Feb 14, 2009

Price of Press Conference

When ReElect Pawlowski, finally puts his portable podium in front of the former Shanty restaurant on 19th Street, it's going to cost the tax payers at least a quarter million dollars, probably considerably more;

Refer to CEDC

Amending the 2009 General Fund to provide for a supplemental
appropriation of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand ($250,000) Dollars; to
provide for the grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and
Economic Development to rehabilitate 617 N. 19th Street to become TC Salon

When the one who would Move Allentown Forward first announced his involvement in barring the auto parts store, I wondered how much would the hair salon operator be able to squeeze out of Pawlowski? How much will the taxpayers be milked? There are a number of small hair salons, which must be less than delighted, with a subsidized giant joining their neighborhood. Once again a parochial group(West End Theater District) will be appeased, a lucky operator will receive the brass ring, and the playing field will be evermore tilted against the real tax-base.

grant information courtesy of Scott Armstrong


Bryan said...

Here's a little insight into my thought process when I heard about this.
"19th street is getting a new business that's aweso....a spa?! Don't we already have a bunch of hair salons on the street? What the hell. At least it'll create some foot traffic. Wait, people make appointments at a salon, they don't just wander into them to get a haircut. I think I'm going to go slam my head into a desk and see if it changes my mind."

Another pointless business on 19th street. Is this better than a vacant lot? NO it is not because a vacant lot has opportunities. A vacant lot can become something. Once its a hair salon we have to deal with it.

I've also heard rumors that there is going to be a juice bar inside of the place. Sucks to be Hava Java. Joe, the owner, told me he's making barely enough to get by. Now the rich yuppies will have a new place to spend their money.

So what have we done to the street? We've created unnecessary competition and another useless business that will not invigorate the area. Why do I even care anymore?

Anonymous said...


Did you see the big story on the closing of the 19th St restaurant “Ruffino’s”? As I no longer bother to subscribe to the empty folded newsprint that used to be a local paper I can’t say for sure if they covered it, but it is a safe guess that they follow standard procedure to ignore bad news.
It seems to me that this administration is now compounding the error of throwing money at business people as a lure rather than make Allentown an attractive place to invest. Option two requires work, insight, expertise, and hard choices. Perhaps that’s why it isn’t done here.

Scott Armstrong

Squirrel said...

This makes sense to the city. These businesses are very profitable. Probably because they are one of the last bastions of public conspicuous consumption (for their clientele) left in Allentown.

They will have a positive impact on decreasing blight and may increase the tax revenue to the city, however the mayor probably gave away the store on this one.

I assume, and may be wrong, they will close the Tilghman St location. Parking was always an issue at that location. It obviously is not at the new one.

Given the nature of the business and the clientele, I doubt it will be a draw for any of the surrounding businesses.

I do not think it will have an adverse impact to the franchised hair salon on the corner down the street. It's business probably will increase due to the like business close proximity phenomenon.

It will also address TCs competitive issues on Liberty St.(Oliver;'s?).

So I guess from the mayors perspective, it will help and as far as the neighborhood is concerned in a new business in the city - a vacant property is now occupied.

Scott's reference on another Blog to the tat parlor across the street, may be their business in "discreet" tattoos will increase.

A wise use of public dollars? Not mine I would rather see the money go to support basic living needs of much of the community in Allentown.

But what the hell, who has influence in this town anyway? Look out Fegleys!

Anonymous said...

Scott, Ruffino's is moving to their old location which is close to where they are now. The Morning Call article is here: http://www.mcall.com/entertainment/all-sidedish0205.6769136feb05,0,3696488.story

Mr. Molovinski, is there a reason why you never hyperlink anything? Wouldn't it be helpful to point readers to the "facts", the places where you found your information.

Why not include a link to the 2009 General Fund? If the City does not have this information available on their website, we need to know why.

This would sure save us a lot of time, more time to comment.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 2:21, i have a few computer "issues", being computer illiterate the main one. i'm using an older safari program (on mac) which isn't compatible with hyperlinks on blogspot. i do use footnotes noting the source when i feel it's appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the other 19th St. District salons don't form a "union" and protest this allocation of public funds.

Dick Nepon said...

Too bad the 19th St locals didn't support Mambo's. Good food, now out of business. Almost empty whenever I went, which was frequently. Mambo's, as far as I know, got nothing from the City.

Anonymous said...

Squirrel's insight very interesting and well said. Still, the Mayor seems to pick and choose favorites and for those left out, it hurts.

Anonymous said...

