Mar 31, 2023

Allentown Memorabilia

The time and market for Allentown memorabilia has come and gone. With a changing population, and the graying of the older town folks, objects of our history are destined for the landfill. Even the local historic society concentrates on shows of general interest, such as Abraham Lincoln. In addition to having been a retail mecca, Allentown manufactured a large assortment of products. Allentown was stamped on tools, knifes, and metal products of all kinds, distributed nationwide. A local regional food product was the hard pretzel, a variation of the traditional German soft pretzel. Allentown had several pretzel companies. Miller's operated out of their factory at 732 Tilghman Street, between 1944 and 1978. In the coming months this blog will profile some of these Made In Allentown products, before litter and meaningless slogans became our legacy.

reprinted from July of 2013

Mar 30, 2023

Made In The Lehigh Valley

The other day I was self checking out of the grocery store, and across the aisle was Bethlehem Steel T-Shirts.  They were made to look retro, with pre-faded logo and copy, which said MADE IN USA.  Although, I knew the phrase referred to the steel,  I couldn't resist looking at the shirt's label.  Needless to say, it was made in China. Ironically, Bethlehem Steel was a self sufficient company, which even  produced ships with its own steel.

When I was a boy I worked in my father's meat market located at the foot of Union Street, where the Hamilton Street Bridge crossed over the Lehigh River.  Saturday was busy, with many customers who worked at the Steel, Lehigh Structural, Black and Decker, Western Electric, Mack and dozens of sewing factories.  A couple of guys who worked during the week at Arbogast & Bastian helped my dad out on Saturdays.  Both Swift and Wilson meat packers had wholesale branches near by.  They would be supplied by rail sidings,  which  criss-crossed that area of the city.  At that time everything was made in America, except for cheap novelty junk.  Now, in addition to losing our manufacturing,  we're even losing our retail,  as everything comes directly from online ordering and warehouses.    I suppose that soon the cashiers at the supermarket will be a relic of the past.

reprinted from March of 2017

Mar 29, 2023

Mayor Tuerk And Billy Joel

In a recent radio interview, Mayor Tuerk said in regard to the song "Allentown" by Billy Joel...It's so wrong... I don't know how it felt in 1982, but it doesn't feel like that now... it's not hard to stay. It's hard to leave.

Certainly as Mayor, Matt Tuerk must be a cheerleader for Allentown, and  I realize that for many of the new people here, Allentown is better than wherever they came from. But as a native Allentonian, the city was much better when Joel's song came out back in 1982. All those new buildings on Hamilton Street don't mean jack, unless you're the one man who owns them. 
What's much worse now is the crime, litter and violence. Tuerk wrote recently that illegal guns are a toxin in Allentown. Of course the real problem is the people who readily use those guns.

Billy Joel was lamenting the lost industry in the rust belt, but I'm missing the quality of life we had when he was singing that song forty years ago.

Mar 28, 2023

Zion Liberty Bell Dilemma

In a recent editorial, Sara Brace threw the  Liberty Bell Museum Board under the bus, to help some local liberal causes.  Her dance was very complicated, because she was head of the museum board before her resignation, and her husband was a principal of Zion Church, and is a county commissioner to boot. 

Now, if this all sounds confusing, it certainly is. Normally, the Morning Call wouldn't publish such contradictions, but a local liberal dilemma developed at the Liberty Bell church.

Because Gregory Edwards was raising the rent from $1 a year, to $1000 a month on the Bell Museum, some people were thinking less of the pastor.  Some people were thinking less of the Zion Church board which didn't safeguard the museum,  putting county commissioner Geoff Brace in an awkward position, considering his role at the church.

Sara defends the increase, and suggests that the state should come forward with some $moolah to save everybody's face.

Mar 27, 2023

School Board Graduates To Harrisburg

Our new state senators have something in common, both were former school board members. However, they apparently took different courses...While new state senator Jarrett Coleman wants to submit the NIZ to some very overdue scrutiny, senator Nick Miller wants Reilly to continue his windfall, without much accountability.  Miller brags about all the new office tenants on Hamilton Street, ignoring the reality that they were poached from surrounding office parks, creating few, if any, new net jobs for the area. That poach job transferred the state taxes from the state budget, to instead service Reilly's mortgage debt.

What brings me to this topic today is Miller's assertion that Coleman doesn't have the best interests of Allentown in mind with his inquires. On the contrary, in my opinion, Miller doesn't have the best interest of taxpayers in mind with his position.

Miller complains that the NIZ is in his district, and that Coleman should visit there to learn about Allentown's commercial success. Coleman could response that the businesses were previously in his district, and now with the NIZ allowing parcel swaps,  it can be anywhere the chosen find opportunity, like  at a former state hospital.

At any rate,  I believe that we are better served with our elected officials not being on the same page all the time.  For too long there has been too much back scratching in Harrisburg.

Shown above Tony Iannelli conducts debates between Miller/Browning and Coleman/Pinsley.  Photo by Donna Fisher for LehighValleyLive.Com

Mar 24, 2023

Covid Funds And Bureaucrats

With the Covid pandemic, the Feds pumped more money into the municipalities than they know what to do with. Never fear, the non-profits and bureaucrats are stepping forward with solutions for that dilemma. 

Allentown City Council is allocating a $millon for affordable housing on the former parking lot of the former Lehigh Valley Club. In more prosperous days of yesteryear, that facility hosted wedding receptions for the well heeled. 

There's another proposal up the block on the county level, to restart the Lehigh County Redevelopment Agency. You would think that after the state diverted a $Billion to Reilly for his privately owned, publicly financed empire on Hamilton Street, we wouldn't need another redevelopment agency.  But let's not co-mingle Reilly's good fortune with bureaucratic opportunities.

Actually, that redevelopment agency might be needed sooner than this post indicates. I believe that current prices being paid for downtown rental units exceeds the cash flow that they will yield. I'm expecting a lot of boarded up buildings, but that will be a post topic in the future.

The postcard shown above is of the dining room in the former Lehigh Valley Club.  Its former parking lot will now  house affordable housing, built by a development company seeking $1million from Allentown's federal Covid fund chest.

