Council oversight of hot-button City committees: Gadfly makes the case for making a case

logo Latest in a series of posts on City Government logo

So you know about the Mayor. And you know about City Council. But what you might not know so much about are what Gadfly calls the ABCs, the 25 or so Authorities, Boards, and Commissions volunteer-staffed by maybe 125 residents. These ABCs do much work for the City, for you. Your non-tax dollars at work.

The Mayor nominates residents to serve on the ABCs; Council approves them. Historically, those mayoral appointments have been met in virtually all cases with a Council rubber stamp.

Most times that’s ok.

Just three days ago you saw Gadfly extol the work of one of the ABCs — the Environmental Advisory Council. And there are many other individuals and groups he could single out for praise.

But there are problems. And, in Gadfly’s mind, the Bethlehem Parking Authority has been one of them.

What Gadfly modestly proposed on April 29 last  — going on a year ago — was that mayoral nominations for reappointments on the ABCs be supported by evidence of performance on the ABC on which the reappointee served.

In other words, it should be expected that the Mayor “make a case” when reappointment is involved.

Seems harmless enough to Gadfly.

Last Council meeting February 4 there were nominations from the Mayor for several ABCs, one being the Parking Authority. Gadfly raised the question of evidence of performance. There ensued later in the meeting an interesting and important discussion on this and related issues. Gadfly would like to spend 2-3 posts fleshing out that discussion and suggests, for context, we begin by re-reading his April 29 post.

Gadfly specially calls your attention to the audio clip below of the short presentation he made at the Parking Authority meeting April 24.

Hear him first make the case for making a case.

————-

April 29, 2019

“A Modest Proposal: regarding Council oversight of hot-button City committees”

So Gadfly went to the Bethlehem Parking Authority meeting last Wednesday April 24. Perhaps more on the substance of that meeting later.

The meeting was at 4PM. Gadfly recently reported that at a Planning Commission meeting both Diane Szabo Backus and Paige Van Wirt made what we might call “vigorous proposals” [ha! not modest!] for later meeting times to accommodate the large number of citizens who work at that hour and are unable to attend such meetings. And Gadfly was later able to report that the Mayor heard those vigorous proposals and has pledged to require later times across the board in City committees for 2020.

A solid blow for citizen participation. Another shout-out to Backus-Van Wirt-Donchez.

There are many City Authorities, Boards, and Commissions. Take a look. Made up almost entirely of resident volunteers. Gadfly doesn’t know exactly, but he guesses the volunteers probably number in the vicinity of 125. A small army.

That’s a lot of people the Mayor has to round up. I mean, I’m not sure that people are thronging the Mayor during “Open Door” days and clamoring for such positions. He no doubt has to recruit. Though I hope we never see the day when he has to set up a card table in a mall and hawk for warm bodies.

Gadfly goes to a lot of these meetings. And can say without hesitation that there are a lot of wonderful people doing wonderful work. Good for the Mayor, good for the great people volunteering.

The Mayor nominates resident members, Council approves. Most of the time the approvals are pro forma. But there was one significant denial recently, probably for conflict of interest, a person serving on two closely related bodies.

Approvals should not be pro forma, especially for certain committees, and the Parking Authority is one such group. The Parking Authority was a center of controversy in the latter half of 2018 as 70+ posts in the Gadfly parking thread will attest (see the link on the sidebar).

Gadfly could not tell and had suspicions about the range and quality of Board member involvement. The New St. Garage, the Polk Garage, the Desman Parking Study, the conflict with Council, etc., etc. — strangely to Gadfly, it’s almost impossible to tell from the Board minutes that these things were going on much less that there were “hot” public “issues” about them. The Authority then had a powerful, involved solicitor and a long-standing Chair — Gadfly wondered if there was any debate or discussion at all, wondered what the role, if any, of the appointed members was.

For we must depend on the Board members to be our “voice” in Authority decisions. Gadfly would like to make sure that they are.

Reviewing minutes, Gadfly saw no evidence of conflict, dissent, alternative opinion; Gadfly is not sure that he saw a motion that truly originated with a Board member or new business that originated with a Board member. And if it were not for routine responses to “asks” by the chair for a motion and a second, you might not even know who is on the Board. Attendance at a few meetings suggested that the Authority authority resided in the Executive Director, the solicitor, and the Board chair.

Which is not to say that hot issues weren’t ever aired and that all Board members were not heavily involved. But the minutes — basically the only official public record of what transpired — don’t reveal much in that respect.

When those Board members come up for re-appointment, on what basis will Council make its oversight decision? Evidence of the quantity and quality of their participation and contributions in deliberations about non-trivial and non-routine matters — as attested to in the minutes — should be a prime body of evidence.

At the April 24 meeting, Gadfly suggested to the Parking Authority Board that the minutes be improved to at least capture the flavor of all viewpoints in discussion, that votes that are not unanimous clearly indicate who the yays and nays are, and he suggested to the members that they be sure not only that they contribute but that their contributions are detailed in the minutes. If they want to be re-appointed, that is.

You can hear Gadfly talk about this as an aspect of his “passion for public participation in city matters” (soooo pompous is your Gadfly!) here:

My modest proposal is that Council let the Mayor know that proposals for re-appointment of members of “hot” committees, commissions, and boards should include — in addition to resumes*** — specific and substantive evidence of the quality and quantity of member contributions as attested in the minutes.

At the last City Council meeting Backus made the interesting point that since such Board members are appointed by elected officials, they too are in a sense elected. And the public needs accountability, especially on the “hot” committees, and will call for it from Council when re-appointment time comes around.

*** Instructive here is the good dialogue about oversight initiated by Councilwoman Van Wirt and joined by Council President Waldron and Business Manager Evans sitting in for the Mayor at the January 15 Council meeting and recorded in the minutes on pp 11-12. But for re-appointments, Gadfly is suggesting more than resumes and contact info. There should be evidence of performance.

The BPA presentation on the Polk Street Garage at City Council July 2 (81)

(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.

Mayor Donchez:

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.

  • “This is a project that has been a priority of mine for several years.”
  • “It’s a critical project to support the parking needs of Northampton Community College and other businesses in that vicinity of the eastern corridor of 3rd Street.”
  • “Last year I believe that the Authority had the responsibility to research all possible options for financing and proceed in the manner in the best interests of the taxpayer.”
  • “I strongly support this project. . . . I think it’s important for economic development of the eastern corridor of 3rd Street.”
  • “Out of 470, they have roughly 370 commitments for leases.”
  • “And even when you look at the New Street Garage . . . in the year and a half since it opened, there’s 400 leases without Lehigh students, and I think that’s probably exceeded expectations.”
  • “I did make a commitment as Mayor that we would try to wean ourselves off the contribution from the Bethlehem Parking Authority when the TIF would end, and I do want to fulfill that commitment. . . . When the TIF expires, the City will receive some additional revenue from the TIF.”
  • “So I think this is a good project . . . I think that the financials [are in good order].

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.

  • “The Bethlehem Parking Authority explored both a public and private financing of the Polk Street Garage.”
  • “The bank loan does not require a fine increase or a City guaranty of the debt.”
  • The garage is currently [planned to a 470-space garage with a 30-space parking lot.”
  • “We intend to add a bid alternate to build the garage 91 spaces larger.”
  • “Furthermore, there is an opportunity for a horizontal expansion of the garage of approximately 159 spaces.”
  • “The maximum size of the garage is approximately 750 spaces.”
  • “For $2.1million, the Bethlehem Parking Authority purchased the land for the proposed garage from the Sands Casino in April 2019.”
  • “It is the intention of the Bethlehem Parking Authority to close on the private bank loan in July and hope to start construction in December 2019 with anticipated completion 2020.”
  • The BPA also plans to send the official request to Council in the summer of 2019 to consider fine increases to improve the parking system.”

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.

