Aug 26, 2011

Arena Gets Press Pass


The Mayor must be happy with the series of Morning Call feature articles about his palace of sport. Although written by two reporters, there is not one critical word. The articles gloss over the fact that the arena has grown from a $80 million project to now include an event center, and a price tag of $175 million. This has occurred before the first shovel of dirt has been lifted, or the first word of public input. Speaking of dirt, none has been disclosed. Last month, the displaced merchants were dismissed as selling "discount" clothes and "cheap" electronics. Visit Target in South Whitehall, and see the men's shirts for $4.99. While in the western suburb, stop in at the AT&T by Starbucks, and get a GO phone for $9.95, we're all discount consumers. The articles might have included the expense of Pawlowski's previous location at the river-front. There, we stole the Neuweiler Brewery from the lawful owner, but paid $800,000 for the garage behind it, owned by a roofer. We also purchased a furniture plant further south on Front Street, taking all three properties off the tax rolls. Talking of taxes, in the fine print, Pat Browne discloses that property taxes can be used for Pawlowski's Palace of Sport, if necessary. I suspect as this project seems to know no limits, it will be necessary. How will earned income tax from the poorest section of Allentown pay the debt service on a $200 million dollar bond? At some point in time, the arena will get very expensive for the taxpayers. Other municipalities have learned, just because you build it, it doesn't mean that they will come. Competition for entertainment dollars is stiff. Don't be fooled by the enthusiasm of a team owner or an arena operator, it's not their money. In early presentations we were sacrificing the merchants, we're now gambling our taxes, which currently go for needed public service. As it becomes necessary to use the property taxes for the arena, will the city, county and school districts cut back their budgets? Due diligence and public discussion may have anticipated that this plan may well result in tax increases, as the current taxes are siphoned off for debt service. But there was no public discussion, nor even scrutiny by the press.

Bernie O'Hare received an advance copy of this post, and is preparing a sequel for next week

UPDATE: molovinsky on allentown exclusive; The Neighborhood Improvement Zone Map

48 comments:

binzley said...

When all is said and done, a few men will gain most of the $175 million. If no one sees this as a transfer of wealth from the tax payers to the few, well I guess if you have flies in your eyes, you cannot see the flies in your eyes.

Anonymous said...

"EXPLAIN IT TO ME : WHY ARE WE FINANCING STADIUMS?"

by Kristina Gostomski
THE MORNING CALL
April 22, 2009

Don't see articles like these anymore in the local paper ...

binzley said...

we are financing stadiums because Ed Snider is smarter than the voters of Allentown.

Anonymous said...

We must have faith in the job creators. They will use are taxes wisely. It is better that the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers get our money than those who refuse to work for a living.

Anonymous said...

In this debt ridden violent city,
with our troubled school system and economy still floundering, The people running this city feel NOW is the time to drop a couple hundred million dollars on at temple for sports?
Were sports programs removed from our schools curricula?
Shameful behavior.
This will forever shape my view of politics.
A real education.

Local said...

The Morning Call building is in it, but their parking deck is not?
And the medical businesses across from Sacred Heart Hospital?
What?

Anonymous said...

F.Y.I. --- Comrade Binzley and Comrade 4:09 :

You both do realize that it is THE BROOKS GROUP (based out of Pittsburgh) who own the AHL's Phantoms now playing in Adirondack, New York --- and not ED SNIDER of the Philadelphia Flyers, right?

You both do realize that an AHL team signs a specified contract to operate as the farm club of any given NHL club and, as history clearly shows, affiliations can and will change quite often, right?

The blind and incessant hatred of "the Rich", in this case Flyers owner Snider, as well as lack of basic hockey knowledge is rather amusing, if only to me.

VIKTOR TIKHONOV

an old dutchman said...

I have been reading Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and I learned that in 410 A.D. Alaric the Visigoth king had his men bribe the emperor, Attalus, to enlarge the Coliseum so that there could be more games and the men of Rome would be distracted while he sacked the city.

binzley said...

Victor: Who do you think owns the majority interest in The Brooks Group? Insults r u.

Anonymous said...

It is even worse than I thought. The rich guys in Pittsburgh get the free arena?

John P. Chapkovich said...

