It was soaring rhetoric, but can it fly in the real world — you know, the world where congressional Republicans say no to everything?
It was soaring rhetoric, but can it fly in the real world — you know, the world where congressional Republicans say no to everything?Supporters and even some of his numerous enemies agree that the United States’ first biracial president gave a great speech at his second inauguration on Monday, but did Barack Obama make the very best of it? Not for people who want real gun control.While Mr. Obama said many of the right things, he declined to seize the moment by exploiting the most powerful bully pulpit in the free world to put gun control at the top of the to-do list.If he’s waiting until the State of the Union address on Feb. 12 — the birthday of his hero Abraham Lincoln — to formally renew his call for gun control, Mr. Obama is making a big mistake.Pundits agree that he has only about a year in which to get major legislation passed, so the guy needs to kick some butt. He should call out lawmakers in Congress — Republicans AND Democrats who are petrified of the National Rifle Association — and gun nuts who want no restrictions on weapons.Mr. Obama needs to spend his political capital, left over from a big re-election victory, and expend the intestinal fortitude necessary to get military-style assault weapons out of the hands of the general public, end the insane and insidious loopholes that allow visitors at gun shows to purchase weapons on the spot and with no background checks, and institute a federal registry of all weapons.These common-sense measures and others, which would have been enacted long ago were it not for a plethora of cowards in Congress, will help to prevent another Newtown, Conn.-type of slaughter of innocent life.Send letters to the editor to: email@example.com
Beware, dear long-suffering property owners in Philadelphia, the city taxman is coming to get you. Well, some of you, anyway.As you may have noticed from this week’s Page 1 story, the days of reckoning for city officials and residents alike are fast approaching. A massive, citywide reassessment of property values is nearly complete.Mayor Michael “The Reformer” Nutter and City Council are going to have to work with state lawmakers in Harrisburg to cushion what is likely to be a huge blow to residents in up-and-coming neighborhoods whose property values have soared since the city last undertook an accurate survey of the worth of homes and businesses in the City of Brotherly Love. The last such survey was conducted seemingly when Ben Franklin was in diapers.Gentle readers, anybody who tries to tell you the city can’t afford to give a break to property owners who face a doubling or tripling of their tax bill is lying. The city treasury is not exactly swimming in cash, but the city’s financial straits are not as dire as Mr. Nutter would have you believe.When the city cuts all of its fat, waste and inefficiency and tackles the underproductivity of many of the folks who “work” in City Hall, the Municipal Services Building and other city offices — when Mr. Nutter finally gets around to collecting the hundreds of millions of dollars in delinquent taxes from local and out-of-state deadbeats, and when the mayor and Council finally get around to slicing the city bureaucracy, including a few at-large Council seats — then, and only then, should the city be audacious enough to ask denizens of Philadelphia to pay more. Until then, City Hall, put up or shut up.Send letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: When is a contract not a contract?Answer: When Mayor Michael Nutter doesn’t like it.Members of the city firefighters union, Local 22, were supposed to get a new contract following binding arbitration in 2010, but Philadelphia’s mayor has thus far refused to honor the new deal. His reason, that the city can’t afford the new contract, is a poor excuse and just doesn’t hold water. The city can find ways — i.e., by trimming its fiscal fat — to pay the firefighters what they deserve. In fact, the city can’t afford not to pay them more.While firefighter demonstrators were a bit rude when they heckled the mayor at Tuesday morning’s grand opening of a state-of-the-art firehouse in Tacony, their anger is understandable. They’re taking Mr. Nutter’s nasty attitude personally, as well they should. After all, these brave men and women put their lives on the line every day.Considering that so many of them call Northeast Philly home, every single person who lives or works in the Northeast should bombard Mayor Nutter’s office with phone calls, letters and e-mails instructing the city’s top leader to stop appealing the contact in court and make it happen for Local 22. Without our firefighters, the City of Brotherly Love would become the City of Smothered Love.Even Mr. Nutter’s fellow Democratic politicians are urging the mayor to stop sticking it to the firefighters.“It’s wrong and the mayor’s continuous efforts to fight the contract award must end,” said state Sen. Mike Stack.“The more time that goes by,” said state Sen. Tina Tartaglione, “the harder it will be to restore the trust between these dedicated professionals and the city administration.”Send letters to the editor to: email@example.com
