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Thursday, December 08, 2016

Despite Hints at Litigation, Allentown City Council Adopts Budget

Meeting regulars Glenn Hunsicker (left)
Don Ringer (center) and Lou Hershman (right)
In January, Allentown City Council unanimously called on Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski to resign as a result of a federal investigation into political corruption swirling all around him. He refused. Instead, he doubled down. He attempted to shove Michael Walker, an unqualified former lawyer for convicted racketeer Chaka Fattah, down the throats of City Council. Walker was nominated as Director of Community and Economic Development. When City Council rejected this unqualified candidate, he hired him anyway. After defying them twice, Fed Ed then expected City Council to rubber stamp a budget full of raises for his cronies and raising income taxes to two percent. Last night, he found out that while he may still be Mayor, he is no longer King.

Fed Ed's contentious style failed. 
The man who at one time had gubernatorial and even Senatorial ambitions, has flown too close to the sun. His hubris has caused him to fall from the sky, where he once mingled with the rich and powerful. Instead of drowning in the sea like Icarus, he awaits an inevitable federal indictment that could come by year's end. He's been reduced to posting pictures on Facebook, trying to pretend he's still relevant.  His sole remaining friends, for the most part, are the people he pays with City money to stand by his side

They were there last night. Do-nothings like Ismael Arcelay and City Spokesperson Mike Moore, who lacks the personal honesty to use his own name. City Council was going to cut their usual raises to a scant 3%. They were there to see Fed Ed bully his way into getting what he wants, as he has done so many times.

Also present was Alan Jennings, one of the few people left who supports Pawlowski.

Susan Wild, between a rock and a hard place
In addition to the King's men, there were also about 50 other people whose taxes pay for these salaries and operations. Tavern owner Don Ringer. Accountant Lou Hershman. Astronaut Dennis Pearson. Activist Robert Trotner, carrying a "Drain the Swamp" sign. Blogger Michael Molovinsky.

They were on to Fed Ed long before City Council or federal investigators. Some have suffered for speaking out.

Shorty before the meeting started, Fed Ed quietly came into the room, carrying a gigantic canvas bag. I thought it might be his dirty underwear, but the feds have them.  The bag contained several giant budget books containing a new spending plan that he had just presented that very day, at 4 pm.

A Brief History of the 2017 Budget

Fed Ed, his cronies and Jennings were there to stop Council from doing their job. One week earlier, Council adopted a series of amendments to Pawlowski's $104 million spending plan. They slashed payraises for Fed Ed's myrmidons. They rolled back overtime spending by ten percent, and cut payments for consultants and other professional services by ten percent. They reduced funding for the Managing Director, Director of Community and Economic Development and Operations Manager positions to $1. And they knocked ten percent off a proposed income tax hike.

Council had intended to adopt their amended budget on December 13, two days in advance of the December 15 deadline. Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild warned them they better do it now. She was concerned that Fed Ed would veto the budget on the 16th. Then he could claim that Council had failed to adopt their budget by the 15th, so his spending plan is adopted automatically. She wanted Council to be able to override a veto before the 15th.

Candida Affa, Fed Ed's sole ally on Council
As a result, Council decided to approve the budget tonight.

Fed Ed countered that because funding for the Managing Director, Director of Community and Economic Development and Operations Manager positions was reduced to $1, this was an elimination of programs. He insisted that the city's legislators were required to start the process anew.  
Despite red herrings that Fed Ed constantly threw up along the way, including a new budget proposal, Allentown City Council refused to be bullied and adopted their own budget for next year. It passed 6 to 1, with Candida Affa being the sole No vote.

Pawlowski's Complaints

It was a meeting that should have lasted 20 minutes, but stretched on for over two hours as Pawlowski constantly interjected himself and attempted to throw up roadblocks.

He started by insisting on reading an 8-page, single-spaced memo that claimed the sky would fall unless his, and only his, spending plan was adopted. He accused a Council that consists of a former police chief (Roger Maclean) and police captain (Daryl Hendricks) of setting up the police department for failure by reducing overtime by ten percent.  He said the City's collective bargaining agreement with firefighters was being violated. Restrooms and parks would be dirtier. Snow would go unplowed. The City would have to let children cross some intersections without crossing guards. A "thoughtless leadership vacuum" was being created by a "shortsighted" and "ludicrous" legislature.

Complaining about the City's fleet of vehicles, he asked Council to explain "which vehicles I don't service?"

