FAQ – Dick’s Mayoral Candidacy
are you running? Because I am concerned that the City is facing a crisis
and is ill prepared for it. No one
is looking ahead and planning for the future, we are playing catch-up with
the present. We are investing huge amounts
of money in the Downtown to favor businesses, but are not investing in the
community, the people and neighborhoods.
is the difference between you and Pawlowski? Well, although we look somewhat similar,
we come from radically different backgrounds. I would say that the biggest
difference between us is my contention that we need to develop the city by
promoting its strengths - Pawlowski believes we need to bring business to
downtown. But really, my ability to
think and plan strategically, and my facility at coming up with new and
unique ideas are what should be the reason to elect me. We need someone capable of finding
creative solutions to our challenges.
would you change? I would
reorganize the way we run the city.
For example, there are myriad overlaps between public safety, and
community development, yet they are hardly aligned. I do not believe we can arrest our way
out of crime. I believe that only a
properly functioning community of neighborhoods can drive out crime. We need to make a clear declaration of
what we choose as goals for the city, and then evaluate all our spending
on how it drives us toward those goals.
We need to decide if programs currently funded are actually helping
us reach those goals. It seems that we merely see if the programs are
operating, not evaluating their efficacy at realizing our over-arching
goals. Within the City government itself,
we do not have incentives for saving in departments, because any saving is
immediately given to the general fund, and also incorporated into the
expectations for the following year.
There is no gain for doing a better fiscal job, so why bother. This
promotes a lack of interest in doing a better job. The City needs to function cohesively to
effectively move us toward the future.
how would a Nepon administration function?
First of all, I would be accessible. I would attend Council meetings, and
work with transparency instead of secrecy.
I am a collaborative leader, not a lone wolf. I think we can get better ideas and
better buy-in to new concepts by working together. I do not have all the answers, but I do
have the ability to make the important decisions after hearing various
differences would we see if you are Mayor?
The most noticeable change would be a concentration on results that
citizens can see and feel. I would
change the direction of our housing program from creating more affordable
housing to making life more enjoyable for those already living here. To do that we need to address what are
the biggest quality of life issues.
By creating and empowering the neighborhoods we can and will reduce
the opportunity and occurrence of crime and gangs. I will personally, with my cabinet,
visit any neighborhood that requests it. I will introduce myself to any
‘problem’ residencies and make it clear that we are all about good
neighborhoods. When I worked for
Lowe’s, we were told that if we suspected a customer was actually trying
to rip us off, we were to offer excellent customer service. That idea translates well into community
development. By offering ‘excellent
customer service’ to our community we can encourage those who flourish in
the dark to move on to other locales.
That is the best we can do.
We haven’t the resources to cure crime, but we do have the
resources to move crime out. A
further change would be a result of appointments to the Parking
Authority. I believe that we need
to provide more parking options in the inner city. The lack of available parking combined
with the increased enforcement feels like a regressive tax. Creating some neighborhood parking, by
taking down some of the buildings
and converting those to ground lots, we would go a long way toward
relieving some of the stress of downtown living as well as stop
engendering disrespect for authority.
While it may take time to address the proliferation of multifamily
housing in neighborhoods not designed to support them, we can go a lot
farther toward mitigating the problems that arise from the crowding.
new ideas do you have for the City?
I would like to see us concentrate on being at the leading edge of
the growing trend for city living in sustainable communities. We have the basis for a number of
community conversions, taking existing neighborhoods and converting them
to walkable, livable sustainable communities through innovative change
such as closing through streets into cul-de-sacs, encouraging small ‘bodega’
style markets and neighborhood schools.
Many of these neighborhoods currently have small scale
industry. We can create a place
where you can live and work, shop and play without the need for a
car. Through creative use of
pooling resources, we can fund the transformation, encourage growth in
real estate prices through limited availability, and then replicate the
concept in more places. Another idea I have is to create a new government
center that is both energy efficient, as well as large enough to
centralize our government functions.
Through discussions with funding sources, it appears we can
actually save money while increasing efficiency. By disposing of current real estate holdings
whose uses would be combined in the new structure, we would return some
property to the tax roles, eliminate a lot of duplication of equipment and
services, and utilize an underutilized property centrally located in the
can Allentown benefit from the traffic produced by the Sand Casino in
neighboring Bethlehem? At present,
there is no good reason for people who come to the Sands to visit Allentown.
The America on Wheels Museum is a start, but not enough to justify the
trip for most people. Development
of the Riverfront may be a good idea, but will take quite some time. I would like to reverse the equation...
What can Allentown do that will drive traffic and dollars to Allentown
merchants, whose customers may decide to visit the Casino while they are
in the area? To do that we need to
establish a unique identity for the City that will attract people from a
greater distance than just a circle around the planned casino. We need to think bigger than just below
the Poconos and above Philadelphia.
I have conceived of a plan to establish our city as the best of
what it is, to promote what we have.
Why can’t we be the pre-imminent Latino City on the East
Coast? We could be the place to
come for Latin Culture, including food and music as well as art and
education? This has been done for
example, in Miami, where at one time the Cuban population was blamed for
all the ills, but is now the economic engine driving the Miami area’s
rebirth. There is no place on the
East coast know for its Latin culture.
There is a large market and no one serving it. Allentown’s future is not its past. We
will never have a Hess’s and a Leh’s and a Zollinger’s. But we can have a
flourishing future by stressing what we do have and investing in it.
can we do with the Government we have to make it work better? Recognizing that because of our size, we
have in house many forms of expertise unattainable by surrounding municipalities. We could offer our services, for hire,
to those neighbors, decreasing our costs to support those services
locally. Some of this could be
through public/private partnerships which we can create with local
businesses, some through private agreements. Much as we market our water and Sewer
services, we could be marketing other services.
about our parks? Our parks need to be supported for the quality of life
issues that they afford us. But we
also need to look at the latest ideas in environmental policy to see what
we can do to use our parks to help us in our quest for a sustainable
future. We should be encouraging
not only recreational uses, but also environmental protection. We should evaluate our habit of mowing
regularly, and closely. We should look to reestablish native species in
place of other species imported to the area for ‘looks’. We should look toward neighborhood parks
for planting of vegetable gardens, not just playgrounds.
else should we know about you? I
had my first encounter with city government after I bought my first house
at 9th & Walnut Street, and decided to convert it into a
storefront for a bookstore. I
discovered the world of zoning and building and electrical codes (and
inspectors). I also discovered that
the property, while surrounded by businesses, was not zoned for
business. I did not just get the
zoning changed for me, through a variance, but successfully fought to have
the area rezoned to reflect its actual character and nature. When I moved to New Jersey to take
advantage of an opportunity to develop a 60 acre tract, and raise my kids
in the country setting, I volunteered for the planning board as an
alternate. I also joined my first
Volunteer Fire Department. On my
return to Allentown, I became active in the arts community as well as the
school community. I served as a
board member at the Open Space Gallery on Hamilton St, and the Theatre
Outlet, then on N 9th Street. I volunteered for Mayfair. As in so many such activities, I rose to
a leadership position in all of my volunteer activities. Eventually, after working for the school
district as a strategic planner, I ran for and won election to the Board
of School Directors to try to get some of my ideas enacted. I am a committed community booster, with
demonstrated concern and ability to get things accomplished.