Vol. I No. 109
Keeping You Posted With The Politics Of Philadelphia
December 1, 2010
STATEWIDE CELEBRATION of passage of Penna. Adult Protective Services Act took place yesterday at Phila. offices of Vision for Equality. Advocates and staffers from across Delaware Valley gathered to mark successful completion of a seven-year campaign to pass legislation which now offers protection to vulnerable people between the ages of 18 and 54. From left are Audrey (Dee) Coccia, executive director of Vision for Equality, who presented an award to Rep. Babette Josephs for her leadership in championing the bill in the State House of Representatives, and Kathy Sykes, director of Philadelphia Intellectual Disability Services (formerly Mental Retardation Services). Photo by Bonnie Squires
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Pa. Dems Ask Corbett To Remove Transition Team Member Ana Puig Tom Corbett named his transition team and controversy is already erupting. A member of his transition team, Ana Puig, came to prominence by giving speeches across the country, arguing President Barack Obama is a Marxist dictator. In an interview, she agreed the “left wing” was in alliance with radical Islam and President Obama was using a Communist agenda to implement a religious agenda, implied to be an Islamic agenda. Puig also claimed Muslims are “infiltrating” Europe. Puig is a member of the Education Committee on Corbett’s transition team. “Tom Corbett should be ashamed of naming an individual with a history of hateful, extreme and inflammatory speech to his transition team,” said Mark Nicastre, a spokesman with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “Tom Corbett’s decision to include Ana Puig on his transition team raises significant questions about his judgment. Tom Corbett should immediately remove Ana Puig from his transition team and conduct a throughout audit of his team to provide assurances to the people of Pennsylvania that the other members of his THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD
transition team are fit to serve the state.”
Pennsylvanians Reminded To Apply For 2011 Dog Licenses By Jan. 1 Pennsylvania dog owners are reminded to apply for required 2011 dog licenses before the Jan. 1 deadline, Deputy Secretary for Dog Law Enforcement Jessie Smith said today. All dogs must be licensed. Failure to license a dog is a summary offense and could result in a maximum fine of $300 for each unlicensed dog. “Applying for a license is a simple and inexpensive way to ensure your dog will be cared for in the event of an emergency,” said Smith. “If your pet gets lost, a license is the easiest way to identify the owner and return the dog home safely.” State law requires all dogs three months or older be licensed by Jan. 1 each year. An annual license is $8.45 and a lifetime license is $51.45. If the animal is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.45 and lifetime is $31.45. Discounts are available to older adults and people with disabilities. New this year, the dog licensing law was altered to reflect a 45-cent administrative fee for cost of postage involved with licensing. Due to 1 DECEMBER, 2010
this change, only new applications reflecting this fee will be accepted. Fees collected through dog licensing are used by the Dept. of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement to protect the safety, health and welfare of dogs. More than 929,000 dogs were licensed in 2010. More information about dog licensing, a list of county treasurers’ offices and a downloadable license application are available online at www.agriculture.state.pa.us, under “Programs” and then “PA Dog Licensing.”
Corbett Calls For Moratorium On COLAs for Public Officials Auditor General Jack Wagner is calling for a moratorium on the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for elected officials. Wagner said the suggested moratorium would save $3 million in the first year and $12 million over four years. “It’s something that is not big in terms of a dollar number but symbolically it’s huge,” he stated. Auditor General Wagner noted that he voted for the COLA in 1995 and still believes it is the best way to enact pay raises for elected officials but emphasized that it is not appropriate during a recession. “The public is hurting,” he stated. 1 DECEMBER, 2010
“Unemployment is still above 8%; if you include underemployment, it’s at 20%. People are still losing their homes. For the second consecutive year, there is no increase for senior citizens related to Social Security.”
Four State Water Facilities Sold Ravaged by the recent economic recession, more municipalities in Pennsylvania and across the US are considering selling or leasing their water systems in order to quickly infuse dwindling coffers with much needed cash. Analysis released today by the national consumer-advocacy group Food & Water Watch reveals that as of October 2010, at least 39 communities in the US were considering selling or leasing their water systems to private operators — more than five times the number of completed privatization deals in a typical year over the last two decades.
lyze municipal water-system sales and concessions in the US. The report highlights Pennsylvania, in particular, for its numerous water sales and concessions over the years as well the many ongoing water-privatization efforts throughout the state. According to the report, privatization is unlikely to enhance efficiency or cut the cost of operating water and sewer systems. Following privatization, annual household water bills in Bensalem, Bristol, Coatesville, and Media Borough, Pa. increased by over $400 each. “It’s shameful that towns like Bensalem, Pa. are seeing an average water-bill increase three times higher than the national average,” said Karina Wilkinson, a Pennsylvania organizer with Food & Water Watch. “State-government officials need to stop cashing out and start investing in water systems for the long-term benefit of the community.”
Four of the 10 largest public water sales and concessions surveyed in the report were located in Pennsylvania. Out of the 144 municipal water and sewer systems sold or leased to private companies from 1991 to 2010, over 50 were from Pennsylvania, more than any other state.
The privatizations have taken their toll throughout the state, with the City of Pittsburgh currently struggling to exit a deal with a private company, Pennsylvania American Water. According to a City Councilman, the City has paid over $65 million in subsidies to the company over the last 15 years.
