Feb 24, 2013
Allentown, A Town Without Pity
One can imagine the anonymous newspaper comments concerning the confrontation between the machete wielder and the police; One more problem removed from Allentown, and worse. The comment sections have never been a bastion of compassion. The tragedy raises some questions about both the perception and priorities of Allentown. I maintain that potential arena patrons are more concerned about machetes and shootings, than which corporation's name is under the ice at the arena. Although about $600 million in new bricks is being planned in center city, every aspect of public and human service has been cut to the bone. By the end of the year, we will virtually have a new police department, without the normal graph curve of experience. Under the infamous hyper-pension contract, half the force ran out the door. Those induced to remain, the top brass, are all exiting this year. Meanwhile, back on the streets, the sociological changes to Allentown have not been kind. Center city continues to be populated by a poor element, in dire need of various services. The Confrontation showed the catch 22 of our current mental health system; Assistance isn't available until after a problem occurs. I believe that the realities of Allentown require new priorities. I'm not motivated by kindness, but by practicality. Both the police and health department will have to become more pro-active about behavioral issues, to protect both the public and private investments in this city.