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

Seeking info on Monocacy bridge at Bella Vista Dr.

Gadfly:

Just discovered your site. The bridge spanning Monacacy Creek at Bella Vista Dr (next to Scholls produce stand) is soon to be closed to vehicles. It’s more than 100 years old, and its concrete abutments are in excellent condition. It will make a great addition to the trail system along the creek, as it has been used by bikers and walkers for generations. It needs to be certified as sound for pedestrians. Maybe needs some strengthening. Definitely needs some railings for safety. Possible historical significance as a crossing dating back to George Washington.

Any advice/guidance would be appreciated. Thanks.

Don Miller

Can any followers weigh in on Don’s post?

George Washington – the “Moral” Man

Marking Presidents’ Day

Alan Lowcher, Esq. concentrates on real estate and land use law, speaks on the life of Abraham Lincoln, presents history-themed “lessons for lawyers” through the NJ Bar Association, and is a member of several associations promoting a deeper understanding of American history.

George Washington – the “Moral” Man

By Alan Y. Lowcher

George Washington – the marble man – “First in War!  First in Peace!  First in the Hearts of his Countrymen!” But he did not start out that way.

Young, ambitious, a man of strong passions, Washington sought recognition and social status which at that time was measured either by wealth or military rank and “glory.”  Washington was not wealthy (until he married Martha) measured by the standard of the Fairfaxes, and in the eyes of the British officer ranks, he was merely a “provincial.”  But he was personally courageous and decisive.  He inspired trust in his leadership ability by keeping a cool head when things went badly, such as at Fort Necessity and Braddock’s ill-fated march on Fort Duquesne very early in his military career during what we know as the French and Indian War. He was under fire in both engagements, and though men around him fell, he was unscathed. Moreover, although both actions were failures, no personal blame fell to Washington. Historian Joseph Ellis, in his Washington biography, His Excellency, wrote that Washington had a sheer knack for survival and found that if he survived, he would succeed.

This character trait would serve him well twenty years later.

The young Washington recognized his “faults” — among them his strong temper and his love of honor and regard that led him to take offense at what he perceived were personal insults, believing himself the “better man” — and developed patterns of behavior rooted in self-control and personal probity that shaped his character. As he matured, he was increasingly viewed as a levelheaded leader in Virginia politics. His election to represent Virginia at the first Continental Congress was his introduction to delegates from the other colonies, particularly the New England contingent led by Massachusetts. It was John Adams who proposed the formation of a Continental Army with George Washington as commander.

But for all this “restraint,” Washington was willing to take risks for a cause that he believed in.  For him and for his brethren “Founding Fathers,” that cause was the American Revolution.

At the War’s end, Washington took his final leave from his fellow officers in 1783 and “retired” from public life to Mt. Vernon. His retirement was short lived. He served as President of the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 and, with the ratification of the Constitution, he answered the call of his country and served as President for two terms, both times elected unanimously by the Electoral College. In public life – during the War and as President – Washington was well aware that history was being made and that he was the one making it. He acutely avoided the appearance of impropriety, for example, refusing a salary as Commander in Chief. In private life, he was also “sensible” about how an action might appear to others, for example, refusing payment in shares of stock in the Potomac Company that proposed to improve navigation of the upper Potomac River (which would have benefited Washington by virtue of his extensive landholdings in what was then the frontier west of the border colonies) for services rendered.

Two blemishes on Washington’s carefully cultivated character were his appetite for land and slave holding  Yet, he alone among his slave holding contemporaries eventually emancipated his slaves through his Last Will and Testament. He was a man of his times, and no one is perfect – not even Washington.

It was altogether fitting and proper that after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, a well-known carte-de-visite memorial card showing George Washington welcoming Lincoln into heaven with a laurel wreath was widely circulated. There is a shaft of light above the Presidents’ heads with angels visible inside. The caption reads: “Apotheosis of Washington & Lincoln.”

Abraham Lincoln and Our “Unfinished Work”

Marking Presidents’ Day weekend

Alan Lowcher, Esq. concentrates on real estate and land use law, speaks on the life of Abraham Lincoln, presents history-themed “lessons for lawyers” through the NJ Bar Association, and is a member of several associations promoting a deeper understanding of American history.

