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JUly 5, 2005 Meeting Minutes
BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Tuesday, July 5, 2005 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President J. Michael Schweder called the meeting to order.
Father Carmen Bolock of Our Lord’s Ascension Polish
National Catholic Church offered the invocation which was
followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Jean Belinski,
Robert J. Donchez, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., Gordon B. Mowrer,
Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 6. Ismael Arcelay
was absent, 1.
4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The minutes of June 21, 2005 were approved.
5. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on ordinances
and resolutions to be voted on by Council this evening)
Zoning Text Amendment – Prohibiting Gambling in IR, IR-F, and HI Districts - BethWorks
Gary Straughan, 45 W. Church Street, informed the assembly that he is President of the Eastern District of the Moravian Church, an area that includes all of the congregations in Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley. Mr. Straughan said he brings a message regarding the gambling industry eyeing the Lehigh Valley for its next place of development, and specifically eyeing the land in Bethlehem formerly known as Bethlehem Steel. Mr. Straughan further said he speaks from his own heart and on behalf of Concerned Citizens for a Better Bethlehem. Mr. Straughan expressed appreciation for the leadership that the Mayor each Member of City Council gives to the City. Mr. Straughan commented that, even though he does not always agree with the decisions made, City officials do listen and usually do look at all sides of an issue before making a decision. Mr. Straughan applauded the courage of Council Members Mowrer and Leeson in presenting a proposed Ordinance regarding zoning for the proposed slots site. Pointing out the polls seem to indicate that about half of the residents of Bethlehem favor the addition of slots, and about half are opposed, Mr. Straughan remarked “no matter what decision you make, you will be out of favor with about half of Bethlehem. I plead with you to be out of favor with the other half – not my half.”
Mr. Straughan observed that, as an ordained clergy, he could preach a sermon in the time allotted regarding the sins of gambling and the morality and immorality that surround it. But, he said he does not believe he needs to do that. Mr. Straughan said “we all know that there is something inherently evil about gambling.” Citing a Moravian tradition used in prior times called "the lot", Mr. Straughan explained it was the conviction of those early Moravians that, after much prayer and soul-searching, they could receive an answer from God by putting the difficult question before them to the lot. They would chose one ballot from the lot box in which had been placed a "yes" ballot, a "no" ballot, and a blank ballot. They would then covenant to abide by the decision so rendered because they truly believed that God was a part of the process through their prayers and commitment to following God's leading. Mr. Straughan explained he used that as an example to point out that if anyone could convince him that, after much prayer and meditation, someone could honestly say that God has told them that bringing gambling to Bethlehem was God's will and desire, he might be open to changing his mind. Recounting he has been asked whether the church would accept money that was secured in morally questionable ways such as from gains a drug dealer has made, contributions from white-collar criminals, and so on, Mr. Straughan said his stock answer has been "sure, the devil has had it long enough, now let it be put to some good use." However, Mr. Straughan said he does not believe the same answer can be given regarding the proposed windfall that will come to the City, the county, the state, and private interests on governmental and bureaucratic levels as a result of gambling revenue. Mr. Straughan stated that if he could be convinced that wage-earners who pull in six-figure incomes are the only ones whose pockets will be fleeced by the gambling industry he might have a different opinion. However, Mr. Straughan said “we all know that most of the pockets that will be fleeced will be the pockets of those on fixed incomes, or those who do not make their child support payments, or those who do not have anything left to buy milk for the baby. Then, once those pockets are fleeced, it will be our duty to provide the social services that will then be needed – counseling centers, social services, welfare checks, food stamps. And have our state government officials done anything to increase those services? Well, the latest news out of Harrisburg is that our government officials restored $150 million of a $380 million cut in medical assistance, a net loss of $230 million, while at the same time granting themselves a 15% pay increase. Do we have any confidence that the state will ‘pony up’ funds for additional services that will be needed? If you think they will, I have some Florida land to sell you.” Mr. Straughan noted that the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has given the door of opportunity for local jurisdiction in the matter of community determination of its future with reference to the matter of the location of a slots parlor within a municipality. He added that the Pennsylvania Legislature is acting to close the gap and the door may be open for only a short period of time. Mr. Straughan stressed that Members of City Council have the opportunity to make a statement, and the proposed Ordinance from Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson is based on that opportunity. Mr. Straughan observed that development of the municipal enterprise is always of prime importance. Mr. Straughan stated that the nourishment of the citizens of the municipality, the development of jobs, the fostering of the atmosphere for the development of businesses large and small, the provision of a safe environment, and the opportunities for recreation are all vital as the City examines its priorities for the future.
Mr. Straughan remarked that into this environment has come a giant promise to provide instant cash and solutions for all of the economic needs of the community. He continued on to say that they have come because City officials and business owners of Bethlehem have already done a fine job of creating the type of environment that most citizens seek. They recognize the wonderful job that has been done by those who chose not to flee when the doors of Bethlehem Steel slammed shut. They have come because they recognize the entrepreneurial environment which they see as fields white for harvest. Mr. Straughan stated “we submit to you that they have not planted, nor watered, nor weeded, but they are more than willing to harvest. We ask you as the leaders of our City to make your voice known, not only to the citizens of the City of Bethlehem, but also to the Governor and our Representatives and Senators in Harrisburg who seem to believe they know best. Send a message to those who have bought the instant answer that you believe care and study is necessary before decisions are made. Tell the government leaders of the wonderful state of Pennsylvania that the promises of the gaming industry need careful examination. We ask you to reassure the citizens of Bethlehem that you have done and will do the careful examination of the facts. Take time to examine the web sites…on the internet…We urge you and the citizens of Bethlehem to examine the entire gamut of web sites. Carefully weigh the negatives as well as the positives. We have done so and have determined that Bethlehem is not like Atlantic City of the past, nor is it like Las Vegas where the gaming industry took hold without government regulation. The question is does Bethlehem need gaming to develop the site of the former Bethlehem Steel? We submit that the citizens of Bethlehem, in a careful and deliberate manner, using the intellectual capital of the Colleges and Universities of the Lehigh Valley, have spawned many business enterprises, and that more will be on the horizon. We submit this type of development is resilient in the long run when compared to the instant development and the inevitable bubble which bursts at some point in time. We urge the leaders of our community to look beyond the promise of $10 million, to the values of our City. Bethlehem was built using entrepreneurial energy. Men and women came from Europe and have invested their intellectual capital into a future which has been the envy of many a community. Values including hard work have been prized. We urge you to take this opportunity to zone gambling out of our area. We urge you to vote for the current level of progress. We urge you to vote to affirm the hard working citizens of Bethlehem who are invested into this community. We urge you to vote for the symbol of the Christmas City, whose light of peace on earth, good will to all still shines on a daily basis. Don't exchange the star of Bethlehem for the neon lights surrounding slot machines and beckoning those seeking instant riches.”
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, explaining the game of bingo, continued on to say if a person puts money into a slot machine and wins that is gambling. Mr. Antalics said the moral issue is what is right or wrong. Recounting that in Bethlehem churches historically saw fit to supplement their income by bingo, Mr. Antalics observed no one said a word because it supported the Church and the community. Mr. Antalics, stating he does not support gambling in the sense of what was just heard, expressed he is trying to put forward a common denominator. Mr. Antalics communicated that if one takes the need of the community beyond the need of the parish there is an exponential jump, “so all of a sudden gambling becomes unwelcome, not immoral, that is not the issue here. It becomes unwelcome because of the image.” Mr. Antalics said that Christian churches that supported and allowed gambling in their parish basements forfeited their moral right to reflect on the evils of gambling. Mr. Antalics noted as he reads the literature about what is going to happen to Bethlehem, the Bethlehem Bach Choir will suffer, the image of what was the community of Bethlehem will suffer because the Christmas City idea will be gone. However, Mr. Antalics pointed out that the Christmas City idea that came in 1937 was supported by a Sephardic Jew to unite Bethlehem with the unwelcome South Side. Mr. Antalics said the South Side had defiled Bethlehem from the Moravian point of view with Bethlehem Steel and Charles Schwab. Mr. Antalics, while commenting he is not saying yes or no to slots on the South Side, stated that slots will defile Bethlehem again because, he queried pragmatically, what would happen if tourism in Bethlehem is more concerned with the South Side than Main Street in the Christmas City. Mr. Antalics pointed out there is a vested economic interest in the Main Street and adjacent community with tourism and so on to keep Bethlehem as the Christmas City since a lot of money is made. Mr. Antalics remarked that the moral issue is not really being discussed or being stated in the newspapers. Noting that the President of Moravian College said he felt gambling would impact negatively on the enrollment rate at the college because people who are religiously strong would not want their children to attend college in a town where there is gambling, Mr. Antalics remarked “but he never mentioned the morality of the issue.” Mr. Antalics communicated he is coming to the conclusion that the Christian community had negated its ability to respond by the mere fact that they condone bingo, and so cannot say that gambling is bad. Mr. Antalics observed the majority of the complaints from the Moravian community have been what will happen to what they have. Mr. Antalics noted that at one point the Moravian community owned the Bethlehem community because if a person did not belong to the Moravian congregation they could not own property in Bethlehem. Mr. Antalics said “that heritage continues in terms of our town.” Mr. Antalics felt that in terms of gambling what is best for the City of Bethlehem belongs to the people who own Bethlehem, the registered citizens, who have the right to make the choice which is done by referendum. Mr. Antalics remarked that makes other communities such as Moravian, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal special interests. Mr. Antalics expressed the supposition that if Reverend Mowrer in conscience felt that gambling was good for the City he would be hard pressed to support gambling because as a spokesman for the Moravian community he would become an enemy of his own people. Mr. Antalics noted that Mr. Leeson is the legal representative for the Diocese of Allentown. As a result, Mr. Antalics said he would expect Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson to recuse themselves from the issue of gambling because of their strong vested interests. Mr. Antalics urged common sense since people negated their interest in the morality of the issue, and to allow the citizens of Bethlehem to make the decision by referendum that will then be the will of the people and not private interest groups.
