Touchstone Theatre ensemble member Mary Wright has been guiding a group of survivors and advocates in creating poetry, artwork, stories, and music.
This event is part of the Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Awareness week. LVAT week is a seven-day awareness campaign. In 2019 the executives of Lehigh and Northampton counties declared the first full week of November as Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Week. The campaign provides an opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities, and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.
The Lehigh Valley Anti-Trafficking Collaborative is composed of several social justice organizations dedicated to fighting the fight on the front lines. The founding organizations of the Collaborative include Aspire to Autonomy, Bethlehem Rotary, Bloom Bangor, Crime Victims Council, LVHN Street Medicine, Marsy’s Law, Truth For Women, VAST (The Valley Against Sex Trafficking), and Valley Youth House.
NOT for SALE was originally planned as a live performance at TouchStone Theatre — was moved to digital due to COVID-19.
A week or two ago (see link above) Gadfly wrote about the closing of the Morning Call newsroom and the consequent importance of local newspapers like the Bethlehem Press, as well as blogs like Gadfly and other citizen journalism efforts.
Since 2001, 2000 mostly local newspapers have folded.
But somebody will always find a way to make a buck out of somebody else’s trouble.
As local news collapses, a secretive network has risen to take its place.
First, Timpone found a way to market his ability to supply local news to major legacy operations like the Chicago Tribune that were cutting costs. For instance, the Tribune fired its community news staff, and Timpone filled the void by free-lance writers, even from the Philippines, writing under false bylines. The “meat and potatoes” local news of school board meetings, police reports, high school graduations, and etc. was not written locally but supplied by Timpone’s network of writers.
Outsourcing local news. Crazy.
This effort failed when his clients learned how he was doing it.
So, second phase.
Timpone bought up local news outlets and started supplying what looked like local news but was actually content ordered by his clients, often politicians or political campaigns (e.g., Senator Collins and Graham).
The clients would tell what to write, who to interview, what slant to take, etc., etc.
Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder
The subject’s name was Walter Wallace.
Gadfly’s been holding off on commenting on this recent incident that he referenced at the Thursday Committee of the Whole meeting, waiting for the official press conference. That’s not scheduled till next Wednesday now. Long time a’coming. Gadfly suggests that you read along in the meantime, though, for you will recognize now classic issues that he feels we should be discussing locally.
Something to think about if you are out and around exercising on this chilly day.
One afternoon last week Gadfly was on the Saucon Trail counting people of color. Between Walnut St. and Upper Saucon Park and back, he counted 51 people, 51 people on the trail of which 6 were people of color. Now you must read on to find out what that rather odd tabulating behavior was all about.
Followers will recognize that Gadfly is totally in to the national reckoning with race triggered by the death of George Floyd. He feels there is nothing more important at this cultural moment. (Well, besides who our next president is!)
He is, in fact, a bit obsessed with thinking about race. It’s what makes him irritable with the lack of urgency regarding discussions of public safety he perceives in the City Administration and City Council, as you will also recognize.
But the local institutions — NCC, BAPL, HCLV, Touchstone, etc., etc. — feed that obsession. You’ve seen him several times extol the programs and resources on race and racism that have sprung into existence in the last 6-7 months.
We are blessed to have them. It says a lot about the quality of town we are.
So Gadfly is a victim of the opportunities to learn presented to him.
The pandemic-caused changes in our life-styles and work-styles have precipitated a surge in the use of our outdoor natural resources, like the parks and trails.
And we have a local wealth of those natural resources on which to draw as you can well see, for instance, if you trace the photographic Facebook footprints of follower Dana Grubb. Dana has worn out at least three GIS devices over the past pandemic months! And the visual record of his travels is stunning.
Think of the Monocacy Way. Think of the D&L Trail. Think of the Greenway that is being extended to Saucon Park over the next year. Think of ongoing plans for a pedestrian bridge. Think of things like that.
These are natural resources that make Bethlehem and the surrounding Lehigh Valley a wonderful place to live.
But Gadfly was surprised to learn that people of color might not feel so comfortable or welcome — “included” — in these spaces.