Mike, I don't know about the status of the Goodmans and the old furniture plant any longer. I do know that as soon as they inked the deal for the new building on Downyflake Lane that the City came after them for their properties.

What should be mentioned about the Able roofing property is the fact that when I was involved with the brewery property in front that the owner at one point had compiled evidence of the roofers illegal disposal of environmental hazards and that when the evidence was to be presented to the City that he was not only arrested, for issues regarding the building, but the evidence was just disregarded. That property would stockpile environmental hazards in the back and then when the pile got large enough a large dump truck with a front end loader would show up. A bunch of work would go on out back and "poof" no pile of garbage. Also, when he would do slate roofing (which is covered in petroleum) he would just dump it on the rear of the property and when the piles would get high, he would level the property off, even into the railbed in the rear. (anyone that doesn't believe me on this one, go take a walk on the rails behind the property you will see it).

Something I don't know if you were aware of or not, is that the City also got possession of the old ribbon works across the street from the brewery, this is after they hammered the owners of that property to board all the windows to keep people out.

Their policy seems to be to make it seem like they are playing fair but all the while they plot to shove the knife in your back. I believe the property owners and merchants on the hockey block are already experiencing this. They need to watch everything the City does. I know with the brewery they even sent the property to Sheriff's Sale at one point without even letting the owner know, luckily I found out from a source what was going on and was able to let the owner know.

For anyone at all that thinks that anyone involved in this project has ANY sort of compassion for anyone in these properties is naive at best. They will be your buddy as they are stealing everything you have. How do I know this? They did it to me with the brewery property. No compassion and no regard for the law. Ever hear you can't fight City Hall? they firmly believe it and no one has the guts to do it, I tried to find someone and failed.

binzley said...

Does anyone have a list of Pawlowski's campaign contributors?

steelbreast said...

The more I think about this super arena project the more I worry. I know the mayor is sincere in wanting to return the city to its days of hess brothers and leh's but really this seems to be a desperate attempt. It is too big, too expensive and will not help us, the people who live here. My fear is that once built we will be saddled with debt, or lack of tax revenues due to the redirection of taxes to pay the bondholders (binzley is right about this as a transfer of wealth to the moneyed class) and that vast empty spaces will be places of crime and loitering. I remember how Underground Atlanta was going to save that city and it turned into a nightmare and has since been demolished.

John P. Chapkovich said...

Pawlowski has no interest in making Allentown into how it was in its heydey, his interest at this point is self-serving to make himself look good. He has no interest in benefiting the citizens of Allentown other than himself and his friends. That has been abundantly clear.

Allentown's infrastructure is crumbling around us. We have failing utility lines (gas pipes, water, etc.), the building stock is worsening, industry has all but left, our school system is failing, and the roads and bridges are beginning to fail.

What is the City's answer? How about we build a sports center? For someone that formerly headed the economic development department, he sure seems to have no clue.

Anonymous said...

I know what will bring the suburbanites downtown----better infrastructure. There is nothing like solid water and gas pipes to attract those with disposable income.

an old dutchman said...

I have an idea. If we are truly serious about attracting folk downtown forget about hockey. Have you been to Penn's Landing in Philly lately? No sports but a lot of visitors spending money. There is a casino and two high quality strip clubs.

Let's go one better. Legalize prostitution and float a bond to build a high quality red light district. It will bring men and a few women with money downtown. I am sure they will want to eat at a quality restaurant after they indulge in the Queen city's finest!

ironpigpen said...

Comrade Binzley,

I can't seem to recall, what political party does Chairman Pawlowski and the overwhelming majority of the Politburo, oops, I meant rubber-stamp Allentown City Council, belong to?

You and your ilk rant on about 'wealth transfer', but I thought DEMOCRATS were supposed to be the champion of the working class and the poor, the so-called little guy?

So I am very confused here. I thought the good-guy Democrats owned Allentown and only did cool things like building multi-cultural playgrounds to combat racism. Please help a foreigner out and explain this to me in between standard venomous assaults on "the Rich".

VIKTOR TIKHONOV

Anonymous said...

Aside from the issues of who benefits from this whole fiasco, what I find particularly pathetic is the complete lack of clarity about the issue on the part of The Mayor and City Council.

