Mar 31, 2015

Suspicions and Aspersions

In the past when I've done a speculative post on two or more subjects, I strove for a cute title, like Bits and Pieces From The Rumor Mill. Those days are past me, this baby now gets the cheap diapers.

Rumor has it that when Pawlowski recruited yes woman Candida Afif to run for City Council, she hesitated because she enjoys much time out of state at a vocation home. Pawlowski assured her that she can continue her lifestyle, and cast votes by telephone. The telephone option has been used in the past by several members over the years,  but only for important votes.

I've written numerous posts about the plans for upscale apartments in downtown, and the realities of that market. I use a dated term, yuppies, for the target demographic. Shown above is Reilly's Plywood Plaza at 7th and Linden Street. I've been informed that the previously hyped P&P Mill Luxury Apartments at 3th and Linden, has turned to Section 8 to fill their vacancies.

Mar 30, 2015

Lehigh County's Good Old Boys Part 2

In yesterday's post, we discuss David Jaindl being nominated to the Regional Planning Board, despite having some history of circumventing local zoning. As the largest land owner in the valley, he is essentially being invited to write the rules which will govern him. We are also watching Allentown's NIZ Baron, J.B. Reilly, write his own rules. Reillytown was created by Pat Browne, with a unique scheme allowing public state taxes to pay for Reilly's privately owned building. Any loose end was exploited by Reilly, such as even the cigarette tax going to his debt service. All along, the enablers were saying that although it's a golden goose for Reilly, the public will benefit from the increased tax base. We now learn that Reilly is appealing his assessments, greatly reducing the public benefit. His brand new buildings, paid for by the public, will pay less tax because that scheme allows him to charge less rent and show less income. Missing from that argument is that the public must make up that state tax shortfall through higher taxes and fees, and other municipalities have lost the tenants and taxes now occupying Reilly's buildings. Meanwhile, back at this circus of public exploitation, our local leaders have a cat eating mouse grin, explaining these calamities to the public. Pawlowski says that Allentown will benefit from a settlement with Reilly. There was never any mention of assessment settlements two years ago, when Pawlowski was cutting the ribbons and running for governor. County Executive Tom Muller supports Jaindl's nomination. There was nothing about that in his State Of The County report.

There really is nothing  new with these shenanigans. Today, we worship Harry Trexler and call him General. Back in his day, he was the largest land owner and developer by far. Cedar Park was actually created to enhance his west end real estate developments, on both sides of Hamilton Street. Although there was no scrutiny back then by local bloggers, I suppose that there was some dissent. Will our great grandchildren call Reilly and Jaindl generals, and picnic by their statues?

Mar 29, 2015

Lehigh County's Good Old Boys

When it comes to politics, I have to admit some naiveté, after all I ran as an independent. Speaking of that effort, several times when I was putting up signs last fall, I was told that Mr. Jaindl doesn't allow signs on his land. I had that experience north to the Blue Mountain, and east to Danielsville. David Jaindl's nomination to the Lehigh County Planning Commission is causing some controversy, because he is by far the largest land owner in both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. To some people, like Commissioner Percy Dougherty, the conflict is self-apparent. Ron Beitler, a Commissioner in Lower Macungie, points out that Mr. Jaindl has a record of development proposals contrary to local development guidelines. I'm curious about the people who nominated him. Sometimes the good old boys are women. After nominating him, LVPC's director Becky Bradley, has no comment other than, We're neutral. We're Switzerland. Isn't that the land of hidden bank accounts? Actually, the other paid development bureaucrats in Lehigh County government pushing for Jaindl, Rick Molchany and Frank Kane, prefer to paint him as experienced, as opposed to conflicted.

Mar 27, 2015

It's Like A Postcard

Last week when I prevailed on some players at City Hall to meet me in Lehigh Parkway, somebody remarked that it's like a postcard. With the creek banks now overgrown, it would difficult to recreate the nationally distributed postcards of Allentown parks from the 1950's. But the old postcards still exist, giving testimony to the beauty that was ours. There will be a formal discussion with the City Council Park and Recreation Committee next Wednesday at 5:00p.m. They will hear about stream velocity theory and habitat from the grant driven new age science crew. I will talk about beauty. I still believe that the parks were created for the pleasure of people.

reprinted from August of 2013

Mar 26, 2015

Bill White Should Stick To Christmas Lights

Bill White can't win with me. I either accuse him of wasting his bully pulpit on fluff like christmas lights and cake contests, or being wrong on more serious topics. Today, he's wrong on Wehr's Dam. Bill's biggest mistake is taking the Wildlands Conservancy and their bought and paid for report as gospel. For his latest column he interviewed the Wildlands Director, but didn't seek comment from one of the dam advocates. He and the director, who had told the South Whitehall commissioners that she would respect their decision and move on, keep referencing the $million dollar estimate to repair the dam. The director, Abigail Pattishall, even says that the estimate is probably on the low side. Anybody who has ever visited the dam knows that it isn't going anywhere. It's a massive concrete wedge, most of which cannot be seen, sitting on a massive concrete shelf. Two years ago, the DEP concluded that overall the dam is in good condition. Wildlands Conservancy and their contracted report by KCI, based the ridiculously overpriced repair estimate on removing all the silt in the mill pond, rerouting the creek, and rebuilding the dam completely from the shelf on up. In reality, for what the report cost, $239,000.00, the dam could have been kept in good repair for the next fifty years. Bill, stick with the cake contests.

Mar 25, 2015

Voodoo Science and The Wildlands Conservancy

Hanover Township and the Monocacy Creek are about to lose some beauty and history to the Wildlands Conservancy, as that grant greedy deceiver rips out another dam. Like the former Robin Hood Dam in Lehigh Parkway, these short decorative dams, less than one foot tall, are no barrier to fish migration. Almost after every rain the dams disappear as the water level rises, giving the fish easy passage. In the drier periods, the low dams help oxygenate the water. The Wildlands Conservancy comes to the municipality with a power point presentation showing how detrimental dams are to waterways. Specifics, such as that the dam is only 8 inches high, are omitted. They point out how Pennsylvania leads the nation in dam removals. We of course would be better off if the DEP concerned itself with the chemicals used by the fracking industry, and other real issues affecting our health. Local college professors are recruited to testify about about the benefits of dam removal, again generalities and site unspecific. It's a sad course of events to lose the beauty and memories enjoyed by so many people for so long in our parks. My associate Bernie O'Hare reports on this latest scheme by the Wildlands Conservancy. He evens seems to buy into their false premise. That's the problem with sacred cows, too few people are willing to see their flaws.

