Apr 19, 2009

Crimes of Pizza


Having a business in Allentown can be exasperating. Unless you're one of the chosen few, blessed with political /photo opportunity and bestowed with grants, you're besieged with zoning and bureaucratic regulation. The touted one stop City Hall expediency process, paid for by the taxpayers with a remodeled City Hall, never materialized, and confusing headaches still prevail. But it can be much worse, witness the hapless pizza shop owner at 15th and Turner Sts. The police have cited him for serving pizza to minors. The citation says, DEFENDANT DID ALLOW JUVENILES THAT WERE SCHOOL AGE, TO STAY ON PREMISE, IN VIOLATION OF DAYTIME CURFEW ORDINANCE.
The daytime curfew, ordinance 729.03 goes back to the Reign of Arrogance.* This dragoon measure states
1. IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL FOR ANY MINOR OF COMPULSORY SCHOOL AGE....REMAIN IN OR UPON ANY PUBLIC PLACE OR ON THE PREMISES OF ANY ESTABLISHMENT...ON ANY DAY IN WHICH SCHOOL IS IN SESSION.....
2.CUSTODIAN'S RESPONSIBILITY:IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL...TO KNOWINGLY PERMIT SUCH MINOR TO BE OR REMAIN.....
3.ACCOMPLICE: IT SHALL BE UNLAWFUL....ACT AS AN ACCOMPLICE..FACILITATING THE COMMISSION OF THE OFFENSE

I've been told by a teacher at Allen High that it would be difficult to impossible for a shop owner to know who belongs in school. Some days there are late starts, early dismissal, and partial dismissal. These variables often apply only to one grade at a time. In essence the shop owner must act as a truant officer to comply with this ordinance. The cited shop is within the West Park Neighborhood, where their civil organization acts as a watchdog for the area. Much like spot zoning, this is definitely a case of spot ordinance enforcement. Would a pizza shop owner further downtown receive the same scrutiny?

*Reign of Arrogance:There was a time in Allentown's past, during the Heydt Administrations, when neighborhood groups had great influence. Special parochial interests prevailed; the neighbors of muhlenberg college got the city to past special restrictive zoning against student renting(unconstitutional,shame on the college for laying down, in essence creating two classes of renters), west park historic district, against the majority of homeowners wishes) etc... yes it was an effective machine which even resulted in the election of two members to city council, Pam Varkony and Tom Burke., everyone was happy, the mayor got support and the neighborhood associations got special considerations., there was only one fly in the ointment, the one and the only EMMA TROPIANO. Preliminary research indicates The Daytime Curfew was introduced by Pam Varkony and passed during the reign.

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

if you feel that zoning ordinance related to student zoning is unconstitutional, challenge it. It's not unconstitutional. It has been upheld in PA dozens of times and the federal courts have refused to touch it.

funny thing about the claim "unconstitutional": you can claim it but the courts have to agree in order for your claim to be accurate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, I notice this fellow has been charged five times between October and December with violations of this daytime curfew. It looks like all cases have been continued a few times and that the pizza dude is fighting the citation.

michael molovinsky said...

take the words "muhlenberg student" and substitute "african american" and what do you have?

muhlenberg laid down, nothing new for them

michael molovinsky said...

there is another twist the pizza operator is not aware of. this law was passed specifically as a accommodation to the west park civic association. at that time the current magistrate served as the association's lawyer on various zoning issues and was strongly supported by them in her run for office.

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Emma had been mayor, I suspect the city would be a much better place. She was a character for sure, and had an enormous amount of common sense, something that has been sorely lacking for years in Allentown. RIP Emma, you are missed.

Anonymous said...

Wow Mike you're way off here. First off next time you are trolling for information for a blog post be up front about it. It would be useful to know.

The West Park Civic association was in no way connected with the passage of the Day Time Juvenile Curfew Law, although if we had been aware of it we would have supported it. It does no child any good to be out of school, on the streets instead of in the classroom. The situation before the curfew was one children meeting up in areas around the school, various criminal activities were then often engaged. Mike, are you in support of returning to this "norm".
Mike, it is clear to those who live and or work in the area who is a student and who isn't. If the pizza shop owner is claiming ignorance he is doing so because he cares more about a buck than the law. I would add that the owners actions of facilitating truancy are counter productive to his long term business interests. Truancy and crime have clear links, these connections cause neighborhood decline. The decline of the neighborhood is bound to have a negative effect on the business.
Allentown is no longer the place you grew up in Mike, the city sadly has too many children who are left to their own devises. The downtown neighborhoods are blighted and centers of criminal activity.Do you want to be party to allowing these unfortunate children the freedom to learn the lessons of these streets instead of the classroom?
In my opinion this isn't a righteous cause, and the pizza shop owner isn't an innocent victim of an overbearing local law.

