The articles of impeachment

Only once before has Gadfly posted on national doings, preferring to focus just on trying to make a positive impact on Bethlehem, where, perhaps, more things bind us than divide us.

But this is one of those times when we are compelled to look outward.

As always, Gadfly says go to the primary source. Here are the impeachment articles from NPR, without spin or commentary.

Gadfly knows what he’s going to be reading and thinking about this morning.

Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States,
for high crimes and misdemeanors

A pedestrian/biking bridge: “The possible is a big deal”

logo Latest in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability logo

Doug Roysdon is a member of the Bethlehem Pedestrian-Biking Bridge Committee.

A Note on the Pedestrian/Biking Bridge

Like Festival Unbound, the pedestrian/biking bridge project is focused on a unified vision of the future city. At its core is the concept of a wholly contemporary “walking city” serving the needs of a pedestrian and biking population. In a series of public meetings on the bridge, a seemingly unending flow of connections associated with the bridge were advanced by Bethlehem citizens.  Among them are:

Reconnection of the city to its river for environmental and recreational purposes

The creation of a pedestrian cultural hub between Sand Island and the Banana Factory

Joining Historic Bethlehem and the Industrial History Museum — an advanced walking tour of Bethlehem History

Expansion of running and walking marathons, charitable events and city promotions

Social and communal links between Lehigh University and Moravian College

Connecting downtown businesses to South Side attractions

Creating a new, more physical  dimension to Bethlehem tourism

Opening new real estate markets for people dedicated to inner city life

Creating a safe,  environmental corridor from Illick’s Mill to the Greenway for walkers and bikers

Providing a superior walking experience in support of senior living in Bethlehem

Linking downtown festivals to both sides of the river

Creating an exciting new platform for night life in Bethlehem

Promoting the integration of Bethlehem’s diverse cultures

Producing a vital link in the rail trail network of Eastern Pennsylvania

Opening of the river banks to cultural and commercial activity

And more…….

Would a pedestrian/biking bridge make all these good things magically happen? No…..

A pedestrian/biking bridge would  make them possible.  The possible is a big deal.


The Bethlehem Parking Authority asks for detailed proposal from Council on a free parking pilot program

logo 137th in a series of posts on parking logo

The Parking Authority Board meets today: 4PM at their headquarters.

See the memo below: the exec dir did move immediately after the October 23 Board meeting to contact City Council about the free parking pilot program suggested by Councilwoman Van Wirt.

Gadfly — certainly skeptical of BPA’s intention, for the Board has shown noooo interest in such a program — sees the memo as an attempt to stifle the idea with a daunting homework assignment.

He’d have hoped for a meeting of the Board with interested Council members out of which a cooperative plan for a pilot might have emerged.

Of related interest is the provision for free parking in the Northside downtown for the holidays: see

BPA pilot

Our ethics ordinance

logo Latest in a series of posts on Ethics and City Government logo

Gadfly mentioned in a previous post that the Council ethics link had not made the migration from the old City web site to the new one.

Business Administrator Eric Evans has acted to remedy that situation. The link will soon be restored on the Disclosure page.

In the meantime, a follower provided the missing link.


Ordinance passed May 2017.

This was the result of a wider Ethics discussion at that time.

Councilwoman Van Wirt (and others perhaps) talked of returning to that wider discussion during election campaign time earlier this year.

Gadfly would look forward to that conversation.

Recent goings on should have put us in the mood.

How would you like to see our elected officials held accountable if you were drafting a new ordinance?

Lehigh Valley is at a tipping point, says Future report

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

The full version of FutureLV: The Regional Plan can be found at

Gadfly suggests that we try to get our heads around these big ideas that are swirling all around us.

When a major report like this comes out, Gadfly wishes that there was some formal public response from our Administration and our planning people to acknowledge the report, to indicate their involvement in and/or awareness of the process that produced it, but especially what it means specifically for us.

Is a report like this shaping thinking and decisions at City Hall?

Some soundbites:

  • The Lehigh Valley is at a tipping point.
  • The central mission of FutureLV is striking a delicate balance between successful growth and necessary preservation.
  • At the heart of the plan is a “centers and corridors” concept that, essentially, recommends building up what’s already been developed.
  • It directs new development and redevelopment to 57 activity centers where people live, work, shop or play, and the corridors that connect them.
  • It will mean more mixed-use development.
  • The plan includes $2.5 billion in transportation funding for roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks. It’s simply not enough.
  • Ultimately, it means denser centers. Before anyone curses that D word, know that density is a good thing.
  • The thing people liked most about living in the region is its parks, trails and recreation areas, and the number two thing was its farmlands and natural resources. Those things have come to define our character and identity.
  • Our environment has become a key part of our identity.

