Allentown after their meal.  There was organic growth in Bethlehem and Easton which grew to meet a demand.  In Allentown, a developer keeps building to take advantage of an unprecedented tax incentive.   The Morning Call can act like a public relations firm instead of a newspaper,  but they can't put patrons at restaurant tables or in the upscale stores.

* I suppose you could EXCLUDE people by announcing that the units are full before they're completed, and have a waiting list.  Would the paper cooperate with such a scheme? ADDENDUM: I do not see any need for inclusionary housing in Allentown. There is no shortage of apartments available in downtown, nor has gentrification created a market shortage. The idea that a certain percentage of new luxury units should be set aside for people of less income is social engineering beyond the notion of this blog.

Jun 15, 2017

When Guns Belong To The Left

When the horrendous knifing occurred against the defenders of the Muslim girl,  the violence was attributed to Trump supporters.  Nobody will be blaming yesterday's shooting on Bernie Sanders, nor should they.  However,  on facebook I see the outrage about the Alexandria shooting still heaped upon Trump.  He apparently made everyone in the country hateful,  as if there was no violence before him. 

Let us hope that this unfortunate incident creates some reflection about the hostility expressed toward Trump, and the propensity for violence from such vitriol.

photo: 1908 Colt, 25 caliber