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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, February 05, 2016

Allentown: A Pa. Version of Detriot

The difference between a guy like Steve Thide and myself is that he knows what he is talking about and I don't. It's Dr. Stephen Thode, incidentally, and he is an Associate professor of Finance at Lehigh University, as well its Director of the Murray Goodman Center for Real Estate Studies. He has an extensive knowledge of real estate trends. For a time, Bethlehem was lucky to have him as a member of its Planning Commission.

From the onset, he has been a vocal opponent of Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ). Although Morning Call columnist Bill White didn't go quite so far as Alan Jennings did in singing the praises of that Potemkin Village, he did make the mistake of claiming that Allentown is "much better off" than it was before Edwin Pawlowski was elected Mayor.

In an op-ed published by The Morning Call, Dr. Thode explains why both Bill and Alan have it wrong. Calling the NIZ "Pennsylvania's version of Detriot," Dr. Thode notes that the City not only poached businesses from outlying communities, but did so from within the City itself.
"In fact, the NIZ is the most distasteful example of crony capitalism of which I am aware: Wealthy businesspersons make sizable campaign donations to politicians; in turn, those politicians pass legislation to divert taxpayer funds to some of those donors; those donors then use some of those taxpayer funds to make more campaign donations to ensure that the cycle repeats itself. Endlessly.

"Does that make the people of Allentown "much better off?" I suggest you ask them."

Updated 4:40 pm:
I spelled Detroit wrong, but Detriot does the trick as well.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

BINGO!!

Until people, regular people, put on their thinking caps and realize this nothing will change. They are blinded by Political Parties(thinking that matters), they are blinded by Capitalistic propaganda and religious propaganda that makes them happy to be fleeced and used.

The Bernie Madoffs of the world still exist. Most of the US banking and Wall Street conspiracy is still a great Ponzi scheme supported by the political establishment(which includes both Political Parties. Don't forget the media, all the media, every last one! They all profit off the status quo. People's lives are acceptable casualties

We are all chumps and being played. That is why the only viable solution to the corrupt corporate/political partnership in this country is the election of Bernie Sanders. We need a political and economic revolution. Send a real message that you get it, and they will take notice.

Anything else is just brain dead bullshit. Wake up Americans.

Anonymous said...

Bernie - some of us have been saying this from the beginning. and when the floor fall out and the fire sale occurs, who get stuck, Pat Browne, Mann, Vader, Oreily, and Butz,?

NO the taxpayers get stuck with the bill, and the new mayor will start selling off what is left, the park system?, to pay the bills!

Anonymous said...

This is a classic Tony Soprano burn-out scheme, gentlemen call it a ponzi scheme, but the the Lehigh Valley Dutchmen, Inc, are no gentlemen....just a greedy bunch who have been ravaging the Valley for many decades, Brown, Mann and Oreilly are just the newest members to Dutchmen Inc... founding members Morning Call Millers, Butz, Old man Jandl, Schnelling, Bausch - look who owns Lehigh County - -old old money....some of this crowd had family members running up and down hamilton street when the real Liberty Bell was in the basement of the Zion Church!

Anonymous said...

Amen 3:33, Allentown is just a symptom of the entire nation. It is all rigged. We are all being played like chumps. It is a zero sum game at this point. They get the cash and we get the shaft.

Anonymous said...

The only thing we can really do right now is to make the decision not to patronize any business in Allentown. There are so many other choices!

Anonymous said...

I still have a flicker of hope but, as others have correctly pointed out, our problem is built into the entire system. There is PLENTY of blame to go around in explaining why our region, our state, our nation are failing us.

DO NOT expect those currently serving in political office to do much of anything to fix things. Their mission is to remain IN office. A politician does that by playing both sides of an issue, hiding their true, selfish contentment. Covering their cowardice as best they can. The first choice for many politicos is to "stay out of it all," and hope the matter passes by without harming the special place of privilege they achieved.

We "little people" have few options to upset what has clearly become dysfunctional governance. But, there IS a way. It will take courage, though.

I am calling for each of you to step out of your normal pattern, forget about political party, and vote against INCUMBENTS. By switching out the "players," in a BIG way, our new representatives, and those who survive such cleansing, might finally snap to attention.

