Recovery House Challenge

I admit it.  I don’t get it.  Why does it take state legislation to regulate recovery houses in the city of Philadelphia?  Is there something in the constitution of the Commonwealth that prohibits a county or city from controlling this issue?

The Inquirer, for some reason today, decided to pay some attention to this issue.

Jorge Santana, a former chief of staff for State Rep. Tony Payton who volunteers for the lawmaker on special projects, walks by from Payton’s nearby Frankford office and shakes his head. “This is what we’re dealing with,” Santana says of the beat-up commercial corridor.

Along the 4300 block of Frankford Avenue, with its discount stores, fast-food joints, and vacancies, the building with the blue door is one of four recovery houses in a three-block stretch that also hosts an alcohol-treatment center.

“It’s hard to get businesses to open up here,” Santana says of the disinvestment along the avenue.

His aim is to help build community through economic empowerment. Part of the challenge lies in an entrenched market. In the last five years, Santana says, Frankford has become an epicenter for drug- and alcohol-recovery houses. On one block, a recovery house sits across from an Irish pub. On another, a recovery house sits paces from a well-trafficked drug corner.

You can read the rest of the story here.  Please comment and tell me why we have gone nowhere on this issue in the four years we have been blogging about it.

29 Comments on "Recovery House Challenge"

  1. Political Assassin | July 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    “Gorge Santana, a former chief of staff for State Rep. Tony Payton who volunteers for the lawmaker on special projects …”

    Are these Project Top Secret or is the Public allowed to know about it before hand?

    Here’s a comment or two, on why we have gone nowhere on this issue in the four years we have been blogging about it:

    Just as Jason Dawkins is not Maria Quiñones-Sanchez; George Santana is not State Rep. Tony J. Payton, Jr..

    Payton & his office have about as much business in meddling Philadelphia’s Zoning issues and attending Frankford Civic Meetings as Maria Quiñones-Sanchez has in driving out to Harrisburg, without an invitation, and dictating to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives about Frankford’s Problems.

    The only reason there is a concern right now is because “they” are trying to put a methadone clinic in Homesburg: http://neastphilly.com/2011/07/13/letter-to-the-editor-kevin-boyle-furious-over-approach-to-holmesburg-property/#more-11004 Rest assured it will eventually end up in Frankford.

    Lorraine said it best July 10th, 2011 at 11:03 am – On the Frankford Farmers Market thread; She Said:

    “Having Frankford become an “artist community” was a threat to many of the people in power at that time.

    Do we have enough people in Frankford now who are willing to bring Frankford out of its present ghetto status? I don’t know.

    Too many people have moved away from Frankford and the area has become a transient neighborhood. If we can’t get home owners and businesses in Frankford then we don’t have people who are invested in the community.

    Too many people in Frankford believe we need to provide services for people with drug problems, social problems and behavior problems.

    I attended a Frankford Civic meeting and at that meeting Jason Dawkins asked the civic president “What are you doing for our at-risk youth’?

    How about this Jason Dawkins: NOTHING! We have too many people in Frankford who focus on the criminal minded. . . .

    Too many people in Frankford believe we need to provide services for people with drug problems, social problems and behavior problems.

    I attended a Frankford Civic meeting and at that meeting Jason Dawkins asked the civic president “What are you doing for our at-risk youth’?

    How about this Jason Dawkins: NOTHING!”

    HERE IS MY ADDITIONAL COMMENTS TO THE PUBLIC ABOUT TONY PAYTON –

    TONY PAYTON, Jr. IS THE PROBLEM:

    There was an interview with Rep. Tony Payton, only a few months before “The Bridge.” 

    For those of you that do not know about “The Bridge” – it is a court ordered juvenile drug treatment program & detention center. 

    The Bridge may be the very best run program of this type in existence, but just as a rose is a rose – it is what it is  – no matter what name you chose – it is a Court Mandated Drug Treatment Facility for Juvenile Delinquents.

    With the aid of Tony Peyton’s political influence and against the will of the neighborhood – it will be built &  located on 1100 Adams Avenue between Castor & Wingohockin.

    How can Payton have it both ways? 

    One answer is – it would appear, because he is Tony Payton and does whatever he wants, but perhaps … (I always believe in the conspiracy theories) … perhaps there is an underflow of money twisting his brain, only to date, no-one has been able to find it.

    It matters not if “The Bridge” is incorporated as “Charity” or as a Non-Profit” – all the staff members are making a paycheck – while the owner/operators are making a profit. 

    It is financed with Public Tax Dollars.

    This will be stuck up the neighborhood’s craw for a long time – and I hope they remember Tony Payton’s actions at election time.  I know I will.

    The article speaks for itself in proving that our elected officials have absolutely no accountability to WE THE PEOPLE:

    Residents Decry Halfway Houses

    THURSDAY, 23 DECEMBER 2010 23:18
    WRITTEN BY GERRY CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON TRIBUNE CORRESPONDENT

    Frankford neighbors say area ‘out of control’ 
     
    When Craig moved to the 1600 block of Unity St. 13 years ago, he and his family enjoyed the tranquility of the quiet Frankford neighborhood.

    Now that peace has been disturbed, he and neighbors allege, by a recent surge in the area’s number of halfway house inhabitants, who roam in large groups, intimidate residents and decrease the quality of life in the area.

    Craig, 42, and his wife Lisa, 40 (they requested to withhold their last names), said that the recent spike in halfway houses has been shocking. 

    “This last year has been very explosive,” Lisa said. “Now it seems like a neighborhood out of control.”

    Lisa said she feels uneasy about the recent flood of unfamiliar, recently incarcerated men into a family-oriented area just a block away from an elementary school. 

    Her daughter’s car was broken into a few weeks ago, a crime she attributes to the new crowd.

    State Rep. Tony Payton said he is all too familiar with his constituents’ complaints and he shares their concerns. He counts more than 150 halfway houses within a two-mile radius of his offices at 4509 Frankford Ave.

    “It’s an oversaturation,” he said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t come to me with this issue.”

    Frankford’s halfway houses include a diversity of housing communities that board people recently released from jail or recovering from addiction.

    “Some are rehabs, some are slop houses and some are designated sober living communities,” Payton said.

    They are not regulated by zoning laws, so the barrier to entry is low. Also attractive to boarding house operators is Frankford’s large, cheap real estate, ideal for putting up a large number of tenants.

    Payton said these ingredients allow incompetent operators offering inadequate rehabilitation services to easily set up shop.

    “Some people have 10, 12, 15 guys in a house,” Payton said. “They’re just giving them a place to stay, but not addressing their addiction and job issues.”

    With halfway houses so unregulated and uneven in quality, Payton describes the effect on the neighborhood succinctly: “It’s chaos.”

    Hector Rodriguez, 42, agrees. He said that when he first moved to Unity St. a decade ago, the street’s moniker was a fitting description. “It was beautiful, it was safe,” he said. “We had block parties all the time. This block is a family.”

