Sensible, reasonable gun control: you know you think about it

It’s Valentine’s Day – yes.

Boo! It’s also the anniversary of the Parkland shooting – it’s been a year? Seriously?

New York Times articles:

“Parkland’s Day of Remembrance: Moments of Silence, Reflection and Grief”

“Parkland: A Year After the School Shooting That Was Supposed to Change Everything”

“Parkland Shooting; Where gun control and school safety stand today”

Yay! It’s also one day after the House Judiciary Committee passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 by a vote of 23-15 and H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 by a vote of 21-14.

You know you’ve been thinking about the need for sensible, reasonable gun control.

Like background checks.

Gadfly joined some people not just thinking but doing something about it during the noon hour today.

A demonstration/march/rally organized by CeaseFirePA that started at Broad and Main, hiked to Senator Boscola’s office at Broad and New, then downhill to City Hall.

Ok, so you weren’t there, but Gadfly is here to help you join in vicariously (good SAT word):

Warm up, shake it loose, feel the vibes

Now march uphill to Boscola’s, stretch it out, I dare you not to chant
“Whadda we want? Background checks! When d’we want ‘em? Now!”

Stop for breath at Boscola’s house, listen to our message, Barbara was one of the 004conveyers of our message to the Boss Lady – Go Barbara!

Head south to City Hall, keep your eyes from drifting to the pizza shop, downhill,  stronger of voice
“Remember Parkland!”

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Sharon was a little bit out of control, we were thinking of confiscating her shaker, Whoa, Sharon, whoa!

Look at those two at the window calmly, warmly eating their lunch — the nerve!

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Let loose at City Hall, no holding back now, full roar!
“Death is not the price of freedom”
“We got the kids’ backs, they got ours”
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough”
“We want action”

068

Hear that Washington!
WE WANT ACTION!

Thanks to LEPOCO for alerting me to this event.

Callahan: proposal regarding equal pay for women

“We are not in the 50s and 60s where the guy is the breadwinner.”

“If a woman is doing the same job as a man,
she should be paid the same amount of money.”

Bryan Callahan

CM Callahan has initiated the process to introduce an ordinance banning employers BCallahanfrom asking questions about previous salary for the purpose of reducing racial and  gender salary inequality.

Hear him describe the ordinance and the rationale in a brief presentation at the monthly meeting of the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee this week:

See also: Nicole Radzievich, “Councilman Bryan Callahan wants to stop Bethlehem businesses from asking job applicants this question.” Morning Call, January 31, 2019.

“Looking to close the pay gap between men and women, Bethlehem City Councilman Bryan Callahan on Thursday called for a wage equality ordinance that contains a provision struck down in federal court.”

“The proposed ordinance would require employers in the city to compensate workers based on job function and experience, rather than what the applicant made at a previous job. Those who do business in the city would be banned from asking an applicant that question, he said at a news conference.”

“The rationale is that basing new salaries on past salaries perpetuates any racial and gender inequities. Women in Pennsylvania are paid 79 cents for every dollar a man makes. . . . The court ruled employers can be prohibited from basing compensation on previous salary, but it was a violation of the First Amendment to stop them from asking the question.”

“Bethlehem would be subjected to that ruling — at least under current case law — because it falls within the same federal court jurisdiction as Philadelphia, [Callahan] said. The ruling has been appealed to the U. S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, a level below the U.S. Supreme Court. In recent years Bethlehem City Council passed ordinances of questionable enforceability in order to send a policy message to higher levels of government.”

“Mayor Robert Donchez said he supports pay equality but wants to review Callahan’s proposal before taking a position on it. In Bethlehem, a job application posted on the city’s website asks its prospective employees for starting and ending salary at previous jobs. But Donchez said Thursday the city plans to remove that question from applications.”

“Callahan said he expects to review the details of the proposal in committee and would look for guidance from counsel about penalties and how it would work.”

“I found [H.D.’s poetry] totally, totally intoxicating” (3)

(3rd in a series of posts on H.D.)

“H.D.’s poetry said to me that we could bring patriarchal dominance to an end,
it was a poetry that insisted that we could bring war to an end.”
Seth Moglen

Finding H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

The next event is “H.D.’s Moravian Roots in Bethlehem” by Moravian’s Craig Atwood, February 26, 6:30-8 at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Here is the third slice of Prof Seth Moglen’s January 30 “How I Fell in Love with H.D.” lecture at the BAPL in the FINDING H.D. series.

Seth recounts his personal discovery of H.D. in college as a 19-yr.-old in 1983, how her work speaks to perpetual cycles of intergender and international war, and how she has influenced his own scholarly work.

You need to hear Seth’s personal account in his own words, but here’s a taste of what you will find:

“I picked up this book Trilogy, and I started to read it, and it was like doing drugs, I just couldn’t believe it, that a human being had written this. The musicality of the verse was so immediately powerful.”

“This feeling of the bottom opening up and this . . . sense of both a beauty and a mysteriousness about the poetry that I found totally, totally intoxicating.”

“H.D. felt that she had to get to the heart of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and Greek mythology and the Roman mythological tradition in order to explain how it could 030be that these extraordinarily gifted women that she had grown up with had been deprived of the opportunity to lead the full lives of the kind that her male relatives had.”

“H.D. is deeply concerned with misogyny . . . which is to say male fear and aggression towards women. H.D. was convinced that you could stop this, that it could be confronted, and overcome.”

“What is it in men that produced this fear, and how might we create a culture in which men could change.”

“H.D. was worried about war and absolutely committed that the scourge of modern warfare, this endless cycle of one war leading to another and the next was rooted in these painful fantasies of dominance.”

“H.D.’s poetry said to me that we could bring patriarchal dominance to an end, it was a poetry that insisted that we could bring war to an end.”

“I didn’t want to risk my life in Grenada, and like a lot of men of my generation, I was genuinely alarmed about this, and I was trying to understand why this was happening. And there was nothing that I read that year in college that seemed to me to have more to say about this question of why generation after generation we were engaged in futile war.”

“One of the things that literature could do was alter how we feel and think about the world in ways that might enable us to be less actively engaged in the perpetuation of violence.”

“H.D. herself was trying to figure out . . . how the Bethlehem Steel plant which was producing the munitions for global warfare, how that had grown out of a pacifist communitarianism.”

