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WEEK MARCH 15, 2017 VOL. 14 NO. 11
MAYOR KENNEY Philadelphia Mayor pens Op-Ed for Spirit of the Riverwards readers. 6
HARRY KYRIAKODIS Philadelphia’s historian leaves Philadelphia. 7
BALDSPOT Spirit's own weekly games and comics. 11
ACCU-REGGIE Seven day forecast for the Riverwards. 3
COMMUNITY CALENDAR Local events, meetings and more. 12-13
HOT OFF THE
n March 21st, the 197th Legislative District will hold a special election to name a new state representative to Harrisburg. But this election is more than just “special” — it’s been all over the place. So much so, that we at Spirit News have dubbed this soap opera of a race “As the 197th Turns.” Politics looking like a soap opera? I know, you’ve all heard that one before. But this election has been especially crazy, and it’s been going on right in our backyard. You’ve got residency hearings, felonies, write-in candidates, threats, vandalism and PA Supreme Court rulings — and only one candidate on the ballot to show for it. The only way this thing gets crazier is if Steve Harvey and Warren Beatty come out to announce the winner. But no matter who announces the winner — for political nerds this race is “La La Land” — there’s a significant chance the local political machine suffers an upset defeat. Let’s recap for you folks who weren’t paying any attention because, let’s be honest, Philly politics is a lot of same ol’, same ol’. Not this time, though.
The expensive, taxpayer-funded special election came about because Leslie Acosta, the previous State Representative for the 197th District, refused to resign despite committing a felony while in office. She even won re-election due to being unopposed in the general election this past November. Acosta initially held out from resigning so she could get one of her buddies, Fred Ramirez, on the ballot, which worked at first. But after a residency hearing, a judge ruled that Ramirez didn’t live in the district he wished to represent and was thus removed from the official ballot. Since the Ramirez decision came down two days after the ballot deadline, local Democrats couldn’t put anyone on the ballot, which left Lucinda Little, the Republican candidate, as the only name on the ballot. Enter Emilio Vazquez, a Philadelphia Parking Authority employee and Democratic Leader of the 43rd Ward. He was assisting Ramirez during the Continued on Page 4.
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
BY THOM NICKELS
edbugs have invaded thousands of Philadelphia homes and institutions, and the situation is serious. Philadelphia, in fact, is one of the worst cities in the nation for bedbugs. Don’t ask me why our fair city is plagued with these creatures. Is there something in the water here, or do Philadelphians have a special problem that people in other cities do not have? The pest-control company Orkin compiled a list of the 50 worst American cities for bedbugs, and Philadelphia has been ranked number nine. Orkin based its ranking on the number of bedbug treatments they performed on residences and businesses in urban areas between 2015 and 2016. “We have more people affected by bedbugs in the United States now than ever before. They were virtually unheard of in the U.S. 10 years ago,” Orkin’s Entomologist Ron Harrison told CBS3. Bedbugs begin life as microscopic entities and then, depending on how much human blood they consume, they increase in size and weight until, in some instances, they become as large as a small- or medium-sized cockroach. Bedbugs do not fly, but they climb or jump onto things, mainly wooden and cloth surfaces where they then take great delight in laying their despicable eggs. If they happen to find a home in your mattress, they will bite you during the night. They bite in clusters of three, meaning you will notice three little dots or bruise-like blemishes on your skin. One bite is never enough for these creatures, although they can live off their first three-bite meal for a long time before their blood lust returns. It doesn’t take all that long for them to grow from small, hard-to-see bugs into significant creepy crawlers. Welcome to my nightmare, as a famous rocker once intoned. These athletic pests can even jump on you and hitch a ride on your jacket or sweater and then jump off later when you enter a new house or residence. More spaces to colonize, after all. When they park themselves in a new place they begin their cycle of destruction all over again, laying eggs and hiding in mattresses, woodwork, sofas and curtains until something or someone exposes them. Then you’re likely to see them exit en masse, often in large shocking streams that rival the congestion of ant farms. One does not have to be dirty or a lowlife sleaze to get bedbugs. Bedbugs were common in colonial America and throughout Europe. In many cases people learned to live with them. Growing up, I had elderly aunts tell me before going to bed, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite,” as if bedbugs were sweet little things with smiley faces and antennae made of chocolate that helped you sleep. I had never seen a bedbug as a kid, so I had no idea what my aunts were talking about. Ticks, bees, spiders and moths I knew, but bedbugs seemed to be a Grimm’s Fairy Tale concoction. Until I moved to the city… When my friend Sean showed me a bedbug for the first time I could barely make out its shape because it was so small. We were moving furniture into his new house when he went to move his bed headboard and a bedbug crawled out. A swarm of bugs followed, much larger in size. Sean was so disgusted he went into the bathroom to wash his hands and exclaimed loudly before the mirror: “Oh, no, not bedbugs!” Sean is such a clean fanatic that people entering his house are required to take off their shoes and put on special booties so that they won’t dirty up his floors. When he had a number of contractors working on his kitchen last spring he made them all take off their boots and put on these wraparound booties that tie up in fancy bows. Shockingly, the contrac-
tors complied like little children. Half of Sean’s living room furniture is covered up in plastic, so every time you sit down in his house you hear a series of crinkles. Generally he hates having people in his house because he equates people with dirt. So how did someone this clean get bedbugs? He got them from living in Philadelphia, of course, because at any point during his travels about the city he could have touched a railing or banister or even brushed up against someone’s curtains or coat when an eager-to-jump bedbug leaped on him and hitched a ride back to his house where it then deposited its eggs. Sean, of course, had to throw out the bed’s headboard, but this was only the beginning. He did a thorough house check and found small colonies of bugs in some uncovered pieces of furniture. He waged an expensive, never-ending war: he sprayed, vacuumed, washed and rewashed and then he wrapped the as yet uncontaminated pieces of furniture in airtight plastic wrap so the bedbugs couldn’t claim it as their own. Some of his good furniture had to be thrown away. Bedbugs have only recently become a citywide plague because over a decade ago there was an effective killer spray that killed them in a Philadelphia minute. This powerful spray nipped the problem in the bud and saved countless valuable pieces of furniture from the trash heap. Then there was the “awful” discovery that the killer component in this spray was DDT, a cancer-causing agent. The effective miracle spray was then banned with nothing of any value to replace it despite the rash of so-called sprays that promised to do the job just as effectively. All lies, of course. As the Daily Caller reported, “…Why are bedbugs back? Though they’ve been sucking humans’ blood since at least ancient Greece, bedbugs became virtually extinct in America following the invention of the pesticide DDT. There were almost no bedbugs in the United States between World War II and the mid-1990s. Around when bedbugs started their resurgence, Congress passed a major pesticides law in 1996 and the Clinton EPA banned several classes of chemicals that had been effective bedbug killers.” Thank you, Bill Clinton. The new sprays, as Sean discovered, do little or nothing because they simply aren’t strong enough. It also doesn’t help that bedbugs go into winter/cold-weather hibernation, a despicable deep coma-like sleep in which they dream of sucking blood once the warm weather approaches. In the hot weather, they reemerge unless you take the heat ventilation route. Heat remediation requires only one treatment. It utilizes fans and heaters to raise the temperature of the infested area to 120 degrees. The temperature is maintained for hours to ensure that the bedbugs and the eggs are killed. This is a cumbersome and expensive process. Homeless shelters are notorious for bedbugs despite the fact that they undergo periodic exterminations. The constant influx of new people in shelters all but guarantees new incarnations of jumping bugs eager to inhabit a fresh piece of wood on which to build their nasty nation of bloodsucking bottom feeder vampires. The most troubling part of this story is that there’s no solution to the bedbug problem unless we bring back the all powerful DDT spray. Some cities and municipalities are considering doing this because their bedbug problems are that great. It’s sad to think that DDT may be the only real answer, especially in our hometown where bedbugs seem to be everywhere, most notably on the coat of the person sitting next to you on the Market-Frankford Line.
THOM NICKELS IS A PHILADELPHIA BASED AUTHOR, JOURNALIST, POET, FILM CRITIC & FEATURE WRITER FOR SPIRIT NEWS.
Today, Sean is bedbug-free, but the experience has made him even more of a clean fanatic. Visitors to his home, even those contractors I mentioned, have to go through a doubled-up vetting process. While Sean hasn’t gone to the extreme length of asking people to remove their clothing or demand that they put on double booties and gloves, I fully expect that this will be the case if he ever gets bedbugs again.•
Did you know that Spirit News has it’s own radio show? Tune into Spirit News Radio every Wednesday night on WPPM - FM 106.5 from 6-6:30PM. We discuss local news, arts and entertainment pertaining to the various neighborhoods we cover across Philadelphia. Can’t tune in live? You can download our radio show each week in podcast form on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play. Thanks for tuning in!
