Frustrated at the political gridlock in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Thursday released a report that members hope can be used to re-focus national attention on the need for spending on infrastructure, transportation and education.
“It must be the mission of this bipartisan organization to make sure that the priorities of cities are addressed by both presidential candidates through the course of this upcoming election and beyond,” said Mayor Michael Nutter, president of the conference which was meeting in Philadelphia this week. We want to remind both presidential candidates, the Congress and Washington in general that when you invest in cities, you invest in America.”
The report, a 116-page document titled U.S. Metro Economies, compiled by the consulting firm IHS Global Insight, provided a detailed statistical snapshot of the nation’s cities and predicted modest economic growth for the remainder of the year.
Short-term projections in the report anticipated a 1.4 percent increase in employment in metropolitan areas by the end of 2012, and a 2 percent growth in city’s share of gross domestic product. In addition, the report anticipated that over the next 30 years, cities will grow 32 percent, adding 84 million to the nation’s population centers.
For that growth to happen smoothly the nation needs to invest, concluded the report. However, over the last several years, investment has fallen. Public spending on infrastructure in the United States has fallen to 2.4 percent of the gross domestic product, according to the report.
Nutter noted that infrastructure spending had been at 3 percent of the GDP not long ago, saying, “It’s going in the wrong direction.”
“We need to make smart investments today to ensure that we will continue to grow in the future,” Nutter said. “The nation’s mayors are calling for investments that will not only create jobs today but that will pay dividends for decades to come.”
Speaking to the Tribune after the press conference, Nutter said the report would be used as a launch pad for a massive lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., urging the federal government to invest directly with cities. Officials were already working on a draft of a condensed report that will prioritize the mayors’ concerns. It is expected in the fall, Nutter said. It will also be used in discussions with various state governors.
A lack of investment will cost more in the future, said Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, Calif.
“Underinvestment in infrastructure, there is going to be costs in the long term that are going to impact everything else that we do,” he said.
Perhaps more important than the report was the obvious frustration of mayors from cities, large and small, felt with the country’s political leaders, particularly Congress.
“We need Congress to do their job, so Americans can get a job,” Nutter said.
Others were even more outspoken.
“We’re done asking the federal government for help,” said Mayor Frank Ortis of Pembroke Pines, Fla. “We’re going to take action and tell the federal government our cities need help. And, we’re going to lead the way. We want action. We’re going to go to the Hill and say we want to put our people to work.”
Using House Speaker John Boehner as an example, Mayor Donald Plusquellic of Akron, Ohio, said the partisan divide, fueled by the tea party, has paralyzed Congress.
“He treats us like crap,” Plusquellic yelled at one point during the press conference.
After the meeting, he explained that traditionally, Congressional and administration leaders from the cabinet level down have taken the time to meet personally with the mayors of large cities in their states but that Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has not.
“He used to be a pretty good guy,” Plusquellic said. “It used to be Democrats and Republicans working together. We have this partisanship now.”
Plusquellic said he’s met with Boehner’s staff but not the Speaker, but if he could sit down with Boehner he’d urge him to remember the old days.
“Sitting down and talking to people works,” Plusquellic said. “He treats all of the mayors and the leaders of this country like crap.”
“It’s symptomatic of what’s going on with Congress. If you’re not going to listen to 90 percent of the country … in November we’ll see if 90 percent of the country listens to you,” said John Dickert, mayor of Racine, Wis.
Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Ariz., explained that the frustration has been building for years.
“Every mayor in the room has been through the fire over the last three or four years. Every mayor in the room has had to make decisions we didn’t like,” said Smith. “Our frustration boils over because at both the state and national level we don’t see our legislators taking the same approach. It’s frustrating.”
If there’s a way to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and pay tribute to those who make local neighborhoods the “beloved community,” Mid-Atlantic Health Care and the Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church has found it.
Together they kicked off Pennsylvania’s King week, which according to a resolution sponsored by state Sen. Shirley Kitchen, spans from Monday, Jan. 15 to Sunday, Jan. 22. The kick-off event took place at Enon’s Mount Airy campus, 2800 W. Cheltenham Ave. last Wednesday.
