Let's Rebuild a New Johnstown Together !
Let's Rebuild a New Johnstown Together !
Jeff was born and raised in Johnstown and has the education, leadership, business experience, honesty, integrity and skill set to get Johnstown moving in the right direction.
Jeff embraces the role as a Public Servant to listen and work for the residents and Taxpayers of Johnstown - who have gone far too long without having a voice in Local government.
Jeff appreciates that rebuilding Johnstown is a Team effort and will remain accountable for any and all of the decisions, actions, successes and failures of Local Government.
My Vision for Johnstown
By Jeff Hammer
Candidate for Mayor of Johnstown 2021
I was born in the Oakhurst Homes of Johnstown before moving to Richland and ultimately Ferndale – where I graduated from High School. I have earned Degrees in Finance from IUP, German and International Finance from the University of Salzburg in Austria and finally a Graduate Degree in Business Administration and Management from Harvard University – which I have been told is a unique path for someone from the Johnstown Projects. I have been an Instructor in the Duquesne University Palumbo School of Business – and have worked in the Energy Business for almost 40 years – where I currently travel domestically and internationally meeting with Global Energy Managers, CEOs and CFOs of multinational Fortune 500 Companies to discuss Solutions to reduce their overall Energy Spend and Budget across the organization.
Growing up in Johnstown in the 1960s and 1970s was fantastic. There was virtually no crime, drug use was very rarely mentioned, and the word Blight never came up during conversation. Everyone who wanted a job was working and the downtown area was always a buzz of activity every Saturday. There was no discussion of how many people were living below the Poverty Line – and always a myriad of activities to choose to participate during the week and on weekends.
Can you imagine telling anyone living in Johnstown in this era that their City would one day be the Poorest City in PA, 7th Poorest in the USA, 2nd Fastest Shrinking in US and be among the highest in the US and PA for Blight, Crime, Drugs, Poor Health, Unemployment, Pension Deficit – and their home would one day be worth less than the balance of their mortgage? No one would have ever believed this could happen.
I have many friends that have been away from Johnstown for many years – and when they return, they simply don’t recognize anything. They ask me if there was another flood or some sort of natural or man-made disaster that occurred in Johnstown while they were away.
While I never imagined myself returning to Johnstown – but I simply cannot stand by and do nothing and watch my Hometown fade into oblivion.
While Johnstown will never be the great City with a population of 60,000+ it once was – it can be a great City again with a population of 19,000+. But the path for Johnstown to become a great City again from where it is today is very narrow and unforgiving and allows for no mistakes.
Because Johnstown has been on a steady decline since the 1977 Flood – and no lifelong Johnstown resident has been able to implement the Solution(s) that are required to turn the tide for Johnstown – it’s clear the help for Johnstown will need to come from someone who returns to the City with a burning passion to remedy the years of Johnstown moving in the wrong direction.
I am quite certain that I am that person – and given the confidence I have in my own abilities and convictions – I will resign after serving as Mayor of Johnstown after 24 months – if the City of Johnstown appears on ANY and all lists detailing the negative highlights of Johnstown.
The following is an overview of my Solutions to return Johnstown to a place where the residents are proud to call home again :
Pension Budget – Offer Pension Plans participants incentives (i.e. Cash Payment and 10 to 20 Year Term Life Insurance and Long Term Care and free admission to Johnstown Mill Rats baseball games etc) to accept an Incentive Package and Rollover into 403B and/or 401K Plan yielding a higher interest rate and self directed monthly disbursements that can be adjusted and managed to the needs of each individual. The City claims to be contributing $ 4+ million per year to fund the Pension Budget (approx 40 +/- cents of every tax dollar received) – which approx 390+/- former and current City employees participate – so for every 97 +/- former and/or current City employees choosing to “opt out” of the Pension Plan for a 403B Plan and/or 401K Plan it would save the City more than $ 1+ million per year. Because the City Pension Plan has yielded less than 1 % per year in the past – this creates a win-win situation with the former and/or current City employees obtaining a substantially higher yield through a self-directed Retirement Plan – while the City can redirect these funds toward much needed Economic Redevelopment etc.
