Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lehigh Valley Rail Summit: Grassroots or Astroturf?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting"This is an unusual meeting. ... This is not business as usual."

That's how State Senator Rob Wonderling described last night's high profile passenger rail summit at Hotel Bethlehem. And it sure was a diverse combination of business interests, pols and transportation advocates.


This odd assortment of at least 170 foo-foos nibbled in anticipation at expensive cheeses and sipped different wines, "networking" away and passing out business cards while a piano played ever so quietly. All the hotshots were there. No wonder. This event was loudly trumpeted by both The Morning Call and Express Times. Reporters and cameras were in abundance. Senator Wonderling and facilitator Joyce Marin concluded the high turnout was indicative of some kind of "grass roots movement," but that's horseshit. This was manufactured news, bippy. There's obviously big money behind last night's astroturf event.

The event sponsor, RenewLV, describes itself as "a diverse coalition of business, agriculture, environmentalists, urban, suburban and rural government officials, education and other civic leaders." Its members include PPL's Bert Daday, Brown Daub's L. Anderson Daub and LVEDC's Raymond F. Suhocki. Many members are also part of the advisory committee behind the plan to widen Route 22.

The evening's featured speaker, The Brookings Institution's Robert Puentes, presented an excellent overview of potential benefits and pitfalls of some form of rail. It's worthy of a separate post. But he strangely had no recommendations for the Lehigh Valley. He cautioned "rail is not a silver bullet." And he warned that no rail program will stop congestion.

In a rambling presentation, Senator Wonderling told us a Quakertown rail line could be a reality by 2010 ... or 2011 ... or 2012.

I support light rail. I support alternative transportation. But I don't support contrived "grass roots" movements. I'd feel a lot more comfortable if I knew who picked up the tab for last night's slick extravaganza. Instead, I left feeling very suspicious about a hidden agenda.

Some of Those Attending Last Night's Ball:

Chris "Blue Collar" Casey, who left when the piano music stopped for some reason;
Greta "Queen of the Greens" Browne, looking very regal with a laptop;
Blogger Damien "I love Allentown" Brown;
Blogger Vanessa Williams, not to be confused with Vanessa Williams;
Route 22 cheerleader Bruce Davis, complete with pom poms;
Ron "Does anyone want to interview me?" Angle;
Julian "Mr. Republican" Stolz;
Rev. Mike "God loves business" Dowd;
Joe "I'm chaining myself to the piano and am not leaving until I read this list of the 20,000 war wounded" DeRaymond;
Roger "I love south side Bethlehem, casinos and butterflies" Hudak;
John "thank God this isn't county council" Stoffa;
Jason "anybody see my bike?" Slipp;
Mary "I'm there for you" Ensslin;
Peter "I send 1,000,000 emails per day containing articles from the local papers" Crownfield;
Pratima "couldn't anyone leave me one slice of cheese?" Agrawal;
Alan "prince of poverty" Jennings; and, last but least,
Bernie "can't we all just get along?" O'Hare.
Update: RenewLV Denies It Is Astroturf Group - Joyce Marin kindly posted a comment on this blog. She's "setting the record straight" concerning my RenewLV allegations. Her explanation is complete and I accept it. I was very concerned about who funds her group, and she has identified her sources.

35 comments:

LVDem said...

It's a funny coalition. The big names you see as board members/advisors are more for show. At almost every event that I've attended (I wasn't at last nights b/c of a conflict), this was driven mostly by young professionals without big names. Every now and then Ed Pawlowski of a Cindy Feinberg would show up. Prior to this event, the issue was affordable housing. I don't recall any of the people you mention being there. Maybe they just decided that now was the time to catch the train (drum set please).

