Democratic party officials are wrapping up a two-day visit to Philadelphia to evaluate the City of Brotherly Love as a possible site of the party's 2016 convention.
Representatives were at the Comcast Center this morning and are expected to attend a rally at the National Constitution Center and a reception at the Art Museum. On Wednesday, they toured a sports arena and had lunch at a famed cheesesteak shop. - WITF
Site selectors for the 2016 Democratic National Convention will be in Phoenix early next month.
Phoenix is battling Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Columbus, Ohio; and Birmingham, Alabama for the 2016 DNC.
Ann Wallack, chairwoman of the regional bid, said Democratic convention executives and site selectors will be in town Sept. 9-11.
They will tour US Airways Center, the Phoenix Convention Center and other downtown venues. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will also be part of the meetings, Wallack said. - Phoenix Business Journal
And some Brooklyn news
A host committee of 70 prominent New Yorkers have pledged to raise $100 million to support the convention and parties that surround it, including JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein, and celebrities like Cynthia Nixon.
“We have a lot of people in this town who provide a lot of support for the Democratic Party, and the resources will be there,” de Blasio told reporters Wednesday.
The mayor’s office believes the city would surpass the $255 million Republicans brought in when they held their convention in Manhattan in 2004. De Blasio said that amount of money will be recouped “many times over” because of the financial impact of the convention. - WPRO
Fast Eddie Rendell is heading the committee to raise $50 million to bring the 2016 DNC Convention to Philadelphia. He's being joined by Bob Brady who ostensibly said:
“I don’t know what the hell is in Columbus,” U.S. Rep. Bob Brady told the Daily News. “I hope they are the competition. We’ll blow them away.” (Source)
Philadelphia is thought of as being second to Columbus because Ohio is, well, Ohio. Conventions like to be in swing states, but there are additional considerations. As Oreo reported, the Federal hit will be $18 million. Can Columbus raise that? We know Philly can: it raised $66 million for the 2000 GOP Convention, with $39 million coming from the City itself. Plus, Philly will provide a dry run for a large function in 2015, when the Pope comes here for an International Conference on Families. Proven security.
Not to mention the logistics of a convention. There's a lot of walking at a convention. Venues are spread. While there are a lot of daily happenings at the Convention Center itself, there are a ton of other activities "around and about". Philadelphia is a walking city, with tons of great restaurants, meeting halls, and things to do for the spouses, significant others and families of delegates, plus all the visitors. We even have the hotel rooms, mass transit to move people around, even a direct train route down to the stadiums where the nomination would surely be held.
Charlotte set a great standard in 2012 with a huge cadre of people who didn't attend the convention events itself, but filled the streets as guides and other types of volunteers. Look at the posted photograph and imagine it filled with happy Democrats. (We'll get back to that photo.) Outside speeches on various topics.
And let's not forget the Jersey factor. Media reach of Philadelphia is well into Jersey. Just another slap in the face to Fat Boy Slim and his cronies, who will hopefully be in jail by then, or at least out of office.
Finally, while I have every intention of winning Pennsylvania in 2016 (AGAIN) it's not a given. If you harken back to 2008, my battle cry was "To win Pennsylvania, McCain has to win the 5 counties. To do that, he's got to win Chester County. To do that, he's got to carry Tredyffrin, and for that, he needs W-5, and the little blonde girl says to do THAT, he's got to get past me, and I say no. NO! Hell no." I didn't foresee Tom Corbett and 2010 in the vibrancy and joy of 2008. Never saw the teabaggers coming. Thought we were finished with that sort of racism. But when we hold the Senate this year, and the obstructionism continues, Pennsylvania will be in play. How historic it will be if it's Philadelphia that nominates the first woman Presidential candidate of a major party.
