An answer to Jennifer and friends

Make sure you read Jen and Charlie's posts here and here which detail State Rep Angel Cruz's proposed legislation to ban needle exchange programs from operating within 500 feet of a residence or school.

Then read the reply from a staffer for Rep Cruz below.

My favorite part is the implication that Jen is writing anonymously. As many of you know, Jen Murphy is the current chair of Philly for Change, and she worked very hard, and very publicly, to help elect Maria Quinones-Sanchez in the 7th City Council district.

Enjoy! --Ray

Dear Jennifer,

I read your reply you sent me at Representative Cruz’s office, you mentioned the Philadelphia Zoo as the closest location to your home, the admission would cost $18.00 per person, (by the way the admission to the Zoo in January and February is based on the daily temperature) luckily for us I found the Philadelphia Art Museum, right down the street form your house, and admission is whatever you want to pay on Sundays. If by chance the Representatives bill does not pass, are you willing to let Prevention Point use your address? Or maybe the six other people, who had comments, would be willing to allow the use of their addresses, at least the ones who live in Philadelphia.

Jennifer, you said banning the needle exchange program is reactionary and short sighted; the Representative is not banning the program. He is trying to stop the distribution of needles in residential areas in his district. I live within the area that the needles are given out, I’ve walked the streets at the sight of the mobile vans, there are thousands of needles on the ground, in the grass, on the steps of homes, by the railroad under pass there are so many empty needle package bags they were unable to be counted.

In Charles NJ post 1/24/08, “While I don’t think the problem is as bad as it is being made out, 1 needle on the street is 1 too many.” Well Charlie, you apparently have not been at the site. You say in response to his posting, “Charlie’s post is right on, I do not want to minimize the concerns of parents about used syringes, but Charlie points out what should be the response to such a problem, Security Agents, increased Police patrols around the sites and neighborhood associations.” It all sounds nice but its pie in the sky thinking. Security agents – drug addicts shot up in front of Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Joe G and his camera man earlier this fall when I went on a walk through of the site area.

Increased Police Patrols – Mayor Streets Safe Street program worked as long as the City had the money, if you can’t occupy Iraq with billions of dollars, how is Philadelphia going to do it.

Neighborhood Associations – Why should the local Town Watch and Civic Group clean up the mess? They and the residents of the 7th Ward and 180th District have no say in this program.

But maybe if it was a Casino, like in the middle-upper class neighborhoods, then you would feel our pain.

This program gives free needles out to drug addicted persons to stop the spread of AIDS; it does not help the addict to free themselves from addiction. In the process you work hand in hand with the drug dealers to make our neighborhood a One Stop Shopping Center for drug use.

Do not be fooled, a large percentage of users come from all over the City and beyond, the bottom line is the citizens of West Kensington are acceptable casualties in you war on AIDS. It seems you care not that the children in my neighborhoods are trapped in their homes because parents fear for their safety and their health. I hope this attitude is mistaken ignorance but it seems to me to be economic fascism. The upper class is going to force a policy on us because we are lower class and working poor and the majority are Spanish speaking citizens who should be quite and shut up.

I gave you my office number, but like Prevention Point, you will not call, nor have any of the people who posted comments. You do not seem to be interested in hearing the Representatives side of this argument.

As to the comments posted;

Dan U-A – “Holy crap.” God had nothing to do with this, it’s a man made catastrophe dropped in the middle of West Kensington.

Ray Murphy – “Outrageous reply.” The arrogance of you deciding the fate of my neighbors and myself is test book fascism.

Kati Sipp – “That is really quite offensive.” Seems like it only applies to your neighborhood not mine.

D.E.II – “To be fired.” So much for free speech, but then fascists never were much for free speech.

Prove me wrong, pick up the phone, 215-291-5643, talk to me, stop hiding behind your poison post on youngphillypolitics.com, start a real dialog, come to the District and see with your own eyes. Here’s an idea, instead of an executive order to give out needles, issue a new order giving all pharmacies in Philadelphia to sell needles without a prescription, this way addicts do not have to come to West Kensington to get their needles. The money that Prevention Point uses on the needle give away could be used to help the addicts get into detox programs and this would free Prevention Point to visit all neighborhoods, rich or poor.