Abraham Lincoln and Our “Unfinished Work”

By Alan Y. Lowcher

A few years ago, I was a panelist in “Abraham Lincoln: 15 Captivating Stories from His Law Practice” with Glenn LeBoeuf at the New Jersey Bar Association Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program. In order for the lawyers to get CLE credit, a lawyer needed to be a panelist. I was Glenn’s “second chair” and tied in Glenn’s anecdotes and what Lincoln said about the practice of law (“Notes on a Law Lecture,” variously 1850-1858) to the Rules of Professional Conduct governing the modern practice of law. The room was packed with lawyers, as were the rooms where the program was simulcast. Given the attention paid to the presentation, the questions raised by the audience, and the people who came up to the panelists, it was obvious that the lawyers were there not so much for the credit as they were to hear about Lincoln, especially Lincoln the lawyer. It is natural for lawyers to claim Lincoln for themselves: he was one of us. And yet 25 of the 46 presidents have studied or practiced law. What makes Lincoln the standout?  Why are there hundreds of statues and memorials to Lincoln in this country, as well as in several countries around the world? Why are dozens of new books written about him annually to add to the estimated 16,000 published titles on Lincoln? Why has Lincoln remained so popular?

Historians and Polls

Numerous polls taken over the last 65 years consistently rank Abraham Lincoln in the top three of US Presidents along with George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Most of the polls are conducted among historians who rate the presidents on a number of categories (leadership, accomplishments and crisis management, political skill, character, integrity, etc.).  Lincoln achieved an overall rating of Number One. But it is not just historians. Among those who identify themselves as liberal or conservative, Lincoln again is Number One. John Q. Public, responding to a C-Span presidential leadership survey in 1999 rated Lincoln as Number One, as did surveys conducted by ABC and Washington College. When all the poll results are considered, more than 80% of Americans give a favorable rating to Lincoln. He was surpassed only by George Washington in the hearts and minds of Americans. Lincoln often harkened back the Founders in his writings and speeches. I don’t think he would mind at all taking second place behind George Washington.

Lincoln’s Enduring Popularity, Relevance, and Our “Unfinished Work” 

Writing on the occasion of the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, James McPherson pondered the “Why” question of Lincoln’s enduring popularity and ranking by historians as our greatest president. He posited several answers:

  • Lincoln took office facing the greatest crisis of any President: a nation divided and soon to be engaged in a civil war “testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.”  His leadership and single-minded determination to assure the survival of the “experiment” that began in 1776 ensured that that nation would live.
  • Lincoln’s essentially military action authorizing the seizure of enemy property — slaves — used in the Confederate war effort, thereby depriving the South of the manpower it needed to sustain the war, brought the power of the Federal government to bear to attack the “monstrous injustice of slavery.”  These efforts, culminating in the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the 13th Amendment in 1865, assured Lincoln’s place in history.
  • Lincoln the “westerner,” who grew up in a log cabin, split rails, piloted a flatboat on the Mississippi, was a store keeper and postmaster, read the law, became a successful trial attorney, one term Congressman and then President, epitomized the uniquely American belief that if you worked hard, you could go as far as your energy, intelligence, and talents could take you. This opportunity for self-improvement was Lincoln’s definition of equality, which is also why, in addition to his moral aversion to the institution, he opposed slavery. Slavery was the antithesis of this definition of “equality.”
  • And, of course, Lincoln was a superb craftsman of the written word.  As a lawyer, he wrote concisely and with persuasion. As President, McPherson observed that “Lincoln had the unique ability to write for both the eye and the ear.”

. . . the closing lines of his first inaugural address

. . . the opening lines of the Gettysburg Address

. . . his second inaugural address

McPherson was surely right when he said “[e]ven if his deeds were to be forgotten, his words will live as long as there is a United States.”

  • And, finally, Lincoln’s violent death when he should have savored the fruits of victory assured the martyred president immortality.

And, so, we remember Abraham Lincoln on this Presidents’ Day weekend. For us, and for historians, Lincoln matters. He guided the country through the crucible of civil war, and we emerged a stronger, although still not perfect, nation. His leadership skills, determination, ability to compromise, fundamental fairness, and integrity are worthy of study and emulation by today’s politicians and leaders of all stripes. There is something there for “average Americans” too in Lincoln’s words that should inspire us to be “governed by the better angels of our nature.” Lincoln’s birthday, as with the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday, should be a time of reflection on what these men achieved – and imagining what they might have achieved had they lived a full life.

I urge the reader to consider spending a day at Gettysburg, the venue of what is perhaps Lincoln’s greatest speech. Make your way past the Pennsylvania Monument to the monument erected in memory of the officers and soldiers of the First New Jersey Brigade. Consider the following:

“. . . and when the First New Jersey’s Brigade monument was constructed . . . and dedicated . . . on the battlefield of Gettysburg in 1888 . . . in what likeness was the actual monument (the largest brigade monument on the battlefield) constructed ?”

A watch-tower.

A watch tower? Why that? Certainly the war was now long over in 1888 . . . and the veterans gathered there at the dedication . . . fewer in number . . . most in their 40s or 50s . . . had had their fill of war.

