Oct 15, 2018

A Wild Ride

No offense to Susan Wild,  but she wasn't exactly a local household political name.  Prior to becoming solicitor in Pawlowski's administration,  most locals virtually didn't know her,  except she did run once unsuccessfully for county commissioner.

In this last quarter alone, she has garnered $1.3 million dollars in contributions in her run for congresswoman.  Almost all that money is from out of state.  They are not contributing because of their faith in Wild, but in their desire to flip the House of Representatives.  Furthermore,  most of those contributions are actually a negative reaction to Donald Trump.

As a local political junkie, I am somewhat offended that our congressperson might be chosen essentially by outside money.

Kline's Island, An Environmental Frankenstein

Today, Kline's Island is synonymous with the sewer plant. It wasn't always that way. Originally, like Adam's Island, it was owned by a family, and had houses. It was the location of the first bridges across the Lehigh, being the narrowest point. Allentown doesn't have a good history with the environment. Besides allowing the Wildland's Conservancy to actually defile our park system with their inappropriate, token science fair projects, we're not much for islands. The sewer plant on Kline's will soon be transferred to the Lehigh County Authority. Far worse for the previous island, we are allowing a company to build a trash to energy plant, which will mix imported garbage and sewage into pellets to burn. This project isn't energy driven, but rather motivated by tax credits and finance. Allentown is the only community which was receptive to such such an environmental frankenstein. The top photo shows Kline's Island in 1939, when it was still an island. Allentown decided that Kline's would be a good spot to use as a fill dump, and filled in the entire western channel of the former island. Please join me in my efforts to save the small historic Robin Hood dam on the Little Lehigh. Believe me, Allentown City Hall doesn't know best. 

above reprinted from June 5, 2013


The public trash to private cash plant on the island was never built. If it was, it may have been part of the Pawlowski corruption trial. Unfortunately, the small Robin Hood Dam was demolished by the Wildlands Conservancy, and its rubble piled around the formally picturesque stone bridge piers.  It's five years later, and this blog continues to fight against the sacred cows, and for the traditional park system.

Oct 12, 2018

Kanye West and Allentown

Dealing with troll like behavior, unfortunately, has become part of the blogosphere. One such person calls himself SPEEDSTR21. He believes that I report on black crime, but not so much on white crime. I tried to explain to him a few times that I do not report on crime at all, white or black.
But, because I did post about the protests by local NAACP and The Road To Pennsylvania (Hispanic group from Reading), surely I must be a practicing bigot. He doesn't seem to grasp that the protests have a political aspect that interest me, but not crimes per se. Although I started deleting his comments,  it doesn't deter him from sending them, usually in clusters.

I hope SPEEDSTR21 watched Kanye West at the White House yesterday. Although West acknowledges that police abuse is a reality, his main message was one of victim mentality. When I attended the Hip Hop Panel sponsored by the local NAACP last year, a theme was that black performers were not profiting from that genre, instead it was white promoters making the money.  I think that Kanye would take exception with that premise. I do know that SPEEDSTR21 squanders his energy worrying about this blog. I do not purport to understand the black condition in Allentown or anywhere else,  but sense that Kanye West has a message from which they might benefit.

Oct 11, 2018

Scott Armstrong On Allentown Living

Living behind enemy lines.

 For the past twelve years I have lived in a one party town, in a city complete controlled, top to bottom by the party of which I am not a member nor could ever be a member of, the Democratic Party.I have witnessed this party destroy the municipality I have called home for twenty five years. As a unit they removed, or tacitly approved of the removal of all those whom they suspected of intellectual independence from any and all positions of city power and influence. The media was of course allied with the controlling party and published propaganda instead of news, never questioning anything. Instead they consistently painted a rosy picture of constant improvement and happy faced news stories. As a Republican the Democratic voters made the mistake of electing me onto the school board some time back, this was possible because I could cross file as one of them. They made sure not to repeat the error next time. That was fine by me because the four long years I serve I was treated as a distinct and unwelcome minority. I was subjected to slanders, smears, and mocked routinely. The press routinely misquoted me, allowed hateful accusatory letters to the editor to be published, and the Morning Call editorial page made a special exception to their own rules against personal attacks in op-eds by printing one that claimed "I denigrated the poor" . (The excuse for this slur was I rallied the board to oppose a KOZ approval for a project that would have allowed the conversion of an old mill, in a high crime flood plain to be converted into medium high density residential units.)I could go on.

As "normal" working people we have become surrounded by people/renters who apparently don't work, yet have all the luxuries, plenty of leisure time, and no respect for themselves, their neighbors and/or the the neighborhood. This is what it is like to live behind the lines in a city controlled by the Democratic Party. Abuse and neglect are common and good luck trying to report it, same goes for reporting crime. Meanwhile the controlling forces in this town/elected officials are more concerned with furthering their own political careers( this involves being a good and faithful soldier to the Democratic machine). The end result is rubber stamp voting and government more concerned with virtue signaling.

Less experienced people will point to the current divides on city council and the lack of 100% percent support for the mayor and his initiatives. This is due to the departure of Ed Pawlowski and the resulting power vacuum. The Democrats are now fighting over the spoils and hatching plots to destroy their inner party competitors and cement power for their own Democratic faction. Folks it won't last, soon enough a victor in this mini civil war will emerge and the city will once again have a mayor who will never be questioned, a rubber stamp council, and a press that reports it all as progress.

Friends who visit from the areas outside the city, in places where government is civil, open, bi-partisan and yes...effective, wonder why we don't make an escape to freedom. Move to a surrounding community with a less disruptive environment,kinder neighbors,cleaner safer streets...

They have a right to wonder, after all why would anyone chose to stay captive in a city that doesn't work?

Scott Armstrong

Social Media Ablaze Over Fire

The city spending money to tear down a rich landlord's property is more than some peeps on facebook can take. Doug wrote... Someone please explain to me why the taxpayers are going to foot the bill for a building to be torn down, when the building is owned by Nat Hyman? Well Doug, because public officials have declared that the fire damaged building must be demolished immediately, and that sort of expedited action usually takes the city to implement. A private party would need a week just to gather the necessary permits.

Over the years the city has torn down buildings before, then collected from the property owner, it is far from an unprecedented action. There is however, added fuel to these speculations. The owner did himself run for mayor, and may be less than popular at city hall. I expect that the flames against the landlord will continue to be fanned, both in the press and on facebook.

