"Bouncing is what Tiggers, Twiggers and Taggarts do best!"
On Wednesday, I ranted about Northampton County Council's decision to reappoint Glenn Taggart, VP of Taggart Associates, to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. County exec Stoffa assured council Taggart's "got nothing going on," and only councilman Ron Angle remained unconvinced. But last night's meeting of the LVPC, confirms Angle had it right all along.
Taggart had to abstain from four different matters in which he had a personal interest. Nothing going on?
What's even more amazing is the conduct of another Northampton County rep on the LVPC, Andrew Twiggar. Guess what? Twiggar is a principal with Dunn Twiggar Company, LLC, an outfit pimping a new development along Allentown's Lehigh River called "The Waterfront." No longshoremen or ex-prize fighters here. Not in this Allentown Shangri-La. The plan is to replace 150 manufacturing jobs at the Lehigh Structural Steel property with 560 condos lying smack dab in the middle of the flood plain.
Jam 'em in there, bippy! Jersey commuters, come on down!
An island for whitey in an Allentown sea of black and brown. De facto segregation. Brilliant! And those manufacturing jobs? Poof! They'll be replaced with jobs for cocktail waitresses, chambermaids and busboys who can't cut it at Bethlehem's casino. They'll be servants as the rest of us whip around in our fancy Rollerblades and cool shades.
Now don't get me wrong. There are many positive positive aspects to this proposed redevelopment, and Our West End Neighborhood features some lovely pictures. But we'll never know whether the LVPC judged this project on its merits or because it was presented and promoted by one of its own - an insider.
Last night, Twiggar, with his Northampton County name tag boldly emblazoned on his jacket, wowed LVPC members as he bounced through a 45 minute slide show.
I doubt he showed any flood pics. According to Angle, no developer gets that royal treatment. And surprise, surprise! The LVPC just loves the idea. Concerns about jamming all those condos in a floodplain were summarily dismissed. "This is Allentown." I understand LVPC Boss Mike Kaiser rushed from the meeting to buy a little captain's hat for the proposed marina.
Twiggar, like Taggart, piously abstained from the vote. But he failed to "publicly announce and disclose the nature of his interest as a public record in a written memorandum filed with the person responsible for recording the minutes of the meeting," which is required under our state ethics act. I've yet to see a local public official ever do that. Let's face it. As an insider, he had an undeniable advantage.
Tiggers, Twiggars and Taggarts have a good thing going. They'll grab a property lying in a floodplain, draw up a fancy plan with hockey rinks, theatres and other baloney, and jam every square inch with condos. Then they'll look for a developer with deep pockets and, of course, some public bucks. And they'll use their inside connections on this and that commission to ease those pesky zoning and planning requirements. They use exotic terms like "project manager," but they're just front men who bounce really well from public to private sectors.
Not long ago, a developer without a front man vainly tried to promote an affordable housing development in South Bethlehem. He only had Habitat for Humanity on his side, and the planning commission shot him down. They were concerned this developer might later sell to someone else. The chair of this planning commission? Why, it's Andrew Twiggar! He should know.
When I first wrote about this on Wednesday, one commenter had this reaction. "I get it now, attack productive businesses, politicians, candidates or people who actually have 'real' jobs and contribute to society on a daily basis. Good -- bad -- indifferent. " Actually, these insiders contribute to nothing but their own pockets. "Tiggers don't like honey." But Twiggars and Taggarts do. And if someone even drops a hint about their real motives, they hire a lawyer to intimidate you. Since Taggart has already threatened to sue me for remarks I never made, I might as well make it worth the effort.
John Stoffa should ask the Tiggers, Twiggars and Taggarts to bounce out of the LVPC. He loves to say, "There's nothing wrong with government, but sometimes, the wrong people are in government." This is a classic example.