Jun 21, 2011

Shenanigans Continue

Although City Council has a short memory, I do not.


According to an article by Jarrett Renshaw in today's Morning Call, the long term (more than ten years) operator of the restaurant at the golf course has been out maneuvered by Mayor Pawlowski. Although his bid was identical to the successful bidder, the winner provided better answers to a questionnaire; so much for the concept of respecting an existing tenant and his track record. The new tenant, Allentown Brew Works, also has a track record with the city and taxpayers. Jarrett Renshaw writes, "The awarding of the Brew Works contract continues a long line of public support to the Allentown Brew Works, which has enjoyed more than $4.5 million in local, state and federal loans and grants to renovation and construction. The public support includes more than $90,000 in direct taxpayers support from the city of Allentown for design and facade improvements. In addition, the Allentown restaurant sits in a Keystone Opportunity Zone, which means it's exempt from most state and local taxes until 2011."
The decision was not officially made by Pawlowski, but by his five-person committee of city officials. Rumor of this shenanigan has been circulating town for several weeks.

reprinted from December 24, 2008

Since I wrote about the golf course in 2008, grants to the BrewWorks continue. We have reached over $7million dollars.*In 2009, City Council continued the KOZ tax free zone by deciding that the upper floors never benefited, and somehow it became a separate location, resetting the clock for ten more years. Anybody concerned that the BrewWork may have received preferential treatment can be reassured by our city government. On Wednesday evening, in regard to a new money for the upper floors, Councilman Julio Guridy said,* "We need to make sure people in the community know how to get that money," City Business Development Manager Ted Collins said*the city is trying to improve its outreach, but that its resources are limited. "It's my aim and interest to continue to grow this. I am six months into this position and I have already identified, along with you, that our outreach needs to improve," he said.

I'm reassured, are you?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

pref·er·en·tial (prf-rnshl)
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or giving advantage or preference: preferential treatment.
.
Was preferential treatment provided for non-residents?
The first time probably, the second time obviously!
And to put all the eggs in one basket too.....
A shameful scam.

Anonymous said...

Who is Richard Kontir?
Another non-local collecting 400 grand for another Hamilton St. project?
http://www.allentownpa.gov/Home/tabid/36/ctl/Detail/mid/1165/xmid/1190/xmfid/8/Default.aspx
How about the rest of the city?
You know: the other 118,000 of us?

Anonymous said...

Detail/mid/1165/xmid/1190/xmfid/8/Default.aspx

Monkey Momma said...

You are either connected in this city, or you're not. I'm appalled at the handling of this hockey arena, but I'm starting to realize that no amount of complaints will make a bit of difference.

The mayor has never shown himself to care what his detractors are saying. He has never acknowledged the opposition's viewpoint as being valid or reasonable. Why would he suddenly start doing so now that a hockey arena could be built downtown?? The callous disregard for these property owners is astonishing. But, I'm afraid, there's nothing we can do about it - we basically live in a dictatorship where Pawlowski gets to do whatever he wants.

And city council does nothing more than watch this atrocity from afar. Well, I guess I should thank Eichenwald for her sole dissenting vote in all this. But otherwise, Council didn't bat an eye before they took property away from the rightful owners. I honestly cannot imagine how they sleep at night.

Anonymous said...

Let's say it the way it is:

...not Preferential treatment for Brewery Works but "PRESIDENTIAL" treatment for the Fegleys..."

City Council, again, playing the innocent card when they are fully aware of the issues.

Please STOP! Lying to the public!!!
They are so transparent! Need to remove all of them - we are no fools!!!!

gary ledebur said...

"....Allentown Brew Works, which has enjoyed more than $4.5 million in local, state and federal loans and grants to renovation and construction."

What business deserves this kind of support? What is behind this gross munificence?

Monkey Momma said...

"What business deserves this kind of support? What is behind this gross munificence?"

The theory is that the BrewWorks saved downtown Bethlehem. Seriously - this is what people think. Now I will say that I love the BrewWorks and their products. I visit often. But downtown Bethlehem was "saved" by much more than the BrewWorks. A perfect storm happened: Musikfest, a cute Downtown with reverence for history, Moravian bookstore, excellent restaurants and super expensive colleges nearby.

