On the subject of hardball and negative campaigning

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Candidate Grubb’s hardball mailer created quite a buzz, a buzz about negative campaigning. Now we have the Reynolds hardballer as well. Apoplexy abounds.

Here below we have Councilwoman Negron giving candidate Reynolds some space on the topic of his involvement with the ethics ordinance and Barbara Diamond defending candidate Grubb against the charge of negative campaigning.

Further comments on either side welcome and invited.

ref: Hardball (Grubb)
ref: Candidate Grubb critics don’t respond to the facts
ref: Hardball (Reynolds)


Dr. Van Wirt and I continued the conversation to bring back our Ethic ordinance and Dr. Van Wirt did her due diligence and approached councilman Reynolds who said he would support the Ethics Ordinance. I think it took him a while, but he now understands our points and the problems of not having a single, comprehensive ordinance. There is a lot of work that we do behind the scenes that takes a lot of time, and we don’t bring the work to the public eye until it is totally ready. Councilman Colon and I met with a group of citizens for an entire year to create our Ethics Ordinance. I made a big mistake (because I didn’t know any better), and I didn’t present the ordinance to our council solicitor. He would have revised and better prepared it to follow the format typically used when presenting an ordinance. Once presented, he did change it, but that’s when I realized I should have done that first, and he could have helped me make additional  changes before presenting it to full council. That’s what Dr. Van Wirt was and is working on since 2019. The Pandemic forced her to stop that process. It has being a tough year for everyone, but for a frontline doctor, one can only imagine. Council will bring the Ethics ordinance back, councilman Reynolds is in full support that we do so, and will support the ordinance as well! People don’t know what they don’t know; however, I really wish my and Dr. Van Wirt’s opinions would be taken more seriously and with more respect. We are the ones fighting the good fight right in the trenches!

Olga Negron April 26


Dear Gadfly,

In your Hardball post of April 25th, Mayoral Candidate Willie Reynolds and Councilwoman Crampsie-Smith accuse Mayoral Candidate Dana Grubb of negative campaigning in response to a campaign mailer that lists actions Mr. Reynolds has taken. It is legitimate to challenge your opponent on his record. Mr. Reynolds could have used the opportunity to refute what was listed on the mailer or provide some context or defense. It is revealing that he does neither of those things. He doesn’t address the facts on the mailer at all. Instead he denigrates Mr. Grubb by characterizing him as someone who is not proud of where Bethlehem is going and Ms. Crampsie-Smith characterizes him as acting with malevolence. To my mind, these personal attacks actually are negative campaigning.

Now behold the Reynolds campaign mailer that arrived in the mail today. This was most likely in production when Reynolds and Crampsie-Smith were complaining about Dana’s negative campaigning. This piece is exceedingly misleading insinuating that Dana is like Trump and by leaving out important information, which Dana explains in Gadfly’s March 11 post. Dana was assaulted by a coworker resulting in a broken nose; he did not retaliate. The coworker was someone Dana had reported to the Director of a Human Resources and the City Solicitor for unethical and potentially illegal behavior. Although both participants had to leave city government, Dana was approached by and assisted the FBI for 2 years with information about possible corruption in Bethlehem’s city government and development community.

It seems obvious that candidate Reynolds would rather attack his opponent with distortions than defend his own record. Voters want and deserve to know specifically what candidates who have held public office or served in city hall have actually done and how those actions have moved the city forward or point toward future decision-making.

Barbara Diamond April 30

Hardball (2)

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

received today from the Friends of J. William Reynolds


The print is hard to read:

Suspended official told not to work at home — Morning Call — November 12, 2004 — page B3

Bethlehem officials have ordered Dana Grubb, one of the managers involved in a Nov. 4 fight at City Hall to stop taking files and documemts home and performing work-related duties while he is suspended with pay.

City to post police guard at meetings** After Nov. — Morning Call — January 18, 2005 – page B1

For years, Dana Grubb attended Bethlehem Health Board meetings as a deputy director of community development, but if he wants to attend another one, it will be under guard of a police officer.

The city is taking action in response to concerns raised by Health Director Judy Maloney, who was in her office Nov. 2 when just outside it Grubb and Harvey Joseph, the city’s former environmental health director, got into a fistfight. Both men were later forced to retire.

Grubb was the city grants administrator and deputy director of community development among other roles. He retired from the city in 2004 after he and Harvey Joseph, who was the environmental health director, got into a fistfight in City Hall. Then-Mayor John Callahan told them they could retire or be fired.

Mayoral candidate Grubb on the 2004 City Hall fight

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Mayoral candidate Grubb’s response on the topic of a City Hall fight given at the North West/Kaywin Block Watch meeting April 26 at the Church of the Manger.


In 2003, I received phone calls that a city employee who reported to me was taking bribes. I immediately went to the HR director and she called the assistant city solicitor into the meeting. I was told later that a criminal investigation was started.
The city was transitioning at that time from the Delgrosso administration to the Callahan administration, so the outgoing solicitor met with me, told me how he thought it should be pursued by the incoming administration, and outlined how he felt I should proceed. I don’t know if the person under investigation was aware of any of this, but I suspect he may have been, because my immediate supervisor, the DCED director, was his cousin.
When the new administration came in, I followed the advice I had been given. I felt that Bethlehem residents deserved to have something like this resolved because they deserved better; plus, it did not reflect well on city government.
The morning of the episode in question, I went up to the health bureau on an unrelated matter. When I arrived there the employee who was going to hit me in the face was seated in the reception area. He kept interfering with my interaction with the health bureau secretary, which did not involve him at all, and I finally told him to mind his own business.
At this point, that individual got up from his chair and came across the health bureau office, and got into my face/space. I sensed that he was going to get physical, and felt threatened. I reached out to move him out of my space by putting my hands on his shoulders and applying pressure. As I did that, he swung over my extended hands and arms as I was moving him back, and his fist connected with my nose.
I then grabbed him by the shoulders to hold onto him because he was swinging wildly, and even biting and scratching at me: I needed both to de-fuse the situation and defend myself. I ended up with scratch marks on my neck in addition to a fractured nose.
The entire encounter lasted about 15 seconds until a couple or three other co-workers pulled us apart. My right hand came off his left shoulder but he continued to attack getting within inches of biting me. I his left shoulder again, but a second or two later, the other workers had got my assailant under control.
I left the health bureau office and went back downstairs to my office to let my secretary know I was heading up to HR to report the incident, which I did.
It was at the advice of the HR director that I went to the hospital to be examined.
I never swung or hit my assailant, and he has admitted that to others.
Months before this occurred, I had reported a MC journalist to my superior because a number of us had noticed that he seemed to be under the influence of alcohol whenever he came to city hall: the odor of alcohol was easily detectable on him. I threatened to go Editor-in-Chief Susan Hunt if the matter wasn’t addressed. The MC was made aware of the situation, and it is entirely possible that my name became known to the reporter. He was later terminated by the MC after Councilwoman Jean Belinski complained to the paper about him misrepresenting her statements in his coverage of Council meetings. When my episode happened, he was still with the MC and wrote the articles about it, which were not only not factual, but sensationalized.