Oct 10, 2018

The Morning Call And Allentown

Yesterday on facebook,  on an Allentown information page no less,  someone wondered what yesterday's post about Bill White's column had to do with Allentown?  Actually,  just about everything.  The Morning Call remains the dominant news sources in Allentown, and especially with no new publisher on board,  Bill White is their voice.  Since the paper no longer publishes editorials,  only White's column now fills that void.

I find it no coincidence that White has no respect for Trump, wrote Monday's column and that all the letters recently were against Kavanaugh's appointment.

Although media bias seems more the norm than the exception in this era,  there are local consequences. For example,  Marty Nothstein was abused by an unsubstantiated claim.  Although totally exonerated,  like toothpaste,  those headlines do not go back into the tube. He has filed a lawsuit against the paper.  Perhaps the paper, in another time with more of a firewall wall between staff bias and candidates, would not have run with such an allegation.

As a local blogger,  I can think of no better calling than keeping my eye on the local main stream media.

Oct 9, 2018

Bill White's Pink Hat

I was somewhat surprised when Bill White's column didn't appear in the Sunday paper....  I figured he was too over-wrought from Saturday's vote to write.   His column appeared Monday, and it's about a church based group headed by an ambitious pastor, which is holding rallies to shift the congress to Democratic in November.
they feel religion and faith intersect for them in 2018 and why they can simultaneously claim to be nonpartisan and still tell people it’s imperative that we elect Democrats in November. “We do not advocate for a party,” the group’s website explains. “We are calling for the Common Good. This year, in this election, in these circumstances, the Common Good means flipping Congress.”
Apparently, neither they nor Bill White understand that despite their rationalization, they're implying that they're on a political mission endorsed by G-d.  Bill White has his pink hat pulled down so far over his head that he tries to soften his partisanship with quotes from the Morning Call's political expert, Muhlenberg College's Chris Borick.

While donations to the sanctimonious Reverend Good & Plenty's traveling revival show are through a 503c4,  if you prefer, he can accommodate tax deductible contributions through his supporting partner's 503c3.  Meanwhile, Bill White celebrates Halloween early, with just another anti-Trump piece, costumed as a column on this group.

Oct 8, 2018

Weitzel's Water World

Although other accounts of last nights meeting may indicate that the Swimming Toward The Future plan was drowned by City Council, its DNA lives in the new resolution.  Council thinks that somehow, they must get something from the $80,000 study.  It was not done in vain; Weitzel used it as part of his resume to secure his new job in Idaho.  Mike Schlossberg wisely pointed out that a future Council may misconstrue the passing of even a  revised resolution as essentially approving the contents of the plan. The Council will be changing dramatically. Schlossberg will be going to Harrisburg, with Schweyer not far behind. Julio Guridy, and his protege Cynthia Mota, indicated pleasure with Weitzel's Water World.   Francis Dougherty is the mad scientist who will nurture the DNA, until which time the monster can be resurrected. Dougherty is both the former and current Managing Director of Allentown. During his first term, he is the one who brought Weitzel to Allentown.
The politicized Trexler Trust is still on board with Water World. Weitzel's plan was his most ambitious to date. The destination water park would fill the entire section of the park near the Ott and Hamilton Street intersection. That plan should be formally rejected.  A new plan should be created which simply indicates that Allentown will conform with ADA regulations, and strive to open and operate our five swimming pools in a clean and safe fashion.

both pictures from Swimming Towards The Future presentation

above reprinted from May of 2012 

ADDENDUM OCTOBER 8, 2018: This past weekend one of the many congratulations on facebook to Karen EI-Chaar was from former park director Greg Weitzel. Weitzel, who now works in Idaho, wrote that he hopes to see El-Chaar at an upcoming national recreation convention. 

One of my achievements in regard to the WPA was making Ms. El-Chaar, in her former capacity as director of Friends Of The Parks, more familiar with the importance of the WPA in our park system. Ms. El-Chaar is now the new director of Allentown Park and Recreation. Although I'm encouraged that she asked me to reconvene my previous WPA group, I realize that an additional mission must be advocating for the traditional park system, of which the WPA is just one part.

When Ms. El-Chaar attends these groups she will be surrounded by Weitzel types, who think that being a park director is ordering recreation equipment from a catalog, the more the better. Frankly, Allentown's unique park system has been corrupted. We have historical structures, such as Bogert's Covered Bridge, rotting away. We have outside conservation groups blocking both view and access to the streams with weed walls. Although I will continue advocating for the WPA, I will not become silent on the other issues.

Oct 5, 2018

Allentown's WPA Watchman

Being a self appointed watchman over Allentown's WPA structures is an act in frustration. Since I started posting about the neglect of the structures in 2008, I have seen nothing of substance done. Actually, besides the steps at Irving Park being rebuilt, I have seen nothing done at all. While rebuilding that small staircase was positive, many negatives occurred in the meantime. The meantime has been over seven years. Also in the meantime, another set of steps were removed from Irving Park. The staircase at Union Terrace is deteriorating to the point where that structure is in jeopardy. The repair to a remaining staircase at Irving was done with a $25,000 grant from the Trexler Trust. In the last seven years, the park department's budget has been over $25 million dollars. The playground at Cedar Beach cost $1 million. Pawlowski has rejected my offer to be a liaison on behalf of the WPA structures. I'm pictured above standing over the former WPA wall, after it collapsed this summer, closing Lehigh Parkway's classic entrance. This city's history and future are tied to our park system and other quality of life issues, not just some private/public new buildings. I know there's no big money or national attention to be gained in fixing an old wall, but we have a responsibility to the things which made this city unique.

above reprinted from October of 2015

 On Wednesday evening,  city council confirmed Karen El-Chaar as the new park director. Her three predecessors, all appointed by former mayor Pawlowski, had an identical background...All three were from out of town, and had a masters in recreation. None of them had any appreciation of the iconic WPA structures, or Allentown's traditional park system. That system was a destination in Pennsylvania, and over the years the subject of many picture postcards.

After advocating for the WPA for over a decade,  finally a park director is in place who has an understanding of the significance of these structures in our park system.  As the former long term director of Allentown Friends Of The Parks,  Karen El-Chaar is schooled in both the traditional park system and the current recreational expectations of the public.  Mayor Ray O'Connell made an excellent choice.

