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 consequently 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.

Oct 21, 2014

Molovinsky WPA Mini Tour

Many long time readers know that several years I started a group whose mission is to help preserve the WPA structures in the Allentown Park System. Consequently, I led two tours of Lehigh Parkway, in conjunction with Friends Of The Allentown Parks. This coming Saturday, October 25th, again in conjunction with Friends, I will be directing college volunteers to help clear some structures. While there, between 9 and 11-am, I'll be glad to conduct a mini tour of several sites. We will be meeting at the Robin Hood parking lot at 9:00-am, and concentrating on that side of the creek.

Oct 20, 2014

Molovinsky Stands Out

Independent candidate Michael Molovinsky may be a long shot for the 183rd state house district, but he had little trouble standing out in a three-way candidate debate Saturday morning. The candidate, known best for his "Molovinsky on Allentown" blog and persistence on infrastructure and environmental issues, combined confidence and bold, stylistic responses to questions posed by hosts from the League of Women Voters of Northampton County.Samantha Marcus/The Morning Call/Oct.20,2014
I agree with The Morning Call that I outshone my opponents,  but believe that my odds of being elected are much better than the paper indicated. Although it is true that independents are at a disadvantage of not having a party machine and money behind them, the people have had enough of politics as usual. They realize that Harrisburg is broken, with either Republicans or Democrats. They realize that the incumbent has been there long enough, and it's time for a change. They realize that too much of their taxes have been going to the large cities, and that they're not getting their fair share. They realize that I have the tenacity to stand up for them in Harrisburg.

Oct 16, 2014

Another Oversize Postcard And Fib By Julie

Voters in the 183rd District received another oversize card and fib by Julie Harhart. In the latest fib, Julie portrays herself as an independent leader, working for educational funding in Pennsylvania. Very small print reveals that the very large card was paid for by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, where Julie is known as a chair warming rubber stamp, certainly not a leader.

Oct 15, 2014

The Politics Of Wehr's Dam, 2

The South Whitehall Historic Overlay District resulted from about 1,000 signatures to save the King George Inn. Currently, there are 5,000 signatures to save Wehr's Dam, of which 4,600 were collected at the dam itself. The recent public meeting and power point presentation conducted by the Wildlands Conservancy on dam removals, was requested by the President of the South Whitehall Commissioners. When the Overlay District was enacted, I suggested that "and dam" be added to the Wehr's Covered Bridge listing.  The solicitor chimed in that such changes were not permitted at the ordinance reading; Actually, that is the exact legal reason for the final reading. The Commissioners have used every conceivable excuse and cover since June to protect the agenda of the Wildlands Conservancy. It's apparently incumbent upon the people of South Whitehall to now protect their park.

photograph by K Mary Hess

Oct 14, 2014

The Politics Of Wehr's Dam

Taking on the influence of the Wildlands Conservancy is no easy task. Their sponsors and donors are a who's who of Lehigh Valley, but that doesn't make them correct on every issue and endeavor. Although they may be a sacred cow, there are other things precious in this valley, such as our parks. Allentown's two recent park directors were from out of town, with no knowledge or feel for local history or tradition. The first one was given an award for his cooperation with the Conservancy. The second one, although he only stayed for about a year, is quoted on their website. That gentleman endorsed the demolition of the Parkway's Robin Hood Dam, after being in town for only several weeks. In Allentown, many local residents are upset about the riparian buffers in the parks, a Wildlands Project. These buffers block both view and access to the creeks, but because the storm runoff is piped directly into the streams, they serve no purpose. Just as the science of buffers isn't site specific to Allentown parks, their rationale for dam removals have also been generalized. This generalization was very blatant in regard to the Robin Hood Dam, which was only 14 inches high. Combine a sacred cow, with generalizations and a brand new from out of town park director, and you lose an historical structure of beauty forever.

Beauty and history is what Wehr's Dam in Covered Bridge Park is about. Last June, Wildlands told the South Whitehall Commissioners that the dam was neither aesthetic or historical. That distortion of fact has now awakened over 5,000 people, who beg to differ with the Conservancy. I personally don't believe that their conservation projects are appropriate to our parks. There are millions of acres of stream front in the state to conserve. I believe that the public, and especially children, are entitled to the stream side experience that differentiates parks from wildlands. The children are also entitled to the history of their parks, if it is a WPA dam from 1941, or a mill dam from 1904.

