Firefighter Daniel Sweeney: 9-18-86 to 4-9-12The entire Sweeney family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to all who reached out to us since the death of Dan and his supervisor, Lt. Robert Neary. The tremendous outpouring of support has helped us in these troubling times. David and Marian Sweeney sincerely appreciate your prayers and generous acts.Contributions in Dan’s name may be made to The Daniel Sweeney Memorial Scholarship Fund, accepted at any Police and Fire Credit Union or simply mailed to PFFCU (c/o the fund), 901 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 or Local 22 Philadelphia Firefighters union, 415 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia, PA 19123.The fund is set up for deserving children who wish to attend Bishop McDevitt High School (Dan’s alma mater) and any other school.
“Let the justice system handle Mister Toledo.”That was the very wise advice from Capt. Frank Bachmayer, commander of the 15th Police District, following the arrest of an Aldine Street man who allegedly slashed tires on vehicles belonging to his neighbors in Mayfair and Holmesburg.While residents may be sleeping a tad bit more soundly these days now that David Toledo has been apprehended and awaits his day in court, folks ought not get too lackadaisical.They should remain vigilant, aware that quality-of-life crime and the type of low-level urban terrorism Mr. Toledo allegedly put them through can happen anytime. They should continue to join and support their local Town Watch groups — heck, the more the merrier; remember, in unity there is strength — and frequently peer out their windows for signs of trouble.But residents must never allow their justifiable anger to move beyond the thought process, even if the wheels of justice move at a snail’s pace. A temptation to harass the suspect, his family or his property may be a natural instinct for folks who have lost time, wages and lots of dollars to get their cars repaired following the vandalism, but, as Capt. Bachmayer suggested last week, such action is off-limits. Crime victims must refrain from becoming criminals themselves in the name of retaliation.
More than 400,000 people call Northeast Philadelphia home, but it’s a safe bet that for many of them, their only exposure to the area along the Delaware River is when they glance at it on the way to or from the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.That limited exposure should change in a few weeks when Lardner’s Point Park, a 4.5-acre jewel of the outdoors between Robbins Avenue and Levick Street, is formally dedicated for all to enjoy.The trash and debris that once marred the area will be replaced by a medley of amenities, including a walking trail that will be part of a 3,000-mile path along the East Coast, a fishing pier, benches and picnic tables, solar-powered lights, parking, and perhaps most important, trees.Much of the $1.5 million cost of the project came from state funds — in other words, you the taxpayers — so it would behoove able-bodied Northeast denizens to attend the May 14 dedication to check out the new and improved waterfront.With other improvement projects on the horizon, the area soon will offer Northeast residents great reasons to spend some of their leisure time in their community instead of the easy chair.• • •Speaking of treasures, America became a bit poorer last week with the passing of the world’s oldest teenager, music legend Dick Clark.Although watching the New Year’s Eve festivities on TV arguably lost much of its luster when bandleader Guy Lombardo died in 1977, Mr. Clark became a beloved tradition on ABC with his hosting duties on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. This year, New Year’s Eve just won’t be the same. ••Send letters to: email@example.com
What’s the matter with kids today?Who knew the police outside the middle school by me are there to protect the public from the kids and not the other way around? The other day, I was in my back yard with my almost 2-year-old, when I heard yelling and lots of cursing. I looked up the driveway and there was a gaggle of middle-school kids; it seemed like two girls were getting in a fight.They kept getting closer, so I yelled for them to take it back to the street and watch the language, there was a child nearby. They actually did! Then I heard horns honking; these kids were just walking right in the middle of the road. Fortunately, as quickly as I dialed 911, a police truck came through honking. I remembered then, they usually hang out around the school when the kids are being let out.Oh, how I wish the parents of some of these kids could see what they are up to when they leave to come home! I hate to be out at that time, because of this. A school-age kid that lives nearby said just the other week some kids went running/fighting through his yard.Boy, I hope we are out of Philly by the time my kid is school age, or at least get her in a charter school; no way she’s going to the school that, sadly, is so conveniently close to us!Eileen TetiCastor Gardens
If you don’t know the significance of next Tuesday, you’re probably the kind of person who whines about government but rarely or never bothers to vote. If so, shame on you. Shame, shame, shame on you.There’s a host of important decisions to be made in the primary election. It’s time to select candidates for president, the U.S. House and Senate, the state legislature, attorney general, auditor general and treasurer, and whether you like it or not, some of those men and women are going to retain or win their positions of public trust. Therefore, it’s up to you to know who they are and what they stand for and then give them an earful.Sadly, some of the state representatives and senators up for re-election this year have no opposition whatsoever — no opponents in Tuesday’s primary nor the Nov. 6 general election. In a free and democratic society, that is pathetic.Remember, an active, informed, motivated electorate is many a politician’s worst enemy. Citizens who exercise their right to vote every election day are helping to hold elected officials accountable for their actions — or, too often, their inactions — and in so doing, they demonstrate a sense of self-respect and a desire to do their part to control their own destiny. Yes, gentle readers, the politicians listen to the people, but only if the people speak up. If you sit on your hands on Tuesday thinking that your vote doesn’t count and that the politicians will do what they want anyway, you deserve the consequences. People who don’t vote are essentially inviting politicians to give them the shaft.Even if you think elections force you to pick the lesser of two evils, or the least of all evils, go to the polls anyway. Because in a democracy, silence is never golden.Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org
