August 21, 2012 |

Wheatly town meeting discusses issues with Hilltop area residents

A town hall meeting conducted by state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Jr., drew about 10 residents to the St. Clair Athletic Association in Arlington on Aug. 14.

Public employees who contributed to answering questions posed by residents were: Zone Three Crime Prevention Officer Christine Luffey; Liz Style, of the Mayor's Office; and Tony Mosesso, constituent liaison to state Sen. Wayne Fontana.

Mr. Wheatley began with news of the 10th Annual Community Appreciation Day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Kennard Field. The family-centered event is for all communities in his 19th legislative district. There will be free food, a jazz violinist, line dancing, giveaways, and prizes.

Activities include face painting, balloon artists, moon bounces, bingo, and more. Free transportation will be provided; call his office at 412-471-7760

 for times and locations.

On April 1, 2013, a Golden Luncheon for up to 160 senior citizens will be held. Notices will be mailed in March. Attendance is first come, first served. Transportation will be provided.

Next, Mr. Wheatley discussed the state's new Voter ID Law, which begins with all elections after Sept. 17, including the upcoming Presidential election. To cast a vote, all voters must provide a current photo ID at each election.

The ID must be valid, with an expiration date; have a photo; and have a name that conforms to the voting register at one's polling place. Acceptable forms of ID include, but are not limited to: Pennsylvania driver's license, U.S. passport, Pa. county or municipal employee badge and Pa. college student ID card.

Those who cannot provide acceptable ID, may cast a provisional ballot and verify their identity with the county elections board within six days following the election.

To a question about the rationale for the law, Mr. Wheatley said it was his opinion that its goal is to help the "Republican candidate win Pennsylvania."

Mr. Mosesso, who is also a ward chairman, said he does not see the need for the law as everyone knows everyone at all the polls he visits on Election Day.

"They want to discourage who they think would vote for the presidential candidate they don›t like," Mr. Wheatley said of Republicans.

For information on the new law, or obtaining a photo ID, visit www.dmv.state.pa.us , or call 1-877-868-3772. Residents can also call Mr. Wheatley's office to confirm if they have the correct form of ID.

Next, an attendee asked what he should do when witnessing drug activities.

Mr. Wheately said residents are encouraged to call police about drug-related matters. Residents may also fill out silent complaint forms if they want to remain anonymous. Block watches also work in partnership with the police, he said.

To a question of whether the city checks that all steps are followed after a house is torn down, Ms. Style said when a house is demolished, trash is supposed to be removed and grass seed planted.

If that does not happen, 311 should be contacted. Ms. Style said she should also be called and will then follow up with the Bureau of Building Inspection to look into the matter.

The attendee said the house he was referring to had trash left and very little straw was laid on the site.

To a question about a program for seniors to fix their homes, Ms. Style said the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) offers grants and loans for individuals and businesses.

There is also "Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh" which delivers no-cost home repairs to low-income seniors in Allegheny County who meet federal poverty guidelines. For more information, call 412-922-0953.

An attendee next asked what can be done about youngsters riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes on the surrounding streets, which is a hazard to themselves and motorists.

Officer Luffey said to call 911 as riding the ATVs and dirt bikes is illegal on the city streets.

Recently, a Carrick adult who rode an ATV with youths without helmets was charged with reckless driving. The bikes must also be registered and be covered by insurance.

In Mount Oliver City, a dirt bike owner was apprehended in his home after a neighbor called 911.

"Please don't ever think you're wasting our time," she said.

Ms. Style asked that callers give as much detail as possible when reporting a crime.

If you witness an illegal activity occurring at the same time and place every day, call every day, as the more paper trail the better, she said.

Mr. Wheatley said to also contact public officials like himself "until the problem is addressed."

"If we never hear from you we will assume it is not an issue for you," he said.

He also encouraged constituents to stop by his office for copies of state laws and bills that may be of particular interest to them.

To a question about roaming pit bulls, Officer Luffey asked the attendee to give her the address of the owner and she or Animal Control will look into the situation.

She will knock on the owner's door and ask to see the dogs' licenses and proof of rabies' shots. If they do not have the documents, citations will be issued.

Mr. Wheatley said such matters are quality-of-life issues. As a runner, the issues hit home when he crosses a neglected, decaying sidewalk or is chased by a dog.

Another attendee commented that her neighbor moved away and left her cats in the vacant house.

Officer Luffey said to call Animal Friends to take them to a no-kill shelter.

"You would be giving those animals a second chance," she said.

Officer Luffey will also file charges against the owner as abandonment is animal cruelty.

Mr. Wheatley's next South town hall meeting will be on Aug. 27 at Beulah Baptist Church in Beltzhoover.

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