Dec 18, 2014

Big Week For Israel And Jew Hating

Burning an effigy of a Jew, parading with model rockets and displaying coffins with photos of Israelis killed in terror attacks: this is how Hamas celebrated its 27th anniversary in Gaza, inciting hatred of Israel and the Jewish people.
While Hamas and Palestinians celebrated their hatred of Jews in Gaza City, Hamas was taken off the European Union's terror list. Benjamin Netanyahu's response; "In Geneva, they call for the investigation of Israel for war crimes, while in Luxembourg the European court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations...It seems that too many in Europe, on whose soil 6 million Jews were slaughtered, have learned nothing."

Mount Of Temptation

The Palestinian Authority unsuccessfully tried to increase tourism to Jericho this year, no rush, the town might be the oldest inhabited city on earth, 10,000 years. In 1895 the Greek Orthodox Church built the Mount of Temptation Monastery, where the devil tried three times to tempt Jesus during his forty days of prayer and fast. Steeped in both the Old and New Testaments, next to Jerusalem, it is the most excavated city in the Holy Land.

related post on Jericho

reprinted from May 2013

Dec 17, 2014

Merry Pawlowski

Last night, as I went to sleep concerned about the impropriety of The Morning Call featuring Pawlowski's picture on the city map, little did I know I would awake to another full page picture of the mayor on the cover of the Entertainment Section. It's time for me to get with the program. I wish you a Happy Pawlowski Day, and next month, when it's beginning to look a lot like Pawlowski, may you have a Merry Pawlowski and Happy Pawlowski Year!

reprinted from November 2008

No Jews Of Libya

Despite having settled there hundreds of years before Christ, there are no Jews in Libya.
I left Libya more than 42 years ago when the mobs were roaming the streets. They were not chanting for democracy or yearning for freedom — they were looking for Jews.
Gina Waldman.
This community, that goes back 2,500 years, has obliterated their oldest minority...They drink anti-semitism with their mother's milk.
Gina Zanzur
After the creation of Israel in 1948, anti-Jewish riots and killings forced 30,000 Jews to flee. After the 1967 Israeli war, the remaining 6,000 were expelled, each allowed one suitcase and $20.
historic photo of the Jewish Quarter in Tripoli

reprinted from October 2011

UPDATE: An envoy from the displaced Libyan Jewish community now living in Italy, was told that there would be no place for Jews in the new Libya.

Dec 16, 2014

Morning Call Exposé On Incumbents

Yesterday, the Morning Call ran it's second exposé on incumbent spending. In the first report we learned that Julie Harhart was one of the biggest spenders in the State House. Yesterday's edition dealt with hiring outside consultants at even more expense to the taxpayers. As a blogger who values brevity, I have issue with the length of these multi-page series. Do voters who choose the same incumbents election after election really read 10,000 word articles? As a candidate and voter in the November election, I have a bigger problem with the absurd timing of the series. The first installment appeared two weeks after the election, but 23 months before the next one. The articles are too late to help the voters in the recent election, and too early to be meaningful for the next one.

Dec 15, 2014

Dead Artist Premium

This weekend I attended the show and auction of Greg Weaver artwork at the Penn State Campus in Center Valley. Although the show was very well done, I didn't stay long. Although the bidding was high, none of the money will benefit Greg or his wife, who have both passed away. Greg and I were friends in the 70's. He would frequent my photo shop, and I would enjoy his loft parties. Greg's loft moved from one low rent location to another over the years. It's fair to say that he made virtually nothing from the art that people were bidding against each other for this past Friday night. Those now benefiting from his mystique, an artist who went blind and continued producing art until he died young, hope to establish an alternative museum for local artists. I would like to see a permanent Weaver collection and designated room at the Allentown Art Museum.

Dec 12, 2014

Prince William's Great Grandmother

Long before Prince William walked down the aisle in Westminister Abbey, his great grandmother, Princess Alice (Princess Andrew of Greece), walked there during the wedding of her son Phillip, to Princess Elizabeth. Princess(Alice) Andrew, later at the Coronation of Elizabeth, wore the habit of a nun. An extraordinary woman, she had founded a nurses order composed of nuns in Greece. She modeled the order after one started by her aunt and mentor in Russia, whom she had visited many years earlier. Born Princess Alice of Battenberg, she married Prince Andrew of Greece in 1903, assuming her new title.
During the Second World War, she hid a Jewish widow and her children in Athens, saving their lives. In accordance to her wish, she is buried in Jerusalem, next to her cherished aunt Duchess Fyodorovna, in the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene.

reprinted from September 2013

Dec 11, 2014

Allentown's Urbanista Tower

Although J.B. Reilly has a lot of experience building apartments, so far he has hedged his bet twice on the yuppie apartments at 7th and Linden. First off, he partnered with Pennrose, who specializes in income restricted and grant subsidized living units. Secondly, he cut expenses by framing the upper floors out of wood. Will the new middle class office workers of the NIZ want to live at 7th and Linden? So far there is no smart private money going into urban residential units. With luck, we are still decades away from such a demand. Reilly is inducing commercial tenants with offers they cannot refuse. Expect to see the same offers to young selected singles for his apartments. Expect to see the Morning Call headlining the apartments.

