From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

March 29, 2012 • Previous Issue.pdf

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In This Issue

Germantown’s Best-Kept Secrets, Hidden in Plain Sight

by Jim Foster


In stark contrast to the furor and fanfare that accompanied the questionable dealings on the West end of Chelten Avenue over the last several months, four rather significant projects are taking form East of Germantown Avenue on Chelten, all of them within a three block area.  Information and publicity regarding them is virtually non-existent.

Near Chelten and Morton construction is well under way for a mid-block store front.  A block further East at Musgrave finds a significant multi-story building rising from a former empty lot, and one more block East finds two major construction projects on the corner of McMahon and Chelten, one of them presently framed out at two story height.

More below...

The Changing Face of Chestnut Hill

by Jim Foster


Once considered Philadelphia’s most resident-controlled community with its strident and structured community association, with by-laws and codes that often trumped those of the city itself, Chestnut Hill appears to be morphing away from those controls imposed in the 1950s through the 1980s. Who knows, even neon may become ‘legal’ again.

Major chain, apparel and clothing stores have deserted the community in recent years, but there has been an increase in restaurants with four fairly recent entries, two adjacent to the state store at the top of the hill, and two on the avenue itself.

More at Right ...

Germantown’s Best-Kept Secrets, Hidden in Plain Sight

by Jim Foster


In stark contrast to the furor and fanfare that accompanied the questionable dealings on the West end of Chelten Avenue over the last several months, four rather significant projects are taking form East of Germantown Avenue on Chelten, all of them within a three block area.  Information and publicity regarding them is virtually non-existent.

Near Chelten and Morton construction is well under way for a mid-block store front.  A block further East at Musgrave finds a significant multi-story building rising from a former empty lot, and one more block East finds two major construction projects on the corner of McMahon and Chelten, one of them presently framed out at two story height.

There hasn’t been this much construction activity on the East end of Chelten avenue in the last 30 years, but finding detailed information and confirmation from what one may think would be the most informed sources has yielded very little.  Most of the information in this story is word of mouth from unofficial sources and rumor.

Despite contact to the Office of the State Representative John Myers, in whose district all of these projects lay, and that of City Council Representative Cindy Bass, neither office had any knowledge of even one of the projects but promised return calls with some details. Only Rep. Myers’ office got back to me with little to confirm, and only suggestions as to one project being a Social Security Office.

As I took photographs of three of the projects last week I asked workmen if they knew the nature of the buildings at the McMahon street site and I was told that it was a planned office of the Social Security Administration.  The building across McMahon Street was identified as a potential bank office by a neighbor, but that has not been confirmed either.

At Musgrave and Chelten we can probably assume that some version of a Dollar Store that was granted a variance some months ago is in construction without a sign that designates so.

The fourth building has been referred to as a new state welfare office, but we have not been able to confirm that as of press time.  Details and suggested start dates for the facilities will be reported in future issues.

The Changing Face of Chestnut Hill

by Jim Foster


Once considered Philadelphia’s most resident-controlled community with its strident and structured community association, with by-laws and codes that often trumped those of the city itself, Chestnut Hill appears to be morphing away from those controls imposed in the 1950s through the 1980s. Who knows, even neon may become ‘legal’ again.

Major chain, apparel and clothing stores have deserted the community in recent years, but there has been an increase in restaurants with four fairly recent entries, two adjacent to the state store at the top of the hill, and two on the avenue itself.

The major shopping and residential megaplex proposed and manicured through zoning for the former Magarity Ford site is now tied up in litigation with neighbors, according to reports.

The interesting major construction at Germantown Avenue and Gravers Lane, informally known as the Snowden Mansion, lends an interested mix of architecture to a community generally built around fairly narrow standards.  One outspoken individual, upon seeing the now close-to-finished multi-story imaginative structure claimed it looked very much like a “landed Pirate Ship.”

Appearances lend to speculation that storefronts will return to Gravers Lane.

While other projects are on hold or being debated, the former Borders center at the top of the hill is going through a fit-out to become one of a chain of child care centers known as Children of America.

Owners claim that no further zoning or licenses are needed as those issues are inherited as a “matter of right” from standing classifications.

A block away a new consignment shop, also part of a chain known as Greene Street Consignments is planned to open soon. Directly across the street an expanded pet grooming and pet care facility will occupy a long vacant double storefront.

As of this writing, the final stages of approval from the community association for a fitness center on Willow Grove Avenue have been tabled due to opposition from developer Richard Snowden according to reports.

Ron Recko, long term area resident, past president of the CHCA, founding member of the Chestnut Hill Resident’s Association, says there are still over 20 storefront vacancies in the shopping district of Chestnut Hill, a long-standing problem that many feel has driven away some of the more traditional tenants as the “missing teeth” look often precedes economic decline.

New CDC Says ‘It’s Time for Change, Reinvigoration’ for Germantown

by Kristen Mosbrucker

A crowd of over 200 people packed into the Germantown Friends School in late February for what some community organizers call a “reinvigoration” of the neighborhood. Why? Because it's time for change in Germantown, says Germantown United Community Development Corporation a newly formed 501c3 corporation in the neighborhood.

Panelists at the event ranged from executive directors of fellow neighborhood CDC's like Sandy Saltzman of the New Kensington CDC, to local organizations like Econsult founder Steve Mullin. The attendees offered advice for the neighborhood based on their own experiences and encouraged revitalization efforts.

Hailing from Kensington in eastern north Philadelphia, the New Kensington Community Development Corporation was founded in 1985. Since then the neighborhood has slowly come back to life. Executive director Sandy Saltzman says the key is not to overhaul the entire neighborhood too quickly. “I think the hardest thing to do is try to do everything, it is human nature to want to fix it all, but when you are starting out and even after you have been around for awhile, you need to realize that you can’t do it all,” she reflected in a recent email.

But she says that based on her experiences at the discussion, there is a strong interest in a more sustainable community in Germantown.

“I think the fact that so many people came to the meeting shows that they can succeed.  When I first started at NKCDC, Germantown had one of the best CDC’s in the City; it can happen again,” she continued.

Germantown United president John Churchville, also founder of the Germantown Business Association, called the event a public debut for the fledging group. 

“That was our coming out party,” he said in a recent interview. Churchville says he looks forward to focused revitalization of the Chelten Avenue commercial corridor but also wants to work on a plan for all of Germantown. He added that he isn't interested in a “turf war” in the neighborhood.

Issues like gentrification he says is something Germantown will have to deal with sooner or later and a frank discussion needs to happen.

“If you're trying to upgrade the neighborhood, that means you want people with a little bit more money, you can either grow up or grow out,” he said. Churchville explained that the discussion can be peaceful and that organizers are aware that when property values rise, the poorest individuals often are priced out of a neighborhood.

“There are conversations that we need to have that shouldn't be negatively charged. Nobody wants to get pushed out but we want a better shopping experience,” he added, explaining that the two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Even historic sites were represented at the discussion as Barbara Hogue of Historic Germantown talked about challenges in the past and hopes for the future being rooted in history tourism.

