Archive | March 2014

Delaware County updating its 911 system

PROSPECT PARK — Delaware County Council approved a pair of agreements Wednesday that will update the county’s 911 system.

The county is replacing the network interface hardware and upgrading the software used by the county’s computer-aided dispatch system. Council approved a $71,124 contract with Infranet Technologies Group to provide and a $8884,329 contract with Intergraph Corporation to provide the upgrades.

Chad Brooks, chief of operations, said the current hardware was installed in the 1990s. The current software program was put in place in 2003.

The new equipment and software will improve the efficiency of the county’s emergency response, Brooks said. The county’s 911 system handled about 1.1 million calls last year.

The new software will run faster, archive up to five years of data and make it easier for dispatchers to handle multiple calls at once, Brooks said. The system also will be compatible to the new one used by the Pennsylvania State Police.

“The main thing was getting the PCs up to current standards and getting the server updated,” Brooks said.

Council also:

  • Approved an agreement with Joseph Barbato Associates for structural engineering services needed for the Orange Street Parking Garage in Media. The services are not to exceed a cost of $65,000.
  • Renewed the DuProcess Court Financial Maintenance agreement with CDS Inc. for $41,895.
  • Honored Hanna Maier for her efforts to implement anti-bullying programs in the Interboro School District.
  • Presented a resolution celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the Prospect Park Free Library.

UFCW Local 1776 backs Rongione for state House

Vince Rongione announced today that the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 is backing him as he seeks election to the state House of Representatives.

Rongione, a Democrat, is running against Republican Jamie Santora for the open seat in the 163rd Legislative District. Republican state Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, of Upper Darby, is retiring at the end of his term.

“We’ve historically been Micozzie people, but we know that Vince Rongione is the right man for the future of this area and this economy,”  Local  1776 director of political and legislative action John Meyerson said in a statement.

Rongione, an attorney from Upper Darby, has been endorsed by four unions, including Plumbers Local 690, the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 614.

Rongione said the endorsement from Local 1776 shows that local politics aren’t about parties but the candidate that is best for the job.

“It’s great to have folks who have supported Rep. Micozzie come and be supportive of me,” Rongione said. “It really does show that not everything is partisan politics. These stakeholders want to see what’s best for our local economy and our local community. Independent of political party, they’ve chosen me as the right person to take us forward.”

Santora, an Upper Darby Councilman, has not announced any endorsements.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of labor,” Santora said. “I will continue to be a big supporter of labor. I hope in the future that I’ll have a chance to sit down with some of the folks myself and be able to earn their endorsements. I did not get that opportunity with Local 1776 but I look forward to working with other unions.”

UFCW Local 1776 represents more than 24,000 members who work in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing plants and nursing homes, among other locations.


Vanella-Kudenko, Broach withdraw candidacies

A pair of Democrats running for seats in the General Assembly are withdrawing their candidacies.

Michelle Vanella-Kudenko withdrew from the Democratic primary for the 162nd Legislative District, in which she was unopposed. She was attempting to unseat Republican state Rep. Nick Miccarelli, of Ridley Park, in the general election.

Christopher Broach withdrew from the Democratic primary for the Eighth Senatorial District, in which he was challenging incumbent state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, of Philadelphia.

Vanella-Kudenko, a biology technician, is withdrawing from the race following a challenge to the nominating petition she submitted earlier this month. The challenge, brought by two registered Democrats and filed by a Republican lawyer, questioned the validity of 176 signatures collected by Vanella-Kudenko’s campaign. State House candidates need 300 valid signatures to get on the primary ballot; Vanella-Kudenko collected 364 signatures.

“My dedication to our community is what prompted me to run for state representative of District 162,” Vanella-Kudenko said. “I have greatly enjoyed meeting my neighbors, sharing concerns and discussing the issues that affect us all. Today, it saddens me to announce that I am withdrawing from the race.

“I wish to thank everyone involved for their help and support. I will, of course, continue to volunteer, whether it is raising awareness about the billboard in Hetzel Park or raising much needed funding for our local organizations, schools and libraries. Please know that regardless of the role, my commitment to serve our district is unwavering.”

Miccarelli, who is seeking his fourth term in Harrisburg, declined comment.

Broach, a data analyst from Colwyn, declined to comment on his decision to withdraw, saying he would release a statement later this week. Williams could not be reached for immediate comment.

