From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

July 21, 2011 • Previous Issue


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In This Issue


Mt. Airy’s Yvonne Haskins Takes on Many Challenges

by Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter

For years, Yvonne Haskins has been involved in community activism throughout Mt. Airy and Germantown, but recent events revolving around the proposed Chelten Plaza development project has brought her to the vanguard once more.



Five Arrested for Running Alleged Meth Operation

by Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter

Five people were arrested on June 23 in West Mt. Airy for allegedly participating in a crystal methamphetamine operation. Warren Layre, James McIntyre, Cecelia Silverwood, Brian Timer and Thomas Basara were arrested at 529-35 W. Sedgwick Street for intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, which is a felony charge.


Discord at GCC Over Chelten Plaza

by Jim Foster

Publisher/Editor


The umbrella Germantown community organization, the Germantown Community Connection saw another meeting take a turn toward disharmony as issues surrounding the proposed, and now underway Chelten Plaza development positioned the general membership often at odds with reports from officers and members of a committee that has had discussions with the developer, Pat Burns of Pulaski Real Estate Partners.


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Mt. Airy’s Yvonne Haskins Takes on Many Challenges

by Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


For years, Yvonne Haskins has been involved in community activism throughout Mt. Airy and Germantown, but recent events revolving around the proposed Chelten Plaza development project has brought her to the vanguard once more.


Acting as an attorney for the seven Germantown groups interested in halting the project has almost overshadowed another responsibility that Haskins has also taken on. As of June 1, the 73 year old became acting executive director of West Mt. Air Neighbors (WMAN) following the resignation of former executive director Lizabeth Macoretta during the month of April.


Haskins’ outspoken demeanor has gained her the sort of notoriety which keeps her name in the press – for her community activism, her political opinions, and her guidance on legal issues.


“I’ve always been outspoken about representing what I feel is the best course of action, but some people take it very personally,” she said.


Although Haskins is quick to point out that she is working with WMAN on a temporary basis – the organization is referring to her as the interim executive director, stating intentions to find a permanent replacement by fall or winter at the latest – it hasn’t stopped her from jumping into the thick of things.


Haskins is no stranger to the task, either. In 1971 she signed on for the same position and manned the post for two years. At the time, she was one of the first people responsible for creating real lines of communication between WMAN and East Mt. Airy Neighbors (EMAN) when none really existed. Since last year she has been working on the group’s Zoning Committee.


Out of her earlier efforts to collaborate with EMAN, Mt. Airy Day was born, a tradition that has yet to die she said. Haskins also claims responsibility for getting the block captain program started in West Mt. Airy.


This time around, Haskins was wary of the position because of her responsibilities to her law practice and her family-owned development firm, Haskins Properties Management, LLC. But, she said her hesitation was unfounded.


“The director has a pretty free hand to keep things moving in the community,” she said. “It’s been challenging but I enjoy it.”


The executive director is responsible for “a lot of behind the scenes work,” Haskins said. Facilitating discussion within the community, settling disputes between members, addressing any issues raised by membership, and of course, paying the bills, are all part of Haskins’ job.


Haskins hopes that her previous achievements won’t overshadow her efforts while acting as director of WMAN. Although it is more than possible that Haskins will be replaced before she can see her goals come to fruition, she doesn’t see that as a reason to stop trying. With plans for replacing her less than sturdy, Haskins intends to make the best of her time as director.


Her first task: build the group’s membership, the foundation of the organization. “We lost membership last year,” Haskins said. “In addition to expanding and maintaining the quality of life services we provide, expanding our membership is extremely important.”

“We need to become more valuable to our members,” Haskins said.


There are several reasons for that, according to Haskins. A larger membership means a greater cash flow into WMAN, which means more opportunities for providing the services that the organization offers.


Furthermore, Haskins said, a larger membership allows for greater networking and communication throughout the community, which will benefit everyone.


Currently, WMAN is working through its annual membership drive, and Haskins has high hopes for the outcome.


Haskins also wants to focus on an issue that she feels most people ignore: the schools located in West Mt. Airy. According to Haskins, C.W. Henry Elementary and Henry H. Houston Elementary are good schools, but no one would know it. That’s because most of the older kids are bussed out to other neighborhoods, while kids from other neighborhoods are bussed in.


“The school’s supposed to reflect the neighborhood,” Haskins said. I don’t know where these kids are coming from, but they don’t feel allegiance to this neighborhood.”


Haskins believes that parents’ concerns about the safety and value of education in these schools is unfounded. “Real learning is going on in these schools and the kids are safe,” she said.


Haskins is currently working on a proposal for a publically-funded program that will help children identify and feel responsible for their communities, a notion that she think many children lack.