Ron Angle, a member of Northampton County Council, thought one only has to go back a short way on the issue. Mr. Angle, noting gambling has come up many times in Pennsylvania, said people did not want it so it never was promoted by the State legislature. Mr. Angle, while expressing his agreement that whatever decision Council makes will be based on what they think is right for the people of Bethlehem, stressed he does not share that same feeling for the people who dwell in Harrisburg. Mr. Angle remarked “they make their decisions for a lot of other reasons than good reasons for what’s right for people.” Mr. Angle, restating that gambling was not wanted by people in Pennsylvania, observed that at 2:00 or 3:00 AM the State legislature invented Act 72 and Act 71 which was like the “bait number” and said gambling money would be given to schools since people are unhappy with school taxes. Affirming that Act 72 was “shot down”, Mr. Angle asserted “it was a lousy piece of legislation…”. Mr. Angle, commenting that Act 71 was basically the same thing, said “they’re putting that carrot out…of $10 million, and this illusion of all these great things will happen if only a gambling parlor can come to Bethlehem.” While stressing Bethlehem is a wonderful City, Mr. Angle acknowledged that when Bethlehem Steel Corporation closed Bethlehem fell on some hard times. He pointed out the City is working its way back, there are a lot of good people here, and a lot of great businesses. Mr. Angle, observing maybe it will take a few more years if Bethlehem does not have gambling, stressed the risks which he has studied that go with gambling “are enormous for what it could do to your City, a City with a marvelous image.” Mr. Angle noted he had a conversation in the British Virgin Islands about Musikfest with a New Jersey resident who came to the music festival every year, loved the City, and talked about perhaps moving to Bethlehem when he retires. Mr. Angle remarked there are some who perhaps would lay all this on the line, years of hard work, sweat and toil, “to take this flyer on gambling ‘cause there’s $10 million, the State’s put it before us. Well, remember the main thing the State was going to give you if you went along for the ride with gambling was tax relief on your school taxes, but your school district voted no along with 80% of the rest of the school districts which was the right vote…So, the only monies coming is the $10 million and the percentage, or whatever. Wherever you go and study gambling around the United States there is an enormous amount of pitfalls, an enormous demand for social services, much suffering.” Focusing on the 25 years gambling has been in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mr. Angle remarked “all those grand things that they were going to do for Atlantic City never came.” Mr. Angle asserted that “the greatest gamble will not be the gambling on the floor of that casino…The greatest gambling will come here probably in September as to whether or not there’s four votes by four of you to say you know it would be nice to make the fast money. Maybe we could do a number of things. But it’s not the right thing to do for this grand old City, and it’s not the right thing to do for the great people who live here. So, I would urge you to join Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson who came up with this legislation, and I’m sponsoring legislation before County Council on Thursday night for the County to take a position opposed to this gambling. And, I can tell you what it’s going to say in there is it’s not part of the program that the County sees for the whole County. This is a great County and a great City that’s on the move. There’s many great things happening. Why would we want to take all of the bad stuff that comes with gambling. I hope my colleagues vote for my legislation, and I hope when this comes before a vote by you good people that at least four of you, and my real hope would be all seven of you, would say, you know what, we owe it to those Moravian founders. We owe it to all the great people since the beginning of Bethlehem, to the great people who are here today. Because all those wonderful shops and merchants and restaurants that you hear people saying that own them, this isn’t good for us. It’s not going to do anything [for us]. They’re right. It’s not going to. For that $10 million carrot and whatever else goes along with it there’s going to be so much suffering with your merchants, your people, with traffic, you’ll tax your police department, the people who will lose their homes, the people who’ll become addicted, it’s endless…”. Mr. Angle said “great leaders sometimes are those people who make those decisions which aren’t easy. But they bite the bullet and they make what is the right decision, even though they may make…50% of enemies. I’m for you, for the City of Bethlehem, and for all the great people since the beginning of Bethlehem right on up to today. I would appreciate and I would strongly urge you to support Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer’s legislation. It’s the right legislation.”
Karen Trianfo, 124 Independence Court, said she was at the meeting about a month or two ago at the church on the South Side when the developer gave a presentation. Ms. Trianfo, noting there were about 300 people or more at the meeting, noted there were some incredible drawings of what could happen on the South Side with the proposed development, including shops, restaurants, and museums. Ms. Trianfo remarked that at the very end of the presentation they presented the casino and said “the only way we can do this is with this.” Ms. Trianfo thought the 50% of the people who are voting for the casinos think they only way the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property can be revitalized is through the casino. Ms. Trianfo stated she does not agree with that, and thought there are a lot of people in the town who know there are other ways that the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property can be made into a great place without casinos. Ms. Trianfo informing the assembly she is from Baltimore, Maryland, advised that a great example is Inner Harbor that was not a great place in the past, and the city was on the downward slide. Then, she pointed out, Rouse Company put in a few shops, businesses, and restaurants, and “it started happening. It took a while, but now it’s one of the best tourist attractions in this country…It makes money. It’s turned around the city. It’s a great place to be.” Ms. Trianfo further notified the assembly she was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey where her grandparents lived while she lived in Baltimore. She visited them on weekends through the 1960’s and 1970’s. Noting that Atlantic City was on a downslide, but it was a safe place, and there were businesses, Ms. Trianfo said she went to the beach, and it was a nice place for the residents. Ms. Trianfo advised that her grandfather thought that casinos would turn around the City, bring in businesses, and help the economy. Ms. Trianfo stressed that today Atlantic City does not look like Atlantic City any more, everything is about the casinos, the people who could afford to live there cannot live there any more, people sold out, there is a lot of poverty, and there is a lot of crime. Ms. Trianfo asserted “it’s not the answer.” Ms. Trianfo said she knows it looks like a quick answer, and like “this is the way to fix it.” Ms. Trianfo stated it will take some time and creativity to bring the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation property back. Ms. Trianfo asserted that “over a process of ideas and time, we can make something happen there.” Ms. Trianfo expressed the hope that Council will take the time to consider the people in this area, and how it is going to affect their children and grandchildren. Ms. Trianfo noted she asked the developer why he could not just develop the area but not put in the casino and was told “I want to see this done in my lifetime, because I can’t…take my time over 20 years and build these shops, and stores, and restaurants. I want to see it happen right away.” Ms. Trianfo noted the casino could be put in and one does not know how long it will take for the other things to happen. Ms. Trianfo continued on to say that, in the meantime, there will be other issues such as moral and social. Ms. Trianfo, asking Council to really think about the issue, stressed “this is a big decision for our town. We have a beautiful town. We’re up and coming. People are moving here from New Jersey, New York, from all over. We’re not on the downside. We’re on the upside. So, why are doing this…”
Florence Kimball, 1715 Elm Street said she works at Moravian College, and is speaking on behalf of a newly formed and growing group, Valley Citizens for Casino-free Development, VCCD. Expressing her understanding that Act 71 does not give City Council any official voice with respect to siting a casino, Ms. Kimball stated, however, that Council is not barred from taking a position nor from making a statement to the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission on what Council feels is in the best interest of the City. Ms. Kimball expressed the hope that Council will take such a position and will recommend that the Commission not approve a license for a casino in Bethlehem. Advising that Valley Citizens for Casino-free Development supports economic development in Bethlehem and elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley, Ms. Kimball informed the Members that the group believes a casino is not the appropriate engine to drive development for two reasons. First, casino gambling inevitably brings social problems in its wake. Promoting gambling to further any project for the common good is like promoting cigarette smoking in order to raise funds for cancer research. The proposal is inherently contradictory. She continued on to say the second reason why VCCD opposes introducing casino gambling is that the proposition that a casino will drive economic development is flawed. A stand-alone slots casino will not be a major tour destination for international or out of state visitors. Rather, it will draw most users and income from a 50 mile radius. The casino profits will come from the pockets of Bethlehem and other Lehigh Valley citizens. While some revenue will return to the City and some funds may be available for tax reduction, a large chunk of local money will flow out of state, into the pockets of the casino owners. Ms. Kimball remarked that, while some people in the community will be better off, more will see a worsening of their financial situation. Moreover, she asserted that much of the money that would return to the City would be consumed by the additional municipal and human services that would be needed. Ms. Kimball communicated that money that flows into casinos and out of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley is money that is not available to help support local businesses. She further stressed that problem gamblers are problems not only for themselves and their families, but for a host of other enterprises that are impacted by bankruptcies and embezzlements. Ms. Kimball pointed out that there is a domino effect. Ms. Kimball explained that VCCD would like to see the Lehigh Valley and all of Pennsylvania develop in ways that are economically and socially sound. Ms. Kimball stated that the group urges City Council to carefully consider the negative impacts of introducing a casino in the Lehigh Valley. Ms. Kimball said that the group encourages Council to take all steps available to prevent a casino from being located in Bethlehem or elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley.
Bridget George, 92 South Penn Dixie Road, Nazareth, advised
she lived on the South Side for 25 years, raised her children
there, and works in Bethlehem. Ms. George communicated she
was disturbed about a previous speaker categorizing things
that have been said to oppose gambling as special interests.
Advising she was at a meeting last week held by Northampton
County, Ms. George expressed what impressed her about the
more than 200 attendees was the diversity of perspective,
and eloquent remarks against gambling as a solution for the
City. Ms. George felt that each person was coming from their
knowledge and each was dedicated to looking, as are the Mayor
and City Council, at what is best for Bethlehem. Ms. George
said morality in its essence is the golden rule in looking
at what is best for the whole and best for the City’s
neighbors. Ms. George continued on to say that is the spirit
in which each person spoke. Ms. George informed the assembly
that among the speakers at the meeting were public school
teachers who talked about how the problems in education are
not primarily solved by money but by what is happening to
the families and environment of the children, to John Howell,
former president and chief executive officer of the former
First Valley Bank, who spoke about economic development and
how it is based on the reputation of the City. Ms. George
related that if the wrong things are done for development
then all of the good community and economic development is
discouraged, and it starts a downward, bad reputation with
all of the social ills of the City. Ms. George explained there
were so many good cases, people spoke with sincerity, and
people examined the issue whether from the perspective of
their church, their business, or their arts institutions for
the good of everyone. Advising that her experience comes from
the Touchstone Theater on the South Side, and the Bach Choir
on the North Side, Ms. George said it is through that work,
and it is not to do with those institutions, but it is to
do with understanding the City in all its aspects, and what
makes the City nationally and internationally renowned as
a very special place. Ms. George explained “that’s
why the resistance. That’s why the resistance in places
like Gettysburg.” Ms. George pointed out that Binney
and Smith Corporation has a corporate position statement against
gambling because of the experience of their parent company
in Kansas City with the riverboats and the way the corporate
community was decimated. Ms. George expressed that she believes
passionately what other people have said that “with
patience we can do what you’re all trying to do which
is the…very…important development of that [former
Bethlehem] Steel land, without it being casino driven.”
