Archive: December, 2009
I'll make it quick. I've got an interview with the mayor, and I thought in the interest of democracy, open-source journalism, and the general welfare of the Good and True People of Philadelphia that I'd open it up to you readers.
What would you ask the mayor? If possible, try to keep it less-angry-screed-like and more genuine-question-that-you-want-answered-like.
No promises, of course, but put 'em below in the comments and I'll see if I can't work some of them into the interview.
|PHOTO | MOOCATMOOCAT|
|PHOTO | EDDIE HALES|
So here at the Clog home office, we spent much of the day shoveling (to keep ahead of the game), salting, shoveling and salting. Then we waddled to the subway and headed to the Wachovia Center to catch the almost awesome Sixers/Clippers game (and honestly, I don't see anything conclusive in that replay that suggests that AI2 didn't get the would-be-game-winning final shot in regulation off). Before we got to the game, however, we had to trudge to the Holiday Inn at Ninth and Packer to pick up our tickets from StubHub, a walk that on a normal day would have felt a little long but which yesterday felt like a scene from The Road (though I suspect that during the apocalypse they wouldn't bother dispatching half the city's snow plows to clear the Linc parking lot).
How'd you spend your Blizzard Day?
Got any good snow pics? Upload them to the CP Photostream and we'll post the best on the Clog this week
If someone gets me a gift which I don't want or alrady have and so I decide to return/exchange it... what's the proper thing to do? Tell them?
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Office of the Managing Director
For Immediate Release: December 19, 2009
Winter Weather Advisory
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Mayor Michael A. Nutter reminds residents that a Snow Emergency was declared at 9:00 a.m. today, which means all vehicles parked on Snow Emergency Routes must be moved to an alternate parking location. Any vehicle remaining on a Snow Emergency Route during the declared Snow Emergency will be ticketed and towed. A list of snow emergency routes can be found at www.phila.gov/streets.
In response to this Snow Emergency, the Managing Director's Office of Emergency Management activated the City's Emergency Operations Center on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. Agencies in the Emergency Operations Center include: Philadelphia Police Department, Fire Department, Streets Department, Licenses and Inspections, Philly 3-1-1, Philadelphia Water Department, Philadelphia Gas Works, Office of Fleet Management, Office of Support Housing, Fairmount Park Commission, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia Parking Authority, Salvation Army, and the Delaware Valley Health Council.
The Streets Department crews began applying a brine solution to area roadways yesterday. Salt crews and equipment have been deployed throughout the City to respond to the precipitation. Crews will remain on duty to monitor roadways and to respond to problem locations and emergencies.
"Streets Department crews will be out in force to remove snow in a timely manner. We remind Philadelphians that cars parked illegally and the illegal plowing of snow from private lots on to public streets will hinder our ability to clear roads, especially around some of the smaller streets in South Philadelphia," said Streets Commissioner Tolson. "We request the cooperation of residents to help us make our snow removal efforts effective."
Streets Commissioner Tolson urges residents to follow these tips:
- Clear a sidewalk path at least 30" wide within 6 hours of the end of the storm as listed in the Philadelphia Code (10-720).
- Be conscious of the environment - use de-icing salts only as much as needed. One pound of de-icer can cover 100 to 200 square feet.
- De-icer should be applied as soon as a light accumulation has developed on the surface. This will break the bond between additional accumulations and the pavement surface, and will make it easier to shovel.
- A final light application of a de-icer may be required after removal is completed to melt the residual snow.
- Make sure you park your car as far away from the corner as possible. Cars parked too close to the corner limit the turning radius of salting vehicles.
- Clear snow from neighborhood storm drains to allow melting snow to drain.
- Make sure firefighters will have easy access to fire hydrants by clearing snow around the hydrants.
- Stay tuned to local media for updates.
- To report a street in need of salting or plowing or for more information on any Streets Department program or service, call 3-1-1. You may also visit the Streets Department online at www.phila.gov/streets/SNOW.
Commissioner Tolson said, "We expect heavier than normal traffic this weekend for holiday shopping. To make our plow efforts more effective, we urge citizens not to drive but to use SEPTA as they travel about the city."
