Aug 29, 2014

Conduit To Harrisburg

As a local activist and blogger I've heard all the complaints about local government over the years, If only Lehigh County did this, and Harrisburg done that. I've heard all the complaints about the ingrained two party system, What we need is less partisanship and more choices! The rise of Tom Wolf against an incumbent governor is testament to the degree of dissatisfaction with state government. His success has not come cheaply. He spent a record amount of money advertising in the primary. I believe that with your help I can become the first Independent in Harrisburg. I need your contribution to get my message out in an incredibly large district, stretching from Rt. 22 to the Blue Mountain, from Slatington to Bath. Although many of you do not live in the 183rd, I'm still counting on your help. Decisions made in Harrisburg affect all residents, regardless of which district you reside. My efforts will be for best policy, regardless of any political party considerations. Contributions can be made through the paypal button on the sidebar.

Aug 28, 2014

The Franking Queen

Julie Harhart appears to be abusing her franking privilege by sending one mailing after another, at taxpayer expense, to the residents of the 183rd District. Franking privilege refers to free postage for official mailings by elected officials. When an elected official starts sending several pieces every month prior to an election, the privilege is being abused. In addition to the current frequency of Harhart's mailings, they're being sent to neighborhoods which are still officially in other districts until mid December, when the new redistricting map officially begins.

Aug 27, 2014

The Cedarbrook Covenant

A current article in The Morning Call describes how Lehigh County Commissioners cut $3million from County Executive Tom Muller's plan to start renovating Cedarbrook, the county nursing home. Apparently, the commissioners felt that the proposed expenditure failed to define how it would improve Cedarbrook's bottom line. There is no bottom line when it comes to the county's responsibility toward it most vulnerable citizens, seniors alone, and in frail health. We provide a highrise prison for the mostly transient criminals among us. We provide a myriad of social services for many able bodied, but unmotivated, among us. Recently, the commissioners approved the elimination of eleven custodial jobs at Cedarbrook, probably reducing the quality of care at the aging facility. Cedarbrook is not a business, but a moral responsibility. I have defended Cedarbrook as a citizen in the past, I will now defend it as an Independent candidate for State Representative.
photograph by K Mary Hess

The King Has Abdicated

In 1958 my father had a food stand at the fair. It took him about an hour to realize you can not sell hot dogs in the King's back yard; Yocco, the hot dog king. When Yocco's claimed last year they were not at the fair because their canvas ripped, I was skeptical. This year it's official, they have abdicated their spot. Tonight the fair was jammed. In Ag Hall the granges still compete in vegetable canning. A wiseguy still incites you to dunk him. The world's smallest horse hasn't grown. Maybe Yocco's is gone, but the fair is still much more like 1958 than any other aspect of Allentown.

reprinted annually since 2007

Aug 26, 2014

The Mighty Atom

Years ago, at the Allentown Fair, as one would push through a sea of carney delusion, tucked back by the 4H animals, was an island of reality. There, in an old battered truck, an ancient Jewish strongman performed incredible feats of strength, to sell only homemade kosher soap. Standing on a platform on the rear of his truck, flanked by photographs from his performing youth, he would bent horse shoes and bite through nails. Many years earlier, my mother as a little girl in Bethlehem, saw him pull a truck uphill with his hair. Even as an old man, like a reincarnation of Samson, his grey hair was still long.
In the summers of 1964 and 1965, myself and a friend,(Fred Schoenk, retired Allentown art teacher) made and sold printed tee-shirts at the fair. We had the honor to know Joseph Greenstein(The Mighty Atom) and his wife. For those interested, there are various articles on the Mighty Atom and even at least one book. Enjoy the fair!

reprinted annually since 2007

Aug 25, 2014

A Personal Memoir

I'm not sure memoir is a good title, rather than facts and records, I have hazy recollections. Assuming my memory will not improve at this stage of the game, let me put to print that which I can still recall. In about 1958 my father built Flaggs Drive-In. McDonalds had opened on Lehigh Street, and pretty much proved that people were willing to sit in their cars and eat fast food at bargain prices. For my father, who was in the meat business, this seemed a natural. As a rehearsal he rented space at the Allentown Fair for a food stand, and learned you cannot sell hotdogs near Yocco's. He purchased some land across from a corn field on Hamilton Blvd. and built the fast food stand. In addition to hamburgers, he decided to sell fried chicken. The chicken was cooked in a high pressure fryer called a broaster, which looked somewhat like the Russian satellite Sputnik. The stand did alright, but the business was not to my father's liking, seems he didn't have the personality to smile at the customers. He sold the business several years later to a family which enlarged and enclosed the walk up window. Subsequent owners further enlarged the location several times. The corn field later turned into a Water Park, and you know Flaggs as Ice Cream World.

I'm grateful to a kind reader who sent me this picture of Flaggs

UPDATE: I first published the above post on Flaggs in March of 2009. I reprint it today in regard to yesterday's post about The Hamilton Boulevard Makeover. The proposed crosswalk funnels people between Dorney Park and Ice Cream World. My initial reply to the proposal was that it was an incredible gift to Ice Cream World, at taxpayer expense. However, although some valid questions have been raised in the comment section of yesterday's post, public safety requires some accommodation for pedestrians crossing Hamilton Boulevard.