photograph by Gregg Obst

Oct 13, 2014

The Wildlands Conservancy Fakes Science

Chris Kocher, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, forgot to mention in a recent editorial that they will arrogantly fake and lie about the science, if it moves their agenda forward. Their current agenda is demolishing Wehr's Dam in South Whitehall's Covered Bridge Park, but lets examine their destruction in Allentown's Lehigh Parkway. I have a copy of the original 1940 rendering of the Robin Hood Bridge and Dam. This was the last WPA project in Allentown, and the city took great pride in it's design. The bridge piers and approach walls were designed to match and merge with the magnificent WPA stone walls, built in the park between 1935-37. The small dam, only 14 inches high, was no barrier to any self-respecting fish. The Wildlands testified in front of Allentown City Council that the dam was prohibiting fish migration with their canned speech about being experts on such things, never mind thousands of fisherman in the Parkway for 80 years. They also removed the Trout Nursery Dam, contributing to the kill of 2.000 fish this summer, but I digress. The firm hired to prepare the Covered Bridge Master Plan clearly states that removing the dam may very well increase flooding, as untold tons of silt change the downstream bed. The current firm, hired by Wildlands, calls that potential flooding a myth; Science to fit the agenda. Back to Lehigh Parkway. Although it is not my normal format to use two photographs in one blog post, the before and after views of Robin Hood Bridge are a tragedy. Before the Wildlands, the stone bridge piers raised photographically out of the water, a beautiful sight pleasing park goers for over 70years. After demolishing the dam, the Wildlands broke up the concrete and had the rubble placed around the bridge piers, despoiling the the vista forever.

top photograph by Tami Quigley

Oct 11, 2014

South Whitehall Commissioners Double Down On Master Plan

It's the year 2030, and a young girl asks her mom if they can go to Playworld's Plastic Playground. As they enter the parking lot, the mother tells her daughter that right beyond that large swath of trees and bushes, is where she played as a girl with grandmother.
  Why did you play there? the girl asks
  Grandmom used to like and sit and look at the dam, the mother replies
  What's a dam?
  It's a wall that the creek water would flow over.
  Is there a creek there mom?

In January of 2014 the South Whitehall Commissioners adopted the Covered Bridge Park Master Plan. It was an expensive plan created by a landscape architectural firm in tandem with input from the Wildlands Conservancy. The public input meetings were either sparsely attended or not at all. What emerged is a unimaginative hodge podge of contemporary environmental hocus pocus and catalog recreational tubberware. What is gone is the beautiful park, enjoyed by generations of township residents. The environmentalists would demolish the dam and replace the vista with a 75 foot wide riparian buffer. This buffer would run the entire length of creek, leaving only a glimpse of the creek as residents cross one of the three bridges. Former icons of the park, such as the dam, would be represented by interpretive signs. A huge playground, featuring Playworld equipment, would be the park's new centerpiece, replacing the current beauty and history.

Enter the Wildlands Conservancy in June of 2014, realizing that the Commissioners are invested both financially and mentally into the Master Plan. Out of this opportunity, they declare that demolishing Wehr's Dam is now their highest priority. We who are defending Wehr's Dam are here to tell you that like water over the dam, the money spent on the Master Plan is gone. However, we will not allow the beautiful park to be lost to our children and grandchildren, just to accommodate the Wildlands Conservancy's agenda.
photograph by Mary K Hess

Oct 10, 2014

South Whitehall And Wildlands Mislead Public

It's becoming clear that the public is being mislead by not only the Wildlands Conservancy, but also by their own Commissioners. In Thursday's editorial, Chris Kocher, Executive Director of the Wildlands stated that the master-plan for the park has the dam removed. What he and the Commissioners fail to acknowledge is that this master-plan was created in conjunction with the Wildlands.  So, currently the Wildlands and Commissioners are justifying removing the dam, based on a master plan inputed by the Wildlands. In the dog and pony show called government, they would retort that there was public input to the plan. At last night's presentation, they distributed a public questionnaire, hoping once again to actually use the objectors present, as public input to justify their agenda. I left in protest. If all this isn't disingenuous enough, the dam removal director, Abigail Pattishall, told me last night that Koch's editorial was misinformation.

Both the Commissioners and the Wildlands are ignoring the DEP report that states that overall, the dam is in good condition. The Wildlands' hired engineer tried to dismiss that report, by saying that their study is much more thorough. Although the water is only several inches deep, they actually brought in a scuba diver. The dam officially stands or falls by degree of the DEP, which has no problem with it. The problem is the agenda of the Wildlands, and the complicity of the Commissioners.

Oct 9, 2014

An Open Letter To Lehigh County Commissioners

Although the state mandates prisons, and no such mandate exists for nursing homes, I believe that a sacred covenant exists between the county and it's elderly, to maintain Cedarbrook. Northampton has a very old prison and a modern nursing home. Here in Lehigh County, we have a modern high rise prison and a very old nursing home. Prisoners in Lehigh County have nicer amenities than the patients at it's nursing home. What's wrong with that picture, what's wrong with those priorities?
UPDATE: I fully support County Executive Tom Muller's plan to renovate a wing of the Cedarbrook into private and semi-private rooms.  His analysis has the project paying for itself within three years, by attracting rehabilitation residents.  Instead of pursuing this viable turn around project, the Commissioners would rather explore the sale option.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Oct 8, 2014

Lehigh County Poor House

The Lehigh County Alms House, or poor house, goes back to the 1840's. Today, 175 years later, now known as Cedarbrook Nursing Home, the residents are still fighting for their dignity. A few years ago I visited the county pauper's grave-field. It is now separated from the nursing home by the 309 highway at Hamilton Blvd. Although the name of Cedarbrook has changed over the many years, nobody ever chose to become old and poor.

