Mar 16, 2015

The Morning Call's Favor To Pawlowski's PAC

The Morning Call accepted the following letter from Scott Armstrong in early February for publication.  Then, after sitting on it for six weeks until petitions were due,  they told Armstrong that they couldn't run it because he now was a candidate for school board. 
The wrong answer to a real problem
It should come as no surprise that Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski is creating a Political Action Committee to take control of the Allentown School Board when one considers his demonstrated propensity for dictatorial power and demand of total allegiance of those in his service. Until now, the Allentown School Board has escaped his notice and managed to operate with autonomy to act in the best interests of the district, the students, and the taxpayers.  This will end unless the voters intervene and prevent the mayor from using the PAC to purchase school board seats.
  Those with and without children in the school district may wonder what harm could come if Ed Pawlowski’s yes men/women win control of the school board.  First off, the board will reflect the mayor’s will rather than the residents’ interests. One only needs to look at Allentown’s other governing bodies (city council, zoning, planning etc) as evidence. None of these exhibit any independence; rather, they dutifully fulfill the mayor’s wishes. This acquiescence is the result of the mayor packing these entities with people whose main quality is loyalty to him. Those who have dared express an alternative point of view have failed to be reappointed. Clearly, the mayor’s slate will follow this same governing principle and he will use the school board to build on his already substantial political power base here in the city. The mayor’s political allies, i.e. the teachers’ union, will be given carte blanche on district issues such as their own salaries and benefits as well as appointments, staffing, policies, procedures and curriculum. The fox will be ruling the hen house, and the justifying spin will be “who knows more about education than teachers?”.  
 As a sitting director I take umbrage at the mayor’s statement concerning “the quality of the education provided by city schools.”  The main problem with the Allentown School District is that it is located in a municipality that is by all standards dysfunctional. This lack of proper municipal management has allowed poverty to explode in the city in recent years.  Any school district can provide a quality education to a percentage of low-income students, but no district can do the same when the student poverty rate climbs to well over 80%.  The mayor who came to town as an advocate for low-income housing has turned his back on the neighborhoods. His attempts to improve the city are limited to building shiny new buildings and silencing dissenting voices. We are told the NIZ (Neighborhood Improvement Zone) activity will spur the process of bringing “people back to the city.” Is this anything other than gentrification?  Clearly, it is the rich and powerful who are Ed Pawlowski’s main concern. 
 If Ed Pawlowski’s concern about the quality of education in the city were sincere, he would not attempt to solve the problem by packing the school board with cronies. Instead, he would develop a real plan to improve Allentown’s struggling neighborhoods.
Scott Armstrong

Editor's Note: I found it necessary to shorten this letter for use on the blog. Please contact Scott Armstrong for full version.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So, he has lots of complaints about how Pawloski is doing things, but no alternatives to offer. Welcome to the mind of a conservative.

michael molovinsky said...

@6:05, actually armstrong did offer an alternative

Years ago, I was very involved in the Rental Inspections Initiative that was overwhelmingly approved by the voters in 1999. That once successful and popular program uncovered hundreds of substandard and illegal units. Mayor Pawlowski eliminated the systematic inspection cycle, quintupled the fees and turned the program into a cash cow for the city’s general fund. Left in place, this systematic inspection program would have improved the downtown neighborhoods, and the poverty level of the city’s school district would have leveled off at a manageable rate.

Anonymous said...

That's not an alternative, it's a policy complaint, and there is no compelling evidence to support Scott's claim that if Pawloski had left the status quo in place, Allentown would be a thriving upscale community without any real world problems associated with major US cities.

It's unlikely the Rental Inspections Initiative would have done much to curb the massive NYC influx into the Valley.

michael molovinsky said...

blog mentor@6:05 and 7:33, putting aside your real motive, to attack armstrong, pawlowski trying to get his preferred democrats elected, as opposed to ones already there, such as ce-ce, is also no alternative to the school system dilemma. the current board has discouraged more students by opposing the KOZ for the phoenix lofts, and is demanding a detailed explanation of the "new found" funds in the district. on principle alone, i agree with armstrong that the mayor's PAC subverts democracy in allentown

Anonymous said...

