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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Allentown Divided

Mayor O'Connell at summer hoops
There's a Facebook page optimistically called "Let's Build the New Allentown Together." But based on what I've seen in recent days, many residents in this one-party town are ripping each other to shreds. Hyenas and jackals are fighting over the carcass of what is now Dead Ed, each of them convinced that their candidate, and only their candidate, is capable of running the city. It's actually quite ugly. It also ignores the fact that four members of Council have voted to appoint Ray O'Connell as Mayor.

People need to give him a chance.

These sour grapes come from various of the candidates who failed to get four votes. Here are the arguments: (1) Council failed to follow the Home Rule Charter in appointing Ray O'Connell; (2) The vote for Ray O'Connell was fixed; (3) Council violated the Pa Constitution by allowing convicted felon Hasshan Batts to interview for the Mayoral position; (4) Council is bigoted because it refused to appoint Hasshan Batts or Cheryl Johnson Watts, two persons of color; (5) Cynthia Mota violated the Ethics Act by casting meaningless sympathy votes for her boss, and needs to resign. Let's review each of these claims.

(1) Council failed to follow the Home Rule Charter in appointing Ray O'Connell. - The Charlie Thiel faction has claimed, wrongly, that Council failed to follow a Home Rule Charter provision that really has no application to appointments to elected positions. It bars elected officials from "any compensated appointive city office or city employment" until one year has elapsed after that person leaves office. This is designed to prevent cronyism, in which a Mayor rewards someone who supported him with a high-paying cabinet job, which is a Mayoral appointment, or other employment for the City. The Charter fails to define city employment. If a Mayor is a city employee, he should be able to get sick and vacation pay. In fact, former Mayor Joe Daddona tried to do just that, but was shot down by Controller Lou Hershman. A Mayor or Council member is considered a city employee for tax witholding purposes, but that's about it. You can't fire an elected official for failing to show up for work. You can't even fire him if he's indicted.

Under the interpretation urged by the Thiel faction, no Council member could ever seek re-election. After all, that's "city employment." So if Courtney Robinson, Candida Affa and Roger MacLean really believe that their elected office is city employment, I expect them to announce that they will not be seeking reelection.

Don't hold your breath.

The provision in the Charter is there, and in several places, to keep an elected official from serving in a dual role as a cabinet official or city employee. Thus, the Mayor is prohibited from working in the parks department. A Council member is unable to serve as a firefighter. But there is nothing improper about appointing a recently retired Council member to the Mayor's office.

(2) The vote for Ray O'Connell was fixed. - Charlie Thiel, Nat Hyman and Ray O'Connell will all tell you that, at some point in this process, they were told they had four votes. Every one of them lobbied Council members. That is completely permissible, so long as you are not lobbying four members at the same time. I believed Ray had four votes and that Thiel had three. I said as much on this blog. But I also cautioned that in politics and jury trials, you never know what is going to happen. At one point last week, Ray was concerned that he would be denied an interview. And as the ballots were cast on Thursday night, he looked far from comfortable.

(3) Council violated the Pa Constitution by allowing convicted felon Hasshan Batts to interview for the Mayoral position. - Ironically, this argument is coming from the Allentown NAACP and Cheryl Watts Johnson. Pennsylvania's Constitution does bar a person convicted of an "infamous crime" from holding elected office. Batts has a few felony convictions in addition to his Master's and Doctoral degrees. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that felonies are considered infamous enough to bar someone from holding office. But nothing in the state constitution prevents Council from listening. And in York, a person with felony convictions was elected Mayor.

