Goode receives Community Development Champion Award

City Councilman At-Large W. Wilson Goode, Jr. receives the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations’ 2013 Community Development Champion Award in recognition of his creation and expansion of the Philadelphia Community Development Corporation (CDC) Tax Credit Program. The award is presented at PACDC’s Annual Gala and Awards Ceremony.

The CDC Tax Credit Program was created by Councilman Goode through a bill approved on November 14, 2001. It began as a pilot program under which up to ten (10) businesses would receive tax credits of $100,000 per year against business income and receipts tax liability for each year the business contributes $100,000 in cash to a qualifying CDC. Each business is required to enter into a contribution agreement with the City for ten (10) years. The permanent tax credit program was recently expanded to forty-two (42) partnerships each contributing at least $850,000 over ten years.

Final workshop on running for Election Board on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 1606 Walnut St. from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Phila NOW and Phila CLUW have been involved in organizing a series of workshops to run for Election Board/Committeeeperson. (The handbook we developed is posted at City Commissioner Stephanie Singer has been our principal speaker and has herself invested considerable time and resources in this effort.

We are having a final workshop On Wednesday, Feb. 13 which will be held at 1606 Walnut St. from 5:30-7:30 p.m. At this workshop, nominating petitions will be distributed and the specific rules for circulating and filing nominating petitions will be discussed.

Can Philly Drop its Addiction to Throwing Money at Big Business? Not likely

This is a fascinating article about the zero sum game that cities and states across the country play to persuade corporations to move to whichever of them is the "friendliest". In other words, to whichever jurisdiction pays the biggest bounty.

Of course this is not a real game, but a gargantuan swindle perpetrated by big business on job-starved jurisdictions. As a general rule few real jobs are created, those that are cost way beyond what it would cost to create a greater number of public jobs, and the effect on the country as a whole is to drive wages and productivity down. Nationwide over $70 billion had been thrown at companies through these "incentives", enough to rehire every employee laid off in the recession. Many times these companies don't even stay bought. They take the incentive, then a few years later, move again or shut down completely.

Philadelphia is hooked on this kind of legal bribery as its primary economic development strategy. We offer cheap land, tax abatements, tax increment financings and a variety of other special tax benefits for individual, and various classes of, companies. Our political leaders have been doing this for decades, and will continue to, unless and until we make them stop.

ADA Fundraiser, October 13: Save the Date!


Join Philadelphia's Progressive Community To Honor Three Distinguished Women:

Babette Josephs, State Representative

Marion Tasco, Philadelphia City Councilwoman

Shelly Yanoff, Director, Public Citizens for Children and Youth

Date: October 13, 2012, 4 to 6:30 p.m.

Host: Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of

Americans for Democratic Action

Place: Home of Bruce and Carol Caswell

1024 W. Upsal St., Phila., PA 19119

Tickets, $50.00

Sponsors (to be listed on invitation):

ADA Lifetime Democracy Champions, $500

ADA Liberal Boosters, $250

ADA Liberally Supporters, $100

To make a reservation or become a sponsor, contact Bruce Caswell at 215-848-0563 or

Is it time for me to withraw my money from The Reinvestment Fund?

My mother invested some money with TRI a few years before she died. I've left the money there because I thought it's what she would have wanted: TRI does a lot of good stuff.

But this article is very disturbing.

Nowak has long had this perspective. The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), the community investment giant that Nowak co-founded in 1985, has made more than $235 million in loans to charters. Nowak served as the first board chairman at Mastery Charter Schools, whichwas involved in the Blueprint’s rollout and is poised to expand its influence over Philly schools.

The model that Nowak pioneered at TRF is now, at William Penn, set to use old money to fund a new philanthropy: a combination of the liberal foundation era’s insistence on appealing to non-ideological pragmatism to shape government policy and the conservative foundations’ skepticism of (though not outright hostility to) government in favor of the free market.

Really? $235 million in loans to charters? My mother is rolling over in her grave*.

Also in that article -- much other disturbing information about the behind the scene machinations in the appointment of the new PSD superintendent.

* A figure of speech. She was cremated.

You don't need to bribe the owners of these companies to stay . . .

because they live here. You just have to give them access to capital and community support. But still, it's uphill fighting monopoly capitalism, no doubt.

