Apr 30, 2010

Wagon Trail Report

The Wagon Trail cleanup in several ways remains a work in progress. Greg Weitzel and myself actually cooperated on this project. I agreed that no power or heavy tools would be used, and he arranged for the City to pick up the rubbish that would be collected. Andrew Kleiner, young liberal environmental science student, and author of the blog Remember, got to meet conservative Republican Robert Romancheck, who has a doctorate in Environmental Science. Joining Romancheck and Michael Schware doing the physical work, was the mystery woman. I only know her initials, and she insists on remaining anonymous. She has worked at previous park projects as well. What I suspected was a large rug covered in dirt, turned out to be a large pile of dirt with a few pieces of rug. All debris was removed from the trail. The large tree which blocks the last third of the trail remains. It's removal will require chain saws and City approval. The photo, taken by Andrew Kleiner, shows Bryan Kleiner on the left and Dr. Romancheck in the middle.

Apr 29, 2010

The Blogger, Part 2

We here in the Valley are blessed to have the THE BLOGGER EXTRAORDINAIRE to both inform and conform us. Tirelessly attending one meeting after another, five nights a week, at the midnight hour he bestows praise upon the deserving and criticism upon the weak. Bending the truth like putty, faster than a speeding Lanta Bus, all opposing comments are dismissed as non sequiturs, personal attacks and off topic.......to be continued

The above is a reprint from my post of September 22, 2009, but little has changed with Bernie O'Hare, aka here as Jimmy Olsen. Yesterday, no less than three bloggers came under attack; myself, Michael Donovan and LVCI. My attack resulted from taking one of his chosen to task. Conveniently, after bashing me, an anonymous commentator came on Bernie's site, and added insults remarkably resembling comments that Bernie himself has made about me in the past.

Bernie constantly flatters some favorites, and likewise criticizes others. Yesterday's news about Lehigh County not completely depleting it's reserve funds in 2009 far exceeds The Morning Call's report. Bernie features beloved Donny boy on his blog today; with his best picture, press release statements and charts. At the same time there is not a single word about Ron Angle's newest awkward lawsuit, against his own father's estate, when he slipped on the ice visiting his father in 2008. Rest assure Bernie will compose a spin to make us dizzy. I will be accused of attacking people's integrity and calling them liars. Of course Bernie is less concerned with my integrity or reputation. Some people will comment that they prefer not to read these blog wars; fine, stop reading, nobody is forcing you. My blog has a few missions, confronting hypocrisy is one of them.
ADDENDUM: Bernie O'Hare, on one of this recent posts, writes the following comment to me today
Your comments are no longer welcome on this thread. You are unable to stick to the subject being discussed bc you are always caught up in your personal vendettas an petty grievances. This is not the place for personal attacks against ......
This is the classic O'Hare double talk, double standard to which this post addresses. Count on Bernie to deliver a fresh example day in and out. Bernie linked to a post because it was his favorite flavor of blog candy; a blogger he likes, attacking a politican he doesn't like, for bad manners; but my questions about the blogger's manners are off topic?
click here for Bernie's double talk, comment 36

Apr 27, 2010

The Synagogues of Jerusalem

Except when barred by one conqueror or another, Jews had lived in Jerusalem since King David. Prior to Jordanian rule in 1948, there was a Jewish majority for 150 years. In 1864, eight thousand of the fifteen thousand population was Jewish. By 1914, two thirds of the sixty five thousand residents were Jewish. In 1948 the United Nations Partition Plan divided the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Jerusalem was to be initially an international city, with access guaranteed for all. This plan was rejected by the surrounding Arab nations, which attacked Israel in concert immediately upon the UN vote. When the truce was declared, Israel had survived, but East Jerusalem(walled Old City) was in procession of TransJordan. The Jordanians subsequently destroyed over 50 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, which dated back to the 1400's. For hundreds of years both Christians and Jews were prohibited from building higher than Muslim structures. The few synagogues which survived were the ones built mostly below street level. The oldest surviving synagogue, The Jerusalem Synagogue, was built by the Karaite Jews in around 900. Shown above is the Ben Kakai, a Sephardic Synagogue built in the 16th Century.

