Aug 27, 2015

A-Treat Rules In A-Town

Early last night, outside of Allentown City Hall, I watched activist Robert Trotner plea for Bill 39, the legislation against Pay To Play. Now, if he had been praising one of the reintroduced A-Treat flavors, the public would be interested, but political ethics, not so much. The local media did give coverage to Mr. Trotner and his band of eternal optimists, but compared to A-Treat, it's nothing that the public cares to digest. Here in Allentown, there are priorities and values, and things worth waiting for, like the soda flavors of their youth. Now, eventually the ethics ordinance will pass, and the current administration will be replaced by a cast of new characters. But, what the public really cares about are the important things, like watching the monster trucks in the new arena, while drinking a giant-sized A-Treat.

Aug 26, 2015

Allentown Burns While Pawlowski Fiddles

Is it just me, or is Allentown in a reactive haze? I keep hearing about the cloud over Allentown, since the FBI scrutinized Pawlowski and city hall. The police chief wants to be anywhere, except here. Pawlowski and his company, Allentown city council, say that they can't blame Chief Fritzgerald from striving for upward mobility, but after only two years? We quietly just gave the fire department a new five year contract that has them dancing in their underwear. While they settle for 2% increase in year two, it's 3% yearly thereafter. Since the scant arena schedule has been criticized, the promoter has announced a new monster truck show, and that he will hire additional part-time peanut vendors.

Things are also rough in the blogging business. Yesterday morning, I met Bernie O'Hare and Lou Hershman for what wasn't Breakfast at Tiffany's. After O'Hare called the waitress a bitch, she refused to serve us. After recently noting that Bernie was on the up cycle of his weight swings, a reader accused me of using 20 year old pictures of myself. I'm pictured above two weeks ago in the deep south, with a 1975 Mack fire pumper, which was made in Allentown.

Aug 25, 2015

Allentown City Council

Wednesday night, before a council committee meeting, there is a protest planned against council's slowness to adopt an ordinance against Pay To Play. The protesters shouldn't be too rough on the council, they did take some action, they postponed the committee meeting. It was the Parks and Recreation committee. As a parks activist, I say no loss, they never made a good decision anyway. But, this post is about something else, a police chief who can't wait to get out of Dodge. I thought that Chief Fritzgerald outlived his usefulness when he implied that his son's arrest may have been racial profiling. Ironically, the same high octane Philadelphia lawyer who defended junior Fritzgerald, has now been retained by our mayor. When news broke that senior Fritzgerald was a finalist for a chief job in Kansas, council president Ray O'Connell said that it would be our loss. Ray must be searching for a father figure, because that's a loss we should encourage. We can be sure that the Wichita job isn't the only application that Fritzgerald has submitted. He already has one foot and his brain out the door. The police department's first reaction to the Slam At Shula's was that the singer was being hostile. Understand, that for a quality response like that, we had hired national consultants and spent a year looking before we hired senior. Please spare us such shams in the future, I'd rather that when papa leaves, they just hire junior for chief.

ADDENDUM: The cancelled Parks and Recreation meeting was scheduled for this evening, not Wednesday. Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting has not been cancelled.

Aug 24, 2015

The Morning Call Express

While The Morning Call has thrown Pawlowski under the bus, it continues to puff for the NIZ. A recent article on how the zone is benefiting the surrounding neighborhood was just more smoke coming out of that puff engine. Needless to say, they quote Alan Jennings, their go to person for most articles. Alan's organization has the franchise on community benefit, and of course, therefore, thinks that some good has rained on the local peons. The bureaucracy even produced a webpage, Upside Allentown, complete with pictures of smiling intercity children. In truth, the quality of their life has diminished. They now pay double to park, because of the Arena Excuse. Their former shopping center on Hamilton Street was demolished for that monstrosity, and if real success ever come to the district, they will be gentrified away. Meanwhile, former Mayor For Life is getting run over every time he tries to stand up. How flat can they get Pawlowski? While I no longer contribute letters to the paper,  I do see my ideas from this blog metamorpihize into long articles in the paper. For instance, they now acknowledge that the arena sits there empty, night after night. However, they will never admit that it was just a public pretense for the Reilly City Center Real Estate Empire.

Aug 23, 2015

One Subject, Two Bloggers



Apparently, both Bernie O'Hare and I are posting on the same subject tomorrow.  Bernie's version will historically be viewable by midnight this evening,  while I put up my posts, while pre-heating the ovens in the family bakery,  around 4:00 AM.   Expect Bernie's piece to be longer, and mine,  of course, more insightful.

Aug 21, 2015

Drama At Civic Little Theatre

Architecturally, the 19th Street Theater has no rival. The tile elephant trunks coming down the edges of the facade have delighted viewers since 1928. Up to last year, there was one other Venetian type building in Allentown, in the 700 block of Hamilton, but it was  knocked down to accommodate the arena monstrosity. The 19th Street theater has survived because of it's current affiliation with the Civic Theatre, a non-profit cultural group. Shown above is the Franklin, in the 400 block of Tilghman Street, which survived until 2008. That theater,  built a century ago in 1913,  was also called the Jennette for about forty years.

reprinted from July 2013, then titled, Allentown's Last Movie Theaters

ADDENDUM: When I was a little boy, the Civic Theatre was already putting on productions for both adults and children. As an adult, Barry and Sharon Glassman have been synonymous with the theater's continued vitality. Unfortunately, I have recently received a report that the theater is currently suffering from Founder's Syndrome.
Founder's syndrome is a difficulty faced by many organizations where one or more founders maintain disproportionate power and influence following the effective initial establishment of the project, leading to a wide range of problems for both the organization and those involved in it.
According to this source, half of the staff, and a third of the board, have parted way in protest of the current leadership. I have not investigated this allegation. My gut feeling is that the Glassman's have been the energy and glue which has kept the theater continuously open for the last several decades. I will accept, by moderation, limited comments to this post which may shed light on the current situation.

UPDATE: After several complaints about the current leadership, and requests to provide space for this topic,  not one of the callers has submitted a comment.  Apparently, they wanted me to air their grievances, but they don't want to comment themselves, even anonymously. With that sort of timidity, I don't know how they think that they could run the theater any better.

Aug 20, 2015

Mazziotti Traveling Ethics Show

Last night, the Vic Mazziotti Traveling Ethics Show arrived "fashionably late" to the Allentown City Council, according to Bernie O'Hare. We learn that Pay To Play must be legislated away. I'm not impressed with such proposals, naive me thinks I should be able to take such basic concepts of honesty for granted. Last week, in the comment section of O'Hare's post on Mazziotti's showboat ordinance, I took Vic to task. I think that ethics should be on display in every public decision, and that Vic has been lacking in that department, when it comes to Cedarbrook, the county nursing home. Last year, Mazziotti and his fellow reform slate Republicans rejected the proposal to remodel a wing of Cedarbrook into a rehab center, which is the profitable avenue employed by the industry. Instead, after stalling for a year, they now want to re-employ a former consulting firm to repeat a previous study. Last week, when I suggested that the Reformers were stalling until it's time for the bulldozer, Vic sent a message that I should call him. Apparently, he wanted to send me to the Reeducation Indoctrination Camp, operated by the Reform Team. However, yesterday, even the Morning Call noted the stalling on Cedarbrook. "That quest for knowledge has dragged on for months, and commissioners still find themselves in a fact-finding mode."

Vic was late to council last night because the Commissioners were also conducting their own meeting, on Cedarbrook, to decide what kind of questions they should again ask their rehired consultant. Vic states that "We're making a 25-year decision here." It's unclear if he means that the decision will affect the county for 25 years, or if it will take him 25 years to make the decision. At any rate, it's clear that he doesn't want to make any decision before the election in November. I'm actually being kind. The refurbishment could have been completed already, and Cedarbrook on it's way to being viable. Play to Pay regulations don't impress me,  especially when an elected official still play games with a public trust like Cedarbrook.