Fire Dept Budget – reduce the Fire Dept budget by 15 to 20 % - as previously recommended within the City of Johnstown 7th Amended Recovery Plan. Replace salary reductions with Blight Incentives etc, for example, offering $ 4,000+/- for every Team of Fireman who razed one Blighted Home in the City of Johnstown during their “time off” shift. Given the necessary support and equipment – if the Fire Dept Staff razed two homes per week for 4 years – and the Public Works Dept was staffed at a level to raze three homes per week for 4 years – approx. 1,040 Blighted Homes in Johnstown would be razed in 4 years that would both (1) eliminate ALL Blight from the City and (2) substantially reduce the current $ 8,000+/- being paid by the City to raze homes and (3) provide more than $400,000+ per year in incentive compensation etc for Fire Dept staff.
Public Works Budget – at least one and preferably two new Public Works employees should be hired “exclusively” with the task of mitigating Blight in the City of Johnstown. These new employee(s) should be supported with the necessary resources to raze at least three Blighted Homes per week – and submit monthly progress reports of their efforts. Based upon the PA National Guard results for razing homes – a goal of razing three homes per week to eliminate Blight in Johnstown in 48 months is very realistic.
Police Dept Budget – no major changes should be made to the City of Johnstown Police Dept Budget – as it is comparable in both size and expense to similar Cities in PA. Because more than 56 % of the total crime in the City of Johnstown is Larceny and more than 27 % is Burglary – accounting for more than 83 % of the total crime – there should be a focus on developing a Solution for these issues, for example, Neighborhood Watch Groups etc. I believe a much more liberal and expanded use of the Johnstown K-9 Unit, tasers, Undercover Officers, Police Bicycles, etc could be a strong deterrent against drug offenders etc in the City of Johnstown. There are currently 12 modern specially outfitted JPD Police Bicycles that were paid for with taxpayer dollars that are slowly deteriorating in the JPD storage locker. These mobile units should be cleaned and tuned-up and offered to any JPD officer as an alternative to foot patrol - with additional part-time trained officers hired to patrol on these units that offer the element of surprise much more than a patrol vehicle. Any and all drug money, vehicles, etc seized by the JPD should be applied toward the JPD budget, training, equipment, etc as opposed to becoming the property of Cambria County - which uses the funds for County Projects etc. Having the JPD use these funds would both increase the effectiveness of the JPD - and lower City of Johnstown taxes.
Economic Stimulus Program – as an extension of the City of Johnstown JDL and Micro JDL Small Business Loan Programs – I would like to create a more appealing and more aggressive Mini JDL Loan Program that would offer low interest loans up to $ 7,000 – structured as $ 2,000 grant from the City – and a $ 5,000 loan at 3 % interest repayable over a term of 36 months at approx. $ 145.41 per month. These small low interest loans could create hundreds of new jobs in the City of Johnstown – and be aggressively advertised and used to fill the more than 100+ vacant storefronts and retail spaces in the City of Johnstown with a very wide and diverse variety of small businesses. Lower Property Tax incentives could be offered to the Property Owners by the City of Johnstown in exchange for lower monthly rent charges by the Property Owners for the new start-up business owner(s). A number of smaller and more limited loans could be offered for more mobile and portable small businesses such as food and beverage carts, food trucks, tricycle taxis, portable smokers, etc that are common place in progressive cities.
Crime/Drug/Violence Prevention Initiatives – Many people have asked me how to prevent crime/drugs/violence in a City that is ranked as one of the top 5 % most dangerous City in the US. A city that reported more than 100+ gunshots fired during August 2020. There's clearly no easy answer and no silver bullet - but the Solution needs begin by listening to the members of the JPD who are on the front lines of this every day. I have recently met with the JPD on several occasions to ask what they need that they don't have to bring a sense of Peace back to the City of Johnstown that so many residents desperately want. I found all of their requests extremely reasonable. They no longer want to wear polyester uniforms that are always uncomfortable and they want to choose their own footwear - so they can focus on work and not sweating or freezing in 1970s style uniforms. They want the ability to use one of the 12 fully outfitted JPD bicycles in a JPD locker to pursue criminals in a low profile manner at times. They want proper training for a wide range of items and tactical vests that actually fit - none of which they receive. While drug dealers allege to have no fear - I have been told they cry like a child at the threat of being tasered - which would seem to be a key deterrent to crime prevention etc. I believe JPD K-9 can be a second. Finally and perhaps most important the JPD confirms a majority of drug dealers, etc they arrest are from the greater Philadelphia area and greater New Jersey and are being brought into the City of Johnstown by at least one Agency that focuses on housing. This practice must end immediately - as the JPD confirm when they arrest 3 criminals invited into Johnstown from other areas - after which 4 new criminals are brought in - their ability to fight and deter crime is so severely under mined they become almost completely ineffective.
