Jan 31, 2011

The Ultimate Insult

It's easy to insult and demean Mubarak, simply draw a Star of David over his photograph. For the vast majority of people watching the news unfold in Egypt, that star is barely noticeable. Even Jimmy Carter barely notices, and he brokered the Camp David Peace in 1979. A regime change in Egypt is almost certain, tomorrow calls for a million person protest. That star will be drawn over thousands of pictures. As tourists flee the chaos in Cairo, Europeans are still arriving at Sharm el-Sheikh.

Developed by Israel in the mid 1970's at the tip of the Sinai peninsula, the resort was handed over to the Egyptians in 1982. The Egyptian military has increased it's presence there in the last few days, to enhance tourist safety. Needless to say, the drawn star strikes a reaction in Jews and Israelis. Not all Egyptians are out on the streets. The Coptic and other Christian minorities are keeping a low profile, they too notice the star.

Jan 28, 2011

I am Israel- Jerusalem Version

Lehigh Valley Railroad

The Lehigh Valley Railroad began as an carrier of anthracite coal in 1846. At it's peak, it stretched from the docks of New York harbor to Lake Erie. Although mostly a freight carrier serving the hearths of Bethlehem Steel, it operated a well known passenger line from New York City to Buffalo, The Black Diamond. As a child in the 1950's, I would sit in the car with my father waiting for the long freight trains to cross Union Street. A train watch tower stood over the busy crossing. By 1976, remnants of the railroad were absorbed by Conrail. Shown above, from the late 1930's, is the streamlined engine of the Black Diamond.

Jan 27, 2011

The Hubris of Northampton County

Bernie O'Hare is clearly now the Propaganda Minister for Northampton County. Long behind the scenes, he's now officially part of the lawsuit against the citizen's referendum regarding Gracedale. Considering that Angle was Council President when the decision to sell was made, and still is the dominator there, one need question his judgement with this suit. Should an elected representative be a joint signer with someone who portrays the taxpayers as goons and an unruly mob? The Election Commission, in rejecting the right of referendum in regard to Gracedale, was advised by the Solicitor, who in turn was tutored by the lawyer hired to facilitate the sale.* The citizens of Northampton deserve more respect.

above illustration used by Bernie O'Hare to represent the Save Gracedale Citizens

*At least one council person criticized Spadoni for having contact with Mark Stewart, of the Harrisburg law firm the county hired to help with the sale. Last week, Stewart sent Spadoni a memo explaining why the petition did not conform to the home rule charter.
Councilman Lamont McClure, a Democrat opposed to the sale, called the contact problematic.
"The Election Commission solicitor should provide the best possible advice to the Election Commission without the pollution of interpretation of law by the lawyer hired to sell Gracedale," McClure said Monday.
The Morning Call:January 26,2011 by Jenna Portnoy

Jan 25, 2011

Bernie Files Lawsuit

Channel 69 reports that Bernie and Ron Angle have filed a lawsuit to keep the Gracedale question off the ballot. Bernie says that the issue is budget related, and budget issues are prohibited from referendum by the Home Rule Charter. It wasn't a good day for the Save Gracedale Group. Additionally, the Election Board also ruled against allowing the ballot question. Presumedly the group will appeal the Election Board decision in court, and likewise defend against Bernie's suit. Bernie believes that the fate of Gracedale should rest with the current elected officials. What arrogance of Angle and Stoffa to presume that they are entitled to do away with a 100 year plus institution without a public vote. The photograph shows Bernie, pen in hand, scrutinizing the petition signatures.

                     BLOG POST BY BERNIE

Trouble with Mailman

For those of us with AOL Email, yesterday didn't exist. Besides not being able to log in to the mail site, two months of previous mail has vanished. Hope I didn't miss the prize announcement from the Publisher's Clearing House, or from you.