Oct 4, 2018

Reconvening WPA Group

Karen El-Chaar, new director of the Allentown Park System, has asked if I would reconvene the WPA group I started in 2011. She is interested in cataloging an inventory of all structures built by the WPA, something which Allentown apparently doesn't have.

In yesterday's post, which was written in 2015, I concluded by saying that I was optimistic that Allentown would continue repairing the iconic structures. Actually, that optimism turned out to be unfounded, as nothing more was done. However, I am now again encouraged about the future. Karen El-Chaar does have an appreciation of the structures and their importance in the parks, something which all her predecessors lacked.

I invite my former committee members to contact me, and anyone else interested in this important endeavor.

In the photo above,  El-Chaar and I are standing in front of the double stairwell in Lehigh Parkway.  That structure is in need of repair.  Director El-Chaar will attend our upcoming meeting when scheduled.

molovinsky on allentown is published weekdays Monday thru Friday. Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym. Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers.

Oct 3, 2018

WPA, A Work In Progress

On Labor Day in 2011, The Morning Call ran a story about my efforts in regard to the neglected WPA structures, and announced my upcoming meeting at the Allentown Library. Among those in attendance at that meeting was Karen El-Chaar, director of Friends Of The Allentown Parks. Later that year, I took El-Chaar on a tour of the WPA structures throughout the park system. In 2013, I conducted my first tour of the WPA in Lehigh Parkway, in conjunction with Friends Of The Parks. This year, El-Chaar successfully secured a grant from The Trexler Trust, which is currently being used to restore the steps at Fountain Park. The grant is being supervised by Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director. The work is being done by Dietrich Stonemasonry, and managed by parks supervisor, Rick Holtzman.

Although much work remains to be done, it's my sense that all the decision makers mentioned above, are developing a greater appreciation of the unique gift that the WPA bestowed upon the Allentown park system.  I'm hoping that both that interest and work continues this coming spring and summer, especially in preserving the remaining portion of the wall in Lehigh Parkway.

reprinted from October of 2015

molovinsky on allentown is published weekdays Monday thru Friday.  Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym. Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers. Your readership is appreciated.

Oct 2, 2018

The Allentown Peanut Gallery

You cannot underestimate the comprehension of readers on social media. My post yesterday on this phenomenon yielded even crasser comments than before. One reader wrote I can't wait until this generation dies off, They've left us with nothing but financial debt and inherent fears. I can only assume that many of the responders never actually read the post, but were responding only to the picture of me with the Trump poster. Apparently, they are so used to memes, a link might be too much commitment for them. Facebook is full of people posting memes all day, and people commenting on them all day. Few understood that my title, Make Allentown Great Again, was a play or pun on the Trump image. A serial insulter wrote, Wow... the guy whose scared of minorities is a Trump supporter. This really is "informed commentary.

In a facebook entry yesterday, Allentown event promoter Alfonso Todd referred to those inappropriately  speculating on the tragic car explosion as the peanut gallery.  The peanut gallery is a good metaphor for many who comment on Facebook. The term originally referred to children who comprised the live audience for the Howdy Doody Show.

Oct 1, 2018

Making Allentown Great Again

Last week a distractor on social media accused me of making something up, because I didn't mention someone by name in a post. Another comment portrayed this blog as incendiary.  Perhaps I should outline this blog's raison d'ĂȘtre. I do not publish a newspaper,  for local news I refer you to the Morning Call and WFMZ Channel 69.  I do bill this blog as informed commentary. Although my critics may take exception with that description,  I have been involved with local issues for decades.

Although many people access the net on a mobile device,  the design aspects of this blog are for the web.  On that version a search engine is provided on the right sidebar.  Because the blog is eleven years old,  readers can find a post on almost any local topic of interest.

I am neither diplomatic or politically correct.  Some of my posts may occasionally annoy some people. While that outcome is not my normal intention,  I must confess to having posed for the above picture with that result in mind.

Sep 28, 2018

The Kavanaugh/Ford Hearing

Christine Ford certainly delivered yesterday in emotionality. However, as Brett Kavanaugh sharply noted, there is nothing to corroborate  her recollection. Those who supported or opposed the nomination still hold the same opinion.... That is the usual outcome of any 36 year old allegation. 

While using the word performance seems insensitive, what we had yesterday was pure theater, packaged as testimony and fact finding.

Shown above, Tom Hanks preparing for his role as Mr. Rogers.

Sep 27, 2018

Hatred Of Trump Bankrupts News

The hatred of Trump has changed the nature of journalism in the United States.  While several years ago certain select media were known for their bias,  now it's become difficult to find an impartial source.  Both CNN and The Washington Post have foregone any pretense of objectivity.  My use of the word bankrupt in the headline refers only to journalistic integrity,  the slanted news may well be very profitable.

While CNN and The Washington Post presented Trump as a laughing stock at the UN,  The Wall Street Journal presented his speech without such editorial comment.  Although he may be both inarticulate and undiplomatic,  he is correct that we have been bankrolling those who oppose our own interests.

Last night 2,499 liberals and one conservative attended the Joan Baez concert in Philadelphia.  After the show, Ms. Baez took a knee and told the audience that they must resist.  Although her sincerity is beyond doubt, I wondered what improving matrix she actually opposes....

Sep 26, 2018

A Difficult Promise To Keep

The liberals in Allentown are excited about a new organization in town,  The Promise Neighborhood.  My readers may recall that I broke the news that councilwoman Cynthia Mota works for them,  after she nominated their director for interim mayor, without disclosing her employment.

Normally, I prefer not to express my cynicism about such things, but the Promise Neighborhood is gearing up with a state grant that I involuntarily contributed to.  The new program aims to reduce gun violence by counseling victims not to retaliate.  The strategy hails from Chicago,  and we all know how successful that community has been in reducing shootings.

The plan will be formally introduced to the public on October 19th, and seek feedback from the community.  Hope they appreciate my early commentary.  Although I'm skeptical about their methodology,  certainly the goal is most worthwhile.  I personally would prefer my taxes to be spent on the public school system,  rather than grants to multiple agencies and their separate staffs.

Sep 25, 2018

Allentown's Big One

Allentown is like Fred Sanford, waiting for the big one.  Redd Foxx played Fred, a junkman, who whenever stressed, was expecting the big heart attack, which would join him with his deceased wife.

