Oct 14, 2011

The Morning Call Forgets The Meat

Despite a large front page story on the Arena and Mr. Reilly's spinoff development, complete with charts and graphs, despite being written by two of it's reporters, where's the beef? Like the famous 1984 commercial, the articles are large buns with small hamburgers. The real story is that none of the merchants were ever told that they could use taxes to purchase a new building, after being displaced by the city. The use of sales tax, 6% of their gross sales, could have been used for debt service on a new Hamilton Street location. To my knowledge, none of the affected merchants, will have a new retail store on Hamilton Street, or will have any benefit from the NIZ. They had asked for a meeting with the city for help, which was attended by The Morning Call, and were never told that the NIZ lever could be used by private property owners. They asked for a meeting with Senator Brown, and were never told about options which could have helped them save their businesses. The explanation by Browne and the Administration that this information was available if they had asked the proper questions, is unacceptable. FACTS ON THE GROUND INDICATE THAT THE LAW WAS APPLIED IN A SELECTIVE FASHION, TO FASHIONABLE PEOPLE. If this post sounds repetitive, that's because it is. There's still no hamburger inside the bun, and still no explanation.

38 comments:

binzley said...

"If they asked the right questions."

This response of a public official is indicative of how the current political and economic system favors those with resources. I am sure the real estate moguls and bankers not only know the right questions, they helped write the answers.

MM, you should be standing behind the Occupiers who are crying out against a system that hurts average Americans.

MM, Lead the fight for the small businessmen by occupying city hall!

To the barricades!!!!

Monkey Momma said...

I guess there won't be an explanation - EVER. All we seem to hear from officials in this town is "trust me." But obviously, our trust cannot be given to scoundrels who hide the truth and use things like tax breaks for only the chosen few.

The local media has really let us down on this one. I honestly don't understand why this isn't a national story, quite frankly. Harrisburg's woes were prominently featured in the WSJ yesterday, as well as many nat'l news outlets. Does Allentown have to hit bankruptcy before anyone notices what's happening here?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky
Are you sure none of these small sometimes minority-owned business people were never informed by Hallstone? If this is true it's disgusting. Some say she's a puppet. Who knows at this point but
if the same advice given to a multi-million dollar developer and strong political supporter was deleted from their proposals,
why don't they hire an independent attorney or even the ACLU to protect their property rights if discrimination has occurred.
Excellent job keeping us informed. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Keep repeating this information until it sinks into our community-stupid heads! That includes this writer. Sure hope Ds are preparing to challenge Browne next go-around. Think he'll lose.

Anonymous said...

The basic stucture of the Tiff has been in the paper since day one. I hate to sound mean spirited, but at what point are these merchants responsible for the future of their businesses?

michael molovinsky said...

8:18, it was reported that taxes generated in the NIZ could be used by the city's authority for the arena bond, but there was never any mention that private property owners could also use this tax source. the first such mention occurred when reilly's plans were disclosed. any future comment suggesting otherwise, better include a link to an article stating such. this blog will not carry water for deceptive apologists.

steelbreast said...

Anon 8:18

as always, blame the little guy while the your pocket is picked.

michael molovinsky said...

8:18, at what point is the city responsible for honoring the business district zoning? these merchants conformed by locating there. they conformed by being governed by sign laws and other regulations. as recently as two years ago, the city made them change their security gates to the city's new preferred version. the city and the chamber of commerce held vision meetings last year. no one told the merchants that if pawlowski got a new vision, they could be thrown out of their buildings within 3 months, to accommodate a hockey team schedule.

Anonymous said...

Below is the applicable language to the discussion at hand.

) MAY ONLY BE UTILIZED FOR PAYMENT OF DEBT SERVICE ON BONDS ISSUED FOR THE IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF ALL OR ANY PART OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT ZONE AND THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A FACILITY OR FACILITY COMPLEX, FOR PAYMENT OF DEBT SERVICE ON BONDS ISSUED TO REFUND THOSE BONDS AND TO REPLENISH AMOUNTS REQUIRED IN ANY DEBT SERVICE RESERVE FUNDS ESTABLISHED TO PAY DEBT SERVICE ON BONDS. THE TERM OF A BOND TO BE REFUNDED SHALL NOT EXCEED THE MAXIMUM TERM PERMITTED FOR THE ORIGINAL BOND ISSUED FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OR DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT ZONE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A FACILITY OR FACILITY COMPLEX.

