Aug 10, 2011

A Sign of the Times


Apparently, while myself and another one hundred citizens were pleading with City Council during the summer of 09, the Mayor was ordering a bronze thank you card. This plaque graces the rebuilt Ott Street bridge, which bisects Allentown's Amusement Park, formally known as Cedar Beach Park. From the paddle boats on the eastern end, to the new exercise apparatus at the western end, step right up, there's something for everyone. Extra parking permitted on the grass, between the trees.

As a local history buff, I'm familiar with a few other plaques which cite the then mayor, but believe that this one, immortalizing a city council, may be the first. Of course this may be the first city council to never vote no. The amusement park is water under the bridge. Although we ordered every conceivable item available in park recreation catalogs, it's now time to save the icons of our park system, the WPA structures. Hopefully this council will want to add it's name to those monuments.

WPA Meeting September 6, 7:00pm Allentown Library, lower level. Public and City Council invited.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

That sign is almost as tacky as the BIG dopey sign on the side of the Art center's new addition.
>>>
I have performed some work on my house. May I put up a sign with my name on it to inform the world?
How about BIG, expensive letters spelling A-L-L-E-N-T-O-W-N on the side of my building - just to let folks passing by know where they are?

binzley said...

As someone who believes in honoring the edifices and constructions of the 1940s I find it interesting that you make humor at labeling new construction so that future citizens, like yourself, will be able to note it a hundred years from now.

By the way I have found some strong hard evidence on the real "poverty magnet."

stay tuned

Gary Ledebur

michael molovinsky said...

gary, fair question. the original construction bridge plaque is still there, this is an additional one, noting the refurbishing.

Anonymous said...

What is so annoying to me, is that these people are elected to public office to serve the electorate, not to imortalize themselves. Infrastructure improvements are to be expected, and if anyone is to be recognized, it is the taxpayer who ultimately pays the tab. When individual as well as communnity living conditions improve, people will remember what administration was responsible for it, without the help of some sign designed to highlight their actions. Politicians just dont seem to get it. Perhaps they never will.

Anonymous said...

Honoring the edifices and constructions of the 1940s ??
Absolutely correct.
The library is the place for that.
Note what in 100 years?
The construction date? The architect? The builders? Some history?
Or the names of some chumps on a city council.
Just look at the wall of the city council chamber.
Who were/are all of those mayors?
One hundred years ago?
Go to the library.
It is really easy rationalizing spending other peoples money on expensive signage for posterity.

michael molovinsky said...

should a plaque name those responsible for allowing the 15th st. bridge to go to ruin for lack of basic maintenance, simple paint?

Anonymous said...

all this bitching about infrastructure, signs and respecting the past.... why so much anger? Life is too short---what about anger at no jobs, cancer, terrorism, crime, global warming, famine and babies dying in Somalia?

Anonymous said...

Yes.

The babies dying in Somalia.

If the United States does not send every last penny it has and borrow even more at high interest rates on top of that and send those funds, too, immediately ...

... then we will prove to the world once and for all that we are uncaring and uncivilized, self-centered jerks.

Anonymous said...

Global warming is NOT a rent-seeking scam.

AL GORE

Nils Barris. said...

Are they going to have an Eminent Domain plaque posted outside the hockey arena?

Linas said...

Since you are a great advocate for WPA structures, would you support Allentown having a WPA like program that would provide government employment to low income, out of work individuals? Or would that contribute to the poverty magnet?

Anonymous said...

Sumner Ave Bridge, Hamilton St bridge, Tilghman St, these things are all over the place from all administrations.

Check the Ott St Bridge just across the street. You will see the original one from the old bridge too. Relax.

michael molovinsky said...

actually, we had such a program. the hamilton street cleaning crew was comprised of the underemployed, and run by a intercity pastor. that would not contribute to the poverty magnet. those attracted by themagnet didn't come seeking employment.

michael molovinsky said...

relaxed at 3:41, the post and comments disclose the other plaques, including the original ott street one. the unique aspect is the listing of council members. please advise which of the plaques you mentioned list the council member at that time.

binzley said...