    However, with the onslaught of halfway houses within the last year, he complains of rowdy crowds of men putting longtime residents on edge. 

    “When you see them it’s like a riot,” he said. “They travel in packs.”

    Rodriguez said his major concern is for his family. Along with a toddler, he has an eight-year old son. 

    “There’s an elementary school around the corner,” he said. “We can’t have that.”

    Although Payton advocates revised zoning laws and higher real estate prices, he said the power to fight inappropriate halfway houses lies with residents, who have the legal right to challenge boarding house ordinances. 

    He [Payton] advises residents to keep their eyes open and speak up when something doesn’t feel right.

    “Whatever you see, make sure you report it,” he said. “You’ve got to let somebody know.”

    Craig and Lisa, who came to Frankford to escape the violence and drugs of their former Germantown neighborhood, are adamant about reclaiming their block despite their disappointment in its recent direction.

    “You can only run for so long,” Lisa said. “While we’re here, the best thing we can do is to fight for it.”

    Source of this story:

    http://www.phillytrib.com/tribune/phillynewsheadlines/16607-residents-decry-halfway-houses.html

    As an afterthought, “Councilman Rick Mariano … joked that some labor leaders would support Adolf Hitler if it meant more jobs—in front of a gathering of labor leaders.”

    Rick Mariano was right.

  2. Political Assassin states with regard to The Bridge: “With the aid of Tony Peyton’s political influence and against the will of the neighborhood – it will be built & located on 1100 Adams Avenue between Castor & Wingohockin”.

    I’m curious – is this a done deal? Has there already been a zoning hearing on this location? Is there any way the people of Frankford can stop The Bridge from moving into Frankford?

    I know Gov. Corbett will be cutting funding for drug treatment programs and I’m sure the Fed’s will be making additional cuts to these programs. How do you think this will affect the drug treatment programs and the recovery homes here in Frankford?

  3. There has been no zoning hearing to date. I have been watching the schedule and will post it when it comes up. Tony Payton is on the record as being in favor. Councilwoman Sanchez says she is waiting to see what the community wants before making a decision.

  4. NW Resident | July 15, 2011 at 8:40 am |

    Political Ass assin: sounds like you dislike every politician in existence. They are not superheroes that can create positive change at the bat of an eye. The ones in office are not the ones that created the blight in this neighborhood, but are now at task to clean it up. The residents who turn their backs and refuse to get involved are the ones to blame for the problems in THEIR neighborhood; and they are ultimately the ones who will have to fix it. Jorge Santana has done more to get the recovery house issues under control than you will ever know; and NO it is not top secret. Jorge has spoken publicly about the work and research he has done at many many meetings. For you to compare ‘The Bridge’ to the recovery house problems in Frankford just goes to show your ignorance and misguided vision of what a professional, properly run facility can do to set young people on the right track. As for Frankford’s recovery house issues they do not stop at the Philadelphia County line. In all 3 county jails Bucks, Mont, and Del there are people (inmates) who advise potential probation and parolees with drug habits on the ‘best’ recovery houses to request; and they are all in Frankford. By ‘best’ they mean the ones with no supervision, no rules, and properly located to get drugs at any time of the day or night. So now you can throw your prison and parole system into the mix and point some blame at them. All these cats need is an address of a relative in Philadelphia and they get approved to these Philly halfway houses. Bottom line is Philadelphia needs a jail that houses only drug dealers for years at a time as well as many of the repeat drug addicts that commit burglaries, thefts and all the other quality of life crimes that destroy neighborhoods. Partially fund the place with drug money seizures and drug property seizures. Currently most drug cases in Philly don’t even make it into a court room because there is nowhere to put all these offenders if convicted; and the dealers know it. Until the government stops protecting the criminals rights with this joke of a court system we have, decay will continue to happen in working class neighborhoods.

    I’ll leave this saying that guys like Jorge Santana who are passionate about seeing positive results derived from their work should not be derided by the people who sat back and watched their neighborhood go to hell. Instead you should contact him, Tony Payton, and any other politicians staff and ask what you can do to help them make your neighborhood livable again.

  5. Political Assassin | July 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm |

    NW resident – my last post was directed to our elected officials, not their shoeshine boy. Politicians are elected to work & support T he People.

    You are attempting to hijack the thread & change the subject and I do not care to read anymore of your disgusting rhetoric – you are damaged goods.

    You and your NWCA comrade supported this atrocity – please stop trying to sell it here, your wasting everyone’s time.

    The Ghost posted THE 1790 CONSTITUTION OF THE Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This has not changed:

    ARTICLE IX.

    “Sect. 2. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority…” This means the authority of the people – Get that?

    You long & inane post shows your own passions of how you enjoy laying naked & prostrate at the feet of elected officials like the church prostitute. How sickening,. How disgusting!

    “You can only run for so long.”

    Jason Dawkins is not Maria Quiñones-Sanchez; George Santana is not State Rep. Tony J. Payton, Jr., it’s been over a year: Recovery House Update June 22, 2010: http://gloomyhappy.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/recovery.jpg

    So where is the update? Where is the recovery for Frankford?

    Here’s the Update:

    ” State Rep. Tony Payton said he is all too familiar with his constituents’ complaints and he shares their concerns. He counts more than 150 halfway houses within a two-mile radius of his offices at 4509 Frankford Ave.

    “It’s an oversaturation,” he said. “There isn’t a day that goes by that somebody doesn’t come to me with this issue.” “Some people have 10, 12, 15 guys in a house,” Payton said.

    “They’re just giving them a place to stay, but not addressing their addiction and job issues.”

    Although Payton advocates revised zoning laws and higher real estate prices, he said the power to fight inappropriate halfway houses lies with residents, who have the legal right to challenge boarding house ordinances. 

    He [Payton] advises residents to keep their eyes open and speak up when something doesn’t feel right.

    “Whatever you see, make sure you report it,” he said. “You’ve got to let somebody know.” ” http://www.phillytrib.com/tribune/phillynewsheadlines/16607-residents-decry-halfway-houses.html

    Really, Mr. Representative Payton? Really!

    Kevin J. Boyle, Member, PA House of Representatives
Legislative District 172 says: ” The power to issue a license … rests with the state Department of Health. http://neastphilly.com/2011/07/13/letter-to-the-editor-kevin-boyle-furious-over-approach-to-holmesburg-property/#more-11004

    Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez serves as Chair of the Committee of Licenses and Inspections, Vice Chair of the Streets and Services, Appropriations; Labor and Civil Service; Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs; Commerce and Economic Development; Public Health and Human Services; Education; Housing, Neighborhood Development, and WE The People have been telling both of you.

    This means that if what Rep. Boyle is saying is true, then Tony Payton Jr., & Quiñones-Sanchez are either liars or incompetent as elected officials and should resign.