I knew Ruffino's was downsizing back to Salvatore’s their original location. It is none the less a closing of the larger restaurant and back to survival mode. Perhaps if boredom strikes me I will look up the article in the “Call”, then again maybe I won’t bother. My family enjoyed Ruffino’s and will miss it, it was a wonderful place.
Ed can now blame all of this on the economy and city Democrats will no doubt believe him.

Scott Armstrong

Glenn said...

Anonymous [2:21 PM] said... Why not include a link to the 2009 General Fund? If the City does not have this information available on their website, we need to know why.

To link to the City of Allentown's 2009 budget..Click On My Name

Anonymous said...

The other hair salons are likely to benefit in reality. direct competition often causes market share to increase for everyone by allowing a given location or area to be known for that specific product or service. The same can be is true for the coffee shop.

When Dolyestown PA was considering incentives for a third downtown restaurant several years ago people complained the town couldn't support a third restaurant. Now there are dozens.

As for Mambo, they did receive much support from the city and the neighborhood in various forms. The level of business they did is what they could handle. The area really didn't need an moderately priced low-budget style Spanish restaurant when you can get the same thing at many places a few blocks east dirt cheap.

In the end, it was the landlords decision for them to pack up anyhow.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:23, the cluster effect helps restaurants, not beauty parlors; have you ever heard of a hair district? i drove by mambo's every day and knew when their lease was up, so were they. although the neighborhood pawlowskietes praised the diversity of the place, they never patronized it.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of diversity, MM, I do believe that Allentown does want to move forward into the 21st century but until our minds go forth, nothing else can follow. The word DIVERSITY is often used as a "catch phrase". You hear things such as "DIVERSITY is our strength"; "DIVERSITY" makes Allentown great" "I can appreciate the "DIVERSITY" in my neighborhood and schools" but in reality until a person truly embraces DIVERSITY, it is just lip service and Allentown will continue to spin its' wheels and go no where; and this goes for EVERYONE living in Allentown. No race or lifestyle can be exempt from this process.

Alfonso Todd

Squirrel said...

Good points in this thread. Ruffinos move back to their old location is probably a good business decision.

I applaud the owner. Takes guts to take a step back. It seems a pizza joint is going to do better than a more upscale restaurant and he is astute enough to understand his market and resilient enough to change

It shows what the demographics will support in the area and can be a valuable lesson for others in the community.

I agree with AT's comments on "Diversity" and sometimes wonder if the term has not become a curse on us all. Like the old adage it isn't what you say it is what you do.

I know many people who are called rather disquieting names because of their comments yet often find they do more to support the total community than those hurling the names about.

As for a hair district - I think the new salon will be an island unto itself and a real cash cow for the owners.

Will it ad to the traffic of the rest of the merchants. I doubt it but that remains to be seen and I would love to be wrong on this.

Will it have an impact on the hair mill business on the corner. I doubt it will hurt and probably will help.

I would suggest being judicious on using the term "hair district" as it may give certain politicians and city planners a new idea.

Anonymous said...

Mambo's was poorly run, it is as simple as that.

The food was good but quality service did not exist. On top of that, the guy always tried to steer you to the food already made on the steam tray rather than what you really wanted.

The passing of Mambo was nothing but the result of market forces combined by a little push by the owner of the building.

Anonymous said...


Allentown is “diverse”, that was one of the reasons we(wife, two kids) decided to move here in the early nineties. That said, “Diversity” isn’t this city’s problem, it not even close. Incompetent leadership is what is killing Allentown. It is the elected officials who have saddled this city with its current troubles; Diversity had nothing to do with it. These same elected officials signed Allentown to a disastrous police contract. It was elected officials who rushed through two bad bond bills that have also undermined our fiscal future. It is the current mayor who fired or chased away real talented city employees and replaced them with clueless hacks and /or outsiders. It is the current mayor dropped the ball on de-conversions of multi-units back to single family homes and still thinks he can inspect the downtown neighborhoods back to health.
Love is not the answer or the solution to this municipality’s problems, good feelings and a positive approach won’t address the nuts and bolts faults that undermine the city’s soundness. Only good leadership can lead the city back from the abyss. In the meantime everyone suffers together.

Scott Armstrong

Glenn said...

