City Controller Alan Butkovitz last week visited the Holmesburg Civic Association to discuss two of his recently released reports.
Earlier this month, he found deficiencies in the 311 non-emergency system. The report indicated that only 7 percent of calls were monitored and coded.
In addition, the reduction in non-emergency calls to 911 was a measly 1.3 percent. Baltimore, San Antonio, Houston and Denver all experienced significant reductions in 911 calls after implementing a non-emergency line.
The Nutter administration, in Butkovitz’s opinion, has done little to inform or educate the public about 311. The controller also pointed out that the city has failed to have operators available 24 hours, as promised.
At the meeting, Butkovitz gave a preview of a follow-up audit that was to be released the next day of the city’s emergency medical services system.
The widely accepted standard is for EMS units to arrive at the scene of an emergency in less than nine minutes 90 percent of the time.
In Philadelphia, according to Butkovitz’s study of 2009 statistics, the arrival rate was just 63 percent. That’s a small improvement over the 60-percent rate in 2007, but far below the 77.5-percent rate in 2002.
Butkovitz blames overwhelming demand. EMS requests have increased from 165,234 in 1999 to 224,485 in 2009. The number of paramedics was 211 in 2009, down from a high of 291 in 2002.
In other news from the Oct. 11 meeting:
Maura Kennedy, director of strategic initiatives for the city Department of Licenses and Inspections, explained that the agency is operating more efficiently, from demolishing more buildings to lowering the wait time for individuals and businesses to obtain a license.
In addition, owners of properties with non-working windows and doors are being fined $300 per day and taken to court after three failed inspections.
L&I has been successful in collecting fines and back taxes from absentee nuisance landlords.
• The civic association voted 18-1 in favor of a bid by Atlantic Tactical, at 4980 Rhawn St., to gain a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment to be able to sell firearms and ammunition to law enforcement members.
The company has been in business since 1972 and moved to Rhawn Street after outgrowing a retail store near State Road and Linden Avenue.
The store is open to the public. The hours are weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Civic group members supported the company’s effort after officials explained that there are 24-hour security systems and cameras. The weapons are kept in vaults to prevent smash-and-grab thefts.
During business hours, the employees are armed, as are uniformed law enforcement customers.
• As the city Zoning Board of Adjustment continues to mull arguments for and against a proposed methadone clinic at 7900 Frankford Ave., the civic association reiterated its stance against opening a clinic anywhere in the neighborhood.
After news of the proposal broke in July, the executive board voted to oppose the clinic in neighborhood and industrial areas, such as along State Road.
“We’re standing by our original vote,” said Fred Moore, president of the group. “It isn’t a good idea.”
One man at last week’s meeting criticized the board’s stance.
“State Road’s a perfect location,” he said. “Who cares if they go down there.”
Milt Martelack, who has led protests against the site, does not want to compromise by allowing the clinic to open in a less-residential area. Methadone is dispensed to drug addicts to help wean them off drugs.
“We want it out of here totally,” Martelack said.
Even if the ZBA sides with the clinic operators, state and federal officials would have to give the OK before the business could open.
“I believe we’re in the driver’s seat,” Moore said.
• Moore is organizing the Northeast Philadelphia History Network’s history fair on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Campus Center of Holy Family University, at Frankford and Grant avenues.
Historical societies and community organizations will offer a history of Northeast neighborhoods. The day will also include live music and re-enactors.
• The civic association will make a contribution to the 35th annual Mayfair-Holmesburg Thanksgiving Parade, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 20m from noon to 3 p.m. The rain date is Dec. 4.
The parade will travel south on Frankford Avenue from Rhawn Street to Knorr Street. At Cottman Avenue, there will be balloons artists and face painters, along with radio station B101.
The theme will be Bringing Music to Mayfair. The grand marshal will be Ed Kelly, founder of the Pennypack Park Music Festival.
For more information, call 215-333-2712 or visit www.thanksgivingparade.org
• Holmesburg Civic Association will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7:15 p.m., at Holmesburg Recreation Center, at Ditman and Rhawn streets. The group usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month, but that falls on Election Day this year.
Among those scheduled to appear at the next meeting are City Council candidates Sandra Stewart, Bobby Henon, Al Taubenberger, Michael Untermeyer and Denny O’Brien and city commissioner hopefuls Al Schmidt and Stephanie Singer. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org