About Those Free Lunches….

Sparked by a discussion on Facebook today about free school lunches, paid for by the Feds, it was said that 66% of kids live below the poverty level in Pottstown.

So, everybody’s getting a free lunch except Pottstown resident property owners.  Were it not for endless, free, caviar lunches for rental income investors, we may not have an extreme need for free school lunches:

Montgomery County raises $2.1M selling tax-delinquent properties  <<clik to read article.  

This 9/20/14 Times Herald article by Dan Clark could almost make a taxpayer giddy with thoughts of 2.1M property tax collections in MontCo – a portion of which could seem like a generous contribution to the Pottstown School District &  Borough -

Right??  Not so fast – – what we don’t know, and the county isn’t telling, is the untold millions that are never collected in Pottstown …

Delinquent property owners are allowed to fall 2 years behind, according to the article.  If properties don’t sell at Sheriff auction and there’s a mortgage the banks buy ‘em back.  A lot of them are peddled for the banks by disreputable REO agencies that have an “in” with Fannie Mae and who have a medley of “get rich quick” investors lined up to be Pottstown’s next dead beat property owners. A lot of new investors will collect government subsidies for their dangerously neglected rental properties AND stop paying taxes too.

Properties are also pawned by the county, “free and clear” of tax and municipal liens, to even more slum investors who are not scrutinized by the county or maybe the county is part of that deal?

The county sold a couple properties, for $1 each, to a religious lady that distributes questionnaires to her prospective tenants, inquiring about their relationship with God, I have a copy and it’s so frickin’ uncool.  She sends “dripping in judgment” rejections via email <I have one of those too, it was forwarded to me by someone who tried to rent from her> WHAT IS THE COUNTY THINKING???  They must really hate Pottstown.

Now those tax defaults are not such a big thing to – very wealthy – Montgomery County, they have steady, pristine, upper middle class revenue in the majority of the county … but this 2 year policy is keeping N & Ptowns in the gutter – circling the same drain as Detroit, Wayne County MI.  Why should these very poor communities be asked to wait for 2 or 3 years for desperately needed funds then end up – possibly – with nothing at all or with more cheap trick investors?

EXHIBIT A, below is three properties that are owned by Tyler and Diana Bui, they are all tax delinquent.  There are no sheriff’s auction notices on the properties, yet.  Two of the houses are condemned and they will sit there – rotting – until they are 2 years behind in taxes or the bank sends them to auction, (or the water authority sends them).

I believe mortgage default is also a 2 year process.   When two years is up, the Bui’s tax debt will look like this:

$5,840.00 429 King St.

$5,082.00 431 King St.

$5,524.00  1057 South St.

$16,446.00  Total Property Taxes on three properties, for 2 years, that’s a lot of free lunches for the Bui’s even if the properties weren’t fully rented for the full 2 years…

By the time all is said and done, for two years, no property maintenance, no taxes, no mortgage – every penny of the rent money the Bui’s collected is “mainlined” directly into the pocket of Tyler and Diana.  It’s unethical, it’s sleazy, it SHOULD be criminal.  It’s not unlike the behavior of an addict – like junkies mainline heroin.

Question is, have they paid their municipal liens or the mortgages?  I could be wrong, but it’s a safe guess they have not.  So the figure $16,446.00 is at least double, a fix that’s fed their greed, giving them a substantially profitable high.  Why shouldn’t they be tempted to repeat this experience like any good junkie would?   When nobody’s minding the ranch…the wolves are fat and happy, pickin’ wool from between their teeth.

My block, my town will be left in despair while the properties await the next cheap investors to turn a trick.  Who else would want to buy the homes?    One of the homes was once owned and lived in by an interior designer – it is said that it was a beautiful residence/office space.  How far from grace have  leaders let this borough fall…

The Bui’s profited from their negligence and the illegal drug trade in Pottstown, as all income investors do when they rent to drug dealers.

Money is the drug of choice for Pottstowns slum investors, they skim the cream off the top, officials suck up what’s left and we pick up the tab. 

Poverty Pimps!!!!  Poor people!!!!  More and more of them everyday!!!!   We do not disparage the free lunch that Pottstown kids get at school M-F, by the way, but..

We are disgusted to see slum properties continue to change hands while officials show no concern for the mess the 2 year property tax waiting game has gotten us into.  The new funding for homeless and parolees has investors lining up at the trough with the expectation that they too will be asked to do little maintenance, get no inspections or even have to pay taxes.

Officials of the school district and borough can advocate for better laws at the county level, not only tax reform for the entire state, (which appears to be D.O.A. once again).

MontCo treasurer, Jason Salus states:

“We’ll start preparing them <properties> for the judicial free and clear sale. In between then, we have a new sale process in place called a private sale,” Salus said. “For those 11 months where we’re preparing those properties for the free and clear sale, anybody <in Pottstown that means slum investors> can come in, make a bid and we’ll pass it to the school district, the county and the borough or municipality to see if they have an interest in selling it for whatever the private sale is. There’s an option to try to get those properties back on the tax rolls during that one year window.”