  • “Our goal is to always try to kinda move the Parking Authority . . . financially away from the host city.”
  • “[With New Street Garage financing] the Authority went out and established their own trust indenture, issued the debt, but guaranteed by the City, so we were starting to give the Authority a little bit of its own name, its own credit out there, but still with the backing of the City.”
  • “That coincided very nicely with the financial resurgence of the City . . . perhaps now the highest [credit rating] of 3rd-class cities in the state.”
  • “The goal was as the Authority became more financially healthy was to have the Authority possibly be able to do their own financing without the City backing.”
  • “Again, that’s our goal as financial advisors . . . if they are financially stable enough to do that, they should do it . . . to take some of the liabilities off the City taxpayers.”
  • “A win-win to be able to secure a financial package for this garage with very good terms and conditions.

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?

An overview of discussion about the Polk St. Garage with BPA at the July 2 CC meeting (80)

(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.

Nicole Radzievich, “Does South Bethlehem need another parking garage? Mayor and parking authority think so, but others fear risk to taxpayers.” Morning Call, July 3, 2019.

Sara Satullo, “The $16.8M planned Southside parking deck plans to pay its own way and open by end of 2020.” lehighvalleylive.com, July 3, 2019.

  • BPA bought the 3rd and Polk property from the Sands in April for $2.1m
  • The PSG is planned for 470 spaces (New St. = 626, Walnut St. = 777)
  • Open is the possibility of expanding PSG to 750 spaces
  • Price tag for PSG = $16.8m
  • PSG could open December 2020
  • The BPA will not need a loan backed by the City for PSG (unlike for NSG)
  • As planned, the BPA will stop paying the city $450,000 annually in 2021
  • That planned reduction helps the BPA pay new debt on its own
  • No decision yet on whether to renovate or reconstruct WSG
  • Thus, no decision yet on whether WSG will need a city-backed loan
  • The Mayor wants the PSG
  • The Mayor wants the BPA to stand on its own financially
  • The financial advisors say that the BPA can stand on its own for PSG
  • The BPA has commitments now for 370 spaces
  • PSG would include commercial or residential space
  • For policy reasons, the BPA will recommend increasing the fine structure
  • But increased fines are not needed for financing of PSG
  • Questioned was the amount of debt the BPA plans to carry
  • Questioned was what happens if BPA can’t pay its debt
  • Questioned was why contract rates were far under market rate
  • Suggestion was waiting till demand pushes the need for a garage
  • Exploring the use of the “Ruins lot” in the meantime
  • Countered by information that the “Ruins lot” is not and would not be in play
  • Questioned was subsidizing a garage outside city’s historical district
  • BPA plans to vote on securing the private bank loan at its July 24 meeting

Got the general idea? Now let’s go a little deeper.

 

 

Summer reading

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!

 

Concern for public safety bumps up against safeguarding the First Amendment

(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.”

Bill 19-2019 Establish Article 961-Special Event Activity Permits-1

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.

Nicole Radzievich, “Want to protest in Bethlehem? There could soon be a permit for that.” Morning Call, June 14, 2019.

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.

“Bethlehem Moment” status report: One more volunteer needed

(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
Ed Gallagher
ejg1@lehigh.edu
version 1 6/4/19

Proposal:

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?

  • an historical vignette
  • a scene or event from Bethlehem history between 1741 and the 1960s
  • topic of the author’s choice, approved by the program coordinator
  • short, so as to not unduly delay the business of the meeting
  • entered in the minutes, published on the Gadfly blog and perhaps also on the City website or social media
  • examples can be found at https://thebethlehemgadfly.com/category/bethlehem-moments/

Why a Bethlehem Moment?

  • we are a town that has made significant history
  • we are a town that values our history
  • we have three historical districts
  • our history completes the triumvirate of God and Country that is the source of our values and the context for our decisions
  • without a sense of our shared history, we can never be a true community
  • by invoking our history at the beginning of the meeting, we would be powerfully signaling our commitment to our history
  • by invoking our history at the beginning of the meeting, we would be encouraging knowledge of that history
  • this addition to our meeting protocol will make us unique among our peers

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.

Volunteer needed, please!  Info here: Bethlehem Moment Information


Ed Gallagher
ejg1@lehigh.edu

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

December 17

The meeting time blues

(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.

Speeches and — Yes! — dancing at the Walk/Roll block party at Broad and New (27)

(27th in a series of posts on Walkability and Bikeability)

(As you listen to the speeches, you can’t help but note the angry growls of car and truck traffic surrounding and menacing the enclave of walkers and bikers!)

“For many, many years after the car was invented, we have built communities
for the car and not for people.”
Becky Bradley

“If you build more roads, you’ll get more cars. You’re not really solving the problem.”
Phillips Armstrong

“We’re trying to create a movement here.”
Steve Repasch

“A successful city is one in which people choose to walk.”
Bob Donchez

“We look forward to helping all of you get to where you need to go.”
Owen O’Neil

“We have work to do . . . to bring humanity back to transportation.”
Scott Slingerland

“If you make it accessible, everybody will come.”
Greg Bott

“To me, my bike is freedom.”
Eric, Community Bike Works intern

“We get to dance in the streets today.”
Becky Bradley

walkroll

Morning Call photo

Some people “we” know were among the dancers!

Tom Shortell, “Bethlehem hosts dance party in traffic to promote pedestrian awareness.” June 12, 2019.

  • Normally, partying in open traffic is the type of behavior municipal planners, safety officials and transportation advocates frown upon. But a host of local government and nonprofit entities threw the dance party at New and Broad streets to promote Walk/Roll LV, the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s soon-to-be released study on alternative transportation in the Lehigh Valley.
  • As the Lehigh Valley grows and develops, its aging infrastructure has struggled to keep up with the growing number and sizes of vehicles. The region’s transportation funding from state and federal governments is only enough to address about half of the needs across the region’s highways and bridges as it is, and that figure will likely get worse as more people and warehouses come into the region.
  • In an effort to alleviate that strain, the Planning Commission is advocating for more investment in bike trails, sidewalks, nature trails and public transportation. The goal is to ease congestion by making it easier for residents to bike or walk to work or go shopping.
  • While the study is nearing completion, there is still time to provide comments on the Lehigh Valley’s sidewalk and trail connections. Interested participants can go online to lvpc.org/walkrolllv.html or attend the next Walk/Roll LV working group meeting at 3 p.m. June 26 at the America On Wheels Museum at 5 N. Front St., Allentown.

Gadfly walked the 1.1 miles to the party. Wouldn’t dare drive to an event like this!

What can be done to provide affordable housing? (2)

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

Taking up here one of the two questions provoked by CW Negron’s response to the South Bethlehem Historical Society letter about detrimental effects brought about by “progress” on the Southside.

What can be done to provide affordable housing [on the Southside]?

You know Gadfly by now. You’ve seen him “in action” before. He starts answering a question with a series of questions. He starts way back. Trying to understand a question or a problem.

But he has seen you “in action” before too. He knows he has an audience that knows things. So have at it! Jump in!

1) What exactly do we mean by “affordable housing”? How define it? We are talking about housing and rental prices that people in a certain income bracket can afford, right? What is that bracket? And therefore what housing and rental prices are we targeting as “affordable housing”? We need more houses in what price range? We need more rentals in what price range?

2) These terms are tossed around, but how would we define low-cost housing? moderately priced housing?

3) What data or anecdotal reports do we have on housing and rental costs on the Southside now? What is the average sale price? Rental price? What is the rent at 510 Flats and other new — “luxury” — sites?

4) What data or anecdotal reports do we have on housing and rental availability right now? Scarce? Abundant? Buyer’s market? Seller’s market?

5) What are the forces driving up the price of existing housing?  What are the forces driving the development of primarily “luxury” housing?

6) How much a part of the expressed desire for more affordable housing is connected with a desire to have more families living on the Southside?

7) What are we doing now to increase affordable housing? Is there a plan in operation? Is it on some agenda?

8) How does the rehab program of Southside Vision 20/20 fit in to this desire for more affordable housing? Are there other such City programs?

9) CRIZ and such incentive programs are probably not applicable, right?

10) Who has the power to make affordable housing a higher priority? The City? Council? Shared?

11) How does the development process work in general? Is the City passive/active? If affordable housing were to be a higher priority, who would be the point person? Mayor? Community and Economic Development?

12) Is affordable housing on the Mayor’s radar? Is it in the State of the City address, etc.?

13) Is anyone right now charged with seeking to cultivate sources for affordable housing?

