Law Firm at One Liberty Place Sues Over “Plague” of Observation Deck

observation deck

Photo credit: ryanoshea via Flickr.

A law firm situated on the 56th floor of One Liberty Place filed a lawsuit Wednesday over One Liberty Observation Deck, the major tourist attraction located one floor above it.

Braverman Kaskey, which claims to be the longest-standing continuous tenant in the prominent 61-floor Center City building, has sued Philadelphia Liberty Place, which owns the building as well as several other “trophy” properties throughout the country; Montparnasse, which owns and operates the observation deck; and Turner Construction Company, the New York-based corporation that built the attraction.  Read more »

OPINION: Now Isn’t the Time for Marginalized People to Compromise

Protest outside ICandy nightclub on September 29, 2016. Photo by Ernest Owens.

This week has shown marginalized communities that our adversaries are still alive and well. On Wednesday, President Trump announced plans to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military. As most of the LGBTQ community looked at this as another of his assaults on our rights, one member of the community seemed startled.

Caitlyn Jenner, the famed transgender advocate who often bragged about having the ear of the Trump administration on LGBTQ issues, publicly tweeted Trump her newfound dismay:

Many of her followers chastised her for seriously believing anything the president has said, with one person tweeting at her: “Caitlyn sweetie we BEEN trying to warn you and your privileged ass continued to vouch for him. I’m supposed to feel bad? I don’t.”

But how is it that some within our community still can’t comprehend the importance of solidarity in such dire times? Is it their personal privilege that shields them? Or is it that coupled with self-interest?

A similar dilemma occurred in our local community when a member of the LGBTQA People of Color Community Social Engagement Committee announced on Instagram that the black LGBTQ-based organizations COLOURS, Philadelphia Black Pride, and Social Life Entertainment have been “working intensively with ICandy night club to create a safer space” in arrangements that stand to benefit their organizations:

Now deleted public Instagram posts of a statement from a member of the LGBTQA People of Color Community Social Engagement Committee.

The once-public posts were deleted after social media criticism from black and brown members of the community. I was one of those harsh critics, completely unable to understand why any organization for black people would want to partner with an establishment that has a history of alleged racial discrimination and a white owner who once referred to black patrons as “niggers.” Regardless of how hard ICandy tries to rebrand itself to get black dollars back into the joint, one cannot transform a space many perceive as being racist into a “safe space” — especially in less than a year.

I spoke candidly with one of the stakeholders involved in the iCandy initiative, who told me simply that since some blacks were already going back to ICandy, they wanted to ensure that these individuals were safe and staff was trained properly. (As if the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations weren’t currently doing that.) However, it’s one thing to provide outside support for anyone who decides to navigate troublesome tides versus encouraging others to join them. Philadelphia Black Pride accepting two years of free space for black people to return to ICandy is helping to shore up the nightclub’s bottom line and not actually respecting the community’s strong stance on boycotting.

In a Trump era, unrequested donations and staged apology tours cannot alleviate the trauma of racism inflicted by ICandy. Sometimes people who make horrible decisions must accept the consequences of their actions. As long as ICandy is owned by Darryl DePiano, I will never step foot in there or encourage anyone else to. My self-respect means more to me than leveraging access to spaces that have historically shunned me.

Which is why I understand — but still wholeheartedly disagree with — this ICandy arrangement. Let’s get frank: Black organizations in the Gayborhood are still fighting to thrive. The reason we even have a Philadelphia Black Pride in the first place is because people of color in the community have historically never felt fully included and embraced by the general Philly pride celebration. COLOURS is underfunded compared to other HIV/AIDS organizations in the community and has to work under a nonprofit incubator. And while Social Life Entertainment is hosting successful black gay parties outside the city, it still has to work within the Gayborhood, where currently none of the bars/clubs are owned by people of color. Fundamentally, it makes sense that these organizations jumped on the rare opportunity to benefit from a white Gayborhood stakeholder. But at what cost is the community’s dignity up for sale when said stakeholder has held views that demean us? Answer: not a damn dime.

What individuals such as Jenner and organizations like the LGBTQA People of Color Community Social Engagement Committee must realize is that compromise isn’t always the best way to support the marginalized. When the stakes are too high and the trauma is too severe, resistance speaks larger volumes. It was resistance that got us to Stonewall, the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” marriage equality, and the city finally passing a law that will put harsher penalties on bars like ICandy that discriminate.

If our adversaries had it their way, they would want us to take the low-hanging fruit they’re offering. We’ve come too far to bite the apple now.

OPINION: What New Jersey Really Should Do to Decrease Smoking

Photograph by ampols/iStock

I used to smoke up until my mid-20s. And then I stopped. Partly because I married a nonsmoker, but also because I started seeing this image of the smoke I inhaled filling up my lungs and infecting my body. That image gave me pause. Would I want my kids one day to be smokers? Of course not. We all know how bad it is. So why kind of example would I be setting if I smoked?

Yet still, lots and lots of people still do it. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 out of every 100 adults in the U.S. are smokers – that’s about 36.5 million adults. Many of these smokers are intelligent, hard-working people who have access to the Internet, are aware of the health risks, read the dire warnings on their cigarette packages, and likely know a relative or friend who has died from something related to the habit. And yet they still spend anywhere from $5 to $13 for a back of Marlboro Reds, depending on where they live. This is not good judgment – and unfortunately it affects me. Read more »

Get to Know: World Series of Poker Champ Scott Blumstein

Photo by Joe Giron/World Series of Poker.

