The local ballot so far

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Having mentioned the May primary election, let’s remember what the ballot looks like so far. The official deadline for candidates to file their petitions is March 9. Lots of time for the fields to enlarge.


J. William Reynolds

Dana Grubb

possibly Bryan G. Callahan


City Council

Hillary Kwiatek

Grace Crampsie Smith

Bryan G. Callahan

possibly Olga Negron and Adam Waldron

Bloggers needed

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

In a post entitled “Would you like to do some blogging?” in his Lehigh Valley Ramblings today, Bernie O’Hare makes the case for and makes a call for additional bloggers to cover the upcoming local election(s):

This year’s municipal races will attract far fewer attention (and votes) than the Presidential election we just endured. But it is arguably far more important. What your local elected officials do in office has much more of an impact on your daily lives than whatever Congress and the President do. Are the roads being maintained? Do 911 dispatchers answer your emergency calls? Are police or firefighters around when you need them? Are you being taxed to death? Is anyone out there doing any thing about warehouse proliferation or the increased truck traffic?  These issues matter. Yet turnout in municipal races drop dramatically after a Presidential race.  The result is elected officials, often bad, who have received insufficient scrutiny. Compounding that problem is a local press that no longer has the manpower to pay attention to local races. 

In my blog coverage, I usually focus only on a few races where I have an adequate  understanding of the issues and candidates. These would primarily be in Northampton County, Bethlehem and Allentown.  That leaves numerous races uncovered. Also, I write from my own perspective on things. Though I always try to be factually accurate, I am biased. It would be refreshing to both my readers and myself to see stories, especially about upcoming elections, from others. 

If you have such an interest, please email me at 

Gadfly wholeheartedly seconds Bernie!

We need more perspectives.

And this is a good time to remind everybody that, since the May 18 primary tends to finalize the Bethlehem mayoral and councilmanic positions, Gadfly plans to fold his wings May 19.

And that he hopes that somebody will either take over this blog or establish a new one.

Every community needs a gadfly.

Contact me through the blog or at

HCLV goodies start Monday

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Gadfly’s planning on sessions 1 and 4. How ’bout you? Which are you interested in? The “Trust Building with Law Enforcements” looks especially relevant to concerns in the air locally in the post-GeorgeFloyd era, and perhaps we will have had the promised Public Safety Committee meeting beforehand.

Here are the links to register to each session:


JANUARY 25, 2021

10:00am – 11:15am

Deeper Discussion About Colorism: Unpacking White Privilege in the Latino Community

Presenter: Dr. Griselda Rodriguez Solomon, PhD, City University Of New York Facilitator




FEBRUARY 23, 2021

10:00am – 11:30am

From the Streets of Los Angeles to a Ph.D.: Empowering Students and Families Who Need Us the Most

Presenter: Dr. Paul Hernandez, PhD, The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, Washington, DC.




MARCH 26, 2021

3:00pm – 4:30pm

Destigmatize Mental Health in the Latino Community Presenter: To be announced




APRIL 12, 2021

3:00pm – 4:30pm

Trust Building with Law Enforcements

Presenter & Facilitator: Guillermo Lopez, Intersekt Alliance in Partnership with Praxis Consulting Group

Guest Panelists: Michelle Kott, City of Bethlehem Police Chief and Jason D. Schiffer, Lehigh University Police Chief




JUNE 16, 2021

3:00pm – 4:30pm

Immigration as an Agent of Growth and Innovation

Presenter: Dr. Alberto Cardelle, PhD, Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs, Fitchburg State University, Massachusetts


Councilwoman Crampsie Smith running for re-election

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

For Immediate Release

Contact: 610-554-1857

Grace Crampsie Smith                                                                                       January 22, 2021

Grace Crampsie Smith has announced her candidacy for re-election to Bethlehem City Council. Crampsie Smith was appointed to Council in September, 2019 to fulfill the unexpired term of Shawn Martell, and won election to a 2- year term, effective January 2020.