Dec 10, 2014

My $Billion Dollar Meal

Regular readers of this blog know that it wouldn't be my style to write a restaurant review. I happen to eat at one of the NIZ's new eateries this past Friday and noticed that there certainly was no $Billion Dollar crowd on Hamilton Street, there was no crowd at all. The restaurant itself was fairly busy, but the loud band in the bar area overwhelmed any favorable impression of the place. Yesterday, the Morning Call ran a front page story on the first retail business induced to the NIZ, a printing franchise. Today's headline is that Shula's is moving from the Promenade in Center Valley to J.B. Reilly's newest building, at 7th and Linden. Buried in the article on page 4 we learn that Reilly offered very competitive rent. Another restauranteur induced out of retirement described that incentive as a deal that nobody could refuse. Despite the headline promo by the paper, the reality is that Shula's is moving from the most expensive private sector location in the valley to practically free rent, subsidized by the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.

photo credit:The Morning Call/Harry Fisher/December9,2014

Dec 9, 2014

For My Gun, Against The NRA

As a gun owner I'm an unequivocal supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Although that is a right which I defend, as an engaged citizen I appreciate living in a society of laws. There are rights and laws and we can all live within them. I do not blindly consider every regulation as a curtailment of my rights, or as a slippery slope which will erode them. I can exercise my rights in a responsible manner, without purposefully provoking those who feel differently about this issue.

Each November the NRA sends it's members a card telling them whom they should vote for in their district, to protect their 2nd Amendment rights. Although their member magazine often features hunting rifles, the organization must think of their members as sheep. As Americans we should guard our right to own firearms,  but never tolerate being told how to vote.

Dec 8, 2014

The Last Jews Of Egypt

There are only a few dozen Jews still living in Egypt, all in either Cairo or Alexandria. The number of remaining synagogues outnumbers the remainder of Jews. Many of these synagogues are magnificent structures, and to the credit of the Egyptian government, they are protected and some are being restored. Prior to 1948, well over 80,000 Jews lived in the two cities. The current Ben Ezra in Cairo dates from 1892. The site, once a Coptic Church, became a synagogue in 882.. Tradition marks this as the spot where the prophet Jeremiah gathered the Jews in the 6th century after Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the Jerusalem temple. The adjacent spring is supposed to mark the place where the pharaohs daughter found Moses in the reeds, and where Mary drew water to wash Jesus. It was here that the famous Philosopher Maimonides studied. Last century a collection of ancient manuscripts was discovered in the compound.

reprinted from June 2013

Dec 6, 2014

Village Of The Jews, Yemen

The world talks about Palestinian refugees, but knows or cares very little about the 800,000 Jews expelled from the Arab world after Israel's rebirth in 1948. Jews lived all over the middle east since biblical times. One of the largest Jewish populations was in Iraq, left over from the Babylonian Exile in 587 BC. Every Arab country, without exception, had Jews. The other larger Jewish communities were in Egypt and Morocco. A sizable community still lives in Iran. A few Jews still even live in Yemen.

 As the Christmas Holiday approaches, molovinsky on allentown will open it's archive on The Holy Land posts.

Dec 5, 2014

Armstrong's Allentown School Tax Warning

As there are no media reports of last night’s Allentown School District’s board meeting so perhaps you will allow me to provide the public a few details. First off Robert Smith was re-elected to serve as board president. The vote was unanimous. Dr. Ellen Bishop will replace Debra Lamb as vice president. Charlie Thiel was also nominated for the position. There was a lot of general business to do with policy, facilities, and education, but the major news to come from the meeting was the presentation of next year’s preliminary budget. In what is now an annual ordeal the board and administration tried to digest another ten million dollar deficit gap between projected revenues and expenses. This after four years of tax increases, a twenty percent staff reduction, and general and effective belt tightening. Unfortunately the costs that we can’t control, benefits (which included retirement contributions, and health care) and expenses related to charter schools continue to escalate at an unprecedented rate. These costs are projected to continue rising for at least the next several years then plateau at that elevated rate far past our lifetimes. Harrisburg created this mess, both parties share the blame, and only they can solve the problem that is destroying Allentown’s public schools. So far they have not cared enough to act.               Scott Armstrong

Scott, thank you for the report and your service as a school board member. As for the mess in Harrisburg, as an independent candidate in the recent election, I note that not one Republican or Democrat, including yourself, publicly endorsed me for State Representative. I mention this because many members of both parties privately acknowledged that I would have better served the district than their candidate. Pension reform failed to pass despite a Republican Governor and both chambers of the State House. The real mess is partisan politics.

The Politics Of Allentown

Last night Jeff Glazier made history by being appointed twice to City Council. In recent years as many people have been appointed as elected. However, the big news comes from molovinsky on allentown's Harrisburg bureau. Our correspondent has been told that although Tom Wolf sends his warmest regards to Pawlowski, he thinks that Ed can best serve Pennsylvania by staying in Allentown. Although politics in Allentown has lacked any excitement in the last decade, the next Democratic mayoral primary will be a cage fight.