Becky Bradley, “How to strike a balance between growth and preservation.” Morning Call, December 1, 2019.

The Lehigh Valley is such a successful region that 4,000 to 6,000 more people arrive every year to take advantage of its unique character, beautiful landscape and high quality of life. But how do we preserve all that good, while managing all that growth? Well, we’ve been working on that for close to three years. The result of that work — along with input and ideas from literally thousands of people from across Lehigh and Northampton counties — is FutureLV: The Regional Plan.

FutureLV is a blueprint designed to guide the region to 2045 and beyond. The fact is, the Lehigh Valley is at a tipping point. We’re not only growing fast in people, but we’re developing fast. The e-commerce boom has clearly overheated our warehousing market, but we’re also seeing growing development in almost every area, from commercial to residential to industrial. Even brick and mortar retail development continues, despite the ominous threat of online shopping and the associated “retail apocalypse,” written about by every major financial publication from The Wall Street Journal to Money magazine.

The central mission of FutureLV is striking a delicate balance between successful growth and necessary preservation.

At the heart of the plan is a “centers and corridors” concept that, essentially, recommends building up what’s already been developed. It means taking advantage of the sewer, water, road, gas, electric, technology and building infrastructure that’s already built. It directs new development and redevelopment to 57 activity centers where people live, work, shop or play, and the corridors that connect them. These range from downtown Allentown to Portland’s business district to Madison Farms in Bethlehem Township.

It will mean more mixed-use development where residential, commercial and retail can co-exist, more walkable neighborhoods where pedestrians, bicyclists and people with disabilities don’t feel unsafe crossing an intersection, more bike and bus lanes and a more connected transportation system.

The plan includes $2.5 billion in transportation funding for roads, bridges, trails and sidewalks. It’s simply not enough. We’ve already identified $4 billion in projects that need done, but aren’t funded. So, we’ll have to be creative and efficient in spending the money we have, while working hard to improve that funding picture.

Ultimately, it means denser centers. Before anyone curses that D word, know that density is a good thing. It puts activity and foot traffic where our neighborhoods and businesses need it most. It will also make our public transit network more efficient and, in the long run, might even be the ticket to light rail.

More importantly, it will save us from ourselves. It will keep us from building homes, big box stores and, yes, warehouses on farm fields or open space or along roads where they don’t make sense, economically or otherwise.

So why is saving the environment important to saving the Lehigh Valley? Two reasons out of a thousand: People told us it is, and it adds value to our economy and region as a whole.

In a survey taken by nearly 1,100 residents last year, the thing people liked most about living in the region is its parks, trails and recreation areas, and the number two thing was its farmlands and natural resources. Those things have come to define our character and identity and are why thousands of people every day drive long distances from jobs to get back here.

But more importantly, saving our environment and making the region more resilient makes sense, and dollars and cents. Our Return on Environment report in 2014 showed that our environment — trees, streams, open space and more — returned more than $1 billion a year in value in the form of reduced health care costs, cleaner air and water and in general a more livable environment. The point is, our environment has become a key part of our identity. Saving it is just as important as growing our economy, maintaining our roads and providing every Lehigh Valley resident with an opportunity for a good life.

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

Bethlehem Moment: Mr. Schwab Comes to Bethlehem

logo Latest in a series of posts on Bethlehem Moments logo

Bethlehem Moment 16
City Council
December 3, 2019

Robert W. Bilheimer
General Manager
Industrial Archives & Library


Bethlehem Moment: January 1905

 Mr. President, members of City Council, Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Robert Bilheimer, and I am general manager of the Industrial Archives & Library, a Private Operating Foundation based here in Bethlehem and organized as an independent institution to collect, organize, conserve and preserve industrial records and to make them available for education and research to historians, scholars, and the public.  It’s a pleasure to be here tonight to see so many familiar faces and to present my “Bethlehem Moment.”

I take you back almost exactly 115 years ago.  It’s a chilly day in early January 1905.  A train from New York City pulling a private railcar, The Loretto, slowly pulls into Union Station in South Bethlehem.  And, yes, it’s the borough of South Bethlehem, for Bethlehem is not yet a single unified city.  Just the year before in 1904, the Borough of Bethlehem, Northampton County, had annexed the Borough of West Bethlehem, Lehigh County, but Bethlehem and South Bethlehem were still very much separate communities.  In time, a man on that train would do much to change that, but that was not why he had come to town.

