Candy Factory Owner: Mayor Nutter Ruins Easter for Philadelphia’s Children

The City of Philadelphia shut down Blasius Chocolate Factory on Wednesday over a tax dispute. The 88-year-old candy company’s owner, Philip Kerwick, says he has a $12,000 delinquent tax bill.

Blasius is a popular place to buy Easter candy. “These last four days make or break me,” Kerwick told Action News. “I don’t think I will be able to survive this year.” Last year, Kerwick said Easter candy made up half of his sales. The shop is only open from late November to Mother’s Day.

Kerwick is disputing the tax bill, and says city officials didn’t appear at a hearing to negotiate a payment. He’s (quite understandably) angry. And he ranted on the Chris Stigall show on 1210 this morning.

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City Council Has an Ethics Committee! (But It Never, Ever Meets)

city-council

Philadelphia is one of the most corrupt major cities this side of Lagos. From the ABSCAM convictions in 1981 to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s 2013 admission that she broke campaign finance law, we’ve had nine lawbreakers on City Council over a 32-year period. If you’re not particularly good at math, know that this averages out to more than one lawbreaker for every four-year Council term. Read more »

Did Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown Really Think She Could Get Away With This?

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Earlier this week, local blogger Christopher Sawyer published a solicitation letter from Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, in which she clearly attempts to drum up business for 900 WURD-AM, a for-profit radio station in Philadelphia. In the letter, Councilwoman Brown directly asks people to buy ad time on the station. And Sawyer wonders, “Is it OK to solicit biz for a company from your office using city time/staff/materials?” Read more »

Five Reasons Ending Philadelphia’s “Resign to Run” Law Would Be Bad for the City

City Hall

Photo | Jeff Fusco

We gave politicians the right to be corrupt. We did it when we gave them the power to pass legislation that benefits no one but themselves. It is a power they flaunt and abuse regularly when they give themselves pay raises, manipulate campaign laws and grant themselves immunity from insider trading laws.

Philadelphia is especially adept at abusing its ability to pass laws that benefit the members. The Council sets its own budget, giving the members cars, expenses, cell phones and staff with no hearings or oversight. And, of course, there is the DROP boondoggle that allowed council members to dip into the city’s pension fund without retiring.

Now Council is about to abuse its power by changing the rules again.

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Can Someone Help James Dupree?
And Let’s Fix Eminent Domain
While We’re at It.

dupree-studio-940x540

Would someone please help James Dupree already?

For weeks I’ve been following his story.  Hopefully you know it by now.  In case you don’t, he’s the artist who owns a building in West Philly and he’s being forced out, under the city’s “eminent domain” rules in order to make way for a grocery store.  Apparently, the neighborhood really needs a grocery store.  So much so that the city is compelled to make him an offer he can’t refuse:  Sell his property at a much-lower-than-market price or watch his building be bulldozed.  Nice.  Dupree is fighting the city.  He’s enlisted some major people in the art world to back him up too.

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As Promised, Welcome to Chris Christie Scandal No. 3

AP Photo | Julio Cortez

AP Photo | Julio Cortez

Don’t you hate when people say “I hate to say I told you so” — when you know at that moment there is nothing they relish more than saying those words? I am at that moment right now. I won’t lie. I love telling you I told you so. As promised in my post last week, the third in the continuing series of Chris Christie scandals is here.

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Don’t Clench Your Butt in Front of These Cops

police car

Photo | Shutterstock.com

I’ve spent nearly a decade investigating and reporting on the fallout from America’s inexpedient and misguided “War on Drugs.” I’ve talked to people who’ve spent years of their lives in jail for as little as a pound of pot, documented the plight of cancer patients denied adequate pain medication as a result of knee-jerk policies designed to curb abuse, and toured urban communities where as much as a third of the male population is incarcerated or on supervised release for drug-related offenses.

But none of that could have prepared me for what must certainly be the most heinous example of how our unmitigated assault on illegal substances has completely debased the principles of justice upon which our nation was founded.

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Chris Goldstein Is the Federal Government’s Next Marijuana Martyr

Chris Goldstein's August citation. Photo by Chris Goldstein.

Chris Goldstein’s August citation. Photo by Chris Goldstein.

Philly NORML co-chair Chris Goldstein very well may be going to jail in the new year, and, to him, it’s all over an act of expression falling under the First Amendment. That is, if you consider smoking a joint at the Liberty Bell freedom of speech.

“I’m being prosecuted for an expressive act — smoking a joint,” he says. “But it’s not simply about the act of smoking, so at that point it becomes a First Amendment issue. There are better places to get high than Independence National Park.”

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