The Voices of Pottstown Residents…

Periodically, comments from various timelines and pages on Facebook will be shared to this blog, with consent of the writers.  At times, they will be posted without the author’s name to protect them from retaliation.

These are the experiences of residents struggling to make a life for themselves and their families in Pottstown.

The first story is a maddening commentary that greets new residents.  As these incidents continue, how do officials expect that law abiding, contributing people will consider Pottstown a place they can call home?   We are a small town of 22,000.  These first-hand stories define what the borough has been allowed to become for the lack of competent, honest leadership.

March 27,2015  “I thought you might want to post my story just to let other in pottstown know. My boyfriend and I just moved into the townhomes in hanover square the beginning of March. On march 13 a black man in his 20s rang our door bell asking for money, saying he lived on south street and his mom was in the hospital and he needed money to get to her. I’m from lionville so I wasn’t completely sure how to react so I gave him 5 dollars thinking it would get him to leave and then he asked me if I had any weed or anything else. I told him no and that I needed to go back inside. He left and we thought it was done and over. We were having a house warming that night and when our last guests left around 12 30am we headed up to bed. At about 1245 our dog started growling and barking, we weren’t sure what was up so we went down into the living room and heard noises down by our front door. We turned on lights and then the door bell started ringing nonstop and banging at the door. It was the man that had been there asking for money earlier and a women that the man claimed was his sister telling us they needed to come inside and get warm. We called 911 and the police were there super quick and the man and woman ran. The man got away but the woman was arrested and was found to be drunk and with drugs on her. Needless to say it was pretty scary and maybe this story will help people be aware of this kind of situation.”

DO NOT RENT THIS PLACE!!<<clik

2BR apartment  POSTED TO CRAIGSLIST/READING

“Don’t rent from a landlord Stephen Strickland!! He is a total slum lord!! He takes your money and doesn’t fix anything. If he does he sends his half fast workers and covers the job up!! Black fuzzy mold he just paints over to hide it!! He is a landlord who will put you and your family endanger!! He sounds good at first but is the worst mistake of your life!! He has properties on High st and at 305 N Evans st Pottstown PA 19464!! None of his properties are not inspected by the Borough of Pottstown!!”

Stephen Strickland Oct., 2011 on Golden Cockroach Slumlord list<<clik

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Stephen has been on the Slumlord list since 2011 this is now 2015.  I have led the horse to the water for over 4.5 years and yet, the Borough cannot make the connection to bring people like Stephen into compliance with codes and local ordinances or, they don’t want to do it.

This is a failure of leadership.  No explanation, no plan, no vision for bringing the 2600+ unregistered rental units into compliance.   The lack of communication and secrecy among staff and elected officals only serves to substantiate the ineptitude and malfeasance that is coming to light, in every aspect of local government.

If not a top priority, unregulated rental housing will continue to be a revenue stream for careless investors who directly enable criminal activities in the community.  Law enforcement will be relegated to endless, ineffective efforts to gain the upper hand on crime and violence in Pottstown.

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Today, while preparing this post, Evan Brandt published an article on his Digital Notebook blog.  It hits at the very heart of why we struggle but doesn’t offer an explanation for the secrecy among governing bodies in Pottstown that has all but destroyed trust and confidence in staff and elected officials in the School District and the Borough.

It’s time, as has recently been said often on my blog, for Mark Flanders to go.   He’s harmed and continues to harm this community, a fact hasn’t changed from his position as Police Chief to his position as Borough Manager –  Mark Flanders is wrong for Pottstown.

FIRE FLANDERS

Digital Notebook:  ‘That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It’  <<clik

Pottstown “We Can Do Better” Guest Writer, Dave Garner…

“If you really want to determine someone’s leadership prowess, give them some responsibility and see what they do with it. Leaders produce results.”
Mike Myatt

There’s a not-so-subtle abdication of responsibility from council to the borough manager, (staff), in local government.

We have a leadership problem in Pottstown.

