Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown To Give Presentation To Borough Council And Codes, February 20th

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Citizens Action Committee will be giving a presentation to Pottstown Borough Council and the codes and infrastructure departments about a wonderful program that has been implemented in sections of Utah and has proven success in reducing crime and blight in communities, holding landlords accountable, and spurring community revitalization and positive growth.  The program is called The Good Landlord Program, some basic details of it are linked below.  Please make every effort to attend this meeting and show your support of bettering YOUR town! Ears are opening at council and we need to make out presence and interest known!

The presentation will be delivered THIS THURSDAY, February 20th at the Codes/Infrastructure meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Borough Hall.  Take an interest and be part of the solution!

http://www.communityprogress.net/filebin/pdf/toolkit/UtahHousingCoalition_WhatIsTheGoodLandlordProgram.pdf

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Pottstown PA Crisis Born Of Greed And Neglect

Please watch this informative video about housing conditions in Pottstown.  It is very educational and eye-opening.

 

The Montgomery County Housing authority will holds its monthly meeting in Pottstown on Thursday, June 13. It will be at 4:30 p.m. in Bright Hope, 467 West King St.

Call 610-275-5720, Ext. 315 on that day for info and possible cancellations. Public is invited.

Pottstown Fires Codes Worker Being Investigated For Taking Developer’s Check

Editor’s note:  I think this incident illustrates how broken Pottstown‘s municipal government really is.  Apparently, in the past, it was anything goes in borough hall.  While, BM Flanders isn’t on my hit parade (and I am sure the feeling is mutual) at least he is handling this situation rather than sweeping it under the carpet.  The carpet in borough hall is very lumpy…there has been a good deal of crap kicked under the rug in that building for years.  

Frankly, we think Codes should be outsourced.  It’s the poster child for a dysfunctional department.  Maybe after a period of time passes, the department could be reinstated and an entirely new staff hired.

POTTSTOWN — The firing of zoning work leader Michelle Fry from the codes office is just one of the developments in the borough department that has recently received so much scrutiny.

Of Fry, formerly known as Michelle Borzick, Borough Manager Mark Flanders would say only that “she is no longer employed by the borough,” and said he would neither confirm nor deny that her departure was connected to a police investigation of her alleged acceptance of a check from developer and convicted thief Frank McLaughlin of East Coventry.

Fry, however, confirmed to The Mercury Tuesday that she is using a standing borough process to appeal her termination. She declined to comment further.

McLaughlin was sentenced in Montgomery County Court last month to three years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by unlawful taking in connection with his use of devices to by-pass water meters so he would not have water bills at his property.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130410/NEWS01/130419918/pottstown-fires-codes-worker-being-investigated-for-taking-developer-s-check

Pottstown Homicide – When Is Enough Violent Crime Enough?

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read today’s Mercury, you undoubtedly noticed there was a fatal shooting at Brian’s Cafe on the corner of North Charlotte Street and Jefferson Avenue around 2:00 am this morning.  A 27-year-old male died at PMMC after being transported there from the crime scene.

It appears the leadership of Pottstown doesn’t care about crime.  They are more concerned about saving paper and buying 23 iPads instead of spending money on surveillance cameras, police overtime, more police, crime tracking software, cops walking a beat and/or any other assorted method(s) to combat crime.

Pottstown will never revitalize until it gets cleaned up.  Cleaning up Pottstown won’t happen until somebody takes crime seriously and (a).  allocates some resources to solve the problem or (b). asks for help from the state or (c).  all the above.   Keeping a “lid on the powder keg” isn’t a strategy, sorry!

Criminals are not afraid of the police.  Drug deals take place is broad daylight.  Vagrants wander the downtown chasing away potential customers who are trying to patronize one of the few businesses on High Street.  The laws already on the books are not enforced.   Yet borough council meetings have plain clothes police officers in the audience to keep the unruly taxpayers quiet. Maybe those police officers should be patrolling the streets instead of being used to intimidate the very people who pay their salaries.

