October 31: Lead paint poisons Philly kids | Lazaretto preservation | Somerton Civic president charged with felonies

Barbara Laker, Wendy Ruderman and Dylan Purcell take a sweeping look at the scope and impact of Philly’s lead poisoning problems among children exposed not by water pipes but through lead paint in old houses. Kids living in the city’s poorest neighborhoods are especially likely to have high lead levels  – 21 percent of kids tested in Strawberry Mansion had lead poisoning. “In some stubborn pockets of the city, as many as one out of five children under age 6 have high lead levels.” The city does have some enforcement tools – including Lead Court – and inspections in the worst reported cases, but it is far too easy for landlords to ignore orders and become repeat offenders, leaving families with toxic levels of lead at home.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg spent time at East Mt. Airy’s Kitchen of Love food pantry talking with blue-collar black voters on Trump fears and the very same strains and anger that have galvanized blue-collar whites in favor of the Republican candidate. “As the race between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton stumbles to its dizzying finish, the Kitchen of Love offers a window into America’s deep racial divide, painfully exposed in this toxic election year.” 

The civil trial over the demolition-related collapse at 22nd and Market is on pause, and Joseph Slobodzian rounds up the proceedings so far: A negative history between the Salvation Army and Richard Basciano, which led to terse talks around demolition, and collapse blame doesn’t likely rest in any one agent. There’s also a lot more trial to go.  

A bill sitting on Gov. Wolf’s desk would make Pennsylvania be the first state to withhold the names of police officers involved in shootings. Bobby Allyn reports the bill would delay the release of a name for 30 days and is in direct response to former Philadelphia Commissioner Charles Ramsey’s policy of releasing an officer’s name quickly.

The Lazaretto opened in 1799 as America’s early immigration and quarantine station, but has been empty for a decade. Elana Gordon reports that preservation is on the way for The Lazaretto and Tinicum Township is going to use the historic building for office space.

Seth Kaplan, Somerton Civic Association president, has been charged with three felonies for taking funds from the association’s bank account and never depositing donations solicited in connection with an American flag project for Bustleton Avenue. The Northeast Times unpacks the story and confirms that Kaplan returned $19,000 to the civic association.

Speaking of Somerton, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, recalls growing up in the neighborhood in an interview for the Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce: “There were cows out back. There were five barns in each dir­ec­tion. We were in farm coun­try in the post-war peri­od. It was a town of it­self. Liv­ing on Southamp­ton Road, there was nobody around. Grow­ing up in the 1950s, North­east Philly was really quiet.

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