Now the NAACP is a nonprofit. It pays no taxes. It can sponsor debates and speak out on issues. But when it takes sides in partisan politics, it is violating its tax exempt status. Barbara Redmond, on the NAACP Facebook page, slammed City Council for interviewing a black man because she thought Council should appoint a black woman.
The Allentown NAACP is disappointed that the Allentown City Council is still playing the good old boy system. Last night’s selection of the interim mayor was living proof. City Council knew that accepting an application, from an African-American candidate who was not qualified to run, yet, they allowed his candidacy to move forward, pitting him against a highly qualified civically [sic] involved African-American woman.
So the NAACP nails Council for failing to adhere to the state constitution, but thinks it can violate and IRS prohibition on partisan political activity. In fact, tonight it is hosting a black Congressional candidate at a hip hop forum but has excluded the others.

(4) Council is bigoted because it refused to appoint Hasshan Batts or Cheryl Johnson Watts, two persons of color. - A local artist claims those who failed to support Batts are "old white men" who detest "people of color. ... [G]o back to your miserable lives calling Mota (a Latina) and Batts the n-word and complaining that they don’t know their place (and how hard it is for a white man today to get a good job cause all the minorities are taking over) from your recliner in front of the television."

Without question, prejudice is alive and well in Allentown and the entire Lehigh Valley. But it's a two-way street. Those who lash out at people because of their white color and age are just as bigoted as the usual remarks we hear about Latinos and blacks..

Batts really moved me when he spoke to Council, but it was bullshit. He claimed that he was empowered by going out and getting an education. The fact is that he already had a master's degree and was working in human services and with children when he was picked up as a drug kingpin, in 2007, with five kilos of cocaine, 50 pounds of marijuana, six guns and $50,000 in cash. To think Council would appoint someone with felony convictions to replace someone with felony convictions is borderline lunacy, no matter what his color might be. In fact, I have serious reservations about whether he belongs in the nonprofit in which he is involved now.

As for Cheryl Johnson Watts, she was doomed the moment Lisa Pawlowski showed up to support her.

(5) Cynthia Mota violated the Ethics Act by casting meaningless sympathy votes for her boss, and needs to resign. - Mota voted for Batts 11 times before switching her vote to Ray. It was unknown at the time that she worked for him, a fact that was only revealed yesterday by blogger Michael Molovinsky. This is something she should have disclosed. Contrary to what is reported in The Morning Call, this is an arguable Ethics Act violation because she was voting on a matter in which she has a financial interest. If her boss was named Mayor, she would move up in the food chain. But her vote was symbolic. She was making the point that people deserve second chances. She ultimately switched her vote to Ray, which is actually against her financial interest. While I think she lacked transparency and insulted Allentown by failing to make her employment status clear, I don't think a complaint would go very far.

If people are really interested in seeing Allentown move forward, it is time for everyone to work together and stop being so angry.

You are all beginning to sound like me.

In basketball, I've noticed that high school kids pay no attention to color and try to help each other out, even if they are on different teams.

I am beginning to wonder who the children really are.

68 comments:

Trumpster said...

It's time move on. There is an election starting in about a year with the primary to either elect O'Connell or replace him. Then perhaps this entire Pawlowski mess will end.

Anonymous said...

The next thing is should the Monument be taken down because there are no people of color on it?

Anonymous said...

Allentown is the LV cesspool of corruption sadly.

Anonymous said...

Will Courtney Jaindl-Robinson run for Mayor?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mota, despite her answer on the Batts' issue, should have recused herself on any vote involving Batts. However, her defiance and ignorance of political propriety does not bode well for the citizens of Allentown. I doubt if she can spell "conflict of interest", yet alone know what it is. The uninformed citizens of Allentown voted her in, so that is what you get! "Fed Ed" was not the only unholy politician in the city, the paid for by the "Friends of Ed Pawlowski", Ms. Mota, illustrates the need to eliminate all vestiges of "Slick Eddie".

Anonymous said...