Aug 19, 2015

The Livingston Club, Allentown's Benevolent Oligarchy

Back in the day, when the town had three department stores, the major decisions affecting Allentown's future were made at the Livingston Club. Harvey Farr would meet Donald Miller and John Leh at the Club for lunch, and discuss acquiring more lots for Park & Shop. The bank officers of First National and Merchants Bank would discuss loans with the highly successful merchants, many of whom had stores in all three major Lehigh Valley cities. As the heydays winded down, likewise the exit plans were made there. The City of Allentown acquired the Park & Shop lots, becoming the Allentown Parking Authority. Leh's became the Lehigh County Government Center.

The new oligarchy consists of much fewer men, they could all met at a small table in Shula's, and be entertained by watching street people  arrested. The former 1st National Bank location is now a new Reilly building. The former Livingston Club building is now a parking lot, and future site to another Reilly building. Shula's is also a Reilly building....

Aug 18, 2015

The Failure Of Fritzgerald, Allentown's Police Chief

I considered Allentown Police Chief Joel Fritzgerald a failure after he implied that his son's arrest may have been racial profiling. One of the reasons Fritzgerald was hired was to quell such accusations, not make them. I was critical of his hiring, Allentown hasn't had much success with national searches. We even hired out of town professionals to conduct the search, spare us such pageantry. Today, we learn that the police department is defending the treatment of the Shula Singer, because he was hostile. I would imagine that most people arrested are hostile. With lawsuits piling up against Allentown's Police Department, should Fritzgerald be in a double down mode? Don't expect Pawlowski to be tuned into this situation, he has his own legal problems.

Aug 17, 2015

Morning Call's Watchdog Has Doggie Dementia

The Morning Call has been running a series of articles it entitles Watchdog Report. The latest, on Sunday, rehashes the Atiyeh parcels, purchased by Allentown last year, supposedly for the park system. Associate blogger Bernie O'Hare, reminds us that he connected the dots between the purchase and Atiyeh's billboard company, last week. The Morning Call article also omits the fact that the purchase was first reported here, on molovinsky on allentown, last year. Although Bernie now notices that the paper is a sales agent for Atiyeh's billboard company, they had revealed that fact before. I also learned, or remembered, something new from the paper's story. Former park director, John Mikowychok, testified to city council that the Basin street parcel would allow the city to connect the envisioned trail network. An alternative title for this post was going to be Pawlowski's Toolbox, where I discuss the various department directors, and the distortions that they have uttered for their boss. After Mikowychok was here for only a matter of weeks, before he unpacked his suitcase or even seen the entire park system, he testified on the Wildlands Conservancy's behalf, to demolish the two small dams in Lehigh Parkway. He also apparently testified on Atiyeh's behalf, to purchase those parcels. I had, in the previous years, closely monitored the trail network plan, pushed by then park director Greg Weitzel. Although I attended the meetings on that subject, there was never any mention of a Basin street hookup. Now, I can't blame the paper too much for their memory lapses. They change out reporters like underwear, some have moved on even before they learned to hate me. Bernie O'Hare, his memory is probably affected by his radical weight gain/loss cycles. Don't worry about me offending anybody, they'll forget that they even read this.
ADDENDUM:  O'Hare's article last week did credit this blog with first reporting the land purchases last year.  I have modified the copy above to properly reflect that attribution.

Aug 14, 2015

Interviewing Mike Fleck In The Deep South

I found Mike Fleck at a bar on my the second night in Savannah. Bernie O'Hare was initially to conduct the search, but he's currently on the gain side of his current fat/skinny cycle.

Molovinsky:  What are your thoughts on Jolly Joe Timmer passing away?

Fleck:  You mean you came all this way to ask me that? How about Pawlowski and the wire tap?

Molovinsky:  No, I never thought that much about any of the people you represented, nothing would surprise me. Please answer my question about Timmer. 

Fleck:  The man knew polka. 

Besides for a pit stop in Charleston to see a 1975 Mack pumper made in Allentown, it was straight there and back. Can't wait for O'Hare to top out and start the diet, these trips are not my thing.

Aug 13, 2015

Sad Sack Voters

As an independent candidate last fall, I was often told by voters that they didn't want to waste their vote on somebody who they thought couldn't win; As if it were a game, and they were betting on it.  In reality, they were truly wasting their vote, on someone they knew would under-represent them. Although we talk about the poor choice of candidates, it's really poor choices by the voters who create the political field. On the national stage, we now have two independent types attracting the early attention. But, in both cases, there is a gimmick. Trump, nominally a Republican, is a well know showman. Sanders, really a left wing Democrat, posed for decades as an independent. He was only elected as an independent because of Vermont's unique character. In the political reality of America, you must be a celebrity to succeed as an independent. The last independent in the Pennsylvania State House was in the 1930's. Locally, party affiliation always seems to be the dogma that wins elections.

With the Mike Fleck controversy,  we here in the blogosphere receive many comments about making better choices in the voting booth. Although, there would be no down side to a change like that, I would be surprised to see the sentiment effect election results. Instead, the normal candidates will just incorporation the word change into their election speeches.

Aug 12, 2015

Pushing Anti-Pay To Play

Fellow blogger, Bernie O'Hare, has been pushing Vic Mazziotti's Anti Pay To Play ordinance proposal. Vic tells Bernie, "I'm going to push it," he insisted. "I'm going to push it real hard." Supposedly, in addition to pushing it with the County Commissioners, he's going to push it with Allentown City Council. Bernie would even like to see it pushed in Northampton County. I think it's amusing, especially for a city and county which just erected a $Billion dollars of real estate, with no scrutiny what-so-ever. They would reply that you got to start somewhere, sometime. Vic even wants to push it to the NIZ board. The NIZ board takes their orders only from G-D and Pat Browne. They even declined to stoop so low as to a community benefit agreement. As long as the voters keep electing used car salesman, there will always be add on charges. I think that the citizens got to start pushing back, in the voting booth.

Aug 11, 2015

Lesson At Dieruff


A Dieruff High School social studies teacher would not have to take his class very far for a lesson in Allentown's history. Although never elected, East Side activist Dennis Pearson has been complaining for thirty years that the East Side always get short changed in Public Works. Such was the case in the mid 1930's, during the WPA work in Allentown. Roosevelt's New Deal program built the elaborate walls in the south side's Lehigh Parkway. Central Allentown received the magnificent Lawrence Street stairwell. The culturally elite of west Allentown received the Union Terrace Amphitheater, envisioned for Shakespeare. Pearson's east side got a few scattered steps to nowhere. The steps remained, and thirty years later Allentown built Dieruff High School. With expansions and renovations, some of the steps now adjoin the school. Flash ahead to the summers of 2009 and 2010.




I lobbied Allentown City Council members to appropriate some of the $millions of dollars in Cedar Park plans to begin preserving the irreplaceable WPA structures, starting to crumble throughout our park system. East Side elected councilman, Michael D'Amore, assured me that he only signed off on the Administrations plan, with the stipulation that the steps in Irving Park-Dieruff area would be restored at the same time. The work in Cedar Park was completed last year, including $millions of dollars with of recreation equipment from catalogs. The deterioration of the steps around Dieruff continues. Now there's a lesson in government!
photos courtesy of Mark Thomas

reprinted from September of 2011

ADDENDUM: Flash ahead again four more years, and the steps at Irving Park are now finally being repaired, using a $20,000 grant from the Trexler Trust. Although the grant was secured through Friends Of The Parks, it's actually also the fruit of my labor. That organization's director learned of the plight of the WPA structures through meetings I conducted at the Allentown Library in 2011. I then took her on a WPA tour of the parks, and we have been collaborating on the WPA ever since.

