The Perzel case was politically motivated
In the conclusion of the film Judgment at Nuremberg, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, is a former judge under the Nazi regime who admits he made his “life excrement” because he followed the powers of Nazi Germany. He states “that he never knew it would come to that,” meaning, of course, the atrocities.
Spencer Tracy, in a memorable retort, responds that he knew “it would come to that, the first time he sentenced a man whom he knew to be innocent.”
Dauphin County Common Pleas Court “Judge” Richard Lewis should watch this compelling film and heed its warning.
I have known, watched and admired all John Perzel did for the community and noted how well he was liked by our senior citizens. The plea he made I am sure came with much consideration for not only himself but his wife and children.
I have always believed these charges were politically oriented, but now sentence has been passed by this wretched, cheap, charlatan and lackey who is no more than a sycophantic lapdog seeking crumbs from the table of a false idol. This detestable cretin is not qualified to sentence a 5-year-old to a “time out.” He too will be judged one day. We can only hope that sentence will be most severe.
Leonard T. Roberts
Law to get the lead out fails to protect renters
Now that the new lead-based paint ordinance (Bill 100011) has been signed into law by Mayor Nutter and will take effect on Dec. 21, a question must be answered by the bill’s author, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.
The main question is why are all Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) units exempt from this legislation?
The law states that landlords of targeted housing, residential properties built before March 1978, where children age 6 and younger will reside, must provide the tenant with a valid certification, prepared by a certified lead inspector, that the property is either lead free or lead safe.
Dwelling units owned or subsidized by the Philadelphia Housing Authority or its subsidiaries, or privately owned but currently leased under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and therefore subject to federal requirements administrated by HUD, are exempt, along with dwelling units in which children age 6 and under do not and will not reside during the lease term.
PHA units are probably some of the most high-risk units (properties built before 1950) in the city of Philadelphia for paint.
PHA does not do a certified test per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations — it only does a visual inspection done by in-house PHA inspectors, for deteriorated paint surfaces, during their Housing Quality Standards inspection (HQS) per HUD guidelines. This inspection is drastically different from what the private sector is now legally bound to produce, the results of a comprehensive lead inspection and risk assessment by a certified lead inspector.
There are two methods recognized by the EPA for testing paint: Portable X-Ray Fluorescence (KRF) analyzers and paint chip sampling, followed by analysis by a recognized EPA laboratory.
The bill should have been written to protect all children under age 6 in all rental units, even all units under the umbrella of PHA. This would be a fair and level playing field.
Here are some other important issues:
Is a property defined as the building along with any detached garages or structures, fencing and handrails and all soil within the boundary lines of the property that must be lead free and safe?
If you have a 10-unit apartment building on multiple floors with one unit occupied by a child under age 6, does the entire property, including the nine other units and all the hallways, have to be lead safe and free? Lead dust can be airborne anywhere in that property.
On a lease renewal where a test is done, if lead is found, the landlord must move the tenant out and pay for their temporary housing costs (motel), before removing the defected paint and retesting. Is the law applicable to a woman who is six weeks pregnant?
What does the word “reside” mean? In the common case of shared custody, what about a child who sleeps over every other weekend at either parent’s house and that fact is not known to the landlord?
Landlords will still have unlimited civil liability, even if they abide by the law. Fair housing lawsuits will be filed when a prospective applicant for a rental, who has a child under 6, is turned down for credit or income and not age related. With all the chaos in many households today, can a landlord know with absolute certainly who is actually residing in a property?
Is this the first piece of legislation in this city that is based on the trigger point of a child under the age of 6 that will have dramatic financial, as well as, legal implications?
If the HUD requirements, HQS, are so well designed to protect children from lead-based paint throughout this country, why weren’t those guidelines implemented for all landlords to use in our city?
I believe this poorly conceived law will never withstand a court challenge because it does not provide equal protection for all rental units and would be ruled unconstitutional.
With all the legal scholars who have worked on the writing of this legislation and all the groups in support and opposition of lead-based paint over the last couple of years, why has no one brought up or fought to amend the major objection I exposed?
What was the justification to exclude all PHA units?
We must protect Medicare’s promise to seniors
By Allyson Schwartz
Medicare is a promise we made to America’s seniors, ensuring they will not be left alone to manage the burden of health care costs in their most vulnerable years.
Every day 2.3 million elderly and disabled Pennsylvanians count on Medicare for their life-saving medications, doctor visits, and emergency care. The promise of guaranteed health benefits is even more pressing in Pennsylvania, which has the second highest population of people over the age of 65.