However, Joyce Marin is doing a great job of using what was a grassroots base (again, those names on the board are for show) and getting the attention of area big shots. The shear numbers can make that happen.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem,

This is no "grassroots effort." I'm sorry but it just 'taint so. No grassroots group schedules an event at the Hotel Bethlehem, offering free booze and fancy cheeses while some servant plays the piano. No grassroots group I know can get the Express Times to run a front page headline story about a simple forum. No grassroots group I know attracts a Brookings scholar and Republican state senator as headliners.

There is a group within the LV that tries to set the agenda and thinks it's running the show. It is a bastion of extreme wealth and is in fact promoting a wider Route 22.

It is the LV Partnership, and I suspect it picked up the tab for last night's little gala. Some of what it does is good, but I resent it because we should elect our leaders in a democracy.

RenewLV has all the same players players that appear in a LVPartnership operation. Wonderling, I'm told, is their poster boy. They brought Brookings up here before.

Joyce Marin is a very articulate presenter, but there's no way that she attracted Channel 69 and got all that publicity on her own for what happened last night. Her handlers took care of that.

Anonymous said...

well, if you're gonna see light rail bernie, you're gonna have to lay down with the dogs. lots of money to be made, from the underwriters and bond lawyers who will arange the financing, to the CM, engineers, and organized labor who will build it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:10, I understand that. But if you lay down w/ the dogs, you're likely to get fleas. There's a hidden agenda. And last night's attempt to characterize the effort as "grass roots" was completely disingenuous. I just don't trust any group that I don't elect that tries to tell me what is good for me. Come to think of it, I don't trust the groups I elect, either.

I support light rail and all forms of alternative transportation, but I really don't know what the Lehigh Valley Partnership has in mind.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry I don't run in your social circles, but I was there for an hour, I'm just good at hiding my 300 pounds and gleaming, shaved, bald head.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris, I know. You came with Doug Reichley. I believe your ride home was Shawn Miles.

Anonymous said...

Actually Bernie, it was Mike Hurley and adrianna Spangler

Anonymous said...

i saw that fat troll angle on channel 69 at noon at the rail summit...didn't see your big shnoz though bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was probably at the buffet, putting all the cheese in my coat pockets.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

First of all, I humbly thank you for the mention. It's nice to have fifteen minutes of fame every once in a while. : O )

Secondly, I must point out the main press, as well as yourself, neglected the fact that the Network of Young Professionals co-sponsored the event. And as an active member I can assure you that we are not a bought organization. Far from it. Many of the things RenewLV does is contrived from our (young professional) ideas of what the Lehigh Valley should do to improve.

Just wanted to speak my piece. Keep on bloggin'!

Vanessa Williams

Anonymous said...

Vanessa, we love you in the TV series "Ugly Betty." Keep up the good work!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Vanessa,

I really enjoyed meeting you in person last night instead of over the blogosphere. It was a real pleasure.

Second, I apologize for my strange sense of humor. I forgot to take my pills before writing.

Third, I apologize again for not identifying your group as a cosponsor. In fact, the very first speaker was Abraham Nemitz, from your group. I should have noted it.

Fourth, I don't doubt the sincerity of your group. I don't think you've been bought. I think you may have been used. I don't think a grass roots group could afford to rent out space at the Hotel Bethlehem and lay out that spread and booze. I don't think your group was able to lean on the mainstream media and get them to run big stories publicizing your event. LVBO has been circulating a light rail petition for over a year and it has only been mentioned in the media once or twice. I don't think you folks got the Brookings scholar and Wonderling to come. I think some big money was behind all of this.

It was very nice to hear from you, and I enjoy your blogs very much.

LVDem said...

Bernie, this did start as a grassroots effort. When Renew LV got started, it wasn't a big crowd. Joyce was smart enough to know that it couldn't remain exclusively so. She brought in other people who are interested in the matters to broaden the coalition.

As far as attracting Brooking's scholars, trust me when I say they aren't that tough to grab. I've attended meetings of various sizes with various budgets (like bring your own lunch) that attract folks from think tanks. They are out there to advance an agenda and will speak in front of a group that asks for information/assistance. Brookings is no exception.