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
S E V E N D AY F O R E C A S T F O R T H E R I V E R WA R D S
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his storm sure was a monster! While the Blizzard Warning did not live up to it’s expectations in the suburbs, this was still a high impact storm. Snow and sleet accumulations generally ranged 5-8 inches in Philadelphia with 6-12 inches in the suburbs. Unfortunately, the sleet came in earlier than expected and dominated, otherwise, we would have doubled our snow totals! Looking ahead, this forecast period is much calmer, but still cold. Our temperatures will rise and level out as we head into the weekend, however. The weather has been so wild lately, it’s hard to write off any more snow chances, but the
good news is that the likelihood of snow is dramatically less the second half of March than the first half. Wednesday and Thursday are cold days with temperatures struggling to get to freezing. The wind will make it feel much colder along with blowing snow. Nighttime temperatures will be frigid and in the teens. Friday is a chilly day, but the Arctic air eases as temperatures rebound into the 40s. Clouds increase later in the day. A band of showers comes through early Saturday before things get windier and colder. Temperatures will start the day warm — some places may be near 50 — before colder air works its way in.
A developing coastal storm on Sunday in New England may try push some snow showers our way, but the chances of anything significant are small. Monday is a cool day in the wake of the storm to our north. We will see some showers on Tuesday and temperatures jump to the 50s. As always, follow us on social media for live updates! •
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The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
Continued from Page 1. residency hearing and occasionally runs for office himself, according to PA Department of State records. While setting up a write-in campaign, Vazquez also appealed to get his name on the ballot. According to PPA rules, he had to take a leave of absence or quit his $58,220-a-year job at the airport to run for office, which he had not done at the time of his candidacy. As the Democrats scrambled, longtime local community activist Cheri Honkala decided to run on the Green Party ticket. However, Honkala and the Greens were told they missed the filing deadline due to a missing paper, despite being assured that all was in order. They then lost their appeal in court and thus will also be held off of the official ballot. Honkala has continued to campaign as a write-in candidate. Dirty campaigning has also followed some of these candidates home. Someone scoured Honkala’s Facebook friends list and started asking the ones with Hispanic-sounding names for dirt on Honkala and votes for Fred Ramirez. Honkala also told Spirit News that her tires were flattened and one of her staffer’s cars was vandalized. Meanwhile, after Ramirez got kicked off the ballot, someone scrawled a note that read “You will pay bitch for Fred” and dropped it off at Little’s house. Is the soap opera analog a little clearer now? Like candidates on a ballot, so are the days of our lives. Now that you’re caught up with “As the 197th Turns,” let’s meet the candidates, so you can decide who you want to represent your district in Harrisburg for the next two years, or know who to root for when this season concludes on Election Day next week! Lucinda Little - Republican Lucinda Little is on the ballot for the Republicans. Yes, the Party of Lincoln, which is fitting because he was probably president the last time a Republican represented this neighborhood. Okay, that’s not true, but it’s been about 50 years. Even if Little wins, she isn’t exactly Steve Bannon. She’s not a Trump fan, she supports organized labor, and she will not help the Republicans beat up Philly’s sanctuary city status (the 197th is primarily Hispanic). Sitting in her modest home she shares with her husband, Jeff, Little explained that she’s “not even a politician,” let alone a Republican or a Democrat. If she ends up in Har-
This store clerk has a baseball bat waiting for anyone coming to collect soda tax./Bob Stewart
Lucinda Little in trash strewn lot with Angel Nebot./Bob Stewart risburg, “everyone is a potential ally… Democrats, Republicans, the polka-dot party,” she said. Little can distance herself from the GOP all she wants and her political stances may even substantiate some of that, but another city Republican said the affiliation with the party in charge of the state could be beneficial for the city. State Rep. Martina White (170th) spoke about access to the statewide Republicans in committees and getting funds for Philly. “Having us at the table for these conversations is really important,” she told Spirit News in February. “It’s what allows us to get more dollars for Philadelphia, or at least [dollars] we send up back.” While White can’t count on Little’s support for action against sanctuary cities, she would get an ally against the soda tax. White was one of 36 state legislators to sign an amicus brief against the tax (Angel Cruz (D-180th) also signed it). Little walked around her district with other local Republicans like Ross Feinberg and Chris Sawyer, who both ran for citywide offices recently, and told business owners about her opposition to the tax. One corner store owner, who would only give her name as Veronica, was selling 99 cent soda for more than $2. She became angry when discussing the tax. Through an interpreter she said, “The tax is terrible” and “It is too much.” She then grabbed a baseball bat and began yelling. The interpreter explained that the bat was for the person who tries to collect the tax. Little said most residents complain about the trash in the streets, abandoned houses and the lack of jobs. She says she plans to address all of these things in Harrisburg. Little explained to one resident, “We’re actually creating an app for your cell phone [to report] any problems,” adding that the even though the city has a 311 app, people say it takes the city too long to address the issues. She further explained that her app will allow constituents to report any problems they are having with government, “including taxes… and will give you direct access to me.” As Little made her way through the neighborhood she came upon two gentleman working on a 1996 Isuzi Trooper. One
of them, Angel Nebot, explained that he used to “work for the government” back in Puerto Rico. “I used to have 34 people in my charge,” he said. Those workers planted trees, cleaned sidewalks, painted bridges and worked in hospitals. Nebot walked Little up to an abandoned lot he is concerned about, saying that a lot like this wouldn’t exist under his watch in Puerto Rico. The lot is what would be Bristol Street between Reece and 5th. Little began taking notes while Sawyer pointed out the city wants to pay an exorbitant amount to cap I-95 downtown “but could spend $5 million right here” and revitalize the neighborhood. Cheri Honkala - Green Cheri Honkala, the Green Party candidate, was knocked off the ballot due to having some information from her nomination paperwork missing and failing to get that info in on time. Honkala questions the legitimacy of that process and says that she was assured by officials before the deadline that all was in order. Despite her frustration — a member of Honkala’s team said without a Democrat on the ballot the election would be a “slam dunk” for them if they were on the ballot — she has decided to continue on as a write-in candidate. Despite being knocked off the ballot, Honkala says she’s still the target of the Democrats. “The big boys are coming after me,” Honkala said, with a sly smile indicating a resigned pride. “Running for office is dangerous in Philly.” She speaks from experience: “I was an election monitor in El Salvador and in Venezuela,” she said. “What happens in this city makes the corruption look like nothing in those countries.” Honkala’s policy issues are a little more flashy than those of most politicians. While she identifies many of the same issues of her Republican opponent, her solutions are very different. “My office will be a sanctuary,” she said. Her stance is elabContinued on Page 5.
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017 Continued from Page 4. orated on her website: “Immigration officials will have to break into State Representative Honkala’s office and go through her and her lawyers to get to a member of our community.” Honkala is also a renowned advocate for homeless people. In fact, she was once homeless herself and understands the experience. “People call me crazy,” she said. “But I intend to share my salary, my daily per diem, and the day after I’m elected I’m gonna ‘Pull-a-Cheri.’” Honkala said her son calls “Pull-a-Cheri” a verb because it’s an action word. “I’m gonna drive around the district, I’m gonna load up the van and I’m ending homelessness the day after my election,” she said. “I’m gonna take them to the agencies... that get millions of dollars to deal with the issue of homelessness. Because I want to flip the script. It should be against the law to let women and children freeze on the street.” Walking around Francisville, Honkala chatted up multiple neighbors at a time. While policy issues came up, more often than not residents didn’t even know there was an election. “I didn’t hear about it on TV,” said one man. “Where do I vote?” asked another. Honkala explained this problem but thinks the energy of this race is a sign of change. “I think that the end of corruption has started,” she said. “It’s the beginning of participatory democracy. They didn’t want anybody to know there was a special election; they didn’t want anybody to get involved and most of the places I’ve been in the district nobody has ever knocked on their door.” Honkala attributes this to the fact that the party machine has the voters that they need and have no inclination to increase voter turnout with people that might not do what they tell them to do. “If you have 26 people that vote you’re breaking the rules if you bring out the 27th, 28th and 29th person,” Cheri added. Now, in an ironic twist, it will be the Democrats who need to teach people about write-ins if they want to win. Other write-in candidates for the 197th Legislative District include: Emilio Vazquez - Democrat Vazquez did not return calls to confirm he is still running after the Supreme Court ruled against him and the Democrats. He was assisting Ramirez at his residency hearing. He is the Democratic leader of the 43rd Ward. The only ward leader reached for comment, who would not allow her name to be used in print, said she will support the Party-backed write-in no matter who it is. When asked if she thought Emilio Vazquez was who she would back, she repeated, “I will support the Party-backed candidate.” Regarding operating a write-in campaign, she said, “We just gotta work it.” Other rumored write-ins are: Edward Lloyd, Orlando Acosta, Juan Rodriguez, Danita Bates and five or thirty others. Disney did not respond to inquiries as to whether Mickey Mouse is officially a candidate, though like Fred Ramirez, he
Cheri Honkala answers questions as she campaigns through the neighborhood./Bob Stewart spends a lot of time in Orlando, Florida and may not survive a residency challenge. What to expect on Election Day The District Attorney’s office will have boots on the ground to ensure that this special election goes smoothly and without any foul play. They will be utilizing the staff that speaks Spanish, according to Cameron Kline, spokesperson for the office. Voters can call 215-686-9641, 9643, 9644 if they experience any problems casting their ballot. There are 76 divisions involved in this election (all of the 43rd and 19th wards, parts of 11, 16, 37, 42, and 49th wards). To vote for Little, a voter would simply need to push her ballot button. To vote for Honkala or one of the other write-ins, a voter will need to push the “write-in” button and then write or stamp the candidate’s name into the box provided. The process of voting for a write-in candidate can be confusing and the judge-of-elections can not walk into the booth to help. Interestingly enough, neither the Democrats nor the Greens can put poll watchers in the election area as they are not on the ballot. The Republicans and Little will be trying to staff all divisions. Honkala is not happy with not having eyes on the process. “If you have nothing to hide all of our tables should have all parties [present],” she said. “Election integrity is the most important thing; otherwise, we don’t have democracy.” When the polls close, a grocery-receipt-like paper will print out with the totals and the write-in names. The local judgeof-elections (each division has one) along with the majority and minority inspectors will sign the sheets and put them in a vinyl pouch along with a cartridge with the electronic votes. A City Commissioner’s Office employee will bring the results bag to the office at Delaware and Spring Garden Streets. Typically a police officer will guard the results overnight. All we’ll know on the night of Election Day is how many people voted for Lucinda Little and how many people pushed the write-in button. The Commissioners won’t count who got the write-in votes until Friday, March 24th. “Since it is a state election, we total up the numbers and send them to the PA Department of State in Harrisburg for them to certify the winner,” said Al Schmidt, one of the three City Commissioners. One issue with write-ins is misspelling, which is why candidates try to have voters use a stamp (Honkala’s team purchased hundreds of them). The City Commissioners will tally actual results up and not try figure out who the voter actually voted for. “What we do is certify how many votes were cast for each name or each permutation of the name,” Schmidt said. “Then we may have 27 for ‘E. Vazquez,’ 52 for ‘Emilio Vazquez,’ five for ‘Edgardo Vazquez.’” Then the State will combine them together or there will be legal action.