Such a sweep WILL work, but it needs YOUR help. Are you ready to shout?

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

Bernie
The bottom line to Allentown's lead paint crisis is code enforcement. Twenty years ago city hall allowed, encouraged, even welcomed the deconversion of single family ownership row homes. Where once a neighborhood wouldn't consider allowing their properties to look unkempt, now who cares. Sadly, home ownership continues to be one of the most significant indicators of a community's value and respect for its citizens and thus, its children.

Anonymous said...


Gee, he has a big house. That's not right. I should have a big house too. It is amazing how many people who have never done anything but bitch about everything are the first to criticize people who actually take personal risk to accomplish something. Reilly and Topper needed to do NOTHING about Allentown. Those guys could buy their own islands and sip cocktails for the rest of their life....from money they made themselves in other tax paying businesses. Nothing inherited. Allentown was a swirling sewer before the NIZ. Without it all you would hear is the flush that finished it off. Pawlowski is and always was an ass and irrelevant. His perp walk can't come too soon.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Dr. Thode's theories. Take a five minute drive down 145 to Center Valley's beautifully designed but entire floor empty office complexes where today ground is being dug for yet another building! Three of these properties have
huge for rent signs on the front lawns. Is this vacant office space a result of the NIZ, doubt anyone will speak the truth.

Anonymous said...

But for the NIZ and the risks being taken, what would down town Allentown look like now and in the future? How is Allentown to be revitalized without the NIZ. Instead of all the dart throwing how about some ideas on this blog sans NIZ?

Anonymous said...

@6:40 They did NOTHING for Allentown. Built some buildings, with other peoples money while they reap the profits. When the NIZ proves unsustainable, they will walk away with their pockets full to leave their shiny new toys to rot.

Rather than Detroit, it seems that a more accurate comparison would be to what the casinos were supposed to be for Atlantic City. Fancy new hotels along the Boardwalk, but if you went one or two blocks to the west, it was a disaster. Now look where AC is.

Take a good long look A-Town, there is your future.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Detroit, today's news highlight's the mayor's office knew of the lead poisoning almost a year ago.

Rich Fegley said...

The curtain is being pulled back.

Will the FBI bring Allentown into the national spotlight?

Will Allentown corruption become a topic of discussion in the 2016 election?

Will Allentown and the NIZ show the world how corrupt a little American city can be?

Anonymous said...

Bethlum follows suit as they attempt to build just to build under the guidance of the unqualified dced. Their lead problems are a big deal also. Guess who presides over health and codes. Yep the already lost in space bare foot contessa. Will this political appointee get the lead out?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the Call building for sale? What does that say about the paper?

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

While doing research on the article I wrote on Detroit Public schools for the NWL observer, I did see this as a trend to the future. But please folks don't blame capitalism, the greatest economic system for the advancement of all. Its the fact that the governments have made it near impossible to succeed without being connected to the system. You can call it extortion, if you like. Why do we have everyone giving contributions to politicians, either to protect themselves from the politicians or to enhance their position. The problem is the government,(politicians) now decide whether your business will live or die. The bigger and more profitable you are the bigger target you are. Everyone is one federal, state or local law away from either prosperity or failure. They have way too much power, they need to be stripped of most of the power they have, this is only done by taking away there source of power, the money they extract from the citizens. Where the money is the Vultures are circling. The government has become the great arbiter of who will succeed, who will fail, and one day who will live or die. Today sorry to say, the easiest way to succeed and prosper is to be connected to government, either working directly, teachers unions, government unions, or do business with government. This results in guaranteed success at the expense of the taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Bernie recently wrote about government officials from one agency simply moving to another. The disease continues only different.

Anonymous said...

715: you're an idiot. stop. no one is listening to your drivel.

Anonymous said...

Governments now force parents to inoculate their children even against their will.

Anonymous said...

