Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Break Out the Birkenstocks!

Lehigh's very own Communist fiefdom - the ill-named "South Side Initiative" - is all lathered up about plans to sell the Bethlehem's "Maze Garden" to developer Dennis Benner.  I guess there's no other place on earth where things will grow.

So it's strap on those Birkenstocks time. Since last Friday, SSI folks have been drinking herbal tea, kool-aid and meeting at South Side coffee shops to focus their outrage at the Benner proposal to actually invest money in Bethlehem's South side. The nerve of that guy!  An email blast from SSI Comrade Kim Carrell-Smith sought "grassroots activists with a sense of outrage and willingness to oppose the power structure."

The sky is falling!

Power to the people, right on!

You may raise your fists in unison now.

The hell with anyone who actually wants to make a significant private sector investment on the South Side. Yup, John Pettegrew, Moglen, Morgan and the cast of usual suspects were mobilizing for a protest at last night's Bethlehem City Council meeting. Another email blast moans about the traffic and noise these developments would bring to the South Side, and how "disturbing" this would be to current residents.

For a window into SSI's commitment to the economic development of the South Side, here's a link to their web site's South Side "Development Overview." So devoted to the redevelopment of the South Side are the comrades at SSI, their web page has not been updated in nearly seven years!

But last night, Lehigh's borderline Bolsheviks used their iPhones to find Town Hall, instead of going to The Promenade for Thai.

Never mind that there are hundreds of locations to move the garden with minimal impact on Lehigh and the neighborhood, including a real community garden just proposed at the Leckonby Estate.

With the exception of Karen Dolan, City Council refused to buy into the bullshit and voted to sell a sliver of land that was only supposed to be a temporary garden.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of most of the Lehigh students was amazing. Talking down to Council members like they were kids. Why don't they go back to their precious university who owns how many hundreds of undeveloped acres and get the university involved. Many of these spoiled brats would understand when they have to survive on their own in the real world and struggle to provide for their family like most owners of Southside businesses.

Anonymous said...

I really would like to see some maturity and down to earth common sense on Bethlehem City council, I am amazed they didn't all vote with Dolan. We fear for the future once Belinksi and DeGecengtis is gone.

Any grown-ups in the house??

Anonymous said...

dg and belinski leaving is actually a good thing but bethlum gets what it deserves when it votes for teachers

donchez is the shocker. he actually made a decision and at least attempted to be mayoral - must have had a committee meeting prior to council

President Barack H. Obama said...

Bernie, I enjoy your blog. While you made light of their infrequently undated website, the site is up and running. Can you patch me through to their web developer?

Also, the private sector types who have property to burn: they didn't earn that. It all belongs to all of us. There's nothing wrong with spreading the wealth around.

Anonymous said...

Yep,Ms.Dolan's decline continues as predicted. After Jonh comes the fall.

Anonymous said...

I believe that most rational people will agree that a more intense use of the land than a garden is desirable for Bethlehem. If however anyone thinks that high rise student housing will bring "all good" to South Bethlehem, they have never been to downtown State College, PA on a football weekend or State Paddy's Day.

Wilfred Brimley said...

This summer I had a drunken nude 19 year old vomiting in my backyard, tried to help but she ran away like a wounded orangutan into the inky blackness leaving behind a puddle of half chewed Kung Pow chicken.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Wilfred, I'll bet it was organic, too.

Anonymous said...

But Lehigh students deserve the best.
They are wealthy and they are from Jersey..... or the People's Republic of China.

In either case,they are special.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I don't want to slam the Lehigh students too much. Most of them, like most of us, don't give a shit about anything except getting by.

My guess is that the Lehigh students there were in Ted Morgan's "community activism" class. I'm told they receive Lehigh credits for advancing Morgan's political agenda.

Perhaps Morgan would prefer that Benner develop a cornfield.

Anonymous said...

This is outstanding blog work, a nice combination of meeting reporting and some humor as well. Nice job. There's a reason I check in here first for my daily news fix.

Anonymous said...

As always, thanks for reporting.

A garden can go anywhere. This type of development comes along once in a lifetime.


VOR

Anonymous said...

A maze garden is fine when you tear down a substandard structure (Aztec Club) and have no immediate plan for the property. "Better than a surface lot" mentality. Bethlehem has had (and still does have) plenty of these types of properties. Up and down Third Street, all along Mechanic. The north side was ridiculous, Broan and Main, Broad and New and for twenty or more years, there was nothing but macadamized areas "waiting" for developers.