Reprinted from March 11: Mayoral candidate Grubb explains 2004 incident

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

This post first appeared in The Gadfly March 11, 2021.


Dana Grubb is a candidate for mayor of our city.

Dear Gadfly,

I’ve been hesitant to dive into the details and drag others into the issue, but after learning that a Republican candidate has announced for Mayor of Bethlehem, one who was involved in a confrontation in another state in the past himself, and that parallels are now being drawn by some groups between his incident and an incident in my own past, it is time for me to clear the air. I was not present for whatever happened to the Republican candidate and therefore cannot comment on it.

In 2004, I was acting on some citizen complaints about a coworker of mine who was accused of unethical and potentially illegal behavior. As an administrator to whom these complaints were directed, I had a responsibility to report them to both the Director of Human Resources and the City Solicitor. I did. The city government was transitioning into the new Callahan administration, and follow up on these complaints was either ignored or covered up. However, I felt such serious allegations needed to be pursued in order to discover the truth: the citizens of Bethlehem deserve no less. Outgoing City Solicitor Joseph ‘Jay’ Leeson had also advised me to continue.

Later in 2004, I was assaulted and punched in the face by this coworker, which resulted in my nose being fractured. I never retaliated, and the incident was over within seconds. Actions taken by others who witnessed all or part of the incident had nothing to do with the incident itself; comments about other workers being afraid and locking themselves in their offices to escape involvement were no doubt prompted by witnessing something that never should have happened in City Hall, but in which I was not the instigator—and in fact was the person who was assaulted.

My coworker and I were both held accountable and retired from city service.

Newspaper accounts in the Lehigh Valley regarding this matter were skewed and sensationalized by a City Hall beat reporter. I had previously brought complaints about him, which I had received, to the attention of my superior who handled it with the reporter. He stopped the behavior that had engendered the complaints, but apparently remained irate about my intervention, and therefore took this opportunity to have his revenge.

Others with absolutely no understanding or knowledge of this back story are attempting to drag my name through the mud by bringing up this incident, to benefit the Mayoral candidate of their choice. None of them were present the morning of the incident between me and my coworker, nor did they work in city hall. In answering queries I’ve had about this occurrence, I have always said that we were both held accountable, have learned from the experience, and have moved on. My resolve to institute a zero-tolerance policy for intimidation and bullying has only been strengthened by what I learned from this experience. As someone who was attacked for acting on principle, I have a better understanding of the various ways bullying and intimidation may be accomplished, as well as a better understanding of a victim’s situation.

After this incident and my retirement, I was approached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to be an informant and provide as much information and knowledge about possible corruption in Bethlehem city government and the development community in general. I did that for over two years.  I recently learned that the investigation into the Allentown Mayor’s conviction on pay-to-play charges had provided evidence that the same thing had been happening in Bethlehem.

I did not, do not, and will not accept unethical or illegal behavior from anyone involved in Bethlehem’s governance. People who know me and have worked with me are aware of that, and many have endorsed my candidacy for Mayor because they are certain that I will stand by my principles, even if it makes me unpopular in certain sectors. My integrity is not for sale to anyone and that may be why those engaged in such behaviors are so eager to point the finger at me. If people applauded those who stand up against wrong doing in any form, it would help to foster a much needed culture of ethics in city government.


The Mayoral candidates April 6 at LV4All: question to Grubb on the City Hall fight

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

“Dana, according to the Morning Call, you had a disagreement with a female City employee and started a fight in City Hall that led to a firing. Can you discuss this incident and what transpired thereof?”

  • First of all, I didn’t have a disagreement with a female employee.
  • In 2003 I received a report that a co-worker was accepting bribes.
  • I reported it immediately to Human Resources and the City Solicitor.
  • A criminal investigation was begun, and on the advice of the outgoing City Solicitor, I followed through with incoming Mayor’s administration.
  • Nothing happened.
  • However, I felt it was important to protect Bethlehem residents from this kind of conduct.
  • Later in 2004 this employee and I we did get into a confrontation one morning, and he came across the room and got in my face.
  • Concerned about escalation, I attempted to move him out of my space, and he punched me in the face, fracturing my nose.
  • I did not retaliate, and it was over with probably in 15-20 seconds.
  • We were both charged with disorderly conduct.
  • The magistrate dismissed the charges.
  • However, we were both held accountable for our actions.
  • We both retired.
  • And, quite frankly, after I retired, The FBI actually came to me to act as an informant about ongoing conduct in City Hall.
  • So, I stood up for what I believed in.
  • Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for me or the other employee.
  • But I never hit him.

The Mayoral candidates April 6 at LV4ALL: question to Reynolds on contributions from developers

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

“Willie, you have accepted a $4000 donation and a $2000 donation from folk related to developers. Can you explain this and assure the people that it would not be a conflict of interest for you when discussing developments within the City?”

Candidate Reynolds:

  • I can tell you one of the things I want to start with is if you look at 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, I literally raised zero dollars.
  • For a while my opponents here were talking about contributions I received 9, 10, 11 years ago.
  • They dropped talking about that, it was a decade ago, because they realized it didn’t sound as good.
  • I can also tell you that in politics I’ve learned that at some point you need to raise money.
  • And everybody remembers campaigns where my opponents sent out campaign mailers when I was 19 years old with my backwards hats on.
  • Those campaigns were run by a lot of the people currently making comments in the chat box and by my opponent right here.
  • But I can tell you that I’m proud of every vote that I ever made.
  • And a lot of the conversation here is about the fact that people are frustrated that Bethlehem is moving forward.
  • There’s a lot of hypocrisy here, and I can tell you that we need investment in our city.
  • And I think if you take a look at the economic development projects that have occurred in Bethlehem over the past 25 years, it is what has allowed Bethlehem to build back an economy that was struggling after Bethlehem Steel went down.
  • So I am very proud of my voting record.
  • In the last several years you’re going to look at the fact that, in the last 4-5 years I didn’t raise a dollar.
  • The best that my opponent has as far as a vision is complaining about something that happened in 2011.
  • I would say look at my colleagues, and if you take a look at Dr. Van Wirt and Councilman Colon and Counvilwoman Negron, they are all supporters of mine.
  • And they are also people my opponent went to for support and they said no because of his negativity and his vision.
  • So I am proud of who is supporting my campaign.
  • I am proud that we have support in the community, and I look forward to serving the residents.


