Aug 25, 2011

New Twist To Arena Dance

It's not easy being a student of the arena project, there's no text book, and the lectures are not announced. Although State Senator Pat Brown did recently reveal that property taxes could be utilized in a pinch, even the local taxing bodies were kept out of the loop. Thanks to Morning Call reporter Adam Clark, we now learn that this secretive scheme, known as the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), can be used by private investors. Real estate investor J.B. Reilly can use taxes generated on his newly acquired properties to make payments on a $20 million dollar loan. Although Reilly has owned a building across from the arena for over a decade, he has been acquiring additional property in the area. City Hall has claimed that secrecy was necessary to acquire real estate in the target block for the public good. Apparently, this policy has profited some select individuals as well.

Cubby Checker introduced a new song and dance in the early 60's called the Twist.

27 comments:

binzley said...

Although many readers of this blog hate to hear that the rich and powerful are really calling the shots in our economy, and they are doing so at the expense of the middle class, here is another example.

Ed Snider, the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, and a multimillionaire businessman, has rigged the game to get an arena for his hockey team at no expense for him.

J.B. Reilly, another multimillionaire businessman, has rigged the system to get valuable property to develop at little or no expense to him.

The bond attorneys will get huge fees. The contractors will get huge contracts. . The bankers will male serious profits and the rich in the West End will get richer.

When all is settled and done there may be some economic revitalization for the city but assuredly there will be a significant transfer of wealth from the middle class taxpayers to the moneyed interests who live in the suburbs.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, i don't accuse, nor do i believe that reilly rigged the system. i do believe that the public has not received proper information or had the opportunity for input. for one property owner to profit, while others lose their businesses under the threat of eminent domain, continues allentown's pattern of fostering an unequal playing field.

Anonymous said...

Shameful behavior.
This is going to further trash our city.
What kind of criminals spend 80? 100, 170, or likely at least a couple hundred million dollars with an attitude like "you all elected us to spend your money any way we see fit".
Is this REALLY how government should work?
Shameful.

LVCI said...

"..the rich in the West End will get richer."

Define "rich", compared to what?
Define Westend?

I'm constantly hearing this mantra. Except for maybe 50 homes, almost none of we Westenders have the kind of money you'll find in every surrounding suburb to the East/West/North/South of the city limits.

I live in the deep Westend and the wife and I live on less then $35,000 a year.

Check out where these "wealthy" business people actually live. Show me exactly where these "rich" do live. The vast majority AREN'T LIVING IN ALLENTOWN.

Sorry, it's one of my buttons that gets pushed every once an while.

ironpigpen said...

Binzley,

Please detail exactly how "the Rich" in "the West End" will be 'getting rich' from the arrival of the Politburo's Pucksters at the Pawlowski Palace of Sport?

Time to put up or shut up, (should be committed) Progressive Liberal Class Warrior.

I anxiously await.

Anonymous said...

"..the rich in the West End will get richer."

I think you mean the rich in the suburbs will get richer. Lee Butz lives in Parkland, JB Reilly lives in Saucon Valley etc., etc. Today's West End is not what it was in the past. The home values are moderate compared to the suburbs and you have mostly elderly and young childless couples.

michael molovinsky said...

the topic of this post was the lack of public information and input about every aspect of the project.
1. should we have it
2. where it should be
3. fairness of implementation

i reserve the right to discard off topic comments, especially on class warfare and other repetitive harpings.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Just so none of you think this is secretive. Here is the legislation. BTW it is public. Nothing is being hidden. They are doing exactly what they are allowed to by law. Just because you don't do the research doesn't mean that it is a secret.

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/billinfo/billinfo.cfm?syear=2009&sind=0&body=H&type=B&BN=1614

To help you find it better it is ARTICLE XVI-B

ironpigpen said...

Binzley's standard silliness outright begs to be substantiated by actual facts and figures, as compared to ideological hot air.

Printing Binzley's routine ridiculousness only facilitates the need for a rational response.

I contend that Binzley is following Hitler's old playbook --- say something often enough, more and more gullible people will begin to believe.

Promoting demonization and outright hatred of "the Rich" WILL NOT go unchallenged.

Not in my America --- not while I am still breathing.

michael molovinsky said...

dear future, i noticed that you also defended against comments yesterday in the morning call article. i attended the city council meeting on the arena, and also a private meeting held by the city's community development director. until the article yesterday, i was unaware that the private parties could arrange to use the NIZ for their debt service. the administration is being gifted by the morning call not pointing out this blatant omission of information to the public, and all owners of record in the zone.

Anonymous said...

In my view this is all happening do to the success of coca cola park.Development has always been a roll of the dice,some make it some dont.Even the current Dorney Park is a success despite im sure some negatives from its neighbors.All development will have its detractors but in the end should this plan survive we should make the best of it.I still recall those early opponents of coca cola park who said that they would never go there,Scott armstong for one.Wonder if he has had a change of heart.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 11:30, a $175 million dollar project will require use of property tax in the NIZ. that will result in the city, county and school raising taxes to offset the lost. i respect your opinion, too bad we never had the opportunity to officially express it.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

MM, as a blogger yourself you know better that the MC is not the City Spokesman. There is no need for a vote from the public on this. It was voted on by when the citizens voted for our state legislators who passed the legislation to allow us to do this. Also it was voted on when the citizens elected the mayor and council. There is zero requirement for there to be a vote on the complex. Everyone is operating within the boundary of the legislation that is open to public view. If you dont like it, dont vote for elected officials in office.

Anonymous said...

Michael:

After numerous requests I have still not received any additional information. I contacted Pat Browns office and was told I would get a return call - never did.

I was told repeatedly that property taxes could not be used, now it seems that is changing as well.