Oct 7, 2014

Julie's Big Fib

Julie Harhart's oversized card contains an oversized lie of omission. While she claims that she voted against a pay raise for state representatives, she omits the fact that she voted for a 50% increase to her pension payments, for life. Although she claims that she has a proven record for jobs and small businesses, the empty storerooms along the main street in Slatington and Northampton prove otherwise. In very small print we learn that the mailing was paid for by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. I hope to send one mailing, paid for by the people of Lehigh Valley. Please consider using the paypal button the the sidebar, to help me inform the voters that they now have an alternative to politics as usual in Harrisburg. Thank you.

Oct 6, 2014

The Party Machines

I've worked with a local Democratic activist on several causes who would like to think of herself as bipartisan. When I asked her why she was working for my Democratic opponent, Terri Powells, she stammered and said that she and Terri met Michele Obama together. Powells herself, lists her experience as having campaigned for Barack Obama. Apparently, in Democratic circles, having worked on a campaign counts as relevant experience. She is also being endorsed by some unions, although she never actually worked on an issue. Likewise, local Democratic promoter Sam Bennett has held fund raisers for her. All the local elected officials and advocates know me from my involvement in one issue or another for the last two decades, although none has crossed party lines and publicly endorsed me. I've been told that when they close the curtain, they vote their true choice. I don't think that's good enough. I think that's why Harrisburg is paralyzed. I ask those, in and beyond the 183rd District, who want more choice politically, to contribute to my campaign. I have installed a paypal button on the sidebar, thank you.

Oct 5, 2014

The Heart Of Harhart Country

Harhart family businesses dominate the main intersection in Northampton. While Northampton has been good to the family, it's not apparent that Julie Harhart's twenty year reign as State Representative has been good to the 183rd District. While she rubber stamps $billions of dollars in Harrisburg going to Pennsylvania's large cities, the smaller towns in her district haven't received their share. I erected a billboard in Northampton, close to the entrance of her office, to let the citizens know that an alternative is available. They may decide to allow Julie to retire this year, and start receiving the 50% increase in pension that she voted for herself.

Oct 3, 2014

The Culture Of Harrisburg

Today, before any revelations about pornographic emails, I intended to write about Pennsylvania's DEP. One must wonder exactly who they have been protecting? Opponents of hydraulic fracturing are dubious about the oversight at the drill sites. Considering the resources and influence of the gas companies, plus the economic benefits to portions of the state, the suspicions of the opponents are very well justified. In this current election cycle, the politicians on both sides of the aisle only concern themselves with the tax equation, nobody talks about public health concerns. This blog has been questioning the DEP for years. While sewage overflows along the Little Lehigh for years, repair plans keep being extended, rather than implemented. Pennsylvania has torn down more dams than any other state in the country. Are we more environmentally progressive than Washington state or California, or just less discriminating with approvals? Locally, the Wildlands Conservancy has a pipeline of grants from the state's DEP, destroying our parks under the disguise of stream improvement. The indiscriminate demolition of the Trout Nursery Dam contributed to the unprecedented fish kill this summer. Like the Girls Gone Wild videos, Harrisburg has been wild for years. Notice I mentioned both sides of the isle. That's part of the problem, there should be more than just two sides. I'm an Independent, fed up with the culture of Harrisburg.

Oct 2, 2014

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's An Independent

Yesterday, on my campaign page, Mr. Molovinsky Goes To Harrisburg, a member the local Republican Party chided me for taking a Democratic position on the minimum wage increase. He must have mistaken me for a Republican Lite, which I am not. Likewise, I am not a Conservative Democrat. I'm an Independent, who analyzes each issue separately, free of any party playbook. I'm pragmatic, looking for solutions which could be implemented to improve our situation. The voters have been programmed to partisan politics for too long, but they realize that they are being victimized by the stagnation in Harrisburg.

Sep 30, 2014

Allentown's Frankenstein Plan Abandoned

Allentown's Mayor Pawlowski has a new vision for Allentown; mixing our trash and sewage together to make energy. Yesterday's paper had a long article on the power brokering involved in this trash to energy proposal. A facility would be built next to the sewage plant on Kline's Island. Sewage sludge would be mixed with trash and burnt to produce electricity. This particular mixture and process has never been tried before, lucky Allentown. The principals in the project are counting on Governor Rendell's appointee's to approve a $32 million dollar bond for the project, on their way out the door, before year's end. What doesn't smell about this vision?

UPDATE: Allentown should be concentrating on upgrading the LCA sewage line along the Little Lehigh, which periodically spills raw sewage into our creek and water supply. Also periodically, the sewage plant must bypass raw sewage into the Lehigh River. It is inappropriate to be promoting a private for profit company, with unproven technology, instead of fixing long existing problems.

Reprinted from November 15, 2010

UPDATE September 30th, 2014:  Allentown's Pawlowski has apparently outgrown his need to capitulate to Delta Thermos hideous plan to mix sewage with trash and burn it to produce electricity.  At one point they were even going to allow Delta to import additional trash from New Jersey if we didn't have enough.  I don't know if they were also going to import additional sewage,  what a concept. Anyway, Pawlowski has graduated to bigger things now with the arena and NIZ. The city had spent one half million dollars of taxpayer money on studies justifying the plan. Congratulations to Rich Fegley and Dan Poresky for their perseverance in fighting this monstrous plan.

