Sep 18, 2020

Jews In Jerusalem

Except when barred by one conqueror or another, Jews had lived in Jerusalem since King David. Prior to Jordanian rule in 1948, there was a Jewish majority for 150 years. In 1864, eight thousand of the fifteen thousand population was Jewish. By 1914, two thirds of the sixty five thousand residents were Jewish. In 1948 the United Nations Partition Plan divided the British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. Jerusalem was to be initially an international city, with access guaranteed for all. This plan was rejected by the surrounding Arab nations, which attacked Israel in concert immediately upon the UN vote. When the truce was declared, Israel had survived, but East Jerusalem(walled Old City) was in procession of TransJordan. The Jordanians subsequently destroyed over 50 synagogues in the Jewish Quarter, which dated back to the 1400's. For hundreds of years both Christians and Jews were prohibited from building higher than Muslim structures. The few synagogues which survived were the ones built mostly below street level. The oldest surviving synagogue, The Jerusalem Synagogue, was built by the Karaite Jews in around 900. Shown above is the Ben Kakai, a Sephardic Synagogue built in the 16th Century.

Perhaps the most famous synagogue destroyed by the Jordanians was the Ashkenazi Hurva Synagogue built in 1720, it's dome visible in the top center of this photograph from the 1920's. It's replacement was completed in 2010.

This post was first printed in April of 2010, and titled The Synagogues of Jerusalem

Sep 17, 2020

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.

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 17, 2020: I first posted this piece in September of 2007, and over the years since. In recent years, the update usually contained a comparison to some current event, such as using taxes for art grants. A current article in the Morning Call informs us that a store room on Hamilton Street is being utilized as an art gallery, and waxes on about how wonderful it is. In reality, J.B. Reilly is donating the space he can't rent anyway, for the gallery. While this backstory is suggested in the article, what isn't mentioned is that the whole building is being financed with our diverted state tax $dollars. Enjoy your gallery, you're paying for it. 
Disclaimer: Fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare and I are competing in a Bastard Of The Week contest. It's nasty business, but we're both well qualified.

Sep 16, 2020

Obama's Pogrom Against Israel

Yesterday, Obama told Israel,  through his spokesman John Kerry, that Israel must decide if it's going to be Jewish or a democracy, and that it can't be both in its current  one state solution. Could you imagine him saying that to one of the Arab countries,  that they either have to be Muslim or democratic, but they can't be both.  This man has outright contempt for Israel.  Israel is concerned with survival.  Perhaps Obama needs to spend a few nights in Chicago's hood,  and learn what it's like to live in danger.

Kerry spent an agonizing seventy four minutes trying to justify throwing Israel under the bus at the UN.  In his drawn out speech, he inadvertently touched on some of the harsh realities of life in Israel.  While praising the United States for providing the Iron Dome, he mentioned that it saved countless Israeli lives.  Later in the speech, he said that a Palestinian state on the West Bank must not be hostile, like Gaza.  What a leap of faith that would take.  What words ever came out of Palestinian mouths to reassure Israel?  He even stated that a two state solution would stabilize a volatile region.  Does he know a place in the middle east that is calm.  Does he think that the carnage in Allepo has anything to do with Israel?  A Secretary of State who has accomplished nothing in the middle east, now in his last three weeks in office, knows the solution for Israel and the middle east.

While Kerry said that peace cannot be imposed,  he had no trouble  imposing a rebut of Israel.  He stated that his plan was approved by the world stakeholders.  In truth, the only real stakeholders are Israel and the Palestinians.  Kerry must know more than Netanyahu and Abbas.

I will not list and discuss his six point plan.  He started his speech by stating that the United States would be derelict if it didn't tell its friend the hard truth.  An hour and fourteen minutes later, he concluded the long speech by saying that in good conscience, the United States cannot do nothing. He  and Obama are neither a good friend, nor have a conscience about Israel.

Design considerations on this blog are chosen for desktop viewing. 

reprinted from December of 2016

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 16, 2020: Yesterday and today, I reprinted two posts on the rocky relationship that the Obama/Biden team had with Israel, as that administration ended. Yesterday, while Trump was hosting Israel/UAE/Bahrain for their new peace arrangement, Biden was suggesting that the Obama/Biden treaty with Iran could be renewed.  Biden still seems oblivious to Iran's aggression in that region.

Sep 15, 2020

Obama's Parting Shot At Israel

For those who support Israel,  Obama's parting shot of not vetoing the UN resolution against the little country, was not a surprise. He has demonstrated indifference to outright hostility, since his first term in office. Ironically, his middle eastern sympathies  provide little comfort to our citizens as we brace for possible attacks during this holiday season.  Support for Israel is a controversial issue, even among some Jews.  It is not my intention to debate the general topic here, but to note Obama's departure from the historical American position, of not imposing pre-conditions on a country surrounded by sworn enemies.

As a Jew, I'm perplexed as to why he garnered so much Jewish support, in both 08 and 012.  Jews, like other minorities, were nursed on the belief that the Democrats better represent them. Despite outright hostility to Netanyahu for four years, he loss only 8 points of Jewish support for his second term.

This post should not be misconstrued as a partisan indictment of Democrats.  Rather,  it is my contention that voters should mature beyond preconceived notions about one party or the other. 

reprinted from December of 2016

Sep 14, 2020

Bill White's Old Formula

Bill White's column this past weekend reminded me of his old recipes, like chocolate cake contests and Christmas lights. I think that if he, or his editor, ever had a new thought, they would probably think that something's wrong with them, and go to the emergency room. His vehicle for announcing his old recycled pet peeve column was Iannelli's recent interview with Donald Trump Jr..  Prior to the show, White claims that there was an enormous amount of complaints about Iannelli's choice of guest.  White, although writing a column about the show, does not provide a link to it

In the Business Matters interview,  which was actually well done by Iannelli,  Don Trump Jr. ironically mentions the constant negative press coverage.  From previous writings by Bill White, I suspect that he was the one who was really upset about Trump Jr. being on the show.  White certainly didn't have to talk his editor, Mike Miorelli, or the mother ship, The Chicago Tribune, into printing the column,  they're already on the bash Trump bandwagon.

The $64 thousand dollar question is how do the few remaining Morning Call readers actually feel about it?  Don Jr. maintains that Trump supporters tend to be quiet about their political preference.  It's one thing for the urban Chicago Tribune to bash Trump, but can the Morning Call afford the same attitude?  I know that they cannot afford to pay their rent, or at least they chose to vacate 6th and Linden, rather than pony up the money they owed.