Before the event, Hogue says organizers led the invited experts on a guided tour of Germantown's treasures. “We took them on a tour of the Johnson house, and Grumblethorpe, since they are all part of the Germantown story,” said Hogue.

Hogue says that she was excited to participate in the event and hopes to build more partnerships across the neighborhood.

“One of the issues is that there's been a lot of neighborhood organizations working in isolation,” she said, and admitted that until funding started to dry up for historical sites nationally the local museums even fell into that pattern. Since then various historic sites have been collaborating to create a Germantown-wide tour.

And since the packed event, Hogue says her phone has been ringing off the hook.

“I’ve been getting a lot of calls out of the blue from people who want to help,” she says, hopeful that the spark of volunteerism is a new dawn in the neighborhood.

Looking for a Board

As efforts to seek grant funding ramp up, the new development corporation is looking for a board of directors to guide the organization. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis but positions are available for this upcoming May. To date, a steering committee has been helping form a board in its place.

As a measure of starting clean from the ground up, organizers say they’ve elected an impartial volunteer, long-time resident Sandra Weckesser, to take board submissions to stop what they see as cronyism in previous organizations rather than a board with the proper expertise and experience to run it professionally.

Transparency is also a value the group says they want to emulate moving forward after the failure of what they say has been lacking, like the now defunct Germantown Settlement.

“We’ve been trying to keep everything we do transparent,” he said, noting that even the full meeting minutes of the board are available of the Germantown United website for the public.

So far, Churchville says that nine of the board slots are filled out of the planned 21-member board and that despite the protests surrounding Chelten Plaza, there are openings on the board for those in the business community.

“We’ve got spaces open for developers,” he said. Which is good news for the commerce department of Philadelphia, whose role is to make neighborhoods business friendly. The department has begun meeting with Germantown United about future plans.

“They are a new organization so we’ve had some very good conversations with them,” says Kevin Dow, chief operating officer of the Commerce Department, about the new non-profit.

 Dow says that keeping the commercial corridor clean, planning initiatives, and addressing retail vacancies are key issues. The Commerce Department says they have a group of twenty stakeholders, basically representatives of community organizations, civic, business and community development corps they coordinate with in the 19144 zip code.

In their experience, community development corporations are geared toward the commercial aspect of the neighborhood whereas civic organizations cater to more individual needs of homeowners.

“One way that CDCs help us revitalize neighborhoods is through focused efforts on subsidized housing,” added Associate Commerce Department Director Rubi Pacheco-Rivera. But Dow warned that collaboration is key, something that's been lacking in Germantown, but there's hope.

“But I’ve seen a change in the neighborhoods to move in a different direction in the past few months - historically there has been a lot of mistrust with new organizations. Before they wouldn't necessarily even be in the same room,” he said.

 The commerce department facilitates money from the federal government usually in the form of community block grants and distributes them to community organizations across the city for revitalization initiatives. Over the past fiscal year, which runs July through June, they’ve awarded over $1 million in grant money. But for this upcoming year they say, don't expect an increase in support.

In fact, the federal congress voted to slash funding for the program so the budget will be reduced by 16 percent.

Still, Dow says he’s optimistic, especially with the opening of Citi-bank, a mortgage-lending in the Chelten Plaza at the corner of West Chelten Avenue and Pulaski.

“There has not been a new financial center in Germantown in over 20 years. It’s a milestone,” he said.

 Despite the rooted protest that sprang up with the development of Chelten Plaza, including the formation of Germantown United - organizers for the group say that their picketing days are over.

 “The plaza is up, we're not protesting the plaza, there are some nice stores there, the Sav-A-Lot is well stocked,” said Churchville, who even recently attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Citibank.

The new CDC expects to hold its next public meeting soon and say to watch their website for announcements,

Schuylkill Scrub to Foster 2 Months of River Cleanups

Last year the Schuylkill Action Network organized 18 litter cleanups into one campaign called the Schuylkill Scrub, and it is doing so again on April 1 to May 31 across the Schuylkill Valley.

Those hosting a riverside cleanup are encouraged to register their event at  Individuals can also log on to find volunteer events in their community and beyond.

“The Schuylkill Scrub got off to a great start thanks to 18 cleanups spread across six counties in 2011,” said Coordinator Tom Davidock of the Schuylkill Action Network.  “Now we want to build on that success by promoting more events, and we hope to do that by raffling off a rain barrel among those who register their cleanup.”

The Schuylkill Scrub is a collaborative effort by nearly a dozen environmental groups whose shared mission is protecting the Schuylkill River.  Each organization committed its own funds to the campaign.

The Schuylkill Scrub was founded in 2010 when the Green Valleys Association and the Hay Creek Watershed Association began coordinating their efforts near the border of Berks County and Montgomery County.

“The Schuylkill Scrub is invaluable to our community because it not only makes our environment look cleaner, but also it has a positive impact on our drinking water,” said Nancy Kauffman of the Hay Creek Watershed Association.  “Trash and pollution on the land ends up in our rivers and streams every time it rains.”

Organizers of the Schuylkill Scrub are coordinating their efforts with the Great American Cleanup of PA, which also ends on May 31.  The Great American Cleanup of PA is organized by Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (formerly PA Cleanways), an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc.

The Schuylkill River travels 130 miles through the cities of Pottsville, Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, and Philadelphia.  The land draining to this river spans approximately 2,000 square miles in Berks, Chester, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties, among others.  Nearly 2 million people drink tap water pumped from the Schuylkill River and its tributaries.

For more information call Tom Davidock of the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary at (800) 445-4935, extension 109.

Germantown Roundtable Seeks Artists to Meet, Discuss Activities

The Germantown Artists Roundtable, wants to locate and describe our artists.

Germantown is abundant with artists and artistic activity and the roundtable wants to create an arts corridor/district in Germantown. To do so, it needs information.

GAR is asking artists, art educators, and organizations/businesses connected to the arts to assist by completing a  one page artist survey/inventory documenting your work and presence in our community. (For a copy of the artist survey to complete, email:

“It is our goal to both build a strong artist network locally and make the work of our artists more accessible to art lovers, businesses and community groups that want access to local artists,” organizers said.

GAR also seeks to find a way to create more opportunities for area artists to gather, exhibit, and connect to larger audiences. It believes this will make a positive impact on artists living/working in Germantown as well as the overall quality of life here.

The Germantown Artists Roundtable is an initiative of local artists and art lovers who want to raise the profile of one of Germantown's greatest assets, its artists and artistic heritage.  It is an all volunteer effort launched by Classic Towns (DVRPC), sponsored by Germantown Chamber of Commerce.