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What may happen is dispute over whether “E. Vazquez” is a vote for Emilio Vazquez or some other person named Edgardo Vazquez. Yes, folks. This may not be over for a while. Of course, if Little outpaces all write-ins combined it will be known quickly that she won. Every vote counts! If you live in the 197th be sure to cast your ballot at your local polling location. Follow Spirit News for continued coverage of this Special Election. •
ANATOMY OF AN UPSET How an All-Star Lawyer Orchestrated a Political Upset Against the Local Democratic Machine -Rep. Acosta is convicted of a felony but keeps that info on the QT and runs for re-election. - The info comes to light between the primary and general election. -The Democrats can’t agree on a candidate to replace her. Rep. Acosta won’t resign unless she get “her way.” She wins an uncontested general election. - “Her way” is Fred Ramirez. - A couple of Democratic voters challenge Ramirez’s candidacy based on residency. - Linda Kerns, a lawyer who often handles election cases for the Philly GOP, takes the case. - Kerns subpoenas utility bills, which show very little usage at Ramirez’s property in the 197th. - Kerns also astutely subpoenaed all bills in Ramirez’s name, which yielded evidence that Ramirez lived in another part of the city. - Kerns also learned that fab-5-Freddy had a couple of different birthdates and questioned him on that. - Ramirez’s testimony is awesome but damages his credibility. - The judge orders Ramirez removed from the ballot. - The Dems move to put Emilio Vazquez on the ballot but the Ramirez case took too long and they missed the deadline. - The Dems appealed to the Commonwealth to order the Dept. of State to ignore their rules and put Vazquez on the ballot. - Kerns petitions to intervene and points out that the Dems can only do this if Ramirez died or withdrew, which was not the case. The judge agreed with Kerns. - The Dems, seeming to know that would happen, immediately filed an appeal to the PA Supreme court - Kerns files what she called, “Probably the fastest brief I’ve written in my life.” The court rules against Vazquez. - Republican Little is the only one left on the ballot.
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The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
W R I T T E N B Y M AY O R J I M K E N N E Y
P H I L A D E L P H I A M AY O R P E N S O P - E D F O R R I V E R WA R D S R E S I D E N T S
ince I took office in January 2016, I have partnered with a different neighborhood paper each month to answer their readers’ questions. Spirit News asked if this time, instead, I would write an op-ed on the budget I proposed to City Council on March 2nd and the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. With regards to my budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, I asked City Council to invest in two major areas: health and human services that will uplift our most vulnerable; and job-creating initiatives that will create economic opportunity for all Philadelphians. Our health and human service investments are targeted at strengthening our child welfare system and combating lead poisoning, opioid addiction, and homelessness. The job creating initiatives outlined in the budget are focused on spreading Philadelphia’s resurgence to all our neighborhoods and to assisting Philadelphians facing barriers to employment. Most notably, Rebuild, the City’s $500 million project to renovate parks, rec centers and libraries funded by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, will kick off this summer. I also announced a plan to borrow $90 million over the next six years to build a cap over I-95 and transform Penn’s landing into a civic and economic hub. The budget also seeks to make Philadelphia stronger economically across the board by continuing the city’s reduction of wage and business taxes, instituting pension reform, and by making important investments in transportation and public safety. Perhaps most excitingly for residents, these investments in transportation include an additional $170 million investment in street repaving. I will use the remainder of this space to answer some of the frequent questions we receive regarding the Philadelphia Beverage Tax. Where is the tax revenue going? I heard most of it actually
isn’t going to pre-K, schools, parks, rec centers and libraries. Those programs are still ramping up, so this year, 75 percent of the tax revenue is going towards pre-K, community schools and Rebuild (the investment in parks, rec centers and libraries). When those programs are fully operational in two-and-a-half years, they will receive 97 percent of the tax revenue. The remaining 3 percent of revenue is spent on the Healthy Stores Tax Credit, which was passed in the spring to help small businesses negatively impacted by the tax, and to cover costs to collect the tax. To date, the tax has funded 2,000 free, quality pre-k seats which has in turn created 251 jobs in the early education sector. The number of seats is expected to grow to 6,500 over the next five years. The tax is also currently supporting nine community schools that serve 4,500 students, 75 percent of whom are living at or below the poverty line. Community schools address the issues our children face outside the classroom that often inhibit them from learning, like hunger, poverty or trauma. The tax will also support the renovation of parks, rec centers and libraries through a program called Rebuild. That program will launch in mid2017. Pepsi and other soda sellers are saying the tax is causing mass job lay-offs. This is the same industry that spent $10 million and made plenty of misleading claims trying to kill the tax, and is now funding a lawsuit against the city over it, so we should be skeptical of any unverifiable numbers that they put out. It’s particularly tough to accept their claim that they have to lay off workers now when they are still spending hundreds of thousands on advertising, lobbyists, and lawyers. While a decline in sugary drink sales is what health experts want and expect, it is not at all a reason to expect business or job losses. In Mexico, a soda tax was followed by a drop
Mayor Jim Kenney./Kaitlyn Moore in sales of sugary drinks, but that fall was balanced by an even bigger increase in the sales of bottled water and other untaxed beverages. Philadelphia has also seen with its liquor and amusement taxes that while people initially drive outside the city in anger, they eventually stop commuting because of the time and expense required to make those trips. I heard the tax is regressive. The soda industry disproportionately advertised in low-income, minority communities for decades and, as a result, those communities suffered from regressive, expensive diseases like diabetes and obesity. This tax asks industry to give a little money back to those they’ve profited off for decades so the city can fund critical anti-poverty programs, namely pre-k, community schools and parks, rec centers and libraries. Why are juices and milk substitutes taxed? 100 percent juices are only subject to the tax if the phase “added sugar” is on the label, or if they have an added sweetener, which you can tell my reading the nutrition label. Unsweetened milk substitutes are also not taxed and even sweetened substitutes that are nutritionally equivalent to milk are not taxed. To find a list of non-taxable juice and milk substitute brands, go to phillybevtax.com •
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The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
WRITTEN BY JACQUIE MAHON
Harry Kyriakodis P H I L A D E L P H I A’ S H I S T O R I A N L E AV E S P H I L A D E L P H I A
arry Kyriakodis is a man who knows the value of the past. The history of a building, an industry, a town enriches its present-day metamorphosis, just as the warm and immersive sound of vinyl records has led to a resurgence in their popularity. Places such as the Standard Tap in Northern Liberties, on a block where several 19th-century inns and taverns once resided; Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles in Fishtown, operating in a building that housed Morse Elevator Works in 1886; and the Philadelphia Brewing Company in Kensington, occupying portions of the Weisbrod & Hess Brewery built in 1885, rise up on the embers of other souls’ creative ideas, working hands, conversations and plans. We carry their energy forward with us. Harry sees in his mind’s eye the thicket of ships’ masts that once crowded the Delaware River to load lumber, furs and wheat. He hears the echoes of the immigrants trudging the wooden sidewalks to offer their skills, growing our Chinatown, our South Philly Italian neighborhoods, the textile mills of Manayunk. He imagines new-fangled motorcars vying with horses, carts and carriages on Queen Street. Harry has been deeply immersed in the history of Philadelphia for 20 years, since he moved to Pier 3 Condominium at Penn’s Landing in 1997. He has published three books via Arcadia Publishing and the History Press (Charleston, SC)— Philadelphia’s Lost Waterfront (2011), Northern Liberties: The Story of a Philadelphia River Ward (2012), and The Benjamin Franklin Parkway (2014)—with a fourth, entitled Underground Philadelphia, on the way. “It all started on my bicycle,” Harry said. “I commuted to work by bike and was intrigued by the many hidden markers of Philly’s origins.” As a master researcher, curiosity naturally led to investigation, as well as ever-widening circles of interest. Products of these explorations have included memberships in the Association of Philadelphia Tour Guides and the national Society for Industrial Archaeology; walking tours and presentations offered via the Mural Arts Program, the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia, the Battleship of New Jersey, and Laurel Hill Mansion for those eager to learn about unique areas of the city; and regular articles for Hidden City Philadelphia, Workshop of the World, and other websites. But it all began with wondering about an old building he cycled past, and buying a book in search of the answer. And another book. And then . . . “My collection on Philadelphia is now about 2,700 titles,” Harry says. It was 10 years of riding, wondering, purchasing, and reading before he decided to write his own book. Harry laughs: “Quick thinkers, we Greeks.” As we talk, his cat Laurel, a stray from the grounds of Laurel Hill Mansion, climbs on a stack of books that includes the titles Wicked Philadelphia, History of Brewing in the Cradle of Liberty, and Gimbels Has It! The walls are lined with loaded shelves. Harry grew up in northeast Philadelphia, where his parents had settled after emigrating from Greece. His dad was an innovative auto mechanic with his own garage who offered bays for rent to do-it-yourselfers. His mom was a homemaker. After college and a stint as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Harry accepted a position at the American Law Institute (ALI) doing legal research and specialty archival work and moved to Center City. He eventually decided to pursue a law degree at Temple University, where his writing skills advanced. “Here at Pier 3, right on the Delaware River, I thought a lot about our storied waterfront.”
