Archive: May, 2010
Pat Toomey, the Pa. GOP's nominee for Senate, would like you to think he's a mainstream, conservative-but-not-insane kind of guy. That's how his campaign will present him over the next few months. They'll downplay his four-year stint at the helm of the Club for Growth, a far-right organization that sought to evict Republicans it deemed not conservative enough. Instead, they'll talk in generic terms about his "common sense approach" to lower taxes and limited spending, etc., while trying to castigate Joe Sestak, retired Navy admiral, as some lilly-livered Marxist. Sadly, there's a pretty good shot this strategy will work, too, since the election will be far more about the national mood than the merits of the individual candidates.
The truth is, Toomey at least during his tenure in Congress had a pretty radical record. Quantifiably so: According to a statistical analysis by Pollster.com's Harry Enten using lawmakers' DW-Nominate scores (a pretty standard political science measurement of ideology, alongside rankings from groups like Americans for Democratic Action and the American Conservative Union), Toomey is way, way, way to the right of even Rick Santorum, whom this state so rightly removed from the Senate back in 2006.
Is Pat Toomey too conservative for Pennsylvania?
This weekend in response to a post I wrote about possible Pennsylvania Senate match-ups Alan Reifman asserted that Toomey "is too far to the right for Pennsylvania." When I saw Reifman's post, I was going to respond "but Pennsylvanians elected Rick Santorum... twice." But before I did, I decided to contrast Santorum's and Toomey's DW-Nominate scores. DW-Nominate scores classify House and Senate members as liberal or conservative based on all their roll call votes than can be identified as liberal or conservative. These scores allow one to compare how rightward or leftward legislators are on a single dimension -1 to 1 scale with higher positive scores indicating a more conservative record*. What I found surprised me.
Using joint House and Senate scaling (which treat the House and Senate a single body to compare scores across chambers), we find that Pat Toomey (.718) had a considerably more conservative voting record than Rick Santorum (.349). To put that number into context, Lincoln Chafee (the ultimate liberal Republican and now independent) had a DW-Nominate score of .002 and Republican Arlen Specter had a score of .067. Republican Specter was slightly to the right of Chafee; Santorum was considerably right of Chafee; and, Toomey was much further right.
Still, I wanted to get a better idea of how conservative Toomey voting record was. So, I pulled the DW-Nominate score of every United States legislator (House and Senate) since 1995**. Indeed, of the 1,004 legislators to receive a DW-Nominate score for their career since 1995, Toomey ranked as the 22nd most conservative.
Toomey, by a very literal definition, is a fringe candidate, and he should be treated as such. He was more right-wing than JD Hayworth, Jim DeMint, and even the racist Jesse Helms. Cue the visual:
The question for the fall, I think, is whether the Pa media (and the Sestak campaign) allow Toomey to track to the middle unfettered, or whether they call him out for being the fringe, radical candidate that his record in Congress says he is.
Ive been reporting about City Councilmen Darrell Clarke and Bill Greenlee's Bill No. 100267 since it was lobbed at promoters on April 22. You know the one where promoters would have to apply for a permit from the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) 30 days before every single event (52 permit applications per year if you run a weekly event) that would cut last-minute shows or pickup parties to say nothing of house party gigs at places like Carriage House and Danger Danger Gallery. Applications would have to include detailed security plans, the promoter's business-privilege-license number, the venue's capacity and the expected crowd. The bill would hold promoters liable for the actions of the crowds at the events they promote, would requires that every permit application include the contract between the venue and the promoter making rental prices and rates for each individual promoter public record . Plus the PPD could deny a permit for any reason and without explanation up to 10 days before the event no one wins. City promoters lose cred.
Its already started.
I spoke to one food catering operator and two independent sound organizations that rent equipment. Theyre afraid to take jobs that could canceled with 10 days notice if the bill passes as is. Another promoter told me that the union workers were talking about sound and light men possibly being cut from gigs with 10 days notice. Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Marketing peeps are rumored to have expressed concerns over the bill.
Enter Patrick Rodgers he of Draculas Ball and Dancing Ferret booking and management fame. He offered to help Councilman Greenlee's staff work on specific language for a bill that would address the concerns of the police department without crippling the city's music and entertainment industries. They accepted the offer and scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to try hashing out some preliminary language.
My hope is that we wind up with essentially a new bill, Rodgers says. The first good news was that initial hearing for the bill has been moved. The June 1 L&I Committee meeting was canceled due to scheduling conflict, and, Rodgers says, No new hearing date has been set, but they have to have a meeting so I'm sure it will be soon-ish.