14) CW Negron says there is an ordinance that the City can use to gain affordable housing, but CM Callahan says developers cannot be forced to build affordable housing. Who is right?

15) CM Callahan has offered to “team” with CW Negron in looking for developers — does that collaboration have potential?

16) But in these pages, Dana Grubb has said developers are not the answer but non-profits. Like whom? How do we get them involved?

17) We are certainly not the first or only City to face issues of affordable housing and gentrification — what other cities are we/should we be looking at for ideas?

18) Who used affordable housing as a campaign issue that we should be looking to for leadership and action? Whose feet do we hold to the fire?

19) Should we be looking for candidates in the next election round who will make affordable housing  a major issue?

Now the Gadfly mailbag shows followers have already begun to fill in answers to some of these questions, so look for Gadfly to bring in their posts next.

 

 

A plea for affordable housing (1)

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

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 out guts something has to be done about it.

Chewing on SBHS concerns: identifying the source of the pain (6)

(The latest in a series of posts on the Southside and Neighborhoods)

“Good conversation builds community.”

Let’s see about that.

So we have been laying out the 3-part interchange kicked off by the letter of concern about the future of the Southside from the South Bethlehem Historical Society delivered by Lou James at the May 22 City Council meeting, spurring comments by Councilpersons Negron and Callahan at the June 4 meeting.

SBHS asks the City leaders “to consider the history that is being destroyed in the name of progress.”

Gadflies respond to pain, to citizen pain.

They instinctively want to heal.

To heal, you need to know the source of the pain.

CW Negron helps this gadfly focus on the source of the pain.

Two things:

1) disregard for rules

2) lack of affordable housing

Ok, now Gadfly can formulate questions to think about.

1) What can be done about the fact or the perception that rules pertinent to safeguarding the historical character of the City are being broken?

2) What can be done to provide affordable housing?

Want to help Gadfly think about each of these questions?

 

Have you ever seen a campaign finance report? (50)

(50th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Election Day is Tuesday May 21

That’s three days from today!

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidate series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

Wow! This is the 50th post on the election.

Gadfly — who is a prophet without honor in his own land — is often referred to as Gab-fly among his own family.

Sigh.

But the election means a lot to him.

Fostering an involved and informed electorate is at the heart of the Gadfly project.

In his Norman Rockwell fantasy of a small town, citizens take elections very seriously and elected officials are . . . the very best the town has to offer.

Funny, I stutter there because the Gadfly evil twin almost filled in “the very best that money can buy.”

Gadfly has always wondered how much money it takes to run for local office. And where that money comes from. He bets that has crossed your mind.

How are those glossy fliers arriving in the mail this week paid for?

And recently the Campaign Finance Reports came out.

Take a look.

Gadfly is not sure why they come out before the election. And he assumes there must be another report after the election as a wrap-up.

Take a look.

Gadfly bets most of you — like him — never saw a campaign finance report before.

Gadfly thinks you will find several things of interest.

Voting is the essential act of a democratic society.

It’s what makes our country special.

Unfortunately, running for office costs money.

Gadfly’s goal is a lively, spirited, competitive race. He worked hard here to provide a forum for the views of all candidates. He placed several ads in the Bethlehem Press promoting this forum. He will have ads in the Morning Call Sunday and Monday promoting this forum. He has wanted the candidates to have every opportunity to express their views and for those views to be known to as many people as possible.

In a sense, Gadfly has endorsed all the candidates.

Gadfly has contributed to five of the seven candidates — one was not taking contributions as a matter of principal, and he did not find a “Friends of” source for the other. Given the opportunity, he would have contributed to all.

Maybe that was the wrong thing to do. But he felt it was either contribute to all or contribute to none. Because Gadfly is impartial. It’s the process that is important to him.

Gadfly decided to contribute to all because he valued and appreciated the courage and commitment it takes to put yourself “out there” (sometimes pinata-fashion) and give voters a variety of views and a menu of options.

And he assumed that it was individual average people like himself whose contributions made it possible for other average citizens like himself to afford to run for office.

Maybe that’s the wrong way to think. You will tell him if so. He listens.

But Gadfly tells you all this to encourage you to look at this version of the Campaign Finance Reports.

And see what you see.

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

 

 

 

Let’s play the Match Game again (49)

(49th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Election Day is May 21

That’s four days from today!

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

You recognize all the candidates by now, right?

Way back at post #37 we played match the candidate with his or her occupation.

Now let’s see if you can match them with their self-identified unique qualification quality to be a member of the Bethlehem City Council that was the subject of yesterday’s post.

Unique

This is the question that might well be the most important to judging the candidate or at least maybe the first thing you need to know about them.

How well have you been paying attention?

Can you mentally draw a line from each candidate to his or her unique quality?

While we’re on this topic, go back to our first prompt in post #16 and post #17 See how each candidate answered then.

How are you feeling about how important these statements are in your own decision process?

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

Vote and vote informed!

What do the Council candidates have to say about their “unique qualifications” to serve? (48)

(48th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Election Day is May 21

That’s five days from today!

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

The third general question that BCDC asked of all the candidates was:

“What single skill or experience makes you uniquely qualified to serve on Bethlehem City Council?”

Candidates for the one 2yr. seat

Will Carpenter: “fluency in the development process, I spent twenty years negotiating with mayors, councils . . . I know how the process works.”

Grace Crampsie Smith: “I’m a bridge builder . . . I’ve had to look at different sides . . . I’ve always looked at the whole situation pragmatically and objectively.”

Candidates for the three 4yr. seats

Michael Colon: “I grew up in the Marvine neighborhood of Bethlehem, I was raised by my grandparents . . . we didn’t have a lot. Through hard work I’ve been able to achive the things I have today . . . I am one of two Spanish-speaking members of City Council . . . I relate to members of the City in any neighborhood . . . I volunteer work, I stay involved

J. William Reynolds: “I bring forth creative solutions to problems in our community . . . It’s never been enough for me to say “no,” it’s about how you come up with a “yes” . . . an ability to work through disagreement to come up with creative visions.”

Carol Ritter: “My one thing is leadership, I have led many boards in my career . . . leadership is about service . . . raised [with her team] millions of dollars for the Children’s Room [in the library].”

David Saltzer: “I worked for the City  . . . born and raised in the City . . . and I was also a Union president . . . [looked at budgets from three perspectives] as a taxpayer, what was good for the City, and what was good for the Union.”

Paige Van Wirt: “I used to be an urban planner . . . I think I really understand what makes a healthy city . . . not afraid to ask questions . . . I understand the CRIZ . . . sidewalks . . . why were we not funding a feasibility study for a pedestrian bridge . . . I bring a different perspective to City Council.”

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

Vote and vote informed!

Reflecting on the demolition discussion (60)

(60th in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19
www.martintowerbethlehem.com

Risk tolerance should not be the default position of public officials.
(Breena Holland)

I wish all this didn’t make me think of Erin Brockovich, but it does . . .
(Nalyn Marcus)

Thank you, all of you . . . I personally think they have done what they possibly could do in the right way to take this building down.
(Resident Jean at the May 9 meeting)

The demolition of Martin Town is a “done deal” said two residents in the response period at the end of the May 9 night meeting at Nitschmann.

Maybe so.

But if so, it’s time to reflect.

Gadfly is thinking about several things.

One is the type of representation we want, the type of representative we have.

Councilpersons Van Wirt and Callahan were particularly illustrative at the discussion of the demolition at the May 7 City Council meeting, as I detailed in post #38.

Gadfly thinks that Van Wirt and Callahan are in a real sense talking to each other.

North pole and south pole.

Please listen to this interchange and ask yourself what kind of citizen each Councilperson envisions. And ask yourself how you would describe the tone of their deliveries.

Listen. Take the time to listen. It’s important.

Don’t look down at the transcript.

Listen first.

Councilperson Van Wirt (6 mins.):

Councilperson Callahan (3 mins.):

Ok, now listen to this second interchange.

Listen.

Councilperson Van Wirt (30 seconds):

Councilperson Callahan (2 mins.):

What are you thinking?

What kind of citizen does each Councilperson envision?

So, now here are transcripts. But the tone is as important to my question as the content. So listening is primary.

