Monday, December 26, 2016

No Mudfair in 2017. Why? Here's what I think

     One of the first great things (at the time) that I experienced when I moved to the Lehigh Valley in  the mid 1990's was the Mayfair celebration on Cedar Beach in Allentown. Way back then, it was a come as you are kind of thing. There was no admission fee, you just found a place to park within a mile or so, and walked up to it. All the entertainment was FREE! And it was a great time. You could walk around and check out all kinds of art exhibits, and sit down just about anywhere and enjoy the music.
        It might be hard for some to believe this, but when Sam Bennett took over as director for a few years, it actually had its' best success financially. Unfortunately she moved on, and it was not long until Ed Pawlowski came to town. Then he became Mayor, and somewhere along the line, somebody decided that Mayfair had to make lots of money. Sure it turned a profit, but hey, why not squeeze every last buck we can out of it?

       So in setting out to make it more popular and more of a money maker, those in charge ended up doing exactly the opposite. They fenced it in and started charging admission. They claimed it was to attract better musical acts, but I think they really just wanted to keep the residents that they considered low income riff raff and a threat to what they wanted their party to be, out.

      In Short, the organizers alienated the very residents that Mayfair was meant to embrace as part of a greater community.  If you see a few parallels between this story and how hardly any of the inner city residents seem to ever show up for events at the PP&L Center, then your eyes are open.

     That Mayfair is on Life Support and possibly about to get Last rites should be an eye opener for all the downtown cheerleaders. It is a symptom of a greater affliction. What will happen when the shine leaves the PP&L Center in 5 to 7 years? When you have a nucleus in the center of the city that can't be adequately supported without most of the money coming from outside it's core, it is hard to maintain its health.

   The Operators of Mayfair over the course of the last decade have completely alienated the citizenry they would supposedly be serving. In Contrast, the downtown revitalization brigade thinks they can survive almost solely on people coming downtown as a destination. Eventually this shell game of tax revenues will end, and without that, then what? Another cycle thru a declining market and the abandonment of the inner city? Will the loft apartments of 2017 become the subsidized public housing of 2032? 

      I wouldn't bet against it.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Mighty wind says Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski will not seek a fourth term

   In recent conversations with a local Democrat who holds office in the Lehigh Valley area, I was assured that the present Mayor of Allentown has no plans to run for a fourth term.
   I am not disparaging my source by referring to them as "A Mighty Wind", in fact, they got a kick out of my reference to the movie of the same title.

   There is some circumstantial evidence hinting that Pawlowski was not going to run. He hasn't put together a campaign team to replace the departed Fleckster, and it should be no surprise to anyone that after the FBI seized all his campaign assets, he is not exactly raking in the cash.

     But most importantly, the looming threat of indictment for his pay to play practices as detailed in the local media and on other local blogs is a dark cloud that has no silver lining for anyone, neither the observed Mayor or the observing public. His ongoing battle over the 2017 budget with City Council and the threat of taxpayer funded lawsuits does him no favors as well, but every conversation always comes back to the sense of inevitability that he will eventually, before the apocalypse perhaps, be indicted,

      There will be turnover at the justice department with a new  Presidential administration which could, and likely will, drag the drama on even longer. And who knows what Pawlowski's not running might inspire the Feds to do, (DEAL or NO DEAL?) you never know.

      There is one more thing I should mention. Currently, Local Activists Sam Bennett, Allentown School Board Member Charlie Thiel, and Lehigh County Commissioner David Jones have all announced their intention to enter the May 2017 Mayoral Primary. There are rumors City Councilman Darryl Hendricks may also enter the Fray.

      I have kept track of local election numbers for years now, and if Pawlowski were to run, that would make 4, and possibly 5 candidates. I believe that Pawlowski has a voter core that consists of twenty eight to thirty one percent (+/- 1.5%)  of Allentown voters who will remain loyal and vote for him under any circumstances. In a multi candidate primary, Thirty percent could be enough to get him nominated for a fourth term.
     In that scenario, I would have sat all the non Pawlowski players down together and told them to try and work out who really wants it and who really has an idea what they want to do. Good intentions are nice, but the road to hell is paved with them, and the current situation in Allentown proves my point.

     I believe my source when they say Mayor Pawlowski is calling it a day at the end of 2017, but I personally won't breath a sigh of relief until he announces it, or the FBI drags him from City Hall in handcuffs.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Trump might be our president Elect, but it is still Christmas

   A question I would never have imagined asking, ever: If it was even slightly suspected that the Russians had helped elect Hillary Clinton, Would not the Republican party be screaming for an investigation?
   Yet here we sit, at what could be the last normal Christmas in American History, wondering if our government will be able to function once the New President takes office.
    I have always believed as a loyal American citizen, and an honorably discharged ,military veteran, that I had a duty to respect those holding office in authority above me, whether I voted for them or not. I believe in practicing the role of "the Loyal Opposition," disagreeing with those in power, but working towards an acceptable compromise.
   I don't believe that Donald Trump and those he are appointing to his Cabinet will have any respect for their opposition. They surely haven't shown any so far. In fact, Mr. Trump is still touring the Country on his so called "Victory tour" rubbing his win in the faces of those in the minority, and doing absolutely nothing to unite the rest of the country behind his myopic vision. His Cabinet is nothing but "My Way or the Highway" people, who have convinced themselves that their self serving financial gain will eventually benefit the rest of us.
   It has never happened before in American history, what makes any of us believe it will happen now?
   I started out in writing this piece wondering if this is America's last "normal" Christmas as we know it in our lifetime. I truly fear that Donald Trump may bring about a global Armageddon through his lack of intelligence of World Affairs. He has surrounded himself with YES People, and I see no one willing to step forward and rein him in.
     If we survive to see the end of his term,it will no doubt be through God's grace, and by enduring many crises similar to the Cuban missile crisis of October 1961. He has already needlessly irritated China, and God knows what action of the many he has suggested that might spur the radical Islamic terror groups to strike at the very heart of America.

         But I still believe in Christmas, and that salvation is out there in one way, shape or form for all of us. Christmas is all about new beginnings, new life, and new ways to do things. I do believe that somehow we Americans are going to find our way to survive a Trump Presidency, even if the path we take is a crucible of fire to get through it.


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Easton needs a slogan? I have a few suggestions!

It always makes me laugh when I see municipalities throwing money at laughable goals such as determining an official slogan. I guess Mayor Panto had some cash stashed in the back of one of the old city hall cabinets that got moved to the new building. I am willing to sell my suggestions pretty cheap. So how about "Easton, Mike Fleck was almost our mayor!"  Or how about "Easton, we have just as much gunfire as Allentown."  Of course, I can't pass up the chance to honor the great Mayor Sal Panto, so how about, "Easton, our mayor is not a crook!"  Well, at least as far as we know.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The media rehabilitation of Ed Pawlowsi has begun

The local news media never ceases to amaze me. I have begun to believe that the Mayor of Allentown is named Ed "he has not been charged or indicted " Pawlowski. But in the last few weeks, the local print media has given the "Mayor not indicted yet" several articles that portray him sympathetically. They even let him write an Op-ed about gun control legislation after the Florida night club terrorist attack.                                                                      With all the previous indictments and guilty pleas that point to he who has not been indicted yet as the ringleader in charge of the Allentown pay to play game, if this mayor walks free, it will destroy any shred of justice for the common folks.  I can't help but wonder who is behind this kindle, gentler, and sympathetic portrait painting of St. Ed. If Ed runs for a fourth term, it would not shock me if he were to win. Don't believe me? Hey, the Mayor of Washington D.C. got caught smoking crack on video and he got his job back. If he could do it, he who has not been indicted yet could do it too. I would bet on it.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The derailed thought train

