The Somerton Civic Association and state Rep. Brendan Boyle last week recognized a neighborhood military hero who is now back home and serving his fellow citizens on the home front.
During the monthly SCA meeting on Oct. 8, Boyle presented a House citation to Philadelphia Police Capt. Michael P. Cram, who is a Somerton resident and serves as a Military Police captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. Cram recently returned from Afghanistan, where he completed his fourth overseas deployment.
Cram joined the Philadelphia Police Department and the Army Reserve in 1988, Boyle said. He served as a police officer in the 25th district, a sergeant in the 14th district and a lieutenant in the 15th district before his March 2009 promotion to captain. He has been commander of the 26th district since then.
The police department allows him to retain his command during his military deployments. Cram was one of the youngest officers to attain the rank of captain in police department history.
Officers from the civic group helped Boyle present the citation to Cram, including vice president Seth Kaplan, treasurer Pat Cantwell and recording secretary Natalie Sherman.
In unrelated business, the civic group approved a resident’s plan to legalize an awning on his rear deck. City zoning inspectors recently cited the owner of 346 Tomlinson Plaza, Mangal Singh, for building the awning without a permit. According to Kaplan, “enclosed” decks are not permitted by the city’s zoning code, and the awning constitutes an enclosure.
The owner of the property reported that he built the awning about six months ago, not realizing he needed a permit. It has a wood frame and plastic shade. The house is a single-family twin. The owner said that five of his neighbors signed a petition stating they support his effort to get the awning legalized. His appeal will next go in front of the Zoning Board of Adjustment. A hearing date was not announced.
Danny Alvarez, a Republican candidate for district attorney, asked members of the SCA to support him in the Nov. 5 election, when he will face incumbent Democrat Seth Williams.
Alvarez lives in Somerton and is a father of two. He served 8-1/2 years as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting major crimes, gun violence cases, narcotics and other types of offenders. He is now in private practice specializing mostly in civil work, with some criminal defense work.
Alvarez described himself as an alternative to the political establishment, a citizen who believes in “playing by the rules,” paying taxes and serving all city residents, including those in the Northeast.
He took a shot at Williams, describing the incumbent’s Oct. 9 tour of Lawncrest businesses as “rubbish” and “blatant campaigning,” although Williams presented the event as his effort to learn more about crime issues in the neighborhood. Boyle joined Williams for the tour of Rising Sun Avenue.
Regarding Somerton area crime, Police Officer Rich Simon of the 7th district reported that there were 53 major crimes reported in Police Service Area 3, which comprises the northernmost third of the district, during the 30-day period ending on Oct. 8.
Burglary seems to be the biggest recent problem with 16 cases reported. Other major crimes include thefts, aggravated assaults, robberies and homicides.
City Commissioner Al Schmidt continued his tour of Northeast civic associations to promote his office’s new website, www.PhiladelphiaVotes.com. The site features comprehensive information for voters, political candidates, campaign workers and election board officials. ••