Is "Broken Windows" broken?

Ok, I am sheepishly admitting that I was trolling when I found this article - but despite the usually unreliable source, the article has a lot of interesting information, much of which comes from more reliable sources (which are linked):

Last month, a scandal rocked [New York's] vaunted COMPSTAT program, the data-driven crime-tracking system championed by former Police Chief William Bratton and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. COMPSTAT is widely credited for bringing down the Big Apple's crime rate, and has since been adopted by other cities. But according to a survey of high-ranking NYPD retirees conducted by Long Island's Molloy College, police commanders faced heavy pressure from higher-ups to to reduce felonies to misdemeanors—or in some cases to not report crimes at all—in order to make the numbers look prettier. An officer from Brooklyn's 81st Precinct then came forward to complain about constant pressure from commanders to downgrade felonies, talk victims out of filing reports, and even simply refuse to take reports at all. Much of this was predicted by COMPSTAT critics. Even data-heavy crime tracking, it turns out, can fall prey to public choice theory.

Also disturbing:

Last year, NYPD "stopped and frisked" more citizens than in any year since the department began keeping statistics. ("Stop and frisk" refers to the 1968 Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio, which allows police to stop, question, and frisk citizens in public without probable cause.) A record 575,000 people were stopped by New York police in 2009, an 8 percent increase over 2008, also a record year. More than half of those stopped in 2009 were also frisked. Nearly 90 percent were black or Latino.

That massive increase in stop-and-frisk operations has also led to an astronomical increase in marijuana arrests, from just 900 in 1993 to more than 40,000 in 2008. Possession of a small amount of marijuana in New York for personal use is not a criminal infraction (it's a fineable offense, akin to jaywalking), but displaying pot in public is; it's an arrestable misdemeanor. According to a 2008 New York Civil Liberties Union report written by Queens College sociologist Harry Levine, New York cops engaging in stop-and-frisks will commonly ask the suspect to empty his pockets. If he's carrying pot, his non-criminal possession of marijuana becomes the arrestable offense of displaying the marijuana in public.

So to summarize, we now have reports that New York City police brass have been pressuring rank-and-file cops to downgrade or bury actual thefts, robberies, and assaults committed against New Yorkers. At the same time, we also now have accusations and credible data suggesting politicians and brass are encouraging the same rank-and-file cops to harass New Yorkers who have committed no crime at all, or have been tricked into committing a consensual crime they never intended.

Whaaaaa? Marijuana arrests went from 900 - 40,000? My impression is that Mayor Nutter seems to have mostly (conveniently?) forgotten about his Stop and Frisk campaign promises, and to the extent that he has, it may well be a good thing.

Apropos of nothing in particular (relating back to discussions about Temple's mission)

On an article about Temple basketball coach, Fran Dunphy:

Ultimately, that's why Dunphy is here, as well.

"It's been a terrific change for me," Dunphy said, explaining the transition from Penn to Temple. "I love the mission of Temple. It's a school for the everyman. There's the honor students, the at-risk kids and everybody in between.

"Temple gives opportunities to a lot of different people. I've got a couple of kids on this team who are at-risk kids, and they're going to graduate at some point, because here's Temple saying: 'You're a part of us. We're going to take care of you. The village is going to take care of you.'

"It's just wonderful. Just another experience in my lifetime that I'm very, very grateful for."

Things you can do during a recession: reform row offices

To paraphrase the Daily News' Catherine Lucey, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority says we'd save $13-$15 million annually if we eliminated four independent row offices and moved their functions to other city agencies or the court system.

The queenpin of one such office, the Clerk of Quarter Sessions, announced her resignation yesterday.

Mayor Nutter, you're on: the time to do the right thing is now.

Eliminate this and other unnecessary positions/offices and spend the savings on things Philadelphians actually need like safe schools and clean streets.

By the way, check out Committee of 70's recommendation to eliminate six unnecessary elected offices.

Must See TV: Steve Wynn's arrorgance, beligerance, and ignorance

Fake presidents & blood and teeth on the floor

NOW we're talking financial reform I can get into!

New progressive superstar Elizabeth Warren pulls no punches re: the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Protecting families from predatory lenders, is that Philly enough for you?

(CFPA is SO the buzz at the progressive water cooler.)

Oh, and SNL fake presidents and Jim Carrey, who apparently still can be funny (who knew?), also all about the CFPA:

Hey kid, that fat guy is Dan Aykroyd. He's pretending to be Jimmy Carter.

