Public Safety Feed

With grace, efficiency FEMA and marines vaccinate masses against Covid-19

Fema vaccinates
From multiple sources your correspondent (“I”) had learned about and followed through with signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine through the Philadelphia government website. Shortly after I got my first vaccination! Here’s how it went down. A few weeks after registering I received a notice that I could make an appointment for a shot by filling out a form. The form took me step-by-step through what I needed to provide in the way of information about my health and age and and such. I was given an opportunity to select a time of day and then was assigned appointment date on March 15 at 9:30 am. By about 9 AM hundreds of us were already gathering in a long line along the western wall of the convention center. Yellow vested attendants prompted us to keep our distance and to have our identification ready. They also asked few preliminary questions about our health today. The line moved slowly but deliberately along to the entrance. There, a uniformed soldier asked to see our ID again and provide a couple particulars. Once inside, we were directed into long lines and turning a corner, were directed by a small cadre of military personnel assigned us to one of what seemed to the hundreds of tables where other personnel were administering shots. I said at the end of the table and another person at the other end. As soon as the marine finished administering her shot he had me roll up my sleeve to the shoulder and and politely shot me with what looked like a small orange click needle, handed me my CDC vaccination card and directed me to the area where I needed to sign up for my second shot. A jolly FEMA worker stickered us, those willing, with “I got my Covid-19 vaccine!” labels. I could have waited in line to schedule an appointment with personnel but I opened to scan with my phone camera the QR code that another worker offered me to do this online. This took me step by step through the registration system for the second shot. And then, we vaccinated, wound our way toward the exit where another attendant cheerily reminded us, “See you on April 5th!” As we exited the doors, hardly 20 minutes after we had first entered, I may have felt like waving my arms above my head in exultation but the woman in front of me actually did. Watch military personnel administer vaccines to people at FEMA mass vaccination site in Philadelphia here


Chestnut Hill neighbors weigh in on NextDoor polls

Since September, your correspondent has been posting polls on NextDoor to inform and learn from the community, to take its pulse and to move the community on issues near and dear to him. As few as four and as many as 330 people have voted in these polls with naming the bookstore and a ban or leafblowers being the most popular. See more about NextDoor at the end of this post.

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Nov 3 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT PROTECT THE VOTE RALLIES BEGINNING NOV 4?

Takeaway: Most support the rallies but after 16 people registered their choice, NextDoor shut down commenting but left one comment from a detractor standing. It may also have closed voting in the poll. Here's the poll link

 

ND Protect the Results 2020-11-03 at 4.31.16 PM

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Nov 2 POLL: WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?

Takeaway: Before the poll was taken down only hours after  its posting, 17 people voted, many citing counting of mail-in ballots as top concern. 3 or 4 people had grumbled about the post as harmfully sowing anxiety.

20201102 ND election concerns

WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?Our State Rep Chris Rabb and a local computer expert don’t believe our electronic voting system is secure. https://youtu.be/2n9uraDCSng
And there are news reports of confusion over PA’s mail in ballots counting https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/02/us/politics/Pennsylvania-presidential-election.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage . Some polling places are bracing for possible voter intimidation http://www.pikecountycourier.com/news/local-news/open-carry-and-voter-intimidation-what-does-pa-law-say-DC1370036 Of course you have voted or are going to BUT WHAT IS YOUR TOP NOV 3 ELECTION CONCERN?

Mail-in ballots may not be accurately counted

Electronic voting system may be hacked

Irregularities at polling stations may negatively impact the count

Other (See my comment)

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Nov 1 POLL: DO ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS?

Takeaway: the NextDoor algorithm may have made this the last visible post on anyone's news feed

20201101 Actions words
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Oct 27 POLL: HOMELESS IN MOUNT AIRY - IS THERE A RIGHT TO HOUSING?

Takeaway: 40% believe not or are unsure and since children are people, that means that nearly half are unwilling to say that children have a human right to housing.

20201027 right to housing

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Oct 21 POLL: WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE OCT 22 CHESTNUT HILL LOCAL?

Takeaway:  A fair amount worth saying something about. (In the 10/29 edition  there is a help wanted ad for an associate editor.)

20201021 wrong with local

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Oct 21 POLL: DO GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS?

Takeaway: You will know your good neighbor by the good fence they build between you and them

Real real fences


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Oct 9 POLL: DO YOU SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER OR BACK THE BLUE?

Takeaway: Of 133 votes, less than a third believe it is possible to support both

20201009 BLM BTB

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Oct 6 POLL: WOULD YOU ATTEND A (VIRTUAL) CHESTNUT HILL TOWN HALL AND WHO MIGHT HOST?