Home Enhancement Program – As an extension of the existing City of Johnstown Owner Occupied Housing Redevelopment Program – I would like to create a three tier Program that would offer homeowners in the City of Johnstown with very limited financial resources the ability to (1) have the front of their home pressure washed and (2) the floor of their porch painted or (3) all of their porch painted with price points of $ 250, $ 500 and $ 1,000 depending upon the service – which could be offered as a Secured Loan from the City under a 12 month term – as the City is currently doing thru their Emergency Rehab Program. This Program would create dozens of new Seasonal jobs – which could be paid on a net-back basis of 50 % of total job cost – creating a win-win-win scenario for the City, homeowner and worker.
Summer Intern Program – because of the very limited financial resources of the City of Johnstown – a Summer Intern Program is the best and most economical method to achieve many of the goals and initiatives of the City. Hiring 36 Summer Interns at a stiped of $ 150 per week to work 20 hours per week (Federal minimum wage equivalent) for 10 weeks would cost the City $ 54,000 – and could accomplish a tremendous amount of work that would otherwise not get done. Supporting the Vision 2025 Sustainability goals, renovating the new Johnstown Community Center, working on the Incline Plane Trails, planting, restoring, repairing, etc could be some of the many tasks assigned to an Intern Team across Johnstown over the course of the Summer.
Berkley Hills Golf Course – allocate a modest budget, i.e. $15,000+/- to make much needed and long over due improvements to Berkley Hills Golf course (narrower fairways, deeper sand traps and taller rough with colorful wildflowers) and add Frisbee Golf, Glow Golf and Foot Golf (golf with a soccer ball) to increase attendance. Require that any group of two or more golfers take a four caddy (marks balls, tends pin, reads greens, etc) with them – at a cost of $ 18+/- for 9 holes. This would create more than 18+ seasonal employment opportunities in Johnstown. Purchase a concessions cart to create additional revenue and seasonal job - while potentially adding a small rope tow for Winter sledding in addition to using the existing golf cart trails for Cross County Skiing and snowshoeing - making Berkley Hills a year round Family Activities Center.
Roxbury Park – host Friday and/or Saturday evening concerts and movies during the Summer at the Roxbury Bandshell that provide an opportunity for local food vendors to offer food and drinks – to offset cost of band(s) etc. Host an annual Johnstown Jam Music Festival (similar to the Mountain Jam Music Festival) during Summer that includes overnight camping etc in Roxbury Park focusing on local musicians, crafts and food vendors. Replace sawdust on Roxbury volleyball court with white sand and install Splash Pad(s) for additional recreation in Park. Improve concession stand food offerings with more local favorites. Create a small fish pond and beach. Build Stage Lighting Truss above Roxbury Bandshell Stage. Given the staggering population loss of the Youth of Johnstown after high school and college graduation – it is imperative that more focus is concentrated on building positive activities, events and memories so they will remain in the area – as they are the future of Johnstown.
Point Stadium – add modest fireworks display for each home run hit and at the end of each Johnstown Mill Rats and AAABA League etc home baseball game (supervised and implemented by Johnstown Fire Dept). Replace current Concession Stand Lease with local group(s) offering past local favorites from Johnstown that may include, for example, Brownies subs, Dunnies Ham BBQ, Harry’s Pizza, Glosser Bros peanuts, etc. Add $ 2+/- beer and wine night in custom Johnstown cup to boost attendance. Have JHS students and/or cheerleaders sell 50/50 tickets and launch hot dogs, t-shirts, etc to further increase attendance. Explore possible City Inter-league Baseball Team Schedule to create additional revenue and entertainment. Replace burnt out field lighting bulbs for player safety and upgrade sound system and bathrooms for spectator comfort and enjoyment.
