Aug 16, 2013

CeCe Doesn't Understand

CeCe Gerlach appeared before Allentown City Council and wanted to know what the Arena project and the NIZ will do for people of limited income. Leave it to Uncle Mike here to give you the straight answer. Although they will never say it, they are hoping that it will make them disappear, or at least push them up to the colored district, further up 7th Street. When I appeared on the Business Matters debate on the arena, an advocate for the project referred to the former merchants and their clientele as a cancer. Earlier this week, the Arena Authority wondered what they could do to officially repress undesirable businesses in the district. Facade grants have been given out to dress up those remaining businesses that attract low income customers. As for jobs in the NIZ, you can sell peanuts at the arena. You will not be trained as a banker for the new Penn National Headquarters. You will not be trained as a physician at the Lehigh Valley Sports Medicine Center. You will not be trained as an engineer at the Air Products division moving into J.B. Reilly's new City Center Office Building. However, money will be contributed to Alan Jennings' Community Action Company for a few minority owned startups, maybe even one or two in the promise land. Lehigh County Community College will get funded for more training classes. Community Benefit will be funded, but it's very doubtful that the community will benefit.


Anonymous said...

Excellent piece Mike, right on the point.

I've lost a lot of respect for Alan Jennings. I do believe his heart is in the right place, but he lost his credibility here.

Damn shame his legacy really took a hit on all of this.

The Banker

Anonymous said...

Mr Jennings heart is where it's been for quite some time,
with the Suits, Power Pols and Big Money Guys.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:52, jennings believed that the arena train was leaving the station, and that he could do the most good by being on it. those who wanted a community benefit should have used their influence, or vote, to negotiate before the project was approved. there was no pretense, it was designed to gentrify hamilton street.

Anonymous said...

"what (will) the Arena project and the NIZ do for the people of limited income"?

Thanks to the inspirational courage, dedication and hard work of heroic politicians and selfless career bureaucrats, provide exciting minor league ice hockey action at a rink which cost a staggering $ 177.1 million dollars, of course!

Just exactly what did Ce Ce Gerlach THINK the transformational Palace of Sport was going to do, anyway?

Good grief.

Seriously and Sincerely,


michael molovinsky said...

herb@11:53, although you're correct that classic community benefit was never in the mix, unless you accept rising tide, i must clarify that instead of CeCe, i could have used CUNA, or even Michael Donovan, who voted for the arena and NIZ. CeCe is a member of the school board, and a sincere advocate for allentown's low income.

Anonymous said...


The NIZ is a trickle down project, exactly what the Left claims never works. They support it here in Allentown for two reasons; primarily they are otherwise bankrupt of their own ideas about how to turn the city around and secondly it makes them look at least proactive for the short term.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

The problem seems to be that the groups seeking job benefits from the NIZ don't understand what is being built.

Other than the service jobs in the hotel, arena, other service entities, the jobs aren't going to be filled by the NIZ local labor pool.

Short term training won't create lawyers, engineers, med techs, doctors, and accountants.

There maybe lots of people employed there, but many of the service jobs will be seasonable and low skilled.

Also, the idea of getting a large contractual pot of annual money from the NIZ is unlikely. Do it project by project based on successful results. Permanent open grants get wasted.

The NIZ may or may not be a good idea, but don't look for it to provide a lot of activist funding.

Michael Donovan said...

Hello Michael:

Since you mentioned me by name, I must say that many of us do understand the challenge that we face in attempting to make the project more inclusive than it currently is, but that does not mean we give up doing what is right, what should have been done from the beginning, and what was my personal vision when I did vote for the project (and still believe to possible). You and I have had several conversations about this. I know that you are less optimistic than I, but we are in agreement that the project has not favored the general population of Allentown. This we must fix. Investment in buildings is good. Combined with investment in people (especially their education) is better. If we are going to give a tax break, then the benefits should be designed to ripple broadly. Not giveaways, but solid investment. Other cities seem to do well at this. I am hoping we can do the same.