They invite artists to join them. GAR meets monthly at the First Presbyterian Church, 35 W. Chelten Avenue for its Fifth Germantown Artists Roundtable gathering.  (light refreshments and parking available). For information, email: or go to facebook:

“Learn about our effort to create an arts corridor/district in Germantown.  Hear about our initiatives to create more live/work space for artists as well as art studio space, our first art exhibit locally and opportunities for public art/events,” GAR said. “Assist us by completing the artist survey. You will have the opportunity to meet other artists (painters, sculptors, poets, musicians, photographers, graphic artists, fashion designers, ceramicists, theater, film, et cetera).”

“It’s time to raise the profile of our artistic community by having dialogues, sharing resources and work. It’s a way to connect developers, art lovers, community groups and our youth to artists in Germantown and their work.”

My Place Germantown Gets Landscaping Facelift from O’Grady Family

More than 30 members of the local O’Grady family spanning three generations will lend helping hands to My Place Germantown (MPG), an organization with a unique approach to homelessness, on March 31 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The family’s day of service will mark the start of MPG’s landscaping and revitalization effort for its property.

The O’Grady family, many of whom reside in Mt. Airy or the surrounding suburbs, will be cleaning up debris and planting on the property during their time of service. A cousin who works as a landscape architect will also be developing a landscape design for the area to foster a sense of community. Children and grandparents alike will be participating in the day-long clean-up, which will end with a shared meal with MPG’s residents and staff.

“We're incredibly happy with the O’Grady's idea of a family service project, and are thrilled they will be coming to My Place Germantown,” said Mary Ellen Graham, executive director of MPG. “We want to recreate the existing yard as a community space so that community building events can become a regular part of our activities.”

MPG’s Price Street building is a former convent that was converted into 12 apartments and facilities to offer permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless men.  After moving into the facility in late 2010, MPG is now tackling its next major renovation of its property, the landscape. The building sits on over one acre of land, much of which is heavily covered in overgrown debris.

“My cousin suggested that it would be neat to give back to the community since we’ve been really blessed as a family,” said family member Suzanne O’Grady Laurito. “Our father and his siblings were raised in Germantown, so it was important to give back to an area that means so much to our family.”

Plants for the backyard will come from O’Grady gardens and grant money through the Home Depot. Those interested in donating plants or other garden supplies should contact My Place Germantown at 215-848-2892.

The rain date for this event is April 14.

My Place Germantown is a Pennsylvania 501(c3) non-profit organization specializing in reducing homelessness in the Germantown section of Philadelphia.

As one of the few permanent supportive housing options in the city for homeless men with special needs, MPG is a model in fostering fully independent living with strong community ties. Envisioned in 2007, My Place Germantown officially opened its facility on Price St. in November, 2010. Its facility offers 12 men efficiency apartments complete with kitchenette and private bath and community spaces.

For more information, visit

Germantown White House Re-Opens For Season

The oldest official presidential residence in the United States re-opens for visitors on Friday, April 6. The Germantown White House (formerly the Deshler-Morris House), 5442 Germantown Avenue, will be open for the season through Sunday, October 28. The site is free and open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For the summer of 2012, visitors can tour the house free of charge during regular hours, join a National Park Service Ranger for a special program on June 10, or sign up as a volunteer to share this exciting history with others.

On Sunday, June 10, at 2:00 p.m. visitors are invited to attend a special one-hour program at the Germantown White House hosted by the Friends of Independence. This tour will offer participants an in-depth look at this historical site. It will include a tour by a National Park Service Ranger and a special presentation on the house itself by the Chief Curator of Independence National Historical Park. There is a fee for this program. Space is limited. For details and to register, visit or call (215) 861-4971.

For those passionate about the National Park Service and early U.S. History, volunteer positions are open at the Germantown White House. Volunteers provide tours, answer visitor questions, and assist with administrative duties associated with running a historical house. Volunteers must be willing to commit to six hours of service each month. Volunteers must enjoy public speaking and love interacting with people from all ages and from various national, cultural and social backgrounds. For more information on volunteering, please call (215) 597-1039 or email

The Germantown White House is the oldest official presidential residence in the United States. In October 1793, George Washington found refuge here during the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Continuing the business of government, he held four cabinet meetings in this house.

The next summer, it served as a welcome retreat for Washington and his family near Philadelphia, the Federal Capital.

The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.

The Germantown White House is a unit of Independence National Historical Park.

For more information about the house and tours, visit their website at

Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Recruitment


TAP is a Federal Advisory Committee that listens to taxpayers, identifies taxpayers’ issues and makes suggestions for improving IRS customer service and satisfaction. TAP members serve three-year terms and commit 300 to 500 hours each year to raise concerns about IRS service and suggest changes.

This year’s recruitment period for new members continues through April 27, 2012.  If you are interested in becoming a member of the Panel, please complete and submit an application online at the TAP website

If you have any problems completing the application online or have any questions about TAP, please call the TAP toll-free number 1-888-912-1227.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to “Speak Up” and apply for membership in this dynamic volunteer organization that is making a difference for America’s taxpayers.   Do your part today, and become a “Citizen volunteer valued for improving IRS services”.  

All applications must be received no later than April 27, 2012.

Maplewood Music Concert for Syzdek Scholarship Fund

The annual Maplewood Music Studio Faculty Concert on Sunday, April 22 raises money for the Debbie Syzdek Memorial Scholarship Fund.  This fund, honoring the memory of Maplewood's much beloved office manager from 2001 to 2008, will be used to offset the expense of lessons or classes for children whose families would otherwise have trouble offering them music lessons.

The concert starts at 3 p.m. at the Cunningham Piano Company (5427 Germantown Ave.).  A reception will follow.  There is no fixed price and there are no tickets.  Attendees are encouraged to dig deep and give generously, in advance of the concert, if possible.

Let organizers know ahead of time if you are attending and how many people there will be in your party.

Checks may be made out to ‘Debbie Syzdek Scholarship Fund.’ You may also make your donations by phone (215-848-8353).  We will accept donations at the door as well.  Please bear in mind that contributions to the fund are not tax deductible since Maplewood Music Studio does not have charitable status.

Each year, Rich Rudin honors Debbie’s memory by matching the first $3000 raised.

Bear in mind that the recital is on the 2nd floor and there is no elevator.

If you are not able to make it to the concert, you can still see and hear it by ordering a DVD.  They can be purchased for $12 and the proceeds will go into the Scholarship Fund.  DVDs of past concerts are available as well.

Since its inception in March 2009, they have raised a total of $17,965 for the Scholarship Fund. This includes all donations, payments for concert DVD's and matching funds.

Easter Festival at 1st Presbyterian Church

The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown invites the community to its annual Easter Festival for All Ages on Saturday, April 7 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  This family-friendly event, which includes lunch, will feature activities such as making Easter baskets, dying and hunting for Easter eggs, transforming palms into crosses, decorating the sidewalk in front of the church with festive chalk art, and face painting.  The First Presbyterian Sunday School children will share songs of the season as part of a program which will include an Easter message.  Admission and refreshments are free, with donations gratefully accepted.  First Presbyterian Church in Germantown is located at 35 West Chelten Avenue, convenient to public transportation.  Off-street parking is available.  For more information, please call 215-843-8811.

