Because I'm a moron who was busy paying my phone bill, I was unable to attend Mike's official announcement. But he sent me his statement, in which he unabashedly declares, "I am a progressive. I firmly believe that the role of government should be to expand dreams, not create nightmares." He then details a pragmatic, nuts and bolts, approach to Allentown's problems. But I have a few questions.
Allentown's Crime Problem
"The biggest challenge still facing our city is crime. And let me be crystal clear here: We need more police. As an Allentown City Councilman, I will make it my mission to hire additional officers to aid in the fight against crime. I will work to ensure that our city’s fine policemen and women are given the best in technology and the most effective training. I also fully support the new Community Policing plan as an innovative way of increasing police presence. How many of us have had someone say that they are afraid of Allentown: they are afraid of shopping on 7th street, of exploring the arts on 5th or 19th or of walking down Hamilton Street or Union Boulevard? No one should be afraid of buying a home in West Park or Midway Manor. No one should fear walking in Center City or the South Side. I know we must fight this false perception, and I know that the best way to do this is to put more officers on the streets."
Mike, if this is just a "false perception," why does Allentown need more police? Either there is a crime problem or there is not. You don't hire police to fight ghosts.
"I would be remiss if I didn’t mention city finances in light of these tough economic times. First, let me pledge that I will do everything in my power to avoid tax increases. City residents and businesses are already overtaxed, and I fully understand the stifling effect that further tax hikes will have on our community. In order to avoid this, Allentown must be more careful with its resources than ever before. I believe we can save money in a variety of ways, including working with other governments on joint purchasing agreements, expanding our grant seeking efforts and controlling energy costs. But, more than anything else, Allentown City Council must understand that we are not spending our money; we are spending the money of our fellow residents."
According to an analysis by Morning Call reporter Jarrett Renshaw, $8.1 million of the city's $14 million surplus is actually borrowed money that must be paid back. And Allentown's residents will be paying interest, too. Fiscally responsible? Just a tad deceptive?
"We must also strive to continue to attract and retain business. Allentown has recruited over $400 million in new development in the past three years, including Coca Cola Park, the Butz building, and the beautiful Allentown Brew Works in which we are standing. We must continue to bring in more businesses, and if I am elected to City Council I will continue to use every available resource in the recruitment of similar projects. That being said, the city should do more to help the already existing small businesses that make up the core of our community. We need to provide them with information on marketing and promotional tools, how to properly utilize technology and what grant and loan programs are available to them. This will help these businesses to continue to succeed and thrive during these tough times."
Mike, if a business like the House of Chen, which has operated in Allentown for thirty years, calls with a problem about bus routing changes that damage their business, don't you think city officials owe this existing small business the courtesy of a return call? Would you agree that Mayor Pawlowski really dropped the ball here? His failure to respond killed a number of Hamilton Street businesses.
"We must also continue to develop our community and provide a more open government. We need to work closely with our crime watch groups that provide invaluable information and stability to the city. If possible, I would like to see the city hire staff that worked exclusively with these groups to help them grow and prosper. We must also work to enhance our website and internet communications in order to better inform Allentown residents. We also can and should make City Council meetings available over the internet, bringing access to government into every living room in the city."
Allentown is the only LV community whose Internet communications have gone backwards. How hard is this? Doesn't this reflect a disdain for the common man, the one who can't afford to make $1,000 donations to the Pawlowski campaign?
You can read biographical information about Mike here. I hope to be able to sit down and get answers to some of these questions, as well as Mike's views on Allentown's systematic (and mandatory) inspections of low-income home owners.
Four seats are up in this year's city council election. Since three incumbents will probably seek reelection and win, this race may very well be for the one open position that has resulted from Tony Phillips' decision to run for mayor. Retired Allentown School District Administrator Ray O'Connell is also reported to have announced his candidacy yesterday. Veteran Lou Hershman, who spent 24 years as Controller and another 8 years on City Council, may also be interested in making a comeback. He's been spotted jogging the streets of Allentown at 5 AM every morning.