Oct 27, 2011

Allentown Picks Winner, Then Announces Contest Rules


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

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the ACLU could intervene on behalf of the merchants.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 6:58, as i have mentioned several time, i believe any battle for the merchants is over. most have already settled with the city, and the remaining ones must vacate their premises by Oct. 31, 2011.

binzley said...

I am feeling a little validated. Many times I have posted that the political game is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful. Usually I am indicted for the crime of "class warfare."

michael molovinsky said...

gary, i don't see that way. i see autocratic leadership, resulting from arrogance, not profit.

binzley said...

Reilly is not making boatloads of money? He does not have more access to political decision-making? His voice is no more influential than yours?

come on---if you gave lots of money and promised future favors you would have a lot of political leaders taking your calls and acting in your favor.

Anonymous said...

This is America. Please do not blame the rich for acting in their own interest. The reason they are rich is that they are smarter and know how to play the game. We will all benefit from the hockey arena.

Anonymous said...

Gary,

What you are seeing in Allentown is the corruption that results from of a one party no checks and balances local government. Everyone is on the same team. Those who cooperate with the controlling machine get rewarded with advantages only the administration can provide. We see this routinely in Allentown. It is unfortunate that the paper reveals so little of it.
This sort of control is difficult to replicate on the national level (although who can argue that Team Obama didn’t try when they gained big advantages in the 08 election) because the electorate is so vast there will always be some opposition and oversight. Mike is too often the only oversight of Allentown’s city government. That is a stunning indictment of the local media.

Scott Armstrong

Patrick McHenry said...

MM -

Instead of chastising the city for this approach, they should be commended.

Why think about how quickly meetings will go now that they're making the outcome desired a foregone conclusion (evident even to the public) and THEN hold meetings for the our input.

Why I'm even hearing rumors that City Council might take this approach to the upcoming budget process. The budget could be approved on the date it is presented, and then meetings will be held satisfy legal requirements. Actually, this approach would just streamline a bit what has been going on for years.

Besides, we all know the real meetings don't include the public - they're held in the back rooms of City Hall or local diners.

I can't really remember the last time a City Council meeting was anything more than just political theater. Members of the public are just inconsequential bit players.

Shame on them for what they've done, but shame on us for electing the same people again and again.

Anonymous said...

October 27, 2011 9:05 AM
Was that sarcasm?
I certainly hope so.

Anonymous said...

If nothing changes nothing changes. There are a little over 10,000 votes in the mayoral election.

Pretty sad when this type of business continues and so few are outraged. But then when you want to affiliate with the mass for the freebies, why not?

So there goes Allentown.

I guess if Greece can be forgiven 50% of their debt internationally, what is a couple of million between friends in Allentown?

Monkey Momma said...

"i see autocratic leadership, resulting from arrogance, not profit."

Since Pawlowski was spotted in Philly accepting campaign donations from the very same folks who hope to build this arena, I do think PROFIT is the motive here.

steelbreast said...

only 10000 votes in the last election-----I guess people are pretty contended with the status quo.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Mike I see you are firing up the conspiracy theory machine again.

Did the displaced merchants ask the city if they NIZ could be applied to them if they purchased other properties? I bet Reilly's group did. It is not the responsibility of the city to do the due diligence on the behalf of the people whose properties that were being bought out. And let’s be quite honest, the intention of this project and the redevelopment of downtown is to remove the stores that bring lower incomes to downtown. Discount sneakers, $1 stores, urban clothes, cheap jewelers, cell phone repair, and barber shops are not answer, they are the past and on 10/31 they will be gone! One concert and/or one sold out hockey game will bring more people and revenue to downtown then has been seen in a decade. It is time to move forward, it is time to redevelop, it is time to change direction and that is what is happening. These merchants have had decades to succeed downtown and grow it into something prosperous, they failed. Now it is time that we take back our downtown and make it in what we want it to look like. If people don’t want it that way, then more than 12% of the population will come out to vote to change it. Unless they don’t, the people who do vote and are the majority of the vote will have things done the way they want them to be done. That is how our system works, if you don’t like it you have two options, vote to change it or move.

Gentrification is not a bad word!

“The average income increases and average family size decreases in the community. It is commonly believed that this results in the poorer native residents of the neighborhood, being unable to pay increased rents, house prices, and property taxes, being displaced. Often old industrial buildings are converted to residences and shops. In addition, new businesses, catering to a more affluent base of consumers, move in, further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to the poor.

