Sunday, September 10, 2017

Defining "Constituent Services"

     Just when you thought the Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski show could not get any more bizarre, the legal spokesman for the Mayor facing over 50 Federal indictments claims that what the mayor was doing was actually basic constituent services, and part of his job as an elected official.
     You see, When folks wanted to do business with the city, it was his job to help them accomplish whatever end they were seeking. There was nothing wrong with him accepting bribes thousands of dollars in contributions to one of his various campaigns for whatever office he was thinking about running for that week. If it helped a business or Constituent get a Public Contract, or get a zoning board approval, what was wrong with that? Especially if the Mayor's campaign of the week got a few thousand large deposited in the bank account out of it? That is an accepted business practice in most  some places.
      Also, the mayor has put forth as part of his defense that he was troubled to hear that some of his campaign aides might have been making promises to donors that may not have been legal! Who would have though Mike Fleck and the near dozen other folks indicted and taking plea deals would have done something like that?!

    But really, the Mayor would just like everyone possible to believe that his indictment for corruption in office is really only a big misunderstanding of how "Constituent services" is supposed to work.

     The thing is, most reasonable, educated folks get what the mayor doesn't.  The Mayor acted like "constituent Services" are something his Constituent's and others are supposed to do FOR HIM. In Mayor Ed's mind, all potential bribers  donors are SUPPOSED to serve HIS NEEDS, not the other way around. It is all in the definition, and whose definition you ascribe too.

     It is actually very simple,  Ed Pawlowski is nothing more than another self serving, arrogant elected official who used their office for personal gain. He got caught, and now he has to face the consequences of those selfish acts. The mayor was not helping anyone out of the goodness of his heart. The FBI tapes put in evidence with the indictments clearly show he directed his staff on how to get campaign donations, and he directed city employees to award contracts based on who bribed donated to his campaigns.

      That's all there is to it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Decades of progress regressed in less than 8 months


          The summer of 78, I was 17, and my Dad turned 65. and filed for his Social security. We talked about how different America would likely be by the time I turned 65. He was an old Irish guy who had been in the laborers Union since the end of World War II and had worked Construction all those years with men of many races from many places. He had this idea that he passed on to his kids that someday America would not have to worry about race riots and inequality.

         He thought the turmoil of the 1960s would make us stronger and better as a people. As I speed toward 60 now almost 40 years later, I am ashamed that we haven't made any progress, instead, I think we are falling back. All my life I have tried to practice the example he and my Mom lived, one that MLK put forth so eloquently not so long ago, that we would judge one another by our character, and not by the color of our skin.
The promise of a black President of great character elected in 2008 made me think we were so close, yet the election of a bigoted misogynistic narcissus in 2016 tells me we are far away.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

First look at November Allentown Mayor's race

     I know many folks are aghast at the result of the municipal primary Tuesday. Yes, The mayor who has not been charged defeated 6 challengers by winning only 28% of barely 6300 Democrat party votes.
     What a sad state of affairs, that out of 43,000 registered Democrats in Allentown, barely 12% of them voted in 57 precincts. The Edster received just over 1700 votes, which means less than 4% of the eligible voters supported him. Which brings us to his anointed challenger, Democrat turned Republican and Trump wannabe, Nat Hyman, who received 1446 votes of 2222 cast by Republicans, soundly defeating dogged challenger Luiz Garcia's 674 by a more than 2 to one margin. There were over one hundred write ins for other candidates, but it did not matter.

    So the race in November is Pawlowski versus Hyman. Today I write that it looks like a minimum of a 62% to 38% victory for incumbent mayor Pawlowski, with a turnout of 7800 Democrats and 3600 Republicans. That means Dem turnout around 18% and Rep turnout around 35%.  It also looks as if even if he were to be indicted, Ed Pawlowski would still get 55% of the vote.
     There are rumors of a Democrat who did not run in May running as an Independent, and it is my opinion that for every vote taken from Ed Pawlowski, an Independent would take 1.5 from Hyman.
      Hyman is a dead duck candidate, barring an indictment AND a resignation/withdrawal by Pawlowski. Pawlowski will inevitably serve a Fourth terms. Congratulations Allentown Democratic Party Leaders. You get the Dumbass award for 2017 and beyond, and you deserve it. You have enabled the mastermind of more than a decade of criminal activity in elected office to continue his reign of terror. All because you put party before doing what is right. And you point fingers at national Republicans? A pox on both your houses. Neither of you serve the citizenry, you only serve yourselves.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