Philadelphia NAACP member Helen Green of Germantown felt it was important that the King celebrations include events that showcase community activism. She said her daughter, Cynthia Green of Wyncote, joined the Cheltenham NAACP recently. After being reminded of King’s legacy, she opted to join the North Philadelphia branch, which is near her own mother’s home.
“We really have to continue to keep King’s dream alive,” Green said. “I think we need to have programs like this so that our young people don’t take things for granted. We who are the elders need to come out and encourage them to participate in things like this.”
Cathy Hicks of the city’s Sheriff’s office concurred.
She said though the King Day of Service is helpful, she feels there should be more programs that directly teach about King’s legacy.
“I really want the King Day celebrations to be more like this — where we observe what he has done and then we can go and do service for the rest of the year,” she said.
Among the honorees were C. B. Kimmins, founder of Mantua Against Drugs. “It’s good to know that sometimes someone recognizes what you are doing,” Kimmens said.
For Malik Aziz, accepting the honor from his wheelchair was a proud moment. As one of the founders of Men United for a Better Philadelphia, and now executive director of Exhoodus Network, Aziz said that “10 murders every 10 days” in the city is unacceptable.
“I grew up hearing Dr. King, Malcolm X and the others talking about positive change,” Aziz said. “I tell the young men my story of what I did at 17 years of age. I want to save them from what I did. That’s why I am still working to save our children.”
The other honorees were Lillian Daniels, the Rev. Derrick Johnson and Raymond Gant. Among the guest speakers and award presenters were 13th District Congresswoman Allyson Y. Schwartz, Mayor Michael Nutter, District Attorney Seth Williams and NAACP president Jerry Mondesire. Mid-Atlantic executives Dr. Jana Mallis, Jeff Grillo, Celeste Zappala, Diane Morgan and Dan McCathrey gave remarks. Additionally, Philadelphia’s own Bill Cosby phoned in his comments during the program.
Kitchen read a Commonwealth resolution that she sponsored declaring that from Monday, Jan. 15 until Sunday, Jan. 22, was King Week in Pennsylvania.
“This is a time when Pennsylvania can respect Dr. King’s legacy, and it’s a reminder that Dr. King understood that everyone needed to respect each other,” Kitchen said.
Citing the need to improve access to food for the city’s hungry, Mayor Michael Nutter on Tuesday named members of a special commission called the Philadelphia Food Access Collaborative.
“No Philadelphian should go hungry when resources and dedicated volunteers who are willing and able to help are present,” Nutter said in a statement.
The mayor created the 18-member collaborative board with an executive order signed Tuesday. Members are charged with six goals.
First, Nutter asked that they increase the availability of meals at existing indoor sites where meals are served. To that end, members are supposed to put together an inventory of groups that run the sites and assess their needs in an effort to increase the number of indoor options.
Second, the collaborative was asked to coordinate meal schedules to eliminate gaps in service with a schedule that includes indoor and outdoor sites and make that information public.
The third charge was for the board to find space for places that outdoor programs can be moved indoors. Members were also asked to make sure that people who need food have easy access, as well as access to other social services they may need at the sites where they receive meals.
Finally, Nutter asked the collaborative to put together an annual report on its activities and the overall state of emergency food access in Philadelphia, and to fundraise to support its efforts.
Members are: Kevin Barr, executive director, St. John’s Hospice; John Barrett, vice president, Logan Square Neighborhood Association; Adam Bruckner, director, Philadelphia Restart; Bill Clark, president and executive director, Philabundance; Andre Cureton, daytime program supervisor, Bethesda Project; Kim Fortunato, director, childhood obesity and hunger program, Campbell Soup Company; Brian Jenkins, executive director, Chosen 300; Samantha Matlin, special advisor to the Commissioner for Policy Development and Research, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services; Dick McMillen, executive director, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission; Carey Morgan, executive director, Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger; Joe Pyle, executive director, Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation; Joseph Rogers, chief advocacy officer, Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Nilda Ruiz, president and CEO, Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha; Jay Spector, president and CEO, Jewish Employment and Vocational Services; Salomon Vazquez, Outdoor Food Provider, The Connect Church.
Nutter also named two co-chairs to the group: Bill Golderer, convening minister, Broad Street Ministry, Pastor, Arch Street Presbyterian Church; and Mary Horstmann, deputy director, Policy Planning and Coordination, Mayor’s Office.
The collaborative was Nutter’s response to a report issued earlier this year by a task force he seated as part of an ongoing debate with homeless advocates across the city.
The administration is part of an ongoing lawsuit between the city and several groups that feed the homeless. Advocates sued the city to overturn Nutter’s executive order, issued in March, which banned large-scale feeding of the homeless outside. Violators faced fines of up to $150. Earlier this month, federal Judge William Yohn Jr., issued a temporary ruling against the order, allowing the continued serving of outdoor meals until he could issue a final ruling in the case.
In the wake of the dispute that led to the suit, Nutter seated the task force to find ways to feed the homeless that might placate both sides.
The third time was a charm for attorney David Oh, who appears to be the winner in a tight race against former candidate for mayor, Al Taubenberger for a City Council-at-large seat.
He will be the first Asian-American member of Council in the city’s history.
“I think it’s a point of pride for Asian Americans in Philadelphia,” Oh told the Inquirer on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, we’re all Philadelphians, and it’s important that we all come together to improve our city.”
He did not respond to repeated attempts by the Tribune to reach him.
For a while, it appeared that Oh, who seemed to be jinxed in his attempts to win a council seat, could lose yet again.
Votes tallied on Nov. 8 gave him a razor thin lead of 140 votes. Counting of provisional and absentee ballots — about 2,800 ballots — wrapped up Tuesday giving Oh a lead of 171 votes.
That lead remains unofficial until election results are certified.
But, Taubenberger conceded Tuesday evening telling reporters: “It’s back to my day job at the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.”
Taubenberger is the president of the chamber. Like Oh, he has tried for years to capture a public seat. He challenged Mayor Michael Nutter in his first race for mayor.
Oh’s win makes him the second of two Republicans who will take at-large seats in January. The other is state Rep. Dennis O’Brien.
It was Oh’s third run for a council seat. He also ran in 2007 and 2003.
Four years ago he lost in an extremely tight race to Jack Kelly and vote-counting dragged on for two weeks.
This time around he collected some big name endorsements, but the campaign got dirty in August when several stories appeared in the press that questioned Oh’s military record and publicized his arrest in the mid-1990s on gun charges.
The stories gave union boss John Dougherty the material needed to attack Oh with fliers raising questions about Oh’s suitability for office. Dougherty was apparently trying to weaken Oh, because he would not commit to support Councilman Darrell Clarke for Council president.
Oh, who grew up and lives in Cobbs Creek, served on former Mayor Ed Rendell’s transition team and was Gov. Tom Ridge’s point man on a trade mission to South Korea. He worked as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office and served on a variety of civic boards.
He is just one of six new members to take their seats in January in a sweeping restructuring of City Council made possible by a series of retirements.
DHS case management gradually shifting to regional agencies
Mayor Michael Nutter and DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose announced on Wednesday that the agency would be starting the implementation of a major shift in how its cases are handled — a change designed to streamline case management and provide more oversight in situations when children are at risk.
Over the next four years, the Department of Human Services will transition into what is called the Improving Outcomes for Children model. All case management would be handled by ten service provider agencies called Community Umbrella Agencies or CUAs. DHS personnel would take over oversight, monitoring of cases and training. The CUAs will be chosen and contracted by DHS, and each will manage cases within a specific geographic region.
“DHS has seen some tremendous improvements under the leadership of Commissioner Ambrose,” said Mayor Nutter. “But no matter how much we have done, there is still more work to do. ‘Improving Outcomes for Children’ is another opportunity for our administration and DHS to put first the welfare, safety and best interest of Philadelphia’s children.”