Haskins became involved in the Chelten Plaza feud as an attorney representing several groups, including her own development firm that feels developer Pat Burns has dealt with residents in an illegal and dishonest fashion.


The debate revolves around the site of a former Fresh Grocer at the corner of West Chelten and Pulaski Avenues, which abruptly shut its doors in February amongst many complaints about its management practices and the quality of its food. As a replacement for the grocery store, Burns plans to fill in the empty space with a Save-a-lot grocery store, and Dollar Tree and an Anna’s Linens. Burns also announced an intention to include a store associated with Weaver’s Way Co-op for the site, which many doubted and eventually was announced as false.


Members of Germantown Community Connection (GCC) initially took issue with the plan Burns put together, and voted to opposeit. However, after negotiating with Burns, the GCC threw its support behind the developer in a move that many Germantown residents, and Haskins, feel does not represent their best interests.


“They’re talking to GCC,” Haskins said. “They’re not talking to the community.” Haskins said that while the ideal of the GCC is admirable, purporting to represent all residents of Germantown amongst a fractured community, it fails to do so in that there are very few people involved in its decision making.


Haskins’ first step was to submit a petition to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment on behalf of her appellants, stating that the Department of Licenses and Inspections issued a permit to Burns in a manner inconsistent with zoning protocol. “The argument is against L and I issuing a permit,” Haskins said. The hearing is set for September 21 at 1515 Arch Street. “A dollar store is illegal.”


According to Haskins, a zoning ordinance explicitly prohibits dollar and variety stores from opening in that area. To avoid this law, Haskins said, Burns was issued a permit for a grocery store where the proposed Dollar Tree will be built. Burns and his attorney have maintained that this is legal, because of the fact that the Dollar Tree will sell some food items.


“I would like to see a shopping experience (in that area) that is quality,” Haskins said. “I think (the development) is poorly planned, illegal, and that a Save-a-Lot isn’t going to attract anyone.”


In regards to her “interim” status witht WMAN, Haskins is not all too concerned with how soon areplacement will be found. She plans to keep herself busy with her work in the community. “If [WMAN] doesn’t find the right person, they don’t need to feel pressed that I’ll jump ship,” she said. “I’m here for as long as they need me to be here.”


Five Arrested for Running Alleged Meth Operation

by Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


Five people were arrested on June 23 in West Mt. Airy for allegedly participating in a crystal methamphetamine operation. Warren Layre, James McIntyre, Cecelia Silverwood, Brian Timer and Thomas Basara were arrested at 529-35 W. Sedgwick Street for intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance, which is a felony charge.


Police seized $181,200 worth of crystal meth the next day, along with $4,000 in cash and three firearms.


On July 13, police returned to the location and found an additional $81,900 worth of the drug in  the garage of the building. Steroids and a large amount of fireworks were also seized.  Law enforcement officers recovered $355,244 in cash from Layre and nearly 20 firearms from his home in Conshohocken. The total amount collected in the case was more than $389,000.


As of now, a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15 for the suspects, according to Assistant District Attorney with the Dangerous Drug-Offender Unit, Lynne O’Brien.  Silverwood has been released on bail, but all other suspects await the hearing.


O’Brien will prosecute the case, and said that each offender is facing a minimum of five to 10 years in prison, the mandatory sentence for cases involving guns and drugs.


Police have stated that the operation was not an active meth laboratory. Instead, police said, it was a distribution center, and the suspects were typical mid-level drug trade employees.


Officials with the Narcotics Field Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department said last week that more individuals could be arrested in connection with initial drug bust.


While many residents of the block were surprised to find out that a drug operation was going on there at all, long-time Mt. Airy resident and community activist Yvonne Haskins, executive director of West Mt. Airy Neighbors, was not.


“That property has just been sitting there and blighting that area for years,” she said of the property where the drugs were seized.


Discord at GCC Over Chelten Plaza

by Jim Foster

Publisher/Editor


The umbrella Germantown community organization, the Germantown Community Connection saw another meeting take a turn toward disharmony as issues surrounding the proposed, and now underway Chelten Plaza development positioned the general membership often at odds with reports from officers and members of a committee that has had discussions with the developer, Pat Burns of Pulaski Real Estate Partners.


This is not the first scheduled meeting where this one issue consumed the entire meeting as the GCC became the conduit for the majority of the Germantown community to voice its displeasure at how Mr. Burns development enterprise pulled what many call a “bait and switch” on a promise made and taxpayer money paid for a quality food market at that location in 2006.