The Morning Call has been speculating that perhaps ADP is the new Reilly tenant that will finally revitalize downtown....that ADP might be the big one.  Reilly doesn't have to count his baby chicks,  the Morning Call does that for him.

There will be more people walking around during lunch hour,  but besides that, don't expect much.  There is no vibe in center city to motivate anybody to stay there beyond their work hours.  Each new building by Reilly has less architectural merit than the preceding blue glass box.

The only excitement will be in the Morning Call articles, describing the big one.

Sep 24, 2018

Shootings In Allentown

Over the weekend there was another shooting in Allentown. Funny thing about these shootings, in most of the cases, nobody knows nothing. Nobody hears, sees or says anything to help the police solve these crimes. However, let someone get pushed down by a police officer, then we have videos and testimony against police brutality.

The recent shooting was on 4th Street, but don't expect to see any advocacy groups protesting the violence, or the public's lack of cooperation.

molovinsky on allentown is published weekdays Monday thru Friday.  You will find a perspective and candor here not found anywhere else in the valley. Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym. Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers. Your readership is appreciated.

Sep 21, 2018

The Morning Calling

It's getting more and more difficult to justify a Morning Call subscription.  How many times can they write with a straight face that Reilly's new tower tenant is a gain for the valley, when they know full well that the tenant is just being poached from elsewhere else in the valley. .
“When you can retain a Fortune 500 company and facilitate the expansion of a business like this, it’s a huge benefit to the Valley and to Allentown.” 
Reilly's gain is always not just another local developer's loss, but a loss to the taxpayer's as well.  Those state taxes being given to Reilly's debt service are being made up by us.

I don't follow or read the sports section,  I hope that coverage is better.  Meanwhile, Bill White keeps using the opinion platform to write endlessly about the dunking clown, someone should tell him that the fair has left town.

I suppose we should be grateful that we still even have a paper.  Reilly now owns the Morning Call building,  and the operating media company, Tronc,  is entertaining several offers for a new publisher.  When it comes to the majority minority population, everyone walks on eggshells.  The paper wrote today that the man shot outside Dorney Park was supposedly harassing motorists.  Police were called to the scene for that very reason by several people.  A woman previously verified that the man hung on her moving car and smashed out the side window.

Sep 20, 2018

Racial Profiling In Allentown

Christopher Fitzgerald, who was acquitted of brandishing a gun at detectives in 2014,  is now suing the county for false arrest.  In an earlier suit which was dismissed,  he also accused the detectives of racial profiling.  Readers may remember that the victim/defendant is the son of the former police chief in Allentown.  The chief was hired after a nationwide search.  The chief's son was then hired by Lehigh County Prison as a guard.  He slammed on his brakes on 7th Street with a car behind him,  and then displayed a gun when the car behind him came alongside.  The car happen to be occupied by detectives, and Fritzgerald was arrested by Whitehall Police in the parking lot of the Lehigh Valley Mall.

In a well covered trial, young Fitzgerald was acquitted of charges stemming from the incident.  He was defended by high power Philadelphia lawyer Jack McMahon,  who would later defend Pawlowski, who had hired Fitzgerald's dad as police chief.

The Fitzgerald had no problem with racial profiling when the father was hired as police chief.  They had no problem with profiling when junior was given a job at the prison. That only happened when the Hispanic detective in the car behind him got annoyed at him waving a Glock handgun.

Sep 19, 2018

Yom Kippur 1973

On Yom Kippur in 1973 Egypt and Syria surprised Israel with a coordinated attack on two fronts. 80,000 Egyptian troops overran Israel's Bar Lev defensive line in the Sinai. 175 shells per second rained down on Israel's 500 defenders from 2000 Egyptian artillery pieces. On the Golan, Israeli tanks were outnumbered by the Syrians ten to one. It took Israel two full days, and thousands of casualties, to mobilize. By the time a truce went into effect three weeks later, Israeli commanders had marched within 25 miles of Damascus, and 63 miles of Cairo.

Shown above General Ariel Sharon with Defense Minister Moshe Dyan in Egypt 

This post is a reprint form September of 2012, and has been pre-scheduled on Tuesday afternoon to appear early Wednesday morning.

Sep 18, 2018

As Allentown Turns

Allentown City Council was confronted last week by an out of town advocacy group, upset that someone was pushed to the ground after getting in a policeman's face.  The real threat to Allentown was that nobody in that neighborhood would cooperate with the police, even though they were called to the area with a disturbance report.

Allentown city zoners approved J.B. Reilly's new project at 8th and Walnut, a parking deck and apartment combined project.  Of course the only real news would be if the zoners didn't approve a Reilly project.

Talking about real news,  last night Business Matters had their show on Fake News.  After Dean Browning realized that Bernie O'Hare would try to dominate the conversation every time Iannelli looked their way,  he went on to steal the show, having actual examples to illustrate his points.  Mark Cohen, president of the state media association, could only keep repeating that reporters care about their communities, and are soccer dads like everyone else.

Sep 17, 2018

Roughing Up Nothstein

Although it may not have been intentional, The Morning Call roughed up Nothstein this past week with a one-two punch.  First they did an article on the Monmouth Poll putting Wild ahead.  That's fair, assuming the poll is legitimate,  but they couldn't refrain from mentioning allegations against Nothstein, which they later in the article revealed have been dismissed.  Besides demeaning a candidate, why keep rehashing any allegation which was determined to have no substaniation?  The second consecutive blow was about contributions to female candidates,  which of course excluded Nothstein getting any equal press attention.

While the second article may have been innocent enough,  following the first,  it gave one candidate a press push over the other.  As a former candidate myself who was treated  unfairly by The Morning Call in 2005,  I remain sensitive about equal press treatment.

Of course now in this era of Trump,  perhaps equal treatment is a passĂ© concept. We're in an era when senators want to hold up a judicial appointment because of an alleged high school groping incident.

