Time for a new beginning

The Bethlehem Gadfly is closed.
Though the real estate is paid for and will remain open
for the rest of the year

“It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves,” says Thoreau leaving the exquisitely beautiful Walden Pond. Even that wonderful experience had lost some of its excitement.

I leave The Gadfly 3200 posts strong and with more followers that I could have ever expected or imagined.

I leave like Frost’s woodchopper who simply packed up and left his wood-pile — “his handiwork on which he spent himself” — “a cord of maple, cut and split / And piled—and measured, four by four by eight” — because he was “someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks.”

Gadfly is a man who lives in turning to fresh tasks.

“I begin, therefore I am” has always been his motto.

Time for a new beginning.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, high noon, age 81.

LEPOCO “makes me proud to be dwelling here”

LEPOCO: “As concerned citizens, we plan, organize, and initiate change at the local, national, and international level. We advocate for political action, participate in demonstrations, and host public conversations.”

Bethlehem is full of nice people and great organizations. Among the several that I have been happy to highlight from time to time here in Gadfly over the last three years is the LEPOCO Peace Center.

What a treasure for our town.

Imagine . . . an organization promoting peace.

Largely unsung.

You’d think we’d all be members.

Hint, hint.

But as I prepare to wrap up my Gadfly stint, I cannot help tipping my hat to them in the words of my long-time colleague Addison Bross in this month’s issue of the LEPOCO newsletter:

“A wonderful reminder that right here where I live — even amid these times when our society’s darker impulses have taken on a particularly frightening mode — people are, with great courage and zest, nonviolently working for a humane social order, for PEACE. It makes me proud to be dwelling here.”

Well said, Bro’

Remembering on Mother’s Day . . .

Long-time colleague Ted Morgan just now read Billy Collins’ poem “The Lanyard” at Quaker meeting this morning. I wish you could have heard his voice. Quiet, reflective. I had to turn my eyes from the Zoom screen, as if afraid someone would see the tears slowly welling there. Silly masculinity. After Ted’s reading, I was surprised by the reaction of the audience here to the author’s reading — laughter. Maybe because it was a large group. I don’t know. But it felt quite different to me, alone, in Sunday worship. I wish you could have heard Ted’s voice. But I’m sure you will be moved by this simple, beautiful tribute to a mother.

The Lanyard

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light
and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.
Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Learn more about the proposed Hill to Hill bridge renovation

“A $74.4 million plan to fix Bethlehem’s Hill to Hill Bridge would add a new, two-lane bridge parallel to the 100-year-old span over the Lehigh River.”
Christina Tatu

re: Plan on the table for Hill to Hill bridge renovation

Tip o’ the hat to John Marquette for this presentation on the Hill to Hill renovation.

The public has until May 7 to comment on the plan, which is available on the PennDOT website.

Still seems a shame that there wasn’t a major city-wide public discussion of the option PennDot favors.

click here

On the history of the Hill to Hill bridge, see here and here.

With candidate Reynolds your neighborhood is in danger

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Steve Diamond, DO, MBA is a Medical Examiner of Hunterdon County, NJ, and a forensic pathologist. He is a board member of multiple international start-up companies and is the Medical Director of clinical trials laboratories.

Gadfly:

I believe Councilman Reynolds’ voting record and vocal support for commercial development in residential neighborhoods represents a radical departure from traditional zoning that will be detrimental to Bethlehem’s future. (All statements below are supported by audio archives.)

“I wouldn’t mind more commercial uses in my neighborhood,” exclaimed Mr. Reynolds in a December 4, 2018, City Council meeting regarding a change in the zoning code to help a favored wealthy member in the community convert a historic residence on Market Street into his business headquarters. This change, which was vigorously opposed by residents, now permits business operations that were previously not permitted in the RT zone.

Voting in favor of this change, Mr. Reynolds referenced many times the fact that his neighborhood includes businesses, and he believes other districts should also welcome businesses. The fact that Mr.Reynolds resides in a neighborhood zoned for commercial and institutional uses is not relevant. In casting his “yes” vote for commercialization in a residential zone (RT) that does not permit those operations, he was altering the established zoning that in effect is a threat to Bethlehem’s residential neighborhoods.

Furthermore, Mr. Reynolds inappropriately questioned the motives of residents who opposed creeping commercialism in their neighborhood. His statement “I wouldn’t want all residences in my neighborhood” demonstrates his lack of understanding. He should have understood that zoning is a covenant between the city and people who invest in a home in a neighborhood. He should have understood that property value is a major source of personal wealth and that a business setting up next door will undermine that investment. He should have understood that residents want neighbors for friendship, safety, and support.

