Ray Murphy's blog

PA General Assembly, on guns: act now. save lives.

Lance Haver, in the Daily News, speaking about the shooting of his son, Daren Dieter:

My son is lying in a hospital bed unable to move. He cannot move and cannot breathe, and it's because he was shot with an illegal handgun…by someone he didn't know because our elected officials refused to stand up to the NRA.

Email your state rep/senator: demand one handgun a mo. rule and require owners to report lost/stolen guns.

Attention Stephanie Singer

One of the most exciting things that happened during yesterday's election was Stephanie Singer's victory for City Commissioner. And the defeat of Marge Tartaglione.

This seems like a good time to pull up this 2007 post I wrote about Marge and the changes that I think should be made at the City Commissioner's office. Maybe they will happen now.

Better voting systems and procedures can't undo apathy and cynicism about local politics, but they can help increase turnout by making it much easier to vote. And more radical interventions, like lobbying the state to allow early vote, vote by mail and same day registration, could really increase turnout in municipal elections (this at least been the experience in Oregon which votes entirely by mail).

And honestly, the election of local leaders should not be so closely tied up with the weather.

My Pop outs himself

After a period of anonymous blogging, my father, Frank Murphy, just announced his true identity over at the Notebook:

http://thenotebook.org/blog/102663/f

He began blogging to share his perspective on public education as someone with a strong pedagogical and practical basis for his opinions. He felt like he needed to be anonymous because, in his words:

In my last months as a principal, it was important to me that my children, parents, and staff be removed from any distractions or retributions that could have been generated as a result of a principal publicly critiquing the school reform efforts of his School District.

He retired a few days ago after spending more than 30 years in Philadelphia as an educator. For the past 12 years, he was the Principal at Meade Elementary School in North Philly.

Check out his posts over at the Notebook to get more of an insider's perspective on how the School District and its politics work.

This post especially may be of interest to YPP readers which covers the connections between Sen. Williams, his million dollar benefactors, charter schools and the political structure:

http://thenotebook.org/blog/102535/schools-all

It's been said that the family who blogs together, stays together. I am not sure if this is trues, especially because I don't blog like I used to, but I hope my Pop's online voice can help, in some way, in the effort for real education reform in Philadelphia.

Something you should read

Check out ?uestlove (from the Roots) on Donte Johnson and Sabina Rose O'Donnell over at CP's blog:

i am out for justice in her senseless murder.

BUT. i cannot look into this boy’s eyes http://twitpic.com/1xageo
and be all dismissive like “this fucking monster” as im sure most of us (specially those of us who knew sabina and were regulars at PYT) will react. and i understand the passion behind it. make no mistake, i understand the passion behind it.

this is NOT me being irresponsible nor an apologist in the matter.

but you HAVE to understand it from my shoes:

i too at one point was an 18 year old black man from philadelphia. the 2 west philly neighborhoods i grew up in (to my knowledge) — with the exception of my next door neighbor and my best bud down the street — all the lives have been claimed in my age range. like seriously. if there were a reunion of all the kids in my age range from born from 1971-1976 that i grew up playing ball with and summer day camp and breakdancing and trading pac-man game patterns with, out of the combined 24 of us? (3 cousins included) only 3 are STILL LIVING or NOT in jail for a long time.

im like — “wait you mean to tell me if you stood us ALL in a line with the hand of death lurking behind us and told us ‘im only going to spare 3 of you’….” then im to believe that me? ahmir thompson is one of them?

swear to god i think about that everyday of my “how did i get here?!” life.

im sorry. you can take the hard road if you want. but you HAVE to admit it: 18 is a baby!

There is a LOT more. Check the whole thing out here.

Save the internet!

Local politics are important, but venues like YPP would not exist without the degree of freedom and openness the internet offers us. The current principles that guide how content is shared and accessed online are encapsulated by one term: net neutrality.

Yet thanks to some major telecom players--like Comcast and Verizon--our way of online life is in jeopardy. From Free Press:

Who wants to get rid of Net Neutrality?

The nation's largest telephone and cable companies -- including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable -- want to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won't load at all.

They want to tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data. And they want to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services and streaming video -- while slowing down or blocking services offered by their competitors.

These companies have a new vision for the Internet. Instead of a level playing field, they want to reserve express lanes for their own content and services -- or those of big corporations that can afford the steep tolls -- and leave the rest of us on a winding dirt road.