Bonnie Dodge, resident of Northampton, said she was born and raised in Nazareth, and also lived in Bethlehem. Ms. Dodge said “I have to tell you what’s in my heart…What’s in my heart is very simply biblical and that is the Lord said that he would write on our minds and our hearts the second covenant, and that’s how we are to live our lives…[I]n my mind and in my heart I know gambling is wrong…I think that it is entirely a moral issue, not a Moravian issue, not any denomination. It has nothing to do with bingo. I think it’s moral because what we teach our children is what they’re going to teach their children. And, I think that if we approve of gambling, and we look at gambling as being something which is a good thing, we encourage it. Then, we’re encouraging our children to do something which I believe is sinful and wrong.” Advising she attended a conference in Las Vegas, and played a slot machine for a short time, Ms. Dodge remarked she knows that she can throw her money away in any number of ways. Ms. Dodge stressed she does not want her children and grandchildren educated by gambling money, and does not want them to think that gambling is something they should look at as being a positive thing because she cannot find anything positive in it. Ms. Dodge asserted “we would have to make in Bethlehem more than Atlantic City and Las Vegas makes together as a profit in order to have enough money to benefit in this community and in schools. And, it’s not only Bethlehem that will be affected. It is all the communities in the area. It is everybody, the Lehigh Valley entirely and then some. It’s not going to be just here.” Ms. Dodge said another thing that troubles her a great deal is that the people in Harrisburg have targeted for gambling the two most historic areas in Pennsylvania: Bethlehem and Gettysburg. Ms. Dodge continued on to remark “…if you don’t like the traffic at Musikfest, you’re going to really hate it if there’s gambling in South Bethlehem, because the number of buses they’ll bring in, the lack of parking, is going to be a tremendous problem. And, yes, the services will go up, all the expenses will go up. But, from a totally practical perspective as a human being who cares about people, I can’t imagine doing it.” Expressing that she knows City officials are caring, concerned, and dedicated people, Ms. Dodge said she has no problem believing they are going to make the best decision they can. Ms. Dodge continued on to say “I know your decision will not only affect Bethlehem, though, I know it will affect everybody else…”. Informing the assembly that Northampton School District is the second highest in the problem with guns, and Easton is first, Ms. Dodge remarked “so nobody can possibly say that it’s not going to hit the other communities.” Ms. Dodge expressed her belief that “when you look at this whole issue of gambling, if your heart knows that it’s wrong, then there’s no way else to look at it but it’s wrong. People can justify it for whatever reason they want…”. Ms. Dodge expressed her thought that “good human beings have to take a stand. And they have to do what they can to preserve the best values, and to take care of what God’s given us to take care of…I also believe that it has to be done by zoning, and resolution…And, I know as well that we have to un-elect people who are in Harrisburg right now…and put somebody in there who’s not going to try to push through an eleventh hour bill in order to pass gambling while we’re all asleep. We can’t just turn our backs on it, and that’s why I’m here. I can’t turn my back on this issue even though it’s not my problem, it’s your problem. But, it’s going to be my problem if you allow gambling here.” Ms. Dodge related that she sees a lot of improvement on the South Side, and expressed her impression that people there have a pride in their community. Ms. Dodge felt that if things are torn down to put up hotels and other buildings in order to accommodate casinos then “you’re destroying something that’s very essential…”.
Luis Ortiz, 1436 E. Fifth Street, of Casa Refugio, said he is against gambling by faith. Explaining that the organization is committed to transform the lives of the drug addict into their faith-based skills and life skills training, Mr. Ortiz stated he is against it by experience. Mr. Ortiz added that they are trying to rescue people on the South Side, helping them to overcome their addictions. Mr. Ortiz communicated that by “having a casino placed on our back yard is not making our job any easier.” Mr. Ortiz, advising he was a drug addict for 15 years, stressed that he knows what addiction can do to somebody’s life. Mr. Ortiz said it destroys the family, self-esteem, and it takes people to a lower point than one can imagine in a person. Mr. Ortiz, remarking it has been said there is a big difference between drug addiction and gambling, stated “you’re right, there is. Gambling is legal.” Relating that he has seen a rebirth on the South Side, Mr. Ortiz noted he has seen the Latino community going forth, and moving from the welfare system, buying houses, and establishing their families. Mr. Ortiz expressed his belief “…we’re going to be hurt because gambling is going to bring a lot of side effects with it, prostitution, alcoholism, addiction.” Mr. Ortiz, relating that he saw people playing slot machines in the bathroom in Las Vegas, asserted “that tells you how bad the problem is.” Mr. Ortiz encouraged Council to think about the issue because there is a better way to improve the City.
Bruce Haines, 65 W. Market Street, informed the assembly that he opposes gambling for lifestyle reasons and life experience reasons. Mr. Haines noted that he became associated with Bethlehem over 40 years ago when he attended Lehigh University. He left Bethlehem to work in Pittsburgh, but came back to Bethlehem regularly over 35 years, and about 10 years ago he and his wife retired to Bethlehem “because it’s a wonderful town.” Mr. Haines explained that he opposes gambling because it radically changes the fundamental fabric of Bethlehem, it fundamentally will change the reason why he elected to retire here, and it fundamentally changes the reason why he elected to make an investment on the North Side in his home and business. Mr. Haines advised that he experienced through his years in the Steel business towns that tried to save themselves by casino gambling such as in Joliet, Illinois, Gary, Indiana, and Wheeling, West Virginia. Mr. Haines stated that not one of the towns economically benefited from what happened there as a result of bringing in gambling. Mr. Haines continued on to say it was not the panacea expected, the deterioration of the town continued, and the lifestyles of the people he knew were destroyed including a family member of his who, because of the availability of a slots parlor in Wheeling, West Virginia, had ruined her marriage, her life, and her check every month went to people to whom she owed money. Mr. Haines notified the assembly that as one leaves the gambling casino in the town of Wheeling the first sign that is seen lists an 800 number and says for gambling anonymous call the number. Mr. Haines, stressing he does not want to see that happen to Bethlehem, communicated that Bethlehem is a wonderful town with a great heritage, great educational institutions, great culture, and is the reason he came here. Mr. Haines, highlighting the fact that the California legislature elected to stop a gambling casino because it was seven miles from the University of California at Berkeley, pointed out that Lehigh University and Moravian College are within one mile of where a gambling casino is proposed in South Bethlehem. Mr. Haines remarked there are plenty of studies that show the impact on students and college students of gambling and social ills to the colleges. Mr. Haines said “please do not stall the resolutions being proposed by Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson. Do not linger, and get the resolution passed before the Pennsylvania legislators once again attempt to take away local control that will ruin and radically change the culture of a wonderful town, Bethlehem.”
Matt Deschler, 2008 Carol Avenue, said he is at the meeting in support of gambling in South Bethlehem. Mr. Deschler stated that he knows both Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer are trying to act in the best interests of Bethlehem, and he respects both of them for that. Mr. Deschler commented that he happens to disagree on this matter for a number of reasons. Mr. Deschler, noting that someone said gambling is wrong, recounted that in the past people in the country thought consuming alcohol was wrong, the 18th amendment was passed, and later people decided that was incorrect and free will should generally dictate behavior. Mr. Deschler observed that “simply because something is personally wrong to us doesn’t mean that we should impose it on others.” Mr. Deschler, rejecting the premise that gambling is inherently evil, advised that his family goes to Stone Harbor, New Jersey every year, and his father and uncles go to Atlantic City for the day and come back with their wallets intact. Mr. Deschler further related that a few years ago his uncle took his family to Las Vegas, his marriage did not break up, and his family enjoyed it. Mr. Deschler remarked that virtually anything taken in excess can have adverse consequences. Mr. Deschler commented that he disagrees with those who say “gambling is wrong for me therefore nobody should gamble.” Referring to a previous speaker who wanted the 50% who oppose gambling to be imposed on those who support gambling, Mr. Deschler expressed that he knew the vast majority of citizens at the meeting would oppose gambling since it is the nature of people who are opposed to something to come out in force against it. Mr. Deschler felt the significant silent portion of the citizens of the City who are in favor of gambling or are indifferent to it should be considered. Mr. Deschler observed that, in view of the City’s current financial situation given the Hirko settlement and the water fund, the $10 million host fee to the City along with the approximate $800 million in development would be especially beneficial. Turning to those who say without gambling that development will progress and there will still be a flourishing Bethlehem Works area on the South Side, Mr. Deschler said he would like them to look at the last 9 years since the Bethlehem Works plan was unveiled in 1996. He noted that development has been “terribly tepid”, with the Skate Zone built since that time. Mr. Deschler, questioning if the residents of the City are prepared to wait another 10 years for two more buildings, commented maybe that is what people want. Mr. Deschler, referring to the Las Vegas Sands plan for the Bethlehem Works site, noted that Mr. Gosin, the developer, said without the casino he can continue with development but it will be a much smaller scale than with the casino. Mr. Deschler further noted the developer indicated that he would be able to preserve far fewer of the historic structures on the former Bethlehem Steel site without the revenues associated with the gambling enterprise. Consequently, Mr. Deschler observed that the integrity of the historic buildings stand a greater chance of being preserved with gambling on South Side Bethlehem. Mr. Deschler noted that in 10 years or however long it takes, if the State legislature does not revoke the City’s right to decide on gambling as a local matter, and Council does pass a measure that would ban gambling in Bethlehem, people might come back to the City and walk around what will become Bethlehem Works and see a few apartment buildings, office buildings, a strip mall “and say we waited this long for this.” Mr. Deschler, stressing there is a chance to make Bethlehem a kind of hub of the Lehigh Valley and an exciting place to be, thought “this is it. Without the casino in Bethlehem that simply doesn’t happen.” Expressing the opinion that people will not be interested in the Bethlehem Works site without casino gambling, Mr. Deschler remarked “people aren’t going to come just to stare up at the blast furnaces. We need something to draw people there. The…Museum of Industrial History has gone no where. We need something to draw people to the South Side, and to the Bethlehem Works. And, for better or worse, this is it.” Mr. Deschler urged Council to think of the best interests of the City from a financial standpoint, and even from a moral standpoint to give people their own free will to decide this. Mr. Deschler thought if the decision is made to accept gambling in South Bethlehem the residents of the City will thank you tomorrow.
