Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thursday miscellania

  • Disaster preparedness

    • An Inquirer piece summarizes the big report to be officially released at a press conference today, which found that Philadelphia needs better disaster planning. I was intrigued by some of the critiques, such as that the ciy relies too much on individual knowledge, rather than documented strategies for evacuation and other needs. Anyway, the Street administration plans to double its Emergency Management budget and bring in a new head, but it's not clear how many of the other recommendations will be implemented, or on what timeline, especially as some (such as setting up emergency radio wiring in subway tunnels) would be very pricey.

    • The Daily News take on the story highlights Mayor Street's statement that city residents need training in how to handle emergency situations. This was a point made in the report, but local pols may prefer an education campaign (make sure you have duct tape!) to trickier infrastructure changes.

    • A DN opinion piece looks at the mental shift required in both politicians and city residents, to accept that planning for the unthinkable might be a rational part of modern life. As long as we're talking about it, anybody with an interest in making thoughtful personal preparations for disaster might want to check this multi-post guide to what might be needed.

  • Violence and safety

    • Columnist John Baer depairs that local pols will ever move from studies to action on gun regulation. Proposed task forces and commissions (and summits and blueprints) abound, and yet the murder rate soars...

    • Mayor Street announced a plan to up enforcement of city curfews in some police districts, in an attempt to stem recent violence. I had no idea we had curfew laws. Seems like a helpful plan, for those areas having a lot of teen-driven problems.

    • Philadelphia was supposed to be a testing ground for a new kind of anti-terrorism technology that allows scanning of closed packages, detection of radiation, etc. However, the new devices have yet to leave the shelf as they await final clearance and possible upgrades. SEPTA hopes to have the system (for scanning unattended packages, e.g.) in service by the end of summer.

  • Political races

    • Berks County is finding itself in the midst of a hot midsummer political battle, as the candidates for the 6th US Congressional seat get an early start on serious campaigning. Both Lois Murphy and Jim Gerlach have run local TV ads, and the GOP appears to be targetting some cranky mailings to this more conservative part of the district. Berks appears to be this race's "swing county"...

    • Former New York mayor Rudolph Guliani was stumping for Lynn Swann in King of Prussia yesterday, saying that the country needs new blood in office.

    • A letter to the Daily News defends the city's resign-to-run rules (against a recent DN opinion piece wondering whether they cheated us of good public servants).

    • Above Average Jane notes the views of the candidates in the 8th US Congressional race on protecting children online (from predators, etc.). Color me old-fashioned on this one too.

  • Other

    • School system news: two bits today, including news that $12 million of new funds from the state were included in the latest budget, and an opinion piece from Rep. Chaka Fattah calling on the city to keep Paul Vallas in charge so the momentum can be sustained.

    • Dan UA at Young Philly Politics jumps off from a recent story to look at regional handling of seized property; he argues that too much leeway is given to District Attorney offices in dispersing such funds, and that opportunities for abuse abound.

    • The new CityPaper is mostly focused on the Gay Film Fest and related stories, but their PolNote takes a moment to look at battles between moderates and ultra-conservatives for the soul of the state and national Republican party. Former NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman wrote a book called "My Party Too," which is serving as a catalyst for discussion among those feeling pushed out by the GOP's right wing.


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