D.E. II's blog

My partner's son is a drug addict

He's getting along better than he has in years. He's in a methadone program. He has a mental illness diagnosis but he's been relatively stable. After a series of "brushes with the law," he hasn't been in jail in two years. He's in a stable relationship. He's been in the same apartment for two years. He's participating actively in two different counseling programs.

His girlfriend is in a similar situation. Recently she has been reducing her methadone dosage, with the hope of getting off of it.

They have been using the $200 they each get per month in welfare benefits to pay rent on their apartment in Kensington.

They both just got letters saying that their welfare cash subsidies will be ending as of July 31rst.

I know this isn't the crowd that needs to be preached to - but how in the world does this make any sense?

With losing this source of income, and the accompanying increase in financial stress in their lives, the likelihood of them using again in the future will increase. If they use, the chances of them committing crimes to pay for their habit will increase. Along with the chances of them committing crimes increasing, so do their chances of being incarcerated. With incarceration will come increased cost to the state.

Multiply their (or somewhat similar) situation by thousands (tens of thousands? - if you weren't aware of this, the cash welfare benefits for tens of thousands of Pennsylvanians will be cut off tomorrow). Consider that many of those being cut off are mentally and physically disabled.

Being disabled will not exempt anyone from having their assistance cut off

Consider that many of those being cut off have nowhere to turn to for help.


Thanks, Helen!

To the extent that your hard work has helped bring about the replacement of Ackerman, thank you!

As unbelievable as it is that Ackerman will again be bought out of a contract at considerable cost to the public - it's still a positive event.

Now get to work on ensuring a solid replacement. How do we get your name on the list?

Blondell Reynolds Brown campaigning for Arlen Specter: Am I naive to be surprised?

Blondell just called me up to tell me how much she hearts Arlen.

I was touched by her concern that I be well-informed as I head into the voting booth, but you'd think that the woman might have an ounce of shame?

Hey Ben: Questions about tax amnesty

A very interesting article from It's our money


Question one: The article compares various tax amnesty programs from various cities and various states, and reports that unlike many of those other amnesty programs, the one coming up in Philly does not include a payment plan. Why is there no payment plan in the Philly tax amnesty? Is there some basis in research for a determination that a payment plan will result in less tax paid in the end?

Update on 311?

After trying to get through to the Water Department (so I can change a bank account on my auto-pay) for over 1/2 hour, and getting only a busy signal, I decided to call 311 to see if they might be able to help.

I've now been on hold at 311 for 10 minutes, and annoyingly, I keep getting cycled between some pleasant classical piano music and a loop of a ringing phone and a tape of someone assuring me that my call is important.

So, I'm just curious to know if my current death by a thousand 311 customer service recorded message loops is anomalous. Have others been using 311? How has it gone?

Can someone explain the "Contingency Budget?"

I guess I'm just not paying enough attention - but I don't remember reading about this before:

In addition to the core disagreement of how to raise revenue to close the deficit, Council members' key criticisms of the administration's budget were:

It relies too heavily on the approval of state legislators, such as the proposed penny-per-dollar increase in the sales tax. "That's pretty shaky ground," Councilman Bill Green said.

It asks Council to approve a contingency budget - a cut-intensive alternative that would close some facilities - in the event the legislature does not assist the city. The contingency plan is short on some key details, leading Green to say Nutter is asking Council to write him a "blank check."

Did previous reports about the budget speak to this "contingency budget," or is Nutter actually trying to sneak this through under the cover of City Council?

More good news: Mayor Nutter thinks we're "getting it."

I just heard Mike on WHYY explaining that he thinks that Philadelphians are starting to understand why there's a budget crisis in Philly: We are beginning to understand now that the global and national economic downturn is having an impact on Philly's economy. My guess is that Nutter would attribute our new found wisdom to his campaign for "civic engagement."

Oh, and btw, he explained that the upcoming serious of public meetings will give us an opportunity to understand what it's like to have to balance a budget.

Can this man be any more condescending?

Hey Mike, in case I can't make it to our "kitchen table" chat......

I'd just like to let you know my opinion on those stadium luxury box tickets the City owns: Sell them.


I mean, yeah, it could have been worse

While members of City Council and other elected officials took 87 of those seats, they were used much more often by nonprofit groups, rec centers and those truly needing something nice, such as the families of slain police officers.

(I wonder which Councilpeople were using those tics?)

But if a Republican like Bloomberg can give them up in NY, I think a Dem in Philly can do the same. Especially when you consider that 27 folks "got to watch the playoffs and World Series in seats given to the City Democratic Committee."

Nutter should get credit where credit's due

If I'm not mistaken, there has been more unanimity at YPP around the issue of libraries closing than any single other issue since I've been logging on. In fact, I don't believe that I've seen one comment in support of the library branches closing.

To unify this, uh, opinionated, group takes some doing, and I think that Mayor Nutter deserves all the credit.

Some thoughts on city planning and budgets

A new commenter posted a comment the other day about participatory budgeting, and asked if anyone was interested in the topic. No responses.

There have been a few comments/posts in the past about participatory processes of city planning and budgeting, but in general they have been received with a conspicuous silence.

I find this kind of curious. There is no shortage of well thought out ideas about plans and budgets at YPP. Great thinking about where the casinos should or shouldn't go. Great thinking about where revenue should and shouldn't be generated.

But there seems to be, at least to me, relatively little interest in what I believe is clearly the most effective and progressive way to run a city - through participatory methodologies. Does anyone doubt that? Is it happening here? If not, why not? Doesn't anyone care about this stuff? Do people think that we are just so far away from implementing such practices that it's impractical to focus on large scale changes when there are very real and immediate issues that need energy and attention?

OK, it lasted all of one day

I need to vent.

I welled-up as Obama took the stage. I found myself wishing that my parents, who were active in civil rights their entire lives, were still alive to see an African American president. I had reasons to be discouraged by what's happening on the local front - but still had a spring in my step.

And now Obama has appointed Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. I'm trying to hold on here, but my ol' skepticism is rearing its ugly head. I need a boost. Can anyone tell me why selecting Emanuel isn't a repudiation of the "hope and change" rhetoric?

Supreme Court, taxing the rich, a focus on healthcare - all, obviously, very important considerations. But Rahm Emanuel?

Representative Cohen and YPP

Rep. Cohen gets a whole lotta grief here at YPP. But whether you agree with him on issues or not, he's here, engaging in dialogue with his constituents. I appreciate that. Wilson Goode still participates pretty actively, even if often it comes in the form of self-promotion. Jim Kenney? Disappeared after the elections were over. Dwight Evans? Gone. Surrogates for Fattah? Nada. Bob Brady? Zilch. I hope that even those who disagree with Mark on issues the most respect the fact that he's willing to engage on issues - even when he knows going in that his stance will be very unpopular here.

Want to significantly influence future geopolitics?

I'm working with a group of young students (ages 18-21) from Western Europe and Scandinavia, primarily children of immigrants from the Middle East and South Asia, who are here in our great city studying in a Fullbright/State Department program. They've been awarded a $200 book stipend as a part of the program (courtesy of your tax dollars), and are asking me for book recommendations. Ok, here's your chance to have direct input in how the State Department spends your money and participate in your very own hearts and minds program at the same time. What books would you like to recommend? I can think of few groups as erudite as the YPP readership, so I thought I'd get some help from ya'll in making suggestions:

Uh, am I the only one around here feeling a bit queasy?

Ok, I was impressed by Obama's speech to the conference of Mayors posted here recently. Not a bad speech. But, hmmmm, there have been a string of disappointments out of the Obama campaign recently. To me, the most significant was his turn around on public financing. Sorry, I get all the arguments about practicality, but taking huge money from big donors is taking huge money from donors. Period. I am also pretty concerned about the "guilt by association," "gotcha" baloney the Obama campaign has embraced with respect to the comments by McCain's campaign advisor who said that McCain's campaign would stand to benefit if there were another attack on the U.S. Would anyone here argue that Black's statement isn't at least a viable perspective, if not definitively true?

Am I having an identity crisis, or have I just gone completely nuts?

Ok, I'm supporting a candidate for president who, based on his policy platform, is fairly centrist. Now, I find myself hoping that he'll ask the former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan to be his running mate. Despite differences with Jim Webb on a number of issues, (he's a self-described "Reagan Democrat' no less), I feel that his approach is compatible with Obama's. I wouldn't have a problem with Webb: he's reasonable people, who takes reasoned approaches to examining issues,

Take a listen to this interview, and tell me whether I've completely lost it.


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