The contracting of the Community Umbrella Agencies will take place over a period of four years, at the end of which, all direct case management will be handled by them. Under the old system, DHS-involved children had two case workers, one from DHS and one from a provider agency. Under IOC, DHS will streamline case management into a single-case management system. This allows for children in the DHS system to have a consistent case manager from the provider agency with the experience and knowledge of DHS staff to account for the care and services given to DHS children and families by the provider agencies. The first two CUAs are Northeast Treatment Centers (NET) and Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM).
“APM has a long record of serving eastern North Philadelphia, building affordable housing, helping reunify hundreds of families and providing behavioral health and foster care services,” said Ambrose. “It is an agency truly, as its name says, on the march. NET has also performed very well with its school-based programs, parenting classes, and adult drug and alcohol treatment program. Both APM and NET have a documented record of more than 40 years of commitment and involvement in the communities they serve.”
DHS spokesperson Alicia Taylor said the shift to the IOC model clarifies responsibilities.
“There would be several people overseeing a case. DHS would provide direct oversight, support and monitoring. There would be a much clearer clarification of responsibilities,” said Taylor.
“NET is known to many people as a national leader in the field of recovery. But we started as a youth services organization more than 40 years ago,” said Regan Kelly, vice president of Northeast Treatment Centers. “We’ve always maintained a strong connection to supporting youth and families in their own communities. We’ve developed very successful home- and community-based programs for youth and families and support more than 400 families every year. We look forward to partnering with the local community and DHS to make this a nationally recognized child welfare system.”
APM and NET will begin training with former DHS case management workers as early as next week. DHS will still be responsible for the children within its care and will still operate the DHS Hotline, continue to perform intake and will still conduct investigations.
One of the problems the change to IOC is meant to address is that during the Danieal Kelly case, the social workers from the provider agencies and DHS each shifted the blame back and forth. Kelly, a 14-year-old who suffered from cerebral palsy, died in August 2006 from starvation. Her parents, her DHS and service provider caseworkers and others directly connected with her death were arrested and prosecuted.
Last year Kelly’s father, Daniel Kelly Sr., 40, was found guilty of endangering the welfare of a child. Dana Poindexter, the DHS caseworker, was found guilty of child endangerment, recklessly endangering another person and perjury. Her mother, Andrea Kelly, 42, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in 2009 and is serving a 20-to-40-year prison sentence. Mickal Kamuvaka, head of the service provider agency was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, child endangerment, reckless endangerment, perjury and criminal conspiracy.
Residents of Dimock, a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania and the focal point of the national debate over natural gas drilling, need to await more testing before the federal government decides whether it will provide drinking water, said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This isn’t a situation where the EPA can come in and just say ‘water for everyone,’” Jackson told reporters gathered on Friday at the Academy of Natural Sciences. “Someone is paying for that water, and that’s the federal government. We have to make sure that we meet the scientific and legal test that will allow us to do that. We’re doing that as quickly as we can.”
She declined to say when the needed tests might be concluded, or whether the federal government would provide water.
“The decision has not been made yet,” she said.
Jackson was in Philadelphia for an unrelated matter, a forum on creating environmentally friendly and economically sustainable cities that included Mayor Michael Nutter and Brazil’s minister of the environment, Izabella Teixeria.
Recent events in Dimock cast a shadow over the event.
About 50 protestors — concerned about the environmental impact of a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing and more commonly known as fracking — stood in front of the museum chanting “Lisa Jackson, we need action!” Several Philadelphia officials — led by City Council members Curtis Jones and Blondell Reynolds Brown — have spoken out against fracking, citing the fact that the city is downstream of many of the gas wells.
Craig Sautner and his wife Julie had driven about three hours from Dimock to confront the EPA’s top official.
“We have no time to wait for test results to come back. We need water now,” said Craig. “You can’t be playing with people lives like that.”
He contends that a natural gas well drilled by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. contaminated his water.
A state investigation found that 18 wells in the Susquehanna County village were contaminated after natural gas drilling began there in 2008.
Nearly a dozen residents have sued Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., claiming the energy company caused the contamination when it used fracking, a method that has spurred a boom in natural gas drilling in several states while raising concerns about the toll on the environment and public health.
