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Latest in a series on Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan

Gadfly calls attention to Hannah Provost’s detailed article in Southsider about the second community meeting October 7 on the developing Climate Action Plan.

Gadfly called attention to this important meeting, but there is much more substantive information in Hannah’s article.

The key thing is that we now have the opportunity to provide input to the draft plan that will be presented at the next public meeting.

Gadfly encourages you to read Hannah’s article and to make your contributions.

Time is short.

Input will be accepted through Sunday, November 1.

Hannah Provost, “Bethlehem Seeks Community Response to Climate Action Plan.” Southsider, October 27, 2020.

“The City of Bethlehem and consultant WSP are actively constructing the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan (CAP), and currently are seeking community feedback about their proposal. On October 7th, 2020, the City hosted the second community-wide webinar during the design process. The October CAP community meeting presented the progress for the design of the CAP based on the previous community response, and further garnered community input, this time on more specific possibilities and strategies. In November, the design committee, lead by Jeff Irvine, for the Bethlehem Climate Action Plan will present a draft of the plan to the community in a third webinar, with an opportunity for further feedback. Ultimately, the full plan is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2021. This article captures the ongoing community dialogue about strategies for city wide environmental justice, and highlights further opportunities for the reader to have their voice heard and contribute to the construction of the Climate Action Plan.”

To identify climate hazards facing Bethlehem on our community map, visit map.bethlehemcap.org. (1-2 minutes)

To review the plan’s full list of draft strategies and indicate your priorities, visit survey.bethlehemcap.org (As little as 5-10 minutes)

Maybe movement on the wage equity ordinance

Latest in a series of posts on wage equality

Wage Equality Memo (1)

Gadfly gets asked on a fairly regular basis if he knows what’s happening with Councilman Callahan’s wage equality ordinance.

The basic idea is that this ordinance (which is gaining nationwide acceptance) hopes to free women from the spiraling financial trap of beginning their work careers at a low salary while they progress in their careers. Employers will not be able to ask a female applicant her past salary and low-ball her salary-wise on the new job.

The proposal has been stalled since pre-pandemic days in Councilman Callahan’s Human Resources Committee (Olga Negron and Paige Van Wirt are the other committee members) over the enforcement piece of the ordinance.

And the collegiality on the committee is fractured, as Gadfly has chronicled (click wage equity on the right-hand sidebar under Topics).

However, at City Council October 20, Councilman Callahan advised of several matters that relate to the enforcement piece:

  • Both Lehigh and Northampton Counties are forming Human Relations Commissions, so Bethlehem cases can go there for enforcement.
  • Councilman Callahan has volunteered to serve on one of the Commissions.
  • Councilman Callahan has consulted with lawyers who have told him that really all he need worry about is passing the ordinance not the enforcement piece.
  • Councilman Callahan has determined that the standard lawyer fee for representation before a magistrate is $500.
  • Councilman Callahan is consulting with the State Ethics Commission and researching whether it’s legal for his PAC to contribute $2000 to cover the first 4 women who bring a case.
  • If that is not legal, Councilman Callahan will see if he can contribute that amount from his business.
  • Gadfly is not sure why these avenues are being pursued if the cases are going to be heard by the new county commissions.

So Councilman Callahan is seeking a meeting time with his committee to do the necessary to now move the ordinance on to the full City Council.

NCC interview with Justan Parker (2)

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

The 2020 NCC Peace and Social Justice Conference
October 13-15

Black Lives Matter panel video

So we’re doing the Gadfly slow walk again.

Taking advantage of what the NCC conference provided.

Taking our time and listening to the guy who created the local Black lives matter group (but not affiliated with the national organization).

And please do listen. Gadfly’s text is only paraphrase, trying to give you the gist.

You must hear tone of voice.

You must hear the human being.

And, again, Gadfly seeks other perspectives on what Justan says.

Please address his specific comments directly rather than employing generalities.

What would you say if you were in a face-to-face conversation with Justan?

———–

What can we do at the community level? What can we do as an average citizen to educate our average neighbors? (3 mins.)

Get to know your neighbor better. Engage with your neighbor. Even if he has a Trump sign. Build better neighborhoods and better communities one relationship at a time. That’s an ideal. But some people won’t believe that Black lives matter, and then you are in for a big unlearning process, unlearning what people have been raised with, what they have been taught. It’s all about educating. Some people you will not be able to reach.

 

What do you make of the Blue lives matter slogan? (2 mins.)

When you’re the victim and people are rallying around the abuser, that’s traumatic. A blue life is a profession, but it’s not a life. There are no blue people. As a profession, we want to make sure police officers aren’t getting hurt. I don’t know anybody who says let’s go out and hurt police. They can take that uniform off at the end of the day; Black and Brown people cannot take their skin off. Nor can we hide in any way shape or form. So the response that blue lives matter is traumatic. Saying this without any malice, there is no such thing as a blue life. We have to start calling that what it is.

 

What do you perceive about the Allentown or Bethlehem police — or about the counter-protestors? (3 mins.)

Based on experience in Allentown and Pen Argyl, not Bethlehem. The police officers are there to do a job. We don’t ask permission to protest. We take to the streets to express our frustrations and concerns and to speak to those who want to hear our message. I have a good relationship with the Allentown Chief. We don’t agree, but we can talk. The police presence is there to protect people on both sides. I’m not big on counter-protesting — we don’t do that. The police officers asked us to stay on the sidewalks. Our beef is with the culture, with how we’re treated. There’s some bad cops, some bad apples. If you don’t call them out, you are a bad apple too. Accountability. Your inaction is action.

A different perspective

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

Bud Hackett is a Bethlehem resident who raised 4 kids in the City. He recently became very interested in quality of life issues in the city and hopes to offer a balance to the approach City Council is taking.

ref: NCC interview with Justan Parker (1)

Here Mr. Gadfly is a different perspective. Maybe not from NCC, but still good, I think

Very thought provoking video.  It asked me some tough questions that when considered, help me make some choices:
•       I want free speech and protection of my (and others) religious values.
•       Don’t want all this cancel culture people telling me what I should and shouldn’t say and think.
•       Best way to help people is with a job. Want policies that grow the economy.
•       Taxes are much too high, government seems to take enough of our money. I share my wealth with my church and the social organizations I can see doing good work. Don’t decide for me where my money should go.
•       Don’t refund the police, help to make them more effective and cost-effective. Not surprising that some communities want less police involvement in their affairs, like the loud motorcycle and loud car community clearly do not want police out there telling them to be quiet.
•       Schools taxes are amount my greatest expense.  Just not seeing the value with so many kids coming out with bad attitudes and low skills. Need more school choice. Why does 50% of my school tax go to support teachers pensions so they can live so much better that I will ever live. That’s fair?
•       Before President Obama, the heath care crises was about costs, then they increased the number of folks getting free health care. So who pays? The payer community – me.
•       Immigration, is it any surprise that the liberal Democrats want more people in the country who will vote for Democrats?
•       Energy and climate is a balance. Don’t shut the economy down to reduce risk to zero.
•       We are part of the international community, but we shouldn’t have to pay to support and defend all the other countries. Help those in need. Get others to pay their fair share.
•       We choose an America that treats people fairly, encourages good work so that more people can be healthy, wealthy and kind.

