Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 11:15 PM
People stand atop an overturned car in Keene, N.H. on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014, during a night of violent parties that led to destruction, dozens of arrests and multiple injuries, near the city's annual pumpkin festival. The parties around the school coincided with the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival, where the community tries to set a world record of the largest number of carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns in one place. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, Jeremy Fox) BOSTON HERALD OUT, QUINCY OUT; NO SALES this point there have been so many "white riots" in the last couple of years -- Huntington Beach, Santa Barbara, Penn State (more than once), and just this week, Morgantown, and now, most epic-ally of all-time, the great Pumpkin Festival riots of Keene, N.H. It's gotten to the point where all of the obvious jokes, about how the white community needs to have a serious conversation about getting our own house in order, or asking where are the (white) fathers, have been made again and again and again. O you silly rioters of mid-season college football wins and smashed pumpkins, you make comedy too easy!

Still, the ironies abound (and not just the appearance of would-be New Hampshire senator Scott Brown, who seems to inspire bad behavior wherever he goes). Keene is the town that was ridiculed just a couple of months ago by HBO's John Oliver for buying a mine-resistant armored personnel carrier and for citing the need to protect the annual Pumpkin Festival (although I guess the assumption was protect it from al-Qaeda and not from boisterous Natty Light drinkers). Will Oliver apologize? Of course, in reality, the real-life response this weekend of the Keene police -- in riot gear, lobbing tear gas -- is every bit as questionable and should get the same level of scrutiny as it did in Ferguson. It probably won't, though.

Speaking of Ferguson, if you have a few minutes read the news accounts of what happened in New Hampshire -- the youths who set fires and threw rocks or pumpkins were described as "rowdy" or "boisterous" or participants in "unrest." Do you remember such genteel language to describe the protesters in Missouri? Me neither...I wonder why.

Will Bunch @ 11:15 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, October 19, 2014, 6:53 PM

See this. It's the Philadelphia Union logo, with its snake loosely based on the Gadsden flag made popular in the American Revolution. You may know that image as "the Tea Party flag," since it was adopted as a symbol of the right-wing movement that started so magically* on the afternoon of Jan. 20, 2009. But once upon a time, the iconic snake and the "Join or Die" motto not only called for "union" (hence the association with the 21st Century soccer team...get it?) but for core principles like free speech.

But exercising your 1st Amendment rights at the Union's partially taxpayer-backed soccer palace in Chester is complicated, as a few disenchanted fans learned during the team's last home game of the 2014 season on Saturday night, when the boys in blue didn't quite salvage a hugely disappointing season with a 2-1 win over defending Major League Soccer champions Sporting Kansas City.

As noted here last week, the Union missed the playoffs for the 4th time in 5 seasons and a growing number of fans -- rightly, in my biased opinion -- blame the bizarre personnel moves of the teams' founding CEO (and a part owner), Nick Sakiewicz. So much so that several fans in the River End -- home to the way-beyond-fanatical supporters' group the Sons of Ben -- brought homemade banners to show their displeasure.

Will Bunch @ 6:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 7:44 PM
This image of Gov. Tom Corbett, which appears on his re-election website, features people photoshopped in.

It's no secret that things haven't always gone smoothly for Gov. Corbett in his effort to woo minority voters in Pennsylvania. Most famously, the one-term GOP governor -- who's in the fight of his life for re-election -- last year told editors of Philadelphia-based Al Dia at a roundtable that he didn't have any Latinos in his cabinet, adding: "If you can find us one, please let us know."

Now, according to a report going viral tonight on social media, Corbett's re-election campaign found an African-American woman to stand next to the governor on his website photos.

Not an actual woman. According to Buzzfeed, the black woman who gazes at Corbett was Photoshopped from a stock picture.