In addition, the City has a declared a Code Blue to provide additional support to the homeless. If you see a homeless person in need of assistance, please call the Homeless Outreach Coordination Center at 215-232-1984.
As the Delaware Valley prepares for a potential major snowstorm, Health Commissioner Donald F. Schwarz reminded Philadelphians to take precautionary measures to protect themselves and their neighbors from injuries and accidents common in winter weather.
Dr. Schwarz recommends:
- Eat nourishing meals. Food adds fuel the body needs to keep warm.
- Wear several loose fitting layers of clothing. Avoid tight clothing. Wool and most synthetic fabrics are warmer than cotton.
- Keep clothes dry. Change wet socks or long underwear.
- Wear a windproof outer layer of clothing.
- Wear a hat that covers the ears.
Dr. Schwarz urges the public to check in on older friends, relatives, and neighbors before and during a snowstorm, to check on the availability of heat in the home, to offer transportation, and to help with running errands such as grocery shopping.
"Shoveling snow is a high intensity exercise," Dr. Schwarz said, "so those who are not used to regular exercise should work slowly and be cautious. Avoiding alcoholic beverages during cold weather is also important. Senior citizens and others with back problems or heart conditions should refrain from physical exertion like shoveling snow, or walking long distance."
Those at higher risk for heart attacks from snow shoveling include smokers, individuals with high "bad" cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.
The health department recommends the following snow shoveling tips:
- Warm up with some stretching exercises inside.
- Start slowly and pace yourself. Shovel no more than five loads a minute; don't shovel for more than 15 minutes without taking a break. Pause to stretch every five minutes by standing up straight.
- Push the snow. Don't lift. If you must lift, use your legs not your back.
- Drink during breaks to avoid dehydration. Breathing cold dry air robs moisture from your body with every breath.
- Never throw over your shoulder. Twisting can strain the back. Face the snow being shoveled, keep your back straight and knees bent and throw in front of you.
- Dress warmly in layers with a hat. Cover your neck.
- Take smaller scoops of snow, keeping them light and small.
- Don't work up a sweat. Bodies lose heat faster in damp clothes, which makes you more prone to injury. Take a break if you're beginning to sweat.
- Don't smoke or eat a heavy meal before shoveling. It's harder on the heart.
- Don't hold your breath; this makes your heart rate and blood pressure rise. Don't feel the job has to get done in one session.
- Don't smoke or eat a heavy meal before shoveling. It's harder on the heart. Don't hold your breath; this makes your heart rate and blood pressure rise
In an emergency, call a doctor, or 911 for a medic unit, or go to an emergency room. Until medical help arrives, protect someone suffering from exposure to the cold with extra blankets and clothing.
SEPTA reports that Route 35 in Manayunk/Roxborough has been discontinued. The Streets Department is in process of salting those bus routes affected. Multiple bus routes are being detoured. All bus routes are experiencing slight delays.
For Flyers fans attending today's game, SEPTA recommends that commuters take the Broad Street Subway to City Hall and then take regional rail at Suburban Station, which is an enclosed facility where commuters can stay dry and out of the elements.
For Eagles fans, there will be a game delay. It will begin at 4:15 pm on Sunday. SEPTA, again, recommends that commuters take the Broad Street Subway to the game at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Philadephia Parking Authority has discounted parking at all center city Philadelphia Parking Authority garages at a $5.00 flat rate and a $10.00 flat rate to keep a vehicle overnight. This will be in effect Saturday and Sunday. These Philadelphia Parking Authority garages are located at Gateway Garage at 16th and Vine; Auto Park at JFK Plaza, 16th and JFK Boulevard; Auto Park at Independence Mall, 5th and Market; Auto Park at The Gallery Mall, 10th and Filbert; Auto Park at Jefferson Hospital, 10th and Ludlow.
Friday: Start this pre-X-Mas weekend off with a healthy helping decapitations courtesy for Americanized ninja classic Shogun Assassin at I-House. Then rock out at Dave Sommers Cancer Benefit to help pay the monster medical bills of the former Cloud Minder member. Or you can just go to the Third Annual Dirty Diamond Vagina Jam and be overcome with the great need to take a shower.
