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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Three Liens Filed Over NIZ Arena

Allentown's hockey arena, known as the PPL center, has cost taxpayers at least $160 million. But believe it or not, none of the construction work was publicly bid. So it should come as no great surprise that Alvin H Butz, whose top employees have poured tens of thousands of dollars into Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski and his puppets over the years, was selected as general contractor. No performance bond was required either, notwithstanding state regulations that require them on projects build with state tax dollars. Now the taxpayers are dealing with three mechanics' liens filed by subcontractors.

AmQuip Crane Rental, I.B. Dickinson and Kenseal Construction have all filed liens over invoices that were sent out as the project was finished. It appears that the Dickinson claim has been resolved, but the others are in litigation.

It is common for general contractors to delay payment as a project is completed. They less they pay out, the more they can pocket. But because no performance bond was required, Butz could theoretically walk away and leave taxpayers holding the bag.

This is just another indication of the complete lack of oversight that has gone on with the NIZ. The City's webpage does not even bother to identify its secretive board, which never posts its meeting minutes.

Initial board members included Seymour Traub, Gregory N. Dudkin, Alan Jennings, Pedro Torres, Bill Grube, Diane Scott, Nelson Diaz, Jennifer Mann. Snyder resigned, and I am unsure whether Mann's service on ANIZDA ended with her term as a state representative.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nothing would surprise me about Lee Butz et.al Does he even pay rent in Allentown ?

Anonymous said...

Prosecute every single one of them.
Scoundrels!

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful venue. Only nutcases would want to see its demise. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

You don't mean the Jennifer Mann - possible mayoral candidate?

Anonymous said...

This looks dirtier by the day. But, with government, sometimes nothing is done about it and only the taxpayers lose. Let's hope prosecutors will be aggressive, but you never can tell anymore who really pulls the strings. Written laws mean less now. This COULD become a strong message for better municipal government across the country.

Anonymous said...

For many locals it is awful to read the Butz family may have done illegal activities with this construction project. If ever a business knew the ropes, it has to be theirs.

Anonymous said...

Someone suggested a receivership officer be appointed so current council cannot tap mayoral replacement.

Anonymous said...

What a shame. Hopefully the Feds can bring those greedy scoundrels to justice.

Anonymous said...

no mention of the drunkard, crooked browne and his even sleezier wife

Anonymous said...

Not being a troll, but couldn't these just be legitimate payment disputes? That was a project with dozens upon dozens of subs. People argue about amounts owed and things like change orders. The time to file a lien is short so the sub liens the project. I have seen it happen in the smallest of transactions. What's happening with the mayor is really sad (and scary) and one way or the other justice will be done. With that said, in a matter of days you have gone from "don't jump to conclusions" to creating a NIZ boogeyman. For me, you have not connected the dots.

Anonymous said...

No story here, just typical end of job stuff,everybody will be paid what is owed to them

Anonymous said...

What were the amounts of the two unsettled liens?

Do we know what contractors were invited to bid on arena construction besides Butz?

Anonymous said...

Did Marcia Hahn and her buddy Joe Emrick vote for this NIZ?
The 2 stooges of local state reps. If you rub them together and sprinkle moon-dust, you might come up with ONE good idea.

Anonymous said...

Hahn is my report and is focused on the gun nuts and fisherman and pushed out the state party agenda via email. Nothing original coming out of her little brain.

Anonymous said...

'Hahn is my rep'

Rich Fegley said...

What was in the contracts for the NIZ Arena? Who makes these decisions? Who picked the decision makers?

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-arena-cost-overrun-20150507-story.html

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:04, The fact that three liens are filed is not the point. The lack of a performance bind, lack of bidding and poor oversight create an atmosphere that leads to these liens. And no, this is not common in a public works project, but seems to be the norm in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

You are jealous of the arena and how successful a project has been. You are jealous of anything successful since you own life has been such a failure. Sour grapes, no more, no less.

Anonymous said...

This "success" is about to be exposed, even without any local newspaper or TV coverage to speak of.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:12 PM You are a delusional, histrionic troll. No more, no less.

Any more cliches you want to wear out to death?

Idiot.

Anonymous said...

Is that why everything cost 2x to build?

Dennis R. Lieb said...


Two points,

First; the long range success of the Arena and associated development are far from secure. Empirical knowledge shows that a well integrated multiplicity of many buildings, owners and business venues are the historic signs of successful downtowns.

There should be sidewalk access to storefronts and other commercial and residential venues at no more than 25'-35' spacing along streets for lively and safe, pedestrian-oriented daily street-life. Not out-of-town vehicles pouring out of parking garages en-mass before and after isolated events. Large footprint towers, over-scaled for the size of the city, are problematic for more reasons than time allows to discuss.

