- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Ben Waxman's blog
Will Bunch, who is a reporter at the Daily News, has written a new book about right-wing extremism in the age of Obama. He'll be appearing on Wednesday night at the Pen and Pencil to talk about the book, joined by Ari Berman of the Nation Magazine. It should be a good event, check out the details below. It does conflict with the beginning of the Phillies game, but I'm sure they'll try to keep the program brief since Will is also a huge baseball fan.
Pen and Pencil is located in Center City @ 1522 Latimer St. Please let me know if you'd like to come!
Wednesday's event at the Pen and Pencil:
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 7:30pm -- Will Bunch & Ari Berman
At the height of the election season, the Pen & Pencil Club brings you a double book event on politics and partisanship. Daily News Senior Writer Will Bunch will discuss his new book, "The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama." And Ari Berman of The Nation will discuss his new book, "Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics," which traces the evolution of the Democratic Party from Howard Dean to Barack Obama, chronicling how American politics and the country writ large changed during this pivotal period--and how the grassroots fight for political power in America continues to this day.
From "It's Our Money":
Last week, Philadelphia City Council overwhelming approved a non-binding resolution that called for “more discussion, more deliberation” of Mayor Nutter's proposal to close 11 city libraries. Some Council members want to hold additional public hearings on the closures, but City Council President Anna Verna has made clear that no such hearing will take place.
“We in Council are completely powerless at this time,” said Verna. “It's strictly up the Mayor. If we were to have public hearings from now until the first of January, it wouldn't do anything. Let me reiterate: We on Council are powerless at this point in time. The Mayor will do what he has to do.”
A crisis of this magnitude is license to do some serious reinvention of government. It's a time when you can get away with bold thinking, and radical ideas. A few more of those were what we were hoping for.
First, let's be clear: We know how easy it is to be armchair experts, and how hard it is to have to make the decisions. But we also believe the city and its citizens are richer when we can have discussions about these challenges, with many at the table trying to solve the problem. This is a time for us to tough it out together. We hope that during the town-hall meetings the mayor announced yesterday he has a chance to listen as much as to talk.
This Saturday, "It's Our Money" will be teaming up with "It's Our City" to record a half hour program on the budget crisis.
Dave Davies will interview the mayor and want also want questions from you. What would you ask Mayor Nutter about the budget crisis if you had the chance?
As you probably know, Philadelphia is facing a deficit of $108 million
for FY09 and a potential shortfall of $1 billion over the next five
years. Mayor Nutter has announced drastic budget cuts, including
shutting down 20% of the city's libraries, closing almost all pools
during the summer, ending residential street cleaning, and more.
Does anyone have bold steps that Philadelphia could take to deal with
the fiscal crisis, as an alternative to the service cuts and other
measures being proposed by Nutter?
For example: city taxpayers pick up the tab for the First Judicial
District of Pennsylvania, even though the court system is supposed to
be funded by the state. Want if Mayor Nutter simply said no? It would
save the city about $116 million and send a powerful message to
Do you have suggestions for bold ideas to deal with the budget crisis?
If you've been paying attention to the national economy, it shouldn't be surprising that Philadelphia is facing a financial crisis. According to Mayor Nutter, city government is facing a shortfall in revenue that could top $850 million over the next five years.
"It's Our Money", a joint project between the Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, is working hard to help you understand the current situation. Below are links to an op-ed, editorial, and audio clip about the budget crisis. Take a look and let us know what you think!
"Philadelphia zapped by bond-market turmoil." Philadelphia Daily News, 10/13/08.
"Ben Waxman and Dave Heller talk about the bond crisis." WHYY-FM, 10/10/08.
(cross posted at It's Our Money)
The dream of creating a citywide wireless network, first begun under Mayor John Street, seemed nearly dead last month when Earthlink decided to abandon the effort. A group of local investors has breathed new life into the proposal by announcing plans to purchase the network on Tuesday. Good news for Wireless Philadelphia? Perhaps. But the new version of the initiative looks dramatically different than the original conception of the project.
The new group of investors came together so quickly that they haven't even figured out a name. The firm, currently called Network Acquisition Company, is led by businessman Derek Pew and former Verizon executive Mark Rupp, The investment group plans to dramatically alter the business plan.
We recored the first It's Our Money podcast and it is now posted on our site. I thought YPP readers might be interested because it features Helen Gym, a frequent commenter on YPP. Helen is joined by Wayne Harris, who is the budget director for the School District of Philadelphia.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking here. You can also subscribe to the feed through iTunes or any other podcasting software.
Did you know that there are more people on death row from Philadelphia than any other part of the state? That fact is courtesy of District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who aggressively seeks the death penalty whenever possible. I just posted an article to It's Our Money that looks at the financial cost of seeking so many capital convictions. Here is a little taste:
There are 222 people on death row in Pennsylvania. Of that group, 116 are from Philadelphia. No other city or county in the state comes close to our numbers. It's true that Philadelphia has the largest population, but that doesn't completely explain why our city is so well represented on death row. Prosecutors in Philadelphia seek the death penalty at a much higher rate than other parts of the state. For example, prosecutors in Pittsburgh seek the death penalty about one fourth as much as their counterparts in our city.
