Bethlehem City Council meeting tonight Tuesday, October 20, 7PM

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Click for agenda and documents

See below for comment instructions

City Council — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — meets tonight Tuesday, October 20, at 7PM.

You can watch the City Council Meetings on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

———–

7PM: The regularly scheduled Council meeting

Of interest to Gadfly:

  • possibly hearing what the October 29 Committee of the Whole meeting is all about
  • possibly hearing more about the Community Engagement Initiative
  • the exec director of the Bethlehem Parking Authority reports on doings

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Be informed. Be involved.

———–

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

 PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council October 20, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 2:00 PM on October 20, 2020 (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.

NOTES:

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.

Some notes on last night’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Capital Projects

Latest in a series of posts on the City Budget

Capital Project documents

City Council met as a Committee of the Whole last night, discussing the Capital Project documents linked above — no votes were taken.

This meeting went smoothly, and Gadfly understands that this ground will be covered again during the budget hearings that begin in November.

Some notes perhaps of interest:

  • Memorial pool: in great shape, final punch list being completed, on schedule to open in spring
  • Greenway: that section to the ball fields at the north-end of Saucon Park is planned to be completed next year
  • Sidewalks: substantial work planned for Southside, priority is doing worst shape first
  • Rose Garden: divided into a phase #1 and phase #2, phase #1 had to be scaled back a bit, but construction will begin shortly and be completed this season
  • Roads: we have 258 miles of streets, there’s a substantial re-surfacing back-log, $18m worth, we have averaged about $1m a year for last 5-10 yrs. on this, the biggest obstacle to catching up is funding

There was a bit of discussion on the conversions of Linden and Center streets to two-way. PennDOT involvement is far out (2030s), so the City is trying to get something done earlier. Linden St. is the priority: shorter span and benefit to commercial properties along it.

The Mayor announced that next year’s budget will be available November 15.

Bethlehem City Council meeting tonight Tuesday, October 6, both at 6PM and 7PM

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 6PM: Click for public comment instructions, agenda, and etc.!

7PM: Click for public comment instructions, agenda, and etc.!

City Council — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — meets tonight Tuesday, October 6, at both 6PM and 7PM.

You can find all the information that you need to follow along and participate through the links above.

You can watch the City Council Meetings on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

———–

6PM: Committee of the Whole

(Committee of the Whole: the whole membership of a legislative house sitting as a committee and operating under informal rules.)

How’s our money being spent?

The budget might be thought of as, bottom line, the most important thing Council does.

Council will be discussing the 2021 – 2025 Capital Budget. See documents here.

Find spending plans on public safety, traffic, streets, storm sewers, facilities, grounds, recreation, miscellaneous projects.

The beginning pages give dollar figures, followed by narrative explanation.

You might want to scan the narrative part.

Of interest to Gadfly:

  • South New St. streetscape, construction 2021 (p. 2)
  • Exploring conversion of Linden (the priority) and Center to 2-way (p. 3)
  • Northside 2027 Pedestrian Safety Improvements (p. 3)
  • Greenway extension (p. 9)
  • Rose Garden improvements (p. 9)
  • Citywide Wayfinding signage (p. 11)


7PM: The regularly scheduled normal Council meeting

Of interest to Gadfly:

  • Appointment of Michelle Kott as Chief of Police
  • Councilman Reynolds on the Community Engagement Initiative
  • Zoning amendment regarding a Retirement Complex at 2105 Creek Rd.

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Be informed. Be involved.

Looking forward to Tuesday night’s Council meeting

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

Gadfly’s looking forward to Tuesday night’s City Council meeting hoping to hear more discussion on public safety and the Community Engagement Initiative.

You know that Gadfly’s loins lept to hear Councilman Reynolds say “The Community Engagement Initiative is [about] looking at the ways that we as a community can end systemic racism and create an equitable city.”

Now there’s a vision of the city to resuscitate the idealism of an old Hippie.

Now there’s a vision of the city to wake up a complacent public.

Now there’s a vision of the city to hang a mayoral campaign on.