Purchase Old Bethlehem Steel Management Club as Community Center – convert Club into Community Center with Municipal Swimming Pool on level 4+ acres of ground included with Club. Make upgrades as needed to “Johnstown Test Kitchen“ to feature culinary skills of local high school chefs – managed by JHS Life Skills staff. Offer low cost elegant dining experience to Johnstown Community that may otherwise not be able to enjoy this experience. Offer chef and dining room staff and Management 30 % net-back or gross proceeds or sales to insure profitability for City. Community Center can also become base for much needed local Youth Groups such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, NAACP, Teen Canteen, etc – in addition to hosting local Bridge Clubs, Exercise Center, etc.
Friends of the Incline Plane Trail etc – these trail systems offer a very unique opportunity for Johnstown to use its existing biking/hiking/walking trail network(s) to attract Tourism by connecting (virtually) all of the various bifurcated trail segments around the area utilizing GIS and the local existing thoroughfares at very little to no cost - similar to what was done with the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This is exactly what Gorham, NH did several years ago – that resulted in a total Revitalization of their downtown and surrounding area(s). The “trails” could be open to a variety of recreational use traffic. A small shelter, benches, campfire areas, solar mobile tel charging stations, tent platforms, water pump well, etc could be added as additional amenities at a modest cost to further attract additional Tourism. Trail Apps could easily be created for iPhone use - and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) utilized at little to no cost to maximize tourism revenue. Incentives (food/lodging discounts etc) could be offered to more than 1+ million Great American Rail-Trail users to visit local area trails.
Vision 2025 – the goals of Vision 2025 are vital to the future success and Sustainability initiatives and objectives of Johnstown – and should always have adequate funding and fully supported moving forward. The goals and objectives of Vision 2025 should be adapted to meet the Sustainability efforts of the City of Johnstown as Blighted properties are razed and perennial wildflowers, vegetable gardens, orchards, laying hens, aquafarming, beekeeping, picnic areas and games such as whiffle ball, horse shoes, bocce ball, etc are developed to replace the newly vacant lots. Ultimately, local home developers could be brought in on a small scale to build single family homes, log cabins, etc on the vacant lots of former Blighted Properties.
War Memorial Authority – while the War Memorial Authority is an independent self-governing and self-sufficient entity from the City of Johnstown – I would like to work in partnership with the War Memorial Authority in an effort to offer a monthly Concert Series featuring recognized artists that can support a 4,001 seat venue – while maintaining affordable ticket prices for local patrons. Any and all revenue derived from the City hosting these events would be allocated to the General Fund and would go toward lowering the tax rate for the residents of Johnstown.
Airport Authority – while the Cambria County Airport Authority is also an independent self-governing and self-sufficient entity separate from the City of Johnstown – I would like to work in unison with the Airport Authority to negotiate with a low cost airline carrier such as Allegiant Air – to offer low cost air service to destinations such as Myrtle Beach/Las Vegas/Ft Lauderdale, etc – similar to what the Latrobe Airport has done with Spirit Air.
Johnstown Housing Authority - while the office of the Mayor of Johnstown has no direct authority over the Johnstown Housing Authority - I would strongly encourage that a much more robust Screening Application Process be utilized in an effort to eliminate or reduce the volume of Applicants from the Central and Eastern part(s) of our State who are manipulating the system for their own benefit. The 1,504 total units managed by the JHA represents a substantial amount of the total population of Johnstown - in fact too much. I would propose that one or more of the oldest units such as Prospect with 110 units or Oakhurst 1 with 100 units - both built in 1943 - be demolished and their residents be relocated to one of the 400+ abandoned (but not blighted) homes owned by the City - after the necessary renovations have been done to each property.
Adult Education Program – an Adult Education Program would serve a two-fold purpose by (1) driving new business and creating new interest in the new businesses that are created from the Economic Development Program and (2) offering entertainment and learning for Johnstown residents on a year-round basis. Classes could include exercise, cooking, dancing, fitness, painting, language, CPR, mixology, etc in addition to classes that support the newly created small business base.
