Vol. I No. 119
Keeping You Posted With The Politics Of Philadelphia
December 15, 2010
High Speed Ahead
“PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN pressed to complete the Transcontinental Railway,” said Amtrak High Speed VP Al Engel, speaking in Union League’s Lincoln Hall yesterday evening. “I find it odd that some members of the ‘Party of Lincoln’ cannot see completing a high-speed rail system for the Northeast Corridor is best for the business community and our nation today.” Story page 2.
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PANELISTS at top-level business forum on high-speed rail were, from left, Center City District President Paul Levy, Brickstone Realty Managing Partner John Connors, Amtrak’s Al Engel, PenJerDel Chairman James Carll and New York City’s Regional plan Association head Robert Yaro. THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD
16 DECEMBER, 2010
by Tony West very other major nation in the world has a high-speed rail system. To get back in the game, the best place for the United States to start is in the Northeast Corridor. Philadelphia would be a hub for that system, and the project could propel the region’s economy – and Center City’s in particular – to astonishing new heights.
That was the message of a forum at the Union League last evening staged by the Central Philadelphia Development Corp. and the PenJerDel Council. Called High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor, Game Changer for Philadelphia?, it featured a presentation by Amtrak’s deeply informed VP for high-speed rail Al Engel. Amtrak’s long-range plan for nextgeneration, high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor will reduce travel times from Philadelphia to Manhattan to 38 minutes and to just 60 minutes to Washington, D.C., running up to four times an hour. Preliminary plans provide for a stop at the Philadelphia International Airport and in Center City at the Market East Station. Engel was the man who launched the Acela service, which has boosted ridership and revenues. Still, it is a far cry from true highspeed service. China, for instance, already has 1,340 miles of train 16 DECEMBER, 2010
lines that can cruise at 218 mph. The rest of the world has decided that for densely settled metropolitan regions 500 miles across, highspeed trains are superior to either airplane or automobile systems for passenger transportation. Enter Amtrak’s “Next Generation” program. It foresees investing $117 billion to build a network of dedicated track in the Northeast – a region of 50 million people who generate 20% of the nation’s GDP – over the next 30 years. That sounds like a lot. But it requires only $4.7 billion a year, said Engel. High-speed lines can generate a smart operating surplus to help pay for construction. And the other returns are enormous. He said the cost-benefit estimate for the project ratio is 2.27:1 – a payback of $149 billion cascading onto a region at whose heart lies Philadelphia. In other countries, high-speed trains have transformed regional economies. People travel more easily – and more. When the MadridSeville line was built in Spain, for example, 34% of the ridership was “induced” – trips that never would have been made by other means. An explosion of travel would pump up the city’s economy, argued Center City District President Paul Levy. “Think what that would mean for our tourist industry,” he THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD
pointed out. “Furthermore, with those new travel times, the Phillyto-Washington, Philly-to-New York runs become like the Paoli Local. We’d be within commuting range of all these job markets.” John Connors of Brickstone Realty further noted wherever high-speed lines are built, real-estate values soar next to their stations. This vast increase in wealth can be used to pay in part for the costs of this project. The private sector must play a role in developing high-speed rail, said James Carll, president of PenJerDel. “We have to stop seeing rail service as a concern of environmentalists. It has to be a central concern of the business community.” Carll called for inventive private partnerships to help fund Next Generation. Still, he insisted, a large public commitment, planning and investment will be essential. Carll urged the region’s business leaders to pressure State and federal governments to tackle the first great transportation infrastructure adventure since the Interstate highway system was launched in the 1950s. And it can be done politically, he argued, even in an age when politicians are leery of government spending. “We have a dozen states in the Northeast,” he noted. “That’s a lot of Senators.” |
Mayor, Council Agree To Work Together On Business Taxes ayor Michael A. Nutter and City Council have reached an agreement to work together to improve the city’s business-tax structure. Potential new legislation would address the ongoing goals of improving Philadelphia’s economy, helping small businesses and removing disincentives for locating businesses in the city.
