Sunday, February 7, 2016

POSTED: Thursday, January 23, 2014, 11:50 AM
University of Pennsylvania runner Madison Holleran, 19, with her father, James, at Lehigh University at a track meet during the 2013-14 school year. (Instragram)

A memorial scholarship, sponsored by Penn track-and-field alumni, has been founded in memory of freshman Madison Holleran, who died by suicide on Jan. 17th. From their fundraising page on the website of the American  Foundation for Suicide Prevention:

"The alumni of the University of Pennsylvania Track and Field team are deeply saddened by the loss of Madison Holleran, a freshman runner on the women’s team. Such an intelligent, talented, and graceful student athlete is hard to come by, yet we were fortunate enough to call Madison one of our own.

"Only a fellow student athlete could begin to understand the pressures to be successful both on and off the field while balancing the other demands of college life. While most of our alumni did not know Madison personally, we wish she could have known firsthand the strength of this greater Penn Track and Field community. We wish we had been there with our collective experiences to lean on during her greatest time of need. Indeed, it is mainly through the strength and encouragement of the Penn Track and Field family that we persevered through our own struggles and truly appreciated the significance of our own achievements, both on and off the field, during and after college. No one should feel like it is his or her struggle to go alone; we—like no other—have been in those shoes.

POSTED: Monday, June 24, 2013, 1:32 PM
Ovarian-cancer patient Linda Belz, shown here with her father, Bob Belz, was overwhelmed by the support she received . . . and the reality that her life was ending. (Yong Kim/Staff)

My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Port Richmond's Linda Belz, 30, who died Friday, June 21, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. I had the honor of meeting Linda when she entered Vitas Hospice in Frankford Hospital, and I was so moved by her dying wish:

To raise enough money to pay for her funeral expenses, so that her struggling parents wouldn't have to.

Linda didn't have a worry for herself - only for those who she knew would be caused heartache by her passing. Her humility and kindness were extraordinary.

POSTED: Monday, June 17, 2013, 8:06 PM

We all have our own Philadelphia Parking Authority horror stories. This is Kevin Mill's tale of mean-spiritedness, from a PPA enforcement agent named M. Sadowski.

Last week, Mill's adorable  9-year-old daughter, Kaya, broke her ankle when jumping down the steps at Carnell Elementary School at Devereaux and Summerdale in the Northeast, where she's a third-grader. She got herself a nifty cast but was still unsteady on her crutches  - especially on steps - when she returned to school on June 11th.

So Mills, being a good dad, drove her there, parked the Nissan Quest at the curb out front, switched on the hazard lights, carried Kaya up the steps and into the school and returned, minutes later, to find a $36 ticket for Parking in a School Zone.

POSTED: Monday, June 17, 2013, 7:14 PM

John Bruhns, a former officer in the Pennsylyania Board of Probation and Parole, offered testimony at last week's City Council hearings about how impossible it was for him to do his job - because his lenient supervior wouldn't let him.

His first-person account, posted on his website The All American Politico, is on the long side but is a must-read -iIf you want to be deeply depressed, that is.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee, or a stiff drink, and read it here.

POSTED: Monday, June 10, 2013, 12:01 PM
Photo snapped by OSHA inspector of the Market St. site before the collapse.


On Saturday, Mayor Nutter called to discuss my column about how to make it easier for everyday citizens to report unsafe-looking work-site conditions to Licenses and Inspections. He said he was intrigued by New York's construction-site signage program, which I'd referred to in my column, and wanted to learn more about it. So I shared some links with him.

Nutter also wanted to talk about the lone day  - May 14th - that an L&I inspector visited the Market St. construction site in response to a citizen complaint about unsafe-looking condition. Much has been written about the fact that L&I issued no violations after that visit. But on that day, demolition had not even begun on the four-story Hoagie City property (whose wall collapsed three weeks later onto the roof of the Salvation Army Thrift Store next door, killing six people). As proof, Nutter had L&I spokeswoman Maura Kennedy email me a photo that was taken the day after the L&I inspection, when OSHA inspectors visited the site. The photo, which is time-stamped, shows Hoagie City to be clearly intact - so much so, you can even see, in the photo, that the fourth-floor lights are on.

POSTED: Thursday, June 6, 2013, 12:26 PM

Many thanks to loyal  reader(and WXPN producer and host) Robert Drake for alerting me to this wonderful old photo of the corner of 22nd and Market Sts., depicting the Salvation Army Thrift Store, which has stood sentry at the intersection since at least 1955. The photo can be found at, a fabulous compendium of historic photos and minutia about the city.

So sad that the store, which had survived decades of economic upturns and dips and the constant churn of change on Market St., was not able to survive the demolition of the building next door, which collapsed upon it yesterday, killing six and injuring more.

POSTED: Friday, April 5, 2013, 1:11 PM

It's been a rough month for my former co-workers at Philadelphia Magazine. First came author Bob Huber's controversial piece in the March issue, "Being White in Philly." It raised the hackles of many readers and journalists (including yours truly)  who took issue with how it was written and reported.

And now, editor Tom McGrath has published an apology for and retraction of a fabricated piece in the current issue by author Anthony Gargano entitled "The War Within." Read McGrath's explanation here.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 11:40 AM

During Monday's opening arguments in the trial of “House of Horrors” doc  Kermit Gosnell, his defense attorney, Jack McMahon, defended the deplorable condition of Gosnell’s West Philly abortion clinic. He said the prosecution’s experts unfairly expected Gosnell to uphold  “Mayo Clinic standards” at the clinic he ran for poor women in the “nitty-gritty” neighborhood of tk.

"They don't run an urban clinic; a low-cost, urban, poverty-stricken clinic," McMahon said. “They want to put Mayo Clinic standards on a West Philadelphia clinic. If you want Mayo Clinic standards, go to the Mayo Clinic.”

The way he said it, you’d think that every non-Mayo Clinic abortion center is as filthy as Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Center was at 38th and Lancaster. Here’s how the hell-hole was described in the DA's 2011 grand jury report:

About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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