OPINION: Mayor’s Commissions Are an Exploitation of Diverse Community Labor

City Hall | Photo by David Gambacorta

There’s no way to put this nicely — the racial diversity of Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration sucks.

For a majority-minority city, somehow the bulk of top leadership positions at City Hall are occupied by whites (as seen in this February 2016 analysis by Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein) and seem set to remain that way. In June 2016, PolitiFact PA estimated that at least 60 percent of the Kenney administration’s head honchos are white, along with 61 percent of exempt employees making $90,000 or more annually. When it was revealed during last year’s budget hearings that people of color make up only 22 percent of executive staffers in departments overseen by the city’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), City Council president Darrell Clarke described the disparity as “clearly problematic.” Read more »

What Republicans Could Learn About Free Speech From Philly’s Hebrew Israelites

Photograph by Denise Clay

I’ve always been a big fan of spring.

We as Americans tend to talk reverently about spring because it’s seen as a time of renewal. Flowers bloom. It’s baseball season. Heavy coats give way to jean jackets and cardigan sweaters. Everything feels new.

Now, every city has it’s signs of spring. In Washington, D.C., it’s the cherry blossoms. You can smell the magnolias in Charleston, South Carolina. In my family’s home state of Kentucky, spring means shopping for just the right hat to wear to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Read more »

Forget Trump and Macron — We All Suck at Handshakes

President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels on May 25th. Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

If you’re honest with yourself, you know this: You suck at handshakes. I totally do. And so does Donald Trump. I sympathize.

Trump had a few, very type-A handshakes with French president Emmanuel Macron this week that caught the world’s attention for their comic vigor. And this wasn’t our president’s first handshake drama: He famously avoided shaking hands with Angela Merkel at a White House meeting in March, and had a bizarre yank-and-move interaction with Canadian prime minster Justin Trudeau in February. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The End to a Seaside Heights Catfight

On one side, in sleepy Seaside Heights, New Jersey, you have the cat lovers, the locals who’d fed and cared for and cleaned up after the town’s colony of felines who’d made their home under the boardwalk.

On the other side, you had the, well, not cat lovers, who were sick and tired of the howling and mewling and the smell of cat feces and urine baking in the hot summer sun. Read more »

OPINION: Macron May Have Won the French Election, but Le Pen Was Victorious

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen poses for a selfie as she leaves her campaign headquarters Sunday, May 7, 2017 in Paris. | AP Photo/Francois Mori

When Marine Le Pen lost her bid to become the next president of France, many Americans saw former investment banker Emmanuel Macron’s victory as that country’s rejection of a Donald Trump–like candidate. If the comments on Facebook were any indication, Le Pen for these Americans was a “far right” candidate every bit as dangerous as the current administration in Washington.

Of course, the media’s labeling of Le Pen as a far-right candidate was an attempt to scare people into not voting for her. It was much like calling someone a racist so that people will no longer pay attention to the one who has been labeled. Read more »

OPINION: Why Rich Negrin Should Be Our Next DA

Rich Negrin

Richard Negrin | Photo courtesy of Mark Nevins

Next Tuesday our city will have the chance to vote for a new district attorney amid a federal investigation that’s put a dark cloud over the office. With eight candidates running (seven from the Democratic Party), voter turnout might increase in comparison to previous low-turnout cycles. I predict, however, that voter turnout will still not exceed 20 percent because this is not a national election cycle. Further, I predict that three regions will dominate the turnout: Center City, the suburban Northwest, and the working-class Northeast. Given those factors, a thorough process of elimination will leave you with only one candidate able to secure enough votes to come out on top: former city managing director Richard Negrin.

Read more »

Did Jay Paterno Become a Penn State Trustee Just to Rehabilitate His Dad’s Legacy?

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A Paterno is back in a position of power at Penn State after Joe’s eldest son, Jay, was recently elected to fill one of three vacant positions on the university’s Board of Trustees – the same group that fired his father in 2011 for his role in the Jerry Sandusky child abuse coverup.

In the years since, bad blood developed between the board and the Paterno family – for whom Jay serves as de facto spokesman – because of the family’s serial denial of JoePa’s culpability, although many of the trustees responsible for relieving the controversial football coach of his duties are no longer board members today. Read more »

If Pennsylvania’s Drinking Age Were Lower, Timothy Piazza Would Be Alive

Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity house via Google Maps

Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house via Google Maps

I have a niece who is British. A couple of years ago she visited and stayed with my daughter, who attends a large out-of-state university. Both had a great time together. But when I asked my niece what she thought of the social scene at my daughter’s college, her response wasn’t as great — in fact, she was kind of shocked. “The Americans drink way too much,” she told me. “It’s like their whole life revolves around alcohol.” My niece was 19 years old at the time.

Setting aside some Muslim countries where drinking isn’t allowed at all, the drinking age in the United States is, at 21, among the highest in the world. It wasn’t always like this. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a push to reduce the drinking age to 18 to coincide with the draft age and the recently lowered voting age. Those were the days of Vietnam, and the sentiment was Hey, if you’re old enough to risk your life in a firefight, you’re old enough to have a beer afterward. Read more »

Free Speech on Campus, Then and Now

Left: A Free Speech Movement rally at Berkeley in 1966. (Wikimedia Commons) | Right: The “Battle of Berkeley,” February 1, 2017. (Ben Margot/AP)

Left: A Free Speech Movement rally at Berkeley in 1966. (Wikimedia Commons) | Right: The “Battle of Berkeley,” February 1, 2017. (Ben Margot/AP)

When I attended Philadelphia’s Charles Morris Price School of Journalism, in 1970, America was waging the Vietnam War. Students at that time were either pro-war (a hawk) or pro-peace (a dove). At Price, however, the majority of students were reluctant to take a side: They didn’t want to voice their opposition to the war because peaceniks in those days were often labeled “dirty long-haired hippies in need of a bath.” And sometimes these labels were bestowed by teachers.

When Price teachers would occasionally blurt out a pro-hawk sentiment during class, they would usually accent it with an acerbic anti-hippie comment. Hearing these impromptu attacks was always unsettling for those of us against the war, but we took it in stride. We viewed teacher snits of this sort with a grudging tolerance. Their disapproving words often echoed what we were hearing at home from parents and siblings, yet we never allowed the clash of ideas to bring us to the brink of despair. Read more »

NFL Draft Success Proves Philly Is Capable of Bigger, Better

Fans and media gather on the red carpet before the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Fans and media gather on the red carpet before the first round of the 2017 NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

You can just feel the buzz surrounding Philadelphia in the wide world of sports following our overwhelming success as hosts of the NFL Draft along the Parkway. We have got it going on right now: Read more »

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