Mar 19, 2018
Back in the day before the FBI raid on Allentown City Hall, those interested in corruption in Allentown were pretty much limited to myself and O'Hare. Missing in action was the Morning Call. Although they would occasionally use this blog as an unattributed source, they avoided my most controversial exposés. Among them was my revelations about the Neuweiler Brewery.
Although the FBI and Justice Department decided to prosecute Pawlowski and Company on nine deals, I suspect that the menu actually had many more choices. Among them may have been the current Neuweiler Brewery deal. When Ruckus Brewing was introduced as an applicant for the Neuweiler Brewery, I wrote about it here, way back in 2013. My research revealed that Ruckus had no experience at the time in either actual beer brewing or real estate. What they did have was a business consultant very connected to the administration in Allentown, Mike Fleck.
Although Pawlowski and Fleck were indicted and convicted, the Allentown Commercial Industrial Development Authority proceeded with handing over the brewery to Ruckus. Ruckus received numerous deadline extensions on their application, and represented the brewery as a done deal to raise cash. All these irregularities were previously reported on this blog, and ignored by the local press. They are currently permitted to rent out space as is in a building in which the previous owner was arrested and jailed for not correcting code violations.
When shenanigans occur in Allentown, this blog is often the first source to chronicle the questionable activity.
For the full story on the Neuweiler Brewery, please follow the links provided below.
Post on Neuweiler Brewery from May 29, 2008
Post on Neuweiler Brewery July 11, 2012
Sequel to July 11, Post (July 16, 2012)
Post on Neuweiler Brewery May 2, 2013
Post on Neuweiler Brewery Jan. 31, 2013
The Neuweiler Brewery, A Pawlowski/Fleck Shenanigan, July 8, 2015
Morning Call Catches Up To Molovinsky On Neuweiler Sept. 30, 2015
Mar 16, 2018
There are at least a couple of facebook groups devoted to Allentown politics. It is on these groups where one finds opinions about Allentown from those who care most about local politics, besides just at election time. Over and over I keep seeing people post that Allentown needs a clean broom sweeping. Although I wouldn't argue with that notion longterm, they must remember that city council is picking the next mayor.
Some people are even suggesting that the chosen candidate should ask all the department heads to tender their resignations, and that each person in each position should go through an reevaluation. In all due respect, let us keep a working city government. There are buildings to inspect. There are streets to repair. There are taxes to collect.
Roger MacLean, the acting mayor, is an experienced administrator. I expect that whoever gets appointed as interim mayor will also have experience. There are many competent people working at city hall.
The opinion by acting solicitor Dan McCarthy that O'Connell and MacLean are ineligible to be appointed interim mayor on April 6 seems to be gaining steam, especially with council retaining McCatrhy at least through that date. Ironically, Candida Affa has been calling for a new face that isn't tainted for the top spot. Nobody is more tainted than her, having been Pawlowski's last diehard supporter. She is throwing the last hand grenade in Pawlowski's behalf.
It is my hope that council and the city avoid a purge mentality, and we can benefit from their existing institutional knowledge.
1962 postcard of Allentown City Hall
Mar 15, 2018
In addition to Charlie Thiel submitting his application to city council for interim mayor, he has taken to publicize his bid on social media. Although council has sought applications, the $64 thousand dollar question is whether O'Connell and MacLean are eligible themselves under the charter? While it is common knowledge that O'Connell wants the appointment, the next question centers on MacLean; Does he want to remain mayor beyond the current 30 days? If so, but he and O'Connell are advised that they are ineligible, only then does Charlie's application become viable. Assuming we reach that point, the vote lies with 7 people, not the public, which Thiel is now reaching out to.
On the subject of the upcoming appointed interim mayor, I was victimized by a fabrication the other day from Bernie O'Hare in his post promoting Ray O'Connell, and I chose to refrain from setting the record straight. My reply will have to wait until which time the new mayor is appointed. Unlike pompous O'Hare, I have no desires or delusions about being a junior kingmaker.
Among other members of the public who have expressed an interest in the mayor vacancy are Nat Hyman and supposedly Sam Bennett. Council will start public deliberations on March 26.
Mar 14, 2018
Sometimes a blogpost has an afterlife, and yesterday's post on the Fabolous concert seems to fit that bill. Feedback on facebook was extensive, and Fabulous himself used his page to explain his short appearance. Seems as if he was restricted to about a 20 minute show, in order to prevent the venue from charging the promoter a surcharge. He showed grace about his show being shorted, and appreciation for his fans.
My post yesterday was criticized for repeating things reported in The Morning Call, which referred to the audience as unruly, both inside and outside the arena. Others found my post racially insensitive, for repeating what they referred to as stereotypes. There was pushback against me using the word riot in my blog title.
Needless to say, I do not determine booking criteria for the PPL Arena. While the Morning Call article might have that effect, this blog does not, despite my illusions of grandeur. However, what does occur to me is that those who defend the crowd behavior as normative are doing this genre of music no favor.
photo of Fabulous performing at PPL Arena
Mar 13, 2018
According to news sources the hip hop rap concert at PPL arena over the weekend was quite a raucous event. Audience members were supposedly climbing over the seats to get pricer seats than they paid for. The headliner was Fabolous. After the event a street brawl erupted outside at 7th and Hamilton, which resulted in eight arrests, after the Allentown Police called for backup from surrounding police departments.
For a city which wants to make that area a dining destination, perhaps such street theater should be avoided?
The Morning Call actually reviewed the concert as if it was a cultural event. That's like reviewing the clothing fashions worn by gang shooters. Anybody who buys and reads newspapers could care less about what the reviewer thought about the performance. The arena is financed with our state taxes, taxes which have to be made up with more taxes. Why would management rent to an outside promoter and allow such a high risk act? Were they kowtowing to political correctness? The paper then ran a subsequent article, outlining five things that went wrong with the show. There was actually a sixth problem, they should have never allowed the show in the first place.
Mar 12, 2018
Living here in Post Pawlowski Allentown, with the drama over, is more relaxing. Although Ed Pawlowski was entitled to the best defense his former campaign fund turned defense fund could afford, there was a little too much Jack McMahon for my taste. McMahon was here previously to defend Pawlowski's police chief's son.
Pawlowski is scheduled to be sentenced in late June. While I certainly agree that he should be on unsecured bail and is no flight risk, he is a home risk. It's a burden to the public to be submitted to his continuing social media presence, where the only remorse expressed is that he cannot continue to lead Allentown forward.
