In Bethlehem, people really do promenade throughout the streets at night. In Allentown, they lie about it. In the Christmas City, an independent council listens respectfully to the mayor and everyone else. In the Queen City, a group of bobbleheads tells King Edwin what he wants to hear while denying citizens the basic right to speak. Bethlehem honestly admits its problems while Allentown massages the truth as well as a high class hooker and dismisses every piece of constructive criticism as the product of naysayers. The net result? Bethlehem gets better; Allentown gets worse.
If you want to see a contrast between these two cities, look at how each handled its own budget crisis. Allentown's Finance Director, Larry Hilliard, said it was "too late" to make changes in Allentown's 2009 budget. During that same time frame, Bethlehem was making adjustments - almost $1 million worth.
Bethlehem made changes after its budget was made public and during the budget review process, proactively reacting to the "impending Tsunami" of change in the economy. Somehow Bethlehem knew it was coming and Allentown didn't? Bethlehem knew there would be decreased revenues from real estate, deed transfers and employee income taxes. Allentown's bobbleheads blindly ignored the warning signs.
Bethlehem's Council independently reviewed the budget, with two voting against it despite rolling back 14 promotions, three new hires and other cuts. It passed and no exposes are being penned about Bethlehem by the Morning Call or local bloggers. Bethlehem is struggling with the current economy, like everyone else, and it's an election year there, too.
The Casino opening will help. Ironically, it will help Allentown, too. But without half decent leaders, you might as well flush that money down the toilet.