He was the president once.

Carter, I mean.

It's Thursday. There's a Health Care Summit going on. Not newsworthy, according to

Want to guess which city's online news source is NOT covering President Obama's Health Care Summit, among the nation's ten largest cities?

Surprise! Right now the front page is alone in failing to represent the summit.

It's one thing to get schooled by the New York Times and the LA Times.

But the San Diego Union Tribune? The San Antonio Express News?

It's not the writers' fault. The Daily News and Inquirer have plenty of fine writers. But the choices of the editors, especially of the front page, fail our community too often by serving only the lowest common denominator.

Right. By the time you read this, they'll probably have some Associated Press story linked.

But come on, people. It's not good enough to simply expect your readers to go to or for national news.

Philly readers deserve a local perspective on national stories that affect them.

Here's what conservatives really think about spending. Spending's not the Problem.

This speaks for itself. Everyone hates spending except for the spending part. It's really all about the framing, and who gets taxed, not the spending.

We're still optimistic about Philly

You can bury us in snow and bad economy, but you can't break our spirit.

That's what the Pew Charitable Trust's latest poll of Philadelphians seems to suggest, as by a score of 41% to 34% more of us think Philly is headed in the right direction than in wrong direction.

And 6 in 10 rate the City a good or excellent place to live.

Crime is still our #1 worry, but the number of people rating it #1 is down 10% from last year.

Findings are generally similar to this time last year, with a bit less post-Obama euphoria (though not as big a drop as you might expect).

Likely will be read as good news for the mayor (but nothing to write home -- or drop town hall meetings -- about).


Whitewash in South Philly

You'll be shocked, shocked to learn that the school's district's long-awaited report on racial violence against Asian students in South Philly High is a complete joke...

Senator Specter signs public option letter

I talked to Senator Specter's office yesterday. He has agreed to sign the letter to Harry Reid asking the majority leader to include a public option in the health care legislation that will go through the Senate in the reconciliation process.

Judge tosses case against SugarHouse protesters

The attorney for 13 defendants - including pastors and professors - who faced trial together yesterday after being arrested while protesting at the SugarHouse Casino construction site in September, never had to lay any of his chips on the line.

Before presenting a single witness, attorney Larry Krasner asked for and was granted a motion for a judgment of acquittal based on insufficient evidence from the prosecution.

"A profound act of love" -- Wake Up Yoga benefit for Haiti/Partners in Health

A Profound Act of Love: Fundraiser for Haitian Earthquake Victims

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.

- The Dalai Lama
Spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism

The Wake Up Yoga Community is devastated by the images and stories coming out of Haiti. Rather than feeling powerless, we are banding together to extend aid. On Valentine's Weekend, Wake Up Yoga will be offering donation classes, workshops, and call and response chanting to raise funds for those suffering in Haiti. We are also selling raffle tickets. The proceeds will benefit Partners in Health's Haiti Appeal. Click here to read the appeal from Partners in Health--

At Fairmount:
Saturday, February 13th
4 – 5 PM
Family Yoga with Rebecca P
A yoga practice for families and children 3-9

Sunday, February 14th
12 Noon – 1:30 PM
Donation Vinyasa Yoga with Tina

2 – 3 PM
Call and Response Chanting with Jake
Suggested minimum donation/event: $10
Pre-registration for classes is encouraged. Please call 215.235.1228 or email

At West:
Sunday, February 14th
12 Noon – 1 PM
Call and Response Chanting with Victoria

1:30 – 3 PM
Donation Vinyasa Yoga with Corina
Suggested minimum donation/event: $10
Pre-registration for classes is encouraged. Please call 215.235.1228 or email

At South:
Second Saturday, February 13th
3 – 4 PM
Family Yoga with Ali
A yoga practice for families and children 3-9

4:30 – 5:50 PM
A Heart Opening Donation Yoga Class with Kayla
Explore the 4th Chakra, Anahata, with an inspiring practice, taught by the warm and vivacious Kayla Fell. Warning: You may float out of this class with a powerful desire to love yourself and others!

