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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Subdued Public Reaction to Fed Investigation in Allentown

Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild (left) explains the investigation. Jeanette Eichenwald, Allentown's Iron Lady
is the sole member of City Council who stood up to Pawlowski, 
Allentown City Council met last night for the first time since federal investigators raided City Hall in what increasingly appears to be a pay-to-play investigation. I attended, expecting to see angry citizens demanding accountability from their elected officials. But I forgot this is Allentown, where democracy is dead.

To her credit, Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild gave an extraordinarily detailed explanation of what happened and what the City is doing now. She made clear that her office represents the City, implying that elected officials with criminal problems are on their own.  She has directed all employees to send information that they think might be responsive to the FBI subpoena to an email account she had specially set up. She also hired former Ass't U.S. Att'y Robert Goldman to assist in helping to comply with federal requests

"It is our intention to fully and completely cooperate," she stated, and left only after Council excused her. Very classy.

Though two police officers were in the meeting room, they were not needed for a summer meeting audience of 28 people and eight members of the media. The people, who were given an opportunity to speak at the beginning of the meeting, acted for the most part as though nothing had happened at all.

The first one in the dock was none other than Lou Hershman, who I was sure would have several poignant remarks about the federal investigation. I have no idea what the hell he talked about at all.

And so it continued down the line for all seven members of the public who addressed Council during courtesy of the floor. They spoke for three minute segments with a computer screen showing how much time had elapsed and how much was left. At the end, a bell would ding, just like a microwave, letting the speaker know he's toast.

Robert Trottner came closest to discussing the federal investigation when he suggested the need for campaign finance reform. But he had nothing to say about Fed Ed or Miked Fleck. Ken Heffentrager talked about landlord-tenant issues; Kirk Raub droned on about railroads for the gazillionth time, and continued after the microwave oven dinged. Chris Cocca discussed our food truck culture. A woman (I won't name her) complained about being shackled and sent away by Allentown cops for mental illness, while the two cops in the meting room looked at me knowingly.

Denis Pearson, who was inducted into Bill White's inglorious Hall of Fame with me, talked about Pluto.

After courtesy of the floor, I took off to help locate my grandson's missing dog, who decided to go to a meeting of her own.

Whike dog hunting, Dennis Pearson messaged me to say that one person, Tom Hahn, had complained later in the evening about the City spending money to hire a lawyer to help deal with the federal investigation.

Fed Ed was in his mancave, and skipped the meeting.  .

It appears that democracy is still dead in Allentown.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hold on a minute!! The public was able to speak to their government, the same public that voted Ce-Ce Gerlach as the #1 vote recipient during the last election, the same public that did not elect Marc Telesha as a potential candidate member in the general election for city council. As you still stick with that democracy is dead argument... the democracy has an opportunity to raise their voice through votes and public comments. They did and you are upset with the results.. maybe more time stalking out Philadelphia news media is your calling.... since you are a North Nazareth resident that does not own property in Allentown.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't own property in North Nazareth either. But yes, I stand by my comment. Democracy is deadin Allentown, and has been replaced by crony capitalists who buy elections decided by 5% of the population in urban centers like Allentown.

Chris Cocca said...

What I felt in the room was decidedly not the death of democracy in Allentown but the death of the Mayor's relevance. It is not just a ghost, it is a ghost that has been exorcised. So I decided to talk about other things: food trucks laws, the homelessness, Mosser, and safety.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris, nobody owes me an explanation for their words. I was surprised that no one squarely addressed what has been going on. If that is a signal that Pawlowski is no longer relevant, that's a good thing. But I think Pawlowski and Council members need to be called on to explain what has been going on.

Anonymous said...

Public comment not liked to Bernie O'Hare

What happened to let us share and do no harm?

Chris Cocca said...

I agree, and I think they will.

Chris Cocca said...

That was in reference to BO'H @2:39.

Chris Cocca said...

Good point about Ms. Gerlach. Same could be said for Mr. Donovan's strong showing in the mayoral race last time out.

Anonymous said...

Pathetic little planet. I've no sympathy at all.

~ A Vogon warship commander, just outside Earth's galaxy, preparing to destroy Earth in preparation for an interstellar bypass.

Anonymous said...

"But I think Pawlowski and Council members need to be called on to explain what has been going on." Perhaps, after more information is revealed, it may happen. Keep up the good work Bernie.