Here’s the video:       https://youtu.be/D5eIRVPduzI

Bud

Voices opposed to regulating student housing

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

proposed ordinance to regulate student housing

Overview of Student Housing Ordinance (1)

video of October 22 Community Development Committee meeting

So now let’s begin talking about the Community Development Committee meeting last Thursday on a proposed ordinance regulating student housing.

Gadfly has spent much energy on this issue. If you missed all that and are shamed and sorry, click “Southside” on the right-hand sidebar.

This issue of regulating student housing has been in the air for decades, is almost as old as Gadfly #1 Stephen Antalics, and Gadfly is glad to see it finally “on the table,” and is in favor of its passage.

Public comment was of as high a quality as Gadfly has ever seen it — what Gadfly loves about being a gadfly is amplifying and archiving resident response. It’s usually a joy.

About 20 residents commented at the meeting, the overwhelming majority in favor of the ordinance.

But following Gadfly’s desire for balance and hearing all sides, let’s begin with the three commenters who opposed the ordinance.

Gadfly always wants to know and to weigh positions contrary to his own.

We should understand and respect those positions.

Southside landlord (1) (7 mins.)

A man whose name I couldn’t get but who is associated with a business that owns many properties in Bethlehem doesn’t see the need for the ordinance, though he doesn’t go into detail about the reasons why, indicating that they have been expressed before. If there is to be an ordinance, however, he suggests some changes, such as a problem with the definition of student; if there is to be limitation outside the boundary, there should be enhancement within; the boundaries should be expanded; changes in signage regulations. Changes on these subjects would make the ordinance more practical and more enforceable. Council should ask itself these questions: “What is the real issue we are trying to solve?” “Is this ordinance the best way to solve that problem?”

 

Southside landlord (2) (7 mins.)

A multiple property owner since 2003 (couldn’t catch his name).  “What problem is this ordinance trying to solve?” Parking? Noise? Litter? Overcrowding? Affordable housing? Development? Design? He’s still not clear on the problem its attempting to solve. Perhaps the purpose needs to be honed to effect meaningful change. Broad scope means tough to enforce. Affordable housing seems the main issue, and he’s 100% in agreement. But there is no affordability crisis in Bethlehem. Prices rising nationwide, nothing here specific to Southside. Drill down to the facts. Dozens of homes for sale now in South Bethlehem with mortgages less than rents. He is (was?) part of a City committee on affordable housing. Consultant came up with proposals, and student regulation was not one of them. The City committee has not discussed any of the consultant’s proposals. Only 5% of City rentals are student rentals and are inspected annually, while some of the others have not been inspected for decades. Who’s been advocating for those others? Many in substandard conditions. Ends with defense of students.

 

A DeSales student (2 mins.)

Wants to move off campus to further maturity by providing for himself. People he knows have been robbed by residents. So it’s not fair to assume that college students are causing problems. Wants to further his life experience in college and regulation will limit that possibility.

to be continued . . .

“I tried to think of an alternative path”

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

Gadfly often asks you to role play.

Try this one on.

A woman’s experience with two different strangers in her house, two different calls to the police.

Involving so many issues that we have been exploring here on the Gadfly.

Abstract theory meets terrifying reality.

If her, what would your final decision have been?

“Should I Help Incarcerate the Man Who Tried to Sexually Assault Me?
I thought I was a prison abolitionist. But then a stranger broke in to my bedroom.”
Ayelet Waldman

He was the first stranger to enter our house in 105 days. It was 4:13 a.m. on a Friday, and my husband, who works at night in an office in our backyard, was listening to music with headphones. He didn’t hear the stranger pass through the gate, walk up the back steps, and enter through the back door of our house.

I woke when the man switched on the bedroom light. For an instant, I was simply confused, befuddled by sleep. The stranger was standing by the side of my bed. His wide, protuberant eyes stared down at me, and there seemed to be something like a smile on his face. I asked the obvious questions. I can’t remember my exact words, but they were the questions of someone whose bewilderment was turning rapidly to terror. Who are you? What are you doing? The stranger told me he had permission to be in my room. You said it would be all right. He took a step closer to the bed. He slipped his hands under the covers, and I felt the shock of his fingers sliding up my leg. . . .

The Atlantic, September 29, 2020

tip o’ the hat to Joyce Hinnefeld

NCC interview with Justan Parker (1)

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

The 2020 NCC Peace and Social Justice Conference
October 13-15

Black Lives Matter panel video

So much going on, Gadfly has gotten behind on conveying material he found so interesting at the NCC conference.

Remember that there was a presentation by the police “abolitionist” from Minneapolis that we slow-walked through. That was the first time that Gadfly had been able to hear an abolitionist in a low-key, low pressure, non-political, academic setting,

Same with the Black Lives Matter session. Justan Parker, head of Black Lives Matter Lehigh Valley, answered questions for an hour or so in the same kind of relaxed environment.

Gadfly’s going to break that interview up into short segments over several posts the better for you to focus on the questions and Justan’s answers.

The movement “Black Lives Matter” and the term “Black lives matter” are hot-buttons, and, as with the abolitionist, Gadfly appreciated the peace and time to reflect on them with the leader of a local group.

Gadfly has always sought different perspectives, and it occurs to him that it would make for good conversation if people with opposing views responded to Justan’s specific questions and specific answers.

“All lives matter” is such a standard come-back to “Black lives matter” that Gadfly wonders if someone(s) would want to respond to Justan here.

Perhaps someone who has parried “Black lives matter” with “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter” could spin out their position a bit more so that we could compare.

(Gadfly encourages you to listen to the audios. Do not just depend on his paraphrases.)

———–

How did you happen to form the LV chapter of Black Lives Matter? (5 mins.)

Parker recounts how 4 years ago he engaged in a solitary protest that went nowhere, and this year after Floyd he did the same thing and the response was so large that he formed Black Lives Matter Lehigh Valley, a grassroots group focused on the local area and not affiliated with the national BLM organization. Anyone can use the term, he said, it does not have to be associated with the national organization. With no political experience — “we’ll learn along the way” — he and a group of people interested in racial equality started activities including interacting with the Allentown Police Department and Allentown City Council and protests trying to get local people involved. Forget “Black Lives Matter” as an organization, he says, “Black lives matter” is only a sentence. The goal is peace, social justice, equality, and equity for all Black and Brown people.

 

Why do you protest? (1 min.)

It’s trauma related. When you see on tv over and over again a Black man with a knee on his neck, that is trauma. That could be me or one of my family and friends. When you see that, you need a channel to express your frustration and anger. People think of peaceful or non-violent protests an oxymoron, but they aren’t. We can be vocal and not violent.

