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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sal Panto's Easton: Clean and Safe

Exit, stage right, at 12th & Washington
After the horse has already left the barn, Easton Mayor Sal Panto is trying to get it back.What's more, he thinks the horse is stupid enough to walk into a burning building. That's how I sum up his attempt to lure senior centers back to Easton. He claims they could be on the South Side or West Ward. But perhaps he sees an opportunity for the County to make Mark Mulligan some money by renting at the Silk Mill. Or maybe he's doing a favor for his former boss, Gary Strausser, who owns one of the buildings being vacated. What Panto has failed to explain is why the County would want seniors in an increasingly unsafe city, in which daytime driveby shootings are now becoming the norm. It's also a city that has refused to respond at all to concerns over parking.

Last Thursday, Northampton County Council voted 6-3 to relocate two Easton senior centers - one downtown and the other on the South Side - to the Forks Township Eagle ballroom, owned by Georges Moussa. According to county officials, there were very serious concerns about parking and crime, which fell on deaf ears in City Hall.

According to Debbie Mertz, Director of the Easton Area Senior Center, Easton has made life increasingly difficult for seniors downtown:
* Requests for handicapped parking spaces in the circle near the center, were repeatedly refused.
* Requests for pick up and drop off spaces in the circle for wheelchair-accessible LANTA vans were denied, again and again.
* The City refused to change the "No Parking" prohibition at the South Side center on street cleaning days.
* Art in the circle for seniors vanished.
* Parking permits for seniors on tight budgets were repeatedly denied.

She claims this has been a gradual process over the past 15 years, though it has included Mayor Panto. Mertz is also concerned about crime. Yesterday's daytime driveby shooting at 12th and Washington appears to have wounded an innocent bystander.

"It's obvious they're trying to move as much out of the city as possible." Panto complains to The Express Times, as though there is some moral obligation to live in Easton. I'd call it constructive eviction. The city has made clear it does not want old farts or it would have made a greater effort to respond to some very legitimate concerns.

The problem is that it might start losing its younger residents, too. My Easton Facebook friends who have school-age children are talking about moving away from the violence. On The Express Times website, "Scottsman" gives Panto this dressing down.

"You pride yourself on that shining city downtown while everything on the outskirts goes to hell.. Maybe it's time you focus on the real problems and stop making excuses...And oh yeah, as I was walking in my back door after work today, I heard a bunch of gunshots ring out... That's okay though...I'm getting used to it."

Instead of responding to these angry concerns, Panto will shout down his critics.

And the violence will get worse, as it already has.


Peter J.Cochran said...

Just 03;00 up to watch meteor shower here along the ocean, and I get to be the 1st one to address this issue. I have in the past taken photos of vehicles that were occupied by creeps .I saved them and would know where to find them while doing ticket work. I would suggest a Need to do intell work now ,block by block in West Ward.Or- you get what you get.Start with out of state tags on $30,000 cars turning off Northampton to West Ward ,unless their going to court house during business hours they come to make deliveries,they are not here to buy .Drug sales fuels this whole issue.

Peter J.Cochran said...

By the way a Jaguar,Black w/ non -OEM wheels off Church Street 500 blk.

Anonymous said...

Who the Hell are you J. Edgar Hoover?

Anonymous said...

Sal knows that senior citizens and their depressing transports are the kind of thing you see in Hazleton and other depressed downtowns. Seniors are unsightly and don't jibe with an area trying to be cool and vibrant.

Anonymous said...

Yep, keep worrying about the silk mill and downtown. As long as no one gets hurt down there, the city doesn't care. The Wild, Wild West Ward is spiraling out of control and it feels like all the city wants to do is keep it contained here. Go ahead, spend another $50,000 on a freaking trolley for downtown.

Anonymous said...

The West Ward has become a combat zone. Panto is more concerned about his Elysium fantasy in center city than to tackle crime in blighted neighborhoods. There should be a concerted effort between city, state and even federal authorities to stem the tide of drug trafficking in the city. Shootings are occurring on a weekly basis and now innocent civilians are being caught in the cross fire. Wake up Sal! Crime is spiraling and something more than rhetoric needs to be done.

Anonymous said...

For years, this blog touted Sal Panto's claim that Easton was safe and getting safer and critics shouldn't believe their lying eyes. What happened to the script?

Bernie O'Hare said...

When Sal first ran for office, he had a simple slogan - clean and safe. In his first four years in office, there is no question that he made sttrides in both categories. In fact, there was a time when Easton was actually the safest city in the LV, according to data maintained by the PSP. I would be a liar if I failed to acknowlegdge that. It was simply the truth.

I believe Easton still is making strides at becoming a cleaner city. I am unsure whether it is becoming safer, and really need to review PSP data. I do know that recent shootings in daytime, which have now occurred twice, are a cause for concern.

I question whether the Mayor's primary focus has been challenged by his economic development agenda, which has screwed up his buddy Pawlowski in Allentown.

I am being fair.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Anon 4;25 na this ain't no fancy bureaucrat,But I know a little somethi'n about tracking people after 35 years-- See I'm not going to give away what EPD has as far as I'm concerned they are on top of things right now ,but the mat they stand on is always moving.EPD is smarter and more fluid in actions of late.Just new people to deal with creep in here almost overnight to replace those locked up . The Mayor IS really watching his bailiwick. I have to give him real credit BUT I say -. Know the NODES -WiFi phones are extremely trackable traceable. You might have to put a face on it even if it has a beard and I don't mean facial hair. But if a source wants to know your here they will know.,down to 1 yard where you are,and where you have been.Geolocations w/ GPS as cross reference. My suggestion for baseline photographs are NOT out of line . GPS locations are target reference points to start looking someplace.You know why the pants down crowd hold their firearm horizontal? because that is how it came out of the box.Innocent Bystander -Old Peter.

Anonymous said...

It's not the heat or humidity. It's the incessant gunfire. Is the new trolley bulletproof?

Anonymous said...

Old Peter the city is a mess. The west ward is a mess. they push seniors out because they are terrified of the violence. I do not fault the police but Panto and company love the applause but hate the heat. Instead of photo ops and all his goofy festivals he should try and clean up the city.

He just loses his temper and scrams at those who tell him the obvious. the guy is a disaster and was the first time he was in.

Anonymous said...

Leave Mayor Panto alone. He is only the mayor of downtown. He doesnt acknowledge the SS or WW.

Anonymous said...

Easton was a safe town when all the crooked cops were running the town.

When the police got stupid and killed one of their own, things changed and the criminals took back their streets...

Peter J.Cochran said...

Anon 4;45 Well written contribution.See the West Ward has inherited issues from the Housing Authority when it was con- verted to Easton -Neston No Landlord /Tenant inspections or what is in place now existed during this transition.This sitting Mayor was not in office during much of this time period. I, Peter J.Cochran personally went to both Sandy Volcano and Dan Capora and explained WHY we needed a L/L tenant issue passed because things were out of control at the time .I as much told Mrs. Volcano if she did not do this issue she would be done politically . She and now Judge Capora did the right thing.So things take time , you can't expect the condemned ,a sentence from none other that Mrs Riebman ,State Senator to 'give' Easton ALL THE housing of poor to be corrected in two generations of the uncorrectable population .

Peter J.Cochran said...

Police are putting stress on a few thugs right now. If they don't run out and are that bold to stay ...I fear renewed action shortly and I will hope the police stay safe . They are dumb and bold ,got noth'n to lose .Be careful this weekend.Batten down hatches, I think we are in for it.