While membership of the GCC has multiplied in the few months since the Chelten and Pulaski project surfaced, most thought that the GCC would continue to follow the path it had outlined at the founding and demonstrated so aptly in how it built its image around taking remedial action with the city demanding it demonstrate how all future development projects in Germantown would guarantee planning and participation with the community - - the exact opposite of what the past years with Germantown Settlement reflected.  That stage was set when GCC prioritized its goals to the mayor and he set up a relationship with the Redevelopment Authority and the GCC, and in recent months the GCC was recognized by a federal judge and given standing in Settlement’s bankruptcy proceedings where real estate assets are hoped to be put to better use.


Frustration and outright anger are the words to describe how members felt when what seem to be negotiated conclusions with Burns’ entities come forward. Most expected reports of how the agreed upon opposition to the Burns’ projects was being carried to them by committees empowered by a majority rejection of the project as structured at the GCC level.  Challenges over process, procedure and by-laws trumped agreement at the last meeting on Thursday July 13.


 Documents delivered from Burns addressed to the GCC membership that seem to imply some foregone conclusions on agreements prompted vocal outcry as members read statements from Burns like:

“The site was previously home to a downtrodden super market- - “ when the described downtrodden super market was run by Burns himself for 5 years, never upgraded as promised, but the government money helped buy him the adjacent land.

A GCC Status Report referred to a signed “Community Benefits Agreement” with Burns which no one had ever heard of.


Statements were put on the record in opposition to many of these approaches and suggestions came from all directions as to how these differences of priorities could be remedied.  President Betty Turner did remark that the elected leadership who funded and structured this deal with the Burns’ organizations was conspicuously absent from all meetings - - except for State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, who went on the record in opposition to continuing the state funding indicating that Burns fell short on may contractual requirements, not the least of which was community participation.  A sign recently posted at the site claims Governor-authorized funding, which some feel is not justified.


A zoning appeal to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment that was filed by member and attorney Yvonne Haskins representing 6 community groups was reported in our last issue, and was brought before the GCC requesting a vote on formal support. After heated discussion it was moved and voted that the matter would be voted on at the next meeting as advance notice is required for votes in the by-laws.


Mt. Airy Art Garage Construction Begins For Phase 1


Mt. Airy Art Garage has begun the buildout for its facility. With enough money raised for Phase 1, the group has been watching it dreams become more of a reality every day.


"Who would have thought we'd be so delighted to see plumbing spring up through the floor while electric cables and outlets snake through concrete and climb the walls?," MAAG representatives said. "Who would have expected neighbors stopping by to wish us well? Who would believe our vision to create an organic garden in the back and a ‘living wall’ in the front?"


Included in the design is art on the outside walls as well as on the inside. MAAG successfully raised the initial $40,000 from donations.


Next on the agenda, aside from closing up the floors and creating the emergency exit out back, is raising money for Phase 2. That means walls and bathrooms.


MAAG needs community support now more than ever before. Consider making a donation to MAAG so they can open the artists’ studios. MAAG is located at 11 West Mt. Airy Avenue. The number is 215-242-5074; oßßn the web at mtairyartgarage.org


Rober Fluhr, Long-Time ALAC Teacher/Member, Passes Away

Robert Fluhr, long time board member, volunteer, and teacher for our Vision Thru Art program at Allens Lane Art Center, passed away on Monday, June 20.


Robert Fluhr had dedicated his life to education in the arts. He was an art teacher in the public schools of Philadelphia for thirty years. For twenty-five years, he was also the head of the art department of the Lighthouse Art and Music Camp. He was also the art director for Eagle Springs, a recreational camp for mentally retarded adults in Pine Grove, PA.


He had served for decades on the board of directors of the Allens Lane Art Center. Since the 1970s, he had also served as the director of the Allens Lane Gallery.


Vision Thru Art, a sculpture class for blind and visually impaired artists, has called Allens Lane Art Center home for over 20 years. Robert taught them sculpture and arranged exhibitions of their work. The students in the program come from a diverse range of socio-economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. In his capacity as a member of the National Exhibit for the Blind Artists, Robert “took his West Mt. Airy story and the community values across our region and our nation.”


Allens Lane Art Center is planning a ceremony this fall that will name the studio in his honor in which he and his wife Annette worked in for almost 30 years. As per the Fluhr's wishes, donations in Bob's name can be made to Allens Lane Art Center. Please sign up for our email newsletter for an invitation to this event.


There will be a memorial service on Sunday, August 14, at the Germantown Jewish Center, 400 West Ellet Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119. Please RSVP at sfluhresq@gmail.com if you wish to attend this service.


Merchants Fund Grant Deadline in September


The next grant deadline for The Merchants Fund is Thursday, September 15, 2011 (postmarked).


Requirement: You must email or call to have a preliminary discussion about your project and application. TMF staff can help you focus your request on projects which are more likely to be funded.  The grant process is competitive and there is no guarantee of funding. 


