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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Allentown City Council Must Answer to the People Tonight

Allentown City Council's first meeting after news of the federal investigation was rather subdued, but tonight may prove to be different. I'm told one resident intends to call on all Council members who used Miked Fleck to resign. Others will address the sweetheart property purchase that the City provided to entrepreneur Abe Atiyeh last year. He was paid $1.4 million for two properties, nearly three times what the city-retained appraiser, said they were worth.

Instead of relying on the professional work of its own appraiser, Ray Geiger, the City told WFMZ-TV69 that it instead went with two appraisals submitted by Atiyeh, which are obviously bogus.One of them actually projected a Wawa at basin Street.

The reality is that Abe was paid money for property the City did not need so he could buy a billboard company and drop some lawsuits. Although I am not prepared to produce it at this point, there is a smoking gun. Instead of acting for the benefit of the people, Fed Ed deprived them of the right to honest services. The way City Council rubber stamped this horse manure also deprived the public of its right to honest services.

City activist and Brew Pub co-owner Rich Fegley summarizes the spin:

Atiyeh's appraisal was 4.5x more than the City's appraisal? That does not sound legitimate at all.

No one on City Council questioned any of this. Peter Schweyer said there was a lot of planning that went into this spending. ?

Where is the "plan" from the Parks Department? WFMZ says there is none.

Which members of City Council knew about these discrepancies with the appraisals? Which members of Council looked at the appraisals?

Where is Atiyeh's appraisal that the Mayor used to make the deal?

Legally, how can the Mayor and City Council simply approve the purchase of $1.4 million in real estate? Do the Citizens of Allentown even know that this real estate deal between the Mayor, City Council and Abe Atiyeh ever happened? It was simple for them to rubber stamp this.

I will be at City Council to discuss all of these real estate issues in a public forum. Please join me in City Council chambers on Wednesday at 7pm.

Parking meters are $2/hr and they run until 10pm. Don't forget!


Semper pro populus. City officials have an obligation to act in the best interests of the people. When they spent far more than this property was worth, they violated their fiduciary responsibility and helped Fed Ed to deprive the public of its right to honest services.

I better load up on nickels.

69 comments:

AuH20 said...

Good questions all, Mr. Fegley.

Anonymous said...

Two appraisals, one more than FOUR TIMES than the other? That's total BS, and they should have asked the appraisal process be repeated. But they approved the purchase.

Anonymous said...

Why start now?

Anonymous said...

Even a less then competent Parks Director like Greg Weitzel saw the hand writing on the wall and decided to jump ship as this lulu was being hatched,
Peter Schwyer was really pissed off about his former pal Weitzel bailing out. Although like the former shameless Pawlowski booster, Joyce Marin ( I can't wait till she gets called to perform
in front of a Grand Jury ) , Weitzel danced to Fed Ed tune till he jumped ( or was he pushed, like Marin?).
This is leaving a slime trail the length and breadth of the Miricle That Is Allentown.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Randy still believes in "The Miricle That Is Allentown", and when Judgement Day commith, that's all that will really matter.
Dave Jones for Mayor, it's Gods will!

Anonymous said...

MOTA FOR MAYOR
THE TIME IS NOW

Anonymous said...

Oh where to start.

"I'm told one resident intends to call on all Council members who used Miked Fleck to resign."

Not one person will resign because of presumed allegations. No one outside of the US Attorney, the FBI and the grand jury has a clue of what is being investigated.

"Others will address the sweetheart property purchase that the City provided to entrepreneur Abe Atiyeh last year. He was paid $1.4 million for two properties, nearly three times what the city-retained appraiser, said they were worth. Instead of relying on the professional work of its own appraiser, Ray Geiger, the City told WFMZ-TV69 that it instead went with two appraisals submitted by Atiyeh, which are obviously bogus"

What is obviously bogus? What facts do you have that a licensed appraiser would lie to benefit someone else and it the course of that lie would jeopardize their career? If you have such information you should make it public so such an appraiser does lose their license.

