Nov 30, 2008

A Blogger and Historian

The third time I came across the same site,
searching three different subjects; Bethlehem Steel, my mother's maiden name and the Fairview Cemetery, I realized Mr. Berghold was a remarkable person. A couple years ago he quickly returned my inquiry concerning Hungarian Jews during the war. Jerry Berghold was born here in Allentown in 1930, and passed away this past August in Virginia. You can enter his many enduring websites from this address;

UPDATE: The Burgenland refers to Eastern Austria and Western Hungary. Although Mr. Berghold started as a genealogist researching the multi-ethnic heritage of the immigrants to our area from that region, he became a humanist who grew a few emails into a worldwide, 1500 member interaction.

Nov 27, 2008

Merry Pawlowski

Last night, as I went to sleep concerned about the impropriety of The Morning Call featuring Pawlowski's picture on the city map, little did I know I would awake to another full page picture of the mayor on the cover of the Entertainment Section. It's time for me to get with the program. I wish you a Happy Pawlowski Day, and next month, when it beginning to look a lot like Pawlowski, may you have a Merry Pawlowski and Happy Pawlowski Year!

Nov 26, 2008

2009 Municipal Election

Today I received what I thought to be the first political brochure of the 2009 Mayoral campaign. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it was actually the municipal directory and map, sent to every property owner of record. Taxpayers received such a directory in 2005, but in that version, then Mayor Afflerbach limited himself to his name only, in small print. I have included a photo of the 2005 directory for

comparison. A disclaimer appears in small print near Pawlowski's huge photograph, "No tax payer funds were expended in the printing of this document". The combination campaign promotion/ city map was published by the Morning Call.

Nov 25, 2008

Easton Mayor a Retread

Easton is obsessed with the used hubcap business near Rt. 22, they should worry about the retread they elected for mayor. Sal Panto insists on supporting an unnecessary parking garage, in a flood plain, that will hurt the merchants of Easton by relocating the bus riders away from Center Square and Northampton Street. According to an article in the Morning Call by Michael Duck, he blew off critics for a second time by canceling a scheduled meeting. I drove to Easton and checked out the location of the proposed transportation hub. Without a doubt, the Easton location will be even more disastrous to their center-city merchants than the hub in Allentown. While Lanta serves the suburban malls with transfer bus stops, these remote parking garage/Lanta Terminals delete the center cities of foot traffic. Lanta doesn't care, Panto doesn't learn.

Nov 22, 2008

New Police Contract

Most premium pensions, such as public school teacher, are based upon 35 years of service and yield the retiree about 70 percent of their ending salary. The expiring police contract allowed officers to buy their military time, go out with 16 years and base their retirement upon their last 30 days, including overtime. As a citizen and candidate, I attended the contract hearings in 2005 and spoke with FOP officers. They estimated probably about 12 officers would retire under Afflerbachs' plan, no more than 20. I believe about 80 officers have left the force in the last 47 months, with many receiving way over their base pay in retirement. I've been told the most harmful element of that contract, for the taxpayers, was the 30 day clause. Most such contracts are based on the last 3 years, or at the very least, the last 90 days. The new contract STILL HAS THE 30 DAY CLAUSE, but with a cap of 10% above base. Regardless of any projections, the taxpayers must assume a large part of the existing force will retire with a pension of 110% of their base salary. New officers hired after Jan. 1, will conform to state standards in pension, and the 20 year rule without buyout has been reinstated. The administration will allow existing officers between now and the end of the current contract, Dec.31, to qualify for the no cap pension and still remain working until they decide to actually stop working. Would you continue working if you could retire and receive more? These observations are based upon a report in today's Morning Call by Jarrett Renshaw.

UPDATE: Scott Kraus, on the Morning Call's Queen City Blog, suggests that the last time City Council interfered with the police contract the result was a disaster. I agree about that result, but never the less, Council must always be willing to intercede if necessary, to protect the interest of the taxpayers.

Nov 19, 2008

They Don't Understand?