The Codes Department is a shambles and has contributed to the problem by allowing absentee landlords to carve up homes into substandard rental units.  You have all been following this debacle in the Mercury, I’m sure.  Absentee landlords fail to conduct background checks and will rent to anybody willing to pay in cash.  Pottstown is overrun with social service agencies, Section 8 housing, vagrants, drugs and criminals.

Pottstown keeps promoting from within which is perpetuating the leadership vacuum.  How many borough employees live in Pottstown?  Do any police officers live in Pottstown?  Does Pottstown have any minority or female police officers?  Does Chief BM live in Pottstown?  Did Jason Bobst live in Pottstown?

Has anybody noticed all the for sale signs dotting the borough?  What about all the Sheriff’s sales? People just walk away from their homes.

Before Pottstown becomes the next Camden or Chester, somebody needs to do something.  As voters, you can do something by cleaning house this fall and getting new blood on Pottstown Borough Council and electing a new mayor.  If things don’t change soon, there will be no going back.  The day of reckoning is almost at hand.

We urge voters to check out the Reform Party candidates for Pottstown Borough Council and Ross Belovich for mayor as alternatives to the current bumper crop of ostriches on council and the illustrious Missy Mayor.  You can make a difference.

The taxpayers of Pottstown need to take control of their own destiny.  You’re footing the bill so you should be calling the shots.  Get people on council who will truly represent your interests instead of electing those who foster their own private agendas and could give a rip about your needs.

Power to the Pottstown People!

Big Changes In Pottstown Codes Office Recommended In Report

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — The long-awaited report on ways to improve Pottstown’s Codes Department was presented to council March 11 and Council President Stephen Toroney promised to implement as many of the changes as possible as quickly as possible, but several of the recommendations likely will cost more money.

Chris Fazio and Rick Miles from the firm of Remington Vernick and Beach presented their findings in a 60-page report that contained 37 separate recommendations for improvements to operations in the codes office.

“There are several areas where improvement is needed,” Fazio told council.

Rather than go through all 37 recommendations, Fazio and Mile reviewed what they called the “top 10.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130317/NEWS01/130319394/big-changes-in-pottstown-codes-office-recommended-in-report#full_story

Police Investigating Pottstown Codes Worker Regarding Landlord’s Check

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — An employee of the borough codes office was escorted out of borough hall by police last week and her removal is likely connected to an investigation of whether the employee received a check from a developer and landlord for personal use, The Mercury has confirmed.

Several sources confirmed that Michelle Fry, formerly Michelle Borzick, a “zoning work leader” in the codes office, was escorted from the borough hall code office on Feb. 13.

Contacted Tuesday and asked for comment, Borough Manager Mark Flanders said, “We don’t comment on personnel matters.”

In an e-mail, Fry wrote Tuesday that she also had “no comment.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130219/NEWS01/130219304/police-investigating-pottstown-codes-worker-regarding-landlord-s-check#full_story

Pottstown AFSCME Contract Extended A Year, Excludes Code Inspectors

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  I would get my resume updated and start looking for a new job…just sayin’….  As for the tardiness of the Codes Department review by Remington, Vernick and Beach, are we really surprised?  I hope not.  Another day in paradise.

POTTSTOWN — With a 5-0 vote Monday night, borough council approved a one-year extension of the contract with the union which represents borough hall, public works and parks and recreation workers.

However, it does not include the borough’s code enforcement officers.

With Councilman Joe Kirkland and Councilwoman Carole Kulp absent, the remaining council members supported the motion to extend the contract, which was recommended by Borough Manager Mark Flanders and Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr., the borough’s primary negotiators.