The Northern Liberties book came about because he couldn’t find one to add to his collection. Researching the neighborhood unveiled a rich trove of ethnic, craft, and religious movements beginning in 1682. Northern Liberties was one of the largest cities in the fledgling United States. As Harry’s book explains, it began as a portion of 16,236 rural acres that encircled the city and were termed the “Liberties of Philadelphia.” There were also Western and the Southern Liberties. Early populations included “German artisans and tradesmen,” Quakers, and Polish immigrants. The book abounds with fascinating detail, such as how the North End was “Philadelphia’s first outlaw district.” Jewish and Presbyterian denominations also swept in, and at one time “the Liberties became a center of the city’s free black community.” The text covers 330 years of history. Writing it allowed Harry—and allows us—to celebrate the past of our special neighborhoods. Unfortunately life, as it has a way of doing, handed Harry a large lump in 2015: he was laid off by the ALI in a general downsizing of the firm. He leaves behind much good work, including the creation of 190 internet seminars. As for many folks, it has been tough to find a new position. Harry’s skills are specialized but also quite translatable. Employers sometimes have to be guided to see that. Currently Harry is a weekend librarian at the Ryerss Museum and Library in Fox Chase. He is selling his waterfront home, packing up his mint 1967 four-door Chevy Impala,
Harry Kyriakodis/Jacquie Mahon
and relocating to Bristol to join his girlfriend. Harry Kyriakodis, himself a hidden treasure of Philadelphia, is leaving the city he loves. •
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
WRITTEN BY STEVE BOHNEL
Local Education T E A C H E R S P I C K E T A T H . A . B R O W N O N I N T E R N A T I O N A L W O M E N ’ S D AY
enry A. Brown Elementary School is a struggling school in East Kensington. Last year, the state’s Department of Education gave it a 47.3 tally for its Building Level Academic Score. But Keren Tal, who’s expecting a child in September, doesn’t view that as a deterrent. “I would absolutely send my child to this school,” said Tal, a literacy-based leader and co-dean of students at the school. “The teachers are phenomenal, every single one. We’re a strong group, we support each other. And where we lack in areas, our staff, our teachers really help us back up.” Tal was one of a couple dozen educators picketing outside of Brown Wednesday morning to commemorate International Women’s Day. Councilman Bobby Henon and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) President Jerry Jordan were also present. Henon, Jordan and others called on school district administrators and the School Reform Commission to draft a new contract between educators and the district. There hasn’t been an agreement for about five years. “The games need to change,” Jordan told the crowd on the southeast corner of Jasper and Sergeant Streets. “There needs to be a contract between you and the district.” Multiple speakers noted that the teaching staff of Brown Elementary and the entire district is 75 percent women and that many of them have to spend their personal income on supplies for students. Mark Meena, a fourth grade teacher at Brown and the building representative for the PFT, said another issue is that the district is losing good teachers because of inadequate pay, especially for those who get master’s degrees. He told Spirit News women specifically deserve a fair shake. “The fact we haven’t had a contract in five years is an insult to them, but also to educators in general,” he said. “I don’t think it would happen to a male-dominated profession.” During the picket, Jordan illustrated the importance of female teachers to the crowd. “Imagine H.A. Brown without any women. How would it operate?” he asked those gathered. Support for women was a central message of all the speakers. Councilman Henon told Spirit News he attended the picket Wednesday to show solidarity for International Women’s Day and urge the SRC to negotiate a contract with the PFT. He added the solution to the five-year contract deadlock should be simple.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers stand with PFF Preident Jerry Jordan and City Councilman Bobby Henon outside of H.A. Brown Elementray School./Steve Bohnel
“A few years ago, the city of Philadelphia turned in 40,000 signatures to have local control of our SRC,” Henon said. “But I think it comes down to economics and respect. Not only in financial support, but support for our teachers who are educating our kids every day and having better working conditions.” Henon added that organized teachers and the PFT should send a strong message to the SRC and should bring people “back to the table” for a contract.
Tal wants female teachers to keep fighting for equal rights. “I think this is a big year for the woman because I do feel if this was a male-dominated career, then I don’t think we would have gone five years without a contract,” she said. “And we need to show we’re an important part of our nation economically and as a whole.” •
Whenever those negotiations occur, it’s imperative that the new contract is fair for everybody, Jordan said. “I think this is an issue of a lack of respect, and it’s not just women; it’s men who work in this system as well,” he said. “If we’re able to successfully reach a contract, it’s not going to be earmarked by sex,” he said. “It’s going to be a contract that covers all teachers, male [and] female.” Jordan said the PFT organized to picket outside other schools for International Women’s Day. There were also other events throughout the city, including a march at 5PM from Logan Square to the Thomas Paine Plaza.
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Keren Tal being interviewed by TV reporters outside of H.A. Brown./Steve Bohnel
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
COURTESY OF THE NKCDC
FELIX TORRES-COLON NAMED NEXT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF NKCDC
he New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) has named Felix Torres-Colon as its next executive director. Torres-Colon is a veteran leader in the community development field with diverse experience in three metropolitan regions — New England, Baltimore, and greater Philadelphia and New Jersey. He brings a lifelong commitment to community development, deep familiarity with the Philadelphia region, and warm relationships with many of the NKCDC’s partners, including the congressionally chartered NeighborWorks America organization, of which the NKCDC is a member. “I was delighted to learn of Felix’s appointment as the NKCDC’s executive director,” said Joan Straussman, interim regional vice-president of NeighborWorks America Northeast Region. “Felix is a true champion of community development and fully understands what it takes to lead a successful organization. I have known Felix for many years working at NeighborWorks organizations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland and New Jersey. I look forward to continuing to support the exciting work of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, and to working with Felix in his new role,” Straussman said. Until recently, Torres-Colon served as Director of Program Development at Saint Joseph’s Carpenter Society (SJCS), a nonprofit devoted to improving quality of life and creating safe neighborhoods through homeownership in Camden, New Jersey. While at SJCS, he acted as a senior advisor to the executive director and as asset manager for over 300 rental units. He also supervised the organization’s expansion into three surrounding municipalities and helped start several new programs. Previously, from 2006 to 2011, Torres-Colon was executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore where he helped develop a foreclosure prevention program, chaired the Homeownership Preservation Coalition of Baltimore and pioneered a new payday lending program to compete with predatory payday lenders. From 1996 to 2005, Torres-Colon served as executive director of Manchester Neighborhood Housing Services in Manchester, New Hampshire—now NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire. The organization became a NeighborWorks Homeownership Center under his leadership, developing 140 units of rental housing and 20 units of homeownership, establishing a rehab program and pro-
Felix Torres-Colon maded new executive director at NKCDC./Courtesy NKCDC viding homeownership counseling to over 1,900 families. At the NKCDC, Torres-Colon takes the place of longtime executive director Sandy Salzman, who announced her retirement in October. “I can’t believe how happy I am that the board hired Felix Torres-Colon as my replacement,” Salzman said. “I have known Felix many years through NeighborWorks America. With executive leadership experience in several dynamic NeighborWorks organizations, Felix brings exactly the skills we need to make a seamless transition and forge ahead with the NKCDC’s work.” “Felix is a kind and generous people person and I believe that the NKCDC staff and community members will come to appreciate his caring and calm nature as much as I have,” Salzman said. “I am very familiar with the NKCDC having enjoyed Sandy Salzman’s contribution during many NeighborWorks meetings over the years,” Torres-Colon said. “I know that Sandy, her staff and the board have built one of the best CDCs in the country. I’m honored to be able to join them and contribute to this legacy.” “Along with the staff, the Philadelphia communities the NKCDC works with are engaged and actively transforming themselves, which is a critical part of their success. Working with communities is the best job in community development,” he said. Torres-Colon was selected through a rigorous five-month national search led by the NKCDC board president Wesley Cascone, vice president Timothy Lederer, and board members Deborah McColloch, Marilyn Pitt and Maura Shenker. Frontline Solutions (www.frontlinesol.com), a Philadelphia-based consulting firm, provided assistance. The NKCDC staff were engaged throughout the process. Out of near-
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ly 60 applicants, three finalists received interviews, fielded staff questions and toured the community. “The excitement around the hiring of Felix is not only with his breadth of knowledge and experience within our service lines or his calm leadership presence,” Cascone said, “but also his passion to push the NKCDC forward to expand its recognition as a leading and innovative CDC in the Northeast.” Torres-Colon holds a bachelor’s degree in History from Harvard University and completed graduate coursework in City Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He speaks fluent Spanish. Currently he serves as Board President for the Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey, creating partnerships of community development organizations and public health entities to improve healthcare and social services for southern New Jersey residents. Torres-Colon lives in Willingboro, New Jersey, with his wife, Sharon Anderson, and several rescue dogs. His first day at the NKCDC will be March 16. •
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
WRITTEN BY THOMAS BECK
POLITICAL POETRY READING UPCOMING AT RANDOM TEA ROOM IN NOLIBS
n Thursday, March 23, the Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop at 713 North 4th Street in Northern Liberties will be hosting Poets for Peace, a spoken-word event that aims to foster a sense of hope and camaraderie among the American people by exploring the country’s current political climate. The event will run from 6PM - 9PM. “An event like this reading is important because it offers a safe space for dialogue and eventually healing,” said Marshall James Kavanaugh, one of the performing poets and
the founder of Poets for Peace. “Through community we heal. Through community we can create a world of peace.” Also scheduled to perform are Marquis Wright-Lee, Amber Renee, Lindo Yes and Stephanie B., all of whom are based in or around Philadelphia. By publicly reciting their work, these five poets will strive to spread a message of love and unity to all people and bring them together as one, regardless of political stances or ideological leanings. “The ultimate goal of Poets for Peace is to inspire,” said Kavanaugh. “Inspire hope. Inspire change. Inspire movement.
