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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mike Molovinsky, Self-proclaimed Loose Cannon, Blogs About Allentown

Michael Molovinsky, erstwhile independent and controversial Allentown mayoral candidate, has a blog - Molovinsky on Allentown. This is apparently the successor to his WAEB web page, Molovinsky's Musings.

He claims to be a "nonpartisan catalyst for policy change in Allentown and the greater Lehigh Valley," but I've noticed he likes conservatives and dislikes liberals.

Lehigh County exec Don Cunningham, a Dem, is dismissed as a "junior Rendell in training pants." Cunningham's popular proposal to give soldiers a real property tax rebate, is insensitively derided with this cheap shot. "I suppose the applicant would have to have documentation from the Pentagon, with blood, urine and stool samples. While the politicians get cheap headlines, the taxpayers always get the rubber glove." In contrast to Cunningham, "English-only" Emma Tropiano is beatified. According to Molovinsky, her departure "was also the end of decency in Allentown's political arena."

But Molovinsky strikes a chord with me when he talks about wasting public tax dollars with outright grants and concessions for economic development. It's refreshingly honest. I'll give you an example. Damien Brown's Our West End Neighborhood presents an upbeat and optimistic attitude about Allentown development. Get a load of this. "Change is in the air in Downtown Allentown. As spring steps aside to make room for the summer heat the economic development and renewal challenges that have plagued Downtown Allentown appear to be making way for a steady rebirth of interest and investment." Brown claims he could fill a daily newspaper with the great things happening in the Queen City.

But Molovinsky paints a much different, and darker, picture.

It seems in the end, market forces always prevail. Despite almost a million dollars in fa├žade grants, and KOZ status, the new tenant at the CityLine Building is just another check cashing store. Although taxpayers put in $683,000 in the Farr Loft Building, half the apartments for yuppies remain empty, and the promised upscale restaurant for the first floor ended up being another sneaker store. Butzy had the middle class dancing in the street for one day to celebrate HIS tax break, but the usual walking zombies were back by the next day. While our tax dollars are squandered on tax abatements and photo-opportunities, the streets get dirtier, ruder and more dangerous.
Molovinsky's dark views about Allentown, in which he blasts local businesses, pols and city residents, got him just 3.49% of the popular vote in his mayoral campaign. In that race, the Morning Call only wrote a few, and mostly negative, articles about his candidacy. It even refused to allow him to participate in a debate even though he had made it onto the ballot. Allentown NAACP prez Daniel C. Bosket also demanded Molivinsky prove he's not a bigot. How the hell do you prove a negative?

But Molovinsky himself might have stated why voters soundly rejected him. "I'm a loose cannon."

Loose cannons make lousy mayors. But the blogosphere is full of loose cannons, so Mike has found a home. He'll even be allowed to debate here. But Mike, I think I would have got 4 per cent of the vote.
Update: The Morning Call has just set up Queen City Daily, dedicated to Allentown, manned by eight reporters and editors. How many actually live in Allentown? Molovinsky blogs about Allentown, but an anonymous commenter claims he resides in South Whitehall. Is residency a prerequisite?
Update #2: Chris Krewson, one of the eight Queen City bloggers, kindly answers my question: "One of us lives in the city. The rest of us spend more than 40 hours a week (each) in and around the city, and many have worked here for years." And that's precisely why Molovinsky's residency does not really trouble me.


J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

This guy has Constition Party written all over him!

Anonymous said...

In theory, I support facade and building grants to revitalize neighborhoods, but I agree with Molovisky that it's doing no good to use that money to support check-cashing and sneaker stores.

Molovisky's website asks important questions, but I don't see him fleshing out any specific solutions other than to say 'no' to grants. His old blog contains mostly criticism for others. While it's easy to point out the flaws in other people's ideas, it's much harder to come up with actual solutions.

I hope Molovisky accepts the challenge to come up with specific solutions and share them on his new blog.

Anonymous said...

I think it is very important to note Molovisky does not live in Allentown. He lives in South Whitehall Township.

This guy exaggerates his points to the point where they pretty much become lies. Go to the Farr Lofts website and see how many units are still available, 3 out of 20. This is hardly half. Granted, a sneaker store might not be what we all had envisioned but it is the nicest sneaker store in the valley, and it is certainly an improvement from the dollar store that was there.

Most of the other Allentown bloggers you link to actually live in Allentown Bernie. I will accept their opinion on the state of the city long before this guy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:50,

I know this was a campaign issue, but it was pretty much bogus. If it had any merit, someone would have challenged him.

