Philly Fire Fighters Prez Criticizes Biden

Bill Gault, President of Local 22 of the Philadelphia Fire Fighters Union came to the press area following the Vice President’s speech to criticize him.  Unhappy that Biden made no mention of the contract situation with the City Gault made sure the press knew of the situation.  Philadelphia Fire Fighters haven’t had a new contract in four years, getting awarded continuances, basically.  There have been no new classes of fire fighters in five years.  Givebacks and brownouts have closed seven stations and saved Philadelphia $15 million.  The cost of fire fighters is $16 million so, as current conditions stand the City is paying a net of $1 million for services.

These men and women put their lives on the line every time they enter a burning building, do bomb searches or respond to accidents.  Attrition is costing them numbers and, as the Vice President said today, small, understaffed crews are a danger to everyone on them.

Mayor Nutter has been a strong ally of this White House but so have unions in spite of getting little or nothing in return.  Card check hasn’t passed and the Affordable Care Act is hitting union health plans hard.  You’d think the least they could do is come into Philadelphia and give them a hand.  That is why Gault made sure to criticize Biden to the press.

Obama Initiative Will Put Cops on Pennsylvania Streets

In an announcement earlier today the Obama Administration announced a new initiative which will put veterans to work as cops, some in Philadelphia.  Vice President Joe Biden headlined a White House conference call on the issue.  He said these post 9/11 veterans deserve employment as highly trained professionals.  One aspect of the program will be for the military to certify veterans for the training and experience they received while serving.  They can use these official certifications, whether it be in welding, law enforcement or whatever, to better get jobs in the private sector.  Unemployment for veterans is bad and President Obama has made getting jobs for vets a top priority recently.

The White House released this statement today:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today announced funding awards to over 220 cities and counties, aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions.  The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts.  All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001.  In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the President announced that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.

More than $111 million is being awarded to local public safety agencies across the country.  The list of this year’s grantees includes Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Trenton, NJ; Alameda County and Los Angeles, CA; Akron, OH; and Tacoma, WA.  The COPS Office will work with transition centers across the country to connect veterans with the new grant-funded law enforcement opportunities.  For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

“Since we got into office, the President and I have been committed to helping our returning heroes find jobs and transition back into civilian life. A lot of them want to keep serving now that they’re back, and these COPS Grants help give them that chance,” said Vice President Joe Biden.

“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service – to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS Office Director.  “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.  The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.  Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates.  An additional factor in the selection process was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.

Today’s announcement builds on several steps President Obama has taken to support veterans in developing skills and finding work, including by: creating new tax credits for businesses that hire veterans; challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013; helping veterans obtain industry-recognized credentials and licenses; increasing access to intensive reemployment services; developing online tools to boost veteran employment; and increasing hiring of veterans in healthcare-related fields.

Aliquippa will get one new policeman, Chester five, Philadelphia 25 and Pittsburgh 13.  The COPS program begun by President Clinton once put 100,000 community oriented police officers on the streets.  It was credited with a significant decline in major crimes where implemented.  George W. Bush proceeded to gut its funding.  Community police officers get to know the communities on their “beats” and the direct interaction reduces crime.  The Bush Recession cut thousands of police positions and this new initiative puts some of them back on the street.

Will Michael Nutter Be the Deciding Vote on the Shale Bill?

Update: The Pennsylvania Senate approved the shale fee bill Tuesday by a vote of 31-19. The House followed suit Wednesday, approving it by a narrow vote of 101-90.

Will Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter be the deciding vote on a bad Marcellus Shale bill?

In typical fashion, the Pennsylvania Legislature is ramming through a shale bill, including a natural gas drilling fee, at the very last minute that is worse than anything we have seen so far.

Rumors are that the Mayor is pressuring Philadelphia Senators to take the deal, which is bad for all Pennsylvanians and not so hot for Philly.

There has been tremendous pressure on Southeastern Senators to hold out for a tax that is more than a pittance, and to restore to local governments the constitutional right to protect their communities from the excesses of drillers gone wild.

The Democratic leadership team of Jay Costa and Vince Hughes have breathed life into a Democratic Caucus that has existed pretty much to collect their paychecks. They have done a fabulous job pushing for strong environmental protection against a legion of gas lobbyists, while the Governor’s inclination is to give the drillers the keys to the state and walk away. Philadelphia Senators Vince Hughes and Tony Williams are the most likely to take the bait.

We need a round two on the shale bill. Our Senators, and the Mayor, should hold out for a better deal.

Police Fail to Evict Occupy Philly

The Philadelphia Police Jackboots showed up as scheduled at 5 PM to evict the Occupy camp and were met by 1,000 supporters refusing to leave Dilworth Plaza.  The City wants to begin a $50 million reconstruction project and told the protesters they had to leave.  They didn’t and remain there.  The night turned into a giant party as they conga lined and danced before police brownshirts afraid to do anything which would turn into a new UC-Davis type video.

It’s a shame that police officers everywhere are now being chided as Nazis for their terrorism directed towards peaceful protesters.  That’s the price they pay for siding with the 1% however.

