Butkovitz encourages Tacony Civic to report government fraud

The city con­trol­ler had plenty to say about oth­er city is­sues as well.

City Con­trol­ler Alan Butkovitz en­cour­aged mem­bers of the Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation to con­tact his of­fice if they wit­ness in­cid­ents of gov­ern­ment fraud.

Butkovitz told the crowd at the group’s quarterly meet­ing to call 215-686-3804 or e-mail      fraud­tips@phil­adelphi­ac­on­trol­ler.org

The con­trol­ler also dis­cussed his re­cent cri­ti­cisms of the city’s emer­gency med­ic­al ser­vices sys­tem and 311 non-emer­gency call line.

Ac­cord­ing to in­dustry stand­ards, emer­gency med­ic­al ser­vice vehicles should ar­rive on the scene in less than nine minutes 90 per­cent of the time. Butkovitz stud­ied data from 2009 and found that Phil­adelphia’s fig­ure was just 63 per­cent.

“Cairo, Egypt man­ages to get there in eight minutes,” he said.

Butkovitz noted that the city had only 211 para­med­ics in 2009, com­pared to 291 in 2002. 

Butkovitz said in­tro­duc­tion of the “much bragged about” 311 sys­tem has res­ul­ted in a “mean­ing­less” 1.4-per­cent de­crease in emer­gency calls to 911. A mere 7 per­cent of calls were mon­itored and coded.

The con­trol­ler blamed the city for do­ing a poor job of in­form­ing the pub­lic about the ini­ti­at­ive. He also noted that op­er­at­ors are not avail­able 24 hours, as prom­ised. In­stead, they work un­til 8 p.m. on weeknights and not at all on week­ends.

Some 70 per­cent of people vot­ing in a philly.com poll dis­ap­proved of 311, Butkovitz poin­ted out.

However, the city man­aging dir­ect­or’s of­fice has de­fen­ded the pro­gram, claim­ing a sat­is­fac­tion rate of 92 per­cent among callers.

“I’ll have to re­spect­fully dis­agree with Mr. Butkovitz’s as­sess­ment of 311,” said Steve Buckley, deputy com­mis­sion­er of the city De­part­ment of Streets, who also ad­dressed the crowd.

In oth­er news from the Novem­ber meet­ing:

• PennDOT re­cently opened a stretch of Prin­ceton Av­en­ue, from Tor­res­dale Av­en­ue to State Road, to two-way traffic.

Now, there is one lane of traffic each way. Pre­vi­ously, vehicles were per­mit­ted to travel east­bound only. The pro­ject has res­ul­ted in the open­ing of a south­bound I-95 ramp at State Road and Long­shore Av­en­ue and the clos­ing of the ramp at Prin­ceton Av­en­ue. Con­struc­tion on a south­bound ramp at Cottman Av­en­ue will start early next year. The east­bound Prin­ceton Av­en­ue on-ramp to north­bound I-95 will be closed for con­struc­tion this week­end.

At present, traffic moves slowly at rush hour in the area of State and Long­shore. A traffic light, per­haps a tem­por­ary one, might be in­stalled to move vehicles more ef­fi­ciently.

• The Free Lib­rary of Phil­adelphia’s Ta­cony Branch, at 6742 Tor­res­dale Ave., will of­fer a num­ber of up­com­ing pro­grams.

The North­east High School Se­lect Choir will per­form a hol­i­day re­cit­al on Wed­nes­day, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Re­fresh­ments will be served.

Girls ages 8 and older are in­vited to a glit­tery beaded jew­elry work­shop on Wed­nes­day, Dec. 14, at 4 p.m. Pre-re­gis­tra­tion is re­quired.

Pre-re­gis­tra­tion is also re­quired for a preschool story time series on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 10:30 a.m. There will be hol­i­day stor­ies, songs and rhymes, fol­lowed by a short movie.

A ro­bot­ics work­shop for third- through eighth-graders is sched­uled for Sat­urday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. The Mer­ck Com­pany Found­a­tion is fund­ing the work­shop.

Call the lib­rary at 215-685-8755.

• The civic group wants the city to en­force a $75 fine on signs placed il­leg­ally on poles.

The group has re­moved about 900 signs that pro­mote things such as flea mar­kets, junk car pur­chases, hard­wood floors and a claim by a Lawndale busi­ness­man that, “I will buy your house in 7 seconds.”

• The civic as­so­ci­ation will give re­tir­ing City Coun­cil­wo­man Joan Kra­jew­ski a cer­ti­fic­ate of ap­pre­ci­ation and a $50 gift cer­ti­fic­ate to the Din­ing Car.

Kra­jew­ski, who is re­tir­ing after 32 years in of­fice, was un­able to at­tend the meet­ing to ac­cept the gifts.

• Ta­cony Civic As­so­ci­ation will meet on Wed­nes­day, March 13, 2012, at 7 p.m., at Dis­ston Re­cre­ation Cen­ter, at Dis­ston and Glen­loch streets. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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