Mar 23, 2023

Mistake Of Parking Authority/Lanta

At the Allentown Speak Out forum, Zee, an elderly neighborhood woman, referred to the new Lanta Terminal as Port Authority. She has a point, did Allentown need a Port Authority? In reality the mission of both the Parking Authority and Lanta has become political and distorted, to the detriment of those whom they were intended to serve. I have referred to the Parking Authority in previous posts as a Frankenstein monster who preys on Allentown's poorest residents. Its appetite has recently expanded to include poorer merchants. If it wasn't enough for Lanta to remove the transfer stations from the historical stops near Hamilton Street, the Parking Authority now provides eating and shopping venues for their captured bus riders at the "Terminal". Once upon a time, in Allentown's heyday, the parking meters were monitored by two meter maids in golf carts, employed by the police department. The original mission of the Parking Authority was to facilitate parking for the merchants' behalf. Lanta was suppose to provide the public with transportation to those destinations which enhanced the economic well being of both the riders and the community. The new Allentown Transportation Center fails to serve both the merchants and the riders, conversely, it serves itself by being a mini-mall with virtual prisoners. Allentown City Council now has a member who is on the Lanta Board. The previous Council had a member on the Parking Authority. All the merchants are suffering on Hamilton Street, and already three are closing their doors; City Line Creamery, Hamilton Perk Cafe, and Mish Mash Boutique. The Terminal, new or not, should be closed, and the transfer stops on Hamilton Street should be restored. The public interest is better served by the survival of the Hamilton merchants, than the utilization of the parking deck's adjacent Lanta Terminal.

above reprinted from January 20, 2008

ADDENDUM March 23, 2023: I'm glad to see the Parking Authority coming under scrutiny. As a blogger who has been taking them on for over 15 years,  I marvel at how long they got away with their shenanigans. To a large part the Morning Call was responsible for them not being held accountable. When myself and others would speak out and even document their abuses, the paper turned a blind eye. In 2014 I conducted two press conferences about Authority abuses. One conference the paper ignored, and for the other they took the Authority's answers as gospel. With the press now paying attention, perhaps the best interests of the city and citizens will finally be served.

Mar 22, 2023

Crimes By The Wildlands Conservancy

photo by Tami Quigley

The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam rubble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that rubble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffers.

The Wildlands Conservancy is now going to demolish Wehr's Dam at Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. The township commissioners are cooperating, by having a grossly inflated price associated with repairing the dam, to justify a disingenuous referendum. Sadly, by next spring I will be showing you before and after pictures of that crime.

top photo by Tami Quigley

above reprinted from August 2016

UPDATE: To everyone's surprise, especially the Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners, the referendum to save the dam was approved by the voters in November of 2016. The Wildlands Conservancy and the South Whitehall Commissioners are now conspiring to have the dam demolished anyway, by exaggerating its problems with the Pa. DEP...I have documented the communication between the Wildlands, State and township,  As for Lehigh Parkway, the Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove the former dam rubble that is despoiling the vista of the Robin Hood Bridge piers.  I have been trying to interest the Morning Call about the voter suppression in regard to the Wehr's Dam referendum.  In today's paper there is an article about the danger high hazard rated dams pose to residents downstream.  I hope the paper's article today is a coincidence, and not intended to serve the Wildlands conspiracy about Wehr's Dam.  BTW,  Wehr's Dam is rated low hazard, because it poses no danger to residents.

reprinted from November of 2019 and before

UPDATE MARCH 22, 2023: I'm pleased with my part in saving Wehr's Dam. In 2014, the former commissioners were ready to approve the dam demolition by the Wildlands Conservancy, and I prevailed upon them to give a couple more weeks for public input. After Allentown city council approved demolishing the small Robin Hood Dam, the Wildlands had it removed within two days. The articles about that South Whitehall meeting alerted several people, including the descendants of Wehr family. The Wehr's and others did a great job campaigning to save the dam. After weeks of rejecting my editorial letter, the Morning Call finally printed my plea to save the dam before the referendum vote. 
The former commissioners still cooperated with the Wildlands Conservancy in their efforts to demolish the dam, even after the referendum. The dam's future was only actually secured with the new current set of commissioners, and the dam itself was only finally repaired this past summer and fall. 

While I now have faith in the future of Wehr's Dam, the Robin Hood Bridge remains a sorry sight. In my opinion, the Wildlands should pay to have the rubble they deposited by the bridge piers removed. But in the meantime, the city should remove the rubble this summer, and pay the bridge beauty some overdue respect.

Mar 21, 2023

A Park Primer For The New Administration

A local activist, Tyler Fatzinger of Fairview Cemetery fame, wrote on Facebook yesterday...

I once attended a community meeting and the mayor was there. The community said how ugly the (park) banks were and wanted them back to how they were for so many years. The mayor responded that the banks were for erosion control and he trusted those individuals who made those decisions because they went to school and had a degree in that field.
In the early 1920's,  Harry Trexler had the park system designed by Meehan Associates of Philadelphia,  the country's leading landscape architectural firm of that time.  They specified that willow trees be planted along the creeks. The spreading shallow root system of those trees  held the banks firmly in place for over 70 years. More so, they allowed both view and access to the creeks.  Families and their children enjoyed the parks for generations.  In 2005, mayor Pawlowski hired a series of  park directors who all had the same background in recreation from Penn State. They were content to farm out park maintenance decisions to the Wildlands Conservancy, which was more than glad to administer grants for the park system. The Wildlands harvested 15% administrative fee for each grant. Their specialty is popular conservation trends, regardless of local specifics. They instituted riparian buffers, which are supposed to filter lawn fertilizer runoff from entering the creeks. In Allentown, however, the storm sewer system is piped directly into the creeks, under the buffers, making them useless for that designated purpose. Meanwhile, as the willow trees started dying out from age, they were not replaced.  This series of recreation trained directors, all from out of town, couldn't care less that both the view and access to the creeks were blocked. One of them told me that when you can only catch a glimpse of the creek, it is more exciting.  Neither The Wildlands Conservancy,  nor their park director lackeys,  realized that these weed walls would cultivate invasive species, including Poison Hemlock.  So the buffers still have to be cut down several times a season, especially with the Little Lehigh and Cedar Creek being sources for the water plant on Martin Luther King Drive.

The time has come to restore the Allentown parks to their former glory.  It's time to plant new willow trees along the banks. Allentown was known for its park system, featured on numerous picture postcards...Let's restore that fame.

postcard of Robin Hood Bridge, Lehigh Parkway, 1955

Mar 20, 2023

A Duckling Story In Allentown

Local noted photographer Hub Willson took the extra cute capture shown above in 2010, at a Rose Garden pond.  In the last few years such a photograph would not have been possible, no ducklings survived the grass mowing.

Readers may recall that last year, and in the recent preceding years, I tried to prevent that carnage here on this blog.  Last year, in addition to the park leadership, I even contacted Mayor and Mrs. Tuerk, all to no avail. 

The problem is the fake riparian zones.  The park department feels that they must mow in the spring to curtail the invasive species. Although they claimed to look for nests before mowing, that was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.  If they would keep it mowed, as they did in 2010, the ducks would still find suitable spots for their nests. However, when they don't mow during mating season, then mow after the nests are built,  the season's ducklings are destroyed.

The park department either needs to keep the banks mowed on a regular schedule, or wait to mow after the ducks have left the nest. At that point the grass would be quite high, and it would involve more machinery and labor. 

The park department realizes that because the storm water system is piped under the buffer, directly into the creek, that the buffer doesn't really buffer.  However, it does provide an excuse to cut back somewhat on the mowing budget.  However, the invasive species thrive along the uncut banks, especially Poison Hemlock. Late last summer the park department was mandated to cut the banks, because the invasive situation was so out of hand.

The time has come for the department to return to regular cutting of the banks, as they do with the meadows. Ironically, now it will be more costly, because they planted the new trees along what they hoped would be the outer buffer line. Nevertheless, the health of the park and the ducklings demand it.

