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Monday, May 18, 2009

Allentown City Council Candidates: Hershman Best of a Good Field

Pennylvania's third largest city, Allentown, is plagued by budget woes, a public safety problem and Chicago-style party politics. Tuesday's primary election, in which Mayoral and city council candidates will be elected, is critical to the Queen City's future.

I've been caught up in the Northampton County judicial, executive and council races. That has left me with little time for anything else. Fortunately, Jarrett Renshaw at Queen City Daily has provided outstanding coverage of the council and mayoral races.

Three of four openings on city council are already held by Julio Guridy, David Howells and Council Prez Mike D'Amore. Veteran Lou Hershman and newcomers Louisa Torres, Mike Schlossberg and Ray O'Connell may be battling over what really amounts to one seat.

In addition to the information provided by the LWV, Renshaw has published interviews with retired educator Ray O'Connell, HIV prevention specialist Louisa Torres, Chamber of Commerce employee Mike Schlossberg, accountant Lou Hershman, community college teacher Mike D'Amore, toll bridge commission employee Julio Guridy and retired top cop David Howells.

Are all these candidates rubber stamps? According to a Renshaw analysis of 576 votes starting in 2006, only 5% of any bills have been rejected. 76% of all votes have been unanimous. So Mayor Pawlowski has pretty much had his way with the current council.

All candidates at least seem to think Pawlowski has done a generally good job in his first four years as mayor. Even Lou Hershman refers to Hizzoner somewhat diplomatically. "I have worked with Mayors Daddona, Fischl, Heydt, Afflerbach and Pawlowski. He is not the best, he is not the worst."

In a city inundated with political contributions from vendors and city workers, only Howells and Torres see no need for campaign finance reform. Torres, for example, would oppose any attempt to ban city contracts with people who are campaign donors. Howells claims there already is a mechanism to deal with illegal activity. The rest agree that the topic should at least be examined, and the most strident voice is Lou Hershman. "[Pay-to-play] must stop. The city contractor list should not become a campaign donor list."

Unanimously, they all oppose an emergency tax increase, yet unanimously, they all endorse giving tax breaks to developers. Candidates O'Connell and Torres also oppose layoffs.

You get to pick four from this field of articulate candidates. I'll pick just one - the much maligned Lou Hershman. He knew the city was in dire financial straights, and long before the city was willing to admit it publicly. He is very aware that Allentown is a public safety nightmare, and has already suggested some quality of life ordinances that will cost the city nothing. I witnessed him go toe to toe with Council over the public's right to speak. He is experienced and can hit the ground running. Most importantly, he is no rubber stamp.

Perhaps this is why he is the victim of an anonymous smear campaign over the weekend. I'll tell you about that below.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

While he is a nice guy, you can bet that O'Connell will be a bona fide rubber stamping yes man for Pawlowski. City Democrats even received a special stand alone endorsement from Pawlowski in the mail heaping praise upon O'Connell. I'm now bullet voting for Hershman. Lou may be out of style, ineffective and not "progressive", but he is independent, which is what City Council really needs.

Anonymous said...

"I have worked with Mayors Daddona, Fischl, Heydt, Afflerbach and Pawlowski"

Yes, you worked with all of them and the city went to hell in the process. Why should I cast my vote for somebody who has failed time and time again?

Quality of life ordinances? Are you talking about his bill that replicated Hazleton's illegal bill on hispanic residents? so now you are supporting a racist for allentown city council.

This guy isn't the best of the field. I rank him 2nd worst behind Torres and ahead of Howells.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hershman is no racist, and I suipport no anti-Hispanic legislation. I do support someone who will think outside the box to come up w/ ideas to solve A-tow's many problems. His proposal, suggesting that convicted drug dealers be banned from residing in the Quen City, is one such idea. It is controversial and may be unworkbale. But it miht be possible to mold it into something that does work. That's why there are 6 other members on council.

And Lou is independent.

