Diversity at City Hall: “Who’s sitting in the decision table?”

logo 68th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre logo

Hidden Seed: Bethlehem’s Forgotten Utopia

“In the first two decades, the Moravians built a racially integrated city.”
(Seth Moglen)

When you hear “a Priest, a Rabbi, and a Minister walk into a bar,” prepare for a joke.

When you hear a Latino man, an African American woman, and a White woman are discussing diversity, prepare for an indictment.

Such happened in the middle of the panel discussion following the “Hidden Seed” performance during Touchstone Theatre’s Festival UnBound.

“Who’s sitting in the decision table?” asked LM, “if you don’t have the diversity in the decision table, it’s no diversity at all.” “Take, for example, the City Hall here in Bethlehem, ok,” followed AAW, “tell us about the diversity in City Hall [pause], there’s hardly any diversity in City Hall. . . . It’s all white most of the time. . . . So when you’re talking about how can we change our city, well, I think our City Hall needs to be reflective of the people, the composition should include the people of the community. . . . It is very, very, very Anglo.” “And very male,” adds WW, “many times I’m in the room, I’m the only female in the room in City Hall. . . . I get very tired having to explain that I think differently . . . I entertain ideas differently, and it’s almost that I got to justify. . . . It is absolutely an unconscious bias. . . . In the business community, in government, it’s a challenge.”

Short exchange, long in ramification.

Elections are on Gadfly’s mind today as you can see from the previous two posts.

Some random thoughts to chew on as we think about the role future elections play in furthering the goal of a more diverse city:

  • Should diversity start at the top?
  • What would a photo of the Mayor’s staff meeting show?
  • Are we getting close to a woman mayor?
  • We have three female councilpersons — a record number?
  • Can we imagine more, even a totally female Council?
  • We have Latino representation on Council — sufficient?
  • Has there ever been an African American on Council?
  • Has there ever been an African American running for Council?
  • Does a range, a balance of race and gender and heritage in our elected officials matter?

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

Gadfly election exercise

logo 2nd in a series of new posts on candidates for election logo

Election Day Tuesday November 5!

You know how Gadfly feels about participation — BE THERE!

But, frankly, Gadfly, whose focus is narrowly on Bethlehem, is not the whirling dervish he was for the primary in May.

No mayoral election. No “real” Council election. No competition for these seats. No local  choices there to be made.

Yep, yep, other important races — my phone is blowing up, my mail box stuffed with flyers, my front door a bulletin board for canvassing candidates.

But Gadfly just doesn’t feel all that engaged.

What to do?

Gadfly reminds you that Council is a likely pool for mayoral candidates in the next election, and, in any event, current Council members are likely to want to keep going on in their positions.

So we should always be paying attention, always gathering information.

Let’s remember that the soon-to-be-automatically-elected Council members did a very remarkable thing for the primary (that “very” is redundant, dammit, you should know better, Gadfly).

Successful candidates Colon, Reynolds, Van Wirt, and Crampsie Smith wrote 8 mini-essays — one each week — in response to Gadfly prompts in the run-up to the election.

Well, unsuccessful candidates Carpenter and Saltzer — Gadfly hopes you remember them and their energetic efforts — did that same very remarkable thing too. Tip o’ the hat to them, for sure.

Gadfly is still humbled by that amazing totally voluntary cooperation.

The goal was to get beyond stump speeches and sound bites and to help voters be much better informed about candidate positions when it came time to vote.

And feedback indicated to Gadfly that followers appreciated the effort that the candidates put in.

So let’s remember those probably sweated-over mini-essays.

But let’s go a step further.

Let’s literally refresh ourselves on their words, see how we feel about them now, and let’s hold those successful City Council candidates to those words.

Say it. Mean it.

No coasting down Victory Lane.

So here’s what Gadfly is suggesting for an election exercise.

He will compile and re-publish the 8 mini-essays for each soon-to-be-elected running unopposed City Council candidate one at a time over the next 4 days, beginning today.

You have the recent 5-month context as a point of reference for these three incumbents re-elected: Colon, Reynolds, Van Wirt.

Followers know that the Gadfly blog has much information on these three incumbents from their activity on Council, and Gadfly has been urging you to pay attention.

You are not obliged to vote for all three on Tuesday.

If you like what an individual’s been doing, vote twice for him or her (just k-i-d-d-i-n-g!).

If you have some reservation on one or more, withhold your vote accordingly.

You are not obliged to vote for all three.

I’m sure the candidates will be looking at total numbers as well as numbers from specific wards and comparing them to projections in this “off” year.