While forced to surrender his fifth floor office at City Hall, Pawlowski continues to hold office on facebook, where both he and his uninformed followers still proclaim that he loves Allentown, and that he revitalized it. They both ignore the facts that the NIZ happen because of others, and that he wanted to ride that confusion out of town, either to Harrisburg or Washington. The only thing that he can hope now to get from those places is a pardon.
Mar 9, 2018
I may know a little more about Ed Pawlowski than others, because in 2005 as an independent, I ran against him as the third person on the ticket. Before working for Afflerbach, Pawlowski worked at the Alliance For Building Communities, which is dedicated to low income housing.
As Pawlowski gave the same speech to every city group during that campaign, he didn't seem terribly insightful to me. His campaign power point presentation, night after night, actually became painful to endure. I also noticed that he injected that little half laugh into his replies, intended to connote sincerity.
After being elected, he practiced cronyism to a level not previously seen in Allentown. Jobs and positions became anything but merit-based at City Hall. During a candidate night at the NAACP, he pointed out into the audience and told certain people that they would be hired if he was elected. Helping him succeed with this pandering was the Morning Call reporter assigned to the election, who never reported on these incidences. Every article was written to make Pawlowski shine.
Although City Council earlier in 2005 had rejected the concept of a managing director in favor of keeping a strong mayor form of government, they allowed Pawlowski to hire his own managing director soon after being elected. This person, like Pawlowski, was not from Allentown. They combined the Park and Recreation Departments, and hired someone with a recreation background from Penn State. The next three park directors all had the identical background.
Pawlowski's resignation speech delivered yesterday afternoon repeated all the misconceptions fostered unto his supporters by both himself and The Morning Call; It is the notion that Allentown is better off now than before he became mayor. Certainly there are new buildings on Hamilton Street. Certainly J.B. Reilly is much better off than before the NIZ, which Pawlowski had nothing do to with, but is Allentown really better off? I think not. In yesterday's speech, Pawlowski mentioned that he rejuvenated the parks. Although he purchased a catalog of plastic playground equipment, the parks are much worse off now. One pool has closed since he became mayor, and another is slated to close. The iconic WPA structures are barely hanging on. Truth be told, the little work done on them is because of my efforts. Besides neglecting our traditional park system, he abused the former small merchants of Hamilton Street. He concentrated all his efforts in center city, ignoring both south and east Allentown. Although he and The Morning Call may like to think that his administration was accomplished, I think that he was one of the worst mayors in Allentown's history.
Students of this blog may realize that although I criticized his park and other policies from the beginning, I never accused him of pay to play. However, after following the trial, there was no doubt that he was guilty as charged. His resignation becomes official at 5:00pm today. Although I don't drink, I'm almost tempted to go to happy hour tonight.
Mar 8, 2018
Over the years this blog and myself have established credibility and expertise on Allentown's traditional park system and the WPA. I must report what I consider to be a major shenanigan by the mayor. $1.3 million dollars was taken to purchase two heavy industrial areas, to supposedly add to the park system. This $million plus dollars was taken from the water/sewage lease, which is being used as the mayor's discretionary fund, instead of the dedicated pension relief, promised at the time. $950,000.00 was used to buy the parcel at Union and Basin Streets, near the city sewage plant. This is one of the oldest industrial areas in the city, and certainly not needed for more park land. Allentown has not been able to maintain the existing park land, or the features within it. The Fountain Park Pool has been abandoned, and the WPA structures are crumbling. The other just purchased parcel is the old fertilizer plant location, along Martin Luther King Dr., west of the crumbling Schreibers Bridge. We have an administration with no memory or knowledge of Allentown's past. Anybody who knew what went on at the fertilizer/rendering plant, would not want their grandchildren playing there. The city's rationale for these purchases is to expand the biking paths and connect the parks. That's the folly, and now the misappropriations. Allentown has supposedly allocated money to engineer the repair of the leaning WPA wall in Lehigh Parkway. I know why the wall leans. Years ago, the stone shoulder between the park entrance and wall was blacktoped. As cars and city trucks drive around the curve, pressure is exerted against the wall. That strip of asphalt needs to be removed, and the stone buffer restored. The problem with the engineering study is that it's the third time it has been appropriated. In the last two budgets money was actually budgeted to repair the wall, now the process begins again. What happen to the previous appropriations? Must molovinsky on allentown now also establish expertise in forensic accounting?
reprinted from June 26, 2014
UPDATE JULY2015. The wall collapsed in Lehigh Parkway, closing the traditional entrance to the park.. Over the past several years I had met with two park directors and the city engineer, to no avail, trying to save the wall. Recently, I have reported a problem to the current park director about the Union Terrace WPA structure, that needs immediate attention. The new parcels, rather than connecting the parks, are connecting the neglect.
UPDATE MARCH 8, 2018: Local news sources are reporting that Mayor Pawlowski is expected to resign today. If this welcome news will have a positive effect on the park system remains to be seen. A potential mayoral contender told me that if he were in charge, I'd be working for the park department, planning WPA renovations. I never asked for a job, nor do I want one. However, when I did ask City Council to appoint me as a volunteer liaison on WPA matters, I was met with silence. A park employee told me that there is significant money in the new budget for WPA repairs. Again, that is nothing new. How it will be appropriated remains to be seen. There is one thing for sure; Whoever the new mayor might be, whatever the park budget might be, my advocacy for the WPA structures will continue.
Mar 7, 2018
With the pending heavy snow today, City Council has postponed tonight's meeting which might have approved Tom Muller as Managing Director. More importantly, Pawlowski's appearance in front of the judge on Friday has also been called off. There was speculation that Pawlowski might have resigned as mayor at that appearance, depending on what demands were imposed by the court.
After speaking to several city employees in the last couple days, I can tell you that these storm related postponements are salt on the city's wounds. Morale has bottomed out and is only going lower. The word paralysis was used. I do not mean to imply that the snow will be not be plowed, or other essential services not performed. Rather, strategic planning is on hold, with no one at the top to give the go ahead.
While Pawlowski may still receive some personal empathy from a few former supporters, everybody has requested that he resign from office. HIs continued refusal to do so illustrates how truly superficial is his regard for Allentown.