He asks important questions. And I'm happy to see someone with a conservative point of view because the local blogosphere is pretty much on the left. As much as I like to think so, we don't have all the answers. Molovinsky, as LVH notes, needs to offer a few solutions.

Anonymous said...

Here's a solution, make allentown a gated community, and make it mandatory for all the "ricans" to live there, then rename it North San Juan.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Those "ricans" are people just like you and me. But it's nice to know that, in the 21st century, we have a segment of the LV advocating apartheid. Bigotry is alive and well.

Anonymous said...


It is not a bogus issue at all, he lives in South Whitehall, ask him yourself. He will probably tell you outright.

During the campaign he temporarily switched his address to one of his rental properties in the city to circumvent the issue. No one ever investigated if he actually moved to the rental property because no one considered him a serious candidate.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:48,

Apparently, he never was a serious candidate. And if he switched his addy to A-town without moving his family there as well, he'd be in big trouble if anyone challenged him. But no one ever challenged it. That's why I consider it a bigus issue. If someone doesn't follow the election laws, you file a prtition to have him removed from the ballot. No one did that.

But as I understand things, we're not talking about some absentee landlord who suddenly appears on the scene. We're talking about someone who grew up in South Allentown and whose S Whitehall addy is only blocks from the city limits. And he owns property in A-town and does business there. I don't think you have to reside in A-town to be qualified to speak about it.

Of course, I'm still very interested in the views of other A-town bloggers. And if they live in the city, they may have a better understanding on some points than Molovinsky. But I like differing viewpoints.

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

Anon 10:30 could very well be a latino as well. I can't tell you how much racisim there is among latinos toward other latinos.

National pride is rather over the top in some latino circles.

I can not tell you how many latinos have made very racisit comments about Puteo Ricans over the years to me.

Heck a few PR's have made racisit sterotypes to me about other PR's because those ones hail from the bronx.

And segregation is very alive and well. Want to see gated communites where minorities are prodominate residents Bernie drive a hour north to Monroe County and See PCP (aka Pocono Country Place, yes its called PCP like the drug for short)

The realitors up there put them there on purpose. Also Saw Creek in Bushkill and Lake on the Pines were built the same way. The realitors/developers there would call minorites all types of racist names behind the scenes. My mother was a secretary in a office for Hickory Lane for 3 years.

They fired her when she asked for a raise BTW!

Oh and the Pocono Mountain School District East is mostly white. And west is mostly minorities, but race had nothing to do with that decision by a all GOP school board!

Bernie O'Hare said...


I don't care about the ethnicity of the person who made that bigoted remark. But I'd agree we can find bigotry everywhere, and our communities and schools are becoming increasingly segregated.

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

and Molo looks like a "Evil tom Brokow" btw!

I wonder whom "Evil Tom's" Greatest Generation would be?????

Chris Casey said...

Wow, the things you learn reading blogs at lunchtime! i thought his name was Molovinsky, BTW. Until we moved to the Western Burbs, my wife lived her entire life in Allentown. Does that mean she can't speak knowingly of it? Of course not!
As for the remark that set off the bigotry alarms, I wonder what's wrong with a neighborhood having a cultural designation?
Chinatown is a cultural mecca, and while maybe an exception, I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where a most prominent neighborhood was "German Village." having a neighborhood identified by the ancestry of its' inhabitants shouldn't have a negative connotation, but a positive one.
To me it speaks of a place of belonging for families from that cultural heritage.
I see a leadership in Allentown that is trying. They are not glossing over the bad, but dealing with it head on. I don't know the specific answers, but I give Ed P's administration credit for at least attempting to deal with it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chinatown is not a fenced off community. The remark was bigoted.

Chris Casey said...

I'll grant you the remark was obviously bigoted, but....what I was trying to say is that if the Latino community referred to an area as their own, by their own name, it wouldn't bother meat all.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I don't know where the 'n' went when I was typing this morning. I'd claim it was a typo, but I spelled his name wrong three times in the same post. My bad.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVH, If you misspelled the name, it's only bc I did so throughout my post and even the headline. I even spelled cannon as canon. I've been making cirrections asd I notice the spelling errors.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"cirrections asd"

"corrections as"

See what I mean?? My spelling in comments sucks. But I try to get it right in the post.

Anonymous said...