Now back to that picture. I took it from the second floor balcony of the Constitution Center. Be with me in that photo. You're looking south across the mall to Independence Hall. Think of the men and women guilty of treason against the crown so today, we can breathe free. During all of the First Continental Congress, and parts of the Second Continental Congress and development of the Articles of Confederation and the writing of the Constitution, Philadelphia was the country's capitol. Imagine walking over 200 years ago across that mall, turning left near the Hall, and into the cobblestone streets once walked by Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Madison, et. al. On to Elfreth's Alley, the oldest, continually occupied residential street in America.
Columbus? Really? Don't get me wrong, I've spent time there, and it's a pleasant place. I like the annual state fair Ohio throws there. There are a good number of hotel rooms, however, they're spread around. The trains? Nope, only buses, and we know how well they do in mass traffic. The food? Think bbq and fried cookies, not world class fare. The people? Nice. Friendly. But lacking that Philly attitude.
Democratic congressman Bob Brady remains the primary mover to get Philadelphia to submit a bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention:
Mayor Michael Nutter got a firsthand briefing this morning from a top local Democratic Party operative on what it would take to have Philadelphia host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
US Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.) met privately with Nutter at City Hall for about one hour, making the case to have this city bid for the 2016 Democratic convention.
“Most of the cities (which have hosted) brought back hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues,” Brady said afterward. “The city gets a return from a convention of this size.”
Brady said the Nutter meeting was made more urgent because the DNC is speeding up the application process in light of speculation that the Republican party may move up its 2016 convention from August to June.
Oreo had the last update in August on Brady's push for a Philadelphia bid.
Also interesting is the note that the DNC is speeding up the application process.
A friend recently signed me up for a subscription to Philadelphia Magazine (thanks Doug!) I opened the issue and on the first page was a letter from the Chairman (who knew magazines had chairs?) about an incident on a Philadelphia trolley. The basic story is that there were about 20 people riding a trolley, and a mother started hitting her 2 and 4 year old children. All but one person said nothing. One person said "If you hit that child one more time, I will call the police and follow you home and make sure they arrest you."
I put the magazine and asked myself what I would do in that situation. Take a moment and ask yourself what you would do....
Back to the Chair's letter, which went on to talk about the aftereffects of violence on young children. About how we, as a society, tend to look the other way.
Magazine went down again...how many things do we see every day and do nothing about? The SOPA and Komen uprisings of the past few weeks took very little for people to do: Facebook and Twitter posts, a few phone calls, some checks. One-time deals, for a lot of us, and in a lot of ways an abstraction. There was no immediate threat to our internet access, no woman with a breast lump asking us what to do since Planned Parenthood was her sole option for a mammogram. How many of us stand up and really rail at what the right is doing on their march to take America back to the 1850's? How many would say something when a parent is beating a child?
There are a few other things in the story. The original post from the person who stood up is here. Turns out that the mother, and all the other riders, were black and the author was white. You can use the links in the post to see that a lot of people thought the author did the wrong thing: that he is a racist, and that had the parent hitting the child was white, the situation would have been different.
EEWWW....Is this really a racist thing? I read the comments and wondered if people thought it was somehow okay to hit black children but not white children. I read about the "kindness cure" and wondered...had the author picked up the girl, how many people would have accused him of kidnapping, or pedophilia, or something in that vein?
The whole societal, and political, issue to me has to do with standing up. If you're a long time reader, you know that I believe it is incumbent on decent people to stand up. Both in individual direct situations, and in the overall political realm. The sole time I was in a situation where there was a child in immediate danger I saw a father punch his boy in the face and send him into the canned goods on the supermarket shelf. Without thinking, I attached the boy to my leg (he came up to my knee), covered him with my coat, and told the father (who was twice my size) that he would have to hit me before he hit the boy again. The mother, who was pushing the cart with another child in the seat, started screaming that I was trying to kidnap her son. Things got loud, people came, police came, and then they watched the films from the security cameras. They were white people, but I live in an integrated neighborhood, and we all shop in the same supermarkets. I would have done the same thing had that child been black, or purple, or anything - to me, he was just a little boy with a fist impression on his face.