The Morning Call hasn't shown much insight in the last year or so.  While they profiled the young leaders of the recent protests in Allentown, they fail to investigate stories handed to them, like South Whitehall Township conspiring against their own citizen's referendum on Wehr's Dam.
While I found White's article painfully predictable, I suppose that with the pandemic prohibiting public gatherings, he can't eat his way through Musikfest or the Allentown Fair.

Sep 11, 2020

Treasures Lost On Hamilton Street

                                                   click photograph to enlarge
The merchants who built Hamilton Street counted on architecture to attract shoppers into their emporiums. Large neon signs wouldn't appear for another fifty years. The soffit and fascia shown above, halfway between 7th and 8th on Hamilton, is one of the most elaborate facades in Allentown. One thing you can say about Allentown City Hall, they never let culture, art, or history get into the way of their plans. As successful cities come to value and profit from their history more and more, Allentown keeps using the standard catalog of proven failures. I know from other projects on Hamilton Street that Pawlowski isn't big on history. The Cityline Building in the 800 Block was permitted to stucco over beautiful brickwork. Sad that the puppies, who are directors at the Art Museum and Historical Society, remain silent on the planned destruction. It's hard to describe the magnificence of the skylight shown below, also in the targeted block. It's very large in three sections, in pristine condition. Should be quite a snack for Pawlowski's bulldozer.
The bulldozer prevailed, and the former architectural treasures of our mercantile history were not preserved, save for this blog's archives. Above is reprinted from May 2011

ADDENDUM:   This past weekend, a member of Old Allentown Preservation Association, and an active local Democrat, bragged on facebook about how he had recycled an old second floor office door from the demolished buildings in the arena zone. In truth, Old Allentown also turned a self serving, callous eye to the destruction noted in the above post. Although I'm glad the door was recycled, allow this post to note the irony and hypocrisy of the Association.

reprinted from January of 2015

UPDATE NOVEMBER 16, 2017: Although there's always some group bestowing some award on any new development, the Allentown NIZ is certainly no architectural destination.  Although I've taken hundreds of photographs in Allentown, including the ones shown here,  I have yet to buy film for any new building in the NIZ.

above post reprinted from previous years.

Sep 10, 2020

The People's Candidate

In the late 1970's, neighbors would gather in the market on 9th Street to complain and receive consolation from the woman behind the cash register. Emma was a neighborhood institution. A native Allentonian, she had gone through school with Mayor For Life Joe Dadonna, and knew everybody at City Hall. More important, she wasn't shy about speaking out. What concerned the long time neighbors back then was a plan to create a Historical District, by a few newcomers.

What concerned Emma wasn't so much the concept, but the proposed size of the district, sixteen square blocks. The planners unfortunately all wanted their homes included, and they lived in an area spread out from Hall Street to 12th, Linden to Liberty.* Shoving property restrictions down the throats of thousands of people who lived in the neighborhood for generations didn't seem right to Emma. As the battle to establish the district became more pitched, Emma began referring to it as the Hysterical District.
Emma eventually lost the battle, but won the hearts of thousands of Allentonians. Emma Tropiano would be elected to City Council beginning in 1986, and would serve four terms. In 1993 she lost the Democratic Primary for Mayor by ONE (1) vote.

Her common sense votes and positions became easy fodder for ridicule. Bashed for opposing fluoridation, our clean water advocates now question the wisdom of that additive. Although every founding member of the Historical District moved away over the years, Emma continued to live on 9th Street, one block up from the store. In the mid 1990's, disgusted by the deterioration of the streetscape, she proposed banning household furniture from front porches. Her proposal was labeled as racist against those who could not afford proper lawn furniture. Today, SWEEP officers issue tickets for sofas on the porch.

Being blunt in the era of political correctness cost Emma. Although a tireless advocate for thousands of Allentown residents of all color, many people who never knew her, now read that she was a bigot. They don't know who called on her for help. They don't know who knocked on her door everyday for assistance. They don't know who approached her at diners and luncheonettes all over Allentown for decades. We who knew her remember, and we remember the truth about a caring woman.

* Because the designated Historical District was so large, it has struggled to create the atmosphere envisioned by the long gone founders. Perhaps had they listened to, instead of ridiculing, the plain spoken shopkeeper, they would have created a smaller critical mass of like thinking homeowners.

reprinted yearly since 2010

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 10, 2020:Although it has been almost two decades since Emma passed, she still incites controversy. A Republican supporter of Heydt still resents her opposition to the Rental Inspection law. Some Hispanics wrongly still believe that she was a racist. I could tell both of them that Emma was a Democrat, and that Allentown was still a two party town.

Sep 9, 2020

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 previous years

Sep 8, 2020

A Butcher In Allentown

Those coming here today looking for a story about sloppy civic leadership will be disappointed. This post is literally about butchers, more specifically, some butchers at Allentown Packing Company.

A few days ago, while at the Fairground's Farmers Market, I learned that Bobby had passed away. Bobby was the "kid" who worked at my father's meat market on Union Street. Bobby grew up in an orphanage, a hardship which my father respected. One meat cutter that I knew nothing about was Lamont, other than he lived at the West End Hotel. He was a bear of a man, who could carry a beef quarter from the cooler with no effort. I never saw Lamont in the market portion of the shop, he always remained in the back, either in the large cooler or the adjoining cutting room. While my father insisted that people working on the counter change their meat coat and apron several times during the day, no such rule was imposed upon Lamont. Although he would look over the trays of meat before being taken out to the display cases, he never spoke.

Last time I spoke to Bobby, he told me that he appreciated that my father had taught him a trade, which he used throughout his life.

reprinted from previous years

Sep 7, 2020

The Butchers Of Allentown

photograph by Bob Wilt

A&B (Arbogast&Bastian), dominated the local meat packing industry for almost 100 years. At it's peak, they employed 700 people and could process 4,000 hogs a day. The huge plant was at the foot of Hamilton Street, at the Lehigh River. All that remains is their free standing office building, which has been incorporated into America on Wheels. Front and Hamilton was Allentown's meatpacking district. Within one block, two national Chicago meatpackers, Swift and Wilson, had distribution centers. Also in the area were several small independents, among them M. Feder and Allentown Meat Packing Company.

Allentown Meat Packing was owned by my father and uncle. The area was criss-crossed with tracks, owned by both LVRR and Jersey Central. All the plants had their own sidings. This is an era when commerce was measured in factories and production, not just relocated office workers.

Molovinsky On Allentown occasionally takes a break from the local political discourse to present local history.  My grandfather came to Allentown in 1891 and lived in the Ward on 2nd Street. By the time my father was born in 1917, they lived on the corner of Chew and Jordan Streets.

reprinted from previous years

Sep 4, 2020

Influences and Priorities In South Whitehall

As an advocate for history and the traditional park systems in the Lehigh Valley, I was struck by the irony of South Whitehall's new noise ordinance. A resident on N. 30th, which adjoins the Village West Shopping Center, convinced the township to pass an ordinance because of noise associated with the shopping center's dumpsters.  There are only six houses on those two blocks.

