Sunday, August 2, 2015

POSTED: Sunday, July 28, 2013, 6:03 PM

“It's a comfort zone.”

That’s what Camden City Council President Frank Moran told me of the city’s relationship with Bowman & Co. LLP for my Sunday story on apparent pay-to-play violations.

The city has contracted with Bowman for at least 15 years and Moran believes it’s fine to continue that relationship. The firm knows the city’s books inside and out and the city is moving in the right direction, Moran says.

Claudia Vargas @ 6:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 2:53 PM

Starting Thursday, the Camden Area Health Education Center (AHEC) will be bringing fresh produce to Camden as part of its annual farmer’s market program.

Jersey Fresh produce, including tomatoes, corn, and blueberries, will be sold every Thursday outside of Virtua Health building on Mt. Ephraim and Atlantic Avenues and every Friday in downtown Camden at the corner of Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Camden’s AHEC is under the umbrella of the New Jersey Area Health Education Centers, a nonprofit that provides access to health and human services for underserved populations.

Claudia Vargas @ 2:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 10:10 AM

Forget the decaying water-tower space. Camden’s Sophisticated Sisters have a new home that matches their sophistication.

Starting this week, the dance and drill team will practice at the Walt Whitman Arts Center next to Rutgers-Camden. The center is opening its doors free of rent and fees to Sophisticated Sisters, who garnered national attention this year for the positive influence the group has on its members, ages 3 to 18.

Team members performed this year on Dancing With the Stars and Good Morning America, where they received a shout-out from Beyoncé.

Claudia Vargas @ 10:10 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 5:11 PM

A little over a month before the Camden High School and Woodrow Wilson High School football teams start competing with other schools in the region, alumni from both of those school will duke it out on the field.

The second annual alumni flag football team between former Camden High School and Woodrow Wilson High School students will be held Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Pink Elephant field at 8th and Carl Miller Boulevard.

The event is free and open to the public.

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 2:21 PM

As I reported in my story in today’s Inquirer, Camden has a balance of $49 million in grant money, some of which isn’t being used because city officials can’t tell if it is real money or a bookkeeping error.

The auditing firm, Bowman & Company LLP, which has been auditing the city’s books for at least 15 years, has almost always mentioned the city’s “aged receivable balances,” as an issue. Yet, the city has not been able to resolve the problem.

For the last two years, Bowman has given Camden an “unqualified” audit opinion, meaning no serious issues were found. But would a different auditing firm have the same finding?

Claudia Vargas @ 2:21 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, July 15, 2013, 3:19 PM

More than a year after Camden’s tax assessor abruptly resigned, the city has hired a replacement and some extra help.

Deputy tax assessor Melissa Mallory had been filling in as interim tax assessor since Frank Librizzi quit in April 2012. But Mallory retired in June, leaving both tax assessor and deputy vacancies.

The city hired Tyler Technologies Inc, a Texas company with offices in Pennsauken, as a temporary tax assessing service for the city. The firm, which handled the city’s tax reassessment in 2011, will be paid no more than $99,000 for its services.

Claudia Vargas @ 3:19 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, July 10, 2013, 7:08 PM

The lot across from across the street from Camden City Hall, which is used mainly for city employee parking, will be redeveloped by the Parking Authority of Camden City.

A resolution authorizing the Camden Redevelopment Agency, which owns most of the Block 175 land, to enter into a redevelopment and purchase agreement with the parking authority was approved at Tuesday’s redevelopment agency Board of Commissioners meeting.

The agency is selling the prime real estate, along with a few other properties near downtown, for $1.2 million, a reduced price since it is one public agency selling to another public body, said redevelopment executive director Saundra Ross Johnson.  The CRA parcels in Block 175 are valued at close to $4 million, according to property tax records.

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 4:23 PM
At LEAP Academy in Camden, NJ, a press conference to announce the three students from Camden who will be participating in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Ready to Lead NextGen program. Here, US Senator Robert Menendez shakes the hand of Michelle Panchana, who will be participating in the R2L program. ( APRIL SAUL / Staff )

Three Camden students were chosen to participate in a Latino youth leadership training program this summer in the nation’s capital.

Jonathan Ramirez and Peter Rivera Jr., both students at Camden’s LEAP Academy Charter School, and Michelle Melanie Panchana, a student at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School in Philadelphia, will be attending the 2013 Ready To Lead Next Generation, or R2L NextGen.

The program was created and is hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), a Hispanic nonprofit and nonpartisan leadership development organization. The CHCI invites 40 high school students from around the country, who are seen as future Latino leaders, to spend a week in Washington, DC.

Claudia Vargas @ 4:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

Allison Steele writes about Camden’s schools, government and businesses. Most importantly, she writes about the city’s residents. She is a former crime reporter who covered the Camden and Philadelphia police departments for the Inquirer. A Philly native, she has been with the Inquirer since 2008.

Send comments, tips and story ideas to, call 856-779-3876, or reach out on Twitter @AESteele.

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