Mar 24, 2015

Robin Hood Bridge, Before and After Wildlands Conservancy's Crassness

                                       photo by Tami Quigley

Last spring I conducted a well attended tour of the WPA structures in Lehigh Parkway for  Friends Of The Allentown Parks. We ended the tour at the last WPA structure built in Allentown, the Robin Hood Bridge. This fall I unsuccessfully tried to save the dam, which was built with the bridge as part of the beautiful setting. The Wildlands Conservancy had a grant to remove the dam, from which they also harvest administrative fees. In a crass act of destruction they removed the dam, and piled the broken dam rubble around the beautiful stone piers, destroying a classic view which Allentown had enjoyed for over 70 years. A naturalist told me the other day that the project even disappointed from his environmental point of view. The stream is no deeper, the silt didn't reduce, and a large portion of the former stream-bed is exposed. Although I recognize and support Friends Of The Parks as a most worthwhile organization, I must respectfully decline their invitation to conduct another tour this coming spring. It is apparent that this Mayor, City Council and even the new park director have no appreciation of the irreplaceable gifts that were bestowed upon our park system so many years ago.  

UPDATE: The post above is reprinted from December of 2013, when it was titled, I must Respectfully Decline. I did relent, and conducted a second tour of the park last summer. The new park director referred to above was only here long enough to approve two dam destructions by the Wildlands Conservancy. The second dam removal, the Trout Hatchery Dam, may well have caused the massive fish kill last year. We now have a third new park director within two years, and another chance for responsible park stewardship, which has been long lacking.

Mar 23, 2015

An Open Letter To Lindsay Taylor, Allentown Park Director, Part 1

Ms. Taylor, congratulations on your confirmation as Director of Allentown Parks. You should take great pride in your new position, for decades Allentown was considered one of the premier park systems in the country. We were blessed that Harry Trexler had one of the leading landscape architects in the United States formulate plans in 1928, before the depression. When Roosevelt created the WPA, Allentown was shovel ready with those plans. Thousands of men worked in Lehigh Parkway, Fountain Park and Union Terrace between 1935-1937. What they accomplished would have normally cost untold $millions of dollars, and taken 50 years to finish.

Unfortunately, the proper emphasis has not been applied in recent years to the iconic park system. I'm sure like your two predecessors, you have already been approached by the Wildlands Conservancy. Pictured above is the former Robin Hood Dam. Your immediate predecessor agreed to its demolition by the Wildlands Conservancy, even before he ever saw the little dam. Although you will now never be able to experience its beauty and sound, you may see its broken pieces, they are piled around the stone piers of the companion Robin Hood Bridge. That broken rubble ruins the former beauty of the piers, which rose straight up out of the water. To those of us with any respect for beauty and history, it was adding insult to injury. Although the dam was only 12 inches high, and no real barrier to fish, the Wildlands Conservancy got its way. As a local historian and advocate for the WPA structures, it saddens me to inform you that despite the prominence of the structures in our parks, not one dollar has been spent on the stone maintenance in years. Major park policy has pretty much been relinquished to the Wildlands Conservancy's agenda, removing historical dams and blocking the view and access to the streams with riparian buffers. The former Fish Hatchery Dam was built directly by Trexler. The Robin Hood Bridge and Dam were the last WPA projects in Allentown. I have the sketch plans of those structures, they were the pride of the city when completed in 1941.

It is my hope that you decide to revive the great tradition of Allentown parks, instead of just settling for a Certificate Of Cooperation from the Wildlands Conservancy.

photocredit: molovinsky

Mar 20, 2015

Saving Wehr's Dam

In today's Morning Call article, the reporter states that he was gobsmacked that the dam was saved. Perhaps if he wasn't the fifth reporter to be assigned to the story in the last nine months, he would have been less surprised. Perhaps if he had attended more meetings he would have credited more people in the effort, notably myself, Bob Schantz and Leroy Schmidt. While that's water over the proverbial dam, there are consequential issues which still need to be addressed. While the dam certainly received a temporary stay from execution, I doubt that the Wildlands Conservancy will stand down. The reporter kept mentioning the KCI report, as if its conclusions were gospel. In reality, it was generalized current dam removal patter, not even applicable to the Jordan Creek and Wehr's Dam. The projected cost to repair the dam was based on conservation methods usually reserved for the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty. In the real world, the DEP said two years ago that the dam is in overall good condition. The report by the Wildlands Conservancy, done by KCI, and paid for by a Pennsylvania grant, cost $239,000.00. As a taxpayer, I'm concerned with the channel between the Wildlands Conservancy and Harrisburg, which allowed a quarter of a $million dollars to be spent on virtual propaganda. I'm also concerned with the channel between the Wildlands Conservancy and South Whitehall Commissioner Christina Morgan, which encouraged one of the most significant features of Covered Bridge Park to be threatened. If the Wildlands Conservancy has its way, that picnic table shown in the picture above would replaced with a riparian buffer, which is actually a wall of weeds. It's necessary to realize that our parks were intended for recreation, not the Wildlands Conservancy grant harvesting agenda. The dam must receive some protective status, so that the citizens need not again defend such an iconic place of beauty.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Mar 19, 2015

The Dam Video

Not too many campaign promises are kept, especially by a candidate who lost the election. Although I'm delighted that the dam was saved, in the upcoming posts I will divulge the money wasted and the lies told, in the attempt to demolish the dam.

Mar 18, 2015

Panto and O'Hare

Social media, blogs and Facebook, have become an unattributed source for main stream media. The recent article and editorial in the Express Times on Easton's new code director came from both these sources.  When blogger Bernie O'Hare questioned both the job history and salary of Sal Panto's recent hire, Mayor Panto went ballistic on Facebook against O'Hare's disclosures.  Hundreds of Panto's Facebook friends lined up to bash O'Hare and praise Panto, including Ed Pawlowski's wife. O'Hare's disclosures became the substance of both an article and editorial in the Express Times. Although the article mentioned Panto's Facebook page and O'Hare's Blog,  the attribution was missing from the editorial .

Mar 17, 2015

A Slice Of No Class

The Allentown Municipal Golf Course, aka Benner Fairways, always had a classy look. The entrance off Tilghman Street could have been taken for a country club. No more, enter Pawlowski and an oversized sign for Jack's Pizza. This monstrosity of a sign ends another long term Allentown tradition. Benner was Harry Trexler's secretary. Besides Pawlowski, who approved of this dominating illuminated sign? The Benner Fairways will now be known as Jack's Pizza, how crass can we get?

