Archive: May, 2009
There was a bit of a stir here in Philadelphia on the day of the general election in November when a couple of members of the New Black Panther Party For Self-Defense showed up at a polling place to provide what they described as security. One of the guys had a baton. Video of the incident went big on the Internet and rocketed around the country, mostly pushed by pundits with partisan agendas. The U.S. Department of Justice in January sued the New Black Panther Party, alleging voter intimidation, and putting out a media release to trumpet the case.
The Department of Justice two weeks ago quietly dropped that lawsuit against two of the three party members it sued, Malik Zulu Shabazz of Washington, D.C. and Jerry Jackson of Philadelphia. A federal judge last week approved a judgment against the third party member, Minister King Samir Shabazz, aka Maurice Heath of Philadelphia, which forbids him from "displaying a weapon within 100 feet of any open polling location on any election day in the City of Philadelphia." Court filings by the feds say the three party members never responded to the Department of Justice lawsuit.
All this, by the way, was first reported today in the Washington Times and brought to our attention by an alert reader in Lincoln, Neb. You didn't know PhillyClout has a loyal following in Nebraska? Neither did we.
And because we can never get enough of this video, we again present the New Black Panther Party providing "security" at a North Philadelphia polling place. Enjoy.
PhillyClout's Friday wrap-up asks District Attorney Lynne Abraham and Seth Williams: Can we make a little peace here? The answer? Read on.
One judge, furious that she was cut from sample ballots in last week's primary election, went to polling places and confiscated election materials. Did it get help her win the election?
Mayor Nutter and the Philadelphia Housing Authority say they see results from an effort to help the homeless.
And the little girl swept away from Bucks County to Disney Land in a faked abduction comes home. Her mom is in deep trouble.
This just in from the White House:
Fact Sheet: United States to Host Next G20 Summit in Pittsburgh
The United States will host the next G20 Summit September 24-25, 2009, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the Pittsburgh Summit, President Obama will meet with leaders representing 85 percent of the world’s economy to take stock of progress made since the Washington and London Summits and discuss further actions to assure a sound and sustainable recovery from the global economic and financial crisis.
About the G20
Invited leaders represent approximately 85% of the world’s GDP and come from all regions of the globe. The United Nations Secretary General and heads of International Financial Institutions and appropriate International Organizations and groupings also participate.
G20 finance ministers have met regularly to coordinate policy since the Asian financial crisis in the 1990’s. At the leaders level, the G20 is not an institutionalized process, but a response to the global economic and financial crisis. The G20 leaders held their first summit in Washington in November 2008 and met again in April in London.
The city's budget woes prompted a local philanthropist earlier this year to revoke an offer to help fund a community re-entry program for prison inmates, according to Everett Gillison, the deputy mayor for public safety. Gillison was quizzed at this morning's Criminal Justice Advisory Board meeting by District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who had heard the city missed out on millions of dollars in funding from the Lenfest Foundation for the re-entry program.
Gillison said the foundation, founded by H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest and his wife, offered the city $1 million per year for three years. The catch: The city had to guarantee upfront that it would match that money with its own. "The offer was made during a time when we were in the throes of cutting everybody's budget," Gillison said. "I could not in good faith say that I could actually match $1 million."
Abraham was glad to hear from Gillison that Mayor Nutter plans to meet with Lenfest to try to get the offer restored. “It would be a pity to not take advantage of a very generous philanthropist’s offer to give away all his money," she said. “You can’t do any better for a struggling city than to get money from somebody that wants to give it to you.”
Bruce Melgary, executive director of the Lenfest Foundation, confirmed the offer was made in January and later withdrawn when the city was unable to match the funds. The foundation instead invested in the work of a University of Pennsylvania professor who is studying how to identify members of the community at risk for being incarcerated. Melgary didn't know if Nutter has a meeting scheduled with Lenfest, who is touring chateaus in France and won't be back in the country for another two weeks.
Mayor Nutter held a press conference this morning to tout the administration's anti-homelessness efforts. Here's the release:
MAYOR'S OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS
Thursday, May 28, 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAYOR NUTTER REPORTS BACK ON HOMELESSNESS PLAN, ANNOUNCES CONTINUING PARTNERSHIP WITH PHA
Philadelphia experiences 4.4% drop in homeless population since launch of plan
Philadelphia, May 28 – The City of Philadelphia published today the Year One Status Report on the Mayor’s Initiative to address homelessness in Philadelphia. The results include a 4.4% decrease in Philadelphia’s overall homeless population since the initiative was launched in May 2008 and an increase in the City’s permanent housing capacity of 51% for families and 26% for singles.
