Hanover Township Assholes Have a Good Laugh About Screwing Allentown

Hur hur hur nobody wants to build anything in Hanover, so let’s kill off Allentown’s chances of getting anything either muahahahaha

Amid an anemic agenda that had no items under the “Developments” heading, board member Mark Tanczos made a joke: “There are no developments in Hanover Township, only elsewhere.” Laughter ensued.

Then colleague John Nagle one-upped him: “Look on the bright side — at least we don’t have a hole in the ground.” That’s a reference to the hockey arena construction site at 7th and Hamilton streets in Allentown, where construction has been stymied by a lawsuit filed by Hanover and other townships over the redevelopment project’s financing.

John Nagle sounds like a bully in print, but just wait til you hear the audio. They sound like the villains in a bad movie:

(Thanks: Andrew McGill)

Comments

  1. John says:

    Their conduct is reprehensible, this is a very serious matter and joking about it is not right.

    However, I do have to correct you yet again – by digging the hole, Allentown screwed itself. Please try to hold everyone accountable for their actions, not just the people you don’t like.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      No one held a gun to their head and forced them to sue. They could have chosen to take the long view like Salisbury did. They’re going to be responsible if Allentown’s stuck with the hole.

  2. Rich says:

    I think you don’t get it Jon. They don’t give a damn if there’s a hole. Hanover Township has done well the last ten years. They don’t want to give their EIT money over. They probably won’t in the end either. If that means there’s a hole in the ground, so be it.

  3. Publius says:

    They sound like a bunch of hyenas chewing on raw meat. You can hear the spite and contempt dripping in their voices and in those weird maniacal laughs. It’s frankly creepy. John is right–when you sue your neighbor, you better be serious and be in earnest. These guys are clearly doing this as much for the sport of it as anything else. Gross. And, why is Bernie getting shout out at 0:17? Talk about back room bullshit.

  4. John says:

    There is alot of anger in this on both sides, but I stand on my earlier statement. The fact of the matter is that Pawlowski and Browne tried to sneak this through and get it in place before anyone knew what hit them. Then they got caught. Then the townships responded with lawsuits.

    To be angry with the townships for responding to the reprehensible conduct of Pawlowski and Browne without also calling out Pawlowski and Browne is hypocritical.

    • Rich says:

      John, not everyone accepts your definition of reprehensible here. Pat Browne had zero, zilch, nada obligation to go down on the Senate floor in 2009 and announce to the rest of the Senate that he secured language in the fiscal code, nor should he have. Probably half the place tries to secure language any year. If members of the legislature did not read the bill, or the bullet points that leadership staff provide them, and their staff failed too, and then they voted for the fiscal code doing this, it is on them. None of this bullshit that he had “bad conduct” here. No he didn’t. He legislated. I happen to think this wasn’t a bright idea, and that his staff was lazy in informing towns in his constituency, but that’s not what you’re complaining about. You’re saying he “snuck it in.” No, he didn’t. They had plenty of chances to read the bill and stop it, and didn’t. Besides all of that, knowing the way Harrisburg works a bit, the budget and fiscal code are almost full-time in discussion. This didn’t creep up out of thin air in half a day.

      • John says:

        Rich, if Pat only represented Allentown then I’d concede your point.

        But his district is large, and Allentown is only a part of it. He absolutely had a responsibility to inform all his constituents, or at a minimum the elected officials of the townships in his district, because this legislation directly impacts them. He didn’t do that, and in my opinion abrogated his responsibility.

        He snuck it in, that’s clear as day. He doesn’t even try to defend that anymore because he knows no one (including most NIZ supporters) believe him.

    • Rich says:

      Btw, I also think this is a non-issue. So what, they joked? Frankly, if Allentown blows this, they deserved to. It was so badly mishandled, it’s not funny. Great idea to build an arena, also a great idea to build office space, but awful idea to legislatively do this in this way, and even worse political and administrative handling. If they had only had their numbers straight, some of these towns would have backed away.

      • Publius says:

        I guess in retrospect some things could have been handled better, but, frankly, when the project is up against jokers like this who don’t give the slightest damn, it would have been impossible to get anything anyway. I mean, for forty years, Allentown has been trying to play it on the straight and get some sort of regional support. It failed badly because no one else wanted to go to the city, let alone share tax revenue. Something big had to happen and it did. It was destined to cause heartburn.

      • Jon Geeting says:

        They’re joking about the damage that they are causing Allentown. They’re dicks. They don’t have to be suing at all. Salisbury’s not being myopic about this. The other townships could’ve chosen to take the long view like Salisbury. Instead, they’re taking the incredibly dumb view that Allentown’s success comes at their expense. If the arena’s not ready for the 2013 season, it’s going to be 100% the townships’ fault, because they chose to sue.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      If you believe, as I do, that the single most important public policy goal in the Lehigh Valley over the next few decades is restoring the three core cities as the central hubs of the region’s economy, then Browne and Pawlowski did absolutely nothing wrong. Consequences always matter more than process. The townships winning the lawsuit would have bad consequences, so it’s bad. The NIZ will have good consequences, based on my views on development politics/economics, so it’s good.

