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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, October 09, 2009

Allentown Mayoral & Council Candidates Send in the Clowns

At last night's Allentown candidates' night starring King Edwin, I plopped my delicately contoured physique no more than five feet from His Highness. I told the Crime Watchers that I had to be that close so I could use my flipcam, but my real reason was to make funny faces at Hizzoner and shake my head whenever he spoke, hoping to throw him off his game.

My evil plan failed. Pawlowski was still smooth as silk, easily the most accomplished of last night's eight participants. The only person who seemed to ruffle the Mayor's feathers, and only mildly, was city council candidate Lou Hershman. I was impressed by the mayoral performance, although many of his claims are simply untrue. How the hell can he calmly insist that the city has a surplus when The Morning Call, his own controller and city council say otherwise?

Contender Tony Phillips did get in a zinger here and there, but never really rebutted the mayor. In fact, he strangely brought up his Bucky Boyle Park incident himself.

Blogger extraordinaire Pam Varkony, who incidentally hugged me, sums up her own view of last night's debate with this title: "No wonder we're in trouble." While I think it's tough for a candidate to spell out a position when he has just 45 seconds to answer a question, these hopefuls were strangely vague and disoriented. Most confusing of all was Julio Guridy, who mentioned several times that he speaks two languages.

If he thinks one of those languages is English, he is mistaken.

Below are excerpts from the candidates' opening remarks. They more or less prove Pam's point. Ed Pawlowski, Lou Hershman and Joe Brudnak are the only hopefuls who actually said anything.

Mike (I really do have a Ph.D.) D'Amore: May I please start over?

"In the last four years, I've been very proud of a number of things we've been able to get done. I know there's a lot more work to do. I feel that in the next four years, I can pitch in and help make the renaissance of the city, which is happening, happen in a greater ... happen in a greater ... uh just happen better.

"It starts with restoring fiscal sanity to the city. Steps have been taken in that direction, a number of steps. Bond refinancing. Debt restructuring. We've been successful in a number of steps to make the fiscal picture brighter.


"Now as a result of the national economic downturn, we remain in fiscal difficulty, so we have some tough choices that still need to be made and I'm prepared to make those difficult choices.

"As far as public safety is concerned, crime rates are down yet people don't feel safe in our neighborhoods. Some neighborhoods are experiencing crimes that they've never seen before. We need to deal with that, and community policing is one way to do it. But making sure we have our public safety agenda straight is also important as well."


Julio (I didn't just step off the boat) Guridy: I'm gonna' bring you nuisance crimes!

"A couple of things I support that are very important. Some of them are public safety. I'm a proponent of community policing as well as the finances. We need to rebuild our finances, make sure that we maintain a good budget, keep a balanced budget, and don't spend more than we have on the books.

"I'm also a big proponent of economic development. We have gotten a lot of economic development, over $600 million, in the last five years that we've been working hard to make sure it happens as well as some of the other issues that we need to continue to work on are making sure that we provide some of the services that are nuisance crimes, make sure that we keep people from double parking, cleaning our streets, and making sure that we provide a better life for everybody in the city. That's one of the jobs on city council, working with the administration.

"I think one of the things we can save on is to provide more regionalization in terms of services that we purchase in the city.

"I also have a lot of experience working with a large number - at least forty percent - of the people in the city as well as all of you."


Ray O'Connell: You mean this isn't a school board race? Oh shit.

"I'm a proponent of community policing. There are various formats of community policing. We need to give our police department and fire department the necessary resources and tools to effectively and efficiently do their jobs.

"I'm very big on quality of life issues - noise, littering, loitering, graffiti, absentee landlords. They're the key to restoring, one block at a time, public safety.

"Fiscal responsibility. We do not spend more money than we have. You can't spend more money than's in your checkbook. You've got to balance the books. Control taxes. Spend responsibly. Fiscal responsibility is the responsibility of the mayor and of city council.


"Economic development and economic retention. We need to encourage businesses to come to Allentown and we need to keep the good businesses in Allentown.