1983 record snow storm in Allentown, Morning Call photo
Mar 6, 2018
Since Pawlowski's conviction last Thursday I have read numerous articles where people, even a juror, think that his only fault and mistake was running for Governor and Senator. If not for needing huge sums of contributions for those campaigns, he would have remained the savior of Allentown. While some of these people are under-informed, others are misinformed, and some are actually part of Allentown's ethical problem. Worse, even an article by a Morning Call reporter repeats this nonsense; Allentown residents thought so highly of Pawlowski that last year,... They re-elected him to a fourth term. He only won because it was a three way race, with his support coming from the most uninformed of the voters.
The extensive new construction in Allentown is the result a unique state incentive plan called the NIZ. While it is occurring in Allentown because of State Senator Pat Browne, Pawlowski had little more to do with it than you or me. Because he is mayor, he was allowed to cut the ribbons, and claim credit for the new construction, but it was a gross distortion of the truth. He did however hope to capitalize on that distortion and get elected to higher office as a result of the confusion.
Using distortion and confusion comes naturally to Pawlowski. He never had respect for a level playing field, and always was willing to step on people to achieve his objectives. Those who think that his faith based work was sincere, should remember Jim and Tammy Baker. Before he had bigger targets to leverage, he played the small fries off each other. Over his first few years he took the Hamilton Street cleaning contract away from one small fry to give it to a bigger small fry, who could influence more potential voters. Over the years his fries got bigger, but he remained a small time charlatan. Perhaps the saddest part of the trial was seeing people humiliate themselves by saying that they contributed to Pawlowski because they thought that he would make a good governor or senator. They didn't have much choice, either humiliate themselves or confess to bribery.
Mar 5, 2018
It was interesting reading the comments on facebook and elsewhere Friday morning. Proclamations of a new day and fresh start, especially by local current politicians, are amusing. I don't know one who wasn't in bed with Pawlowski at one time or another over the years. I don't know one who didn't benefit by those ties. Pawlowski specialized in developing the ties that bind. I was also amused by his sycophants who expressed sympathy to his wife; Lisa Pawlowski was very much part of the insider loop, and exerted herself against his opponents throughout his reign.
Gotta love State Representatives Schlossberg and Schweyer chiming in about moving forward from this painful chapter. They must have forgotten all the yes votes they gave Pawlowski when they served on city council.
Although I appreciated blogger Bernie O'Hare's acknowledgment that this blog first educated him about Pawlowski, I disagree with him about Bill White occasionally questioning the mayor's motives. Bill White was silent until the FBI raided city hall in 2015. As a columnist, he had the leeway to question the administration throughout the years. The paper's blatant promotion of the NIZ has been a journalistic compromise. The Morning Call building was included in the NIZ, even though it stood alone across the street from the district. Not only does the paper turn a blind eye toward their obvious conflict of interest, but Bill White actually referred to me as misguided in my criticism of the district.
Now that Pawlowski's resignation is inevitable, former supporters are climbing over each other, purporting to be reformers. Ironically, the charter rules may preclude the two most eager candidates, O'Connell and MacLean, from being eligible. Although Nat Hyman is interested in gauging the temperature, I know back-channel that certain council members have no appetite for that idea. Charlie Thiel may well end up the default candidate, if O'Connell and MacLean are indeed blocked by the city charter.
I would hope that whoever is appointed will come to somewhat resent this blog. Otherwise, I may not be properly fulfilling its mission.
Welcome to Molovinsky On Allentown. This blog is produced every weekday to illuminate local politics and history. I am an independent monitor and an occasional activist. The blog is loyal only to issues, not elected officials. Your comments are welcome and your readership is appreciated.
above photo from The Morning Call
Mar 2, 2018
By now most followers of Allentown politics know that Ed Pawlowski was found guilty of almost all charges late Thursday afternoon. Although I'm very mindful of my privacy, today I will reveal a personal experience with Ed Pawlowski. I make this revelation not to dwell on my reputation, but as a window on his character. Although his sycophants and others may think that his only fault was his political ambition, they are mistaken. Over the years numerous people were bullied by Pawlowski. Most of them didn't have the voice to speak out.
In 2005, as an independent and the third candidate on the ballot for mayor, I debated Pawlowski and Heydt at the WFMZ studio. After the debate, an audience member told me that Lisa Pawlowski was telling audience members that I was a slumlord. Not hearing it myself, I let it drop. In the beginning of 2008, I conducted a series of SPEAK OUT meetings at an intercity church. A Morning Call reporter told me after the meeting that when she called Pawlowski for comment, he told her that I was just a slumlord. The reality was that I operated buildings between 4th and 12th Streets for decades, without one code violation or tenant complaint. There was absolutely no basis for the untrue slander by Pawlowski, other than a flaw in his character. At the end of 2008 he repeated the falsehood, but this time in front of me and others outside the city council chamber. I asked him how he would feel if I told people that he was a corrupt politician?
Over the years this blog has not concerned itself explicitly with the contributions and corresponding favors which convicted Pawlowski yesterday. My concern has been the consequences and policies, which have compromised our assets, such as the park system. My concern is with the unlevel playing field for small business owners. A comment last night stated that Bernie(O'Hare) and I have been vindicated. Pawlowski will be gone soon, but many people who cooperated with him remain, along with the policies they implemented.
Mar 1, 2018
After I read in the paper that Ed Pawlowski's defense attorney asked the jury to send him(Ed) back to the people who so love him and the city he has saved, I realized that Pawlowski must be holy, because he surely didn't save Allentown in a civic sense. Although Jack McMahon tried to convince the jury that Ed was responsible for the NIZ and its new construction, in reality that was a arrangement between Pat Browne and J.B. Reilly. Although it happen on Ed's watch, his only part was to cut a few ribbons. However, both the out-of towners and low information types do think that Pawlowski was responsible, because the true NIZ story is hard to grasp.
Pawlowski was hoping to use this confusion as his ticket to ride out of town, either to Harrisburg or Washington. As it turns out, he will probably get his ticket, but not to where he had hoped.
deity image from Bernie O'Hare's Ramblings
Feb 28, 2018
Whether Mayor Edwin Pswlowski is convicted or not, nobody can have any doubt about the corruption this city has experienced over the last decade. Every contract was negotiated not for the taxpayer's sake, but rather the position of the mayor. These distorted criterion infected every department. Those who follow this blog realize that while both local politics and history are my topics of choice, the park system is my passion.