"Yours," shouted Kenneth Heffentrager.

The more that Fed Ed spoke, the louder Heffentrager began to jeer. And as usual, I got blamed. Candida Affa looked at me with daggers in her eyes.

Ray O'Connell Slams Fed Ed

Ray O'Connell comes out on top in
exchange with Fed Ed.
At various times during the meeting, Fed Ed would interrupt to say Council has failed to follow their own rules as well as the Home Rule Charter. But Council President Ray O'Connell stated he is "confident" that they were acting in accord with both. "The Mayor has received our proposed budget amendments. He has given his rebuttal.We have listened to his rebuttal, and that's where we're at tonight."

Fed Ed: "So am I to assume you're not going to consider the recently submitted budget?

O'Connell: "No comment."

Fed Ed: "What do you mean 'no comment'?  [He should know. He's been saying that enough about the criminal investigation].

O'Connell: "Take it for what it means.I have no comment."

***

Fed Ed: "I don't think it's appropriate for you to make a statement with no explanation to the public. I think, quite honestly, it's bad government."

O'Connell: "You do not have to lecture me on bad government. ... Eventually, if we have to go further, and we know what that means, we shall do so."

Daryl Hendricks Slams Fed Ed

Alan Jennings asked Council to restore funding for the Managing Director, Director of Community and Economic Development and Operations Manager positions. While Pawlowski is under investigation, he claims he is innocent, Jennings observed.

"This isn't working," he told Council. He noted that the City is losing good people and that "morale in this building is a disaster." Paraphrasing Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jennings said, "There's a bad moon rising." He insisted that "we can't get anything done in this City without those positions funded."

O'Connell noted the positions are funded at $1, but if the Mayor produces a candidate who is actually qualified, "we will be more than willing to sit down and listen."

Hendricks was a bit more blunt.

"I think those comments should have been made to the person more responsible than anyone here, and that person is the Mayor of Allentown. That's the dark cloud hanging over our City. That's the problem we're facing. When you say about the innocence, when six other people have already pled guilty for actions they conducted with him, then I think the evidence is clearly overwhelming. At some point in time, we'll be more than happy to fill those positions, when we're part of the process, when we're allowed to make decisions along with the Mayor. That has not happened, and that is why there's a dark cloud hanging over us."

10% Reduction in consultants and professional services.

Fed Ed also argued that Council would be forcing him to break pre-existing contracts for school crossing guards. But City Controller Jeff Glazier had an answer. He noted that the amendment to make a 10% reduction "reduces the whole allocation by 10%, but it doesn't necessarily affect individual contracts within. It does force the administration to prioritize within those general accounts."

The tax rate

There was some confusion when it came to the tax rate because Council had been unable to set it, given the pressure to move ahead. Finance Director Brent Hartzell came up with a figure of 1.975%. According to the Census Bureau, the average annual salary is just $17,483 in Allentown, which means a city tax bill of $345.29.

Pawlowski scoffed at it. "That's a little more than you buy a cup of coffee for at McDonald's. He also warned this will negatively affect the City's bond rating.

What's ahead?

Fed Ed has five days in which to accept or veto the budget. If he does so, City Council can override him at their December 13 meeting.

He has hinted all along that Council's actions are illegal and that he intends to sue. If he does, he won't be able to use the Solicitor because she represents both him and Council. He'd have to seek outside counsel. It will be interesting to see where he gets the money. I doubt Council will appropriate funds so they can be sued.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are the "good people" that are leaving city government being replaced? Or is the city saving money by eliminating their positions and consolidating their duties with other positions?

Now is an excellent time to reduce expenditures or transfer those funds to public saftey.

Anonymous said...

Well there it is, the arrogant stagemaster, "Fed Ed", is once again trying to manipulate everybody and everything. He reminds me of Adolph Hitler, in his last days, moving fictional troops and resources to gain his prominence in broken down and destroyed Germany. Nobody knows better than former Police Chief MacLean about losing command and supervisory staff under "Fed Ed" and his constant manipulation of allocated force complement. His manpower levels were below the 1990's complement with an approximate 17% increase in population. Just putting enough police officers on the street to answer calls for service was harrowing. "Fed Ed" didn't care then, why now? This is a pure last ditch effort for power and he knows his budget manipulating days with council are at an end. If people like Candida Affa want to follow this dirtbag down the drain, then go! Sell your assets from your bar, drain your savings you worked hard for, and give it to his defense fund so he can stay out of touch with reality!

