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Vol. I No. 129

Keeping You Posted With The Politics Of Philadelphia

December 31, 2010

Philadelphia

Daily Record

IN HARRISBURG, some people are looking forward to New Year’s Day more than others. See State Sen. Vincent Hughes’s commentary on page 2


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Campaign Rhetoric Meets Budget Reality by State Sen. Vincent Hughes n a few weeks, Gov. Ed Rendell will leave office and Republican policymakers with new priorities will take the reins of state government. As we approach this change, we all recognize that a potentially troublesome clash of political campaign promises and fiscal reality lies ahead. Our economic future and the ability to create family-sustaining jobs and employment opportunities for future generations are at stake.

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budget deficit. If Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett stays true to his campaign pledge to balance the budget through cuts alone, filling a $4.5 billion budget hole while moving Pennsylvania forward at the same time will be a terribly difficult challenge. While the mid-year budget update was somewhat encouraging — given the 3.2% growth in state revenues, as well as positive sales and personal income tax data — there is no question challenges await lawmakers and the new administration. Taking the Governor-Elect at his word, the General Fund and State program funding would need to be reduced by a whopping 16% to plug the $4.5 billion budget hole.

The fiscal reality is Pennsylvania faces a huge and debilitating budget hole. The combined impact of the national recession on tax revenues, loss of $2.7 billion in stimulus funds, and the use of $1 billion in one-time exTo understand the gravity of the penditures from last year’s challenge, we need to look at rebudget has conspired to create a cent budget history. Gov. Ed Rendaunting $4.5 billion structural

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dell and lawmakers have already cut more than $2.5 billion from State spending during the past two years, resulting in a General Fund budget for this fiscal year that is more than $225 million below the 2008 budget. Such fiscal restraint is unprecedented. That’s not all. Pennsylvania has significantly reduced the State workforce — with nearly 5,000 fewer employees today than in 2003 — the lowest ratio of workers of any State. Plus, in the past two years environmental protection programs have been cut by $75 million; funding for the agency overseeing forests and State Parks was slashed by more than $30 million; and annual funding for community and economic-development programs was reduced by one-half — $337 million below 2007 spending levels. Meanwhile, the State’s Dept. of Public Welfare became more efficient, lowering Medicaid error rates and saving the State $690 million, according to administration estimates. Most objective analysts agree the State already operates on a barebones spending plan. Thus, any new yet-to-be-disclosed cuts of the magnitude being discussed by the incoming Governor would 31 DECEMBER, 2010

likely range from devastating to federal government for unemdisastrous. ployment-compensation benefits and handle increasing cost presWe need to remember there are sures for health care, pensions, real people with very real needs struggling schools and local govbehind each of the numbers on ernments. the budget spreadsheet. When politicians scream for simple- The budget challenges we face sounding, non-threatening solu- are real. The solution to our plight tions such as across-the-board lies in job creation and economic cuts to solve the budget crisis, opportunity. Senate Democrats they may not realize the poten- believe putting people back to tially devastating effects of this work is the cornerstone of sound policy if it is really put into ac- budget policy for our future. Our tion. current unemployment rate is 8.6%. While this figure is better Consider just a few impacts of a than the national average, it is 16% budget cut for all agencies. still way too high. It is precisely Suddenly, 8,000 offenders would why we cannot accept draconian have to be immediately paroled cuts in programs essential to from State prisons, half of whom helping employers create and would be violent offenders; the maintain jobs. School District of Philadelphia would face the loss of $250 mil- Solutions will not be easy or lion, forcing schools to close and without sacrifice. Senate Demochundreds of experienced teachers rats stand ready to work with Reto lose their jobs; and cuts to publicans to ensure our citizens medical assistance would devas- have a streamlined, efficient and tate local hospitals already strug- effective government serving all gling to provide uncompensated of the people. While we are ready care to the elderly, indigent fami- to work cooperatively to achieve lies and children. results, we will not succumb to political expediency or waver in There is no question we need to defending our own principles and move swiftly and act decisively. core beliefs in jobs, investment, In addition to our General Fund and progress for all. obligations, we also must face a transportation funding crisis, repay $3.1 billion owed to the THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

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EPA Recommends Radon Testing in January J

anuary is national Radon Action Month and the US Environmental Protection Agency encourages everyone to test their homes for radon. January is an especially good time to test homes and schools because windows and doors are closed tightly and people spend more time indoors.

serious illness. The Surgeon General has warned radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Only smoking causes more lung cancer deaths. By making simple fixes in a home or building, people can lower their health risks from radon.

is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Test kits are available in home improvement centers and hardware stores and cost approximately $20. The kits are simple to use and they include instructions for how to mail them to a lab for the results.

For more information about Radon testing is the only way to radon and radon testing, see Unsafe levels of radon can lead to know if radon is present, since it http://www.epa.gov/radon/.