Sep 29, 2014

The Minimum Wage and The Speech Givers

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. To whom were they speaking? Although they were clearly preaching to the choir, they all rambled on. It's my pledge to work more and speak less than they do.

Park Creeks Before The Hijack

The blogger LVCI makes an eloquent case for Allentown's traditional park system,  before being hijacked by the Wildlands Conservancy.

Park Creeks Which Would You Rather?

Sep 28, 2014

South Whitehall's Sweet Spot

For decades before it was called Covered Bridge Park, people would visit Wehr's Dam. The combination of water going over the dam and under the bridge is a visual duet. In his column yesterday, Bill White wouldn't even allow his dog to swim in the mill pond, but would allow park decisions to be dictated by the Wildlands Conservancy. If White had taken his dog to the parks in Allentown this summer, he also couldn't swim, because of the high weed barrier along the creek's edge. Anybody who would want to exchange a beautiful vista for a wall of weeds doesn't understand why parks were created. Taking over is what the Wildlands has done with the Allentown Park System. One out of town park director after another, has been hired to serve the Conservancy's agenda. But I digress, we're here to defend Wehr's Dam from the Wildlands Conservancy's demolition. As a defender of the dam, I resent that we citizens must defend our parks. In a better government, the Commissioners would be the defenders, instead of bending to outside agendas. Bill White underestimates the number of dam supporters at 2,000. There are currently 3,000, 90% of which signed the petition while at the dam. Although the Commissioners insist on adhering to the Wildlands time table for it's decision, they should understand that by spring they will have offended 6,000 people. We will not go away. Although the Commissioners may be willing to hand over our park's history and beauty, we will make no concessions in defending the park.
photograph by K Mary Hess

Sep 26, 2014

The Morning Arena

The Allentown based newspaper, The Morning Arena, formally The Morning Call, is having a special feature this Sunday on guess what, Behind The Scenes at the arena. Besides for the Governor's race, bands that have cancelled at the arena are getting much more attention than candidates that are still running for the State House. As the area's only independent candidate, who received no coverage during the primary election cycle, I feel somewhat short-changed in terms of the equal time and space doctrine.

I do have a plan to get coverage,  I will submit the above paragraph to Bill White's bad writing contest.  

Sep 24, 2014

Looking For Visibility

If you're willing to host a yard sign, and live on Routes 309, 873, 329, 145, 248, 946 or anywhere else with high visibility in the 183rd State House District, please contact me by comment. Leave your name and phone number, but such contact information will not be printed. Thank you.

Sep 23, 2014

A Campaign For Change

In six weeks from now you will hopefully be going to the polls to elect those whom you have decided can best represent you. Although I'm in need of neither a job or career, I decided this past April to offer my advocacy to the voters. Redistricting has put my neighborhood in the 183rd District, which is an enormous geographical area, stretching from Slatington east to north of Bath. The current incumbent there, running for her 21st year in office, concentrates her efforts in getting reelected every two years. She sends birthday cards by the thousands, and gives out certificates by the hundreds. She has brought back very little in state benefits to her constituents, who have now been short-changed for two decades. While the party machines campaign to perpetuate the status quo, I'm an Independent for change. I benefit from no party fundraisers. My fundraiser is that paypal button on the sidebar of this blog. Although most of you do not live in the 183rd, I ask you to consider a donation to my campaign. You are living in a state where out of 253 representatives and senators, not one is an independent or from a third party. It's time for the voters of the Lehigh Valley to say that they had enough with politics as usual.  I need some financial help to get my message out to the voters. I'm not looking for a few large donations from party fatcats, I want modest contributions from the people, who want change in Harrisburg. Thank you.

Sep 21, 2014

The Wehr's Dam Conspiracy

Recent articles concerning Wehr's Dam have been headlined Dam's Days May Be Numbered, Trying To Save The Dam, etc. This past week the dam was inspected by gentlemen who only identified themselves as being from Harrisburg. I can only assume it's the DEP, accommodating the Wildlands Conservancy, with whose cooperation and grants 9 dams have already been demolished in the Valley. My problem is that the dam was inspected a couple of years ago, and rated low hazard, which is the best rating this dam hating state gives. Such dams are scheduled to be inspected every five years, so some influence was used to have this recent inspection. In June, when South Whitehall Commissioner President Christina Morgan asked the Wildlands how to handle potential objectors to demolishing the dam, the Wildlands recommended an informational meeting to educate the public about the damn dams. This meeting will soon be announced by South Whitehall. Although the dam was low hazard two years ago, I fully expect a new, much more dire report. Anybody who has visited the dam realizes that the concrete wall, complete with buttresses, would stand unattended for another 100 years. I'm fed up with the concept that thousands of local residents must defend our dam. It's time for Morgan to tell the Wildlands to move on. It's time for Morgan to include the dam in the recently enacted Historical Overlay District. Covered Bridge Park was not meant to be a workshop for the Wildlands Conservancy. Christina Morgan was not elected to do their bidding. Enough is enough.