Moderator to Grubb:

  • I’ll give you a 30-second rebuttal.

Candidate Grubb:

  • Just one point, I did not go to any elected officials looking for endorsements, at all.

Candidate Reynolds:

  • That’s a lie. But I’m going to let that go.

The Rights of nature movement

Latest in a series of posts on the environment

Rights of Nature Movement

Peter Crownfield shares his reading. If we aren’t reading, we aren’t learning and growing. Please share your reading.


Hello everyone, Mike Ludwig here, this week, dozens of journalists and news publications, myself and Truthout included, signed a statement citing the thousands of scientists who say we are currently living through a climate emergency. Together, we have agreed to use the term “climate emergency” in news stories about climate change, so you will start seeing that term pop up at major news outlets that actually grasp the severity of the crisis. Of course, Truthout has been using the terms “climate crisis” and “climate emergency” for years now; we’ve been trying our best to warn people that it would get this bad.

Now, this podcast is not about politicians, it’s about the people who are doing something about the climate emergency from the ground up. On our last episode, we took a look at the direct action movement, which uses civil disobedience to block construction of oil and gas infrastructure and keep fossil fuels in the ground. We spoke with supporters of one of the longest running arial blockades in US history, which blocked construction of the mountain valley pipeline for some 900 days — if you missed it, I definitely recommend checking that out.

This time around we are looking at another current within the grassroots environmental and climate movement, the Rights of Nature Movement. Activists often argue about whether it’s possible to create meaningful change from within the existing legal and political system — but Rights of Nature, which is inspired by Indigenous thinking, has a novel
proposal — why not change the system itself, so nature is recognized to have legal, enforceable rights, much like a corporation or a human being?

continue . . .

Rights of Nature Movement

Weigh in on Southside planning

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem

Lot’s going on on the Southside — weigh in!

selections from Charles Malinchak, “South Bethlehem’s 6-year neighborhood development plan proceeds to finalization.” Morning Call, April 28, 2021.

The next six years could see a south Bethlehem with improved playgrounds, more activities on the Greenway and rehabilitated housing in a plan discussed Tuesday night by representatives of the Community Action Development Corporation of Bethlehem.

The plan is called the Neighborhood Partnership Program, which works with city officials and resident input to design a six-year revitalization program to guide development of not only buildings but also amenities to neighborhoods.

The virtual discussion was designed to gain further input from residents and business owners on the plan, which has been in the creation phase since last year.

Besides what was discussed, Yari Colon-Lopez, director of the Community Action Development Corp of Bethlehem said the plan already includes several proposed projects.

“Keep in mind that this will be a plan and theme for the next six years … and what we want to know is, Does this address the community’s concerns?” Colon-Lopez said.

The concerns already provided from residents through surveys are: affordable housing, improving youth engagement in the community, having more events or festivals, small business development and retaining those businesses.

She said another element expressed by residents is, “A general concern is change is happening and they [residents] may not have a voice in this change.”

Emily Folenta, senior planner for the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, said the plan will be available for public view on the CADCB website, but some examples contained  in the plan include:

    • Buying buildings to create landlords invested in the community.
    • Rehabilitating renter-occupied or private homes.
    • Improving playgrounds and other public places.
    • Expand the farmers market on the Greenway.
    • Arrange affordable family events on the Greenway and other public places.
    • Improve neighborhood walkability and lighting.
    • Improve streetscapes.
    • Develop a partnership with organizations to help resolve food insecurity.
    • Create youth education programs to develop workforce skills.
    • The public is encouraged to provide input to the plan on the CADCB website or in-person at its Bethlehem headquarters at 409 E. Fourth St., until May 4. The plan is expected to be finalized by May 12 or 13.

The Mayoral candidates April 6 at LV4All; the 2017 ethics ordinance

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

“As mayor of Bethlehem, would you support an ethics ordinance in our City similar to the one in 2017? And why or why did you not support that ordinance in 2017?

Candidate Reynolds:

  • 2017 ethics ordinance was about 50 pages long
  • advice of lawyers and D.A. was to break it up in pieces
  • passed two sections: ethics training and no gifts ban
  • always open to look at new things to strengthen the ordinnce
  • Councilpersons Colon and Negron proposed the ordinance in 2017
  • they felt the important parts were passed
  • they support his candidacy
  • open to whatever proposals come forward
  • must take it piece by piece
  • the advice in 2017 was that 50 pages was too long
  • best to break it up into pieces

Candidate Grubb:

  • would support the 2017 ethics ordinance
  • lot of lessons to be learned from what happened in Allentown
  • and with martin Tower
  • conflicts of Councilmen with sizeable contributions from developers
  • length of ordinance doesn’t matter
  • content is the key
  • Council dropped ball
  • two small pieces approved
  • nothing’s happened since
  • Reynolds has had a chance since 2017 to act but hasn’t
  • if elected, will resubmit a comprehensive ethics ordinance

Getting back to Christian Hall

Latest post in a series on Christian Hall

Full Monroe County D.A. press conference

ref: Case Study of police shooting of Christian Hall ripe for good discussion
ref: Have you done your Christian Hall homework yet?
ref: Breaking down the YouTube video of the Christian Hall shooting by the Pa. State Police
ref: “CJ is responsible for his own death”
ref: Past time for the City to have “The Talk”
ref: The de-escalation strategy of the Christian Hall event

Gadfly periodically amazes himself, amazes himself at the way he can beat a subject to death.

Take a look at his performance Breaking down the YouTube video of the Christian Hall shooting by the Pa. State Police.

Nothing like it in the annals of gadfly sleuthdom.

And the upshot was that even his slow-mo of slow-mo presentation couldn’t figure out The de-escalation strategy of the Christian Hall event.

Those posts must have blown his gasket, for he left the investigation of the Christian Hall incident completely up in the air a good three weeks ago.

In the meantime we have the shootings of Adam Toledo in Chicago, Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, Duante Wright in Brooklyn Center, and maybe I have missed some.