TMF has three core grant making areas for businesses that have been legally established for at least three years in Philadelphia:

• Business Stabilization grants up to $10,000 to help small businesses remain stable, viable and grow in the face of economic challenges and opportunities.

Web link:  http://www.merchantsfund.org/grant-areas-business-stabilization.html.

• Business Loan matches up to $20,000 to match at least dollar for dollar accredited government programs and bank loans.  Loan matches are last dollar which means you will have to spend your loan money before the match is available.

Web link:  http://www.merchantsfund.org/grant-areas-business-loan.html.

• Emergency grants between $1,000 and $20,000 to offset unavoidable harm caused by nature or man and not covered by insurance.  TMF staff must determine if your case fits the criteria for an emergency grant.  The downturn in the economic climate is not considered a valid reason for an emergency application. The application is no longer on the web site and can only be obtained from TMF by request.  


Contact TMF directly at info@merchantsfund.org   or call 215-399-1339.


Talking Philly Baseball

Learning About...

by Bill McFarland


Watching behavioral patterns is an interesting way to learn about people.


Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has grown on me in the last few years. I was not particularly impressed with the skipper in his first couple of seasons at the helm, but you can count me in among those who now say that he is one of the top managers in baseball.


One thing that has stuck in my craw this year, however, was his pattern of using relievers David Herndon and Danys Baez. Whenever he did so, I thought that the manager had thrown in the towel and conceded defeat. The weekend series in New York has finally made me understand his thinking.


After an uncharacteristic outing by left-hander Cole Hamels, who was hammered for seven runs in 4.1 innings on Saturday, Manuel turned the game over to the mop-up guys. Hamels left in the fifth with the Phils trailing 6-0 and with Nick Evans, who had tripled, standing on third base. Ruben Tejeda singled on Herndon’s first pitch to drive in Evans to make it 7-0 Mets.


Baez then gave up four more runs in the eighth, including a mammoth three-run homer by Scott Hairston that sailed into the second deck at Citi Field, a stadium that is supposed to be difficult for power hitters. With Kyle Kendrick, who was not fully stretched out, slated to start on Sunday, Manuel needed to preserve his bullpen.


Turned out to be a good move. Kendrick gave up just one run and six hits in seven frames on Sunday. He left with an 8-1 lead, but the struggling bullpen gave up four more runs in two innings in Sunday’s 8-5 victory in New York. This time Juan Perez and Ryan Madson, who just returned from a hand injury, gave up three runs in the eighth, and Antonio Bastardo, who was called on for a four-out save, gave up another in the ninth.


Baez is on the team because he is still under contract — he signed for two years in 2010 — but Manuel rarely uses him in tight situations. During the Phillies’ 5-4, 19-inning victory over the Cincinnati Reds on May 25, Charlie didn’t call on Baez until the 14th inning, and it was only because there were no other relievers left. The right-hander turned in five scoreless innings, but that was his only good outing this season. He won’t be back next year, and he won’t be on the playoff roster should the team make it that far.


Brad Lidge is still with the squad for the same reason. He’s in the last year of a three-year extension reached during 2008, his only good season in red pinstripes. Whether he’s on the playoff roster will depend on what he does when he returns during the second half.


Madson should return to form after a few more outings, and Jose Contreras can help as both a set-up man or as a closer whenever he is cleared to play.

The bottom line, however, remains the same. This team can use another veteran reliever. Barring anything catastrophic, the starting staff should carry the Phillies into the playoffs, but the team won’t get very far beyond that point unless there are healthy arms and some stability in the bullpen.


That’s my opinion. What do you think?


Bill McFarland has covered the Phillies since 1991. Contact him at 215-354-3037 or email mcfarlandwilliam@hotmail.com.


Fiscal Oversight Board Must Reject City Financial Plan


"What does PICA stand for?" starts a budget-watcher joke. "Nothing," is the punch-line answer. PICA, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority – Philadelphia’s state-created fiscal oversight panel – should stand for honest budgeting so it should reject the City's Five-Year Financial Plan and force the Mayor and City Council to create a truly balanced plan to raise and spend public money.


Ever since Philadelphia flirted with bankruptcy in the early 1990s, the City has been obligated to produce, not just an annual budget, but a Five-Year Financial Plan to demonstrate that we won't be in the red and looking for another state bailout in the near future. The PICA Board, which comprises five individuals appointed by the Governor and state legislative leaders, must review the city's plans under threat that disapproval will create some severe negative financial consequences for Philadelphia.


Here are the basic rules of the game. The City must produce a Plan that projects revenues and expenditures for the next five years demonstrating that it will operate under balanced budgets with no projected deficits. While the City can pretty much aspire to spend what it wants, the PICA Board must judge revenue projections based on “current or proposed tax rates, historical collection patterns and generally recognized econometric models.” 