Saturday: It's off to the Troc for the triumphant return of the Big Mess Cabaret. But first get yourself to National Mechanics for the Northern Home Toy Drive or booze it up at Firkins for our Furry Friends or Christmas Beer at the Institute. Or, if like Mama Omnibus, you melt in the snow and are freaked by its impending onslaught, you might want to stay home and cook yourself something delicious.
Sunday: Don't let Seymour down! Today is your last cance to catch Little Shop of Horrors. Don't miss it. For the homos and homo-ettes out there, today is your day! Josh Middleton, everyone's favorite Art Phag, hooks you up with three events in his new column Queer Bait to make your holiday season gay.
The Dad Vail regatta, previously slotted to row across the river to Jersey next year, is back having never actually gone anywhere.
Press release follows:
Thursday, December 17, 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAYOR NUTTER, CONGRESSMAN BRADY: DAD VAIL 2010 WILL BE IN PHILADELPHIA
Philadelphia, December 17 â Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Congressman Robert A. Brady, and organizers of the Dad Vail Regatta announced today that the 2010 Dad Vail Regatta will be held in Philadelphia. The announcement was made following a meeting in the Mayorâs Office between Mayor Nutter, Congressman Brady, City officials, and the event organizers.
"Dad Vail 2010 will be in Philadelphia, where it belongs,â said Mayor Nutter. "We never stopped working to bring the Dad Vail back and todayâs announcement is a victory for the young men and women who participate in this event, for the many thousands who enjoy the spectacle, and for all Philadelphians. I want to thank Congressman Brady, Jim Hanna and the Dad Vail organizers, and Herb Lotman who were all instrumental in this process.â
"The Dad Vail Regatta is a Philadelphia tradition and I wanted to continue to work with the Mayor and the DVR board to make sure that this major sporting event stayed in Philadelphia. The effort to keep the regatta in our city was important because it offers our young people the opportunity to compete in the largest collegiate regattas in the country. So it was very important that we continued to talk and work together to ensure that it stayed right here where it belongs,â Congressman Brady said.
City officials announced that the City of Philadelphia and the Dad Vail organizers will seek to reach a multi-year agreement in order to continue to stage the Regatta in Philadelphia. Mayor Nutter and Congressman Brady committed to assist the organizers with identifying potential sponsors. The City of Philadelphia will continue to work with the organizers to identify potential savings and ways to keep costs low, as it does with every potential event host in the city. However Mr. Hanna emphasized that City costs were never a significant factor in these discussions.
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( The Fix Is In: Part 1 described how House Gaming Oversight Chairman Dante Santoni created a monster amendment that rewrote the table games bill; Part 2 describes how some Representatives tried, and failed, to fight the bill on the floor, and were stifled when a slick parliamentary move forced debate and further amendments to end.)
Part 3: Ever closer.
Last night, the House passed the table games bill â its sundry earmarks, provisions to let the casinos offer credit to slots players, extension for Foxwoods to get up and running, and comically low tax rates and license fees still in place â by a vote of 103-92.
The bill is being debated tonight Senate. where it may face a tougher vote.You can watch the debate live, on the Senate's own live video feed. It's fun. Really.
This means, of course, that citizens still have a chance to tell their representatives what they think of the bill.
Here's what I think about it: the Senate should reject the bill.
It's absurdly lopsided, offering massive concessions to the casinos for a tiny benefit to the state: a measley few hundred million dollars of billion in the total budget.
It's been corrupted: the bill is full of un-examined earmarks that should never see the light of day.
And it's wrong: it's a bill which empowers a predatory industry, one which has built its profits not on the casual one-time visitor but overwhelmingly on people who play in ways that hurt them and their families. This bill gives the casinos the tools â like credit â to exploit all the harder and faster.
If the bill cannot be defeated, it should be amended. Credit should be banned. The extension for Foxwoods should be erased. The taxes should be tripled, and the licensing fee should be determined by public auction.
