Archive: June, 2010
That's the claim behind a new report authored by ACT UP Philadelphia. Here's a snippet from it:
The city spends money inefficiently (ware)housing people in shelters and then paying for their medical care, rather than providing housing through more cost-effective models. In addition, lack of stable housing increases the likelihood of engaging in high-risk behaviors, thus increasing the likelihood of being HIV-positive.
You can download the report in full here. The organization goes on to explain how other metropolises have saved money by spending more on housing for people with AIDS: "In New York City, 95 percent of the cost of providing supportive housing for people with AIDS was recouped through savings in emergency room visits and medical care," reads ACT UP's press release.
According to ACT UP, the waiting list for the city's housing subsidies for people with AIDS has grown in the past year, from 143 to 200 people.
Today at 1 p.m., ACT UP, Proyecto Sol and Philadelphia GAWD rallied outside of City Hall to publicize these findings.
Today is Mayor Michael Nutter's 53rd birthday so a happy birthday to you, Mr. Mayor.
We at the Clog were hoping, in honor of the occasion, to post an audio clip of the time the mayor suddenly crushed a water into a small ball with his bare hands during an interview with this reporter a moment that seemed, at the time, pregnant with inscrutable meaning.
But I couldn't find it. So, instead, we're presenting His Mayorship with this birthday hat and chihuahua in a birthday costume.
You're welcome, Mr. Mayor. Now let's talk about those casinos.
David Dyden over at FireDogLake thought it was some big right-wing conspiracy to cut entitlements or whatever, but I found the portion of the weekends AmericaSpeaks which I wrote about here that I attended and live-blogged to be a fairly constructive endeavor. (Full disclosure: After our story was published, AmericaSpeaks asked me to live-blog their Philly event for a couple hours Saturday, and paid me a modest sum to do so. They did not tell me what to write; in fact, my instructions were completely vague. So, I guess I'm now part of Dydens vast right-wing conspiracy.) The point they emphasized is the right one: there are no easy answers, silver bullets or quick fixes. Dydens complaint, as I gather it, is that ASs workbook spent more pages laying out potential changes to Medicare and Social Security than it did to new taxes, and supposedly hyped spending cuts and downplayed potential tax increases. Perhaps. I didn't have a chance to dig into the workbook, nor did I take one home with me, so I can't really say. My bullshit detector didn't catch the apparent propaganda, however.
Of course, I was being paid.
I will say this: AmericaSpeaks was honest about its participants demographic and ideological tendencies. As they told me last week, their goal was to match the demographics of each of the 19 host cities, and to make sure minority viewpoints were represented. Consequently, they quizzed everyone at the outset on their age, race, and ideology. The audience, as I recall, skewed a bit white, old and liberal, but not by too much. And despite the alleged propaganda at play, the audience's proposed solutions were, in fact, somewhat progressive.
Participants proposed that we should:
Raise the limit on taxable earnings so it covers 90% of total earnings. Reduce spending on health care and non-defense discretionary spending by at least 5%. Raise tax rates on corporate income and those earning more than $1 million. Raise the age for receiving full Social Security benefits to 69. Reduce defense spending by 10% - 15%. Create a carbon and securities-transaction tax.
(Throughout the program, at least the part I saw, the AS folks seemed to stress that we should make cuts after the economy recovers; indeed, re-litigating the stimulus doesn't seem to have been the point.)
Sure, the soccer stadium will revive Chester, just as soon as stadiums can magically clean toxic brownfields
The stadium hosted its first game this weekend, amid news that the city of Chester a largely poor, post-industrial city which famously lacks a single supermarket is under a state of emergency following a spate of homicides.
It seems the two newspapers just can't stop posing the question: Might the new stadium finally revive Chester?
The answer is: not likely and not just because stadiums almost never justify the large public subsidies they often wrangle from the hands of our elected officials, as Temple professor Kevin J. Delaney and Villanova professor and Rick Eckstein point out in their book, Public Dollars, Private Stadiums.
But also because the stadium's funding was secured largely by promises of further economic development a so-called "master plan development that would include commercial, business, and residential units that had little to no basis in reality, as I reported in my 2009 investigative piece, Steamrolled:
Though the vast majority of the benefits the Chester development is supposed to bring are associated with the mixed-use parcel, virtually all the public money allocated to the project is going straight to the construction of the stadium.