"The reality is that Abe was paid money for property the City did not need so he could buy a billboard company and drop some lawsuits. Although I am not prepared to produce it at this point, there is a smoking gun."

Oh really what smoking gun? You are not a journalist so you are not protected by the same laws that protect a journalist from revealing their sources. If you are going to make such bold statements, why not name your "source(s)"? What do you have to hide behind, a blog?

As for Rich Fegley's comments.. His private residence is in Allentown, he pays taxes in Allentown, he owns a business in Allentown, and votes in Allentown. And by doing so he has every right to challenge his government no matter how much I disagree with him... however you don't.


Anonymous said...

It's "surcharge" time!

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Schweyer has a lot of answering to do. Is this how he spends taxpayer dollars?
Why didn't he obtain an independent appraisal? Why didn't he for one minute question this odd situation. He knows the city and surely he should know the Basin Street terrain. A WaWa?

Anonymous said...

As for Rich Fegley's comments.. His private residence is in Allentown, he pays taxes in Allentown, he owns a business in Allentown, and votes in Allentown. And by doing so he has every right to challenge his government no matter how much I disagree with him... however you don't.

Nitwit,
1. The blog is called Lehigh Valley Ramblings (That's all of Lehigh Valley).
2. If it wasn't for O'Hare, this story would never had made it to yout local news.
3. Make yourself useful. Paint yourself orange and get a job as a traffic cone.

Anonymous said...

Wrong again, 1:49 AM.

Any evidence that demonstrates abuse of Allentown taxpayer dollars by the same individuals who are managing a billion STATE taxpayer dollars is relevant. No matter where one lives within the state, uncovering fast and loose politicians with access to so many of our tax dollars MUST be revealed.

The individuals in question here have control of OUR money. We need to know they use good judgment and have a record of fiscal responsibility. Think of this as an old performance evaluation discovered after hiring. ALL Pennsylvanians could find reason to watch these individuals more closely going forward.

Our entire nation needs to demand more accountability from elected officials. Here's a local place to begin.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Don't worry about Allentown. Downtown is hosting cocktail week as if there isn't a care in the world.

Anonymous said...

@7:03
Much more eloquently put, Fred. That's why government is supposed to be transparent and there are no restrictions on anyone (resident or non-resident) seeking public information.

Anonymous said...

Now they have to come up with "funds" to clean up the arsenic contaminated soil.

Anonymous said...

@1:49

Actually, anyone who is a water/sewer customer in Lehigh County has the right to question this deal because that's where the money that went to Atiyeh came from.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:49, I will produce the smoking gun on my schedule, not yours. And theseare no longer "presumed allegations," whatever the hell that is. It is now very clear that the citizenry of lentown was depreioved of the right to honest services. Allentown spent nearly three times what its own appraiser told them to spend. Finally, residency is no pre-requisite to the exercise of the right of free speech. Alletnown is taking enough state tax dollars outt of the mouths of children to give iis all a right to chime in.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Permission to change the subject?

1. The dailies are race baiting the Penn Pump Park issue looking for clicks.
Is it time to call Reverend Al on Palmer Township, or time to move on?

2. Who will be Atown's Mayor on 12/31/15?

3. Best looking local TV personality. Sheena Parveen, Cecily Tynan or Wendy Davis?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let's stay ON topic, please.

Anonymous said...

browne, the drunkard, waived his prelim. Minor stuff considering all the other dirt he and his hussy are involved in. looking for a way out?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hold your breath on this council doing anything at all. Most of them remain delusional that they will A) remain on council post indictments and B) have any realistic chance of being mayor post indictments.

There is no self or collective realization that they are the cause to the effect. Allentown has two problems that have contributed to the failure to govern here: One, a mayor who has had no checks or balances during his terms and a city council completely unwilling to be a check nor balance to anything he's done, absent the lone voice of Eichenwald.

To me, even in some crazy world where this Abe land deal is legal, it shows that council is a bunch of idiots and the biggest bunch of dupes in Pennsylvania. They must buy their cars and houses at asking price, no questions asked.