Takeaway: There is only some interest in a virtual town hall and even less interest in the question

20201006 town hall

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Oct 5 POLL: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE FINALISTS ARE...

Takeaway: By a considerable plurality but with only a third as many people voting in this finalists poll as in the original poll, the peoples really like "Books on the Hill"

20201005 name bookstore finalists

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Oct 2 POLL: Should the CDC require face masks?

Takeaway:  The people have spoken; make facemasks the law nationwide

20201002 cdc fase masks

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Sept 28 POLL: I'M SORRY: WHAT ARE YOU SORRY ABOUT FOR POSTING ON NEXTDOOR?

Takeaway: For the most part, NextDoor users stand by what they posted

20200928Sorry

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Sep 25 POLL: IS COVID-19 POSTER AT POST OFFICE MISLEADING?

Takeaway: If you've posted to a NextDoor group with only 6 members don't expect more than 6 responses

20200925 cdc poster misleading

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Sep 18 POLL: POLICE PERMANENTLY PARKED  TOP OF THE HILL? PROTECTING BANKS OR PEOPLE?

Takeaway: Most people believe the police presence at the top of the Hill benefits some combination of the public and small businesses but 25% believe they are there at the bank or banks' behest. The police have not responded to a request for clarification.

20200918 police cars

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Sep 15: NAME THE BOOKSTORE, THE CH LIBRARY FRIENDS WANT YOUR IDEAS

Takeaway: 324 people and likely more with opinions is giving the Friends Board pause before deciding on a name

20200915 name bookstore

 

Sep 4 POLL: SHOULD WE BAN OR RESTRICT GAS POWERED LEAF BLOWERS?

Takeaway: About half or more people would consider a ban or restrictions on gas powered leaf blowers

ND leafblowers with results

Continue reading "Chestnut Hill neighbors weigh in on NextDoor polls" »


Outdoor restaurants put diners, passersby at risk? Phila defies state, loosens standards

UPDATE TO DEVELOPING STORY: PHILADELPHIA GUIDELINES ABOUT SIX FOOT SPACING WERE INCONSISTENT WITH STATE, BECAME CONSISTENT and ARE NOW INCONSISTENT AGAIN, APPLYING A LOOSER STANDARD.

OOutdoor restuarant farewayn July 23, Philadelphia issued revised guidelines to require 6 feet between passersby and tables in line with May 27 state requirements.

On October 9, Pennsylvania updated May 27 guidelines but still required 6 feet between passersby and diners.

On October 15, Philadelphia revised the guidelines again to only require a 6 foot passageway, not a 6 foot distance between diners and pedestrians. This is no longer consistent with state standards.

October 22, 2020 Several restaurants in Chestnut Hill  appear compliant with state standards, more appear to exceed current city standards as shown in the photo on the left.

Documentation on extended pages.

BUT then at least one restaurant proprietor must have friends in high places. It blocks the sidewalk.

Mcnallys table blocks sidewalk

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ORIGINAL STORY: Approximately July 21, 2020

Living a block and a half away from Germantown Avenue we like to stroll up and down. It's enjoyable and it's healthy. It's one of the reasons we live here.

We understand Chestnut Hill restaurants, several which we patronize (and now do more take out from) are just trying to stay financially afloat. Due to Covid19 many have added extra outdoor seating both next to the building and at the curb. But If you were to walk past a few of these restaurants you might be 2-3 feet away from open-mouthed diners, a delicious opportunity to spread the corona-virus.

In his July 17 Inquirer article,"Eating out during the pandemic is a dilemma. Outdoor dining appears to be the most safe," Craig LaBan writes "It’s nonetheless unrealistic to expect customers hungering for a taste of quarantine escape to consistently respect boundaries, just as it’s naive to expect restaurateurs, with so little guidance or oversight to suddenly become altruistic public health experts, and not try to squeeze in a few more seats than they should."

No, Mr. Laban, there may be little oversight but the guidance is clear. Pa Governor Wolf's Covid-19 *mandate* about outdoor restaurant seating is clear. "Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e. such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least six feet of distance to customer)." Source www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/restaurant-industry-guidance

Here's the math. The average width of an adult is 1.25 feet so a pedestrian would need 6 feet distance from a table on their left side and 6 feet on the right for a restaurant to be in compliance: In other words the width of the walkway to keep both pedestrians and diners safe is *13.25* feet.

I conducted a little informal survey of how wide the pedestrian passage is at Chestnut Hill establishments with outdoor seating. The most ample passage was outside Iron Hill Brewery with a width of 9 or more feet and staggered tables. The general manager was kind enough to pose to provide a sense of scale. Outside Campbell's Place, the pedestrian passageway is 6 feet or less and similarly so at establishments at the top of the Hill. Without addressing the governor's 6 foot mandate, Campbell's owner Rob Mullen writes that according to the City's Health, L&I and Streets Department Campbell's outdoor seating is in complete compliance. (It is not clear what seating arrangement the inspectors saw when they made their inspections.) October 23, 2020 update: the city now appears to have been enforcing its own looser standards, inconsistent with state standards).

