Archive: July, 2013
Contrary to your recent editorial (No rush to drill near the Delaware), there has actually been no rush to drill in the Delaware. For over four years, the Delaware River Basin Commission has failed to finalize rules related to natural gas development within the basin. How long is reasonable to expect a government entity to do its job?
In the interim, protections for public health and the environment have only been strengthened under Gov. Corbett. Rather than criticize state environmental policies, the Inquirer should recognize them for what they are: national models of how to "do it right."
Under Corbett, inspections of well sites more than doubled, to 10,000, compared to former environmental chief John Hanger's last year in office. Corbett closed the loophole created by Mr. Hanger which let Marcellus Shale wastewater be discharged into streams and rivers. And he worked with the legislature in crafting a fair impact fee, which has generated over $400 million in just the last 9 months. All counties, including Philadelphia, are benefitting from these fees.
While accurately reporting that I would not discuss the plans for One Riverside in detail with The Inquirer, I was disappointed that architecture critic Inga Saffron failed to include the important reason why (“Changing Skyline: Challenge on the Schuylkill,” July 26). Dranoff Properties wholly agrees that “the specialness of the landscape cannot be overstated,” which is why we are going to great lengths to engage the local residents and strictly adhere to the public process that the city has established related to architectural review and construction.
To me, the first conversations about the details of this proposed building must be with the local community. While these conversations are well underway and there have been meetings with the Center City Residents Association, there are other community meetings planned in the near term. I feel it is important to answer neighbors’ questions first before providing details of a project that is “still at an early stage” to the press. Further, the Civic Design Review Committee has not yet had the opportunity to review and inquire about One Riverside. Out of respect for the process now in place and the individuals who sit on this panel, I declined to provide specifics related to architectural design.
The questions posed by Saffron are good ones and will be answered during the community review process. What I can assure our neighbors is that the good of Fitler Square and the Schuylkill River Park is my top priority. Dranoff Properties is a community partner in every neighborhood in which we build. One Riverside is an investment in the neighborhood – similar to the investment we made when we built Locust on the Park in 1999 or when I converted the Lippincott Penn warehouse into Locust Point in 1986. These buildings have added vibrancy to this neighborhood and we believe One Riverside will only further enhance that.
The citizens of this commonwealth have a right to know that the state parole system does work, and that protecting public safety is the parole board's highest priority (“Pa. parole practices endanger city,” July 1).
Working with offenders is complex. Long established criminal thinking behaviors are not changed overnight. For several years, the Board has been studying what works to change offender behavior because only through behavior changes will we reduce recidivism and victimization. We have implemented many proven reentry strategies without compromising public safety that states across the country are using guided by research from national organizations. We use actuarial instruments that have been validated on Pennsylvania's population. We have established secure centers for technical parole violators that address immediate problem behavior of a parolee.
Further, our district offices routinely work with other law enforcement agencies. These partnerships are invaluable to protecting the safety of the public. Most recently, the board began a joint project with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to target high risk offenders who have a history of violence, weapons possession and drug dealing. These offenders are notified that they will be closely monitored and if they choose to commit another crime, the investigation and prosecution will be assertive and swift. They are also introduced to community services that can help them change their life; if that is the path they choose.
While walking home recently on a quiet residential block in Center City, 10 young, African American boys on bikes rode past. I thought nothing of it until two minutes later, when I was on the ground, with a bike on top of me, and a little boy looking as terrified as me trying to steal my belongings, fists raised.
I am 31 years old and five months' pregnant with my first child. My husband and I are proud to raise our family in the diverse culture of the city, and have always stood against racial profiling. Over the past few months, our beliefs had been reinforced in light of the tragic situation involving George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. But as I am about to become a first-time mom, I am questioning so many of my beliefs.
I'm not angry at the mugger; not even really scared. I'm just sad - sad that I'm about to raise a baby among people who would hurt a pregnant woman. I'm sad that I don't know how to teach my child that stereotypes aren't real, when something like this happens. I'm sad that, in such a diverse city, the disparities of class and race are widening, not shrinking. And I'm most sad for the boy who knocked me over (and his friends who just stood there.) With so much anger, so much hate, and a propensity to commit violence against me (and my giant belly), what direction is his life heading?
Gov. Corbett has remained firm in his decision that Medicaid will not be expanded in Pennsylvania. Recently, he expanded on his reasoning and stated that the working poor (including pregnant women and breast cancer patients) should be "investing" in co-pays so that they understand that they can't keep "going and going and going" to the doctor and have their medical expenses covered.
What the governor fails to recognize is that because of the cost involved, many women have put off or sacrificed key prevention services like contraception, well-woman exams, and breast and cervical cancer screenings. This means costly emergency room visits and increases health care costs for everyone in the long-run.
Corbett would be better serving the citizens of Pennsylvania by moving forward with the expansion of Medicaid and ensuring that necessary, appropriate, and affordable health care is available to all citizens, regardless of gender, socio-economic status, or health history.
Soon after the June 5 building collapse at 22d and Market Streets, attorneys for the victims, the property owners, the city, and the District Attorney's Office visited the site, seeking to prevent further harm, preserve it, and determine whether a criminal investigation was needed. When the District Attorney's Office that day requested it, the city agreed not to release collapse-related documents ("Mayor still holding back on collapse information," July 21).
Subsequently, the city received 30 open-records requests (from media and non-media sources) for these documents. Keeping its promise to District Attorney Seth Williams, the city denied these requests, while seeking written confirmation from Williams. We maintained this stance until July 12, when I received a letter from First Assistant District Attorney Edward F. McCann Jr.
The city's release of documents last Friday and its refusal to allow city officials to be interviewed by City Council or by the media reflect a balancing of interests consistent with our practice not to interfere with formal public investigations where criminal guilt or civil liability is at stake. The city will also continue to invoke its legal right to protect documents that the court has concluded need not be released for public review.
The merger of Princeton with Princeton Township was a great success and should be a source of inspiration for all 565 municipalities in New Jersey.
Even though everyone agrees we have too many local government bodies, the Princeton merger was the state's first since 1997. There may be many good reasons to maintain a separate municipality, but it's often too much of a burden for taxpayers.
One efficient measure, which would be less drastic than forcing municipalities to merge, would be to make them share their services. By cooperating, local governments would save money while keeping their local identity.
Just a note of appreciation for a wonderful (and I hope award-winning) piece of journalism, the "Almost Justice" series by Mike Newall. The series was extraordinary and as depressing as the subject matter, I wish it had not concluded.
In an age where superior investigative reporting has become an economic liability to news aggregations, your series could well represent a 'last hooray'. Journalism is being replaced by social media, and hard copy by tweets.
I can only imagine the untold hours of digging that 'Almost Justice' must reflect. Without Newall's writing talent, however, those long hours wouldn't matter.