Anonymous said...

I think last night was Ed's wake-up call that he's stayed around too long and time to go home to Chicago.

Anonymous said...

AlfalFA CantInA!rEturn to big Circuz tent set up by the Palumpas in their man cave. The gLoryholz to remain open for miscraents and geekers who fluant thier ill gotten gaines in front of the blogger potperatzi.

RepublicanREDD, not affiliated with LAW ENFORCEMENT!

Robert Trotner said...

I agree completely.

Emily Opilo caught racketeer Fed Ed trying to slip out of the meeting that finally spelled his downfall and disgrace. He was trying to avoid her. He was muttering "ridiculous, ridiculous ". I think he must have been talking about his performance.

When Emily caught up with him, he told her that "council has left me few opfions". They've only given him one: resign and cooperate with the Feds. He's finished.

Kudos and thanks from a grateful citizenry go to O'Connell and Hendricks, whose righteous anger as well as patience in seeking the right vehicle to demolish Fed Ed were rewarded last night. Also to Solicitor Susan WIld, who maneuvered the legal pitfalls to find a way to do it. Also to Julio Guridy, Dave McGuire, Cynthia Mota, and Roger NacLean, who ignored Fed Ed's cajoling and blandishments to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

The city lost a lot of good people, either resigning or being fired for speaking out against the fraud. Jennings is correct, the morale is low because of Fed Ed and his bully cronie managers that can treat employees any way they want and as long as Fed Ed is mayor, these managers are safe.

Affa needs to wake up, and see that Fed Ed is a bully and does not care about anyone but himself.

Anonymous said...

What a wussie. Threatening a lawsuit because he can't get his way. But he was shut up and shut out in a most honorable way. Now he can't say spit! Don't go away mad, just go away.

Anonymous said...

Surely Mr. Jennings with his commitment to good government, humility and self-sacrifice will step up and fill one of the $1 positions himself?
Yet once again he could set the standard for dedication above and beyond the call and serve as a role model for the little people of the Lehigh Valley.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This is not about him.

Anonymous said...

Ed is truly a bully .
Anyone who has ever dealt with him over long term will tell you so
His Directors and Bureau Managers are deathly afraid of him.
They are all at will employees who can go and be let go in 2 weeks.
The FBI and the US Attorneys need to squeeze Ed now and get this city back to normalacy.
Why did all these people leave city hall.
The common denominator is ED PAWLOWSKI.
Last night is a perfect ezample of his arrogance.
Think about your children Ed and do the right thing----RESIGN NOW.

Anonymous said...

"Astronaut Dennis Pierson". Best line ever, Bernie. Lol.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dennis is many things. He is also a teacher, retired steelworker, baseball umpire and heavily involved in his block watch. He's a good guy who I tease from time to time.

Anonymous said...

If Ed was authentically concerned about the Community Development department he would have met Council in the middle and booted Walker and then worked with them on a department head both could agree on.

That's one of Allentown's biggest governing problems. Lack of compromise. For years it was Ed running council. Now the pendulum has swung and council is going to run Ed.

JoAnn Kennedy said...

You mean the same Alan Jennings who heads up the CAC-LV hmmmm I know for a fact that the US Attorney in Philly a G. Sullivan, told me to call Alan Jennings -- hmmm this rabbit goes deep Alice !!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Once again, this is not about him.

Robert Trotner said...

I'm just wondering now if the sudden shift in Fed Ed's fortunes is in some ambiguous way somehow connected to the expected completion of the grand jury's work soon ?

JoAnn Kennedy said...

Sorry Bernie couldn't help myself -- just connecting the dots

Anonymous said...

Alan Jennings is mentioned in your piece and even more prominently in MM's blog regarding last nights council session.
That would suggest he is in fact part of this ongoing issue.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then comment about it there. I will be deleting all OT comments.

Anonymous said...

The mayor is a vindictive bully.
He will continue to intimidate and abuse people until the day he leaves office.
His supporters, however few, enable his behavior.

Anonymous said...

DANGER! DANGER! Will Robinson, that is the community consensus by the robot running around?

Anonymous said...

You too are cognaZantly complicate, get it straight if you wish to emulate! It is modern social illZ in sourced by none other than the originators of the REcreation of the all nue nue nue and improved Z Zone and itZ implementation thereof! They too have left the mayorZ bully siZed meals provided as an expense account juggling actZ!

REpublican redd
humanist by design

Anonymous said...