I’d love for the people who attend our readings to walk away with broader worldviews.” Visit the Random Tea Room and Curiosity Shop’s Facebook page to RSVP. Donations for the performers will be collected on the night of the event.
WRITTEN BY JEN COLLETTA
GREENSGROW HONORS LATE FOUNDER AS IT OPENS 20TH SEASON “Greensgrow aims to inspire people to what’s possible, and you can never have too much inspiration.” As urban agricultural hub Greengsrow Farms embarks on its 20th season, Executive Director Ryan Kuck said the organization will be drawing its own inspiration from its late founder, Mary Seton Corboy. Corboy passed away last summer after spending nearly two decades growing Greensgrow. In 1997, she and business partner Tom Sereduk transformed a vacant Kensington lot into an urban farm, launching a venture that has fed countless Philadelphians and become a national model in the industry. It is Corboy’s memory, and her love of a good party, that will be at the core of next weekend’s opening-weekend activities. “She always loved throwing a party, so we envisioned this event as a festive collaboration to bring people together and raise awareness about the important role urban farming plays in our community,” Kuck said. On March 25, the organization will welcome community members to the farm at 2501 E. Cumberland St. for an open house from 4PM - 6:30PM. The following day, its West Philadelphia outpost, Greensgrow West (5123 Baltimore Ave.), will open its doors from 11:30AM - 2:30PM for live music and the unveiling of a new education center. Food and hors d’oeuvres will be served at both events. Five percent of garden-center sales throughout the weekend will be donated to Mary’s Community Fund, a grantmaking program Greensgrow launched shortly after Corboy’s passing to support community-led greening and beautification projects. Several grants have already been distributed through the fund, after supporters donated $40,000 at Corboy’s memorial and through direct appeals. The organization is opening its season with the launch of the 20th Anniversary Capital Campaign, which aims to generate funds earmarked for infrastructure, such as a new farmstand and expanded programming. Greensgrow programming has a community focus, Kuck said.
Two years after launching the farm, its founders transitioned it from a for-profit to nonprofit venture. “I like to say that Mary and Tom realized that growing food in a city is a provocative act,” Kuck said. “It forced them to recognize that when you occupy an entire city block in a neighborhood like Kensington, it comes with social responsibility to that neighborhood. As a result, our nonprofit was born.” From there, Greensgrow gradually went from “the farm as a distributor of product to the farm as an importer of people,” Kuck said. “We now welcome about 10,000 people through our gates each year, and host a dozen programs to teach and inspire them about small gardening and urban farming,” he added. “We’re a platform that gives everyone a sense of belonging, and we continually strive to discover new ways for them to engage with us, be it craft fairs, food preparation, weddings, kids’ education and always getting fresh food.” In its 20th season, Greensgrow will continue to grow its SNAP Box Initiative, an affordable farm-share initiative, and is also launching the Young Farmers Club. The program, made possible by a grant from Target, will feature weekly workshops and cooking sessions for local youth. Youth were also integral to the creation of a mural that will be unveiled at the Kensington location next weekend. The intergenerational artwork, supported by Portside Arts Center and St. Anne’s Senior Center, is the result of a collaboration among 12 local seniors and 24 youth ages 8-12. St. Anne’s painting teacher Michael Secor and muralist Cesar Viveros led the project, which was updated after Corboy’s passing to include a panel with her image. Kuck said he’s eager to try to fulfill Corboy’s goal of bringing the mission of Greensgrow nationwide. “Mary always hoped that other people would see the success of Greensgrow and try to replicate it in other cities,” he said. “As her illness progressed, she wasn’t able to be as active in our consulting and support services to get people across that finish line, and that’s something I’d like to continue to prioritize.”
For the time being, Kuck is looking forward to continuing to bring the Greensgrow passion for urban farming to local residents. Opening weekend, he added, is a good opportunity for the influx of new residents to the area to learn about the organization — and to celebrate the long-awaited end of the cold winter months. “Spring is just a magical time to come to the farm,” Kuck said. “The greenhouse is bursting with plants, and the trees and flowers are just starting to show off their wonder. It’s a good reminder that Kensington, and every city neighborhood, contain tremendous beauty and charm.” For more information about Greensgrow Farms, visit www. greensgrow.org. •
Greensgrow Farms Riverwards location./Thomas Beck
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
Sanctuary Cities Frequently Asked Questions By the City of Philadelphia What is a sanctuary city?
k There is no singular, legal definition of what constitutes n a sanctuary city, so the term means different things to different people. In Philadelphia, we cooperate fully with all law enforcement agencies, including federal agencies, to support criminal and terrorism investigations and apprehend those accused of crimes. We also do not stop Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) from arresting anyone in Philadelphia, if ICE believes they are undocumented. Additionally, if ICE presents a warrant to the City for an inmate in City custody, the City will cooperate with ICE by allowing ICE to take that person into ICE custody. The only place where the City does not cooperate is when it comes to what are known as “detainer requests.” Detainer requests are requests made by ICE to local jurisdictions, such as our Prisons, to hold someone without a warrant because ICE suspects that the person may be undocumented. These requests are not mandatory or legally binding – they are merely requests. The City is not breaking any law by not complying with these requests. Philadelphia does not comply with detainer requests because holding someone in jail without a legal warrant is unconstitutional and puts us at risk for serious financial liability. In fact, a federal court in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh County ruled that local jurisdictions could be liable for
hundreds of thousands of dollars in lawsuits for holding individuals based solely on ICE detainer requests. Additionally, in order to strengthen trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, Philadelphia Police Officers do not ask about anyone’s immigration status. We’ve found this policy keeps our officers safe and helps them solve crimes because immigrants are willing to come forward to report crimes when they are victims and act as witnesses. Why is Philadelphia a sanctuary city? Adopting sanctuary policies has kept crime low and our city safe. Philadelphia is at the lowest crime rate we've had in 40 years, partly because of all that our Police Department has done to strengthen police-community relations. If we are forced to reverse this policy, immigrants will become less likely to report crimes and it is very hard for our officers to solve crimes without witnesses. Additionally, there’s little evidence that immigrants make communities any less safe—in fact the opposite is true. In areas where immigration has increased, crime either remains stable, or in areas where immigration is high, serious crimes are in fact lower than other areas. Philadelphia is not the only city or county to adopt and implement sanctuary policies – at least 18 rural and suburban counties and municipalities in Pennsylvania have adopted similar policies. This includes rural counties like Westmoreland, Lycoming and Pike and cities like York and Erie (among many others). They all have similar policies because of the significant financial burden, operational challenges, potential liability and legal complications related to cooperation. Lehigh County was successfully sued and paid nearly $100,000 after ICE incorrectly identified a man and the county held him at ICE’s request. What about the undocumented individuals that commit
Page 11 crimes? An undocumented individual who commits a crime is not afforded special rights simply because we are a sanctuary city. Anyone who commits a crime will be pursued and prosecuted by the City, no matter what their immigration status. Sanctuary city laws do not allow dangerous criminals to evade ICE officials and reoffend. ICE has the power to keep dangerous undocumented individuals from being released, all they need to do is obtain a warrant - the same requirement made of every other law enforcement agency in the country - and the City of Philadelphia will honor that warrant. Is the city’s funding from the state and federal government at risk of being cut due to the sanctuary city status? So far, Philadelphia faces challenges to our sanctuary city status from the federal government, via a Presidential Executive Order and from the PA General Assembly via Senate Bill 10 (SB10). In both instances, it is very unclear what funding would ultimately be at risk. As explained above, the debate we are having over sanctuary cities is a policy disagreement, not a question of whether the city of Philadelphia is following the law. And we are setting a dangerous precedent for both parties if we allow funding to be cut off to municipalities because we don’t agree with one another’s beliefs. What can I do to support our sanctuary city status? You can contact state legislators and Governor Wolf to express your concerns about SB10. Philadelphia could be pushed to either violate the constitution or lose significant funding if this bill is passed by the House and signed by the Governor. So, please call the Governor (717-787-2500) and state house members and let them know that the way to resolve policy disagreements is not to attempt to defund municipalities. You can find your state legislators number at www.legis.state.pa.us. •
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
CALENDAR N E W S @ S P I R I T N E W S . O R G • 1 4 2 8 E . S U S Q U E H A N N A AV E • 2 1 5 . 4 2 3 . 6 2 4 6
me e tings
Tuesday, March 21, 7PM FNA ZONING MEETING This meeting will take place at the Fishtown Rec Center, 1202 E Montgomery Ave. All residents and business owners in Fishtown are eligible to vote. Please bring proof of residence or business ownership in the form of a driver’s license or a photo id and a lease, utility bill, or recent piece of mail addressed to your home or business. 2033 Tulip St: Proposal for building a single family home with accessory offstreet parking. 2627 E Norris St: Proposal for (1) non-accessory offstreet open air parking spot.
