‘State of City is Strong and Getting Stronger’


Mayor Ed Pawlowski delivers the annual “State of the City” address to members of the Allentown Rotary Club at the Renaissance Allentown Hotel in January.

“The state of our city is strong and getting stronger,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski as he delivered his 2015 State of the City address to members and guests of the Allentown Rotary Club at the brand new Renaissance Allentown Hotel in January.

Pawlowski told a crowd of some 200 persons during a 32 minute address that projects like the PPL Center, office buildings, apartments, new restaurants, retail and the new luxury hotel have become the catalysts of a new era, a new beginning, a new heart for Allentown.

“They are providing economic development opportunities and jobs (150 in this hotel alone, 250 construction jobs, 125,000 man hours) and 80% of those employed in this hotel are from Allentown,” Pawlowski said. “It is making Allentown a model for redevelopment for cities across the Commonwealth and even across the country to emulate.”

Pawlowski also proposed working with City Council to adopt policies similar to Philadelphia which will require service contractors who work with the city to have a base wage of more than $10 an hour, providing a living wage for their employees.

Pawlowski said Allentown continues to become a much safer city. Allentown has experienced eight straight years of consistent crime reduction. Part I crimes have been reduced by 17% and homicide is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

Pawlowski touched on highlights from city departments, like public works, finance, parks and the controller’s office. He touted downtown traffic signal improvements, nearly 4.5 miles of street and alley repaving, purchasing process updates and plans to complete three major playground projects.

Pawlowski announced that under the leadership of Lehigh County Office of Veterans Affairs Director Tom Applebach, a task force will be formed to bring various service providers together with the mission of eliminating veterans’ homelessness in Allentown and Lehigh County.

“We need to welcome home our veterans with much more than a smile and a hug, but with a new life,” Pawlowski said.

The mayor also announced the formation of a My Brother’s Keeper initiative to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success.

The task force will be headed by Lehigh County Commissioner David Jones. It will pull together community and business leaders to focus on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color. Pawlowski said the initiative will respond to data showing that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk.

Standard & Poor’s Lifts Allentown’s Credit Rating Three Notches


City LogoStandard & Poor’s Rating Services announced in February that it raised its long-term and underlying credit rating on Allentown’s general obligation debt three notches from BBB+ to A+.

A news release said the upgrade reflects S&P’s opinion that the city has “significantly improved budget flexibility” as a result of its water and sewer system lease agreement with the Lehigh County Authority.

S&P assigned the A+ rating and a “stable outlook” to two new general obligation bonds that the city issued this month—a $15.6 million issue to pay for new capital improvements and an $11.6 million issue to refinance existing debt.

The ratings agency also said the stable outlook reflects an expectation that the city will maintain a “strong” cash reserve since the administration has indicated it does not intend to spend down Allentown’s available fund balance.

“I am very pleased that Standard & Poor’s has recognized Allentown’s efforts at improving its long-term financial situation,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

“An upgraded credit rating means that investors will find Allentown’s bonds more attractive to buy, which in turn lowers the city’s borrowing costs and the overall debt-related burden on city taxpayers. S&P’s decision also affirms the wisdom in our decision to lease our water and sewer systems to the Lehigh County Authority.”

Allentown Named One of Five Top Large Workplaces in Lehigh Valley

Top Workplace Award

Mayor Ed Pawlowski accepts an award naming the City of Allentown one of the Top 5 places to work in the Lehigh Valley among large workplaces.

The City of Allentown has been named as one of The Top Workplaces in the Lehigh Valley.

The honor was earned as a result of an employee survey conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement.

The firm teamed up with The Morning Call to reveal the top 30 workplaces in the Lehigh Valley during a banquet attended by more than 200 persons at the newly opened Renaissance Allentown Hotel early this month.

The achievement is something that “you must earn,” according to Denise LaRue, who works for WorkplaceDynamics.

The city was selected as one of the top five large employers in the region defined as having more than 500 employees. The 30 award winning companies employ nearly 13,000 people.

“I am extremely proud to have the city recognized as a top workplace,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “Municipal government is required to take on a large variety of tasks that make Allentown a great place to live, work and play. Some of that work, by police, fire and public works for instance, is visible to the general public every day, but many of our residents will go years without ever coming to City Hall or other offices where a lot of work is done on their behalf. I am grateful that our employees see the city as a great place to work and shared their views with WorkplaceDynamics.”

WorkplaceDynamics conducts regional Top Workplaces programs with 40 major publishing partners across the United States. Over the past year, more than 5,000 organizations and one in every 88 employers in the U.S. have turned to WorkplaceDynamics to better understand what’s on the minds of their employees.

