Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Idea for Neighborhood Pride

One of the things that is quite apparent when one walks through Center City is that people just do not care. Dirty streets, slum rentals, broken dangerous sidewalks, ugly wooden fire escapes from attic that slumlords have converted to bedrooms to eke a few more dollar to sate their greed - these all scream that the people that live here, and those that are planning on retiring from the proceeds of others misery just do not care.

How can rental tenants take pride int heir neighborhood when the slumlord they rent from skirts the law by not registering the property? How can they have a sense of pride when their house is dilapidated? Being poor is not a crime.

For instance, I have neighbors that I will use as an example. The owner of their house has refused to register it with the city. With city cutbacks in manpower, nobody apparently is going after these landlords, and forcing them to bring their rentals up to code.

These tenants are neat, clean, and do their best to maintain their house. the landlord, on the other hand, had to be forced to repair a leaky roof, and even then did not do the job properly. The carpet in the house is worn through to the bare floor. The house needs to be painted, and it needs new windows. The windows do not even have screens, as required by code. I understand bedrooms do not have doors, as required.

The city needs to clamp down on landlords - to search out unregistered rentals and immediately come down on these scofflaws. The fine for not registering a rental needs to be punitive - $1,000 for the first offense seems like a good place to start.

They need to then be forced to bring the apartment up to code in 30 days, and if the apartment is uninhabitable, they need to be forced to pay for the relocation of their tenants into suitable units at the same rent.

Sidewalks are the responsibility of the landlord - make these landlords bring sidewalks up to code. If the paint on the aluminum siding is faded, it is time for a fresh coat of paint.

No more allowing attics to be converted into sleeping quarters, unless the landlord can do it with a sprinkler system. These ugly fire escapes have to go.

When the streets and the neighborhood like nice and presentable, landlords will only benefit by attracting a higher class of renters.

Center City Cleanup Day

Center City Cleanup Day

Mark your calendars - Saturday October 16, 2010
8AM - 12 Noon

Place items on curbside for pick-up - appliances, old furniture, yard brush are accepted. There will also be dumpsters provides at the corner of N. 3rd and Vine Streets.  Regular household trash is NOT accepted. Please, no paint cans or hazardous materials.

Center City Cleanup Day is sponsored by the City of Millville, the Center City Neighborhood Group, and Silver Run School. Center City Volunteers, and Silver Run Students and Staff clean up the litter in the streets. Afterward, we enjoy soda and pizza.

We request that concerned Center City residents volunteer to police the trash on their own streets.Clean Streets are as important as Safe Streets.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ideas for a better neighborhood

There is much more to a crime and nuisance free neighborhood than increasing police patrols and throwing people in jail - though law enforcement does play the key role.

But just as critical is a neighborhood's appearance. If the properties are well kept, if people care enough to pick up the litter in front of their homes and better yet, don't toss it in the street in the first place, a message is sent that the tenants and homeowners care about their neighborhood. A lot of the nuisance activity will move off that block. It may only move a block away, but the point is, it moves.

Another benefit is that rentals, necessary for a well-rounded community, will be able to attract a higher quality of tenant if the neighborhood is clean, and the house or apartment is neat, clean and respectable.  

I am trying to garner support for several projects towards this end. One is an adopt-a-street program for Center City. I would like the churches in center city, and there are plenty of them, to step up to the plate and adopt a one-block section of street.

I have city commissioner Dale Finch's word that he will work with me on this project, and it appears that Ed Eihnaus of AHOME, coordinator of the Heart of Millville Project, will assume responsibility and a leadership role, also.

The idea is that we get a group of volunteers to attack a block. We have neighborhood children picking up the trash. We have adults with weed whackers and edgers cutting the grass along the sidewalks, edging the sidewalks, and removing the grass from between the sidewalk cracks and curbs.

Now we will give that section to the adopting group, the church of whatever, or a boyscout troop, or a social club - I don't care who. They will then pledge to walk that section at least once a week and clean, cut, edge - whatever they have to, to maintain it.

Idiot discharges handgun on High Street

In an act of utter stupidity, a moron named Juan Xavier Maldonado shot his gun into the air several times on High Street after an argument.
A 20-year-old Millville man was arrested early Sunday on charges he repeatedly shot a revolver in the air outside a North High Street home following a confrontation.

