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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

To Get the Lead Out, Allentown Needs to Get the Ed Out

You can't drink the water in Flint, Michigan. Local government leaders there switched water sources to a disgusting slop from the Flint River, which corroded lead pipes. As that story was breaking came another of far more immediate concern - a Vox report that 18 cities in Pennsylvania have children with higher lead levels than Flint. This story has been repeated  in various news accounts, driving everyone nuts. But guess what? This is old news. In fact, the Vox story is based on the Pa. Department of Health's 2014 Lead Surveillance Report. Those have been published for the past eight years.

The data clearly show elevated lead levels. What the data fail to show is the cause, although there's a strong insinuation that it is from lead paint in older housing stock.

At a City Council meeting, Managing Director Francis Dougherty vowed to present a "white paper" on the topic for everyone's edification. The use of the term "white paper" suggests an authoritative report that breaks it all down from everyone's edification.

Allentown resident and mother Gina Blevins, obviously worried about her own daughter and other Allentown children, has linked to this supposed "white paper." I am unable to do so directly, but you can read it on the Facebook link supplied by Gina

It is undated, unsigned and extremely defensive.Moreover, it reaches several conclusions without no evidentiary basis. It also manages to contradict itself. It is no white paper, but a talking points memo from an administration that seems to think propaganda matters more than actual facts. This supposed report also lashes out at the news sources that reported the high lead levels. The VOX story is disparaged as "deceptively inaccurate." A WFMZ-TV69 report is slammed as "grossly inaccurate."

The report states, not once, but twice, that the drinking water in Allentown is totally unrelated to any incidence of higher lead levels. Why? Because its water plant won an award in 2013.

That's not evidence.

I've received awards for journalism, but most people tell me I'm no journalist.

The report states that the unsafe lead levels is the result of lead paint in older housing stock, but contradicts itself a few pages later by stating that systematic home inspections have been going on for 37 years, and that 5,000 homes are lead safe.So it's the housing stock, but it's not the housing stock.

This white paper, which even has an executive summary, also blames the problem on its transient community, claiming that most of them come from some barrio, where everyone eats lead paint for dinner. It also blames bodegas that apparently sell food injected with lead, which is nonsense..

This propaganda piece also notes that the problem is limited to poor people, so don't worry. .

What Allentown needs to know is the reason for the high incidence of lead in its children. The garbage supplied by Vicky Kistler fails to answer that question. It can be answered with (1) water quality testing at different points within the City, especially where lead has been documented; (2) sampling for lead at various homes, especially where the incidence is high; and (3) air quality testing at different times, to determine if lead particulates from coal-fired power plants are at high levels.

I don't know the reason for the high lead levels. Neither does Allentown, but the City is perverting its Public Health Department to act as a Department of Spin.It wants in no way to revel anything that might reflect poorly on its embattled Mayor.

To get the lead out, Allentown needs to get the Ed out.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

The City Health Dept. has been involved in lead issues for at least 30 years. They should be able to provide a better understanding of the problems in Allentown than just a few talking points.

"Nothing to see here, citizens, just get on with your lives"

Anonymous said...

It reminds me of what happened for decades in Allentown. Every time a sinkhole swallowed a building, the city officials would be immediately quoted in the press that the sinkhole definitely happened before the water main break, and not the other way around.

People kept asking - how was that neighborhood and the streets were perfectly intact for 120 years with no sinkholes until that morning when a million gallons of water were seen flowing down the street?

I'd like to see a scientific explanation of the degree to which lead test results in blood show or don't show lead exposure that could have occurred years ago when the child was living in other locations.

I'd also like to see more information about how the housing inspection programs have been addressing lead in rental housing. I understand complete lead abatement is very expensive, but that covering it up is often more reasonable in price.

I believe the worst thing that anyone can do is to sand lead paint indoors without collecting the dust.

Anonymous said...

I want to know the exact how many children had 10ug/dl or higher and how many had 5ug/dl or higher? It would seem that the city and the health department are trying to hide these results from us as this "Whitepaper" was the perfect opportunity for transparency and that did not happen.

~Frustrated
~Gina B.

George Ruth said...

Forget about 'sanding' old lead paint. Geez, simply paint over with a good new paint and you'll seal in the existing paint. All this nonsense about remediation is nothing more than a boondogle for government inspectors (more gov't jobs) and the remediation industry. If there is still such an epidemic of lead paint in our houses and schools then that means there has been no new paint put on those places in some 40 years. I have an idea: let's blame Bush!