Anonymous said...

Gary Gorman writes...

BOH: I'm not being combative, just asking a question...

Let's say, hypothetically, I purchase a property in Allentown for $100.00 with the intention of using it to build (let's say) a power plant, which the city (on behalf of the residents) strongly objects. The city approaches me to buy the land to keep it open space and secures an appraisal for the land at $150.00. I believe that I am allowed to counter with my own independent appraisal, which includes how much the land is worth if/when I convert it into said power plant, as I would potentially lose thousands of dollars by selling it to Allentown for $150.00. Then, based on the two appraisals (mine and theirs), a negotiation takes place in order to be fair to both sides?

I could be wrong, but I believe this type of deal happens all over our region(s).

Here's another hypothetical...Let's say I purchase another property for $100.00, but the property is not conducive to allow any type of structure to be built on it, but being the venture capitalist, I get my independent appraisal for $5000.00 and then try to negotiate with the city. I would expect (and hope) that I would be told that no negotiation will take place as the land is technically already "open space" and will remain so, regardless of the appraisal I produce.

What am I missing?

I write this, simply because issues like this often come up in the township in which I reside and has nothing to do with the current mess in Allentown.

Anonymous said...

Nothing will come of City Council's meeting tonight.

Because Pawlowski is not a crook.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gary Gorman, Start from this principle - semper pro populus. A city official has an obligation to act in the interest of the people it represents. It is not fulfilling that interest by accepting a trumped up appraisal by a seller who wants much more $ than his property is worth. Some variance in appraisal is to be expected, but not a factor of 4.5. If the City wants to just buy someone off, it should not be disguised as a property purchase. It should be identified and made part of the budget. Disguising this settlement as part of a purchase price is dishonest, even if it is done for what city officials think is for the best. The situation you depict does NOT happen all over the LV. In Bethlehem, for example, the City itself obtains two appraisals on properties where the value is much lower. Any appraisal submitted by a Seller is immediately suspect.

Anonymous said...

Mr Fegley - Parking meters are $3/hour if you use nickels

Anonymous said...

Mr Gorman also failed to discuss the kickback to the campaign fund which coincided with purchase.....

Can I get Abe appraiser, I have some swamp land to sell the city

Anonymous said...

Do you read books on how to be pissed off 24/7, or does that come naturally?

Anonymous said...

Edwin went to Bible Collage, he is not a crook.

Anonymous said...

People do business and people make money...its kinda how the world goes around..,,it seems you may be happiest if no one does business and no one makes money. Perhaps Abe will buy you a one way ticket to the land of no business and no money for all.

Allentown, Easton, Bethlehem have this thing called real estate. Its parcels of land that serve diversified purposes, each with its own value. Its bought and sold, and people make money. BTW, there were no more snickers bars in the store today, but the guy in front of me had the last one, and I bought it for $5 bucks.

Its hard to believe how sour, jealous and full of hate one person can be.

Anonymous said...

whats wrong, Abe didnt come through with the inside scoop about Fed Ed, blew you off, and now he has to learn his lesson for ignoring O'Hare the great?

ROFLMAO

Anonymous said...

lolz! ^^ great comments. discerning between good and bad business is so exhausting. "people do business and people make money." how true, how true. where is your mba from?

Anonymous said...

Ed is not a crook. This will all blow over, it's just a little distraction in the media.

Anonymous said...

I just finished watching the City Solicitor's interview on WFMZ. She is defending the City for apparenty over spending for the City's puchase of 2 over-priced properties.Why is She doing this ? Seems She must have approved this contract and is defending Her actions. I thought the tax-payers were paying for Her lawyer ? The first words of advice would be don't talk to the press

Anonymous said...

@10:11, if you want to really see a hateful person, check out the blog mentor

Anonymous said...

It only costs $1.00 per hour to parking an Allentown Parking Authority parking deck. This is cheaper than using on-street parking in the central business district. The little extra walking is also good for your health.