That said, I will acknowledge one thing: this whole summit does demonstrate that this issue is no longer of interest just to the grassroots. There are big wigs and small fries who care and for many different reasons. That doesn't make it astroturf (what big shot is driving this? Joyce marin? I'm sure she's flattered at the suggestion of being a big shot). I would say it is a grassroots campaign that got successful.

I'm sorry if you aren't convinced, but go to the next book club meeting. You likely won't find a huge crowd and you'll get to meet some of the small fries.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVDem,

This was no brown bag event. Let me list why I'm VERY suspicious: 1) Hotel Bethlehem; 2) a very nice spread; 3) Booze; 4) Piano; 5) slick brochure; 6) Front page story in the ET on the day before the event; 6) op-ed in the MC timed to appear the day before the event; 7) Brookings; 8) Senator Wonderling; 9) Assurances at the start that there was no opinion on widening Route 22; 10) heavy press attendance, including TV and at least one columnist; 11) appearance by many of the area's heavy hitters.

This combination leads me to wonder whether elements in the LV Partnership funded this little extravaganza. They want to widen Route 22. But they also want a commuter line to NYC to attract more Jersey residents and promote even more sprawl.

In addition, there were several remarks last night that this is a "grassroots" effort.

I don't believe Joyce Marin has been bought and apologize if I give that impression. But I believe her group is being used. I also don't believe RenewLV ever was a grass roots organization. By its own terms it is a "pro-growth" coalition of business, government and other civic leaders. I see Bert Daday's name listed on the organizing committee, and his name often indicates that the Lehigh Valley Partnership is involved. They are, of course, also behind the movement to widen Route 22 NOW.

I've seen them in action on other issues in the LV and this is their modus operandi. For example they were behind the Green Future Fund, promoting an open space bond instead of pushing for land use reforms that might really hamper overdevelopment. They were also behind Reibman's folly, the $111 million megabond.

Although much of what the LVP does is good, I resent oligarchies. I like to elect my leaders. Their favorite poster boy? Rob Wonderling.

These guys are gazillionaires and are very much interested in their own bottom lines. I prefer to elect my leaders. I don't like a manufactured "grassroots" movement. I don't like a well-seeded group that attempts to manipulate public opinion, like they did wehen the promoted Route 78 even though that option was the least desirable according to engineers.

So when you ask what big shot is behind this, my educated guess is the Lehigh Valley Partnership. I have no direct proof, just the circumstantial evidence offered.

OK, I'll take my pills now.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

LVBO's hearts are in the right place, but the organization hasn't pushed this hard or smart. Just look at the lack of results.

Marin and her group are good at this and on the right side of the issue. Some Route 22 wideners are on the right side of this too - but maybe it's worth being excited that somebody managed to raise some dough and get some attention for rail?

Seems long overdue to me...

Publius

Anonymous said...

I am reading the County Manual as I write and I have a question.
How can a p/t County (retired) employee work in three different
offices and get paid out of three different budgets?
There is a part-time employee at Gracedale, p/t in the County
Executive's office, p/t in Human Resources.(Org 63500, 20500/30500,
33100).How is this possible?
Is the County breaking the law again??

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:30, I don't know but I'll find out. If you want to write to me back channel about this, my email is BOHare5948@aol.com. You can set up a bogus email addy to protect your anonymoity. I'll look into it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Publius & LVDem, I thought about what each of you have to say and weigh that against my concerns. I believe that we are much better off to have had that meeting last night than to have had nothing at all. So for that I should be thankful, even if the LVP had a hand in it.

Joyce said...

Bernie,

This is Joyce Marin, here. Thanks for all of the flattering things you said about me and the forum. It was an amazing evening and one that I am honored to have participated in.

I am writing to set the record straight about RenewLV.