The big phone and cable companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality, putting the future of the Internet at risk.

The FCC is set to institute a new national broadband plan which would formalize some net neutrality rules. But that plan is now in trouble because of a court ruling today challenging the FCC's authority.

A long-time daily reader (who, despite my urging, refuses to write comments here herself) asked me to post a link to Free Press' Save the Internet petition. This petition is chance for you to make the case for a free and open internet to the FCC.

Can you take a minute yourself to sign it?

https://secure.freepress.net/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&i...

Chris Bowers has more to say here on the court ruling. Ant if you'd like to learn about the basics of net neutrality and the reasons we've got to tack action to save the internet, click here.

RAGE Against the Transit Machine


Tomorrow (Tuesday), members of RAGE (Riders Against Gender Exclusion) will stage a protest drag show at the Clothespin. Despite a meeting between members of RAGE and SEPTA GM Joe Casey this past fall, no action has been taken to remove gender stickers from Transpases. At that meeting SEPTA also promised to set-up a complaint system for transgender riders who have experience discrimination. Again, no action has been taken.

Here's more in an email from RAGE:

Join Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE) for a drag show themed action. This public performance will show SEPTA that its transgender/genderqueer riders demand respect and attention, we will not stay quiet while SEPTA ignores its promises for a safer transit system.

SEPTA continues to insist on the use of M/F gender stickers on it’s fare cards, subjecting transgender, genderqueer and other gender non-conforming riders to questioning and harassment when their sticker doesn’t match their perceived gender

SEPTA says that they don’t want their riders experiencing unnecessary discrimination due to their gender. In October, SEPTA committed to taking steps to set up a way for riders to report incidents resulting from the gender sticker policy, promising that they would address these complaints to ensure more safety and respect for transgender riders.

It’s been five months and SEPTA has not taken a single step to follow through on what they promised. At this action we will show SEPTA we plan to keep them accountable to the promises they made. We will launch the start of our own system that riders can use to report incidents with SEPTA because of the M/F stickers. We want other transgender/genderqueer riders to know we’re looking out for them, even if SEPTA is not.

Bring your friends, feather boas, fedoras and high heels to this action! We are still looking for performers and people who would like to help out, if you’re interested, contact RAGE at nogenderstickers@gmail.com.

Transgender and genderqueer people are subject to daily and persistent discrimination in general. However, SEPTA's codification of gender-based discrimination--in flagrant violation of the city's nondiscrimination law--adds just so much insult to injury. The fact that SEPTA causes some transgender riders to pay twice for many rides causes real economic hardship for low-income trans riders. And physical violence is an unfortunate but not uncommon outcome for many trans riders who are outed by SEPTA operators.

Please consider joining the protest tomorrow at 15th and Market, 4:45 to 5:45 PM, to show your solidarity. And if you can't make it, send a text to SEPTA expressing your anger: 267-21-SEPTA (267-217-3782).

Paging Seth Williams

Hey Seth, did you see this article in the Inky?

Police arrest 18 teens in Center City melee

By Sam Wood and Allison Steele

INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Police arrested 18 juveniles for disorderly conduct this afternoon after a large group of teens became unruly in Center City, police said.

Store owners on the 1400 block of Chestnut Street called police about 4:15 p.m. after a large fight broke out near a CVS drug store, said Lt. Frank Vanore, police spokesman.

Vanore said the teens also could be charged with riot.

"We're trying to charge them with the highest charges we can bring," he said.

[There's some back-story that relates to this post. Click here for that.]

Um, that's a really bad idea. Did they really need to arrest these kids? It surely can't help the situation.

If these kids have been arrested, doesn't that mean they're coming your way next? To your reformed charging unit?

I sure hope someone smart, like you, calls an end to the hysteria. According to KYW News Radio, there are plans to bring down federal charges for rioting.

Also according to the article, the police are reassigning cops to patrol Center City permanently. Instead of doing that, could we reassign the money that would have been spent on cops to creating some constructive programming for kids instead?

The Wild Ones

Problem: Teen kids make trouble in Center City after school. Here’s the Inky’s report on what happened:

About 150 students, many still in their school uniforms, met at the Gallery, at 9th and Market streets, about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, but were soon kicked out by security guards, Bethel said.

From there, he said, the students rushed west on Market, through the crowds, knocking people down and causing panic.