Mar 17, 2023

Parking Authority Probe

Mayor Matt Tuerk has announced that the city will re-evaluate the usefulness of the Parking Authority to the city and its citizens. In doing so, he stated that the Authority was started back in 1984 to address the parking issues of that day...That was the city line back then, but in reality it was started to bail out some influential owners of Park & Shop. As retail commerce shifted to the malls, the Park & Shop lots no longer thrived as before. 

As an activist and blogger, I have followed the Parking Authority shenanigans for four decades.  As an independent mayoral candidate in 2005, I conducted two press conferences about the Authority.  It was never easy gaining traction against the Authority, because the former private owner of the Morning Call was one of those influential Park & Shop owners. At the time, I was protesting meters extending way out beyond the then existing shopping district, and penalizing the poorest citizens, mostly apartment tenants.  The newspaper instead interviewed the Authority director,  and didn't attend my second conference at all.

Years later, when the Authority doubled the meter rates, I documented to City Council that the Authority fabricated their notion that the merchants wanted the increase. Since at least two members of council were sitting members of the Authority board, that revelation of mine also went ignored.

The Morning Call and the Parking Authority still have been intertwined in conflicts of interest in recent times. The Morning Call building was included in the NIZ map, although it was across Linden Street from the rest of the zone. Authority surface lots, which provided easy convenient parking, as opposed to decks, were sold to chosen developers for low prices. Ethical questioning of that practice was limited to this blog. Former Morning Call property has been transferred between the Authority and a private NIZ developer, for mutual benefit. 

I'm glad to see that recent public outrage over the Parking Authority ticketing practices has prompted the mayor into action. Kudos to Betty Cauler and others for their current activism. If the city really needs to spend $10K to $20K in their evaluation is questionable, but hopefully the outcome will justify the expense.

Shown above is the Parking Authority ticketing people for street sweeping in 2008, despite the snow.                                                                                                                                         

photo and outrage by molovinsky

Mar 16, 2023

The Neuweiler Story

Allentown's NIZ was a boutique legislation that allows private property to be publicly financed.  On the up side, for the most part, the beneficiaries have been local boys. That is about to change. 

The Morning Call had an excellent report on a New Jersey firm muscling in on our tax dollar giveaway. They learned their lesson well from the first interloper, Ruckus Brewery.  Ruckus was set up with the Neuweiler Brewery by Mike Fleck, before he went to the pokey with Pawlowski.  Ruckus managed to raise money from their NIZ approval and get possession of the brewery without actually spending any of their own money. For that fund raising, they changed their name to Brewers Hill.  Previously they never even had experience with actual brewing or real estate...Never underestimate the value of a political connection.

Like Ruckus/Brewers Hill, the new player promises to relocate their office here to Allentown. Sprinkle in a promise of affordable housing, and the Allentown welcome mat is out.  They have agreements now with Brewers Hill, and options on neighborhood properties. 

Personally, I preferred my tax dollars benefiting the local boys, like Reilly and Jaindl.

photocredit: Robert Walker

above reprinted from February of 2021

UPDATE MAY 18, 2022: With the recent news about Neuweilers, I decided to revisit the brewery posts. The post above is just one of dozens I have written on the brewery since 2008. I may have somewhat more knowledge about the topic than the Morning Call's changing cast of reporters, because I had actually sat down with the last private owner. In 2007 Pawlowski said that "We have to get it out of the hands of this guy," It was also the last time that any property taxes were paid on the property. While the city took procession supposedly because no improvements were made, likewise nothing has been done since, fifteen years later. Actually, the property now is in considerably worse condition. But in addition to no taxes being paid in all these years, we have been paying the salaries of the bureaucrats in the various controlling agencies since the property was confiscated.

Whether demolished or restored, or a combination of both, we all want to see change at the property. But understand that we as taxpayers will be paying for that change with our diverted state income taxes. Understand that although the project will be publicly financed, it will be privately owned.

Those interested in an account of the situation from 2007 until now, can use the search engine of this blog's sidebar... simply type in Neuweiler brewery.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 15, 2022: A recent headline in the Morning Call put this money pit back on this blog's front burner. It referred to investment coming to the river. It all these years of NIZ promoting, the Morning Call has never clarified that the investment is our money, our diverted state taxes. Perhaps the new crop of young reporters don't fully understand that. I can appreciate that it's hard to understand how privately owned buildings can be completely publicly paid for....Credit outgoing state senator Pat Browne for that grab of the century. As for Neuweilers, before the recent owners signed over to the current owners, they were given a couple $mil in seed money by the public authority. An enterprising reporter or investigator, might want to track where those dollars went.

Down the road, when some local cheerleader strolls up to the new bar at Neuweilers, and orders the first brewski,  he'll have no idea how many $millions and $millions it really cost the taxpayers.

UPDATE JANUARY 27, 2023: Demolition has begun on the brewery, only the iconic front tower portion will remain.  That portion has been so structurally compromised from neglect, that its preservation is only possible because of our unaccounted for tax dollars. I'm amused how people are so excited about the project, but so oblivious to the true story about it, outlined above. There are a few civic notables relieved that scrutiny, so far, has been limited to this blog.

Mar 15, 2023

No Investors Need Apply

Mayor Pawlowski can't stand private investors, if he didn't give you a grant, your not worth crap. In the early 70's the City and Redevelopment Authority gave control of the Neuweiler Brewery to a friend. Under the City's watch, windows were removed and exterior walls broken through to remove the brewing tanks and piping for scrap. All metal, wires and any object of value were crudely ripped out in an orgy of demolition. With a large opening in the back wall smashed out, the basement was used as a free landfill by a roofer. Still the building remained iconic, because of its rich industrial architecture. In 2003 a New Jersey investor bought the building for over $200,000 in the condition shown in the photograph. The building has been in that condition since the late 70's. HIs hope was at some point the City would appreciate the landmark and cooperate in its revival. He must have found the building citations from the Pawlowski administration mind-numbing; can you image being held responsible for carnage committed by a previous owner under the City's watch. Also this week the City punished the owners of the Livingston Apartments for their stubbornness about keeping magnificent heavy metal doors not listed in their Home Depot code book. Mayor Pawlowski, afraid someone might want to invest private money in Allentown and pay real estate taxes, had the Neuweiler owner jailed when he came to Allentown this week to discuss the property. Our new Mayor, along with our new Director of Codes, and our new Redevelopment Director plan to steal, excuse me, i mean seize the brewery.

above reprinted from May of 2008

ADDENDUM MARCH 15, 2023: The Morning Call currently has a photo spread of the demolition work occurring on the brewery.  What the paper doesn't reveal, or even know, are the secrets buried in the rubble. I have been following and reporting on the real story for over fifteen years, even meeting with the previous private owner. 

While most residents only care about seeing the finished project, tomorrow I will review what this project really cost, in both money and integrity. When it finally opens, it will be a very expensive brewski.