Although the Cedar Beach Pool contract was investigated as corrupt, it was not the only questionable decision made by the park department under Pawlowski. First and foremost, two new parcels should have never been purchased; This is the land by Basin Street, and the former fertilizer plant land along Martin Luther King Drive. The existing park system has been neglected since Pawlowski was elected in 2005, with the iconic WPA Stone Structures literally crumbling.
If the administration and city council had taken suggestions made on this blog to heart, the entrance wall of Lehigh Parkway would have never collapsed. I do not possess unique insight, but rather the simple understanding that Allentown has a magnificent park system which needs only to be maintained.
blogger surveying entrance road wall after it collapsed in Lehigh Parkway
Feb 27, 2018
This is my second post on Ce-Ce Gerlach; The first was this summer, when I covered her block party fundraiser to buy uniforms for the students. Yesterday, I decided to sit down with Ce-Ce and learn more about someone in Allentown's future. She has been instrumental in attempting to share Allentown's good fortune from the arena's NIZ, with the city's less fortunate inter-city residents. Ce-Ce talks their language; She lived in her car for six months, about five years ago. Only 27 years old, she has emerged as a spokeswoman and advocate for Allentown's silent majority. Coming from the poor side of the tracks in Washington D.C., she knows first hand how little of opportunity can spill over from affluence, to a nearby population mired in the poverty cycle. In addition to being a leader on the coalition for community benefit from the NIZ, and the school board, she is on the city's Human Relations Board. She's open to more responsibilities, and even elected offices, in her mission to improve lives in downtown Allentown.
photocredit:Harry Fisher/The Morning Call
above reprinted from December of 2013
UPDATE: February 27,2018 Ed Pawlowski has blocked Ce-Ce's appointment to the Park and Recreation Commission. In doing so he has further insured that she will be recognized as a reform candidate, and succeed in her quest for City Council in 2019.
Feb 26, 2018
When I was a boy the audience at the Howdy Doody Show, comprised of children, was called the Peanut Gallery. Later that phrase became a metaphor for an unsophisticated group. Wikipedia states that A peanut gallery was, in the days of vaudeville, a nickname for the cheapest and ostensibly rowdiest seats in the theater, the occupants of which were often known to heckle the performers. Although the defense for Mayor Ed Pawlowski has rested, Ed keeps reaching out to the local social media groups. Even this past weekend he was putting up links to headlines by his defense attorney that professed his innocence. He is still trying to campaign to his sycophants and assorted sickos.
I am conscious of the fact that I have written about this phenomena several times already, but I find it fascinating. It reminds me of the disgraced television pastors who suddenly find G-d again. I believe that Ed may become such a preacher upon his release from prison.
Feb 23, 2018
I can imagine the hours that he was coached by McMahon for this performance. Although he needed McMahon's coaching for the specific legal defense, he already had the lying down to a science. In 2005 I attended 31 campaign performances by his liarship; He is good at it. Credit McMahon for knowing a natural born liar when he meets one. It was for this reason that McMahon was so anxious to get Pawlowski on the stand. It was for this reason that one reporter even described Pawlowski's testimony as jovial. He actually enjoys lying.
Early Thursday morning Pawlowski posted the link shown above that he was horrified by play to pay claims to his facebook page. Next week we'll probably learn if the jury believes him.
Feb 22, 2018
In a council vote headed by Daryl Hendricks, Tom Muller was rejected to start serving as Managing Director. He correctly told council, “The mayor is across the street all the time right now and someone needs to be tending the shop,” Although Hendricks stated that he would favor the appointment after the trial, Muller stated that he would have to re-evaluate his offer to serve. I know that Hendricks' dissenting vote wasn't unexpected, but Muller thought that he would be appointed by a 6 to 1 margin. I believe that Allentown may have lost the option of an experienced administrator for a political reason, nothing unusual for this city.
This meeting was covered by Daryl Nerl, now a freelancer for the Morning Call. Nerl was Pawlowski's first and last supporter. As the full time Allentown beat reporter for the paper in 2005, his coverage of that election was notably biased for Pawlowski. When Mike Fleck closed his office and fled Allentown, Nerl was in his employ promoting Pawlowski. His assignment to cover Pawlowski related news is ill-advised, nothing unusual for this paper.
photocredit: WFMZ-TV/ 69 News
Feb 21, 2018
In real estate no good deed goes unpunished. The farm on the corner of Cedar Crest Blvd. and Walbert Avenue watched the surrounding area develop into houses, a shopping plaza and office park. Now that the owners finally want to develop their parcel, the neighbors are in an uproar. When the municipal building was too small to hold a public meeting on the topic, it was switched to a school auditorium. The protestors have the usual complaints about traffic congestion and overcrowded schools. As a property rights advocate, I believe that the owners have the same rights to develop their land as did all the adjoining complainers. The topic of proper local government is what brings us to this post.
According to The Morning Call, an elected township commissioner told the large crowd that he agrees with them that the project, as designed, would be too much of an imposition on the township. I believe that his crowd pandering had a political motivation, and he was acting improperly as a legislator. Furthermore, as a political gesture he stated that the entire township should have been invited, rather than just the adjoining neighbors. Understand that he appoints the planning commission and the zoners, who have jurisdiction over such matters. That public meeting was not the place for his opinion, although in South Whitehall the commissioners do have the final say.
There is however another topic on which he could properly express himself. The voters of South Whitehall voted to preserve Wehr's Dam. He and his fellow commissioners have been absolutely silent on their intentions and plans about the dam, and are allowing the Wildlands Conservancy to lobby the state for condemnation.
Small local government at its worse.
For reasons unknown to me, some comments recently submitted to posts have been going into the blog's spam folder, rather than being published. I apologize if your comment(s) hasn't appeared.
Feb 20, 2018
CastleRock took place in the cavernous Dorney Park dance-hall, Castle Garden. The "Garden" was built in the early 20's and hosted all the famous big bands of that era. By the late fifties it was called CastleRock. The Philadelphia recording stars, such as Frankie Avalon and Freddy Cannon would routinely perform. By my teenage era, in the early mid 60's, it was mostly disc jockeys. The Park was free, no admission. Pay to park, and maybe a buck or so for the dance-hall.