She is the Chair of the Public Works Committee, and a member of the Public Safety and Community Development Committees.

Crampsie Smith is a School Counselor at Easton Area High School. Previously, she worked as an addictions counselor and administrator of services for those with developmental disabilities, mental health diagnoses, and their families. She has also instructed community college courses that focused on the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In her 1st first year as a council member, she  initiated and co-chairs the Affordable Housing Task Force, which is comprised of members of public and private entities whose goal is to formulate recommendations to address and alleviate the lack of housing that is affordable for working and middle class within the city.

She sponsored a resolution to assure insurance coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) care for 1st responders, and she recently introduced a Responsible Contractor Ordinance.

She is a member of the NAACP Community Advisory Board, Lehigh Valley Regional Housing Advisory Board, Northside 2017, Lehigh Valley ROAR, Lehigh Valley 4 All, Bethlehem City Democratic Committee, Northampton County Council of Democratic Women, Northampton County Democratic Committee, Bethlehem Food Co-op, and American Legion Auxiliary.

Crampsie Smith regularly partners with Pros Fore Clothes to facilitate clothing drives for the homeless and those in need. She also assisted in initiating the Moravian College Block Watch.

Councilwoman Crampsie Smith believes that her interpersonal and professional skills have been a definite asset while serving on council,  and she seeks re-election so she can continue promoting her agenda of  assuring public health and safety, balancing economic development with housing that is inclusive and affordable, and encouraging sound fiscal management.

“While my first year in office has been challenging given the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent challenges, it has been an honor and privilege to represent and serve the members of our diverse Bethlehem community. I look forward to continue to work towards the delicate balance of progress while concurrently preserving our city’s unique history.

She is the grateful  mother of three children: Shannon, a student at Widener Law School, Bridget, a student at Jefferson Medical School, and Brendan, a student at Albright College.

What the Swifts have to teach us: the value of vesper flights

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

“When I read the news and grieve, my mind has more than once turned to vesper flights, to the strength and purpose that can arise from the collaboration of numberless frail and multitudinous souls.”
Helen Macdonald

Saturday morning.

A day off for most of us.

Gadfly imagines you with morning coffee or tea and toast.


With time to read.

And think.

To think of the Swifts and the value of community.

The value of vesper flights far above the madding crowd where we pool our separate selves in this fractured time to chart our common societal journey.


from Helen Macdonald, “The Mysterious Life of Birds Who Never Come Down.” New York Times Magazine, July 29, 2020.

On warm summer evenings, swifts that aren’t sitting on eggs or tending their chicks fly low and fast, screaming in speeding packs around rooftops and spires. Later they gather higher in the sky, their calls now so attenuated by air and distance that to the ear they corrode into something that seems less than sound, to suspicions of dust and glass. And then, all at once, as if summoned by a call or a bell, they fall silent and rise higher and higher until they disappear from view. These ascents are called vespers flights, or vesper flights, after the Latin vesper for evening. Vespers are evening devotional prayers, the last and most solemn of the day, and I have always thought “vesper flights” the most beautiful phrase, an ever-falling blue.

Their vesper flights take them to the top of what is called the convective boundary layer. The C.B.L. is the humid, hazy part of the atmosphere where the ground’s heating by the sun produces rising and falling convective currents, blossoming thermals of hot air; it’s the zone of fair-weather cumulus clouds and everyday life for swifts. Once swifts crest the top of this layer, they are exposed to a flow of wind that’s unaffected by the landscape below but is determined instead by the movements of large-scale weather systems. By flying to these heights, swifts cannot only see the distant clouds of oncoming frontal systems on the twilit horizon, but they can also use the wind itself to assess the possible future courses of these systems. What they are doing is forecasting the weather.