Next time we’ll talk about some specific poems.

Remember: the next event in the year-long series is “H.D.’s Moravian Roots in Bethlehem” by Moravian’s Craig Atwood, February 26, 6:30-8 at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Gadfly will remind you.

Lecture photo by Jennie Gilrain.

Recruiting the developers

(No answer yet. If you know any of these gentlemen, please put in a good word for the Gadfly.)  

49 W. Greenwich St.
Bethlehem PA 18018
February 8, 2019

Dennis E. Benner, Lou Pektor, Michael Perruci, Jim Petrucci, Michael F. Ronca

Good Sirs:

I write you because Bethlehem Councilman Callahan cited you five at a recent Council meeting as developers who have made important contributions to the city. And who will continue to do so.

I have an idea that I ‘m going to pitch to Council soon, and I’d like to invite you to be part of it.

I’m just your average citizen who on retirement from Lehigh University recently as a Professor of American Literature for almost 50 years has been enjoying learning about and commenting on our City government.

One thing I could not help but notice is the importance of our history to the City’s identity.

You folks are instrumental in creating the present and the future of the City, but that work should always grow out of a connection with and feeling for the City’s past.

I’ll bet that you have all attended Council meetings for one reason or another and are aware that each meeting begins in traditional fashion with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance.

I am going to propose to Council that we add a third element to the opening ceremony – a “Bethlehem Moment.” The Bethlehem Moment – literally 1-2 minutes – would be a slice of Bethlehem history. For instance, I did one as part of public comment last meeting on the opening of Memorial Pool in 1957.

I’ll need to suggest to Council who would do these Moments. I have approached the School District about involving students, and I will be contacting Historic Bethlehem and many other organizations and individuals.

I’m wondering if I could count on each of you to do one Moment a year. You might think of it as a charitable contribution of a non-financial kind. I’ll bet that you have never received this kind of request, and I can well imagine you saying, O, my, this is not what I do! But I and others would be available to help you select a Moment and prepare the paragraph of text if needed.

Nothing definite required at this time. All I’m hoping for is a nod of willingness to hear more and to participate once we get organized.
Sincerely,

Ed Gallagher
610-691-2456
ejg1@lehigh.edu

free marketers never acknowledge their own pie-in-the sky fantasy

Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past and current director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

Gadfly:

It’s great to see the likes of Jonah Goldberg feeling threatened enough by the GND that they have to come out and try to stifle its momentum. Note that his comments do not at any point acknowledge the seriousness of the climate change problem and the importance of a radical reduction in emissions over the next decade. The GND may be an aspirational document, but there is real thinking behind it and real policy wonks starting to figure out what implementing it would entail. I find it outrageous that free marketers at the American Enterprise Institute never acknowledge their own pie-in-the sky fantasy that markets can solve environmental problems. They are the ones who are living in a fantasy world. Yes, government can always do better, and there are some social problems that markets can be left to fix. But climate change is not one of them. Conservatives in this country seem to be the only significant political group in all of the industrialized-democratic world who still think such problems can be solved without significant government intervention. There are no solutions in Goldberg’s article, no acknowledgement of the significance of the problem, and no references to support any of his claims. It’s no wonder 60 reps in the house have already jumped on board with AOC’s fantasy.

Breena

A modest proposal: an even merrier more

(3rd in a series of modest proposals)

It’s the new year. And it’s an election year. A time to be proposing things.

The Gadfly project is all about participation of, interaction with, and communication to the public.

(It’s a bit distant but mark your calendars for the March 26 launch of the City Communication Survey led by CM Reynolds. 3:30 Town Hall. Gadfly will remind you.)

In his previous modest proposal Gadfly asked us to think about City Council meetings in terms of two metaphors.

The City Council meeting is the public face of City government and should be the hub of the wheel of City governance.

And he suggested that Council invite certain Authorities and Boards and so forth to “visit” the meeting twice a year to talk with/to Council and the public.

This next proposal is similar.

Gadfly didn’t always understand the finances at the series of budget meetings at the end of last year, but he very much appreciated “meeting” the department heads, who were pretty much unknown to him beforehand, and hearing them talk expertly about what they were doing or planning to do in their areas.

Now that was interesting and enlightening. And humanizing.

Could these department heads be brought in to enliven the Council meetings with discussion of real work affecting residents in process or planned?

The City organization chart shows 7 departments under the Mayor. (There’s a link to the chart on the Gadfly sidebar.)

Gadfly would imagine that in conjunction with formulating a budget each department has a set of goals – an annual plan of some sort – for the year that is the subject of periodic review with the Mayor and is the point of reference for the department’s performance evaluation.

Similar to the previous modest proposal, Gadfly is suggesting that each department head come to a meeting twice a year, once in the first half and once in the second, and briefly tell “us” what’s happening in that department. Highlights.

Our Council meetings are “live” and on video now. We could announce a schedule of such guest appearances – “coming attractions” — and promote them in a modest way. People with interest in certain areas could be alerted to attend or tune in or catch up later.

Gadfly likes to say that he hungers for information. He wants to know as much as possible about what is going on in his town.

Newsletters and other mechanisms and tools to push out information to the public that will come out of the Communication Survey are good things.

But Gadfly modestly proposes modest personal interaction that would spice up the necessary and important business and busy-ness of necessary Council routine.

And give the public a reason to be involved.

(“Modest Proposals.” Things – even really small things – that we’d like to see happen. Gadfly invites you to contribute your modest proposals. If you favor a modest proposal, let the Mayor and Council know – email links are on the Gadfly sidebar.)

The City is looking for volunteers!

Eeek, Gadfly forgot to pass this notice on the City web site on to faithful followers:

February 1, 2019 8:21 AM

Anyone interested in serving on a City Authority, Board or Commission, please submit a letter of interest and resume to saugello@bethlehem-pa.gov or wkarras@bethlehem-pa.gov

Gadfly has spent a year vagabonding around from meeting to meeting of our Authorities, Boards, and Commissions.

Check them out on the City web site.

There’s a bunch of them.

By and large, Gadfly has been very, very impressed at the good, selfless work done by “regular” residents.

He finally caught up with a Southside group two weeks ago and was quite impressed with the range of activities going on that he never heard about.