“We are marking a collaborative effort with City Council. We will create new legislation that attracts new businesses and entrepreneurs to Philadelphia while maintaining the tax revenue the City needs to provide services to our citizens,” said the Mayor. “I would also like to thank Councilwoman Quiñones Sánchez and Councilman Bill Green for their continued leadership on this issue.” Council President Anna C. Verna said, “We have formed a partnership with the Administration to work together and address this very important issue.” The Administration and Council will work together to address four major concerns identified during the ongoing Council hearings: helping small businesses; removing the disincentive for businesses to locate inside the city; advocating for changes to State law to streamline the process of claiming deductions from income earned within Philadelphia; and identifying the appropriate balance between net income and gross receipts reductions in any future tax reduction proposal. The Ad-
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ministration and Council will maintain an ongoing dialogue as potential new legislation is drafted. “We are excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Administration to reform Philadelphia’s current business tax structure, which puts our small and local businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” Quiñones Sánchez remarked. “We are hopeful this process will result in the change the city so desperately needs, and set us on a course toward economic growth and job creation.” “Let’s make it clear Philadelphia is open for business,” said Green. He described five key policy goals on which the process will focus: “First, help small businesses, which are the engines of job growth in our neighborhoods and 50,000 of which would have no business taxes under our proposal. Second, achieve tax equity and fairness, including by leveling the playing field for local businesses and closing down taxavoidance loopholes. Third, stop penalizing profitability, so businesses will come to and stay 16 DECEMBER, 2010
in the city. Fourth, help our lowest-margin businesses – such as manufacturing – succeed and create family-sustaining jobs. And fifth, shift the tax burden off of city-based businesses by ensuring that all businesses accessing the city’s market are required to pay their fair share.” The BPT currently consists of two components: a 6.45% net income tax and a 0.1415% gross receipts tax. The net-income tax is paid primarily by Philadelphia-based businesses, whereas the gross-receipts tax is paid by all businesses that make sales in Philadelphia, whether or not they are based in the city. The Council Members’ current proposal is for a revenue-neutral elimination of the net-income tax, an increase in the gross-receipts tax to 0.53%, and exemption from taxation on a business’ first $100K in receipts, which would result in up to 50,000 current business-tax payers having $0 business tax liability. The reform would be phased in over five years to allow both businesses and the City to plan and make any necessary adjustments. City Controller Alan Butkovitz applauded Mayor Nutter and City Council for “taking a targeted approach to very specific inefficiencies and unfairness in 16 DECEMBER, 2010
the current business tax structure. As we go forward, it’s important we be mindful of avoiding radical steps that could undermine employment in Philadelphia. I look forward to a very careful and deliberative approach as these issues are developed.” City Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr. said he and thenCouncilman Michael Nutter began working on business-tax reform issues in 2004. “When Mayor Nutter assumed his duties in 2008, I introduced a business-tax reform proposal, as did the Nutter administration. We later agreed to combine our efforts. Clearly, it took compromise and consensus to enact comprehensive business-tax reform. Today, I believe Mayor Nutter is committed to enacting the best proposal we can achieve and will work with City Council as he’s done in the past.”
