Thursday, August 07, 2008

Mayor Ed's Police Plan? Loaded With Bullshit Burgers

As some of you know, I live in Nazareth, a place Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski - King of Renaissance Square - has disparagingly called "the boonies of Northampton County."

Hizzoner made that snide remark to Morning Call columnist and blogger Bill White, who himself lives in the boonies, to deflect criticisms I've made of his Allentown reign. It's a charming tactic that King Ed and his cronies use regularly.

Actually, those of us who live in the boonies of Nazareth really do care about Allentown. Most of us have family and loved ones who live and work there. What happens there affects us. We also decide whether we want to shop or do business there.

So when Pam Varkony asked readers to attend the grand unveiling of King Ed's latest new policing plan, I went. Walking from Linden Street to city hall, a pleasant summer evening was interrupted by the cacophony of shouts and yells from the prison, eerie noises that serve as a constant reminder of Allentown's very real crime problem. How anyone can visit city hall on a regular basis and not be struck by that, is a puzzle to me.

I was late, thinking the meeting started at 7 PM. After listening for a few minutes, I was very glad to have been tardy. Experts were pontificating with psychobabble about "trusting relationships," focus sessions," "problem-solving strategies" and "implementation challenges." Amazingly, one of them actually stated crime is really beyond the control of a police department. Mayor Pawlowski was asked one, very brief, question by Council Prez D'Amore, and off he went! He spent at least ten minutes, inconsistently claiming "We've accomplished a lot" and "We have to do a restructuring." Rarely have I ever seen a person take so much time to say so little. No one asked him to clarify. That might take another twenty minutes.

Council decided to squeeze in a pesky zoning matter for a few minutes, so I decided to take a walk up Hamilton Street. I bumped into two cops who were doing the very same thing. We made a trade. I translated what the suits were talking about, and they told me what they thought.

"We need more police," is what one cop quietly told me.

Four words.

When I made it back to city hall, the experts from Hanover Justice Group had finally run out of hot air. Now it was the politicians' turn. Uh oh. But Council members Eichenwald, Guridy and Donovan were impressive, asking thoughtful questions about (1) diversity on the force; (2) increasing the number of officers; (3) the merit of hiring part-time officers; and (4) how rank and file officers feel. Amazingly, the police plan does nothing to add diversity or the number of officers. Jeanette Eichenwald stated, "More of our officers need to look like our citizens do." The experts completely ducked the question about part-time officers, demonstrating some political acumen that defied their professorial style. The chief claimed he had no idea how rank and file officers feel, although he's heard no negative feedback.

In order to report the above paragraph, I sat through an hour of bullshit burgers. One of the experts, Dr Wasserman or Watson or something, condescendingly told council members he visits Scotland Yard once every month. They repeated a lot of psychobabble, but failed to answer a single objection. Every now and then, Pawlowski would pipe in with a "We're getting better" or "We've accomplished a lot" or "As you know, police cost money." But he didn't stop at those pithy phrases. He'd go on and on and on and on and on and .... get the picture?

When it was council member Schweyer's turn to question the experts, he read a carefully prepared, but boring, speech. He started serving up softballs, and I decided it was time to leave. Ninety minutes of bullshit burgers is enough. I feel bad for the hundred or so residents patiently waiting for their turn to speak. I wonder how many survived. Channel 69 eventually began pulling them out into the halls to get their opinions, both in English and Spanish, which was very cool.

What were they saying?

"We need more police."

Four words. No bullshit.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

The more things change to more they stay the same. Our real problem continues to be who is running the city.


Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Eichenwald's tired claptrap that police "need to look like our citizens do" diverts our energies away from fighting crime and wastes them on this diversity silliness.

just how do our citizens actually look? is she implying she wants a police force that is unkempt, drug-addled, loitering?

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of assholes! What do you people do, gather everyday on these blogs and denounce anyone who disagrees with you?! You make my Hometwon sound like its surviving an apocalypse! Try walking around Oakland or take a stroll down to L.A. and visit Carson, now those neighborhoods have problems. They are a hell of a lot bigger than Allentown. I can walk Allentown when I visit home, I can't do that here. You don't realize how lucky you are.
CA Beach Bum

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I was more unlucky than you (if that was possible). I arrived at 6 and listened to Mayor Ed praise this $200,000 twosome for 30 minutes. Then they began their powerpoint bull do presentation. I felt like I was back in college. When these guys were done Mayor Ed again took over and spread more bull**** for about 20 minutes.
Maybe Mayor Ed's problem was that he just returned from Chicago and was once again a carpetbagger in good old Allentown.
Seems to me to make Allentown safe, we have to, some way, get rid of the trash coming from New York. But then again, what do I know?

Bernie O'Hare said...

just how do our citizens actually look? is she implying she wants a police force that is unkempt, drug-addled, loitering?

No, what Eichenwald is suggesting is that the people on the police force should be more representative of the community they serve. In fact, 80% of the department lives outside the city.

It's a good point.

Anonymous said...

"trusted relationshlips"....."implementationchallenges".

sounds to me like the wonkspeak meanderings by a councilman who is also editor of the often-inspiring blog INCLUSION.

you are correct, bernie, in that if you cannot define a problem in simple declarative sentences, then you have about zero chance of solving it.

that is what you were implying, wasn't it bernie?

Anonymous said...

Hey I forgot to mention that Mayor Ed's picture was in the MC twice this morning. Is he running for Mayor and the MC is his publicist? Just curious

white castle said...

Bernie, I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with some of your comments. There is no doubt that Allentown needs more police, and no one is arguing against that. But this is a matter of trying to use the currently existing resources in the most efficient way possible. I also disagree that Schweyer asked softball questions...to me, it seemed like him and Donovan were the only ones who actually READ the report. The questions you mentioned by Julio and Jeanette were valid ones, absolutely, but I felt like they didn't really pertain to the line of questioning.