Mar 16, 2015

The Morning Call's Favor To Pawlowski's PAC

The Morning Call accepted the following letter from Scott Armstrong in early February for publication.  Then, after sitting on it for six weeks until petitions were due,  they told Armstrong that they couldn't run it because he now was a candidate for school board. 
The wrong answer to a real problem
It should come as no surprise that Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski is creating a Political Action Committee to take control of the Allentown School Board when one considers his demonstrated propensity for dictatorial power and demand of total allegiance of those in his service. Until now, the Allentown School Board has escaped his notice and managed to operate with autonomy to act in the best interests of the district, the students, and the taxpayers.  This will end unless the voters intervene and prevent the mayor from using the PAC to purchase school board seats.
  Those with and without children in the school district may wonder what harm could come if Ed Pawlowski’s yes men/women win control of the school board.  First off, the board will reflect the mayor’s will rather than the residents’ interests. One only needs to look at Allentown’s other governing bodies (city council, zoning, planning etc) as evidence. None of these exhibit any independence; rather, they dutifully fulfill the mayor’s wishes. This acquiescence is the result of the mayor packing these entities with people whose main quality is loyalty to him. Those who have dared express an alternative point of view have failed to be reappointed. Clearly, the mayor’s slate will follow this same governing principle and he will use the school board to build on his already substantial political power base here in the city. The mayor’s political allies, i.e. the teachers’ union, will be given carte blanche on district issues such as their own salaries and benefits as well as appointments, staffing, policies, procedures and curriculum. The fox will be ruling the hen house, and the justifying spin will be “who knows more about education than teachers?”.  
 As a sitting director I take umbrage at the mayor’s statement concerning “the quality of the education provided by city schools.”  The main problem with the Allentown School District is that it is located in a municipality that is by all standards dysfunctional. This lack of proper municipal management has allowed poverty to explode in the city in recent years.  Any school district can provide a quality education to a percentage of low-income students, but no district can do the same when the student poverty rate climbs to well over 80%.  The mayor who came to town as an advocate for low-income housing has turned his back on the neighborhoods. His attempts to improve the city are limited to building shiny new buildings and silencing dissenting voices. We are told the NIZ (Neighborhood Improvement Zone) activity will spur the process of bringing “people back to the city.” Is this anything other than gentrification?  Clearly, it is the rich and powerful who are Ed Pawlowski’s main concern. 
 If Ed Pawlowski’s concern about the quality of education in the city were sincere, he would not attempt to solve the problem by packing the school board with cronies. Instead, he would develop a real plan to improve Allentown’s struggling neighborhoods.
Scott Armstrong

Editor's Note: I found it necessary to shorten this letter for use on the blog. Please contact Scott Armstrong for full version.

Mar 13, 2015

Saving The Queen City Airport From Pawlowski

The Old
When I grew up on Liberator Ave., I would walk up Catalina Ave. toward school, which was at the end of Coronado. The streets were named for the Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and the neighborhood was next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing. Today this small airport is known as Queen City, and is threatened by Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
1944 was the first full year of the operation for the company's Allentown, Pennsylvania factory. Consolidated Vultee handled over $100M in wartime contracts at their Allentown plant where they produced TBY-2 Sea Wolves, components parts for B-24 Liberator bombers and other essential armaments and products for the war effort.
Pawlowski covets this unique part of our history to expand the tax base. What he doesn't understand is that more housing or commercial space is not in Allentown's best long term interest. Unfortunately, long term interest is not a term understood by our current leadership. There is a whole development of started houses off S. 12th St. and Mack Blvd. which were never completed. There are filled in foundations on 8th Street, also never completed. More housing is the last thing both the real estate market and school system need. Likewise, the existing commercial sector has been struggling to maintain an acceptable occupancy rate. Queen City airport is a unique asset to Allentown. If LVIA does successfully expand, a separate airport for small planes is very desirable for safety. Considering Pawlowski's predetermined objective, I question whether he should have been appointed to the LVIA Board.
The New
I wrote the above several years ago. Last week The FAA has reiterated their requirements for selling Queen City, and such a sale remains totally unfeasible. Pawlowski says that he won't give up; He never meet an Allentown asset that he didn't want to sell. Although Airport Board Chairman Tony Iannelli conceded that it's time to move on, his quote is disturbing. "I totally understand the mayor's goal here, but unfortunately the hurdles are too high and too many." Tony, if you agree that the mayor's short sighted goals are in the best interest of the Airport Authority, and that it's unfortunate that you can't sell Queen City, then it's unfortunate that you're Chairman of the Authority. The recent FAA letter also prohibits Pawlowski's planned sale of the fire training tower to Lehigh Valley Health Network. Pawlowski claims that if the Hospital cannot expand their lab on Lehigh Street, that they will relocate to the suburbs and that Allentown will lose hundreds of jobs. He hasn't expressed the same concern about suburban offices relocating to Hamilton Street's NIZ.
reprinted from July 2012

UPDATE: I'm rather amazed about today's Morning Call article questioning whether Pawlowski should be reappointed to the Airport Authority, and the news therein that he was found free from conflict. Pawlowski should have never been appointed to the Authority in the first place, and his agenda since 2006 has been for Allentown to obtain the Queen City and develop the property to expand the city's tax base.

UPDATE 7:00pm: I have been informed back channel that the conflict evaluation referred to a financial conflict of interest.  I never meant to imply that Pawlowski had that type of conflict, but rather a predetermined agenda for the future of Queen City.

Mar 12, 2015

Framing The News In The Lehigh Valley

To quote Superboy's parents, With great power comes great responsibility. Here in the valley, I can't say that The Morning Call has always shouldered that responsibility in an admirable fashion. In fairness to them, most of my criticism is based on lack of coverage of issues in which I have been involved, or on myself. I suppose if you factor in my annoying manner, and my aspersions toward them, nobody will hire me as a media consultant. Last year, when I ran as an independent for state representative, I missed out on the primary election news cycle. I requested, with no success, that the paper run a candidate announcement or profile in August to balance coverage previously given to my opponents.

Currently, the paper keeps reporting that the Wildlands Conservancy position on Wehr's Dam is based on science, while the defenders are mere history buffs. They would rather keep repeating confused conclusions from past articles, rather than update and report new aspects of the situation. So far, that story has been written by four different reporters, none of which has investigated or reported the Wildlands distortion and generalization of science for their own agenda.

Yesterday, the article on City Council candidates reported that Julian Kern was not listed on the primary ballot. Julian says otherwise on his Facebook page, and includes an election office printout. When will the paper correct the oversight, or will his campaign also suffer unequal coverage?

UPDATE: Julian states that he handed in his petition at the last minute, resulting in the paper's oversight.  The issue is how and when will the paper report that he is indeed a candidate.  Today's paper contained no correction.

Mar 11, 2015

A Primary For Allentown City Council

The race for City Council has gotten interesting, by Allentown standards. By that I mean the suspense will be the May primary, when Pawlowski's minions are challenged by the outsiders. There is even one Republican who will be on the ballot in November, a political species not seen in Allentown in decades. As I posted previously, Pawlowski has created a PAC to finance and publicize his intended yes men. To their dishonor, this PAC is also endorsed by state representatives Mike Schlossberg and Pete Schweyer. The yes people include Candida Afif, who sits on many of Pawlowski's appointed boards. See someone on many boards, and you're looking at a yes person. The most viable contender in the outside Democrats is former Police Chief Roger MacLean. Roger has the right stuff to be the first independent in the Pawlowski era, the question is do the voters still have any discretion? MacLean is viable because he realized that in Allentown only the Democratic ticket can win in November. The lone Republican is the old warhorse Lou Hershman. Nobody knows Allentown and the issues any better than Lou. Unfortunately, those criterion mean little to the sorry voters of Allentown.

