Archive: February, 2010
Breaking: Rendell rumored to be considering unilateral leasing of even more state forest for drilling
Governor Rendell is rumored to be considering directing the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to lease more land for Marcellus Shale gas drilling, even before the 2010-2011 budget, which he proposes tomorrow, passes.
"The fear is that governor will lease out more land in the spring," said State Representative Greg Vitali (D-Delaware). "The governor does not need legislative approval to lease out more land for drilling. He could do it tomorrow."
Vitali has sponsored a bill that would impose a moratorium on further leasing of state forest for drilling.
For the past few weeks, rumor had it that the four main caucuses of the General Assembly had made a closed-door agreement to require DCNR to authorize the lease of even more forest land for Marcellus Shale gas drilling to the tune of $180 million.
As I reported in this week's column, Man Overboard ("Uh-oh" 2/3/2010), the legislature included a similar â and totally unprecedented â clause in last year's budget, requiring DCNR to lease $60 million worth of state forest, effectively usurping DCNR Secretary John Quigley's job of determining himself what and whether to lease:
For years, Gov. Ed Rendell and legislators have rubbed their hands in anticipation of this windfall. And during the 2009 budget wars, they did something completely unprecedented: Lawmakers ordered the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), which oversees state forests, to lease land to gas drillers to the tune of $60 million which the state would keep.
That decision ignored the advice of former DCNR Secretary (and current Philly Parks and Rec czar) Michael DiBerardinis, who in a March 2009 memo warned that too much leasing would "scar the economic, scenic, ecological and recreational values of the forest," and that "a rush to drill threatens the certification of our state forests as sustainably managed."
They did it anyway.
Governor Spokesman Michael Smith confirmed in a phone call with CP last week that Rendell would indeed seek $180 million from "gas drilling revenues of some sort" - but whether that amount would include a possible proposed tax on drilling or include the leasing of state forest â he declined to specify.
That, he said, would be up to the legislature.
But maybe not. If the rumor's true (the governor's office has not yet responded to a call for comment), the Governor may decide to lease state forest for drilling all by himself â effectively letting legislators who might face opposition on such a vote off the hook.
Currently, one-third of all state forest land has already been leased for drilling. And while thousands of wells are expected on the land already leased, only three are operational.
|Dino poop. Seriously.|
Coprolite is another word for poo specifically, really old, fossilized poo. Dinosaur coprolite, which was found in Saskatchewan, Canada, will be on sale for the first time ever in the United States this weekend, Feb. 13 and 14, at the Academy of Natural Sciences (1900 Ben Franklin Parkway, 215-299-1000). (Previously, the Canadians didn't want to give up their precious poo, which is 66 million years old, and apparently worth a lot of money.) Better yet, a local Michael McGrail, of Doylestown is responsible for finding and marketing the stuff in the U.S. Sez McGrail:
Each specimen is packaged in a 4-ounce tin can with Jurassic Park-like graphics, nestled snugly inside on a bed of moss and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.
When you put it that way, it sounds downright adorable.
I'll say this about the gambling industry: it sure is efficient!
Check out this example of what looks, to my untrained eye, more like an advertisement than a news article, posted just a few hours ago on Philly.com.
A New Jersey ticket came close - just as several Pennsylvania slips, including a $1 million one sold in Folcroft, did last week.
But only one North Carolina ticket hit all the numbers drawn Saturday night to win Powerball's $141.4 million jackpot.
The Jersey ticket did win $200,000, as did seven others, for having the first five numbers - 14, 22, 52, 54 and 59 - but not the Powerball of 4. Missouri had two such winners, while Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas had one apiece.
Now the biggest jackpot around is the $32 million Mega Millions has up for grabs tomorrow night.
Powerball's top prize will be $20 million for Wednesday night's drawing.
Not to knock the author, or to suggest there's anything uncommon about this particular article: The Inquirer and Daily News post articles about the lottery all the time. Philly.com has a special link for it.
Sure, it's "news"; so's the fact, to a few people, anyway, that I once ate a piece of deodorant, thinking it was cabbage. But it's not much news. It is, however, exactly what the Lottery and the states that sponsor lotteries (and therefore get a cut) want: more players, more perceived legitimacy, more free advertising.
So close are these two institutions, in fact â the newspaper and the lottery â that Philly.com plugs both:
I suggest the company takes its own pandering advice: visit the lottery websites yourself, stop wasting staff time handing out free ads to Big Gambling, and get back to what you're supposed to be trying desperately to preserve: actual journalism.
No, they won't make change for you at most stations; no, their "Smart Card" won't be coming any time soon; no, you can't hear a word of their infrequent subway station announcements â but SEPTA does do one thing really well: their updates on Twitter are timely, accurate, and incredibly useful for anyone who can access them.
(Had I checked the feed this morning, for example, I'd have known to catch the Route 34 to City Hall instead of wait in the snow for a trolley that, it turned out, would not come.)
It needs to accommodate 15-25 people and be a good time for early people in their early 30's. No Karaoke.