“Getting properties back on the tax rolls” CANNOT be the only consideration when officials have the opportunity to scrutinize prospective buyers before a sale.  They don’t do it after the sale either when they hand out building permits, conditional use permits and rental licenses to deadbeats when the law allows them to be denied <PA Act 90 Blight and Reclamation> an oz. of prevention is better than a lb. of cure.

The Times Hearld points out, if a property doesn’t sell at Sheriff’s auction, it can sit for 3 years generating no taxes and deteriorating.   So why isn’t the borough/sd buying  back these homes and selling them to HOMEOWNERS for $1 as part of a neighborhood stabilization effort?  Put solid taxpayers in them –  smaaart!!  That’s what they’re doing in Gary, IN << clik to read article.

What can officials here learn from Wayne County, MI, if they wanted to??  Wayne County waited to do anything until Detroit became stuck at the bottom of the drain.  Understand NOW the dire predicament of Pottstown and how it comes full circle.

Good, taxpayer residents are outraged in Detroit – as you should be here.

Detroit — “The city’s property tax system is riddled with errors and waste, and is overseen by a pair of double-dipping officials who work just two days a week, a Detroit News investigation has found.” <<clik to read article

I believe a no holds barred investigation of Pottstown and Montgomery County would be the best thing that could happen for taxpayers in Pottstown.  This merry-go-round of property tax evasion has us circling the Detroit drain. 

“Extractive investor” is a term that was coined in Baltimore explained to me, a few years ago, by attorney Michael Sarbanes while he was visiting Pottstown:

“Extractive” is an investment style that requires no property maintenance, no background checks of tenants, illegal evictions AND non-payment of property taxes.  As it sounds, an investor extracts the useful life out of a property for financial gain and walks away to do it all over again.  In Pottstown, we’re on at least our third generation of extractive investors. In some neighborhoods there’s nothing left to extract but, that hasn’t stopped the vicious cycle.

Last summer I started documenting the filth and debauchery of tenants at 429 & 431 King St., owned by the Bui’s <pronounced “boys”>.  Many locals recall attending school with Tyler who was called “Hung Bui” before his name change, he may have owned properties under that name too?  I don’t know for certain.

Drug dealers were chopping up a van in the backyard of 431 last summer.

Drug dealers were chopping up a van in the backyard of 431 last summer.

This is how the renters lived.

This is how the renters lived.

I called Tyler – often – regarding the conditions of his property and his renters who were seen selling drugs, behind one of the houses, to school kids as they made their way home in the afternoon.

Tyler was evasive, unconcerned and had a big “FUCK YOU” attitude, kind of like the response from local authorities who were called to the problems as they were reported by neighbors.

HPIM1352

Summer, 2013

Today.

Today.

The drug dealers were nonplused, they were as assured as Tyler was that it would be a cold day in hell before the law caught up with them, they were all pretty darn comfy in Pottstown.

Funny thing is though, I posted some of these photo’s on Facebook, last summer, along with Tyler’s name and his church people came out of the woodwork to defend him, “he’s a nice guy” they said.  I said, “nice guys don’t screw taxpayers and kids.”

Today, both houses are condemned.  I learned that one set of tenants had no electric service, they were running a generator through the monster winter of 2013-14.

I don’t suppose Tyler and Diana had to worry about keeping their kids warm and I doubt they ever once considered the fate of their renters children or they would have paid taxes and maintained their properties.

-57 Irwin Pl is the county mailing address for the Bui's.

57 Irwin Pl is the county mailing address for the Bui’s, taxes are paid up.

Tyler and Diana also own this property along with Vu Phuco & Connie Bui:

201 Jordan Dr.  Gilbertsville.

201 Jordan Dr. Gilbertsville, no tax lien here either.

And, they own land with no tax lien.

I’m tired of taking it in the shorts while people like the Bui’s live the life O’Reilly and I clean up, put up <but never shut up> and pay for the bullshit they have brought to my block, my community.

I’d also like the county to tell me why my property taxes, despite having them lowered, are $3,105/year while their highest taxed, INCOME generating property is only $2,920.00.   Most of the investor properties near my home pay less than I do.   Income investors should NOT be allowed to lower their taxes – EVER.  As for the Homestead tax break for owner/occupants MontCo doesn’t list that information on their website but activists in Allentown have discovered it’s quite common for slum persons to give a rental property as their home address to qualify for the tax break.  Maybe that’s why deadbeat, Ed Mitchell, gives 239 Chestnut St. as his tax mailing address and also claims to live at 454 King St. and, of course, Blue Bell too.  Whataguy.

What can you learn from people like Tyler and Diana Bui??   If you could overlook your pesky conscience and stop paying your taxes and mortgage for two years, let your house fall into disrepair and ignore the borough’s violations, your kids will still eat for free, they’ll get an education and…

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Wouldn’t you like to be richly rewarded with a pocket full of money to start your life over on Boardwalk or Park Place?   Chalk Pottstown up to a bad move in the game of Monopoly?