Migratory birds orient themselves through a complex of interacting compass mechanisms. During vesper flights, swifts have access to them all. At this panoptic height, they can see the scattered patterns of the stars overhead, and at the same time they can calibrate their magnetic compasses, getting their bearings according to the light-polarization patterns that are strongest and clearest in twilit skies. Stars, wind, polarized light, magnetic cues, the distant stacks of clouds a hundred miles out, clear cold air, and below them the hush of a world tilting toward sleep or waking toward dawn. What they are doing is flying so high that they can work out exactly where they are, to know what they should do next. They’re quietly, perfectly, orienting themselves.

Swifts don’t make these flights alone. They ascend as flocks every evening before singly drifting down, while in the morning they fly up alone and return to earth together. To orient themselves correctly, to make the right decisions, they need to pay attention not only to the cues of the world around them but also to one another.  Swifts on their vesper flights are working according to what is called the many-wrongs principle. That is, they’re averaging all their individual assessments in order to reach the best navigational decision. If you’re in a flock, decisions about what to do next are improved if you exchange information with those around you. We can speak to one another; what swifts do is pay attention to what other swifts are doing. And in the end it can be as simple as this: They follow one another.

Thinking about swifts has made me think more carefully about the ways in which I’ve dealt with difficulty. When I was small, I comforted myself with thoughts of layers of rising air; later I hid myself among the whispers of recorded works of fiction, helping myself fall asleep by playing audiobooks on my phone. We all have our defenses. Some of them are self-defeating, but others are occasions for joy: the absorption of a hobby, the writing of a poem, speeding on a Harley, the slow assembly of a collection of records or shells. “The best thing for being sad,” said T.H. White’s Merlyn, “is to learn something.” As my friend Christina says, all of us have to live our lives most of the time inside the protective structures that we have built; none of us can bear too much reality. And with the coronavirus pandemic’s terrifying grip on the globe, as so many of us cling desperately to the remnants of what we assumed would always be normality — sometimes in ways that put us, our loved ones and others in danger — my usual defenses against difficulty have begun to feel uncomfortably provisional and precarious.

Swifts have, of late, become my fable of community, teaching us about how to make right decisions in the face of oncoming bad weather. They aren’t always cresting the atmospheric boundary layer at dizzying heights; most of the time they are living below it in thick and complicated air. That’s where they feed and mate and bathe and drink and are. But to find out about the important things that will affect their lives, they must go higher to survey the wider scene, and there communicate with others about the larger forces impinging on their realm.

Not all of us need to make that climb, just as many swifts eschew their vesper flights because they are occupied with eggs and young — but surely some of us are required, by dint of flourishing life and the well-being of us all, to look clearly at the things that are so easily obscured by the everyday. To take time to see the things we need to set our courses toward or against; the things we need to think about to know what we should do next. To trust in careful observation and expertise, in its sharing for the common good. When I read the news and grieve, my mind has more than once turned to vesper flights, to the strength and purpose that can arise from the collaboration of numberless frail and multitudinous souls. If only we could have seen the clouds that sat like dark rubble on our own horizon for what they were; if only we could have worked together to communicate the urgency of what they would become.


Please contribute
let’s break 100 donations

Save Our Swifts

What the Swifts have to teach us

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

“Swifts have, of late, become my fable of community, teaching us about how to make right decisions in the face of oncoming bad weather.”
Helen Macdonald

You have been following Gadfly’s support of our Save Our Swifts campaign spearheaded by Jennie Gilrain and with the blessing of Masonic Temple site developer John Noble. You may have even contributed to the campaign. 91 people have so far, and there’s room for plenty more. (hint, hint)

There’s word on the street that there’s a move afoot to name the Swifts the official bird of the City of Bethlehem.

There’s further whispers of a resolution at the next City Council meeting.

It behooves us to get to know the Swifts.

We may soon be seeing images of them everywhere from on police cars to our water bills.

I can imagine Swifts illuminated on the side of the Hotel Bethlehem at migration time.