  5. Publius says:

    I guess what gets me so much about this is that Pawlowski and Browne at least seem to be in earnest about what they are doing. They went to the fences and put their political careers on the line for something they think was important. Browne is already out–we’ll see about Pawlowski. You know, that takes balls and they did it for the sake of Allentown. These guys are just the opposite, they are yucking it up and basking in / protecting their entrenched power to the point that they couldn’t give the slightest damn about Allentown.

    In the end it comes down to this. I personally don’t mind paying a few more dollars a year in taxes to give Allentown a fighting chance when they have a really decent strategy to get a leg up. What I do mind is a bunch of A**holes like this “representing” me (supposedly in my name) and having a laugh as they kick a maimed dog. Being in earnest is damned important in serious matter.

    • John says:

      Publius, Pat Browne (through his wife) is taking $300k/year from Reilly and Topper. That’s hardly being ernest, in fact I think it’s unethical and should be illegal.

      Pawlowski wanted to use this as a springboard to the Governor’s mansion (he never stood a chance, but that doesn’t matter here). So what happens? Any NIZ problems are someone else’s problem, not his.

      So I’m not sold on either’s ernestness here.

      But your last point, I agree 100% in regard to supporting Allentown. I’ve volunteered in Allentown for over 20 years and also contribute to the extent I can. I agree with you on Hanover – they were reprehensible. But what I also don’t like is politicians getting caught pulling a fast one, then trying to blame the people that caught them.

      I guess there’s enough blame to go around on all sides.

  6. GDub says:

    The Hanover guys are clearly clowns. You are never “off the record” as a public official. But I think what this case shows is that when you want to have a big project with a lot of stakeholders (voluntary or not), it pays to negotiate before contracts are signed and it is worth knowing what you are paying before you buy.

    1. Is the EIT share necessary or not? If Allentown can (nearly) promise it back on an annual basis, that would suggest the EIT is ‘extra’. But if they can’t get funding without it, that suggests that it isn’t ‘extra’. The fact that no one can come up with any kind of numbers makes me wonder how this money led to any sort of rational calculation about assets available.

    2. Allentown could have negotiated with the suburbs with the threat of legislation in the back pocket. They may not have got everything they wanted, but they probably wouldn’t have been left with zero either. They could have thought out the EIT issue and devoted it to something truly “regional” (like transportation links) to make it a bit more palatable. Maybe the arena is built in 2014 and not 2013, but at least its built with a quality financing plan and backing by the folks affected. Since the Brooks are getting a nice market and a free arena, and the Flyers get an affiliate 1 hour up the road, I think they can wait.

    I don’t think (in all cases) that this is a case of suburbs trying to work over the city. Like it or not, these are existing municipalities that have expenses and budgets too, and having legitimate interests they can be expected to defend them by all legal means. Folks can rail against suburban development, or EIT arrangements, or whatever–but at the end of the day you govern in the world you live in, not the world you want.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      The reason I support what Browne did is that I don’t think it’s the case that they wouldn’t have been left with zero. If Browne had gone to them beforehand and told them what he wanted to do with the NIZ, they would’ve said no. And then it probably wouldn’t have happened. I think that outcome would be clearly worse than what did happen.

  7. GDub says:

    Well does that mean then that you support the whole thing falling apart due to a lawsuit? Or you support having a project start and then stopped by legal action? Because that really was the only result possible in these circumstances.

    You are asking institutions to act against their interests. You can say “they would have said no anyway” but we really don’t know otherwise, do we? Politicians threw a hail mary and, right now, looks like it fell incomplete.

    Here’s another option–use legislation to create a regional body for downtown development/transportation (like the Port Authority) where funding is agreed on and municipalities get a vote in how it is spent.

    • Publius says:

      Do you really think a regional authority would ever come together with the jokers in hanover running the show in most townships? Allentown threw a Hail Mary because it had to–not because it wanted to. Like i said earlier, Allentown has been trying to regionalize since the early 70s and has just been getting the finger from the townships for just as long. It was never going to happen–the audio recording and the ingrained and haughty contempt kind of shows that.

      Yeah, this goes to the court’s now, but, it has a better chance of succeeding there than in convincing Hanover (or virtually any other outlying municipality) that they should give up one red cent for the sake of poor people or urban space.

      • GDub says:

        I guess I choose to believe that a plan designed and executed this badly wasn’t the only option available. The financial data seems to be either unavailable or un-analyzed, which isn’t the best way forward when you are a poor city spending $200+ million of OPM.

        I got it, Allentown is aggrieved (I still don’t understand why everyone here points to 1965 and not the loss of Mack and Bell Labs, etc, but whatever). But in democratic systems with overlapping interests, one party trying to ramrod a single solution of limited benefit nearly always loses.

        • Jon Geeting says:

          Agree with Publius. I think the need for Allentown to act unilaterally is pretty clear, given the disinterest from the townships, so I’m not sure there were any better options within the set of things they were going to be able to do unilaterally. If I were the Mayor, I would have first looked at selling all the city’s parking garages and surface lots to private owners, pricing curb parking at variable rates, funding most city services through the land tax while abating all building taxes, and persuading the school district to do the same. However, I don’t think those things would be enough to change overall investment patterns in the region, and believe that a much larger intervention was necessary.

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