Even better, as of last night, Rodgers meeting with Greenlees people led officially to the 30-day permit rule and the 10-day cancellation rule being taken off the table.
It's dead, no longer part of the legislation, says Rodgers. We are making significant progress on other areas of concern. I go back tomorrow to work at it some more. I am optimistic that we will wind up with a bill that empowers police to go after unsafe events while not disturbing the commerce or culture of legitimate events. Anything can happen in politics, of course, but for right now, I feel that our concerns are being heard and addressed.
So, you know how everyone hates the BRT so much that we just voted them out of existence? We did, and they totally had it coming. But the voter-enforced oblivion doesn't take effect until Oct. 1, which gives the BRT folks the ones still threatening litigation to keep their jobs a few more months to, well, fuck everything up.
Enter local do-gooder Zack Stalberg of Committee of Seventy. In a press release, he kindly asks the BRT to play nice and bow to the will of the people. Here's part of it:
Zachary Stalberg, President and CEO of the non?partisan organization that champions effectivegovernment, said it is time for the BRT to respect the voters and property taxpayers by also: Foregoing an appeal of the Pennsylvania Supreme Courts decision to keep the BRT?eliminationquestion on the May 18 ballot. Working in cooperation with the new Chief Assessment Officer, who will head the new Office ofProperty Assessment and whose initial four?year term will start on July 1, 2010. Ensuring a smooth transition of its assessment appeals responsibilities to a new and separateBoard of Property Assessment Appeals, whose seven members will begin their initial terms onOctober 1, 2010.Given the publics complete lack of trust in the BRT, prolonging the inevitable will only inflict furtherdamage, Stalberg said. Noting that the fallout from the BRT scandals is still continuing, he cited grossinaccuracies in the property assessment system as a key factor in the opposition by 7 of City Councils 17members to a temporary 9.9 percent property?tax hike, which some have said could face a legalchallenge.Regaining the taxpayers confidence will take a massive overhaul of the assessment system and thepeople who administer it, Stalberg said. The soon?to?be?extinct BRT shouldnt force Philadelphians towait until the lights go out to start that process.
|Courtesy of Temple University|
|Meehan (right): still the boss.|
The Philly GOP, as you may have read in the Inquirer, Philadelphia magazine or City Paper, has been seriously flailing lately. The latest news and this is only the latest news is that the Philadelphia Parking Authority is basically an arm of Michael Meehan's Republican City Committee, readily helping to keep his peeps in power.
The Loyal Opposition, a sort of anti-Meehan Republican organization in Philly led by Kevin Kelly, has been trying to wrestle control away from Meehan and "actually get Republicans elected in the city," as Kelly puts it. Yesterday, this showdown played out in the race for the Republican State Committee; Kelly sent out an e-mail a day prior pushing people to vote for those "future leaders who will save the sinking economic ship of Philadelphia."
For Kelly and the Loyal Opposition, things didn't work out so well yesterday. Though Kelly and colleague Joe DeFelice won spots on the Committee, the other 10 people Kelly supported Suzanne Haney, Michelle Montalvo, J. Matthew Wolfe, Deborah Havey, Lindsay Doering, Audra Butts, Don Garecht, Linda Kerns, Al Schmidt and Pam Warren lost.
Meehan, of course, won a spot on the Committee.
See other election results here.
Joe Sestak won. Dan Onorato won. Manan Trivedi won (or so it presently appears). The BRT went down in flames. Conclusion: You guys listened to Election Kitty, and we don't have to kill her. She thanks you.
Related: We <3 this guy:
Back in 2006, we told you about the very first Philadelphia Ride of Silence, a slow quiet procession designed to commemorate those killed while cycling.
This year, on the eve of the 5th annual event an approximately 8-mile, 1.5-hour ride starting at the foot of the front steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway Wed., May 19, 6:45 P.M. we shot a few questions at Ray Scheinfeld, one of the organizers of the now-tradition.
The Clog: How has the ride changed since the first one?
Ray Scheinfeld: We are better organized to put the ride together and we notice that a lot of people know about the ride now compared to the first one. In addition, we have attracted a lot more riders since the first one.
This is sort of a broad question, but does the ride work? Anecdotally or statistically, how has Philadelphia become more aware of cyclists and better toward cyclists?
This has been the first year that no riders from Philadelphia City were killed. That may not be the result of the ROS but we hope it stays that way in future years. I think that the ride is a small part of the improvement of the biking scene in Philly, but one of the best parts of the ROS is that it helps bring the entire Bike Community together; racers, messengers, commuters, recreational riders, recumbent bikers, etc. This combination of different riders and styles of riding don't often align in purpose and direction but during the ROS we are one!