The state agencies awarding the millions appear, in some cases, to have failed or declined to ask basic questions about the economic benefits being promised.
Contamination on the site where the mixed-use development is to be built raises questions about whether delivering the promised amenities is even economically feasible.
And the very developers expected to build the mixed-use site the principals of the Wilmington-based Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) are part-owners of the soccer team, providing a potential disincentive for them to allocate any of the public money toward anything but the stadium, from which they hope to profit.Will The Team deliver on its promises? Or has the public the city of Chester, in particular been duped?
A year later, the answer appears to be: yes. Chester still has no supermarket. And, as this paper found likely a year ago, the stadium is complete without any work or any signs of it taking place on the "master plan," which was supposed to have provided the most jobs and economic benefits to Chester.
According to the Patriot News, some state politicians think we should sell off the state's 621 state liquor stores to get some quick cash in order to ameliorate Pennsylvania's budget crisis. Sadly, those people are Republicans. Attorney General/GOP gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett is all for it, says his spokesman Kevin Harley:
There are a lot of variables that need to be considered before going forward with the privatization, but [Corbett] does support in general the liquidation of commonwealth assets, such as the state's liquor control system.
As for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato? Not so much.
"The current Wine and Spirits store system generates significant revenue for the state each and every year, and it keeps liquor out of the hands of minors," said Brian Herman, an Onorato campaign spokesman.
Having been a minor in Pennsylvania myself a few years ago, that last claim (which is routinely given by state store supporters) jumps out at me. Is it true? Or even provable? The only thing the state store system seemed to do for my peers was inspire us to befriend people 21 and older.
Perhaps it's not: According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in Pennsylvania report that they've drank alcohol in the past month. (For some reason, the survey lumps 18- to 25-year-olds together, so it's impossible to measure all minors, i.e. 12- to 20-year-olds.) Compared to other states, this puts us somewhere in the middle: In Utah, the lowest amount, or 7 percent, of 12- to 17-year-olds drank in the past month; the highest was in Rhode Island, at 20 percent.
We're not the worst, but we're definitely not the best. Is being average really enough to prevent the state liquor stores from being sold?
Lord knows I cant spew enough hatred toward dog-killer Michael Vick; even more so toward those (Philadelphia Eagles, various charities) whove turned his
PR teams strategy changed ways into a tale of redemption. To borrow an old Southwest Philly expression: "He should get hit by trains and eaten by dogs."
The NY Post ran a story about one of Vicks old dog-killing buddies getting shot at Vicks b-day bash over the weekend in Virgina Beach. Vick is barred from seeing any of the assholes he formerly ran with, so I guess Vick dissed Quanis Phillips when that co-defendant in Vick's dog-fighting case showed up. Rather than leave gracefully, Phillips threw cake and some of it hit Vicks face. Dag, that mustve made Vick look like the little bitch that he is. Philips was ejected from the party still screaming and this is where things of course get blurry somebody shot him in the parking lot.
So get to paying your back taxes if you haven't already, slackers.
As of June 8 about halfway in the city reaped just $7 million from the tax amnesty program, though the goal is that it'll bring in $30 million. The city claims that the majority of the money will come in at the very end which makes sense; the people who owe these taxes in the first place are, by definition, the worst kind of procrastinators.
The state got $261 million from its recent tax amnesty program much more than its $190 million goal. Let's hope Philly can surpass expectations, too.
Dept of non-surprises: PA House Democrats to push again for slot machines in bars ... and lottery providers!
|Photo | Isaiah Thompson|
|It's "entertainment," babe: coming to a bar near you. (He sure looks happy).|
You know what natural gas and gamblers have in common?
Our elected officials will as dig deep, and at whatever cost to society, to exploit both as long as they can subsidize a tax here, or line a local slush fund there.
The difference? You can't can't make oil from scratch. Gamblers, on the other hand, can be created.
About a week ago (in a move that's received virtually no press, anywhere), Pennsylvania House Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fayette) announced that he will be introducing legislation to legalize "video poker" games in Pennsylvania, resurrecting a push last year to let every no, I need capital letters for this EVERY BAR IN THE STATE to host up to five "video poker" machines (slot machines, that is).
