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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, May 20, 2011

Molovinsky's Back

A few weeks ago, I removed my link to Michael Molovinsky's blog. I don't much care for him, nor he for me. But it was a mistake. His reporting about Allentown and its school district has been cutting edge, especially with the Queen City now intent on using eminent domain to brush minority-owned Hamilton Street businesses out of the way for a hockey rink.

It's Kelo v. New London all over again, except it's taking place here in the Lehigh Valley.

I have done you a disservice by delinking Molovinsky, and will learn to put up with the annoying little prick.


Doug Hoppe said...

Blog written about a prick by a prick. You almost reached honesty on this one BO.

Bill said...

I feel the love.

Vixen of Color said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Molovinsky is the only daily voice for hundreds of Allentonians. Thanks for bringing him back.

Anonymous said...

That hateful misogynist Donovan cited capitalism in the hands of rich white guys as the reason he supports throwing minority business owners out of their livlihoods in favor of ... rich white guys"

If Donovan said once, he said 20 times, "on my way to and from college."

What Allentown really needed was district-elected officials, so those currently on city council and supporting the mayor's hockey plan would at least be met at the voting booth.

Jon Geeting said...

Kelo v. New London permits exactly this use of eminent domain. It was right then and it's right now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:09, I f you want to smear someone, you'll have to sign your name. It's likely you can't do that.

Patrick McHenry said...

Geeting -

Shortly after Kelo, PA passed a law to prevent that kind of abuse.

If you were from the area, you would know this.

Anonymous said...

That's it Jon, keep advocating for Mother Government. Sure hope one day it gets you too so you can understand what it's like.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd disagree with Geeting's assertion that Kelo was "right then and it's right now." What a bare majority of the Supreme Court decided is that you only have the right to hold property until someone else comes along and proves he can use the property in a manner that better serves a public purpose. This more or less flies in the face of the fundamental right to property.

What Geeting is doing, lever puller that he is, is struggling to find some way to justify an arrogant display that defeats the very principles of progressivism that he supposedly claims are so dear. I suspect this has little to do with clear thinking and a lot to do with protecting a bad move by Pawlowski.

And let me hasten to add that I think a hockey rink is a great idea. I just don't consider that a justification for eminent domain.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

The move will affect the poor living in the area and many of the properties and/or businesses are owned by minorities. This is just one of many such moves in Allentown in recent years.

It was ironic to see the Democrat Mayor and Democrat City Council once again sticking it to the "little guys" that they always claim to be protecting.

I hope that people will come to realize Democrat politicians talk a good game (and will claim to protect you) in order to get your vote, but they will stab you in the back the first chance they get.

michael molovinsky said...

let me take this opportunity to educate bernie's readers how viable that block of hamilton street is. each one of those stores has at least several employees. if one from the burbs would visit, they would be shocked to witness the steady flow of patrons. this is their mall, especially for those who do not own an automobile. there is an element of racism involved by those who dismiss this commerce. the taxpayers should consider how much they invested into this block over the years, hoping to keep some business alive on hamilton. in addition to disenfranchising the property rights of those merchants directly affected, it will reduce business and foot traffic on the remaining south side of the street. instead of boosting the restaurants, the traffic congestion from events would discourage the regular existing patrons, and the hockey fans will drive straight home after games; they are not the martini crowd for sangria and the cosmopolitan. the arena may be a plus on under used or vacant land as originally planned. pawlowski has a sugar plum idea that he can revitalize the entire center city with a minor league team from a minor sport. he has already claimed that the arena could attract over 1.5 million visitors, while 40 home hockey games really attracts 140,000. the arena would have to entertain over 4,000 people each day of the year to realize what pawlowski said thursday evening. of course city council couldn't wait to accept and approve that nonsense. mm

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of the arena. As a lifelong resident, it's good to see steps taken to clean up Hamilton St and get rid of the tattoo shops and check cashing joints. How Molovinsky thinks those shops are a good thing just shows his utter disdain for the "arrogant" leadership. He's a contrarian, nothing more.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the 9:02 post by BOH but still support the decision. Anything to revitalize downtown Allentown is OK by me.

If it's too much of a pain in the ass, then move it somewhere else and let downtown further fester. Molovinsky can go buy some NY Fashions and get a tattoo.

