Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hanover, Bethlehem Township Sue Over Allentown's Tax Grab

The Commonwealth Court has been asked to set aside "special" legislation designed to benefit Allentown at the expense of other municipalities. As expected, Hanover and Bethlehem Townships today filed suit attacking the legislative framework establishing Allentown's 130-acre Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), which funds a hockey arena and other improvements with the earned income taxes of other municipalities.

In a news release accompanying the Complaint, Township Managers Jay Finnigan and Howard Kutzler state that other municipalities in Northampton and Lehigh Counties will join this litigation "in the coming days and weeks."

Filed by James Preston, an attorney in the Bethlehem firm of Broughal and DeVito, the lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the NIZ legislation for two reasons.

First, it violates a constitutional prohibition of "special" legislation, laws that give favorable treatment to one municipality at the expense of everyone else. A NIZ can only be establish is a city of the third class with "a population of at least î06,000 and not more than 107,000, based upon the 2000 Federal decennial census.” Only Allentown that description.

Second, the NIZ legislation violates the Uniformity Clause. It fails to identify who is being taxed and at what rate. It instead systematically and deliberately diverts EIT revenues due to other municipalities, even though those funds are "critical to performing their legislative functions."

In addition to seeking a declaratory judgment that the NIZ legislation is unconstitutional, Hanover and Bethlehem Townships are asking for injunctive relief against a project that "could have disastrous consequences on local municipalities.

The suit names the Commonwealth, Governor, Department of Revenue, Attorney General, Auditor General and State Treasurer as Defendants.

A copy is below.

Updated 9:40 AM: There were some vicious OT comments posted last night by "FDAA." I finally started deleting them, and the comments became incessant. FDAA has since posted a comment denying that she is the author. I believe her. Last night, before hitting the sack, I saw a new blog post by Tricia Mezzacappa, the Wicked Witch of West Easton. Her blog contains a picture of me with this caption: "This man has no dick." What a lady! Amazingly, she's running for delegate to the GOP convention.

57 comments:

zoid said...

You are on top of it Bernie.

zoid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh no they didn't!

Yours,

Yes they did

Anonymous said...

This had BETTER NOT delay the opening of Chairman Pawlowski's spectacular $ 160.0 million dollar Palace of Sport.

Why can't everyone just stop resisting this, stop fighting this and just get on board?

The Rubber Stamp Council of Apparatchiks did not go through their usual motions only to have some greedy jerkweed Lawyer file a lawsuit.

Democrats are awesome and have nothing but good intentions. All Hypocrisy, Crony Capitalism, for example, on their part MUST be ignored. He/she who does not support this project is clearly a bigoted Racist.

Buy season tickets NOW.

Or else!

Future Downtown Arena Attendee

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have to laugh when flunkies like Geeting (Manhattan) and Wilkins (D.C.) weigh in on their blogs as though they are legal experts on top of everything else.

Anonymous said...

1:51 PM

Ed won't be dropping a puck anytime soon. Did someone mention grand jury? I just saw the cranes leaving!

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

I have to laugh when disbarred lawyers like O'Hare(Nazareth) comment like they are legal experts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, I am. I did not lose my license for being stupid. While you, on the other hand, can't even be honest enough to admit you're on someone's payroll.

Anonymous said...

The only people loving these lawsuits are the lawyers. The township lawyers will be charging extra big time. At the end of the day, more will be spent on lawyers than these places could ever get in EIT.

When the smoke clears the NIZ will still be there and there will be some happy and richer lawyers.

And so it goes!

Anonymous said...

The only people who win here are Jimmy Broughal and Leo DeVito as it is their firm who with "represent" (read: bill the taxpayers) Hanover, Bethlehem Twnshp. etc. I might be a little less skeptical of Borughal's intentions if the law firm representing the townships in this matter wasn't his own.

But knowing these two, I am really not surprised.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let's see. How much EIT will be lost of jobs go from Hanover Tp and Bethlehem Tp to the NIZ, as JB Reilly poaches them? How about south side Bethlehem? How about Lower Saucon, where lehigh Gas has already left? This could easily bankrupt other municipalities. So don't downplay it bc you don't know what you're talking about.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

You didn't lose your license for being stupid? You FORGED documents!! That is pretty fucking stupid! Lets remind everyone about your "Legal expert" history...