Aug 24, 2014

The Hamilton Boulevard Makeover

I was present at the South Whitehall meeting for the presentation on the proposed makeover of Hamilton Boulevard, between Lincoln and Cedar Crest. Because I believe so strongly in level playing fields, the plan initially rubbed me the wrong way. I commented that it was a gift to Dorney Park and Ice Cream World, at public expense. The plan shows a pedestrian crosswalk halfway between Lincoln and Cedar Crest, with sidewalks, trees and other features to soften and slow the current highway feeling. There have been pedestrian fatalities, and I'm sure many near misses, on that stretch of road. Commission President Christina Morgan and others believe that for public safety, the changes are long overdue. Upon reflection, I agree with them.

Aug 22, 2014

The Road To Harrisburg

While I was at a meeting this week fighting for Wehr's Dam, my Democratic opponent was the guest of honor at a Democratic fundraiser, near the dam. Although her main qualification is that she met Michele Obama once, Democrats are working for her, and contributing to her campaign. The Republican incumbent has sent four mailers in the last two months, paid for by the taxpayers. Although she was unopposed in both the primary and general elections last time, she still spent $40,000 on that campaign. I'm presenting the voters of the 183rd District with an historic opportunity, to be represented by the only Independent in the State House. The District is enormous, stretching from Rt. 22 to the Blue Mountain, from Slatington to just north of Bath. I need contributions to help pay for a mailing and other campaigning. I'm asking all the readers of this blog, regardless of where you live, to help out with my unique campaign. State laws effect all residents, regardless of your address. I have installed a paypal button on the sidebar. You can find a conventional mailing address on the about section of my campaign page, Mr. Molovinsky Goes To Harrisburg. Thank you.

Aug 21, 2014

The Battle For Wehr's Dam

At last night's South Whitehall Township Commissioner's meeting, it appeared that Commission President Christina Morgan was marching to the Wildlands Conservancy's drum. Since this past June, when the Conservancy proposed demolishing the dam, a citizen's group has formed to preserve the dam and the township's history. At the previous meeting this month, the Commissioners agreed to sponsor an independent engineering study of the dam. Last night, they indicated that they would rely on the Wildlands' engineering report, hardly an independent evaluation. Ms. Morgan also referred to public hearings on the subject, a suggestion made by the Wildlands back in June, when Ms. Morgan asked them how to handle public opposition to the dam's removal. It's clear that the citizens, after four presentations and over 1,000 signatures, don't want the hearings, they want a decision. The Wildlands has stated that demolishing the dam is their highest priority. They have already demolished nine local dams. They should be invited back in a timely fashion to make their final presentation, and then the Commissioners should vote on the dam's future.  The Wildlands is entitled to their proposal, but they should not be determining the timeline about the fate one of the most historic icons in the township.
photograph by Gregg Obst

Addendum: 1.The Wildlands current study, which the Commissioners are waiting upon, is a bogus, decision delaying tactic. The Wildlands, in their June presentation, already claimed that the dam is past it's expected life (in their opinion) and that it has five cracks. They stated that they would pay for it's demolition at no expense to the Township.

2. At the previous meeting, Ms. Morgan mentioned being "fiscally responsible," alluding to the cost analysis of maintaining the dam, or allowing the Conservancy to demolish it. We concerned with local history, and the widely appreciated ambience of the park, believe that it would be better to be "historically responsible." They are not building any more gist mill dams, especially those that then flow under a Covered Bridge.

3. If the commissioners decide to save the dam, any repair costs are not an immediate concern. The structure will stand "as is" for many years, while grants are solicited to repair this historic structure.

4. At that point the dam should be added to the Historic Overlay District, with adjoining Wehr's Bridge, so residents need not again defend their history.

Aug 20, 2014

The Sign Of Hypocrisy

Very early this morning I was amused by the article in The Morning Call speaking of something new coming to downtown Allentown, an electronic billboard. I thought I had put the soon to be demolished Monument Building to rest, but now it features in yet another story of Allentown's double standards. Before the Mayor forced the owner to lock the doors, he had installed the exact type of new billboard coming to Allentown. I apparently was not the only one shaking my head over this story. Before 7:00AM I received the following comment.
  In regards to the future digital billboards: The sad part is that a business man had this same idea and placed a beautiful sign on the side of the 645 Hamilton Street building only to have ut turned off due to City politics.. Everything that is being thought of as new and innovative was proposed and DONE by individuals 6-10 years ago who took it "upon themselves" to make Allentown a better City. Unfortunately, we received no support so many have left or became apathetic... SMH Alfonso Todd
There is actually a proud tradition of signs in center square.  For many years during the golden era a large illuminated Neuweiler Beer sign stood atop the Whelan Drugstore, on the northwest corner.  Back to the hapless Monument owner and his innovative sign.  The sign was up for a number of months and being tolerated by the city, until one faithful day.  As a favor to the coffee shop owner,  the sign company programmed an ad for Lou Hershman running for office, just as Mayor Pawlowski was walking down the street.  The Mayor blew his fuse, and the sign shortly thereafter, when the city threw every sign law on the book at the owner.

