Despite his fancy hat, the Philly Sheriff is not an actual law-enforcement agency
Despite his fancy hat, the Philly Sheriff is not an actual law-enforcement agency

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.

This report details a single bank foreclosure and the money spent on advertising costs on it.   Included is a long raft of publications with minuscule readerships.   The Sheriff's Office does not translate its advertising into foreign languages for foreign language newspapers.
This report details a single bank foreclosure and the money spent on advertising costs on it. Included is a long raft of publications with minuscule readerships. The Sheriff’s Office does not translate its advertising into foreign languages for foreign language newspapers.

 

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848 Wharton Street is owned by Maria Oliveri, cousin to Pat’s owner Frank Olivieri, Jr. [CityPaper]
In case you may have missed it, last week there were two building collapses in Philadelphia, one of them just steps away from Pat’s King of Steaks.

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.

MARIA OLIVIERI – FEDERAL IRS TAX LIEN

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.