DETROIT BANKRUPT. ALLENTOWN -------------- ? We are comparing the two ,are we not!? It seems cities no longer exist for any other reason but to honor labor union shakedowns. Allentown has a 100 million budget. What part of that budget goes to salary ,benefits ? What is left to buy asphalt,supplies. The time has arrived. It is so expensive to pay a city employee that we no longer can afford to fix anything, the park system is a prime example.Did I hear that the fools want to build a park for the Canine-American community. WoW

Anonymous said...

The NIZ is the greatest tax scam ever perpetrated upon the citizens of Pennsylvaia., but it's a legal tax scam. The arena was the Trojan horse. Out of it came the NIZ as we see it today. The philosophical rationale was based on the theory that for decades the suburbs were "raiding" downtown businesses and merchants, and relocating them to greener pastures. In effect, the NIZ is a form of reparations, i.e. now screw the suburbs and bring the users back home. Totally artificial and not painless. What new jobs have been created other than what's in the surviving restaurants? The State certainly hasn't benefitted from the creation of new tax sources because there aren't any new sources. That why the NIZ should have been structured like the CRIZ,i.e. only net new businesses and job growth create the tax benefits which result in artificially low rents.

Anonymous said...

8:05 AM is an astute observer. The NIZ is, for the most part, an overly expensive, wasteful failure. One with chance for a recovery growing LESS by the day.

Curious, no one seems to discuss suspending the plan that covers Allentown. Surely, there's a way.

Fred Windish

Patriot2 said...

The New business concept of the CRIZ prevents poaching but still undercuts existing businesses with state taxpayer subsidized funds. Why should my tax money support someone to open a new restaurant down the street from a restaurant that is trying to make a living the old fashioned way? The CRIZ should not permit sales tax receipts to be captured by developers to fix the problem with that legislation. Meanwhile don't shop or dine or stay in Allentown center city or you are voting for a state tax increase!!

Anonymous said...

Lead in Allentown. While the code thugs were getting rid of the unwanted in NIZBERG., the kids were ingesting lead dust . The fool known as Glaasur states: That's because we test more. That must be some good twist . Our health people are all over this . Don't worry a White Paper is being written and no doubt a TASK FORCE will be formed to study this and obtain a Federal Grant . . Did I hear one word about this from a community activist,a public official, code enforcement , theSOS speech. Did anyone say anything. Maybe it's nothing never mind!

Anonymous said...

If Alan Jennings had presented his well thought out housing observations about Allentown within the economic and political framework offered by Stephen Thode in his opinion piece today, the Lehigh Valley would have a much greater understanding of the real issues it faces and Mr. Jennings would have much greater acceptance of his position. Unfortunately for all of us, that "if" is probably too big of a hurdle to overcome and it is too late to re-direct NIZ resources into something that would deal with housing in a way that both Mr. Jennings and Dr. Thode seem to suggest.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Detroit. Allentown, you're no Detroit.

But you still have a chance. Just keep electing people who thinks unions and government are the only way to make things work, strong arm a few "capitalists" to give it a semblance of "market economics", and then add a touch of victimhood and minority politics. Like this guy.

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/07/how-coleman-young-ruined-detroit.php

Then, you can aspire to be a REALLY decrepit city.

Anonymous said...

There are other unaddressed issues too¿!($ This being the decaying water infastructure that has many lead feed lines that should have been replaced many years ago¿!($ But than we have more of the same, FEDeral dollars allocated for such and than missapropreated for the many twiZtZ of the moment of time¿!($ Time passes and more and more become causualties of the Z third world nation allentown has become unto itself¿!($ The DICKtators appoint props for there henious crimes against allentown humanity¿!($ Same OZ behind the curtian proping up political parasites as the fall guy¿!($ The vatican also plays its part in the circus too¿!($
redd for Republican
patent pending

Anonymous said...

What new disaster will next week reveal in the CITY WITHOUT LIMITS ?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The statement made by Glazier has to be perhaps the most ignorant statement I've ever heard from a government official. What kills me is he should not be saying anything. He wanted to be Controller, was appointed to that position, and a controller has no say on policy. He is now supposed to be a financial watchdog. he is no longer there to make up ridiculous excuses for everything that goes wrong. He is there to talk about the money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Governments now force parents to inoculate their children even against their will."

