Monday, November 18, 2013

NIZ Board Chair: Subsidies Only Belong to the Rich

Sy Traub
When a business holds its hand out for all kinds of subsidies, isn't it only fair for the public to ask for something in return? Something that benefits them? In economic development parlance, this is called a clawback. CACLV Executive Director Alana Jennings has proposed such a clawback in Allentown's controversial Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ). He wants to see the tax incentives extended to developers in that special tax zone to also apply to employers who are willing to pay a living wage to people who really could use the money. But NIZ Board Chair Sy Traub huffs to The Morning Call that Jennings' proposal would manipulate the free market.

Huh?

The very idea of the NIZ manipulates the free market. It extends tax incentives to developers like J.B. Reilly that are given to no one else. It puts them on an uneven footing with other local developers renting office space or hotels.

Reilly can use the state taxes generated by his project to both drive down rents below the "free market". He can both entice tenants and use those same taxes to pay for the construction of his buildings. If the market were truly free, National Penn would still be in Boyertown. Lehigh Valley Hospital would be building their new medical building somewhere else.

Let's face it. The NIZ already is a gigantic welfare project. But right now, school books are being taken away from Allentown first graders so that J.B. Reilly can build another in-house basketball court at his Saucon Valley estate. Sy Traub has no problem taking from the poor to give to the rich.

And Sy's an "honorous" man.

But let's not help the people who actually need it.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a matter of pure principled, I agree with Traub, as I am sure the chorus of Republicans will as well. However, as you point out this is hardly the "hard work" of free enterprise. In todays world not only this project but most of the US economy is publically subsidized in one way or another.
It is however a very glaring example of the business class sense of greed. In their eyes the employee, the worker, is not in the same class as they are.
I guess when you go begging on a Brooks Brothers suit, you are more deserving of a helping hand than if you are wearing chinos.

These guys are pure sleaze and the best arguments for unions sine John D. Rockefeller.

Anonymous said...

Money is for the corporate class. Commoners would just waste it on booze and gambling.

Anonymous said...

Should CACLV change its name to CACAllentown? Everytime I read Mr. Jennings word in print he exclusively talks about Allentown. In the Morning Call article, Mr. Jennings specifically refers to jobs for Allentown residents. What about struggling families that that may live in surrounding communites? LANTA has a great network of mass transit.

While it may not be Mr Jennings intent, it would appear, by his words, his interests are exclusively Allentown.

BTW, lets have some auditing of exactly what this NIZ money is paying for.

Anonymous said...

Using Jenning's logic, it's OK to use taxpayer money so the guy flipping burgers at the arena can be paid substantially more than the guy flipping burgers across the river on Union Boulevard.

What does he have against some burger-flippers, but not others?

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

This is just another attempt by Jennings to pad his pockets by making the very people who put him on the board look bad. He uses the poor to extort funds from these wealthy businessmen by making them look like horrible people. Wasn't it Pawlowski, a democrat, and Mann, a democrat, and city council, all democrats with help from Brown, a republican who came up with this whole money grab to help rich business owners? I thought only republicans hurt the poor Bernie

Anonymous said...

This is at least the 2nd or 3rd time Jennings has tried to change something regarding the NIZ. This won't work either.

Jennings screwed up big time. He put his credibility on the line in backing the NIZ based on promises of help for the rest of downtown afterwards. He was played like a cheap fiddle.

This is what happens when you accept promises from Pawlowski, Mann, Browne, Reilly and Topper rather than getting everything up front, in writing, in the legislation.

I don't blame Sy Traub, he's doing exactly what he's being told to do. They desperately need out/region businesses in the NIZ (they've gotten none at all) and anything perceived as an impediment won't pass.

michael molovinsky said...

it's pretty much a moot issue. the minimum wage is not a factor with almost all the jobs coming to the niz; penn national, sports medicine, lehigh gas, air products. it applies to six peanut vendors at the arena. the restaurants will come and go so fast nobody will even remember their names.