Scott Blumstein just took home $8.15 million and a really fancy diamond bracelet as the winner of this year’s Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. The 25-year-old Temple grad’s unexpected victory has thrust him into the sport’s professional ranks and boosted his bank account past the likes of local D-list celebs Joey Lawrence (WHOA) and Biff from Back To The Future.

The Brigantine native was nice enough to put the party on hold and take a few minutes to chat with Philly Mag about fake money, his favorite Atlantic City casino and whether it’s Taylor Ham or pork roll…

So how does a 25-year-old kid from Jersey end up winning the WSOP?
Poker was always part of my life. I fell in love with the game as a kid. I went to Temple and didn’t play a ton there but I still watched it on TV whenever I could. Out of school I’ve been trying to play professionally and make a living playing poker.

Was that money you posed with after winning the event real?
Yeah, I guess it was. I didn’t really take the time to run any checks or anything but I think they bring out real cash and just throw it on the table.

Who taught you to play poker?
I think when I was real young I used to play Crazy 8s with my grandmother and that was my introduction to card games. As far as poker goes, it was a bit of doing my own independent study and the repetition of playing. Obviously I seek out the advice of players a little smarter than me, trying to absorb what they have to say.

Is poker your full-time job or just a well-paying hobby?
As of this event I would say it’s been my full-time job.

How many hours a day do you play on average?
I play about four hours a night. Basically I’ve been an online player for the last little bit.

When did you think you could turn pro?
Quite frankly, it was as simple as I got out of school and didn’t want to be an accountant. I didn’t want to do the thing I was probably supposed to do.

When did you think you actually had a chance at winning the event?
It was day five. I started the day at a pretty tough table, but I looked at this empty seat a couple tables over by this guy with big cash. I would say that was my first real test. Once I got through that day and ended up bagging a really good stack, I thought I could make a run.

First thing you did in Vegas after winning?
My family and friends were out there with me. They gave us a suite at the Rio and we had a little party.

Is it called pork roll or Taylor Ham?
Taylor Ham.

Food I have to get when I’m in Philly is…
Nachos and Crabfries at Chickie’s & Pete’s.

Favorite Temple University athlete…
Khalif Wyatt and it isn’t even close.

Most money I’ve lost in one hand…
Was probably not as much as you would think. Before WSOP maybe $2,000.

Most cash won in a casino (outside of WSOP)…
Last year around this time I was lucky enough to win a tournament at the Borgata for $200,000.

Favorite Atlantic City casino?
Borgata… for obvious reasons.

Have to ask – any plans yet on how you’re going to spend the $8 million?
I really don’t. I definitely want to do something smart with it. Something that is beneficial to people in society. I’m considering entering the business foray to use the money for good and grow it.

Follow @jtrinacria on Twitter.

Pa. Doctors Can Now Register to Prescribe Weed

medical marijuana dispensaries, doctors

FatCamera/istockphoto.com

Pa. doctors looking to provide patients with weed can now register with the state’s medical marijuana program.

Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine made the announcement Wednesday.

“Since April 2016, we’ve been working to implement a patient-focused medical marijuana program for Pennsylvanians in desperate need of medication,” Levine said in a statement. “Many physicians treat these patients every day and understand the impact this medication could have on their treatment.”  Read more »

Toomey Praises Sessions Despite Trump’s Criticism

sessions

L: Sen. Pat Toomey (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) | R: AG Jeff Sessions (Jeff Roberson/AP)

In a statement issued Tuesday, Sen. Pat Toomey praised Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recently come under fire from President Donald Trump.

Despite Sessions’s early support of the president, Trump on Tuesday said he was “disappointed in the attorney general” for recusing himself from overseeing the Russia probe, a move that some see as crippling to the president’s political control over the Department of Justice.

Toomey is one of several Congressional Republicans who have expressed support for Sessions despite Trump’s attacks. His statement:

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a credit to the Department of Justice. He has worked tirelessly to protect our neighborhoods from violent crime, end dangerous sanctuary cities, defend the rule of law, provide for victims of crime, and ensure every American is treated fairly. I continue to support him as Attorney General of the United States.”

In a tweet Tuesday, the president said Sessions had a “VERY weak” position on “Hillary Clinton crimes” and “Intel leakers.” Asked if he wants Sessions out of office, Trump said “we will see what happens. Time will tell.”

Just last week, Sessions condemned so-called sanctuary cities in Philly, which he has repeatedly threatened to cut off from federal funding for its immigration policies.

Toomey expressed support for Sessions’s Philly speech last week.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

City Hall Confused by Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Tweet

Photo by AP/Ringo H.W. Chiu.

Elon Musk – or the real life Bruce Wayne as I like to call him – hates traffic. When he’s not revolutionizing the auto industry or dreaming up ways to send civilians to space, the billionaire businessman and inventor thinks about how we can improve our daily commute here in the Northeast Corridor. Read more »

A.C., Ocean City Beaches Among 31 Flagged by N.J. DEP

Wildwood beach

Photo | Dan McQuade

Elevated bacteria levels have prompted the Department of Environmental Protection to close three New Jersey beaches and issue a water quality advisory at 31 others.

The N.J. DEP closed Beachwood Beach West, Summit Beach and West Beach in Toms River. Advisories are issued at more than two dozen beaches stretching from Monmouth to Cape May counties, including at beaches in Atlantic, Cape May and Ocean counties. Read more »

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