For over a year, Leroy Schmidt spend every weekend at Wehr's Dam, collecting signatures to preserve the dam, over 6,000 of them.  Of equal importance, and legally significant, the voter's chose by referendum to preserve the dam. However, the dam was not included in the township's historic overlay district. The current commissioners have made no public declaration that the dam will be preserved. On the contrary, they knowingly allowed the Wildlands Conservancy to challenge the dam's structural integrity with the state.

These actions and inactions concerning the dam constitute a conspiracy against the voters of South Whitehall. This conspiracy was designed by the Wildlands Conservancy, aided by the cooperating Commissioners, and enabled by The Morning Call, which refuses to publish about the situation.

It's outrageous that one influential person can get an ordinance passed which benefits virtually nobody, while the wishes of the majority of township residents about the dam are being ignored.

photocredit: Tami Quigley

Sep 3, 2020

Duck Farm And Hotel

At the beginning of the last century, Allentonians could take a day trip out to Griesemerville and spend the day at the Duck Farm and Hotel. The trolley, operated by Reading Traction Company, actually went through the Duck Farm building. That same trolley would continue west and go through or under the Dorney Park roller coaster. Today, Griesemerville is known as Union Terrace, or more precisely, Joseph S. Daddona Lake and Terrace.

The Hotel portion still exists as an apartment house. Heading west, cross the Reading Road stone arch bridge, built in 1824, and the former hotel is the first building on your right.

Note the bridge in the lower left of the above news clipping. This blog is proud to have played a part in preserving the bridge, and my hope is that the County of Lehigh will formally recognize the bridge's historic value, and secure it's future. Collectors of Lehigh Valley historic memorabilia can still find Duck Farm postcards.

news clipping courtesy of Danny Ruth 

reprinted from July of 2013, February of 2019

Sep 2, 2020

When Mack Was Allentown

I grew up around the corner from Mack's famous 5C plant, on the corner of Lehigh and S. 12th Streets. In the early 1950's, the brightly colored truck tractors would cover the lot next to the old assembly plant. All day long, a new tractor would leave for delivery somewhere, with two more piggy back on the coupling hitches. Over the years I have written a lot of posts about Mack, especially how their workers would use the Fountain Park WPA steps, walking to their jobs on S. 10th Street. Mack made all their own truck parts there, except the tires. Built Like A Mack Truck, was a result of the local craftsmanship.

In Saturday's Morning Call article about Mack investing in the Macungie plant, the vice president is quoted as saying that Mack was here to stay. By Saturday evening, that vice president was no longer with the company, according to WFMZ. I remember when the larger share of production was moved to South Carolina in 1987. Shortly before that plant closed in 2002, they handed out sunglasses to symbolize their bright future there. I remember when the World Headquarters on Mack Boulevard moved to North Carolina. I don't know about Mack's long term future in the valley, but I do know that the ties that bind have long since been broken.

Jack Mack, one of Mack Truck's founding brothers, was killed in an auto accident in 1924. He is buried in Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street.

reprinted from 2016

Sep 1, 2020

Morning Call's Breach Of Integrity

On February 13, 2015, the Pa. Dept. of Environment Protection informed South Whitehall Township that the Wildlands Conservancy has brought information to their attention concerning the condition of Wehr's Dam.

In the letter they confirm that it is a low hazard(C-4) dam, meaning that it poses no risk to private property or lives,  and, as such, a permit is not normally required for continued operation.

However,  after discussions with the Wildlands Conservancy, they (DEP) have become extremely concerned about the dam. They then ask for the township to hire an engineer  and submit plans to remediate the issues raised by the Wildlands Conservancy. They then state that such work will now require federal approval.  The letter goes on to state that the work can be avoided by either breaching or removing the dam.

Meanwhile, back at the township,  no defense by either public works or the commissioners is made on behalf of the dam. Furthermore,  the Wildands Conservancy is put in charge of the multi-$million dollar Greenway project.

In addition to the township,  the letter indicates that copies were sent to Chris Kocher and Abigail Pattishall of the Wildlands Conservancy.

Terri Morgan,  President of the SWT Commissioners,  has been in league with Abigail Pattishall for this entire disgrace.

I have documented this information about Wehr's Dam to the Morning Call now for several years.  They refuse to print the story about this conspiracy.  While the dam is structurally sound, what is undermined and breached is the integrity of the Morning Call and its editor.

photocredit: Wehr's Dam by Y-Tree

Aug 31, 2020

The Fairview Cemetery Situation

In 1997, I began looking for the grave of a young Jewish woman who died in 1918.  In the course of that search I became interested in the small old Jewish section of Fairview Cemetery on Lehigh Street.

In the late 1800's and early 1900's, Fairview was the most prestigious cemetery in Allentown.  Among those buried there included General Harry Trexler,  John Leh and Jack Mack.  The sprawling cemetery overlooks center city, and contains numerous obelisks and other impressive grave markers. Several unique mausoleums were built, including one for Max Hess senior. Allentown's most successful families purchased large plots, which were separated by low railings.  As the decades pasted,  the available plots were sold.

As time passed a new cemetery, Grandview, was developed northwest of town, along Walbert Avenue. Fairview fell out of favor among the elite.  Move ahead a few decades, and supposedly, the director of the then Fairview Cemetery Association embezzled funds.  Currently, the association consists of a funeral director and his immediate family.  Back in 1997, this new director claimed that the poor ground maintenance resulted from lack of funds. The low railings between the family plots were removed to make mowing easier and cheaper.

I was able to cast a little publicity of the situation. Although it took another decade, in 2008, the Morning Call did a story on the cemetery.  Move ahead yet another decade, Tyler Fatzinger became interested, and now there is a dedicated facebook page. The paper did another story in 2019.

In the best of situations, Fairview would become a park of serenity, like the cemeteries in Paris. In the worst of situations, it will become totally abandoned and overgrown. Chances are the status quo will continue... a for profit operator and a periodic series of concerned citizens.

Aug 28, 2020

Bill White's Selective Memory

Fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare and I don't talk much, but when we do, we usually wonder who is the bigger bastard? Bernie is often accused of having favorite people who can do no harm, nobody accuses me of that. What brings on today's rant is Bill White's column yesterday.

White gets nostalgic for the closing Morning Call offices at 6th and Linden. He recalls the pride when the reporters covered the trial of former mayor Pawlowski so efficiently. That's funny, because I recall the decade of Pawlowski's corruption which they silently missed.  Bill also doesn't mention their windfall from the NIZ. The Morning Call building was included in the district, although across the street, and now is the property of the NIZ baron J.B. Reilly.