 

How do you respond to “All lives matter”? (2 mins.)

All lives matter, but all lives don’t matter till the black ones do. Come out of your tunnel vision to understand how hurtful that phrase is. It’s shutting down the idea that Black lives matter. It’s like saying to a cancer patient that, yes, you have breast cancer but all cancers matter. Yes, we understand the all lives matter, but right now we’re talking about the disenfranchised ones, the oppressed ones, the murdered ones — it’s dismissive. No one is saying that all lives don’t matter. We’re talking about people that have been enslaved and undergone subsequent discriminations. We’re still feeling the negative effects of that. Our job is to engage and educate people to exactly what we are saying. It’s not political, it’s human decency to say Black lives matter.

Gadfly thinking about Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

“We should take this opportunity for self-reflection and to critique ourselves, and if necessary implement constructive recommendations that will continue to make the Bethlehem Police Department the best in the Lehigh Valley.”
Mayor Donchez, August 11, 2020

“Capt. Kott will no doubt bring a new perspective and energy to the department. . . . She’s a strong advocate of community policing, partnerships, and she has additional training in the areas of mental health, cultural awareness, de-escalation tactics, implicit bias training and crisis intervention.”
Mayor Donchez, September 23, 2020

The Mayor has requested a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting for this Thursday October 29 at 6PM.

The topic: Interaction of the Police Department/Health Bureau/Recreation/Department of Community and Economic Development.

Gadfly is not sure what the Mayor has in mind for this meeting. He assumes it is at least in part if not totally a response to the murder of George Floyd. And he looks forward to the meeting being productive.

Gadfly can’t be sure, but he doesn’t think it will be the kind of meeting (or series of meetings) he has been thinking about, one which is a more in-depth conversation about the Police Department itself.

Both the Mayor and the then Police Chief quickly made good statements subsequent to the Floyd murder, and the City was quick to produce relevant statistics and reports.

But neither statement indicated using the moment of the murder for an internal taking stock of the way the department does its business. There was no indication that this was a time for internal self-analysis. The Mayor indicated that he would be listening for good ideas, by which he seemed to mean from the outside. Gadfly, in fact, remembers the Chief ascribing the level of violence used by officers to the level of violence offered by subjects, which completely missed the point of the “mental health” issue in some subjects where tragedies occur that the Floyd death has foregrounded.

Gadfly implies nothing negative about our police department. Indeed, the fact that our department undertook a rigorous review and reform subsequent to the Hirko case a generation ago and now has a rather unique dual accreditation is very impressive and much to be applauded.

But Gadfly envisions a more “politic” statement subsequent to the Floyd murder along the lines of “we” (the City/Police Department) feel confident we are ship-shape but still “we” (from the inside) are going to take this cultural moment of public concern to do self-analysis anyway just to be sure and to be able to further instill confidence in the public about the way we do business.

And Gadfly can envision a City Council saying we recognize the accredited stature of the department and we imply nothing negative about its policies and procedures, but it is our responsibility to respond to this cultural moment by holding the kind of public conversation about issues that the Floyd murder have highlighted and which we have never had before.

So in his statement above about new Chief Kott, the Mayor indicates some specific topics for self-analysis and for those conversations: community policing, partnerships, mental health, cultural awareness, de-escalation tactics, implicit bias training, and crisis intervention.

A syllabus to which you have seen Gadfly in past posts adding recruiting and diversity hiring, promotion practices, internal discipline, residency incentives, the role of the Union in personnel matters, a citizen review board.

The department made various statistics public. Gadfly, remembering that Prof Ochs saw things there that others didn’t, wonders about seeking outside professional viewpoints on those statistics.

And Gadfly would certainly like to hear a detailed plan for involving the police in the Community Engagement Initiative since they are the “key factor” in its success.

Gadfly hopes that any changes that might be contemplated during Thursday’s meeting are more than just cosmetic.

Gadfly hears the tough words by a commenter at Council (was it July 7?) to the effect that we don’t need more pizza parties.

Your ideas, as always, invited.

CNN uses the Morning Call for report: “How the decline of local news affect communities”

CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Brian Steltzer, October 25, 2020

CNN’s Brian Steltzer’s segment on the Morning Call yesterday (click link above) gives us a good opportunity to reflect on the possibility that Bethlehem will become a news desert.

Thankfully, Christina Tatu seems to have replaced Bethlehem veteran Nicole Radziewicz on the Bethlehem beat. For now, anyway.

But the Morning Call, while it gamely moves on, will likely devote less and less coverage to Bethlehem.

Just yesterday afternoon Gadfly and a follower were talking over his back fence about things we would like see covered and need to be covered that are now not being covered.

We do get coverage from lehighvalleylive.com and WFMZ, but it’s not the same as having media based here.

And godhelpus if we have to depend on Facebook and the social media etceteras.

What to do?

  • More than once in these pages Gadfly has recommended subscribing to the Bethlehem Press in greater numbers and pressing for a wider and deeper coverage, with more in the way of analysis, of Bethlehem political issues. A community newspaper must survive. It’s not very expensive.
  • Make sure that there is a replacement for Gadfly, who plans to retire Election Day +1 next May. Applications now being received. Who will step up?
  • Encourage more blogs, more citizen journalism — providing more comprehensive coverage and especially alternate viewpoints. Who will step up?

Be sure to see the wonderful 50-picture photo gallery at the head of the following article. Great pictorial history of the paper.

Clarification: A follower points out that my wording might imply criticism of Nicole Radzievich. Ouch! Did not intend that. I meant to say that it was good to see that the hole left by the long-standing, respected NR was filled and not left empty.

Selections from Jon Harris and Andrew Wagaman, “The Morning Call to vacate Allentown office building after 100 years in downtown location.” Morning Call, August 12, 2020.

The Morning Call has called Sixth and Linden streets in downtown Allentown home since 1920.

One hundred years later, Tribune Publishing, which owns the newspaper, has decided to permanently vacate The Morning Call’s longtime home at 101 N. Sixth St. The news was announced Wednesday in an internal email from Morning Call interim General Manager Timothy Thomas, a decision made amid a pandemic that kept many employees working at home and had the newspaper’s parent company searching for ways to save money as advertising revenue dwindled.

“This decision was not made lightly or hastily,” said Thomas, who has been interim general manager since early 2019. “Instead, amid a pandemic that prevents us from safely returning to the office for an undetermined period of time, the company has decided to formally close our portion of the Sixth Street facility sometime in the near future. Once we have a firm date, we will update everyone.”

It remains unclear whether The Morning Call will find another office for its roughly 100 employees, though Thomas said the newspaper would look for a cross-docking and distribution center nearby to replace the existing operation. Employees are being asked to retrieve personal items from the office by Sept. 15.

“Out of an abundance of caution we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” Tribune spokesperson Max Reinsdorf said. “With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office.”

History of The Morning Call in downtown Allentown »

The Morning Call’s presence in Allentown dates to 1883 when a Saturday evening newspaper called The Critic was founded. Following a reader contest, the publication was renamed The Morning Call in 1895.

