Mar 29, 2023

Mayor Tuerk And Billy Joel

In a recent radio interview, Mayor Tuerk said in regard to the song "Allentown" by Billy Joel...It's so wrong... I don't know how it felt in 1982, but it doesn't feel like that now... it's not hard to stay. It's hard to leave.

Certainly as Mayor, Matt Tuerk must be a cheerleader for Allentown, and  I realize that for many of the new people here, Allentown is better than wherever they came from. But as a native Allentonian, the city was much better when Joel's song came out back in 1982. All those new buildings on Hamilton Street don't mean jack, unless you're the one man who owns them. 
What's much worse now is the crime, litter and violence. Tuerk wrote recently that illegal guns are a toxin in Allentown. Of course the real problem is the people who readily use those guns.

Billy Joel was lamenting the lost industry in the rust belt, but I'm missing the quality of life we had when he was singing that song forty years ago.


  1. I am constantly amazed at how many obvious problems are apparently ignored. You mention litter, and I could point out numerous spots that I drive each day that are covered in litter.

    The area on MLK Boulevard across from the Water Works quickly comes to mind, and I have to wonder where the city is as far as getting it cleaned up. I'm not sure who owns the property, but it could be the city.

    Regardless of ownership, the Parks Department surely has numerous vehicles passing by there each day, as does the Recycling Department (their offices are on S. 10th just off MLK). Recycling is in charge of enforcing litter laws.

    Surely someone in City Government sees the litter, yet nobody apparently calls it in for cleanup or further action.

    If something as simple - and obvious - as litter is being overlooked by city government, you have to wonder what else is being ignored. I'd like to think the Mayor would be the one to change this, but he seems to be oblivious to the obvious as well.

  2. As to crime and the Mayor's comments on illegal guns, I was surprised at how quick the Mayor and Josh Siegel (a former Allentown city councilman and now PA Rep) put out statements about illegal guns in response to three people being shot last week.

    I doubt the source of the guns used in the shootings was even known at the time, or if the guns used were illegal.

    One of those killed was a resident of the city who apparently grew tired of having cars on his block broken into. The deceased resident was chided by a local gun control advocate, and the Mayor said residents shouldn't take matters into their own hands.

    I would counter that the Allentown Police are understaffed and stretched too thin, and residents are lucky if a police car is dispatched to even take a report AFTER their cars are broken into.

    Maybe the Mayor feels adequately protected, or maybe he's not too worried about deductibles if someone breaks into his City-issued vehicle. But out here in the real world of the city, people have to get smashed windows repaired (often with their own hard-earned cash) and don't appreciate criminals rifling through their vehicles a few feet from their front doors.

    While blaming guns might garner favorable headlines and accolades from his party leaders, it's not really the problem. As you mention, someone is readily using those guns. And they're increasingly targeting innocent residents. Instead of catering to the criminals, the Mayor would do better by bolstering the police force and targeting those committing the crimes.

  3. anon@6:47, although I was willing to give chief Roca a good chance, I no longer believe that he's up to the job. However, Tuerk's probably well satisfied with Roca's emphasis on diversity and inclusive community. In reality we very much need a hard nose chief clamoring for more officers.

  4. What does Matt know about Allentown? Frankly, does he have a clue or a vision on how to address our city's real problems? Or more likely is he just a woke cheerleader filling the role of mayor for those who really control the city. On that score it is now clear local Democrats lead by Pete Schweyer are leading the effort to defeat Jarret Coleman's legislation that would remove the NIZ's financial information protection from the Freedom of Information Act. The last thing the ruling class wants is transparency on the NIZ's tax revenue. One might think this would interest Matt but of course he is dutifully silent on this, instead he parrots worthless, distracting woke solutions to Allentown's gullible voters and the usual media wingmen.

    1. Matt Turek has been Mayor now approaching a year and a half. Other than make Santo Domingo Allentown's "Sister City", what has he accomplished or started any real initiatives to move Allentown forward ? I can't think of any other than presiding over flag raisings or festivals for various ethnics groups or social causes..

  5. So Tuerk says (about Allentown) "'s not hard to stay. It's hard to leave."

    Wow, I hate it when democrats can't get on the same page with their talking points.

    If I take a short walk from City Hall and talk to the ASD School Board, they'll tell my that test scores in the District are so terrible because of TRANSIENCY. For those educated in the Allentown School District, that means people entering the schools but not staying.

    Apparently, it's not hard for those people to LEAVE Allentown.

    I suppose that the mixed messaging is better than admitting the primary similarity between City Hall and the School Board, which is an abundance of democrat policies that have already failed in other cities.

    I realize that cheerleading is certainly more popular than telling it like it is, especially among democrat voters. And it certainly works to get many politicians re-elected. But it seldom solves problems, and what Allentown needs more than anything is problem solvers.

    1. I know plenty of residents of all ethnic backgrounds who have left or want to leave. The only thing keeping them from leaving is that housing cost outside the city are much higher and unaffordable to those seeking to leave. All of the surrounding communities are alreadly heavily populated by Allentonian's who have already left.

  6. I will not be hosting anymore partisan comments on this post. I'm not disputing any local reality, but choose not to chase away input from different viewpoints.

    1. I appreciate not wanting to chase away input from different viewpoints and would welcome an actual discussion of the policies pursued in the city (both in City Hall and the ASD) from those who support it.

      Unfortunately, I've found few that want to engage in any such discussion and most seemingly prefer to stay on the same path despite measurable data showing that the policies being followed are not working.

      I certainly don't think that members of another political party are always wrong, or that one party has all the answers. Quite the contrary, I think that good ideas can come from anywhere and are certainly not exclusive to any one political party. I also happen to believe that most residents (regardless of party) want many of the same things - good schools, safe neighborhoods and opportunities to work and improve their lives.

