Community News Coronavirus Health Opinion Politics

No one would allow more pollution during a pandemic, would they?

Some people call them the Environmental Pollution Agency because the EPA is responsible for determining how much pollution an industry is allowed to emit before their pollution is deemed harmful to the environment and a health hazard, especially to the people who live nearby. Companies are issued permits that outline the rules to which a company can pollute and still operate within the law.

When done fairly, this process works pretty good. Of course, no amount of pollution is good and it’s virtually impossible for a smoke stack not toss out some pollutants.

Each state has an environmental agency that does the dirty work under EPA guidance at issuing these permits along with regulating industries to operate within the permit limits. When companies disobey, they get fined and if they continue to disobey, they can be put out of business.

Until now.

Community News Coronavirus Opinion Politics

Should Chester City be handling City Council meetings differently during coronavirus?

With Chester City Hall being closed to the public, city officials conducted their city council meeting to an empty room but broadcasted it on FacebookLive. My only issue had to do with how difficult it was to hear what was being said, and I offered a suggestion how to fix that.

I was encouraged to see so many people watched the meeting according to the number of views the Facebook page displayed. (However, I think they register a view after only 3-seconds of viewing).

One of my subscribers sent me information the state of Pennsylvania put out concerning public meetings during the coronavirus crisis. I copy & pasted it below for you to read. You decide if Chester City is following the advice from the state or not.

Community News Coronavirus Opinion Politics

I wish there was more information on Chester City worker layoffs

I’ve been laid off a few times. It’s humiliating and confusing, especially if it’s your first time. Once you’ve been through it once, you are less stressed and somewhat comfortable navigating all the baggage that unemployment dumps on you.

I’ve always struggled with the term ‘laid-off.’ A lay-off could be seasonal and have you out of work until business picks up. I guess that’s called a temporary lay-off these days. Yet, folks get straight up fired with no hopes of being rehired and it’s still called a lay-off. And then there’s something called unpaid leave. Somehow, that’s different from a temporary lay-off.

Regardless of how they describe it, when you’re laid off, you are out of work.

Business Community News Coronavirus Politics

Laid off City workers applying for unemployment should be fully compensated

As the folks in Washington D.C. continue to squabble over the final details of the stimulus package, it appears they’re going to boost unemployment compensation to make everyone earning under $60,000 whole.
It goes something like this…

The deal also includes a massive expansion of unemployment insurance. Schumer called the agreement “unemployment compensation on steroids,” and said the maximum unemployment benefit will be increased by $600 per week to ensure “that laid-off workers, on average, will receive their full pay for four months.”

Expect to see a lot of people across all industries laid off real soon.
I imagine the unemployment office (PA CareerLink) is closed so all applications for unemployment will either have to be done by phone or online. If you’ve ever tried to reach them by phone during normal times, it’s a challenge. I hope the online experience is ready for a lot of traffic.

Community News Coronavirus Opinion Politics Technology

Chester City Council Meeting via Facebook Live

Due to the coronoavirus and the need to shut down City Hall from the public, today’s City Council meeting was held in an empty chamber and broadcasted on Facebook Live. With the number of people who viewed it, this seems to be an effective way of reaching far more people than can sit in chambers and see a city council meeting in person.
It lasted about 15-minutes and they agreed to keep the State of Emergency Declaration going; demolish Pulaski School to make way for a recreation center; and approved something with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
No one emailed or called in any public comments.
I imagine they’re recording on a Smartphone which gives a decent image, but it’s hard to hear what they’re saying most of the time. Speaking louder would help or get one of those mics you can plug into the phone to pick up sound a lot better.
These mics are well under $100. Here’s what they look like.
iphone mic

Community News Coronavirus Politics

Chester City to layoff employees due to coronavirus?

I hope it’s only a rumor, but several City of Chester departments are slated for layoffs effective March 30 with their last paychecks being issued on April 3. This comes as a result of conference call to the department personnel earlier today.
Yet, according to earlier today…

  • U.S. Senate leaders agreed to the massive $2 trillion economic stimulus package on Wednesday morning, following five days of negotiations and two failed votes.
  • …the funding is for state and local governments
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, says the bill will include $150 billion in aid for states and local governments.
  • That money will go to “states and localities who are so hard pressed because of all the new expenses that COVID-19 puts upon them, and because they’re not getting the resources they usually get,” Schumer said.