Juan Xavier Maldonado, of the 1700 block of East Broad Street, was arrested Sunday and charged with simple assault, possession of weapons for unlawful purposes and unlawful possession of a handgun, police said.
A group of people was gathered at a home on the 300 block of North High Street home when one man, whose identity is unknown, was asked to leave around 3:45 a.m., according to a police report released Monday.
A North High Street home? This "home' had to have been an apartment above one of the stores. The nail salon maybe? The city need to take action, talk to the owner of the building, and ask him if his tenants were properly screened before he rented the apartment.

There is absolutely no excuse for this sort of activity in the middle of the arts district. And there is no excuse for landlords to rent to idiots, when there are many respectable people that would be happy to rent a space in the middle of the district.

100 N. 4th Street, another nuisance in the works

100 N. 4th Street is fast becoming a nuisance. Slumlord Bernadette Joseph has allowed this property to not only become an eyesore, but it is now a hangout for thugs.Of course, Joseph lives at 1286 Roosevelt Blvd in Vineland, and could likely not care less about the deplorable condition.

The landlord has allowed gang graffiti to grace the side of this building. The city, as I understand, had to step in and issue a citation forcing the landlord to paint the building. They selected a mismatched color and painted only on side. Is this perhaps a show of contempt not only for Millville's code enforcement, but also for the neighborhood?

The yards of this building are usually littered with trash and debris, and drug dealers sit on the wall next to the parking lot, waiting for their customers.

Violence in center city

A 16-year old from Cedar street stabbed a 21-year old from Brandriff Ave this weekend.
A 16-year-old boy stabbed a 21-year-old city man during a fight Sunday afternoon, police said.

Investigators said they believe the fight may have been drug-related.

Police were dispatched at 3:28 p.m. to 2nd and Oak streets for a fight in progress involving weapons.

Officers determined a 16-year-old Cedar Street resident stabbed Joshua Graham, of Brandriff Avenue, twice in the left side with a knife during the fight, according to a police report released Monday.
If they were hanging out at 2nd and Oak, it was almost definitely drug related. Oak Street is a war zone, and it is about time the city take seriously its responsibility to clean up this mess that is within its arts district. This sort of activity is unacceptable.

If we can't take the thugs off the street, we need to at the very least penalize the slumlords that rent to thugs, and allow nuisance activity to occur on their properties.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Acting chief acts!

Tom Haas, Millville's acting police chief hit the ground running. I suspect we will see positive news in the papers in the coming weeks.

Lou Magazzu is rearing his ugly head once more, demanding a consolidation of county dispatch services. In his power grab to monopolize all county services, he could not care less about the negative impact such a move would have on Millville residents, or the cost this would impose on taxpayers.

Meanwhile, Millville Acting Police Chief Tom Haas came out strongly against the proposal. “It’s not a good idea,” he said.
Haas said his police dispatchers do a good job of filtering calls, reducing by about half the number of calls that actually require a response from a police officer. He also said the conversion to a countywide system could be too cost prohibitive.
Haas said individual departments would know their municipalities better than a countywide set up.
For instance, he said, some residents call in reports of shots being fired just to speed up police response time to a situation. Millville dispatchers have come to recognize those callers, and will send one car out instead of two or more, he said.

Haas hit the hot points, and these are the reasons that Millville's cops are against this, and the reason that community leaders oppose it.

First of all, the county dispatchers do not know Millville. This year a Millville resident called the county 9-11 to report a problem at 2nd st. and Vine St. when the dispatcher kindly informed them that those two roads do not intersect. The real problem is that Vine Street at that area is a county road, and these guys don't know that?

Next, the Millville Police Department just spent a fortune on updating the computer system. The county system is not able to be integrated with Millville's system, and the cost to make the two systems compatible is prohibitive. That cost would of course fall on Millville taxpayers, taking needed funds away from necessary police budgets.

And we finally come to the last aspect, which is most disturbing. The police dispatchers man the front desk at the police station. Remove these positions, and now we would have to take men off the street to work the desk during the daytime hours. At night, a decision would have to be made to lock the doors and leave the police department empty - endangering citizens that would go to the station after dark seeking assistance or protection.

The paper refers to Gloucester County, claiming that consolidation is more cost effective. The reporter doesn't analyze the numbers, however. Cumberland County is much larger than Gloucester; it has 164 more square miles. Gloucester's largest city in area is Glassboro, which is one-quarter the area of Millville, with about half the population. The demographics are completely different, and so comparisons  are faulty.

The bulk of Gloucester County is made up of townships, many having their own, relatively small police force. Consolidating many smaller forces does indeed make sense - Millville has one of the largest police departments in the state. Vineland, too.

