Looking at BPA numbers (1)

(93rd in a series of posts on parking)

Let’s look at the “pro forma” presented at the July 2 City Council meeting to support the BPA’s ability to carry a private loan for construction of the $16.8m Polk Street Garage.

BPA Presentation – 7-2-19 – City Council – DRAFT

Here are some of the things that Gadfly’s thinking about browsing the document:

  • Note two “scenarios”: 1) the financial bottom line with an increase in fines in tandem with the increase in meter rates that occurred in January and 2) the financial bottom line without an increase.
  • The rather surprising conclusion is that the fine increases are not necessary to service the private loan debt.
  • One wonders, then, how strongly the BPA will push for the proposed increase in the fine structure.
  • The BPA indicates it will push for the fine increases for “policy” reasons — there is an industry standard for the relationship between meter rates and fines and higher fines help increase curbside turnover that is good for business.
  • Logically, commonsensically, violations need to incur a substantial financial penalty to do their work.
  • But, again, the fine money is not needed for the loan.
  • Parenthetically, Gadfly has sensed no hue and cry among the parking populace about the 50% rise in meter rates January 1 nor has there been dire catastrophe, as predicted, in the past six months from not raising the penalty rates.
  • As far as Gadfly can tell, the public has been comfortable with the rise in meter rates and would presumably be so with a rise in fines.
  • Which is not to say that those with budget oversight should ignore the situation.
  • Focus on line 31 “Parking violations — total” in both scenarios and focus on column 4 — 2021 — the probable first year of PSG operation.
  • In scenario 1, with a fine increase the revenue is $1,494,638.
  • In scenario 2, without a fine increase the revenue is $1,450,296.
  • The difference is $44,342.
  • Barely a blip in an estimated revenue budget that year of $7,396,635.
  • On p. 73 of the Desman Parking Study, we find that raising the fine structure would have an “Estimated Revenue Impact: $400,000 annually.”
  • How does that square with $44,342?

Meet the “Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development”

(Latest posts on such topics as Neighborhoods, Southside,
1st Terrace, Affordable Housing)

In a model display of public participation and activism, a group of residents associated with the 1st Terrace situation that Gadfly reported on earlier attended City Council last night, announcing the formation of  “Bethlehem Residents for Responsible Development,” describing the deteriorating situation in their neighborhood from the increasing pressure of student housing and firmly pushing the Mayor and City Council to take action NOW before it is too late.

You can find audio of the full individual statements from these residents at the bottom of this post, but here just below Gadfly has arranged clips in the form of an interview to capture the powerfully cumulative effect of their presentations.

Describe your neighborhood. (Moglen)

Why are you living there? (Mendez)

What is your purpose in coming here to this meeting? (Moglen)

Isn’t off-campus housing for students needed because of Lehigh’s expansion? (Handler)

What’s it like to live next to students? (Handler)

Are you opposed to neighborhood students and development? (Handler)

Give us some historical perspective. (Evans)

What’s the developer like? (Stark)

What’s your experience with the developer? (Long)

How urgent is the problem and how committed are you to pushing for a solution? (Saunders)

What is it that you want? (Moglen)

Don’t miss the full presentations:

Anne Evans

Kristin Handler

Chris Long

Mrs. Mendez

Seth Moglen

Murdock Saunders

Gretchen Stark

Night sweats (92)

(92nd in a series of posts on parking)

Last night, on the eve of another City Council meeting — the last meeting having hosted the Parking Authority’s draft report on moving ahead with the $16.8m Polk Street Garage — Gadfly had a dream.

City Council took back its power to fix parking meter rates.*

Smoke was seen emanating from the portals of the BPA bunker at Main and North Sts., and card tables ringed the perimeter as officials sold raffle tickets to raise money for their next garage projects.


* Responsibility for meter rates and fines originally rested with City Council. City Council delegated the power over rates to the BPA in the late 1980s for an altruistic reason at the urging of a Councilman who, ironically, actually was opposed to BPA expansion plans: see Gadfly posts #75 and #76.


Clarification on Tony’s “Robbed” poem!

Thanks for posting my poem about our home being robbed.  I suppose I should have put a date on the poem to make sure people didn’t think the robbery occurred recently. It happened several years ago, but I was inspired to share it with you, and your readers, because of your poem about your house – “My House Is Too Heavy.” I am getting notes of sympathy and concern from friends and colleagues who read “The Gadfly,” and I feel as if I have misled them. Pat and I really appreciate their concern, but the incident is now just a distant memory. We continue to enjoy our beautiful old home, “too heavy” like the Gallagher home, but complete with a new alarm system, and lots of new exterior security lighting. We have to protect all of those books!

4th of July 2019: Gadfly’s thoughts drift to the past and to the Southwest border

Gadflies are never satisfied. Gadflies, seeking perfection,
always see the glass only half-full.

“I shall see this day . . . from the [migrant’s] point of view.”

In 1852 the people of Rochester, NY, did an audacious thing.

They asked a slave — Frederick Douglass — to give the annual 4th of July oration.

Douglass had escaped slavery. And until quite recently, when a friend purchased his freedom, he was still the property of another, subject to arrest and return to his Master. He was “Other.”

In that oration, Frederick Douglass did an audacious thing. He spoke as a slave and asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

In that oration, Frederick Douglass had the audacity to tell us what the slaves would think and say hearing the pious and patriotic 4th of July orations.

Followers will know that Gadfly feels the pain of others. Especially unjust pain.

You know, for instance, he can’t shake the pain in the May 22 letter to the Mayor and Council from the South Bethlehem Historical Society about the impact of “progress” on the character of the Southside.

Imagine, then, how he feels on this 4th of July about reports from the Southwest border these past few days about conditions of the migrants.


Gadfly will ask you to do an audacious thing.

Imagine if we asked a migrant in detention on our Southwest border to give the 4th of July oration here today.

And imagine he or she answered in Frederick Douglass’s words.

I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory. . . .

Fully appreciating the hardship to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the corner-stone of the national superstructure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you. . . .

I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. — The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. . . .

Above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of [hundreds? thousands?]! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. . . .

I shall see this day . . . from the [migrant’s] point of view. . . . I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the [detained migrants] on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate [this treatment] — the great sin and shame of America! . . .

I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-[immigrant] creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the [migrant] is a [human being]? . . .

What, then, remains to be argued? . . . The time for such argument is passed. At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and
could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced. . . .

(At this point, you might want to drop off and read “ICE Argues Migrants In Camps Are Free To Die At Any Time.”)

What, to the [migrant], is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

Like getting hit with a bucket of boiling oil.

A message addressed with equal fervor to members of all political parties.