Now Gadfly already told you that you could know Swifts by reading scientist/naturalist JJ Audobon, he of considerable fame.

What Gadfly didn’t tell you, however, is that ol’ Audobon is the typical cold, detached scientist.

While not exactly Dr. Frankenstein, he killed and stuffed his birds.

Gadfly couldn’t bear to tell you that before.

On a midnight excursion to the Louisville Sycamore Swift Hotel, JJ and his Igor “caught and killed with as much care as possible more than a hundred [Swifts], stowing them away in [their] pockets and bosoms” for further examination.

Gadfly appreciates the “as much care as possible” gesture, but we’re not talking about love here.

We want to love our Swifts.

With a tip o’ the hat to Jennie, Gadfly would like to recommend “ornitho-poet” Helen Macdonald’s New York Times Magazine essay “The Mysterious Life of Birds Who Never Come Down.” 

Here we will find love.

Here we will find respect.

Here we will find awe.

Gadfly gives you a taste:

The bird was suffused with a kind of seriousness very akin to holiness. . . . Swifts are magical in the manner of all things that exist just a little beyond understanding. . . .  they are creatures of the upper air, and of their nature unintelligible, which makes them more akin to angels. . . . If the swifts were flying low over rooftops, I’d see one open its mouth, and that was truly uncanny, because the gape was huge, turning the bird into something uncomfortably like a miniature basking shark. . . . They still seem to me the closest things to aliens on Earth. I’ve seen them up close now, held a live grounded adult in my hands before letting it fall back into the sky. You know those deep-sea fish dragged by nets from fathoms of blackness, how obvious it is that they aren’t supposed to exist where we are? The adult swift was like that in reverse. Its frame was tough and spare, and its feathers were bleached by the sun. Its eyes seemed unable to focus on me, as if it were an entity from an alternate universe whose senses couldn’t quite map onto our phenomenal world. . . . They mate on the wing. And while young martins and swallows return to their nests after their first flights, young swifts do not. As soon as they tip themselves free of the nest hole, they start flying, and they will not stop flying for two or three years, bathing in rain, feeding on airborne insects, winnowing fast and low to scoop fat mouthfuls of water from lakes and rivers. . . . Common swifts spend only a few months on their breeding grounds, another few months in winter over the forests and fields of sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the time they’re moving, making a mockery of borders. 

Gadfly usually gives you selections and then a link to full articles or news stories. A bow to your busy lives.

But he would really like you to read this whole article.

It’s kinda long for sure.

But it’s exquisitely written and should not be excerpted.

Look for the phenomenon of “vesper flights.”

See what the Swifts have to teach us.

And be ready to tell me what you think.


Save Our Swifts

Riverport starting to whet our appetites!

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

Such good news! (Reminds Gadfly to wonder what’s happening lately on the Banana Factory renovation front.) The Morning Call online article linked below has a great image gallery at which you should look.


selections from Ryan Kneller, “First four vendors, including a brewery and Mexican eatery, announced for Bethlehem’s Riverport Public Market.” Morning Call, January 19, 2021.

The first four vendors of a highly anticipated public market on Bethlehem’s South Side have been announced, and they are likely to make your mouth water.

A start-up brewery, a local winery, a Mexican restaurant and a micro creamery have signed on to occupy the Riverport Public Market. The center is set to open later this year at the site of the former Starters Riverport restaurant at 17 W. Second St., the market and principals of Ashley Development Corporation announced in a Tuesday news release.

Before the pandemic, experiential concepts were among the strongest performers in both the retail and [food and beverage] world,” Natalia Stezenko, the market’s design and project manager, said in the release. “The pandemic has put those concepts on hold, and many experiential players that were thriving will simply not make it through the crisis without help. But, we see the public market model as the vehicle which can lead a resurgence of the experiential retail and F&B economy.”

In terms of a tentative opening date, the development team is “optimistic for November,” Stezenko added.

