So many reasons to be proud to be a Mayfairian
By Joe DeFelice
Mayfair isn’t as bad as Mayfair residents say it is
Our neighborhood should reach back to that infamous Philadelphia billboard of the 1970s and adopt it as our own slogan. For the last three or so years, many neighborhood volunteers have spent time away from their families to make our community a better place to live.
Usually when I pick up a copy of the Northeast Times or go on social media, the person badmouthing our neighborhood is usually one of our own residents, and this is disheartening, to say the least. How do we expect other people to respect our neighborhood if our own people dishonor it?
Let’s be honest, Mayfair isn’t what it was in 1980, it isn’t what is was in 1990 and it isn’t even what it was in 2000; but then again, what neighborhood is? Some neighborhoods change for the good, some change for the bad and some just change, but that is OK. Different doesn’t have to mean bad.
Have we seen a decline in mom-and-pop shops on the avenue? Sure we have. Have we seen an increase in pajama pants in the afternoon? You bet. But that is OK, because 2020 isn’t going to be like 2010, and 2030 isn’t going to be like 2020.
I’m sure 2013 Fishtown and Bella Vista wouldn’t recognize their 1990 ancestor, but that is what life in the big city is all about. Now, you can sit back and watch others enact change on your neighborhood, or you can get into the fabric of the community and change it yourself, from within.
Since we restarted the Mayfair Civic Association just over three years ago, we have seen some changes in our neighborhood, but rather than focus on the negatives, let’s look at the positives:
• In 2009 there was a dirt and gravel patch on the east side of Lincoln High School. It is now a state-of-the-art, handicapped-accessible $80,000 playground built with the sweat equity of the neighborhood residents.
• We took a little-used block of half-vacant storefronts on the 3500 block of Ryan Ave. and turned it into a one-of-a-kind farmers market that will be held biweekly starting this spring and will continue to include fresh vegetables, craft beer, local wine and neighborhood residents and merchants selling the wares, all the while, doing so with acoustic music floating in the background.
• We took tragedies that struck our city in the form of police and fire deaths and turned them into positives with the Mayfair Fallen Heroes Run and have raised more than $20,000 for the families of police officers and firefighters and an additional $10,000 for scholarships, plaques, etc.
• We took a parade that derailed off the avenue due to a “budget crunch” in the city and infused it with citizen activists and neighborhood talent and put it back on the avenue, bigger and better than ever.
• We took neighborhood negatives like a proposed methadone clinic and turned it into a positive by engaging more than 800 residents at community meetings to stand up and fight to stop it, and we won the first round.
• We took a dilapidated, boarded-up, vacant property that stood as an eyesore at Frankford and Sheffield and forced the owner to gut the place, fix the interior and install new windows and make it safe and habitable for a future family to call their first home.
• Lastly, we’ve given the neighborhood events that, in the past, residents would have gone elsewhere for, such as an Easter Egg Hunt, our Spring Mayfair May Fair, Fall Festival, Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas Village and heck, we’ve even made it a lot easier for the over-30 (maybe over-40) crowd to tolerate the Shamrock Shuttle by working with the Mayfair Town Watch and the 15th Police District and, yes, the tavern owners, to make sure that there was adequate police presence, portable toilets and residents on hand to assist our out-of-town visitors and make Mayfair, whether we like it or not, a regional destination.
So, with that, let me be the first to say that I am proud of our neighborhood and you should be, too. Let’s start 2013 off on a positive foot and work to better our community so that the next time someone asks you if you still live in Mayfair (and hangs on the word still), you can say “yes,” — proudly.
Chairman, Mayfair Community Development Corporation
President, Mayfair Civic Association
Waiting for Congress to act on gun control
Janet Jackson’s breast flashed at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. Congress rushed to hearings in just 10 days on the “fashion malfunction.” In December, 20 primary school students were gunned down in their school along with the principal and other teachers. No action from Congress.
Let’s hope the new Congress crafts a strong law that at least mandates background checks at gun shows and outlaws the sale of assault weapons.
Ben Lariccia Jr.
Just say register
If everyone is so concerned about controlling guns and the killings of people with weapons; then why haven’t state legislatures passed an easy bill requiring anyone buying a weapon to have the weapon fired by the police and be registered. Files can be kept in the National Crime Information Center banks of the FBI.
Then, if you do have an a——— firing a weapon into the air that kills another little girl (just like New Year’s eve in Maryland) or you have unsolved homicides, you simply go to the ballistics information banks and match the riflings to the records of who purchased the weapon.