Friday, March 17, 10AM - Noon PULASKI PARK CLEAN UP The Delaware River City Corporation is hosting a St. Patrick’s Day cleanup at Pulaski Park (Allegheny Ave. at N. Delaware Ave). We need volunteers to help spruce up the park! There will be light snacks and coffee provided by The River Wards Cafe. For more information, call or email: 215-425-8350, info@ drcc-phila.org. Visit drcc-phila.org for more about DRCC.
Thursday, March 23, 7PM GREEN PARTY MEETING The Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP, www.gpop.org) will hold a membership meeting at 7:00 pm on Thursday, March 23, at Shissler Recreation Center, 1800 Blair Street (near Girard Ave) in Fishtown, Philadelphia. At the meeting, Green Party members will discuss ways to be seen being Green. Shissler Rec Center is wheelchair accessible. The meeting will be open to the public with no admission charge. For more information, please contact 215-843-4256 and firstname.lastname@example.org. EKNA MONTHLY MEETINGS East Kensington Neighbors Association (EKNA) meets at 6:30PM on the third Monday of the month at Philadelphia Brewing Company (2440 Frankford Ave.) Topics will include: Committee Updates, including Zoning and Development; Committee Meeting Time. Not able to make our meeting in person but interested in joining via livestream? Email email@example.com for more information! FNA MONTHLY MEETINGS Fishtown Neighbors Association (FNA) meets at 7PM on the third Wednesday of each month at Fishtown Rec Center, 1202 East Montgomery Avenue. HCA MONTHLY MEETINGS Harrowgate Civic Association (HCA) usually meets at 6:30PM on the first Thursday of each month at Heitzman Recreation Center, 3631 Amber Street. However, this month's meeting is on ORCA MONTHLY MEETINGS Old Richmond Civic Association (ORCA) meets at 7:30PM on the fourth Tuesday of each month at Cione Rec Center, 2600 Aramingo Avenue. PROPAC MONTHLY MEETINGS Port Richmond on Patrol and Civic (PROPAC) meets at 7PM on the first Wednesday of each month at Columbia Social Club, 3529 Almond Street. Next meeting: February 1. SNBL MONTHLY MEETINGS Somerset Neighbors for Better Living (SNBL) meets at 6:30PM on the first Monday of each month. This month's meeting is on Monday, January 9. Meetings alternate between two locations. This month's meeting is at Rock Ministries, 2755 Kensington Avenue. The February 6 meeting is at Firm Hope Baptist Church, 2313 East Auburn Street.
Saturday March 18, 4-5:30PM FISHTOWN COMMUNITY DINNER The next First Presbyterian Church community dinner takes place on Saturday, March 18, 2017 from 4pm-5:30pm. At our community dinners. we open our doors and welcome every and anyone who wants to come out for a meal (no one is turned away). As always, there is no cost for the meal. We want everyone to feel welcome. For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-739-5695. First Presbyterian Church in Kensington, 418 East Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125. Thursday, March 23, 3:30PM 16TH ANNUAL FISHTOWN MARCH MADNESS ACADEMIC COMPETITION Cheer on local students with neighbors and Fishtown Neighbors Association as they use their smarts to advance in the Final Four and Championship rounds for the 16th Annual Fishtown March Madness Academic Competition at Shissler Rec Center. Sponsored by Penn Treaty Special Services District, a celebration to honor Fishtown Teachers and Educators of the year and Joseph and a group that has been working with Fishtown-area youth will be held as well. For more information and to volunteer contact A.J. at email@example.com. March 25, 7PM ST. ANNE’S PAINT PARTY NIGHT At St. Anne’s “New School” gym at Tucker and Memphis. $35 per ticket, tickets are not available at the door. Includes art supplies, coffee, tea, water and pastries. BYO snacks and preferred beverages. For more information, contact Nellie (215-34-4665) or Theresa (215-425-3219) Sunday, March 26, 10AM 13TH ANNUAL BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER The Ladies of Port Richmond Breast Cancer are holding their annual breakfast fundraiser at St. George’s Church Hall (2700 Venango St.) Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. For more information contact Marylou at 215-427-3222. Sunday, March 26th FISHTOWN'S FAMOUS CHILI COOKOFF AT THE FILLMORE Our annual Chili Cookoff is back and spicier than ever! We're back at The Fillmore Philadelphia for Year 8, and we're now taking submissions from residents and restaurant contestants who want to show off their chili chops. This friendly competition brings the whole neighborhood (and beyond!) together every year to cook and sample tons of food, enjoy local beers and listen to live music. Stay tuned for ticketing details. Want to enter?! Come on, you know you do! Just fill out this quick form. This event could not be possible without volunteers. Wanna help? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you March 26th! Saturday, April 8, 10AM - 1PM PORT RICHMOND TRAIL OPENING DAY This Saturday is “Opening Day” for parks and trails across the area. The Delaware River City Corporation is hosting a cleanup event on the Port Richmond Trail and we need volunteers. Meet at Pulaski Park: Allegheny Ave. at N. Delaware Ave. For more information, call or email:215-425-8350, info@
drcc-phila.org. Visit drcc-phila.org for more about DRCC. April 9, 11:30AM PALM SUNDAY AT OLD BRICK "Old Brick" will be celebrating Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017 with an outdoor service (weather permitting) beginning at 11:30 AM. In the event of inclement weather, we will celebrate in our Chapel (entrance at 929 Marlborough Street). The service will be held on the Richmond Street side of the Church. Throughout Lent, 6:30 ST. MICHAELS LENTEN SERVICES Located at the corner of Trenton Ave. and Cumberland (a block below Frankford Ave.), Philadelphia, PA 19125, will be offering Lenten Services, beginning Thursday, March 9th. Soup and Sandwich served at 6:30 PM, followed by Devotions in the Chapel at 7PM, with bible study in Parish Hall. All are welcome, mark your calendars for Thursday study. If further information is required, please contact me at 215425-6190, or St. Michaels at 215-423-0792. Weekdays, 9AM-9PM BRIDESBURG FOOD PANTRY Bridesburg Recreation Center (4625 Richmond St.) is accepting nonperishable food and clothing donations for the neighborhood needy. For more information, call Jackie at 215-685-1247, 215-533-6448. Third Mondays LOST PARENTS AND FAMILY MEMBER SUPPORT GROUP December’s meeting will be December 12th at Cione Rec Center (Aramingo and Lehigh Ave.). For anyone who is suffering the loss of a loved one, a friend, whoever, is welcome. 3rd and 4th Tuesday of Every Month, 6:30PM-8:30PM WOMEN’S SELF DEFENSE CLASSES Fishtown Recreation Center is hosting a Women’s Self Defense class 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM on the 3rd and 4th Tuesdays of each month for $10 per class starting 11/15/16. You can register in person at the Rec on weekdays 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM or on Saturdays 9:00 PM to 12:00 noon. Mondays and Thursdays, 7:30PM CATHOLIC TALK SERIES Join St. Michael’s Parish (1445 N. 2nd St.) for their new series of talks to learn more about or deepen their Catholic faith. The talks are open to both youth and adults, and free babysitting services will be provided. For more information visit the parish website or call the rectory at 215-739-2358. Last Tuesday of every month, 7PM SPIRITUAL INQUEERY A safe space to explore and study the intersection of faith and sexuality for LGBTQIA+ Christians and Inquirers. Come share, listen, learn, and find community support in navigating the trials and tribulations of this life. We meet on the last Tuesday of every month at 1542 E. Montgomery Ave. Wednesdays, 6PM YOGA AT TOWEY REC Roots2Rise will hold yoga classes at Towey Rec (1829 N. Howard St.). Cost is $5 per class. Participants must bring a mat For more info, visit roots2rise.com Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30PM SCRAPBOOKING Bring your photos and a book for scrapbooking at Bridesburg Recreation Center (4625 Richmond St.) It cost $5 to attend, and other materials will be provided. For more information, call Jackie at 215-685-1247, 215-5336448. Wednesdays, 6-7PM EVENING CLEAN-UPS IN EAST KENSINGTON