Are all of elected officials failing to help Chester City? Let’s take a roll call and see if any of them respond:

  • Delaware County Council
  • State Rep Kirkland
  • State Senator Killion
  • US Senator Casey
  • US Congresswoman Scanlon

How about a tax anticipation note with Harrah’s money as collateral?
Any HUD money out there?
Where’s the Delaware County Economic Development Oversite Board when you need them?
I shouldn’t assume. Maybe the City of Chester haven’t made the calls to these folks yet and all this is premature. If not, maybe these folks might want to call the City of Chester and let them know what they can do if they’d like to shed embarrassment for allowing layoffs in Chester with money available to avoid exactly this type of thing.
The last thing we need are more people in Chester out of work right about now. If there’s money available from the government earmarked to help government, let’s figure out why Chester isn’t getting any of it.
Is the Chester-Upland School District laying off next?
READ: Laid off City Workers to be fully compensated

Community News Coronavirus Crime Opinion Politics

Advocates for the incarcerated want the same thing regardless of race

There are a lot of Black people incarcerated across America making up about half the jail and prison population while representing only 13% of the United States population. Any talk about how to manage the incarcerated during the coronavirus pandemic obviously involves close to as many white inmates as it does Black and Brown inmates.
In today’s Delaware County Daily Times, Kaabeer Weissman, co-founder of DelcoCPR, advocates for the release of prisoners held at the Delaware County prison. Her ask is almost identical to what the Congressional Black Caucus proposed in a letter to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer last week in hopes that Black people’s issues are considered in the next package of federal resources for individuals, families, businesses, and communities.

“The goal has to be to release as many people as possible as soon as possible,” said, Kabeera Weissman.
She called on police officers to file criminal complaints rather than making arrests when possible.

I get where she’s coming from, but if her intent is to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the prisons, letting criminals roam free, especially in poor communities, is the last thing that needs to happen.
If there’s ever a time a city like Chester needs more protection, it’s now. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and people are going to get more desperate as time passes. Many people in this community are already in poverty; working pay check to pay check if they are working at all; struggling to eat and feed their kids out of school; and may not qualify for a check from the government for one reason or another. There’s probably going to be relief for mortgage payers but I don’t hear anyone talking about providing relief for renters. You may not get evicted now but you still owe your rent.
I assume she isn’t advocating for the worst of our violent criminals going unchecked, but is that what the criminals are hearing when she says stuff like this? Should a police officer have to make a decision on the spot on what applies now as opposed to what applied last month when it comes to taking a criminal in? Is all these new policies going to be figured out in the next 20-minutes and rolled out across the board by tomorrow? If not, let’s spend our energy elsewhere.
As the funny lady on the YouTube video says, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’
I’m am not a fan of GEO, but I have to side with them with this statement…

“These are unprecedented times when we all need to work together to combat COVID-19 (coronavirus). We have been working around the clock with state and local health officials to stop the spread of the virus and we are strictly adhering to all CDC guidelines. It is with hope that individuals and groups would be more focused on being part of the solution instead of political agendas in times of crisis.”

How prisoners live is not much different than how real people live in row homes, public housing, senior living centers, apartment complexes, high rises, or anywhere else people are stacked on top of or next to each other. What we learn from how prisons handle coronavirus can be applied many other places.
I’m all about prison accountability and watchdogging, and it surely should take place during this pandemic. We’ve got to trust they’re going to do what they can to protect their employees and the inmates. When it’s all over, we’ll look back and study the decisions they made, measure the results, and demand policy adjustments where needed.
Below is the Congressional Black Caucus’ ask to Congress regarding the incarcerated. It’s an interesting read…

Millions of currently incarcerated individuals are at risk of COVID-19 without the ability to take any steps to protect themselves. They are our responsibility and we must take actions to ensure their health and safety. Unlike the general population, correctional staff, personnel, and incarcerated persons cannot practice social distancing due to overcrowding and the restrictive nature of detention facilities. As a result of close confinement, the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in these facilities remains high.