Anonymous said...

he thinks outside the box alright... he goes to Hazleton to find a bill that the federal courts struck down on constitutional lines. Allentown has enough problems. Violating the law of the land doesn't need to be added to the list.

Hershman is a loner. Donovan is an independant. The difference is that Hershman makes a lot of noise and gets nothing done. Donovan raises and issue, offers a forum to agree and disagree, make progress and then move something forward. Frankly, I think Schlossberg would fit into that mold better than Hershman.

Anonymous said...

and if you don't know what I'm talking about Bernie, Hershman proposed a bill that matched almost identically the bill that Lou Barletta championed and helped to trigger a nation-wide man-hunt on hispanic residents. Hundreds of American citizens have been prompted to leave Hazleton in the name of this legislation. Hershman championed the same legislation in Allentown and you are willing to support that. Totally outside of your normal operating style for candidates.

He may be independant, but independant is only good when what you are championing is good. The stuff this guy championed in the past is unamerican.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I saw the respect that members of A-town citry council showed to Lou Hershmna on the night he was finally allowed to spaek. He's no loner. I suspect council would work with him and would counsel him against ideas that go too far. But he is a man with ideas and an independent voice.

Let's face it. Someone wants to shut him up. Anonymous negative robo calls on election eve? Whoever did that probably ensured his election. It proves he really is an independent voice wo scares people interested in protecting their little fiefdoms.

Anonymous said...

funny thing about Allentown City council... they are respectful people. Unlike in Northampton county, people on this side of the valley can have arguments and be respectful to each other. It's a remarkable concept that I think you read into too much. Perhaps we take it for granted. They were respectful of the man's opportunity to speak, but they largely dismissed it the moment he finished speaking.

Rather than having to counsel somebody who goes too far, how about electing somebody who is intelligent, independant and won't go too far. Schlossberg is that guy. And he hasn't worked with 5 mayors and failed in each attempt. Allentown needs new blood with fresh perspective to go along with that independance. hershman only fits 1/3 of that equation.

And anonymous negative robo calls only work when they are vicious and laced with lies. Hershman voted for the pension plan. That is a FACT and is the reason I will never vote for him (it was also raised in his last run for controller)! If he was so independant, he would have done what Burke and Hoover did and voted against the pension. Voters have a right to know that. That some idiot decided to violate election laws doesn't excuse the horrible vote Hershman, Davie and Julio made. The truth needed to come out, but I just wish that it came out in a transparent fashion.

Anonymous said...

Not to get off topic, but Anon 9:20 wrote "Hundreds of American citizens have been prompted to leave Hazleton in the name of this legislation."

I might be missing something, but why would any American citizen leave a city over that legislation?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not taking any shot at Mike Schlossberg, who is very energetic and smart. But I am only picking one council member bc, to be honest, I like 5.

If you defend that vicious robo call, I have to wonder whether you are behind it. Look at Donovan's blog. he's not crazy about what happened. Look at comments elsewhere. That robo call may very well electe Hershman. It proves he really is an independent voice.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:17 wrote:

"Donovan is an independant. The difference is that Hershman makes a lot of noise and gets nothing done. Donovan raises and issue, offers a forum to agree and disagree, make progress and then move something forward."

Yes, Donovan will play the part of listening to both sides, and will ultimately vote for whatever the Mayor wants. Even after the Mayor lied to council and refused to provide budget info to Council, Donovan is still supporting the Mayor.

That is not independence.

As to the comment on O'Connell by Anon 9:00, I agree. I was already suspicious about having someone who was high up in the Allentown School District administration (not exactly the most efficiently run organization around) now running for a city position. The letter from Pawlowski sealed the deal - O'Connell is not independent and cannot be trusted.

I urge everybody to vote for Hershman and only Hershman.

Anonymous said...

A vote for Schlossberg is a vote for Pawlowski. It is that basic. The Allentown Brew Works Dem's are even more insidious than the Joe Long Dem's.

Steve said...

Hershman is endorsing Phillips. I spoke with Hershman about Fatlowski and lets just say words were said that im not gonna repeat on here! lol.