The band of teens headed to Macy's at 13th and Market, where they vandalized fixtures, causing an estimated $700 in damage, Bethel said.
The teens then headed to 15th Street and JFK Boulevard and started throwing snowballs at one another, bystanders and cars. Most of those who were arrested were picked up there.

Solution? Here's what's so far been suggested by the School District, the police, members of Council and other electeds:

  • Sue Facebook
  • Change student Transpass rules to force all District students to be home by 4:30
  • Hunt them down and lock ‘em up
  • More police in Center City and at the Gallery
  • Expel offending kids from school

Yeah.

These responses are hysterical and indicate not just shameless grand-standing but also a fundamental lack of responsibility.

The real solution to teenagers acting out is simple: Give them something constructive to do.

Like a job. Like arts programming at schools. Like sports. Like a rec center with decent programming. Like libraries that are open till 7 PM every day.

And the other thing that would help in this matter: increase parent support programming. Better skilled parents equal better behaved kids.

Maybe I missed it, but I don't think anyone in power has talked publicly about these kinds of solutions.

The responses that have been offered thus far are punitive measures that are unfair (in the case of transpasses), illogical (in the case of blaming “social networking sites”), and counter-productive (in the case of our criminal justice system, especially for youth on the verge of adulthood or expulsion).

Even more discouraging, the vitriolic response to a simple problem indicates a lack of priorities or a sense of what responsible spending is.

We can mobilize millions of dollars in police overtime when we need to flood the Gallery with cops. But why, year after year, can we not find the money to adequately fund the kind of programming that would serve our city’s teenagers?

Why can’t we find the money for the kinds of family support programs—like those offered at Settlement Houses—to help parents and kids improve their relationships? Why can’t we fix DHS? Why don't we have a higher high-school graduation rate?

If we looked at the real solutions to the problems teens can cause en mass, we could reduce violence and crime. And we could increase the chances that today’s students can be tomorrow’s successful contributors to the local economy.

Something to think about as we wait for the Mayor's budget address on Thursday.

This article speaks for itself

The headline is "Nutter scales back public input on budget." More at this link:
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/85022142.html

Here's a preview:

This year, though, the Nutter administration has sharply curtailed citizen involvement in the budgeting process, though the fiscal challenges remain huge.

Nutter's 2009-10 budget address was preceded by five months of town-hall meetings, public workshops, news conferences, and open strategy sessions.

But the first public event on Nutter's schedule to highlight the 2010-11 budget was an address last week to the Chamber of Commerce.

Look for the quote from Stan.

Broader thinking on green jobs

Last month I visited my aunt at Presbyterian Hospital. At one point I went to the cafeteria with my uncle. He got called off to talk to a doctor, and I was left alone.

The cafeteria didn’t sell any papers, there were no Metros, I didn’t have a book and my phone battery was dead. So I was left to contemplate my styrofoam container of limp lettuce.

And my plastic utensils. And my disposable cup. And the pre-packaged paper envelope of pepper. All over the cafeteria were food-related items in packaging ready to be thrown right away.

I got to thinking: Whatever happened to dish washers?

As much talk as there has been about climate change it sort of amazes me how far we are behind the curve on some of the basics.

Disposable plates and utensils, along with single-serv packets of ketchup and salt and mayonnaise and the like are wasteful, bad for the environment and they eliminate jobs.

These facts haven’t changes since the 70s or 80s or 90s when places like the Presby cafeteria likely got rid of their dish washing machines and dish washing staff.

However, unchecked, profit margins always trump labor and enviro concerns. I would guess that purchasing disposables saves money over the labor costs involved in hiring people to wash reusable dishes and to refill condiment dispensers. And especially because Presbyterian’s cafeteria is run by Aramark Corporation I’m sure it’s even cheaper for them to buy disposable items in bulk.

Who can you turn to when the market’s best interest are not in line with the common good?

Government. In fact, I even wrote a post here just a few months ago about the city’s decision to use extra Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to provide capital to “creative economy” capital construction projects. Maybe they could redefine eligibility for that money to include the construction of dish washing facilities at places like Presby.

Think about it: if all the school, hospital and corporate cafeterias in the city stopped using disposables and returned to the use of reusable plates and dishes, we’d see some decrease, however small, in the city’s carbon footprint.

Possibly more importantly, what would it mean to create at least a coupe hundred new union jobs for Philadelphians? Especially for those without college degrees?