I appreciate the local articles, and the job done by the reporters, but I'm too much of a bastard to let White get away with whitewashing the paper. They have repressed news of numerous shenanigans by local sacred cows they have chosen to protect.

Pictured above is Wehr's Dam.  There is an active conspiracy in motion to circumvent the citizen's referendum to keep the dam, and demolish it anyway, to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy.  Although I provided proof to the Morning Call that the Wildlands is communicating back channel with the State to that end,  Morning Call editor Mike Miorelli refuses to print the story.  However, Mike did hire Bill back to write his puff column.

Building or no building, business and censorship as usual at The Morning Call.

photocredit:Gregg Obst

Aug 27, 2020

Misguided To Mt. Sinai In Fairview

In 2000, when I was looking for the burial place of a Jewish woman who died in 1918,  I ended up searching the Jewish orphan cemeteries. An orphan cemetery is one that is no longer actively maintained by a congregation, usually because the congregation no longer exists. Mt. Sinai was begun by an association of early Allentown Jews in 1875.  Eventually, the group established a synagogue, which in turn started its own cemetery in 1928 on Walbert Avenue.  After that time mostly only spouses of earlier burials were interred in Mt. Sinai.  The last such funeral had occurred in 1976.

I was intrigued by the new Levine marker, near the front of the Mt. Sinai section.  A few years later I took it upon myself to locate any remaining family members.  Joseph was 103 when he passed away, so when I met his son at a local diner for coffee,  he himself was an elderly man.  Years earlier the family had moved from Brooklyn to the Pennsylvania countryside.  When Joseph's wife died in 2000, he contacted Boyko's Funeral Home in Macungie.  When he asked Boyko about a Jewish cemetery, Boyko guided, or misguided him to one that he owned in Fairview.  Boyko did not mention that the cemetery was no longer affiliated with a congregation, or that there hadn't been a Jewish funeral there in twenty four years. Six years later Joseph joined his wife at Mt. Sinai.

A few years ago Boyko also buried another Jew, a hispanic man, in Mt. Sinai.  These burials are assuredly taking place in plots that long ago belonged to other families. However,  at this point in time I don't think that anybody will know or care. Several years ago I asked a local woman about a very prominent marker at Mt Sinai with her family name. She told me that her parents and grandparents are buried in the Walbert Avenue cemetery, but she recalled that her great-grandfather was buried somewhere else.  She didn't know about Mt. Sinai at Fairview, nor was she ever there. When Jews visit a cemetery they leave a pebble on the gravestone.  There are no visitors to Mt. Sinai.

Aug 26, 2020

Revive Fairview Cemetery

About twelve 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's 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 would be ongoing.

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.

Because of my longtime blogging on Fairview, periodically I would be contacted by someone with a family member buried at the cemetery. They were always frustrated by conditions at the cemetery, and asked where or to whom they could turn.  The photo shown above was taken by a frustrated family member. It occurred to me that a facebook group page could be a common meeting ground for such families.  Recently, after I started the Allentown Chronicles facebook group, local resident Tyler Fatzinger demonstrated strong concern for conditions at Fairview. I suggested that he moderate a new group dedicated to the cemetery. He agreed, and started Revive Fairview Cemetery.

reprinted from previous years

UPDATE AUGUST 26, 2020: Tyler Fatzinger has turned out to be a tireless advocate for Fairview, volunteering his free time working and clearing at the cemetery.

Aug 25, 2020

Looking For News In The Trump Era

As a blogger it's important that I stay informed.  Even before the previous election in 2016, a few media companies made a business decision to choose a target audience, with no pretense of objectivity.  As the Trump administration progressed, or declined depending on your point of view,  the concept of objectivity became a rare commodity, perhaps even extinct.

Regardless of how one feels about Trump for president, certainly the sequence of minority speakers at the Republican convention's first night was inspirational.  For CNN to portray the evening as a parade of dishonesty is ironically dishonest.  Even more unfortunate is the former institutions of journalism, such as the NY Times and Washington Post, which now feel morally justified slanting the news.

What will happen to CNN if Trump wins again in 2020? I suppose that they could continue their format, but such an agenda eventually completely erodes credibility. At what point does it become a tabloid at the check out rack, next to the National Enquirer with the Space Aliens Among Us?

Aug 24, 2020

Biden's Little White Lie

In one of the Biden's first interviews since the convention,  he said that he didn't feel any pressure to choose a black woman for VP.   Of course, in reality, the only suspense was which black woman was he going to pick.

Black women are a big block in North Carolina, and that state was a big factor in Biden's primary win.  When he obligated himself to picking a woman,  Harris's nomination was practically a done deal.

In Biden's final short list, four out of six women were of color. Among the black women, Harris and Rice were immensely more qualified.  While Rice has extensive international experience, she also had some associated baggage.

When I questioned this blog's Democratic focus group, they all replied what else could he say?  In their minds, no big deal there. After all, it's not like one of Trump's lies.

Aug 21, 2020

Obama's Third Term

With the Democratic world going ecstatic for Obama's put down of Trump, I felt compelled to watch/listen to the speech.  Because Obama is such an eloquent speaker, it took two sessions for me to complete the watching.  Although only 19 minutes long, the eloquence which mesmerizes others, annoys me.  Obama could make a rain gutter commercial sound monumental. That quality of such elocution must be put aside, so that the meaningfulness of a speech can be evaluated.

Right off, Trump could not have caused both more virus deaths and also more damage to the economy.  If more restrictions were put into place, there would have been more economic damage.  Unfortunately, both results are proportional to our country's size, and experienced throughout the world.

Both Obama and Biden keep telling us that Joe was Obama's right hand.  However, now Joe would be steering the ship,  but still the best they can say is that he would be steady.  We hear that steady is enough.  Those satisfied with steady think that the country can protect itself, and all it needs is a president less embarrassing.  Perhaps the country can lead itself back to being dependent on outside manufacturing, and picking up the tab for world defense.

Those so offended by Trump would gladly settle for Obama's third term. However, it won't actually be Obama delivering their cherished speeches. It would be Biden, occasionally telling us how the massive bureaucracy has been reengaged, to reproduce the previous status quo.  Actually, that's the best it could be,  because if it's worse,  we'll be paying to make everything free for everybody. 

photocredit:Pete Souza

Aug 20, 2020

A CyberVisit To Allentown

The responses and comments to the political posts are usually within a day or two. The historical posts have a much longer shelf life. People using search engines find something of their youth often years after I wrote the post. I still occasionally get a comment from someone who worked at a Mohican Market, often somewhere in upstate New York. Yesterday, a former post on the 6th Ward received such a comment.