By 1906, growth necessitated more space and equipment, bringing The Morning Call to 27 S. Sixth St. Operations were moved to Sixth and Linden streets in 1920, where the current building was constructed in 1930, though sections were added to it over the years.

The early 1980s, when the paper was still owned by the Miller family, brought plenty of construction.

An 18-month expansion at the Sixth and Linden Street headquarters was completed in 1983, a project that redesigned five major departments to use one of the most sophisticated computer systems in the nation

Two years earlier, on Aug. 31, 1981, the newspaper’s 270-car, three-level parking garage at Sixth and Turner streets was formally opened. Allentown Mayor Frank Fischl termed the new garage “an indication of your dedication to the center-city.”

Regarding DOJ offer, Minneapolis Council member is “skeptical that investing more in the same police model is the answer”

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

As you know, Gadfly has been keeping an eye on what’s happening in Minneapolis, the GeorgeFloyd ground-zero. As you also know, Gadfly recently slow-walked us through a presentation from a Minneapolis community abolitionist. Ratifiying the historical mess in public safety that activist portrayed as a rationale for totally re-imagining public safety there, here we see the Department of Justice stepping in to offer to help the department, but in reform not abolition. Even the police chief has been working on “plans to create a new MPD.”

Selections from Andy Mannix, “DOJ offers to help train Minneapolis police; City Council surprised by proposal.” October 20, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Justice has offered to partner with the Minneapolis Police Department as part of a new nationwide effort to provide extra support for police, with emphasis on reducing excessive force, building community safety and retaining staffing.

Some City Council members say they were surprised to learn of the proposal at the same time as the general public, and they questioned whether “doubling down” on policing is the right step in this pivotal moment for the future of the public safety system.

“Mr. Floyd’s death provoked outrage, both here locally and nationally, and that outrage remains. We’re here today to help this city and to help our nation heal,” said Eric S. Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.

Minneapolis police Chief Medaria Arradondo, also appearing at the news conference, said he’s “excited and encouraged” about the offer, though the city has not committed to it.

“We have been, and I have been, working on our plans to create a new MPD,” Arradondo said. “And this would be a key component to that.”

The offer, part of an initial investment of $3 million in grants, would include a coordinator to help support the chief, as well as technical assistance and training to implement use-of-force policies and resources to help with recruitment, retention and officer safety and health, said Office of Justice Programs Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan.

The program would also focus on training Minneapolis officers on how to effectively respond to people suffering from mental health or drug abuse issues or impairment, said Dreiband.

In June, following protests and riots after Floyd’s death, a majority of City Council members declared that years of slow reform had failed, and they committed to “begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new, transformative model for cultivating safety in Minneapolis.”

Ellison agreed that the city needs to bring the violence under control, and he said constituents are looking to the government for ways to keep them safe.

But he is skeptical that investing more in the same police model is the answer.

Ellison said he planned to take a close look at the partnership once it’s made available to the council.

Arradondo said he strives to remain apolitical in his role as chief. “At the end of the day, if there are resources I know will help instill crime-preventive tools … I’m obligated to look into that,” he said.

Buddha is naked!

Gadfly invites your photos of local interest

Shutting down

Cleaning out the flower beds

Buddha’s environing floral garb gone for the season

The Gadfly

Gadfly is looking for a pruner with delicate, artistic touch to trim a beautiful Japanese maple and a land-grabbing Annabelle. Mrs. Gadfly won’t trust the job to the man known affectionately as “Edward Scholarhands.” Pandemic hazard-rates apply. Apply ejg1@lehigh.edu.

“don’t let more families like us leave,” says former Southside resident

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

Gadfly will be providing more detail on the meeting. But when, Gadfly, when?

Selections from Christina Tatu, “Bethlehem considering ordinance that would limit student housing for the sake of neighborhoods.” Morning Call, October 23, 2020.

South Side residents are urging Bethlehem City Council to swiftly approve a zoning amendment regulating off-campus student housing, saying families are being driven out and real estate prices are being driven up by developers snatching up properties to house college students.

City Council held a special meeting Thursday to hear public comments on the proposal, which was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission in August. It provides a student housing district that city officials said would protect neighborhoods and keep students to more appropriate areas.

City officials have been working for several years with South Side community organizations, property owners and landlords to prepare the amendment. The district would be on the northeast and northwest sides of Lehigh University’s campus, bordered on the west side by Eighth Street to the south, Hess Street to the west and Cress Street to the north; and on the east side by Thomas Street to the south, Pierce Street to the east and East Morton Street to the north.

The new zoning would limit housing to five students per residence in those districts, while three students per residence would be allowed in the central commercial and limited commercial districts to the north of campus. Outside of these areas, city officials are recommending only two college students be allowed in a dwelling unit.

Landlords who already operate student housing outside of those districts could continue to do so as long as they maintain their annual licenses with the city, said Darlene Heller, the planning director.

Anna Smith, a former director for the Community Action Development Corp. of the Lehigh Valley and the owner of a home on Ridge Street, said that in 2018, property sales were up 34% near Lehigh’s campus and prices went up 18%. But the percentage of new owner-occupied homes was low.

“We heard stories from neighborhoods that had previously housed only a handful of students, but where out-of-state buyers were going door-to-door hoping to buy entire lots of homes to demolish and build luxury student townhomes,” she said. “Since 2018, we have seen prices continue to rise with single-family homes now selling for upwards of $300,000 or more to prospective student housing buyers, who will rent them out at up to $1,000 per bedroom.”

Although student housing has been a part of the community for a long time, events over the last couple years have shifted the balance and left longtime residents concerned about losing their family-oriented neighborhood, Smith said.

Murdocc Saunders said he sold his Hillside Avenue home in the South Side last month. It was the only home his sons, ages 6 and 10, knew. He decided to leave after several students moved in across the street and the house next door was turned into student housing.

“My kids still miss their home,” he said. “As someone who still loves the city of Bethlehem, we still come back. … But don’t let more families like us leave. We want to be there and if there was a house in the right community in south Bethlehem, we would be back there next month.”

Speaking against the ordinance, James Byszewski, of Fifth Street Properties, said he doesn’t think it’s fair that it targets students. He also believes it would also be difficult to enforce.

“By limiting it to students, you open yourself up to a list of challenges when it comes to fair housing,” he said.

“All society’s failures fall on the shoulders of law enforcement”

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

“All society’s failures fall on the shoulders of law enforcement,”
president of the National Sheriffs’ Association

“Why not slow down and think? Why go straight to violence?”
Sister of person killed in police encounter

Gadfly’s been sitting on this article for a week now. It’s really bothered him. And he hasn’t been able to hit “delete” and move on.

Followers know that Gadfly has been impatient with what seems to him a lack of urgency to respond to the kind of local self-analysis called for in the wake of the international uproar over the murder of George Floyd.

