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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Trade Unions To Hanover Township: Nix NIZ Suit

Mike fleck (far right) organizes union invasion
Fed up by Allentown's plans to build a hockey arena, hotel and office space with Hanover Township's Earned Income Tax (EIT), Supervisors unanimously authorized Solicitor Jim Broughal to sue during their March 13 meeting. Two other municipalities - Bethlehem and Lower Saucon Townships - have since decided to join this legal challenge, aimed at Allentown's tax grab. But with litigation looming, Allentown has launched its own preemptive strike at Hanover Township.

An invasion.  

About thirty Lehigh Valley trade union members invaded Hanover Township on March 27 to ask Supervisors to reconsider that lawsuit. Their general? Allentown Mayor Edwin Pawlowski's campaign manager, Mike Fleck. In addition to his campaign gigs, he also does public relations work for the trade unions.

Before the meeting, Fleck pointed out that Hanover Township had no problem taking about $170,000 in casino money last year. But he admitted that most townships, boroughs and even legislators had no idea that the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) legislation, first enacted in 2009, authorized this tax grab.

Fleck stated that, as a courtesy, he had called Hanover Township to inform them that union members would be at the Supervisors' Meeting. But Township Manager Jay Finnigan stated that his first warning, about an hour before the meeting, was a telephone call from Channel 69.

As thirty plus union members crammed into the Township's small meeting room, one very large Colonial Region police officer stood quietly, in the rear of the room. There was no need. The crowd was courteous.

"We're desperate out there." Francis Loughny
Lehigh Valley Building Trades President Brett Helfrich, who lives in Schnecksville, told Supervisors that their EIT is a "small price to pay." Union organizer and carpenter Francis Loughney, who lives in New Tripoli, was a little more blunt. "We need those jobs," he said. "We're desperate out there." Hellertown resident Kevin Lott, who represents 800 carpenters reminded Supervisors that "Hanover Township does not stand alone. You are part of the Lehigh Valley's community."

"This is something that's going to help a weak part of our community, which is Allentown. They need the help," Lott concluded.

Three union members who live in the Township - Joe Farrell, Greg Horne and Paul Anthony - also addressed Supervisors about the need for jobs.

When they had all finished speaking, the invasion had failed. Chairman John Diacogiannis thanked everyone for coming and stated he appreciates their support for Allentown, where he happens to work himself. But he pointed out that Allentown has been reluctant to provide information about the tax revenue that would be lost. "The litigation will speak for itself," Diacogiannis stated, declining any further comment.

Solicitor Jim Broughal was even briefer. "I have no report," he stated at the end of the meeting.

When Supervisors meet again on Tuesday, April 10, at the Township's Municipal Building on Jacksonville Road, Broughal will likely have a more lengthy report.

Blogger's Note: I have two video interviews with Mike Fleck and LV Bldg Trades Prez Brett Helfrich:

Updated 9:04 AM to correct two minor factual errors. There were three, not two Hanover residents. Jay Finnigan was told the union was coming by Channel 69, not a newspaper.


Anonymous said...

Seriously, thses guys have Mike Fleck doing their peomotional work. Am I missing something. How does an unemployable talentless dude like Fledck end up doing this kind if stuff.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why their city council didn't vote to support them?

Allentown democrat Voter

Anonymous said...

Thugs. Bullys. Intimidation. All of these rule the day in Allentown. Sad.

Anonymous said...

yes, this is a small price to pay to construct a regional sports stadium.

When completed, this would be a destination point for Families to enjoy an afternoon or evening event.
Also remember that a job created in this area, wouldn't exist without the renaissance.

Anonymous said...

While you were interviewing Fleckster, his minions were using the township dumpster to get rid of old campaign material. It's the old razzle-dazzle for dumpster squatters.

Anonymous said...

Now I know why my newspaper was late this morning. Fleck stayed up late in Hanover.

Eyes Wide Open said...

No offense to these hard working construction workers, but it's obvious they don't see the larger picture. You can't let a corrupt city government do as it pleases because it will create some jobs "temporarily".

If jobs are that hard to come by in that line of business where you will lay down and let a government walk all over you and your friends, you need to find a new career path. It's not that hard, it's really not.

Anonymous said...

I've heard this over the years, in Penna. its difficult to do business in Penna.

Regionalism is what is needed.

Sam White said...

typical union crybabies.........

Anonymous said...

Fleck was a non-union paperboy.

Anonymous said...

Help us, Help us, cries a supposed "leader".

Leave the womb and help yourselves. The LV is chock full of non-union tradesman who are wildly successful, who live in fine homes and could buy and sell many of us.

They did not get there by waiting around for the phone to ring or getting some whore representative to legislate them a job. They got off their asses, put their own monies at risk, drummed up the business, provided value and earned the next job. They didn't just join the game, they are the game. Union boys can't hang with them, so they buy legislators and beg for the next shovel leaning boondoggle.

