Mar 30, 2010
Alan Jennings Gives Taxpayer Bath
Alan Jennings may well be the most influential person in the Lehigh Valley; I don't think The Morning Call quotes anybody as often. Last week, in a panel discussion about newspapers, he acknowledged that he bends the arms of the powerful and that nobody wants to be on his wrong side. He is praised by democrats and republican, liberals and conservatives alike. If all that wasn't enough influence, the week before he received the national award from Jesse Jackson, for making capital available to the low income.
Shaking my head, I felt like Justice Alito reading that Jennings had lost only 40 thousand dollars helping over 70 startup businesses. He must mean money belonging to his organization, and not the taxpayers. This post is about a bath he gave the taxpayers, and how Abe Atiyeh came out of it smelling like a rose.
Jennings gets a thrill out taking people on welfare and making them instant business owners; I call it giving them a fish market instead of a fishing pole. In 1996 he set up Rose and Miguel Rodriquez in a paint recycling business called Angel's Touch Paints, in a rented space on N. Franklin Street.* In 1997 Lehigh County would pay them $7,000 to recycle it's paint leftovers, and then buy back rebatched paint at $5.00 a gallon. The operation only required the space of about a three car garage. Also, about this time, Abe Atiyeh purchased the sprawling, contaminated Allentown Paint Manufacturing Plant on East Allen Street. Long and behold the influence; The DEP spent $755,000 cleaning up the old paint factory and gave Angel Touch $165,000 more, for equipment and lease expense to relocate there, in a space 100 times larger than they needed. **
Angel Touch and the Rodriquez's are long gone. Abe has a clean building and the existing multiple tenants never even heard of Angel Touch. Actually, the building is so large that they could still be there, lost somewhere inside, like the $920,000 of our money.
*Dan Hartzell, The Morning Call,April 28, 1997:pg. B.04
**Dave Levinthal, The Morning Call, June 4, 1999: pg. B.12