Perhaps the most famous synagogue destroyed by the Jordanians was the Ashkenazi Hurva Synagogue built in 1720, it's dome visible in the top center of this photograph from the 1920's. It's replacement has just been completed.

Apr 26, 2010


In the city of awe-inspiring sites, the most imposing is The Dome of the Rock. The Dome covers the Rock from which Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven to receive a message from Allah. The Jews believe the rock is the Foundation Stone, from which the world was created. On it, Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac and the Ark of the Covenant stood when the Temple occupied the Mount. The Mount and Temple was enlarged by Herod, during the lifetime of Jesus.

Jews pray at the retaining wall, The Western Wall, which survived the Temple's destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. The bottom four rows of stones date from Herod, below current street level, there are 17 more layers.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is west of the Temple Mount. The first church was built on the site in the 4th century. Christians believe the church encompasses both the sites; where Jesus was crucified, and also buried and rose from the dead.

Apr 23, 2010

The Wailing Wall

Israel had hoped that Jordan would not join the Arab forces against them in 1967. It was not to be; their artillery opened fire on Israel. Israeli paratroopers fought with small arms in the Old City. They were ordered to use no artilley, which could damage Holy Shrines.

Although Israeli Jews and Christians were barred from both the Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the twenty years of Jordanian rule, Israel immediately opened access to all. Administrative control of the Temple Mount, upon which sits the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, were immediately given to the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic Trust).

The Wailing Wall is the Western Wall of the Mount, which is considered the closest and only remnant of the Second Jewish Temple, and is the holiest site in Judaism. No matter where in the world, all Jews have always prayed facing Jerusalem and the Wall.

Apr 22, 2010

Moshe Dayan

Moshe Dayan on born on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee in 1915. When he was 14, he joined the outlawed Haganah, an underground defense force to protect Jewish settlements from Arab attacks. Although caught and imprisoned by the British for two years, he would fight for them in Lebanon during WWII, losing his eye. In the 1948 War of Independence, he fought on all the fronts, defending Israel; by 1953 he was Chief of Staff of the Israeli Armed Forces. In 1956 he led the Suez Campaign.

In 1967 he was Defense Minister for the Six Day War. He remained in that position through the War of 1973. Although a genuine hero in every sense of the word, he was held responsible for the initial success of Egyptian forces in the surprise attack on Yom Kippur (1973), and would resign from his position.

Israel is too small of a country, and it's enemies too numerous, for any miscalculations regarding it's security.

I believe Joe Biden is qualified to give Mayor Callahan advise at the Blue Grill in Bethlehem, Pa.. In Jerusalem, with Netanyahu, he's out of his league.

Apr 21, 2010

Public Money Lovefest

Although everyone present at the train forum conceded that it was absurdly expensive and impractical, they wanted to proceed. The moderator, a professional consultant, preached resolve and grants. Between the $Billion dollar price tag, and the $12Million yearly loss projected, the Paul Marin inspired $250,000 report seemed like a bargain. The report, by the Systra Design Group, essentially said what everyone over 25 years old, or not a professional public money spender, already knew. Of course the sponsors of the event, LV Renew, are in the under 25 category. Most of the speakers were in the public spending group. One of my favorite targets and quotes is from my pal Panto; he sees tourist coming on the train. Imagine, New Yorkers getting on the train at Penn Station, to come to Easton's Al Bundy High School Sports Museum. If the train plan went full steam ahead, it would take to 2030 before we heard the actual whistle. By then, the Renew kids will probably be living in the suburbs, telling their kids to keep away from the city. Panto, and the public money spenders, will be in Depends.
related articles
Hartzell/The Morning Call

photo explanation; picture is from the future, 2035, The Poverty Express, bringing more needy to the Lehigh Valley

Apr 20, 2010

The Wagon Trail Cleanup

Most of Lehigh Parkway lies in a deep ravine. The slope up to Lehigh Parkway South, across from Robin Hood, is very steep, about 60 degrees. Unknown to many people, there is a diagonal trail on part of the slope, which comes out halfway up the hill behind the Stone and Log House.

