Apr 15, 2014

Sitting Down with Bennett

                                                                           photo by K Mary Hess 
Subscribers of this blog may recall that recently I profiled two people who hope to succeed Ed Pawlowski as mayor, Siobhan Sam Bennett and Charlie Thiel. Yesterday, I sat down with Bennett at The Benner Mansion, her bed and breakfast, and she elaborated on her thoughts about Allentown. Although she benefits from being the first and only bed and breakfast in Allentown, she knows that distinction signifies a stagnate tax base.  She recognizes the NIZ for the boost that it will provide, but she believes that it will not be a silver bullet by itself, and that many more small businesses need to be cultivated. She has no doubt that the perception of the school district and the city's future go arm in arm. While the perceptions of both are currently negative, she knows that there are many positive assets, which can be branded for success. She cites the many cultural institutions, such as Symphony Hall,  the art museum, the historical society and the Allentown Band, which are unique for a city this size. The school district's gifted and honor programs, along with it's rich music and art tradition, must be featured. The demographics must be viewed as an opportunity for preparing for the diversity in our changing country. Recognizing these assets, and branding them to middle class home buyers, is part of her formula for revitalizing Allentown.

Photography by K Mary Hess


Anonymous said...

Bennett = just another Tax & Spend Progressive Liberal Democrat?

More Properties Of Merit programs?

What does Ms. Bennett's track record say?

Legitimate and valid questions, all of them.

Ready and eagerly awaiting Spin Cycle.

Forward To Progress, Comrade Molovinsky!



monkey momma said...

Well this should get interesting. I presume Sam is setting herself up for another run at office.

I would like to know why she returned to Allentown. What's the status with her job in DC?

All I need to know about Ms. Bennett is that she saw fit to pay herself over $100K to run Properties of Merit. She may say all the right things, but she's greedy.

michael molovinsky said...

rolf at 5:12, bennett makes no apology for being a democrat. she is currently campaigning for allyson schwartz for governor

monkey momma@6:11, after five years as director of the national woman's campaign fund, bennett resigned in january. she stated in the previous interview that she grew weary of the commute. with so many current blighted properties, properties of merit may have more merit than ever.

monkey momma said...

Sorry, she's a silver tongued serpent. She talked POM into giving her over 33% of the pot to line her own pockets. This isn't idle gossip about Ms. Bennett - it's what happened. She left town shamed. She is greedy, plain and simple. As you well know, subsequent investigations revealed just how overpaid she was, compared to similar "executives" in the area.

A resignation in DC because of the commute? If you say so.

She's going to say everything you want to hear, but she is in this for herself.

Anonymous said...


My recollection of the POM incident was that it wasn't just that she was overpaid, it was that it was a thinly-disguised payment (with taxpayer dollars) from then Governor Rendell to compensate Bennett for her political activities.

I believe the point behind having her home designated as Allentown's only B & B was to allow her to receive similar compensation for housing political figures and elected officials from out of town.

While her election as Mayor would be a change, I don't see how she would be all that different from the current occupant in City Hall.

Allentown needs someone who can rise above politics and not use the office for their own gain. Bennett's track record doesn't indicate that she is the person to do that.

michael molovinsky said...

@10:24, her point of being the only B&B isn't that allentown bestowed some monoply upon her, but that the city stock hasn't yet risen to the point that anybody else bothered.

Anonymous said...

Mike, Did you forget to ask her why she spent over $2 million in Other People's Money to lose to Charlie Dent AFTER losing two primary elections for mayor? She is back from her failed attempt to con money out of people in DC (that obviously didn't work) so she can scam the locals into another taxpayer funded gig.

michael molovinsky said...

@4:18, your anonymous comment will be the last of this nature. dent has beat everybody he ever ran against, all funded by other people. she had a national position is DC for five years, apparently that organization was quite satified with her work.

Jim Molchany POM said...