Gadfly was so enthused that he envisioned (ever so tongue-in-cheek) here and here a new or an additional brand for us: “Bethlehem, the Anti-Racist City.”

Bethlehem, not just a non-racist city but an anti-racist city. We know the difference, right?

So Gadfly is looking forward to hearing more discussion on public safety and the Community Engagement Initiative with an eye toward advancing the “audaciously ambitious” (Gadfly’s eloquence!) goal of ending systemic racism and creating an equitable city.

Because it’s not like systemic racism (which you know began a good 600 years ago if you attended the recent BAPL “Courageous Conversation”) is running out of steam.

The inability of a high-level important person that we all know to unequivocally condemn White Supremacy Tuesday night is a gauge of racism’s vitality.

So we must do something.

And our post-GeorgeFloyd record so far to Gadfly’s way of thinking and Gadfly’s visibility has not been impressive.

Of course, the departure of the police chief surely was an unfortunate occurrence for planning purposes.

New Chief Kott will be confirmed Tuesday night. Thank god for her stepping up. These days the professional life of a police chief is as uncertain as a B-29 pilot in WWII. There will probably be well deserved celebratory speeches. Gadfly wishes her well.

There will be congratulations. There should also be challenges. The one part of a Public Safety meeting devoted to the police department did not seem near enough. Followers know that Gadfly has been putting himself through a self-tutorial on police practices and procedures. Most recently a forum organized by a Law Enforcement organization that gave him much to think about, which he shared with you. The installation of Chief Kott marks a new beginning. She may give a speech Tuesday. But Gadfly thinks the new Chief should be invited to a meeting in which she lays out her ideas on a variety of specific matters of current concern. Her syllabus might include training, use of violence, accountability, diversity hiring, internal discipline, bias, transparency, public reporting, community relations, community policing. She’s a fresh Ph.D. She should be “locked and loaded” for such a discussion. Now is the time for a thorough examination of the department.

Gadfly has said that the city’s post-GeorgeFloyd record has not been impressive.

Let’s review.

A selected timeline.

May 25: George Floyd died.

May 31: The Mayor made a statement. It’s a good statement, but it does not indicate anything need be done locally in response to the murder.

June 3: The Police Chief made a statement. It’s a good statement, but it does not indicate anything should or will be done locally.

June 16: We learn of the Mayor participating with the NAACP in a Community Advisory Board, the details of which have always been sketchy.

June 16: We learn of a proposed meeting on the police use of violence and a proposed Community Engagement Initiative.

July 7: Community Engagement Initiative resolution passes.

August 11: Public Safety Committee open meeting on the police and the CEI.

September 18: We learn of a Committee of the Whole meeting October 29 on “Interaction of the Police Department/Health Bureau/Recreation/Department of Community and Economic Development.” No details. Is this related to post-GeorgeFloyd concerns?

October 29: If the Committee of the Whole meeting is on post-GeorgeFloyd concerns, it will be 5 months past the event.

So Gadfly will now make his mentors in Gadfly Academy proud:

There was no initial recognition from the Mayor and Chief that the murder might be an occasion for self-assessment. It took 11 weeks to get to the August 11 Public Safety meeting. The August 11 agenda was too big for one meeting. It does not appear that the meeting was adequately publicized: some callers indicated that that they heard about it late and by chance through social media. Some people who had signed up to speak didn’t get to speak because of their placement on a program that went — predictably — late. Approximately 27 members of the public did speak, vigorously and about evenly split — indicating considerable public interest, but the meeting ended with no indication of what the next step by the city would be. There seemed to be no forethought of what the next step in a process of discussion perhaps leading to city action would be. In the August 18, September 1, and September 15 Council meetings (Gadfly would be glad to be corrected on this), the only references to the August 11 discussion were a brief reference to a meeting with Lehigh prof Ochs on her research on local policing sometime in the fall and a remark by one Councilperson, purpose of which seemed to be to start a dispute and which was thankfully cut off by the Council president. Gadfly would have thought that good management procedure would have been to tell the eager public on August 11 what the next step would be, to take time under new business August 18 for Council members, as a matter of respect to the 27 callers and the large number of others attending on livestream, to reflect on what they heard, well, to indicate that they had heard. Without that respectful response, why would anybody engage again? Now we have a meeting October 29 which, as far as Gadfly knows, and he tries to keep his antennae up, may or may not have anything to do with post-GeorgeFloyd matters.