How Allentown Primary Mayoral races are trending

        Over the last couple of weeks we did some informal polling. I purchased a list of Allentown voters with the following parameter,  that they had to have voted in each municipal primary since 2009. They were two separate lists, one Democratic and one Republican. We compared our lists to the signatures on the petitions that were submitted by all seven Democratic candidates, and the three at the time Republican candidates. Even after Chris Pez was stricken from the ballot, We removed all those who signed candidate petitions that were on the list I received from the pool of available possible poll participants. We also removed all those known as party operatives and office holders, as well as poll workers. I wanted as "clean" a field to survey as I could get. I also threw out anyone I knew personally. This was an extremely time consuming project, and I would like to thank my two helpers Kathy and Jen for their efforts in making calls and getting this done.
      
         Please realize that I made a calculated decision to concentrate the polling on people that were most likely to vote. WE had 16 voters tell us that they were not voting. We did not ask why, but that means 92% (200) of those 216 that did answer our call were extremely likely to continue their pattern of voting in each and every election. These are the SUPER of the SUPER voters.

       There are 57 precincts in Allentown, so it was the intent to call at least 3 voters in each precinct for the Dems, and two in each for the Republicans.  We wanted to get at least 110 Allentown Democrats to answer the poll questions, and 90 Republicans. It took 8 days and  298 phone calls to get what might be considered a decent spread of data. Some people hang up and some don't answer the phone, but after receiving 110 Dem and  90 Rep responses, we tallied up the data.

    (Note: Even Though Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than three to one in Allentown, Republican turnout is usually greater in Lehigh County overall, and with there being a contested County Executive race on the Republican side, I feel Republican turnout in Allentown will be substantial, so I decided to query an almost comparable number of R's in the mayoral race.

        Our query started with telling the voter we were conducting an independent poll on the mayoral election, We first asked if they were going to vote. We made  120 Republican calls, 27 of which got no answer. We had 93 Republicans answer the phone, of which only three said they would probably not vote. We thanked those three for their time and moved on to the next call. Of the 90 who said they would be voting, we asked who they would be voting for.
      
            45 said Nat Hyman, 38 said Luis Garcia, and 7 were undecided.  Percentage wise that works out to a Hyman 50%, Garcia 46, and undecided 4%. I can see why Hyman seems desperate to get Garcia out of the race by any means. as a former Democrat who appears to be opportunistically running as a Republican, he is on some very shaky ground. But if he really has the financial backing of the City's movers and shakers, He will likely pull away over the next 6 weeks and easily defeat Garcia. I do think Garcia has a chance, it all depends on whether he gets the minority community engaged in actually participating. He has made inroads with the standard city Republicans, and although the sleeping potential electoral giant of the Hispanic community has not awakened yet, there is always a first time

        When I tried to look at what precincts gave which candidate the most support, the best I could see was that Nat Hyman had a good response in the old Fairgrounds area of the City where he owns a great deal of property, so he has a great number of signs out .  Garcia had a good cluster in the near West Side, from ninth Street going west. This was a small sampling, but it was only meant to get a general idea of where the candidates stand.

        So what about the Democratic side?

        We started work on this poll immediately after the news reports of the first Mayoral candidates forum, and the day after news broke that the Incumbent Mayor's former right hand man had made a plea deal in the Pay to Play scandal. we made 178 calls, of which we had 123 answer the phone. We had 13 Dems tell us that they were likely not voting in May.

    I will just cut to the chase: Out of 110 responses, Ray O'Connell got the most with 20. Ed Pawlowski had 17, Charlie Thiel 16, Sam Bennett, David Jones, and Josh Siegel each had 13, While Woodring had 2. There were 17 undecided voters.

       At first glance, it looks as if the Democratic primary for Mayor is still anybody's to win, except for Woodring. But I think it is important to note that Ray O'Connell appears to have cracked Pawlowski's stone cold solid wall of supporters, and his willingness to confront the mayor face to face in a public forum scored him some points. Pawlowski's "What Clouds?" response to those pointing out the obvious uneasiness hanging over Allentown's business climate as a result of the Federal Investigation depicted him as both arrogant and delusional.

         This research is not the most scientific, and we did not have the greatest of resources to carry it out, but we tried to be fair and as broad based in the query as possible. This method has its strengths, but also its faults, so take it with a grain of salt. Also note we stopped making calls when we got the targeted number of responses.