O'Hare had told his client he was working to get him an $85,000 settlement. However, O'Hare had already settled the case himself for $60 and forged his client's name to the settlement document, according to findings of the Disciplinary Board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The Disciplinary Board found O'Hare violated seven rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

These included "illegal conduct involving moral turpitude . . . dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation . . . conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice . . . conduct adversely reflecting on his fitness to practice law . . . knowingly making afalse statement of fact or law."

zoid said...

Broughal's firm will not gouge anyone. At Hanover's direction, they researched the law and the state constitution and based on those findings, there is a valid basis for the petition filed. Screw Pat Browne, he is probably on the Allentown payroll as well as all the other political hacks in the fold, sponge guys like Mike Fleck. This whole thing stunk from the beginning, there was absolutely no transparency here from anyone on the NIZ, it was buried where most people did not even know what they were approving, we were all blindsided and now standing up for what is right. Scary thing is when and where will this ever stop, 30 years from now or maybe expand the NIZ and it keeps going. People have asked for answers for months and been nothing but stonewalled from Allentown, Browne and anyone involved with the scam!! Party is over. Browne says the project does not need out EIT, then don't take it and the lawsuit goes away, simple as that.

zoid said...

FDAA as Bernie has stated many times, character assassination will get you no where. Crawl back into the hole from which you climbed out. Problem your hole was at 7 th and hamilton and they just dug that up and evicted you, pity!

Anonymous said...

The political patronage staff inside City Hall (FDAA) must be getting really nervous to resort to such extreme personal attacks as opposed to forming a reasonable argument that the NIZ is constitutional. I hope the Allentown taxpayers are not funding FDAAs blog postings during normal business hours.

P.S. only a slimy politician like Pat Browne would concoct a sneaky law just for Allentown (106,000-107,000 residents) and then hide details about the tax grab from other municipalities and regular citizens, while sharing the profit making, inner workings of the legislation to campaign donors who hire his wife.

Lower Mack said...

I always enjoy it when the irrational shouters keep a copy of Bernie's disabarment nearby for a quick paste - as if that changes anything about the tax grab.
I've been looking - can't find a better wrod

MORONS

Anonymous said...

What a joke. What a waste of money - over an amount they don't even know. Hanover, just fix the potholes. You have like 32 people living there.

Anonymous said...

I don't know about the legal nonsense but I do know I want to watch some hockey. I fully support the IronPigs and so do most of the naysayers before the stadium was built.

I just hope if these municipalities win their lawsuit, the team is the ALLENTOWN Phantoms and not the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. All these municipalities are a bunch of ingrates.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

This whole thing wasn't fully vetted. If it was, the results have been hidden from view. I can understand how items like this can blow right past officials in Allentown, but now others are involved.

Given Pennsylvania's fiscal problems, its difficult to believe millions upon millions of tax revenues can be so easily grasped from its normal and intended purposes. For this to have been done largely in the shadows is even more curious. Taxpayers across the state deserve better.

The pending suits will ensure better evidence for justification will come forward. There should be nothing to fear, expect maybe a delay in funding.

Only projects that CAN'T stand a microscope need worry.

Anonymous said...

Go townships! While it's Pawlowski and his scheme now, Panto is right behind him with a scheme of his own using everyone else's money. Mayors of failed cities should not be enabled to keep throwing money away on ridiculous projects.

I'm off to the Tiddlywink Hall of Fame and Museum in Chapman. The place has experienced a true renaissance from the project!

Anonymous said...

The argument that the lawsuit will cost more than the lost EIT is false. It's ironic that Allentown and trade unions are arguing about how things are going to get expensive.

Looking at the years the NIZ will be actively keeping EIT away from municipalities coupled with the potential for greater amounts of EIT (township residents working inside it) being located in it, it would appear the lawsuit is a fraction of the potential EIT loss for a township.

Besides, it's the township's money. The only people that can get upset with it is township taxpayers and they won't. Why? Any sustained, substantial loss of EIT just means a bigger budget hole to fill in with more property tax.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how ignorant posters to this blog are. There aren't any pot holes in Hanover. Our roads are plowed first and we have visionaries in leadership positions that see the NIZ for what it's worth. Nothing but an illegal tax grab, authored by a Senator who claims not to talk business with his wife.

Yet the Senator’s wife has already benefited with a job from the NIZ? Rumor has it when Browne doesn't run for re-election there is a job in his future with Reilly, Topper or someone else that will benefit from the NIZ. Dig deeper disbarred esquire and you’ll find dirt.