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Dec. 17Laborers’ Local 331 hosts annual Richard Legree Toys for Tots at Union Hall, 1310 Wallace St., 3 p.m. Toys will be given to children from Prodigy Day Care Ctr., Cunningham Ctr., Woodstock Women’s Shelter and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Dec. 17Friends of Chris Vogler Winter Warmup gala at SmokeEaters Pub, 7681 Frankford Ave., 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets $40. For info call Bob Cummings at 267-471-9607. Dec. 18Caribbean Night Happy Hour fundraiser for Lawrence Clark for City Council at Banana’s 876 Lounge, 5500 Rising Sun Ave., 6-9 p.m. Donation $10 includes food.; donate blanket for homeless and it’s $8. Make checks to Clark4Change, P.O. Box 27154, Phila., PA 19118. Dec. 30Friends of Councilman Curtis Jones, Jrt., host yearend fundraiser “Curt Ain’t Crying the BLues” at Le Cochon NOIR, 5070 Parkside Av., Susite, 5100E. 7 p.m. to midnight. Jan. 27Edward J. Lowry, founder of Phila. Veterans MultiService & Education Ctr., will be honored on retirement at Waterfall Rm. in Plumbers Local 690 Union Hall, 2791 Southampton Rd., Cocktails 6-8 p.m., followed by Tribute Program. Tickets $65. Order by phone (215) 238-8050. Event Chair Ed Keenan, Board Chair Jim McNesby and Exec. Dir. Marsha Four. |
Fattah Salutes New President’s House Monument ongressman Fattah sponsored legislation passed by Congress to instruct the National Park Service to “appropriately commemorate” the President’s House and the nine enslaved workers who labored there. Fattah, supported by Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.), secured $3.6 million in federal funds for construction of what is believed to be the first federal monument dedicated to America’s enslaved.
For inauguration of the new historic site yesterday, Fattah said, “The opening of the President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation is more
than the celebration of another monument at the place where America was born. This site recognizes enslaved Africans were at the center of American history performing an uncommon, unrecognized and indispensible role in the creation of this great nation. “The President’s House focuses on the lives of Presidents George Washington and John Adams who made their home here in the nation’s first executive mansion. Equally important, it brings into focus to life and names, chiseled in granite, of nine men, women and teenagers enslaved to George Washington: Austin, Christopher,
Giles, Hercules, Joe, Moll, Oney Judge, Paris and Richmond, who lived and worked here as well. They are the bridge from the President who owned humans of African descent to our President today, a man of African descent. “We are a diverse nation, drawn from many races, ethnicities and faiths. The site … is a visual history lesson designed to inspire examination of a dark period in our nation’s history, as well as inspiring our hope and vision for true freedom. I am proud to have been a part in the creation and construction of this important memorial.”
Casino Foes Hit The ‘Burg To Yank Foxwoods’ License embers of Casino-Free Philadelphia will present comments from over 50 Philadelphians today to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board hearing in Harrisburg.
“The people of Philadelphia will tell the Board predatory gambling doesn’t belong in our city,” said Lily Cavanagh, organizational director for Casino-Free Philadelphia.
After twice deferring a decision on revocation of Foxwoods’ license, the Board will again take up the motion for revocation at today’s hearing. The casino opponents will speak during the public-comments portion of the hearing.
In April of this year, the Board’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance recommended Foxwoods’ license be revoked for failure to comply with Board orders, failure to comply with its statement of conditions, failure to maintain suitability for licensure, and inability
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16 DECEMBER, 2010
to be operational by the Board-imposed deadline of May 29, 2011. “Philadelphians are speaking for their city against the crime, addiction, and poverty created by casinos,” said
Dan Hajdo, a member of CFP’s Board of Directors. “So far, the Board has shown it only listens to the Governor and his friends. If they listened to the people of Philadelphia, they would revoke the license and not rebid.”
Lomaxes Assemble Justice Panel 900AM-WURD assembled two of the legal world’s most powerful thinkers to dissect race and the criminal-justice system at “And Justice for All?”, its last community-engagement symposium of year. From here Harvard Univ. Professor Charles Ogletree; WURD Radio President Sara LomaxReese; Mrs. Beverly & Dr. Walter P. Lomax, owners of WURD Radio; Ohio State Univ. legal scholar Michelle Alexander, WURD host; criminal defense attorney and program moderator Michael Coard; and poet-activist Sonia Sanchez. Photo by Martin Regusters, Leaping Lion Photography
Sherrie Cohen Goes For City Council SHERRIE COHEN, center an attorney and progressive activist, announced her second run for City Council at large last evening at a crowded reception at William Way Center in Center City. With her was her mother, former Councilman Florence Cohen, seated, who held her husband David Cohen’s seat after his death. If Sherrie wins, she will be first Council Member both of whose parents preceded her in that chamber. 16 DECEMBER, 2010
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Community Center Oﬀers Holiday Fun Without Drugs Or Alcohol he holidays can often be challenging for individuals in recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs. The Philadelphia Recovery Community Center, at 1701 W. Lehigh Avenue, Suite 6, is offering a full schedule of free activities throughout the holiday season for individuals in recovery.