Your credit will take a hit but, for an increasing number of Pottstown homeowners, that’s a small price for playing their final “get out of jail cards.”

Ply the lessons from the Bui’s and hundreds – no-  thousands of other extractive investors or, you can just leave your thoughts and ideas in the comment space below.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just” Ghandi

August / September 2014 in review.  Click on the links beneath the quotes to read the articles from various news sources in the area:    

Poverty is rampant

“Experts say few, if any, communities in the greater Philadelphia region are more in need than Pottstown, a city of roughly 22,000 by the Schuylkill where poverty and homelessness have steadily risen in the years since it lost its luster as an iron- and steel making center of the last two centuries.”

“Linda Abram of North Penn United Way said 21.5 percent of children under 18 there live in poverty, almost four times the rate in the rest of the county. And the median family income of $42,000 is only about 60 percent of that of the rest of the county.”

New initiative seeks to help students find housing stability

I didn’t see this article right away.  When it was brought to my attention I was even more astounded that borough council, councils of yore and former mayors admonish residents for speaking negatively about the housing problems in Pottstown.  The word is out, guess what??  It’s not a secret.

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“Trends in local housing supply and demand aren’t working in Pottstown’s favor right now. In a word, the market is troubled.

Andrew Himes, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Collegeville, said the borough is one of the few places that hasn’t made any kind of a comeback.”

UPDATE:  A former Pottstown homeowner sent this email after reading the post: 

I am an example in your newest post. I paid $73,000 for my home in the mid Eighties…I began the effort to sell it in early 2012. I never even came close to selling it. After a fruitless year I began the long process of giving the house back to the bank via a deed-in-lieu (while still trying to sell it). The transaction completed this past April. The bank has been trying to sell the property since then…the price has now been lowered to $89,900 and it still sits!!

What a nightmare that town has become…decades of poor Boro leadership, lax code enforcement, ineffective policing, and the staggering upward spiral of property taxes…I feel fortunate that I got out…

 

In Pottstown plenty of sellers few buyers

In response to the article above, State Representative Mark Painter had this to say:

“Whether or not a community is desirable is in the eye of the beholder. It’s a shame The Inquirer chose to focus on the naysayers.”

Letters Sept. 20th Philly.com

95% of the article referenced irrefutable data about home sales in the area.  The article also mentions a few of the nice things about Pottstown:  parks, The Hill School, Senior Center…  I took exception to Mark Painters letter because,  among politicians that serve Pottstown, everyone is more than willing to tout the virtues but they readily dismiss the most unfortunate realities that are stunting this borough.

However, their silence on the housing issue fans the flames of mistrust and speculation about their motives….their connections to real estate investors and the real estate industry that profit handsomely from their sleazy business acumen in Pottstown.

In Ward one, the number of investors roaming our streets, on the prowl for their first or their next delapidated slum rental property is markedly on the rise.  In the eyes of those beholders Pottstown is a cornucopia of desire, stuffed full of easy money.

Naturally, we wonder:  whose toes are politicians afraid to step on and why?   Homeowners watch, in horror, while their own investments evaporate and working class renters live in disgusting conditions because they are afraid to ask for help for fear they will lose the roof over their heads.  Please just stop burying the housing crisis in marshmallow cream, it insults the intelligence of many and it’s not helping this community.  

Welcome to the 400 block of King St. where only 8 remaing homeowners tenaciously strive to keep peace, pick up litter and look after one another.   

We need street cred and acknowledgement from every politician that serves Pottstown.  It is true that Mark Painter champions Pottstown but, even he has not engaged in dialogue about the housing problems with the community.  We hear nary a peep from State Rep Tim Hennessey who has made no effort, that I am aware of, to reach out to his constituents here.  Worry not, we’ll soon be reaching out to him. 

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“Before the creation of Your Way Home, Shapiro said, the county would find homes for an average of 15 people a month.

“Under Your Way Home, we have been able to not just help 15 people get out of homelessness, but we’re now up to 55 people a month getting out of homelessness and into stable housing,” he said. “This isn’t someone going from the street and into a shelter.  This is someone going into stable housing.”

Montgomery County program finds homes for the homeless

This is all good and well, I’d be hard pressed to say housing the homeless is not a noble cause.  “Stable housing” is hard to find in Pottstown and I do not see the benefit of housing the homeless in rental properties that are worn out, unsafe.  The county has seen to it that there is plenty of money to house people here.  I believe they also have an obligation to work with borough officials to make the housing safe and dare I go so far as to say attractive?  Giving tax dollars to investors who profit from the misfortune of others, with no expectation that they will follow the laws, is how we got into this mess in the first place.  Shapiro and the other commissioners cannot continue to be MIA on the housing problems in Pottstown.  