More on those other cases later, perhaps, but Gadfly wants to complete his walk-through on Christian Hall.

It’s been so long, those of you who want to think along with him may need to go back and review those past posts.

His is the “suicide by cop” case on Rt. 80 just north of us in Monroe County.

But Gadfly’d like to give you some more homework.

We have a video of the 73 min. D.A. press conference on March 30.

That 73 min. video breaks down in this way:

1:13:46 mins. (contains the 30-min. incident video that has been published separately and that we looked at)
Start at min. 5:07
D.A. introduction mins. 5:07-12:30
The 30-min. video runs from mins. 12:30-45:30
D.A. presentation mins. 45:30-1:00:15
Q & A with reporters mins. 1:00:15-1:13:46

For homework, Gadfly would like you to listen to the D.A. state his credential in this kind of case (approx mins 6-9) and his concluding presentation and Q&A (mins.45:30-1:13:46).

Do that, wouldya?, and we’ll come back and talk.

Mayoral candidate Dana Grubb: “Economic development projects must stand on their own merit”

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Dana Grubb for Mayor

click here for video

Candidate Grubb at SteelStacks:

I am not accepting contributions from the 7 or 8 largest developers in Bethlehem. Economic development projects must stand on their own merit, not the size of a campaign check.

In 1999 I was one of the City administrators that negotiated tax-increment financing and the HUD section 108 loan which allowed many of the improvements you see over here today to happen. If you elect me Mayor in May, I will take the same negotiating skills into economic development projects today where we preserve history and development fits in our city.

Let’s believe in a better Bethlehem.

Good fences make . . .

“Good fences make good neighbors”

Gadfly spent the afternoon weeding, cutting, digging, sweating, wheezing, muttering. His postage stamp-sized yard has the misfortune to be flanked by neighbors who don’t weed. Weeds do not respect our fences. They feed on them. Sigh. Gadfly is Mr. Frost’s “old-stone savage.” He “walks the line” alone.

Did anything happen while he was away from his gadfly post?

Mending Wall

By Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Voting: the ballot questions

“Our democracy is only as strong as our will to be involved.”

Alison Steele is a Liberty High School alum who traveled the world looking for adventure and purpose before finding it in Pittsburgh.  She has made it her mission to help others make more informed decisions around how they interact with people and the planet. She publishes the Radical Moderate blog that Gadfly has often recommended to you.

The Gadfly household mail-in ballots arrived yesterday. Gadfly’s giving himself 10-14 days to think about his choices. He hopes you are loading up on info about the candidates like he is.

But here Alison takes on the question of the ballot questions, which, she reminds us, even independents can vote on in the primary.

Thank you, Alison. Gadfly must admit that he usually never gives such questions much thought, or does so only when it is very late in the game — like when he’s in the polling booth!

May 2021 Election Guide — Pa Primaries, Part 1

Ballot Question 1: Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Article III, Section 9

This question deals with the termination or extension of disaster emergency declarations and stems from the conflict between Governor Wolf and the state legislature this past year regarding COVID-19 emergency declarations (e.g. stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, etc.). The amendment would change existing law to give the General Assembly the power to terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration made by the governor through a simple majority vote. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

Ballot Question 2: Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Article IV

This question deals with disaster emergency declaration and management, and it also stems from the conflicts between Governor Wolf and the state legislature over the COVID-19 response. This amendment would change the length of a disaster emergency declaration so it would expire after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency. After the declaration has expired, the governor would not be able to declare a new disaster emergency unless the General Assembly passed a resolution allowing him to. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

May 2021 Election Guide — PA Primaries, Part 2

Ballot Question 3: Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Article I

This question deals with equality of rights based on race and ethnicity, and it was introduced in the wake of the instances of police brutality and resulting protests in 2020. The Pennsylvania constitution and federal laws currently provide broad protections against discrimination “against any person in exercise of any civil right.” This proposed amendment specifically focuses on protecting individuals from racial and ethnic discrimination by Pennsylvania governmental entities and solely on the basis of race and ethnicity. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

Ballot Question 4: Statewide Referendum – Act 2020-91

This question is not a constitutional amendment, but a statewide referendum, and it deals with making municipal fire and emergency medical services companies eligible for loans. It was introduced because the General Assembly determined there was a need for these emergency responder companies to update their facilities and equipment. At the moment, only volunteer fire and EMS companies are authorized to apply for loans from this program. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

Community land trusts make housing affordable forever

Latest post in a series on Affordable Housing

Tip o’ the hat to Barbara Diamond for sharing her reading on this timely topic in our town.


selections from Michael Friedrich, “Affordable Housing Forever.” New York Times, April 15, 2001.

Nonprofits that purchase land, build homes on it and sell them below market rate are giving low-income buyers a chance.

After being priced out of renting in a series of neighborhoods, Ms. Robey, a 43-year-old single mother, became determined to buy a house of her own. “Being able to build some kind of equity, being able to have this home base where your family can come visit,” Ms. Robey said, “I wanted that for myself.”

That wish became a reality when she discovered the Atlanta Land Trust, an organization that creates and protects affordable housing. Community land trusts are locally run nonprofits that purchase land, build homes on it and sell those homes below market rate to low-income buyers. The trust keeps the deed for the land, leasing it to homeowners who sign a long-term agreement to limit their home’s resale price, so that it stays affordable into the future.

“You make a one-time investment in creating a community land trust unit, and that unit is affordable forever,” said Amanda Rhein, executive director of the Atlanta Land Trust.

The Atlanta Land Trust focuses on low-income buyers who make between 60 percent and 80 percent of the local median income and can readily support a traditional mortgage.

The influence that powerful private real estate interests exert on American city governments has caused housing prices and rents to soar over the past decades, increasingly placing homeownership out of reach for families of color, and Black Americans like Ms. Robey in particular. Community land trusts form a promising corrective to this trend. By removing land from the speculative market, they keep housing affordable for first-time homeowners — especially low-income people of color.

In America, community land trusts have always been rooted in racial equity. Unlike other types of land trusts, like those formed to conserve land by restricting development, they were devised specifically to prevent the displacement of communities of color.

Encouraged by research on the benefits of community land trusts, Grounded Solutions aims to support the creation of one million new units across the country over the next 10 years. The model has been shown to keep foreclosure rates low through recessions and prevent displacement. It also increases access to homeownership and builds wealth over time for communities of color, according to a 30-year study of land trusts and similar affordable housing schemes from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Looking for Swift dollars

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The Swifts are the official City Bird of Bethlehem
They need your help


Ok, the Swifts are back!