Anonymous said...

My correction, you are not a property owner in North Nazareth, you are even less of a contributor, you rent and do not pay real estate taxes.

michael molovinsky said...

@4:06, what's the world coming to. allentown news reported on by bloggers who live in nazareth and south whitehall. it's enough to make somebody stay up all night and foam at the mouth.

Anonymous said...

what can anyone say till the subpoenas are issued - horror, disgust, outrage - - all speculation

what do you expect from the morning call, they are in the Zone - cant believe that building has not been sold and re-purchased at the expense of the taxpayers..

you all just want noise to write about, kept up the investigative journalism, the mob will make its noise, eventually, a few new faces on council, the new millionaires will keep their millions and allentown taxpayers will continue to see their taxes rise!

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would any thinking person waste their time addressing this body of fools?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Why in the world would any thinking person waste their time addressing this body of fools?

6:03 AM


why do people go to the zoo? entertainment1

Anonymous said...

Allentown Council = circus - - go watch the clowns (minus eichenwald)

Anonymous said...

People are surprised that Allentown is a dysfunctional shit hole?

Anonymous said...

Bernie - while you where in the hall talking to Mike M, Hershman asked council who was providing oversight, required by law, to a $79,000,000 invest the city has; crickets from council; they had no clue about the oversight, the investment or even where the money was.

The saddest part of the current scandal - no oversight from the controller or council the 9 years, no one has looked at the "books" in years - who knows what has been going on in fortress palowski - certainly the council and controller have no clue!

This is out right negligent; while we speculate about what was committed by whom, council and controller's omissions are factual - they all should resign....

Anonymous said...

Council and controller all ate the poison fruit, campaign $upport resulting from palowski pay and play, and then there are the jobs for family - - have some honor - - resign

Anonymous said...

A wounded animal is capable of doing great damage. People recognize that this is a vindictive regime more than willing to hurt people in whatever way they can.
Hundreds of people understand this firsthand. People are frightened and cautious however excited they may be about the prospect of this rotting structure finally collapsing in on itself.

Anonymous said...

If the FBI is reading this (most likely) PLEASE move this matter along quickly. The good people of that Sad Sack city need you to strike while the iron is hot. Even one indictment announcement will produce faith in the law. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The code enforcement department comes calling if you or a relative speaks up.
This is one tried and true method of stifling dissent.
They are the thugs of first resource in the City Without Limits. They are extremely good at what they do.
THIS IS. A FACT.

Anonymous said...

I know this may sound off-topic, but it's important to address that ridiculous and outdated idea that people who rent their homes don't or can't contribute to the community. There are all sorts of reasons people choose not to take on what can too often be the burden of owning a home. And does anyone really believe that people who rent aren't paying property taxes in the cost of their rent?

Rich Fegley said...

This is the best blog post I have ever read.

This is fucking awesome.

Gina said...

I was unable to attend council meetings as I am many occasions, because unless you are single with no kids, wealthy enough to have a nanny or one of two parents don't work - they are impossible to attend with a child. The same goes for school board meetings, we hate on inner city parents for not being involved but we do nothing to make it easy for them to be involved like provide child care during these meetings... but I digress.

The point I would like to make is that democracy isn't dead. Even if I could have gone - much like Chris shared... what is to be said? City Council (Jeanette aside) has proven they are unwilling to do anything that goes against the machine... should we just pound our chests for a show? No - we PRAY that this investigation finally brings this reign of terror to an end and that as a result we can unseat these ridiculous bobble heads and vote in people who CAN and WILL fight for the residents of this city.

Democracy isn't dead in Allentown - but for the first time in forever - there is actually hope that it will come out of the comma it has been in.

Anonymous said...

Did our representatives actually write a blank check to one Robert Goodman.I am assuming he is the stud criminal defense specialist who represented the legendary John Karoly in His Federal issues.How the world turns as several years back Mr. Karoly represented Allentown City Council.Was M.F.'s mole at the meeting ?

Reality Bites said...

No surprise about this at all. Ed has his stamp on City Council. You actually expected those in his pocket to actually speak out against him?

Ed's reaction has been silence to all this. That's the script, and his lackeys are sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say Democracy is Dead. More like in suspended animation.... Like Walt Disney..


Alfonso Todd

Bernie O'Hare said...

"you are even less of a contributor, you rent and do not pay real estate taxes."