        So after looking at the answers, I think that Pawlowski is going to start fading on the Democratic side, with O'Connell and Thiel the top two and Sam Bennett right behind, after that it is a pick'em for what order they come in. Yes, Pawlowski may do no better than fourth when all is said and done, especially if an indictment comes down before the Primary. He still might win, if his base stays loyal enough and the turnout low enough, but that likelihood seems to be slipping away.

        That means that come November, it will likely be either O'Connell or Thiel destroying Hyman in a landslide. That is where it appears to stand as of now.

     

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Ides of March in Allentown/Lehigh County Politics

  I understand why ballot challenges take place. Politics is a blood sport in Pennsylvania, with no holds barred. I get it, if you can run for office without an opponent, it makes your life easier. But should you? First case in point, Allentown Council Candidate Courtney Robinson (No relation to Courtney Love) has challenged the petitions of candidate John Rosario. Both are vying to finish out the two years left on the term of Jeff Glazier, who got himself appointed City Controller after Mary Ellen Koval was indicted and took a plea deal.
       Rosario filed petitions for both the 2 year, and for a four year term. I don't know the specifics yet of the challenge, but I have to wonder, why? If you want to hold elected office, go out there and convince people to Vote FOR YOU. Don't surreptitiously use legal shenanigans to rig the game in your favor. Just because it is legal, doesn't make it right.

        One other point  (Coo Coo Kachoo) Mr. Robinson, did you think this thru? Because John Rosario is very active in the Hispanic Community, which makes up more than 50% of the Allentown Population now. Granted, their community hasn't exactly exercised their power at the Ballot box, but has it ever occurred to you that you might be waking up a sleeping Giant? You would still have to face Lou Hershman in November, perhaps losing to him would be the ultimate and deserved slap down.

        Second Case in point: selective enforcement of City code. When Daryl Hendricks ran for City Council for the first time, he was still an active member of the Allentown Police Department. He did not retire until AFTER he was elected. Luis Garcia is presently an active member of the Allentown Police Department, yet he is being given an ultimatum to either quit his job or drop out of the race.  
        Uh, isn't that sort of a double standard? I can't help but wonder if it is motivated by other forces with ulterior motives, which I will get to after I discuss the next case in Point:

        Republican Christopher Pez submitted only 114 of the 100 needed signatures to get on the ballot. I said in an earlier post I was troubled by his petitions, now I will say exactly why. Pez submitted ten pages of signatures. On page 7 of ten there are 12 sigs, and on page 9 of ten, 10 sigs, that all share the same inadvertent error. The signor put their zip code in place of the date, and then the date was added beside that, outside the lines. That is 22 sigs of 114 that can be questioned on legal technicality.

         Now all is not lost here. I have seen a few challenges here locally, and I believe that judges have been inclined to side whenever possible with keeping candidates on the ballot. Only when they see a clear piece of evidence that a petitioner was willingly trying to subvert the Democratic process do they act. Back in 2006 a certain State rep near Erie had her staff fill out petitions and turn them in. She got tossed and was dealt some harsh justice, but that was the extreme.
        Mr. Pez expressed to me via email that he went about collecting his own sigs because he wanted to meet and talk to voters. What can be more Democratic than that? So I will wait to see how this shakes out in court.

          So who benefits if both Garcia and Pez end up off the ballot? You would think Democrat turned Republican Landlord Developer Nat Hyman would have an easy path to the Nomination, and could concentrate on whoever he might face in November. That would likely be true, but........

          You would be WRONG.

          This being the Ides of March, the day Caesar was betrayed, is so appropriate, because the candidate who would benefit the most is........ Brad Osborne, current County Commissioner and now County Executive candidate.

            You see, If there is no contested Mayor's Race in Allentown, plus only one City Council Candidate, R's in Allentown won't be as interested in voting. Republican Glenn Eckhart is a blue Collar kind of guy who appeals to the hard working Allentown inner City Voter, unlike Brad (I'm not really related to OZZY) Osborne.

