Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CACLV's Alan Jennings: We Are a Nation Divided

Alan Jennings
When his lecture was over, Alan Jennings expressed some surprise that nobody had tried to kill him. He needn't have worried. A few conservative thinkers like Hotel Bethlehem managing partner Bruce Haines and activist Al Bernotas delivered gentle jabs. But most of the seventy or so people who attended the first of the South Side Initiative 2012-12 Town Hall Lecture Series on September 24 were very supportive. Liberals trend to attract other liberals and conservatives tend to attract conservatives. But this increasing polarization was the whole point of Jennings' lecture - we are a nation divided.

Jennings is the Executive Director of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV), an organization that combats poverty in local communities. His career has spanned 32 years. South Side Initiative's Seth Moglen, who introduced Jennings at Bethlehem's town hall, called him an "enormous force for good" and "untiring advocate for social justice." His critics, however, deride him as a "poverty pimp" and "Price of the Poor."

According to Jennings, who just became a grandfather this weekend, we've become a nation of confused, frustrated and cynical people.

"We are polarized along geographic lines, political lines, racial lines, class lines, cultural, ethnic, religious, generational and gender lines," he posited.
"I'm sure that if someone claimed the Sun rises in the East, his or her antagonist along any of those dividing lines would strenuously argue otherwise, and the argument would include a mean-spirited, personal attack."
The problem, as he sees it, is a "small but virulent and loud industry of radicals whose sense of how the world should work is mired in the nineteenth century's social Darwinism." He includes the tea party in this group, although he later conceded there are radicals on the other side of the spectrum, too.

To those who espouse less government, his retort is that "well-financed radicals" have been very effective at "depriving government of the necessary resources" that would make it work, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Using welfare as an example, Jennings calls it the "tried and true default wedge issue dug up by those who hate government." But he points out that, of the 647,232 people who live in the Lehigh Valley, only 7,000 of them (1%) receive any form of cash assistance. A family of three will get just $403 per month. There's been no increase in that amount since 1985. But there have been three recessions.

Jennings conceded that there are times when he feels like a failure, especially since the poverty rate has gone up in his 32-year battle against it. "But while I do let the bastards get me down, anger has been the fuel of my hell-bent, frenzied drive to fight back," he said.

"I just can't give up."

How would Jennings solve this increasing polarization? That, he admitted is where he falls short. He made a few suggestions like increased civic engagement, publicly funded campaigns, permitting people to own guns but not ammo.

"People call it a nanny state, but maybe we need to do a better job of being nannies," he said.

Roger Hudak and Alan Jennings
In response to questions about the gentrification occurring in South Bethlehem and predicted in downtown Allentown, Jennings states he's seen no evidence of displacement. He did suggest a change to the Municipal Planning Code that would require all municipalities, both cities and suburbs, to zone some areas for affordable housing.

When the lecture was over, South Side Task Force Manager Roger Hudak proudly showed Jennings his Democratic T-shirt, claiming that is the answer. As Jennings is a tireless advocate for the poor, Hudak is a tireless advocate for Bethlehem's South Side. But unwittingly, Hudak proved Jennings' point.

The next Town Hall lecture, on October 30 at 7 PM, will feature James Peterson, Lehigh University's Director of the Africana Studies Program.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did he talk about how he sold out Rental Inspections to be on the right side of Allentown's Democratic Administrations.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

www.michaelsavage.com

Anonymous said...

America is divided because people like Mr. Jennings believe that the 47% deserve what they are receiving. It's time for the 53% to make the 47% earn what they are receiving. Municipalities would be cleaner and greenier if those receiving public assistance would be required to give 50% of their 40 hours to public service. the other 20 hours could be devoted to their job search!

Anonymous said...

two faced

Anonymous said...

Bernie, the header of your blog states "Conservative or Liberal, Deist or Pagan, Jersey transplant or Lehigh Valley native, we're all in this mess together." However this blog has really taken a right to far right conservative view, especially in the comments section.

Anonymous said...

Scott, I can't find it. What is the term for elected school board members?

Anonymous said...

"People call it a nanny state, but maybe we need to do a better job of being nannies," he said.

What a kook! Laughable, except that there are so many losers that buy into the poverty pimp's meme.

Somebody, do SOMETHING!

Hillarious!

-Clem


Anonymous said...

hudak/jennings - both legends in their own minds

Anonymous said...

