Friday, April 28, 2006

Other bits on the Friday tide

  • Culture shock: New Jersey to consider self-serve gasoline. The magnitude of this can be appreciated only by those who grew up in or near the state in question. Almost unimaginable.

  • A nationwide strike of immigrant labor is brewing, which could bring the issue home in Philadelphia with unexpected impact. Recrimination from employers has a lot of folks on edge.

  • Speaking of strikes, there's something brewing between the Carpenter's Union and the General Building Contractors Association, with talk of a strike that could halt construction on a number of major projects around Philadelphia as early as Monday. Where did this come from? A number of other unions look to the carpenters before signing their own agreements, so more than just carpentry would likely be affected. More here.

  • Governor Ed Rendell has thrown his weight into the question of the fate of the Inquirer and Daily News by encouraging McClatchy to sell the papers to a major donor (to the DNC while Rendell headed it), even though that group is based in CA (while local groups are also working toward buying the papers).

  • A Penn student is suing his fraternity (local members and national association) for abusive hazing rituals that were inflicted upon him.

  • Phila Will Do catches the detail that Philadelphia's new wireless network will reach only to three stories, which may more than disappoint those in condos and highrise apartment buildings. Some work-around will be available, and "phase 2" will extend the network's reach, but with the nebulosity of the current time-line, who knows when that may be.

Friday political round-up

  • Today's big story (in a Friday trash sense) appears to be a gaffe by Governor Rendell in which he attributed his signing of the pay-hike to a need to "kiss butt." I think there might have been better descriptions (not least his own argument about the desirable judicial raises, pressure to keep peace, etc). Dave Rialis worries that this will resurrect Swann's campaign, but I think it's a bit early to have an effect in the general. Still...

  • Two new polls show Casey still with a lead over Santorum for the US Senate, although this isn't a margin to rest on. Perhaps more tellingly, Casey gets higher support from within his party than Santorum does in his own...

  • Ray Murphy notes that "the other progressive" in the 175th state house race, Terry Graboyes, has a history of giving money to Republicans (including the unlovable Perzel). It raises questions about whether her interests are really in the realm of political principle or merely that of business expediency.

  • Above Average Jane gives some quick impressions of various candidates for state or SE-PA office that she has had the opportunity to hear in person.

  • The Daily News applauds Mayor Street's recent activity in support of reducing gun violence, and particularly his apparent willingness to stick with this difficult problem.

  • Columnist Jill Porter thinks that the 2007 mayoral candidates need nicknames to help keep them straight. She offers a few, um, modest proposals.

  • A DN letter catches D.A. Lynn Abraham expressing an unfortunate sentiment. But really, she gets along with everybody.

  • Albert posts the picture of local newbie committee candidates (including himself) from the DN piece earlier in the week. I say they all look like trouble... ;)

  • And finally, Chris Bowers gives a glimpse of a Ward Committee endorsement meeting from the inside, the first that he's been a part of. He seemed heartened by the real democracy-in-action feeling of the meeting, even though not every endorsement went the way he hoped.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Quick Thursday takes

  • An Inquirer piece on the Democratic primary race in the 175th state house district portrays the battle as one between factions of the party with different allegiances and different visions for the future. What is bound to be even more important than these visible differences is the invisible ones underlying them -- will a Ward leader's support mean anything if the committee people there all favor somebody else? Will money and connections prove to be more or less powerful than ground troops and fervor (and/or will "insider" status actually work against some candidates in this era of dissatisfied voters)? I hope that many people are planning to put some of their own energies into this race, as well as a couple of other hot ones, where there's a chance to speak up for the interests of the average Philadelphian.

  • Above Average Jane provides us with an interview with Valerie McDonald Roberts, primary candidate for Lieutenant Governor in another race that's a bit of a Rorshach test for the Democratic party. She looks like a stand-out to me.

  • The state legislature may be taking a second look at wrongful convictions and how they came about, if a bill passed by the Senate gets similar treatment in the House. (or maybe the Senate can convene the commission on its own; I'm not certain)

  • A casino proposal in Montgomery County may be in tottery shape after the city officially expressed opposition to the plan, largely due to worries about traffic tangles.

  • Lower Merion township is planning a lottery for subsidized houses in their pricey region. A ton of people are interested, but only a handful of such homes are available.

  • Finally, visitor's to Albert Yee's blog "philly" (or to his related photography site dragonballyee) should be aware that it has moved. Good look, and apparently much better hosting. yay!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Other Wednesday bits

  • The PA state legislature just passed restrictions on the use of eminent domain, which, among other things, define the criteria that can be used to call a property "blighted," such as safety risks or property abandonment. Seems like a positive step, even if several current cases were grandfathered in order to get the measure passed.

  • Mayor Street has finally released his plan for reorganization of Philadelphia's housing agencies (see prev. here), and it calls for cutting the budgets of two agencies (Redevelopment Authority and Philadelphia Housing and Development Corp.) in half as well as letting go some 100 employees, although some may be transferred to the Neighborhood Transformation Office. Union members were protesting yesterday, and I'm sure there will be many other with things to say once they get a look at the details...

  • The Philadelphia Weekly looks at the city's ongoing shortage of paramedics (and ambulances), sounding the alarm again on a serious and frightening problem that the authorities seem unwilling to address.

  • Above Average Jane applies her evaluative criteria (provided yesterday) to the current campaign of Patrick Murphy and finds that he and his staff are highly commendable. I share her hope that he keeps that perspective as he enters the muddy waters of Congress...

  • Finally, in the news of the bizarre, a local man stole a bunch of newstands (not the honor boxes, but the full size paper-and-cigarette manned booths) and had them moved all over town, to corners where he hoped to get (but did not yet have) permits. It wasn't even subtle, as he had to hire a crane to pull of his heist. Too wacky...

Secret handshakes

Tom Ferrick has a wry look at Monday's story about all the "new blood" getting involved in local politics this year (see prev. here) -- that is, a little imaginary letter from the party head welcoming the new blood into the old game. A couple of snippets:
I will not countenance committee people drawing up their own private-label ballots. You must support the party-endorsed candidate, even if it's Attila the Hun. I may wink if your ward leader wants to add or subtract a name or two, but not you. The right to make a little on the side is strictly limited to the cardinals. [In a Catholic Church metaphor.]
. . .
I encourage you to attend the post-May 16 ward meeting where ward leaders are elected. The time, date and place of these meetings are kept secret, but I am sure your ward leader will be happy to tell you where to go.
Heh, indeed. You'd think that some of this stuff was more humorous than it is; nobody but nobody can tell me whether my planned vacation might conflict with the post-election ward committee meeting. Heck, it's three weeks before the election and I have yet to get a copy of the ballot for my Division. Arcane rites indeed...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Who's getting pinched here?