            No real races for R's in Allentown translates into a plus for the Commissioner who has never bitten the head off a live bat (as far as I know.) It does sound a bit Machiavellian, but it makes a great deal of sense. Glenn Eckhart has run two successful County Controller campaigns and has name recognition across all of Lehigh County. He will do well with the regular working folks. Osborne, on the other hand, is a champion of the South Whitehall McMansion land, and while he has the money to spread his message, he isn't all that well liked. He's been wishy washy on just about every issue of import in the County, and always seems to see which way the wind is blowing before casting a vote. The inability of the Commissioners to move forward with a purpose concerning the County Nursing Homes is an immediate case in point.
     So it is in Brad's best interests to try and knock a peg or two out from under Glenn's base support.

       Okay, one last thought: I am absolutely stunned that as of yet, no one challenged the candidacy of Allentown Mayoral hopeful of Nathan Woodring, that was a no brainer, his petitions were absolutely vulnerable. I can't print the names, but I found two signers who do not live at the address they listed and also were not on the voter rolls. But it is too late now, and not my call to make. Lets see how they roll now.

Updated 5:30 AM  The local newspaper reports that Pez's petitions are being challenged on the basis that 40 of the sigs are from people who are not registered Republicans. If that is the case, Pez is likely dead in the water, and that is unfortunate.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Why can't local government help citizens. instead of F#CK them?


   Two doors down from me there is a 90+year old women. During the week a Mini Lanta Bus comes, backs up her driveway, and takes her over to a facility across from Lehigh Valley Hospital.
    Today, Several of my neighbors and I took the time to clear her driveway after the heavy snow.

     Despite her daughter asking the Township to please not plow their driveway in, they did it anyway, putting a four foot wide and several feet high ice wall at the end of it. How do they expect a 60+ year old woman to clear that for her 90 year old mother?

     The Township says it can't be helped, but I think they are just being A$$HOLES. Any Comments?

Monday, March 13, 2017

I believe there will be Petition Challenges in Allentown

  First things first, I do not live in Allentown and have no horse in any of these races

     Now  I wish it were not so. but after viewing the petitions for every candidate for Mayor and City Council in Allentown, I have some observations. First, The Candidates for Mayor. There is one Glaring problem for one candidate in particular, Nathan Woodring. You need 100 valid signatures to be on the ballot as a candidate. Nathan Woodring turned in exactly 100 signatures.  That is all. That is a recipe for disaster. While I was at Lehigh County Voter Registration on Monday a person came in asking for information on how to challenge a candidate's petition's. I asked the person who they were challenging, and they admitted it was Woodring's. Voter registration turned them away, sending them to the proper place and procedures for petition challenges. You only need to find one signature with an issue to get tossed with that kind of margin. After looking at Woodring's sigs, I think they will find at least one.

        Now, just for the heck of it, I looked at the petitions filed by the Republican candidates. I was deeply troubled to see that Chris Pez only filed 113 signatures. Luis Garcia filed almost 200, and Democrat turned Republican Nat Hyman filed several hundred. I quit counting after page 15. Pez has left himself exposed to a challenge if Hyman or Garcia were to decide it worthwhile to knock him off the ballot.   
        I doubt if Garcia would do it, I see him as a guy who wants to take on all challenges. Hyman, though,as a former Democrat who some believe may have been recruited to be a Republican surrogate for interests of businessmen who are uncomfortable backing the current Democratic incumbent, would see knocking Pez off the ballot as a plus for his long term campaign.

    The thing to remember here on the Democratic side is that the more candidates there are, the more split the vote, the better chance Pawlowski has. On the Republican side, as a Democrat turned Republican, Hyman needs as little competition as possible. The West End R's will never vote for a Hispanic or black, ask Tony Phillips how that worked out in 2009.

   That is why I believe Pawlowski IS NOT behind any challenges. I have people telling me what they think, and I have my own personal experience today, but I do not know who is behind it, and guesses can be wrong.

     It would also not surprise me if Mayoral candidate Joshua Siegel is challenged, and while I believe his signatures are good, I believe it would be a tactic specifically designed to drain his campaign finances. It could also backfire, encouraging people to fund his campaign in the face of blatant unfairness by those entrenched as political players.

     Okay, now moving on to the candidates for City Council. I looked at every single petition. It says a lot that Julio Guridy is using many of the former Fleck organization employees to help his campaign. Cynthia Mota? there is nothing about her petitions that on face value that you would immediately challenge, but I have to wonder if she actually circulated each of her petitions. If I was going to challenge, I would ask why she is listed as the circulator on the back on several different petitions on the same dates. in neighborhoods in three different parts of the city. She has several hundred signatures and would survive any challenges, but I am curious why she is listed as almost the sole circulator. Maybe she really did cover all that ground in a very short period of time, so I have to give her benefit of the doubt.