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017 At Huntingdon Emerald (Huntingdon & Emerald) and Arcadia Commons (Kern Street, Mid-Block). Join us each Wednesday evening for clean ups at two of our beloved neighborhood parks! Help keep our green spaces beautiful by supporting Arcadia Commons. Monthly board meetings, open to the public, take place on the third Thursday of each month at 2614 Amber Street. Wednesdays, 7PM ST. ANNE’S CHURCH CHOIR St. Anne’s Church Choir is back with a new director, April Anderson, and assistant director, Rich Burns. We’ll be rehearsing on Wednesday evenings at 7PM at St. Anne’s Church (Lehigh and Memphis). Thursdays, 5-8PM GAME ON! THURSDAYS Bring or borrow games and players at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse (2578 Frankford Ave.) for a night devoted of video game play. For more information, contact email@example.com. 2nd Fridays, 7:15PM MOTHERHEART KIRTAN Welcoming everyone in the neighborhood to take part in MotherHeart Kirtan. Kirtan is the recitation of spiritual ideas through songs of devotion. Style is call and response singing of mantra and sounds. It is an easy, safe environment to experience group, harmony, healing, and community. Kirtan can be peaceful, uplifting, and ecstatic. MotherHeart Studio (2359 E Susquehanna Ave.) Donation only. Third Saturdays, 12-2PM FREE SOUP AND PRAYER Trinity Presbyterian Church (2905 Frankford Ave.) is provided a free hot cup of soup and a place for prayer on the third Saturday of each month. For more information, call 267-216-8996. Sundays, 12-4PM AMALGAM ADVENTURER’S LEAGUE Adventurers! Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse is now hosting Adventurers' League play on Sundays from noon to 4PM. Bring your level 1 character, or just yourself and our DM will have pre-gens, and join us as we begin the new season of Storm King's Thunder with the Great Upheaval adventure. New and experienced players welcome! Every Sunday morning, 10AM LET THE CHILDREN COME Progressive, child-led Christian education for children ages 3-13. Storytelling (with ample time for wondering) with a focus on processing through art. All children and families welcome, regardless of religious affiliation. At Atonement Lutheran Church, 1542 E. Montgomery Ave. Portside Arts Center GIRL POWER ARTS Students learn about famous women in art history and work on interesting and engaging 2D and 3D projects. Each Wednesday, March 1st - March 29th 8-12 years - 6:30-7:30 - Register: tinyurl.com/GirlPowerOne 13-17 years - 7:45-8:45 - Register: tinyurl.com/GirlPowerTwo Art Projex: In each lesson students study different art forms and their history. This class is fun, creative and contemporary, and great for building a well-rounded portfolio. We provide all materials! 13-17 years: Each Wednesday, March 1st - March 29th 6:308:00. Register: tinyurl.com/ArtProjex Visual Arts: In this class students will experience drawing, painting, printmaking, stop motion animation, fiber arts, clay sculpture, found object sculpture and more! 8-12 years: Each Wednesday, March 1st - March 29th. Register: tinyurl.com/ChildrensVisualArts To learn more, please visit www.PortsideArtsCenter.org or call us at 215-427-1514 LUTHERAN SETTLEMENT HOUSE JOB READINESS CLASSES Lutheran Settlement House (1340 Frankford Ave.) is hosting a month worth of job readiness classes as part of the Pathways to Employment Program. Welcome to PA CareerLink and JobGateway: February 6th, 13th, and 27th, from 10am-noon Getting Your Resume Right: February 1st and the 15th, from 10am-noon Interviewing Skills: February 8th and the 22nd, from 10amnoon
Career Drop-in: Drop into our computer lab for assistance with your resume, cover letter, or online job application. Every Thursday in February, from 1pm-4pm. NO APPOINTMENT REQUIRED! All the classes are free and are held at 1340 Frankford Avenue. Interested individuals can call 215-426-8610, Ext. 2006. Visit www.lsheducation.org or email for more info: firstname.lastname@example.org
children CUB SCOUT PACK 500 Open to boys in K-5th grade. We meet every Thursday 7-8pm in the St Anne's Annex gymnasium at the corner of Memphis & Tucker. Scouts build projects, learn skills, help the community, and go on hikes and camping trips. Feel free to stop by a den meeting and check it out. For more information, email Den Leader Lisa at Pack500Fishtown@gmail.com SIXERS NEIGHBORHOOD BASKETBALL LEAGUE Hancock Rec has more openings for players in their SNBL league held at Moffett Elementary School. For more information please contact Coach Larry @215-685-9877, or come to Moffett to register on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4-6PM. FISHTOWN LIBRARY Tuesdays: Toddler Storytime: Join Miss Dana for stories, songs, and silliness! Tuesdays @ 10:30AM. For ages 0-3 ½. Wednesday PRESCHOOL STORYTIME AT RICHMOND LIBRARY This program is intended for children ages 1-4 and their caregiver. Siblings are always welcome. Daycares should call for separate appointments. Richmond Branch of the Free Library, 2987 Almond Street. For further information call 215-685-9992.
sign ups BRIDESBURG RECREATION CENTER SUMMER DAY CAMP REGISTRATION Registration begins Bridesburg Recreation Center Summer Day Camp on March 8. Kids who attend kindergarten through 6th grade as of September 2017 and must be younger than 12 before June 28 are eligible to be enrolled. Camps are offered for three periods during the day from Monday to Friday. Camp is offered from June 26th to July 21 and July 24 to Aug. 18. All fees must be paid in full at registration. For more information, call 215-685-1247 or 215-533-6448. NLARTS SUMMER CAMP REGISTRATION 2017 Registration for NLArts Summer Camp 2017 is now open. Judy Chicago is this year’s focused artist. NLArts is asking for a $100 deposit for the camp, and all payments are due by July 10th. To register and find more information, visit www.nlarts.org/registration. BRIDESBURG COUGARS REGISTRATION Signups for baseball, softball, rookie, and t-ball will be held Saturday, March 18 from 9AM-noon. at Bridesburg Recreation Center (4625 Richmond St.) on the following: Rookie and tball cost $35. Boys and girls travel cost $80 for ages 12 & under and $110 for 13 & over. Jerseys cost an additional $15. For more information, contact Daymon at 215-900-5647, email@example.com or Alina at 215-307-5523, firstname.lastname@example.org CIONE LADY STRIKERS ARE LOOKING FOR PLAYERS New girls indoor soccer team (ages 7-9) is looking for players! No registration fee this year! Practices are on Tuesdays and Fridays from 7-8 pm at Towey Rec Center. For more information contact Brooke (267-608-5660) or Tim Sieck (215-313-3677). BECOME A VOLUNTEER ADULT EDUCATION TUTOR Lutheran Settlement House (1340 Frankford Ave.) is seeking volunteer tutors. Tutoring hours are between 9AM - 7:30PM. Volunteers work with adult learners one-on-one or in small groups to help them meet their educational goals, including GED prep, basic math, basic literacy, and com-
puter skills. Prior tutoring or teaching experience is helpful, but not required. Tutors are provided with curriculum materials, both physical and online, to use with learners. Tutors are asked to commit to 3-5 hours/week of tutoring for a minimum of 6 months. For more information contact literacy@lutheransettlement. org or 215-426-8610 ext. 1242. COHOCKSINK PLAYGROUND (2901 CEDAR ST.) Zumba is on tuesday nights from 7:30-8:30 with Ms. Jamie. Only $5 a class. Yoga is on Wednesday nights from 7:15-8:15 with Ms. Amanda. Only $5 a class. Both classes are held at Cohocksink Playground, 2901 Cedar St. Our phone number is 215-685-9884 FREE ENGLISH & CITIZENSHIP CLASSES Can you or someone you know benefit from English as a Second Language (ESL) or Test for Citizenship Classes? The Richmond Library at 2987 Almond St. presents free English and citizenship classes. Tuesday and Thursdays from 6-7:30PM at the Richmond Library. For more information, call the Library at 215-685-9992.
HAPPY 1ST BIRTHDAY QUINN ELIZABETH CZERW We would like to wish our Grandaughter, Quinn Elizabeth Czerw, a happy 1st birthday! She’s had a busy year we can’t wait to see what the years ahead hold for us! She’s brought so much joy to all of us! We love her so much her b-day is on 3/26/17. Love, Grandmom & Poppy Mark Xoxox
The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
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215.423.6246 The deadline is Friday at 5pm for display ads, and Monday at 12pm for classifieds. All advertisements must be paid for in advance.