Turns out the Bucks County mom who cried abduction had actually gone to Disney World.
Dave Davies has a sad column about Steve Lopez's son, who was brutally beaten in Germantown and then had difficulty getting medical treatment due to his lack of health insurance.
The Philadelphia School District budget is approved.
More on U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak's plans to run against Sen. Arlen Specter for Senate in the Democratic primary.
Talking Points Memo is reporting that U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak is privately telling supporters that he plans to run for Senate in the Democratic primary in 2010 against the newly Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.
Here's an excerpt:
Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) is privately telling supporters that he intends to run for Senate, TPMDC has confirmed.
"He intends to get in the race," says Meg Infantino, the Congressman's sister, who works at Sestak for Congress. "In the not too distant future, he will sit down with his wife and daughter to make the final decision."
The move would constitute a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who intends to run for re-election in 2010, after having switched parties earlier this year.
Check out the full post here, which features a scan of note Sestak sent a supporter, confirming his plans to run.
We just got this release from the city. Check it out:
MAYOR NUTTER TO OPEN BIODIESEL FUELING STATION FOR MUNICIPAL VEHICLES
City Moves Forward on Sustainability Goals Set in “Greenworks Philadelphia” Plan
Philadelphia, May 27 - Today Mayor Michael A. Nutter opened a new biodiesel refueling station, the fifth in the City. Currently 200 trash and recycling trucks and construction vehicles use biofuel and this new station will be able to serve an additional 35 to 40 vehicles. Each vehicle running on alternative fuel produces 20% less hydrocarbons, an ozone precursor, and results in a 10% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gases. This furthers the goals laid out in the City’s ambitious sustainability plan Greenworks Philadelphia to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and to improve the overall air quality of the City.
This program was started through collaboration between the Health Department, Fleet Management and the Streets Department. The Health Department applied for the State’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant which entirely funds this operation, with Fleet Management and the Streets Department dealing with implementation.
“Today’s biofuels station opening shows the best of what City government can do,” said Mayor Nutter. “Working with the Commonwealth, Departments from across Philadelphia are taking tangible steps to achieve our sustainability goals.”
City Controller Alan Butkovitz just called reporters over to his office to release a report from his Tax Discovery Program that lays out ways the city can more aggressively collect unpaid taxes. Butkovitz cited unpaid wage taxes as one big example, saying the city loses out on $7 million to $8 million each year.
"There is, among other things, a significant underground economy in Philadelphia," Butkovitz said. "There are a lot of undocumented workers."
Butkovitz added that other cities and states studied by his staff perform regular investigations into undocumented employees. The Philadelphia's Department of Revenue, he added, had trouble citing statistics for how often such investigations are done here.
That was a serious concern for one of Butkovitz's guests at the meeting, Joseph Dougherty, business manger for the Ironworkers, Local 401. Dougherty joined in the news conference, complaining about unlicensed contractors hiring undocumented laborers from Mexico and Central America. Dougherty said his union reports such situations to the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Department of Revenue and the City Controller.
"They're very hard workers and they're forced out of their countries to make a living," Dougherty said of the undocumented laborers."Even though I sympathize with their plight, I can't sympathize enough to turn our work over to them."
Another top official in the Nutter administration is heading toward the City Hall exit. Andrew Altman, Nutter's deputy mayor for planning and economic development, is leaving the administration at the end of June* to become the founding CEO of the Olympic Park Legacy Company, which will oversee Olympic Park in East London for the 2012 games.
Rumors of Altman's exit have been swirling for months. He has had his hands full in Philly, coping with the controversial development of two casinos and Nutter's desire to shift more responsibility in development to the City Planning Commission. As the city's commerce director, Altman also served as chairman of the commission.
Nutter, in an announcement at City Hall just now, certainly seemed to understand why Altman was leaving.
"I think everyone would recognize this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity," Nutter said. "I imagine that when London is calling it is difficult not to answer that call."
Altman said it wasn't easy to leave, but "it's an opportunity for our family we felt we wanted to do."
Altman is certainly not alone in leaving the administration, now 17 months into its first term. Just last week, Nutter announced that Mark Alan Hughes will be leaving the administration next month. Hughes, who served as sustainability director, also took on a role of running policy in the administration. A former Daily News columnist, Hughes said he wanted to return to academia.
Nutter's previous policy chief, Wendell Pritchett, left the administration in August to return to teaching at the University of Pennsylvania's law school. He is now chancellor of the law school at Rutgers University.
*The original version of this post said Altman was leaving the city on August 1. He is actually leaving at the end of June and the new job begins on August 1.