Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LVS Interview with Popular/Visionary Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski

Recently, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski graciously agreed to an interview with LVS and we asked our readers to participate by posing questions. Here are the Mayor's responses to our questions ...

Anonymous said...
For Mayor Pawlowski Q/A: Based on studies that I'm sure have been conducted (and paid for) by the City, what is the number of police officers we should have in Allentown, compared to the number we actually have now, and when will these two numbers be the same? Thank you Mayor.

A. This is a good question. There is no one report which outlines how many officers should be on the force at a given time. I have seen cities with similar population sizes which have more police and greater crime and cities with smaller forces which have less crime. It all depends on how you deploy and manage the force. Currently we are implementing a community policing model which anticipates a force of 215 officers. Over the course of the last several years we have lost a large number of police due to early retirement. We have hired and trained 72 new officers over the course of the last three years and with the adoption of the new police contract we are no longer losing officers to retirement. Above and beyond replacing those officers which have retired, we have also added 19 new police positions to the budget over the past several years. City council recently approved four new police hires bring the total force complement to 202 with the remaining 13 positions to be filled hopefully by the end of 2009. This will bring our total police complement to 215, a number we have not seen in Allentown for many, many years.

Bill Villa said...
Mayor Pawlowski, Angie and I can't think of a bigger roadblock to Allentown fulfilling your reelection campaign slogan of "Moving Forward Together" than the bigotry, intolerance, xenophobia, and hatred that exists in too many peoples' hearts and minds around here. That these haters' vile bile is given an unbridled FORUM in our town's monopoly newspaper The Morning Call is, we believe, outrageous. Q. Would you join us in approaching The Morning Call and asking that they "do something" about the rampant racism and hatred that's currently allowed to flow freely on The Morning Call's website? And "something" might be something as simple as making "Registration Required" for commenting at The Forum-- a requirement that's already in place for The Morning Call's "Sounding Board" forum.

A. I completely agree that hateful, spiteful commentary has no place in our community and I have voiced my concerns to Morning Call publisher Tim Kennedy, Editorial Page Editor Glenn Kranzley and Editors Ardith Hillard and Dave Erdman numerous times on this issue. While readers deserve a voice, this type of commentary serves no constructive purpose and I do hope they change this platform to better reflect the true values of our community.

Anonymous said...
"Allentown has experienced a double-digit reduction in crime since Ed Pawlowski was elected Mayor," according to "FBI Statistics" cited in Mayor Pawlowski's reelection campaign brochure. Would the Mayor please give specifics on this reduction of crime, thank you.

A. According to FBI and Uniform Crime Report statistics, our crime-fighting efforts have been successful. We are already seeing results. Violent crime in Allentown, which includes the crimes of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault fell 18 percent! The number of property crimes, which includes burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson also fell 12 percent! This is the third year in a row that crime has decreased. We think the numbers bear out that the initiatives we have undertaken are taking a bite out of crime.

Anonymous said...
Mayor Pawlowski, you have been given much scrutiny and criticism in our local blogosphere (founded or unfounded I don't know) regarding the Allentown Brew Works and your "political relationship" with the owners of the Brew Works. In short, you are routinely accused of playing favorites with the Brew Works and that the Allentown Brew Works is the beneficiary of "special favors" no other businesses in Allentown are getting, to paraphrase the arguments. Please explain the City's side of the A-Town Brew Works story.

A. The Fegley family has a significant personal investment in the future of Allentown, and I am proud to help them succeed and grateful for their support of my efforts to revitalize our downtown. That said, there have been no “special favors” granted to the Brew Works or any other individual or business in the City of Allentown. I will work and do work with all individuals and businesses that bring such positive attitudes and attributes to our efforts. Not all have been successful, but we shall continue to seek out the enterprises and entrepreneurs that recognize the opportunities Allentown has to offer. And yes, I will continue to publically promote their investments whenever and wherever I can as a way of encouraging others to also invest in the city.

Anonymous said...
Can a well-paying job in your administration (say Director of Community & Economic Development at $87K) really be
"purchased" for as little as $1,150? If so, when and where can we meet, I have $2 grand I want to give you!

A. This is just a ridiculous and baseless question. Why some individuals resort to personal attacks and innuendo rather than seeking a constructive dialogue that will improve our city is beyond me.

Anonymous said...
Mr. Mayor, I love the "Landlord Hall of Shame" idea, as a way of preventing more Mark Mendelsons plaguing Allentown. As you may know, some people have been off put by this strategy. Care to explain and/or defend it?

