Lehigh Valley

Allentown councilman upset over 'waste of taxpayer dollars'

He alleges campaign fliers mailed from city shop

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - An Allentown councilman wants answers about the creation and distribution of mailers he alleges used city employees and facilities that promoted two campaign events featuring Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

But the mayor rejected the claim, saying the fliers were notifications for meetings with city residents that are part of his mayoral duties.

Calling the postcards "a total waste of taxpayer dollars," council Vice President Daryl Hendricks instructed city Controller Jeff Glazier during council's Wednesday meeting to look into the issue.

The campaign mailers were printed and then mailed from the city's workshop on separate dates to various locations throughout the city, Hendricks said. The literature that contained a message reading "Coming to Your Neighborhood" were mobile meetings on Aug. 16 at Trexler Middle School and Sept. 27 at Muhlenberg Elementary. Both events featured the mayor in a campaign stance.

During his comments, Hendricks indicated a total of 2,800 mailings were sent. Each event attracted five people, he said. Hendricks questioned Wednesday why campaign materials were printed and mailed with taxpayer funds.

He directed Glazier to ascertain who gave the order for the documents to be printed, who gave the authorization for them to be mailed and the cost associated with mailing them.

Pawlowski on Thursday dismissed Hendricks' concerns, noting that the meetings the councilman referenced were part of a series of neighborhood meetings the mayor attended. A 69News reporter who attended one of the meetings said Pawlowski discussed neighborhood concerns with residents and did not directly campaign for re-election.

Hendricks appeared at a rally in August in support of Council President Ray O'Connell, who launched a write-in campaign for mayor after failing to best Pawlowski in the Democratic primary.

Hendricks tells 69 News the issue was brought to his attention by a constituent. He says it's as a steward of public tax dollars that he wants the matter investigated. 

He says his support of an opponent of Pawlowski in the current campaign is immaterial. 

Those were not the last comments made on Pawlowski during Wednesday's council meeting.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Councilwoman Candida Affa thanked public works Director Craig Messinger for giving council a direct answer during a budget meeting on Oct. 11. It was at that meeting that Messinger told council that a cracked pipe had caused the Cedar Beach Pool to lose thousands of gallons of water.

Pawlowski said in a Morning Call article later that the pool's reconstruction was not under Messinger's purview and that he had, in essence, spoken out of turn.

O'Connell also thanked Messinger for answering the question and called him a "straight shooter." The president, who is running as an independent candidate for mayor, then said that council is continually "stonewalled" by Pawlowski when seeking salient and relevant information.

"It has to end," O'Connell said of what he called the mayor's stonewalling.

In other business, council approved the purchase of new equipment that will upgrade the police department's radio system. The city will use 911 funds which had been approved by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Council approved a $1 million down payment for the purchase during their meeting, with $200,000 being allocated to for the debt service in 2018, and annual payment of $535,308 for the next five years beginning in 2019.

Councilman Roger MacLean was absent from Wednesday night's meeting.

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