This proposed development at Third & New is big thinking and I applaud this. We need more of this. In most urban areas, the develpoment is up, not out.

Anonymous said...

5 bucks says that 11:17 is Geeting but he is afraid to ID himself because of the mocking he takes everytime he comments

Anonymous said...

Councilperson Dolan displays her leadership qualities.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you missed the big story of the day, your buddy Angle's shitstorm with his neighbors

Bernie O'Hare said...

Much as I would have loved to cover the shit story, Angle was foreclosing on 30 widows and had me busy posting notices on their doors. He did call me bc he was unaware that shit haters were picketing him. He was busy picking up a McArthur uniform for his run against Barron.

Anonymous said...

Does it really make much sense to criticize Lehigh students as rich little brats and then criticize them for trying work with community residents to grow food in a food desert. They can't win if they do, they can't win if they don't. And point of fact, I don't think one person from Lehigh University ever claimed to be against Benner's apparently heroic development project. They asked for a commitment from the city to move the garden and to be involved in that process. What meeting were you all at? Is it so horrible to ask the council to step out from behind closed doors and involve someone besides the business community in its decisions? But crazy ole me, I must just be a birkenstock wearing communist to question the capacity of our government to function effectively. Yah, that's really communism at work. Why don't you try talking to the Lehigh students that were speaking instead of making up shit about what they said?

Anonymous said...

I was there and they were rude and arrogant. Raising their voices at City Council like they were mightier than thou. Those kids won't give two shits about the Southside after they graduate. None of them will remain and live on the Southside once they graduate. Why is it the City's responsibility to move this garden. Your university is sitting on an endowment of over $1 billion. If Lehigh cared for the community as they say they do they would have no problem paying to create a garden in a suitable space.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I was there, but not for long. They were smug little assholes out for extra credit from Ted Morgan. I'll lay odds that not a single one of them voted in the election.

Anonymous said...

Smug or not, those "little brats" were working with Broughal and Boys and Girls Club kids on that sliver of land, and weren't told by anyone -- not even Dale " don't worry" Kochard -- that the agreement of sale was going down. Maybe somebody might have considered making a phone call? As for moving the garden a 100 different anywheres, Bernie, that is just bullshit. And Dolan wasn't against the project; she stated more than once her total support, but she, like a lot of the non-communists there, thought it might be worth while to show these kids that Democracies do actually listen to constituents, including the ones who don't vote. Except this so-called Democracy didn't. Six council members stuck to the agreed upon game plan which was, don't upset Mr. Benner with the inconvenience of those nasty little citizens and wouldn't even vote to allow discussion of adding replacement of the community garden into the resolution. You are being very anti-Bernie on this one. Don't you admire a little independence anymore? Isn't it enough to give a developer everything he wants? Do you also have to squelch community interest too? When did you become the cheerleader for the kiss asses? Or maybe you don't actually know what happened at this meeting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

)h they listened to you. In fact they listened for several hours more than i did. They put up with the Brown and White asshole who littered the place with all kinds of empty food containers as he waddled his way around. they listened to every condescending word you uttered. They just didn't do what you wanted. Nor should they have.,

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

I can’t believe I’m going to play the respond-to-comments-on-a-blog-post game, but here we are. I’m a Lehigh student who spoke at the meeting on Tuesday night. I’m also a lifelong resident of Bethlehem. I’ve voted in every local election since I turned 18. I don’t know Ted Morgan personally and I’ve never worn a pair of Birkenstock sandals.

I understand that this is a blog and not a news source. So, I understand that when you post something, you’re posting something that is both objective and subjective. You’re posting your views on local issues and I have no problem with that at all.

But, the words in this post and your associated comments go beyond that. They are hate. They are vitriol. They are poison. How can this community expect students at Lehigh to connect to South Bethlehem and its residents when the people who enter into public discourse, people including yourself, can’t see through stereotypes to acknowledge the genuine moments and places where those connections are made?

I spoke to a girl last night who had a part in creating the Maze Garden’s partnership with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. When that program began, some of the children would tell her that French fries were their favorite vegetable. Within a few weeks, those same children could name several varieties of squash and were interested in eating more fruits and vegetables. Within a few weeks, those children became her friends. Does that make her an asshole? I spoke to another girl who is an international student from China. She heard about the Maze Garden at the university’s club fair and began going twice a week. It has become her favorite place in the city and has provided her with the opportunity to connect with the city and its residents in a way that very few international students do during their time at Lehigh. Does that make her smug? What agenda is she advancing by doing this?