When it comes to protecting the public safety, government has every right to require vaccination against certain disease. I don't want some child I love to get polio bc some asshole like you is making a point.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bethlum follows suit as they attempt to build just to build under the guidance of the unqualified dced. Their lead problems are a big deal also. Guess who presides over health and codes. Yep the already lost in space bare foot contessa. Will this political appointee get the lead out? "

Full of hate, aren't we? Your commment is completely OT.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"But for the NIZ and the risks being taken, what would down town Allentown look like now and in the future? How is Allentown to be revitalized without the NIZ. Instead of all the dart throwing how about some ideas on this blog sans NIZ? "

Fix the schools. Fix the neighborhoods. Shiny buildings mean nothing, as people are discovering.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The bottom line to Allentown's lead paint crisis is code enforcement."

I don't accept the notion that there is a lead paint crisis. I'd need to see a bt more than some report on vox. I agree that it needs to be examined immediately, but the word "crisis" is premature. Let's not jump to conclusions.

Anonymous said...

After our Director of Federal Grants gets the funding needed to redo every hovel in town, A government job training program can be established with the local never employed ,I think 120 hours of classroom time would be about right. This time is just for painting. We must of course pay prevailing wage and transportation, We'll need supervisors of course . We'll have to establish day care options. There will be no box on the applications.I've done a little back of the napkin calculations and have a number, this includes moving all present apartment occupants to a 3 diamond or more hotel, a per diam of 100 dollars per person. we can do this for $11342.87 per 10x10ft. Room.

Jamie Kelton said...

The good news this week is that the Americus will re-open.

The question remains, however, is it a viable business in a city with as many hotel rooms as Allentown already has?

Anonymous said...

The Atlantic City analogy is much closer to reality here.

Bernie O'Hare said...

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/1228CD14_1-7-16.pdf

Anonymous said...

BOH @ 11:07 AM: "Fix the schools. Fix the neighborhoods. Shiny buildings mean nothing, as people are discovering".

OK, we agree---shiny buildings mean nothing or almost nothing, BUT let's talk about fixing schools. Limit it to schools alone for the moment. How do we go about it? It's a steep climb.

We already repeatedly have proven that throwing more money at the problem doesn't work. Anyone that still thinks it does, like our idiot Governor, ought to take his head out of the sand. Repeating the same solution, spending more money, and expecting a different result--is indeed lunacy.

While not all public school districts are created equal, broadly speaking our URBAN public school systems are nothing more than a gigantic "holding pen" or a "babysitter" for EVERY CHILD regardless of their abilities or disabilities. The public system is ever expanding downward and upward in age and services such as providing meals, ever expanding the entitlement mentality and eschewing self-reliance and independence.

We might consider chopping bloated administrative costs, hiring/firing teachers on merit instead of simple tenure, but what does that really get us? It doesn't solve the family disintegration and/or failure to discipline. The former is a generational fix, the later, merely takes the WILL.

Maybe its time to take a good long hard look at "public education"?

Maybe SELECTIVE merging of the 501 PA School Districts would be a stop-gap measure?

Maybe, the radical thought of just allowing the public school system to fail and to be rebuilt is the solution?

For the amount of money MANY (not all) people pay in school taxes, they could likely self-educate their children with online education and/or part time private school and achieve the same results our public system is achieving?

I don't know. I don't pretend to know. I only know that saying "fix the schools" isn't the answer, it is merely the lead into the real question: HOW?

This much I do know. Looking for Federal or State solutions is NOT the answer. Government is best that resides closest to the people. Perhaps, if a few more people voted in Allentown, we wouldn't be in this fix? But then that would require, what? An education and self-reliance. Unfortunately, it seems the vicious cycle can only repeat itself until there is a disaster? I hope not, but it isn't looking good.

Sign me old and sad. :(





Anonymous said...

How indeed.
One thing for sure, nothing productive happens until the current mayor shipped off to the federal penitentiary.

Anonymous said...

A major step in fixing urban public schools is improving the ratio of responsible adults to students. Class size really DOES matter, particularly for children from non-traditional, even dysfunctional families.