 The billboard is actually still mounted to the building, as a testament to this hypocrisy.   Is it the same billboard firm now hired by the city to place billboards on certain streets, including N. 7th?

reprinted from August 2012

UPDATE:The post above is from August of 2012. Since that time the building shown, The Monument Building, has been demolished, and a new building is being constructed by J.B. Reilly, using state tax dollars under the NIZ. Last night, Abe Atiyeh challenged the exception clause to the new zoning law, in regard to the new electronic billboard contract with the city.  Although that story is expertly covered by both Bernie O'Hare's Ramblings and The Morning Call,  this blog is uniquely positioned to add some  historical perspective and irony.

reprinted from August 2013

UPDATE August 20, 2014: Move ahead another year, and we now have a new building, with permission for a new digital sign. In obtaining that permission, it was stated that the previous building also had a digital sign. molovinsky on allentown, source of critical analysis and historical record, notes here that in fact that sign was declared illegal at the time, and the plug was pulled.

UDATE August 24: Another source indicates that the previous digital sign was reactivated, and remained so until shortly before demolition of the building.

Aug 19, 2014

Molovinsky On Slatington

On Saturday, Slatington celebrated it's 150th Anniversary with a wonderful parade. Although the residents are entitled to be proud of their illustrious past, I have concerns for them. It was convenient that all the empty storefronts provided space for the celebration's temporary souvenir shops and history displays, but that doesn't bode well for their economy. The current State Representative has concerned herself with the past; When I'm elected, I will concentrate on Slatington's present and future.
photography by K Mary Hess

Aug 18, 2014

Harhart's Tricks Of The Trade

Julie Harhart is not known for her legislating. One of her many recent mailings describes her last law; If she was more truthful, it would have mentioned that it was her only law, in her long twenty years in office. Although never legislating, she has never stopped campaigning, since being elected in 1995. Perhaps no one in the state house has handed out more certificates than her. She hands out certificates to any business that has survived despite her, and her inability to bring any economic relief to the district.

Aug 15, 2014

Allentown's Monopoly Money

When I read about the new theme restaurants coming to downtown Allentown, I think about children playing with monopoly money. Of course in that case it was a board game purchased by their parents. In Allentown's case, it's a fantasyland financed by the taxpayer's of Pennsylvania. What would bring a long retired restauranteur like Saylor back to downtown Allentown, an offer he couldn't refuse. What would make a developer like J.B. Reilly finance and setup these larks, your tax-dollars. Needless to say, Saylor wouldn't invest a nickel of his own money, but neither is Reilly. Last year, before one door was open for business, $33million in state taxes were diverted to the debt service in Allentown's monopoly fanastyland.

The surrounding State Representatives, while smiling at political party picnics, approved this fanastyland, while bringing nothing back to their constituents. In the case of 183rd District, Julie Harhart hands out certificates to long standing businesses, that have survived, in spite of her apathy in Harrisburg. On August 1st, my name was officially added to the candidates for State Representative in the 183rd. This blog is both my campaign office and soap box. Regardless of where you live, if you think that Harrisburg is less than equitable and efficient, please consider a contribution to my campaign. Let change begin with opening some eyes and ears to how your taxes dollars are really spent.

Aug 14, 2014

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.

photo from Morning Call Archives

UPDATE: I wrote the post above in 2010, it last appeared in September of 2013.  I helped Emma's campaign in 1998,  when she ran for state representative in the Democratic Primary against Jennifer Mann.

Aug 13, 2014

St. Matthew's Monastery

St. Matthew's Monastery in Kurdish Iraq, one of the oldest Christian Institutions in the world, was built by Christians fleeing persecution in 363 AD. Today, 16 centuries later, Christians are once again seeking shelter there. In the last decade it has been estimated that half the Christians have left Iraq. Since the Baghdad Church bombing in October, some Christians are afraid to be seen wearing a cross; Others have fled with little more than the clothes on their back. Pray for them.

St. Matthew's is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church

reprinted from December 2010. Things have only gotten worse for the Christians in Iraq, many more have fled.

reprinted from May 2013.   The situation in Iraq has become even more perilous. Those Christians unable to leave Iraq have mostly taken shelter in north section of the country, under control of the Kurds. 

UPDATE: I started posting about the plight of Christians in Iraq and the greater Middle East in 2010. The next reprint was in May of 2013, and conditions had only gotten worse.  Now, in 2014,  they are outright victims of genocide.  The Monastery is still be used for protection.

Aug 12, 2014

Rethinking Allentown's Arena

I have previously stated on this blog that Allentown's arena could quickly become a white elephant. Recent observations cause me to hedge on that prediction. I suspect that the recent success of both the soccer World Cup and Musikfest in Bethlehem,  result somewhat from the need for catharsis from the malaise of our times. People traveling long distances with $3.60 per gallon gasoline, to work for minimal wages, creates a need for local escape. If the arena can provide a steady diet of affordable entertainment, it may well thrive in these troubling times. All three of the valley cities are suffering from too much violence and gunfire. This gangsta mentality has victimized most urban cores. With some luck and pro- active policing, hopefully,  center city's perception will be safe enough to not dampen arena attendance.

Aug 11, 2014

Pennsylvania, The Partisan State

It's no coincidence that there are no independents in the Pennsylvania's large State House, the Republicans and Democrats stacked the deck decades ago. Recently, the courts have eliminated the most exclusionary of the rules, but never-the-less, many obstacles remain. Those logistics aside, voter's partisan attitudes remain the biggest barrier. I've met many people who tell me that they're voting for the Democrat or Republican, even though they know nothing about the candidate. While help and contributions come easily to the two parties, independents must make their case, voter by voter. I ask that you recommend my candidacy to your family and friends in the 183rd District. I also ask that you contribute to my campaign, where ever you live in the Lehigh Valley. I ask that you think independently; Harrisburg has done very little, for very few.