This post is an analysis of an article by Emily Opilo in The Morning Call 

The warhorse Lou Hershman, a molovinsky photo

Mar 10, 2015

Facebook Madness

When I first joined Facebook a few years ago, I limited my friends to those people that I had worked with on community projects. I had about 60 friends, and I enjoyed the occasional visit to the site. Last year, when I decided to run for office, it seemed logical to expand my social networking. Although it's not my nature to ask for friends, I did accept most invitations that came my way. My network increased to about 250. Not only hadn't I worked with the additional 200 people, with some I had very little in common. Although I generally tolerate differences in belief, with Facebook its pretty much in your face. I have never been a big fan of the dogmatic placards people share on Facebook, not much originality there. I sparred with a few friends, especially over Israel. One guy actually cursed me. Yesterday, some guy put up a chart comparing ISIS with Right Wing Christians and the Tea Party. Now personally, I don't belong to a political party, but I know that even Tea Party members do not behead people. It's time to decrease my network.

Mar 9, 2015

Visiting Easton

Being one of the last warm days of the year, I thought we would visit Easton. I thought perhaps it would be more interesting to do the trip circa 1948. Lehigh Valley Transit had a trolley that went from 8th and Hamilton, through Bethlehem, to the circle in Easton. In the photo above, we're coming down Northampton Street, just entering the Circle. The Transit Company was using both trolleys and buses, until they discontinued trolleys completely, in 1953. At this time, Hamilton, Broad and Northampton Streets were the shopping malls of the era, and public transportation serviced the customers. The Transit Company, now Lanta, currently serves the Allentown population from a prison like facility at 6th and Linden Streets; It just needs a fence. Easton mayor Sal Panto is now also abandoning the merchants for a remote transportation/correction facility, which will entertain the inmates with the Al Bundy High School Dropout Museum. Hope you enjoyed the trip.
reprinted from November of 2011

UPDATE: The above post was written in 2011, but it's taken Sal Panto longer than expected to build the Lanta Transfer/Parking Deck. The planned Al Bundy Museum is now being replaced instead by Easton City Hall, where Sal is expected to wear his high school football uniform. As it turns out, Sal and I have something in common, we both worked at our fathers' meat markets in Easton. My father's market was called Melbern, and was on S. 4th Street, catty corner the Mohican Market. During the early 1960's, on my way to lunch in the circle, I would stop and visit a friend who worked at Iannelli's chicken and coldcut counter in the 5&10 on Northampton Street. The meat markets and commerce on Northampton Street are long gone, but Easton's Center Square is having a revival as the place to dine.

Mar 6, 2015

The Mohican Markets

Once, before the malls, there were three thriving cities in the Lehigh Valley, and some merchants would have a store in each of the downtowns. Some of the buildings still exist, and have been reused; The Allentown Farr (shoe) Building is now loft apartments. Two of three Mohican Market buildings, famous for baked goods, no longer exist. The Easton location, on S. 4th St., was victim to fire. The Allentown store is now the parking lot behind the new Butz office building. The Mohican Markets were owned and operated by Bernard Molovinsky, who purchased the three Lehigh Valley stores from a small chain located in New York and Pennsylvania.

revised and reprinted from September of 2007

Mar 5, 2015

Lehigh Valley's Winters Of Discontent

We are clearly in another winter of discontent. Some winters we have a lot of snow, some a lot of cold, this winter we seem to be having both. I clearly remember the winters of 1983 and 1994. As a property manager, I would drive the alleys of Allentown, between one sidewalk to clear, and another, in an never ending cycle. My station wagon, loaded with shovels, ice breakers and salt, would steer itself in the ice ruts, as if on a children's amusement ride at Dorney Park. Let's hope for a warmer tomorrow.

Center City Allentown 1983

Mar 4, 2015

The Incredible Shrinking President

I believe that Obama was incredibly small about Netanyahu's speech. Although I understand that Obama would have preferred Netanyahu to stay home, once the speech was arranged, a bigger president would have invited the prime minister to visit the White House while in Washington. Instead, we saw accusations about a violation of the Logan Act, and statements about disrespect. For Netanyahu, this wasn't about lyrics to a Aretha Franklin Song, but survival for his country. For Joe Biden to hide, and congressmen to boycott, was just juvenile pouting. There were indeed many aspects to this situation, for both Netanyahu and Congress. But, at the very least, a well informed person offered to brief them on a major issue of our time.

Mar 3, 2015

A Spokesman For Israel

In my post yesterday I engaged a gentleman critical of Israel and its leadership. In the comment section he accused Israel of nazi like behavior, for a unproven  allegation that some Ethiopian women where injected with the three month contraceptive Depo-Provera, while staying in a transition camp in Ethiopia awaiting transfer to Israel decades ago. If some women were given a temporary contraceptive without their full understanding, it's certainly not of no consequence. However, to compare that alleged occurrence to torturous medical experiments by Dr. Mengele in the concentration camps takes a jaded eye toward Israel and its people. Critics of Israel take delight in accusing Israel of nazi behavior.

Although I write about Israel here on my blog, I'm not qualified in anyway to be a spokesman for that country. However, today at 11:00 a.m. on C-Span, you can hear a qualified spokesman. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be speaking on what he believes is a matter of Israel's very survival.

Mar 2, 2015

Netanyahu's Speech And The Black Caucus

My associate over at The African American Clarion Call is not happy about Netanyahu's upcoming address to Congress, he finds it disrespectful to Obama. He resents the Democrats who are not boycotting the speech, and specifically any that belong to the Black Caucus. He has particular scorn for a group of African American Pastors who have urged the caucus members to attend. He writes, This is not just embarrassing for Obama, but for the entire country that a foreign leader, particularly one like Netanyahu, can hold that sort of sway over our elected officials. It's like Netanyahu is the president rather than Obama. It's certainly the case that the congress fears Netanyahu more than the Obama. Basically, the Israeli lobby has purchased the entire congress. In regard to the pastors, he goes on to say, Just goes to show that everyone can be bought.

I  totally disagree with the writer about  the appropriateness of Netanyahu's speech, and who should attend. However,  this post is not about that disagreement, but about an engrained stereotype about the Jews and Israel. The writer assumes that anybody who supports Netanyahu's right to speak must have been bought and paid for by the Jews.  Fortunately for Israel, not everybody shares that prejudice.