Davidson, Smith announce endorsements

State Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, and Billy Smith, one of her two challengers in the Democratic primary, each announced endorsements today.

Davidson, of Upper Darby, announced that she has been endorsed by the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1 and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776. Smith, of Lansdowne, announced that the National Organization of Women is backing him.

The Democratic primary for the 164th Legislative District also includes Dafan Zhang, of East Lansdowne. Saud Siddiqui, of Upper Darby, is running as a Republican.

Davidson thanked Steelworkers 10-1 and UFCW 1776 in a statement.

“I was the only Democratic challenger to defeat the Republican Party in 2010 in Delaware County after decades of control with help from the members and leadership from the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1 and the United Food and Commercial Workers,” Davidson said. “We continued to fight for refinery jobs once the closures threatened to end work for hundreds and we continue to fight privatization of our state liquor stores and push for an increase in minimum wage. I am proud to be endorsed by these hard-working women and men and will continue to fight for them.”

Smith issued a statement saying he was humbled by the endorsement of Pennsylvania branch of NOW. Delaware County does not have its own local chapter.

“As the son of a single mother, who was also raised with the help of my single grandmother, I am keenly aware of the struggles and gains that women have endured and made to attain gender equality,” Smith said. “I am forever in debt to the amazing women in my life for helping me become the man that I am today. I’ve always stood with women and will continue to do so as a member of Pennsylvania state legislature.”

Zhang, who has not announced any endorsements, issued a statement addressing Davidson’s union endorsements. He did not respond to NOW’s endorsement of Smith.

“Having personally struggled along with my family, friends, and neighbors in the 164th district for over a decade, I am most perfectly in touch with what is going on in my community,” Zhang said. “I also have been actively fighting for the prosperity of my fellow residents and their children through the use of practical education. If any local organizations wish to learn more about my struggles, vision and plans, please contact me and I would be elated to meet their members.”

The primary is May 20.

Gov. Corbett announces Millbourne is no longer financially distressed

Millbourne – a borough of 1,246 residents bordering Philadelphia – is no longer on the state’s list of financially distressed municipalities.

Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican seeking re-election, formally announced the news Thursday afternoon at a press conference outside the borough hall. Millbourne became just the seventh municipality to exit Act 47, the state program for financially-distressed municipalities.

“It’s the culmination of 21 years of hard work, of careful budgeting, cooperation – and I want to stress that – between your civic leaders and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said. “It marks also a transition from the economic and administrative chaos in which this town did find itself in 1993 to one of solid economic decision-making.

“Obviously, it’s not been an easy journey for the borough, but with five straight years of positive fund balances on its books, careful spending and a commitment to progressive, local government, that journey is now over. But a new one does begin. Our Dept. of Economic and Community Development now believes that Millbourne has the ability to sustain a positive budget balance for the foreseeable future.”

The borough entered Act 47 in 1992 – four years after a Sears department store moved to a new location along 69th Street in Upper Darby. The borough struggled to find a way to replace the tax revenue.

“When we lost that source of revenue, our tax base took a tremendous hit,” Mayor Tom Kramer said. “We were struggling to make ends meet with that. It was several years after (Sears) left, we entered Act 47. Now, coming out of it, (it’s) really due to a lot of cutting expenses and being creative with spending.

“Actually, I think we’ve got better services now and we’ve been able to keep our property taxes stable for the last four years.”

Millbourne, which has an annual budget of about $750,000, slashed its insurance costs by 50 percent, installed energy-efficient streetlights and saved money on various items by joining the state’s COSTARS (cooperative purchasing program).

The borough has spent within its budget for five years, Kramer said. Its reserve fund stands at $319,000. The 1-mill property tax increase this year was the first tax hike since 2010.

Kramer said there is a $10 million commitment to develop the former Sears property into a mixed-used complex, but another $6 million is needed to cover infrastructure costs. He said the borough is looking to gain that funding from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership.

Now that Millbourne is out of Act 47, it will lose some perks associated with the program.

“I don’t think it’s really going to impact us that much,” Kramer said. “A lot of funds that were available aren’t really there anymore.”

Kramer is part of an all-Democratic administration that includes five council members. David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democratic Party, praised Corbett for recognizing their work.

“The Democratic elected officials’ sound fiscal management lifted Millbourne out of financial distress,” Landau said in a statement released before Corbett’s announcement. “While Gov. Corbett was working hard to help out his donors and big business in Harrisburg, the Democratic leadership in Millbourne was busy securing the economic future of the borough.”