Anonymous said...

below is the applicable language to the discussion at hand,......
E) RESTRICTION ON USE OF FUNDS. FUNDS TRANSFERRED UNDER SUBSECTION (D):
(1) MAY ONLY BE UTILIZED FOR PAYMENT OF DEBT SERVICE ON BONDS ISSUED FOR THE IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF ALL OR ANY PART OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT ZONE AND THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING A FACILITY OR FACILITY COMPLEX, FOR PAYMENT OF DEBT SERVICE ON BONDS ISSUED TO REFUND THOSE BONDS AND TO REPLENISH AMOUNTS REQUIRED IN ANY DEBT SERVICE RESERVE FUNDS ESTABLISHED TO PAY DEBT SERVICE ON BONDS. THE TERM OF A BOND TO BE REFUNDED SHALL NOT EXCEED THE MAXIMUM TERM PERMITTED FOR THE ORIGINAL BOND ISSUED FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OR DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT ZONE AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF A FACILITY OR FACILITY COMPLEX.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:03, :06, i will not post any more cut and paste crap like this. below is the REAL applicable language to the discussion at hand

ONLY REILLY RECEIVED A LOAN, BOND OR WHATEVER FOR $20 MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE AUTHORITY, WHICH CAN BE REPAID USING TAXES GENERATED FROM THE PROPERTY, INCLUDING SALES AND EARNED INCOME. NONE OF THE 34 PROPERTY OWNERS DISPLACED WERE AWARE OF THIS OPTION. HAD THEY BEEN MADE AWARE, MOST LIKELY THEIR PROJECT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DEEMED QUALIFIED BY THE AUTHORITY, WHICH MUST APPROVE APPLICATIONS. THE LEGAL LANGUAGE YOU SUBMITTED IS MEANINGLESS. THE FACTS ON THE GROUND INDICATE THE LAW WAS APPLIED IN A SELECTIVE FASHION, TO FASHIONABLE PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

Will Reilly's properties be property tax exempt?

Anonymous said...

"ONLY REILLY RECEIVED A LOAN, BOND OR WHATEVER FOR $20 MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE AUTHORITY, WHICH CAN BE REPAID USING TAXES..."

If this is true shame on all of us if we do not stop this transfer of wealth and property from the small guy to the robber baron of the valley.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:33, it's my understanding that the property taxes will at this point continue to the government entities, but the law allows them to be applied to debt if necessary by the arena developers, supposedly private developer reilly will have to make up shortfalls himself. good luck verifying that!

anon 10:38, i do not subscribe to the wall street opposers or class warfare. blame your elected officials for the inequity you perceive. i do NOT blame reilly.

Anonymous said...

I think you are envious of Reilly, Molovinsky. You tried to be a real estate mogul and failed.

It is easier to blame an incompetent mayor than go after the real culprit. If I pay someone to kill my wife for the insurance money, I am sure you will let me off and go after the guy with the gun, Right?

I dare you to print this!

Anon 10:38

binzley said...

I find it of interest the MM gives Reilly a pass and totally blames the mayor. Does he really believe another mayor would have behaved differently? How does a mayor or any public official get elected in this day and age? Every politician I know, and I know a lot of them, says that without big campaign contributors and wealthy backers, it is impossible to get elected. The rich have access and a voice. The small merchants have only Molovinsky and he is afraid to take real and aggressive action.

Gary Ledebur

Anonymous said...

Michael: You are a fighter with a good brain and a good heart. Thank you for your posts and fighting for the common man. What does one of your obnoxious posters call you? Champion of the People?

