“All Lives Matter” is the “Dammit, Otto, You Have Lupus” of Political Discourse

all lives do matter, of course they do. but saying that in response to “black lives matter” is, as I’ve heard someone say, like treating breast cancer or lung cancer by saying “all cancers matter.” The systematic murder of black people in this country must be stopped, and so attention must be called to it. our systems don’t flesh out as though black lives matter at all, and so we have to say it. saying it is, in itself, so scandalous, apparently, that it’s an act of subversion. Jesus would say it.



Wolf/GOP Brokered Tax Hike Sucks, Especially for Schools and Working People In Allentown

I’m just going to say it. The sales tax is already regressive. Now 1.5% more so. Meanwhile, the NIZ prints money for people who are already rich. JB Rielly and my homeless friends or the single parent working two jobs are all paying the same sales tax on goods…7.5 cents on the dollar for Mr. Rielly is not the same as 7.5 cents on the dollar for others. Add the fact that he is making buckets of cash on projects that are subsidized by PA tax payers at 80 cents on the dollar, not to mention the cigarette loophole. Add to that the $2.3 million the NIZ took from Allentown taxes in 2014, the $330,000 the NIZ took from Allentown School District taxes in 2014, the coming water rate hike, capital improvements, and, now, a possibly illegal EIT hike. Damn.

Ed Pawlowski bought land we didn’t need and can’t use any time soon and paid for it with money from the lease of our water and sewers to the Lehigh County Authority.  $1.5 million. Allentown residents will start paying for LCA’s capital improvements this year, in addition to a 2.5 percent raise in rates.

The Allentown School District has no money.

There’s no comprehensive affordable housing plan in Allentown, even as we read all about how great the Strata flats are.

What am I missing?  Please, please tell me.

UPDATE: Here are some things I missed:

  • Allentown’s EIT hike, even if legal, is also regressive. It’s basically a way to engineer the first half of gentrification (getting poor people to move).
  • The fact that the GOP in the State legislature are on board with a sales tax hike doesn’t do wonders for the charge that they don’t care about overtaxing the middle class.

Allentown Budget a Reflection of FBI’s Ongoing Investigation

Ed Pawlowski’s new budget calls for a tax hike (specifically, an EIT increase), needed, in part, to pay for police as federal funding runs out.  It also borrows a cool $4,5 million from the Solid Waste Fund. It daren’t raise property taxes. But what about next year?

A few other thoughts:

The EIT increase raises revenue by $5.5 million.  Remember that number.

Extra police are being hired for the arena zone not out of need or threat, but to assuage suburban fears.  Why can’t we use some of the money from the water deal for that?

Because Ed Pawlowski spent the $5 million we had left over, and $1.4 million of that $5 million on literally toxic land to help his best frenemy, Abe Atiyeh, free up cash for another deal.  That deal is, by all indications, part of the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Pawlowski and people he did business with.

This tax hike comes as Allentown residents also prepare for a 2.5 percent hike in water bills from LCA (to whom Pawlowski famously and contentiously leased Allentown’s water and sewer systems) and unspecified charges for LCA capital improvements.

Allentown needs to turn the page.  Write-in Rich Fegley and Shane Fillman for Allentown City Council. Vote for Steven Ramos for Allentown City Controller.  Restore real checks and balances to the City Without Limits.

Be sure to read Emily Opilo’s piece about all of this in The Morning Call.

Steven Ramos Responds

Steven Ramos for Allentown Controller

Steven Ramos for Allentown Controller

There are a few people on the local blogs who leave anonymous comments criticizing current Allentown Controller Mary Ellen Koval as a way of saying something negative about her opponent, Steven Ramos.  Koval is the clean-up hitter on Team Pawlowski.

Steven Ramos has responded on Michael Molovinsky’s bog:

My resume is available at http://www.stevenramos.com. Over the last 15 years I’ve been trusted to set up and manage networks, maintain data security for employers and clients, and manage people and clients assigned to me. I am depended upon to ensure that reports are developed and submitted to various agencies and vendors to be in compliance with federal and state regulations.

Outside of my direct responsibilities, when other aspects of our network have issues I am called upon to find the solutions.

Having the confidence and support of others is not new – from being a leader in every church I have attended to being a contributing member on several Allentown associations; from being a founding member of the police community team in West Chester, PA, to working for various campaigns as a paid member of the team and volunteer; to my days in the army leading, encouraging, and training other soldiers.

The challenge of our controller’s office today is ensuring its independence, doing the work of auditing our agencies and departments, and making those audits available to the public.

This year alone, we’ve had several issues that demanded audits. None were done. Our current controller has demonstrated she is unable to be independent of the administration and is not curious to know why we are losing money, why we don’t know what projects are costing us, and why we may need a tax increase in 2016.

I hope for all of your support and that when weighing my candidacy, my resume, and public statements, that you use the same measure used when weighing other candidates.

See you on Tuesday.


Well-done, Steven.


Allentown Tax Hike Confirmed

Bernie O’Hare has a run-down of the looming Allentown tax hike.  Details won’t likely be known until after next Tuesday’s election.