I would like to address your #5 and how you said "It was unknown at the time that she worked for him, a fact that was only revealed yesterday by blogger Michael Molovinsky." On your blog post from Friday, March 30, 2018 titled "Ray O'Connell Gets Mayoral Appointment on 12th Ballot" there was a comment posted at 9:04 AM that said:

+++++

look up "Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley" on Facebook

when searching look at recent posts and photos and then go back a little more or include "Mota" in the search

you will then see why Mota voted for Batts 11 times

+++++

Mr. Molovinsky did not reveal the information yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I, too, recalled the comment from March 30th regarding the Promise Facebook page. I had looked at the page, and although I saw Mota featured there, it didn't "click" that she was employed there. So, now I'm taking a further look, and I see that on 3/12, they posted a pic of Cynthia Mota and a bunch of kids at the now infamous concert at PPL called, "Spring Break Take Over."

The post reads, "We brought 24 kids from the Allentown Promise Neighborhood to the concert for a fun night out

Big thanks to ANIZDA and City Center Allentown for sponsoring the tickets in their box. It was first class all the way and our kids loved it!"

ANIZDA makes charitable donations? I didn't know that. What other charities are they donating to? I have no problem with showing the kids a good time, but it seems to me a personal donation from the executive director of ANIZDA (who makes more than the mayor, by far) would be more appropriate than a donation from the actual ANIZDA entity.

And, although it makes sense, I didn't realize ANIZDA had a box of their own for all PPL events.

Then I see on 3/5, "Cynthia and the team" met with someone from the Governor's office to "discuss connecting us with various state resources that can help us do our community work for Allentown and its residents." Isn't that nice? Was she representing the city as a councilwoman then, or was she representing Promise? It's not clear.

A 2/29 post is where Mota is directly named as the new PNLV Community Manager (and she is pictured standing next to Isamel Arcelay, Special Assistant to the Mayor of Allentown, along with Batts and Rigo Peralta, who direct the organziation.) So, that post is where the "proof" is that Mota works for Batts. It would seem, then, that the commentor from here on March 30th was the original source for this information. It was hiding in plain sight.

Charlie Sch said...

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant." It is inexcusable that Mota did not publicly reveal her employment before the vote, at a public meeting.

Those previous facebook posts would have caused me to believe that she was an unpaid boardmember of Promise Neighborhoods, not an employee making over $40K a year.

Anonymous said...

Hold on to your hats, more will be revealed concerning all the players discussed above.
It’s going to get really strange and more that a bit salacious.
It’s the City Without Limits.

Anonymous said...

Be careful criticizing Mota. Her minions will come after you calling you a racist and all the other slurs they use against anyone who speaks ill of her

michael molovinsky said...

anon@8:13 AM, you're correct that it was there on the Promise facebook page, but the reality is that the page is so obscure that we who concern ourselves with local politics never saw it. there certainly were local democrats aware of Mota's employment, such as Dan Poresky. However, they chose to keep it their secret. from the timeline yesterday, I have no doubt that the morning call did indeed learn about it from my blog.

Anonymous said...

allentown can't move on with corrupt council and the political mayor--these people must be put out of power--they will change everything that does not suit their agenda. look at how they operated in past few years the only way is to get rid of all of them and start over...

Anonymous said...

Bernie's blog had a commenter here on March 30th indicating that the relationship was made clear on this FB page, and although it takes a good while to read through everything, finding the post in question (which is not obscure at all) is pretty straightforward. Dated February 28, the FB post says "Pictured here are Cynthia Mota the new #PNLV Community Manager, Isamel Arcelay, Special Assistant to the Mayor of Allentown, Rigo Peralta, and Dr. Hasshan Batts, Director of Operations for PNLV."

Maybe the Call should credit the anonymous commentor for breaking the story. Credit where credit is due, right?

Whethervain said...

“It was hiding in plain sight” Anon @ 8:53 AM

Yes it was! This remark is so on target!

That’s why I (we?) love MM - and BOH too - so much. Their political 20-20 radar is constantly focused on the factors that render meaningful insight or revelations (”informed commentary”) that a lot of us politically nearsighted folks aren’t agnized of.

Not all of us can invest the time necessary to track the goings-on of our government.

Anonymous said...

In fact, tonight it is hosting a black Congressional candidate at a hip hop forum but has excluded the others.

