MAYOR LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR U.S. SENATE

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Mayor Pawlowski announces his candidacy for U.S. Senate in front of the PPL Center on April 23.

Mayor Pawlowski announces his candidacy for U.S. Senate in front of the PPL Center on April 23.

The campaign for U.S. Senate is under way.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski, now serving his third term and 10th year as Allentown’s mayor, formally announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate through social media on April 17. He then held four live campaign kickoff events, starting on April 23 in front of the PPL Center in Allentown.

“We all know Washington is broken,” Pawlowski said. “I believe we need someone who has real world experience in solving problems—to reach across the aisle and make things happen. To get things done.

“That’s what I have been doing for the past 10 years in Allentown.”

Pawlowski is currently focusing his attention on raising money for the campaign, which will be costly. Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey spent nearly $17 million to win election in 2010. To face Toomey in November 2016, Pawlowski will have to defeat former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak in the Democratic primary. Sestak lost to Toomey in the 2010 election.

The mayor will host a fundraiser picnic on Sunday, June 28, at the Grange Park Pavilion.

Pawlowski also held announcement events in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Erie during which he picked up numerous endorsements from elected officials and union leaders from across the state, including:

  • The Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters, Philadelphia
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 542
  • Lehigh Valley Building Trades
  • Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez
  • Easton Mayor Sal Panto
  • Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller
  • State Rep. Michael H. Schlossberg
  • State Rep. Peter Schweyer
  • State Rep. Daniel T. McNeill
  • State Rep. Thomas R Caltagirone
  • Adrian Shanker, chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party
  • Easton Vice Mayor Ken Brown
  • Erie City Controller Teresa Stankiewicz
  • Erie City Councilman Casimir Kwitowski
  • Northampton County Councilman Scott Parsons
  • Lehigh County Commissioner Geoff Brace
  • Allentown City Councilman Julio Guridy
  • Allentown City Councilman Daryl Hendricks
  • Allentown School Director Charlie Thiel
  • Allentown Controller Mary Ellen Koval

“Mayor Ed Pawlowski has a record of getting things done for Allentown and its hard working people,” said Robert Heenan, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 542, which hosted one of four campaign announcement events at its union hall.

“The mayor shares our values. He understands that in order to make our economy work, we need to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure. Only by doing that can we be more globally competitive and deliver good jobs to hardworking families.”

Demonstrating his commitment to infrastructure investment, Pawlowski was part of a contingent of several dozen U.S. mayors to visit Capitol Hill in May to urge Congressional leaders to find a long-term funding plan to fix America’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Nearly one quarter of all American bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete. In Pennsylvania alone, 23 percent of its 22,660 bridges are considered to be structurally deficient by the American Society of Civil Engineers. That’s the highest total in the country.

“I can take my record of success and the lessons I’ve learned in Allentown to Washington and make things work for all of us again,” said Pawlowski. “The game has been rigged against us for too long. The playing field is not level. Businesses that think themselves too big to fail also seem to believe they are too big to care and we are too small to matter. Only together can we create change.”

WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT CONSTRUCTION TO GET UNDER WAY THIS SUMMER

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An artist’s rendering of a Lehigh Riverwalk, planned as part of a planned $300 million redevelopment of the former Lehigh Structural Steel plant in the NIZ. (Courtesy/Jaindl Properties)

The redevelopment of Allentown’s waterfront will get under way this summer.

The Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority has approved the application of The Waterfront Development Co. to obtain $92 million in Neighborhood Improvement Zone financing for the first part of The Waterfront, a $300 million mixed-use development that includes new office buildings and upscale apartments along the Lehigh River.

The first phase of the project includes construction of two office buildings, one apartment complex, the first of two parking garages, the first section of a River Walk and other infrastructure improvements.

“Redeveloping the Lehigh River waterfront is critical if we are to truly usher in a new renaissance in the city of Allentown,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “This project should move us toward that goal.”

As planned, the site will ultimately include six Class-A office buildings, three residential apartment buildings with 172 units and two parking garages.

The 26-acre Waterfront site was once home to Lehigh Structural Steel Co., and has remained underused for years. Infrastructure work is expected to get under way on July 1.

Tax incentives from the NIZ, which has already helped bring $1 billion in new development to the downtown including the PPL Center and the City Center office buildings, allows developers to offer below market rents to tenants.

ALLENTOWN NAMED A TOP TEN CITY TO LOCATE BUSINESS OPERATIONS

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Allentown was named one of the top ten cities in the United States for companies to locate their finance or information technology operations, according to a leading global business consultant.

The Hackett Group evaluated 33 metropolitan areas in the U.S., analyzing each according to 30 criteria, including quality of the local talent, tax incentives, infrastructure and quality of life.

Allentown ranked seventh in the United States and 62nd in the world.

“It is exciting to see Allentown gain even more national recognition for being a great place for businesses, employees and families to thrive,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “This can only help us to bring even more good paying jobs to the city.”

According to Fortune magazine, the study tracks a trend that has seen an increasing number of companies locating operations centers in the United States rather than moving overseas. More than 1,000 of these centers have opened in the past couple of years, the magazine said.

