Last week, I presented you with an analysis of the number of parking tickets invalidated in Easton last year. As I feared, the evidence shows that the City is playing favorites. Altogether, 1135 tickets were forgiven for just 395 people. One lucky person had 21 parking tickets excused. But this goes beyond the parking tickets. This same concern about special treatment for the "privileged people" is what has led Dennis Lieb to resign from Easton's Planning Commission last week, according to a WFMZ-TV69 report filed by Joe McDonald.
Lieb complains that people favored by Panto are able to do what they want.. But ordinary citizens pay up to $1,000 in fees and jump through hoops to be able to live or do business downtown.
One of these favored people is developer Mark Mulligan, Easton's latest savior. He walks on water. In addition to receiving millions in RCAP grants, he is Easton's paid project manager at the Silk Mill. He's also the new landlord to The Express Times. That's why you won't read this story there.
While bending over backwards for Mulligan, City Administrator Glenn Steckman publicly referred to developer Abe Atiyeh as "out of his mind" and unleashed code enforcement officials against him. That has spawned a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Steckman thinks he's one of those favored people, too. Last year, when his son was cited after getting a bit too close to stormwaters, he expected the charges to be dismissed and ignored the citation. After all, he's the City Administrator, damn it! To their credit, Easton police officers refused to withdraw the citation, which Steckman mistakenly thought would be voided. This ultimately made its way to Judge McFadden. She didn't give a shit who Steckman was, either.
Twenty years in the electric chair.
Back in the People's Republic of Easton, another favorite is former Director of Community and Economic Development, Gretchen (Longenbach) Rice. She has just resigned, yet may already be on Mulligan's payroll. She was with him when he recently showed a property to a client. He explained that she was a new employee and he was "showing her the ropes." Her LinkedIn profile does not indicate where she is currently employed.
We also know that Easton ZHB member and Redevelopment Authority employee Michael Brett is not just a realtor for Mulligan. Mulligan and Brett formed both a LP and LLC to purchase two burned out properties for $5,000, and then tapped into the escrow funds held by the City. Easton ultimately recalled those escrows when it found out what was going on, but Mayor Sal Panto didn't like being told the emperor has no clothes and called me "nothing more than an agitator who stirs the pot with half-truths and inuendos [sic] from individuals that feed him what he thinks is factual."
You won't read that story in The Express Times, either. Don't want to piss off the landlord.
So yes, in Easton, it's who you know. LUTES, recipient of five voided parking tickets, thinks that's no big deal. "Who cares who does work for who and who knows who?" he asks.
Becky Magill, who opened her business in Williams Township instead of Easton, cares.
The people of Easton have been saying the exact same thing for years. Do you know how many times my neighborhood has been denied permit parking status, being lied to and told "We don't do permit parking in that area", but I can walk a half-block around the corner and they have it. Larry Holmes so much as mentions that he's unhappy, and the city turns itself inside out to accommodate him--but a regular citizen wants to own a small, cottage industry business? Oh no. $1200 in appeal fees, hope the almighty city agrees, and arrest if you so much as dare think about defying them. It's about time the people take back their city. There are many reasons I opened my business in Williams Township instead of Easton. The city keeps complaining that commerce is dying and that businesses and people are leaving Easton. Well...why do you think that is?The bigger question here is the one that DA John Morganelli noted last month - due process. Put more simply, it's a question of fairness. The system in place has to work for everyone, not just the Panto posse.
(Blogger's Note: Out of respect for the privacy of Steckman's family, I am not mentioning his son by name or linking to this minor matter.)