The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator (PFI) at Macy’s Center City, a new fashion design initiative devoted to supporting and promoting emerging fashion designers and encouraging local designers to keep their businesses in Philadelphia, was announced by city officials this week.
A collaboration between The City of Philadelphia, Center City District, Macy’s Center City, and several educational institutions devoted to fashion design in Philadelphia, PFI will provide four aspiring designers the workspace and essential business resources needed to run successful and sustainable fashion companies. This initiative comes on the heels of the second successful “Philadelphia Collection 2011,” an umbrella event that showcased the city’s fall fashion happenings. The PFI is the first of its kind in Philadelphia, the home to nationally recognized fashion design schools, including Moore College of Art, Drexel University and Philadelphia University. The purpose of PFI is to support and promote emerging fashion designers from these design schools and the fashion community of Philadelphia.
“We’re not just a city between New York and Washington — we have a lot to offer, and that’s what we’re doing here,” said city representative Melanie Johnson. “The Philadelphia fashion retail profile is certainly on the rise, and with exciting new programs like the PFI, our stake in the future of Philadelphia’s fashion and design community becomes even more important in branding the city as a innovative fashion destination and a location for smart business investment.”
Modeled after a similar and successful program in Chicago between Macy’s State Street and The City of Chicago, the year-long residency program, which launches in Philadelphia in March 2012, will provide the selected Designer-In-Residence (DIR) with office space, a production room and shared showroom space/conference room. The DIR will receive mentoring from industry and business professionals along with a significant schedule of monthly workshops focused on the business of fashion. Workshops will include topics on creating a business plan, marketing strategy, and identifying legal needs and funding. The tailored curriculum will be offered by community leaders, industry experts and fashion insiders.
“Philly is fashion in the United States of America,” declared Mayor Nutter. “Philadelphia is a fertile breeding ground for the creative class. We are fortunate to have some of the best educational institutions in the country, and the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator will cultivate and nurture these talented fashion designers that have emerged from these institutions,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator is the first of its kind in Philadelphia, and the initiative represents the City’s commitment to a thriving, innovative, creative economy.”
The 600+-square foot “Project Runway”-inspired production room, showroom and office space will be located at Macy’s Center City in the historic Wanamaker Building. The space will allow DIRs to produce samples, gain valuable retail insight and showcase their collections to merchants from local and national retailers. In addition to workspace and monthly business workshops, DIRs will also participate in various fashion events throughout the year, including pop-up shops, trunk shows and a fashion show during The Philadelphia Collection.
“Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Center City is going to go a long way in finding the next generation of local fashion design talent” says Martine Reardon, executive vice president of Marketing & Advertising of Macy’s. “The fashion and retail industries thrive when new creative talent emerges and energizes the marketplace. By introducing aspiring designers to the inner workings of the fashion and retail business, and providing them a workshop filled with the resources that will get their businesses off the ground, Philadelphia will become a key city in the American fashion industry.”
DIR will be selected by PFI’s Selection Committee which consists of six professionals from Philadelphia’s fashion and business sectors. “We are extremely excited to launch this initiative in Philadelphia,” said Michelle Shannon, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Center City District. “To have the ability to support local fashion design talent and nurture new wholesale and retail business in our city sends a strong message that Philadelphia is indeed an emerging fashion design center.”
Each of the three design schools will have one alumnus participate as a designer-in-residence. The fourth designer-in-residence spot is an open call to any apparel designer living in the Philadelphia region. If you are interested in becoming one of the designers chosen to be part of the 2012 Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, apply at philadelphiafashionincubator.com. Applications are due by January 20, 2012.
Independence Blue Cross has launched a $10 million foundation geared toward transforming health care in the Philadelphia region.
The IBC Foundation targets three areas: caring for the community’s most vulnerable; leading innovative approaches to health care and developing the health-care workforce of the future with an intense focus on nursing education.
“It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we announce the launch of the IBC Foundation,” said IBC president and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty.