No Raise Due In Social Security he Social Security Administration has announced no cost-of-living adjustments will be made to Social Security benefits in 2011, because the consumer price index

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has not risen since 2008 when the will also not see a cost-of-living last Social Security increase oc- adjustment in 2011 to their comcurred. pensation and pension benefits from the Dept. of Veterans AfLike recipients of Social Security fairs. and other federal benefits, Veterans, their families and survivors

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National Constitution Ctr. To Honor Martin Luther King his Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the National Constitution Center encourages everyone to expand their civic horizons by participating in service projects at the Center and throughout the city.

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In honor of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Center will join in the 16th annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service, a city-wide commemoration and the largest Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event in the nation, on Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. Visitors to the Center can take part in a special quilting service project to benefit families made homeless by domestic violence, enjoy a sing-along concert, and witness a dramatic reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. These events are free with museum admission.

hosting a crafts and activities table at the Girard College Kids’ Carnival, serving dinner to the homeless at the Chosen 300 Ministries outreach center, cleaning and painting at the Reformation Lutheran Church, and bundling T-shirts at the non-profit organization Global Citizen. Anyone interested in joining the Center’s volunteers at these events and others in the region can register in advance at www.mlkdayofservice.org.

In the spirit of Dr. King’s vision for a more engaged community, visitors to the Center on Jan. 17 can sew quilts, baby blankets, and pillows for the non-profit organization, Women Against Abuse. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., participants will learn how quilting has brought communities together throughout history. Children also will have the opportunity to create special crafts, Staff members from the National including “Hands Across the Constitution Center also will join World” chains and “I Have a the community in service by Dream” mobiles. 31 DECEMBER, 2010

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Jan. 7Lunch with Judge Jimmy Lynn at Vesper Club, 216 S. Sydenham St., 12:30 p.m. Jan. 14Fundraiser Reception for Council candidate Lawrence Clark at Chart House, 555 S. Columbus Blvd., 6-9 p.m. Tickets $15. Jan. 17MLK celebration and Awards by American Legion Henry Hill Post 385 and McDonald’s at Grays Ferry, at Mtg. Zion Pentecostal Ch., 122628 Point Breeze Ave., 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Commander William Denny host. Jan. 17Phila.Tea Party Patriots NW meeting at Kendrick Rec Ctr., 5800 block Ridge Ave. by Roxborough Mem. Hosp. at 7 p.m. Speakers are Commissioner candidate Al Schmidt and Council candidate Sandy Stewart. For info Mike Lodise (2115) 4870118 or Pat Haraburda (215) 4827991, or teapartynw@comcast.net. Jan. 19Reception for GOP 1st Council Dist. candidate Lou Lanni at home of 5th Ward Leader Michael A. Cibik, Esq., 334 S. Front Street, 6:30-8:30 p.m. 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. |

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In Kirby Auditorium at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., guests can take part in a sing-along concert with nationally renowned “Two of a Kind,” an award-winning, husband-wife duo specializing in interactive musical programs for children. The performance will focus on

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themes related to Martin Luther King, Jr. through songs, sign-language and stories, all with an emphasis on interaction and participation. At 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m., visitors can participate in an interactive program that explores the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, from the first celebration in 1986 to President Clinton’s signing of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act in 1994, which expanded the mission of the holiday as a day of service. Visitors can learn about Dr. King’s vision and how leaders around the world have echoed his call to service. In addition, students from regional high schools and colleges and local actors will read aloud Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

Throughout the day, visitors can post their responses to questions related to Martin Luther King, Jr., diversity, and citizenship on a special “talk back” board in the Center’s Grand Hall Lobby. The day will conclude with a staff-led “Reflection Session” from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., during which volunteers can reflect on their experiences with service, what the holiday means to them, and how they feel Dr. King’s legacy is being carried out. For more information, call (215) 409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.

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First Hispanic Bar Chancellor To Be Welcomed By 1,000 he city’s outside chill will get an old-fashioned warm-touch antidote on Wednesday, Jan. 5, when a record number of handshakes are exchanged at the Philadelphia Bar Association’s annual Chancellor’s Reception from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt at The Bellevue, Broad & Walnut Streets.

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The honoree, Rudolph Garcia – the first Hispanic Chancellor in the bar association’s 209-year history – won’t be complaining even though he’ll be at the head of the line the entire time, pumping as many as 13 hands per

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minute. Garcia is a shareholder at the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC. This is the event at which even the city’s busiest and most successful legal luminaries patiently wait in a long line to wish their leader and each other good luck in the year ahead. At times, the line of nearly 1,000 well-wishers will flow through the ballroom foyer, around corridors, past meeting rooms and down to the escalator that leads guests up to the ballroom level.

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PHEAA Expands Commitment To Penna. Students And Schools P HEAA has reorganized its Pennsylvania School Services operation, formerly known as the Education Services Group, to better serve Pennsylvania students, families, schools, legislative and civic groups, and its community-based partners.