Elected officials have not been able to identify management leaders and they haven’t sought experienced, successful leaders.  Offical’s justifications and rationalizations no longer suffice in the face of rising violent crime and the radical, comprehensive failure of this poor community to survive let alone revive.

We continue to see expenditures for “non-essentials” at the top level of local government.  We see waste and inefficiency.  We see far too little transparency.  We can’t explain why local government can’t or won’t answer our questions knowledgeably and honestly.  We’re tired of being lied to.

project

The failure of  government leaders is evidenced in every nook and cranny of Pottstown.

“A leader’s job is to align the organization around a clear and achievable vision. This cannot occur when the blind lead the blind.” Mike Myatt

Residents of Pottstown are increasingly disheartened and outspoken about their mistrust of a local government that creates chaos and confusion in opposition to a vision for revitalization.  We’re uniting with one another and we’re moving forward.

If you are on Facebook “Like” Pottstown Government Watchdogs.

Your thoughts, ideas and contributions to this blog are valued.  Please let me know if you’d like a guest spot!

Katy Jackson ptownadvocates@hotmail.com

Welcome:

Guest Writer, Dave Garner…

I preface my substantive remarks by stating that I am willing to discuss any of the items covered in this article with anyone. Preferred method is face to face but I will respond to email dggarner1@comcast.net or telephone 484-945-0777 communications.

Apart from my time in the military and the five years following my discharge I have lived in Pottstown my entire life. Over the course of those fifty years I have enjoyed the people, organizations and physical aspects of the community. The passing of time has brought challenges for the Borough with the loss of several significant industries and the shift of businesses from the downtown to strip malls in the adjacent municipalities. Nevertheless the town remains a place I proudly call my home.

With that said, I have great concern for the future of our community. Primarily because we have no vision as to what we want to be. Accordingly we have no objectives or tasks to work on. Residents and organizations are not engaged by the Borough leadership which routinely cedes its decision-making responsibilities to staff and resists dialogue with the community. As a result, Pottstown misses out on opportunities to attract businesses, to develop a more productive citizenry and to improve the functionality of the town. Unfortunately, the elected officials and staff seem quite satisfied with this “planned dysfunctionality.”

I suppose one of the reasons they are pleased with the status quo is the fact that many noteworthy events, activities, organizations, business and individuals belie the void in planning and leadership by the governmental sector. Schuylkill River Heritage Area, Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, First Saturdays, Steel River Playhouse, Rotary Club, ArtFusion, YWCA, VideoRay, Volleyball Rumble, the BMX track and the Sly Fox operations to name only a few are helping to make Pottstown a good place to live and work.

It has taken years for Pottstown to “arrive” where we are. There is no quick fix or magic formula to improve the situation overnight. It is my assertion that first a process needs to be adopted for developing a community vision. Broad participation by the “stakeholders” is important to insure that the result reflects the will of the community and is something that everyone will support. The process must also produce specific goals and objectives with tasks and responsible parties identified. A realistic timeline will establish parameters by which “progress” can be measured. Active engagement of the residents, organizations, businesses and government in developing and working the “plan” is essential and will provide the greatest likelihood for a positive outcome.

Having a plan is critical because it is something specific that can be publicized and promoted. It can guide us to partners and funding to address the tasks and accomplish the goals. In addition to the government, businesses and organizations will have clear guidance to assist them in their planning and operational decision-making. The implementation of the plan will be a catalyst for change internally and provide a marketing tool to attract new residents and businesses to Pottstown.

Developing a vision and a plan are not quickly or easily accomplished. Stakeholders be must committed to an agreed process and stay with it until they have completed the work. Parties must be willing to let go of selfish agendas in order to focus on the best outcomes for the community. We cannot become bogged down in the past lamenting what we are not. We must identify what we want to be and determine the best way to get there, building off of the assets and resources that we have and can obtain. Pottstown has many wonderful people, events, organizations, features, businesses, and buildings. But we are certainly not where we need to be. Let’s be honest in evaluating our circumstances. Let’s be visionary in charting out where we want to go. Let’s diligently pursue the work that is before us and commit to the “heavy lifting” that will surely be required because…

We Can Do Better!