"I'd like to form a strong partnership between the City of Allentown and the Allentown School District. One area that I would like to explore is busing, busing kids to and from school. A lot of problems occur after school."

Mike "Energizer Bunny" Schlossberg: (Do I talk too fast? Really? Really? Am I going too fast? Huh? Huh? What do you think? Is that coffee?)

"Allentown needs fresh ideas and new blood. ... I work with small urban cores in the area, trying to help them fight some of the same fights that Allentown needs to, in terms of reducing crime, bringing in more businesses and jobs and controlling government taxes and spending. There's no doubt that we have moved forward in the city the past four years, and I think there's also no doubt that we're still a long, long way away from where we need to be. We need to keep working and keep working to make the changes that have already been put in place if we're going to make Allentown better. There's no doubt that we need more police officers on the streets and we have to continue to find new and innovative ways of using the ones we already have more efficiently in order to protect our citizens from crime.

"We have a financial hole as a result of the national recession. What we need to do is think smarter and differently about the way we conduct our finances. There's no doubt that we have to continue to work on bringing in more jobs and more businesses into the city, into our downtown, but also into our neighborhoods."


Joe "Joe the Fuel Truck Driver" Brudnak: I want Allentown to Be All American City Again

"I'm a blue collar worker. I'm not a politician. I work for Altemose Fuel. I deliver right here in Allentown. This is my route - east side, south side, center city, west end. On my route, I talk to people and I ask them what they think of Allentown. I listen to their concerns. Myself, I have questions about Allentown. I want to see it thrive again.

"Growing up, I believe it was Mayor Daddona who was here when I was a kid, things were great. It was called the All American City. It was thriving; it was wonderful. I want to see that back again. I want to see that kids don't have to fear going down the streets. I want to see gangs outa' here. I want to be your voice, your concerns, and bring that to council and work with the other fellows on council, and women, and get the job done here in Allentown."

Lou (the Watchdog) Hershman: All city council does is pass gass ... I mean grants

"When I served on city council with Councilman Burke and Varkony and Hoover, there were checks and balances. The only check and balance I see now is Eichenwald and Phillips. They rubber stamp this mayor. Bang, I think the pad must be out of ink by now. That's why I'm running, to provide some checks and balances down at city hall.

"You heard my Democratic opponents. More police. How you gonna' pay for more police? I came out with a plan last week at this crime watch meeting on how to pay for more police. It's not going to cost you money. When I get done with my plan, we're going to have money left over to reduce the deficit.

"How are we going to fight crime? I'll tell you how to fight crime, but Tom Burke's on the clock tonight, and I can't take more than a minute and a half to explain my plan. Ask me a question, and I'll tell you how we're gonna' fight crime in Allentown.

"I'll tell you what. When you go to city council meetings, you see what's going on down there. It's unbelievable. All they do is pass grants. Anybody can pass a grant. That's why they're a rubber stamp, 7-0. Sometimes I hear Tony [Phillips]. I hear Jeanette [Eichenwald] a lot, but then it's 5-2. It's not what you need on city council.

"You heard one of my opponents say he saved the city money by refinancing. Let me tell you, he doesn't tell you the truth. He saved the city $600 thousand, but what does it cost you on the other bond issue we refinanced? $60 million in additional interest that we're going to have to pay for. that's not saving you money. We have to be more responsible with taxpayer dollars. It's their money."

King Edwin "Rose Colored Glasses" Pawlowski: Everything is beautiful! Need a grant?

"When I started in office four years ago, as you know, we were facing a tough climb up a very steep hill. But I think the record will show that we have come farther and faster than anyone thought possible. We had a desperate, desperate fiscal situation. We had an $8 million deficit, we had a bond rating that had tanked, we had a fiscal outlook that went from positive to negative, we had a police force that was decimated through early retirements and we had very little economic growth.