But I fear there is truth in the idea that as a society, most of us are holed up in our houses, interacting through social media, and less involved in "the neighborhood" than we were a generation ago. I heard a pundit refer to Americans as "the silenced majority" as opposed to the silent majority - the idea being that even if we do things, media has so much power that our actions are kept silent from our fellow Americans. I don't know whether we are silent or silenced, but I'm leaning toward "both of the above" and we need to start thinking about changing that. But maybe you feel differently....
London has been burning all week, and it's crossed my mind that American cities could burn, too. My first guess would be Camden, NJ, followed the next week by Philadelphia. Conditions are ripe, especially for Camden.
Whenever cities burn, there is a match that lights. In London this year it was the police killing of Mark Duggan, but there always has to be something ready to burn. It appears that this time, as is often the case, it's too much poverty, a community sense of desperation, and too many people with too much time on their hands. In London, and in Philadelphia, there is also the issue of very young people (age 11 is the number in both places) going out on rampages. Riots and fires in London, flash mobs of kids who beat people in Philadelphia.
In Camden, there have been riots before. You could say that while the last actual riots were in 1971, they started in 1967 and smoldered until the city burned in 1971, leading to the final fleeing of Camden's middle class, and white population, out of the city. Today, Camden is an incredibly poor and crime-ridden place. It looks across the river directly at Philadelphia. Assorted sets of statistics place it differently, but normally Camden is considered the most dangerous city in America, or sometimes number 2, and most always in the top 10. These are the 2009 poverty data, and things haven't improved. 36% of the population (and over 50% of all kids) live below the poverty line. Schools are abysmal, and a lot of elected officials end up in jail for extortion, theft, and other crimes against their own city. On top of this, New Jersey has Chris Christie, who has done his level best to make sure that as few pennies as possible end up in Camden's coffers. Especially sad since there is virtually no local tax base.
In January, the Camden police force was cut by half, and the fire department by a third. It has not been pretty. Props to the laid off firemen who actually still show up at the most severe fires just to help. Now, Republican politicians are working to completely dismantle the Camden police force, and replace it with a countywide police department. Some percentage of the county force would be reserved for current Camden cops, who would have to apply. But the force would be deployed countywide. The Camden city government has signed on to this program, since they have virtually no money. The cops are against it. The contention is that local police know what people from the outside do not. And they're right: there is a reason that community policing works as well as it does.
John Timoney has been hired to oversee the police transition. You may remember him from his time in NY, or Miami. I remember him from his time in Philadelphia, especially during the Republican convention in 2000 when he did his best Frank Rizzo imitation and arrested people left and right and stuck them in the Armory. If you don't get the connection, Frank Rizzo was, amoung other things, a Philadelphia cop from the 1940's to the early 1970's, eventually becoming commissioner. In the early 60's he said that he could take a bunch of Philly cops, go down to Cuba and take out Castro. Most people believed he could. He later became mayor of Philadelphia.
Could Camden burn? Absolutely. With a tiny force of cops who know the city, abject poverty, no industry, a non-functional school system, the only choice Timoney will have (and he'll like it, he's practiced in Philadelphia) is thug policing. Which never works for long. It will only take one cop, one misstep, and Camden will destroy the little that is left of it. And Philly will see the flames across the river.
For the past few months, Philly has been plagued with flash mobs: groups of kids who roam the streets of Center City areas popular with tourists and locals for dining, shows, and shopping. They organize via phone, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
That photo is taken looking east on South Street, just about a block off Broad Street. South Street is considered the Greenwich Village of Philadelphia, the part of Broad the crowd is approaching is a few blocks south of the part renamed Avenue of the Arts. A few blocks up on Broad is City Hall. East and west of City Hall are big restaurant and shopping areas.
The flash mobs have attacked, robbed and beaten people walking on the street and eating at outdoor cafes. Last night, a curfew went into place, preventing anyone under the age of 18 from being in the Center City/Avenue of the Arts/South Street areas after 9 pm. The fine is $300 to the teen, and $500 to the parent if the kid gets caught twice. Kids can still be out in other areas of the city, like where peaceable kids are playing b-ball outside, or just hanging out. Kids with virtually no parental supervision, little money, a lack of education and nothing but time can get into trouble anywhere.