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“In her 88-page opinion submitted to the board, Jodi Isenberg, the administrative law judge who heard the Montgomery Elks case, said:

Issues that don’t occur directly inside an establishment are still its responsibility.

A licensee can be held accountable for activity occurring off-premises where there is a causal connection between the licensed premises and the activity,

Judge Isenberg also stated…

That the number of police incidents at the Montgomery Elks clearly … establishes a pattern of conduct that shows the lodge was disregarding its responsibility to monitor outside and adjacent to the licensed premises.”


Montgomery Elks liquor license denied by state

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The unfortunate events at Montgomery Elks that have resulted in hundreds of police reports, crime, untold costs to taxpayers, fear and loss of enjoyment for homeowners and other peaceful residents but, it is only one example of the abuses of “bottom feeder” businesses that harm our community.   

I am disheartened that borough council could not imagine better for my neighborhood – Ward 1, (whose challenges are greater than any other neighborhood), than to approve the minimart at 450 King St. They also continue to allow the building to be used as a boarding house.   Their decision exhibits a lack of knowledge and understanding of  their own ordinances and the principals of revitalization.  

Based on numerous experiences in my neighborhood alone, exemplified by the Montgomery Elks, I have no reason to expect better from councils decision to allow Edward Mitchell, owner of 450 King St., to establish his negligent business practices in Pottstown.  I don’t expect Torres minimart will be held to  legal or common sense standards by the borough or Mitchell.   Edward has a lengthy history of non-payment of property taxes, municipal liens and mortgages – dating back to the 1980’s, which screams of his incompetence, or even worse.   His history should not be confused with a warm, fuzzy recommendation or sound business experience.

Edward’s disregard for state landlord tenant law is legendary as former renters at his property at 239 Chestnut St. (under his wife’s name) will attest and, as I have witnessed.   Pottstown has become a magnet for people like Ed Mitchell.   This is only one, possibly insignificant decision to council but, when you magnify this decision, it has larger ramifications for every taxpayer in the the community.  It is within council’s decision making process, to examine, question, learn and take time to make a determination – instead, they ask no questions and hastily give their approval, even blocking out the concerns of the neighborhood and community members.  

The Conditional Use hearing in Pottstown is a ruse where people are invited to comment then told their comments have no value.  

Tongue tied as usual, not one council person asked Ed Mitchell when, under oath at the conditional use hearing, why he gave three different addresses, two in Pottstown and one in Blue Bell.  He claimed to live at each one.  Why would he do that?  The answer can be found in the zoning law and ordinances that govern boarding houses and rental property management.  When someone chooses to pull the wool over the eyes of council, under oath, then is rewarded for it – we have bigger  problems than we can wrap our minds around. 

In her wisdom, Judge Isenberg has reenforced federal, state and local laws that exist for the purpose of holding every business and property owner responsible for the activities of their patrons, renters or guests – on and off the premises – the borough has been remiss in their enforcement and it is councils duty to know what prevents borough employees from being effective.   

It’s my sincere desire that when council instructs Attorney Garner to write  ordinances to govern activities in Pottstown –  he will keep in mind the logic of the findings of Judge Isenberg.  Ordinances must be enforceable and consistently enforced. From the nuisance ordinance and safe housing ordinances to litter and criminal activity – bad behavior should not be allowed to escalate to the extreme before an intervention occurs.  How can we prosper without good laws and enforcement?  Just look around and know that Montgomery Elks serves as prominent, although common, example of what DOESN’T WORK.  

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Collectively, these articles and events are just another “black eye” for Pottstown and it’s increasingly impossible to sweep them under the rug, or more aptly, cover them with a rainbow.  If our politicians won’t speak of them, the press surely will.  

The onus is on every official that serves Pottstown to acknowledge and talk with residents to gain perspective on the day to day housing issues that we all live with.   I challenge every council person and politician… 

Take the first step, make it a priority.  After all, that’s why you were elected and that’s what leaders do – LEAD.  

I leave you with this article in the 422 Business Journal, written by Barry Cassidy, a recognized leader in community development in PA and elsewhere.  Barry knows how to get it done right:

Can Something Be So Bad It Is Good?

 

HEADS UP: Nikchad, LLC / Chagalliving, LLC / Alisa Levin…

Let the people speak for themselves.  Featured comments can be found at the bottom of the slumlord list.  You will also find the link for the montco property records on the page where you can find a list of rentals owned by these LLC’s.  

anonymous says:
September 21, 2014 at 10:05 am 

Alisa Levin is a horrible landlord I didn’t have any heat for a year and I was the only one paying for gas and electric in the building. She does not provide the proper service as a landlord she has a guy that works for her as a superintendent but never wants to fix anything. She never had the building inspected she doesn’t communicate well and she will try to take your whole security deposit when you decide to move out. She should not be a landlord in Pottstown, Pa or anywhere else in the world be careful because she will try to charge you for something that your not supposed to pay for if she thinks you don’t have the knowledge to know better…