 Just a few random stops from my train of thought : Sam Bennett has announced her candidacy for Allentown mayor in 2017. Now that the Fleckster is in hiding, there's a big opportunity for Bennett to get the job she has coveted since 2001. No one will have enough funding to run negative attacks on her.              Meanwhile, current Allentown mayor Pawlowski had an Op Ed printed in the local hard media calling for a stricter weapons control law. It is really hard to take a future Federal inductee serious on anything. Allowing  Ed to preach on anything is like allowing a Fox to preach on the need for better henhouse security.                                                                 The race for our president will be anything but dull. Is it not ironic that Republican backed laws to insure only the right people vote may also insure that Donald Trump might actually win? Wrestling fans who can't spell the word vote are going to get to cast one. America is going to possibly get the reality show based elected idiot that the masses deserve. Maybe Hillary and Donald could have an American idol style sing off to decide the election.          Finally, a few words concerning the raging second amendment political debate: someone please explain to me why we have tighter government control of gambling, liquor, and cigarettes than we do firearms? That doesn't make any sense, but that is how things are.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

And now, the next contestant on: "Who is wearing a wire for the FBI?!"

Will the revelations ever cease?  In the past week it was revealed that the Fed's had the pa state treasurer wearing a wire in one case, and Mike's Flecks right hand man Sam I am wearing one as well.  Is there anybody in local government other than mayor Pawlowski who was not wearing a wire? Maybe at the next local Democratic party meeting, they can separate into two groups of either "wired" or "not wired", instead of county and city Groups.  How big is the FBI budget for investigating PA electeds? The way they are going, I am thinking that maybe Pawlowski's hoping they run out of money before they can indict him.
     A few other random thoughts:
     The thought of Mike Fleck making a living selling used cars in the middle of nowhere is hilarious, and the revelation from the prosecution  that he had attempted to warn the Mayor that he was wearing a wire made me laugh out loud.
Absolutely no honor long thieves, is there? They all deserve whatever they get. As for our next contestant? Anybody want to bet that the FBI sent a fake business person into the mayor's office as well?
I can't help but think that at least one City councilperson knew what was going on. Does anybody believe that all seven were oblivious to the mayor's operations? If that is true then there may still be a few surprises ahead. The FBI has issued their last call for deals. If you weren't smart enough to make one by now, oh well.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Thoughts on the circus

Sorry I haven't posted in a month, but I wasn't comfortable with the tone of most of my writing. This whole Trump show is terrifying. In local news, there are so many contradictory news stories concerning the health of Allentown that I am having problems differentiating what is real news compared to the fluff. How can we have five of the most impoverished zip codes in Allentown when there is so much ahem, investment? It is really like watching a bait and switch ad at a disreputable retail outlet. Anyway, I no longer am employed at Amazon, I have moved on to a better place. No. I did not die, but I would have if I had stayed. Oh well. I am cheering for Villanova tonight, I had them winning in my pool. Go Wildcats!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Most Telling "Fed ED" comment so far

      This morning I was treated to two mind blowing things. The first was at Dunkin Donuts, where a guy wearing very thin Pajama bottoms stood at the counter ordering coffee with his junk hanging out. He also had on bedroom slippers, a heavy coat and a stocking cap on his head. He really needed to have that stocking cap covering another part of his anatomy.

       The second happened while reading the local newspaper. Just when you thought the Mayor of Allentown and his enablers could not be more oblivious to the seriousness of the FBI investigation, they surpass themselves. We are more than six months since the revelations about the Pay to play game, and the attorney for said Mayor Pawlowski, Jack McMahon, offered up this gem of a quote when asked about the mayor's use of "Burner" phones, and having the Mayor's office electronically swept for illicit listening devices, aka "Bugs."

     "If I was the mayor, I'd have my office swept too," McMahon said.
"It's a long-standing mayoral tradition," he later added.

      Yes, he actually said that. It is a long-standing mayoral tradition, in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington , and New York City. Places where corruption has been known to run rampant.

       But Allentown? Thank You Ed Pawlowski, for further bringing Allentown down the road towards having the same reputation as much larger cities but with not as much money.

        "It's a long-standing mayoral tradition."

       Corruption and politics. It is a tradition all right. But it shouldn't be.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ballot Challenges. The Bad and the Worst in the Lehigh Valley.

    There was so much to take in this week, but now that we are less than two months from primary election day, there is also much to discuss.

     So who is on the ballot?

       In at least two area house districts, the 183rd and 22nd, there are petition challenges.

      In the 183rd, it is obvious to any outside observer that heir to the do nothing Harhart throne Cindy Miller is trying to clear her path. She reportedly has jesters doing her bidding on both the Republican and Democratic sides. She is trying to knock out the two other Republicans who submitted nominating petitions, and there are games afoot on the Democratic side as well. If all succeed, on primary day Cincy Miller might be the only one left standing, and there is solid talk she has plans to run a write in on the Democratic side to lock it all up in November. There aren't any real question as to whether the candidates tried to pull a fast one, it is more about technical mistakes that might have occurred. I am a big believer in erring on the side of letting the people choose, but some candidates fear that, and abuse the system to protect their own interests. When some candidates start claiming they are trying to protect the sanctity of the process they are full of it. They are protecting their own ass.

       This is why Democracy is dying in Pennsylvania, because of people like Cindy Miller. I hope at least one candidate survives, and that she gets called out because of it. No seat should be inherited, it should be earned.

       On that note, let me turn to the 22nd, where no Republican submitted petitions, but on the Democrat side, two citizens did, incumbent Peter Schweyer and challenger Norberto Dominguez. I don't know what the issue with Dominguez's petitions might be, but again, I think this is an issue that unless there was a blatantly egregious intent to perpetrate fraud, it should not have been broached. I don't know yet whose name is on the challenge or what the particulars of the filing are, but much of the collateral issues concerning race and what I will call the genetic make up of the district are troubling. I believe Pete could have easily won the primary without anyone filing a challenge, and that this now might mobilize a part of the community against him. But I don't believe that would still keep him from Winning the primary. What I do believe is that this causes a rift long term inside the local Democratic community.

       At a time when Republicans seem to be intent nationally on alienating all non-white citizens, Democrats should be accepting of Hispanic candidates and engaging in open debates on their issues at all political levels.

    Ballot challenges for the right reasons are not bad if they are valid. But when they are solely motivated by reasons of personal or political gain, I can only hope that the jurists deciding these cases takes into account the intent of the law, not the intent of any overly ambitious candidate or anyone acting upon their behalf.

Updated Saturday 5 PM: I was informed this AM that the only person truly portraying themselve as an appointed heir to Julie Harhart's seat is Cindy Miller. There is evidence that Frank Harhart actually encouraged and signed the petition for Zachary Mako.  Then I heard from two separate sources that Cindy Miller "jumped the gun" in filing these challenges. I believe she had to resign her job in Harhart's office to run according to state law. No doubt there are still some interesting conversations going on in that district. I also got confirmation that Republican campaign consultant Robert Kerr, is working for Cindy Miller. That means there are no rules, Kerr has a reputation for ruthlessness and taking no prisoners. Looks like fun for all up there in the 183rd.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yes, Virginia, the NIZ in Allentown will fail

   People say I am a naysayer because I look at downtown Allentown and see a big empty space in 20 years. Now why do I say that?

     Because those who ignore history tend to repeat it.

     I know a little something about what happens when leaders ignore economic realities and try to push solutions down people's throats.