This is undeniable. Ask any teacher working in a city public school. Kids WANT to do the right thing and get approval from an older person. If their need for acceptance and confidence is not adequately met, they will seek this basic human need in all the wrong ways and places.

But, this is getting off-topic.

Fred Windish

Ray Nemeth Sr said...

208 is asking the right questions, the answer is something that most likely cannot be repaired, and that is a stable home life, with parents that are not substance abusers, who are both in the home, who teach responsibility and values to the children. Who are not dependent on the government.That will probably not happen until after it all comes down, and only the industrious , responsible will survive, like the early settlers. It could get very unpleasant until then.

Robert Trotner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Did the Morning Call through Bill White under the bus? He should stick to Christmas lights and Drunkfest food.

Anonymous said...

Consider the total madness of Pawlowski. Look at his eyes.A big man in a little town. He got to hobnob with relatively wealthy people knowing full well that he could never come close to playing in that league. They did use him by his own choice..He was in on things, he felt important,he is the MAYOR, he has a staff. This is it slick-- it's almost over now. This is a RICO bust--- he'll get nothing but time and fines. Let's watch and learn from this pathetic little man. He was the toll taker.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Old and Sad at 2:08,

You ask how to improve schools in a culture that fails ti understand or appreciate the importance of education. I won't pretend to know. There are many people out there who have made a career of education or who are natural teachers and who have a better understanding than I. Last year, I saw research indicating a correlation between reaching children early and subsequent success. All day kindergarten and really focusing on reading in the early years pay very big dividends, even in impoverished areas.

I know a lot of the kids in Allentown and they are great kids. I also know of groups like Wall2Wall that work very hard to build the self-esteem of these kids. I believe if we focus our attention in these areas, we can make great strides. But onc e again, I am no expert. I just think i am.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Did the Morning Call through Bill White under the bus? He should stick to Christmas lights and Drunkfest food."

Hardly. To maintain any credibility at all as a news source, especially after all of its NIZ propaganda has blown up in its face, the Morning Call has to allow some opinions that diverge from the usual pom poms. They can usually count on Ce Ce Gerlach as a useful idiot bc she is not educated and does not present well. They can smile at her and pat her on the head. Steve Thode is another story. He has been a forceful voice against crony capitalism since the onset. He could have named his op-ed, "I told you so."

Anonymous said...

"But please folks don't blame capitalism, the greatest economic system for the advancement of all. Its the fact that the governments have made it near impossible to succeed without being connected to the system"

Please Sir, don' push this nonsense without historical perspective. Capitalism is just like any other "ism", a soulless theory that makes no allowances for humanity. Unchecked capitalism gave us child labor, black lung disease, bailouts,etc.. From the earliest days forward it has bought politicians and political parties.

The purist idea that somehow pure, unbridled capitalism has ever existed is a dream you Ayn Rand readers love. Facts are facts government can only pick the winners and losers that the major capitalist who bought them will allow.

Please stop trading in "isms" they are no longer relevant to the truly intelligent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Robert, Please rephrase your remark. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Bernie O'Hare said...
I don't accept the notion that there is a lead paint crisis. I'd need to see a bIt more than some report on vox. I agree that it needs to be examined immediately, but the word "crisis" is premature. Let's not jump to conclusions.


I agree fully with Bernie. What hype. If the simple opening and closing of windows spew lead into the air in houses 'built' before 1978 then simply repaint the window trim in those homes. Fact is I'll bet the vast majority of those dwellings have been painted multiple times over the past 40 years.



Anonymous said...

In 1992 Ross Perot said this"We have got to stop sending jobs overseas. It's pretty simple: If you're paying $12, $13, $14 an hour for factory workers and you can move your factory South of the border, pay a dollar an hour for labor,...have no health care—that's the most expensive single element in making a car— have no environmental controls, no pollution controls and no retirement, and you don't care about anything but making money, there will be a giant sucking sound going south.
...when [Mexico's] jobs come up from a dollar an hour to six dollars an hour, and ours go down to six dollars an hour, and then it's leveled again. But in the meantime, you've wrecked the country with these kinds of deals"

And so you have the allentowns and detroits of the usa.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Ed Pawlowski bagged Systematic Rental Inspections when he became mayor. Instead he raised the fees associated with the voter approved initiative and used the additional revenue to fill voids in the general fund. The Rental Inspections program was on the lookout for exactly the types of code violations that would lead to lead exposure.That has not happened since Ed ended the program. Perhaps we will find out the lead numbers aren't correct, but can anyone say that rental units in Allentown are up to code and provide a safe place to live for Allentown's many renters?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Bernie could you please give me a call 484-239-4805

Anonymous said...

