The year 2012 is history. How many of you kept your New Year’s resolution all year?
How many of you have already broken your 2013 resolutions?
It’s once again time for the Times to check in with some local public figures to ask them if they’ve made a resolution for this year.
Also this year, we’ve asked them to pinpoint one thing that can be done to improve the Northeast.
And we’ve asked them this: “If you could help one person, who would it be and what would you do for that person?” That question came out of a discussion with New Foundations Charter High School sophomores Allyson Mullen, Nicole Gonzalez and Gregory Sheridan, who visited our office during a recent Career Shadow Day coordinated by their school.
Here we go…
What is your New Year’s resolution?
• Bill Dolbow, president of the Lawncrest Community Association, whose group attracts large crowds to its monthly meetings: “We’re going to get bigger and do more for the neighborhood.”
• Jared Solomon, president of the Castor Gardens-based Take Back Your Neighborhood Civic Association, joked that he’s had enough of the boy-band craze. “I’m going to try to listen to less of One Direction.”
• Al Taubenberger, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, needs to be in top form for a busy 2013. “My New Year’s resolution is to stay in shape, continue to lose weight, paint my house and anything else that’s on my wife’s honey-do list.”
• Inspector Mike Cochrane, the new commander of the Northeast Police Division, is tasked with reducing crime in the 2nd, 7th, 8th and 15th districts, with a particular emphasis on violence in Lower Northeast neighborhoods. “I want to make the Northeast a better and safer place to live for everyone.”
• John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, is looking forward to opening the new FOP headquarters in the Far Northeast later this month. His resolution concerns the well-being of his members. “Mine is to do my best to keep police officers safe and better equipped. We buried two this year. I don’t want to have to do that anymore.”
• Unlike McNesby, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 president Bill Gault does not have a contract for his members. Mayor Michael Nutter has appealed contract awards announced twice by a neutral arbiter and upheld once by a Common Pleas Court judge. The union last week filed a court motion to hold Nutter in contempt. In 2013, Gault wants to finally win the contract battle and hopes that Commissioner Lloyd Ayers changes his mind on a plan to involuntarily transfer 293 veteran firefighters to give younger firefighters experience at busy stations. The union contends it’s important to keep the veterans in place because they know the neighborhoods the best. “I hope the commissioner stops his unprecedented, ridiculous transfer of senior guys. It’s a very stupid plan.”
• Elsie Stevens, president of Holme Circle Civic Association, has plenty of resolutions, both personal and for her neighborhood. She wants to give up chocolates and trust her GPS instead of her own sense of direction, among others. As for the civic group, she wants to facilitate an amicable solution to the proposed development of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth convent; develop closer relationships with the Immaculate Mary Home, Nazareth Hospital and Torresdale Library; install a “Welcome to Holme Circle” sign and plantings at the Holme Circle traffic circle; beautify the Old Crispin Cemetery; create a Citation of Merit Award for residents and businesses; address possibilities for the future of the historical Stokes House on Welsh Road; monitor new ownership of the Northeast Community Center; and organize a “Meet and Greet Your Neighbors” event. “Wishing all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.”
• City Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez describes herself as the Seventh Councilmanic District’s main cheerleader. “My resolution this year is to be patient. I have frustrated myself over the length of time it takes takes to do anything in government. This has led to frustration and disappointment, although I am very pleased with our accomplishments to date.”
• State Rep. Brendan Boyle resolved last year to eat at fewer fast-food restaurants, but that didn’t go so well. He vows to stay away from them in 2013 and to exercise more. “My New Year’s resolution is to get in good enough shape to run the Mayfair 5K.” He also put out a challenge to his younger brother Kevin, who represents Mayfair in the state House, to be ready for the May 18 race.
• City Controller Alan Butkovitz also plans to be on a health kick. “I’ve got to watch my diet and my weight. I’m diabetic.”
• State Rep. Mark Cohen says, “I hope we can restore the full right to vote for all Pennsylvanians and get rid of the voter ID legislation.”
If you could do one thing to improve the Northeast in 2013, what would it be?
• Bill Dolbow, Democratic leader of the 35th Ward (in addition to being president of the Lawncrest Community Association): “Get Northeast candidates elected.” Actually, Dolbow is two years ahead of himself. That’s when there should be at least one opening for a Democratic at-large City Council seat. Local ward leaders are expected to mobilize to support a Northeast hopeful.
• Jared Solomon said the Northeast shouldn’t be known primarily as the place where fans gather to celebrate playoff wins by our local pro sports teams. “We should be promoting the history, cultural diversity and promise of the Northeast.”
• Abby Gilbert, project manager of the Rhawnhurst Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, knows of many senior citizens who could use year-round help finding transportation, raking leaves, pulling weeds, mowing lawns and shoveling snow. “I’d like to connect more people with seniors who need a helping hand, not just here in Rhawnhurst, but throughout the Northeast.”
• Joe DeFelice is president of the Mayfair Civic Association and chairman of the Mayfair Community Development Corporation, and works closely with the Mayfair Business Association. All of those groups are hoping for an increase in volunteer citizen activists and will be working to increase foot traffic and desirable businesses on the main commercial corridor. “What I’d like to see in 2013 is more vibrancy along Frankford Avenue. As Frankford Avenue goes, so goes the neighborhood.”
• Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez said, “As for helping someone, I try to help someone every day in all that I do. But it is particularly gratifying to help a young person. Their view of the world is less tainted, and I find, always spirited.”
• Alan Butkovitz, who lives in Castor Gardens, sees the Northeast as an old community with little new development. Too many of its good citizens are moving to the suburbs and South Jersey. “I’d like to see the Northeast capture the kind of dynamic they have in Center City, starting on the river and moving west.”
• Brendan Boyle is a supporter of Building America’s Future Educational Fund, a group co-chaired by former Philadelphia Mayor and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, which seeks to improve the nation’s infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. A similar plan boosted China’s economy, Boyle said, and he wants unemployed Northeast residents to be able to apply for jobs for future infrastructure upgrades. “We have to make sure the twenty-first century is an American century, just like the 20th century.”
• Mark Cohen also cites infrastructure, specifically driveways behind rowhomes. “I’d like to see an organized effort to deal with driveway problems. We have a huge number of old driveways. They’re a terrible eyesore, put extra wear and tear on cars and downgrade the value of everybody’s house.”
If you could help one person, who would it be and what would you do for that person?
• Jared Solomon is not surprised that Andy Reid was fired on Monday after 14 years as Eagles coach. Solomon grew tired of hearing Reid, after each loss, take full responsibility and vow to get his players ready to play. The civic leader is ready to assist Reid, who is widely expected to be hired by another NFL team. “I’d probably help Andy Reid at his press conferences.”
• Abby Gilbert said she can come up with 15 low-income people whose houses are in need of repair because of water damage caused by a leaky roof or out-of-date plumbing and electrical work. “I can pick any one of those ladies, all widows, who’ve lived in the Northeast all their lives but have no family to help them.”
• Mark Cohen would give a helping hand to his wife, Mona, a teacher at Julia Ward Howe Academics Plus, at 13th and Grange streets in East Oak Lane. “I would help her efforts in the classroom to integrate services for kids with autism.”
• Brendan Boyle wants to ease the burden on his mom, Eileen, who lives with her husband in Olney. “I’d get my mom a full-time cook so she wouldn’t have to do it herself.” ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org