This may take some time, but it would certainly deter criminal actions.
EMTs are professionals who deserve respect
I am an EMT. I don’t work for the fire department and I don’t work for the 911 system. Nevertheless l perform a valuable service to the community. I don’t qualify for line-of-duty death benefits, because I work for a private company.
When I stop on the expressway risking life and limb for an auto accident and 911 is not on the scene, I’m often not even counted as one of the rescuers. When your loved one is bedridden and needs to go to their appointment, I am often called to take them there. When your loved one is discharged from the hospital and needs to be rehabilitated after a stroke or a fall, I am called. When your loved one is on renal dialysis and needs treatment during a blizzard or hurricane, I am called.
I have received state training from the Department of Health.
Often times I have to stay past my shift to help a patient in distress or to transport a trauma patient to the area trauma or cardiac hospital for an emergency stint (which often saves a person’s life). I have had countless painful nights of back pain and body aches because of the bariatric patient that I and four other crews had to take up two flights of stairs to their bedroom.
A recent trend has been for some local police officers to attempt to pull over the (private) ambulance when running code three (lights and sirens) and ask the driver and attendant why they are running lights and sirens within the city limits.
This practice is very dangerous to the patient and callous to the crew. On one occasion this was done with a cardiac patient on board and he subsequently coded after the crew was released by the officer and was allowed to continue the transport. The state permits private ambulance services to run code three anywhere within the state as long as the patient condition warrants it.
I am proud to be an EMT. I am not any less valuable to the community because I don’t work for the 911 system, so please stop asking me why I don’t or why I don’t become a paramedic.
I and others like me just want one thing — a little respect for the sacrifice that we make daily to help the citizens of our great city.
Andre C. Coleman
Stop the flu by closing schools
It is time to close Pennsylvania’s schools for one week to slow down and potentially stop the spread of influenza. This will take a bold and courageous step by a government leader, either using a mandate or issuing a state of emergency, and it must be done sooner than later. It will serve to inhibit the exponential growth of the virus and keep those that are currently incubating, but have not shown symptoms, from passing the illness to others.
Schools are breeding grounds for such illnesses because of the proximity of students during work, recreational and meal times. If we can close schools, this will also reduce the amount of children that are unwillingly passing the illness to mom, dad and siblings.
Of course, please keep washing our hands.
Bye bye, Hostess pie and the American Dream
The recent showdown and eventual outcome of the strife between Hostess’ corporate management and its unionized workforce is the latest example of the decline of good paying union jobs. This episode made me reflect not only on my own personal experience growing up in a union household but the impact the scarcity of good jobs is having on Northeast Philly families and our way of life.
There was a time when the American Dream was about getting ahead, whereas now it is often just simply getting by. People like my father came from other countries with the promise of being able to prosper in America.
The goal was that each generation had the ability to do better than the one that preceded it. Their dreams were realized because of the abundance of good-paying employment, including for blue- collar workers. Both of my parents had union jobs and because of this were able to buy a home, raise and spend quality time with their family, and send my brother Brendan and me to local Catholic schools. My family’s story is very similar to thousands of others in our community.
However, there is a huge structural change taking place within the American economy. In the 1960s over 35 percent of the labor force was unionized; now that figure stands at just 12 percent. The ramifications of this trend are devastating. Union jobs not only provide living wages for people but work to influence non-union jobs. Unions dramatically impact worker safety, family medical leave, benefit packages, workday hours and overtime standards for all professions. Aside from that, they have given countless families the opportunity to succeed and move up the socioeconomic ladder.
So what does this trend mean for Northeast workers? Fewer good paying union jobs means less time for the family. Rather than a man or woman working eight to nine hours for five days a week workers now often have multiple lower paying jobs just to make ends meet.
This harsh reality is not only harmful for individual families but also communities. It means fewer men and women are around to coach little league or CYO, tutor children or provide other forms of parental/communal guidance.
Today’s climate is one of the most daunting in the history of organized labor in this country. Across the U.S., right-wing state legislators are enacting legislation aimed at thwarting collective bargaining, as in Wisconsin, and making it more difficult to form a union through “Right to Work” legislation, like in Michigan. The primary goal of this sort of legislation is to pay workers less for doing more.
It’s important that we curb the trend of de-unionization and stand up for the men and women who are a part of them. These types of jobs are vital to our economy and our neighborhoods. They give families the opportunity to get ahead rather than simply getting by.
They work to keep the middle class upright.
State Rep. Kevin Boyle
172nd Legislative District
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