As hard as it is to believe, we are indeed a grassroots coalition. We have a "Leadership Council" of what you refer to as "big wigs," a diverse group of leaders of many constituencies from across the Lehigh Valley that we meet with every few months or so. You can find many of their names on the RenewLV website. However, the website is being updated next week, so, I'm sorry, even this list is not 100% accurate. We invited these people to this forum (as well as the other forums), but they typically meet during the day as a smaller (40 or so) group. I believe they came to this forum, as did the public, because of their interest in the topic. Those names, by the way, are not "for show." Our Leadership Council sets our agenda through a formal process. There is not one member of the organization, myself included, who sets policy or controls what we do.

We hold these public forums, free and open to the citizens of our region as a service to the community. We cast a wide net to educate the public and stir discussion on topics related to those issues brought out by the Brookings Report. I do personally believe that this is an important service to the region, which is why I am committed to the organization.

We are presently an all-volunteer organization. It is truly unbelievable what we have accomplished with committed, enthusiastic volunteers. I am continually amazed myself. I can only attribute this to people's passion for the issues. Many, many people want to face the disturbing statistics about PA highlighted in the Brookings Report and start to move forward, working toward solutions. And, we are all going to need to work together if we are going to improve things here.

I am continually amazed and unbelievably grateful that we are able to accomplish what we do with volunteers and limited funding. Our funds come from a couple of sources including dues paying members (and we always need more of those to keep our programming going. I would hope you and everyone you know would consider joining RenewLV to help out in this regard.) We also receive some foundation support. The Pool Trust and Lehigh Valley Community Foundation have been an early supporter of the RenewLV efforts.

Those glossy brochures and posters that make us look so professional were printed in very limited numbers before the event and designed by a volunteer, Wes Barrett (a friend of mine on Emmaus Borough Council). He was also our A/V guy for the night. The entire LiveLV committee of volunteers that organized the forum was recognized in the program.

Our partnership with The Network of Young Professionals has existed through these last four forums. Their president, Abraham Nemitz, provided our wecome and introduction for Robert Puentes.

We scheduled Robert Puentes when he was going to be in the general area, costing us less than typical. There were numerous other contributions and in-kind donations that kept down the cost. All in all, it was a classy event, done on a shoe string budget.

My "handlers" as you call them -- I am flattered -- are hardworking volunteers. If you heard my thanks to some of the people who helped organize the event, at the top of the list was Kevin Conrad, a Lehigh Community Fellow, who has done much of the behind the scenes work to make the event such a success and appear so professional. We have also received office space for Kevin and program support from CACLV.

I personally asked Sen. Rob Wonderling to speak. I was aware that he had been working for the last three years to restore passenger rail to Quakertown and felt that this experience was relevant.

As the LVDem stated, if you want to meet at least some of the people who are interested in the deeper issues, come to our Smart Growth Book Discussion Club. We meet every two months to discuss whatever I am reading and excited about at the moment. The book we are discussing tonight is Richard Florida's, "Cities and the Creative Class." We let people in even if they have not actually read the book, but preferred seating goes to those prepared to discuss the selection. :) You can get all of the information about time and place off of the renewlv.org website.

There are an amazing number of good books out there on topics related to RenewLV. My theory is that it shouldn't just be Rep. Bob Freeman and I reading these books, but our elected and appointed leadership and the whole Lehigh Valley. For our region to begin to change our perception of what is possible and solve some of the thorny issues, we are going to need some serious thought and discussion. Please consider joining us tonight.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Joyce, Thanks for your comments. Late last night, I did conclude that the presentation was definitely worth it, even if the LVP had a hand in financing it. I will attend one of your meetings, but tonight I'm watching county council. I will update my post to reflect your comments. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I am your 9:30 ANON from last evening. You told me to email you anonmously. I don't know how to do this. What do I do to set up this bogus email, so that we can talk?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:31, Go to yahoo, hotmai or google, and set up an email account with a name that preserves your ID. You might want to call yourself by a name that only you know. After you set it up, you can email the setails to me back channel at BOHare5948@aol.com. I have some questions. This way we can talk and I don't have to know who you are.