So there’s bitchy Gadfly’s case for feeling that our record so far in responding to the national reckoning on race is not impressive.

And he looks forward to hearing more Tuesday.

As usual, Gadfly invites your response, even if it’s a slap upside the head.

“We are at an important moment in our community’s history,
and we have an opportunity to do something truly momentous.”
Anna Smith

Where are the Republicans?

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

Or Independents?

Gadfly is jogged to ask by this post in Bernie O’Hare’s “Lehigh Valley Ramblings” the other day about the “Bethlehem Democratic Party Machine.”

Hoping to provide a beneficial public service, Gadfly plans to help people be the best informed voters they can be by providing info on all the candidates in next spring’s election.

He’s hoping there will be several Democratic candidates for Mayor, and scuttlebutt indicates there will be.

But where are the Republicans in this town? And Independents? And African Americans? And Latinx? And women? And LGBTQ?

Gadfly hopes for competition, for choice.

That’s the kind of thing we gadflies live for.

Especially as he plans to retire Election Day +1.

Wants to go out with some drama!

Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 15, 7PM

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Click for public comment instructions, agenda, and etc.!

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 15, at 7PM.

You can find all the information that you need to follow along and participate through the link above.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Of interest:

  • There’s a hearing on a private zoning amendment at 2105 Creek Road. Always tricky.
  • Another zoning matter. Follow-up on last meeting’s discussion of a change to enable a grocery store at Center and Dewberry.
  • Maybe info from the Mayor on plans for hiring a new Chief of Police.
  • Maybe info on discussions of changes in public safety and of the new Community Engagement Initiative.

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Be informed. Be involved.

Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 1, 7PM

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Click for public comment instructions!

How’d it get to be September? Time sure flies when you’re having a pandemic.

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow tonight Tuesday, September 1, at 7PM.

Lots of fun in store.

Of interest:

  • A hearing on a Police Dept grant application for $41,000. The dept plans to use the money for computer stuff. Interesting in that recently there’s talk of finding money for additional training, but we haven’t been supplied the parameters of the grantor, so we don’t know what uses are allowed.
  • A hearing on a zoning change to permit a grocery store at the much contested Center and Dewberry corner — Mr. Atiyeh’s latest proposal for that site. The Planning Commission has recommended denying the change.
  • zoning 1
  • Councilman Callahan will move to bring his proposed wage equality ordinance out of committee, where it has stalled. Quite a history here.
  • We hope to hear more about response to the Public Safety meeting, Community Engagement Initiative, etc.

But there’s always the unexpected.

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

Be informed. Be involved.

————

The meeting documents are located at the following link:
https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/67

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council August 18, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on September 1, 2020 (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.

NOTES. 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.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

Ethics Training for City Officials Thursday August 27 6PM

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City Council is required to go through ethics training every two years, if Gadfly understands correctly.

The Mayor and department heads will attend as well.

Would be good for anybody contemplating running for office. Campaign season for mayor and other offices begins in a short 4-5 months or so.

The public is invited.  Gadfly is curious and plans to attend. See the document at the bottom of the page for an idea of the content of the meeting.

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE MEETING

Date:
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Time:
6:00 pm
Location:
Town Hall

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS 

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council Committee of the Whole Meeting on August 27, 2020, 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on August 27, 2020 (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.

NOTES. 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.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw
Documents:
JFrankenburger Power Point Presentation 2020

Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow tonight Tuesday, August 18, 7PM

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Click for public comment instructions!

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow tonight Tuesday, August 18, at 7PM.

The meeting documents are located at the following link:
https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/66

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council August 18, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on August 18, 2020 (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. NOTES. 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.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

Gadfly’s not sure he sees anything “hot” on the agenda.

General interest for us will probably be in reports by the Mayor, Council President, and the Public Safety Committee chair — and in new business.