We saw how well Mayor Pawloski and His appointments performed as to controlling Police Overtime.Wait till Pawloski gets tocontrol the School District.This Pawloski is just plain corrupt or totally incompetent

michael molovinsky said...

@9:46, i have never alleged corruptness. such an allegation should not be made anonymously or without specifics. i do agree that the police overtime for the arena should have been anticipated, and financed by the arena authority. besides a few eating establishment connected with the arena, there is no general merchant spinoff. the merchants in the 9 and 10 hundred block should not have to contribute to the increased police presence. it's one thing not to benefit the entire downtown, but it's punitive for the merchants to be made to subsidize it.

DreamingOfJustice said...

Welcome to Itty-bitty-city Fascism.

Control the government with robot-minded yes men and yes women.

Control the media by creating inherent conflicts of interest with the newspaper of record.

It's all about control.

Anonymous said...

I'm of two minds about Mayor Pawloski. On one hand I sincerely believe the Mayor is doing the best he can to revamp the Central Business District with new buildings to replace the 19th century ones that one sees on postcards of Allentown made in the 1910s and 1920s. The Urban Renewal of Hamilton Street and the area around is was necessary.

Now, the loss of some artefactual gems was an unfortunate casualty of this urban renewal. Clearly, the design of the new buildings is quite.. monolithic at best and reminds one of what one would see in a monolithic future, dominated by temples erected to praise the government. They lack style and are actually quite boring to look at.

One also has to remember that Mayor Pawloski is not from Allentown, he's from Chicago, and is used to the machine-type government that florishes there. After all, how many decades has it been since a Republican was elected Mayor there. Pawloski believes he's a political boss and what he wants as Mayor, he gets his way. And that, is that.

The political slate which he organized is representive of tha type of machine politics he's accustomed to, and I suspect he sees nothing wrong with it. After all, he's the Mayor and that's how Ed wants it done.

This also includes the cronyism, the political deals, and the other back-room politics that Ed thrives in. After all, that's how it's done in Chicago, and we all know how well Chicago is run.

After Pawloski decides to retire (he won't lose in an election), we'll see his legacy in City Government for decades to come. And the subsidies needed to keep the White Elephant open, which will become used less and less over time will continue.

I also suspect the Mariott won't stay open more than a few years either. It requires businessmen to stay there; which aren't coming to the new City Center buildings in large numbers. It will eventually wind up as welfare housing owned by the AHA.

What Allentown 5.0 will look like will be a modernized 3.0, with the new buildings lacking tenants above the first floor Family Dollar Stores; the expensive restaurants closed due to economics and either replaced by inexpensive Pizza and Chinese take out storefronts, or.. pawn shops.

Rich Fegley said...

I'm confused about what is corrupt and what is not corrupt. This PAC may not be "corrupt" but the PAC certainly seems to "corrupt" democratic politics.

"Political corruption is the use of powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties, is done under color of law or involves trading in influence."

So what is "trading in influence"?

"Influence peddling is the illegal practice of using one's influence in government or connections with persons in authority to obtain favors or preferential treatment for another, usually in return for payment. Also called traffic of influence or trading in influence. In fact, influence peddling is not necessarily illegal as OECD has often used the term "undue influence peddling" to refer to illegal acts of lobbying. However, influence peddling bears the stench of corruption that may de-legitimize democratic politics with the general public."

cor·rupt
adjective
1. having or showing a willingness to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain. "unscrupulous logging companies assisted by corrupt officials"

synonyms: dishonest, unscrupulous, dishonorable, unprincipled, unethical, amoral, untrustworthy, venal, underhanded, double-dealing, fraudulent, bribable, criminal, illegal, unlawful, nefarious;

So...how do we define "personal gain"? After money and gifts, can "power" be considered personal gain? Getting elected may be worth more than money for someone. Power can be priceless.

Let's just say the system has been corrupted. Corrupt as in "to destroy the integrity of".