That's all pretty straightforward.  But the math in the city's plan doesn't add up.


By law, last year’s “temporary” 10-percent Real Estate Tax increase will expire after the current fiscal year and the tax rates will revert to pre-2011 levels. But, in the Five-Year Plan, the City does not budget a corresponding decrease (of about $80 million) in projected annual Real Estate Tax revenues.


Similarly, this year’s “temporary” four-percent Real Estate Tax increase will expire after the current fiscal year and the tax rates will revert to the pre-2011 levels. But, under the law that allowed for the state takeover of Philadelphia’s schools and the creation of the School Reform Commission, the City is compelled to maintain its financial contributions to the School District into the future. So when the tax rates go back down, the City is still responsible for giving the District an additional $30 million each year. This amount is not reflected anywhere in the Plan.


Finally, the City’s Five-Year Plan includes a line item for "Anticipated Workforce Savings" of $12 million per year that the Mayor hopes he will be able to save through negotiations with the City’s municipal unions. It is much more likely that when the Mayor gets around to negotiating contracts with municipal unions, those contracts will be a net cost to the city and not a savings. So while we should all dare to dream, we must budget our spending plans realistically.


The City’s Five-Year Plan as submitted to PICA shows balanced budgets and small end-of-year fund balances each year. But, if we throw out the shady math, the City dips into the negative a year from now and is drowning in red ink by more than $500 million after years of deficits at the Plan's end. By law, Philadelphia can't run on credit, so a no-funny-math reading of the numbers would mean we're belly-up financially.


The Mayor believes he will get Council to use the follow through on the Actual Value Initiative (the project to accurately reset real estate values for tax purposes) to set new tax rates to make those "temporary" tax increases permanent.  He believes he will bend municipal unions to his will. But, the law that governs consideration of PICA's review of the Plan is clear that revenues should be judged based on actual current law, not wishful thinking.  When exactly was the last time that City Council or municipal unions did what Mayor Nutter wanted?   And, to generate workforce savings, shouldn’t the Mayor actually sit down and negotiate with union officials?


It is clear from the funny math in the City's proposed Financial Plan that we are in for dramatic tax increases or spending cuts to keep this ponzi scheme going. But, PICA can reject the sham of a Plan and force the City's leaders to come clean and produce legitimate numbers and a real financial strategy to place the budget in long-term structural balance. (And it wouldn’t be bad if the City actually had long-term strategies to address the Philadelphia's pension crisis, reduce crime, improve schools, etc.).


Why does this matter? One of the reasons Philadelphia nearly went bankrupt was that our leaders passed budgets that were frauds; balanced on paper, but based on unrealistic assumptions and faulty math. We endured a fiscal crisis and the severe human consequences that went with it because our leaders played games with our budgets, hoping some future miracle would make ends meet.


PICA was created to stop such shenanigans, make our leaders make the tough choices they would rather avoid, and force the city to plan to live within its means. The PICA Board should stand up for budgetary integrity, reject the Five-Year Plan, and force the Mayor and Council to create a legitimate Plan with math that works.


Brett Mandell


Developers Largely Silent


In a recent issue of this newspaper we called on local developers to take a position on the Chelten and Pulaski development project as proposed.  Making the case that it was a “deal done in the dark” with absolutely no community input or prior announcement, and that most of the larger developers all own property either immediately adjacent to, or very close to this location.


In fact it is directly adjacent to a major rehab of a multi-story apartment complex, and across the street from properties owned by 3 different local developers.  The point being that this key location, properly utilized with improved public transit dialed in to the project, could easily result in a very active business center that would benefit all rather quickly, and attract new residents in large numbers. 

 

Our mayor and officials from city planning constantly refer to Transit Oriented Developments as the 21st Century concept they will implement anywhere they can. Here we have an already existing rail station at an intersection where three separate bus routes pass by and another 3 come within a block of this location. All six can easily loop through the complex with an off street loading station and make this a mini-version of 69th Street overnight. Doesn’t anyone see the commercial advantage of something this easy to do? 

 

Well, only one of those developers, Ken Weinstein replied to our plea for a unified and vocal effort on their part to join with the residents in protest of the short-sighted back door way this is being done. He admitted to poor developer/resident communication, but said he was just too busy to get involved. 

 

Connie Winters of Historic Germantown Properties and Yvonne Haskins of Haskins Development stand apart from the “Big Boys” and have been in opposition to this project from the outset. Utilizing her nearby building as an anchor location Ms. Winters has joined the protesters in the street and at the meetings since this project became an issue.  Attorney Haskins has filed an appeal with the Zoning Board of Adjustment to permits granted to the developer, Pulaski R.E. Development LLC.

