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Remember: Allentown, The SEIU, and Fox News

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Allentown, The SEIU, and Fox News

Last week The Morning Call ran a story concerning local SEIU president Nick Balzano and his apparent interest in an Eagle Scout project done at Kimmet’s Lock. Mr. Balzano was allegedly troubled by this project. It would seem to him that it may be the kind of project that Union workers could have done and bee paid to do. I would imagine that Mr. Balzano thought this volunteer effort violated terms of the Union contract with the city of Allentown.

The story made the rounds across the local mostly conservative blogosphere. It’s a polarizing story that adds a little local heat to a long running conflict between conservatives and unions. The difference here is that Mr. Balzano and his issue with this volunteer project is uniquely rooted in a particular problem with layoffs, volunteer projects and the city of Allentown.

Given that the SEIU has suffered the greatest amount of layoffs here in Allentown, I understand why such a volunteer project would be troubling to Mr. Balzano had it been sponsored or encouraged by the City of Allentown. It was not however and the story should have ended there. It has not. As a matter of fact, this morning I found the story on which is disturbing because god only knows what those hucksters will use this story to legitimize or spin.

The bottom line here is that there is an issue in Allentown that is unfortunately, difficult to solve. There should be an active volunteer park stewardship in this city. Any city that isn’t Allentown, that would have the amount of park land we do, would have such a stewardship. I guarantee it. People want to be a part of things like this and I know first hand how difficult it is to attempt volunteer work in our parks because of the fear of violating the Union contract.

This story never should have made it to faux news. There really isn’t a story here to begin with which is why I hesitated before writing about it. The SEIU is not going to go after this kid. In truth, we do not even know in what context Mr. Balzano made his now infamous comments. Bottom line, this is a non issue and the actual issue here is the need for the City to work with the Union to figure out a compromise that will allow greater volunteer efforts in our parks. It is a glaring issue in my opinion and one that needs to be addressed.

For the record, these volunteer projects should exist, not because the City shouldn’t pay people to do the work. They should exist because as I have documented just two weeks ago, these kinds of projects reinforce and help build community ties and identity. These projects allow a deeper connection to develop between citizens and their parks. They allow people to quite literally become part of a park or playground.

I wish Mr. Balzano luck. It would seem only a matter of time before this story reaches the nonsensical hands of jester Glenn Beck or one of the other ideologues parading around on that channel.

In the meantime, I hope a compromise can exist soon to end future conflicts over volunteer activities. Until then, things are pretty much going to continue like this:

Warning, opinion below.

Glenn Beck is a moron, for the record.

Don't miss today's other post:
Indian Summer


The aformentioned moron, Glenn Beck, has already commented about this on his crazy time hour TV show. No surprise but his coverage was misinformed and inane.

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Blogger Katie Bee said...

What approval boards did the scout have to go through to work in that park? Certainly if the park is maintained by the SEIU, they should have had some part in approving this work in the first place. It doesn't seem that way.

November 19, 2009 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger LVCI said...

if the park is maintained by the SEIU.."
Well obviously they do not maintain otherwise the Scout would have had nothing to do.

He didn't modify the trail. Only cleaned up when Nick's crew failed to do so.

Andrew said, "we do not even know in what context Mr. Balzano made his now infamous comments.

Well in Jarrett's sound file the "context" of Nick as he spoke at the meeting to council comes through loud and clear to me!

November 19, 2009 at 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We think people will volenteer in the parks in significant numbers when they are really included in the planning part of the deal. Of course they have not been, no matter what the parks director claims. You know this is true Mr. Kleiner. The real problem is not the unions. The guys who work in the park are mostly good hard working people.

November 19, 2009 at 10:27 PM  
Anonymous monkey momma said...

Well, I guess we know now that Balzano lost his post over this debacle. And, I have to say, he had it coming. The context of his comments did nothing to diminish the meaning and impact of his horrific words.

I would say that if park functions that would normally be done by a paid union employee could be done by volunteers, then let the volunteers do it. It only makes sense from the point of view of the city. The ONLY people this would offend are the union folks, and they need to wake up to the new reality of these economic times. If we don't HAVE to pay for something, we shouldn't. See, that's not difficult.

Do I pay for a maid when I'm cash strapped? NO. I do it myself. Same thing with painting the kids bedroom or having the hubby finish the basement himself - we do it ourselves TO SAVE MONEY. And that's what should be front and center in planning Allentown's future.

Oh well, Andrew, you've definitely earned cool geek points in my book - combining Benny Hill with LOTR???? Now, THAT is cool.

November 20, 2009 at 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SEIU guy goes down.

Ha Ha Ha Ha

November 20, 2009 at 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bullying Union Leader Bows Out

how sad

November 20, 2009 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

@LVCI if they've suffered layoffs, how can they maintain things properly? I am just playing devil's advocate here.

November 20, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger LVCI said...

Katie Bee said... @LVCI if they've suffered layoffs, how can they maintain things properly?
At issue isn't whether they did or not have capacity to do it. Nor is it a matter of condemnation or defense of the city workers.

Fact was that it was not maintained and someone took it upon themselves to straighten it up, It's wasn't a matter of who cleared the pathway. Just the fact that it was taken care of. Nobody was complaining that it wasn't maintained. One person saw a problem, did something about it and then came under fire for it. Therein lies the actual issue.

As for the other seven board members of the union, I'm not sure they all should have gotten hammered too. Maybe not all may have felt the same as their union leader. That we shall never know.

Had Nick worked with the Mayor and accepted the 3% or 4% raise they were offered.

Had the union allowed their membership to vote on the offer..

They may not have had to "suffer these layoffs. So there are a number of victims here as a result of Nick's actions. The workers, parks, and taxpayers who lose services. Not to even mention further damage nationally to Allentown's image. Like we needed any more of that!

November 20, 2009 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blog stated:

"People want to be a part of things like this and I know first hand how difficult it is to attempt volunteer work in our parks because of the fear of violating the Union contract."

Then your town has a choice to make--will you live free or live in fear of the union? As long as YOU have the fear, the union wins and America loses.

November 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think people do not volunteer in Allentown because of the unions? THAT IS THE LEAST OF IT! Now things will go from bad to worse. What a shame. This town and it's parks are in trouble. What denial.

November 21, 2009 at 4:18 PM  

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