Anonymous said...

molovinsky - The value of the arena isn't solely hockey games. It's concerts that are now going to Wilkes Barre and Reading. The concerts and events will bring more people and money than hockey will. Surely, you understand this basic concept. And in case you didn't notice, there are PLENTY of vacant storefronts ready and willing to take relocated businesses who will be grossly overpaid for the inconvenience.

michael molovinsky said...

there is not one check cashing store on that block, and only one tatoo parlor, and it's on a second floor. btw, those tatoo's show up better on white skin. where did you get yours? please don't reply, i just stopped by for a moment to thank bernie for reinstating the link to my blog, and defend the merchants against your ilk.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" it's good to see steps taken to clean up Hamilton St and get rid of the tattoo shops and check cashing joints."

Here we go again. That was the same smear made when LANTA changed bus routes on Hamilton Street a few years ago. It's the same smear being made again.

Basically, the argument is that eminent domain is justified bc Pawlowski is attempting to gentrify the area. It's an insult to the many hard-working businesses in that area.

Although not mentioned, what Allentown is doing will amount to a construction eviction against many of the businesses who will lose foot traffic as a result of these changes. Is Allentown prepared to pay eminent domain money for that, too?

Capri said...

I think Bernie brings up a good point that there are several businesses and also the Farr Lofts in the immediate vicinity of the site that will face negative ramifications if this crappy plan moves forward that could very well sue the city to be included in the eminent domain and receive settlement.

Whethervain said...

It's about time ;-)

Anonymous said...

Donovan, a tenured professor at a women's college, referred to Congressman Michelle Bachman as a "vixen." This is how he belittled and objectified a woman with whom he disagrees on a political issue. Now, he supports the taking of livelihoods from people of color. All the while he feigns indignation of rich white guys. I don't know Donovan except from his very public positions and statements. They are disturbing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You seem to have an irrational fixation on Donovan. This post is not about him or your feigned indignation at one intemperate remark.

Sanctifying Grace said...

Although, I was not alive during the "revitalization" / condemnation process in Downtown Easton (of the 1960's) many living downtown were immediately impacted by the city's proactive and progressive thinking.

Whole city blocks were torn down to make way for vast improvements to Easton. While tearing down those homes, a giant tax base was rooted out of Easton and into the surrounding areas, outside of Easton's city limits.

Today, the city of Easton still struggles at the very least, to fill the void of the mass exodus of all of that missing tax base. In reality, nothing has been successful on those areas that were acquired by eminent domain. It wasn't only until recently that the Social Security Office, was moved into this area. (I find it troubling that the best use of this land is for a government office.)

Yet, I never experienced living in the ethnically enriched communities of these condemned properties, I am very much slighted by not having lived there. My (extended) family, along with many other families (some poor, some working class, and some even wealthy and prominent) lived in these homes.

Many generations have been harmed by not being able to living in unity in those short, few blocks of Downtown Easton. But the overall loser was Easton.

I am not well versed on the situation in Allentown. I am not sure if my expose is relevant. But I cringe every time I hear of eminent domain. I believe it is always wrong and must be used cautiously and sparingly; even in the case of right of way for a highway or travel way.

Maybe in a big city something like a hockey rink can outweigh the possible negative impacts of eminent domain. In the Lehigh Valley, governments should be the minimum, serving the immediate needs of the people. It should be about service to the people.

Hockey rinks and any revenue it will generate is not about serving the needs of the people. It might be a long range plan to create monies and an environment to may better assist the government and its citizens way down the road.

But there are major problems that are more prevalent. Protecting the citizens and the citizens' properties should be number one on the local government's priority list. Cleaning the rubbish off of the streets is something minimal that need to be addressed.

I love progress. But a standard of minimal living needs to be address. A hockey rink is something wonderful, but at what expense? I perceive that the cart is being put before the horse on this one.

Peace, ~~~alex+

Scott said...

Just build the damn thing already! On the riverfront, next to Coca Cola Park or by the Sands Casino.

The Iron Pigs have demonstrated that the Lehigh Valley is a viable market for minor league sports. It will succeed where ever the put it.

