Jul 6, 2012

The People's Candidate

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

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

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

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

* Because the designated Historical District was too large, it has failed, to this day, to create the atmosphere envisioned by the long gone founders. Perhaps had they listened to, instead of ridiculing, the plain spoken shopkeeper, they would have created a smaller critical mass of like thinking homeowners, who then could have expanded the area.

reprinted from March 2010


Anonymous said...

All true,
Equally true--she could be a bully who abused the good grace of her office in going after those who disagreed with her and she was often inconsistent and arditary even within the context of her own world view.
Certainly one of a kind.
For better and for worse,we'll not see the likes of her again soon.

Anonymous said...

Like that doesn't happen all day long at all levels of local, state and Federal government --- abusing the office to target those who dare disagree.

If one has not been able to see this in the last four years, either locally or nationally, one never will.

Whatever. So long, at the end of the day, I get my goodies ...


Anonymous said...

GO EMMA!¡!!!!!

michael molovinsky said...

mr. future, actually emma never had the inclination or influence that 7:48 alludes to. although i printed the comment and didn't respond this morning, i must now put the record straight. the daddona administration just tolerated her, the heydt regime was aggressive toward her.

Anonymous said...

Emma was one of us - The citizens inhabiting this city.
She was accessible to the local folks.
She wwas tenacious and difficult for the powers that were to stifle.
Many times a champion of the people.

Anonymous said...

She could be a bully,have people fined or harnessed. I agree.she was sweet at times. Kind even. At other times gruff and harsh. Mean spirited even.
And yes,Heydt disliked her as he did anyone who didn't go along with his little general ego. He was a bully also,without any of Emma's redeeming qualiities.

michael molovinsky said...

@7:17, i find it difficult to believe that emma would, or could, have people fined. she herself had rental property and was fined by the city; that doesn't suggest she had the influence with city hall you indicate.

Anonymous said...

Future Phantoms saw the opportunity to deliver a jarring open-ice hit and nothing more.

FDSTH's comment had nothing to do with Tropiano specifically and he knows it. He thinks Big Government is broke on both sides of the aisle, as you would say here in America. He says Senator Pat Browne is one of your classic RINOS, for example.

A Finnish referee might have looked at a map, not wished to upset the Soviet Bear and promptly issued FDSTH a gross misconduct penalty ...



Anonymous said...

Truth is, people like Emma are harder and harder to find.

The mores and values of the political machines, private corporations, tax free institutions and even many community organizers has changed.

These are the "me first" people and for the most part, will not commit to a cause unless they feel pretty sure the outcome will be in their favor.

Their primary concern is their own illusory position in the mix of things. They breath daily their dreams of hope and glory in the corporate and political realm.

Most are subservient to their employers and/or party leaders and have learned to play the game. They are the ones incapable of original thought and lack any sense of communal value or conscience.

They will follow the script and do the party bidding. They are the chief suck ups among us who have bled this city dry. They respect no one, not even themselves.

How do they sleep at night? Easily, since they are perpetually lost in their fantasies of power, property and prestige.

Ironically it will always allude them and leave them feeling incomplete and impotent. Too bad.

They end up with many skeletons in the closet. But party on you political narcissists. Seize the drunken moment and ignore reality. Emma was prophetic. God rest her soul and God bless and live well those of a similar bent.