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.