Friday, March 6, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 10:35 AM
City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (left) greeting John J. Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the electricians union, at a fund-raiser hosted earlier this year by Dougherty for Clarke. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)

There’s no mystery as to why City Council President Darrell Clarke used a sham consultant’s study to kill the proposed sale of municipally owned Philadelphia Gas Works to a private utility. It was an exercise in sheer power. Clarke wanted to put to rest any doubts about his power in City Hall.

You need nine votes on the 17-member Council to get anything done, but Clarke doesn’t have to worry about that. Rarely does any other Council member utter a peep in opposition to their president’s desires. They stood with him Monday as he announced Council wouldn’t even vote on the PGW sale proposal. Only afterwards did some admit they hadn’t read the consultant’s report Clarke offered as evidence that the offer by UIL Holdings Corp. to buy PGW for $1.86 billion should be rejected.

Talk about Congress voting on legislation its members didn’t take the time to read, Philadelphia’s City Council wouldn’t even take a vote. So if Clarke is the most powerful person in City Hall, what does that make Mayor Nutter? The PGW deal was his work, the result of an effort that took the better part of two years. But Clarke from the beginning showed his disdain for the proposal because he had not been included in its formulation.

Harold Jackson @ 10:35 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 5:16 PM
Gov. Corbett touts his ability to create jobs, but voters may not think he has done enough.

Polls show Gov. Corbett is losing his bid for reelection. He’s likable enough, coming across as a grandfatherly good guy who may have made some mistakes but didn’t mean to hurt anyone. His opponent, Tom Wolf, scores well on the likability meter as well. But this won’t be a popularity contest. There are distinctions between the candidates on taxes, education funding, and pension reform that give voters a clear choice. Above them all, though, is the state’s economy. It’s not doing as well as it should six years after the recession -- and President Obama isn’t the only incumbent being blamed.

Corbett can’t dodge some pretty damning numbers. For example: The state has gone from producing 1,900 new jobs a month in 2012 to gaining more than 5,000 a month through July of this year, but it was adding 6,600 jobs a month back in 2010. In fact, numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics rank Pennsylvania 50th in the nation in job creation since January 2011. That’s a dramatic fall from December 2009 to December 2010, when the state ranked 10th in job creation. Job creation has not made up for job losses. Consequently, despite a lower unemployment rate of 5.7 percent compared with the January 2011 rate of 8.1 percent, Pennsylvania has about 20,000 fewer jobs than in December 2007.

Not only that, the Keystone Research Center says one out of eight employees in the state is underemployed, including many part-time workers who want full-time jobs. The center also reports an overall decline in hourly wages, which has Pennsylvania’s full-time workers taking home about $750 to $1,150 less per year than in 2010. That’s money that won’t be spent on goods and services to boost the economy. Despite his playing point man for the natural-gas industry, Corbett hasn’t delivered the goods in bringing jobs to Pennsylvania -- at least not in numbers large enough to make people feel good about the economy. And as we all know, elections are about the economy.

Harold Jackson
Harold Jackson @ 5:16 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 4:53 PM
George Wallace (Daily Telegraph / file)

I haven’t seen so much demagoguery since George Wallace was running for president by calling out “pointy-headed liberals.”

I’m talking about all the so-called defenders of Philadelphia teachers who are decrying the School Reform Commission’s decision to make teachers help pay for their health insurance.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Most American workers became accustomed to paying part of their insurance premiums, as well as co-pays for doctors’ visits, a long time ago. Now, how the SRC did the deed is disturbing – with little warning to the teachers’ union – and by voiding its expired contract.

Harold Jackson @ 4:53 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 11:02 AM
A tourist holds up a Chinese flag as he poses for photos in front of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong's portrait on Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, China. (AP)

A visit to The Inquirer by a delegation of Chinese journalists this week may have provided some insight into how many in that nation think of Americans.

Du Feijin, a director of news for the People’s Daily in Beijing, noted in one conversation that Shensi Province could be considered the “Philadelphia of China” in that it was there that rebel leader Mao Zedung established the communist government that runs the powerful Asian nation even to this day.

Told that many Americans have a hard time understanding how the current communist government justifies the apparent contradiction of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba’s selling its stock on the New York exchange, Du said there was no conflict. He said the concept of a “socialist market economic system” had existed in China since Chinese President Jiang Zemin introduced the concept in 1992.

Harold Jackson @ 11:02 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, September 20, 2014, 11:12 AM
Washington's football team needs to get with the times. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

When Philadelphia and Washington meet Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, neither the football players nor the fans are likely to spend much time talking about the teams’ nicknames. All they will want to do is win the game.

Team nicknames may become a more viable topic after all the Monday morning quarterbacks have dissected the game. But throughout the rollercoaster ride of emotions called an NFL season, it will be difficult for reason to prevail among diehard fans.