    Which is better for the neighborhood – Mariano patrolling Frankford Avenue on a bicycle with a gun in his waistband and chasing prostitutes off corners or two snakes belling up, conspiring and lying through their fangs?

    P.A.

  6. NW Resident | July 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm |

    Really, Mr. Representative Payton? Really!

    Yes, Really Political Ass assin.

  7. Political Assassin | July 15, 2011 at 6:55 pm |

    http://gloomyhappy.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/recovery.jpg

    Really, Mr. Representative Payton? Really! Where is your Recovery House Update of June 22, 2010?

    There is whole minion army of “Temple Prostitutes” & “Political Sodomites” who do the dirty work for our elected officials (Juniata & Northwood Civics are included), but the City is acutely aware of “the problem” and has been for many years.

    This is the worst type of discrimination – it is a conscience decision by a host (the City) to cannibalize & sacrificing one body-part (Frankford) so that the rest of the Body may survive.

    Sanchez & Payton both know – all of the city officials know that almost no “business” in Frankford’s business corridor is a “legitimate business;” having proper Licensure, Permits or Zoning Approval, but they refuse to shut them down – Why.

    I am not going to say that it may be because the City is overwhelmed and understaffed. NO, not saying that.

    I am not going to say that the City has filled so many jobs with unqualified family members, one may be hard pressed in choosing a name for it; calling it incest or nepotism.

    No. I can’t say that. Just call it “political patronage jobs” – another name for “payoff.”

    What I will say is: if the City did a clean sweep of Frankford – there would be nothing left.

    It is much easier to monitor the blight & contagion than to cure it – it must be contained in one area. It is better to leave all the dirty dingy places operate illegally, otherwise –

    Otherwise all of the social ills would end up someplace else.

    In order to immunize & preserve other viable neighborhoods, the City has shoved all the disease into one area – That area is Frankford.

    Betty Ford broke societal taboos. She made it cool for public figures to talk about their addiction & personal problems, she died Friday night. She was 93.

    She was the founder, and served as the first chairwoman of the board of directors, of the Betty Ford Center for substance abuse and addiction and is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal .

    But back here in Frankford, there is no Betty Ford Center to serve the drunken self indulgent politicians or the local pests.

    What we have here is a lot of mom & pop drug rehabs shoved into one community, making Frankford a dysfunctional co-dependent Victim of an out of control system:

    “putting one’s needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency
    Also:
    Victim mentality. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victim_mentality#Self-image_of_victimisation_.28victim_mentality.29

    To save the “whole body” of Philadelphia and end this cannibalism of our residential communities and the business corridors, what is necessary is Judicial Reform, (giving harsh penalties for violent crimes), coupled with Prison Reform.

    Because buying & selling heroin & coke is a crime, most drug addicts have criminal records.

    Give addicts a place to go – away from our homes.

    Build one or two Prison Hospitals for in patient & out patient – away from our homes & places of business.

    Perhaps Frankford will then heal.

    P.A.

  8. Who else is going to patronize the business’ of the Ave? I don’t need acrylic fingernails or weavins and I don’t wear sneakers. The last time I came close to buying anything on FKD Ave my car got towed (to the tune of $375 cold hard cash) because I parked it in the parking lot at FKD and Unity and walked around the corner, gone no more than five minutes, only to return and find my car missing. Was told by a passer by that there was a scam going on with the towing company and the quicky food shop in the strip mall. I walked home that night and was appalled by all the filth and debris clogging the sidewalks recently “re-done” in an effort to beautify the hood. What a joke. I remember too well how no Saturday went by when I wasn’t shopping from one end to the other. It’s been more years than I can say that there has been any kind of business appealing enough to risk my life in patronizing. Look at this place, who wouldn’t think it was ripe for halfway drug houses? it looks like the aftermath of an atom bomb movie. Even the library holds no appeal. Where do you begin to fix the problem of public apathy? Stop blaming the politicians and clean up the mess yourself.

  9. Barry N.W.C.A Pres | July 16, 2011 at 9:13 am |

    P.A. You seem to have a lot of Info on Recovery in Frankford ,Can you share any Info on how the METH CLINIC was set up on the 4600 Blk. of Frankford Ave .Im wondering why no one talks about that .Maybe you can help .Barry

  10. Political Assassin | July 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm |

    Barry N.W.C.A Pres -The question you are asking is not mine to answer.

    A & B Donuts Inc. 4600 Frankford Avenue. I do not know what clinic you are referencing?

    Our elected Representatives Sanchez & Payton have had the list for over a year: http://gloomyhappy.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/recovery.jpg

    Jorge Santana knows too:
    http://articles.philly.com/2011-07-14/news/29773569_1_houses-frankford-avenue-church-street

    Ask them about 4600 Frankford Avenue, they will talk to you & listen to you.

    They owe the Public some answers that are long overdue.

    Ask them why they have no answers. I cannot answer that them.

    Their silence is assassinating their future careers; perhaps not.

    Voter Apathy may still save them.

    P.A.

  11. Political Assassin | July 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm |

    Throw-down!

    The name of this thread is “Recovery House Challenge.” 

    The question posed was this: “Is there something in the constitution of the Commonwealth that prohibits a county or city from controlling this issue?”

    NW Resident notes in his opinion that I “dislike every politician in existence.”

    He grants our elected representatives a Pass, stating: “they are not super-heroes …” 

    They are not even heros. They are the narcissistic ego maniacs; the “Sarah Palin Prima-Donnas” of Philadelphia. 

    They are poster children – just another pretty face filling a seat in government, lacking proper education to lead. 

    They are intelligent enough to recognize their own self-ignorance, while being charismatic enough & fast on their feet to keep it hidden.

    This is not just indigenous to Philadelphia or any single party. 

    In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Washington D.C., there is plenty of incompetents in office taking up so much space – they should have been astronauts.

    They don’t know the Constitution, or the laws governed by it, but these are our elected leaders & law makers. That is part of the problem.

    Here’s the Throw-down:

    Tony Payton Jr., & Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez or Jason Dawkins or Jorge Santana, you have until Monday, July 18, 2100 at 12:00 noon to publicly post an answer on this message board to this question: 

    “Is there something in the constitution of the Commonwealth that prohibits a county or city from controlling this issue?”

    If you answer correctly – I will pay you many compliments give you an apology.

    If you collectively fail to answer, as I expect you will, I will answer the question for you. 

    My answer is a real killer – it will prove just how brilliant all of you really are.

    P.A.

  12. Yesterday afternoon I walked by NET on 4600 block of Frankford Ave. The people hanging around outside NET looked like they escaped from Gratersford Prison. One man was wearing an ankle monitor. There was a water ice/ice cream truck pulled up at the curb, which tells me these guys are hanging outside NET on a regular basis. Why doesn’t Tony Payton inform the people of NET that their “customers” should not be hanging outside their facility? If Tony Payton, Jorge Santana and Jason Dawkins really want to help “clean-up” the Avenue they should begin with NET.