Corbett rebuked the remark as partisan politics.

“If they want to make it partisan, make it partisan,” Corbett said. “I think it’s through the leadership of the civic leaders who are here. If you look at many of the (Act 47) cities, they’re Democratic cities also. … That’s not the issue – whether it’s a Democratic city or a Republican city. The issue is … working with the Dept. of Community and Economic Development and working with the leaders of those municipalities to get them help (and) to get themselves out of Act 47.

“If they want to make partisan politics out of it, let them make partisan politics out of it. I’m here to congratulate the men and women who did this.”

There are 20 municipalities that remain in Act 47, including the city of Chester.

Corbett faces a primary challenge from Bob Guzzardi, an Ardmore businessman. There are five Democrats vying for the seat.

Missed County Council? Here’s what happened this morning

Delaware County Council appointed Tedman O’Hara, of Media, to the Delaware County Parks and Recreation Board at its meeting today. He was appointed to a term expiring in March 2018.

O’Hara, an information technology consultant, unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Media last year.

Council also reappointed Francis J. Catania, of Upper Darby, Dominic A. Pileggi, of Concord , and Patrick V. Larkin Jr., of Marple , to the Delaware County Economic Development Oversight Board. They each will serve a three-year term expiring March 31, 2017.

Catania is an associate professor at the Widener University School of Law and the son of the late Francis J. Catania Sr., a former Delaware County president judge.

Pileggi is the chairman of the Concord Township Board of Supervisors and the cousin of state Sen. Dominic F. Pileggi, R-9, of Chester.

Larkin is the area president for Arthur J. Gallagher and Co. He also is on the board of trustees at Temple University.

Council also approved:

  • The allocation of $250,032 to municipalities as part of the Pothole Assistance for Taxpayers program. The money is part of the county’s supplemental liquid fuels tax fund.
  • Revisions to an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to establish a maximum reimbursement of $4.461 million for the construction and inspection required for the Grant Avenue Bridge replacement over Muckinipattis Creek in Folcroft and Glenolden.
  • An agreement with Haverford to assume the responsibility of a Bearcat Emergency Response Vehicle. The Bearcat is an armored vehicle used by SWAT teams.
  • A resolution supporting passage of state legislation to enable police officers to administer Naloxone to people experiencing a potentially fatal overdose of heroin.

IBEW Local 614 endorses Vince Rongione for state House

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 614 has endorsed Vince Rongione for the state House of Representatives.

Rongione, a Democrat, is running against Republican Jamie Santora for the open seat in the 163rd Legislative District. State Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, R-163, of Upper Darby, is retiring at the end of his term.

IBEW Local 614 represents 1,450 electricians employed by Exelon Generation, PECO Energy and Veolia Energy.

“Rongione is the best candidate to bring good jobs to our local economy, improve our infrastructure, and fight for working families,” IBEW Local 614 President Emil Meyer said in a statement released by Rongione’s campaign. “Vince understands that the safe, efficient and consistent delivery of all forms of energy by our members is the linchpin upon which every other aspect of modern society relies. We trust him to look out for us and his community.”

Rongione, an attorney from Upper Darby, also has been endorsed by the United Steelworkers Union Local 10-1 and the Pennsylvania Plumbers Union Local 690.

Rongione credited organized labor as being the backbone of the middle class, saying it is the reason he was able to gain a quality public education and attend college.

“I’m honored to have the support of these hard working men and women,” Rongione said in a statement. “I look forward to working with IBEW 614 and our energy companies to improve and modernize our infrastructure, create new jobs, protect our workers and neighborhoods, and deliver energy efficiently to Delaware County.”

Rongione previously served as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Joseph Sestak and former state Rep. Bryan Lentz.

Santora, an Upper Darby Councilman, is the co-president of Moore & Ryan Real Estate in Broomall. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meehan honored by U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Upper Darby, with its annual Spirit of Enterprise Award last week for his support of pro-growth, pro-jobs policies.