“DON’T RENT FROM ALISA LEVIN”

 

Sick of slumlords says:

December 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm 

Alisa Levin has been victimizing tenants for years. She uses her null and void psychology license to prey on young poor women manipulating them to stay in her dilapidated properties. I have numerous text messages from Ms. Levin, threatening to call child services on a tenant if she did not comply with her demands. I have multiple photos of shoddy conditions in her “penthouse” suite located above Daisy’s bodega which as codes stated to me had not been inspected since 2005 and was to be used for storage only according to codes. The place has shoddy electrical with bare exposed wires. The windows are broken and riddled with lead paint. The fire lighting system was disconnected and a board was nailed over the outlet so the delinquents who “loitered” in the common area stairwell could not charge their phones according to Levin. All of this evidence was presented to a judge who blindly allowed this sheister to keep renting her dangerous properties. Several attempts to gain access to her “so called investors” NikChad LLC were shot down by Levin herself. If the tenant signs a lease with NIKCHAD how does she have the right to quell any conversations with the “ghost investors”? Well that’s because Ms. Levin and NIKCHAD are one in the same. Why does Ms, Levin hide her investors? Why does she hide the fact that she IS NIKCHAD? This is something that will eventually come to fruition I am sure.

Sick of slumlords, goes on to say:

December 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm 

…there are drug dealers living in the building and the store below (345 Beech st) breeds every vermin in town. I am sure this is due to the store owners prior infractions for selling cigarettes on the food stamp program which I am certain he still does. Wires are exposed in the units children live in and her maintenance man is a recovering addict (who relapsed) working for a local rehab in Pottstown. His girlfriend likes to threaten anyone she can get her hands on. The codes department thanks you for your tips but then turns a blind eye and allows the landlord to turn over her properties within a week from the other tenants (who still have active leases) leaving.  This woman should be ran out of town and sent back to Quakertown where her family lives in the lap of luxury.

POTTSTOWN OFFICIALS AND JUDGES REFORM THIS NOW BEFORE WE GO OVER YOUR HEADS TO A FEDERAL AGENCY !!!!
Sincerely and Serious,
Sick !

450 King St. Alisa Levin - Chagallliving, LLC  Paint job on trim is new *gag*   Front window is plexiglas - suck the heat right out of the house.  Storm windows or insulation?   You'll freeze your petuties off this winter and pay a chunk of change for it too.

450 King St. Alisa Levin – Chagallliving, LLC Paint job on trim is new *gag* Front window is plexiglas – suck the heat right out of the house. Storm windows or insulation? You’ll freeze your petuties off this winter and pay a chunk of change for it too.

Poison Pen Letters

I remember…

About two years after I moved to Pottstown the stories of underhanded politics began to unfold, including the prevalence of anonymous, “poison pen letters” that are designed to intimidate and threaten an adversary.  I’m sure this kind of thing is not a Pottstown exclusive but it sure is popular here.

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How fulfilling can it be to send anonymous letters?   Think about it:

The sender never has the satisfaction of seeing surprise on the recipients face.

The sender never knows if their target shared the letter with other people.

The sender is never assured that their secret letter spawned conjecture or fear or debate about who sent it and why.

Nope, in reality, the sender never really knows if the letter had the desired effect of intimidating or paralyzing their intended.

The author is left with the temporary satisfaction of secretly spewing their threats and vitriol after which, it seems to me, they can only indulge themselves in twisted fantasies about the impact they’ve made on another person.  In that regard…

I imagine the authors of poison pen letters are full of false bravado, and a few other things I shall not mention by name but one of them rhymes with coop.

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The recipient’s of anonymous, toxic Pottstown fiction say they usually <wisely> tear the letters up, with little regard for the hostile content, and toss ‘em in the round file cabinet. 

Recently, poison pens are going around again.   There seems to be a single author whose writing style stands out and whose content is to threaten lawsuits against the borough, or encourage residents to file lawsuits against other residents.  The letters lack fact or substance and…

The writer comes off like she’s throwing an adult temper tantrum <so unattractive by any measure>  The recent round of letters give every indication of having been written by a real estate  -eh hem- “professional” who I have written about on this blog and who is affiliated with the Western Montgomery County Real Estate Investors Group.   This is an organization whose members comprise many of the negligent rental property owners we see today in Pottstown.

th-1Judging by the poison pen letters being mailed of late, it’s an easy guess that some members of the real estate investors group are feeling a tad uncomfortable with recent developments in the borough. Perhaps they sense that their free reign of terror is coming to an end?

We can only say:  IT’S ABOUT TIME!

The recipient of one of those poison pen letters is a neighbor of mine who brought me the letter yesterday to make a copy for posterity.  In the letter my neighbor was encouraged – in a misguided, erroneous rant – to hire an attorney and sue me for posting to facebook the footage taken from a surveillance video, in a public space, that captured.. uh.. shall I say, something that should have been accomplished in private.   The fact is…

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The 4th Amendment guarantees privacy in our homes, public restrooms, jail, in a phone booth, etc. but…when you are in public places – if, for example, you choose to urinate in public – it is possible to be charged with littering, public nuisance, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, or other law if the locality doesn’t have a law specifically addressing public urination, (Pottstown has laws on the books to govern these things).

