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  September 4, 2008 Issue                                       

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Chestnut Hill Local
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©2007 The Chestnut Hill Local

From our readers

Sniping the Mendte scribe

As an adamant proponent of good journalism, I feel obligated to protest the placement of Jimmy J. Pack’s tasteless piece in your last issue about Chestnut Hill’s very own Larry Mendte [“Prudy pundits snipe snooper,” Aug. 28].

How could any member of your staff, in good conscience, let that nonsensical rant run on your front page, then have it clog your inside section by jumping it twice?

By the time that asinine and clichéd manifesto was over, I was exhausted and nauseous, and I wanted my 75 cents back from Caruso’s.

First, any intelligent reader (or, in fact, any conscious member of the human race) should feel appalled by Pack’s thoughtless conjuring of Saddam Hussein in his pretentious opening paragraph. That, however, is the least of my immediate concerns.

Beside Pack’s shallow arguments and tiresome overuse of rhetorical questions, what offends me most is that the Local offered its most coveted real estate (front page, above the fold) to an opinion piece that supports a local criminal!

Doesn’t your staff have the guts to write an actual fact-based news story about Mendte’s case, perhaps from a local angle? I certainly hope that guilty local celebrities, but who attend the seasonal happy festivals, are not exempt from your thorough coverage.

Mendte, an award-winning journalist, violated the ethical core of his profession: he lied, he obtained information in an unlawful way (often known as stealing), and he secretly distributed that ill-gotten info for his own personal gains.

It doesn’t matter how long and hard Mendte has toiled, or how sad and sorry he appears, or what a swell fellow he morphs into when he strolls the avenues and garden parties of Chestnut Hill. How polite and smiley he becomes when he orders his Mendte Venti Latte at Starbucks could not possibly matter any less.

What the Local did in its last issue reeks of small-town bias and slant. It is not a good newspaper’s job to plead to its audience: “Aw, come on, gang, have a heart Larry’s a stand-up guy, once you get to know him. What do you say, let’s forgive and forget, ok?”

Mendte is guilty of breaking the law, let alone dishonoring the public’s precious trust.

To the Local’s credit, it ran Pack’s claptrap under a clear banner of OPINION, but the piece still has no merit to fill space on the front page. Unless, of course, staffer Pack owes his poor, misunderstood buddy Larry Mendte a favor.

Andrew Whelan


I do not understand your apparently hands off approach to editing. The ill considered rant by Mr. Pack should have either been edited to remove the uncivil and insulting language characterizing Jill Porter, and other Philadelphia media professionals or at the top there should have been an editor’s note in boldface that the views expressed are not those of the Chestnut Hill Local and the Local apologizes for the language. Even though it is labeled opinion, there really is no reason to have wasted over 30 column inches on a rant.

The Local claims that its policy is to publish all responsible points of view. You failed to carry out that policy with Mr. Pack’s essay. 


Mary Ann Holloway


Jimmy J. Pack is a [expletive edited] moron. Mendte did not JUST read e-mails. He used his snooping to try to destroy Lane. This was electronic assault and nothing less. Pack doesn’t have the brains or the understanding to clean out the toilets at your place, no less write a column. And you’re a schmuck for even printing his stupidity.


Michael Apo


… and one dissent

Mr. Pack, I just read your wonderful article on my friend and pen pal Larry Mendte.

And  I totally, 100 percent agree with you. He is a human being just like us and these newspaper columnists should stop bashing him and start reporting on what really matters, like our economy, war and the terrible weather we are about to have. Larry is a man who cares about his people and his community no matter where he goes. He speaks to you when you approach him with them (sic) dark blue eyes that never lie to a living soul (Dawn’s a Lucky woman!) He’s not a snob or a monster. He’s like one of God’s angels sent down from heaven to do a mission for God.  Any way that’s all I wanted to say. Thanks.

Pauline Russ
Browns Mills, NJ


Don Murphy tribute very well deserved

Thank you so much for the wonderful tribute to Don Murphy, who has been a barber for more than a half-century in Mt. Airy. He is such a great guy who really deserved such an article. My brother and I went to him more years ago than I’d care to count, and he always made it fun because he loved kids. And his prices never seemed to go up. Even when those foo-foo places came in (“salons”) and guys like Don became dinosaurs, he kept on doing his thing. He’s the best. They just don’t make them like Don any more.