     I want people to go to Google maps and look up Columbus Commons, 160 South High Street, 43215. it is one block from the Ohio State house and surrounded by Government buildings. Kind of like the PPL center in Allentown. You will see a huge empty area that doesn't have a lot of trees yet, but is a great big park. A nice big green space in the middle of Columbus.

      But let me tell you a secret. Prior to the mid 1980's, that was a residential neighborhood, it was a bit seedy, kind of like the Fairgrounds district of Allentown.

      Back around 1986, with white flight and all the downtown businesses moving to the suburbs, The Republican mayor and some of the local movers and shakers got together and decided that what they needed to revitalize the area was a upper class SHOPPING MALL. Any of this sound familiar?!

     So they played eminent domain, condemned many of the old homes and built their big shiny mall with over a hundred stores and even a Macy's as an "Anchor" tenant. They drove out most of the Mom and Pop long time family owned markets and specialty shops, many closing and never reopening elsewhere. The City Center mall opened to much fan fair in October of 1989. Everybody hailed City Center as the savior of downtown Columbus. The old neighborhood was lost to history, and now exists only in photographs at the Ohio Historical society.

       Now Columbus has changed, and for the better in some places. But what happened at City Center mall was that there wasn't anything there that people couldn't get at another branch of the same store in a nearby suburb. Also, many of the chic upscale stores were out of the financial reach of most of the residents in the immediate neighborhoods.

         In 1999 all of the sweet deals and incentives expired and by 2007 there were only three stores open in it, and in 2008 it was razed and made into open space. It was a $50+ million dollar project back then, and the Columbus Development authority gave sweet deals to attract tenants. (That sound familiar?) The City of Columbus GUARANTEED the Construction debt.    

        What am I supposed to say? I see Allentown and the State of Pennsylvania tossing what might surpass a billion dollars eventually down a toilet, and I should clap in approval? Lehigh County is doing the same thing out here in Hamilton Crossings, and that is one more reason you will have a big empty park in Allentown decades from now. Except here we gave the developers tax dollars in the form of "Remediation" fees because the ground was contaminated. Yea right, it was welfare for the wealthy, pure and simple, no matter what you call it.
      At least people in the Macungies can afford to shop there, and in a choice between going into Allentown or shopping at the Crossings, which do you think they will pick? Throw in James Ochse singing in the streets of Allentown, and nobody is going down there.

      I don't want the NIZ to fail, but when I look at history, common sense says it will. Columbus is not the only city in the recent past to have a downtown dream project turn to crap. These projects have popped out like Zits across the American map. The Sovereign Center just down the road in Reading is no beauty. Pick any Allentown sized City in America, and you can find a project backed by public money that failed.

      Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. In this case, I don't think the powers that be even bothered to learn any.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The PEE Tax. Why Pawlowski is really doing an Inventory of the City's trees.

       During his state of the CITY  Titanic address, Mayor Ed Pawlowski proudly noted that he had ordered an inventory of all the trees in Allentown.

        You might think this was done to help in the aesthetic appearance and ecological health of the Queen City, but you would be wrong. I have learned thru deeply placed anonymous sources that the mayor is not only counting trees, but taking urine samples from the bark at street level. Allentown parks and Recreation has developed a test to trace the Urine back to licensed dogs in the city, and the Mayor plans to start charging a yearly fee to all dog owners for their dogs to pee. He expects that with over 2500 licensed canines living in the city, he can collect another quarter million dollars for his defense fund city beautification initiative by charging each dog owner a $100 fee on top of the yearly County Licensing fee.

         There are rumors that he may use this same technology to identify citizens who pee too much in Allentown and assess them a surcharge for putting too much pee into the City's sewer system.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Just WHO MIGHT be applying for vacant Allentown City Council seat.

       File this under things to consider:

            Allentown really needs a dose of integrity on City Council. The vote to appoint Council member Glazier Controller was unanimous. That means even the two former law enforcement officials on council went along with Glazier, mostly because they didn't care for the other candidate.

            So to remedy that in filling Glazier's position, the move is on by the known rabble rousers in Allentown to get as many qualified candidates as possible to apply for the vacant seat.

            Personally, I think a female political outsider like Diane Fegley, Gina Blevins, or Kim Velez deserves a shot. Even bringing back the experienced past council woman Gail Hoover or promoting Tenth ward Constable Tonya Tretter are reasonable to allowing the good old gang presently in majority to sail on unimpeded and unquestioned.

              Those five woman are all well educated and have been active in questioning the affairs of the city from outside the halls of power.

               I am not saying that Council should HAVE to pick a woman, what I am saying is that there is no excuse for them not to consider them as viable candidates. The rumor currently is that the present council power group has already asked former member Joe Davis to apply because that is who they want.
              I don't know if that is true, but with their track record, it seems plausible enough.

             There is also some evidence on Social media that a certain County Commissioner might consider moving sideways to City Council. There are good arguments pro and con concerning that, pro being that Council could use a stiff dose of ethics and a person with a rigid morale center, con being that the person was elected to serve at the County level and needs to finish that commitment.

            I personally would encourage movement to City Council, but that is why I never won an election, I am most often wrong when working on my own.

            So here you go. Please feel free to offer your own candidates and why, and if there is someone I list you don't like, please be civil in explaining why.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Pawlowski Corruption fire jumps 2 blocks west to the South side of Hamilton Street

              When I saw that the FBI had hit Lehigh County Government with Subpoenas for all emails concerning certain parties as of January 1st 2014, I got a knot in my stomach. That was the beginning of newly elected Executive Tom Muller's administration. That they didn't go back in time any further was a clue to who and what they were looking at. With the pay to play scandal in Allentown as a guide, I started looking thru Campaign Finance Reports (CFR's) of all the County candidates.

    So here is what stuck out to me: Reported by Sam Ruchlewicz on 11/5/2013 on a report filed as Tom Muller pre-election 24 hour reporting6 is a $20,000 GOTV (Get out the Vote) in kind donation from the Friends of Ed Pawlowski PAC.

    So then I moseyed over to the City CFR website to see what was reported on the Friends of Ed Pawlowski CFR for the period of 10/22/2013 to 11/25/2013. I wanted to see if there was any large influx of funds in the days before the election and who were the donors. I will put links up for those reports, but what I found odd is that while Sam Ruchlewicz put a $20,000 in kind donation on Tom Mullers' report, he did not list that pay out anywhere on the report for the Friends of Ed Pawlowski.

     Sam Ruchlewicz is shown on the front page of the reports for both County Executive Muller and Mayor Pawlowski as the person submitting the reports.

     If you look at both reports (and several others) very carefully, you can see that Sam Ruchlewicz submitted them all. Some he submitted by email, some were handwritten. A $20,000 GOTV in kind donation is not something you would think someone would forget to list. Is it possible that a $20,000 in kind expense was a cover for funds to get something else done, or possibly line someone's pockets?  I am open to other suggestions on this. If Sam Ruchlewicz was wearing a wire, I have to believe the FBI had to have something to persuade him to go along. I can't find any accounting for this money in the proper timeline. It is as if it were imaginary money that was claimed to be spent on a GOTV exercise, but no validation or record of it ever really being put into play. Did it even really exist? It's kind of like Fleck consulting, which was managing both campaigns said, yeah Mr. Muller, we are spending $20,000.00 in Gotv on your behalf, meanwhile they billed and collected from the Friends of Ed Pawlowski $20,500.00.

     You can see Muller's County reports by clicking here. When the page comes up, go over to the left and click on 2013. It will show 19 pages holding 187 different reports for 2013, On pages 16 and 17 you will find Muller's reports. I suggest reading through all of them, the list of $1000+ donors is impressive for its bipartisanship.