Dec 4, 2014

Wehr's Dam Swan Song

When the elderly man stood up last night, it was apparent that arthritis was winning it's long time battle. As Leroy Schmidt walked forward to once again address the South Whitehall Commissioners, he apologized for his slowness. Schmidt has stood outside for five months, in all kinds of weather, to collect over 6,000 signatures to save his beloved Wehr's Dam. He explained to the Commissioners that it was becoming too cold for him to remain outside by the dam, and then in a gesture that would melt most hearts, he sang a song that he composed about how much he loves Wehr's Dam. Although the Commissioners curtly thanked him, it was not their type of presentation. They refuse to make any decision on the dam until KCI Consultants, hired by the Wildlands Conservancy, makes a professionally produced power point presentation next year. The Wildlands hired KCI to help them demolish Wehr's Dam. Although Leroy Schmidt is fighting for the history and beauty of South Whitehall, his simple song may have fallen on deaf ears.

Dec 3, 2014

Pawlowski Christmas Gifts At Taxpayer Expense

According to an article by Emily Opilo in the Morning Call, Pawlowski's 2015 budget gives managing director Fran Dougherty a 19% raise. Those interested in the facts and figures can read the article, this analysis dwells on the unsaid. Pawlowski justifies the increase by comparing Dougherty's salary to other nearby managing directors. What he fails to note is that in those cases there are no mayors, and that those directors are in fact the chief administrator. Comparing one municipality to others is a favorite bureaucratic technique for proposing new regulations, ordinances and salary increases. That tide rises all their boats. Julio Guridy, Chief City Council Cheerleader, defends the increase. Jeanette Eichenwald, Chief City Council Critic, questions the increase. Before I end this report, let me clarify that I have no position on the proposed salary; Twice a month Pawlowski sends Dougherty to represent him at council meetings, and it is he who must answer to Allentown's Iron Lady.

The LANTA Santa, 1962    molovinsky on allentown,  where history and political commentary intersect

Dec 2, 2014

Wildlands Conservancy Dictates Allentown Park Policy

In a recent post about Wehr's Dam and South Whitehall, I reported how the Wildlands Conservancy was calling the shots there. Yesterday, I received a comment from John Mikowychok, former park director of Allentown.

  John Mikowychok has left a new comment on your post "South Whitehall's Transparency Issue": "I also learned that the former park director of Allentown, John Mikowychok, had met with the Conservancy, and was bought on board with dam demolishing before he even began working in his Allentown position. This explains how he endorsed demolishing two small dams on the Little Lehigh, before he actually ever saw them. Although I never underestimated the influence of the Wildlands Conservancy, I didn't realize that they were actually inside and running the park departments."michael molovinsky
Mike, your statements above are false. I never met with the Conservancy before commencing work with Allentown on 4/15/2013. Looking at my 2013 calendar: My first meeting with them was Friday, May 10, nearly a month after commencing employment. And, Wildlands was involved because they worked (prior to my employment) with the City in developing the grant applications to PA-DCNR, PA-DEP, and other funding partners. They were the lead entity in coordinating this funding, as well as the engineering of the dam removals and restoration of surrounding embankments. There were no back-room deals, here -- only cooperation between the City and a Conservancy with similarly-minded environmental goals. -- JPM 

Although I consider my original assertion when the first meeting took place from a reliable source, the issue is the dominance of the Conservancy in park policy. Those looking for the beautiful little dam seen above will never see it's beauty or hear it's sound. As documented above, the Allentown Park Director, after being on the job 29 days, agreed to demolish the irreplaceable WPA dam, which graced the park since 1941. He also agreed on that day to allow the Wildlands to demolish the Trout Nursery Dam, designed by Harry Trexler himself. Why should the Wildlands Conservancy be dictating Allentown Park Policy and decisions? Why should Mayor Pawlowski and his out of town park directors allow the Wildlands Conservancy to use the iconic park system as their experiment? Allentown parks are endowed by the Trexler Trust. Outside grants are not needed, especially when they result in the destruction of historic beauty, and changes to classic design.


Dec 1, 2014

Allentown's City Council Vacancy

The list to fill Peter Schweyer's vacant City Council seat just became more interesting. Former Police Chief Roger MacLean threw his hat in the ring, by switching parties from Republican to Democrat, as reported by The Morning Call. Although Council will probably choose Pawlowski favorite Jeff Glazier, MacLean's switch makes the next mayoral race more interesting. It is a given that any successful office seeker in Allentown must campaign under the Democrat badge. MacLean's willingness to adapt to that reality makes him a serious contender for future mayor. The same switching tactic was recently employed by Charlie Thiel, another mayoral contender.

Nov 28, 2014

Protecting A Stage Set Called Allentown

Sharon, An out of town visitor to the arena, wrote in a letter to the editor yesterday, Please keep the police presence around the arena. It was so reassuring to see them and know their job was to keep the fans safe. Actually Sharon, their real job is to protect Allentonians, all over the city. However, they are being diverted to Reilly's taxpayer funded,  part time adult disneyland. A well known restauranteur confirmed that indeed he was given such a lucrative inducement to open up,  that it made no sense to say no. Although center city Allentown will certainly hum with a vitality that it hasn't seen in many decades on event nights, there are hidden costs involved with this theater of public money. If it's the other sections of the city being under served by the police on event nights, or the waiters making no tips on non-event nights, the new entertainment will cost everybody something.