And I loved the article below the one on Don. The one by Jim Harris about monkeys playing music in Pastorius Park. My wife and I are both amateur musicians, and we thought it was very, very funny. The Local is a terrific little paper, and I also enjoy the articles from the past, especially the ones about Marie Jones, a great lady who stood up for what she believed in. I hope the Local is around for another 50 years. You may be able to read individual articles on a computer screen, but give me a good newspaper any day. There is just no comparison.

Patrick Gillespie
Fort Washington


Performance poor for community fund

At the last meeting of the Board of the CHCA [Aug. 28, 2008] Jean Hemphill, president of the trustees of the Chestnut Hill Community Fund presented a report on the status of the fund.

I believe the most important role of the trustees is to preserve the principal of the fund. This is money which represents the commitment of the members of the CHCA and other contributors to the fund. With this in mind, I was completely dumbfounded by Ms. Hemphill’s presentation of the present status of the fund.

After losing money for years on the ill-advised purchase of 8431 Germantown Avenue, the fund was suddenly replenished by the successful sale of this albatross. The present trustees were handed an endowment of $905,905 in March, 2007. As of July, 2008 the fund has a value of $713,403. Some of the loss is explained by tax payments of $71,000, which could have been avoided by proper management. The rest is attributable to losses in investments.

The CHCA and the fund need income. If you were retired and needed to live off the principal of your net worth you would invest your nest-egg in safe instruments that provided you with a good return. Not the trustees! They decided to put the community’s “nest-egg” in risky stock investments. To date the fund has lost approximately $121,000. And this is not the only loss! Had the entire principal been placed in safe cash investments, which were paying 5 percent in March, 2007, the fund would have realized approximately $60,000. Therefore the total of lost principal and unrealized return is $181,000. This total is greater than all the moneys earned during that period by the CHCA’s fundraising activities.

However the most amazing aspect of Ms. Hemphill’s presentation was the blasé attitude about this loss. Oh well, we lost on investments but not as much as the stock market in general.

Is this the performance you want in your trustees?

Joseph A. Pizzano
Chestnut Hill


Report of there -from here

As predicted, the popularity of CHCA board resignation continues to increase. The latest option taker is Ed Berg, Jeremy Heep’s replacement as “legal” mouthpiece. This hallowed position, usually held by an attorney, entailed a façade of reasonable-ness, a “willingness” to see both sides of the issue, followed by complete fealty to the will of CHCA leadership. Walter Sullivan once held the position, a smoke blower of such proportion that my mind would feel numb for hours after one of his “explanations.”

But now, Ed Berg seeing the writing on the wall, (lawyers recognize legal trouble first) has taken early retirement. Who will replace him? What Oscar Goldman of Chestnut Hill will volunteer to defend the future defendants? Not Tapan Patel, he resigned over the purchased CHCA membership/votes that he admitted to buying but not HOW MANY he bought. Just about the time that Sanjiv needed friends on the board to support the Mommybar…

The LUPZ, stating it as a step toward “revitalizing” the Avenue, has approved the unprecedented mid-block tear down, resulting in a centrally located three-story among the two-story buildings, a “raised middle finger” look we can all relate to. The LUPZ, and the CHCA, as a whole, always cites neighborhood invigoration as the reason for approval of developers plans. What they NEVER do is have the courage to say NO to banks, chain stores, and monstrosities that have made the Hill into a place that NEEDS invigorating. Covering up mistakes with more mistakes, good move, kids.

Ed Feldman


Dirt comes out

Some of the truth about the contaminated dirt finally comes out, but a few things are “off mark.”  Other neighbors did complain about dust and other disturbing aspects of the enclave [“Mt. Airy development plagued by delays,” Aug 28]

The City of Philadelphia, including ZBA and Planning, knew a great deal about these problems a long time ago and never did anything to inform or protect the neighborhood from serious environmental health hazards.

The leaking gasoline tank is mentioned, yet there are more recent toxic hazards of illegal dumping of waste oil and chemicals from the contractor’s yard, active about 25 years ago, according to records and neighbors. These toxic hazards, known to cause cancer, leukemia, and other health problems were dumped directly into the ground, in the watershed and directly behind my house.