Setting a better tone for debate

Mr. Evangelista:

You won't meet a group of people who are working to make change in Philadelphia who'd be more in support of city and state laws to try to turn your neighborhood around. So, instead of sending antagonistic emails that seemingly reflect your passion and pain over the loss of life and hope in your neighborhood due to drugs, do your part to start a real dialog.

I have been to West Kensington; I do know what you are talking about.

I am really sorry that your neighbors have to deal with extreme poverty, prostitution, drug dealing, and dirty needles.

Here's the part I don't get though: do you really think banning needle exchange will solve the problem? You really think Prevention Point is to blame for heroin use and sales in your neighborhood?

yours,
ray murphy

Mr. Evangelista

Apparently you're under the impression that I don't think that you should have a right to free speech. Allow me to assure you that is an incorrect interpretation of my comments on the other thread. Quite to the contrary, I'm glad to see you took the time to engage further in dialogue on the issue in question.

And to your further comments I'd like to respond:

I certainly recognize the seriousness of the problems with the needle exchange program that you described, and wouldn't diminish their seriousness in the least. However, I am not convinced that that only viable way to solve those problems is through Rep. Cruz's bill, and I agree with Charlie when he wrote:

While I believe Rep. Cruz is well intentioned, the negative consequences of his legislation would far outweigh the benefits. I do believe there is a way to solve neighborhood concerns regarding the increased use of needles around exchange sites without closing them down.

In fact, your proposal for an order allowing pharmacies to sell needles without requiring a prescription (although I'm not sure if offering the needles for sale would achieve the intended result - maybe allowing/mandating pharmacies to distribute needles for free would be better?), seems like one such viable alternative. I also think that you make some good points in response to Charlie's opinion that increased police presence would effectively solve the problems that the needle exchange programs create.

Still, while I am by no means an expert on the issue, I would hope that Mr. Cruz - in recognizing that drug addiction and Aids are, in fact, very real problems in his district - would do his best to craft legislation that would appropriately balance measures intended to address those problems as well as the unacceptable problem of used needles lying on residential streets. Accordingly, while there certainly are viable yet differing perspectives on this particular issue, I would think that Mr. Cruz's should, as part of his role as a representative, welcome respectfully delivered feedback on related legislation he introduces. As a member of his staff, I believe that it is your job to respectfully receive such feedback and channel it to Rep. Cruz when appropriate. I stand by my comments that if you are unwilling, unable, or don't believe that it's important for you to fulfill your responsibilities in such a manner, you shouldn't be a public liaison for Mr. Cruz's office.

Pie in the sky solution

1) I think your suggestion of allowing pharmacies to act as needle exchanges is a good one and should be explored. Maybe Rep. Cruz would like to hold a hearing or two where this issue can be vetted. I think I would be very supportive of that, and people with drug addictions would no longer concentrate in this one neighborhood.

2) Luckily, a deal has been worked out with Prevention Point. They will just operate the needle exchange program from 3-5pm on Thursdays at this location. The rest of the week they'll be at 37th & Brown, 13th and Washington, Front & Tusculum, 3rd & Girard, and 10th & Fairmont.

3) I bet there are a lot of HIV prevention organizations in other neighborhoods that would operate a needle exchange program with just a tiny bit of financial help from Harrisburg; do we know anyone who could help secure those finances and in-turn relieve the 7th Ward of this burden they shoulder alone?

4)

talk to me, stop hiding behind your poison post on youngphillypolitics.com, start a real dialog

For the record, I did contact Rep Cruz's office before writing the first post. The response I received from you didn't answer my question at all. Instead it made allegations of racism and told me that his constituents didn't care about my fight on AIDS; which quite frankly made me realize that I wasn't speaking to anyone worth replying to because he thought that HIV isn't a problem for people of the 180th.

5) You're using the word fascist wrong.