Chimney saving a success.

Now let’s talk about money.

Most of the Swift Team are reticent about and reluctant to talk about money.

Not The Gadfly.

The fund-raising stalled a long time ago.

So what will the Swift kitty be used for, you ask?

Originally, some of the money was ear-marked for the additional cost to developer John Noble to save the chimney rather than just leveling the whole site.

Not so any longer.

Developer John Noble is, as they say, eating the additional cost to his project so that the GoFundMe can be used for education purposes.

At the Forum last week, John said, “This is one of these things that I personally have a passion for. The GoFundMe site, I think, at this point is one of those things best used for education. We’ve also talked about putting cameras in the site so people can see in real time what is going on. So, from a future standpoint, everything that we do on this GoFundMe is going to be purely ear-marked for education and actually taking it and putting it toward cameras. This is kind of a project that both me and my family are just so excited to do that it’s irrelevant of the cost. It’s that fun. Everyone in my family is excited about it. And we’re going to make sure that we not only do it right but that we educate the entire community on what’s going on there.”

Now, that’s absolutely remarkable!

Lehigh Valley Audubon Society president Peter Saenger said of Noble, that his engagement in such a project is “extremely unusual, almost unheard of,” and what Noble just said about the importance of education “almost made {him] cry. . . . John is probably less than 1% of developers that you will run in to, he’s golden, and so unique, it’s incredible. . . . If we could only get half the developers to have a tenth of his spirit, this world world would be so much better. Incredible. And shocking. And wonderful.” (Picture of Noble in his spare time.)

And what might an educational project look like?

Jennie Gilrain is already “cooking up” an educational project! She’s going to bring local poets into her 4th grade class at Freemansburg Elementary, at least one bilingual, so the students will write poetry about the Swifts as they learn about them and join with students in Peru and Bolivia (joining the two poles of the Swift migration!) in a bilingual poetry reading inspired by the Swifts. “We don’t quite have the funding all lined up yet,” says Jennie, “but we’re going to do it anyway.”

We gotta help out with this Jennie-project and other projects that will arise, right?

Gadfly hesitates to use the blog for fundraising. He thinks he remembers asking you to sponsor him on the 10-mile Christmas Peace Walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem a year or two ago that LEPOCO was involved in —  but probably not much, if anything, else.

But this is a worthy cause, a Bethlehem community cause.

Gadfly doesn’t pay attention to his blog statistics, but he happened to notice that The Gadfly had 600 hits Monday. Not sure if that was a good day or a bad day. But think of the good that 600 x $5, 600 x $10, 600 x $25, 600 x $$$ can do.

Brothas and sistas, can you spare a few bucks?

And Gadfly bets that you have Swift lovers in your families and on your social media networks, even if they don’t know it yet.

Save Our Swifts

The Swifts are back!

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The Swifts are the official City Bird of Bethlehem
They need your help


Dear Friends of the Swifts–John and Lynn Noble, Wilbur Mansion Development Team, Lehigh Valley Audubon Society, Sierra Club Lehigh Valley, Bethlehem City Council and Environmental Advisory Council, Lehigh University Environmental Initiative and Southside Initiative, Freemansburg Elementary School, Artefact Inc., Poets, Journalists, and Concerned Citizens,

Wonderful news! The swifts are back! And they are using the Masonic Temple chimney as a roosting site for spring migration on their way from South America to the Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada! I watched 400-500 swifts enter the freestanding chimney on the Wilbur Mansion property yesterday evening, April 27th around 8:00 PM. It was a beautiful sight to see!

Congratulations to the Bethlehem S.O.S. Save Our Swifts team!

Tremendous thanks to John and Lynn Noble for carefully preserving the 45 foot high 5 foot square chimney while demolishing the Masonic Temple in the course of redevelopment of the Wilbur Mansion property. (See photo above taken a few months ago). Many thanks to the Bethlehem City Council for naming the Chimney Swift the official Bird of Bethlehem and to Lynn Rothman and the Environmental Advisory Council for supporting the effort to protect the swifts. Thanks to Scott Burnett and Peter Saenger of the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society for educating us about these amazing birds and leading the charge to save them. Thanks to the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Council for funding and the Bethlehem Area Public Library for hosting Public Forums to engage citizens in the effort to embrace the bird that has adapted to our urban habitat. Thanks to Freemansburg Elementary School students for speaking out on behalf of the birds. Thanks to Lehigh University professors and students for continuing to work for habitat preservation and restoration. Thanks to The Bethlehem Gadfly and all the wonderful journalists who continue to tell the story of the birds of Bethlehem.

Jennie Gilrain


Gadfly wonders (and worries a bit) about the impact of the proposed plans for widening Rt 378 on the site. Perhaps we will hear from Mr. Noble about that.

Save Our Swifts

Cops and kids

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Chief Kott has been a strong articulator of more community involvement by the police. Gadfly learned by chance that she instituted a “Neighborhood Outreach Initiative” about two weeks ago. I hope we can hear more about that — perhaps at next week’s City Council meeting?

The effect of mail-in voting

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

Gadfly’s request for continued mail-in voting in the primary has been processed ok.

Mrs. Gadfly’s hasn’t, though they were submitted at the same time.

Always something.

We assume mail-in voting will start very soon.

See Bernie O’Hare’s interesting info on the effect of increased MIB: Good news for NorCo Democrats in this year’s municipal races.

Lots of info on Gadfly about candidates. Swim in it. Be informed. Don’t vote by habit or yard signs.

Gadfly mayoral forum #7: The State of the City

Latest in a series of posts on the Gadfly Forum

The Mayoral candidate comparison chart

The prompt:

The Mayor delivered the annual State of the City address April 16.

For this Forum response, Gadfly asked the candidates to think of the state of the city, the Mayor’s state of the city address, the content of that address, criticism of or additions to the address, the way in which that address is given, focusing more resident attention on it, and options or supplements to it.

Big open range again for the candidates to roam in.

Listen to Gadfly’s full prompt here.


Dana Grubb

The Mayor’s delivery of a “state of the city” speech, currently done at a Chamber of Commerce sponsored business meeting, presents some opportunities for improvement. Attendees must pay in order to be at the meeting and hear the speech, which limits who may attend. I have reservations about that. My sense has been that, when it comes to this address, the general public doesn’t receive the same focus as a paying audience. That is problematic.

