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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

NorCo Council Puts Brakes on $500,000 SkatePlaze Grant

After visiting Bethlehem's popular SkatePlaza earlier this year, Council members John Cusick and Scott Parsons were blown away by all the Godzilla Flips and Ollies at what really is a sport. So they decided to kick in $500,000 of hotel tax from the same pile of money that is already funding two separate $1 million grants for ArtsQuest and PBS. They'd still get their money, but not as quickly. Last night, by a 6-1 vote, Cusick and Parsons were two of the majority who decided to table the matter. The single No vote came from Peg Ferraro, who wanted to kill it.

Council members Lamont McClure and Tom Dietrich were absent.

As it developed, nobody in Bethlehem had even asked for this money. Mayor John Callahan told Cusick that the City is currently doing a feasibility study for a convention center, and the money might be better spent for something like that,down the road.

Disgusted, Peg Ferraro reminded Council members they have an obligation to fund ArtsQuest and PBS first. "We made a commitment and we're going back on our word," she argued.

While pretending to have no interest in this policy decision, Controller Steve Barron took advantage of this proposed grant to cast aspersions at ArtsQuests' Executive Director Jeff Parks. Like he did last year. Apparently, Parks had told Council, in a letter, that he and PBS are relying on that money to honor commitments, and noted that the revenue is either flat or waning.

Not true, claimed Barron, who claimed hotel tax revenues have increased from $1.2 million in 2008 to $1.9 million last year.

But Council member Brice Gilbert pointed out that these increases have been more than offset by overhead, leading to an actual decline in "purchasing power." Barron began to quarrel, demonstrating that he really was injecting himself into a policy consideration after all. Then he remembered and shut up.

About this time last year, Barron was trashing ArtsQuest and Parks over the exempt status of two properties, claiming to be an expert who would give assessors an "independent" opinion. You see, Barron knows lots of people are jealous of Parks' salary or have some pet peeve with Musikfest. Von Footinmouth hopes that an appeal to our worst instincts will translate into votes for him.

But they won't. As an artsy fartsy, Parks is an alien in what is essentially still a blue collar community whose idea of culture is a night at the Carmike with caramel popcorn. So that makes him an easy target for a bottom-feeding bloggers like me. And I have picked on him from time to time because I appeal to your worst instincts, too. It's what I do.

But people like Jeff Parks appeal to our better selves. His vision has led to SteelStack, with hundreds of free concerts each year. It has led to kids' programming like the Ps and Qs program at SteelStacks. When he steps down soon, he will be missed.

The only persons who will miss Barron von Footinmouth are public sector union bosses.


Anonymous said...

caramel popcorn? ooooooooooooo...look at mister fancy pants with his caramel popcorn.

when I was a boy, we had unpopped popcorn kernels, with dust from the coke plant.

and we were grateful, dang it.

Anonymous said...

Boy, does Peg Ferraro like to give it away. She's a natural at the world's second oldest profession. I wish I'd known her in high school.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:52, In case you didn't notice, Ferraro is the person who complained about the grant.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Peg wanted to kill it because it was not wise spending
Read the article before you comment

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Peg wanted all the money to give away to her artsy fartsy country club Republican pals.

Anonymous said...

Gregory found guilty by Zito and given six months probation and $300 fine. Zito will look into allegations he did more to contact his ex at a later date.

I think he may finally shut up now. almost Mensa didn't work.

Per Morning Call

Anonymous said...

Come on Bernie, we want more Gregory!!!

Anonymous said...

please, $500,000 to Bethlehem AGAIN. There are other municipalities in the county that aren't getting their fair share. This would be a significant waster of money.......will they give to the others that would like to have a skate park as well.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was thinking about this, and i bet Callahan was, too. I doubt he'd want his first major grant of hotel tax to go to Bethlehem if there are other worthwhile projects.