During the “Race and Space” program, Gadfly learned of a study done by Lafayette’s Prof Andrea Armstrong based on a survey of 500 users in which one of the questions she answers is “Does race affect feelings of belonging on the D&L Trail?”
And the answer is not all that good: “we . . . found that people of color feel less included among trail users than white people when controlling for things like age, gender, and types of trail use (like biking or walking).”
Gadfly thinks of the enjoyment of nature available to all. Gadfly thinks of the enjoyment of the trails available to all.
Gadfly thinks that nature is open, that everybody should feel comfortable on the trails.
Maybe not so.
In her presentation during the program, Prof Armstrong said, “There is a very stark difference between how included people of color felt on the trail and how white people felt. The people of color did not feel as welcome, did not feel as included, and did not communicate with other people as part of their community on the trail as often as white people do. And so we really saw this stark finding as a sign that this history of racism and this history of exclusion from environmentalism is alive in the Lehigh Valley.”
Now that’s jaw-dropping.
Specters of Jim Crow.
Not “Whites Only” bathrooms or seats on a bus or sections of a restaurant, but a feeling among some people of color of “Whites Only” recreational trails. Some people of color feel that in walking or riding there they are intruding on white space.
Now hold your disbelief you white people out there until you hear the next post on this subject.
Gadfly thinks more surprises are in store.
So Gadfly was out on Saucon Trail counting people of color. Not many there that day. Surprisingly low, in fact, when I took notice. Which just might be a result of the location of this particular trail relative to where people of color live. Or it might just have been a bad day. But, in any event, the point of Prof Armstrong’s study was not about the number of people of color on the trail but how welcome those using the trail felt.
Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem
Gadfly proposes that we think of this song as a kind of anthem for the Lehigh Valley
and that we start every morning with it.
We’re in for a rough week. Divisive election. Rising virus. Falling stocks. On the front page of Friday’s Morning Call we find these headlines: “State prepared for civil unrest” and “Another day with more than 2k cases.” Not a wonderful day in the neighborhood. Let’s hang together, gang.
“Lehigh Valley be Free” is the work of the Lehigh Valley Song Project that premiered at Touchstone Theatre’s “Songs of Hope & Resistance” event on July 24.
SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS
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“We mustn’t abandon the promise of unity. We mustn’t abandon the promise of the hidden seed . . . The hidden seed is planted in every generation because those who want justice keep it alive . . . We did it . . . and now we are here to pass it on.”
Three 18th century female Bethlehem ghosts — a formerly enslaved West African woman, a Native American woman, and one of the original Moravian immigrants from Europe — agree to tell everything, the whole story of the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem not just the happy parts, without lying.
Yes, everything . . . the whole story . . . not just the happy parts . . . without lying.
“They [we in the audience] will only understand if you tell them the whole story, the whole truth.”
Like about Gnadenhutten, the Moravian Massacre.
Do you know Gnadenhutten?
96 Christian Native Americans killed at the Moravian Mission of Gnadenhutten, skulls crushed with mallets to save bullets.
This anguished cry of a distraught Native American teller cracks the smooth surface of pious Moravian history.
So, everything . . . the whole story . . . not just the happy parts . . . without lying.
Did you know there was slavery in Bethlehem?
Our rather matter-of-fact African American teller bluntly pierces the “miracle” of good treatment rationalized by the European with the hypocrisy of “You believed you could own us.”
“The seeds of our failure were sown side-by-side with our dreams.”
So much for Utopia. Maybe best that it be forgotten.
Or is the hidden seed of equality and unity still available to us?
Remember that we are taking our time to listen to the guy who created Black Lives Matter Lehigh Valley (not affiliated with the national organization).
Since GeorgeFloyd Gadfly has been trying to see the world through the eyes of those who feel aggrieved by the police. For understanding. For empathy.
Gadfly asks that you listen to the audio clips to gain a sense of the person that tone gives.
Remember too that the Gadfly text is just quick paraphrase and summary, not exact transcription.