Urban gentrification occasionally changes the culturally heterogeneous character of a community to a more economically homogeneous community that some describe as having a suburban character. This process is sometimes made feasible by government-sponsored private real estate investment repairing the local infrastructure, via deferred taxes, mortgages for poor and for first-time house buyers, and financial incentives for the owners of decayed rental housing. Once in place, these economic development actions tend to reduce local property crime, increase property values and prices, and increase tax revenues.

Political action, to either promote or oppose the gentrification, is often the community's response against unintended economic eviction caused by rising rents that make continued residence in their dwellings unfeasible. The rise in property values causes property taxes based on property values to increase; resident owners unable to pay the taxes are forced to sell their dwellings and move to a cheaper community.”

Bill said...

While I think that the rich will invariable pursue their own interests, I do not see them as necessarily smarter or better motivated than everybody else. What binzley has said is true. For that matter, so are the other perspectives. It is not an either or situation. We do desperately need more balanced representation here in Allentown. I am a moderate that will probably look to vote on the R side of the ballot in the next election, even though some here may see that as futile as well.

Bill said...

What we see in Allentown futuredowntownattendee is rising taxes and falling and decreasing property values seems more accurate in our community.

I agree that there is a role for government to be part of large scale projects of this sort, although arenas have horrible ROI's and would not be on my short list, they are expensive feel good projects from the studies I have seem.

One of the things that I find disgusting about this project is that it was done behind closed doors without public input, which is the opposite of what our system of government calls for.

michael molovinsky said...

future, thanks for your bluntness, i appreciate that. what few people understood is the amount of business done by those "urban" stores. I assure you it was ten times the amount you imagine, how much is now a moot point. my fear is that one to three square blocks of former tax base will turn into a massive, under used white elephant, creating a virtual no-man's land. I hope to be proved wrong. as for my continued writing on this subject; where else will the historical record show the controversy about what really happen when downtown was torn down in 2012?

Anonymous said...

MM, I am glad that you are chronicling this historical event in Allentown, because whether pro- or anti- arena, there will be a definite change in the city's landscape but NOT the city's make-up/population. As far as FUTURE DOWNTOWN ARENA ATTENDEE and his/her propaganda regarding how we URBANITES and our businesses had our chance but blew it. He sounds like the new TEA PARTY: "TAKE BACK AMERICA! but he says TAKE BACK ALLENTOWN! But guess what, it hasn't gone anywhere and the people who have moved in will still be here also. Instead of making this an US versus THEM situation and spreading your JIM BIRCH SOCIETY style of wisdom, take a minute and THINK! If these Dollar Store, cheap jewelry, and cell phone selling stores had assistance from the City like other "preferred" businesses (many of them didn't have the luxury of grants, KOZ's, and NIZ's) that have come AND gone, then perhaps they would have thrived. Ooops, cancel that, these "urban" businesses were thriving. They just weren't serving the "right" type of customers/clientele.

And many may gripe, "Uh-oh, he's playing the race card again," but the reality is that just like when OBAMA was elected people began to REALLY believe racism was over, many people truly BELIEVE that once this arena is built Allentown will be freed from its' inner-city characteristics to BETHLEHEM-like storefronts. LOL! You need to ask Allentown Brew Works, Sangria, and Cosmopolitan about THAT misconception. Just because you build it doesn't mean ANYONE will come. In fact, I will use my psychic powers and predict that once the hockey starts and the season ends, this arena will become like the STABLER arena or even COCA COLA Park which sits empty many days out of the year. They will be forced to cater to US, the Urban crowd, just like all OTHER businesses, because WE are more plentiful and spend money AND people like FUTURE ARENA will only go a couple of times and then complain about how there are too many of us URBAN people and our events at the arena.

Not ASHAMED TO BE URBAN,

ALFONSO TODD

P.S. : GOOGLE me and see what I HAVE done for the City of
Allentown over the years...

Anonymous said...

This is a sad thread. These points of view and arguments have been repeated innumerable times over the past months.

The same old story is repeated over and over again and again. The mayor does what he wants to do in spite of what the pubic states.

The methods and tactics he uses to appease the public are disrespectful of the democratic process.

I can tell you the amount of time I spend reading this blog decreases the more posts appear from FUTURE.

My apologies but his insipid mediocrity and party line pandering are intolerable. I have personally grown weary of these posts.

Thanks for all you do and keep up your efforts. Allentown needs people like you. Stay focused and keep blogging.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Four things.

