Lehigh Valley

City Council seeks to oust Pawlowski

VIDEO: Allentown City Council hires...

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - On Wednesday night more than half of Allentown City Council gave up on Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

Council approved the hiring of an attorney to review the mayor's conduct and consider taking actions against him that would, if successful, ultimately remove him from office.

The bill was sponsored by President Ray O'Connell, Vice President Daryl Hendricks, Councilwoman Candida Affa and Councilman David McGuire.

The four sponsors were the only votes the bill received, but were sufficient to achieve a majority. Councilwoman Cynthia Mota, Councilman Julio Guridy and Councilman Roger MacLean voted against the measure.

Wednesday night's vote simply allows council to hire an attorney. However, the bill issued sharp language that the mayor's capacity to lead the city has been significantly compromised due to last month's indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on more than 50 criminal counts. 

"The city council requests that Edwin Pawlowski, who faces over 50 counts of corrupt practices relating to managing city affairs, fulfill his final duties to the City of Allentown and do what is right: resign." 

The bill also establishes five potential actions that could, or will be taken, to see to it that Pawlowski leaves City Hall for good.

After the attorney "works with council to review said conduct "of the mayor," he or she could do the following:

  • - File a complaint to the State Ethics Commission
  • - File a complaint with the Allentown Ethics Commission
  • - File a petition with Gov. Wolf to remove Mayor Pawlowski from office
  • - Draft an ordinance authorizing an investigation pursuant to Section 210 of the Home Rule Charter to determine possible malfeasance in office by the mayor due to noncompliance with the charter, state and/or other laws and inappropriate use of city resources and to take necessary actions
  • - Draft administrative procedures governing a process for the mayor's forfeiture of office pursuant to Section 305 of the Home Rule Charter

In addition, a copy of the resolution will be forwarded to state legislators and Gov. Wolf requesting procedures amending state law authorizing power to municipal governments to remove elected officials for corruption and dereliction of duties.

In building the case against Pawlowski, the resolution notes that acting U.S. District Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania Louis Lappen categorized Pawlowski's behavior as essentially putting a "for sale" sign in front of City Hall in which the mayor sold city work to the highest bidder. The resolution notes the mayor did this through a "series of pay-to-play schemes shaking down businesses and individuals for campaign contributions in exchange for favors."

LINK:  FBI PROBE SPECIAL COVERAGE

Pawlowski was indicted last month and faces more than 50 criminal counts. Those counts include extortion, bribery, fraud, honest services fraud, corruption, wire fraud, mail fraud, alleged conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy and making false statements, among others, according to the resolution.

The conspiracy included the actions of city employees directly under the mayor's supervision who have pleaded guilty. Those people include the city's managing director, director of finance, assistant solicitor and the city controller and others, acting to steer contracts to campaign donors, the legislation notes.

In voting against the resolution Wednesday night, MacLean, who served more than 40 years in law enforcement, said that "criminal justice is moving forward" and that the resolution was "redundant" and ultimately "a waste of taxpayer money.

Mota equated Pawlowski's continued reign as the chief executive akin to a "nightmare" that she wished would end.

Guridy said that although the legislation had "some good points," it should have really been divided into two different bills because it was seeking different courses of action.

In supporting the measure, Hendricks, who, like MacLean, also had a 40-year-career in law enforcement, said that he respected his colleagues' views and MacLean's experience in law enforcement. However, Hendricks said that he had never arrested anyone on 54 counts of anything during his careeer.


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