Author: Michel Lee

Williams guilty; Waters ‘vindicated’

As disgraced Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who recently pled guilty to corruption charges for allegedly using his position in exchange for lavish gifts, sits in a  federal prison cell without bail until he is sentenced in October, the court of public opinion had long rendered a conviction. But perhaps one of the only public opinions that really mattered is that of former state Rep. Ronald Waters (D-191), who was once on the receiving end of Williams’ prosecutorial wrath for allegedly accepting cash from a confidential informant posing as a lobbyist in a 2010 sting operation manufactured by the...

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Medpot’s coming to Upper Darby

Delaware County was not a runner-up for one of the initial 12 medical marijuana grower permits issued by the PA Department of Health (DOH) weeks ago, but two local dispensary permits were granted last week and both are in Upper Darby Township. St. Davids-based Chamounix Ventures, LLC, which will assume the alias “Keystone Dispensaries,” will also operate a dispensary in Chester and Montgomery Counties and be located at 622 Industrial Park Drive in the Yeadon Industrial Park actually located in Upper Darby Township. One of Keystone Dispensaries’ six principals, Dr. M. Louis van de Beek, a medical doctor with a private practice in the Port Richmond and Kensington sections of Philadelphia, said Upper Darby Council, particularly Councilwoman Sekela Coles, was very receptive to the dispensary’s arrival. “(The dispensary) is in Coles’ district and she gave us guidance,” van de Beek said. He added that he was told at the zoning board hearing that his would be the only dispensary in the municipality, but it’s not. Roughly 14 miles southwest, Grassroots Cannabis, an extension of the Chicago-based AES Compassionate Care, fronted by Audrey Slein, a commercial law attorney in Chicago, is also set to open in Upper Darby on 130 South State Road. Out of 280 applications submitted, only 27 dispensary permits were approved and they were the first of a finalized total of 52. The Southeast region managed to...

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Chester to start new cops soon

In a city struggling to reinvent itself in the face of a decades-long reputation for crime and violence, Chester now has a number of new police officers starting their field training, the Spirit has learned. These officers, according to Chester Police Commissioner Otis Blair, will be paired with senior officers on street patrols in the coming weeks and they are a mixture of veterans with experience from other police forces from urban municipalities that mirror Chester to rookies right out of the Delaware County Community College Municipal Police Academy. “They are already familiar with law enforcement,” Blair said, “so we just have to familiarize them with our procedures.” But he added that the re-acclimation process can be a hang up. Novice officers, unlike their experienced counterparts, are viewed as tabula rasa or Latin for “blank slate,” and void of any recollection of any former departments’ policies and procedure which allows them to easily adapt. The new officers apparently follow the “hiring” of eight officers sworn-in earlier this year and five others announced subsequent to that by Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in response to community outrage over a spate of shootings and killings. Crime reports show that so far this year, there have been roughly 52 shootings, an estimated 10 homicides, and city records reveal that there are currently 26 vacancies in the Chester Police Department for various positions, despite the...

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Lies or Misprints? Are Chester-area candidates lying about their credentials?

For many years, old-time politicians were quick to tell people that “qualifications don’t matter in politics.” Perhaps they felt that way because most of them lacked formal educational credentials. Frank Rizzo rose to become police commissioner and then mayor of Philadelphia, America’s then-fourth largest city, with just an eighth grade Catholic school education. But times have changed and, through the years, political service has evolved to where credentials “do matter,” according to a majority of voters as determined by national polls. But maybe some folks in Delaware County didn’t get that memo. Those who brand themselves as being “for the people” must prove they have what it takes to serve, which results in many candidates engaging in a chest-beating match to prove their credentials are far superior to their political opponents’. In the quest to knock out their competition, did Chester Township Democratic candidates for auditor, Stanley L. Dike, and Roberta Hartman, for tax collector, falsify their credentials? Is the information that appears on their campaign literature outright lies? Did they fabricate their resumes? According to campaign brochures bearing the Chester City Democratic Committee endorsement seal, Dike is the chief executive officer and president of a small, Southwest Philadelphia-based accounting firm. While Hartman reportedly worked for the IRS some time ago. But one credential that has raised some eyebrows is that both Dike and Hartman reportedly hold bachelors of...

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Youth a no-show at trust-building meeting with police

As a preventive measure to quell urban violence and following a wave of reports on police-involved shootings, some being questionable, throughout the nation, state Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D-8) hosted what was supposed to be an open discussion last Saturday morning at Delaware County Technical Schools (DCTS) in Folcroft between local youth and law enforcement to explore ways of bridging a burgeoning gap. But less than two dozen people showed up. The conference was scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. but was declared over by about 11:30 a.m. Nevertheless the conversation continued. “We started a year ago after reports of people of color being shot nationally, knowing full well that the consequences of those events could happen here,” Williams told The Spirit. “And we’re prepared to prevent that from happening.” Delaware County resident Christen Davis said, “It goes back to the parents, so if the parents don’t trust the police, they’re going to teach their children to not trust the police, so it all goes back to mom and dad…so when you talk about having these meetings for the youth, whose parents don’t trust the police, of course they’re not going to come…” The panel of local enforcement officials, mostly from the Eighth Senatorial District, included  Darby Township Police Chief Regina Price, Darby Borough Police Chief Robert Smythe, and Yeadon’s interim-Police Chief Sgt. Tom Reynolds. Darby...

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