The Daily News has a piece today looking at the programs that PGW has to help subsidize heating costs for poor and elderly customers, and the burden that these programs distribute to paying customers. When I started out, I thought that they might be identifying a real problem, like we have with the health care system, of spiralling costs carried by an ever tinier fraction of the population. However, while both energy costs and the wealth divide have increased in recent years, its effect locally is actually pretty small.

Look at this graphic, which summarizes their data. A key thing to notice is that the axis for the bar graph (the towers representing paying customers) is truncated to show only the top 10% of the scale, so that a total decline of 3% in customers appears as a cutting in half of the bar. Dramatic, but misleading. The dollar scale is proportional, but it's worth noting that even a 30% increase in this "burden" over the last three years represents only $85 annually for paying customers, which is probably close to being lost in the noise of varying temperatures and rising prices.
PGW officials now say that because of soaring natural-gas prices, the social programs no longer make fiscal sense as the utility's paying customers, including thousands of working poor, face an ever greater burden.
It's reasonable to question whether "19% of the average bill" going toward these subsidies is sustainable, whether nonpayment by customers who can afford to pay should be punished more severely, and whether a company that spanned both city and suburbs could do a better job of distributing the assistance. However, I think that the resentment that such a story would build up toward "deadbeats" is a bit blunted by the realization that it's something like $7 per month for most folks, even at current levels. At the very least, I'd like to see a breakdown of the amount that's due to nonpayment by delinquents versus pay-outs to the needy, before the utility uses a skewed argument to weasel out of its social obligations.

Hyper-quick round-up

  • Councilman Mariano's resignation, with apology, is now in. Apparently his mea culpa left many unimpressed, and they're happy to see him go. Bizarre quote for the day:
    To make up for his misdeeds, Mariano said, he would like "to go to Iraq or Afghanistan and teach government or teach basic electrical theory."
    Let's start with jail and see how that works out...

  • Just in case the voters weren't turned off enough, John Dougherty has asked a judge to boot Michael Nutter, his once and future rival, from his Council seat because of his declared interest in the office of Mayor. (Because someday we hope to be down to only five sitting Council members.)

  • For those confused by the previous story, and/or by the controversy over Philadelphia's attempt to regulate campaign contributions, the Daily News offers a primer on the law and the recent mayoral hopeful fallout. In a related vein, Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr., who sponsored the measure in question, argues that it shouldn't be overturned in cases currently under consideration. Really, the state needs to have campaign finance regulations, which would eliminate the need for local laws, but apparently we can't swing that.

  • Finally, Above Average Jane shares her formula for evaluating candidates for public office, and in particular for discerning the real character of the person behind the chat and public appearances.
    It is important to look at policy positions, campaign finance reports, press releases, votes, and the like, but it is also important to look at the person. If you find someone you can trust, you can skip a campaign finance report now and then and feel comfortable that if he or she didn’t vote the way you like on an issue, there is probably a good reason for it, even if you never know what that reason is.
    I agree. I look forward to seeing the results of her applying her standards to some of the candidates in current races (which I suspect will be forthcoming) . . .

Monday, April 24, 2006

Other Monday bits (late edition)

  • Philadelphia's tax burden is relatively high. Business, property, wage, income... What to do?

  • The Philadelphia school system is working with the local Building/Trades Council to set up a system of apprenticeships for interested graduates. Delicate racial sensibilities appear to be involved, but it seems like the agreement would be a win for both students and unions, if the four-year training leads to new additions to the skilled trades.

  • John Baer applauds Councilwoman Blackwells' proposal to have Philadelphians vote their views on the Iraq war, because even symbolic actions made a difference.

  • The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill to require that translators be made available to criminal defendants in the state. The Senate passed a bill last summer, and the House is hoping to vote on theirs by this summer. Seems like a good idea, when the alternative is to hope that bystanders or family members can convey the critical information correctly...

  • Three stories concerning development questions:

    1. The Daily News notes the scarcity of information about the planned Trump condo tower on the Delaware River, and how this project might dovetail with others being discussed. Also unclear is how Rendell's recent riverfront moratium affects these plans.

    2. A second story looks at a slew of tall buildings planned for along the river. They all seem to be condos. Again, the moratorium could slow or prompt reconsideration of some of these towers.

    3. Finally, the paper's editorial page applauds the governor's moratorium, suggesting that the state should revalue its "riparian rights" to reflect the new trendiness of the area, and that the city should give some thought to how it wants its shoreline to develop, especially for the public (as opposed to corporate) good. I agree in principle, but have no sense of the degree to which the cows are already out of the barn...

A smattering of Monday politicians

Now that I'm well, Blogger is misbehaving, so I only hope I'll get some posts through...
  • Governor Ed Rendell needs all the friends he can get for his upcoming election, so he should probably try not to alienate major union leaders from the Western part of the state...

  • YPP catches an apparent flip-flop on birth control from Sen. Rick Santorum (who would probably prefer not to discuss his views on the matter at all).

  • The Sunday Inquirer had more embarrassing revelations about state legislators taking expenses, including Philadelphia's own Mark Cohen. This time it's per diem expenses being claimed by those who don't actually need a hotel room or meal out. Sigh. Above Average Jane ruminates on this story, particularly wondering who owns a house whose mortgage was paid for with taxpayer bucks (is at least the appreciation owed back?). She also notes that things were quite different just a few years ago, at least to judge by Joe Hoeffel's experience during his state legislature years.

  • Hannah Miller talks about what it's been like trying to do grassroots organizing in Philadelphia and then getting rocketed into the midst of the competitive state house race in the 175th. She's working with Anne Dicker, and her stories from the campaign trail are both inspiring and a bit of an eye-opener about what an independent Democratic candidate is up against. I expect great things from that camp.

    (For those with interest, there's also a discussion in the comments there about how local organizations have and/or should decide their endorsements, how they should balance their various organizational and political principles, and how to keep working together even with some disappointments along the way. Chewy.)

  • Marc Stier is setting aside blogging to work on supporting primary candidates, and he sums up the Neighborhood Networks endorsements for the elections in May. There is plenty of need for volunteers in the three remaining weeks, so get in touch with his NN committee or with any of the campaigns to pitch in.

  • Finally, the Daily News looks at the "new kids" running for Democratic Committee seats this year. Probably not inaccurate, although a little condescending:
    [T]hey're young, progressive, passionate and know how to build a Web site. Depending on whom you talk to, they're either going to invigorate the creaking party machine or jam up the works.
    They cite the startling figure of 200-300 such newcomers; however, that sounds a bit slighter when you figure there are some 3000 committee seats throughout Philadelphia (66 wards, each with a couple of dozen Divisions, with 2 each)... The influx of motivated young people has to be good, although some Ward leaders are more welcoming than others. Albert Yee (look, you're in bold!) recalls evidence that some major powers are preparing for defensive battle from their entrenched positions.