The forthcoming market’s vendors include:

Soaked Winery: Soaked Winery aims to create an environment “where everyone is welcome and where the stuffy heirs of wine snobbery fall by the wayside.”

Jealous Star Brewing Co.: Jealous Star Brewing Co. is the brainchild of restaurateur Ramiro Bravo, brewer Brendon Velasquez and Tim Kiss. The brewery, whose name is derived from Norse mythology, will focus attention on hand-picking ingredients catering to each style of beer.

TYT Lite: TYT Lite will be a new fast-casual Mexican concept from Ramiro Bravo, owner of Tacos Y Tequila in downtown Allentown and Palmer Township. TYT Lite will have street tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas and nachos on the menu for your on-the-go authentic Mexican cuisine fix.

Batch Microcreamery: Established in 2019, Batch will open a third location at the upcoming Riverport Market in Bethlehem. The micro creamery, which also has locations at the Downtown Allentown Market and newly opened Trolley Barn Public Market in Quakertown, offers super premium, hand-crafted ice cream that is made on-site.

Riverport Public Market, occupying a two-story, 24,000-square-foot space, will feature 24 food and beverage vendors and create “a vibrant new place to celebrate local food and craft culture,” according to the release.

In addition to showcasing unique, freshly made food and other high-quality selections from artisans, the market will host a variety of cooking classes and events featuring instructors ranging from in-house vendors and local chefs to nationally known cookbook authors in a demonstration kitchen.

“We seek harm to none and harmony for all”

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.”

Amanda Gorman was an Inauguration sensation with her poem “The Hill We Climb.”

Find information on her below provided by a member of a discussion list to which Gadfly belongs.

Some of his favorite lines in the poem are here. What are yours?

We are striving to forge our union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

“The Hill We Climb”

The following information on Gorman provided by Abdul Alkalimat:

Now 22-years-old, West LA raised Gorman was named Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles at the age of 16. At 19, while in college at Harvard, she was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate.

The poem she read

The position of Youth Poet Laureate


Her website

Her inaugural reading


Her poetry

Her other readings

Oprah gave her earrings

“But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.”

An opportunity to step up: “our city needs your civic engagement”

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

The City just published the following announcement seeking applications for volunteer positions on the City Authorities, Boards, and Commissions — what Gadfly calls our ABC’s.

The primary election is May 18. We will be electing a mayor and City Council members. But sometimes we too little recognize that a lot of the City work and a lot of the decisions are made by volunteer residents serving on the ABC’s.

The City is looking for volunteers. Now is the time for you to think about where you can participate.

Follow the link in the announcement to the list of ABC’s. If unsure about what one of the ABC’s does or what you might be suitable for, you can talk to Alex Karras in the Mayor’s office

The City has been responsive to calls for new blood on the ABC’s, especially from women and people of color.

For a pep talk, I recommend Councilwoman Negron’s still relevant 2019 article posted below.


Appointments Available For Bethlehem Residents Interested in Serving on Authorities, Boards, Commissions

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Appointments are available for Bethlehem residents who may be interested in serving on one of our various authorities, boards, and commissions!

Please review the following link for information specific to each of them:

Interested citizens are encouraged to send their letter of interest and resume to the Office of the Mayor at


Olga Negron, “Your View by Bethlehem councilwoman: Want to help democracy? Serve on a government board.” Morning Call, August 31, 2019.

Voting in national elections is important, but it’s only one of many ways that citizens can fulfill their duty to contribute to the governance of their communities and country.

I’m Councilwoman Olga Negron, vice president of Bethlehem City Council and the first woman of color elected to Bethlehem City Council. Getting elected to City Council was not a matter of chance or luck. I’ve been civically engaged all my life. Before running for local office, I served in many volunteer positions within the city, such as on the Planning Commission, the Public Library Board and many other nonprofit boards.

As a member of these governing bodies, and now as an elected official, I’m here to tell you that our city needs your civic engagement.