Young Fascist Politics

5) You're using the word fascist wrong.

There should be some internet emoticon or abbreviation for this phrase (a la "lol"; perhaps "wuf" -- "wrong use of 'fascism'"). It would make so many arguments easier.

Maybe I am selfish . . .

A lot of us in working on the casino issue have advocated for a law preventing casino development within 1500 ft of a home or school. Many in the progressive community have supported those efforts.

Now, Rep. Cruz is looking at eliminating a needle exchange within 500 ft. of a home or school.

My query, why is one okay and not the other? Is it because of the relative wealth of some of the riverfront communities? Is it because we deem casinos worse public policy that needle exchanges? Is it because the attendees of a slot parlor are less desirable than drug users? Is it because it is deemed that many of us have little use for West Kennsington?

I've lived in the same neighborhood most of my life. In fact, I've just bought my first home right down the street from my high school. I love where I live--and it isn't perfect. Guess what, if a needle exchange were operating in my community, I'd lead the charge to move it to a more appropriate location. I wouldn't want children in South Philly seeing folks get high in alleyways, stumbling around and injecting themselves with drugs. That would never happen where I live. And, as for a more appropriate location--that is for the policy makers to decide. So long as it isn't near my house.

So, perhaps more appropriate locations are needed for this needle exchange program. And, if we were talking casinos, a trash-to-steam plant or a highway interchange, we'd laude Rep. Cruz's efforts.

Drugs may be a big problem in West Kennsington. That doesn't mean that its residents should just take what they are given. Maybe they are being selfish. Maybe I am too. But, I'd say it is a good kind of selfish--the one that wants to find some order in chaos.

This doesn't mean that Rep. Cruz's work on the drug problem in his community should end here. But, I remember reading the Gambardello's article and wondering what if I lived near there. "What if . . . "

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Interesting points, Gaetano

But I don't thing your analogy applies.

The purpose for the establishment of a needle exchange program is to provide a social service benefit for some members of a community. The purpose for the establishment of a casino is for the casino owners to make money by providing a commercial service benefit to consumers. As such, I think that different criteria should be used to help evaluate the cost/benefit equation.

There are benefits, and then there are benefits. In once case, the benefit is helping to prevent someone from getting Aids. On the other hand, the benefit is the temporary amusement of customers. I see a meaningful distinction there.

There are costs and there are costs. In some ways, it seems that needle exchange programs and casinos both exacerbate existing problems. Needle exchange programs don't create addicts or the phenomenon of needles being strewn on the sidewalk, and casinos don't create prostitution and problem gabling. But, while the seriousness of a street outside a school or a kid's house being littered with discarded needles should be diminished, it seems reasonable to me to say that building new casinos in a region where they don't currently exist exacerbates an existing problem on a much larger scale than running a needle exchange program in a neighborhood where there are already problems with drugs and addicts. Again, I see a meaningful distinction in the costs.

You take great pains to clarify that you aren't anti-casino. You don't believe that there should be a level of restriction on the building of casinos so high that it would prevent them from being built anywhere that they can viably function. Why, then, would you be supportive of a level of restriction on needle-exchange programs such that it might prevent them from being able to function adequately to achieve their intent?

So, in answer to your question, yes, as I see it the reason for the difference would be that "it [is] because [I]deem casinos worse public policy that needle exchanges."

I agree that attempts should be made to find the most appropriate location for needle exchange programs. I would also think that attempts should be made to solve the problems needle exchange problems create, and that viable alternatives to needle exchange programs should be explored. But I don't think that programs that attempt to reduce the spread of Aids should effectively be eliminated without a good faith attempt to fully explore the range of possible solutions to the problems they exacerbate.

Added:

And BTW, I'd like to point out that I think these two questions: Is it because of the relative wealth of some of the riverfront communities? .... Is it because it is deemed that many of us have little use for West Kennsington? are pretty off the wall.

How Far is 500 Feet?

A little bit less than a tenth of a mile. In my community, that would take it from a residential area to one of the many former industrial areas of this city, but still not too far for people to walk to.

