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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pay to Play Pawlowski Goes Golfing

For reasons that elude me, the Allentown Brew Works (ABW) web page contains a brief history of Allentown, telling us the city "was founded in 1762 by William Allen; a wealthy shipping merchant who purchased land from the sons of William Penn." But that's only half the story. What ABW's history fails to reveal is that Allen, a supposed New World aristocrat, became a "wealthy shipping merchant" by financing a form of piracy known as privateering. He used political office here to make himself even more wealthy and even supplied the "muscle" for settlers dealing with both Indians and Connecticut invaders. A Tory, he fled to England with his tail between his legs when the Revolutionary War broke out.

Speaking of incomplete stories about wealthy merchants, there are plenty of unanswered questions concerning Allentown's recent decision to replace the Sand Trap Grille with ABW at its muni golf course. They both had submitted identical bids. Now, believe it or not, the ABW gets top billing on the city-funded Allentown golf web page, above the Superintendent. It is becoming increasingly questionable whether Pay to Play Pawlowski is simply rewarding one of his supporters.

The Fegley family, which owns ABW, received somewhere around $3.4 million in federal loans when they purchased their popular restaurant from the Allentown Redevelopment Authority for $1.00. Another $500,000 came in the form of an outright grant from Rendell. Located in a KOZ, they are exempt from what would otherwise be an $82 thousand annual real estate tax. They are also exempt from sales tax and pay no state income tax. Allentown kicked in even more money, perhaps $90,000, for facade improvements. According to the Tony Phillips campaign, the Fegley's ABW has received more than $7 million dollars of taxpayer money.

The Fegleys are major Pawlowski supporters, having contributed $750 to his campaign in 2006 & 2007. Last year, Pawlowski gave Mike Fegley, a Democratic state committee member, $100 to help pay for transportation to the Democratic convention. He has also paid Fegley's wife $2,730 for campaign work. Another $1,150 went directly into ABW coffers.

Blogger Michael Molovinsky is the person who first questioned the preference of ABW over Sand Trap Grille owner Robert Stanley, claiming that Stanley had been out-maneuvered by King Edwin Pawlowski. But what really disturbs me is Jarrett Renshaw's riveting blog at QCD, which actually contains video excerpts of Stanley's presentation of a petition to city council, signed by 150 golfers, protesting the decision to dump him after ten years. I have transcribed a portion for those of you who prefer the written word.

Business owner Robert Stanley: "The bid was due November 24, 4 o'clock. I submit my bid ... I was told three or four days later that I had the bid. In the meantime, people were coming in and saying I was leaving and they wanted to buy my equipment and I said NO, I'm back in. ... Why was I told three weeks before that I had the bid? ... Then I get to go and meet down at city hall. I go in there and I think it's about signing the contract. Well, here they're giving me an interview, asking me questions. Greg Wetzell is the only guy that asked me any questions and one other person asked a question. Everybody else just sat there, didn't say a word, I answered my questions and off I went.

"December 23rd I get a phone call, 'Can I come over to the sand Trap?' Because it was closed because of the weather, I go over there and meet with Greg. He tells me The Brewworks got the bid. I said, 'You gotta' be kidding?' That's when I told him, 'I was told three weeks before I had this bid.' Then I was told I had to be out by the end of the year. ... I lost approximately - I'm not even sure - $20,000 in the sales of equipment because I had to get that stuff out of there.

* * *

"As far as going over to Starters, if you went over there and talked to the Bethlehem golfers, during the league and during the golfing season, they're not coming in there. You're getting the outside people. What do you want? Do you want to run a restaurant, do you want to take care of the citizens of the town?

* * *

"This was all said and done a long time ago. I was told ... as a matter of fact I was told four years ago that Mayor Pawlowski, when he was with Mayor Afflerbach, wanted me out of that place. He wanted to make something flamboyant there. Well, this is what he got. Everybody knows that him and Mr. Fegley - they're buddy, buddy."

Administration: "The Mayor was not involved in this process in any way, shape or form. ... The mayor had no influence and I would not have listened to him anyway."

Council member Peter Schweyer, a Pawlowski cheerleader, provided this justification: "This is an opportunity for the City of Allentown to not be just satisfied with what we have, but to expand our product and actually grow. I've had conversations with no less than four potential tournaments who refuse to move their golf tournaments to Allentown because we don't have the facilities for the quality of the product."

But council member Jeanette Eichenwald, whose once told me her father ran a small business, was more honest. "I think there was an injustice done here."

Jeanette is right.

36 comments:

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

But did Mayor Ed get wasted and fall asleep on a bench in front of Hooters?

Love the John Daley pic.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happens in Bethlehem. O'Hare. I doubt I will hear about it.

Anonymous said...