    I like Eugene McDuffie. His heart is in the right place, he believes the next generation of Allentown deserves a chance, but he only turned in 130 + signatures. I looked at them, and they look good, but again, I can see one of the unscrupulous INS taking a shot to knock him out and make him spend what little campaign funds he has.. It is what insecure people do.
 
     I also believe that Allentown Tenant Association President Ken Heffentreger might get challenged. While he turned in more than enough signatures, those with deeper pocketbooks could force him into court and defending his petitions, and drain his meager campaign funds. This is what they do. I don't like it, but it is how they roll.  We will find out first thing Wednesday morning who gets bitch slapped, and who does not.


Update 3 PM:  I mistakenly said that West end R's would never vote for a Hispanic or black. That is too big a blanket of a statement. What I should have written, and am writing now, is that I don't believe that the West end R's will be completely supportive of a minority candidate (from either party), and that is backed up by past election turnout and results. I regret casting such a wide blanket over one particular voting block.





Monday, March 6, 2017

The 2017 Allentown REPUBLICAN MAYORAL Primary and why it matters

  There are thirteen thousand five hundred and ninety two (13,592) registered REPUBLICAN voters in Allentown. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, compared to the forty five thousand seven hundred and fifty three (45,753) registered Democrats also in Allentown.

      But what we have coming up here on May 16th is a primary. A primary that so far has seven announced Democrat candidates and three Republicans. Today it is time to look at the Republican numbers. When I look at the turnout numbers for the 57 Allentown precincts since 2001, there is one very clear pattern, and that pattern is that despite being outnumbered by approximately 3.5 to 1, The registered Republicans do participate in the process. I believe that it is mostly because they (and their county party leaders) realize their importance in helping elect Republican candidates countywide.
 
      You would think that because Republican candidates theoretically don't have a chance in Allentown, that Republican voters might be as complacent as well as apathetic as the Democrats in Allentown, but they are not. While Democratic Turnout in Municipal primaries has struggled to break 10% in most districts, Republican turnout has in many precincts surpassed 25% and in one case, 30%.

      (We will touch on the General election in a future post, where R's out perform D's in Lehigh County in municipal elections by at least 27% to 18%, and the 20+% of Independents that participate go for R candidates by an 85% to 15% margin)

        So this year we have what I see as a perfect storm that could very well elect the first Republican Mayor in Allentown since 1997.  This storm is reliant on incumbent Ed Pawlowski winning a plurality over the six other candidates and becoming the Democratic nominee. For Republicans, this will be a Christmas gift of unfathomable proportions. This will turn off many of the few Democrats that do turn out in Allentown on Municipal election years, and help the Republicans maintain their majority at County Government levels. It will also, in my opinion, very likely give Allentown a Republican mayor, and possibly a Republican City Council member or two.

    If you don't believe it possible, I will point out to you that Republican Congressman Charlie Dent won Lehigh County by over 17,000 votes, despite the Democrats having a registration edge of over 35,000 voters. Ninety percent of that supposed edge (32,000) exists in Allentown. So you put a damaged incumbent who is under Federal Investigation as the Democratic nominee, and have him face a young energetic and charismatic Republican, and you have got yourself a horse race.

      Which brings me to handicapping the three Republican candidates. First in was Democrat turned Republican Nat Hyman, a property developer in Allentown Center City who, for the most part, is on the outside of the NIZ looking in. The last time R's ran a converted D against the current mayor that did not end well at all. Second in was Christopher Pez, an area native, and an Allentown Central Catholic grad who likely appeals to the local R's for being a guy who ran his own company and knows what small business owners have to endure on a daily basis.  Third, is Allentown Police Officer Luiz Garcia. Garcia is well spoken and articulates his platform and passion for the City very well. All things being equal, when I use my formula to score the three candidates, I think the Republican Primary has a turnout in Allentown of 22 to 25% of the registered R's. Which means 3200 to 3500 votes will be cast.

      My vote breakdown, based using census figures on median income,  past voter activity and preferences, plus a couple of other variables I came up with over the past decade, breaks it down this way:
             Pez              1440 to 1536 (45%)
             Garcia         1120 to 1216 (35%)
             Hyman          640 to 700   (20%)


            I believe this race is truly a toss up between Garcia and Pez. And to be honest, I feel there is a bias against Hispanics in the Republican base. Trump didn't win without their votes, but I also believe that it can be overcome. It will be tough for Garcia, but I think it possible.