     You can see Pawlowski's post election report by clicking here. To look at the list of all Pawlowski CFR's, click here. If you have time, read thru them. It is eye opening, and you wonder why no one put the money trail together earlier.

      Sam Ruchlewicz, as well as Mike Fleck, has been named on every Allentown subpoena so far, and he was known as Mike Fleck's right hand man. The evidence is somewhat overwhelming at this point that Sam Ruchlewicz might have been the other person potentially wearing a wire in this corruption caper.

      It does not bode well that Sam Ruchlewicz, at the direction of Mike Fleck, was juggling both financial operations for the County Executive and Allentown Mayoral campaigns. Ruchlewicz was filing all the reports, but it is hard to believe he was not working under the direct order of Mike Fleck.

   . The ghost of Northeast revenue, everybody's favorite tax collector service, and home to many wealthy campaign donors, seems to be heading down to County offices to spook a few folks. Allentown Council wants to kick their contract to the curb, but Mayor Pawlowski is resisting that.

     Meanwhile, Sam Ruchlewicz's social media presence reveals that all is well with him down in the DC/Baltimore metro area. And in the Fleckster's case, as Charlie Daniel's once sang, the devil has most definitely gone down to Georgia.

     Eventually I hope they have to come back up, at least as far as Philadelphia federal Court, to explain their roles in all this corruption. But I don't think their hands are clean, and far from it.

It's Groundhog/Pawlowski Day!

   This just in!

        At approximately 5:19 AM this morning, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski went outside to get his home delivery addition of the local newspaper.

        He SAW his SHADOW on the pavement from a nearby streetlight, and scurried back into his home.

        This means he will try to stay in office for at least six more months.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Public Official No.3 Brush Fire is spreading

        A fire in the wilderness is most likely started by carelessness. Public Official no.3, AKA Mayor Ed Pawlowski, was not just careless. He was greedy, and he was arrogant. He left traces of his hazardous flammable waste of toxic governing methods everywhere he went. Then one day, the FBI came along, attracted by the smoke of its smoldering corruption. The FBI started investigating to find the source, and they found it, by following the source of the fuel as always: MONEY. The Fire is getting hotter everyday.

       Now the fire rages as an Inferno consuming every thing in its path. The political fire raging in the Allentown has now jumped from City Hall to just down the street in the Parking Authority. It appears the flames are encroaching County Government because last night it singed a long time member of the Lehigh County Authority, the beneficiaries of Allentown's sale of the municipal water supply.

        If this were a fire burning in the brush on South Mountain, Every available Fire Company would be out trying to contain it. But this fire burns in the chairs surrounding the tables where sit Lehigh Counties most powerful players. And the seats are definitely getting hot. But the FBI isn't concerned with putting the fire out right away. They are more interested in catching all who had something to do with fueling it.

         The FBI subpoenaed EVERYTHING imaginable from the Allentown Parking authority, because they have a plea deal in hand from FORMER City Controller Mary Ellen Koval detailing how the bidding process to build a new parking garage was rigged to make sure certain political donors got the job. I REPEAT, The FBI has the evidence and a guilty plea by a major player in hand as they go about searching the parking authorities records.

        Then last night, The Lehigh County Commissioner's shot down the reappointment of Emrich Stellar to the Board of the Lehigh County Authority. Stellar had served on the board for a decade, but his major accomplishment was carrying the Mayor of Allentown's water (pun Intended) when Allentown sold off its' Water operations so it could fund pension obligations. There are still several unanswered, at least publicly, about how the company handling this sale just happened to be a big Pawlowski Campaign donor. There's also legitimate questions to how the bidding might have been adjusted to make sure the Lehigh County Authority was the purchaser.

    The FBI hasn't got to that branch of the inferno yet, but something tells me they eventually will.

     Almost every news item in the local media, print, television, radio, or social contains the same telling paragraph:

      "A description of Public Official No.3 in court documents only matches Pawlowski. Pawlowski has not been charged. He did not respond to a request for comment."

       I imagine it is really hard to respond when the FBI has a blazing hot poker up against your backside., and in front of you is a blazing inferno. The Mayor has led the City, and yes, much of the county's ruling elite, to the gates of Hell. I don't know what rock song would be more appropriate right now, Sympathy for the Devil, by the Stones, or AC/DC's "Hell's Bells." With even the Lehigh Council of Churches involved in this hell fire because they kicked the homeless out into a blizzard, I am going to go with Hell's Bells. Anybody else have a suggestion?

St Edwin the Martyr

      I had to laugh at those who came to Allentown City Hall last week to support the Mayor, especially those who suggested we should build a statue to him. The idea that the Mayor was the victim of a vindictive witch hunt was amusing.

      But I am okay with erecting a statue of the Mayor, and I have a suggestion as to where they should put it. If the Feds ever decide to build a new facility closer to Philly, South Allentown's old Mack yards would be perfect. It could be a facility to treat delusional inmates, and they could erect a statue of Ed to celebrate his role in putting Allentown on the map in the history of Government corruption, all the while ignoring the reality around him.

      For laughs, I would have Ed's statue gazing into the heavens, with "I've done nothing wrong" engraved by his feet, but above the name plate, "St Edwin the Martyr of Allentown."

     We might even want to give him Angels' wings. Where would you put Ed's statue?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A blizzard of Topics, from No Confidence to The Voting Dead.

       So we got a little snow this past weekend. But the real Flurries started last Wednesday when members of Allentown City Council wept as they voted to ask the mayor to resign. Strangely, Julio Guridy tried to take some credit for some of the mayor's , uh, accomplishments. Always a team player, that Julio!

        Instead of attending the Council meeting to defend himself, The Mayor represented Allentown at a national Conference of mayors meeting in Washington D.C. Where he had time to take a selfie with a Presidential Cabinet member and post it on Social media. What No Confidence! The Mayor looks Confident to me!

         Then the real storm came. and the good Christians of Allentown closed their warming station at 8 AM Saturday morning and sent the homeless on their way. Fortunately another church became aware of the situation and opened their doors, but the place funded by a grant of tax dollars? It claimed it did not have enough volunteers to stay open. Yes, Volunteers, the unpaid kind. We can't be wasting tax dollars on keeping the homeless warm in a blizzard, can we?  Rules are rules, move along homeless people, God wants you to suffer, it will make you stronger.

    Oh, What would Jesus do? I think someone at the Lehigh Council of Churches missed one too many sessions of Gospel Study!

     That story had a happy ending. Unfortunately, the snow was not ending, and here we are, 33 or so inches and nearly four days later, and somehow, the city streets are still a mess in Allentown. They have the manpower, and they have the equipment. What they don't seem to have is a coordinated plan of attack. You have Cedar Beach park, and numerous other city parks, did it ever occur to anyone to designate Snow dump zones in any of them? If the biggest problem is where to put so much snow, that would have solved a lot of it. Even Dumping it in the Lehigh River is a good option, hell maybe they are doing it. I just remember serving in Germany during four horrible winters, and we had a plan for clearing the numerous heavy snowfall on our post. We knew it was coming eventually, and we were always ready for it.  I guess you can't expect a City to have a contingency plan for an emergency like snow, I guess it means Allentown would actually be pretty screwed in case of a real natural disaster like say a Zombie Apocalypse, but we have a Voting Dead attack every Municipal election and they survive that, so what do you expect?