We have a tradition of having to prove one guilty. Not having the accused prove their innocence.

1. Is Ed under suspicion of committing criminal acts ? Yes

2. What crimes is he accused of committing ? Well, no one really knows, but the FBI is investigating.

3. Is Ed part of that investigation? It is believed so, but again, no one has any details of what he may be being investigated for.

4. Did City Council vote a resolution of "no confidence" against Ed ? Yes

5. Why did they vote for that resolution? Because of 1 and 2 above, also probably because of personal feelings about the mayor due to his manner of governing.

6. Was there any evidence that Ed acted contrary to the best interests of the City? No, it was just suspicion.

7. So basically, despite our tradition of innocent until proven guilty, and with no charges files against Ed, he's essentially being ramrodded out of the Mayor's office by City Council. Yes, that seems to be the case.

8. Is this a dangerous precedent ? You betcha.

10. Is this a palace coup by City Council? It has the appearance of such.

11. Is this a huge mess? Again, you betcha.

12. What if there are no indictments issued by the U. S. Attorney against Ed? There will be a lot of coucil members with egg on their faces.

Dennis P said...

Even if no indictment is brought against the mayor ... The fact that six people have pleaded guilty and s few of these were part of Ed's team means that the mayor could be charged by council with malfeasance of duty if they were allowed to do so.

Anonymous said...

6:15 so the "birds of a feather" accusation works if nothing else ? I don't believe that the City Charter allows City Council to charge anyone with any crime either. That's why they can't "impeach Ed and get rid of him.

The only way they're going to get rid of Ed is if he loses in the Democratic primary next year.

Robert Trotner said...

6:03 pm:
A public office is a public trust. A public officer, who gets paid good taxpayer money to serve the people, must be held to a higher standard. There's a difference between a finding of guilt and a finding that someone is unfit for public duty because six people have pled guilty and pointed to him as guilty of racketeering and theft of honest services. And council has the right to amend the mayor's budget. Both these issues are independent of the issue of guilt or innocence. You've merely created a straw man.

I have no doubt that Fed Ed will be indicted and convicted. But he still has to go now.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, this has nothing to do with the shroud of innocence cloaking Fed Ed. No one disputes that he is presumed innocent. The fact is that the investigation and charges have paralyzed city government. That will continue for so long as he is in office. He needs to go.

Anonymous said...

It's just a matter of time before he is seen sleeping on a park bench and handling shopping carts and bags. You can tell in his eyes from the videos posted by the Morning Call, that he is just coming in touch with reality, that his bullying isn't going to work anymore, and that he really has no one (especially since he has no more money and can't convince the people who hold the purse strings) in his corner. His final downward spiral will be uneventful and just a news blip. So sad that greed and arrogance has taken him down. I feel bad for Lady MacBeth. That cannot be a happy conversation of morning coffee each day?

Anonymous said...

It is worth noting that the Mayor has not been charged with any crime. Even though some have gone on about it for years. He is innocent and not even a charge. At the end of the day this may be some peoples dream but he may not be involved. Will this place offer an apology then?

Of course not. There are criminals around but at this point he is not one of them.

Rich Fegley said...

Anonymous @6:03 PM said "6. Was there any evidence that Ed acted contrary to the best interests of the City? No, it was just suspicion."

Delta Thermo Energy deal is enough evidence for me. I presented this very clearly to Council. The Mayor and Council would have us paying over $100 per ton to have our trash removed. Easton pays just over $40 per ton.

Anonymous said...

Funny? When In any other entity an underling does something criminal or wrong under the head's tenure, whether the head is guilty or not, the head resigns. People demand this. If anything it is a dereliction of his duty. He should have been more careful watching. But not one plead guilty, many arpund him and under him plead guilty.

Anonymous said...

Two things Mr Fegley, and also, I enjoy going into your restaurant. I understand your view quite well, as I've been a Republican my entire life and despise Ed and believe that under his leadership, Allentown has become a worse place to live and would hope we have someone like Donald Trump to turn the city's fortune's around with the next election.

The other thing is that the incinerator deal was bad. I never agreed with it either. It goes back to Ed's manner of governing. He wanted it and that was the way it was going to be. Just like putting the Ice Hockey arena into the middle of downtown. Ed wanted it there, and that's the way it was going to be. However, there was, on the surface anyway, nothing criminal about the deal. Maybe there was something backhanded about the deal, maybe there were payoffs made, which I personally think there were, but where was City Council to make those accusations at the time? Crickets is what we got. One Democrat does not criticize another.