Alan opposes taxpayer funding for The Allentown Rescue Mission because the starving may hear a sermon before getting a bologna sandwich. Alan only recognizes the poor if they are hungry on his terms. He has made more people homeless and hungry because they are not part of the syztems that pays him well. Evil.

Anonymous said...

Unwittingly, I think Jennings proved his OWN point.

I've seen his "19th century social Darwinisn" drivel before. I think he used it in an Op-Ed piece about the bi-county health bureau to describe the Lehigh County Commissioners. The only problem with that is that the Commissioners are voted into office, so in effect Jennings is calling a majority of county voters names.

So not only is Jennings' rhetoric tired and stale, but he is vastly out of step with the people.

Jon Geeting said...

There is no solution to polarization on the voter or politician side. The solution is in changing institutions to accommodate a more polarized politics. No other countries expect their opposing parties to cooperate with each other. They have bipartisanship by alternation. In parliamentary systems, one party either wins outright or has to form a governing coalition with another party. Then they govern for a while until either the coalition falls apart or it's time for a new election. And if they did a bad job, voters elect the other party and let them have a go at it.

What ends up happening is that the worst ideas get weeded out by this alternation. One party passes some legislation that's mostly good but has some things the other party doesn't like, so they take them out when they have power. Then they pass some laws, but with some ideas the other party doesn't like, and when they get elected they take them out. The alternation moderates the law-making. What doesn't work is expecting two groups who feel strongly about their political convictions to just drop those convictions and work out deals.

Nobody else does it our way, Presidential democracy, and the ones who have tried have mostly seen those systems end in military coups.

Anonymous said...

Jennings is a two faced lying leach who will take money from the devil. This man says we the taxpayers are responsible to make those who don't want to work have a better life. As long as some of the money he gets to help these leeches of society make it into his pocket. I have learned long ago when this jerk speaks, hold onto your wallet. He doesn't want the poor to disapear, if they did, he would be out of a job. Now after screwing up the poor in Allentown, Bethlehem, & Easton he now has his sights on the townships and boroughs. Must be a ton of money in that theory or he wouldn't be suggesting it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:17, Some of my views are conservative. Some are liberal. I have no control over what people write, but both views are welcome. I am not going to delete a comment bc it is too conservative for your taste. I would argue that, if you disagree with the view, state why. Don't complain to me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Alan opposes taxpayer funding for The Allentown Rescue Mission because the starving may hear a sermon before getting a bologna sandwich. "

I believe he mentioned both the Rescue Mission and Salvation Army in positive terms last night.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:00, I'd agree that many of LC's elected Comm'rs are pretty much social Darwinists. So would they. And I don't think describing someone's political views is name-calling.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"There is no solution to polarization on the voter or politician side. The solution is in changing institutions to accommodate a more polarized politics."

This is pretty much untrue. I'd argue that polarization could be reversed pretty easily by doing just one thing - opening the primaries. That way the extremists on both left and right lose their edge. But partisans like Geeting is opposed to that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

How comes all of the people so quick to condemn Jennings in such ugly terms are so unwilling to identify yourselves. The guy just became a grandfather, for Christ sakes. Criticize his ideas all you want. Leave him alone.

Anonymous said...

Prince of the Poor

Anonymous said...

Alan is an angel. A saint among us. Who else in the Lehigh Valley cares a whit for those at the bottom of the economic scale? As always, people like to throw stones at those who are actually trying to make the world a better place. Is he perfect? None of us are. Keep going, Alan!

TJD said...

Is that the same Roger Hudak that was an English teacher at Liberty? It's been about 16 years since I've seen him and can't really tell from the picture.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That is the same Roger Hudak who taught at Liberty.

Anonymous said...

When does Alan Jennings start advocating for free ice hockey tickets for "the Poor" to go and see exciting AHL action at Chairman Pawlowski's transformative (and tax-payer funded) $ 179.5 million dollar Palace of Sport?

Anonymous said...

He don't want tickets, its money for his version of transformative. One hundred for me and twentyfive cents for the poor? Than of course there is the overhead for him begging in these social events the poor are not allowed?

Anonymous said...

Agree Bernie - Open the primaries, fix the way congressional districts are laid out AND PRAY that one day a politician will bite the hands that feed him/her and do something for the public instead of those who fund their campaigns.

Scott

Anonymous said...

A lot of poor souls could be fed with the money Jennings supports going to rich developers for hockey and NIZ schemes. I guess venture capitalists aren't so bad after all. Go Romney.

ironpigpen said...