Sep 14, 2018

Public Policy and The Media In Allentown

In 2005, mayoral candidate Ed Pawlowski gave a press conference at a house in the 400 block of Liberty Street. He praised the renovated house being occupied, as typifying his vision of Allentown moving forward. The Morning Call reporter, Daryl Nerl, wrote a glowing story. I decided to research the property. It turns out that the house was passed back and forth between two low income housing agencies for six years. (Pawlowski had been Director of the Alliance for Building Communities, a low income housing agency). After the six years it was "sold" to a low income couple who defaulted on the easy loan, but also destroyed the renovated house in the process. After six more years, two more agencies, and another renovation, Pawlowski gave his press conference.

At my press conference, also attended by the media, I spelled out the problem; Twelve years, no taxes, two renovations and two unqualified "buyers" attracted to Allentown by these give away programs at the expense of the tax paying homeowners. Channel 69 ran the story, but nothing in the Morning Call. I asked Daryl if he thought the story would resonate with the public? He replied that it certainly would. I asked if he was going to print the story before the election? The story never appeared.

photo: Channel 69, Liberty Street Press Conference

reprinted from October of 2009

Sep 13, 2018

Payday In Allentown Arrest


The victim who challenged an Allentown Police officer to a fistfight and was restrained and arrested, has already lawyered up. Attorney Goldman and his high power assistant, former local lawyer John Karoly, attended the council meeting last night. Don't be surprised if Allentown ends up forking over some of our tax dollars in a settlement.

Although molovinsky on allentown is short staffed today, this post will be updated later this afternoon.

A Personal Memoir

I'm not sure memoir is a good title, rather than facts and records, I have hazy recollections. Assuming my memory will not improve at this stage of the game, let me put to print that which I can still recall. In about 1958 my father built Flaggs Drive-In. McDonalds had opened on Lehigh Street, and pretty much proved that people were willing to sit in their cars and eat fast food at bargain prices. For my father, who was in the meat business, this seemed a natural. As a rehearsal he rented space at the Allentown Fair for a food stand, and learned you cannot sell hotdogs near Yocco's. He purchased some land across from a corn field on Hamilton Blvd. and built the fast food stand. In addition to hamburgers, he decided to sell fried chicken. The chicken was cooked in a high pressure fryer called a broaster, which looked somewhat like the Russian satellite Sputnik. The stand did alright, but the business was not to my father's liking, seems he didn't have the personality to smile at the customers. He sold the business several years later to a family which enlarged and enclosed the walk up window. Subsequent owners further enlarged the location several times. The corn field later turned into a Water Park, and you know Flaggs as Ice Cream World.

I'm grateful to a kind reader who sent me this picture of Flaggs

reprinted from previous years

Sep 12, 2018

Allentown Is Circling The Drain

When the Allentown Police responded to a report of domestic disturbance this past weekend, no one in the neighborhood would cooperate.  Instead, as they were preparing to leave the area, they were confronted by someone who challenged an officer to a fist fight.  When the aggressor wouldn't stand down, the officer pushed him.

This evening Make The Road Pennsylvania,  a Reading based Latino advocacy group,  will be protesting at the city council meeting.  They claim that "We need to show solidarity in support of ending police brutality.”

Everyone would be better off if the Latino group, instead of wallowing in a victim mentality, concerned themselves with the lack of cooperation and respect for law enforcement,    One of their victim's excuses was that the police were parking on a member of his family's private property.  In more civilized neighborhoods, police responding to a problem would be appreciated.  When a group defends inappropriate behavior,  they only encourage more of it.

Apparently, Allentown is quickly degrading to the point where whole neighborhoods don't respect law and order.  Although this has happen in many large urban areas, at least they have some architectural history,  culture and other redeeming qualities, few of which are present in Allentown.

Hopefully, our elected leadership will not cave in, and not endorse our city's own demise.

ADDENDUM: Although last evening was not a regular council meeting, the Reading group was never the less allowed ten minutes complaint time, and invited to return to a regular meeting. News reports indicate that they tried to connect the arrest to a pattern linked to the tragic shooting at Dorney Park. The public alley was again referred to as private property, somehow trying to justify encountering the police.

Broad Street mural shows just a few of the policemen killed in Philadelphia

Sep 11, 2018

As Allentown Turns On Tuesdays

Probably the most wholesome news in a long time was Elton starting off his farewell tour in Allentown.  The concert sold out immediately and set a record for attendance.

The warming station for the homeless found funding this year with help from a Bill White column and a very generous anonymous donor  Just a few years ago Lisa Pawlowski was in charge of Allentown's homeless initiatives.  Ironically, she is now soliciting funds for her husband's legal expenses.

Another police confrontation controversy is brewing, this time in Allentown.  Seems as if another person thinks that he can get in a cops' face with no consequence.  He claims that he didn't like the way the police were talking near children, so he decided to challenge one officer to a fist fight.  Although he only got pushed to the ground for his aggressive challenge,  a protest rally is being organized for tomorrow's council meeting.  These groups, rather than worry about racism and brutality, would serve their public better by teaching civility.  

 Shown above in the postcard was the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station, which was built over the Jordan Creek.  The remaining former train station, on lower Hamilton Street, belonged to The New Jersey Central Railroad.

Sep 10, 2018

Firing The South Whitehall Police Officer

The officer involved in the fatal shooting at Dorney Park has been fired by South Whitehall.  He was a rookie, still in the evaluation period.  While that status makes his dismissal a non issue from a legal or union point of view,  it doesn't rest well with me.  Those supporting it cite the fact that he didn't first attempt using less lethal options,  such as his taser or baton.  I think that view somewhat dismisses the circumstance....  the victim had been just earlier on the hood of his patrol car pounding the windshield with his fists.  Tasers have a reputation of not stopping drug induced rage,  which seemed to be in play on that day.

The Morning Call article announcing the firing states that the decision was made by the leadership of South Whitehall.  While the announcement mentions Chief Dorney,  it is not clear who made the decision.  In South Whitehall the leadership is the township commissioners.  New commissioner Mark Pinsley was actively supporting the protestors and local NAACP,  who viewed the incident as racial.

I cannot imagine that the decision to terminate the patrolman does much for force morale.  While I do not outright condemn the decision,  it certainly illustrates what a hard job these officers have.

Sep 7, 2018

New Graveside Tears At Fairview In Allentown

In August of 08, after about a year of blogging on conditions at Fairview, The Morning Call ran the story shown above. I did manage to organize a small meeting between the cemetery operators and the public later that fall. Yesterday I received the following comment, submitted to a posting from that period.