Aug 10, 2014

Allentown's Blighted Properties

A few years ago, Allentown decided it had too many low income people, and that they would curtail that demographic by condemning buildings. Hundreds and hundreds of buildings were tagged in center city, some for such minor violations as peeling paint. It's not uncommon to find up to four tagged buildings in one block. They tagged so many buildings, that rather than contain blight, they helped create it. They also confounded the inconsistency of their housing policy by easing the requirements to convert former commercial buildings into apartments. The end result is no less density, no less apartments, but more blight. They are now trying a herding technique. The poor are being driven off of Hamilton Street, relegated to the upper blocks of North 7th Street. The Administration hopes that Pawlowski Plaza and event center at 7th and Hamilton will attract those with a gold credit card in their wallet. They might need cattle prods to keep the perceived riffraff away.

UPDATE: This post from November of 2011, originally titled The Cattle Drive, has been attracting attention. With City Council agreeing to host a special meeting on blighted property, it seems an appropriate time to repost it.

Aug 8, 2014

Playing Charades In Allentown

It wasn't that many years ago that I was asked by the former merchants of Hamilton Street to attend a meeting with them at Allentown City Hall. They were being approached and threatened by strawbuyers, and wanted to know what was going on. At the first meeting the city denied responsibility, feinted concern, and scheduled a second meeting.

This week residents of Allentown are being asked their opinion about the city's future by four paid consulting firms. In reality, the last thing the Powers That Be care about is your opinion. This is just another charade to justify the next phase of their development plan. Although the city supposedly had parking and traffic figured out two years ago, that is the speciality of one of firms hired. Another stated objective is how to redevelop the more challenging downtown properties. In an earlier post, I explained how the Parking Authority was selling off the surface lots near the arena to chosen developers, for more new buildings, in the taxpayer financed NIZ. Allentown will solve both the parking and blighted property problems by simply tearing down areas adjacent to the NIZ tax zone, for large surface lots.

A conventional candidate for the State House wouldn't be explaining how these tricks work, he would be backstage with the performers. Needless to say, I'm not a conventional candidate. On the contrary, I'm an independent, who is offended that local politicians delude the public, and pay for it using public money.

Aug 7, 2014

Saving Wehr's Dam

Last night, in another presentation to save Wehr's Dam, Bob Schantz brought a groundhog to the Commissioner's meeting. Schantz is the direct descendent of Guth, as in Guth's Covered Bridge, Guth's Station, and Guthsville. Also present was William Wehr, grandson of the mill and dam owner. This groundhog predicts something or other, every year at the dam. Sitting toward the back of the room, it was unclear to me if the groundhog was real, or just a puppet.

I have been in training for a major stunt of my own, going over the dam in the barrel shown above. Because the Wildlands Conservancy has removed all the dams in the area, I must travel to Massachusetts, where they still respect history, to find a mill dam to practice on.

Morning Call report on meeting by Meghan Moravcik Walbert report on meeting by Stephen Althouse

Aug 6, 2014

Reefer Madness

Paul Carpenter has a column in today's Morning Call about how Pennsylvania absorbed the Casino revenues, without really providing property owners with meaningful tax relief. I made the same observation back in May, when I announced my candidacy for State Representative in the 183rd District. Not only didn't the casinos bring relief, neither did it's predecessor, the lottery. Neither will hydraulic fracking or even pot, when they legalize it. Pennsylvania's problem isn't lack of revenue, it's a lack of priorities and ethics. I don't know if marijuana will make you insane, but voting for the same candidates and parties, election after election, is nuts. Imagine a candidate who doesn't need a job, or isn't looking for a career. Imagine a candidate who is non-partisan, and informed on policy issues. Imagine a candidate who is outspoken, and willing to point out the fools and their folly that waste your taxes. Where ever you live in the Lehigh Valley, help me get to Harrisburg, to help all of us. I have installed a paypal button on the sidebar of this blog. A mailing address can be found on the About section of my campaign site, Mr. Molovinsky Goes To Harrisburg.

Aug 4, 2014

Politics and Blogging

Easton's mayor Sal Panto and Blogger Bernie O'Hare have had better days. O'Hare had been historically complimentary toward Panto's accomplishments in Easton, and Panto would occasionally comment on the blog. Recently, O'Hare wrote about what he perceived as a conflict of interest in Easton, and Panto took offense. Currently, on Panto's facebook page he writes; What a great weekend in Easton. After a few days of a small group of bloggers tearing us apart and questioning our character, integrity and ethics it was great to be approached by literally a thousand people.

Although Panto may feel that it is his role to cheerlead for Easton, it's O'Hare's mission to be the fourth estate. We are in an era of reduced coverage by the traditional newspapers, and blogger scrutiny is more important than ever.

What would happen if you took a non-partisan, skeptical blogger and had him run for office, you would have me!!  After 20 years of smiles and handshakes by the same person, hopefully the residents of Slatington and Northampton are ready for some real resolve on their behalf in Harrisburg.