      My only purpose in mentioning the political party of those running Allentown is an attempt provoke a further discussion of the policies in the city. I sometimes feel that residents have gone too long without stating obvious facts, to the detriment of the city. I do often wonder if those on the other side - particularly those in elected office - are even willing to listen, much less discuss.

      That said I will of course abide by your rules. I continue to appreciate your blog for providing some opportunity to discuss the challenges the city faces, most of which aren't being discussed anywhere else.

  7. In the past several years, I have been thinking of moving back to Allentown. It is where I was born, and where my family has been since the mid 1700s.. Also, I still have many friends from William Allen who do live in the area. The past year or so, I am coming to the realization that the Allentown ingrained in my memories is really not the Allentown of the current-day.

    I am thinking more of the outer parts of Lehigh County, or perhaps in the Hershey/Lebanon/Hamburg area, away from what Allentown has become but still in the general area. On my last visit, Allentown looks old and tired. Besides literally no where to park on city streets, the city is filthy with litter, many of the homes need repainting, and I won't get into the other issues that make the city far less desirable to live in as the city I remember.

    On my last visit, I was fortunate enough to find a place to park near West Park, as I wanted to take some photos there. Now, I brought with me my expensive portrait camera to shoot high quality resolution photos. I was taking photos of the park and some areas when school let out from William Allen. The students started cutting though the park, and unlike in years past, I started to fear that I may be assaulted because of my camera.. and also I'm no longer high school age. I don't need this going back to live in Allentown.. there are better places to live, and I only know two of my classmates who actually still live in the city. Now I understand why.

    The Allentown I grew up in was parks, retail shopping, financial and not overrun with poverty and crime. Plus it was clean and being out at night was never an issue... even at 2am.. there was no fear of the criminal element as there is today on the streets. Unlike Billy Joel's song, it was never Iron and Coal, Chromium Steel. That was Bethlehem ... Although today, the manufacturing jobs are gone, and there really isn't much left of the retail or banking sector. The NIZ is one big cold office park of white-collar office jobs. The rest of Allentown is health care jobs and selling something, and welfare checks. Not making items in the factories such as silk and textiles ...

    1. I live in the West Park neighborhood, while the students don't often engage in assaults or robberies they certainly make their presences felt. When there is violence it is almost always on fellow students, knifings, shootings, and brutal beating have all occurred on my block alone. Local residents avoid being outside during dismissal and avoid the park from mid day to late afternoon as the park is often populated by students who should be in school but aren't. It's no exaggeration to say on pleasant days fifty to a hundred students are in the park. Drug use is apparent and common. While we are pleased that the police are often present, stationed in car by the bandshell, they clearly have a "keep the lid on the problem" approach. It's just as obvious the ASD leadership doesn't care their students are in the park, on the sidewalks and in the neighboring alleys instead of class. Why they don't care is a question worth asking but never seems to be. As the afternoon wears on and the students move on to their homes or other locations they leave their litter behind. All this said, West Park has a core community of residents who work non stop to keep West Park from become just another run down, blighted Allentown neighborhood.

    2. I was at West Park a few weeks ago and was shocked at the amount of litter, leaves and branches that were all throughout the park.

      Maybe I’m not remembering things correctly, but it used to seem like the Parks Department was in that park every morning, making sure all was how it should be.

      Now I couldn’t tell you when the last time was that they were there.

  8. Not making items in the factories such as silk and textiles ...
    That's pretty much to story throughout this country. China owns us. Yesterday I read 97% of prescription ingredients are manufactured in China. Every Medication my wife and I take are either made in India or the U.K. except for one. Check the labels on yours, I think it will surprise you. Turns out even our high priced cat food was made in Thailand.

    Seems Allentown is part of a bigger picture of what's going on in the United States. Everybody wants to be in politics entertainment or resell stuff. Little is being made here in Allentown or anywhere else in this country for that matter.. Even the majority of the so-called electric companies don't own generating facilities. PPL still can't get their billing straight after 3 months! Truck prices are from $50,000-$90,000+. And our education system is a whole other matter.

    In other words Allentown is a small sample of what this nation is becoming. A nation where greatness once existed replaced by incompetence we're seeing around us today. Thank God I lived the era I did. I fear for those who will now face the next era ahead. Sorry to be so dour but that's the way I see things happening around us these days..

  9. The city needs a curfew.

  10. Allentown is pretty much going the way of Detroit, or Gary, IN, or Reading for that matter. White-flight has been going on for 60 to 70 years and getting out of downtown was a goal for a number of generations. Development to the East-side, West and South enabled the post-World War II generation to live in newly-built smaller, suburban homes and kids could attend newly-built public schools. The generations of people who worked, lived, worshiped, shopped downtown died out. The church congregations started leaving n the early 60s with the Presbyterians leaving 5th Street for Tilghman and Cedar Crest. The neighborhood men's clubs gave way to the bars and street gangs. Are there any even left? The automobile changed downtown into a place where you only went if you had to. The retail is gone, the medical offices are gone, the professional offices are mostly gone, except for some attorneys who feel the need to be near the court house. Hamilton Mall slowed down the pace of the retail flight, but it didn't stop it. In the past decade the architectural significant buildings were bulldozed. This now continues west through 10th Street. The current mayor knows more about Santo Domingo than he does about the South side of Hamilton Street. The flight continues as no one would put their kids in the Allentown School District, even our state rep made the move out last year. The city police no longer bother to enforce traffic laws because they are afraid that the offenders may be carrying guns. Tolerating litter and filth isn't new. Not enforcing traffic laws isn't new. The new normal isn't new, but a home owner dying in a shoot-out is. The mayor has an opportunity to do a turn around and support the police, but that doesn't present much of a photo-opportunity. He's far enough into his term to expect some action.