MM:

still gathering data on the "poverty magnet" issue. The data seems to point to several major factors. I am afraid you are not going to like the one that seems to be emerging as the major one.

Stay tuned.

gary ledebur

michael molovinsky said...

gary, i guess you don't get it. unless your data comes from allentown, i don't find it applicable. then, unless that allentown data comes from landlords and other front liners, i won't find it credible. i would bet instead it will come from those who are cause of the magnet in their cities; from advocates for the poor and social workers. instead, let me put it into terms that you're familiar with. zahorchak uses the phrase high mobility rate to describe transients. these are the people that move from allentown, to lancaster, then to york, within one year. are they moving to find better work? what causes the high mobility rate? it's that simple, yes dorothy, there are poverty incentives, and people chase them around.

Mike Schware said...

Gary -

Yes, other signs have been put in place for bridges and buildings that were built, but I can't think of many that were placed for just maintaining the structure. I mean, really, were they just going to let the bridge languish forever and not replace it?

But as MM points out about the 15th Street bridge, maybe just keeping an existing bridge in working order is "plaque-worthy" for the current crew in City Hall. Maybe the plaque is a sign of just how low our expectations of City Hall have sunk.

Overall, I think the plaque states a desire for personal glory (at our expense) on the part of our elected officials, as well as an appalling lack of appreciation for those who truly deserve the credit - the taxpayers.

steelbreast said...

I really think your idea of the cause of the poverty rise in allentown is pretty good but I find your trashing Ledebers findings before they are presented a little defensive. Using your premise you would have to not only interview all the poor of Allentown, use lie detectors to assure they were not lying, and have control groups of middle class and rich folks to see if there is a difference only for the poor.

michael molovinsky said...

steelbreast, i have interviewed many hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the years as to why they moved to allentown. (not too many people can make that claim) my business was very dependent on the thoroughness of those questions. that said, ledebur, you or anybody else is entitled to your theory, but i prefer my experience.

binzley said...

MM: so it comes down to your interviewing skills versus empirical research. I assume you will not accept any evidence that runs counter to your conclusion. You say you interviewed people as part of your business. I know you to be a shrewd businessman. Was your product at attraction?

gary ledebur

michael molovinsky said...

gary, as you know, i was a landlord. i had a for rent ad in the paper, 7days a week, 365 days a year, for 35 years. i received calls from early in the morning to late at night,many thousands over that period. in reality my business was quite exemplary, or you would have read about it, especially as a candidate in 05. i did not deal with HUD. although I had to occasionally evict people for non-payment, i was never even accused of either negligence or discrimination. i was lobbied continuously by various social agencies to rent apartments to their clients; i respectfully declined, preferring self-sufficient tenants. my observations about the existence of a poverty magnet are based on unique experience. if you think some 6 week study by a graduate student is more valid....

Anonymous said...

Glad you're writing about plaques.
Cunningham has one on the newly rebuilt Linden Street bridge that took (it seems like) nearly 35 years to complete. It's crooked.

binzley said...

I believe you were an exemplary landlord. I even have inside information to that effect. I am positive you provided a product and service that was great desired. I imagine the word of your business spread outside the valley to others.

As to your shots at serious researchers, I doubt you have spent much time reading scholarly journals or hanging out at the Wharton School lately.

Anonymous said...

I just read the dribble from Ledeber and what a waste. He probably believes that those egg heads at universities know something. I know what causes poverty---laziness. There is no unemployment problem in America--read the want adds.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:06, i believe that there are employment problems in america, and that there is poverty. this post was about the plaque, but in a previous post about the poverty magnet, the issue is how much poverty can allentown absorb without compromising quality of life for the greater community.

monkey momma said...