 

Word on the street is that the political machine (Democratic City Committee) from the top down has spread the word to that developer class that keeps them fed with campaign contributions: “Leave Burns Alone.”


Jim Foster

Editor/Publisher


Addicted America


As we race toward a budget deadline, financial reports, statistics, debt data, all of the sudden budget proposals are coming out of the woodwork as the press and the politicians tell us that Armageddon is on the horizon if a signature on a piece of paper in the U.S. does not prevent world financial collapse.  If believed, all that has taken place since that near-secret meeting at Bretton Woods in July 1944, would be coming to an end.  That was the day near the end of World War II that world leaders, with the U.S. clearly in charge, set the standards for the world’s financial practices with the intent of creating order out of chaos.


Some significant statistics have caught my attention from the disclosures never discussed with seriousness until now and I merge them with my understanding of what this country became in those recovery and growth years following the war. The U.S. postwar economy is one of the world’s success stories. But like some of those success stories at the family and community level that were part and parcel of that consumer-driven, self-governing, self-supporting, free society, there were always situations where addictions trumped judgment creating suffering for many.


From time to time, as we moved through life in our communities, a story like this might surface, and often from what most considered an unlikely source:

A local individual with a responsible job, decent income, maybe more than decent with regular bonuses or overtime, raises his family, helps educate his children, maybe has a summer retreat, sailboat and some amount of discretionary income, all of sudden becomes the subject of an ugly story of addiction, massive debt to unlikely sources, and a litany of misrepresentations and falsehoods as his entire lifestyle collapses around him.


Novels have been written about the responsible successful individual who becomes attached to “the ponies”, high stakes card games and gambling, drugs, secretive expensive secondary lifestyle, and to prevent detection becomes indebted to outside sources so that maintenance of a front can continue while his productive and family supportive ability declines rapidly. Debt multiplies geometrically and personal behavior is compromised to the demands of the lender, with threats of “no more” driving the deception and fraud on all those around him.  Pretty soon, he can pay only the “juice” and without some serious truth telling and support from family and friends, with willingness to give up what is supported by the ongoing money/interest marathon, it is only a matter of time before all is lost for more than just one.


I believe the postwar U.S. economy has become a large scale model of what I have outlined and we are in effect an Addicted America.  All those secure jobs in ongoing industries that provided decent options and benefits to more individuals than ever existed in history is on the cusp of failure.  Statistics tell us we have not really created any new jobs in this country in over 10 years, only new residents taking jobs at lower pay than their predecessors while the government prints and borrows money to pay folks who are not working in ever increasing numbers for ever-expanding periods of time. The lies about what we are doing continue to the working faithful as their contributions are used for purposes that actually erode their own future security by sending more of this country’s largess elsewhere and multiplying the debt they will pay next year.  The cheap consumer goods served up actually cost much more than they appear as they are in essence subsidized by money to be borrowed from the same consumer next year  On the street this is known as “6 for 5” payable weekly.


So the economy is not what it appears to be, for most families income potential has dropped considerably in both real terms and purchasing power. The bonuses and overtime are gone and we have been encouraged by our leadership to double mortgage our homes and they not only helped us do it, they created the Government corporate loan sharks Fannie May and Freddie Mac to hold all the paper. (You do know that 90% of all home mortgages are held by the federal government, don’t you?)  Every time the Feds make a new mortgage deal with those in default they just increase the balloon at the end, putting you further in debt and longer under their thumb. Is that any different from the corner loan shark?


As a country we are that addicted individual who can’t admit failure, borrows more and more deluding himself that the more gambling we do in that big chess game known as world politics and power plays, that the bailout will come before the loan shark comes to collect. As Pogo said “we have me the enemy and he is us”


So what is the remedy if one is to take abrupt remedial action for the addicted and indebted?  At the family and local government level is goes like this:

1. Wife, or responsible person takes away the checkbook

2. Everyone in family sacrifices some of what they became accustomed to for greater long term good.

3. Government gets responsible and puts those who are predators out of business (oops that is the federal government itself)

The question this time is can our government emulate the family?


Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad for now.  You can vote the others out next year.


Jim Foster


Opinion:Who Is Responsible for the Children?

by Victoria A. Brownworth

Philadelphia

 

 Jaquinn Brewton was only three-years-old when he was taken off life-support last week after two weeks in a coma at Children’s Hospital.


 The last four months of his young life had been a grisly, living hell during which he was beaten, punched and burned repeatedly with a kitchen blowtorch over his entire body. He had a lacerated spleen and pancreas. His death was attributed to blunt force trauma.


 His godmother, Nadera Batson, 22, claimed the boy had fallen down the stairs, but police found her story–which changed several times–to be inconsistent with the child’s injuries.


 Jaquinn was abused mercilessly, but no one came to rescue him until the June day he was so badly injured he would never recover and Batson finally called 911. 


 On July 15, Batson and her live-in boyfriend, Marcus King, 23, were charged with murder and other related offenses in the child’s death.


 Police said the injuries Brewton sustained were “heinous.” The boy’s body was “layered with burns,” according to police. 


 There have been some grim child abuse deaths in Philadelphia in recent years. The same day that Batson and King were charged, another lurid child abuse murder was being avenged in another courtroom with three convictions.


 Danieal Kelly was brutally abused and starved to death in 2006. At 14, the disabled girl, who was wheelchair bound, could neither walk nor talk and suffered from cerebral palsy, was found–at a mere 42 pounds–covered in sores and maggots in her Parkside home. She died of dehydration and malnutrition.


 Kelly’s mother, Andrea, who has eight other children, is currently serving a 20 to 40 year sentence in her daughter’s killing. On July 15, as Batson and King were being charged forBrewton’s murder, Kelly’s father Daniel and two social services workers were convicted as accessories in Danieal’s death.


 The brutality with which both these children were treated is difficult for any compassionate person to comprehend. And yet these cases are not the only ones–they are merely the cases that have garnered media attention.


 Brewton’s mother, Ashley, currently lives in a homeless shelter with her five other children. She allegedly moved to the shelter in March after being reported to DHS for neglecting her children. That’s when she gave Jaquinn to Batson, a long-time friend. There is no indication why Brewton gave Jaquinn away, but not the other children.


 Once Batson had the child, no one from Jaquinn’s family ever saw him again. The child was abandoned to Batson and King, who police allege tortured him day after day until his brutal death.


 The death of Danieal Kelly in 2006 caused a major shake-up at Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services (DHS). But while the department received intense scrutiny and a subsequent leadership change, problems have continued to plague DHS and their sub-contractors.


 DHS is currently investigating the Brewton family to determine the safety and well-being of the other children. DHS refused to comment on the status of the investigation or whether Jaquinn or the rest of the family were under DHS supervision at the time of the boy’s death.


 What happened to Jaquinn? Why was he so horribly abused and how was it possible that in an apartment building no one reported the daily screams of a three-year-old who was being systematically tortured with a blowtorch?

 There are many questions raised by the Brewton murder, as there were by the Kelly killing.


 DHS is the easy scapegoat. The department has repeatedly allowed children to “fall through the cracks”–often to their deaths–due to mismanagement, lack of appropriate staff and lack of follow-through on abuse complaints.


 But does DHS bear all the responsibility? Certainly in the Kelly case DHS was complicit in the death of the disabled child. Home visits were scheduled but never happened. The child’s father left her with the mother who had been declared unstable. The sub-contractor failed to report the ongoing abuse to DHS or police.


 The Brewton case provides a far less clear-cut example of simple administrative dysfunction, however. Jaquinn Brewton may or may not have been “in the system.” But even if he was in the system, did DHS know where he was in the four months prior to his death? Was it even legal for his mother to discard her unwanted child, handing him over to someone who was not even a relative?


 Excuses were made by Danieal Kelly’s parents for the horrific treatment that led to her death. No doubt similar excuses will be made for Batson and King. Ashley Brewton’s homelessness will be cited as a reason for her giving her son away.


 The judicial concern will be for the remaining siblings who haven’t been given away or murdered and for the culpable adults who will be found to have “mitigating circumstances” for their barbaric behavior toward a toddler. We will likely be told not to judge either Ashley Brewton or Nadera Batson.


 But why not? Why can’t we hold people wholly and fully responsible for what they do to their children?


 Andrea Kelly had nine children. Ashley Brewton had six. Kelly slowly tortured her daughter to death. Brewton didn’t care enough about her son to visit him even once at Batson’s. Had she gone, she would have seen her son’s many wounds. And perhaps removed him from the torture chamber to which she had sentenced him.


 Somewhere there are fathers of all these children. Danieal Kelly’s father will likely spend five to seven years in jail for abandoning his daughter to her unstable mother–and death. If there is any justice, Ashley Brewton will receive a similar sentence, although at present no charges have been filed against her. Jaquinn’s father–who abandoned his child just as casually as did Brewton–should be charged as well.


 Children are not objects to be discarded at will. You can’t give birth to six or nine children and then decide you’re tired of one of them and so you will kill her or give him away.


 At what point do we rescind our political correctness and ask point blank: Why keep having children with men who refuse to be fathers? Why keep having children when you have no job, no income, no means or ability or even concern to support your children? Why keep having children when they mean so little to you that you can starve one right in front of you or give one away and never look back?


 Anyone who has ever cared for a child for more than a hour knows that children are work. Hard work. They are demanding and needy and require constant care. But children are also innocent and loving. So how could you take a blowtorch to one day after day after day? How could you walk past a child soaked in urine in a wheelchair, maggots crawling on her skin and do nothing?