Did you have an encounter with the counter-protestors? Did you have a confrontation or even a peaceful interaction? (5 mins.)
There was a counter-protest in Pen Argyl, and it was hard not to have an emotional response to them. Because they don’t like your skin color or believe that you have any value. They believe that black lives do not matter. It’s hard. In Allentown there was a counter-protest on the other side of City Hall. We tried to start a conversation with some of them, but “a protest is not the place for that.” Emotions and feelings are too high. At Emmaus there were two men with rifles. “Why are we bringing rifles to a park with children?” I’m not against gun rights, but “what is the point” of that? A means of intimidation. A fear tactic. In my eyes that’s the Klan. That’s what Black and Brown people equate it to. The Klan. Counter-protests are very often populated by people outside the community. Some people equate protest with deviance. In Palmerton there was a lot of online agitation about Antifa and etc. I’m not part of any of that. People try to get you in an a-ha moment. So that’s not the time and place for us to engage with them.
What advice do you have for people who want to get involved? First-time activists, maybe afraid. (2 mins.)
The great thing is that there are many lanes to run in, many ways to participate. Actual protesting, sharing live-stream on social media, writing to elected official. Activism isn’t restricted to protesting. Activism comes in many forms.
Did you have the experience of first-time people feeling empowered? (2 mins.)
Yes, we have the experience of people having an epiphany during discussion of defunding and etc., walking away feeling better, and then communicating with others. But some people left the Palmerton protest feeling broken from the counter-protestors. The racism, the violence. You can see in the pictures a girl physically scared and children crying. A great amount of hate out there, and that was accepted by the police.
Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder
As usual, Gadfly is keeping his eye on what is happening around us. Note new programs cooking in Allentown relevant to the issues that we have been talking about. Our new budget is due out c. November 13 or 16. No dates for budget meetings have been announced to the public yet. There was talk early on of having discussions of possible changes in public safety before budget season. Those discussions have not really occurred, so Gadfly assumes the police budget here in Bethlehem, for example, will be simply more of the same.
Allentown’s top cop on Wednesday made a case that the best way to reduce crime and improve community relations is to further invest in the police department.
During an hour long budget presentation to City Council, police Chief Glenn Granitz Jr. detailed a number of initiatives the department plans to tackle in 2021 related to community engagement, enhanced training and crisis intervention. He also shared statistics indicating violent crime has fallen for the ninth time in 10 years, and argued that the police force has played an active role in the overall crime drop.
A majority of council members heaped praise on the department in an hours’ worth of follow-up questions, while council members Ce-Ce Gerlach and Joshua Siegel urged Granitz to more ambitiously pursue equitable policies and combat institutional racism. Councilman Ed Zucal, who ran the meeting, suggested their comments weren’t relevant to the budget hearing.
There has been much discussion in Allentown and beyond on how law enforcement agencies can more effectively address the growing number of people struggling with addiction or mental health issues. Granitz and Assistant Chief Charlie Roca provided details on the department’s partnership with Treatment Trends Inc., certified recovery specialists connecting those struggling with addiction with helpful resources. The chief touted the success of Lehigh County’s Blue Guardian program, launched in 2018, in which officers and recovery specialists make follow-up visits with individuals who suffered a drug overdose and encourage them to seek treatment.
Allentown police also work with a Pinebrook Family Answers’ community intervention specialist to connect people to mental health resources. Granitz hopes to fund at least one additional “mental health liaison” in the coming year.
About 40% of city police officers have undergone crisis intervention training led by mental health providers and family advocates, and Granitz said he’s committed to having the entire force complete the training in 2021. The department is also improving its field training program to more accurately measure officers’ performance and progress, and to introduce a leadership component preparing officers for future supervisory roles.
In addition, officers will undergo “active bystandership” training provided by the Georgetown University Law Center. Allentown was one of the first 30 police departments in the nation selected for the program, which provides officers with tactics to intervene and prevent misconduct by their peers.
The police department will also partner with Cedar Crest College to measure whether its crisis intervention training and partnerships with community intervention specialists are curbing repeat behavioral health emergency calls and police use-of-force incidents.