The NAACP hosting a black congressional candidate is no different than the constant mention of an Emily's List endorsement. As if they would be backing anyone else.

I'd love to hear what opinions either of those groups have of dear John. Better yet, I'd love to see him at a Hip Hop forum.

Anonymous said...

There are unaddress ethical issues in play here.
Concider the details and legalitys of Mota’s business.
What is the extent of the professional, personal and intimate relationships of the parties involved as it relates to matters of public trust and transparency.
Toss in the creation of counterfeit art, and religious organizations engaged in politics on an ongoing basis.
Consider prominent bloggers and others publicly accused of using the ugliest sort of racial slurs?
Consider a City “Ethics Board” appointed by the multiple felon, Ed Pawlowski.
Some on that board are “personal family friends” of the disgraced mayor and his wife, the former First Lady of Allentown.
What is being exposed is the tip of a rather large iceberg.

Anonymous said...

Sex. Lies. Love. Racism. Art. Accusations. Ethics. Prison, power, patronage, politics and money.
Who is bringing the chips and Bud-Lite?

michael molovinsky said...

UPDATE APRIL 3, 10:45 AM. I have been assured by the Morning Call reporter, despite the timeline, that her report was derived completely independently of mine.

Anonymous said...

@Michael Molovinsky on April 3, 2018 at 11:01 AM

Thank you for the update. Is that a form of apology?

Anonymous said...

The primary issue is not now, nor has it ever been, the choice between candidates Tweedledee or Tweedledum, or the People’s Choice candidate, now back from the federal penitentiary.
The issue is the collapse of the civic and political structure of the third largest municipality in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, incapacited by mistrust, incompetence and pervasive corruption across the broad scope of city goverment.

Trumpster said...

@9:30 Then VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS to clear the corruption out of City Hall

Anonymous said...

The canvas upon which all 5 points are painted, is that Ray was part of the council that allowed Pawlowski to run amok, thus failing Allentown's citizens. An argument can certainly be made that voters knew what they were doing when the continued to elect a repulsive criminal and a compliant rubber stamp council. But Allentown needed a full purge and Ray is really more of the same, without any felony convictions. I want to believe it's a new day in Allentown. But it doesn't look or feel very new at all.

Anonymous said...

Mota is a representative of the INTERSECTIONAL Blue politician.
My only regret is that’s she not running for Congress.

None of this would be happening if the old white inherently racist men watching TV on their couches just rolled over and died already.
BLUE WAVE

Bernie O'Hare said...

I forget to mention the Rs who just smear everyone, like 11:45. That's bc there are so few of them in A-town.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Smilin’ Charlie Thiel and the Mann mob represents a “new day” is a cruel joke.

Anonymous said...

I am curious if Dr. Batts has a degree in the human services field that allows for him to be licensed such as licensed social worker. How could someone be hired in his field with such felony convictions. This is not a 17 or 18 y/o punk with no education getting caught up in drugs. Dr. Batts did some serious sh...t and not that long ago. Sounds like a sociopath that is just getting more clever. Amazing how much money and in-kind benefits (the ones that never show up on a tax return) can be obtained when involved with the "non-profits." Meanwhile good hearted folks both rich and poor give money hoping to help the less fortunate. The former mayor was permitted to reign with full knowledge of most of the cast of characters still in government. And if they didn't know, then they are too impaired to continue to service. Wish the former mayor would write a book. It might be self-serving but it sure would make a lot of folks sweat in Allentown and beyond.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"her defiance and ignorance of political propriety"

What the hell is that? She was nontransparent.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Mr. Molovinsky did not reveal the information yesterday."

Yeah, he did. Your comment was cryptic and anonymous. If you want to say something, say it. If you want to be taken seriously, you should ID yourself. I looked at the Facebook page but not long enough bc you never bothered to indicate what your point was.

michael molovinsky said...

anon@11:12, it is not an apology. in news parlance, i still broke the story. the reporter told me that she had also heard about Mota's job, but had not yet confirmed it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Be careful criticizing Mota. Her minions will come after you calling you a racist and all the other slurs they use against anyone who speaks ill of her"

That's bc many of you are, in fact, racist. I see it in the comments here all the time.

