Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bryan Callahan Seeks Second Term in Bethlehem

Two years ago, Bryan Callahan managed to alienate most downtown Bethlehem merchants during the Martin Tower rezoning debate. After they were all done speaking during courtesy of the floor and were unable to rebut him, he'd tick off concessions that the City made to them, often erroneously. At the end of one meeting, he actually accused one critical merchant of paying all of his Bethlehem employees from an Allentown-based business to be able to take advantage of Allentown tax incentives. Callahan claimed that he obtained this confidential information from Keystone Collections, the City's taxing authority. Disclosure of this information to the public is unlawful. What's even worse, Callahan got it wrong. No Allentown tax incentive was being used by this merchant to pay its Bethlehem employees. Despite this clear abuse of his office, Callahan announced yesterday that he's seeking a second term on Bethlehem City Council.

In 2015, I told you that a review of Bryan's campaign finances showed that 31% of his contributions between 2013 and 20015 came from unions, developers, engineers and others with a vested interest in the Bethlehem’s CRIZ, TIF or other city-sponsored projects. In 2016, an off-election year, he raised another $18,325.00, and this time, 74% of his funding came from the same crony capitalists.

Last year, he said he was "proud" to vote for a new parking garage in South Bethlehem, which did have widespread support.  What he failed to say is that he also accepted $1,000 from the Benners, who are developing the office building next door. He also took $9,000 from the trade unions who will build that garage.

At a time when the Bethlehem citizenry is acutely sensitive of pay-to-play in local politics, and two Council members have actually proposed reforms, Callahan's campaign finance is disappointing, to say the least.  

Today, I am proud to announce that I am seeking re-election to Bethlehem City Council. Four Years ago, I chose to run on a simple platform; Keep our City growing, Keep our neighborhoods clean and safe and Keep our taxes low. While we have made great strides in each of these areas, I believe there is more work to do. “I am passionate about Bethlehem. I look forward to working for the residents of Bethlehem and keeping Bethlehem a great place to live, work and visit.”

Callahan portrays himself as a financial watchdog. He points out he was the lone no vote for a property tax increase in 2016. In 2017, he claims that he fought for a tax decrease. What he fails to say is that he failed.  Once again, he was the sole No vote. "I supported additional transparency efforts on the way we spend your tax dollars and ways to reduce and streamline our city government," he claims. What transparency efforts? I wish he were a bit more transparent about what exactly he did.  Whatever they are, he claims his efforts "helped the City’s Bond rating rise from BBB+ to AAA- with a positive outlook."

He said that he will "continue to push for the redevelopment of the old Bethlehem Steel property, the Martin Tower site and infill development throughout our City. By growing our tax base, we all win."

And he collects more campaign dollars.

He claims he was "most proud to spearhead the effort to create an Italian Festival as a tribute to my late wife."

He lives in downtown Bethlehem. "Living in the heart of the downtown has allowed me to experience the vibrancy of our City from a unique point of view," he says."Bethlehem really is a special place." I agree.

I've been highly critical here of many of things Bryan says and has done. I really wish he would tone down the money from groups and people who are looking for something.. I wish they' all tone it down. But if truth be told, he is at heart a very gentle soul who wants what is best for Bethlehem.

I know he really pissed off merchants during the Martin Tower debate, but it's hard to stay mad at him.

Callahan has largely been ineffectual in his first term. He sometimes seems to forget why he's there. But I'd vote for him. He reminds me of an athlete who can't seem to get anything right.You begin to wonder why the coach is even playing him. Then all of a sudden, everything clicks. I think Bryan has great potential, and on his own merit.

He's a starter.

Callahan is a teacher at Freedom High School and is the older brother of former Mayor John Callahan.

He's currently on the bench, but should be a starter, too.

According to The Express Times, Eric Evans also announced today that he is seeking re-election, too. Though I received a notice from Callahan, I received nothing from Eric. After he reads what i write about Bryan, I doubt I'll get one.

