Philadelphia Metropolis

February 2010 Archives

The Gun Wars II: In A Sea Of Weapons

By Tom Ferrick Jr. Lt. Vincent Testa admits to being something of a neat freak, so you can imagine how he felt two and a half years ago when he walked into his new command at the Philadelphia police department's... (Comments)

Wynn to the Rescue

Love it or hate it, it looks like there will be a Foxwoods casino on Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia.  Las Vegas casino-mogul Steve Wynn has stepped in to partner with the local group seeking to build the casino.  In... (Comments)

Get Out the Blue Ribbon

This time it is a blue-ribbon committee on youth violence, created at the urging of Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman.  Ackerman announced creation of the committee Wednesday (Feb. 24) at a news conference where she was flanked by Police Commissioner... (Comments)

Irrational Exuberance?

The latest Pew poll shows Philadelphians are generally optimistic about the city and its future, but some of the other data makes you wonder why.  On the positive side, 41 percent of the respondents said the city was on the... (Comments)

The Gun Wars III: Making Enforcement Work

By Tom Ferrick Jr. In late 2006, Kenneth Goodman stopped by the police district near where he lives in Southwest Philadelphia to report the theft of two guns from his girlfriend's house. He was lying. The guns were not stolen.... (Comments)

Enter the Spoiler

Pa2010 reports today (Feb. 23) that state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams has made it official and is entering the race for governor.  The Philadelphia Democrat joins a field that includes Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel and Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato... (Comments)

Russian Roulette on I80

Pennsylvania has placed a high-stakes bet on the federal government approving the Rendell administration plan to turn Interstate 80 into a toll road. Paul Nussbaum offers a background piece on the situation today (Feb. 22) in The Inquirer. If federal transit... (Comments)

Life from My Parent's Window

By Sean Breslin After being on my own for nearly a decade, I'm now living in my parents' house just outside of Trenton. I moved in around Thanksgiving, thinking I'd stay for a few weeks while I looked for a... (Comments)

Eye in the Sky: A New Way to Combat Crime

By Brian James Kirk When it comes to fighting crime, Philadelphia is undergoing a video revolution. Within a few short years, the city is likely to be blanketed by a network of  more than a thousand state-of-the-art, high resolution cameras,... (Comments)

The Bran Muffin State?

By William Ecenbarger  The Pennsylvania General Assembly can again become a national leader this year by passing a newly introduced bill that would designate the Pennsylvania Long Rifle as the official state firearm. No other state has such a symbol... (Comments)

The Saga Continues

The Inquirer offers a wrap up of its own long-standing and contentious bankruptcy case in today's paper (Feb. 21). It's a good summary of what's been happening in the case and it also marks the first anniversary of the declaration... (Comments)

Eye in the Sky II: How Other Cities Make It Work

By Brian James Kirk If you wonder about the impact of public video surveillance on crime look to Baltimore and Chicago. Law enforcement officials in these cities, which have mature and widespread surveillance operations, said that their camera units... (Comments)

A True Water Cooler Story

It's the tale out of the Lower Merion School District about school officials spying on a 15-year-old student at Harriton High using the camera on his school-issued laptop. Each day brings a new twist.  Today  (Feb 20), the Inquirer reported... (Comments)

Eye in the Sky III: How Technology Makes It Happen

By Brian James Kirk Citywide video surveillance is a relatively new field that is changing rapidly due to recent technological advances. The first closed-circuit television system was deployed in New York in 1968. It wasn't until 1996 that the... (Comments)

What's at Stake in Bonusgate

By G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young Call it the 99 percent rule. Ninety-nine percent of criminal trials only matter to a small cadre of participants. Defendants, victims, judges, defense lawyers, and prosecutors all play their respective roles. And,... (Comments)

Deal or No Deal

The revelation of the day (Feb 19) is that U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak was offered a government job if he dropped his candidacy against Arlen Specter in the Democratic U.S. Senate race. Sestak told veteran newsman Larry Kane that he... (Comments)

The Gathering Storm

By Tom Ferrick Jr. An item in Metropolis about Rick Santorum visiting Iowa and New Hampshire to test the waters for a run for President in 2012 struck a chord somewhere deep in the messy attic that is my mind.... (Comments)

