- By: Rashid Azar
- @DASethWilliams Anytime! 01:48:15 AM March 11, 2014 in reply to DASethWilliams ReplyRetweetFavorite
- And Now: Here’s @DASethWilliams Smoking a Cigar. http://t.co/P73uJD7t98 01:07:37 AM March 11, 2014 ReplyRetweetFavorite
- Will Accused Pot Dealer Out on $1MM Bail Fix Up This Building? http://t.co/pcxUF1pE9I 06:50:29 PM March 10, 2014 ReplyRetweetFavorite
- The Teacher’s Union is likely to be broken this year. @keystonepol http://t.co/GnS9LEwMIF 06:42:37 PM March 07, 2014 ReplyRetweetFavorite
- @rw_briggs it’s not. RIAA suits pioneered crowbar’ing IP addresses from media companies. 04:27:50 AM March 07, 2014 in reply to rw_briggs ReplyRetweetFavorite
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- The Suburbs
Claudia Vargas delivers an interesting story this morning about 1101 Frankford Avenue, which went to zoning before the Fishtown Neighbors Association. One of the owners is out on $1 million dollars bail for smuggling marijuana. [Inky]
Update: Wow, that was fast. [DN]
Occasionally I see a great chance to shoot or watch some heroin/opioid junkies “dippin’ out” in public transit. This video has been flying around all over Facebook today and it’s so sad I couldn’t help but share it.
To junkie mom: I’m not here to fix your life’s problems, but your daughter doesn’t deserve to deal with your shit. I also hate people like you who take up SEPTA seats like furniture while you’re dipping out. I’m paying for your methadone treatment, so perhaps you should sit out your high on a bench and wait for it to pass before you climb aboard SEPTA and sit there, missing your stops and roaming around the transit network with your drool like a petrified rock.
In yesterday’s budget address, Michael Nutter didn’t announce one new penny to go to the School District of Philadelphia.
The SDP hasn’t wasted any time, either. Principals learned that the District is asking for a 15% cut to their pay. [Inky] This winter of discontent that we’ve had the last two years with public worker labor strife will likely intensify this spring as City Council ponders where it can scrounge up cash, if any, to throw at the SDP to make the pain just a little-bit less.
And where is Johnny Doc? Why isn’t he out on the street with teachers holding a pizza and fishsticks rally in a show of public worker solidarity? He’s nowhere. He’s never been seen out in solidarity with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, and it’s likely because local politicians are clearly divided into camps over the issue.
If you’re for school privatization, you’ll be great friends with Senator Anthony Hardy Williams who styles himself as the chief architect of Pennsylvania’s charter school law and given the SDP crisis he is like a mother-hen hovering around everywhere when important discussions are taking place about school district policy.
His drive to charterize the entire school system is what’s exacerbating the school district’s finances.
If you’re not for charterization, you’ll get the support of the low-income parents who cannot get their kids into the specialty schools the District offers, the Center City liberals, SDP workers and others who don’t view charterization as the panacea that will fix everything wrong with our school system. Well, none of these people control any important public offices so why should the most vocal and politically-influential union in Philly have anything to do with that?
The PFT contract has been hanging out in limbo for a while now, but this is is going to be the year when push will come to shove. With the principals being asked to take a significant cut, whatever happens there is likely to be the template the PFT will follow when the much-larger teacher’s union contract is finalized. If principals walk out and the schools shut, the PFT will quickly join-in and leave the schools closed.
But, the School Reform Commission has a big powerful weapon at its disposal. It can use its state power and impose terms and pretend that the PFT has signed the contract. If you walk out, the SRC can order the school district to remove those employees from the payroll and begin hiring replacements.
If it actually comes down to that, the teacher’s union will be broken, and so are all the other union locals that work at the school district. In a town where Labor has ruled this city since time immemorial, to actually see our Labor leaders sit on the sidelines while one of its siblings gets eaten is astonishing. It’s not a sight I think the average Democrat voter in Philadelphia relishes.
CNN has been all over Spike Lee’s comments about gentrification. [CNN]
When it comes to Philadelphia however, much of Spike Lee’s griping is misplaced. Generations of homeowners in Philly have long-banked on their cheap, depressed home values. Why were our home values so cheap for so long? Our public schools have sucked for a very long time.