Change of heart

In addition to deciding to offer the feds some bonus information, Rick Mariano has decided to resign from Philadelphia City Council on May 1, rather than waiting until his official sentencing on June 1. Of course, he didn't just quit, but made something of a show of announcing the decision on Frank Rizzo's radio show and then delivering a letter to the Council President this morning... Still, feels like the right outcome.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Friday roundup

Refreshingly slim today, despite my dipping into a wider range of sources...
  • Joe Sestak, running for the US House against Curt Weldon, is apparently a favorite for donations from onetime Clinton insiders. Residue of his former National Security connections, or signs of a Democratic conspiracy? Apparently in the eye of the beholder. yawn.

  • Pennslyvania's Clean Sweep organization is having some turmoil at the top, as its founder steps down to run for Governor and the board tussles with him over its own rights, but there are still plenty of candidates running under its auspices. Some of them rallied in Harrisburg yesterday.

  • Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell wants city residents to vote on a referendum on the Iraq war this fall. It would have only moral, not legal standing. There is precedent for the Council's taking a stand on national issues (such as the Ortiz motion condemning the Patriot Act), but speculation is that this might help bring Democrats out to the polls where a Casey candidacy might not. (Blackwell claims that such considerations were not among her own motives.) 12 votes would be required to put the measure on the November ballot.

  • Philadelphia's top Democratic and Republican party officials joined in the Committee of Seventy's lawsuit aimed at defining who is and isn't a candidate subject to campaign finance limits. Intermittant laser fire still heard from various frontrunner camps...

  • Friedman at America's Hometown offers two building-related tidbits concerning the Philadelphia area: first, the Housing Authority has received national recognition for its Martin Luther King development in South Philly, and second, a new condo complex will be built on the edges of Chinatown, replacing a current surface parking lot.
That's likely to be all for this week -- a long and wearing one on my end! Best weekend to all.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Other Thursday bits -- nonpolitical

  • The Philadelphia School Reform Commission has committed itself to equalizing resources and programs across the city within the next four years. Sounds fantastic. Also noted is a conflict with a custodial union over involvement of a private contractor.

  • Bucks County has decided to use its old lever voting machines for the May election. The Commissioners had selected an electronic replacement, but couldn't get enough delivered in time. Hopefully they won't get in trouble with the feds over the delay.

  • The idea of a new homless shelter in Mt. Airy is outraging Chestnut Hill residents, according to a report in the CityPaper, which goes on to look at resistance throughout the Philadelphia area to expansion of the shelter and housing system. Another classic "not in my back yard" issue... It's in part a legacy of a different time, when shelters were less vocational training and more warehousing of the indigent, but perhaps better neighborhood involvement can help dispell needless fears.

  • Ray Murphy has an opinion piece in the CityPaper, defending the decision to protest the 12th Street Gym owner's support of homophobic politicians. What is the press missing on this one? Citizens weild their economic rights in support of their personal and political views, and win! oh, the horror, the horror...

  • Finally, the inimitable Phillyskyline gets himself into high places around the city to give us views of Philadelphia from on high -- a neat mix of overhead views of familiar locations with eye-to-eye takes of the tallest towers. Fun!
    (via Albert)

Other big Thursday stories -- political

  • Increasing squabbles in the Philadelphia Democratic Party:

    • As though starting up a parallel financial arm to bypass the Treasurer (Dougherty) weren't a slap enough, Chair Bob Brady is calling for an audit of party finances for the past five years. Particular focus is being placed on payments to other officers of Dougherty's union, Electricians Local 98, as well as many checks that went out without a second signature (as required under a seldom enforced rule). DN version of the story here.

  • Round up of candidate news:

    1. A little surprising at the top of the PA ticket: Gov. Ed Rendell indicates a lack of faith in his Lieutenant Governor, Catherine Baker Knoll. Perhaps there's a chance for progressive Valerie McDonald Roberts, who was just endorsed by Neighborhood Networks...

    2. The Daily News opinion page has some advice for would-be Senatorial candidate Bob Casey: debate Santorum now, when the experience can serve to polish your presentation for the rest of the campaign.

    3. In the Democratic primary race in US House District PA-08, Patrick Murphy has been out-fundraising Andy Warren 10-fold. Now Warren's funds are running out, requiring an emergency infusion via a loan from himself. Republican incumbent Michael Fitzpatrick is sitting on his warchest and waiting for later in the year. If you're not sure why you should care about this Philadelphia suburban race, there's part 5 of a 10-part series explaining why it's important.

    4. Another prominent US House race in PA pits Dem. Lois Murphy against incumbent Rep. Jim Gerlach in PA-06. Gerlach has decided that his theme will be accusing Murphy of plagarism for using text from various reports in her speeches; however, Atrios shows that ten minutes with Google easily finds evidence of similar wholesale copying in Gerlach press releases and other documents. Time for a more substantive issue, Jim!

    5. In State Assembly races, incumbent Dem. Babette Josephs is being challenged by Larry Farnese in the primary for the 182nd, and one of the latter's supporters has been trying to get the incumbent bumped from the ballot over incomplete paperwork filings. Fittingly, the case has now been dismissed by the State Supreme Court because of incomplete evidence filings. smirk. Of course, that means no ruling on the merits of the case, but all the amended paperwork is in, so the interests of the voters in both information and choice of candidates has won out.

    6. The CityPaper offers a little glimpse of more action in the 175th primary race, which includes Michael O'Brien, Terry Graboyes, and Anne Dicker. This installment looks at O'Brien and his base of support.

That's what happens when you aren't thinking clearly

Me, that is, because I didn't watch the second debate of Democratic Senatorial challengers. Then again, I have pretty clear opinions of the candidates at this point. I know who I'm voting for in the primary; I know that I'll be putting in legwork in the fall to defeat Santorum. The rest is to wake the sleeping masses.

But anyway, lots of more coherent (and/or dedicated) folks were watching. Jane gives some brief takes from the early part of the action, before she had to leave. Tulin at PoliticsPhilly gives minute-by-minute one-liners. eRobin does a yeoman's job of live-blogging every exchange. I can't imagine how she keeps up! Albert offers some photos and highlights of the event, rally and debate, in installments -- 1, 2, 3, 4 [oops! also 5 and 6] -- not as much text as Robin's, more visual flavor.