The politics of cities on the edge is a direct result of the rise of the right wing. They would say, with a gasp, that it's not their fault, their children are perfect. These children are just hooligans, they'd say. But the wacko right policies of decreased safety net, education, health care, and community development funds are as much a part of this as the poverty of the parents who cannot find jobs in this economy.
It's terribly sad when cities burn. It often takes a long time for those pockets to return to normalcy. Riots and burning cities don't happen when people have enough to eat and productive things to do. The only hope for Philadelphia is Mayor Michael Nutter. He's done an incredible job, given Philadelphia's economic situation, to do the best for schools, libraries and public pools. And still....
Over in Camden, I don't know what will prevent the explosion. Industry and business have virtually all left. There's a large hospital, an aquarium and a concert venue. Campbell's Soup used to be the largest employer: they built a plant in the 1880's, and for decades all the condensed soup came from Camden. A lot of good jobs. While the headquarters is still there, a lot of the manufacturing has been moved away, along with the jobs. The latest cuts, this time to hq, came in June. The plant was destroyed about 20 years, and the space taken over by GE Aerospace which is still there, but not with jobs for Camden residents.
Obama has his polling problems. In Pennsylvania, his approval rating has fallen to 46/48, his approval amoung Democrats is below the national average and PPP says:
Obama's poll numbers are worse in Pennsylvania than they are in places like Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and New Mexico, all states that went Republican in 2004 even as Pennsylvania voted Democratic. The President's persistently poor numbers in a state that's gone Democratic in every Presidential election for the last 24 years probably make Pennsylvania the place where Obama should be most concerned about his current standing.
PPP goes on to attribute Obama's problem to Hillary Democrats. PPP also has bad news for Obama in North Carolina. Florida, even with Rick Scott, is not any more friendly.
There is something more concerning about Pennsylvania than the polling numbers, though, and that's the dollar numbers. First, let's look at the 2008 vote totals by county:
Philadelphia is actually the little blue area where the last "a" in "Philadelphia" is located. The big blue area to the left is Delaware County, To the left of Delaware County is Chester County, Above that, the dard blue is Montgomery County, and the light blue on the right is Bucks County. This is what gave Obama his win of the state with 54.7% of the vote, with, yes, an assist to the north, plus Pittsburgh, Erie and State College.
Let's look at the money raised in 2008: (data from Open Secrets, all numbers rounded)
Totals 2008, Pennsylvania, $25.3 million collected statewide:
Obama $ 11.4 million McCain $ 4.6 million Clinton $ 4.3 million Giuliani $1 .3 million Biden $ 950,000 Romney $ 650,000
Overall for the Philadelphia Region (the counties cited above, plus the counties of Gloucester, Camden and Burlington in Southern NJ):
Obama $ 8.5 million McCain $ 2.7 million
While other candidates received funding (for example, Romeny received $ 476,000) if you look at the ratio of Obama to McCain money, it's about 76% to 24%.
In the top 4 zip codes, these were the Obama/McCain splits:
The Philadelphia Inquirer (17 July 2011, p. A3) took a look at the 2011 Q2 money in the Philadelphia area. (The counties above from PA and NJ.) Overall, Obama collected $ 227,190 and Romney collected $ 204,000. An additional $ 125,000 was taken in, in descending order by Santorum (PA only, he didn't get a dime in south Jersey), Paul, Pawlenty, Gingrich, Cain, Bachman and Johnson. The split here is 53%/47%, Obama to Romney. That's a little concerning.
Also of concern is the money collected in the top ten zip codes. The data is arranged from most to least money, and identical zip codes are highlighted. All cities/town in Pennsylvania unless otherwise noted.