He then finished off his rationale for voting for commercialism with “If you don’t want any commercial in your neighborhood, there are townships everywhere that are built on that general idea. We can drive to our townships, and we can park, and go somewhere else.” As Gadfly remarked in his post on the discussion [CM Reynolds on “the 2” (61)], “The train of thought on commercialism climaxes in what is literally a love-it-or-leave-it pronouncement.”

This is not the appropriate attitude toward residents who oppose such a consequential change to their neighborhoods. In my mind, Bethlehem needs a leader who listens, seeks consensus, and understands that strong neighborhoods make strong cities.

That leader is Dana Grubb.

Election excitement!

Election Day Tuesday, May 18!

For those of you going to the polls in person, 2 weeks from yesterday, 13 days left.

For those of you mailing or drop-boxing, even less.

Here’s a bit of timely hype from Council candidate Kiera Wilhelm (as well as a shameless, barely tolerable plug for herself just on the borderline of the strict Gadfly Enterprises non-partisan editorial guidelines!)

 

Thank you, Kiera.

Please get out to vote.

Not too many people do in the off-beat elections that determine our local leadership.

Need we remind you that every vote counts. Think of the tight state-wide elections last November. Think of the close run-off election in Georgia that has made such a difference in the Congressional landscape.

Gadfly has heard Councilman Colon say that his first election was decided by a mere 17 votes. Yiii!

Your vote counts!

Find Bethlehem May 2019 election summary totals here:

 

Find your May 2019 Bethlehem precinct tally here. This is Gadfly’s precinct. Will Carpenter lost in my precinct by a mere 5 votes.

 

Hardball (3)

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

ref: Hardball (1)
ref: Hardball (2)

from Greg Zahm

First, in response to the Grubb campaign Mailer of last week, how many can say they have served the city equally to either Dana Grubb or Willie Reynolds? I have served as a teacher for 16 years in this my home town (eight more between NYC and Easton) – much less than many have given to Bethlehem, and also not in a city-wide capacity. Children’s education and small-scale intervention in their lives have been quite enough responsibility. Having said these things, our city – all of it – needs our help.

I can say unequivocally that I do not like the tenor of Dana Grubb’s “hardball” mailer – some of what he’s saying and much of the way he’s saying what he’s saying: “It’s no one’s “turn” to be Mayor: It should be the CHOICE of the people!

Mr. Grubb, it is already the people’s choice. This statement is manipulative.. It’s “said” publicly (rather than behind the scenes), but in a forum where many reading it cannot interact with others to digest it with thorough and informed consideration.

And, while I want to admire the spirit of “It’s time to break the cycle of “graduating” members of City Council to the Office of Mayor” – of COURSE not – where is the substantiation of this implication? I find it cheap and offensive. CAN it be substantiated? And, is the bigger implication intended that “anyone who really matters” should simply agree?  Alas, it too is public . . . and done.

And now, there is Willie Reynolds’ mailer (of Friday, April 30) comparing Mr. Grubb to the most recent ex-president, due to one – albeit concerning, but investigated, explained, and resolved – event.  (And is the picture supposed to be derogatory? Meh.)

How many more physical altercations has Mr. Grubb had? Has he been charged for any? (Has Mr. Reynolds?) I have heard of none. On what facts does Mr. Reynolds challenge Mr. Grubb in the mailer? One.  I agree that the last four years have essentially been the absence of federal leadership. That, however, does not translate so easily to Mr Grubb. Arguably, this is equally if not more disappointing than Mr. Grubb’s innuendo.

Now, to the “facts” of Mr. Grubb’s mailer.

No resident wants to see personal taxes raised – EVER. Amid a pandemic? Yes, that IS very concerning.

What explanation was given by Council and Mayor Donchez for not finding another solution? (Perhaps I did not attend enough to gather that answer.)

Would you say it was a lack of vision and leadership? Failure to apply sufficiently for grants (an area of your apparent expertise), as, Mr. Grubb, you implied at the Church of the Manger forum? And/or was it a lack of compassion – all the way around, including at the State and Federal levels?

But, what did YOU propose to solve the revenue shortfall, Mr. Grubb? Did you come forward at the time and share your wisdom? Or, what do you have to say NOW about what should have been the solution then?  (Grants, cutting personnel AND expanding the tax base?) I hear you criticizing, but WHERE WAS YOUR LEADERSHIP?  Then again, I only occasionally attend Council meetings.  (Having that experience, I think I can accurately state that most residents do not attend at all.)