"the issue is how much poverty can allentown absorb without compromising quality of life for the greater community."

Obviously, we crossed that threshold a long time ago. Poverty breeds crime and a general decline in the community, and that is what we see in Allentown, as well as many other places in America where manufacturing has declined. We're hardly alone in facing these issues.

In my view, there are three reasons for Allentown's poverty stricken status: lack of jobs, an extreme willingness to provide welfare handouts for those who ask, and (speaking frankly) too many babies being made by those already living off of public dollars.

There are a lot of good folks in A-town who want to work, but finding jobs is not as easy as anon 8:06 would have you believe. And honestly, when you DO land a job, you have to be careful not to make too much money, or else your welfare benefits will be cut. It's a delicate balancing act - often, folks find it's better for their personal income to NOT work and remain on the dole.

Our welfare system rewards young women (girls) who remain unmarried - otherwise, benefits are cut. It also rewards more and more babies - that increases your benefits. (But it also makes you significantly more unemployable.) Socially, it is a major accolade to have babies, and lots of them, on the streets and in the high schools of Allentown. (Both for the boy and the girl, it is considered very cool to be a parent. But, the mother and her family typically raise the child without a father present.)

And it is well known on the east coast that Allentown is the place to be to get maximum welfare benefits. The folks who manage welfare applications for their clients are far more experienced here than elsewhere in the area. You do not need an empirical study to prove these facts - it is just the way it is. Everyone on the street knows this, but I doubt most of the kids at Wharton know this.

I would not be so quick to label welfare recipients as lazy; rather, they are probably simply maximizing their own personal income by playing the game according to the rules our elected officials set. That is smart, and something all of us do at one level or another.

In any event, obviously this town is a poverty magnet - take a look around. The good folks who help our needy residents may be acting out of kindness and love, but the unintended consequence of the taxpayer's generosity is poverty being a growth industry here.

Linas said...

Michael, I think you should look more into idea of Allentown providing employment to people as an alternative to simply giving them things. The employment would need to be more lucrative to someone than getting government benefits though for it to be successful, and I don't know if there is enough money to do that.

michael molovinsky said...

The biggest problem facing Allentown is the poverty magnet. Although we have a responsibility to provide for the poorest among us, we likewise have an obligation to the existing homeowners to make sure those programs are not so generous that they keep attracting more and more needy to the area.

michael molovinsky, 2005, as candidate for mayor

michael molovinsky said...

linas, there are far too many very poor people in allentown for the city to consider being an employer of last resort at this point in time.

also, at this point in time, i limit myself to more obtainable objectives. i'm hoping to change the priorities of the park department and trexler trust, to preserve the WPA icons.

binzley said...

"...we likewise have an obligation to the existing homeowners to make sure those programs are not so generous that they keep attracting more and more needy to the area."

The key term is "programs." Your assumption MM is that certain "programs" are the magnet pulling the poor to Allentown. Preliminary research findings indicate that no one factor is the reason why the poor move to another area, but the major factors are not government programs but more substantial items in people's lives like jobs, homes and family.

Stay tuned as the data develops.

gary ledebur

Linas said...

The WPA icons you want to save are a symbol of a time in America that there were 'far too many very poor people,' and government stepped in to help them. Were there less percentage of poor people in Allentown during the Great Depression than today? Even if there were, the fact the problem is of a very large scale today doesn't mean it's futile to try and solve it. If giving money to poor people is not the answer, and trying to employ poor people is not the answer, what is the answer?

binzley said...

Monkey Moma says: "And it is well known on the east coast that Allentown is the place to be to get maximum welfare benefits. The folks who manage welfare applications for their clients are far more experienced here.."

I checked the census data for poverty rates. Evidently Allentown's welfare workers are not the best draw. Harrisburg has 25% poverty, Chester 27%, Lancaster 22%, York 24% and Williamsport 22% while Allentown has only an 18.5% poverty rate.