You might have a particular skill, talent, or interest that matches with one of these ABC’s.Uncle Sam

Or you just might want to get involved.

Getting involved — participating — is what the Gadfly project is all about.

So think on this opportunity to get your name in the mix and consider hustling off an email to headquarters registering your willingness to serve.

The Dems host a handful of candidates

(6th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Last night 5 of the 6 candidates for City Council gave brief presentations at the regular monthly meeting of the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee. (Candidate Ritter was not present.)

Very brief.

The Dems plan to have a more extensive forum with all candidates together at the end of April or the beginning of May, just before the election.

See below for calendar items.

New candidates

Grace Crampsie Smith

David Saltzer

Incumbents

Michael Colon

Willie Reynolds

Paige Van Wirt

*******

Now, class, are you paying attention? Can you identify the candidates?

Mark your calendars

Petition signing, Saturday, Feb. 23, Steelworker’s Union Hall, 53 E. Lehigh St., 10-5: candidates will probably be there.

Campaign kick-offs.  (I assume we are all invited.)

Smith: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30, Roosevelt’s

Reynolds: Thursday, Feb. 24, 6:30, BrewWorks

Require climate impacts on new developments and major renovations

See Kathy Fox’s “A question for prospective city council members”

Kathy:

I think climate impacts — and other sustainability impacts — should definitely be required for all planning & zoning submissions — for all new developments & major renovations. As a starting point, we could use the Sustainability Impact Assessment project completed by 5 students last summer.
[https://www.sustainlv.org/focus_on/sustainability-impact-assessment/]

Peter Crownfield

(Be sure to see Peter’s comments on the “Thinking green” and “Reducing carbon emissions” posts as well.)

Yes, use zoning and building codes to effect local changes

Gadfly:

Kathy Fox hits the nail on the head with addressing these kinds of issues using zoning and building codes to effect local changes. Too bad city officials don’t.

Why not require solar panels on the roofs of buildings over a certain square footage? Why not require warehouses to then provide onsite rest parking for diesel fuel drinking semis? Why not use the solar energy created to allow those semis to plug in instead of running engines that pollute, while a driver rests? Why not up the ante on reconstruction and new construction with more environmentally friendly energy standards/requirements?

Yes, there is much that could be done to address environmental concerns, but it seems that election time rhetoric is the only time we hear about soon to be forgotten ideas, in the name of getting elected.

This is a practice and philosophy, not a campaign bullet point.

Dana Grubb

A question for prospective city council members

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council, and candidates for election)

Kathy Fox is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council, a co-chair of the Northampton County Council of Democratic Women’s Environmental Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Food Co-op.  Kathy involves herself in positive organizations and activities that foster community, environmental awareness, education, and good health. 

Gadfly:

Thank you for your continued interest in the issue of climate change.  While we dilly-dally on the federal level on workable solutions, here in Bethlehem we should also be concentrating on making changes in our community and in local government zoning and planning because this is where we have the most control.

Even before the next election, I want to see the current city council and mayor to step up their game.  Climate change is not only a world issue, it is a local issue.

I want to hear our six (so far) prospective city council members talk about their specific solutions to climate change on a city level.

Years ago I sent an e-mail to the council members and the mayor urging them to change the city ordinance/building codes to require more stringent energy efficiency rules than the 2009 Pennsylvania building code regulations.  I never heard that the city made any changes.

Last year, Pennsylvania updated their building code regulations, and now the city must comply with the updated codes.  However, the city still needs to increase the energy efficiency requirements on all new buildings and renovations to require some level of LEED certification.  You do not need a written Climate Action Plan to start changing our buildings codes and ordinances.  The longer we wait, the direr the consequences will be.

As for the last fact presented by Jonah Goldberg in your blog post regarding the decrease in emissions in 2017, it fails to mention that in 2018 U.S. emissions increased 3.4% — “a jarring increase that comes as scientists say the world needs to be aggressively cutting its emissions to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.”

See “U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018 — and it couldn’t happen at a worse time,” by Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis.

So prospective city council members, what changes in the existing City of Bethlehem zoning, planning, building codes, etc. are you willing to propose and support to more effectively battle climate change on a local level, and how quickly will you do this once you are elected?

Kathy

Bethlehem Authority: a long history of superior forest stewardship

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Stephen Repasch is Executive Director of the Bethlehem Authority.

Gadfly should check out the web page of the Bethlehem Authority on the City’s website to learn about its role in the climate picture. I’ve excerpted a few lines below from the “Watershed Forest Management” section:

“Dating back to the purchase of the watershed properties, the Bethlehem Authority (Authority) and the City of Bethlehem have a long history of superior forest stewardship that is distinguished from most private land owners in the region. Through the efforts of long time City Forester, John Anspach, the watershed forests have been a model for proper forest management activities. Plantations of various indigenous species were developed and nurtured under Mr. Anspach’s guiding forestry principles. . . .

In 2011, following over a year of negotiations, the Authority entered into a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) that was part of TNC’s Working Woodland’s Program. TNC is an international private nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the plants, animals, and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The outcome of this arrangement was the development of a comprehensive Forest Management Plan (FMP) that became Forest Stewardship Council or FSC® certified in 2012. FSC ® is the preeminent sustainable forest certification entity in the world today.

The FMP has the following overarching goals that will drive the management activities on the Authority properties:

· Preserve the high drinking water quality and quantity of the sources by maintaining or improving the capacity of the watershed to produce these values and maintaining or improving watershed security to insure the safety of the supply.
· Improve the capacity of the watershed and its properties to produce financial return that will better enable BA to protect and enhance the long term value of the asset. This includes sustainable timbering, potential renewable energy and monetizing ecosystem services (carbon, NRCS cost share, easements, leases etc.).
· Promote ecosystem health, diversity, and sustainable management of all resources through compliance with all federal, state, and municipal requirements, FSC standards of operation and other best management practices.
· Within constraints of other objectives, maintain or improve opportunities to allow the public active and passive recreational access to BA lands.