Please look beyond the vox article. Going to the 2014 PA Dept of Health report that is cited in the article contains much more information...and none of it is good for our Allentown kids. I can't link from my phone, but you'll find it by searching "PA dept of health 2014 lead report"

Anonymous said...

I was in downtown Allentown on a near coatless day in early December at around noon on a Friday. I would have thought that the sidewalks would have had a fair number of workers stepping out to grab lunch. I walked from 4th to 10th along Hamilton because I was curious to see the "miraculous" office and restaurant transformation that people were talking about. The sidewalks were nearly empty. There are still are a significant number of vacant and half empty buildings and not all of the restaurants were open. The only businesses that had a good number of customers were the two urban clothing shops that were there prior to the NIZ. I looked into the new ice cream and crepe shop, which was closed, and I imagine that this is what Pyongyang, North Korea is like. It was unsettling and cold. The only authenticity and happiness were the pre-NIZ clothing stores.

Anonymous said...

Pawlowskis never supported Systematic Rental Inspection.
Scott Armstrong and Alan Jennings will both confirm this.

Pawlowski used his disgraced protégé and Lieutenant, Fred B. in his Senate promo film.
The man is fucking shameless.
The First Lady's pastor from the Church on the Run is trying to back away from this criminal.
Too late Pastor Randy, you're and fraud and all of us including your son know it.

Anonymous said...

Ed didn't support Systematic Rental Inspection because ABC was involved in some dicy shit.
Ask around.
This guy didn't suddenly turn bad.
He's been playing fast and loose since the beginning.

His pal in the Ed for Senator vid got caught and left town in disgrace after he was exposed when
Pawlowski tried to slip him into his administration.
People have short memories.

Anonymous said...

Can anybody get a rough count of the new jobs in the NIZ? I agree with a poster above who says he/she never sees any of the 'thousands of new works' that the Morning Call continues to write about.

Anonymous said...

Everybody is having lunch at the Morning Call lunch room before it leaves!

Anonymous said...

The mayor is innocent until proven guilty. He has not even been charged with nay crimes.

Anonymous said...

"I am not a crook."

Anonymous said...

5:40 am
Write here write now, ACTing with illinTENT to sell off the water with knowledge of the many many octapuss of lead lines feeding his slumlordian counterpart campaign donors that by the way are allowable to have the innocent indigent childrens children inhabiting 1 bedroom apt numbering two too three familes¿!($ This is not even mentioning the facts of inhabitating the unfit for human habitation uninhabitable single family dwellings that houwse two and three families that are taxing on this failing infastructer, than there is the infamous time under his tenure trying to get help for the many many children that have sucum to crimes against humanity on American soil were I personally saw a child in diaper that had bugs on it and could have been a commercial for his church on the run and there unicef seeking donations¿!($ This was only one of many reprehencible sights seen with plees of help to his office and the Browne Hole administration¿!($ Him and his counterpart campain contribitors should have there transformational transgretional signs read NO CHIL LEFT ALIVE¿!($
Ooo, I took scrapings of the lead line in biroute while UGI created a diversion for propoGATED propoganda professed¿!($
Early morning twiZtZ to there ommisisions and commissions ACTS of ignorance of FACTS fake and put to print as homeschool rule decreed king political parasite poverty pimp extraordinairly backed by OZ claiming to apponiant in this colluded dilluded illusion of the massive madoff scheem of the triboro¿!($
redd for Republican
patent penting

Anonymous said...

We don't need no stinkin' Systematic Rental Inspection.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you are not aware of the secret subterranean pedestrian tunnel network .