If the point is to get the needles and addicts away from homes and schools, then you are right, the anology is not a perfect fit. I'd rather have increased traffic from casinos than used and discarded needles on my block or in my community. Call me crazy. :)

Slot gamblers, whether we like them or not are participating in a lawful activity that, allegedly, raises money for the state. It may not be perfect public policy--we agree there.

Addicts are doing niether. So, if there needs to be a needle exchange, wouldn't you want it away from residents--even if some of those residents are users?

We've been able to located alternate casino sites that accomodate the 1500 ft. marker with relative ease. We've been able to locate them near amenities and transportation to make them viable.

I think a 500 ft. buffer is an easy one.

In any event, we agree--a more appropriate location is needed for the needle exchange program. Like the casino effort, maybe this buffer legislation will start that conversation.

The last two question are essentially to raise this point: there are no needle exchanges in the gentrified and blue collar communities on the riverfront. Maybe it is because there is not a mass of users to create the need. But, we have seen their reaction to casino development and supported their wants for it to be moved. Now, we have residents in a much different part of the city who want to exercise a similar degree of self determination related to where they live. But, because of the value of needle exchanges that we see (not seeing the users discard them everywhere) in a pure policy manner, we are critical.

I don't want one where I live. Do you? And, what would you do if there was?

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

That's a pretty philosophical question, Gaetano

It might make a good Koan, like what is the sound of one hand clapping.

Again, I think you raise (mostly) valid questions. Would I want needle exchange sites away from residents? To the extent that they could be and still be effective, yes. But it seems likely that stipulating that they need to be a minimum of nearly 1/10 mile from any residences would, most likely, render them ineffective. I would guess that in most city neighborhoods, it would be impossible to locate an exchange program that far away from any residences (it certainly would in my neighborhood, unless it was along a trail in Wissahickon Park). So the question becomes would you rather have no needle exchange program at all, needle exchange programs as they currently exist with the problems they create, or try to seek some other path to accomplish the goals of the programs without the current negative impact to the communities where they exist. Itis a valid question - and asking that question is not tantamount to anything other than asking a question about priorities.

If the buffer legislation starts a conversation, great - and it seems to me that Charlie and Jen were doing exactly that, attempting to have a conversation. Implying or outright saying that in doing so they are racist or elitist doesn't seem like a productive way to keep it going. That was the problem with Mr. Evangalista's response - and while I know that you don't think of Charlie of Jen in that way - there is a similar implication in your questions also.

Do I want a needle exchange program where I live? In my immediate neighborhood, there isn't a high volume of addicts - so the question is mute. However, there have been a number of occasions where some of my neighbors and I have differed on issues regarding whether certain social service institutions should be allowed to be established or expanded. I believe that it is everyone's responsibility to take into account the needs of all members of a community. Perhaps that's because I care for a family member whom, quite likely, would be judged as "dangerous" by many and excluded from some communities on the basis of ignorance, prejudice and elitism. But sure, I also believe that everyone have a voice in determining what institutions do and don't locate in their communities - be they casinos or needle exchange programs that want to locate in West Kensington or your neighborhood. There were a whole lot of "progressive" activists who vociferously protested against casinos being located in neighborhoods which aren't all that demographically different than West Kensington. I really think you're barking up the wrong tree with that line or reasoning.

If you bark up the wrong tree in the forest with no one around, does it make a sound?

You mean "moot" not "mute", correct?

A "mute" point makes no sound, but it is not rendered irrelevant or pointless like a "moot" point would be.

You disagree with my analogy to casinos. That is fine--we don't have to agree on the analogy. We also don't have to agree that mockery is ridiculous in this context when I'm asking the same question the residents of West Kennsington would be asking you. It is a tough question to answer, so I understand why it has taken you 4-5 paragraphs to say what amounts to nothing more that "I don't want to say because I hope that would never be the circumstance where I live." You can almost thread a needle through your answer. But, I will be the first one to say: "no, I don't want a needle exchange near my house." It is very easy to thread an answer together with "what ifs". It is much more difficult to say what is really on your mind--that certain activities in my community could affect the investment I have made in myself, my community and my family--just like casinos could.

