Friday, February 22, 2008

Honest Abe Atiyeh: Protector of Homeless, Politicians, Prisoners (and His Pocket)

Abraham Atiyeh, referred to by Bill White as Allentown's Rajah of Rezoning, is one busy dude. Aside from his gig at Brookside Construction and Easton Ventures, he's worked hard on nursing homes, developments, Easton's Cinema Paradiso and a failed scheme to redevelop Nazareth's racetrack. He even persuaded Bethlehem planners to let him subdivide a cemetery for yet another assisted living facility! Residents there can select a burial plot from their window.


But there's a soft and tender side to Abe. For one thing, he just loves politicians, especially incumbents. I think he even keeps a few of them as pets.

Amount of money that developer Abe Atiyeh has given to candidates seeking state office since 2000: $260,000.

Amount of money to federal candidates, according to FEC records: $20,000.

Amount of money for local candidates: God only knows. Those records are unavailable online.

His nice list: Lisa Boscola ($8,250), Jenn Mann ($7,200) and Doug Reichley ($6,500).

His very nice list: John Morganelli, recipient of a whopping $51,000. Morganelli protege, Paula Roscioli, received another $16,300.

The other day, he dropped $5,000 on a homeless shelter, making a big production out of it. With big cardboard checks and wearing a wooden hat, too! To put things in perspective, Abe's 5 large is like a nickel from me. It's breadcrumbs to him.

Both The Morning Call and Express Times were all over his philanthropy like ham on rye. According to what he must have told The Express Times, he had no development projects pending in Bethlehem Township.

That must been have been one of those little white lies. According to today's Express Times, Honest Abe is preparing sketch plans for a 300 inmate prison rehab in Bethlehem Township along Fritch Drive. He loves the idea of treating nonviolent offenders instead of punishing them. And he'll really love those monthly checks from the county.

Am I attacking Atiyeh for giving money to the homeless? That's right bippy. He could easily afford to foot Bethlehem Township's entire bill. Then he'd be setting an example to other developers. This was just a PR stunt by a developer who thinks nothing of trying to litter MLK Boulevard with billboards, right next to a creek and parkway. Do you honestly think he really gives a damn about nonviolent offenders?

No, what he's doing is making Bethlehem Township supervisors feel guilty about their own refusal to fund the homeless so that he can get what he wants.

41 comments:

Bill said...

I hope that this raises some public scrutiny. You have raised a number of important concerns.

It has been said that in the US we have the best Democracy that money can buy, but that only holds true as long as the people allow it.

Lorax said...

I really wish you would publish these thoughts in the Morning Call. Abe is trying to use smoke and mirrors to look like a kind and generous man. Who parades his children in front of the media with cardboard checks as though that is a lesson in charity? One aspect of charity is humility. Someone once said "New money shouts, old money whispers". This seems to apply here.

Abe's projects are always to only benefit himself or part of a strategy to get something he wants. He has a consistent pattern of buying properties and thinking he can bully or manipulate his way into whatever zoning he wants.

Just for the record, it takes highly trained people to work with criminal offenders. Just because someone is not violent doesn't mean that they don't need serious therapeutic interventions. Over generalizations about non-violent offenders are dangerous and inaccurate.

Tom Foolery said...

If someone runs into a burning building and saves three kids because he wants to on TV. I say right on..That was an analogy by the way..Who cares what his motives are. he gave out $5000.00
to shelters..he didn't have to.What was LVR's donation. Have you made a pitch to readers to donate?? Thought so..

A.J. Cordi said...

Thanks for making me aware of this. I had no idea he was planning something in Bethlehem Twp.

At first, I only thought it was odd that he was donating 5 separate $1,000 checks - now I understand it better...

5 separate checks equals 5x the publicity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tom,
I have written about the homeless several times but have never told people they should contribute. I can assure you that if I had the means to do so, it would not be an ostentatious demonstration. And Atiyeh's obvious motivation is to embarrass township officials so he can get his way.

It was a PR stunt and a little more. If you think he gives a shit about either the homeless or NC's prison recidivism, I believe you're in for a rude awakening.

The county will deal with him bc it has no choice.

Chris said...