Gadfly would hope for some sense of plan of future developments following up the Public Safety Committee meeting on August 11 as well as some Council feedback on that meeting.

But there’s always the unexpected.

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

Be informed. Be involved.

Video record of the Public Safety Committee meeting now available

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It was planned that there would be two ways to attend the Public Safety Committee meeting last night, via YouTube or webinar.

But right around the beginning of Capt Kott’s part of the presentation YouTube went to hell. And the webinar then became the only way to attend.

So there are two videos of the meeting now up at this location:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Watch the regular YouTube first, then switch to the webinar.

Gadfly will continue to break the event into pieces for better focus, but you can now play or re-play the entire night’s events for yourself.

Counting down! Important online Public Safety Committee meeting blasts off tonight at 6PM — One hour!

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The Bethlehem City Council Public Safety Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, at 6:00 PM, to discuss City of Bethlehem police use of force polices and statistics as well as the proposed Community Engagement Initiative.

Find agenda, documents, public comment instructions, and registration information

here

Alert! Important online Public Safety Committee meeting tonight, 6PM — must register for best results

logoLatest in a series of posts on City Government logo

The Bethlehem City Council Public Safety Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, at 6:00 PM, to discuss City of Bethlehem police use of force polices and statistics as well as the proposed Community Engagement Initiative.

Find agenda, documents, public comment instructions, and registration information

here

Alert! Important online Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday, August 11, 6PM — must register

logoLatest in a series of posts on City Government logo

The Bethlehem City Council Public Safety Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, at 6:00 PM, to discuss City of Bethlehem police use of force polices and statistics as well as the proposed Community Engagement Initiative.

Find agenda, documents, public comment instructions, and registration information

here

It’s time for an enthusiastic effort to engage more of the community

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ref: “Where is the public in this process?”

Thank you for listening and magnifying, Gadfly.

I’ve emailed all council members and the mayor so they could reach out to talk. Apparently they don’t care about meeting the public where they are. “Harsh”? “Critical”? What should we say when our questions are left unanswered?

I recall from the July 27 council meeting Dr. Van Wert saying “we are listening to you“ in response to the many callers speaking on the CEI. And paragraphs were struck and a new line added. That’s not inconsequential but it’s only in response to great pressure. And it’s reluctant.

I think it’s time for more conscious leadership and representation for more progressive policies. And an ENTHUSIASTIC effort to engage so much more of the community than the seemingly few who “show up”. (The city’s Youtube channel only shows about 160 subscribers….) That was me too, until recently.

Who’s interested in developing council candidates along these lines?

Greg Zahm

“Where is the public in this process?”

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If Gadfly’s memory serves him well (Prevagen addict), Greg Zahm’s comments at City Council last night were the third in a row on basically the same topic.

He had “continued grave concerns about the Community Engagement Initiative and its process,” since there was no “opportunity for thorough public discussion and input into the content and format” of the CEI.

Perhaps his comments can best be summed up by “”Where is the public in this process?” and “We need better outreach.”

Greg enumerated five specific points:

1) Why was the public excluded from this process?

2) Why did Council turn its responsibility over to the Mayor, the Administration, and the police?

3) Do the public partners have any apparent role in implementation?

4) Why is the appropriateness of the participants and invitees to be determined by the Mayor and his administration and not a committee that would include Council and public partners?

5) Are we using the same narrow digital portals for publicizing the upcoming August 11 meeting? There are other ways to reach out to the public. What are you doing to improve on involving the public?

These are themes close to Gadfly’s heart.

Gadfly wonders how “we” are publicizing the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting. The piece in today’s Bethlehem Press is a dry-as-dust press release. We need the public stoked about the potential great significance of the police and CEI discussion.

Anna Smith’s “We have an opportunity to do something truly momentous” still plays in his head. He’d like to see tee-shirts.

Greg touched on a basic Gadfly confusion about who’s in charge when he read from the Reynolds/Crampsie Smith resolution: “City Council of the City of Bethlehem urges the Mayor and his Administration to collaborate with the City of Bethlehem Police Department to create a public space and forum for the long-term discussion of issues. . . . The Community Engagement Initiative might include and/or interface with any individuals or entities that the Mayor and his Administration think appropriate such as . . . .”