‘The Fires of Spring’ Benefit Concert

On April 14 at 7:30 p.m., renowned musicians Phyllis Chapell and Jim Dragoni will join forces for a benefit concert under the theme, ‘The Fires of Spring.’ With her beautiful voice, Ms. Chapell blends world music, jazz, and international standards. Mr. Dragoni is recognized across the country as a guitar virtuoso. He has performed recently with Mose Allison, Larry Coryell, Andy Pratt and other luminaries in the jazz world.

Together, they will bring their eclectic brand of jazz, blues and impressionistic music to the great acoustical space of Christ Ascension Lutheran Church (8300 Germantown Ave.) in Chestnut Hill. The cost is $20 and includes a light

reception. Proceeds will go to the congregation's improvement fund, which supports this historic house of worship and active community center. A portion of each donation will be tax deductible. Seating is limited to 100.

For more information, visit or call 215-247-4233.

Chestnut Hill Hospital Welcomes New CEO

John D. Cacciamani, M.D., M.B.A., has joined the leadership team at Chestnut Hill Hospital as chief executive officer. Dr. Cacciamani will build on the strengths of the existing leadership, including chief nursing officer Teresa Kelly, M.S.N., and chief medical officer John Scanlon, D.P.M., who have helped establish Chestnut Hill Hospital as a local health care provider of choice during recent years.

“Dr. Cacciamani brings an outstanding balance of clinical and business knowledge to his new role,” said Vicki D. Lachman, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., chair of the Board of Trustees of Chestnut Hill Hospital. “He will support our continued growth as an organization and our work to provide the community with quality health care choices, close to home.”

Dr. Cacciamani has more than 15 years of experience in hospital operations, most recently at Temple University Hospital, and is a board-certified internist and geriatric sub-specialist. A 20-year resident of Philadelphia, immediate past president of the Philadelphia Medical Society, and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School of Business, Dr. Cacciamani is familiar with the region’s health care environment and embraces Chestnut Hill Hospital’s uniqueness in being a small provider in a major metropolitan market.

“We will continue to build on our strengths including those things that we can do better in a smaller setting, such as more personalized care, enhanced infection control and the achievement of quality and safety standards that already exceed most of the large academic hospitals in Philadelphia region,” says Dr. Cacciamani. “In addition, the depth of physician and nursing specialty expertise is more in line with the talent I’ve seen in university settings.  Chestnut Hill has the best of both worlds, community hospital touch and feel while maintaining access to the highest and most specialized care.”

“As well as developing services within the Hospital, I look forward to working in partnership with our near neighbors to advance the health of our community in its entirety. Having a healthy business district and thriving local cultural attractions ultimately makes us all stronger. I am honored to join the Chestnut Hill family.”

Fourth Annual Oral Cancer Awareness Walk April 29

On Sunday, April 29, community members from the Philadelphia area will recognize Oral Cancer Awareness Month by bringing attention to a disease that has long needed a voice.  The fourth annual Philadelphia Oral Cancer Walk, organized by a student group within Penn Dental Medicine, is being held in partnership with the Oral Cancer Foundation. This important event will feature free head and neck screenings from 9 AM to 1 PM, distribution of oral health products, light refreshments and educational and motivational speakers, including several oral cancer survivors.

The 3.1mile walk/5K run will begin at Penn Dental Medicine (40th and Locust) at 9:00 AM, with registration beginning at 8:15 AM. All runners must collect at least $20 in sponsorships and walkers must collect $15 to participate.

Approximately 37,000 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2012, which includes mouth cancer, tongue cancer and throat cancer. When found early, there is an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. However, due to a lack of public awareness, the majority of cases are found as late-stage cancers that can be killers.

Penn Dental Medicine is a private, ivy-league institution with a history deeply rooted in forging precedents in dental education, research, and patient care. Since its founding, dentistry has been taught in a scientific environment as a specialty of medicine and under the multidisciplinary umbrella of the University of Pennsylvania. The school provides a full range of general restorative and specialty care services in its 10 teaching clinics and treats approximately 22,000  patients and performs approximately 169,300 procedures each year in its clinical teaching facilities.

The Oral Cancer Foundation is a national public service, non-profit entity designed to reduce suffering and save lives through prevention, education, research, advocacy, and support activities. Check out to learn more about risk factors, signs and symptoms, treatments, current research and current oral cancer related news, among other important information. A FREE patient/survivor discussion forum is also open to the public, where those currently fighting oral cancer can gain insights and inspiration from those who have been there before them.

For more information on how you can help raise awareness of oral cancer and the importance of early detection and prevention by participating in the third annual Philadelphia Oral Cancer Walk on April 29th, email to or 937-475-0566.

Informal Talk on Healthy Eating at Oak Lane Library

Join in an Informal Talk on Healthy Eating at the Oak Lane Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia on Monday, April 2, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Learn how to:

• Eat to boost metabolism

• Shop healthfully and economically

• Learn true portion control

• Add healthy snacks

Presented by Christine Hazewski, RD, LDN

Registered and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist

Oak Lane Branch

Free Library of Philadelphia

6614 N. 12th Street


The program is free but pre-registration is requested.

Historic Map Program Presented by EFHS

by Wendy Moody

Interested in learning where Fallsers worked and spent their leisure time in the 19th and 20th century? The East Falls Historical Society will host Life in the Falls, a powerpoint illustrated lecture, on Wednesday, April 11, at 6:45 p.m. to explore this question. Rich Boardman, head of the Maps Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia, will be guest speaker.

The talk, which will be held in the meeting room of Falls of Schuylkill Library, 3501 Midvale Avenue, is free with refreshments served and no pre-registration necessary. The room is handicapped-accessible.

Using historic maps, Mr. Boardman will look at both the factories/stores/businesses as well as the parks/bars/places to get away from work in East Falls over the years.

From the 1600s, maps have documented the growth and change in the Falls of Schuylkill, but also attested to some surprising continuities. East Falls has both provided work for its inhabitants as well as venues for pursuit of leisure. Mills along the Wissahickon and Falls Creeks, factories, breweries, and hotels all offered jobs and some of these same hotels and breweries were also places to get away from work. The actual falls on the Schuylkill River provided a means of income for fishermen, hoteliers, and those who traveled up from the city for catfish fishing. In the community, people have worked in mills and stores, played in parks and gardens, fished and ate fish, made beer and drank beer.

Mr. Boardman will bring some of this rich diversity of living to new life through maps and images. We will learn where stood the mills, inns, taverns, hotels, factories, breweries, beer gardens and restaurants, theatres and halls. Fallsers will discover what once existed where we now live, work, shop, or play.

Mr. Boardman will bring some original atlases of East Falls for the audience to look through.