By the way-your a big dummy

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

To the first commemtor, does that mean that the treatment of slaves or japanese internees was ok at the time just because the current courts at the time upheld them? In the Dread Scott case the law was upheld and then struck down by a later court. The constitution is designed to be fluid. Mr. Molovinsky is 100% correct on this. Why should the homeowners in south allentown have less rights then the homeowners around Muhlenberg?

Concerning the current DJ in that area, you nailed it with her work for the west park association. Her tenure on the bench is less than stellar though. She is late to work or just does not show up. She has at least 3 pending ethical complaints, she is totally irrational and is taking days off at a time this year so as to campaign. This is not fair to us the taxpayers who are not paying for a candidate but are paying for a full time DJ and not getting one. Perhaps you or Bernie could look into her record as the Morning Call seems to not have time? There is a story there.

michael molovinsky said...

scott, i'm speechless, 'trolling for information"? last night you said we will agree to disagree, and now i'm a dummy for writing about it? we can disagree as long as i remain quiet, otherwise i'm a dummy? yes scott, he is a victim of a overbearing law, exactly. how could he possibly know which students have valid reason to out of school and which don't? he is the victim of arrogance

anon 11:44, back in my active landlord days i did notice she was absent from her courtroom quite often. her background with the association should preclude her from hearing the case. scott's denial aside, this was a designer law for that neighborhood.

LVCI said...

Anonymous said...(11:44AM) "Why should the homeowners in south allentown have less rights then the homeowners around Muhlenberg?"

It's not a matter of less nor more rights. It's using the rights you have available to make a better community in your neighborhood.

Through out Pennsylvania and else where, zoning laws serve to create a better quality of life for those who have to live in them. If there are specific areas of concern in South Allentown, then those too need be addressed.

One, by example, was already addressed... the overdevelopment of South Mountain that created runoff problems and other concerns. Allentown took zoning action. Because you been given that did not "lesson my rights" since it wasn't specific to my location.

By creating certain living conditions in one area, does not TAKE AWAY from another.

Is there some specific reason you felt we were favored over another? Is there a problem over there on the Southside that you felt Allentown didn't take?

I can see no way our zoning 'overlay' would have benefited your area. Since the college does not directly affect the Southside. What kind of rights (needs), weren't addressed?

Politically Neutral said...

This is not the Allentown of old. It never will be.

Truancy is a huge issue with the students at both middle schools and the high school this shop serves.

The police did the right thing. Hopefully it cuts down on crime and sends a message of discipline to the unruly masses.

Again I challenge anyone to spend some time in the "West Park" area during the morning pilgrimage to the schools or on the way home in the afternoon.

Then there are the students who casually leave school for a cigarette, to smoke dope, to have sex in an alley and of course then there are those that leave because they feel they have enough education.

One kid told me he did not see a problem with dropping out in the 10th grade. He said he knew enough reading to be able to order from a McDonald's menu. That was fine with him.

People are too tolerant of these insolent little brats who think they have come of age and are entitled to do whatever comes into their minds or stimulates their loins.

Thank you to the police who have to endure this blithering fools on a daily basis.

Many suffer - primarily the citizens who live in the city and want to do the right thing. We are all held hostage by these childish little twits that think they own this town.

The pizza shop - I am sure business is bad with the new shop down the street but the law is the law.

Chris Casey said...

I get to play on this one. My wife and i owned a home on the north side of Tilghman between 24th and Berks from 1995 to 2004.
Pam Varkony came to our door during her campaign, and I remember voting for her.
I also remember the brouhaha over a proposal to turn homes across the street into student rentals. It was shot down, Thanks to Pam and Tom. I agredd with it at the time. It forced Muhlenberg to build more dorms instead of converting the area housing.
That is how I saw it.

Scott, I am not surprised by your derogatory comment towards Mike. It is your M.O. and one everyone has become accustomed to.

I disagree with Mike on many issues, but I have come to respect and understand his motivations. I can't say the same for you, and doubt if I would want to, or of it mattered to you.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

The DJ in this case was a volunteered for the West Park Civic Association, for that she should be commended not impugned. She acted as a pro-bono attorney on a neighborhood zoning case that time has proved us correct on. She also planted gardens and spear headed a tree grant that resulted in street trees being planted on the 13 hundred block of Turner Street. What kind of a job she is doing as magistrate I know not. She removed herself from the board when she won election (I assume)to avoid any conflict.
Mike, if you think a day time curfew for school children is an overbearing law then there is a gulf between us.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

those you live near the college feel the overlay district is justified. those who live near the highschool feel the daytime curfew is justified. however, in reality they are spot zoning and spot laws, which are generally considered less than legal is the larger sense. i mean no offense, but i have always been an advocate for property rights. that pizza parlor was a corner store in the 1920's. it's commercial history predates the west park civic association.
scott, i believe you have confirmed that merlo should recuse herself from deliberating on this matter

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Get a sense of humor. Mike is a good friend and knows it was a joke, "big dummy"?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Mike,

How so?

