Thursday, January 19, 2006

Thursday round-up

  • A feature story in the new CityPaper again profiles the crisis in emergency services faced by Philadelphia, with fewer ambulances answering more calls, and undertrained and overworked staff.
    "Our goal should be getting a paramedic on the scene of a cardiac arrest within six minutes," says [paramedic and union rep.] Kearney. "Right now, our goal is to not run out of ambulances. The city doesn't allocate enough resources to even understand the scope of the problem, let alone deal it."
    It's scary, and I wish that the city would get serious about addressing this life-threatening situation.

  • In related news, at least one ambulance company is under investigation, as its executives appear to have squandered a sizeable amount of public money. Philadelphia hires its own ambulance staff, but the suburbs use nonprofit contractors like this. I guess some "unpaid" executives decided it was time to get paid...

  • Residents in the area of one proposed casino site are protesting the plan, saying they'd prefer a grocery store or home improvement mart to a sparkly gambling destination -- the latter might bring money, but it won't improve the general quality of life like normal development might. I'm sure this won't be the last "Not in my neighborhood" complaint on this issue, but I sympathize...

  • The Pennsylvania House and Senate are still trying to come to agreement about ways to shift taxes around so that property taxes can be cut even without the hoped-for linkage to casino revenues. The Senate favors increasing the sales tax rate, while the House prefers a mix of wider sales-tax coverage with an increase in the income tax. Everybody loves taxes in an election year...

  • John Baer criticizes GOP gubernatorial hopeful Lynn Swann for his unwillingness to debate his primary opponent Bill Scranton, at least before the party bestows its endorsement. Swann's name is better known than his positions, so there's some hubris in his disinterest in talking substance.

  • Finally, the Inquirer opinion page joins me in decrying the proposed new City Hall security system as too intrusive.
    It's an affront to the freedoms shaped in Philadelphia to create a database of people who simply want to witness their government in action - whether it's a City Council meeting or a mayoral proclamation ceremony.
    Their suggestion that such photos could end up as line-ups is a pointed one that I hadn't considered, but certainly the unwillingness to commit to privacy (or scheduled destruction) of such information should raise flags. I hope the planners reconsider.


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