I see that the construction cost for the Palace of Sport has dropped slightly to $ 177.1 million dollars, according to the front page of The Morning Call ...

... but I did notice the overall project has soared from $ 234.0 million to $ 272.0 million dollars.

No one spends taxpayer money better than Democrats and RINOs compromising to work together for the benefit of the Community.

Re-elect 0-bama in 2012!

ironpigpen said...

Can ALAN JENNINGS remember when the Palace of Sport project was only supposed to be $ 80.0 million dollars?

I sincerely doubt it.

ROLF OELER

Anonymous said...

Good comment Alan!

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

This is what every conservative understands and the left will never figure out; when you empower the government to solve society’s problems you create a tyrant. As well, the only thing worse than any problem is the government’s solution.
It’s easy to be a liberal; you get to feel good about wanting to do good. It takes a conservative to understand the government is more often than not the proper vehicle for one’s altruism.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

what a slut - he should be fixed so he doesn't spread his vd to future generations

Anonymous said...

Jennings and Hudak ------ two friends of the poor and middle class.

Take a look back into the recent past and see how these two shilled for casino gambling when it came to town. Hudaks daughter got a good job out of it,

Absolutely fuckin shameful.
And people keep giving this hypocrat a forum,

This guy is s joke, I say this as a lifelong democrat and progressive.

Anonymous said...

typo,

It's been a long day. I meant to write, "the government is more often than not, not the proper vehicle for one’s altruism."

Sorry for the confusion.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Such a decent-honest-pure- courageous man that he himself is forced to wonder how it is that he hasn't been gunned down, martyred like his ethical peers, Abraham, Martin and John .

Alans self serving, self absorbed PR hound pitch makes me want to puke. And I even agree with him on a lot of stuff.

Shut up Alan and help the people stop the great water heist. Then go remind us all what a great guy you are and I might even play along.

Anonymous said...

Eye, the man's a frigin saint I say, a frigin saint! A hero! A man of the people and a round of pure drinkin water for the house ----- while we can still get it.

Anonymous said...

When Maggie Szabo and Bob Thompson where at the helm of Bethlehem's South Side TASK Force, two truly outstanding grass roots leaders, they were both wise and generous enough not to stay in the leadership position too long.
Not so Rodger Hudak. Long a loyal player on Team Jennings, Hudak loves the power and the spotlight much too much to engage in power sharing. Much like his mentor Jennings. It's long past the time when they should both step aside.

Anonymous said...

I am a proud left wing union guy from the old school.
I don't know about you but Jennings has inspired me.
I'm goin' down to Eagle Arms on Sat. and pickin' up a thousand rounds of 223 ammo and another thousand rounds of 45 ACP Ball. Ya' just can't be too safe in these uncertain times.
Thanks for the reminder Jennings.

Anonymous said...

I am a proud left wing union guy from the old school.
I don't know about you but Jennings has inspired me.
I'm goin' down to Eagle Arms on Sat. and pickin' up a thousand rounds of 223 ammo and another thousand rounds of 45 ACP Ball. Ya' just can't be too safe in these uncertain times.
Thanks for the reminder Jennings.

Anonymous said...

A sad old worn jokester. The dude should give it up.

Anonymous said...

Jennings supports the Mayor and not the people in the Great H2O sell out.

Classic Jennings . The cat is out of the bag.
Again.

It will be nice for Jennings if his poker buddy is in the State House,

Anonymous said...

It would be a real mistake to think that only right wing types find Mr Jennings insufferable and hypocritical.

That has never been more true than it is today.

Anonymous said...

Hudak is a tireless advocate for the Sands Casino, Alan Jennings and himself.

What a shame for us that Bob Thompson is gone.

Anonymous said...

As loing as Jennings gets the free tickets to the club level seats at the Palace of sport like he does at the Pigs games he is happy. He goes to the games on behalf of the poor you know.

Anonymous said...

This is sad, the energy used to condemn a man (Alan Jennings) who has worked so hard to help the Lehigh Valley community. Alan Jennings has dedicated his career to making sure that people on welfare, like I was myself for a short period of time can purchase a home and/or start a business. Whether you like him as a person or not, you can't take away from his accomplishments and passion to help those who need a helping hand.

Imagine if the effort to attack Alan was used to help create positive change. Attacking people has proven pointless.

Alan is a good man and means well.