State Rep. Jake Wheatley listened calmly to complaints about the quality of life in the Hilltop neighborhoods when he attended a monthly meeting of the Allentown Community Development Corporation as a guest speaker on March 27.
Mr. Wheatley is a former Marine who was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He served in the House since 2003 representing the 19th District and has sat on and chaired various committees.
Residents at the meeting complained about random shootings, prostitution on the streets and longtime neighbors giving up on the neighborhood and moving. "We might as well as had Katrina hit us," one attendee said.
"It's a complete mess," said Hilltop resident Judy Johnson. "We don't see cops because they're chasing someone at 80 miles per hour. Utilities tear streets up and don't fix them. I haven't seen a salt truck on my street since a guy from the city moved to somewhere else."
She summed it up by saying, "Nothing is being done for the little people."
"We're all little people in the bigger scheme of things," Mr. Wheatley responded. "You have to realize about a lot of the things you said that I have no direct control over them."
He told her to contact his assistant about complaints and if she was not satisfied she could call his cell phone number, which he gave her.
Mr. Wheatley said he has scheduled public meetings to make himself accessible to constituents. He also said he has worked to ensure a "quality education for all of our children" through reforms initiated as a member of the House Education Committee.
He also talked about legislation he favored concerning gun ownership and quickly added, "I own a shotgun." He said one problem police have is that many guns used in the commission of crimes are
supposedly stolen from the original owners.
The bill Mr. Wheatley is pushing would require reports of thefts of guns 72 hours after they happen. "If you knowingly do not report it it's a misdemeanor; the next time it could be a felony."
The bill is being opposed by the NRA and hunters. "I'm going to fight for it on the floor but I think it is going down in flames."
The bill was defeated in the House last week.
He encouraged Mrs. Hackel "to keep her eyes on the long term goal (for her CDC)…Twenty years ago the South Side wasn't the South Side…Things are going to change…You'll pick up friends as you go."
District Magisterial Judge Richard King spoke enthusiastically about the annual basketball game he is sponsoring for the 12th year pitting the Pittsburgh Steelers against kids and Zone 3 police. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Carrick High School gym on Wednesday, April 9. Tickets cost $7 for adults and children and are available at the door or by calling 412-337-0515.
"Commander Ross may play…In the past we've had Hines Ward and Cornell Stewart…During halftime you can get autographs…You see how athletic the Steelers are. They play tougher against the adults but back off with the kids."
He was also asked his opinion on what to do about a "nuisance home" along Arlington Avenue which has seen numerous arrests and tenants. He advised attendees to contact the County Health Department, report an illegal rooming house and ask them to investigate.
"A little tax guy shut down Al Capone. Got him on a technicality. He said, ‘Wait a minute! He didn't pay his income tax.'"