Sep 19, 2014

It's Getting Dam Interesting

I learned early this morning, ironically from an anonymous comment, that there is most likely an impropriety occurring in South Whitehall, in regard to the Wehr's Dam. The very engineer that sits on South Whitehall's dais with the Commissioners, has the Wildlands Conservancy as a client.
Here is a tidbit about the south whitehall dam situation. The engineer for the township lists the wildlands conservancy as a client.... http://www.pidcockcompany.com/clients                                              
On Wednesday evening, when I stated that the engineer was stonewalling the opponents, I had no idea about the conflict of interest.  In light of this revelation, it appears that the public's interest in preserving the dam might have to seek intervention through the court.

ADDENDUM: In the course of the last several Township Commissioner meetings, there has been some hesitation about engineering studies on the dam which would advise the commissioners. Although some Commissioners had previously directed the Administration to prepare an independent report on the dam's condition,  that directive was not implemented. Never once did the township's engineer, Ralph Russek, or Commission President Christina Morgan,  disclose that Russek's primary employer, Pidcock Engineering,  also represents the Wildlands.  Although this explains the hedging on the independent report, it shows a lack of candour toward the public effort to retain the dam.  Furthermore, out of the blue, Morgan now favors bringing the issue forward.  Morgan is said to support the Wildlands, which last October demolished the dams in Lehigh Parkway,  immediately after obtaining Allentown City Council permission.

UPDATE: I have deleted the portion of the anonymous comment alleging to arrangements between Wildlands and Jaindl Land Company.  A spokesperson for Jaindl categorically denies that any such arrangements ever existed.

Sep 18, 2014

The Anonymous Comment

For those of us who produce a blog, the anonymous comment has always been a problem. Although those using that handle can have a legitimate reason, for others it can be a mask to make incendiary statements with no accountability. Worse, it can be used as a subversive weapon to taint a blog or it's writer. Here in the Lehigh Valley, one well known cyber-stalker actually brags about the blogs that he has sabotaged. The remaining blog producers in the Valley have adopted different policies about comments. Here on molovinsky, the comments are reviewed before being published. Please don't be offended if your anonymous comment does not appear.  You can always resubmit it with your verifiable real name, and I may then decide to print the comment.

Sep 17, 2014

Disenfranchising An Independent

Early this spring the local media did several stories on the candidates for the primary, then reported the results after the May 20th primary. Residents of the 183rd District know that the Republican incumbent Julie Harhart is being challenged by Democrat Terri Powells. However, my candidacy as an Independent was never duly reported. Although I gave a press conference, none of the media attended. The Express Times announced my candidacy on their website, but never included it in their hardcopy edition. Likewise, neither the Morning Call or WFMZ has informed the public that there is a third candidate on the ballot. As of early September, even the Northampton branch of the League of Women Voters didn't know that it was a three way election. If such an informed group was unaware of my candidacy, the local media has under-served both me and the public.

Sep 16, 2014

Allentown, Get A Grip

Mayor Pawlowski has declared today Tom Petty Appreciation Day. Apparently, we appreciate that Mr. Petty is willing to come to Allentown for his normal large fee. I have no doubt that a group like the Eagles, which normally plays bigger venues, was compensated for the difference. In his column today, Bill White is gloating that Pawlowski proved the naysayers wrong. Would that be those who feel that using the cigarette tax, originally designated for children's health insurance, to pay for private office buildings is a misappropriation of taxes? Let us hope that for $700 million of taxpayer dollars that the NIZ is indeed a success. Despite one gushing article after another by The Morning Call, even Bill must know that it's somewhat premature to evaluate success after the opening night venue. More inappropriate is Petty Appreciation Day. There's a nameless man who has been picking up litter in the West Park neighborhood every day for twenty years. I think that he should be ahead of Petty in getting that certificate.

Sep 15, 2014

Branding Candidate Molovinsky

An article on Wehr's Dam referred to me as a blogger running for State Representative. Before that label sticks,  please allow me to identify myself. I'm a long time community advocate, who in recent years has used a blog to help shine light on issues. Long before I had a blog, or even a computer, I was a contributor to the community dialogue. Although a life long proponent of historical preservation, in the late 90's I organized homeowners who felt an unnecessary proposed historic district infringed upon their property rights. Among many other issues in recent years, I turned my attention to the preservation of the WPA structures gracing our communities. Although the article referred to me as a member of the group defending Wehr's Dam, I actually started that effort. Even though Allentown is not part of the 183rd District, I continue to publish molovinsky on allentown, because it is an archive on my activism during the last decade. However, that activism started long before the blog.

Sep 14, 2014

A Candidate Of Historical Record

Wehr's Dam is the featured special in today's Morning Call. From my perspective, the story concentrates too much on dam removal science. Worse, that science is not site specific. But, what's worse than the article making that mistake, is the State of Pennsylvania making it. I understand why the Wildlands Conservancy cherry picks the science, they garner grants and administrative fees from removing dams. The Director of the Fish and Boat Commission recently told an associate that he feels that all dams should be removed, that's why Pennsylvania leads the nation in dam removal. That dubious distinction has resulted in some historical dams being removed which did not adversely affect fish or water quality; One size does not fit all.

