Two thumbs down on police armed with assault rifles at Musikfest

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

It would be hard to disagree with Chief DiLuzio’s thought that he “will ever err on the AK47side of caution,” but I’m not sure having police officers armed with assault rifles is the way to do that.

There are at least two major problems with this misguided approach:

1. If there’s a threat in a crowd of Musikfest patrons, the assault rifle is not a useful response tool. If officers think their superior firepower will solve the problem, it is likely to delay a more constructive response.

2. It normalizes the ideas that guns make people safer and that having officers with military weapons is the best way to be safe.

“Two thumbs down.”

Peter Crownfield

Beyond the Bethlehem beltway

Gadfly is just shy of 11 months old.

Largely motivated by the divisive mess of national politics, Gadfly hoped to contribute to doing some good on the local level.

Focus inside the Bethlehem beltway.

Where you have a chance of making a difference.

Begin where you live.

Get involved.

Try to get others involved.

“Good conversation builds community.”

Make the world better one town at a time.

But he is oscillating between despair and rage this morning.

Images from the ICE raid in Mississippi on the news just now.

ICE kids 2

ICE kids 1

Gadfly hopes we are thinking hard about what’s happening beyond our beltway.

Gadfly welcomes good conversation by and about the Bethlehem Latino/Hispanic community.

Greeting Grace!

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

After saluting Shawn for his service, let’s greet Grace Crampsie Smith, who will fill the remainder of Shawn’s position before taking over the Council slot to which she was recently elected in January.

Grace steps up early!

Gadfly runs into many people who think City Council is a full-time job. No. Part-time. Time consuming. Large responsibility. And not at pay you get rich on. Truly public service.

Let’s welcome Grace!

If you browse through the “candidates for election” topic on the Gadfly sidebar, you can find a great deal of information about Grace.

Here is her campaign kick-off video:

And here is her answer to a question on development (much in focus on the Gadfly blog these days!) that Gadfly posed to all the candidates:

Grace Crampsie Smith grace crampsie smith

As a school counselor, within the past 2 years I have seen an astoundingly significant increase in the number of students and families facing homelessness. This is a direct result of the lack of housing that is affordable and suitable throughout our country and within our communities such as Bethlehem. The disparity between housing costs and income has grown considerably and has received national and local media attention.

Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care. An estimated 12 million renters and homeowner households now pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States. Within the Lehigh Valley, 34,000 people pay more than 50% of their income on housing costs.

While development of residential properties is essential, let’s examine the disproportion between the development of high-end luxury apartments and condos versus affordable residential units. We are interdependent upon one another and thus must assure that our neighbors have the basic needs of life met, first and foremost, housing that is affordable and suitable.

As I have noted previously, Council members must be mindful that our community is made up of people from all walks of life who have varied incomes, educations, and skills, and we all want the same thing – to provide for our families and have a good quality of life.

Recent initiatives such as the partnership between the Community Action Development Corp. of Bethlehem and the City of Bethlehem to rehab homes on the South Side is promising and needs to be expanded upon.

To further address this issue, I would propose developing a task force of public and private entities as well as securing grant monies. After all, assuring our community members have affordable and suitable housing promotes stronger, safer neighborhoods, which benefits the community at large.


 

Saluting Shawn!

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

Departing Councilman Shawn Martell and other City Council members said goodbyes last Shawn M Martellnight.

Four years of service.

Thanks for stepping up, Shawn.

Godspeed!

Sara Satullo, “With resignation of councilman, there’s now a vacancy on Bethlehem City Council.” lehighvalleylive.com, July 18, 2019.

Bethlehem City Councilman Shawn Martell is resigning from his seat in mid-August because he is moving to Washington, D.C., for a new job.

A lifelong Bethlehem resident, Martell is moving to the nation’s capital to join his fiancé and work with the public education team at the United States Botanic Garden. The teacher said it is a difficult choice.

“Bethlehem has been my lifelong home and given me so much over the years,” Martell said in a press release.”… Rest assured that I will also continue to advocate for smart, sustainable and progressive community and economic development.”

Martell said he is most proud of council’s collaborative effort to protect and invest in Bethlehem’s neighborhoods, promote economic stability, prioritize fiscal sustainability and increase government accountability and transparency.

The Mayor and the Chief report on security at Musikfest

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

Pamela Lehman, “Police beef up security at Musikfest following mass shootings, social media threats.” Morning Call, August 6, 2019.