Jenn and Charlie have many good points in their arguments. But, minus the charges of racism and elitism, so does Angel Cruz. Eventually, something should be worked out to find a middle point. I don't think Jenn or Charlie are being racist of elitist. I think they are advocating a position they believe in.

But, I do think that it is tough to say what is right for West Kennsington without living there. Anyway, you don't live in an area where drug infestation is high so you will never have to worry about addicts and users shooting up on your step. Niether do I. But, I think the law-abiding citizens of West Kensington should have their voices heard. And, considering we both agree this is the start of a conversation, I think it is important to remember the loudest voice should belong to those who live in the community. I don't think you disagree with that.

No one on this blog is discussing eliminating the program--just like I do not advocate the elimination of casinos. Rather, I think policy makers must make tough decisions and find places for these things that do not interfere with the lives and property of law abiding citizens, does not subject their children to harms related to contaminated needles, and what does not subject their children to watching addicts shoot-up on their block. I wouldn't tolerate it.

Why doesn't prevention point run a test? Why don't they find a spot that would comply with the proposed law and let their clientel know where it is. Then, we can see how the law would apply.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Two things

which you probably know.

There are two pretty separate issues: the substantive policy question, and the way citizen input is received.

You say:

But, I think the law-abiding citizens of West Kensington should have their voices heard.

That's the issue: a representative's office that employs a constituent services person who is hostile to constituent input.

On the substantive policy question, it is more complicated and I am glad we are having these discussions. But just like people not wanting Section 8 housing in their backyards, the objective question about the costs and benefits of needle exchanges should be looked at apart the question of some neighbors' preferences. There's a real open question that I think you evade a bit about whether needle exchanges do in fact exacerbate problems with addiction and public safety in a given area, or just reveal problems that already exist and plague places like Kensinton. Same with the question of balancing how they may help with one big public safety issue (disease, which can be communicated to other law abiding residents like lovers or children) while possibly posing others (discarded needles).

Balance

All public policy needs balance. And, from what I have read, I have not seen an indication that Mr. Evangelista is being hostile to constituents--just Jenn and Charlie. Unless they live in his district, they aren't his constituents (I don't know where they live).

That aside, the issue is one of balance. And, good public policy is created through balance and compromise (note, not great public policy, but one that people can live with).

I'm glad the conversation has started on this issue and Jenn and Charlie started it.

As for the substantive policy question; I think you are correct in that there is an open question about the affect of needle exchanges. Just like there is an open question on the costs of legalized gaming. Working in the world of litigation, I find that experts are plyable--so I always question the outcomes of studies.

The real issue is: how do the residents feel about this. Then, we have to balance that with the merits of the program. I think both deserve weight. My impression is, if more appropriate locations can be secured, then that should be a priority for Prevention Point and Angel Cruz. I don't know of anything stopping PP from trying new locations and placings its people around to the former spot to notify users to go to some fields or other place. If there isn't, they should try--or be made to try.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Except...

I think you are correct in that there is an open question about the affect of needle exchanges.

Just to be clear, the overwhelming majority of studies show that it does not increase drug use, and does lower HIV infections.

Second, as was stated, if that law went through, there would be basically be no place for them, anywhere.

Is the second true?

Because, 500 ft. is not a lot of space and we've been able to find a multitude of casino sites within 1000 feet of a home or school and 1500 feet. Obviously, there are less at 1500 ft., but even Foxwoods can be made to comply with 1000 feet.

500 ft. is not a lot of space. I can name 4 spots where I live that can satisfy that boundary. But, since it is near me, I'm not saying where. :p

Look, maybe the comprise here is that PP point cleans up after its clients. Or that the Police start moving the users away from people's property. But, ustually, those compromises do not become real until the threat of positive law is manifested.