I did attend the Church of the Manger event Monday. Based on your statements there, should it be assumed that you, Mr. Grubb, would have already acquired the millions in grants to weather this current terrible storm, or would you have re-organized City Hall AND cut more staffing – that Mr. Reynolds suggests is already at an all-time low?

And speaking of “storms”– sort of, was Climate Change – and other/related anthropogenic disasters such as the current mass extinction – not important enough to make the mailer? Improving parks has made it to the top of your list, but what about the current and predicted impacts of environmental inequities on poor and minority communities/residents? Have you really addressed this? Do I digress?

Back to Mr. Reynolds. Unhappily, I am very familiar with the avoidance of answering questions over the past year by Council – including mayoral candidate Mr. Reynolds — and current Mayor Donchez.

I asked council (and the Mayor) multiple times during meetings since last summer and via email why they were failing to hold EVEN ONE MINUTE of discussion on the topic of reevaluating the police budget, an issue critical to many residents.  Doing so then was – and STILL IS NOW – their responsibility to the residents!

When Mr. Reynolds agreed to discuss this question with me after the Church of the Manger event he said the reason it wasn’t discussed by council or the Mayor was because . . . no one wanted to discuss it. City Council and Mayor Donchez, according to Mr. Reynolds, did not WANT to discuss this significant demand made by much of the public.  (Mr. Reynolds, you still have not explained why you never responded to my question and emails.)

I reminded Mr. Reynolds then – as I do readers, now – that “Accountability” and “Advocacy” on behalf of ALL residents, an “Open Bethlehem,” and a “Responsive City Government” are the highlights of his mayoral platform on the web.

So, the public’s demand for budget reevaluation – and my inquiries/correspondences about simply discussing the demands of so many residents – REMAIN unmet and unanswered, MONTHS later!

Council and the Mayor failed to advocate for MUCH of the public on this issue, but not for ALL of the public.

Some residents (lead by the Bethlehem “Good” Neighbors Alliance) berated any councilperson as a “radical leftist” and as literally wanting to overthrow the government for even considering doing their job of discussing the police budget.

The result?  Council – and our Mayor – failed to hold ANY discussion, yielding to threatening and fear-mongering of one loud minority.  NOT ONE motion to discuss was made in council.

In retrospect, after the Jan 6 attack on the US Capital, perhaps they felt legitimate fear.

Nonetheless, the problem seems to be that we have skilled politicians when we need more leadership.

Shouldn’t leaders, when elected, represent ALL and hold the difficult discussions, ESPECIALLY with those who voted against them or who disapproved of their actions? And, as human beings, acknowledge their mistakes? Even as late as now? (Or explain why it wasn’t a mistake?)

Is a politician one who avoids difficult situations and represents those who did – or would – give them their vote, and calls it leadership? And, once elected, is staying elected the goal?  (I think I am channeling Mr. Grubb.) This IS a legitimate concern.

Are my complaints “sour grapes”?  Well, these grapes are bitter at the lack of representation that occurred – and continues, but also for the apparent lack of courage and Leadership that remains.

And then a campaign taking money from developers? Has “Even the appearance of impropriety” gone out the window?  This is clearly a conflict of interest.

And, that ethics ordinance? Delayed? Forgotten? Or buried?  Is that an example of advocating for residents?  Is it not apparent after the last year – four years? – that it is critical?

I repeatedly remind myself of the service given by those in leadership positions, certainly by both of these men. We are all flawed. Mr. Grubb has explained his role in the fight that lead to his forced retirement. He’s owned that – not run from it, and I believe that reflects character. The lack of representation described above, and its continued avoidance are disqualifying to me. I NEED to hear publicly – all of our Bethlehem family deserves to hear – that that has been acknowledged AND DISCUSSED publicly, in order to continue considering Willie Reynolds as a candidate.

Mr. Reynolds, you are still somewhat unknown to me. I spoke to you after the Church of the Manger Forum and shared my concerns in person and honestly – after the many digital attempts. Answer ALL of your constituents’ concerns, as a councilperson.  You, like the current Mayor, work for each of them.

Mr. Grubb, you are largely unknown to me. As one asking to lead, you have not addressed – certainly not with clarity and depth – a number of the above issues.

