Marc Stier's blog

Laurence Sigmond, 1951-2009

There are a lot of people in this city who contribute to our public life in ways that don't get a lot of attention but which are critically important to us. One of them, Laurence Sigmond, died this past week. I don't know how many people who read this blog knew him, but more should know of him as he was a committed and deeply caring man. So I'm posting an email I sent yesterday to the people who worked with him in Neighborhood Networks


Checking out at Weaver’s Way a few minutes ago, I was shocked and saddened to see a notice saying that Laurence Sigmond had died earlier this week. I had just seen a few days ago on Facebook that he had been in the hospital but was home convalescing.

Help Us Build A Bridge To Health Care on April 4

This is the year to finally pass health care reform. But it won't happen unless we build a movement big enough to roll the insurance companies

You can start on nn Saturday, April 4 at 1:00 PM as Health Care For America in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will come together for a rally and a march across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The rally will begin at Benjamin Franklin square a grassy triangle on 5th Street, just south of Vine Street, facing the bridge.

Please join us. And invite your friends.

RSVP to Marc Stier, PA Director of Health Care For America Now at

Why are we doing this event at the Benjamin Franklin Bridge? Read on to find out.

A Three Sided Budget Fight

Progressive forces won an important victory by building support for the preservation of essential services even if this requires a tax increase. This was a incredibly beautiful and wide ranging struggle with many people playing a role. And Mayor Nutter deserves credit for recognizing that the citizens of this city are willing to bear higher taxes temporarily in order to save services that are so important to us.

Now, however, we have to recognize that fight continues on three sides.

Health Care At The Crossroads

We are at a crossroads for healthcare

President Obama's budget, which includes $634 billion in the budget as a down payment on health care reform, is before the Congress.

This is critical. If Congress does not pass a budget that funds health care reform, it won't happen this year in any form.

Click here to call your Members of Congress to tell them to fund health care reform now!

President Obama with your support has said that we can't fix our economy if we don't reform health care. But the momentum we have built for winning quality affordable health care for all this year will stop in its tracks if the President's budget fails.

Health Care For America NOW ahs put together some easy-to-use talking points to help you send a strong message to your Members of Congress that you support the President's budget.

Hannah Miller On Tour

As many of you know, for her work with the Media and Democracy coalition, Hannah Miller is going to be working all over the country from a new base in to Washington, DC.

There was a going away party for Hannah on Friday that I missed because I was very late in getting back from Harrisburg. I was sorry to miss it because, though we said goodbye earlier in the week, I believe in the power and importance of public ceremony.

And when someone who is not only one of my best friends but an important part of the progressive movement in our city leaves for a time, that event should be marked publicly. So I had hoped to be there to say a few things about what Hannah has meant to all of us.

Tell Senator Specter you support the economic recovery package and health care reform!

The Economic Recovery Package that passed the House last week is now before the Senate. The Republicans are planning a filibuster. Some Democrats are wobbly. And so we are going to need at least two and possibly more Republican votes.

The right-wing is going all out to defeat the bill, thinking that if they beat President Obama now, they can derail his entire domestic program.

We can’t allow them to succeed.

Senator Specter is a key swing vote and needs to hear from you today. You can use the Health Care For America Now call tool to get connected to Senator Specter's Office. Or call (215) 597-7200.

Health Care / Obama Action and Rally Tomorrow

We are all disappointed to hear today that, despite the expectations raised two weeks ago, the President-elect will not be doing large public rally in Philadelphia tomorrow

However, we do expect people to gather outside of 30th Street Station and we have decided to ask our 300 volunteers to come out and help sign them up in support of health care reform and then take part in a Rally for Quality Affordable Health Care For All.

Join us!

We plan to meet at 8:30 AM in front of the UNITE/HERE Building 22 South 22nd St., near the corner of Market Street, in Philadelphia. We will march from there to a site as close as possible to the station.

We hope to find out the President-elect's route to 30th Street in advance and line it with our signs and banners.

We will have clipboards and sign-on cards, and posters in support of health care for all.

Agressive police patrolling on the drives!

Stop speeding on the drives!

Remember how the city demanded that the state police replace the city police in patrolling the Expressway, just as they patrol interstate highways in the rest of the state?

Well it happened with interesting consequences elswhere anyone who live in NW Philly should know about.