Councilperson Van Wirt: “I’m trying to get this information to the people. . . . The time frame for this is still troublesome . . . so the citizens aren’t at the last minute feeling that they are scrambling for answers that they want to know for their health. . . .The predominant concern that I’m hearing about is health concerns, and these are legitimate health concerns. . . . I think there is a valid role here for the Department of Health to be involved in disseminating health-related information to the citizens. . . It’s not on the citizens to not have the information. . . . They deserve the right to know the answers to these questions. . . . I would ask that the Department of Health be involved. . . . If we have to double-down and do a deep dive, we need to be doing it. . . . Michael Bloomberg said, ‘In God we trust, everyone else bring data.’ So tell them to bring data.”

Councilperson Callahan: “Can you just tell us briefly all the organizations that have been involved in the planning of the demo? . . . How about from the county? . . . How about the state? . . . And what other departments from the state have been involved? . . . How about the FAA? . . . Are there any county, state, or city organizations that you think should be involved that weren’t involved? . . . And the people that are involved in the demolition, this their first time doing it? . . . Do you know of any buildings that they’ve knocked down that something went wrong? . . . I know you and the owner and everybody else in all the departments that have been involved have done an enormous amount of planning on this. The thing that kind of upsets me is this undertone that all the professionals, these organizations aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing . . . everybody’s just pushing this through to demo a building . . . I think you are going to find out that a large majority, an astronomical amount of people are informed about it and feel completely safe about it and you are going to see a lot of people getting up early in the morning to watch it, and they have no fear of anything that’s going on at the site and they have complete confidence in all the professionals as I do.”

What kind of citizen does each Councilperson envision?

Gadfly always hates to speak for others.

But he hears one Councilperson who wants to empower citizens to make their own good decisions and another who is willing to let the “professionals” do the thinking.

Wow! — did Gadfly stretch too far? Is he the only one who hears this?

In any event, it’s worthwhile to ask which kind of citizen you see yourself and what kind of representative you want.

What do the Council candidates have to say about “transparency”? (47)

(47th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Election Day is May 21

That’s 6 days from today!

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

The second question the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee (BCDC ) asked of all the candidates on May 6 was about transparency:

“Transparency, especially in terms of fiscal matters, is incredibly important to Bethlehem residents. What initiatives do you support to keep the City government accountable?”

Candidates for the one 2yr. seat

Grace Crampsie Smith: “We need to improve accessibility . . . the City web site . . . significant advance notice of meetings . . . very important to consider rotating City Council meetings throughout the City.”

Will Carpenter: “We need you to pay attention . . . We both need to do our part . . . [The City needs to] put more information out there [in local papers] so you don’t have to seek as much.”

Candidates for the three 4yr. seats

Paige Van Wirt: “making sure people have access to meeting agendas and data way in advance of the meetings . . . continue to make the meetings available online . . . all public meetings after 6 o’clock . . . remove any impediments to [participation].”

David Saltzer: “more people coming in and voicing their opinions is going to allow us to do a better job . . . open door policy is also a great thing.”

Carol Ritter: “One of the things that is important to me as a representative of you if I am elected, when I am elected that I am an active listener . . . Transparency is not only about the Administration and City Council but also about the staff.”

J. William Reynolds: Talked about his Open Bethlehem (open data), Fair Accountability Incentive Reporting (FAIR), and the Connecting Bethlehem Survey projects.

Michael Colon: “We’ve taken major steps these last few years to make sure people have access to these meetings . . . I’ve always tried to respect everybody’s opinion and never discourage anyone from wanting to come out to City Council meetings or discourage anyone to make their opinions known.”

Candidate responses to BCDC’s third general question coming soon.

Be sure to review the Gadfly series of Q&A’s with candidates, the like of which you can get nowhere else, on these pairs of posts in the candidates series: 45/44, 36/35, 31/30, 26/25, 24/23, 20/19, 17/16.

Vote and vote informed!

Council Candidates – 4-year seat – Prompt 7 (44)

(44th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Election Day is May 21

5 candidates
(one not represented here)

vote for 3

7th in the series of candidate statements

statements in reverse-alphabetical order this time

Prompt #7, 1 & 2

1) Participation

Gadfly followers want to be involved, want to be heard, do not see themselves as CAVE people (citizens against virtually everything). How can Council foster increased citizen participation with and trust in City government? Possible foci include increased interactive technology, increased public inclusion, office hours, different kinds of Council meetings, a different format for the current Council meetings, a stronger ethics ordinance, term limits.

Paige Van Wirt (incumbent) Van Wirt 2

I decided to mount a write-in campaign in the late summer of 2017 for two major reasons. First reason: nobody ran against any of the incumbents, which I felt was a disturbing reflection on citizen involvement in council, due to many factors which needed to be addressed. Second reason: after attending the City Council Committee of the Whole meeting regarding the proposed Ethics Ordinance in spring 2017, I was very upset at the substance and tenor of the conversation among council members and particularly toward Councilwoman Negron, who was trying to help make our city stronger and avoid problems like we have seen in Allentown, Reading, Scranton, Philadelphia . . . this list is too long, and the cities too close. The Ethics Ordinance was subsequently shelved. Since appointment to council, I have been pushing for more citizen participation in council by trying to open up the workings of our Authorities and Commissions; establishing a vigorous Facebook presence which posts relevant meetings and issues for citizens of Bethlehem; reintroducing the proposed Ethics Ordinance in the upcoming month; and pushing for Bethlehem City public meetings to be held after normal working hours and filmed for all to see, which has now been requested by the Mayor to start in 2020. I will continue these efforts by continuing this work; I will request that our most active authorities and commissions present to council every 6 months updates on activities, finances, and new initiatives.  I will continue keeping the citizens informed, not just of the what, but of the WHY.

David Saltzer David Saltzer

As a council member, we need the citizens to be engaged in and working with city government. Transparency is a big topic right now and one that I believe in. The ability to now watch council meetings online and follow what is going on is a step in the right direction, as is the mayor moving all committee meetings to start after 6pm beginning in 2020, allowing working residents the time to attend. I also believe there needs to be a minimum time of the announcement of important meetings so that the people that want to attend can plan to do so. Announcing a meeting at 9 or 10 am for a 4pm start is not being transparent and fosters a community of distrust. Other technologies, such as the city’s website, can be managed better with meetings announced and posted on the homepage, as well as made more user friendly as well. I think between the live streaming of the meetings, an active, user-friendly website and later meeting times following announcement protocol will allow the citizens the ability to be more active in local government.

I maintain that I would have an open-door policy and would encourage residents to
reach out to me with questions or concerns. I would support office hours where
residents would be able to come speak with a city council member.

As for different types of council meetings, I believe in the past that city council did try to
take the meetings on the road and have them in different corners of the city to attract
people to come out in their neighborhoods to attend the meeting. I am not sure what the
outcome of that was or if it was talked about trying it again, but it is an idea that could be considered.

As for ethics, I know that the current council has presented an ethics policy and have
adopted some parts of it in different forms. I would need to see what was presented and
I do believe that we do need to have some type of ethics policy in the city.

For council term limits, we would need to investigate that by researching other 3rd class
cities to see if anyone else has council term limits. What are the pros and cons of them?
How long are the term limits? How has it worked out and have they changed back to no
term limits? After researching this we can come up with some type of plan, and we
should leave it up to voters in a referendum vote as to whether the constituents in the
city want their council members to have term limits.

J. William Reynolds (incumbent) Reynolds 3

When I launched Bethlehem 2017, I did so partly as a way to mobilize the people in our community who are passionate, committed, and want to be involved on a local level. Our Climate Action Plan, NorthSide2027, and Open Data projects all were designed to create permanent structures of citizens to help plan and implement the initiatives. Creating positive opportunities for citizens to be informed and involved in the issues they care about is vital in creating meaningful opportunities for citizen engagement.

There are thousands of people in Bethlehem who want to be involved in giving back to
our city. They are often very busy helping their children with homework, volunteering
at their church, or running a small business. These responsibilities often prevent them
from committing to standard meeting schedules or attending City Council meetings.

