Letters to the Editor: February 19, 2014

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

You can reach at noreply@bsmphilly.com.

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