Anonymous said...

It's unusual for a group of folks to pitch an entirely new mode of transportation because of one congested road. If Route 22 wasn't a problem, would anyone care about light rail?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:48, I completely agree. Route 22 is a problem, and I don't believe widening that road will do anything except invite even more traffic.

Billy Givens said...

Bernie,

Re your Jan. 17, 2007, posting, "Lehigh Valley Rail Summit: Grassroots or Astroturf?":

On the night of the day of your posting, my wife Kathy and I and a College Hill friend and neighbor attended the "public hearing" on Easton's transportation intermodal/Riverwalk project.

At least one objection from the public was that the intermodal included no plan or provision for rail.

Twenty years ago, when my family and I still lived in Blairstown, New Jersey, before moving to Easton, I as a founding member of the Paulinskill Valley Trail Committee represented it at the national Rails-to-Trails convention held in Aurora, Illinois, on the prairie just west of Chicago.

Rails-to-Trails began in President Ronald Reagan's administration as a natinal "greenway" project, and its first head was Lamar Alexander, a former Republican governor of Tennessee and later a Presidential candidate.

A main objective of Rails-to-Trails was to "bank" or preserve railbeds, especially abandoned ones. for possible future rail transportation.

That was one the main reasons the Paulinskill Valley Trail was created: to prevsrve by keeping in the public domain the defunct former New York, Susquehanna, and Western (NYS&W)spanning all of Warren County from the Delaware River to Newton, the county seat of neighboring Sussex County, and beyond, to where the headwaters of the Paulinskill River watershed.

As Easton and Bethlehem and perhaps other municipalities continue to acquire dormant railbeds - in the case of Easton for the Bushkill Village project in the Bushkill Creek Corridor between N. 13th Street and Larry Holmes Drive and, in the case of Bethlehem, the railbed adjacent to BethWorks from the Norfolk and Southern Railroad, provisions for future possible rail transporation must me negotiated before the development of Riverwalk and BethWorks proceed.

By the way, the electtic power utility easement that divided Wilson Borough from Palmer Township on South 25th Street between Butler STreet-William Penn Highway and Freemansburg Road but got gobbled up by the Palmer Towne Center, one of the three "piggies" identified in your Webpage "Our Common Bond," was originally a trolley car line.

Anonymous said...

Without forcing drivers to give up their automobiles, there will never be more than a casual interest, by those who control the funds, in light rail.

Environmentalists and downtown junkies are ignorant of the costs and the limited benefit. They don't want to ever hear about the nuts and bolts realities.

Anonymous said...

Rails-to-Trails has preserved thousands of miles of railbeds as "greenways" for potential future rail transportation, again a policy of the Reagan administration as administered by the program's first top administrator, former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander, alos a Republican.

This movement contrary to its nay-sayers is still alive and well and more grass-roots than ever. Drive from Easton to Newark Airport any night during the work-week and witness the uninterrupted stream of authomobile headlights in the west-bound lanes of I-78.

Or try getting from Easton to Newark Airport during the morning rush hour when I-78 is clogged with Pennsylvania commuters traveling to their jobs in northern New Jersey and even New York City.

If national leaders like President Ronald Reagan and Governor Alexander , himself a Presidential candidate himself (maybe even against Candidate Reagan, I'm confident we can enlist our current crop of "Lehigh Valley" representatives like U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey Jr. as well as Congressman Charlie Dent in this debate.

In fact, it was 15th Congressional District representative Don Ritter, another Republican, who co-sponsored the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor Act of 1988 that has led to the creation of a crown jewel of the national greenway system - despite the efforts of developers and officials like Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and Easton Mayor Philip Mitman to hijack the Act for a Las Vegas Sands Casino and and Riverport and Riverwalk and Bushkill Village accommodating Lafayette College, respectively.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 5:18, I'm a little astonished that this movement has such support from the right. I believe I was wrong to have been so critical of the diverse support for passenger rail, especially after hearing what Joyce Marin had to say. It's ridiculous when you think about it. It seems like I've conditioned myself to support only that which must fail, and immediately dismiss an idea if it supported by more conservative elements or big business. I appreciate your interest in this and apologize for some of my earlier remarks. Take care.