Questions? Phone Wendy Moody at 215-848-5131 or email Steve Peitzman (

Police Blotter


March 21, 12 a.m., 5000 block Knox St.: complainant visited known offender at an unknown address. While watching TV they began kissing. Offender tried to remove complainant’s clothes despite objections. Offender held complainant down and entered her vaginally, then stopped and proceeded to perform oral sex on complainant.

Aggravated Assault

March 17. 12:41 p.m., Unit block Manheim St: complainant standing on friend’s porch when a known male offender stabbed him in neck with unknown object after argument. Complainant taken to hospital, offender fled.

6:30 p.m., 2800 block N. 27th St.: complainant was having argument with known offender of their children. Offender hit complainant over head with iron five times, causing lacerations. Offender arrested.

March 18, 2 p.m., 2300 block  W. Hunting Park Ave: unknown female offender ran up and stabbed complainant in left leg with knife and fled.

March 19, 4:15 a.m., 3100 block N. Bambrey St.: complainant beat with metal pole after by one known and two unknown offenders, causing severe head trauma. Complainant taken to hospital, no arrest made.

March 20, 3 a.m., 2700 block Sydenham St.: complainant said the known offender, her ex-boyfriend, knocked on her door. When complainant answered, the offender pointed a gun in her face, pushed passed her, went up to the main bedroom where the offender destroyed mattress, TV and mirror. Arrest was made.

March 21, 1:15 p.m., 1900 block W. Moreland St.: complainant discovered known male in property. Offender cut complainant on bicep with screwdriver. Offender arrested.

1:27 a.m., 3700 block N. Broad St.: witness observed three unknown male offenders kicking and punching complainant who was unconscious from injuries and bleeding from the nose and mouth. Complainant taken to hospital, offenders fled.

March 25, 12:22 a.m., 1900 block W. Pacific St.: police responded to complainant’s call where she was found on porch with bleeding from right eye, facial bruising and swelling. Known offender had kicked and punched her and slammed her head into wall. Offender then locked complainant outside of home. Offender arrested.

March 26, 12 a.m., 3200 block Henry Ave.: police responded to complainant’s call about being punched in jaw by known offender who is another resident at location. Complainant taken to hospital, had broken jaw. Offender fled scene through rear exit.


March 16, 7:30 a.m., 3300 block N. 22nd St.: complainant walking when three unknown males pulled his jacket over his head and took $748 from pocket. Offenders fled.

9 a.m., 2800 block Vanpelt St.: complainant walking when unknown male offender approached from behind, punched her in face and took items worth $220. Offender fled.

1:42 a.m., 2000 block W. Allegheny Ave: complainant walking when two unknown male offenders pushed her down, took pocketbook and fled. $340 worth of items taken.

March 18, 10:20 a.m., 3700 block Pulaski Ave.: known offender tried to take money from complainant’s front pants pocket. Witness observed. Offender also tried to stab complainant with metal shears. Nothing taking, offender fled.

March 20, 6:45 a.m., 3600 block Broad St.: police responded to complainant’s call. Offender struck complainant numerous times when complainant would not speak to him, then took $200 and fled.


March 16, 4:30 p.m., 3000 block N. 25th St.: unknown person gained entry while complainant was away. $865 $350 worth of property missing. . No signs of forced entry.

2:03 p.m., 200 block W. Ontario St.: police responded to burglary in progress call involving four male offenders. Police observed offenders exiting through rear of property and apprehended one. Property recovered.

March 17, 12:10 p.m., 2000 block Newcomb St.: complainant heard noise at rear of property while lying in bed, observed unknown male attempting to enter property. Offender fled, no entry gained.

March 18, 11p.m., 2200 block Ruffner St.: unknown person gained entry by kicking in back door. $300 $350 worth of property missing.

11 a.m., 1400 block W. Somerset St.: unknown offender pried front door open while complainant was away. $1800 $350 worth of property missing.

March 19, 4 p.m., 300 block Zeralda St.: unknown offender pried front door open while complainant was away. $1240 $350 worth of property missing.

12 p.m., 1800 W. Venango St.: $220 worth of items missing from triplex apartment building basement. Only first floor tenants have access. Lock on basement door was missing.

March 30, 8 a.m., 3500 Scotts Lane: while away, known offender took $8450 worth of items from complainant’s home.

12 p.m., 1900 block W. Westmoreland St.: unknown offender gained entry while complainant was away. $1400 $350 worth of property missing, bedroom ransacked, clothes and other personal belongings put in bags and left by curb.

9 a.m., 3300 block N. Bouvier St.: unknown offender gained entry through rear door while complainant, the owner of the building, was away. $1100 $350 worth of property missing.

March 23, 3 p.m., 3800 block N. Sydenham St.: unknown offender gained entry while complainant was away and took $250 $350 worth of property missing.

March 24, 4 p.m., 4600 block Greene St.: unknown offender gained entry while complainant was away. $950 $350 worth of property missing.

March 25, 3:45 p.m., 2000 block W. Venango St.: unknown offender gained entry through second floor window while complainant was away. $350 worth of property missing.

March 26, 12 p.m., 5000 block Wissahickon St.: unknown offender gained entry to property while complainant was away. Rear door was kicked in and $2000 worth of property missing.

7 a.m., 4400 block Clarissa St.: unknown offender torched lock off three trailers while supervisor was away. $85,000 worth of property missing.

March 27, 6:40 a.m., 200 block Apsley St.: unknown offender gained entry through unlocked bathroom widow. $1130 worth of property missing.

Auto Theft/Theft from Vehicle

March 18, 3 p.m., 2900 W. School House Lane: unknown offender broke out passenger side rear window. $300 worth of property missing.

12 a.m., 3200 block N. 27th St.: 2009 white Nissan Maxima missing, valued at $21,600.

1:35 p.m., 2100 block Lehigh Ave.: unknown offender gained entry through rear passenger window that was left open. $1100 worth of property missing.

March 19, 10 p.m., 3300 block N. 17th St.: 1996 green Ford Explorer missing, valued at $1000.

March 20, 5 p.m., 3600 block Stokley St.: unknown offender gained entry without signs of forced entry. $280 worth of property missing. Complainant recently lost set of keys.

March 23, 4 a.m., 400 block W. School House Lane: unknown offender broke windows of three cars. $850 worth of property missing.

10 p.m., 4200 block Germantown Ave.: 1998 burgundy Chevy Blazer missing, valued at $2,000.

March 24, 3 p.m., 2600 block Roberts Ave.: 2002 red Pontiac Bonneville missing, valued at $4500.

8 p.m., 3100 block N. 16th St.: 1998 tan Buick Park Avenue missing, valued at $1500.

March 25, 5 p.m., 5100 block Wissahickon Ave.: unknown offender broken passenger side window. $300 property missing.

9:30 a.m. 5000 block Knox St.: complainant lent offender vehicle, when returned $947 worth of property missing.

12 p.m., 3000 block W. Queen Lane: unknown offender broke front passenger side window. $300 worth of property missing.

1:30 a.m., 2600 block W. Cambria St.: 2007 silver Toyota 4 Runner missing, valued at $6500.