Feb 27, 2015

Stealing Businesses Is Now Our Industry

When I was a kid growing up in the 1950's, I couldn't begin to tell you everything that was manufactured in Allentown. If it was telephones at Western Electric, toasters at General Electric, or thousands of shirts and pants at dozens of textile mills, Allentown produced product. We now call distributing all the products Made In China an industry. Commercial Development in 2015 is reduced to stealing existing businesses from another state, or even a neighboring town. We pay people to direct Development Authorities, which orchestrate these musical chair jobs. The tax incentives given to facilitate the musical chairs do nothing for the residents but increase their tax burden. Although having no new product, these Authorities and incentives have become an industry in themselves. They have become the talking points for our politicians. Maybe not as a region or a state, but as a country, we would be much better off producing more, and playing musical chairs less.

photo shows toaster ovens being manufactured on S. 12th St. in Allentown

Feb 26, 2015

Allentown City Hall For Sale

I should clarify that I'm not talking about Allentown's current City Hall, some people think that it already has been bought and sold. I'm talking about the canopy over the main  entrance on Linden Street, and the  CITY HALL sign,  shown in the photograph above. Stored all this time, these Allentown artifacts are now available for the first time in over half a century. Send serious inquires as a confidential comment to this post.

Click on photograph to enlarge image.

Feb 25, 2015

The Sorry Streets Of Allentown

While Mayor Pawlowski boasts of one NIZ success after another, the quality of life for center city residents is dismal this winter. While merchants and property owners cleared their sidewalks, the city and Parking Authority has failed to provide cleared parking spaces, even on Hamilton Street. Quality of life must be for more than a few NIZ barons. In prior administrations, the parking lanes were cleared, curb to curb. Although losing the water department personnel and equipment may have complicated the effort to properly clear the snow and ice, there is no excuse for the state of Allentown's Streets.

Feb 24, 2015

Watchmen For Jerusalem

Isaiah 62:6-7
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, 7 and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

Christian Zionism is appreciated by Israel
Today, Christians by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, by the hundreds of thousands, by the millions, by the tens of millions – today they have heard this call, and they stand with Israel. I salute you, the people of Israel salute you, the Jewish people salute you.                                                                                                 Benjamin Netanyahu
From a Christian Zionist radio station operated in Israel by Stan Goodenough, to the mega ministries of John Hagee  and Joel Olsteen, Christian appreciation of the Jewish State continues to grow.       Christians United for Israel

On May 28, 1948 the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem fell to the Arab Legion; They immediately destroyed the Hurva Synagogue (in anticipation of the arrival of King Abdullah) and began burning and looting Jewish shops. No Jew would again pray at the Western Wall until 1967. Photo from 1948 Life Magazine shows residents of the Jewish Quarter on the shortest exile in modern Jewish history; 500 yards, through the Zion Gate to the New City.

reprinted from June of 2013

Feb 23, 2015

The Truth Of Wehr's Dam

Recent articles in The Morning Call on Wehr's Dam painted an environmentally motivated Wildlands Conservancy, against a few history buffs, who are without much merit. The reality of the iconic site is just the opposite. The Wildlands has been generalizing the science, and minimizing the rich history. Although strong currents and danger did exist at Allentown's Jordan Park Dam, those things were never a factor at  Wehr's in South Whitehall. The water at Wehr's flows over the dam, not through a pipe, as it did at Jordan Park. Although dams can be a barrier for fish migration, the real factor in that section of the Jordan is the disappearing creek phenomena, where the water dries up into the porous stone stream bed during the summer. Numerous local environmentalist have publicly stated that in the case of Wehr's, the history and beauty trump the Wildlands' generalizations. To create the fabricated cost assigned to repair the dam by the Wildlands, one would have to restore it to brand new condition, for which there is absolutely no need. Although the dam isn't registered as an official historic site, its history has been well appreciated in the Lehigh Valley for generations. Last, but most important,  the reports have not included the scenic beauty of the dam site. The park itself was created because of the majestic view and popularity as a destination.

Feb 20, 2015

Lehigh Valley History, A Thing Of Wonder Gone

The former greenhouse at the current Trexler Park was the pride of Harry and Mary Trexler. The General was very specific in his will about its future;
I, Harry C. Trexler declare this to be my last Will and Testament: ......into the Treasury of the City of Allentown, for the perpetual maintenance of said Park, (Trexler) as well as the Greenhouse thereon located. This bequest shall include all the plants and other contents of said Greenhouse (1929)
Although nobody in charge of Allentown remembers, the greenhouse was a thing of wonder. Full of banana trees and other tropical plants, it was a true escape from winter for all visitors. Its demolition was a project that the Wildlands Conservancy would have loved. The park director at the time touted all the money in maintenance to be saved. He then took that projected money and planted the southeast section of the park along Cedar Creek in natural species. Last year Allentown Park Department cut down all those trees planted at the time, and we now have nothing to show for our loss of the greenhouse.

Flash ahead twenty years, and South Whitehall Township will demolish another thing of wonder, if not stopped. The Wildlands Conservancy paid an engineering firm to compromise their credibility with an absurd report, on how expensive it would be to keep Wehr's Dam. I will not let the dam go quietly.

Feb 19, 2015

South Whitehall's Scandal

Although the massive concrete Wehr's Dam has stood for 110 years, a hired consulting firm just told the South Whitehall Commissioners that it would take almost a $million dollars to repair it. By luck, the group that hired them to reach that conclusion, will save the day and remove the dam at no expense to the taxpayer, how convenient. To accept that paid for conclusion, the commissioners will have to ignore the state's assessment that the dam is in remarkably good condition. Only the narrowest portion of the dam is visible. The dam is actually a wide wedge, which sits firmly on a large concrete platform. If nothing was done to the dam, it would sit there another century. The commissioners have hired an independent engineer to review the study, but how independent he truly is remains to be seen. In Pennsylvania, the bread seems to be buttered on the dam removal side of the equation. It's not that we're environmentally progressive, hydraulic fracking proves otherwise, but Harrisburg is pliable to influence. The Wildlands Conservancy has made harvesting dam removal grants their business. The engineering firm hired by the Conservancy was paid almost $250,000 in taxpayer grants to reach their conclusion. The dilemma facing the South Whitehall Commissioners is nothing less than truth and justice. Over 7,000 people have signed petitions at the dam itself, to save the historic icon. These people know that the dam is solid, how about their leadership?

Feb 17, 2015

Paid For By The Friends Of Ed Pawlowski

A mayor being behind the scenes in a city council election is nothing new in Allentown. Doing it so openly, as Mr. Ed now does, suggests that he has faith that Allentown knows or cares little about democracy. Shut up you hicks, and enjoy your hockey.

