Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Is Sara Hailstone?

We all know that she heads up Allentown's Department of Community and Economic Development, where she pulls in $87,000. We know that she served as Director of Scranton's Office of Community and Economic Development for a few years, and also worked for the state DCED. but what is her background? Where did she go to school? Did she get her jobs because of what she knows, or who she knows?

A profile by allBusiness indicates that Hailstone first came to prominence in 1999, when she took over the management of First Night Scranton as a Project Manager for Scranton Tomorrow, a tourist agency. She also came up with the idea of a "Happy Hour" and "Parties in the Park" at a struggling local museum. Prior to that, she was apparently employed at The Limited, a women's clothing store.

Does any of this sound like a reason to appoint her to direct Community and Economic Development in Scranton? According to Scranton gadfly Joe Pilchesky, who publishes a controversial Internet site called Doherty Deceit, Hailstone got the job when Mayor Chris Doherty assumed office because of her family's political connections.

Her brother-in-law, Rob Farrell, happens to be Scranton's Solicitor. Her sister, Alyce Hailstone-Farrell is a Scranton District Judge. Her father, Andrew Hailstone, is an attorney who raised money for Doherty when he ran for mayor.

Now Pilchesky, who most recently claims that Judge Hailstone may be fixing tickets, ranted about Sara so much that her sister, the judge, called the Pennsylvania State Police and requested them to investigate the matter as a "threat" case. Never mind that no specific threat was ever mentioned. In the meantime, her brother, another attorney, went to work on the site administrator and met with an Assistant DA. Her father had a "lawyer's letter" hand-delivered to Pilchesky.

Though he had no Court Order, a trooper convinced the web host to shut down Pilchesky's site until he determined that there was no basis for even a harassment prosecution, although Sara did feel threatened.

Pilchesky ended up successfully suing the PSP, enlisting the ACLU as an ally. You can read a lot of the documentation on his narrative, The Family That Tried to Silence Your Free Speech, which includes links to PSP reports.

Now Pilchesky bothers me. When he addresses Scranton City Council, he refers to himself as a "political activist and advocate for free speech." He also throws the term, "We, the People" around an awful lot. His wife Joanne was just sent to jail for looting her father's estate. And for someone who assails local government as financially irresponsible, he ran into his own jam 2 years ago when he fell behind on his real estate taxes.

He's no Abraham Lincoln.

On the other hand, his world is the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton area, where judges sell kids for cash and County Commissioners are convicted of bribery.

Once installed in Allentown, one of the first things Hailstone did was order all staff to cease communication with the Allentown Authority. The idea of stabilizing Hamilton Street with mixed income residents had become passe, far less important than the empty Cosmopolitan or a hockey arena on a sinkhole. She's sweeping the mostly minority merchants off the streets to make way for Happy Hour at the Hockey Rink. As blogger Michael Molovinsky has noted, "Save for them, we would have no downtown. We have rewarded their lifetime of work, loyalty and investment with deceit and threats."

Before publishing this piece, I contacted both Pilchesky and Hailstone for comment, but received no reply.

Updated 11:29 AM: I am told Hailstone has a Master's from University of Scranton. This is unverified.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie, Who is Sara Hailstone ? Obviously she's the perfect fit for Allentown.I hope she resigns quietly with out the tax-payers having to give her a bundle of $$$$ which she gives a kickback back to the person who hired her. Good grief is that the best Allentown can do.

Anonymous said...

This lady is such an asshole. I haven't met anyone who has a favorable opinion of her, and when I had the displeasure of meeting her I understood why- she is rude, secretive, and just has a disgusting attitude towards public service.

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Sara if you read this please ignore the comments against you. I one support you and your efforts. You are a breath of fresh air to an area where the establishment of people who grew up during the Dodona administration. We need people that are young like you and I to revitalize this city, not to try to return it to the period of Hess's. That time has come and gone. Time to move forward. Keep up the good work Sara.

pistol barrels said...

She must be really smart handling technical stuffs.

Anonymous said...

with those qualifications she could be Stoffa's Director of Human Services or even head administrator!

Anonymous said...

She's bright and energetic. leave her alone.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this pick by the Allentown Mayor was dubious at best. This pick has no educational background or body of work that would have qualified her for the position. I find it amazing that it took this long for someone to pick up on this. She has no experience other than her political patronage job once held in Scranton. Why was she not publicly vetted before given the job. Where was City Council on this?

Anonymous said...

Oh No! Bernie, how ever did you get Hallstone to pose like this? She looks so unprofessional. One can only envision her checking out construction of Allentown's new arena in her five-inch heels.

Anonymous said...

"Time to move forward. Keep up the good work Sara."

And what is that?

Anonymous said...

Where did Hallstone go to college?
What was her degree.

Now, there is a lot to be said for
being a community public relations official. A very attractive former
Allentonian is now enjoying the sights and sounds of Washington DC.
Some say she got the last laugh.

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Your blog is kind of frightening in that it shows how influential people can shut someone up.

Anonymous said...

"This pick has no educational background or body of work that would have qualified her for the position."

What is her education and work experience besides The Limited? Let us decide if she's qualified or not.