Nov 27, 2014

Blue Heron Blues

Today's Morning Call promotes that their website has been digitally remastered, to be more compelling on the new smart mobile devices. Although they imply the same for their journalism, in truth, the paper staff continues to downsize. Here at molovinsky on allentown, we continue to use our original format, classic if you will. Another hyper local blog just announced, after only a few weeks, that he's closing shop. The young man couldn't figure how to make local news' blogging financially feasible, good luck with that. This blog will continues on, defending the history, traditions and values of the Lehigh Valley. I give no consideration to audience size or financial remuneration. Likewise, I give no consideration to political correctness or diplomacy. Although your readership is appreciated, the only mission here is to defend issues of local significance.


Nov 26, 2014

Emergency At Union Terrace

From a distance, the double stairwell off of St. Elmo Street, down into Union Terrace, looks pretty good. As you get closer, the disrepair becomes more apparent. The neglect and demise of this icon is nothing new, I have been writing about it for years. Union Terrace was the last major park developed by the WPA, and without a doubt, the most ambitious. The amphitheater and raised stage is separated by the Cedar Creek, an incredible symphony of landscape design. The park is now called Joseph Daddona Terrace, but I always use the original names, they have more meaning and history. The top of the main wall of the staircase is missing numerous cap stones. As this winter weather begins, water will seep down into the middle of the wall and freeze. This freezing and expansion cycle can destroy the irreplaceable wall in short order. Let us hope that a city with a $billion dollars of new development can find a few dollars to seal the top of this wall.

Nov 25, 2014

The Culverts of Constitution Drive

As an advocate and student of the WPA, I'm often asked about the stone walls on Constitution Drive. None of the walls there invokes as much curiosity as the one I'm shown photographing. Locals refer to this structure as The Spring. Notice that there is a small short wall in front. This stone barrier protects vehicles from driving into the pit, designed to drain water through a pipe under the gravel roadway. Culverts and other practical structures were common WPA projects. Constitution Drive has several WPA culverts, but none of the other retaining walls are as elaborate as the one seen in the photograph above. Although Lehigh County designated funds several years ago to repair this wall, the work was never done. Such neglect is also the case in Allentown. The top wall of the double stairwell descending into Union Terrace is in dire jeopardy. This blog will soon once again document the condition of that structure. While our history and legacy crumble, this community and it's leadership is preoccupied with the arena and Philadelphia cheesesteaks.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Nov 24, 2014

South Whitehall's Transparency Issue

As an advocate for Wehr's Dam and traditional park systems, I was slightly disturbed when South Whitehall's Commissioners congratulated their park director, Randy Cope, for winning an award for the Covered Bridge Park Master Plan. That plan recommends that the dam be demolished, and that the Jordan Creek be lined with a riparian buffer. Both those agendas are the business of the Wildlands Conservancy, which participated in the plan's formation. Visitors to Allentown's parks in the summer are distressed to have their access and view of the waterways blocked by the unsightly weed walls. The notion of replacing the vista of Wehr's Dam with just a wall of weeds shows no respect for history or beauty.

This weekend I learned that dam demolition and riparian buffers are family business for Randy Cope, whose father Scott Cope, is a director at the Wildlands Conservancy. I also learned that the former park director of Allentown, John Mikowychok, had met with the Conservancy, and was bought on board with dam demolishing before he even began working in his Allentown position. This explains how he endorsed demolishing two small dams on the Little Lehigh, before he actually ever saw them. Although I never underestimated the influence of the Wildlands Conservancy, I didn't realize that they were actually inside and running the park departments.

It's disappointing that after attending township meetings for five months, nobody in the administration had the courtesy to inform either myself, or the other advocates, with a potential conflict of interest disclaimer concerning their park director. In light of these new revelations, it is now apparent that Wehr's Dam must be added to the Historic Overlay District, if it is to be preserved.

Nov 20, 2014

Jew Killing, A Long Tradition

In response to the synagogue killings in Jerusalem, the media has been speculating about a religious war. I'm not sure where those reporters have been for the last 3,000 years, but killing Jews is a historical sport. Almost every language even has special words for the ritual. For many centuries before the Holocaust, killing Jews was called a pogrom. In 1929, the Jews of Hebron were massacred. Yes Dorothy, there were Jews living there long before Israel was created in 1948. There's even a long tradition of killing Jews in their synagogues. Twenty two Jews were murdered in an Istanbul Synagogue in 1986.

What's new is that Jews in Israel are capable of shooting back, capable of defending themselves. Although the world is used to dead Jews, they don't like Jews who fight back. For Israel's audacity to defend itself, it is called racist, apartheid and even nazi. Fortunately for Israel, it doesn't allow those insults to deter them from defending themselves.

