Mar 30, 2015

Lehigh County's Good Old Boys Part 2

In yesterday's post, we discuss David Jaindl being nominated to the Regional Planning Board, despite having some history of circumventing local zoning. As the largest land owner in the valley, he is essentially being invited to write the rules which will govern him. We are also watching Allentown's NIZ Baron, J.B. Reilly, write his own rules. Reillytown was created by Pat Browne, with a unique scheme allowing public state taxes to pay for Reilly's privately owned building. Any loose end was exploited by Reilly, such as even the cigarette tax going to his debt service. All along, the enablers were saying that although it's a golden goose for Reilly, the public will benefit from the increased tax base. We now learn that Reilly is appealing his assessments, greatly reducing the public benefit. His brand new buildings, paid for by the public, will pay less tax because that scheme allows him to charge less rent and show less income. Missing from that argument is that the public must make up that state tax shortfall through higher taxes and fees, and other municipalities have lost the tenants and taxes now occupying Reilly's buildings. Meanwhile, back at this circus of public exploitation, our local leaders have a cat eating mouse grin, explaining these calamities to the public. Pawlowski says that Allentown will benefit from a settlement with Reilly. There was never any mention of assessment settlements two years ago, when Pawlowski was cutting the ribbons and running for governor. County Executive Tom Muller supports Jaindl's nomination. There was nothing about that in his State Of The County report.

There really is nothing  new with these shenanigans. Today, we worship Harry Trexler and call him General. Back in his day, he was the largest land owner and developer by far. Cedar Park was actually created to enhance his west end real estate developments, on both sides of Hamilton Street. Although there was no scrutiny back then by local bloggers, I suppose that there was some dissent. Will our great grandchildren call Reilly and Jaindl generals, and picnic by their statues?


Anonymous said...


The only surprise in the assessment reporting is that the media seems surprised. Perhaps they are only appearing so for appearance sake.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

As there is no private party financing involved, the central business district re-development is simply how do the developers get the most money from the taxpayer.

Yes, the new buildings look nice, but what happens in 10 years when there is no downtown "Renaissance" as promised.

But then, all the other promises will turn out to be empty ones as well.

Anonymous said...

A major difference between Reilly and Jaindl and Trexler is that Trexler made his wealth from the Trexler Lumber Company

Reilly and Jaindl are getting wealthy from the taxpayer's dime.

Although I'm sure Trexler charged a premium price for his wood as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Muller knew about Jaindl at the time. It's Becky Bradley's pick and she lied about it. Why in the world would a Democrat like Muller who is at war with the Commissioners pick a pure bred Republican like Jaindl for anything?

The Morning Call can run all the cuddly articles about the NIZ it wants but JB and his City Center company have been a big let down for the city and the taxpayers. All he's managed is a poached bank and some restaurants with all that cash. Nice new buildings yes but any developer could have done that.

It doesn't surprise me Reilly doesn't want to pay his fair share of taxes. Much like David Jaindl, he views the public only as a gullible, easily manipulated means to enrich oneself. They don't get rich and stay rich by paying for things out of their own wallet.

Anonymous said...

The entire NIZ matter has reeked of corruption from the beginning. Not necessarily unlawful actions by anyone, but careless stewardship of public dollars. Thankfully, such a plan is described as 'one-of-a-kind,'no longer available, etc.

But, the bleeding of taxpayer dollars has been heavy with no end in sight. A deficit nearing 100 million dollars has already been created for state taxpayers because of the NIZ. All this, BEFORE the state is made whole again. Before taxpayers can even begin the process of paying the massive new debts put upon all of us by the NIZ.

Now, we have Mr. Reilly claiming he needs more tax concessions to continue his projects. Doesn't this indicate the whole NIZ scheme to be a failure based upon bad economics? I say it does.

Lehigh County taxpayers are best served if their legislators stand firm on the current assessment. Mr. Reilly will just need to increase his rents upward.

We've seen how concessions just lead to MORE requests for concessions. It doesn't end until someone says ENOUGH. The hole is plenty deep as it is.

Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

@9:08, glad to host your comment, but some disclaimers are in order. muller was a republican, he turned democrat for the election. i don't know how jaindl and reilly view the public. although our elected leaders should serve us better, it's also up to the public to speak out about inequities; if it's an inappropriate appointment or assessment appeal.

Anonymous said...

This is not about people calling Themselves Democrats, Republicans or Independents it's about logical planning and non-conflicting decision makers.

Anonymous said...

People like Smith College professor Andrew Zimbalist knew what to expect ahead of time. But virtually nobody wanted to know back when it mattered. Now, virtually everybody acts like this is all a big surprise.

Sheeple, please relax and enjoy YOUR record-setting Palace of Sport!

It's transformative.

AuH20 said...

I hope the city is bracing for the day the tax breaks end.