Gentrification pressure in Philly affects less than 1/3 of the city’s total surface area and its rate of expansion is mostly kept in check by our horrible public schools above all other things. And if anything, our public schools now suck more than ever; public opinion regarding the SDP has reached its lowest levels imaginable.
That basically means all of the gentrification we see in Philadelphia is missing a major factor that would cause it to explode here: schools. Everyone who has kids here either leaves Philadelphia or finds some other solution around the schools problem in order to stay here—or just doesn’t have kids. Those with their kids in the School District of Philadelphia are either lucky their children are in one of the few performing schools the District has, or their kids are at the mercy of a system they can’t avoid. That puts definite limits on the homebuying populations for sure.
You only have to look no further than the Penn Alexander School to see what fixing schools does to house prices: parents pack into the school catchment which caused the area around Penn Alexander to shoot up a $100K prevailing premium over areas of West Philly just outside the school catchment.
But also consider this: There are 4.4 million people living in Philly’s collar county suburbs and only 1.5 million living in the city proper. If schools were suddenly fixed tomorrow, it’s likely that the cheapest homes in Mantua would be $450K. Chew on that for a minute. Your cheap house is mostly riding on the back of shitty schools keeping the bulk of parents who have means away.
But that never stopped the whining. In fact, just last week there were pleas to the United Nations to declare gentrification a human rights violation. [DN]
But hold-up, those of you whining about gentrification. It appears the NYTimes has dubbed Philadelphia one of America’s most progressive towns when it comes to dealing with the bellyaching over housing price changes. [NYT]
Now, about your suburban slumlord who smells the gentrification coming towards his rental property he was renting out for $600/mo and collecting a string of code violations on for a decade who might decide to sell his house to a rehabber and cash out, leaving that rental at the sake of increasing valuations? Nobody has come up with a solution for that yet.
Got ideas on what to do about private market rentals in Philly that are impacted by gentrification? Sound off in the comments.
Yes it’s click-bait.
But you’ll click on it anyway. Because you know you want to. (click pic for the full meal deal)
Hey Sheriff Williams, I See Your Bitchy Whining and Raise You One Secret Document Out of Your Office
Today Jewell Williams reacted and responded (here’s his letter) to Ronnie Polaneczky’s article how the phones at the Sheriff’s office just ring and ring. A casual headline skimmer might conclude without reading the article that the Sheriff’s Office is full of layabouts sitting behind their desks filing their nails while Rome burns. Well, of course that’s not what’s really going on. They aren’t answering the phones for sure, but they’re doing far worse things like not correctly telling the City when a Sheriff Sale clears and all liens should be wiped on a property.
That’s a problem because when you buy a property at a tax auction, there is no more municipal debt. That’s the whole damn reason the property was sold in the first place. Apparently the Sheriff’s Office is either too stupid to understand this, it doesn’t know how to operate a fax to the Revenue Department instructing them to wipe the liens off the property, or it’s embezzling money.
The Sheriff’s Office is still under an FBI investigation, after all. [AxisPhilly]
Let’s also not forget some of the weird publications that the Sheriff’s Office pays to run Sheriff Sale ads in. Back of the napkin calculations concluded that the company that owns the Philadelphia Gay News bills the Sheriff well over a million dollars a year to run Sheriff Sale ads that nobody reads in their papers.
A secret informant sent me this list breaking down a single bank foreclosure and what it costs to advertise it in the papers. Pennsylvania law requires the Philadelphia Sheriff to publish notices in only two publications, one of them must be the Legal Intelligencer.
This page is a case ledger, which shows on a particular foreclosure case what the Sheriff is spending its money on. While reading through this list you’ll see Cardenas-Grant Communications, they are a middleman that charges the Sheriff to send the ads over to the various newspapers.
This particular case in this document is a bank foreclosure. A deposit was started with the Sheriff of $1,700.00 when the foreclosure began. The ad costs eventually ran up to $1,800 for this single bank sale.
