Oct 16, 2012

Differing With Alan Jennings

A chance encounter several days ago allowed Alan Jennings and myself some face time. Not unlike others I happen to disagree with, he felt any issues I had with his programs could only be based on a lack of information on my part. Although I'm far too polite to tell him that perhaps some of his programs have defects, I did convey that my opinions are based on a long, strong institutional memory of events, places and people. It pains me now, just a few days later, to have to take him to task once again. Worse, he is in the midst of celebrating his annual report with the politically correct movers and shakers. I have been described as dangerous, because I am neither PC, ambitious or nice; But, back to The Morning Call article and Alan's words about National Penn moving to Reillyville.
Early this morning, National Penn Bancshares CEO Scott Fainor announced that the company will move its headquarters to downtown Allentown in 2014. The bank will bring hundreds of employees to the city, occupying several floors in City Center Two. The building will be constructed on the northeast corner of Seventh and Hamilton streets where a building once occupied by First National Bank of Allentown is being demolished The Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley has long worked with the region’s banks to ensure the Lehigh Valley’s lower-income families and their neighborhoods gain access to credit, which is the intent of the Community Reinvestment Act passed by the United States Congress in 1977. According to Alan Jennings, Executive Director of CACLV, CRA is one of the most effective tools for creating economic opportunity in the country. Jennings issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Fainor. “This morning’s announcement by National Penn Bankshares CEO Scott Fainor may be the most important “community reinvestment act” in decades. The decision represents another big victory for the Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The bank’s action shouts out its bullishness on Allentown and the region. In an era when too many people are cynical about the motives behind others decisions, this decision is clearly one in which the bank sees an opportunity to gain a big return on its investment, building its deposit base and expanding its lending. In other words, the bank sees an opportunity to make money. Nothing could be better for Allentown and the region: it will create jobs where they are most needed, strengthen the livelihood of downtown businesses, create wealth that will spill over to the neighborhood, and improve access to credit. The best community development program is called “profit” and we hope that lots of other investors join the effort. “We congratulate the bank for yet another bold investment in downtown Allentown. We thank NIZ pioneer Senator Pat Browne for his creativity, both the senator and Representative Jennifer Mann for their legislative success, Mayor Ed Pawlowski for his perseverance and focus on the city’s needs and City Center principles J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper for their ability to effectively capitalize on an opportunity, even when it means swimming upstream.” Jennings serves on the Board of Directors of the Allentown Neighborhood Investment Zone Development Authority. He stressed that he was not representing ANIZDA in making this statement.
Although it is a positive thing that National Penn is moving into the Reilly and Topper Building, it in no way constitutes an investment in Allentown. On the contrary, the taxpayers are investing in the mortgage and providing a vehicle for the bank to have reduced rent. Jennings fails to acknowledge that the tax money would be utilized by Pennsylvania for reasons other than Reilly's mortgage, such as the CHIP, children's health insurance program. I also fail to see how this building or it's tenants improves the lives of lower income families, or increases their access to credit. J.B.Reilly and Joe Topper did not have to swim upstream; It was more like a shark attack that nobody knew was coming. Alan doesn't mention that Scott Fainor and National Penn loaned J.B. Reilly $20million dollars to buy up Allentown property, before anybody else even knew that NIZ loans would be available for private owners. It was loaned before any criterion were established, and before the NIZ board was even appointed. I agree with Jennings that as long as the Arena Complex and associated buildings are being built, I wish them successful occupancy. But, lets not imagine that the neighborhood poor are going to be invited into National Penn headquarters for a makeover. Lets not blow smoke.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

And,kind sir,did you per chance,ask Mr Jennings about his support for the wholesale sell-off of the people'of Allentown's Water and Sewer System,springs and streams?
Do tell.
Not that this water sell-off is a big deal mind you.

Anonymous said...