The Post-Recession Economy and the Fight for Public Water in the United States is the first comprehensive report to quantify and ana-
In Coatesville, Pa., water service is becoming increasingly unaffordable. In 2010, American Water proposed a 229% increase in the City’s
THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD
sewer rates. The City budgeted $40,000 for legal support to fight the increase. Last month, the City settled with the company, begrudgingly agreeing to a proposed phased-in rate increase that would bring the typical annual sewer bill from $329 in 2010 to $1041 in 2014. According to the report, selling and leasing water assets to private companies often worsens a municipality’s financial situation in the long term. Food & Water Watch’s analysis of national concession fees and purchase payments made to municipalities by investor-owned private utilities found such transactions amount to a loan with an 11% interest rate. The report also revealed the typical water system poised for privatization in 2010 served 45 times as many people as those leased or sold over the last 20 years. The average system up for privatization in 2010 served nearly 283,000 people, whereas those that had been privatized earlier served an average of 6,285 customers. Food & Water Watch’s review of 18 municipalities across the US that ended contracts with private operators since 2007 found public operation of water and sewer systems averaged 21% cheaper than private operation. Many towns also experienced improved service under public control. The report offers ways local gov4|
ernments can control costs for consumers and protect the quality of their water by keeping these systems in public hands. It further recommends that the federal government establish a dedicated source of funding in order to help communities across the US modernize and maintain these essential systems.
DHS To Emphasize Work With Babies Born With Illegal Drugs The Dept. of Human Services has expanded its unit that ensures the safety of vulnerable infants and appointed its first Director. The CAPTA unit was established in response to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act, which mandates that birth hospitals report infants born and identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse. Kate Maus has joined DHS as Director of CAPTA services, which helps ensure the safety of infants with prenatal exposure to illegal drugs. Maus, who for the last six years served as the Director of the Maternal, Child and Family Health Division of the Dept. of Public Health, brings a wealth of childwelfare and public-health experience to her new position. In addition to serving 14 years with the Health Dept., she has worked as a medical social worker on the THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD
OB-GYN service at several Philadelphia hospitals, as well as at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on a project for children with special needs and as a social worker with SCAN. According to Maus, “When the report comes to DHS, hotline staff use a guided decision making tool to determine if there is a safety threat.” General reports with no safety threat are referred to the CAPTA team, which goes to the hospital to interview hospital staff and, when possible, meet with the mother. The team also conducts a home visit to assess for safety, family support and the physical condition of the baby. Based on this initial assessment, cases are then either referred to the Div. of Community Based Prevention Services or to the CAPTA Extended Assessment Team for further assessment. The Extended Assessment Team, previously part of MCFH and now residing at DHS, works with the family over a period of weeks to determine the type and extent of parental substance abuse, the physical health of the mother and baby and the mother’s need and readiness for treatment. If she is amenable, the team also helps the mother obtain treatment The new CAPTA unit has a staff of 10. The three staffers formerly at MCFH will be thoroughly integrated into DHS. The former 1 DECEMBER, 2010
MCFH team will take the safetyassessment refresher course to ensure they are familiar with the terminology and can better inform the process. “Bringing the unit to DHS will enhance communication between the assessment team and DHS,” Maus said. “It will also allow for ‘joint teamings, providing greater input on cases.” Among Maus’ goals for the unit are working with referring hospitals on the timeliness and accuracy of reports, as well as protocols around testing and working with women’s treatment programs to develop a shared approach to helping mothers with substance-abuse issues.
substance abuse, but notes that alcohol abuse can be equally, if not more, compromising on the mother’s ability to care for her children and that alcohol consumed during pregnancy can have severe developmental consequences for the newborn. “We need to examine how we manage cases of children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and determine what interventions are most effective,” she says.
“The expansion of this unit and the addition of Kate mean better outcomes for children,” says DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose. Maus will also be working on issues related to substance abuse. Ambrose says, “Kate will help liaison with the Dept. of Behavioral Health to ensure timely access to effective treatment to support our efforts at reunification. “Currently, there are so many restrictions on what information can be shared. We need to figure out how we can structure communication in ways that facilitate handling cases more effectively.” In the long term, Maus hopes to expand the unit’s focus to address infants affected by alcohol abuse. She points out that the current CAPTA law only addresses illegal 1 DECEMBER, 2010
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Dec. 3Phila. FIGHT marks 20th anniversary gala at Ritz Carlton. For ticket and other info (215) 525-8628. Dec. 573rd Annual Rev. George Feider Memorial Communication Breakfast hosted by Millay Club alumni of Gorretti-Neumann HS, at Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing, 201 S,. Columbus Blvd., 9 a.m. Honored will be Penna. State Secretary Basil Merenda and others. Tickets $30. For info (215) 389-0925. Dec. 8Fire Fighters Local 22 and Police FOP Lodge 5 host plaque dedication honoring 100th anniversary of largest loss of life which killed 13 firefighters, one police officer and two fire horses at Plaza Complex on 2nd St. south of Girard Ave., 11 a.m. For info Jerry Kots (267) 5496326. Dec. 14Portrait presentation of Hon. Sheldon C. Jelin at 4 p.m. in Room 653. Reception following in Conversation Hall.
Fax: 215-689-4099 THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD