Saturday, December 30, 2006

First Time Homebuyer Seminar Series

All the classes they start at 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. three Saturdays consecutively. If you miss one you can make it up whenever you have the chance. When you completed the 3 Saturdays you receive a certification in the mail. One on one appointments are available to check your credit report and your debt to income ratio to see how much of a house you can afford and what work you need to do in order to get approved by a bank.

There are many programs to help with down payment and closing.

When: 8:15 a.m. - 1 p.m., Jan. 13, 20, 27

Where: Allentown

Admission: FREE!!

Sponsored by Community Action Financial Services.

Friday, December 29, 2006

NET radio appearance rescheduled

The NET's radio appearance has been rescheduled for Friday, January 5th at 4 p.m. on WGPA AM 1100.

Representatives from the Network of Young Professionals will be guests on AM 1100, at 4 p.m. Friday, January 5th. President Abraham Nemitz (, and Vice President Wendy Gerlach ( will be discussing affordable housing on Real Estate Riches.

Be sure to tune in! You can also listen online.

Allentown's Mayor year in review

An interesting interview appeared today in the Morning Call with Allentown's mayor, Ed Pawlowski.

Q: What would you say is the most difficult thing you accomplished in the past year?

A: I think there were (several) things that were difficult that we were able to hurdle. First off we had to restructure the entire budget and come in under our initial projections, which was a huge accomplishment for us. To come in $3.8 million under a budget that was already cut by $2.2 million was an amazing feat of discipline and determination on the part of the staff here at City Hall.

The second thing was the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) contract. At the same time that I lost a quarter of my police force, I had to basically sue the city police and the FOP, which was a major challenge. Everybody told us we didn't have a chance, we had no chance of winning, it was an impossible task. We took on the task anyway. We put together a top legal team of Max Davison, who understood the local legal dynamics here, as well as Ken Jarin, who was the top notch labor lawyer in the entire state. We took on an established union structure that was perhaps the most powerful in the state and we won. We got retirees to give back part of their retirement benefits, we restructured some basic premises of the contract, and we saved the city real money. ...we are going to save $16 million over the next 20 years. That is pretty significant. At the same time we had to rebuild the police force. So I walked this very fine line of suing the police union while we were asking them to do more and trying to encourage police morale and efficiency on the street, which was an incredibly difficult task.

We took it on and at the same time we started rebuilding our force, putting in a new police command structure that has really proved beneficial and building up the performance and morale of the force. They made some significant drug busts this year. They have really attacked head on some of the gang infrastructure that had taken root in the city and they are making some significant strides at weeding it out, even being down a quarter of the force. They have made just as many arrests this year with a quarter less police officers and that was the struggle. To go after the union because of budgetary reasons at the same time trying to work with them and develop a more proficient police force. Those were really the major struggles this year...

Q: Allentown fell short in its bid for a casino. How will that effect the city's financial health?

A: I never counted on [getting an influx of revenue from a casino] when I took this job. Our goal will be the same, to rebuild our economy and use whatever resources we have in our broader community. We have some great resources in our corporations, to try to rebuild this great city in a way that will bring it back to the prominence it once had in the Lehigh Valley. We cannot let the city continue to decline. I don't care how well Bethlehem does, if Allentown, which is literally joined at the hip, continues to decline, it will drag everything down with it. My goal is to make sure that doesn't happen. I think we have a great city. I think we have a lot of potential development on the horizon that will have some significant impact to bring the city back, and the goal will be to continue that process as we started from day one to rebuild our economy to bring us back solid fiscal discipline and rebuild performance in City Hall, increase our economic development activity and stabilize our neighborhoods. We are going to do that with or without a casino. That was the goal from the beginning, it is going to be the goal going in.

I think we have a great city. I think Allentown has a bright horizon. We have a city that is the third largest city in the state , that has a strong south side and east side and west side. We have some struggling neighborhoods in our downtown but this city is going to come back and it is going to come back with or without a casino. We will have a much harder road to hoe here, but this city will come back and we have a lot of great opportunities we are going to continue to pursue, and our goal is to see this city come back to its former prominence that existed in the past.

Q: What about the crime problem? The most recent FBI crime statistics show violent crime in Allentown is on the rise. Is it frustrating that is not a problem you can easily fix in an immediate way?

A: I think we are having an impact. The problem is we don't have the resources to really impact it the way I would like to. Remember, we are down a quarter of our officers. We are, quite honestly like most cities in this country, in a war. We are really in warfare against the drug dealers and gangs that are really trying to take over our neighborhoods and pedal their products to kids in our communities. We are fighting this as a war. We are going to take down their communication, we are going to disrupt their recruiting efforts, we are going to go after every one of their strongholds, we are going to push them out of town, and that is our goal, and we are doing that even with the fact that we have been low on manpower.

Our guys have really been stepping up to the plate. They have (been) working hand in hand with our district attorney. Just a couple of years ago, there was open warfare between the Allentown Police Department and the district attorney. I think we have the best relationship we have had, and we should have because we have a great district attorney who is doing a good job in prosecuting our criminals.

But I am going to take whatever resources I can and work with whatever departments I am going to work with to address this issue. We have restructured our police department. I think we have a good command team. We have more patrols out. We are doing joint operations with the state police on a more consistent basis. We collaborated with other cities and got money for the first time to go after gang intervention and prevention activities.

After rebuilding our force, we are rebuilding our vice as well. We are going to have our (surveillance) cameras, which will have a dramatic impact on the ability to do these crimes out in the open. We are going to expand our network as far as we possibly can expand it over the next year, and we have close to $1 million allocated not only for downtown but for all the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown.

