On Friday, I told you that the Gracedale Goons invaded WFMZ's Business Matters last week and continually disrupted the show, kinda' like they do at County Council meetings. They're now blaming the producer for their bad behavior. But this post is about another show taped that day. It's airing tonight at 8 PM, and it is a MUST SEE for anyone who lives in the Lehigh Valley's three cities or its older boroughs.
The show was a look back at the UGI gas explosion that killed five people and wiped out a city block. A woman who lived in one of these homes was a panelist. So was Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and the LV United Way President Susan Gilmore.
United Way staffers packed the audience. A very well-dressed Susan Kennedy, who did those awful Tempo shows, was there, and she even brought her plastic smile. Two, younger, mini-Sue Kennedys followed her, wearing the same vacuous smiles.
"Power down, girls," Kennedy kommanded. I thought maybe they all had chips implanted somewhere, but she was referring to their cell phones.
Regular and perhaps even occasional readers of this blog know I pretty much detest King Edwin. But he impressed me. As I've pointed out in a companion piece at Easton Patch, Pawlowski mentioned several very disturbing facts:
♦ There is more regulation of our water lines than there is for a highly flammable substance being transported by aging, cast-iron pipes.
♦ Most of the cast-iron pipes in Allentown are ancient, some of them going back to the early 1900's.
♦ Allentown is no different in this regard than Bethlehem, Easton, or the many older boroughs in the Lehigh Valley.
♦ In the year before this explosion, Allentown responded to over 100 gas leaks.
♦ UGI's current schedule of replacement is phased over forty years, and the Lehigh Valley is the last area scheduled.
♦ After the February 9 explosion, a gas-fed fire raged for five hours until UGI and City officials were able to find a shut-off valve.
UGI sent no representative to this show, but host Iannelli read a letter of apology the utilty sent, accepting responsibility. In addition, the utility has sent $20,000 to every homeowner displaced, no questions asked.
How about the tenants?
Apparently, they've been forgotten. In the audience were several of the people who've lost everything, and they've been pretty much ignored up until now. One gentleman said Red Cross gave him money to stay in a hotel one night, and the hotel decided to let him stay another day. But the United Way had not been there for him at all between February 9, the date of the explosion, and March 23, when this show aired.
Gilmore stammered about all the money she is raising, but was unable to explain how she has failed to help someone who was essentially left homeless. He is currently staying with family.
One week earlier, CACLV's Alan Jennings sent out $31,380 of the $118,000 raised thus far. Clearly, they need to be more responsive.
After the show was over, Gilmore, Kennedy and the mini-Kennedys made a quick exit.
Like the United Way, don't expect any quick action from state or federal officials. In my Patch article, I do mention some steps that local municipalities can and should take to reduce the incidence of this kind of tragedy.