Licenses and Inspections is not doing its job
The lack of proactive enforcement as well as routine follow-up on past violators y the Department of Licenses & Inspections has without question significantly contributed to the slumlord epidemic in Philly.
Fran Burns, License & Inspections commissioner, is not seeing firsthand the deplorable living conditions that thousands of renters call home, because if she did, drastic changes would occur in how L&I operates.
In the Northeast alone, a slew of hazardous apartment buildings saturate Frankford, Cottman, and Rising Sun avenues. The number of apartments infested with bedbugs, roaches, rats and black mold increases every day.
Too many people witness firsthand slumlords devastating their communities. In the end, it’s bad news for everyone who calls Philadelphia home.
You call this justice?
Regarding the Jan. 25 article Police locate suspect who dumped decapitated animals: Oh my God, a $300 fine for not cleaning up after your pet? A $50 fine for dumping beheaded carcasses of 11 animals that were “humanely” killed? $50?
Where is the justice?
Joann C. Hutton
Food for thought: Help your neighbors
You may not realize that each day, many Philadelphia residents struggle to put food on the table. This struggle is often kept quiet because of the embarrassment felt by neighbors who don’t always have enough food to feed their family. But you can help your neighbors in need and help local teenagers make a difference by taking part in a unique, region-wide high school food drive called Shire’s Great Food Fight! Benefiting Philabundance.
From Feb. 15 to March 2, students at MAST Charter will join forces with their peers at 21 high schools across the region to combat hunger. Their goal is ambitious: together, collect 100 tons of food — which is equivalent to 200,000 meals — for Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization.
Philabundance says that in the past year, they have seen the need for food increase 26 percent, meaning there are more families requesting food assistance and the food collected from holiday drives isn’t lasting as long.
Our students are eager to show how they can fill the pantries of families in need, so that families don’t have to choose between paying utilities and buying food. They’re also eager to compete for prizes totaling $20,000 that will be split among seven schools with the most success.
With thousands of people struggling to find work, schools tightening their budgets and hunger on the rise, Shire’s Great Food Fight! couldn’t come at a better moment.
We encourage everyone to help our students show their good character, support their schools and give back to others in need at this critical time.
Maria T. Gulisano
MaST Community Charter School
It’s cat time again
Forgotten Cats is having its Second Chance For Love this weekend in the adoption center of PetSmart at 901 Old York Road in Abington.
There will be adorable adoptable cats and many kittens. The kitties are vetted, neutered and ready for a family of their own to take them home.
What better way to express love than to adopt a little one that truly needs you!
Please come and visit this weekend. Someone is waiting for you!
Lawmaker: The good sister was wrong about me
I was very disappointed to read Sister McFadden’s negative letter in last week’s Northeast Times criticizing me for “voting against” Catholic schools. The good sister is misinformed.
She stated that I voted against vouchers. She is flat-out wrong. In fact, there hasn’t even been a vote on this issue during my time in the state House. Before writing a public letter criticizing me for a vote that I never cast, I wish she would have taken the time to check the facts.
If Sister McFadden is disappointed that the voucher issue hasn’t been brought up for a vote, then she should ask the Republican speaker of the House why he has refused to place the bill on the House calendar. It is the Republican majority that controls what bills come before the House for a vote.
The sister also wrote “Our Catholic Democratic legislators vote against” Catholic schools.
This is also false. Our legislators from Northeast Philadelphia, both Democrats and Republicans, have been united in advocating for all of our schools, including Catholic schools. For our Northeast Philly delegation, this has never been a partisan issue. I have personally secured scholarships through the EITC program that have benefited Catholic schools in my district, and I know my Republican counterparts have as well.
The one vote that has taken place while I have been in the state House has been on the EITC program, which provides tax credits to businesses that donate to public or private schools. Many families in the Northeast benefit from the EITC program. I voted in favor of this legislation, and my brother, Rep. Brendan Boyle, was one of the bill’s lead co-sponsors. It passed the House a few months ago and is still awaiting a vote in the state Senate, which is also Republican controlled.
I am a proud graduate of Catholic schools, having spent eight years at St. Helena’s, four years at Cardinal Dougherty High School, and four years at La Salle University. I am appreciative to all of those dedicated teachers, such as Sister McFadden, who work in Catholic schools, often for less pay and fewer benefits.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to my parents, who, like so many parents in Northeast Philadelphia, scrimped and saved in order to afford Catholic school tuition. This is why I feel so strongly that any new program must include help for hard-working, middle-class families, and not just lower-income families.