We kids, who grew up in the Parkway, called it the wagon trail. I believe it was part of the Kemmerer Farm (Stone and Log House), which dates back to the late 1770's.
In the 1950's, the foundation of a small outbuilding or kiln was still visible on the trail. The recent years have not been kind to the old trail, it is no longer maintained by the Park Department. About halfway between it's entrance and exit on the hill, the trail has been blocked by a large fallen tree. People have dumped debris on the trail, and it has remained there for years.

A group of Allentown Republicans has volunteered to clean up the rubbish on the wagon trail. This is strictly a cleanup project, involving no tools. To help with the effort, take Lehigh Parkway South (sharp right after Park entrance) to the intersection with Catalina Ave. The Wagon Trail entrance is about 100 feet beyond the intersection, on your right. The cleanup is this coming Saturday, April 24th, between 9 and 11 a.m.

Apr 19, 2010

Rickshaw Rides at Mayfair

Mayfair 2010 will offer rickshaw rides on the newly completed bikeways on the western side of Cedar Park. The bikeways were created by widening and paving the former jogging path. Additional loops were added, which can accommodate up to 100 rickshaws. The rickshaws will be pulled by authentic Asians, actually Hamilton Street merchants, in need to supplement their income from losses suffered as a result of the Lanta bus route changes. The idea of a novelty concession isn't new at Mayfair. Years ago paddle boats were added to the island in Lake Muhlenberg. The land bridge to the island, created for that concession, resulted in lake stagnation and was scheduled to be removed this year. However, all environmental restoration projects have been cancelled, in deference to resumé enhancing construction projects.

The paths across Ott Street have been designed for two way speed cycling. How fast the rickshaws will go, will only be limited by the strength of the merchants. I was unable to contact Steven Schmitt, Director of the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation , for his comment on the rickshaws. Ironically, Schmitt is familiar with the merchant cart pullers. When they protested against the Lanta Transfer Terminal in 2007, he said, "They wanted something to complain about, basically."

Apr 15, 2010

Urban Safari

Exclusive to molovinskyonallentown; this blogger has learned that along with the golf course concession, the Allentown BrewWorks has received the first franchise to conduct urban safari's in Allentown. The evening excursions will begin and end from the safety of the municipal golf course parking lot, in the deep west end. Although still in the planning stages, sites on the tour will include 9th and Chew, gunfire epicenter of the new Allentown, and a drive-by of Trinkles Cafe. Within the safety of the armored Hummer, guests will visit an actual forensic site, and watch police officers search for shell casings. The guides will tastefully point out probable ladies of the night and merchants of recreational pharmaceuticals. The tour will include stopping in front of the home of an urban pioneer, where actual members of OAPA will wave from behind their windows. With special permission from Lanta, the excursion will drive through the bus yard, showing real passengers waiting on cold steel benches, eating stale donuts. For a VIP tour, actually driven by Mayor Pawlowski himself, contact the special events coordinator at Allentown City Hall or the Allentown BrewWorks. Jarrett Renshaw of The Morning Call did not contribute to this story.

reprinted from December 28, 2008

Apr 14, 2010

Rumors and Innuendoes

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been upset about the additional paths being added at Cedar Park. Although the previous gravel loop provided a nice exercise route, it also preserved open green space and the park atmosphere. Weitzel's new plans placed loops inside loops, to be connected by cross paths, and everything to be widened and paved. As I make numerous visits to the park to survey the destruction, I notice that the new paths do not conform to the plans, or even the revised plans, submitted to City Council. That contradiction didn't stop Council from passing the Trail Network Plan last week, again giving just lip service to oversight.

This blog, as perhaps the last watchtower between our park system and Weitzel's schemes, receives many tips about park shenanigans. I neither have the energy or time to check them all out. Last week a persistent tipper told me an interesting story. She claimed that Pawlowski tried to squeeze more property tax from Cedar Crest College, claiming that the snow slide hill behind the college, down to the park, was taxable land. The College responded by having their land surveyed. Lo and behold, they owned more land than either they or the City realized. Although a visit to the area did reveal surveyor posts, frankly, the story didn't interest me, until now.