If you do the math, you'll find out that Romney collected $ 117,150 and Obama collected $ 85,193. Now admittedly, Obama tends to raise money from smaller donors, while Romney collects from larger donors. Thus, it's very likely that more humans (and ergo voters) donated to Obama than Romney. Further, it's early and the economy is in a completely different solar system than it was in 2007. But there are these two things...
The two most concerning zips to me are 19103 and 19087. 19103 (map) is part of Center City, and there is a concentration of über rich there, which can account for the relatively large Mittens draw. But it's also a very young area, with the largest proportion of residents being between 25 and 30 years old. (Source) Like I said, concerning.
And then there's Wayne. Zip code 19087 has an interesting history. It, along with zip code 19335 had their geographic areas defined well BEFORE zip codes were designated in the 1960's, by two very enterprising Postmasters. It used to be that the Postmasters were paid based on how many people received mail. These guys took HUGE land areas, back when properties were large, even though the population wasn't there. Currently, 19087 is in three counties (Chester, Delaware and Montgomery). It's rich. It's educated. Data here. Most of all, though, it was an Obama stronghold in 2008. Again, like I said, concerning.
The Philadelphia mayoral primary will be held with the other Pennsylvania primaries: polls open at 6 a.m. on 17 May 2011. While it won't have the star power the recent Chicago mayoral primary did, Philadelphia has never been a slouch when it came to incredibly fun mayoral primaries. (The generals are rarely exciting, since the Democrat will win.)
So first, a little history. Currently, the mayor is Michael Nutter. Mayor Nutter is a good guy. A smart guy. A guy who has done a lot in very trying times. Perfect? No. But he deserves a lot of credit for what he has accomplished in his first term. Before Nutter was mayor, a guy named John Street was mayor. While he was mayor, this being Philadelphia, there was an FBI investigation, a probably illegal wire tap in the mayor's office, indictments, death of one co-conspirator, and various convictions for racketeering, corruption, and the usual slew of truth charges. John Street was preceded by America's Mayor: Ed Rendell, a true character. He in turn was preceded by Wilson Goode, the only American mayor to ever drop a bomb on his own city. (No joke - he took out a city block.)
So, John Street has a brother. Milton. Originally a hot dog vendor, he was also elected as a Democrat to the state Assembly, and to the State Senate as a Democrat, although he switched parties to be a Republican. He was convicted of corruption and tax evasion, and served several years in prison. Note that his address until 2010 was Kentucky. That would be, um, Federal prison in Kentucky. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, get a good luck at Milton. The picture does his personality justice.
Milton Street has decided to run against Michael Nutter in the mayoral primary. Nutter filed a court challenge, since a candidate has to maintain a Philly residence for three years to run for office. Milton's address when he was arrested was in Jersey. And then there was the Kentucky address. However, the ruling was since he had always maintained a Philadelphia address on his voter registration form, that was enough for the judge. Again, I am not making this up.
Now, Milton doesn't have a website up yet, but this is a guy who argued at his tax evasion trial that he didn't need to pay taxes because the IRS had no legal right to levy taxes, so you can imagine what his website will say. On the other hand, Mike Nutter is for real, and can run on a legitimate record of accomplishments, as opposed to a felony record.
But this is Philadelphia, so you never know.
In related Philly news, Marge Tartaglione is running for City Council. Again. You can read all about it here. Cliff Notes version from the linked article:
Margaret Tartaglione is 78 years old; she's recovering from a recent heart bypass; she took a $288,000 payment from the hated DROP program; her daughter, who is her closest aide, was just forced to resign for illegal politicking; now she's running for re-election. You got a problem with that?
Yup, some days, the pictures make it all worthwhile...
I'm always glad to leave Philadelphia. From any geographic point in the city, I know the quickest way to the nearest border, and usually two or three alternates in case of traffic. There are a few things I do love about the city, like the Constitution Center, Whole Foods and Harry's on South Street, and a few delightful restaurants. I am also happy to use the airport. But mostly, I consider Philadelphia a second rate city, with little going for it besides the remnants of an auspicious history.