At the city meeting last week, I asked the councilmen to compare $20,000  from an outside source, to repair something as tangible as the stone structures, to the $1.4 million of city money, to buy land that we didn't need, nor are using.  I explained that the consequence of the WPA neglect was that our largest park, Lehigh Parkway, is now virtually inaccessible.  Considering that I had approached both previous park directors about the WPA, with no success, I asked council to appoint me special WPA envoy, and to instruct the new director to consider my suggestions in both her plans and budget.

Council didn't respond to my request. I think that maybe they were preoccupied with the mob behind me, the ones with the pitchforks and torches.  As things simmer down from news of  the FBI investigation, and council has to deal with the business at hand,  perhaps they will reconsider my offer.


Aug 10, 2015

On Second Thought, Pawlowski Should Stay

Recently, I posted that Pawlowski's resignation was overdue.  I'm having serious second thoughts about that natural reaction to the alleged improprieties. Thinking back on the last council meeting, I realize that for the first time in a decade,  there is the possibility of a dynamic tension on the dais. With the strong mayor wounded, council might actually become the check and balance that they're supposed to be. The old mix seemed to be particularly toxic for Allentown;  A popular mayor endorsing council candidates for several elections. Only a month ago, King Pawlowski was now going to formally expand his picks to the school board and county commission. I suppose that in a more informed democracy we could have both, a good mayor and a working council, but let's be realistic. Here in political zombie land, both isn't coming our way. I'm thinking that maybe the best we can have is a nervous mayor and a nervous city council, they might actually do their job under those conditions.

photograph courtesy of Bottom Feed Photo Service

Aug 7, 2015

The Republican Hairstylist

I thought that Marco Rubio did very well last night, but he looks so young.  He should dye his hair gray like I do, to look older (I do it to look more distinguished). Trump, of course. could also use some hair advise. I thought it was unfair of Fox News to not let Huckabee hold his guitar. Maybe some of them should have been able to hold a rifle.  Bush, they should have butched up with some dried blood, a scar and maybe a bandage over his knuckles. Christie should have worn a white Colonel Sanders Suit, and went with a Boss Hogg approach.  Carson needs some anger in his voice, or maybe a prescription induced twitch.  The others blended into the stage curtain.

ADDENDUM: A couple of weeks ago,  I thought that Hillary was a shoo-in.   The Democrats, because of so many Republican candidates, were talking about the clown car.   I have since changed my mind.  Even MSNBC could talk about nothing this morning but the Republican debate.  The large field will dominate the news for many months to come,  and that is the name of the game.

Aug 6, 2015

Allentown City Council Minutes, August 5, 2015

When the most civil comments to the dais came from yours truly, you know that it was a raucous meeting. Back in the day of most of my battles with council, Dave Howells was president. Last night Ray O'Connell asked Rich Fegley to sit down about eight times, which is exactly seven more times than he would have gotten from Howells. Back in those days, it would have been a paddy wagon night. Council even got reprimanded by one of it's own, Jeanette Eicenwald. The main accusation last night was that council was a rubber stamp, which is something that nobody can deny. Over the recent years, I had explained to council, on several issues, that they are occasionally expected to vote no; That they were supposed to use their power of appropriation as a negotiating tool. Pawlowski's reputation for reprisal must not be exaggerated, he had transformed council into a simple approval stamp. You will be able to find and read comments by most of the speakers on other media sites. To me, the most entertaining barbs came from Chris Cocca, who wondered how the candidates endorsed by Citizens for A Better Allentown would now shed that association. I recently did a post about the scarlet P/F (Pawlowski and Fleck). Perhaps, those most guilty of Pawlowski's influence have graduated on to Harrisburg, Schlossberg and Schweyer. It's beyond time for Pawlowski to resign.

Aug 5, 2015

Pawlowski's State Of Denial

From Pawlowski's Facebook submissions, you would never know that there is a giant shadow of suspicion cast upon the 5th floor of city hall. This morning the mayor linked to another report showing that crime is down in Allentown. Apparently, they are not including white collar crime in those figures. Personally, I find those reports meaningless, considering all the shootings and stabbings that do occur. At any rate, I invite Mayor Pawlowski to attend City Council this evening, and get some feedback from his constituents.

Tea Leaves, Deed Transfers and The Atiyeh Park Deal

Some people read tea-leafs, I read deed transfers. It would be more accurate to say that I study deed transfer. There has only been two weeks in the last 35 years that I failed to scrutinize the list, and those omissions were failed attempts at relaxation. Recently, I mentioned Kenneth Heffentrager and his Tenant Association of Allentown. Kenneth has become a fixture at City Council meetings, complaining about housing and landlords. Kenneth is going to become a very busy boy. For the last several years the deed transfers have been dominated by landlords buying owner occupied houses. Many of these landlords are new to the business, attracted by $25,000, and even cheaper houses in center city. Landlording is tough for experienced operators, and the learning curve is steep. It will take years for the city to identify all the new landlords, and many will walk away when confronted with the realities of their new venture. Although Allentown has a strategy for Hamilton Street, it needs one for the remainder of center city.

ADDENDUM: The above portion was posted in February of 2014, and titled Allentown's Housing Future. In June of 2014, I published about the parcels purchased from Atiyeh, information I also gleaned from the deed transfers. Blogger Bernie O'Hare believes that these purchases by Pawlowski were intended to help Atiyeh finance a billboard company, I disagree. There is also a claim that the Basin Street purchase was to protect the water supply, I disagree. That parcel, off 2nd and Union, is near the sewer plant, the water supply inlets are near 15th St.  A former park director, Greg Weitzel, was indeed obsessed with connecting the parks with bike paths. At the time I opposed those plans, because of the shortcomings in maintaining existing park features. I believe that the Martin Luther King parcel was purchased with expanded park land in mind. I speculate that the Basin Street parcel was included because Atiyeh out-negotiated the city,  and  Pawlowski's indifference to using public resources to further his own agendas.  I do agree that both parcels were totally unnecessary, and a misappropriation of public funds.

Aug 4, 2015

The Allentown Apartment Myth, A Molovinsky Thesis

Over and over, people contribute Allentown's problems to center city houses being converted to apartments, as if this occurred recently. Many will be surprised to know that almost all the converted apartments existed for over 60 years. When the GI's returned from WW2, the trend was for small single family houses with small lawns, i.e. Levittowns. The mass conversion of the row houses took place in the late 40's and early 50's, and more less stopped by the early 60's. These "new" apartments were mostly occupied by either singles or childless couples. The tenants were buyers at Hess's and engineers at PPL. Because of them, Hamilton Street remained viable for twenty years beyond the main street in Bethlehem, Easton and Reading. Allentown was voted during this era the All American City. During those 50 years, 1940 to 1990, nobody complained about the apartments or the tenants. Ironically, more apartment inventory has been added recently, by creating "loft" apartments in former commercial buildings. The Urbanists think they can revitalize Hamilton Street with upper story housing. While the proponents mistakenly think that they will attract a middle class demographic, they are in fact just adding to the total inventory and thus the problem. Beside the urbanists, advocates for low income housing still demand more units. In reality, it's apparent we have an abundance of low income housing. Recently, there has been a trend to built new, center city single housing; attempting to attract a middle class with disposable income to bolster Hamilton Street. Neighborhood parking lots have been sacrificed for this concept.* In fact, we are just building tomorrow's rental houses. Allentown, unlike larger cities, is a horizontal community. There is no reason, geographic or otherwise, which compels the middle class to move to center city.