I fully admit that relations between Lehigh and the South Bethlehem community have been strained, to say the least. I’m not always proud of the ways that my peers treat the city they live in. But, I have also met several people at Lehigh who truly do want to become a part of Bethlehem, not just a part of Lehigh. Why would anyone do anything counterproductive to that? What purpose does that serve? That group of students at Tuesday night’s meeting actually care about something. That group of students, of which I am a part of, does not deserve to be called “smug little assholes” by anyone.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe you do, and you demonstrated that you deserve that appellation in your very first sentence.

You are 18. I am 63. I have seen this before. I have seen Ted Morgan before. I saw the emails the SSI sent out, seeking grass roots opposition to "the power structure,". Of course, it was from a non-profit email address. Your group cares so much about the frickin' South side that your web page has not been updated in seven years.

What i posted was not hate or even vitriol. But it was derision. And it was deserved.

You know as well as i do that most of your fellow activists are not even registered, to say nothing of voting.

You were an unwitting pawn being used by Pettegrew and Morgan. I have seen this before.

Morgan was the one who led the fight against Petrucci's development of the abandoned Durkee site into the Lowe's - claiming it would put as much traffic on 8th Avenue as MacArthur Road. Somehow, he got his fellow travelers at several "green" organizations to join a fight against the redevelopment of an urban brownfield as if it would have been preferable for Lowe's to develop a cornfield - as they did in Bethlehem Township off 33.

Of course, Petrucci ultimately won and the sky did not fall. But, Morgan did convince Joe Lewis - then BASD Superintendent - to extort money from Petrucci to air condition the entire Nitschmann Middle School because of the expected MacArthur Road-like traffic noise. Guess that air conditioning made it more comfortable for the Nitschmann principal to watch gay porn on his office computer and snort cocaine.

Grow the fuck up. There are a gazillion other places where you will be able to plant your garden next year.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let me take this opportunity to apologize to you. I was a little rough on you, and I believe you are sincere.

Anonymous said...

Actually Bern, it was tough love. They have it coming

Anonymous said...

I just want to thank the Anonymous poster at 12:48 AM who stood up for the Lehigh students at the meeting. I was there as well. I am a Lehigh graduate in my mid-20s and I can assure you that I am registered to vote, and have voted in every single election since I was 18. The only connection I have to Ted Morgan was that I went to high school with his son. I am an engineer, not a political scientist.

I just hope you understand that taking a position like this and patronizing the Lehigh students who so desperately want to be involved in your community is really detrimental to Bethlehem as a whole. If we want to keep smart young people here, we should treat them like adults and not like children who haven't grown up yet. People say this new development will help to bring young professionals into the community, but I don't think they'll want to join the commmunity in the first place if they are being treated the way you treat them.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is familiar with South Bethlehem knows this "so-called" park is never used by Lehigh Students unless it’s to urinate when they were leaving Starters (when it was still open)
It has been a place for homeless & trouble makers to hang out!
Very few times that i can say council got it right but this time they did!
BTW, Karen Dolan is what brings city Council down.

one has to ask...what did she leave BASD but yet just can’t stay retired???

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:51, I acknowledge I was a bit tough on the students, but they were over the top. My primary criticism is of their mentors, the Pettegrews and Morgans who have no idea what they are doing, do nothing for the City and then come and lecture them, using students like props.

MG said...

Bernie, I am 24, I am not a Lehigh student, I worked on a Bethlehem mayoral campaign this year, I don't where Birkenstocks, and I am considerably more intelligent than you, and given the chance, would happily embarrass you in a public debate on this issue, point by point by point.

MG said...

wear*

Bernie O'Hare said...

I see. Just like you embarrassed yourself with your inability to distinguish between "wear" and "where."

Don't worry about me. I am nothing. Worry about the impression you made on City Council. You managed to portray yourself as fools. The SSI lost what little credibility it had.

Anonymous said...

“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
~Steve Jobs
[perspective]

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Bethlehem, and I have never used the maze garden, but I think from reading these comments the garden was involved in a sincere effort to unite the Bethlehem community with some students from Lehigh. I cannot control the behavior of others, nor do I want to (the Starters Riverport leavers and hanger ons who apparently urinate inside of it), but I remember how it used to be on that corner. I remember the Wildflower Cafe, and other businesses, and what I learned there from my friends whether it be good or bad lessons. I remember the third street chicken and ribs as a beloved landmark and restaurant as I passed over the Fahy bridge with my mother singing along to our cassette tape of Alanis Morrisette songs. I love my hometown even though I am forced to be far away right now. I think the maze garden is doing well where it is. Today I just learned that a good portion of America's art is continually shipped off to Bentonville, Arkansas because America's big cities can no longer afford to keep their high ticket items, and Wal-Mart's Alice Walton can afford to house these objects. This relates because I am equating here the movement of this art with the movement of the garden. People get greedy and expect more from society. They think they can do this by buying into these large corporations and developers who are promising more. What they end up doing is taking and taking and taking again. I don't trust this new museum in Bentonville, Arkansas bought with Wal-Mart money any more than I trust the renewal of this apparently misused area of Bethlehem.