Better you put on some dark shades and hold a pot on the street corner.


Anonymous said...

Nice interview Mike Fleck. I'm shocked you didn't choke on your gum talking about the "Tax Grab."

Mike Fleck - Ed Pawlowski's campaign manager.

Mike Fleck - City of Easton Council Person (fleck@easton-pa.gov)

Mike Fleck - Union Consultant

Fleck - worry about creating jobs in Easton.

Anonymous said...

"How does an unemployable talentless dude like Fledck end up doing this kind if stuff."

If I'm commenting on a blog at 3:35 in the morning, I'd take a long, hard look at my own life-choices, before I'd criticize Mike Fleck's employability.

ironpigpen said...

Unions suck.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

The union logic deserves question.

How many "lasting" construction jobs were created as a result of building of Coca-Cola Park?

Have union ranks swelled, wages risen, and related construction start-ups occurred as a result of building Coca-Cola Park?

Sure, the additional work for about 12 months will help some. Enough to justify an entire region taking on a 200 million dollar debt?

Don't think that argument is powerful enough.

TJD said...

As I was sitting there last night listening to all of those who spoke out against the lawsuit (I would not call it bullying - all of them were very courteous, thanked the Board for the opportunity and had no outbursts), I couldn't help but think the lawsuit isn't specifically aimed at killing the arena project, but the way in which it is funded.

If Allentown wants a complex like this built let them provide their own funding and/or have the developer fund it. In the end, those two entities will be the ones reaping the benefits from the project.

As far as jobs created by this project, obviously there will be temporary jobs that will last for the duration of the construction, but I don't see a lot of permanent jobs being created. It seems like most of the development is set to be office space that will be leased at a discounted rate. All this will do is cause companies to move from their current location to the NIZ. These are not additional jobs, but ones that exist elsewhere and are being relocated. The last thing the LV needs is more office space, we have enough vacant office space to go around.

Anonymous said...

I see that the public policy agenda in Allentown is now dictated by a buch of union thugs attending meetings and being led by a political hack. This doesn't help me feel better about the arena at all. The union thugs should go to Pat Browne's office and ask him why the tax grab was hid from the surrounding municipalities, causing a possible delay of construction.

Anonymous said...

""The litigation will speak for itself," Diacogiannis stated, declining any further comment.

Solicitor Jim Broughal was even briefer. "I have no report," he stated at the end of the meeting."

Nice to see that transparency rules the day for the township. How much money are they spending on this law suit that we don't even know won't get tossed immediately.

Anonymous said...

10:42 AM

Obviously you don't understand protocol. The correct course is not to comment on potential or pending lawsuits.

Once the suburban communities jump in, you'll see the merit of the "tax grab suit."

Mayor Ed will need more than Mike Fleck!

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe in transparent and open government more than most. But when it comes to litigation, it is foolhardy for one of the parties to speak about it outside of the courtroom.

Anonymous said...

Retired, you cited $200 million in debt.

We're up to $360 million and climbing ($160 arena and $200 Reilly)

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

TJD has it about right. For most of us, this is not really about killing the project.

If Allentown's leaders and the developers truly believe this brick and mortar will SAVE that city, then BUILD IT! Just keep surrounding municipalities immune for paying for YOUR decision.

I believe the facility will not reach expectations for use. First of all, it's too small to stand out from numerous other regional choices. There is not enough "non-deck" parking to make attendance appealing. Because it has fixed seating, its value as a large corporate exhibit space is limited, etc. BUT, by all means, build it -

at YOUR financial peril, not others.

Anonymous said...

"I believe in transparent and open government more than most. But when it comes to litigation, it is foolhardy for one of the parties to speak about it outside of the courtroom."

It's litigation over a dispute with a neighboring municipality about taxes. This isn't your run of the mill real estate dispute or employee relations matter. Yeah, they are legally allowed to say nothing about it and use executive sessions to keep it hushed, but they are demanding a public pronouncement about the EIT. In this case, I think it is legally and ethically justified to be forthcoming about the legal basis. The power of modeling transparency on this topic is huge. By agreeing to say nothing, they lose the moral high ground. I know lawyers only care about what happens int he court room, but when the bill comes due and it costs 30-50k, the moral ground matters.

Also, they have effectively just forced allentown to pull everything related to this matter behind closed doors b/c it is potential litigation. Employees are gagged from public comments. Council members too. Before, there was a shot at getting this info in a public setting. Now, everything will be only disclosed in the courts. We wanted transparency and the real irony is that with the stated threat of litigation, we will have none until a court hearing is set. Now, Allentown has a legal grounding to not be transparent and to withhold information.

Ain't that a bitch? Transparency loses all around.

Anonymous said...

