Story Archive December 05 2012

Editorial: Firings are a start

The average citizen likely will feel little comfort from the firings of three employees of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole who supposedly were indirectly responsible for the murder of yet another Philadelphia police officer — but at least the firings are a start.This holiday season will be unlike every one before it for the family of slain Police Officer Moses Walker, who was gunned down in August as he walked to a bus stop after finishing his shift at the 22nd district in North Philadelphia.Rafael Jones, the 23-year-old man charged with the officer’s murder during a botched robbery, has a long criminal record and was supposed to have been under electronic monitoring following his release from prison on an unrelated gun charge, but he was not.“If people had done their jobs, we would not be here on this day,” John McNesby, head of the local police officers union, testified at a public hearing last week in the Northeast — home to so many of Philly’s Finest. The hearing was convened by state Rep. Brendan Boyle, who along with others, deserves credit for trying to get to the bottom of what went so terribly wrong with the parole system.The hearing, at MaST Charter School, was set up by the House Democratic Policy Committee, but it should be the first step in a mission to reform the way Pennsylvania does parole and probation.In addition to firing any and all people who had any part in allowing Jones to go free, authorities should also prosecute them, if necessary, after a full investigation. The results of the probe must be made public and the state legislature must take swift action to tighten the requirements for parole and crack down on liberal judges.Send letters to:

