Wednesday, June 26, 2013

TIF Defeated by Lehigh County Commissioners

Back in mid May, I wrote

If there is still hope to stop this (the TIF) Government intrusion into the free market, it is in the hands of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners.

 Tonight, that hope was rewarded.

The Lehigh County Board of Commissioners voted, by a surprising 6-3 margin, to reject the Hamilton Crossings project TIF. Republican Commissioners Dougherty and Creighton voted in favor of the project and they were joined by Democrat David Jones of Allentown. Commissioners Osborne, Ott, Scheller, Schware, Mazziotti, and Democrat Dan McCarthy voted against the project.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Throughout the course of the evening, numerous Union bosses and corporate fat cats along with the Citizens for Strong Communities Educrat types out of Lower Macungie Township begged the Commissioners to bring all these wonderful jobs and tax revenue to the area. Opposing the mob were a few Tea Party activists asking the Commissioners to remember the proper role of Government is to stay out of the private sector.

I wasn't surprised to see the Union goons out in force. If TIF financing is used, it is mandated that prevailing wage be paid. Wonder if the developers ever factored that extra cost into their calculations?

For my part, I don't blame the developers for seeking a TIF. Were I in their position, I might well have done the same. I truly hope they decide to go ahead with the project anyway. They can afford it and they will make a profit. Lehigh County is the fastest growing county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that growth is being led by affluent Lower Macungie Township.

My remarks to the Board of Commissioners:

Good evening, Commissioners. My name is Julian Stolz and I am a resident of the Borough of Emmaus. Though many of my fellow board members might wish otherwise, I am also a member of the East Penn School Board of Directors.

I'm here again this evening to oppose the creation of the Hamilton Crossings TIF.

I'm asking you tonight to be consistent in the way you govern. 

You opposed increasing the size of government and struck down the bi-county health bureau. Be consistent now and oppose the creation of the TIF which is nothing more than corporate welfare for out of town developers. Leave that kind of government to Allentown and Mayor Ed Pawlowski.

You oppose increased government spending and taxes because you know the government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Be consistent now and do not give in to the temptation at this prospect of the legendary bag of found money!

You unanimously supported county-wide reassessment, not because it was popular, but because it was the right thing to do. Do not give in to those saying they cannot wait to have a Costco in the area and oppose giving special privileges to multi-million dollar corporations. Be consisent in doing what is right and making sure everyone plays by the same rules.

Commissioner Jones, I'd like to take a moment to speak now directly to you. I know you believe in those who are able to afford it paying their fair share. Please be consistent now and don't support special tax privileges for multi-million dollar corporations and wealthy out of town developers.

The Lehigh County Commissioners, lead by the Reform Team, have consistently provided leadership in changing how government does business. Be consistent now and vote the TIF down tonight.

Thank you.
 I backed Percy Dougherty in his primary this year against the more Conservative Scott Aquila. I have no regrets about doing so. I know Percy and have done for about 8 years. I knew he would vote as he did tonight. He's never been deceptive with me about who he is.

Tom Creighton found a whitewash "Conservative" argument in supporting the TIF because it helps the developers get around a lot of the government red tape put up at the State level. I don't believe that's his reasoning at all. I think he knows he's facing a tough challenge from former County Commissioner Bill Leiner and he needed a vote to moderate his record. That's ok.

Luminaries from around the East Penn School District attended.

My fellow Director Mike Policano spoke against the TIF and believed that we might be able to get a development in there that would provide full funding without giving them special tax privileges. I'm not inclined to agree.

I always believed that a TIF would, financially, be a win-win for everyone involved. I opposed it based on ideological principle.

I don't believe in government intrusion into the free market even when both corporate and government interests are well served. It's just counter to the Capitalist society America was founded upon. Unlike many in my party. I am consistent. I oppose both Corporate special interests as well as Unions and Government welfare.

Finally, I owe Brad Osborne special recognition. Tonight, Brad informed me that he was an avid reader of my blog. I've always gotten along well with him, but I've never voted for him. In 2011, I voted for the 3 Reform Team candidates on the November ballot along with Democrat Dennis Pearson.
 When the vote was finally called for, Brad voted against the TIF. I was stunned. Pleasantly so. He will almost assuredly have my support in the future. Thank you sir, for doing what is right.

The Union folk that were present didn't take losing too well. They shouted (at me) "enjoy being on the unemployment line" and exclaimed "I'm glad the economy is so great that we can just throw 1000 jobs down the drain." I couldn't help myself. I retorted "Maybe you shouldn't have voted to re-elect Obama!" One replied "What does that have to do with the economy in Lehigh County?" -sigh-

Sometimes, these people do it to themselves. #Schadenfreude

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