A few highly visible decision-making positions in local government are elected positions and each of us has to be a resident of our municipality in order to hold that post (mayor, city council, etc.).

However, that’s not the only way to be part of the decisions about what happens in our city. There are many, other extremely important nonelected positions in local government that need to be filled by volunteers, such as positions on the Public NegronLibrary Board, Fine Arts Commission, Housing Authority, Human Relations Commission, Board of Historical and Architectural Review, City Planning Commission, Environmental Advisory Council, Historic Conservation Commissions, Parking Authority, Recreation Commission, Redevelopment Authority, Zoning Hearing Board.

Although some positions have residency requirements, in many cases people who sit on these commissions and boards don’t live in our city.

We also have individuals who have been members of the same board or commission for 15 to 20 years, and some individuals are members of two or three boards at the same time. Why, you might wonder?

Some of these positions require an expertise (electrical, health, financial, etc.). And these are also nonpaid positions, which makes it more difficult to find individuals willing to serve.

Many times when there are vacancies, they need to be filled rather quickly and the person charged with selecting nominees is “stuck” with the same few individuals.

However, it’s important to know that not all positions require a specific expertise; most just require a dedicated person with common sense and love for our city who is willing to be the voice of their community.

As a member of city council, I understand that one of my roles is to provide a check and balance on the mayor of the city and at the same time to be the voice of the people.

But the people in our city have diverse voices, and what we need is more of that diversity working in our government. That’s why I’m reaching out to challenge every single one of you to get civically engaged, to share your talents and put them to work for the betterment of our city. Don’t wait until you are negatively impacted by a government decision to get involved in local decisions.

A functioning democracy requires citizens who care what their government is doing and who put the time in to make it work for them. At the municipal level, you can have an impact on the political.

When citizens get involved in local government, they make it possible for government to do more than elected officials could accomplish alone.

Just this year, the city’s Environmental Advisory Council proposed several ordinances that would otherwise never become a possibility.

When members of local boards and commissions tell us what they think is good for the city, their views can have a significant impact on the decisions that elected officials make.

By getting involved in local government, you can make a big difference in the governance of our collective life and community long before the 2020 presidential election arrives.

City: info on vaccine and on utility bills

Bethlehem Health Bureau To Expand Vaccine Distribution

Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez announces that the Bethlehem Health Bureau will expand vaccine distribution.

The Bethlehem Health Bureau will now expand COVID-19 vaccines to individuals age 65 or older and individuals 18-64 years of age with certain medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from the virus.

“The Bethlehem Health Bureau has done an outstanding job vaccinating over 2,850 individuals in the first priority group.  We now look forward to vaccinating additional individuals who are now eligible to receive the vaccine,” Mayor Bob Donchez stated.

The Bethlehem Health Bureau is expected to receive vaccine shipments on a weekly basis. The Bethlehem Health Bureau will continue to provide updates as to when the vaccine will be made available to additional groups.

For a complete list of groups who are eligible to get vaccinated in the 1A phase or to schedule an appointment at one of our upcoming clinics, please visit and click on the COVID-19 vaccine tab.

Proof that individuals are eligible to receive a vaccine in the 1A phase will be required at the time of appointment.

Individuals can contact the Bethlehem Health Bureau at (610) 865-7083 with any questions.


Mayor Bob Donchez announced today that the City of Bethlehem is experiencing significant delays affecting delivery of customer utility bills due to problems within the US Postal Service as they deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and backlog from the Christmas holiday season.  Utility bills (which include water, sewer, and recycling charges to city residents) are running two to three weeks behind schedule.

Due to these problems which are outside the customer’s control, the City has suspended all penalties and late fees on overdue utility bills until March 31, 2021. We appreciate our customer’s patience as we work with the USPS to rectify the situation.

USPS expects to catch up with their backlog and resume normal delivery schedule in the next few weeks.