Monkey Momma said...

Besides kicking out the folks between 7th and 8th street on Hamilton, where has Hailstone been downtown? Has she visited ANY businesses? I've never seen her OR the mayor on Hamilton.

Bernie, when do you think Hailstone's extended family will hand YOU a "lawyer's letter"?!

Anonymous said...

Bernie
Aren't you afraid of her family? We are.

Anonymous said...

Like all the members of ACIDA, she was appointed by King Edwin to loyally serve and do as told. Based on her poor job qualifications, ill concieved appointment and political connections, we all know her next job will be with Allentown School District. Meanwhile Allentown City Councill continues to sit on their hands and do nothing while King Edwin runs the City unchecked.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing. With history so easy to research via the Internet, did the Hailstone family believe their heavy-handedness wouldn't come out? Read that profile link you posted on Sara. No where does it say where or if she even went to college.

Anonymous said...

Based on her poor job qualifications, ill concieved appointment and political connections, we all know her next job will be with Allentown School District."

Well that means she'll probably get a $500K package!

Anonymous said...

Can someone confirm Ms. Hailstone's academic qualifications? I would expect that an $87,000 per year community development department head would at least have a minimum of a graduate degree in Public Adminstration or Business Adminstration with at least 10-15 years of relative experience. Does City Council do anything?

Anonymous said...

Dude, you can't leave this out. First link on Google.

"Hailstone currently serves as Northeast Regional Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. As regional director, Hailstone acts as the department’s liaison to economic and community development projects in 15 counties."

Rocky Balboa said...

A little comparison is in order here:

ALLENTOWN

Sara Hailstone
Director
Community and Economic Development
435 Hamilton Street
Allentown, PA 18101
hailstones@allentowncity.org
610-437-7610



BETHLEHEM

Joe Kelly
Director
Community and Economic Development
10 East Church Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018-6025
jkelly@bethlehem-pa.gov
610-865-7056



PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE

Joe Kelly - attorney
Sara Hailstone - retail clerk



COMMENTARY

Someone is out of their league. I think it is Joe Kelly. He should try working at The Limited, a women's clothing store. Of course, John Callahan picked Joe Kelly for the job. Evidently, modest level of retail experience and connections are the only qualifications.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, when do you think Hailstone's extended family will hand YOU a "lawyer's letter"?!"

I don't think they'll be making that mistake again. Besides, I tried to be fair to her.

Anonymous said...

Noone mentioned anything about this girl dancing on table tops with Easton's Economic Development Director. Witnessed that with my own eyes.

Anonymous said...

Your muck-raking site is much better than the Pilchesky Scranton muck-raking sire, Bernie.

I think it's the pictures that make the difference.

Anonymous said...

U Scranton = 13th grade.

Anonymous said...

"Pilchesky Scranton muck-raking sire"
I guess there is such a thing as a Freudian typo.

Anonymous said...

She looks just like Tony Soprano's sister Janice. They could be twins.

Anonymous said...

Annon 11:16 -

Those two do like to pary.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I think Anon 808am has it right. Hailstone isn't making any decisions, she's doing what Pawlowski is telling her to do.

The Banker

Lighthouse said...

regarding 2:19 pm, you better be careful Bernie. Things didn't end so well for Richie.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to say what you've just said, you'll have to identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

Miss Hailstone was my boss for several months lets just say Ihave shoes older smarter and with more personality than her I was told by someone in the kings court (after months of her being on the job)I should introduce myself and inform her of progress being made and share up coming projects and IDEAS my reply Surely you jest

Anonymous said...

Miss Hailstone was my boss for several months lets just say Ihave shoes older smarter and with more personality than her I was told by someone in the kings court (after months of her being on the job)I should introduce myself and inform her of progress being made and share up coming projects and IDEAS my reply Surely you jest

Anonymous said...

"Miss Hailstone was my boss for several months lets just say Ihave shoes older smarter and with more personality than her I was told by someone in the kings court (after months of her being on the job)I should introduce myself and inform her of progress being made and share up coming projects and IDEAS my reply Surely you jest"



punctuate much?
if you're gonna criticize someone's job performance, best you at least try throwing a random comma or period in there.

Capri said...

"punctuate much?
if you're gonna criticize someone's job performance, best you at least try throwing a random comma or period in there."

...

If you're going to criticize someone's grammar, it's best to use actual words and to relate nouns, verbs, and adjectives together in a sensible manner.

Anonymous said...

All I know is she is frequently seen "out and about" drinking at bars & social events. She is also often seen on the arm of various male politicians.

As others have stated, she seems to be a Pawloski Puppet.

Anonymous said...

Why is everybody so surprised Allentown hired somebody that's less than qualified for the job?

Puzzled,

International Brotherhood of Water is Wet

Anonymous said...

I can't tell by the photo but is she hot?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Whether she is "hot" is irrelevant to the job. She is a very attractive woman, by the way, and the picture does not do her justice.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

You'll have to identify yourself if you want that comment to stand.

Anonymous said...

I would not want to mess with Tony Soprano's sister. But that's me, if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

"If you're going to criticize someone's grammar, it's best to use actual words and to relate nouns, verbs, and adjectives together in a sensible manner."