Mar 14, 2023

Pawlowski Degrees Destiny

In 1934 Perry Minich and his bride opened a jewelry store on the side of the elegant Americus Hotel. The post depression years weren't that easy for a merchant in luxury goods, but they had faith in Allentown. They were rewarded by Allentown's boom years during the 50's . In 1981 a robber entered the store, pushed Mrs. Minich to the floor, then shot and killed her. The Minich family carried on with their Allentown business. Their nephew, who witnessed the tragedy, took over the store. One by one, in Scranton, Easton, and Wilkes-Barre, hotels of the Americus vintage, closed and were boarded up. The Americus, a white elephant, although a dollar short and a day late, stayed open. Enter new Mayor Ed Pawlowski, self-designated real estate expert. He decided because the hotel owner was controversial, and had been demonized in regard to other properties, he could execute a forced sale. He erected a scaffold around the building, declared it unsafe, and ordered the existing merchants to vacate. For those really familiar with the situation the irony abounds. One week after the scaffold was erected, a window fell out the Schoen building, controlled by the city, narrowly missing several pedestrians. Although transient tenants will be offered relocation money to de-convert apartments in Old Allentown, three merchants of the Americus got nothing. While almost seven million dollars in grant money was offered outside developers to purchase the hotel, the city confiscated insurance proceeds from the existing owner. Pawlowski ended what had endured over seventy years through good and bad times, through tragedy, and it will cost the taxpayers many millions to ever put this humpty dumpty back together again. 

above reprinted from April of 2008 

ADDENDUM MARCH 14, 2023: The Morning Call recently noted Albert Abdouche's accomplishments with the Americus Hotel, as well they should. Abdouche purchased the hotel at a tax-sale, and restored it under his own volition. Although now finally benefiting from some entitlements, for the first years he went it alone on his own. In this era of replacing Allentown's historic mercantile district with new nondistinctive buildings, it's a pleasure to celebrate a restored gem of our past.

Mar 13, 2023

Molovinsky On Anytown

I'm afraid that you my readers are going to be submitted to a little introspection. Let's say that my therapist threw in the towel, and that you're him/her for now. 

Allentown is no longer governed by native Allentonians. Oh, there's still a few on council, but their days are numbered. Mayor Tuerk took his crew to the Dominican Republic in year one,  and I expect more Caribbean trips.

Things look challenging for what was my main mission, the traditional park system with its WPA structures.  The new park director's background is in trails. When Pawlowski bailed out a developer by purchasing two brownfields, Basin Street and the old fertilizer plant, the excuse was connecting the parks... I called it connecting the neglect. She also has a background in trees and stormwater runoff. The Wildlands Conservancy, aka Woke Incorporated, pushes riparian buffers. They and the park department just ignore the reality that the storm sewer system goes UNDER those buffers, piped directly into the streams and creeks. The buffers serve no purpose but to block view and access to the water, and incubate invasive species.  Although I have done some good with my mission, I'm looking to pass the torch in these silver years. 

From Facebook we learn that the most enthusiasm for Allentown groups rests with nostalgia...which shops had the best cheesesteaks and chili sauce.  As a blogger on Allentown, I'm feeling more and more like Don Quixote fighting windmills. 

As a creature of habit, I'll still get up early and write, but perhaps the title will become Molovinsky On Anytown.

Mar 10, 2023

Greg Weaver Art Scene

For about ten years, mid 70's to 80's, Allentown was graced with a one man art machine. Greg Weaver studied at Carnegie Mellon and then returned to the Valley to become artist, promoter and inspiration to dozens of local artists. His large studios, which moved from one low rent location to another over the years, became hubs for innovation and social activity. He was very prolific with his work, and generous with his encouragement. A typical monthly bash involved perhaps a poster by Mark Beyer( now an internationally known underground comic) performance by a jazz group such as Gary Hassey,(Greg also had a band) and perhaps a new showing by a local artist, such as Barnaby Ruhe. The loft parties were always mobbed, by many of the same people who now attend the Museum social events. This art "scene" cost the taxpayers nothing, it was done by artists, and it was real. Greg suffered from diabetes, and eventually lost his sight. Although blind he continued to produce art and inspire people until his death. Several of his works are in the Allentown Museums' permanent collection and his memory is in the hearts' of his friends. The image here is from Mark Beyer, representing an invitation to a Weaver event.

reprinted from September of 2007

Mar 9, 2023

At Least She Isn't White

As a blogger, I get called with pitches for one thing or another. In regard to the school superintendent situation, I told a recent caller that it's no topic for an old white guy. In the past I had blogged about Allentown's superintendents often. My archives indicate no less than a dozen such posts. 

A few supers ago, Allentown decided that its top person should look like its students...That meant no whites need apply. The issue now seems to be that the current person serving as interim super is not of the majority minority. 

The same board members now claiming to endorse a search had enthusiastically hired Carol Birks as interim. At the time, I wondered why someone from the existing administration couldn't serve as interim. It's no surprise to me that the board now wants to hire her permanently. To add another layer of irony, the consultant now warns that searches motivated by race preference are illegal. 

Although I remain an old white guy who knows that there is no winning when writing such a post, I also remain a blogger.

Mar 8, 2023

The Trexler Greenhouse

The former greenhouse at the current Trexler Park was the pride of Harry and Mary Trexler. The General was very specific in his will about its future;
I, Harry C. Trexler declare this to be my last Will and Testament: ......into the Treasury of the City of Allentown, for the perpetual maintenance of said Park, (Trexler) as well as the Greenhouse thereon located. This bequest shall include all the plants and other contents of said Greenhouse (1929)
Although nobody in charge of Allentown remembers, the greenhouse was a thing of wonder... Full of banana trees and other tropical plants, it was a true escape from winter for all visitors. The park director at the time touted all the money in maintenance to be saved if it was demolished. A couple years later the same director replanted the creek banks by the intersection of Cedar Crest Blvd. and Cetronia Rd.. That planting cost $750,000. I recall the price, because Longwood Gardens built a new greenhouse for that same amount, we had just lost our greenhouse, and only had a new creek weedwall to show in its place.  

Several years ago Allentown Park Department cut down all those plantings, and we now have nothing to show for our loss of the greenhouse. Even back then, I was an advocate for the traditional park system. Current visitors to Trexler Park don't notice that the weed wall has been cut down, and certainly don't know that they lost a beautiful greenhouse in the backstory.

reprinted from 2014. Postcard of Trexler duckpond from the glory days of the Allentown Park System

ADDENDUM MARCH 8, 2023: I haven't taken the Trexler Trust to task for over a decade...I feared less money for the WPA as retribution.  However, I'm at the age now where my outreach is limited to this blog, and nobody else will speak out.

For an era, the Trust was too tied to the city administrations. Perhaps that pattern started with it agreeing to the city demolishing the greenhouse, as explained above. The Trust was very tight with the Pawlowski administration, with some members being part of Pawlowski's kitchen cabinet. 

Of late they have been too methodical... For instance, they want their expert consultant to study what exact mortar mix to use when repointing the WPA stonework, before dispensing any funding. These walls are not the Washington Monument or the Statue of Liberty...but repairs must be done in a timely fashion. 