Gadfly is a writing teacher. The resolution says the Mayor et al is the driver of the CEI. The Mayor et al is “urged” to create a forum, and the Mayor et al is given the choice of participants. That’s what the resolution says. Greg is right.

Why is Council acting as if in charge? Councilwoman Crampsie Smith has for two meetings lamented confusion in the public sphere that she cannot understand. Well, there’s my confusion.

Who’s in charge?

Grrr.

Remember that the City Council meeting today is at 5:30PM!

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Click for public comment instructions!

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow night Tuesday, August 4, at 5:30PM.

The meeting documents are/will be located at the following link:
https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/65

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

 PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council August 4, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on August 4, 2020 (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. NOTES. 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.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

Ordinances for short term lodging and bed & breakfasts are on the agenda.

We hope to learn more about the upcoming Public Safety Committee too.

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Participate. Be informed.

Note: 5:30PM — Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow evening Tuesday, August 4, 5:30PM — Note: 5:30PM

logo Latest in a series of posts on City Government logo

Click for public comment instructions!

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow night Tuesday, August 4, at 5:30PM.

The meeting documents are/will be located at the following link:
https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/Calendar/Meetings/2020/City-Council-Meeting/65

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

 PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council August 4, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on August 4, 2020 (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. NOTES. 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.

You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

Ordinances for short term lodging and bed & breakfasts are on the agenda.

We hope to learn more about the upcoming Public Safety Committee too.

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Participate. Be informed.

City announcement and instructions for the August 11 Public Safety Committee meeting

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The City of Bethlehem announces:

The Bethlehem City Council Public Safety Committee will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, at 6:00 PM, to discuss City of Bethlehem police use of force polices and statistics as well as the proposed Community Engagement Initiative.

This meeting will be live-streamed on YouTube at “City of Bethlehem Council” YouTube channel at the following website address: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRLFG5Y9Ui0jADKaRE1W3xw.

PUBLIC COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS.

Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, general access to Town Hall is currently closed.  If you would like to speak during the virtual meeting, you can preregister to participate on a device through a webinar application or use your phone. If you use the webinar application, you should be able to see shared documents discussed at the meeting.

You can preregister at: 
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2923328048332531216
.

After entering your name and email address, you will receive an email confirmation with a link to join the meeting on the scheduled date and time. You will be able to speak using your device microphone (if installed and enabled) or via phone using a phone number in your registration confirmation email. Prior to the meeting, it is recommended that you click the link “check system requirements” in the registration email to confirm your device compatibility.

If you would like to sign up to make public comments by phone, please email the City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 3:00 PM on August 11, 2020 or call (610) 997-7963 when the Public Safety Committee Chairperson announces he will take public comment calls. Phone calls will only be accepted during the designated public comment period. Please note, a five minute time limit will apply to all public comments.

MEETING DOCUMENTS. The August 11, 2020 Public Safety Committee meeting documents are located at: https://www.bethlehem-pa.gov/getattachment/59e73201-f04a-4adf-9f6f-08772c882834/COBCalendar_Agenda.aspx

“I truly believe that the city needs some serious help at least with communication and Public Relations”

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Mr. Gadfly, thanks for your engagement.

I continue to remind myself that city council positions are voluntary, and I try to remain cognizant that only the mayor is paid for his leadership. Having said that, I am disappointed in the council’s and the Mayor’s leadership and communication in response to the ongoing BLM/Police Violence protests. (And that which fuels them.)

June 3, I sent the mayor a still unanswered email (copying council) with seven questions in response to his “comments on Minneapolis” in which he neither named George Floyd or blacks, specifically. (To be fair, he referred to the “affected” inclusively, though that is insufficient.) As a result of this failure to communicate, and my fortuitous awareness of the Community “Engagement” Initiative, I have commented by phone at each of the last three council meetings.

Regarding the Initiative, it’s about time, especially since we broached the subject about two years ago in a public council meeting after the disturbing death back then of ANOTHER black person at the hands of police. (By the way, not a single public caller during the July 7 council meeting voiced an opinion in favor of the resolution as it stood, while many specifically asked for the vote to be stayed. And only Olga Negron called for postponing voting on it until more thorough public input was had.)