Kudos to Kenney

HEY, BIG BANKS, Philadelphia wants its money back!

After financial agreements called interest-rate swaps went south along with the economy a few years back, the city and the Philadelphia School District had to fork over millions of dollars to major banks to sever the deals.

This spring, the city retained an outside law firm to examine whether to file a lawsuit. The move followed a resolution that Councilman Jim Kenney introduced in March calling for hearings to investigate interest-rate swaps.

Endorsements of Philadelphia Progressive Organizations for the April 2012 Democratic Primary

Endorsements of Philadelphia Progressive Organizations for the April 2012 Democratic Primary are posted at Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus website at

The Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus does not endorse candidates but focuses on making the Democratic Party more democratic, more transparent. We have listed the endorsements for the April 2012 Democratic primary of member organizations (Philadelphia NOW) and organizations which although not officially organizational members have individual members who belong to and support the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus (Americans for Democratic Action, Liberty City, Philly for Change). Member organization, Neighborhood Networks, did not make endorsements in this election cycle.

Open letter to George Norcross and the other new owners of the Inquirer, Daily News, and

Congratulations Messrs. Norcross, Katz, Lenfest et al,

I, for one, welcome our daily print media's return to local ownership. Please don't close the Daily News.

While I imagine others will applaud this re-appropriation of the local press, no doubt the association of some owners with local politics is going to rankle. We've been through this before.

In Brian Tierney, we had a Republican owner. Learn from his experience, in particular his mistakes. He promised to keep personal politics out of the newspaper, even promising to do so in writing. That was a good idea. Do something like that.

However, when his centrist editorial board voted to reject John McCain for president -- as most centrist editorial boards did in 2008-- he couldn't resist injecting himself right onto the front page with a misjudged personal McCain endorsement that ran right next to the board's endorsement of Barack Obama.

It was like a banner headline that read, "The Owner Lied. He Wants Bias."

Don't do anything like that.

Yes, Philly is an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Yes, many opinionated people (such as I and those here) are to the left of President Obama and most of the Democratic party.

We're here. Our positions deserve representation on your editorial pages. Syndicated columnists on the Democratic side of issues, such as E.J. Dionne and Eric Alterman, should share space with some further left, such as Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman. Maybe offer space to Duncan Black. He'd probably say no, but since we have such a great influential (and terse!) writer of the left in town, often referencing our urban hellhole, why not ask?

But Democrats and those to the left shouldn't be the only voices on the editorial pages, and we certainly don't need the news pages.

Paul Krugman has written that the facts have a liberal bias, and the truth is good people of the left pride themselves on being able to handle the truth, on crafting political positions that deal with all the messy details of daily life, specifically the lives of those who suffer the effects of a bad economy in relative obscurity. We can handle the truth on the street, in City Hall, even in Harrisburg, messy as that can be.

Just be honest. Let good reporters write what they observe and what they think is newsworthy with as little bias as possible.

Cover the 99% as well as you cover the 1% (which is more than some publications can manage) and we'll be fine.

If a bias is inevitable, show bias toward thoughtful, intelligent approaches to daily events and life. If you need an example, I'd offer the current Boston Globe. I remember the golden days of the Inquirer, when it won seventeen Pulitzers in fifteen years. With its well-staffed political coverage and intelligent features, today's Globe looks more like the old Inquirer than the Inquirer does.

I know it all comes down to money, but if they can do it there, why can't we do it here? Before considering another round of cuts or more salacious front page photos, why not at least try adding more thoughtful journalists instead? Maybe we'd like book reviews, if we were offered them.

Anyway, good luck! I look forward to cursing you sometime in the future. Quoting you too!

Oh, one more thing. Please don't close the Daily News. In my opinion, even with all their faults, they got the 99% right more frequently than the Inky did. Announcing you are keeping the DN would be a good way to start.


Sam Durso

Diane Ravitch on Education Beyond Testing

Top education advocate Diane Ravitch has been on a tear recently.

Her "Death and Life of the Great American School System" ripped a new one for a generation's worth of politicians' approaches to "fixing" American schools.

Now, in the last two issues of the New York Review of Books, she has laid out a simple examination of our national obsession with teaching to the test, comparing it to Finland's success story, using a completely different approach.

