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.