Harrisburg Happening

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Crime grants soon coming

Here's news about a grant to fight crime coming up - since Harrisburg City reads this blog, maybe they can act on it.

"Feds plan $200M grant program aimed at curbing violent crimePosted 1/29/2007 10:43 PM ET
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
The Bush administration is proposing a $200 million grant program to help law enforcement agencies respond to surging violent-crime rates in cities across the nation, Justice Department officials said Monday.
The program would help local and state police agencies pay for officers' overtime, equipment and other expenses stemming from new regional task forces aimed at curbing violent crime, Domingo Herraiz, director of the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, told USA TODAY.
The program has not been announced publicly; Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to begin briefing law enforcement officials on it this week.
The task forces would be staffed with federal, state and local officers to deal with a range of growing crime problems, including recent increases in gang-related violence, gun-related crimes and illegal sales of methamphetamine.
The grant plan marks the administration's broadest recognition yet of the threat posed by rising violent-crime rates.
The FBI reports that violent crimes — homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults — increased 2.3% nationwide in 2005 compared with 2004, the first such rise since 1991. The trend has continued through the first half of 2006, the FBI reports.
If approved by Congress as part of President Bush's spending plan for the budget year that begins in October, the program also would symbolize a renewed interest in federal funding for local police initiatives, which often have taken a backseat to homeland security programs since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The grant program — known as the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership Initiative — would not, however, be designed to help police agencies hire new officers.
Instead, it would allow local and state agencies to apply for grants of $30,000-$200,000 to better deploy and equip officers who make up the anti-crime task forces, said Herraiz and Assistant Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department's director legal policy.
Herraiz said dozens of cities could be eligible for the grants. He said agencies applying for grants would have to outline specific strategies to attack violent crime, and show improvements in crime rates to be eligible for further funding.
Police chiefs' groups such as the Police Executive Research Forum have called repeatedly for the White House to reprise the Clinton administration's $8 billion police hiring program that added tens of thousands of officers to the nation's streets.
Chuck Wexler, executive director of the group, said the grant program falls well short of that, but "is a step in the right direction."
"It is encouraging that the Justice Department recognizes the significant change in violent crime across the country," he said."

Court House 3.0

The new long list is out, and boy did they relax the requirements. My favorite site is N. 6th and Reily.

"January 30, 2007

Dear Community Leader:

I would like to update you on the plans to acquire a site for the construction of a new federal courthouse in Harrisburg. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has moved forward in this process and has evaluated a number of sites for the relocation of the U.S. Courthouse. GSA revised and relaxed certain site criteria including size, budget and floodplain requirements in order to broaden the search for sites within the city limits.

GSA is currently reviewing a long list of sites for the new U.S. Courthouse location. These sites include:
S. Front and Sycamore Streets
Eastern corner of 2nd and Paxton Streets
Western corner of 2nd and Paxton Streets
N. 6th and Reily Streets
Maclay and Cameron Streets
Scottish Rite Cathedral – N. 3rd and Wiconisco Streets
3rd and Pine Streets
2nd and Locust Streets
7th and Boas Streets
Dauphin County Administration Building – 2nd and Market Streets

We have set up an e-mail address and a phone line to receive your inquiries regarding the new courthouse. Please send your e-mails to HarrisburgCourthouse@gsa.gov or you may call 215.446.4933. Written comments may also be sent to my attention at:

General Services Administration, Mid-Atlantic Region
Attention: Abby Low, Project Manager
20 N. 8th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3191

You are also invited to attend the Public Meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, February 21 from 6:30 pm – 8:00 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel located at 23 South Second Street. The meeting will be held in Ballrooms A & B. This meeting will be an informal open house where you will learn more about the project and site selection process.

We look forward to working with you to bring a new, state of the art U.S. Courthouse to the City of Harrisburg. This facility will make a positive, long lasting impact on the region, and we are honored to be involved with this project. I will continue to share appropriate information as we proceed with this project.


Abby Low
Project Manager
GSA Public Buildings Service
Mid-Atlantic Region"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reed's Disconnect

In case you haven't noticed, Reed has been announcing all sorts of development plans, while at the same time telling us all that if we have a major snowstorm, the City will be bankrupt.

Now, how stupid is that? Announce plans for construction without any signed tenants yet, and then tell those prospective business tenants that they won't be able to open if it snows? And that the city can't provide basic services like police, fire and thrash removal during the winter?

another project?

There's another major announcement on development this week - for Third and Reilly across from the new HACC campus.

"Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed and representatives of Powers & Associates LLC are to announce plans today for a major new office and retail complex at 1426 N. Third St. in the city. Joining the mayor at today's announcement at the site will be developers Tom Powers, president and CEO; Doug Neidich, chairman, and John Tierney, chief operating officer. The first floor will provide street-level retail space while the upper floors will offer office space for commercial and retail tenants.The historically styled four-story project estimated to cost $11 million is to be built on the site of the former Baker Garage at North Third and Reily streets.The site is across from the former Evangelical Press building, which is being renovated by Powers & Associates to become part of the new Midtown Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College.Demolition work is expected to begin within two months, with construction of the new building to follow. Completion is expected by summer 2008."

Again, I'll believe it when I see it . . .

The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!

Well, I've heard through the grapevine that a pair of British transplants have plans in place for the PAL building on Third. There's already a skeletal website and it looks exciting. As always, I reserve judgment until the work crews arrive and the renovation begins . . .


Note - I've actually spoken with one of the project principals and he seems legitimate.