Granitz said, “If we are going to do something, I want to do it well. … Does it have an appreciative effect on our officers’ use of force? Are they better able to de-escalate using this model? Or after a few years of study, do we need to make a change?”
The proposed 2021 budget does not include a formal community policing program, but department leaders are working toward it. Granitz is eliminating a captain position and creating an additional sergeant position focused on community policing. He has also met with former department leaders involved in the neighborhood police program that was phased out in the early 2000s, and wants to establish a “center for police innovation and community engagement” to figure out the best approach.
Gerlach said she was looking forward to examining more crime data trends related to race, ethnicity and gender. She also asked Granitz what the department was doing, amid ongoing civil unrest over police misconduct, to root out policies that have a disparate impact on minorities.
Despite Zucal, a retired police sergeant, arguing that it wasn’t a “budget-related question,” Granitz answered, saying he has fired a number of subpar officers over the past year, increased mandatory training and invited the city’s human resources and legal teams to scrutinize hiring practices, department policies and operational procedures.
Siegel urged the department to reconsider its membership with the National Rifle Association, which Granitz said provides training to city firearms instructors.
“I always like to consider what the underlying ideology and intention is, and [the NRA] are a little bit more ‘defend yourself at all costs’ than I’m comfortable with,” Siegel said.
“With all due respect, let’s stick to the budget,” Zucal said.
Siegel also pressed the department to consider handing off the first response to behavioral health and substance abuse calls as it continues to build partnerships with intervention and recovery specialists. He also requested the department to pursue the community service officer program developed in San Jose that has civilian employees, who are armed only with pepper spray, handle traffic issues and other lower-priority calls.
Siegel and Gerlach, elected to council last year, have said the city should reallocate some police funding toward addressing social inequities that they believe drive crime — like a lack of affordable housing, treatment services and recreational opportunities for youth.
Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder
The subject’s name was Walter Wallace.
Gadfly has refrained from extended comment on this October 26 incident — which he referenced centrally in his brief comments at City Council last night — waiting for a major press conference and a sense that all (or most!) of the relevant facts are in. Gadfly suggests you read what’s available for now and begin to gather your thoughts.
Gadfly invites suggestions for other news sources to read:
See previously distributed meeting documents through the link above.
Here is a quite interesting and informative document — a comprehensive list of Police Department community programs, collaboration with other city departments, and collaboration with outside organizations — just made available this afternoon.
Gadfly likes this. An audit of bridges to the world outside the Police Department designed to provide evidence of trust-building, community-building activities.
But not all the bullets are about current activity.
For instance, this bullet under the Health Department heading jumps out at Gadfly as a new activity:
Social worker/police collaboration
o Pilot program being implemented this November
o Will consist of a social worker from the Health Department working closely with members of the police department to ensure that community members have access to the social service programs/resources they need
o This collaboration will also result in members of the police department receiving yearly training in areas such as de-escalation, emotional and social intelligence, and crisis intervention
Now the narrative for tonight’s meeting is taking shape!
He has latched on to the goal of the CEI in these words: “The Community Engagement Initiative is [about] looking at the ways that we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.”
(Those are Councilman Reynolds’ words in his verbal explanation of the CEI at, m’thinks, the July 7 City Council meeting in which this CEI resolution with Councilwoman Crampsie Smith was adopted. Councilman Reynolds is a man of high ideals, but Gadfly worries that he might be making too much of what might just have been rhetorical exuberance on the Councilman’s part. That’s a helluva goal. “Audaciously ambitious.” Maybe not practical. Maybe no way achievable. Maybe not a platform a politician could run on. But Gadfly would like to hold the Councilman to his words if he could. They are good words. The best.)
Councilman Reynolds contemplates two types of meetings as part of a CEI. (The first type perhaps is the one occurring tonight.)
Let’s focus on the second one, the one centered on meetings initiated by and managed by community organizations.
Gadfly has already virtually floated an alternative version of going about these meetings rather than waiting in a passive manner for such meetings to pop up. For time is passing and nothing has been announced yet.
