That's what Morning Call reporter Jarrett Renshaw suggests today, in a disturbing account about Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski's controversial $10 million loan in 2006. $4.8 million was deposited in a "lock box" that could be invaded only for emergencies, and only with prior Council approval.
But it now looks like Pawlowski broke into that piggy bank to plug holes in his 2009 budget, and without city council approval. He claims he's in the clear because he hasn't done it officially. ''The money will be used on paper to cover the 2009 deficit and will be reimbursed by the proceeds of the property sales.'' That's kinda' like a bank robber claiming he's innocent because he never "officially" announced his intentions. If this is just a paper transaction, why does Hizzoner have to reimburse the lock box with sale proceeds that the city has yet to receive?
He's playing games.
Update: I've just been informed that th lock box bank account still shows a balance at or higher than the $4.8 million required, even though overall cash reserves for the city dipped below that number.
How is that possible? Here’s how:
The Mayor took a short-term borrowing from the EIT (earned income tax) escrow fund to cover the city’s cash needs and to keep him from having to actually dip into the lockbox account. By taking this short term “loan”, he was able to technically avoid tapping the “lockbox” account. Still, the cash on hand (all accounts, including the lockbox account) at year-end will show a combined balance below what the lockbox is supposed to hold (and presumably a related liability to replenish the EIT escrow fund).
Either way, the Mayor has lowered total cash reserves below the lockbox amount, or he’s done some borrowing without proper approval. To my knowledge, borrowing from the escrow fund was never approved by council, and I’m not even sure if it is legal to do so (I always thought escrow funds were untouchable). If council were acting responsibly, one would think they’d be holding public hearings on the matter since they might all be held responsible for raiding an escrow account.