Finding flexible, meaningful, engagement opportunities for our citizens is very important in creating citizen engagement moving forward. This idea was the genesis behind the structure of our planning strategy for our Bethlehem 2017 initiatives and has proven to be effective in engaging citizens on a city-wide level.

Michael Colon (incumbent)  Colon 2

For about two and a half years before being elected I attended as many meetings of City Council as I could make it to, both regular meetings and committee meetings. After meetings I’d occasionally email a Council member if I didn’t understand something I heard, and they’d always get back to me. After asking to get more involved, I was appointed to two city boards and also completed the Bethlehem Citizens’ Academy. As a member of Council I’ve continued to encourage participation and involvement. I’m now on the receiving end of those emails and try my best to answer what questions someone has. More often I’ll invite someone who wants to have a discussion to breakfast so we can really get into the nuance of the issue. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but I always want to be respectful of differing opinions especially because we all, including myself, have the capacity to subscribe to bad ideas. We’ve taken steps to make meetings more accessible, in the forms of YouTube broadcasts and now mandating all board/authority meetings to be in the evening. The City’s use of social media is increasing to keep people informed and give the public another avenue to reach out to City Hall. I’ve always favored campaign finance reform and also support term limits for elected officials, including City Council.

———-

2) A Vision of/for the City

The job of a leader is to have a vision that inspires citizens, that connects with citizens, that engages citizens. Sometimes that vision is capsuled in a slogan. What is your vision of/for Bethlehem? What is your vision of Bethlehem past, or Bethlehem present, or Bethlehem future? How is Bethlehem unique – in a positive, negative, or potential way? Are there best practices from other cities you would you like to see implemented in Bethlehem? Does a pedestrian/bicycle bridge that would connect the north and south sides fit into that vision?

Paige Van Wirt (incumbent) Van Wirt 2

I think Bethlehem has been held in a paradigm of development that is left over from the early years when Bethlehem Steel closed: any development is good development.  I think this is an outdated notion and does not reflect the reality that we are a unique city, poised for a development boom, with a diversified tax base and beautiful downtowns, architecture, and geography.  We are in this strong position in part due to the hard work of our previous city leaders. However, this economic engine must now be harnessed and directed to create a city that respects our downtowns, demands excellence in the plans and vision of the investors in our city, and hews to the notion that a great city comes from incremental, healthy organic growth of codependent businesses, and does not run after the next large, bright shiny object.

I see a walkable Bethlehem, including a pedestrian bridge project if found to be feasible, that attracts young people to stay here, or to relocate to here, because of our wonderful quality of life. I see a Bethlehem that emphasizes alternative means of transportation, including walking on our future repaired sidewalks, with increased residential density downtown to support our small businesses. I see a Bethlehem that uses data to drive decisions, not campaign donations. I see a Bethlehem that respects the environment and uses the power of the government to pilot green initiatives that have worked for other cities. I see a Bethlehem that prioritizes the development of affordable housing through targeted zoning changes which will spur construction in this price range. I see a Bethlehem, emboldened by the involvement of its citizens in local government, that is innovative, fiscally prudent, adaptive of best practices and determined to provide a joyous quality of life for all our citizens, a Bethlehem where the citizens know their voices matter, and will be heard.

David Saltzer David Saltzer

The Historic City of Bethlehem, The Christmas City, The Steel City, all of these make Bethlehem unique, and all of these describe this great city’s ideals and history. This city is rich in its history, which needs to be preserved and continue to be taught to the next generation, as well as new residents and visitors. I have concerns that we are losing some of that history by allowing buildings to be built that do not fit into the neighborhoods or blend in with the beautiful architecture of the city. We need to look into rehabilitating some of these beautiful remaining structures and reusing them rather than destroying them and building new “box” structures. We are on the cusp of an exciting time and have the opportunity to do some phenomenal things to bring affordable housing into the city and attract businesses that will work with the city to maintain some of the history while providing good jobs with a livable wage. These initiatives will attract people to live, work, and reinvest in the city, allowing it to grow and create new history. Bethlehem-present has the ability right now to make Bethlehem-future something that our previous generations would be proud of and happy to call home.

Walkability and bikeability are important issues. How can we make that more enjoyable and safer for everyone in the city? The city has applied for a grant to have a study done on this initiative. I am excited to see what the study shows and what the recommendations are.

J. William Reynolds (incumbent) Reynolds 3

During my time on City Council, I have tried to lay out a vision for what our
community needs to be moving forward. I included my vision for our city in my Bethlehem 2017 initiative when I proposed making our city more progressive and investing in several areas in which I felt we could do more. We needed to focus on the issues that will determine our success in the 21 st century and do so by creating opportunities for our citizens to be involved in helping to create the solutions to the problems of the 21st century.

We need to focus on the issues that matter to our residents – climate, neighborhood
reinvestment, technology, the efficiency of government. That focus starts with planning
that includes creating long-term strategies for our community and our city. That
planning isn’t just elected officials sitting around talking. It involves government
leveraging the best asset we have – the passion of our citizens.

Our community is at its best when we have everyone working in the same direction on
an issue. Our NorthSide2027 neighborhood meetings are a great example of that.
Families, long-time residents, small business owners, community groups coming
together to work on planning what the future of their neighborhood can be. This is the
vision that I have always had for our city – our neighbors coming together to positively
talk about what we are as a community and what we can be. We are going to need
more of that to make sure Bethlehem never loses what makes our city what it is.

Michael Colon (incumbent) Colon 2

Moving forward I want to keep making Bethlehem a place where natives want to stay and out-of-towners want to move to. As many industrial towns across this country lost their economic anchors, like a steel mill, they saw a mass exodus. Even as recently as my high school and college years, I’d have to hear from friends that Bethlehem did not appeal to them. Reasons included lack of career opportunities, a perception of a rusty old steel town, or simply “nothing to do.” Through its reinvention and revitalization, Bethlehem has come out of the shadow of the Bethlehem Steel celebrating strong technology, arts, education, healthcare, and small business sectors. We are unique in how we’ve redefined what Bethlehem is and what it will continue to be. This energy revitalizes a community and brings it together. I envision more community hubs and events growing that bring out neighborhoods. The expanded Tunes at Twilight concert series, the upcoming 3rd season of the West Side Farmer’s Market, the Recreation Bureau’s Movies in the Park, all the events put on by the Downtown Bethlehem Association and SouthSide Arts District. I envision us to keep diversifying our economy, supporting the quality of life for all who live here, and fostering the sense of one big community. I support a pedestrian bridge as another means to connect the neighborhoods and encourage activity. When we stop moving, the rust comes back.

Vote and vote informed May 21

Paige Van Wirt at the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee Forum May 6 (43)

(43rd in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Paige Van Wirt is a candidate for the one of three 4yr seats on City Council, running against Michael Colon, Carol Ritter, David Saltzer, J. William Reynolds.

Van Wirt 1

Paige Van Wirt’s question: infrastructure (4.5 mins.)

“Many of the questions submitted on social media concern infrastructure — city road repairs, highway maintenance, new construction, etc. Can you speak to how you will address those concerns if elected.”

  • there’s a definite mindset different from a business mindset now
  • we just keep kicking the can down the road
  • getting a windfall from Casino Transfer Tax now but must plan better for infrastructure
  • don’t annex other communities into our sewer capacity
  • her requests for sidewalk repair have been denied
  • need a pilot program for sidewalk repairs
  • walkability has been neglected
  • walkability drives people to the City

Saltzer agreed that there should be grants for sidewalks and suggested that grouping projects together could reduce cost (min. 2:28). Carpenter remembered that the Casino was supposed to help us, but now we’re behind on important things. Why are the fundamentals suffering? (min. 3:48).

Paige Van Wirt’s closing comment (1.5 mins.)

  • re-introducing ethics ordinance

Look for more on Van Wirt as she responds to other candidate presentations and participates in group answers on such topics as their unique qualities, transparency, neighborhoods.

Random research and reflections on implosions recorded in real time (39)

(39th in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19
www.martintowerbethlehem.com

Informational meeting
Thursday, May 9, 6PM
Nitschmann Middle School

10PM. Do you know where your children are?

Do you know where Gadfly is? About to spend two hours before Rachel comes on burning-the-near-midnight-oil bouncing around on the web.