 It’s easy to say that Andrea Kelly, Nadera Batson and Marcus King are monsters. Once you name them, you can isolate what they did as sociopathology. Case closed.


 Or is it? Are they the only monsters? What about women who keep giving birth to children they either cannot or refuse to care for? What about the men fathering these children, yet never providing for them?


 Whose responsibility are these children?


 When parents discard their children, they become our responsibility: Yours and mine. We cannot allow the screams to continue unreported. We cannot allow more children to die horrifying, brutal deaths and look the other way.


 But we also have another responsibility, which is never discussed, and this is to make demands of the men who strut around our neighborhoods talking about their baby mamas while doing nothing to support, care for or protect their children. We have a responsibility to intervene with mothers who either never had or have lost the ability to care for their children before one ends up abandoned or dead.


 What happened to Jaquinn Brewton was a grisly crime. Batson, King and possibly Brewton will go to prison. But what about all the other people who ignored the boy’s torture like the other members of Brewton’s, Batson’s and King’s families or the neighbors at the big apartment building at 47th and Chestnut? Anyone who heard the screaming and never called police is culpable. Anyone who knew that Ashley Brewton discarded her child and said nothing is culpable. Anyone who makes excuses for child abuse is culpable. 


Jaquinn Brewton, Danieal Kelly and all the other unnamed victims deserved so much more from their short lives filled with pain and terror. Justice demands that we make sure there are no more victims like them. 


Dogs and Hot Vehicles Don’t Mix


Editor:

Responsible pet “owners” take care to protect their four-legged family members during periods of excessive heat.  Dogs left unattended in hot vehicles are at great risk of irreversible damage to vital organs, not to mention death.  That quick errand may spell disaster.  Don’t let your dog become a statistic.   


A dog’s physiology is very different from ours.  They have defective cooling systems.  They cool down mostly by panting which is much less efficient than sweating.  Concerning the thermal welfare of dogs in particular, there isn’t a whole lot of room between the prognosis of doing fine and likely to die.  A dog is hyperthermic when his or her body temperature goes over 105 degrees.  Then, even if medical attention is given, the mortality rate is 50 percent.


Recently, a Maltese died when left in a van with the windows cracked.  The temperature inside the van reached 140 degrees. Cracked windows don’t allow enough heat to escape.  Studies have shown how hot it can get inside a vehicle in a very short time, even in the shade. 


You’d be shocked.  A Stanford University study shows that even on a comparatively cool day, a vehicle’s inside temperature can rise to a dangerous level. A dark-coated dog inside a dark-colored vehicle is even more at risk.  Last month a small dog was left inside a closed vehicle at Plymouth Meeting Mall.  Police were summoned.  Fortunately, the dog survived.    


Signs of heat stress include excessive thirst, heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, fever,  wide eyes, drooling, weakness, bright red tongue and gums, restlessness, lethargy, vomiting, lack of coordination, lack of appetite and collapse.  Anxiety and stress add to the risk.  If your dog is in trouble, call your veterinarian and then lower the dog’s body temperature by providing water to drink and applying a cold towel to the head, neck and chest.  You can also immerse your dog in lukewarm (not cold) water.    


At least 14 states and municipalities have enacted laws to address this problem.  Putting a dog at risk like this constitutes neglect and animal cruelty.  As always, prevention is the best medicine.


Veterinary surgeon and writer James Herriot once said, “I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs…[they] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.”   


Bridget W. Irons

Philadelphia


Phillies Are Great This Year


Editor,

This summer, 2011, the Phillies are having a great season. The Phillies have been in first place the first three months. It is possible that the Phils could stay in first throughout the entire season.


The Phils pitching has been consistent and superb. Roy Halladay is having another terrific season. Where would the Phils be without Halladay?


Thus far, 2011, the Phils have had the best record in Major League baseball. It is becuase of their pitching that the Phillies have been able to dominate the National League. Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels have been simply amazing throughout the season.Between Halladay, Lee, and Hamels, they have combined for 29 wins.


Also, through June the Phils have had the best earned run average in MLB.


It is the Phillies pitching that has kept this team together.


With this kind of pitching this team has a chance to win more than 100 games.


Manager Charlie Manuel, who could the best the Phillies have ever had, should make a return to the post-season once again.


Go Phillies!


Christopher Saxon

Mount Airy


Where Are These Posters?


Editor:

I was wondering if anyone knows whether or not the old Germantown and Mt. Airy posters are available for sale? You know, the ones that have each letter as a drawing relating to the neighborhoods?

If so, please send information to editor@germantownnewspapers.com. Thank you


Lila Bricklin


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