As it has been roughly two years since that meeting, I will not give the Mayor credit for “get[ting] out in front” of the events surrounding George Floyds’ murder (especially as he refused even to identify Mr. Floyd or black people in his comments). We are no farther ahead – as far as the public is aware – than two years ago, at least as far as I can tell. One of the questions I asked the mayor in my June 3 email was “What has been done by the city since then?” (Crickets.)

Now, I support the call of BLM and others for ACTION. It is 2020 and just now our council is calling for discussion. And, are they really? Good faith is required. Suddenly voting on a resolution not presented WITH the minority members of council – or even after THEIR consideration – and without the opportunity for public input is tone deaf at best and a noticeable, inexcusable – if understandable – pattern. Insert Michael Colon’s . . . uninspired words here – “I truly believe that Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we’re not going to be the ones to change the world, to change the country.” (My father and his friends would never have let that comment represent Bethlehem without a loud rebuttal, and I certainly won’t.)

I truly believe that the city needs some serious help at least with communication and Public Relations. I’d like to see efforts expanded to dialog more effectively WITH the community, not speak AT it like currently takes place through nested digital postings accessible through the city’s narrow web portal or announcements via digital news outlets. Perhaps a new hire is called for or the expansion of the job description for an existing position to include communication outreach. (Think of callers’ unanswered questions. Don’t most hang in the air forever, as if rhetorical, unless the CALLERS follow up?)

How can we improve communication? (Well, certainly work and resources are required.) Imagine various communication inequities and failures being overcome by committing the financial and volunteer resources to REGULAR, socially distanced, FACE-TO-FACE communication at city schools with staff and families AS WELL AS via electronic message boards positioned strategically around the city. (Did you know that the high schools, at least, have invested in a number of large flat-screen monitors positioned around the school to communicate continually to the school community?)

And imagine all caller questions – and emails – being answered. It’s not rocket science that a good marketing campaign includes multiple formats. I’d like our city to be proud enough of its words and deeds to market them adequately. And dialogue requires response.

So let’s actually discuss improving the release and availability of information by the City to be sure truly include all. And commit to OPEN public discussion on important community relations matters.

I would like to be part of “momentous.” I believe we can change our country . . . and the world. Maybe just a little, maybe a lot. But neither without effort  . . . and an attitude adjustment.

Greg Zahm

Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow night Tuesday, July 21

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Click for public comment instructions!

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow night Tuesday, July 21, at 7PM.

The last meeting was open per social distancing but seems not so this time. Public comment now by phone again.

DUE TO THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY, TOWN HALL ACCESS IS CURRENTLY RESTRICTED. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE PUBLIC COMMENT, PLEASE FOLLOW THE PHONE COMMENT INSTRUCTIONS BELOW.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council July 21, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on July 21, 2020 (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.

NOTES. 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.

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

Before the meeting there will be a public hearing about the definition of bed & breakfasts that has been an issue of some concern.

We hope to learn much more about the Community Engagement Initiative, the Public Safety meeting, and a report on the new Community Advisory Board.

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Participate. Be informed.

Imagining tomorrow’s City Council meeting

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Gadfly’s pretty excited about tomorrow’s City Council meeting.

And not about the resolution to upgrade the park bathrooms either.

About the Reynolds/Crampsie Smith Community Engagement Initiative resolution.

We’ve been talking about it for days here on The Gadfly.

Gadfly doesn’t know anything about anything but likes to think about the possibilities.

Have some fun. Think along with him.

Has this resolution already been talked through with Council (Sunshine permitting)? Could there be opposition on Council? Will there be discussion? Will there be SPEECHES? Will there be amendations? Or will this sail through clean as a whistle?

Whattaya think?

Could somebody want Council to initiate the CEI? Could somebody want a definite role for Council in the planning for the proposed CEI or in its membership? Could somebody want stronger roles for the CEI than suggested in the resolution, stronger than “assisting” and “discussing”? Could somebody want to include a time frame for the Mayor to indicate his willingness and then to return with a plan?