            I also think that either Pez or Garcia could defeat Pawlowski. Hyman has no shot on that regard, because he played ball with the mayor many times, and Whoever the Dem nominee is, even if not Pawlowski, would toss it in his face regularly.

            I ran this data with the variable that Pawlowski does not get indicted BEFORE the Primary day. If that happens, Pawlowski's safety gap of votes would shrink to a point where he likely would still get 15% of the Dem vote, but give one of his challengers a chance to get by him.

      We have a long way to go, more than two months are left. The ride is going to be fun!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

So prospective candidate, you want voters to listen to you?

  The first thing a candidate should do is try listening to the voters first. A group of canvassers set out not to change anyone's minds, but to find out what was on them. In engaging the voters, they learned that voters like it when people listen to what they have to say, giving their voice an outlet. Click on the included link and take a read.

Monday, February 20, 2017

If Allentown Mayoral Primary was today,.....

   Ed Pawlowski would win the nomination. You read that correctly. As things stand right now, the Mayor who has not yet been indicted would win nomination for a fourth term. The latest results from my own personal algorithm with 7 candidates comes out like this: (In approximate numbers)

     Pawloski  1250

     Thiel         1075

     O'Connell   950

      Bennett      725

      Jones          650

      Siegel         650

    . Basrawi      450

      Woodring   250

        
     This is based on voter turnout of approximately 6000 registered Democrats. Once the money starts getting spent, there could be some drastic moves in the rankings, but if only 6000 of the 45000 registered Democrats in Allentown come out on May 16th, This could be what you get.There are approximately 120,000 people in Allentown, do you really want your mayor chosen by barely one percent? If 6000 of 45000 are all that vote in the Dem primary, that is less than 5 % of the overall population.  The top contending would be mayors are already sniping and wounding one another with amazing ferocity, if their social media presences are any indication.

    Now over on the Republican side, it is Property developer Nat Hyman against Independently wealthy self employed Christopher Pez. This just keeps getting crazier. I think Pez should have people at each precinct passing out PEZ dispensers on primary day. I have to think about this and look at something that hasn't been relevant for decades, Republican turnout in Allentown. Oh Well!

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Allentown Mayoral Electoral Equation as of today

          As of Monday, January 23, there are six announced Democratic candidates for the Mayor of Allentown. There is also one Democrat turned Republican now in the race.

           With so many candidates, the number of votes needed to secure the nomination is not that easy to discern, but I have given it a shot.

            First, let us take a look at Mayoral primary turnout since 2005. In 2005, there were three Democrats on the Ballot. There were 6670 ballots cast in the Democratic primary. Ed Pawlowski won the nomination with just 2692 votes (40.4%). Sam Bennett came in second, garnishing 2154 votes (32.6%). Louie Belletieri came in a very competitive third with 1824 votes (26.9%).
       At that time there were about 41,500 registered Democrats in Allentown, which means barely 16% of the eligible voters participated in choosing the mayoral nominee. When you really look at it, the mayor was chosen by less than 7% of the Eligible Democratic voters,  2692 of approx. 41,500.

             In 2009, Pawlowski was challenged by Dick Nepon, who was easily defeated 3571 (86%) to 577 (14%). There were only 4048 votes cast that year in the Democratic Primary. In 2009, there were just over 42,000 registered Dems, so less than 10% of the Dems made the decision that Pawlowski get another term.

             Moving on to 2013, Ed Pawlowski was unopposed, and turnout dropped even lower, as he received 2583 votes. No one was on the republican ballot, and his campaign ran a mailer asking Republicans to write him in, He needed 100 to do that, and he received 139 write in votes. So Ed was in fact, the candidate of both Republican and Democratic parties. He was challenged by former Councilman Mike Donovan as an Independent in the November general election, in which he eked out a surprisingly small victory of 5845 to 3602 votes over an underfunded opponent. Imagine that, winning a third term with less than 8 % of the overall registered voters in Allentown voting.

            Which brings me to my projection for the 2017 mayoral primary turnout. It can be argued that when voters don't think they can make a difference, they  will be indifferent. And with Ed Pawlowski having no true challenger in the primaries since his first run in 2005, It is no surprise that the number of participating voters in local municipal elections has kept sloping downwards since 2005. It didn't help that his lack of challengers enabled him to keep a slate of bobbleheaded followers on City Council during that time.
   