Will Bunch @ 7:44 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 2:31 PM

Here's the backstory: The Philadelphia School District -- in turmoil over its budget woes and last week's vote by the School Reform Commission to cancel its labor contract with teachers -- thought it could be a good idea for a "parent appreciation" event that featured a teacher-union-bashing movie called "Won't Back Down." Subtle, huh? (Also, arguably the worst abuse of a Tom Petty song ever...but I digress.) One of the sponsors was Comcast Internet Essentials -- whose parent has a complicated history with ed reform.

So about a dozen activists from the Philadelphia Student Union showed up last night to shut that thing down. Not only did they pull it off, but they infuriated an SRC member (who, in a remarkable coincidence, works for Comcast) at the event, Sylvia Simms. She's captured on video (watch it below) yelling at the protesters, but her words are inaudible. Students claim they she screamed that the demonstrators go to "failing schools" (how's that for a loaded statement?) and that they should go to jail.

UPDATE: Simms told the Inquirer today that students mischaracterized her remarks, although it's still not clear exactly what was said. "It wasn't like that," she said told the paper. "I've noticed we have a lot of failing schools. It's my job to try to fix as many schools as I can."

Will Bunch @ 2:31 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 3:41 PM
A student walkout for teachers last week. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

Philadelphia spends millions of dollars to tell the world -- tourists, young entrepreneurs, expansion-minded CEOs -- why they should come here. And they make a pretty good case -- a bustling Center City and a growing roster of hip neighborhoods, one of the best restaurant scenes in America, arts and culture, Fairmount Park and the ever-expanding Schuylkill Trail, world-class universities, winning sports teams, all at a cheaper cost of living than New York, D.C. or Boston.

Unfortunately, when you sell Philly to the outside world, you a) gotta take the bad with the good and b) remember that, especially in this corner of the globe, no other media outlet has more influence than The New York Times. And when readers picked up (or clicked on) the Times this morning, they saw kids running across cracked asphalt on a faded school yard. In Philadelphia.

As they say in those omnipresent ads....XOXO?

Will Bunch @ 3:41 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 6:31 PM
Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz. (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff file photo)

My bio on the upper right of this blog claims that I blog here about my "obsessions," one of which is soccer. Luckily  for you, that's mostly false...I have Twitter now to rant about the many various screw-ups of the Philadelphia Union, Liverpool or the United States (men's soccer, I mean...I strill do rant about the screw-ups of the actual United States here on the blog, of course). But there's a sports situation in this town that's so egregious that I have to weigh in.

For well over a decade, thousands of soccer die-hards here in Philadelphia wanted Major League Soccer to come here in the worst way.

In a way, that's exactly what has happened.

Will Bunch @ 6:31 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, October 13, 2014, 7:42 PM
(Photo from

UPDATE: Action deferred. Heh.

The Chris Christie administration is at it again -- doling out a huge tax break to a company that's pledging to create, or at least keep, a bunch of jobs in New Jersey. This time, according to a report in the Inquirer, the recipient will be the giant defense contractor Lockheed Martin, in line to get more than $100 million in tax credits for some type of new facility -- there's been no formal announcement yet -- in Camden.

On one hand, if there's any city in America that's in need of economic aid, it's poor, struggling Camden. But as we've seen in the past -- most notably with a recent Christie administration $82 million handout for the Philadelphia 76ers -- these projects tend to create few actual jobs for the poor, struggling people who actually live in Camden. Often, it's questionable whether the money was really needed for the company to expand or to move, sometimes just a few miles. Yet economic development tax breaks like this one have been the cornerstone of one of the worst job-creation strategies in America. Surveys have shown the Garden State under Christie near the bottom in job growth, while the things that actually fuel growth -- good schools, new infrastructure -- get short shrift.

Will Bunch @ 7:42 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, October 13, 2014, 3:07 PM
SRC chairman Bill Green calling for vote last week that voided teachers' contract. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)
As we were saying the other day, it sure looked fishy when the School Reform Commission pulled off that sneaky early morning meeting to kill its union contract with the teachers' union -- almost like it had something to hide. Now perhaps we know why. The always outstanding Philadelphia Public School Notebook crunched the numbers....and things don't add up! Check it out.
Will Bunch @ 3:07 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.


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