RE; Alfonso Todd (12:29 AM)- Here's a 'buzz word' 'catch phrase', pocket speech that no politician should be without:

"Diversity", is not to be confused with "adversity" in-so-much as that would serve to provide political "exclusion" rather then "inclusiveness" in our "urban renewal" efforts as our city "moves forward in the 21st century" through an "urbanization" to a "suburbanized" "societal evolution". So as we seek to accomplish our "objectives" to achieve "diversity", it should not come at the expense of our one "commonality" as a "community". It "takes a village" to become as a "1,000 points of light" shining as "as a beacon of hope" for the "future generations" & throughout our "globalized" "world wide community" as we "invest in our future of tomorrow". By taking this "hands on" approach we can "face the future with greater certainty".

Now who could disagree with that?

Anonymous said...

The focus should remain on the larger question, which is why should the government (in this case the city using state funds) be subsidizing any business.

Direct government funding only helps keep the inefficient establishments in business and punishes those that are run well.

If City Hall wants to help attract business to the city, why not eliminate or reduce the Business Privilege Tax? Doing so would help all businesses equally. Of course, you can't expect political favors in return when you treat everyone equally.

A business plan should be able to stand on its own. If it needs government support (in this case to the tune of $250,000) it should send up a red flag to taxpayers.

I know Pawlowski thinks that state grants don't cost us anything, but I would differ and ask him to look at the current mess of Pennsylvania's budget. Someone's going to pay to balance it, and we see that person every day when we look in the mirror.

I know every government bureaucrat seems to want to play developer. If that's the case, they should do so with their own money - not ours.

Anonymous said...

"the neighborhood pawlowskietes praised the diversity of the place, they never patronized it."

In addition to being psychic, do you also do tarot cards and palm reading? Only kidding.

Just had to point out that it's hard to believe that you could know that everyone in the area who voted for Mayor Ed never ate there. You just can't.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 2:17, by chance many of our local bloggers live in that neighborhood and in the last year's praised both mambo's and pawlowski. ward election results also indicate pawlowski did well there. as one who drove by an empty mambo's every evening, i'm not surprised to see them not renew. i'll speculate that had a successful tenant been willing to release, ruffino would stay in the larger space.

michael molovinsky said...

some of you may know i'm certainly the subject of a posting on the villa blog. i would like to briefly reply to a few untrue implied accusations.
1. i am NOT a member of the troll blog, i stated i understood why it was created because of villa's highjackings (before he forced everybody into comment moderation) but never have endorsed it. although there are over 600 comments on the troll blog, most by villa himself under his own name, only 9 are from me.
2. the comments critical of the angie villa and the chen art group were not made by me, i have always supported the art group
3. the accusation that i have targeted grieving parents, or any legal recourse in-regard to their loss, is both totally untrue and distasteful

Anonymous said...

MM, with all due respect and courtesy, you implicitly endorsed the troll blog by saying you "understood" its reason for existing. Do you also "understand" hatred & bigotry? Also, you published on your moderated blog some real crummy stuff about Chen and vicious personal attacks against Mrs. Villa. By allowing its publication, again, you implicitly endorse this stuff. Now you attempt to deny what Villa has posted. But a careful look at Villa's comments do not reveal any inaccuracies.

Look Out Lehigh Valley said...

Someone asked earlier for a link to this info, which was taken off the agenda for Wednesday's CEDC/City Council Meeting.

Here is the site where the whole agenda can be viewed:

I don't think links work in the comment section, but you can copy and paste that into your browser.

michael molovinsky said...

dear "ANON 7:30", on my "moderated" blog the comments critical of chen and angie were posted by a clearly identifiable person posting under his own name (bernie o'hare). o'hare or anyone is entitled to be critical of an art group or individual, the comments were perhaps offensive to angie, but they were decent and not obscene. on the other hand, on villa's blog, the comments come from dubious identities, such as sasha, and foo foo. you refer to a "careful look" about the comments linked to me. thats why i used the term "implied accusations". for villa to "carefully" imply i said things which he knows i didn't, is just another example of being dishonest. anon "7:30", lets say you have represented mr. villa here, so, good night and good bye, no returns permitted.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to the Allentown booster above to speak of the wonders of closing a larger restaurant and moving into a pizza parlor. Oy vey!

Look Out Lehigh Valley said...

oh okay even my copy and paste didn't work, sorry! you can find the agenda on the city council site at www.allentownpa.gov

As for Ruffinos moving back to their original location, I personally could not be happier. Pizza is their core competency, and for a wide array of reasons they never had full success as a full-menu/full-service restaurant. It is not a wild claim (as some suggest) that the current economic climate is affecting this decision - restaurants all over the lehigh valley are closing or barely hanging on as people stop spending their money going out to dinner. It IS a smart move for Ruffinos to let go of an only halfway successful full-service restaurant and move back in to their former location (they own both locations) in this economy. Probably in a good economy they could have continued to get by with the "grille" but there are few businesses more profitable than pizza parlors, and in a downturned economy you do not want to be operating a business that is "getting by."