 Hello molovinsky, I found your blog today. I was born in the 6th ward in 1933. My grandfather, who died very young, long before I was born, was Emanuelle Markowitz and was, I believe, the first religious head of Aguda Achim. His wife was Ida Markowitz. We lived at 234 and then 244 Hamilton St. and went to Harrison Morton grade school before departing permanently to New York City. Arnold Fein (brother is Barry)

 My grandparents lived on Second Street in around 1900, and belonged to the Agudas Achim congregation. After Arnold and I exchanged a couple comments, I invited him to send me a note about Allentown via email.

  Yeah, Michael, I went back for a visit about 3 yrs. ago. All of lower Hamilton St,is part of a highway and the Jersey RR Station ,I was told, failed as a restaurant.The stores I remember on Hamilton between 2nd and 3rd were, Queenies Luncheonette, Bucky Boyle's Bar, Harry Gross Shoes,an A&P on the corner of 1st (Front?)and Hamilton, a "holy roller" storefront church, a travel agency with a large steamship model in the window,Taylors Plumbing Supply (now Weinstein's-I visited the place when I was there), a "Giant" supermarket on 5th and Hamilton across from the P.O., Francis the barber on the hill,the Colonial theatre,etc.Harrison Morton is still there and 2nd Hamilton is still the same including the "A Treat" sign on the little store near HM, which I remember. Some friend's names from that time are: Stanley and Nancy Kulp (Culp?) who lived in an old wooden house next to the Lehigh Valley RR Freight terminal across from Taylor's. Michael Miller, Bobby Kressler, George Mevrides(sp?), Andrew Kent,Dickie Catalina(whom I'll never forget as the guy who came running out on Hamilton St. on 12/7/ shouting, "the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor"), the 4-5 Delaney kids,Dickie Gross who lived in a stone house on 2nd St.just off Hamilton where his father had his dental practice, Lucille Wiener, Phyllis Malatrott,Victoria Minner,Ronald DiLeo whose father was a Dr., (told me my first "off color" joke in the 1st grade while we were standing side by side at a HM urinal)), Marvin Karll, 2 HM footballers (who were not friends as such), Barney Garulla(sp?) and Albert Casium, whom I believe was Albanian.Other places were the slaughter house, Arbegast and Bastion (sp?). Couldn't miss that!, Riverfront Park, and a horse watering trough on the corner of Hamilton and Front(?)Lots of others. Something priceless about childhood, no matter where it's spent.

 Even in Allentown.

UPDATE: More memories from "Arnie" Fein
Also, my grand parents owned a store on 2nd St. around Tilghman, before I was born. My mother always remembered the few words she knew in Slavic because some of the customers spoke only "Slavisch".Another recollection was in 1943 when a lot of us went to the JerseyRR terminal to watch a train full of German POWs being transported west. Larry and Jimmy Whitman lived above the A&P on that picture you sent. Their name was anglicized from a Polish name their parents shortened.Harry and Jean Getz, friends of my mother, owned a small shoe store between 2nd and 3rd Sts.The name of the travel agency was, if I'm correct, something like Bortz. On Walnut St. around the corner from Weinstein's was the "Perkiomen Transfer Co." The local movie house was the Townie which I believe was in the 6th ward.Further up the hill were the Colonial, the Midway and the Transit.There was a trolley named the Liberty Bell which went from 8th St. to Philly and a trolley to Bethlehem along the "Bethlehem Minsi Trail". Other memories as they come from the distant past...

 photo supplied by Arnold Fein, showing him, brother and mother at Hamilton and the current American Parkway, next to the current Weinstein Supply Company.

reprinted from 2012, 2017, 2019

Aug 19, 2020

First Race For The 7th District

On Monday, The Morning Call's article recollecting  Marty Northstein's cycling successes in 1994 must have had the former Olympic champion shaking his head in disbelief.  Generally speaking, it's nice to have former accomplishments acknowledged, but this is the same paper which helped torpedo his congressional run in 2018.  The paper back then, based on a leaked email,  published that an allegation of misconduct was lodged against Northstein with the U.S. Center for SafeSport.  Although the allegation was soon determined to be without any merit, the headlines and timing did its damage.

While the Morning Call asked to be dismissed from Northstein's subsequent lawsuit for invasion of privacy,  a judge has determined that they will remain a defendant.  The paper since simply refers to Nothstein's "unsuccessful" campaign,  they don't acknowledge any part in that defeat.

While I won't pass judgement on the paper breaking the story at the time, they are a defendant in a suit by Northstein. What factor the article(s) played in his loss is beyond the gaze of my crystal ball. Whether the article(s) damaged his reputation or invaded his privacy is beyond my legal understanding.

However, I do know irony when I read it. I do think that their current praise for him winning some races in 1994 is tone deaf.

Aug 18, 2020

Lehigh Valley Transit Freight Service

Lehigh Valley Transit Company began their freight service in 1908, using converted passenger cars. By 1912, they were purchasing cars manufactured for commercial hauling. Various train/trolley websites specialize in the exact specifications of these trolley cars, and trace the history of specific cars. It was not uncommon for a car to be used by three or four different companies, and retrofitted for various uses. Throughout the formative years, Lehigh Valley Transit acquired smaller companies and absorbed their freight operations; The Quakertown Traction Company operated between Perkasie and Quakertown. Lehigh Valley's freight operation extended to the 72nd Street Freight House in Philadelphia.

Several years ago, Allentown lost an expert on our local train/trolley history, Gerhard Salomon. Mr. Salomon was a partner in the family jewelry store, one of few remaining gems from Hamilton Street's past.

UPDATE: This post heralds back to May of 2010, and was republished in May of 2013. Since that time we lost the few remaining gems on Hamilton Street.  Salomon's was torn down and replaced by another glass Reilly NIZ tower.  Tucker Yarn has recently closed, and will become the location for yet another tower of blandness.  This blog, with perhaps a unique combination of history and politics, will continue chronicling these transitions.

Aug 17, 2020

Issue With Morning Call Editor

On Friday afternoon Mike Miorelli, editor of the Morning Call, clarified for their readers that although the paper is giving up their work space, the paper will continue on, with the staff working from home. He wrote, "Our commitment to the Lehigh Valley and our readers is as strong as ever."

Well, I'm not sure about that. I do know that Mike Miorelli feels no commitment to the residents of South Whitehall, at least in regard to Wehr's Dam.  Although he knows that the Wildlands Conservancy interacted directly with the Pennsylvania DEP to complicate the status of Wehr's Dam, he will not allow my opinion piece on the impropriety of such ex-parte communications.