Actually, it seemed quite readable, if a tad chatty. what words weren't "actual"?

Anonymous said...

"Gonna" is not a word. Sorry. And you might want to capitalize words that begin a sentence.

Anonymous said...

in formal written dialogue, sure. in the chatty confines of a blog, not required. kinda like texting. (see, i know "kinda" isn't a real word either,but i chose to use it).

Anonymous said...

I can fill you in a little more on her educational background.

She attended Marywood University in Scranton, not the University of Scranton, from 1992-1996. She does have a BA from the school, and I am likely incorrect, but my memory keeps telling me that it was in Accounting or Business Administration. And I only think this because I remember meeting her for the first time through a friend of mine who was a business major, and I am pretty sure they had classes together. This is 17 or 18 years ago, so I may be wrong.

I can tell you that she had more than a passing interest in Public Relations, as I was a communications Major, and she asked me about what I thought about her switching to that major...what were the profs like, did I think it was a good program, etc.

I know this because I attended Marywood with her.

My personal experiences with Miss Hailstone from college are all positive. She was a very positive, high-energy personality during our student government meetings. She was a type A over-achiever who seemed to somehow be able to balance what was a very busy schedule, because she worked in retail at that time (not after she graduated, which is what seems to be implied).

I have no knowledge of how she operates in her professional life, so I can't speak to that. But I know that personally, I had no issues with her, even when I disagreed with her on something. She never seemed to take it personally if someone did disagree with her. A career in politics will make anyone cynical and distrustful, however.

As a background to all of this, I will say that my years in Scranton were shock. It is so much more of small town mindset than even the LV metro, because unlike the LV, which has had something of a stable population due to migration by Portuguese, Dominican and Puerto Rican natives, SWB was always losing population. So unlike the LV, where old names and families left or died out and were replaced by newer names and faces, the old names have been in Scranton forever, and grudges and judgements are made INSTANTLY based on who you work with, where you work, who you know, and who your family is. This was so close-minded to me as someone who did not grow up there. What does someone's great uncle have to do with their character?

This is not to say that anything said about Miss Hailstone is incorrect in regards to her experience as Scranton's OECD. I would have no idea. It's only that when dealing with anything remotely political from that region, the long lines of family and professional rivalries go back so far and are so tangled, that it's impossible to know what the real reason is for the criticism.

I hope this at least clears up the question about her educational background and work experience for sure.

To recap:

I KNOW she graduated from Marywood, because I was at the graduation ceremony taping it for re-broadcast on the school's CCTV network and DVD replication for sale. She walked on stage and got her diploma. I just don't remember the major.

I KNOW she worked at the Limited as a student. But that she moved away from Scranton for a brief time for work after graduating. Then came back in 1999 as the OECD. So, as far as I know, she did not jump right from the Limited to the OECD. She had a degree and was working doing something in her field for 3 years prior to 1999.

Hope this is informative

Bernie O'Hare said...

It was, and I thank you.

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Anonymous said...

Scranton also hired a consulting firm at $60K a year to help Sara do her job when she was OECD director. It's not what you know in this town.

Anonymous said...

Scranton's OECD also has an 11.5 million dollar audit finding from HUD that represents millions of dollars inappropriately allocated and spent by that office.

Bernie Maopolski said...

I'm from Scranton and I know Sara very well. The article contains inaccuracies which should concern the reader as to where the author got his information. In a world of Google these things are simple to confirm. #1 being Scranton Tomorrow is not a tourist organization #2 Rob has not been the solicitor since before 2011 and everyone from Scranton with an IQ above 75 knows Pichelsky is a nut. I can tell you that Sara comes from a close knit family of accomplished people that have always dedicated themselves to public service. Are they "connected"? Sure, but because they do so much for people and people know they can count on them, they are tapped to help where needed.

In 1999 when I met Sara I was part of First Night 2000 in Scranton. We had just lost our manager and Sara was brought on fresh from college to take over the job. I was young then and she is younger than me so she was pretty young. I'm not sure what most other people do at that age except work at places like the Limited. (such hypocrisy - what if she had a political job at 18, then what would the writer say?) Anyway she literally saved that event which was a smashing success for the city of Scranton. I believe that is when downtown Scranton turned the corner so to speak and businesses and life came back to what was really a mess. You know what else, her whole family volunteered and helped too. My final note to the haters in Allentown, if you don't want her, we'll take her back! We can use her energy and knowledge so maybe we can have 1 billion dollars in new development too!

Thank You
BERNIE MAOPOLSKI

Charlie Sc said...

http://www.bondbuyer.com/authors/sara-hailstone-1601.html?csite=distressed-municipalities

Someone tried to re-susitate this post, so I thought it was valuable to post some facts. In addition to 15 years of high-level professional experience, Ms. Hailstone does have a masters degree.

Charlie Sc said...

http://www.bondbuyer.com/authors/sara-hailstone-1601.html?csite=distressed-municipalities

Someone tried to re-susitate this old post, so I thought it was valuable to post some facts. In addition to over 15 years of high level professional experience, Ms. Hailstone does have a masters degree in management.