I rent? I thought Angle paid my rent. Of course the landed gentry argument is ridiculous. It's what i exect from someone who does not believe in democracy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gina, I certainly understand and appreciate why you are unable to attend meetings, and would never suggest that you find a sitter simply to address people who give you as much attention as a three-minute egg. Maybe you and Chris are right, and there will be anew attitude in Allentown. In fact, I hope you are right.

Anonymous said...

I support the hiring of Goldman, it might just be that the City Solicitor is showing a wise independent streak. This move may help protect those innocent City employees who have done nothing wrong. Given the complexities of complying with the subpoena, this move makes sense. Besides, when's the last time a legal consultant was hired by the City who doesn't show up on campaign donor lists? I'm getting the impression that Solicitor Wild is making good decisions and that eventually the bad apples will be weeded out and Allentown can start over anew.

Anonymous said...

Why would I go to City Council and speak my mind about the sorry state of affairs here? City Council is part of the problem. City Council does not care about me. They cannot do anything at all until Pawlowski says they can do something. Not only that, but the goons hired by the mayor to inflict pain (in the form of property violations) are dead serious about their hits. I do not wish for personal retribution. I'm literally going along to get along until I can finally leave this city.

The vast majority of residents in Allentown don't care about any of this shit at City Hall, anyways. They can't afford the new restaurants, they don't read the news, and they're only vaguely aware of the scandal that has hit Allentown. The chatter in the Spanish restaurants is complaints about the parking meter hike, not anything else government related. My acquaintances downtown just want to make it through each day - taking a long view on city politics is NOT going to happen with this crowd. It's not that the constituents are stupid - they're just hard working people who know their opinion does not matter and who don't have time to get involved anyways. The few people who would want to go to a council meeting cannot because they are the same people that huge families relying upon them for daycare and meals and income and literally everything else. The only interactions the typical citizen has with government are negative or involve loads of paperwork and waiting in line.

Suburban neighbors care more about Allentown than the residents. Getting citizens involved in the (lack of) democracy will require a radical shake-up from a yet unidentified leader. This is exactly why Allentown is in its current position.

Personally, I think a person like Rich Fegley is probably perfect to shake up the status quo and maybe make a dent in the fortress downtown. Yes, he appears to be on the fringe of many things. Yes, he seems a little...kooky. But he is instantly recognizable. And inarguably smart. Maybe he could be perceived as nice and/or approachable if he could channel his anger that he's displayed at previous meetings? (The anger is understandable, though, and it could be that his anger is what speaks to others.) I do not know him, so I do not know his personality other than what is represented in the media. He has said he's done taking on the City, but maybe that will change. If he were to work with a side-kick who appeared a little more...conformist?...he might be able to really change things. Maybe that Diane that he dates would be that side-kick? Maybe even better would be an ethical and respected leader in the Latino community? Maybe Gerlach? I know it sounds crazy, but I think the passion and morality of Rich combined with someone who is more subdued would be a powerful weapon for the lowly citizens of this forsaken, wretched town. It's just a thought. I have a lot of respect for him, so I hope he doesn't take my words as criticism. He doesn't seem like he'd sell his soul, so he probably can't be a politician, but he could go a long way as an activist working for an ethical political leader.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Rich Fegleym, Ce-Ce Gerlach and Kim Velez would be forceful voices for a new Allentown.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I also agree with the hiring of Goldman. I believe Wild has been the exact opposite of her surname in her approach here. She has distinguished herself.

Anonymous said...

thoughts on where sara hailstone will fit into all of this? she seems to be a link between a number of parties listed on the subpoena.

Anonymous said...

10:03 said: "Besides, when's the last time a legal consultant was hired by the City who doesn't show up on campaign donor lists? I'm getting the impression that Solicitor Wild is making good decisions and that eventually the bad apples will be weeded out and Allentown can start over anew."


Are you kidding me?

She's a Fleck client who just happened to land a cushy job as City Solicitor after she lost her bid for County Commissioner. Go read her committee reports for the pre- and post-general election reports in 2013 to confirm.

She's in that job for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

City council(outside of Jeanette) is a bunch of marionettes with their strings cut now. They have been part of the problem and will very likely continue to be. However this might be the time for the residents to get in their faces and demand they act on behalf of the greater good for a change.

Scott Armstrong

Guy Williams said...

