October 27, 2014
ISSUE | N.J. REBATES Give us the break Gov. Christie continues to revise New Jerseyans' homestead rebates. I recently paid my property taxes and asked about the status of my rebate. The current rebate due in the second quarter of 2014 was for the year 2012. I was told that Christie has postponed this payment until mid-2015, a full three years after it is due. In 2011, he greatly reduced the amount due for the year 2009 - for me, by $1,000. The next year, he changed the system to be issued as a credit in the second quarter of the tax year, again two years behind the actual year.
October 8, 2014 |
A 1975 federal consent decree designed to remedy discrimination against blacks in the Philadelphia Fire Department has been dissolved. As a result of a ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Timothy Rice, Philadelphia is free of the court-ordered hiring requirements put in place to boost the percentage of African Americans serving in the city fire department. When the decree was issued 39 years ago, about 7 percent of the city's fire fighters were black. Today the figure is about 27.6 percent and an African American - Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer - leads the department's 2,100 uniformed employees.
October 1, 2014
SOMETHING WAS wrong with my computer, the caller told me. He said his systems had detected a virus. (My computer had been rather slow lately.) He said he was a computer technician with Microsoft. "How did you get my number?" I asked. "You registered on the site," he said. It was possible. Before he could help me, the man said he needed remote access to my computer. He immediately began to give me instructions on how to allow him to take over my machine. At that point, my skepticism kicked in. "You know, this sounds awfully like a scam," I said.
September 26, 2014 |
MAYOR NUTTER yesterday shifted oversight for the Department of Licenses and Inspections to the deputy mayor for public safety on the recommendation of a task force created to examine L&I in the aftermath of last year's Market Street building collapse. Nutter also created a new position of chief safety officer who will report to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison, and enforce L&I's safety standards and regulations for construction and demolition of city buildings. However, he did not act on a task-force recommendation that L&I be split, saying that he needed more time to consider the implications of the proposal.
September 21, 2014 |
A draft proposal to split Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections in two already has officials split on the idea - and whether the draft should be made public. L&I should stay under one roof, said City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., who led a previous review of the department - albeit in "different rooms," as he put it. "I think there's some sense to it," Councilman James Kenney said Friday of the proposed split. "There's different skill sets required for the public safety issue, and the revenue and giving of permits.
September 20, 2014 |
A draft report that a blue-ribbon panel has sent to Mayor Nutter calls for splitting Philadelphia's much-criticized Department of Licenses and Inspections in two, The Inquirer has learned. The panel is calling for creating two cabinet-level agencies - one responsible for enforcing building safety and construction regulations, the other to issue licenses and deal with nonconstruction matters, according to sources with direct knowledge of the report's contents. The draft report, roughly 50 pages in length, is the product of a 10-month review of L&I by the panel Nutter appointed in the aftermath of the fatal June 5, 2013, Center City building collapse.
August 20, 2014 |
SO THAT'S IT? The flames of the Gesner Street fire that killed four babies on July 5 burned so hot that the blaze destroyed any evidence of what started it. That can't be it . . . On Friday, fire officials declared the cause of the fire "undetermined. " On Sunday, the four children who died in the inferno were buried. Now it's time for the community to start demanding answers of itself as vigorously as it did of others in the days after the fire. Shortly after flames tore through a series of rowhouses on Gesner Street near 65th about 3 a.m., demonstrators took to the streets to demand answers from a Fire Department they were convinced hadn't responded fast enough to save the children.
August 17, 2014 |
THE FLAMES of the tragic Gesner Street fire were so hot, they destroyed any evidence indicating what sparked them, the Fire Department announced yesterday. The fire marshal declared the cause of the fire "undetermined" after investigating the blaze for over a month, Executive Fire Chief Peter Crespo said. The announcement came just hours before the wake for the inferno's four young victims - twins Maria and Marialla Bowah, 4, Patrick Sanyeah, also 4, and 1-month-old Taj Jacque - held last night at the Divine Mercy Parish, on Grovers Avenue near 72nd Street in Southwest Philadelphia.
July 28, 2014 |
GAIL SKINNER said it was about 6 a.m. yesterday when she first heard the screams. "I was ironing, and I heard my neighbor hollering 'Help, help!' " the South Philadelphia woman recalled. When Skinner, 67, and her daughter went outside to investigate, they were greeted by clouds of thick black smoke. "So much smoke and flames, and it was coming out the window," she said, referring to a home up the street now completely black, its charred contents strewn about the sidewalk.
July 16, 2014 |
WHERE WERE the parents? The July 5 fire on Gesner Street was barely out before the question was hurled at the parents of two of the children who perished in the fire. The question was asked mostly by readers, but then by Mayor Nutter's public-safety director, Michael Resnick, during a protest at City Hall led by Patrick Sanyeah, the father of one of the boys who died in the fire. "Where were you ?" Resnick asked. That was insensitive and dumb. Especially since the children were in the care of an adult, a 41-year-old mother who was injured trying to save the children, including her twins, who also died in the fire.