And maybe we don’t have to incentivize this idea. Maybe some non-profit leaders in the city—like Penn—could make changes like this on their own. After all, Penn’ s hospital system just found out that they are going to save more than $10,000 a month after a change in the city’s commercial storm water charging method.

Forgive me if this is too “100 things Kids Can do to Save the Earth” –y. I know that the role one city can have in addressing systemic causes of global climate change (which started with industrialization and likely will end with annihilation through globalization) is limited.

However, looking more carefully at waste and reuse in the practices of large institutions can have an impact.

Additionally, I worry that a lot of green job dollars are going to be spent to create work only for skilled workers (like building trades members). And even if that is not the case (I am thinking of how some of the green job training programs are helping unskilled workers receive training to get into construction) steering green dollars to portions of the economy that ultimately encourage more consumption (building a new building, no matter how green, is consumptive) is not a long-term environmentally sustainable solution.

My out of the box idea for green job creation may be weak, but the point is even if it is the Van Jones standby of weatherization, there are all kinds of green jobs to be had. It'd be great to hear about some other ideas too.

Paging through the business section, finding our economic way

Lately, the business section of the Inky seems to be sending a pretty clear message that Philadelphia’s biggest economic asset is its location. Though location alone may not be enough to attract the best employers here: We also need to create a highly skilled and versatile workforce.

The fact that the Inky keeps producing stories about business people who are creating or taking away jobs in the region based on these simple ideas means there are important lessons to learn. The question is whether or not the Nutter administration is heeding them.

First, let me share a few of the articles I’m talking about.

On Tuesday, December 1st, Governor Rendell made a deal with a Greek start-up to open a solar panel factory at the Navy Yard. They will provide 400 jobs and get $49 million in state and city incentives (including stimulus money). But, according to the article:

Panos Ninios…said the company chose the Navy Yard site after reaching out to eight states and visiting 35 locations. He said that that the quality of Philadelphia’s workforce, the proximity to transportation, and the government incentives sealed the deal for the city.

On January 6th, it was reported that “at least 65% of all Chilean fruit to the United States comes through Philadelphia, Gloucester, and Wilmington. The remaining 35 percent goes through Los Angeles.”

Evidently, there are excellent cold storage facilities in South Jersey and southern Chester County that make it easy to store large amounts of fruit for transport. But the article suggests another reason for Philadelphia’s winter fruit dominance, our geographic location and market density:

”We are centrally located to many major markets, with second-day truck delivery to two-thirds of U.S. consumers,” said Robert C. Blackburn, senior deputy executive director of the Philadelphia regional Port Authority.”

And on January 11th, the Inky reported that “chemical companies have slashed 43 percent of their Pennsylvania workforces in the last 10 years.” This includes all but four of the workers at DuPont’s gigantic Gray’s Ferry Ave. complex.

According to Pam Witmer of the PA Chemical Industry Council, there are a variety of reasons for this decline, including mergers, environmental regulations and a high cost to do business in the state. However, according to the article:

Pennsylvania chemical plants have lost geographic competitive advantages as manufacturing in the Northeast has faded. Chemical plants supply other manufactures. Computer, cell phone and other electronics manufacturing has migrated to Asia. So have the chemical plants that supply them.

And for many years chemical plants have been built near sources of raw materials, mostly oil and natural gas. Chemical companies have set up facilities in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, close to U.S. sources of crude oil.

There’s not much we as a city can do to change the global economic conditions that helped us lose chemical jobs. However, if we want to keep the companies that still have some operations going on here, there are things we can do. According to the Inky:

Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chief executive officer and chairman, says specialty chemicals and innovation will drive the company’s growth. He views the former Rohm and Haas labs in the Philadelphia area [including one in Bridesburg] as important to transforming Dow into a specialty chemical company.

So here’s what I take from all that:

  • For one, location matters. Being within a two-day drive of 2/3 of the country’s consumers is a really big asset.

    The quality of our transportation infrastructure, our rail lines, highways and ports, is crucial. Regardless of where the money might come from to fund specific expansions and innovation, it is largely up to us locals to come up with new ideas to improve the infrastructure.

  • But even if you build it, and they do come, in the face of the fast-moving global economy, a well-trained, smart and versatile workforce is also necessary to get business to stay here.
  • And then you gotta sell it. Our geographical proximity, transport infrastructure and the qualities of our workforce might will probably need to be spelled out, indeed, marketed. for prospective new employers.
  • While taxes and incentives do come up in conversations about economic development in the region, they are clearly not the only economic development tools at our ready. There are other important ways—ways equal in importance to cutting taxes or incentivization strategies—to help the city create high-quality, sustainable jobs.