Allentown would currently be better served with a moratorium on new housing of all sorts in center city. Considering that over 7000 units exist, owned by 5000 different owners, deconversion hopes are unrealistic. Strict enforcement of current zoning standards, concerning square footage, parking, etc. would suffice in reasonably curtailing additional living units. By limiting supply, demand can improve the quality of life for everybody.

The above post is reprinted from November of 2009. I present it today as a counter point of view to associate Bernie O'Hare's post about what went wrong in Allentown. O'Hare assigns too much emphasis on scattered site Section 8.  I managed numerous buildings in center city Allentown.

 *This post was written in 2009, and the new housing refers to the then new townhouses at 8th and Walnut, and others planned for more Parking Authority lots. Those "new" townhouses have since been sold at auction for 50 cents on the dollar, and are in fact now rentals.

photograph of 10th and Chew Streets, 1948

Aug 3, 2015

Smelling The Roses In Allentown

Last summer, I posted about the city purchasing two parcels supposedly for the park system, using funds from the water and sewage lease deal. The transactions interested me, because the last thing the park department needed was more area to not take care of. Although the main stream media never picked up on my revelation, a pit bull from Nazareth now has that bone. Although this blog chronicles the short comings of the park department, especially in regard to the WPA, there is one section, of one park, which receives no criticism.

Paul Pozzi started working for the department in 1979. In 1985, he joined the small crew at the Rose and Old Fashion Gardens. For the last decade, the gardens have been solely under his magnificent care. We who take solace in that magic place owe him a debt of gratitude.

photo by molovinsky, flowers by Paul Pozzi

Aug 1, 2015

Morning Call Exclusive; Molovinsky Running For Mayor

SPECIAL FROM THE MORNING CALL: While the Sunday edition of the Morning Call will discuss the boring white bread on the horizon, such as Bennett, Guridy and Thiel, Wednesday's edition will feature Molovinsky's incredible plans. Moving back into Allentown, it is rumored that he has leased the former penthouse at the Americus Hotel. Below are excerpts from Wednesdays paper, where Molovinsky is interviewed by special assignment and former Call reporter, Naryl Derl.

Naryl Derl: Let me apologize for the shabby treatment I gave you back in 2005. 

Michael Molovinsky: Let's both move on, and save Allentown from the current scandal. 

Naryl Darl: Are you moving into the Americus?

Michael Molovinsky: Nothing has been signed yet, Reilly wants me in the new Strata lofts above Shula's. I told him I would only consider it if I pay full freight, but he can't understand that. I have declined a $20,000 campaign contribution from him, he can't understand that either.

Naryl Darl: What do you think differentiates you from the other candidates?

Michael Molovinsky: I'm honest.

Complete interview will appear in Wednesday's edition of The Morning Call.

Jul 31, 2015

Park Follies and Misappropriations

Over the years this blog and myself have established credibility and expertise on Allentown's traditional park system and the WPA. I must report what I consider to be a major shenanigan by the mayor. $1.3 million dollars was taken to purchase two heavy industrial areas, to supposedly add to the park system. This $million plus dollars was taken from the water/sewage lease, which is being used as the mayor's discretionary fund, instead of the dedicated pension relief,  promised at the time. $950,000.00 was used to buy the parcel at Union and Basin Streets, near the city sewage plant. This is one of the oldest industrial areas in the city, and certainly not needed for more park land. Allentown has not been able to maintain the existing park land, or the features within it. The Fountain Park Pool has been abandoned, and the WPA structures are crumbling. The other just purchased parcel is the old fertilizer plant location,  along Martin Luther King Dr., west of the crumbling Schreibers Bridge. We have an administration with no memory or knowledge of Allentown's past. Anybody who knew what went on at the fertilizer/rendering plant, would not want their grandchildren playing there. The city's rationale for these purchases is to expand the biking paths and connect the parks. That's the folly, and now the misappropriations. Allentown has supposedly allocated money to engineer the repair of the leaning WPA wall in Lehigh Parkway. I know why the wall leans. Years ago, the stone shoulder between the park entrance and wall was blacktoped. As cars and city trucks drive around the curve, pressure is exerted against the wall. That strip of asphalt needs to be removed, and the stone buffer restored. The problem with the engineering study is that it's the third time it has been appropriated. In the last two budgets money was actually budgeted to repair the wall, now the process begins again. What happen to the previous appropriations? Must molovinsky on allentown now also establish expertise in forensic accounting?

reprinted from June 26, 2014

UPDATE: This morning, I interrupt my planned schedule to republish the above piece from June 26, 2014, which is linked to in a post by Bernie O'Hare. The shoulder, which I refer to along the now collapsed wall in Lehigh Parkway, also served as a drainage swale. Over the past several years I had met with two park directors and the city engineer, to no avail, trying to save the wall. Recently, I have reported a problem to the current park director about the Union Terrace WPA structure, that needs immediate attention. At this point in time, I'll leave any analysis of purchase and gain of those parcels to Mr. O'Hare. However, I will say that rather than the parcels connecting the parks, in reality, they are connecting the neglect.

Jul 30, 2015

Spanking The Allentown Arena Promoter

Recently, I have been taking the Allentown Arena to task for having such a sparse schedule.  I stand corrected, nothing is better than the announced indoor midget car racing, coming in January.  The concept itself is so meager that the Morning Call entertainment editor spent half the column reciting the rich racing history in the Lehigh Valley, but it wasn't midget cars, indoors.  Perhaps, if they added a reality show twist; Maybe the cars could be driven by nude midget women, is that politically incorrect?  Anyway, whoever comes to that, I bet they won't be staying at the Renaissance Hotel, or eating at the attached Dime restaurant.

Jul 29, 2015

Waging War Against Allentown Park Weeds

Today, molovinsky leaves downtown Hamilton Street, and travels twenty blocks west to Cedar Park.  As an advocate for the traditional park system, I have been waging a war against the riparian buffers, which make our  magnificent parks an unsightly mess.  In Allentown, because the storm runoff systems are piped directly into the park streams, these token buffers are just a useless, unsightly insult.  This hot summer, this insult is added to injury, because Cedar Beach Pool is closed. Along the entire length of Cedar Park, there is not one area cleared of high weeds.  You would think that out of a mile of creek side,  we could mow the grass for at least fifty feet,  so that some children might enjoy the stream, as generations have in the past.

Jul 28, 2015

A Field Trip To Allentown's 7th & Hamilton

On Saturday evening, during prime dinner time, I surveyed the four trendy rent subsidized restaurants at center square. While the outside area at Hamilton Kitchen was fairly full with drinkers and snackers, the inside tables were virtually empty. Shula's was near empty. The Dime was about one third full, and Roar was also virtually empty. The Renaissance Hotel showed no signs of life in the lobby, suggesting few to no guests. An interesting comment was recently submitted to an older post.
The LVH building(at the arena) is a joke. As an employee, I wasn't allowed to park in that lovely enclosed parking lot underneath the actual building while going through EPIC training-- I had to park BLOCKS away-- It seems that all of the peons of LVH have to park quite a distance away as well from what I could see. While attempting to try to park in that "special" lot under the building, I had some nasty parking lot gestapo make me turn around since I didn't have the correct magical permit affixed to my rear view mirror. Undoubtably that lot is somehow restricted to "special people" . Honestly, they would have to hire a fleet of security officers to escort each and every one of us. I just walked quickly with my keys sticking out between my knuckles. When I work at the Bethlehem site, I wind up parking at the dead mall next door and spend fifteen minutes just walking to the desk where I work, so it made no difference to me. Taking a peak at the restaurants near the entrance, I find it hard to imagine most employees having lunches long enough to dine there, let alone being able to afford to eat there. Granted, I could afford a soft pretzel... As far as the gyn is concerned, I would rather pull out my hair one by one than deal with the traffic to go there in the morning before or after work. I highly doubt any potential patient would want to deal with driving there for a doctor's appointment, unless they live a very short distance away and are very familiar with the area. After driving through the decrepit outlying area filled with blighted/condemned houses and finally parking, the first thought that came to mind as I saw the newly developed area was, "I smell a rat".
It's apparent to me that virtually free rent may not be enough to keep these restaurants afloat. Reilly might have to consider actually paying them to stay open.

