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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The O'Connell Formula: Strong Neighborhood + Strong School = Strong City

Ray O'Connell at East Side Youth Center
There was quite a bit of activity yesterday in Allentown's crowded Mayoral race. It started with a Sam Bennett news conference. It ended with a Charlie Thiel wine-and-cheese fundraiser. I had conflicts for Sam's morning event. I was unable to afford Thiel's fundraiser, which is just as well because I am an alcoholic who happens to be allergic to all dairy products. But in the late afternoon, I had time for a Ray O'Connell rally at East Side Youth Center, attended by about 30 of his biggest supporters.

O'Connell, who is a youth sports enthusiast, was fittingly introduced by boxing announcer Mike Mittman. "He is one of us, a man of the people," said Mittman. "When he becomes Mayor, he is going to do what is best for you, the people of Allentown. He is going to do the right thing."

His main message? It's the same one he's had since he first ran for City Council. "We, as a City, are only as strong as the School District, and the School District is only as strong as the City."  He said our children and their growth are "vital components" to the City's success. He claimed that 17,000 students in Allentown, or 89%, are from low income families. This is exacerbated by a transient rate of 40%. He described children who attend all four middle schools in the course of one year. "That is unacceptable, totally unacceptable," he said.

Though he believes the school district has made strides, "the city government has failed. We cannot let this continue."

About 30 people attended O'Connell's presser
At a recent first time home buyer program  hosted by Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, O'Connell noted there were 55 participants. None of them was willing to buy a home in Allentown. Reason? The schools.

O'Connell believes that the best way for the City and school district to turn things around is through "school-based community revitalization."His plan is to develop areas around the schools and the quality of life for people in those neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods created this City. East Side. West End. South Side. Northeast. They created this City.

He noted that the school district plans to open two schools in 2020. "We need to work with developers to ensure that these schools are built to a healthy standard of living." Corner groceries.Mentor programs."We would work with the school district to ensure these needs are met. ... We need to come together"

At a school-based community revitalization program in Baltimore, O'Connell noted that state reading standards went from 19% to 78% in five years.

"We can do it here. We do not have dumb children. We need to give them the resources.We need to be with them. We need to give the parents the resources. Every parent I met over the years - they want to do the best for their children. They love their children. They don't have the resources. We, the City and school district, need to bond to give them the resources"

He said that as important as the downtown revitalization is, "we cannot turn our backs" on the rest of the City. "We have to develop the South Side, East Side, Northeast."

"Too many children have not seen success. You grow and you learn from success."

Strong neighborhoods plus strong schools equals a strong city."


Anonymous said...

Good for you. O'Connell is the only logical choice for Mayor. The other two functions ere meaningless held by divisive candidates that would only perpetuate the ego centered policies of Fed Ed.

Mr. O'Connell is the only candidate deserving of being Mayor. He is not in this for ego or personal gain, unlike the others.

Anonymous said...

How old is this guy? Looks like he has the energy of his measly audience of supporters. He will be lucky to come in 4th behind Fed Ed, Sam the Sham, and Fed Ed Lite.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, Mr. O'Connell is out of touch. By his own admission the schools are failing-he was part of that. Then he said, "City government has failed." He's the god da&$ City Council President who sat there and ALLOWED Pawlowski the freedom to run rampant over Allentown. His heart may be in the right place but he has already failed, he failed our schools and he failed our city and now he wants to run everything? I'm sorry but his skill set is seriously lacking.

Yocco's Sauce said...

King Allentown's campaign is being ignored not only in the dailies but here in the vortex of vile blog bile. It's a shame because nobody loves Allentown more than the king.

Anonymous said...

"We, as a City, are only as strong as the School District, and the School District is only as strong as the City."

Mr. O'Connell. Why is the ASD ranked as the bottom of the barrel in rankings of the school districts in Pennsylvania?

Anonymous said...

It also seems that Mr. O'Connell has had a change of heart regarding Mayor Pawlowski.

Mr. O'Connell rubber-stamped anything Mayor Pawlowski wanted for years in City Council. However, once the FBI took up residence in City Hall, O'Connell decided that wasn't a good thing and became a vocal opponent of the Mayor. Even challenging him in the Democratic primary election.

Mr O'Connell. If Mayor Pawlowski is so terrible, why did you fully support him before Allentown municipal government came under the scrutiny of the Justice Department? Aren't you also a part of the problem ?

Anonymous said...

He is the first of the candidates to mention the neighborhoods as the core for rebirth, However, he is carrying a lot of baggage as Council President and councilman, who let his majesty Public official No.3, carry out his vengeful and irresponsible campaign against the police and fire departments in the city. It took him 10-years to bring the police department up to force complement [219] and he whittled AFD manpower to the lowest complement in 40-years [122] and cut their budget by 62% throughout his reign of terror. This was all under the eyes of Mr. O'Connell and the bought and paid for city council.