And now there is another reason: if I move into Philadelphia (there's a better chance I'd stick pins in my eyes) I would get to pay a tax for blogging. No joke. It's actually a "business privilege tax" which is now going to be applied to any bloggers who make ANY money on blogging.
Trust me, it's rare to get rich on blogging. If your blog runs ads, you might make a few dollars. But not as much as the tax, which is $50/year, or $300/lifetime. And in real terms, it won't get paid since the only way Philadelphia has to track down bloggers is to use IRS records, meaning bloggers who earned more than $400/year from a single source on a 1099.
The problem is not with taxes per se, I'm a supporter of local taxes. I like paying for schools and roads and police and streetlights. I believe that it makes sense to have things like property taxes, and progressive income taxes and use taxes. But blogging is writing. It uses no municipal services. It is, in most cases, no different than writing a letter or an email or using social media. Blogging is a First Amendment right. And there should be no tax on speaking, or writing, one's mind.
It's shameful. And be warned: if you've got a lemonade stand, or are planning a garage sale, you're in their sights, too.
Several news sources have stated that an announcement of the finalists for the 2012 DNC would come toward the end of June. It's hard to believe but we're a little over a week away from July.
Since there hasn't been a lot of information coming in on the Democratic side here's a refresher of which cities we know are in the running. The cities are listed in the order I think they stand.
St. Louis - Central location and great facilities. Dems almost won Missouri in 2008.
Minneapolis - What better way to cleanse the palate from 2008 than to have the Democratic Convention in the Twin Cities. The new Twins ballpark directly behind the Target Center would be a great place for a Thursday night speech.
Charlotte - Has been offered help from Boston and would be in the heart of the South.
Cleveland - not a lot of info here.
Phoenix - short of a protest of the draconian immigration laws and overall ridiculous nature of the state government I don't see it happening.
Philadelphia is out of the running after Mayor Michael Nutter sent the following letter to DNC Chairman Tim Kaine:
Mayor Nutter cites economic concerns but says they're ready to bid for the 2016 convention.
Charlotte, St Louis and Minneapolis are the cities that we know have submitted a bid. We haven't heard whether Phoenix and Cleveland have submitted their bids. The deadline was last week. You can read all of our stories about the 2012 Democratic National Convention here.
This morning @Jack, who is the founder of Twitter and a St Louis native tweeted the following:
St. Louis has submitted its bid for the 2012 Democratic National Convention! Let's make this happen! Follow @STLDNC2012.
And the St Louis Host Committee confirms it on their Facebook page:
STL DNC 2012 Our Bid is In! Notice of our bid submission was tweeted by @Jack Dorsey- St. Louis native & Twitter founder.
News of another bid that came out of left field is Minneapolis. This is the first we've heard about their bid and we're kind of obsessive about this stuff if you couldn't tell.
Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and visitors bureau, is making a bid to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention, which is scheduled to begin on Sept. 3 of that year. The organization began working with city officials on its proposal in January.
"It would generate a tremendous amount of business for the city, and we feel this would continue to raise our national profile and open the door for us to get consideration for other major events," Meet Minneapolis President and CEO Melvin Tennant said.
Minneapolis' new Target Field is the home of the Minnesota Twins and would make for a great location for an acceptance speech. What's even better is that it's right behind the Target Center where the convention would be held.
The deadline for bids is today so stay tuned as we wait to hear from Charlotte, Cleveland, Philly, Phoenix and any other cities we haven't heard from.
Philadelphia's bid for the 2012 Democratic Convention had been so quiet, DCW assumed it wasn't happening at all. We were wrong:
The DNC Chairman, the Mayor and myself all want this to happen," explained Rep. Bob Brady, in reference to hosting the Democratic 2012 Convention in Philadelphia, which the city, Brady went on to say, "will need $50 million up front for if they want to host it here."
"The President [Obama] and [Vice President] Biden have both said they will help raise money if it is hosted here," added Brady.