In light of an unspecified social media threat mentioning Bethlehem as well as three mass shootings across the country in a week, officials are increasing security at the festival with added cameras, traffic barriers and a visible presence of officers armed with the rifles.

Chief DiLuzio at City Council Tuesday, August 6:

“I believe that threat has been rendered unthreatable . . . We did increase security in certain instances . . . We tweak our security plan every year, basically every day . . . To ignore what goes on around you would be neglectful . . . If it can happen in an Amish schoolhouse, it can happen anywhere in the United States . . . We’re being prepared, and I will ever err on the side of caution.”

Mayor Donchez at City Council Tuesday, August 6:

“Public Safety has to be Number 1.”

Perhaps the Parking Authority could show some good will

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

Kim Carrrell-Smith is a 31-year resident of Bethlehem’s historic Southside, where she taught public history at Lehigh University for almost two decades. She is also an aspiring gadfly, buzzing in on issues of historic preservation, public education, city government, and other social justice issues. She tips her wings to the master gadflies who have served our community for so long!

Gadfly, since the BPA has historically not connected with the general populace (they seem to like their cozy life of isolation), how can they know that a meeting or topic will be hot? Generally they only know there is public interest or concern (if they do hear of it?) once a meeting has been held, and some folks speak out — and then it is often too late to have a more inclusive discussion of issues!

Agreed: a majority of folks would seem to be working at 4pm, and since we have a “people’s house” dedicated for such purposes, it would seem logical and considerate of the BPA to move its meeting time and location . . . just to show good will if nothing else. We could use more good will here and everywhere these days.

Kim

The Bethlehem Parking Authority discusses the meeting-time issue

(The latest in a series of posts on City government)

Primarily as a result of Councilwoman Van Wirt and resident Diane Szabo Backus turning on some heat several months back about the inability of or inconvenience for many residents to make a City Planning Commission meeting on Martin Tower at the 4 o’clock hour, the Mayor has tried to make some changes in the spirit of enabling greater citizen participation.

Dear to Gadfly’s heart and mission.

Gadfly’s been following the Mayor’s request to the City ABC’s (Authorities, Boards, and Commissions) that meet before 6PM to move to later in the day to give citizens more access — figuring that the majority of people who work cannot make the afternoon times — and to have their meetings live-streamed and archived.

Which means that a group like the Bethlehem Parking Authority that meets at 4PM — and that has a headquarters in the North Street Garage — would need to change locations as well as time, moving to Town Hall.

Gadfly attended the BPA monthly Board meeting yesterday at which the Mayor’s request was discussed and made the following pitch for acceding to the Mayor’s request and moving to Town Hall, what he called “the People’s House.”

Followers might remember that Gadfly has reported on such discussions at BRIA, the Planning Commission, and the Redevelopment Authority.

So far only the Redevelopment Authority has acceded to the Mayor’s request. The RA moved its time to 5PM in Town Hall, as well as moving from third Thursday to fourth.

BRIA agreed to move previously recognized “hot” meetings to a later time.

The PC wants to wait till a meeting with full membership to discuss more before deciding.

In his public comment at the beginning of yesterday’s BPA meeting that you can hear at the link above, Gadfly rehearsed the objections voiced at the other ABC meetings, asking the Board to look favorably on the Mayor’s request.

Gadfly likes the opportunity to enable you to hear/see the ABC’s that are making decisions that affect us, so you can hear the BPA Board discussing the Mayor’s request here.

The main reluctance to move to a later time was that long experience showed that most of the time it was “just us” at a meeting and that it would be “foolish” to change — and that there could/would be negative feeling if we moved to 6 or 7 and there was “nobody here.”

There was recognition, though, that there were hot topics for which the meeting, properly advertised, could/should be moved to 6PM.

And there was recognition that audio recordings of the meeting already routinely done could/will be posted on line with the minutes.

And there seemed to be acquiescence that if the Mayor was adamant, a move to a later time would be agreeable.

So, bottom-line, the regular BPA board meeting time will stay at 4 in BPA headquarters, hot topic meetings will be moved to 6, and meeting audio will be posted online.

And that the August meeting — where plans for the Polk Street Garage will be finalized — will be moved to 6PM.

Gadfly feels that the default position for meeting times should be when most of the general public can attend regardless of historical body counts. That’s where discussion of the meeting time should start — at a time most convenient for the public.

Gadfly also likes the move to Town Hall if only for the symbolism of moving out of the BPA bunker into the “People’s House.”