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Monday, July 06, 2015

Pawlowski Federal Investigation No Witch Hunt (Updated)

Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski has had little to say about a federal grand jury investigation that appears to be targeting him. The feds also are reported to have raided his political consultant, Mike Fleck, a few weeks prior to visiting City Hall. According to some sources, they are looking at various professional services contracts and their connection to campaign contributions received by Pawlowski. They  also reportedly are very interested in Pawlowski's mancave at his residence, where the permitting process was more than a little fishy. He apparently never received a bill for the work done there by Stellar Construction, a city vendor. I've heard they are also looking at the numerous holidays he has taken at the homes of his rich friends

It's important to note at the onset that Pawlowski has been charged with nothing, and is innocent until proven guilty. Unethical behavior and criminal behavior are two different things. But this investigation is no witch hunt. The feds didn't just wake up one morning and decide to raid his home. It's pretty clear that they have sources inside City Hall. Just as obviously, they have sources among the numerous developers and vendors who have been strong-armed by Pawlowski over the years.

It's time to review some of the questions I've raised about him over the years. More than anyone, I consider him responsible for the death of democracy in what has become an urban growth regime. Instead of serving the people, his masters are those with money. His NIZ is nothing more than a publicly funded Potemkin Village in the City's downtown, surrounded by square miles of blight and poverty. That's no renaissance. It's a tale of two cities within one. One for the beautiful people, and one for everyone else.

I. Pawlowski's Discriminatory Gentrification

My animosity towards King Edwin started in 2007, when I learned of his discriminatory gentrification attempts in the downtown, where he was sweeping the poor out of the way to make room for the pretty people. At that time, his solution to Allentown's many problems was, of all things, fine dining. He thought a Johnny Mañana's (with an ñ, damn it!), propped up with all kinds of public dollars, would turn everything around. The hell with more cops.

In 2008, once Johnny Mañana's KOZ classification expired, it tried to sell and then closed. It lasted just ten months. At least $50,000 in public money went down the drain, along with a few avocados.

Pawlowski engineered the elimination of LANTA bus stops in 2007, then refused to even meet with the minority businesses who were impacted. They were later described by one of his sycophants as a "cancer." But what really frosted me was when he sicced his enforcement goons on a 75 year-old Zee Weikel, for daring to have an occasional yard sale so she could go out with her lady friends once in a blue moon.

Things got worse for downtown merchants in 2008, when he gave Hamilton Street merchants just 90 days to replace solid gates outside their storefronts with mesh. This would cost between two and seven thousand dollars, and expose merchants to vandalism and break-ins. Merchants on 7th Street were, for some reason, spared. Obviously, he was trying to make things harder for these small merchants.

For tenants, he increased the annual license fee for apartment units from $16 to a whopping $75 per unit in 2010, a 468% increase that would be passed on to people who were already struggling with climbing PPL bills. Pawlowski critic Scott Armstrong observed, "Ed Pawlowski's unit fee increase is a tax on Allentown's poor. When Ed rode into town as an advocate for low income housing, people took him at his word that he was sincere. Time and experience have proven he wasn't."

II. The NIZ

The reason for Pawlowski's dismissive attitude towards Allentown's working poor began to take shape in 2011, when he got rid of Karen Beck Pooley at the Redevelopment Authority. Her husband Jeff groused,
"Anyone who’s walked around center city lately has seen the orange tide of 'unfit for human habitation' stickers. Foreclosures are piling up—more than half of all “sales” in the city’s three historic districts last month were bank or Fannie Mae foreclosures. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, median income in the residential neighborhoods around Hamilton has taken a sharp dive over the last ten years.

"And yet the mayor is doubling-down on flashy, big-ticket economic development."
That big ticket economic development is the NIZ, which stands for Neighborhood Development Zone. ironically, nothing about it benefits Allentown's neighborhoods. There never has been a community benefit agreement, despite many promises. It should be called the MIZ, or Millionaire Development Zone.

It was announced in a breathless and swooning headline by The Morning Call screaming, "Arena could change face of Allentown." Dr. Steve Thode, the only voice of reason, likened the project - which will simply steal existing jobs in Bethlehem and Easton - to "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." It was a gigantic TIF on steroids, in which over 130 non contiguous acres would be redeveloped using state tax monies as well as the EIT from any person who worked inside the NIZ, regardless where they happened to live. It is a Sherwood Forest in which Ed Pawlowski could steal from the poor and give to the rich, i.e. NIZ developers J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper. Those diverted tax monies would include cigarette taxes that would otherwise fund children's CHIP programs.

Eventually, the lawsuits began. Approximately 18 impacted municipalities sued, along with developer Abe Atiyeh.

It took state lawmakers to resolve the impasse. Since they created the flawed law to begin with, that was only right. On June 30, 2012, every single Lehigh Valley state legislator approved changes to the NIZ law, removing the provision that would authorize the diversion of municipal EIT and changing the definition.

Lehigh Valley House Republicans Reps. Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh/Northampton), Gary Day (R-Berks/Lehigh), Joe Emrick (R-Northampton), Marcia Hahn (R-Northampton), Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks/Lehigh) and Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh/Northampton) issued a joint statement, calling their vote "a symbol of state government working with local municipal officials, who in this case expressed deep concerns about the impact of losing their local tax revenue."