Mike Miorelli knows that the director of public works in South Whitehall, Randy Cope, is the son of a former Wildlands official, and that the Wildlands is determined to demolish the dam. Cope has made no good faith effort to defend the structure.  Although Miorelli knows that the voters of South Whitehall approved a referendum to keep their cherished dam, he ignores a commissioner wondering aloud how the township can get out from under that obligation?

Miorelli is apparently committed to what he deems important.  For other topics, seemingly, not so much. Not only doesn't his staff have a work place, the public doesn't have a voice. While he has positioned himself as the gatekeeper of opinion in the valley, truth has suffered. Whether you're the CEO of St. Lukes, or just a citizen advocate for a dam,  democracy needs an open opinion page.

ADDENDUM: Because of censorship at the Morning Call opinion page, I will reinstate a blog feature from years ago, OPEN MIKE. For this alternative public square on any subject of concern,  label your submission Open Mike, and submit through the comment windows. They will be collected and printed periodically as a special post. All Open Mike submissions must contain your name and phone number for verification.

photocredit:Wehr's Dam by Jason Fink

Aug 14, 2020

Smoking The Morning Call

This post concludes my trilogy on Donald Miller's legacy; a former newspaper is now a cigarette tax dodge, allow me to elaborate.  Under Miller's leadership the paper grew in its physical plant,  circulation and influence.

My post on Wednesday explained how Miller's influence continued after his death through the Century Fund, which after 25 years is ending.

My post yesterday explained how the Morning Call has compromised its journalistic credentials with nonsense stories, glorifying anybody with a bullhorn shouting profanities.  Worse yet, are the stories that the paper refused to print over the last decade.  The improprieties of former Mayor Pawlowski were first covered by me,  until fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare joined in. It took years later, only after Pawlowski was indicted, for the Morning Call to report on the crimes.  The current construction under the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) is not without controversy.  Only I sat with the former merchants in city hall, when the city was using straw buyers and intimidation to force them out of their properties and livelihood. Only this blog reported on the deception being used. Not only didn't the Morning Call report on what was happening, they were part of the deal. The newspaper building was included in the zone,  even though it was across the street from the district.

Yesterday, it was announced that the paper is vacating its building at 6th and Linden. For the last several years they actually have been a tenant there, with Reilly's City Center Realty being their landlord. It was also revealed that Reilly filed suit against the paper, which has not paid rent since April. Their departure will not hurt Reilly, because most of the building is used as a cigarette warehouse and distribution center. The NIZ allows Reilly to use all state taxes generated by all his different buildings' tenants for his debt service. Under this insanely lucrative arrangement, he has been able to build $1 billion dollars of new construction at the taxpayer's expense.  Not only has the Morning Call failed to report on the details of this legislation, they actually promoted each new building with a news article.  In addition to this taxpayer funded money tree arrangement,  the NIZ law also allows Reilly to use the cigarette tax, previously designated for children's health purposes. He purchased a cigarette wholesaler, and relocated it to the now former Morning Call building.

You might say that Miller's legacy is now being smoked on the corners of downtown Allentown.

Aug 13, 2020

The Morning Call As Justice Warrior

As is my style, yesterday's post on the Century Fund was brief. In however brief a style I care to post on this blog,  the topics are nevertheless extensively researched.  While others may have chosen to list all the beneficiaries of the fund and the amounts received, I preferred to present a condensed version, hopefully distilling the essence. While that post concerned Donald P. Miller's legacy,  today we dissect the remains of his Morning Call.

In Miller's era, reporters stayed on a beat for decades, and knew the back stories; they had institutional knowledge of Allentown.  We are now two media conglomerates away from Miller's family owned paper. The current editor in the front office assigns politically correct topics to the reporters, for a dwindling audience who could care less.

In yesterday's paper, we learn that people who live in center city own fewer houses than those in the suburbs. The article concludes that hispanics must have less opportunity here in the valley.
“It is absolutely systemic racism. Whatever the power in control decides what they want to do, they can exert their power onto others,” said Becky Bradley, executive director of the commission.
I will not comment on the article or the organizations quoted in it, or those who work in what I refer to as the poverty industry, but I will throw an insight on the fire they try to ignite.

From working in center city real estate, I can tell you that these oppressed victims are very glad to be here. They consider both the housing and quality of life immensely better than from where they came. 

Lengthwise this blog post exceeds my preferred template by far. In conclusion, I ask the paper for whom they are writing? The victims referred to in the article don't read the paper, and the suburban home owners who do, are tired of hearing endless renditions of the same drumbeat.

photocredit:Stacy Wescoe

Aug 12, 2020

End Of A Century

When Donald P. Miller owned and operated the Morning Call, he and a few associates more or less ran Allentown.  Fortunately, they were a benevolent oligarchy.

When he passed away, his fortune funded a trust, which has been one of the wizards behind Allentown's curtain. There are several such trusts or foundations in the valley.  They are very much a closed society.

Miller's trust, The Century Fund,  was specified to end in 25 years, which will be reached this coming year.

The Fund is contributing about a third of its remaining assets  ($20mil) to established local cultural institutions,  such as the symphony, library, art museum, theaters and colleges.  A third will be contributed to the Allentown School System, and the remaining third to another fund, the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.

Aug 11, 2020

A Crime 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 buffer.

The Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove, piece by piece, all the rubble that they piled around the bridge piers, despoiling the bridge's beauty. City Council should refrain from ever again permitting The Wildlands Conservancy to alter our park designs.

JULY 9, 2018: It has been five years since the dam's destruction in 2013, and the bridge piers look more disgusting than ever.

UPDATE AUGUST 11, 2020: Last week's storm Isaias caused unprecedented damage to the iconic bridge. The top of one of the stone piers was battered off, and now lies on the bridge deck. The rubble placed around the piers in 2013 narrows the channel between the piers, and raised the water level... neither of which helps the bridge in high water events.

Aug 10, 2020

Lehigh Parkway Bridge Decimated In Storm

The crowning glory of Lehigh Parkway was completed in 1941, the Robin Hood Bridge. Its curved stone end piers, and its two oval middle piers, were designed to compliment and mirror the long stone entrance wall into the park.

As a boy in 1955, living in the housing development above the park, I remember marveling about how high the water arose the morning after Hurricane Diane.

As an advocate for the WPA in 2020, I'm saddened to see the damage that Isaias inflicted upon the bridge last week. The stone top of one the stone piers, which serves as a wall and railing anchor, was smashed off and lies on the bridge, which itself is full of debris. With perhaps record high water, I speculate that a tree trunk or limb battered the stone buttress loose.

The main park entrance wall is in the process of a long overdue stone repointing. We now have an extra, unexpected repair which must be made.  I am optimistic that both the city and Trexler Trust will meet the challenge.