Robert Burkey, said he was born in Bethlehem in 1942, his parents came to Bethlehem to work at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and he worked there also for 37 years. Mr. Burkey pointed out there are five blast furnaces that are the City’s history, there are buildings at the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation plant that are the City’s history. Mr. Burkey said “people should vote for the casino for the taxes. The jobs that were lost at the Steel company will be back again with people working in the casinos, the restaurants, the theaters, and all the buildings, and all the tax revenue will come back to the City of Bethlehem. Advising he lost benefits and has to pay $1,400 a month for health benefits, Mr. Burkey affirmed that he pays City taxes, his taxes go up, and stated that with a casino development it would relieve some of his tax bills. Mr. Burkey highlighted the fact that the last building built by the Moravians on Union Boulevard was made with Russian steel when Bethlehem Steel Corporation was still in existence. Mr. Burkey, communicating he would like to see the casinos come to Bethlehem, further noted it was said that the development of the Bethlehem Works site could come in five years with a casino but in ten years without it. Mr. Burkey, pointing out that people get on a bus to go to Atlantic City every day, and people can buy lottery tickets at any gas station in Bethlehem, remarked “I guess that’s not gambling.”
Chris Erto, 1032 Crawford Street, advising that he bought a house about eight months ago, explained the best option was for him to live in Bethlehem because Bethlehem has a lot going for it. Mr. Erto continued on to say it is a City with pride and with passion. Mr. Erto related that when the issue of a casino in Bethlehem came up, he had to do a lot of thinking. Mr. Erto communicated he now has a better appreciation for hearing the passion of people who pay taxes and wonder where their money is going, and their concern for the community. Mr. Erto, noting that he bought his house for about $150,000 and the same house next door just sold for $175,000, remarked it is amazing the way the price of real estate is going up and said “people are being priced out.” Referring to the proposal for a casino on the South Side as the answer to the problems or at least helping with the problems, Mr. Erto pointed out that he came to Bethlehem because he wanted to be part of the community and is afraid that if there is gambling in the community it will drive the residents out. Mr. Erto stressed that residents have been coming back to Bethlehem as has been stated before. Mr. Erto highlighted the plans for a 17 story building on North Street, and the building on Broad Street. Continuing on to observe “we have residents that want to come back to our neighborhoods to build our community”, Mr. Erto said “I want to see a Bethlehem that has walking neighborhoods, that doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of a casino in the background. Yes, Bethlehem Steel closed. We all still feel that…This whole area will always remember Bethlehem Steel. But, I don’t want them to always remember casinos here in Bethlehem.” Mr. Erto stressed that whatever decision is made “we’ll all live with this decision.” Mr. Erto acknowledged that gambling in general is a big decision, and that Council has a big decision ahead of them “with a lot of help to sway.” Mr. Erto did not think that Bethlehem should have gambling. Mr. Erto pointed out that the decision made by Council “will be here today, it’ll be here after you all decide that either you’re unelected, or you decide not to run, or you move out.” Mr. Erto, reiterating that he just bought his house, said “I really don’t want to move to get away from the traffic, the logistic problems.” Informing the assembly that he works “in Philadelphia because they’re aren’t manufacturing jobs here in the Valley that support living here,” Mr. Erto continued on to say that jobs is something that should be focused on, not casino jobs, and not jobs that have tainted money with it, but rather “legitimate, hard-working, honest, American jobs.” Questioning “why don’t we open up businesses,” Mr. Erto expressed the opinion that “we can easily open up businesses. We can start our own jobs…This is something that America was founded upon. We can do it. We’ve done it. Bethlehem Steel closed. Did we fall over and say…we’re all going to leave. No, we picked ourselves up, we dusted ourselves off, and we moved forward. And that’s what we’re going to have to do, and continue to do.” Mr. Erto thanked Mr. Mowrer and Mr. Leeson for their proposal, and suggested that Council think long and hard over the decision, and added it will be one of the toughest decisions they will ever make in their entire local career.
Rita Bitner, 924 Walters Street, stated that in a New York Times article from 1987 it said that more than 80% of compulsive gamblers who eventually sought help admitted that in pursuing their addiction they had committed felony crimes. The American Insurance Institute estimated that as many as 40% of all white collar crimes have compulsive gambling as their cause. Ms. Bitner thought that if gambling is allowed in Bethlehem “we’re opening up a Pandora’s box of many social ills that we won’t be able to even guess the ripple effects of it.” Ms. Bitner said that when people have an addiction to gambling they usually begin stealing against their families first, then commit crimes against the community, there is an increase in domestic quarrels, and all the social ills after that. Referring to the statement that there is a silent majority or people who are indifferent to gambling in Bethlehem, Ms. Bitner remarked “so that should make it okay. I wonder how silent they’ll be or how indifferent they’ll feel when they see the effects that happen to them when their business becomes fleeced by employees because they’re gambling, or when their job is robbed because somebody needed to get some more funds to promote this habit.” Ms. Bitner asserted that social ills that will be created by the people who will be gambling are going to effect everyone in this room and every one of their children. Ms. Bitner thought if Bethlehem can be kept the Christmas City and promote the businesses here, then slower might be better in view of the adage “haste makes waste.” Ms. Bitner expressed that “if we hastily bite this dangling carrot and say, okay, we want this $10 million now, then we can create a lot of human waste and a lot of suffering in Bethlehem.”
David Bell, 123 E. Goepp Street, advised he has lived in Bethlehem since he was 12 years old. Noting he is currently a senior at Lehigh University, communicated that he loves living here. Mr. Bell, informing the assembly he has three children, said he does not want them to grow up in a place where they can run into a person on the street who asks them if they have a quarter since if they could get one more quarter they “know that slot machine has my name on it…”. Repeating that he really wants to live here, Mr. Bell said he does not think he wants to live here if it is going to be like that. Mr. Bell thought if a gambling casino is allowed to be in Bethlehem then he is afraid that his family will have to leave.
Phil Osborne, 730 Pawnee Street, said he loves the City of Bethlehem, was born and raised here. Mr. Osborne expressed his feeling that “we’re…about nine years behind on these meetings and our aggression to stop what is going on here.” Mr. Osborne thought this should have started when Bethlehem Steel closed its doors, and citizens should have been anxious to invest heart and soul in what was going to take over the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation land. Informing the assembly that is in his real estate career he has been following the Bethlehem Works project closely, Mr. Osborne said when he saw there were no local investors it really affected him, and he wondered where are all the local people who are going to provide funding for economic development in the South Side. Communicating that he wants the South Side to be a beautiful place to live where he can raise his children, Mr. Osborne stated he loves the South Side, and is going to do everything he can to see the South Side preserved. Mr. Osborne stressed he does not believe that a casino will in any way preserve the amazing asset that the South Side is, especially the Bethlehem Steel land. Mr. Osborne related the reason why he thinks the former Bethlehem Steel property is a goldmine is because it is in the center between North and South Bethlehem that are two culturally diverse neighbors. He thought that if the vision for the land could be lifted higher then something could be created there that would benefit both communities, and unity could be seen in regards to ethnicity and cultural differences. Mr. Osborne, querying whether the City is struggling and having a hard time that it needs to get rich quick, felt that the City will fall into a huge trap if it wants this quick money. Mr. Osborne said he is going to work hard, is going to persevere, is going to be patient, and is not going to try to push something that should not happen. Mr. Osborne thought it is time for the community to be as proactive as possible now to do everything that it can, put its money where its mouth is, not just talk about it, invest, purchase things, and talk to people. Mr. Osborne expressed his opinion that “we’re not just going to get by in just waiting for outside people…Do you think the outside investors care anything about this community at all. No, obviously they don’t. All they care about is the money.” Mr. Osborne encouraged the local community to focus on small business, and added that people can work together with commercial investors locally to have a joint small business and commercial development that is smart and has common sense attached to it. Mr. Osborne thought the economics will match up if the development is not rushed and is not trying to “glitz and glam what’s going on here by placing a casino here.”
David Avedon, 910 Fifth Avenue, said compared to gambling casinos bingo is an amazingly efficient mechanism because there is no overhead, “and everybody goes to bingo understanding what they’re really doing is charity for the church. Nobody goes to bingo because they’re trying to get rich, or lose their day job.” Mr. Avedon stated there is a classic distinction between Catholic and Protestant churches, and to attack the Moravians on this issue is to say one does not understand the history of gambling, and Protestant and Catholic churches. Mr. Avedon stressed that the religious communities are entitled to representation in the domestic affairs of the City. Mr. Avedon remarked “you’re not given a mission to attract as many people to the South Side as possible. Your mission is to have a City that as many people would want to come to as possible.” Mr. Avedon said he would like to hear a rational explanation for the morality behind gambling all together. Mr. Avedon, questioning “what is it that you really teach your children when they win at gambling” asserted “what they’ve just learned is that mom and dad are talking that working hard is important, that grades are important, and that’s not really true. What’s really true is whether the slot machine likes me, and I won my slot machine.” Mr. Avedon stressed that is not a lesson that is going to produce in the long run citizens that will build industries and build businesses that people want to have in the community. Mr. Avedon said “gambling is inherently wrong” and added “the fact that the State permits it doesn’t make it one wit better. It just means that politicians at the State level are now addicted to gambling income.”
Dean Bruch, 625 Hawthorne Road, commenting that one has to look at what Bethlehem came from, said Bethlehem had its prostitution on the South Side, gambling, and riots. He continued on to recount that Charles Schwab started the foundry and afterwards there was a prosperous Bethlehem Steel. Mr. Bruch queried “with a prosperous Bethlehem Steel no longer in your pocket, or in your bank, what’s going to happen.” Mr. Bruch said “if you want to correct your problems here, you’ve got to correct them in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh ‘cause those are the people that are shovin’ this down your throat. And, if you don’t do something about that in the near future, if this passes here, you’re having the wool pulled over your eyes. Because anybody that thinks gambling is an added attraction, sure it is, long as you got the buck to go there and spend it. When you don’t have it, you go down there, and then you walk around…don’t cost you nothing. You can go to all the malls and walk all day.” Mr. Bruch expressed the opinion that the State has a lottery because “they couldn’t manage the money properly.” Mr. Bruch remarked “don’t vote them in no more.” Mr. Bruch expressed the hope that everybody does the right thing by what they want done here. Mr. Bruch said “if you can go to bed with a clear conscience and vote for what people don’t want, then maybe we won’t want you to run later neither…”. Mr. Bruch asked Council to remember “there’s a repercussion for any bad thing that you vote on that shouldn’t inherently been done.”