“By blending our various outreach and school services activities into a unified operation, PHEAA’s Pennsylvania School Services is better able to fulfill its mission throughout the Commonwealth with greater depth, flexibility and efficiency,” said State Rep. William Adolph, Pennsylvania School Services PHEAA Board Chairman. has been restructured to align more closely with the changing Higher Education Access Partstudent financial-aid industry and ners will conduct financial aid to better address the needs of its presentations and FAFSA Comvaried constituents in Pennsylva- pletion Sessions, promote nia. Pennsylvania School Serv- PHEAA’s career and college ices has increased its staff of planning website, offer counselor student financial aid profession- workshops, support awareness of als, with 13 newly created Higher state and federal grant opportuniEducation Access Partners and ties, and work specifically with two managers located regionally lower-income students and secthroughout the state who will ondary schools with low college promote PHEAA’s programs and attendance rates – all while services. strengthening relationships with like-minded organizations to cre-

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ate greater awareness of the importance and availability of higher education. Pennsylvania School Services will continue to work directly with postsecondary schools across the Commonwealth offering training events and informational workshops, working with the Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators on various training projects, and acting as a resource for schools as they manage and implement regulatory changes to the student financial aid programs. For the latest financial aid information and helpful tips, upcoming deadlines and free financial aid workshops, join PHEAA on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pheaa.aid.

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Streets Salutes Bennie Briscoe he Streets Dept. was saddened to learn of the passing of legendary boxer and City retiree, “Bad” Bennie Briscoe. Briscoe retired from the Philadelphia Streets Dept. in April 2009 after serving the citizens of Philadelphia for 39 years as a sanitation worker.

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While employed in the Streets Dept.’s Sanitation Division, Briscoe was an exemplary employee and was loved and admired by many of his fellows. He received various employee acknowledgments for his dedica-

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tion and hard work. “Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the Briscoe family,” said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. “Mr. Briscoe implemented his championship boxing skills into serving Philadelphia citizens. His performance as a Sanitation employee was commendable to say the least as he displayed quality skillmanship and set a high standard for any employee who worked beside him. The Streets Dept. is extremely proud to have had Mr. Briscoe as one of its employees.”

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Lombardi on Broadway Holds Appeal beyond Pro Football Obsessives

LEAD DAN LAURIA bears an uncanny resemblance to his character football coach Vince Lombardi. by Adam Taxin here is little need to elaborate on why the current Broadway bio-play Lombardi is likely to have strong appeal for Eagles fans and other

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football diehards. This is particularly true at the present time, going into the final week of the National Football League’s regular season, with an exciting, surprising Eagles team advancing to THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

the playoffs, likely as of now to play the Green Bay Packers, the team legendarily coached in the 1950s and 1960s by the play’s title character, Vince Lombardi.

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The play at Manhattan’s Circle in the Square Theater (on 50th Street west of Broadway) began performances in September and is selling tickets through Feb. 20, 2011, although performances may well be added beyond that date. Although the play has been playing at close-to-capacity audiences, tickets have actually been available for up to 50% off at TKTS booths. (For more details on TKTS booths, please see my article in Wednesday’s Public Record.) Lombardi is played by Dan Lauria, most known for playing the father on the television series The Wonder Years. Audience members reasonably familiar with the actual Lombardi will be struck by the closeness of Lauria’s physical resemblance. Personality-wise, the Lombardi character comes off, quite endearingly, as a sort of combination of NFL coach Bill Parcells and Italian-American actor Joe Pesci.

Marie is portrayed by Judith Light, also most known from television (One Life to Live, Who’s the Boss?, Ugly Betty). Keith Nobbs (The Lion in Winter) plays magazine reporter Michael McCormick, the show’s other main protagonist, in a slightly skeptical way which makes one ponder the issue of keeping journalistic integrity when reporting on largerthan-life personas. Diehard football fans who are old enough to remember Lombardi’s Packers – inevitably potential tough critics – should be pleased by the portrayals of Packer greats Paul Hornung, Dave Robinson and Jim Taylor by, respectively, Bill Dawes, Robert Christopher Riley and Chris Sullivan.

Vick Breakout” game earlier this year; he was seated next to his father, former NFL Line Judge Tony Veteri, who during his career worked five Super Bowls, including the Eagles’ loss in Super Bowl XV. Both were old enough to remember Lombardi and appeared to love the play.) Nevertheless, although I cannot personally relate to being something other than being practically obsessed with pro football, my sense is this play would appeal to non-football fans as well. The way the play covers issues of journalistic/professional integrity and of how to motivate people to be their best should hold universal appeal, as should the play’s examination of Marie Lombardi’s self-sacrifice toward the career of her positively-but-nothagiographically-portrayed husband.

It was clear from audience reaction and even audience attire that football fans comprised a significant part of the audience. (My seat happened to be next to that Adam Taxin can best be conof current NFL Line Judge Tony tacted via Facebook or at Veteri, who happened to have adamtaxin@gmail.com worked the Eagles/Redskins Lombardi’s loyal yet sacrificing Monday Night Football “Michael and sometimes acerbic wife

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