Dana Grubb entering the mayoral race

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Lifelong City Resident and Former City Worker

To Announce Candidacy for Bethlehem Mayor


For Immediate Release

Lifelong Bethlehem resident and former City administrator Dana Grubb will announce his candidacy for the 2021 Mayoral Election on Wednesday, January 27. The announcement will be made at 11 am at the Steel Ice Center, 320 East First Street on the South Side. All persons at the event must be masked; social distancing will be required.

Grubb, who served as the city’s Grants Administrator and the Deputy Director of Community Development among other offices, will lay out the key tenets of his candidacy and reveal some of the principles by which he intends to govern. Not a career politician, and known for a principled work ethic, Grubb brings to his candidacy not only solid experience with the City’s governance but also a background as a small business owner and a journalist. Most of all, he brings his deep and abiding love of the city, and a genuine desire to make it a better place.

Press Contact: Deb Courville 570-996-7534 (SMS & voice)/

Northside 2027: supporting the housing market

The latest in a series of posts on Northside 2027

The third main area that Planning Director Heller reviewed at the Northside 2027 meeting a week ago was housing.

Different from other programs where home ownership is the focus, here in this area in which there are a lot of rentals, the goal is quality rental properties and support for the landlords.

Main issues include code enforcement and trash hauling.




Bethlehem City Council meetings tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 19, 6:00PM and 7PM

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

Click for agenda and documents

See below for comment instructions

City Council — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — meets tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 19, Community Development Committee at 6:00 and regular Council meeting at 7PM.

You can watch the City Council meetings on the following YouTube channel: City of Bethlehem Council


6:00PM: Community Development Committee

  • Proposed Ordinances Related to Third-Party Inspections: Councilman Callahan proposed this during the budget process as a way of saving money by cutting positions while speeding up the inspection process. If the discussion at the budget hearing is any clue, this discussion could be “hot.”

7PM: The regularly scheduled Council meeting

Of interest:

  • To Gadfly’s eye, there’s nothing obviously “hot” on this agenda

But there’s always the unexpected.

As long as he has flutter in his wings, Gadfly urges attending City Council.

Be informed. Be involved.




REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council meeting, please sign up per the instructions below or call into the meeting when the Council President announces he will take public comment calls.

If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office ( no later than 2:00 PM on the day of the meeting: (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments. If you are signed up to speak, the City Council President will call you from (610) 997-7963.

After all signed-up speakers talk, the Council President will ask whether anyone else would like to make public comments. If you want to speak at that time, call the Bethlehem City Council public comment phone line at (610) 997-7963.


Calls to the public comment phone number will only be accepted during the designated public comment period with a 5 minute time limit.

If you call and the line is busy, please call back when the current speaker is finished.

As soon as your call begins, please turn off all speakers, computer speakers, televisions, or radios.

At the start of your call, please state your name and address.

A five minute time limit will apply to any public comments.

Northside 2027: fostering economic vitality

The latest in a series of posts on Northside 2027

The next series of recommendations that Planning Director Heller reviewed at the January 12 Northside 2027 meeting had to do with the economics of Broad St. and Linden St., streets with “two different personalities.”

We have a challenging block on Broad St., with vacancies such as the Boyd Theater and with the Pentamation building that doesn’t interact with its surroundings.

Linden is more of a neighborhood community area, and the talk there went to branding, the creation of an identity for that corridor. Special events? And there should be an attempt to attract new businesses and support those that are there.




to be continued . . .

Audobon’s obsession with Swifts

Latest in a series of posts on the Swifts

The Swifts are coming in April!
Won’t you join with us and contribute?
Click here for the GoFundMe page.


“When about to descend into a hollow tree or a chimney, its flight, always rapid, is suddenly interrupted as if by magic, for down it goes in an instant, whirling in a peculiar manner, and whirring with its wings, so as to produce a sound in the chimney like the rumbling of very distant thunder.”
John James Audobon, c. 1830s

John James Audobon had an obsession about Swifts.