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, let us agree to disagree about west park's knowledge and input into the daytime curfew. we both agree that in the same time frame merlo was doing legal work for the association, including getting between the church, across from the pizza parlor, and it's buyer. i because there are only a small number of commercial locations in the neighborhood, she should probably recuse herself from all such cases.

LVCI said...

I agree with MM on the Pizza shop owner issue. How is he supposed to know who dropped out of school or not. It is government's responsibility. Already business owners' have become the unpaid agents of government to collect taxes for the state & city, SS, wage attachments, etc. The quality of the business is not at issue here. If he "squeals", his clientele will boycott him at the very least. It's not his job to sort through drop outs, kids skipping school, or just having a last period study hall.

If that's want we want, then we need to provide some kind of tools to verify these kids are doing just that. Parkland had the 'Bean Pot'. We sneaked down to the Ritz throughout the 60's. All schools have a hang out area. Imagine if they nailed the Ritz for every kid that patronized that joint in the 60's? I'm not a mind reader and neither are they!

Are kids a problem.. hell yeah! Can business owners fix that? Probably not.

michael molovinsky said...

politically neutral, as a neighbor of the high school your anger comes through loud and clear. having lived on the corner of west and turner for years, i appreciate your rage. however, i don't think it's fair or reasonable to hold the pizza shop owner at 15th and turner responsible for determining truancy or as a scapegoat for frustration.

DFZ said...

MM

I agree to a point. It is not necessarily rage but what I have come to expect from these "students". The rage is gone.

It is what is here in this neighborhood today. It needs to be identified for what it is. Many who doubt my perspective eventually come over to my side.

Their sense of entitlement and our "failure" to do anything about their growing boldness has led to the current situation.

If in fact the pizza owner had priors, than he is not naive to this issue. He is responsible and I truly believe knows who the perpetrators are.

I do not think the ordinance is there to benefit the West Park area but to protect all citizens of the community. Including those that really do need to be in school.

Maybe we need more niche ordinances to address specific problems in specific neighborhoods. Unless stealing purses, cursing neighbors, not going to school, stabbing one another, shooting one another and generally acting out at will whenever is to become the norm of expected behavior in this town.

Maybe soon we can start a discussion on jaywalking or as they call it at Allen - "hit me if you dare".

michael molovinsky said...

dfz, you wrote;
"If in fact the pizza owner had priors, than he is not naive to this issue. He is responsible and I truly believe knows who the perpetrators are."

the pizza shop owner had prior "harassment" by a vindictive ordinance. he's not a criminal. i'm becoming more convinced this is a flawed law simply based on scapegoating.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

The pizza shop had nothing to do with the church zoning issue. We lost that case and now the former church stands empty as a commercial property with a for sale sign.

Scott Armstrong

Chris Casey said...

Scott, If you were kidding with Mike, I accept that. But please realize that you do have a track record that appears mean spirited toward anyone you see as opposition.

Chris Casey said...

BTW, I have family teaching at raub Middle, and truancy is a huge problem. I can see both sides of the issue. If the Pizza owner started banning kids, the ACLU would be all over him.

It's a damned if you do, damned if you dont, situation.

LVCI said...

Why anyone would own any business in Allentown is beyond me. Latest example is the bar @ 10th & Linden Pawlowski said 'I can tell you it emanated from the bar, which is a real problem,...Something we're working on shutting down.''So here we go again... he wants to declare it yet a another nuisance bar/business and have it shut down. Well after he shuts down all the bars perhaps they'll all be up at the ABW drinking. Then what?

Close down the bars, night clubs, eateries, etc. and then what ? The problem in A-Town isn't tax paying businesses that are attracting trouble makers. I don't care if you manage to harass every business in Allentown into leaving. It ain't going fix one damn thing!

michael molovinsky said...

lvci, years ago there was a very nice bar and grill on 7th st., with a middle class following, which suffered the very fate you refer to, after they closed a couple of "nuisance bars", the nuisance people started frequenting the nice place, chasing out their longtime clientele. allentown concentrates on the mop instead of the dirt, that's why they never succeed in cleaning it up.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

“Mean spirited”. I am “mean spirited”? Give me a break. No don’t bother, just continue to be what you are, the accuser, the one who makes the claim I am the serial insulter.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Chris,

In fact the former owner of the same shop had a sign in the window of the door that indicated truancy would be reported to the police.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Just a thought.