There is a City Council Committee of the Whole meeting October 29 6pm. Topic: “Interaction of the Police Department/Health Bureau/Recreation/Department of Community and Economic Development.”

No details have been provided. A reliable source tells Gadfly that the meeting was requested by the Administration but as of Wednesday Council had received no other information or documents.

October 29 will be over 5 months past Floyd’s death. An eternity in this fast-paced world. Enough time for several other noteworthy tragedies to have happened in the meantime.

So come to this article. It’s long. But you ought to read it all. Not just my selections.

What’s grabbed Gadfly?

First, that police departments our size (154 officers, maybe now 153) are more likely, much more likely to be involved in killings involving the mentally ill. The larger departments can afford more training. So we should take note. As Gadfly has said before, we have never had an explanation of what kind of training our officers get in, say, de-escalation techniques. We may be fine. We may be excellent. We just don’t know. We should know.

But, next, there are several very sad stories here. Stories that are exactly the kind that we should be doing all in our power to prevent. There are several such stories in the article, so, again, Gadfly asks that you read the entire article not just his selections.

But think about Stacy Kenny. The officer thought it was “weird” that Kenny pulled to the side of the road on her own. She had not done anything wrong. Kenny’s parents had the forethought to alert the local police that she was schizophrenic and might be off her meds. That was no avail. She was on the phone with 911 during the incident. The officer who beat and killed her headed the de-escalation training in his department, had significant training himself, and used none of it. The police department ruled that he did no wrong, acted according to protocol. The department got sued and paid a record-breaking settlement out of the pockets of local tax-payers. The department acknowledged failings. The officer got an award from the police association.

Goddam.

Gadfly cannot see why more people cannot see past the admittedly vexing and misleading term “defunding,” drop their defensiveness, and see that there is a basic problem here that somehow has to be addressed. And quickly. And now.

Gadfly hopes that the October 29 meeting will show the City — finally — doing just that.

And in the words of the president of the sheriff’s association — that “All society’s failures fall on the shoulders of law enforcement” — Gadfly hears Councilman Reynolds urging us to set our minds through the Community Engagement Initiative on attacking systemic racism — in fact, systemic injustice on all people — on the local level.

Gadfly, as usual, invites responses, especially those in a problem-recognizing and problem-solving mode. We need the best heads we have focused on this issue.

——–

The 2019 death [of Stacy Kenny] in Springfield, Ore., was one of 1,324 fatal shootings by police over the past six years that involved someone police said was in the throes of a mental health crisis — about a quarter of all fatal police shootings during that period, according to a Washington Post database.

Although the number of these fatalities has declined, these confrontations remain a deadly and vexing issue, especially in small and midsize metropolitan areas. A Post analysis shows fatal police shootings of those who are mentally ill are more likely to take place in areas with populations of fewer than 1 million, like Springfield, which is part of a metropolitan area of about 382,000.

The Post reviewed the number of mentally ill people killed by police over the past six years and compared it with the overall number of people living in the area to determine the per capita rate. Such shootings are 39 percent more likely in small and medium-size areas than in large metropolitan areas or rural areas.

The issue arose at a nationally televised town hall meeting Thursday night when Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said it was “really, really important” that psychologists and social workers join police on calls involving mentally ill people “to de-escalate the circumstance, to deal with talking them down.” The day before, the Los Angeles City Council voted to create an unarmed crisis response team to handle nonviolent calls, including those prompted by mental health, substance abuse and suicide threats.

The police encounter with Kenny began after she pulled to the side of the road of her own volition, which an officer thought was “weird,” so he pulled behind her to investigate. . . . The Kenny family received a $4.55 million settlement in July from the city of Springfield — the largest lawsuit settlement involving police in Oregon’s history. The officers were not criminally charged. The department cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, saying they did not violate any laws or department policies. The city acknowledged that it needed to improve training and oversight.

For police, encounters with mentally ill people can be especially challenging because their behavior is often frantic and unpredictable. They can be in a state of psychosis, making it impossible for them to follow regular police commands. The encounters also can be dangerous, The Post database shows, because in most cases the mentally ill person is armed with a gun or knife.

Yet some departments, mostly in larger metropolitan areas, have made progress. Larger police departments with bigger budgets have moved more quickly to embrace training in de-escalation skills. Those departments are also more likely to dedicate resources to refresher training and to work as a team with local mental health professionals, experts said.

The specialized training doesn’t guarantee success. Springfield Sgt. Richard A. Lewis, who broke Kenny’s passenger-side window, punched her repeatedly and then shot her five times, was in charge of Crisis Intervention Team training at that police department.

During a deposition for the lawsuit, Lewis said he saw that Kenny was unarmed and was buckled into her car. The other officer, who first encountered Kenny and smashed her driver’s side window, had received 40 hours of the special training.

The police department said Kenny used her car as a weapon when she fled the scene with an officer inside. Her family says she used it to flee a brutal beating that ultimately involved four officers.The officer’s union did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition to the payment to the Kenny family, the city also agreed to revamp its use-of-force policy, help finance a review of the officers’ actions, and beef up its internal review process after the use of excessive or fatal force. The department has changed some of its training, particularly with how it handles traffic stops.

“In hindsight, we are asking officers to slow it down. As opposed to smashing out the window and trying to pull someone out of a car, let’s look at this situation as best we can. Gather information,” said Lt. George Crolly, who oversees the patrol division of the department. “Maybe this isn’t a wanted felon trying to commit a crime, maybe this is someone in crisis and in need of help.”

The Post database shows that the mentally ill people who died by police gunfire since 2015 were largely White, accounting for 58 percent of the deaths, with Blacks at 16 percent and Latinos at 13 percent.

Ron Bruno, a 25-year police veteran and executive director of the nonprofit Crisis Intervention Team International, said it is a mistake for departments to have only one small team on call with specialized skills.

“There should be quick access to CIT officers on every shift,” Bruno said. “That means training between 20 to 30 percent of your department. If you are a small department where you only have one officer patrolling at a time, they all need to be trained.”

In the case of Kenny, her parents believed the Springfield Police Department was small enough, with its 45 officers, to look out for their mentally ill child.

They met with police officials a year before Kenny’s death, alerting them to her diagnosis of schizophrenia and told them Kenny had stopped taking medication.

“We told them he might behave oddly, but that he was never violent or dangerous,” said Kenny’s mother, Barbara, who uses male pronouns for her child. However, the officers did not call for a background check when they encountered Kenny, records show.

After the officers were cleared by the department and prosecutors, Sgt. Lewis, who shot and killed Kenny, received a Purple Heart commendation from the Oregon Police Officers Association for the injuries he received during the encounter — abrasions and a broken wrist — which required that his actions did not result from “poor judgment.”