The fact is that all of our schools need our help, whether they are public or private, parochial or charter.
Both my wife and my sister-in-law are public school teachers. I know from their experience that their respective schools are trying to operate under recent budget cuts, with even deeper cuts looming on the horizon. This is a tough time for families in my neighborhood who just want to send their kids to good, safe schools.
I will continue to be an advocate for all of our schools and for the families who rely upon them.
State Rep. Kevin J. Boyle
172nd Legislative District
School choice vouchers are the answer
As a proud product of the Philadelphia Catholic school system (Resurrection of Our Lord and Father Judge), I am extremely disturbed to hear about the latest round of Catholic school closings. My mother went to West Catholic. My sister went to St Hubert. My son recently lost both of his alma maters (St. Bartholomew and Northeast Catholic).
I realize that the population is aging, and most women are not giving birth to five, six or seven kids the way they were in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. I realize that there is an overcapacity and that some schools must close. The question is, “What schools should be closing?”
Should it be the proven schools of the Catholic school system, with their devoted and underpaid teachers, or the failed schools of Philadelphia’s public school system, run by the likes of Arlene Ackerman with her 58 percent on-time high school graduation rate?
The Philadelphia Catholic school system is really the only viable alternative to the failing Philadelphia public school system and the charter schools that deny equal access. Anyone who thinks that the elimination of this Catholic school alternative will benefit our city, obviously ever lived in Philadelphia.
The Catholic school system saved the taxpayers millions of dollars over the last 100 years. I can’t understand why the state of Pennsylvania is relieved of its entire financial obligation to educate its own children, if we simply add one hour of Catholic education to the school day. It is high time that the working-class Catholic families in Philadelphia got their fair share of return on their tax dollars via school choice vouchers.
Pennsylvania Catholics should contact their state representatives and senators without delay to let them know that they will be held accountable for their actions in Harrisburg regarding this issue.
Restaurant workers need paid sick days
“The whole back of the house was sick … and they spread it around. We (servers) tried to wash our hands as much as possible. But it’s hard when you’re busy. Not having paid sick days is a lose-lose situation.” -Jasmine, Philadelphia server
When you’re preparing to make your reservation at a restaurant, remember this: The restaurant industry was, and still is, the only private-sector industry to grow during the recession. Nearly 88 percent of restaurant workers report NOT having any paid sick leave. And, we are in the midst of flu season.
I can speak specifically to the restaurant industry. I worked as a chef in it. In kitchens, people go to work sick. That means that your food, if you go to a restaurant that insists on sick attendance, is possibly contaminated. At least four people touch your plate before you get it. Would Typhoid Mary have been such a threat to public health if she hadn’t been a cook?
When you combine a lack of paid sick days with the poverty wages many workers in the industry earn, restaurant workers simply cannot afford to take a day off to look after their own health, much less that of the customer.
What about the costs to the employer? Some would argue that paid sick days are an unnecessary burden in this economic environment. However, they are only a burden if one is willing to have sick workers spreading contagions to their customers — who in turn spread illness to their friends, family and co-workers. The lack of paid sick days ends up being a significant public cost to all of us. Besides, paid sick days do benefit the employer, creating a healthier and more loyal workforce.
Mom-and-pop businesses will not be affected by a sick-days bill in our city, though hopefully mom-and-pop workers stay home when they are ill. However, Philadelphia’s paid sick- days bill will affect larger restaurants that have thrived during the recession. Restaurant owners can recognize the financial benefits of allowing a worker to collect pay for a day off when they are sick as opposed to having one staff member spread an illness to customers and other workers.
What if everyone knew that the restaurant they chose allowed sick workers to stay home? In a world with the H1N1 swine flu and Avian flu, maybe customers should. It may not be life and death each time you eat out, but it may be that you could be served by a very ill person who should be at home.
Philadelphians should show their concern by calling their City Council representative and telling them that we need a paid sick days bill. In the end, consumers and the public are protected by paid sick leave.
When you eat out these next few weeks, remember to ask your server if the restaurant you’re eating at provides paid sick days. If they don’t, ask yourself if eating there is a risk you are willing to take.
Co-coordinator, Restaurant Opportunities Center Philadelphia
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