Jun 2, 2013

NIZ Hubris

The Morning Call revealed yesterday that the Arena Authority has been meeting behind closed doors, in violation of the Sunshine Act. The stunning article, by Emily Opilo and Matt Assad, explains how meetings were not advertised, and that a reporter was asked to leave at a recent meeting. In a further demonstration of their arrogance, two attorneys connected with the board, claim ignorance of the violation. The one attorney on the board, Sy Taub, maintained that bond payment arrangements between the Authority and chief beneficiary, J.B. Reilly, should be determined in private executive session. Before the Authority was formed, the Administration made a case that a degree of secrecy was necessary when acquiring properties for the arena, to protect the public cost from real estate speculation. Since the public portion of acquisition has been completed, I see no justification for keeping arrangements between Reilly and the Authority private.

UPDATE: Although the private Executive Session can be technically used under the Sunshine Act for an agency to discuss lease and purchase of real estate,  Sy Taub extending that exception to a private developer is a legal stretch,  showing the contempt this Administration and Agency has for the general public.

Does the Authority exist to service Reilly, or the public good? In the first year of using state taxes, half of the revenue went for Reilly's debt service. Who determined that ratio between Reilly's interests, and that of the citizens? In the two hybrid buildings on the Arena Complex, partially owned by Reilly, who determines what percentage of the building belongs to whom. How could Taub and Jerome Frank justify no public knowledge, much less scrutiny? The Arena Authority has no oversight by the State of Pennsylvania. Last year Sy Taub said that it would be up to the Authority to monitor itself. So far, they have failed miserably with that promise.


Anonymous said...

Alan Jennings stood up for free speech. You can always count on Jennings to support a free press and the rights of the little people.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:36, i'm assuming that you're being sarcastic, because jennings protested slightly at the press being ejected, but then stood down. i would ask readers to please consider refraining from sarcasm when making comments. although i do not want to infringe on your poetic rights, please consider that many here have not read the morning call article cited. sarcasm then makes the comment more confusing.

Anonymous said...

This is simply a continuation of the issues that have characterized the arena development since the beginning.

The focus always has been and always will be on the developers and those people who have proclaimed themselves the benefactors / stewards of Allentown.

I wonder if they have looked at recent trends in the upscale residential market around the banana factory? I understand some of that real estate is valued at about a third of its original market price.

People aren't even opting for short sales, they are simply walking away and letting the banks take the properties.

So much for this new and improved version of gentrification. The future will be interesting.

Anonymous said...

No one cares ... People like Pawlowski and his goons.


Anonymous said...

What was surprising is that the reporter left. Why didn't she go out in the hallway and call the
legal defense group in Harrisburg in case she doubted her right to be there. Why didn't she call her publisher? He could have called the legal department if she was afraid to. If she can be so easily intimidated, not sure she'll do much investigative reporting.

Anonymous said...

Try as I might, my inner-wiseinhimmer got the best of me.
Please except my apoligies Mr. Molovinsky sir.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:08, i applaud the reporters for the article and their reaction to the meeting. i believe that their article, and subsequent analysis like this blog post, will help force open future meetings. in my opinion there is no longer reason to condone the executive session exception clause to the sunshine act in the niz authority meetings. their entire agenda is by definition real estate, so that exclusion should not apply for them. how much rent, or bond payment schedule reilly receives or pays out, should not qualify for public exclusion.

Anonymous said...

POWER and INFLUENCE.... Believe me this is not represented in CITY COUNCIL GOVERNMENT in my part of the world... It is all an illusion, in my honest opinion, because the "golden rule" is being followed: "Whoever has the most gold rules." And, unfortunately. I can see this in the way our city is being run, the way residents are being handled, and the false sense of leadership some have, so they exist with delusions of grandeur.

Alfonso Todd


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like some insider infomation in the stock market trading¿ We shall only see if federal housing dollars will be paid tax free for the gate keepers of the niz in this new development¿

monkey momma said...

"See? This is why we ought to take this into executive session," Traub said during the meeting. "The negotiation of ANIZDA's share of the tax revenues versus the landlords', I think, is private at this point until we do it publicly."

I love how "landlords'" is a plural possessive. What other landlords are included in this executive session's agenda??? NONE!

How did Reilly get to be the golden child in Allentown? How did he get this deal?? The shenanigans involved in Allentown's NIZ funding and management are vast and major. I wonder if we will ever know the full story.

Anonymous said...

Remember--Reilly came from LVHN Board of Directors.
Follow the money/power. The hospital is a major silent partner in this whole deal.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:02, unfortunately, illness is a growth industry. i don't believe that the hospital needs center city real estate. i do believe that reilly used his connection to entice their sports medicine center to the inconvenient location of hamilton street's 700 block.