Schlossberg, A Confession And The Measles

Michael Schlossberg has not been treated particularly well on this page. I have complained more than once that he occupies a state house seat that he has never won against an opponent. I have a confession, I wanted to be that opponent. My neighborhood, District 5 of South Whitehall, was originally scheduled to be included with his State House District 132 in the redistricting. Although that made geographic sense, after the map was challenged, the neighborhood ended up being assigned to District 183, with Harhart in Northampton and Slatington. I decided that I would run anyway, although it meant challenging a 10 term incumbent, in a large geographic area where I was unknown. Anywho, this post was also meant as a compliment, not just a confessional.

Although I may once again annoy my conservative confederates, I support Schlossberg's proposed legislation against philosophical exemptions to immunization. Our children, while sitting side by side in schools, deserve to be protected from unnecessary disease. The proposal would still allow exemptions for religious and medical reasons. I suppose some parents, very philosophically opposed, may change religion, but at least in the process they might become more familiar with the benefit they seek to deny their child.

Feb 16, 2015

Israel Defense Forces

Benny Gantz, Chief of Staff for the IDF, stood on the tracks at the station in Berlin on Saturday, from which Jews were deported to the death camps.
Today too, we are required to deal with hostile states and organizations that seek to harm us, but unlike the past, we face our enemies from a position of strength – stronger than ever before.We won’t allow the horrors of the past to return, we will not allow those who seek our harm to raise their heads. We won’t be helpless when facing our enemies. The nation of Israel will always have the most protective and skilled force. Against any threat, from any distance, we will be fortified and independent in our abilities to defend ourselves. We won’t bow our head before any danger that threatens the Jewish people in its land. The IDF is the Jewish people’s answer to the incinerators, gas chambers, the pits and the killings.
Gantz is the son of a Hungarian Holocaust survivor,  who began his military career as a paratrooper.

reprinted from November 2013

UPDATE: Yesterday, Benny Gantz's commission expired. He is being replaced by Gadi Eizenkot, like all Israeli generals, a veteran and hero of many battles in the defense of Israel.  "I can tell you now, Gadi, I can guarantee that there won't be an easy day. Israel faces many challenges. The Middle East is falling apart," Prime Minister Netanyahu said. "Only the strong survive."

Feb 13, 2015

The Obama Jew

Yesterday's post on Netanyahu addressing Congress received the following comment;

Anonymous said... Please explain to me why American Jews continue to support Obama. Are they blind, or do they just not care about Israel? February 12, 2015 at 9:35 PM

The Jewish support for Obama has exasperated me for years, but I am a minority member of the clan. Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote in his first election, and despite several snubs of Israel, still received 69% of their support in 2012. The Jewish alliance with the Democratic Party goes back to the Roosevelt era. Some sociologists believe that contemporary Judaism has metamorphosed more into social liberalism than traditional religion.  Obama was a liberal's dream candidate.

Feb 12, 2015

Netanyahu's Upcoming Speech

Netanyahu's speech to Congress, scheduled for early March, has become a point of multiple controversy. Did Boehner invite Netanyahu as a partisan to embarrass Obama? Did Netanyahu accept for political purpose back in Israel? Is the invitation and speech so diplomatically uncomfortable as to constitute disrespect to United States? One thing for sure is that there is much more consequence for Israel than United States with any nuclear deal made with Iran. As the United States becomes involved in the ever changing dynamics of the Middle East conflicts, it is Israel which is in the cross-hair of Iranian produced missiles, not America.  According to Netanyahu, “Iran continues to forge ahead through the rubble of the new Middle East; it has already taken over four capitals, Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and now Sana’a. Now it wants to open a third front from the Golan Heights.” Netanyahu said that if that was the way Iran acted without nuclear arms, “Imagine what it will do when it has nuclear weapons.”

Under the dire circumstances facing Israel, I do not find Netanyahu's speech either political or undiplomatic. However, I believe that those terms apply to our Congress members who choose not to attend.

Feb 11, 2015

The Minimum Wage

Although I consider myself a conservative, especially in fiscal matters, today I joined Lehigh Valley's State Representatives and candidates in endorsing the bill to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The event was organized by Alan Jennings of Community Action, and held at the Second Harvest Food Bank. My position is simply that the fruits of person's labor should earn them more than one Happy Meal. Although the sparse audience was essentially the food Bank workers, one by one, the representatives gave essentially the same speech, some even quoting Roosevelt and Martin Luther King.
reprinted from September 2014 
A sample comment, submitted by Wayne Woodman in Sept. of 2014
Fewer than 2% of working adults earns the minimum wage. It will have no real effect other than to make self indulged elected officials feel like they have compassion for the working poor. Maybe it makes for good politics but it makes for bad policy. A fifty percent increase will definitely have a trickle up affect causing those making more than $10.10 an hour currently to demand commensurately more since they offer more value. In the least worst case this will lead to wage and price inflation negating the increase of the minimum. In the worst case, which is more likely, business owners, especially those in low margin businesses like restaurants, will have a greater incentive to invest in capital to streamline their services or, if possible, fully automate a position currently held by a low wage earner. To weak kneed politicians this is preferable to addressing the real problem. Failing schools are producing graduates, if they graduate at all, unqualified for all but the most minimal of tasks. Our economy is currently oversupplied with these workers and for many residents of inner cities, in particular, these minimum skill jobs are their only access to the first rung on the employment ladder. There is no doubt at all that having a job, even a low wage job, is better than remaining idle when it comes to producing a better future for ones self. This type of thing seems to always occur in election years as the equivalent of the tradition of the Roman Empire of providing bread and circuses to the mob upon the elevation of a new emperor. Once again what makes for good politics produces bad policy. Wayne Woodman September 2014 

At the time, I received many comments opposing an increase to the minimum wage. Yesterday, Tom Wolf pledged to introduce a minimum wage bill to Pennsylvania's State House. Locally, Pat Browne supports the increase. With a Republican majority in both chambers, I see no possibility of it passing. My support is based on my experience as a property manager. When the fruits of a minimum paying job cannot support even a modest roof over your head, in a low rent town, some increase is in order.

Feb 10, 2015

The New Allentown

As I mentioned in a recent post, there certainly is a new order in Allentown. In the Golden Era, we were led by the business giants, through their appointed, duly elected minions. I suppose we are now in an oligarchy, again fronted by appointed minions. There has even been a change in the minion pool. In recent years, you had to be a Democrat to win, now you must be a cooperating Democrat. It is interesting to note that this lack of true democracy seems to bother very few citizens of this former All American City. The anointed mayor can choose the City Council, which was supposed to help regulate him. The oligarchy can choose the school board, which in turn can cooperate with property taxing strategies, which best suit them. While a few of us will still sign the sheet to speak out at public meetings, our words will fall on deaf ears and blank pages.