Briefly, Gadfly would suggest that “we” take charge of initiating the meetings. The resolution itself has a list of topics/areas in which we would like meetings. We already know what needs to be talked about. So we approach appropriate community groups and stimulate meetings. Say we know that the homeless issue needs to be worked on. We approach an appropriate group — who? — New Bethany? — to host a meeting on the homeless. We ask them to discuss the question “What can the city do to help advance your goal of caring for the homeless?” We ask for an action item to work on. Then we go about our anti-racist work.
Otherwise, it seems to Gadfly “like sands through the hourglass are the days of our lives.”
No, you say, our attack on systemic racism can wait.
After all, as Gadfly has learned in the BAPL “Courageous Conversations” webinar (a little knowledge is a dangerous thing), the “inaugural defense of African slave-trading, the first European book on the Africans in the modern era” was Gomes Eanes de Zuara’s The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea in 1453. Nearly 600 years ago. Virulent (is there any other kind, Gadfly?) racism has been in the soulstream of Western Civilization for nearly 600 years. One guesses waiting a few more months to begin an attack on it is of little matter. One guesses the objects of systemic racism can wait a little bit longer. No hurry.
And, after all as well, Gadfly, at age 80, admits to being impatient, for his time is on a short leash. His meter is running at a faster rate than probably all of his followers except one. Ha! He simply would like to hear local anti-racist progress read to him in Town Hall rather than over him at Fairview Cemetery. (Got a plot, Roy?)
At the end of the “Racial Justice” program yesterday a message went quickly by announcing a “Trust Building with Law Enforcement” program at the Hispanic Center in April. Wow! Terrific! But when was that again? April. April. Another 5-6 months. And last Monday we added another name to the reasons for a “trust building” program — Walter Wallace. The list will no doubt grow by April.
Which brings Gadfly back to the Hispanic Center session with Dr. Roy yesterday morning that triggered this missive.
The subject was increasing diversity in the BASD teaching staff. The students spoke of feeling more comfortable if there were more teachers of color. Reasonable. But Dr. Roy spoke of the difficulty in recruiting. It’s not always an “easy sell,” said the good doctor, to convince, say, a teacher of color from Philadelphia that “this is a good place to live.” We need “to sell the Lehigh Valley” to them, he said, we must tell them what’s here for them, we must tell them “as a young person of color here are groups for you to connect with, things for you to do.” And apparently what we are, what we have is not working.
Now that kind of hit Gadfly — old white guy, proud of his town, thinking of all the apartments and parking garages we’re building — right between the eyes. We have a beautiful historic Northside downtown, right? Many, many people want to live here, right? Dr. Roy made me see Bethlehem through the eyes of a young, top-notch teacher of color from an area where he or she has an established professional cultural network. Why would he or she want to come here? What do we have to offer that person in the way of a place to live, a place to sink roots? Dr. Roy seems to indicate that can be a hard sell. Gadfly had never thought of it that way, never looked at it through a “colored” lens.
(If Gadfly is not mistaken, Sharon Brown made a similar point about the presence of Blacks in Bethlehem at the “Poets and Troubadors” session of last year’s Festival UnBound at Godfrey Daniels.)
So, suppose “we” stimulated a meeting with BASD and asked “What can the city do to help advance your anti-racist goals so important for the education of our children?” Give us an action item. And suppose the answer was the BASD has a hard time recruiting teachers of color, and could the city throw a modicum of the kind of energy and resources we do to attract businesses and developers into attracting teachers of color? Could we have a city goal to increase the number of teachers of color as part of our goal to end systemic racism and increase equity in the city? Could we show those bright young educators that the city as a whole, as a moral institution is serious about this diversity business? Ok, and then we go about our anti-racist work.
Sure, maybe a dumb example, but maybe you get the idea.
(In fact, Gadfly thinks even bigger and dumber than that. Councilman Reynolds has schooled us several times on the reason why there are so few Blacks in Bethlehem — exclusionary employment policies of Bethlehem Steel in the old days. What about a plan to reverse that misguided policy, a plan to encourage more Black families to live here as a step toward having a more truly multi-cultural city, a paradigm of racial harmony? Ha! Calm down Gadfly, calm down. Get back on your meds. You have no credibility as it is.)