Perhaps a grand jury will be seated to check out the happenings in Allentown. Will Browne & Pawlowski be the target

Anonymous said...

3:44 - Please, a citation for the "millions and millions" claim. Also, is PA legislation not available for anyone ro read at any time? I'm confused to your point that it was done secretly.

Anonymous said...

The only people that can get upset with it is township taxpayers and they won't. Why? Any sustained, substantial loss of EIT just means a bigger budget hole to fill in with more property tax.

Perhaps some of us don't mind chipping in for the sake of regionalism? Oh, that's right. Regionalism only means money coming OUT of Allentown to other cities and municipalities?

Anonymous said...

There aren't any pot holes in Hanover. Our roads are plowed first

Pot holes is a colloquialism for municipal business. No one cares about Hanover Township except when they are going to Wegmans. Before you know it, the square mile is behind you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, The personal attacks you launch are the last refuge of a person who has no argument. Instead of debasing me, you debase yourself. But you've done at several times now.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps some of us don't mind chipping in for the sake of regionalism? Oh, that's right. Regionalism only means money coming OUT of Allentown to other cities and municipalities?"

Must have missed the money coming from Allentown. Perhaps it was hidden in the corrupt politicians wallets.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Best thing about you Bernie is how much of a hypocrite you are.

You personally attacked two people today..

"I have to laugh when flunkies like Geeting (Manhattan) and Wilkins (D.C.) weigh in on their blogs as though they are legal experts on top of everything else."

Lighthouse said...

Broughal and DeVito's are a class law firm. Cynism of lawyers is often understandable, but this is one of the few Valley firms I truly respect. The fact that he is solicitor for both municipalities obviously creates some perception issues in the eyes of some of the above posters, but Mr. Broughal would not have recommended this if Preston did not have a solid case. I also do not believe these two municipalities would be wasting tax dollars just to be spitting in the wind. They know there is a valid case here.

Related, Senator Browne should stop sending invites to his fundraisers to people outside his district. His NIZ actions just prove the point that he literally does not represent our area, so why the constant invites to the Grubes' and other fundraisers?

Anonymous said...

Substantial problems with the petition, which leads me to believe this gets tossed after a hearing.

First, PA case law does permit special legislation with regards to taxation. Allegheny County has a drink tax. Philadelphia has a wage tax. Why? B/c state laws were structured to allow these taxes to exist. Philly is a county of the first class. In fact, it is the only county of the first class. All tax laws on the books pertaining to Counties of the first class apply to only ONE county. Philly has several taxes that no other county can enact. The General Assembly has the authority under case law AND the constitution to enact these laws. This will get tossed and will probably be the part that gets the shortest attention by the court in a written opinion. The court does not undermine the authority of the legislature on taxation unless uniformity is at play...

On Uniformity, the only way this is in play is if people are being taxed at a EIT rate differently. For this to happen, the government collecting would have to be the gov't determining the tax rate. The state isn't making that determination.

Let's assume for a moment the court buys into the notion of uniformity violation. For this to hold, somebody from Allentown would have to file the suit saying they are being taxed at a rate HIGHER than somebody from Hanover and the money from EIT is being diverted to a project in Allentown. B/c Allentown taxes EIT at a higher rate than Hanover, the Allentown taxpayer would have to file, not the Hanover taxpayer and certainly not the township.

You all may now resume your silly attacks on one another.

Anonymous said...

The PA Constitution does allow for the unigueness of Philadelphia County. Every county could have a drink tax. The law was written so that the NIZ can only ever apply to the City of Allentown.

If it gets throw out after a hearing there would be avenues of appeal and it could drag on for months and years.

Time to rewrite the NIZ legislation Senator.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

4:19 -

My 'millions upon millions" reference is based upon the use of ALL NIZ revenues to retire the debts incurred over the 30 year period. This issue goes well beyond the local EIT tax component.

If tax dollars normally going to fund state services, etc. are now diverted to a specific project in one city, the need to fund those same state services goes on. Those services will not be eliminated. State tax collection will simply be enlarged to cover the new deficit created by the newly created, city-specific project.

My reference to secrecy is based upon the reluctance, so far, to provide actual impact figures to surrounding municipalities. Plus, the very nature of this plan being accepted WITHOUT knowledge, comment, and approval of citizens residing in affected communities.