NO CONFIDENCE in Pottstown local government

**PUBLIC COMMENTS POSTED TO FACEBOOK TODAY AND SHARED HERE WITH PERMISSION OF THE POSTERS.

Roy Keeler:  “Mr. Flanders has utter contempt for the people of Pottstown. He blatently disregards authority, thumbs his nose at the chain of command and has nothing substantive in the way of accomplishments to show for his tenure as BM. His legacy as Police Chief was astronomically high crime and a department riddled with strife and mistrust except for a chosen few. He is grossly overpaid. I am astounded that his behavior is not only tolerated by the council but their failure to demand results and reign him in has created an out of control situation. This man thinks he is Julius Caesar and ruling by divine right. He acts as if he answers to no one. In 2.5 years he had been paid $300,000.00, based on $120,000.00 per year. How has Pottstown benefitted from his reign???????”

Unknown-3Last weeks accusations that Borough Manager, Mark Flanders, violated PA Open Meetings Law and Authority bylaws has opened the flood gates on social media.  Residents of Pottstown have long held beliefs that Mark Flanders lengthy history of secretiveness on the police force and, as Police Chief, was the best indicator of his future job performance as Borough Manager.

Long-term residents acknowledge that Police Chief Flanders did not make the effort to engender trust and confidence from the community or all of the people he managed, quite the opposite.  Inaccessible and non-communicative best sums up citizens, officers and other public employees experiences of Mark Flanders leadership style.

It is true that he surrounded himself with select officers (the golden boys) who demonstrated their loyalty to Flanders and often seemed indoctrinated in their measured communications with the press and the public.  Much of what they said made no sense to thoughtful Pottstownians.  But, along the way people learned to fear Mark Flanders and some of his officers and they were reluctant to say much, one way or the other, in public.

Incidentally, the DOJ states:  “Arguably, fear reduction (making people feel safer) should be included among the explicit components of the modern police mission. Here’s an insightful read on the topic<<clik

Not afraid to speak among themselves, people talk openly about their experiences of being “targeted” for retribution by the PPD.  Trumped up charges with jail time and violations issued to victims are just a few of the experiences that law abiding residents discuss.

These incidents and experiences have led to suspicions, by many residents, that some officers are in collusion with drug dealers, prostitutes and other seedy opportunist, as one explanation for how criminals are often not held to the same letter of the law as law abiding citizens.  There’s abundance in Pottstown, if you know how to tap it, including slum property owners who accept only cash for rent and deposits. <<A BIG RED FLAG

In fact, it is recently evidenced that a borough official engaged in providing protection to a friend who owns rental property in Pottstown, but that’s for another day.

From Facebook, Lee Rich comments:   “Engaging with the community is not something you (Flanders) welcomed… I can attest to that. Approximately 2 years ago, after 6 years of unresolved neighbor issues; running low on options (and sanity), I requested a meeting with the Borough Manager. I was thwarted at the Secretary level. Conversely, I have been at (public) meetings during which Mr. Garner offered his assistance and cooperation. His offer was met with blank stare(s). My impression of Mr. Garner is, and has always been, one of genuine interest in what is best for Pottstown and its’ people. I have not one explanation for the disharmony and reluctance which makes reaching any goal difficult, if not impossible.”

Of all the atrocities that plague this community, the fire companies are NOT among them.  The motives behind the consolidation remain unclear and never more so seriously in question as now. There is TANGIBLE loss, pain and suffering among homeowners and other good residents – how can a fire company merger take precidence?

Another resident sums up their sentiments, (there are still some who fear Flanders):

Pottstown Homeowner At Large:   “Sneeky, shady and untrustworthy aren’t the only words that come to mind, but they’re the only ones fit to post. I hope the good people of Pottstown see what’s going on here. And I suggest council put on their best Big Boy and Big Girl pants and prepare to act upon the will of the taxpaying public. You know, the folks who elected them and fund this guy’s paycheck.”