Yesterday morning, a friend who works in Kensington called me to tell me that they'd had another murder on the block (H & Potter) early that morning.
He counts three or four in the last few months, all within about a block of each other all within sight of the huge, vacant lot left after an city-owned abandoned factory caught fire and burned down half the block.
The murder victim was Francisco Rodriguez, 19 years old, from the 2000 block of E. Atlantic St.
Last night, friends and family gathered at the site of the killing for a candlelight vigil. It was a weird, disconcerting scene: especially since those who showed up to mourn were unknown to the block's residents.
Iris Morales, the block captain, told me that she sees things getting worse on her block, not better - dropping murder rate be damned. Just last December, she held another gunshot victim another young man in her hands while they waited for an ambulance just a half-block from this murder.
"I don't know what I'm going to do," Morales told me last night. "I can't let them take over â¦ but I'm afraid to walk to the bus stop."
Thanks to Jamie Moffett for the photos.
Friday: Can't handle the First Friday crowds? The today is the perfect time to journey to Old City â¦ because let's face it: y'all are pusses when it comes to the white stuff. Chucks conducts the First Friday Focus train. All aboard! If you're freaking and just want to curl up with a hot cup o' cocoa, Rocket Cat's is doing the art thing courtesy of Craftivity.
Saturday: Sure, you can get a tat from Northern Liberties Tattoo anytime, but how often can you get one based off of graffiti artist Steve Powers' A Love Letter for You (now in book form!). Head out today to get in on the party action for the book release at Exit Skateshop. Since you're already kind of close (and there's no reason to trek far in a blizzard), it's Johnny Brenda's for you, where Pepi Ginsberg takes the stage.
Stay warm, little Omnibussers!
The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia wants to know, and they've reached out to the Clog for answers. That means you, dear Clog reader! Specifically, the ELGP is trying to find out what makes Philly "World Classâ and "not World Class,â and if you have any ideas for what that even means in the first place, you're more than welcome to share (we're not being snide â they admit they don't really know, either, which is part of the challenge).
It's three very quick questions, it won't take more than a couple minutes, and you'll be entered to win a Flip HD camcorder that you can use to film all the used needles lying around the train tracks in Kensington that prevent Philly from ever becoming world class.
And go here if you're curious for more on what this is all about.
|I <3 PowerPoint.|
I've been to Academy of Natural Sciences forums before, so I know that PowerPoint presentations are the norm â¦ but still, was anyone else surprised when David Byrne started clicking off slide after slide?
Last night's bike lecture, led by the Talking Heads co-founder and author of Bicycle Diaries (Viking, $25.95) which was only OK, despite what they tell you, and I'm a bike head began a little late. There was a video montage of bikes in cinema (The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, unidentifiable '80s movies, etc.) to keep the audience placated, though. Then, at around 6:30, Byrne took to the stage, in a black button-up shirt and loose, comfy-looking black pants, looking as dapper as ever. Byrne hasn't really aged at all he looks the same as he did 20 years ago, but with gray hair.
I was only able to stay for an hour, but here's what I learned:
While writing Bicycle Diaries, the three books Byrne thought about most were Michael Sorkin's Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and Christopher Alexander's The Timeless Way of Building.
Frank Lloyd Wright may have made many beautiful buildings, but dude had wack ideas about how cities should look. He essentially wanted there to be a few skyscrapers dotted on various plots of farmland. In other words, no community.
The General Motors pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair was frightening. They wanted highways everywhere. They got 'em.
Byrne is fairly confident that cities will be less car-focused and more people- and bike-focused in the future. He kept uttering things like, "It will probably change soon, I hope" and "Some of the cities might come back."
Italy seems like the perfect country to bike in (because of the small streets).
In L.A., the actual streets are so anti-pedestrian that they build artificial streets.
Byrne called the floating whore houses in Utretch "charming." It was funnier then than it sounds now.
Sadly, I had to leave after that. Cloggers, if you went, how was the roundtable discussion afterward?
So, it's official. We're all going to die.
I've lived through a lot of things in my life this son of a bitch, for instance but a blizzard is not one of them. (I know this area was hit pretty hard with that monster storm in December, but I was (foolishly) driving through it, all the way to South Carolina, to meet up with my family, because I thought driving through that thing wouldn't be a big deal. I was wrong. So very wrong.) So here's my question for the Cloggers: What should I expect?
In Florida, any time a hurricane got anywhere near the coast, the weathermen would just about masturbate on the air to their newfangled satellite technology, bread and water vanished from grocery store shelves. And then the storm would miss us, and everyone would feel stupid, but it was annoying and inconvenient all the same. I would sort of imagine it's similar here everyone overreacts, especially on teevee.
But, should I make an Acme run this evening or what?
More importantly, how do you pass the time? Load up on booze? Will the trains and subways shut down? Will the power go out?
In short, Cloggers, tell me what I should know. Post in the comments, or email me at email@example.com.
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