No crossing at the Boulevard crossoverSurprise! The crossover on the Roosevelt Boulevard going southbound in the inner lanes to get to Unruh Avenue has been cemented closed!Now, if you want to cross over from inner lanes to the outer lanes, you have to get over at the Cottman Avenue crossover or go past your streets to Levick Street. Whose idea was that? You would think after over 30 years or more, they would tell you of a change like this. I lost my crossover!Fran KaminskyCastor Gardens
Fire department captain appreciates our supportThank you very much for your editorial last week regarding the brownouts in the Philadelphia Fire Department (Respect our firefighters).As a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department for 35 years, it is extremely rare to see anything in writing from the media here in Philly which depicts us firefighters in a positive light.As far as I’m concerned, it seems very obvious that the two major papers (The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News) are pretty much controlled by City Hall, which I think is pathetic.These brownouts are no different than Russian roulette. The city is taking a chance that a fire does not occur in a company’s particular local area on any given day.Although nobody can say with absolute certainty that some of the fire deaths that have occurred when brownouts were in force would not have resulted with the same outcome, there have been a few where many of us firefighters feel there could have been a chance to save the lives of some of these people.I believe that the city of Philadelphia treats its firefighters like second-class citizens. I also believe that the public, in general, does not really care about us either. The one time I do know that they care about us is when they need us, whether it’s for a medical emergency, fire in their home, natural gas leak, or whatever the case may be.Once again, thank you for your support. It is appreciated.Robert BowmanCaptain, Engine 58Bustleton Avenue and Hendrix Street
Too often, city officials and judges believe the best way to handle a problem is to first pretend it doesn’t exist, then pretend to do something about it, then, only if absolutely necessary, do something about it. Now, two firemen from Northeast Philadelphia are dead, and it appears their blood is on the hands of local government.The horrific five-alarm blaze at a vacant warehouse in Kensington that killed Lt. Robert Neary and Firefighter Daniel Sweeney Monday morning likely would not have happened had the city and court system been proactive, not reactive. The Langhorne-based company that owned the empty warehouse, on the 1800 block of E. York St., owes back taxes and unpaid water bills. That’s bad enough, but the building reportedly had been visited by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections a half-dozen times since November and had been broken into, even after the city sealed it up.Something’s terribly wrong with this picture. Too many Philadelphia neighborhoods have abandoned warehouses that are tragedies just waiting to happen.If city officials and the courts, from Mayor Michael Nutter and president judges on down the ladder, had any courage, they would have made sure that buildings like the one that collapsed on Lt. Neary and Firefighter Sweeney were torn down years ago.Like so many other segments of government, vigorous enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy on tax deadbeats and absentee landlords — of hazardous residential AND commercial properties — is doable but rarely done. Had the city and courts not dilly-dallied, two Northeast families and the entire family known as the Philadelphia Fire Department would not be in tears today. ••Send letters to: email@example.com
How many of you would like to run into a burning building and risk your life to try to save the structure or more importantly, people inside the structure? Odds are, not many of you raised your hands.Thankfully, enough men and women in Philadelphia are brave enough to put everything on the line as members of the Philadelphia Fire Department. Sadly, though, those courageous heroes — every uniformed member of the department — are essentially getting kicked in the teeth by short-sighted, heartless, pig-headed city officials who care more about their egos and saving money than saving lives — a point highlighted by firefighters’ family members at a rally in Burholme last week.By resorting to temporarily closing fire stations throughout the city — a procedure called “brownouts” — fire officials, particularly Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, are putting citizens in jeopardy. They’re banking on the hope and possibility — and yes, perhaps the probability — that nobody will ever die as a result of reduced manpower and slowed response time resulting from brownouts, but they are playing Russian roulette. They’re literally playing with fire, and shame on them.Some day their luck is going to run out. When somebody dies because the short-staffed, ill-equipped fire department cannot get to the scene of a fire in time, there will be hell to pay in Philadelphia. And in this city of 1.5 million people, that is likely to happen. If fire officials think that’s OK, it’s time to get new fire officials.Send letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Perzel case was politically motivatedIn the conclusion of the film Judgment at Nuremberg, Ernst Janning, played by Burt Lancaster, is a former judge under the Nazi regime who admits he made his “life excrement” because he followed the powers of Nazi Germany. He states “that he never knew it would come to that,” meaning, of course, the atrocities.Spencer Tracy, in a memorable retort, responds that he knew “it would come to that, the first time he sentenced a man whom he knew to be innocent.”Dauphin County Common Pleas Court “Judge” Richard Lewis should watch this compelling film and heed its warning.I have known, watched and admired all John Perzel did for the community and noted how well he was liked by our senior citizens. The plea he made I am sure came with much consideration for not only himself but his wife and children.I have always believed these charges were politically oriented, but now sentence has been passed by this wretched, cheap, charlatan and lackey who is no more than a sycophantic lapdog seeking crumbs from the table of a false idol. This detestable cretin is not qualified to sentence a 5-year-old to a “time out.” He too will be judged one day. We can only hope that sentence will be most severe.Leonard T. RobertsMayfair