Any investigation that might ensue around the circumstances in the articles linked below will, hopefully, be comprehensive in nature.  We can’t determine if crime (s) has been committed, that’s not our job. But, we DO KNOW that many things that go on here just don’t jive with reality – there is something very, very wrong in local government and it’s  evidenced in the filthy, crime riddled conditions of this borough.

Paula K. Knudsen, director of government affairs/legislative counsel for the Pennsylvania News Media Association and an attorney who is an expert in Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Law said:

“Ultimately it’s up to a judge. And I think it would be interesting to call the Montgomery County District Attorney because the changes made to the Sunshine Law last year now empower the district attorney to prosecute those cases.”

Unknown-1

What we can do as citizens is demand that our elected officials, starting with Council President, Stephen Toroney,  stop making excuses and do some real work for this town.  It was their decision to hire Mark Flanders for Borough Manager, (nobody seemed more delighted by the secrecy that shrouded that decision than Toroney), and it is THEIR responsibility to consider our best interests, not his or their own.  Toroney has little time left “in service” to this community MAKE IT COUNT FOR SOMETHING.

Here’s a wake up call:   the residents, public employees and former employees of Pottstown Borough are not apathetic or stupid.

Authority members responses to Mark Flanders email were far too cavalier and unconcerned with his intentions, let alone Chomnuks’ “tattle tale” speculations about – who golfs with whom – unprofessional and childish  behavior in a situation that required their full attention and scrutiny imho.

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150317/pottstown-charging-phillies-fire-company-for-water-use-because-of-bar

http://www.pottsmerc.com/government-and-politics/20150318/lawyer-pottstown-borough-authority-violated-open-meetings-law

http://www.pottsmerc.com/opinion/20150319/editorial-pottstown-borough-authority-produces-lesson-for-sunshine-week

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150319/firehouse-policy-change-violated-pottstown-borough-authoritys-own-bylaws

http://pottstown.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=74

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150320/pottstown-borough-authority-responds-to-charges-of-sunshine-law-violations

https://goldencockroach.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/the-best-gamblers-quit-while-theyre-ahead/

 

If you are on Facebook check out a new page:  Voices for the Victimized in Pottostown <<clik

The best gamblers quit while they’re ahead …

Life-long Pottstown resident, Dave Garner, is a former councilman, a community volunteer, a homeowner, a local businessman.  Dave has made consistent efforts to communicate with Mark Flanders from the day he became the borough manager in November, 2012.

At first, like most people I know in Pottstown, Dave made the choice to give Flanders the benefit of the doubt.

For 2.5 years, Dave has requested meetings and has met with Mark Flanders, regularly, to discuss the state of the borough.  Dave also communicates with him by email and letter, providing Flanders with information or updates and to offer suggestions or ideas.  Dave’s availed himself to serve on committees in local government and to open the door for the rest of the community by encouraging Mark Flanders to invite the participation of residents and other stakeholders.   

While Dave speaks for himself, in the following letter that he sent to Mark Flanders on March 11, 2015, he also reflects the disappointment and lost confidence in Mark Flanders that so many citizens, employees and former employees are voicing, with growing urgency.  As conditions in our neighborhoods decline, at lightening pace, we are more and more preoccupied with violence and drug crimes, deterioration, illegal dumping and trash that plaque the downtown areas and threaten better neighborhoods.

Like Dave, I believe Pottstown would benefit from a change in leadership at this time. I believe that the kind of leader that will positively benefit this community is one, that among many other attributes, values and works effectively with the community, public employees and all stakeholders in a shared decision making environment.

I believe that Mark Flanders can do the greatest service to Pottstown by stepping down to grant Pottstown a much needed opportunity to seek a qualified manager.  Our challenges will not be met with inexperience, on-the-job-training, or entrenched, ineffective management skills.

Ideally, a manager who could best serve Pottstown would possess the experience to put an end to the conflict, to unite residents and public employees, council, managers…unite the borough, in a shared community vision, first and foremost.