Bernie
Check the sewer situation here. The township has no capacity thus you cannot hook up to public sewer, though OPUS is putting the lines in, unless you get the city of Bethlehem's permission. Abe may not be building there. As to his donation, well I am glad he did it but there are biblical instrutions to the affect that it should not be done in an ostentatious manner.

mystic reardon said...

His attempt to make Twp feel guilty did not work with anyone that I am aware of. Government should not use the coercive power to confisicate property (taxes)to decide for you which charity to give to. And now I understand County Council wants to discuss "should municipalities use taxpayer funds to support non-profit organizations?" I think Mr. AA made the County, with whom he wants to build his treatment center for, feel guilty rather than Twp.

And yes, as "Chris" said, the Bible (Matthew 6:1-2) does say, "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mystic reardon,

Althogh I did not mention it, you're right. It's not in my blog or either of the two news accounts, but Cusick last night asked that the HS committee look into the homeless question.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Abe is in with Stoffa, as the County didn't even notify the Twsp. what they had planned. I guess the new policy according to Cusick and Stoffa is to use their coercive power to confisicate property and let them know about it after the fact. Watta county.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Stoffa has never taken a dime from that guy. He doesn't play that game. And he would not appropach the township until discussing it with his own council first. Someone leaked the information.

Tom Foolery said...

How do you get your way by embarrassing officials? Makes no sense, sorry..

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tom Foolery,

That's my theory. I've seen it work. But you could be right, and those cardboard checks and wooden hat are probably the way he does thins all the time, too.

Tom Foolery said...

I detected a tad of sarcasm in your response...Hey if he's willing to give me $5000. I'll take a couple of homeless people to Cancun for the weekend..It would do them good..

mystic rearden said...

I was not at the meeting last night but did hear how they broached the use of municipal funds for non-profits. But that story "should" die out, unless people have ulterior motives to keep pursuing it.

However, what amazes me more is how Cusick is quoted in the Morning Call as "This (inmate center) is something that we need and we need to get that across to whoever the municipal official is that is sitting across from this, trying to block it....We got more lawyers, we got more money. We could make it very difficult if a municipality wants to play tough." What kind of cooperative spirit is that? From what is reported in the papers, the Township has yet to even be notified by the County. How does Cusick even know if the Township would be for or against such a proposal, when it has not even been approached? Perhaps the comments were taken out of context, but they were very arrogant if they were not. Usually one gets further trying dialog first, instead of the first words being "we got more lawyers, we got more money" and by the way, this is what we want you to do for us.

If this were a County project, would it not need to be bid as a public project? And if it doesn't because they are "merely" hiring the "professional services" Mr. AA wants to lease to them, then how can the County be so involved in the planning? also, could they save the tax payers more money shopping around rather than entering into partnership with Mr. AA before any dollar amounts are even known??

Anonymous said...

Someone in the Stoffa camp has an in with Atiyeh. Bernies rabid defense aside there is no doubt the $5K is to grease the wheels for his mega-buck prison in Bethelhem Twp.
The County sure has shown its contempt for local municipalities and people with its we have more $$ attitude. Stoffa and Company will do what they want and the lapdog press will wag their tails.
Hopefully Twp Officials let their Supervisors know how they feel. Their County Council Rep should also be aware of this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Someone in the Stoffa camp has an in with Atiyeh.

Completely untrue. In fact, quite the opposite. Atiyeh has regualrly been contributing to Stoffa's opponents on council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

what amazes me more is how Cusick is quoted in the Morning Call as "This (inmate center) is something that we need and we need to get that across to whoever the municipal official is that is sitting across from this, trying to block it....We got more lawyers, we got more money. We could make it very difficult if a municipality wants to play tough." What kind of cooperative spirit is that?

I agree with you completely. I'm disgusted that Cusick, who is usually more reserved, would make such a ridiculous statement. It is the height of arrogance and is NOT the way Stoffa would want to proceed. Also, the side with the most lawyers and $ does not always get its way.

Bernie O'Hare said...

From what is reported in the papers, the Township has yet to even be notified by the County. How does Cusick even know if the Township would be for or against such a proposal, when it has not even been approached? Perhaps the comments were taken out of context, but they were very arrogant if they were not.