Released chemical vapors made me very ill and combined with long-term dust exposure are the reasons for hospital visits and years of health problems since the onset of this construction project.

I’ve been informing the city and developer for years and no help, even refusing to respond to letters from my doctors.

I am still displaced from my home. It is common for a person to develop hypersensitivity after acute overexposure to pollutants and chemicals. Our entire neighborhood has suffered from long-term exposure to dust particulates in spite of Air Management’s sincere efforts to avoid finding dust.  Title papers list Stan Smith as managing director. Smith nor Macon ever concerned themselves with my safety or the safety of my neighbors.

Responsible parties never informed the community of the presence of the stream and PWD violations.  I am putting together a web presentation with photos, maps, transcripts, etc. This will help the community to be better educated about brownfields, their local government, environmental justice and civil rights.

Margaret Motheral
Mt. Airy


Palin Fan

Sarah Palin is the best role model for women to come along in my lifetime. Forget Hillary. Remember what Geraldine Ferraro said about Obama? Something to the effect of “Would we even be talking about this guy if he weren’t black?”, a rhetorical question that answers itself.

Similarly, would we even be talking about Hillary Clinton if she weren’t married to the Arkansas hick town saxophonist and serial philanderer? Puhlease!

Here’s a woman who made it on her own and whose list of accomplishments eclipse those of Hillary, Barack and plagiarist Joe combined: standout athlete, beauty queen, municipal councilor, town mayor, state governor, mad-as-hell anti-waste crusader. The list goes on.

If only she were in favor of sticking lethal surgical instruments into the heads of full-term babies she would be the darling of the left.

Joseph A. Ferry


Palin a cause for pause

Pistol Packin’ Mamma, Sarah Palin, McCain’s VP choice throws a brutal punch to the solar plexus of the environment with her drill and kill mantra.

She has lobbied to open the National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and more drilling off Alaska’s coasts.  She sued the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the polar bear from the endangered species list even those these bears are in danger of extinction from global warming.

Moreover, Palin is hell bent on killing as many wolves as possible and strongly promotes the barbaric aerial hunting of these animals where low-flying planes chase the wolves to the point of exhaustion and then shoot them.  To further her wolf-kill goal she put an illegal bounty on wolves paying $150 for every wolf leg brought in.

McCain’s selection of an environmental hellion as his vice president must give us pause on other appointments should he become president.

Gloria S. Feldscher
Plymouth Meeting

Good bye to a friend

This past weekend, the board of the Chestnut Hill Community Association lost one of its own. Elaine Aiello, wife of Lou Aiello, passed away.

Elaine was one of the most dedicated volunteers I knew. She was a major part of the office, giving them endless volunteer hours to membership, Holiday House Tour and the Black and White Gala.  Her commitment to community and family was amazing. She felt strongly about both. Two years ago, Elaine received an award given by her peers, for her dedication To the CHCA. Thank you Elaine. I never heard her complain. She always had giggles and lots of stories about the kids and being a ‘Nana.’

Elaine was more than a board member. She was a wife, mother, friend, an avid gardener, a wonderful cook and one of the kindest women I have ever met. She never had a bad thing to say about anyone. We can all learn from that.  She loved life and her family, and this community.

So when you are sitting next to someone at the boardroom table, get to know them, really know them. You may learn something, about them and yourself. I know I did.  Take a breath and love life. Don’t be too busy to sit and chat with a friend. Celebrate each other, while we are still here.

Elaine will be truly missed by all of us.

Jane M. Piotrowski
CHCA VP Social Division


I was shocked and extremely saddened to learn of Elaine Aiello’s passing away. In addition to serving as a member of the CHCA Board of Directors, Elaine was a tremendous help to me as a volunteer here in the office. I will always remember her positive attitude, her sense of humor, and all of the time she spent assisting me with the many tasks needed to keep the CHCA office running. I will miss her.

Noreen Spota
CHCA Administrative Coordinator


Be sure to park At Hill lots

Chestnut Hill is a good place to shop and a good place to eat. There’s a lot of parking — nine lots. The parking attendants will give out tickets so ask for stickers at stores and restaurants.

Tommy Walsh
Chestnut Hill