Will the Mayor talk tomorrow night? Might he have an alternative plan? Is there a possibility the Mayor will say no? One likes to think that the Reynolds/Crampsie Smith team has already discussed this with the Mayor and has his agreement, no? How does the CEI relate to the commitment with the NAACP to do somewhat of a similar thing, the commitment the Mayor spoke of last meeting and which Gadfly thought we were to hear more about already by this time?

And now how does this resolution relate to the talked about Public Safety Committee meeting? Are we still going to have that? There is still the discussion of the use-of-force directives to handle. And, frankly, Gadfly was hoping for the Public Safety Committee meeting first, so that the CEI could have some open discussion. Gadfly has some reservations about the current plan — how do you see it? — but the time for that conversation seems over.

Gadfly loves to exaggerate, so you won’t be surprised if he says he feels this is a big thing and you should be quite attentive to tomorrow’s meeting.

Bethlehem City Council meeting tomorrow night Tuesday, July 7 — open to the public again

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Click for public comment instructions!

Our next City Council meeting — the “face” of Bethlehem City government — occurs tomorrow night Tuesday, July 7, at 7PM.

Per these instructions from the City, note that the meeting is open to the public again as well accessible online. Public comment can be made in person or by phone.

While the meeting is open, due to the COVID-19 pandemic masks are required, and social distancing will be enforced per posted signage. Rather than attending the meeting in person, we encourage members of the public to watch the meeting live-streamed on YouTube at “City of Bethlehem Council” YouTube channel at this website address.

PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS

REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the City Council July 7, 2020 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 (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 12:00 PM on July 7, 2020 (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. NOTES. 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.

Find the Council agenda and supporting documents here.

Of especial interest will be the Resolution urging the creation of a
Community Engagement Initiative in the City of Bethlehem by Council members  Reynolds and Crampsie Smith.

And Gadfly assumes we’ll have another update on the coronavirus situation as well.

And there’s always the unexpected.

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

Participate. Be informed.

Councilwoman Negron: “our city needs your civic engagement”

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So the last 3-4 posts in this series have been about the volunteer-staffed ABCs — the Authorities, Boards, and Commissions — that in the June 16 City Council meeting Councilwoman Van Wirt called, in a phrase so wonderful Gadfly keeps repeating it, “cloistered venues of power.”

And the Gadfly followers are smart people.

So you knew where he was going to end up.

Yes, with a recruitment pitch.

Gadfly is “the pied piper of civic engagement,” as a blessed follower tagged him.

On which ABC would you like to serve? On which ABC have you offered to serve?

Council, as we saw in the last post, is hot to improve the selection process.

Now we need good people to go along with that.

Here below is an oldie but goodie from Councilwoman Negron, who, if you listened to the audio from the June 16 meeting in the last Gadfly post, was “on fire” about the importance of the ABCs and Council’s role in them.

Gadfly wrote you about her Morning Call article last year when it came out. It bears another read. And some action on your part.

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. (A full list for the Bethlehem can be found at: www.bethlehem-pa.gov/about/authorities/index.html).

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.

The link to the City page above in the Councilwoman’s article says to contact the person on the ABC in which you are interested, but you should also contact the Mayor’s office.

to be continued . . .

How the Fine Arts Commission does it

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Deni Thurman-Eyer heads the Fine Arts Commission.

Gadfly:

The Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission changed the process for appointments to the BFAC about 12 years ago.  For many years, the Mayor would submit names to Council for approval without any input from the BFAC. This produced a Commission which had members who were not all engaged and, worse, acted in their own self-interest.

We recognized that we could improve that process. We revised and strengthened our Nominating procedures. We evaluated the needs of the Commission in terms of diversity, skills, and commitment to the arts, actively seeking nominees in that context. The Nominating Committee interviewed potential nominees before sending our recommendations to the Mayor to submit to Council.

This process has vested power in the BFAC to develop a strong, engaged, and productive 25-member Commission. This could be a model for improving the recruiting and retention of effective ABC boards.

Deni