Anonymous said...

Standard operating procedure in Bedlam!

Anonymous said...

Hey Bernie,
I hate to be the bearer of bad news (well not really), but Lehigh has hired 50 professors just like Ted Morgan, which explains the strong showing at the City Council meeting. Too bad Professor Morgan wasn't even there to basque in the glow of his legacy. He was probably out trying to find something besides a strip mall on 8th Street. C'mon, whose the stooge? The big box store (Lowe's) got you fighting against local hardware stores. That's hardly a testament to your independence or intelligence.

Anonymous said...

FYI,
MG is not a member of SSI and there is a whole webpage dedicated to displaying the activities of students in the Maze garden. 10:27 either does not know where the Maze garden is or is one of those people who goes there at very suspicious hours. Regardless, I want to see MG debate Bernie, in birkenstocks. I'll buy the birkenstocks if the loser of the debate promised to wear them.

Anonymous said...

Hullo. I am not a Lehigh student. I am however a Bethlehem native and impartial observer in this matter. As such, I would simply like to point out that the most cogent, intelligent, and least hateful responses on this comment thread appear to come from the Lehigh student side of the debate.

Mr. O'Hare, if you would like to make a point you'd do well to do so in a way that is not so condescending, nasty, and bitter. Your vicious attack on Lehigh students and stereotypical generalization of them as "birkenstock-clad commies" is not only ludicrous, but hateful and disgusting. Despite the fact that I believe you can make a valid argument on this issue, the way you have chosen to do so forces my mind to discredit basically everything you have reported.

From what I gather, the students doing work in the maze garden were ones who genuinely wanted to contribute to the community. Perhaps this reflects only a minority of the Lehigh student body but are these really the students we, as Bethlehem natives, should be spitefully deriding?

I hope, for our community's sake, that your behavior does not reflect how these students are typically treated by Bethlehemites. If so, then I can fully understand why Lehigh student DON'T engage much with our community. Why target your hatred at people with good intentions, even if their ideas don't completely match your own? That is my question for you, Bernie.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Impartial Observer,Did you bother to attend the meeting and witness the behavior? If not, you have no basis for pontificating on a damn thing.

Anonymous said...

I did not attend. Since you are reporting on the events of said meeting, I assume that makes me precisely your target audience, no? And as a Bethlehem resident who did not attend the meeting and came to your blog looking for an update on the proceedings, I was extremely offended.

Your response only serves to demonstrate your unwillingness (or inability) to address any valid concerns or questions leveled against your piece. Instead you habitually choose to insult and attack people over unrelated and trivial matters such as their age, grammatical errors, or proclivity for thai food.

As previously mentioned, Mr. O'Hare, I used to respect your opinions and on this matter I even agree with you to some extent. However, I now find it very difficult to value the opinions of someone so demonstrably hateful and narrow-minded.

Bernie O'Hare said...

With the exception of my comments to one reader, I stand by every word I wrote. If anything, I may have been too gentle. I understand snobs don't like being exposed as such, and are completely bereft of humor, especially when it relates to their own silly behavior. And it was silly.

I was offended by the smug emails coming from SSI. I know for a fact that Council members were offended by the condescending behavior of the hypocrites who were there. It appears that even Jeff Parks was turned off by students who demand the city to keep a small garden while they do their shopping at The Promenade, a faux village built for the phonies .

Kurt Vonnegut was a frequent visitor to our home when I was growing up. He was sometimes there to speak to Lehigh students. I can still remember him calling out the smug assholes for what they were. They did not appreciate him, either.

I am glad you are offended.

Anonymous said...

"I want to see MG debate Bernie, in birkenstocks"

I will contribute as well but Bernie must buy a pair of clean underwear in fairness to the young lady.

Brownie Skidmark!

Anonymous said...

Sure like to know how much stimulus money Lehigh got? I remember seeing a list of grants and had a jaw dropping moment. I came away feeling like the got more money than our cities.