It was a bright spring day in New York City. And the doorman was just minding his own business, watching the traffic go by on Park Avenue. My mission was to steal his hat.
John was my accomplice. We had a plan. I hid around the corner of the building while John casually strode toward the doorman, purposely looking lost. John had a map in his hand. He stopped the doorman and asked for directions. And when the doorman looked at the map with John … I sprang into action. I ran down the block and before he knew what was happening I snatched his hat off his head and galloped away. John took off in the other direction. 10 minutes later and 10 blocks away, John and I re-grouped to gleefully inspect our treasure. We got the hat.
Yes, we were pledging a fraternity. And, like today’s fraternity and sorority members, we were college-aged idiots. Read more »
Governor Wolf introduced his budget on Tuesday. And in it he proposed an increase in spending, no pension reform, no long-term deficit reduction and no cuts in costs. And although he’s lowering business and real estate taxes, there are proposed increases in our state income and sales tax. Mayor Nutter introduced his budget yesterday. And he wants a 9 percent property tax increase (oh, and good luck with that). Now the mayoral candidates are talking about a plastic bag tax.
And why not? We Philadelphians are used to taxes. It’s no big deal.
In fact, depending on whether you live and/or work and/or run a business in the city, you might be paying as many as 44 different taxes, fees and tariffs every single year — maybe more! Don’t remember them all? Who could blame you! So here’s a list to refresh your memory. And please let me know if I’m leaving anything out. I’m definitely forgetting something, right? Read more »
UPDATE: Philadelphia school teacher Steve Clark has written a response to this column.
Hey school teachers, I have an idea.
Instead of fighting the School Reform Commission and campaigning for a friendly governor and organizing your efforts for a sympathetic mayor and protesting at City Council meetings and complaining about contributing more to your health insurance and your pensions let me suggest another tactic: How about you actually go to work?
Even when it snows. Read more »
Illustration courtesy of Shutterstock.
As business owners we sure like to complain, don’t we?
We complain about collecting cash and the price of supplies and the state of the economy and the dog-eat-dog competitive world we live in. But there’s fantastic news if you’re a business owner: Mayor Nutter recently came out in support of a city law that would require us to provide up to five days of paid sick leave to our employees, even for companies with as few as 15 employees.
Wait. Fantastic news?
How can this be fantastic news for a business owner? That’s because you’re just not getting it. Providing paid sick leave will benefit our companies in at least ten ways:
Read more »
You fly to Chicago. Your hotel has a courtesy shuttle that picks you (and a few other people) up at the airport. The driver has a “tips” bucket in the front of the van. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?
You arrive at the hotel. A valet greets your shuttle, helps you down with your bags and points you to the reception desk. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?
Before going to your room, you go to the Starbucks in the lobby. You buy a $4 coffee. Typical of most Starbucks in hotel lobbies you are given a receipt to sign which has a line for a tip. Do you tip the barista who poured your coffee? How much do you tip her?
Later that day you leave your hotel and another valet hails you a taxi from the line of taxis waiting around the corner. He opens your door, tells the driver your destination, and wishes you a good day. Do you tip him? How much do you tip him?
You check out of the hotel the next day. Before leaving your room do you leave a tip for the housekeeper? How much do you leave?
Everyone tips the wait staff. But do you tip the coat check person? Do you tip the cab driver? Your hairdresser? The pizza delivery guy? The furniture delivery guys? The babysitter? At Christmas do you give “gifts” to your postman, your newspaper delivery person, the doorman, your trash guys, your manicurist? Why should you? Aren’t they getting paid already for their job? Why tip them and not tip other service providers, like the flight attendant or even the SEPTA bus driver? What makes the SEPTA driver different than the taxi driver – aren’t they accomplishing the same thing?
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James Dupree’s studio.
Congratulations to James Dupree.
After a long fight with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA), the artist last week learned that he can keep his studio in the Mantua section of the city. The fight began back in 2012 when the PRA, citing the city’s eminent domain authority, seized his property and offered him what they considered a fair market value to vacate. Dupree disagreed on that. The PRA claimed, and still claims, that the area is a “food desert” and needed his block so that a private developer could build a supermarket. Dupree also disagreed. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “A developer could easily build around my studio or on the vacant block next to me.”