Johnstown Redevelopment Authority – the JRA has several infrastructure issues that need to be resolved in order for it to fulfil its noble purpose and mission of creating employment opportunities for the City of Johnstown. First, as the Mayor has the sole authority and discretion of appointing the JRA Board of Directors - it would be my intention to dissolve the JRA Board of Directors and increase the existing JRA support Staff in their place. Currently the JRA has a five member Board of Directors providing oversight to one Executive Director, one Office Manager and a Sewer Manager. This is an upside down organization - which is always a recipe for failure. Second, the JRA currently reports to itself and is currently accountable to only itself - which is another recipe for failure. I would have the JRA report to the City Council and myself as Mayor - with monthly progress, goal and achievement reports. Third, I have already identified more than $ 500,000 in annual sewage billing costs that can very easily be reduced - and feel that investigating the possibility of outsourcing the management and operations of the JRA sewage function should at least be investigated - if it could save money and reduce the overall operating budget.
Roseland Skating Rink Rehabilitation – at one time in the past Roseland could have been considered one of the anchor businesses of the West End. I have spoken with several people who have recently been inside Roseland who have told me the wood skating floor remains in tact and is in usable condition and the roof remains solid. It is currently owned by a local auto dealer who stores his vintage and antique autos inside the facility to protect them from the elements. I would like to work together with this local business owner to create a win-win scenario where he can be be provided with an alternative location to store his antique autos and receive a modest percent of the future revenue of Roseland - which can then be restored back into a usable roller skating venue for the area youth - in addition to hosting a weekly Polka night, Square Dancing Night, Big Band Night, Oldies Night and Bingo Games during the week. The West End would tremendously benefit from a multi-purpose facility such as this - while the City would reap the benefit of a new source of revenue that could be used to lower the taxes of its residents.
Neighborhood Watch Programs – while controversial at times – I believe Neighborhood Watch Programs can be very effective – particularly given the nature of relatively high Property Crime in the City of Johnstown. I would like to see each one of the Communities in the City of Johnstown have a Neighborhood Watch Leader and Staff of Volunteers for each neighborhood that is supported by the City to acquire items that may include identifying t-shirts, flashlights, whistles, mace, walkie talkies, etc in an effort to reduce the current level of crime in the City of Johnstown.
City Playgrounds and Parks - the City of Johnstown must commit the funding and resources to continue to maintain and upgrade the approx 14+/- badly deteriorating and neglected Playgrounds and Parks in the City of Johnstown. Several of these Parks and Playgrounds have deteriorated so severely they pose a serious safety risk and concern to any child who would use them.
Debt Service – because the City of Johnstown has an eroding population, eroding tax base, deteriorating credit rating etc it is an extremely likely that any future borrowing or issuance of debt (bonds) will be at a significantly higher rate of interest. Which is why it becomes very important the City becomes very creative and begins to think “outside the box” regarding how it can generate revenue from it’s existing asset base in any and all ways possible.
ZipCars – for those not familiar with Zipcars they are an extremely efficient way to rent economy cars by the hour or by the day at any ZipCar station – which is usually a designated parking place in the City. I believe ZipCars could provide an important transportation Solutions for many people living within the City of Johnstown.
Bicycle and Scooter Rentals – entities like B-Cycle, Scoobi, etc are one of many bicycle and scooter rentals that are offered for residents of cities for local Sustainable travel. As one of the unhealthiest Cities and Counties in PA – I believe inexpensive bicycle rentals could be one potential Solution for this issue within the City of Johnstown.
Public Housing Pavilions – all successful crime prevention and crime mitigation Programs are one-part carrot and one-part stick. The stick is of course the Police Dept for that particular area or geography – and the carrot are what actions and/or Programs are taken to reduce or prevent crime before it occurs. The Crime Statistics for Johnstown indicates most of the crimes – which are typically theft in nature – are committed by those living below the Poverty Line – which accounts for almost 40 % of the population of the City of Johnstown. I believe creating small amenities such as picnic pavilions, camp fire rings, etc for those living with very few amenities in the Johnstown Public Housing structures could be one small step in an effort to prevent crime before it occurs – in the hope of focusing on family activities etc.
Free Shop – this has been a huge success in the Braddock area of Pittsburgh – as an alternative to Goodwill, Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul, etc. Any and all clothing and items within the store that have been donated are completely free. Given the very high level of Poverty in the City of Johnstown a Store such as this could be a big step as a Solution in clothing insecurity for both young and old.
City of Johnstown Think Tank – because not all good ideas by any measure – come from our elected Leaders – I would like to create a “Think Tank” composed of one person from each Community in the City of Johnstown to come together as a cohesive unit to create new ideas, goals and initiatives for the City Council and City of Johnstown to undertake. They should receive a modest budget for them to meet independently each month – and then present their thoughts and ideas at each City Council meeting that would be open for consideration and debate.
