D.A.’s inaction an insult to city’s firefighters
The Philadelphia District Attorney’s refusal to file criminal charges against the owners of the derelict York Street warehouse in Kensington that claimed the lives of Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney is an injustice to the families of the fallen firefighters and the citizens who continue to be held hostage in the community.
District Attorney Seth Williams provided two possible explanations for his refusal to file charges against the property owners in the York Street fire. First, he cited his inability to determine the exact cause of fire to defend his position. Second, he claimed that, since he can’t prove criminal intent, he can’t pursue the case. Although these reasons explain why it may be a difficult case, neither of these reasons justify the D.A.’s decision not to file charges.
I understand that the District Attorney can’t pursue murder or arson charges because the cause of the fire was not determined, but he can pursue criminal negligence related charges. The fire marshal did determine that the fire did start in the building and that it was started by human influence. We also know that the owners were made aware on multiple occasions that the building was open to trespass, and that the owner knew of the requirements that the building needed to be “cleaned and sealed” and a vacant building permit obtained. The owners knowingly and willfully ignored the violations issued by the department of Licenses and Inspection. The fire ensued and two Philadelphia firefighters were killed.
Seth Williams was quoted as saying, “While the building owners violated virtually every regulation that got in their way, they were never held accountable for doing so.” Williams now has the opportunity to hold them accountable. He has the authority to charge these negligent property owners. The inaction of the property owners is criminal negligence. At a minimum, the owners should be charged with involuntary manslaughter and causing a catastrophe. In a criminal negligence case, the district attorney need not prove criminal intent as he has stated. There is no justifiable reason why the Philadelphia District Attorney is choosing not to file charges against these property owners. Additionally, the District Attorney is not bound by the recommendation of the Grand Jury. Williams should acknowledge that this is a fight worth fighting, stand up for the families of the fallen firefighters, and stand up for the people in the neighborhoods affected by these negligent property owners.
Joe Schulle, President
International Association of Firefighters, Local22
The travesty of truth about the Mondelez plant
he recent decision to close the Mondelez International plant at Roosevelt Boulevard and Byberry Road is a travesty for the Northeast Philadelphia families who served at the plant under multiple owners and through multiple generations. The decision to close the plant is a shocking window into the motives and agenda of Mondelez International and an example of the threat which outsourcing poses to working class families.
Last fall, when it was revealed that Mondelez was considering closing the plant, Rep. Kevin Boyle and I along with state Sen. Mike Stack offered to work with Mondelez in order to prioritize their needs. This offer went beyond incentives to keep the landmark factory open; it was sent with an invitation to tour our region with the prospect of opening a new and state of the art facility.
While months went by and we continued to pursue an opportunity to work with Mondelez International to keep jobs in the area, they were dismissive of our invitation. They also held their employees hostage by demanding unreasonable sacrifices and cuts to benefits. Mondelez International’s ‘My way or the highway’ dealings with their workers and their refusal to work with community leaders demonstrates a complete lack of interest in reaching a compromise.
Mondelez’s greed outweighed their ability to see future growth and prosperity. Short term profits drove their decision. In the future, Mondelez International will be making its products in Mexico, overseas and states that have not been as diligent in protecting the livelihoods of working families. This is the root of the factory closure and it provides Mondelez International with more avenues to exploit its employees in order to earn greater profits for the corporate elite.
This deplorable way of doing business has no place in Northeast Philadelphia. We have one of the most dedicated and highly productive work forces in the region. I look forward to showcasing our area to employers who realize this and have the interests of working families at heart. It is a shame that Mondelez International can no longer be counted among them.
State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle
170th legislative district