Dog Fighting In Pottstown: A Tragic Result Of Government Negligence…

EDITORIAL

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Our scuz-busting friend, the Golden Cockroach, has more horrific news about the results of the absentee extractive investors who have taken over large numbers of properties in Pottstown.  These folks buy up homes for “cents on the dollar” and rent them to anybody who will pay their rent in “cash”, **wink, wink. The properties are not maintained and the tenants are left to run wild and terrorize their neighbors.

The typical absentee extractive investor lives in a large suburban home, in a township where mostly upper middle class white folk congregate.  They take their wads of “rental cash” and do “fun stuff” like take vacations to tropical locations with municipal employees (who also make wads of cash thanks to the overburdened taxpayers in Pottstown).  While these folks are sunbathing, and having drinks with little umbrellas in them, back at the ranch all hell is breaking loose.  OR when they aren’t sunbathing and having funky beverages south of the border, they are at home in their virtually crime-free suburban communities reading about Pottstown’s ills in the Mercury.

Meanwhile, Pottstown is falling apart and these rental properties are crumbling off their foundations. HOWEVER, unless “I” live next to a problem rental property it’s not my problem.  These properties somehow pass inspection, they are somehow issued occupancy permits and everybody is happy.  Well, except for the people who live in Pottstown and are being terrorized by these tenants who aren’t properly vetted before being allowed to occupy said rental properties.  But again, unless it directly impacts me, it’s not my problem.  RIGHT?

Apparently, this is the attitude emanating from Pottstown Borough Hall.  This attitude comes across loud and clear when you read the latest post from the Golden Cockroach.  You should be utterly incensed by the complete disregard for the residents of Pottstown.  This stunning information confirms what we have always thought.   The fact that it was said out loud by a municipal employee makes us sick.

The result of this blatant contempt for Pottstown is crime.  Evidently, we can now add dog fighting to the list of heinous crimes being perpetrated in Pottstown and ignored by the very folks who are paid to look after the interests of the taxpayers.  Why?  Because many municipal employees do not live in Pottstown and these problems do not impact their quality of life.  Ergo, it’s not my problem.  They can read the Mercury on their iPad while they sip their morning latte from the safety of their suburb.  After reading about “life in Pottstown” they can head into the office for another fun-filled day of work “screw over the taxpayer” behind bullet-proof glass.  We think that’s a game like “pin the tail on the donkey” but we aren’t 100 percent sure.  Can you hear them cackling as they drive over the borough line with their big fat paychecks?

So we have people with virtually no interest in seeing Pottstown revitalize running the show.  These same people are allowing absentee extractive investors to make large profits at the expense of the fine folks who do live in Pottstown (and who pay very high taxes for these stellar municipal services brought to you by people who don’t give a shit crap).

Crime is running rampant and no matter now many miniature golf courses you build, you are still putting lipstick on a pig.  Don’t get us wrong, miniature golf is fun and we expect to try it out soon, however there are far more important issues that need to be addressed.  CRIME and JOBS should be the TOP priority of the municipal government.  The job market should be high and crime should be low!  It’s ass-backwards in Pottstown!  It’s time for the taxpayers to say “enough” and hold these co-perpetrators accountable for Pottstown’s ruination.

Please take a few minutes to read Golden Cockroach’s latest post.  Please watch the video about the animal abuse and dog fighting if you haven’t already seen it.  The video is included in the post for your convenience.

CLICK HERE:  http://goldencockroach.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/dog-fighting-in-pottstown-a-tragic-result-of-govt-negligence/

A Must See Video About A Rental Unit In Pottstown – Contains Adult Language

Long Beach Islanders Eager To Show Off Rebuilt Businesses

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County

Map of New Jersey highlighting Ocean County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The members of the iconic Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club were determined to open their new building before the start of summer, the second since Hurricane Sandy washed out their former home.

They got their certificate of occupancy Friday afternoon, just in time for a planned grand opening the next day, coinciding with an annual striper fishing tournament known as the LBI Cup.

On Sunday morning, the day after 500 people flooded the club’s new three-story headquarters, Vice Commodore Tim Irons walked around the bare rooms, proudly showing off the bathroom tiling and the views from the top floor.

“It’s completely paid off,” he said. “We just don’t have any furniture yet.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140526_Long_Beach_Islanders_eager_to_show_off_rebuilt_businesses.html#gb5PvxZu02CUrVaA.99

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Law Chases Carrick Landlord For Subpar Rentals

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in P...