Although Bethlehem is slightly different.. they received numerous bids and NONE EVEN COMPARED to the level of Starters bid and investment in the renovations of the restaurant.. I'm not sure how the Allentown municipal golf course restaurant previously was... but the Bethlehem municipal golf course restaurant is now 1000X better than before.. it went from a hot dog stand to a full sports bar.. which the city benefits from greatly, which was shown through increased patronage at the golf course in a down market and bad economy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Same thing happens in Bethlehem. O'Hare. I doubt I will hear about it."

Enlighten us.

Politically Neutral said...

Golf? Tournaments at Allentown Municipal? Which ones? Who are the sponsors?

Always the same old boring players.

King Edwin needs to get more out of his contributors.

Millions for only $750.00. That is chump change.

Boy works hard for his money.

michael molovinsky said...

a couple of clarifications;
jarrett renshaw broke this story on dec. 24, my blog then was simply was a more blunt rendition based on his facts.

although i'm glad jarrett reported last weeks confrontation at city council on queen city, it should have been a prominent newspaper article (small excerpt of blog did appear on sunday)

it was encouraging that jeanette eichenwald spoke out, but just speaking out isn't enough. she supported the merchants at my meeting about lanta, but didn't confront lanta. she supported stanley at the council meeting, but hasn't confronted the mayor.

Anonymous said...

They both had submitted identical bids. Now, believe it or not, the ABW gets top billing on the city-funded Allentown golf web page, (YOU FORGOT A WORD "EVEN") above the Superintendent.

Q: Is ABW now above the Mayor's name? If it is, now that's a lesson in "placement."

Anonymous said...

Good Reporting, Bernie.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Council member Peter Schweyer work for Jennifer Mann?

Anonymous said...

I understand that the golf course does not permit nude sponge bathing. Is this true ?

Anonymous said...

Response to 8:13:
With respect to these comments, no one said anything negative about Ms. Mann.

KathyD said...

I'm not a golfer, but my DH tells me Allentown muni is a pretty nice place to spend the morning. He's totally on board with an upgraded place to grab a bite to eat there, but not at the expense of an established business owner.

Pawlowski seems to think the Fegleys have magic fairy dust. Yes, their success in Bethlehem did (arguably) lift up downtown Bethlehem, but that is not certain to be repeated in A-town. Fegley's latest LTTE indicates he's making a profit, but it's impossible to be sure how business is at ABW. With such a heavy taxpayer base for the BrewWorks, I'd think their books would have to be public, but of course, they're not.

I love the BrewWorks, and the Fegleys have been nothing but super nice to me, but this golf course bid does seem to be one buddy taking care of another buddy, at the expense of the little guy.

Instead of spending money on fancy beer establishments, Pawlowski ought to be spending 109% of his time dealing with CRIME CRIME CRIME in Allentown. I don't want to hear about City Hall doing ANYTHING except fighting crime. Otherwise, you can economically develop this place until the coffers are dry, but nobody's going into Allentown unless they can rent the pope-mobile for protection.

The golf course is fine as is - why focus on developing it further when there are so many other unmet priorities in Allentown? This is a good case study in what happens when corruption is combined with stupidity.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Good Reporting, Bernie."

Thanks, but Jarrett Renshaw and MM are the ones who haver been following this closely. I'm just a transcriptioniost.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:01 wrote:

"...they received numerous bids and NONE EVEN COMPARED to the level of Starters bid and investment in the renovations of the restaurant.. I'm not sure how the Allentown municipal golf course restaurant previously was... but the Bethlehem municipal golf course restaurant is now 1000X better than before.. it went from a hot dog stand to a full sports bar..."

Perhaps the even bigger question is why should government (Allentown) be getting into the sports bar business. From all accounts, the existing business served the golf course clientele well. Now the city wants non-golf related events held there.

Surely this would put the city in direct competition with other private venues within its borders. Once again, government is attempting to choose the winners in private business.

Allentown City Hall should concentrate on trying to properly perform the real duties of municipal government. Public safety and public works are two basic areas where the current administration has failed miserably.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fine Dining - the Pawlowski solution to Allentown's crime problem.

Glenn said...

Allentown: Microcosm / Washington: Macrocosm {My take}

ACCOUNTABILITY:
Allentown/Pa. has become a little Washington in-so-much as providing huge taxpayers' monies with little accountability. If I "BORROW" money, banks want to know your life, right down to your DNA. But when the government heist our paychecks to "GIVE" $'s away, we are not even entitled to look at the books. Hell, even those who receive 'welfare' get a second look by government workers.

I'm not debating the noteworthiness of this project... what I call into question is ACCOUNTABILITY of how that money is then used.

If I meet on bum on Hamilton Street [snicker] and I voluntarily reach into my pocket to lend a hand, I don't give him a five and suppose he will spend it wisely. No rather you step inside and buy him a 'Happy Meal' no matter how the bum feels about it. I get to set the rules... it's MY money.

This is something that has become almost foreign to government at all levels. Government simply reaches into my pocket and spends, disregarding what wishes I may have for how the money is to be used. And that my friend is the difference between a "Republic" and the ever fading "Democracy" that this country was intended to be.

