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Friday, September 11, 2015

Despite Federal Prosecution, Allentown's Contract Review Bill to Collect Dust

Jeanette Eichenwald and Julio Guridy want more
oversight over city contracts. 
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. Even when I am fit, I suffer from sciatica now and then, and this has been a bad week. So I missed out on Glenn Geissinger's Congressional kickoff on Tuesday at Big Daddy's, one of my favorite restaurants. And last night, I bailed on an Allentown City Council Committee that was supposed to look at a reform bill proposed by Allentown's very own Iron Lady, Jeanette Eichenwald. It would give Council more oversight over contracts. I wanted to be there, especially in the wake of a federal guilty plea yesterday afternoon that ties Allentown Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski to a scheme to deprive the citizens of Allentown of their right to honest services. That should be a wake-up call to City Council. But amazingly, the City Council Committee is sending it forward with "no recommendation."

I like Robert Trotner's running Facebook account. It appears to be surprisingly objective, while maintaining the spontaneity of a person who was in the mix of things. The Morning Call's Emily Opilio has a report as well, and I'd recommend both.

Trotner's running account is as follows:

Joe Davis says he has a problem in that city council has to approve the contract rather than review it. He doesn't like that. Julio Guridy responds that one public hearing is all that would be needed unless there are outstanding issues. It is agreed that council will use as its criteria the 14 point procedure already in effect that Pawlowski was supposed to be following. Eichenwald says Parts E and F cover the point. Glazier says this procedure only covers purchase orders and Eichenwald says "purchase orders" is another term for contracts. Glazier agrees but says the bill only covers notice of purchase orders. He wants to clarify, but wants to dilute the scope of the bill with the suggested language. He also says he wants to amend the bill to say all purchase orders/contracts should be given automatically to council. Davis says we should be clear that negotiations before a contract should be private.

Glazier and Davis are concerned that if council rejects a contract everything has to be started from scratch and then we would miss a deadline and then penalty provisions would somehow apply. Eichenwald points out that if council denies a contract there would have to a sound reason. Also if the administration knows they will be reviewed they will make a better effort than previously done and that in Bethlehem they say that because of this council has never had to reject a contract. Julio Guridy points out that in Easton, Mayor Salvatore J. Panto Jr. also says they have never had to reject a contract either. Glazier and Davis contend that this bill just adds an extra layer of unnecessary bureaucracy when it's clear the mayor follows all the rules already.

I think Guridy, Eichenwald and possibly O'Connell are for this but the other three are against it so far.

O'Connell speaks approvingly of parts of the measure. He thinks the threshold of $40,000 is too high but he's willing to accept it. Eichenwald says she wanted a lower figure too but wanted to make this acceptable to more of council.

Glazier asks Clerk how many contracts would be over $40,000. Clerk says this would cover about 3/4 of all contracts.

Guridy asks if there a women enterprise or small business enterprise special provisions now affecting contracts. Clerk says there is a point reward system now. Guridy wants the statute to give points for that. Glazier thinks we should stick to the text and not go too far afield (even though he wants to amend just about everything else).

Jeff Glazier just said this pay to play legislation does not negatively implicate the administration because he says the administration never abused the privilege. Jeanette Eichenwald vigorously objected and pointed to today's DOJ indictment. She asked Glazier how he could say that. Glazier answers by saying the law makes it easier to decide time sensitive decisions. Julio Guridy says there is a recognized procedure in the statute to prevent that.

Glazier ... says we need to hear from solicitor ... . He's trying to wait for solicitor's opinion to delay after its already been vetted by Bethlehem solicitor and we're the only third class city that doesn't have that.

Tom Hahn questions whether this hits pay to play. Eichenwald says bill 58 to be discussed next is the pay to play bill. Hahn asks, who didn't do their job that this became a problem. He's talking about the controller. Glazier says we just never did it for some unknown reason and that was before his time He says we have to wait fir investigation of the mayor to be done to know what to do. Eichenwald says the Incinerator consulting fee would never have been paid ($1 million).

Glazier says state law (I assume for state grants) requires that the time line between entering into a contract and starting work has to be within a certain time and requiring council approval might result in monetary fines by the state. I'm not sure but I think that's what this is all about.

