|Fed Ed supporters give me bottle of snake oil.|
It tasted like something else.
Until last night, City Council has been largely derided, and with good reason, as the third wheel on the Pawlowski bicycle, leading Allentown over a cliff. But that sentiment seemed to shift last not. Council President Ray O'Connell was actually defended by usual Council critics as a man of integrity after he was insulted with a cheap shot by a Fed Ed supporter who believes we should be erecting a statue in his honor. Candida Affa, one of Fed Ed's biggest supporters, acknowledged she has been a long-time Pawlowski supporter, but that she was elected to represent the people. "It breaks my heart," she said, "but I don't vote with my heart. I vote with common sense and the facts."
Instead of being Fed Ed's representative to the people, this Council was acting more like the people's representative to Pawlowski. Though this is a nonbinding resolution, it is a triumph for democracy.
I refused on general principle to stand for a prayer led by a member of Council, which I find offensive, particularly when there was at least one ordained minister and a rabbi in the crowd. Nobody seemed to mind. I had a front row seat, with NBC10 on my left and the NPR reporter to my right. I was hoping that her civility might seep into a bottom feeding blogger. And it might have worked.
Then one of Fed Ed's goons walked up to me and handed me a bottle marked "Snake Oil" with some yellow liquid inside. "This is for you," he said, and bolted. I drank it, and it tasted nothing like snake oil. It tasted like something else, but I was thirsty.
I think it must have been an energy drink because I'm still pecking away at 3 am. .
Numerous people spoke before the vote, including several Pawlowski supporters who belong to his church.
"Ask him to resign? You should be erecting a statue to him," argued Roberta Carter, who added that none of the current members of council are fit to be Mayor and that Ray O'Connell is particularly inept because he was a school administrator. She stated nothing she's read is detrimental to the City, and that City Council should adopt a resolution increasing Fed Ed's pay. "Sometimes, you have to overlook some things," said Casey Stengel, former owner of the Bada Bing restaurants in Allentown and a member of Pawlowski's church. Carl Furhrman said Pawlowski is one of the "straightest arrows I've ever met" and called the investigation into him a witchhunt and a vendetta.
But many more told Council that Fed Ed needs to go.
"This is about ethics," claimed Glenn Hunsicker. "City Council is the voice of the people, not the voice of the Mayor."
Perhaps the most eloquent speaker was Dennis Pearson. "All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride," he said, quoting from Sophocles' Antigone.
"He has stolen from our citizens, from our children," argued Chris Cocca, referring to the honest services fraud. Ken Heffentrager noted the first thing Pawlowski did as mayor was gut the rental rehab program. "He has turned his back on [the poorest] 27% of the population."
Joe Hoffman worried that the City staff is in "lock down mode," afraid to do anything. "Your city is grinding to a halt."
Kim Velez, a former City Council candidate, related her own experience in dealing with Pawlowski's "scare tactics" when he attempted to bounce her off the ballot a few years ago. "Democracy must be led by the people," she asserted.
Lou Hershman stated that "[t]he people who support the Mayor for the good things he's done should support you for the bad things he's done."
After giving everyone an opportunity to speak, Ray O'Connell read his own message to Pawlowski, noting he completely disagrees with Fed Ed's assertions that he's done nothing wrong. Likening Allentown to a silver bowl, O'Connell said that "silver tarnishes if not polished." He said the Mayor calls himself an honorable man, and then spoke directly to the absent Pawlowski. "Do the honorable thing, and resign so this silver bowl can shine again.
Jeff Glazier noted that all seven member of Council have sponsored this resolution, which is highly unusual, and that all seven members contribued to the resolution calling on Pawlowski to step down.
Cynthis Mota echoed Affa's observations, and Julio Guridy noted that all the accomplishments attributed to Fed Ed have often been the handiwork of Council.
City Council includes two former law enforcement officers. Daryl Hendricks was a police officer for 38 years and Roger MacLean was Chief of Police. Both spoke highly of the FBI, with Hendricks calling it the "premier law enforcement agency. "There is no doubt in my mind that our Mayor will be indicted," he said with the certainty that only a former cop possesses. "This is something that has to be done for the betterment of the City," added MacLean.
After the 7-0 vote was tabulated, City Clerk Michael Hanlon informed Council that he had just received an email from Fed Ed, which he wanted read into the record. According to the email, it was sent at 7:50 pm, after the meeting was underway. In this email, Fed Ed talks about the presumption of innocence, but fails to address the reality that this investigation has paralyzed city government.
His email, reproduced below leaves no doubt that he has no intention of stepping aside until he runs out of money to pay his lawyers or is arrested and dragged out of office kicking and screaming.
For the past ten years, I have proudly served the people of Allentown. I have led the massive rebuilding of this great city and been one of the architects of the unparalleled revitalization of Allentown as a place to live, work and play.
A bedrock principle of our justice system is that everyone, which includes Mayors, councilmen reporters, and the public are presumed innocent. I certainly hope that this concept has not been suspended in the City of Allentown. You would all want this protection for you, your friends or a family members. I am simply requesting the same and am disheartened that council is taking punitive and dramatic action against me without the benefit of affording me due process.
Hundreds upon hundreds of people who have approached me over the last several months to encourage, support and pray for me and my family during these last several months.
I understand this has been hard on our city, it has been even harder on me and my family. Yet I remain committed to serving the city and its residents as the Mayor, trusting your patience with this process.
No matter what the outcome of your vote is tonight, I commit to work with you for the betterment of our city and ask you to commit to do the same.
I ask that you afford me the courtesy of publicly reading this into the record at this evenings proceedings.
I thank you for your consideration and I apologize I am not able to be there personally tonight but am in Washington representing our great city at the US Conference of Mayors.
Mayor Ed Pawlowski
Updated 12:06: Randy Kraft at WFMZ-TV69 has the most detailed coverage of last night's meeting.