“We’re offering people a place to come and relax, where they can enjoy some fellowship, have fun and share ideas for staying clean and sober this time of year,” says Fred Martin, project coordinator
for Pennsylvania Recovery Organization–Achieving Community Together), which operates the center. On Dec. 23 and Dec. 30-31, from noon until 8 p.m., visitors to the center can watch movies or play any of a number of games, such as Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud or bingo. On those days, the center will also offer a holiday-themed discussion from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. On Tues., Dec. 21, the Women’s Support Group, which meets from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., will discuss “A Woman and the Holidays: Emo-
tions and Responsibilities.” On Dec. 28, the group will discuss “Preparing for the New Year,” which will also be the topic of a Recovery Discussion on Wed., Dec. 29, from 10 a.m. until noon. For information, call (215) 2237700. To view the schedule online, visit www.proact.org and click the Philadelphia Recovery Community Center link. PRO-ACT is a grassroots organization with initiatives in public education, policy advocacy and recovery support.
Opening Tomorrow, The Fighter Raises Thoughts Of Lee And Vick CHRISTIAN BALE plays Dicky Eklund, Melissa Leo plays Alice Ward and Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward in The Fighter. Photo by JoJo Whilden.
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by Adam Taxin The Fighter chronicles the rise of (actual) journeyman welterweight boxer Micky Ward. Played by Mark Wahlberg, quite familiar in particular to Philadelphia sports fans for his portrayal of improbable former Eagle Vince Papale in Invincible. Ward goes through a sort of catharsis in confronting family members whose influence has prevented him from reaching his full potential. The screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamsay and Eric Johnson is tight and exciting, and director David O. Russell (Three Kings) makes just about everything occurring on-screen compelling, even to those who are not fans of the sport of boxing. The role of family members in an athlete’s life certainly has been highlighted this week in Philadelphia. The uneasiness of Kristen (Mrs. Cliff) Lee toward New York was rumored, even though publically denied, to be a driving force in her husband’s decision to forsake significantly more money offered from the Yankees to return instead to pitch for the Phillies. Perhaps it’s a stretch, but I couldn’t help but compare the smooth functioning of Lee family decisions to the way in which Ward’s quest for greatness is held back by Ward’s crack-addicted former-boxing-star16 DECEMBER, 2010
himself half-Dicky Eklund (played by Christian Bale) and Ward’s overbearing mother Alice (Melissa Leo in a Best Supporting Actress Oscar-worthy performance). The recent rise of Eagles quarterback Michael Vick parallels the movie more obviously. Early on in the film, Eklund goes to prison (not for dogfighting), then subsequently strives to redeem himself by pouring his remaining life energy toward training his younger half-brother in his shot for greatness. Beyond the fact the central character of The Fighter is a white underdog boxer, comparisons to Rocky are inapt. The Fighter’s primary plot driver is Ward’s issues with his family; in contrast, would-be parents or siblings of Rocky Balboa do not play a role in any of six movies. In addition, Amy Adams (playing Ward’s girlfriend Charlene) is a much more-interesting character, not to mention considerably easier on the eyes, than Talia Shire’s introvert-turned-Stepfordwife Adrian. The Fighter opens for wide release tomorrow at the the UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17 (South Philadelphia), the UA Main Street 6 (Manayunk) and AMC Frankllin Mills (Northeast Philadelphia).
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