Where is the school administration's responsibility in all this?

Oh, I think I've heard "we don't have a problem."

Chris Casey said...

Scott, I was going to let the "accuser" thing slide, but coming from a guy who rants rabidly and without coherent thought daily about the administration, I take it for what it is.

Just another throw away comment from a disgruntled wannabe.

Been there, done that.

Anonymous said...

It should be the district's responsibility to post someone in the shop, identify truant students, and punish the students appropriately.

michael molovinsky said...

at this point i would request chris and scott to limit comments to the topic, thank you

anon 9:59, this shop only has a couple of tables and is certainly no factor in truancy at allen high. sending an officer (even responding to a neighborhood complaint) is a misappropriation of our limited police resources.

Anonymous said...

After reading the posts on this very noteworthy issue, I agree that the pizza shop owner should be penalized for harboring truants. In fact, I would suspect that this particular business owner, has a niche of selling to students which is fine as long as he abides by the rules.

I applaud the City for targeting businesses that harbor truants. I think the moderator is doing a great job of initiating discussion of an interesting and relative issue.

I wish some posters such as Mr. Casey would try to be more civil and discuss these key issues without the personal attacks. That drives away some readers and diverts attention away from the issue at hand.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Someone asked "what is the school administration's responsibility in all of this?"

First of all, if kids "skip out," it's likely very easy to do. There might be 20-30 exit doors at that place. No amount of school administration can prevent such things from happening.

More importantly, today's Allentown students fear NOTHING. They will do whatever they want. They cannot be threatened with bad grades, after school detention, etc. They have NO shame, and no one at home to hold them accountable for breaking rules. It's pretty much a "free for all," an educational environment in which we "hope" no one gets physically hurt.

I would NOT hold the shop owner responsible for monitoring what kind of patrons walk in. He/she has no idea what the current status of young persons is.

Kids seen during the day, could have been excused for appointments, court appearances, etc. They could be between enrollments from one school to another. They could be home on suspension from school, and suspension from school does not mean "hide in your bedroom."

Not knowing all the particulars, I would have to say, this shop owner was handled in a heavy-handed way, by a city that SHOULD have higher priorities for its enforcement efforts.

Anonymous said...

"in reality they are spot zoning and spot laws"

You need to learn the threshold to determine spot zoning under PA Caselaw. this rises to nowhere near that level. Here is a link:
http://www.landuselawinpa.com/court/baker.html. The key terms are arbitrary and unjustifiably discriminatory. We can haggle over unjustifiably discriminatory, but the overlay district is in no way arbitrary. A determination of spot zoning would require BOTH terms to be satisfied. Further definition states, "zoning provisions adopted to control the use of a specified area of land without regard to the relationship of those land use controls to the overall plan and the general welfare of the community."

considering that the neighborhood surrounding the college is predominently large single family homes, I'm not sure how an overlay that states within its objectives the preservation of single family homes fits into the legal definition of spot zoning.

You may not like the public policy at play here, but it is entirely legal and fits into the city's power to protect the general welfare. You have no legal basis to make this argument. That's probably why it hasn't been successfuly challenged in the courts.

And for the individual who wants to substitute africa americans or try to link this to dred scott, you ignore who the parties are in these cases. First, The College Students, are not the party of a land use case (only the property owner can be). Second, due process, as defined PA law was followed. third, the pa constitution protects the rights of individuals and prevents the establishment of classes of people by certain criteria (race being one of them... it entirely permits economic class--say renters vs homeowners--establishment by the way). Finally, the establishment of land use policies in this instance, did not target any of the classes against which the state constitution explicitely or implicitely projects.

So, make your arguments in the realm of public policy, law. If you do, you immediately box yourself into an absolutely impossible hurdle for victory.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 1:00, i'm not motivated to research and verify your statements, but assuming you're as knowledgeable as you connote, i would think perhaps the boundaries of the district are arbitrary. funny thing about allentown, we wish to be urban enough to justify using every ordinance we can find used anywhere and everywhere, but we don't want to accept college students mixed in certain neighborhoods, funky bars or even pizza sales to minors during school hours. muhlenberg college wants to charge their students 45k a year, but not defend their rights in court? the same homeowners who support and justify the overlay district, would have been outraged if their housing options were restricted when and where they attended college. the irony of all this legislation in allentown is that the homeowners are, for the most part, still upset with one thing or another. they keep thinking nirvana is one more ordinance away.

LVCI said...