Aug 7, 2020

The Soliloquies Of City Council

At the end of Wednesday's City Council meeting, when the city clerk bought up a counter resolution submitted by the public, the opportunity arose for soliloquies by both Ce-Ce Gerlach and Joshua Siegel.

Although Gerlach claimed that she was abandoning her notes, it was apparent that many of the phrases were already committed to memory.  Gerlach wondered why a city mired in evictions, revenue losses and the pandemic could concern itself with her personal support of BLM.  She couldn't understand why a public censure was contemplated, instead of private calls to her by her council colleagues. She wanted to protest publicly, but be reprimanded privately.

Siegel's soliloquy was about the Moment of Moral Reckoning. He spoke of mental health. He spoke in admiration of the speed of the mobilizing, and the new energy of the protesters.  When questioned about the police,  he claimed that while raising his clenched fist in solidarity, under his mask he was only saying defund the police.

Siegel's soliloquy was even more rehearsed than Gerlach's.  It's almost a tragedy that such a performance is hard to see on the council camera system. Perhaps he can repeat the performance sometime in the future?

Aug 6, 2020

Night Of The Censure

Wednesday was a night of dueling censures at City Council. Although the resolution against Gerlach and Siegel was dropped,  there was a motion likewise against Zucal, Hendricks and Affa, for attempting to suppress freedom of speech.

At the end of the tag team match, it was up to referee Julio Guridy to restore order to the arena.

The merits of the resolutions has been discussed in length here on this blog, and elsewhere...What concerns me is the future of council and the city.

Although I just wrote the other day that Siegel and Gerlach miscalculated, perhaps the misread lies with me. While I have no doubt that they would be tarred and feathered in a Lehigh County vote, this is Allentown. This is the city where a indicted mayor cobbled together his fourth victory with assorted fringe groups by attending birthday parties.

There are those who feel that a Hyman candidacy can be a saving grace for the Little Apple, a back to business for a fragmented city. Regardless of who gets the top office in the next election, I see city council becoming even more progressive. In my vocabulary that's not a compliment.

screen-grab from Imantrek's Red Bokeh Society

Aug 5, 2020

Yellow Journalism

I was informed yesterday that this and O'Hare's blog practice yellow journalism. This description is supposedly circulating among the social media sites frequented by the progressive elements in our community.

Although I cannot speak for O'Hare, I can tell you that in my opinion both of us have often been called much worse.

What is circulating from these groups is an air of intimidation. People who know that these new leaders are not what they claim to be, or what the Morning Call reports that they are, don't want to become their victims. There's plenty of information out there, but nobody to quote.

The new leaders are saying that their political power got city council to drop the resolution against Gerlach and Siegel. I think that they're confusing pitchforks and torches with democracy. I think that they're confusing a woke editor at the Morning Call with Democracy.

Normally, I attribute credit for the photograph or illustration that I use at the top of a blog post. However its creator, and many other people in this community, do not want their identity revealed in this climate.

ADDENDUM: In the Morning Call's  recent report that the censure resolution against Gerlach and Siegel was dropped,  Hendricks and Affa state that the paper treated the resolution as if it was against Black Lives Matter. The local BLM movement and its minions on social media certainly did portray the censure as such, but not the paper. BLM said outright that if you're for the Blue, you're against BLM, it's one or the other! While the local BLM did succeed in getting Daryl Hendricks and Candida Affa to back down, they haven't intimidated the general public.  A petition is circulating that Gerlach and Siegel should resign.

Aug 4, 2020

Gerlach and Siegel's Miscalulation

The resolution to censure Ce-Ce Gerlach and Josh Siegel would not have passed Allentown City Council. That would have required four votes, meaning that either Cynthia Mota or Julio Guridy would have had to go along with the resolution. Current news from the grapevine is that council's enthusiasm for the resolution has waned.

After Pawlowski resigned, and Cynthia Mota nominated Hassan Batts for appointed mayor, this blog was the first to report that she worked for him at Promise Neighborhood. Batts is a mentor for the local BLM efforts. Julio would have delivered a long speech about how difficult the decision is, but in the end he would have voted against the resolution.

As private citizens, of course, there would be nothing wrong with Gerlach and Siegel marching with BLM. But, since they chose to run for city council, which has oversight over the police department, they have an obligation not to participate in any such public controversies. They are expected to be honest brokers in all police matters, including contracts, hiring and personnel.

Josh Siegel's mentor is Mark Pinsley. When a drug-crazed Dorney Park menacer was shot after terrorizing women drivers on Hamilton Blvd, Pinsley stood with the protestors, even though he was just elected as a South Whitehall Commissioner. That election also didn't stop him from running for state senator and then county controller. Siegel likewise has political ambitions beyond city council. 

Although apparently a censure is not coming their way, both Gerlach and Siegel miscalculated public sentiment about law and order. In the march up Hamilton Street they may have received adulation and high fives, but they garnered no appreciation beyond the marchers, quite the contrary.

ADDENDUM:Censor advocate Ed Zucal was forced to drop the resolution, as he ended up standing alone.  Bernie O'Hare elaborates on Siegel's far left positions.

Aug 3, 2020

Ce-Ce Goes Through The Tunnel

When Ce-Ce started her involvement in Allentown years ago, I was a more than a supporter, I was a booster. I blogged about her several times.  Likewise, when she decided to run for city council, I supported her.  Recently, with her support of the Maingate Noise Exemption Zone, I became somewhat disillusioned.

I watched Ce-Ce's youtube before she marched with the local BLM that Saturday, when Allentown had just seen the Sacred Heart video taken by the passerby, which was somewhat out of context.  As both a council person and a woman of color, she was conflicted. Her conflict was understandable, her course of action is the problem.  Even when the full video became available, and the policeman was exonerated,  she remained entrenched with those challenging the city's police.

Others members of Allentown City Council are not conflicted. A resolution of censure was drafted toward her and Josh Siegel, because of things said and done while they actively participated in that protest march.  This weekend she participated in additional BLM protests, in Palmerton and Emmaus, even though there have been no incidents in either one of those communities.  A member of city council should understand that she represents the city,  especially with our neighboring municipalities.

In  facebook posts by the local BLM activists, we are told that if you support the Blue, you're against the BLM, it's one or the other.  I would hope that our city council members who are supporting the local BLM  are not against Allentown's Blue.  At any rate,  when Cc-Ce went through the tunnel this weekend to Palmerton, she left my support behind.

photo: Make The Road congratulates Ce-Ce last November

Jul 31, 2020

Police Support In Allentown

Since the BLM became active in Allentown with calls to defund the police,  there has been a demonstration outside city hall at each council meeting, never mind that the council meetings are closed to the public because of Covid-19.  Wednesday night, for the first time, there was a demonstration in support of the police.