Jul 27, 2015

Sam Bennett Killed At Donecker Mansion

Sam Bennett had pledged to chain herself to the fence at the Donecker Mansion, to save it from the plan by St.Lukes Hospital to demolish the structure. Heavy demolition equipment made short order of the building today. Although I haven't heard any news reports about Bennett's fate, I can only assume that Sam was killed early this morning, protecting the mansion. Update and funeral details will follow.

The Ethics Behind Allentown's Revitalization

This weekend The Morning Call had a fine exposé by Scott Kraus on a victory party for the mayor's last election to that office, in January of 2014.  J.B. Reilly contributed fifteen of the twenty thousand dollars raised for the event. Apparently, not all the bills were paid, and not all the money was accounted for.
"If those funds were not used properly, I am upset." J.B.
I doubt that J.B. is upset enough to have lost any sleep this weekend. He was not accused of any wrongdoing. In our era of politics, spending $20 thousand on a party for Eddy doesn't seem improper.  In our era of political correctness, any left over money was supposed to go to the poor people, under Alan Jennings' umbrella organization;  Cake Crumbs For The Poor.  Why wouldn't someone contribute $15k  for Mayor Ed, after all, we're having a $Billion Dollar Revitalization, which J.B.will own.

What really was the big deal about Mayor For Life's third election victory? Mayor for life, a molovinsky on allentown coined phrase, is now being replaced by Pawlowski-Gate,  copyright pending. In the real world, which isn't funded by diverted taxdollars going to private owners, $20,000 would pay for a lot of baby formula and diapers. In the last few years, Allentown, in it's jubilation about the renaissance, has had too much money and not enough values or ethics.

Jul 25, 2015

Pawlowski's Happy Face

The happy face picture is from Thursday night. Although Ed insists that he isn't going anyplace, he better start gathering cardboard boxes for his move. This blog stated that the NIZ Barons will force Pawlowski out once he became a distraction to the building boom, which is based on enthusiasm, not a need for office space. That point actually came a few days later, when Channel 10 ambushed Pawlowski at the Butz ribbon cutting, asking him when he was going to resign. Last night, City Council met to discuss the protocol for succession. It was clearly meant as a message for Ed Pawlowski, because the procedure is spelled out in the charter. I can't say that they're throwing him under the bus on Hamilton Street, because there are no more buses on Hamilton Street.

Jul 24, 2015

Pawlowski's Political Hardball

Before I was a blogger, I was a political activist in Allentown, since the early 1990's. In these twenty five years I've taken numerous lumps. Pawlowski was probably the most aggressive against opposition, having publicly defamed me no less than twice. One of his former press lackeys, formerly from The Morning Call, even tried to marginalize me, just yesterday. Let me return the favor. As I stated previously, I believe that the Neuweiler Brewery might be part of the federal inquiry. Mike Fleck represented the company given the option to try and harvest $30million in NIZ funds. This past winter, that outfit, based in NYC, finally raised the deposit to buy the property from Allentown, from an undisclosed source. Examining Pawlowski's current contributions, we find $30,000 in total contributions from an extended family group involved in venture capital in NYC. Could this be the smoking gun? Thirty grand isn't a bad investment to get $30 million. I have yet to find a link between the venture capital fund and the brewery option, but research is not my strong suit. I can tell you that all six members of the contributing family seem to have no connection to Pennsylvania, much less Allentown or the Pawlowski senate race.

Jul 23, 2015

Schlossberg/Schweyer, Two Peas In A Pod

Peter Schlossberg and Michael Schweyer co-wrote an editorial in the Morning Call. I know I have their first names mixed up, but that's because they're two peas in the same pod. Both boys worked for Jenn Mann, and were Pawlowski bobbleheads on city council. Although now state representatives, they're still Pawlowski bobbleheads. Both boys were part of the Pawlowski PAC, Citizens For A Better Allentown, who told us who to vote for in local elections. Now that Pawlowski is halfway between accused and indicted, the boys are trying to distance themselves from the scandal, but they will always be bobbleheads. In the editorial they champion a Democratic Party state budget proposal, which would supposedly increase funds to Allentown School District, a noble idea indeed. The boys neglect to mention that they have opposed the Republican pension reform bill, which addressed the most pressing fiscal issue of the decade. Since pension reform would protect all former and current employees, and only affect future hires, the only reason to vote against it is to placate the unions. If Peter and Michael want to contribute to the state in some way, perhaps they could share an office and staff. I'm sure that they will never vote differently than each other, or the Democratic party line, anyway.

Jul 22, 2015

Allentown's A-Treat Of News

The headlines in Allentown change quickly. What's top of the heap at noon, may be back page by the morning. Because of this, molovinsky on allentown is negotiating with J.B. Reilly, for a center city satellite office. Yesterday's Morning Call Watch-Dog report has attracted the attention of state auditor general Eugene DePasquale. But as everything else in this valley of mirrors, it's not for the reason presented. Education insiders explain the backside political reason. Governor Wolf has issues with charter schools, and the funds that they siphon off from the brick and mortar public schools. Although the Allentown lease was innocent enough, it's another excuse to review guidelines for charter school applications.

As a citizen and taxpayer of Pennsylvania, I would prefer if Mr. DePasquale would spend his time in Allentown examining the NIZ. With a $Billion Dollars of development, and $40 million or so of our tax dollars going to pay the debt service for private owners, that might be something for an auditor General to examine.

Meanwhile, back here in the valley of few questions, the natives are happy that Jaindl is rescuing their favorite tooth rotter. After all, at the end of the day, why worry about taxes and corruption, when you can sip some flavored corn syrup.

Jul 21, 2015

The New Watchdog

ASD Made Secret Charter School Deal is the headline across the Morning Call. Above it, the paper's new Watchdog Report logo. This is at least the second time recently that the Call has referred to it's articles as Watchdog Reports. Quite a bark from a paper that clearly was a lapdog for the last three years. As I stated yesterday, the paper had to man-up, because the news was passing them by. But, in their haste, are they now making headlines out of nothing?

As some readers know, I keep the family's traditional butcher/baker hours. Also, as some readers know, I have back channels, especially with the school board. From the mail awaiting me early this morning, I can tell you that the school board is not happy with today's headline.

Last year, Abe Atiyeh pushed hard for an elementary art charter school in the former fitness center on Union Street, to fill one of his many buildings. I wrote, at that time, that he even used a public relation's firm to solicit parents, and voice support with the district. Although, the district rejected the application twice, such rejections are usually overturned on appeal to Harrisburg. Meanwhile, the district was formulating their own alternative high school, to both keep charter funds internal, and also be more relevant in today's school environment. The district was interested in the former bank call center, coincidentally owned by Atiyeh, which would give high school students intern access to the new offices on Hamilton Street.

In January, the district ended up approving the art charter school, before a Harrisburg appeal would have overturned their rejection anyway, and also leased the former call center.   At the time, Atiyeh also included a letter, pledging to not submit future charter school applications. To the district, that letter was not the essence of the lease deal, but the lap puppy, turned watchdog, sees it differently. Puppies are supposed to be paper trained, but here in Allentown, the puppy, in it's haste to train the paper, is making unnecessary noise.