As the arena went up, along with all the pretty buildings, Allentown did nothing about homeless people seeking shelter during the brutal winter of 2014.

But the NIZ enabled the urban growth regime to expand. NIZ developers J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper poured $50,000 into the campaign coffers of a little known Bangor Mayor running for Northampton County Executive. That Mayor, John Brown, defeated Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, who had been a mild critic of the NIZ.

Now J.B. Reilly is seeking a reduction in the one tax he actually does owe - property tax.

Given the immense amounts of money flowing into and out of the NIZ, it is virtually impossible to believe that no federal laws are being broken. The temptation is too great.

III. Code Enforcement as Both Carrot and Stick

In addition to the NIZ,  I would soon learn that Pawlowski used code enforcement as a way of punishing political enemies.He did it to a building owner who dared sport a digital billboard that featured an ad from Lou Hershman. Then Pawlowski came out with his own digital billboards. I would eventually learn from people inside that office that he sometimes would send his code goons to inspect people he disliked. Now nobody will say this on the record, but I heard it from several sources. But when it came to himself or people he liked, he winked at code requirements.

Consider the case of a hedge funds manager who needed the city's blessing for some in ground pool he wanted at his mansion. Managing Director Francis Dougherty fired off an email to one of his underlings, demanding quick action. "This is a favor for tim holt. Our action on tim's behalf means money from air products later."

If this is not clear enough, look at how Pawlowski handled his own home improvements in what I called Permitgate.

IV. Permitgate

In the Summer of 2010, Pawlowski decided to build a mancave at his downtown home. He never bothered to get a permit, something I was able to confirm with a visit to the Lehigh County Assessor's office. He had routinely shut down businesses that failed to get permits, but was himself above the law. In addition to visiting assessors, I also filed a Right-to-Know with the City.

A few days after I reported this failure, Pawlowski had a permit hanging on his front door. Turns out it was more than a mancave. A new kitchen and other improvements were also involved, and the work had actually started in December. "Stellar Construction installed the Anderson Windows and doors," chirped Lady Macbeth Pawlowski on Facebook. Is this the very same Stellar Construction that contributes heavily to King Edwin's campaigns and is rewarded with City contracts? Yep.

The City did respond to my Right-to-Know request a day after its answer was due and without all the permits I knew had been issued.

In the meantime, Lady MacBeth Pawlowski defriended about 60 people on Facebook, but dumped the wrong people. She eventually killed her page and started over. Pawlowski quickly snuck out and got two more permits.

Naturally, Pawlowski's hand-picked Ethics Commission, in a vote behind closed doors, cleared him of all wrongdoing even though he never obtained the required permits and underestimated the cost of the work.

It's good to be King.

V. Cronyism

Despite 39 union layoffs in City Hall, Pawlowski hired Dale Wiles in 2010 as an Assistant City Solicitor. He had absolutely no experience practicing law, but his wife was a partner of the City Solicitor and he was a Democratic committeeman who contributed regularly to Pawlowski. He also hired City Council President Ray O'Connell's son, who had been jobless for three years before Pawlowski put him to work.

VI. Pay-to-Play Campaign Finances

1. Who Gave $8,000 to Latinos for a New Lehigh Valley? - Right out of the gate, Pawlowski's campaign finances have been shady. In October 2005, when he was running for Mayor for the first time, he received checks for $5,000 and $3,000 from a PAC called Latinos for a New Lehigh Valley. So far, so good. That sure is a lot of Latino support. But just who in the Lehigh Valley's Latino community donated $8,000? Where did the PAC get its money? I asked to see its report.

There is none. Despite being registered in Lehigh County as a PAC for many years, Latinos for a New Lehigh Valley filed no campaign finance report at all in 2005. Or 2006. Or ever.

The absence of a report tells me that the real source of that money is NOT Lehigh Valley Latinos. I suspect Hizzoner used the Latino group to create the false impression that he is wildly popular among Latinos, and to prevent you from learning the identity of his real donor.

I called Ed DeGrace, who was supposed to be in charge of this group, and asked him to identify the source of the money he funneled to Pawlowski.

"I've got nothing to say to you," DeGrace said, and then hung up.

He won't be able to hang up on the feds.

2. 2008 report is full of pay-to-play.In 2008, Pawlowski would be late in filing a campaign finance report in which he reported receiving $108,000 in 2006 and 2007 from city vendors and contractors.

This included $13,500 from Zaworski and Sons, who was rewarded with a favorable KOZ classification that enabled it to offer $220,000 townhouses with an added incentive - the buyer would pay no local, real estate or state taxes. The Gross McGinley law firm contributed $5,600, and ended up with $138,000 in legal fees. Tom Williams at City Line Construction donated $12,000, and ended up with $62,376.74 in city work.Portnoff Law gave $1,000, and then raked in $89,848.86 for its tax collection services.

Can you say pay-to-play?

Over $18,000 of the money reported eventually went into King Edwin's pocket.

Pawlowski was eventually fined the maximum - $270 under our toothless election laws - for filing his report late. He then illegally tried to use campaign funds to pay it.

