Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday news round-up

  • Ongoing stories

    • Apparently I'm not the only one who was surprised to hear that Diana Neff (Philadelphia's information tzar) was leaving city employ for a contractor who she did business with. Mayor Street defends her move, but asks the Board of Ethics to give it a look, in service of reassuring the public. I look forward to their report. The Daily News editorial page suggests a sniff-test for such situations in the future.

    • Immigration in the spotlight again, as a large rally is planned to protest Riverside, PA's dramatic new restrictions. The number of protesters expected may be matched only by the number of town residents who have moved out in frustration.

    • Lawsuits claiming that Philadelphia's jails are overcrowded appears to be prompting some action, although not really of the kind hoped by the plaintiffs: District Attorney Lynne "Tough Cookie" Abraham vows to fight any releases. Surely a few nonviolent offenders or low flight-risks awaiting trial wouldn't create such a crisis that it's worth housing everybody in subhuman conditions? Oh, nevermind. Dan at YPP sighs and looks ahead to the next chance to vote for Seth Williams to replace Abraham. Meanwhile, Mayor Street is making quiet inquiries about ways to expand the system and reduce crowding.

    • Ongoing woes at the Post Office over the opening of its new automated facility: not only are customers seeing their mail disappear (see prev. here), but now the workers unions are rallying in protest of automation-related job cuts.

    • In mayoral futures, Jonathan Saidel emerges after several quiet months of speculation about his plans. He's been working community gatherings outside the spotlight, and claims to be unworried by the prospect of Brady's entering the fray. He also appears to have experience-derived strategic thoughts about when and how to seek publicity in a race like this. Interesting.

    • On the casino front, the Inquirer editorial page seems a bit relieved by the recent decision of the Gaming Board to make ownership stake information public. This industry needs all the daylight it can get.

    • More on the Senate ballot petitions controversy: a letter defends the Democratic challenge and berates the Greens for questioning the process and blaming their opponents.

    • DN columnist Elmer Smith tells a story in which eminent domain was exercised in a thoughtful and productive way that benefitted the town without ruining the lives of the homeowners affected. Perhaps other projects can learn from the patience and planning here.

  • New stuff

    • Joe Sestak, running against Rep. Curt Weldon in the 7th, will be getting some high-profile exposure this weekend, as he delivers the Democratic response to President Bush's weekly radio address. Tune in if you'd like to get a sense of him.

    • Speaking of which, Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Murphy had a debate on the radio today. Sadly, I missed it. If anybody finds an audio recording of the event online, I'll add it here.

    • And in state House races, Brian Lentz shows faith in the power of direct democracy, logging his 10,000th door-knock.

    • An Inquirer story casts the evil eye on the steep salaries paid to top state executive officials. Great performance, or just cushy jobs? The perennial unanswerable.

    • Apparently there were Philadelphia regional brothels fueled by the sex slavery trade (who knew?), and a large number were freed in a recent bust. Make what you will of this being the cover story in today's DN.

    • PhillyFuture alerts us to the opportunity to get free training on nonprofit fundraising.

    • Inga Saffron's Skyline Online is a year old. Congrats to her, and thanks for all the interesting information on development plans around the city and ruminations on architectural design and related issues. She also muses in this piece on the differences between blogging and traditional print journalism (from the writer's perspective).

    • Finally, Albert extolls the virtues of community organizing and its prospects for building a neighborhood feel and for making a difference. Yay!


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