Stephanie Trovato, 2641 Madison Avenue, said she is a teacher at Fountain Hill Elementary School, and lived in Las Vegas from 2 years old until she went to college. Ms. Trovato said after college she taught for several years in Las Vegas “and it wasn’t a good place to teach. And Bethlehem will no longer be a good place to teach if we have gambling. Where there are slot machines they practically give the alcohol away to encourage people to stay…and gamble longer.” Ms. Trovato, advising she teaches at risk students, stressed “their parents are going to be the ones…getting the jobs in the casinos…They hardly can supervise their kids as it is, and now there’s going to be more issues on them.” Ms. Trovato noted that one of her family’s favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” and she feels like Bethlehem is “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and added “we have a wonderful place here.” Ms. Trovato, relating a scene from the movie, said Council “can refuse that cigar and keep Bethlehem Bethlehem, or you can play ball and watch this turn into Pottersville which none of us want.”
Margo Ging, 806 High Street, said she grew up and attended schools in Bethlehem. Ms. Ging, informing the assembly she has lived and worked in three casino towns, communicated she has had the complete experience of that good and bad, but mostly bad. Ms. Ging further notified the assembly a close family relative went through a gambling addiction and “is no longer with us.” Ms. Ging expressed through all of that her refuge and safe haven was Bethlehem. Ms. Ging pleaded with Council to “please do not take my haven away from me.”
Mike Stauffer, 909 Cayuga Street, said he has lived in Bethlehem for 25 years. Mr. Stauffer advised that he wants to talk about the difference between a gift and a legacy. Mr. Stauffer recounted that when he got out of the Marines at 21 years of age his father gave him a “gift” of $900 to purchase a used car, but “it wasn’t a gift my dad gave me, it was a legacy…of getting up every day, going to work, working hard…coming home, and getting up and doing it all over again.” Mr. Staffer continued on to say he saw his father model that for him for 25-30 years. Pointing out that he will be paying his local City tax and water bills tomorrow, Mr. Stauffer stressed that he brings “to the table contribution and production of wealth, not the transferring of wealth, not the taking of wealth.” Mr. Stauffer explained that today he was trying to pour into his son’s life the legacy that his father gave him in talking to his son about school, careers, and being an honorable, respectful man. Mr. Stauffer further related that while driving with his son today his son pointed and said “I heard that’s where they’re going to be putting the casinos…Well, then, boy, if people go there and win, they don’t have to work hard, do they.” Mr. Stauffer noted that he told his son that “astronomically few people are going to win. The real heroes, the people that are going to be guaranteed to make it are the ones that are going to get up every day, and trump off to their…job, [and] be contributing producers, not transfers [of] wealth.” Mr. Stauffer, communicating that he has respect for the government, said he does not think this is a religious against non-religious issue. Rather, he said “the issue is whether we produce or whether we just move wealth around.”
Judy Ruth, 2017 Ridgelawn Avenue, said she was born and raised in Bethlehem. Ms. Ruth, stating that people are looking at the carrot of $10 million that the City is supposedly getting, stressed she was very upset when she found out about gambling coming into the City. Ms. Ruth, affirmed that she wrote letters to the Members of Council, the Mayor, the Governor, and the Gaming Board. Ms. Ruth received a letter back from the Gaming Board telling her they were going to earmark each year $5 million to beef up local police departments to handle the crime problem, and $1.5 million to handle gambling addictions problems. Ms. Ruth exclaimed the amount of money is “a drop in the bucket. It’s no where going to be near what’s going to be needed to take care of the social ills that this is going to produce.” Ms. Ruth, referring to the $230 million deficit already in human services, advised she works in human services for Lehigh County’s office on aging, and one of the things she deals with are financial exploitation. Informing the assembly the agency is already at the limit and there is an influx of cases, Ms. Ruth asserted that the social ills are not going to just hit aging, but also children and youth, domestic relations, mental health and retardation, the rescue missions, the shelters, Turning Point, Center City Ministries, and every other agency that provides services for the people who are going to be affected. Ms. Ruth questioned “where do you think the money is going to be coming from to support this, just the County services alone. It’s going to be coming out of increased County taxes. So, what people think they’re going to be making up in money coming in from gambling is going to go right out to support the County taxes to support the human services that we need.” Ms. Ruth asked that Council really think about the issue.
Valeria Tatlow, 1231 E. Mechanic Street, stated that she shows her children the structure to the east of Minsi Trail Bridge that was used at the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation plant. Advising that she moved away from Bethlehem when she married, Ms. Tatlow said her friend sent her a Moravian Star that she hung on her porch and she also lit a candle in each window. Ms. Tatlow explained to those who asked her about the Moravian Star that it was a symbol of Bethlehem where she had lived. Continuing on to note that many military people have some inference to the Moravian Star in Bethlehem and the symbol that it is, Ms. Tatlow said she would “hate to see that symbol of Bethlehem turned from a Moravian Star to quarters or dice. That’s not what I want the City to be remembered for.” Ms. Tatlow communicated that she is a member of a special interest group being her family and others, and stressed “none of us like the idea. My sister’s leaving Bethlehem.” Ms. Tatlow, informing the assembly that she came back to Bethlehem two years ago, said unfortunately she is thinking that maybe leaving might have to be the next option.
Eddie Rodriquez, 436 Pawnee Street, expressing he is glad that people are sticking up for what is right, noted it is something he has been saying for years and thought he was the only one. Mr. Rodriquez observed that by sticking together he feels there is a sense of unity. Mr. Rodriquez, thanking the different City departments for their combined efforts and assistance, expressed that he makes a voluntary and continuous effort to help the community. Mr. Rodriquez said, realistically, “we must own up to what’s really out there, and face the issues which are facing our families, our parents, our children, our future…I just can’t see gambling being the solution, the alternative for some of this, and that’s the reason why I do what I do in the community…”. Mr. Rodriquez stressed that, along with the drug trade, other issues in the City are hang-outs, prostitution and its diseases, gangs, litter, vandalism, car and property theft, accidents, domestic violence, graffiti, speeding, and garbage throughout the City. Asserting that crime and violence is worse now than ever, and people are murdered, knifed, and stabbed, Mr. Rodriquez said “and yet some of us still think…that those kinds of incidents won’t happen to us. They are happening right now. In our own midst, they are happening right now. We must face the issues now that we have been seeing over the years. But how do we resolve them. Is it by bringing gambling into a City that we respect, we honor and obey. And yet, we think of it…like the Christmas City. Let’s try and keep it that way.” Mr. Rodriquez communicated that people sit back and allow these incidents of negativity to control the community. Mr. Rodriquez felt that Police most times are helpless because some people are intimidated or afraid to stand up and get involved because they are afraid of retaliation. Mr. Rodriquez queried “are we so foolish ourselves to allow others to control our City with their evil intentions and ways, or will we try our best to be counted. Why have we established rules, laws, and ordinances if they are not enforced. Our parks are being exposed daily to drug activity and trash. People in our City must be made accountable for their negative ways and negligent ways.” Mr. Rodriquez remarked that gambling is another issue to strongly consider because it will also bring much more of what he has already explained tonight and what he has been saying all along. Mr. Rodriquez, noting that the Five Points intersection is one major gateway into the City, pointed out there are others such as Route 412, Interstate 78, Pennsylvania Turnpike, Quakertown, Route 309, Allentown, Stefko Boulevard, Freemansburg, Route 33, Route 378 and others which will bring much more by a hundredfold of what he has been saying. Mr. Rodriquez, asserting the City will never be the same, said the impact of what is going to face the citizens and the community in the near future may be determined by what is decided about the issue of casinos in Bethlehem. Mr. Rodriquez stated “we must make every effort united as one to continually stomp out crime, violence, drugs, and gambling. When we as a community allow gambling in our midst we are also allowing its evil ways to play a part of our everyday lives. To prevent this is to stop it before it happens. Money is the root of all evil, and a lot of evil will come in our City because of it.” Mr. Rodriquez suggested that the Administration educate the public by sending flyers to households or by televised advertisements to prevent some of the things about which have been spoken tonight.
Marilyn Hartman, 931 High Street, expressed she is blessed to be in the City and noted she is a Latino. Ms. Hartman observed that people at the Meeting have not moved for the last more than two hours and are listening attentively and respectively to one another. She continued on to say that the Council representatives have heard the people, and are still here to listen. Ms. Hartman advised she moved to Bethlehem from Hanover Township because she believes the City is a community that wants to become a model to the rest of the nation, a community that saw the challenges it faced and took hold of its destiny without surrendering to bribery. Ms. Hartman said she wants the Latinos to participate in all the resources available in the City. Ms. Hartman continued on to advise she tries to help Latinos to become homeowners, send their children to colleges, and to start their own businesses to avail themselves of the American dream which is based on hard work, education, and entrepreneurial skills. Ms. Hartman stressed that to bring casino gambling into South Side Bethlehem, where 25% of the Latino population lives, is detrimental to the American dream. Ms. Hartman related that studies in Arizona and Florida came up with the conclusion that pathological gambling and problem gambling have a higher rate among Latinos, among the disabled, and among the unemployed. Ms. Hartman stated that gambling exploits the young, the old, poor, unemployed, and vulnerable. Ms. Hartman observed that Latinos do not need to speak English to pull the slot machine lever, and can go to the casinos to try to make it rich quick. Ms. Hartman pointed out that all one has to do is a Google search and find all of the statistics that tell people that gambling is bad. Ms. Hartman expressed she does not understand, if all the statistics, surveys, and studies said that gambling exploits the old, young, vulnerable, that it is an economic negative, and brings social ills, why would people want gambling. However, Ms. Hartman observed it “brings money to their pocket.” Ms. Hartman asserted this does not translate into an economic transformation for the community. Ms. Hartman said “when a legislation such as this with such magnitude is passed without us who are going to be suffering the economic impact, and which is negative by all accounts, and all the social ills that come with it, then someone must be benefiting, and it’s not you and me…We are surrendering to bribery, and I don’t think that that’s the best thing for Bethlehem.” Ms. Hartman stressed it must be understood that the community can only avail itself of its future, and leave a legacy to its children “by doing things not necessarily to put money in our pocket, but by doing things that will be economic transformation for the whole of the community.”