Patti from California has left a new comment on your post "New Graveside Tears":

My family is buried at Fairview and 2 weeks ago I visited and was appalled at the horrible conditions and total lack of maintenance throughout the cemetery. I have been trying to reach Loretta or David most of the summer and was told they had taken an extended trip out of the country. (business must be good) They seem to be back now - but still no way to actually talk to them.

My mother is 97 - plans to be buried there with her parents and my Dad. I could cry at the thought ....

I googled Fairview and was led to your blog. Loretta told me in May I could get our plot maintained if I invested in their endowment for $1000. After seeing the total lack of care there, I feel like I would be throwing the money away. What do other people think or do about this appalling condition?

I feel sorry for this family, Fairview may have been a well maintained place when the father was buried there many years ago. I believe the cemetery is in better condition than it was two years ago, but that's not saying very much. I will occasionally revisit this topic, to at least continue a small noise on behalf of these families.

reprinted from September of 2009

Allentown's Fairview Cemetery

About ten years ago, I began searching for the grave of a young Jewish woman, who died around 1900. Among several Jewish cemeteries no longer in use, I searched Mt. Sinai, a small section of the sprawling Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street, just west of the 8th Street Bridge. The cemetery is the history of Allentown past, including the graves of Harry Trexler, John Leh, and Jack Mack. As one proceeded deeper into the cemetery, away from sight on Lehigh Street, conditions worsened. As is the case with many old cemeteries, fees paid for perpetual care, 100 years ago, were long gone. Complicating the situation, the current private operator wasn't particularly assessable. In addition to extended family members upset about conditions, the situation was compounded by his refusal, with few exceptions, to allow private upkeep. My early posts on the situation drew response and phone calls from people with no interest in local political blogs; They were just exasperated relatives, with a family member buried long ago at Fairview. After beginning a series of posts, and letters to the editor, I prevailed upon The Morning Call to write a story one year later. The Call's story appeared on August 11, 2008. Within two weeks, the cemetery operator agreed to a public meeting I had organized at a local church. Arrangements were made between the operator and several parties. As with several of Allentown's older cemeteries, the issue of maintenance will be ongoing. This would be a worthwhile project for City Hall.

I have reprinted this post because of some inquiries about the conditions at Fairview. 
ADDENDUM: The current operator of Fairview, in addition to operating an on-site crematorium, is actively having new burials in the cemetery. It appears as if some of these new burials might be on old large family plots, which haven't been used or even visited in decades. In other cases they appear to be along the internal roadways, which were previously not considered proper burial places. 

molovinsky on allentown is normally published Monday thru Friday. Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym. Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers. Your readership is appreciated.

Sep 6, 2018

Ray O'Connell's New Allentown

When I sat down with Ray O'Connell in his office a couple months ago to discuss the park system, I was struck by an offhand comment he made. He had always told himself that if he was ever fortunate enough to become mayor,  he would make every decision in as righteous a fashion as he could.  There was no audience or even a vote to win,  just one gray haired guy talking to another.

On yesterday's post I was struck by a Scott Armstrong comment expressing some optimism about city hall.  O'Connell and some staff members attended a West Park Neighborhood Association meeting, and managed to at least cautiously impress Scott.

A current law suit filed against the city alleges that a police officer was essentially demoted for condoning another officer running for mayor in Pawlowskiville.  Under Pawlowski's too long tenure, city hall became a place of influence, not merit.

When two habitual critics like Armstrong and Molovinsky think that things might be improving.......

photocredit:The Morning Call

Sep 5, 2018

As Allentown Turns

The big news this week is that Ed Pawlowski's sentencing has once again been postponed, now until October 23th.  While the judicial reasons for delay has been pretty much explained,  it begs the closure issue for Allentown.  However,  that issue only resides in those of us who are local political junkies,  aka blog readers.

Although I didn't attend the fair this year,  it was supposedly marginal by every account.  At one time the fairgrounds was a valuable parcel,  only remaining mostly intact because control was diluted among so many of Allentown's blue bloods.  Although that breed is dying off, the attractiveness of the real estate has also diminished.  There is however a real estate wild card in the works... with the NIZ.

This blog has noted over the years that the NIZ is written in pencil,...adjusting to the benefit of a small connected circle.  The latest stretch of the law is trading out certain parcels contained within the original boundaries,  for those outside of it. This new machination acknowledges that center city seems to have some obstacles that defy gentrification, so why not harvest the tax benefit somewhere else?

On the subject of state laws such as the NIZ,  I see the probability of the upcoming election making any changes at about zero percent.   Although people remain frenzied for and against Donald Trump, they have no focus on the local scene, whatsoever.

molovinsky on allentown is normally published Monday thru Friday.  Comments are accepted using your name or by establishing a pseudonym.  Pseudonym identities remain unknown to both myself and other readers.  Your readership is appreciated.

Sep 4, 2018

Hootchy Nights At The Allentown Fair

Morning Call columnist Bill White had a piece earlier in the week where he lamented that  Bobo the dunking clown was no longer at the fair. Although that's about as funky as it got for Bill in his era,  we older Allentonians remember much hotter nights at the fairgrounds. Up to the late sixties the fair had girly shows. I'm going back to the era of Gooding's Million Dollar Midway and Benny's Bingo. I'm going back to three midways packed between the Farmer's Market and Chew Street. I'm going back to when the fair only started after Labor Day.

I mentioned in one of my previous fair posts that Fred Schoenk and I made and sold printed t-shirts at the fairs during high School. At the Kutztown Fair we were hired by the burlesque show owner to letter a new banner for his show tent...as high school boys we would have paid him for the experience.

photocredit:molovinsky...Black rock and roll review with strippers, 1969 Allentown Fair

Sep 3, 2018

A Third Choice For The 7th Congressional District

Come November, some local voters may notice that they have a third choice for their United States Congressman,  Libertarian Tim Silfies.  I say may notice, because too many people vote straight party, like good trained zombies.

This particular election will even be tougher for those on the third ticket, because the election is being billed as a referendum on Donald Trump.  Needless to say that the only valid basis for decision should be the differences between Nothstein, Wild and Silfies on the issues.  However, with all the outside money going into this election, that basis will be more obscure than usual.  Single issue groups,  such as Emily's List, will be heavy influencers.  Emily's List financially  supports pro-choice Democratic women for office.... not even pro-choice Democratic men.  They were a big factor in Wild's primary victory over Morganelli, and may again be a big factor in November.