Perhaps we should just cross the street, as a friend suggests, to avoid the restaurants. Perhaps the restaurants could take away just a few tables to be closer in compliance with the law. Perhaps I should watch the next episode of "Breaking Bad" on our daughter's NetFlix account and sulk about how the only real thanks health care workers want is the one they're not getting- people and businesses uniformly embracing good public health practices and regulations. Photo gallery here Crowded outdoor restaurant seating puts diners and walkers in danger of catching Covid-19

Documentation follows about changing and conflicting Pennsylvania and Philadelphia 6 foot distancing requirement.

Continue reading "Outdoor restaurants put diners, passersby at risk? Phila defies state, loosens standards" »


A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter

Two separate rallies, one for Black Lives Matter and the other for Back the Blue both kicked off at 10:30 am on October 10, 2020 in Springfield Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania in two nearby township parks. Was it coincidental??? Watch short video of rallies here.  An unscientific poll of 99  respondents on the NextDoor app indicates that people who support both causes are in a distinct minority, about 27%. It also indicates 76% support Black Lives Matter and  47% Back the Blue. Caveat: there is always the question of what people are thinking who are neither participating in such a poll or even on the social media platform where the poll was conducted. It's also worth noting that people may support the causes espoused without ascribing to a provocative movement or slogan.

ND back blue  black matter poll screenshot
As a member of the minority who espouse both causes, your correspondent attended only part of each rally so the material here is certainly not comprehensive and due to personal history, not necessarily well balanced. Photos of both rallies here.

A-little-girl-with-a-back-the-blue-flag-at-springfield-township-rally_50446102426_o
At the Back the Blue Rally in Cisco Park, your correspondent heard 37 year veteran, Michael E. Pitkow, Chief of Police, thank the community for their support and the dedication of his officers. He spoke of a survey being conducted [the outgrowth of community meetings] among community residents soliciting their input about what they want from their police department. He remarked about the challenging times ensuing after the onset of the corona-virus pandemic and the "death of Mr. George Floyd" but noted Springfield Township hadn't experienced the civil unrest occurring in many other places around the nation.

Michele Chesaitis, an active member of the Friends of the Springfield Township Police is concerned when people make negative generalizations about the police. She comes from a police and fire department family and is proud of her family’s service. She considers the close knit community of law enforcement as part of her family, too. When asked whether the Black Lives Matter protesters had any legitimate issues she answered "There are legitimate and valuable issues for every walk of life," and as to what whether police could do better, "that we stop lumping police into groups.” When introduced she began her public remarks by asking everyone to join her in a prayer for the police, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit...."

Watch video interview here.

Black and white teens unite at black lives matter rally

At the Unity and Diversity rally to honor Breonna Taylor, clumps of young adults, families and older adults were spaced far apart in Mermaid Park listening to the speakers. Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence contrasted the actions of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who fired out from inside their home, defending their home with the act of a white vigilante who traveled from his home and killed protesters “There’s a hypocrisy. That’s why Black Lives Matter. Because when it happens to us it’s always something that we did wrong to end up dead.” He highlighted a recent incident in Upper Gwynedd Township in which police successfully de-escalated a situation and no one died; they were able to disarm a man who had fired a shotgun at them. “It absolutely can be done.”  Napoleon Nelson, who is running for representative in the 184th district of the Pennsylvania State House, encompassing Springfield Township spoke next. He had visited the police rally, too, and a photo of him there appears in the photo album above. Your correspondent regrets an opening didn't present itself to interview him, being apparently only one of three African-American adults present at the police rally. The African American Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette was similarly engaged with others and Barnette's  mother declined to be interviewed. The below is only an excerpt of Nelson's remarks. Readers are encouraged to listen to the fuller versions of both Lawrence and Nelson here.

"Before I got here I was over on the other side of the Township at a Back the Blue rally. And I do, I support police. I think there’s an important role for law enforcement in our community. But this day, this time, is not about backing the blue.