1:05 a.m., 4200 block N. Broad St.: 2003 red Ford Crown Victoria missing, valued at $3500. Keys left in car.

March 26, 9 p.m., 1500 W. Tioga St.: 1997 green Lincoln Continental missing, valued at $3,500.

March 27, 8 a.m., 4500 block Wayne Ave.: 2003 black Mercury Marauder missing, valued at $15,000.

7:22 a.m., 2100 block W. Indiana Ave.: 2007 blue Chevy Malibu missing, valued at $5000. Engine was left running with keys in the ignition.


March 20, 11:50 a.m. 3300 block Henry Ave.: unknown offender removed $200 worth of property from complainant’s desk while she was dismissing class.

3:06 p.m., 5200 Greene St.: unknown offender signed from complainant’s property without permission. $629 worth of property taken.

March 21, 8 a.m., 3000 block W. Abbottsford Ave.: unknown offender took empty trailer and paper work from location. $20,000 worth of property missing.

March 22, 3 p.m., 400 block W. Abbottsford Ave.: unknown offender took complainant’s property from hand, valued at $200.

March 24, 3 a.m., 3300 block N. 22nd St.: complainant was alone with offender night before. When he woke up, offender was gone and $800 worth of property was missing.

March 27, 8 a.m., 200 block Berkley St.: unknown offenders removed property, valued at $200, from complainant’s front porch.

2 a.m., 1700 block W. Juniata St.: complainant’s daughter’s boyfriend allowed known offenders into her home through a second story window without permission. Complainant awoke and heard a male’s voice and called police, who found one offender hiding under daughter’s bed. Complainant went to work, upon return found $1100 worth of property missing.

10 p.m., 3700 block N. 18th St.: complainant returned from work and found $220 worth of property missing from unsecure room.

Show Me the Money

The Mayor has proposed another tax increase this year (and in his proposed legislation he wants Council to approve another tax increase for next year, too).  Philadelphians are none too happy about more tax increases.  But, if we are not going to increase taxes and we are unable to become more efficient, where can we find the money to run City government?  If we can at least collect what is already owed, we can generate millions. 

The City of Philadelphia is owed hundreds of millions of dollars in uncollected taxes, fines, and fees.  All the while, overtaxed residents and employers pay some of the nation's highest tax bills.  If the Mayor has his way, those tax bills will continue to rise, but they don't have to.

There is no mystery in why so many do not pay their fair share.  Some Philadelphians cannot afford to pay their tax bills.  Others simply fear no consequence of not paying.  In a city with such a high poverty rate, there is definitely a can't-get-blood-from-a-stone element to pursuing those who are not paying their bills, but Philadelphia falls far short of other cities when it comes to making those who owe, pay.

In his 2011 award-winning series, A Deluge Of Deadbeats:  The Delinquency Crisis, reporter Patrick Kerkstra detailed how the City of Philadelphia fails to collect what it is owed:  nearly $500 million in real estate taxes.  With more than 110,000 delinquent properties, Philadelphia has many, many more tax deadbeats than other comparable cities -- New York has twice as many properties but fewer delinquencies than Philadelphia; Boston has a delinquency rate of 3.4 percent while Philadelphia's is 19.2 percent. 

The situation has gotten worse, not better in recent years and is not limited to Real Estate Taxes.

Every dollar collected for the School Income Tax (on various classes of unearned income) and the Liquor Sales Tax (on retail sales of alcoholic beverages at restaurants and clubs) goes to the School District to fund the education of Philadelphia's children.  But, our schools lose out on millions of dollars each year because of lax tax-collection efforts.  I last examined Liquor Sales Tax collections when I worked for the City and found that Philadelphia did not collect the tax from about one-third of the establishments that should have been paying.  When a similar tax was being considered by Allegheny County, the fact that Philadelphia did not aggressively collect this tax was actually offered as a selling point for enactment, as backers suggested that many establishments would not have to pay up.

The total amount of annual School Income Tax revenue is ridiculously low considering the estimated amount of unearned income in Philadelphia's economy.  Anecdotally, many Philadelphians do not even know this tax exists and accountants have confessed to me that some advise their clients that this tax is practically voluntary given the City's ineffective collection efforts.

The much-reviled Business Privilege Tax (or whatever it is called now that we have renamed it) obligates every firm that does business in Philadelphia to pay a tax on receipts and net income.  But, many companies -- especially suburban firms -- just don't pay.  Essentially, if a business delivers its goods into Philadelphia or performs its services in Philadelphia, it should pay the tax.  Want a fun game to play?  Find a truck from a suburban company delivering wares in Philadelphia and call the City Revenue department to see if the firm is paying what it should.  Chances are good that it is not.

City collections of fines and fees for misdeeds like sanitation violations are similarly weak. It's almost as if we don't want to generate the revenues.  If collection efforts are much more bark than bite, we will not only do little to discourage homeowners and business owners from violating rules and regulations, but the City will go without millions that should be collected to fund City activities.

So, before the Mayor and City Council go ahead and raise taxes (again) this year -- and next year -- they should step back to promote better collections.  Before Philadelphians who actually do pay taxes and comply with City regulations endure yet another increase, we must do more to collect from those who do not.

Brett Mandel

What’s Wrong with Democrats?

by Victoria A. Brownworth

While the Republicans work their way toward Mitt Romney’s nomination and/or a testy floor fight at the Convention, the Democrats have their own problems. The contention that the Republican primary battle is good for President Obama has limited reach. It also vies with the reality of Obama’s own actions–or inactions.

On March 25, David Plouffe, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and now Senior Advisor to the president, was doing a tour of the Sunday morning political shows. Plouffe is usually unflappable; he has a party line, he sticks to it and he smiles readily and frequently. On Sunday, however, he seemed caught off guard by the repetitive questioning of George Stephanopoulos, chief political correspondent for ABC news and anchor of "This Week."

Stephanopoulos was in Plouffe’s shoes 20 years ago: he was communications director for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign and later became Senior Advisor. He knows how to rattle members of an administration’s hierarchy. And rattle he did. At issue was a plank for the Democratic platform put forward by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, half of the Democrats in the Senate and the chairman of the Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (widely considered to be a likely presidential candidate in 2016). Pelosi and her retinue want to include marriage equality in the Democratic platform.

Same-sex marriage is legal in nearly ten states and the District of Columbia, several other states are poised to legalize it, and civil unions are legal in many other states, including New Jersey and Delaware. According to former Speaker of the House Pelosi and Mayor Villaraigosa, it’s time for the Democratic platform to reflect both the national change regarding marriage equality (close to two-thirds of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage) and the civil rights/civil liberties aspect of the movement for marriage equality.

The only fly in the ointment, apparently, is the President himself, who has repeatedly stated, rather flippantly, in fact, that he is "still evolving" on the issue.

Thus, when Stephanopoulos was grilling Plouffe, the discomfiture was evident. Stephanopoulos presented the plank as civil rights, which it is, and Plouffe had trouble evading an answer.