Letters to the editor: Dec. 5, 2012 edition

Firefighters get shameful treatment from cityMy husband has been a Philadelphia firefighter for 16 years. My father was a Philadelphia firefighter for 33 years. Since I was a young child I have lived with the mixture of pride and fear that every loved one of a firefighter faces, but it hasn’t been until the last few years that the fear has taken over.A mixture of dangerous public safety cuts by Mayor Michael Nutter and his staff and the incompetence of Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and certain members of his staff have created a dangerous and hostile work environment for every firefighter in this city.When my husband leaves for work, I say a prayer that he will return to me and our four children alive and unharmed at the end of his shift.After the Kensington fire that took the lives of two firefighters in April, I sat down and wrote a eulogy for my husband just in case that nightmare shows up on my doorstep. I wasn’t always this fearful. It has only been in the past few years that these fears have become more and more a part of my life and the lives of countless PFD families across the city.The men and women that serve this city as firefighters and paramedics would die to protect any one of you. That is their job and they do it with pride and vigor every day of the year. Is it asking the city too much to treat them with respect? Is it asking the city too much to invest in creating the safest working environment possible for them? Instead, the city has decided to retaliate against them for speaking up about the dangerous working conditions forced upon them and the dangerous public safety cuts that put every citizen in this city in danger.Shame on Mayor Michael Nutter and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers!Lisa HoganSandyford ParkThis customer is all steamed up about PGWDo you have a PGW parts and labor plan? If you have a problem with a circulator pump, they’ll tell you it’s not covered. If you have a problem with an overflow valve, they’ll tell you that’s not part of the heating system, which is a flat-out lie. A hot water heating system is a closed system and it’s under pressure, so there must be a high-pressure overflow valve, which is part of the heating system.The fool who came to my house from the service department on a recent Saturday just looked and said the overflow is not covered in the contract because it’s not part of the heating system, which is undoubtedly what he was told to say. He also said that the entire system would have to be drained by a team of men, refilled and all the radiators bled, and that’s about a four-hour job.He never noticed that there are cutoff valves that isolate the boiler in case of a problem like this, so the system need not be drained and it takes five minutes to bleed the radiators. I had to call my own plumber, who single-handedly changed the overflow valve and restarted my heater in less than one hour.We had to endure three unnecessary days without heat because of this fraudulent practice of the gas company.  They’re lying and they all know they’re lying; anything under pressure must have a pressure relief valve. They know this!Jim O’KeefeBurholmeHe’ll be minding his own businessTD Bank said it was just following its normal course of business when it foreclosed on the Northeast Community Center at 2840 Holme Ave. It said it was just following its normal course of business when it would not submit a property appraisal report that the community center’s new lender requested, therefore causing the community center to miss its Nov. 1 deadline for submitting a reorganization plan under Chapter 11 bankruptcy law.The bank said it was just following its normal course of business when it bought the property at a sheriff’s sale auction on Nov. 13 for $600,000, which was $200,000 less than the $800,000 that the center and its new lender offered TD Bank to keep the property open for the community.TD Bank said it was just following its normal course of business when it rushed to foreclose on the property shortly after Nov. 1, displacing the many children, families, seniors and special populations that depended on the center for services.So I’m sure TD Bank will understand when I follow the normal course of business by moving my accounts to another financial institution because it showed such little regard for the people in this Northeast Philadelphia community.Peter DiGiuseppeRhawnhurstWhat about Scouts’ honor to collect?Where were the Boy Scouts on Nov. 17? Two weeks prior, we received plastic bags to be used for a food collection for the needy and were instructed to place them in front of our buildings for collection on that date.Nov. 17 came and went and they just sat there with not a Boy Scout in sight. Calling the headquarters on the Parkway was an exercise in futility — recorded messages, no answer, etc.I was told by my postman that people on neighboring streets, not knowing what to do when the bags weren’t picked up, piled them around a corner mailbox. The post office did not know what to do with them. Many of the contributors are senior citizens who had to dip into their limited budgets to purchase these groceries. How sad! Shame on the Boy Scouts of America.Raymond D. Knapp Jr.Bell’s CornerWho caused Philly’s problems? Look in the mirrorPhiladelphia, what have you allowed to happen to your once proud city?You have allowed yourself to be violated by mayor after mayor on empty promises and misguided vision. You have allowed a city council to use you as their own private valet. You have allowed department heads to sow their own seeds of political agenda and nepotism. You have allowed your children to become uneducated, goalless and stunted.Philadelphia you have allowed this, and stood by just watching, expecting your citizens to rally behind you and end the nonsense taking place in this city — a city of decay, crime and non community-conscious developers who have trampled over you without regard or constraint. A city that has allowed its politicians to be directed by various religious groups.Philadelphia was once a hard-working town, with hard- working assertive people. Where have they gone? The only way for Philadelphia to even begin to return to a city of education, prosperity, safety and a sense of well-being is for the sons and daughters of this once proud city to do it.We need to remove the politicians that have made this THEIR city for amusement and monetary gain. We need to become involved in restoring peace to our neighborhoods, while the mayor and the police and fire commissioners continue to put all of us at risk, and our court systems overrun with corruption and arrogance.We sit by while utilities continually use the citizens as their own private banks as they go unchecked and are not held accountable for their ridiculous charges.This city’s issues are everyone’s concern, so while we point finger after finger at everyone in city government, different races, different genders and different ethnic groups, our city spirals more and more out of control. Look at yourselves — we have allowed this to happen. We have voted the politicians in year after year. Why?  