Andrew Kleiner writes on his current post about his interview with Weitzel.
2. Extra paths have been removed, some at the request of Cedar Crest College.

Weitzel and the Administration demonstrated this summer they could care less about the requests of park neighbors. I have no doubt that part of a new path infringed on the College's newly discovered land, and that was the reason for the extra path removal. My conclusions;
1. City Council continues to approve and accept plans knowing their requests for oversight are ignored.
2. Weitzel continues to tell Kleiner and others half the story.
3. Pawlowski's overreaching cost the park some land.

The above is rumor, innuendo and speculation. I'll leave the facts to a reporter, I'm a blogger.

Apr 11, 2010

Baer vs. Simon, 1937

When Max Baer beat Primo Carnera for the Heavyweight Title in 1934, he became a celebrity overnight. In the year that he held the title, his nightclub carousing was legendary, including a Vanity Fair Magazine profile. His younger brother, Buddy, 6'7", decided he too would become a boxer. Between 1934 and 1937 Buddy fought40 times.

"On August 30, 1937 Buddy took on his first highly regarded opponent, New York's rising prospect, Abe Simon, at Yankee Stadium*. Baer won by TKO in the third. "Simon gave Baer a beating in the 1st round and had him in distress, but he came back in the next two sessions with a succession of blows to the body and head that had his huge opponent reeling when the bout was stopped" (New York Times). Baer then went on to beat Two Ton Tony Galento, setting himself up for a title shot with Joe Louis. Louis had called Galento the toughest man he ever fought. Like Simon, Buddy Baer got two chances at Louis. In the first fight he went 7 rounds, in the second fight, he got knocked out in the first round. Also like Simon, he would retire from the ring after his second Louis fight. Baer would later say, "The only way I could have beaten Louis that night was with a baseball bat."
*Buddy Baer-Boxrec Boxing Encyclopaedia

Apr 10, 2010

The Brass Rail

The Brass Rail was a fixture on Hamilton Street for many decades. At one time, to the left of the front door on Hamilton Street, was the women's entrance. A woman could use the special corridor to avoid walking through the bar room, to get to the dining room at the rear of the building. The business owners had all the bases covered. The front grill provided their famous steak sandwiches, for the take out lunch business on busy Hamilton Street. The back parking lot and service window specialized in takeout pizza, long before separate pizza shops become the norm. In the 1950's, pizza was more less limited to the Brass Rail and the Paddock, another long time food tradition. Having gone for the Brass Rail pizza's so often, I easily recognized the back of the Philly's Sport Bar, on the Morning Call shooting video. I patronized the first restauranteur who purchased the former Brass Rail location, Wellington's, but I haven't been there for years. Reading the article yesterday, I felt sorry for the new owner. He is petrified that his Philly's Sport Bar will be classified as a nuisance bar, and shut down. He, as were the owners of other "nuisance" bars and clubs, are also victims; They are the victims of what this town has become, and who the businesses are reduced to dealing with.

Apr 9, 2010

Bulldozer Coming to the Parkway

As an defender of the Allentown Park System, Wednesday evening's City Council meeting was profoundly disappointing. As a native, being disappointed by our own Park Director and our own City Council, only adds to the exasperation. Imagine listening to Greg Weiztel, here in town for three years now, tell Council that this plan will improve property values in Allentown. Greg should tell that to the descendent of General Trexler, who lived on Honochick Drive across from Cedar Park. She already sold her house and moved in disgust. Greg, nobody wants to hear that their house will be worth more when a hundred times more strangers bicycle by, except City Council.

As Weitzel, from where-ever, regurgitated that nonsense from the Greenway Trail plan salesman's pitch, (whose based in North Carolina) he found willing ears on Julio Guridy.
''I think our role as council is to leave the city in a better place than we found it, and I think this plan does that,'' said Councilman Julio Guridy.

On Wednesday, in addition to approving the general plan, Council approved the segment in Lehigh Parkway. Weiztel and Guridy are going to make Lehigh Parkway better.