Unfortunately, the House Republicans’ fiscal year 2013 budget breaks that promise and risks the health and economic security of our seniors. The Republican budget proposal would change Medicare from a system of guaranteed benefits and assurance of coverage for all Americans to a voucher system.
In a recent survey I conducted with my constituents, more than 80 percent said we should protect Medicare’s guaranteed benefits instead of turning it into a voucher program.
This is not a surprise given that the Republican budget proposal would end the wide array of choices currently available under Medicare, and would leave seniors on their own to find insurance coverage on the individual market. This means higher premiums for less coverage; discrimination based on age, illness or income; and more uncertainty if serious illness or need for long-term care occurs.
The voucher offered by House Republicans is not only limited in value — thereby limiting choices for seniors depending on their ability to pay — but it also makes no guarantee they can keep their current benefits or their own doctor.
The Republican budget proposal — like last year’s — does nothing to address the causes of growing health care costs. So, as costs rise, it is seniors alone who will bear the financial burden. Last year’s Republican budget proposal would have increased health care costs for a typical 65-year-old by more than $6,000. And yet, they are proposing the same agenda again.
We can modernize and strengthen Medicare, and we must start and end with a commitment to guaranteed health benefits for our seniors.
As always, my local office is available to assist with any questions or concerns seniors may have about Medicare. I work hard to ensure seniors have important information regarding Medicare, including holding designated office hours during open enrollment period, seminars to help protect seniors against fraud and abuse, and workshops about free preventive care services. In addition, last year alone, my district office helped hundreds of seniors with questions regarding Medicare — including applying for benefits, help choosing a plan, and help navigating the system.
As the budget debate continues in Congress, I will fight to ensure that seniors — both now and into the future — continue to get the health coverage they need and deserve.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz is serving her fourth term representing Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District and is a senior member of the House Budget Committee.
Governor is blind to the plight of the disabled
State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione
The barricades and the extra police at the end of a Capitol hallway tell you everything you need to know about the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett.
From day one, the governor, who campaigned bravely about ordinary citizens reclaiming their government, has shown curious fear of those same citizens.
Feeling safer with a small audience of unquestioning supporters, the once-courageous reformer has recently taken to using his massive security apparatus to turn away the unwashed masses.
When a group of citizens in wheelchairs visited the Capitol in February, the former criminal prosecutor who spent a dozen years as a National Guard infantryman took no chances.
Capitol police were deployed and barricades were erected to keep the dangerous wheelchair people at bay. This wasn’t too difficult. The security detail explained that they were told to not to let people in wheelchairs on the elevators. Blocking the elevators was all it took to keep them on the ground floor, a safe distance from the governor’s lair.
Meanwhile, lobbyists, pages, pizza drivers and politicians continued to enjoy access as usual.
It was a breathtaking metaphor for the Corbett administration, a policy-as-performance-art moment that wrapped the Corbett fear and loathing in a tidy package.
It might be illegal. Does that matter?
It should at least matter to the tough, law-and-order prosecutor who boldly took on the entrenched Harrisburg powerbrokers before running off to his Capitol office and blocking the elevators.
And it should matter to the millions of Pennsylvanians that don’t have lobbyist credentials and Capitol security badges.
As the new security policy was explained by underlings in the administration, you cannot only be banned from the building for causing a ruckus, but you can be banned if the administration thinks you might cause a ruckus. Or if somebody who looks like you has caused a ruckus.
It’s scary where this leads. Any justification that can be mustered for a people-in-wheelchairs policy can be rolled out again for race, religion, shoe-size, hairdo or lack of proper manicure. But there is no justification for the administration’s unilateral security actions — no legal justification, anyway.
If the governor thinks that the wheelchair people will quietly roll away in deference to his show of force, he doesn’t know what the view of the world looks like from this seat.
On the occasions that I have been asked about how my accident changed my life, I often say: “It took my legs, but it opened my eyes.”
More than 1 million Pennsylvanians use wheelchairs for one reason or another, and I’ve met a lot of them. The weakest and most vulnerable among them have shown me more courage than this governor.
Sure, there’s a tendency when you’re faced with adversity to lock yourself in a dark room, surround yourself with friends and block out the world. But one day you realize that whatever the adversity, it must be faced directly. Boldly. Courageously.
When the governor sent his security team to stop the wheelchairs, it wasn’t just a cowardly overreach of executive authority. It was also a missed a chance to overcome his own disability: a blindness to the plight of ordinary people.
Ms. Tartaglione, a Democrat, represents the 2nd Senatorial District.
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