Friday, January 19, 2007

More development

Here's what WCI Partners have planned - hopefully, it will actually happen, unlike so many announced and abandoned projects this city has seen:
"Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed and midstate developer and entrepreneur Alex Hartzler, principal and CEO of WCI Partners LP, are announcing plans today for a residential construction and rehabilition project to add 85 towntown houses in the city's midtown section.The new housing, near the Governor's Residence, will be located between North Second and North Third streets and Maclay and Muench streets, with most of the work to be done on Penn, Green and Susquehanna streets. Plans are to be announced at a news conference early this afternoon at 1908 Green St., the project's model home.The over $12.5 million project involves building 19 new townhouses to be offered in the $189,000-$200,000 range and restoring 66 existing homes, most of which are vacant, at prices from $90,00 to $180,000. "

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Well, well - it's bloggers' fault

Randy King is 'retiring' to a promotion as a lobbyist. Great, here we are, paying a pension for a 50 year old, who'll be collecting consulting fees from the city, no doubt!

To Quote Randy

"I've been the target of countless attacks, innuendo and defamation for years," he said. "In recent times, thanks to Pennlive bloggers, Patriot-News columnists and editorial letter writers, I'm now being threatened with physical harm, vilified as a political hack and reading frequent calls for my termination. That's the reward you get for years of selfless service."

Physical harm? Come on, no blog or letter I've read has been incendiary.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Egomaniacs run amok?

Randy King is retiring and considering a run for office. Here's part of his press release:

"I believe Steve Reed is a true genius of our time and one of the greatest leaders of our generation. Having the opportunity to work at his side has been an honor and a privilege, and I have learned much about governance, leadership and even life itself. I have often likened my role to that of an apprentice or aide to such notable historical figures as DaVinci, Churchill, or JFK, as each were blessed with the same vision, strength of will and leadership skills and abilities as our good mayor. History will look kindly upon the Reed era, and I am proud to have played a part, however small, in helping advance Mayor Reed’s vision for this city."

Churchill and JFK???

Monday, January 08, 2007

More boutique hotels

I guess city council will allow this increase in height, too . . . and of course, tax abatements:


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Harrisburg Hello Apology

Well, I got an apology - maybe they'll be more sensitive from now on:

Dear Ms. Davenport, Esq.

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about the newsletter. I appreciate your feedback and concerns.
I can assure you that neither Mr. Bleacher nor the Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District have any negativism towards Muslims or persons of Middle-Eastern decent. I apologize if you or anyone else was offending
by anything in the newsletters. I assure you, neither of the stories
and comments you sited were intended to offend or denigrate anyone, any religion, or any culture.

Our newsletter goes out weekly to over 4000 people. We receive many very positive comments about the style, information, and content of the
newsletter. And from time to time we receive negative feedback as well, however, I believe we have received less then a half dozen negative comments last year about the newsletter.

None-the-less, I apologize if you were offended by this week's newsletter and the reference to SaddamHussein's execution. If you wish, I would be happy to have your email removed from the
distribution list. Everyone receiving the newsletter is able to have
their email removed from the distribution list by simply clicking the
link included at the bottom of each newsletter.

I have instructed Mr. Bleacher to include the following message in nextweek's newsletter:

In last week's newsletter we made a reference to the execution of Saddam
Hussein. We apologize to anyone who may have been offended by that
comment. The newsletter is meant to be informative, entertaining, and
engaging for the reader using a creative writing style. We often make tongue-in-cheek comments related to current events, news items and popculture. Our intent is never to harm or offend anyone.

Again, I apologize and appreciate you sharing your feelings with us about the newsletter. I promise in the future we will strive to avoid newsletter content which may unintentionally offend some of our readers.

Sincerely, Jeff Murison
Executive Director
Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District

Good Bye Good Wine

The chairman of the PLCB has resigned, and a CEO at twice the salary has replaced him. Unfortunately, that's really bad news for those of us who had been flocking in for the Chairman's Choice wines. Nationally recognized for the bargain prices on superb wines, the program was the brainchild of Jonathan Newman, who resigned in protest over Rendell's sweetheart appointment of crony Joe Conti, a Republican and former state senator. What was the deal?

Now we'll be back to Boones Farm

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Harrisburg Hello is Clueless

Recently, I have received an email newsletter on Harrisburg events sponsored by Harrisburg Hello. Their director of marketing seems to have a bug up his you know what about Muslims. Here's the letter I just sent to the executive director:

Jeff S. Murison
Executive Director
Harrisburg Downtown Improvement District
22 North Second Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Dear Mr. Murison:

As a Harrisburg City resident, attorney and person of Middle-Eastern descent, I am writing to complain about the content of the Harrisburg Hello E-mail Newsletter. Your editor, Ron Bleacher, has now in two issues managed to offend Muslims and any person with any degree of religious or moral sensitivity.

I am referring to two articles penned by Mr. Bleacher.

The first advertised a puppet workshop to be held at the Jewish Community Center. In it, Mr. Bleacher stated parenthetically, “Please tell me there is no Kermit the Allah puppet in the Middle East.”

To equate Kermit and God would constitute blasphemy for Muslims, and the ‘joke’ falls flat. May I remind you of the furor caused by the Mohammed cartoons last year in Denmark? Riots followed the publications of cartoons depicting the Prophet. It simply isn’t done, and to make a joke of it is irresponsible, to say the least. It certainly isn’t good marketing. Besides, would you call Jesus a frog?

The second article is equally offensive. I quote from the most recent newsletter,

“The champagne has been uncorked, the strawberry, the pickle, the goatand Saddam have dropped and we have officially begun a new year."

To make a joke of an execution that is likely to spark more sectarian violence in a country where our own soldiers and countless civilians are losing their lives daily is beyond offensive. It shows a total disregard for human decency.

I think it significant that both comments are aimed at Muslims. What does Mr. Bleacher have against persons of Middle-Eastern descent or Muslims in general?

I will be filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission unless Mr. Bleacher issues a prompt retraction and apology in the email newsletter."