As for the first, I don't know if what you are saying is true or not. I trust that it is. But, that doesn't change my position that I wouldn't want to live near one and, I doubt it is very comforting for residents.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

This is a depressing conversation

It isn't comforting to residents of Kensington to live on the block with abadoned houses that are used for drug sales and use either. I don't know, there's so much that has to be done to chip away at that problem, and so little of it would be achieved by a bill like that.

Angel Cruz

Should be focusing his efforts on those issues too.

He shouldn't get a free pass on his shortcomings because of this bill.

It is a depressing conversation. And, one that makes me want to

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Let's be even clearer

It is not Angel Cruz' fault that West Kensington is one of the most economically depressed, devastated places in the city. And he can't do anything on his own to solve that problem.And I think this is some of the frustration that I sense from Mr. Evangelista--no matter how inappropriate his tone is.

I agree with Jen and Charlie that Cruz' bill is really dumb, but with that criticism needs to be some kind of commitment from us to doing something to alleviate poverty and help create opportunity in Kensington.

That's a specific demand, because poverty relief and opportunity creation costs money, especially when dealing with severe drug addiction:

are we going to tell all of our state reps that we want an increase in the personal income tax or tell our city council members we want an increase in the wage tax? Are we going to tell these same electeds we will boycott companies who benefit from state corporate tax loopholes? Do we have other revenue-generating ideas? Are we all gonna tithe more via religious institutions?

What the hell are we all going to do to help out?

In return for our commitment though, Cruz needs to stop grandstanding and trying to dump needle exchange which is a bandaid to, not the cause of the heroin epidemic in Kensington.

As always . . .

Ray brings it down to the practical reality. What are WE willing to do--aside from, apparently, lobby against this law?

What can we do? Or, better yet, what can I do?

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Thanks, Ray

I agree that at the heart of Cruz's legislation and even Mr. Evangelista's response is a shared frustration - and a frustration which is for them, as residents of West Kensington, much more of a burden than what I have to shoulder as a resident of an relatively affluent section of Germantown.

Not to let Cruz off the hook

Certain co-editors think I am being too nice. I certainly don't want Mr. Evangelista or Rep. Cruz to think the heat is off them: what have you guys done to end poverty in your district?

But I also think those of us who don't live in this district need to put up or shut up as well.

You don't have to live in West Kensington to have an opinion

First, it's a statewide bill, so it affects every Pennsylvanian. Second, here are the sites of Prevention Point's needle exchange programs:

37th and Brown Streets (West Philadelphia)
13th St. and Washington Ave. (South Philadelphia)
Somerset and Warnock (North Philadelphia)
Front and Tusculum Sts (North Philadelphia)
321 West Girard Ave. (North Philadelphia)
10th St. and Fairmount Ave. (North Philadelphia)

I don't live near these sites, but I bet more than a few YPPers do. And I believe they're all within 500 ft of residences.

At these sites, Prevention Point also:

provides ancillary services designed to promote harm reducing behaviors and to link consumers with comprehensive medical care, case management, detox and drug treatment, behavioral health care, legal advocacy and other social services. These services include:

Ongoing harm reduction and safer-sex education;

HIV testing and counseling

Care outreach services that link people living with HIV to primary medical care and case management

Referrals to detox, drug treatment, behavioral health care services, medical care, benefits counseling and social services, including housing, job readiness training, and legal services

The concern is that all of these services at these sites will be obliterated by the bill.

Also, while it's always fun to talk about root causes of poverty, our tax policy, etc., I don't want to lose sight of the specific issues here: the prevention of AIDS among drug addicts and efforts to give an easily invisible population social services.

13th and Washington Ave.

May not be 500 ft., but depending on where it is located on that block, could be very close to 500 ft. (which again, isn't that far a distance at all).

13th and Washington is either (1) near an old industrial facility where U-Haul now has its self-storage place; or (2) in the vacant lot where Cirque de Soliel is (I doubt it is there). But, it is, in my view, a more desirable spot because there are no homes on Washington Ave., it is highly industrial and still close enough to a community that needs to be serviced.

If my memory is correct, that could be a compromise model (again, I'm not sure what the communities members in Hawthorne think).