“Midsized metro areas and rural communities in the United States have become viable choices for establishing service delivery centers, with advantages that include turnover rates that are significantly lower than offshore; proximity to customers and headquarters; cultural affinity; business knowledge; and reasonable real estate and infrastructure costs,” according to the report’s executive summary.

“Also, the labor-cost difference between U.S. and prime offshore locations has been diminishing.

“Furthermore, a backlash against the offshoring of jobs has made job retention ‘at home’ an intangible source of value for U.S. companies. Some states have used tax and other incentives as motivations to create or retain service-center jobs as an antidote to high unemployment rates.”

PENNSYLVANIA MUNICIPAL LEAGUE COMES TO ALLENTOWN

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Volunteers, some of them municipal officials attending the Pennsylvania Municipal League convention in Allentown, help renovate Jordan Park.

Volunteers, some of them municipal officials attending the Pennsylvania Municipal League convention in Allentown, help renovate Jordan Park.

More than 300 municipal officials and guests from across the Commonwealth descended on Allentown on June 23 as the Pennsylvania Municipal League hosted its annual convention here.

The 116th annual convention lasted three days and included numerous activities for visitors, including guest speaker seminars, roundtable discussions on local government and leadership, exhibits on the floor of the PPL Center, a tour of the S. 10th Street industrial area and a host dinner event at Miller Symphony Hall.

Some guests also participated in a community service project to install new playground equipment at Jordan Park.

This was the first time in 25 years that the annual PML Convention came to Allentown. In 1990, the convention was hosted by the Allentown Hilton, which is now the Holiday Inn.

“The annual PML Convention is a fantastic opportunity to learn and network with colleagues from across Pennsylvania,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “It’s been an exciting opportunity to show off Allentown and all the progress we have made to rebuild the downtown.”

The new Renaissance Allentown Hotel was fully booked for the three days of the convention, and this combined with numerous visits to restaurants, shops and other city attractions was expected to bring several hundred thousand dollars into the city.

This convention, which was scheduled a year ago, was the first significant booking for the Renaissance Hotel, which opened in January.

GAS PIPELINE SAFETY THE GOAL OF NEW MAYORS COUNCIL

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A tour was taken at 13th and Allen in Allentown on Monday, April, 4, 2011.  In photo,Cynthia Quarterman, director of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration,, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Allentown fire chief Robert Scherer look at the site of the deadly blast which happened in February of this year.   /////(Monica Cabrera/The Morning Call) __***** Headline:  Federal official urges pipeline safety forum ** Gas companies, pipeline operators need to do 'top-to-bottom review' of their systems, transportation secretary says ** ALLENTOWN GAS EXPLOSION (4/5/11) ***** Headline:  TOP STORIES   APRIL 3-9, 2011 ** Federal official urges pipeline safety reform (4/10/11) *****  Headline: Pa. gets failing grade on pipeline data ** Watchdog group's survey finds Pennsylvania lackin in giving the public access to information ** GAS PIPELINE SAFETY (11/29/11) ***** Series:  WATCHDOG REPORT: ALLENTOWN GAS EXPLOSION - ONE YEAR LATER  ***** Headline: 'A painstaking process' to find cause of blast ** Investigators have been working for a year, but answers may be months away. (2/5/12) ***** Headline: ALLENTOWN GAS EXPLOSION ** ONE YEAR LATER ** SPECIAL REPORTS (2/9/12) *****

A tour was taken at 13th and Allen in Allentown on April, 4, 2011. In photo,Cynthia Quarterman, director of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration,, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Allentown fire chief Robert Scherer look at the site of the deadly blast which happened in February two months earlier. (Monica Cabrera/The Morning Call) __

Four years after five people were killed when a gas pipeline exploded on N. 13th St., little has been done to improve the safety of the country’s aging natural gas distribution system.

That was one of the conclusions drawn from the inaugural Mayors Council on Pipeline Safety conference in Philadelphia in May.

More data about the system and better communication is required to make the system safer, according to conference keynote speaker Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, whose remarks were reported by Bloomberg BNA.

“Without exception, every time we see something that goes wrong, somebody is out there who says, ‘We knew about that problem, and we knew it was going to hurt somebody sooner or later,’ ” Hart told the group, according to the report.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski, who was inspired to cofound the Mayors Council after the N. 13th Street explosion in 2011, is frustrated that there are no maps that show where all natural gas pipelines are. On the night of the explosion, it took six hours to figure out where the shut off valves were located, which allowed the fire to continue to burn.

“I still can’t get the gas companies to tell me where the gas lines are,” he said.

“It’s appalling. We have the technology. There’s no reason we can’t figure out where these gas lines are. My theory is that they don’t know where all the gas line are. It’s really scary.”

The Mayors Council supports initiatives that would mandate the use of automatic shutoff valves, speed up the timeline in which utility companies replace steel or iron pipes with plastic, and improve leak detection with more frequent surveys and upgrading leak detection protocols.

For more information about the Mayors Coalition on Pipeline Safety, visit http://mayorscouncilpipelinesafety.com/.

‘State of City is Strong and Getting Stronger’

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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

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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.”