I'm unaware of anyone else seeking these offices, which is bad for democracy.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why won't any Republicans step up and goad us a choice? They may find that after the past four years, many Bethlehemites, Dem's included, would be open to their ideas.

Anonymous said...

Half the city council are ripe to be dumped with worthy challengers. Bryan can only trade on the name for so long.

Anonymous said...

i will vote and support Bryan Callahan for re-election.

Anonymous said...

Callahan will be largely ineffectual in his second term as well.
Take that to the bank.

Anonymous said...

Why won't any Republicans step up and goad us a choice?

Because they would have to spend a great deal of time and money running and then they would lose. Barring some type of scandal, a Republican cannot win in the COB.

Patriot2 said...

Callahan is a disgrace to city council & the easiest candidate to unseat should someone else step forward. His personal assaults to respected downtown merchants was inexcusable & continued during the Southside garage debate when he attacked Lehigh professors personally.

His Italian festival is a joke & people have pandered to him because he is on council but despise this event.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. No more teachers for council. Please. Now we have two of them running for re-election.

1:11am, I am a "R" but no "R" has a chance. They would only get a handful of votes, mainly in the far north side of the city. I would be shocked if they received more than a low single digit percentage of the vote.

Anonymous said...

Bryan has stood up for what he believes is right. I for one think his pro development attitude is a good one, especially in light of how well both Easton and Allentown are doing compared to Bethlehem lately. The "merchants" were over reacting and somewhat hysterical. Callahan could have handled it better but he can let his emotions get the best of him too. As you point out his heart is in the right place and will do a good job.

Anonymous said...

as a taxpayer i am fine with his budget votes!

Bernie O'Hare said...

" he attacked Lehigh professors personally. "

The birkenstocks can be quite arrogant and condescending. I am unaware that Bryan went after them, but if he did, good. They are quite full of themselves and it is nice to see some air let out of their self-important balloons. I do it myself rather frequently. Also, most merchants supported the South side garage. The only one opposed was the bad Bruce Haines, who is on the north side and should understand the parking dilemma better than most.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Haines is a total hypocrite. He was totally against the South Side development and new garage. He attacked the Mayor and all of Council for supporting the CRIZ and the projects within it. From what I'm hearing this guy is now asking for CRIZ acreage and a new garage, the same deal he called the Mayor and Council criminals. Haines is only about Haines.

Anonymous said...

Wait , he voted against raising taxes? And someone is upset with him? I applaud him and encourage more like him. I can't live on my SSI as it is!!!

Anonymous said...

His heart was in the right place, just like Pawlowski's.

Anonymous said...

"His Italian festival is a joke & people have pandered to him because he is on council but despise this event."

I thought this was a nice event. It would be better if they put on a non-holiday weekend, and allowed the Italians to run it. Anytime the Chamber or DBA get involved, the merchants get shafted. I know Bryan and others worked hard for this event.

Bryan has the best intentions for Bethlehem at heart. He has my vote!

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that Haines' ulterior motive in opposing the garage is that it would add additional parking right next to the Comfort Suites hotel, which competes with his hotel. The Comfort Suites lot gets tight when a local event is going on or they are hosting a banquet. If Comfort Suites makes a deal with the parking authority to lease perhaps a section of the garage for hotel guests to park for free, they could possibly expand the hotel over part of the existing lot, meaning more rooms for Haines to compete against.

Anonymous said...

And yes, I forgot to mention that the Birkenstocks can get ridiculously arrogant and condescending for sure. They are tolerant until you don't agree with them. Kind of like a certain other "group" that's been barking recently...

Patriot2 said...

Clearly none of you were at the hearings to hear Haines objections to the garage. He was against the parking authority subsidizing a private garage which was going to drain reserves from the Authority. Haines wanted free parking at downtown meters like Naples Florida & Saratoga Springs NY to allow downtown Bethlehem to compete with local malls. This garage would eliminate free on-street parking in Bethlehem. Also 3:22 is truly clueless about ulterior motives as it was Haines that found an Atty for Comfort Suites to fight for a new entrance to protect their business. People posting here are clueless & making crazy assumptions that are far from truth.