Lyndon & Shawna

Lyndon and Shawna are living in a tent at Dilworth Plaza outside Philadelphia City Hall as part of Occupy Philly.  They lost their home to foreclosure and Shawna just lost her job.  It is cold but someone gave them a tent and meals are served daily.  Three and a half months into their situation they have a lot to say about the state of things in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and America.

Several things in this interview are disturbing.  They say they have seen Mayor Nutter at windows looking down upon what City officials are calling the “City Hall projects.”  he has not come and spoken with any of the people however.  No one from the City has come to talk with them about why they are here and what they need and want.  Perhaps by watching this they might be educated.  Also disturbing is that City officials have come to video the people there.  Perhaps this is an attempt to document something as a basis for removing the protesters.

I stopped at a nearby restaurant with a public restroom and an employee mentioned the issues they are dealing with as a result of the Occupation.  Many of the protesters are using the sole restroom to clean up and some are there doing drugs (they may be protesters, maybe not).  Regardless the restroom often isn’t available for the use of customers wishing to wash up before eating.  I noticed a sign at one of the headquarters tents at the Plaza listing public restrooms and theirs was listed.  It certainly would help if the City or someone provided some portable toilets.

The interview with Lyndon and Shawna is very interesting, I urge everyone to watch it.  This is their story, one of homelessness in America, the anger and frustration of hunger in a land of plenty.  I asked them what they want.  Watch for their answer.

Afternoon Update

Its been a busy week with lots happening.  I had two White House calls yesterday about Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility and another today with Mayor Nutter.  I hung up after listening to Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx state that “we can’t spend our way out of this recession.”  Obviously he isn’t an economist.  The White House is using morons like these to support their misguided policy?  No wonder we’re in a mess and sinking deeper.

Sen. Casey announced he has $2.1 million cash on hand after raising $1.1 million the first quarter.  He’s had full time fund raisers working since last fall raising money for 2012.  No wonder the GOP is looking at potted plants for a challenger.

Our own fringe whack job Rep. Daryl Metcalfe introduced a Birther Bill yesterday.  It would require any candidate for president or VP to provide proof of their birth in the U.S.  I say we amend it to say anyone running for the state legislature prove their sanity.  That may be the best method for ridding ourselves of Mr. Metcalfe.

For some reason the major media have been ignoring the biggest story in the country which is the huge wealth gap dividing the 1% top tier from the rest of us.  Meanwhile even networks like NPR are perpetuating myths being spread by lying conservatives.  I was listening to a show this morning (about 8:45 AM) when Congressman Camp repeated the lie that 50% of all the top 2% are small business owners.  His pants should be on fire because it is patently false.  The NPR person failed to call him out on the lie.  Maybe we should defund them since they’re failing to provide real news any longer.

The differences between the top 1% and the rest of the country is a recipe for revolution and no one is talking about this issue.   Nothing else should even be on the agenda until it is addressed and reformed.  The only place you’ll hear about it is on blogs and places like AlterNet and Truthout.  Here’s a piece about how a hedge fund manager can earn more in an hour as middle class households in 47 years.  This is the stuff we should be discussing on TV.

Here’s a snippet from the article:

Just take a look at the latest reports on what the top hedge fund managers haul in. In 2010 John Paulson led the list with a record $4.9 billion in personal earnings. That’s a whopping $2.4 million an HOUR. Here’s a factoid to make you wretch: It would take the median US household over 47 years to earn as much as Paulson pocketed in just 60 minutes. And, every hedge fund manager pays a lower tax rate than the average family.

Rick Santorum’s campaign slogan was borrowed from a poem by Langston Hughes.  The African-American union, civil rights and gay rights supporter coined the term “let America be America again.”  Oops.  I guess Santorum doesn’t use the Google.  Of course considering the results it brings on his own name we cannot blame the guy.

The Yes Men and US Uncut combined to sting GE over its failure to pay any federal taxes.  In fact the huge corporation has earned $27 billion the last five years and paid $0.  The group issued a fake press release saying GE would “do the right thing” and voluntarily pay.  Of course they’ll do no such thing.

News & Notes November 9, 2010

State Representative Robert Donatucci of Philadelphia died suddenly this morning according to The Inquirer.  Our thoughts are with his loved ones.

Sam Katz won’t run for Mayor of Philadelphia next year as a Democrat.  He has run several times as a Republican.  Of course announcing he won’t run as a Dem doesn’t mean he won’t run.  Mayor Nutter was snake bitten by a collapsing economy as he took office three years ago.  A fine man, he faces a difficult re-election year.

Northampton County DA John Morganelli has announced he will run for re-election next year also.  No soon are the bodies from this election cooling than the next cycling is heating up.  

Predatory payday lenders lost a key ruling and will be required to obey state banking rules and regulations.  This is a victory for Pennsylvanians, especially our poor population which is preyed upon by these unscrupulous leeches charging up to 1200% interest.

A disturbing result from last week’s election was the removal of three Supreme Court Judges in Iowa.  Voters tossed them for upholding the constitutional rights of LGBT persons to marry and have the same rights as straight citizens.  I suppose the constitutional principle of “equal justice under law” doesn’t appeal to Iowans.  This is a sound argument for the merit selection of judges rather than direct election and retention.  No ones rights should be put at the mercy of the voters.

