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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why People Jump Off the 8th Street Bridge

I've been to four long candidates' nights in two counties over the past seven days. I was really tempted to stay home last night and paint my toenails, but decided instead to attend the debate for Allentown candidates sponsored by St. Paul's Park Neighborhood Group.

Why did I do it? Public service? The people have a right to know? Nah. I'll be honest. After Tuesday night, when city council member Julio Guridy flipped out over a flip cam at the NAACP debate, I wanted to see him blow oil when I pulled it out the very next night. This time, the flip cam was staying on no matter what I was told. In fact, I had two of them. I also packed my toothbrush and was wearing rubber underwear in case things got rough.

This forum took place at a senior citizen center known as Little Lehigh Manor. It's located right next to the famous 8th Street Bridge, the perfect spot for a swan dive in Allentown.

I sat among 44 nice seniors waiting for the candidates, listening to bits and pieces of conversation. "The crime watch always serves food." "I usually play hearts when the crime watch meets."

When magisterial candidate Walter Felton made his entrance, many of the senior ladies got excited. "Here comes your buddy." "You see him all over. I see him on Hamilton Street." "I remember him at Dunkin Donuts." "He was a policeman for 21 years."

Walter was flanked by an entourage of three nice women wearing blue polo shirts, but one of them eyed me suspiciously.

"Who are you?"

"Me? I'm just a blogger. My name is Michael Molovinsky."

"Thank goodness. I saw what happened to you last night at the NAACP debate and thought 'Dang, you must be a conservative.'"

"No, I hate conservatives. They should all be locked up and sent to a Gulag."

I waited and waited while moderator Dan Nest conducted some sort of pre-meeting. No Julio Guridy. In fact, only one city council candidate bothered to show up at all - Ray O'Connell. When he saw me, he asked, "Are you stalking me?" He is kind of cute.

Lou Hershman was out of town and did send his regrets, but I have no idea what happened to the rest of them. Just the previous night, they all stressed how important it is to reach out to different community organizations, but the next night only one of six city council candidates was walking the walk.

I thought this meant we'd have a quick evening. But the candidates had other ideas. Apparently, they felt they could just talk and talk and talk until people start jumping off that 8th Street bridge.

Magisterial candidate Ron Manescu was the first one at the plate, and spoke for seven minutes, a little too long. I never knew that Chief Manescu, as an Allentown police officer, was actually shot at and wounded in the line of duty. He spoke of his daughter, a public defender, and joked that he locks 'em up and she sets 'em free.

Magisterial candidate Walter Felton went on even longer, about ten minutes. He discussed what it was like being the youngest of seven children, growing up in the projects with no money. He mentioned his childhood jobs as a newspaper and shoe shine boy. Nodody shot him. That's all nice, but I was starting to look for a window after about 5 minutes.

City Council candidate Ray O'Connell was next. He had a much more dangerous job than either Felton or Manescu. He was a teacher, principal and administrator in the Allentown School system. "We need to do something about our teens between 3 o'clock and 8 o'clock." He maintains Allentown kids are "good kids," but need to be kept involved in positive activities. O'Connell kept his remarks brief, about five minutes, but by this time we were all losing interest.

When Mayoral candidate Tony Phillips batted clean up, he delivered an inaugural address. He went on a good twenty minutes, but lost everyone after about five. By the time he was done, one group of ladies was playing hearts while another was discussing the joys and sorrows of morphine. I could have used some. One of these senior ladies was suddenly very still, just staring at a wall. At this point, I started thinking about that bridge.

Pawlowski's turn. "I'll be brief," he promised, and then droned on himself for twenty-five minutes, quoting LBJ, Walt Whitman and the Old Testament to a crowd that was mostly there for the cookies and chips. He was asked about the 8th Street bridge. Why doesn't he let those poor homeless people, who live under the 8th Street bridge, alone? Will he ever install a screen so people can't jump? In the meantime, that one lady was still staring at the wall, and hadn't moved a bit.

Did these guys kill her? At this point, I was considering a jump myself, but finally, it was over.