"Four years later, we have now improved our finances, we took that $8 million deficit and built up a $14 million cash reserve that helped us through this very difficult economic climate, our bond rating has improved, we went from a negative fiscal outlook by both Standard and Poors and Moody to a positive, we've rebuilt our police department and now we actually have more police than when we started. We had 196 police officers in 2006 and now we have 203. And we have over a half billion dollars in investment. This is a great city. I love this city. We're moving this city forward."


Tony "I'm really lonely" Phillips: Will you be my Facebook Friend?

"Allentown is my passion. It's my love. "

Ok. I've tormented them all. I'm an equal opportunity offender.But in fairness, they are taking the time to run, and each of them genuinely wants to improve the city.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

I was treated to one of Ed’s performances the other night at our West Park Meeting. Both he and Tony showed up un-announced and in my opinion ruined an otherwise good meeting. It is no exaggeration to say that the truth to the mayor is what ever he needs it to be. Does he really believe what he is saying? Perhaps he is deluded enough to believe that his governance(?) has had a positive effect on the city.
The only thing worse than his blatant lies were the intelligent people who accept his claims on faith.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Thanks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your gratitude is appreciate and makes it worth the effort. I'd thank the Crime Watch for all their efforts.

michael molovinsky said...

although volvo mom may keep her shoes in the closet, let me say that this is a good post, representing much work. this blog has provided a source of fair documentation of the allentown political circus, through editing. On the other hand, the proposal to webcam the entire council meetings, in addition to being a lethal sleeping pill, should well be a source of embarrassment for council members.

Anonymous said...

O'Hare for Nobel Peace Prize

Tony said...

Scott,

I certainly contacted Glenn via email stating I wanted to attend the monthly meeting. I would not have made any comments if that would have been a problem. There was no response. it is your neighborhood meeting and I certainly respect what neighborhood groups their place in our community. You should have SPOKEN UP my presence at the meeting was of some concern, at least to me.

Anonymous said...

Tony,

Anyone is free to come to our meetings. That being said this years election is very frustrating to those hoping for a positive change.
I appreciate you good works for the city and consider you a good guy. It is unfortunate however that your campaign has made the news on the basis of negative events.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Gurdiy claimed over $600M went to Allentown in Community Economic monies in the last 5 years. Meanwhile, they cannot find funding to add local lanes to Route 22. This is hard to believe.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe he meant that $600 MM in oublic and private investment has occurred, but he's not the clearest bell in the choir.

Anonymous said...

BORING topic as per 10 comments all day.

Come up with a post about the imposter Obama winning the Nobel prize when he has done NOTHING of substance thus far in his presidency?? The Nobel committee kisses up to another left-wing NWO proponent. After bashing the USA on the world stage for 10 months Obama's distain for America has paid off! What a disgrace! Arafat, Carter and now this narcistic wannabe. Like the UN the Nobel committee has become totally political and irrelevant.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dude/dudette, My focus is primarily local.

Allentown is the LV's largest city. The people elected there are going to affect the daily lives of LV people a lot more than Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. Most local government is neglected, But I find it fascinating and try to cover what is going on. That's what i do. I like it.

If I focused more on national issues or even state issues, it would be easy to increase readership and attract a wider audience. But this is Lehigh Valley Ramblings, hence the emphasis on the Lehigh Valley. It's where I'm happiest.

The number of comments on a post do not correlate necessarily with its popularity. I'll bet you right now that this post is probably my most popular entry tis week.

A-town could have three reporters from both papers and a host of bloggers and we still would be finding things out.

Another point about local government is that one person, even an anonymous commenter, can make a difference. Local leaders will read what you say. But do you really think anyone gives a rat's ass what some anon thinks about Obama's Nobel Peace Prize?

Having said that, I have an email exchange from two friends who agreed to let me post their sentiments tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Varcony is right, no wonder we are in trouble. But Ms Pam, it is easy to sit on the side-lines and Monday Morning QB; I notice only 2 of 4 GOP council slots have candidates?

Chris Casey said...

I like your picture, is that the old East Penn school board?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Northampton County Council.

Anonymous said...

God Bless Mayor Pawlowski!