He's Baaack

 The Harrisburg Patriot reports that former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum is making trips to Iowa and New Hampshire in the coming weeks to test support for a run for President in 2012. (It seems like far away, but you have... (Comments)

The Pavement Brigade

By Nancy DeGregorio Recently Philadelphia experienced something rare - two blizzards within a week that amounted to nearly three feet of snow. It caused a big headache for those of us who are normally used to the small headaches of... (Comments)

No Beer Allowed

In Heaven there is no beer, which means it must be under the control of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  The state's antedeluvian liquor laws no longer serve their original purpose -- to limit alcohol consumption as a fallback to the... (Comments)

Philadelphia 2020: Chapter One

The following is a fictional account.   Chapter One His face was frozen.  His jaw clenched.  His brow furrowed. Chief Deputy Mayor Marty Calubra looked at the one-page document in silent shock for a full two minutes before he erupted... (Comments)

Some Good News

After the deep freeze in new construction caused by the recession, there is sign of a thaw. The Inquirer has a front-page story today about Bart Blatstein's $30-million project on the site of the Schmidt's Brewery at 2nd and Girard in Northern Liberties.  It... (Comments)

Philadelphia 2020: Chapter Two

The following is a fictional account.   Chapter Two Before anyone saw what was happening, they heard it - a violent popping sound that reverberated throughout the gym.  A moment later came the crash. A large light fixture came tumbling... (Comments)

Philadelphia 2020: Chapter Three

The following is a fictional account.   Chapter 3 His hair was white, his mustache and beard were flecked with grey.  But, John Street looked spry, fit and alert as he sat in his la-Z-boy listening to Marty Calubra and... (Comments)

There Is No Free Beer

  By Tara Jo Quinn When my brother and I were kids we had a favorite grocery store greeting card.  It said: "Free Beer!" In high school, I believed that the post-21 version of myself would get lots of... (Comments)

Harrisburg Mulls "B" Word

The word is bankruptcy.  The state capital is in serious financial trouble.  It owes $68 million plus in annual payments on a huge trash-to-steam incinerator it built years ago. Yet, the city's total annual budget is only $65 million. Go... (Comments)

Philadelphia 2020: Chapter Four

The following is a fictional account.   Chapter 4 The men around the table sat silently studying the sheet of paper in front of them.  None of them was smiling and they had no reason to be. Typed on each... (Comments)

Philadelphia 2020: Chapter Five

The following is a fictional account.   Chapter 5 Calubra was right.  In quick order, Council agreed to raise the real estate tax by $140 million.  Department heads agreed to slice another $100 million out of their budgets. The final... (Comments)

Philadelphia 2020: Facts & Figures

Philadelphia 2020 is a fictional account, but behind it are real numbers. Here is a rundown of the budget trends that serve as the factual basis for the short story.... (Comments)

Tiny Town in the Red

Smaller is not always better. Witness Joele Farrell's Inquirer story Thursday (Feb. 11) about the borough of Norwood in Delaware County. The town has 5,700 residents and it's boundaries are less than one-square mile, but it has its budget woes.  It... (Comments)

Coming Home

  By Nina Betensky When I moved from Abington to Florida many years ago, I thought that life couldn't possibly get any better. To actually live in a place where people went on vacation was like a dream.  Having the... (Comments)

Why We Need Immigrants

By Aaron Kase It's tempting to write off City Council's January 28 resolution in support of immigration reform as an empty gesture.  The resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, reads, "The Council of the City of Philadelphia recognizes and honors... (Comments)

First, We Tax the Lawyers

Nestled in Gov. Rendell's $29 billion state budget he proposed Tuesday (Feb.9) lies a  paradox.  He wants to lower the state sales tax rate from six percent to four percent, yet increase sales tax revenue by $534 million. How can he perform... (Comments)

The Post-Racial Mayor

Question: Name the area of the city where Phildelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is the most popular? Answer: Northeast Philadelphia, where he has a job approval rating of 59 percent.  That is an astonishing factoid found in the latest Pew poll,... (Comments)

Memo to Sen. Williams

By Chris Freind If you're wondering why race relations in America haven't improved, look no further than the recent comments of state Senator Anthony Hardy Williams' concerning  the current field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates. While fueling speculation that Williams, a... (Comments)

Rep. John Murtha Dies

The Democratic congressman from Johnstown was 77.  He died today (Feb.8) in a hospital in Washington, D.C., where he had been a patient following sugery last week.  On the Hill, Murtha was known to his critics as the "King of... (Comments)

Dying in Pieces

By Tom Ferrick Jr. Outsiders like to oversimplify Philadelphia.  They tend to see it as two cities - a glittering Center City that is akin to Boston and everywhere else a Detroit, an urban basket case. That is a false... (Comments)

Nutter at Mid-Term: Whatever Happened to the Reformer?