Or so I thought.

"Before you go, we have a very short business meeting," announced Dan Mest. That's when the still lady miraculously rose from the dead to give a treasurer's report. She started describing the $136 this group has on hand in excruciating detail, right down to the $7.50 in contributions received last month. As she spoke, everyone in the room suddenly became very still, staring at walls.

That's it. I ran out of there and jumped off the 8th Street bridge. But I forgot I was wearing rubber underwear, so I just bounced.

I think I've been to enough candidates' nights for awhile.


Anonymous said...

BERNIE,Do not consider consider the thought of jumping off thee bridge, there would be no local coverage of ALLNTOWN City Councilrace With all the problems Allentown is facing, I read on your blog that Lou Hershman is the only candidate that at these meetings you are attending has proposed what he will do to address the problems that Allentown is facing ALSO, the only candidate that has held a news conference and has released press releaseson how he will face these challenes possibly the other candidates have no solutions how to solve Allentowns problems.Finally have you talked to the reporters at the morning call,easton express times, and channel 69 news why they ave not covered the events you are covering or not releasing any press releases of any candidates. I am sure Lou Hershman also shares his press releases with other news outlets. Again forget the bridge.

Anonymous said...

It was the cheeese sandwiches.
When you raved about the food at the event the night before, we were so disappointed we didn't go.

Anonymous said...

Funny about the Call. They spend entire full page ad photographing their "Consumer" watch reporter,
but not a word about consumer protection when it comes to city politics.

Anonymous said...

Some anons just don't either forgive or forget. Whatever.

What I find more interesting...
Just out of curiousity. What color nail polish?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect city candidates to show up to EVERY forum. some of them have families and jobs that require evening work. a good faith effort is what is necessary. the ones who showed up to both deserve props.

Anonymous said...

We need the trolleys back.
Just think of the parking issues in downtown Allentown; the fights with parking authority and city.
If we had the trolleys back, these issues would disappear.

Anonymous said...

Can't you delete this obnixous person's comments. 4:49 a.m.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Just out of curiousity. What color nail polish?"

I was thinking some kind of pumpkin color.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"I'm not sure it's reasonable to expect city candidates to show up to EVERY forum. some of them have families and jobs that require evening work. a good faith effort is what is necessary."

When 5 of 6 candidates fail to show at a forum intended to inform the public, it's a slap across the public's face. The night before, Guridy insisted that the video be turnede off. Last night, he did not show at all. I'm not seeing much of a good faith effort.

Anonymous said...

if julio is your target, then certainly he has more to prove. But you assume they didn't show for what appears to be neffarious reasons. at this time of year, there are 3 or 4 candidate forums a week. some of these peoples have other obligations. I'm sure they would love to be at all the forums but lets talk reality: even full-time politicians who get paid for full time gigs have competing obligations. this is life. you, sitting as a single male, renting an apartment without a full time employer to report to are the last person in the world to get the obligations that exist outside of campaigning. Julio deserves his slaps... I'm not sure it's fair for the others who are knocking on doors, attending events and showing a willingness to answer questions to be lumped into the same crowd.

still, good for the ones who showed. I'm sure people will be happy to have met them. they are all good people.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think the no shows should explain, as Hershman did, why they could not make it, and the moderator should explain the reason for their absence.

The night before, each candidate stressed how important these community groups are and I find the absence of 5 out of 6 hypocritical, especially when so many other candidates for other offices showed. I mention Julio, but even Schlossberg deserves a shot. He was a no show at the NAACP, sending his girlfriend. The following night, no Schloss, no girlfriend, no public explanation.

Ray O'Connell is the only council candidate who showed, and as you say, he does deserve the credit for that.

Chris Casey said...

Bernie, you go to these because you secretly love the torture of sitting through them.

Guridy insults the people of allentown with his website. He is an alumnae of ESU class of 84, but I wonder how he made it through school with such awful grammar. I am no expert, but his website is atrocious and difficult to follow.