City of Johnstown Observatory – for a cost of less than $ 3,000+/- a small roll-off roof observatory can be built – which includes the telescope cost. While there’s no question that Johnstown has far more pressing issues than an Observatory – which expense could likely be shared with JHS – it is imperative the City of Johnstown launches items such as this – and similar to this – to build positive memories for the Youth of the City – in an effort to mitigate the mass exodus of the future of the City of Johnstown.
Arts Programs, Theater, Ballet, Music, etc – the City of Johnstown is Blessed to have the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra and their gifted performers – in addition to the Johnstown Concert Ballet. I would like to work with the local Johnstown area high schools as much as pragmatically possible to expand and create new Theater, Musical, etc Season(s) for the residents of Johnstown by having the local area high schools perform their Fall and Spring plays and musicals at a venue within the City of Johnstown easily accessible to residents.
Butterfly Experience – while the City of Johnstown is too small and does not have the tax base to support a zoo of any kind – I would like to see the Sandyvale Greenhouse along the Stoneycreek River along Franklin Street near Hornerstown rehabilitated into a Butterfly sanctuary where the young and old residents of Johnstown could enjoy while Monarch butterflies landed and flew around them. With a relatively modest amount of work and expense the workers of the Johnstown Summer Intern Program could rehabilitate this structure with plants, chrysalises, glass panes, etc – which could also serve as an indoor herb garden in the Winter for the residents of Johnstown after a small energy efficient heater was installed.
Outdoor Ice Rink – a portable seasonal ice rink could be very easily installed at a very modest cost in one of the illuminated court areas of Roxbury Park offering outdoor skating and ice hockey during the day and evening hours when the temperature falls below 32 degrees.
Summer Camtran Service – there are many children of families living below the Poverty Line in Johnstown that do not own their own transportation and are limited to the boundaries of the local Public Transportation System. Many of the children of the families have never seen the Quemahoning or a beach or caught a fish. I would like to work together with Camtran to provide weekly transportation service during the Summer from the City of Johnstown to the Quemahoning Reservoir returning later the same day – so the children of lesser privilege have access to enjoy the same amenities as others.
Johnstown Pass – as an extension of the existing Berkley Hills Municipal Golf Course Season Pass – I would like to include a multi-tier pass known as the Johnstown Pass – that could be customized and offered to the residents of Johnstown that would attempt to leverage the assets of Johnstown and include admission to all events at the Point Stadium, Roxbury Park, Johnstown Community Center and Berkley Hills Municipal Golf Course.
Johnstown Marathon – if the Johnstown Marathon paid a very modest amount to have the course distance “officially” measured it could become potentially become certified as a qualifying Course for larger marathons such as the NY and Boston Marathon(s) etc – which could potentially create a much greater interest and participation. Because of the extreme hilly nature of the course – creating a more level course or one with decreasing elevation could also be possible to increase athlete participation. Hosting bicycle event prior to the Marathon could also potentially increase interest and greater attendance.
Cottage Industries – while an organization offering to hire a large workforce with diverse skills is one of the goals to stimulate the Local Economy of Johnstown – the potential for the City of Johnstown to financially support small cottage industries that require very small investments that provide income opportunities for residents should not be overlooked. Such an industry could include the glass and/or art glass industry that requires a small annealing furnace, Silica Sand, etc – all of which can be purchased for less than $10,000 – providing a potential new revenue stream for residents who are inclined to learn a new skill. With more than 70+ vacant JRA properties – there is no shortage of space for these kinds of opportunities.
Trout Stocking - while trout stocking in PA is typically done by the PA Fish Commission or Private Clubs – there are several small streams in the City of Johnstown that once held an abundance of trout – and could slowly be propagated with trout again – that could be present an attractive activity for people visiting Johnstown from out of town. I would propose a very modest first stocking to test the success of this Program.
City of Johnstown Flood Tax – since 1936 the Commonwealth of PA has collected approx. $15.4 billion (or $300 million annually) through an 18 % liquor tax known as the Johnstown Flood Tax. The proceeds of this tax are deposited into the Commonwealth of PA General Budget - none of which is directly received or distributed to the City of Johnstown. Most people who purchase alcohol in PA believe the City of Johnstown directly benefits from this tax - which it does not. The Commonwealth of PA Criminal Law Code would treat this as Fraud or Theft by Deception if it was applied to an individual. I feel the City of Johnstown should make some effort to recover part of the $15.4 billion that has been collected by using its name.
