Giving thanks: to those who sing us into the future

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Let’s end this day with an Ann Hills song, a kind of anthem for our cultural moment.

Gadfly imagines hearing it on the wind as he walks his neighborhood, drives his town this Thanksgiving.


So a dinosaur falls sooner or later,

Shakes the ground, leaves a crater,

A town to fall in, be torn apart

Leavin’ nothin’ but bones and a broken heart.

When the dinosaur lived,

All steel and glory,

It forged the backbone,

Of a nation’s story,

Built city skylines sea to sea,

Nothin’ lasts forever,

That’s our destiny.

Now bones of steel they still are there,

Fossilized in the Lehigh air,

But time is short, it hurries on,

We look ahead as a new day dawns.

When the dinosaur fell, we felt the thunder,

It tried to push this whole town under.

But dreamers work and workers dream,

What may seem lost was soon redeemed.

Both sides of the river, new life is growing,

Restaurants and breweries,

Cleaner water flowing,

Scholars come to teach,

Doctors come to heal,

Families come to farm,

And plant organic fields.

Now the bones of steel they still are there,

Fossilized in the Lehigh air,

But time is short, it hurries on,

We look ahead as a new day dawns.

This valley sings of the men, the women,

Everything once made and all that we’ve been given,

by those long here or by immigrant hands,

we regenerate and restore these lands.

And where the steelstacks stood, there’s music ringin’,

Through the old mill walls, you’ll hear children singin’,

While the old men talk and recall the ways

That the dinosaur lived in the dinosaur days.

But the bones of steel they still are there,

Fossilized in the Lehigh air,

But time is short, it hurries on,

Yeah, we look ahead as a new day dawns.

probably Gadfly’s last post on Festival UnBound — been a great run

Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

Giving thanks: for those who license us to dream

75th in a series of posts on Touchstone Theatre

We have gathered today in the spirit of community to rise up and embrace the  possibilities of our future.

And what amazing possibilities they are.

They shine like a piece of polished Bethlehem steel.

They shine like our lights at Christmas time.

They shine like the Star of Bethlehem itself.

You see, for generations, Bethlehem defined itself through its pride of industry through Bethlehem Steel,

But for the last twenty years we have found so many new ways to define ourselves.

We can be anything we want to be.

We are free to dream.

We are unBound!

In this “Festival UnBound,” we will come together for a week of celebration and exploration.

Celebration of this wonderful community,

And exploration of just what kind of a future we want for ourselves.

Throughout the week we will share our dreams of the future,

and then like. like a message in a balloon,

we will send our dreams out into the world,

because those dreams, our dreams, make a difference!


Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

Giving thanks: for good Bethlehem people

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There was soooo much in Festival UnBound! Here we are two months later, and Gadfly has still not exhausted the file of good things he wanted to share with you. What better time than the day on which we “officially” pause to give thanks to our blessings to bring you some more clips of the wonderful people who participated in the Festival.

Here is the fourth installment showcasing the outstanding Bethlehem women who participated in the panel that followed a performance of “The Secret,” the play about H. D.’s life. Moderator Jennie Gilrain gave the eight panelists about five minutes each to talk about their “dreams, hopes, works” and perhaps to recount a time when they were “encouraged or inspired or discouraged and oppressed from following your music.” Short biographies of these women can be found here.

The Secret

The Secret begins one day, in late nineteenth century Bethlehem, when sixteen year-old, Helen Wolle, mother of H.D., entered a Moravian Seminary classroom to rehearse a song she looked forward to performing. Much to her shock and, in fact, trauma, she was roughly told to be quiet, to end “this dreadful noise” by her pastor grandfather, Papalie. And Helen, who loved to sing so much and so well, would never sing again in public. The focus of the panel will be on women in leadership. We will connect the panel to the play via a question that Mamalie (Hilda’s maternal grandmother) asks Hilda in the beginning of the play, and H.D. asks the audience at the end of the play: “Who will follow the music?” 

Yalitza Corcino-Davis is one of the first women in her family to graduate from college, an uphill battle, for she remembers the family response to her distress at receiving a low first-year college grade to be that it doesn’t matter for she would get married and not use her education. Which broke her heart, especially knowing that her aunt, mother, and grandmother all had “dreams” that they had to give up. Her dean, however, would not sign her drop-out letter, and now, based on her own experience, she works to empower students to succeed in the college environment.

Phyllis Alexander describes coming from a culture so hated that white people sold their houses simply because she and a small group of black students walked by on their way to the predominantly white school. That hate framed her life. She became a civil rights activist at age 14, making a decision to change her environment. The need to resist has been central to her life, and she can point to “allies” that made a difference. A big moment was realizing that she had to resist what she had internalized. So her message: resist that which you have within you that makes you fear the Other.


Festival UnBound
Closed but never forgotten

Councilman Callahan to Mayor Donchez: “Stop hiding . . . Do your job”

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Tip o’ the hat to a follower who pointed out that Councilman Callahan added a comment addressed to the Mayor to this online news story.

