The construction and use of the proposed gas pipeline to Shamokin Dam from the Marcellus Shale region to the north of our state presents a huge threat to the health of all valley residents. However, gas company UGI are conspiring to downplay the risks – refusing to publicly accept that there is even a problem! At a recent public meeting one UGI official – Mr. Bernie Holcumb, turned the truth on its head by deceptively denying that there was any radon in the gas from the Marcellus Shale beds!
The company which was recently fined by the Public Utility Commission the maximum amount of $500,000 following a 2011 Allentown explosion which killed 5 people, had their safety record at the same hearing described as “downright alarming”.
UGI – Safety record “downright alarming”!
However, they are taking no such chances with the Sunbury Pipeline. They have set up a separate company – UGI Sunbury LLC – to front the construction and operation of the pipeline and to insulate themselves from the prospect of any future liability. In the event of a catastrophe the parent company can simply wash its hands of it all and walk away, leaving their subsidiary to pay what it can towards any plaintiffs out of their limited resources. Do they even have adequate levels of insurance to cover potential damages to landowners and their property, or are they just minimally bonded? We just don’t know as they have stonewalled any questions concerning this issue.
City Drug Dealers Cashing In after Mazzeo Dismissal
A Common Sight on City Streets
Following the ill-advised and rash removal from office by the mayor of our popular, experienced and effective Chief of Police, Steve Mazzeo, drug dealers are flocking to Sunbury PA like never before.
Many new faces are to be seen on our streets. The word is out – our under-manned and under-resourced police department, still struggling to come to terms with the loss of their leader, and with a new chief yet to find his feet, is being overwhelmed by an unprecedented crime wave – a wave fueled by the activities of these very same drug dealers.
At a time when many local businesses are closing their doors, not only because of the economy but also thanks to the business-hostile environment created by our city administration, the local drug business is booming.
Home invasions, car break-ins, burglaries, robberies, and other violent crimes are keeping our police tied up – and much too busy to deal with the real cause of these activities – drugs. Drug addicts turn to crime in order to finance their habit, and the deeper into it they get then the more money they require.
The Persing Administration continued to move forward towards the abyss at the City Meeting of 3/24/14, as the unraveling camera debacle threatened to destroy what little credibility they had left. Once again former city resident Drake Saxton probed the murky depths of the bid process with a whole series of questions about both the bidding itself and also the subsequent purchase and installation.
How do you lose $200,000 in federal grant money? Quite simple really. Give it to Captain Persing and the rest of the jolly crew at the good ship Sunbury to fund a controversial new security camera system. Yes, the money has been flushed away. The City is now the proud owner of 52 cameras which can’t see in the dark, and for which they would seem to have neither the IP addresses nor the combinations to the locks on the networking boxes, and the guy who does have this information, and on whom nobody bothered to carry out a background check, is facing a double felony 3 count at Westmoreland County Court.
It is hardly surprising, given the above, that Persing does not want to talk about it. Former Sunbury resident Drake Saxton informed the City Meeting of March 10th 2014 that he had submitted multiple right to know requests in an effort to establish both the present status of the project and also receive confirmation that full consideration had been given to the interests both of local citizens and also those of the federal taxpayers, whose money had been used to provide the $200,000 grant back in 2009. The fact that he had not received satisfactory replies to his inquiries he found disconcerting, and a clear reflection of the way in which our city is currently being managed.
In a nutshell, he was trying to discover who, if anyone, was in charge of this project, how efficiently the camera installations had been managed with regards both to best use of resources and also proper placement, whether there had been any checks carried out to insure that the cameras finally installed were in fact the same ones purchased initially by the simple device of checking serial numbers, and also whether there were any unused cameras or other materials, and if so, where they were presently being stored.
The controversy surrounding Sunbury’s troubled security camera system continues to rumble on this week. There are still far more questions than answers.
Big Brother – but is he even Looking?
At last week’s meeting of the City Council (January 13th 2014), Mayor Persing, closely questioned by audience member Mr. Drake Saxton, gave a master class in the art of obfuscation. Representing Not The Item, Mr. Saxton attempted repeatedly to disentangle fact from fiction, in a situation which is rapidly descending into the realms of farce.
Vendetta against Bartello proves costly to City Taxpayers
There have been dramatic new developments in the Joe Bartello “Computergate” case.
In a misleading story published September 27th, the Daily Item claimed that “US Judge dismisses Bartello allegation“. Their report went on to place the blame for the $10,000 in City legal fees for a “frivolous lawsuit” directly on Councilman Bartello – a claim which even the most elementary of investigative journalism by their chief reporter would have revealed to be patently false.
Not The Item spoke with Bartello’s attorney, Timothy Bowers, husband of Kymberley Best, who painted a very different picture indeed.
It turns out that the $10,000 in legal fees which the City claims this case has cost them to date are not down to Bartello at all, but down to the actions of Mayor Persing. Following the original hearing in Sunbury before Judge Saylor, who found against the City, Bartello offered to settle the case in exchange for the City covering his filing and service fees, amounting to some $300. This offer was rejected by Persing.
Do you suffer from anti-social neighbors who insist on regularly lighting fires in their yards? Outdoor wood burning furnaces and home-made fire pits are becoming more popular these days, but for those obliged to breathe this smoke they are far from welcome.
This is the situation faced by Cheryl Snyder and Joe Metz of Susquehanna Avenue. Cheryl, a retired chemist, suffers from asthma. They were originally from Sunbury and returned to the city 7 years ago, happy to find that burn barrels had been consigned to history and that the air quality was very much improved.
For weeks Mayor Persing has been complaining bitterly to anyone within earshot about alleged dog fouling next to the Riverfront Walkway. He is even in the process of installing cameras along there in an effort to identify the culprits. Never mind looking for drug dealers, or other crime detection which some might consider a more important use for the cameras, just as long as our Riverfront is a poop-free zone.
Today Not The Item launched our own investigation into this serious threat to public safety, sending out a special team to investigate.
They returned with clear photographic evidence of wrong-doing, and even managed to get some shots of a sinister-looking bunch of possible culprits to pass on to our Police Department. Turns out there is a problem down there – but these suspects may not be too easy to apprehend. They were masked and holding a meeting a few feet offshore when we passed. They looked on warily and, very suspiciously to our team, appeared ready to make a fast exit should anyone have gotten too close to them.
A Sunbury mother has contacted Not The Item, incensed by what she read in the Daily Item today about “resident after resident” lining up to sing the praises of city code officers (Wednesday June 12th), and has asked us to tell her very different story.
Her son, daughter and grandson share a rental property on the south side of the City, which was inspected earlier this year by code officers Swope and Rhodes. The inspection, which she described as cursory at best, lasted all of 10 minutes. They reported no defects, but were supplied by her daughter with a list of things which she thought were in need of attention. However, the following week when a plumber arrived to take care of some of these issues, a very different picture emerged.
Death Trap – Showing Broken Water Heater Vent Pipe.