Incorporating the The Germantown Chronicle & The Northwest Independent

6661 Germantown Ave • Philadelphia, PA 19119 • 215-438-5171 • germantownnewspapers.com

 
 

DON’T TAKE NEGLECT FOR AN ANSWER


Part 1: Follow Politics through the Pathway of Poverty


It’s no secret that my long held perspective on the Philadelphia city government and both political parties is that they have crafted between them a way to fill their own pockets and enable comfortable patronage for their friends and contributors while neglecting a full third of the city.


When you run the U.S. City with the most expensive government in the nation, one where the bloated and unnecessarily large City Council is paid better than New York and at the other end of the spectrum you have the largest percentage of poverty of any major city in your borders, one needs to ask some very hard questions as to how they have been able to pull this off for 25 years or more.


The answer is that with only one functioning political party and no real competition, control of the press and other media, manipulated regulators and oversight boards an ongoing practice at various levels, it’s really quite easy. Why don’t the citizens fight back and do something about it? Or more specifically, how are those at the lower economic level dealing with their circumstances?  The broad answer is that many of them live in fear of their government, not in favor of it.  That fear keeps them from saying too much and they know if they complain and put their name to it, things could get worse, and history says they do.


Those who do get vocal and don’t mind saying it publicly and are taking on elected officials or specific departments better be sure no family members are working for the city or a politically funded enterprise.  Funny how careers have ended in the most unexpected way and just short of the time when they might qualify for a pension.


Yes, we know past Mayor Michael Nutter introduced the 311 call center and created another level of bureaucracy between the citizen and the departments, but just assigning a “number” to a complaint is far from a solution.


In essence The Independent Voice believes that the primary tactic of our city and sometimes state government is Authoritarian Neglect.  In other words the answer to many citizens dilemmas and neighborhood problems is to just let them fester knowing few can do much about it and who cares if a few of them vote with their feet, because the majority can’t afford to do that and will just “live with it”.  Forget the current propaganda about this city gaining population back.  What the census might have picked up are a few folks that were previously under the radar and there is no confirming statistics that the gains have brought major contributors to the tax base, but likely more dependent folks at the poverty level.


At the top of the list of city departments that have failed the citizens in recent years is L & I, the Department of Licenses and Inspections.  The checkered history of this powerful agency of government should be turned into testimony for a Grand Jury.  In fact, testimony from city leadership during recent hearings after a demolition project resulted in the destruction of an adjacent building killing six should have been enough to make L & I itself the subject of a major criminal investigation.  Manipulations and reassignments to cover the tracks of L & I management in the last few years should have been the subject of a series of journalistic reports and investigations by the media, but the reports only touched the surface and never came close to consolidating the facts and amplifying the outrage.


You see L & I has been the agency of choice to help insiders get things done and the pathway to phony permits for developers, speculators and others as this city uses its neighborhoods, particularly those with pockets of poverty, as mechanisms to manipulate blight and falsify funding of remedial work as the most easily used tools of the politicians, land manipulators and poverty profiteers.  Add to that just plain failure to follow standing Codes and laws,  and forget enforcement of them as neglected properties may go years on end as illegal operations, neighborhood hazards and others permanent dumping grounds never attended to.


The Independent Voice is initiating its “YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE NEGLECT FOR AN ANSWER” program where you can take public, through our news media, evidence of these and other challenges and shortfalls facing your community.  Beginning now, please send us a photo of any property or location in your community where you can visibly see the neglect, unsafe or illegal condition or practices with at least a street address or intersection.  This can extend to any development you think may be in process without required zoning or permits, or properties that appear as fronts for something they are not. Naturally dilapidated abandoned unsafe properties, dumping grounds and public eyesores will top any list.  We will post those photos, with the address and the City Council District they are in with the contact number for that office on our web pages immediately and subsequently in our monthly publication.  Our experience in the recent past is that when we did take photos and publish them, almost instant corrective action often ended years of neglect.               


Our email address is:  editor@germantownnewspapers.com, and our phone number is 215-438-5171 for these reports.


The arrogance with which this city and its leadership have been neglecting the most important issues like poor job opportunity, poverty, pensions, school system challenges, financial shortfalls and in our opinion falsified budgets, while publicizing trivial pursuits in the form of tailored agendas that appeal to the wealthy neighborhoods, elitist special interest groups, is just plain outrageous.


As with any household, the city should be paying its fundamental obligations first and in a very transparent way.  Instead we have irresponsible oversight boards approving questionable accounting, major shortfalls for years kicked down the road with massive decreases in bond ratings and escalating borrowing costs looming on the horizon.  Facing these financial disasters and at the same time crumbling no-opportunity neighborhoods is the true picture of Two Philadelphias and sadly, much of it has been papered over by an unresponsive and delinquent media at all levels.  Powerful insiders and a cooperative press and media have created this falsified image in order to fool the nation as the Democratic National Convention was promised.


Follow THE PATHWAY OF POVERTY  from Lower Germantown, through Nicetown and North Philadelphia, and then to segments of West and then tragic Southwest Philadelphia where Neglect has been the standard practice for years except when some connected developer is getting public funds to build something often without competitive bidding and rammed through without public input.   

Send us photos of these and other neighborhoods where any and all of these are challenges to the quality of life and we will publish them anonymously, but with proper identification of the location and the Council District that has responsibility.


Jim Foster

Editor, The Independent Voice