Kristian Andersen says based on his work with a large forensic accounting firm shows that you need a third party consultant to tell the city how much you should pay before the contract is let. That saves time and money. Glazier and Eichenwald listened intently .

Rich Fegley is here, I just noticed, and will probably speak. Lou Hershman says the contract should come before the council as a resolution and Glazier says that's the way it works. He says since the administration wants the contract to be approved there may be an important negative element that may be hidden. Glazier says no more discussion. Davis recommends the bill be sent to council with no recommendation. This seems to be what Glazier anticipated before the meeting, this was his plan. He wants a full solicitor review and since there are Jewish holidays there will be a substantial delay in a solicitor review. Motion to advance with no recommendation passed unanimously by Davis, Guridy, and Glazier. The bill will be on next Wednesday's council meeting agenda. Eichenwald says she is upset by the delays and will give them one more chance but her patience is wearing thin. My question is why the bill was assigned to Glazier's finance committee and what this has to do with budget and finance.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's time to blockade the Council Chambers are lock these imposters out!

These fools should never sit in those seats again.

Anonymous said...

Sleepy Jeff G. is a real piece of shit!

Anonymous said...

LOCK OUT COUNCIL

Anonymous said...

Everyone should recall the shit show Glazier ran as school board president and not be surprised his incompetence continues on city council.

Anonymous said...

I miss Emma Tropiano

Robert Trotner said...

Correction. Though the bill was passed with the odious and morally reprehensible commendation of "no recommendation, " and in response to my direct question, Jeff Glazier said the bill would be on Wednesday's Council meeting agenda, it was reported by WFMZ at 10 that it won't go to council until the (mayor's) solicitor, Susan Wild, has had a chance to review and comment on it. That, to my mind, is the lowest of the low. Jeff Glazier is leading the charge to deep six this bill because his campaign expenses are being paid by the same corrupt people who financed Ed Pawlowski and Mike Fleck 's corrupted and shuttered Citizens fir a Better Allentown and is beholden to them so he'll say and do anything to kill reform. He thinks the fat cats' money will insulate him from public outrage, but he may have grossly miscalculated on that

Robert Trotner said...

Thank you for using my account. I apologize for any inaccuracies.

Anonymous said...

Glazier is a slug.

Anonymous said...

Many questioned the Lehigh County Commissioners when they turned down Jeff Glazier when Muller tried to appoint Glazier to the LCA Board. Now it's clear that that was a great decision.

Come to think of it, the Lehigh County Commissioners also made it clear that Pawlowski wouldn't be approved when Muller tried to re-appoint Pawlowski to the Airport Board. Again, a great decision.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I've seen of Glazier at two meetings and have watches one video of a committee meeting. I also have this Trotner report.. Whenever I have written to him, he has always responded promplty. That's a good sign. He knows I am a Pawlowski critics and still is willing to engage me. That's an effort at transparency on his part.

I believe he is an intelligent man, and that's an asset on a Council that could use more thinking.

But his conduct during meetings and his seeming arrogance is cause for concern. He is not the President of Council, and it is not his place to tell others how to direct their comments. His behavior and audible sighs during public comment indicate a disdain for the public he is supposed to serve. He is there to serve thenm, not Pawlowski. Finally, his negative approach towards reform is incredibly tone deaf. He simply does not grasp the sense of urgency needed. Plus, where are his own ideas? Why hasn't he proposed a gift ban?

I am unawarte of a single instance in which he bucked Pawlowski. If he has, I apologize, but I'd like to know the specifics.

He has failed to be a check and balance on a ruinaway administration. His failure to ask any meaningful questions about the Atiyeh land deal really reflect on him poorly.

That's my limited observation.

Whethervain said...

"ruinaway administration" ... what a fortuitous misspelling

Anonymous said...

Glaiser IS the brightest of the yes me too hacks on council. This makes him more dangerous, more contemptible, and more likely to serve his time in the hottest place hell has to offer.

Anonymous said...

Sleepy Jeff is a slug.

Anonymous said...

Glaiser is a bright enough piece of apologist
shit, certainly a word apart from that dim bulb
Mota.
There's a freaking dummy.

Anonymous said...

I just began to wonder how many unindicted co-conspirators are still being paid by the Allentown tax-payers.Never really understood the term but it has become clear to Me with all the nonsense at City Hall

Anonymous said...

@ 10:46AM
Plenty.