Anonymous said...

Yeah that was a smart move to close the big resturant on Allen Street and relocate as a pizza shop in Allentown's theatre district on 19th St.

I think I have it, can I be one of the feel good posters now to?

Scott Armstrong

Greg said...

Dear Scott Armstrong, just once I would like you to admit the complicity of Bill Heydt's 8 years of incompetency as Mayor in causing our problems. I think Dadonna started it. Lets put the blame equally where it belongs, shall we?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"2. the comments critical of the angie villa and the chen art group were not made by me, i have always supported the art group"

Those comments were made by me and I meant every word.

Anonymous said...

For the sake of argument, would any supposed Bill Heydt mayoral mistakes mitigate in any way the gross transgressions of the past two mayors?

That being said what shall we blame Bill Heydt for? Eight years of balanced budgets, no tax increases, and a first class bond rating. Or maybe we could blame him for a well run home ownership program that removed many multi-units from the downtown and returned them to their original intended use as single family homes. Was he to blame for not expecting community organization to operate at his command but instead empowered them to become an independent force for neighborhood improvement in the city?
Bill Heydt was a leader with a strong personality, he told everyone exactly what he thought, good and bad, and he took the same in return. He respected those who disagreed with him and didn’t make city disputes personal. I remember yelling at him one day then talking to him the next on other issues. He didn’t expect people to obey him.
Rather than govern in a fashion that made the city work for a privileged few Bill Heydt did what he felt was in the city’s best interests. This made him some real powerful enemies. They in turn threw their support to Pawlowski in the last election because they understood Ed would deliver.
That is the new Democrat Administration, bet you’re proud of that. By the way, unlike the last two Democrat mayors Bill Heydt never used the city for the promotion of partisan causes and careers.
Democrats have nothing to be proud of here in Allentown, in fact they should be ashamed of what they have done to the city.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I admired Bill Heydt for his willingness to run against Pawlowski.

Whether he deserved it or not, he got kicked around pretty good when he was in office - and he took it, it comes with the office of Mayor. I believe He ran again because he wanted to help Allentown any way he could.

Like him or not, agree with him or not, that's fine - but respect the man for his willingness to step up AGAIN. He's given more back to the city than 99.9% of its citizens.

The Banker

Politically Neutral said...

MM - I wandered over to "Lehigh Valley Nobody" for grins.

Wow - could not believe what I saw and read. That is some real sick sadistic stuff.

I wonder if he is on something or has split with reality.

Personally I would urge caution in dealing with this wacko. Being that obsessed is not right.

michael molovinsky said...

neutral, he is all over the place, there, here, rambling, donovan's and i'm sure many more. he impersonates, distorts, implies things he knows are not true, etc. etc. and even fishes for comments back channel. at the end of the day, he demeans mostly himself.

Anonymous said...

Mike, My wife was in the T.C.Salon about 5 years ago for a cut and brow wax.She says it put her back about$125.00 with tip.She did not tell me the cost at the time(wonder why)Today I told her about about tax-payers paying for the T.C. Salon.My wife being a life-long Democrat was outraged.She says it was very over-priced and haughty.I say the customer can pay what they like but I should not have to have to pay for it

Anonymous said...

Mamabo's had no customers because they didn't advertise. If you don't advertise, you won't have customers.

KathyD said...

Ahhh...Technicolor. That's where I got the WORST haircut of my life (at their Tilghman location) AND the worst manicure of my life (at their Bethlehem location). I'll spare you all the details of these mini-personal-disasters, but the bottom line is, this salon is VERY overpriced, and filled with incompetent stylists.

I just don't understand how competition to existing businesses can be financed by the state, while NOTHING goes to the businesses already existing who have stuck it out, day after day.

Maybe I'm just bitter because I loved the Shanty. But, I don't see Technicolor improving 19th street, and I certainly don't understand why tax dollars are required for this opening.

michael molovinsky said...

kathy, i suspect it was the pawlowski's idea first before the salon owner, and he's (owner) sharp enough to take advantage of the politics. i'm sorry you had a bad hair experience, hope you didn't make your significant other suffer too much because of it. (just projecting personal experiences with women who don't like their haircut)

Squirrel said...

Sometimes I think economic development in Allentown City is like putting an extra thick layering of rich and tasty icing on a cardboard cake.

Looks good, but is there anything of substance beyond the surface?