Bring Back the Fairmount Park Guard

Stereoscopic image of Fairmount Park guards, circa 1880.

When the neighbors in expensive homes near Fairmount Park’s Devil’s Pool recently complained of trash, debris, and decadent behavior from the many visitors to Philadelphia’s rare geologic wonder, my first thought was, “Bring back the Fairmount Park Guard.”

The Park Guard, an elite troupe of policemen whose job it was to patrol the park on horseback, was subsumed into the Philadelphia Police Department in 1972 by then-Mayor Frank Rizzo. Since then the park has never been the same. Read more »

Seattle Will Now Be Taxing Its Rich. Should Philly Be Doing the Same?

Photo by aiisha5/iStock

Looks like the city of Seattle’s at it again.

Despite a recent independent study conducted by the University of Washington that found that the city’s planned $15-per-hour minimum wage is already driving away small businesses and reducing employment, the town’s elders are still not satisfied. So last week, Seattle’s City Council approved a new measure that would impose a 2.25 percent income tax on the “wealthy” — those making $250,000 per year individually (or $500,000 jointly).

“Seattle is challenging this state’s antiquated and unsustainable tax structure by passing a progressive income tax,” the city’s mayor was reported as saying by Fox Business. “Our goal is to replace our regressive tax system with a new formula for fairness, while ensuring Seattle stands up to President Trump’s austere budget that cuts transportation, affordable housing, healthcare, and social services. This is a fight for economic stability, equity, and justice.”

Ah yes, it’s Trump’s fault. Read more »

OPINION: “Philadelphia Assembled” Is No Template for a Modern City

If the times were a-changing in the 1960s, the cosmic speedometer has so accelerated that the times have already been transformed.

I’m talking about “Philadelphia Assembled,” a two-year “art” project sponsored by the Philadelphia Museum of Art that’s now in its second year, in which Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk’s ideas about community and Philadelphia’s future have been given a world stage — thanks mainly to Carlos Basualdo, curator of contemporary art at PMA, who invited van Heeswijk to Philadelphia. Read more »

It’s Time for Single-Payer Health Care

Photo by courtneyk/iStock

I frequently travel around the country meeting and speaking with business groups about issues affecting their companies. The business groups I speak to are located in places like Montana, Ohio, Nebraska, and Texas. Many of the attendees are farmers, manufacturers, distributors, and service providers. Most of them don’t live in big cities. And yes, like me, the majority of them lean to the right. Some even fall over.

Of course, health care is a major part of those discussions. And you know what I’ve found? We right-leaning conservatives actually have a whole lot in common on that issue with our left-leaning friends. OK, not with Lena Dunham. But more than you may realize. Read more »

OPINION: Pa. Democrats, Quit Blaming Stop-and-Go Stores and Fault Yourselves

Image: Google Maps.

Welcome to Prohibition Philadelphia, 2017: the town where Democrats apparently still believe — almost 90 years after American gangster and black-market-liquor entrepreneur Al Capone did a stint at Eastern State — that booze and speakeasies are to blame for our city’s ills.

Last week, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, along with a cadre of roughly 30 community members armed with folding chairs, decided to take a “stand” against stop-and-go stores — mini-convenience stores, delis, and gas stations that also sell alcohol — in a campaign she’s calling “Fit 30.” Read more »

OPINION: Why I’m Giving Up on “Allies”

Photo by iStock / prill

During this tumultuous political climate, no quote resonates with me more than this one from the late Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver: “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

Progressive values are at a crossroads, and those who are committed to preserving them must take a stand more visibly and ferociously. As tensions rise within our communities, now is not the time for the most privileged in society to tune out because they can afford to avoid conflict. Nor is it the time to act like Switzerland — neutral stances on issues that affect people of color, women, LGBTQ, the poor, and other marginalized groups either leave support for us in limbo or worse.

Many people champion allyship as an effective way to take that stand. In short, an “ally” is someone with privilege helping someone being marginalized with a problem. This approach might sound noble in theory, but in practice it has only added to oppression. Read more »

OPINION: The Black Community Should Take No Joy in Bill Cosby’s Mistrial

Photo by AP/Matt Rourke.

In 2004, comedian Bill Cosby was honored by the NAACP as part of its 50th-anniversary celebration of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.

During an acceptance speech that’s now better known as the “pound cake” speech,” the comedian went off on the Black community in a rant that covered everything from children’s names to bad parenting to even the way Black children dressed.

He talked about a “culture of poverty” that Blacks chose to live in and how it was more responsible for the community’s ills than the institutional racism might be a part of one’s daily existence.

It was a tour de force of respectability politics, with bons mots like this: Read more »

Christine Flowers: Bill Cosby = Cliff Huxtable, So He Can’t Possibly Be Guilty

Photo by AP/Matt Rourke.

It is never easy to learn that a long-held belief is incorrect.

Bill Cosby’s trial has forced America into a collective state of cognitive dissonance – the discomfort felt after learning information that is inconsistent with our perception of a situation, an idea, or, in this case, a person. We loved Bill Cosby, and we wanted him to reflect off-screen the ideals he represented on our televisions.

But he doesn’t. And the burden is on us to address this discomfort productively, rather than resolving it through denial. Guess which path Daily News columnist Christine Flowers took in a column on Tuesday. Read more »

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