Anonymous said...

how does the NIZ take school books from kids???

Bernie O'Hare said...

"He uses the poor to extort funds from these wealthy businessmen by making them look like horrible people."

Sounds like a plan to me. From what a read of Sy Traub, he sounds like a horrible person. And though J.B. Reilly may take local leaders to lunch every day and pretend he cares, the fact is he is ripping schoolbooks away from Allentown kids to fund his projects. That's horrible, too. So I'm all for holding up these assholes for every penny you can get for the working poor. I don't know why you would be bothered by this unless you are the Sheriff of Nottingham or Prince John.

The NIZ creates an uneven playing field. Let the assholes pay for it.

True, that the burger flipper outside the NIZ gets less dough, but his bosses aren't getting subsidized.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Should CACLV change its name to CACAllentown? Everytime I read Mr. Jennings word in print he exclusively talks about Allentown."

Do yourself a favor. Go to the LVPC web page and check out the demographic data about the LV. The poverty is concentrated, far and away, in Allentown. There is a dramatic difference between that city and the rest of the LV. Only South Bethlehem and parts of Easton come close to Allentown.

CACLV is a poverty fighting institution. So it would make sense that Jennings spend a lot of time talking about Allentown. That's where the battle is being fought.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"how does the NIZ take school books from kids???"

By taking state tax dollars used to fund our failing school systems. It also diverts money used to fund child health care.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, Surely most landowners would lie to adopt "an informal policy'which allows them to select which of their properties is subject to local real estate taxation.Surely this "policy" violates the uniformity of taxation clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution and due process and equal protection of the law.Why am I paying for the public services here in Easton when they are used by a BMW driving student from Greenwich when obviously they can afford to pay the freight and don't have to. Well, tax free or subsidized properties in Pa. are killing the working class already.Point is ,what is the benefit to whom?

Anonymous said...

The NIZ scam is being eyed by Bethlehem now as well as other communities across the Commonwealth. Pandora's Box has been opened and you can't stop the insanity now. Screw the kids and welfare mom's and the uninsured and the working poor. They matter not to the well off and well connected. The gulf between the rich and the rest of us..grows ever wider. Power to the People!

Anonymous said...

Bernie, Doesn't Jennings get to keep the tobacco tax collected from the cigarette wholesaler located in the N.I.Z. I would hope Mr.Jennings would resign from the Board in protest

Bernie O'Hare said...

What kills me about this is that there is absolutely no evidence that the NIZ will be successful. Has there been an explosion of jobs in Allentown? A diminution in the crime rate? An increase in living standards? Until we have evidence that it actually works, and I do not think it does, it is folly to use these incentives elsewhere. It is a diversion of state tax dollars at a time when the state can't afford it. The people being hurt are the people at the lowest rungs of our society. The people benefiting are those on top.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" Doesn't Jennings get to keep the tobacco tax collected from the cigarette wholesaler located in the N.I.Z. I would hope Mr.Jennings would resign from the Board in protest"

This tax is just one of the many being diverted into the pockets of rich developers. But they can't pay the help. It is obscene.

Anonymous said...

This is trickle-down economics; long decried by the left, who loudly supported the NIZ. Geeting loves this. Jennings is looking for a fig leaf after selling out.

Anonymous said...

Alan has been deceived but I still want him on the board pointing out the problems and deceit. As good as a reporter in the room at this point and that is worth something.

Anonymous said...

Greed is not tied to any one political party. That bed is large enough for anyone with the entry fee to climb in and get cozy with the others.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't think he's been deceived.Here's what I wrote on 4/11/12:

"Alan has hitched his wagon to the NIZ multimillionaires because he believes he's going to be able to extort money from them while they divert state tax revenues, appealing to their "white guilt."