From what I've been able to learn, Stoffa would certainly make overtures to the township, but his first obligation is to the couty and its representatives on council. Protocol would require that he discuss this individually with council members and then in an executive session (legal bc it involves the purchase or lease of realty) before making overtures to the township. If council opposed the idea, there would be no point.

From what I've been able to piece together, someone on council tipped off the MC before the council or the township was adviced.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If this were a County project, would it not need to be bid as a public project?

The decison to buy or lease real estate is not done by bidding. How the hell could any municipality get any real estate that way? BUT, any agreement MUST be approved by county council. Any public improvements to the property must be bid.

Anonymous said...

BO we love you but you are a piece of work. When his term is over I believe you will be in the bunker with The Mighty Stoffanator, pills in hand.

mystic rearden said...

"....BUT, any agreement MUST be approved by county council. Any public improvements to the property must be bid."

Obviously the purchase of real estate does not need bid. My question is more of the construction of the facility. The way the press reports it, Mr. AA is going to be building the facility, and then leasing it to the County. While everything may be up and up, it does create a perception that draw the ethics into question.

The facility is likely needed. I don't argue that, and quite honestly, the site might be a good fit. Its away from residential, but centrally located and easily accessible. But if it is a "private" facility being developed and built, then why is the county part of the planning. If it a "county" project that needs bid out, then theoretically Mr. AA may not be the lowest responsible bidder for the construction. Do you see the contradiction? However, it is presented as a foregone conclusion that AA is going to develop it, but the County is in the driver seat. Mr. AA IS smart, and is keeping it private, so it stays on the tax rolls according to press accounts. Might keep Twp happy. But in the long run, is the County tax payer getting the most bang for the buck since there is no competitive bidding? or maybe there is and the press hasn't reported it yet.

Anonymous said...

Cusick's grammatically abhorrent statements exemplify the smug contempt of many who get a power trip high while sucking salaries from the public nipple.

We get what we deserve. Apparently, we deserve to subsidize the arrogant politician that is John "We Got More Lawyers (sic)" Cusick. God help us if we don't eventually wake up to the dangers of his ilk.

I hope someone slips on his property and he's tormented for years by the area's best slip and fall ambulance chasers. Karma can be a bummer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's never nice to wish for evil things to happen to another person, akthough I understand you're being facetious.

The statement quoted from Cusick is uncharacteristic of what he souns like at council, but he does own his words.

Anonymous said...

"The statement quoted from Cusick is uncharacteristic of what he souns like at council, but he does own his words."

I'm not surprised at his behavior. He was a township supervisor in Williams Township when Chrin was hold closed door meetings with the supervisors over landfill expansion. John has largely escaped any real criticism since he came onto council. He was not imune from such when he was a township supervisor. At one point there was a petition circulating the township effectively asking him and the other supervisors to step down b/c of their behavior.

Anonymous said...

Every once in a while you get a true glimpse of someone. I believe we've finally gotten our glimpse of Cusick.

I'll know I'm wrong when he owns his outrageous statements and apologizes to those he serves. I'll not hold my breath, however.

Anonymous said...

THis is my theory.
J.Stoffa has said the County will stand up for this in our Twp.I believe his quote was similar. I believe Cusick and Dowd and some on Council have avoided scrutiny because they are allies of Stoffa and as such they get a pass. His words are symbolic of the person but don't hold your breath for a witty colummn from one of our estemed msm boys to be written about it.
Now if it were Dertinger or McClure - Deegan, Owens or White would be all over it.
It is the reign of hypocracy. in Northampton County.

Anonymous said...

BOH said "From what I've been able to piece together, someone on council tipped off the MC before the council or the township was adviced."
So, then it's alright when Stoffa tips you off with his dirty work, but, when someone else tips off the MSM other than you or Stoffa, that's not right.
It seems we have a unilateral position on information coming from this blog, and it leads one to believe, if it ain't your lead, it's no good. It's almost like your saying that if you don't play my way, I'll take my bat (Blue Bomber) and go home.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:32,
Wow!