South Whitehall Slams It's Placid Residents

Imagine a municipality where the elected officials can announce a 37% increase in taxes, and not one citizen questions it. Such is the case in the burb just west of Allentown. In their defense, the Township maintains that this is the first increase in 29 years. They have been previously operating with a surplus, generated by decades of high end development. One thing is for sure, the township operates virtually with no outside scrutiny, seen elsewhere in the Valley. I think that when the new tax bills arrive next spring, even the normally calm township residents will take notice.

Nov 19, 2014

An Allentown Cheesesteak Story

Readers of The Morning Call have seen several photo spreads of Tony Luke's opening on Hamilton Street. Two spreads in a row showed Mayor Pawlowski and the owner hyping the new cheesesteak spot, along with at least two articles in recent weeks announcing that the business was coming. The same readers have also seen coupon ads by Zandy's, which have been advertising in the paper for maybe 20 years. Zandy's, on the intersection of St. John and Lehigh Streets, is a third generation Allentown business. Yesterday, a reader commented on a different blog topic that the NIZ is crony capitalism, supported by crony journalism. Submitted comments about which cheesesteak you think is better will not appear, I don't care about that. What I do care about is a mayor and a newspaper, who now seems to think that Allentown starts and stops at the NIZ portion of Hamilton Street.

Nov 18, 2014

Allentown's Misplaced Park Priorities

It wasn't that many years ago that Allentown was nationally known for it's park system. This distinction resulted from the foresight and wealth of General Harry Trexler. The general had an elaborate system designed by distinguished landscape architects in 1928, but when the Depression struck in 1929, the plans were put on hold. By the mid 1930's when Roosevelt's New Deal was formulated, Allentown had shovel ready plans. Up to 4,000 men labored throughout the park systems building irreplaceable stone structures. The completed iconic park system became a designation with a national reputation. Move ahead to 2014, and we have a city hall with no institutional memory or knowledge of these resources. We have a succession of park directors from out of town with a background in recreation. The current park budget again doesn't have one dollar earmarked for WPA restoration.* Not unlike Detroit, we will be building a Kaboom Playground, a strategy for impoverished inter-cities, utilizing public planning and participation in construction. While the Kaboom project is the emphasis of the park department, the top wall of the double staircase leading down to the amphitheater at Union Terrace is crumbling. Another winter of wet and freezing may well destroy another monumental structure which we could never replace. Where is Allentown going?

*For the first time since I began advocating for the WPA, this year's budget has $25,000 allocated for an engineering study of the Fountain Park Steps.  Although this hopefully will be a beginning, I believe that the funds would be better spent on a stone mason. The top of the wall at Union Terrace and St. Elmo Street, and the missing treads on the Fountain Park steps, could be replaced with no engineering necessary.

Obama helping to build Kaboom Playground

Nov 17, 2014

The Crime and Nonsense of Grants

Just a few years ago Allentown and the local Chamber of Commerce were conducting Vision meetings for the merchants of Hamilton Mall. While these soon to be displaced saps thought that they were planning Hamilton Streets' future, Reilly and Browne were cooking up the NIZ. On a more regional level, in 2011 the valley received $3.4 million dollars to study development. This hunk of HUD cash was distributed to local agencies, who like baby birds with open beaks, ate it up. The baby birds included LVEDC,LVPC,CACLV,and LANTA. A special director was hired and community meetings were conducted to collect your input. They named this disappearing $3.4million Envision. You can now attend the final meetings where the conclusions are available; Imagine that.

ADDENDUM: There is a mistaken notion that a grant, especially a federal HUD Grant, has little bearing to our pockets. Apologists for this bureaucratic waste say well at least the money is being used locally. If the money is being wasted locally or not, this waste is being repeated locally, regionally and nationally. Grant writing specialists are prized employees in all levels of government. Although due diligence needs to proceed any project or expenditure, the grant process has assumed an expensive life of it's own.

Nov 14, 2014

molovinsky Battlefield Policy

Mayors' Nutter and Pawlowski were recently taped for a Business Matters segment. Both mayors lamented the lack of pension reform as anchors around the neck of government. Neither gentleman bothered to mention that their party, which they fully support, failed to muster even one vote for pension reform in the state house. Although it's easy for me to point out that hypocrisy, many of the other issues I bring to light are painful. I normally support the Lehigh County Commissioners who are being obstructionists in keeping Cedarbrook viable. Although I criticize the South Whitehall Commissioners for allowing the Wildlands Conservancy to set the time table for the Wehr's Dam decision, I admire most of their other good decisions. I suppose that I might be less abrasive and more diplomatic championing these causes, or more political as some would say. My problem then is that there would be one less voice speaking out, and there's so few already.