When addressing this cost, which could seem insurmountable to the currently cash-strapped city, Brady first referenced the Republican Convention that Philadelphia hosted in 2000. "Every restaurant and hotel in the area was booked," said Brady, implying that any investors in the 2012 Convention would not only make their money back, but would make a substantial profit to boot. To illustrate the city’s potential for immense profits should the Democratic Convention be hosted here, Brady then explained that The Union League makes $120,000 on New Year’s Day alone as a result of the Mummers Parade.
One CCPA member wondered aloud why the decision is being delayed, if the city will make so much money.
"We’re still negotiating. It seems to be a no-brainer," replied Brady, going on to add that every time the committee has missed a deadline, the DNC has called with a reminder. To Brady, this must indicate that the DNC would like the Convention hosted in Philadelphia, as opposed to Pittsburgh or Dallas, because if he were on an appropriations committee negotiating several bids and one of them dropped out, he would conclude, "that’s less work for me."
Let's start in Philadelphia where Mayor Nutter is proposing, as part of his plan to improve the dire financial situation in the City, two new taxes. The first is an annual per household charge of $300 to pick up the garbage. (Each and every one of you over a certain age should have read "pick up the garbage" hearing Arlo Guthrie's voice in your head.) Also a 2 cent per ounce tax on sugary sodas. The garbage tax is a minor slope: most people pay to have their garbage picked up. The problem in Philadelphia is that they haven't looked at what it actually costs to pick up the garbage as opposed to privatizing the service. The real issue is the soda tax. Most people are up in arms about it being two cents per ounce. To give you an idea of what that means, a two litre bottle costs about a dollar (on sale), and has about 67 ounces in it, making the total cost $2.67, or almost three times the cost. I don't have a problem with that per se: the slippery slope theory has said all along that once you start taxing cigarettes and liquor outrageously, they'd start taxing everything else in bits and pieces. So, now we're on to soda. Next up will be potato chips and cookies and then meat....it won't stop.
The bigger problem is that for some reason people think that "soda" is appreciably worse than those 10% fruit drinks which have the same amount of added sugar, and are only missing the carbon dioxide, phosphoric acid and caffeine. Or worse than the diet soda, the fake sugars of which cause all sorts of direct organ problems. Or the other empty calories in the chips, cookies, and other junk food. Not to mention the fat content of hamburgers and hot dogs....it seems unfair to single out soda, but hey, you could see this one coming years ago.
Now, let's switch to Texas. I've been writing about the discussion there over history vs. religion for months and months. Finally, the Board voted, and it looks like Jefferson didn't make the cut. That's right, THOMAS Jefferson. Voting along party lines, 10 - 5, he doesn't make the history books, although Joe McCarthy does, as a hero. They also won't be allowing the separation of Church and State in their textbooks, plus all the other things we've been concerned about all this time. Think it doesn't matter? The State of Texas buys more textbooks than anyone else, and it's unlikely that the publishers will want several versions of the same books. The slippery slope here is that if other school boards agree to purchase these books, eventually history is revised to the point that it's only the Bible. Think that's hyperbole? Just wait and watch.
The goal of the Texas Board of Ed is to remove anything NOT related to the New Testament from school books. It's not just that they'll get history factually incorrect, this is an end run against teaching pure creationism in the schools.
Often, there's not much to do, but this time there is. If you have a child in a local school, or even pay taxes which go to support schools, say, um, property tax, contact your neighbors and other parents, and the teachers and the school board. Public comments will be taken over the next several months. Send in your comments saying that you won't pay taxes that go to Texas-compliant text books. Get the school boards to say they won't buy them. Send copies to all the publishers.
I'll add the addresses later today.....a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and a child's mind subject to propaganda and lies and then scrambled into pablum is even worse.
You read DCW because you love politics. We all love politics, and I want to point out that I often look like a deer in headlights when I meet someone who doesn't love politics, who is actually oblivious to the whole thing. I get the same look on my face when someone tells me he/she doesn't like chocolate. It just doesn't compute.
But the upshot of politics is that we get the government we elect, and the government appointees chosen by the elected, and thesystemthese folks build. And there were have the intersection with our daily lives.