Apr 8, 2010

The End Of An Era

Much like this postcard showing Robin Hood in the 50's, the golden era of our park system ended last night. City Council voted 5 to 2 to pass The Trail Network Plan. Although reassurances were given at previous park meetings that all components of the plan would receive public input, last night council also approved two components (Lehigh Parkway and Martin Luther King Drive sections) of the overall plan, putting the proverbial cart in front of the horse, with no public input what so ever. Weitzel and the Administration told Council that the plan would take decades to implement, yet it needed passage immediately last evening? Council Peter Schweyer told new EAC member Andrew Kleiner that any plan could be held up with concerns from him, but after Andrew expressed concerns, Schweyer still voted yes. Council conceded that the Mayor generally keeps them out of the loop regarding the City; that Cedar Creek Plans got away from them, yet voted yes knowing that the paths already implemented at Cedar Park degraded that park. While the no votes came from Donovan and Eichenwald, Schweyer provided both the most hope and disappointment. On the plus side he introduced an amendment which would examine the 20 separate components of the plan in the future. Had they considered rejecting the overall plan and instead treated each component as a separate plan needing approval, they would have achieved the control they lost at Cedar Park. Most disappointing was statements by Schweyer and Guridy that they favor the plan so the park system evolves into something special in the future. Our separate parks are something very special right now. The challenge, especially with this Administration and Park Director, will be preserving what we got.

related articles
O'Hare's Ramblings
Renshaw/The Morning Call
Kleiner's Remember

Apr 7, 2010

Whose Parks Are They?

Denise Sanchez/The Morning Call/April 4, 2010

Shown above, Luciana Martucci, with her Barbie fishing pole, teaches her daddy how to fish in an Allentown park. Luciana is concerned that the Trail Network Plan will encourage many additional bicyclists, going much faster, which will make watching her daddy more difficult; He tends to wander when they walk on the paths. She doesn't understand why the paths are going to be dug up and paved to accommodate one particular set of users, at the expense of all others.

The parks are a nationally recognized heritage of all Allentonians, from one generation to the next. No one Administration, or set of Trustee's, is entitled to impose irreversible changes in its design or use.

photocredit:Denise Sanchez/The Morning Call/April 4, 2010

Apr 6, 2010

The Pride Of Allentown

After The Morning Call prints one of my articles on the parks, as they did yesterday, the phone always rings. Many of the calls are from older people, who always explain that they don't use a computer, or go to meetings, but appreciate what I'm doing. One of calls yesterday was especially gratifying. Anne Laubach Neitz lived on the second floor of the stone park house at Ott and Parkway Blvd. Her father was George J. Laubach, Superintendent of Allentown Parks. He was a hands on guy who worked in the park system his entire career, becoming Director in the 1950's. He took enormous pride when Look Magazine named Allentown one of the best park systems in the United States. Ann couldn't understand what these new paths were for. I explained that the path was being built to accommodate the LifeTrail Wellness Stations, created by Playworld Systems. It upset her, thinking about the pride her father took in the beauty of the park.

The new paths in Cedar Park demonstrate that constructing paths in either a environmentally, or aesthetically sensitive way, are not criterions of this park administration. Five years ago the Trexler Trust found it necessary to take the City to court, to make sure their funds were being properly used. Now, I believe City Council must likewise use it's NO VOTE, to ensure that our Park System is being properly preserved.

Apr 4, 2010

French Hill

French Hill went straight up from the old mill along the Nashua River, in Nashua, New Hampshire. It was always a poor neighborhood, housing mill workers and immigrants going back over a hundred years. Almost all the buildings on the narrow streets were wood, except the churches. The name came from the many French Canadians drawn there to work. I lived on the Hill during the early 1970's, on the top floor of a triplex.

The old wooden three unit was heated by gas space heaters and the whole building would rumble and shake when a vehicle came down the street. In the morning I would walk down the hill, through the mill property and over a pedestrian bridge to the old main street, where I worked in a photography store. A google search tells me that the neighborhood now houses street gangs. Nashua is right over the border from Massachusetts, yet I would have never imagined such urban problems reaching so far north.

Tomorrow, I will begin beating the drum for help defending the parks at the council meeting Wednesday evening, please join me.