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

MM: I am confused on why you once again think there is a conspiracy occurring here. The language of the law was available long before any eminent domain vote was made. The ACIDA meetings are open to the public. City Council meetings are open to the public. All the information you need about the NIZ was out in the open. It is the responsibility of the business owners for their future, not The Morning Call nor City Hall. Hence why Reilly is being responsible for the future of his business and is taking advantage of the NIZ. Now as for the business' that used to exist on the site of the arena, there are plenty of vacant stores that are located in the NIZ. They have the option to purchase one of those properties and receive the same benefit that Reilly will be receiving. Business is just that, Business! Its is not an entitlement.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:38, i posted your comment, but it doesn't warrant a reply.

gary, my actions were limited to an editorial in the paper, which i'm proud to say that the merchants reprinted and handed out.
a short presentation to city council, which i'm proud to say is now a u-tube.
criticism of the newspaper, when their articles fail to address important elements, as per this post. unfortunately, this sort of criticism creates resentment at the newspaper, and other causes, such as the WPA, receive less publicity than they deserve as a consequence.
I should note that there was absolutely no public input sought or permitted on the arena plan, or proper disclosure on it's financing vehicles. as i stated before, the merchants have moved on. neither they or I have time for occupying city hall, barricades and other fool's errands to amuse you. these merchants have suffered grave injury. while the newspaper concentrates on NIZ development and construction, demolition is scheduled to begin next month on the merchants' properties. they never received any incentives or taxbreaks during their 20 plus years on Hamilton Street.

michael molovinsky said...

dear future, i grow weary of your comments. i'll give you one short answer, the city still hasn't even settled with many of the merchants, and hardly any last month. merchants who have purchased new buildings needed bridge loans in a reluctant bank environment. properties were selling for double their price last year. if you feel that this was a level playing field, that there was proper notification given, fine, but in the future, mr. future, post your crap somewhere else.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

How about all the other small business' that are not in the footprint of the arena? The doubling of their values is a bad thing? Were the business' that are located in the foot print of the arena ever in the position to bring $60 million dollars in development or the ability to double property values? You and I both know the answer to that. The time has come to make a change. Within 5 years there will be new structures and more money flowing into downtown that we have not seen since the precious days of Hess's in the 60's.

michael molovinsky said...

mr. future, i hope that you're correct, however, those who have researched the subject say that more such project have failed than succeeded, and that was in better times. don't confuse subsidized speculation with appreciation, time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Mr bleak future,
Property values in the shadow of this horror are not increasing.
The only properties in the vicinity selling are foreclosures.
This rip-off project is sure to produce a wave of more foreclosures.
This is government out of control.

binzley said...

"..the merchants have moved on. neither they or I have time for occupying city hall, barricades and other fool's errands to amuse you."

MM: The above quote is why you are and the small merchants are impotent. Standing up, speaking out, protesting and marching is not for amusement but to change things. Perhaps it is more amusing to type on a computer than to risk bold action.

lady Macbeth said...

Why do so many of you fail to trust the wisdom of Reilly and others who want to make Allentown better. If the business people did not know the rules, shame on them. They should have hired a lobbyist and some lawyers like Reilly has. This is the essence of capitalism---some win, some lose. So be it!

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Anon 3:06

Even MM has admitted that property values are doubling. And if the only properties that are selling are foreclosures, which I doubt, there are still properties being sold in a market where property sales are very low. Things are happening that have not happened in a generation. You cant ignore that.

On another note why would you want Allentown to fail? Also your ability to revert to name calling shows to me that you have contribution to this discussion has less merit.

Anonymous said...

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...
Name calling?? That's rich coming from you.
And as for wanting to fail.
NO. Just the opposite.
The perpetrators of this unbelievable plot are going to drive this city into the ground.
And for the "lady" : plans made secretly with no vetting by elected officials are not are not the essence of capitalism.

michael molovinsky said...

gary, you underestimate the merchants. their attorneys, specialists in municipal eminent domain, assured them the only variable was compensation, but the hockey arena project would proceed, regardless

future, what owners were asking and what they will get, if at all, are not always the same thing. we will not know the true appreciation, if at all, for a few years. again, hope you're correct, but i have my doubts. the butz's and the reilly's will be OK, even if their space must be occupied by chamber of commerce, county tourist bureau and subsidized restaurants, as has been the case with butz

Anonymous said...