Hispanic Center: Racial Justice for Stronger Community! Tuesday October 27

Latest in a series of posts about the Community Engagement Initiative

Here’s another one of those post-GeorgeFloyd resources to help us think about racism that Gadfly was just talking about. And Gadfly is thinking of this as the first of our Community Engagement Initiative events, even though it was scheduled before the CEI.

register here

The Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley invites you to our Virtual Health Equity Summit on October 27, 2020 at 9:00am – 11:00am with a focus on systemic challenges faced by communities of color. This year’s event will address the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, colorism within the Hispanic Community, and systematic racism in education. The funds raised from this event will be utilized to support HCLV’s health equity work. To register, please visit: https://hclvhealthequitysummitracialjustice.eventbrite.com

Presentations:

  • The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Communities of Color, Dr. Rajika Reed
  • Understanding Colorism within the Hispanic Community, Dr. Griselda Rodriguez
  • Systemic Racism in K-12 Education, Dr. Joseph Roy & Three students from the BASD

As the center continues to focus on building a stronger foundation for the future in order to help improve the quality of lives of families (Hispanic and non-Hispanic) by empowering them to become more self-sufficient, while promoting an intercultural understanding in the Lehigh Valley; please consider contributing to assist with its efforts by making a monetary donation: https://bit.ly/2Yz2WZO

register here

Gadfly donated — how about you?

Black poetry at Touchstone Saturday

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

In this post-GeorgeFloyd era of national reckoning with race, our local area has been rich in resources regarding the Black experience in America. One thinks of the Bethlehem Area Public Library programs and resources, the Northampton County Community College “Peace and Social Justice” conference, the “Race & Space in the Lehigh Valley Discussion Series” by the Lehigh Valley Engaged Humanities Consortium, among other things. Are we taking advantage of the opportunities?

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

“Touchstone Theatre is a Bethlehem Treasure”

Saturday, October 24, 2:00p

“To be black in America right now is a wound. Nothing seems to exactly describe the pain in my lower back, my chest, blooming between my lungs, hanging so, so heavy in my heart. My grief is miles deep, ancestral deep.”
-Kristina Haynes, Basement Poetry

Join the artists and partners of Basement Poetry for an afternoon of poetry performances about the triumphs and traumas of the Black American experience in 2020. Bring a blanket, sweater, and your support of Black lives! Register here.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Good public response at the Community Development Committee meeting

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

In a lengthy Community Development Committee meeting last night, City officials laid out in detail the proposed ordinance to regulate student housing around Lehigh University, approximately 20 comments from the public were received, heavily weighted in support of the ordinance, and six of the seven City Council members made comments or had questions about it. No vote was taken. The meeting was for the purpose of providing information and gathering comment.

Gadfly is hung over this morning from the combination of the long Council meeting followed by the presidential debate and will provide reports on the various commentary in due course.

Another view on the plea for affordable housing

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

Bud Hackett is a Bethlehem resident who raised 4 kids in the City. He recently became very interested in quality of life issues in the city and hopes to offer a balance to the approach City Council is taking.

ref: “A plea for affordable housing”

Gadfly:

  • Yes, we all want free or reduced price stuff, including food, housing and medical care. Where is my application for a reduced price new car? I’ve never had a new car.
  • The single most important factor in the increased cost of housing is government regulations.
  • Just whining about “we want better priced housing” is — just naïve.
  • Another significant factor in housing cost is the unprecedented influx of new people coming to this community from NY & NJ – pushing the price of housing up. Is that in the best interest of our community?

Is your approach another income transfer from higher income to lower income? Is that really fair?

Bud

A follower asks Gadfly to remind you that you can still call in to City Council tonight if you haven’t signed up beforehand: (610) 997-7963. Wait for the committee chair to ask for call-ins.

A plea for affordable housing (Originally posted June 12, 2019)

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

view CDC meeting on YouTube tonight 6PM

call-in number: (610) 997-7963

———

Gadfly’s not getting much done today.

Feels like a Limbo-day, to coin a phrase.

Just waiting.

Waiting for the presidential debate tonight, of course. Lot of anxiety about that. Hard to focus on anything else.

But waiting also for the Community Development Committee to pass on the student housing reduction ordinance. Important decision there.

Did you decide what you are going to do?

  • add your name to a letter to Council from affordable housing advocates throughout our community: CLICK HERE to read and sign.

and/or

  • speak at tonight’s Community Development Committee meeting in support of the proposal: you can sign up in advance or call (610) 997-7963 when the chair asks for public comment. If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 2:00 PM on October 22, 2020 (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments. If you are signed up to speak, the Committee Chair will call you from (610) 997-7963.

If the ordinance passes tonight, the journey is not done. Still has to go to full Council. So the support letter will stay open for signing till then. Pass the word.

In the Limbo mood, I have been thinking about public discussions “we” have had about affordable housing.

There have been some memorable ones.

Take the City Council meeting of August 22, 2019.

Classic.

Stephen Antalics demands an answer from the “silence of the Lambs” to his argument for a zoning change such as the one that is in front of Council tonight. And Councilwoman Negron thanks him “for keeping us on track,” confesses that she has lost sleep after hearing residents talk of their problems, and announces that she is “not going to go anywhere till something is done.”

Wow!

Powerful moments.

There is great stuff in the Gadfly archives. He hopes some future Bethlehem historian will use it to learn about who we were at this moment in time.

But Gadfly’s most moving affordable housing memory occurred at the end of the May 2019 Nitschmann School meeting on Martin Tower.

———–

Originally posted June 12, 2019

The scene:

Remember the long night meeting on the Martin Tower demolition at Nitschmann?

30-some speakers. Some very animated.

Things wound down.

Discussion fatigue enveloping the hall.

The Mayor made concluding remarks, thanking all concerned.

There was generous applause.

There was the rustle of exiters.

It was over.

We were done.

When an elderly gentleman — oblivious to the fact that last call had been given and the lights were going out — approached the stage-left mic.

To make a plea for affordable housing.

And received the loudest applause of the night.

  • I’ve been here in the Valley since 1965.
  • It’s getting to the point that we can’t afford it.
  • We can’t afford what the new housing costs.
  • I would like to see at least a portion of this property [Martin Tower] be put into something that elderly people who don’t have the strength . . . the money . . .
  • We could move . . . but then we have our doctors here. We can’t afford to drive back and forth.
  • You talk about luxury apartments . . .

One minute and ten seconds. But unforgettable to Gadfly.

The sun was setting on his life.

The sun was setting on the meeting.

But the audience was roused from Tower torpor, mightily aroused.

Gadfly wanted to run for office so we could act on that plea.

Let’s keep that muffled elderly voice and the vigorous chorus of audience support in mind as we think about what the City can do to remedy the lack of affordable housing.

There is a problem, and “we” know in our guts something has to be done about it.

———–

———–

A re-run of Gadfly’s “Tour de Rentz”: from Hillside to First Terrace (original post 7/31/19)

Latest in a series of posts on the Southside

view CDC meeting on YouTube tonight 6PM

call-in number: (610) 997-7963

On July 31, 2019 — when he was young and the pandemic was not on the prowl — Gadfly took it upon hisself to cross into the devil-land of student rentals on Hillside Ave.