     Allentown soldiers on, and the gentrifying elite look down upon the struggling masses from their fortresses up in the Stratas, sad that Shula's closed, and miffed that they won't be able to get their hair coiffed at American hairlines for too much longer. It doesn't matter if the snow isn't moved in front of them yet, nobody needs those parking spaces anyway.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Captain Ed Pawlowski's State of the Titanic/Allentown Speech

       Next Friday, on January 29th, The esteemed but not indicted/arrested/convicted yet Mayor Ed Pawlowski will give his State of the City Speech at the Renaissance Hotel in rejuvenated, reinvigorated, reborn, reimagined, and last but not least revitalized downtown Allentown.

       We don't know exactly WHAT the current Mayor might say, but I believe by revisiting (Another word beginning with RE!) history other comparable events, we can get an idea.

       So here is what I believe Ed might say, if instead of addressing civic leaders as the mayor, he were to be addressing passengers on the Titanic as the Captain at approximately 1:30 AM in the morning, after striking the Iceberg

        Attention passengers: It is I the Captain. I know there are many rumors about the ship that we may have struck an Iceberg. I have seen no evidence of that. Yes, there is ice all over the deck, but that only means that an Iceberg may have hit US. I assure you, that as we sailed through this night, we sent out regular messages warning all the Icebergs to get out of our way. Unfortunately, one stubborn Iceberg decided not to listen, and headed right for us. Despite our best efforts, The Iceberg refused to listen and now there may or may not be a slight leak on one side of our bow, but it is nothing to worry about. No one who donated to my campaign is quartered there.

   Before I forget, I do want to share some good news. Tomorrow we will start conversion of the unfinished observation deck into an outdoor ballroom. I'm sure the dancers among you are thrilled!

      Now back to the situation at hand. Fortunately, my chief purser, Miss Koval, got us a really good deal on three rolls of duct tape before we left port. My supplier said they are stronger than steel and perfect for hull patching, should the need arise, Though I am not saying it has.

      I instructed Miss Koval to take bids on repair materials before we left dry dock, and she purchased the needed items at the direction of my good friend and benefactor Mr Fleck. They were delivered as we embarked, so we are prepared for every emergency. I am just sorry Mr. Fleck could not make the trip with us.

      Oh, before I forget, Ensigns Guridy, Affa, and Glazier are making Margaritas from the fresh ice on the deck, and it is quite tasty. Major Cunningham and his band are playing dance music on the port side, so I suggest that you could join in the fun to help calm any frayed nerves. Mr. Iannelli is doing his vaudeville slap stick routine as well, if you need a good laugh. The Ship's Owner ,Mr. Reilley has radioed me and expressed every confidence that all will remain well.

      Gee, I see we might be listing a bit. Sometimes a ship will have to take on a little water to help level it out. Do not panic.  We are not sinking. We are merely taking the necessary precautions to ensure your traveling pleasure.

      You know What? just for the hell of it, lets have a survival drill! I need all elected officials and crew to please report to the lifeboats immediately. Don't worry about those people below decks. We have locked all the gates so they won't be able to come up and start a panic, because they won't believe this is just a drill. But we will throw some life preservers down the stairs, so they can feel involved in the festivities. Ensign Guridy? Could you do me a favor and head down below? I hear you are quite the swimming instructor, and good at holding your breath instead of talking. I think you are just the man to give those folks pointers if we did have a REAL emergency.

    Oh by the way, I have approved the construction of another handball court on the fore deck. They might even have it done and open before we reach port.

    One More thing, we will not be sending out any radio messages. We can't risk the FBI, er I mean any pirate vessels hearing us doing our drill. They might see that as an opportunity to rob us.

    Oh, you say the ship is sinking and the bow rising high out of the water? We are still, NOT REALLY SINKING. That's just part of the special effects to simulate a real emergency! Pretty realistic isn't it! just like the water rising up to my feet! Ha ha!

    What is this silly talk of the crew and passengers taking a no confidence vote! I got you halfway across the Ocean, didn't I? It won't mean a thing anyway, you can't force me out, you don't have the authority! Let me finish my job, can't you see I have done nothing wrong? We are not drowning, we are just experiencing a malfunction of equipment during a safety drill! We will be back under way in no time!

      Hey where are you going with that lifeboat! Wait for me! Oh, I think it might be too late. I should have got in the First boat when they offered me the chance. Glub, Glub, Glub.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Faced with a Meaningless No Confidence Vote, Pawlowski lives a Catch 22 and keeps posting on Facebook!

      It looks like the Seven mental midget Dwarfs of Allentown City Council are about to try and evict their delusional Snow White Mayor from their hovel up above Hamilton Street. Its a symbolic gesture with no legal bearing, but they are going to try and save their own public image in the face of the realization of their own unindicted complicity in "La Affair NIZ." Does City Council really expect that people are going to believe no employee in City Hall ever reached out about any unethical activities in the course of the ten full years that Ed has held office?

     Ed just keeps on as if it is all cool! Ed's predicament reminds me of one of my favorite books of all time, "Catch 22" by Joseph Heller. It followed the trials and tribulations in a comical way of Airmen who flew on B 25 bombers over Europe during WWII. In particular, one Captain John Yossarian, who tried to get out of his job claiming he was crazy. Catch 22 entered the American lexicon because of the double bind it describes. According to the novel, people who were crazy were not obliged to fly missions; but anyone who applied to stop flying was showing a rational concern for his safety and, therefore, was sane. Therfore, Yossarian, by claiming he was crazy, was proving he was sane.

       Mayor Ed is in a somewhat similar double blind, Sure he hasn't been indicted yet, so he shouldn't resign, but it seems pretty obvious he eventually will be so he should resign. But he can't. He just can't bring himself to do it.       
       The Mound of Evidence against him may be unsightly and capable of filling both the downtown Arena and Coca Cola Park, but Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski soldiers on in the face of adversity!

       So today on Facebook, in the past eight hours, to keep up the illusion of normalcy, Ed has posted on several topics:

    He was at Dodd Elementary School

    Then he wants you to know tomorrow is Friday!

    and there is a car club show coming to town!

    There's history in South Allentown!

    and Finally, my personal Favorite: Everybody loves our Water Authority!

     So there you have it! Indictments and Plea deals be damned, Everything is still "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows!" in Allentown.

    I am shocked I haven't been unfriended yet. Oh Well!

City Controller Koval appears in Federal Court

   And the Question is: Who exactly are all the OTHERS?

           I took this directly off the release to the press:

          According to the information, between January 7, 2014 and at least December 8, 2015, Koval, in her position as Allentown City Controller, conspired with Public Official #3 and others to knowingly devise a scheme to defraud the City of Allentown and its citizens of the honest services of Public Official #3 and of Koval through bribery and kickbacks. Public Official #3 and Koval requested and received campaign contributions as incentives and rewards for past, continued, and future official actions that Public Official #3, Koval, and others took, attempted to take, agreed to take, and caused, attempted to cause, and agreed to cause the City of Allentown to take.

    We know former Assistant City Solicitor Wiles and former Finance director Strathearn have already been exposed, so what other bodies will be thrown into the path of Pawlowski Corruption Campaign Bus?

       Koval's involvement involves the construction of a new parking garage for the city. Wiles and Strathearn are in the loop for conspiring to rescore the bidding process for the firm hired to do the collection of taxes. Those are two different sins.

        What other juicy malfeasance does the FBI know about? How can any single person sitting on City Council say they had no suspicion of these activities? Former Council person Jeannette Eichenwald asked questions, and became a pariah.

         Former Controller Lou Hershman pointed out irregularities and was denounced as a naysayer who didn't want the city to move forward, and wanted to live in the past.

         With Hindsight being 20/20, I think most informed residents would have preferred some checks and questions on what was going on, instead of watching the City get driven off a cliff.