Nov 13, 2014

County Commissioners Euthanizing Cedarbrook

Reflecting upon an article by Samantha Marcus in The Morning Call, the County Commissioners are hellbent on killing Cedarbrook. Despite a most complete, logical plan to restore it's fiscal health, Commissioner Mike Schware keeps saying that he will withhold any nourishment until there is a plan in place. Vic Mazziotti's rationale might even be more Catch 22ish; He claims that the plan to attract higher paying Medicare Rehab patients to one wing is contrary to the facilities' low income mission, and that it should stay exclusively with medicaid patients. Both of these absurd, disingenuous arguments mean that Executive Tom Muller will have to improvise to keep the cherished institution alive, until which time more responsible people occupy the dais at Government Center. Commissioner decisions should not just be an ultra conservative ideology formulated in a void, but a localized decision, reflecting the traditions and best outcome for the residents of Lehigh Valley.

photograph by K Mary Hess

Nov 12, 2014

An Expensive Endeavor

The other day I received a message on my answering machine thanking me for my effort to represent the residents of the 183rd District. Although the election is over and I lost, I am not too proud to still accept contributions. The district is very large, and to get my message out to the voters was an expensive endeavor. Those inclined to contribute can use the paypal button on the sidebar, thank you.

Citizen Abuse

South Whitehall, at this point, is actually abusing it's residents over Wehr's Dam. Over 7,000 have signed petitions to retain the dam, with 6,500 of them actually signing the document while at the dam. The Commissioners are not being uniquely stubborn, rather the problem is politics as usual. Although the dam has been declared structurally good by the state, the township agreed last summer to allow the Wildlands Conservancy to make a case for it's demolition. In a further insult to local residents, the Wildlands' study is being funded by the taxpayers through a grant. Over $200,000 is being spent to make a case which the residents do not want, nor is necessary by any objective criteria. Additionally, the Commissioners feel compelled to defer their decision until which time the Wildlands presents their finished report. In addition to wasting the taxpayer's time and money, the credibility of local government erodes for 7,000 citizens.

photograph by Gregg Obst

Nov 11, 2014

Re-earning My Certificate

Several years ago Allentown Friends Of The Parks presented me with a certificate for my advocacy for the WPA Structures in the park system. A year later, I re-earned the certificate by attempting to defend the WPA Robin Hood Dam. This week I will again re-earn it by explaining to the Park and Recreation Committee that funds have been allocated for WPA restoration, but never used for that purpose. In reality, I will be talking to a proverbial stone wall. The Committee was comprised of Cynthia Mota, Joe Davis and Peter Schweyer, but Schweyer has resigned Council. Mota and Davis allowed the Wildlands to remove the scenic WPA Dam on the recommendation of Park Director John Mikowychok, who had only been in Allentown for six weeks at the time. Neither Mota or Mikowychok had ever seen the dam before. Mikowychok has since resigned, and has been temporarily replaced by Vicky Kistler, from the Health Department. Mikowychok had replaced John Weitzel as Park Director. Weitzel had secured funds to repair/fortify the leaning wall along the Lehigh Parkway entrance road, but the funds were never spent for that purpose. Mikowychok had secured funds for the repair of the steps leading down to Fountain Park. This week when the Park and Recreation Committee meet to discuss the upcoming budget, I will be there re-earning my certificate once again.

Nov 10, 2014

The Night Of Broken Glass

In 1938,  on the nights of November 9 and 10, the Nazis whipped up anti-Jewish riots in a pogrom now known  as Kristallnacht.

During these two nights,    synagogues were set on fire and  thousands of Jewish shop windows were broken.

Ninety one Jews were killed.  30,000 were arrested and taken to camps, a harbinger of the Holocaust.

reprinted from previous years

Nov 7, 2014

Boxing Eggs

When I was a little boy, I would work at my father's meat market, boxing eggs. The job was pretty straightforward. I would take eggs from a big box, and put them in small boxes with folding lids, each of which held a dozen. If I did a whole crate without breaking an egg, I did a good job. The real adventure was the drive to the shop. We lived just off Lehigh Street, and would take it all the way to Union Street. The many landmarks are now gone forever, only remaining in my camera of the past. Shown above in 1952, is the portion of Lehigh Street near the Acorn Hotel, which is not visible in the photograph. Before reaching the Acorn, you drove under The Reading Railroad bridge overpass, which recently has been dismantled and removed. That line served the Mack Plant on S. 10th Street. Just beyond the area pictured, the Quarry Barber railroad spur also crossed Lehigh Street, at the bridge over the Little Lehigh Creek. That line also crossed S. 10th, and served Traylor Engineering, now known as the closed Allentown Metal Works. Just last week Mitt Romney was there, to rebuke Obama's former visit to the site. Mayor Pawlowski is now rebuking Romney, but none of them really know anything about it's past. A half block away, on overgrown steps built by Roosevelt's WPA, a thousand men would climb home everyday, after working at Mack and Traylor. Freight trains, on parallel tracks, from two different railroads, were needed to supply those industrial giants.

After my father rounded the second curve on Lehigh Street, we would head up the steep Lehigh Street hill. It was packed with houses and people. At the top of the hill, we would turn right on to Union Street. Going down Union Street, Grammes Metal was built on the next big curve. Grammes made a large assortment of finished decorative metal products. Beyond Grammes were numerous railroad crossings. The Lehigh Valley Railroad tracks crossed Union, as did the Jersey Central and several spurs, near Basin Street. It was not unusual to wait twenty-five minutes for the endless freight trains to pass. A two plus story tower gave the railroad men view and control of the busy crossing. A few more blocks and we were at the meat market, in time for me to break some eggs.

reprinted from August 2012

Nov 6, 2014

Photos of Lehigh Valley

Photos of Lehigh Valley showcases work by K Mary Hess, an extraordinarily gifted landscape photographer.

