You've seen them, especially if you go to church. You might even be one of those phonies who makes ostentatious displays of religious ritual or fine theological points, without bothering to do any good works yourself. One recent Pharisee includes Vic Mazziotti's pastor, who was quick to condemn same sex benefits, but has been curiously silent about Allentown's recent homeless crisis. This Bishop-in-training is par for the course. Lehigh County Conference of Churches Exec Director Jack Felch is a Pharisee, too. So are some officials in the Allentown Urban Growth Regime.
The recent homelessness crisis makes this clear.
|Fegley and Teti|
As temperatures plunge, that's getting harder to do.
Although Fegley is passionate and sometimes gets emotional, Teti is fairly nonconfrontational. She just wants to help people, as you can see from video of a recent Commissioners' meeting. One of the people she brought has slipped through the cracks of the system, and is unable to examine his own file in Lehigh County's overly bureaucratic system of human services.
Some groups, like the Allentown Rescue Mission, have actually appreciated the attention. They do have rules, but Program Director Rob Romig explained them, and they are relatively innocuous. They helped 760 homeless men last year, and do not force them to go to chapel.
"We don't make you pray," he explained.
Lehigh County Exec Tom Muller is another person who has tried to help. Unlike Mayor Edwin Pawlowski, who skipped out on a City Council meeting dealing with homelessness, Muller was there, listened, and prevailed on the local Y to open their doors for homeless during this emergency.
Not bad for someone derided as a country club Republican.
Commissioner Scott Ott blamed the homeless, to some extent, for being unwilling to use places like Allentown Rescue Mission. You could call that heartless on his part, but it's no secret that many homeless are mentally ill and exercise poor judgment. So I think he was being realistic. After listening to homeless advocates last week, he went to Allentown's most desperate shelter, Safe Haven, along with fellow Commissioners Lisa Scheller and Vic Mazziotti.
Despite all these positive signs, some in the Urban Growth regime are angry.
Allentown's Managing Director, Francis Dougherty, tried to deny there's a problem at all in a memo circulated among City Council members. He derided Teti as a "competing interest group", insisted that homelessness is actually a County problem. He also objected to the scorn expressed at the City's Homeless Commission, whose committee heads meet every month and basically go round and round.
The Lehigh County Conference of Churches has been shamed by this crisis into opening up a gym as a warming center, but only on code blue days. Their Executive Director, Dr. Jack Felch, wants everyone to send him money. He used the warming center as an excuse to seek donations. In addition, he just had to take some potshots at Teti's group, as noted by Allentown blogger Michael Molovinsky. Like any good Pharisee, Felch praises himself while condemning others.
You have most likely seen press coverage concerning the plight of the homeless during this recent spell of dangerously cold weather. We have chosen not to participate in public debates about how "others" should solve this problem, particularly since the Conference has for the past decade been doing the heavy lifting when it comes to stabilizing the lives of "the least of these, my brothers and sisters" without the need for shining a media spotlight on that work. Instead of being divisive and derisive, we joined with partners who are problem solvers. Our initial plan is to open the Alliance Hall gym only when needed for emergency Code Blue weather conditions. Funding for this initiative is not guaranteed. Staffing details have not been determined.One of Michael's readers, BB, sums it up quite nicely.
Wow. Where to start? Obviously this church commentary is riddled with sarcasm and passive aggressive jabs at caring activists. Who wrote this? From "plight of the homeless" "heavy lifting" referring to homeless people as "the least"? Choosing not to participate in public debates when cold temperatures dictate a life or death sentence is far less than honorable. Personally, I would be ashamed. Implying the media was involved for any reason other than to shine a spotlight on a dire situation is just plain asinine. This is a perfect example of everything that is wrong with our democracy in the year 2014. Caring citizens petition their government to help improve a situation, and they are stifled, insulted, and oppressed by the gatekeepers, people with the power to actually do something. Better yet, let's imply they are crackpots on the fringe, outsiders, not even part of our community. How is 'choosing not to participate in public debates' to solve a problem somehow a badge of glory? After ten-years of "heavy lifting" why don't you have more than an "initial plan" for a code blue? And why hasn't funding or staffing been addressed... yet? ~BBI wrote to Felch. He's too important to write back, but one of his underlings, Ira Faro, tells me that Team Teti started it and even threatened them at a recent City Council meeting. I find that impossible to believe. Faro adds that he raised the money to build WDIY and writes grants for the homeless, so he apparently has some sort of diplomatic immunity.
Felch and Faro, quite clearly, are also Pharisees more worried about someone cutting into their turf than in solving a very real problem.
The denial and vilification does not stop with Dougherty, Felch and Faro. The Blog Mentor has also jumped into the fray, attempting to dirty up Fegley and Teti.
Teti has a civil dispute over money that will be heard in February. The Blog Mentor has branded her a "civil scofflaw."
Even worse, he's calling Fegley a "violent offender ... who has been arrested for assault and violent physical harassment."
The problem is he's got the wrong Fegley. He has been defaming a homeless advocate on his blog, Facebook and in emails to Felch and Allentown City Council President Julio Guridy.
Obviously, the Blog Mentor is a Pharisee, too.
Allentown's Urban Growth Regime always will deny a problem exists, alternatively shift the blame somewhere else and vilify those who point out the problem.
The good news here is that somehow, nobody has died from exposure in the Lehigh Valley. A homeless man in Philly was not so lucky on Thursday.