In all, there would be no real costs savings, and the inefficiency would likely cause dangerous delays in response time. Oh, and it should be noted that V-Comm, the company being paid an exorbitant fee by the county taxpayers is a democratic contributor.

The website, has long uncovered the pattern of contributors to the Camden County machine getting Cumberland County jobs. This is a way that companies avoid pay-to-play laws. In return, Camden democrats give that money as contributions to the Cumberland County machine.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

10 free online tools

Chris Jacobson runs a website geared towards attaining a criminal justice degree. I make no recommendation, good or bad, about that part of the site as I am not familiar with their credential or history.

However, he has an excellent guide with links to ten free online tools for tracking criminals in our neighborhoods.

The first link doesn't apply to Millville, but there are links to the national sex offender registry, the official neighborhood watch site, and more.

New Chief in town

Tom Haas was appointed acting Chief upon the retirement of former chief Ed Grennon.

Grennon will be sorely missed. He made some major changes in the department, including giving it a publicly accessible face.

Haas comes with 30 years of experience, claims he loves his job, and we wish him the best.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gunshots on 9th street?

A few residents report having heard 10-15 gunshots along north 9th street several days ago, during the overnight hours.

Rumor is the police also found several shell casings in the area. Nothing confirmed yet, and fortunately no known damage.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Larry's Bar robbed at gunpoint

An armed man robbed Larry's Bar at gunpoint Wednesday night, around 9:30pm.

A lone gunman robbed Larry’s Bar & Restaurant Wednesday night.

Three customers and four employees were inside the bar, located at 1115 S. 2nd St. (Route 47), when it was robbed at gunpoint at about 9:30 p.m., Millville Police Det. Lt. Les Watson said today.

The robber entered the bar dressed in all black clothing and armed with a gun, demanded money from the bartenders, and fled toward the rear of the bar, possibly toward South 3rd Street, after he was handed an undisclosed amount of cash.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gunfire incidents solved

I recently reported on gunfire in and around the arts district. We have posted articles about some wretched rental properties that are a large nuisance, as well as a danger to out-of-town visitors.

There is a slumlord from Galloway Twp. - we seem to have quite a few so-called "investors" from Galloway Twp.- that owns 511 N 2nd Street, an area that is one of Center City's larger nuisances.

A 21-year-old city man is facing weapon charges after he was arrested last week with a .32-caliber handgun authorities say was used in several recent instances of gunfire.

Police began probing the activities at 511 N. 2nd St. in late August after developing information its apartment No. 1 was at the center of several recent reports of gunfire, as well as drug-dealing and fights, Millville Police Det. Sgt. Jody Farabella said.

This area is inside Millville's Arts District, but scumbag slumlords could care less that their negligence, like a cancer, eats away at the positive changes the city has been implementing.

This particular slumlord is a coward, hiding behind an LLC so that he cannot be identified. The name of the owner is Future Unlimited Property Management. I would guess the "unlimited" in the business name refers to the nuisance activity perpetrated on this neighborhood.

A little digging revealed the owner's name.  According to tax records, the owner is Winsel Lyles, 307 Longfellow Ct., Galloway Twp., NJ 08205. he also owns 513 N. 2nd St., another house that has been identified as a problem.

It is time that the City of Millville put teeth into their ordinances. The excessive Use of City Services ordinance is not used to its fullest extent, and these landlords and slum tenants MUST be fined. And it is well past time to begin revoking rental certificates from these repeat offenders.

Home Invasion on 6th Street

There is a disturbing report of an armed home invasion in Center City.

Police here are investigating a home invasion-style burglary on North 6th Street Friday night in which two people were robbed at gunpoint of a total of $1,000.

The crime was reported to authorities at about 10:20 p.m.

Three people inside the 100-block home at the time told investigators they headed toward a bedroom to investigate a noise, Millville Police Det. Lt. Les Watson said Monday.
This story is a cautionary tale, warning everyone to be vigilant, not only on the streets but especially in the supposed safety of your home.

Doors should always be locked behind you. Windows that are accessible from the ground should never be open wide enough to allow a person to enter undetected.

Invest in motion detection outdoor lights, and leave outdoor lights on ti illuminate your yard.

Trim hedges back, and don't have any bushes close to windows to act as a shield. And, to, even though you are safe in your own house, why is there any need to keep $500 on your person? Have you ever heard of a bank account? A debit card keeps the cash readily available for almost all purchases, although our local drug dealers still don't have the capability for electronic transactions...