Jul 20, 2015

Pennsylvania, A State Of Corruption

In one week, the city hall of two large cities are raided by the FBI, and a third former mayor for life, Reed of Harrisburg, is indicted. Pennsylvania is rotten to the core, and has been for many decades. Last week, I was astonished to see that the Pocono Mountain Exit of the turnpike was EZ Pass only. This is one of Pennsylvania's few destinations,  and where many seniors, who are technology averting, come to vocation. A couple days later, I read that Pennsylvania was taking in big bucks from the fines; They charge the drivers as if they entered the turnpike at the furthest entrance, on the Ohio state border. I could complain to one of the people on the turnpike commission, but we all know that they do nothing. I could complain to one our state representatives, but we all know that they're only concerned with telling us who to vote for, locally on city council, school board and the county commission. Of course, these state reps are experts on democracy, often having no opponents, term after term. It is amusing watching them trying to distance themselves from our local mayor. The PAC, Citizens For A Better Allentown, which both Schweyer and Schlossberg supported along with Pawlowski, has closed shop. Now, those candidates who had relished Pawlowski's support, must now defend their lack of judgement. It's interesting now that The Morning Call finally woke up from their long kitten nap. It's not that they turned into journalists, but they're trying to avoid looking like fools. Since the Philadelphia media picked up on the lack of local ethics, the Morning Call has been forced to reevaluate their former cheerleading. I don't believe that molovinsky on allentown will ever be accused of fluff and puff.

Jul 17, 2015

The Cost Of Pawlowski

The caller, owner of a longtime Allentown business, asked me why he must pay to defend Allentown against Pawlowski? He was referring to the announcement by Susan Wild, city solictitor, that she has retained attorney Robert Goldman, a former federal prosecutor, to advise her on the grand jury process and collection of documents.
"I want to see the city come out of this unscathed." Wild said. "I think we have a very clean [contracting] process, and if any one individual deviated from what our process was supposed to be, we want to know this, too. We want to move forward and for people to respect the way the city of Allentown does business,"
The FBI didn't raid city hall because of the process, but because of the way that it was implemented. At the end of the day, the fair implementation of  public policy depends on ethics, which were apparently lacking in Allentown. I'm afraid this is another Billy Joel song, for the City Without Limits.

Jul 16, 2015

Public Pawlowski Reaction Disappoints Media

Both the main and alternative stream media were disappointed by the lack of public comment on Pawlowski at last night's council meeting, there was none. Emily Opilo, of The Morning Call, had a special article yesterday announcing that it was the first meeting since the FBI raid, and crowds of protesters were expected. Blogger, and Channel 10 celebrity Bernie O'Hare, came down from Nazareth to cover the meeting. O'Hare phoned me from the meeting, astounded that nobody was speaking. He said that Democracy is dead in Allentown at least 20 times, before I hung up on him. Opilo was tweeting about how few people were there. I'm proud of the usual protesters for not showing.

As someone who has attended hundreds of council meetings over the decades, I can tell you that council doesn't listen, even when topics are on the agenda. Although, I'm also surprised that the public didn't address the issue, they would have been speaking to deaf ears. At most, they would have been told that as of yet there are no specific charges, and that council will therefore not engage in speculation.

I can tell you that the citizens are indeed talking about Pawlowski-Gate. Although, I just coined that phrase, and it will be borrowed by the press. The scandal will play a part in November's election. Candidates, who were joined at the hip with Pswlowski, will be claiming that they were not associated, in any way. Although the incident will affect the election's rhetoric, it won't really affect the ethics. As someone with experience as an independent candidate, I don't see local politics progressing beyond incumbents.

Jul 15, 2015

Pawlowski Rains On Butz's Parade

Yesterday was supposed to be a joyful groundbreaking for Butz's NIZ grab. His previous building was under the old KOZ rules, now time to join the Reilly money-train. What should have been a more happy occasion was subdued by news accounts. If that wasn't downbeat enough, Pawlowski arrived, only to be ambushed by Philadelphia TV. Butz junior tried to make lemonade out of the circus, "Obviously, there have been a few distractions recently in the paper. That's unfortunate, but we've come too far to slow things down." Young Butz shouldn't have been dismayed by yesterday's events and news reports, things can always sound worse, like my next paragraphs below.

The groundbreaking was actually somewhat premature. The building is still in the planning stage. What we do know is that it's being wedged onto the current building's parking lot. Butz had previously considered the Parking Authority's lot on 8th, across from the side of the arena. Truth be told, parking lots are the only thing left in the center city NIZ zone, Reilly bought everything else. Bruce Loch is proposing his pencil tower on another small Parking Authority lot.

One thing that was clear from the cloud over yesterday's promotion, is that Pawlowski is now only a distraction from the NIZ business. Before too many questions are raised, and the state program itself is scrutinized, Pawlowski must go.

Jul 14, 2015

Allentown, The Appearance Of Impropriety

Supposedly, Ed Pawlowski is walking around town muttering that he doesn't know what he did wrong. Let me explain it to the mayor. Although Pawlowski may have found it frustrating to be cutting the ribbons on a $Billion Dollars of development, while having a $95,000 salary, he should have guarded against any appearance of impropriety. Instead, his very own campaign manager, Mike Fleck, tried to monetize business connections with the city. Although Fleck claimed that there was a firewall between these two different aspects of his business, that assertion now will have to be proved to a judge. In the most innocent scenario, it was very bad judgement on the part of Pawlowski and Fleck. This lack of judgement would be bad enough if it ended with these two gentlemen, but it does not. The Pawlowski/Fleck machine also managed many our state representatives, our city council and school board members, and candidates for those offices. They should all have to walk around with a large scarlet P/F sewed onto their shirts.

NIZ Debate, L to R, Iannelli, Thode, Traub, Molovinsky, Fleck,

Jul 12, 2015

Criminality and Immorality Merge In Allentown

One thing is for certain, Allentown's mayor Ed Pawlowski will be resigning, even if he isn't charged with anything. Quite a turn of events for someone, less than two weeks ago, who was touting his role in Allentown's revival as a reason to represent the Lehigh Valley in Washington. Today, the Morning Call wonders if the cloud over Allentown might stymie the fast paced development occurring in Allentown. That cloud hovers above Pawlowski, and the people who are benefiting from the $multi-billion $dollar state tax dollar gift called the NIZ, will make him go away, quickly.  Did this cloud come from out of a clear blue sky?

Those familiar with Pawlowski are less surprised than John Q Public about the allegations. The mayor is known to be a vindictive manager. City employees have toiled under that fear for three terms. Furthermore, those of us engaged in policy disagreement know that he doesn't hesitate to publicly defame his opponents. Combine that deficit of character with the NIZ revitalization, and you have the recipe for unbridled hubris. In less than a week, he has gone from stating the investigation centers on city policy, to hiring an acclaimed defense attorney for himself. I do not know if the mayor has done anything illegal. Apparently, the FBI felt that there was probable cause, and executed search warrants. On the other hand, some things that are legal, have profound moral shortcomings.

I believe that some day business and law students will read a case study about the NIZ, and how it legally stole from the taxpayers of Pennsylvania. Over the decades the state devised tax incentives to revitalize certain sites. These plans became more lucrative, climaxing in the absurd NIZ. Everything about the plan suggests that it received little to no oversight by state representatives, who seem universally incompetent. It blatantly only applied to Allentown, which required an amendment to fix. It blatantly overreached on earned income tax, which required an amendment to fix. Its application in Allentown is highly questionable. One individual was loaned a huge amount of money before any plans were submitted to a supposed oversight committee, which was yet to be formed. That individual now owns most of the real estate in the NIZ zone, including almost a square block across from the arena. More astounding, state income taxes and sale taxes are used to finance his privately owned buildings. Even the state cigarette tax can be used, yielding $millions from tobacco wholesalers he acquired. None of the above is illegal, it conforms with a new law, which received no scrutiny by legislators in Harrisburg. How did this money tree come to be?