A. The “Landlord Hall of Shame” is aimed at bringing attention to the worst landlords – and many are absentee landlords who do not even live in our city – in hopes of spurring them into positive action. I believe the program has made a tremendous positive impact. My administration will work conscientiously with any landlord who wants to make a positive contribution to the welfare of Allentown, and I welcome those property owners to our city.
As Mayor, there are times when have to make a decision or implement a program, that some (even if it is a small minority) will disagree with me. That’s fine. That is their right as citizens. But I will fight for the City of Allentown and its residents and property owners, and if I upset some people by doing that, I will accept that but my goal has been and will remain making Allentown a great place to live, work and invest.

Anonymous said...
I see in Ed Pawlowski's biograph that he was a community organizzer on Chicago's South Side. Question: did he ever cross paths with Barack Obama?

A. Unfortunately, no. But I am a strong supporter of our new president and I wish him the best as he tackles some very, very tough problems. I can empathize with President Obama, as I am sure you understand.

Jon said...
Not really a campaign issue Mr. Mayor but I must ask ... you're a drummer, so who are your favorite drummers who have influenced your playing?

A. I enjoy a variety of types and styles of music. Some of the drummers who have influenced me are Steve Gadd, Neil Pert, Steve Jordon, Denis Bradford, Stewart Copeland and Rod Morganstein to name a few.

Anonymous said...
The mayor is getting virtually crucified by some local bloggers on "systematic home inspections" that are connected to the city's weed and seed program. To hear these bloggers tell it, the mandatory home inspections are akin to being imprisoned without cause in a gulag in the old Soviet Union. I'd like to hear Mayor Pawlowski's side of this story...please. Thank you.

A. This program is nothing new, the systematic inspection process has been taking place in the city for many years. My goal is to create a city where everyone has a safe and healthy home.
Again, there are those who will disagree with whatever we do because they have their own personal axes to grind. Unfortunate, but it comes with the territory. We work hard to find common ground with everyone and we work hard to minimize any hardships placed upon our property owners but our goal and purpose is to create safe and healthy living environments for our communities to thrive and grow.


Anonymous said...
Was
this piece of "investigative journalism" really the "gotcha moment" local NeoCons giddily swore it was? What's YOUR explanation for this seeming mis-step, Mr. Mayor?

A. We followed the guidance of the Lehigh County Voter Registration office, but there was a misunderstanding and we corrected it as soon as it was brought to our attention. I suggest you contact the Voter Registration office for a more accurate recounting of the situation.

Anonymous said...
A new Polish Deli opened at 1425 Chew St. recently. It is a wonderful place and a great addition to the diversity of Allentown. The food and service are excellent. The same storefront has seen a number of small businesses try and fail in the past few years. Why does the City only seem to help, support and advertise businesses that open on Hamilton or 7th street? And as a follow up what help and support can City Hall provide for non Hamilton St./7th St. business?

A. It does my heart good whenever a new Polish deli opens in our city. I grew up in a Polish restaurant owned and operated by my parents. That said, we will support businesses throughout the city but it is critically important to revitalize our core Business District. Our overall success and the perception of our community health is tied to that area. There are several programs, though, that are open to all business owners and I encourage you to contact our Community and Economic Development Department and the Allentown Economic Development Corporation to learn more about these programs.

Mrs. Dottie said...
Dear Mr Mayor, as a former ASD teacher and a parent of an ASD student, I am concerned about the fact that too much of the crime in the city is committed by teenagers, some who are in gangs. One of my former students, Sondra Yohe, was shot and killed by kids, who were also former students of mine. I have read that it has been difficult for city council and ASD officials to schedule regular meetings. I believe it is very important for the ASD to communicate with the city in developing after school programs for at risk youth, and for addressing the gang problem. Has there been any improvement in this area? Also, I think outstanding students and teachers in the ASD should be publicly recognized by the city. Maybe this is already happening, but I have not read much about it in our newspaper. I am glad that the district has received more funding, and that new schools are being built, but I think more can be done, and that the public needs to hear about the good things happening in the ASD. What do you think? Thank you,Angie Villa

A. Angie, I could not agree with you more. That is why I and my administration have been working very closely with the Allentown School District for the past three years to find new and innovative ways to help our young people succeed. For instance, we instituted a summer reading program with the Library that gave a free pair of sneakers to every student who read a certain number of books. We have given free fire truck rides to students who read the prescribed number of books. Through our Weed and Seed initiative we have funded several after school programs for at risk youth and developed a new midnight basketball/mentoring program to keep kids off the streets and in productive activities and positive relationships. And I have personally lobbied – successfully – in Harrisburg to increase state funding for the Allentown School District, helping the district receive an additional $12.3 million last year – the second-highest increase in the state. We will continue to work with the district wherever possible. The school district has a ceremony to recognize outstanding teachers which I participate in on a yearly basis. My hat goes off to our outstanding teachers in ASD, they are doing a tremendous job.

jdg said...
Mr. Mayor, as you may know, shock value attention-seekers in our heavily NeoCon majority local blogosphere are routinely coming up with stuff like THIS that
makes yellow journalism seem credible by comparison. Our NeoCon Allentown Saboteurs make shoot-first-ask-questions-later statements such as these:

* "Between 2006 and 2008, all of them off-election years, Pawlowski raised over $200k. He spent nearly as much. It is obscene."