The city shouldn't be seeking special grants and gifts to repair the WPA structures... The upkeep required should be part and parcel of the regular budget. Their importance has come second, third and fourth place to numerous recreational fads and events. 

I'd like to tell you that I'm optimistic about the future of the WPA structures, but I'm not.  I will however use this blog to point out the ongoing neglect.

Mar 7, 2023

Saving The Spring Pond

As a small boy growing up in the twin homes above Lehigh Parkway, I would go down the steep wooded ravine and cross the Robin Hood Bridge. The stone lined spring pond and miniature bridge was just the first in a series of wonderful WPA constructions to explore. Last year, when I organized the reclamation of the Boat Landing, my memory turned to the pond. Although overgrown with several inches of sod, I knew the treasure was still savable.

In the spring of 2010 I met Mike Gilbert of the Park Department, and pitched the idea of a partial restoration. On May 26th, I posted A Modest Proposal, which outlined my hopes for the pond. By July, Gilbert had the Park Department clear off the remaining stones, and clean up around the miniature bridge.

Park Director Greg Weitzel  indicated to me that the pond features uncovered will be maintained. Any further clearing would be at the discretion of Mike Gilbert. In our conversation he also stated that there are virtually no funds available for the preservation of the WPA icons.

I will attempt to organize a group and contributions for this most worthy cause. Between the Spring Pond and The Boat Landing there was once a bridge to the island. Wouldn't it be nice if a small boy could go exploring.

above reprinted from 2010

UPDATE August 2013Mike Gilbert has retired, and the Park Department has a new director. Although grass and sod are starting to again cover the remaining stones that surround the pond, the miniature bridge is still visible. I will make it my mission to again pitch the new personnel.

UPDATE June 18, 2014. The grass and sod has reclaimed the stones that surround the pond. Only the very top of the miniature bridge is still visible to those who know that it's there. Unless there is an immediate intervention, it's days are numbered.

UPDATE February 2017:In 2015, in cooperation with Friends of Allentown Parks, I supervised college volunteers to clear the new sod off the pond stones, and the new bush off the miniature bridge. Allentown is on its third park director since this post was first written, and has acquired two large parcels to create new parks. To be planning additional parks, when our existing park features are left to abandonment, is incredibility poor management.

UPDATE May 1, 2018:  This past weekend the pond, miniature bridge and spring channel to the creek were once again cleared.  The work was done by volunteers from Faith Church, Asbury Church, Igesia De Fe and Salem Bible Church,  through Karen El-Chaar, director of Friends Of The Parks. Although the park department provided assistance in the two clean ups over the past several years,  they have  not provided ongoing maintenance to the site.  Understand that in the past few years they have constructed the exercise area at Jordan Park, the cement disc golf pads in the parkway and other recreational features. It is long overdue that the WPA structures be returned to the regular park budget and schedule.

UPDATE JANUARY 14, 2020:  Karen El-Chaar is now Director Of Parks. Hopefully she will have a soft spot for this particular WPA structure. I continue trying through this blog and facebook to keep these structures on the public agenda.

UPDATE MARCH 7, 2023: There's a new park director, Mandy Tolino. I haven't met Tolino, but I suspect that this blog might appear on her radar.  Those who visit the pond this spring will discover that the sod has once again overgrown the surrounding stonework. It is my understanding that Tolino has a background with the Delaware&Lehigh Trails, and hopefully will develop an appreciation of our unique WPA structures.

Mar 6, 2023

The Little Bridge Of Lehigh Parkway

A few years ago, new and young visitors to the park would have no idea that a magnificent miniature bridge crossed a spring run to the Little Lehigh. Certainly, such a stone construction wasn't necessary to cross the 24 inch waterway. It was built in a era of masonry art, fueled by the Great Depression, and funded by Roosevelt's WPA. Over the last decade, budgetary cutbacks and environmentalists demanding riparian zones, justified allowing it to be consumed by brush and saplings. In 2010, I persuaded Mike Gilbert, park department manager, to partially clear around the bridge. Although a tree now blocks it's southern approach, the bridge has been given a reprieve on its destruction.

above reprinted from 2012

ADDENDUM MARCH 6, 2023:While it has been over a decade since I had the miniature bridge uncovered, I'm sorry to report that the WPA structures still remain a low priority with the city. While the wall into Lehigh Parkway has been restored out of necessity to retain entrance to the park, neglect for the other structures continues.  

Although I knocked on the door of every park director since the Daddona administration,  I will not be introducing myself to the new director. After all these years, my advocacy will now be limited to this blog.

Mar 3, 2023

Reilly Folds In Nick Miller

I was disappointed, but not surprised, when Pat Browne moved his long time Allentown center city office into a new J. B. Reilly office tower.  The debt service on those office towers are met with our diverted state taxes, enabled by Browne's boutique NIZ legislation. 

I am disappointed, but not surprised that new Pa. Senator Nick Miller has taken over the same space in Reilly's building. 

When constituents visit the office for help, they have already lost, before they enter the door. Their state taxes, which were going to infrastructure and children's health insurance, now go to Miller's landlord.

It didn't take Reilly long to train Miller.  I'm sure Miller will be offended by this post, but he needn't worry, apparently nobody else but me cares about such things.

Mar 2, 2023

The Art Of Jessica Lenard

Jessica started painting in a class at the Museum School in Boston while at Emerson College, and continued until her passing in 2016.  In addition to painting,  she also expressed herself through print making, and even pottery. 

Over the years she was represented in numerous shows in NYC. Locally, her work was last seen in a retro show at Muhlenberg and Baum in 2017.

I have been charged with finding representation for the collection of her remaining work. I'm seeking an agent and/or gallery motivated by her unique art.

Jessica Lenard website

Jessica Lenard art facebook

shown above Thelonious Monk's Funeral, mixed media

Mar 1, 2023

Molovinsky vs. Parking Authority

Although the Morning Call went out of their way to under-report it, there was a third candidate in the 2005 mayoral election,  independent Michael Molovinsky.  During the campaign I held three press conferences... One about subsidized housing, and the other two about the Parking Authority. The paper only reported on one,  and for that one they invited the Authority's director at the time, Linda Kauffman, to refute my allegations.  Of course the paper never revealed their connections to the Authority. 

The Authority had bailed Park & Shop out of the dwindling downtown parking business by buying their lots.  The malls on McArther Road were going full tilt, and Hamilton Street was dying a quick death.  Morning Call owner Miller owned most of Park & Shop, along with Jack Leh and Harvey Farr. 

Both the Morning Call and the Parking Authority would continue to serve the establishment and each other for the next three decades. This would include the Parking Authority purchasing Morning Call shed property, such as their parking deck. The Morning Call never reported that the Authority fabricated merchant surveys to justify meter increases to Allentown City Council, as documented by this blogger. More recently, not clarifying the nexus between the Authority, the Morning Call and the NIZ.  The Morning Call was included in the NIZ map, although it was across Linden Street from the district. Authority surface lots sold to selected developers at taxpayer inconvenience, was also not clarified.  