1. Oh Mr. Todd but you did just use the race card. Shame on you.

2. The Tea Party?!?! Haha, those guys are crazy if you ask me.

3. It is not even fair to compare an year round indoor seat arena of 10,000 to Coca-Cola Park or Stabler. Coca Cola park is the most successful park in the country and Stabler arena is 6,000 seats that was never designed for concerts, conventions etc... it is configured poorly and is too small.

4. "They will be forced to cater to US, the Urban crowd, just like all OTHER businesses, because WE are more plentiful and spend money”
Forced to cater? Spend money? I am pretty sure that the economic demographics say other wise...Once again read up on gentrification. It is real and it has already started, look at the increased values of the properties since the announcement of arena project. You may speculate all you want. But nothing of this magnitude has been done before in the valley outside of the Ironpigs. You wonder why they are so successful in drawing attendances. Because there is nothing else comparable to it in the Lehigh Valley. The arena will do the same, 40 nights of hockey and many more nights of concerts, conventions, Disney of ice, tractor pulls, graduations etc...

It is too bad that you want to see a project like this fail for Allentown and the greater Lehigh Valley! You say you have done things for Allentown, and I agree that you have...you have helped divide it with your negativity.

Anonymous said...

"Wonder if the ACLU could intervene on behalf of the merchants."
If that happens, the merchants wouldn't have a "prayer"!

Anonymous said...

If the Democrats that ran Allentown really cared about the "poor", they would build private schools to properly educate the poor, instead of "renewal" projects to displace the poor.

The following statements sound odd coming from a "compassionate" lib! They are the ones that helped to create the poor. Now these same libs seem to disdain the poor and want to rid the city of the people that helped to vote them into office.

"It is commonly believed that this results in the poorer native residents of the neighborhood, being unable to pay increased rents, house prices, and property taxes, being displaced."
"further increasing the appeal to more affluent migrants and decreasing the accessibility to the poor."
"resident owners unable to pay the taxes are forced to sell their dwellings and move to a cheaper community."

This only proves that we are not born with a good conscience. It must be learned!

ALFONSO TODD said...

I'm sorry FUTURE ARENA but, at this point, I HOPE and PRAY this arena plan is successful, because many people will have suffered all for naught, if it fails; and believe me, the race card, community division, and public unfairness aside, this town was DIVIDED way before I moved here. People used to say that DIVERSITY was Allentown's strength but that went "out the window" when people started seeing the difference in treatment by the City for those who "catered" and those who "did not cater" to the "powers that be", which is politics. But unfortunately, politics is what is TRULY destroying Allentown.

And as far as there being any SHAME to go around: SHAME on the "powers that be" who believed that the public would be ignorant enough to actually "fall" for their ruse and let this project slide by without any type of fight; SHAME on those in the public who sat idly by and did nothing or added to the propaganda to help push this arena plan through; and SHAME on YOU for championing an unfair use of government power and strategy on the public they are supposed to SERVE. Yes, many of the URBAN public may not be part of the "powerful" 12% voting population or they may be part of the "undesirable" community that gentrification is supposed to cleanse, but either way, WHO REALLY is DIVIDING the City with their non-all inclusive planning?

But thanks for the compliment, I didn't know I was tearing the City apart with my community events like UPWARD BOUND, ALLENTOWN for the past 3 years or THE LV COMMUNITY HEALTH EXPO where I literally bought out the whole AMERICA ON WHEELS MUSEUM so EVERYONE could experience the event and the facility. I truly have been a detriment to Allentown, PA for years and for this I am sorry...

PROUD TO BE URBAN,

ALFONSO TODD

futuredowntownarenaattendee said...

Mr. Todd you win! It is only right to offer you a celebration. How about beers at the brew works as we watching your winning ways be torn down by bulldozers!

ALFONSO TODD said...

No, unfortunately, FUTURE ARENA, there were no true winners or losers, in this situation, because, unfortunately, people were forced to participate in this "game" and gamble their livelihoods, futures, and family's well-being, whether they wanted to or not.


And thanks for the beer offer, but I don't drink. Yet, we should have a toast to the success of the arena, because at THIS point, it really IS too late to turn back now.


PROUD TO BE URBAN,

ALFONSO TODD

Anonymous said...

Hey Future! Your hateful attitude makes it quite obvious that the liberal culture has produced generations of "it's all about me" persons that love themselves only. Get over yourself!

Anonymous said...

Low Taxes and Limited Government according to the United States Constitution ...

... sure is crazy talk from them Tea Partiers, alright.

Shaibu!

VIKTOR TIKHONOV