As for the press, the horserace themes appear to be crystallizing, with the Inquirer repeating the Casey Keeps the Focus on Santorum meme (while his two midget opponents yip at him from either side, I suppose. sigh) and the failure to debate in either of Pennsylvania's big cities. The Daily News gives top billing to the two progressives' pressure on the frontrunner before falling into the same pattern, and also manages to diss the entire event as a "slugfest." At least the debate point on Alito makes it in here...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

As of tomorrow, I intend to be well!

But meantime, between a groggy day and a late-coming Blogger "scheduled outage," I'm getting to these in bleary hours probably long after you already read about them... sigh.
  • Senate race news and babble...

    1. Former New York Mayor (and 9/11 demi-hero) Rudolph Giuliani has been stumping for US Sen. Rick Santorum. Two guys who really have a lifelong philosophical bond...

    2. The second debate of Democratic Senatorial candidates is/was tonight. However, if you didn't see it live, it's not clear whether you'll get to. Luckily PoliticsPhilly was blogging it live, and I'm sure others were as well...

    3. Philadelphians Against Santorum is looking for a good Santorum impersonator for appearances around the state over coming months. Seriously.

  • Casinos and development wars

    1. The Inquirer's second look at Rendell's riverfront development moratorium focuses on casino proposals.

    2. Dan at YPP made that connection too, and speculated a bit further: that this move might be specifically designed to give the one inland proposal (weaker on many fronts than its river-fronting competitors) a little assist. An angle I hadn't thought of, but am also in no real position to weigh. Casinos are clearly in a lot of people's minds, however...

  • Mayoral forecasting:

    1. An Inquirer editorial despairs that all we have to look at is legal wrangling and posturing, rather than discussion of issues or other useful substance. Useful as a summary of the last week of fireworks.

    2. Tom Ferrick offers an amusing distillation of the player profiles thus far, on his new blog.

  • Corruption developments:

    1. The new information that [convicted Councilman] Rick Mariano is offering to the feds was a secret from his own lawyer. Nobody knows where all the bodies are buried...

    2. Much to the relief of many city reformers, the Street administration has just closed a loophole in the ethics legislation approved by voters last fall, by extending it to include lawyers hired on city contracts. [The rules restrict campaign contributions by any contractors seeking city business, and hopefully lay the groundwork for additional pay-to-play legislation under consideration by City Council.]

    3. Want to help ensure fair elections in Philadelphia? The Committee of Seventy is looking for election-day volunteers to drop in on polling places and provide an impartial view of things. Some advance training is involved.

  • Finally, a poster at YPP draws our attention to an innovative anti-homelessness program that is helping people who tend to avoid more conventional shelter options. Sounds like just the ticket!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Slow news Tuesday (fits well with more illness enjoyment)

  • In what appears to have been a surprise move, Gov. Rendell has enacted a moratorium on riverfront development, which calls for a more strategic assessment of how state-owned land (including rights to extend projects out into the river) should be used and coordinated. Hard to disagree with a call for comprehensive planning, but a bit of a surprise that this is coming from the state rather than the city level -- is that just the latest salvo in an ongoing turf war, a symptom of perceived local corruption (or at least powerful interests), or something else? State Sen. (and local Big Dog) Fumo appears to support the move.

  • Sure to be giving a lot of people the shakes: convicted Councilman Rick Mariano is now cooperating with federal investigators on current cases and offering information on "unrelated matters." I guess that with only his own sentence to think about, he may be deciding it's time to cut some of his former friends loose, which could mean some uncomfortable times for miscellaneous pals and petty crooks...

  • The Inquirer editorial page appears a bit doubtful that politicians are completely unaffected by free perks from lobbyists et al. (Or, at least, I think that's what they're getting at here.)

  • Lots more rumblings about the Dougherty-Nutter shoot-out of yesterday, but mainly because there doesn't seem to be any fresher news, heh. First blood in the mayoral race to be drawn/decided in courts? blah blah.
Hope to have more interesting bits (and less view of my livingroom) tomorrow!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Home sick today

...and can I just say "bleah!"? Stupid cute little virus-laden holiday relatives.... Here are the top stories, for those who are still interested:
  • Johnny Dougherty is trying to get an early start on clearing the field of top opponents by asking Michael Nutter to withdraw from the race or resign his City Council seat. He claims that Nutter's suit against the other presumed candidates (see Thursday's roundup of politicians) is a declaration of intent to run, and thus requires the resignation of his current office under the city charter. oops! Maybe Nutter should have left the wrist-rapping to the third parties... Dan at YPP is officially crossing Doc off of his [Christmas] candidate list for '07...

  • The Inquirer editorial page is hopeful about a new attempt to close a loophole in federal campaign legislation, which appears to exempt 527 organizations including the one running anti-Casey ads across Pennsylvania.

  • Lois Murphy is officially out-fundraising her opponent US Rep. Jim Gerlach by a substantial margin, and getting much more of her money from regular folks.

  • For the political junkie, a collection of small bits, mostly for amusement value, from who's friends with whom to the upsides of no longer holding political office... Another installment of these snacks is here.

  • Finally, two new entries to the local blogging scene: Inquirer columnist Tom Ferrick (who feels he's joining the game belatedly) and The Next Mayor website, which may or may not have enough fodder for regular posts 18 months ahead. Good luck, guys!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Other miscellania

  • Apparently it's Entrepreneurship Week in Philadelphia, which means a number of workshops and events on various aspects of starting a business here, from legal paperwork to professional networking. A great resource for anybody intimidated by the bureauacracy! See the link for times and place.

  • America's Hometown notes that Philadelphia is reasonably well prepared for a future oil crisis, as ranked by a sustainable living organization. There are other aspects of the sustainability rankings in which we could still stand some improvement (not least our sorry handling of solid waste).

  • Eminent domain was in the spotlight again in Camden, NJ, where City Council voted to retain its rights to use the power of taking private property in service of its redevelopment plans. The move drew some hisses, but the council is afraid to limit their powers in the midst of a large (and much-needed) attempt to give their town a new lease on life.

  • Also in New Jersey, the ban on smoking in all public indoor spaces officially goes into effect at midnight tonight, after a judge refused to quash the measure.

  • Finally, a poster at YPP draws our attention to a demonstration planned for Monday in support of fixing Medicare prescription coverage, particularly in allowing seniors more time to choose the right plan.