A manager who will make Pottstown their home is non-negotiable.

 

DAVID G. GARNER
339 Grandview Rd.
Pottstown, PA 19464
_______

E-mail-dggarner1@comcast.net

March 11, 2015

Pottstown Borough Hall
Attn: Mark Flanders, Borough Manager
100 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464

RE: Strategic Planning

Dear Mark:

I am responding to your letter dated January 30, 2015 concerning the above referenced subject.

Please note that I took your advice and went to the Borough’s website. Unfortunately, the only comprehensive plans listed are for the Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee (draft) and Montgomery County. Perhaps the Pottstown Plan has not yet been posted to the website.

While your letter suggests that the Borough’s Comprehensive Plan outlines “major goals and objectives with the intent of a community vision and a strategic plan”, I wonder when and if that will come to pass. Since setting a community vision has never been discussed by Council in a public meeting, I question your commitment in that regard. For the past two and half years I have written to you to encourage a process to formulate a community vision and I have offered to participate. Your general response is a courteous letter putting me off in some fashion.

Engaging with the community is not something you welcomed when you were police chief and you continue to resist the efforts of the residents to participate since you became Manager. This style of managing is not productive for a town that is trying to define itself so that a focused, community-supported revitalization can be pursued. Instead of Council establishing policy which you implement, you are setting the direction and asking them to endorse your actions.

Pottstown needs a functional government where everyone understands and fulfills their roles; I do not think that can happen with you as the Manager. Pottstown needs leadership which will strive to improve the community through defined initiatives that are geared toward accomplishing specific objectives while engaging the residents, businesses and organizations. It is time for a Manager with the proper experience, qualifications and proven success in a municipality that employed the appropriate model for governance. It is time for a Manager who will demonstrate commitment to Pottstown by choosing to reside here. It is time for you to go.

Very truly yours,

David G. Garner

Montgomery County’s Plan for Pottstown and Norristown

….is the same as their old plan<<click for the article

According to the article in this week’s Mercury, by Evan Brandt, there’s no reason to celebrate their plan.  Montgomery County will continue to use federal funds to segregate the poor, disabled, drug and alcohol addicted in one of two Montgomery County communities.

In 2009:  “Westchester County entered into a landmark desegregation agreement on Monday that would compel it to create hundreds of houses and apartments for moderate-income people in overwhelmingly white communities and aggressively market them to nonwhites in Westchester and New York City.”

The MontCo representative mentioned the extra credits to developers of low-income housing in communities other than Ptown or Ntown, ie: mainline communities who have thoughtfully “zoned out” the poor.

The county, (perhaps blinded by the politics of looking after the best interests of wealthier communities and their own campaign pocketbooks), feels no obligation to “help” those communities understand the necessity of desegregation, despite the risks of defying HUD and the potential for a lawsuit, as the one that befell Westchester County, N.Y.

The Mercury article notes that “CDBG, (federal grants), is directed to Census tracts with a high percentage of low-income households and, in Pottstown, is most often used for infrastructure programs like curb cuts in sidewalks for handicapped access.”

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Behind 482 N Charlotte St. on the alley on West St.

 

^^ What are the politics behind this flagrant waste of tax money and how often does it happen here?

It’s Pottstown and nobody is watching.

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In this next, convoluted tale, the (mis) use? of Federal Tax Credits and CDBG grant monies raises a lot of questions.

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A few weeks ago, a website was posted on Facebook.  It’s a resource for people seeking low-income housing across the nation, updated 3/11/2015:

http://affordablehousingonline.com

When you enter 19464 zip code a list with photo’s appears, click on the photo of 519, the following information is provided:

Steps – King Street 
519 King St 
Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania 19464

Ownership Information
COMMUNITY HOUSING SERVICES INC (closed it’s doors in Feb. 2013 according to this article)<clik
311 N Broad St
Lansdale, PA 19446

Property Overview
Steps – King Street is an affordable apartment community located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania which is located in Montgomery County. The property is located in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District served by Representative Ryan Costello (R), Senator Patrick Toomey (R) and Senator Robert Casey (D).