The reasons can be debated. But there’s one thing that requires no debate: The eminent domain process has to change. Eminent domain is defined as: “The power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use. The Fifth Amendment provides that the government may only exercise this power if they provide just compensation to the property owners.”
Read more »
Run a small business? Then you’re keeping a big secret. C’mon … fess up. It’s about the holidays.
Sure, December is a festive, wonderful, joyous month. You’re not completely insensitive to the meaning of the season. You can party with the best, soak up the goodwill, and wipe away a tear when Will Ferrell gets everyone in New York to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”
You love Christmas time! At least that’s what you tell everyone.
But deep down inside, behind that smile plastered on your face and your wishes of “peace on earth” and “happy holidays” there’s something else you’re feeling. It’s panic. For a business owner, the holidays churn up fears and bring out the worst of your financial anxieties. You know this is true. And you know the reasons why:
Read more »
So far, the outlook for 2015 is pretty good. Most experts are predicting a continued economic strengthening with even one member of the Federal Reserve saying Monday that the “dreary days” of the economy may be over. The Hartford says both small- and medium-sized businesses are “successful” and “optimistic” about next year. Additional surveys of businesses conducted by Sage, Principal, ADP, PNC and others confirm the same: increased financial strength, growth and optimism as we head into the new year. Seems like good times ahead.
Uh … except for businesses in Philadelphia. Here, we face a few unique challenges. Challenges that may mean 2015 (and 2016) may not be so good. If you’re running a business in or around the city, be careful of these four potential bumps in the road.
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This holiday season there are plenty of reasons to give thanks. Sure, there are challenges that we face. But the economy is rebounding. People are more educated. Our standard of living has never been higher. Poverty is at an historical low. Life expectancy is at an historical high. Natural disasters are killing fewer people. Fewer are dying in wars. And, of course, we have Comcast.
Yes, you haters, Comcast. We have Comcast. The media and entertainment giant that people love to hate. The company that, with just a brief mention of its name, turns seemingly reasonable, charitable, kind and loving human beings into angry, violent lunatics. The company that is the butt of 78.53% of the jokes on late night TV. The prime example of what customer service should not be. The target of lawsuits and scathing blog posts. People just love to hate Comcast.
Well, you can deservedly blame Comcast for a lot of things. But when you watch the Eagles this Thanksgiving, look up a recipe for pumpkin pie online or just make a simple phone call to Grandma because you didn’t feel like going over the river and through the woods this year, you can thank Comcast. And be grateful. Because Comcast is doing great things. Don’t believe me? Here are five things Comcast did … just this past month!
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Did you hear? An economic boom is quietly and slowly happening in Philadelphia.
“With little fanfare,” this report from last weekend says, “Philadelphia is undergoing a revolution powered by the U.S. energy renaissance. Renewed investment and activity in the region’s sprawling railway network and aging infrastructure is turning the City of Brotherly Love into a potential energy hub that some believe can rival Houston.”
Just this past month daily crude oil output in the U.S. topped 9 million barrels for the first time since March of 1986, and as Patrick Kerkstra wrote in this must-read Philly Mag piece: “The spoils of the Marcellus Shale gas fields will gush into the core of the city and its suburbs through broad new pipelines. Gargantuan processing facilities, built with billions of dollars of global capital, will rise like steel stalagmites along the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers. New factories — lured by the abundant low-cost energy the pipelines provide — will hire thousands of working-class residents to make plastic, steel, cement and countless consumer goods. Air pollution will increase, but so will the local GDP, as energy traders and executives fill up downtown office buildings.”
Our city happens to be in the right spot with the right infrastructure. We’re a hop and a larger skip away from the shale oil fields of Western Pennsylvania and North Dakota, respectively, and located smack in the middle of the populous and energy-hungry East Coast. There are thousands of acres of industrial space along both rivers just waiting to be built and re-built. There are huge refineries already in operation near the airport and in Marcus Hook and other refineries and holding facilities in Trainer and Hunting Park. We’ve got the right rail connections and large ports. We’ve even got Patti Labelle, and she’s a national treasure.
Read more »