Friday politicians

  • The Wall Street Journal has an editorial looking at the possibility of corruption or fraud in the next Pennsylvania election(s) and reflecting poorly on Gov. Ed Rendell's dedication to making sure that things go smoothly. It's not a flattering article, but I honestly think that hackable electronic voting boxes pose much more risk than unpurged voter rolls and other boogiemen mentioned here.
    (via Above Average Jane)

  • Perhaps taking a cue from DN columnist John Baer's piece yesterday, the Inquirer today has a piece looking at Ed Rendell's fundraising and speculating about what strings might have come attached to the Governors' Association windfall. They also note that Lynn Swann has received money from one of the competing casino developers. But there are no downsides to bringing casinos to Pennsylvania. Nossir!

  • Babette Josephs' reelection race is the focus of an article today, which looks at her opponents in the last few primaries as well as at the charges and counter-charges in this race. Ironically, Josephs first won her State House seat with claims similar to those (ineffectuality) being wielded against her now. Unfortunately, her current opponent doesn't have her history of activism and progressivism (heck, he was a Republican just a few years back!) with which to win over long-time Babette supporters.

  • The Inquirer has an editorial calling on would-be mayoral candidates to voluntarily comply with Philadelphia's contribution limits, no matter what the outcome of current lawsuits. At least, doing so would make their claims to the high road more credible.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Hot state races

The CityPaper has an article looking at events and allegiances behind two State House races that span downtown Philadelphia -- the 175th (a competitive 3-way primary) and 182nd (where a ballot challenge is to be heard by the Supreme Court). Also mentioned here is an irregular pattern of rulings in ballot challenge cases; it's not clear how much precedent is involved versus the stature of the candidate being challenged.

The Philadelphia Public Record offers a more in-depth look at the 175th race. It points out that the district crosses boundaries of loyalties and subcultures, which has led to a complicated patchwork, as Ward leaders endorse O'Brien, the former Rep's one-time chief of staff; various unions and local politicians line up behind Graboyes, a generally progressive businesswoman and committeeperson; and activists and reformers tout Dicker, a political organizer with a host of enthusiastic volunteer staffers and few ties to the current party machine. Many groups are finding their loyalties divided, and it's unclear who will marshall the resources and votes when election day comes. The elephant in the livingroom here is the future prospect of casino developments, which will be occurring at at least one site in this District, and many of the alliances may reflect interests in those projects, although only Dicker (a casino opponent) is talking about them.

I recommend the whole piece (found via PoliticsPhilly) to anybody trying to get a handle on this race. I also expect we'll be hearing a lot more about these candidates in the next few weeks!

Around the politicians

  • Well, yesterday's suit against the presumed Philadelphia mayoral candidates couldn't go unanswered -- Councilman Michael Nutter has brought a suit of his own against his (presumed) opponents, charging that he shouldn't be the only one toeing the line on campaign contributions. (More on the story here.)

    Tulin at PoliticsPhilly (back in action!) catches a scarey note: that this pair of lawsuits could open up the question of whether Philadelphia has the right to set local contribution limits, or whether only the state can regulate campaigns. Is it better to have a regulation on the books that just about nobody follows until the final stretch, or to be denied any regulation at all? hmmm...

  • Lois Murphy's campaign to unseat US Rep. Jim Gerlach is making great strides, having collected almost a half million dollars in the first few months of this year. Why on earth does she have a primary opponent? Aren't there bigger fish to fry?

  • The new CityPaper has a lengthy piece on the race between US Sen. Rick Santorum and (presumptive nominee) Bob Casey, including a historical perspective of the Democratic party's relationship with the Caseys, the issue of choice, and its own members. Good profile of Casey as a man and a candidate, and of how he's explaining his own priorities in the race.

  • Columnist John Baer looks at Gov. Ed Rendell's famous ability with fundraising, but asks whether the abundance might bring some unpleasant concerns, whether substantive or only a matter of appearances...

  • Last-ditch efforts of Florence Cohen's supporters to get City Council President Anna Verna to call a special election appear to have run aground on excuses based in practical concerns (or at least the printing of May ballots appears to provide a handy excuse for Verna not to deal with the issue).

  • Dan at YPP just got to meet Patrick Murphy, running against Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick for US House, and he was very impressed. I had pretty much the same experience. Nobody can claim the burden of a lesser-of-two-evils choice in PA-08!!

  • State House Republicans have not given up on the possibility of increasing state sales tax to help offset a cut in property taxes (that is, to subsidize property-holders on the backs of working folk -- oh, did I say that out loud?). The Senate appears unmoved.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In over my head

There are really a number of stories of note today, and I fear I can't begin to do them all justice. But I'll do what I can in the time I have...
  • Apparently not everybody rejoiced over the activist "victory" over the 12th Street gym this week (see yesterday); Tom Ferrick opines that holding businesses accountable for their owners' political activity is a terrible unfairness. He seems to think that such demonstrators disrespect free speech, rather than exercising their right to share in it. Sorry, Tom, but citizens have been using a host of factors to direct their commercial choices for some decades now, and many are not about to give their money where it works against their larger interests.

    Unsurprisingly, Dan at YPP is also unimpressed here.
    No one is saying Guzzardi cannot do whatever he wants to do, and support what he wants to support. What we are saying is that he cannot expect the support of the GLBT community and their supporters to patronize their business if he is turning around and sending their money to people who consider them subhuman.
    Bingo. Free speech doesn't imply impunity. You have to be willing to be judged for your stands.

  • A former member of Philadelphia's Committee of Seventy has brought suit against all six mayoral hopefuls (more here), hoping for a clarification of when a person can officially be considered a candidate and thus subject to contribution guidelines. A difficult route to a much-needed end.

  • Patrick Murphy's primary opponent for the Democratic nomination in PA-08, Andy Warren, appears to be willing to bend the truth in service of his candidacy (also caught here). This isn't helping him.

  • A special election in a Pittsburgh-area state House district has put into the seat the first Democrat in 40 years. He will have to defend the seat again in November.
    (via dailyKos)

  • Over at YPP, Vern Anastasio makes an impassioned testmonial in support of Babette Josephs in her contested State House primary race in the 182nd (which includes most of Center City). Will residual pay-hike anger oust one of the few progressives in Harrisburg in favor of a Dougherty protegee? It could be a close race.

  • State Senate Majority Leader Brightbill must be unhappy with polls that show him trailing his primary opponent. Also noted here is that MontCo Republicans are being asked to "hold their noses and vote for Santorum," another poor sign for the GOP.
    (via Atrios)

  • The Philadelphia Weekly offers a look at the immigration issue from the vantage of Chinatown and the worries of those who live there. Also included are some great photos from last week's demonstrations.

  • The Inquirer business section looks at PhillyCarShare and its possible future competitors for the car-free residents of Philadelphia.

  • The Philadelphia area is about to make national religious headlines again, as a Catholic woman plans to become ordained as a priest. I expect her welcome to be no warmer than that of Beth Stroud (prev.)...