Steps – King Street is an apartment community containing 10 assisted rental units. The property contains 13 assisted bedrooms and based on typical apartment occupancy limits, Steps – King Street is home to not more than 22† persons when fully occupied.

Funding Programs
Steps – King Street was developed and operates with Federal housing financing. The property utilizes 2 Federal housing programs to make rent affordable to lower income tenants. These programs are Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Community Development Block Grant.

^^The houses were back on my radar when I read about the financing sources.

In the summer of 2013:  a neighbor on the 500 blk of King St. expressed her concern about the conditions of 519 & 523 King St.  She said they had sat vacant for quite some time.  A search on the web indicated that they were owned by ….. MontCo.   I was astounded to think this is how the county would maintain their own properties, but again, it’s Pottstown, and that made it alright?  It’s not how they maintain Bright Hope with it’s park-like setting.

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Curiously, the state and county were clearly neglecting these Low-Income Housing Tax Credit,(LIHTC), Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funded properties and, of course, so was the Borough – (nothing new there).

The neighbor recalled that MontCo aka:  Community Housing Services sunk a ton of money into the interior of the homes which were occupied for a time then abandoned after the expenditure of the CDBG grant monies and the Tax Credits had been issued.

I first documented these properties in August 2013<<clik

Shortly after I wrote that post, the community received basic information about the LIHTC, low-income housing tax credits, courtesy of Genesis and Housing Visions.

We learned that tax credits are an IRS program and the developers that receive the credits, via the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, are (ostensibly) strictly regulated and, among other requirements, they must own the property for 30 years, maintained to the highest standards, with no tax liens or other encumbrances.

If there are exceptions to these requirements I can’t find them because of…

The untenable depth of government red tape surrounding the LIHTC program.  One more interesting fact –  PA Housing Finance Agency, by all appearances, was not holding MontCo in compliance.  Here is the link to PHFA’s Compliance Manual if you care to dive in. 

It’s Pottstown and nobody is watching?

In 2013, I wanted to know more about these properties and the thought occurred to me:

‘We have two well-run affordable housing organizations who are very familiar with Pottstown. I’d wondered if the county could sell these homes to Genesis or the Mosaic Community Land Trust, either of whom would be responsible stewards of the properties.

However, before I got very far with that thought, the houses were recorded showing a new owner on Oct. 31, 2013.  Montgomery County transferred them to a woman named Angela Sharpe, (married name Carrigan aka:  Angela D. Carrigan).

Note:  there were no FOR SALE signs or real estate listings indicating that these homes were for sale – ever – therefore no opportunity was given to the above mentioned housing organizations.

That raised a lot of questions in my mind. 

The property records indicate that 523 King St. sold for $1 to Angela and 519 King St. sold to her for $0 raising further questions about the mysterious sale of these homes.

TAX LIENS:  today, the property records indicate that both homes have liens but no civil suits have yet been filed. Clik on the link below vv type in “Sharpe Angela”…

Montgomery, Pennsylvania

Soon after the transfer, the trash was removed from the yards and exterior repairs were made – up to a point –  nothing has been done that would make the homes attractive additions to the neighborhood.

I’d put all of this on my back burner, until…

Feb. 2014, when an old friend stopped by to say that he had rented a small apartment in one of the houses.  He said it was nothing special but it would do.

Odd to him, he said, was the fact that Angela was/is associated with the clik>> Breakthrough Church Int’l. and, she was distributing questionnaires to prospective tenants about their “relationship with God.” (He brought me a copy which I will make available to anyone who would like to see it).

It was a theme that carried into her conversations with my friend, and other people, who’d inquired about renting from Angela in early 2014.

In fact, at about this same time in 2014, people at the Borough’s L & I  Dept. were sending those in need of housing to Angela Sharpe.

Residential income property owners are bound to Fair Housing Law, that states:

“The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and since 1974, gender; since 1988, the act protects people with disabilities and families with children.”