The FMP was developed to guide the management activities of the Authority properties in the Wild Creek and Tunkhannock Creek Watersheds. These properties are part of the Working Woodlands program of TNC, and, as a result, will be managed in accordance with the FSC® US 2010 National Standard as part of TNC’s group certificate. In addition, as part of Working Woodlands, these properties will be verified to the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS) and provides carbon credits that are sold on the voluntary market to offset the carbon footprint of large companies. By sequestering carbon dioxide, through 2018 the Authority has received credits for revenue totaling over $946,000 from Chevy Corp. and Disney Corp. and has a commitment from Disney to buy carbon credits though 2022.

The vision for all properties within TNC’s Working Woodlands, is to restore and sustain high quality ecological values within economically productive forests. The Authority properties serve as the primary and secondary drinking water supply for over 116,000 customers, and as such have considerably high conservation value. In addition, the mesic till barrens community type of the Pocono Plateau, which dominates several thousand acres of Authority property, is home to rare and endangered species of plants, birds and insects and is considered to be the only natural community of its kind in the world.

The conservation easement provides that: the properties will be retained predominantly in their natural, scenic, and forested condition, free of additional forest fragmentation or additional development; any rare plants, animals, or plant communities will be protected; and any use that will significantly impair or interfere with the conservation values or interests of the Authority will be prevented. The easement will assure long-term, professional, independent third-party certified forest management of the property for the production, management and harvesting of economically valuable timber and related forest products while ensuring the conservation values are protected or enhanced. The easement also ensures the protection of forest and other natural resources and allows for the potential of economic return from the protection, management, maintenance, and improvement of ecosystem services provided by the property, including but not limited to the protection of water quality and quantity, carbon sequestration, and the protection of wetlands, rare species and natural communities.

The FMP will be periodically reviewed and updated to ensure that strategies to be undertaken are in compliance with TNC’s Compatible Human and Economic Use Activity Standard Operating Procedures (CHU SOP) and are in accordance with the Conservancy’s Group Certification program and the FSC® US National Standard.”

Steve

Thinking green on a white morning

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

It was a weekend to think green – like “Green New Deal.”

The weekend of the Ocasio-Cortez/Markey joint Congressional resolution (not a legislative proposal)  “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.”

Gadfly, as you followers can tell, he thinks, spurred by the fact that Bethlehem is ahead of the curve on local Climate Action Plans, is trying to school himself better in this area.

Here’s four texts he spent some time on this weekend.

1) The primary source: “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.”  A 10-year national mobilization scheme. Always start with the primary source.

Goals:

  • building resiliency against climate change-related disasters
  • repairing and upgrading the infrastructure
  • 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources
  • energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘‘smart’’ power grids
  • all buildings with maximum energy efficiency
  • massive growth in clean manufacturing
  • removing pollution/greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector
  • overhauling transportation systems to remove pollution/greenhouse gas emissions
  • mitigating/managing the health/economic/other effects of pollution/climate change
  • removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere
  • restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems
  • cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites
  • identifying other emission and pollution sources
  • international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services

2) Ocasio-Cortez/Markey press conference (17 mins.)

  • resolution has many co-sponsors
  • green dream
  • great programs start with vision of the future
  • Pelosi on board
  • beginning of education phase of this idea
  • silent on any individual technology
  • some Republican support
  • also an infrastructure bill
  • appeals to swing voters
  • about the role of government
  • smart investment generating returns
  • small tax breaks as fossil fuels have gotten
  • green generation has risen up
  • among top issues in election cycle
  • people want ambitious plan
  • many different paths to the goal
  • charge of gov. expansion is hypocritical
  • Federal gov. scientists defying president
  • make default clean energy
  • this resolution outlines scope of bills that will follow
  • will be voting issue in 2020
  • resolution deals with principles

3) The politics: Ella Nilsen, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is making the Green New Deal a 2020 litmus test.” Vox, February 7, 2019.

  • will be a litmus test
  • “Once this resolution is announced, there will be a really clear litmus test for what they support,” said Stephen O’Hanlon, spokesman for climate activist group Sunrise Movement. But there’s something larger at work here. The Green New Deal is fundamentally about making climate change a central Democratic priority in 2020 — without shoving aside health care and the economy. After years of this globally important issue languishing on the national agenda, it has come roaring back.
  • Some 2020 Democrats have also been cautious about a full-throated endorsement. While the Green New Deal has been endorsed by declared or potential candidates including Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mike Bloomberg, and Cory Booker, exactly what that means is fuzzy. Staff for 2020 contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told Axios she supports the “idea” of a Green New Deal.
  • The fact this proposal is a catch-all of the most progressive programs means it probably isn’t going anywhere in the House, where House Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone has already called the plan too ambitious and unlikely to generate consensus among moderate Democrats in the House, never mind the Senate.
  • “The goal of trying to reduce fossil fuels and get to a carbon neutral economy is important and something that I agree with,” Pallone told the Asbury Park Press last month. “The Green New Deal says you can do it in 10 years. I don’t know if that’s technologically feasible. … Beyond that it’s probably not politically feasible.”
  • But to Ocasio-Cortez and Green New Deal backers, that’s not the point. They are banking that the idea will keep spreading. Even some in the House who are skeptical of whether the plan is feasible agree that the branding of the Green New Deal — harkening back to the days of FDR — is a brilliant marketing strategy.
  • Progressives are clearly using the Green New Deal to push the debate in their direction. The left wants to make sure they have fully vetted and influenced the ideas of any Democrats that have a shot at winning the White House.
  • If Democrats take back the White House and the Senate in 2020 — a big though not impossible if — activists want to have bills ready to go in 2021 to tackle climate change. Realistically, the bills that come out of the House in the next two years probably won’t be as bold as the proposal Ocasio-Cortez is floating.
  • But activists won’t be totally satisfied until 2020 candidates do two things: embrace Ocasio-Cortez’s plan and pledge not to take fossil fuel money. “We’re focusing on getting all the 2020 contenders to endorse the full vision of the Green New Deal and get specific about it,” O’Hanlon said.

4) The other side, which we always must look at: Jonah Goldberg, “Green New Deal backers embrace their fantasies.” Tribune, February 9.