Regardless of the outcome,  I commend Silfies for giving the voters another option.

Aug 30, 2018

South Whitehall Answers NAACP

The local NAACP announced a travel advisory for people of color in regard to both South Whitehall and Dorney Park.  Although I understand that their mission is to combat racism,  I think that their advisory was unwarranted under the circumstances of the recent lethal encounter.

I understand that they're not going to issue a warning against taking drugs and menacing motorists, and then jumping on police cars and pounding windshields.

South Whitehall took the unusual step of issuing a counter statement,  denying that their police department engages in racial discrimination in enforcing the law.  I applaud the township for not being intimidated.

The Great Allentown Fair

The Morning Call website is hosting an archive of Fair Pictures from over the years. Being a fan both of fair pictures and black and white photography, looking at the 111 photos presented was a treat.

The photo shown above, which I will get back to, reminded me of one of my unique fair experiences. In previous posts, I have discussed that both my father and myself had stands at the fair. While my father learned that you couldn't sell hotdogs near Yocco's, I learned that drunks leaving the beer garden loved to buy printed T-shirts.

But today's post has to with George Kistler, long time City Clerk during the 1950's and 60's. George loved the fair, and loved sharing his fascination with a large group of people. I was fortunate enough to be invited several times. The routine was always the same; Dinner at a local stand on the eastern side of the fairgrounds, followed by the wrestling show. I remember photographing Andre The Giant.

The Morning Call fair picture above is none other than Jim "Super Fly" Snuka, who was recently back in Allentown, for a most regrettable reason.

reprinted from September of 2016

Race For Dent's Seat

The facebook sponsored promo describes Susan Wild as a community leader.  I happen to be bi-municipal...  I work in Allentown,  but currently live in South Whitehall.  I have been a student of media and politics in both communities for many years.  Although Ms. Wild ran unsuccessfully for county commissioner in 2013,  and was appointed solicitor in Allentown,  I have no memory of her being a community leader,  whatever that means.

As a media and political junkie,  this upcoming fight for Charlie Dent's seat should be worth the price of buttered popcorn.  As a registered independent,  I will get shortchanged in mailers.  I did however already receive a targeted mailer to independents from Nothstein.

Readers looking to divine an endorsement from this post should know that I haven't yet even decided for whom I'm voting, much less endorsing.

Aug 29, 2018

Bill White's Apology Column

Bill White's recent column was about the apologies he would like to have seen from Ed Pawlowski and the Pennsylvania Catholic Dioceses.  This column is about the apology I would like to read from Bill White.

Dear readers,  As you know I have the bully pulpit here in the valley,  but squander it mostly on serial repeats, such as what I eat every year at Musikfest.  I have been very fortunate that the paper has been essentially for sale for over a decade,  and the new editor didn't know how tired these columns really are,  and the interim editors are just glad that they still have a job.  But I must mostly apologize for my silence on local issues.

I know that the articles promoting Reilly's Strata apartments are more hype than reality.  My office is across the street from a building supposedly full, but I seldom see anybody who remotely resembles a millennial on the street.  I seldom see a light on, come dusk. I know that the paper has an agenda to protect the local sacred cows and I play along.  When I praised Wally Ely recently,  I knew that we never printed his heartfelt op-ed opposing the weed walls in the parks. I know that we don't report that South Whitehall isn't honoring the voter's referendum in regard to Wehr's Dam. More recently, I will remain silent about what we did to Marty Nothstein.   I'd like to say that I'll do better, but I won't.  There's a new editor coming on board,  and he will think that my columns this winter on Christmas lights are a breath of fresh cold winter air.  

Bill White

Shown above is another year of chocolate cake tasting for Bill at the fair.  However, in fairness to him, he is my low-hanging fruit when it comes to criticizing the Morning Call.  Apparently, Terry Rang,  interim editor once again,  was involved in the decision to go ahead with the Marty Nothstein story/smear.  I would think that The Morning Call is in a position where they could really be an independent voice for truth in the valley.  Back in the day when Allentown was ruled by the Park&Shop Oligarchy, of which the publisher was part, the paper was dependent on those local merchants for  advertising.  They are now just a vehicle to distribute flyers for national chains. I suppose old editorial doctrines die hard. I'm sure that when the new editors arrive from out of town, they are wined and dined by the valley's sacred cows.

Aug 28, 2018

The King Abdicates

In 1958 my father had a food stand at the fair. It took him about an hour to realize you can not sell hot dogs in the King's back yard; Yocco, the hot dog king. When Yocco's claimed last year(2006) they were not at the fair because their canvas ripped, I was skeptical. This year it's official, they have abdicated their spot. Tonight the fair was jammed. In Ag Hall the granges still compete in vegetable canning. A wiseguy still incites you to dunk him. The world's smallest horse hasn't grown. Maybe Yocco's is gone, but the fair is still much more like 1958 than any other aspect of Allentown.

reprinted annually since 2007

As Allentown Turns

The big local news this week is The Great Allentown Fair, and that the prosecution recommends that former mayor Pawlowski be sentenced up to 15 years.

Being a local with some carney background, it occurs to me that a dunking booth at the fair this year, featuring none other than Pawlowski himself, would be a great success. It would also give him the opportunity to earn some money for his legal appeals and other expenses. I have not passed this advice along to the Mayor, here's why... In 2006, when Pawlowski started his first of four terms as mayor, he had a big open house at Symphony Hall. Although he invited 100 people to give input suggestions for Allentown, he didn't invite me, even though I also ran that year as an independent. 

There has been speculation that Cedar Beach Pool should have been moved farther away from the creek since it was being rebuilt anyway. Although the creek did spill over into the pool two storms in a row, historically, that is a rare occurrence.

Aug 27, 2018

Exploring Black History In Philadelphia

Several blocks south of molovinsky on allentown's Philadelphia office is an area* rich in history for the black community.  Although the more studious types might check out the renowned  African American Museum In Philadelphia,   I prefer walking about and asking questions.  I stopped in at the Philadelphia Tribune office, the first black paper in the nation, and printed continuously since 1884. I learned a little bit about the paper's history and got to talk to a staff member. Nearby was the home of the Jack and Jill Of America movement, started in 1938 by Marion Thomas. Its intention was to provide leadership training for the city's black professional and middle class children.  Among other churches and mosques serving the neighborhood, is the huge United House Of Prayer For All People,  a nationwide black Apostolic Pentecostal church.