Measures must be immediately implemented to protect the lives of the men, women, and youth who are currently in custody and the newly arrested, as well as to protect the staff and personnel who are responsible for their care.

We must:

    • Release all juveniles who have committed a non-violent crime;
    • Ensure all incarcerated individuals and staff are tested for Coronavirus, including everyone in custody, those going into custody, and those who are scheduled for immediate release;
    • Prioritize releasing incarcerated individuals in prisons, jails, and detention centers through clemency, commutations and compassionate release;
    • Allow immediate temporary release to home confinement of individuals who are a low-risk threat to the community, but to whom COVID-19 is a high-risk threat, which should automatically include (1) pregnant women, (2) adults over the age of 55, and (3) those with serious medical conditions, but could extend to those who are near to completing their sentence, low risk offenders, and those who have not begun their sentence, unless they pose a risk of serious injury to a reasonably identifiable person;
    • Provide $4 billion for Second Chance Grants, with priority given to community based non- profit organizations, to ensure individuals released from custody have the resources needed to successfully reintegrate into their communities;
    • Limit transmission in Bureau of Prisons (BOP), State and local correctional facilities by immediately providing the resources necessary to implement CDC protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as functioning sinks with antibacterial soap, hand sanitizers, and unlimited paper towels, increasing laundry services for clothing and bedding, as well as instituting measures to protect individuals responsible for providing laundry and cleaning services;
    • Agree that solitary confinement is not medical care and establish a Medical Emergency Plan with designated housing areas, including the tracking all suspected cases of COVID- 19 and available hospital beds and necessary equipment, the hiring of medical professionals capable of responding to COVID-19 inside facilities, and the development of a plan to transfer those who need intensive care to hospitals;
    • Employ technology to preserve families and their visitation needs, including providing video conferencing and calls free of charge; and
    • Provide Paid Sick Leave for personnel who are unable to work as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and require the establishment of an emergency contingency plan for the effective operation of facilities.
Coronavirus Health Politics

Should health workers get priority for protection against coronavirus?

That seems like such a stupid question but based on government’s delay in implement the Defense Production Act to secure medical equipment sorely needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, you’d think we had a large bench full of doctors, nurses, and first responders at the ready and available to care for the thousands of American’s contracting COVID-19, even as they’re becoming patients themselves.
The act issues contracts to manufacturers to make large numbers of test kits, personal protective masks, ventilators, respirators, face shields, Tyvek gowns, and gloves to support health care workers and their patients.
Federal delays in rolling out widespread testing have sparked criticism from state officials who have said they are woefully underprepared to handle the pandemic.

“Even the most conservative political theories recognize that governments do sometimes have to take directive actions and markets alone cannot solve these problems. It should be a war mentality, and the government should be the leader,” said Mildred Solomon, president of the bioethics-focused Hastings Center.

Some American manufacturers have privately expressed concerns that it’s more difficult to ramp up production of medical equipment without clear guidance from the federal government outlining what materials are needed — and where.
However, Ford Motor Company put things in motion before the White House approved senate bill 3568 – A bill to require the President to use authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to require emergency production of medical equipment to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Ford is already busy making medical supplies through four projects: working with GE to make ventilators; working with 3M to make air purifying respirators; and working in-house to 3-D print face shields and N95 masks.
Sort of makes me proud I drive a Ford.

Coronavirus Opinion Politics

How can Chester City coronavirus communications reach more citizens?

If there were ever a time to hear from government, it is during this coronavirus pandemic. Whether you like him or not, it’s easy to hear from President Trump and the national response to the coronavirus scare, but it takes a little effort and direction to hear from your county and city leaders.
In the olden days, everyone would be following the county updates in the Delaware County Times newspaper, but how many of you purchased a newspaper today? – I’ll wait.
For those of us stuck at home, it’s easy to turn on the local news, but that’s out of Philadelphia and doesn’t focus on your neighborhood exclusively. If you know the websites to visit on the internet, you can get some great local information, but there’s those who don’t know the sites to visit and others with no internet access.
Since there’s no single communications channel that everyone tunes into, the strategy to reach the masses has to be multi-prong. Here’s what I’d suggest. I’d love to get your input.

