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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Brown's Brownfield Looks Dirty

Bethlehem Steel stockhouse now a visitor center
When Bethlehem stopped making steel in '93, it spiraled downhill. Things began to fall apart. Just as Mayor Don Cunningham took office, the company closed. In addition to the loss of 20,000 jobs, the Christmas City lost a big chunk of its tax base. South side Bethlehem became a ghost town. But Cunningham, who is often derided for his smile, kept hope alive and slowly began the arduous task of putting Bethlehem back on its feet. When he left office, he had managed to attract $1 billion in investment and the jobs were slowly coming back. Under John Callahan, the nation's largest brownfield - 1800 acres - had over $2 billion invested in it, and 5,500 jobs were created. Pennsylvania's most successful casino is located on a portion, while the rest of the south side seems just a little better, every time I visit. It's a remarkable achievement. Part of the reason for this is Tony Hanna, a visionary in his own right, who should be recognized and stand side by side with Artsquest's Jeff Parks and CACLV's Alan Jennings. But Cunningham and Callahan, who at one time were referred to as the Young Turks, deserve a large share of the credit, too. They are and should be rightfully proud of what they've done for their City.

 Bangor's brownfield, an old incinerator site and quarry dump, is much smaller. Just 79 acres. But it has been a complete flop. That point was driven home on Tuesday night's Executive debate between the two mayors, John Callahan from Bethlehem and John Brown from Bangor.

Callahan took Brown to task over his failure to develop the site, which is controlled by Bangor Borough and Bangor Authority. To be more specific, he blasted Brown for participating in a scheme to sell the site to a Jersey developer who spent a stint in prison for dumping toxic waste.

Brown responded that his economic development focus has been on storefronts. He assured the debate audience he was “very outspoken against” the sale to that “type of individual”.

But according to information supplied both by the Callahan camp and in my own research, Brown appears to have misspoken.

This site is no dream. For years, the Borough Authority had tried to redevelop it without success. Then came fast-talkin' Art Fletcher from Jersey, who said he'd buy it, fill it up with dirt and install solar panels. He even talked the Authority into fronting $75,000 for all kinds of tests.

People were suspicious, but Mayor Brown was not among them.

You see, Fletcher suddenly started dumping at the site, and residents were concerned it might even be radioactive waste.

And Bangor has this
At a Borough Council meeting in February 2011, environmental activist Anna Marie Caldara specifically raised Fletcher's reputation and concerns about just what was being dumped. Resident Len Mooney worried that dirt deemed unacceptable in Jersey was being dumped here. Truck traffic concerns were raised by Duane Miller, a former Northampton County Council member.

Brown was absent from that meeting.

As details about Fletcher began to emerge and he failed to make a down payment, the deal eventually died. There was no toxic waste, though Bangor Mayoral candidate Joe Capozzollo does glow in the dark.

There is no record that Brown ever took any position supporting or opposing this developer. In fact, according to The Express Times, he defended the Borough when citizens expressed their displeasur. He suggested they go to meetings that he himself missed. The Morning Call has a similar account.

Although Brown never supported this project, there's no evidence that he opposed it, as he insisted during the debate.

But that's a minor point. It's easy to get mixed up in front of a large crowd. The major point is that one mayor had the vision to see the potential of a gigantic 1400-acre brownfield.  But in Bangor, a much smaller one remains undeveloped under a mayor who missed meetings and spent his time chastising the public.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yo BO! Speaking of the slate belt, a bit OT but did you red about Nick Sabatine. Yikes!!

Anonymous said...

Why is it "Brown's Brownfield"?

Anonymous said...

hanna's a visionary? What are you smoking? Cunningham used to have to kick him out of city hall to get things done. Trust me Callahan was the brains behind the whole thing. hanna was a mere useable puppet. it is completely ridiculous to compare him to parks.

linking him to Jennings is appropriate, they are both users and two faced liars,

Anonymous said...

Actually the Redevelopment Authority is most responsible for much of what happened around Steel stacks.

Anonymous said...

trust me the mayor controls the redevelopment authority

Anonymous said...

Now if we could only find out what Brown has been doing for a real job. Did you find out yet Bernie?

Anonymous said...

Barron has been giving Brown private tutoring.

Anonymous said...

Brown has NO job. Hasn't had an actual one in years, His wife wears the pants. Not just figuratively.

Anonymous said...

So Brown misses meetings and he is a "part time Mayor"? And he wants to be a County Executive. This is a satire piece, right?

Anonymous said...