These are my final words on this issue---

MM.. As far as housing restrictions on campus. In most cases freshmen are required to live on campus the 1st year. Rowdy campus fraternities were shuttered by the college itself. Muhlenberg is far from being alone. College across the nations have similar requirements. Much of this is done as a matter of student safety. Let's not forget 1 year ago these were kids in H.S., many which never lived away from parental supervision. It also becomes a liability issue for the colleges as well and they discourage off campus life as well... Not just a bunch of whining homeowners.

Part of the process of college placement is predicated on what parents consider a safe learning environment. No parent wants to get a call about their kid being poisoned by alcohol while away at school or busted for bad behavior. So many parents force their kids to remain on campus for the 4 years. Under the protection of campus security when they are not able to over see for their offspring's well being.

Why should we encourage a bunch of investors screw over these kids and homeowners with their somewhat less the stellar rentals? Which BTW average about $1,700+ a month for rent.

How does this make Allentown a better place to live? Apparently from what I'm gathering, if you had become mayor you'd let anybody buy anything anywhere offering no protection to the permanent residents who live here and pay taxes. Favoring the short term & out of city business interests over those whom would have elected you to represent them?

Have you a horse in this race?

Here's my challenge. Rent one of the homes at 23rd & Gordon. Go live there for a year. Then let me know how that works for you!

Anonymous said...

"i would think perhaps the boundaries of the district are arbitrary"

There is a legal definition for arbitrary in this matter as well. The courts effectively say that if it is done through an open process and that the lines of been drawn in such a way as to fit a policy rationale (with some expert input to the situation), then the legal hurdle has been met.

My point in all of this isn't to argue the policies involved but to point out that you don't have an argument on the legality of this situation. The creation of an ordinance is an inherently political process. If you aren't motivated enough to do the research to verify/refute my claims, then perhaps you'll just have to accept the legality of the situation and recognize the remedy is through the political (elected and representative system), not the legal system (the courts).

michael molovinsky said...

lvci, interesting that you ask if i have a horse in the race. if you research this blog, you will find people asking if i own hamilton street property because i advocated for the merchants against lanta. you will find people asking if i own 7th st. property because i advocated against selling the parking lots. no, i don't advocate because of horses in the race, btw, no, i don't have any such properties. but you do, you implied that you live in that district and that's my point. fyi, if i was elected i would support all existing legislation, including the rental inspection, the historic districts and the overlay district.( i'd be very careful about the daytime curfew and people's rights) let me conclude by saying if you ever suspect or know of a candidate who owns property all over allentown, i suggest voting for him, he's probably pretty smart and wealthy enough not to be self-serving.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 3:07, actually i may be more familiar with zoning and curative amendments than you think. as a side snark, which one of the city planners(they both have been there for 30+ years) do you consider the expert? i recall muhlenberg stopping their legal challenge at the local level. i would think, contrary to your assertion, that anybody, either a student or property owner, could take the city to court; success is a different issue
anybody is entitled to seek a variance of any zoning regulation, then appeal a rejection in court

Anonymous said...

most courts will look at somebody's job description and see that they have a certification (AICP) to determine that they carry all the credentials of the profession. You may not agree with them (lord knows that I see short comings and that they drive me nuts too), but if somebody has the certification of the profession, the courts aren't going to overturn it. perhaps we should start questioning whether or not a CPA is really qualified to give expert advice.

On all the legal fronts (yes, anybody can file for relief) this matter has no traction. Muhlenberg, if it stopped at the local level, got great legal advice. this was a battle they weren't going to win.

you make a claim of arrogance on part of city officials at the time the ordinance was enacted: it might be time to look in the mirror on this matter.

Trent Sear said...

"Retired ASD teacher here.

Someone asked "what is the school administration's responsibility in all of this?"

First of all, if kids "skip out," it's likely very easy to do. There might be 20-30 exit doors at that place. No amount of school administration can prevent such things from happening.

More importantly, today's Allentown students fear NOTHING. They will do whatever they want. They cannot be threatened with bad grades, after school detention, etc. They have NO shame, and no one at home to hold them accountable for breaking rules. It's pretty much a "free for all," an educational environment in which we "hope" no one gets physically hurt."

Retired ASD Teacher: I was sorry to see a former ASD teacher making across the board insults of "todays Allentown students". I would expect that from some, but coming from a supposedly intelligent person within the education community was disappointing. For those of us who can afford to leave but have made the difficult decision to stay in Allentown and send our kids to a diverse public school system, a comment like yours is an undeserved slight that works to fuel stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

Chris,

Insult is the vehicle of choice for those with no substantive argument. Your post is that and nothing more; it is sadly typical of what passes for dialogue on otherwise important issues in the city.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

trent, i wouldn't fault the retired teacher for frankness, if you need encouragement to send your child to a certain school, maybe you should look elsewhere.
let me impose on you, as a zoning professional who lives in the overlay district, do you agree with anon 9:01 about the futility of zoning challenges, or maybe that position is a hope and prayer that nobody ever does?