In the last general election, seven out of eleven state representative were unopposed. The statehouse has become a closed club, where familiarity breeds complacency. Here in Allentown, Pat Browne wisely included the Morning Call building, although it was outside the NIZ map rectangle. News coverage of the arena and construction resembled promotion from an advertising agency. The attitude is that maybe everything is light on fairness, but Allentown's changing for the better.

Although Pawlowski was used as a prop to cut the ribbons, the NIZ was way above his pay-grade from it's start. He tried to use it as a backdrop to first move on to Harrisburg, and now Washington. He's half right, he will be moving. He now is a negative distraction for the Renaissance. The NIZ Barons will pay for his moving van.

Jul 10, 2015

The Renaissance, Drive By Shootings, And Resignation

One wonders if there can be a true renaissance, when drive-by shootings are occurring three blocks away. Although discussions of this sort are referred to as nay-saying in Allentown, that reality is affecting the marketplace. Lehigh Valley Health Network was supposed to put their orthopedic satellite on Hamilton, at the arena. After realizing that patients wouldn't go there, they chose the Westfield Building, out on Tilghman street. To fulfill their obligation to J.B. Reilly, they instead installed a fitness center. However, to induce employees to go down there and use it, they must now hire security personnel to escort the nurses to their cars. Although Pawlowski and his police chief say that crime is down, the nurses know better, they see too many victims. Reilly is succeeding in inducing a critical mass of office workers into the zone. They will need lunch, and there will be a market for restaurants. The success of any shops remains to be seen. How many new apartments can be supported, and who will occupy them, also remains to be seen.

Rumors are starting to circulate that Pawlowski is making plans to resign. Consequently, there are discussions on who council would appoint to replace him. This blog will wait to address that topic when a change occurs. However, the uncertainty doesn't help Reilly's Marketplace.

artwork courtesy of Mark Beyer

Jul 9, 2015

The Honeymoon Is Over

In just a few days time the local newspaper has gone from writing puff pieces to stalking the moving truck driver at Mike Fleck's house. Yesterday, somebody asked me if I feel vindicated, because this blog has been questioning the values of this administration since 2007. Understand, that back then, even the other bloggers thought that I had a personal axe to grind. Truth be told, I was offended by the inequitable policies of city hall, and the hubris and arrogance with which they were implemented. I'm offended that the NIZ fronts one man the money to build $half a billion dollars of real estate, then has the taxpayers pay his mortgage. Although the newspaper is now stalking some of the players, don't expect them to scrutinize the NIZ, they're part and parcel of it. I'm offended that although I have been championing for the WPA structures in our park system for years, half of Lehigh Parkway is now essentially closed from neglect. I'm offended that voters in this town accepted a mayor telling them who to vote for on city council and the school board.

Although these are indeed interesting times politically, this blog will go back to championing for the traditional values which make this town great. Contrary to popular hype, those new shiny buildings are not a renaissance for Allentown. They are just a real estate portfolio for a few chosen men. For a true renaissance we need values, which are solely lacking here in Allentown.

Jul 8, 2015

The Neuweiler Brewery, A Pawlowski/Fleck Shenanigan


The City of Allentown stole the brewery from the rightful owner. Just as the former merchants of Hamilton Street were never allotted the opportunity to benefit from city arranged grants or the NIZ, the former taxpaying owner of the brewery was never given any assistance. Mayor Pawlowski can't stand private investors: If he didn't give you a grant, you're not worth much.

In the early 70's, the City and Redevelopment Authority gave control of the Neuweiler Brewery to a friend. Under the City's watch, windows were removed and exterior walls broken through to remove the brewing tanks and piping for scrap. All metal, wires and any object of value were crudely ripped out in an orgy of demolition. With a large opening in the back wall smashed out, the basement was used as a free landfill by a roofer.

Still, the building remained iconic, because of it's rich industrial architecture. In 2003, a New Jersey investor bought the building in the condition shown in the photograph. The building has been in that condition since the late 70's. His hope was at some point the City would appreciate the landmark, and cooperate in its revival. He must have found the building citations from the Pawlowski administration mind-numbing; Can you image being held responsible for carnage committed by a previous owner under the City's watch? Mayor Pawlowski, afraid someone might want to invest private money in Allentown and pay real estate taxes, actually had the Neuweiler owner jailed when he came to Allentown to discuss the property. The city, then seized the brewery. The former Neuweiler garages, behind the brewery, had been sold years prior to a roofer. A couple years ago the City purchased the roofer's portion,  reuniting the parcel. In May of 2013,  it was announced that Ruckus Brewing was buying the Neuweiler property from the city, and could indeed use NIZ funds for it's redevelopment.

Ruckus was nothing much more than the hype of a young marketing promoter, represented locally by business consultant Mike Fleck.  It has no actual brewing experience,  no experience operating a brew pub,  no real estate experience,  with a very limited distribution of some small beer labels, brewed by contract  elsewhere.  The business,  a marketing office in New York City, already  featured Neuweiler Brewer's Hill Project on their website, as an accomplishment,  to attract investors.  They were actually seeking outside investors on the web, when given the option by the city in 2013. Given extension after extension by the city, they finally settled on the brewery in 2014.  In February of 2015, they were hooked up with the city commercial and economic development agency,  providing more documentation with which to continue seeking  investors.

Above, I compiled excerpts from my previous posts outlining the City's complicity in distressing a property with a first owner,  then stealing it from a second owner, and finally promoting a third owner, with no capital or relevant experience, but the right connection.   molovinsky on allentown, providing the real story behind local shenanigans.

Jul 7, 2015

Schlossberg and Schweyer Should Share Shame

Last evening, Michael Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer appeared on the WFMZ segment about Pawlowski. Both these state representatives agreed with Pawlowski suspending his senate campaign, to concentrate on being mayor. Up until this past weekend, both these boys were supporting Pawlowski's political agenda, including his recommendations about who should sit on the school board and on county board of commissioners. For years, both boys were yes Pawlowski bobbleheads on city council.  Only here, in the valley of political mediocrity, can they get away with such duplicity. School board candidate Charlie Thiel, last week part of Pawlowski's PAC, this week is sharing the scandal stories on his facebook page. These people think that if they change their shirt, they're absolved of any connection with the unfolding drama. With the local conventional media, they are correct about there being no political memory or consequence. However, there also exists an alternative source of scrutiny, thanks for reading molovinsky on allentown.

Jul 6, 2015

Morning Call Puppies Waking Up

Readers of this blog know how exasperated I've been by The Morning Call. Although their columnists and reporters had the bully pulpit, they instead wrote one puff piece after another about Allentown's Renaissance. When I complained about the inequities of the NIZ, Bill White actually referred to me as misguided. Today, fellow blogger Bernie O'Hare wrote a laundry list against Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski. Although O'Hare and I differ on our approach, he targets who he perceives as the perpetrator, I attack the flawed policies, many of his examples today linked back to my blog. Today, the Morning Call is finally forced to wake up. Media sources in Philadelphia are reporting the growing scandal which occurred in the Morning Call's back yard, while they reported on puppies and dining choices. This week I will reprint some posts on abuses which should have been noted by the local media.

Removing The Undesirables From Hamilton Street, Circa 2007

In the fall of 2007, Allentown began the systematic removal of the undesirables from Hamilton Street, in cooperation with Lanta. At the time, I championed for the now former merchants and their customers. Among other things, I organized a meeting at a center city church. Below, three posts from that period are reprinted. For a more complete understanding of the bus stop issue, click on 2007, listed on the right side bar, under the archive section.