How many meetings did he miss? Is it worse than Lamont McClure?

Anonymous said...

Brown claims on his linkedin page that he works at John Brown and Associates, and that he is a "Solution Focused Executive"
Clearly declaring those snow emergencies requires a solution focused executive. Or maybe he was a solution focused executive when he fired the police chief.
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-brown/0/92b/557

Anonymous said...

For more insight on his income, someone should get his ethics disclosure form. He had to file it with County Council Clerk to run for office, and should have filed one in Bangor, too.

Anonymous said...

Brown should have taken money from whomever he dealt with. Pay to play. That is how John Callahan operates his Bethlehem according to Congressman Charlie Dent as noted on this blog just two years ago.

Anonymous said...

And Charlie dent is someone who never had a real job in his life, right from college to politics. And he was Toomey's hand picked successor for the 15th congressional district. what does that say to you about Dent?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Charlie Dent went from one legislative role to another. he did not go from state rep to Governor. So your analysis is twisted, just like your view of Dent.

Anonymous said...

Dent's integrity is unquestioned and he sounded a loud warning about Callahan's utter lack of of integrity. He cited Callahan's shocking pay to play administration and a raft of Callahan lies about Bethlehem finances. Dent warned us about dirty John Callahan. And Berinie was there to report it to us just two years ago. Dent is consistent. Bernie jumps from lap to lap in his never ending need for pats on the head. Callahan is the same ethical oil slick he's always been.

Bernie O'Hare said...

He did and Callahan took many of Dent's criticisms to heart and turned things around. That's why I changed from being one of his most virulent critics to a supporter. Callahan has grown in office. Part of the reason for that is Charlie Dent, though I doubt either would agree with me.

Anonymous said...

As mayor, Capozzolo kept an eye on the activities of the borough authority. Marino Saveri and his band of theives are running TWO candidates against Joe Cap to keep him from being a thorn in their side. Mark Brown is an authority lackey and Bob Rhiodes was recruited and backed by Saveri.

John Brown did nothing to stop the authority, and purposely skipped important meetings to remain uninformed.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Dent doesn't think the skunk has ditched his stink. Dent supports Brown and continues to warn of Callahan's brand of closed door politics and borderline bribery. Pay to play never took a break in Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:10,

Before you start accusing people of pay to play, and defending Dent, why don't you look at his campaign finance reports.
How is taking money from PPL PAC and Air Products PAC, and then voting in their favor on issues concerning them not pay to play?

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is not. There care strict limits on federal campaigns and it costs $2 million to run for Congress. So much money is required that it is impossible.

Anonymous said...

So Brown isn't a shiny politician and as far as I know he never broke campaign promises. Callahan and Obama can shake hands and probably did. . We don't know what to believe. If and I say if Brown made some mistakes like this police chief, maybe he has to learn a few things. Integrity isn't one of them. He misses a few meetings he is not required to attend. Who doesn't? Callahan is a pretty boy who is full of himself. We don't need more people like him and tax hiker Hunter. Taxes probably will need to go up but I feel more comfortable with Brown doing it. I don't think he will ask for any more then is needed. Callahan with Hunter and others are going to be wasteful. Nazareth's school pool is a fine example. Thank you Deb Hunter for give us the biggest increase I believe we ever had. Or close to it. Yea give the democrats who are the spenders the reins. If you rent you should not vote. What do you care????

Anonymous said...

You and Casinoman have no idea about Slate Belt politics.. so stop guessing by throwing crap against the wall to see if it sticks or not. Is this all you got? My polling says it is dead even. Is that why the gloves are off already on your side? Time to play rough? Stay with the issues and stop the bomb throwing.

Anonymous said...

What has Mayor Brown accomplished in stopping local Slate Belt businessmen from Employing undocumented worker's?

Anonymous said...

8:42

Looked the other way...

Anonymous said...

"My polling says it is dead even."

Neither you or Brown can' afford polling, so stop with my polling says. Someone was spewing that crap in the primary, too.

Anonymous said...

If you do the polling in Bangor, Callahan would get 80%.

Anonymous said...

This is not a political comment. Industrial and commercial redevelopment requires quick access to highways or rail. The Bethlehem Steel site was prime because of its proximity to both. Bangor doesn't have that draw, so it won't draw the national names that Bethlehem could. Neither mayor created the cards their commubnities were dealt.

Clinton Oxford said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clinton Oxford said...

We are Effectively a "Bedroom Community" for Outsider's with incongruent attitude's to Faux assimilate