Last year saw a new ride with (at least some) similar goals to the Ride of Silence. I'm speaking, of course, of the Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride. The World Naked Bike Ride (the inspiration for the PNBR) lists among it's myriad raisons d'etre increasing awareness of the vulnerability of cyclists by making riders aware that there's just a layer of clothes protecting us. Are the Ride of Silence and the PNBR friends? Do you feel that you are kindred spirits?
We both have different approaches in riding style ;-) but I don't see us at odds in our general purpose which is to show that bikes belong and are fun. We of course are more serious in our presentation. When I am out riding my bike I see a wide range of interesting bikes, riders and rider behavior but the important thing to me and my co-organizer John is that they are riding a bike.
You're hoping to get 500 riders out this year. How has attendance been since the first? Has it generally been going up? What was the turnout for the first year?
We would very much like to reach 500 riders this year but the ride is most affected by the weather conditions. We ride rain or shine, but we have taken to promising the people we talk to about the ride that we can guarantee no snow. The number of riders has generally increased since the first year when we had 150 bikes. The following year in a rainstom we had 57 hardy but wet riders. We have had up to 300 riders participating in the last several years. Some places like Dallas have over 1,000 riders participating in their ROS ride. We hope to one day reach that level of participation.
The Ride of Silence, Wed., May 19, 6:45 P.M, The 8 mile long route will start at the foot of the front steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway. A brief pre-ride dedication ceremony will take place at 6:45 PM and the ride will start promptly at 7:00 P.M. It will proceed down the Parkway, circle City Hall, continue to Independence Hall, and head over to West Philly via the Walnut St. Bridge. The ride will return to the front of the Art Museum over the Spring Garden Street Bridge. The duration of the ride is expected to be 1.5 hours. Helmets are required and bicycle lights are encouraged.
But that doesn't mean you're off the hook. We know it sucks, but, c'mon. You'll be voting for a new governor! Joe Sestak or Arlen Specter! A city referendum that would abolish the Board of Revision of Taxes! For a primary, it's an interesting year. Right? Right?!
If you need any guidance, look here for the race for governor, here for Senate, here for the state House and here for the U.S. House. And if voting makes you confused, call the Committee of Seventy's hotline at 1-800-OUR-VOTE. The polls close at 8 p.m., people.
Updated: Mayor Spokesman Douglas Oliver returned an earlier call today. His response is below
How do you know the mayor is serious about the soda tax? He's putting the screws on homeless shelters.
In an email to service providers scooped right out of my hands by my intrepid colleagues at It's Our Money Dainette Mintz, Director Office of Supportive Housing and Deputy Managing Director for Special Needs Housing, asked that providers show up to this Thursday's budget meeting in support of the mayor's proposed tax on sweetened beverages.
It isn't exactly breathtakingly out of line for the administration or any administration to put a little good old fashioned pressure on departments to support a budget proposal.
But this request is a bit different: it's highly specific, being made to a department whose providers have had to cut services for several years in a row; and while departments are often asked to come and support a budget they're part of, the direct relationship between the Office of Supportive Housing and the soda tax isn't obvious.
In fact, it's a little convoluted, as expressed in the letter below. Some service providers seem befuddled:
"To support a patiucalr tax that's unsusual," says one. "I'm not sure what we'd all do come together and chant?" the provider added.
Larry Ceisler, a long-time Philadelphia media consultant currently working for the Beverage Coalition which opposes the sweetened beverage tax argues that the mayor, who has criticized the lobbying effort afoot, is effectively using a multi-million-dollar department to lobby.
"The mayor is playing hard-ball. I understand, I get it," says Ceisler. "What the proponents of this tax want to do is to shoot the messenger, the lobbyists and people asked to lobby for people who feel threatened by this tax But if you look at that letter, and its implications, to me that's akin to a twenty-million dollar lobbying campaign."
Mayor Spokesman Douglas Oliver vehemently denies that the letter was anything other than an attempt by the administration to"make sure that our stakeholders are aware of the reality that we're facing as a city, and that they're facing as providers. And that they have an opportunity to voice their opinion if they should choose to do so."
As to why providers were being asked to support the beverage tax in particular, Oliver argued that since the rest of the budget has passed committee, the beverage tax essentially is the rest of the budget.
Asked if other departments' vendors were contacted in the same manner, Oliver said he wasn't sure, but that "Everything didn't necessarily go out at the same time on the same day."