This civic design knowledge has all been thrown in the dumpster - along with the architectural history of the commercial corridor - for a big bang project and monolithic architecture.

A short primer on such things can be accessed here: http://bettercities.net/news-opinion/blogs/dan-zack/21681/strategies-good-urban-retail

One must remember a few things: minor league hockey franchises come and go. What assurance does the success of this mega-building have if the franchise leaves? What financial barrel will the city be held over in replacing it?

Also, redundancy and resiliency are keys to commercial district success - by that I mean many different things going on at the same time so that a few failures can be replaced as they happen with new opportunities and not have your downtown dependent on the success or failure of one or a handful of huge buildings.

Allentown may be gaining office and residential rental units but their future rests on filling the needs for all the missing products and services that working people need without having to leave the walkable city to get them.

Second; in the past Alan Jennings has taken full credit for the NIZ idea. I know this because as a former employee of CACLV he bragged about it in multiple tours of Allentown I was included in. He actually asked us the question of how many Pa. cities qualified for the NIZ designation. No one in the group except me had that answer, which at the time was of course one: Allentown.

He seemed to take pleasure in that fact - as if he'd pulled a fast one on the state. I on the other hand looked at it as a fiasco waiting to happen, which began with the suburban revolt against the funding structure and has now seemingly ballooned into who-knows-what with this FBI probe of Pawlowski.

I don't hear Alan bragging much anymore about the NIZ. It should be a lesson to other cities: their is no panacea for success just because you can fund something with other people's money. It still takes nuts and bolts understanding of how local economies work and a rigorous evaluation of municipal return on investment.

I for one have no idea if either of these aspects have been fully understood.

Anonymous said...

Financed by endless taxpayer dollars is not successful. I could build dog houses for a living if the taxpayers would fund me win or lose

Anonymous said...

Let's talk about the ppl building thats going to turn into a ghost building because of the niz. You can't compete with the niz.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said, Dennis.

Anonymous said...

I think i saw trish hitchhiking or practicing a massage on the sife of the road.

Anonymous said...

Alan had been a major supporter, enabler and apologist for this train wreck since day one.
He is WAY too bright to claim deniability.
As for Mike Fleck, he's a bit play.
There's much bigger fish about to fry.

Anonymous said...

With great respect, Dennis, I think you're wrong about the success of large footprint, over-scaled buildings.

Warmest regards,

Martin Tower

Anonymous said...

No wonder that Lieb guy was rejected. You are wasting air with your diatribes.

Anonymous said...

@4:38
Is that all you've got?

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Dennis is just crazy!

Sincerely,

The Miracle That Is Reading's Hockey Revival

AuH20 said...

Does Obama know his FBI just raided his Chicago buddy? As bad as this might be it can't be as bad as the IRS violation of conservative groups rights, the Clinton Foundation nonsense and other Holder-ignored fiascos.

Anonymous said...

Anybody making book on how long before these new milennial-tageted towers become Section 8 Housing?

Anonymous said...

One wonders if the Americus Hotel guy that is getting screwed by Cy and the gang got this ball rolling.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Are you sure the arena was a "public works project"? Because if it was, I don't think you can put a lien on a true public works project. I think it was considered a private project and thus their ability to lien it.
JOHN M

Bernie O'Hare said...

John, the exact concern you mention was raised and rejected in POs, but you are basically correct. Though you and I both know this is a public works project, ANIZDA has claimed it is really not bc there is an outside chance the hockey arena will be purchased. They used that fiction to get around bids, but suddenly became the government when liens were filed.

Dennis R. Lieb said...

I forgot something in my earlier critique of the NIZ. Whether this connects back to the current investigation is beyond my knowledge. Fleck is (or at least was until he left town) a board member of CACLV as well, and probably responsible for contributing a certain amount per year to remain in good standing. I got off boards because I can't afford to do that stuff. Of course Mike had "other alternatives".

When he was still pretending to be a citizen of Easton he was on a non-profit board here that required a not-insubstantial financial obligation from members each year. Mike bad-mouthed and undermined a grant application to the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership that was prepared by a neighborhood resident.

That money ended up being diverted to Mike's non-profit instead. I'm sure that org. did nothing wrong and didn't even know about it, but Mike's mistake was bragging about it at a public dinner. Apparently the contribution didn't have to be cash out of pocket but alternately the result of lobbying for grant funds on the org's behalf.

He simply made the mistake of saying this at dinner when the person sitting a few seats away was someone I know who then told me.

How the worm turns.