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

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

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

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Shutterstock.com

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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Here’s a Fix for Our Fiscal Woes: Hire Staples Management

Convention Center photo | Jeff Fusco. Staples photo | Shutterstock.com

Convention Center photo | Jeff Fusco. Staples photo | Shutterstock.com

I’m tired of hearing the Mayor and City Council complain about our city’s fiscal problems. I’m tired of listening to our state representatives, congressmen, and gubernatorial candidates complain, too. We all know there’s a simple fix to the problem. Just ask Staples.

The office supply store chain (which is also a client of mine) is now testing a pilot program so that customers can buy stamps and other postal supplies at their convenience instead of being forced to go to the post office during the day. This sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? Not for everyone apparently. The American Postal Workers Union has staged national demonstrations in protest because Staples is training and supervising their own employees and not postal workers. By providing a less expensive, more convenient service for its customers, Staples is threatening the union.

We need more of this.

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15 Reasons Las Vegas Sucks

shutterstock_las-vegas-940x540

Here’s a sad fact: Las Vegas had more visitors in March than in any other month in its history. Sure, it’s the go-to place for conferences, events and conventions, which is why I have to go there about a dozen times a year. And each time I go I’m reminded of why I hate the place. I’m an experienced visitor to Las Vegas and you should know: Las Vegas sucks. And here are 15 reasons why.

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My Lousy Driving Is Costing You Money

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When I drive I sometimes go over the speed limit. When I park in the city I sometimes overstay my time. On occasion I’ve been guilty of texting while driving.  I’m rarely caught. I hardly ever pay fines. Do you blame me? That’s understandable. But don’t just blame me. Blame the city. Blame your township. Blame Harrisburg. They’re not doing enough to catch guys like me when I do the wrong thing behind the wheel. All it takes is a little technology, a few changes in the law and a different approach:

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Six Unfortunate but Real Reasons Women Are Paid Less Than Men

Photo | Shutterstock

Photo | Shutterstock

To all women: Yes, you are paid less than men.

There is no doubt. I see this with my clients. I see this at other companies I visit — both large and small. You are being discriminated against. You are being treated unfairly. You are still not considered equals in many workplaces — not everywhere, but in many, many companies. Why is this still the case, even in 2014? From my observations of the business world, I can list these six common reasons cited:

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