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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why I Support Allentown City Council's Budget Deal

In the post below, I reprinted verbatim an Allentown City Council news release concerning a budget deal reached with Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. It's no surprise that this compromise has inspired an angry by some who probably retain some healthy skepticism about a City Council better known as bobbleheads than firebrands. But I consider it a good deal and here's why.

1. Though I believe City Council was in a very strong legal position, you just never know what will happen inside a courtroom. A settlement provides certainty and saves the City the expense of hiring lawyers so that two branches of government can fight with each other.

2. The raise for the police and fire chiefs, as well as the Public Works Director is set at five per cent. This is well below what Fed Ed wanted. He wanted an 11% payhike for his police chief, a 13% raise for his fire chief, and 28% for his public works maven.

3. When Council adopted a 10% cut, across the board, in payments to consultants and third party providers, that could open the door to breach-of-contract claims by some providers with existing contracts. Though this could have been avoided, it would have resulted in some providers receiving bigger cuts.

Hendricks, a former cop, had
some tough words for Fed Ed
4. Reducing the OT budget from 10% to 5% avoids the worrisome problem of  a vindictive Mayor refusing to order his road crews to plow snow after hours.  

5. If you read between the lines, controversial employee Michael Walker is gone. When Fed Ed defied Council and hired him after Council rejected him as Director of Community and Economic Development, that's how this mess started. City Council is not talking, but that's because it already has the mouse in its mouth. It won on that major point. The same is true of Fed Ed's pick for Managing Director, Oscar Montaya. He's a dead man walking. Right now, I think City Council would reject Mahatma Gandhi if picked by Fed Ed. He's lost their trust and respect.

6. A non-disparagement clause, the result of some tetchy emails between Fed Ed and Daryl Hendricks, is very nice, but completely unenforceable. You can't muzzle a person from speaking out against his government or other elected officials. That's a clear violation of the First Amendment. While I'm sure City Council members will do their best to avoid lashing out, they have been given ample provocation.


Anonymous said...

God Bless Mayor Pawlowski!

Anonymous said...

The Lord Our Savior is born.
No one in the earthly realm may judge his servant Edwin.

Anonymous said...

I was going to make a comment but I fear it could be interpreted as disparaging the gentleman who is our elected and currently serving mayor.
What would be the penility for a givin remark viewed as disparaging to the mayor?
Has the 1st Amendment been effectively suspended in Allentown?

Anonymous said...

Will this nightmare never end for the Queen City?
Who will weight in next, Billy Joel for an update of his hit tune or the US Federal Justice authorities?
Am I allowed to call this ongoing farce a "nightmare", or is that against the rules now?

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see City Council once again sit idly by and let the polish prince have his way. For a month or so I saw this group finally grow some gonads and take on his highness, through his money belt. But this was just a game of mini-wits. Both parties, talking tough and one, threatening a law suit. This was only for grandstanding; and nothing else.

Nobody in the present government can clean this up! I guess we will have to rely on the feds to do this. But in the mean time, all of those council people who signed off on this dastardly agreement, should be held accountable and dumped when they're up for election. Only then will Allentown be free of their corrupt government.

Anonymous said...

Is there an opening for the ministry of information position?

Anonymous said...

This is the worst thing Council could do.

If there’s one thing that should be clear in Allentown’s Charter, it’s that Council has great power regarding the budget. That is common to almost any legislative body.

By entering into this agreement, they have negotiated away that power, not only for this year but for future years and for future council’s as well. The precedent has now been set.

If Council is in effect nothing more than a rubber stamp for the Mayor’s budget, the people of Allentown deserve to know that so they could work on amending the charter. Instead, this Council has institutionalized rubber-stamping as the role of all councils – the current one and all future bodies.

Yes, a court battle would have cost taxpayers a few bucks, but not close to what it will cost to implement this deal (and that’s looking only at the hole in this year’s budget and not including the effect the precedent will have on future budgets).

For those who say that at least council will now have control over who becomes Managing Director or CED Director, Council already had that. Furthermore, if Council could step back and look at the big picture from the last decade, they’d realize that the unnecessary Managing Director position freed up Pawlowski’s time to run for other offices and commit his illegal acts. That position should never be filled again, and one of the reforms that any candidate running for Mayor in the coming election should support is abolishing that post.

This is another historic blunder by Council, perhaps exceeding the police pension deal. Council barked, but when push came to shove, they rolled over for a rub on the belly.

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me the current mayor was a vocal supporter of the police pension deal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:07, They have negotiated away no power. That is utter nonsense. Even if what you were saying were correct, which it is not, one Council cannot bind another. Council won on its major point. Also, the Mayor has agreed to have a committee help him choose the next managing director. That is a major concession.

Monkey Momma said...