Molovinsky Back On Watch

Between working to save Wehr's Dam, and trying to be the first independent in Harrisburg for 85 years, downtown Allentown has been spared my scrutiny for months. Although the paint hasn't completely dried on the arena district, the first cracks are beginning to appear. While the godfathers Reilly and Topper need a wheelbarrow for their profits, PPl has announced layoffs. Topper's Lehigh Gas, propped up by the unprecedented use of Pennsylvania's cigarette tax, created windfall profits for it's new parent company. The glut of new restaurants, subsidized by their landlord's NIZ, known formally as our state taxes, will become even slower as less workers lunch on Hamilton Street. Add the NIZ new employees, subtract the 300 PPL workers to be laid off, and we're probably in negative territory. Thank goodness that the taxpayers of Slatington and Danielsville are indirectly footing the bill. Thank goodness for local truth seekers that I'm back on duty.

Nov 5, 2014

The Death Of Democracy In The Lehigh Valley

This death report might be somewhat exaggerated, because I'm not sure that democracy was ever alive in the Lehigh Valley. Out of eleven state house races, six of the candidates were unopposed. By now all my readers probably know that I failed in my attempt to be the first independent or third party candidate in the state house since the 1930's. Someone once told me that if an independent does nothings, he still gets 3% of the vote in a three way race, but if he does everything, he only gets 5%. Last night, according to news sources, I got 9%. Ms. Harhart received 60% and the Democrat got 30%. On my campaign facebook page, Mr. Molovinsky Goes To Harrisburg, I tried to pump up the residents of Northampton and Slatington by asserting that they have the moxie to vote for an independent, apparently they didn't. However, in fairness to my fellow citizens of the 183rd, I must confess that I only managed to man 4 districts with poll workers. Here in lies  another advantage of the party machines. The Democrat, with no qualifications what-so-ever, manned the district with party faithful and received 30% of the vote. Although they will celebrate Tom Wolf's victory, that willingness to blindly support any D candidate on the local level (same for R's) is most unimpressive. It makes me proud to be an independent.

Nov 4, 2014

Molovinsky Moxie Time

Everyone must know, no matter how partisan they may be, that Harrisburg is broken. If you, or a friend, live north of Route 22, chances are that you're in the 183rd District. My candidacy is an opportunity to tell the Republicans and Democrats that you expect more out of your legislators. I will bring an unprecedented tenacity to the state house, without any consideration for party agendas or being re-elected. Help me be your message. Get your friends to the poll, and vote Molovinsky- Independent.

Nov 3, 2014

A Campaign Of Consequence

In my unhumble opinion, my candidacy in the 183rd District is the most interesting choice in the valley for the voters tomorrow. We know that a Republican incumbent who has held a seat for twenty years, but isn't known for legislating, has been there for 16 years too many. Although the Democratic challenger has a party machine working for her, she has no credentials on her own. Local Lower Macungie Commissioner Ron Beitler supports me, but wonders if the voters have the right stuff to go beyond the normal two party choice? I believe that they do! There's a self sufficiently in those long miles between the houses in the large district. If they come out to vote, they would just as soon make it meaningful.

Oct 30, 2014

Trusted Poll Sidekicks Needed

If you could help out for a couple hours on Tuesday Election Day, please contact me. Being an independent, there's no party faithful to blindly donate, canvass or work at the polls. It also means that there are no special interests, obligations or agendas that I must accommodate in Harrisburg. My votes will be simply for the people's best interest, each and every time. Contact me by email at mmolovinsky@aol or phone at 610 395-1815. Thank you.

Oct 29, 2014

Lehigh Valley's Political Malaise

Last night I attended the Candidate's Meet and Greet, hosted by the Northampton Chapter of The League Of Women Voters. Between the media not giving this event proper publicity, and the public malaise, it was sparsely attended. That didn't stop local representatives Steve Samuelson and Bob Freeman from giving a long stump speech, as if on auto-robot. These well pressed suits are on their 9th term, unopposed. Some people wonder if they might be wasting their vote on an independent. In this valley, it would be the most meaningful vote they could cast.

Oct 28, 2014

North Of Route 22

If you have a family member or friend who lives north of 22, south of the Blue Mountain, and between Slatington and Bath, chances are that they live in the 183rd District. Please do both of us a favor, and tell them to vote Molovinsky-Independent next Tuesday. There's no party members knocking on doors for me, but there's a real opportunity for some change in Harrisburg. The 10 term Republican incumbent only concentrates on getting re-elected.  The Democrat simply needs a job. The former will bring nothing new to the table, the latter  has nothing at all to bring to the table.  This blog is an archive on my community activism for many years, and my application for election. Please reach out to your friends and family on my behalf. We have the right stuff to be uniquely issue orientated and elect an independent to Harrisburg, instead of the usual partisan agendas. Thank you.