Truly,

Greg Zahm

Hopeful Human, Advocate for All Species, Teacher, Parent, Husband, Brother, Son (of a Native Son), AND one who aspires to leaving a place better than he finds it (thanks first to my childhood baseball coaches Mr. D. Horst and Mr. B. Kresge)

The Mayoral candidates April 6 at LV4All: question to Grubb on the City Hall fight

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

“Dana, according to the Morning Call, you had a disagreement with a female City employee and started a fight in City Hall that led to a firing. Can you discuss this incident and what transpired thereof?”

  • First of all, I didn’t have a disagreement with a female employee.
  • In 2003 I received a report that a co-worker was accepting bribes.
  • I reported it immediately to Human Resources and the City Solicitor.
  • A criminal investigation was begun, and on the advice of the outgoing City Solicitor, I followed through with incoming Mayor’s administration.
  • Nothing happened.
  • However, I felt it was important to protect Bethlehem residents from this kind of conduct.
  • Later in 2004 this employee and I we did get into a confrontation one morning, and he came across the room and got in my face.
  • Concerned about escalation, I attempted to move him out of my space, and he punched me in the face, fracturing my nose.
  • I did not retaliate, and it was over with probably in 15-20 seconds.
  • We were both charged with disorderly conduct.
  • The magistrate dismissed the charges.
  • However, we were both held accountable for our actions.
  • We both retired.
  • And, quite frankly, after I retired, The FBI actually came to me to act as an informant about ongoing conduct in City Hall.
  • So, I stood up for what I believed in.
  • Unfortunately, it didn’t end well for me or the other employee.
  • But I never hit him.

Good fences make . . .

“Good fences make good neighbors”

Gadfly spent the afternoon weeding, cutting, digging, sweating, wheezing, muttering. His postage stamp-sized yard has the misfortune to be flanked by neighbors who don’t weed. Weeds do not respect our fences. They feed on them. Sigh. Gadfly is Mr. Frost’s “old-stone savage.” He “walks the line” alone.

Did anything happen while he was away from his gadfly post?

Mending Wall

By Robert Frost
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’

Voting: the ballot questions

“Our democracy is only as strong as our will to be involved.”

Alison Steele is a Liberty High School alum who traveled the world looking for adventure and purpose before finding it in Pittsburgh.  She has made it her mission to help others make more informed decisions around how they interact with people and the planet. She publishes the Radical Moderate blog that Gadfly has often recommended to you.

The Gadfly household mail-in ballots arrived yesterday. Gadfly’s giving himself 10-14 days to think about his choices. He hopes you are loading up on info about the candidates like he is.

But here Alison takes on the question of the ballot questions, which, she reminds us, even independents can vote on in the primary.

Thank you, Alison. Gadfly must admit that he usually never gives such questions much thought, or does so only when it is very late in the game — like when he’s in the polling booth!

May 2021 Election Guide — Pa Primaries, Part 1

Ballot Question 1: Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Article III, Section 9

This question deals with the termination or extension of disaster emergency declarations and stems from the conflict between Governor Wolf and the state legislature this past year regarding COVID-19 emergency declarations (e.g. stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, etc.). The amendment would change existing law to give the General Assembly the power to terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration made by the governor through a simple majority vote. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

Ballot Question 2: Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Article IV

This question deals with disaster emergency declaration and management, and it also stems from the conflicts between Governor Wolf and the state legislature over the COVID-19 response. This amendment would change the length of a disaster emergency declaration so it would expire after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency. After the declaration has expired, the governor would not be able to declare a new disaster emergency unless the General Assembly passed a resolution allowing him to. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

May 2021 Election Guide — PA Primaries, Part 2

Ballot Question 3: Proposed Constitutional Amendment – Article I

This question deals with equality of rights based on race and ethnicity, and it was introduced in the wake of the instances of police brutality and resulting protests in 2020. The Pennsylvania constitution and federal laws currently provide broad protections against discrimination “against any person in exercise of any civil right.” This proposed amendment specifically focuses on protecting individuals from racial and ethnic discrimination by Pennsylvania governmental entities and solely on the basis of race and ethnicity. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

Ballot Question 4: Statewide Referendum – Act 2020-91

This question is not a constitutional amendment, but a statewide referendum, and it deals with making municipal fire and emergency medical services companies eligible for loans. It was introduced because the General Assembly determined there was a need for these emergency responder companies to update their facilities and equipment. At the moment, only volunteer fire and EMS companies are authorized to apply for loans from this program. . . .

continue on Alison’s blog . . .