  • bunnies!Finally, in honor of the season, two bits related to marshmallow peeps:
    1. Philadelphia Will Do points to a survey of preferences, chicks or bunnies
    2. A coworker of mine directs me to a little opportunity for weekend frolic, marshmallow peeps in classic arcade games!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tuesday news

  • Politicians

    1. Out of this year's record crop of legislative challengers in Pennsylvania, some 25% are no longer on the ballot, due to withdrawels and challenges. Keeping the scribes busy!

    2. Well, Mark Cohen has shaken off his primary opponent, and thus was probably looking forward to side-stepping the recurrent issue of the pay-hike. But then his substantial book expenses came to light causing one columnist to wonder if he's lost his mind. I'm sure the books are cheaper than a staff researcher, but a library is free (and offers exposure to the Common Man as an added benefit).

    3. Ousted State Supreme Court Justice Nigro is considering another run for his old seat, in hopes that his symbolic scapegoating can be put behind him.

    4. Also, the supporters of Florence Cohen's bid to fill her late husband's seat on the Philadelphia City Council are planning to deliver their petitions to Council President Anna Verna tomorrow at noon. No link, just info: Supporters are welcome to (1) join the event, which will occur in City Hall outside room 405, (2) return any petitions that are still circulating (call 215-620-3396 to have them picked up), and/or (3) put in a last flurry of calls to their Ward leaders. Verna has until this weekend to consider calling for an election to fill the seat during the May primary; however, she could also do so in November (when there might be two open seats to fill), so continued pressure is not wasted.

      Many people seem to view this effort as nepotistic. However, counter-intuitively, it represents a more democratic option: Cohen's pledge not to run for reelection in 2007 means that a genuinely open primary could be held for that seat, rather than there being a machine-annointed incumbent already in place. It's a worthy goal, even if one with long odds.

    5. Above Average Jane notes that challengers to some SE-PA incumbents in the US Congress have had some powerful early fundraising. Bodes well for their general election prospects.

    6. America's Hometown profiles Councilman Michael Nutter, his disctrict and his CV. No word on whether this is the first in a series or just a one-time thing.

    7. Another regional blogger looks at State Senate Majority Leader David Brightbill's relationship to the gaming industry, in light of some money that he just returned to some casino-related campaign contributors, and looks at a lot of other money that he might be well to return to donors and taxpayers both.
      (via PhillyFuture)

  • Casinos

    1. The five major groups wooed the gaming board yesterday, with celebrities in tow to make an impression.

    2. However, they all appeared to downplay the effect that they would have on their respective neighborhoods.

    3. The Daily News provides a map with short summaries of the five proposals.

  • Other news

    1. An Inquirer piece looks at the perennial question of why college grads don't stay in Philadelphia, and the suspects range from an outdated image of the city to high taxes to job prospects. Take-home: Nobody knows for sure.

    2. The victory of activists over the 12th Street Gym's ownership is reported today by both the Inquirer and Daily News. Good early publicity for Philadelphians Against Santorum as well.

    3. The Inquirer also has a piece profiling one of the local heavyweights behind a group that might buy the Philadelphia newspapers. He's a conservative, but says his major focus would be on better (and, um, funner) promotion of the two papers. The piece also includes profiles of some other investors from the coalition.

    4. An Inqy editorial suggests that Philadelphians eat in New Jersey restaurants to protest the lack of anti-smoking bills here (since their ban goes into effect this weekend).

    5. Albert has fantastic photos of yesterday's immigration rallies around Philadelphia. uplifting.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Busy time of year!

Meeting tonight is pressuring my day, so just some highlights for now, I fear:
  • Lots of ex-staffers among the lobbyists working closely with Sens. Santorum and Specter in DC. Earmarking and other ugly practices exposed from under the usual rocks...

  • Inquirer offers a profile of Patrick Murphy (past and plans) and the race for the 8th Congressional district.

  • Two quick political notes include Lynn Swann getting a new publicity manager and charges of name-calling in the Josephs--Farnese race.

  • Two interesting Inquirer editorials look at issues affecting Pennsylvanians but also the nation as a whole: the security of nuclear plants (especially against terrorists threats) and health insurance (looking at the experiment underway in Massachusetts).

  • An official of the plumbers' union argues why flushless urinals may pose safety risks, and that there might be better ways to strive for energy-efficiency (such as use of "grey water" for flushing systems).

  • John Baer looks at Ed Rendell's middling popularity in the middle and west parts of the state, and what it reflects about Philadelphia's uniqueness in Pennsylvania.

  • U.Penn continues to set the standard for use of wind-based energy. Yay!

  • There's a good government panel discussion tomorrow night on Penn's campus. A timely opportunity for anybody interested in making a change in political culture in our area.

  • The threatened demonstrations against the 12th Street gym's homophobic owner appears to have paid off: one owned is buying the other out, separating the business from the political activities that its members found odious. The event is still planned, but is being converted to a celebration rally -- congrats!

  • Marc Stier offers his take in the race in the 175th state house district today. Basically, he is happy to conclude that both Anne Dicker and Terry Graboyes have real progressive qualifications, but he argues in favor of his choice to support Dicker for philosophical reasons related to the future of politics in the larger region. I largely agree with his assessments, and (but?) hope to have more to say at some future point.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

First Democratic Senate debate

Yesterday was the first public debate between the three Democratic contenders for the nomination for U.S. Senate -- Robert Casey (Jr.), Chuck Pennacchio, and Alan Sandals. It was rebroadcast this afternoon, when I managed to catch it on local public cable. On the whole I thought it was a well-run debate, and that the three contenders acquitted themselves well, which is good for the voters and the party.

My two major impressions were the following:
  1. This is the second time that I have seen Pennacchio and Sandals. Their views on many issues are quite similar---they're both progressives---but their styles and emphases differ. In both cases I was more impressed with Sandals, and he is my choice in the primary. (I know that this will disappoint the fervent Pennacchio supporters, and I know that the latter may have a head-start on organization-building, but because I think that both of these men are long-shots in the primary, I prefer to vote my simple personal preference, rather than agonizing over strategic considerations for the long haul.)