But, some would say the BrewWorks tied everything together and brought about the renaissance in Bethlehem. That is why the Fegleys are the darlings of our local governments.

Like I said, I love the BrewWorks and am a regular, but the amount of money we've spent on that one institution could have been used to develop beautiful facades all up and down Hamilton street. Or, it could have funded any project that benefits a wide variety of businesses and not just one.

Oh well, if you're "in" with this crowd, you've got it made, as any Fegley can attest. TODD Collins can attest all he wants to the level playing field, but any observer can plainly see that favoritism is alive and well in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

"grants to the BrewWorks continue. We have reached over $7 million dollars."

This statement is absolutely false. the majority of the $7 million figure has been received in the form of loans which are being paid back regularly.

gary ledebur said...

...so the motivation by the officials is pure? Is there no quid pro quo? .. campaign contributions? Somebody must be personally benefiting for this kind of money. Or perhaps the politicians in Allentown are above that stuff.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:37, i know that HUD loans can be forgiven. how much is being repaid, and at what schedule i suspect would require a forensic accountant. how strange to renew the KOZ for the upper floors, because the KOZ on the lower floors was expiring. How strange to apply under a blighted property loan vehicle after all that public money was loaned or granted. how strange to still be coming to the well after all that money, and stranger still to be given more.

Anonymous said...

AND throwing more money at an establishment that pushes alcohol.
Alcohol and a violent sports arena.
A windfall for the parking authority and plenty of DUI's
That will fix this city.

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

Was the KOZ renewed for the entire building?

If not, how does the KOZ get renewed for the upper floors and not the lower floors? Does this mean that the Brew Works must now pay real estate taxes on the lower floors?

michael molovinsky said...

they are trying to say that the upper floors are now tax free, while the lower must pay. i would think that the building would have to have been made into separate spaces by deed, such as with condominiums. as i said before, shenanigans...

Anonymous said...

"i would think that the building would have to have been made into separate spaces by deed, such as with condominiums."

Nonsense. That's like saying someone can't write off their home office because they use the bathroom down the hall. It's perfectly legit.

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

I just went on the Lehigh County assessment website. 812 W. Hamilton Street is listed as 4 separate parcels. Perhaps truth is stranger than fiction.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 11:17, i would have supposed that unless the property was legally sub-divided, the tax office could only send one bill, and that the owner of record would not be entitled to assign separate values himself to the different floors. i do agree with the word "nonsense"

Patrick McHenry said...

No matter what you think about the Brew Works I think it's fair to question whether putting all those eggs into the Brew Works basket is a wise move.

What are the metrics or criteria to determine if the original Brew Works investment would be considered a success? Have those criteria been met? Do the results justify additional inverstment?

What are the criteria to determine if the amount of the new loan is worthwhile? Does the additional investment (in the form of a loan) at that location make sense?

Those measurement criteria might be the best kept secret in City Hall. My guess is that there have never been any criteria established to measure the success or failure of putting the taxpayers' money on the line.

I would argue that there is no shortage of office space on that block (and others) of Hamilton that could be built-out for a 17 person engineering firm for much less risk (to public funds) than what will be needed to put it in the Brew Works building.

Patrick McHenry said...

In addition, we constantly hear about how much of their own money the Fegley's are putting into the building. However, I don't think that City Council has ever asked how much of that personal investment is also in the form of additional (private) loans.

I think it's very apparent that the taxpayers have much more risk in that property than the owners do. It's also very apparent that City Council doesn't have enough of a clue to ask the questions they should be asking to protect the taxpayers.

ironpigpen said...

So, who has got the guts to publically admit they actually voted to re-elect Chairman Pawlowski.

Who has got the guts to publically state they voted for Apparatchiks like the (not-so in my eyes) esteemed Councilman Donovan?

SOMEBODY voted for these people.

I got the guts to state it most certainly was not I, although I do retain the flying telling me to vote the straight Democrat ticket for occasions such as these.

Because elections DO have consequences.

But, whatever.

When is the exciting first ice hockey contest at the Palace of Sport?

ironpigpen said...