Every year the Realtors get a few phone calls from New York and New Jersey, their buyers don't understand why the investments aren't yielding the results they expected, or worse. Their frame of reference is New York, where a one bedroom apartment rents for $3200. Where they come from, it costs about 900 thousand to buy a one apartment unit. They don't understand, although it is only 90 miles and an hour and a half from Manhattan, it's a different world. The think if they give their tenants pre-addressed envelopes, the checks will come in the mail. They think if they convert a commercial building into lofts, yuppies will park their beamers outside, downtown. The Dime Bank Building, on 7th, off of Hamilton is going to be converted into upscale apartments; Expect to see Mayor Ed and his portable podium soon. The real estate market in NYC is recession proof. Here, the local builders know all about down markets. Shown in the photo, is what was to be the second phrase of the townhouses at 8th and Walnut. Despite tax free status from the Keystone Opportunity Zone, the builder has filled in the foundations and discontinued the project.

Nov 18, 2008

Growth Industry in Allentown

Yesterday I went to the Social Security Office, across from the prison, to discuss my retirement options. I was given number 199. In addition to retirement, Social Security also dispenses money for disability. I would say from the gray hair, there were
about three of us contemplating retirement, all the others were for disability. A few middle age men were carrying their fake canes. The canes aren't fake, it's the disabilities. I saw one such gentleman walk in from the parking lot, clearly the cane bore no weight, and was merely a prop. Most of the people waiting were quite young, in their twenties. Disability has been expanded to include mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, additive personality and anger management. I will say many of them did look angry to me. It was hard finding a parking space. Business also looked good at the prison. If Johnny Manana's had gotten these crowds....

Nov 16, 2008

School's Out

Many years ago, Lehigh Valley Child Care brought together a group of teachers and educators, to provide the inter-city children of Easton a special program for the summer. We called the program School's Out, it was centered in the YMCA. Activities included, but were not limited to, photography, drama, art, nature study and athletic instruction. The kids could learn basketball at the Wolfe School gym, how to build a set for a play, or how to swim the butterfly stroke in the Delaware. Although the experience may be lost in their memory, I know that fifty kids had a summer of both fun and learning.

Photocredit: molovinsky

Nov 14, 2008

Morning Call Pimps Brew Works

The Morning Call blog, Queen City Daily, which only does about one post a week, is promoting real estate for the Brew Works*. I have to pay to advertise real estate, and pay dearly. The available space at the Brew Works is completely overhauled and upgraded. The reporter failed to mention the Brew Works received between five and seven million dollars in taxpayer grants** to pay for those improvements. I have to improve my property through savings and bank loans. The space at the Brew Works is being promoted by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. I have to stand outside in the dark, waiting for prospective tenants to show up at my property. The reporter who wrote this piece for the Morning Call is well intentioned, he is just not cognitive of the inequalities our politicians have inflicted upon the marketplace. Here's some questions I would ask; Who owns the Brew Work Building? Who would receive the income from either the rental or sale of the upper floors? Has the building been legally subdivided? Who decides which owners benefit from the LVEDC promotions?


** There has been a smorgasbord of subsidies bestowed upon this project. Relief from taxes under the KOZ, some are outright grants, such as facade, others are HUD loans, which can be forgiven. There has also been unique considerations from the Parking Authority and other promotions funded by taxpayers.

Nov 12, 2008

No Christmas For Merchants

The Klan would be proud of the disrespect being shown the Asian merchants of Hamilton Street. Last year, right before Christmas, all the foot traffic created from the bus transfer stops was eliminated. This year for Christmas, Allentown is finally enforcing a fourteen year old amendment concerning security gates. The merchants have been given 90 days to change out their gates from solid to mesh. They have been told, that although many of the gates have been installed since 1994 with approved permits, no solid gates will be grandfathered. They have been also told that appeals will prove to be useless, and frowned upon. The new gates are costing anywhere between two to seven thousand dollars each depending upon width. Imagine being told in November of 2008, that your gate installed by permit in 2000, is out of compliance with an amendment passed November 4, 1994. Please click and enlarge the above document to see how it feels to be a Coolie in Allentown. Word on the street is that this idea came from the Fegleys of the Brew Work, via a "Vision Committee". Once again Pawlowski forsakes long-term taxpayers and reality, to cater to grant recipients and an imaginary gentrification.