According to the information provided to council, the extension means no change in wages or health care contributions for either side.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130214/NEWS01/130219793/pottstown-afscme-contract-extended-a-year-excludes-code-inspectors#full_story

Pottstown Codes Deptartment Gets Reprimanded By State

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This made the Mercury’s 2012 Top Stories list…always good to keep the shenanigans in Pottstown on our minds!  Be vigilant!

POTTSTOWN, PA — The state agency which oversees code and inspection functions in Pennsylvania has issued a “formal warning” to the Pottstown Codes office for a number of violations, including allowing inspections to be conducted by personnel not certified to perform those inspections.

In a letter issued Oct. 2, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry informed the codes office manager, Maria E. Bleile, of the results of its complaint investigation.

The letter outlines eight complaints regarding inspections at both commercial and residential properties, ranging from Pottstown Memorial Hospital, to the Salvation Army to four residential properties.

Issues ranged from inspectors conducting “plan reviews” and inspections without the proper certification; to no records of reviews or certain inspections being conducted at all; to missing dates in inspection reports.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121224/NEWS01/121229767/pottstown-codes-dept-gets-reprimanded-by-state

Pottstown Council Poised To OK $33K Codes Office Review

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is LONG overdue!  I guess we’re spending $33,000 to appear impartial?  In any event this problem needs to be fixed so if this is what it takes…I suppose it’s a small price to pay.

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough council is set to vote Monday on a proposal to pay a consultant as much as $33,500 to undertake a review of the Codes Department and its operations.

The review comes in the wake of a Mercury report Sept. 23 that the same office is the target of an investigation by a Montgomery County grand jury.

No mention of the investigation was made during Wednesday’s council work session.

Interim Borough Manager Mark Flanders, who is also the borough’s police chief, told council the idea had been floated previously and “I’d like to see it get moving.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121004/NEWS01/121009680/pottstown-council-poised-to-ok-33k-codes-office-review&pager=full_story

What’s The New “Four-Letter” (6 Character) Word In Pottstown?

Editor’s note:  Some very interesting reading from our friends over at the Golden Cockroach in Pottstown!

Sharing certain characteristics with vampires, this member of the cimicidae family of insects is always an uninvited guest that moves into your home unannounced – takes up residence in your bed (your sanctuary)  -  and multiplies like crazy…

Jeopardy wait (thinking…)

BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

What is a Bed Bug Alex?    CORRECT …

the right answer will give you no points, no dollars and whole lot of  hassle.  Let’s talk about sshhhhhhhhhh  bed bugs.  The conversation will be most effective if it includes  Borough leaders, School leaders, County, State leaders each and every landlord / tenant / homeowner / business.

Read more: http://goldencockroach.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/whats-the-new-four-letter-6-character-word-in-pottstown/

An Editorial Follow Up – Activist Invites Pottstown Council To See Poor Living Conditions In Permitted Rental

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday, June 30th, the Mercury published a piece on Pottstown’s first Open Slum House Tour. Members of Pottstown Borough Council were invited to come and see first hand the horrific living conditions in a rental unit at 501 King Street.  The rental unit was issued a permit by Pottstown’s Codes Department. 

An open house was held on Saturday afternoon from 2:00pm to 3:30pm and hosted by Katy Jackson, a King Street resident and community activist.

What I am about to report is typical and totally disheartening.  Only one Borough Councilor showed up!  Fifth Ward Councilor Dan Weand!  Councilor Weand was accompanied by his wife Polly (a Pottstown School Board member).  John Armato, Pottstown School District Director of Community Relations also attended the open house.  Thank you Dan, Polly and John for taking time out of your Saturday to give a damn about Pottstown!