It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year. Yes, gentle readers, it’s time to reveal what we think are (or should be) the new year’s resolutions of our local and national celebrities. Here are a few:Mayor Michael Nutter: I will abandon all efforts to raise property taxes until the city collects every dollar owed by tax deadbeats.Councilwoman Marian Tasco: I resolve to return to the city treasury the $478,000 in the fake-retirement DROP money I collected a year ago.Teva pharmaceutical company: We resolve to change our minds yet again and build our huge plant at the old Budd company in Somerton.Gov. Tom Corbett: I promise not to lose any sleep worrying that Allyson Schwartz will beat me in 2014.New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie: I will lose a few hundred pounds in my quest to become physically fit so I can fill the White House in four years.Soon-to-be ex-Eagles head coach Andy Reid: I will lose a hundred pounds before I take the helm of another team.Eagles owner Jeff Lurie: I will apologize to everyone who loves Man’s Best Friend for bringing Michael Vick to Philadelphia.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: I will resign in disgrace after blocking much of President Obama’s agenda but failing to block his re-election.Willard Mitt Romney: I resolve to shock the tea party by admitting that I am a moderate at heart. Newton Leroy Gingrich: I resolve to remain faithful to Callista.William Jefferson Clinton: I resolve to remain faithful to whatshername.Lindsay Lohan: I will stay out of trouble and stay out of the limelight.
If the cold-blooded slaughter on Friday of 20 innocent, darling, precious little schoolchildren in Connecticut has not made you a little less cheerful or caused you to shed some tears this holiday season, you cannot possibly have a heart.As folks throughout the nation continue to grieve with the families of the murdered little boys and girls and seven adults who were cut down by a madman with weapons, a glimmer of hope seems to be rising from America’s crushed heart.It’s the stark realization that this atrocity can, must and will be different from all of the others before it and will be the catalyst for authentic action in Washington, D.C. and state capitals throughout America.“We must come together to move our nation towards common sense, responsible gun laws — laws that recognize the responsibility of gun ownership, and ensure safety and security in our homes, schools, communities, and public spaces,” congresswoman Allyson Schwartz told her colleagues on the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday. Amen!In a statement on Tuesday, the National Rifle Association of America claimed to be “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by the massacre and said it was prepared to offer “meaningful contributions” to prevent similar attacks.Now it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for the NRA and the plethora of politicians in Congress and state legislatures who are in the NRA’s back pocket.Are they going to support the status quo, or are they going to enact real gun control — beginning with banning the sale of assault rifles to the general public?In other words, will the gun nuts and the politicians try to do business as usual, or will they be Americans?Send letters to the editor to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The average citizen likely will feel little comfort from the firings of three employees of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole who supposedly were indirectly responsible for the murder of yet another Philadelphia police officer — but at least the firings are a start.This holiday season will be unlike every one before it for the family of slain Police Officer Moses Walker, who was gunned down in August as he walked to a bus stop after finishing his shift at the 22nd district in North Philadelphia.Rafael Jones, the 23-year-old man charged with the officer’s murder during a botched robbery, has a long criminal record and was supposed to have been under electronic monitoring following his release from prison on an unrelated gun charge, but he was not.“If people had done their jobs, we would not be here on this day,” John McNesby, head of the local police officers union, testified at a public hearing last week in the Northeast — home to so many of Philly’s Finest. The hearing was convened by state Rep. Brendan Boyle, who along with others, deserves credit for trying to get to the bottom of what went so terribly wrong with the parole system.The hearing, at MaST Charter School, was set up by the House Democratic Policy Committee, but it should be the first step in a mission to reform the way Pennsylvania does parole and probation.In addition to firing any and all people who had any part in allowing Jones to go free, authorities should also prosecute them, if necessary, after a full investigation. The results of the probe must be made public and the state legislature must take swift action to tighten the requirements for parole and crack down on liberal judges.Send letters to: email@example.com