The Gadfly simply does not sense the urgency to do something meaningful as part of the national reckoning with race triggered by the murder of George Floyd.
Gadfly attended an interesting meeting yesterday about a pilot “Handling with Care” program involving our police department in which law enforcement officers are encouraged to advise the schools of children who have been involved in any sort of trauma, so that the schools can be on the lookout for any problems and are ready to provide care. No details of the traumatic event are given to the schools. And nothing goes on a student’s record. And so the “Handle with Care” report is not about students who have committed crimes but, for instance, can be about students who have witnessed traumatic events that might have an effect on their behavior or progress in school work.
Here Bethlehem Officer Robert Nicholson explains the program (7 mins.)
Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative
Virtual Health Equity Summit: Racial Justice for Stronger Communities Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley October 27 2020
Gadfly has remarked more than once at the wealth of local events and resources available to us in this post GeorgeFloyd period of national reckoning with race.
Yesterday was a great Gadfly day in that regard.
In the morning was the Hispanic Center event and at night another of BAPL’s “Courageous Conversations” moderated by Rayah Levy.
There were three parts to the HCLV event: Systemic Racism in K-12 Education, The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Communities of Color, and Understanding Colorism within the Hispanic Community.
Gadfly learned from them all, but he is just going to focus here on the education one with Dr. Roy and students Xenise Price and Dayanara Marrero-Allen since it is more related to topics we’ve been discussing here on the blog.
Dr. Roy is always a good interview.
Gadfly planned to just excerpt a piece for you.
Instead, you have the whole segment.
Listen, don’t depend on Gadfly’s text — just paraphrasing and giving you the gist.
“Systemic Racism in K-12 Education”
Dr. Joseph Roy and students Xenise Price and Dayanara Marrero-Allen
Why do you think that teachers aren’t encouraging and supporting students of color to take higher level classes? (3 mins.)
One of the challenges we have to overcome is encouraging students more. One of the solutions may be encouraging students to sign up in groups to overcome the solitary student of color situation. Doing a better job of “cohort scheduling.”
Why does it seems that white students get more opportunities in choosing classes? (3 mins.)
We have to start further back and lay the groundwork. We need to do a better job of literacy skills. We have an intense focus on early literacy skills to prepare for the advanced work later.
What about the role of counselors? (2 mins.)
Course selection time is critical for all of us in school to not think of courses in terms of a gatekeeper mentality. We want to be the gate opener. A student recounts a positive experience in this regard.
Why do you think that students feel that they have to work twice as hard to keep up with the white kids to get the same opportunity? (2 mins.)
I’ve been heavily involved in equity and access. And we’re moving to more heterogeneous, mixed groupings in Middle School.
In addition to tracking, what else is the school district doing to promote equity in the schools? (3 mins.)
The most impactful is literacy. A second is our challenge for everybody to be anti-racist. We’ve been looking at opportunities to improve participation in sports, activities, and clubs, for instance. Dual enrollment classes with college as another concrete thing. Gifted education too.
Students of color aren’t really being prepared for advanced classes . . . Why aren’t students of color being mixed more, and doesn’t it seem a little counterproductive for teachers to teach this way? (2 mins.)
That’s an issue that has been fixed. Old model is gone. We’ve received national recognition for what we’re doing in early education. Working on it at higher levels.
Teachers and staff . . . Are they proportionate to students of color? (4 mins.)
No, certainly not. A challenge. Making some progress each year. Started an education pathway here, to grow our own teachers here. Also connecting with Temple University to figure out how to recruit people to come here. Not an easy sell to come to the Lehigh Valley. Selling the lifestyle in the Lehigh Valley. The students agreed that more teachers of color would be a benefit.
What is something you are proud of at the Bethlehem School District? (1 min.)
How teachers and students have handled the pandemic.
Dr. Roy talks of the digital divide and the pandemic. (3 mins.)
Pandemic has put spotlight on inequities in society. Trouble for some students keeping up with schoolwork. Worried about them. We’re working to close the digital divide. Great progress.
The Lehigh University COVID-19 spike three weeks or so ago has calmed down considerably.
Now only 17 off-campus active cases — the number Gadfly has been more concerned about.
And now we see the Brown and White reporter asking the right question: “How badly did Lehigh’s COVID-19 outbreak affect the greater Northampton County community?”
Gadfly can’t understand why there wasn’t/hasn’t been some notice of the substantial Lehigh outbreak to the Southside community.
Neighbors around Moravian College are reporting a similar concern about their off-campus students.
Moravian has consistently shown next-to-no active virus cases, but neighbors have determined that Moravian does not test asymptomatic students (like Lehigh does), and their efforts to get good information from Moravian have not been productive.
Data from both Lehigh’s COVID-19 dashboard and the Pennsylvania Department of Health shows the potential impact the recent outbreak on campus has had on the larger community.
The chart above compares Lehigh’s new COVID-19 cases to those of Northampton County. During the week of Sep. 28, new Lehigh cases made up over 50 percent of all new cases in Northampton County. The following week, Lehigh students contributed to approximately 40 percent of new positive COVID-19 cases in Northampton County.
These figures beg the question: How badly did Lehigh’s COVID-19 outbreak affect the greater Northampton County community?
While there is no clear evidence that Lehigh students directly affected other citizens of Northampton County, the data does suggest that Lehigh’s COVID-19 outbreak played a role in increasing positive cases in the area.
Lehigh said the spread of COVID-19 likely stemmed from large student gatherings at off campus locations.
Although it’s understandable to have social bubbles in a pandemic, she said, these social bubbles are bound to overlap on a college campus. Freed said she has concern about how Lehigh is impacting the greater community in terms of COVID-19.
“The City of Bethlehem and consultant WSP are actively constructing the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan (CAP), and currently are seeking community feedback about their proposal. On October 7th, 2020, the City hosted the second community-wide webinar during the design process. The October CAP community meeting presented the progress for the design of the CAP based on the previous community response, and further garnered community input, this time on more specific possibilities and strategies. In November, the design committee, lead by Jeff Irvine, for the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan will present a draft of the plan to the community in a third webinar, with an opportunity for further feedback. Ultimately, the full plan is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2021. This article captures the ongoing community dialogue about strategies for city wide environmental justice, and highlights further opportunities for the reader to have their voice heard and contribute to the construction of the Climate Action Plan.”
To identify climate hazards facing Bethlehem on our community map, visit map.bethlehemcap.org. (1-2 minutes)
To review the plan’s full list of draft strategies and indicate your priorities, visit survey.bethlehemcap.org (As little as 5-10 minutes)
Gadfly gets asked on a fairly regular basis if he knows what’s happening with Councilman Callahan’s wage equality ordinance.
The basic idea is that this ordinance (which is gaining nationwide acceptance) hopes to free women from the spiraling financial trap of beginning their work careers at a low salary while they progress in their careers. Employers will not be able to ask a female applicant her past salary and low-ball her salary-wise on the new job.
The proposal has been stalled since pre-pandemic days in Councilman Callahan’s Human Resources Committee (Olga Negron and Paige Van Wirt are the other committee members) over the enforcement piece of the ordinance.
And the collegiality on the committee is fractured, as Gadfly has chronicled (click wage equity on the right-hand sidebar under Topics).
However, at City Council October 20, Councilman Callahan advised of several matters that relate to the enforcement piece:
Both Lehigh and Northampton Counties are forming Human Relations Commissions, so Bethlehem cases can go there for enforcement.
Councilman Callahan has volunteered to serve on one of the Commissions.
Councilman Callahan has consulted with lawyers who have told him that really all he need worry about is passing the ordinance not the enforcement piece.
Councilman Callahan has determined that the standard lawyer fee for representation before a magistrate is $500.
Councilman Callahan is consulting with the State Ethics Commission and researching whether it’s legal for his PAC to contribute $2000 to cover the first 4 women who bring a case.
If that is not legal, Councilman Callahan will see if he can contribute that amount from his business.
Gadfly is not sure why these avenues are being pursued if the cases are going to be heard by the new county commissions.
So Councilman Callahan is seeking a meeting time with his committee to do the necessary to now move the ordinance on to the full City Council.
Taking advantage of what the NCC conference provided.
Taking our time and listening to the guy who created the local Black lives matter group (but not affiliated with the national organization).
And please do listen. Gadfly’s text is only paraphrase, trying to give you the gist.
You must hear tone of voice.
You must hear the human being.
And, again, Gadfly seeks other perspectives on what Justan says.
Please address his specific comments directly rather than employing generalities.
What would you say if you were in a face-to-face conversation with Justan?
What can we do at the community level? What can we do as an average citizen to educate our average neighbors? (3 mins.)
Get to know your neighbor better. Engage with your neighbor. Even if he has a Trump sign. Build better neighborhoods and better communities one relationship at a time. That’s an ideal. But some people won’t believe that Black lives matter, and then you are in for a big unlearning process, unlearning what people have been raised with, what they have been taught. It’s all about educating. Some people you will not be able to reach.
What do you make of the Blue lives matter slogan? (2 mins.)
When you’re the victim and people are rallying around the abuser, that’s traumatic. A blue life is a profession, but it’s not a life. There are no blue people. As a profession, we want to make sure police officers aren’t getting hurt. I don’t know anybody who says let’s go out and hurt police. They can take that uniform off at the end of the day; Black and Brown people cannot take their skin off. Nor can we hide in any way shape or form. So the response that blue lives matter is traumatic. Saying this without any malice, there is no such thing as a blue life. We have to start calling that what it is.
What do you perceive about the Allentown or Bethlehem police — or about the counter-protestors? (3 mins.)
Based on experience in Allentown and Pen Argyl, not Bethlehem. The police officers are there to do a job. We don’t ask permission to protest. We take to the streets to express our frustrations and concerns and to speak to those who want to hear our message. I have a good relationship with the Allentown Chief. We don’t agree, but we can talk. The police presence is there to protect people on both sides. I’m not big on counter-protesting — we don’t do that. The police officers asked us to stay on the sidewalks. Our beef is with the culture, with how we’re treated. There’s some bad cops, some bad apples. If you don’t call them out, you are a bad apple too. Accountability. Your inaction is action.
Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder
Bud Hackett is a Bethlehem resident who raised 4 kids in the City. He recently became very interested in quality of life issues in the city and hopes to offer a balance to the approach City Council is taking.
Here Mr. Gadfly is a different perspective. Maybe not from NCC, but still good, I think
Very thought provoking video. It asked me some tough questions that when considered, help me make some choices:
• I want free speech and protection of my (and others) religious values.
• Don’t want all this cancel culture people telling me what I should and shouldn’t say and think.
• Best way to help people is with a job. Want policies that grow the economy.
• Taxes are much too high, government seems to take enough of our money. I share my wealth with my church and the social organizations I can see doing good work. Don’t decide for me where my money should go.
• Don’t refund the police, help to make them more effective and cost-effective. Not surprising that some communities want less police involvement in their affairs, like the loud motorcycle and loud car community clearly do not want police out there telling them to be quiet.
• Schools taxes are amount my greatest expense. Just not seeing the value with so many kids coming out with bad attitudes and low skills. Need more school choice. Why does 50% of my school tax go to support teachers pensions so they can live so much better that I will ever live. That’s fair?
• Before President Obama, the heath care crises was about costs, then they increased the number of folks getting free health care. So who pays? The payer community – me.
• Immigration, is it any surprise that the liberal Democrats want more people in the country who will vote for Democrats?
• Energy and climate is a balance. Don’t shut the economy down to reduce risk to zero.
• We are part of the international community, but we shouldn’t have to pay to support and defend all the other countries. Help those in need. Get others to pay their fair share.
• We choose an America that treats people fairly, encourages good work so that more people can be healthy, wealthy and kind.