  • It’s worth noting that it’s not legislation as people normally understand the term. It’s a resolution titled “Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” In other words, even if it passed — a considerable if — nothing would really happen.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t taking it too seriously.
  • It’s not a very serious proposal
  • Well, at least the plan isn’t too ambitious. Retrofitting “every building in America” can be done in 10 years, but eliminating all the gassy cows will take a bit longer. Maybe we’ll move them all to Hawaii, which with the near-abolition of airplanes will be effectively cut off from America anyway.
  • Even if you take these goals seriously, as a practical matter it’s a fantasy masquerading as green virtue-signaling.
  • But it’s a fantasy based on a worldview that should be treated seriously because it’s so dangerous. NPR’s Steve Inskeep asked Ocasio-Cortez whether she was comfortable with the “massive government intervention” critics say is required by such an undertaking.
  • The free market hasn’t been given free rein, and over the last 40 years the free market and government regulations alike have made laudable environmental progress. In 2017, the U.S. had the largest reductions of CO2 emissions in the world for the ninth time this century. Rather than celebrate and build on that reality, the Green New Dealers would rather embrace their fantasies — and waste a lot of time and money in the process.

Now, to Gadfly followers much more knowledgeable than he, an invitation for things to read and to think about.

Reducing carbon emissions and making money H.R. 763

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, and Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

“There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil.
The triumph of anything is a matter of organization.”
(Kurt Vonnegut)

Remember that Bethlehem under the leadership of CM Reynolds and the good volunteer folk on the Environmental Advisory Council chaired by Lynn Rothman and with the cooperation of City Hall has a Climate Action Plan abirthing.

Martha Christine, “The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act deserves bipartisan support.” Morning Call, February 10, 2019.

Here is one of Martha’s latest drumbeats in favor of the The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act H.R. 763.

Valentine’s Day brings thoughts of love, friendship and cooperation. But can members of the federal government cooperate? Yes, and it’s happening right now.

The House has introduced a bipartisan bill to address climate change. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) will reduce carbon emissions while providing a monthly dividend check to offset higher costs of energy. It will create new jobs and improve health. It’s revenue neutral so it won’t grow the government.

Senators are cooperating, too. They’ve re-introduced bipartisan legislation to reduce drug costs. I believe Republican and Democrat senators will work together to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. The Chamber of Commerce has recognized that bipartisanship benefits business, so they should also endorse this business-friendly legislation. Even the president has called for cooperation between Democrats and Republicans.

So, there’s hope for bipartisan action on climate change. I love the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act — a simple, effective solution to climate change. I encourage you to urge Representative Wild and Senators Casey and Toomey to love it, too!

You can find email links to Wild, Casey, and Toomey on the Gadfly sidebar.

Martha introduced me to the national organization the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The local Lehigh Valley chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby meets the Tuesday after the 2nd Saturday of the month at:

Friends (Quaker) Meeting House
4116 Bath Pike (Route 512)
Bethlehem, PA 18017

6 pm: potluck supper, welcome & introductions
6:30 pm: business meeting

That means tomorrow, Tuesday, February 12!

It’s Monday, February 11, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Martin Tower: Not all icons were built to last (4)

(4th in a series on Martin Tower)

Gadfly has felt ripples and rumblings about the fate of Martin Tower.

An old controversy whose closure has not been fully digested in some quarters.

No surer sign of the recognition of that reality in the minds of some (probably inclined to be vocal) residents than this Morning Call article by our past Mayor.

The Cunningham piece has the feel of a strategic attempt by the business/developer community to get out in front of resurgent public controversy over demolition.

The article has the feel of an attempt to preempt a resurgence of controversy, at least over the fact of demolition.

This Cunningham essay is, frankly, a rhetorically effective and powerful piece of writing.

It would have received an “A” in Gadfly’s writing class.

If there is to be a fight over Martin Tower, as Gadfly strongly suspects there will be, its focus must squarely be on the nature of future development.

Which Cunningham does not raise here.

Not at this point wasting grief or grumble, however justified, over the fate of the building itself or the process by which that fate was determined.

Or do you disagree?

What do you think?

Don Cunningham, “Business Sectors: Not all icons were built to last.” Morning Call, February 7, 2019.

Selections, but you need to read the full article:

“There’s a historic gem hidden on a wooded hillside of South Mountain in the tiny borough of Fountain Hill. It’s just beyond the southern end of Lechauweki Avenue where the road dead ends at Moravia Street and the mountainside. The casual visitor won’t notice much. There’s a small pond with a gazebo, a nature trail and lots of trees just beyond a borough sign that reads ‘Lechauweki Springs: a public recreation area’.”

“The hillside looked much different 140 years ago, in the late 1870s. It was home to the Lechauweki Springs Hotel resort. There were three buildings on the site that could house up to 120 guests. Wealthy travelers from New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia came by horse-drawn carriage to rest and relax on this hillside and to drink and bathe in the mineralized natural springs of Lechauweki.”

“Lechauweki Springs was known for its exquisite cuisine. Gourmet meals were prepared by a French chef who served all that was fresh and in season from the area countryside.”

“Lechauweki Springs Hotel resort lasted about 20 years from 1872 to 1891. The end came when a fire destroyed the main building. . . . Today all that remains other than the springs and the rebuilt pond and gazebo are some fascinating stone cisterns dug into the ground around the hill and three former resort cottages on the west side of Lechauweki Avenue that are now six twin homes. Lechauweki Springs Hotel resort disappeared almost as quickly as it surfaced.”

“About two miles across the river as the crow flies in west Bethlehem another economic icon of its day is about to meet a similar fate. . . . Martin Tower, the last corporate office home of the Bethlehem Steel Corp., on Eighth Avenue in the Lehigh County section of the city will be taken down this year. It’s been vacant for 12 years.”

“The construction of Martin Tower for $35 million was just one example of a corporate leadership often more focused on building monuments, golf courses, country clubs and leasing suites at the Waldorf-Astoria than modernizing steelmaking operations and remaining cost competitive with international steelmakers and American mini-mills.”

“There are some who don’t want to see the tower go. I understand what underlies that sentiment. I was not alive to see the grand hotel of Lechauweki Springs but whenever I hike the site I wish it were still there. Of course, it can’t be there because its time came and went. Today, it would be antiquated, unsafe, wouldn’t meet modern building codes and couldn’t be cost competitive enough to stay in business. Just like Martin Tower.”

“All can’t be preserved just to make us feel better.”

“If something can be saved and repurposed it should be. The first inclination should not be to tear down and start anew.”