Whether or not Angela has denied housing to people based on their answers to the questionnaire is unknown.  However, doing so would be in violation of the law under any circumstances.

Given that these properties were funded with taxpayer monies via Tax Credits and CDBG grants, these questionnaires and “prying” into the private, personal religious beliefs of prospective renters is cause for alarm.

But again…

It’s Pottstown and nobody is watching.

Angela “Carrington” owns a rental in Norristown which also has  TAX LIENS.  This fact alone should immediately disqualify her from obtaining building permits and licenses in the State of PA, including rental licenses.  (Act 90 Neighborhood Blight and Reclamation), let alone she is benefiting from the CDBG grant money and Tax Credits.

Montgomery County Prothy <<clik for tax liens and other civil actions

Something doesn’t feel right about all of this.  From the County’s abandonment and sale of the property (prior to the 30 year LITHC requirement), to the lack of PHFA’s oversight and…

The fact that MontCo has made no effort to implement and utilize PA Act 90 to gain control of blight and slum properties, (which exist primarily in Pottstown and Norristown), when this law was designed to provide the very protections and relief desperately needed in both communities.

I have a lot of questions of the 6th Congressional District politicians and I’ll update this post with their answers.

**Late last year, several representatives of Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown met with Senator Mensch about Act 90.  He assured us that he would look into what it would take to implement the law in MontCo – the Committee has had no response from his office on this issue. 

Angela Sharpe (Carrington) owns properties in both of her names.  Her mailing address is listed on the property records as:

460003404973-0.jpg.html

219 Steeplechase Drive New Wales, Pa  Purchased in 2009 for $438,000 showing NO tax lien.  In 2010 Complaint in Mortgage Foreclosure was filed against owners Shawn and Angela Carrington, the case was closed,  this remains Angela’s mailing address on county records.

Angela appears to be living well, as you can see.

Below is the response that Angela Sharpe Carrington gave to a same sex couple in early 2014 when they contacted her about renting an apartment at 519/523 King St.

The couple was in the midst of an unresolved legal issue with their landlord that was being addressed by MontCo Legal Aid while they were in search of housing.   They were completely upfront with Angela about the particulars of their legal problem but Angela made no inquiries about their character or their solvency, she ran no background checks, instead, she wrote…  

“I prayed a lot after our conversation. I decided not to contact the Landlord because I really had no need to do so. I stand on the foundational principles of “good stewardship” which means that we must honor God through our actions. In the case where your landlord has been working with you to establish a payment plan based on the lease you agreed to, it’s only right that he be paid every penny of the $1100+ back rent because it’s what was agreed to by you. We will not accept anyone into our program with the abandonment of such debt. There are several other major discrepancies regarding the payment history, but you know the truth. Whatever the true case may be, it should be addressed wholly with the landlord and all applicable rents should be paid in full if they are due. After which time, we will consider anyone as a tenant in our program. I pray that God helps you to see that you must settle things there before moving on to the next place… how you deal with this situation has the power to affect your financial record in the future! Please resolve this situation — for you will be thanking me several years down the line for this powerful word of Christian advice. My Prayer is that God opens your heart with the power to receive this message in the true way it was lovingly sent. Wishing you the very best in the future. – Angela”

I hate to think that people in our community who most need safe, affordable housing, often seeking shelter – under duress – fearing homelessnes, are then subjected to Angela Sharpe’s invasive questions about their spirtual lives.

Then, they are either denied or accepted by her based solely on her relationship/consultation with her God resulting in the judgmental religiosity in the above correspondence.

I don’t approve of my tax dollars being used to support religious zealots or bigots and I fail to see how any of this can be construed as “foundational principles of good stewardship.”

Again, this is Pottstown and nobody is watching but…

I want to know if our Representatives,

  Pennsylvania Housing Finance and Montgomery County approve?

 

Lighten the load, Political Satire from The NEW Pottstown Leek….

Somehow I missed this post in the LEEK sometime back. Now…. you know this is right up my alley, along with the used, bed bug infested, pee stained matteress, dead pit bulls in dumpters and drug dealers.