Cabot denies contaminating the wells, saying most wells in the region were laced with methane long before the arrival of drilling. Nevertheless, the company trucked in fresh water for the residents to use for bathing and washing clothes and dishes. The deliveries stopped Nov. 30, after state regulators determined that Cabot had fulfilled its obligations to the residents under a 2010 consent agreement.
Last week, federal officials told residents the government would deliver water for them to use. Then, 24 hours later, abruptly changed their mind.
“You can’t get our hopes up like this and dash them to pieces within a day,” Sautner said. “It’s like a roller coaster ride, and it’s time that this ride stopped. Cabot Oil and Gas took away our water, and we want it back.”
Jackson characterized the incident as “miscommunication,” and said she empathized, but that the EPA needed to meet legal and scientific requirements before it could act.
“We are not allowed to spend money on oil or gas, per se, so it has to be a release of synthetic chemicals that now threatens water supplies that is the legal test, and I know that’s frustrating,” she said. “This is all about whether it’s contaminated, whether it poses a threat and whether, scientifically and legally, there is a need to give water,” she said.
Sautner was obviously frustrated.
“People shouldn’t be without access to clean drinking water in their own homes,” he said. “It’s time that they were held accountable for their actions. The EPA has a right and a responsibility to step in when it’s clear that the PA DEP has reneged on its duty to protect our rights as citizens.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
The proposed $6.4 billion Philadelphia International Airport expansion project has its share of detractors, including residents from Tinicum Township, Pennsylvania — who recently filed a lawsuit to halt the project — and the Environmental Protection Agency.
POWER — Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower and Rebuild can be added to the list of entities seeking clarity — and equal job opportunities for the city’s skilled minority workforce.
POWER plans to meet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, at Grace Christian Fellowship Church, 6206 Grays Ferry Avenue, to discuss the finer, financial nuances of the plan. Reverend Cean James will head this meeting, the first such one to take place at the church.
The church also held an informal meeting earlier this year in regard to the project, but Tuesday’s meeting represents the first of four city-wide meetings, which POWER sees as a “campaign to address economic injustice in the city.”
“There are young people sitting in Philadelphia classrooms, and adults sitting in GED programs, whose future will be determined by our ability to establish this kind of agreement,” James said in a prepared statement. “The expansion of PHL provides a unique opportunity for city government to provide leadership to ensure that struggling people from all over the city are able to take advantage of this once in a life time economic development project.”
POWER also held a prayer rally earlier this year at the site of the proposed expansion, and organizational leaders remain committed to the cause.
“POWER congregations serve thousands of Philadelphians who are either unemployed or underemployed,” said Executive Director Bishop Dwayne Royster, who also serves as pastor of Living Water United Church of Christ in Kensington. “In addition to easing airport delays for people traveling through Philadelphia, this economic development project should be used to address long-standing poverty and joblessness in our hardest hit neighborhoods.”
The expansion project — which includes additional international runways and terminals that the Federal Aviation Association says will decrease air congestion — is said to create more than 100,000 temporary, long-term and permanent positions over the next several decades. To make sure that the city and PHL guarantee equality in filling out those positions, POWER crafted a five-step process to ensure minorities are at the table — and at the pay window.
At a ratification meeting last month, POWER called on Mayor Michael Nutter and PHL officials to create training programs to ensure that people have the skills required to do the permanent jobs that will become available; create a first source hiring program that gives “first crack” at the permanent jobs to people who have struggled recently with unemployment, or who live in disadvantaged areas; promote a living wage, health and retirement benefits, and the right to organize, where applicable, for the permanent jobs and create a fully-funded compliance and monitoring system.
Unrelated to POWER, the airport project has seen its share of naysayers and lawsuits — some of which had the potential to derail the project entirely.
Tinicum residents in April held a hearing with a panel of three federal judges who heard their complaints — chief among them that the project would eliminate more than 70 residential dwellings. Media reports suggested the EPA is backing the Tinicum residents in the matter. And US Airways — one of the airport’s biggest customers — is said to be against the project from the start, claiming it will cost too much money and will not alleviate air congestion in the manner the FAA believes it will.
