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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Allentown City Council VP Michael Donovan: "Some of You Disgust Me"

Earlier this week, Allentown City Council candidate Allentown City Council candidate Lou Hershman, a 32-year veteran of city government, urged council to get involved in the overtime debacle reported by Jarrett Renshaw recently in The Morning Call. He added, "We definitely should not wait until budget time, as Council VP Michael Donovan mentions on his blog." Objectively, I would view this as nothing more than a mild and respectful disagreement.

Donovan, however, has taken great offense. In a jeremiad entitled Comments on another blog, he excoriates Lou. Lou sticks to his guns, claiming "[w]e sign on to be watchdogs, not lapdogs."

Donovan has continued blowing oil, to the point where he has now told his readers, "I have tried to be pleasant. Raise issues. Bring out some ideas. But some of you disgust me. Makes me wonder why I even try to represent you. Why should I care?"

That's harsh, dude. Donovan continues to insist that city council has no power to deal with the abuses that come routinely from the Pawlowski administration. "The only real power that exists for council is at budget time. Read the charter."

I've done that. Here's one provision that can be invoked today against any administration that botches public safety, hides a deficit, misleads the public about improvements at Cedar Creek Park or hands out overtime checks like candy.

"Council shall have the power, by ordinance, to make or cause to be made, investigations, audits or studies of the City and the conduct of any City department, office or agency, and, for this purpose may retain professional and technical assistance, subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony, require the production of evidence, and provide funds for such investigation, audit, or study."

This is precisely what candidate Lou Hershman was talking about, and something he invoked years ago to provide some badly needed oversight.

What if there's a tussle with Pawlowski apparatchiks over the extent of city council's power? Here's a nice ace in the hole.

"All powers of the City not otherwise provided for in this Charter shall be exercised in a manner to be determined by Council. Council shall provide for the exercise and performance of any such other powers and duties in a manner consistent with the terms of this Charter."

Allentown city council has failed in its responsibility to require accountability from the Pawlowski administration. While there is certainly no doubt that the home rule charter favors a strong executive, it is nonsensical to suggest that council's only real power is at budget time. If that's true, then all those other meetings are a waste of everyone's time.


Anonymous said...


What Mike wants to say (but possibly can’t even admit to himself ) is that “he” doesn’t have the power to do anything, translation, he doesn’t have the will or the guts to do the right thing.
What rational person can blame him? Everyone knows what happens to those who dare to point out the administration’s transgressions.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Donovan has already lost his zeal, he should resign and make way for hershman or others.....

Anonymous said...


What Mike wants to say (but possibly can’t even admit to himself ) is that “he” doesn’t have the power to do anything, translation, he doesn’t have the will or the guts to do the right thing.
What rational person can blame him? Everyone knows what happens to those who dare to point out the administration’s transgressions.

Scott Armstrong

6:01 AM

have to agree. donovan said at several rose garden public meetings at city hall what he would do to protect neighbors. has he?

Anonymous said...

Donovan seems a real nice guy but not all nice guys want to fight. He may not have the thick skin needed for such battles. That doesn't make him less, just
a nice guy who cares about things and feelings.

LVCI said...

You Have to Break a Few Eggs to Make an Omelet

Anonymous said...

Donovan = typical Democrat

Allentown registered voter

Anonymous said...

Condescending, lecturing college professor - just like Obama

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

I'm late to the discussion here and just catching up on recent posts. However, I find it alarming that a sitting Allentown councilman feels that the only power council has comes at budget time.

That may seem true if you are new to the area and have only observed council over the past four years.

The fact is that council votes on many different items throughout the year, and most of those votes are needed for one reason or another by the Administration to legally proceed on the issue at hand.

If council wanted to take back some control, it would withhold voting on ANYTHING the Administration wants until Council gets the answers they want on the subject they have chosen to deal with.

Unfortunately, over the last four years council has allowed themselves to be neutered by the Administration's interpretation of Council's role in city government.

I never thought I would see the day when Allentown City Council would tolerate having financial information withheld by the Administration or act like bystanders when it is brought to light that overtime is being abused by city employees.

Past Councils would have resorted to the tactic outlined above, called a press conference to point out the problem(s), and would have been the ones doing the screaming in meetings with the Mayor.

It wouldn't matter what party they or the Mayor belonged to. Past councils viewed their positions as representatives and protectors of the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the councils of the last four years views itself as a representative and protector of their political party and power. Until that changes, the taxpayers will continue being taken for a ride.

Anonymous said...

For too long Democrats on Allentown’s city council have taken their cues from the Democrat Administrations. With the likes of Afflerbach and now Pawlowski giving direction the results have been disastrous for the city. I know Mike means well, but if he isn’t willing to do the right thing he is just another small part of a larger problem. Can he live with that?

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

There is no question that in the strong executive form of government in LC, the Mayor has the lion's shae of the pwer. nd that is as it should be, as he is full-time and council is not. But to extrapolate from that and conclude that it necessarily follows that council is weak, is in my opinion a misunderstanding of the plain language in the charter, along with the little things a councl can do to make its wishes known, as expressed by Anon 4:06.

What mystifies me is the way Michael has over-reacted to this discussion, which has iincluded some unpleasant snarks at Lou Hershman as well as the rst of his readers. It is unwarranted.

Anonymous said...

He's one cranky councilor. When smartypants guys get frustrated because they're not smart enough to understand public opinion, the petulance is humorous.

Anonymous said...

Mission control - we have a meltdown in reactor donovon.

Some folks (donovon)just do not what have what it takes.

It is so nice to be courted for public office, lots of glamour, hints of power, but the stress and strains and reality are clearly a different story.

hershman must be either numb or a glutton for punishment, or he truely cares....

Anonymous said...

bernie - you really want to get donovan going, ask him how his ethics team is doing reviewing the mayor's play and pay?

Professor D - practice is clearly a lot different than reality!!!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear Hershman on Gunther today.

TOOOO BAD there are no debates and damore and schlossberg can behind behind thier moeny and robo calls.

Hershman would cream both of them in a debate!!

Anonymous said...

Nothing on the Gubber Walsh show is real.

Joe Hilliard said...


Right on the mark. A legislative body has "no power" if they choose not to exercise it.

By its very nature, an elected legislature has more inherent power than any executive authority.

I am surprised that a teacher of government, the current Council President Michael D'Amore, does not understand this most basic principle of American government.

Anonymous said...

allentown council has conceded its power to the mayor since we went to strong-mayor form of government. and for at least the last couple of years they are eating from the mayor's trough and have diminshed thier role, too bad, maybe time for commission form of gov't, make council full time, eliminate mayor