      Too Late now, the day of reckoning fast approaches.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Pawlowski seeking Advice on Predicament

This just in:

Back Alley sources confirm that Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski may have contacted Kevin Hart and Will Farrell to see if they can prepare him for Federal Prison. He hopes they can help him "Get Hard" before he goes in.

   It was also suggested that to raise money to pay for his legal fees, that Ed may have offered to do a "Get Hard Again" sequel based on his story.

    No word yet if Strathearn, Wiles, and Koval would try and get a group rate, in that case, the movie version would be called "Get Harder - The gangs all here"

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Why won't Attorney General Kathleen Kane just quit?

       My God, this woman must have attended the same seminar on staying in office as Ed Pawlowski. She doesn't deserve to get her Law practicing privileges back, and she does not deserve re-election. I am really hoping John Morganelli finally gets a shot at a job he has long deserved and is extremely qualified for.

Monday, January 11, 2016

State Rep Justin Simmons hypocritically replies to Columnist Bill White

   Our beloved local Lehigh Valley Newspaper media outlet, The Morning Call, graciously allowed State Representative Justin Simmons the opportunity to reply to a scathing column written about him (and almost every other state legislator) by their political columnist, Bill White.

    At almost every point, okay maybe every point, in his rebuttal Justin Simmons misrepresents and twists the facts to suit his own political bent. At one point he actually claims to be a victim of a partisan leaning by Bill White, He actually claims his district needs him, because he leads by example. But he then claims he is running again because WE need to continue OUR work of standing strong for taxpayers. Just who is this WE? The Tea Party right wing that has rebuffed every olive branch offered by the Democratic governor they so much despise?

     Simmons goes on to claim he is running to keep fighting for the priorities of education, economic growth and stability, public pension reform, public safety and MORE.

    EDUCATION? This KID voted in lockstep with former Governor Corbett to slash a Billion dollars from Public Schools. Money that was made up by school districts raising property taxes locally.

     Please tell me how that helped us? I would really like to know, especially as the Democratic Governor has been getting excoriated by his own party for trying to negotiate with the hard line Republicans, of whom Simmons is a proud member. When he states midway thru his essay that he is running to restore Pennsylvanians faith and trust in Government, his Hypocrisy EXPLODES off the page.

      Why should those who would be governed trust someone who promised to limit himself to 3 terms, and then breaks that promise? He made a campaign pledge, and is breaking it, but he justifies it because working in Harrisburg is tougher than he thought it would be. This KID should try getting a non political job in the real world, and see how tough real life can be.

     He writes about how we need change (Sound Familiar?) in the way government does things, yet he refuses to sit down at the bargaining table and negotiate it. He cries about proposed tax increases, but refuses to accept a tax on frackers who are destroying our Commonwealth's natural resources and profiting from it handsomely without regard to Environmental concerns.

     Justin Simmons is exactly what is wrong with ALL our elected officials, Republican or Democrat. They don't see themselves as the problem, but cumulatively, their instinct for self preservation always kicks in.Then they portray themselves in their home districts as valiant warriors flailing hopelessly at Windmills (bureaucracy) in the Capitol, forgetting that they built and do everything they can to protect those same windmills.

     What I learned from Justin Simmons' Op-ed was not that Bill White wrongly picked on him. What I learned is that Bill White was absolutely right, and Simmons verified it in his own words:
     "I admit that I may have been unrealistic in my belief about how quickly we could change Harrisburg to better serve the people. Regardless of my commitment, forcing change on an entrenched bureaucracy and special interests is not an easy task"

      No it isn't Justin, especially when your own campaign is financed by special interests, and you have become a very comfortable cog in your own party's bureaucratic largesse. You went to Harrisburg, and became one of THEM. You just can't admit it to yourself, or your supporters.


Strathearn pleads guilty, Koval to be in Federal Court Thursday, and "Evidence indicates Mayor Pawlowski was heavily Involved....."

      Once again it was a lead story on WFMZ at 4 PM:

      Just how many times are we going to have to hear that refrain? On April 14th former Allentown Finance Director Garrett Strathearn will be sentenced after pleading guilty today in Federal Court to Corruption charges. According to Court documents, Strathearn manipulated the bidding process for the contract to collect delinquent taxes so that the company of a campaign contributor of an elected official running for statewide office got the contract. Strathearn did that at the direction of said elected official. The only Allentown elected official running for statewide office at that time was.....Mayor Ed Pawlowski!

      The news also reported that Mary Ellen Koval, late of the City Controller's office, is expected to be in Federal Court on Thursday. Back Alley Sources believe that she has made a deal and turned Federal evidence, She as not been charged, but FBI sources have told the media that they have recorded hours of her conversations with Mayor while in office.

      Over the weekend I had information that another shoe was going to drop. I don't know if this is it, I am thinking that Koval will plead and give an allocution that will finally implicate the Mayor by name for nefarious acts while in office.

      It continues to amaze me that while this nightmare goes on for the inhabitants of Allentown, Pawlowski keeps posting away about how wonderful everything is in the Neighborhood Improvement Zone!

     It is all Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows in Allentown! Today he posted a link to a Fortune magazine article about Allentown's remaking into an metropolitan Valhalla! Read the Fluff piece here.  There is no mention about Shula's closing, or the ongoing FBI investigation into the activities of the Allentown Municipal government. Just Happy Thoughts and Cheerleading! No reality!

     Just the way the Mayor and his sycophants like it!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Replace Shula's with... A WAFFLE HOUSE!

    I read several articles over the weekend that tried to explain what happened and why Shula's closed. The best explanation is that there are not enough people around the Lehigh Valley willing to drive into Allentown and pay $75 for a steak. The true income of area residents is a bit under that threshold. So I suggest a place that Everyone can afford to eat at! Waffle House! Granted, it would compete with and likely kill Billy's Diner, but everyone could afford it, and the service would likely be better.

But if not Waffle House, how about a YOCCO's? I bet they would move their location at 6th and Liberty there for the right rent!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Allentown and Elsewhere: It is always about THE MONEY

       I have always believed that if Government played any role in regulating commerce it was to ensure an even playing field for all participants.  Who said this? Does it matter? I agree with it
      While developer J.B. Reilley and his partners challenge the Lehigh County property tax assessments on their NIZ properties, the owners of PPL plaza are suing the state and local officials responsible for rigging the game, claiming that Reilley's Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) has an unfair market advantage. The local game has been this way for five years now, what set the suit in motion is that NIZ players made a play for Talen Energy, a PPL tenant. Some observers believe that play for Talen was a line portraying a level of greed they should not have crossed.

     That is how the Welfare for the Well Off act of 2009 written by State Senator Pat Browne coincidentally ended up benefitting a select few campaign donors and their interests. As noted in an Atlantic Monthly Article just last year, in 2013 over $48 million in business taxes in the zone were diverted from the Harrisburg coffers to service the debt incurred building all of Reilley's properties.     This allows Reilley to undercut the going space rental rates for business outside the 130 acre zone. Not only that, Reilley enticed the Lehigh Valley Health Network to move it's medical offices downtown from the main site in Salisbury Township. Officially, the doctors, while still practicing medicine at the Cedar Crest site, are counted as at the Arena site because of where their office is. That means SOME of the EIT from their salaries goes to.... Reilley's debt service!

      Mike Molovinsky has pointed this out several times on his blog, and Bernie O'Hare has a great piece on other parts of the shell game this week as well.

    What I find amazingly brazen about this is that Reilley is getting his cake (The NIZ MONEY!) and wants lower property taxes on what he owns (and Eating it too!) I know the legislature amended the law after some protest from suburban municipalities concerning EIT diversion but my understanding is that what happened at LVHN offices in the arena was legitimate

   You know that $48+ million that didn't go to Harrisburg and the state coffers? That came out of your pocket, because that means less money for the state to disburse to School districts statewide. And what do school districts do when they don't get what they need from the state? They raise the property tax rate on the homeowner in the district!