3. Pawlowski Files Finance Report Falsely Claiming No Contributions.Later that year, he would file a campaign finance report that falsely claimed to have no contributions and no expenses, something refuted by other reports showing he had received at least $18,550. When he finally filed a corrected report, it showed that he had raised a whopping $108,588, mostly from city workers, developers, contractors, consultants and lawyers who do business with the city.

In 2009, The Morning Call's Jarrett Renshaw entered the fray, with an article detailing Pawlowski's pay-to-play practices. Pawlowski, after incredibly admitting the use of business cards supplied by city vendors to solicit campaign contributions, went on to claim he's beyond suspicion because he graduated from bible college. As Scott Armstrong noted at the time, "Ed seems to use his Moody Bible degree and his "Christianity" as both a vote getter and a 'get out of jail free card.'"

4. Union shakedowns. A few months after claiming he was too holy to engage in pay-to-play, Pawlowski was actually shaking down unions for $2,000 donations, suggesting some sort of quid pro quo. His solicitation took credit for very specific pro-union activities that left me wondering whether he is a mayor or union agent.

He then filed a post primary report showing that he raked in $20,000 in just one month. This included $2,500 from Bennet Toyota, which also supplied two cars and a minivan on election day. They had been giver $4.5 million in grants and loans to move into the old Exide plant. He went on to defend his strong-arm tactics a few months later with a video claiming that "[i]t helps us attract more businesses to the community."

5. Pawlowski scours homeless shelters for campaign workers. - He finished 2009 with a campaign finance report that failed to list where $8,000 in cash went on election day, and was ordered to amend his report. He did so, but still refused to itemize the $8,000 in cash he spent on election day. He was ordered to do so, and when he finally did, we learned that he had combed homeless shelters and had sent petty thieves to Allentown neighborhoods to promote his candidacy and knock on doors.

6. The Marcel Groen connection. - In 2010, Allentown began calling itself the "City Without Limits," something that Pawlowski's campaign finance reports already made abundantly clear. In fact, Pawlowski's connections to political power broker Marcel Groen came under scrutiny in a riveting piece by Morning Call scribe Jarrett Renshaw. At that time, Groen and Pawlowski were both pushing for a $28 million waste-to-energy plant that ultimately never got off the ground. Groen called Pawlowski a "visionary," and for good reason. His firm had received $350,000 from Pawlowski between 2006 and 2010 for legal work that obviously could not be performed by the cronies in the Solicitor's office.

Don Cunningham bluntly stated that with Green, "it's about money and business." He does not stop there, but adds this. "So anyone that wants to run statewide must go through Montgomery County if they want to advance themselves. ... Clearly Pawlowski has developed that type of business and political relationship with Marcel."

What Cunningham is saying, if you read not so closely between the lines, is that Pawlowski is willing to sell out Allentown for a higher office.

7. NIZ Contributions. - In 2011, though he wasn't running for anything, Pawlowski raked in $238,265 in campaign contributions, including $40,900 from NIZ board members and beneficiaries. By themselves, NIZ developers J.B. Reilly and Joe Topper would dole out $88,725 in 2011 to politicos they wanted in their pocket.

12:30 pm Update: According to Allentown activist Richard Fegley, Pawlowski is supposed to release another statement at 1:45 pm.

3:45 pm Update: I looked at a Fegley Facebook post from Friday, and concluded erroneously that he was referring to a statement today.

132 comments:

DreamingOfJustice said...

Great column, and thank you for attempting to sum up this hot mess of a mayor and his administration. I moved here from another state over a decade ago and I was stunned and remain amazed that this game didn't implode much sooner. Heck, I am amazed that this charade even got off the ground at all. But Pennsylvania is rightfully and shamefully listed as number 5 in the Forbes list of Most Corrupt States. Allentown has to be one of the worst examples of a collapse of ethics, even within this statewide den of inequity.

Michael Molovinsky-and others, besides you have raised alarms repeatedly about the NIZ shenanigans and other dubious schemes over the last ten years. Reading through some of your many articles about such is almost comedic-except for the devastated economy and criminal levels of poverty that accompany it. It is no joke about the effects of unethical government- a fiefdom, run for the pleasures of the connected rich elite. It is no joke when we ride downtown past boarded up row homes, weedy lots, trash strewn streets, and unoccupied young men dawdling on street corners. The soul of the city has been gutted.

Anonymous said...

Could you provide a link to the Jarrett Renshaw article you cite in #3, which details the business card for contributions issue?

Bernie O'Hare said...

http://articles.mcall.com/2009-03-01/news/4320617_1_city-contracts-city-vendors-campaign-reports

Anonymous said...

Is that all you have?

That's nothing compared to our "professional press", which has given us a press release from the City spokesman, and a quote from the Mayor about focusing on enjoying a national holiday.

Where'd you go to journalism school?

Maybe Bill White will write a humorous article about how this is all really trivial and we should instead look at all the shiny new buildings and places to stuff our faces.

Anonymous said...

Yawwwwwnnnnn. Your irrational hatred for Pawlowski and blindness to the 100% improvement in Allentown's downtown makes your entire tediuos dissertation irrelevant. Pawlowski and Allentown's rebirth is a huge success, contrary to your own failures in life. You are jealous, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

You used the word report or reportedly 21 times in this right up... How about some facts and references? And referencing your own stories does not count. You better pray to god an indictment comes down and he is found guilty of something. Because all you have is opinion and allegations.