Billy Givens said...

Bernie,

It's a small world indeed. Today's edition of The Express-Times, NJ edition, carries an article by reporter Dan Hausmann titled "Northern route steaming ahead" that I'm sure you've seen.

Away back on June 19, 2006, I posted my blog, http://www.billybytes.com/blog/, with a piece titled "All Aboard for NJ's Railroad and Transportation Museum, Departing from the NJ Legislature in Trenton, Destination Phillipsburg, NJ."

I wrote in my post that "The battle that eventually ended the [Tock's Island] dam project involved legendary Hackettstown environmentalist Casey Kays and U.S. [Supreme Court] Associate judge William O. Douglas, also an avid environmentalist and outdoorsman, and Sunfish Pond in Warren County."

When the dam project failed, I wrote, "the City of Newark, which had bought the defunct New York, Susquehanna, and Western (NYS&W) Railroad when the dam was still a viable issue, decided to sell the [rail] bed [now the Paulinskill Valley Trail."

"Newark," my post continues, "had bought the property for a water transmission pipe line between the dam and the city's watershed properties located in Sussex and Passaic counties."

On December 27, 2006, seven months after my post, I received a comment from a Casey Kays niece who lives in Belvidere.

Her comment began, "Hello....thank you for posting this important information....I am so proud of my uncle....whose passion for the envirnoment saved this wonderful area."

"When I moved to Easton," my post continues, "and the New Jersey courts had not yet awarded the Newark-owned railbed to the state's park system, I would ride one of my young daughter's bicycle to the law offices of New Jersey's senior State Senator Wayne Dumont located on Phillipsburg's S. Main Street.

"I would park the bike and stand on the sidewalk outside his office with signs protesting his opposition to the Paulinskill Valley Trail.

"He would emerge from the shadows of his office, livid, onto he stoop of his building, to bury me," I wrote, "standing resolutely on the sidewalk below, in an avalance of abusive language.

"Not long afterward," my post concluded, "Dumont was admitted to a retirment and nursing home, located on Route 24 outside Hackettstown, leading over Schooley's Mountain to Long Valley, where he soon died."

Meanwhile, the prospect for restored rail service between Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey and New York City lives on.

This is the route that John I. Blair, in honor of whom Blairstown, New Jersey, is named, took from Footbridge Park on the Paulinskill River to Delaware Village on the Delaware River 11 miles west.

There he boarded the larger, faster Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western (DL&W) to his offices in Wall Street.

This route was later shortened by the DL&W cutoff referred to in Hausmann's article, crossing the Lehigh and New England (L&NE) and NYS&W rails at Hainesburg, New Jersey, and the NYS&W again at Blairstown's Footbridge Park.

bgivens said...

John I. Blair, who was born in Hope, New Jersey, but while still a boy moved with his family to Blairstown, donated to Lafayette College the President's house at the top of College Drive at the intersection of McCartney Street.

At the bottom of College Drive, where it intersects with N. 3rd Street and Bushkill Drive, Easton Mayor Philip A. Mitman arrogated to himself the authority of Pennsylvania's Department of Transporation.

On behalf of Lafayette College, and using Easton and Northampton County tax dollars and Lafayette College architectural and fine arts students made alterations to the 200 block of N. 3rd, also State Route 115, that made the block between College Drive and Snyder Street even more dangerous.

bgivens said...

On December 27, 2006, I received an email from the niece of Casey Kays, addressed to the "Editor@billybytes.com: "I am writing on behald of my grandmother, now 86 years old," a New Jersey resident who, according to the niece, is being held against her will in a Pennsylvania assisted-living facility.