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, saying there should be a referendum, asserted there are some issues that are so important that they are even more important than the elected City Council. Mr. Scheirer advised he buys a lottery ticket every week, he opposes casino gambling, and he sees no contradiction. Continuing on to say that by buying a lottery ticket is the only way he is ever going to see a million dollars, Mr. Scheirer stressed that he does not expect he will ever see a million dollars playing slot machines. Observing it is a question of degree, Mr. Scheirer stated it is a question of how much is too much. Mr. Scheirer said one casino with 3,000 slot machines is too much. However, Mr. Scheirer expressed the opinion that it will not be just one casino with 3,000 slot machines if it is successful. He noted there is already State legislation to add roulette, poker, and black jack. If that happens and it is successful, Mr. Scheirer remarked the State could say “let’s have some more casinos” and could decide to put them where the successful casinos are located. Mr. Scheirer communicated then it could get to the vision of the representative from Las Vegas Sands who was reported in the newspaper as saying that Bethlehem has the potential to match Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore. Mr. Scheirer asserted “there will come a point where the casino operators will want one thing, and the City government will say, no, that’s too much. And, the casino operators will say, okay, next election we’ll put up our own candidates, and we have plenty of money to finance them.” Mr. Scheirer felt what is being faced, if successful, is a gambling City with “…that quaint little quarter over there which we call the Moravian quarter which is what’s left that represents the hard work that went into this City on the part of the Moravians, and all the immigrants who came after that and worked in the dirty and dangerous jobs at Bethlehem Steel. Hard work will no longer be the atmosphere of the City…Let’s pull levers and transfer wealth.” Mr. Scheirer said one of the reasons he came back to his hometown two years ago is the character of the town. He continued on to say if the gambling casino is established “this will no longer be the City where I grew up…Let’s have our economic development the old-fashioned way, let’s earn it. Don’t gamble with the future of Bethlehem.”
Karen Dolan, 55 Bridle Path Road, communicating the meeting is remarkable, noted she came to the meeting with certain perspectives “and you have influenced me, and that’s a wonderful and democratic thing.” Ms. Dolan expressed the belief that the civility of the meeting is inspired by the Judeao-Christian ethic that Bethlehem was founded upon. Ms. Dolan, commenting that gambling is a huge risk, continued on to say it is not something that could come here, it is something that is here. She further said “it is a demagogue and he is in our midst. People of Bethlehem follow your hearts, Members of Council follow your hearts, your minds, your God, but do not be led by a false god, a false leader, one who many of you may have been encouraged to come here tonight and that is Ron Angle.” Ms. Dolan encouraged those present to listen to the Members of Council, the Mayor, and their hearts, to learn the facts, be open to change, but do not be led by blinded passions, and do not be led by demagogues “because they will exploit your beliefs and your passions for their own gain.”
Amanda Allred, 131 N. Oak Street, noted that she has listened to many people and those who want what is best for her generation. Ms. Allred said “gambling isn’t good. It affects me, it affects people I know. There are so many people in my school that I know that would be greatly influenced by this in a very bad way. All I know is that gambling isn’t what we need. It’s what we don’t need. And if we can keep this from coming into our City, if we can keep this from coming into the lives of people like me, and people like my friends, people who are going to be sitting in those chairs some day, then we will have a better community and stronger people.”
Angel Sotomayor, 610 W. Union Boulevard, said if casinos come to Bethlehem he will have to make the best decision for his family. Mr. Sotomayor expressed the belief that Council should do the utmost to keep casinos out of Bethlehem because there are people on fixed incomes who will not want to leave and may not be able to leave the City. Mr. Sotomayor, observing that the City does not exactly need to attract more people here, informed the assembly he works in New Jersey and is hoping to get a job here some day. Stating that Bethlehem is a great place to live, Mr. Sotomayor remarked “we don’t need casinos to bring people here. People already want to live here. We just need to find better ways of bringing jobs here.”
Andy Brown, 734 Seneca Street, said he grew up and went to schools in Bethlehem. When he decided to further his studies he moved to New York, and came back with a degree in music. Advising that he and his wife look forward to being a part of the community here, stressed they have always loved Bethlehem. Mr. Brown expressed that Bethlehem is not like a city. Informing the assembly he has traveled in the West, Mr. Brown said “it was unbelievable to see countless small towns…[where] there would be absolutely no industry, nothing, and we wondered what do people do. We spoke with people in small cafes…and we’d turn the corner and there would be a casino, and the parking lot would inevitably be full of cars. We’ve talked to people about it, and…there was a promise involved in building that casino and bringing it to those areas, and that promise never delivered, and it only brought despair to people.” Further stating that he and his wife look forward to raising their children here, Mr. Brown stressed it is frightening to think of what Bethlehem could become. Mr. Brown expressed his agreement that if one casino is allowed and it is successful “we shouldn’t be so foolish to think that that will be it because it will not. That entire waterfront can be developed, could be expanded, and it will be an embarrassment to what the City is about. So I pray and hope that you…consider that as you take votes.”
Eric Allred, 131 N. Oak Street, noted that Bethlehem has adopted the nickname of the Christmas City, is known for Historic Bethlehem, the celebration of Musikfest, Christmas pageantry, and the Star of Bethlehem on top of South Mountain. Mr. Allred related that when guests visit he takes them to Historic Bethlehem, they walk the streets, enjoy the quaint shops, and leave with a gift of the Bethlehem Star that symbolizes the City. Mr. Allred continued on to say the gift is fitting and reminds him of all that is good and hopeful. Mr. Allred said “tonight we are here in defense of our City, to protect our citizens, our families, and our children from the evil influences of gambling and the attendant vice it could bring. Let us not adopt a measure that would put us in partnership with the gambling industry. It is morally wrong and politically unwise.” Mr. Allred asserted that gambling promotes the attitude of taking something from someone else to enhance one’s own position, and is in direct conflict with what people teach their children that is to work, and to be a benefit to society. Mr. Allred felt that gambling tends to corrupt its participants, undermines the virtues of work, industry, thrift, and service to others. He further said it promotes vices such as drugs, alcohol, pornography, and prostitution. Gamblers commonly deprive themselves and often imperil or impoverish their own families, and steal from others. Stressing that gambling is addictive, Mr. Allred pointed out that some people are susceptible to addictions including gambling. Mr. Allred communicated that “gambling sends the wrong message to our youth. The support of gambling gives legitimacy to the pursuit of wealth without work. It says you don’t have to improve yourself, just take a roll of the dice…This philosophy of wealth without work is at the root of a multitude of crimes, theft, robbery, looting, embezzlement, and fraud. Gambling increases government expenditures, welfare and law enforcement expenditures are both increased…Gambling preys upon those who we are trying to help the most. We can clearly see the damages that a gambling parlor would cause to the communities that we are trying so hard to revitalize. I urge the Council to shun this gambling proposal and protect our City, our families and our children. I call upon the officers of government…in Bethlehem to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen our way of life that we may enjoy a measure of peace and prosperity beneath the Star of Bethlehem.”
Santiago Rivera, said he has a small business located at 1349 Lynn Avenue, came to Bethlehem in 2000, and located to Hellertown in the same year. Mr. Rivera, noting he came to visit Bethlehem and enjoyed it, advised he purchased investment property on the South Side, and has since purchased additional investment property. Mr. Rivera stated when gambling was first proposed he thought it might be a benefit to him. In 2001 when he was unemployed, he found out about the Community Action Development Corporation’s start a business program, started his business in 2002 with about 5 clients, and has grown to about 50 clients. Mr. Rivera, advising he and his wife gave it a lot of thought, said they have made the decision that they are against the proposed gambling. Mr. Rivera, communicating his conscience would not allow him to make a profit on somebody’s misfortunes, thought that gambling would bring a lot of misfortunes to a lot of families on the South Side. Mr. Rivera, reiterating he personally is against gambling, expressed the belief there are other ways, and pointed out he thinks he is an example coming from an unemployed situation to having a small business. Mr. Rivera stated it is possible, it can be done, although it does take time and a lot of hard work.
Lucy Lennon, 24 E. Third Street, commenting she cannot tell somebody whether or not to gamble, noted she went to Atlantic City on her last vacation and enjoys gambling. However, Ms. Lennon stressed she also likes to make a living. Advising she is the single mother of five children and chose to live in Bethlehem, Ms. Lennon related that when she opened the restaurant in 2000 people told her “you can’t have a nice restaurant over on the South Side. You’re too pricey for the South Side.” Ms. Lennon informed the assembly that five years later the restaurant is still there, and gets Best of the Valley. She continued on to point out the business across the street got Best Gallery, another business across the street got Best Gift Shop, and another got Best Bar. Ms. Lennon remarked “so, I think we’re doing okay on the South Side. I really don’t think we need a casino.” Ms. Lennon stressed, however, she wants to see development there. Ms. Lennon advised she had the opportunity to see the development of the former Johnson Machinery Shop into condominiums that she said were beautiful. Continuing on to state that the building on Polk Street by Lou Pektor is also beautiful, Ms. Lennon said, unfortunately, a gentleman who is affiliated with the development of the casino bought the parking lot. Ms. Lennon said “so now we’ve got this promise of the golden-lined streets coming to the South Side, but we have no parking for it.” Ms. Lennon, stating “I’m going to make millions, they promise me,” pointed out when she goes to Harrah’s casino in Atlantic City, she “couldn’t tell you what’s to the left of Harrah’s or the right of Harrah’s. If I’m lucky enough to win, I shop right there at Harrah’s. I eat there for free, I drink there for free. So why in God’s name would I leave that establishment to go spend my money. I’m not going to do it. I think Bethlehem’s a wonderful place. I chose to live here. I chose to buy a house here. And, some of the reasons why are when I leave my house on the west side I can walk down the street, sit in the middle of the bridge…and I can watch the fireworks…We’ve got a little town warmth to us. If you have a pothole, you can call the pothole hotline, and somebody comes out and fixes your pothole. If you want to see the Mayor, you can go up and see the Mayor, and if the Mayor’s not there, Louise is there and she knows your name…[Y]ou double your population, that’s all gone…It won’t be Merle greeting you at the door [to City Hall] saying hey, how are you doing, who are you going to see today. It’s going to be an armed guard with a metal detector. And you’re going to have to wait three weeks to see your Mayor. And I think that’s a sad thing. I think business-wise we all do well. The people who say the South Side’s not doing well [should] come into my restaurant on a weekend. Try to get in without a reservation, you’re not doing to do it. And go down [to the South Side] on a First Friday and try to get into a store, you’re not going to be able to do it. So, we’re doing okay. We don’t need a casino. And, if the people that are promising this casino are telling you there’s going to be jobs for these Bethlehem Steel retirees…how many licensed gambling employees were retired by Bethlehem Steel. They don’t hire people off the street. You need to be a licensed casino worker, unless you want to empty garbage or make beds…So far I’ve pulled 110 pages of research…And, I’m staying away from the moral [issue]…But, I am talking to you from a business person’s outlook, from a single mother’s outlook, and from somebody who loves this community…The past four years I’ve raised over $30,000 for the Bethlehem Police and Fire Departments…What’s going to happen when you double the population. Where is that money going to come from. It’s going to come from your pockets because the money that the casinos make they’re not investing in your community. They’re taking it right back to [Las] Vegas. So, please, think about this very carefully. I applaud you for trying to take these matters into your own hands, but I’d really like to see you get out, talk to the people…and hear from both sides of the story before you make any decision.”