Anonymous said...

Mota is a incompetent, dull witted hack, taking up a seat on city council while she runs an unethical business.
Mota’s gender or ethnicity isn’t an issue any more than it is for Fleck and Pawlowski, the criminals who placed Mota on council.
The situation is bad enough without the faux race baiting.

Anonymous said...

The Allentown Ethics Commission?
The Allentown Ethics Commission appointed by Mayor Edwin Pawlowski?
That Allentown Ethics Commission?

Anonymous said...

Fleck and Pawlowski are white men.
Someone should look into the gender and ethnicity of this Molovinsky character.
Something is amiss here.

Anonymous said...

O’Hare and Ray are both Finians.
Am I the only one uncomfortable with this?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Apparently.

Anonymous said...

So five City Councilpersons, two Dominicans and three cops, walk into a bar.........

Anonymous said...

The Thiel contracts, the Mann cabal, Promise Neighborhoods of Allentown, the Doctor Batts posse, the NAACP/Lisa Pawlowski connection and assorted City Department managers who have as yet escaped indictment, are all about to be subject to a new level of scrutiny that will be quite revealing indeed.
Let the good times roll.
Let’s see who breakes which story.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted an OT comment about the Congressional race that includes links to a closed F/B page of which I am not a member.

Anonymous said...

If a guy makes art for a gal because she, well just because, and the gal puts her name on the art, is she still an “artist”?
In a small community there aren’t many secrets, not for long, anyhow.

Anonymous said...

the point guard will straighten out the whole situation.

Anonymous said...

It’s a bright new day dawning in Allentown.
LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The Pawlowski/O'Connell wing of the Party still rules Allentown.

Anonymous said...

corrupt council- to say the least mayor not the peoples choice-but the corrupt council choice

Anonymous said...

Cheryl Johnson Watts will never have a political careen free of taint in Allentown as long as anyone remembers the names Lisa and Edwin Pawlowski.
Shame on Ms. Watts.

Anonymous said...

Bernie ray was a very good choice to run the city but i hope he goes outside for chief cause none of the good old boys could run the police department they are idiots there noiw trying to run police department

Anonymous said...

Dat in the picture with Ray ?.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yep. Ray is a frequent visitor to summer basketball. He is great with the kids, but his heart is with Allen.

Anonymous said...

If you live in Allentown,move.
If you have investments in Allentown,sell.
If you’re looking to invest,look elsewhere.
It doesn’t bottom out anytime soon.

george schaller said...

When is the triplets back midway showing going to start at the great Allentown hospital circus? Steer clear of it with your children as they could see an actor that's a role model in fed eds collectivity, not to mention mommas cigar supriZe!
republican redd
not a party favor

Anonymous said...

The APD is rudderless, in spite of the fact that three retired APD officers are on council.
The entire governmental structure is in disarray.

Chris Casey said...

Ray is a good person, but I honestly do not have high expectations of him as mayor. That is just my opinion. As for Mota, she was originally recruited for Council office as a bobblehead by team ED a few years back. To quote the Don Henley song Dirty Laundry, "She just has to look good, she don't have to be clear." Ed had to remind her who she served back during the Delta Thermal vote, and more or less she followed script. But now she has no script, so she went off the rails with Batts. Honestly, during her time in office, pretty much the only way to describe her is incompetent and/or disinterested. I think many people agree with me that it is, and for a long time, will be very hard, to have any trust in Allentown's elected officials. Their actions as a whole do not inspire confidence.

pathfinder said...