Molovinsky does not live in Allentown.
Damien Brown does live in Allentown.
Molovinsky sees my city as a shit-hole.
Brown sees it's potential (although perhaps through rose-colored glasses.
Are you telling me that these facts aren't related?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 6:46,

I think I would pay a little more attention to the words of someone who lives in Allentown. You make that point very well. The only point I'm trying to make is that residency is not the only factor. Where people work matters, and some of us have a fondness for certain areas.

I have to admit I really like A-town. I thought it was a shithole for many years but gave it a second chance after reading so much of what Damien has had to say. He's very persuasive and has lots of wonderful pics. I think he's missed his calling. I've turned into an A-town fan, but I still try to be realistic. Molovinsky will add some balance.

My favorite LV city is Bethlehem, and my favorite all time city is Philly.

Thanks for your comments.

michael molovinsky said...

anon6:46, your incorrect. my past,present and future is invested in allentown, and its where i spend most of my awake time; moving a few blocks west doesn't change one's attitude. i know damien well, our differences are based on age and memories. too often, the problem in allentown, is who does live there. worry about transients passing through for 6 months, not concerned citizens sleeping in south whitehall.

Anonymous said...

What a major league douchebag!

Whenever I see ego-idiots, assholes, phoneys, fakes, and political poseurs like this dickhead, I immediately think:

"Less competition."

P.S. Listen, numbnuts, why don't you try getting elected dog-fucking-catcher or Village Idiot before you continue your fantasizing, mental masturbating, and pretending that you're actually smarter than ANY elected official, anywhere, on any planet.

P.P.S. You couldn't lick Don Cunningham's ass if NASA trained you to do it.


DB said...

I would largely have to agree with the anonymous post(s).

While I do not think active city residents should go to battle with non-city residents over city issues one cannot forget that the current framework of fragmented governments in Pennsylvania is the root cause of all of this (see many of my other posts if you are not sure what i am talking about). It is no coincidence the situation is identical in every city across the state.

How concerned can one really be about equatable school funding if they live in an area that benefits form the disproportionate system of distribution, especially if the kids a few blocks down the street are the losers. At the end of the day, people in PA have decided to simply fight to protect what they believe to be theirs.

MM and I have had this discussion many times. This is why I believe none of his proposed solutions include anything outside of the control of city residents or city government, even if suburban residents live "only a few blocks away" and are part of the same local economy and community.

Urban renewal in Pennsylvania cannot happen without the buy in from people in the burbs, there is no doubt about it. But urban renewal will never happen if people from the burbs are given free reign to finger point and ridicule without opposition when they are the primary beneficiaries of our city(s) disinvestment by both the private and public sectors.

Finally, if so many people were not so eager to move few blocks west there would be not void for transients from other metro areas to move in and out of.

The cycle must end now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hey, I thought I was the major league douchebag!

P.S. You need to open up. Don't hold back.

P.P.S. Why would anyone want to lick Don Cunningham's ass? Is there something you need to confess?

DB said...

I don't agree with the last anon (9:51) post

Bernie O'Hare said...


Thanks for your comments. I'm sure you don't agree with Anon 10:30 either.

Anonymous said...


You know you are my hero. If I ever grow up, I want to be just like you. (Except my inflatable girlfriend will have bigger tits.)

The point made by your post is well taken:

Any MORON can post his or her egotistical and erroneous bullshit on the Web about any public figure. Hey, it's a free country and a free-speech Internet!

But, free speech works both ways.

When rational, sane, and well-informed people (the vast majority) come across these cockroaches, they need to stomp them until their little bug-like brains splatter and then throw them in the garbage where they belong.

Now, if YOU like to dine on cockroaches, go for it. But I like a more substantial, factual, and thought-provoking diet when it comes to sampling the smorgasbord of LV blogs.


P.S. I meant to say that chucklehead there wasn't even qualified to lick Cunningham's ass, let alone comment about his record as an elected official.

P.P.S. Sorry for getting you unduly aroused...

Michael Drabenstott said...

People in the suburbs need to realize that when Allentown sneezes, Lehigh County catches a cold. (Same with Bethlehem and Easton over in Northampton County.) Eventually, the problems of the cities will only spill out into the townships. That's not just the Lehigh Valley -- that's state-wide. In my opinion, the answer is more regionalization of government so we all have a vested, inescapable interest in what's happening from the urban core to the suburbs.

