Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Did Pawlowski encourage Jaindl to "Ante Up?"

One nice thing about the Internet is it allows campaign finance reports to be posted online, where everyone can see them. Unfortunately, much like the newspaper, people can still refuse to read them or ignore them all together.
   I don't ignore any of them, what I do is try to read between the lines.

   And on that note, I want to point out something that all the various reporters in local media may have unintentionally, or intentionally overlooked when it comes to the 2011 campaign finance report for the Entity known as "Friends of Ed Pawloski."

   Mayor Pawlowski was not up for reelection in 2011, but he raised a boatload of cash from all over the state. The list of donors was a who's who of the influential.

   But if there was one donation that caught my eye, (and there were many) that made me question the motivation for it, it was one made on 12/5/2011 by the president of the American bank, one Mark Jaindl.

   The Jaindl name means much in the Lehigh valley, not just for Turkeys, McMansions, or the Mother of all Warehouse districts, it also is emblazoned on an entire wing at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
     Make no mistake, when the Jaindl family puts their name and fortune behind a project, you can bet that the project will happen. I'm not arguing whether they are right or wrong, and this isn't about the quarry or any sweetheart deals with Township officials. Besides, that is more of an issue for David Jaindl.

   This is about Mark Jaindl giving $2000 to Ed Pawlowski within days of his investing Jaindl money into the proposed riverfront development down by the Lehigh Structural Steel property.

    Now I personally think that the Jaindl family pushing this is great news. Developing the waterfront, especially as to the Neuweiler Brewery Property is something the city, and the County needs. I'm not thrilled with the EIT tax grab, but that's not my focus here either.

     My focus here is the appearance that Ed Pawlowski demanded tribute from Mark Jaindl to smooth the project along.
   Why do I think this way?

    Mark Jaindl has been here all his life, Ed Pawlowski a decade at most. Since Pawlowski ran for mayor in 2005, I can't find one previous financial contribution to DEMOCRAT Ed Pawlowski anywhere from a member of the Jaindl family, who happen to be staunch Republicans.

   Sure I could have missed them, but really, the one I write about is right there on page 21 0f 28 of the campaign finance report for all to see. It is only two entries above the entry for $2000 from Chris Perrucci. Why isn't anyone in the mainstream media asking questions about that?

    The problem is that the public has a right to know how their elected officials are using public funds, and it always seems like campaign donations are nothing more than bidders trying to get a piece of the pie.

    In Mr. Jaindl's case, he doesn't need the money, the better analogy appears to be that of a new player at the Arena table in Allentown being forced to buy his way into the game.

     Everything that is going on is LEGAL. But excuse me for thinking that it just isn't right.

   If done the right way, with the right motivations, The arena project and surrounding development COULD, revitalize our urban core. But if it becomes a cesspool of greed and manipulated overpriced contracts like other projects around the country before it, Allentown could end up like Trenton. I believe that having the Jaindl family in the mix will prevent that. But I also fear that faced with dealing with political corruption and other unsavory variables, they might cut their losses and bail. They are not fools to be easily parted with their money, and if they see money going down a toilet, they won't go along.

   In this case, the ends do not justify the means. I am an avid student of history, and one thing I read again and again is that eventually people get too greedy and it leads to their down fall. What is taking place in Allentown/Lehigh County has eerie similarities to the Michael Soloman/Glenn Reibman fiasco in Northampton County just over a decade ago.
Those who ignore the past are destined to repeat it. In Ed Pawlowski's defense, he didn't get here until after that "Soloman goes to prison" went down.

   But that is still no excuse.

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