In essence, a buffer of circumstance may be better than a buffer of linear distance. I think that is perfectly reasonable.

But, when they build the condo/retail towers there, I'd imagine they would move the exchange.

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Gaetano you are missing the point

At least in West Kensington, which is unique in this story as the epi-center for heroin sales, use, etc. Is there proof that needles on ground are Prevention Point's fault? Or are junkies leaving them there regardless? If PP went away, does anyone seriously think that heroin would?

I agree with Ray on this

I agree with Ray on this one. PP is best sited with easy access to those who would use its services and there is little proof that PP is responsible for the needles, as opposed to the very, very active heroin trade that led PP to set up its offices there in the first place.

But also see mo post on 13th and Washington below.

-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Gaetano - not for long

13th and Washington is online for becoming 2 31 story mixed residential and office tower on top a large Shops at Liberty Place - style urban mall.

You know this one - approved by Council despite the whole brouhaha over the same developer attempting to "steal the sidewalk" on his other recent project on South Street.

The controversy around the sidewalk landgrab was hotly debated here, on planphilly.com and on PB. The developer threatened to sue PB over discussion of the dining patio / "handicapped ramp" issue and coincidentally also contributed to DiCicco. Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition, the neighborhood civic opposed the tower over height but its zoning was passed by Council anyway.

There's 103 pages of heated discussion if you have a stomach for it here.

The point is 500 feet at 13th adn Washington is not long for this world, as possibly the whole "industrial" character of that strip of Washington Ave as Dranoff has plans for across the street as well.
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

you told me!

gee Tim i didn't realize ANY one could have an opinion!

:)

Oh, it's true! I've seen it myself.

Also, I lived verrrrrry close to 321 W. Girard Avenue

and did not encounter any problems. None. I mean, that's a big social/health services building so there were often a lot of people around it, but nothing to cause concern. Just my experience.

As maybe an aside, I am not even sure what 500 feet proves or changes (aside from maybe making siting a giant pain). To the extent concerns are justified, do they disappear in 500 feet?

Eh

I think that alongside 'ending poverty' is finishing NTI-esque rehabilitation or demolishment of abandoned properties, changing aspects of policing practice, etc. Some of this was referenced in Jen and Charlie's early comments.

Obviously there are efforts to do much of this, but it is hard slogging work and maybe takes a combination of more money and more emphasis and maybe more targeted-ness.

And

You mean "effect," not "affect," and "pliable," not "plyable."

Sorry. I would let it go, but you jumped on "moot"/"mute."

Let all spelling errors be forgiven!

Thank you. I wouldn't have

Thank you.

I wouldn't have jumped on it, but for the tone of the response which was, in my opinion, unfitting of debate. And, a "mute" point makes no sense.

I did mean "effect" and I did spell "pliable" incorrectly. But, alas, I am not a college professor. Just a mere litigation attorney and community activist dividing my time between too many things and the billable hour.

My apologies--those who live in glass houses . . .

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Well, you're right about one thing, Gaetano

I meant "moot," not "mute." As for the rest of your post...

The point I was trying to make in answer to your question about whether I'd want a needle exchange program located withing 500 feet of my house is that I really don't see much point in answering the question in the abstract. It would depend on the extent to which it would exacerbate existing problems - having that information is the only way that I could measure the cost versus the benefit. There is no real-world starting point for me to answer the question.

But what I do know is that I have differed with my neighbors on more than one occasion on questions about how to evaluate the cost versus the benefit to the larger community as a result of establishing certain social service institutions in my neighborhood - with a different view of the equation between what is important for a community and what the effects are of certain activities in my community on my investments in myself and my family.

And so, by extension, the answer to your question is, I suppose, yes, it is entirely conceivable to me that under some circumstances, I wouldn't object to having a needle exchange program within 500' of my house, and that I would disagree with some in my community who would see that as a unfair burden. I'm sorry if you think that's an evasive answer; it's the best I can do. I do, however, disagree with your apparent assumption that I don't want to "say what is really on my mind." I appreciate your honesty, but resent your assumption, apparently, that because I don't agree with you I'm therefore being less than honest.