And he’ll share here his pilgrimage with you just like Ron Yoshida did his. (I’m still in awe, Ron!)

There are many examples on the web of materials cities have prepared for their citizens regarding implosions. We learned at Council last night that Bethlehem will distribute a packet at Thursday’s meeting.

Can’t wait.

Here we go.

1) Commercial Demolition FAQs: Your Biggest Questions Answered

“Explosion / Implosion
The most efficient of all commercial demolition methods is explosion or implosion, but it’s typically only suitable when mechanical demolition and deconstruction aren’t an option. There are public health concerns with this type of demolition, including environmental issues, damage to adjacent structures, flying debris, air quality concerns, noise, and more.”

“When used, this is typically the least expensive commercial demolition method.”

 

“Hometown Demolition aims to be the simplest way to find and hire the right contractor for demolition anywhere in the USA.”

Were the primary options of “mechanical demolition and deconstruction” ruled out in our case? Or was the implosion option chosen because it cost the developer less, even though “there are public health concerns”?

———-

2) IMPORTANT NOTICE — IMPLOSION ALERT — Sunday, January 20, 2019 (Jacksonville, FL.)

“Any residents and business personnel required to be in the exclusion zone (see map below) during the time of the demolition event are directed to stay indoors and shelter in place. Noise/sound pressure levels and lingering dust may pose a safety risk to citizens. All doors, windows and entry ways are to be kept closed and exhaust fans turned off.”

“Can I come out when the blast is over?
The demolition is expected to last no more than five minutes. However, the falling debris is expected to produce a dust cloud that, with wind, can travel outside of the immediate area and last much longer. It is critical for all to remain indoors and shelter in place until access notification is provided via JSO.”

“Am I in danger if I come out prior to notification?
Months of comprehensive work has been conducted to ready the building for implosion, including the remediation and removal of hazardous interior materials. However, to minimize health risks and threats to persons–especially those with breathing and/or respiratory conditions–everyone is advised to remain indoors and shelter in place until notification is provided. In addition, noise and sound pressure levels at and near the site during the blast may pose a threat to hearing, reaffirming the critical need to shelter in place.”

Gadfly was caught by surprise by hearing last night about “exclusion zone” and “restricted zone.” What does that mean? So he went looking. Here’s an example in Jacksonville. Seems a pretty big zone, actually. And people within it are “sheltering in place.” Awesome term. Jacksonville is frank about safety: “Noise/sound pressure levels and lingering dust may pose a safety risk to citizens.” The phrase “critical need” is not soft. And — bottom line — perhaps people are put through this implosion trouble and maybe implosion risk because it may be a cheaper method for the developer?????? Will Bethlehem be frank about safety in its packet?

———–

3) Go back to the web site above in 2) and look at the first commenter:

“That dust cloud is mainly respirable silica with a little Aspergillus and heavy metals mixed in. Notice the guy drilling the holes. By law he has to take a class which teaches him the dangers of silica. Then he has to wear a respirator and a moon suit to prevent exposure to the dust and he has to get annual health checkups. The City wants you believe that magically the implosion some how magically turns this dangerous substance into something innocent and non harmful. There are thousands and thousand of cases of cancer from a one time exposure to the silica dust from the WTC collapse. What makes it even worse is that they aren’t planning on cleaning the roofs of the adjacent buildings so that hazardous material will be blowing around the city for weeks if not months. . . . [possibility of a rain storm] That creates an even bigger problem. What happens when you add water to a bag of concrete? The same thing happens to the concrete dust after and implosion. They use water to clean up the dust. It mixes and washes down the storm drains where guess what? It becomes concrete again and clogs everything up.”

Tsk, nasty CAVE person in Jacksonville. We learned last night that our City has received many resident responses. But why is the comment function on www.martintowerbethlehem.com “disabled,” so 1) there is no public record of what the responses are and 2) so people do not know what others are saying — and, most importantly, 3) so people cannot learn from each other and 4) perhaps organize with each other? Why can’t we see what our fellow citizens are saying?

———-

4) Go back again to #2 where people in the exclusion zone “are directed to stay indoors and shelter in place.”  Now go to www.martintowerbethlehem.com the Bethlehem FAQ and look at #6 where the question is “Should residents stay indoors during the implosion and, if so, for how long?”

First, that question is not answered in the answer. We are not directly told if residents should stay indoors, and, if so, for how long. Not told. Not answered. Second, at the very end of the answer we ARE told that if you are dust-aggravated, you should stay indoors, and thus, by implication, if you are not dust-aggravated, you can be outdoors. Nice. So in Jacksonville, they want you to stay indoors — it’s critical that you do so — but in Bethlehem, it’s ok to be outdoors. Riddle me that, Batman.

———-

5) Brayton Point, MA

The debate over dust. That nasty stuff.

“Dust would be created via every possible demolition method, and here is why implosion is the preferred method:
— The implosion event is scheduled, immediate, and short-lived (around 8 seconds) – all of which afford the opportunity for planning to minimize impacts to the community and onsite workers.
— Mechanical demolition occurs over weeks or months, and dust generation would be expected to occur over a much longer time, making planning to minimize exposure more difficult and less practical.”

Now here’s a rebuttal to #1 above. The claim here looks like implosion is healthier. So whom do we believe? How do we judge?

There are two types of dust – heavy particulates and light particulates.
— Heavy particulate dust is not expected to stray more than 200 feet from the base of the towers and should clear in approximately 5 minutes.
— Based on historic NOAA Climatic Wind Data, lighter dust is expected to clear the site in a matter of minutes traveling southeast over Mount Hope Bay towards Fall River and dissipating before reaching the far shore.

I realize that I don’t know about this dust. Is it only dangerous when it is in the air? There is no danger when it is on the ground? Does it eventually just go away, just disappear? Poof. And is it a good thing — in the big picture, I mean — if it blows away from “us” only to fall on someone else somewhere else? And is it ok if it falls on water instead of us? I just don’t know. Good exam questions for a course in Moral Philosophy.

———-

6) Iowa State University FAQ

Q: Have there been any problems in residential areas where this has been done?
A: Dust is an unpreventable byproduct of all types of demolition. Depending on wind speed and direction on the day of the implosion, the dust may or may not reach your properties.

Now go to the Bethlehem FAQ #6:
A: Dust is an unpreventable byproduct of all types of demolition. . . . Depending on wind speed and direction on the day of the implosion, the dust may or may not reach your properties.

It gradually occurred to me that as I was reading around, jumping from here to there and back online, I was hearing the same language. Here above is an example of what the man before the man became Gadfly would call plagiarism. Verboten. But the bigger problem is the possibility that these FAQs are made up mainly of boiler plate language, which, though it may innocently save time for the City official charged with creating the FAQ document, could also indicate a propensity for City officials to stop thinking for themselves. Plagiarism is a mark of laziness, a lack of original thinking.

———-

Ok, I’ve had it. Rachel is on. I’m sure Trumpworld will be less complex.

I think we’d better get our butts to the meeting tomorrow — er, tonight! With our Gadfly glands well oiled.

Martin Tower demolition discussion at City Council May 7 (38)

(38th in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19
www.martintowerbethlehem.com

Informational meeting
Thursday, May 9, 6PM
Nitschmann Middle School

It’s terrible [The City press release]. (Martin Romeril)

Implosion poses health risks. (Forensic Pathologist Steve Diamond)

There’s a bad public relations problem here. (Gadfly)

The City of Bethlehem has become the City of Developers. (Stephen Antalics, Gadfly #1)

It’s a travesty. (Al Wurth)

The thing that kind of upsets me is this undertone that all these organizations aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing . . . I think you are going to find out that a large majority, an astronomical amount of people are informed about it and feel completely safe about it and you are going to see a lot of people getting up early in the morning to watch it, and they have no fear of anything that’s going on at the site and they have complete confidence in all the professionals as I do. (Councilman Callahan)

Michael Bloomberg said, “In God we trust, everyone else bring data.” So tell them to bring data. (Councilwoman Paige Van Wirth)

I think that after that Thursday meeting, your questions will be answered. . . . What they [the experts] can’t answer, put their feet to the fire. (Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Novatnack)

I’m prepared to stay here [the Thursday meeting] till 11 o’clock. (Mayor Donchez)

(Gadfly’s video tool failed him, but there’s audio here below, and, he reminds you, a full video will be posted on the City Council web site.)