I'm proud of my record advocating for the WPA sites in the Allentown Park System, and my attempted defense of the Robin Hood Dam there last year.  I'm proud that I was able to save the Reading Road Stone Arch Bridge. When asked to support saving the dam, incumbent State Representative Julie Harhart declined. As a citizen or as a Representative, my advocacy for our traditions and history will continue.

Sep 12, 2014

The Partisan Money Machine

The upcoming fundraiser for Justin Simmons will be held at the upscale Melt at the Promenade Shops in Center Valley. Attending will be Pat Toomey, Charlie Dent, Bob Lovett, Bill Heydt, and so on. Tickets start at $250 and run to $1000. My opponent, ten term Julie Harhart, will also be in attendance. I assume that she will be treated in kind soon enough. Someone recently commented on a post that he supports issues, not partisan politics. Although it's easy to say that you think independently, are you willing to contribute to an independent? My neighbors have already received four recent mailings from Julie Harhart. I don't need $1000 contributions at the Melt. I don't even need $250 donations, but I do need $25 from many of you. I expect just one mailing to cost $10,000 to the large district. If you have a problem with an incumbent who is running for her eleventh term, and voted herself a 50% pension increase, please contribute to my campaign. Please help me make the residents of the 183rd District know that there is an alternative available for them. Please let Harrisburg know that the voters of Lehigh Valley are not to be taken for granted. I have installed a paypal button on the sidebar, thank you.

Sep 11, 2014

Greg Weaver Art Scene

For about ten years, mid 70's to 80's, Allentown was graced with a one man art machine. Greg Weaver studied at Carnegie Mellon and then returned to the Valley to become artist, promoter and inspiration to dozens of local artists. His large studios, which moved from one low rent location to another over the years, became hubs for innovation and social activity. He was very prolific with his work, and generous with his encouragement. A typical monthly bash involved perhaps a poster by Mark Beyer( now an internationally known underground comic) performance by a jazz group such as Gary Hassay,(Greg also had a band) and perhaps a new showing by a local artist, such as Barnaby Ruhe. The loft parties were always mobbed, by many of the same people who now attend the Museum social events. This art "scene" cost the taxpayers nothing, it was done by artists, and it was real. Greg suffered from diabetes, and eventually lost his sight. Although blind he continued to produce art and inspire people until his death. Several of his works are in the Allentown Museums' permanent collection and his memory is in the hearts' of his friends. The image here is from Mark Beyer, representing an invitation to a Weaver event.

UPDATE: The post above is from September of 2007. This weekend Allentown will have two art events;  An Arts Celebration at the Art Park for the arena opening, and an Alternative Art Festival at Cedar Beach.  Weaver was the original art celebration and festival.

Sep 10, 2014

Confession Of An Independent Candidate

I have been driving and walking in the towns and villages of the 183rd District, but have not been introducing myself very often. Although I'm known as a tenacious advocate in front of councils and commissions, glad-handing and smiling are not my strong points. You are very nice people. You have allowed someone to represent you for twenty years, who has done virtually nothing for you at all. I know she attends your picnics and gives out certificates, but she has brought nothing of your taxes back to your communities. You deserve a State Representative who will fight for you in Harrisburg. Everybody in Pennsylvania pays the same income tax. Why should all your taxes be going to pay for an arena in Allentown, while nothing comes back to Danielsville, Egypt, Cementon, and Neffs? If you're happy with just a handshake and smile, keep Harhart. If you want your just share for your hard earned taxes, put me to work for you in Harrisburg.

Editor's Notes: Some abbreviated posts from this blog have become insertions on my campaign site, Mr. Molovinsky Goes To Harrisburg. This is the first insertion which became a blog post. The State distribution and benefit of taxpayer money is a most unlevel, unfair playing field. Some towns, like Cementon, look virtually like they did 50 years ago. Although Harhart may have brought a few dollars back to Northampton and Slatington over two decades, the remainder of the large district received nothing. Today kicks off a more visible campaign on my part, my first radio spots begin. I ask all my readers to please consider a contribution to my unique campaign. Although the public gives lip service to the concept of a non-partisan and issue orientated campaign, getting the message to voters, especially in such a large district, is expensive. Although most of you do not reside in the 183rd District, I assure you that my efforts in Harrisburg will benefit everybody. I ask you to think independently, and contribute through the paypal button on the sidebar. Thank You.

Checks or money orders payable to Michael Molovinsky, designated account, can be sent to Michael Molovinsky, 1636 N. Cedar Crest Blvd., PMB 145, Allentown, Pa. 18104

Sep 9, 2014

Where's The Creek?

The young man seemed proud to be at the Old Fashioned Garden with his wife and child. I got the feeling that it was a rite of passage that he had enjoyed years earlier with his parents. He approached me with a quizzical look and asked Where's the creek? I assured him that it was still here, but hidden behind all that underbrush. When he asked me why they did that, I just shrugged my shoulders and walked away. I don't think he really wanted to hear a rant.