Wednesday's Morning Call article about ticketing parents waiting to pick up their children from school, was the first article critical of the Authority in memory. Of course the Morning Call no longer has assets to protect,  they're no longer even a tenant in their own previous building. While the recent article was a welcome development, don't expect too many revelations from them...Their editor and culture is still very much establishment oriented.

I'm shown above in 2005 at a press conference on housing that the Morning Call attended, but didn't report on. I documented that the property was already remodeled and sold three times at taxpayer expense, and that the most recent subsidized "owner" had also defaulted.

above reprinted from November of 2021 

ADDENDUM MARCH 1, 2023: Recently, Betty Cauler urged me to write about abuses by the Parking Authority. I in turn urged her to organize and publicize on Allentown Chronicles, a facebook group...She did so with vigor. Enough noise was generated that both the local media and Authority Board have responded. Cauler and company may succeed in taming the beast.

Both this blog and Allentown Chronicles remain available to those confronting abuses of power.

Feb 28, 2023

The Morning Call Can't Spell Molovinsky

Out of frustration, J.B. and Kathleen Reilly have stopped reading the political blogs that snidely refer to downtown Allentown as Reillyville or Reillytown,
 so writes Scott Kraus and Matt Assad in today's feature story. Although a large portion of the article defends against criticism from this blog, including the phrases Reillyville and Reillytown, reporters and editors have once again chosen to not give attribution to molovinsky on allentown. Although perhaps J.B. has stopped reading this blog, I know that Kraus and Assad are reading these words: So boys, here's the biggie you missed today. You forgot to mention that the City gave Reilly $20 million (loaned from National Penn) in seed money, with no specifications, which he used to buy those 32 properties for $15.1 million. I say the City, because the loan was made even before the NIZ Authority was formed. You forgot to mention that some of the owners displaced by Reilly's buying spree felt intimidated, supposedly even including the possibility of eminent domain. Although you keep parroting Pawlowski's premise of risk on Reilly's part, the only real risk was ours. Although you have presented a defense against all the apparent connections, the fact remains that we now have Reillyville.

UPDATE: Kraus and Assad write; records show he(Reilly) didn't buy his first new property until March 2011 — three months after the new downtown NIZ map was adopted, and a week after the city publicly announced it was shifting the arena downtown. Public records refer to deed transfers, but when were the Agreements of Sale signed? Reilly wonders why other developers are not taking advantage of the NIZ.  Perhaps because Reilly has already purchased all the adjoining blocks? Perhaps because they are not assured that their project will be granted the same NIZ Authority approval, necessary for  the tax debt funding, being enjoyed by Reilly?  

above reprinted from February of 2013

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 28, 2023: A decade has passed and not much has changed about the Morning Call's reportage on Reilly and the NIZ.  Ironically, Reilly now owns the former Morning Call building, and the city is now covered by reporters who never heard of Allentown in 2013. Of course Allentown is much more Reillytown now than it was ten years ago. This past weekend even fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare seemed to pitch Reilly a soft ball. He wondered if the town seems dead, it could be because residents are at home, like most of us. Needless to say, young professionals don't move to center city, tolerate parking in deck a block away, to stay in at night.  O'Hare goes on to explain... The NIZ is controversial, but this post [O'Hare's post]  is NOT about the wisdom of this redevelopment tool, It's here. It's whether Reilly's vision can be seen as putting Allentown in a better position than other downtowns. 

O'Hare and I agree that Hamilton Street is almost 100% Reilly.  IMO, that alone demonstrates the moral dilemma of the NIZ. I have little doubt that it was a boutique legislation for a friend, a quintessential insider deal. Reilly can keep building without corresponding occupancy, because diverted state taxes are paying his debt service. While this arrangement may be legal by the boutique NIZ state law, it is a profound conflict of interest against the taxpayers. 

Scrutiny of the NIZ  remains limited to this blog, and for my reward I remain a persona non grata.

Feb 27, 2023

Better From The Pagoda

When I was a kid growing up in Allentown, we would visit my cousins in Reading. Allentown and Reading seemed very similar, row houses and corner stores. My aunt owned a corner soda fountain. Those Sunday trips were special, because I could sit at the soda counter, eat ice cream and read comic books, to my content. Outside the store, you could look up and see the Pagoda, seemed sorta  magical. This weekend I returned to visit the Pagoda and the neighborhood. While the Pagoda pretty much hasn't changed, downtown Reading is devastated. Block after block is run down, with no revitalization in sight.

While this blog misses the Allentown center city of years ago,  Reading doesn't even resemble its former self.  If you visit, I suggest viewing it only from the pagoda. From that height the city looks as it always did, up close it gets very rough.

molovinsky on allentown is produced every weekday, year-round.

above reprinted from December of 2019

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 27, 2023: What brought on this reprint was weekend shootings, in both Reading and Easton. So far, there have been no shootings reported in A-town this weekend. 
There are those apologists who credit Reilly(town) with making Allentown at least look better than Reading. I prefer the organic growth of Easton, or the historic charm of Bethlehem. Hopefully, Allentown will grow culturally into its new buildings. However, that sort of change is much slower and more complicated than the current pace of demolition and cookie cutter construction taking place.

Feb 24, 2023

Allentown Picks Winner, Then Announces Contest Rules

In what could only happen in Allentown, the City announced the contest rules, after the winner was picked. The Morning Call dutifully reported on the murky guidelines the City will use to allow property owners use of NIZ tax funds for development. The rules come after developer J.B. Reilly had his plans approved, and even before anybody else knew such a tax incentive was available to private owners. If that wasn't enough favoritism, the City loaned Reilly $20million to do the project. As the kids now say, everything about the deal is sketchy. First of all, what I call the City is called ACIDA. This is handpicked Pawlowski Authority, used as handmaiden of convenience. The Morning Call article kindly refers to the guidelines as flexible, having wiggle room and not cast in stone. Missing from the article is that the CocaCola Park promoters complained that they never were given a chance to bid on arena management. The displaced merchants, despite two meetings with the City, were never informed that the NIZ could be used by private property owners, and the unions have already protested initial renovations by Reilly. Most glaringly missing from the article is no mention of these Bizarro sequence of events; The City will now allow public input after all the decisions were made. The City will now explain how to enter the contest, after the brass ring has been won. The article does mention that The Morning Call building is in the NIZ zone.

above reprinted from October of 2011

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 24, 2023:Back when J.B. Reilly was gobbling up the NIZ parcels, this blog and this blog alone, was reporting that one person was going to own the former mercantile district. The Morning Call, part and parcel of the NIZ deal, reported everything as progress. Over a decade later, nothing has changed about the local reportage. Pat Browne, NIZ frontman, was recently given a hero's sendoff at his state senator retirement banquet. He even has been rewarded by a clueless new governor. 

The former Hamilton Street mercantile district is now an office park. The former undesirable merchants and their undesirable merchandize have been segregated, subsidized and dressed up, over on N. 7th St.  Anybody looking for an evening out, now travels to Bethlehem. Anybody looking for any insight how this all occurred, still visits this blog.