Showing up at city council meeting is nothing compared to the need for showing up at campaign events demanding answers from the current crop of city council candidates. Change comes from drawing the line in the sand and moving forward with relevant scrutiny of the new council candidates. If they are Pawlowski lackeys it will show under public scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

The iron lady is the only one on counsil and the adminisration as a Hole with her sack intact with a set of castiron nuts to her impecable duty and service as a public servant with only the best intrests witch is uncomprehencible to all the clowns that surround humptydumpty, city as well as county level¿

Damm a mouthful for more complicite claiming ununderstandability but clearly STATED¿

redd
patent pending

Anonymous said...

The casually involved observer could expect Hillstone to do 6 to 24 months. That observer, however, forgets that her dad is a big shot attorney and Democratic party boss and powerbroker. This of course is why she has the job. He'll coach her to make the correct deal with the feds, she'll sing and skate with minimal damage and go on to marry a dentist or an accountant and be the housewife she is meant to be.

Anonymous said...

You think for a moment that when this gang hires a solicitor the decision isnt made primarily on its political merit. You must be kidding me? All decisions down there are made primarily on their political merit.
Spare me the bullshit PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

2:36 -

The solicitor is likely a good lawyer, maybe even a pleasant person.

However, she is absolutely part of Team Pawlowski. As you note, those hiring decisions are made on political merit.

I am willing to bet that while she is telling people to cooperate with the investigation (like she really has a choice to say otherwise), she is also telling people inside City Hall not to talk to the press or public. That is a disservice to the residents of Allentown.

She serves the city as an entity, not its people. As noted earlier, she is also a Fleck client.

Anonymous said...

Bernie

When they redid Council Chambers a few years ago, did they bother to add cameras?

I'd like to see the little that was said.

Bernie O'Hare said...

They did, and though the camera was piped into a hallway, it does not appear online.

Glenn S. Hunsicker said...

I was there last night, I don't believe the
"Stage is properly set" to hammer council or the Adminstration until the FED Indictments are handed down and all the players are exposed. There will be more I believe. In the up coming council meetings I surely hope the public will pressure " the players and funding related to this investigation.

Glenn S. Hunsicker said...

I was there last night, I don't believe the
"Stage is properly set" to hammer council or the Adminstration until the FED Indictments are handed down and all the players are exposed. There will be more I believe. In the up coming council meetings I surely hope the public will pressure " the players and funding related to this investigation.

Anonymous said...

TV69 now reporting "target letters have been sent." Attorney Waldron believes anyone who gets one is almost a certainty to be indicted. We should start to learn who was invited to Philadelphia.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Just saw that report. It is misleading. People think those named on the subpoenas are targets. Tgat is not necessarily true.

Anonymous said...

@ 1:24
I'll put my money on BOH!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have no criticism of Att'y Waldron. Tgat is not what I found misleading. What I did find misleading was a discussion of targets followed by the names of people identified in the subpoena. This created the false impression in some people's minds that these folks are targets. Most of them are probably nothing more than witnesses.

Anonymous said...

Hickey thanks you for the protection.

Anonymous said...

6:06 wrote:

"I was there last night, I don't believe the "Stage is properly set" to hammer council or the Adminstration until the FED Indictments are handed down and all the players are exposed. There will be more I believe. In the up coming council meetings I surely hope the public will pressure " the players and funding related to this investigation."


I disagree. We have been told by the Mayor and his Solicitor that the Feds are looking at the City's contracting process. Yes, that's laughable, but let's take it as the truth.

The contracting process is completely and squarely in Council's jurisdiction. They are responsible for it. I can think of no other entity that would have the Feds come in and let the Feds do their job for them. Yes, more information will be coming from the Fed investigation as that plays out, but Council should start their own investigation now.

Plus they're not necessarily looking for the same thing. The feds are looking for criminal activity, Council should be looking for ways to strengthen and safeguard the process. Right now, I don't think the proper process has been adequately explained to the public, and I'm not convinced that City Council knows what it should be either.

By not starting their own investigation, they are neglecting their duties. Even worse, they are giving the appearance that they are somehow involved themselves. Instead of making a move to try to restore confidence in City Hall, they are helping to undermine it.

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding that council person Mota
may be about to assert some leadership and spearhead an investigation.

Anonymous said...

The solicitor is in it to protect Fran and Ed every legal way she possibly can. Another team hack.
People won't forget this, she's sold her soul.