Look at the big picture. JB is able to offer rents typically 30-40% less than going rents elsewhere. Where do you think the tenants will come from? New York or new jersey. Heck no they will come from the surrounding municipalities leaving them with empty buildings. Now these tenants will derive additional benefits being located in a tax free zone. What did the politicians create when they passed the NIZ?

zoid said...

to 12:43

State that this pending lawsuit has forced A'town behind closed doors and no one is saying anything. We have tried for months to get information out of them and have got no information nothing but continued stonewalling(RTK requests are not being responded to and fulfilled) so this is no different then has been the status quo for the last 3 months and longer since this whole thing hit the press.

As retired ASD teacher stated go ahead and build whatever you want but do not take other people's money to do it!

I truly hope the project is successful but they are going down for this money grab!

Anonymous said...

I certainly wish everyone all the best lining their pockets with everybody else's money.

But I'm still never buying tickets to Pawlowski's magnificent Palace of Sports.

The Cheerleaders pissed me off permanently. I don't care how pretty they say they are. Beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes straight to the bone.

And, NO, I just don't think that Big Government should be in the risky business of financing sports arenas.

That's just the way it is.


(parking the famed union rat outside my residence ain't gonna do much, neither)

Anonymous said...

YOU ARE MISSING THHE POINT, the amount of money these idiots are talking about is worth LESS than what the attorney will take for his fee, even if it is a Non-Union fee he will still rob the taxpayer and promise the world and give nothing in return. EVERY Hanover township supervisor should be voted out for this non issue. This alone proves they are not in touch with the people who elected them, oops I forgot No One want to run!

Anonymous said...

The whole point is being missed. At risk is millions of dollars that belongs to municiplaities and not the CIty of Allentown.

If it works here, it can work anywhere. The Board in Hanover is thinking regionally as the union insists.

Diverting EIT takes from the legitimate governmental body it belongs is illegal and the visionaries in Hanover need to be appluaded.

Why isn't anyone attacking the other municipalities that will join in plus all the hangeron's that will benefit when the legislation is vacated.

Browne has gone underground and turned down an invitation to address representatives from both counties.

Wake up.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Anonymous 3:05-

I think you are being a little harsh. The municipalities can't possibly know what they are dealing with. I'm not sure how YOU can.

Their taxpayers are best served if they (officials) assume the worst scenario. In example, no amount of monies will be repaid to them, the annual contribution will be collected for the full 30 years, etc.

You do realize, whatever amount collected will grow with inflation, and whenever new residents of their municipalities move their employment to the NIZ zone.

This legislation is defective on several fronts. The municipalities are wise to challenge it now.

Anonymous said...

Last night one of the speakers indicated that Hanover will lose $30,000 a year. $30,000 X 30 years is a cool $1,000,000+. I'd spend $50,000 to get $1,000,000. Can't get that return at the Sands.

I'd venture to guess they are trying to divert $2,000,000 - $3,000,000 a year based on the 2nd half of 2011 numbers that were reported in the Morning Call.

Go Hanover, Go Bethlehem Township. Everyone needs to join in.

Chuck Werkheiser said...

union pukes are so easy to use. throw them a bone without meat and they will do your every bidding. what a joke these union toys are. real men work for themselves not for pandering union bosses.

Anonymous said...

The union thugs must have been disappointed that Hanover Township Supervisors are intelligent, informed and competent. The union guys are used to the laughing stock that is the Allentown bobbing head rubber stampers who take their orders from a career politician, if they show up at all.

Anonymous said...

When Panto is elected county executive Mike Fleck will be a county boss. Just great.

Anonymous said...

Where is the outcry about the suggested lawsuit from the Bethlehem Township Developer? Seems this has more potential to put the skids on the project.

If money is small potatoes, why does the City insist that they keep it? Is it because their intention is to spend every dime of it?

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

Didn't Mike Fleck screw over the son of a life long union member when he ran for mayor in 2007. I heard he even went to the Laborers and used this person and his father's status as a lifelong construction union member as a prop to get $1,000 from them.

Oh wait, that was no rumor, it was the truth--and that person was me! My father was a life long member for well over three decades of Local 12 NYC. He was an insulator. I find it shameful union locals will work with this scab on anything. He screwed one brother's kid over, he will screw you over next.

This guy has no concern about the plight of labor, just the might of their cash for his needs.

How much better has life for unions been in Easton with Fleck on council? Just think about that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:18, It is by no means clear that Panto is running. But if he does, and wins, I doubt very much that fleck would be part of his team. No love lost between those two.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an assumption that a suit would disrail the NIZ projects. Maybe maybe not?

If the numbers, as vague as they are, are even close the EIT if lost doesn't unfund the projects. Not all the debt payments come from tax items. It might make a small difference in the amount the owners contribute. The EIT kind of makes little difference in the end.

We are missing some critical data: the amount of EIT involved and the legal assumptions behind the suit.

I'm not supporting either side of the issue, just amazed at the lack of data and economic basis for all the fuss.

Also, it is becoming clear the stadium is but a piece of the entire project. A lot of the unhappyness seems related to the stadium, but the success will come from the NIZ in total. That is the real uncertainty.