Philly, You’re No Houston


Why is Houston doing so well? In an interesting Wall Street Journal piece earlier this week, two urban planning experts say that Houston’s “pro-growth policies have produced an urban powerhouse — and a blueprint for metropolitan revival.” The writers say:

[T]he city’s low cost of living and high rate of job growth have made Houston and its surrounding metro region attractive to young families. According to Pitney Bowes, Houston will enjoy the highest growth in new households of any major city between 2014 and 2017. A recent U.S. Council of Mayors study predicted that the American urban order will become increasingly Texan, with Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth both growing larger than Chicago by 2050.

But really? Is Houston that good? Better than Philly? For the most part, no. But for one big part: yes.

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How To Effectively Use Profanity In The Workplace


Mayor Nutter has come under some heat this past week over the more-than-liberal use of profanity during the recent Fourth of July concert on the Parkway.

I understand the concern. It’s a public, family oriented event. The crowds are brutal, the heat is oppressive and with the exception of The Roots, the music really isn’t that great. (What, you actually like Ed Sheeran?)

And on top of that you have to hear bad language?

What would our forefathers say about this? What would Jay-Z say about this?

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Tom Corbett Is Absolutely Right About Pension Reform

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, right, along with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, left; hold a news conference in his chambers addressing the state budget-spending plan for the new fiscal year that starts in less than 40 hours, Sunday, June 29, 2014 in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower)

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

He’s right, you know.

I’m talking about Tom Corbett. Our Governor. A man who probably doesn’t hear “you know Tom, you’re absolutely right” very often. Definitely not from many people on this side of the state. I’ve been disappointed by some of the Governor’s actions (or inactions) too – his lack of leadership on our schools, his lack of appearances in this area, his lack of courage when facing those protestors at Central High back in January. He may be a nice guy, but he doesn’t come across that way in the media. Yes, he’s a Republican and Philly is a Democratic stronghold. But even among Republicans here, Corbett’s popularity is tepid, at best.

But on one issue, the Governor is right: pension reform. He’s right to use the lack of pension reform measures as a reason to hold off on signing the state’s budget. He’s right to use it as a negotiating point in the funding of our schools. He’s right to fight for this unpopular measure even if it means depleting his already-depleted reserves of political capital this election year.

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The 9 Rules For Having A Successful Softball Season

Photo |

Photo |

It’s that time of year. Your softball team has started its quest for the league trophy. And for a brief, shining time, you can once again pretend you’re 12 years old. And this gives your sad, frustrating life a moment of meaning. You have the chance to be the superstar that you dreamed you’d be back in Little League. The scrappy leadoff hitter, the gold -glove outfielder, the competitive athlete. For just a few hours you can pretend that you have a full head of hair and no belly. You’re no longer a CPA or a bus driver. You’re that skinny kid in high school with the quick bat and the sexy swagger.

Softball is your chance to show the world that you’ve still got it. It’s your opportunity to demonstrate just how cool you can be, just because you can hit a ball the size of a grapefruit that’s thrown at you underhanded at two miles per hour a hundred feet into shallow center field. You are the man. You are a softball player. And OK, in reality, you’re not very good. But you’re still there, still playing, still showing up to every game! That’s because you’ve learned the rules. The rules of the veteran softball player.

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Staples’s Wayne-Based Safety Guru Bob Risk: Most Businesses Are Not Prepared for Emergencies


Careful, people of Wayne. You may be putting yourself at risk!  Is your town unsafe?

It would appear to be the case. Especially if all you did for a living was consider safety. And that’s the dilemma faced by Bob Risk. He’s the national safety, health and wellness manager at Staples (a client of mine). Poor Bob. And no, in case you were wondering, he didn’t earn that position just because of his name. He has decades of experience selling safety-related products and services. And everywhere he looks he sees safety concerns. Even in beautiful Wayne, which also happens to be his beloved hometown of more than 30 years.

“I walk up North Wayne Avenue and see business owners who I’ve known for years who just don’t really understand all the hazards they face,” Risk recently told me. “It concerns me.”