Jan 24, 2011

Downhill on Lehigh Street

During the early 1970's, Allentown demolished the entire neighborhood between Union and Lawrence Streets. It was, in a large part, home to the black community. How ironic that we destroyed the cohesion of a neighborhood, but renamed Lawrence Street after Martin Luther King. The only remnant of the neighborhood is the St. James A.M.E. Church. Going up the hill today we now have a vacant bank call center on the east, and the Housing Authority Project on the west. A whole neighborhood existed in from both sides of Lehigh Street, including black owned shops. The houses were old and humble, but people owned them, many for generations. Some blacks at the time wondered if the project was Urban Renewal or Negro Removal?

Jan 22, 2011

Former County Executive Favors Saving Gracedale

Jerry Seyfried, a former Northampton County Executive, favors the County retaining Gracedale, according to Bernie O'Hare.
I just got off the phone with Jerry Seyfried, who believes Gracedale should remain in County hands.
This revelation by Bernie, perhaps inadvertently, was made during the course of a back and forth comment exchange on his  blog(comment 49,1:36pm). Although Bernie states the numerous articles he has written on why to sell Gracedale are based on facts and research, he has never presented this informed, opposing opinion by Seyfried.

Jan 20, 2011

Saving Gracedale

I would like to congratulate the coalition of concerned citizens, who obtained the necessary signatures to put this most important issue on the ballot. My fellow blogger, Bernie O'Hare, has used his well crafted writing skills to defend the position of the Northampton County Administration. One can reasonably expect that the thousands of signatures you obtained beyond the requirement, will be more than enough to meet the numerical threshold. In regard to the Charter issue concerning the budget, all county function is connected to the budget. Everything that any county owns, does, or maintains, involves some cost. Gracedale is a long standing County institution. Its continuation is not a budget issue, but rather a question of county function. Should the County continue it's historic obligation to it's elderly citizens?

photo credit: molovinsky

Jan 19, 2011

A Personal Memoir

I'm not sure memoir is a good title, rather than facts and records, I have hazy recollections. Assuming my memory will not improve at this stage of the game, let me put to print that which I can still recall. In about 1958 my father built Flaggs Drive-In. McDonalds had opened on Lehigh Street, and pretty much proved that people were willing to sit in their cars and eat fast food at bargain prices. For my father, who was in the meat business, this seemed a natural. As a rehearsal he rented space at the Allentown Fair for a food stand, and learned you cannot sell hotdogs near Yocco's. He purchased some land across from a corn field on Hamilton Blvd. and built the fast food stand. In addition to hamburgers, he decided to sell fried chicken. The chicken was cooked in a high pressure fryer called a broaster, which looked somewhat like the Russian satellite Sputnik. The stand did alright, but the business was not to my father's liking, seems he didn't have the personality to smile at the customers. He sold the business several years later to a family which enlarged and enclosed the walk up window. Subsequent owners further enlarged the location several times. The corn field later turned into a Water Park, and you know Flaggs as Ice Cream World.

I'm grateful to a kind reader who sent me this picture of Flaggs

reprinted from March 12, 2009

Jan 18, 2011

Allentown Meat Packing Co.

My grandfather lived on the corner of Jordan and Chew, and butchered in a small barn behind the house. He would deliver by horse and wagon to his customers, corner markets. The house is still there, the barn, long gone. My father, and one of his brothers, acquired the H.H. Steinmetz packing house in 1943. Operating as Allentown Meat Packing, by 1950 they closed the slaughter house, and converted the front of the plant into a meat market open to the public. That continued to 1970, when it was leased to an operator who sold meat by freezer full packages. In 1975 the building was torn down, as part of a long term lease agreement with A&B, who wanted the space for parking. The photo was taken just prior to demolition.

