Monday, December 28, 2009

Op Ed Pawlowski

Esteemed 2-term (so far, and counting) Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (left, being congratulated by President Obama recently) was reelected this past November w/ a whopping 74% popular vote mandate majority landslide tsunami wipe-out victory.

Mayor (for life?) Pawlowski had a terrific OpEd piece in The Morning Call "newspaper" recently, here it is ...

Mayor Ed Pawlowski - Despite challenges, there's a "light shining on Allentown"

December 27, 2009

Albert Einstein once commented that in the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. When reflecting upon this past year and the year ahead, this statement has profound truth.

This was no ordinary year, 2009 began and continued under the cloud of a sluggish economy and we confronted one of the greatest economic crises this country has seen in almost 70 years.

I recently talked with a family who told me how tough it has become for them to put food on the table. I sat with construction workers who voiced real concern about their prospects for jobs, and I ate lunch with small business owners who told me how their sales were down and expenses up. I understand how they feel.

Like many of you, the city in 2009 tightened its belt and began to decrease its spending levels to compensate for lower revenues. As a result, we now have the lowest staff level in almost 20 years while maintaining and even expanding core city services. We have learned to do more with less while at the same time improving our communities and quality of life.

This was no ordinary year, but Allentown is no ordinary city, and by working together, we have overcome many challenges.

Even in this tough economic climate, Allentown has turned difficulty into opportunity and there are many reasons to have faith in our city. Right now, through diligent planning and a reduction in the size of government, Allentown residents are seeing their fifth straight year of no property tax increases and our city's total debt is at the lowest level in 10 years. We have hired nine new police officers, improved our parks and aggressively tackled blight in our communities. The city has also seen the opening and announcement of four new downtown restaurants, the sale of the Americus Hotel, the reuse of the Mack Headquarters, the attraction of new industrial employers, the opening of 14 new businesses on Seventh Street and the beginning of a redevelopment effort along our riverfront, which upon completion will ultimately bring minor league hockey to the region and help make Allentown the center of activity in the Lehigh Valley.

The entire region benefits from a strong Allentown. When we work as partners, we weave the fabric of the city and the region together. It is this fabric that will help us not only weather this economic storm, but lead our city and region to new heights.

Make no mistake: As we march into 2010 we will face a host of challenges, from continued budgetary constraints, to the urgent need to increase quality jobs that pay a living wage, to rebuilding our neighborhoods and increasing home ownership. Yet, even through this murkiness of economic uncertainty, there is a light shining on Allentown. President Obama's recent visit put a spotlight on our city and for a brief moment people across the country looked to Allentown for inspiration. They looked to us for reassurance and for leadership, and it's through strong leadership that we will emerge from these challenging times on solid footing.

For us to be successful, we will need to continue to have a bold vision for our city -- a city of strong neighborhoods and unlimited opportunity. We already have made important gains on that vision by working together, staying focused on our goals and maximizing every resource. The tough economy we currently face may slow our advance, but we will not be stopped.

Our commitment to each other has made Allentown the region's center of diversity and culture, of tolerance and inclusion, and will ultimately make it the center of innovation and forward thinking.

It has been said, when we dare to dream and are willing to work together, our greatest hopes will rise above any walls of uncertainty and doubt. Time after time, we have found new ways to work together unselfishly. Today is such a time. Today, we must renew our core principles. We have to work together to move our city forward.

Allentown's best days are ahead of us. I pledge to you that I will continue to work tirelessly to make our city great during 2010 and in the years ahead.

Ed Pawlowski is the mayor of Allentown. He starts his second term in January.

Ed Pawlowski
A look ahead to the new year

Copyright © 2009, The Morning Call

LVS Editor's Note: We're assuming it's "ok" to reprint OpEd pieces from The Morning Call "newspaper" since an Allentown City Council VP (for now) recently reprinted one that he "wrote" at his blog. See: Related Story.