            But 2017 is going to be different, I believe the number of voters is going to rise after more than a decade of gradually dropping. Having six candidates on the Democratic side really opens up the choices for prospective voters. I will start with the longestshots and work my way up from there.
       Five of the six candidates have run for office or been elected before. Only newcomer and recent Seton Hall graduate Joshua Siegel is a political virgin who will have to build a voter base from scratch. Nathan Woodring once served on Wilson Borough in Northampton County, and despite getting a few dozen write in votes in recent municipal elections over the last decade. will also be fighting a battle to make a name for himself. I would put Siegel ahead of Woodring at this point, as he brings fresh young energy to the race and it would not surprise me closer to election day if the top contenders attempt to take some of his ideas as their own.

       Next comes District three County Commissioner David Jones. Four years ago he had a tough challenge to keep his Commissioner seat, I believe his intentions are good and that he would be a capable Mayor due to his experience at the County Level. I just don't believe he can garner the City wide support outside district three to win the nomination. Next comes Sam Bennett. While she has never been elected to office, She has worked tirelessly locally and nationwide to further the opportunities of woman in elected office. She is separate from the stain of Pawlowski, but also has the connections to raise the money needed to get her message across.  Does she have baggage? Yes, but it is nowhere near as heavy as that of our next contestant, Incumbent Mayor FED ED Pawlowski

       How does one facing an impending indictment find the gall to announce a re-election campaign for an improbable fourth term? In all of the Mayor's previous campaign announcements over the last decade, (and there were many, for many different offices) he was always surrounded by his family and dozens, if not hundreds of supporters in a public place. This time he did it on facebook, all by himself. It was a litany of accomplishments in Center City, ignoring the fact that all he really did was make a millionaire named J.B. Reilley into a Billionaire. It is telling to me that he is standing as a man apart from the rest of the field. I don't believe he is going to have the money to bankroll the campaign needed to drive off challengers like he did the last two times out. But I won't count him out, and at the end, you will read why.

     So now we come to the two candidates with the best shot at unseating the Mayor, Allentown School Board member Charlie Thiel, and City Council President Ray O'Connell. O'Connell has seized the high ground as a foil to Pawlowski, and he helped negotiate a truce in the budget battle. O'Connell will have support from the public sector Unions which is critical to being a viable candidate. Charlie Thiel has the backing and resources of behind the scennes mover and shaker Jennifer Mann. Mann made a name for herself in the State legislature and has a hide that is tough as nails. She doesn't take a lot of crap from anybody and she plays to win. She will get Thiel the resources he needs to compete. That's why I put him at the top with O'Connell, because both have the stones and backing to go toe to toe with the mayor.

   I honestly think it is a four person race, with Bennett, Pawlowski, Thiel, and O'Connell the best players, but having one of the others crack that top four or burst through is entirely possible.

     So in a six person contest for one seat, how many votes will the winner need?

     I project that Turnout by Democrats in Allentown will likely be between 13 and 15%, or approximately 5200 to 5600 voters.  Remember, only 6670 turned out in the last real contested primary in 2005, and Allentown's Demographic has shifted sharply in the last decade, There are more rental units than ever, and renters are the least likely of all voters. Throw in growing voter dissatisfaction with government at all levels, and I kind of think I might be shooting too high, but I think I am about right. I would like to say that having so many candidates will bring many new voters out in May 2017, but I don't see it.

    To win a six person dogfight like I expect this to be, The winner will need 1450+ votes. That is approximately 28% of projected turnout. I expect the top four to all break 18%, and get close to 1000 votes. Remember, you don't need a majority, just a plurality. That is how the current Mayor won with 40% in 2005.

    The last item is this: Ed Pawlowski has an extremely loyal, if not all that large base. He is already playing the victim card in the local communities portraying himself as a victim of media distortion and vindictive government officials. Kind of reminds me of a guy who just won a national election.

     Anyway, I predict that Ed Pawlowski gets at least 1150 votes. He could win this thing, even if he gets indicted before election day. I don't have faith in Allentown voters, because they have a history of being complacent sheep. If Washington D.C could elect Marion Barry Mayor again after he was caught on tape smoking crack, I have no doubt that phone tapes of Ed Pawlowski soliciting contributions won't mean a damn thing.