UPDATE: An officer in the code department was kind enough to answer a few questions from me. He stated that from a safety viewpoint concerning fire, and the buildings are all adjoined, the solid gates prevented fires from being seen. This seems to be a valid point. As often the case, , my issues are with Executive decisions, not those officials responsible for carrying out the mandates.

UPDATE 2: Isn't it interesting that Johnny's Manana's, as a startup business in a brand new building, was given a facade grant for 50k, while these merchants, who have been here for many years, were not offered any help to pay for these gates in front of their buildings.

Nov 8, 2008

Hamilton Without Lanta

It has been about a year since Allentown and Lanta ended their historic covenant with the merchants, and the result has been a disaster. The 700 block of Hamilton, although not glamorous, was viable. Years ago there was an expression; there's many more nickels than quarters. Without the bus traffic, no less than 6 businesses have closed. All the new stores have been subsidized by city grants. Currently on Allentown Good News, a blog sponsored city officials, they're bragging about a women who sells coffee and cookies, and even that required a grant. The bad news, is that the gentrification hoped for, never materialized. Johnny Manana's, despite 50 thousand and a county sponsored liquor license, has locked the doors. Last spring, Mayor Pawlowski said 150 grand left from facade grants, may be spent to support existing restaurants. How much we really put into Manana's may never be known. Mayors will blame the economy for the failures. In ten years, we will hire a consultant for hundreds of thousands, who will recommend restoring bus transfer stations to Hamilton.

artwork by Karoline Schaub-Peeler

Nov 6, 2008


Nobody has gotten more out of the word "change", than Obama, since the cash register was invented. Here, on the local blogosphere and newspaper, we are somewhere between cult worship and a new religion. Take for example, an Email I received this morning from Bill Villa concerning my previous posting;

"This one's just between you and me. I just wanted to tell you what a horse's ass you are, posting that dumbo entry about some WW II fighter pilot guy the day after Barack Obama's victory. This is your uniquely Molovinsky self-absorbed way of showing just how insignificant you consider Obama's victory to be. As if anyone cares what you think. You're also sucking up to that "Greatest Generation" (which you missed being a part of by only a few short years) that is lamenting the "America they used to know." Nice pandering. And while we're on the subject of total transparency, if "The Banker" isn't Bernie O'Hare, I'm not Bill Villa."

I print the above Email with some hesitation, because Mr. Villa said the message was between him and me. I suppose because he calls me a horse's ass, and because he deleted, rather than read my reply to him, I need not consider his feelings more than he considers mine. The fighter pilot is my son's step-grandfather, and has always shown much consideration toward him. Had McCain won, would any post on any other subject be considered disrespectful? In Obama's speech Tuesday night, he expressed respect for McCain and his supporters. I wonder if that toleration will be practiced by his supporters; that would be a change.

Nov 5, 2008

An American Hero

This painting, by aviation artist Mark Postlethwaite, based on World War 2 illustrates an actual air battle; Focke Wulf Fw 190D-9 of 14/JG26 flown by Ofw. Werner Zech is intercepted by a P-51 Mustang of the 339th FG flown by Captain Francis R. Gerard, 18th March 1945. Frank Gerard was one of our flying aces, shooting down four enemy aircraft from his Mustang in one battle over Leipzig, Germany. The retired Major General passed away this week and will be buried tomorrow with full military honors.

Nov 1, 2008

Pawlowski's Halloween

For the second time in one month, there was a fatal shooting in front of young children. Last night's crime happen during the trick and treat hours, creating a real life horror for kids being robbed of an Allentown tradition. The shooting on 9TH St., under a flashing blue surveillance camera and a near a identified landlord of shame, appeared on the local news page of the Morning Call. Above the slaying article, columnist Bill White praises the Pawlowski initiative against landlords. Allentown should not be so conditioned to murder and violence, that it has become B section news. We should not tolerate an administration which blames its inability to deal with crime on tavern owners and landlords. You don't have to be a brain surgeon....