  By Michael Schaffer Two years into the term of Mayor Michael Nutter, the mood among many of his most fervent onetime supporters verges on the despondent. After a campaign that promised reform and renewal, the mayor has spent much... (Comments)

Feel the Warmth

At last, some verbal hugs for U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. The Democratic (nee Republican) incumbent got the endorsement from Democratic State Committee at a meeting in snowbound Lancaster Saturday (Fe. 6).  It was no small feat.  The rules required a... (Comments)

Photo Essay: City of Snow

City of Snow
As the Saturday (Feb.6) snowstorm swept into the city, Philadelphians took to the streets with their cameras to capture images of the event. With the help of Flickr we share some of their images of this city of snow.... (Comments)

White Stuff Outside My Door

By Bob Holt Back in December I recommended that we poo-pooh or blow off the next forecast of three to six inches of snow because we'd just seen about two feet of snow in the area. How could we possibly... (Comments)

Nutter at Mid-Term II: The Man Who Can't Say 'No'

 By Michael Schaffer To read the clips from his City Council days, Michael Nutter was a legislative wizard. According to his own hype upon his 2008 inauguration, he was a municipal savior. And in the refrain of City Hall chatterers... (Comments)

Her Urban Snow Moment

By Joy A. Vagefi It was the first, big snowfall of the season in Philadelphia. Raised in Alaska and a recent transplant from Utah, I was no stranger to white winters. So when my neighborhood was transformed into a virtual... (Comments)

Nutter at Mid-Term III: Can Anyone Beat Him in 2011?

By Michael Schaffer In Philadelphia mayors get re-elected. That's just the rule. They can burn down a neighborhood. They can get bugged by the FBI. No matter: Incumbents win. By most estimations, Michael Nutter should fit that pattern. He's raised... (Comments)

Oh My God!

It is going to snow. It is going to start today (Feb 6) and continue through most of tomorrow (Feb 7). It is going to be deep. It is going to be white. It is going to make it difficult to travel. So you... (Comments)

To Xfinity And Beyond!

Customers will no longer be able to complain about Comcast. The cable giant announced Wednesday (Feb. 3) that it is renaming its TV, Internet and telephone services Xfinity.  The name is a spell-check nightmare, but Comcast officials said their goal... (Comments)

Hoping for a Rescue

By Patrick P. McNally It isn't hard for me to be pragmatic and detached while discussing both the news that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would be closing North Catholic High School at the end of the school year and plan... (Comments)

The Steepest Hill

They call them Renassiance Schools. Maybe a better name would be Resurrection Schools. The Philadelphia School District has identified a dozen of the city's lowest performing schools and plans to reorganize them in major ways, including removing existing principals and... (Comments)

The Foodie's Dilemma

By Jessica Banta I'm a foodie. I know that word gets thrown around a lot these days but I think it's the only term that properly describes how I feel about food. To me, food is about more than just... (Comments)

Money Talks

And these days it is saying Dan Onorato.  The Allegheny County politician has $6.4 million in the bank to finance his run for the Democratic nomination for governor, according to the latest reports.  That's 9 times more than his nearest... (Comments)

A Father in the Rye

By Jeff Milligan After another day of swinging hammers on a cold roof, I drove to the daycare and picked up my two daughters, ages 8 and 5. We drove home, and as they put their bags and coats away... (Comments)

Understatement of the Week

"To win re-election, Arlen Specter must improve his image among the state's electorate." So says the latest Franklin & Marshall College poll, done by Terry Madonna and company. And here is the next sentence: "Only one in three (34%) registered Pennsylvanians... (Comments)

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