Jun 28, 2011

Arena Shell Game

Back on May 22, this blog ran a guest post by School Board member David Zimmerman, titled Our School Tax for Hockey Arena. Today, the Morning Call catches up with an article explaining how the arena will be financed. Anybody who fully understands the article, please phone me, I need help with my tax return. Although the article states which entity may get some money back, it doesn't address the 64 thousand dollar question. (reference to television show from the 1960's, when that was a lot of money) You do not make payments on a $100million dollar loan, and get anything back from a minor league hockey team. The Arena Authority will need to use every possible legal steal allowed, including holding you upside down and shaking the coins from your pocket. In short, this will indeed cost the school system, at least indirectly. The Pawlowski Palace of Sport doesn't come cheap.


gary ledebur said...

Ben Bradley of the Washington Post told Woodward and Bernstein to "follow the money." There are a lot of people making gobs of money on this project.

First the owner of the hockey team gets corporate welfare. Then the consultants crafting this complex arrangement make money. Then the bond attorneys get a big percentage of the cost and then the construction companies make millions.

Who will administer the authority?

Anonymous said...

Please, no more authorities.

Anonymous said...

Michael, Did any property owners make $$$ on this arena as of yet

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:07, to my knowledge, there has been no settlements yet. people who have hand to mouth businesses, or vacant buildings, will be happy with the offers. others, such as ny fashion, with viable business, will get short changed in terms of the value of their business.

Mike Schware said...

MM -

I read today's article and the two terms that come to my mind are "confusion" and "deception".

From the quotes in the article from our elected officials, it is apparent that most do not know the details that one would expect them to know about a project of this size and scope.

It is also apparent that there are those who do know the answers to the questions being asked but who are deliberately hiding information.

It is also obvious that our Mayor and City Council are in collusion with those who will directly profit from the arena deal to keep information hidden from the public. That is the only reason that explains the lack of public meetings on such a major proposal.

There are a multitude of unasked and unanswered questions regarding the arena project, and today's article on the financing just scratches the surface of only that aspect of the plan. Local government is set up to hold public meetings over an adequate period of time so that these questions can be brought forward and answered.

The last time I remember anything in the city being done with such secrecy and without public input was when the police (and fire) pension deals were being negotiated. That didn't turn out to well for the taxpayers.

Mike Schware said...

MM -

I forgot to add this to my previous post:

Many thanks to Allentown School Board Member Dave Zimmermann, who seems to be one of the few elected officials willing to question the proposal and willing to share what he finds with the public (imagine that).

It's too bad that there isn't anybody who believes in open government like Dave on Allentown City Council.

Anonymous said...

anon 9:07 & MM 9:18

Patrice Sidoione of All That settled for $567,000.

Anonymous said...

This is disheartening. The following is an email I sent to Dr. Zahorchak on 5/21/11:

From: david.zimmerman
To: gerald. zahorchakg
Subject: Hockey Arena
Date: Sat, 21 May 2011 09:29:50 -0400


Prior to the passing of the hockey arena project were you consulted by the mayor about this project and was full disclosure provided relative to the impact on ASD? 

If so, did he reveal to you how the hockey rink was going to be financed i.e. the 130 acre NIZ (Neighborhood Improvement Zone). (http://www.wfmz.com/lehighvalleynews/27070366/detail.html). 

Will this result in a loss of school taxes to ASD? If so, how much? Has this been accounted for in the budget? 

Look forward to your response.

David Z.

Dr. Zahorchak responded, the next day, stating he would look into it. I spoke to him about a week or ten days later and reminded him again. He said told me, the next day, he was meeting with Pawlowski and would let me know. I never heard anything. Another email on June 20, 2011 to which there was no response was sent inquiring as to the status of my original request.

I had a conversation with the CFO of ASD on 6/22/11 about the project, but nothing about the proposal and whether this is a win or loose for ASD. In a meeting last week I asked for data in writing. Nothing as of yet. The only real legitimate conversation I have had relative to financing has been with three reporters at the Morning Call, Mike Schware and Michael Molovinsky. Those communications were all relative to this article.

Given the response I have gotten from the school district and what has been put out by the city I am not sure I would trust anything coming out of City Hall or the ASD about this project or any other project at this point.

As a director on the school board I find it increasingly frustrating to ask for information and essentially be ignored. Rather deplorable but it is becoming rather common of late.

It amazes me how million dollar decisions, in Allentown, seem to be made with little or no real analysis of the data or any projection of what the upside or downside of the project could be. The theory of best practices I guess. But whose?

It seems our public officials simply react to whoever comes along waving the best promise of economic redemption to restore glory to Allentown with one fell swoop of pen to contract. All based on that "wizards" say so. There is no due diligence as far as I can see.

I am trying to do what is the right thing for those that voted me into office. This seems offensive to some but it is what it is. I think the superintendent forgets he is appointed and I am elected.

I concur with all points made by Mike Schware about this project in his post. Thank you.

David Fehr Zimmerman

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Mr. Zimmerman, never forget, Zahorchak was hired by the ASD Board and can be fired by the ASD Board. It just takes some "stones."
Unfortunately, this ASD Board, as a whole, is a VERY weak group.

Good luck on the coming school year. You'll need it.

michael molovinsky said...

the notion that property values will increase, and subsequently tax revenues, from those properties surrounding the arena, and somehow be able to compensate for all that lost property tax revenue, seems very far fetched. again, all that revenue needed to pay off a $100 million dollar project, will be diverted from other much needed uses. if the arena does not perform as hyped, it will be a sorry drain on the city and school system.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 1:34, i checked with sidoinne, you are in error, in both the offer and that there has been no settlement with her, or anybody else. settlement refers to a property changing hands, between the previous owner and the city.

Anonymous said...

How do the current members of the school board( except Zimmerman and I suspect Smith) square this arena deal with the better interests of the school district that they are charged by the voters to protect? Clearly they don’t, it is a continuation of the see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach that has turned one of the state’s best school districts into one of the worst.

Scott Armstrong