Do we have a way to go? Absolutely. But we have taken some huge, huge bites out of this network. Almost every homicide has been solved. We are solving homicides from last year. We are solving them in record time. The message I want to get across is if you get caught in Allentown, you are going to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I think we are going to see a dramatic decrease going into next year. We are taking (crime) on strategically just like we are taking on the budget. We are taking it on piece by piece by piece, going after these criminals and we are starting to have an impact, we are starting to have a dent in crime.

There is crime, but I think the perception far outstrips the reality in many cases. (Without reversing that) we are never going to get true economic revitalization in the city. This is something I will continue to focus on.

Q: Closing thoughts?

A: We have a lot of challenges on the horizon, and I have been open and honest with the citizens about the challenges that exist. But we also have a lot of potential on the horizon too. I think this is a great city, it is a city that is really coming back, it is a city on the precipice of redevelopment. We are going to get over that hill to the light on the other side, and this city is going to become a great city again.

More here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

NET on the radio tomorrow - 12/29

Representatives from the Network of Young Professionals will be guests on AM 1400 WEST, Easton at noontime tomorrow. President Abraham Nemitz (, and Vice President Wendy Gerlach ( will be discussing affordable housing.

Be sure to tune in over lunch!

January 19th Street Film Series

Jan. 2 - 7:30 p.m.
Off the Black

Jan. 9 - 7:30 p.m.
The History Boys

Jan. 16 - 7:30 p.m.
Come Early Morning

Jan. 23 - 7:30 p.m.
The Last King of Scotland

Jan. 30 - 7:30 p.m.

Where: 19th St. Theatre

Cost: $7, or $5 any Tuesday night movie for NET members.

Not a member? Join now.

Betcha didn't know...

In July 2006, Money magazine included Bethlehem in its list of "Top 100 Places to Live."

Allentown Art Museum's Art After Hours: Junque or Jewel?

Have a rockin’ good time as we gaze at gorgeous gems, talk collectibles, and taste fine wines. Harry L. Rinker of Rinker Enterprises, HGTV celeb and host of the nationally syndicated antiques radio call-in show Whatcha Got, will please the crowd with witty insights into collectibles, while C. Paul Stubbe, G.G. of Charles Paul Gem Designs shares his knowledge of gems and jewels. Sip the fine wines of Franklin Hill Vineyards under the guidance of Elaine Pivinski, owner. We’ll make sure you don’t lose your glass by guiding you in making your own wine glass charm! Shake off the winter chill—and heat up at the Museum.

When: Thursday, Jan. 11, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Allentown Art Museum

Cost: $10 for NET members, $15 for non-NET members

Not a member? Join now.

Lehigh Valley Housing Market continues to cool slowly

Home prices in the Lehigh Valley are retreating slightly after three blockbuster years in which homes appreciated 10 percent or more on average. At the peak of the housing market in 2005, homes sold in a matter of weeks. The market was bolstered by strong demand from home buyers moving to the Valley from more expensive towns in New York and New Jersey, and, to a lesser extent, the Philadelphia area.

Valley homes in the lower range continue to sell quickly. But houses in the mid to upper range are lingering on the market for a few months or more. On average, homes are staying on the market for 47 days, or about seven weeks. Compared with previous years when the market was sluggish, that's brisk. For example, in the fall of 2000, homes stayed on the market for 67 days on average.

But a year ago, homes were moving more quickly, with an average market time of less than six weeks.

The slowdown also has affected the price for newly constructed homes, which skyrocketed in recent years. The average price of a new four-bedroom home with 21/2 baths rose 1 percent in November to $388,000, compared with the same period last year.

Lehigh Valley real estate agents and others observers of the housing market stress the market for homes in the Lehigh Valley remains healthy . They say t he feverish pace of sales and the skyrocketing prices of the past three years was not the norm.

But many sellers are reluctant to lower asking prices despite the fact that homes are sitting longer than last year.

''I think if people are really serious, they have to take a hard look at what they are asking,'' said Lehigh Valley appraiser James Keim. ''For the most part, it has really leveled off.''

More here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

NET Organizational Meeting

This is when we discuss the business side of the NET. Have a good idea? Want to volunteer? Have questions? Please attend to discuss.

All Members and non-members welcome.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Wired Cafe, 520 Main Street, Bethlehem 18018

Admission: FREE!!

More information.

To get the latest news about NET events and more sign-up for our weekly e-mail list here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

NET Guerilla Marketing Night

In honor of January being our Membership Month, we have come up with an event to help us make a name for ourselves.

We will be hitting the streets, Guerilla Marketing style, to get the word out about the Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to blanket the Lehigh Valley with NET posters and postcards. Each group will be armed with tons of marketing materials and a disposable camera to take pictures of each local business you commandeer. All pictures will then be posted here for all to see! To sweeten the pot a little more we will even give each participant a FREE (yes, we said FREE!) NET T-shirt.

We will meet in the Wegmans parking lot on Rt 512 in Bethlehem to distribute materials at 6:30 pm and then re-group afterwards.

When: Tuesday, Jan. 9, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Wegmans (5000 Wegmans Drive, Bethlehem, PA)

Admission: FREE!!

Contact: Wendy Gerlach at

More information.

To get the latest news about NET events and more sign-up for our weekly e-mail list here.

Ethnic Eats: Nawab Indian Restaurant

Nawab Indian Restaurant
13 E 4th St
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 691-0388

Food type: Indian

Monday, December 25, 2006

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from
now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.