Letters to the editor Jan. 16, 2013

Joe De­Fe­lice

So many reas­ons to be proud to be a May­fairi­an
Guest Opin­ion
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.
Joe De­Fe­lice
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.
Joseph Kuchs

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.
Myles Gor­don

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

Speak your mind  …
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