  2. This is the first chance that I've had to see Bob Casey in action. (I did see one previous TV interview, but it dated from around the time of his last election and didn't touch on the hotter issues of the current race.) I was favorably impressed. He's not a spit-fire, nor, as we already knew, is he as progressive as the other primary contenders. However, I found him well-prepared and well-spoken, and he did support many issues on which Democrats agree (and differ from current national leadership). I was most impressed, however, with how he handled the hot-button issue of choice---he couldn't claim to be anything other than pro-life, of course, but he made clear the many ways in which his views on the issue differ from those of Sen. Santorum (such as support for birth control and sex education), and he also expressed the hope that difficult topics could be discussed, not just warred over, and that central ground could be found in many cases. Yes, I would prefer that all the candidates be more proactive about a woman's right to control the fate of her body, but I was pleased to see that Casey was prepared to handle criticism of his position, and that he had plenty of ammunition for ways in which his holding the office would improve the lives of Pennsylvanians. It made me feel better about the prospect that I might find myself working to support him in the fall...
That's all for now. Let me give the caveat that these are just my overall impressions (noted several hours after watching), and it's entirely possible that I would note different things if reviewing the transcript. Also, there's one more debate planned for April 19, if you want to get a look for yourselves.

Update: Above Average Jane also reports her impressions, and Fact-esque actually did live-blogging coverage of the debate, with questions asked and many of the points made (whew!).


Friday, April 07, 2006

Bits on organizing and strategy (etc.)

  1. Interesting piece that looks at Pennsylvania demographics and their implications for creating a coherent state politics. Nice maps here of political leanings and population densities. No big insights here, but some food for thought.
    (via PhillyFuture)

  2. Young Philly Politics is promoting a protest of 12th St. gym because of its owner's huge financial backing of conservative candidates (and of an agenda not that friendly to the gym's largely gay customer base). Monday, 5pm, you can join the push to hold businesses accountable for their politics.

  3. Above Average Jane has the poop on the disappearance of PoliticsPA, which appears to be a temporary server problem rather than any sort of conspiracy playing out...
That's all for now! Have a great weekend, all...

Friday news

  • The Inquirer gives a preview of the casino site hearings that are being held next week. More than 200 people are signed up to testify, but they have to be prepared to sit all day, because nobody has a time yet. Noteworthy on the map is that 4/5 sites under discussion are located along the Delaware River, meaning that this issue is a hot one for the 175th District state House race (that contains all of them) and may explain some of the flurry among the Big Dogs to line up behind one or another of the current candidates...

  • Speaking of which, today's Gar Josephs column has a portion on the race in the 175th (it starts about 1/3 of the way down, under the heading "Liberty City showdown") looking at some of the dynamics directing support of various candidates for Maria Lederer's state House seat. There's the clash of Dougherty and Fumo factions, a division of union support, questions of who should get "grassroots" support in the race, City Council folks lining up behind one candidate and regional Ward leaders behind another (ok, maybe I know that from elsewhere), and generally a multifaceted battle developing. I've gotten a clearer picture of this race in that last week, after chances to talk in depth to some of the contenders, and hope to have a longer piece in a few days with my thoughts.

  • In more local political earthquaking, a local electrician is getting federal scrutiny in part for his apparant role as "electrician to the stars" of the local Democratic machine. That piece is long and mostly speculative, but it interested me because this guy's woes appear to be reopening old wounds between John Doughterty and Vince Fumo, among the bigger dogs in Philly. Loyalty is still a big word in the old-world business of politics here...

  • Also, Wednesday night was a Philly for Change meeting that featured a host of local political candidates, presumably angling for the group's endorsement. Albert has photos and a report. Seemed like a top-tier lineup. There's a lot of energy in this year's races!

  • Another Quinnipiac poll finds that in the race for US Senate, Casey's lead over Santorum has narrowed a bit. The challenger maintains a 2:1 lead among independent voters, however, which could be key in November.

  • A DN letter-writer is unimpressed by Rick Santorum's claims about his environmental record.

  • John Baer looks at the Pennsylvania Pastor's Network, which aims to register enough new conservative voters to turn PA from a blue state to a red one. Needless to say, the group's activities raise questions about the separation of church and state. This PA effort may be a testing ground for a future conservative strategy nationwide.

  • The Daily News opinion page is underwhelmed by Lynn Swann, in part because of his shifting stance on gambling in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thursday news by theme

  • Smoking ban:

    1. Apparently Tasco doesn't have the votes to pass the current bill before City Council, and activists are blaming Mayor Street for turning his back on an effort he once championed.

    2. For his part, Street predicts that a smoking ban will pass by the end of his term in 2007. Of course, he said a similar thing in 2005 . . .

    3. Columnist Sty Bykofsky remains pessimistic that the bill will ever even come to a vote. Of course, he doesn't much like the restriction, anyway, so he's not mourning that outcome. He also cites a poll indicating that most Philadelphians prefer to let individual bars and restaurants set their own policies. Where's my fantasy smoke-free dance club?!

  • Budgets woes:

    1. Mayor Street and City Council continue at a standoff over whether to issue bonds to support upkeep and improvements to the city's buildings and infrastructure. If they can't agree in time to get something on the May ballot (deadline today!), then there could be a crunch by summer.

    2. Meanwhile the mayor criticizes the state House's cuts to school funding for the district, claiming that really we need more funding, not less.

  • Governors (and wannabees):

    1. Be still my beating heart: Rendell and Corzine are actually having a sit-down about the Delaware River dredging dispute. A compromise may be on the way.

    2. A Quinnipiac poll shows Rendell with a substantial lead over his challenger Lynn Swann, including overwhelming support among black voters.

  • Other politicians:

    1. Kurt Weldon has really stepped in it this time. In the process of slamming his opponent, Joe Sestak, for his parapatetic military lifestyle (that means he hasn't been rooted in his current district as a civilian might be), he brought Sestak's ill child into it, by claiming that there were local hospitals where she could have been treated (also similar story here). This low tactic has elicited howls of outrage from many varied quarters, doing little for Weldon's image...

    2. Turns out that Rick Mariano's wife would like a shot at his seat, perhaps inspired by Florence Cohen's campaign. I suspect that at this point not even an earthquake would get Anna Verna to call a special election -- too much baggage on all sides. Also noted in this piece is the demise of the Police Department's Integrity and Accountability Office, once headed by Ellen Green-Ceisler -- so much for oversight!

  • Other recurring stories:

    1. The plumbers' union has officially signed off on the Comcast building's waterless urinal plan. (I can't believe we're still talking about this.) This piece claims that the extra (not connected) pipes were not part of the union demands, as previously reported, but standard Liberty practice. oops!

    2. A community meeting to discuss the Trump casino proposal last night broke down into a shouting match.

    3. A poster at YPP thinks that the Democrats want young people to get involved only if they won't rock the boat, but that maybe some boat-rocking is just what is needed.

Great news on the minimum wage

The State Assembly managed to come together on a version of Rep. Mark Cohen's minimum wage bill, passing the resulting measure by the happy margin of 146-50. It retains the $2 increase of the original bill ($1 this summer and another next year), for a final rate of $7.15, although no provisions for future cost-of-living adjustments remain. Also part of the compromise is an exemption for the first 60 days of employment of workers under 20, presumably to deprive opponents of the argument that the hike benefits only college students flipping burgers for the summer (not, in fact, the typical minimum wage profile).