Locator map with the Carrick neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  All I can say is enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.

For months, a putrid mixture of storm water and raw sewage has pooled outside the town homes on Berg Place in Carrick, a small street tucked behind a row of apartment buildings on Brownsville Road (Update: County officials order tenants to vacate premises).

The modest yards in front of the homes are marred by deep pits covered in flimsy plywood, an incomplete effort to fix problems associated with an unrelated water leak. And on one day this week, more raw sewage soaked one of the front lawns with a child’s wagon and toy car nearby.

The problems don’t end there. Tenants said that at times during the winter, they had virtually no running water, especially after the landlord shut off their main water supply and rigged a hose to siphon water from the nearby apartment buildings. When the above-ground hoses froze, the water stopped flowing, forcing tenants to haul in water in buckets and old milk cartons to even flush a toilet.

“It just dripped,” said Diane Berner, 51, who stayed with her friend who lives in the complex earlier this year. “It was a waste of time to even stand there and fill up a bottle.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/south/2014/04/25/Law-chases-landlord-for-subpar-rentals/stories/201404250094#ixzz2zugg21yC

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Pittsburgh Renting Rates Rising Quickly

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If it seems as though rental prices in Pittsburgh have been in a bull market over the past several years, that’s because they have.

While large metro areas like New York and San Francisco have grabbed headlines for their sky-high rental prices, Pittsburgh’s rental market is actually rising at a faster rate than New York’s, according to a study from personal finance website NerdWallet.

“We were looking at growth rates, rather than cities with the highest rents, and Pittsburgh is in a rapid economic growth period now,” said Divya Raghavan, a senior analyst for NerdWallet in San Francisco. “While New York and San Francisco are already well-established top cities in the U.S., Pittsburgh is considered an up and coming city.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/finance/2014/04/18/Pittsburgh-renting-rates-rising-quickly/stories/201404180004#ixzz2zGE35Ub1

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Bridgeport Addresses Issue Of ‘Amateur Landlords’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

BRIDGEPORT, PA — Over the past year, many residents and landlords have complained at borough council meetings about overcrowding of and conditions at rental properties.

In response to these complaints, borough council has provided funds in the 2014 budget for a program to help resolve the issue of amateur landlords.

At its Feb. 11 meeting, council discussed hiring a third-party inspector to handle rental properties in the borough.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140214/bridgeport-addresses-issue-of-amateur-landlords

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In Downtown Scranton Residential Boom, No Sign Of Slowing

Picture 062Four years ago, there was no residential life along the unit block of Franklin Avenue. By the end of this year, more than 55 apartments could be located along Franklin, between Lackawanna Avenue and Spruce Street.

“It’s about quality of living,” former Mayor Chris Doherty said earlier this month before he left office. “I said from the beginning, fail or success, we will go after downtown living.”

Scranton building contractor and redeveloper Art Russo bought into Mr. Doherty’s concept and his latest downtown project is one of his largest.

He is constructing 21 apartments on the three upper floors at the Bittenbender Building, a four-story, 48,000-square-foot structure at 126-132 Franklin. A sports bar, seafood restaurant and speakeasy-themed jazz club will occupy the 9,000-square-foot first floor.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/business/in-downtown-scranton-residential-boom-no-sign-of-slowing-1.1615299

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FOX29 Investigates Local Property Manager

FOX29 investigative reporter Jeff Cole interviews Katy Jackson, a Pottstown civic activist, while trying to get to the bottom of why Affinity Property Management Company, formerly located on High Street in downtown Pottstown, owes their clients thousands of dollars.  The office closed in May.

To watch this segment, click here: http://www.myfoxphilly.com/story/23939642/fox29-investigates-local-property-manager#.UoGxgbf9ra0.facebook

Wilkes-Barre Council OKs ‘One-Strike’ Rental Ordinance

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — One strike.  Two readings.  Three speakers.

Mayor Tom Leighton’s plan to crack down on problem rental properties in Wilkes-Barre passed a second and final reading during a special council session Thursday night attended by a handful of residents, of whom only three spoke about the “one-strike” amendment to the city’s rental ordinance.

The ordinance will allow officials to shut down a property for six months if landlords and tenants know of criminal activity on the premises and fail to alert authorities.  It will take effect Sept. 1.

“The intent is not to penalize landlords, but to increase dialogue,” said assistant city solicitor William E. Vinsko Jr., who drafted the legislation, which he called “another tool to curb drug activity and violence.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/article/20130823/NEWS/130829985

Landlords question Wilkes-Barre’s ‘One-Strike’ Rental Policy

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE — A proposed ordinance to “get tough” on crime by targeting problem rental properties passed the first reading by City Council on Tuesday night, and drew a mixed response from residents and landlords.

The amendment that sets a “one-strike” limit for landlords or tenants who know of gun and drug crimes committed on the property still needs a second reading at council’s Sept. 12 meeting before it can be enacted 10 days later.

But landlord Chris Puma of Ashley cautioned against proceeding with the amendment and suggested that instead of “punishing the landlord” the city hire more police and code enforcement officers.

He presented a scenario in which the six-month shutdown of a property as stated in the amendment cuts off the revenue for a landlord who has no knowledge of his tenant’s criminal activity.  From there, the landlord conceivably can’t pay the taxes, the property ends up at a sheriff’s sale and the city loses tax revenue.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/752677/Landlords-question-one-strike

Under The Gun: Increase In Crime In Norristown Can Be Traced To Economic Decline

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is Part One in a series examining crime in Norristown and possible answers to stem the tide.

NORRISTOWN — Renee Goldman remembers one of the sheer simplicities of Norristown’s golden age: leaving the door wide open on warm days.

She also remembers when crime — largely petty and non-violent, initially — slammed shut the door of her dad’s Main Street business and locked it for good.

“Eventually we went from keeping the door open when the weather was nice to keeping the door locked and opening it only when the customers came,” recalled Goldman, who began working at her father’s Custom Hearing Aids office in the 200 block of East Main Street as a teenager in the 1960s.

Back then she felt safe walking down to Woolworth’s on Main Street on whatever errand her dad, Henry Ginsberg, sent her on.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130601/NEWS01/130609968/under-the-gun-increase-in-crime-in-norristown-can-be-traced-to-economic-decline#full_story

State Legislators Respond To ACLU Lawsuit Against Norristown

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — Rep. Mike Vereb (R-150th Dist.) and Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151st Dist.), along with Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman urged Norristown officials to repeal or modify its controversial nuisance ordinance to protect victims of domestic abuse and discussed possible legislation to ensure that those victims would be protected statewide at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

The ordinance, which is currently being challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union, was adopted in 2008 and permitted the suspension or revocation of a rental license if the police are called to the property three times for disorderly behavior.

“For me, the most important part of today is speaking directly to the victims of domestic violence who are in the community,” said Ferman.  “I think it’s so important that they know that they can call the police.  They should call the police.  They should call for help.  We will not allow anything to stand in their way and we will be here to support them.”

“We’re here for victims, to let them know that we’re not going to allow any borough, municipal, or city ordinance get in the way of their access to help,” said Vereb.  “We should focus on the goal here.  The goal is to get the thugs off of the streets and out of the rental properties.”

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130430/NEWS01/130439974/state-legislators-respond-to-aclu-lawsuit-against-norristown#full_story

ACLU Sues Norristown Over Landlord Ordinance

Location of Norristown in Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Norristown ordinance that penalizes landlords for the alleged behavior of their tenants was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The Norristown ordinance penalized landlords and encouraged them to evict their tenants when the police are called to a property three times in four months for “disorderly behavior,” including responding to incidents of domestic violence.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Pennsylvania, and the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP against the municipality, former Municipal Administrator David Forrest, Interim Municipal Administrator Robert Glisson, former Police Chief Russell Bono, Interim Police Chief Willie Richet and Code Enforcement Manager Joseph Januzelli.

“We are planning to file a motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Norristown from enforcing the December 2012 ordinance while the case is pending,” said Sara Rose, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania.  “We hope we will have a hearing soon.  We hope this will be resolved quickly.”

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/article/20130424/NEWS01/130429765/aclu-sues-norristown-over-landlord-ordinance#full_story

For Shame, Lousy Landlords

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Thumbs UP!

That’s what they’re doing in Pittsburgh.

City council voted recently to reinstate a public-shaming program aimed at irresponsible landlords.

The new law requires the city’s Bureau of Building Inspection to identify the 10 most dilapidated structures and the Department of Public Works to put up signs with the owners’ names, addresses and phone numbers.

