Feb 29, 2008

St. Luke tops St. Paul

Rev. Richard Baumann, from St. Paul's Church on Walnut Street at 8th, is upset because he and his neighbors must replace sidewalks uplifted from city planted, fast growing trees. In fairness to Mayor Pawlowski, he was living in his hometown of Chicago, and never heard of Allentown when those trees were planted. We cannot ask Neal Kern, longtime director of public works and an Allentownian, because Pawlowski got rid of him; even his replacement is gone. Let up hope the good Reverend doesn't learn about 7th Street and St. Luke's Church; the sidewalks and trees there, were replaced at city expense for the same reason.

Feb 28, 2008

Verizon Workers Get Poor Reception

Townhouses on the former lots used for safe, convenient parking by the Verizon workers is a done deal. Officially, as reported on the Queen City Blog*, no decision will be made until March 19, but it is a done deal. Authority Director Tamara Weller and Mayor Pawlowski recently met with Verizon workers, and none appeared at the meeting; had they appeared, the ducks were lined up. Redevelopment Director Karen Pooley "happen" to be there with an alternative parking scenario for Verizon worker. The owner of the Dime Bank, "may" buy the parcel across the street from the phone building, and then "might" make it available for Verizon use. Although the official explanation for not closing the deal yesterday is to allow a few small frys an opportunity for review (they also stated they favor the project), Larry Hilliard, City Financial Director, wanted the extra time to negate future charges of a rushed deal. Board member Malcolm Gross wants the actual negotiation done under executive session, that is behind closed doors. By my calculations, the parcel price will be less than ten thousand per townhouse, a gift at our expense, including water and sewage in place. Under the Parking Authority operating charter**, it is unclear to me how they became a real estate developer, but then again I cannot see the big picture like Mayor Ed,

* http://blogs.mcall.com/allentown/2008/02/parking-authori.html


UPDATE: These lots are being sold for less than they cost in 1991 dollars. Although the Authority only declared the lots "excess" on Jan. 14, and only after then supposedly sent out requests for proposals, by Feb.27 we are told nobody besides Zawarski is interested, and he has a detailed proposal complete with architectural renderings. One hundred and twenty four paid parkers are being displaced, to build townhouses with store fronts which are not needed, which may well retard the viability of the existing buildings in that block. These lots were paid for on the backs of many Allentownians paying tickets and fine for many years. If this current Board of Directors is entitled is sell off assets at the Mayor's bidding, should be subject to scrutiny by a larger segment of the public.

Feb 27, 2008

Fish, Fishing pole, Fish Market

In the Lehigh Valley we don't believe in giving someone just a fish, or even a fishing pole, we give them a fish market. Alan Jennings Community Action Development Corp. makes people instant business owners. I know of no less than three of his start ups that have failed. At today's Allentown Parking Authority Board Meeting, another Jennings recipient expressed support for a questionable development plan. It is difficult for me to accept housing agencies making homeowners from those who do not qualify for conventional mortgages, especially during the last five years. I would have thought nothing down and bad credit was easy enough. But imagine the stretch to make someone a business owner. Surely poverty has become the growth industry in the Lehigh Valley.

Feb 24, 2008

Frankenstein Fails Polygraph

The monster, aka Allentown Parking Authority would be hard pressed to pass a polygraph test. In 2005, the former and current director of the Authority, testified in front of City Council that the majority of the merchants wanted the meter rate increased. They lied*. The Authority has always functioned for the betterment of the BIG BOYS on the backs of the smallest among us. In 1991 the Authority purchased the 13 parking lots owned by the declining Park N Shop for well over market price. Profiting from the buyout was Morning Call owner Donald Miller, Department store heir John Leh the 35th, Harvey Farr, and a few other good old boys. Keep in mind Hess's and Leh's department stores had their own parking decks, and the meters penalized the small merchants. Today the monster feeds on Allentown's poorest residents. Meters still extend out to 10th and Chew, 5 blocks well beyond the closest store. Over 100,000 tickets a year are issued to Allentown's poorest, mostly the intercity tenants. Now, 15 years after serving the needs of the BIG BOYS, the Authority again schemes for the connected. Now they give away the lots so that developers can have free to cheap KOZ opportunities. The new housing at 8th and Walnut was at the expense of the existing homeowners who used those lots as off street parking. The protest which came from a neighborhood group out of St. Pauls Church was labeled as naysayers to moving Allentown forward. Years ago the Authority paid millions for the lots, paid for them by aggressively ticketing the poor, and now are giving them back to the rich. The current plan is to "sell" a lot at 7th and Linden, used by the Verizon employees, so a developer can make a few bucks on unneeded townhouses.
Easton is beginning to realize their Parking Authority needs scrutiny. If they thought about it more, they may wonder why a town that size even needs an Authority at all. Please join me this wednesday Feb. 27, 4:00 pm at the Monsters house, 10th and Hamilton Sts., to support the Verizon workers attempt to retain their safe and convenient parking.

* I conducted a survey at that time, 40 out of the 47 merchants were opposed to the meter increase.(figures corrected since posted earlier today- actual survey will be posted in near future)

UPDATE: A small metered lot on 9th St., right off of Hamilton was given to Butz, another small lot on 8th was given to Brew
Works. These assets, intended to benefit the entire shopping district, are being given out by the Administration,
through the Authority, almost as party favors.