Feb 23, 2023

The Historical Record

During the City Council Eminent Domain Hearing, Louie Belletieri came in about halfway during the meeting. I encouraged him to stay and say a few words. Louie stood up at the meeting's end and told City Council that they should pay the shopowners straight up. Although Louie wasn't involved with the issue before, during or after that meeting, his Godfather presentation resonated with the local newspaper reporter. In addition to quoting Louie for the coverage about eminent domain, the paper used it as the Quote Of The Week, in the weekend edition. Fortunately, for the historical record, a local documentary videophotographer was covering the meeting. Sydney "Imantrek" McKenzie captured the soul of the shareowners, the storeowners, whose lives were being bashed by the hockey puck. In addition to making documentaries, Imantrek also produces music and Grounzero, an internet magazine. He is now lending his talent to the fight to preserve Allentown's WPA icons. Like many true artists before him, he remains an outsider to the newspaper and local art establishment. 

above reprinted from October of 2011
ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 23, 2023:We lost Louie Belletieri last week. The Morning Call and other venues have given Louie proper due for his contributions to Allentown over the decades. After Pawlowski was elected in 2005, he handed out numerous patronage jobs, including one to Louie. Louie was titled a Business Liason, and worked freelance. Although Louie probably could have had taken the check for many years, he resigned in less than two.

Feb 22, 2023

Making Lemonade At CNN

Don Lemon is returning to the air after a six minute training session at CNN. Needless to say the training is a joke, and the joke is on their audience. Although woke sells on CNN, Lemon's marketability apparently trumps his misogyny.  He checks so many boxes at CNN... Black, pleasant looking, pleasant talking, and gay to boot...Such newscasters don't grow on trees.

As an image makeover, don't be surprised to see him doing some special on older women. The real lesson is for CNN, not Lemon... They shouldn't allow him to talk off script...He was hired as a pretty face, not a deep thinker. Putting him in a pair of black frame glasses didn't make him any smarter, even if it worked for Anderson.

Feb 21, 2023

A Woman Of Letters

Barba-Del Campbell was in the hallway at the overflow Council meeting this past July on Cedar Creek Park. She handed me a handwritten letter which I put into my pocket. I met Barba-Del a few years earlier at the first meeting for the Lanta merchants. There were at least two passions in her life, activism and art; Apparently, she had a long relationship with both. This past summer, The Morning Call had a feature story about her role in commemorating Paul Robeson with a postage stamp.

I typed and printed Barba-Del's letter and faxed it along with my own to the Morning Call. Both our editorials appeared side by side in the paper. My effort resulted in a handwritten thank you note. Barba-Del didn't have a computer. I would print out pieces I wrote on the merchants or on the parks, and leave them at her "office", that would be the first table to the left at The House of Chen.

There will be a gathering this Saturday in her memory at the restaurant. Barba-Del is on the far right in photo above, which was taken after that Lanta meeting by participant Bernie O'Hare. Ann Elizabeth Schlegel and Heather Sincavage also remember this remarkable woman.

Heather Sincavage reflects on the memorial service

above reprinted from March of 2010

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 21, 2023: The above tribute to activist Barba-Del Campbell's memory is almost thirteen years old. Her memorial gathering was in a restaurant which no longer exists. Even Jenny Lim's replacement eatery in South Bethlehem recently closed.

Downtown's transition to Reillytown didn't happen without protest. This blogger and others, especially those displaced by the new sterile bland towers, spoke up here and on other alternative media. Town by then was perhaps funky, but it was organic, and real. What there is today is a news release by Reilly Real Estate, echoed by the Morning Call.

Although not all of my current readers may know who and what I'm remembering here today, nevertheless, it is my honor to reprint this post.

Feb 20, 2023

A 2014 Campaign Promise


In 2014 I ran as an independent for state representative, against the long term incumbent Republican, and a Democrat. At that time, my neighborhood was gerrymandered into the 183th district, with Julie Harhart's stronghold of Northampton. In that election Harhart won her eleventh term. 

Although I didn't even come close to winning the election, I'm glad to report that Wehr's Dam has been saved. The dam survived the machinations of the Wildlands Conservancy and a complicit board of commissioners at that time. I thank the current* board for honoring the voter's 2016 referendum. I urge  them to place Wehr's Dam under their historic district designation, to help ensure its long term future. 

My same neighborhood is now in the 132nd, represented by Mike Schlossburg. I wish it was in the 132nd in 2014. I wish I was eight years younger. I wish I was nicer.

*Diane Kelly, David Kennedy, Monica Hodges, Jacob Roth, Brad Osborne

Feb 16, 2023

Resurrected Life Church Bites Zion and Allentown's Hand

Reverend Gregory Edwards, after securing the iconic Zion Church for one dollar, has turned around and spat on local history. The Liberty Bell Museum rents the front portion of the basement for one dollar a year from the church...That's where the Liberty Bell was hidden during the Revolutionary War. Edwards wants a rent increase to $1000 a month!!!! 

As for the board of the former Zion Church,  they learned that their former good deed has not gone unpunished....not exactly a Christian lesson. The crass decision by the charismatic preacher is not a surprise to everyone,  just to the woke former church board. 

Unless the museum can stay in that historic place where the bell was hidden, it has no meaning. To this blogger, Edward's decision is just another erasure of Allentown's historic mercantile district. I hope the city manages to save the art deco post office at 5th and Hamilton.

Shown above is an old linen postcard of Zion Church. Even the postcard is historic, only requiring a one cent stamp. On the back of the postcard it states...This Church housed the Liberty Bell during the Revolutionary War in order to prevent its capture by the British who wished to convert the metal into bullets. It was brought to this city in a hay wagon by local farmers.

Molovinsky On Allentown is normally posted every weekday of the year. However, the above post appeared early the evening before, because of its important connection to Allentown history.

Planning Puppies Approve New Reilly Project

Before we get into this project, allow me to officially change the name of two Allentown subdivisions.  I have been referring to downtown as Reillyville. Considering that Reilly now owns the state hospital parcel,  formally aka Rittersville, downtown will now become Reillytown, and Rittersville will become Reillyville. Now that we have the new designations, let's get on with today's post.

We learn from the Morning Call that Reilly's new Reillytown project has the approval of the city planners. Although that might seem newsworthy to the new Morning Call reporter, the only thing that would be newsworthy is if they had disapproved. Only a new reporter could think that approval was anything more than a formality. I have already used the term planning puppies half a dozen times in previous approval posts.

Now, finally the project...There are actually those very excited about it, a mid size entertainment venue. The theater will hold about 1,500 people, and supposedly feature up and coming bands.  I hope that it does, but I recall the arena was supposed to have many more events than it does. I note that Symphony Hall is also very underused.  Perhaps this will be a spark that ignites some nightlife in Reillytown.  Although nobody would confuse this blog or me with a downtown cheerleader, I do wish it success.

shown above 1950's era ad for the Lyric, now called Symphony Hall.

