The Gadfly invites your creative work
The Gadfly invites your creative work
(81st in a series of posts on parking)
Here is the detailed document the BPA supplied to City Council before the meeting: BPA Presentation – 7-2-19 – City Council – DRAFT. It provides two financing scenarios, one with a fine increase, one without.
Interestingly, the project is financially viable either way.
Key points include the letters of commitment to lease 80% of the proposed spaces and the decision to fund the garage with a private bank loan without guarantee by the City.
The Mayor emphasized that he fully supports a project that he sees as important for the development of the eastern end of 3rd Street.
Video of July 2 City Council meeting at min. 21:45.
Kevin Livingston, Exec. Dir., Bethlehem Parking Authority
Again, key points are that the BPA doesn’t need City backing for the financing, and though it will recommend fine increases, they are not necessary for the financial viability of the project.
Video of July 2 City Council meeting at min. 23:50.
PFM Financial Advisors
The BPA financial advisors answer President Waldron’s question, “What is the reason you are not looking for the City guarantee that you most recently did for New Street [garage]?”
Video of July 2 City Council meeting at min. 26:19.
Are you grounded in the “facts”? Next we’ll move into the discussion by Council and audience members of this presentation by the BPA.
How did the BPA presentation go over? What are you thinking?
(80th in a series of posts on parking)
We can use our good newsfolk for an overview of this discussion preliminary to a final proposal in August.
Got the general idea? Now let’s go a little deeper.
Gadfly always worries that “comments” to posts get lost in the WordPress design.
Did you see this comment from Peter Crownfield a week or so back?
People who are deciding or contributing to public policy should probably read Bill McKibben’s latest: Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
Spurs me to ask what you are reading. Spurs me to ask what we should be reading? In regard to City issues, I mean.
To give us some ideas. Some solutions.
I am nibbling at McKibben’s anthology American Earth: Conversations on the Environment since Thoreau. Small anthology chunks. Reading in bits and pieces. Suggested by follower Ed Lotto.
I’ve also been dipping in to works by Jeff Speck — who did a study for Bethlehem, actually — works like Walkable City. Suggested by Tony Hanna.
Give us some ideas!
(The latest in a series of posts on City government)
“Bethlehem is considering an ordinance that would require a prior permit if five or more people plan a demonstration in a public place like a sidewalk or park.”
The rationale is based on public safety, but there is concern over limitation of free speech.
Councilpersons Van Wirt, Negron, and Waldron have trouble with the number 5 triggering the need for a permit. They would like the number higher.
There was a 2-hour Public Safety Committee meeting (CM Colon, chair, with CWs Van Wirt and Negron) on the proposed ordinance last week. Gadfly suggests that you watch 1:30:00 onward to focus on the important concluding discussion.
It is expected that the critics of the proposed ordinance with 5 people triggering the need for a permit will be introduced tomorrow night.
Local blogger Bernie O’Hare belted the proposed ordinance today in “Bethlehem City Council Takes Aim at First Amendment” (and you will enjoy seeing Bernie refer to the Gadfly as “very gentile”).
Expect a spirited debate tomorrow night at Council.
A street preacher calling a passerby a whore. A nearly naked woman protesting a circus in town. Workers rights. Immigration. School shootings. Occupy Wall Street. Make America Great Again. Over the years, Bethlehem has witnessed more than a few headline-grabbing demonstrations as activists spread their message in a city that often teems with visitors attending festivals and special events on any given weekend.
Now, in the name of public safety, Bethlehem is considering an ordinance that would require a prior permit if five or more people plan a demonstration in a public place like a sidewalk or park. City officials say the goal is not to restrict free speech, but gather information. Police want to know where and when potential flare-ups may occur, and then deploy police and other emergency personnel accordingly. They say they’re concerned about the conduct of the demonstrators, not their message.
Pennsylvania ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said she believes a threshold of just five people would not hold up in court. Some City Council members are considering increasing that threshold in the proposed ordinance to avoid a First Amendment conflict. “I have concerns about potential overreach,” Councilwoman Paige Van Wirt. She is concerned the requirement could deter small groups from speaking out.
Philadelphia has an ordinance similar to what Bethlehem is considering, but the permit requirement would be triggered by demonstrations of 75 people or more, and Pittsburgh’s limit is 50, according to a survey presented to City Council at a recent public safety committee meeting. Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio said at a June 5 meeting those municipalities have police departments much larger than Bethlehem’s 155-officer department. Ideally, he said he would like to have at least two officers for every protester, if they are uncooperative. DiLuzio said the city has about 20 officers working the South Side and 50 on the North Side during Musikfest. So, even a handful of people protesting during a festival can significantly divert resources, he said.