By then the nightclub tables shown in the photograph were gone, and sitting was around the sides. There were no shootings, and rowdiness was restricted to sneaking on a ride without buying a ticket. The dance-hall overlooked the lake, it was destroyed by a fire on Thanksgiving in 1985.
Reprinted from January 2013
Feb 19, 2018
The above screen grab is a recent example of Pawlowski support taken from an Allentown facebook group. I have redacted the author's name, because this post is about Pawlowski supporters in general, regardless of their particular motivation.
Are most Pawlowski supporters uninformed, while others even contrary and disingenuous? While I also have previously referred to many as unethical, in truth why would I care about which conditions afflict this group? The problem unfortunately is that they might sooner than later determine Allentown's leadership. Although it took essentially a three way race to re-elect Pawlowski this time, clearly a third of the voters went with him, despite the indictment.
From facebook and other social media, we learn that most of his supporters are both low information and low expectation types. Pawlowski himself keeps posting any link that suggests he might be less than completely guilty. Which choir he is attempting to preach to continues to baffle me.
Truth be told I'm not optimistic about Allentown's political future. Within the last decade a perfect storm of political opportunism and indifference has apparently drowned the city.
Feb 16, 2018
I'm a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Although that is a right which I defend, as an engaged citizen I appreciate living in a society of laws. There are rights and laws, and we can all live within them. I do not blindly consider every regulation as a curtailment of my rights, or as a slippery slope which will erode them, as does the NRA. I can exercise my rights in a responsible manner, without purposefully provoking those who feel differently about this issue.
Each November the NRA sends its current and former members a card telling them whom they should vote for in their district, to protect their 2nd Amendment rights. Although their member magazine often features hunting rifles, the organization must also think of their members as sheep, who should only care about one issue. As Americans we should guard our right to own firearms, but never tolerate being told how to vote.
I support Americans For Responsible Solutions, the group started by Mark Kelly and Gabby Giffords. They both value their right to own a fireman, but appreciate the need for greater controls against irresponsible ownership.
Shown above is a 38 special, gifted upon Frank Sinatra by the Miami Beach Police & Firemen's Association.
Feb 15, 2018
In yesterday's post I wrote about tiptoeing through the Pawlowski minefield. We will see a parade of character witnesses testify that their contributions were made because of Pawlowski's leadership and accomplishments, not to gain the work which they received. What else can they say and not incriminate themselves? Pawlowski's attorney, Jack McMahon, organized the parade, composed of some of Allentown's most prestigious attorneys. The downside for them is that everybody knows that Pawlowski was at best just a self-serving opportunist. Those who testify they felt that Pawlowski moved Allentown forward know full well that he was only the ribbon cutter for the NIZ, not the engine behind it. Those who say that they thought he was governor or senator material only erode their credibility even farther. It is their hope that the trial end soon, and that their testimony be forgotten; For the most part it will be.
photocredit: The Morning Call
Feb 14, 2018
If the witnesses who haven't pleaded guilty seem to hem and haw about what expectations they had for their contributions or services to Pawlowski, understand that they do not want to openly admit that they participated in a pay to play scheme. Although they may be offered immunity from prosecution, they still have their careers to consider. Some may be attorneys, and others may even have their own political plans. Their objective is to get into and out of the federal courthouse with as little damage to their own reputation as possible. If their evasive answers result in Pawlowski being acquitted, in their mind that's better than sacrificing their own future.
A problem for Allentown going forward is the people who supported him this last November. Although most of them are not policy makers, some have their own ambitions for elected office. Imagine the ethics they would bring to the table?
photocredit: The Morning Call
Feb 13, 2018
If Ed Pawlowski ends up convicted of pay to play in his federal case remains to be seen. Since the investigation of his corruption by the FBI began in 2013 or so, the law has changed. In a case called McDonnell vs. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a specific favor for a specified contribution must be linked and documented. So, although I cannot predict the trial's outcome, I do know that he stole honest services from the taxpayers of Allentown.
From court testimony we learn that most contracts given out in Allentown were decided not by what was best value for the city, but by which vendor would contribute to Pawlowski's campaigns. Unfortunately, the consequences are even worse; Because Pawlowski was mayor for three full terms, this corruption impacted almost every department's integrity.
Hopefully, when Pawlowski is finally gone, Allentown can begin to clean this culture of corruption from city hall.
photo from Morning Call video
Feb 12, 2018
While Celeste Dee's current website heralds her experience as a campaign strategist, there is no mention that she got the experience working for Mike Fleck's H Street Strategies. H Street promoted Pawlowski and his stable of yes men and women. In light of the Pawlowski trial, and Fleck's guilty plea, her omission is understandable. She testified that she was well aware that city vendors were being burped for campaign contributions.
Candida Affa went with Celeste and her spinoff agency; She was perhaps the last member of City Council to cut ties with Pawlowski. Celeste will be able to survive and prosper in Allentown's Democratic world; She is treasurer of the local party.
The Pawlowski era and lack of ethics so permeated local politics that there are no players that were not tainted by it.
photo of Celeste Dee in front of Federal Courthouse by WFMZ Channel 69 News
Feb 9, 2018
Although Molovinsky On Allentown's mission is to provide informed commentary rather than being another reportage site, I felt it might be useful to witness Pawlowski's famed defense attorney in action. I observed his cross examination of Matt McTish. While the prosecutor seemed meek and barely audible, McMahon was strong and commanding. He produced an email that McTish sent his lobbyist, Jennifer Mann, complaining that his contributions to Pawlowski were not being productive. To use McMahon's words, there was no bang for McTish's buck, nor quid pro quo established. He made McTish confirm that contributions to various politicians were a common business expense for his engineering firm. Furthermore, he revealed that McTish additionally paid Mann $60,000 a year to assist him in securing business, with both government and private sectors.
McMahon had succeeded in taking a prosecution witness and scoring points for the defense. When Pawlowski left the courtroom for a recess, he was clearly pleased with his attorney's performance.
Let me clarify that this snippet involves only one cross examination, in what will prove to be a long complex trial.
court rendering from earlier in the trial by The Morning Call
Feb 8, 2018
Yesterday's snow wasn't expected to slow down the earth's rotation. Never the less, Lanta put in effect their Snow Emergency Routes. Standing outside in the cold for a bus isn't the picnic Lanta thinks. On their website they state that you can access information free of charge on your iPhone. Nice of them to make the information free, and of of course we must assume that everybody has an iPhone, even those low income bus riders.