Cops and kids

Latest in a series of posts about the Bethlehem Police

Chief Kott has been a strong articulator of more community involvement by the police. Gadfly learned by chance that she instituted a “Neighborhood Outreach Initiative” about two weeks ago. I hope we can hear more about that — perhaps at next week’s City Council meeting?

Speaking of new construction!

Latest in a series of posts on new development

photo Sara Satullo

Yet more apartments! Zoning approved this project catercorner from the post office and across from Moravian Village.

selections from Sara K. Satullo, “116 apartments pitched in former Laros silk mill in Bethlehem.” lehighvalleylive.com, April 6, 2021.

A developer wants to convert two floors of a former Bethlehem silk mill into 116 apartments.

Dubbed the Laros Lofts in submissions in to the city, VM Development Group is pitching a mixed-use redevelopment of the Laros Silk Mill, 601-699 E. Broad St., which currently houses Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School and other commercial tenants.

The Easton-based developer plans to keep the charter school and first floor tenants, and add 59 apartments on the second floor, 57 on the third and a rooftop terrace. The conversion of the third floor is already approved and expected to be completed in July, along with an exterior facelift and historic window restoration.

VM Development is seeking city zoning variances to convert the second floor commercial space into the 59 apartments, bringing it to 116 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 555-square-feet to 1,594-square feet. Plans call for extending elevator access to the roof and creating a rooftop deck.City zoning does not allow that many apartments of that size.

Candidate Grubb critics don’t respond to the facts

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past and current director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

ref: Hardball

Dear Gadfly,

Thanks for posting the responses of Willie Reynolds and other city councilmembers to Dana Grubb’s mailer. It’s interesting that none of them respond to the facts on the mailer but instead come close to making ad hominem attacks. Even the comment by the usually fair-minded Dr. Wirt is devoid of substantive content. She seems to be suggesting Mr. Grubb’s proposals are somehow backward looking, but I’d certainly be willing to argue with her about the accuracy of that description. Mr. Grubb does tend to focus more on what can be done immediately, in contrast to Willie Reynolds’ fantastical imagining of what our city can be at some far point in the future. It’s good to know where you are going, but I trust Grubb’s practical mindedness and capacity to listen to good ideas to get us there faster. Mr. Reynolds has often shown disdain for and a lack of follow through on many good ideas. After torpedoing the ethics ordinance that councilmembers Negron and Colon put forward, he never delivered on his publicly proclaimed intention to put through smaller substantive pieces of the ordinance; I would hardly call the ethics training and gifts ban that Councilmen Martell and Callahan put through substantive commitments to ethics. And that is just one instance where he did not deliver.**  Many of us are hoping he’s stopped taking such large donations from developers.*** It would seem politically stupid to continue accepting donations from developers after he voted in favor of the Martin Tower rezoning, despite citizens’ requests for recusal based on the hefty donations he had already accepted from the property owners.

The most troubling response among those you posted is from Grace Crampsie Smith, who goes as far as to call Mr. Grubb malevolent for stating facts about Mr. Reynolds’ record. By definition, this means she thinks Mr. Grubb wants to do evil to others. Well, she fits in perfectly with the kind of politics we have in Bethlehem. Those who disagree with the decisions of people in power – in this case, by simply stating facts about a public official’s record – frequently get called “divisive” and “negative,” and now I guess those people are evil as well. It’s a well-honed strategy to silence dissent and speaks volumes to precisely the kind of candidate that Mr. Reynolds is. Rather than defend his decisions, he proclaims himself the victim of negative campaigning, tries to say the presentation of facts about his record (some of which are relevant to decisions made before councilwomen Crampsie Smith and Van Wirt were even on Council) are an attack on all of Council, and does not bother to explain any single fact presented on the mailer. This is the go-to response of Mr. Reynolds: criticize those who disagree and mobilize your allies to help silence them. It saddens me that citizens have only two choices where his campaign is concerned. We can either agree that Mr. Reynolds’ lofty hopes and dreams for Bethlehem are enough to make him our choice for mayor, or shut-up and go away. And for the record, I do agree with Mr. Reynolds’ hopes and dreams—who wouldn’t want the city he talks about? Unfortunately, after watching him operate for ten years, I just don’t think he has either the capacity or commitment to get us there.