68 Pennsylvania House members drove to Harrisburg and convened a mock session yesterday to protest the decision to adjourn for the remainder of this session.  No business could be done but they sent a message that important legislation remains on the table and abandoning their duty to the Commonwealth is shameful.

Fox News has its panties in an uproar over another manufactured scandal.  Their on air personalities raised a ruckus by claiming 34 Navy ships would be taking President Obama on his trip to India, that the trek would cost $200 million per day and other untrue, outrageous lies.  First of all the President travels on Air Force One, not Navy ships.  Ten percent of our Navy escorting him is, to any knowledgeable person, impossible while two wars are ongoing, and the supposed cost and number of hotel rooms are things people simply made up.  The culprits?  Rush and Beck again.  Fox reported this and put it out there then claimed it was true because “it’s on the internet.”  Yes, it was on the internet because they reported it.  This is the incestuous circle upon which the GOP propaganda channel depends.  Sheer nonsense except that millions of Americans will now suddenly assume it is all true when it was nothing but a complete fabrication.  I could say Rupert Murdoch is a serial killing, human cannibal alien from the planet Oosagia too but that doesn’t make it true.

I was driving home from a friend’s house and going through a very rural area (Lobachsville) and saw five doe crossing the road.  Three were taking their merry time and so I stopped to let them cross.  One stood just in front of my car while the third tried to decide whether or not to cross.  Finally I put the window down and asked her to just make up her mind.  It’s a woman thing right?

The trial for Elizabeth Smart’s kidnapper and rapist is underway in Utah.  She was the teen who was taken in Salt Lake City and kept tethered to a tree and raped daily by her tormentor.  Many Americans think she should have been forced to bear his baby and raise it had she been impregnated.  Imagine the horror she would have endured, especially if the child was the spitting image of his sire?  What’s even worse many Americans cling to the insane notion that words set down by Britain’s King James are the absolute word of god (or gods since christians worship three of them).  This would mean that Ms. Smart would have to be stoned to death for committing adultery.  Why are we allowing such insanity to rule us?  This is christian sharia law and they are the American Taliban.  There’s no difference folks.

Mayor Nutter: What You Can Do to Help Haiti

The pictures from Haiti aren’t burning into our consciousness every day due to more immediate issues and crises.  They are burned into our memories however and we must not forget.  We must not forget these people still need our help because they still need homes, schools, roads, jobs and stability.  We are now in hurricane season and thousands of Haitians are living under tarps.

The worst thing we can do is forget Haiti until the next catastrophe hits the island.  The first thing they need is a stable, democratic government, one which can design zoning and building codes with the ability to enforce them.  The massive refugee camp presence is a recipe for another disaster if something isn’t done soon to provide food, clothing and shelter.  Long term these people need jobs, sustainable jobs which will support them and their families.  They need new construction which will withstand the next earthquake, the next hurricane.  Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaks about how important economic development is and why we must not forget Haiti:

Gary Locke Reels Them In

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke came to Pennsylvania again yesterday, not to hand out a $6 million stimulus check as he did a few months back for Ben Franklin Technology Partners but to tout President Obama’s National Export Initiative.  He spoke at Penn Fishing Tackle in Hunting Park in Philadelphia about the program aimed at doubling the number of jobs created by exporting American goods and services.  The Commerce Department works with small to medium sized businesses like Penn Reels to provide access to overseas markets and customers.  They work with embassies and consulates and even provide local training in the disparate cultures and mores which drive local business relationships.  For example In Japan business people go through an important business card exchange as part of any initial meeting.  Commerce officials on the ground in Japan can provide advice on such customs.   Commerce can also help with official Customs, the process of actually getting goods into foreign markets.  Tony Ceballos is one of the officials working in Commerce’s Philadelphia office to aid and assist regional businesses looking for new markets.

Penn Reels makes and sells high end fishing equipment principally for charter fishermen.  I’m not a fisherman but there products certainly appear to be of high quality.  They sent a reel (I assume a bass fishing type) to President Obama.  After all the speakers finished Secretary Locke, Congressman Fattah and Senator Casey graciously mixed with the Penn Reels workers, posing for pictures and asking questions about the company.

The remaining video is available by clicking “there’s more” below:

Senator Casey:

Congressman Chaka Fattah and Mayor Nutter:

Secretary Locke:

A question posed by an official from AGI concerned export controls on sensitive national security products.  I recently attended another NEI event at AGI in Exton where they explained their sophisticated space software programs:

The national security implications of such sophisticated software is obvious.  I apologize for the low sound quality during the software presentation because the presenter was across the room from the press area.  The graphics can track every airplane, every satellite and every piece of space debris.  It is used to manage air and space and can prevent collisions.  Obviously we do not want North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and other “unfriendlys” accessing such technology and so we have export controls on such goods and services.  The question posed yesterday by the AGI executive makes one wonder if the company wishes to do so.  This is precisely why we have export controls.