You will be shocked to know that it has suddenly become quite easy to become a state representative in Harrisburg. You don’t need to do much campaigning (but you should try), and you certainly don’t need to worry about any political parties or what your own political registration is.
The ease in which you can become a politician and represent 60,000 people who live in Philly emerged just last week. This is a chance in a lifetime and you will likely never see a chance like this ever again. There is a Pennsylvania House representative seat up for grabs and it’s anybody’s game.
And believe me it’s simple as writing your name. You can get started faster than the time it takes to boil dehydrated noodles in the microwave.
Wanna get started? I’ll show you how.
1 person: You.
You must live inside this area. It’s called the 197th Legislative District. Click here to read why the seat is vacant right now–it’s a whole big drama thang.
You need to be at least 21 years old.
You had to have been a citizen of Pennsylvania (a state resident) for four years. It doesn’t matter when.
You must be a citizen of the United States.
You need to have lived inside the 197th District (see that map again) since Mar 21, 2016. The Democrats picked someone who didn’t meet this criteria and that’s why there’s all this chaos right now.
You need to have not been convicted of any crime.
You do NOT…
Need to be registered in any political party
Need to go get signatures, your name is not going to be on the ballot
Need to file campaign finance paperwork. That’s for people whose names are going to be printed on the ballot.
Need to find some way to train people who want to vote for you how to do a write in on the voting machine. It’s not simple.
Raise money. Printing costs for leaflets are high. Paying volunteers to help you costs even more. Setup a donation site.
Get the word out that you’re running. Besides Facebook the best way to get people to pay attention to you is by door knocking.
The easiest audience to attract are the people who already know you and live near you. There’s no need to remind them that you live nearby and you know what the major gripes are in your neighborhood.
Above all: The special election is on March 21, only three weeks away.
This is Freddie Ramirez. I wrote about him last week because he wants to become a State Representative for West Kensington and Fairhill in the 197th District in Harrisburg. He owes the state thousands of dollars in back income taxes.
The previous occupant of that state rep. seat, Leslie Acosta, was booted out because she was convicted and sentenced for her role in a money laundering scheme related to a health clinic in Juniata. Governor Wolf even begged her to resign her seat. She refused. She then lobbied Democratic ward leaders to hand-pick Ramirez as her replacement and won. The Democrats put Ramirez forward as their candidate for the 197th.
There is just one problem: there is a growing body of evidence that strongly suggests he doesn’t live here.
The Pennsylvania Constitution states in Article 2 Section 5 that state representatives must live in the district that they want to represent for one year before the date of election. The special election to replace Acosta is March 21, just weeks away.
The Invisible Neighbor
In Commonwealth Court today the Republican City Committee presented evidence that Freddie Ramirez is rarely if-ever seen at his home located at 430 West Annsbury Street.
This Google Street View photo taken in September 2014 long before his entry into politics shows weeds at Mr. Ramirez’s house growing out of control and crawling up the burglar bars on the first floor and a rose bush that has reached the hight of the first floor kitchen windows. The rear yard consists of a masonry wall with badly overgrown plants and broken fences. (Click here to tour the outside).
Two witnesses who live on the block came to testify. One witness said she had never seen Mr. Ramirez enter or leave the house since she moved in. Another witness who lives directly across the street from Ramirez testified that she neither saw Mr. Ramirez coming and going from the house and also has never seen trash put out for collection for that house as opposed to the other houses on the same block which are occupied.
Over 20 months of Mr. Ramirez’s electricity and water bills were entered into the record. Philadelinquency pulled Mr. Ramirez’s most recent water statement and this is what we came up with:
Mr. Ramirez’s water bill for January is $27.87 which is the lowest water bill you can possibly have for a residential row-home and not be on public assistance. That amount represents 0CCF water usage as the amount you owe solely consists of basic charges.
I’ll use my own water bill to explain:
This is the last bill I got from the Water Revenue Bureau. I normally only pay my water bill about 3 times a year because this is the only utility I have that still to this day does not support a BillPay service that everyone gets for free with their bank’s checking account. I refuse to give access to my checking account to a City agency, much less a City-owned company.
My stormwater charges are exactly the same as Mr. Ramirez’s: $14.12
A service charge of $13.75 is assessed on every water bill for every residential rowhome in Philadelphia. The technical term for it is “Meter Type R”. The Service Charge includes a water fee of $6.58 and a sewer fee of $7.17. $6.58 plus $7.17 equals $13.75. Simple enough.
You should be able to see where I’m going with this: the only way you can have a bill for $27.87 in a rowhome is if you showed 0CCF of water usage.
If you look carefully at the water account summary, Mr. Ramirez showed a payment of $30 in January against his account and a current balance of $25.74.
Mr. Ramirez has a $25.74 balance because he didn’t use enough water in December and got a bill for $27.87. He overpaid that bill with his $30 payment by $2.13 and when you subtract January’s water bill by $2.13 you arrive at his current water balance.
During court testimony Mr. Ramirez’s water bills were read aloud. He recorded 0CCF water usage on his water bill for several months in a row before he would finally tick the meter over.
I guess Fred Ramirez for State Representative doesn’t ever bathe and certainly doesn’t do his laundry at home. The only way that I know of achieving 0CCF water usage for 3 months in a row for several stretches over 24 months is to never bathe, rarely flush the toilet, don’t do laundry at home and to eat off paper plates all the time.
Perhaps instead of showering he uses baby wipes?
So if it’s possible that Fred Ramirez doesn’t live on Annsbury Street in Philadelphia, then where does he live?