  13. Barry N.W.C.A Pres | July 17, 2011 at 8:13 am |

    To P.A. Maybe I can ask the Pres. of the NWCA that was In office before me ???.Where was he at at that time ?. I knew he knew .My question is where was everyone when NET was buying that building and getting set up to bring these poeple into Frankford,and who was our reps. then . NOW LOOK WHAT WE HAVE. THROW -DOWN on that . I’ll take any heat for what I do ,like agreeing on the Bridge , where’s the other so called community reps or should I say where were they… I’ll take my heat ,where did every one else run to .. Barry

  14. What is the history of NET on Frankford Avenue?
    Who owned this building before NET?
    What person, group or politician was responsible for NET being put in Frankford?

    Barry, if you know the answers please enlighten everyone or tell me how I would go about finding the answers.

    I know the President of NET in Frankford is on the Board of Directors of the Frankford CDC, which makes me question how helpful the CDC is with regard to making the avenue a nicer place for people to shop. Having ex-convicts and drug addicts hanging out on Frankford Avenue will definately deter businesses from wanting to move into the area.

    I thought the people who run NET in Frankford stated there would be no loitering outside their facility. Well, there is loitering outside their facility and this is something Tony Payton, Jorge Santana and Jason Dawkins and the Frankford CDC should rectify.

  15. I only want to say,
    If there is a way,
    Take this cup away from me
    For I don’t want to taste its poison.
    Feel it burn me,
    I have changed.
    I’m not as sure, as when we started.
    Then, I was inspired.
    Now, I’m sad and tired.
    Listen, surely I’ve exceeded expectations,
    Tried for three years, seems like thirty.
    Could you ask as much from any other man?
    But if I die,
    See the saga through and do the things you ask of me,
    Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me, nail me to their tree.

    NWCA-Pres,

    You did not ask me a direct question but you are trying.

    I am still too busy attending Dr. Benjamin Rush’s blood-letting to indulge in drinking another “cup of poison.”

    I will not attend the NCA meetings because you & I cannot communicate in any civil manner, & I see no purpose in wasting what time we still have left.

    It was not my intention to enter this thread and add my comments, but since you have presented a question – I will answer un-interrupted.

    MR. Howell, on June 02, 2007 – while you and Mr. bANE were plotting my departure via impeachment by ex-post-facto by-law changes, Mr. Leonard Williams & myself were attending a Multi-Civic Breakfast Meeting at Liberty Bell Diner, Holmesburg.

    Attendees:
    Scott Cummings, Mayfair
    Stan Cywinski, Upper Holmesburg
    Bob Hall, Upper Holmesburg
    Peggy Hoch, Frankford
    Paul Kaufman, Holmesburg
    Loretta Kelly, Tacony
    Joe Menkevich., Northwood
    Leonard Williams, Northwood

    At that meeting, WE were discussing the Philadelphia Zoning Code & such.

    Civic Associations were winning too many cases at the ZBA. Certain politicians, who supported the Casinos & Gambling (John Taylor being one) were very concerned that the Civic Associations working in unison would become too “powerful.”

    They did not want any interference by the local inhabitants so “they” introduced a “stealth amendment stripping away WE The People’s right to protest:

    “Home Rule Act eliminated the Code’s grant of general taxpayer standing and gave Philadelphia taxpayers standing only if they were detrimentally harmed, i.e., ‘aggrieved,’ by the ZBA decision they sought to appeal.” Philadelphia’s Citizens lost – it was made law: “August 8, 2007, is hereby affirmed.”

    With much of your “apolitical” help & also a little from your politician friends – I had resigned from the NCA by September 2007:

    “Northwood hopes the third time is a charm
    By Tom Waring Times Staff Writer

    Northwood Civic Association is about to have its third president in the last couple of months.

    At last week’s meeting, members overwhelmingly elected Barry Howell.

    Howell replaces Gina Panchella, who took over when Joe Menkevich resigned in September. He defeated Tom McAvoy, 29-3.

    Only people who had paid their dues were permitted to vote, with just one ballot per household.

    State Rep. Tony Payton (D-179th dist.) was in Harrisburg but submitted an absentee ballot, which was rejected because he lives just outside the civic boundaries.

    In the race for vice president, Kathleen Fitzpatrick clobbered incumbent Michael Bane, 28-3. Howell and Fitzpatrick are close friends who both live on the 1200 block of Wakeling St.

    The president-elect, who will assume office in January, had been a member of the board of directors. The married father of two has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years.

    A few years ago, he was involved in the organized opposition to development of a parcel of ground at Adams Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard.

    And he was part of the unsuccessful bid to block COMHAR from moving 16 mentally ill individuals into a home on the 5100 block of Oxford Ave.

    The former longshoremen’s union boss said he’ll rely on his close ties to state Reps. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) and Payton and City Councilmen

    Dan Savage (D-7th dist.) and Darrell Clarke (D-5th dist.) to advance the association’s agenda.

    Howell helped engineer the departure of Menkevich and board member Len Williams. The rest of the board believed Menkevich ran disorganized meetings and was controlled by Williams.

    The incoming president complained that Menkevich spent too much time talking about the Historical Society of Frankford and Benjamin Rush’s connection to Greenwood Cemetery.

    He claims the former president did not focus on neighborhood crime and ignored the needs of residents who do not live in areas covered by the Burk deed restriction, which allows only single family homes.

    During his one-year term, Howell will try to build membership. He vowed to attract 200 people to meetings, and told the membership that they should choose a replacement if he can’t accomplish that in a year.

    “I am optimistic that Northwood can be the best community in the city of Philadelphia,” he said. “I think we can be better than Society Hill, Chestnut Hill and Northern Liberties.” […NORTHEAST TIMES, NOVEMBER 29, 2007]

    But during the Summer months while all Civics are on vacation, things were being posted on the Philly Blog -Tuesday, August 7, 2007, “Amythatch QUOTE:

    I’m not as diplomatic as Gene, I’m afraid. Perhaps because I live in Frankford where yes, Jim McCarthy and others have privately sold the bank building to NET – a drug and violence treatment center.

    Mr. McCarthy was soundly (and rightly so, in my eyes) trounced by the vivacious, concerned and diligent members of the Frankford Civic Association, with whom I am deeply honored to share a community.

    He was trounced not to drag him through the dirt, but because he has the means and at least USED TO HAVE a vision. I take it he was a community leader of sorts. So, people here are really pissed since he IS a nice guy who is shocking everyone by selling out to a drug rehab.

    There were some restictions agreed to by NET when they bought from McCarthy and the others; no methadone, clients will “be controlled (though he didn’t know how), and more vagely, that NET “cannot negatively impact the community”, but he didn’t seem to know how that one would play out OR how, if any of the restriction agreements were broken, NET would be held accountable.