Not a sale, but a lease. People who use the word sale, show that they do not know anything about the proposal.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe anyone has anything negative to say about this building. It is going to house about 500 high paid workers. Those workers need to eat somewhere and that means local restaurants. Those workers needs to shop and that means downtown retail. 500 extra "eyes on the street" means less crime and more walkability.

Face it, this investment is turning into a huge success and you nay-sayers get more egg on your face every week.

Allentown is starting to get its shine back and all you do is crap all over it. Enough of this victim attitude and negativity. Let's be proud about what is coming back to the downtown!

Anonymous said...

Mike,

The government robs from Peter to pay Paul and we are to think this is progress. Allentown’s gain is Boyertown’s loss and because the pieces are moved around the chess board economic progress is proclaimed.
Forgive my cynicism, but the truth is government cannot create opportunity/jobs/wealth with these schemes it can only sap it from other locations.

Scott Armstrong

Bill Coker said...

Anonymous said...
"I find it hard to believe anyone has anything negative to say about this building. It is going to house about 500 high paid workers. Those workers need to eat somewhere and that means local restaurants. Those workers needs to shop and that means downtown retail. 500 extra "eyes on the street" means less crime and more walkability"

Ever applied for a job at a bank? Average worker, even managers are paid peanutes. Bank fees and profits are going sky high (low rents will help, too) but pay stays low. Only the top dogs get the dough.

michael molovinsky said...

@7:55, this post wasn't about the building, it was about alan jennings inappropriately tying to marry community reinvestment for low income with national penn's move to reilly's building. furthermore, any town committing $272 million dollars should be able to tolerate, if not appreciate, one naysayer blog.

Anonymous said...

@7:33
Play word games aho. The system is up for sale to the highest, or at least favored,bidder.
When your "lease" is over I'm 117 years old, and the system, if retreaveably, is unrecognizable.
You may be right about one thing. If your an administration insider you know a shitload more than the general public because the city has not even begun to level with the tax payers by putting all the facts on the table.

Anonymous said...

You better believe this means Jennings going to get a bigger share of the pie.

But then he deserves it. These bankers are his people.

Anonymous said...

Re/7:33. How right you are. The sale of the water system is not a sale ---- but a "lease". In a mire 50 years after some corporation has had half a century to wring all the bloody profit out it this, the people's asset, the citizens and tax layers will get it back.
What's not to like about this deal, I mean sell off, er I mean lease.
Yeah,that's what I mean.
Lease.

Anonymous said...

MM -

Permission requested to go a bit off topic, but I'll try to bring it back to the subject at hand.

A previous poster mentioned the sale of the water system. Does anyone else find this ironic given that Allentown "is starting to get it's shine back"?

Why would such a drastic, LONG TERM step be taken if the NIZ is going to transform the City?

To me it seems to be an admission that City Hall knows the NIZ WILL NOT BE of great benefit to city taxpayers. That would indicate that the only thing really being transformed is the bank accounts of the private developers involved.

Anonymous said...

7:33 note well: 7:00 never said sale. 7;00 said sell -off. They might as well used the term sell-out.
A fifty year sell- off, in the form of a lease,is certainly a 50 year sell out of the people of Allentown's water asset. Either way the people have asked for more information regarding the " lease ",and both councl and the mayor have told them to f--k off.
Sale = sell off = sell out = 50 year lease = a f__k off!
The fix is once again in. The mayor knows who has been selected to lease, for fifty years,Allentowns most significant asset.
It's all a done deal.
F__k off people!

Anonymous said...

Hundred to downtown? Any job is wonderful for the job holder and Allentown's downtown but isn't there going to be a shortcut constructed to downtown that avoids certain city center neighborhoods and isn't there probably going to be a lower level garage and isn't there going to probably an elevator to those hundreds of new jobs?
So when will there be strolling down Hamilton Street after hours?

Anonymous said...

Excellent Post!

Anonymous said...

