IT'S THAT time of year again. Time to look ahead and resolve to be better, to do better.
In that vein, I am going to stop fighting my editor's suggestion that I rebrand myself as "Helen Help Us" - for this column only - and suggest some helpful resolutions for the coming year. Because that's what helpful people do.
1. Let's start with the big guy, Gov. Corbett, who should resolve to get out more in 2014. Maybe then he won't have to keep shaking poo off his shoes for saying silly things like people can't find jobs because they can't pass drug tests or that he can't find any Latinos to hire. I suggest starting 2014 out right by attending a Three Kings celebration or two on Jan. 6. It's a big holiday for Latinos, Guv. Look it up.
2. Speaking of poo, may I suggest people stop peddling it when they find themselves in a bind or are defending the indefensible.
For example, when Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown was fined for lying about using campaign funds to pay off a personal loan, her colleagues should have done better than cowardly circling the wagons or making irrelevant declarations of what a lovely woman she is.
When a Daily News story revealed that Ron Galati, who had a fraud conviction and mob ties, was getting a lot of money from the city to repair police cars, the city's response shouldn't have been to dismiss questions by saying he did good work.
When Monsignor William Lynn's child-endangerment conviction was overturned because of the limitations of a law that has since been expanded, supporters should've prayed on the whole thing before insisting he was tainted by the media or that he's innocent. Of a particular law, as it was written at the time, maybe. But, morally, and in the eyes of the children he was supposed to protect from pedophile priests? Not so much.
3. Stop recycling, Philly. And no, I don't mean cardboard and plastic. I mean people. For such a big, diverse city, we sure seem to like to recycle the same old folks, the same old names for whatever positions come open. The city is full of smart, ambitious young people. Some of them held an alternative to the annual and elite Pennsylvania Society dinner earlier this month. In addition, there are women and people of color who aren't nearly represented enough on everything from politics to panels.
4. Speaking of diversity, on the eve of the annual Mummers Parade, resolve to keep it classy out there, my sparkly paraders. (A friendly tip: Strutting, good. Racial impersonations, bad.)
5. Fellow Philadelphians, let's all resolve to make better headlines in 2014. There have been no shortage of examples of citizens behaving badly, from a viral video of a stun gun fight between Black Friday shoppers to onlookers failing to call for help when a transit cop got into an intense struggle with a fare evader. We are supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love, people. How's about we act like it?
6. Here's a resolution for the men and women in blue. Keep doing whatever you're doing to keep the homicide rate down. It's too early to throw a parade, but homicides are down to their lowest level since 1967. Let's enjoy that, but better yet, try to pinpoint the winning formula to keep it going.
I guess it's only fair that I make some resolutions for myself. It's often been suggested - once by Mayor Nutter - that I try to smile more. I'll give that a whirl. But be warned, that's so out of character, I might just end up scaring people.
On a grander scale, I resolve to hold city residents as accountable (well, almost) as I do politicians and city agencies. Mostly because this year, the residents who - often, not always - got the most results were ones who wouldn't take no for an answer, who didn't shrug off their civic responsibilities and who got creative when it came to improving their lives in the city. One shining example are my girls from the 3000 block of North Sydenham who diverted the mayor to their block from a nearby ceremony to call attention to some longstanding issues in their neighborhood. The ladies are going into a new year with a cleaner, safer block. May we all learn from their can-do example.
There you go. Helpful Helen at your service. Happy New Year everyone. Adelante to 2014.