    In general I found the information depressing and I’m mad as hell. ..end quote”

    NWCA-Pres,
    Here is your cup of poison, NET happened on your watch:

    “Treatment center hits a wall in East Frankford
    09/13/2007 By Diane Prokop Times Staff Writer

    Representatives from NorthEast Treatment Centers faced a packed room of opposition at the East Frankford Civic Association last week.

    NET purchased the Third Federal Bank building, 4625 Frankford Ave., earlier this summer from Frankford Associates and intends to provide behavioral health care and social services for adults and youth out of the facility.

    The organization has provided like services for adults, children and their families for 37 years in southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.

    NET President Terry McSherry, director Joseph Schultz, unit director Jennifer Herman, along with other NET representatives came to offer answers to the community’s questions and concerns.

    Dan Lodise, chief of staff for State Rep. Tony Payton (D-179th), Liz McCollum-Nazaria, chief of staff for Councilman Dan Savage (D-7th), Democratic candidate for 7th City Councilmanic District Maria Quinones-Sanchez, 15th Police District commander Capt. Frank Bachmayer and Sgt. Scott Drissel were also in attendance.

    McSherry told meeting attendees that his goal was to bring NET’s services to where the people are who need them. According to the organization’s census, half of their clients reside in the 19124 and 19134 zip codes.

    Civic members countered that those figures may be skewed by a population of parolees that reside in Frankford’s halfway houses.

    Not counting the NET building, from Griscom Street to Leiper Street and from Edmund Street to Wakeling Street there are 13 halfway houses or drug rehabilitation centers.

    McSherry assured residents that the facility would not dispense methadone.
    “It’s in the deed,” he said.

    The sale of the property was contingent on several restrictions, including prohibiting the building’s use as a residential facility, prohibiting dispensing of pharmaceuticals such as methadone, not negatively impacting the residential community, and following rules and practices to control clients.

    Only about half of what NET will do at the facility is geared toward adults with behavioral health, mental health and drug rehabilitation services. The other half is related to children’s issues.

    NET intends to offer youth programs on the first floor of the building, adjacent to the bank, which will remain as a tenant. Adult services will be offered on the second floor of the building which is proposed to be accessed by a rear doorway that goes right up to the second floor. (The civic association is familiar with the building as it used to meet in a second floor conference room there before moving to the Frankford Hospital conference room.)

    NET’s Jennifer Herman explained that 70 percent of the children that will receive services there are from Warren G. Harding Middle School.
    “It looks like an after-school program,” Herman said of the Adolescent Violence Reduction Partnership (AVRP).

    Fifteen to 18 at risk children will receive academic assistance, a link to social services, as well as receive services through the Mural Arts program, developing murals for the community. The students will be picked up after school, driven to NET and then driven to their individual homes.

    While no one denied that NET offered its clients a valuable, quality program, the consensus was that community residents don’t want them in their backyard.

    While the front doors to the building are on Frankford Avenue – a commercial corridor — the back of the building faces a residential neighborhood, with new homes and senior housing.

    The Frankford residents blasted NET telling them that their backyard was already full of treatment centers and halfway houses and they didn’t want any more.

    “We’re trying to bring Frankford back up. We want good things,” one member said.

    Another sore spot for residents is the fact that NET didn’t come to them first, before they bought the building.

    “We seldom get a fair shake from community groups,” McSherry told those gathered. “They have a shorter view than I do. I’ve been doing this for 27 years and believe the world is a little better off,” McSherry said.

    When one member suggested the civic agree to a two-year trial period for NET, Hoch said she wouldn’t give them two days.

    “We’ve been spit on and stomped on enough. I really resent that you did this with the idea that you don’t have to talk to us,” Hoch said.

    She held up a copy of Transportation and Community Development Initiative plans for the Frankford Avenue corridor. City planners, consultants and community stakeholders met for months to come up with the 2006 plan for revitalization along the Frankford corridor.

    “Who’s going to want to come here now,” she asked.

    Jennifer Powell Folks told NET that if they were to only offer youth services at the facility, she would support them.

    “I’m okay with AVRP youth services. The alternative is that they’ll be on my corner…We have one of the highest concentrations of youth offenders.

    We have to provide them with services or they’ll continue to abuse us,” she said as much to the membership as to NET.

    On the other hand.

    “You’re going to have issues if you have adult services. Just the perception alone challenges us. You’ll work with us or you’ll have issues with us,” Powell Folks said.

    While difficult to financially envision, we would consider all possibilities, McSherry said in a follow-up phone call on Friday.

    According to Dan Lodise, Payton’s office will work with NET to organize a meeting with Paul Street neighbors.

    “We certainly intend to have a neighborhood advisory council, distribute a periodic newsletter, widely publish a hotline with any concerns or questions in regards to the site,” McSherry said.

    The meeting ended without a satisfactory solution for anyone involved. Still Hoch believes it still achieved something important.

    “I think it accomplished a rude awakening for these people.

    They come into the neighborhood, see how many are in the neighborhood and plop themselves down.

    We’re not kidding about it. We’ve had enough.

    I don’t care who they are,” civic association president Peggy Hoch said.”
    Reporter Diane Prokop can be reached ….(not with NE Times any longer)

    Northeast Times October 11, 2007
    East Frankford Civic to petition against NET

    Excerpts: “Community members were upset that they weren’t consulted before NET purchased the property from Frankford Associates. Since NET didn’t require any zoning changes, it wasn’t required to meet with the community or civic association.”

    Northeast Times – Dec 13, 2007 – Excerpts:

    Northwood Civic Association’s newly elected president Barry Howell told those gathered that he agreed they are all Frankford and needed to hit the rehab centers and halfway houses in their pockets.

    “They’re funded by the city of Philadelphia with our money…Addicts don’t pay. We’ve got to stop the funds,” he said.

    Howell drew applause when he said that they needed to change course and work together.

    “We’ve got to stand up — all our civic groups,” he said.

    NWCA-Pres:

    Finish what I started
    What you started
    Before I change my mind.

  16. Barry N.W.C.A Pres | July 18, 2011 at 6:17 am |

    Get your facts strait ,thats not my question we all know when NET became public,but when was the sales deal cut. And who was at the table then..Drinking The Poison . To P.A. where’s your facts about NET. I know when I became Pres.that’s not the point ,the real point is why is everyone with the so-called facts ducking NET . PA.Im willing to deal with you at any time and you can set me strait , but I hope your not who I think you are,If so you have no credibility with me you can craw back under the blog rock you bin hideing since you got run out of NORTHWOOD. Lorraine I have no Idea who cut the deal with Net,but I don’t believe it was Sanchez or Payton. But the question is why is every one who is cocerned about recovery in Frankford leaving them off the hook,Don’t you guy’s think that the guy’s who get thier juice there live in these scummy recovery house’s . GET REAL BARRY

  17. I’m not letting NET off the hook. It appears, from the information given by NCA President – Emeritus, that many of the promises made by NET have been broken. If nothing else, Barry, this should have made you sceptical of the promises The Bridge was making. I would love NET to move out of Frankford but I don’t see that happening unless the “powers that be now”, namely Payton, Sanchez, Santana, and the Frankford CDC, make things uncomfortable for them by making them stick to the promies made back in 2007.