Bernie O'Hare said...

George, When we have reports of unhealthy levels of lead in children, it is incumbent on government to find the reason. That's why government exists, and Bush would tell you that. This problem is by no means limited to Allentown. It exists in Bethlehem and Easton, too. The cities need to pool resources and get the funding for a proper study into the reasons why children are being poisoned. I agree with your assessment, but want to hear it from someone who actually visited homes where lead levels have been elevated. There should be water quality and air quality studies as well. The latter two probably already exist in some format, so this study would not be recreating the wheel. The "whote paper" prepared by Allentown is a defensive piece of garbage.

Anonymous said...

No matter local, state, nor federal, THIS is the year to "SLAP" our elected representatives (and their administrators) awake.

Only a heavy INCUMBENT loss will do this. Give more thought next time you vote.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

"Whote paper"? What the hell is that?

Anonymous said...

Lead is a serious story. Any reference to Vox detracts from the seriousness, however. Vox is The Onion without humor.

Doc Rock said...

FedEd's Senate campaign report for 4Q 2015 still isn't on the FEC website.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Perhaps it's not rabidly conservative enough for you, but facts are facts. Lead levels are high in numerous Pa. Cities with Allentown taking the lead. If Vox is so concerned about pursuing the liberal agenda, shouldn't it shy away from stubborn facts that make Democratic Mayors look bbad? Are you so caught up in your own ideology that you immediately discount something bc it does not come from the NRA? The facts are what they are. The question is why. This is where a real white paper might be useful, as opposed to the toilet paper submitted by Vicky Kistler and that she failed to sign for some reason.

Bernie O'Hare said...

DocRoc, No it is not, and I was on the phone with both the FEC and the Sec'y of the Senate about that today. The FEC gets it from the Sec'y of the Senate, but the Sec'y of the Senate tells me she did not get it, or it might be somewhere, but is not yet in her office. Once the Senate gets it, it gets passed along to the FEC and is posted online. The FEC has assigned an analyst to Pawlowski's PAC, and that person will take enforcement action if necessary. But that is premature at this point. There is no reason to doubt that it was sent in the mails, but I find it amazing that the other candidate reports are all online.

Anonymous said...

I don't look at Vox through political eyes. Left, right, or center, they're simply a joke that detracts from serious argument.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
in my area lead alone is one of the many issues that have been incubated and even eggsASSperated by fed eds court jesters¿!)$ Than there are the toxic fumes that are being allowed to work there way into the systems from the get your furnace check or be fined by none other than fed eds co-CONspereitors that have the HUD market cornered¿!)$ This involves many a eds underlings underLIEing the browne hole deficit of 3billion at state level¿!)$
Do not think for one minute that this vikki report has not been tainted with palumpas circus sideshow of chalk and paint to make the taint what it ain't¿!)$ Just ask doc as to gender specifics and the opperable inopperations as to havin the havenots¿!)$

By the way WHAT WE A DRINKIN let alone breathin in the toxiCITY of uneggsaustable fuel oil fumes from said property inhabitated and bought and sold undercover under colur of home school circus law seperated but collectivley one as a browne hole begining with the now defunct patt white in a multicultural area multilisting tool, one in the same with the LLC twiztz at the end¿!)$ The cancerious masses must be eliminated decreed the king from church on the runs podiaum at the last LCCC meeting of pverty pimps extraordinair¿!)$

nosigNUTureneeded
patent pending Republican

Anonymous said...

Based on the definitions of "white paper" I found, this pile of junk indeed qualifies.

Anonymous said...

The problem is, NOTHING coming out of Allentown can be trusted right now. So long as Pawlowski is in office, and those already plead guilty/indicted are actually sentenced, nothing will change.

Doesn't matter if Pawlowski is determined innocent in the end of all this. It's too late. There's NO going back. The "black cloud" already won.

Fred Windish

Robert Trotner said...

You're absolutely right, Fred!

Doc Rock said...

Many "white papers" come in rolls and end being full of s***.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yes, indeedy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

sign your name or i have no interest in your hate.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

With Systematic Rental Inspections the problems associated with old lead paint would have been handled as a matter of routine. If Ed Pawlowski had not pulled the plug on Systematic Rental Inspections the city would be a very different place than it is now. It would have completed 3 inspection cycles, many unsafe and illegal units would have been remediated and/or closed down.
Ed Pawlowski not only stopped the rental inspections program he terminated those in code enforcement who knew and understood the problems associated with housing that in its best light may be viewed as "historic".
Now the chickens are coming home to roost and those like Allen Jennings/ Bill White(and many others) who closed their eyes to the truth in Allentown should take a good hard look in the mirror and see the guilty party staring back.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

It's all very safe to use your name --- if you live in Naz., or your family owns multiple businesses.
Being self righteous doesn't do you justice BOH.
Write it off as hate.
Keep protecting the corruption administrations cheer leaders.