This proposed project comes on the heels of a $117 million expansion currently underway. That expansion includes a new central hub, reconfigured security checkpoints, new baggage claim areas and a new connector for Terminals E and F. This expansion should be completed by fall 2015.
Philadelphia students are back to school and the controversial flash mob attacks are practically non-existent since.
Confident that the curfew crackdown was successful, Mayor Michael Nutter is now proposing permanent and drastic curfew changes in spite of the decline in flash mob violence in targeted areas.
The Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), located within the confines of the curfew enforcement area, continues to align with the curfew times so that the students they serve are well on their way home to avoid being found on the streets after hours.
“The curfew ordinance has a direct impact on us,” said Nijmie Dzurinko, PSU executive director.
PSU programs, meetings and resources are scheduled so students have ample travel time to navigate home when they must use public transportation and are not able to travel with a parent.
The students themselves appear to be impacted the most by the harsh curfew restrictions being enforced by police officers. PSU student members feel that working students have the biggest challenge in dealing with the curfew hours.
“A lot of my friends work because they have to or they enjoy making money on their own,” said Bernard Nesmith, a senior at South Philadelphia’s Furness High School. Nesmith personally noted the flash mob label is both inappropriate and creates the thought that the average teenager is bad.
For many students, there is the notion that because older teenagers are able to work, they are able to enjoy their earnings.
Many youth patronize the popular and abundant downtown and West Philadelphia eateries, cinemas and retail stores that are often not found within their individual neighborhoods.
Philadelphia’s extensive public transportation system makes it all the more accessible for youth to travel within and outside of the city perimeter to take advantage of some of the many benefits offered in Center City and surrounding areas.
“Unfortunately, many of the students impacted by the curfew enforcement areas are working part-time jobs downtown, where they are unable to navigate home in sufficient time,” Dzurinko said. “The students enjoy being downtown as much as tourists. Not all large or small groups of students lead to violence.
“Individuals who break the law should be dealt with on an individual basis,” Dzurinko added. “Collective punishment targeting a small geographic area is not going to solve the root issue.”
In her fifth year as executive director, Dzurinko feels honored to work with young people who move from being subjects of their conditions to agents for change.
She has observed that too often young people are wrongly criminalized, punished and stereotyped for various reasons.
“The focus should be more on implementing programs and resources that can help the students not punish them,” Dzurinko said.
As the Republican National Convention moved into full swing, the Obama campaign swung through Pennsylvania this week — in a three-day bus tour — contrasting President Barack Obama to his challengers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
The bus, bulging with dignitaries — some of whom had ridden just a few blocks down Broad Street from the Union League at Broad and Sansom Street — rolled into town, the final stop on a statewide tour that started Monday in Erie.
Participants in the tour, dubbed, “Romney Economics Wrong for the Middle Class,” pummeled Romney and Ryan on their proposed economic policies.
“They do want to take America back,” Mayor Michael Nutter said, riffing on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s convention speech. “Back to the failed economic policies that got us here in the first place.”
The tour, which travelled through Pittsburgh, Johnstown, State College and Scranton, among others, provided a diversion for Democrats during the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., which has dominated the airways and news cycles all week, with numerous party bigwigs from Gov. Chris Christie to vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan criticizing the president for everything.
In his convention speech Wednesday night Ryan blasted the president and his economic policies.
“President Obama is the kind of politician who puts promises on the record, and then calls that the record,” said Ryan. “But we are four years into this presidency. The issue is not the economy as Barack Obama inherited it, not the economy as he envisions it, but this economy as we are living it.”
The city’s Democratic establishment hastened to disagree, charging that Republican policies would destroy the middle class.
“It’s Robin Hood in reverse,” said City Council Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr., referring to Romney’s time as head of Bain Capital. “He steals from the poor to give to his rich friends. He would do the same thing in the White House.”
And though Philadelphia politicians made up the bulk of the group, two legislators from Massachusetts — who had travelled the length of Pennsylvania — spoke about Romney’s tenure as governor of their state.