As to forcing it into downtown Atown, I am torn. I think an arena down there could lead to better times for restaurants and retail, but it won't happen overnight.

From what I've read 50% have agreed to sell. That tells me the city hasn't really been lowballing people for their properties.

E D at the moment is just a threat, I would hope that the property owners and city can reach an agreement soon and not drive up the costs of building down there either through price gouging or court costs.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should have obama get you two together to share a beer and pretzels to settle your diffrence and bury the hatchet

Patrick McHenry said...

Scott -

The Mayor has created a downtown where many might be eager to sell - especially those who are from out of town and hold vacant buildings. That's probably the majority of the 50% you cite.

So then you have to look at arriving at a fair price with those who are remaining and whose properties have tenants or active businesses. The owners left have poured their time, money and dreams into the downtown under the most difficult circumstances. They stayed despite the difficulties, and now are being told they must move.

But what is a fair price? Is it market value before the downtown arena was announced? Is it the value that it will have to the arena project? Should it be equivalent to whatever the market value of surrounding properties will be at after the arena?

You also have to take into account the value of the businesses (business valuations take time), the costs of moving, etc.

The bottom line is, they shouldn't have to move if they don't want to. The properties are theirs. This is not a legitimate public use and this is not the only location the project can be built. The city owns plenty of land that would not require taking anyone's property.

Patrick McHenry said...

Bernie -

I'm glad to see that there's a bit of a thaw in the Molovinsky-O'Hare relationship. I never thought we'd see it.

Maybe there is hope for peace in the Middle East. :)

Anonymous said...

Leave to to two grumpy, contrarians to state gentrification is a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

Alex knows his Easton history and accurately portrayed the decline and fall, brought about when the good intentions of urban redevelopment collided with the law of unintended consequences.

Easton's greater downtown area bustled with low-crime Syrian, Lebanese, Italian, African-American and Lithuanian enclaves and neighborhoods. The Italian and Lebanese ladies washed their stoops each day and one could walk the streets safely at any hour. It was a rich cultural and economic environment where everybody had a sense of community and everybody got along.

Then, they were gone, in the name of government social and economic engineering for some greater good. Businesses left after the people for places like Palmer and Forks and downtown was never the same.

The few nights hockey is actually played (40, maybe), coupled with the few nights concerts are held, will not be enough to entice businesses who need cash flow on a regular basis vs. a special event basis. Many cities have tried this, at great cost to their existing tax base, and failed.

And at what cost? Check-cashing is a legitimately observed symptom of a rough neighborhood. But it's not the problem. The problem is a lower income, transaction based economy that the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder.

Eminent domainers know this well. That's why what they really want is the clientele gone by way of eliminating the businesses and services that cater to them. It's like rounding up the homeless ahead of each party's political conventions. Only, it's aimed at taxpaying business people who are contributors to the culture and economy. And they deserve the same opportunity as Polish and Irish and Lebanese and Italians.

brenda said...

As a very frequent flyer to this business area, I must share my voice.

Anything less than a full scale hospital system, paid for entirely by state and federal funds, open to anyone and everyone, 24/7, no charges apply for any visit or procedure.......

Allentown can take its eminent domain idea and shove it up its arse

Scott said...

"The bottom line is, they shouldn't have to move if they don't want to."

I really don't have a dog in this fight and don't at the end of the day care where its built, but if this is a project that could ultimately benefit the downtown area and the city of Allentown as a whole, is it fair for one (or a small group say) person to just dig their heels in and screw the rest of the city?

Trust me, I know that the benefits of the arena and some of the projections are dubious. For one thing, they better have the American Parkway bridge completed by the time they want to open this thing otherwise nobody will come.

Not being an expert on real estate in the area, the city should pay/buy the current property owners similar space within a two block radius of the project.

Patrick McHenry said...

Scott -

We have a country that has been built on the right to pursue your dreams and keep the fruits of your labor, and the right to purchase and own property as you are able.

Suppose you owned a property and your neighbor wanted it. If you wanted to sell, the two of you might reach an agreement quickly. If you didn't want to sell, your neighbor would have to either look elsewhere or pay whatever price you were asking.

He wouldn't be able to tell you that if you didn't like his offer, he'd be back in four months to take your property. That would be theft, even if he gave you some amount of cash that he felt was fair.