Why would they want future generations to gaze upon . . . and ponder . . . a “watch-tower”?

Because it is for “us the living” . . . to man the watch-towers now . . . light the watch fires . . . and to remind . . . instill . . . and teach generations to come of the sacrifices made by so many . . . over such a long time . . . to maintain . . . “a more perfect union.”

Lincoln’s legacy – and their legacy — should inspire each of us to redouble our efforts as Americans to keep history alive and relevant. This is our “unfinished work.”

“We seek harm to none and harmony for all”

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.”

Amanda Gorman was an Inauguration sensation with her poem “The Hill We Climb.”

Find information on her below provided by a member of a discussion list to which Gadfly belongs.

Some of his favorite lines in the poem are here. What are yours?

We are striving to forge our union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.

“The Hill We Climb”

The following information on Gorman provided by Abdul Alkalimat:

Now 22-years-old, West LA raised Gorman was named Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles at the age of 16. At 19, while in college at Harvard, she was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate.

The poem she read
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/20/amanda-gormans-inaugural-poem-the-hill-we-climb-full-text.html

The position of Youth Poet Laureate
https://www.youthlaureate.org/

Bio
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Gorman
https://www.lataco.com/meet-amanda-gorman-the-l-a-native-who-is-the-first-national-youth-poet-laureate/
https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/9/18/youth-poet/
https://tinyurl.com/y2e8u88u

Her website
https://www.theamandagorman.com/

Her inaugural reading
https://www.cnn.com/videos/style/2021/01/20/amanda-gorman-youth-poet-laureate-full-poem-biden-capitol-inauguration-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/cnn-style/

Interview
https://www.cnn.com/videos/style/2021/01/21/amanda-gorman-poet-laureate-interview-inauguration-vpx.cnn

Her poetry
https://poets.org/poem/place-american-lyric
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=amanda+gorman&i=stripbooks&crid=2I5C0SOWEZ64I&sprefix=aman%2Cstripbooks%2C190&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-a-p_2_4

Her other readings
https://youtu.be/zM4En012IJo
https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/10/youth-poet-laureate-amanda-gorman-delivers-poem-at-harvard-presidents-inauguration/
https://poets.org/teach-poem/amanda-gorman-library-congress

Oprah gave her earrings
https://people.com/style/oprah-gifts-symbolic-jewelry-to-inaguration-day-poet-amanda-gorman/

“But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
it can never be permanently defeated.”

Dana Grubb entering the mayoral race

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Lifelong City Resident and Former City Worker

To Announce Candidacy for Bethlehem Mayor

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

Lifelong Bethlehem resident and former City administrator Dana Grubb will announce his candidacy for the 2021 Mayoral Election on Wednesday, January 27. The announcement will be made at 11 am at the Steel Ice Center, 320 East First Street on the South Side. All persons at the event must be masked; social distancing will be required.

Grubb, who served as the city’s Grants Administrator and the Deputy Director of Community Development among other offices, will lay out the key tenets of his candidacy and reveal some of the principles by which he intends to govern. Not a career politician, and known for a principled work ethic, Grubb brings to his candidacy not only solid experience with the City’s governance but also a background as a small business owner and a journalist. Most of all, he brings his deep and abiding love of the city, and a genuine desire to make it a better place.

Press Contact: Deb Courville 570-996-7534 (SMS & voice)/debcourville@gmail.com

Gadfly gadabouts

“The sky’s the limit”
Councilman Reynolds

Gadfly was steppin’ out last night.

There he is in full COVID beard and fresh t-shirt in the company of (with 40-some others) the likes of Mayor Donchez, President Grigsby, Superintendent Roy, and Representative Samuelson.

Heavy hitters.

What do you suppose the occasion was?

“The sky’s the limit,” Councilman Reynolds said, “especially with the enthusiasm and passion we have here.”

What do you suppose he was talking about?

Gadfly loves to tease.

to be continued . . .

My Bethlehem App Introduced

My Bethlehem PA App

Mayor Bob Donchez announced today the availability of the new My Bethlehem PA App. “The My Bethlehem PA App provides access to information regarding COVID-19, Lehigh County and Northampton County Crisis Intervention, Parking, the Bethlehem Service Center to register or report a problem and information for those visiting our wonderful City, to name a few,” Donchez said. All you need to do to download the app on your Apple or Android phone is go to the App Store, type in My Bethlehem PA, and download it. There is no fee to download the App.