    Do we know for a fact that NET is dispensing drugs?
    We do know that NET has ex-cons and drug addicts hanging outside their facility which means NET is having a negative impact on our community.
    NET stated that 70% of the people they serve are youth. I only see adult males haning outside.

    I agree with you Barry on this. Who is protecting NET and why aren’t they being held accountable to the promises they made? I don’t think we can count on the Frankford CDC considering the President of NET is on their Board of Directors. Any suggestions?

  18. Political Assassin | July 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |

    Throw-down! “Is there something in the constitution of the Commonwealth that prohibits a county or city from controlling this issue?”

    Rep Tony Payton Jr., & Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez – you have been charged with Constitutional Illiteracy.

    Rep Tony Payton Jr., & Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, you have failed to answer the questions by the deadline of Monday, July 18, 2100 at 12:00 Noon, even though both have had several years to do so.

    You have been judged & are found GUILTY as charged.

    OPINION:

    When confronted with Constitutional issues, a prudent thing to do would be to confer with your legal department and ask them if you did not fully understand.

    Maria Sanchez has a battery of lawyers within the City’s Solicitors Department; while Rep. Tony Payton Jr. has the whole State Law Library available, yet both have failed to use the resources at their disposal.

    You should have both just told the truth to the Public, that you simply have never looked into the Constitution or current case law, or that you do not know.

    More condemning is if you did know the law and withheld the information; you have assassinated your own political careers.

    I give a pass to Mr. Jason Dawkins & Mr. Jorge Santana, but you owe then an apology to force them to take the heat for your ignorance.

    The answer to this question: “Is there something in the constitution of the Commonwealth that prohibits a county or city from controlling this issue,” is:

    YES there is, and this will really disappoint Holmesburg.

    Just about the time NET came to Frankford, this became Law:

    Pa. Law on Methadone Clinic Locations Struck Down

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) – June 18, 2007 — A Pennsylvania law restricting methadone clinics within 500 feet of parks, places of worship and residential neighborhoods is struck down.

    A federal appeals court says the law violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against heroin addicts.

    The case involved a proposed clinic in Reading, in Berks County. Lawyers for the clinic say the city of Dubois in Clearfield County used the same state law to reject a similar proposed clinic early this month.

    Methadone is a synthetic narcotic used to treat heroin and opium addicts.
    (Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    (Copyright ©2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    SEE:

    Ruling could expand options for methadone clinics in Pa.
    By Brian Bowling, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Thursday, July 12, 2007

    Communities will have a harder time rejecting methadone clinics in light of a federal appeals court ruling involving a proposed clinic in Reading.

    A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 15 that a state law restricting the placement of methadone clinics violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

    The state law banned methadone clinics within 500 feet of churches, schools, playgrounds, parks, homes and child-care facilities.

    The decision doesn’t mean clinics can be built anywhere, but it significantly increases the options, said Mike Dokmanovich, chief executive officer of Freedom Healthcare Services of Bethel Park.

    “I don’t think this ruling is going to make these facilities pop up on every corner,” he said.

    Methadone clinics have become an issue in the past decade as operators seek to build or expand facilities to meet a growing patient base.

    The number of people admitted for heroin addiction in Pennsylvania grew from 13,261 to 21,491 between fiscal years 2001 and 2006, according to the state Health Department. The number of licensed methadone clinics in the state increased from 28 to 46.

    Health Department spokeswoman Larissa Bedrick said the state doesn’t believe the statistics reflect an increase in drug abuse. Instead, the numbers show that more drug users are seeking help, she said.

    More than a dozen area communities have dealt with methadone clinics in some fashion in the past decade. At least a half-dozen have rejected proposed locations for the treatment centers, and several others have adopted ordinances or modified zoning laws to restrict where clinics can be set up.

    Southwest Greensburg and New Castle used the 500-foot law to reject Freedom Healthcare proposals this year. Monroeville rejected a company proposal based on its zoning law — but the ruling could affect the municipality if Freedom Healthcare decides to look at areas in Monroeville that were off-limits under the state law.

    “We’re going to take a firmer stance with municipalities, because they can’t discriminate,” Dokmanovich said.

    Hampton used the 500-foot limit in 2003 to reject Addiction Services Inc.’s plan to locate a clinic on Route 8. To bar the clinic, the township designated a museum as a “park” and a travel agency that uses student interns as a “school.”

    An Allegheny County judge upheld Hampton’s decision. Addiction Services, of Uniontown, has appealed the ruling to the Pennsylvania Human Rights Council.

    One of the company’s owners, Roz Sugarmann, said she can’t comment on how the ruling could affect Addiction Services’ appeal, but she said the ruling overturns a “ridiculous” law.

    “The discrimination is phenomenal. No other treatment clinic has to locate themselves 500 feet away,” she said. “It’s all ignorance, and it’s people not understanding that addiction is a disease and not a moral deficiency.”
    Hampton Council president Victor Son said the state law is based on the public policy of keeping concentrations of adult drug addicts away from areas frequented by children. Son said Hampton made several calls to the state Attorney General’s Office urging the state to appeal the decision.
    “I would think that every resident in Pennsylvania is interested in seeing the AG appeal that,” he said.

    The state and Reading are discussing whether to appeal the decision, said a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office.

    The 3rd Circuit ruling found that the city and state failed to provide evidence linking methadone clinics with increased criminal activity, traffic congestion, loitering, noise pollution, double parking or jaywalking. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_516775.html

    SEE:

    [PDF] IN THE COMMONWEALTH COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA Habit OPCO, : Appellant. See New Directions Treatment Servs. v. City of Reading. (New Directions), 490 F. 3d 293 (3rd Cir. 2007).
    http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/pennsylvania/commonwealth-court/2312cd10_4-21-11-3.pdf

    P.A.

  19. Barry N.W.C.A Pres | July 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |

    Lorriane First who made the agreement with NET and where is it at,who voted on it I have never seen a agreement or written promise,with the Bridge I have a signed aggrementvoted on by two Civics. After reading these blogs I feel more confident I made The right decision ,Just look at how bad a meth clinic would be at that property. They could serve thousands.. I have never seen any kids hanging there.Also I don’t think this is a joke. I feel sorry for the hard working poeple of Frankford who have to put with crap.I guess I will have to back away from this issue ,to many poeple gave into these poeple .Alot of groups makeing money on it. SAD GOOD LUCK Barry

  20. P.A. Thanks for that information. It puts a whole new light on the situation with NET. They are within their rights to dispense drugs and I guess the ex-cons and drug addicts can hang outside the facility so long as they aren’t causing a disturbance. Also, as you stated, the situation in Holmesburg doesn’t look that positive either.