“Building upon our deep commitment to our community, the foundation is poised to build healthier communities and spur innovation. By caring for the most vulnerable people in our community, enhancing the quality of health care for all and supporting groundbreaking innovations in health care, the foundation will help drive change in health care in our region for generations to come.”
The foundation’s creation was announced Thursday afternoon during the launch of IBC’s Nursing For Tomorrow Forum held at WHYY headquarters on Independence Mall.
Lorina Marshall Blake, IBC vice president of community affairs, will head the foundation.
The new foundation will focus on caring for the most vulnerable in the Philadelphia region by helping the uninsured get quality health care and supporting seniors and their caregivers. The newly created Blue Safety Net will provide $2 million in grants in 2011 to private nonprofit clinics that care for the uninsured and underinsured.
IBC announced foundation grants totaling $1 million to 15 clinics serving 70,000 patients in all five counties in the region.
The foundation’s second area of impact is directed at enhancing health-care delivery and will focus on developing the health-care workforce needed for the future. This work will concentrate on strengthening the region’s nursing workforce through a new $1.5 million initiative called Nurses For Tomorrow.
Nurses for Tomorrow will improve the quality of care in the region by increasing the supply of nurses and nurse educators through $1 million in scholarships awarded through 27 undergraduate nursing programs and 12 graduate nursing programs in the Philadelphia region. The Nurses for Tomorrow initiative will support the creation of three fellowships over the next two years to drive innovation in nursing education. The initiative will also establish continued education for nursing deans, nurse educators and administrators and support the development of a web-based resource for all area nursing schools.
“We are very excited about this new foundation and expanding our partnership with IBC ever further,” said Beverly Malone, CEO of the National League for Nursing, who joined IBC officials for the foundation’s launch.
“What can’t be overlooked is that IBC is not only continuing to support nursing education through scholarships, but again is leading the way in a manner no one else has thought to do.”
The foundation is launching a new Innovation Grant program that will provide $1 million to support projects and research that significantly advance the practice and delivery of health care. The foundation’s first Innovation Grant was awarded to the National Nursing Centers Consortium to enable area nonprofit clinics to use electronic medical records to provide more efficient and safer patient care.
The foundation’s website is now accepting applications for Innovation Grants at www.ibxfoundation.org.
Hilferty was joined at the foundation launch by Mayor Michael Nutter and Drexel University President John Fry, who highlighted IBC’s long partnership with Drexel.
Now parents have one more tool at their disposal when it comes to selecting the proper school for their child.
A new website – www.GreatPhillySchools.org – was created through a unique private/nonprofit collaboration between the Philadelphia School Partnership, Philadelphia Public School Network, and the Urban Affairs Coalition. The website, which allows the visitor to select and compare any of the city’s more than 400 schools, launched last week.
“GreatPhillySchools is more than a website. It is a tool that allows parents and caregivers to play an active role in the education of their children,” Mayor Michael Nutter said during the website’s launch. “By making information available about the performance, academics, attendance and safety of different types of schools, GreatPhillySchools.org will ease the process of school selection.”
The site uses an intuitive matrix, utilizing data derived from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the National Student Clearinghouse, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Catholic Education and from the School District of Philadelphia. Each school in the city was also offered the opportunity to submit descriptive information and other data profiles of their school.
The schools are then rated in five categories: academics, safety, student attendance, achievement gap metrics and the percentage of an individual school’s population that enroll in either two- or four-year colleges.
“This is all about equipping families with the information to ask the right questions, make the best decisions, and demand the best schools for their children. We communicated with parents throughout the process so that we could create a site that best delivers the information and data that parents want or need to know. GreatPhillySchools is an attempt to put all of the information families need in one, easy-to-use place,” said Philadelphia School Partnership Executive Director Mark Gleason. “Special acknowledgement goes to the leaders of Philadelphia’s Catholic elementary and high schools. These schools educate about 12 percent of the city’s students, in many cases well, yet before now detailed information on these schools could be hard to find.