"flier"

song (point) remains the same

"WE'RE ON THE ROAD TO NOWHERE"

Anonymous said...

http://f-allentown.blogspot.com/2008/01/official-ppl-put-pressure-on-firm.html


Brew Jerks is a drop in the bucket compared to the thieves at PPL. Very simple calculations suggest that over the life of the KOZ treatment afforded to PPL Energy Plus by Ed Pawlowski, the City of Hamilton Street will be denied in the neighborhood of $500 Million. Perhaps the Fegleys are a calculated distraction? I'm sorry but I continue to very, very strongly dislike Ed Pawlowski - that will never change - he's a liar.

Anonymous said...

The infrastructure crumbles around us while king ed fiddles.

Anonymous said...

one of the heads of the beast spews....
http://allentowngoodnews.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

When I voted in May I saw a poll worker in Allentown with "Vote for the real Democrats" slate cards; when I asked her why I would want to do that she was genuinely perplexed.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

If the Brew Works can separate its floors into KOZ zones, why can't others? We;ll soon have a city without limits that includes no business taxes at all.

Imagine the group that devised this plan. Was this the "intent" of KOZ taxfree zones?

Anonymous said...

We need a banker. How long does it take to pay back $$7 AM.

Anonymous said...
"grants to the BrewWorks continue. We have reached over $7 million dollars."

This statement is absolutely false. the majority of the $7 million figure has been received in the form of loans which are being paid back regularly.

June 21, 2011 8:37 AM

michael molovinsky said...

anon 7:14, the sub-division here was a shenanigan. although it's done elsewhere to sell different area's to different owners, such as with condominiums. this was done to extend the KOZ beyond the initial term. if the sub-division occurred after the initial KOZ on the building, it's illegal in addition to be improper.

Anonymous said...

Where in the world can a business receive 7 million loans and grants that is not secured by business/private collateral-ALLENTOWN! COME ON EVERYONE! LET SAY ALLENTOWN! I am beyond myself as a Allentown business owner that this shenanigan is being played out before our eyes!

ALFONSO TODD said...

I told City employees and Ms. Marin years ago that the dissemination of information was not getting into the surrounding communities. The more we connect the dots, the more we see why. The small businesses obtain CRUMBS and LINT compared to those in the KNOW and in "THOSE CIRCLES".... SMH

- Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

Where's the Morning Call in all this? Where's Carpenter? Where's White? Heck, can't Keith Groller write about this? After all, this is part of the corruption we now see in the hockey rink. Perhaps the Morning Call will become a 'sponsor' of the Brew Works, just like it did the Pig Ironheads.

Different location Same Story said...

It has been over two years since the Brew Works won(?) the bid for the restaurant concession at the golf course. Perhaps someone from the Morning Call could investigate these past few years. They promised $200,000 in improvements to the building. They must have $170,000 hidden behind the bar! The previous operator asked for improvements in the kitchen area, basic repairs to the stonework on the porch,and begged the Manager to have a sign on Tilghman St. He actually had a higher bid than ABW, but, after eleven years of complaint free operation, was given less that ten days to completely vacate the property. The new operator didn't touch the place for over three months and didn't actually open until May. Surprisingly enough, there was a new kitchen and bar area floor, the porch was repaired, a Brew Works sign is prominently displayed on Tilghman Street, and the flowers around the new restaurant rival the grounds at Augusta National. I wonder who paid for all of these improvements? Who paid for the permanent tent that was supposed to host corporate outings and weddings? Weddings????
How many tournaments have decided to go elsewhere after playing because of the mediocre food and service provided at country club prices? How does $18 for a six pack of beer sound?
The contract also stated that the porch could only be used after dusk for restaurant dining. I can only surmise that Mr Fegley decided to ignore that part and the "Golf Manager" isn't around enough to know or care that golfers are having to run through an obstacle course of tables to get to the Pro Shop and locker room. Perhaps if the tables were down at the range where he gives golf lessons on city time, he would notice.

The KOZ fiasco for the upper floors of the ABW is just another example of the arrogance of our Mayor. How blatant does this guys favoritism have to be before someone investigates? I hope that the FBI comes here after they are finished cleaning up Lackawanna County.