Aug 1, 2014

Wehr's Bridge and Dam

Wehr Mill Road goes over Wehr's Covered Bridge, next to Wehr's Dam. The dam and bridge combination compose one of the most picturesque sights in the valley. While the township and county value the bridge, the dam is on trial. Next week, while the bridge is being inspected for possible damage by an overweight truck, myself and some new allies will be defending the dam. While the truck driver was arrested and will be prosecuted for damaging the bridge, the Wildlands Conservancy was given permission to plan the dam's destruction. William Wehr and Robert Schantz, direct descendants of the two covered bridge namesakes which anchor the park, and myself, will present South Whitehall Commissioners with 600 signatures to save the iconic dam. It's our contention that the dam should be added to the ordinance with the bridge, which was recently incorporated into the township's new historic overlay district.

Addendum:  After advocating for the dam in front of the Commissioners three times,  I know that they would prefer the status quo described as such;  The Commissioners have not yet approved or disapproved of the dam's demolition, the conservancy was given permission to proceed with doing a "study" that the commissioners will then take into consideration when complete.

photo by K Mary Hess

Jul 31, 2014

The Harhart Emergency

The taxpayer paid postage incumbent Julie Harhart has been making hay with soft campaigning, masqueraded as state business. In August, she will be holding an Emergency:Be Prepared Seminar and Expo at a middle school in South Whitehall. The real emergency facing local residents is Harhart's stagnation in Harrisburg. She has initiated only one piece of legislation in 20 years, but did manage to vote herself a 50% pension increase for life. Although she presents any money coming the district's way with great local fanfare, none of it resulted from any advocacy on her part. It's time for the residents of the 183rd to think independently.

Jul 29, 2014

Lehigh Valley's Emergency Ordeal

The recent full page advertisement promoted Lehigh Valley Hospital as rated tops in ten different medical specialties. We've seen promotions for their new fitness center at the arena. What we don't read about is patients lying on gurneys in hallways, waiting up to 24 hours to be admitted through the emergency room on Cedar Crest Blvd. What we don't read about is patients being transferred from Chew Street to Cedar Crest, because of limited diagnostic procedures and services available at the Chew Street location. Although I'm no expert on this situation, I do know that sitting in an emergency room for five, ten or twenty hours doesn't help anybody's condition.

There's plenty of room at the new fitness center,  at the emergency department, not so much.

Jul 28, 2014

History Threatened In South Whitehall

The history of South Whitehall was threatened this weekend when an overweight truck went over Wehr Mill Covered Bridge. The Township has taken necessary precautions, and closed the bridge until it can be inspected. Unfortunately, another historic aspect of that location is still under threat. The Wildlands Conservancy is still using it's influence to convince the township that Wehr Mill Dam, next to the bridge, should be demolished. Last year, Lehigh County wanted to demolish Reading Road Bridge, a historic stone arch bridge from 1824. The misguided public works director said that it was obsolete, and not designed for today's vehicles and traffic. Imagine if he also wanted to demolish Wehr's Covered Bridge, for the same reason. The township commissioners apparently appreciate the value of Wehr's Covered Bridge. Let us hope that they also come to realize the historical value of Wehr's Dam.

Blogger LVCI opines on Wehr Mill Dam

Jul 26, 2014

Radio Free Molovinsky

As an early baby boomer I grew up in the era of Radio Free Europe. People would contribute to the enterprise to help spread truth and the American way to the oppressed people behind the iron curtain. The microphone image shown here I lifted from the WDIY webpage, Bethlehem's NPR station. Although Bernie O'Hare and I were guests on Alan Jennings' Lehigh Valley Discourse, the broadcast was never put on their website, as is their normal practice. As an outspoken independent candidate for State Representative, it's becoming apparent that I must solicit contributions for Radio Free Molovinsky, to bring truth to the oppressed people of Lehigh Valley. Your consideration is sincerely appreciated.

Jul 24, 2014

The Fish Kill Coverup

The fish kill last week at the Hatchery has now developed into a full blown coverup, with blame being assigned to the rain runoff from the medical office park, across from Lehigh Valley Hospital. The director of the Fish and Boat Commission says that all dams should be removed, of course his agency signed off when the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the Trout Nursery Dam, which was the real cause of the fish kill. Pennsylvania has removed more dams than any other state.  Justin Simmon's office says that they would pass along the deleted paragraph
Reggie Rickard an Allentown resident who has been volunteering at the hatchery for 45 years said the fish kill is probably the worst in the hatchery's recent history. Initially, he estimated as many as 2,000 may have been killed, but the final tally was about 1,400.
Fish have been lost in other heavy rains storms, but Rickard said this was a major fish kill. He and other volunteers who joined city workers in collecting and counting the corpses Tuesday believe the death rate may have been exacerbated by recent upstream dam removals on small streams.
from last week's Morning Call fish kill story, but as a state office, they cannot take a position on the issue.  That's news to me, that a State Representative cannot take a position on an issue, which might involve a poor decision or coverup by a state agency. I suppose that's the sort of diplomacy necessary for a young man to make a career out of Harrisburg. Although I'm also running to be a State Representative, I'm not interested in learning such a skill; I'd rather tell it like it is, think independently.

photo:April Bartholomew/The Morning Call/July15,2014

Jul 23, 2014

A State Of Apathy

Nobody thinks that Pennsylvania is doing very well. Because of that discontent, Tom Corbett may become the first one term governor in many years. Despite the reality of the state's paralysis under both parties, as of today, including myself, there are only three unaffiliated state house candidates throughout entire Pennsylvania. Although people know that they must think outside the box if progress is ever to occur, old patterns are hard to change. Please take a small step today, and help me challenge the status quo.