Bernie, This is a very informative article. I agree with most of it. The "Mann mob" was taught a lesson in this vote. "Do nothing" MacLean knew of Thiel's involvement with Pawlowski's pay to play schemes. But then one has to remember that Jen Mann supported him in his run for City Council after he switched from being a lifetime Republican to a Democrat to improve his chances of being elected. Candida and Cynthia Mota were supported in their elections by the now "Dead Ed" (I like that new name). Anyone who has followed politics in this city always knew that L'il Courtney is simply Mann's latest puppet. He followed Mann proteges Schlossberg and Schweyer around like a lost puppy. Still does.

Ray is going to have a very tough time in office. He not only has to select a new police chief, but also rebuild the command staff of the police department. I agree that he will have to go outside the department for a new chief. However he should choose from someone local, not national. Both of our experiences with national selections, Kuhn & Fitzgerald were unmitigated disasters. In addition to that he has to rebuild the senior city staff. At least there, in some cases, there still remain some capable people that can be promoted from within. The next couple of months are going to be very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Ray must hire the most qualified APD chief he can identify.
All this angst about local vs regional is provincial bullshit.

Anonymous said...

some of you people are putting your trust in the council elected mayor and this council---i have a bridge to sell...

Anonymous said...

Ray inherits Department Heads who are criminals.

Anonymous said...

if o'connell is any good ---fire them

Anonymous said...

Give Ray a chance to make a change ! .Whoever is in charge needs to assign more Cops to walk the beat.

Anonymous said...

More cops to walk the beat equals more inside information going outside the apd.

Anonymous said...

Every member of every city board or commission appointed by the corrupt, criminal Mayor must go, every single last one.
All of them. DRAIN THE SWAMP, RAY!

Anonymous said...

Agree ! ,when is Fed Ed sentected ?..

Anonymous said...

Where have all the Pawlowski defenders gone?
WTF???

Anonymous said...

Pawlowski drove the City of Allentown into the shitter.
I trust whoever is doing his PSR is following this blog.

Anonymous said...

Atown deserves their fate. Gonna take a lot of time and effort to undo all the damage the sheep..electorate..gave their consent to. Patience and a sense of service have to be the motto of those left standing. Ed is dead! Long live the new king!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but O'Connell is nothing but a continuation of Pawlowski.

Ray ran a "sore loser" campaign so he could take the decision out of the hands of the voters and put it into the hands of his cronies on council. That's quite Pawlowski-esque.

Allentown needed someone to put the city first, and O'Connell couldn't see past his own ambition.

Yes, I know Ray SAID he was against Pawlowski once the FBI came in and everyone else turned against FedEd, but where's the change? Is Ray going to reverse one of the many tax increases Pawlowski had passed (with Ray's votes)? Is he going to sweep out City Hall? Is he going to cut spending in the latest of the many budgets that he blindly passed each year? Is he going to eliminate the Managing Director position so that he and future mayors actually have to work at the job they were elected to do? It sure doesn't seem like it.

The guy's been running for the office for over two years, has an insider knowledge of City Hall, and still hasn't announced one major reform? There's not one thing he wanted to change on Day 1? How about changing the Mayor's unlimited power on zoning? How about a simple Charter reform requiring elected officials to resign before running for non-city offices? There are hundreds of improvements to be made, but you have to want to make them.

I'm sure he'll put forth one or two minor proposals next year, when the election is upon us and he wants to make it appear as if he's doing something.

Once a rubber-stamping crony, always a rubber-stamping crony. NOT MY MAYOR. Can't wait to vote him out.

Anonymous said...

10.02 pm--- is 100 percent correct....

Anonymous said...

can't wait to vote him---for the third time twice before the voters rejected him only to be put in office by his buddies on council

Anonymous said...

The Mann Mob is patiently circling Allentown like vultures over a road kill.
Smart move by them to let Ray take the heat while they play the long game.
Very smart.
No wonder Thiel couldn’t get that shit eating grin off his face.

Anonymous said...

Item 5.G. On the ANIZDA Board Meeting Agenda for April 4, 2018 is interesting.....

Amendment to ByLaws