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.

Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday

D.A. Seth Williams stops by Philly For Change Meetup Wednesday night to talk about guns in the wake of recent violence. The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary has renewed the focus, at both the local and national level, to find solutions to gun violence.

Philly progressives are invited to meet the D.A. and join the discussion.

Also on the bill is Action United's Jasmine Rivera, who will tackle another hot topic in the new year: the proposed closure of 37 public schools in the city. Jasmine's helping lead the organizing to stop it. Come out and discover what's going on and what you can do.

Philly For Change January Meetup starts at 7pm on Wednesday the 9th at Tattooed Mom, 530 South Street, in the private room on the 2nd floor. T-Mom features Wednesday drink specials and $3 burgers and veggie burgers. Come out, meet local progressives, get involved, and have a great time doing it!

Jump into 2013's hottest progressive issues Wednesday night!

Gun violence, art & protest

An example of David Earl Weber's workDetails are a little hard to piece together right now, but there's a protest happening tonight over an art show at the Art Institute. Art Students decided to put together a show featuring six artists on the theme of gun violence. Apparently, the President of the school decided to shroud one of the pieces, an installation by Steven Earl Weber, with a black curtain.

In an email I just received from David Kessler, another artist in the show, apparently the rest of the artists will shroud their work in the same way, to express their opposition to censorship.

I haven't found any photos of Weber's piece on-line, but you can see other examples of his work at the link above. Dealing with gun-violence is nothing new in his work.

Here's David Kessler's letter to the University president:

Dear Dr. Larkin,

I am one of the artists in the current Art Institute student curated exhibition ‘Killing Time’. I am writing to you to address your decision to censor fellow artist, Steven Earl Weber’s work from the show.

Sir, censorship of any sort is offensive and abhorrent and at an art school it is doubly so. The fact that artwork should be censored in an institution of higher learning in a major US city is disgusting and backwards.

Alright Nutter!

Yesterday, Mayor Nutter signed into law some pretty serious measures to try to end gun violence. According to the Inky:

The five laws - called everything from unconstitutional to criminal by critics - do the following:

Limit handgun purchases to one a month.

Require lost or stolen firearms to be reported to police within 24 hours.

Prohibit individuals under protection-from-abuse orders from possessing guns if ordered by the court.

Allow removal of firearms from "persons posing a risk of imminent personal injury" to themselves or others.

Outlaw the possession and sale of certain assault weapons.

Cool! It's time the city stood up for itself, and Nutter's actions not only send a signal that his administration is going to devote resources to the fight, but also serve as a real incentive for our local state legislative delegation (including those suburban members who have a vested interest in seeing less guns on the streets) to fight for us too.

After we win, I hope this kind of resolve and logic...

Nutter embraced the idea of taking "direct action" to challenge a legal status quo to protect city residents.

"If we all sat around bemoaning what the law was on a regular basis," Nutter said. "I'd probably still be picking cotton somewhere as opposed to being mayor of the city of Philadelphia."

...will be extended to other areas of divergence between city residents and the state legislature, like allowing same-sex unions, or implementing progressive taxation, or requiring a fair distribution of education funds, or passing an even better campaign finance law, etc.

How awesome would it be if Mayor Nutter made the city solicitors' office into a totally activist office, responsible for challenging the state constitution every time it prohibits Philadelphia from passing progressive laws to the benefit of its people?

Philly's Murder Rate: Better Than Last Year, Still Not Good.

Barring massive tradgey or something out of the Wire Season 4, Philadelphia will have less murders in 2007 than it did in 2006. If you recall, 2006 was noted for having 406 murders - the highest number since 1998. And, earlier this year, it seemed we were on pace to surpass the 2006 mark. Somehow, some way, the murders slowed at the end of the Summer. Otherwise, we would have certainly surpassed 406.