Jul 22, 2014

A Partisan Nation

Knocking on doors to gather signatures to run for office is certainly an educational experience. The vast majority of people quickly proclaim that they're either a Republican or Democrat, and vote that way. Never mind that Harrisburg has been broken a long time,  under both parties. Never mind that my area is in a new state house district, and most people don't even know who the candidates are. Although getting people to think independently, much less vote that way will be a challenge,  running as an R or D would be too bland for me. Help me send a message to Harrisburg.

Jul 20, 2014

Contributing To The Truth

Sunday's Morning Call features the PAC started by J.B. Reilly and his partner Joe Topper, to support those candidates who have supported their investment in Allentown's renewal. I was simply astonished as I read the article. Although the report repeatedly refers to Reilly and Topper investing in Allentown, in truth the taxpayers have made the investment, to the partner's benefit. Even the seed money to purchase property was fronted to them by the Arena Authority. The debt service on their privately owned new buildings is being paid for with state taxes. The candidates who they are supporting with the PAC are the enablers of this one of a kind private/public partnership. It's one of a kind, because in no way could the state budget afford any more of this. Reilly and Topper in essence have won the $billion dollar state lottery, they're even allowed to use the state cigarette tax toward their mortgages. At least one of the candidates they're supporting has never had an opponent, in the primary or general election. What are they really supporting?

To readers of this blog, who find it a source of truth, I ask you to contribute to my campaign for State Representative. If you live in the 183rd District, you should consider contributing because Julie Harhart has brought nothing back to the district for decades. If you live elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley, I humbly ask you to also contribute. I will be taking an unprecedented level of truth, bluntness and integrity back and forth to Harrisburg. I also ask that you share this post on your facebook page, and ask your friends to do likewise. Your  consideration is greatly appreciated.  I have installed a paypal button.

Those not registered with paypal can contribute by check or money order to Michael Molovinsky, Designated Account.
 mail to: Michael Molovinsky
              1636 N. Cedar Crest Blvd.
              PMB 145
              Allentown, Pa. 18104

Jul 18, 2014

Fight The Machine, Defend The Beauty

The view and experience of the water going over the dam and under the covered bridge is unique to Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall. Last fall, Wildlands Conservancy diminished Robin Hood, in Lehigh Parkway, by removing the small WPA dam. They also removed the trout nursery dam, resulting in the massive fish kill last Monday. That dam regulated the amount of water entering the fish hatchery raceway during storms. The rain last Monday wasn't so unusual, what was different was that there was no dam to protect the hatchery. Please join me tomorrow at the Covered Bridge Park, Pavilion #2, between noon and 2:00pm, to let the South Whitehall Commissioners know that they must keep Wehr's Dam. The history and beauty of the park belongs to the current and future residents.

photograph by K Mary Hess

No Firewall Pretense

The Morning Call has become an official sponsor of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The article in today's paper unblushingly declares them supporters of the NIZ and Allentown's redevelopment. A local business professor explains how this corporate affiliation benefits the community. I wonder what an old school journalism professor might think? On the sidebar of their webpage there's a video lauding Pat Browne as the architect of Allentown's renewal. I wonder what treatment a future political opponent of Browne's might receive? With the taxpayer's price tag approaching $1billion dollars for Allentown's Renewal, who will watching for, and reporting any wrongdoing?

Jul 17, 2014

History Visits South Whitehall Commissioners

Covered Bridge Park in South Whitehall is anchored on either end by two covered bridges, Guth and Wehr. Last night, the two descendants of those namesakes appeared in front of the Commissioners, on behalf of saving Wehr Dam. William Wehr is the grandson of the mill operator, who built the current dam. He and Robert Schantz, Guth's descendent, presented the Commissioners with a petition of nearly 200 names. They requested that the dam be added to the new historic overlay district, a suggestion which I had also made previously. With over 300 names (including my petition) requesting protection, the time is approaching for the Commissioners to decide if this historic dam will continue adding to the magic and beauty of the park.

In other business last evening, the commissioners agreed to authorize a letter requesting a grant for Wildlands Conservancy to build a greenway in the park. Considering that there were only three commissioners present, no solicitor and no public notice or discussion, I will request that the authorization be postponed, until which time the public understands the consequences of this authorization. A greenway in Wildlands language means a wall of weeds, blocking both the view and access to the stream.

Please join me this coming Saturday, July 19th between noon and 2:00 pm at Pavilion 2, to help Save The Dam

photograph by K Mary Hess

Jul 16, 2014

A Dire Consequence Of Blind Dam Removal

In their indiscriminate haste to remove all dams in the Lehigh Valley, the Wildlands Conservancy is responsible for the massive fish kill this week at the Fish Hatchery. When General Trexler had the trout nursery built, they also built, just upstream,  a small dam, to insure and regulate a water supply for the nursery. Last fall the Wildlands gleefully demolished that dam, removing an important component of the trout nursery. Although the heavy storm Monday night occurred hundreds of times in the last century, this time the dam wasn't there to regulate the fast moving water. Over 1,400 fish were flooded out of the holding pools and died. Last summer, I watched the Wildlands Conservancy give a power point presentation to Allentown City Council on dam removals. When I invited City Council to Lehigh Parkway to defend the Robin Hood Dam, the Conservancy crashed my event, and asked the council members to come with them to the trout nursery dam, to see their wonderful plans. I hope yesterday that the Conservancy had the decency to help pick up the dead fish.