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Trent,

I am sorry you consider what I offered to be a smear against all Allentown students. It's not. The opinion I expressed attempted to describe only those students who choose to break the rules.

My greatest admiration is for posters who express their views after having "been there, done that." I appreciate the credibility of their observations.

I worked in Allentown for more than 30 years. I was assaulted about a dozen times. I saw evidence of hundreds of weapon confiscations. I had a trusting rapport with many troubled kids. They shared their stories, their beliefs. Many are now incarcerated, others now murdered. Surely NOT the public education experience I had as a youth.

I stand by what I wrote in hope it will help us all to better understand the problems we now deal with.

michael molovinsky said...

i have an issue with both trent and scott, and being the diplomat i am, here it goes;

in 2000 both trent and scott used any means necessary to pass the west park historic district, including misrepresenting neighborhood support. contained within the archives of this blog is the documentation to prove my claim. this misrepresentation was abetted by the heydt administration, city council and the morning call, who all felt it was a worthwhile goal and the ends justified the means. scott occasionally asks why i keep waking this sleeping dog, it's because the same mentality keeps reoccurring. the daytime curfew and the citations against the pizza shop are just another example of some people feeling their property rights are superior to others. although the historic district is a deed restriction forever, trent moved to the muhlenberg overlay district shortly after pushing for the historic district while he lived in west park. now he writes:
"For those of us who can afford to leave but have made the difficult decision to stay in Allentown and send our kids to a diverse public school system,"
again he wants a trophy for living and staying in allentown. these ordinances which assign a pecking order to property ownership in allentown are popular. it's easy to justify thinking the private homeowner should have more rights than a "landlord", it's easy to justify thinking homeowners should have more rights than college students, it becomes more difficult justifying citing the pizza shop owner, but lets not upset the applecart which serves us and undermine our rationalizations.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

First let me say Mike that I respect you. I think that your opinions and insight offer Allentown and it's residents a lot of good. But, I must say, don't impugn neighborhood groups, as if we're the source of all that's evil. We're not. We're fighting our butts off trying to "clean up" our city.
I know that we disagree on some things and we agree on some things - but I wish, if only for my own selfish needs - that you would admit that neighborhood groups do a lot of good work and consist of a lot of good people.
I will disagree with you on the Muhlenberg Overlay district, Historic Districts and Rental Inspections. Please remember that Rental Inspections was not passed by any government entity but by voters in the city of Allentown. Overwhelmingly. I say this not so much for you, because I realize you know the history, but many forget or weren't even here when it passed. City Council failed to support this legislation. They failed to give the residents what they wanted; thus, the voters did what was NEVER done in the city of Allentown. They ran a referendum, got the question on the ballot and voted favorably for it 84-16%. HUGE. I am proud to have been a small part of that. I wasn;t a part of neighborhood groups then but I started soon after that.
I would never discredit your work or your concern for the city. I also need you to see the value of mine of which I receive no pay or personal kick-back. I only do it because I want to make a difference for myself, my family, and my friends. I want what I believe you want as well an Allentown we can all be proud to live in. Thanks, Kim Beitler

Trent Sear said...

Mike: I totally understand why a guy like you needs to lash out at guys like Scott and I. I now regret posting on your blog and causing you to fly off the handle that way. I don’t want a trophy, I was simply expressing my disappointment that even certain representatives of the faculty of ASD fall into the habit of stereotyping the student body in Allentown’s public schools. My family has experienced several very positive situations in the past two years at Trexler Middle School, and I guess it stung a little bit to see even a former teacher condemning the behavior of the entire student body for the actions of some. As for my involvement in West Park, I was simply a member of that community advocating the position I believed was in the best interests of the neighborhood. Shame on me.

michael molovinsky said...

kim, thanks for the comment and the opportunity to clarify my feelings. I absolutely appreciate the neighborhood groups and applaud all the good work, the real work, they do. that includes west park civic and scott armstrong. i do not see a contradiction with saying some things were done with shortcuts, i don't see criticism of specific things condemning the whole. the rental inspection passing a referendum was a no brainer, landlord bashing has been human nature for 1000 years. would you believe when you passed it 10 years later you would still be upset with landlords, and be instituting the landlord hall of shame. (maybe tar and feathers) the truth is pride of ownership cannot be legislated, but what would i know about landlording? kim, actually city council did reverse itself and pass the rental inspection law, but your groups went forward with the referendum anyway. but back to the beginning, allentown is a much better place because of the neighborhood groups, and especially your efforts.

michael molovinsky said...

trent, you write;

'Mike: I totally understand why a guy like you needs to lash out at guys like Scott and I"

trent, what exactly is a guy like me? someone who speaks his mind and doesn't comment anonymously, who doesn't fabricate statistics or write ghost letters and doesn't make vague insinuations like you just did?