* "There is little doubt in my mind that most of the money here is P2P ["Pay To Play"], i.e. given with the expectation of getting something in return."

Mr. Mayor, please give us your side of the story regarding your alleged "obscene fundraising and spending" and your alleged (and, famously notorious) "pay to play" requirements in the City Of Allentown. Thanks.

A. Again, as I have previously stated, there are those who will disagree with whatever we do because they have their own personal axes to grind. Unfortunate, but it comes with the territory. If I came up with the cure for cancer, they would probably say ‘why didn’t he invent a cure for diabetes?’ On this issue, let me state this as clearly as possible: There is no “pay-to-play” in my administration. I will not tolerate it. I take great offense to these accusations. Since assuming office I have tried to separate myself from the contract approval process as much as possible, creating committees and objective review criteria for major contracts as to not have even a hint of impropriety. I have also released all contracting information to whoever has asked for it and openly published bid awards. And for the first time in the city’s history, we put the entire city budget on line to provide total transparency on how the city spends its money. Those who support my campaign do so because they recognize that I am working for the future of Allentown. If they expect something other than that in return, they will be disappointed.

citymom said...
I just want to second Mrs. Dottie's question re; ASD. The need for a successful school district and city revitalization go hand in hand. How will city and ASD work together in a progressive way?

A. Please see my answer above.

Bill Villa said...
Mr. Mayor, not a question, a congratulations, on this excellent news reported in today's paper:

Allentown Crime Rate Dropped In 2008 -- Fewest Crimes This Decade In City [Editor's Note: The Morning Call "newspaper" has curiously de-activated this link]

We would, of course, be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this great report ...

A. Bill, I am thrilled. I believe they validate our efforts over the past three years to rebuild our police department, to find new and innovative ways to fight and reduce crime, and to make our city safe for residents, business people and visitors.

Jo Jo said...
Mayor Pawlowski what would be the top 3 things you would be endeavoring to accomplish in your next term in office?

A. Good question. Thank you. My top three goals for the next four years, as outlined in my re-election announcement speech, are to build upon the foundations we have established over the past several years.

When I announced my candidacy for mayor four years ago, I promised Vision, Responsibility and Results. I believe I have fulfilled those promises. Allentown is on the right course. If I have the privilege to be elected to a second term, I will strive to keep Allentown on the right course with new and innovative programs, financial restraint and improved public safety to make Allentown a city we can all be proud of.

My goals are as follows, to continue to improve public safety, community and economic development; to make the Queen City a “green city” by finding new ways to create jobs, save energy and preserve our natural resources; and to create a “city of the future” that welcomes and supports diversity, families, neighborhoods and businesses that allow us to work and live together in a supportive way.

Anonymous said...
What will the mayor do to bridge the gap that exists between the communities in Allentown ? Many residents have the US against THEM attitude. They believe the City could care less about them and refuse to even be apart of the process. How will he INSPIRE those who may be on the verge of going down a negative path, to become a model citizen ? I like the slogan MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER but many resident feel they were never apart of the group in the first place. Is he open to suggestions and assistance from we who LIVE and KNOW the frustrations of the community that is actually affecting Allentown's image ?Alfonso Todd

A. Alfonso, as you know, I believe Allentown’s strength is its diversity. That’s what makes a city. I have worked hard to create a diverse administration, and while I have had some success and some setbacks, I am proud of what we have done. I have and will continue to reach out to all of our residents and I urge them to be part of the process. We are stronger as a united community. But I need your help and the help of the greater community. Those who are willing to step forward and participate can be great role models for those who may be a bit hesitant. Please remain active, remain positive, and remain in communication with me and my administration and together we can broaden our community conversation.

Mrs. Dottie said...
Wait, one more question. I would like to know what the plans are for the vacant Americus Hotel? Thank you

A. We continue to pursue resolution to the Americus Hotel issue and we are optimistic that our legal efforts and the Bankruptcy Court will lead to a positive resolution in the near future.

Mayor Pawlowski, THANK YOU, for visiting "Lehigh Valley Somebody."