Friday, October 7, 2016

Same Issues In Allentown As Emma Tropiano Dealt With

Love her or hate her not too many issues have changed in Allentown over the last 14 years.

A few days ago The Morning Call reported-- "Julio Guridy, one of two Hispanic members on Allentown City Council, thought it would be nice to honor that burgeoning community by hanging Spanish-language street signs up" along the 7th street corridor.

After a firestorm both for and against this brought to mind many of these same issues Allentown has been dealing with well past a decade. So I decided to do a post on some of the past issues from years ago when Emma was still around.

Emma controversial as she was wasn't a simple person to comprehend. In order to understand why a brief history is in order. First off she died in 2002 at the age of 71. She and her husband (who died years earlier) opened a small grocery store at 339 N. 9th street in 1956. Later she served four terms on Allentown city council ending January 2000. Here's a few issues on where she stood. * She was against fluoridation of Allentown's water.
* Helped get enacted a English only ordinance in 1994 (later other thrown).
* Tried to outlaw sofa's on outdoor porches.
* Opposed yard sales.
* Apposed rental inspections, but require licenses for rentals.
* Blamed 99% of crimes committed on Hispanics.

Some may accuse her of being racist but according to one Morning Call article in 03/09/1989-- " It's not that Tropiano has never met with Hispanics. Last year, she met with roughly 40 who were begging city officials to protect them from the drug- related violence that plagues their poor neighborhoods. Her friends often tell stories about the days in her store when she sold milk and disposable diapers on credit to minority families who were going through hard times."

Indeed she was a colorful if not a somewhat controversial character. I also remember a time she fell behind paying her own water and real estates taxes on a rental property which she eventually resolved. So she did have a few of her own problems.

Point Is...
Many of these same issues she raised we are still dealing with today. Things like the rentals, litter on sidewalks, those unable to communicate in English, who's committing crimes and various other issues which are as controversial today as back when she, what some may say, was too outspoken about them.

Whether the woman was right or wrong should not be the question What should be of concern is some 14 years after she passed these same issues she raised are still around confronting us remaining to be resolved.

Let it be said of Emma Tropiano's legacy, she was the one who first confronted and challenged us to think about them.

Photo Courtesy: The Morning Call Archives

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