What would motivate them to implement snow detour routes for less than 2" of snow? Perhaps they have a special position for such decisions, and he/she feels less useless by declaring the emergency routing.
At the end of the day, or I should say the beginning, it's quite a kick in the teeth to wait for a bus not coming.
Feb 7, 2018
I grew on Liberator Avenue. Liberator and Catalina Avenues, and Coronado Street, were named for Vultee-Consolidated WW2 planes, and are next to the airport built as part of the war effort. Vultee Street was built to connect the hangers with the Mack 5C plant, which was given over to Vultee-Consolidated for plane part manufacturing during the war. Vultee Street was the runway, and Lehigh Street would be closed off if a plane was landing. Today, this small airport now known as Queen City, has been under relentless threat by Mayor Ed Pawlowski, now a member of the Lehigh Valley Airport Authority. This past Tuesday, fellow board members started pushing back against Pawlowski.
reprinted from April of 2012
ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 7, 2018: My pushback against Pawlowski started in 2006. In 2007 when I started this blog, he and his enablers were still being defended as good for Allentown, even by fellow bloggers. This blog is fact based. I have no politicians whom I support. I am loyal only to issues, not elected officials.
"You're not the mayor of the Lehigh Valley International Airport." board member Frank Kovacs to PawlowskiThe board voted to build a new taxiway, indicating there's not much consensus to sell the airport, which has been Pawlowski's objective. Pawlowski wants to add to Allentown's real estate glut, for a short sighted tax gain. Matt Assad, from The Morning Call, wrote an excellent article explaining the arguments to both sell and keep Queen City. He also provides quotes of the tense discussion between board members and Pawlowski. This blogger is not surprised by Pawlowski's position, but questions Don Cunningham's judgement in appointing him to the Authority.
reprinted from April of 2012
ADDENDUM FEBRUARY 7, 2018: My pushback against Pawlowski started in 2006. In 2007 when I started this blog, he and his enablers were still being defended as good for Allentown, even by fellow bloggers. This blog is fact based. I have no politicians whom I support. I am loyal only to issues, not elected officials.
Feb 6, 2018
Although it's reprehensible, one can understand Pawlowski's Philadelphia mouthpiece throwing the mayor's former associates under the bus. But apparently that's not enough for Mayor Ed, he reprints that line on facebook himself.
Now here's the problem, Pawlowki is still mayor of Allentown.
He is in essence telling all city employees that they could also become a sacrificial lamb when needed. He is apparently more concerned with his reputation on facebook than the operation of the city. Although his supporters are limited to the uninformed, the contrary and the unethical, and the election is over, he is still more concerned with them than the operation of the city.
Credit city managers and workers for anything being done right in Allentown. The mayor's office is worse than empty, it's actually working against morale.
Feb 5, 2018
Although Pawlowski might be found not guilty because the prosecution cannot reach the current burden of proof, he surely is not innocent. Although I do not care about Pawlowski's future, I do hope that those members of the third group come to realize that government shouldn't be about what you can get out of it for yourself. My hope is probably naive. Greed has become part of large urban politics, and Allentown seems to have lost its innocence.
Feb 2, 2018
If I saw a shrink for my frustration about Allentown, I would have to be in therapy all day. If I took sedatives, I wouldn't be able to stand up, instead I run for office and blog. Pawlowski announced his plan to restore the city on Friday; continuously inspect every inanimate object in Allentown. This professional advise came from a former Philadelphia housing guru, of course a fly in the soup is that Philadelphia is the corruption and murder capital of the world. Allentown's Rental Inspection Law failed to upgrade the city; while you end up legitimizing slumlords with certificates of occupation, you cannot legislate pride of ownership. Many local conscientious owners sold out rather than submit to the bureaucracy, increasing the frequency of inspections will again backfire. Although Pawlowski (and Cunningham) campaigned about their grand plans and communication skills, neither even knew the Allentown School System was going to demand reassessment; It's time for the taxpayers and citizens to reassess who they elected.
reprinted from November of 2007
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2, 2018: Apparently when it comes to corruption, Philadelphia didn't have anything over us after all. During the course of the trial this week, it was reported that Pawlowski used some Allentown inspectors as his personal goon squad, rewarding donors and penalizing those that didn't pony up. A number of years ago several landlords complained on this blog that they were indeed mistreated by the inspection program. In my limited exposure to inspectors they have been professional. I'm sure the testimony this week is not pleasant for that department's personnel. They will however continue doing their job, and move beyond the stigma of the Pawlowski scandal.
Feb 1, 2018
The prediction of light snow early Tuesday morning proved to be correct. By Wednesday morning the streets were white, however it wasn't snow, but salt. For a city which just enacted a stormwater fee, largely because of salt runoff, you would think that a more prudent use of salt would be in order.
Despite the federal mandate to clean stormwater running into the streams, I have doubt that anything significant will be changed for many years. Understand that the city was under federal mandate for over a decade to correct the leaking sanitary sewers which actually contaminate the Little Lehigh with feces during storms. The city didn't do anything, and now the Lehigh County Authority has inherited that mandate. Those who complained that the Stormwater Fee was actually a backdoor tax increase were correct.
photocredit:Rich Schultz/The Morning Call
Jan 31, 2018
If Pawlowski is acquitted, Allentown will be the outlander for the next four years. While the prosecutor could fail to convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that his exploitation of the city bid system rose to a level necessary for conviction, everybody now knows that city hall was essentially corrupt. Regardless of the trial outcome, neither he or Allentown would be considered innocent.
Although Pawlowski would be personally insufferable, his effectiveness as a leader would be completely neutralized. Nobody on City Council, or other local governments, would want to be seen as his ally. He would spend the next four years preaching to his small congregation of deniers about his innocence. Those invested here could only hope that the current caretakers in place are left to run the city with little interference by him. The mayoral campaigning for 2021 would begin in earnest immediately.
Jan 30, 2018
above reprinted from September 7, 2013
UPDATE January 30,2018: Last evening I attended an early kickoff for Ce-Ce's campaign for Allentown City Council in 2019. I've known Ce-Ce for years, and am glad to see her again offering her time and energy to Allentown. In this sorry time we need people with her sincerity and integrity.
In regards to this sorry time, it's my understanding that the prosecution against Pawlowski had a strong showing in court yesterday. Numerous witnesses, including former city employees, described bid rigging and a pay to play culture. Supposedly, the defense attorney seemed exasperated, and Pawlowski himself somewhat forlorn.