Anonymous said...

Thank You, Michael. Yes, you are correct. City Council didn't pass the legislation and then, I believe it was Ernie Toth that came out to reverse his NAY to a YEAH giveing the legis passage. By that time we began working in putting the referendum process in place, now, not choosing to give what we considered a water down version, but a version that allowed for systematic inspections.

Unfortunately, I always knew that this wouldn't be a panacea to all that ails us in the City of Allentown. Personally, I think the legislation has suffered some problems administratively and some not wanting to cause bad feelings. So, without going into specifics, I think there were times it could have done better through no fault of those doing the work.
As far as Landlord Hall of Shame - I think it's Ed's way of extracting his pound of flesh. Just my opinion. I don't think that should be the city's job. There are many other things that the city should be focusing on. Again, just my opinion.
Kim Beitler

Anonymous said...

Mike,

This is my last post on your blog.

The West Park Civic Association held public meetings for at least a year before the Historic designation was put before council, we even held a special meeting for landlords. You as memory recalls attended none of the meetings. If there had been real opposition to such a designation expressed at any of these meetings we would not have move forward.
Only when it came before council did you start your campaign of lies and fear. It was disgusting. It was my first taste of the ugly side of community volunteerism.

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott, i'm amazed how easily you feel your agenda's transcend truth. i must be quite an organizer if i managed to influence the neighborhood after the civic association spent a year on the project. also sorry i spilled the beans on harassing the pizza guy.

Politically Neutral said...

I am really trying to see the connection between truancy, the pizza shop citation issue and the historical designation. I just don't

Truancy is a huge issue at the school. The ripple effect is profound throughout the community and throughout the lives of the offending students.

Truancy, in many cases, is the first step in what can be a lifelong process of offense, incarceration, re-entry, re-offense and re incarceration all in Allentown. All over and over again.

If you are at Allen and are very smart or an athlete you can get along well. But that is not the majority of students. Most are in the mainstream of the school.

These are the students who really suffer when they are in class, want to learn and all they hear from their fellow students is F*** Y** b***** and "I'm not doing that"

Maybe these decent students are constantly threatened or bullied throughout their whole high school career.

Now that is a great education isn't it? Administrators, teachers, parents and other non related community members fail to see how we get sucked into supporting this dysfunction.

Many of use seem to get lost in our own perspective and fail to see the broader perspective to be inclusive of others. Many refer to this as agreeing to disagree.

But is that simply an easy out? You say what you say and I say what I say and no one questions their own opinions.

Do we really try to see how our perspective relates to that of others and where they both are in the context of the priorities of the total community?

I stretch to see the perspective of the property owner, the landlord, the historic preservationist,the business shop owner, school administration, the police and the students.

I keeping coming back to what is important for the students, not the errant students, but those who want to get an education, complete high school and become a part of the community.

michael molovinsky said...

political, i agree that there is no connection, but we may be on different trends of thought. yesterday you defended the citation against the pizza owner, which only accommodates the frustration of the neighbors who live near the school. truancy is also a big problem for the kid's future, but nobody is skipping school because of the pizza parlor.

Politically Neutral said...

I still defend that.

Did the pizza shop owner show some evidence of effort not to serve these students?

Perhaps this is just a cost of doing business in this area of town.

Anonymous said...

any time a community volunteer feels their work isn't appreciated and is instead under attack is a truly sad day. Scott and Trent aren't the first volunteers to get raked across the coals. I've been called arrogant and elitist on this blog. it's why I don't engage in the commentary often.

Not sure if Scott and Trent will read this, but guys, please don't give up the good fight. We are often the only things that stand in front of the collapse of a neighborhood. After reading the many of the comments, I think my decision to keep city politics and volunteerism seperate is a wise decision. There are points were we do advocacy work, but it's best to the leave the political commentary to the people who don't step into the trenches and fight for a neighborhood.

As always, never hesitate to contact me if you need assistance (gsbrace@hotmail.com)

Geoff

michael molovinsky said...

geoff, thanks for commenting. you may have noticed that within this comment thread i thank scott for his work for west park, which i often do. but, on the other hand, he describes my work as lies and fear, this wasn't necessary, and not true. it is ironic that so many ordinances compromising property rights have been advocated by otherwise conservatives. but, when it comes to their own block, they seem to know what's best for everybody. geoff, i must also remind you that my activity is not limited to criticizing people on the blog. those people opposed to the historic district appreciated my efforts, as did those opposed to meter increases, the west park historic district expansion, lanta bus changes, pre-sale home inspections, and several other issues over the years. so, just because i'm on the other side of an issue, doesn't mean i'm not in the "trenches" or fighting "for a neighborhood".
so far both you and scott imply this is not a blog which should expect comments from you in the future. those who are offended by my use of the word "arrogant" should consider other property owners are equally entitled to their point of view on all those issues.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Reading thru the comments here, I thought I was reading my own blog.