I guess Allentown's welfare workers are not as efficient as Monkey Moma claims.

gary ledebur

michael molovinsky said...

linas, keep in mind that the WPA was a federal program, not local. i support the notion of federal infrastructure funded projects, which are sorely needed, not just economically, but structurally, but i have no specifics how such a program would be funded in today's economy.

Linas said...

Michael, actually, most WPA projects were partially funded by state and local governments to various degrees.

Anyway, I would be interested in you writing a future blog post about your ideal vision for Allentown in the next 10 years if the mayor and city cousel were under your complete control. What laws would you get rid of or pass and how would Allentown look if these things happened. I think your readers would like to read that, I certainly would.

michael molovinsky said...

linas, in 05 i attended 31 different candidate events, where i elaborated on what direction this city should take. since that time i have advocated for the merchants in regard to lanta. i have advocated for the historical park system and again for the merchants in regard to the arena. you are welcome to attend my next meeting on sept. 6, concerning the wpa. you may also find the 2005 molovinsky for mayor link on the sidebar) interesting. on it you will find four links to expanded pages. otherwise, this blog station plays no requests.

binzley said...

MM: The WPA never had as its goal full employment. Its goal was that every family had at least one working adult to provide for the family. At its peak in 1938 it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men (and some women), as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration.

Would you support a national effort like this now?

gary ledebur

michael molovinsky said...

no gary i would not. as i said in comment 2:30 i do support a major investment in our bridges and infrastructure. the wpa structures exist, and our iconic in many cities, such as fairmount park in philadelphia. you keep digging for inconsistancies in my blog, i'm sure they exist. it matters little to us living here in allentown (to quote a song)

Linas said...

Michael, I think I just suffer from the ailment of youth, in that I believe in more radical changes. I like your ideas about saving the WPA icons and helping merchants and cleaning up the city, and saving tax money. Doing those things will help, but i dont know if its enough. I think for Allentown to be saved it needs radical change, of which no established politician would dare to do. Most politicians respond to immediate problems and don't look at the overall longterm picture. A perfect example is our federal government and the debt deal. Yeah, they passed a plan, but that plan doesn't really do anything to address the long term debt that will affect us decades down the road, it just is a stop gap measure.

I think Allentown politicians probably operate the same way, responding to immediate problems and not having a real vision of how to fix the major underlying problems in the city.

I'm glad you are doing something's to help the city, as that's 100% more than the average citizen does. But I still put the burden on our political leaders to think big and come up with long term plans to get rid of the major problems of society, such as poverty and crime. Maybe the answer is they just don't have the resources or money to fix these problems, but then they should be honest and say that. Ideally, our leaders should be brutally honest with us about everything, then tell us their solutions to the hard problems, then let everyone give input on other ways to solve the problems, then make a balanced decision based on all the facts, then start over if that ends up not working. That's my ideal democracy, and seeing how government currently works, that is in no way happening.

Sorry for the rant! This is my last comment.

michael molovinsky said...

linas, there's national strategy programs, such as weed and seed, that the bureaucrats (forgive that word) seem to take out of government magazines and apply, without success, to city after city. on the other hand, the recent (or current) riots and looting in england perhaps indicates that things could be much worse here. perhaps our expectations (or hopes) are too high. on a most simple level, i think brooms and clean go a long way attitude wise. back to your challenge to me the other day; i have limited influence; although i don't seem to be able to change city council's mind on things against the administration's preferences, i can assemble a hundred people and create an interest in something. with that in mind, i try for attainable goals.

Anonymous said...

"Most politicians respond to immediate problems and don't look at the overall longterm picture."
If only that were true, we tax payers would get SOME satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: The progressive Democrats MUST feed the "poor" or they lose votes and lose elections! Allentown and Center city is a disaster and we all know it. Soon, the poor will outnumber the tax payers!
Monkey Momma is right!