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The Pottstown Leek <<<click to go to their Facebook page

Pottstown, Pa – New program intended to keep codes department off homeowners asses…

After many years of alleged unfair treatment by the codes department, homeowners in Pottstown will finally be offered the same level of “service” as slumlords.

“The Feedbag Program” as it is dubbed, is designed to offer the same level of “codes service” to all homeowners within the borough. “It’s simple.” says Bill Thing, Director of Codes Service, Enforcement, Reclamation and Retribution. “The homeowner signs up for an account on our website, links a savings account or credit card to their login and we take care of the rest.”

The monthly fee for membership to the program is $40 and it is deducted automatically each month. “It’s a piece of cake.” said Thing. “Once a member, all those annoying code violations are a thing of the past.”

“As long as you’re a current member and paid in full we don’t care if your damn house is falling down. If your neighbor calls to complain we do absolutely nothing. Chop it up and rent it out to criminals, we don’t care. Hell, go ahead and raise cattle in the back yard if you want, we don’t know anything about it.” Thing added.

Sign up begins April 31st.

574 Walnut St. Pottstown, Owner: William Heuer

IMAG0055This is an an excellent example of exterior doors I see on lots of rental properties in Pottstown.

CRIME PREVENTION THROUGH ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN

This concept has been evolving since it’s inception in the 1960’s.  Simplistically, it’s comprised of 4 elements:

  • cpted_prinTarget Hardening, at the center of the chart, is where properties are made safe for their occupants with window locks, solid deadbolt exterior locks, and so forth, aka: DETERRENTS.

    Combined with elements of good street lighting, natural surveillance and defining public from private spaces, CPTED is recognized by the Department of Justice as a vital deterrent to crime that goes hand in hand with Community Policing.

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574 Walnut St. is a crime, figuratively speaking.  In actuality, in its’ current condition – it is a place, a slum rental, waiting for crime to happen.

The tenant relays this information:

“The window was sealed shut.  I was told that wasn’t a violation of fire code, took 6 months to have it “fixed” no other Windows were done, even though he <William Heuer> was cited for them all …oh and let’s not forget the deadbolt …12 months of complaining this is all he’s done since I’ve been here and, even though its been freezing out the borough gave him another 90 day extension after I asked for another inspection in January because he never fixed violations from inspection that was performed in July 2014″

Figuratively speaking ^^^ that is a crime of negligence on behalf of Heuer and the Borough.

574 Walnut St. on the County Property site

574 Walnut St. on the County Property site

In actuality, this place needs to be off-limits to renters until it is made safe.

***I wouldn’t recommend renting this place in this condition, if you are looking for a place to live.  It’s especially not safe for women, children or the elderly.

vvv check County Records for all of Heuer’s income property addresses vvv

http://propertyrecords.montcopa.org/search/CommonSearch.aspx?mode=OWNER

In fact, you will want to beware of any properties owned by William Heuer.  Check his colorful history of civil lawsuits and evictions.  He’s been spreading joy and goodwill in Pottstown since the 1980’s.

In many towns across the nation, the Police Departments are responsible for Landlord Training, using the CSTED methodology, which you can read about here, on the DOJ’s COPS site, “Problem Solving Tools”

I suggest that by implementing the Better Landlord Program in Pottstown ASAP and, utilizing their expertise, the same objectives can be accomplished without adding to the work load of the police.  However it’s accomplished…

Removing opportunities for crime will benefit the work of the PPD, the L & I and make our town a whole lot safer and more attractive to law abiding people.

The winter of 2014/2015 is nearly behind us now and I can say – with all certainty – that Hell Froze Over in Pottstown.

Most Pottstownians anticipate Spring with mixed emotions, (IMPENDING DOOM) a friend just labeled it.  Crime becomes more evident on our streets and nuisance behaviors escalate.

I ask Council, after giving a nice reprieve to the landlords with safety inspections every 24 months ….

WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  IMPLEMENT THE BETTER LANDLORD PROGRAM.