City of Johnstown Parades etc – in an effort to build a stronger sense of Community and stronger bond between its Residents – the City of Johnstown should include and offer additional amenities such as BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs, drinks etc at no charge to residents during all Parades and Community Events. There are additional events the City could host for its residents during the course of the year such as a Community Corn Boil and the recognition and Observance of Juneteenth Day – in addition to allocating more resources and funding to each Community for their individual Christmas Holiday observances.
Convention Center – it is my understanding the Residents of Johnstown have essentially paid for the Convention Center - which has never generates a profit during its existence. All too often the strategy of " this is how we have always done things " is applied as a Solution. I would propose that whoever manages the Convention Center be mandated to document their monthly call, meeting and proposal log at every City Council meeting to detail their business initiatives and efforts to generate revenue for the City of Johnstown.
City of Johnstown Gasoline/Fuel Cooperative - I have spoke with the owner of the West End Gulf Gas Station who has agreed to work together with the City of Johnstown to launch a Gasoline/Fuel Cooperative for the residents of the City of Johnstown in an effort to reduce the price per gallon that residents of the City of Johnstown current pay for gasoline from one dominant local gasoline retailer. As opposed to adding a $.50 per gallon margin per gallon of gasoline - the West End Gulf would agree to add a $.25 per gallon margin per gallon of gasoline - substantially reducing the cost paid for gasoline by local residents. Because the net effect on gasoline sales would most likely more than double - the net margin or profit of the station on gasoline sales would commensurately increase. As part of the agreement - the City would be required to compensate one person dedicated to pumping gas/customer service - with the projected increase in customer traffic.
City of Johnstown Building Improvement Program - it's imperative the air quality of the Public Safety building be improved asap to provide everyone working within the building a safe and clean working environment. I would also strive to have all of the City of Johnstown properties LEED's certified to promote the City commitment toward sustainability. I believe the appearance of City Hall would be greatly enhanced with Architectural Lighting similar to the Stone Bridge - and additions to Central Park such as a cast iron pedestal water fountain, bird houses/feeders and a free telephone calling station, etc would enhance the area.
City of Johnstown Gaslight District - create a gaslight district surrounding Central Park similar to the Adams Morgan cultural district in Washington, DC to attract a diverse ethnic cultural mix of restaurants and nightlife in the downtown area with an emphasis on the local historic charm to attract residents to the eclectic cuisine and nightlife.
City of Johnstown Partnership with WCRO 1230 AM - create a partnership with WCRO 1230 AM " Voice of the Trojans " to promote all new and existing local City of Johnstown business at a very economic advertising and marketing rate. Offer free and discount coupons to increase base of listeners. More than 58 % of all Johnstown residents over the age of 18 listen to AM radio more than once during the week.
Create City of Johnstown Work/Study Program - I believe it would be very easy and tremendously beneficial for the City of Johnstown to create a Work Study Program with the Penn Highlands Community College Central Park Campus. This would enable and allow any high school or college student working as a full-time or part-time intern or employee to apply a portion of their earning toward any one of the Certificate or Degree Programs offered by Penn Highland Community College - which in turn Penn Highlands Community College would then match the amount of the contribution from the City and/or student to be applied toward tuition. After receiving their Certificate or Degree the student could then apply their knowledge to a Public or Private position within the City.
Grant Funding Reconciliation - I firmly believe the City of Johnstown should publish an annual report to be reviewed by the residents that details all of the Grant Money received by the City of Johnstown - including any and all of its affiliates - that describes the amount of Grant Money received, how much has been spent in detail, and the status of the Project for which the Grant Funding has been applied. There seems to be a great deal of questions regarding the substantial amount of Grant Funding the City of Johnstown et al receives on an annual basis - and why many of the Projects were never launched or completed for which the Grant money was received.