During the season is the worst time to ask fans of one of the NFL’s oldest franchises to call their team something else. It’s the worst time to ask them to discard the name their team has had through 50 years of history, during which it won three Super Bowls — three more than Philadelphia has ever won.

Harold Jackson @ 11:12 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, September 15, 2014, 1:27 PM
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was briefly detained in a Texas jail after being charged with injuring a child, according to the Montgomery County (Texas) Sheriff's Office. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images, file)

Anyone old enough to remember when corporal punishment of children was not only common in most homes, but also in many schools, is probably intrigued by the Adrian Peterson case. Peterson is the Minnesota Vikings star running back who has been indicted by a Texas grand jury for alleged child abuse in the beating of his 4-year-old son.

Peterson’s lawyer issued a statement that said the “loving father” had “used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.”  That’s not a very good defense, however, since views about proper discipline of a child have changed drastically, even in East Texas,  from what they were two or three decades ago when Peterson was a child. He is 29.

Even in the 1950’s, when I grew up -- and many parents still subscribed to the old “Spare the rod, spoil the child” philosophy -- it was understood that there are limits. No good parent would want to strike a child so as to draw blood, which apparently occurred when Peterson used a slender switch from a tree to administer punishment. Some reports say he struck the boy more than 10 times, which also would go far and beyond what most parents even decades ago would do to a 4-year-old.

Harold Jackson @ 1:27 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 12:11 PM
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his wife, Janay Palmer-Rice. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

Call it ironic, or unfortunate, but it certainly raised a few eyebrows to see the release of the Ray Rice wife-beating video occur in the same week that the NCAA reduced its sanctions against Penn State for unwittingly providing the campus settings for a former football coach to sexually abuse boys.

Actually seeing the former Baltimore Ravens running back punch his then-fiancée Janay Palmer in the face confirmed what had long been suspected, that Atlantic County officials should not have allowed Rice to avoid prosecution by entering an intervention program. The pro football player’s star status seems to have clouded their judgment. In allowing Rice to avoid a criminal record, the prosecutors provided yet another example of how spousal abuse is too often excused.

No doubt the unwillingness of Parker, who is now married to Rice, to testify against him was a factor. But having an abused spouse refuse to cooperate in the prosecution of her abuser isn’t anything new. When other evidence of a crime is available, justice demands that it be acted upon. Prosecutors had the video of Rice punching Palmer inside an elevator of the Revel Hotel and Casino. They should have used it.

Harold Jackson @ 12:11 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 11:16 AM
Federal prosecutors say Congressman Chaka Fattah schemed to evade campaign finance limits during his 2007 mayoral campaign. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / File Photograph)

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, goes the old saying. Oh, really. That’s not always the case when it comes to political corruption cases against black public officials. In the 1980s, I covered Birmingham’s first black mayor, Richard Arrington Jr., who was investigated by federal authorities who seemed convinced that the smoke they saw indicated a fire. But Arrington was never prosecuted. One has to assume former Philadelphia Mayor John Street would have been indicted had that bug in his office produced any tangible evidence. And what about the late Bill Gray, whose abrupt decision to leave Congress in 1991 fueled speculation that the Feds were about to pounce? Speculation about Gray persists, even though the Justice Department, at the time led by Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, a Gray nemesis, issued a statement more than 20 years ago that said Gray was not a target.

Chaka Fattah now represents the same Philadelphia district that Gray served. But unfortunately for Fattah, a federal investigation of his office has not only produced smoke, it may be about to burst into flames. Richard Naylor, a former aide to Fattah, has pleaded guilty to concealing misuse of campaign contributions and federal funds. Naylor says he conspired with a person identified in court filings as “Elected Official A.” Naylor said some of the money was used to pay off the college loans of the elected official’s son. Prosecutors have not revealed the identity of Elected Official A, but much of the known evidence against Naylor concerns his work in 2007, when he was Fattah’s chief strategist in a failed run for mayor of Philadelphia.

Fattah has issued a statement: "In all my years as a public servant I have never engaged in any illegal conduct." But he  has not otherwise commented on the federal investigation. Meanwhile, Philadelphians can’t help but wonder why some public officials succumb to temptation. Most politicians don’t run for office solely for their own benefit. Could it be that some of them stay in office too long, thus increasing the opportunities to be tempted? Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean term limits are the solution. Rather, it’s the responsibility of voters to stay informed and retire politicians who put themselves above their constituencies. That’s not always easy, especially with many news organizations reducing their political coverage. But fewer politicians would choose deceit if they knew they were being watched.

Harold Jackson @ 11:16 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

The Inquirer Editorial Board's Say What? opinion blog showcases the work of the editors and writers who produce the newspaper's daily and Sunday opinion pages.

Find out more about The Inquirer's Editorial Board here.

The Inquirer Editorial Board
Also on
Stay Connected