As to Anon 7:29 - are you serious? Do you really think that Allentown citizens look like unkempt, drug-addled, loitering miscreants? The OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Allentown residents want nothing more than to live in peace.

anyway, my basic point is that no one denies that the city needs more police - but strategies like this have worked in the past, and at least Pawlowski and Council is trying something. if it doesn't work, it doesn't work - but anything is better than staying the course at this point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, that is what I was implying. "We need more police." Four words say it all. Neither the Mayor nor the Scotland Yard afficiando gets that.

10:13 AM

Bernie O'Hare said...

White Castle,

Disagreement is fine. Hizzoner is doing all he can to avoid recognizing what cops already know - "We need more police."

Incidentally, that's something Pawlowski promised when he was running for the job. He claimed to have knowledge of all kinds of grants that would do the trick. Instead, as he knew before he got the job, the force dropped to its lowest level in decades.

If he can't keep his promise, A-town should not keep him.

Anonymous said...

white castle...that is EXACTLY what i was implying!!

and if you doubt me i challenge you to drive down the 7th street corridor from the LV dairy to 7th and Hamilton, noting carefully the tone of the neighborhood.

then go through to union street west to 12th and drive down hamilton mall all the way....then take the bridge and proceed on hanover ave unitl you at least hit irving street.

finally come back to the west end of allentown and drive by allen high at approx 3pm during the school year.

and then come back to this forum and give us an accurate description of what you saw.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

Ed will filibuster any meeting with either PowerPoint or by repeating the same thing over and over. He does this to avoid having to interact with people and answer real questions.

True to his college-professor stereotype, Donovan always prattles on with long-winded statements and questions. He wants to appear thoughtful and fair but will ultimately vote for whatever the Mayor proposes.

To those who are supportive of this plan, please recognize that it is only a diversion to give the appearance that something is being done.

We are nearly seven years into Ed's association with Allentown and we are getting another crime-fighting plan that ignores the obvious - we need more police.

They could have saved the $200,000 on the study and put a couple more police officers on the streets.

Bernie O'Hare said...

To be fair, Donovan kept his time short.

To be fair, there are aspects of the police plan I like. I like breaking the city into 4 quadrants.

But there are parts of the plan I find detrimental - the experts want the police to ignore calls from people who are "troubling and troublesome" because it gives cops the werong imprssion about the city's residents. That's a recipe for disaster.

I was offended by the long-winded responses from the mayor and Scotland Yard. They often did not even address the questions being posed.

I couldn't take it and had to leave.

Anonymous said...

bernie, getting back to jeannette eichenwald....you were there and i will trust your judgement on this.

if you say her comments about police needing to "look like our citizens do" were referring to RESIDENCY, then i will accept that as i believe in that concept.

however, on reviewing her remarks again, they do seem to refer to ETHNICITY, which i do not believe in.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe she was referring to both.

Michael Donovan said...

Greetings:

Trust is a very basic feeling within humans that cannot be lost or the whole game is up.

And implementation may have two more syllables than "get it done,"

But I'll stand by my approach even if some feel it is "wonk speak."

Improvements in police force management/results happening elsewhere around the country are dependent on sound operational tactics and GREAT management/leadership control. We can choose to ignore what works elsewhere and languish forever.

Instead, I would like to try some new techniques.

But, then, because I am new to Allentown, when I offer a different approach to consider, some people call me a carpetbagger, too.

Best regards,

Michael Donovan

Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael,

Actually, I think it's "Git 'er done."

I like your approach. It's not my approach, but it's what works for you. I have no problem w/ trying some of the solutions tried elsewhere, but as you yourself demonstrated last night, the police plan is far from complete. It makes no provision for diversification. It adds no numbers. It does nothing to encourage cops to live here. Portions of it may actually be counterproductive.

Pawlowski ran on a platform of increasing the size of the police department. So did Eichenwald. You can juggle all sorts of things around and choose to ignore calls by the "troubled and troublesome". But until you add numbers, Allentown will continue to have a problem.

Sometimes the answer is very simple. Sometimes, you don't have to go to Scotland Yard.

We need more police.

Bill said...

Can I have some fries with that at least?

Bill Villa said...

Personal Attack Bullshit Burgers aside ... is anybody interested in why the APD's crime solve rate dropped 30+ percentage points, from 70% to 30-something %, from 2003 to 2004-- two years before the mass exodus of 54 experienced policemen from the force?

Anonymous said...

“To be fair, there are aspects of the police plan I like. I like breaking the city into 4 quadrants.”

Bernie, there is nothing new about this.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Whatever Pawlowski does with the police department will not change the basic dynamic of Allentown’s problem: the city, its departments, its boards and commissions are often run by inept and unqualified people.


Scott Armstrong

Bill Leiner Jr. said...

A few years ago the Borough of Coplay was divided into four equal quadrants by the Chief and Mayor to track the four areas relative safety. It was an improvement to better identify what the problems are in each quadrant. The four areas also serve as our POM recognition areas. It seems to me the city needs to have more than four defined areas, and increased decentralized policing. And, they need more police.

Kevin said...

So, I am a bit late on this particular item. I was out of town when this meeting was taking place. Mayor ed is selling a load of crap.

He has once again lied and bullshitted his way through a meeting and the Morning Call continues to support him.

Did anyone hear the tirade and lecture between he and councilman D'amore?

Ed said that the FOP is being unfair in contract negotiations, and don't want to meet with the city etc. Bullshit !

Ed and his $250.00 per hour Philadelphia lawyers have refused to meet with the FOP and work on any substantive issues.

Here's something fun to do ask Ed how much taxpayer money he has spent on negotiations so far?