Feb 21, 2008

The Truth is Black or White

The truth is usually black or white, without a lot of gray in between. In the blogosphere, the gray scale is not disclosed. Some bloggers pretend to be reporters, and even cite journalist type ethics. Others clearly are less pretentious, but often more honest. Black or white, orange or pineapple, it's only what it tastes like!
Photo credit: molovinsky

Feb 11, 2008

Scotty and Mikey Agree

Click on image to enlarge
Scott Armstrong and I have been on the opposite side of most issues for years, but we both agree that the Home Sale Inspection Law is bad for Allentown. Scott feels " If this administration abuses the Sweep Ordinance and gives tickets to the elderly for putting their garbage out two hours early, how could you enable them with so much power over your home?" The apologists for the city claim the law will help control rental properties, while in fact the Rental Inspection Law of 1998 requires all new owners to notify the city for re-inspection. City Hall must concentrate on providing safe, clean streets, and keep their hands out of the homeowner's pocket and house. Scott and I will work together and bring this issue to a public ballot question.
Note that in the above clipping, the bureaucrat states home values increase more downtown in the historic districts, they never let reality interfere with their agenda.

Feb 9, 2008

Peter Schweyer Resign Lanta

Mr. Schweyer, congratulations on being elected to the Allentown City Council. If the truth be known, your not the first council member to belong to a board of directors whose activity effects Allentown. I suppose if a blatant conflict of interest arises, you could always abstain from voting on one panel or another. Certainly, belonging to two or more important panels is impressive politically, but I was hoping this council aspires to be more proactive than your predecessors. You know, Lanta may not always act in the best interest of Allentown. There are some of us who feel the recent Lanta changes have unnecessarily hurt the merchants of Hamilton Street, and the better interests of Allentown. Although your appointment to Lanta was an honor, your election to Council was a sacred trust; Mr. Schweyer, serve Allentown, resign from Lanta.

Feb 7, 2008

The Rose Garden

Last night at the City Council meeting, the consequence of having a mayor from out of town, with a staff from out of town, was painfully illustrated. Our new Parks Director presented plans to hire a consultant to remodel the rose and old fashioned gardens. There is a good chance that the consultant, sometime in his past, studied the Allentown Gardens, nationally renowned for their beauty and design. There is an old saying, don't fix that which is not broken. Mr. Mayor, stay OUT of the our gardens.
photo credit: Donald Lawson

Feb 5, 2008

Don't Get Cheated Again

Mayor Pawlowski told The Morning Call that those opposed to the Home Sale Inspection Law had ample opportunity to speak out against it. In reality most homeowners had no idea such an ordinance was in the works. City Council passed it on December 19th, their last meeting of the year. That evening the main agenda was the dismissal of the police officer and the raise for the mayor's position. Also that evening, when I questioned adding new responsibilities for code enforcement when they still had not hired a Director of Community Development, the administration replied an announcement was forthcoming. Since then, the newly announced director resigned because of his own code deficiencies. Last week the administration urged our community leaders to report their neighbors who are selling their house by owner. I believe such an intrusive law should not be based on such misrepresentations. Home owners should defend their property rights. I believe our ethics as a seller, and our diligence as a buyer have been, and are sufficient. I urge all citizens to call city council and ask that ordinance Home Inspection 109-2007 be repealed.

UPDATE: At the beginning of the meeting, City Council declined my request to consider repeal. I believe the citizens of Allentown deserve better than legislation through misrepresentation. I will endeavor to bring this issue to voter referendum.
UPDATE 2: After I left the meeting, Councilman Donovan proposed, and council accepted, a motion to restudy the issue, while the ordinance stays in effect. Although this course of action is less than satisfactory to me, I do appreciate his intervention.

How You Were Cheated

At the end of 2000, despite the majority of neighbors in opposition, The West Park Historic District was enacted. The City Administration, City Council and The Morning Call all cooperated in ignoring the true sentiments of the property owners and the State guidelines to implement what they felt was the public good. The presented documents were mailed to the opposers in a final report, return address: How You Were Cheated. My intention is to show how we must guard and fight against this sort of assumption by our elected leaders. I mean no offense to my friends who were on the other side of this issue.
click on documents to enlarge

Feb 1, 2008

Monster eats Handicapped

The Monster, also known as Allentown Parking Authority, having it's fill of bus riders and poor merchants, now has a yen for the disabled. The Allentown Department of Corporate Welfare, has decided to sell it's "North" lot near the Verizon Building, to develop another tax break, for surely there is no market for these projects in the real(estate) world. Although the disabled workers of Verizon are welcome to plea before the Authority Board and City Council, in reality they will just be a sneak preview of the "Monsters" menu. Until which time the public unites and organizes against the ParkingAuthority/Lanta/CityAdministration machination, our long term assets will be determined by only three or four people.

UPDATE: This post was written in reaction to a story in today's Morning Call by Paul Muschick. Paul wrote " Verizon employees are fighting plans by the Allentown Parking Authority to sell a N. Seventh Street parking lot, saying the sale would put them a risk and would burden the disabled because they would have to walk farther." A petition by the employee's says "If we were parking even a block or two away and had to walk the streets and alleys during these hours, the chance of becoming another crime statistic would greatly increase."

Tamara Weller, director of frankenstein, would consider adding disabled spaces near the Verizon Building(723 Linden). This is bureaucratic speak for "we will not change our agenda, but will give you a peanut if you squeal enough"; much as Lanta provided the merchants with a holiday shuttle bus between Hamilton Street and their TERMINAL

The article by Muschick entitled WORKERS FEAR LOSING ALLENTOWN PARKING LOT apparently is not included in today's mcall.com

UPDATE: Although not listed in the mcall content page, the staff from Queen City arranged an address to Muschick's article