Senator Boscola: funding for some City projects

“ArtsQuest cultural center, other Lehigh Valley redevelopment projects get big financial boost.” WFMZ, December 24, 2020

  • ArtsQuest Community Cultural Center II ($3.5 million): Project consists of the construction of a new 80,000-square-foot arts and cultural center at the site of the current Banana Factory Arts Center in Bethlehem
  • Goodman Building ($1 million): Alloy5 Architecture will be redeveloping the former Goodman Furniture building into a mix used project
  • Boyd Theater Redevelopment II ($250,000): A mixed use redevelopment of the former movie theater into ground floor retail and 120 one and two-bedroom apartments in Bethlehem’s central business district

My peace . . .

My peace I give to you.

Merry Christmas!

My Peace
Words by Woody Guthrie, Music by Arlo Guthrie

My peace my peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you
My peace is all I’ve ever had it’s all I ever knew
I give my peace to green and black to red and white and blue
My peace my peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you

My peace my peace is all I’ve got it’s all I’ve ever known
My peace is worth a thousand times more than anything I own
I pass my peace around and around ‘cross hands of every hue
My peace my peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you

After a night of kumbaya, “My Peace” has been the ol’ hippie’s signature closing.

Christmas with Touchstone

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Touchstone Theatre

Christmas City Follies XXI

Directed by: Jp Jordan

Performed by: the Touchstone Ensemble and friends


Premiering via YouTube watch party December 20 @7p
and available through January 2, 2021


Touchstone Theatre’s high-spirited, homegrown sendup of the Christmas season in the Christmas City goes online for 2020! For the last 20 years Christmas City Follies has been singing, dancing, laughing, and cartwheeling its way into the hearts of its audiences. This year, a streamed video edition of Follies – starring Touchstone favorites like the Old Guy, Little Red, the Better Not Shout Network, and the Shopping Cart Ballet, as well as a host of new material – will premiere on December 20th at 7p via a YouTube watch party and be available to watch, as many times as you want, in the comfort of your home through January 2nd.

TICKETS

Prices
$5/Reduced ticket**
$12/Individual
$35/Household

**Touchstone typically offers a Pay-What-You-Will ticket at the door and instead will offer a reduced $5 ticket this year.

This is a little confusing and different! We know, so much is this year. Basically, choose your adventure. Two people in your household? You could buy two Individual tickets or, if you want to support more, buy a Household ticket. Struggling this year? Get the Reduced ticket. We kindly ask people to refrain from sharing the link with folks who haven’t purchased. The best way to show your appreciation and keep Follies coming another year is by purchasing tickets.

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

“Touchstone Theatre is a Bethlehem Treasure”

Who can you trust anymore?

ref: Councilman Colon: a lot of fear but not a lot of understanding

Jim Friedman was born and raised in Bethlehem but now works in the Philadelphia news media. “I will always be from Bethlehem.”

Gadfly:

When local newsrooms can no longer afford to assign journalists to cover public meetings, this is the outcome. Residents read comments filled with a biased agenda on social media, and believe it, then share it.

Some rely on bloggers and citizen journalists, but the trust factor has disappeared.

Who can you trust anymore?

Can I believe you?

What’s your political affiliation, because that matters in your reporting.

Who owns your company?

How much did your corporation give to the GOP?

What’s your race? Religion? Favorite color? Animal?

It all matters when you can’t trust anyone.

Jim

An issue at the last City Council meeting and in the last series of posts is what Gadfly called the full-court press put on by the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance to stop City Council from defunding the police. The full-court press included radio, social media, a brochure, conversations, etc. The full-court press stirred a lot of panicky activity that turned out to be unnecessary, though LVGNA saw it as a victory. Jim raises the question of where you get your information these days and how reliable it is. He raises a subject always much on Gadfly’s mind. A lot happened in the City recently, but Gadfly isn’t sure any of it was really covered by the Morning Call. He used to be able to feed off an article by Nicole the morning after a Council meeting. But she’s gone. And — he may be wrong — but Christina Tatu, who took her place on our beat, seems to be absent recently, maybe only temporarily, too. I’ve been looking for articles by her on recent doings. Now maybe Sara at lehighvalleylive is covering us, but for some reason I can’t get into the habit of checking there. But the point is that though newspapers might have their slant, Gadfly is used to trusting them for basic info. But with the new economy in journalism, we aren’t getting that much of that kind of coverage, and people are left with social media like LVGNA’s facebook pages and your ol’ Gadfly. “Who can you trust anymore? Can I believe you?” Gadfly has tried to be a responsible citizen journalist, but “the trust factor has disappeared,” and his name has appeared in the same sentence with “bias” and “unbalanced.” So Gadfly would just like to say that he welcomes a slap upside the head and alternate views in a corrective and constructive mode.