It's stimulating stuff for anyone interested in improving American schools who'd rather look at best practices rather than random theories by right-wing ideologues.

This is the first of a two-part article. I've read the second in the current NYRB, and it's great. Hopefully it will be available soon online, so I can post a link.

Philly public schools turn off hot water

At the school where my wife teaches, and at about 10 other schools where she has friends and contacts working, hot water has been turned off!

This has been going on for at least two days. We just confirmed the same story with yet another teacher at yet another school.

An absolute must listen

An amazing interview that speaks to the destructive impact of the "war on drugs" to many of our neighborhoods and neighbors.

Highly recommended.

Politico article on Redistricting: "No Democrat is facing more blowback than Brady. "

See the Politico article "Some Dems embrace GOP maps" which contains an interesting detail about the redistricting disgrace I was unaware of :

No Democrat is facing more blowback than Brady. The map solidified the congressman’s hold on the Philadelphia-based district he has held since 1998 by shrinking the number of black voters and thereby diminishing the prospect of a strong primary challenge from a black candidate. The plan even drew the home of a potential Brady challenger, Democratic state Rep. Tony Payton, outside of the district. (my emphasis)

But Brady’s plan may have backfired: Former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore has turned the congressman’s alliance with Republicans into a central theme of his primary bid against Brady. Moore is crisscrossing the district accusing Brady, a longtime party boss who also heads the Philadelphia Democratic Party, of being a turncoat. In a letter to Brady posted on Moore’s website, the former judge wrote: “Watching you sell out your party for your own benefit, I felt as I imagine [Philadelphia] Eagles fans would feel if Michael Vick, in his Eagles uniform, was caught in the back of a bar sharing game plans with [New York Giants quarterback] Eli Manning.”

“He’s not just a Democrat. He is the head of the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. When the head of the party teams up with the opposing party, what does that say?” Moore told POLITICO. “I think it’s major.”

Brady claims that he knew nothing about the contours of the plan, but it just so happens that a potential challenger's house is conveniently cut out of the district!

Not only has Brady made it more difficult for Democrats to regain the house, he has made his district much less competitive for an African-American challenger for the next 10 years.

Report on January 2012 PA Democratic State Committee meeting

My report on January 2012 PA Democratic State Committee meeting is posted at

The New Normal? EPA May Send Water to PA Town Whose Wells Were Tainted by Frackers

Happy 2012! Once again, easy-to-predict environmental catastrophe is made real in the Pennsylvania of Governor Tom Corbett, as residents of Susquehanna County's Dimock Township, up near the state's northeast corner, have been informed that the EPA is hiring a private contractor to bring potable water to their homes.

Why are our precious tax dollars being spent to deliver takeout water?

Because Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the area's local fracker (of Houston, TX) apparently fouled the town's aquifer, of course!

And how are Gov. Corbett's local authorities protecting the Pennsylvanians of Dimock from these carpetbagging Texas criminals?

By granting the frackers permission to STOP delivering water to the people whose wells they fouled:

Cabot won permission from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to stop daily deliveries of bulk and bottled water on Nov. 30. Since then, anti-drilling groups have been paying to have water delivered to about a dozen households. But the deliveries are sporadic and, with winter setting in, residents say they can't continue indefinitely.

Welcome to the new normal.

So, albeit belatedly, in step the feds.

For your Congressional scorecard, Dimock is home to recently ousted Democratic Congressman Chris Carney, and also borders the district of the state's most vulnerable new Republican Congressman, infamous bigot Lou Barletta. Post-gerrymandering, Carney likely will run for either his old seat or Barletta’s. A Blue Dog, perhaps Carney will learn from this experience the fallibility of leaving to the market all decisions related to people's health and the environment.

Just in case we've forgotten, this type of thing usually heralds a political change. When evil is revealed in a democracy, the healthy thing to happen is for 1) the party out of power to use the fact of the evil to help defeat incumbents, so 2) the newly elected can commence remedying the evil.

In places scarred by Tea Party victories two years ago, 2012 needs to be a year of change.

Woe to Democrats if we/they fail to stand up for the people of PA and vanquish Republicans for this unacceptable evil.