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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

IT IS the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom in Bethlehem, it is the age of foolishness in Allentown. At least that's what I think, but I'm no Charles Dickens.

In Bethlehem, people really do promenade throughout the streets at night. In Allentown, they lie about it. In the Christmas City, an independent council listens respectfully to the mayor and everyone else. In the Queen City, a group of bobbleheads tells King Edwin what he wants to hear while denying citizens the basic right to speak. Bethlehem honestly admits its problems while Allentown massages the truth as well as a high class hooker and dismisses every piece of constructive criticism as the product of naysayers. The net result? Bethlehem gets better; Allentown gets worse.

If you want to see a contrast between these two cities, look at how each handled its own budget crisis. Allentown's Finance Director, Larry Hilliard, said it was "too late" to make changes in Allentown's 2009 budget. During that same time frame, Bethlehem was making adjustments - almost $1 million worth.

Bethlehem made changes after its budget was made public and during the budget review process, proactively reacting to the "impending Tsunami" of change in the economy. Somehow Bethlehem knew it was coming and Allentown didn't? Bethlehem knew there would be decreased revenues from real estate, deed transfers and employee income taxes. Allentown's bobbleheads blindly ignored the warning signs.

Bethlehem's Council independently reviewed the budget, with two voting against it despite rolling back 14 promotions, three new hires and other cuts. It passed and no exposes are being penned about Bethlehem by the Morning Call or local bloggers. Bethlehem is struggling with the current economy, like everyone else, and it's an election year there, too.

The Casino opening will help. Ironically, it will help Allentown, too. But without half decent leaders, you might as well flush that money down the toilet.


DemoThug said...

I fear for Allentown. The present Mayor AND Council are all "over employed"

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

The administration in Allentown wasn't blindsided by the change in the economy - that is just a smokescreen. The administration actively lied, misused funds, and covered up the financial truth from Allentown taxpayers over the past 3+ years. The only difference this year is that the national financial situation prevented them from covering it up.

I would liken what they've done to Enron or the Madoff Ponzi scheme. As the fraud grows, eventually those perpetrating the fraud are unable to hide it anymore.

What has been done in Allentown over the past 3 years has been criminal, and I hope the MC continues to investigate what has been done during that time.

I also hope that those involved face not just a political price - but a legal price as well.

Anonymous said...

"Hola. Spanish dude."

Are you serious?

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Well done, Bernie. The bobble-head image seems very appropriate.

I continue to believe The Morning Call has been complicit in all of this mess by their "lack-of interest" over the past few years.

Sadly, the Call maintains the same posture with happenings in the Allentown School District.

A little challenge on behalf of citizens now and then used to be a good thing.

Anonymous said...

How incredibly nasty to refer to council person Julio Guridy as "Hola, Spanish Dude."

Anonymous said...

O'hare doesn't respect anybody. Nice shot at Eichenwald as well, who wouldn't know him from an (ass)hole in the ground.

Anonymous said...

"Hola"!!! OMG!

Bernie is now openly a bigot. It is about time he came out of the closet.

Anonymous said...

this is why its a good investment to buy property in bethlehem, becasue it keeps getting better. if allentown keeps getting worse, as the blog says, get out.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How incredibly nasty to refer to council person Julio Guridy as "Hola, Spanish Dude."

How incredibly nasty that a city with A-town's demographics has only one token Hispanic. How incredibly nasty that the person who sits there can barely speak English. That's a reality.

As far as Jeanette goes, I like her, and she is the sole council member who says nobody is going to slip one by her again But they always do.

LVCI said...

I knew all the finger pointing would begin! All the mayor's fault? NO. If council was aware of this and did not make an attempt to thwart bad policy, we might as well eliminate council since they serve no purpose.

Now council wants to dump it all on the mayor's lap. Yeah we know the mayor does this. No news there. What we didn't know was council made the conscious choice to clam up and now whine somehow it's all the mayor's fault. NO.. if council had issues... we have newspapers, city hall meetings and TV. All of which were at your disposal.

And come April Fools day will more then likely pass an extension for even more credit. This will compound an already bad situation.

Council & the mayor shouldn't need a committee to find ways to cope with bad decision making. Those budget concerns are the reason you were elected (to address). By appointing a committee, it's yet another way of trying to get off the hook for not taking care of business in the 1st place. Every time there's a screw up, politicians commission a study.

Sorry, you guys aren't getting off the hook for this.. NO WAY!

Anonymous said...

Good Job Bernie, We have lived in this City for decades. People ask me what's wrong with Allentown. I say the city is still a beautiful place, it's only the people in it that make it seem ugly, and it's the people that need to clean it up. Starting with a City Government that is too busy covering up it's own incompetency.
The Old Allentown Curmudgeon

Anonymous said...

Just before Bethlehem’s budget was submitted to council, the mayor announced all these grand projects and proposals. Then during the budget process these same projects were axed. Now I have to believe the mayor knew the there was no way they could finance these projects. Do you think this was a way to inflate the numbers going into the budget grind so they could come out saying “look we cut $1M from the budget”

It is inconceivable how anyone could draft a budget and not realize the deteriorating economy. In my community, all non-essential projects were put on hold and every department made painful cuts stopping short of cutting services. The decline in home sales and real estate transfer tax revenue was the indicator.

ElToroBlanco said...

notice the comments rarely have to do with the issues???

in Julio's own words... "latinos don't vote"... and if u wish to verify that comment... Tell him El Toro Blanco says hello. so maybe if they did.. there would be more than one on the council... it is my belief that they just haven't been given a good reason TO vote and i think u will see that change in this election.

Bernie O'Hare said...

We actually talked about that last night. Actually, my point w/ him is that more Hispanics need to run for office. Guridy tells me, just like you, that is going to change.