The police officers who formerly patrolled the Expressway have no been reassigned to East (Kelly) and West (ML King)River and Lincoln Drive. The officers who used to be assigned to the drives have been reassigned to the districts.

This is a good thing in a few respects. It in effect gives us more police officers on patrol in the city.

And the reassigned Expressway officers are taking their job a lot more seriously than the old timers they have replaced. Wednesday morning, for example, seven people had been stopped and warned or ticketed for speeding by 9:30 in the morning.

Be There For Health Care: Greet Obama Supporters in Philly on Saturday

Be There for Health Care!

Welcome people on Saturday, January 17th as they line up to hear President-Elect Barack Obamaat the first stop of his train trip to Washington before his inauguration

As a volunteer greeter on Saturday January 17th, you will be part of the largest mobilization of health care for all advocates Philadelphia has ever seen! Volunteers will:

·Work in pairs signing up folks as they wait on line to enter the speech venue.
·Ask everyone to sign a post card to Senators Specter and Casey

- Calling for guaranteed, quality, affordable health care for all.
- Endorsing the Obama / Health Care For America Now principles of health care reform that call for every American to be able to choose affordable health insurance either from their current insurer, another private insurance plan or a public plan open to all

Library Closings: They Have Never Really Been About The Budget Crisis

The hard thing in making the case against closing eleven branch libraries is that the fiscal crisis of Philadelphia is not entirely a mirage.

That’s why it is important to understand that the branch library closings have never fundamentally been about the budget crisis. The Mayor and Siobhan Reardon are misleading us when they keep insisting that we had to close libraries because of the city's budget troubles.

I’m not sure I fully understand what the library closings are about. But this is what I’ve managed to piece together from talking with librarians here and elsewhere in the country as well as with people familiar with some of the inner workings of the library administration.

The Nutter administration (and us) at the crossroads

The Nutter Administration stands at a crossroads. And so do we activists.

It is not because the judicial decision barring the administration from closing libraries is an existential threat to the necessary powers of the Mayor. That claim, as I’ll explain in another post is nonsense.

What is really at stake is whether, at this critical moment, the Nutter administration will decide to fix the broken political culture of our city or whether it will continue to work within it.

What we do as activists may help determine the result.

Hallwatch Faxbank on Libraries

Ed Goppelt has graciously agreed to set up a faxbank at his hallwatch website, so that you can contact your district council member and all the at-large members in one step asking them to join the lawsuit seeking to block closure of the libraries.

I'm going to spare you the hard sell. If YPP readers don't already know why closing 11 branch libraries is a horrible and unjust step, nothing I add here will convince you.

I'm just going to ask all of you who share that opinion to go, NOW, and contact your council members.

While having a member of council as a plaintiff on the suit may not be strictly necessary from a legal point of view, it might help overcome any challenge to the standing of the others bringing the suit.

Best practices on city taxation in a recession: a proposed project for YPP readers

Most of us here, and to judge from the poll Ray and Dan sponsored, most of the city, believes that we should not be cutting taxes when our services are being reduced so much. We should be, at least temporarily, delay the wage tax cuts.

But what do you do when the strong mayor of our city totally disagrees and when the members of City Council who, in addition to having the usual disinclination of politicians to raise taxes, are also disinclined to pick a fight with the Mayor in his first (of most likely eight) years in office.

Where do we get the leverage to move the debate in the city. The poll helped, but what do we do now?

For one thing, we can keep pointing out that the rationale for cutting taxes--to influence the location decisions of businesses and residents--is substantially less important when businesses and residents are by and large not relocating because no one can borrow the money they need to move.

Is there an innovative plan for infrastructure spending in our region?

Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to coming from the federal government to states and cities for infrastructure spending in the next year.

Are we prepared in our region to seek it and spend it wisely?

Docs and hospitals sue for their MCARE

Capitolwire reports that:

Physician, hospital groups sue state over unspent MCARE funds. The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and the Pennsylvania Medical Society are suing the state to force Gov. Ed Rendell?s administration to fully fund the state program that helps healthcare providers pay medical malpractice premiums

Why the sudden appearance of this lawsuit? Because with a serious state budget deficit and a growing surplus in the money available to the Health Care Provider Retention Account HCPR, doctors and hospitals are afraid that state legislators will use the money to balance the budget and, in particular, to pay for medical assistance (medicaid) which is one of the largest parts of the budget.

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