In the delightful chapter on the “American Swift” in his classic The Birds of America, Audobon takes us back to the Swift’s pre-chimney days in the “ancient tenements” in the almost illimitable forests of America, especially in the “Sycamores of gigantic growth. . . . those patriarchs of the forest rendered habitable by decay.”

Audobon is captivated by the Swifts abiding in a two feet in diameter hollowed branch forty feet up on a huge Louisville sycamore sixty or seventy feet high and seven or eight feet in diameter at the base.

Audobon not only watches the Swifts, he meticulously counts them.

He not only watches the Swifts, but, ear against tree trunk, he listens to them.

He not only watches the Swifts from a distance, but he scrambles forty feet up the tree to view then, voyeur-like, through a window he bores.

He not only watches the Swifts from the outside, but, if Gadfly reads him right, he goes inside the hollow tree.

He not only watches the Swifts when they are awake, he anticipates the dawn to experience their dramatic awakening:

Next morning I rose early enough to reach the place long before the least appearance of daylight, and placed my head against the tree. All was silent within. I remained in that posture probably twenty minutes, when suddenly I thought the great tree was giving way, and coming down upon me. Instinctively I sprung from it, but when I looked up to it again, what was my astonishment to see it standing as firm as ever. The Swallows were now pouring out in a black continued stream. I ran back to my post, and listened in amazement to the noise within, which I could compare to nothing else than the sound of a large wheel revolving under a powerful stream. It was yet dusky, so that I could hardly see the hour on my watch, but I estimated the time which they took in getting out at more than thirty minutes. After their departure, no noise was heard within, and they dispersed in every direction with the quickness of thought.

Yes, John James Audobon had an obsession about Swifts.

But he has nothing on Jennie Gilrain.

Any day now Gadfly expects to find Jennie rappeling up (hmm, can you rappel “up”?) the Masonic Temple chimney.

He has Bethlehem native Jim Friedman, NBC10 photo-journalist, on speed dial.

So, yes, Jennie Gilrain also has an obsession about Swifts. That’s a good thing. Without it, we wouldn’t have a campaign to save them.

Gadfly invites you to take a few minutes to read Audobon’s short charming pioneer study of the Swifts.


Gadfly is distressed to receive anxious notes from eager potential contributors to the Save Our Swifts campaign who can’t locate the GoFundMe page. O my. Here it is! Right here .

Northside 2027: fostering a safe and vibrant public realm

The latest in a series of posts on Northside 2027

We continue providing info on the kickoff meeting of Northside 2027 last Tuesday.

Here Planning Director Heller surveys some of the recommendations on the slides in the “Foster a Safe and Vibrant Public Realm” part of the plan: return Linden and Center to 2-way, grants and improvements for Monocacy Way, traffic calming, pedestrian and bike safety, priority on Linden Street, problematic intersections, street trees, public art, adding greenery.

This is the best Gadfly can do with slide size. If there is something you can’t make out, let Gadfly know.





to be continued . . .

Reckoning with Racism

Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder

These two of the most familiar Insurrection Day images demonstrate that we have a ways to go toward achieving the American Dream of a multi-racial democracy in which all people are truly equal.

Gadfly is fond of saying that the murder of George Floyd triggered (another) national reckoning with race. And fond of saying that the Bethlehem Area Public Library has done a wonderful job of providing resources and programs that enable us to do the kind of reading, viewing, thinking, discussing, learning that that reckoning requires of us if that death is to have any lasting meaning.

Gadfly recommends these two programs now in progress.

Sundays January 3, 10, 17, 24 from 12:00-1:30

Information and registration

Note especially Rayah Levy, “The Modern African American Experience in Bethlehem,” January 24


The next two meetings of our “conversations” will be based on the last two chapters of Kendi’s book, but the discussion is free-ranging, and you can profit even if you can’t complete the reading.

register here