"Fed Ed's" new police chief vows to carryon with his {Pawlowski's law enforcement program] and they refuse to acknowledge the need to put the police back into the neighborhoods. The treacherous school district will not change until the culture changes and the need to start is in the neighborhoods. If O'Connell really cares for this city, [and I do believe he does], he better make a better case about taking back the neighborhoods and trashing the current law enforcement philosophy utilized by his majesty and very young and inexperienced police administration who capitalize on a national downturn in violent crime statistics.

Anonymous said...

"We can do it here. We do not have dumb children. We need to give them the resources.We need to be with them. We need to give the parents the resources. Every parent I met over the years - they want to do the best for their children. They love their children. They don't have the resources. We, the City and school district, need to bond to give them the resources"

Well Mr. O'Connell, if you are really going to give parents the resources, then implement a a school voucher program for the students to empower the parents with the funding to transfer their students into a school which isn't at the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps to a suburban school? Or a parochialism school, or a private one?

Otherwise Mr. O'Connell, it's just hot air from you. And the promise of increasing taxes on residents who believe that living in the city is already too expensive.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Ray O'Connell is, he is part of the problem! Everything in his "platform" for Mayor are problems that he should have addressed and fixed as a long term Councilman and as a past long term school district leader. He sits on Allentown City Council as a statue and only responds to what he is told to respond to. Allentown needs a new face as Mayor, bringing over a deadbeat from the current Council is NOT going to fix the past, current and future issues the City of Allentown faces. Understand, some of the Mayoral candidates may not all be the best to choose from, but they are all better then O'Connell. O'Connell has ignored EVERYTHING in the city thus far and only NOW wants to fix everything he turned his back on. His years of public service should be respected, however it is time he retires and let a new face run this city. The best outcome of this election, is to clear out the current city council members and mayor and vote in new people with new ideas and people who do not ignore the residents or employees of Allentown.

Anonymous said...

He had a 'rally' attended by about 30 of his biggest supporters? Don't you think that you need to attract undecided voters and not 30 people who were already going to vote for you? It's kind of like preaching to the choir don't you think? While he is a good guy and his heart is in the right place, he failed the school district as an administrator and the city as president of city Council. I've seen his interviews on the Morning Call the past few weeks about various topics and he is very general without offering any specifics.

Anonymous said...

Dennis Pearson for Mayor
Glenn Hunsicker for Dog Catcher
Don Ringer for Meter Maid
Lou Hershman for chief yuckity yuck

Anonymous said...

It is Ray all the way! Only legit choice.

Anonymous said...

Ray needs to retire from government, it's time.

Anonymous said...

Has Ray O'Connell ever worked in the private sector ?

Jeffrey Anthony said...

I'm supporting Det. Garcia, but Mr. O'Connell is a really fine man -- and a real gentleman. Allentown is lucky to have two candidates of this caliber and quality (and G-d knows we need that right about now).

It's almost a shame they can't both win...

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Everything in his "platform" for Mayor are problems that he should have addressed and fixed as a long term Councilman and as a past long term school district leader."

When O'Connell first ran for City Council in 2009, I thought he was running for school board. This was his platform then. He has consistently maintained that Allentown and the schools go hand in hand.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The anonymous attacks aimed at Ray are that he's too old, has never worked in the private sector, that he should have vouchers and that he was a Fed Ed cheerleader.

Ray is younger than Trump or Hillary Clinton and has more energy than most candidates. As for never working in the private sector, he worked as an administrator and principal and has executive experience. As fir school vouchers, there is no way a city government has anything to do with those. That is just absurd to mention here. The complaint that he was a Fed Ed cheerleader is legit and can be made against every other Democrat running, except possibly Siegel.
To me, Ray is the best of the candidates and has the best ideas. He is right. If you want to fix Allentown, it has to be at the schools and neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

You. all need to read the Home Rule Charter.
Allentown has a strong Mayor form of government.
City Council only can take him on at Budget time .Otherwise, he holds the TRUMP card.
The charter needs to be revised.

Anonymous said...

FED ED had everyone duped.
When they figure it out he is deceitful and dishonest and EVIL.
Not only O'Connell but you can go back to D'Amore, Schweyer, Schlossberg,Glazier,Guridy, Mota, Affa, and all his Department heads.
This city IS suffocating under his leadership or lack of it.
Anybody, but ED.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

" The complaint that he was a Fed Ed cheerleader is legit and can be made against every other Democrat running, except possibly Siegel."

Then there really isn't any difference between them. They're all Ed's cronies... who turned their backs on Ed once the FBI came to town. Suddenly Ed was worse as being a crab in a whorehouse. Also to the chagrin of many, where are the indictments? It's really not fair to the Mayor that he has this cloud over him of possible criminality, but he can't defend himself against what are, as of now, baseless allegations. After nearly two years.. what crimes are Pawlowski being charged with ?

For being such a criminal and scum of the earth as is alleged, it appears Mayor Pawlowski appears to be running a strong campaign with the voters.

Anonymous said...

1:48 Ms. Bennett left town after the Properties of Merit scandal. Then she associated herself with Rendell in Washington. D.C. Comparing her with Hillary Clinton is very true, as both feel this entitlement to be elected. Not because of actual qualifications, but because she's a woman.