MEETING AT CHURCH
As the organizer of the forum at Faith Baptist Church on Lanta, I would like to make some speculations on what was not said at the meeting. First and foremost, the meeting was not covered by The Morning Call. I sent the press release to two reporters,plus the local editor. I'd like to note the "Paper" is a "partner" in the new Lanta Terminal. It was built on land they sold to the Parking Authority and they receive free parking at the new deck; Their publisher attended the dedication with the three amigo's.(scroll down to earlier posting). All four democratic candidates for county commissioner were no shows, although one of the candidates, Kevin Easterling, expressed solidarity over the phone; but Kevin was recently hired by Ed Pawlowski as our new Recreation Director. My attempts to connect with Lehigh Carbon Community College in regard to the effect on their students at the Hamilton Street annex were unanswered. I would like to thank all the candidates who did attend, Ellen Millard-Kern from Senator Browne's office and Bernie O'Hare for his coverage of my efforts.
UPDATE: As a result of a inquiry by Ellen Kern, I did finally receive a call from a dean at the Community College. They approve of the bus stop being removed from in front of their facility because it has "reduced the litter". I inquired about the inconvenience for their students who now must walk to the Lanta terminal; they have received "no complaints". As one who tried to contact a dean myself and received no replies, I must question whether that comment has much value. As winter weather approaches, common sense would indicate a bus stop moved from in front of the building to two blocks away, is not student friendly.

 ALLENTOWN CELEBRATES

Allentown's latest Dancing in the Street, Octoberfeast, will have multi-cultural attractions. There will be genuine rickshaw rides, pulled by former Asian merchants who were forced out of business by the City Department of Gentrification. After this weeks party for the Brewpub, the rickshaws will operate on a regular basis between Hamilton Street and our new Lanta Transportation Center.

 SILENCE OF THE LANTA
Hannibal Lecter has been offered parole on the condition he restrict his diet to Hamilton Street bus riders. Once a month he will be permitted an Asian merchant; on thanksgiving he may have a preselected blogger. Mr. Lector will be micro-chipped and given a new Hamilton Street loft apartment. He will be monitored by the new surveillance cameras. Mayor Pawlowski and Armand Greco will provide more details at a press conference early next week at the new Lanta Terminal.

Jul 5, 2015

Pawlowski's Comment On Probe

The banner on top of Sunday's Morning Call was as long as Pawlowski's actual comment.  Cornered last night at the fireworks show,  he said only "I'm focused on being mayor and celebrating the Fourth of July." Although we have no more information on the exact nature or subject of the investigation,  even Pawlowski's eleven word comment isn't exactly forthcoming.  He  actually is focused on getting out of Dodge, while running for U.S. Senate.  The other person most mentioned in the articles on the probe is Francis Dougherty,  Pawlowski's managing director.  This was a new position created by Pawlowski when first elected for 2006.  Little did Dougherty know that it would turn into Managing Disaster.

Jul 3, 2015

Pawlowski's Poker Face

By now I'm sure everybody knows that federal investigators visited city hall yesterday. This morning I decided not to post on the subject, because the scant facts on the nature of their inquiry were vague. Furthermore, such posts encourage speculative comments. I prefer this blog to host on more factual observations, and informed opinions. However, there is one thing I find fascinating as the day progresses. Ed Pawlowski shares  articles in the Morning Call to his Facebook page, that he finds complimentary to Allentown, and his leadership. Although he has not been available for comment on the federal investigation, he has linked to eight stories today on Facebook, touting the NIZ and one that crime is down in Allentown. Remind me not to play poker with him.

More Mowing In Allentown Parks

I'm sure that the new park director, Lindsay Taylor, was warned about me; The trouble making blogger, who complains about the riparian buffers and neglected WPA structures. However, in addition to my recent letter to the editor, several other letters have appeared, also complaining about the same issues. Truth be told, it offends many people, especially those who remember the parks from years ago. I'm pleased to report that I see a change for the better. The park department is trying a new policy, where sections of the stream banks are being kept rough cut every couple of weeks. Although the grass and growth is still a foot tall, park visitors at least now know that there is a stream there. I would encourage Ms. Taylor to go a step further, and finish cut certain areas, where families traditionally enjoyed the streams. These would include Robin Hood in Lehigh Parkway, and the picnic groves by both Cedar Beach and Honochick Drive. With two swimming pools closed, some grass along the park creeks is indeed in order.

Postcard of Robin Hood, circa 1950. When I was a boy, my father's uncle worked for the park department, mowing Lehigh Parkway.

Jul 2, 2015

Trexler Smiles, Landing Revealed

I believe that today, for the first time in decades, General Trexler had something to smile about. Most people never understood why three steps were near the lower entrance of Lehigh Parkway; they seemed to lead nowhere. This morning eight people joined a grass root effort to unveil, for the first time in decades, the structure I called the Boat Landing.
Buried under the dirt and grass were several more steps leading to a landing. Chris Casey was the first to arrive and cleared these steps and the first landing himself. A second set of steps led from the landing to the main landing on the creek. These second steps had a foot or so of ground and plants.
The quality and condition of the stonework is excellent, as was all our WPA icons. I will be polite and say only that it was a crime to have let this neglect occur. On the main landing the accumulated earth was two and half feet thick. The crew dug out the curving retaining wall several yards in each direction, and cleared off the top of the wall.
Eight people working four hours managed to reveal about one third of the landing at the bottom of the steps. It was a thrill to realize we were standing at creek's edge as the WPA architects had envisioned. I stood there often as a boy. There still remains a large portion of dirt to remove at the steps base, but you can now experience the Boat Landing.
The retaining wall and the landing continue for fifty feet or so in both directions. Unfortunately a huge tree has grown on the landing to the right, but the left appears reclaimable.
We who worked there today, hope to return and clear off the remainder of the dirt at the bottom of the steps.

Perhaps others will be motivated to clear off the remaining portion of the landing to the left. Now that might even be an idea for the City; imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue. I'm most grateful to all those who helped today, and will reveal their names with their permission.

ADDENDUM:Michael –

I just wanted to thank you for organizing today’s cleanup at the “Boat Landing” in the Lehigh Parkway. It’s not often that one gets to help unearth a treasure while barely leaving home, but that’s exactly what happened today.

It was truly impressive what big difference a small group of people can make. I can’t even estimate the amount of dirt that was moved with nothing more than a few shovels and a lot of hard work.
We can only hope that the City and the Trexler Trust will become aware of this location and start giving all the great structures in the Parkway the care they deserve.
However, the best part of the story for me came after we all left. I got home and my daughter Lucy (age 7) wanted to know how things went. We hopped in the car and soon we were walking up to the stairs leading to the landing. The sun was shining, and the sunlight trickled through the trees and onto the freshly-exposed stairway.
Lucy asked if she could go down to the landing by the water and next thing I knew we were both there at the waters edge, standing on what had been buried only a few hours earlier and marveling at the beauty of the location.
We spent a few moments there - a father and daughter both enjoying something completely “new” to us (even though the landing is over 70 years old). We talked briefly about what was – and more importantly what could be again.

Thank you for making that moment possible, and I hope many others take the opportunity to visit the landing in the near future.

Mike Schware
P.S. – After visiting the landing, Lucy and I walked further upstream and saw the remnants of the bridge to the island (near the water fountain). The remaining supports of the bridge confirmed what you had told me earlier about the island being much smaller years ago.
reprinted from March of 2013

ADDENDUM: I organized the cleanup of the Boat Landing in 2009. We did return the next week and clear the remaining portion at the bottom of the steps. Although I have been advocating for the WPA structures for years, the city has yet to spend one cent on maintaining the structures.