Ziona Brotleit, 408 Second Avenue, communicated that when
people talk about gambling being wrong, inherently evil, and
immoral it is pointing to what are the practical results and
consequences. Ms. Brotleit, stating that the consequences
are myriad said “we see it in economics, we see it in
history, education, and Atlantic City’s demise.”
Ms. Brotleit quoted from an article in Preservation Magazine
about gaming in Colorado as follows: “The casino spectacle
down the gulch shortstops gamblers coming from the Interstate
and repels the sort of visitor who once sought out Central
City for its history. The irony is that Central City embraced
gambling as a last ditch effort to preserve its older structures.”
Ms. Brotleit, pointing out that although she is a psychologist
and not an economist, said it seems clear to her “that
the money is going to go back to the homes of the entrepreneurs
that are bringing the casinos to us…Their business is
to make money, to make profit, it’s not to help us…”.
Ms. Brotleit, while expressing her belief that is true for
most of the businesses that come from the outside such as
big chains, stressed that a casino does not even bring a product
and “is designed to take its customers and take money
from them…”. Advising she works with the addictive
quality of eating disorders and other addictions, Ms. Brotleit
informed the assembly that she works closely with the ravages
of addictions and the impulsive and compulsive behaviors that
go with it. Ms. Brotleit stressed that gambling is part of
it. Focusing on the promise of development of the Bethlehem
Works site in three to five years with a casino, Ms. Brotleit
said “let’s take 10 years, let’s take 12.
Let’s do it right and bring glory to the Steel history
that we have by working as hard as they did to do what we
need to do to glorify, to honor their hard work. A quick fix
is not giving honor to their blood, sweat, and tears.”
Ms. Brotleit, thanking Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer for their
proposal, said “let’s all of us support their
efforts.” Ms. Brotleit thanked Council and the Mayor
for taking all of the time and making the effort to consider
what is right for the community “in spite of our State
legislators blatant disregard for our community’s well-being.”
Ray Atkinson, Spring Street, focusing on the increase in crime in Atlantic City, advised “it actually tripled the crime rate in just the first three years of the casinos being there.” Mr. Atkinson continued on to advise that the Police Chief in Gulfport, Mississippi showed that the crime rate there doubled in the first year. Mr. Atkinson said he does not see how the City of Bethlehem will be immune from the increase in the crime rate that goes with casinos. Mr. Atkinson, pointing out that he and his daughter can walk down any street in Bethlehem without having to worry about things, stressed he does not want to see that change “because we want to have a quick fix, and an influx of money in the City. An increase in the fund in the City does not offset the damages that will be done by the increase in crime rate.”
Roy Gruver, 415 N. New Street, said he greatly appreciates the efforts on the part of Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer in their proposal. Mr. Gruver stated that he resents the arrogance of the State legislators who believe they know what is best for the City and believe the City should have no say in this issue and “who acted in the quiet of a weekend and in the dark of night…”. Mr. Gruver noted that, if more is needed than is heard here tonight, Northampton County Council collected pages of public testimony last week. Mr. Gruver advised his concern is local control, and who has the right and responsibility to determine the City’s future. Mr. Gruver remarked it is ironic to him that most of the State legislators “who are patting themselves on the back for this” never lived in a community in which “gambling interests are holding all the cards…and I don’t think that the odds are in our favor in that gambling will improve the quality of our life in Bethlehem. There’s a good quality of life now. But now is the time for action. We have very little time to wrest back the control of our future from the State.” Mr. Gruver expressed that he wishes the State had a similar framework and opportunities for public comment as people have at this City Council Meeting. Mr. Gruver suggested that the City’s legal process be expedited within the established framework, and tell the State legislature “that they need to start listening to us and allow us to be in control of our destiny. To that end, I urge Council to consider passing a resolution protesting the State’s action to usurp our right to local determination. I also hope that Council and Mayor Callahan as individuals will express their outrage directly. I also implore fellow citizens who are concerned about this to express their concerns directly to the State legislators. I know I will, and I also intend to remind them of my dissatisfaction in the voting booth.”
Billy Givens, 200 Parker Avenue, Easton, said he went to Representative Robert Freeman’s office today and obtained the list of State legislators who voted for Act 71 and Act 72, and he will post it on his website. Mr. Givens recounted that on January 3, 2005 he and John Todaro attended the organizational meeting of Northampton County Council at which they requested that County Council hold public hearings on the issue of gambling casinos. Mr. Givens related that thanks to the due diligence of Northampton County Councilmember Ron Angle, they succeeded in getting the Northampton County Council public hearing held on June 28, 2005 in Foy Hall at Moravian College. Mr. Givens informed the assembly that he and Mr. Todaro know something about the principals of the Las Vegas casino and its subsidiary known as the Venetian. Mr. Givens said the principal owner of these two casinos is Sheldon Addleson who is a multi-billionaire and has built casinos in Las Vegas, Macau in China, and would like to build casinos in Israel but is prohibited because the country’s law prohibits casinos. Mr. Givens continued on to say Michael Perrucci is a former law partner of James Florio, a former governor of New Jersey, was the treasurer for Bob Torricelli, and is a member of a law firm that includes Barry Gosin. Mr. Givens advised that William Weidner, a representative from Las Vegas Sands who spoke at Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University to members of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, is the chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands and its subsidiary the Venetian. Mr. Givens stated the purpose of Mr. Weidner’s visit to Bethlehem “was to throw some cold water on all of the promises that Mr. Perrucci had been making about how much a casino in Bethlehem would transform the Christmas City…Mr. Weidner [stressed] that the main purpose of his venture, that of Las Vegas Sands and its subsidiary the Venetian, is to make money for Las Vegas Sands and the Venetian…[A]s to whether all of these glowing things follow will depend entirely on the success of the casino.” Mr. Givens referred to an article by Bill White, a columnist for the Morning Call, dated January 29, 2005 who quoted Mr. Perrucci in writing “Perrucci acknowledged that without the jolt of revenue generated …the rollout would be three to four times longer, and the plans considerably more modest.” Mr. Givens, stating there is already a rift between William Weidner and Michael Perrucci, said “Mr. Addleson who owns 88% of the stock in Las Vegas Sands and Venetian casinos sent Mr. Weidner here to give the…leaders of Bethlehem…a more realistic picture of what the people of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley can anticipate or expect from a casino…”.
John Todaro, 9 Westgate Avenue, Palmer Township, said today he called 11 secretaries of the State legislators and told them “don’t give yourself a $10,000 raise because we don’t want you to have a raise. You don’t deserve it because…on the Fourth of July at 2:00 in the morning when good people were sleeping you were voting on Act 71 and Act 72…And what…did they do to deserve it, they gave us what we’re getting, nothing.” Mr. Todaro related that his Easton School tax went up nearly 10% instead of 3-1/2% because the School Board voted in favor of Act 72.
Doug Yocum, 1971 Homestead Avenue, said he is a lifelong resident of Bethlehem, and worked 36 years for Bethlehem Steel. Commenting that Bethlehem Works consists of about 100 acres, Mr. Yocum noted that is one-tenth of the land that Bethlehem Steel had to redevelop. Mr. Yocum observed that most of the rest of the land was sold to Lehigh Valley Industrial Park (LVIP), a prominent developer. Mr. Yocum stressed “this City is not facing a crisis. We don’t need to plunge into gambling for 10% of Bethlehem Steel’s land. We can do it right. I absolutely oppose gambling for all the reasons that many young people have spoken about this evening. We don’t need to jump at a $10 million carrot. We have people that can do things right. They’ve done it right over the years for both local businessmen and our government leaders. I urge you to think this thing through carefully. Cities, like individuals, have reputations. What kind of reputation do we want to continue to have. Bethlehem has always had, for the most part, a very positive reputation. Let’s not compromise that reputation and jump at the false promise of gambling.”
Colleen Atkinson, 825 Spring Street, said she is at the meeting to take a stand against casino gambling. Ms. Atkinson, querying whether the benefits outweigh the costs, stated “we already know…that the benefits do not outweigh the costs, but…the costs by far outweigh the benefits. How do we know this. We know this from the statistics taken from other cities who had casino gambling. For example,…Atlantic City’s crime rate has exceeded the state of New Jersey’s rate ever since casinos were offered after 1978. Between 1978 and 1981, the crime rate tripled. In just three years following the opening of its first casino, Atlantic City went from 50th in the nation in per capita crime to first. In Gulfport, Mississippi, their statistics also report increases in crime rates. The number of rapes tripled, vehicle theft was up 166%, arson cases increased by 150%, burglaries doubled, assaults were up 66%, vehicular accidents up 62%, robberies increased 218%. We really need to think about the consequences and the costs.” Ms. Atkinson continued on to say “gambling exploits the weak and the vulnerable of our society.” Ms. Atkinson expressed her belief that it is the duty of every member of the community to try to implement programs, businesses, and commerce that uplifts the citizens and protects the weak people from their own vices. Stressing that the casino is not the only answer, Ms. Atkinson said “we have alternatives. We have other things that can improve our economy…We have other…ideas that other cities have done. For instance, Camden built their aquarium…Baltimore built their aquarium…Other ideas might be a planetarium. We want to attract…good people…who reflect who we are. We want to attract families. We want to attract people who might come and…say…this is a really nice town. It would be a great place to raise our families…And they would continue to do what you all have tried to do which is build our community…and make it a better place to live, and make it the best it can be.” Ms. Atkinson stated she does not see that a casino is going to do that. I think…it’s going to have a negative influence on individuals,…on our children, and…[on] our community as a whole.”
6. OLD BUSINESS
A. Director of Public Works – Traffic Signals – Hellertown Road, Commerce Center Boulevard, and Princeton Avenue
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 20, 2005 from Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works, to which was attached a resolution for installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Hellertown Road and Commerce Center Boulevard, and a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Hellertown Road and Princeton Avenue as part of the Commerce Center Boulevard construction project.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution
will be placed on the July 19 Agenda.
B. Police Commissioner – Special Event Parking – Musikfest
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 23, 2005 from Francis R. Donchez, Jr., Police Commissioner, requesting consideration of a resolution declaring Special Event Parking and increased parking fines during Musikfest 2005 from 12:00 noon on August 5, 2005 through 12:00 midnight on August 14, 2005.
President Schweder stated that the appropriate Resolution will be placed on the July 19 Agenda.