Plenty of legislation is presented on a daily basis. Most of it never comes to a vote. The public can NOT be expected to closely follow along EVERYTHING that is discussed in Harrisburg. Merely publicizing what was already passed does NOT validate anything. That's what the courts are for.

This matter has now been opened to a wider audience. Whether it's a Pandora's box will soon be determined.

Anonymous said...

The NIZ is not illegal due to the specifics of language limiting it to only Allentown.

In 1997, after the Business Gross Receipts(aka Business Privilege Tax) tax was abolished in 1989, the township of Upper Darby was permitted through special law to enact a business privilege tax. The law was written in a similar fashion as the NIZ, with parameters on population for a first class township that only Upper Darby could meet at the time.
Check out 53 P.S. 56709.2.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That doesn't make it legal. It makes it unchallenged.

O'Hare's disbarred legal team said...

It sets precedent. The challenge is going to get thrown out quickly. What a waste of Hanover and Bethlehem townships money. The law firm doesn't care they still get paid.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It sets no precedent unless there is a judicial decision saying it passes constitutional muster, and on the precise issues raised by Preston. And thanks, by the way, for letting Preston know your defense.

Tea Baggers are fear mongers! said...

Oh and let's add now the 3.8 million that Reilly is obligated to pay each year to the existing 7.1+ million that the NIZ is already producing. That is 10.9 million the same amount of the 10.9 debt service that is due. The naysayers are pulling at straws at this point. The numbers are already adding up and will exceed the total annual debt service. I hope the egg on your face tastes good!

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, I attacked Geeting and Wilkins for acting like lawyers when they're not. Since when is that a personal attack? But if it is, I identify myself and am willing to take personal responsibility for my wrds. You, on the other hand, are an anonymous coward on someone's payroll. But I should go easy on you. You may have done more damage to your cause than I have.

Northampton County said...

Bernie, thank you very much for the almost 70 parking tickets you have received since 2008. Oh and fountain hill thanks you for Tue speeding ticket that you got in Dec 2011. Even though you do not own a home and pay taxes like the rest of us do, you do certainly contribute a lot in fines.

Northampton County said...

Sorry I meant since 1998

Bernie O'Hare said...

No question I get lots of parking tickets and pay them all. If you had researched those Ftn Hill charges a little more carefully, you would see that I was acquitted. But I'm sure this has lots to do with the NIZ lawsuit.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Northampton County said...

Almost 70 tickets! You break the law on a constant basis. Parking tickets are violations of the law! But we do appreciate your additional revenue!

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, Um, my license to practice law was lifted, but not my law degree. So sorry, but I am a lawyer. I believe the term is "formerly admitted attorney."

You, on the other hand, are an anonymous coward on someone's payroll, and doing a lousy job.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I do not practice law bc my ticket was pulled, but am a lawyer. There are doctors who do not practice medicine. There are priests who no longer minister. There are teachers who no longer teach. etc., etc.

Not too swift, are you?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Almost 70 tickets!'

I'm sure there's more than that. And I pay every one of them.

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, I have deleted two OT personal attacks and will continue to delete you.

Anonymous said...

3:29
I heard it was the Allentown Arena and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Everyone, please refere to this team as Lehigh Valley Phanotoms. We all know who is paying for this arena......just sayin.

Anonymous said...

CAN'T WE ALL

JUST GET ALONG!!! lol

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Bernie...

Please check the ISPs of the post last night. That was not me. You know my ISP so this should be easy. Someone is posting as me I believe. To be honest I think it is (ROLF). Also you and I may not agree on many issues in regards to redevelopment, but geeting remarks are dead wrong in regards to Sneeling.

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, Thank you for the comment. I do not have to check the IPs and Isp. There have been too many comments since those exchanges anyway. But those comments were not posted by you, I agree.

After having to make repeated deletions of the increasingly off topic personal attacks, I did my usual tour de blog last night. I saw a new post by Tricia Mezzacappa, making all of the points I was deleting. So it's likely they came from her, and that she was impersonating you.

Be sure and thank her.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Thanks Bernie... you would be kind enough to delete all the comments that were posted as some impersonating me. Thanks....

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

someone*

Bernie O'Hare said...

FDAA, I will honor that request. i just need to know when the impersonation started.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Anything after 5pm

Bernie O'Hare said...

OK. Will delete. Those comments almost certainly were posted by Tricia Mezzacappa. Her anger at being deleted explains her most recent blog.