Project Managers to assist City of Johnstown Initiatives - while the City of Johnstown City Manager currently has one full-time Assistant as part of the Budget - I believe the number of initiatives that need to be under taken is so large in depth and scope for the City of Johnstown to advance any substantive meaningful and lasting change - the City Manager will need the support of several Project Manager(s) for many of the goals and initiatives. These Project Managers could and should be residents of the City of Johnstown that have a passion for a specific area and/or objective and would be willing to contribute a modest amount of effort to ferry their passion forward and receive a stipend between $ 250 and $ 2,500 for their effort - depending upon the amount of time they invested.
Nutrition and Fitness Ap for Residents - while the City of Johnstown promotes itself as an extremely progressive City I see very little to support this claim. With almost 40 % of the residents of the City of Johnstown living below the Poverty Line - I believe an iPhone Ap that would offer daily healthy recipe suggestions for those on a limited budget would be very useful. In an additional effort to change the status of the greater Johnstown area as the unhealthiest City/County in PA - I would like to offer an incentive Program to residents where they can reduce their Property Tax based on the number of steps they record and submit on their iPhone or Fitbit on an annual basis - which is very progressive.
Create City of Johnstown Pseudo or Crypto Currency - create a pseudo or cryto currency that can only be spent and accepted by the retail businesses within the City of Johnstown. This would substantially increase the revenue and sales of small businesses within the City of Johnstown. Local retail businesses who accept this currency would be able to redeem it at any time thru the City of Johnstown City Hall. Pay all City employees 5 % of their current pay using this new currency to stimulate the economy and small businesses of the City of Johnstown. Given the annual City of Johnstown payroll of more than $5+ million - this Program would return more than $250,000+ annually to the local economy. Several other small Cities have used similar Programs very successfully.
Reinstate City of Johnstown Ethics Board - reinstate the City of Johnstown Ethics and/or Oversight Board that was very recently dissolved by the Johnstown City Council and Mayor. With past City of Johnstown Loan Programs that have hundreds of thousands of dollars of highly questionable loan protocol, practices and procedures combined with film documentaries lasting more than 9+ hours that document decades of questionable activities within the leadership of the City of Johnstown - I believe government transparency is crucial to attempt to restore trust and faith in the local government from the local residents. The disbanding of this Board only adds gasoline to fuel an existing fire of distrust by the residents toward local leaders.
Reinstate the Televised Broadcast of All City Council Meetings - the Mayor and City Council specifically and deliberately terminated the City of Johnstown City Council televised meetings with the local Cable TV provider to further reduce the transparency that local government should provide at all times to its residents. This transparency should be restored at all levels of local government - beginning with the reinstatement of televised City Council meetings etc.
While the City of Johnstown promotes itself as a Democracy – I feel it is more closely aligned with a Proletariat and Bourgeoisie form of Government – as the Residents seem to have no voice in their own destiny. This is supported by the last US Census with almost 40% of the population of Johnstown living below the Poverty Line – with a very small group earning more than $ 100,000 per year.
As Mayor of Johnstown I will unite ALL the residents of Johnstown – and promote a true Community Spirit - as opposed to an Us and Them Culture that has prevailed in Johnstown for many many decades. The Power bestowed upon any official by the residents is a Covenant of Trust – and I will always uphold that trust. Trust is created and built by the Character and Actions of the person – and the Community Leaders work for the Residents - which is something the Local Leaders seem to have forgotten.
The slow and steady decline of Johnstown began with the 1977 Flood and Johnstown has seen many Mayors and City Council members since that day – none of which have been successful in reversing the course of Johnstown for its residents – nor should it be expected this trend will change. I have been blessed by God to travel, study and work around the world – and would like to apply the skills that I have learned over my lifetime to end the slow and steady erosion of Johnstown.
No one person ever accomplishes anything by themselves – and if you believe in me – the way that I believe in the residents of Johnstown – then we can and will together as a Team make Johnstown what we know it can be again.
Thank you and God Bless You.
Candidate for Mayor of Johnstown in 2021
While everyone is more than entitled to have their own opinion about anything - no one can have their own unique set of facts. Here are the facts about the City of Johnstown with substantiated sources provided. If you want the City of Johnstown to continue down this path then continue to support and vote for the same people again and again and that's exactly what will happen. The only way to change the existing pattern and course is to change the Leadership with people who bring a new skill set, ideas, passion, goals and initiatives for the City of Johnstown.
Citizens for Jeff Hammer
Citizens for Jeff Hammer, 109 Malloy Place, Johnstown, PA 15901
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