My preference would be for the Mayor to deliver their address via local media, perhaps on our local PBS 39 station, so that anyone who is interested can tune in. Additionally, the speech could be live streamed on the city’s website and archived so that even more people could hear what the Mayor has to say.

As for this year’s address by Mayor Donchez, it struck an even tone concerning the challenges of the past year by acknowledging a number of them. The Mayor credited partners and recognized opportunities. He listed accomplishments, which sends a positive vibe, much like cheerleaders who encourage the team on the field.

During the pandemic, the City’s Health Bureau — who reported to me when I was the Deputy Director of Community Development — excelled and deserved the special mention they received this year. Support from other city departments which helped deliver the vaccine was also recognized, as it should have been.

But some aspects of the speech seemed stale, and of questionable value: old points were regurgitated, and past accomplishments were praised again.

Make no mistake about it: challenges remain in our city. Gentrification, out of scale development, a preponderance of “upscale” rental housing over owner-occupied housing, lack of affordable housing, poor city facility maintenance especially in parks, the question of ingrained racism and equal treatment under the law, and opportunities for our diverse population are all issues that were ignored by Mayor Donchez in his “state of the city” speech. They should not have been, if presenting a complete picture of the “state of the city” was the aim of the speech. While it is nice to hear about the character and charm of the city, its many amenities and achievements, it is necessary to also hear about the tests being faced by the city, its residents, and its government. These demands must be faced unflinchingly if Bethlehem is going to move forward and become better: ignoring challenges does not make them go away.

It might be better to hear from residents as well as government about the “state of the city” if we really want a thorough account. Residents’ perspectives would likely be more realistic and not as one-sided or sugar-coated, providing a sharper focus for the direction in which the city needs to move.


J. William Reynolds

Ed, The “State of the City” hits at one of the basic functions of government – how do we communicate and engage with our residents?  It isn’t a one-off event

but rather a 365-day-a-year effort to interact with the people of our city. When I launched the Connecting Bethlehem initiative two years ago, the idea was to measure citizen satisfaction AND engagement with our current communication channels.  While many people are satisfied with the current communication measures that the city uses (and our revamped website and service app are substantial improvements), there were two takeaways in particular that are important for this conversation.

  • Residents want a centralized place to get information pertaining to Bethlehem
  • A not insignificant percentage of residents do not have internet access, so their ability to engage and interact with the City is limited.

As Mayor, I would look to revamp the ways in which the City shares information. Think about it as a 365-day “State of the City.” During my campaign, I have been using some of these tools to communicate and interact with residents about what I have focused on during my time on City Council and our ideas for building coalitions in Bethlehem to create change and implement new initiatives.

  • Study and implement a plan to achieve 100 percent high-speed internet access in the city. We need to use COVID Relief Funds (which is specifically allowable in the legislation) to conduct a study to understand the depth of the issue as well as potential long-term solutions. These efforts should include a coalition of the Bethlehem Area School District, community members, and non-profit organizations
  • Hold virtual town halls to interact with people who are unable to come into City Hall or come to City Council meetings
  • Make “The Bethlehem Corner” a weekly opportunity to talk about city issues, have city employees talk about leaf collection, snow removal, etc., and have on community members to talk about important topics in Bethlehem
  • Have these conversations in the community whenever possible. It is vitally important to meet people where they live, work, and play. City Hall should be the last place where we have these conversations

This last point gets to the crux of your post. There is nothing wrong with speaking about the state of the city to a group of business and community leaders. That, however, can only be one strategy for talking about where as a city and where we are going. Our Climate Action Plan, Northside 2027, and Community Engagement Initiative have also been designed to increase the ability of residents and community service providers to be involved in creating change as it relates to their view of the “state of the city.” It can’t be a one-way conversation from City Hall to the community. Everyone’s perspective on our community is important and City Hall must utilize every tool that it has to gather and present more comprehensive pictures on the current and future state of our city.


Residents are welcome to fashion reflections on candidate comments, sending them to ejg1@lehigh.edu. On Gadfly we seek the good conversation that builds community, so please be courteous at all times. Gadfly retains the right to abridge and to edit your reflections and to decline posts that are repetitive or that contain personal attacks. Gadfly will publish resident reflections on the week’s Forum at noon on Friday.

Let’s do away with “That Guy”

Latest in a series of posts on development

ref: Type 3 developers a key to affordable housing

Another “sharing your reading” kind of Strong Towns post from Councilwoman Van Wirt. This “sharing your reading” feature is now back on Gadfly’s menu. If we’re not reading, we’re not learning and growing. Send your suggestions.


Ha! I think I know THAT guy. Do you? This is more insight on how the development process works, and is is very applicable to Bethlehem. This article is short and to the point. Give it a read. In Bethlehem, we need type 3 developers- see my last post on this topic- and That Guy does not work for type 3 developers.
Paige Van Wirt

from Daniel Herriges, “Have You Met This Guy? Strong Towns, March 17, 2021.

I periodically attend public hearings where a development proposal is up for approval (or denial) by local elected officials. It was at about the 10th such hearing I attended in my current city where I really noticed him: “Hey, it’s that guy again.”

That Guy is a land-use attorney. His job is to represent clients who are trying to get a development project approved that requires some sort of special permission. Need a variance or other special exception to the normal zoning rules? A change in the zoning for a property? Putting together a more elaborate master-planned development, which bundles together a lot of rule changes in one request? Negotiating complexities involving wetland mitigation, historic preservation, impact fees, mandatory traffic studies, easements, transfers of development rights? (If you don’t know what all of those mean, don’t worry: that’s kind of the point here.)

For any of the above, That Guy is your guy. He’s not just any land-use attorney. He’s the one you want if you’re in the big leagues. When virtually any development of significant size or scope is on the agenda, That Guy seems to be there at the meeting as the developer’s lead attorney. He’s reliable like death and taxes.

He steps up to the podium and launches into his PowerPoint. That Guy is very good at his job. He’s polished; he’s prepared; he’s amiable and breezy. The reason so many clients use his services is that he knows the zoning code inside and out. He knows it better than the city planners know it: every technicality, every loophole. Certainly better than the elected officials know it. He’s been in this work a long time. He might have a planning or engineering degree in addition to his law degree. He probably worked in the public sector for a time.

Our particular That Guy is a principal in the firm that bears his father’s name, which is also his name (he’s a “III”). Their office is in a prominent building not far from City Hall. Their website boasts that, in addition to his “nationally recognized practice” in all areas of land-use law, he is “a regular speaker at growth management and land use conferences and has published a number of articles” and “has actively served his community as a board member on local civic and charitable organizations.”