Bernie O'Hare said...

What's a "right up?" Do tell. This article is full of facts. You just don't like them.

Anonymous said...

Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski has had little to say about a federal grand jury investigation that appears to be targeting him.

"Appears" So not confirmed?

The feds also are reported to have raided his political consultant, Mike Fleck, a few weeks prior to visiting City Hall. According to some sources, they are looking at various professional services contracts and their connection to campaign contributions received by Pawlowski.

"Reported" "Some sources" By whom?

They also reportedly are very interested in Pawlowski's mancave at his residence, where the permitting process was more than a little fishy.

"Reportedly" You is reporting this?

He apparently never received a bill for the work done there by Stellar Construction, a city vendor. I've heard they are also looking at the numerous holidays he has taken at the homes of his rich friends

"Apparently" "heard" Speculation and heard from whom

When you break down your journalistic style, you create more questions than answers. Hence why you are a blogger and not an actual journalist. Your whole opening paragraph is full of speculation and unconfirmed sources. Do you see how you apply your spin before presenting your argument?

Anonymous said...

This is another hit piece by hateblogger O'Hare. he hates the Mayor and will do anything to disparage him. O'Hare is not new at this, as he has attacked others he doesn't' like. His blog is his manhood and he used it like a club against his enemies and as propaganda for his friends.

It is shameful. We would love a story on County Executive Callahan and his contracts and developer friends, will it ever happen?

Is it true that "reportedly" you are full of crap.

Word on street is O'Hare's mentor Ron Angle is very proud, can it be true? Or just a rumor.

dysamoria said...

That's exactly how journalism works these days, Anonymous. It's language to avoid legal smack-downs by the wealthy against the non-wealthy over claims of defamation. It's in all news. Just like using the word "suspect".

i love the spelling/grammar mistakes on the two prior anonymous attackers, as well as the fact-less rebuttals that consist of ad hominem attacks.

This blog appears to be doing what The Morning Call refuses to do. Having been in the LV area for my whole life, all i've ever seen the Morning Call do is fluff and status quo support of the LV and authorities in it. Has no one any interest in investigative journalism any more?

Anonymous said...

Nice how O'Hare claims folks in homeless shelters are petty thieves. Yeah, he is a real champion of the poor. Hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

It's a small thing, but often small things are quite telling.

"Chicago Eddy" Pawlowski kicked-off his Senate Campaign in a union hall of The International Union of Operating Engineers -- one of the most corrupt in America (http://nlpc.org/category/keywords/international-union-operating-engineers-iuoe).

Great piece, Mr. O'Hare. I can't help but wonder if the feds first got on to this with the help of your fact-finding over many years.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Pooley drank the Cool Aid and pumped out the party line until his wife's head was on the chopping block. He's lost his credibility.

monkey momma said...

Great piece, Bernie.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I realized that only you and Mike Molovinsky had added any further comment about the FBI raiding City Hall last Thursday.

Absolutely nothing about this on WFMZ's home page. And no new news on the Call's page. NOTHING. I realize Monday is a thin paper day, especially after the 4th, but this is the story of the decade. And nobody's reporting on it?? That makes no sense whatsoever. Nobody's demanding the inventory list from the raid? (I'll bet I can read chicken scratch, even if the city solicitor cannot.) Nobody's interviewing anyone at city hall, at least to report "no comment" from the participants??

I can understand the mayor's "statement" being very short - he's being investigated. But where the hell is city council? What about the County? Where are our local and state representatives who are supposed to be looking out for their electorate? Doesn't anyone care?? THE FBI RAIDED CITY HALL AND NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT IT? It's outrageous.

There's a difference between presuming innocence and burying your head in the sand. At this point, I believe PA is being governed by and reported on by ostriches. It's incredibly disappointing and beyond bizarre. I am thankful that O'Hare and Molovinsky are paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Really, "At this point, what difference does it make?" There will be a job waiting for Pawlowski in Washington, D.C. as soon as he's available.

Anonymous said...

It's time you consider Alan Jennings role in the rotting political infrastructure on display here sir.
You have ignored it quite long enough.
It has become a glaring omission.

Anonymous said...

If the FBI hit Flecks office weeks ago, City Hall had plenty of time to clean up.

Anonymous said...

7:51 is exactly right, Pawlowski will find himself a job in DC as a consultant if all else fails. Just ask Sam Bennett how easy it is to leave this town in disgrace for a DC paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Very thorough report. Thanks. Many are hoping for deliverance here in the Queen City.

Scott Armstrong

Monkey Momma said...

Does the FBI have jurisdiction in all of these possible reasons for the raid?

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, if Ed goes down, a lot of individuals and some companies are going down with him. There is an element of hiding in plain sight here - nobody is going to look at small little Allentown.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Bernie for this report, amazing how $$ will make most sell there souls. About time Ed does some hard time and get "loosened" up a bit. Word on the street is they like Bible boys in prison.

Anonymous said...