Despite the issues pointed to by some, I am eager to see how the Nutter Adminsitration and Comm'n Ramsey respond to these numbers and gun violence in the City. After reading Dave Davies article in the Daily News today, it does seem that, a shift in policing strategy can lower the rate of gun violence and murder in Philadelphia. Check this out:

Goldfish Memory

The current wave of progressive and reform-oriented electoral energy in Philadelphia began in 2003 with the effort to nominate Howard Dean (and I am sure Wesley Clark and John Edwards and Al Sharpton and some of the others brought folks in too). The desire to beat George Bush in the 2004 General is what really galvanized a generation of voters, grassroots volunteers, and even political organizers. Even though we lost that election, a whole bunch of us made it our mission to take action and make progressive change a continuing priority.

It was 2005 in Philadelphia when some of us got a chance to apply some of the skills we'd learned in a big, national election to our local politics.

Fresh from my first gig working at MoveOn, after reading an amazing Kia Gregory piece in the PW, I emailed Seth Williams out of the blue and pitched myself as someone who could help him use the internet to organize his voters.

This was also a seminal moment for Young Philly Politics as a political blog. We made our bones, so to speak, on the Seth Williams for DA campaign. If you read YPP every day then, it would have been hard for you to imagine any problem Philadelphia faced that the DA was not in some way able to solve or impact.

Seth lost. The DA still played a huge role in terms of day-to-day quality of life in the city, and also as an architect helping to design Philadelphia's future. But other things came up, and the talk here, and in progressive offline groups, and in others places turned away from the District Attorney's office.

Goldfish memory.

Gun Violence Hits Sports

Last week, Washington Redskins Free Safety Sean Taylor was shot and killed at his home outside of DC. He was shot in the leg, but bled to death because the bullet went through an artery. Taylor's teammates played through the grief on Sunday.

Cornerback Shawn Springs said he choked up as he dressed for the game next to Taylor's unmanned locker. Cornerback Fred Smoot said he cried the first few times Buffalo had the ball. The Redskins' pep band began the day with a sad, swing-low song called "Going Home."

Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss - who played for the University of Miami, same as his close friend Taylor - held up his hands in a new three-fingered salute to his late teammate's jersey number, using his index and middle fingers to form a "2" and his little finger to form the "1" after each of his five catches, often looking toward the sky.

TONIGHT: "Crime on Our Minds: a Conversation between Politicians, Academics, Police, and the Community at Large"

Tonight, at Temple University, the "Next American City" magazine is putting on a panel discussion. M. Kay Harris (Temple University Professor of Social Work), Jerry Ratcliffe (Temple University Professor of Criminal Justice), John Phillips Yah-Ya Shabazz (Director of Alternative Disciplinary Program), and, yes, maybe even the much-romanticized John Timoney will all speak. Michael Nutter, Charles Ramsey, Chakah Fattah, Vince Fumo, and Allyson Schwartz may all appear as well. That's some group.

The Legislator and The Agitator: Guns & Scandal Edition

On November 24th, Rep. Payton and I recorded our second edition of The Legislator and The Agitator. You can download the episode in four individual tracks here.

01-The House Democrats Bonus Scandal


Introduction to the November 24th, 2007 show.

Discussion of the House Democrats recent firing of major staffers around large bonuses given to legislative staff.

We'll move into the issue of Reform and Rep. Payton's freshman class of Harrisburg Legislators.

02-Costing out - will the state ever pay for schools?


Good Schools Pennsylvania convinced the state to do a costing out study on what it would actually cost to pay for students around the state so we can do a better job of realistically discussing how much money we need to pay for schools. It started a big conversation on

Tony and Brady discuss the great amount of political maneuvering around this information as well as the lack of the real initiative to find the cash. Will it happen? Can it?

Also, Brady tells about the time that he fought back against a really big bully.

It makes sense in context.

Click "Read More" for the next two tracks!

Gun Violence in Philadelphia

There has been an increase in gun-related incidents in Philadelphia.

Over 300 people have been killed this year, and many more seriously injured. There’s been a tendency in the media to describe the increase of gun-related deaths as an indicator that our citizenry has become more prone to violence or to use murder as a solution to problems.

While there have been a lot of shootings, I am not sure that this is an indicator that more of our citizens are becoming more violent, so much as that their choice of weapon is having more serious consequences. In the past, conflicts and altercations left participants with black eyes, broken arms, and stab wounds—not an end to their life. The easy availability of guns, weapons that intentionally depersonalize the violence their users inflict, has obviously changed things.

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