     Doesn't that make you feel better? It is absolutely crazy that in a small but still significant way, Reilley's developments are getting money that could be helping Allentown Schools, as well as all the other 500+ Pennsylvania School districts. And this is going to keep going on for several more years.

     But the big unsung story today is that a public private partnership such as the NIZ, which is benefitting a few well connected players has been, and still is, so blatantly poaching business from outside the NIZ to move into it. It is unfairly crippling other players in the market that can't compete with the advantages granted to Reilley and his partners.

    I have always believed that if Government played any role in regulating commerce it was to ensure an even playing field for all participants.

      In this case government has given an unfair advantage to a select group, a hierarchy that contributed financially to the political campaigns of those who created this law specifically to benefit a chosen few.

    This is also a prime example of the law of unintended consequences. On the surface, encouraging folks to invest in the decaying Allentown Center City is a noble cause, but in practice? we ended up with an unfair playing field that screwed over property owners who stuck it out during decades of decline.
   Along the way, we had a mayor who decided that all the players in the gentrification poker game needed to share a piece of their ante with him. If you wanted to play, you had to pay! In an investigation that now is reported to be more than two years in motion, the FBI has uncovered a great deal of skullduggery by many of the more minor players. Will some of the heavier hitters get exposed? That has yet to be seen. The Anizda board that oversees all this doesn't really have any oversight of its own. The Anizda board is made up mostly by those players at the poker table. Not only is the game rigged, but they are not even playing with their own money. You have to hope that the FBI has a few of them on tape from a meeting or two.

   I wonder if Atlantic Monthly will come back and do a follow up story now that the FBI is involved?


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Allentown Conspiracy theory of the week.

       Did Mayor Pawlowski plan for Koval to go out this way?

     So re-elected City Controller Mary Ellen Koval resigned from office before taking a new swearing in oath. Depending on who you ask, and their interpretation of the City Charter, City Council has to sort through the expected mountain of applications and choose somebody of the same political party to fill the post until the next municipal elections in 2017. Or, sometime before the current mayor goes to trial on whatever charges pop up, if then.

    This week's conspiracy theory is that Koval knew all along after the initial raids that she would have to resign, but held out until after the elections so that Mayor Ed's Council Bobble heads could put in her job whoever he tells them to. Some residents have taken to social media to suggest that because Koval wasn't honest during her campaign about her plans, the office should go to her opponent, Republican Steven Ramos.

     I do not believe that they can legally do that, but it might actually have been a good idea. Putting someone outside the Mayoral Circle of power and who has never ridden on the Campaign of Corruption murder bus would give residents a small sunlit ray of hope that there is at least one official in Allentown who might not be in it for their own benefit. Personally, because I don't think Ramos can be appointed, I would pick Former City Councilman Lou Hershman, if he could change his party affiliation back to Democrat. (But in reality, because he just ran as an R, he can't be appointed either.)

    Lou's a guy who pointed out all the Mayor's shenanigans at every point of the way. Even I at one time disparaged him, and I regret that. Lou was right all along. Lou was also the victim of some pretty nasty campaign smear activity allegedly perpetrated by the gone with the wind Mike Fleck at the behest of the current mayor. If Lou was appointed Controller, that would be some pretty Cool Karma, don't you think?

    But honestly, after the FBI raids on City Hall July second, I don't see the Mayor getting all his Minions together and coming up with a plot like this just to keep the Controller's office under his thumb, because really if these folks had half the brains we give them credit for, they would not have been caught......YET.

     I don't know who the hell they could appoint controller, but I would encourage any and all current Allentown citizens to apply. Have a criminal record? Doesn't matter. Only a High School graduate? That's enough if you worked on the Mayor's campaign. Not a High School graduate? Doesn't matter if you can follow orders from the mayor. Did you live at the Faith mission, and get cash on Election day to knock on doors? You are qualified to be Controller! Though I have to warn you, you might have to get a letter of reference from one of the Mayor's campaign donors. Go stand outside J.B. Reilley's office and ask him for one. Wear the T shirt without holes in it, and maybe he will give you a job. But get there early. The Mayor might be there ahead of you.



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Who will Mayor Pawlowski's Campaign of Corruption Bus run down next?

    The Casualty list of Allentown Mayor "FOR NOW" Pawlowski's Stephen King like murderous Christine style Corruption Campaign bus so far:

Donor/developer Ramzi Haddad  9/10/2015 Read all about it

Former Assistant Allentown City Solicitor David Wiles 11/30/2015 Read about it here

Former Allentown Finance director Garrett Strathearn 12/21/2015  Read about it here

and the latest victim recently reelected City Controller Mary Ellen Koval 01/05/2016 Read here

   That's four heads in the Federal duffel bag so far. How many more until the Mayor parks the Bus in one of the huge metal compactors over off Sumner avenue?? For laughs, I put the four page indictment detailing Ed Pawlowski's activities and demands of Ramzi Haddad in that link for your reading pleasure.

   In the meantime, here are some odds on who the next victims thrown under the bus might be:

  Francis X. "the man" Dougherty:                2 to 1

  City Council Bobble head Cynthia Mota:   3 to 1

  City Council Bobble head Julio Guridy:     5 to 1

  City Council Bobble head Ray O'Connell: 10 to 1

  Campaign donor/developer Abe Atiyeh:     10 to 1

  I don't know if anyone higher than Atiyeh could go down, but there is always hope.

  It was suggested to me by a local wag to name the bus "Emma" after the possibly vengeful ghost of the late former City Councilwoman Emma Tropiano but I'd rather leave it without a name. Though I am sure she would run the current mayor down for his sins if she could.

Addendum: during the 10PM newscast, WFMZ reports that conversations Mary Ellen Koval had with Pawlowski concerning some possibly questionable activities are on tape. They did not say they were on the Fleck provided tapes, so I am wondering if perhaps the FBI had other monitoring going on.


Another Body gets sucked under the Ed Pawlowski Corruption Bus

     Allentown City Controller Mary Koval did not show up for her swearing in last night. That was Because she is turning in her resignation today. The story of her resignation is in the local media and the back alley scuttlebutt is that she has cut a deal and will turn up as a Federal Witness against certain players in the corruption probe.

      Mayor Ed had no comment last night, and according to witnesses was visibly surprised by her absence at the swearing in ceremony. He likely didn't even realize that the remnants of her political life were being spit out of the rear wheels of his corruption bus. So one of his anointed bobbleheads joins the casualty list. I wonder who is next? Any guesses or odds?

  Updated 5 PM: I changed this post to clarify that Koval HAS NOT entered any plea but has resigned effective today, Tuesday January 5th, 2016.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski prolongs the Agony.....because he knows no other way.

        Over New Years weekend, the rumor mill continued to churn concerning Allentown's current mayor and his alleged misuse of his office for personal gain. Back in June, I scoffed when stories started swirling that the FBI was closing in for the kill.
        I had heard such stories many times before, but just before Independence day, the first shoe finally dropped. Then within a couple of months, rumors started swirling again that a campaign donor and developer had cut a deal. Then the Haddad story broke, and it became evident from the sworn testimony that Mr. Haddad gave in his allocution that Public Official #3, aka Mayor Pawlowski?, was deeply involved in activity that was questionable. Since then two members of his staff at City Hall have been exposed as not just culpable, but as accessories, abetting the administration in what appeared as a "Pay to Play" scheme. Each time, right before the Federal investigation shoes dropped, the rumor mill went into high gear, and was proved accurate.

