I don't write about Mayor Nutter as often as I should (if only he'd been at Kent State, right?), but when I do, I often make some variation of the same point: That he's been the most honest mayor Philadelphia has seen in a half-century, by far (yes, that includes this guy) -- and yet in spite of fulfilling a dream of many of us who wanted to see good government in Philadelphia, he's been more than vaguely disappointing.
Some of that clearly wasn't his fault -- he didn't cause the long recession that struck not just Philly but the nation and the world, in his very first year in office -- but some of it clearly was indeed his fault, especially a lack of vision.
After years of all of us decrying corruption as the problem, why was Philadelphia's first squeaky-clean mayor since the JFK administration such a let down?
...knows nothing about the economy. Who could have seen that coming? :-)
It was just this time last week that I told you about a Harrisburg scandal -- first reported by the StateImpactPA website -- that was flying under the radar screen. It seems as if Pennsylvania state workers were going out of their way to avoid talking with citizens who had health concerns about the air they were breathing and the water they were drinking.
The reports said that roughly a year after the aggressively pro-fracking Tom Corbett administration took office, workers with the state Health Department were given a list of "buzzwords" about fracking that kicked calls from the public to another office, where they seemed to mostly disappear down a black hole, and that workers were also barred from attending public meetings about fracking.
Now comes a new bombshell, courtesy of the Associated Press:
Germany wins the World Cup in dramatic fashion, 1-0 over Argentina in extra time. To paraphase Robert Redford in "The Candidate"...what do we do for the next four years?
God knows it's taken a while, but the president is finally doing the right thing, for once. Earlier this week, he addressed the nation and announced that he's taking a direct, personal role to address the humanitarian needs of thousands of refugees from Central America that the United States has scooped up near our southern border -- little kids and teenagers, now warehoused in unpleasant conditions.
Here is some of what the president had to say in his address: “Through no fault of their own, they are caught in political crossfire...We’re going to fill some tractor-trailers with food, with water. The churches have asked us if we could bring teddy bears and soccer balls, so we’ve loaded up a whole tractor-trailer of nothing but teddy bears and soccer balls. And then I’m going to go serve breakfast and lunch, and I’m going to help unload these trucks, hot meals for 3,000. That’s what we’re doing.”
Of course, I'm sure you realize that when I talk about "the president," I mean the president of Glenn Beck Enterprises, the syndicated radio and internet TV host Glenn Beck. While Beck was announcing his humanitarian efforts for kids fleeing the gang- and drug-related violence of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, the president of the United States, Barack Obama was...OK, I'm not exactly, sure what he was doing.
Definitely the theme of the week (and there's more to come) is adults who are failing the world's children, and it's not just on our southern flank. In Harrisburg, our elected officials were given a choice between making sure that schoolkids in Philadelphia have a nurse or a librarian, or making a tobacco lobbyist happy. Can you possibly guess what they chose? This is a new low for Pennsylvania...I didn't think that was possible.
Maybe Glenn Beck can send us some some cotton swabs and soccer balls to the classrooms of West Philly.
For years, Philadelphia and the surrounding region have sold itself to tourists on our colonial charms -- walk the cobblestone streets of Old City, check out the crack in the Liberty Bell, or stroll the hallowed hillsides of Valley Forge where George Washington's troops camped out! Maybe they should add the region's circa-1789 power grid to the list. There are more and more nights when Ben Franklin had more electricity in that glass bottle than do residents of Philly's suburbs.
Last Thursday night, on the eve of the Independence Day weekend, a storm rumbled through my neighborhood of insufficient strength to even wake me up, yet it was powerful enough to knock out the lights for me and about 160,000 of my closest friends. Presumably because PECO had given lots of folks off for the long weekend -- probably because no one expected a 10-minute rainstorm to knock out power to tens of thousands of people!!! -- it took 60 hours...count 'em, 60 -- to get the power back.
OK, stuff happens, but last night there was a storm of similar, middling, intensity -- the pavement wasn't even wet when I got off my train last night -- and the lights were off again! The news said that 240,000 lost power for a time (the vast majority in the counties served by PECO...hmmm), which, again, seemed like a lot for a briefly intense but otherwise forgettable weather event. This time there was no electricity for only 6 hours, not 60. I guess I was supposed to be relieved.
In the last 24 hours, there’ve been two comments that I can’t get out of my head. They were about two very different situations but in my mind they keep running together – because they both had to do with immigrants and with children.
Only one of the comments surprised me.
I was kept here at the newspaper until late last night, helping assemble our story about a tense scene in Southwest Philadelphia involving the police and a crowd of residents – mostly immigrants from West Africa, mainly Liberia -- who are overcome with grief and anger about a fire last weekend that killed four kids, and asking questions about the city’s response.