Out of the money spent, Cardenas-Grant just in their own fees charged $273 for a single property on a sheriff’s sale. In a single auction that might feature 500 properties this ledger represents nearly $140K in fees just for the middleman.
If the Sheriff only advertised in the Daily News, Inquirer and the Legal Intelligencer the ads would cost the Sheriff about $700 this sale. But instead the newspaper ads cost the Sheriff $1,357.83 just for this one ad. Some of the small circulation papers also have particularly high rates. The Gay News for instance charges $90.81 for this ad while the Black Professional News only charges $11.75.
848 Wharton sits feet away from where Pat’s own customers dine. 722 S 49th is a corner 3-story porchfront house in West Philly.
Residents near both properties have complained to L&I over and over again about both properties. L&I certainly did some violation notices. Here’s the ones for 722 S 49th, and also for 848 Wharton. CityPaper has the low-down on what went on with this house. We’ll focus a little bit on 848 Wharton’s owner, Maria Olivieri. She just so happens to be the cousin of Frank Olivieri, Jr., who owns Pat’s.
Curiously enough on the Wharton Street property, L&I never cited this property for a vacant/abandoned license, and not much else is available in L&I’s records about what it was doing. Until, of course, the roof crashed in and sent bricks and debris flying into two streets.
There was a demo permit to remove some non-load bearing walls inside the building, but it’s not known if that work was actually carried out. As for the taxes, Olivieri was keeping them current, but last year she was slapped with a $72K federal income tax lien on top of two other IRS liens she also has.
In Feburary of 2012 Olivieri was sued by the City over 837 Wharton Street, another property she also owns, for failure to maintain a vacant building license. Apparently owning empty buildings is Maria’s thang.
Do you think Frank Olivieri might not like that there’s a partially-collapsed 3 story building right next to his tourist cash cow? I would hope so.
There’s approximately 580,000 parcels of property in Philadelphia. There are only 60 inspectors at the Department of Licenses and Inspections to oversee it all.
After some brutal blows with the Bucks Hosiery fire in Kensington and the Basciano building collapse on Market Street, Patrick Kerkstra in PlanPhilly writes that L&I has all but given up its Anti-Blight unit. (Yes, L&I says it’s ‘temporary’ but it’s likely to be a permanent sorta temporary, kna’mean?)
This is rather troublesome if not downright scary. It appears that L&I is about to slide back into the olden days, where L&I inspectors ran around town in a Chinese fire drill–which they still do now, their work schedule set by whoever can scream the loudest or get their ward leader to tug at the ears of City Council people that you or I would expect would come naturally by filling out a request with 311.
There is an opportunity to stop this before it starts. City Council starts its budget season in March which is only two weeks from now. Please consider writing to your member of City Council today and ask them to write legislation enforcing a mandatory minimum of 100 inspectors at L&I. E-mail addresses of your District council people and a sample email you can use are at the bottom of this post.
Philadelinquency’s Personal Message to City Council: “C’mon; stop fucking around with e-cigarettes and do some real shit for a change that actually affects our lives.”
– The Management
Here’s your District Council email addresses:
District 1 - Mark Squilla
District 2 – Kenyatta Johnson
District 3 – Jannie Blackwell
District 4 – Curtis Jones Jr.
District 5 – Darrell Clarke
District 6 – Bobby Henon
District 7 – Maria Quinones-Sanchez
District 8 – Cindy Bass
District 9 – Marian Tasco
District 10 – Brian O’Neill
Dear Council Member:
The recent building collapse in the heart of Center City that killed and maimed at least a dozen people and the destruction by fire of a major factory in Kensington that killed two city firefighters and the endless expanse of blight in Philadelphia is only checked by a single department of the city: L&I.
L&I is run on a budget of vapor since the Nutter Administration. The Anti-Blight unit at L&I which used to have two full-time inspectors now only has one, with virtually no support staff. There are only 60 L&I inspectors guarding our City’s building, zoning, electrical and plumbing codes going after issues that are directly qualified as blight or blight-causing. That is one inspector for every 9,666 properties in Philadelphia. 40 other inspectors handle C&I Fire code and construction activity in the city.