Great work by all who have fought for this bill! On to the Senate!

Update: Marc Stier has more on the strategy considerations going forward, and the role that public pressure may have played (or still could) in getting this bill onto the floor for a vote.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Other bits of note

  • I had no idea that the PA Supreme Court was still hearing a case on the pay-raise issue. It has to do with the overall constitutionality of the move as originally passed, whether judicial raises should be restored, and other technical stuff. Might keep the issue alive when it might otherwise have waned...

  • The State House rescinded a $25 million appropriation for the Philadelphia School District. (See also here.)
    The money - the bulk of which goes to 43 of the lowest-performing schools - is part of the extra state funding the district has received over the last five years under terms of the [state] takeover agreed to by Mayor Street and former Gov. Mark Schweiker.
    Apparently this move caught chief Paul Vallas by surprise, although he has received reassurance that the cut was a political stunt and that funding will be restored.

  • Apparently the Philadelphia Democratic party considers progressive bloggers to be among its enemies, rather than its allies. Why does it need a separate online mouthpiece? because it can't convince an attentive audience to support its positions??

  • A little insight into the crowded race for the state 175th district seat was provided by this article, which looked at Dougherty's involvement. Namely, when Lederer announced her plan to retire so late in the year, everybody expected her aide, Michael O'Brien, to be interested in the seat. When he expressed disinterest, a union-connected committeeperson from the area, Terry Graboyes, threw in her hat. Then Dougherty encouraged O'Brien to reconsider (and meanwhile local activists reached out to Anne Dicker, who also jumped in, although her candidacy is given short shrift in that piece). Thus a crowded race, a split union vote, various degrees of "insider" involvement, and little discussion of actual issues. Crazy. I'm hoping to figure out the players a bit better soon; O'Brien and Graboyes don't even have websites, 5 weeks before the primary!

Wednesday politicians

  • Governor Ed Rendell continues to out-fundraise his opponent Lynn Swann significantly, and has a whopping warchest in the bank. More here.

  • US Senate Candidate Bob Casey came out swinging at his opponent, Rick Santorum, telling a labor conference that Santorum is anti-labor because of his close relationship to big business interests. He also mentioned Santorum's assertion that women should stay at home, citing complaints from two-income families that couldn't get by on a single salary.

  • An out-of-state organization is also running commercials against Casey, claiming that he isn't spending enough time at his current job. I think that this is the same organization that has raised questions before for not adhering to PAC rules, but I couldn't access the older articles to confirm -- ah yes, the Daily News confirms my suspicions.

  • The Daily News looks ahead to the upcoming debate between Democratic Senate hopefuls Bob Casey, Chuck Pennacchio, and Alan Sandals. They predict that Sandals and Pennacchio will mostly need to distinguish themselves from each other, as the contrasts with Casey are already clear.

  • Apparently Philadelphia's ever-controversial District Attorney, Lynne Abraham, has decided to endorse Larry Farnese, a challenger to State Rep. Babette Josephs, apparently for Tough on Crime reasons. The announcement fest was crashed by Josephs supporters. Dan at YPP was unimpressed by Abraham's choice.

    I gotta say, in a complete vacuum, the lone endorsements of Abraham and Dougherty would be enough to make me wonder about this guy. Add that to Josephs' strong progressive record and Farnese's vague stances on the issues (his responses to NN referred readers to his barely accessible website, which has a total of one page of generalities, and he seems to be banking on anti-incumbent fervor), and my choice in this race is a no-brainer. Vote Babette.

  • Philadelphia City Councilman (for two more months) Rick Mariano wrote his constituents, not to apologize for leaving them unrepresented, but to ask for their prayers. It also promises that his office will remain open, a question that really isn't up to him. At least he did admit to not being perfect...

  • Finally, Above Average Jane reports on a UPenn Democrats event that featured some prominent local bloggers and a number of local pols and political candidates, including Paul Lang, Michael Nutter, Lois Murphy, Joe Hoeffel, and Patrick Murphy. Also present was Dennis Spivack, a Penn alum and congressional candidate in Delaware. Jane gives her impressions of everybody who spoke -- it sounds like a rousing event!

Clearly the *plumbers* aren't running for office

It looks like the Comcast/green-urinal crisis (see prev. here) has been settled, via a negotiation brokered by Mayor Street and State Senator Fumo. Note the ridiculous fine print, however:
Liberty, however, was forced to accept a long list of conditions to open the way for the green devices. Most significantly, it agreed to install standard water lines with the urinals, although they are unnecessary and will not be connected. The plumbers contend this is a backup measure, in case the urinals don't work.
Maybe this covers possible future safety concerns, but it sounds like a buy-off of the sort that gives unions a bad name even among labor supporters. Also, they aren't changing the code to make such urinals acceptable elsewhere, but are merely granting a one-time variance for the Comcast building. All very forward-thinking... Sigh.

Note: this is one of several stories today that allow reader comments. Appears that the PhillyNews folks are making that a regular daily feature...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tuesday news

Mostly small bits today...
  • The US Congressional race between Curt Weldon and Joe Sestak is heating up, with both men reporting close to half a million dollars raised this past quarter. Weldon plans a terrifying schedule over coming day, with some five events per week planned in the next two months. Ron Klink shows his shaky Democratic loyalty by endorsing Weldon (as Specter before)...

  • Those outraged that Philadelphia City Councilman Rick Mariano is continuing to draw a salary despite his criminal conviction may be glad to hear that at least he's giving up his city car. Don't expect much more than that.

  • Um I just have to note this story, about a Conshohocken Councilman that I know nothing about, because it includes this priceless bit of legal mumbo-sushi:
    Though Pennsylvania law says felons cannot hold public office, it doesn't forbid them from running.
    Apparently they can't be thrown out either. Amazing...

  • A (not so much) chastened Lynn Swann promises to charge state tax on his football schwag in future.

  • The Daily News takes a look at the School District budget for next year, and notes that there will be some belt-tightening, despite additional state funds.

  • Above Average Jane notes the new website of Robin Rosenthal, a candidate for the state Senate from Bucks County.

  • Just over two weeks left for voter registration in time to have a say in the upcoming primaries (which for many races are the whole election). The Inquirer lists the places to go to get yourself registered.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday link-dump

Busy and productive day, so all these tabs just sat forlornly in my Firefox window until now (!). Here's what I can get noted before my ride arrives (lost my Transpass on my way to lunch today -- ack!!):