The occasion was proposed development on First Terrace. Remember that?

The idea was to see for hisself.

To go to the primary source.

Not listening to griping neighbors.

And he conducted a Tour de Rentz. (Isn’t that cute? Rentz = Rents. Gadfly was much funnier then.)

Because of the student housing regulation before the Community Development Committee tonight, and for which we are hoping that you will sign a supporting letter and/or call in tonight — this very amateurish Tour deserves re-running.

Gadfly remembers that while he was touring lower Hillside two cars stopped and the drivers jumped out confronting him with questions to his purpose.

Gadfly was not properly credentialed. As if needing permission from the warlord landlords.

The only voices Gadfly heard on this hot summer day in this Southside ghost town of lower Hillside were the representatives of the landlords. Suspicious. Worried. Of little ol’ Gadfly.

———

Gadfly had to see for himself. He had long heard tales of Southside woe from Olga Negron and Stephen Antalics. He recently heard resident fears of the spectre of “lower Hillside” spreading upward with devastating impact. There was even talk of “existential crisis.” How could this be?

Time for Gadfly to follow his own principle. Time to look at the primary sources.

Gadfly’s Tour de Rentz starts at the foot of Hillside Ave. (approx at 531 Hillside Ave.) alongside the Zoellner Arts Center Parking Garage. It proceeds up Hillside past Thomas and Selfridge, turning on Stoneman, and ending on First Terrace.

Join him. The videos linked below are only a few seconds each.

If you know this neighborhood at all, you probably know it speeding through in a car. Let’s slow down. The Tour de Rentz is on foot.

Tour map

1) Foot of Hillside Ave: looking up the hill, student housing as far as you can see. Just about every house “signed.” The few beautifully full trees left may be an indication that at one time this was a handsome tree-lined street.

2) North (east) side of Hillside: we begin moving up on “lower Hillside,” the heavily dense student-housing section that residents of “upper Hillside” fear is in their future.

3) South (west) side of Hillside: Gadfly is struck by the long string of interesting looking houses. One can easily imagine that they were once comfortable family homes.

4) Farther up on the south (west) side of Hillside: Gadfly admits to being something of a “romantic,” but he was taken by the look of these houses — big living room windows, nice porches, once tree-lined. And the porches up high. He talked with a guy perched far above the sidewalk as he passed — lord of all he surveyed. Gadfly had to crane his neck. A feeling of the first floor on the second floor. Interesting.

5) Turning right off Hillside, south on Thomas, uphill into the Lehigh campus: Gadfly quietly orgasmic at the beautiful double that meets him. What an interesting twin. A sense of size and sturdiness. Gadfly quietly admitting to himself that he expected not to be impressed by the original quality of the homes. Gadfly quietly feeling shame at what has happened here to what once were “homes.”

6) Turning left off Hillside, north on Thomas: looks like an apartment house, was this relatively newly built? Looks out of place with surroundings. Looks clean and nice — but out of place. Doesn’t seem to blend.

7) Back up Hillside again: encountering a “pod” of rentals on the north (east) side, a whole block that collapsed from familytude. Gadfly imagines the male householder drifting down to the Sokols for a brew or two.

8) Turning right off Hillside, south (uphill) on Selfridge: 4 out of 5 houses on the block are rentals, the corner property owner looks to be holding on to a cute house. Gadfly imagines tension in that corner house.

9) Turning left off Hillside, north on Selfridge: look at the fence and stone work on the double next to the corner house. Interesting. Gadfly getting more of an appreciation for the art of building houses on hills. Steep hills.

10) We reach upper Hillside: now predominantly homeowners, but rentals have made a breach. A kind of border crossing here. Gadfly wishes his camera had lingered more on the northside homes along Hillside here.

11) Upper Hillside: (Lousy video.) Not dominated by rentals. Yet. Solitary rental property on the right with trash in front faces well kept, flowered home with a guy gardening on the left. Not a pretty composite picture. Like a spot on a lung of this stretch of neighborhood.

12) Turning right (south), uphill, off Hillside on Stoneman: houses owned by Lehigh Properties, of the recent case about a 40-student dorm on First Terrace before the Planning Commission.

13) Gadfly quizzed separately by an adult and two students about what he was up to. They are fidgety, guilty looking. Suspicious of me. And a bit snarky. Gadfly thought it best not to incite by filming the encounters. Gadfly life expectancies are short as it is.

14) Turning right off the top of Stoneman on to First Terrace: this the spot where Lehigh Properties wants to build a 40-student dorm, knocking down 4 homes to do so. Remember that residents made a determined argument against the proposal in front of the Planning Commission to no avail — but that the Mayor broke the norm and effectively shot down the proposal. But what alternative lurks?

15) Farther along on First Terrace past the 4 houses proposed for demolition to build a large dorm: privately owned homes, signs of care for the houses, signs of domesticity, flowers, gardens, neat lawns, this is a neighborhood. So clear that the proposed dormitory development was dead wrong. Did the developer have any regard at all?

16) Farther yet on First Terrace: view across the Valley, unfortunately not video’d, an exhilarating top of the mountain feel. More clear signs of home care, more clear signs that this is a neighborhood — clear signs of the domestic life endangered by the rental scourge creeping up from below.

Please forgive Gadfly the poopy camera skills. He could name one faithful follower who should have had the job.

sign the letter of support here

———–

Virus situation calming down at Lehigh: “it seems like no one is (at Lehigh) anymore”

Latest in a series of posts on the coronavirus

“Cases have since dropped after an initial spike two weeks ago. According to Lehigh’s dashboard, active cases dropped from 82 to 36 in less than one week.”
Brown and White

Lehigh University COVID-19 Information Center

Lehigh University COVID-19 dashboard

After a significant spike, the virus situation is calming down at Lehigh. The Brown and White article below gives some student reaction to the quality of life on campus these days.

10/14/20

Selections from Aliza Lev, “239 on-campus students have vacated university housing as of Oct. 21.” Brown and White, October 21, 2020.”

Of the 1,223 students living on campus at the start of the semester, the majority — over 1,000 — are first-years students. That means about one-fifth of all first-year students living on campus have left housing either temporarily or permanently.

However, there are also 81 Gryphons [student Residence Hall advisors] currently living in university housing. Some of these Gryphons have left campus for the semester and gave up their positions or are considering doing so, according to a Gryphon who requested to remain anonymous in this article for fear of their job security.

The Gryphon said this has been a stressful semester for all Gryphons due to COVID-19 concerns and uncertainties. The anonymous Gryphon is considering not returning to campus next semester and resigning from her position.

“I’ve definitely been very stressed out and anxious over this,” the Gryphon said. “I’m thinking I should go home, but I’m nervous about getting sick and bringing (COVID-19) back to my high-risk parents. I’m torn between staying here or going home and leaving things uncertain about whether I’ll be able to be a Gryphon next semester.”

