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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com