Feb 6, 2015

Allentown's 8th Street Bridge Project

When the bridge was built in 1912, it was the largest of its type in the world. General Trexler and his Portland Cement Company built the bridge to connect the trolley service from center city Allentown to points south, all the way to Philadelphia. Trexler was also a principal in the trolley company. PennDOT is now doing the first major renovation to the bridge in a century, and I am sorry to report it seems very compromised. While the shorter approaches from both ends are being completely replaced, the longer middle section remains. It appears as if they choose to replace those sections because they're not as high off the ground. The broken rubble from those sections, which could be examined last year on Harrison Street, showed dense concrete, in excellent shape. The bridge in 1912 was a showcase for the new Lehigh Portland Cement Company, and the pride of both Allentown and Trexler. If the high middle sections are still structurally sound, I suspect the approaches were also. I've been told by sources that PennDOT is having trouble with binding the new roadbed to the old concrete. In addition to the binding issue, the new roadbed is higher, adding additional weight to the high arches. Lastly, the bridge to being altered architecturally, by removing the signature walls. This change is supposed to accommodate new walls designed for suicide prevention. I would think that a barrier could have been designed and fastened to the classic existing walls.

Feb 5, 2015

Allentown's New Order

Back in the day, downtown Allentown was invigorated by three department stores, several five and dimes, six movie theaters and countless stores. All these buildings and businesses were owned by different people. There were so many players that these merchants had their own center-city club. Three of the biggest owners merged together and operated Park & Shop.

Allentown is having a rebirth, but not in the historical mercantile  pattern pictured above. Yesterday, the NIZ Authority approved another taxpayer approved loan, again with no deliberation. The beneficiary is, as always, J.B. Reilly, this time to renovate small properties between his large projects. With no due diligence by the Authority so charged, and no scrutiny by the press, only this blog speaks for the underwriting taxpayer.

Feb 4, 2015

Allentown's Choo Choo Madness

The Allentown Economic and Development Corporation has received a $1.8 million grant, toward a $4 million dollar project, to restore a portion of the Barber Quarry branch to service an industrial building on South 10th Street. The building once housed Traylor Engineering, which was a giant back in the day. Recently, it housed a smaller fabricator who President Obama visited on his Allentown photo opportunity mission. The business has since closed, but let's not have that reality stand in the way of grants. Last summer, I fought against Allentown's Trail Network Plan, which catered to the spandex cyclist crowd. The new trail was to be built on the Barber Quarry track line. Not only didn't the AEDC oppose the plan, it's director was an advocate. Now they will be funded to develop that which they wanted to destroy. Where do I begin in Allentown's World of Mirth?    Only in the unaccountable  world of agencies and grants, would $millions of dollars of our money be available for projects which are twenty years too late.  The track is long gone.  The only industry (Traylor Engineering) which would have need, is long gone.  The business reality of South 10th Street is now  a go-cart track and the Hive, which is a Junior Achievement type project.

Barber Quarry Branch Line Posts
The Train of Lehigh Parkway
Allentown Archeology
Junkyard Train

above reprinted from May of 2011

UPDATE: SEPT. 21,2012  AEDC And Pawlowski AT IT AGAIN Pawlowski Development Company is currently conducting a full court press on both the County Commissioners and the Allentown School Board to grant KOZ status to the closed Metal Works, the same building referred to above, from where both Obama and Romney spoke on their visits to Allentown. When Obama was here shortly after being elected, it was still operating. By the time Romney came during his primary, it was already shuttered. At no time did the owner ever cite lack of rail service, or payment of property taxes, as factors in the decline of his company. Pawlowski has Scott Unger, from AEDC, pitching the KOZ, saying that the building will have a choo choo train. The track has been removed and scrapped years ago, all the way from 3th and Union Streets. The cost to restore the rail bed to an empty building on speculation would be untold $millions to the taxpayers. Although in the world of federal grants there is little accounting, this would truly be the Track To No-Where. Ironically, one of the last existing areas with a track spur, along the river by Structural Steel, is being eyed for residential use.

UPDATE: February 4, 2015.  Flash ahead two years, and Scott Unger and his useless AEDC stay silent, while the NIZ kingpins spin removing the last rail spur route in Allentown, along the river, as progress. Meanwhile, back in urban studies, it is accepted that rail service is a huge plus as a commercial incentive.  Bethlehem actively markets its former steel property as having rail service.

Feb 3, 2015

Allentown Forsakes Its History

Once again the plan of a developer is being promoted as progress in the destruction of our history. Waterfront developer Mark Jaindl is going to rip out the LVRR Old Main Line, and give the yuppies another trail for their spandex clad bicycling. He has Whitehall, Allentown and the local planning rubber stamps on board. None of them have a clue about this historic rail line along the west side of the Lehigh River. It is simply the link to the success of Allentown, and in many ways the valley, state and country. I have no plans or allusion about stopping it. I will not be speaking to any more boards and commissions of deaf ears and blind eyes. They are even calling it a Memorial Trail for 9/11. A more enlightened community would preserve the historic track, for a future tourist train ride of our industrial past. Instead, here in the valley we destroy our history, and replace it with a sign. This blog will present photographs of the line and its place in our history, for the edification of those who care.

Enormous fabrication by Fuller Company sided at  Lehigh Structural Steel, on Lehigh Valley Railroad Old Main near the Tilghman Street Bridge

UPDATE:The track is still be used, with one client at the former Structural Steel location. That user will be relocated. Meanwhile, back at the taxpayer trough, AEDC wants to spend $millions to lay a track to their empty factories on S. 10th Street, hoping to lure a tenant in need of rail freight service. Allentown is musical chairs, at taxpayer expense.

Feb 2, 2015

Pawlowski's Sorry Speech

When Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski gave his State Of The City speech the other day, he spoke the usual platitudes; He wants the lives of all Allentonians to be better. That sort of stock speech is not worthy of my analysis, but I would like to discuss where he gave the speech. Needless to say the lives of all Allentonians won't be better, considering one objective of the NIZ is to push the underclass out of the new nirvana. What should be a goal is improving the lot of all businesses, beside those few new chosen ones, subsidized by the NIZ. For decades the speech was given at the current Holiday Inn at 9th and Hamilton. With J.B. Reilly's brand new subsidized Renaissance Hotel, the future for the Holiday Inn looks bleak. Pawlowski had an opportunity to tell the owners that they're not forgotten, by once again using their facility to give the speech; Instead, he pontificated at the shiny new Renaissance.

photo of hapless Allentown's forsaken Holiday Inn by molovinsky

Jan 30, 2015

Allentown's Coffee Square

When the staff of molovinsky on allentown recently visited Tim Hortons on a weekend evening, we were the only patrons. Likewise, when we visited Johnny's across the square on a business morning, there was only one other table occupied. Despite that reality, Starbucks will now be occupying the third corner. Although City Center Real Estate Company and the Pawlowski Administration wants people to think that the Starbucks entrance symbolizes something exclusive, the shoppers at Target on Cedar Crest Blvd. know better. The reality is that the existing coffee shops, which are only doing marginally at best, will do even less. Whatever failure or disappointment that visits these businesses, don't blame the Morning Call. They have been promoting the shops in a shameless manner. After multiple articles announcing the opening of a Philadelphia cheesesteak business, this weekend they will review the cheesesteak. How cheesy is that?

