Northeast Times

Letters to the Editor: February 8, 2012

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.

Jason Kaye

Burholme

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

Up­per Holmes­burg

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

Teach­er

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!

Gina De­N­ofa

Nor­mandy

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.

Mi­chael O’Don­nell

May­fair

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.

An­drea Lemoins

Co-co­ordin­at­or, Res­taur­ant Op­por­tun­it­ies Cen­ter Phil­adelphia

Speak your mind  …

Let­ters should be 300 words or less. Short let­ters have a bet­ter chance of get­ting pub­lished. All let­ters are sub­ject to edit­ing and MUST in­clude the writer’s full name along with day­time and even­ing phone num­bers for veri­fic­a­tion pur­poses. An­onym­ous let­ters will NOT be pub­lished. Mail to: Let­ters to the Ed­it­or, North­east Times, 2512 Met­ro­pol­it­an Drive, Tre­vose, PA 19053. Fax: 215-355-4857. E-mail: pronews@bsmphilly.com

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