They seem to think they know better than what they consider the unwashed i.e. the citizens of Allentown. Puck them!

It is disgusting. I for one have lost complete faith in any of the idiots at city hall. This includes the mayor, his staff, adjunct development agencies and of course city clowncil.

Cannot wait for my business to be done and I can move to a friendlier area. I believe a pox has overtaken city government in Allentown.

Disgusted.

binzley said...

IronPigPen: I believe in a God who draws with crooked lines. In your zeal to demonize me you may have missed some of the lines.

Anonymous said...

The Democrat's DID their duty on behalf of the city's 'poor.' Just prior to announcing the proposal for the arena project City Council unanimously approved a stipulation that all construction projects in the city without limits would have to be "prevailing wage", i.e., Union wage.

Now it is the taxpaying public who can get poor.

Without doubt the Union leadership and their members were carefully informed as to which politicians belonging to the Democrat Pary voted for this stipulation.

binzley said...

RE: prevailing wage. First it is a state law and a federal requirement if federal funds are used. Second it seems only fair that laborers and construction workers get paid when the owners of the construction companies make huge profits. Again why penalize the local worker who pays taxes while the owner makes huge profits? ( I know the rich make better use of their money than an electrician or construction worker.)

an old dutchman said...

I have been thinking again. I know that is dangerous. I am responding to anon 4:37's comment about unions. I am sure that the current recession that has led to millions of lost jobs was caused by the unionized teachers and their colleagues in the construction business. If the working man and woman were not unionized then the Wall Street debacle of 2008 would never have happened. We would not have had a recession at all. Those unionized truck drivers are responsible for the mortgage crisis. The firemen and police who are unionized are the reason that AIG needed a bailout and Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. I am sure of this.

Anonymous said...

MM, you might want to reconsider that EXCLUSIVE headline on your NIZ map. That Map ran in The Morning Call on Aug. 16 when Scott Kraus wrote one of his numerous stories on the zone. Hardly an exclusive. Just thought you should know.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:04, i have the August 16 paper in front of me. the illustration used on page 2 shows a similar map of center city, with photographs of four properties inserted. it does not show the outline of the improvement zone(s). the map i posted has never appeared (yet) in the morning call, however, it now is viewable on two other blogs.

ironpigpen said...

Comrade Binzley,

You speak of demonization.

"Pot Calls Kettle Black"

Why does this old phrase seem to be prominent in my mind at this precise moment in time?

Here is another phrase for you :

"Shooting Fish In A Barrel"

Yawn, good night. Sleep tight. Don't let those evil, greedy "Rich" people bite.

VIKTOR TIKHONOV

Anonymous said...

MM: My mistake. There were actually TWO maps in The Morning Call on the zone. The first one ran Aug. 16, but they obviously didn't have all the sites fleshed out. A larger one and much nicer one than the one the city gave you ran on Aug. 16, showing where all the properties were. So I guess it's an update for you, but more than a week late for Morning Call readers.

Anonymous said...

MM, sorry, the storm must be affecting you. The Morning Call ran maps on Aug. 16 and Aug. 18. Plus, a story in today's paper detailing what the zone is all about. Pretty good reporting, wouldn't you agree?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:28, i receive the hard copy paper. although the morning call articles had rather elaborate illustrations, the official zone map, produced here, did not appear in the paper.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:27, yes, i am affected by the storm. i have NOT received today's paper. the purpose of this post is my dissatisfaction with the paper's coverage. although the articles have been informative, they could have been written by the city's public relations people. arena' are failing all over the country. current municipal thinking is against them as revitalization projects. where is the morning call with any downside? why are they working the pump for pawlowski?

michael molovinsky said...

I just read today's morning call cheerleader piece. again, they ignore the important premise of this post. if private investors are allowed to reap the tax for their debt service, that is less for the arena' debt service. the more private investors, the more tax increases will be levied on homeowners to pay for the arena.

Anonymous said...

Seems FDAA has switched to anonymous posts.

The article in today's paper, which while I was reading, kept asking myself - Is this about Allentown or some other city?, is beyond belief.

Am I in a time warp with the economy or is someone got a treasury department printing press they are going to loan to these characters?

It seems no one related to this issue is having any problem with financing and never questions whether businesses want to come into Allentown or not.

