from the inbox:
Democratic Candidate for State Senate in the 24th District
The mostly political ramblings of a small-time, big-mouth community activist, somewhere in the greater Philadelphia area
from the inbox:
The October issue of More Magazine includes a profile of Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. The magazine tucked the article, "The Accidental Activist" by Nanette Varian, away in the very back of the issue, starting on page 131.
One of the pullout quotes is "they kept referring to me as well educated, which I thought was code for uppity housewife." This is in reference to her testimony before Indiana legislature. Watts has a four year degree. Given the number of lawyers in the state legislature I, too, find it odd they would use this terminology and agree that it is intended as a slur.
The Moms group was intended to serve in a similar role that Mothers Against Drunk Driving did, to bring an issue to the public's attention. In this case it is gun violence prevention. They have had some successes,
"Since the group's inception, the Moms have helped get background-check laws passed in five states and laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers passed in six more. They've persuaded Facebook and Instagram to take steps to prevent illegal gun sales on their platforms and Statrbucks, Target, Chipotle and other chains to ask customers not to bring their guns into their establishments."
from the inbox:
SEPTA will kick off its sixth annual Stop Hunger at Your Station food drive to benefit Philabundance on Friday, October 17, 2014, at 10 a.m. at Dilworth Park (15th Street side). SEPTA’s food drive will run October 20-31, with the Authority collecting donations of much-needed canned goods at 43 rail stations and transportation centers. In 2013, SEPTA customers and employees collected a record 25 tons of food for Philabundance. Over the last five years, the drive has collected 90 tons of food for Philabundance.
Expect travel issues tomorrow, Thursday the 16th. Vice President Joe Biden will be in town for an event highlighting the important of America's infrastructure. You know, those roads, bridges, and trains we all use every day to get from one place to another. Visits from high ranking officials always seem to create traffic tie ups. We're glad to see them, though.
This post contained information taken from elsewhere (text was in blockquotes to show it was not original to this blog). I have been informed that it was incorrect and thus have removed it. My apologies for the error.
This is taken from two CeaseFire PA communications:
Last week a bill to punish towns and cities for passing gun safety legislation was stopped. The bill would have allowed organizations , for example the NRA or the KKK to sue municipalities for passing laws to curb the illegal trafficking of firearms. This week that wording in HB 2011 / HB 1243 was attached as an amendment to HB 1796 on its third consideration in the state senate, which is primarily aimed at protecting the victims of domestic violence. If the amendment is approved this will put state senators in the position of either approving the "sue the city" wording or voting against an otherwise productive bill.
Contact your state senator and ask them to vote against the amendment, or if it passes, vote against the bill.
from the inbox:
The Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) will continue to provide exclusive coverage of all Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) championship events for an additional four years due to a recent contract extension.
“We look forward to continuing our work with PIAA to showcase the best in high school athletics in Pennsylvania. PIAA does an outstanding job of putting these events together every year, and PCN is pleased to be a part of it,” said PCN President Brian Lockman.
PIAA Executive Director, Dr. Robert A. Lombardi, stated “On behalf of the Board of Directors, our 1,440 member schools and the 14,000 registered sports officials, we are thrilled to continue our relationship with PCN and provide our championship events to all Pennsylvania residents.”
Exclusive fall championship coverage begins November 14, 2014, as PCN Sports presents “Super Sports Weekend,” featuring over 12 hours of live field hockey, soccer, and volleyball. All events will stream live online through the premium subscription service “PCN Select,” available at a special rate of $15.99 for the 3-day championship period. All events will also air on the network.
PCN has provided cable subscribers with exclusive access to all of the state’s championship games since 1998 and introduced live online streaming via ‘PCN Select’ in 2012. PCN has also showcased collegiate championships of the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference sports championships since 2012.
To subscribe to PCN Select and view a full sports championship schedule, visit www.pcntv.com.
When I am out at political events one frequent topic of conversation is how to repair the Philadelphia school system. Personally I am wary of charter schools but I know people whose children attend charter schools in the city and love them. I have concerns about magnet schools but also know people whose children attended such a school and love them.
The School Reform Commission's decision to cancel the contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. This is a nuclear option. A few things that have not been mentioned in the papers:
Public employee unions, including teachers' unions, often trade in salary increases for decreased health care costs. Saying the teachers with basic coverage have not contributed to their health care does not take into account what is likely years of lowered pay raises.
There is an informal agreement between schools and teachers. Because of the nature of the school year, teachers being and end jobs at set times. Even if a teacher leaves the profession they usually do so after the school year ends. This is part of the professionalism of teaching, knowing how difficult to find a qualified substitute and how disruptive it is to students for a teacher to leave abruptly, and how chaotic it can be to class grading and teacher recommendations. Teachers stay until the end of the year.
Except, of course, when the school system decides to violate that mutual respect and professionalism. The Philadelphia school system has just done that. I would not blame any teacher who walked, just left at the end of the day and didn't come back. Respect has to be mutual and for Philadelphia teachers, right now, the district is showing them none.
When I look at the teachers m children have had in our suburban district, I see some amazing teachers. Many came to teaching as a second career and have years of real world experience in relevant areas. Science teachers who worked in research labs; some have doctorates. Social studies teachers who worked in corrections. Veterans who were military police and now work in middle school, a population that needs boundaries and discipline. I am always amazed at the number of teachers who were students in the same school system. They have chosen to come back on the other side of the classroom. There is a good mix of teachers who have been there for over a decade and relatively new teachers. They seem to work well together and sometimes team up for joint projects. They are responsive to student questions and comments. I cannot say I've had warm personal feelings for each and every teacher my children have had, but I have never felt that had a bad teacher.
Why can't Philadelphia students have that? I know that if the teachers in my school district woke up one morning and found that the school board suddenly and without notice canceled their work contract many of them would leave, and I would not blame them. I also feel confident that the parents in the district would demand the school board reverse that decision.
The School Reform Commission says the saving will be used to hire other teachers or staff. But since the SRC has clearly shown that any contract they make can be revoked, I don't think they will attract the best and brightest job applicants. I also don't think they can expect people to abide unwritten rule that school employees, as a rule, don't leave during the school year.
No one I've run into at political events has a solution for the Philadelphia schools' issues. I certainly don't. But I do know that this latest development isn't going to help anything. The school always seems to have the money to fulfill the contracts it makes with people like Arlene Ackerman. It just never has the money for the people who actually work with the kids on a daily basis.
That's my two cents.
To celebrate his new series 'Nixon's The One' - which launches October 21 on YouTube - Harry Shearer ('The Simpsons,' 'Spinal Tap,' 'Le Show') will be giving special live Nixon-themed performances in three US cities this fall: New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia (dates below). The events will incorporate video clips from the series; Shearer's behind-the-scenes stories; insights from the thousands of hours of Nixon tapes he and his co-writer, Nixon historian Stanley Kutler, listened to; and an audience Q&A with Shearer.
"I'm looking forward to getting my not-so-secret obsession with the great comic character of the 20th century into the full light of darkened nightclubs," Shearer says. "And, though I’ll take questions, I’ll glare at people who ask me to ‘Do Mr. Burns'. The glare, of course, is me complying."
For the series, Shearer and Kutler combed through thousands of hours of Nixon's legendary secret White House tapes, and re-enacted word for word the best moments as if filmed by a hidden camera. The New Yorker wrote, "It’s hard to think of a more apt way to revisit the tenure of a President whose rise and fall was bound, at every juncture, to recordings of one kind or another."