While the historical roots of this black middle class neighborhood are deep,  the spreading gentrification from the Rittenhouse area is encroaching.  The facade of the Royal Theater,  the first black owned theater in Philadelphia, is being incorporated into a new residential and commercial project. While Lincoln's body was brought by train to this neighborhood after his assassination in 1865,  how many residents of the new expensive condo tower will be black?

* neighborhood surrounding area of 15th and South Street

photocredit: Facade of Royal Theater by Librarian1984

Aug 24, 2018

The Mighty Atom

Years ago, at the Allentown Fair, as one would push through a sea of carney delusion, tucked back by the 4H animals, was an island of reality. There, in an old battered truck, an ancient Jewish strongman performed incredible feats of strength, to sell only homemade kosher soap. Standing on a platform on the rear of his truck, flanked by photographs from his performing youth, he would bent horse shoes and bite through nails. Many years earlier, my mother as a little girl in Bethlehem, saw him pull a truck uphill with his hair. Even as an old man, like a reincarnation of Samson, his grey hair was still long.
In the summers of 1964 and 1965, myself and a friend,(Fred Schoenk, retired Allentown art teacher) made and sold printed tee-shirts at the fair. We had the honor to know Joseph Greenstein(The Mighty Atom) and his wife. For those interested, there are various articles on the Mighty Atom and even at least one book. Enjoy the fair!

reprinted every year since 2007

Aug 23, 2018

Pawlowski As A Legend

In his leniency plea Pawlowski claims that he is a legend among Allentown's less fortunate... there certainly is some truth to that statement.  He was essentially voted into his fourth term by the minority voters. who he courted extensively.  He visited their barbershops and hair salons, and attended their parties whenever invited.

I met with a black woman who was and remains a staunch supporter.  However,  I must say that she was also a supporter of Marion Barry in her previous community of Washington.  Pawlowski's legal issues and even his mistreatment of some others were of no concern to her.  Her single criterion was the access that Pawlowski was providing to people of color, including herself.

I should also note that Pawlowski won the recent election with much less than a majority of votes, because it was a three way race with a strong write-in candidate.  In conclusion, I will refrain from making a moral judgement on the black woman's criterion....  We all have our own special interests.

Aug 22, 2018

Allentown, A Frame Of Reference

I graduated Allen High in the mid 1960's.  Allentown was a prosperous city, with a large center city shopping district supporting three large department stores.  There were also three five and dimes,  six movie theaters and a hundred other stores.  In addition to Hamilton Street, the stores extended two blocks out on the number streets, between 5th and 10th.  On 7th Street, the stores extended out to the new Route 22.

The newspaper was family owned and produced two editions, both morning and evening. The streets were immaculate, keep swept by diligent homeowners.  Factories ran two and three shifts...you get the picture.

Yesterday on facebook a young man wrote that he is optimistic that Allentown is turning around for the better.  For someone my age, with my frame of reference, that is a challenging statement. Although I'm glad that he is optimistic,  and I can appreciate that being so is beneficial in 2018, it is an attitude which wasn't necessary in Allentown's past.

I produce this blog as the intersection of local history and politics. I do not purport to be a life coach.  Although I can analyze our current events through an historical prism,  those seeking attitude enhancement might do better looking elsewhere.

Aug 21, 2018

As Allentown Turns

Last Tuesday I started my As Allentown Turns posts... A weekly snippet of  events as seen through the eyes of a third generation local.  Although my grandfather brought his parents over,  it was my grandfather who decided to make Allentown the family home in 1893.

Air Products announced that they're returning their natural gas division to Trexlertown from a Reilly tower at the end of their five year lease next summer. Other office workers, whose employers were enticed by Reilly's subsidized rents, have told me that they preferred their previous suburban locations.

A gentleman was arrested in Allentown over the weekend for firing a gun out of his car window.  Turns out this formerly convicted felon wasn't legally allowed to own a gun. Furthermore, he was driving drunk with a suspended license.  I wouldn't be surprised if he also didn't work, but collected Social Security Disability.  That unfortunately is the profile of thousands of center city residents. If these comments and assumptions offend you,  please first pick up the litter he threw out his car window before you get mad at me.

Concerning yesterday's post on Marty Nothstein...  Allentown Republican Scott Armstrong had some interesting observations.  He wished that Nothstein had gotten in front of the story.  He expects the Morning Call headline to appear on Susan Wild's mailers.

Elsewhere, The King George Inn just over the border in South Whitehall, is deteriorating in spite of being that Township's first (and only) building under their historic designation.  The township commissioners have refused to add the historic Wehr's Dam to the list, even though their voters thought that they were saving it by referendum.   New commissioner Mark Pinsley, who wants to be a state senator,  doesn't even assert himself on township issues.  He did however join the protestors against his township's policeman involved in the recent shooting outside Dorney Park.

Aug 20, 2018

Hit Job By Morning Call

After a three month investigation by the Morning Call,  although The newspaper "could not determine what the complaint alleges, whether the investigation is open or if Nothstein has been cleared of wrongdoing", they still headlined the story of alleged sexual misconduct against Marty Nothstein. Although I have no horse in this political race, I can recognize dirty politics when I see it.. Nothstein described it as a hit job, and in that he is correct.

Nothstein followed up on the paper's hit job with a press conference Friday afternoon.  In that conference he and his lawyer maintain that the paper was not interested in seeing affidavits from the supposed victims.  They revealed that they had appealed to both Robert York and Terry Rang, to no avail, trying to prevent the meritless detrimental headline.

The headline is not unrelated to my recent post about the national editorials against Trump. Although I agree with those who find Trump's tongue too loose, newspapers are themselves loose and easy with journalism.  When I recently wrote that the Morning Cal is for sale and protects local sacred cows,  York contacted me about correcting the for sale portion,  but wasn't concerned about the sacred cows.

Although I found the headline very unfair,  I can only hope that it wasn't a conscious attempt to boost Nothstein's opponent at his expense.  The paper did highlight his claims of unfairness in Saturday's edition.  If Nothstein can manage to project himself as a media victim, and turn the sequence of articles into lemonade, remains to be seen.