Regarding the status of Allentown, I've lived in the city for 17 years now. I certainly believe the city is on the rebound. Overall, there's more good news than bad. (I'm not claiming there's no bad news.) When Hess's/Bon Ton closed about a decade ago, who could have imagined the quality commercial space that PPL and Butz would construct on that intersection? Who would believe a brew pub coming downtown? Or new condominiums being built? Or an arts park opening? Or an ambitious proposal to develop the riverfront into mixed-use neighborhood? I'm not delusional: the city has many challenges ahead. But on the whole, the trend is positive. I'm more optimistic than I was 10 years ago.

Chris Casey makes a great point. In other cities, ethnicity is celebrated: Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Havana, South Boston (Irish-Catholic) and so on. It's going to take a generation or two for people to accept the change that's happening in our Lehigh Valley cities. I truly hope the new generations embrace the diversity that's coming to our area rather than disparage it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Michael D,

Whoa! While I'll agree with you about the need for regionalism, I'm not crazy about some of the other things you mention. Some of those could turn into real disasters, and I don't think they've been scrutinized closely enough. The riverfront development, in particular, is distrurbing to me. It's being built in a flood plain. It's building somethin A-town does not need. And I'm sorry but I think that project promotes de facto segregation. And it won't be long before the devbeloper has his hand out asking for some type of assistance.

I have no problemn with celebrating our different heritages. I do have a problem with planning that encourages a division.

But I know you care passionately about A-town, as I've seen in your comments to Damien's blogs. Perhaps you're right.

michael molovinsky said...

in response to damien(and lehighvalleyhousewife), all to often our elected officals offer solutions that are not solutions at all, but distractions from more simplistic steps that could help. today for instance, lisa pawlowski talks about solving homelessness,
G-d bless her. pawlowski,cummingham and heydt talked of regionalism, as if parkland or east penn will ever really want to shoulder some of allentown's problems. while on the other hand, hazleton simply "offended" many problems away.(please don't take this as a anti-hispanic statement- rather a anti-transient population who may well have illegal baggage) i proposed redirecting the community block grants to infrastructure, instead of the current social agencies which lever the money to grow themselves and in turn attract more and more problematic people from out of state. i offered no solutions for poverty, homelessness, etc., just strategies to spare allentown the burden.

Anonymous said...

MM, you said that you suggested redirecting the grants to infrastructure. Could you be a bit more specific? That word conjures up different meanings for different people.

michael molovinsky said...

during the daddona era allentown replaced all the sidewalks from 4th to 7th, from turner to chew sts. the funds may be used for capital improvement programs, allowing more tax dollars for service, such as police. allentown since heydt has concentrated on low-income housing and service, continued by afflerbach and of course pawlowski, who was himself the director of the alliance for building communities. it was ironic that heydt had a soft spot for low-income housing, much like bush with immigration.

michael molovinsky said...

the alliance for building communites gets a substantial amount of the block grant. they are rebuilding a row of houses across from central fire station that should have been torn down years ago. instead of increasing the density in that neighborhood, perhaps if a pocket park with basketball court would have been built instead, less bottles would have been thrown from windows last week.

LVDem said...

"they are rebuilding a row of houses across from central fire station that should have been torn down years ago. instead of increasing the density in that neighborhood, perhaps if a pocket park with basketball court would have been built instead, less bottles would have been thrown from windows last week."

You are unqualified to be mayor if you make statements like this. It's the attitude that was used in the 1960's under Urban Renewal Practices that destroyed neighborhoods in Easton and even in Allentown. YOu don't tear down quality buildings in a city to build parks. They needed some repair and got some. Tearing down buildings breaks up the block and often times contributes to problems of loitering and the like. The fact that the buildings were repaired showed that this was possible. Density in the city is good. I'll also point out that I live in that neighborhood.

And if I had more time, I would give you an introduction on how the market really works. It's not a free flowing, unaltered thing that the right likes to think. It is structured by society, government and values at every twist and turn. Asking to "let the market dictate" outcomes is effectively saying, "the current system works for me, don't touch it."

Bernie, I think you are asking important questions about the riverfront project, but they are only plans right now. There are few details. Let's continue to ask those questions as the details emerge and not say it is a bad project. And for the record, flood plans can be built in. They just require incredible planning.