Coming up Next Time: What does Nat Hyman do for this race?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Do you Think President Elect Trump will start a War?

      I have been asked that question a few times recently by friends who I believe are genuinely concerned for their safety.

      When I ask them exactly what kind of war they think is going to take place, I have heard just as many people say Civil War as well as World War, and in two cases, some say both.

       To this I say, WOW!

   When did we become so pessimistic about our future? I remember the doomsayers when Ronald Reagan was elected President (I was a 19 year old Republican at the time) and I joined the Army back then. I didn't think Ronald Reagan wanted War, I think he wanted to prevent it, and lets face it, he did.

     But Reagan served in the military during World War II. Donald Trump, on the other hand, avoided serving in Vietnam at all costs.  I have doubts that Mr. Trump understands the gravity of what he could end up provoking on the World stage. Whether I agree with him or not is not relevant.

    What I would like to read are your thoughts and worries on what is going on. Please share, and be anonymous if you must. Well thought out lines of reasoning our welcome.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Allentown/Lehigh Valley Media rationalizes another failure

  Once again it is headline News when one of the few retail stores in Center City Allentown decides to shutter. This time, the local media has produced market experts explaining how this is merely a healthy process as retailers experiment to see what will work down there.

   When you ask for an expert opinion, usually you are going to get the opinion that the opinion giver wants to sell you, or the one you want to hear, and 99.9999% of the time they are the same thing. It is rare anymore that you get the opinion you need to hear, but that is another post for another day.

   Here in Allentown, those who are separating the taxpayers from their money for their own personal enrichment are making sure that those same taxpayers are buried under a barrage of happy forecasts, while simultaneously passing out as many pairs of rose colored glasses that they can get their hands on.

     I have written it before, and I write it here again. I watched this game take place 30 years ago in Columbus Ohio. The City Leaders razed several downtown blocks and built their 90+ store City Center Mall. For about ten years it did okay, But when the tax subsidy game came to an end, it died a slow horrible death, and at the end it was demolished and now is a great big park.

       One of the Columbus City Center Shopping Mecca's biggest problems was that it was surrounded by neighborhoods where the lowest income residents in the County lived. They tried building several high end luxury apartments, because of the close vicinity to the State Capitol and offices, but they could never reach decent occupancy levels. 

    The Point is, that more than 75% (I'm being generous here, it was likely closer to 90%) of the folks who lived near the City Center Complex could not afford to shop there. In fact, one of the big problems the mall had was neighborhood kids, some belonging to gangs, some not, would enter the mall in packs and cause problems. We haven't seen that in Allentown yet, and maybe we won't, but still, the ingredients are here, such as high unemployment among minority youth in the inner city.

       Does what you just read above look familiar, like maybe something you see taking place right now in your own community?

      If you look around America, you will see this experiment has failed in cities in damn near every state. Do an Internet search sometime of failed Revitalization projects, and you will see what I mean. Just about every noted News magazine has done stories on this at one time or another, Yet despite all the evidence to the contrary, Politicians sell this tax con game to new communities again and again. Communities are persuaded to mortgage their futures on the dream of a revenue bonanza that never materializes. Then ten, twenty years down the line the Bills come due, and there is no way to come close to paying them.

       It is an often repeated axiom that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. Rebuilding Allentown Center City created a great deal of construction based jobs. It was a great short term boon. But what long term career focused jobs did it create? Do you know anyone who wants to raise a family while waiting tables for 25 years at Chickie and Pete's? How much money do the folks directing traffic at PP&L events per hour? Is that their second or even third job?

      The sad thing is, those people who work the lowest paying jobs are some of the hardest working citizens in the community, and to me, it is something of an insult that those whose tax money helps subsidize the millionaire developers can not, for the most part, afford to eat or shop regularly in the very establishments that they work for. It is Ironic that this small, much ignored piece of reality is one of the biggest reasons these dreams go POOF!

     That is exactly what is happening here in Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, right now.

     I admit I don't have an alternative idea to help Allentown grow, I wish I did, but I can't pretend that I don't see our local leaders taking the same road others did before them, and I won't nod in agreement when they say it will be different.

    It is like they are playing poker, and because they are playing with Taxpayer money, they feel free to keep betting that eventually, they will get a winning hand, despite losing over and over again.

   It is a sad cycle that will be repeated again in the next generation, that is one thing I am confident about. Maybe the voters in 2017 will say something about it. We can only hope.