Sorry monkey mamma you are the slippery tongue serpent. Sam did not talk POM into giving her the salary. Myself along with Bobbie Rudolf were Board Members on the compensation committee. We were the ones that recommended a salary to the board. She was not involved in any way. She recused herself from all board work in that reguard. Its all recorded in the board minutes. It was a state organization,her salary was her complete compensation, no benefits,no expense account,no 401k etc. the board approval was unanimas maybe with one abstention if I remember correctly. Your free to dislike Ms Bennett if you want monkey momma but your continued use of the republican/Charlie Dent/Shawn Millan talking points will not go unchallenged. Stay tuned Allentown for this shall get very interesting to say the least

Anonymous said...

I am happy to hear that the controversy about Ms. Bennett's tenure at P.O.M.. Is put to rest.We can now allow Ms. Bennett to pursue Her political ambitions.

Dreaming of Justice said...

Anyone who has a better set of ideas about how to gain some traction in the economic marketplace owes it to the public to run. People gripe about the arena.. then put your heads together and present your ideas to your preferred candidate. Bennett is right- Allentown's image is sorely undercut by perceptions and realities of crime, school deficits in performance, and the continuing lag in the economic recovery. Who is going to move in to downtown Allentown without some expected commodities such as grocery stores? Bodegas cannot be the only choice, if we expect double-income couples to choose to live here, for example. It's already been noted that the arena will yield few jobs. A Weiss grocery will yield decent PT and FT jobs and benefits, and encourage other businesses to open. Just a few thoughts from an outsider, who has seen it before.

monkey momma said...

I appreciate Mr. Molchany's insight. He might be interested to know that I'm a registered democrat.

I think Mr. Molchany has gotten very used to defending his vote on Ms. Bennett's salary. It's not very fun having the IRS investigate, is it? (Because that's what happened when her salary became known.) I'd bet that was some pretty hot water, Mr. Molchany, especially since you were the President of the board that voted to give Sam that insane salary.

I've met Sam, and she's a hard-working, personable, driven woman. The problem is, she has very poor judgement, and I do not trust her. She accepted over 1/3 of the entire budget that POM obtained through grants and donations. It's a disgrace. You can SAY that she had "nothing" to do with this decision, but the fact is, she ACCEPTED it. It just shows a remarkable level of greed and opportunism.

It's not that I have a problem with anyone earning $100K or loads more, but in this context, it is absurd.


jim molchany said...

Must commend you monkey momma on your latest post and respect your opinion. As written it does not contain the political spin of the past. Yes it was a trying time for all of us at POM not only an investigation by the IRS but also the state attorney general{Corbett}. For all I know they both may still be investigating. The political air at the time was full of inaccurate information. I must ad though as a local leader Charlie Dent attended most POM receptions 1999 thru 2006 where he praised Allentowns program and handed out proclamation certificates. He praised the program and the public that participated and enhanced their neighborhoods. Why then in 2008 did he blast the program in political commercials as meaningless with handing out rakes as his punch line. We all worked very hard on that program and never expected 100% approval but Dents hypocracy was blatent. You may not approve of her salary monkey mamma that is your right but it was the boards decision to make. It is my opinion that the POM program is needed now more than ever. Also time to support the neighborhoods and their community groups. Anyone interested in spearheading the Allentown POM program step forword.

michael molovinsky said...

my take-away, from having conducted two recent interviews with bennett, is that her contention that the fate of the school system and city being inter-connected is correct. this reality has been completely ignored by pawlowski for the last 8.5 years, to allentown's determent. her POM salary, and other issues, are the scars of many years of public involvement.

jim molchany said...

I agree Michael but believe the school system has been ignored far longer than 8 1/2 years. Being a 65 wahs grad my pet peeve is the loss of junior high sports. We seem to want to demonize one another than find common goals. Wheres the mutual respect? Everyone has a place. I would challenge Rolf Oeler to be involved in a city wide soccer program for jr high kids. WE need it, he would be good at it and Jeff Tipping would be proud if he did. We gotta all stop complaining and do things to make a better city.