The lesson here is that not all dams are without purpose. Wehr Dam was built to help maintain as much water as possible by the Jordan's Disappearing Stream area. Without that dam the dry zone will be larger and more pronounced. Generations of valley residents appreciate it's beauty and history. Please join me this coming Saturday, July 19th between noon and 2:00pm at Pavilion 2, to help Save The Dam.

UPDATE: The Morning Call article on mcall Tuesday afternoon contained a paragraph describing how the fish hatchery workers believe that the dam removal factored into the fish kill. That paragraph was edited out of both the hard and soft copy editions Tuesday evening.

Jul 15, 2014

The Boat Landing

Getting to the Boat Landing, for six year old boys who lived above the park in 1953, was quite an adventure. There were three other wonderful WPA structures to navigate on the journey. Unfortunately,  poor foresight by a previous park director has erased some of the WPA's monuments in Lehigh Parkway. As the postcard from the mid-50's above shows, the Boat Landing (my name for the structure) was a source of pride for the city and park system. It is located at the end of the park,  near Regency Apartments. I use the present tense because remnants of this edifice still exist,  buried under dirt and debris. Other attractions lost in that section of the park include the Spring Pond near the Robin Hood parking lot, and the bridge to the "Island", plus the mosaic inlaid benches which were on the island. ( Island halfway between parking lot and boat landing). Neither the Mayor or the Park Director knows that these centerpieces ever existed. These are irreplaceable architectural treasures well worth restoring.

UPDATE: The above post was written in May of 2009. Later that year I organized a small group of volunteers, and we unearthed a portion of the boat landing. The next year I prevailed on the Allentown Water Shed Foreman, Michael Gilbert, to expose the remaining stones around the Spring Pond and remove the growth hiding the Miniature Bridge. Two weeks ago I asked John Mikowychok, new park director, to consider keeping these sites accessible. Karen El Chaar, director of Friends Of The Allentown Parks, reports those sites are now being cleared. The battle to preserve the heritage of our parks continues. Please join me this coming Saturday, July 19th, to help Save Wehr Dam. Pavilion #2, Covered Bridge Park, between 12 and 2:00pm.

Jul 14, 2014

Walking On Water

Sundays are a favorite day for park lovers to visit Covered Bridge Park, and enjoy the majesty of Wehr Dam. This particular Sunday, July 13th 2014, provided one of nature's tricks, geese walking on water. Because of the porous limestone creek-bed, during dry periods, the Jordan turns into a Disappearing Stream. Slightly downstream from the dam, the stream bed becomes completely dry, with the water only reappearing past Wehr Covered Bridge. A number of environmentalists have criticized the Wildlands Conservancy for the misinformation they provided to the South Whitehall Commissioners, concerning their plan to demolish the dam. With or without the dam, fish will not be migrating up the Jordan during dry periods, they don't swim well without water. Without the dam, the Disappearing Stream area would be significantly larger, and more pronounced. Please join me next Saturday, July 19th, as we Picnic To Save Wehr Dam, between 12 and 2:00pm at Pavilion #2, Covered Bridge Park.

Jul 11, 2014

Radio Free Molovinsky

Yesterday was a difficult day with the broadcasting equipment. Although the usual channels are still out, the blog is back up with emergency equipment.

Yesterday, Bernie O'Hare and I were guests on Alan Jennings' Lehigh Valley Discourse radio program. Next week the program will be available for download from WDIF.

The list of supporters to save the Wehr Dam continues to grow. Various scientific and environmental types have come forward to support preserving this icon. Mary Ann Bungerz, creator of the Covered Bridge Tour and other promotions as Director of the County's Visitor's Bureau, has come forward to support the dam. The first pavilion at Covered Bridge is named after her devotion to the park.

Although I tried to rent Bungerz Pavilion for next week's Save The Dam picnic, that pavilion was already booked for the summer. Please join us in Pavilion 2 next Saturday, July 19th, between noon and 2:00pm.

Jul 9, 2014

Contributing To Change

I have no allusions concerning the amount of work and expense that it will require for me to go to Harrisburg. The incumbent sent no less than three expensive mailings against her primary opponent. However, if the residents of the 183rd District, and the greater Lehigh Valley, are to benefit from change, I'm willing to do the hard work, but must ask you to make a monetary contribution. If you live in the 183rd, the need for the change that I can bring is apparent, your town has been stagnating for years. I also ask for contributions from everybody in the Valley. Your representative is complacent. Many go unopposed, election after election. It's time to shake up Harrisburg, it's time to think independently. I ask that you make a check or money order payable to:

                                       Michael Molovinsky, Designated Account
 and mail it to:
                                       Michael Molovinsky
                                       1636 N. Cedar Crest Blvd.
                                       PMB 145
                                       Allentown, Pa. 18104

or contribute through paypal

Thank you!