Tuesday May 7 City Council meeting began, per usual, with public comment — dominated by the Martin Tower demolition.

Marty Romeril (6 mins.)

Questions still unanswered include such things as the exclusion zone (people may have to leave homes? First Gadfly heard that), wind speed considerations, other meteorological conditions, anticipated radius of the dust cloud, coatings on your house, pets, playground equipment, the range and size of the dust particles, Little League, Golf course, monitoring, Monocacy Creek, Burnside, asbestos.

Steve Diamond (4 mins.)

Forensic pathologist perspective. Lung disease from many elements besides asbestos. Process can take many years, and the cause may not be realized. Slow evolution of failing health because of inability to breathe. Implosion poses health risks. The City is overlooking a health hazard. Will samples of air, water, and soil be taken pre- and post-demolition? Protections of hospitals, streams, etc.? Possible financial liability exposure of the City. [

Gadfly (4 mins.)

Contacted by “desperadoes” — people worried about health issues trying to get answers and getting only a runaround. There’s a bad public relations problem here. Where’s our health department? Asks for an independent scientific study on the safety of implosions.

Stephen Antalics (4 mins.)

The City of Bethlehem has become the City of Developers. The most qualified people are not listened to. Whose will is being served here? This whole thing is a travesty in a sense.

Al Wurth (5 mins.)

Astounded. Perplexed. Never dreamed we would blow it up. We’re doing this to ourselves. It’s a travesty.

———-

In the body of the meeting, the Mayor asked Robert Novatnack, Bethlehem Emergency Management Coordinator, to make a brief presentation. He is the point man for the City on the demolition.

Robert Novatnack and City Council (28 mins.)

  • Novatnack: holding meetings with press and stakeholders, lot of work going on that doesn’t hit the newspapers, experts will be here Thursday, as will owners and development people, more meetings with stakeholders tomorrow, will give PowerPoint presentation Thursday and then open the floor for questions. Later in the conversation he would say that there will be a pamphlet/booklet containing all information (the Mayor said 500 copies will be printed), that the Department of Health will not be at the Thursday meeting (though the Mayor said if they aren’t, he would ask our City department to be there).
  • Councilwoman Van Wirt (min. 3:10): asked for assurance that questions previously raised were given to the DEP and others to answer even before the meeting, and pressed for distribution of answers beforehand so that they could be digested by the public. The City didn’t seem to quite get what PVW was after, and she pushed, calling attention to the arbitrary time frame. The bottom line City response to PVW seemed tentative. There’s a valid role here for the Department of Health.
  • Councilman Callahan (min. 9:57): sounding in Gadfly’s mind — and based on past experience — defensive against implication that the City and the developer were not doing all they should, asked for naming of all organizations involved in the planning, getting the answers he wanted except that the State Department of Health will not be there (a crucial absence given the health concern that is our issue!), and — for the record, as if he were a defense attorney — got the City to say they have complete confidence in the demolition company.
  • Councilman Reynolds (min. 12:45): made clear that it isn’t that anybody doesn’t trust the City and Mr. Novatnack but that this is a new thing and there are necessary questions, so it’s a matter of how we deliver information to people who don’t have experience with it.
  • Councilman Colon (min. 16:19): extended appreciation to the City for what’s done so far and for the Thursday meeting and reminded people that unlike 911 this is a controlled demolition and that all the pre-planning steps to clean the building have made it safe.
  • Councilman Callahan again (min. 18:40): upset at undertone that City and developers and all the organizations aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing, you will find that a large majority, an astronomical amount of people are informed about it and feel completely safe about it and you are going to see a lot of people getting up early in the morning to watch it and they have no fear of anything that’s going on at the site and they have complete confidence in all the professionals as I do.
  • Mayor Donchez (min. 20:30): gave a shout-out to Senator Boscola and Gov Wolf’s office for help getting the meeting organized.
  • Councilwoman Van Wirt again (min. 21:31): clear that this is not about trust in the City or the City representative but about the process, quoting Michael Bloomberg, “In God we trust, everyone else bring data.” So tell them to bring data.
  • Council President Waldron (min. 22:37): only thing awry is communication coming back to the public, lot of questions right now, Thursday a great opportunity to clear them up, asked about format and agenda. Emphasizing need for ample time for questions.
  • Novatnack again (min. 23:26): expressing great positivity about activities so far and the meeting on Thursday.
  • Mayor Donchez again (min. 26:26): explained comprehensive information packets that will be available and his willingness to stay late so questions will be answered.

Michael Colon at the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee Forum May 6 (40)

(40th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Michael Colon is a candidate for the one of three 4yr seats on City Council, running against Carol Ritter, J. William Reynolds, David Saltzer, Paige Van Wirt.

Colon

The candidates were asked a specific question, could respond to the answers of the other candidates, participated in several group questions, and made a closing comment.

Michael Colon’s question: on opiods (7 mins.)

“Although our City is thriving, the Nation’s growing opiod crisis has not spared Bethlehem, what measures would you urge City Council to take to help those struggling with addiction?”

  • The City has taken a number of measures to combat the opiod problem.
  • The BPAIR program
  • People who overdose are followed-up to see if they need treatment.
  • Police, etc., carry NARCAN
  • City Hall drop box for unused medication
  • Pricing of NARCAN

Crampsie Smith added the possibility of the HOPE Program, an education program, and instituting prevention programs for kids (min. 3:50). Ritter advised that treatment now is not long enough (min. 4:45). Carpenter stressed that addiction is a disease, and we need to take way the stigma (min. 6:00). Van Wirt pointed to a program in Erie, where anybody who wants NARCAN can get it for free (min. 6:40). We must disseminate info about where people can get NARCAN.

Michael Colon’s closing comment (1.5 mins.)

  • great honor serving
  • has been on majority and minority sides
  • approach every issue new
  • competency and integrity

Look for more on Colon as he responds to other candidate presentations and participates in group answers on such topics as their unique qualities, transparency, neighborhoods.

Grace Crampsie Smith at the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee Forum May 6 (39)

(39th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Grace Crampsie Smith is a candidate for the one 2yr seat on City Council, running against Will Carpenter.

Crampsie Smith

The candidates were asked a specific question, could respond to the answers of the other candidates, participated in several group questions, and made a closing comment.

Crampsie Smith’s question: on the TIF (5 mins.)

“What is the TIF? And why is it important for Bethlehem residents to be informed about it this election cycle?”

  • Any time we have additional revenues within the City, we have to look first and foremost at the existing budget.
  • We have to be sure we meet the rising costs associated with the majority of our budget, personnel.
  • Additional funds we need to look at what our needs are.
  • Infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the development.
  • Lot of work needs to be done specifically on the roads.
  • Significant increase in the number of homeless families . . . we need to work on housing that is affordable and suitable.

Colon followed up explaining the history of the TIF (min. 2). Van Wirt pointed to large amounts of TIF money going to developers, showing need for better oversight, and appreciating an ordinance formulated by Reynolds (min. 3:25).

Crampsie Smith’s closing comment (1.5 mins.)

  • raised in a family committed to the importance of giving back to the community
  • advocate for people from all walks of life
  • wants to be advocate for citizens from all parts of Bethlehem
  • blessed to live here and hopes family will continue great legacy that is Bethlehem

Look for more on Crampsie Smith as she responds to other candidate presentations and participates in group answers on such topics as their unique qualities, transparency, neighborhoods.

Will Carpenter at the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee Forum May 6 (38)

(38th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Will Carpenter is a candidate for the one 2yr seat on City Council, running against Grace Crampsie Smith.

Carpenter

The candidates were asked a specific question, could respond to the answers of the other candidates, participated in several group questions, and made a closing comment.

Carpenter’s question: on the Climate Action Plan, the environment (6 mins.)

“While the citizens of Bethlehem wait for the proposed climate action plan, there are things we can do to fight climate change now. Please describe some of the environmental initiatives and/or ordinances you would champion if elected.”