You’d think he’d be used to evasion tactics by now, given the President’s record on civil liberties, which is, according to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), not so good.

Back-pedaling and backtracking are not just for Republicans any more.

I admit, my involvement with the Democratic Party has always been casual. I started my voting career as a Communist, then moved to Socialist and then, reluctantly, moved to Democrat in an effort to get viable candidates into office on both the local and national level.

But the 2000, 2004 and 2008 elections soured me on the Democratic Party and in the past four years I have actively worked toward third party involvement whenever and wherever possible. It seems likely that the 2008 election was the last in which I would vote for a Democratic presidential candidate.

As a child of the 60s and 70s, I came of age when Democrats were actually committed to civil rights and civil liberties–not proponents of the death penalty and extraordinary rendition and covert wars and indefinite detention but on the War on Poverty and Head Start and the Civil Rights Act.

I voted for Obama predicated on my then-belief that he was a better choice than his Republican opponent. I spent a long time in the voting booth in 2008–I had worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign and supported her because she was the more progressive candidate. I also believed strongly that it was past time the U.S. joined the rest of the Western and even Eastern world and elected a woman president.

But the Democratic National Committee changed the rules for the nomination and while Hillary won the popular vote, Obama was granted the nomination based on Super Delegates changing their votes. Obama was the charismatic candidate and no one was looking too hard at his centrist record.

Then he became president and for four years we have had a centrist/Republican-lite president instead of an actual Democrat.

Which is why Plouffe’s discomfiture on Sunday seemed a little disingenuous. If Plouffe can’t stand up for Obama’s conservative views, then perhaps someone else with more authority to put forward Obama’s ever-changing message should be installed as Senior Advisor.

Remember two months ago when Obama vetoed the pipeline project? The veto was conditional, of course, but was meant as a sop to the Democratic base. How many members of that base noticed when Obama changed his mind last week and allowed a large portion of the pipeline to proceed?

Last Thursday Glenn Greenwald, possibly the best investigative political reporter in the country and a strong Progressive, spoke at the University of Pennsylvania. Greenwald was a harsh critic of the Bush Administration and has been an equally harsh critic of the Obama Administration particularly regarding Obama’s covert wars, involvement with Wall Street and hiring of lobbyists and major donors to his campaign. Greenwald has also been critical of the lack of transparency in the administration.

Greenwald’s concerns should be the concerns of all registered Democrats and those amorphous Independents who assert that the Bush Administration nearly destroyed the country by eviscerating the Constitution and sending the country into two unwinnable wars.

But what I have noticed just from sheer anecdotal evidence of friends, acquaintances and colleagues, not to mention Democratic politicians, is that people who screamed and tore out their hair over the civil liberties abuses and encroachments during the Bush Administration have not just turned a blind eye toward the same under the Obama Administration, but have, like Plouffe, attempted to explain and argue for and justify those abuses now.

Because somehow it’s different when a Democrat does it.

I knew when I voted for Obama instead of voting for the Green Party candidate, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (who would have been the first woman and first African-American president, had she won), that I was voting party politics. But living in a swing state, I had concerns about Pennsylvania going to the Republicans. So I voted party rather than heart.

But now I have seen Obama in action–or mostly, inaction–for four years and there is no way I could vote for him again. Why? Because I did not vote for George W. Bush and Obama has supported all of Bush’s worst and most egregious civil liberties and Constitutional violations. I don’t support the war in Afghanistan, I don’t support Obama’s covert wars and the drone killings of civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere which have exponentially exceeded those of the Bush Administration. I do not support Guantanamo–which was one of the biggest scandals of the Bush Administration. I do not support extraordinary rendition or torture, which continue under this administration. I do not support the Patriot Act.

Obama has also deported more illegal immigrants than any other president in U.S. history. Why are progressives ignoring that reality? Obama has done nothing to further immigration reform. And in that regard he is actually behind Bush, who was a strong proponent of such reform.

Where I really have concerns with this Administration, however, is with its continued expansion of the powers of the presidency. While most Americans cheered when President Obama assassinated Osama bin Laden, I questioned when and how the President granted himself the power to go into another country and kill someone–no matter who it was. But Obama expanded that power to include the assassination of American citizens he deems worthy of killing, like Anwar al-Alwaki. Yet nowhere are those powers written into law.

Obama also signed indefinite detention into law. And among the first people being detained indefinitely under Obama’s new rules of the presidency is Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking documents about the wars to the media. None of the media who have published the documents–the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC news, etcetera–have been prosecuted, however. Obama has also used a little-known aspect of the Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute whistle-blowers. Six times more than in recorded American history.

And then there is that issue Plouffe avoided on Sunday. Imagine a white president saying he was still evolving on civil rights for African Americans? There would be marches in the streets, if not riots. Obama’s own party is ahead of him on this one.

It’s time for those Americans who call themselves progressives to hold this president accountable. Deconstructing the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not okay if our guy does it. Refusing a civil rights platform because the other side will find it problematic is nothing short of reprehensible. And puts this president firmly on the wrong side of history. Again.

Follow me on Twitter @VABVOX and follow my political blog at

Opinion: Tourism Jobs for Germantown

Philadelphia has the highest unemployment rate among all counties in the Delaware Valley—10.1%.  In a city of 1.5 million, that translates to roughly 154,000 people out of work.  Unemployment for blacks is 15.7%, almost twice the national average.  The jobless rate among 16-24 year old black youth is 34.5%, reaching Great Depression proportions and more than three times the rate for the general U.S. population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Thousands of jobs in Northwest Philadelphia have been lost to globalization, overseas manufacturing, mechanization, de-industrialization, factory closings, massive layoffs, and a workforce unprepared for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century.

Maybe the solution is to go back—way back—in time, to the 18th century.  In my home district of Germantown, we are surrounded by untapped riches.  I am not talking about shale oil or natural gas.  I am talking about a treasure trove of historical and cultural sites.

Germantown is called “Freedom’s Backyard” for a reason.  Colonial Germantown was a leader in religious thought, printing, and education.  The first American anti-slavery protest was published here in 1688.  The Battle of Germantown was fought on October 4, 1777, at Cliveden.  The battle is reenacted every October.  In 1793, during the Yellow Fever Epidemic, President George Washington and his cabinet moved to the Deshler-Morris House on Germantown Avenue.

A vibrant and robust tourism industry would not only create jobs at Germantown’s numerous historic and cultural sites, it would open the door to new restaurants, shopping areas, farmers’ markets, inns, touring companies, vendors, and trolley services—providing sustainable jobs to the residents of Germantown who are hungry for work.

Colonial Germantown stretches along Germantown Avenue from Windrim Avenue on the south end to East Sharpnack Street on the north end.  This corridor was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1965 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.  It is time we capitalize on our landmarks and make this part of the city a hub of job growth, a source of revenue, and a place of pride.