    It’s good to have someone on this blog who knows the laws.

  21. NW Resident | July 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm |

    It sounds like everyone is in agreement that no one wants these facilities in their neighborhoods. That should be the end of the discussion and our government should listen to the majority of the people who say ‘NO’ to this service; after all it’s our money funding it. We as taxpayers are being forced to fund these unwanted programs while the city and state are forced to cut school, police, and fire budgets. Maybe if we had the capacity in our police department to rid the city of the rampant drug problem then this service wouldn’t be necessary; but we can’t hire cops because we have to support junkies. By introducing more and more of these clinics and allowing them to become prosperous businesses is basically throwing in the towel and saying it’s OK to be a burden to society and do drugs; rob, steal, and burglarize to support your habit. Don’t worry about all that, we’ll take care of you because your habit is more important than everyone else in the neighborhood. If you make the choice to do drugs then you should be left to fend for yourself like everyone else. Why do we have to support the same irresponsible people that cause us so much misery in our lives?

  22. Barry N.W.C.A Pres | July 18, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

    To All, Only one more piece of info I must say, my term of Pres. of NWCA.started Jan.1st.2008 so take me of the hook so I can sleep good tonight.Thanks to all. BARRY

  23. Political Assassin | July 18, 2011 at 9:35 pm |

    There is no difference between the Betty Ford Clinic and a Methadone Clinic, except the clientele.

    Betty Ford Clinic will get the affluent & wealthy – a Linsey Lohan or a Rush Limbaugh.

    Small Methadone clinics will get Vietnam Veterans or car accident victims, who became addicted by Prescribed Pain Medications due to Car Accident Injuries, Arthritis etc. & yes addiction to Heroin.

    NW Resident Says: “It sounds like everyone is in agreement that no one wants these facilities in their neighborhoods.”

    I do not agree with you.

    The genius in the Constitution protects the RIGHTS of the worst prisoners to the worst pedophile priests.

    It protects people of every nationality & color & language, from the elderly, the chronically ill, the handy-capped & the mentally retarded …. and even a drug addict with AIDS is protected.

    Sometimes the Constitution kicks you & your opinion in the teeth. This is one of those kicks in the teeth.

    In the beginning, my point was:

    Why have our Sanchez & Payton keep jerking the community around since 2007, when they could have just invoked the Constitution & the ADA? It was the easy out! They did not.

    Their lack of response proves either a lack of intelligence or an intent to deceive the Public.

    Here’s a straight forward question:

    Lorraine Says: “Many of the promises made by NET have been broken. … Who is protecting NET and why aren’t they being held accountable to the promises they made?”

    Why? Why cannot there be an enforcement to the agreements?

    How about this as an answer:

    These agreements with the Community are usually called a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) and usually require the formation of a committee.

    Let’s call it a Community Relations Council. In a typical MOA, it is expected that members of the “Community Relations Council,” (who are unpaid volunteers of their own Civic), will attend the meetings at the Drug Treatment Facility.

    Entering this MOA is a common error committed by many communities.

    Attorneys well know that these agreements are doomed to fail because there is no possible way (legally) to achieve an enforcement action.

    It is also desirable (by these businesses) that the civic members will get tired of attending more meetings on top of their own civic meetings.

    It should be the other way around.

    These “businesses” making a MOA should be required to attend the Civic Association’s meetings and give a report which is always open to inspection.

    More on Drug Treatment.

    490 F. 3d 293 – New Directions Treatment Services v. City of Reading

    “The Pennsylvania statute imposes a ban on the establishment of methadone clinics within 500 feet of many structures, including schools, churches, and residential housing developments. …

    However, this ability of municipalities to waive the statutory ban in no way alters the fact that 53 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. § 10621 facially singles out methadone clinics, and thereby methadone patients, for different treatment, thereby rendering the statute facially discriminatory. …

    We have no doubt that some methadone patients are inclined to criminal or otherwise dangerous behavior. However, in the words of the Arline Court:
    The fact that some persons who have contagious diseases may pose a serious health threat to others under certain circumstances does not justify excluding from the coverage of the Act all persons with actual or perceived contagious diseases.

    Such exclusion would mean that those accused of being contagious would never have the opportunity to have their condition evaluated in light of medical evidence and a determination made as to whether they were “otherwise qualified.” Rather, they would be vulnerable to discrimination on the basis of mythology—precisely the type of injury Congress sought to prevent. …

    We need not reach the question of whether 53 PA. CONS.STAT. ANN. § 10621 facially violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as the statute fails the less stringent tests required by the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.”
    http://openjurist.org/490/f3d/293/new-directions-treatment-services-v-city-of-reading

    P.A.

  24. P.A.
    Thank you for reminding me of the wisdom of our Constitution.

    The treatment centers and recovery homes will go into neighborhoods where the cost of the buildings are low, low cost rentals and very low taxes. You won’t find drug treatment centers in Rittenhouse Square area or Northern Liberties, unless they are very upscale, because the cost to buy or rent is much too high.

  25. I observed that there is an AA program on Frankford Avenue that no one seems to complain about that to my knowledge doesn’t cause any problems in the neighborhood. Perhaps some one from there could share their expertise in in running treatment programs that are not a nuisance? Just a thought.

  26. Political Assassin | July 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |

    It would not surprise me if the Methadone Clinics formed a lobby stating that they were helping win the “War on Terror” by cutting the American Consumption of Heroin & Opiates that are being produced by the Taliban in Afghanistan:

    Drugs for guns: how the Afghan heroin trade is fuelling the Taliban insurgency

    Russian gangsters who smuggle drugs into Britain are buying cheap heroin from Afghanistan and paying for it with guns.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/drugs-for-guns-how-the-afghan-heroin-trade-is-fuelling-the-taliban-insurgency-817230.html

    The Spoils of War:
    Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO404A.html

    OR perhaps in another time and and another life, Pennsylvania Legalizes the Use of Medical Marijuana – The City of Philadelphia passes a new Bill dealing with dispensaries being in “Special Services Districts”

    Frankford is chosen as that place because of all the Methadone Clinics –

    Frankford become the Amsterdam of the East Coast. Medical Marijuana Clinics are opening everywhere – there is a Real-estate & Tourism Boom. Frankford gets dubbed the “Coolest Place in the City” to live.

    Greatful Dead music plays 24/7 on speakers under the EL.

    No one can afford to buy a property on the Frankford Ave., as property values soar and we are still on this message board talking about the “new class” of Medical Marijuana Junkies littering the streets – (who are stoned & laughing so hard they can’t even walk).

    Back to today’s reality: Our elected officials are the ones Rolling on the Floor Laughing …

  27. Political Assassin | July 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm |

    When I first started in this “Challenge” I was very ignorant & full of prejudice on various levels – yes about Methadone, Drug Addiction, Pain Management and the Constitution. I have learned a lot from the materials I have found.