Jan 29, 2018
Ed Pawlowski published the above post last Thursday, the fourth day of his federal trial for corruption. I don't know if he has unshakable faith in his defense attorney, or if he is plain nuts. But at any rate, this post is about a contributor to his senate campaign. A week or so before the FBI raid at city hall, Pawlowski phoned a Democrat I know and hit him up for a contribution to his senate campaign. This fellow sent in his check shortly before the raid. I bumped into him a few days later, and when I asked him for his opinion about the raid, he told me about his contribution. Trial notes indicate that Pawlowski knew what was coming down the pike, and was actually soliciting contributions at that time for his upcoming defense, not a senate race. I think that such deception speaks of his character.
Although Pawlowski is sitting in court every day, all day, his early morning facebook posts imply that he is still involved in running the city. I suppose that they are directed at his current supporters who voted for him last November; Truth isn't an important point with them.
Jan 26, 2018
Getting to the Boat Landing, for six year old boys who lived above the park in 1953, was quite an adventure. There were three other wonderful WPA structures to navigate on the journey. Unfortunately, poor foresight by a previous park director has erased some of the WPA's monuments in Lehigh Parkway. As the postcard from the mid-50's above shows, the Boat Landing (my name for the structure) was a source of pride for the city and park system. It is located at the end of the park, near Regency Apartments. I use the present tense because remnants of this edifice still exist, buried under dirt and debris. Other attractions lost in that section of the park include the Spring Pond near the Robin Hood parking lot, and the bridge to the "Island", plus the mosaic inlaid benches which were on the island. ( Island halfway between parking lot and boat landing). Neither the Mayor or the Park Director knows that these centerpieces ever existed. These are irreplaceable architectural treasures well worth restoring.
UPDATE: The above post was written in May of 2009. Later that year I organized a small group of volunteers, and we unearthed a portion of the boat landing. The next year I prevailed on the Allentown Water Shed Foreman, Michael Gilbert, to expose the remaining stones around the Spring Pond and remove the growth hiding the Miniature Bridge.
Trexler Smiles, Landing Revealed
I believe that today, for the first time in decades, General Trexler had something to smile about. Most people never understood why three steps were near the lower entrance of Lehigh Parkway; they seemed to lead nowhere. This morning eight people joined a grass root effort to unveil, for the first time in decades, the structure I called the Boat Landing.
Buried under the dirt and grass were several more steps leading to a landing. Chris Casey was the first to arrive and cleared these steps and the first landing himself. A second set of steps led from the landing to the main landing on the creek. These second steps had a foot or so of ground and plants.
The quality and condition of the stonework is excellent, as was all our WPA icons. I will be polite and say only that it was a crime to have let this neglect occur. On the main landing the accumulated earth was two and half feet thick. The crew dug out the curving retaining wall several yards in each direction, and cleared off the top of the wall.
Eight people working four hours managed to reveal about one third of the landing at the bottom of the steps. It was a thrill to realize we were standing at creek's edge as the WPA architects had envisioned. I stood there often as a boy. There still remains a large portion of dirt to remove at the steps base, but you can now experience the Boat Landing.
The retaining wall and the landing continue for fifty feet or so in both directions. Unfortunately a huge tree has grown on the landing to the right, but the left appears reclaimable.
We who worked there today, hope to return and clear off the remainder of the dirt at the bottom of the steps.
Perhaps others will be motivated to clear off the remaining portion of the landing to the left. Now that might even be an idea for the City; imagine restoring an irreplaceable icon instead of buying something from a catalogue. I'm most grateful to all those who helped today, and will reveal their names with their permission.
I just wanted to thank you for organizing today’s cleanup at the “Boat Landing” in the Lehigh Parkway. It’s not often that one gets to help unearth a treasure while barely leaving home, but that’s exactly what happened today.
It was truly impressive what big difference a small group of people can make. I can’t even estimate the amount of dirt that was moved with nothing more than a few shovels and a lot of hard work.
We can only hope that the City and the Trexler Trust will become aware of this location and start giving all the great structures in the Parkway the care they deserve.
However, the best part of the story for me came after we all left. I got home and my daughter Lucy (age 7) wanted to know how things went. We hopped in the car and soon we were walking up to the stairs leading to the landing. The sun was shining, and the sunlight trickled through the trees and onto the freshly-exposed stairway.
Lucy asked if she could go down to the landing by the water and next thing I knew we were both there at the waters edge, standing on what had been buried only a few hours earlier and marveling at the beauty of the location.
We spent a few moments there - a father and daughter both enjoying something completely “new” to us (even though the landing is over 70 years old). We talked briefly about what was – and more importantly what could be again.
Thank you for making that moment possible, and I hope many others take the opportunity to visit the landing in the near future.
P.S. – After visiting the landing, Lucy and I walked further upstream and saw the remnants of the bridge to the island (near the water fountain). The remaining supports of the bridge confirmed what you had told me earlier about the island being much smaller years ago.
I organized the excavation shown above in 2009. We did return and remove the remaining dirt at the bottom of the steps.
reprinted from two separate posts combined
Jan 25, 2018
I'm not much for the pretty boy and girl awards. There is no end to the red carpet of these self promoting shows. The Academy Award, The Golden Globe Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, the I'm So Lucky Award That They Picked My Pretty Face Over Thousands Of Other Pretty Faces Award. Now I don't watch such nonsense, but see the articles about them. I know that Meryl and Oprah were upset at the last show that some men mistook their younger sexy counterparts as sex objects. Meanwhile on the screen, it's hard to find a production without nudity and guns.
These awards are of course intended to keep these lucky pretty faces in the public's eye. In the most recent, Melania Trump was snarked Sunday night for not doing more about cyber-bullying. While that criticism was totally unnecessary, it shows that Hollywood feels empowered to promote their liberalism and that hatred of all things Trump. This hate-fest didn't receive its full audience because it was competing with the Philadelphia Eagles. However, the next one will be soon enough, and you can bet that the theme will again be that Trump is bad and that women are treated like sex objects. Expect more low cut black dresses.