The Gryphon said other Gryphons have been concerned about the well-being of the first-years that live in their halls. The Gryphon said COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult for first-year students to make friends, and many of them spend their time alone.

The Gryphon also said while some first-years prioritize their safety, others have not been adhering to COVID-19 guidelines for the sake of social interaction, which puts both themselves and their Gryphons at risk.

“It’s concerning seeing some kids who do care a lot wanting to stay on campus and stay safe, and other kids parading out of the building getting ready to go to parties,” the Gryphon said.

The Gryphon said there is frustration with the lack of communication between the Lehigh administration and the Residence Life staff because it has put Gryphons and other staff members at risk.

For example, the Gryphon said other Gryphons are only notified when someone on their own floor tests positive or residents need to quarantine. But when Gryphons are doing their typical “rounds” checking in on other floors in their residence hall, they could potentially be walking into a hall under quarantine and thus exposing themselves since they are not notified of positive students in halls other than their own.

Amy Zage, ‘24, and Paige Nemet, ‘24, were both exposed to COVID-19 on campus and were quarantined until they received their test results. After they each tested negative twice, Zage and Nemet went home.

Zage said she left campus because she felt scared and restricted living in her dorm.

Earlier this month, several students received letters of interim suspension after allegedly violating the university’s COVID-19 guidelines. Zage said she feared suspension and felt more comfortable temporarily living at home.

Nemet said she felt stressed before leaving campus because the university was not communicating about her situation. She said she called the Health Center multiple times with questions about her quarantine before getting in touch with someone.

“This was definitely stressful and difficult because I found out in only a day that I would have to quarantine for two weeks,” Nemet said. “Now everyone is either quarantined or at home, so it seems like no one is (at Lehigh) anymore.”

Zage also said the limited access to campus facilities, such as the libraries, significantly decreased her ability to interact with other students and maintain some form of social interaction.

Att: Everybody but especially Garrison Streeters, First Terracers, Armory-ers, W. Marketers! Southsiders need our support preserving their neighborhood

Latest in a series of posts on the Southside

Community Development Committee meeting
Thursday, October 22, 6PM

view on YouTube

call-in number: (610) 997-7963

———-

Neighborhoods are worth fighting for, the Gadfly has always said.

And over the last two years he has joined with you in that fighting in various parts of the City.

Now the Southsiders around Lehigh need our help.

An ordinance to regulate student housing in that neighborhood comes before the City Council Community Development Committee tonight.

The proposal is fair, reasonable, well researched, collegially developed, and modeled on national best practices.

It has the imprimatur of the City Administration.

It has been approved by the Planning Commission.

It has been approved by the Zoning Board.

All it needs now is City Council approval.

But we can expect that there will be strong business and perhaps institutional forces opposing it.

Please read the following letter to Council signed by several dozen of the affected neighbors.

And then see the ways in which you can help.

To show your support, you can:

  • add your name to a letter to Council from affordable housing advocates throughout our community: CLICK HERE to read and sign.

and/or

  • speak at tonight’s Community Development Committee meeting in support of the proposal: you can sign up in advance or call (610) 997-7963 when the chair asks for public comment. If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 2:00 PM on October 22, 2020 (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments. If you are signed up to speak, the Committee Chair will call you from (610) 997-7963.

———–

Need for student housing regulation long recognized — Now’s the time — Please “sign on”

Latest in a series of posts on the Southside

———–

When the collective works of Stephen Antalics — Gadfly #1 — are published, researchers of Bethlehem history will find abundant evidence of this warrior’s dogged battles for preserving the quality of Southside neighborhoods around Lehigh addressed in the ordinance coming before the City Council Community Development Committee Thursday evening.

Who can forget Gadfly #1’s descriptions during public comment at City Council meetings of the cancer that has ravaged the Southside as a result of City zoning decisions.

And here below this Gadfly directs you to just two of Gadfly #1’s printed works on this subject that bookend the last decade.

So now before City Council is a fair, reasonable, well researched, collegially developed ordinance that aims to regulate student housing in a way that preserves the quality of life in those Southside neighborhoods.

And we’re asking a wide swath of the Bethlehem residents to show City Council the strength of support for this long aborning ordinance.

To show that support, you can:

  • add your name to a letter to Council from affordable housing advocates throughout our community: CLICK HERE to read and sign.

and/or

  • speak at the October 22nd Community Development Committee meeting in support of the proposal: you can sign up in advance or call (610) 997-7963 when the chair asks for public comment. If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 2:00 PM on October 22, 2020 (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments. If you are signed up to speak, the Committee Chair will call you from (610) 997-7963.

2012

Selections from Stephen Antalics, “Bethlehem should revisit its zoning ordinance.” Morning Call, September 4, 2012.

For a city to maintain an environment of stability, safety and a sense of well-being in the community, its zoning ordinance must require a high ratio of family-owned residences compared to rental properties owned by nonresident landlords. This helps reduce transiency, and the high percentage of family homes also adds to a collective civic pride — an essential community element.

The Bethlehem South Side master plan in 2001 recommended that the area would benefit from more family-owned properties and fewer rentals. That hasn’t happened. The city’s zoning ordinance, adopted May 7, allows up to five unrelated people living together in one unit. This zoning designation encourages property owners to rent to Lehigh University students and others. Families, however, bring stability to a neighborhood.

Why does the Bethlehem administration not change its recent zoning revisions to be in line with other communities? Could not the South Side have a limited student overlay district immediately adjacent to the campus allowing five students, while rental properties outside that district are restricted to two unrelated persons? This would make rentals available to traditional families,

2019

Selections from Stephen Antalics, “Student housing conversions harming Bethlehem’s South Side.” Morning Call, July 27, 2019.

In the late 1980s, Bethlehem revised its zoning code to allow up to five unrelated individuals to be recognized as a family and live in one housing unit. According to Jeffrey R. Zettlemoyer, who at that time was the fair housing and labor compliance officer for the city, the increase was an incentive for more student housing conversions.

If one were to time-travel back to the mid-1980s prior to the zoning revision, and drive the streets of the core residential section of the South Side, streets such as Carlton, Montclair, Birkel, Vine, Webster, Polk, Morton, Summit, Fillmore, Thomas, Taylor, Adams, Hillside and Pierce, you would see predominantly well-kept pristine single-family homes resplendent with grass green yards of flower and vegetable gardens and well-appointed porches.

Taking that trip today would reveal houses with large placards stating “Student Housing,” backyards with macadam surfaces to allow for overflow parking, alleys such as Boyce and Boyer streets appearing to be massive parking lots and two or three industrial-sized refuse containers on sidewalks before most houses.

Sidewalks are littered with cups and food containers after loud weekend parties. Bed sheets with messages are strung from second-story windows rallying athletic teams to victory over rivals, creating a college campus atmosphere on the city streets. A rather depressing annual sight is to see groups of people scavenging through piles of discards left by students who have departed for summer vacation. The absence of students and the absence of cars parked on the street gives some streets the appearance of a deserted city.

you can sign the supporting letter here