Morning Call columnist Bill White ranks Cunningham #1 among the last three mayors for each of the LV's cities. "He has demonstrated himself to be a prudent manager of public money, a very good ceremonial mayor and a tough adversary when confronted with opposition. He's a forward thinker who knows how to sell what he wants. Most significantly, he began the process of bringing Bethlehem back from the hole it faced with Bethlehem Steel's collapse."
But in a June 17 fundraising letter, Callahan is now telling everyone that Bethlehem was a mess when he took over. “When I became mayor our city was faced with a lot of challenges. Bethlehem Steel had shut down, leaving a huge hole in our economy and our tax base. Jobs were lost, crime and debt were up and our spirit was bent (but not broken).”
Interesting. Bethlehem Steel ended hot-end steel production in Bethlehem in 1995, three years before John Callahan became a City Council member.
Cunningham’s biography, on the Lehigh County Website, tells us this about his stewardship as Bethlehem City Mayor between 1998 and 2003:
“Don is best known as the former mayor of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he led the economic renaissance of Bethlehem from a city that lost nearly 25 percent of its tax base with the closing of Bethlehem Steel Corp. to the city today with two flourishing downtown retail districts and $2 billion in new investment.”
He's claiming now that debt was up when he took over as Bethlehem's Mayor, but in 2005, Callahan himself told the Morning Call that Cunningham had reduced Bethlehem's debt by $67 million, from $339 million to $272 million. (1)
“John Callahan will say anything to get elected, and now he’s even contradicting himself at the expense of his political ally to beef up his resume,” said Shawn Millan, campaign manager, Charlie Dent for Congress.
1. “Callahan refutes claims on predecessor's record ** He says Cunningham, running for Lehigh executive, cut debt,” Dan Hartzell Of The Morning Call. Oct 27, 2005