He is right about one thing, which is that nothing will change the “vision, passion, and enthusiasm” of his campaign. They are literally drowning in it. Those of us who are not, however, would like to see some concrete discussion of how he’s going to achieve his vision in a way that involves something besides bringing people together and creating new positions at City Hall. For instance, there is the small matter of managing the day-to-day work of the City. But first, of course, all those people who think he is being victimized by his opponent delivering facts about his record need to send more money to his campaign. I guess the endorsements of the entire democratic establishment that controls Bethlehem politics are not enough? All the money he’s stockpiled from developers over the years is not enough?*** No, now that someone is talking about his actual record, people need to send him more money. Or maybe he’s already worried about raising money for his next political ambition?

Sincerely,

Breena

————

** Candidates Reynolds and Grubb were asked a question about the ethics ordinance at the Lehigh Valley for All candidate event, and the interchange is in the Gadfly’s queue for posting in the near future. Followers can see the substantial discussion of the ethics ordinance at the May 2, 2017, City Council meeting here.

*** The candidate Reynolds financial disclosure for this campaign will probably be posted here in the first week of May. Followers can see his past disclosures there as well. The candidates did have an exchange about campaign contributions that Gadfly can’t put his finger on at the moment but will search for and post.

More voting info

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

Caution: Gadfly asks you to take note. The Gadflys did “mail-in” voting in November. And signed up to do so henceforth. About a month ago he received a letter from the local elections folk. Gadfly glanced at it quickly, noting a section at the bottom to fill out if he did not want to do mail-in again this time.

Gadfly saw the letter as an opportunity to bail out if he wanted.

Wanting to mail-in again, however, Gadfly put the letter aside to throw out.

Oops, he picked the letter up again just now and read it more thoroughly.

Sure, I could fill out the bottom of the front page of the letter and return it if I wanted to change my status and do in-person voting.

But I had to fill out the back of the form and return it if I wanted to remain “mail-in.”

I hadn’t noticed that. Careful you won’t make the same mistake.

By the way, we’ll be getting those mail-in ballots soon.

Are you giving all the candidates a chance?

from City Councilman Michael Colón
April 18
 
Last year we had record turnout for the presidential election but are you ready to vote in your local primary a month from today? Here in Bethlehem the May 18 primary will very likely decide our next mayor and also elect four city council persons. My name isn’t on a ballot but my first election was decided by a 17 vote margin in case you don’t think your vote matters. Below are some useful links:

Register to vote *May 3 deadline*
https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/…/VoterRegistrationA…

Request a mail-in ballot *Request by May 11*
https://www.votespa.com/…/Mail-and-Absentee-Ballot.aspx

Check your voter registration status
https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/…/voterregistrations…

Northampton County Elections Office – 610-829-6260
Lehigh County Elections Office – 610-782-3194

Every town needs a Gadfly

“Every town needs a Gadfly.”

It’s official.

Gadfly #OO gave 30 days notice today.

Moving out May 19, the day after the primary election.

Voting is the essence of democracy.

Been spending a lot of time supporting all the candidates.

Will continue to do so. God love ’em all for stepping up. For the courage to enter the “arena.”

One of the Gadfly missions has been to help people to be the best informed voters they can be.

Hoping for great public participation May 18.

May 19 will be closure.

Three years. 3000 posts.

A time to walk away.

But every town needs a Gadfly.

I hope someone(s) will take over the role, either with this blog or a new one.

This one is available. Gadfly will continue to fund the WordPress platform for a year or two or three as incentive.

Someone(s) can step in without missing a beat.

I have never really thought of this as “my” blog.

The “Bethlehem Gadfly” is an attitude not a person.

It’s a fair, loving, nonpartisan (as much as humanly possible in this fallen world) eye and voice on “City Hall.”

(or should be)

It’s institutional memory.

It’s a channel through which thoughtful resident voices can be heard, amplified, and archived.

Every town needs a Gadfly.

Don’t let Gadfly headquarters go dark May 19.

Past time for the City to have “The Talk”

Latest in a series of posts in the wake of the George Floyd murder

“Should police be the ones responding when someone is mentally ill?”

We’re familiar with the phenomenon of “The Talk” that Black parents must have with their children at a certain age.

Gadfly’s been hoping that we as a City would have “the talk” with and about the police department as part of the national reckoning with race in the wake of the George Floyd murder and, without implying anything sinister about our police department, national conversations about reimagining how we do public safety.

Gadfly wonders, for instance, what happened to the part of the July 2020 City Council resolution to engage with the research on local police by Holona Ochs of Lehigh University and her team.

And Gadfly is still stirred by Anna Smith’s call to action at that time: “we are at an important moment in our community’s history, and we have an opportunity to do something truly momentous.”