People are tossing around terms like arrogance and liar with reckless abandon, except they're not throwing thewm at me. People are accused of having vested interests. Scott & Geoff both speak with disdain about MM and MM actually posts a new blog that continues to deride Pam Varkony, Scott & Tom Burke.

MM raises two interesting topics: (1) citation of a pizza shop owner foir violating a daytime curfew, which is timely; and (2) West End zoning changes, which is ancient history but relevant to what happened to the pizza dude.

You are all passionate and all care, but I don't think any of you are furthering your cause by yelling at each other.

I wish you could all be more civil like me.

I will say this. MM is a person of great integrity who would not lie under any circumstances. Retired ASD Teacher was merely stating his empirical observations, Trent, and was not trashing the entire student body. I know he loves those kids. LVCI, MM has no financial interest in this area. Scott Armstrong has been complimented many times by MM for his volunteerism and he deserves that praise. Geoff, MM does look at you with a little more skepticism and should because you come from the world of politics and are headed in that direction. But I know you are no elitist and are actually one of the least arrogant people I've ever met.

If you all don't knock this off, I'm going to drug you all and you'll wake up in a Northampton County Council meeting or at Bucky Boyle Park in the middle of a go cart rally.

michael molovinsky said...

your holiness pope bernard VIII, your mission of inter-blog peace keeping is well known. btw, burke is not mentioned in my new post, but i will do so if you insist. the point of view presented here cannot be found on the other local blogs. interesting how news travels so fast, this thread contains comments from both those who are never, and those who are seldom heard here. the point of view which i refer to is not inclined to attend meetings or blog, but they consider their home their castle and appreciate their property rights being defended.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's Bernard III, damn it. Have fun waking up in Bucky Boyle Park tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Where is the common sense here? If a kid is hanging out in your business anytime between Sept. & May, Mon.-Fri., unless it's a holiday, most likely, the kid should be in school. If it were me, even without the ordinance, I would have told the kid to get to school, and if he argued, I would have said, I don't care were you go, just get out of here! However, if you are one of those people who has trouble saying "NO" to children, you could always pick up the phone and make a call to the school or district and find out if school is in session! DUH!

michael molovinsky said...

anon 8:41, your premise is wrong. as stated in the text of this post, there are many kids who are legally out of school on any given day, at any given hour.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Maybe you aren't aware of the truancy problems in the ASD!

The kids should be home or at a doctor's appointment, or in school, not hanging out in a pizza shop!

There are many things the pizza shop owner could do to keep himself out of trouble.

I for one don't feel sorry for him. He should just pay his fine and adjust his store policy. The city policy should NOT change.

michael molovinsky said...

there are many kids every day who have early dismissal for one reason or another. do you think this pizza guy is responsible for the truancy problems at allen? do you think only one merchant in allentown should receive citations for this social issue? do you know any way in which he could be sure who is who without denying service to everyone? i have explained repeatedly that most kids are out of school legitimately for one reason or another, i will not post this pov again.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Stop this nonsense!

We simply CANNOT hold individual shopkeepers responsible for the validity of their "youthful-looking" patrons.

First of all, if they are Allen High School students, it's not that easy. MANY of today's high school students appear to be 30-35 years old, due to physical size, beards, mature behavior, yet they are 16-18.

Secondly, as Michael pointed out, there are MANY legitimate reasons why current "students" might be out and about during regular school hours.

Many of today's kids QUIT at age 16.

ASD has in-service days (no kids in certain buildings)that include some schools and not others.

ASD has a massive problem of transciency. Scores of new kids enroll/disenroll EVERY day.

ASD has MANY kids with discipline problems that involve out-of-school suspensions of one kind or another. Such suspensions DO NOT include any requirement for such students to stay home and hide in their bedrooms.

To hold any local business person responsible for determining "who is who" within their establishment is ABSURD. If there is such a requirement, it needs to be removed NOW!

michael molovinsky said...

retired asd, we both have explained this reality several times. these repetitive comments come either from apologists for this absurd ordinance, or from frustrated residents of the neighborhood looking for a scapegoat.. i don't see an ordinance being officially overturned by council, but the police should not enforce it, even if pestered by a persistent neighbor