6 – 7 PM
Food for the Heart Workshop with Jennifer Fanega
Join us for a talk about nutrition for the most important organ: the heart.
Learn about specific foods to eat and simple lifestyle changes you can make to ensure your ticker is in tip-top shape. Includes recipes and yummy heart-healthy snacks!
Taught by Diet & Lifestyle Counselor Jennifer Fanega

Suggested minimum donation/event: $10
Pre-registration for classes is encouraged. Please call 215.235.1228 or email

5:30 – 8:30 PM
Nolia Chocolates will be selling Decadent Assorted Chocolate and Truffle boxes in a variety of sizes, and healthier non-dairy vegan Fruit&Nut Squares will be available for purchase. Free chocolate samples available.
Nolia Chocolates is a new Philadelphia-based boutique chocolatier specializing in small batch confections that are individually crafted by hand with fresh high quality ingredients and no added preservatives, wax or emulsifiers. We develop our own flavors and use a specialty single origin chocolate. Visit us at

Refreshments will be served from 6 - 9 PM.

The Raffle:
Raffle tickets will be sold at $10/ticket before and after classes, beginning January 29th. We are touched and delighted at the generous donations we have received thus far. The current list of prizes is below. If you would like to contribute, please email

30-minute Reiki Treatment with Erin Owen
(2) 30-minute Health & Lifestyle Phone Consultations with Erin Owen
A 1-hour intuitive energy healing with a combination of Reiki, Shamballah, and Sokaisi, by Emily Wishnick
A 60 minute Private Yoga session with Mirabai
Handbag created from a tire tube from Hondorus (really cool!)
Handmade bowls and crafts from Haiti
$50 gift certificate from Zipcar
(2) Handmade Malas
Handmade Hub Cap Prayer Wheel
A 90-Minute Thai Massage with Debbie Philpotts
2 Hours of Free Service from A-Team Movers Moving Company
4-Tickets to a play at People’s Light & Theatre Company
A $50 Gift Certificate to Figs Restaurant
Tickets to a Show at World Café Live
A Facial Treatment at Honeydew Beauty Lounge
One-Hour Hot Stone Massage with Judy Moon
One Lifeline Technique Session with Judy Moon
One-Hour Thai Massage with Gabrielle
One-of-a-Kind Handmade Piece of Jewelry by RetroRelix
Six Improvisation Piano Lessons (value $108)--any age, 3 or older at The Philadelphia Suzuki Piano Academy
A Pair of Fair Trade Earrings from Ooh La Jena
(2) Prizes of a Nutritional Consultation with Jennifer Fanega
Two Tickets to Enchantment Theatre Company's holiday production in December 2010
A hand-dyed and framed vintage doily from Mira Elwell
A Pair of Handmade Silver Earrings by Joy Cutler
A Godiva Valentine's Gift Basket with lots of chocolate goodies, offered by Campbell’s Soup courtesy of Jen McGown
Yoga Starter Kit from Lululemon, courtesy of Keri Smotrich
Yummalish Vegan Treats Box for Chocolate and Peanut Butter Lovers, including: Two dozen chocolate chip cookies; Two dozen peanut butter cookies; One pound chocolate fudge; One pound peanut butter fudge, baked by Kim Paschen
One Community Reiki Treatment by at The Philadelphia Reiki School

Now for some Good News, Even Though Far Far Away

People do approve progressive taxes if they pay for services. Anybody listening?

Joe Hoeffel Campaign Kick-Off Tonight!

I’ve had a chance to hear Joe Hoeffel a few times, most substantively at a Philly for Change meet up. And although I still have a lot more to learn, there’s probably nothing more important right now than figuring out what it is to know before the gubernatorial election in, oh, say, 10 months. So here’s a chance to get to know Joe better.

Joe Hoeffel Statewide Campaign Kick-off
Tues., Jan 26th
5-7 p.m.

PA Convention Center, 1200 Arch Street
RSVP: info or 215-302-2010

And now from the Paul Vallas school of crisis management . . .

Because only Vallas would know how to turn a disaster (a federal audit forcing the district to return milions in "misspent" funds) into a public relations opportunity:

"Nowhere in the report does it suggest officials engaged in the misappropriation of federal funds during the audit period," Paul Vallas said yesterday.

Vallas, now schools superintendent in New Orleans, said the federal government had been encouraging schools "to use grant money in more flexible ways."

During his tenure, Philadelphia test scores soared, and the district had one of the greatest increases in graduation rates in the nation, he said.

"It happened because the dollars were used creatively to fund programs that were having the greatest impact," Vallas said.

C'mon, don't you miss him a little bit?

In other news, read the latest on the teacher contract at the Public School Notebook.