As the train comes to a stop, out of The Loretto steps Charles M. Schwab, his reputation preceding him – at age 19, chief engineer of the Carnegie Steel Works at Braddock, Pa.; general superintendent of the famous Carnegie Edgar Thompson Works at age 27; Bilheimer 2president of Carnegie Steel Company at just 35; and the former first president of this nation’s first billion-dollar corporation, United States Steel Corporation.  He was a titan of industry, one of America’s most distinguished citizens and one of the wealthiest.

Schwab had had a recent falling out with J. P. Morgan, Judge Elbert Gary and the Board at U.S. Steel, and he had come to town to take the reins of a new entity, the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the key asset of which was the Bethlehem Steel Company and its single steel plant in South Bethlehem.  Just one month before, in December of 1904, Schwab had founded Bethlehem Steel Corporation out of the ashes of the failed United States Shipbuilding Corporation, which had included the Bethlehem Steel Company and a handful of shipyards on the East Coast and the famous Union Iron Works in San Francisco – itself the builder of some of America’s earliest steel warships, including Admiral Dewey’s cruiser U.S.S. Olympia and the battleship Oregon.

Call it a bit of Schwab bravado, one-upmanship, or just Schwab’s typical desire to “do something else, yet,” as he liked to say, Schwab was bound and determined to go out and build a bigger and better U.S. Steel – and Bethlehem was his vehicle.  He was very much a man on a mission, and he got started right away.

Concerned that Bethlehem Steel’s fortunes were too closely tied to military contracts – Bethlehem had enjoyed great success as the birthplace of the American defense industry in the late 19th century when it developed America’s first heavy forging complex and supplied all the armor plate, big guns and ordnance for the modern U.S. Navy – Schwab was looking for ways to diversify Bethlehem’s commercial, non-military product line.  He found his answer overseas.

Early in 1905, Schwab secured the rights to the Grey Mill Process, a revolutionary but unproven process developed by Englishman Henry Grey for continuously rolling a wide-flange beam, or structural shape.  Up to that point, structural shapes were rolled in pieces and bolted together, thus limiting their strength and utility.  People in the steel industry said, “Charlie, you’re crazy, it’ll never work.”  Schwab, ever ready for a challenge, believed otherwise and literally bet the company on it.  He said at the time, “boys, if we are going to go bust, we’re going to go bust big.”  Well, it did work, and in 1908, the age of the skyscraper came into its own, right here in Bethlehem.  The sky was now the limit and Bethlehem became the “go to” for structural steel and construction engineering expertise for the next 90 years.

Also in the crowd that day to welcome Schwab to Bethlehem was a young engineer and a rising star at Bethlehem Steel, Eugene G. Grace.  An 1899 graduate of Lehigh University, Bilheimer 3Grace joined Bethlehem Steel that year as a crane operator, making $1.80 per day.  By the time Schwab arrived in Bethlehem, Grace had advanced to superintendent of yards and transportation.  Grace’s abilities quickly caught Schwab’s eye, and like the young Charlie Schwab at Carnegie Steel, Eugene Grace began a meteoric rise at Bethlehem Steel.

After a stint in Cuba reorganizing Bethlehem’s iron ore mines there and successfully directing the development of the Grey Mill project, Grace advanced in rapid succession to general superintendent of the Bethlehem Plant in 1906 and then general manager in 1908.  By 1911 he was named a vice president and director of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, president of Bethlehem Steel Company in 1913 and then president of Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1916, where he effectively ran the corporation for the next 41 years.

Schwab would slowly recede from the day-to-day management of the company and would die in 1939 and Grace would become chairman in 1945.  But Schwab and Grace, two of this country’s greatest industrialists would together build one of the most remarkable and significant industrial organizations of the 20th century.

Before he even bought a home here, Schwab spent six months living and working twenty hours a day out of his private railcar to get the new company started.  And, with Grace’s help, together they took a single-plant money-losing steel company and built it into the second largest steelmaker in the country and the largest shipbuilder in the world through two World Wars and into the 1950s.