I'm not so sure Walker is ousted. Although Affa seems to think a separate agreement was struck between council and the City to eventually remove Walker, O'Connell refused to address the subject and stated it was a City personnel matter. The deal here does not mention Walker at all. So....I think the door is open, and Walker is probably going to stay. I don't have anything against Affa, but I'm not sure she's the best person to rely upon for clear, unbiased information on this matter.

Either way, I'm in favor of avoiding a lawsuit between the City and Council. While I support Council's previous efforts to corral the power of the mayor, I do think Pawlowski had legitimate complaints in his proposed lawsuit. Setting a salary at $1 would be construed as de-funding a position by any reasonable measure. The City residents would pay for this blunder, in the form of tax dollars being diverted towards paying lawyers.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Read between the lines. Council's no-concession point was on Walker. That was the one area where there was no give. They are unable to discuss a personnel matter publicly. Had Walker remained, there would be no deal.

Rich Fegley said...

Here is the bottom line...

The Mayor and City Council have allowed the City of Allentown budget of $89 million to increase to $110 million in a matter of a few years.

For several years prior to the Water/Sewer Lease our City budget was $89 million.

In 2017 the budget is set to be $110 million.

Each year for the past two years, the budget has increased by approximately $10 million. That is more than a 10% increase each year.

The Mayor's solution has been to raise EIT twice and borrow money from funds twice.

WTF is going on? Just stop for a moment and think about this and I'm sure you will ask the same question. The Mayor and City Council have destroyed Allentown's balanced budget. They Mayor's solution was to raise taxes and borrow money...twice, and Council approved it all.

Anonymous said...

12:02. Despite the fact that there is a family feud going on between City Council and Ed with regards to rumors of criminality, Democrats are Democrats. Raising taxes and borrowing money is a family trait they all can agree on.

Anonymous said...

The best is yet to come , council plan is not finish . The new rules are in the works .
Come to meetings and help pass the new rules . The committee for charter change is looking for members .
The ethics committee is too work on new rules ,to prevent a no action from that committee .
The five year plan is to be a open book with updates in details .
The department heads will give updates to council 4 times a year .in detailed report .
With details of action plan to cut cost and Inprove the department .
The product will be a city run on saving revenue . Not cost increases every year ?

Health care question same as full time employee ?
New rules for controller . Cost for part time work Same for solicitor office ?

Car perks to be reviewed , along with moving into the city for job position .
The lost of revenue from wage tax on theses employees at a the highest rate payed by city .

This is just the start of what you can expect coming to council meetings this year .bring your supportors and support council Im the making the changes needed to save the city . Some where left out because the administration is against most of the changes ?
Resolution and ordinances need public input . Come out and be part of the change to the way the city has been run

Up dates on new recycled program as a profit center . Not a cost

Anonymous said...

As the Managing Director position has been de-funded by City Council, is the position now going to be funded now at a lower rate of compensation ?

Anonymous said...

Change the city , sounded like a mouse was in the wall
Or the city need a real change , to move forward
Make you wonder in the people do show up at meeting
That the changes will happen , this time ?
The new slogan . All lives matter
Even in Allentown , not just everywhere else ?

Anonymous said...

When Republicans are elected in Allentown, then things will change

Until then, it's just the same old shit with different faces at the trough

Anonymous said...

When will this horror show end?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where Fed Ed's BFF Mike is spending the holidays?

Anonymous said...

Mark my words-someday our fine mayor will be the governor .

Anonymous said...

Anyone who's surprised that a one-party, tax and spend town has gone from an $89 million budget to $110 million is disingenuous or naive. Let the good times roll. We'll be long gone when the bill arrives at the grandkids' doorstep. And they'll be forever grateful for minor league hockey and Chickie's and Pete's.

Anonymous said...

We should applaud the Mayor for being willing to work with city council on this compromise.

Anonymous said...

3:19 "minor league hockey and Chickie's and Pete's"

Bread and Circuses....

george schaller said...

I just have one question for this transgression, how is it that some of the very actors can have free federal legal advice in the panderance of crimes against a protected class of citizenry that will allow the can to be kicked down the road a little more once again? Than there is the publishing of the artifacts of the lawlessness that comes to town with every carnival twiZt and turn almost like wiggling when you should have been jiggling!
REpublican redd
humanist by design

Canary_In_Coalmine said...

Bernie, do you agree that the at least one, and possibly both hiring committees will be controlled by Pawlowski by a margin of 3-2?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Don't know.

Anonymous said...

There is so much to applaud this mayor for where does one begin?

Anonymous said...

I hear the pitter patter of little feet, little FBI feat.

Anonymous said...

"Democrats are Democrats. Raising taxes and borrowing money is a family trait they can all agree upon." ... Spot on. People like Rich Fegley who used to support Democrats until it got too expensive for them just should shut up and pay their taxes on time. Because we are all just slaves to the wealthy, to quote Rich, himself, writing at Molovinsky's blog a few years back. That was classic Democrat speak from Fegley on full parade. Oh, the irony of it all!