Up to $1,100 cash for cars or trucks with bad engines or transmissions. $550 CASH for any complete junk car or truck with or without title. Call 215-669-1000
YOU HAVE A NICE SET OF WHEELS BUT CAN’T FIND A PLACE TO PARK THEM.
Landlords must allow you to make reasonable accommodations to ensure full use of your apartment. Telling you that you can’t install grab bars and ramps is against the law. You can fight back.
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The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
WRITTEN BY SHARON ISABEL CURLEY
Spirit Astrology YOUR DOSE OF HYPERLOCAL SPIRITUAL ADVICE
Aries: I went against my doctor’s orders and personal beliefs and quit taking my meds cold turkey. I went three days without taking my magic pills, which have cured my anxiety and killed my libido. I had a few nightmares, cried for two days straight and felt so dizzy on the fourth day that I popped one right away. I should have known better, but I feel so powerful sometimes that I think I can conquer anything. Boy, was I wrong. Almighty Aries, you must remember you are still human and you mustn’t challenge the works of the G-O-D or whatever. You’re a strong and powerful part of our Zodiac, but if you’re reading this, you know you’re human enough to break down. The only way to stay afloat is to keep paddling. Taurus: Progresso Soup makes a split pea in their “Vegetable Classics” series of products. It’s funny because it’s flavored with bacon, which is deceiving. The ingredients list bacon as coming in as one of the “less than two percent” ingredients. I eat it anyway, despite the fact that bacon hasn’t been a part of my diet since I was in single digits. I advise you to find something in life that strikes your deliciousness factor just right, and even if it’s two percent less than you want it to be, remember it might satisfy you anyway. Gemini: What is up with the Acme on Girard? I go there about once a week and every time they’re moving stuff around or closing entire aisles. The other day, it took three employees to help me find fresh-shaved parmesan cheese, which is the one thing that hadn’t moved since they opened. What could they possibly be trying to get right? Do they have some crazy general manager who come in and says, “No, no, this is all wrong! We just…. gah… need to move the the entire natural food aisle over from aisle six to aisle eight,” as if aisle six suddenly just doesn’t make sense anymore? Well, you’re in for a treat, Gemini. I challenge you to write a list of 10 things you need and see if you can get to the checkout line in five minutes. If you can, I predict your next week will be awesome. If not, the foreshadow will hold the truth of the trying next week for you. Cancer: I like to get my tires replaced and filled at Trinidad Tires on Frankford Avenue. I like it when they call me Mommy and fill my tires for free. The funny thing is, I wouldn’t need the free air or the endearment if I weren’t always buying used tires from them. Yet I keep doing it and keep enjoying it. Maybe you’ve got something similar going on? Something you know could be better, but you enjoy the way it is? Lucky for the Cancer, taking the easy way out is not your forte. Do as you wish and enjoy as you do, Mommy. Leo: The reason I don’t believe in the law of attraction is simply because it doesn’t work. I have worked very hard for and visualized the things I want in life and still no pizza is being magically delivered to my house by a secret admirer! Although this may be because I do not have a house. I just nomadically, depressingly hop around from house to house, while trying to get a job and visualizing a happy home life with a family of my own. Leo, if you’re feeling unloved or unwanted or unwelcome lately, please don’t hesitate to call me. I will most certainly shed light on your life, as you hear about how tragically my poor little heart suffers in its true state of abandonment and disregard. You’ll be certain to see how good you’ve got it compared to the life I live!
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Virgo: I’ve never understood the term “tough cookie,” although it appears I am one. It’s described in its etymology to be “a person who can endure physical or mental hardship.” If I weren’t such a tough cookie, I’d most likely be institutionalized by now. The amount of rejection I’ve felt over the past year has been so incredibly heartbreaking. From the denial of a job to the termination of a wonderful relationship, I’ve somehow endured this pain like a strong woman should. I never challenged it, or asked to bring it on, and if you really want to know, I’d like to start enduring love and acceptance instead. For every tear I shed or breath I take, I try to let go of the bad and bring in the good, regardless of the fools’ energy I’ve been cursed with for so long. Virgo, I encourage you to take a deep breath with me. Maybe even realize that the bad energy you’re trying to let go of is actually created by you. You need to remember to breathe in the good or you spread the bad with every exhale. Libra: Randy Newman wrote an entire song about short people having no reason to live and nobody to love. At a mere 5’1” tall, I’ve always felt like he was terrible for writing this song, until I realized maybe he is right. What if the reason I keep losing everything is because my time is as worthless as it feels? Sad, huh? Well, lucky for me, my dear mum is a Libra. Her incredibly nurturing nature makes me feel loved very much. She reminds me that I do have a reason. Libra, be sure you’re using your incredible skills these days to nurture those around you. They need you more than you know. Scorpio: If you second-guess something, does it mean that it isn’t good? Is it the thing you’re second-guessing, or is it you you’re second-guessing? It is hard to separate which is which sometimes, but important that we do so. See, maybe it’s easier to blame the thing in question. This makes us not have to look within to recognize what is really the thing in question, which is sometimes just ourselves. Scorpio, it’s time for you to be aware of this. You need to know it’s okay to second-guess yourself sometimes. It might help the other things in question feel better. Sagittarius: Comedian Mitch Hedberg had a skit about mumbling when he was alive. He spoke about how he was a mumbler, and gave an example of his friend not hearing or understanding him and then repeating himself over and over until Mitch screams clearly what he’s been mumbling: “That tree is very far away!” A meaningless and pointless statement, blurred out like so, was quite funny. You see, regardless of what it is you’re trying to express, someone is going to ask to hear it. What may be a mere observation to you could bring thousands of people joy, if you’re willing to let it. Capricorn: I often feel tired in the sun. I wonder if this is because I squint so much, or because the sun kind of bores me. It seems so basic, especially after spending years of my life out west, between Los Angeles and Tucson. The sun shines every day, so when it doesn’t, the attitude surrounding the grey sky is calm and delighted. If it were up to me, snow would have bombarded our measly little winter, and I’d be feeling awake and alive. Maybe there’s something that you are often around that seems like it would be better if you could change it up a bit? Maybe it would be a little bit more exciting if you could control it more? Well, unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Trust me if it were, there
would be grey skies more often than not. Let’s make a plan together, Capricorn. Let’s go ahead and let whatever it is that’s got us down shed its glorious magical light upon us. Let us feel its warmth upon our souls. Let’s learn to appreciate the moments of joy this thing can bring us. Let’s fall in love and learn to live with what we’ve got, not with what we think we should have. Aquarius: Sometimes it seems like I’m dancing through life while my feet are falling out of rhythm. I hear the music, I have the urge, but as I dance, I can’t keep up. Sometimes I can fib this, but lately it seems everyone around me is booing me off of the dance floor. Then I realize everyone around me is dancing with a partner, in perfect rhythm. I see women being twirled and dipped, with the help of their partner, of course. Here I am all alone, tripping over my feet as if I weren’t at a point in my life an award-winning tap dancer. How could I have ended up here? Aquarius, if you’re with me on this, maybe it’s time to just sit this song out, you know? Take a breather and come back in full effect! Pisces: L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction and fantasy writer who developed the beliefs of Scientology, is a fellow Pisces. Thanks to the publication of his book Dianetics, he was named the most translated and published author in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records. Upon writing this popular piece of science fiction, I highly doubt L. Ron imagined he’d be taken so literally and become so renowned. I wonder if he thought he’d change people’s lives as he did, or if he could have ever fantasized the giant blue Church of Scientology on Sunset Blvd. in LA to be made out of his fantasies. I really bet the answer is no. If you’ve got a particular project you’re working on, of if you find yourself fantasizing about something, keep with it. You see, even the most insane fantasies can come true. •
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The Spirit of the Riverwards – March 15, 2017
Philly’s new beverage tax is now in effect – and we’re taking a stand! Philly’s 1.5 cents-per-ounce beverage tax isn’t just a tax on soda, it’s a tax on flavored juice, almond milk, bottled coffees and teas, coconut water, sports drinks, and even diet beverages.
Here’s what Philadelphia residents and business owners have to say about the tax:
“ The businesses take a hit with profits, the customers take a hit with payment, and it’s kind of a lose-lose in Philadelphia with this tax.”
“ We try to offer the best food at the best price and with that tax the working man can’t afford it anymore.” — Dennis Fink of Fink’s Hoagies, Philadelphia
— Mike Maziarz of Franzone’s Pizzeria, Philadelphia | 6ABC Action News
“ What would normally cost $4.99 anywhere else, now costs almost twice the price in Philadelphia due to the sugary beverage tax.”
“ My customers are very vocal about the soda tax.” — Frank Oliviri, Jr., of Pat’s King of Steaks, Philadelphia
— Christie Ileto, Philadelphia | 6ABC Action News
“ When I read the receipt I’m like, ‘Wait a minute. I paid more in tax than I did for the product.’” — Chuck Andrews, Philadelphia | 6ABC Action News
Philadelphia’s working families are struggling to afford everyday items and local businesses are losing revenue.
Take action today!
Contact your city council member and tell them to
AX THE BEV TAX!
Paid for by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association and your local Philadelphia bottlers with the American Beverage Association.