Charlie Sch said...

Was the incinerator still proposed on land adjacent to the Basin St. site at the time of the land purchase? Maybe the site was needed for truck access for that use???

Anonymous said...

The city solicitor is having a quiet meltdown.
She's between a rock and Fed Ed and wants out.
Who ban blame her?

Anonymous said...

Will Philadelphia Fran make an appearance?
My money sez NO, his people have him sit this act out.

Anonymous said...

"Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power."

P. J. O'Rourke

VOR

Local said...

A little extra walking could most certainly be bad for for your health.
Do you read the papers. oh yea - most of the street violence in our fine city NEVER gets reported. Take that extra walk but beware of thugs, stray bullets, and folks not knowing how to drive with signals or stop at red lights.
The APA will not be responsible for damage to your car. See how tight the spaces are.

Anonymous said...

Was the contamination cleanup cost factored into the sale price? If not, why not? Who would make this purchase without knowing the cost to clean the site. Also, who would pay top dollar for land considered a flood zone? I cant belive solicitor wild is defending this....unbelievable.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Was the incinerator still proposed on land adjacent to the Basin St. site at the time of the land purchase? Maybe the site was needed for truck access for that use??? "

It never ceases to amaze me how many excuses that Pawlowski's cheerleaders will come up with to justify doing the wrong thing. This deal was dead. It was not dead officvially until a few months after this deal, and was not mentioned at all in any of the apprisals.

Anonymous said...

I cant wait to see rich get tazed and dragged out by his beard.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"People do business and people make money"

That's certainly true and I do not fault Atiyeh for getting every penny he can out of the city. I do fault the city leaders who bought land it did not need for nearly three times what it was woth, and who gave Abe the money he needed to buy the billboard company. City government should not exist to pick wiunners and losers and create uneven playing fields. It should not favor some over others. It has deprived the people of their right to honest services.

Anonymous said...

i hope citizens actually turn up tonight. doubtful, i know, but i keep hoping. challenging council on the internet is never a problem, but when it comes meeting time the same few tired faces are the only ones to be seen. another night of space probes to pluto is more than i can handle. if posters actually plan to make the trip over to shitty hall this evening, try to bring a friend who has not been before.

Anonymous said...

12:05 PM, you have to wonder if major local media will go to the trouble of sending someone.

Anonymous said...

I dont feel like being talked down to by people who've been appointed to rubber stamp.

Anonymous said...

They'll just wait for Bernie to report and one day later report his findings.

Anonymous said...

http://readingeagle.com/news/article/city-councilman-admits-taking-bribe

This may be the first of many. As part of the FBI investigation, a guilty plea for bribery was just obtained from the President of Reading City Council. The statement references two other unnamed politicians.

Anonymous said...

Could the Boy Representatives Little Pete and Mikey share a cell at Camp Fed?
Will Edwin write to them?

TOM GALLAGHER said...

In regards, to the sweetheart land deal, if any party, or parties who approved it, accepted or were promised something in return for their rubber stamp, would that then be construed as malfeasance? As per sections of ALLENTOWN'S HOME RULE CHARTER. (PROHIBITIONS SECTION 209 (G)),(PROHIBITIONS SECTION 306 (D)). If that is true, then would the land deals be void, and the city returned its monies? Then that party ,or parties guilty of malfeasance, should be held financially responsible, for monies not recovered, if any, expenses involved in the recovery, and interest lost while not in the city coffers. I doubt if any questions, answered by city council tonight, will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We're going to have to wait, till the feds release transcripts, of conversations from their little pigeon's recordings. In the interim, we should get somebody working on those stocks, get everybody in the city to save their spoiled produce, and warming up their pitching arms. 'OK, It was just a thought"

Anonymous said...

This City Council is beneath contempt.
I wouldn't waste a minute on these pathetic creeps.

Anonymous said...

Dead Horse to Bernie O'Hare.

You can stop beating me now.

Anonymous said...