Every day this whole issue makes less sense. What is evident is that apparently someone has been leaking the plans to the likes of Reilly and Butz so they can make their moves early.

All at the expense of the merchants, who thrived in the downtown area when others did not want to have anything to do with it - no grants needed. Now they all want to bail on them.

Browne is a huge disappointment. BTW where is Mann on all of this, she coauthored the legislation, didn't she?

What a scam. May be like the non sequitur of a playground - "Playground for the kids of Allentown". Uh-huh!

Chumscrubber

Anonymous said...

The sole reason for my comment is to point out that your map, while officially from the city, is not an exclusive as you claim. I just wanted you and your readers to be aware of that. Your issues with The Morning Call reporting are transparent. Their reporting does not coincide with your obvious agenda with the city so you think it's lacking. Most fair-minded people think their stories are not cheerleader stories. In fact, the administration is pissed about the stories so they must be doing something right. An objective observer would see that.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 11:26, if i had an agenda, it was simply that the taxpayers of allentown be made aware that they may be encumbered with paying for a white elephant. how "exclusive" the map may be is a minor point. this blog takes pride in presenting both information and a point of view not seen in the paper.

LVCI said...

Questions?
I can understand how this benefits:
- The owner of Phantoms,
- The building contractors and demolition crews,
- Building material suppliers,
- The investment developers,
- Property owners who are willing to sell,
- Spectacor,
- Suppliers of food and souvenirs
- Design engineers
- The planners who did these studies,
- etc.

My questions are:
How will this benefit citizen property owners (taxpayers)?
Will it lower residents property taxes?
Will the city see revenue gains?
Will the school district benefit (taxes)?
If this future revenue goes "poof", who's going to be on the hook?

Why didn't anyone who got their hands on first hand FACTUAL info or the study release it?
WHY NOT?
Like Ronnie said, "Trust, but verify"

Anonymous said...

11:26 - You're real point is? Were you assigned to this blog by someone?

ironpigpen said...

Anon 11:26 says :

"Most fair-minded people think their stories are not cheerleader stories."

Does Anon 11:26 have any hard evidence, like some polling data (made-up or otherwise), to support such a statement and can they graciously provide a link to so that other objective observers might have the opportunity for independent verificaion?

I contend that The Morning Call could NEVER conduct a genuine, manipulation-free poll of Allentown city residents / taxpayers and publish the actual results with respect to the Palace of Sport being brought to you by Chairman Pawlowski and his rubber-stamp Politburo.

For one simple reason which should be obvious to all.

In fact, I hereby publically challenge TMC to gather up whatever shred of credibility they think they have left and prove otherwise immediately.

Every now and then, it really does become time to 'put up or shut up' ... so, I say, start the music and let's see who wants to dance to what songs, TMC.

Got courage (to speak nothing of journalistic integrity)?

ROLF OELER

Local said...

August 28, 2011 11:26 AM
If you were a taxpayer, I would say that you are delusional,
but you are obviously the mayor or a minion so I'll just call you a liar.
You are NOT objective and have no idea what MOST people think.
MOST people were NEVER consulted.

binzley said...

LVCI has the right questions. The taxpayers will only benefit after all the bonds are paid for and only if the hockey team and surrounding businesses make lots of money. This will take years if it happens at all. I think it is clear that this project is too big, too risky and will be a drain on the tax base for quite a long time. Why not require, as a condition of free use of the arena, that the team be called the White Elephants?

Lady Macbeth said...

As a citizen of Allentown I oppose the hockey arena for a very different reason. This city is a proud bastion of intellectual and artistic citizens. We have a great symphony, museum and several colleges. Why do we want a sport in our town that is mostly played by foreigners with no teeth and watched by men who have never read Mark Twain let alone Flaubert?

Anonymous said...