  • The environment is one of the things motivating me getting involved here.
  • Everything that I look at as a Council person will be viewed with the eyes, how does this fit in with our Climate Action Plan.
  • The cost of inaction is so much more than the cost of action.
  • Getting ready for the next generation of technology . . . helps to build good jobs.
  • . . . our not wonderful air . . .
  • I’m going to dig into it, study it, make it my top priority.

Crampsie Smith followed up talking about things we could do now, such as a ban on single-use plastic bags, alternate means of transportation, strong laws against littering, and awareness programs for children (min. 2:15). Reynolds filled us in on specific details about what’s actually going on with the Climate Action Plan (min. 3:10). Van Wirt called attention to work by the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) on a plastic bag ban, a pilot program on solar warehouses, and electric vehicles (min. 4:28).

Carpenter’s closing comment (2 mins.):

  • I bring a different skill set to what’s currently on City Council.
  • I have a developer background, but I’m far from a developer.
  • I’d like to bring that attention, that thought process to City Council.
  • I’ve negotiated lots of big deals, I’ve prepared budgets, had budget responsibility.
  • I’m not running against anything, not coming in saying I have all the answers.
  • citizens . . . environment . . . economy . . . priorities.

Look for more on Carpenter as he responds to other candidate presentations and participates in group answers on such topics as their unique qualities, transparency, neighborhoods.

Draft questions for the May 9 meeting on the Martin Tower demolition (31)

(31st in a series on Martin Tower)

Martin Tower demolition May 19
www.martintowerbethlehem.com

Informational meeting
Thursday, May 9, 6PM
Nitschmann Middle School

“It is amazing to me that so many people are reacting to this implosion
as entertainment or spectacle rather than a health risk.”
Barbara Diamond

Here’s Gadfly’s quick shot at walking through the MT process in chronological order and thinking about the kinds of questions about public health concerns we should hope to have answered at the May 9 meeting.

Ha! looks like a deposition, doesn’t it!

He has incorporated suggestions from a half-dozen followers (some copied from implosion protocols elsewhere), and there’s bound to be some repetition.

Let’s consider this a “draft.”

Now that you’ve seen it, please make suggestions.

If you don’t see your question or concern covered here or covered adequately here, let Gadfly know.

Gadfly would hope to publish some “final” version revised on the basis of further follower ideas around mid-day Monday so that City officials might have time to consider answering our questions at or even before the Thursday meeting.

Preliminary Planning:

  • What options besides implosion are available for demolition?
  • Why (according to the newspaper) is implosion used only 1% of the time?
  • What factors (time, cost, efficiency, geography, etc.) made implosion the best option for MT?
  • Where did potential health hazards factor in to the decision? Is it fair to say that other options would provide less of a health hazard?
  • Was the City involved in the planning decision? If so, name those City officials involved. If so, what role did the City play in the decision? If so, did the City have a veto power?
  • Was there any disagreement about the decision to use implosion among any of those consulted in the planning decision? If so, who and for what reason?
  • Is it too late to choose another option for demolition?

The Regulatory Process:

  • What Federal and State laws, regulations, and guidelines govern implosions?
  • What Federal and State approvals had to be obtained? What offices, where located, and who were the principal government agents consulted and responsible for approvals?
  • What City laws, regulations, and guidelines govern implosions?
  • What City approvals had to be obtained? What City offices were consulted and were responsible for the approvals? Who were the key figures in the approval process?
  • What information had to be submitted to the City in order to obtain approval?
  • Were there any disagreements or concerns voiced by City officials during the approval process? If so, who and for what reason?
  • What Federal, State, and City laws, regulations, and guidelines specifically relate to health concerns? Where in the regulations are health concerns addressed?
  • Did the City do its own background check on Controlled Demolition, Inc.? Did the City solicit references? If not, why not? If so, were there any concerns or, more importantly, “red flags”? What was their last job similar in nature and scope to Bethlehem? Who was responsible for the vetting of CD?
  • Did City officials meet with the developer and/or CD during the approval process? Elaborate.
  • Did City officials research prior implosions by CD for health protocols and health consequences? Did CD provide testing data post-demolition in previous cases?
  • Are there any City officials with prior expertise or experiences in implosions? On what did they depend for their judgments?
  • What in the history of demolition in Bethlehem, imploded or otherwise, was pertinent to consideration of MT?
  • What pertinent independent general studies of the health consequences of implosions were studied by the City?

Possible contaminants:

  • Is there any asbestos on site? What tests have been done? Where are the results available? Is there independent verification of what asbestos is onsite? If there is asbestos, what will be done to control it?
  • Are there other contaminants onsite? What are they, and what are their health effects?
  • What will the fallout, the “dust” that the implosion raises contain?
  • Will the developer remove and safely dispose of any building components containing lead and other known contaminants before demolition?
  • Has a fallout zone been determined? Where will the fallout be most intense? How far will the fallout spread?
  • Will there be tests to determine the range and intensity of the fallout? If so, who will do them? Will there be independent tests? Where and when will the test results be available?
  • Will there be tests of indoor air quality?
  • What health effects can we expect from “normal” fallout? What is a worst-case scenario? Are there long-term independent studies of fallout health consequences after implosions?

Preparation of the townspeople:

  • Should people be worried about health consequences? If so, what should they do to avoid or to mitigate those consequences?
  • Should people with certain health conditions take certain precautions or avoid the area for a period of time?
  • Do you recommend face masks?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that community residents within the fallout zone are provided with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums and “tack mats,” which remove dust from shoes as individuals enter the home?
  • Should homes be sealed up?
  • Will dust lay on cars, outdoor furniture, and so forth, and, if so, should anything be done?
  • Should people be told to avoid lawn mowers, blowers, etc., for a time – things that stir up the dust?
  • Should people be kept off the Little League fields, off the Golf course, out of Burnside, from shopping at Lowe’s, and so forth, for the day?
  • Should people be advised to restrict any kind of activity or to avoid any locations?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that residents, community organizations, faith-based organiza­tions, and city agencies are fully informed about the potential health hazards from dust from the demolition and who to contact if they believe they have been exposed?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure training of community block monitors to assist residents with questions and home safety measures?

Demolition day operation:

  • Who is in charge of the operation that day? Who is calling the shots? Does the City have any say in the operation? What officials will be on site?
  • What factors will determine that the demolition is “a go”?
  • What factors would determine a delay or a cancellation of the demolition?
  • What could go wrong? What could seriously go wrong? What is a worst-case scenario?
  • Is wind speed and direction a factor in whether to go or not? Is there such a thing as a desirable and undesirable speed or direction? Or is it “anything goes”?

Post-demolition testing:

  • Will there be tests to determine the range and intensity of the fallout? If so, who will do them? Will there be independent tests? Where and when will the test results be available?
  • In addition to air-quality tests, will there be seismic monitoring, to determine possible impact on building foundations and so forth?
  • Has the city made arrangements for independent testing of the streets and sidewalks surrounding demolished property to measure the impact of demolition and debris removal on the local environment, and to repeat such tests when clearing the site has been completed?

Post-demolition clean-up:

  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that all sidewalks, streets, and parking lots in the fallout zone are swept immediately after the demolition and again when debris has been removed?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure the developer will cover all dust & debris on the demolition site so it will not be carried off by wind or rain AND require it all to be completely removed as rapidly as possible?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure that two inches of topsoil are removed and replaced on all exposed ground within the fallout area?
  • Has the city made arrangements to ensure the developer has established procedures for safe removal of all debris from demolished buildings, including use of hoses to suppress dust and covering trucks?
  • Do we have to wait for rain to be totally safe?
  • Will it be safe to use the Little League fields, play golf, visit Burnside, use compost, and etc.?

Long-term view:

  • People will eventually live, work, visit at the MT site. What safeguards will be put in place to protect their health?
  • Are we learning anything in this process about such things as City-citizen communication and the efficacy of our various laws, regulations, and guidelines that we would want to change as a result of this MT experience?

Gadfly reminds followers that email links to the Mayor and City Council are on the sidebar for easy access. If it is not obvious, the reason Gadfly has been including this footer is to suggest that if you have public health and safety concerns and concerns about tardy City communication (follow-up information was promised mid-April), that you communicate those concerns directly and powerfully to your public officials.