“Romney economics didn’t work then, and it won’t work now,” said Massachusetts state Rep. Jeffery Sanchez, telling reporters that while Romney was governor of the state, 40,000 jobs were lost and the state fell to 47th in job creation.
“What has Mitt Romney ever built but million dollar bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands?” he asked.
The arrival of the bus was the culmination of several events in Philadelphia this week as the Obama campaign continued to hammer at the Romney–Ryan ticket.
A number of smaller but related events were held throughout the week, singling out specific topics for attack. For example, on Tuesday, actress Tatyana Ali, former star of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, appeared with Councilwoman Marian Tasco to urge women to vote for Obama.
Ali, the daughter of immigrants, dismissed remarks Ann Romney made at the convention talking about the struggles she and her husband had early in their marriage.
“I don’t think they have any idea what it takes to pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” Ali said.
Pennsylvania is a key state in the November 6 contest. Most polls show Obama leading Romney but it’s too early to tell if the convention will provide the usual upswing in poll numbers for the Romney ticket.
Christie, in his convention speech, dismissed the polls, saying Republicans would reverse the numbers.
“Real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls,” he said. “That’s what we need to do now. Change polls through the power of our principles.”
The Republicans have outpaced Obama and the Democrats in the last three months of fund-raising. Since June, Obama has raised $75 million while the Republicans have hauled in more than $101 million.
The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program announced Monday the launch of an eight-month-long mural project to honor the legacy, achievements and role of the Grammy Award-winning band, The Roots, in the pantheon of great American bands and continuum of accomplished Philadelphia musicians. The Roots Mural Project will tell the story of The Roots — especially Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter’s founding of the band — from the genesis to the present day.
Thompson and Trotter met at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts and practiced their musical craft on South Street. Since their 1987 founding, they have become icons in the world of hip-hop musicians, lyricists, producers and showmen. Currently, The Roots serve as the house band for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC and will release their 13th studio album, “Undun,” in four weeks.
“Even though I’m a musician, I kind of identify a bit more with the visual arts aspect of being an artist because that’s the world that I come from,” said Trotter. “I come from summer art camp at Fairmount Park and Saturday art classes at Fleischer Art Memorial in South Philly. I come from writing graffiti on all these walls, you know, climbing on all these roofs and all these buildings that you see in the South Street area. So, I’m definitely a Philadelphia artist, and that Philadelphia spirit is definitely in me. And, for Philly to be such an artistic city and to be recognized as such a beautiful city because of all these murals that have gone up over the years — to be recognized with one of these murals depicting The Roots is just, like, mind blowing.”
Trotter recalled his early artistic endeavors that landed him in community service time thus making his work with MAP mandatory. “Some of the people, who were in the ’80s writing their names right along with me, are now instructors in the Mural Arts Program,” explained Trotter to a bemused gathering. “I had to do these mural during my summers and Saturdays — it’s just an amazing blessing, and it’s so ironic for there to be a legal mural going up of The Roots. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that something like this would be taking place.”
Members of The Roots will take an active role throughout the development of the project. From participating in Roots 101 and painting with the public at Community Paint Days, the band will be present and involved throughout the eight months, including design review and the final dedication of the mural.
“It really is an honor to be a part of this announcement — a multifaceted, interactive tribute to a couple of our native sons and a Philly-based band,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “These guys really are heroes, and need to be recognized — not just because of their Grammy Awards, the millions of records sold or millions of folk who tune in to catch them on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,’ which are impressive accomplishments in themselves — but these guys are heroes because they took their childhood love of music and their education talent to become respected, talented and innovative professionals from Philly. They could have done anything, they could go anywhere, they could be anywhere, they stayed right here in Philadelphia and made our city their home-base, perfecting their craft and their talent and simultaneously changing hip-hop and the entire music industry.”
Jane Golden, executive director of the Mural Arts Program made a call for proposals to begin the process of selecting the artist or artist teams that will be responsible for engaging the community in all phases of the mural-making process, from design through execution. The proposal can be downloaded on the Mural Arts Program website here: http://muralarts.org/about/jobs-artist-opportunities. The deadline is Nov. 21.