“But, there’s also a difference between something old and something historic.”

“The history of Bethlehem Steel happened on the South Side. . . . It was in those blast furnaces that raw materials were cooked into molten iron. And, it was in those mills where tens of thousands toiled to produce those iconic I-beams. We are fortunate the blast furnaces, former corporate offices and many of the mills remain there to remind us of our past.”

“Martin Tower is the youngest of all the steel buildings in Bethlehem. The company occupied it for just 30 years. Some things disappear nearly as quickly as they come. That often happens.”

A bridge under the bridge? (8)

(8th in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability)

“Tail on the Trail” challenge started last week. Are you in? Not too late.

Gadfly needs everybody in shape in case we have to march on City Hall or something.

Spring is coming.

Yeah, right.

Gadfly was trying to push the season yesterday and get some outside Tail miles in.

Was the fastest 70+ in a 5k “in support of People with Disabilities” in deliciously sunny but windswept and frigid Fogelsville. 002

(Well, truth be told, he was the the ONLY 70+.  All others were sensible of living till 80. And, more truth be told, he was 4th from last. Just in front of 3 strolling women of a certain age eagerly engaged in a really quite interesting conversation — sprinkled with biographical admissions and evidentiary anecdotes — about whether if they were dating now would they find the Bezos-Sanchez pictorial email interchange a matter of routine. Normal conversation for a “Cupid” race in which participants — Only in America! — wore shirts marked “available” and “unavailable.”  The conversation actually helped keep Gadfly warm. )

Not Spring-y at all.

But he was thinking about Spring.

And realizing that he has let this thread go dark for about two weeks.

And so he went looking for several City studies done on walkability and bikeability.

Like the 2016 “Beth Connects: A Trail Study.”

Seemed beautifully done. Stem to stern. Soup to nuts.

Divides the Bethlehem trail system into eight easily identified geographical sections.

Take a look. Easy reading.

Because a pedestrian bridge has been in the news lately (funds for a feasibility study on the horizon), Gadfly was especially looking for info about a bridge.

See pps. 46-49 of the report itself.

I wondered where such a bridge would be.

Ok, possible bridge from the foot of Main St. at Sand Island over to Union Station area.

And, quite interestingly, possibly a bridge UNDER the Fahy Bridge.

Wheeee!

Belle Island

See as an example: Richmond: Belle Isle Pedestrian Bridge

http://www.rvariverfront.com/trails/belleisle.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THldCVllv7M

Has anything been done with this “Beth Connects” report? Does anybody know?

Gadfly has a vague recollection of news stories about the City with plans to purchase land to connect the east end of the Greenway with the Saucon Rail Trail.

Having worked in Academia, Gadfly is used to reports that collect dust. In fact, he wrote several of them.

Granted, all the Beth Connects recommendations have hefty price-tags.

But Gadfly hopes dust collecting is not happening here. Certainly looks like a lot of productive work was put into this study.

Welcome candidate for City Council David Saltzer

(5th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Nicole Radzievich, “David Saltzer to run for Bethlehem City Council.” Morning Call, February 5, 2019.

Sara Satullo, “Retired Bethlehem firefighter running for city council.” lehighvalleylive.com, February 7, 2019.

Gadfly has not seen the press release on David Saltzer yet.

The news stories have the following info:

  • South Bethlehem resident
  • retired Bethlehem firefighter
  • sustained a catastrophic knee injury fighting a fire in 2015David Saltzer
  • president of Bethlehem Firefighters IAFF Local 735
  • 911 acting supervisor at Lehigh County
  • Upper Saucon emergency medical technician
  • emergency dispatcher for Medevac at Lehigh Valley Health Network
  • volunteers as a grant writer, treasurer and fundraising coordinator for Aunt Helen’s Cat’s In Need, a local nonprofit cat rescue
  • passionate about animals and is a “proud dog-dad” to Chevy and Cloie, both Shih Tzus, and Sophie, a Husky.
  • strong advocate for city’s first responders
  • backs investments in Bethlehem’s working class.

“These men and women put their lives on the line daily and cutting funding for personnel and infrastructure for first responders is unsafe,” he said in a statement. “We do these jobs because we are called to help people, and in order to do that we need to be funded for success.”

““I’ve grown up in this beautiful city, and I had the privilege of serving as a Bethlehem City Firefighter for 15 years,” Saltzer said. “Since I was a teenager, I’ve held multiple jobs at one time to make ends meet and I want to represent the hard-working people of Bethlehem.”

“Since I was young, I’ve felt a strong drive to help people. That’s what I find fulfilling and serving on city council is another way I can do that,” Saltzer said in a news release. “Bethlehem is a historic steel city made up of hard-working people and I want to be a voice for these hard workers. I feel like I can represent them because I’m just like them. I’d feel so honored to be able to do that.”

A reminder that the other new candidates for Council thus far are Grace Crampsie Smith and Carol Chamberlain Ritter. Incumbents running are J. William Reynolds, Michael Colon, and Paige Van Wirt. Incumbent Shawn Martell is not running. There are three four-year seats and one two-year seat on the ballot this year. Smith is running for the two-year seat, Ritter and Saltzer for the four.

Hitting the pause button on Bethlehem Moments

Gadfly has done 5 “Bethlehem Moments” now.

See the link on the sidebar or under Fun Stuff on the top menu.

Time to reflect a bit.

The idea was for Gadfly to do some to give a sense of what this “Bethlehem Moment” thing was all about.

And then to pitch it to Council to see if they were interested in incorporating it into the opening ceremony after the prayer and the pledge.

It could always continue randomly even as part of public comment without Council involvement.

But if the idea has interest and value at all, it deserves to be at the “top” of the meeting and not in public comment where it would follow, like it just did Tuesday, a guy complaining about neighbor dogs.

If I pitch this idea to Council for consideration, I’ll have to suggest how to staff 24 Moments a year. The idea is no good if it becomes somebody’s hassle to fill out a roster.

I have made very preliminary contact with BASD about students participating. I see a lot of pluses educationally for the students in doing the Moments, and it would bring them and their parents to meetings.

I will be contacting such various organizations as Moravian Archives and Historic Bethlehem to sound out interest, and, a less obvious but intriguing source of Momentors, I’m even asking developers in a letter I will share with you.