If the General Assembly and Governor Rendell care, as they claim to, about gambling addiction and problem gambling, they should be fighting for, and not against, such measures as monthly or quarterly statements to gamblers, increased funding for addiction treatment services, limited hours of operation, and smoking bans. These are measures the casinos oppose â and the last time I checked, the casinos never ran for office.
Click here to find your state Senator by zip code. (top right of screen).
The Fix is In, Part Two: How the table games amendment was rammed through the House, and opponents stifled.
(Apologies: this reporter clicked "Publish" instead of "Preview" and subjected early post readers to horrendous spelling mistakes).
(In Part One: The Great Santoni, Gaming Oversight Chairman Dante Santoni concocts a super-amendment to destroy all other amendments and rewrites the table games bill to include all sorts of earmarks and casino-friendly provisions).
By Monday night, House legislators saw that the fix was in: the dozens of amendments to the table games bill drafted by House members â each of which would, in theory, require a reading and open debate before the public on the House floor â had been obliterated by the omnibus Santoni amendment. It was to be an all or nothing vote.
Part Two: The Gag.
The debate carried on for six hours, as Rep. Santoni stood for interrogation by oppositional Republicans and a few furious Democrats, who accused him of leaving them out of the process.
Rep. Mike O'Brien (D-Philadelphia), for example,a member of the gaming Oversight Committee, who represents part of Fishtown, asked why, when he called on Friday to make inquiries on the massive bill that had suddenly appeared, Committee staff was unable to help him.
"This process reeks," O'Brien said. "Tonight, I will correct the error of my vote in Gaming Oversight, and I will vote 'no.'"
Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) spoke at length and passionately against the bill, reading from a long list of bizarre and suspicious earmarks, and criticizing the bill's failure to adopt Attorney General recommendations that law enforcement authority be taken away from the gaming Control Board.
Rep. Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) condemned the bill as a giveaway to the casinos, citing the low license fees ($16.5 million versus a $50-$60 million recommended figure Clymer had obtained from an investment specialist) and the low tax rates (14% versus the 55% tax on slot revenues).
Clymer referenced a group of consultants from the Innovation Group â a company with strong ties to the gaming industry â who had met with House leaders and recommended those very figures.
"It's exactly what they said at that meeting that we're finding in this Amendment," he cried. "You can see the voice and face of the casinos' influence in this legislation."
But Clymer's heaviest condemnation was on moral grounds, calling provision for allowing credit to gamblers "horrendous."
"What are we doing to our fellow man?" he asked. "I hope Governor Rendell, if this bill gets to him, will veto it on that issue alone."
Finally, around 8:00 P.M. the amendment was put to a vote. It passed: 97-95. Click here to see how each member voted.
The amendment had passed, but the night wasn't over â not quite.
A number of Representatives had managed to get new amendments on the agenda.
Representative Keller (D-Philadelphia), who had voted for Santoni's amendment, nonetheless offered a new amendment to remove the language in Santoni's bill allowing Foxwoods Casino to extend its license. The motion failed.
Representative Clymer, not going down without a fight, had several amendments. One would require that quarterly statements be sent to gamblers, letting them see on paper how much they had spent at a given casino. It failed.
Another amendment banned free alcohol in casinos; three more amendments tried to raise the licensing fee for table games from $16.5 million to between $25 and $75 million.
"Whether you agree or disagree with gambling, we can try to get the most out of it for the state," Clymer later told me. "If we did $50 million we'd get in approximately $600 million" - which is an increase of $400 million dollar and that would fix the governor's $200 million deficit."
Such a measure, one would think, would be amenable to everyone in the House â unless, of course, House members' loyalties were to the casinos themselves, and not the state coffers.
And, in fact, these amendments were not voted upon. Instead, any House members trying to further amend the bill were silenced â by a single old man: the 88-year-old Representative Frank Oliver (D-Philadelphia) who offered the obscure "motion to move the previous question."
I don't know what it means, but I've learned what it does: it ends debate, on the spot. The motion carried. Neither Clymer's amendments nor anyone else's would be given even the dignity of a public hearing, much less be voted upon.
The gag had worked.
Listen below to some of the testimony in Monday's debate on the House floor.
|Rep Paul Clymer|
|Rep Mike Turzai|
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