Apparently, your assumption is that I would stand next to you in opposition should such a circumstance arise, and I'm telling you that's not the case. I'm sure that at some point we'd share perspective, and think it's highly probably that at some point our perspectives would diverge.

I'm usually right about a lot of things.

If we ever agreed, we'd be a force to reckon with. Until then, I am all on my own. :(

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

For what it's worth

I apologize if my tone came across as being "not worthy of debate." It wasn't my intent. I was attempting to play with the ideas a bit. I will say, however, that the tone of my last post was intentionally with an edge - not because you corrected my spelling, but because you implied a dishonesty on my part because I didn't say that I agreed with you about how I'd look at the question of locating a needle exchange program near my house.

No implication of dishonesty meant . . .

Rather, it seemed you were avoiding the question with conditions and what-ifs . . . kind of like what I do at work. :)

I am working to elect Larry Farnese to the General Assembly. Unless otherwise expressly stated, this and every comment or blog I post on YPP and any action I take hereon is solely attributable to me and not Farnese or Friends of Farnese

Maybe it did in reality

but not in my mind

Wow

First of all, Joe, your boss is an elected official, and a public servant. Your salary is paid by all of us. Your boss, as a member of the Philadelphia delegation, and as a PA Rep., reflects on all of us. Your actions reflect on your boss.

When someone from Philadelphia has legitimate concerns about pretty legit subjects like people dying from HIV, your lack of even the most basic level of respect in your response is an embarrassment to your boss, to our party, and to our City and State.

Second, almost no one here is anonymous, or hiding. My name is Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg. Howdy.

And, of course, this all started with two people who actually contacted your office. That is not exactly hiding. Evidently, however, we must have some rule in PA that you are no longer able to contact Reps by mail or email. Instead, you have to prove your are tough or whatever, by personally calling the constituent services person who just told you to go to hell. Again, this is absolutely bizarre.

Third, both Jen and Charlie, who obviously have studied needle exchanges quite a bit, talked about actual evidence. You, on the other hand, did not, and instead said such thoughtful things like:

...the bottom line is the citizens of West Kensington are acceptable casualties in you war on AIDS.

That is a flat out repulsive comment. Can we assume that you- and Rep. Cruz- are unconcerned with HIV infections in your neighborhoods? Oh, and by the way, in terms of spanish-speaking constituents- you are attacking the woman who volunteered hour after hour of her time to elect the one and only Latina City Councilperson.

Fourth, you don't seem to quite get what fascism is or what the right to free speech means, but hey, bygones.

Fifth, and most importantly:

Drugs are ravaging our city. The one method we have truly tried, spending billions of dollars on the war on drugs- has only further ravaged our City, and the people of it. I doubt you will find an audience more willing to help try to figure out ways we can get away from the War on Drugs and on our communities, and instead focus on ending addiction and ending poverty.

Trying to simply get rid of a symptom of that war- the need for clean needles so we don't have an AIDS epidemic- is really hollow until your boss starts leading a fight to go after the disease in the first place. Your boss, through his legislative body, is well-suited to get PA to start getting rid of laws and policies that especially hurt poor and minority communities, and could keep countless young people out of jail, and away from drug addiction and death on the corners of our streets.

So, if that is what you want to talk about, let's begin.

Re: Wow

Of course, Mr. Evangelista doesn't care about HIV+ people in his neighborhood. They don't contribute to his campaign fund.

I am familiar with the type of people who object to these programs. They tend to be either white people who feel the world is better off without black and Hispanic drug addicts, or ultra-conservatives who would tacitly like to see all the drug addicts wiped out.

I live in the Kensington area, my name is M. P. Gallen. I live farther away from the program described than Rep. Cruz and his constituents (I am next to positive I live outside his district), but we still have drug needles and drug dealers. Taking out these programs will just get more addicts killed.

Maybe that's what Rep. Cruz really wants...

The Expatriate

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