Under the “Operation Red” program, the signs will say, “Don’t Come Here.  Don’t Invest Here.”

The signs are intended to shame landlords, but some critics predict they will embarrass tenants more.  Other critics say the signs may hasten the demise of particular streets or neighborhoods.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/796288_For-shame–lousy-landlords.html#ixzz2Fz0gnkXC

Pottstown Borough Authority Adopts New Policy In Wake Of Water Theft Case

POTTSTOWN,PA — If a silver lining could be said to exist in the case of the landlord accused of stealing borough water at multiple properties, it could be said that it brought the problem to the attention of the authorities.

Or, in this case, the Pottstown Borough Authority.

In June, landlord Frank McLaughlin of East Coventry was arrested  by Pottstown police and charged with theft of services after devices designed to by-pass water meters were found inside multiple properties he owned.

That case is still working its way through the courts, but the borough authority’s board wasted no time in acting at its Nov. 27 meeting and adopting a policy designed to minimize the loss once such a by-pass device has been discovered.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121202/NEWS01/121209923/pottstown-borough-authority-adopts-new-policy-in-wake-of-water-theft-case#full_story

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!

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)

Editor’s note:  We can not stress enough the importance of Mr. Toroney and his fellow Councilors taking an hour out of their day to see this in person.  This is the tip of the iceberg and we think it is HIGH TIME that Pottstown Borough Council starts walking the talk and demonstrating in a tangible way that they have some inkling of interest in the citizens they respresent!  You all could use some street cred!

Thank you to Katy Jackson for continuing to stand vigilant and taking on a job that nobody else is willing to tackle!

POTTSTOWN — It’s supposed to be a warm Saturday afternoon, how about taking in a nice open house?

Well you might find it interesting, but it seems unlikely anyone would use the word “nice” to describe it.

From 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, activist Katy Jackson is inviting anyone interested — and the members of borough council specifically — to come and see the conditions in which a resident of Pottstown has been living at 501 King St.

“Monday I was invited to see the living conditions that a couple have endured for several months,” Jackson wrote in her invitation to council members, which was copied to The Mercury.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120629/NEWS01/120629312/activist-invites-pottstown-council-to-see-poor-living-conditions-in-permitted-rental

Pottstown’s MOSAIC Community Land Trust Highlights Successes, Goals

Editor’s note:  Here’s some nice press from the Fishwrap about Mosaic Community Land Trust.

POTTSTOWN, PA — The   Mosaic Community Land Trust    means many things to many people.

To most, it means the newly established community garden.To others, it means an art gallery and Open Mic Nights at the group’s 10 S. Hanover St. headquarters.

But if its plans pan out, the land trust may also soon mean “the people who sold us our house.”From the beginning, Executive

Director Sue Repko told borough council during a recent work session, the group has targeted the core neighborhood in Pottstown, which it defines as being bounded by Hanover Street to the west, Beech Street to the north, North Adams Street to the east and High Street to the south.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120614/NEWS01/120619673/pottstown-s-mosaic-community-land-trust-highlights-successes-goals&pager=full_story

Landlords Vent Over Reading’s Quality-Of-Life Program

Reading City Hall on the NRHP since April 13, ...

Reading City Hall on the NRHP since April 13, 1982. At 8th and Washington Streets, Reading, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer walked into the lion’s den Tuesday night, answering hardball questions hurled by local landlords in the Real Estate Investors Association.

They were angry at the $505 cost of a half-hour codes inspection for a rental property.

They were livid at what they called the Gestapo mentality of city inspectors, and warned that sooner or later some landlord will hurt them because of their attitudes.

But they vented mostly about the quality-of-life program, with its $25-and-more tickets, which began in early 2011.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=383644

A Petition To Control Blight In Pottstown

If you are interested in building a better Pottstown, please click on the link below and sign the petition to control blight!  The petition will go to the following people:

  • Governmental persons that can control blight in Pottstown, PA! (Pottstown Judges and Pottstown Codes Dept.)
  • PA State House (Rep. Tom Quigley)
  • PA State Senate (Senator John Rafferty)
  • Agency responsible for subsidized housing violations (Montgomery County Housing Authority)

http://www.change.org/petitions/governmental-persons-that-can-control-blight-in-pottstown-pa-prosecute-slumlords-within-the-pottstown-borough-using-pa-state-law-act-90?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=own_wall