You cannot say you’re fighting blight and at the same time continue to defund this department. Any reasonable person would conclude that the number of personnel required for this task would be far greater than 60 inspectors, and greater than 100. Do us a favor this spring: legislate and fund a minimum set of inspectors to be no less than 100 people and do not ever change this number below that.
100 inspectors reduces this burden down to 5,800 properties per inspector citywide; a still unmanageable number, but does give L&I some breathing space to deploy inspectors to regions of the city that are more intensive with active property owners skirting the Code.
Without a minimum 100 inspectors, how can you tell constituents that you are generally concerned about blight and bad building practices, when you are unwilling to fund the department that is responsible for carrying out enforcement of the Code?
Let’s see this circle of despair end once and for all. Install the and make permanent the required inspectors we need to make Philadelphia a more vibrant and safer city. We owe the victims’ families who have paid the ultimate price for this false thrift. It should stop now.
While you’re busy clearing snow again this morning, Clearwater, Florida will be buzzing with activity over a week from now. It’s the succinct if not annual reminder that there really will be an end to all this snow and ice.
Spring is also approaching in a new chapter in Philadelphia’s Winter of Discontent; a process that began last year as the school district financing, AVI and 2014′s tax structure was decided all at once. This year the school district faces the same budget miasma which is influenced by two main forces: the lack of support funding from Harrisburg, and the swelling of charter schools which divert funding away from SDP-administered public schools.
Another thorn in the City’s side is the ever growing pension and benefits costs the City pays out [DN]. Nutter has not been able to successfully curtail the out of control growth of pension expense nor the benefits which eat into the city budget. This has direct consequences on all who live here as budgets for other services the City provides are cut to pay all the promises. The two AFSCME locals which represent City employees have been forever locked horns with the Nutter administration–who can forget last year when Nutter was screamed out of City Council?
When the snow clears, expect to see more fat people with Mayor Bozo signs rallying around the City.
In the DN this morning, a quick analysis of property tax records reveal a significant amount of properties in Philadelphia that are defined by default as being ineligible for the Homestead Exemption in fact are, exempted because the Office of Property Assessment had failed to screen the applications (and those exemptions by the way were factored into your tax bill for 2014):
That apparently didn’t stop Martin M. Miller, or someone operating his property, from applying for the tax break for a vacant lot he owns on Reno Street, near 50th, according to city records.
Because the property is worth only $3,100, the Homestead Exemption brought Miller’s tax bill this year down to $0.
That’s good news for Miller because he already owes $6,489.61 in delinquent taxes for that lot.
Maybe it was some sort of mix-up then?
WATCH NOW: Ranting Anti-Gentrification Group ‘Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze’ Delivers the ‘THANK YOU GOD’ Speech
The ‘THANK YOU GOD’ Speech
Nothing is better than watching Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze turn up for zoning and land use bills. Needless to say, CCPB quickly turned up after Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell’s office circulated this letter hoping to tip the scales and torpedo Councilman Henon‘s RCO bill which sets aside many of the edits to Registered Community Organizations Blackwell had previously amended into the zoning code.
The bill passed 14-3, with Blackwell, Councilman Goode and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown voting no.
Without further delay, I’ll leave you to the YouTube council testomonies and your thoughts on how this factors into zoning, planning and the universe.
This morning in Things That Makes You Go Hmm, City Council passed this resolution appointing PHA tenant representative Asia Coney, who was involved in a welfare benefits fraud case.Ms. Coney came to light when the Inquirer revealed she was collecting a healthy 6-figure salary while director of TSSI, a tenant representative organization for PHA housing residents.
This morning the Committee of the Whole of City Council passed out a resolution pushing her name forward as the tenant representative on the PHA board. Curiously enough, another Asia Cooney (possibly a spelling error), was put forward as a board member of the Malt and Brewed Beverage Board, which used to decide malt take out liquor permits before the permit type was erased in the new zoning code.
Council session starts at 10A this morning. Up for final reading and passage is the RCO bill Jannie Blackwell has been rallying the troops for in hopes to get a cacophany of people screaming against it. The bill to be passed today overrides most of her previous edits to the Zoning Code, including the 9-blockface notification requirement by zoning applicants.