Bernie O'Hare said...

But you have to admit, he is the bad Brice Haines. So bad that the good Bruce is trying to get his name changed.

Anonymous said...

Bryan's fragile Id won't let him refrain from commenting here. I don't believe there are that many people in Bethlehem willing to vote for him. And his bad behavior and treatment of the public and Bethlehem employees is unacceptable. He is far from the role model a teacher is supposed to be.

Patriot2 said...

The good & bad Bruce's have fun with their self identified handles & are a very effective team to keep the city on their toes as they take different roles to achieve their joint objective for a strong downtown.

Anonymous said...

Bruce is like most businessmen. He has a moral compass that points to money. If there is a government program that helps competitors it is bad and government overreach. if there is a government program that helps him he wants it.

What he should do is drop his rates 20% and not have such goofy rental restrictions and he might be able to compete. Not everyone wants to pay more to use an old hotel because it is called historic.

Patriot2 said...

I think it's more like if you can't beat them on bad government programs then you better throw your hat in the ring as well or you get your clock cleaned. If you know Haines he is an arch conservative that abhors unfair government competition. So applying for CRIZ simply levels the playing field for Hotel B against Renaissance or any other new hotel with NIZ/CRIZ.

Hotel B is #1 rated of 57 Lehigh Valley hotels so doesn't sound like he needs your advice!!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Hotel Bethlehem is without question the area's best hotel, and is the chief reason why Main Street is so enchanting. And though Bruce Haines is very evil, and I disagree with himon nearly everything, he is a man of principle. If you want to anonymously attack him, sign your name. He is not running for office. I generally only allow anonymous personal attacks at elected officials and those who are running.

Anonymous said...

If you know Haines he is an arch conservative that abhors unfair government competition. So applying for CRIZ simply levels the playing field for Hotel B against Renaissance or any other new hotel "

I believe that is called "rationalization" by psychologists. Of course that is a required trait for most arch-conservatives.

Tommy

Patriot2 said...

Tommy left off the most significant part of my quote which referenced only new hotels "with NIZ/CRIZ". That is not a "rationalization" but about fairness in a competitive marketplace vs advantaging one owner over another.

What don't you get about that? How would you feel if the homeowners on each side of you didn't have to pay taxes but you did?

Anonymous said...

12:34 Tommy, Sounds like you hit a nerve with Patriot 2 (Bruce Haines?).

Anonymous said...

Not only for arch-conservatives, but also complete hypocrites! Haines has fought against a new restaurant on Main St. and against a liquor license at the Sun Inn. What is laughable is the Sun Inn was selling wine to customers 200 years before Haines was born. But because a new Sun Inn restaurant might have competed with Haines' Hotel B, what i believe is, sub par food, he fought against the liquor license and won at that time. Now Haines wants the city to build him a new garage to replace the one he privately owns. I can't wait to see all the people who fought the New St garage show up to complain about Haines' new deal.

Anonymous said...

Not only for arch-conservatives, but also complete hypocrites! Haines has fought against a new restaurant on Main St. and against a liquor license at the Sun Inn. What is laughable is the Sun Inn was selling wine to customers 200 years before Haines was born. But because a new Sun Inn restaurant might have competed with Haines' Hotel B, what i believe is, sub par food, he fought against the liquor license and won at that time. Now Haines wants the city to build him a new garage to replace the one he privately owns. I can't wait to see all the people who fought the New St garage show up to complain about Haines' new deal.

Anonymous said...

Bryan plays on his phone during most meetings. He'll pay attention if the topic serves a personal interest. Otherwise he doesn't bring much to the table.

Anonymous said...

FYI He did not "vote against raising taxes." There was no tax raise proposed this year.