So again, the question is whether or not the Nutter administration is working on them.

In some cases, the answer is a resounding yes...

The number of Philadelphians applying for federal financial aid has increased significantly in the past year. The Free Library has redefined its mission to include targeting entrepreneurs. A green jobs training program funded by stimulus dollars and developed by the city recently started.

And, according to the Inky way back in November, a new city website has opened up (www.phila.gov/business). which has, according to Sara Merriman, director of policy for the Commerce Department, “now captured all of the city business information, the forms, the permits, the direction you need to go and we’ve put it all in one place.” (The site does not yet accept online payment for taxes or collect online applications for certificates.) This is a small, but practical step that will help make it easier for people to do business here.

But when it comes to aggressively marketing the city as the jumping-off point for shipping and commerce along the East coast, it’s not so clear what the Nutter plan is...

More time and energy seems to have been spent on commissions and debate about tax reduction strategy than on a strategic plan to leverage our central location for shipping. And the most important factor in terms of workforce development is a stronger School District of Philadelphia. That’s definitely a weak point for the Nutter administration.

As the Mayor begins to shift into campaign mode, I hope he can figure out ways to build some solid accomplishments on these fronts. Even with another messy budget on the horizon, and an uncertain economic recovery, it is imperative that we do a better job on strategic economic development.

Our path to continued economic stability may be difficult, but it is a path that can be easily charted: Turning out more smart and skilled kids from our public schools, sending a lot more of them to college, finding the growth industries for which it would make the most sense to locate here, and making it easier for businesses already here to innovate will create a new economy in Philadelphia.

Salt of the earth

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very serious yet eminently treatable condition. High blood pressure can be reduced by increasing exercise and improving diet. But if it's not treated, it can cause kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.

41% of all African Americans have hypertension (as opposed to 27% of whites). That means a lot of Philadelphians are at risk for or already have hypertension.

Half of all people with hypertension are salt sensitive which means that the ingestion of sodium can increase bloodpressure rates.

Which takes me to this NY Times article. NY Mayor Bloomberg is looking to get food manufacturers and restaurants to lower the amount of salt contained in their food products by a quarter. Right now this is a policy initiative to encourage voluntary compliance. However, it seems likely that Bloomberg may try to make this law. Much like NYC has already banned trans fats and smoking.

As a pretty major market for all kinds of food distributors, NY could have a big impact on the nation's health if this kind of thing ever became mandatory. If Philadelphia attempted something similar first, the effect would not be quite as large but still sizable.

I am curious what other people think about this kind of lawmaking. It seems similar to the plastic bag banning that Councilman DiCicco has been pushing. On the face of it, this kind of policy making seems good to me. Is there more to the story though?

One week with Seth Williams

I use the word "progressive" as shorthand to describe the mix of liberal, radical, revolutionary, and reform ideologies that comprise my own personal political views.

And as a progressive, I never ranked the DA's office high on my priority list of political offices where change could be enacted.

I mean how change-oriented and radical thinking could a prosecutor’s office be?

Well, in 2005, Kia Gregory interviewed Seth Williams for a Philly Weekly cover story. And according to Seth, a District Attorney could actually be pretty awesome. If they were willing to think about sentencing in different terms than enacting the swiftest and harshest “justice” possible.

So I got hooked, as I think did many other voters, on Seth’s vision. Not to mention that he is an incredibly likeable guy.

But here’s the thing: When it comes to supporting candidates, at least in 2005, I had only ever supported losers. So as much as I worked hard for Seth then, it seemed inevitable that he would lose.

And that’s what makes reading the papers in the past few days incredibly surreal.

Because even though he did lose in ’05, Seth won big in ’09. And he is now actually the District Attorney of the city of Philadelphia. And real change is possible.

And the best, and most scary part, is that all of the rhetorical descriptions of Seth are done. Now that he is actually in office, he has to deliver.

Looking back at his first week in office I am happy to report that the change-making seems to be right on track.

Seth named a new head of the charging unit. He got a working group started on community-based prosecution. He picked his top staff (all of whom are experienced and competent). And, my favorite, he went to 55th and Pine to hear preliminary hearings himself.