Deciding to seek the death penalty-- and paying the extra costs associated with that choice-- is completely up to discretion of prosecutors. Lynne Abraham strongly supports capital punishment and uses her office as a tool to implement that policy. As a result, Philadelphia taxpayers wind up paying a higher tab to prosecute death penalty cases than people in other parts of the state.
You can read the entire article by clicking here.
Tomorrow is the final opportunity for the public to testify about the mayor's proposed operating budget. If you'd like to tell City Council how you think our money should be spent, this is your chance!
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 2:30pm. There will be a break at 4:30pm and then testimony will resume at 5:30pm. Right now, the hearing is scheduled to last until 7:00pm but it may run later depending on how many people come to testify.
I've been told that the afternoon slots are all filled, but there is still space in the evening. To get your name on the list, e-mail Sharon Ortiz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-686-3407.
If you can't make it to the hearing, be sure to speak your piece in our "Testify!" thread on It's Our Moneyi. We'll make sure that City Council gets a copy.
From the Philadelphia Daily News
Young, and feeling that health-care anxiety
By BEN WAXMAN
A FEW DAYS ago, I got the ID card for my new health-insurance plan in the mail.
I breathed a sigh of relief. For a brief period, I'd been walking around uninsured. Being without health insurance has become a troubling rite of passage for young adults and is quickly approaching a crisis point.
To be honest, I'm fairly lucky when it comes to health care. My mother has a great policy at work that covered me during college. I started my first job about six months ago, and my employer provides insurance. There are plenty of young people who aren't as lucky.
I don't think anything in my latest op-ed will be news to anyone who regularly reads Young Philly Politics. First, poverty is Philadelphia's biggest issue. Second, Bread and Roses Community Fund supports dozens of worthy organizations that are working to find a solution to this difficult problem.
Give to them now! Click here to give a gift to the whole city.
Funding grassroots start-ups
Philadelphia Daily News, 12/18/07
By BEN WAXMAN
During the holiday season, our contributors are highlighting the miraculous work done by some local nonprofits and charities.
A FRIEND recently visited Philadelphia.
He was driving from western Pennsylvania, and there was a huge accident on the turnpike. He took a back way into the city, and wound up driving right through some of the worst pockets of poverty in Philadelphia.
It was a side of the city he'd never seen, though he'd visited half a dozen times. He was taken aback at the abandoned houses, streets in disrepair and vacant storefronts. He'd only been in Center City and adjacent areas, so the poverty was invisible.
Every year at this time, Philadelphians are asked to give to organizations that provide a warm coat or hot meal to a family in need. These are certainly worthy, but I want to live in a city where homeless shelters are obsolete. If you make a donation to Bread and Roses Community Fund, you'll be supporting work to end poverty in Philadelphia.
Yesterday, members of the Legislative Black Caucus walked off the Pa. House floor in protest of the lack of action on sensible gun control. Lawmakers, most of whom are from Philadelphia, staged the protest during a vote on the open records bill. The leadership of the House Democrats, which includes Dwight Evans, have met with the Black Caucus and say they are trying to address their concerns.
The focus on open records is mostly driven by the press and activists like Russ Diamond. I am sure that polls show a majority of people support the legislation, but it just is not the number one concern of most voters. The walkout is a dramatic reminder that there are vital issues not being addressed by the state legislature.
Open records is not the only piece of legislation that can be held up by the walkout. Democrats cannot pass their plans for alternative energy, property tax relief, or health care without the support of the legislators that walked off the floor. With the governor on their side, the legislators who walked off the floor could throw a major wrench in the system.
However, I will say that I am a little disappointed that other members of the Philadelphia delegation have not joined this protest. There is not a single part of the city that has not been touched by gun violence and every elected official needs to be part of the solution.
Last week, Washington Redskins Free Safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed at his home outside of DC. He was shot in the leg, but bled to death because the bullet went through an artery. Taylor's teammates played through the grief on Sunday.
Cornerback Shawn Springs said he choked up as he dressed for the game next to Taylor's unmanned locker. Cornerback Fred Smoot said he cried the first few times Buffalo had the ball. The Redskins' pep band began the day with a sad, swing-low song called "Going Home."
Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss - who played for the University of Miami, same as his close friend Taylor - held up his hands in a new three-fingered salute to his late teammate's jersey number, using his index and middle fingers to form a "2" and his little finger to form the "1" after each of his five catches, often looking toward the sky.
The OT threat to our health
by Ben Waxman
Philadelphia Daily News, 11/15/07
Thousands of nurses and other health-care workers across Pennsylvania being are overworked by a practice called mandatory overtime.
This policy is bad for the employees, their families and the public. The state House has passed a bill banning it - and the Senate should do the same.
Anyone who has watched "ER" or even "Scrubs" knows that health-care workers have exhausting schedules. That's the nature of a 24-hour industry.
But many people may not know that some workers are forced by supervisors to work past their regular shifts. Nurses and other caregivers are sometimes required to keep working for several more hours - sometimes even an entire shift. If nurses refuse to stay, they can be disciplined, fired, even lose their licenses.