But I should ask Gadfly followers. If you personally would like to do a Moment (help available if needed) or if you belong to an organization that would like to participate (help available if needed), perhaps doing a Moment connected to the  nature of the organization, please let me know.

The Bethlehem Moment idea, I know, might seem a bit fluffy, and now that Council meetings are filmed I’ll be able to see if people are yawning, and if it goes bust, so be it. But I’d like to give it a good chance of catching on.

Where do all the students go and why? (11)

(11th in a series on Education)

Gadfly still wrapping his wings around charter schools.

Approximately 2100 BASD students attend charter schools, about 13% of the total student population. Charter schools cost Bethlehem taxpayers 29 million in charter tuition this year, which is roughly 10% of the budget.

Where do they go?  And then the next question is why do they go?

They go to the following 12 charter schools, only 3 of which have Bethlehem addresses. 5 have Allentown addresses, and 1 each to Catasauqua, Fogelsville, Emmaus, and Easton.

Charter schools are about choice.

So why do they go? Gadfly wonders if there are any surveys that shed light on this question.

(Another interesting statistic would be what is the percentage of BASD students to the total enrollment in each of the charter schools.)

We have profiled in previous posts 2 of the 3 charter schools with Bethlehem addresses. Gadfly who has two granddaughter “performers” who went to a public school in Massachusetts that excelled in the Arts can understand the attraction of our Charter Arts. And to Gadfly the appeal of the Dual Language school is also quite understandable.

Here are the 12 charter schools in descending order of the 2100 BASD students attending. Let’s spend some time browsing through – especially the “top” schools – to try to sense what the draw is.

Almost 50% go to one school — what’s up with that?

1038
Lehigh Valley Academy Charter School
1560 Valley Center Pkwy #200, Bethlehem, PA 18017
http://www.lvacademy.org/

246
Executive Education Academy Charter School
555 Union Blvd, Allentown, PA 18109
https://www.ee-schools.org/

183
Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School
675 E Broad St, Bethlehem, PA 18018
https://www.lvdlcs.org/

165
Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School
1414 E Cedar St, Allentown, PA 18109
https://www.llacslv.org/

94
The Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts
321 E 3rd St, Bethlehem, PA 18015
https://www.charterarts.org/

55
The Arts Academy Charter School
1610 E Emmaus Avenue, Allentown, PA 18103
http://www.arts-cs.org/

25
Innovative Arts Academy Charter School
330 Howertown Rd, Catasauqua, PA 18032
https://iaacslv.net/

23
Arts Academy Elementary Charter School
601 Union St, Allentown, PA 18101
https://www.artsacademyelementary.com/

19
Easton Arts Academy Elementary Charter School
30 N 4th St, Easton, PA 18042
https://www.easton-arts-charter-school.com/

17
Seven Generations Charter School
154 Minor St, Emmaus, PA 18049
https://sevengenerationsschool.org/

15
Circle of Seasons Charter School
8380 Mohr Ln, Fogelsville, PA 18051
https://www.circleofseasons.org/

2 Roberto Clemente CS
136 S 4th St # 1, Allentown, PA 18102
http://www.myrccs.com/en/

Like Gadfly, this is probably the first time realizing the local “universe” of charter schools. What are you thinking?

Candidate CW Van Wirt on Ethics Reform

(4th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Gadfly encourages you to listen to a brief presentation that Candidate CW Van Wirt made Wednesday night at a meeting of Lehigh Valley for All.

CW Van Wirt gave a very, very brief work bio.

And then indicated support for walkability in Bethlehem, attracting millennials and tourists, and the pedestrian bridge. Van Wirt

But her main focus was on ethics reform.

We have, she said, an ok financial disclosure law.

But she passed out CM Callahan’s publicly available Campaign Finance Statement as an example.

Take a look.

She did not go into detail about the form.

Leaving it up to us to review.

Nothing illegal here, she said.

But she asked us to think about following the money.

Who are these people — the donors?

(Gadfly recognized some names – do you? – and saw what she was getting at.)

She said we need really tough ethics and campaign finance reform.

Look at what’s happened in Scranton, Philadelphia, Allentown.

She will especially push a bill requiring a person to recuse if a donor is involved.

(Hmm, perhaps like a recent case or two Gadfly covered.)

And, she said, recognize the good going on too, high-fiving Chief Delusio – serious crime down 26%.

So, you should listen to her in her own voice.

Here’s a clear position statement from one of the candidates for Council.

Gadfly also suggests you check out the Lehigh Valley for All web site. Follower Barbara Diamond introduced Gadfly to this organization. They hosted the recent “Education Summit” that Gadfly attended for good info on the charter school question we are discussing. A lively grass-roots organization! Recommended.

Charter schools and real estate taxes (10)

(10th in a series on Education)

Stephen C. Antalics Jr. of Bethlehem is a retired scientist and entrepreneur. He is also Gadfly #1.

Note from Stephen as present context for his 2015 article: The process of using real estate taxes to fund the state’s public school systems creates a difficulty for districts with a low real estate average, for these poorer districts must now share their meagre funds with the charter schools, thereby depriving already burdened students of higher qualified teachers and needed supplies like text books, etc. So, the real estate values also determine the quality of education. The plan below is a radical approach.

“Is it time for radical change in public education?” Morning Call, September 15, 2015.

“Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Republican and chairman of the state Senate Education Committee, is proposing legislation [this is 2015] that could put poorly performing school districts under state control.”

“Sen. Andrew Dinniman, a Democrat and minority chairman of the Education Committee, noted that the majority of the schools that fail are in poor urban areas. Poverty becomes the common denominator among poorly performing schools.”

“Many school districts derive a high proportion of school revenue from real estate taxes. It follows that those communities with high property values have necessary revenues to invest to make their district superior.”

“This is quite clearly supported by the fact that school districts in the most affluent communities are rated among the best in performance and those in poverty areas are among the lowest. Is it fair that intelligent children living in poverty-stricken districts be deprived of an education equal in quality afforded to children in affluent districts?”

“The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment is a standardized test administered to public schools to determine the quality of the education in all districts. Can such a standardized test work when the districts are far from standardized — i.e., standardized being equal opportunity afforded to each student? It appears that the PSSAs measure more learning opportunity rather than student ability.”