Continue reading "A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter" »


Electrofishing the Wissahickon

Electrofishing

In a short time, aquatic biologists from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission netted hundreds of fish from the Wissahickon Creek just above the covered bridge - and then returned them to the water. Biologist Aaron Henning (center in photo) relayed that SRBC had won the contract to assess the health of the waterways in this region as part of a national study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The day before, Henning, his teammate Matt Shank and Michelle Peck from Region III IEPA were working down on the Schuylkill River in the less scenic refinery area. Electrofishing entails putting a weak electrical current in the water through a rod, which actually attracts the fish Henning says, to momentarily stun them. This gives the biologists enough time to identify them by species, take measurements and, for some of the larger specimens, take plugs of tissue to test for PCBs and other contaminants. Henning showed off two large, American eels, a species that lives in fresh water but migrates to spawn in the ocean. The squirming pair were eager for release. More photos here

Watch video here


City workers grind down tree stump

Stump grinder
A severe storm earlier in the summer uprooted a large maple tree on our street and it fell on the roofs of our neighbors’ houses. Some weeks after the tree was cut down and removed, a city work crew and contractor Scott’s Tree Service arrived to grind down the stump. City worker Ed Jardell described how the stump is ground down in sweeping back and forth passes of the grinder’s large rotary blade. The machine takes off more or less two inches at a time depending on the species and hardness of the tree and whether there is any sponginess or rot. Watch video of workers grinding down tree stump and interview of worker describing process.

Heavy rains heave gas tank out of ground

Diesel gas tank heaves service station
After heavy weekend rains, Mohammad Bepary was on site at the Luk Oil gas station he operates through lease at Bethlehem Pike and Montgomery Avenue where a newly installed 10,000 gallon diesel tank had nosed upwards out of the soggy ground. The tank needs to be hoisted out and the ground re-excavated before it goes back in. Bepary expects the renovation of the mini-convenience store, which is being enlarged by conversion of two former garage bays, and addition of a diesel pump will be welcome by the community when he reopens, if all goes according to plan, in early March. Watch video interview about diesel tank excavation problem after heavy rain.


Leaf blowers noisy dirty and unhealthy

Leaf blowers noisy, dirty and unhealthy

​Watch video here.

Our immediate neighbors' leaf blower landscape man is our bane. I know when he and his crew has visited: our front side and back walk areas are much covered in grit and leaves. We live in very modest size twin houses on an urban street graced with large sycamore maple trees. We have very little land area and about 15 feet between non-adjoined houses. The landscaper makes heavy use of a gas powered leaf blower

At times we are unfortunate enough to be at home when he comes. The blower creates a roar from which he is protected by large ear muffs- but not us. On his last visit, I left the house and he was blasting away plant and soil specks more than an hour later when I returned. In addition to being gratingly loud, the blower stirs up a large amount of particulate dust which may contain mold, bird feces and what not, a definite health hazard, which is why some communities have banned them. See New York Times article. I wrote about the issue for WHYY Newsworks back in 2010; click here.

We appreciate that our neighbors want to keep their garden areas looking attractive. One a lawyer, the other a doctor, keep their windows closed with the heat or air conditioning usually running so are not personally disturbed by the noise, leaf and dust storms created by their landscaper. The lawyer, who complains about breathing problems and asthma is not going to start doing her own modest yard work any time soon. The doctor appears not to have the time or inclination to do her own likewise modest yard work.
 
Sadly, their indifference to our distress prompted me to call our City Councilwoman's office. I described the noise and pollution problem to an aide and asked, "Is there anything I can do?" She answered "Not as long as they are doing their job." I then asked "Is there a noise ordinance" and she answered, "No." I believe the aide is wrong on both counts.
 
I've begun a little campaign by posting signs to encourage our neighbors on the block to refrain from garden power equipment use on their small yards and, instead borrow our rakes and push mower!
 
To be continued...

No to leaf blowers

Leaf blower grime


Cold War Tattoo

Tattooed during Cold War

During the Cold War, as a high school freshman  Eileen Levenson and her classmates were marched into the nurse's office and without explanation had their blood drawn and the next week their blood type tattooed on their side torso. She later learned that the tattoo, now an interesting conversation piece and handy reminder that she's O positive, was part of a government program also conducted upon military servicemen in preparation for a possible Russian invasion. Watch video here.


Felling a diseased tree

Park service fells diseased tree

Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation project coordinator Curt Helm oversaw the felling and removal of three large diseased trees at the Allens Lane Art Center. The trees were in danger of falling onto the playing fields or the other way over power lines and onto McCallum Street which bears significant vehicular traffic. Helm, with direct experience in the field, complimented the adroitness of the park's subcontractors. As the final chainsaw cuts were made to the diseased oak tree, it began to tumble. A truck with a rope attached to the tree began to pull it forward in the direction the contractors wanted the tree to fall. A couple seconds later the top branches hit the ground with a resounding crash.  The two other trees to be taken down that day were ashes. Sadly, Helm reports, all the park's ash trees will eventually succumb to the emerald ash borer and, for safety reasons, will be taken down within the next five to ten years. Watch video here