The following is an example of one state’s law dealing with public urination:

76-9-702. Lewdness — Sexual battery — Public urination. A person is guilty of public urination if the person urinates or defecates in a public place, other than a public rest room; and under circumstances which the person should know will likely cause affront or alarm to another.

While these laws are widely enforced in other towns and cities it is not common to see them enforced in Pottstown leading some people to the conclusion that it’s O.K. to take a pee or leave graphic evidence, (of the solid variety),  in public – anywhere they would like –  without shame or embarrassment or concern for being arrested.

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But, what happens if it’s captured on video?  For one, it might go viral and who knows… any Pottstownian could be next in line to receive an “ax job” <anon letter>  from a whack job for posting legitimate concerns about illegal activity, so…

If you happen to open your mailbox and find an anonymous letter about me or any other topic please hold on to it.  I think these letters have a place in the history of Pottstown or, at least, an enterprising and avant guard new restaurant could up-cycle them to wallpaper their bathrooms – – for entertainment purposes only.

Meanwhile, I am extending an invitation to the author of the inane, poison pen ramblings sent to my neighbor to pick a time and let’s get together for a cup of joe and conversation.   Send me a <signed> letter or contact me by email if you have the cahones to do so:

ptownadvocates@hotmail.com

While we work on a new project to feature ethical Real Estate Professionals and Landlords in our area please remember, they are not all created equal.  This is a reminder to CHECK THE HISTORIES of anyone you are considering renting from, including PROPERTY MANAGEMENT CO’S.  

The same holds true if you are selling or buying real estate.  The Pottstown housing ocean is infested with sharks and you are at risk of falling prey to the unethical, illegal actions of many real estate professionals and landlords.

Check civil and criminal backgrounds on the county and state links which you can find if you click on the link below.  If you need help finding information, contact me at the email address above.

Choose wisely because you have a lot to lose: 

http://goldencockroach.wordpress.com/june-2014-current-list-of-pottstown-slumlords/ 

PA Senate Committee Considers Blight Bills…

Or, as I like to call them “Bite Bills” taking a bite out of blight one bill at a time…

  SENATE COMMITTEE CONSIDERS BLIGHT BILLS

Three bills aimed at providing tools to decrease the number of blighted properties across the commonwealth were reported from the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee on June 27.

Senate Bill 1420, authored by Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Philadelphia), would allow a property owner’s Pennsylvania driver’s license to be suspended for 90 days if the property owner has three serious convictions of property violations within a municipality. The bill was reported by an 8-3 vote.  I like this Bill – a lot – only thing is…getting serious convictions for property violations in Pottstown doesn’t happen.  I’d like it a whole lot BETTER if it included delinquent property tax and municipal service liens too.  But, it could put a temporary squeeze on some of those out-of-town real estate or rental management companies who would have to pedal their ass(ets) from Limerick or Blue Bell to Pottstown to continue to make a buck off the taxpayers voucher housing $$$.  

Another proposal, SB 1427, introduced by committee chair Sen. Dave Argall (R-Schuylkill) was reported from committee 10-1 and would allow counties the option to apply an additional fee of up to $15 on deeds and mortgages, with the additional revenue to be used exclusively for demolition within the county.  I suppose this isn’t such a big deal to the average property buyer and it would be great to start demolishing blighted houses in Pottstown, for sure.  But it doesn’t really target the negligent property owners, the source of most of the blight.   Oh yeah, that’s right …  Act 90 the Blight And Reclamation Law allows municipalities to go after the personal assets of these creeps to rectify the damages they cause. I’d like to see it put to use. 

Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny), the committee’s minority chair, authored SB 1442, which was reported from committee 10-1, and would amend the Real Estate Tax Sale Law to allow counties to add a ten percent fee to properties sold at a tax sale, with the funds directed for demolition and rehabilitation of blighted property. The bills are now before    the Senate Appropriations Committee.  This is good…has merit, could raise some serious funds and might hit the banks who should be chipping in big time for all the properties they neglect in Pottstown too.

**Many thanks to a dear friend and avid Cockroach reader for these updates!**

435 King St. on the Pottstown Blighted Property List

435 King St. on the Pottstown Blighted Property List

 This year, a bank slid this property at 435 King St. over to a hedge fund registered in Texas after the former purveyor of slum living at its finest went belly up on the mortgage/taxes/municipal services.

THIS HAS BEEN NEARLY A THREE YEAR ODYSSEY Of WATCHING THIS HOUSE DISINTEGRATE … 

The first vacant winter, pipes burst and water ran until late spring. 

Warm weather caused mold to grow on the wet wood and surfaces.  It is so riddled with mold you can smell it just walking by, that cannot be healthy.  Squirrels have taken up cozy residence on the 2nd floor where they are raising large families. 

clik for listing link>> This hot mess is on the borough’s blighted property list for good reason and it needs to come down soon.  

The decorative corbels beneath the rotted eaves are falling off now onto the sidewalk – likely to bonk someone on the bean and cause some serious damage. We need to make these banks and hedge funds do the right thing in our communities too.  

On the same page…

Photography by David Pollock

Photography by David Pollock

IT’S A GOOD DAY in Pottstown when its citizens and government can be found on the same page AND when the page also happens to be the front of the Mercury News, as it was yesterday…

clik here to read the article>>front page news is the Better Landlord.org, Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown, the Borough Manager and Borough Council who whole heartedly agreed to take the first step in a Good Landlord Program for Pottstown!!  YAY!!

Evan Brandt’s astute opening paragraph says:

“Get into a conversation about revitalization and the obstacles Pottstown faces in its pursuit and you will soon be talking about rental housing.”

Yep, I agree.  I’ve been sparking this conversation about rental housing for darn near 3 years.  I have “taken it on the chin” from a few of the slum property owners who like things just as they are and have no compunction about driving their properties and the borough into the ground for their own, personal financial enrichment.

In fact, those bottom feeder investors are ALREADY frothing with hate filled comments, beneath the post of the article on the Mercury’s Facebook page, but…

I’ve also heard from some of the better landlords who say, they want what you and I want:

“Well maintained, attractive rental housing, increasing property values, jobs, businesses, good, working renters and a safe community.”

You see, these landlords have sound business models and they “get” the fact that their investments in rental properties can be long-term, stable and lucrative.   They know that if the homes and rentals increase in value, it will be good for everyone, including them.

They don’t have to cook up schemes, like heartless slumords/ladies do to rip-off the American taxpayers and drive sweet little communities, like Pottstown, into financial ruin and despair.

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Among other benefits, come time to retire, good investors will have something of value to sell.  As revenues increase for the borough and things start looking clean, attractive, reasonably safe and well-managed we’ll see quality businesses, new homeowners and an increase in better investors and developments.

I am happy to read in the article that Pottstown Borough Manger, Mark Flanders, referred to rental property owners as “businesses.”  To be exact, he is quoted:

“Landlords are in business,” Flanders said. “They file tax returns on their income and we’re going to move the rental licensing into a business license next year.

I’ve been shouting all along that landlording is a business.  But – in terms of filing tax returns on ALL their rental income – eh – not so much.  Many landlords rent for cash and they stockpile rent money while they default on the loans, taxes and fees.  That can be a considerable amount of money going straight into their pockets too.

Not all real estate investors are good business people.   Some see their investments as a business while others see them as a trough, the place pigs go to feed until…

Pottstown slum people feeding at the trough.

Pottstown slum people feeding at the trough.

They’re satiated and the trough is drained and empty.   We have far too many of the latter kind of investor in Pottstown and they are gorging themselves at the taxpayer buffet.

“Bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered,” <<< an old Wall Street saying that counsels against excessive greed and impatience.

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that I have a big problem with ethics-less realtors and greedy income investors, in general, people who work hard to pull one over on the taxpayer residents, their tenants, the judges AND the borough officials.

A couple of big mouth investors like to draw attention to their lack of ethics, principals and good common sense – I’m more than happy to feature their stoopitity on my blog.

One of those investors is Debra Lacava Campbell who, as most of you know, in 2012…

Defaulted on millions of dollars of investment properties, taxes, municipal services, then she filed bankruptcy, (along with her ex-husband Doug).

Deb keeps turning up in Pottstown like a bad nightmare – OY.

Both of them do, really,  Doug is working with a woman named Helen Sage, they work as a “team,” selling REO’s to bottom feeders – round and round they go…

I can’t figure out how a lot of these relators keep their PA real estate licenses. What, after all, are the State’s guidelines?  clik to read ethics>>The Nat’l Association of Realtors has a pretty tight code of ethics but not every real estate agent belongs to the association. 

A Blue Bell, PA property management company has popped up in Pottstown and one of the rental agents is Deb Campbell, still peddling her dubious services here.   10602616_775198699170377_634579098_n-1

Today, she STILL owes the Pottstown school district, water authority and the borough money for taxes and services she and her former husband, Doug Campbell, haven’t yet paid.

How can she still be renting properties and doing business in a community that she took to the cleaners two years ago?   WHERE’S PA STATE ACT 90 WHEN YOU NEED IT?  Deb Campbell would be given no permits, no licenses, no way to do business in this borough – as it should be if this Act were utilized here. 

No shame No humility.  Montgomery County Prothonotary<<clik  type in – Campbell Debra Lacava – and seven open cases appear,  a couple mortgage foreclosures and Pottstown Authority liens. Now type in  – Campbell Douglas – and the real picture evolves, (Deb’s name is on these suits too), there are SIXTY THREE of them between Norristown and Pottstown and a few personal ones thrown in…

I got a heads up from a respectable Pottstown investor that Deb Lacava Campbell showed up, out-of-the-blue, at a new rental he’d purchased in Pottstown a couple weeks ago.  She was peddling her wares ie: (she wanted to “manage” his property for him).

It’s very odd, we thought, as we ruminated on this development …

How’d Deb get ahold of information that wasn’t even made public yet?  How’d she know he’d bought the place?

Smarmy git, (as the British say).

Her timing – the day after the new owner went to the License and Inspections Department at the Borough to arrange for a rental inspection – left a question in the air…

Did the info come from someone at the borough L& I?  If not, where then?

Knowing Deb Lacava Campbell, anything is possible.  But who, in that department, would be tight enough with Deb and stoopit enough to leak information like that to someone like Deb?  Why would they do it = what could be “in it” for them to take such a flagrant risk?

Someone also said that awhile back, she bumped into Deb who was seen hanging around in the hallway on the 2nd floor of boro hall, smoozing with the investors as they came up to get information from the L & I dept… and this is acceptable? To whom?

Watch Out!!

Watch Out!!

WHY entrust your real estate needs to someone, like Deb Campbell, who can’t even manage her OWN real estate business with expertise and sound principals?  I say, choose someone with a clean history.

By popular request…

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Another resident and I will soon be working on a new page for the blog that will feature the good real estate professionals in the area along with – good landlords. We’ll do the background work and make sure we’re putting a seal of approval on the smart real estate business people so you can make wise decisions for all of your real estate needs. 

We ask you to boycott agents/property managers with a history of defaults, tax & municipal liens – they are robbing you and every taxpayer blind why would you want to knowingly facilitate that?     

One last item, ok… two last items, really …  

The Mercury, used a photo of 239 Chestnut St. in their article about the Better Landlord Program.  This brought up a conversation on the Mercury’s Facebook page about the property and Edward Mitchell who now owns 454 King St. and other properties along Washington.  I vaguely remember the hoopla when 239 sold for $20,000 in 2011 to Yi Pan, 2307 Whitpain Hills, Blue Bell who apparently is married to Edward Mitchell (according to neighbors of 239 Chestnut St.)…  

Neighbors remembered that they got a zoning variance or some kind of borough permit so the house could be occupied by Yi Pan’s **Asian family members** wink – But today, the place is being run as a boarding house that neighbors, (including the Phillies Fire Co.), refer to as the ZOO!!!  It pays to talk to people who live and work in the borough, (if council people really want to know how to vote on most any issue) – residents KNOW the score.

Need I say more?

239 Chestnut St. owner Yi Pan managed by Edward Mitchell her husband.

239 Chestnut St. owner Yi Pan managed by Edward Mitchell her husband.

Edward himself has 92 Civil Suits in MontCo for real estate related activities in Norristown and Pottstown – he’s not the kind of businessman that’s going to foster revitalization, IMHO.   In a correspondence from someone who used to live at 239 Chestnut St. I learned that Edward rents to the disabled but has no compunction about kicking them to the curb without following legal eviction….just like he did in this June 2014 video, featured elsewhere on this blog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F21aHtJrmgs

I think it’s time we stop making accommodation for investors whose “business plans” don’t include paying taxes, municipal fees, doing home maintenance and backgrounds on their renters.  We have to start somewhere and maybe the Better Landlord folks won’t be quite so bowled over by the tasks they will undertake in Pottstown!  And finally…

RIGHT ON COUNCIL!!!

“At Monday night’s council meeting they also voted in opposition to the zoning relief requested by Sullivan Angelucci for dimension variances for the property located at 211 North York Street <in Ward 3> and authorize Councilor Miller to appear on behalf of Borough Council.”

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The guy wanted to turn this cute retail space into another apartment – adding to the density and parking struggles.   Instead, how cool if he marketed the space to an artist, at a reasonable price, for use as a studio/gallery space?  

 

Dog Fighting In Pottstown: Editorial from Roy’s Rants

goldencockroach:

Let’s support the neighbors from interlopers who are out for a fast buck with no regard for the lives of those that they are ruining.  Scum of the earth income investors, like Faye Denolf and Larry Loffredo must be stopped from ever again renting their property at 244 N. Charlotte St. or any property in Pottstown. The onus is on the “leaders” of this community to get their acts together and do it now.

Lives are increasingly negatively impacted and some are lost every single day in Wards 1, 2 & 3 as it’s increasingly evident that puppy breeding and dog fighting rings are freely operating.  Pit bulls run our streets untethered, many of them abused.  We are all put at risk just walking out our front doors.

Stop wasting our time and our tax money on highfalutin govt. officals presiding over ineffective codes enforcement and lax police services that are accomplishing nothing for the people who pay taxes and live in these wards.

Originally posted on Roy's Rants - For Your Information:

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…

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