He is also calling and this hasn't been reported anywhere for slot machines to be allowed at places where lottery tickets are sold. Pro-gambling officials will deny that video poker machines are substantively different from slot machines. They are misinformed, as well as misleading the public, and I challenge any supporter of this legislation to prove otherwise.
The Fayette County lawmaker said clubs would be able to operate up to seven machines, licensed liquor establishment such as taverns and restaurants could operate up to five, and lottery sales agents could operate up to three machines. Machines operated by lottery sales agents would have to be located outside the general public's view and not accessible to people under age 21.
Mahoney said under his measure, the state could impose a maximum $1,000-per-year licensing fee per video poker machine. From that amount, $100 would go to the host municipality, $100 to the host school district and $50 to a nonprofit or community organization of the licensee's selection. Groups eligible for the $50-per-year funding would include fire and police departments, libraries and other nonprofit organizations.
The remainder of the licensing fee would be placed in the state's General Fund.
Think about it: slot machines in every bar in the state. That's as many as 60,000 or more new slot machines in Pennsylvania. The impact not just on gamblers, but on gamblers-to-be, on the down-and-out, and even on people who don't and will never gamble is hard to imagine. These slots won't even be at casinos. They'll be in our bars, right in our neighborhoods.
This isn't just some new law. It's a fundamental transformation of the nature of this state. It's Vegas, baby.
Mahoney, of course, is simply acting as the conduit of a plan long in the works. The casinos having won most of the favors they wanted, the state's powerful bar and tavern lobby (the PA Tavern Association) feels like it's their turn.
But this proposal to allow slots with lottery ticket sales? That's new.
Note the requirement that "Machines operated by lottery sales agents would have to be located outside the general public's view."
That's presumably supposed to be for the protection of the "general public" yet it also "protects" the gambler, doesn't it: from having to stop gambling, from being seen, from being interrupted by external stimuli (slot machines are designed to draw the player into a state of mind in which they will not stop playing until they're broke).
And it protects the gambling industry from being seen for what it is: predatory.
Click here to download the common-sense report that Committee of Seventy sent to city commissioners about how to better local elections. They get into the specifics, but the takeaway is basically this:
Bring the Elections Website into the 21st Century
Clamp Down on Electioneering
Take Charge of Finding Polling Place Officials
Mandate Training of Polling Place Officials
Invite Public Feedback And Take it Seriously
Interestingly, according to vice prez and policy director Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, the Committee sent it off last Friday and hasn't heard a thing from the commissioners yet.
The recent explosion of a Marcellus Shale mine only the latest and worst in a series of spills, leaks, well contaminations, and other environmental damage resulting from the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") method of gas drilling in Pennsylvania seems to finally have got some of our representatives questioning the pace at which fracking is allowed to develop in this state.
So far, that pace has been as fast as possible, damn the risks as evinced by the more than one thousand environmental violations racked up against the industry in just the last two years, including more than a hundred spills, according to Department of Environmental Protection documents reviewed by the City Paper.
But it looks like the pressure to keep that pace fast or increase it is mounting in the wake of the BP spill, which has investors looking at the natural gas below Pa. with new attention.
A couple of days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Chesapeake Energy a major player in hydraulic fracturing here is selling stock in its company like hotcakes:
"Chesapeake Energy Corp. said it has sold $900 million in preferred stock to a group of private investors, including Asian sovereign wealth funds, cashing in on heightened interest in onshore energy following the BP PLC offshore drilling disaster.
Turns out, Chesapeake isn't the only Marcellus Shale company cashing in on increasing thirst for this region's gas. Reports the Motley Fool:
The increasing presence of Asian funds clearly comes as interest in natural gas ratchets higher worldwide. Other deals have involved India's Reliance Industries forking over $1.7 billion in April to Atlas Energy (Nasdaq: ATLS) in exchange for a sizable position in the Marcellus Shale. Also, two months earlier, Japan's Mitsui paid $1.4 billion for about a third of Anadarko's (NYSE: APC) Marcellus holdings.
With this kind of global pressure to keep drilling, it becomes even more important to ask whether our state officials, legislators and the increasingly beleaguered regulators both, will be able to keep this industry in check or whether it's time for a federal agency like the EPA to take this thing over. (Currently, fracking is exempted from federal oversight by a loophole in the energy bill masterminded by former V.P. Dick Cheney).
- 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