You might be able to use your vote to send a message.

Either I like what you’re doing. Or — ha! — you’d better shape up.

Get the idea.

Make your vote or lack thereof count.

Make this “dead” local Council election interesting for you.

Re-assess.

Mentally make the candidates still earn your vote.

Scrutinize again what they presented on Gadfly during primary time.

Alphabetical order.

Michael Colon coming up!

Vote!
Election Day
Tuesday November 5

How ’bout that new City web site?

logo The latest in a series of posts on City government logo

https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/

City web

Been two weeks since Gadfly posted that the new City web site went “live.”

Gadfly can imagine that there were “bugs” no matter how much the tech wizards pre-tested and that it will take a little time for things to run completely smoothly.

Been there, done that.

So he has refrained asking for immediate follower commentary.

But it is getting about that time.

Gadfly wishes he had a volunteer crew to divvy up the site and go deep on individual sections, compiling helpful commentary for us as users of the site and also helpful commentary for the behind-the-scenes guys — what’s good, what needs work.

So he does herewith and now invite you to go deep on a section or sections, take notes, and report to Gadfly.

What is there to like and that we all should know about? And what are the places where there’s work to be done?

Gadfly will compile worthy material, organize it, and forward to City Hall.

Constructive comments, please.

But Gadfly will say immediately that he is disappointed about one big thing.

Almost the first problem that Gadfly noticed at the beginning of his novitiate year was the difficulty for the public in finding out about meetings.

His very first public comments at Council meetings had to do with the desirability of a master “calendar” of all meetings (City Council, the ABC’s, etc.).

Gadfly imagined an online calendar, month by month, that would contain meetings for each day (time, location) with a link to an agenda if one were available.

He believes he remembers being told that one was in the works.

Apparently not.

Now perhaps that’s a “huger” technical project than the ol’ professor who was known as “Edward Scholarhands” for his technical and mechanical ineptitude imagines.

And it would need a good detail person to stay on top of it to make it effective, maybe an additional personnel slot. Can you see the ad for a “Calendar-Keeper”!

Two strikes.

But Gadfly wonders if there isn’t something commercially available. Follower Holland had (has?) a prototype using Google calendar.

Such a master calendar need not be restricted to “business” — it could be a master list, a one-stop resource for all different kinds of City-sponsored events.

It would be “the” place to go to see what’s going on in the City on a day or a future period of time.

Gadfly just feels that a core, unified tool like that would be a tremendous practical as well as symbolic resource for people who want to participate in city government.

And, by the way, was there ever any kind of report on the Communication Survey that was done by the City some months back now?

Gadfly was looking for that.

https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/

Call for volunteers: new round of Bethlehem Moments

logoLatest in a series of posts on Bethlehem Momentslogo

The stories we tell shape the lives we lead
(Gadfly)

A whole bunch of Gadfly followers have kicked ass on their Bethlehem Moments, and now Gadfly is ready to take names for the first season of Moments in 2020.

If you need a refresher on the Moments done or the purpose and procedures for these snapshots of our history, look at the last post in this series and the other posts as well. See Bethlehem Moments on the sidebar.

Johanna has broken the 2020 ice. Lots of dates still available.

Reach Gadfly though “Contact” on the top page of the blog or at ejg1@lehigh.edu.

There is no crying in baseball, no bashfulness in Gadball. Let’s hear from you.

Jan 7: Johanna Brams

Jan 21:

Feb 4

Feb 18

Mar 3:

Mar 17:

Apr 7:

Apr 21:

May 5:

May 19:

Jun 2:

Jun 16:

Without a shared history, we are not a true community
(Gadfly)

The Co-Opers support their $$$$ request

logoThe latest in a series of posts on City governmentlogo

Bethlehem Food Co-Op

At the Community Development Committee first-step grant giving Monday night only supporters of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op spoke.

Elliott Nolter advised us that the Co-Op now has over 660 members and is close to negotiation for a site.

Kathy Fox talked of the benefits the Co-Op will have on the wider environment, for example, sustainable farming practices and sustainability in general; a chance to aid in the restoration of our soil, air, and water; reducing food waste; providing educational opportunities; and the like.

Nathan Carpenter spoke of the Co-Op as people-focused community development and pointed to economic (the money spent here stays here) and social (addressing the basic question of how do you feed a community from every socioeconomic class) benefits, pointing out his positive experience with such Co-Ops in various other places he has lived.

All good stuff from the Co-Opers — Gadfly, as you know, loves these community voices — but as we will see next, a serious question arose about government financial support for such an organization.

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