Jan 17, 2011

The Butchers of Allentown

photograph by Bob Wilt
A&B (Abogast&Bastian), dominated the local meat packing industry for almost 100 years. At it's peak, they employed 700 people and could process 4,000 hogs a day. The huge plant was at the foot of Hamilton Street, at the Lehigh River. All that remains is their free standing office building, which has been incorporated into America on Wheels. Front and Hamilton was Allentown's meatpacking district. Within one block, two national Chicago meatpackers, Swift and Wilson, had distribution centers. Also in the area were several small independents, among them M. Feder and Allentown Meat Packing Company.

Jan 14, 2011

Knock Down At The Garden

You could knock Joe Louis down, the problem was when he got up. Shown above, Louis's former sparring partner, Jersey Joe Walcott, circles above Louis. Louis had returned from four years in the service, and resumed defending his title. Walcott himself would eventually become champion, but not this night, not against Joe Louis.

Madison Square Garden, December 5, 1947

Jan 12, 2011

A Jew Defends Palin

Sarah Palin used the term Blood Libel, in defending herself against accusations that she is responsible for the actions of the obviously mentally disturbed shooter in Tucson. Her frenzied distractors have seized upon the opportunity to now pronounce that she has offended Jews, by using a term long associated with anti-semitism. The Huffington Post quotes Jewish groups and rabbis so offended. They omit the fact that these groups and rabbis are so leftist, that they are also critical of Israel. Sarah Palin certainly was libeled by accusations that actions on her part, resulted in the recent horror. Reasonable Jews are not offended by her use of the term. Holocaust is now a widely used term in regard to mass violence. Reasonable people reject the concept of scapegoats, whether it's Jews or Sarah Palin.
The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.                 
Alan Dershowitz, famed attorney and Harvard Law Professor

A Family Conversation

My aunt and I were talking the other day, and she doesn't understand what happened to Allentown.

I sat there patiently and tried to explain some of it to her.

She's from a time when school safety issues had to do with children and cars, not gangs.
dismissal time, Muhlenberg Elementary

She insists that there must have been Martians on that space ship Max Hess brought to town, or something.
click on space ship for ride

format rented from Allentown Is Nice

Jan 10, 2011

The Passion of Israel

If there is a passion in Israel, it may well be archeology. As a young man in 1968, I had the pleasure of taking an archeology course in Jerusalem. It has remained a lifelong interest. Al Jazeera has produced a documentary called Looting the Holy Land. It is very well done, but untrue. More galling, it accuses Israel of using archeology for political purpose, which is exactly what the Palestinian Authority does itself.
Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University) '"Looting the Holy Land" or Pillaging the Truth?')and labels the film "a piece of political propaganda, aimed – as the bon ton goes today (sic) – at de-legitimizing Israel" and therefore sets out to demonstrate point by point "why this is a worthless film, ridden with manipulations, political propaganda, incorrect facts and even lies". Finkelstein points out that "most of the looting in the West Bank (as well as in Israel!) has been carried out by Palestinians" and not Israelis. He corrects statements made in the film about Hisham's palace near Jericho, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Moshe Dayan and disputed sites in Jerusalem, and claims that the film contains several false allegations.
Their recent proclamation that the Western Wall, built by Herod, is not a Jewish site is a glaring example. The documentary contains quotes out of context and half truths. The Jews and Israel have never needed archeology to justify their historical presence, the Old Testament suffices.

Jan 7, 2011

Ted Williams' Truman Show

I'm glad Mr. Williams is no longer homeless. I'm glad he found employment, but the do-gooders tripping over each other is an affront to the system. But for his voice, but more so, the unlikely juxtaposition of his voice and vagabond appearance, he would still be homeless. The broadcasting schools have produced more announcers than there are jobs. There are other golden voices flipping hamburgers and selling cars. The job with MSNBC is par for the course, as is the taped reunion with his mother. Suddenly, Kraft Macaroni gets cheesier.

The Last Trolley

The last trolley, shown above, ran in Allentown on June 8, 1953. We see the trolley passing a new Transit Authority bus at 8th and Hamilton Streets. In the early 1950's, General Motors wined and dined transit authorities all across the nation, promoting their buses as the modern mass transit. Today, buses are becoming electric, just like efficient trolleys of yesteryear. We even dress up a small bus to look like a trolley. Gotta love the vision of bureaucrats.