The Chamber cited 13 House bills as critical during the 2013 Legislative Session. Meehan supported the Chamber’s position on 12 of them (92 percent). They included votes to reopen the federal government and raise the national debt ceiling, delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate provision and ease approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Other news and notes:

  • The Delaware County District Attorney’s Office was awarded a Paul Coverdell Forensic Science grant totaling $94,874. The funding is to be used to purchase a ballistic microscope to be used by the Criminal Investigative Division’s laboratory. The funding will be released by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in April, announced state Rep. Joe Hackett, R-161, of Ridley Township.
  • The Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The resolution was penned by Hackett.
  • Gov. Tom Corbett nominated Wendy B. Roberts, of Garnet Valley, to serve as a Magisterial District Judge in Delaware County, presiding over District 32-2-49. Corbett nominated Steven Bradley, of Sharon Hill, to serve on the Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority. He also confirmed Maceo Davis, of Chadds Ford, and Nathaniel Nichols, of Media, to serve on the Lincoln University Board of Directors. He confirmed Chris Guilday, of Media, as a member of the Navigation Commission for the Delaware River.

Planned Parenthood PAC endorses Billy Smith

The political action committee for Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania announced it is endorsing Billy Smith for the state House of Representatives.

Smith, a defense attorney, is challenging state Rep. Margo Davidson, D-164, of Upper Darby, in the Democratic primary. Dafan Zhang, a third-year law student, also is running as a Democrat in the primary.

“Billy is a strong advocate for women’s health and rights, and will fight for women’s access to birth control, preventive health care and reproductive rights in the legislature,” PAC Executive Director Sari Stevens said in a statement announcing the endorsement.

The announcement said the 164th Legislative District needs a “true advocate” to ensure women have access to reproductive health services, including abortion services. Stevens said Planned Parenthood is disappointed by Davidson’s support for a pair of bills regarding abortions.

Davidson supported a 2011 bill that required abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as freestanding, ambulatory surgical facilities. She also voted in favor of a 2013 bill preventing health insurance exchanges offered through the Affordable Care Act from covering most abortions. Both bills were supported by about three dozen Democrats.

“We have faced unprecedented attacks here in Pennsylvania straight out of the Tea Party playbook and Rep. Davidson voted for two such attacks that are now law in Pennsylvania after being an endorsed candidate in 2010,” Stevens said. “Given the relentless attacks we continue to see, it is clear that we need true advocates for women’s health in Harrisburg and we are confident that Billy is exactly the kind of candidate we need.”

Davidson has defended her votes on each bill, saying abortions should be “legal, safe and rare.” She said she voted to prevent abortion coverage on ACA health insurance exchanges because federal law prevents federal money from funding abortions.

Smith also has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, and state Rep. Brian Sims, D-182, of Philadelphia.

Davidson has the backing of the Delaware County Democratic Party and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 830. She also has been backed by U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, D-1, of Philadelphia; state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-8, of Philadelphia, and Upper Darby council members Barbarann Keffer and Sekela Coles.

Zhang has not announced any endorsements.

Saud Siddiqui, chief executive officer of the Upper Darby Caring Foundation, is running as a Republican. He is unopposed in the primary.

DA Seth Williams backing Billy Smith for state House

Democratic state House candidate Billy Smith announced today that he has received the endorsement of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

Smith, an attorney from Lansdowne, is challenging state Rep. Margo Davidson, of Upper Darby, in the May 20 primary for the 164th Legislative District seat.

Dafan Zhang, an East Lansdowne law student, also is running in the Democratic primary. Saud Siddiqui, chief executive officer of the Upper Darby Caring Foundation, is running as a Republican.

Smith worked under Williams while serving as a Philadelphia assistant district attorney. He now has his own lawfirm in Philadelphia, where he primarily serves as a defense lawyer.

“We need true progressives in the Pennsylvania legislature who will stand up and be champions for what’s right,” Williams said in a statement released by Smith’s campaign. “I had the privilege of supervising Mr. Smith when he was a prosecutor in Philadelphia and I know he will take that commitment to excellence and justice to Harrisburg as he fights for Delaware County.”

Smith, a former Lansdowne councilman, added Williams to an endorsement list that also includes the Pennsylvania State Education Association and state Rep. Brian Sims, D-182, of Philadelphia.

“Seth Williams commitment to progressive values and making our city and region safe is something I admire,” Smith said in a statement. “Having worked for Seth Williams as an assistant district attorney, it means a great deal to have the district attorney on board. His support and the support of my neighbors in the 164th district will help send another true progressive to Harrisburg to fight Tom Corbett’s extreme agenda and get Pennsylvania back on the right track.”

Davidson is seeking a third term in Harrisburg. She earned the endorsement of the Delaware County Democratic Party last month and also has the backing of the International Brotherhood of Teamster Local 830.

Zhang has not announced any endorsements.