“Bethlehem mayor responds to councilman’s call for probe into city department,” 69 News, November 26, 2019.

Mayor Donchez,

I discussed this issue with you verbally and made you aware of the situation and what I had heard several months ago. There was NO response back. Nothing.
Note: At this point it was confidential and strictly between us.

I then asked you to go into Executive Session in the Summer, so that the matter could be dealt with in private with the full Council and both Solicitors present. You Denied it!
Note: It was still confidential and I was trying to address it so that it remained Confidential in Executive Session. You Denied it, not I !

I then sent you a letter on October 17th explaining what I had told you verbally in the Summer. I explained in the letter all of the facts that I know other than the names of the individuals. It is not my job to “out” them. It is your department and your employees. I suggested that your BA Mr. Evans and your Solicitor Mr. Leeson just simply interview the employees in the Dept. to find out the truth.

Your reply back to me in your letter clearly indicated that you were not looking into the issue. You stated to me, ” Your memo of October 21 does not provide sufficient cause to conduct the investigation requested” .

You asked me to produce documents, names, particulars, …….and indicia of corroboration.

Mayor, you know that I, or anyone else on Council has the authority to investigate or interview your department employees or Dept. Head!
Note: At this point it was still Confidential other than President Waldron, Solicitor Spirk on Councils side and Solicitor Leeson, Business Administrator Evans and yourself on the Administration side.

Only after your comments to Council on Nov. 19th that I had somehow “attacked” Ms. Karner, from my council seat, by simply asking a pointed but fair question, it was only then that this issue became public.

Your comments tried to insinuate that my questioning of Ms. Karner was totally meritless, unfounded, unwarranted and out of the blue…..while you knew better!

On November 20, You then sent me a memo asking for me to now come in for a interview with Mr. Leeson and Mr. Evans only because I explained to Mr. Evans that after your comments to Council on Nov. 19th , that I shared all the information that I had with the press. It was then and only then that you wanted to now discuss the issues that I had raised and that I had tried to keep confidential for many months.

I offered you 3 different opportunities to look into the seriousness of the issues that I made you aware of. We would not be in the situation that we are currently in had you simply looked into the allegations months ago when you were first notified. You denied any action all 3 times.

Stop hiding behind your lawyers and advisors and …….Do your job ……..and simply ask the employees in the questioned dept. if there is any truth to the issues that were brought to not only my attention but were also reported by Lehigh Valley Ramblings Blogger Bernie Ohare back in June.

The residents of Bethlehem deserve to know the truth and you are the only one who can guarantee their protection form retribution for telling the truth.

Councilman Bryan Callahan

The Mayor said that he would have a further statement after reviewing Councilman Callahan’s press conference, at which he had a stenographer making an exact transcription. Somebody tell the Mayor that we have a full video of the press conference here on Gadfly.

Some talking points about the issues raised by Councilman Callahan

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Dana Grubb is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem who worked 27 years for the City of Bethlehem in the department of community and economic development, as sealer of weights and measures, housing rehabilitation finance specialist, grants administrator, acting director of community and economic development, and deputy director of community development.


Some quick observations:

1. Bethlehem does need a comprehensive ethics ordinance. (Mr. Callahan opposed that)

2. I’ve heard the same accusations about the DCED director.

3. I’ve heard a number of complaints throughout the community about getting permits.

4. The DCED director should never have lobbied the parking authority board about the RFP choice, at least not privately.

5. The councilman is sure going about this the wrong way.

6. The councilman has been extremely disruptive and confrontational at meetings and blaming the ousting of the zoning officer for his actions/words is very disingenuous. [This City official was fired during the summer, and BC felt the action was wrong and tried to have open discussion about it.]

7. The ousted zoning officer WAS very highly respected throughout the city.

8. There are at least two appearances of conflicts in that RFP process and eventual award. (Mr. Callahan’s brother was involved in that process)

9. I do not believe that the Mayor tried to intimidate the councilman. I’ve known the Mayor since high school, and it is not his personality.


The text of Councilman Callahan’s press conference statement: let the good conversation begin

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Guess where Gadfly spent his lunch hour.

Ok, NOW Gadfly thinks you have all of the info on which to start forming ideas and opinions about Councilman Callahan’s suggestions of possible unethical behavior by the Director of Community Development and his approach to handling this matter.

Here for quicker reference is the text of Councilman Callahan’s press conference statement that we have on video a couple of posts back.

Callahan press conference statement

Please don’t neglect the video, however — a lot of relevant “information” can be picked up from tone and delivery.

And remember that there was a long “Q ‘n A” on video in that post as well, so be sure not to neglect that important portion of the press conference either.

So, indeed, let the good conversation begin.

Important issues here.

And the reputations of Councilman Callahan, Mayor Donchez, and Director of Community Development Karner are out on a limb.