Jan 6, 2011

Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria

The Church and Theology School in Alexandria was established by the Apostle Mark in 60AD. Most of the early converts were common Egyptians who spoke Coptic. Although Christians became the majority before the Arab invasion in 636, by the 12th century they were the minority. The concept of monasteries in Christianity was started by the Coptics in the deserts of Egypt. Currently, the Coptics are victims of terror, let us pray for their safety.

photograph of St. Marks Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Jan 5, 2011

The Weigh-In

                                            Madison Square Garden, March 27, 1942
When they met for the first time the previous March, Abe Simon battled Joe Louis for 13 rounds. The Detroit crowd went wild that the Jewish giant from New York could absorb Louis's punches. Louis had the power of Mike Tyson and the finesse of Muhammad Ali. When it was revealed that Simon had fought with a broken hand, the Madison Garden rematch became a big ticket. Louis knocked Simon out in the sixth round. It would be Simon's last fight.
click on photo to enlarge

Jan 4, 2011

Bernie Balks, Angle Falters

On Sunday night Bernie posted about the Gracedale Referendum being short on signatures, but the post never saw light of day. For one reason or another he deleted the post, or at least is postponing using it. The post is Bernie's usual fare about the effort being conducted by goons. Although the effort may be short by 4,000, I believe Bernie misreads the tea leafs. If I were the face of selling Gracedale, that being Stoffa and Angle, I would take no consolation that 15,000 people signed that petition. Yesterday, Angle was deposed of as President of Northampton Commissioners. Next November may prove difficult for him.
link to Bernie's deleted post

UPDATE: Bernie has republished the missing piece after reading this post. His explanation is here as comment 4.

Bluffing Bethlehem School Board

Bethlehem's Mayor John Callahan is trying to persuade the School Board to reconsider a tax incentive for Martin Tower that they had recently rejected. Without the tax break, Callahan suggests the developer will build affordable housing, instead of an upscale Shangri-La previously presented. More children will burden the school system, instead of the well heeled patronizing Main Street. The new plan is exactly what the developers would have built in the first place, with or without the tax increment financing. The property is too large, and the demand too small, for high end. The original total TIF request was less than 5% of the project cost. The developer is being more honest than the Mayor; He said that the new plans reflect the market conditions. The School Board only rejected the original plan two months ago, the market conditions has not changed since then. Although it was appropriate for Callahan to encourage the development of the Tower in the first place, he's now just shilling for a developer.

source article by Esack, Assad and Radzievich

Jan 3, 2011

Logjam at Doorway

In 2005, an official of the Allentown Police Union told me that he expected about 12 officers to retire under the new contract, then negotiated with the Afflerbach Administration. The Union had made some wages concessions, in exchange for the rule changes concerning retirement. We all know what happen, 80 policemen ran for the door, including that 40 year old Union official. Last week, Pawlowski announced another wage concession with the Police, in exchange for another rule change. The new change allows an officer to claim disability from day one of employment, including mental stress. The lesson, which should have been learned, is that it's better to give a raise with a known cost, rather than submit the City to enormous variables. When Pawlowski campaigned in 2005, he called the recent retirees a second police department, which the City needed to fund. Pawlowski signed this new deal unilaterally, bypassing City Council. Although Council President D'Amore huffed and puffed about being excluded in the procedure, as a staunch union advocate, he would not have objected to the content.
source article by Jarrett Renshaw
related post by Jeff Pooley
related column by Paul Carpenter

Jan 1, 2011

Kicking Off New Year

molovinsky on allentown starts another year of commentary and advocacy on local issues. This core mission will continue to be interspersed by local history, reports from The Holy Land, and ringside exploits from the 1940's. So, whether you consider here to be   A Must Read,  or just Old and Cranky, welcome aboard!