This is all so predictable. Alan is on the board as "furniture" as far as everyone else is concerned. Alan thinks he'll be able to persuade this group of overly greedy individuals to support Alan's causes. At first, they'll politely nod. And do nothing. After a while, Alan will come to realize he's been co-opted. He'll make a final desperate pitch. The greedies will toss him a bone or two to shut him up. Sometime later, Alan will resign in a huff and write an op-ed expressing his "disappointment."

Nobody will give a shit.

And the voiceless will still be voiceless."

Anonymous said...

Didn't you mean on·er·ous? adjective
1. burdensome, oppressive, or troublesome; causing hardship: onerous duties.
2. having or involving obligations or responsibilities, especially legal ones, that outweigh the advantages: an onerous agreement.

VOR

Anonymous said...

Can't say I disagree with your take Bernie. Was it a noble quest? Did he try? Is he still trying? I hope you are wrong about how this will end but I can't argue your logic and synopsis of how the story will unfold and eventually end....

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am quoting the adjective Julio Guridy used to describe Traub.

Bernie O'Hare said...

... but if the shoe fits.

Anonymous said...

Be fair. Julio has no idea what an adjective is.

Anonymous said...

The whole NIZ scheme is a gross misuse of tax dollars. However, it was justified by claiming the projects would CREATE jobs.

At first, all anyone wanted was jobs. Now. just jobs is not enough. The entry-level jobs at those same projects have to be made into something more. Again, thanks to 'free' tax dollars.

With this proposal, all entry level job providers outside the NIZ are being placed at a hiring disadvantage. Plus, the state taxes they pay will be used to create this impediment for them. Some deal!

I had thought the NIZ district would cause thousands of people to roam around Allentown at all hours, creating numerous, ADDITIONAL entry-level opportunities. That should be enough . . . if it actually happens.

Fred Windish



Bernie O'Hare said...

Fred, Traus's point is that employers inside the NIZ will be at a disadvantage and be forced to pay higher wages at the trendy little bistros that open upon the way to the arena. But the NIZ already places everyone outside the NIZ at a disadvantage. Right now, the only ones reaping any benefit are J.B. Reilly, Joe Topper and their subsidized tenants. They have created the imbalance in order to help Allentown's disadvantaged, so they say, so let them help them by giving up some of their treasure.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, the whole NIZ 'sleight of hand' deal has troubled me from the start. Even though I no longer live in Allentown, I do pay state taxes and expect to pay more of them (possibly through fees) to cover the money being used for this downtown dreamland.

Somewhat off-topic, but the Reading Royals hockey team has just been put up for sale. Hmmm.

My thinking is this, if the district succeeds as it was portrayed, MANY entry-level jobs will be created. That's a good thing, but certainly not worth the huge investment already been made through 'corporate welfare.'

To now use the same funding trick to work AGAINST employers who happen to do business a few blocks away in the same city seems wrong. Would I be such a business owner, I'd be unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Ooops!

12:52 was me.

All the new Allentown construction can look real nice, yet REEK at the same time.

I would prefer that it had happened naturally and stand on its own.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Anon 1252pm, there is no interest in supporting businesses outside the NIZ.

Case in point, how would you like to own the Holiday Inn? The new hotel in the NIZ is their death warrant as there is no market for two hotels.

Anonymous said...

1:07 -

You know, I WAS going to bring up the Holiday Inn situation! Talk about a real slap in the face.

There's a hotelier who has continued to show faith in a struggling downtown, but apparently, he's not one of the 'beautiful' people. At the very least, some of the NIZ funds should go for a "Cincinnati-like" enclosed Sky Walk over to PPL and expected arena action.

Thanks for bringing Holiday Inn up. This project could drive Holiday Inn right out of business without some special consideration like a Sky Walk.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Hockey isn't going to grow hotel visitors, except two dozen members of visiting teams, 40 nights per year. Minor league sports fans don't follow their teams on the road. Hockey fans will travel to the game, eat there like at Iron Pigs games, and leave directly for home afterward.

