Feb 10, 2015

The New Allentown

As I mentioned in a recent post, there certainly is a new order in Allentown. In the Golden Era, we were led by the business giants, through their appointed, duly elected minions. I suppose we are now in an oligarchy, again fronted by appointed minions. There has even been a change in the minion pool. In recent years, you had to be a Democrat to win, now you must be a cooperating Democrat. It is interesting to note that this lack of true democracy seems to bother very few citizens of this former All American City. The anointed mayor can choose the City Council, which was supposed to help regulate him. The oligarchy can choose the school board, which in turn can cooperate with property taxing strategies, which best suit them. While a few of us will still sign the sheet to speak out at public meetings, our words will fall on deaf ears and blank pages.


Anonymous said...

Mr molovinsky

I don't normally comment here on your blog, although I do read it from time to time. This entry you made today reminds me of the two Allentowns I've lived in. There was the Allentown before 1970, when it was the center of commerce, banking, as well as the social center of the area.

The political leadership in City Hall was not as dominant as the civic leadership of the Max Hess's, Donald Vollmers, The Leh family, and the others of the financial who met at the Livingston Club on South 7th Street. Bob Stimmel is a name that comes to mind, he spearheaded the Bicentennial committee as well as played a massive role in civil affairs during the 1960s.

Three events in the 1970s changed our city significantly. The three-year construction of Hamilton Mall, the construction of Lehigh Valley Mall, and also the election of Joe Daddona as mayor.

By turning Hamilton Street into a construction zone for three years, many people found shopping at Whitehall and the new satellite malls that were constructed in the area far more appealing than walking in the weather in a construction zone. When the Lehigh Valley Mall opened in 1976, that was a "new" Hamilton Street for many, and the downtown never really recovered.

The Daddona years changed the face of the city. Emma Tropiano was correct, as the movement of former Allentonians into the Townships left a vacuum that was filled by immigration from outside of the area. These new immigrants vote largely Democratic, which changed the political landscape of the city.

Also, our city government prior to Ed Pawlowski was pretty parochial, in terms that our mayors were pretty much small-town mayors, even though Allentown has been a large city since the 1930s. Pawlowski is a big-city mayor who is not from our area, has little knowledge of it's history, and governs like Mayor Daley. He plays a type of hardball politics such as controlling the city council, and now the school board, insuring that what he wants to do is what happens. PPL Arena is where it is because Ed wanted it there, and he plays to the Democratic base of the city, because many Republicans have either left the city limits or the area.

But then, you get the government you elect. Pawlowski and his predecessor, Joe Daddona, have changed our city politically into a smaller version of Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. The oligarchy you call it ....

The Allentown of 2015 has little in common with that of 1962 when we had our seven-hour parade that I still remember as a child celebrating our fine city.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done, 7:13!

Allentown politics represents our burgeoning 'New American Way.'

Government is ALWAYS good. You'll see. Now, sit down and shut-up! Your Daddy will handle everything.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Finally a comment that encapsulates, perhaps, the best perspective on Allentown, over the past decades, that I have ever read.
Thanks to a dedicated and very astute Allentonian....Most of us older Allentonians over 75 years of age are very dismayed with our state of affairs here in the city....Especially those of us who are still here living in the Center City area.....
"The Old Allentown Curmudgeon" (PJF)

Mickie said...

The enemies of our city are arrogance and apathy. Hopefully, we will be able to Corbett their butts out of office. My voting slogan is "anyone but Ed" and his cronies. Can't we find any visionary to return democracy to our city?

Anonymous said...

the word you use is to complicated for many, simpley put instead of allways those fancy words¿ The same old carnival or circus¿ The abreveations have changed but it is the same old story line with the same actors¿

patent pending

monkey momma said...

Loved 7:13's comment - he or she should comment more often!

doug_b said...

@anon 7:13 "Three events in the 1970s changed our city significantly. The three-year construction of Hamilton Mall, the construction of Lehigh Valley Mall, and also the election of Joe Daddona as mayor"

I disagree. What happened to Allentown happened to many other cities.

The 70's & 80's were the 'move to the suburbs' years. The convenience of a mall: indoor shopping, ample free parking, easy access, and 9 to 9 shopping hours, highly contributed to the death of many down towns.

The second big event was the demise of Mack Trucks, Beth Steel, Western Elec. This drove the nail in the economic coffin.

Unfortunately, the housing stock in Allentown proper is worn out. Homes that were built in 1920, simply did not fit 1980 life styles. People left for the 'burbs'.

In many cities, their down towns are comprised of: Theaters, Stadiums, Restaurants, and Apartments.

Minneapolis has only one down town department store: Macy's. The other dept stores (about 6) vanished between 1980 and 2000. Also gone are the independent clothing / shoe stores. Minnesota spend $700,000,000 for a Twins Stadium, and $1,200,000,000 for a Vikings stadium. It was forced down the voters throats - by the Dem's and our gov Mark Dayton (I call him Gov Mumbles).

Most residents of Minneapolis don't go down town once a year.

So what's happening to Allentown, with your hockey team, resturants, and apartment building is just a miniature of what other cities are experiencing.