This guy oversees investment for the DRJTBC? I find it had to believe he is overseeing anything.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I just called the DRJTBC and they refuse to release his salary w/o authorization. They'll eventually have to give it, and I have other ways of getting this info, but that's an indication to me of the climate in which Guridy has immersed himself. He is no public servant.

Anonymous said...

is it possible that they just didn't know there was an event? It sounded like there were some people who didn't know on Tuesday. Also, I'll point out that events are not the best way to meet voters. In 2 hours, the same length of many forums, I can knock on 20 doors and talk to 20 voters. They get uninterupted time with me and don't have to listen to the ramblings of some other candidate against whom I am not even running. They will be able to ask me more direct questions and get a better idea of me than they will at that forum.

Forums are good, but i know for a fact that Schlossberg (and I've had O'Connell knock on my door too), one of the people you mentioned, is out knocking on doors. He out knocked everybody in the primary and he's doing it now. As a blogger, you probably don't appreciate its value as much b/c you don't get to cover the conversations that happen in those face to face conversations, but sometimes, forums, as awesome as they could be, are not the best locations for this kind of democracy. Sometimes, the best democracy happens on front porches, in coffee shops and while walking the dog. Please don't dismiss that important interaction.

And by the sounds of it, the forum last night was terrible b/c people were allowed to go on for way to long with little public interaction. that doesn't sound like good democracy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I do not underestimate the value of knocking on doors. I do find it hypocritical to make all kinds of claims about community outreach and then absent yourself from an event attended by mayoral, magistrate and one city ouncil candidate.I agree the forum last night was horribe;. But I know, and you must too, that every one of those 44 seniors will vote in November. You win elections by being there for people like that.

Anonymous said...

"You win elections by being there for people like that."

You win elections many different ways... going to forums isn't the best and any city council candidate who has won an election in the past 8 years will tell you that you will do much better by knocking on doors than you will in going to every single community forum that is hosted in the city. Attend them, and attend at least 1/2 of them, but attending half of them is not going to get you a win. There is not a guarentee that all of those people will vote Bernie. Knocking on somebody's door is a virtual certainty for getting that person to know who you are and what you believe. Forums are no where near as effective.

And there is nothing hypocritcal about knocking on doors as a candidate's approach to community outreach. It is the absolute best approach to community outreach. If more candidates knocked on doors, we'd have a much better democracy. It's true democracy... one on one, discussing the future of our community.

I will point out one key thing: for city council races, door knocking is best. for district mag and county judge, forums are best. the profile of the race helps to underscore which outreach is most effective. But there are many ways to do effective, direct community outreach. those forums are probably the tactic that is least effective.

tinkerbell said...


Anonymous said...

People jump off the 8th street bridge because of paloser!!!! and his crew!!! a jump is better than four more years of insanity and lies.

they will all win and the jumpers will increase.

It is a sad statment that the best allentown can do is a chicago guy as mayor and his hand chosen henchmen. Machine politics, chicago-style, is at work in our queen city.

Wait for all the slick madison avenue mailers and robo calls funded by the play and pay warchest, paloser wins by a landslide.

Only question is if hershman knocks off the racist in the 4th spot on the demo ticket.

PS - he earns about $80K from his rendell appointment.

Anonymous said...

I find this topic in extremely poor taste. Suicide is not funny. Your joke is disrespectful to the grieving families of people who have jumped off the bridge.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then you must have really hated "The End," starring burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise. That made fun of both suicide and mental illness.

All humor is based on tragedy. You can laugh or you can cry.

Anonymous said...

BERNIE, this was HILARIOUS !!! As was your prior writings. I have been very busy with my event planning and biz but I HAD to comment on this,

Alfonso Todd
BLURB Media/Promotions

Bernie O'Hare said...

Keep up the good work, Alfonso. I thought I was sitting next to you Tuesday night at the NAACP debate, but the dude denied it "I get that a lot," he told me.

Anonymous said...

"They all look alike", right ohare

Anonymous said...

I feel that you are all sick and demented...............and not looking at the problem that exists...and not giving a damn.
Your city, your ignorance.
Wake up to your population and check in to it's needs.