Anonymous said...

You are exactly right, 1:27!

However, the NIZ folks want you to believe the center will be busy with conventions, concerts, and exhibits, too.

Fred Windish

Charlie Sch said...

Please keep in mind that under the NIZ, city, school and county property taxes continue to be paid. This is different from the Tax Increment Financing system that is used elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

A true capitalist of the Milton Friedman, monetarist variety will express politics in a monetary fashion, supporting those who will further his return on investment. Strategic political expression is limited to the same vote we all get as individuals. Tactical political expression manifests in supporting those who are willing to give you others' money and taking as much of government directed money as dopey politicians are willing to give you. Adam Smith's invisible hand requires taking as much as is legally permitted. Liberals with development schemes make this very easy to do.

monkey momma said...

What about businesses within the NIZ that currently pay more than minimum wage, even without the handout?? Or what about existing businesses in the NIZ that DO pay the minimum wage??

Why would a business come downtown, knowing now that pressure will be exerted on workers' wages?

Alan Jennings does not know the first thing about running and maintaining a business. Until he has successfully run a profitable company that survives on free market forces, his credibility is exactly ZERO.

Anonymous said...

Sy's not too old to be honorous. What he does behind closed doors is not anyone's business. He should be permitted to marry, as well. The honorous should be free to associate with whomever they chose. Honorous-Americans are a robust political bloc. Julio knows this. He's dumb like a fox. Really dumb.

Anonymous said...

When will some of the economic dinosaurs and teabagger fossils stop hating for a minute and look at reality. Same goes for the uber elite Democrats that have cozied up tot he power elite to have a better seat at the kids table.

There are no longer nay entry level jobs! Any job, is now a job. This nation use to make things. You could work your way up in large companies. The large companies are evaporating or are horizontal in makeup. Upward mobility is very limited.

You have formerly middle class people who cannot find anything other than "entry level" jobs as their employment.
Time to stop listening to WAEB,MSNBC and other hate media and realize the middle-class, the uniquely American invention of the mid-20th century, is going to e way of the dodo bird.

We are becoming a nation of wealthy and poor. Your Party affiliation means nothing. it is about who gets bought off and who doesn't.

The sooner we realize this is in fact a class warfare struggle, the sooner we can address the real problems confronting us. Or we can just keep attacking each other as the upper class wants us to do.

More gruel please? Wake up America. If not just get in line so the sheep herders can get to work fleecing you.

Anonymous said...

"profitable company that survives on free market forces"

This is no longer the reality. However it give some comfort to continue to believe it.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I have been trying to find a web-site for N.I.Z. so I could see who makes up the Board w/o success. I did find out you can view the City of Allentown in about 30 different languages.Good for the City/

Bernie O'Hare said...

Heh heh. This is part of Allentown's false transparency. They won't tell you a damn thing, but in 30 different languages.

Peter J.Cochran said...

I love it, Sheep herders that fleece you . This is beautiful. I love the analogy. You are right Anon 5;09, on somebody else s money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:09, your comment blows me away.

Peter J.Cochran said...

NOW let get perspective on the WORLD. The Israeli's and the the Saudi's have had a pact to go after Iran shortly. Last year when Me and some of my comrades had dinner at the Union League in Philadelphia we were told something big would happen in 15 months ,that was last November. How will this effect us here, as Our Government in Washington is wishie washie with the BIG BEN now. We can not afford to play games in the end.Read about it shortly in our media , news .This will happen and Ben will not adhere to a "BAD DEAL" made by the state department.

alfonso todd said...

Simply put, "Pot meet Kettle..."


Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

Bernie, what didn't you like about the comment at 5:09. thought it was pretty accurate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I liked it a lot. That's what I meant.

Anonymous said...

Don't foget a little weed too

Anonymous said...

When Harrisburg passed a more objective CRIZ legislation, why didn't they fix the NIZ raid on the cigarette tax that is basically a business relocation?