Jan 24, 2018
Francis Dougherty, Pawlowski's former Managing Director, minced no words yesterday describing how Pawlowski steered city contracts to those bidders who could help him most with his political ambitions. While this comes as no surprise to we who watched him operate for the last decade, what does this say about Allentown's future? If he is convicted and taken away, we're still left with about a third of the voting population who were not fazed by his questionable ethics. His supporters now serve on numerous boards and commissions.
Those supporters were not deluded about his innocence, they were simply hoping for a small piece of the plunder. Although it would be nice to think that justice will prevail, and that Allentown will be purged of these parasites, the truth is that we will never again be the city pictured on postcards.
Billy Joel was a lightweight compared to Pawlowski tainting Allentown's reputation.
Welcome to Molovinsky On Allentown. This blog is produced every weekday to illuminate local politics. I am an independent monitor and an occasional activist, when necessary. Your comments are welcome and your readership is appreciated.
Jan 23, 2018
The first day of the trial went very well for Pawlowski. It was determined that Pawlowski can indeed testify in his own defense. In stage presence, the prosecution seems no match for Jack McMahon, Pawlowski's high power Philadelphia lawyer. While the judge did demonstrate that he wouldn't allow McMahon to bully, his extensive courtroom experience was never the less apparent. Although the tapes played clearly showed that Pawlowski was annoyed about how little some contributors ponied up, there was no quid pro quo arrangement demonstrated , which is necessary for a conviction. Although Pawlowski's expectations about contributions was clear enough, again from a legal threshold, the statements were implicit, short of a required explicit arrangement. Even the Eagles victory worked for Ed yesterday, with the Philadelphia media being a no-show for day one. If it had been a one day trial, Ed would have walked. While it is not a one day trial, it was a very important day, the jury's first impression.
I did NOT attend yesterday's proceeding. This report is based on feedback from several people whose power of observation I know and trust.
illustration for The Morning Call by Bill Ternay
Jan 22, 2018
Today Mayor Pawlowski's long awaited trial actually begins. As I scanned the defense witness list I wondered what would motivate most of these people, besides the subpoena, to cooperate on Ed's behalf. Then it occurred to me that it was an opportunity to publicity disavow any knowledge of any wrongdoing. Now there are a few of these people who consider themselves friends of Ed, and would testify for Ed's sake. Alan Jennings would be among that group, but I believe most on the list are on the public disavow side. I suspect that at least one person, who was propelled into the public money income stream by Ed, wants to show that she can be counted on to be discreet.
On a city issue facebook site, a reader wondered why people complaining about Pawlowski re-elected him? Actually, most people aware enough to participate on such a site, didn't directly vote for him. However, many did write-in the name of a third candidate, which resulted in Pawlowski's victory.
In my previous post I discussed the psychology of Pawlowski's facebook posts. I would think such insertions by him violate the intent of the court order for him not to discuss the case. Convicted or not, prison assigned or not, a good therapist might be in order.
Welcome to Molovinsky On Allentown. This blog is produced every weekday to illuminate local politics. I am an independent monitor and an occasional activist, when necessary. Your comments are welcome and your readership is appreciated.
Jan 19, 2018
I find Ed Pawlowski's posts on facebook rather remarkable. He seems to have two kinds; One version is his activities in Allentown, completely ignoring his upcoming trial. Understand that I have anxiety even over a haircut appointment, much less federal prosecution. His second kind of posts deal with the law. Although the law has changed since the investigation began into his shenanigans, and he could be acquitted, nine people already pleaded guilty to abetting him in his intent, which was alledgedly to shake down contributors.
His facebook posts are indeed quite a pyschological profile. The election is over, and the jury was selected in Philadelphia. Pawlowski took his wife and children along to Philadelphia, where she was admonished by the judge for chatting up potential jurors. One must wonder who he is trying to convince with his facebook posts? Perhaps himself.
Jan 18, 2018
Chris Kocher's letter to the editor, which appeared in The Morning Call on December 7, 2014, assured the public that the Wildlands Conservancy will respect certainly whatever decision South Whitehall Township makes about the (Wehr's) dam's future. It was of course just a public relations gesture, knowing full well how much influence his organization welded over the township. In reality, the Wildlands have written the township's Master Park Plan, which called for the dam's demolition.
When the Commissioners were presented with over 7,600 signatures, actually collected at the dam itself, they felt publicly pressured not to give the Wildlands permission to proceed with the demolition. However, they declined to proclaim the dam saved, or grant it historical designation. Likewise, despite Kochers gesture in his letter, he made no subsequent statement.
The Commissioners then decided to hold a public referendum on funding the dam's repair, believing that the public would never vote themselves a tax increase to save the dam. Once again they underestimated the public's regard for the beautiful historic structure.
Although Chris Kocher publicly stated that the Wildlands would back away from the dam's demolition if the Commissioners voted to save it, he never has afforded the residents of South Whitehall the same respect. On the contrary, the Wildlands has written the state, claiming that the dam is in poorer condition than the state inspection indicated. It is now morally incumbent upon the Wildlands Conservancy to respect the wishes of the public, as affirmed through the referendum. After writing his letter to the editor back in 2014, hopefully Kocher has the integrity to now publicly repeat his commitment to the residents of the township.
reprinted from May 2017
photocredit: K Mary Hess
Jan 17, 2018
|photo by Tami Quigley|
The top photo shows the Robin Hood Bridge, before the Wildlands Conservancy demolished the little Robin Hood Dam, just downstream beyond the bridge. The dam was only about 10 inches high, and was built as a visual effect to accompany the bridge in 1941. It was the last WPA project in Allentown, and considered the final touch for Lehigh Parkway. Several years ago, the Wildlands told the Allentown Park Director and City Council that it wanted to demolish the dam. The only thing that stood between their bulldozer and the dam was yours truly. I managed to hold up the demolition for a couple weeks, during which time I tried to educate city council about the park, but to no avail. If demolishing the dam wasn't bad enough, The Wildlands Conservancy piled the broken dam ruble around the stone bridge piers, as seen in the bottom photo. I'm sad to report that the situation is now even worse. All that ruble collected silt, and now weeds and brush is growing around the stone bridge piers. I suppose the Wildlands Conservancy considers it an extension of its riparian buffer.
reprinted from June 2016 and earlier
UPDATE JANUARY 2018: The Wildlands Conservancy should be made to remove, piece by piece, all the rubble that they piled around the bridge piers, despoiling the bridge's beauty. City Council should refrain from ever again permitting The Wildlands Conservancy to alter our park designs.