Pity the poor soul who is not politically connected or doesn’t have a cousin who works at Phildelphia’s Traffic Court. If he’s stopped by a cop for a moving violation, he has two choices. He can take a half-day off of work and fight the ticket or he can send in his fine. But if he’s “connected,” he has a very good chance of getting his ticket thrown out, or his violation reduced. In some cases, he might be found not guilty without even having to show up in court. This “two-track system” of justice is described in scathing detail in the interim Chadwick report released publicly on Nov. 19. It’s based on interviews with court employees and Traffic Court judges. One employee even argued that the system was fair because every violator had access to preferential treatment if only he was “savvy enough to ask his elected ward leaders for help.”Thankfully, an FBI raid in September 2011 and this report have blown the whistle on this nefarious activity.What has gone on at Traffic Court is patently unfair to people who try to do the right thing by owning up to their misconduct on the road. It is wrong because it demeans the work of patrol officers who issue tickets because they are trying to keep the streets safe. And, it is wrong because it denies the city and state thousands — if not millions — of dollars.Judges who are sworn into office in Traffic Court swear they will uphold the law and discharge their duties “with fidelity.” What part of faithfulness did they think applied only some of the time?Judge Gary S. Glazer, who has been appointed to clean up this mess, has a good bead on where we need to end up. “We are trying to make a system of justice that’s fair for everybody,” he said.That seems to be Job 1 for every court in the land. It’s time for significant structural change to Traffic Court or the system of secret requests will return as soon as the spotlight is turned off.Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanksgiving is the time for togetherness, peace and good will. It’s the perfect time for us to count our blessings.What might our local and national movers and shakers share with their families and friends as they prepare to dig in to their turkeys on Thursday? Here are our best guesses:Big Bird: I’m thankful that Mitt Romney lost to Barack Obama.Barack Obama: I’m thankful that Mitt Romney is Mitt Romney.Mitt Romney: I’m thankful that Ann and I and our boys have tens of millions of dollars as a consolation prize.Karl Rove: I’m not thankful for anything.Hillary Clinton: I’m thankful that I’m getting the heck out of Dodge.Bill Clinton: I’m thankful that Hillary’s going to keep an eye on me while we plot our return to the White House in four years.Chris Christie: I’m thankful for all this food.Andy Reid: I’m thankful that the Eagles’ birdbrains have kept me as coach merely because they love to lose.Hostess Brands corporate executives: We’re thankful that we got our humongous bonuses before we decided to shut our business.Michael Nutter: I’m thankful that I made it through another year running a city whose voters love to keep the same party in power, decade after decade after decade.Any Republican who’s thinking of running for mayor of Philadelphia: I’m thankful to have a day job to fall back on because I know I have no prayer of getting elected mayor.Al Taubenberger: I’m thankful that after losing races for Congress, mayor, City Council and state representative, I finally realize it’s time to stop running for public office.Send letters to: email@example.com
Once upon a time, Northeast Philadelphia was home not only to lots of cops and firefighters, but a good number of Republican officeholders, too. Ah, the good old days.In the wake of last week’s huge election, two things are perfectly clear: One is that President Obama proved to be very popular in the Northeast, capturing 68 percent of the Northeast wards en route to winning the entire city with 85 percent of the vote.The other lesson from Election Day is that something is wrong with whatever is left of the Philadelphia Republican Party. Aside from three key positions guaranteed to the Republicans by the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter — two at-large seats on City Council and a lone seat on the city Election Commission — Far Northeast Councilman Brian O’Neill and lower Northeast state Rep. John Taylor are the Republican Party’s only bright spots. Both men are capable public servants, but why on earth are they two of just a handful of Republicans holding high office in the city?Not too long ago, Northeast Philadelphia had a healthy chunk of Republicans joining Rep. Taylor in Harrisburg — state Sen. Hank Salvatore and state Reps. George Kenney, John Perzel, Chris Wogan and Dennis O’Brien (who now sits in one of the guaranteed at-large Council seats). Their electoral success reflected a tendency of Northeast voters to split their tickets every election day. That healthy streak of independence was great for democracy.There are plenty of issues that contrast Republicans and Democrats, but the city’s Republican leaders can’t seem to capitalize on them. Perhaps the keys to the party success will flow with some new blood.Send letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org