MM -

Permission requested to go a bit off topic, but I'll try to bring it back to the subject at hand.

A previous poster mentioned the sale of the water system. Does anyone else find this ironic given that Allentown "is starting to get it's shine back"?

Why would such a drastic, LONG TERM step be taken if the NIZ is going to transform the City?

To me it seems to be an admission that City Hall knows the NIZ WILL NOT BE of great benefit to city taxpayers. That would indicate that the only thing really being transformed is the bank accounts of the private developers involved.

October 16, 2012 10:52 PM

Anonymous said...

Your right Scott the policies of the GOVERMENT
rob from Peter to pay Paul.

For 50 + years the suburbs and greenfields have robbed from the Urban Core and brown fields.

Read the Brookings report dude.

Anonymous said...

Scott Armstrong

This is very good for ASD.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone horrified that with a water/sewer LEASE the state PUC will not have oversight of the water rate increases? They are supposed to be the check and balance to protect the rate payers. The MC article has the Mayor saying that this is a good thing, but I think only for the corporate water interests.

This water/sewer lease will be a sh!t show for Allentown rate payers

Anonymous said...

Allentown is being sold off - one chunk at a time. water, airport, clear cut woodlands, waste management, parking authority operations, river front, center city, and the list goes on.

Anonymous said...

The economy worsens day by day. More jobs are lost, more small businessees close, and more people enter into poverty while those already there are reconiciling themselves to a continuation of their plight indefinitely.

Incerasingly many people in the community's priamry concern is focused on having enough food, keeping decent housing, safety, and stability for them and their families.

This project and those engineering this fiasco fail to grasp this blatantly simple reality or do anything to remedy the situation.

This really is a net sum nothing game re the new bank. I am sure Fainor & Co will reap incredible savings and tax benefits, thanks to you and me.

When i read who the president of the bank was the motivations were clear. Just another worn character squeezing the same old economic teat he and his buddies have been doing for years.

Polish Allentown, one poster said? Please how do you polish the s**t these characters are creating? They remind me of a bunch of spoiled school yard bullies who will never be satisfied until they feel they have it all.

Anonymous said...

Shocking how the battle cry on the Republican side is that "government can't do anything right" (Reagan: "Government isn't the solution; its the problem.") Yet, when they try to sell off a socialized program (the waterworks) to a private industry, we hear all the same people screaming. Cause that makes sense.

michael molovinsky said...

@7:56, the water works, from 1895, is a primary municipal service, like police and fire, it's not a "social program."

Anonymous said...

7:56 am
I have nothing politically in common with the GOP right wing. I am most certainly not one of those people. I find the 50 year "lease" of the water works appauling.
I'm quite impressed at the full range of citizens across the political spectrum, from Peresky to Armstrong and in between who are deeply opposed to this boondoggle as it has been called. This is a politically unifying issue.

Anonymous said...

JUST SAY NO TO THE SALE OF THE H2o!

STOP THE GREAT ALLENTOWN BOONDOGGLE !

Anonymous said...

Everybody I know thinks privatizing water services is plane stupid. My Tea Party dad hates the idea and my Occupy Wall St kids hate it.
My brother-in-law calls it"equal opportunity bullshit!"
I haven't talked to a single solitary person who thinks this is a smart long term plan.
Not one.

Anonymous said...

Why am i confused. Romney says we gotta take care of the job creators and bring jobs back.So there coming back from the suburbs.Guess its why i think politics is all bullshit both r and d .Romney wants to lower taxes on small business Mayor Ed wants to give lower rents, all to attract buisness back to allentown.With all the spin on both sides I find the current state of affairs both local and national a laugh riot.Of course as a reality show politics gets great responses,you can either laugh at john stewart or get angry watching fox news.

michael molovinsky said...

dear confused, bringing jobs from the suburbs or boyertown, is not creating jobs and not bringing jobs back. since you can't see the difference, jon stewart and obama is good enough for you.