Your assumption about where I get my information is inaccurate. It's what I've been able to piece together from a few discussions with some county insiders. Sotffa has not discussed this deal with me and has not told me anything about who tipped off the MC.

Anonymous said...

John Stoffa is totally ineffectual. He is going to go all in with this Beth. Twp. plan and fail miserably because he has no juice. Once the Beth. Twp. Republicans get to Dowd and Cusick there will be no room for Stoffa to manuever. Berne, please repost the smear piece Stoffa had you publish about Mr. Atiyeh when he was trying to kill the W. Easton idea.

Bill said...

Bernie -

I think you have done a real public service by putting this blog together. While there are many disturbing aspects of the piece, what resonates with me the most is:

"Amount of money that developer Abe Atiyeh has given to candidates seeking state office since 2000: $260,000.

Amount of money to federal candidates, according to FEC records: $20,000.

Amount of money for local candidates: God only knows. Those records are unavailable online."

These are big numbers, and individuals do not "donate" this kind of money just because they care. I wonder if other officers in his various companies also "donate" similar numbers.

In all seriousness - where are the newspapers? What legislation of interest to Mr Atiyeh has been considered by our elected public servants, and how do they end up voting?

It appears to be that he is attempting to purchase influence, what are the facts?

One would think that local newspapers like the Morning Call would be involved in investigative journalism. Without a functional press, how do citizens make decisions on for whom to vote?

I commend you for providing this kind of information, but it is a sad day when one has to turn to Blogs to get info that the Press has a responsibility to report on.

Perhaps, eventually they will, we can only hope!

Anonymous said...

since when is it illegal to contribute to something you believe in? Be it a political office or a homeless shelter. If some one wants to cry and Bi*ch about someone elses donation, let them put their money were there mouth is.

Bill said...

Oh, Mr (or Ms) Anonymous -

I contribute time, energy and a modest amount of money to assist the homeless.

For the record, I also donate a small amount of money to politicians.

I think that being concerned about the kind of influence that Abe "buys" with the $280,000 plus dollars in donations he makes to our elected leaders. Perhaps you don't think this is a real issue, or perhaps you are Abe in disguise.

Bill

Anonymous said...

Guys who are already in office are always comfortable limiting challengers' campaign cash on the unbalanced playing field incumbents have created.

The money side of politics is almost as unseemly as the arrogance of incumbent power. Almost.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill, I didn't mean you, I am wondering why Bernie O is complaining about it. Thank you

Anonymous said...

perhaps many of you are just jealous that Abe has the money to do what he does. Bill says I may be Abe in disguise? well I will tell you. I have $216 dollars in my bank account.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:12,

All the info about Atiyeh from that earlier piece is repeated here. And that piece, like this one, is factually accurate.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa has backed away from like five different sites for this rehab thing. He's got to make a tough decision on the prison overcrowding soon. So does council. That's what leadership is. He can't run out the clock on this problem and hand it off to the next exec (Mchale). The real question is what is Abe A. doing as a middle man in this? He run nursing homes, not drug rehabs.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Five different sites? Wow, where are you getting your information? I am unaware of how many places Stoffa has looked over, but here is his problem - no municipality wants a prison. You can call it whatever you want, but at the end of the day, it's still a prison.

But I'll agree on one point - the insertion of Abe Atiyeh in this mess bothers me very much. I also have a proposal, and I'll mention that tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Annon 10:59


Don't annoint McHale just yet. She thinks all she has to do is put her name on the ballot. There are still others out there planning on running who have already won in the County. She never ran countywide.
Whatever, I tink Soffa is going to run again anyway and she won't oppose him. Some might, but she won't. Unless he backs out for her due to the Healthcare deal.

Anonymous said...

Well the only way he can give so much away is because he stiffs his contract people $50,000-$100,000.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who's lived in the Lehigh Valley long enough knows the name Atiyeh. Look who cares about the homeless and the elderly. Look who. It makes me so angry that people can be so blind and let a guy like this hustle them into submission.
ATIYEH!! It's trouble. Always.
Do your homework. Get some background checks. Talk to people from ALL backgrounds who know them.
Guaranteed, people will talk.
Let's keep OUR Lehigh Valley clean by keeping the name Atiyeh out.