Monday, March 2, 2015

POSTED: Monday, January 6, 2014, 11:10 AM
Cranford Coulter of Souderton prepares food for the homeless in Center City. (CLAUDIA VARGAS / Staff)

I wish members of Congress during their holiday break from Washington DC had done a little self-education.

If so, they would have taken the same Food Stamp challenge that Mayor Nutter, other politicians and many local residents took a year ago.

The challenge takers lived for a number of days on the amount of food stamps the average recipient gets. They experienced fatigue, depression, hunger. Of course, since then, benefits have been cut further, and recipients are dealing with further threats of cuts ("'Heat and Eat' cuts might hit hard").

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POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 2:35 AM
Alan Greenspan (left) was succeeded as head of the Fed by Ben Bernanke, whose own term ends soon. (Bloomberg)

Mark Zandi's optimism about Dodd-Frank reforms (Currents, 12/29) of the financial system are not well taken.

As we speak, efforts to weaken the Volcker Rule -- by reducing or eliminating the differences between workable (QRM) and less workable mortgages (QM), by loosening the restrictions on investment banking to deal with the very derivatives that forced banks to accept government bailouts, by allowing banks to risk client money in other banks' risky securities (even if they are not allowed to trade in their own accounts). Zandi's confidence that banks have huge capital cushions is brought into question by banks like Zions Bancorp, who were counting on valuing their failed investments in mortgage backed securities at full value, when many of those same investments had no prospects of being anything more than worthless pieces of paper.

Consumers are not cheerful, indeed. Our unemployment figures in this country count only those making claims for unemployment insurance.

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POSTED: Monday, January 6, 2014, 2:55 AM
Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" was put on hiatus from A&E before they reversed their decision, while Paula Deen was dropped by Food Network after admitting to using racial slurs.

So another “liberal” has issued an apology because some people might be offended (Melissa Harris Perry) by something they said or that happened on their show. And another self-identified conservative Christian (Papa Duck) has proudly stood by his statements and been enfolded back into the flock, fold, whatever, of A&E.

I guess that liberals are supposed to know better and therefore need to apologize or/and be fired if some people might be offended by something. And Christian conservatives just need to say it is in the Bible (or an interpretation of some particular part of the pre-Christian old testament) and it is ok with no consequence.Even getting down on the Pope for being a bit too Christian.

Maybe Paula Dean should have figured out how to point to a Biblical passage somewhere so she could continue her cardiac-inducing cooking career.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 2:55 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, January 5, 2014, 2:50 AM
People enter an unemployment registry office in Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

Measuring the impact of prematurely eliminating federally-funded unemployment benefits is not merely an issue of dollars and cents, although certainly that sum is worthy of a moment’s consideration.

As Monday’s editorial notes (“Cutting jobless aid will be costly”), the 1.3 million long-term unemployed who rely on this infusion of cash-$25 billion across the U.S.-spend those dollars meeting basic needs. And if Congress fails to reinstate the program, another 3.6 million people will lose access to these long-term benefits before the end of 2014.

But beyond the food, heat, and mortgage and car payments made possible by these federal dollars, we should consider the devastating effect of falling through the safety net while not knowing how much farther one can plummet. Investing in these families now, before they hit bottom, is a far more efficient use of resources, and a far better demonstration of a shared belief in the value of the common good.

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POSTED: Friday, January 3, 2014, 11:49 AM
Mayor Nutter poses with young artist and winners of the Parks and Recreation's Kids Mummers Poster contest during a press conferences at the Independence Visitors Center to annound plans for the 2014 Mummers Parade. ( RON TARVER / Staff Photographer )

Once again, it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions. As mayor, I resolve to make Philadelphia the best city it can be – smarter, safer, greener, cleaner and more welcoming. This year, I also want to make a resolution on behalf of the city – a resolution to help prepare young Philadelphians for their future by offering high-quality summer jobs to every interested young person.

Studies show that early work experience can improve academic performance, increase future earning potential and wage growth and, overall, improve employment rates. But our young people have less access to these kinds of on-the-job learning and skill-building opportunities than their suburban counterparts.

Through WorkReady Philadelphia, the city’s youth workforce development system, we are able to offer academically-enriched summer jobs to young Philadelphians, ages 14-21. These enriched summer jobs provide young people with invaluable real world work experience, knowledge and skills and connect them with successful mentors while teaching them about responsibility, workplace decorum and the value of a dollar.

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POSTED: Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 1:26 PM

City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown has introduced a bill to allow bill boards, building wraps and other signs on school district owed or controlled buildings. The bill specifically exempts the signs from the Zoning Code. The Councilwoman's intent is to raise much needed funds for the schools, a laudable goal that might well backfire.

There is school district controlled property in almost every residential neighborhood, including East Falls. Do you want to see a billboard from your bedroom window or as you walk around your neighborhood? This bill, as written, would allow billboards in places where they have been prohibited for decades.
Concerned about this proposal, the Crosstown Coalition of neighborhood civics arranged a meeting with the Councilwoman's staff to talk about it.

First, we asked if anyone had considered the impact of such advertising, or even the possibility of such advertising, on nearby residential property values or future residential development? In fact, someone has. The Fels Institute did a study last year and concluded that there would be a negative effect, that there is a statistically significant negative impact between proximity to bill boards and property values. The property value reduction was $30,000+ for homes within 500 feet of a billboard and the more billboards in a census tract, the lower the values. I suspect that the impact is way higher for higher value residences. Would you want to buy a home across from a bill board, if you had a choice, for any price? Would a developer considering a residential project want to build near a legal bill board site?

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POSTED: Monday, December 30, 2013, 11:54 AM

The article on revenue from taxi medallions flowing to the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) didn't cover the whole issue of why such a predatory agency is permitted to exist in the city.

Although it has the reputation of being a Republican patronage haven, the Democrats feed at the trough also. I once read the PPA was the price the Democrats pay to ensure Republicans run candidates who can't win. Remember GOP mayoral candidate Karen Brown?

Parking regulations exist to help businesses with reasonable turnover of customers. But it seems to me that the PPA exists solely to write more tickets, which equals more patronage. Our politicians talk about economic development and good government while remaining silent about PPA. Why? Because they all have their hands in the patronage cookie jar.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 11:54 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, December 19, 2013, 3:29 PM
President Obama (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

After three decades of Reaganomics installed permanent civil service workers dedicated to make the federal government fail, virtually unbroken even in the Clinton and Obama administrations, due to Republican parliamentary abuse, the government is poorly staffed, disorganized and dysfunctional.

Harry Truman also faced the prospect of a disorganized government with a dysfunctional do-nothing Congress. He was not faced with an economic collapse when he came into office, and the wars in Europe and Asia had been resolved. He called on a bipartisan commission of business, political, and legal minds to put together the Hoover Commission — to reorganize the responsibilities of Congressional oversight, and to reorganize the machinery of government, which President Eisenhower was glad to take advantage of.

The contrast with Barack Obama is clear and obvious. Obama did not have the luxury of resolved wars or of tentative postwar recovery, to pay serious attention to government dysfunction. He had national dysfunction to deal with. In addition, he was burdened with the extra impediments which Republicans provided by a badly designed Bush TARP program, by refusing to approve 1000 mid-level appointments, and by refusing to approve regular Congressional business — budget, appropriations, and authorizations; increases in the debt ceiling; routine foreign treaties, many negotiated in the Bush Administration — which held his attention because regular business comes first.

Inquirer Editorial Board @ 3:29 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
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