Comrade Molovinsky,

I will take this opportunity to remind you that, in 43 seasons of operation, the Philadelphia Flyers hockey club has had SEVEN different cities function as host of their American Hockey League farm club.

If historical precedence has anything to say, it is that, although Chairman Pawlowski and his apparatchiks on the Rubber Stamp City Council could very well be long gone onto bigger and better things in the political arena by then, the ice rink in Allentown will need a new NHL parent in 6.1428571 years.

VIKTOR TIKHONOV
U.S.S.R. national team trainer

Anonymous said...

Future arena attendee is clearly someone operating out of the mayor’s office. Pawlowski dupes those who stand to profit from this rushed project are the only vocal supporters. When you wonder how it could happen remember it's Allentown.

Thanks Mike

Scott Armstrong

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Yes Scott you are right, I work out of City Hall! You got me. I am totally an employee of the Mayor!
(SARCASM)

It is it that hard to believe that someone has a different view/opinion then you and not work for the city? Believe it or not, but there are over 820,000 people in the Lehigh Valley and your opinion is the minority.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, but there are over 820,000 people in the Lehigh Valley and your opinion is the minority.
.
Mr. future arena shill,
Where does this data come from?
I Have not heard anyone but you and the mayor's cronies tout this travesty.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Shill? There you ago with the name calling again...

As for the number, the 2010 Census says that there is 821,623 people in the LV.

Do you honestly believe that if your opinion was the majority that 410,812 people would let this happen? Nope. You are the minority.

The only thing that I will side with is on how the communication of project has been handled. But besides that, this is a great thing for all 820,000+ of us... even the 34 that moved to make it happen, lets not forget that they got paid and paid very well to do so... i.e. Patrice Sidoione

michael molovinsky said...

future, i dispute how well they got paid. i will agree that the prices were generous in regard to straight real estate value, however, for those with successful businesses, who preferred to keep their prime location, the compensation was inadequate in terms of an on going business. please do not cite specific names, as in your last comment.

Monkey Momma said...

Lady MacBeth, this is for you:

"Why do so many of you fail to trust the wisdom of Reilly and others who want to make Allentown better." BECAUSE they have refused to let the sun shine on this project. BECAUSE it is literally back room negotiations, rather than public discussions, that drive this project. BECAUSE the mayor himself is ON RECORD lying about this project. You don't earn TRUST by lying and deceiving.


"If the business people did not know the rules, shame on them. They should have hired a lobbyist and some lawyers like Reilly has." They did hire lawyers. They were told they only had one option: move. They met with the city. They met with Sen. Browne. They did due diligence. More lies and deception were their reward.

"This is the essence of capitalism---some win, some lose. So be it!" No, this is not capitalism. This is not a level playing field. This is simply a situation in which THUGS are calling the shots and allowing MONEY and POWER to rule. The "lords" of Allentown are simply ejecting the common folk from their earned places in this town, all for the sake of CAMPAIGN DONATIONS for Pawlowski. It is disgusting and wrong.

P.S. - Who cares who Future Attendee is? His/her identity is meaningless - what matters is the future of this city. We are seeing all around the country the consequences of cities living far beyond their means. Look at Harrisburg, for instance. Another "pie in the sky" project gone wrong. How many times do we need to see that reckless spending and gigantic debt KILLS CITIES. Allentown is already very badly off. We do not need greed and lies to send us into a final death spiral.

Anonymous said...

In Allentown too many are doing what is best for them rather than serve the greater good. And doing quite well for themselves as a result.

Scott Armstrong

ironpigpen said...

Mr. Armstrong,

It's the only Chicagoan Hopey Changey way to be --- a self-serving Propagandist doing it all for the benefit of Children to the complete detriment of Racism!

You are just jealous ...

LOYAL UNION MEMBER, LIFELONG DEMOCRAT VOTER

ironpigpen said...

Attention Union Thugs :

I'm NEVER afraid.

Bring it.

Would you like my home address so you can inflate your cultrual icon, THE RAT, outside?

RO