With first hand knowledge of how much Allentown Police have helped in complex situations, psychiatric nurse Danielle Scott organized the Back The Blue demonstration.  Also joining the group in support of the police was a motorcycle club.
I'm a psych nurse and rely pretty heavily on law enforcement to take custody of our residents for 302 petitions when they are at their very worst- angry, paranoid, psychotic, decompensated, violent, and a danger to themselves or others. These officers respond with care and compassion.... Danielle Scott

These are trying times. The virus has reduced the earned income and other revenue streams for the city.  Allentown is borrowing $16 million to cover the revenue shortfall.  The police force is down from the recommended and previous staffing levels. While I'm sure the police department appreciated the show of support, hopefully it also reminded city council that most city residents do not want to see the police department further depleted.

photo courtesy of Janet Keshl

Jul 30, 2020

Enid Santiago and Emma Tropiano

Readers of this blog know that for the last two days I posted about Enid Santiago, and her loss in the June 2nd primary election to Peter Schweyer.  Although Santiago lost by 55 votes, she has been claiming election fraud and corruption. The county election board granted her a hearing yesterday to consider her complaints.  Center stage, as mentioned in previous posts, was Ev Bickford darkening some ovals that were too faint for the scanner to read. Santiago was also complaining of several people, including her mother, who were turned away from voting. Santiago explained that Puerto Ricans use hyphenated and/or double names and/or multiple surnames, and that the poll workers should allow for every possible combination. It appeared as if the board entertained every possible irregularity that she could throw at the wall, and with each subsequent complaint becoming more frivolous, they allowed her lawyer to drone on for five hours.

In 1997 Emma Tropiano lost the Democratic primary by one vote. Although she was very upset, and pursued appropriate challenges, she made no allegations of stealing an election by systematic rigging, fraud, and corruption.  Worse yet for Allentown's future, is the cast of so called leaders who support Santiago's failure to accept that she lost the election.  Even the local Republican party, ever trying to ingratiate themselves closer with the hispanic community,  petitioned the DA to investigate irregularities on her behalf.

At the end of the hearing Ev Bickford was sacrificed on the alter of wokeness by the Election Board,  with their recommendation that she be investigated by the District Attorney and the Penna. Attorney General for violations of the election code.

If Chief Election Clerk Tim Benyo thought he had a problem getting people to work the polls for the primary, wait until November.
The future of local politics in Allentown looks indeed bleak.

Bernie O'Hare also posts on the hearing

Jul 29, 2020

Enid Santiago's Continuing Campaign

Although the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in Allentown was cancelled this year because of the coronavirus, a short notice, alternative event was organized for this past Sunday.  Billed as Puerto Rican Day March and Gathering, it started at 10th and Hamilton and proceeded to center square.

Among the event's co-hosts was Enid Santiago, pictured above wearing the black tee-shirt in the center.  She was featured in yesterday's post on the contested state representative race.  While I was initially disturbed to see nobody wearing a mask for the group photo,  promotion for the event did encourage masks.

While the Lehigh County Election Board formally considers her complaint about election fraud this morning, Santiago has organized a corresponding demonstration in front of the government center.  She is not going gently away.

The photograph above was taken by the photographer/videographer Director Hitman VSF,  and shared on several facebook pages.

Blogger Bernie O'Hare also has a related post this morning.

Jul 28, 2020

Republicans Ask DA To Investigate Santiago-Schweyer Primary

Say what you will about Everett Bickford, but no one can deny he's colorful. Years ago his alter ego was Apples The Clown. He also was a nondenominational wedding minister whose "Sapphire" package cost $100. In recent years, he or she often wears a dress and prefers to be called Erika. Occasionally, when the mood strikes him, he wears pants and becomes Everett again. Everett, or if you prefer, Erika, is also an election judge. During the June 2 primary, he was caught darkening some pale circles on the recent paper primary ballots. Bickford contended that he was only darkening those circles already inadequately filled in by voters. But some say he was darkening them for just one of the candidates, incumbent State Rep. Pete Schweyer. Enid Santiago, his opponent, lost the race by 55 votes and wants a new election. And now, the county Republican party wants Lehigh County DA Jim Martin to investigate.

I have known Everett (Erika) a long time. He was one of those who stood up for minority merchants on Hamilton Street in 2007 when LANTA summarily eliminated several stops that essentially ruined their businesses.

Republicans claim their sole motivation is to insure voter integrity, regardless of who the candidates are, or even to what party they belong. I suppose a cynic might wonder if they feel that Santiago would be a weaker opponent against their candidate come November, except that there is none.

No Republican is running in the race.

It is my impression that Election Chief Clerk Tim Benyo runs a tight office in Lehigh County. However, I suppose that the process can never suffer from too much scrutiny.

But be careful what you wish for. I've been hearing ugly rumors about this race. The parties spreading these stories are unwilling to speak on the record, so I am unwilling to repeat them. But they have nothing to do with Everett or Erika. If the rumors are true, this story will continue. 

Blogger's Note: This story was a co-written by fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare.

photo: Ev Bickford performing wedding ceremony

Jul 27, 2020

The Meek Fail To Speak At Fairgrounds

Although I spoke out against the Noise Exemption Zone for the Maingate nightclub at city council,  I decided not to attend the LCB hearing at the club itself. That decision was based on the fact that I would be again speaking for people who were still too meek to do so for themselves.

Candida Affa lobbied the 19th Street Civic Theater not to oppose. The West End Alliance also didn't say one word about the noise exemption zone. When two such groups won't speak out, let them endure the consequence of their timidness.... and there will be consequences. I do however feel bad for the numerous elderly living in the neighborhood. The city failed to inform the neighborhood, and the Morning Call's reach is less and less.

If the zone is put into effect, the Maingate will become one loud place. For those elderly living nearby with hearing impairments, they'll be able to feel the beat.

The livability of the neighborhood still has a couple of chances. The LCB must approve the zone. Although almost no opposers showed up, perhaps the LCB saw through the charade. Furthermore, the Maingate license is still under review, because of its previous history of noise complaints.

For the city to have lobbied for a Disruption And Noise Zone is almost beyond belief.  Candida herself previously advocated for a nuisance ordinance, after the shootings on lower Hamilton Street.
If everything goes the Maingate's way, they will no longer be under the LCB noise levels. Although the city says that they will use the same noise level, it's naive to believe that the same politics which sponsored a special exemption zone for them, won't likewise turn a deaf ear to any complaints.

Jul 24, 2020

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 high school boys we would have paid him for the experience.

reprinted from September of 2018

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