Her vanity won't let her stop running, even after being rejected by the voters not once, but twice.

Anonymous said...

1:27 " it doesn't matter, the D's win in corrupt Allentown."

That's what happens when you have a political machine entrenched in municipal government. You get carbon copies of the same mayor, the only difference being the mayor's name. The philosophy of government however are all the same because they all come from the same well.

I like Garcia, and I believe he would be the best choice. Perhaps he has a chance, we shall see in November.

Jim Molchany said...

I agree the key to Allentowns future is to improve the school districts overall improvement. We simply have to change the school/student relationships. You can start by bringing back junior high sports to include soccer and promote votech with a return to the building trades as a focus. You can wave the flag all you want for the need for a college education but for the majority of our youth we need to be realistic with expectations especially among the middle class. I guess it boils down to thinking out side the box and their is only one candidate I know of at this time who has that as part of her playbook.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted several comments that leave huge gaps at the end. I have also deleted a few anonymous personal attacks, nit at Ray, but other candidates. There are numerous issues to discuss, and the dialogue is not helped by cheap name-calling. If you want to be a bottom-feeder like me, sign your name.

Jeffrey Anthony said...

With all due respect to Mr. O'Connell, I think he is failing to address the central issue. The problem isn't the district per se, nor is it the state of our neighborhoods per se. The problem is that the size of Allentown's dependent class has exceeded the city's ability to support it.

We need to definitively identify the attributes that make Allentown so very attractive to the parasitic class and take concrete steps to make it less so.

Any system -- whether the human body of an individual or the body politic of tens or hundreds of thousands -- can only host so many non-productive parasites before it begins to break down. We in Allentown have reached and exceeded that point.

Anonymous said...

YOU are right on the MARK.
Travel down 4th and Linden sts. at 8 a.m. .
You will see young healthy men on canes going into the Social Security office to sign up for disability.
When they leave the cane goes in the backseat.
We all are being Duped by these people.
Entitlements is right on JEFF

Anonymous said...

I suppose many Allentown voters don't remember Mayor Bartholomew. He was the first "Strong Mayor" we had after the city charter changed in 1969. Bartholomew was principal of Wiliam Allen High School for decades, and before that he was a teacher and administrator in the ASD going back to the 1920s.

Mayor Bartholomew was a good man, and given that many of the voters in Allentown had him as principal of the old Allentown High School, he won election almost by acclimation. However the issues confronting the mayor were very different than the issues confronting a school principal. He wasn't really good at being mayor and only served one term before being defeated by our first Mayor-For-Life, Joe Daddonna.

Today, nearly 50 years later, we have another former principal Ray O'Connell running for mayor. Many of the students he had at Trexler are now of voting age and remember him. The difference being that O'Connell has been on City Council for many years where Bartholomew went from the principal's office at Allen to the mayor's office at city hall directly.

Today, our second Mayor-For-Life is being challenged by another former principal, who weds the problems in the Allentown School District to the problems the municipal government faces, and you can't solve one without the other. The solution, it seems is to throw more money at the problems to make things well and good.

Well, Mr. O'Connell, you weren't my principal at Trexler (Carroll Parks was), and you've been a part of the problem at City Hall for a decade as an elected member of City Council. You've supported Mayor Pawlowski for THREE of his terms. Where were you four, or eight years ago?

Or are you simply an opportunist and believe that Mayor Pawlowski is a rat and are shocked, shocked that there may be corruption in city government? A city government you've been a part of for a decade.

Spare me the crocodile tears. And your tax increases. No thanks. If you want to really help the ASD, support school vouchers and let our children go to the best school possible; not one based on the address their parents live at.

Anonymous said...

I believe Ray was blindsided by Ed, truly. But he has also been part of the problem not the solution. He's not applying for Superintendent of Schools but Mayor. It requires way more in the way of innovative thinking than a school administator is capable of.

Anonymous said...

I think Ray would be better suited for a township manager rather than a mayor

Anonymous said...

No surprise at all the cheap shots being taken at Mr. O'Connell. People are well aware of the campaign that is attacking. They feel entitled and are lashing out as they are realizing that people do not want to vote for self-serving candidates. The real personal attacks are on Ray. No other candidate can claim any real accomplishments that are close to his life of work.

Anonymous said...


How does this square with descriptions of a deserted-after-dark Potemkin city?

Anonymous said...

Right on. Ray O'Connell is a gentleman. Everyone knows who is playing dirty politics. The Fast Eddy protégée from the limousine liberal class is playing hard an nasty.

Bernie O'Hare said...

6:23, your comment is completely off topic.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, how can you even let some of the names be put to print on your blog, I know your a bottom feeding blogger but some of them names are on a lower level than whale shit could sink! You being who and what you are are way far above that shit as we all float above those floaters yet to be treated and sent down river.

King Allentown the legend / icon / full time sex machine said...

Don't be scared to vote for KING ALLENTOWN (or hook him up with your wife) the STRONGEST candidate, ever!!!