That Guy is in the know. He knows people, and people know him. At some point the meeting will enter a brief recess (because there are hours worth of speakers lined up for the public comment period), and you’ll head out to the lobby. You’ll see That Guy chitchatting with reporters.

Perhaps more surprisingly, you’ll see That Guy chitchatting with one or more of the firebrand community activists who are there to rail against the developer (his client) as a money-grubber ruining the community’s quality of life. I’ve seen this happen firsthand. They all know each other. The activists have been going toe-to-toe with That Guy for years. They’ve probably met his kids. There’s a grudging respect there. It’s not that the issue doesn’t have real stakes; it’s just that it becomes like a sports rivalry after a while, where you’ve grown to kind of like the other team’s captain.

What does it mean if your community has a That Guy? That Guy is an indicator species: his presence tells you something important.

Fundamentally, it tells you that the system you’re using to regulate development is too complicated.

Make the rules simple and predictable—the zoning code tells you what you can build, and you can build it as of right—and the smallest developers with the shallowest pockets can play. Make the rules complicated, and the ante to participate gets much higher. The little guy can’t enter the game anymore: the ”return on brain damage” (h/t R. John Anderson) for trying to navigate a modest-sized project through the system is no longer worth it.

I don’t have anything against That Guy. He seems nice, he’s certainly very smart and competent, and I bet he and I would have a great conversation about land use over beers.

I just don’t want the way my community grows to be dependent on people like him.

Heading to a showdown on S. New

Latest in a series of posts on 319-327 S. New St.

The Historic Conservation Commission took up the 317-327 S. New St. project for the 3rd time last evening April 26, 2021.

There are two elephants in the room now:

  • the out of size and scale height of the building (most recently proposed at 10 stories)
  • the Mayor’s vigorous siding with the project

Residents just as vigorously opposed the proposal. The Commissioners spoke against it. And the HCC again denied the proposal. Unanimously.

The proposal now goes to City Council, which does not have to respect the HCC decision. The Mayor is clearly for the project. And the developer has said that he has had favorable conversations not only with the Mayor but also with (unnamed) members of City Council.

The stage is set for a showdown at City Council.

Gadfly calls your attention especially to the way below the developer draws a red line across negotiation on the size of the project.



“Based upon relevant design guidelines, the current proposal for a 10-story structure is inappropriate for the immediate streetscape and, more generally, for the overall district.”
Jeffrey Long, HCC Historic Officer

“It looks like a pretty decent project, if you cut the middle 5 stories out of it.”
Commissioner Seth Cornish

“If we have buildings of this scale flanking the street, it’s just going to be a cave, it’s gonna to be a canyon.”
Commissioner Craig Evans

“The main feedback that you are going to hear tonight is that we are just having a hard time with the height.”
HCC Chair Commissioner Gary Lader

“We’ve listened to the Commission, we’ve listened to the comments, which is why we’re at the 104ft, but that’s our envelope. For this project to succeed, and I know that’s the purview of the Commission, I know that’s not what your primary focus is, but there is a real reality component to any project. And because of that we’ve come down dramatically, from 150, to 130, to 104 — that’s it, that’s as far as we can come down. And I understand scale and size is a component. I’ve listened very closely this evening to your historian. And we get it. But in order for us to proceed with this project, we’re at where we can be to make it make sense. And I don’t know that a 5-6 story building with these concepts, with this architecture is viable economically. So, again, not your purview, I get it, but there’s this overlying reality in this that has to be kept in mind. And we’re not going for the home run. The home run was 13 stories. We get it. That was the home run. And we heard very loudly and very clearly, No. 12 stories we heard, No. So now we’ve pared it down to where we can make it viable, make it worth the investment and hopefully enhance the historic district, which is the ultimate goal. . . . We’re where we are. If it’s not appropriate, we’ll be disappointed by the recommendation of a lack of certificate of appropriateness, but that’s really where we are at this point. . . . We heard you. We didn’t shoot the moon. Believe me, if we could have come in, and you’d have said 13 stories, we’d have been happy. So this isn’t we came in asking for more hoping to get something — No, no. That wasn’t the case. We didn’t do it that way. . . . We’re as low as we can go to keep these developers in the project and make it work.”
Developer attorney

“There are a number of recent developments in the area that are 5 stories and less, and they have been successful.”
Commissioner Beth Starbuck

“This is a project that the Mayor has been very public about the fact that he does support the project. . . . for a variety of reasons. . . . feet on the street . . . architectural detail . . . affordable units.”
Planning Director Darlene Heller

“It’s not really how beautiful the building is, that’s not really what the HCC is here for. I just want to support all the members of the HCC that are upholding what the HCC is here for, that is, to uphold the integrity of South Bethlehem.”
Resident Rachel Leon

“I’m saddened that the Mayor has weighed in based on things that violate the historic district guidelines.”
Resident Kim Carrell-Smith

“When people purchase property . . . there should be some form they have to sign that demonstrates that they’ve read the guidelines.”
Resident Breena Holland.

“I’m a law-abiding citizen who follows the regulations as they’re printed.”
Resident Al Wurth

The HCC voted down the proposal 6-0.


The Gadfly has loaded a great deal of information into this post because the HCC meetings are irregularly recorded and archived on the City web site, and we may want to refer back to this discussion when this “case” moves on to City Council.

ref: Another developer thinking big . . . er, tall
ref: The HCC discusses the proposal for 319-327 S. New
ref: “The current proposal for a 12-story structure is inappropriate”
ref: “What we have in front of us is going to be a big stretch for us”
ref: “Going to 5-6 stories definitely wouldn’t work”
ref: Southside developer blows some smoke
ref: The developer plays hard ball
ref: Establishing Community-Centered Principles for Responsible Southside Development
ref: Testing the principles for responsible development on the S. New St. project, part 1
ref: Testing the principles for responsible development on the S, New St. project, part 2

ref: The Mayor enters Southside historic district proceedings
ref: S. New St. developer offers affordable housing while maintaining height


Historic Officer Jeffrey Long’s summary of HCC deliberations at the meetings in January and February 2021:

Commissioner Seth Cornish: “We’ve been tasked as a historic commission to try to keep the rhythms and the walkability and the reason people like to come to downtown, we’ve been tasked to keep that. Historic districts aren’t just created to have fun.”