Lehigh Valley Stands Up

selections from Farnoush Amiri (AP), “States seek more mental health training for police.” Morning Call, April 5, 2021.

The officer who Cassandra Quinto-Collins says kneeled on her son’s neck for over four minutes assured her it was standard protocol for sedating a person experiencing a mental breakdown.

“I was there watching it the whole time,” Quinto-Collins told The Associated Press. “I just trusted that they knew what they were doing.”

Angelo Quinto’s sister had called 911 for help calming him down during an episode of paranoia on Dec. 23. His family says Quinto didn’t resist the Antioch, California, officers — one who pushed his knee on the back of his neck, and another who restrained his legs — and the only noise he made was when he twice cried out, “Please don’t kill me.”

The officers replied, “We’re not going to kill you,” the family said. Police deny putting pressure on his neck. Three days later, the 30-year-old Navy veteran and Filipino immigrant died at a hospital.

It is the latest stark example of the perils of policing people with mental health issues. In response to several high-profile deaths of people with mental health issues in police custody, lawmakers in at least eight states are introducing legislation to change how law enforcement agencies respond to those in crisis.

The proposals lean heavily on additional training for officers on how to interact with people with mental health problems. It’s a common response when lawmakers face widespread outcry over police brutality like the U.S. saw last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But none of the proposals appear to address the root question: Should police be the ones responding when someone is mentally ill?

In California, lawmakers introduced legislation on Feb. 11 that, among other things, would require prospective officers to complete college courses that address mental health, social services and psychology, without requiring a degree.

In New York, lawmakers in January proposed an effort to require law enforcement to complete a minimum of 32 credit hours of training that would include techniques on de-escalation and interacting with people who have mental health issues.

“The training that police have received for the past I’d say 25 years has not changed significantly, and it’s out of date, and it doesn’t meet today’s realities,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based think tank. “I mean the last thing a mother wants when they call the police is for an officer to use force. Especially in a situation that didn’t call for it because the officers weren’t trained in how to recognize a crisis.”

The Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit dedicated to getting treatment for the mentally ill, concluded in a 2015 report those with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than others.

“The solution that would have the most impact on the problem is to prevent people with mental illness from encountering law enforcement in the first place,” said Elizabeth Sinclair Hancq, co-author of the report.

Since that is not always possible, she said, another solution is to create co-responder programs where a social worker or other mental health professional assists officers on such calls.

For families of victims, who now say they regret calling 911 for help, required training and legislative reform are long overdue.

“In retrospect, it wasn’t the smartest idea to call the police,” said Isabella Collins, the 18-year-old sister of Quinto, who died in California. “But I just wanted him to be able to calm down, and I thought that they could help with that.”

Antioch police didn’t release details of Quinto’s death for more than a month. Police Chief Tammany Brooks has denied that officers used a knee or anything else to put pressure on Quinto’s head, neck or throat. An investigation and autopsy are underway.

Quinto’s family filed a wrongful-death claim against the city in February, claiming he “died as a direct consequence of the unreasonable force used against him.”

“I guess it was really naive of me to think that he wouldn’t get hurt,” Collins said.

Get ready for some nasty numbers

Latest post in a series on Affordable Housing

“43% of Bethlehem households are cost-burdened. That’s a staggering percentage.”
Tina Roseberry

ref: Crampsie Smith Affordable Housing Task Force advances
ref: Affordable Housing has momentum

What data about Bethlehem reside in your data banks?

What statistics do you know that help us understand the kind of city that we are?

Let’s see . . . population c. 75,000 . . . POC c. 40% . . . budget c. $87m . . . hmm, I’m not getting much further than that.

Well, Gadfly found the numbers laid out by the City at the affordable housing discussion by the Community Development Committee on Tuesday really quite revealing, kind of riveting actually.

If he understands correctly, for instance, 887 apartment units were approved by the planning commission through the land development process between 2014 and 2020, and none were classed “affordable.”

Listen to the City’s Tina Roseberry expand on the following slides.

  • about 1/4 of our residents earn less than $25,000/yr.
  • about 11% live at or below poverty
  • 43% of households are “cost burdened” (rent/mortgage + utilities exceeds 30% of income): a “staggering” number

  • housing cost has gone up 4% in 5 years
  • rents have increased 18% in 5 years

These are some nasty numbers.

Online mayoral forum in Allentown . . . hint, hint

Latest in a series of posts on the Gadfly Forum

Lookie  here!