Damien, it's not urban renewal that we advocate. It's community revitalization. Urban Renewal knocked down buildings and built suburban scaled projects. Community revitalization seeks to capitalize on community assets.

michael molovinsky said...

lvdem, if there ever was buildings which should have been torn down, its them. #1. they were simple houses devoid of any style #2 they were boarded up, leaking and in disrepair for many years, requiring complete makeover far exceeding their value. #3 they are directly across from the firehouse, putting children in danger everytime the fire engines exit (a playground could have been set far back from street) there is no rational reason for them to be restored, so although you feel i'm not mayoral material, i think you would make a good college professor, liberal and deluded. because i post under my name what i know about real estate is a matter of public record, what you know is speculation. you consider yourself some urban pioneer, and probably moved here from out of town, overpaid for a beautiful house in old fairgrounds, and now want a trophy for living there.

michael molovinsky said...

lvdem, this, 732 to 738 chew st. were NEVER quality houses, they were basic, plain, devoid of any architecture and not maintained for many years until they were discarded and leaked for many more. you are the first person i know to express support for that particular project. i would appreciate other readers driving or walking by and opining. the parcel in discussion is a white brickcoted row directly across the street from the central fire station, on chew between 7th and 8th. i say the neighborhood would have been better served by a small playground set back from the street or better still, a backup area and safety zone for the fire engines.

LVDem said...

I know where you are talking about Mike. I walk past it every time I go to 7th street for some good Mexican food. I also know that a play ground across the street from a fire station would be really dumb in that block. AS far as the quality of the building, allentown has a history of tearing down just about anything it can find (go look at Hamilton Street). These buildings survived for good reason... they were solid buildings. And most of my neighbors in Old Allentown (old fairgrounds are on the other side of 7th street, but what do I know) are happy to see them in use. Just b/c they are not the most ornate buildings, doesn't mean you knock them down b/c there are boards on the windows. There was nothing structurally wrong with them. The just needed the necessary upgrades. Many buildings in Old Allentown have the same venacular features as those buildings.

Just so you know, I do economic revitalization/development for a living. It's not a hobby, and I've actually become an authority in the field, traveling around the state providing services on these matters. I deal in real economics, not in the economics of imagination or wishful thinking. I conduct feasibility studies, property appraisals and business plans to determine what is possible and what is lost. If those buildings couldn't be saved, I'd be the first to say, "sorry, there is no feasible market use for that building." The building wasn't in disrepair, it was in need of significant repair. If the building was in disrepair, then the repairs that were made could not have been made. And now people call them home (at least one of the units from what I saw this morning).

But since you know so much about the delusion folks in the world, I'll take your advice.

LVDem said...

Oh, and I did move into the city (have lived in the LV for my entire life, except for college when I lived on SE PA). I don't want a trophy (or even a cookie for that matter), just my neighborhood to be kept in tact and improved. That's why I volunteer throught the neighborhood and work with my neighbors.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mike, This is not the Bobby Gunther Walsh show. people here will talk back. And as someone who has learned the hard way, expecvt to be told when you say something dumb. Don't make the mistake of attacking LVDem because you disagree with him, or assuming things about him that are untrue.

michael molovinsky said...

sorry bernie, i didn't think telling someone that they were college professor material constituted an insult, especially after anon's suggestions for me. those houses on chew st. speak for themselves, it appeared to me from looking in that they had to gutted to the bare walls because of prolonged neglect. i understand the fire department rightly wanted them to provide proper, safe backup space for the engines. do a drive by sometime and see them for yourself, this is a project only an agency using grants would have considered.

michael molovinsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michael molovinsky said...

lvdem, i'm familar with bad renewal from the 60's. the whole neighborhood between lawence(martin luther) and union, 4th to 8th. was torn down and the community displaced. i'm also familar with the many buildings that were restored in old allentown and those who did the restoration. we have a difference in opinion, i consider those buildings in that particular location not worthly of restoration, from a private and/or community point of view.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was the Bobby Gunther Waksh show. Damn that Brinson, he tricked me again. Please tell me how to get out of here before I become Gay or a Democrat.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Too late, big boy! Better lock your doors bc I'm on my way.

michael molovinsky said...

Bernie, when you welcomed me to the local blog world the other day, and said perhaps it was short on the conservative viewpoint, you sure weren't kidding. I have been referred to almost as the devil, especially by the anon(s). Let me address this concept of not having been a serious candidate. I can assure you, although I didn't receive the press that the major candidates did, the campaign required no less effort on my part, and my hopes for Allentown are no less than theirs.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mike,m I welcomed you but I warned you, too. You can disregard anonymous personal attacks. Who cares about them? But just like a good talk radio show, the blogosphere forces you to defend your position. It is a meritocracy of ideas. But the local blogosphere is a little more left leaning, and talk radio is a little more right leaning.