Thank you for your message because you are raising points that must be discussed among all of us.

Best regards,


michael molovinsky said...

michael @8:17, it would have been more effective if you had negotiated for the community benefit at the time of your "yes" vote.

Michael Donovan said...


But hindsight, Michael, as you know, is always 20/20.

That does not mean I give up.

Just got finished helping to redirect a series of missteps associated with my time in Ukraine. Mistakes occur, but there is always time to make adjustments.

I am forever a pragmatic optimist.

I think you know that.

michael molovinsky said...

michael, sometimes mistakes have no recourse. to harvest another grant, the wildland's conservancy wants permission to destroy the robin hood dam in lehigh parkway, and complete demolition by early september. pictured on the top of my right sidebar, this wpa site is 73 years old. once it's gone, it's gone. i believe that lending support to the cause of saving this beautiful and historic site would resonate with many older voters.

Michael Donovan said...

Hello again, Michael

I have followed your blog on this issue, and agree with much of what you describe concerning how the parks are managed.

Frankly, this tension involving the purpose of our parks must stop. Environmental protection is obviously necessary, but at the same time the beauty of our parks can be protected without environmental degradation. The current administration had no idea how to balance those competing interests. I have seen the "no mow" zones, and question their purpose within an urban park. I understand the need to protect the stream from run off, but why are we not challenging LCA to fix their sewer problems? You have brought that up several times here. That strikes me far more serious. In other words, these actions are not thought out as well as they should be, and that is the role of a governmental leader, to make sure competing thoughts are brought forward.

I have always agreed with you efforts to protect the WPA heritage.

The issues concerning the dam are perplexing. I see arguments being offered from both sides (including the structural integrity of the bridge), but do not see any effort by policy makers to bring the sides together and work out an agreeable solution.

With me, the city should have someone who simultaneously can make a decision while listening to both sides. My job would be to suspend judgment and bring differing thoughts to the table. I have a history of finding common ground.

Some may say that is idealistic. I believe it is the truth and incredibly needed.

We can continue with the same old government, or try something very new to the city and very different.

Hope you are well,


ps..actually mistakes always have recourse. One can admit them. And find another path that is workable. It is called "never quitting."

Anonymous said...

Michael D. - spoken like the true politician you are. Why would anyone expect anything else? Good middle of the road approach.

Still trying to figure out where all these people are going to come from to fill all the new stuff that will soon dominate Allentown. I feel for anyone having to work downtown and endure the daily traffic to get in and out of work.

It will be interesting to see this whole debacle unfold. Too bad folks have not gotten realistic about the economy and the challenges it holds.

Also it would be nice to see school board members who care about all of the students of the ASD and not just select groups. Sounds as if Gerlach is the only one who cares about the "low income" kids. Seems to be a prevailing attitude that if you are not of color you simply are incapable of caring about the "diverse groups". What a tragic belief, however arrogant and self serving it might be.

michael molovinsky said...

michael @11:56, my next post will tell the story of my walk in the park with the wildlands, the new park director, and two council members. the wildland's purports their plan will leave some dam, etc. etc. (only because they have to). they're also against the wire to get their grant, so the big push is on. if they get their way the bulldozer will be there within three weeks. there is no time for the analysis and compromises to which you refer. bulldozer or no bulldozer. i was hoping you would take a stand against their plan, if only to err on the side of caution.

Anonymous said...

It does all smack of classic Reagan-style "TRICKLE DOWN ECONOMICS" --- which the Democrats HAVE long said does NOT work --- does it not?.

With all due respect, Mr. Armstrong left out reason # 3 ...

... the Democrats are overjoyed to play trickle down economics (and piously pick winners and losers) here in the City Without (Spending?) Limits is because the very same Democrats have been and will continue to be thrilled to stuff their war chests with significant campaign contributions from those who directly benefit from the Palace of Sport, Free Money Train known as the NIZ, etc.

"Rising tide". Yeah, yeah, whatever. All hail Dear Supreme Leader.