Now there are, Gadfly thinks, 5 candidates for mayor in Allentown. More than us.

And the topic of this forum is important but narrow: “to learn where candidates running for Allentown mayor stand on issues relevant to the LGBTQ community.”

Are we to have no online face-to-face forums for all candidates in Bethlehem?

The “print” candidates Forums that Gadfly is running here (tune in at noon to see if Council candidates respond to a prompt on development) are good, he says with a smile, but how can primary season be complete without one or more events that bring all the candidates together “live”?

Candidates Reynolds and Callahan, and, perhaps to a slightly lesser extent, Crampsie Smith are “known quantities.”

For good or for ill, Reynolds and Callahan seem like they have been around forever. Many people may have already categorized them.

But, granted he has “history” in Bethlehem government, how many people really know Dana Grubb as a potential mayor? He’s been out of the “public eye.”

In the Council cadre, Gadfly’s sense is that candidates Wilhelm and Kwiatek, though perhaps not active or all that active politically, have a potential base of followers. But how about Leon? Gadfly hopes not to offend if he says that his sense is that she is the most “unknown quantity.” Yet he has talked with her, and there is a lot to her.

It looks like many people will never have the opportunity to hear the voices of Grubb, Wilhelm, Kwiatek, and Leon.

That’s not right.

How can we have a complete campaign season without bringing all the candidates together to strut their stuff in front of us?

Where are the organizations we should depend on to put on these events?

And, for proper time allotment, we should have 2 separate events, right?

Is there a feeling that the election is not important? Or that the conclusion is foregone? Tsk, tsk.

Is Gadfly going to have to do this in between naps at his headquarters in Senior Day Care?

This shy man who was labeled “Edward Scholarhands” by his IT Department.

It won’t be pretty.

Reimagining the Gadfly

Following up last post.

Good time to remind that this gadfly folds wings May 19, the day after the election.

Three years. Term limits good. Time for new ideas.

Part of the reason he started had to do with the declining state of mainstream journalism.

And the ascending need for citizen journalism.

Every town needs a gadfly.

This gadfly hopes the project will continue.

Will some one take over? In fact, it could be more than one person. The Gadfly need not be the work of one person.

‘Tis time to think about new approaches, formats, goals.

Incentive: will continue to fund the WordPress platform for a year or two.

Contact: ejg1@lehigh.edu

Please urge City action to replace Ahart’s!

The latest in a series of posts on the Southside

ref: “It’s a South Side thing. Everyone goes here,” but Ahart’s is closing –it’s time to act

There will be a resolution at City Council tonight urging City action on retaining a grocery store on the Southside now that Ahart’s has announced its closing.

Gadfly urges you to sign this letter to the Mayor and Council now, before tonight’s meeting, to show our strong support.

Please realize that this is not just a “Southside thing.” We are one city and must support all neighborhoods.

We will all have issues about which we will depend on whole city concern and support.

Sign letter here

———–

To: Bethlehem City Government: Secure a new grocery store for Southside Bethlehem

Mayor Donchez and Members of Bethlehem City Council:

We ask that you take swift action to secure a new grocery store for the western end of South Bethlehem at the current location of Ahart’s Market.

The impending closure of Ahart’s Market will impact thousands of South Bethlehem and Fountain Hill residents who depend on this store as their only source for a wide variety of fresh, healthy foods and other essentials within walking distance of their homes.

According to Census data, 25% of Southside residents currently live within a half-mile of Ahart’s Market and live further than a half-mile from C-Town Supermarket. As of April 30, these residents will lose walkable access to a neighborhood grocery store and will be forced to travel outside their neighborhood to shop for food and other necessities. 19% of these residents lack access to a car, and 25% of these residents live below the poverty line. In addition to the residents of south Bethlehem, Ahart’s Market also serves thousands of Lehigh University students who live on Lehigh’s campus and in the surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom do not have access to cars.

Unlike many predominantly low-income neighborhoods throughout our country, south Bethlehem has historically benefitted from access to affordable, healthy food thanks to direct action by our City government to secure quality supermarkets to serve our community. The announcement of Ahart’s closure threatens to put the quality of life in our neighborhoods at risk and place an unfair burden on our community.

We ask that you take immediate action to recruit a new grocery store for the location at 410 Montclair Avenue, and as former Mayor Don Cunningham did in 2001, offer all economic incentives at your disposal to ensure that Southside residents have access to fresh, quality, affordable food within walking distance of their homes.

Sign letter here