“You’re putting police in position to confront American citizens over nothing more than a peaceful assembly,” said Carroll, also the Republican nominee for Northampton County district attorney. ”It’s absurd.”
Council President Adam Waldron said he appreciates the public safety argument, but it makes him nervous any time government “is tip-toeing up against the First Amendment.”
Council could vote on the ordinance as early as Tuesday, which would put it in effect for Musikfest Aug. 2-11.
(Latest in a series of posts on Bethlehem Moments)
Gadfly has asked President Waldron if we can move the Bethlehem Moment to the top of the meeting after the prayer and the pledge.
Here’s the document I supplied to support the request:
Bethlehem Moment Project
version 1 6/4/19
That beginning July 2, 2019, as a one-year pilot program, Bethlehem City Council add a historical moment – “A Bethlehem Moment” – to its opening meeting protocol immediately following the prayer and the pledge of allegiance and before the body of the meeting starts.
What is a Bethlehem Moment?
Why a Bethlehem Moment?
How will the project be administered?
Ed Gallagher will engage to find readers and arrange the schedule for the year. After which, he will find a successor coordinator. Or City Council could take the project over and line up participants as it does clergy. Or the program could languish, having run its course.
All elements flexible!
A profound Gadfly thanks to these good people who have signed on for the rest of the year. Several people have indicated interest in that last date but no firm commitment yet. So we could use one more “Momentor” to finish off the 2019 line-up.
Bethlehem Moments Schedule 2019
July 2 Lynn Rothman
July16 John Smith
August 6 (Musikfest)
August 20 Mary Toulouse
September 3 Olga Negron
September 17 Jim Petrucci
October 1 Johanna Brams
October 15 Stasia Brown-Pallrand
November 6 Steve Repasch
November 19 Rayah Levy
December 3 Robert Bilheimer
(The latest in a series of posts on City government)
The City has a whole bunch of Authorities, Boards, Commissions, and Committees at which your business is done.
They meet at various times Monday through Thursday from 3:30 to 7PM.
No meeting time is perfect, of course.
And you realize that when there is a meeting that you want or you have to attend.
And it’s at a time when you work.
Lots of people have trouble attending the 3:30, 4, and 4:30 meetings because of work.
Diane Backus movingly complained about this at the important Planning Commission meeting on the Martin Tower site plan two months or so ago. Councilwoman Van Wirt complained also at that meeting and again at City Council. Both to good effect, since Gadfly reported that the Mayor had directed the ABCs in a May 6 memo to move meetings to the evening.
Here’s an example of the problem with meetings that start in the afternoon.
At the routine 4PM Planning Commission meeting yesterday afternoon, a resident objecting to a development proposal said he had emails from 9 neighbors — also objectors — who could not attend the meeting because of the time, and thus that the PC was hearing only a “tiny fraction of the neighborhood’s concern about the project.”
The PC did not rule in favor of the objectors at the meeting. One wonders if there would have been a different decision if 9 additional neighbors were present and registered their objections personally.
But it sounded as if the Mayor was mandating change in the meeting times to alleviate such resident time conflicts.
Well, not so, apparently — the Community Revitalization and Improvement Zone Board (CRIZ) read the Mayor’s memo as a request to “consider” a meeting time change “to make it more convenient for the public to attend.” They did so “consider” the Mayor’s request at their June 5 meeting and decided not to change the time.
The negative discussion went like this: since meetings tend to involve more staffers than the public, the afternoon time is more “thoughtful” of staffer’s time; “not a lot of sense to move ordinary business meetings to 6 or 7 o’clock” when we have the ability to use special meetings when there are matters of more public interest; there haven’t been that many meeting where the public have attended, and we could hold meetings later if we thought the public wanted to come — so “keep the time where it is and move it when necessary”; change would mean getting other groups together to schedule the meeting room they all share; early in the morning may be better for merchants than 6-7PM; is dinner going to be served?
So be it.
But this one demurrer certainly caught Gadfly’s attention and should catch yours: “with family lives and two active teenagers, evenings can become more difficult to attend.”
Paraphrase: changing the time to make it more convenient for the public to attend meetings would interfere with my personal life.
Gadfly hopes that line is remembered when that Board member comes up for reappointment.