Are we in danger by shopping and eating there? No, not really. But Wayne is no different than anywhere else.

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Sam Katz Is Right: It’s Time for Philly to Get Creative and Privatize

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Sam Katz is right.

In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece, he urged “creative solutions” to the city’s funding crises. Among his recommendations were the passing of an additional sales tax and completing the sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) so that the proceeds could be used to partially fund the city’s pension liabilities and school district budget gaps. “In approving the sale of PGW and dedicating the first $120 million of the sales tax to our schools, the city can tackle both problems and send a powerful message to the skeptical state leaders that Philadelphia is innovatively addressing challenges with smart policy choices,” he wrote.

By why stop there? Katz, a former mayoral candidate and a business man, is only proposing what any other rational business person would do when faced with too much debt and not enough cash flow: Sell assets and pay down liabilities. He wants the city to be more creative, more innovative. And he’s on to something.

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Lewis Katz Took Responsibility. Philadelphia Needs More Like Him.

Plane Fire

I didn’t personally know Lewis Katz but clearly this was a man who exemplified the best of our city: a leader, a business success, a charitable man, a good man, a family man. His “story is amazing” and he performed “many acts of kindness” according to Ed Rendell, up until his last act of buying the Inquirer and Daily News, where he “… knowingly overpaid tens of millions of dollars of [his and his partner Gerry Lenfest’s] own money to ensure that both papers would live on in Philadelphia and would have total journalistic freedom.” The enormous outpouring at his memorial service this week only proved how much he was loved and will be missed.

As a business and community leader Lewis Katz did his job well. The city cannot afford to lose men like him. Sadly, his loss only reminds us of what’s left behind. People who we look to as leaders who are not doing their jobs. Three examples …

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Three Possible Reasons That Everyone Hates Comcast

Photo | AP, Matt Rourke

Last week I wrote that  “net neutrality is a dumb idea” in Forbes and received a ton of comments (most in bitter opposition to my take). But that’s cool. It’s an important issue and I came away from the experience with three lessons from the many who offered their opinions: People are very passionate about net neutrality, many do feel that the government should play a bigger role in the Internet, and the most obvious of all: Everyone —and I mean EVERYONE — hates Comcast.

Why? Why does everyone hate Comcast so much?

Just bringing up the company’s name provokes raw anger.  My wife, a genuinely non-violent person, starts throwing plates when I mention Comcast. Dogs howl and babies suddenly start crying the minute you bring up the company. Don’t believe me? Just try walking down the street with a friend and say a few nice things about Comcast. You’ll notice people begin to look at you strangely, and then they’ll start shoving and ultimately attacking you like those people in DiCaprio’s Inception dream world.

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9 Golden Rules of Amtrak Etiquette

Darn! I missed National Train Day on May 10th. But in reality I have a lot of train days. That’s because I’ve been using Amtrak frequently over the past few months. And I’m not alone: Amtrak reportedly carries 31.5 million passengers a year and if trends continue, by 2040 ridership could reach 43.5 million. And I’m pretty sure all of those passengers were on the 6:25 Northeast Regional with me last night coming home from New York.

Were you on that train? Well, you snore. And also, please, out of respect for me and all the other 31.5 million fellow passengers, I hope you follow these 10 rules of etiquette.
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QUIZ: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping

To tip or not to tip?  That is the question.

The answer wasn’t a difficult one for one wealthy patron of Rouge in Rittenhouse Square.  Earlier this week, the anonymous eater left the wait staff a $7,000 tip on a $258 bill.  Sadly, not all of us can afford to be so generous. In fact, some proprietors feel that tipping is a broken business model altogether.  This was said by David Jones the proprietor of the Smoke and Water, a 155-seat restaurant located on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. According to one report, Jones (an admitted neophyte in the hospitality industry) has increased menu prices by about 18 per cent to replace tipping and intends to pay his staff a living wage, which is a business model that is accepted around the world in places such as Japan, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Europe.

Not sure what or who to tip? Don’t worry, I’ve got all the answers for you. Just take this simple quiz.

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