Jan 29, 2015

Reducing Democracy In Allentown

As I posted yesterday, and reported in today's Morning Call, Pawlowski has started a PAC to squash any deliberation of his ideas, at both City Council and the school district. Joining and supporting this PAC are Allentown's state representatives, newly elected Peter Schweyer and Michael Schlossberg.  Schlossberg says that some level of agreement is necessary. This political wisdom coming from someone who has never had an opponent. While Pawlowski claims that his goal is to improve the school district, both he and the article omit the fact that the NIZ's J.B. Reilly is seeking school tax reductions on the new buildings. If things are not bleak enough on the democracy horizon, Jeanette Eicenwald announced that she will not seek re-election. Allentown should be outraged by Pawlowski and his PAC, and with the support by Schweyer and Schlossberg for it; In truth, the voters don't care beyond the beer and pretzels at the new arena.

Jan 28, 2015

Pawlowski $Invests In Allentown School Board

Recently, a comment on this blog stated that both the Allentown City Council and Allentown School Board do Pawlowski's bidding. Although city council, with one full time exception, certainly stamps things for Pawlowski, the same cannot be said for the school board. For example, the board refused to give a proposal to remodel the Phoenix Mill into apartments the KOZ status pushed by the administration. Because school board candidates can cross register, there are several Republicans on the board, including two staunch conservatives. Mayor For Life has now established a PAC to financially support candidates with his vision. So far, the PAC is supporting Charlie Thiel and Elizabeth Martinez for re-election to the board. When this blogger interviewed Thiel last year, he indicated that he wouldn't hesitate to oppose Pawlowski for mayor. The PAC support doesn't bode well for that declared independence. Bi-lingual Martinez has been hired by dutchman Peter Schweyer, elected to represent Allentown's hispanics in the state house.

Jan 27, 2015

A Park Protestor From The Past

`Green' Curtain Blocks Sledding And The View
January 09, 1992|The Morning Call
To the Editor:
Hold your sleds girls and boys! Others, too, on the alert! With the planting of a dense cluster of 60 evergreen trees and the erection of a "No Sledding" sign, creating a veritable iron curtain, the park and watershed people have once again undertaken their repetitive effort of the past 45 years to eliminate a most popular sledding slope in Lehigh Parkway. The motive -- crass self-interest in defiance of public good. The effect -- an impassable barrier and concealment of a magnificent vista of "one of the finest valleys in Eastern Pennsylvania."
Children and adults from the 400 homes with longtime and easy access to the slope and others arriving in cars have enjoyed sledding here after school and into the night and throughout the day and night on weekends. Yet sledding is but one of the attractions of this enduring slope. In summer children and teachers from Lehigh Parkway Elementary School have enjoyed a walk down the slope and into the park for a break from book and blackboard. Birders, joggers, hikers and others on a leisurely stroll engrossed in their particular interest have found the slope irresistible.
For a host of others, this opening into the park after a long stretch of woods presents a charming vista and urge to descend. Interest is immediately evoked by the sight of a mid-19th century log house (now tenanted by a city employee whose privacy is further enhanced by the closure of the slope) and a historic wagon trail leading past the site of a lime kiln to tillable lands of earlier times.
The view takes in an expanse of meadowlands, now groomed, to the Little Lehigh River and up the western slope to Lehigh Parkway North. Indeed, a pleasant view to be esteemed and preserved for generations to come. It was distressing on New Year's Day to see a family and their guests intent upon a walk down the slope suddenly stop in amazement and shock as the closure became evident.
The cost in dollars through the years of the park peoples' fixation on destroying the Parkway slope must be staggering indeed without dwelling on other deliberate depletions. Typically, the placement of the 1991 "No Sledding" sign employed a team of four men with three vehicles -- a backhoe, a panel truck, and a super cab pickup truck, the latter furnishing radio music.
ALLENTOWN The Morning Call, January 9, 1992
reprinted from January 2012

I grew up in the same neighborhood and spent my childhood winters sledding on the same hill. Mr. Luckenbach would also be saddened that the historic Wagon Trail is now also blocked off, near it's exit halfway on the hill. I suppose children, mittens and sledding is too passive a recreation for this Administration's taste.

Jan 26, 2015

Allentown's Make Believe Economy

In a recent article on the Lehigh Valley economy, credit Tony Iannelli for a glimpse of reality; "There has been tremendous growth on a particular Main Street in Allentown, but that doesn't always translate to what's going on in outlying towns." On the other hand, Don Cunningham, as usual, had much more smile than insight; "We have no reason to be anything but encouraged." Of course, the most deluded is mayor for life Pawlowski;"Not sure where they got their data, but they obviously have not been to Allentown lately." In the real world of Lehigh Valley, things are not as they appear. While Cunningham boasts of the bottling companies which have come to drain our water resources and burden our sewage treatment capacity, a 97 year old local bottler closed. While Pawlowski cuts ribbons on businesses which have been induced into Allentown, other cities in our state hang For Rent signs on the space those same businesses vacated. While the enormous tax incentives may provide ribbon cuttings and photo opportunities for the Cunningham's and Pawlowski's of Pennsylvania, we are in reality just playing musical chairs. Without real additional net gains in employment, we will all eventually pay for these delusions.

Jan 23, 2015

A Russian Orthodox Corner In Allentown

While the pulpit section of the Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Orthodox Church is adorned with murals and icons of Mary, parishioners may notice that there is no such imagery on the beautiful stained glass windows. More careful inspection reveals that while there are no graven images in the glass, Stars of David and scrolls can be seen. As the ancestors of the current members came from eastern Europe and the Czarist Russian Empire, so did the building's original congregation. The gothic edifice was built as a synagogue in 1909 by Allentown's Russian Jews. The Orthodox Jewish congregation, Sons Of Israel, utilized the structure for 50 years before it was repurposed by the current American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox congregation.

Jan 22, 2015

The Mad Men of Allentown

Back in the day, the titans of Allentown would fill the five barberchairs of the Colonial Barbershop, 538 Hamilton Street. That was when the town had three department stores. That was when Wetherhold and Metzger had two shoe stores on Hamilton Street. That was when Harvey Farr would meet Donald Miller and John Leh at the Livingston Club for lunch, and discuss acquiring more lots for Park & Shop. By 1995 all that was gone, but Frank Gallucci, 82, would still give some old timers a trim. The Colonial Barbershop property, closed for many years, has been purchased by J.B. Reilly. It is my pleasure to present this previously unseen portrait of Gallucci, toward the end of his career.

reprinted from May 2013