“One radical approach could be for the state to take over all school districts. Each district could receive 100 percent of necessary funds from state income and sales taxes. This would eliminate the need for personal school real estate taxes, thereby ending possible foreclosures on homes of poverty-level families or seniors on fixed incomes.”

“Clearly, the state’s system of public education, by allowing a class system founded on affluence, is not working. Is it time for a radical change? Nothing might be lost but there is much to gain — better educated children.”

Stephen

Watch meaningful interchange at the January 15 Council meeting (18)

(18th in a series of posts on City Government)

Next City Council meeting 4hrs from now as Gadfly writes this.

Can you make it?

If not, remember that the meetings are now filmed — accessible on the Council website, and accessible on Youtube.

And that they will soon be televised “live.” 7PM, first and third Tuesdays of the month.

A tip o’ the hat and wave of the wings again to President Waldron and others for making this happen.

We must take advantage.

To wit: I went to another meeting January 15 instead of Council, and so “took advantage.”

I’m glad I did.

There is a very interesting and revealing interchange at the January 15 meeting among CW Van Wirt, CM Callahan, and CM Reynolds.

Take a look.  10 mins. The full episode is 1:24:30 – 1:33:40.

Council website or Youtube.

The interchange is revelatory in respect to both substance and style of each council person.

I have said that one mission of the Gadfly project is to get to know the CPs better when it comes time to vote and to help you do the same.

CW Van Wirt is bothered by actions of three city agencies: Redevelopment Authority, Parking Authority, and BRIA. Here are clips of her concern, but watch the whole thing:

Why am I bringing all this up? Because I do not want it to go down unchecked in the public record. We as a Council are representatives of the taxpayers. We have not received an adequate explanation of why this $800,000 grant to the developer was made instead of into what the public would benefit from. I’m deeply troubled by the lack of oversight of our boards and commissions. . . . I’m concerned about lack of oversight of the Parking Authority. . . . Why does all this matter? These three Authorities – BRIA, Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority, the Parking Authority – were created to work for Bethlehem citizens. . . . I think they have been exceptionally poor performers. . . . I will be calling out crony capitalism and poor management when I see it till things start to change.

CM Callahan responds by suggesting CW Van Wirt needs to do more research.

CM Reynolds cools things down a bit.

Passionate concern at visible wrong > defense of the ones perceived to be committing wrong > calm, sensible reconciliation.

Very interesting, and, I think, representative of their Council personae.

Now, in terms of the issue of oversight and explanation here, let Gadfly say that, as followers will surely remember, he followed the Parking Authority diligently through 70+ posts in the last quarter of 2018, and his conclusions on that organization align as completely and as passionately as CW Van Wirt’s.

That is one of the reasons for his Modest Proposal post of January 20:

that the half-dozen or so “independent” Authorities be requested to attend at least two City Council meetings per year, once in the first six months and once in the second, to report on current activities and future plans and to receive comments and questions from both Council members and the general public.

Let me take this opportunity to say that if you agree with this or any other modest proposal, that you take the opportunity to let the Mayor and/or Council know. We can’t be sure they are reading the blog. But, in any event, receiving responses from other than the Gadfly would be a great gauge of public worth. You can find links to email addresses on the Gadfly sidebar.

Two other allied sections in last meeting are worthy of attention too. During public comment Bruce Haines (begin min. 28:15) challenged Council to be more critical of those nominated for city boards, authorities, and commissions, and CW Van Wirt (begin min. 50:12) asked for resumes and contact info for nominees to be provided to Council. The idea from both is to tighten up the oversight.

Thumbs up from Gadfly based on his sense from following the Parking Authority that serving too long on a Board might in some cases be a problem and a sense that some board members are not involved as they should be.

So “take advantage” of the new opportunity afforded you to see your city government in action.

Non-profit food waste creating energy could be a driver for changing minds

My hint was that Bethlehem build and fuel its own plant, not feed Easton’s I apologize for my lack of clarity. I am aware that we live in a wonderful yet somewhat backward place where services like city-provided garbage pickup in fixed routes with automated trucks doesn’t happen. We don’t have self-check machines at our main circulation desk at our library, etc. What we *do* have are big non-profit organizations who often cooperate for the good of the city in which they operate.

I admire the work that Peter and his colleagues are doing to fight the good fight for our region and the world. Non-profit food waste creating energy for the betterment of the entire city could be a driver for changing the minds of more taxpayers, and sooner rather than later.

John Marquette

Charter schools: data to help us think about comparisons with other districts (9)

(9th in a series on Education)

John Marquette is a retired librarian/archivist, author, historian, and a resident of Bethlehem. His current project is focused on the restoration of the interior of the Archibald Johnston Mansion in Housenick Park. 

Data from a Pennsylvania Department Education report
2018-2019 Building Data Report

Here’s an executive summary:

Bethlehem Area School District has 57.92 percent of its students enrolled in the Federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program. The program is a measure of area wealth/poverty some agencies and granting institutions use to apportion funds for educational need.

I have ranked BASD’s three tiers (elementary, middle, and high) by ascending percentage of participation so you see the degree of participation by each school’s catchment area. It’s a good indicator of household income.

Fun fact: Liberty and Freedom are about the same.

Allentown School District has 100 percent of its students enrolled in the program.

To the west of us (and note that Bethlehem is classified as a Northampton County school, entitling residents to NCC resident tuition):

  • Parkland School District, which is partly in the city of Allentown, has 24.59 percent enrolled in the program.
  • Salisbury School District, which abuts Fountain Hill/BASD to the east and Parkland to the west, has 41.17 percent in the program.
  • East Penn School District (Emmaus) has 25.71 percent in the program.
  • The wealth winner is Southern Lehigh School District, with 19.02 percent in the program.

To the question of charter schools: if the superintendents of each of the districts I cited answered the same questions as Dr. Roy (THANK YOU FOR YOUR PROMPTNESS, DR. ROY!!!), what differences would we see in terms of students leaving their districts for charters?

I am a Southern Lehigh graduate (1973) and am proud of the great public education I received. As a resident of Bethlehem, I’m proud of the effort the teachers and administrators make to turn out great graduates. I appreciate their dedication and understand they have challenges far different from what they may have found in classrooms 50 years ago.

John