In essence, that is what the city is doing here. They are abusing a law that allows the taking of land for a true public purpose when their are no other options. An arena that hasn't even received a bit of public scrutiny and that could be located elsewhere is not a legitimate public use.

P.S. - One person at the meeting suggested a site that had many acres, could provide ample parking, and had great access from multiple directions. The site was the Allentown Golf Course.

I guess City Council didn't take that suggestion seriously because the city would have to lose some of its own income-producing property.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Hamilton St. is the housing just behind. Ed Pawlowski, the former low income housing advocate, “vacated” his principles on these neighborhoods even before he became mayor. Ed ignores the plight of Allentown’s downtown low income residents in favor of more grandiose schemes that will, in his fevered brain, magically transform Allentown into a vehicle capable of launching him into a bigger and better elective office.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

After years of legal maneuvering, pushing out the property owners from their homes, and having the Supreme Court of the US declare that the government can take private property from a citizen and give that property to another citizen (corporate or otherwise) for economic development, the area that was seized by eminent domain in New London, CT is now a slum because the pharmaceutical company (the anchor for the redevelopment) backed out of the deal citing the economy. I also realized on that day that I no longer lived in the United States of America.

Anonymous said...

THINK,people,THINK, Not much has changed since the indians/native americans were moved out for PROGRESS.Can you give me an example of a deed thats eternal.Bernie ,you do title searches,give your wisdom on this topic.

Anonymous said...

me thinks Mr. Armstrong ran for the wrong office

Bernie O'Hare said...

"gentrification is a bad thing."

Gentrification is a bad thing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" if this is a project that could ultimately benefit the downtown area and the city of Allentown as a whole, is it fair for one (or a small group say) person to just dig their heels in and screw the rest of the city?"

Yes. Eminent domain should simply never be used for "economic development" projects. If a school, hospital or some public project essential to the public health, welfare and safety is needed, I'm all for it. But not a hockey rink.

And ironically, it has not been established that this is even a good idea for the rest of the city.

Anonymous said...

The Mcall has a story about latino growth in the valley. I knew w/o a friggin doubt that the comment section would be disabled. Why is the paper so gosh-darned fearful about allowing public comment on such stories?

Bernie O'Hare said...

For the same reason that I will disable anonymous comments. People can say hurtful and cruel things when they do not have to take responsibility for it.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Shouldn't eminent domain be used as a LAST resort, and ONLY for projects that satisfy a pressing public need?

Of course, this desperate government option should only be used in situations where there are NO other location options available?

I believe, if this arena project has enough merit, the city will simply have to pay the holdouts enough to make their move profitable.

EVERYTHING is for sale, at the right price!

Anonymous said...

I look forward with great anticipation to attending hockey in downtown Allentown and afterwords being shot, stabbed , robbed, raped and sodomized by the thugs that reside there.

Anonymous said...

Ah Brenda-Tricia adds her 2 cents. I need a back rub woman!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Notice this "liberal" comeback. As long as the coward can remain anonymous, he reveals himself as a misogynist.

Anonymous said...

Gentrification is a bad thing.

You prefer dilapidated cities? I see.

As to the Retired teacher's comments. One only need to be a little familiar with Kelo vs New London. Not that I agree with it but it is precedent. And eminent domain IS the last resort.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Gentrification is a bad thing. The very word implies a snobbery and elitism that should have no place in local government.

Anonymous said...

Again, you prefer condemned and dilapidated property to restored and tax-producing properties. That is one of the most ignorant positions I have ever heard.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then you must have just started reading me.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think you advocated the slow decay of the valley and tax increases over renewal and higher tax bases. Your feigned humility doesn't buy you points with your readership. It just makes you look uninformed and ignorant.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Look. I oppose municipal-opposed gentrification bc the people behind it are usually a bunch of elitist snobs, who push people out of the way to make room for themselves. It's been going on since we started turning out the Indians, but I don't like it. I see it justified for all kinds of reasons, form the removal of blight to new jobs. But that's all bullshit. It is almost always a power play by those who have against those who don't. In the end, it almost always fails.

So you go right ahead and try to justify this to yourself, but don't try to justify it to me.