From the Editor: April 2006

I have mixed feelings about our cover package. Sure, I’m interested in who earns what — it’s only natural to be curious about whether we’re keeping up with the Joneses. But let’s keep it real: It’s also, by its very nature, intrusive. I experienced that firsthand when my staff asked my salary, in hopes of including it in the package. I declined to comment, but did challenge them to do what reporters do — find out anyway. (Apparently, they couldn’t dig up a Deep Throat in some underground parking garage to rat about my compensation.)

Yes, we’re all nosy about what’s in other people’s wallets. But this month’s cover package, edited by Tom McGrath and Jessica Blatt, goes beyond voyeurism. It’s full of useful information, including a rundown of 21 local companies offering employee perks that should be models for all of us who pay lip service to the idea of investing in people. My favorite component is the chart on page 90 outlining the tics, as bosses, of area leaders. (When he has to tell an underling “no,” Governor Rendell says, “Ain’t happening, Captain”; I love that.) So since I didn’t come clean with how much (or little) I make, I thought the least I could do was let my staff evaluate me on the same criteria that we report in the chart.

Among the comments: Best way to tick off: “Don’t show up for meetings to which he’s invited one of his power-lunch buds, e.g., Comcast executive David L. Cohen, Olympic booster Joe Torsella, Committee of Seventy honcho Zack Stalberg.” Communication habits: “Has vaguely troubling love affair with his BlackBerry. When out of town, calls staffers’ cell phones between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. to let them know how much fun he’s having.” Signature boss move/saying: “Likes to ‘show off the guns,’ i.e., his pink, mottled and hairy but increasingly defined biceps and shoulders, to which he has been assiduously attending in a gym for the past several months.”

Andrew Putz and Richard Rys bravely penned the above. Yet they need not have feared. They’ve noticed the guns, which entitles them to long and fruitful employment. (But: mottled?)

Last month, the Daily News’s Stu Bykofsky and several bloggers wrote about a column we ran by Aliza Green that dissented from the hype over our town’s BYOB trend. We had been one of the primary purveyors of said hype, publishing a cover package last July that celebrated our BYOB scene. This month, writer Bruce Buschel takes a dissenting view on Philadelphia’s sudden “Next Great American City” status, which, again, we’ve promulgated (with December’s “Philly Is Cool!” cover, for example). It’s not that Bruce doesn’t like Philadelphia; he fears that in our zeal to achieve greatness, we may lose our quirkiness and uniqueness and become, uh, Baltimore.

I don’t know that I agree with Bruce or Aliza, but publishing their provocative points of view squares with my vision of this magazine as a forum for competing notions in our shared marketplace of ideas. Our pages should stimulate debate and get you thinking. That’s why we’ve published both glowing and critical pieces about, say, the Mayor; we don’t have an institutional position on issues so much as an institutional commitment to covering issues from many perspectives. That’s why we publish columnist Noel Weyrich, whose Contrarian column is aptly named. Noel is the most disagreeable pain-in-the-ass I know. It’s why I love him as a columnist. Healthy, vibrant cities need pains-in-the-ass — be they columnists or magazines. Enjoy.