The Wildlands Conservancy had no resistance convincing the past two park directors to allow them to plant riparian buffers along the streams in the park system. Both directors were from out of town, trained in recreation at Penn State, and had no feeling or knowledge of the park's history and traditions. To add absurdity to the situation, the storm sewer systems in Allentown are piped directly into the streams, bypassing the buffers, making them useless to their stated purpose. To add further irony to the absurdity, the park department must now spray insecticide on the underbrush to control the invasive species. Worse than blocking access and view of the streams, the recent director endorsed the Conservancy demolishing two small historic dams, after being here only six weeks, and never actually having seen the dams himself.

Why do I dwell on water over the dam? The Wildlands Conservancy is now pitching the dam demolition and riparian buffer agenda to South Whitehall Township. If they get their way, the beautiful picnic vista overlooking Wehr's Dam will be replaced with a wall of weeds. I'm on a mission to make sure that beauty and history survive at Covered Bridge Park.

Sep 8, 2014

Allentown's National Searches

Allentown doesn't hire the mediocre by chance, they use consultants and do national searches. It's second from Out Of Town park director has resigned. Years ago we had local directors, but nationally known parks. The depreciation of the park system is a sore spot with me. I will do a separate post on that subject this week. I mention the park directors as a lead in to the other prize selected by national search, the police chief.

The search consultants found the former Philadelphia policeman in Texas, working as a chief there. As mentioned in a previous post, I will not comment on the specifics of his son's arrest, that remains for a court to sort out. I am concerned with comments made by the chief and his Philadelphia lawyer, concerning racial profiling. If Pawlowski thought that the police chase, which almost ran into his tent of dignitaries this summer, was a disaster, wait until Al Sharpton starts marching on Hamilton Street. In light of the recent tension in Missouri, it was ill advised for Fitzgerald and his attorney to make such an accusation. Although the chief is a father wanting to defend his son, he was hired as a professional, to lead Allentown's police force. As Pawlowski begins to look for a new park director, he might also want  to consider a new police chief.

Sep 6, 2014

Walking With The New Park Director

I had respectfully requested, through the City Clerk, that City Council visit Robin Hood before any decision, to both see and hear the dam. Furthermore, I volunteered to take them, at their convenience, on a quick tour of the park's remaining WPA structures. Several days later, the clerk contacted me to confirm a time for me to show two council members the sites. I was delighted to hear that the new park director, John Mikowychok, would be joining us. Yesterday was the appointment, and John and I were the first to arrive. As we stood on the bridge, John told me that only 90% of the dam was being removed, and the portion near the water monitoring station would remain. I was shocked, I didn't know that the decision to remove the dam had already been determined. He then informed me that the Wildland's Conservancy was coming, and after learning the details from them on Robin Hood, we would proceed to the dams near the fish hatchery, also scheduled to be removed. The Conservancy crew arrived, with plans and documents in hand. Also by then, Council members Cynthia Mota and Jeff Glazier arrived, but my delight was gone. John explained the agenda, that first Wildland's would brief them about Robin Hood, then they would move on to the Fish Hatchery. I reminded the council members that they were there at my invitation, to see the dam, and then tour the WPA sites. To their credit, Glazier and Mota told Mikowychok that before going to the fish hatchery dams, they would take the tour with me. I wanted them to see how many park features previous park directors had arbitrarily destroyed, and perhaps be more inclined to preserve the dam.

I showed Mikowychok the abandoned island and the boat landing, things that he never saw before, or even knew existed. I found his indifference to the demise of these wonderful constructions astounding. When I criticized the tall thin weed wall blocking the entire creek view, he replied that a row of single tall weeds was better than none. He actually told Mota that the creek was more enticing when you could only get a glimpse of it here and there. It made me think of an old arcade peep show machine. It's too bad that the city hired another lobbyist for the Wildland's Conservancy as Park Director, instead of a defender of our unique park system, however, it's no surprise.  Both the out of town park directors were hired by the same out of town city manager. All three of them, four including the mayor, have no knowledge or appreciation of the formerly nationally recognized park system, in the former All American City. Wildland's was spouting voodoo science. They actually said that there's no fecal count in the creek, despite my photographs of creek shores filled with toilet paper. In order for them to harvest the current grant they must demolish the dam by the end of September. From the grant they also harvest administrative fees. The dam dates from the early 1940's, and has delighted five generations with it's sight and sound. The hard press is on City Council to approve this latest destruction with virtually no deliberation. I ask those who appreciate beauty and ambience to help me save our history.

UPDATE: The post above is reprinted from August 17, 2013.  John Mikowychok, the new park director referred to above,  has resigned.   Less than three months after being hired, Mikowychok recommended to City Council that the Wildlands Conservancy be allowed to destroy two picturesque historic dams on the Little Lehigh.  The Wildlands Conservancy deposited the demolished WPA Robin Hood Dam rubble around the Robin Hood Bridge,  ruining the visual effect of the iconic stone piers.  The demolished Trout Nursery Dam contributed to the recent record fish kill.  We have lost 75 years of history to a person who was here for 15 months.  I will have more to say about park directors with no knowledge of the park system  and the Wildlands Conservancy's self serving agenda in subsequent posts.  Let us hope that South Whitehall has more respect for Wehr's Dam and it's history.