A source that doesn’t want to be named provided me an address with where he claims Mr. Ramirez could be spending a lot of his time. That address points to the Delaview Apartments on Radcliffe Road. I decided to follow up on this and started looking.
Mr. Ramirez seems to be pretty involved with the Bristol community. For instance:
That photo I found from a newsletter mentioning the Bristol Rotary Club. The man in that photo looks an awful lot like a younger version of the Mr. Ramirez I saw in court today. In fact it’s from 2010.
Well… do I really need to show any more evidence here that Mr. Ramirez doesn’t live in Philly?
Despite All This, He Expects You To Vote For Him
I don’t think I have really ever seen anyone disqualified from a Philadelphia election because they don’t live in the district they’re running in, much less even inside the state. It’s easier to prove a first degree murder case on flimsy circumstantial evidence than it is to prove residency before a Pennsylvania judge, even if you paid a private investigator to tag that person for months to show that they don’t live in the city.
The most famous example of this adage is none other than T. Milton Street, Sr. the brother of the former Philadelphia mayor John Street. Milton Street has been challenged multiple times over his residency. In 2015 he defeated a ballot challenge before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court without the services of a lawyer representing him. In both instances he was accused of living in Moorestown, New Jersey. Many of his Facebook postings on his personal page are geo-tagged to Moorestown.
When asked by lawyers representing appellants: “where do you go to bed at night?” he famously replied “I sleep where I get tired.”
Seriously, Democrats: when faced with replacing a convicted criminal in a voting district that’s well-beyond 80% Democrat, this person is the best you could come up with? This is the safest State Representative district in the entire state. You could have picked anyone, and I mean ANYONE, to replace Ms. Acosta.
You couldn’t find someone who has neighborhood bona-fides who you’re certain actually lives here?
I know our District Attorney, Rufus Seth Williams, is going to be fucked with a Federal prosecution any minute now, but that’s no excuse to let an economic crime continue to run in this town when it’s been well-publicized for months.
So I am going to write about this, AGAIN.
This letter appeared in the mail of a brand new Germantown home-owner. I have received photos of the same letter from new homeowners in Kensington, Bella Vista and in West Philly.
The phone numbers on the letter do not start with (215) 686-, which is the prefix code of most City phone numbers, including the official recorder of deeds: the Philadelphia Records Department (that’s its actual title).
There IS no such thing as “Deeds and Registry Office”, the address that the letter points to in the Land Title Building only has one city office having anything to do with real estate directly, and that’s the Sheriff’s Office, and they have nothing to do with new homeowners.
This letter is a fraud and it is a scam and yet you have let this gone on for months, even after multiple people have brought it to your attention. You just don’t know how to deal with an economic crime like this because you are incompetent.
I really hope this is the last time I have to write about this stupid letter. No telling these scammers are bilking brand new Philly property owners out of their money. They have to be making money because the letters keep coming. And they will continue to go to homeowners until you fucking DO. SOMETHING. ABOUT. IT.
For the love of Christ and all that is Holy in his name… do your fucking job. You are a law enforcement agency. Enforce some fucking law for a change.
Holy crap you are the worst municipal law enforcement agency in this country. A complete disgrace to the profession.
A reader to PDQ has brought up a fairly sobering point about the controversy surrounding OPA’s attempt to update land values across the city. He writes…
[E]everyone who filed the first level appeal by the May deadline has still not received a response. Of course, the BRT deadline is the first Monday in October. Seems like the city is slow playing it in hopes that most will miss the October deadline. Think of all the homeowners who will receive a letter denying their appeal between now and October 1 who will have to scramble to file an appeal.
Right now, anyone appealing to the BRT will not have access to the vacant lot data, so by the time the hearing rolls around, they will be at a huge disadvantage.
Seems odd to me.
A dataset that Philadelinquency keeps which monitors changes OPA makes to accounts reveals that OPA has been making vacant land value changes in batches, but it certainly has yet to reach all the vacant parcels all across town–ergo not enough to the point where OPA could announce that they’ve completed the work, which it promised earlier this year would be completed and posted to property accounts by the end of June.
PDQ’s 2017 Land Value Assessment Map prepared earlier this year after the OPA had only re-assessed developed properties revealed how much the Office of Property Assessment factors building value into land values with vacant land being assessed at $1-$3 per square foot while newly developed rowhomes raise the land value in some areas of the city to $100 per square foot.
That thinking rewards blightlord investors who have no intention to develop a property to continue to sit on vacant property by allowing them to pay less taxes than their developed counterparts and shifting the real estate tax burden on to residents.
The most alarming aspect of this are the people who have challenged their appraisals this year. Does OPA not intend to send first-level appeals at all this year? That would be a first.
Luckily for you, if you are appealing your property assessment you do not need to wait for OPA to respond. The Bureau of Revision of Taxes must accept your petition challenging your property appraisal no matter what the status of OPA’s assessment is. If OPA does not respond that does not take away your right to appeal. Since the deadline to get your appeals filed this year in time to be heard this calendar session is fast approaching, just anticipate you won’t get any response at all back from the Office of Property Assessment and prepare for a BRT board appeal.
That also means you need to be speaking with a lawyer if you haven’t already done so.
In the spirit of this bureaucratic fiasco, if you are one of my many law-office fans who happen to regularly represent Philadelphians before the BRT and would like to pimp your law practice out on my site, I’m more than welcome to post up a listing. Send your deets to email@example.com I will run a feature on Philadelinquency before the BRT deadline for disparaged residents to contact for appeal board help.