C. Council Members Mowrer and Leeson – Amending Zoning Ordinance – Prohibiting
Gambling in I-R, IR-F, and H-I Districts
The Clerk read a memorandum dated June 24, 2005 from Council Members Gordon B. Mowrer and Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., requesting Zoning Text Amendments to prohibit gambling in Zoning Ordinance Article 1317A, I-R Industrial Redevelopment District, Article 1317B, IR-F Industrial Redevelopment Flexible District, and Article 1317, H-I Heavy Industrial District.
President Schweder referred the matter to the Planning Commission and Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, and noted that the date of a Public Hearing will be set.
8 . REPORTS
A. President of Council
Economic Development Liquor License – Starter’s Riverport - Appeal
President Schweder advised that the City Council Solicitor has received correspondence from Attorney Francis O’Brien initiating an appeal of Council’s vote on June 7, 2005 which disapproved the request of Starter’s Riverport for an Economic Development Liquor License.
Considering Resolutions as a Group
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to consider Resolutions 8 B 1 through 8 B 11 as a group: Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
1. Administrative Order – Constance Glagola – Board of Historical and Architectural Review
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Constance Glagola to the Board of Historical and Architectural Review effective until January 2010. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,628 to confirm the appointment.
2. Administrative Order – Jean Black – City Planning Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Jean Black to the City Planning Commission effective until May 2010. Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,629 to confirm the appointment.
3. Administrative Order – Barbara Fraust – Fine Arts Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Barbara Fraust to the Fine Arts Commission effective until May 2008. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,630 to confirm the appointment.
4. Administrative Order – Deni Thurman-Eyer - Fine Arts Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Deni Thurman-Eyer to the Fine Arts Commission effective until April 2008. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,631 to confirm the appointment.
5. Administrative Order – Rosalee Sabo – Fire Civil Service Board
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Rosalee Sabo to the Fire Civil Service Board effective until June 2009. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,632 to confirm the appointment.
6. Administrative Order – Stephen Elek – Plumbers’ Examining Board
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Stephen Elek to the Plumbers’ Examining Board effective until June 2009. Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,633 to confirm the appointment.
7. Administrative Order – Michael Maurer – Plumbers’ Examining Board
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Michael Maurer to the Plumbers’ Examining Board effective until June 2009. Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,634 to confirm the appointment.
8. Administrative Order – A. Craig Evans – South Bethlehem Conservation District Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed A. Craig Evans to the South Bethlehem Conservation District Commission effective until April 2008. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,635 to confirm the appointment.
9. Administrative Order – Anthony Silvoy – South Bethlehem Conservation District Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan reappointed Anthony Silvoy to the
South Bethlehem Conservation District Commission effective
until April 2008. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored
Resolution 14,636 to confirm the appointment.
10. Administrative Order – Pete Ramos – Redevelopment Authority
Mayor John B. Callahan appointed Pete Ramos to the Redevelopment Authority effective until March 2006. Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,637 to confirm the appointment.
11. Administrative Order – Martin F. Smith – City Planning Commission
Mayor John B. Callahan appointed Martin F. Smith to the City Planning Commission effective until May 2006. Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,638 to confirm the appointment.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 8 B 1 through 8 B 11: Mrs. Belinski,
Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder,
6. The Resolutions passed.
C. Finance Committee
Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Finance Committee, presented an oral report of the Committee’s meeting held this evening, June 29, 2005 on the following subjects: Transfer of Funds – Financial Services – Temporary Help; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – State Grant – Johnston Park; Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – Façade Improvements – Eastern Gateway; Utilization of Savings – Recycling Bureau – Refrigerator; Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Engineering – Overtime; Utilization of Savings – Health Bureau - Refrigerator; Amending General Fund Budget – Health Bureau – Tobacco Program; Transfer of Funds – Water and Sewer Resources – Utility Billing – Overtime; Transfer of Funds – Sewer Capital Budget – Digester Mixers; Budget Reviews – January to May 2005: A. General Fund, B. Water Fund, and C. Sewer Fund; City Vehicles Report – 2004 and 2005 to Date; Overtime – 2005 To Date; City’s Pension Fund Investments – 2005 to Date; City Insurance Policies Review; and Financial Analyst for City Council.
9. ORDINANCES FOR FINAL PASSAGE
A. Bill No. 30 – 2005 – Amending Community Development Budget – 2005 CDBG and HOME Programs
The Clerk read Bill No. 30 – 2005, Amending Community Development Budget – 2005 CDBG and HOME Programs, on Final Reading.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 30 – 2005, hereafter to be known as Ordinance 4330, was declared adopted.
10. NEW ORDINANCES
A. Bill No. 31 – 2005 – Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Overtime and Health Bureau – Tobacco Program
The Clerk read Bill No. 31 – 2005, Amending General Fund Budget – EMS Bureau – Overtime and Health Bureau – Tobacco Program, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR 2005.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr.
Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 31 –
2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
B. Bill No. 32 – 2005 – Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – State Grant – Johnston Park and Façade Improvements – Eastern Gateway
The Clerk read Bill No. 32 – 2005, Amending Non-Utility Capital Budget – State Grant – Johnston Park and Façade Improvements – Eastern Gateway, sponsored by Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo, and titled:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM,
COUNTIES OF LEHIGH AND NORTHAMPTON,
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, AMENDING
THE 2005 CAPITAL BUDGET FOR NON-UTILITIES.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. Bill No. 32 – 2005 was declared passed on First Reading.
Removing Resolution 11 A From the Table
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer moved to remove Resolution 11 A, that was tabled at the May 18, 2005 City Council Meeting, from the Table.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
A. Amending Police Civil Service Rules – Physical Fitness Requirements
Mr. Donchez and Mr. Arcelay sponsored Resolution 14,639 to amend the Police Civil Service Rules and Regulations under Appointment Procedure by deleting the current Physical Fitness Standards for Academy Entrance and adding new section titled Applicant Physical Fitness Testing.
Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolution passed.
Considering Resolutions 11 B through 11 M As A Group
Mr. Leeson and Mr. Mowrer moved to consider Resolutions 11 B through 11 M as a group. Voting AYE: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
B. Certificate of Appropriateness – 310-322 East Third Street
Mrs. Belinski and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,640 that granted a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signage at 310-322 East Third Street.
C. Authorizing Records Destruction – Controller’s Office
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,641 that authorized the disposition of the public records of the Controller’s Office, as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual approved on July 16, 1993 and Resolution 13,076.
D. Authorizing Records Destruction – Tax Bureau
Ms. Szabo and Mr. Leeson sponsored Resolution 14,642 that
authorized the disposition of the public records of the Tax
Bureau, as listed in Exhibit A, according to schedules and
procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in
the Municipal Records Manual approved on July 16, 1993 and
E. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Celtic Classic 2005
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,643
which authorized the execution of the Use Permit Agreement
between the City and Celtic Fest, Inc. for use of public properties,
streets, and Sand Island West for the Celtic Classic 2005
for the time periods between September 10, 2005 and October
2, 2005, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
F. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Christkindlmarkt 2005, 2006, 2007
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,644 which authorized the execution of the Use Permit Agreement between the City and ArtsQuest for use of various City properties for Christkindlmarkt 2005, 2006 and 2007 for the time periods according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
G. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement for Public
Property – Has Anyone Seen
My Balloon?, Inc.
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,645 which authorized the execution of the Use Permit Agreement between the City and Richard Scott Kelley and Has Anyone Seen My Balloon?, Inc. for use of various City properties for a hot air balloon take off for the time period June 1, 2005 to May 31, 2006, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
H. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Senior Centers of Bethlehem – Parking Cars During Celtic Classic 2005
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,646 which authorized the execution of the Use Permit Agreement between the City and Senior Centers of Bethlehem for use of Johnston Park for parking cars during 2005 Celtic Classic for the time period September 23, 2005 to September 25, 2005, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
I. Authorizing Execution of Use Permit Agreement for Public Property – Senior Centers of Bethlehem – Parking Cars During Musikfest 2005
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,647 which authorized the execution of the Use Permit Agreement between the City and Senior Centers of Bethlehem for use of Johnston Park for parking cars during Musikfest 2005 for the time period August 5, 2005 to August 14, 2005, according to the terms and conditions of the Agreement.
J. Transfer of Funds – Financial Services – Temporary Help
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,648 which
transferred $5,500 in the General Fund Budget from the Unforeseen
Contingency Account to the Financial Services – Temporary
Help Account to provide funding required for an additional
K. Transfer of Funds – Water and Sewer Resources – Utility Billing – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,649 which
transferred $9,900 in the Water Fund Budget from the Utility
Billing – Salaries Account to the Utility Billing –
Overtime Account to pay for overtime to the end of the year.
L. Transfer of Funds – Engineering – Overtime
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,650 which transferred $10,000 in the General Fund Budget from the Engineering Bureau – Salaries Account to the Engineering Bureau – Overtime Account to provide additional funding for overtime necessary to monitor projects.
M. Utilization of Savings – Health Bureau – Refrigerator
Mr. Donchez and Ms. Szabo sponsored Resolution 14,651 which utilized savings in the General Fund Budget in the amount of $2,424 in the Health Bureau – Equipment – Bioterrorism Account for the purchase of a refrigerator for vaccine storage.
Voting AYE on Resolutions 11 B through 11 M: Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Leeson, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolutions passed.
12. NEW BUSINESS
President Schweder noted that, at the suggestion of Mr. Donchez, Chairman of the Finance Committee, the discussion on the financial analyst for City Council would not take place at this time.
13. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
Fourth of July Proposal
William Scheirer, 1890 Eaton Avenue, commented that in these troubled times it is important to remember and to celebrate the freedoms that citizens still have. Mr. Scheirer proposed that on the next Fourth of July, a person in Revolutionary War costume read the Declaration of Independence at noon on the steps of the Central Moravian Church. At the conclusion of the reading, he proposed that the bells of the church ring for at least five minutes. Upon hearing the bells of the Central Moravian Church, Mr. Scheirer proposed that all church bells in the City of Bethlehem ring for at least five minutes.
Casino Gambling Statements
Stephen Antalics, 737 Ridge Street, with reference to comments made by an individual who works for the Bach Choir, said he wants to correct the record. Mr. Antalics quoted from a newspaper report, as follows: “This community has an incredible history, said Bridget George, executive director of the Bach Choir. We do not want people to come here for a casino, or do we want them to come for all the wonderful things we worked to build for years and years. Why would we want to bring in something that will completely change the treasure of this place.” Mr. Antalics explained he is saying that statement has a tourism base rather than a moral base.”
The meeting was adjourned at 10:45 p.m.