Jan 29, 2015

Reducing Democracy In Allentown

As I posted yesterday, and reported in today's Morning Call, Pawlowski has started a PAC to squash any deliberation of his ideas, at both City Council and the school district. Joining and supporting this PAC are Allentown's state representatives, newly elected Peter Schweyer and Michael Schlossberg.  Schlossberg says that some level of agreement is necessary. This political wisdom coming from someone who has never had an opponent. While Pawlowski claims that his goal is to improve the school district, both he and the article omit the fact that the NIZ's J.B. Reilly is seeking school tax reductions on the new buildings. If things are not bleak enough on the democracy horizon, Jeanette Eicenwald announced that she will not seek re-election. Allentown should be outraged by Pawlowski and his PAC, and with the support by Schweyer and Schlossberg for it; In truth, the voters don't care beyond the beer and pretzels at the new arena.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

MM, its getting ugly out here. I have been asked for past 2 months from varoius political reps to run for school board with the belief there is power in numbers. Unfortunately, I know from ezperience it actualy is first comes the money, then comes the power. The school board seat and city council position may seem low paying and frivolous but, in trurh, it holds alot of influential weight. My advice to the candidates: please start gathering your financial backing and backers NOW. Good ideas, good people, and great track records dont win Allentown elections. Good budgets and stratwgies do. Unforyunately. - AlfonsoTodd

michael molovinsky said...

alfonso, i see from the typos that you sent your comment from the smart phone. i believe that the voters of allentown should be outraged by pawlowski's intent with such a PAC, furthermore, they should be ashamed of both schweyer and schlossberg for participating. schweyer has been a state rep less than a month, in the new hispanic district, and he joins the power elite bandwagon, how very sad.

Anonymous said...

MM, you are correct. We should be outraged but most are blinded from the light of the PPL building and video billboards downtown. And yes, I am using a smartphone with not so early morning intellect. Lol. -Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

Residents, understand, property taxes collected in the NIZ cannot be used to pay off NIZ loans. With the Allentown School District administration announcing they were considering Keystone Realty's offer to appeal any property tax reductions, for a commission and no upfront cost to the ASD, this stands in the way of Reilly's and Pawlowski's goal of diverting as many tax dollars as possible to pay NIZ loans or to subsidize tenants and businesses. Students, tax payers, and teachers be damned as long as they have a compliant school board that keeps quiet about tax reductions.

Article: Allentown School District considers contract to seek out more property tax revenue
URL: http://bit.ly/taxreductappeal

-Steven Ramos

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I was blunt in the Call and will be so again, Ed wants to control the school board by the same method he uses to control council, by electing people he can control. Anyone who accepts help from Ed understands what's expected, total fidelity! Those who accept help from Ed's PAC understand this and are ready to be"part of the team".
The voters of course will have the final say, but will they care enough to get out and vote?

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott@7:46, i believe that the voters in allentown don't care if decisions are not submitted to due diligence, or if opposing viewpoints are not presented or represented. they're not concerned about equity, equality or level playing fields. just pass the mustard for their hotdog at the new arena.

Anonymous said...

As a co-chair of the finance and budget committee I have had an ongoing concern about the assessment appeals, especially since the general county reassessment. I was told repeatedly by the CFO and the solicitor the effect of these appeals was a wash due to the structure of the reassessment. Now with the specter of Keystone Realty looming on the horizon the CFO sends a memo to the board members stating how negatively these very same appeals have impacted the school district, to the tune of about $750,000. During one such appeal, Home Depot, I asked and found out the taxes the owner paid were considerably less prior to the assessment than the liability after the reassessment. Who would not appeal? In the end, with the appeal in place, the school district lost very little. I wonder how many other properties this also has applied to. How can I vote against appeals when I have incomplete information about how much the school district is really losing in this process? There needs to be clarity. I cannot make decisions, negatively impacting tax payers, when I do not trust the data I have been given or that which I have asked for and has been stonewalled. I have expressed a concern to other board members and administration about the equal application of the Keystone Reality assessment process. In effect I am not comfortable enough with the objectivity of the process. The cavalier attitude by the administration in stating the budget process is as much art as it is science is appalling and irresponsible as an excuse for an “unexpected” overage of $11,000,000. But the tax payer takes the brunt of this mismanagement. Did we really need to increase taxes last year? Now they say processes are in place to assure this does not happen again. Why weren't they in place last year?

David Fehr Zimmerman

Julian Kern said...