We have allowed our streets to become the battlegrounds they now are.We have allowed our children to become lost and uneducated, and given them a very uncertain future. We have done this to ourselves. Laying blame on everyone else is cowardly and shows a flaw in our character. We have allowed our senior citizens to become sheep for the wolves, and in doing all these things we have become a city of ostriches with our heads in the sand.We need to make a stand, look around your own neighborhood, your own place of employment — if you are fortunate enough to have a job — and see what’s going on and understand it will not change unless we do it ourselves.The problems that plague this city are not as difficult as the mayor, City Council or the news media portray them; however, for them to keep control and their jobs, they seem to complicate the issues, and should any city official wish to dispute this, I invite you to my house for dinner and discussion, should you dare come out from behind the desks and aides you hide behind year after year, and answer for and be held accountable for our current state of affairs.Politicians work for us, not the other way around, but they seem to think that we are their employees. Who keeps them responsible for their poor performance? Shouldn’t that be the citizens? Philadelphia will never be what it could be, or should be, unless Philadelphia’s citizens do it.This was a city built by different neighborhoods, ethnicities and cultures. It could be a good place to live again if only people would step up and do the right thing — and that is to be assertive and hold the people in charge accountable, which means remove them from their positions in the next election and replace them with real people who are assertive, goal-orientated, responsible and hard-working, because what we have done for years has only brought on our current situation.Luigi RosminiEast TorresdaleRepublicans are still whining about their election lossThe election is over, the people have spoken and the Electoral College has placed their votes; yet the incessant whining of the GOP supporters just keeps going.Moaning over the “good old days” of a mostly Republican Northeast (Party of a few, Nov. 14 editorial). America 101: We can live where we want and vote how we want. Not everyone living here is a doctor, lawyer, politician, cop or firefighter; lots of us work as cashiers, waiters, laborers, construction workers, among dozens of other non-professional jobs.Regarding letters to the editor in the Nov. 14 edition: Your spirits are dashed because your candidate lost, Mr. Iaconelli? Take it out by “no more” support for charities, community groups and public services? Good choices. Take it out on the elderly, children from low-income homes and the hungry that depend on non-profit help like food banks. Being Republican, you can look up what non-profit means online. Let’s hope you never need help from any of those.You’ve lost all hope, Mr. Breen? The failure was what was handed over to President Obama after an eight-year heyday on Wall Street that handed out credit cards and APR mortgages where the only prerequisite was the person be breathing, then jacking up the rates.The ensuing maelstrom of foreclosures put us in a major recession that, even with a Republican Congress that fought his every move, Obama managed to get us out of inside of his first four years. It’s not a total fix, but it is moving ahead.Even the stock of the auto industry has gone up after being ready to collapse four years ago, and foreclosures continued their descent, falling 31 percent from a year ago, according to data from, which said the following: “Increasingly improving market conditions and industry and government policy are allowing distressed homeowners to pursue refinancing, loan modifications or short sales rather than foreclosures.”The point is that patriotism is to the country, not a man running it. Suck it up, cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it. If you absolutely just can’t handle four more years, you can find a border — north, south, east or west. America needs people willing to work together to build her, not take their ball and go home like a 5-year-old whose game isn’t going their way.Hezakiah LevinsonRhawnhurstWhat’s in a number? The big banks have a vested interestAlthough I understand the frustration expressed by Myles Gordon in his letter last week (Interest rates stink! Fire the Fed head), I think he is going after the wrong target. The interest rates stink? Not for the 1 percent of the population who like it this way.Myles Gordon is looking at the system from the wrong view if he really wants to understand what is going on. Ben Bernanke does not control the system, he works for it.The goal of the 1 percent (the investors) is to make money at the expense of the other 99 percent. The banking system is part of the larger “financial system.” There are at least two sets of interest rates. Ben Bernanke only sets rates to help the banking system. Congress has control over the second set.The depositors are just giving the banks a loan of their money, which the bank uses to make a profit for its investors, its stockholders. Banks pay the depositors as little as possible for the loan of their money (rates controlled in part by Ben Bernanke ). The financial institutions in turn charge as much as possible for personal loans and credit card loans to people who borrow the money until they cry bankruptcy!These usury rates can be controlled by Congress, but Congress eliminated these laws years ago, so these financial institutions can charge you anything they want. The law only says they must tell us what they are doing. If we do not complain about the credit card rates to our congressmen, we suffer.So if a financial institution charges you 26 percent on your credit cards and the bank gives you 1 percent or less on your deposit, they make a tremendous profit, don’t they? Don’t you wish you were in their position to make 25 percent return on your money instead of 1 percent?Mervyn KlineBustleton resident and retired Frankford High School teacher

Cleaning up their acts

River Wards neighbors are among those on Councilman Bobby Henon’s “Problem Properties Advisory Council,” which hosted a “Bad Neighbor Hearing” last Tuesday. The message for these landlords? Shape up, or ship out.

After fatal Kensington space heater fire, fire chief urges caution

The Philadelphia Fire Department has a fire safety mobile app and safety guidelines to follow to avoid space heater fires, a common risk during the cold winter months in the River Wards.

Man on the run: Guckin finds backfield success

Last December, Andrew Guckin figured he had reached football heaven. 

Stick ‘em on your stuff: Operation ID stickers could help recover stolen goods

As burglaries and thefts increase during the holidays, the Philadelphia Police Department is offering citizens ID stickers to place on their valuables so that they will be easier to recover if stolen.

Legends of the fall

Editor’s note: The seasonal sports winners are chosen by the Northeast Times’ sports staff based on both excellence on the field and strong leadership ability off of it.

Holiday Happenings

Check out our big day-by-day list of holiday concerts, tree lightings and other events.

River Wards news at-a-glance

Updates and brief reports on River Wards news.

River Ward events for the week of Dec. 5

Stay on top of all the events happening in your community with our "Around the Neighborhoods" guide.