    When I posted earlier about Medical Marijuana earlier – I was not serious and then some news broke in New Jersey and I start thinking … you never know the future.

    I have some new thoughts on our Future Zoning Laws & will post latter.

    Today’s News:

    Christie says medical marijuana law can go forward [video]
    TUESDAY, JULY 19, 2011    LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY JULY 19, 2011, 4:33 PM
    BY SUSAN K LIVIO

    STATE HOUSE BUREAU

    TRENTON – Governor Christie said Tuesday he has directed the state health department to “move forward as expeditiously as possible” with the state’s medical marijuana program he put on hold in April, while awaiting for assurances from federal law enforcement officials that state employees and licensed growers would not be vulnerable to prosecution.

    Christie said he never got a clear answer from federal officials. But after analyzing a memo from the U.S. Justice Department last month, reading comments Barak Obama made when he was a presidential candidate in 2008, and reflecting on own experience as the former U.S. Attorney, he said going ahead with the program was worth however small the risk.

    “My desire all along has to bring compassionate care to the people who need it the most,” the  governor said at an afternoon press conference at the State House. 

    “This is a narrow and medically-based program that will not lend itself to abuses that we have seen particularly in California and Colorado,” he added.

    In April, the governor delayed launching the program out of concern raised by other governors and mayors around the country that state employees affiliated with the program could run the risk of arrest by federal law enforcement officials.

    Possessing and selling marijuana remains a federal crime, despite 16 states enacting medical marijuana laws for select patients.

    The delay frustrated patients, who had been told the drug would be available this summer. The Department of Health and Senior Services in March announced six alternative treatment centers, the nonprofits that successfully competed to be the only sanctioned source of marijuana, could begin building their operation.

    When patients will be able to buy pot and acquire a state identification card stating their physicians had recommended marijuana, remains unclear. Most of the center operates have said they held off on signing building leases and hiring employees until the governor gave them the go-ahead. Growing and cultivating can take several months, center operators say.

    Roseanne Scotti of the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey said the governor’s decision made many terminally and seriously chronically ill patients happy.

    “Obviously you have to get something up and running, but in any case we can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Scotti said. “Patients had no hope.

    Now the health department is moving forward and the governor said we would be getting more information in the next week.

    We are hoping they can get up as quickly as possible and patients get relief as quickly as possible.”

    Christie said he had not spoken to U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman to ask him whether he will focus law enforcement time and attention on New Jersey’s medical marijuana operators.

    But he asked himself what he would have done if there was such a law during his tenure. “I would not have,” he said. …more:
    http://www.northjersey.com/news/state/Christie_to_make_medical_pot_announcement_today.html

  28. Assassin of Political Assassin | July 19, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    Christie sabotages medical marijuana program

    Published: Sunday, December 19, 2010, 5:30 A

    Lisa Segal wakes up every morning locked in a fetal position, her muscles in spasm from multiple sclerosis.

    She’s 59 years old, and has tried everything. The only medicine that relaxes those muscles and settles her nausea is marijuana.

    So when her supply runs out, she drives an hour from her Gloucester County home to Philadelphia, and walks the streets to buy pot, leaning on her cane.

    It scares her to death, but it’s better than spending her remaining years curled up in bed, in pain.

    “These are not people I want to deal with,” she says. “I have nightmares that the police are going to come into my house and arrest me.”

    The medical marijuana movement aims to end this official cruelty, and allow people like Segal to live in dignity. That was the idea, anyway, when the Legislature passed the law last year. It was supposed to be up and running by now.

    But thanks to Gov. Chris Christie, this effort has gone terribly off track. So Segal still has to sneak to Philly for her fix, like a criminal.

    “The way the rules are written now, I’ll have no choice but to continue doing what I’m doing,” she says.

    The rules drafted by the Christie administration amount to bureaucratic sabotage. And the political and legal fights they have sparked mean the delay is certain to continue for months.

    One rule places a limit on potency, so the legal pot can’t be as strong as the varieties Segal can find on the street. Home delivery was allowed at first, and then banned, for reasons the Department of Health will not explain.

    If a doctor wants to prescribe pot, he needs to warn patients every three months that some experts believe this treatment is ineffective, and that marijuana can be addictive.

    Each distribution center can carry only three strains of pot, and hold no excess inventory. They can’t make pot cookies or brownies, even for patients with cancer or AIDS who have lung problems.

    You get the idea. Sure, the law is on the books. But it was signed by former Gov. Jon Corzine, and Christie never liked it. So he is trying to strangle this baby in its crib by drafting one unworkable rule after another. Call it bureaucratic sabotage.

    And Democrats, true to form, are divided and ineffective in the face of another Christie hurricane.

    Sen. Nick Scutari, a prime sponsor, is taking a hard line. He wants to block implementation of the law until Christie agrees to stop the sabotage.

    Resolutions that require a rewrite of the rules have passed both houses.

    But Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, the other sponsor, cut a separate deal with Christie to make a few changes, and hope for the best later on.

    “It’s not perfect,” Gusciora says. “But I figured let’s at least get it started, and with time and people complaining it could be expanded.”

    That divide among Democrats is giving Christie a new opportunity to delay.

    His spokesman, Mike Drewniak, says the administration will redraft the rules based on the compromise with Gusciora, not the more demanding resolutions passed by both houses. So the Legislature may reject the revised rules, creating yet another delay.

    “At every juncture, there is a new obstacle,” Scutari says. “Christie is a master of divide and conquer, and he obviously realized I’d be tougher to negotiate with, so he went to Reed.”

    Christie’s fear is that New Jersey could wind up like California, where Gen Xers skateboard to the pot clinics for a cure to their “headaches.” So he’s swung the pendulum in the other direction, drafting the tightest rules in the country by far.

    And patients are paying the price. Mike Oliveri, a Jersey native living in California, is withering away with muscular dystrophy. He can’t live in his home state, he says.

    “I’m a patient, and I’m dying,” he says. “This is a complete political game.”
    Segal has found a friend in Philly who buys pot for her on occasion, so she may not have to walk the streets as often.

    If she could talk to the governor, she says, she’d give him this simple message: “Take the politics out of this and find the compassion in your heart. You are dealing with severely sick patients.”

    Tom Moran may be reached at tmoran@starledger.com or (973) 392-5728.
    http://blog.nj.com/njv_tom_moran/2010/12/post_1.html

    Assassin of Political Assassin

  29. Just think of all the money and law enforcement man hours we could save if we stopped chasing pot heads around. All the violent drug dealers and cartels who would be put out of business overnight because there would be no need for them any more. Imagine all the open jail cells we could put rapists and pedophiles in instead of pot heads. Imagine all the money we would save on inarcerating pot heads every year at over 70k a year each! Imagine a court docket that was free to try crimminals and lock them up! Imagine the tax revenue our elected officials could waste on their patronage projects. Think of all the new businesses and jobs pot clinics would create. I wonder what the commercials would look like for pot brands? Imagine that.

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