  • On Xfinity/Comcast cable channel 5 is Government Access Programming. A video summery of the coronavirus daily briefing from the mayor, director of the bureau of health, or the emergency response coordinator can be shown and repeated throughout the day for homes with Comcast to view at their convenience.
  • Add video and audio summery of the coronavirus daily briefing to the city website.
  • Create a podcast or Soundcloud link for people to download the daily coronavirus briefing.
  • Create a YouTube channel to post the daily coronavirus briefing videos.
  • Make arrangements with a few Chester folks with large Facebook followings to post city issued coronavirus press releases and daily coronavirus briefings. Some suggested people would be: Fred Green, Cory Long, Tedd Miller, Millz Qua, YesGod. If Chester City communications were fanned out by each of these five Facebook users, it would reach most of the people in the city who use Facebook regularly.  I see the city ‘tagging’ certain people when they send communications from their Facebook site, but some people hate being in large group ‘tags’ and they’re still only reaching a small group of people.
  • Treat it like it’s campaign season and put up lawn signs, posters, knock on doors, and ride around the street with a megaphone and a fire truck. It’s time to pull out all the stops and do anything to get people’s attention on this coronavirus thing.

I only bring all this up because I spoke to 5-people and asked if they have seen any updates on the city’s daily coronavirus briefings, the state of emergency declaration, or the intent to ask for COVID-19 testing letter sent by the mayor today. I won’t share the results but I took the time to write this post because ‘we can do better.’

Community News Coronavirus Opinion Politics

Chester City steps up website with a coronavirus link

With God as my witness, I was on the phone last night with a guy venting about the City of Chester’s website. For the life of me, I can’t understand why parking meter rates is still on the home page and there’s nothing on the city’s coronavirus guidance and leadership for this community. I even heard they’re still issuing parking tickets. I hope that’s not true.
Before I was going to finally write a blog post about their horrible website, they have added a banner on the top the page ‘Click Here for all coronavirus updates.’
I clicked, and there’s not much there coming directly from city officials, but they wisely are tapping into Delaware County content which is great and should be shared. Also, there is an extensive list of resources from the Center for Disease Control and the PA Health Department.
As I vented last night on the phone, we came up with what we’d expect to see on the City of Chester website home page that is specific to Chester residents:

  • Where to find food
  • Where to get tested if you’re sick
  • Simple explanation of the city’s State of Emergency
  • School district updates
  • Police policy during the crisis period
  • Shut-off policies from utilities
  • A link to Chester Matters Blog who is dedicating all coverage to ‘Covid-19 While Black’
  • A direct message from the mayor letting us know he’s still in town and cares about us since we haven’t heard a thing from him up to this point.

If you’ve never connected to the City of Chester website, this is the time to do so. If you don’t have internet access or a smart phone, I don’t know what their alternative methods to communicate coronavirus updates to you.
How Chester manages the coronavirus will be so different and so much more difficult than other communities around here. We have a large portion of our population under the poverty line. We have a large number of senior citizens living on top of each other in 7-senior living facilities. We have a larger than average population of people existing with chronic illnesses, many of them respiratory in nature. And we’re mostly Black which usually means we’re not going to be on the top of the list of help and resources when the Hunger Games get real.
We need to be over-communicated to at this point. We’re going to get hit hard. I need to see a lot more out of city government.

The squeaky wheel get’s the test kits.

Is Livia Smith, Director of Chester’s Health Services, banging on the doors of Delaware County council begging them to make sure they include Chester in coronavirus testing? Radnor is testing people in the street with coronavirus test kits and Chester hasn’t taken a single temperature.
City government, this is your time to shine. The ball is in your court. Show us what you got. As you all are so prone to say, ‘We can do better.’ The time for talk is over. Do better now. This is a life or death situation for many of us around here.
Step up NOW!