BOH is not about to look at Jennings role as a player in the Kings Court.
Not happening.

Anonymous said...

@8:25 AM- How many times are you going to over-use the trite and worn phrase "word on the street"?

May as well just sign your name.

Histrionic + Obsessive Personality Disorder equals TM

Anonymous said...

The people have a right to know whether their Mayor is a crook.

Anonymous said...

Who keeps on voting for this clown anyway?

Anonymous said...

Democrats. Because they fall for the emotional bullcrap everytime. Poetic justice is served in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

This smells like a preemptive strike by the RNC.

Anonymous said...

The jurisdiction question is a good one.

The city contracted with union contractors located out of state. For example, the Hope VI project on the east side involved contractors based in Maryland and Texas. If there were illegal activities associated with contracts like those, it falls into the FBI's jurisdiction as it crossed state lines.

Fact is, between Hope VI and the NIZ you're talking $3 billion or so contracts and billions more in tax revenue being used to pay for them, all doled out by one man. That puts "small little Allentown" squarely on the map for scrutiny.

This is going to get interesting.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Thank you for turning "Pawlowski" into the FBI for investigation. They can and will clear up all these allegations. At this time they are all allegations. We know it was you Bernie.
By the way, we also know if you are wrong, you won't be able to hide your automobile you just acquired from mezzycappa. Big Ed will own it.

Kim Velez said...

While no one has the complete, hard facts about this matter, BOH has done a pretty swell job in my humble opinion. I have witnessed Ed's hand in the game, first-hand and know that absolutely no moral ethic or integrity is considered by he and his wife if it means Ed coming out ahead of his competition AND his constituents. This raid/investigation has been a long time coming...we should all be desiring a city that prospers for us all and exudes democracy, especially in affairs that impact the majority. Perhaps this is the city's chance at a fresh new start at that. If you're alarmed that city council is MIA on this issue, or any other administration staff member for that matter, little do you know the mayor's "strong arming" capabilities.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"This smells like a preemptive strike by the RNC."

Unlikely. Toomey would much rather run against Pawlowski than Admiral Sestak.

Anonymous said...

I have always objected to NIZ's premise in which taxes paid by employees working in it actually pay the rent of their boss' business, the business owner in the NIZ. Aren't that what business revenues are expected to do? I was also treated to a map of NIZ's geography. It looks like Swiss Cheese. I doubt the placements of participants were at random. Good job, O'Hare, on a vigilant piece of observation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Does the FBI have jurisdiction in all of these possible reasons for the raid?"

No. But if this becomes serious, and i think it has reached that point, they will bring the state in, and both entities will be breathing down Pawlowski's neck.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It's time you consider Alan Jennings role in the rotting political infrastructure on display here sir. "

What evidence do you have that Jennings is guilty of anything other than bad judgment?

Bernie O'Hare said...

" I can't help but wonder if the feds first got on to this with the help of your fact-finding over many years"

I seriously doubt it. Their sources are almost certainly vendors who have been strong-armed as well as people inside City Hall. The closest I've come to a fed in years is when I go to the post office.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Nice how O'Hare claims folks in homeless shelters are petty thieves. Yeah, he is a real champion of the poor. Hypocrite."


The people Pawlowski used were petty thieves. Click on the links.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Jennings is a shameless booster of all the sad goings on in the Queen City, in that much he's a willing and fully aware participate.
He is certainly not a fool.
His credibility is spent.

Anonymous said...

Bernie are you sure the FBI doesn't have jurisdiction? If they didn't how would a grand jury issue search warrants?

Jennings was guilty of terrible judgment, but I'd bet the farm he's not complicit in any wrongdoing.

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

3:15, Based on the journalism I've seen, which in many instances has been little more than the waving of pom poms, I'm quite comfortable with what I've written as an example of journalism.

Your first objection is that I see the FBI appears to be targeting Pawlowski. I believe thatis the correct word. There is evidence they raided City Hall to look at contracts in which he had a big part and were at his home. There is evidence that both Pawlowskis were escorted into the federal courthouse. Thus it does appear that he is a target. It would be factually inaccurate to say he is a target, but it is also accurate to say that it appears that way, based on disclosed facts.

As for the raid on Fleck, that is from at least three different sources. I am not naming them. I did call Fleck for clarification. So once again, I am comfortable with what I have written.

The allegation that Pawlowski never received a bill from Stellar, or that feds are looking in to his vacations at the summer homes of rich friends, is just an allegation. I have no way of knowing if it is true, but am passing them along because the things I do know, six ways to Sunday, make those allegations plausible.

Most newspapers are short-handed and have no time or space to cover stories in depth and connect the dots. Investigative journalists like Jarrett Renshaw don't stay long in Allentown. I am comfortable with what i have wriotten and sign my name. Why don't you? Tell us who wants you to spin this at 3:15 am?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie are you sure the FBI doesn't have jurisdiction? If they didn't how would a grand jury issue search warrants?"

Banker, what I said is that the FBI does not have jurisdiction over everything I've chronicled, but they have jurisdiction over a lot of it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Mr. Jennings is a shameless booster of all the sad goings on in the Queen City, in that much he's a willing and fully aware participate"

Let me tell you a story. About this time last year, MM and I participated with Alan in an episode of Lehigh Valley Discourse, which he was hosting at the time. We wandered into the NIZ, and MM destroyed his arguments. Alan did not argue well that day, though he usually does.

The show's producers got worried that MM might have done too good a job at poking holes in the NIZ, and refused to put the broadcast online.

Alan Jennings quit as host of Lehiogh Valley Discourse.

Because the station refused to air the viewpoints of a person who forcefully disagreed with him and one he would have no reason to want to hear again.

That's integrity.

I know plenty of people who support the NIZ, and i would never for a minute question their integrity.

Anonymous said...

3:35 am Anon
County Exec Callahan? After a year and a half of "Not ready for Prime Time" John Brown, we should be so lucky!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Kim Velez,

You definitely do know first hand what it is like to be a victim of Pawlowski. Folks, Kim Velez is the person whom Pawlowski attempted unsuccessfully to force off the ballot a few years ago. I did not even touch her story or the water lease, and only made a passing reference to the trash-to-energy deal.

In my criticism of the NIZ, I only scratched the surface.

Anonymous said...

Unlikely. Toomey would much rather run against Pawlowski than Admiral Sestak.

Well, sure. But this is national politics. They will take EVERYONE down. Take no prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Soon after taking office I seem to remember King Edward smashing up a tax-payer owned vehicle and not being cited.This seemed to be the start of The Mayor's long and corrupt administration.After all one has to start somewhere

Anonymous said...

Your absolutely right about Kim and the water lease. How much does the city have left from the water lease? I bet less than 20 million. Man.. Those niz zone big wigs are smelly with tax $$$.

Anonymous said...

Alan Jennings is a bigger mouth piece for the mayor than Michael Moore, there's no denying that.
It's hard to right it off as lack of proximity or information.
In this he's part of the core boosters.

Bill said...

Thanks for sharing the story about Allen.

I am reading the Morning Call this morning and humming an old Simon and Garfunkel tune, the sound of silence.

Anonymous said...

I found the op-ed piece by the owner of the PPL Plaza building very interesting on Sunday. Apparently the City partnered with them to bring the new building into downtown and then kept them out of NIZ status and now there's a brand new building in Allentown that can't attract any tenants. This is the building where the Mayor was comping free meals at Johnny Manana's back in the day.

Anonymous said...

There's no reason to believe Alan Jennings was aware of any of the improprieties you outlined above.

Anonymous said...

Expect things to slow down in Allentown as everyone connected to the Queen City Cabal suddenly becomes shy, even those on the fringes. How difficult is it for the Morning Call to nail down a few more specifics? Just track down Fleck and ask him if he was also interviewed by the FBI. A simple yes or no is all you need. Even a no comment response is a yes. This is absolute evidence the story is about Pawlowski political behavior.

Anonymous said...

Alan Jennings is an extortionist. No more, no less.

Anonymous said...

The mayors not going to get any sympathy from Jim Martin.

Anonymous said...

This is a fine summation of the Pawlowski regime. Well done indeed.

I can't help but notice that The Morning Call is burying this story today.

Anonymous said...

I think the announcement at 1:45 is that his run for senate is over... I just checked his senate webpage... it is down. http://pawlowski2016.com/

Bernie O'Hare said...

Holy shit!

Anonymous said...

Thks Bernie misunderstood your point.

if 1232pm is right, holy shit indeed!

The Banker

Anonymous said...

The feds don't often conduct "witch hunts". I testified at a federal grand jury, and they had all their i's dotted and t's crossed. There has to be some good reason to pay a house call.

Good job reporting on this, Bernie. All you see in the ET these days are pictures unrelated to the crap that passes for stories - and regurgitated stuff from the AP.

A-blee a-blee a-blee a-blee ... That's all folks! said...

What effect would a Pawlowski resignation have on his future ability to receive a city pension?

In the event of a conviction, would the Mayor's ability to receive a pension be affected?

Rich Fegley said...

Bernie, my mention of a statement from the mayor at 1:45 was from Friday. The media was quick to call me about your post here.

Anonymous said...

8:53 said: "This smells like a preemptive strike by the RNC."

Really, the Republicans are responsible for this?

I'd say it's more likely Pawlowski.

If you're looking for a political angle, Sestak has much more to gain from Pawlowski being out of the race. Toomey couldn't dream of an easier opponent than Pawlowski.

Anonymous said...

Oh look... Bernie was quick to jump the gun again... THAT SAYS A MILLION THINGS!!

Anonymous said...

Reporters from the dailies should ask Pawlowski why his website is gone. It reminds one of a crazed female in a much smaller LV municipality who is running for election and with a criminal charge against her, abruptly yanked her website. We don't hear peep from her anymore, which is sublime.

Anonymous said...

@1:44 WTF are you doing to bring news to the citizens of the LV? Sitting at your computer criticizing the people who are? That says "A MILLION THINGS" about the dimensions of your life.

Anonymous said...

Fleck flipped and turned on the hand that has fed him. This will go deeper & wider!

Anonymous said...

@149 WTF are you doing other then anonymously sitting at your computer criticizing anonymous commentators. Says a lot about being a hypocrite

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Morning Call is working up a thorough story on all of this - as soon as it figures how to describe how it really hasn't been complicit by just going along and never asking questions over the years. They're in a tough spot. The more this story is discussed, the more useless they look to citizens. As an earlier poster said, the silence here is stunning. This could, repeat COULD, become a major national news item. They had better be pulling whatever they can together right now.

Should Pawlowski ever drop out of the Senate race it would be the correct step to take even with what we only know now.

Anonymous said...

Tom-"there is no sand in my shorts"-Shortell should get on this Pawlowski situation. That guy is a hound dog when he picks up a scent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rich, that is too funny.

Anonymous said...

MC is reporting Fleck's office is locked and dark and his phone is disconnected. No word on his secure dumpster location.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Morning Call is correct. I have been trying to reach Fleck since last week without success. I also understand that Celeste Dee is setting up her own consulting biz. It looks like Fleck has been flipped.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to an earlier post, Pawlowski's Senate campaign website is still up and running.

If he ran for re-election for mayor today, he'd win by another landslide. Nobody expects the Allentown electorate to split the atom anytime soon.

Any state investigation will be led by Kathleen Kane, who ought to be in prison, herself. The state may investigate, just not very vigorously. Fleck and Pawlowski have known this all along. Sestak has federal connections and his campaign is likely the impetus for this. Toomey and the RSCC have never been concerned about a laughable Pawlowski candidacy. They probably donated to it for the same reason Democrats are donating to Trump. In politics, when the opposition is shooting itself in the foot, it's best to keep passing them bullets.

Anonymous said...

3:42

Where is the Morning Crony report on Fleck? I haven't seen it.

Maybe I have to pay extra for the edition that has actual news.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is up and running now, but was definitely down for a few hours.

Anonymous said...

This is mere speculation... however this be might all be about Mike Fleck. His office is closed, numbers are changed/disconnected. The biggest sign might be the shutting down and starting back up of the pawlowski senate page. I think that was done so that it could be transferred to a new campaign manager. Looks like Fleck is on the run!! Even The WS Group, LLC(The firm that Mike merged with in 2014) has removed his profile.



Anonymous said...

Fleck has a history.

Mike Fleck, campaign manager for Ed Pawlowski, declines comment after allegations concerning previous candidate, campaign

Anonymous said...

Also.

Investigation of Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer's 2011 campaign finances ongoing, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office says

""Spencer's then-campaign manager, Michael Fleck of Allentown-based Fleck Consulting, released a statement in November, saying, "We follow all campaign finance laws, we believe. And, we ran an effective campaign for the mayor."""

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being the only source of real news in the Valley. I keep wondering how many vacant nights at the Arena will it take to end that fantasy.

Monkey Momma said...

I still cannot access the Pawlowski senate page. His facebook page still has his senate race listed, but the link does not work. When I look at Mike (Michael) Fleck's facebook page, all I see are tons and tons of online Texas Hold "em poker updates. LIke, tons.

I still cannot believe there is no news on this raid. What the hell is going on???

Anonymous said...

Hockey sold out every night. Too bad haters. You can always continue to scratch your asses for entertainment.

Anonymous said...

This is really turning into the Mike Fleck show now... the Mcall is reporting. "Letter to employees of consultant Mike Fleck says they're terminated as of July 2. Same day that Allentown City Hall was searched by FBI."

Anonymous said...

But why would they stake out the mayor's office if it's Fleck they're after? Guess it doesn't pay to have a Texas Hold Em gambler at the helm...

Anonymous said...

4:41 - I hope you are not implying that potential bad deeds done by Fleck all throughout his handling of Pawlowski would thus clear Pawlowski of culpability. If Fleck's potential misdeeds went to the personal benefit of Pawlowski, seems unlikley Pawlowski would keep the spoils without penalty because he knew nothing of it. You know, like a kitchen in his personal residence. Please explain.

Anonymous said...

@4:41

I don't see anything about Mike Fleck on the MCall's web site. Can you link to the story?

Anonymous said...

Not stating that all. All I am saying is that it looks like the eyes are on Fleck. No one knows for sure....it is all speculation until the grand jury adjourns.

Anonymous said...

It is via Emily Opilio's Twitter account

Anonymous said...

Just an educational note to the hockey fan. There are 365 nights every year.

Anonymous said...

Looks like there was a story also... gone already? You can google "Mike Fleck" morning call... and an article comes up that says "Since that search, Fleck has not responded to calls or texts, and has ... to Daryl Nerl, a former Morning Call reporter who was hired earlier this ..."

But you click the link and it says "We couldn't find what you were looking for.
It could be us, or it could be you."

looks like it was removed about 10 min ago.

Anonymous said...

Most likely because that story is currently being updated. Happens all the time.

monkey momma said...

Oh, now I'm able to get on Pawlowski's campaign website. :)

Anonymous said...

Please update the cronyism section to include other key votes for important issues brought before city council.
1. Julio gurdy friend hired in bldg maintence dept.
2. Jeff glazier got contract for office furniture in city hall
3. Daryl Hendricks son working for city
4. Joe Davis daughter Serena working in recycling dept.
All of the above are classified as must hires
I'm sure I'm forgetting more from city council but with
Something to hold over everyone's head why should they
Question the king on any issue.
Remember the vote on council is always 6-1
Thank God the people had someone honest in
Jennet Eichenwald

Anonymous said...