Besides the postings on my blog, http://www.billybytes.com/blog/, about Casey Kays and his accomplihsments in preserving open space including railroad right-of-ways, his niece obviously has read my e-mail postings about 81-year-old former Plainfield Township, Pennsylvania resident Anna Mae Kessler, who the Billy Bytes publications alleges is being held unjustly in an assisted-living facility in Bushkill Township, Pennsylvania - the same state in which Casey's sister is being held though she is a native of New Jersey.

I have taken up the niece's crusade not only out of respect for her uncle's significant contributions in preserving open space; but I am also interested because Anna Mae Kessler's ordeal involves two polical jurisdictions - Pennsylvania and New Jersey - and the two contiguous counties in those two states, Northampton and Warren, respectively.

Indeed, the Anna Mae Kessler case, which I had already first brought to your attention in Februaruy 2006, prompted you, Bernie, to ask: "Who guards the guardians?" of the defenseless and innocent being held against their will in Pennsylvnia prisons euphemistically called "assisted-living facilities" by their builders, owners, and operators like Allentown-Whitehall Township real estate developer-speculator Abraham Atiyeh - about whom you have written in your Webpage "Our Common Bond."

bgivens said...

I consider it appropriate, and a privilege, to announce on your blog, and under the posting, "Lehigh Valley Rail Summit: Grassroots or Astroturf," my candidacy as the Republican Party nominee in this year's mayoral contest to succeed Easton Mayor Philip A. Mitman.

Indeed, I credit the publication of my comment on your rail transit blog, criticizing his arrogation of powers exercised ligitimately only by Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation and the Commonwealth's Governor and legislature as one of the major issues leading to Mayor Mitman's not to seek re-election.

That and issues such as his catering to Easton's elitist young professionals, or yuppies and developers of luxury condomiums that are glutting Easton's real-estate market, at the expense of the city's older tax- and fee-strapped citizens who increasingly are being forced from their homes.

Billy Givens said...

Easton, Pennsylvania, Mayor Philip A. Mitman has repeated his wise decision of 1983 when he decided not to seek re-election to his one term as the city's chief executive.

As his second term draws to a close, the finances of Easton, a "fiscally distressed city," are as bleak now, and are still into an indetetminate future, as when he first left office after one term as mayor.

Billy Givens said...

As proof that I am not rabidly partisan, I credit myself with the wise decision by Easton City Council Chairmwoman Sandy "Ms. Cabbage Patch Doll" Vulcano not to seek the Democratic Party nomination to succeed Phil Mitman as mayor.

Sandy is also co-chair of the Easton Democratic Party Committee, whose chairman is James Edinger.

Edinger is also chair of the Easton Zoning Hearing Board that "grants" vaivers and special exceptions from the city's zoning ordinances as a political favor to developers like Abraham Atiyeh, Lou Pektor, Theordore Kheel, Peter Koehler, Richard Thulin, Lafayette College, and the college's alumni like Jonathan Davis, the developer and real estate partner of Greg Schuyler

Billy Givens said...

As evidence that I'm not picking on Lafayette College alumni like Jonathan Davis, another Lafayette alumnus is John Halecky, the New Jersey developer and real-estate businessperson who leased the Cinema Paradiso Theater building at 175 S. 3rd St., the site of Lou "Hannibal Lecter" Pektor's proposed luxury condo project dubbed the Majestic.

The Easton Historical Commission's certificate of Approriateness (COA) for the Atiyeh-Halecky-Pektor "Majestic" project violates the contract between Atiyeh and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

The GSA negotatiated the contract under which Atiyeh built the new Social Secuity building on S. 4th St. for lease to the Social Security Administration.

Atiyeh, his paid consultant Easton Area School District Director Pat Vulcano Jr., Mitman, Koehler-Kheel Realty, Schy-Rhys Realty, and Northampton Court of Common Pleas Judge Emil Giordana were engineered this scam.