Feb 27, 2013

Petition Group Throws In Towel

The citizen group which organized the petition against the water lease has thrown in the towel, with the following release:
Greetings,                                                                                                                                As reported below in the Express-Times, the wording in Allentown's Home Rule Charter regarding referendum initiatives is incorrect for those initiatives that seek to amend the charter. It turns out that referendums specifically seeking to change the charter must follow state rules and not the rules contained in the charter. While the referendum is dead, your efforts were not in vain. Through your efforts, those who collected signatures and those who otherwise worked on this campaign we collected some 4,500 signatures. Combined, we are a major force that can effect change. Five sitting City Council members are running in the Democratic primary May 21-- Cynthia Mota, Ray O'Connell, Julio Guridy, Jeff Glazier, and Joe Davis. All have voted numerous times against our efforts to slow or halt the march toward privatization. There are five challengers wanting their seats. We, you have to let those in office know that we will vote out of office any council member that continues to support privatization.                                                                                  ~Citizens for Allentown Water
The group made a strategic mistake by wording the petition as a charter change, rather than a simple ordinance against the unpopular lease of our water system. They felt that by pursuing the charter change they could save the water system, and prevent the Administration from selling off additional assets in the future. If I had expended the energy that they did on gathering the signatures, I would pursue this rejection by the election board in the courts.  My title, Throws in Towel, might be a bit harsh.  If the group does succeed in making council members more responsive to the wishes of the public,  their efforts were not totally in vain.


Bill said...

If it is true that there were other referendums that followed that contained the same language, than those referendums would be illegal as well. Has this process been selectively enforced by the county?

I am an Allentown voter who more than likely will be looking for five new candidates to vote for City Council and deeply concerned about how the system seems to be gamed against the citizens. We had a ridiculously generous pension contract that has nearly bankrupted our city, and so now we are selling off our assets to pay for it. How many police officers retired in their mid 40's with $70,000 plus lifetime pensions out of the deal we are now forced to pay for? Was that pension deal legal? If it was it should not have been, it was a crime against the citizens of our city.

Two things are certain. One is that Allentown and the region will pay more for water in a private lease plan. The second it that I and many many others will be looking to vote out any city council member who votes for this plan.

The sad thing is that I suspect that they do not care and will be taken care of by whomever gets this 50 year "lease".

michael molovinsky said...

bill, the difference in referendums is that the previous ones created or dealt with a city ordinance, while this one sought a charter change. apparently, state guidelines must be used in regard to charter changes. although i did not know about this legality, i did recommend to the water citizens group, before they circulated their petition, that it should just address the water lease issue. now that this citizen's recourse is over, and a lease is imminent, i will advocate for the LCA(Lehigh County Authority) to be the successful bidder. Under their control, at least there will be some accountability to local citizens.

Anonymous said...

LCA would be the best choice. Looks like some of the R commissioners want to hold this hostage too. The system is going to get leased. If the commissioners don't authorize the extension of the LCA charter to 50years, then it will be leased to a private outfit. Push commissioners to authorize the extension of the LCA charter so Allentown's water system stays in public hands.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:18, i don't know about holding anything hostage, but i agree that now LCA is the best option for all water rate payers of lehigh county.

Anonymous said...

It will require a change in the primary as there is zero chance of a general election win by the gop.

The difficulty is that the primary voters are generally aligned and funded by the key supporters like unions and party activists. However, there could be a couple on council exposed as they aren't established positions. I guess two changes are at least possible.

Anonymous said...

If Allentown citizens don't refine their strategy to rid city council of incumbents who have acted so reprehensibley
this effort will also fail.
While I support the intent of the anti-sale folks, and admire their hard work, I find their lack of competence baffling.This could have been handled so much better.

Anonymous said...

No bids yet?
That town is a zoo.

Anonymous said...

The anti-privatization people are setting themselves up for another debacle. They will be fortunate to unseat one or two standing councilman. Do they have an election strategy? Raising funds? A FB Page or phone contact?
Can someone please step forward and give this group some guidance?

michael molovinsky said...

@2:02, as a student of prior elections for the last 15 years, it will be an accomplishment to unseat one or two administrated supported standing councilmen. although they made mistake on the referendum, i wouldn't sell any of them short. in the process of collecting 4,000 signatures, they put the disconnect between the voters and the administration front and center.

Anonymous said...

MM I'll give them that and that is no small accomplishment. ( The two referredum approach gave the mayor twice as many chances to out maneuver them- not smart.) They just seem lacking in basic political know-how.

michael molovinsky said...

@5:21, they didn't purport to be politicians. dan poresky did build one of the most successful single site camera stores in united states. collecting over four thousand signatures is a massive accomplishment. in 1998 it took all the neighborhood groups, established for decades, to get half that many names. although the effort failed to secure a question on the ballot, all those thousands of people who expressed solidarity against the water lease, are a political force to reckon with.


MM, I wouldn't say they have thrown in the towel. They still have a very active campaign going.


Alfonso Todd


Anonymous said...

Irrespective of the outcome of the effort to put this issue to a vote, the acquisition of 4,000 signatures is impressive. It provides hope at least some folks are willing to step up and state their position. In an election year, along with others, I have been collecting signatures for petitions to place prospective candidates on the ballot. Many Allentown residents proudly admit they are not registered to vote, and the hate for Republicans appears strong, so much so, many Republicans appear reticent to admit their party affiliation. Sadly I see little support by the Republican committee in the Lehigh Valley for those running for any office in Allentown. In my opinion, there seems to be a strong need in this city for either party to strongly influence elected officials, something like "pay to play". Those standing alone and not giving in to the party mantra seem to be either ignored or ostracized. Elected officials trying to be steadfast in the execution of their responsibilities face many challenges. The results however can be lasting, of value to many in the community, and can yield a profound personal experience, regardless of the threats and attempted acts of political and personal intimidation along the way. So goes some semblance of democracy in Allentown, PA in 2013.

David Fehr Zimmerman

Anonymous said...

The Republican car in this one-horse town is thoroughly wrecked and could, quite possibly, NEVER get itself out of the ditch.

For starters, it is highly unlikely the The Morning Call would ever allow such a thing. Blind men can see how biased TMC is. Some people actually love it.

There is nothing really resembling western-style Democracy in the City With No (Spending?) Limits. Allentown is much, much closer to the old Soviet-style Eastern Bloc, complete with real one-party elections and everything. Some people love that, too.


Anonymous said...

The group is playing in a rough sport. Too many utopian views. Get serious or punt.Get rid of the Philadelphia activist bunch. They don't help.

They need to field candidates in less than a month and get tens of thousands of dollars right awqy.

Also, while abit impressive to get 4000 signitures, the people signing were quite a bit too easy to get at the poll exits.I know people who signed and didn't really understand the petition.