Philadelphia, (legal) extortion capital of the USA

Two shining examples of what's wrong with this town...

Exhibit A:

In recent weeks, high-ranking business leaders in the region have received calls asking them to donate to a charitable education organization that would then contribute funds to help buy out Philadelphia School Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman's contract, sources said.

According to the sources, the money would be funneled through the Philadelphia's Children First Fund, a charitable nonprofit set up in 2003 to support the School District. Ackerman is listed on the fund's website as a board member, as is Robert L. Archie Jr., the chairman of the School Reform Commission.

Exhibit B:

At 6 a.m. Monday, Tommy Joyner and Jamie Lokoff finally swung open the doors to their long-awaited, one-of-a-kind, java-and-booze-with-music MilkBoy Coffee emporium in Center City and encountered something that has largely eluded them for much of the last 10 months: labor peace.

It lasted roughly one hour.

By 7 a.m., carpenters' union members, furious that the new MilkBoy outlet at 11th and Chestnut Streets had been rehabbed by nonunion workers, were picketing outside the main doors - just as they had done at the original MilkBoy in Ardmore.

By Tuesday, Day Two, Philadelphia police had been called to the site to sort the whole thing out.

Actually, I'm not sure if what Ackerman and her people are doing in Exnibit A should be called legal extortion or legal blackmail, but the message here is essentially: "Pay me $1 million to go away, and no more kids get hurt."

Does anyone else see an irony in a fund with the name "Children First" being asking to raise money not for children -- who lack textbooks, computers, and other vital resources -- but to pay off an already overpaid  pampered and delusional rich grown-up? If Philadelphia business leaders have cash to donate (and they do, as I reported last month!) it should go to kids and not to Philadelphia's Evita and her drawn-out and overwrought good-bye.

Just go, Arlene -- you don't deserve another penny, and if you think you do...sue the city! I'd love to see you try to defend your record in court.

Reagarding the carpenters, their little (legel) protection racket shtick pains me as a proud, card-carrying union members. Unions are like the witches of Oz -- there are good ones and bad ones. A good union defends the basic rights and dignity of workers and ensures the kind of strong and necessary middle class. A bad union...well, it looks like this, relying on lowbrow thuggery rather than constructive ways to rebuild the blue-collar workforce here in Philadelphia. If their strategy is so successful, how come there's an endless supply of carpenters who can get paid to harass decont folks like the MilkBoy owners, and not paid to, you know, actually build things?

Someone should ask Congressman Bob Brady, a creation of the carpenters union, is he approves of these kind of thug tactics, and if so (since he presumably does), why?

Mneanwhile, Arlene and the carpenters (that sounds like a bad '80s band, doesn't it?) are proving that low-tech (legal) extortion is the No. 1 business in Philadelphia. I'm not sure if that's a growth industry.