Feb 15, 2023

Police Shooting In Allentown's Reillyville

We have been reading for several days in the Morning Call  about the mugger shot and killed by police. They observed him assaulting someone, and he fired on police when pursued.  While the paper has emphasized that the shooting took place at 8th and Maple, they have downplayed its proximity to 8th and Hamilton, epicenter of downtown Reillyville, aka Allentown.

The alley Maple Street separates Reilly's Hamilton Street office tower from his new apartment hive behind it on 8th. Usually in regard to violence, the police inform us that the incident was no threat to the law-abiding, which implies that it was an inter low-life altercation. We have heard nothing about the original victim, just about the aftermath. Was that victim a fellow low-life, or was it a new hive tenant? Either way, it's not reassuring for prospective hive tenants. 

The news reports indicate that there were at least two policemen at the shooting. Originally, the Reilly Corporation, CityCenter Real Estate, was to have their own security force. If Allentown police are guarding the Reilly forts, is the rest of the city receiving adequate protection?

As Molovinsky On Allentown approaches its 16th year of publication, it still must ask questions the Morning Call avoids.

photo of 8th & Maple, alley south of Hamilton, new office tower on Hamilton, new apartments to its rear.

Feb 14, 2023

Credible Messengers And Allentown City Council

Allentown councilwoman Ce-Ce Gerlach proposes that Allentown spend $100thousand to hire a consultant to study the good work of credible messengers.  Credible messengers assign a convicted felon to mentor a young boy so that he doesn't become a future felon, or so goes the scam.  In my day they had Big Brothers. A Big Brother was a successful person who could act like a role model for a young person, how square is that?  

I believe that Allentown would be better off with credible councilpersons, who wouldn't even think about wasting city money on such nonsense.  I personally don't think that credible messengers is good work. But I know that spending money on such, instead of another police officer, is bad governing. 

Candida Affa has announced that she is running for another term on city council. On one hand, I appreciate that she has institutional knowledge of Allentown, but there's another side that would trouble me. She mentions that it's a new administration, and that she wants to be part of the accomplishments....that's the problem. In the Pawlowski regime, she stayed loyal, too loyal, until they took him away in cuffs. City Council is supposed to be a check and balance on the administration, not a rubber stamp. I wrote a few sentences ago that it would trouble me...In another time with a more responsible council. However, in this time, when we're considering credible messengers, Affa is comparatively a conservative... Hopefully she'll be re-elected.

In the photo above, I'm addressing city council in person...That's something I no longer do.

Feb 13, 2023

Tip For Schnooks

The sign in the photo comes from the crybaby immigrant who operated the diner at 9th and Linden. He had heard stories that if he came to America, worked hard and saved his money, this was the land of opportunity. The schnook thought when he bought the diner he need only work from early in the morning till late at night to get his share of the pie. Sure, seven day weeks are hard, but the bus stop always provided a new customer or two. Schnook didn't know about Pawlowski's plan to move Allentown forward. All those bus stops would be centralized to the Lanta terminal at 6th and Linden, even the Hamilton Street merchants wouldn't be spared. When Butzy was enticed to build his office building at 9th and Hamilton, it's good to be Butz, the stage was set for the revitalization of Hamilton Street. The riffraff bus people who populated the boatpeople stores would be rafted down to the new Lanta terminal at The Morning Call Square. Last Christmas Lanta even provided a shuttle bus to bring the marginal back to Hamilton Street as a concession to the merchants, but the shopping habits had already changed. Rite Aid is returning, in spite of our poor planning, because of a fluke with their 7th Street building. Back to Butzy, tenants never materialized for his building, and there is less business on Hamilton Street than ever. The Chamber of Commerce, after saying there was no need to be in Allentown and selling their Walnut Street building, "changed" their mind, and opened an office at Butz's. The County moved its Visitor Bureau there, but there's only so many connections available. The prime first floor space has remained empty since construction in 2006, but that's about to change. Although our state income tax will likely rise, there's a grant coming Butz's way for his tax free KOZ building. With a start up grant of over $350.000, an Easton restauranteur will open an upscale blah blah blah this spring. If you eat there, you have already left a tip. 
ADDENDUM: Apparently Pawlowski is willing to pay for everything, even the kitchen sink. In addition to the 350k from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program, listed as 9th and Hamilton, there is another grant application from DCED for the prevention and elimination of blight under section 4 of the Housing and Redevelopment Assistance Law on behalf of Alvin H. Butz, this time using the actual street number, 840 Hamilton St. Who would think that a new building would qualify for funds under blight elimination? In a few years, not unlike the Brew Works, it will be impossible to trace the subsidies provided. 
ADDENDUM 2: A little more sugar; R60 Economic Development Liquor License for 840 West Hamilton Street.

above reprinted from August of 2009 

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 13, 2023: Well, fourteen years later I can say it's still good to be Butz, but better to be J.B. Reilly. Even Butz could have never imagined the NIZ back in 2009. He got a little taste with the Butz 2 Building, to the left and rear of Butz 1. Of course most of the pie went to Reilly, who bought up the properties on the Hamilton Street NIZ map, before people realized how lucrative that diverted state tax spigot would be. Browne then threw in the cigarette tax and parcel switch out option, making the NIZ limited only to Reilly's imagination. He now even owns the State Hospital acreage. Although Browne lost the election, he just won directorship of the state Revenue Department from new Governor Shapiro. Who knows what's coming Reilly's way? Making all this so much sweeter for Reilly is that scrutiny of the NIZ, like the KOZ in 2009, is almost exclusively limited to this blog.

Feb 10, 2023

Weitzel's Expensive Catalogs

Although Greg Weitzel is leaving in 7 days, before he leaves, he is attempting to bully a compliant City Council into destroying our swimming pool system. Rather than simply build some ramps and railings to comply with new ADA regulations, like pools all over the country, Weitzel's plan is to close 2 pools, and turn the other ones into water parks. Although CedarBeach Pool has served the city for 60 years, he wants to move it up the hill and add water park features. He wants to close Irving Pool, the only one on the east side, and turn the spot into a spray park. He wants to close Fountain Pool, which serves the inter city children, whose mothers don't have vans to drive them to CedarBeach. He spent $80,000 on a consultant from Indianapolis for these recommendations, which could have paid for the handicapped ramps at several of the pools. Let me be blunt. Before coming to Allentown, Weitzel built a destination playground in Lewisburg. He established a relationship with the manufactures of playground and water park equipment. Much of his accomplishments in Allentown were purchased from their catalogs. Allentown should wish him well, and have him take those catalogs with him.

above reprinted from May of 2012
old postcard: Fountain Park Pool

ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 10, 2023: I spent over a decade defending the traditional park system  and routinely attending city council meetings during the Pawlowski regime. Despite my efforts, we lost both the Fountain Park and Irving Street pools. The city is now hoping for a grant to replace the former Irving Park pool. 

I no longer attend council meetings. Allentown has a new park Director, but I no longer knock on the doors of department heads. However, I will continue pecking away on this typewriter, and continue not hesitating to call out those who despoil our history.