Sep 10, 2015

Allentown's Crossing Guard Controversy

This morning we learn from facebook that Pawlowski tried to bully the Allentown School District into paying for the crossing guards. This story, like an onion, has many layers. First, let's look at Bob Smith's statement on his election facebook page. 
I have been a school board director for 12 years. President of the board the last 4 years. And I have always worked hard for the tax payers of Allentown. Today I had a meeting with the mayor, city solicitor, assistant chief, city council president ,superintendent of Asd and school solicitor. The mayor wanted the school district to take over crossing guards and pay half the costs. They showed a statute that says school district must pay half if no other agreement could be reached. I heard too much talk about the school district taking over and said the school district will not take this over as this is public safety. This should be handled by the city not the school district. We would contribute toward costs but we do not know what we are getting from the state and I would need to talk to the whole board as well. Not to mention we already voted on our current budget. Mayor wanted us to open our budget. Then it happened, everything about pay to play came to my mind but in this case pay or lose your SRO officers in our school buildings. The mayor said if we did not pay he would pull all Sro officers from our school buildings. I blew my top and said do not threaten me or the school district. This was blackmail, a threat, strong arming and bullying. I will not be blackmailed, strong armed or bullied into making any deal that hurts our taxpayers, students or our staff. We offered 100,000. To start work on a plan to help hire crossing guards. We would need to wait and see what our state funding is and time to talk to the whole board on this.The mayor rejected this good faith offer, I'm very disappointed in him today. Now I see what contractors must have gone through. The mayor also threatened to sue us. We will continue to work with the city and help where we can but if the mayor wants to fight and blackmail us on the safety of our students and staff that is a fight I will gladly take defending with all my being to protect our students, teachers and all our taxpayers. I think we need to ask where all that money for water went that the city budget is so tight. I do not work for the mayor and he threatened the wrong person today. I will continue to defend the taxpayers and will not be bullied, blackmailed or threatened by him or anybody else. I post this so the public knows the truth. The school district will work together with the city despite what happened today but will not take over the crossing guards and will pay something we can afford not what the mayor demands.
I have no issue with Bob's reaction to the bully tactic by Pawlowski, but must note that other school board members were asked not to go public with this development. Another layer on this story is Pawlowski's attempt last spring to load the school board with his chosen picks, through the Citizens For A Better Allentown PAC. After the FBI raid, those endorsed tried to separate themselves from the taint, but that dye still sticks. Another layer is that the Allentown budget supposedly has a $9 million dollar fund gap, which precipitated Pawlowski's strong arming of the school board. So much for the water and sewage lease being a silver bullet.

This story is also being covered by Bernie O'Hare at Ramblings.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mike,

I appreciate Bob getting the story out on Facebook before the mayor could spin it his way in the press. Public safety has always been and must remain the city's responsibility. If the city wants to make the case that the school district should pay for the police officers involved in providing this public safety in and around school facilities then the same should apply to every other venue and business in town. School tax dollars should used for educational purposes, city tax dollars applied to city responsibilities.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

So.......back to business as usual.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope the Federal Government steps in soon and ends this reign of terror.
Real people are being abused.
Even the children are used as pawns.

Anonymous said...

A few points:

- I appreciate Bob putting this out. I don't appreciate Bob & the district offering $100,000 to pay for the city to do its job.

- ASD has had to make painful cuts to live within its budget. If Pawlowski's blown through the Water & Sewer money, plus the increased property tax from the NIZ properties, he needs to make those same cuts.

- I assume that the Mayor's next stop was the arena, to collect on all the overtime that the city's shelled out to combat the "perception" of crime around the arena. Yeah, not likely.

- From the list of characters Bob lists as attending the meeting, I'm assuming Ray O'Connell is still City Council President. If so, he must have been there supporting the idea. Shame on Ray, who had a good career with ASD and should know better. Instead of being Pawlowski's lap dog, he should be speaking up. He should know right from wrong. Just another disappointment in a long list of disappointments with Ray on City Council.

- What happened to the narrative of financial genius Pawlowski rescuing Allentown from its financial problems? I guess that's blown to hell. All he's done is kick the can down the road and make sure we (and our kids) will be paying three times as much as we would have had without his "solutions". If he has a $9 million hole to fill, City Council should be investigating WTF happened.

- It's very possible that Pawlowski is mentally unhinged from all the pressure of the FBI investigation. City Council should look at ways to dump him. Fast.

- Funny how Pawlowski has used "its for the children" as the reason previous initiatives that he wanted to get approved. I even seem to remember Ed's wife filling council chambers for one of the bogus proposals she supported. I guess keeping those kids from getting run over by a car isn't one of the Pawlowski's priorities.

Anonymous said...

Now then, if I recall correctly, tax revenues collected from within the boundaries of the NIZ can be tapped to pay for developers' building construction loans. The amount used for developer debts would be funding NOT used, as it once was, to cover usual city services to residents and business within those same blocks.

Seems to me, this alternate use of tax revenue, together with increased overtime for NIZ police protection, is partly responsible for whatever budget deficit the Mayor is facing.

To close the Mayor's deficit by extracting funds from the school district is to take back some of the promised NIZ benefits to taxpayers. Not from the developers, of course.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Ed is operating in a fog,
Philly Fran is behind this strong arm attempt.

Charlie Sch said...

The NIZ does not affect real estate taxes, which continue to flow in a normal fashion to the county, the city and the school district.

The water and sewage lease deal was mainly designed to reduce the amount of money that the city had to pay each year out of its operating revenues to make up for the Afflerbach-enhanced pension underfunding.

Jamie Kelton said...

One tragic accident of a child getting hurt at an ungraded school crossing will end this.

Anonymous said...

The City has advertised that there are job openings for School Crossing Guards.

https://eservices.allentownpa.gov/Default.asp?Build=AT.atRecruitments.Main&Mode=OpenByQBE&atRecruitments..RECR_ID=279&ChildBos=atRecruitments.atPosition;atRecruitments.atPosition.atjdDocument;atRecruitments.atPosition.atjdDocument.atjdItems

You can't force people to apply for the position.

This would be an easy job for a retired person or a person with a very flexible schedule.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the crossing guard work is that it makes it very hard to hold a second job on a weekday, because you are needed at 2 or 3 times during the week. An applicant also is now expected to pay about $70 out of pocket to do the clearances and fingerprinting, which is hard for many applicants, considering they might not get hired and paid for another month or so.

However, the City could certainly make more of an effort to publicize the positions and to hire people faster after they apply.