Apparently a few dead bodies are a bad thing:
Morgan Quitno Press, a private research and publishing company specializing in state and city reference books, announced yesterday that Reading is the most dangerous city in Pennsylvania, and the 21st-worst for crime in America.
Philadelphia, where the soaring murder rate hit 332 for the year yesterday and where bleeding leads the TV news every night, was just 29th in the nation.
Reading Police Officer Scott Wertz was fatally shot last August, the second Reading cop to die in a shooting in the last two years.
Philadelphia was ‘just’ 29th in the nation. Way to go guys! Anyway, we continue:
“We’re in the exact same predicament as Philadelphia and other cities,” said Reading Police Chief William M. Heim. “We have too many guns in the city, too many people walking around with illegal guns. We have an influx of people doing drugs that came here from New York City primarily, and from Philadelphia. We send some [drugs] to you guys, too.”
Heim and Reading’s mayor, Tom McMahon, said that the industrial town has changed dramatically in the years since it was fictionally celebrated in books by native son John Updike beginning with “Rabbit, Run” in 1960.
Hmmm, guns eh? Whatever buddy, I have the right to buy 10 guns a month! Still, I feel like something’s missing from this article, some group of people that hasn’t yet been scapegoated enough:
There has been a high influx of Latinos – as much as 40 percent to 45 percent of the city now – and the older housing stock has become largely rental. Even many of the factory outlets that gave a temporary boost to Reading’s economy in the 1980s and ’90s have moved to the suburbs, and gangs including the Crips, Bloods and Latin Kings have moved in.
Whew! I was worried for a second that they might not mention to the xenophobic masses that a lot of Latinos live within the cozy confines of Reading. Now we can all point and blame someone else!
But surely the people are up in arms and have been doing something about all this mess:
“I got shot right here in ’92,” he said, pointing across the street with the finger scarred by the bullet, which also struck his leg. “It felt like a white veil came over me. At the moment, I couldn’t believe it happened.” When detectives questioned him, Feliciano did not give up the shooter, although he knew who it was. “I told them, ‘It’s in God’s hands’..
Yeah, not telling the cops who did it, that’s the ticket! You already got shot, but why deal with the hassle of a court date?
Still, I bet there is a turnaround, sort of like Philly, in certain parts of the city:
In some ways, Reading is a microcosm of Philadelphia – with its troubled blue-collar economy and growing drug trade, all under the sway of the state’s not-so-restrictive gun laws. But it lacks any positive developments like the Center City construction boom.
I know. The Goggle Works, Sovereign Center, 5th and Penn office building, and upcoming apartments/movie theater don’t count. What we need to see are some developments. Thing is, things just keep getting worse with crime, right? Who would want to build when things are just going down down down:
However, the city might not have ranked so high in the nationwide survey were it not for an abnormally high rate of killings in 2005: 23. Just 14 were on the books in 2004 and only eight so far in 2006, including the slaying of a police officer.
Meh. You’re just showing me FACTS. What are facts when I can make my opinion to be true. Murders may be way down, and 2005 could’ve just been an abberation, but I don’t FEEL like it is. Thus, it ain’t. Reading is the David Eckstein of cities; we don’t see the production in the stats, but it’s there goddamit!
I get that the city ain’t great. It ain’t even good right now. But it’s not burned out. It’s not past redemption. There are plenty of good people who work hard, love their families, and want good neighborhoods. There’s some historic hoods in the little city, and they’re not going to die just yet. Yes there are problems. But to just write off any improvement because of a ranking in Morgan Quinto is just ridiculous. It’s just not that black and white.
Beyond the jokes, beyond the reactionary prose and utterings of some, there is something worth saving. What’s needed? Well, I’d say that a good start would be more police (in varying crime units), a countywide property reassesment, a countywide coalition, new emphasis on quality of life issues and funding of said issues (parks, schools, mass transport, and simple but important stuff like adequate street lighting, trash upkeep, etc.), and a true understanding that so goes Reading, so goes the county.
Let’s get beyond the rhetoric and pointless debates about trash plans. Leave that stuff in the past, with the failed administration of past mayors. Mayor Tom McMahon isn’t perfect, by no means, but he brings a sensible approach to things, and seems to care deeply about the city and its residents. He also seems to have the ear of Governor Rendell, which certainly helps. He must be re-elected for anything to get rolling.
Now, I don’t live in the city, I live right outside it (I did live in Philadelphia while going to school, which was great). I have no money…I blog. For that reason, I can’t afford to move from where I currently live, let alone try and buy a place. However, when I do plan on buying, it’ll likely be in the city, or in West Reading. I just like the urban environment and walkability. I do spend a lot of time there, though. Still, those that live in the city have a special view of the city which I simply don’t, and I’d love to hear from you. But please, let’s not character assasinate. Unless it’s about David Eckstein. I really do hate that guy.