Home > Uncategorized > There’s A Reason Behind Reading’s Hall Of Shame

There’s A Reason Behind Reading’s Hall Of Shame

The mayor of Reading (RED-ing), Pennsylvania, (pop. 80,560 and falling) has issued a proclamation to slum landlords to clean up their property or be subject to a public flogging on his website Hall of Shame.

At least 42 photographed properties, addresses and owners were listed Tuesday, most in the old sections of the town established in 1748.

Mayor Tom McMahon’s efforts is part of a renovation campaign to cleanup or demolish properties deemed abandoned by the city’s Blighted Property Review Committee. A total of 60 properties are being ogled by the committee.

The owners list looks like an Americana melting pot splashed with Hispanic, Slavic, Polish and Waspish names sprinkled with what one news account said were out of town Realty, investment and law firm companies.

A few properties appear in the photos as genuine fixer-uppers.

“They’ve been given every chance to come forward and do something about it,” said McMahon, “to make it better. But they haven’t done it and so it’s time for us to take some action.”

The demolition is a last resort. The mayor is hoping the Wall of Shame actually shames landlords into taking responsibility. “It’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is,” the mayor said.

I have been witness to urban renewal projects in California and always felt squeamish the government acted in the best interests for itself beholden to large land developers and not for the small property owner.

It turns out Mayor McMahon’s attention grabbing Draconian handling of the situation vied with three other news stories in Reading the past two days.

The top story is befitting of a city its size.

A 21-year-old Reading woman has been arrested on charges of aggravated and simple assault after she beat another woman with a metal bat or pole during a fight over the weekend in the 400 block of South Seventh Street, city police said…

The 43-year-old victim, whose name was withheld by police, was walking in the block when (the suspect) approached her and began to argue with her. It was not clear what the argument was about.

Story No. 2 was the 12th annual Crime Alert Berks County celebration with guest celebrity the Phillie Phanatic. Members were honored for the 403 arrests and $213,000 awards to anonymous tipsters over the years.

And, BINGO. Story No. 3. I’ll turn the honors over to the Reading Eagle:

Groundbreaking for the $42 million Doubletree Hotel, the planned centerpiece of downtown economic development, could be held in October, Reading Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Adam Mukerji told City Council Monday.

The 208-room facility owned by Hilton Hotels has been planned for years at Seventh and Penn streets, and Mukerji said it finally could get under construction “all things being equal and God being on our side.” An earlier plan for a hotel near the Sovereign Center was first proposed in 2000.

Now my turn. The Hilton Hotel complex just happens to be located within one and two blocks of 15 of Mayor McMahon’s Hall of Shame slumlords.

Coincidence or not, it puts the mayor’s actions for city beautification into proper context. But, what do I know. I live in California.

(Note: The Reading mayor’s website put the cartoon caption in this one photo obtained from his Hall of Shame.)

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