At issue, is how 'taxation' vs's 'representation' is being severely strained. I believe very strongly that nonbinding public balloting should be utilized when this much taxpayers' money is involved to provide "STIMULUS" to the local economy.

A taxpayer who feels helpless, becomes an angry taxpayer.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"They both had submitted identical bids. Now, believe it or not, the ABW gets top billing on the city-funded Allentown golf web page, (YOU FORGOT A WORD "EVEN") above the Superintendent."

Agreed.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here. The REAL one.

Geez, if $750 buys political clout in Pawlowski's administration, I'd like to use this opportunity to ask Ed to call me!

One has to wonder if the donated figure was actually somewhat higher.

In the end, Ed should be all about solving his city's crime reputation. Beer and golf SHOULD be way down Ed's list.

Bryan said...

I find it sickly ironic that the Brew Works would pull this stunt. There big selling point is that they are a local restaurant trying to improve the city while staying grounded in its history. Now, this pops up and shows them for what they are. They've ousted an actual local place that has a history in the city and that people have enjoyed for a long time. What kind of example does that show from the Brew Works? I'm glad that blogs are here to show us what these places are about. This is going to make me think twice before I go back to the ABW again.

A.J.C. said...

it went from a hot dog stand to a full sports bar"

And the prices went way up with the change. I preferred the hot dog stand.

A.J.C. said...

Retired ASD teacher here. The REAL one.

We're gonna need a DNA sample, fingerprints, and dental records please.

j/k

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Retired ASD teacher here. The REAL one."

So you've noticed! I am sorry that someone has so little respect for my readers that he impersonates or parodies them. I will delete those taunts when they are made here, but can't always get to them quickly.

Hey! I owe you and your wife dinner. I'll even spring for one of those cocktails you like. Drop me a line back channel before I run out of money!

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Private email sent! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Permission to change subject:

Today the M.C. reports more firings. According to one of your recent blogs, you were going to find out what's going on there. May we ask what you found out?

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Is this a real photo?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 12:39,

As soon as I rec'd the comment from an insider, I went to the mcall web page toi get some phonbe numbers and then I saw the story is online.

I know little other than what I read here and there. I will try to find out what I can today, but doubt I will learn very much.

Anonymous said...

cuts were in marketing, packaging and admin. I'm told nothing from the newsroom was cut.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Thank you for trying. Very sad for those who lost jobs.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm posting a small blog and have made a few inquiries. Let's see what happens.

Vill Billa said...

Anonymous 4;52 pm

and who are you?

Anonymous said...

"KathyD,"
"The Banker,"
and "Retired ASD Teacher"
are all really Bernie O'Hare.

Disgusted said...

This story goes a lot deeper than even the videos showed. The Director of Golf told the former owner that he had been awarded the bid on December 6th. He also told other course workers that the Sand Trap was returning. Prior to the bid, he contacted both PPL and Lehigh Valley Propane in an effort to get the Sand Traps expenses for the year. Obviously an attempt to answer questions from the ABW that might affect their bid. These facts are eminently verifiable.
The real shame is that this guy was on the selection committee!!!

I am trying to get the score sheets
that these people used to quantify dtheir results. According to Stanley, not one person wrote anything down. They already knew the result.
This Councilman (Schweyer?) said that at least four tournaments refused to come to Allentown because of the facililties. The largest tournament possible is 144 golfers, which can and have been handled by the former vendor. I can name at least four tournaments that WON'T be returning because of exorbitant prices being charged by ABW, as verified by the bid submitted.
Weddings? This is the biggest farce of all. Not a chance there will ever be a wedding at Allentown Muni. Wait, maybe Mayor Ed has some kids that may be getting married.

Bottom line, a guy did a great job for over ten years, never had a problem, NEVER had a complaint from either tournament sponsonrs or restaurant patrons. By the way, the Mayor was effusive in his compliments for their handling of the Annual Mayors Tournament.

Thanks for the efforts Mr Stanley, by the way, you have eight days to sell all your equipment and vacate the premises.

Anonymous said...

Note from Disgusted post:

"Prior to the bid, he contacted both PPL and Lehigh Valley Propane in an effort to get the Sand Traps expenses for the year. Obviously an attempt to answer questions from the ABW that might affect their bid. These facts are eminently verifiable."

Good post Disgusted, the facts you stated above should be grounds for the Supervisor of the Golf Course to be dismissed from his job, this is a violation of confidental information between Mr Stanley and PPL and Lehigh Valley Propane. It is another case of someone trying to gain an unfair advantage. It just proves that the supervior is just a reject from the least playable course in the Lehigh Valley, Indian Creek.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Disgusted, These are excellent points that merit a second post.

Anonymous said...

Gee, BO, I see any comments questioning your motives go "POOF!"
They can't all be from your arch enemy. Pretty one sided conversation here, if you ask me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The only comments heree that go POOF are anonymous personal attacks or Villa's crap. The topic here is the golf restaurant, not me.