That's Ed's manner of governing. It's his way or no way. And it seems that City Council was just fine with that, most of the time. The Delta Thermo Energy Contract was one of City Council's few bright points since Ed became mayor in 2007.

Also historically, there is a reason that Ed is one of only three or so mayors to have had a third term as Mayor. It's called wearing out your welcome. And Ed has indeed worn out his. However, unless Ed is indicted by the U.S. Attorney on criminal charges, this is a coup d' tat by City Council. On one hand, I find this enormously pleasing, because City Council members are all Democrats and I didn't vote for any of them. But, using the birds of a feather argument as someone did above, even Ed's cronies on the City Council, who acted as a rubber stamp for Ed for years, want to get rid of him. That's all well and good. I wish we could get rid of that entire bunch in City Hall, lock, stock ad barrel. But we aren't because Allentown is a city ruled by Democrats and the welfare state. People vote to receive checks from the government and as long as those checks come in the mail, the people will vote for those who are giving them that free money...

But a palace coup to force a resignation is a very dangerous process. Be careful what you wish for Democrats, you might just get it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It is worth noting that the Mayor has not been charged with any crime."

It is also worth noting that the very public investigation into political corruption in Allentown, in which he has been featured prominently as "Public Official No. 3," has completely paralyzed the city. Nothing is getting done. I believe it has negatively impacted the NIZ, and know it has negatively impacted everything else in Allentown. If Fed Ed really cared about Allentown, as he claims, he would step aside and let someone pick up the pieces. This has nothing to do with the presumption of innocence, to which he is entitled in the criminal arna. This has everything to do with public perception, in which he and Allentown have become a laughing stock. But Fed Ed does not really care about anyone but himself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"However, unless Ed is indicted by the U.S. Attorney on criminal charges, this is a coup d' tat by City Council."

You apparently think the mayor is a dictator. You are dead wrong.

First, Council has complete authority under the HRC to reject a cabinet nominee. Fed Ed defied Council and the HRC by making Walker an effective head of DCED despite Council's vote. That's the imposition of tyranny.

Second, under the HRC, Council has complete authority over the public purse. It is they,and not he, who decides what is spent, and what it is spent on. In complete accordance with the HRC, Council considered and acted upon six amendments to the budget that imposed their own will on city spending. Contrary to Fed Ed's claims, they ended no program.They merely reduced funding to $1 until the Mayor starts complying with the HRC himself. This is completely legal and has been upheld when it has come up in other jurisdictions. There is no HRC violation by Council, and Fed Ed will discover he has no legal options.

Anonymous said...

Democrats elected Ed and look what you got. He's been negatively impacting Allentown since the day he took office in 2007. His philosophy of governing is my way or no way, and all of the lemmings on City Council have been in his pocket for years.

Now he's not going to leave and the lemmings on City Council can't do a damn thing about it. Ed likes the power he has. Lisa is Allentown's Marie Antoinette. They aren't about to leave. If he hasn't been indicted by now, I doubt if he will be. Why not cut his salary to $1 a year as well? Money talks more than meaningless "no confidence" resolutions.

Perhaps it's time for the Democratic stranglehold on Allentown to end?

Bernie O'Hare said...

One party rule is a bad idea, which we see on a state level and are about to see on a national level, where the GOP is in full control. You won't mention that bc yiou are a partisan.

And you have no idea how federal investigators operate. My guess is an indictment is coming very soon. Since you are anonymous, you won't be publicly proven wrong, buy you are wrong. The investigation is still going full steam as the feds cross their t's and dot their i's.There are subpoenas you know nothing about and that I'm unable to disclose. The grand jury is still calling in witnesses, as I mentioned recently. You are part of an "instant gratification" society that wants what you want when you want it. Criminal justice fortunately does not work that way.

Anonymous said...

Bernie. Are you part of the investigation process to know publicly undisclosed information?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Of course not! But By now, you should know I have numerous sources. For example, the recent disclosures about Cedar Beach were first reported here. So I know that, in addition to being a partisan, you are full of shit.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the federal authorities will be calling you on for questioning since you claim to have so much "inside" information. People may be jeopardizing the investigation and you may be helping. Time for the authorities to step in and check all these "rumors" out.

Justice now!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Maybe you should call and tell them. Of course anonymous cowards like you don't do that sort of thing. You instead troll on blogs 8 days after they were published.