By law, the budget must be presented to Allentown City Council by Monday.  Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, currently led by Jeff Glazier (up for election on Tuesday) typically, but not always, meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month.  They did not convene last night.  Watchdogs hoping to see a budget before the election are crying foul.  According to Mr. O’Hare, Councilman Julio Guridy has confirmed a tax hike is imminent, but doesn’t know specifics.

It’s worth noting that Lou Hershman, former Council member, former Controller, consistent fiscal watchdog and current Council candidate, was apparently planning to attending the Budget and Finance meeting that didn’t happen.  Here are his words to Mr. O’Hare:

“It’s bad enough that seniors on fixed incomes and the working poor are going to have to pay for the City’s fiscal irresponsibility, but keeping this important information from the public is no better than a burglar who sneaks into your home in the dead of night. Burglars get prosecuted, but it’s too bad there’s no penalty for politicians who steal elections.”

Even with the Pawlowski PAC disabled and its candidates raising pennies over the last few months, the money grab in the run-up to the spring primary, which failed to protect Joe Davis, looms large in Tuesday’s election.  Many city activists are suspicious of the coming budget’s timing.  If delivered to Council by Monday as required by the City’s Home Rule Charter, when will the public see the budget and, importantly, the tax hike?  Before or after the election?  The first November council meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 4, one day after we go to the polls.

Allentown, the dog and pony shows continue.  If you want some restraint brought back to Allentown government sooner rather than later, that is, before the FBI finishes its work, vote for change and reform on Tuesday.  Write in Rich Fegley and Shane Fillman for Council.  This has to stop somewhere, and it has to start with us.

November Surprise?

City Council candidate Lou Hershman was one of the first to report today that the City’s Finance Committee, led by Jeff Glazier, is cancelling its meeting tonight.  If true, that means we won’t be seeing a budget this week.  That means we won’t be seeing a budget until AFTER the election next week.

Just saying.

The rumblings of a tax hike are getting louder.

Saying No to the Pawlowski Method

I’ve been thinking about the implications of the WFMZ story that puts a firm’s name and face to what seem to be the same sweeps for listening devices at City Hall as those described by the FBI.

I’ve been thinking about what needs to happen if we’re going to create a new Allentown, a new tone, a new way of doing things out in the open and for the community.

I’ve been thinking about what the City Council meeting one day after the upcoming election will bring, and I’ve been thinking that regardless of who remains on the dais, we all have some serious work to do.  I hope the folks who ran in the spring with Ed Pawlowski’s PAC are upset politically, not because I have anything against them personally (I don’t), but because of the choice to so closely align with him in the first place.  Yes, these decisions were made before the FBI raid.  But one of the things I have railed against as an activist in Allentown is what I’ll call “the Pawlowski Method.”  Triangulation. Alienation.  Poker games as policy meetings.  Seeking to control City Council through campaign donations, through access, maybe, to Democratic king makers.  Lashing out at even the most mild forms of constructive criticism.  Lashing out at the audacity some citizens have to even ask questions. Even while employed in legal ways, the method makes for bad government and bad feelings.  It also lays the groundwork for what the FBI thinks is here.

Emily Opilo has a piece in today’s Morning Call showing that PAC candidates who were bringing in thousands of dollars int he primaries have raised only hundreds of dollars for the general election.  With under a week to go to the election, Allentown voters have real choices.  Elect PAC candidates or don’t.  Given Candida Affa’s recent talk of “what the mayor needs now is more support,” she should already be disqualified from your list.

A month or so ago I asked the PAC candidates at Council to yank their PAC yard signs and pay for new ones.  I understand now why that hasn’t happened.  There’s no money to do it.

Don’t vote for the Mayor’s former PAC-mates, Jeff Glazier and Candida Affa. Write in Rich Fegley. You only need to read Emily Opilo’s twitter accounts of City Council meetings to understand why.  You only need to meet him once, and not even over one of his excellent beers at one of his amazing brew pubs to understand why.  Write in Shane Fillman, well-known and respected leader in Old Allentown who has pledged to be a watchdog for Allentown’s citizens.   These men will vote their conscience and uphold their commitment to reform Allentown.

For School Board, I endorse Ce-Ce Gerlach without reservation.  I’ll probably also vote for Bob Smith, simply for the gumption he showed in going public with the Mayor’s moves to charge the ASD for police.  Had the Mayor not employed the patented Pawlowski Method, I might feel otherwise.  Among the other candidates are two from the former PAC who, but for their alignment with it, would have had my support.  I am not an “if you’re not for us you’re against us” kind of person, but I feel very strongly about the negative impact Citizens For a Better Allentown, the official name of the Pawlowski PAC, has already had on our politics.  It was the codified extension of the Pawlowski Method, and it sought to lock up his control over City Council and the School Board, netting less democracy, less dissension, less conversation, fewer alternatives, and, finally, fewer solutionsThe Pawlowski Method sold our water.  It sold our air.  It sold our land and sold out our community.  While developers stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars on 8 public dimes for every 2 these barons “risk,”  there’s still no Community Benefits Agreement, no real plan for improving the actual neighborhoods that make up the so-called Neighborhood Improvement Zone. The Allentown School District is still broke, and this Mayor wants to charge it for School Resource Officers even while he tries to pick the School Board’s newest members.

What about the urban renaissance downtown?  Empty storefronts.  Phony brands. Massive corporate welfare.