Dubbed “The Arsenal of Democracy” and arguably America’s most important defense contractor through both World Wars, Bethlehem’s industrial output was staggering.  Bethlehem built nearly 3,000 ships during that period, including 1,121 alone in World Bilheimer 4War II in what was the largest and most diverse shipbuilding campaign in world history.  Mr. Grace pledged that Bethlehem would build a ship-a-day by the end of the war – and delivered — with an amazing 380 in 1943!  Bethlehem’s shipyards also repaired and/or converted an astounding 30,000 other ships during World War II.

Coming out of Bethlehem shipyards in the 20th Century were warships and commercial vessels of every class and size including America’s first aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Lexington and six other Essex Class carriers, six battleships, scores of heavy cruisers, light cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, troopships, auxiliaries, landing craft, tankers and super tankers, America’s first Liberty Ship – the S.S. Patrick Henry, cruise liners, America’s first nuclear-powered surface warship, the U.S.S. Long Beach and eventually, off-shore oil rig platforms.

It was quite a record.  But that’s only part of the story!  For not only did Bethlehem Steel play a pivotal role in defending this country, but it also helped build the very landscape Bilheimer 5of our modern world and the infrastructure to transport its citizens.  Out of Bethlehem’s mills came such landmark structures — many also fabricated and erected by its diverse workforce – as The Golden Gate Bridge, The George Washington Bridge, The Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridges in Philadelphia, The Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Plaza, Madison Square Garden and The Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., Los Angeles City Hall and the locks of the Panama Canal.

Mr. Schwab and Bethlehem Steel also played a key role here at home, with Schwab’s instrumental role in merging the two boroughs into our modern City of Bethlehem in 1917 and his leadership in linking the two sides of the river via the Hill-to-Hill Bridge.  And you don’t have to look any further than Bethlehem’s magnificent public water system to see one of the many, many large and small ways that the company has touched our community.

Bethlehem was not just another steel company under founder Charles Schwab’s tutelage.  Bethlehem Steel was a paragon of American industry that helped touch society and shape our country in many diverse ways, perhaps none grander than playing a central role in winning World War I.  Proof is in the words of David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of Great Britain, who after the war said, “Charles Schwab was the first American to help us.  He gave us the necessary equipment to continue the war to a successful ending for the Allies.”

And it all started that day, when Mr. Schwab came to Bethlehem.

Thank you!

About the Industrial Archives & Library

Established in 2015, the Industrial Archives & Library (IAL), is a 501(c)(3), private operating foundation located in Bethlehem, Pa., organized as an independent institution to collect, organize, conserve and preserve industrial records and to make them available for education and research to historians, scholars, and the public.  Current holdings include records relating to banking, slate quarrying, coal mining, silk and textiles, steel, shipbuilding, transportation and railroads.  IAL also houses an oral history program and offers repository services for corporate and industrial records.

“Preserving Historical Records for the Ages”

For More Information: Robert W. Bilheimer, General Manager, Industrial Archives & Library (610) 868-1115

Bilheimer 1


Is Gadfly the only one who didn’t know we have a City hotline?

logo The latest in a series of posts on the City web site logo

Gadfly was startled when President Waldron called attention to a City hotline during the Council meeting last week.

A hotline?!

See the Controller page of the City web site.

Never knew.

Sounds like it may be a recent addition, for the text reads, “Our office is pleased to announce the activation of a hotline for the City of Bethlehem.”

It’s purpose: “This hotline will be for all tips from employees and residents of the city, as well as any other interested parties concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of the city government.”

Now this hotline is not for our day-to-day problems — potholes and the like.

We have the Service Center for that kind of stuff. Gadfly hasn’t used the Service Center yet but will gradually get to it as he familiarizes himself with the new web site.

Given the function of a Controller, Gadfly figures this hotline — on which you can be anonymous if you want — is the place to report matters like waste, improper behavior by City personnel, and illegality in fiscal matters.

But President Waldron spoke if it as useful for a variety of matters like the employee disgruntlement about permit issuance we have been following lately.

In any event, Gadfly didn’t know about this hotline and figured if he didn’t, you might not know either.

Sounds like a good thing, an important thing to be aware of.

Gadfly will put a link to it on the right-hand sidebar.

Just one thing. Isn’t the hotline kind of buried there on the Controller page? If you had something to report and were looking for a place to do it, would you look there?

Gadfly wonders if the hotline presence and existence shouldn’t be more prominently displayed up front on the web site.

He can think of a reason why not to make it more visible in that way but for now thinks the positive effect would outweigh the potentially negative.