To make this dream a reality, we must make the district safe, accessible and attractive to tourists.  It is high time for criminal elements to “shape up or ship out.”  To do that, we must give our police force the resources they need to patrol the streets and drive the drug dealers and violent offenders out of our community.  We need to strive to make Germantown as safe, beautiful and desirable as West Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill.

To bring tourists en masse to Germantown, we need a shuttle service from Independence National Historical Park to Colonial Germantown Historic District.  If offered an attractive option to transport them from Old City to Germantown (i.e. double-decker bus, trolley, etc.), tourists could easily and comfortably take advantage of the historic sites Germantown has to offer.

We need to join together—touring companies, historical societies, non-profits, activists, state and local leaders, universities, schools, residents and philanthropists—to promote Germantown as a tourist destination.

By introducing tourists to the historical importance of Germantown, we can create hundreds of sustainable jobs.  Together we can restore Germantown to the safe, beautiful and flourishing community I once knew as a child.

Michael K. Ellis

Michael K. Ellis is a Democratic candidate for State Representative in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives. He is running in the 201st District, which includes Germantown.

Corzine Has Some ‘Splainin’ to Do

There once was a law named Glass-Steagel

Where government sniffed around like a beagle

Your money was protected

Until politics got connected

And now corruption is legal

The politically-controlled mainstream press and networks did a pretty good job of covering up the information released late on Friday afternoon regarding how former Senator and New Jersey Governor John Corzine may have had a serious memory lapse when he testified as Chairman of the now-bankrupt investment firm MF Global.

Actually when someone at that level is outed by a high-level inside employee as having personally ordered the transfer of $200 million in client account funds to cover speculative investments gone bad in the company account, this should be headline national news; particularly when he had just testified to congress that he “had no idea how the $200 million went unaccountable” only a short time ago.

The plot thickens as internal documents show that due diligence was being attempted by participants in the transaction to make sure that none of that money came from client accounts. Documents requiring such statements in writing may or may not have been properly prepared.  We will likely learn more this week as Mr. Corzine, one of the best known and largest dollar “bundlers” for the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign is recalled to an investigating committee to testify further regarding these issues.

For those who are not aware, one of this country’s most effective long-term pieces of legislation that forced the separation of funds in banking and speculation was the Glass-Steagel Act of 1933, a remedy to some of the wild financial practices on Wall Street and elsewhere. Kept on the books until November of 1999 it was designed to hold bankers and investment firm’s feet to the fire and avoid this very kind of misuse of good faith client funds for the whims and mistakes of those who gambled for big profits at high risk.

Though many want to forget the facts, it was a well-crafted deal by President Clinton, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Citibank President Sanford Weil that drafted the bill to kill Glass-Steagel after much lobbying by Weil and K Street. Never to miss an opportunity, the Republican majority in Congress under some well-known names in leadership like Dick Armey jumped on the bandwagon and it ran through to presidential signature like a hot knife through butter. A few voices in congress on both sides of the aisle were easily silenced and the public was told that they would all participate in the merged banking and securities industries that would deliver double-digit returns and move us to a global economy where everyone would benefit.

Where we are today, in near global collapse, is the direct result of what was done that day in November 1999.

Mr. Corzine’s company has the right name “MF Global”. Some, like me, may think “MF: stands for “Manipulative Finance.”

But then, there could be another interpretation.


Jim Foster,



A Modern Version of Jim Crow


Last year, as President of the Philadelphia Young Democrats, I had the opportunity to engage our membership in a bipartisan event with Republican leaders on the heels of some of the most tragic partisan incidents in recent history. When my group sat down for the event, “Peace in Politics” with our Republican counterparts, I had no idea that the GOP was going to decide, for the most cynical of reasons, to reintroduce the Poll Tax. What a difference a year makes.

The State House and the Governor of Pennsylvania have set us forth on a course designed to disenfranchise millions of people across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While I remain confident that either we’ll win this fight in the courts or that the Department of Justice will block this law, as they have done in Texas and a host of other states that overreached, the Republicans have done this terrible thing in the cleverest of ways; and that requires an answer. For the Philadelphia Young Democrats, voter registration and turnout is essential. This includes unobstructed access to the polls.

By arguing that voter fraud must be stamped out, the Republicans mask their true intent to deny millions of people easy access to voting. They do this with a feigned appeal to the common good. The Republicans choose to align themselves, using this tactic, with the very worst of the race baiting Jim Crow laws of the first half of the 20th century. Those laws were written to prevent fraud as well. What they did instead was prevent millions of African Americans from voting. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965 that African American voting rights were protected federally.

Amazingly, the Nixon Administration was required to fight the first Voting Rights Act Challenges. Even they were capable of following the law and doing their duty. They began the larger fight to beat back the illegal process of preventing African Americans from voting. Governor Corbett and the Republicans in the State House should be ashamed.

Let me be clear. No one wants voter fraud. Certainly, neither I, the board of my great organization, nor the thousands of young democrats we represent want people voting illegally. We only want those entitled, by law, to vote. However, unlike the GOP, we want every individual entitled to these liberties to have access to that franchise -- not just the ones that agree with our policies and positions.

The Voter ID Law here in PA is a massive national republican initiative, set to undermine the gains Dems have made in two of the last three election cycles. In fact, we proved with resounding clarity that the collective voice of our nation must be heard and respected. The GOP response was not to listen to voters and respond to constituent’s needs. Instead, the GOP continued its inexorable shift rightward: attacking women, attacking poor people, attacking education and the basic services that allow for a functional society.

In the last two years since the Republicans have taken some measure of control statewide and nationally, we all have wondered how they expected to move so far to the right and still win elections. Now we know; they plan to deny millions of people their right to vote. They have passed a draconian law that will cost millions of dollars to implement and has no actual benefit for the good of the Commonwealth, just political leverage for the GOP.

Many of our beloved older Americans, the ones upon whose backs the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act became law, simply do not drive. Many live in urban areas with easily accessed public transportation, and, as a result, don’t have photo ID. When was the last time they needed it? Our college students, living on campus, focused on their studies, simply might not have a driver’s license. Thanks to the legislative genius of the GOP, you can use a gun license but not a student ID. Really? Doesn’t that speak volumes about the goals of the Republicans? Minorities who live in cities around this state, who get to work on public transportation, and who disproportionately don’t drive are disenfranchised by this law. Finally, our poor, who struggle every day to dance around the budget cuts of our Governor, are denied the ability to vote based on this new law.

With laws like this, providing barriers to civil rights, cuts to education and social services, maybe they should pass out ankle and neck chains too. After all, a system that stifles my voice, confines my options, but wants to tax my labor and force me to abide by its laws, sounds a lot like what my grandparents and great grandparents faced in the deep south. Rest assured, just as you would have an insurmountable challenge placing those cold, heavy chains around our necks today, this law will be met with one of the loudest cries for freedom that the collective voice of this nation has ever heard.

The games must stop. NOW.

Malik Boyd

President Philadelphia Young Democrats

Political Direct Southeast PA Young Democrats

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