Beginning yesterday, and continuing for most of this week,The Philadelphia Inquireris presenting a series on crime in the city of Philadelphia. Here is an excerpt from the first editorial (13 December, page C4):
Among the nation's 10 largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest rates of homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- plus one of the worst conviction rates.
A review of 31,000 cases filed from 2006 - 2008 found that only about 20 percent of the violent crimes ended in felony convictions. The violent crime rate in other big cities is about 50%.
It's actually worse than that, since the Inky's review included in conviction rates when someone was convicted on a lesser charge. On the front page, the paper points out that 2 in 3 people accused of violent crime walk free on ALL charges, and only 1 in 10 defendants in gun-assault cases is found guilty of that charge.
The day after Thanksgiving, I put up a piece on parking, and some people felt that overstaying parking meters was a crime, a bad thing, and should be prosecuted to the fullest. I understand their point, but there is something incredibly unsettling to me that there is so much more success in ticketing people who spend an extra 5 minutes at a parking space than people who rape, rob and kill. If you are arrested for aggravated assault, robbery, rape or murder in Philadelphia, you have a 15% chance of being convicted of that charge. FIFTEEN PERCENT! It's not even that they were found innocent: of the 10,000 defendants who walked free, only 8% were found innocent: for the rest, their cases were dropped or dismissed.
The rate of these crimes dwarfs all other large cities in America. Per 100,000 residents, there were 1,441 violent crimes. In Chicago, it was 1,260, in Houston, 1,107. All the other large cities were well below 1,000 crimes per 100,000, the lowest being San Jose with 385 violent crimes per 100,000.
There are a lot of reasons for this: one of the biggest is that the system for setting court dates isn't computerized. This means that an arresting officer can be subpoenaed to be in two courts, in different buildings, at the same time. Per the Inky analysis: "On peak days, one of seven Philadelphia police officers is subpoenaed to appear in a courtroom for trial." That not only means fewer officers on the street, but also that accused criminals go free because the officer cannot be in two places at once, and therefore the case ends up dismissed.
And that's only the people who show up. Consider that in 2006 and 2007, the total number of cases filed for violent crime was 18,131. Want to guess how many fugitives there are on the street from those case, plus those in 2008 and 2009? 47,000. Yup - most people just ignore the charges and go back to a life of crime. It appears, per the court, that there is $1 billion (yes, with a "B") in forfeited bail. Think they'll get caught? Unlikely as there are only 51 officers charged with finding them. That's 900 fugitives per officer.
There is also a terrible problem with witness intimidation. A minimum of 400 people a year are charged with witness intimidation, and 13 people have been killed for being a witness to a crime.
The courts are obviously overcrowded. Many years ago, Philadelphia was told that its jails were too overcrowded, and they started downgrading crimes so that people could more easily be bailed out. More than a decade ago, the crime of rape was routinely reported as a misdemeanor.
Philadelphia is currently the 5th largest city in the country. It had been 4th until the 2000 census when it was overtaken by Phoenix. Based on the exodus from Phoenix, and new numbers indicating a rise in Philadelphia population, it's likely that it will regain the "4th largest" designation in the 2010 census. What does it say about so large a city when its residents have more than a 1 in 100 chance of being the victim of a violent crime? What does it say about a government that cannot protect its citizens?
It appears from the Inky's data that there is not so much a problem with arrests, but rather that the court system is in such disarray that the system is gamed more than it is used properly. The City itself is broke, and there is no place to pull money from to improve the court system. If you park illegally in Philadelphia, there is a huge probability that you'll get a ticket. There is a 100% chance that if you don't pay that ticket, the PPA will come after you. A few infractions and they WILL boot your car. So people routinely pay their tickets, or don't come to Philadelphia, or park in high-cost lots. Meanwhile, if you rape, rob, shoot...your chances of getting arrested are reasonably good, but your chance of ever getting convicted is incredibly low at 15%. There is something inherently wrong in all this.