Oct 27, 2014

Political Low Hanging Fruit

If it's kissing a baby or encouraging seniors to vote for them with absentee ballots, both our young and old are only props and pawns for the established political machine. Recently, I have been reporting on the machination at Luther Crest, where Ryan Mackenzie 134th, attempted to pass the baton to Julie Harhart 183rd, putting that facility in violation of it's 501C charter. If the residents of a premiere continuing care facility like Luther Crest are victimized and manipulated by incomplete voter information, despite explicit IRS rules pertaining to non-profit institutions, what shenanigans occur  at the lesser regarded nursing homes? Who protects the seniors from the very politicians who are supposed to represent them? In the ideal world, it would be the custodians of these nursing homes, who would make sure that the residents are given full information about their cherished voting options. In the real world, the managers of these nursing homes acquiesce to the influence of the career politicians. As I write this post, I am also filling out formal complaints about this one incident of election suppression which was visited upon Luther Crest by the hubris of the incumbents. Although there will be no remedy for the Luther Crest residents within the eight days until the election, perhaps my action will help some nursing home residents next year have full access to their voting options. Our elderly take their right to vote very seriously, so should their caretakers.

Oct 24, 2014

The Hubris Of Harrisburg

Our representatives in Harrisburg have not been doing a good job of guarding against arrogance, in addition to the their poor performance as legislators. When Ryan MacKenzie allowed Julie Harhart to attend the Senior Expo at Luther Crest on September 19th, he knowingly put Luther Crest in jeopardy regarding their tax-exempt political requirements. Ryan knew that the Luther Crest residents would find Harhart on the ballot come November 4th, not himself. As if redistricting and gerrymandering isn't egregious enough, they thought that they could pass the crown with no consequence. The regulations clearly state that all candidates for an upcoming election must be present, or subsequently invited. Between Mackenzie having no opponent for his election, and Harhart running for her 11th term, they think that they own those seats in Harrisburg. The seats belong to the people, and should be occupied by those who don't take that privilege for granted.

Elder Issues In Lehigh Valley

Over forty years ago, I did a series of photographs that were used by PBS39 for a program entitled Accent On Aging. Now, over four decades later, it pains me to still see elder issues in our communities. The Lehigh Valley Commissioners have cut the budget funds which were intended to modernize Cedarbrook. This modernization is necessary for several reasons. First and foremost, it would make Cedarbrook competitive in the rehabilitation field, which in turn would enhance it's economic viability. Secondly, it would indicate a commitment by the Commissioners, which is in serious doubt.

In nursing home options, the opposite of the county's Cedarbrook might be the exclusive Luther Crest in South Whitehall. As I posted yesterday, I have been denied entry as a candidate, despite Julie Harhart's appearance there five weeks ago. I'll let that post serve as a discussion place for the legal and political issues, but will make an observation here about Luther Crest. I was somewhat shocked that generally there are only two events on their monthly calendar, and that management would be deciding what information is made available for the residents, who are a former Who's Who of the valley business world.

Oct 22, 2014

Political Gate-keeping At Luther Crest

Although the residents of South Whitehall's Luther Crest are politically sophisticated, this year is particularly confusing. After having been part of the 134th state house district for over 20 years, this year for the first time residents will be voting for the 183rd representative, although they're still currently represented by Ryan MacKenzie of the 134th. Ryan, being a good Republican, had Julie Harhart, the 183rd incumbent, at Luther Crest's Senior Expo last month. Needless to say, both Republicans knew that they were attempting to pass the mantle with soft campaigning. As the independent candidate I have been unsuccessfully trying to gain access to the Luther Crest community room since early Monday morning. I believe that the residents of this exclusive community would not be happy to know that information about all their upcoming voting options is being stopped at the door by management.

UPDATE: Under IRS rules pertaining to non-profits and political candidates, because Julie Harhart appeared there in September, and she's not the state representative for Luther Crest, but an active candidate to be the state representative for Luther Crest,  I must now also be permitted equal access.

Vanilla or Chocolate, The Sad Lack of Political Choice

Yesterday, some fella came on to my campaign site, Mr. Molovinsky Goes To Harrisburg, and asked why I'm any different than the Republican. I replied that it was a strange question, considering that recently the former chair of the Republican party accused me of having Democratic positions. Within another two questions, it was very apparent that this visitor to my site was in fact a junior political operative cadet. After a visit to his page revealed a picture of Tom Wolf as his cover photo,  operative in training pants was dispatched. The trainee then reported the results of his mission to Terri Powells' Campaign page. Another pack member then congratulated her on being the only candidate in the debate who answered all the questions.

The Morning Call article on the debate accurately reported that I questioned several of the questions. The article made it less clear that after my editorials, I did in fact answer every question. In the case of the student loan question, I replied that there are different colleges available with a large range of  tuitions. I feel that if one contracts a loan, or a mortgage, it is an obligation that should be met. Furthermore, honoring those obligations is educational in itself.

It's sad that the political machine is Pennsylvania is spending a 100 $million dollars to give most voters only two choices for each position. That wouldn't be much of an ice cream parlor, regardless of how fancy it might be. It's my honor to give the voters of the 183rd District a real choice.

CORRECTION: In the majority of the State Representative races, 6 out of 11, there are no choices, the incumbents are unopposed.