Letters to the Editor: July 9, 2014

Stop home in­va­sions

The lead story on the news re­cently con­cerned the vi­ol­ent home in­va­sion of a Somer­ton fam­ily. The per­pet­rat­ors kid­napped the fam­ily’s 16 year-old child as part of their plan to steal everything of value from the prop­erty. As any­one who fol­lows the news can at­test, home in­va­sions are be­com­ing ever more fre­quent. Now an ad­di­tion­al com­pon­ent has been ad­ded — the fright­en­ing specter of kid­nap­ping. 

Phil­adelphia, and par­tic­u­larly North­east Phil­adelphia, might be the epi­cen­ter of this re­pel­lent activ­ity. Ox­ford Circle, Lawn­crest, Castor Gar­dens, Frank­ford, Holmes­burg and oth­er neigh­bor­hoods in the North­east are wit­ness­ing home in­va­sions for the first time. Crim­in­als of­ten tar­get seni­or cit­izens and those phys­ic­ally im­paired. 

As a former as­sist­ant dis­trict at­tor­ney who has pro­sec­uted law­break­ers, I’ve been con­scious of un­usu­al crime pat­terns in the North­east. And it is be­cause of the alarm­ing in­crease in home in­va­sions that I in­tro­duced HB 1296 in the state le­gis­lature sev­er­al months ago. De­signed to fill a gap in the crim­in­al code, alert res­id­ents to the grow­ing prob­lem and spark great­er po­lice aware­ness, the pro­posed le­gis­la­tion would sub­stan­tially in­crease pen­al­ties for those found guilty of home in­va­sion.

As the bill states, a per­son could be con­victed of home in­va­sion if he or she know­ingly enters, at­tempts to enter or re­mains un­law­fully in a dwell­ing with in­tent to com­mit a vi­ol­ent crime. 

Once the bill be­comes law, those con­victed of home in­va­sion would be hit with a man­dat­ory min­im­um sen­tence of five years in pris­on. Those con­victed of a sim­il­ar or sub­sequent home in­va­sion charge or where the vic­tim is 62 years of age or older would re­ceive a 10-year sen­tence. Judges would have no dis­cre­tion or abil­ity to re­duce an of­fend­er’s term be­hind bars. HB 1296 has won bi-par­tis­an sup­port in the state House. It passed the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives 200 to 2 and is now await­ing a vote in the state Sen­ate. Pennsylvania res­id­ents need to con­tact their state sen­at­or and urge them to de­mand a hear­ing and vote on HB 1296.

As one home in­va­sion vic­tim told my staff re­cently, “If they got away with it be­fore, they’ll do it again.” His mes­sage to law­makers was simple and dir­ect, “How would you feel if it happened to you?”

Rep. John P. Sabat­ina Jr.

174th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict

Salar­ies are the is­sue

We con­tin­ue to be bom­barded by school dis­trict re­quests for more money. We hear the scrip­ted sob stor­ies about teach­er, nurse and sup­ply short­ages. Are we to be­lieve that the state has a ma­gic ma­chine that will crank out 96 mil­lion more dol­lars, without any pain to cit­izens? 

Do you know that the dis­trict has 396 em­ploy­ees who earn more than $100,000?

None of them are teach­ers. 

The school dis­trict has 10 su­per­in­tend­ents who av­er­age $160,000 a year. A prin­cip­al’s base salary av­er­ages $138,000. Does this sound like a school dis­trict that is broke?

Do you mean to tell me you deny the kids nurses and sup­plies while this payroll pig-out is go­ing on? And where is the me­dia on this? 

It took me all of 10 seconds to go to www.watch­dog.org and find Maura Pen­ning­ton’s story and the payroll list. 

Richard Iac­on­elli


Thank you, May­or

Phil­adelphia City Coun­cil has giv­en Phil­adelphia the best gift with the rat­i­fic­a­tion of May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter’s FY15 $2.5 mil­lion budget in­crease provid­ing six-day-a-week open lib­rar­ies. 

Friends of the Free Lib­rary of Phil­adelphia and our 50 Friends vo­lun­teer groups ap­plaud May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter for the ad­di­tion­al $2.5 mil­lion, every year for five years. In­cluded in this budget is $200,000 ded­ic­ated to books, DVDs, peri­od­ic­als and oth­er ma­ter­i­als to fill the shelves of neigh­bor­hood lib­rar­ies. Lib­rary ad­voc­ates, pat­rons and Phil­adelphi­ans know that 21st-cen­tury lib­rar­ies foster lifelong learn­ing and are where com­munit­ies go to en­rich their lives and get con­nec­ted.  

Thank you, May­or Nut­ter and City Coun­cil for your sup­port to Phil­adelphia’s neigh­bor­hood lib­rar­ies!

Kar­en D. Lash

Pres­id­ent, Friends of Holmes­burg Lib­rary

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