(The elephants in the room)

  1. Where in the hell was Pottstown Borough Council President, Steven Toroney or First Ward Councilor Mark Gibson, whose ward contains the offending property????????????????? 
  2. Pottstown’s Codes Department apparently deemed this property A-OK and issued a permit for the owner to rent the property.  Considering the horrific state of the property in question, does this not make you wonder exactly what metrics borough codes employees are using?  Would you want to live in a house of horrors like this?  Is this not a huge red flag that there might be a problem?  Is this not indicative of a broken process? 
  3. As an elected official, whose job it is to serve the taxpayers of Pottstown, taking an hour out of your Saturday to get first hand knowledge of a serious problem should be a top priority.  It would have been prudent to notify Mrs. Jackson that you had a prior commitment that precluded your attendance so as not to appear indifferent to the plight of the people who elected you into office!

Based on the pictures and description of the property, it sounds like it should be condemned and torn down, not given a rental permit!

Steve, if you aren’t up to the task of being Pottstown Borough Council President, we think you should step down.  We see no evidence of leadership, no vision and no way forward being presented.  Sitting in your North End home and ignoring everything south of Wilson Street isn’t much of a strategy. 

Pottstown is spiraling out of control.  Key employees are leaving, councilors are resigning, crime is high, poverty is high, slumlords and Section 8 housing are pulling Pottstown down while property and school taxes go up, up, up…  Is the goal here to become the next Pennsylvania community accepted into the Act 47 program for financially distressed municipalities?

There was just a home invasion in the 800 block of Queen Street.  There are too many shootings.  There are hookers and drug dealers lurking in the alleys of the core neighborhood.  There are tumbleweeds blowing down High Street.  Borough Council does not support the few struggling businesses downtown nor does Pottstown enforce laws for loitering and panhandling which deter shoppers, diners and theatre patrons.  There is a homeless problem you refuse to deal with and the list goes on and on.

Pottstown deserves a Borough Council who is willing and ABLE to lead the community down the road to prosperity.  Those who can’t should step aside and let those who can DO! 

Sticking one’s head in the sand and ignoring all the warning signs is not what you were elected into office to do.  People expect action.  People expect and want change for the better.  Status quo is not an option.  Neither is taxing people to the point of having to choose between paying taxes or buying food and medicine.  Look at all the for sale signs around town.  Look at the abandoned properties where homeowners have simply walked away.  All is not well!  Get a clue!

Either lead or get out-of-the-way!

Why Does Pottstown Need To Be Concerned About Its Housing Stock?

Housing stock is a pivotal issue that will make or break Pottstown’s revitalization efforts.  A key piece regarding housing stock is rental properties.  Specifically, the conversion of single-family homes into multi-unit “house apartments”.  Our fair city has an overabundance of “house apartments”.  I speak from experience having lived in several.

I was told a number of years ago that this phenomena started during the construction of the Limerick Nuclear Generating Station.  The story goes that with the influx of Bechtel workers and the need for housing, many people turned their homes into rental properties.  I can attest that some of these “house apartments” are configured oddly, again having lived in several.

If we are to restore balance (as a Libra, I am all about balance) in the housing stock and reduce the number of “house apartments” in Pottstown, Borough Council must take steps to ensure this practice a. stops and b. provide incentives for homeowners to move into Pottstown and restore “house apartments” back to their original intent as a single-family home. 

Without a middle class, Pottstown will not be able to reverse the situation we find ourselves in.  That would be broke and surrounded by prosperity.  This all goes hand-in-hand.  One way to stop border development is to make the borough more attractive to homeowners and investors.  Attracting taxpayers and investment dollars will solve our financial woes.

Norristown Borough recently made a bold stand to end the practice of “chopping up” perfectly good single-family homes into rental units.  Several organizations in Pottstown have been desperately trying to shed light on this subject.  Code Blue comes to mind with their attendance at Council meetings, their participation in blighted property reviews, their participation at the First Suburbs meetings (here and in Lancaster) and their posts on The Pulse!

I would encourage our elected leadership, along with the Mercury, to make stopping the conversion of single-family homes into multi-unit apartments a high priority along with the new rules for landlords that the borough is working on so diligently.  This combination is important to revitalization efforts.

If Norristown can do it, why can’t we?