Jul 8, 2014

The Biology and History Of Wehr Dam

The Wildlands Conservancy is fond of telling municipalities that mill dams create warm water above them, and serve no purpose. Also obsolete, by modern design, in Wehr Dam Park, now know as Covered Bridge Park, is the covered bridge. A recent writer to The Morning Call noted the beauty of the water flowing over the dam and under the bridge. The Wildlands Conservancy has said that the dam has no aesthetic value, but they're also wrong even about the biology. Not far downstream from the dam, the creek disappears into it's limestone bed during dry periods. This natural disappearing stream phenomenon makes the dam a moot point in regard to upstream fish migration. What we're left with then is extraordinary beauty and history,  that needs to be preserved. Since mill dams and wooden covered bridges are obsolete, and they're not making any more of them, let's defend this irreplaceable legacy with which we were entrusted.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Jul 7, 2014

Saving South Whitehall's History

In 1952, South Whitehall lost Wehr's Mill, constructed in 1862. Last week, on July 2, 2014 the Commissioners signed the township's historic overlay ordinance, designed to provide protection for historical structures and sites, by cooperating owners. When Wehr's Covered Bridge was designated a National Historic Site in 1980, the application specified 1.45 acres. Whether or not the dam is included in this area is unclear, but the historical significance of the dam is unquestionable. It was the most elaborate dam built for any mill, on either the Jordan or Cedar Creeks. A concrete slab, inscribed and dated by none other than William Wehr himself, remains near the former mill site. In their haste to harvest another dam demolition grant, the Wildlands Conservancy told the Commissioners that the 1904 dam is neither historic or aesthetic, but the public knows that their iconic dam has both those attributes, in abundance.

undated photograph of the former Wehr Mill

Jul 4, 2014

In Defense Of The Irreplaceable

Yesterday, residents of South Whitehall received a well designed card promoting concerts in The Covered Bridge Park. In a recent letter to the editor, Dale Heffelfinger wrote; The Jordan Creek flowing over Wehr's Dam and then under Wehr's Covered Bridge is an often-photographed location that has appeared on calendars and in literature touting our wonderful lifestyle. To remove Wehr's Dam is unconscionable. This weekend as we celebrate our country's history, let us hope that the South Whitehall Commissioners decide to defend the historic dam.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Jul 3, 2014

Dam Hard Convincing South Whitehall

Last evening I again tried to convince South Whitehall Commissioners that Wehr Dam must be saved, for both historical and aesthetic reasons. Visiting that dam has become a generational tradition for thousands of valley residents. Although the Wildlands Conservancy has not been given explicit permission to demolish the dam, the commissioners have allowed them to continue planning for it's removal. Ironically, last night the commissioners also passed an ordinance creating an historic overlay district, including Wehr Covered Bridge. Had they been willing to add two simple words to the ordinance, and dam, they would have been fulfilling the spirit of the ordinance, not just the letter. At their meeting with the Wildlands Conservancy the commissioners asked how to deal with the residents who might want to keep the dam. The Conservancy replied that they must be educated about the fish and natural habitat. I believe that the commissioners must be educated about the values and traditions of their constituents.

Jul 2, 2014

Ezekiel's Tomb

Ezekiel's Tomb is south of Baghdad, in Al Kifl. The tomb dates back to the 6th Century B.C., during the Babylonian exile. Prior to creation of Israel in 1948, 100,000 Jews still remained in Iraq; Today, there are eight.

Last year Hebrew lettering was covered over in fresh plaster, in a process to turn the ancient Jewish shrine into a mosque. Fortunately, word leaked back to Israel and to the Jews of Iraqi descent. That community's history in Iraq spanned 2,700 years, 1,000 years before the birth of Islam. The renovation is now under international scrutiny, and hopefully the Jewish elements will remain. The photo shows Iraqi Jews in front of the tomb in 1932.

Conflicting reports: There are conflicting reports, both about the condition and intentions for the shrine. Here is an article from The Jerusalem Post, dated May 2010, which claims that there has been no damage (recent) to Jewish inscriptions.
NY Times recent article, Oct. 19, 2010

reprinted from September 2013

Jul 1, 2014

Whose Your Worm In Harrisburg?

It doesn't matter where you live in the Lehigh Valley, or whether your representative is a Republican or Democrat, either way, you have a worm representing you. Yesterday, they passed a budget with no pension reform. Two bills, one from the house, the other from the senate, offered a path away from the state's biggest problem, the pension liability. Both bills would have honored the current pension with existing employees, but would have gone to a 401 type plan for all new hires. The Democrat excuse was that it did nothing to alleviate the liability for existing employees, estimated to be as high as $50billion, for their pension life. They instead favored issuing more bonds and again deferring the state's full contribution. The Republicans also ignored the bills, also pandering to the strong unions, especially the teachers. Corbett is not an attractive candidate this year, but credit him for standing behind pension reform. The Republicans in the General Assembly, both representatives and senators, had enough seats to pass pension reform, but chose not to. The union pandering Democrats never considered it. Whose your worm?

Jun 30, 2014

St. Matthew's Monastery

St. Matthew's Monastery in Kurdish Iraq, one of the oldest Christian Institutions in the world, was built by Christians fleeing persecution in 363 AD. Today, 16 centuries later, Christians are once again seeking shelter there. In the last decade it has been estimated that half the Christians have left Iraq. Since the Baghdad Church bombing in October, some Christians are afraid to be seen wearing a cross; Others have fled with little more than the clothes on their back. Pray for them.

St. Matthew's is part of the Syriac Orthodox Church

reprinted from December 2010. Things have only gotten worse for the Christians in Iraq, many more have fled.

reprinted from May 2013.   The situation in Iraq has become even more perilous. Those Christians unable to leave Iraq have mostly taken shelter in north section of the country, under control of the Kurds.