Indeed, the Office of Supportive Housing isn't the only agency being called upon: an email from Health Commissioner Donald Schwartz to unknown recipients reads:
On Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Health Commissioner Donald Schwarz will testify about this important public health initiative. The hearing will begin at 10:00 am in room 400 in City Hall. Members of the public are invited to attend.
The mayor's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Here, below, is the letter from Ms. Mintz:
As you may know, the City has been engaged in budget hearings with City Council in an attempt to pass a balanced budget for FY 11. Yesterday, Council passed a budget which included $17M in additional spending cuts; $4M in new taxes on smokeless tobacco and cigars; $7M in new revenue to be generated from additional trash pick up fees from small businessess and multi-dwelling residences; and, $ 86M in additional revenue to be generated via a 9.9% increase in property taxes for 2 years. City Council did not pass the Mayor's proposed Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax.
The budget passed by Council will reduce the City's fund balance (cash on hand) to $ 42.5M and this will impede the City's ability to borrow money. The Administration believes that a fund balance of $ 42.5 M is insufficient and will result in an unstable cash position. A large percentage of the City's revenue is not realized until the beginning of each calendar year (January) and, in practical terms, the City may not have enough cash on hand to meet all of its contractual obligations over the next six months. In addition, there is a concern that the State of Pennsylvania may not pass its budget on time just as what occurrred last year. If this happens, the City would not receive its cash payments from the State thereby further reducing the available cash on hand. That scenario coupled with the lack of additional incoming revenue and the inability to borrow money could result in the City freezing payments similar to or even worse that what was experienced last summer.
On Thursday, May 20, 2010, the Administration plans to go before Council to present the impact of Council's budget and the need to pass the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax.
While the Administration understands that the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax may not be popular, it is the only revenue generating proposal on the table. The Administration is therefore asking for a collective effort in support of this tax and that you show your support by coming to City Hall, 4th Floor on Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 10 AM.
As always, thanks very much for your continuing partnership with us as we work to end homelessness.
I'm throwing a playlist together of songs that mention Philly or something about Philly. Here's what I have so far; Boyz to Men - Motown Philly Will Smith - Summertime Survivor - Eye of the Tiger Bruce - Streets of Philadelphia Help me build the list!!!
- Ask A Man-About-Town
- Award Tour
- Bad Idea Factory
- Below the Curve
- Brian Hickey
- Budget Fuss
- City Council
- City Hall
- CP Abroad
- CP in the Community
- Criminal Justice System
- Day Tripper
- Death and Taxes
- Delaware River
- Dubious Distinction
- End of Days
- Film Fest
- Financial Meltdown
- Free Library
- Gay Stuff
- Get Lit
- Hall Monitor
- Health Care
- Hello, Kitty
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Marcellus Shale
- MUST READ
- Mysterious Mysteries
- Non Sequitur
- PA politics 2010
- Parking Wars
- Parks and Recreation
- People Send Us This Stuff
- Philadelphia Police
- Philadelphia Union
- Philly From Scratch
- philly madness
- President Obama
- Print Edition
- Readers Write
- Real Estate
- Rock Bottom
- Screwing Philly
- So Lush
- Sporting Life
- Sports Complex
- State Politicians
- State Politics
- Street Art
- Stuff We Like
- Taxi Drivers
- Tech Fetish
- The Budget Crisis
- The City Paper
- The CLOG
- The Human Condition
- The Mayor
- The Phightin Phils
- The World
- Things that make you go hm
- Tinfoil Hats Off
- Under the Table
- Under the Tables
- Urban Development
- Urban Planning
- urban wildlife
- Video Poker
- We Call Shenanigans
- Web Junk
- Weekend Omnibus
- White House
- What We've Found
- Women's Issues
- Flyered Up!
- How 'Bout That Weather?
- it's always sunny in philadelphia
- get out
- 10-track mind
- Bruce Being Bruce
- Gigantic Surprises
- Hello Canary
- Hello Puppy
- get lost
- Inside The Fishbowl
- Library Closings
- Local Support
- Night Moves
- Skeeze Police
- State Politicians Screwing Philly
- That's a cool stencil!
- Things We See
- This Week
- This Week in Oates
- University City
- What we don't heart
- what we heart
- Feeling Guilty
- Broke in Philly
- Dear Paper Doll
- Do A Good Thing
- Film Fest Schism
- G20-20 Vision
- Great American Heroes
- Pearl Jam Week
- Stars of the Photostream
- Lower Merion Webcam-Gate
- The Cycle
- Equality Forum
- Bureaucrat of the Week