After carefully reading all comments on this sports stadium issue, it is clear to me that liberal politics have destroyed the city of Allentown and other cities in PA. It is also clear to me that they have created a monster with their welfare policies and realize that there is no going back, even though they are still wanting to garner votes by catering to the poor that they have helped to create over the past 50 years. They are covering their tracks by spending even more of the tax payers money to build "renewal areas"! This is not new and has been tried in all different parts on the country where the libs have been in control for many years. They can't (and don't want to) commit political suicide by eliminating poverty and the poor but want to (in their feeble way) appease business and middle to upper income classes to stay or lose the tax base from which they need to function, so they want to "displace" the poor instead, counting on the poor to travel longer distances to the polls and continue to loyally vote for their benefits! This situation was NOT created by the "rich", it was created by the Democrat politicians alone. The rich are merely taking advantage of the predicament the city is in. If the politicians were serious about improving the city, they MUST reduce poverty and crime. That would require that they privatize the schools (like the schools the politicians send their children to) and push for a better education for the minorities!
Stealth.

Anonymous said...

August 27, 2011 5:47 PM:
"why penalize the local worker who pays taxes while the owner makes huge profits"
If you are referring to "public" workers paying taxes out of their wages, where do those wages come from? Taxes, maybe?

Anonymous said...

That would require that they privatize the schools (like the schools the politicians send their children to)
Don't think so.
When has that ever happened?
What does blowing tax payer money on a BS project destined to provide profits for a miniscule portion of our community have to do with our public education system?
Just clearing the road to the third world?

Anonymous said...

"August 29, 2011 6:31 PM"
You just don't get it, do you? Allentown is falling apart because of poverty and crime. The best way to fix that is to offer a better educational system by using vouchers to offer the poor a better education. That would include private schools which the Democrats are against, except when it comes to their kids. Even then, it will take years to make the city desirable for people and business to move in again. Now, they are moving out and being replaced with poverty and crime.
Stealth.

Anonymous said...

The education assumption is that someone "can" come in and provide a viable and better alternative.

I think if and when the time comes it will be difficult to find legitimate schools for these kids to attend.

Like many day care centers, you will probably start seeing private schools on every block. This will be the true death knell of education in America.

A rape of the private system and a bleed out of the public system.

Anonymous said...

"August 29, 2011 6:31 PM"
You just don't get it, do you?

That Allentown is falling apart because of poverty and crime is a simplistic statement that disregards a myriad of other reasons "Allentown is falling apart."
In a true Beckian fashion, the writer goes off with the fantastic statement that that the "best" fix is to issue Vouchers (what are vouchers?) that will then afford the "poor" people a "better" education.
L
These are rather large assumptions with no basis in reality. It was certainly worded as an issue regarding "class."
Then it goes on with a shot at democrats. Are only democrats - and not republicans, the wealthy, and a very few others taking on the added financial burden of sending their children to private school? Will these vouchers cover the cost of a Moravian Academy?

Then a finish by stating that even with this "best" plan that it will take years for DESIRABLE people and businesses to return.
The population of Allentown is increasing.....
News for you: the people and businesses you call desirable are NOT coming back. There are, right now, many people and businesses residing in the city with new ones arriving all the time. You just label them all less than desirable?
Many of us are certainly planning to leave this city but the educational system is clearly not the reason.

Anonymous said...

August 30, 2011 10:19 AM
August 30, 2011 8:03 AM
You misstated my use of the word "desirable" several times and don't know what "school vouchers" mean?
"Many of us are certainly planning to leave this city but the educational system is clearly not the reason."
No? It is just one of many symptoms of it's causes since we are the product of what we learn.
As I said" You just don't get it and most likely never will"! Brainwashing by the left works and the last to know, are their subjects!
Stealth.

Anonymous said...

Looks like I pushed a few HOT buttons here! Good! I just love the typical lines the libs use... "These are rather large assumptions with no basis in reality." The "reality" you speak of is all around you! Another line is...."a simplistic statement that disregards a myriad of other reasons".
What are those other reasons? I'm listening. Right now I have here, (in my sweaty little hands) a cold Yuengling and you have your kool aid! I'm ready!
Stealth.

Anonymous said...

TO: City Council
FROM:MICHAEL D’AMORE, Council President
DATE:September 6, 2011
SUBJECT:PUBLIC HEARING
Economic Development Liquor License Request.
Funny stuff - a hearing about some bar.
When was the public hearing about the hokey arena?
Does this mean that the public is going to hear about some new travesty foisted upon us?
And the punks supposedly handling the Neuweilers building travesty?
Being replaced by city thugs?
Just where the **** is all this money coming from?