Then we have the JD Reilly deal popping up. It seems there will be no end to the nuances of this legislation that for all intents and purposes is still being withheld.

I have not even started looking for a map of the NIZ. I am sure it is well under wraps and will probably require a request for release of public information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The enabling legislation so nobly offered up in a post above is one thing to read and a completely other to interpret.

Personally I see this whole NIZ as a repressive abuse of the taxing authority that will seriously jeopardize the financial future of the ASD.

Remember something that is unethical and amoral can still be legal. Does not change the fact that it is a travesty against the people of Allentown.

David Fehr Zimmerman
Board member ASD

michael molovinsky said...

mr. zimmerman, i could not agree more. the attitude expressed by future attendee is appalling. i dare any elected official to verbalize that arrogance when running for re-election.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Zimmerman...

The map of NIZ has been released. At the meeting where the KOZ was decertified, Scott Kraus acknowledged that Sara Hailstone has given the MCALL of copy of the map.

Actually it was pretty funny at one point a woman from the Tea Party walked up to the podium asking about the taxes from the properties. Here is the best part she kept saying that she got it from the "computer" and the stubled more and said the "allentown website". As everyone was confused by what she meant she handed the printouts to council. Well guess what it was from your website Allentowndemographics.com. I guess in your hurry to do all that work for a 130 acres radius around the complex you failed to consider that the NIZ doesnt need to be in a radius. So not only did she look very foolish, she made you look bad as well.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

@MM

I pretty sure Ray O'Connell said the evening of the vote for eminent domain. I paraphrase, ...I am going to vote for it, if you don't like the way I voted remember that when my office is up an don't vote for me...

http://www.youtube.com/user/imantrek#p/search/0/kdCFpy_j0As

ironpigpen said...

Hitler was legally elected.

Hitler and the Nazis legally changed the laws to allow for serious persecution of the Jewish (and other German) citizens.

Still did not make any of that right.

Or did it?

michael molovinsky said...

future, zimmerman doesn't look bad to me at all, quite the contrary. i do appreciate that you comment here, and apparently give the administrations point of view, but how good the public perceives the style you represent is debatable.

Anonymous said...

I guess that is your touche FDTA - Thank you for verifying I have some clout and was duly credited as such at city council. It is good to know.

I should publish the rather dicey email I received from an esteemed city council member that lamented I could kill the deal.

Thank you once again.

David Fehr Zimmerman

Anonymous said...

MM

Need i remind all that FDTAA is the very same racist/bigot who has stridently denigrated the merchants on Hamilton St. since this whole issue started.

I guarantee this guy is a Pawlowski pawn and is a direct pipeline to the administration. I assume what ever he says comes directly from the mayors mouth.

He mentions Ray O'Connell. Who is Ray O'Connell? I do not think he has contributed anything of any real value since being elected.

Not unlike many of his council brethren it would not really make a difference if they were on council or not. What does it take to vote along to get along.

Thanks for your contributions FDTAA it is nice to know what the mayor is thinking.

LVCI said...

. If you dont like it, dont vote for elected officials in office.

Tired of that BS.. When one votes it doesn't give officials a blank check to do whatever the hell they please.

In any job.. you can't do whatever your please just because you've been hired.

Ever hear of a thing called accountability?

binzley said...

Molovinsky repeatedly tries to silence me because he says I am off-topic. He who runs the blog has the right, really the power, so to do.

MM says the topic today is the hockey arena., "Should we have it?" Perhaps I erred in not starting my post with the sentence, "The hockey arena should not be built because...."

The hockey arena is another example of how the monied class manipulates the system to move wealth from middle class tax payers to their bank accounts. Today an arena, tomorrow a new industrial park. It happens regularly and the "little folks" who pay the taxes get mad at the bureaucrats, not the real power elite. The "little folks" are so ill informed they even fight for even lower taxes for the rich. And so it goes.

Being compared to a communist and a nazi in one post is pretty good, even for a venerable progressive liberal.

By the way, the phrase "rich in the west end" was not to be taken literally.

Monkey Momma said...

Future...Attendee says, "It was voted on by when the citizens voted for our state legislators who passed the legislation to allow us to do this."

US? What do you guys make of THAT?

steelbreast said...

Monkee Momma: he does have a point. we live in a representative democracy where we do not vote on specific actions, we vote for representatives who vote on them. I guess we need to get to work campaigning for some better reps.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

To everyone... you guys are bunch of want to be conspiracy theorists. I have zero connection to the Mayor/City Council/Administration etc....

I am a Allentown homeowner and taxpayer that is it. I am in no manner connected to any official.

oh monkey, "Us" references the citizens of Allentown, the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania. Nice try.

Monkey Momma said...

FutureAttendee, it wasn't a "try," just a genuine question.

Everyone's got a right to their opinion, and I try to see where you are coming from on this. However, your posts are sometimes so antagonistic that the reader can't help but want to smack you upside the head. But oh well - there are some really good potential selling points for this arena. You do capture the "pro arena" arguments well.

On the other hand, there are some seriously shady shenanigans going on in Allentown, and I just think it's weird you won't acknowledge any of the genuine concerns about this so-called arena plan.

The issue, though, has nothing to do with YOU or ME or even Molovinsky. The issue is - what will happen to downtown Allentown? Truthfully, no one has any idea, because no one has thoroughly studied the potential impact of this arena. I believe it's far too risky, especially in this dismal economic environment - it's way to big a gamble on a very dicey proposition.

Go check out the arena in Newark or Camden and tell me that arenas are a panacea for ailing post-industrial cities like Allentown. There are so many examples of these kinds of projects failing. To ignore that reality is idiotic and extremely short sighted. I am just sorry to see Allentown handled in such a careless and clearly inept manner.