This is classic Seth. Not only does he send a message to his staff that no one’s title should be taken so seriously as to detract from the mission of the DA’s office, but knowing Seth, he also probably soaked in enough details from that morning of hearings to ground himself in the reality of the community he is serving. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of this.

The biggest challenge for Seth and for his progressive supporters in the next four years will be handling the reactionary moments.

Making our city’s chief prosecutor a political animal has always seemed like a dubious choice to me charter-wise. When a horrible murder (especially against a police office) or assault (especially against a child) or some other moment comes up, rest assured the pitch forks and torches will come out. And the DA’s office may be called to lead the charge. After all, when people are angry and upset and scared, revenge and bloodlust sometime trump logic and reason.

However, Seth proved over and over again in the campaign that a vision for making sweeping and important change is what motivates him. As long as he sticks to his vision, and continues to display the openness to new ideas and the empathy to many different kinds of people he has in the past four years, I think we can trust him to deliver on all of his promises and more.

Robbing Peter?

I opened up the Metro this morning and was pretty surprised to read that the city is awarding ten grants, in amounts up to $100,000, to cultural orgs who have 'shovel ready' capital projects using CDBG money. (No link to Metro article online, but here is a WHYY link).

CDGB stands for the "community development block grant." It had always been my understanding that CDBG money was sort of a Republican concession prize to cities. Under Nixon and Ford, lots of federal sources of support to cities were cut off (and really, urban aid had been on the decline since the 1940s when the suburbs were created), but CBDGs were awarded to cities to sort of make up for it.

Mind you, every Republican congress since has tried to reduce the size of the allocation. And George W. Bush sure took a huge chunk out too. Not to mention the fact block grants are never as useful as entitlements when it comes to reducing poverty (which was part of Nixon's intention in creating them).

Nonetheless, today CBDG money has become the last line of defense against budget starvation for many cities when it comes to affordable housing and other frontline anti-poverty programs.

My experience with this source of federal money is from my time working in Pittsburgh for a welfare rights/anti-hunger organization called Just Harvest (www.justharvest.org). Each year we organized people to go to Pittsburgh City Council meetings to lobby for the use of some of that large block grant for anti-hunger programs.

I haven't done policy work around CBDG since, but it seems odd to me to give away what is essentially anti-poverty program money to fund Philadelphia's creative economy.

The total amount of the city's $14 million CDBG award to be used for creative pursuits ( which specifically include, according to the Mayor's press release, "grants...to nonprofit and for profit creative businesses for facility projects linked to job creation such as renovated office space, mixed-use facilities, artist workspace and creative industry incubators.") is about $500,000. And this award is part of a stimulus package boost to our annual federal allocation.

As many past posts of mine imply, I am not against innovative economic development. If we want to move at least some of the 1/3 of the city's population living in poverty into the middle class, we have to change what we're doing.

But...this seems to me like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Stimulus money or not, using CDBG money for non-front-line anti-poverty measure sets a dangerous precedent.

CBDG money in Philadelphia has traditionally been used for affordable housing.

You can read an exchange here between Reinvestment Fund's Jeremy Nowak, former OHCD head John Kromer and others here about the possibility of changing that traditional use in favor of out-of-the-box community development here. The one quotation from that piece that riles is this, from Gary Steuer of the City Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy:

CDBG funds here are just one test case of whether the stimulus program will challenge outmoded thinking, or simply reinforce it.

Funding affordable housing in a city where we still need to create close to 30,000 units of affordable housing is outmoded? When our own Mayor and City Council dip into the Affordable Housing trust fund to deal with other budget priorities and when Inclusionary Zoning is still not a done deal, I'd say we're far from being able to talk about affordable housing as an outmoded use of public dollars.

I would really love to hear from folks in the affordable housing world (ACORN, WCRP, Project HOME, CLS, PUP, etc.) to see if I am missing something.

Like maybe there was a deal made with other state or federal pots of money that don't make this a net loss for housing? Certainly the creation of jobs is a good thing. And I know $500,000 is not that much money.

But still...if job creation in the creative sector does not correspond exactly to the low incomes that create a need for affordable housing or other anti-poverty services for those traditionally served by CBDG then we have a real problem here with priorities.

Ding-dong?

I will leave it to Dan to pound the nails into the coffin, but the front page of today's papers and this quote are pretty amazing:

Perzel, the former House speaker, was charged yesterday with 82 counts of theft, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and conflict of interest. The grand jury said he and others had misused public money for campaign purposes and then tried to cover it up.

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