Commissioner Craig Evans: “While we are a part of the City and concerned about the improvement and advancement that out City can enjoy through development, it is our charge to be responsible for how it fits in to an established historic district. . . . If we keep flying at these things with something that doesn’t fit, we have a significant challenge.”

Commissioner Beth Starbuck; “Since they are given all this free rental space, they could modify the height od the building to plumb with the Southside district.”

Resident Rachel Leon: “I believe the residents of South Bethlehem have been very clear about how they feel about these structures 10 or 12 stories high.”

Resident Kim Carrell-Smith: “The Mayor’s reasoning about affordable housing is problematic in many respects. . . . It’s a bad argument to be set up, that it has to be one thing or the other.”

Resident Breena Holland: “This whole business of them coming to buy property and then come in as though it’s someone else’s responsibility to let them build, would lead people to thing that they didn’t actually read those guidelines.”

Resident Al Wurth: “The building will loom over the Greenway in a way that will have enormous impact.”

City Council candidates on the pandemic

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Bethlehem City Democrat Committee
City Council candidate forum April 12

Council candidates: Callahan, Crampsie Smith, Kwiatek, Leon, Wilhelm


“The pandemic has had a huge impact on all of our citizens and businesses over the last year. What do you see as the biggest priority for City Council to help get our city back on a forward track?”

Grace Crampsie Smith


“Continue to fight the virus . . . . small businesses . . . Department of Health . . . homelessness . . . housing.”



Rachel Leon



“We have to really start adjusting to climate change.”



Kiera Wilhelm


“A vaccine equity initiative . . . multi-lingual  programs to educate folks about the vaccine . . . mortgages and rent relief . . . schools . . . small businesses . . . make funding easy to get.”



Bryan Callahan


“We have to be very careful about what we are doing with our tax rate.”



Hillary Kwiatek


“We need to look at this problem not just from one community but the many communities that make up our city.”


to be continued . . .

Bethlehem’s Year of Floyd (1): The Mayor and Chief get out in front

Latest in a series of posts regarding the George Floyd anniversary

ref: Let’s meaningfully remember George Floyd on the anniversary of his death
ref: Mayor Donchez: “We in Bethlehem must condemn acts of violence and hatred”
ref: Chief DiLuzio: “We as police officers condemn what happened to Mr. Floyd”

Gadfly is modestly proposing that City Council mark the anniversary of George Floyd’s death at a Public Safety meeting on May 25, 2021. A year gives us some distance on our efforts to act on the significance of his death and a perspective on the challenges it presented to the City. Gadfly herewith begins a quasi-history of the “Year of Floyd” as seen through the pages of the blog. One man’s version. Join in.


George Floyd died Monday, May 25, 2020. Turmoil started virtually immediately and spread throughout the country. There was a large peaceful demonstration here radiating from the Rose Garden to Payrow Plaza on Saturday May 30. Mayor Donchez’s statement appeared on the City web site Sunday May 31 (it is no longer there) and in the Morning Call Wednesday June 3. Chief DiLuzio delivered his statement at the City Council meeting Tuesday June 2.

We begin our quasi-history with the statements by Mayor Donchez and Police Chief DiLuzio representing the City’s official response to the tragedy of Floyd’s death and the ongoing societal disruption that followed.

The Mayor and the Chief are clearly and understandably worried about the spread of disruption to Bethlehem.

They are also concerned with distancing themselves and our City from the blatant evil of the murder and its racial dimension.

A pantheon of Jefferson, Jesus, King, Kennedy, Ben Franklin, and Edmund Burke are invoked.

Horror, condemnation, outrage, sadness, shock, disgust, repulsion, pain, and righteousness are expressed.

Both men protest that their hands and the hands of their City are clean.

The Mayor remembers the “melting pot” utopia in the South Bethlehem of his youth “where there was no room for racism, bigotry, and intolerance.” He replicated that utopia in the classroom during his career at Allen High School “where he made sure [his] students were tolerant of all who attended . . . Black and White, Latino and Asian, Gay and Straight, Male, Female and Transgender [?], Rich and Poor, and all who made up the city, the Lehigh Valley and the country.” In present-day Bethlehem, the Mayor says, “we are one.”

The Chief is personally horrified and outraged at what he sees. And there is no blue wall in his department: “We as police officers condemn what happened to Mr. Floyd. . . . What the four Officers did was wrong. What Officer Derek Chauvin did was criminal.” The Chief and his officers ensured peaceful protest in our town, felt unity with the protestors. And he runs a diverse department accredited both by the state and nationally (a dual accreditation that only 4% of departments have), in which training is continuous, in which everyone agrees “that a properly trained officer would never use this type of force under the circumstances.”

The Chief oversees a departmental micro-utopia analogous to the Mayor’s urban macro-one.

Gadfly called these statements by the Mayor and the Chief powerful statements at the time, for which he received some significant push-back.

He was glad the Mayor and Chief recognized the need to speak up, to get out in front.

But the limitation in their words becomes even more obvious from the distance of almost a year.

Ironically, that limitation is pellucid in the Chief’s choice of words from Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Neither the Mayor nor the Chief point to anything specific to do, point to anything that needs to be done locally, articulate any action that we good people (or they) in Bethlehem should take.

Again, “We are one,” says the Mayor, triumphantly but perhaps complacently.

As if nothing of the Floyd sort and its aftermath would/could happen here.

As if we had no “work” to do in “reckoning with race.”

There is a sense of self-satisfaction in their words, a sense that they speak from a kind of moral elevation or eminence.

Gadfly is a generation older than the Mayor, but it looks like we were both raised on the same mythic conception of America as a melting pot. However, there are few American literature and history courses these days that would frame our country that way without also posing a powerful counter-narrative. We have come to understand that the myth of the melting pot is a myth that serves white privilege and also is a way to blame minorities who don’t succeed. Likewise, proclaiming, as he does in his recent state of the city address, that the “American Dream,” another American cultural myth, is “thriving here” is tricky. Gadfly remembers statistics about low incomes on the Southside and low rates of home ownership on the Southside (home ownership traditionally seen as a stepping stone to achievement of the American Dream) discussed right here on this blog lately and wonders if this would be the kind of thing the Mayor could say if he gave his address in the auditorium at Donegan. Gadfly also remembers the oft-repeated words of our younger Allen High School Councilman about the need to see ourselves and our city through the eyes of the cultural “other.” That “Canary” has indicated that the view would be disillusioning.

So, as understandable as these statements by the Mayor and Chief and their purposes might be, Gadfly feels our “Year of Floyd” didn’t get off to the best possible start.

to be continued . . .