Apr 3, 2010

Sheftel & Malenovsky

In 1920, two brother- in-laws, bought a truck and started dealing in cloth scraps from the many sewing factories in the Lehigh Valley. By 1950 the firm was called A. Sheftel and Sons, but scattered throughout the valley, were still buildings with the older Sheftel and Malenovsky banner painted on the side. Other families also traded in the by-products from the large local needle trade industry, mainly the Levines and Pearlmans. Although the factories declined locally, the Sheftel sons grew the business nationally, and today it is operated by the third generation. In the minds of old timers, the Sheftels and Malenovskys are still linked. By coincidence, less than 24 hours after a previous posting concerning my maternal grandfather's citizenship paper, I received a call from the Sheftel family. They had no real knowledge of me, much less my blog. They had discovered, that in their possession, was a copy of my paternal grandfather's citizenship paper, Aaron Moloviensky. My family, in the 1930's had attempted to "Americanize" our name, by changing it from Moloviensky to Molovinsky, it didn't work. Apparently, at sometime in the past, after a local Jewish History exhibit, someone had placed the Moloviensky document in the Sheftel-Malenovsky folder.

reprinted form Dec. 26, 2007

Apr 2, 2010

Parkway Memories

We who lived in the Parkway during the 1950's have a special bond. We know we grew up in one of the most nurturing neighborhoods possible. Slow driving parents would keep a sharp eye out for dashing kids. The Halloween Parade would start and end at our own elementary School. The Easter Egg Hunt would take place on a open slope of our beloved park.

Apr 1, 2010

Andrew Kleiner Appointment

Andrew Kleiner, author of the blog Remember, which concentrates on the Allentown Park System, has been appointed to the Mayor's Environmental Advisory Council. I have criticized this group for not speaking out against the myriad of new park plans, which are not environmentally sound. Andrew has noted that the paving of the paths in Cedar Park are not in compliance with the guidelines issued by the State. Other groups which have remained silent include Friends Of The Parks and the Wildlands Conservancy. Andrew's appointment will go in front of City Council next Wednesday for approval, along with three votes on paths; Lehigh Parkway, Martin Luther King Parkway and the Trail Network Plan.

Addendum:R16MLK&LittleLehighParkwayTrail is news to me. The federal grant was supposedly to used for signs and yellow painted bike lanes on streets.  It appears that they are passing two components of the trail Network Plan at the same time as the Plan itself.  This is an end run by Weiztel, in violation of the promise that no new trail would be built without input from both the public and Council. Council has apparently agreed to pass the first and second readings the same night, in committee at 7:00 and then final vote in meeting at 7:30, never a good sign for Allentonians.

Double Down(Towns)

People often speculate as to why Bethlehem now is a destination, while, too often, Allentown is considered a place to avoid. The long answer will not fit within this short post, but here may be a few reasons. Bethlehem had two downtown's, on both sides of the river. While downtown Allentown certainly was the premier shopping area for the Lehigh Valley prior to the malls, it may have become a victim to over-planning. In the late 60's, early 70's, Allentown attempted to compete with the suburban malls by building a canopy on Hamilton Street. The viability of Hamilton Street was extended for a few years, but the magnetism of Hess's could well have been the reason. Bethlehem also built a pedestrian mall on Broad Street, but the historical quaintness of Main Street remained. Although the commerce in it's southside business district languished, the architecture remained. By the time Allentown removed the canopies in the late 90's, the architecture of it's buildings had long been bisected and altered. As historical became chic, Bethlehem profited from having done less in the past.

It's southside business district is a time capsule, architecturally unchanged since the turn of the last century. It now is becoming a mix of boutiques and bistros in a fashionable historic setting. Last, but not least, Bethlehem benefited from consistency of developmental leadership. While Allentown has had a succession of Economic Directors, Tony Hanna, with benefit of his institutional memory, has led Bethlehem for many years.

Shown at the top is pop up photo matches from the 1930's, promoting Julian Goldman's Fine Clothes For The Family on the South Side, East Third Street. Also shown is Tony Hanna, along side of the former Goodman Furniture Store.