   So here we sit again, and this time the scuttlebutt is that possibly a member of City Council has cut a deal with the Feds. Once again, I wait to see what gets announced publicly. I keep hoping it is all wrong, that it isn't true, but I believe that it all will come out eventually, and it will be something that can't be denied. The question is, will this agony ever end for the people of Allentown?

    It could be over with sooner if Mayor Pawlowski wanted it to be. He could immediately resign, come clean about everything that happened, give a full accounting of his actions, who paid him what, and who he paid to do anything that might be illegal. Sure, there might be collateral damage for an unfortunate batch of possible co-conspirators and a few follow up stories in the local excuse for news media, but like all scandals, it would pass, and quickly fade from memory.

   But the Mayor will not do that. If I have learned anything from observing politicians who feel entitled and think they are above being questioned, it is that their arrogance always far outweighs their common sense. The Mayor doesn't see how much this situation is hurting those he has sworn to govern, all he perceives is that he is being attacked for trying to make the City better. He seems to think that those criticizing him are merely jealous of his ahem, success.
      We can argue for days whether Allentown will be better for everything he put in motion ten or twenty years from now, but that is not the point at this moment. By the Mayor's logic, the ends justifies the means, and if you happen to pocket some extra scratch for yourself in the process, and make some players pay for a favored status, what's the harm in that, especially if they are willing to do it? (I'm looking at you ,Mr. Reilley and your $50k campaign pledge, and you, Mr. Atiyeh, and your land/billboards swap).

        In his mind, HE, Mayor Pawlowski, is the victim, not the people of Allentown. He would have them think they are being misled to believe he has betrayed their trust by those untrustworthy FBI people. And we crazy bloggers have nothing better to do but sit around making stuff up. Just because we might read documents that are public records and look at court filings, that doesn't mean anything we find out is true!
       Sure, it is absolutely possible that the Mayor did nothing wrong, but it is also possible that a flock of flying Pink polka dot Pigs will nest on top of the PPL Center and start dropping poop bombs on patrons to events at the Center.

      Mayor Pawlowski will likely not surrender even if he has to throw every available body under the bus he can to stave off his own day of reckoning. Look at what has happened so far, it has been a slow death, starting with small cuts that are gradually getting bigger. God knows how many city elected and power players he might throw under a LANTA bus to try and save himself. It is good he had all the Bus Stops moved away from the vicinity of City Hall, the farther he has to carry them to toss them under a bus, the more opportunity they have to get away and cut their own deal.

      If you need any further evidence that the Mayor seems delusionally oblivious to what is going on in the real world, he continues to post daily on social media as if everything is all rainbows and sunshine. (We re redesigning Cedar Beach Pool! I just had dinner at Somebody's new restaurant! I just had my haircut at Guido's!) Just check out his Facebook page. (I am likely unfriended by now, I chastised him with an admittedly snarky remark for not thanking outgoing council woman and mayoral critic Jeanette Eichenwald for her service, and his wife didn't take it too well, calling me a jerk.)

    There is a reason political player Mike Fleck and family are stashed somewhere by the FBI for their own protection. Fleck would have been one of the first under the literal bus.  Logic dictates that there is something on those hours of Fleck supplied tapes that scare the hell out of those in the know.
       The Authorities will have to drag the Mayor out of his office if he can't make a deal of his liking to soften his fall. He doesn't get it that it is not all about him, it is about the broken trust that exists because of him. He is taking everybody down with him, including those he was entrusted to govern. Because that is who he is, and that is all he knows.

Updated 11:00 AM

   It looks like City Controller Koval has been sucked under the Pawlowski corruption Bus. It was an elected official under the chopping block, but not a City Council person. YET.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Voter Apathy... a recipe for PA State Reps like Justin Simmons

     Way back in 2010, Justin Simmons, a 23 year old aide to State Senator Bob Mensch decided to challenge the incumbent Karen Beyer in the 131st PA State House district. This so called nice young man preyed on the fears of the basic Republican constituency in his district by portraying Karen as not a real Republican who was too cozy in working with Democrats to make government function. A trait that served Karen Beyer well in the general November elections hurt her in the primary, where Justin Simmons put it forth as exhibit A to the far right leaning conservatives that usually dominated the primary turnout as reason to displace her. As an added caveat, young Mr. Simmons pledged to his political base that he would limit himself to three terms.

    Well, Time is up, Mr. Simmons' third term ends in 2016, and it appears he has had a change of heart. When he was first elected, he lived with his Mom and Dad. Now he is married, and earning $85k a year as a state rep, plus all the bells and whistles of office holder benefits. Granted, he has not enrolled in the State employees pension system as he promised he would not, but if he wins a fourth term, he goes into it automatically. Justin has a nice cushy job for a 29 year old with no real job skill outside of politics, so it is understandable he has decided it might be easier to keep sucking at the Public Teat.

    I kind of get the feeling that he won't protest too much if that happens. This kid, and I call him a kid, because he is half my age, has never had to worry about paying the bills. I don't begrudge him a life that fortunate, but I question how he can relate to those of us who struggle through day to day expenses when he hasn't had to worry about how to pay his bills. And now he has announced that he WILL seek a fourth term.

      SO I am going to ask a question here. Do you think any one of the current members of the Statehouse delegation, Republican or Democrat, deserves to be reelected? Pennsylvania still does not really have a budget. We are functioning under this mess that the Governor has line item vetoed, so the basic services like the schools can function. I will point out that Mr. Simmons is part of the far right Republican group that refuses to bend on just about any issue, even as all other groups have tried to negotiate.

      If anybody deserved to get kicked out of office, it is an officeholder such as Simmons. But it probably won't happen. One big problem is that the INS, D and R alike, have practiced redistricting to protect their own jobs. So he has a district that leans R bigtime. Then there is the longstanding idea in voters heads that their Rep is not the problem, it is always all those "Other" people in other districts. Example A of this is local rep in district 183 Julie Harhart, who is only leaving after 22 years to retire. She stayed there because she's a nice old lady who was friendly to people when they visited her office. She stayed in office because people couldn't see past the fact she did nothing while holding it, so they had nothing to hold against her.

    Political hacks who follow a strict party line as Justin Simmons does do nothing to help in the governing of Pennsylvania. In fact, if anything, they prevent it.

    And this goes on because of Voter Apathy. So many times voters are faced with a choice in elections between the Devil they know (People like Simmons or insert name of your local rep) or the Devil they don't (Someone whose Simmon's or your reps campaign donors will help him fund a smear campaign on).

      Voters across Pennsylvania, and in many parts of our Country, have become accustomed to this electoral dynamic, and this is why turnout per registered or eligible voters keeps sliding downward. People are turned off, and this plays into the hands of the elected, allowing them to keep their cushy overpaying jobs and walk around Harrisburg pretending as if they have a purpose. In addition, the political parties themselves have a habit of putting up candidates willing to "Go along to get along" that voters see as more of the same old same old, either repeating the same old party line rhetoric, or occasionally coming up with a inane new jingle, chanting a keyword such as "Change".

    It makes me think of a the 1972 Robert Redford Movie, "The Candidate" where he played Senate candidate Bill, "There's a better way" McKay.

    Forty four years ago it was an eye opening look at political maneuverings. Here in 2016, it is a sad commentary on how rote the whole process has become.

   We, the voters, are our own worst enemy. We accept the gruel spit out by the political meat grinder and digest it at our own peril. Yes, my take on our government and our process is fairly cynical, but with everything the fools in office at all levels have been doing over the past few years, I think many folks agree with me.

   Over the next few days I will be adding links to other blogs and news sources.