Candidates from Citizens For a Better Allentown Earn Places on May Primary Ballot


CBA_LogoAll eight candidates affiliated with Citizens For a Better Allentown collected enough nominating petition signatures to have a place on May’s primary election ballots.

The Democratic Party candidates in the slate for City Council are:

  • Councilman Joe Davis
  • Councilman Jeff Glazier
  • Candida Affa

Controller Mary Ellen Koval is also running for re-election as a Democrat.

The cross-filed slate of candidates the political action committee has endorsed for Allentown School Board are:

  • Elizabeth Martinez
  • Charlie Thiel
  • Audrey Mathison
  • Marc Telesha

The successful petition drives followed a rousing campaign kickoff event attended by more than 200 people at Candida’s Bar on 12th Street last month.

“I’m very pleased to be supporting such a great slate of candidates for City Council and the Allentown School Board,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. “I know this group of people can help continue to push the city forward as we make Allentown one of the best small cities in the country in which to live and work.

The goal of Citizens for a Better Allentown is to elect like-minded Democrats who can move the City of Allentown forward to a better and more prosperous future. It aims to cultivate leadership that is committed to building a stronger community by providing a quality education to every child, keeping our streets safe, and expanding economic development to all corners of the City.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski is the PAC’s chairman. State Reps. Peter Schweyer and Michael Schlossberg also serve on the group’s board of directors.

The recent and ongoing revitalization of the downtown has put Allentown on a path to prosperity. Citizens for a Better Allentown’s aim is to elect leaders who will continue to move the city in the same direction.

To learn more about Citizens for a Better Allentown and its slate of candidates, visit their Website, citizensforabetterallentown.com or like them on Facebook.

Supreme Court Candidate Kevin Dougherty Gains Support in Allentown


DoughertyinAllentownJudge Kevin M. Dougherty of Philadelphia visited Allentown on Feb. 18 as he kicked off his campaign for Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Dougherty is the administrative judge for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Trial Division, where he oversees all aspects of Pennsylvania’s largest civil and criminal trial court system.

More than 200 people attended the event with Judge Dougherty at Allentown’s IBEW Local 375 office on Liberty Street. There, Dougherty earned the support of Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, community activist Alan Jennings and numerous labor and community service leaders.

“I am proud to support Kevin Dougherty in his bid to become a Supreme Court judge,” Pawlowski said. “He’s done a lot of good work from the bench helping families and making the streets of Philadelphia safer.”

Three days later, the Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee also endorsed Dougherty—one of two endorsements it gave for three open Supreme Court seats.

Dougherty was previously the administrative judge for Philadelphia Family Court for nearly a decade. He was first appointed to the bench by Gov. Tom Ridge in 2001 and won election to a full 10-year term later that year.

He requested his appointment to Family Court and was made Supervising Judge of the Juvenile Division in 2003. He became the administrative judge of Family Court in 2005, going on to make reforms in the juvenile justice system that would become models for the rest of the state.

Dougherty has been widely recognized as an expert on juvenile justice and judicial administration and has been appointed to serve on numerous boards, committees and commissions dealing with these subjects.

“I want the black robe I wear to be viewed by those who come before me as a beacon of hope rather than a symbol of fear,” Dougherty has been known to say.

But Dougherty has also been known for stern treatment of violent youths when it was needed. When Philadelphia was besieged with “flash mobs” of violent teens attacking random citizens, Dougherty made examples of the leaders by placing them in juvenile detention facilities. His quick actions were credited with restoring a sense of safety on Philadelphia streets.

Drive Over a Monster Pothole? Call the City Pothole Hotline


As winter turns to spring, the thoughts of motorists turn from avoiding icy Potholeroads to avoiding the shock-absorber punishment of what the ice and snow leaves behind: potholes.

That’s why motorists who encounter one of these tire-swallowing monsters are encouraged to call the City of Allentown’s Pothole Hotline at 610-437-8775.

The Streets Department recording asks callers to give the exact location of the pothole along with their name and telephone number in case the city needs to reach them to ascertain a more precise location.

A Street Department crew fills potholes using a unit that is fully self-contained and can be installed on any single axle dump truck. The unit has the capability of keeping hot mix material workable all day. The City has a goal of repairing potholes on high traffic volume streets within 24 hours and lower volume roads in 24-to-48 hours. If a complaint is received of a very large pothole, a supervisor is sent to the scene in a reasonable period of time to determine if immediate action is warranted.

Potholes result from the freeze-thaw cycle. Water seeps beneath the pavement through cracks caused by the wear and tear of vehicle travel. As the temperatures fall below freezing at night, the water becomes ice and expands below the pavement, forcing the pavement to rise. As the weight of traffic continues to batter this raised section – and the temperatures once again rise above freezing – a shallow divot occurs beneath the surface breaking the pavement and forming a pothole.