Another bully tactic by pawlowski to get people he wants on council and school board. He does this so he can have rubber stampers and a council who is not going to look out for what's best for the residents. It's all about his agenda. I have been going to city council meetings for over two years now only missing two or three. Current council just sits there and stares at you when you speak. Lucky to even get a decent response from them half the time. If more people went to council meetings they would see how they run the meetings. I thank people like you Michael for trying to expose the truth since our news media does a horrible job at journalism. City council is suppose to be independent from the administration and is suppose to represent the residents of the city. We the people need to create change by voting in people who will do just that instead of joining pawlowski's agenda. The biggest challenge will be to get voters to vote for those candidates. Can it be done? Yes but is going to take a joint effort by all who know what is really going on. I am disappointed by both schweyer and schlossberg for supporting this pac but am not shocked. It's the political circle here in Allentown.

Julian Kern said...

Oh and something else to add about the assessments. There are property owners in the city who are frauding the system. These are landlords who register they live at the rental when they do not which they enroll in the homestead act which gives them a 540 reduction on their school taxes. This needs to be looked into. We have found numerous landlords who are doing this which they were reporte. In my opinion the whole homestead act needs to be redone.

LVCI said...

michael molovinsky said...
scott@7:46, i believe that the voters in allentown don't care if decisions are not submitted to due diligence... just pass the mustard for their hotdog at the new arena.


I agree. A large part of the residents don't care because they are not permanently vestedin Allentown's future Too many are renters who don't have any skin in the game. The more apartments these investors mange to create the less a threat anyone will rock their boat. Hence why I think they intend to create more rentals then permanent housing. It's not in their best interests. Stacking the deck.. so to speak.

Guys like you, me and Scott are the one who made long term financial commitments unlike most of the most of the mobile residents they are attempting to attract to the NIZ. I see lots of new rentals, but very little in the way of long term commitments in the way of homeownership.

This is not to put down renters, but unlike years ago, people put down roots and committed to 20 and 30 year mortgages to raise their kids. As a result they considered Allentown their permanent home. I'm not seeing that happening as it did back then.

Is it any wonder then why so few care or even bother to vote when they can pull up stakes anytime things head South?

Anonymous said...

Just have to jump in here. I find this entire issue fascinating.

1. Reading between the lines, I get the impression the NIZ funding scheme is already pressing the developers too hard. Reductions elsewhere (like through lower school taxes) will be more helpful than originally thought.

My answer to Center City would be "too bad." Looks like your figures didn't incorporate enough room for error. So, raise lease payments.

On the matter of school taxes, Renters in multi-unit dwellings DO NOT PAY an adequate amount of school taxes within their monthy rent payment. A converted 2- unit building does not pay double the school taxes even though it now house 2 families, rather than one. You can look it up!

I realize school taxes are based on a figure the County, not ASD, places on a property. However, that method fails to work today in an equitable manner, particularly in urban areas. Besides, many assessments are done by looking at Google aerial maps! Not exactly an exact science.

The school district is stuck where it is under the current County method of property valuation. Some sort of change is needed. Residency is indeed becoming more rent based as LVCI points out.

Fred Windish


Dreaming of Justice said...

This isnt a city-it is a fiefdom.

Guess who are the vassals?
It aint those rich rascals!

Julian Kern said...

I agree the current taxing system needs to be changed. It's not fair to property owners such as home owners. They need to either bill by how many families live in a property such as mentioned or create a better system that is fair for everyone. I am a renter but have seen both sides. I lived with my aunt growing up and she owned her home. I saw the struggles of her paying her mortgage, taxes, and maintaining the home. I also experienced the renter side of it as I have rented over the last several years. I was born and raised in Allentown. This pac is just another step for pawlowski to get his way even if it's not what's best for home owners or renters. It's about him and his cronies. If we don't stand up to these politicians at the polls it will only get worse. Question is how do we get the people who care realize this?

Monkeymomma said...

STARBUCKS!!!!!🙆

Anonymous said...

Am I not a good person for Allentown Council, the Lehigh County commissioners, Allentown School Board and PA State Assembly in 2016 ... If I have the will and heart to run after suffering political bullying from these elitists, I object to this PAC because our state representatives and other elected officials should stick to their elected tasks and govern correctly and not put their political cronies in . How strange is it that with all my experience and knowledge THAT THESE PEOPLE really don't want me involved in anything including my neighborhood or any activity whatsoever... The east side of Allentown lived through 4 years of lame duck representation because of redistricting now we see representation only loyal to Pawlowski ..Where has the American dream

Denis Pearson