It appears the ass-end is still alive.

Steven Ramos said...

Council has used the tactic of frustrating our residents to get us to quit attending and holding them accountable. Let's turn that around. Review the agenda. Most of the items will be dealing with grants the city has received and will also include the hiring of four police officers, 911 funds, and fund transfers.

Agenda: https://allentownpa.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=415999&GUID=64BCE59C-5407-4BAC-AA82-972F64B06A4E

List of ordinances: https://allentownpa.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=415999&GUID=64BCE59C-5407-4BAC-AA82-972F64B06A4E&Options=info&Search=

Anonymous said...

Steven Ramos is living proof that the remedy can be as bad as the disease.
This town has no future.

Anonymous said...

Residents fought the water lease and incinerator debacle. People who spoke up were treated with disrespect by a bunch of rubber stampers. Who wants to attend meetings when your voice has no say in an issue decided months earlier behind closed doors. They will get what's coming cause karma is a mofo. I bet one or two are real scared too.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is that due to Jim Gregory's house being sold at sheriff's sale he will be purchasing a home in Allentown with the winnings he has accumulated in the SCI Pittsburgh holdem game, once Spartacus arrives in the Queen City with his platinum stunner things will begin to fall into place.

Anonymous said...

The newly announced guilty plea by the Pres of Reading City Council proves the first rule of cover-ups. You can lie to your family, your friends and the press --- but you never ever lie to the FBI.

I'm guessing that he was nailed by a Fleck wiretap.

Dennis P said...

Allentown gets an annual stipend from the Trexler Trust --- Some of it is used for purchase of additional parkland ... For a long time when a fertilizer or chemical plant was located on land that the Atiyeh family owned , Allentown had an interest to purchase that piece of land to project the water shed ... As it happened , it never did and when it closed the Atiyeh family purchased the land for its wood cutting business and other purposes ... People from that end of Allentown protested what was going on and wanted the city to add that tract to the park system ... My question, is that one of the two tracts that we are speaking about ... Did Allentown use Trexler Fund money to buy the tract ... And three, did they pay too much for the tract.

Dennis Pearson

Anonymous said...

If you look at the online federal floodplain maps, you will see that both of these properties are 95% within the 100 year floodplain. I can't imagine a company like Wawa would even think of putting a gas gas station within the 100 year floodplain, which is what Atiyeh's appraisal apparently said. Also, large parts of both sites are probably wetlands, which are also impossible to fill in. Federal and state regulations have made it increasingly difficult to get approval to build anything in these types of areas.

I'm not saying the city shouldn't have bought them - but they shouldn't have paid a price equal to sites that are actually buildable.

Anonymous said...

"Steven Ramos is living proof that the remedy can be as bad as the disease"

I thought this blog had a stated policy against anonymous people making such 'mean-spirited' attacks???

Bernie O'Hare said...

It does, but Ramos is running for office and should expect some anonymous criticism.

Anonymous said...

NBC10 NEWS van is already there.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see, a loophole.

Glad to see this blog can't or won't enforce its own stated policy against mean-spirited attacks by anonymous cowards.

We'll see what happens when a righteous Democrat is the 'target' of 'criticism'.

Charlie Sch said...

To answer Dennis's question, the Trexler Foundation funds were not used for the land purchases. Unbudgeted funds from the water and sewage lease were used to buy them.

Anonymous said...

anon 6:10, do you live in a teabagger bubble of hate? Christ man, give it a rest already.

Anonymous said...

Read some of Steven Ramos's comments and understand that the guy may well be well intentioned but he's a lost ball in high weeds when it comes to solutions.
Let me spell it out-/--/ after these crooks are gone there is no real leadership to follow.
Mr. Ramos, confused as he is appears to represent the sum total of the GOP's loyal opposition.
The future is bleak.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:59
Fools and more fools.
Allentown has no future.

Anonymous said...

9:20,

"Bubble of hate"?

Nice bumper sticker slogan.

The future is bleak, isn't it.