realisright's blog

Health care reform-NOT

I wish every one reading any news story about our government's push for "health care reform" would call our lawmakers to task on their constant mislabeling of this issue:

They are really only talking about enacting a federal mandate requiring the provision (or acquisition) of health INSURANCE. Their program does NOT involve any standards related to the quality of, access to, or timely provision of health CARE.

I understand that, the way our system is set up, health insurance providers have become the necessary middle man between the patient and the care-provider. But isn't that why citizens are having such a hard time getting access to health CARE? Aren't our current problems with the health care system largely that its not our system anymore--and neither is it the care-providers' system. Our health CARE system now belongs to the INSURERS, and they are making boatloads of money off us.

Tax Marijuana Sales

Is there any merit in legalizing marijuana and taxing it to help with our budget crisis?

Studies show that it is usually the number one cash crop in states with an agricultural industry, so it may generate much tax revenue. It would reduce incarceration rates for drug-related offenses, relieving overcrowded prisons. It would alleviate the burden on criminal courts/law enforcement for investigating and prosecuting marijuana related offenses since it would become a business licensing and tax issue. Captured assets could be used to fund tax enforcement agencies and actions, just as many jurisdictions do now with drug-enforcement programs.

Are there any arguments against such a tax that aren't based on questionable methodology or that aren't morality-based arguments?

It is time to think outside the box.

Another truly "civic" foundation gone

So Brett Mandel issued his last email blast as XD of Philadelphia Forward, which is offically going on hiatus.

Seems the soldiers left over span of the last few years, and now the generals are giving up the fight, too. Who will be left to throw the facts back into our city officials melodramatic speeches as they play on our last few good nerves with "what if"s?

Our "good guy" mayor: "What if I beat you minions with the threat of a ten percent reduction in primary services?" SILENCE
good guy again: "Not reacting emotionally yet? OK, what if I beat you with the threat of a 20 percent reduction in primary city services?" SILENCE AGAIN

What is Councilmanic Prerogative? A Civics lesson

This is an introductory entry into a new topic that I am researching: Councilmanic Privilege in Philadelphia.
I will research historical texts, codes, laws, and case law, to reveal the absolute basis and limits of a councilperson's exercise of such authority. So far, the universe has provided little. But I will persevere.

Hallwatch.Org No More

Ed Goppelt announced recently that the hallwatch website will shut down in February. This website provided a much needed reality check--transparency, even, on the city's failures to enforce its tax laws and to provide for its infrastructure. I am saddened by losing this resource.

Let's keep the data and its routine publishing alive, though. Does anyone know how he was able to sift through the BRT data and produce the lists that he posted on the site? I have used the BRT site often, and can't figure out how he did it without trudging through the data block by block.

Sale of Tax Delinquent Properties made Philly $500K This Morning

Today I participated in the City of Philadelphia's Sheriff Sale of Tax Delinquent properties. Have you been? This is my fourth sale, and today I started keeping notes.

Number of properties for sale: almost 100
Total sold: 49
Total sale revenue: $558,000

Property spotlight: 1124 S. 48th Street
Number of years tax delinquent: 23*
Total tax principal owed: $47,653
Total Tax Balance: $98,646
Today's sale price: $11,600
Year City tore structure down**: 2007

Councilmatic Perogative and skirting ordinances

Does anyone have any cites or sources for the establishment of this "councilmatic perogative" concept or for any qualifications imposed upon it?

Below is a copy of an email I sent to the Mayor's Action Line, outlining a specific issue involving a councilperson's "gifting" of tax delinquent properties to a tax-delinquent developer. Does this concept really authorize deviation of application of tax laws, variance ordinances, and building codes? Does any one know of it ever being challenged?

Dear Mayor Nutter,
First, thank you so much for agreeing to represent the citizens of Philadelphia as our top elected official.

Is City's 16M "Stabilization" program really a stabilizer

In November, the Office of Housing and Community Development held public meetings and issued this program note, titled
Neighborhood Stabilization Program
Its posted at:

It proposes to identify the city areas hardest hit by foreclosures with high-rate mortgages, for the city (the RDA)to acquire those foreclosured upon parcels of real esate (or fund a developer's direct acquisition), and to flip 25% of the properties acquired as low, moderate, or middle-income homes, with any profit from all property sales going to the city.

Notwithstanding that it appears that only 8 people attend the public comment period, I fail to see where the "stabilization" occurs: The program obviously isn't intended to stabilize the current, foreclosed-upon owner's mortgage or home address. So, where are these families expected to go? are they expected to be the ones buying back the flipped house? and if not, again, where are they expected to move to?

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