LVCI also covers Mikowychok's departure

Sep 5, 2014

Party Above Principle

A Republican member of a local school board yesterday linked to a pension reform site, on a social network. In some strictly blue municipalities, such as Allentown, the only Republicans elected in a decade have been to school boards, and only then because they're crossed registered. As a school board member, this person is well aware that pension reform is by far the most pressing issue in Pennsylvania. Although both chambers of the State House are controlled by Republicans, they managed to avoid the issue, despite Corbett exerting pressure to pass reform. This particular board member even supported the Republican incumbent's unsuccessful opponent in the primary. So, we have a Republican school board member, in a Democratic town, who doesn't support the incumbent State Representative in a neighboring district, but still won't openly endorse an Independent. It is this sort of counterproductive partisanship which has given the voters our current paralyzed Harrisburg.

Sep 4, 2014

Building Allentown's Urban Homeowner

Allentown will once again try to induce the middle-class to live downtown. It is not a new experiment; Over forty years ago the Leh family renovated the 400 block of Walnut Street for the same purpose. Of course that was also the goal of the oversized Old Allentown Historic District. The latest plan, being financed by the local corporate heavy hitters, will concentrate on the area north of Linden Street. The plan is modeled on similar programs by Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and U of P in Philadelphia. Those are large urban area's, where gentrification is a natural development. Alan Jennings, although an implementor of such programs, realistically summed it up;  When the target group is the middle-class, that demographic has the means to live in a more suburban area. Again in the real world, Allentown has lost some of it's most committed urbanists because of the school system. I suppose if we're subsidizing the commercial real estate development, we can also pay some middle class looking folks to live and walk around downtown.

Sep 3, 2014

Charlie Tuna and Allentown Crime

When Charlie Tuna was introduced in 1961 he looked good, but he didn't taste good. The punch line was Sorry Charlie, and he was rejected for the tuna can. Charlie's still the mascot, but now he's a beloved figure, who helps mom plan an easy dinner. Allentown's fighting it's crime perception problem with additional surveillance cameras. J.B. Reilly is footing most of the bill, and the cameras will also feed into his private security force. An article in the Morning Call says that "If a crime has already occurred, the camera footage becomes an invaluable tool for identifying potential suspects and assisting in locating crucial evidence." There-in lies the problem. Knowing that your mugger will be apprehended isn't much consolation when you're sitting on the curb with your head bleeding. Like the early Charlie Tuna advertisements, visitors don't want a city that looks safe, they want a city that is safe.  Before you apologists foam at the mouth, I believe that Allentown is safe. The new cameras are being sold and installed by Charlie Thiel, who is being groomed as the next mayor.

Editor's Notes: When I read the article on mcall about the surveillance cameras, I immediately thought about Charlie Tuna from the early 1960's. When I wrote the above piece earlier this morning, I had no idea that there was an article in today's paper about canned tuna fish, headlined, Sorry Charlie, just a literary coincidence. Also a coincidence, is any name similarity between Charlie Tuna and Charlie Thiel.  I've known Thiel for years, and believe that Allentown will benefit from any political ambition on his part.

Sep 1, 2014

Candidate Molovinsky Banned By NPR

WDIY, the NPR affiliate in Bethlehem, refused to make my interview available by pod-cast on their website. The show, Lehigh Valley Discourse, aired on July 10th, and featured host Alan Jennings interviewing both myself and Bernie O'Hare. To his credit, Alan Jennings has quit the station in protest to the censorship. Who would guess that an NPR station would succumb to political pressure, but then again, it's no accident that there isn't one independent in the State House. With help from your contributions, I will begin buying spots on commercial radio.

Aug 31, 2014

Why I'm Running For Office

The headline in today's paper is that the Allentown Police Chief's son was arrested for pointing a gun at two detectives. Knowing nothing about the case, I won't comment on the charge, but wish to discuss two background aspects of the story. Allentown voters in 2001 enthusiastically elected former State Senator Afflerbach as mayor, believing that his experience in Harrisburg would be invaluable to Allentown. His contract with the police department was a complete give away of Allentown's treasury. The retirement component was so lucrative that the entire force subsequently retired. It is because of that reality, and the resulting lack of  experience in the remaining department, that Allentown recently hired an out of towner to lead the police department. Today's article tells us that the new chief's 22 year old son is working for the county Corrections Department. We have a former politician that was so embedded with the unions that Allentown had to lease it's water department to remain solvent. Afflerbach is now officially a lobbyist for hire. We have a new city police chief who was able to secure a local county job for his son. I'm running for office with no allegiance to any special interest or other motives, other than the best policy for the citizens and taxpayers. Are you ready for that sort of representation?

Aug 29, 2014

Conduit To Harrisburg

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

Aug 28, 2014

The Franking Queen

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

Aug 27, 2014

The Cedarbrook Covenant

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

The King Has Abdicated

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

reprinted annually since 2007

Aug 26, 2014

The Mighty Atom

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

reprinted annually since 2007