Anonymous said...

The ReNew white paper on regional water issues is a matter of record, as is it's impact (XERO) on the critical, and fixed, process in the Queen City.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:34, You are just a coward and i have no respect for you. I don't hesitate to take stands here in Nazareth as well, or in Northampton County. People like you slime innocent people anonymously bc you know you'll be sured for libel if you crawl out from under your rock and ID yourself. I will say Fed Ed is a criminal. He has my address and can come after me if he wants. You hide in the shadows and attack people who are very likely assisting the investigation, and make homophiobic remarks to boot. What an ugly person you are.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, This is more than an Allentown problem. It is a regional problem. A failure in Allentown does not explain the high incidence in Bethlehem and Easton. Nor does South American transients from the barrio, as is laughably mentioned in the white toilet paper. This is a matter that cries out for a through study Lehigh Valley wide of (1) water pipes, (2) housing stick and (3) air quality. Some of that work may already be done. Let's determine the real culprit and then decide what to do.

Anonymous said...

What would Paul Keller say about the hateful homophobic remarks?

Anonymous said...

Who cares when we have minor league hockey.

Rich Fegley said...

Water, housing and air quality. Agreed, these are most important right now to examine in the Lehigh Valley.

The DEP and EPA are not going to protect us. They "work" for the politicians and corporations nowadays.

That is a sloppy white paper.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Because the other cities do not do, have never done systematic rental inspections to find such problems. They should.

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, that is not accurate. We are talking about 18 Pa cities, and some of them have and enforce systemic inspection laws. Bethlehem has the authority to do systemic inspections, but does not bc the system is too easily abused. I believe Easton is the same way, if memory serves.

Anonymous said...

Allentown Health Bureau has not been monitoring or following up on children with high lead levels for over 2 years. When the PA Dept. of Health stopped funding lead programs about that time, the city never picked up the ball and fund the program themselves. They just dropped it completely. Seems no one is asking them about this.

Anonymous said...

I know the Allentown Tenant Association is attempting to do a right to know on the status of inspections. I have lived in the same rental unit for just shy of 5 years and we've never had an inspection. We were once told by the landlord to expect one last year but it never happened. I guarantee that is the case across the city. Our rental is top knotch we have no issues with our landlord or dwelling but I know that isn't the case with a lot of city rental units. I am hoping they have luck with this endeavor, it will be interesting to see.

~Gina B.

Anonymous said...

The worst "white paper" I've ever read. It is an incoherent rambling of some facts, some opinion and some clip art. Clip art in a white paper. Amateur. How are you to take anything in the "paper" seriously?

I don't know what Vicky Kistler has been doing at City Hall but research and writing are not two of those things.

The decision to offer a white paper almost immediately after the release of the report is at best reactionary, at worst, defensive with something to hide.The report could have been a call to action but City Hall seems intent on only playing defense.








Anonymous said...

Bernie,

If other cities in PA have Systematic Rental Inspections that is news to me. Which cities are they?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

I quick check on the internet seems to reveal Erie and Altoona have systematic rental inspections. It seems just as clear they are both recently adopted, very likely modeled on Allentown's now discontinued effort.

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott, I am unable to answer until tonight.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

If you find more then I will see that as progress for PA urban areas. When we passed SRI in Allentown in 1999 there was only one city (Bloomsburg, if I remember correctly)with such an ordinance.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

That white paper needed some clip art saying "Happy Monday!"

Monkey Momma said...

Who wrote the white paper? How did Ms. Blevins find it? Is it an official document? I only ask, because it's not clear where this was published, or if it represents the City's beliefs. This whole situation is awful, and it is very sad that we cannot trust our local leaders to do anything more than cover their own asses.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The whote paper is undated and unsigned but is believed to be the work of Vicky Kistler. Gina Blevins found it on agenda items for City Council. It represents the administration's position, but i don't think it represents the City's position, or that of council.

Julian Kern said...

Just FYI....We did do a right to know requesting inspection dates on all residential rental units in the city and our response was that there are no records.