Friday, May 16, 2014

Molovinsky on Minorities



Mr. Molovinsky has another interesting piece ostensibly about race politics today. As has been the constant refrain for years now, opponents of the downtown redevelopment are claiming that the NIZ is a tax grab that takes money out of the hands of minority residents and funnels it to wealthy developers and business people. At the same time, Mr. Molovinsky constantly opines about the "glory days" of Allentown. he loved when the community came together through the CCC to improve the city parks. He waxes nostalgic about the trolleys and shopping on Hamilton Street. Fine, but, you can't really have it both ways.

Allentown was once a great city because people from all classes pulled together. Through successive waves of immigration in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, older majority population groups (first the English and Germans) stayed in the city and continued to pay property taxes and maintain communal institutions as new immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe arrives. Its not like there wasn't friction---there was. But, by and large, Allentown became a thriving city because different ethnic groups and races were able to coexist and largely pull together.


Fast forward to the 1970s and 80s and the middle class abandoned Allentown to head to "greener pastures" in the `burbs. They took with them their money and their public institutions. Without property taxes and without people who cared about community institutions, Allentown withered on the vine.

Now, because of the NIZ, we start to have a nascent migration back to the city. We start to have money coming in, and we start to have middle class people regaining a consciousness of place. These are the steps to redeveloping the economic foundation of the city. And with that foundation secure, all ships (all races and classes will rise). The process won't be perfect there will be some friction around the edges, but Allentown needed a shot in the arm. Mr. Molovinsky is always championing for the status quo---that status quo has kept Allentown's head under the water for four decades. And yet, he also recognizes that the town once had greatness. And, it is obvious that he longs for that greatness once more. It is impossible to reconcile both good things without some friction.

13 comments:

  1. publius, I am much more on board with change than you realize; my criticism is based on the methods. i was privy to the straw buyers and other shenanigans employed by the city to implement these changes. I am aware of how small the group of approved developers is, you don't even need all the fingers on one hand to count them. I am aware on the revisionism, winners and losers of this project. I believe that in future years those looking to research the true history of these changes will only have my blog as a reference source.

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    1. Yeah, I agree the process could have been better. But, it think we all remember that recording from the Hanover township commissioner's meeting where those township clowns were cackling like the assholes they are at Allentown's efforts to make progress:

      https://soundcloud.com/andrew-mcgill-3/hanover-township-may-8

      Someone need to take some real action to overcome the asshole suburban mentality and Palowski did. It was realpolitik, but that's what was needed to kick start Atown.

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    2. publius, allentown has benefitted more than any city in pennsylvania because of the NIZ. the small municipalities get nothing from the state, but their residents pay the same state tax. if all that wasn't enough, allentown tried to grab their share of the EIT. i applaud those clowns for standing up for their residents.

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    3. Mr. Molovinsky, to say that municipalities get nothing from the state is ludicrous. In 1965, the EIT law changed from an "earn it here keep it here" philosophy to the current system that allows an outflow of money from places that create wealth to places that people live---basically a massive tax subsidy to the `burbs. Then, at the federal level there is the mortgage interest tax deduction (which if you read the senate reports was explicitly created to move middle class people out of cities and into suburbs for blatantly racist reasons), and the fact that the federal government will go to war to provide cheap gasoline so people can drive everywhere. Government policy always favors the voting block with the most power and that happens to be middle class white folks who live almost exclusively in suburban developments. let's not pretend otherwise. Hanover township is a fat and powerful calf because of state and federal subsidy. For them to laugh at Allentown was the worst kind of hubris and shame.

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    4. Dreaming of JusticeMay 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      Publius, what about the taxpayers along the slate belt? Surely you can't mean there is laughter at Allentown among the wealthy class there. because there is no wealthy class there, or in Mahanoy City, or Shenandoah, or Jim Thorpe, or Tamaqua, or McAdoo, or Bloomsberg.. what suburbs and havens of wealth do you mean?

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    5. I mean mostly the big guys that surrond Allentown and the other cities (and took their middle class population during white flight): Lower mac. Upper Mac. South Whitehall, Hanover, etc. A year or two ago, statistics got published about how the NIZ would have effected smaller municipalities' EITs and the data showed there was virtually no impact. Maybe one or two workers. As I pointed out, the offenders are places with a large proportion of middle class folks who have gotten the political gravy for years. Like you note, these people don't really live in Mahanoy City or Bangor. In fact, I am all for small borough and villages that are actually walkable.

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    6. Dreaming of JusticeMay 16, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      But those slate belt folks pay taxes, too- and this NIZ takes their money too.

      I find this entire NIZ deal very suspect and smacking of cronyism. It's so blatant.

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    7. I mean, I pay taxes but don't drive a car and don't want my money going to pay for suburban road infrastructure---but it does. It is kind of the same argument. My main point is that these exurban townships have gotten every government break and subsidy for five decades---your slate belt money has been going to them so rich people could build McMansions and destroy farmland.

      And, how is this NIZ deal any different than the payouts given to suburban developers for decades. I don't like poltical process debates because political sausage making is ALWAYS terrible. So, its not really fair to single out the NIZ and say, see, this is bad and forget it happened for 50 years with the suburban developers.

      And one last point, the MCall reported about a month ago, that because of the new development, the NIZ is now generating so much in tax revenue that next year the state will not loose any net tax revenue (in fact they will be getting making more in taxes). And, that DOES help the slate belt. That is what people like Jon Geetign and I have been saying for years now: development in city has a multiplier effect which prints tax revenue. Allentown, the slate belt, and the Commonwealth is wealthier and better because of the NIZ. I'll do a post about this next week.

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  2. What Am I Geetign From Big Government?

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    1. That makes no sense. Geeting (and this blog) typically advocate for deregulatory / market based solutions to land use problems.

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  3. Ignore 530, that is no one other than Rolf Oeler trolling

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  4. 1. Why do you bother to write if you don't want to be read?

    2. Why do you ask people to comment if you really don't want to hear/read what they have to say?

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