Allentown: City Without Comment

Anonymous said...

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Hy70VFNenWIJ:www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-ed-pawlowski-senate-race-20150706-story.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

The now removed Fleck story.

Anonymous said...

It is now live and updated.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes.

Anonymous said...

Phantoms hockey did NOT sell out every game, so give yourself a break, Cheerleader/Apologist.

Need verificiation?

Try --- http://theahl.com

Anonymous said...

He's changing the name to H Block Consulting.

Anonymous said...

The website is down again.. Dammit anyone know where I can donate to the king's campaign? Maybe he has an inmate docket #?. Was hoping to contribute $2-5k. Should be good for a $100,000+ city contract for my company.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You can send it to me. Just make the check payable to me. I'll give you a receipt.

Anonymous said...

Morning call says campaign is suspended so when will he resign the mayoralship? I know a couple of gays looking to move into that area, any pics of the mancave?

monkey momma said...

SUSPENDED HIS CAMPAIGN. When will he suspend his mayorship?

Anonymous said...

I'm not into the gay porn scene by any means but I sure wouldn't mind seeing Fleck fuck Pawlowski and Pawlowski fuck Fleck, into the sunset...

Anonymous said...

Who is going to investigate the Police Chief's son getting a job in the Department of Corrections?

Anonymous said...

Hey could you get this Fleck out of my eye?

Anonymous said...

Campaign consultant firm folds: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-ed-pawlowski-senate-race-20150706-story.html

And the hits keep on coming folks!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pawloski's pension is completely safe.He gets it when He resigns.He can't be fired and it will pass on to His widow

Anonymous said...

Anyone looking for an internship?

http://www.internships.com/search/posts?company=hamilton%20development%20partners&location=allentown,%20pa&listingtype=internship

Anonymous said...

This is another hit piece by hateblogger O'Hare

Mezzacappa - No, it appears to be fire associated with smoke, and Bernie was out in front on it, battering the target with the truth as usual. For someone who supposedly values the truth, one would think you would appreciate a story like this.

Anonymous said...

Regarding, the business card issue in the pay-to-play issue at VI, #3 above:

Wasn't the current city controller the one who was passing those cards along when she was in her previous job in the City Purchasing departments? And then Pawlowski funded her controller campaign?

Anonymous said...

What about the $230 million privatization of Allentown's water system? The local company beat out the largest water companies in the country. That's just not possible!!!

Anonymous said...

Councilman Hendricks is running for cover,
Jeff G. also. They are going to come up dirty.
The smart rats are lawyering up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, council falls with the rest of the dominos.
The deal making and ratting out had begun.
It's all gonna come tumbling down.
It's every man for himself.

Anonymous said...

POP! Goes the weasel

Anonymous said...

The entire City Council, with one exception, should do the decent thing and step down.
They're all incompetent and passive accomplices.
SHAMEFUL!

Anonymous said...

Even as a convicted felon?

Anonymous said...

What about pat brown, NIZ champion in state legislature, best friends with oreilly; brown wife making boat loads of cash as consultant retained by many NIZites and those involved in areas (butz?)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Browns payday through wife consulting firm? He is the biggest fish in all of this!

Anonymous said...

Vote Lou Hershman; he challenged pay to play when it all started 10 years ago; morning Call buried it, no coverage

Anonymous said...

Someone's shining a light in the room and the roaches aren't too happy about it!
Good work, Bernie. Watch your back.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:59, dramatic much?

Anonymous said...

Almost a billion $$$ in play and you don't think someone could get hurt @ 5:13?
Stupid much?

Ovem Lupo Commitere said...

You've been on the NIZ since the beginning. Every Morning Call fluff piece the past two years made me all the more cynical, but in the long run, some poetic justice? One has to wonder what Reilly and Topper are thinking about now.... and Browne, something about that name, with or without the "e", seems wrong for the LV. This net may never get beyond the Mayor and Fleck, but there is the potential for the stains to bleed pretty far into the NIZ fabric. Somehow I always get invites to Browne's fancy fundraisers...unfortunately I don't even live in his district to be able to vote against him.

Anyway, as with Dolan, your blog has been ahead of the curve. Great job the past few years! Though it was the politicians who were responsible for their own fates, you kept the light shining when no one else seemingly wanted to.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. They mean a lot.

Anonymous said...

You neglected to mention the payday loan disgrace. Ask your buddy Alan to square that one for you.

Anonymous said...

This has the likes, looks and smell of Lou Hershman and Ernie Kaiser all over it. Have to wonder if Super Lou Hershman is going to try and make a run for office again?

Robert Trotner said...

Have you heard anything about a subcontractor on the Arena named Timasso, who was convicted of bribery in the sane Connecticut scandal that brought down Governor Rowland in the early 2000's, possibly wearing the wire that got the evidence on Pawlowsji-Fleck?

Anonymous said...

Fleck from Easton ?😀

Anonymous said...

Panto from Easton ?

Anonymous said...

Where is Fleck ?.😎

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes and yes, but that means nothing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're a bit late to this game. Do some more reading.