“Catholic school leaders have been committed and cooperative partners in this effort.”
According to GreatPhillySchools, each school is rated on a 1-10 scale on each category, and then assigned an overall score. A rating of 10 means that particular school is among the city’s very best in that particular category. The site also includes other useful information, such as a parental checklist for college visitations, and the differences between private and public schools.
The site also provides the admission policies, special programs and language offerings of each school.
“I am confident that the GreatPhillySchools.org website will be an important resource for city families for years to come,” said School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite Sr., “and I am hopeful that families will take advantage of this valuable tool.”
Over howls of protest from the city’s union employees, Mayor Michael Nutter unveiled his $3.6 billion budget Thursday at City Council — a budget that did not include raises for the city’s unionized workers, but did include plans to add more firefighters and police to the city’s roster and a number of improvements to police stations, firehouses, libraries and recreation centers.
It did not include a tax increase.
It is “a plan that tackles the challenges of the present, and makes investments in our future,” Nutter told council members, citing three challenges: public safety, the rising costs of pensions and benefits and proposed cuts in the state budget.
Overall spending rose from $3.5 billion last year, with about $70 million of that increase going to the city’s pension fund, and about $10 million to debt service.
Those figures are central to an ongoing battle between the Nutter administration and the city’s two municipal unions.
Salaries and benefits account for 68 percent of city spending and that share is growing, the mayor said.
“Employee costs have been growing at an unaffordable rate,” Nutter said. “Unless we take action to slow the growth in these costs — particularly pension and health care — these two items will continue to devour our budget.”
“These cost drivers present the most substantial challenge to our city’s financial future,” Over the last 10 years, pension costs have risen from $200 million to more than $550 million.
The Nutter administration has been negotiating with the city’s municipal unions since 2009, but has been unable to reach an accord.
In the most recent round of talks, administration officials have proposed increasing healthcare costs by a percentage based on the city’s increase. The city also proposed a 2.5 percent increase for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. In terms of pension benefits, the city wants to set up a dual pension plan; one for senior employees and another for employees hired after a certain date.
The union has rejected them all — and this week the battle spilled over into the corridors of city hall.
Nutter was soundly booed as he entered the chamber to give his speech. Members of the audience rose as the mayor strode into the room, but Pete Matthews, president of the American Federation State, County and Municipal Employees, District 33, remained seated.
Several hundred union members – most from District 33 – stomped their feet and shouted slogans like “keep your word” as they lined the galleries overlooking council chambers. At several points during Nutter’s speech, they interrupted the mayor with shouts, catcalls, and a chorus of angry boos.
“We put you in office, and you turned your back,” shouted one man. “We had faith in you, but we don’t have faith anymore.”
Council President Darrell Clarke adroitly quieted the hecklers, asking them to respect the “people’s house.”
“I have been a strong supporter of municipal unions,” Clarke said. “But I need you to be respectful in this house.”
An unusual amount of security surrounded the proceedings. Only visitors with passes were admitted to the chamber floor, usually open to everyone, confining the main body of union protestors to the galleries.
After the meeting, Matthews, standing on the steps of the northeast tower, met with union members to voice his outrage.
“He is trying to break you,” thundered Matthews to union members.
Members of the four unions representing non-uniformed employees have been working without a contract since 2009.
Neither Nutter’s budget or his five-year plan included plans for raises.
However, the mayor said in his speech that he was prepared to pay for raises.
“I want to work with the union leadership to figure out how we can give our workers much deserved pay raises,” he said. “But, I cannot sign a contract that does not deal with long-term employee benefit challenges that threaten this city’s future. We’re in his position now because the can has been kicked down the road too many times. Well, I’m not going to kick it any farther.”
The unions seemed to have support in council, though whether that support would extend to council pressing for raises remains to be seen.
Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. introduced a resolution, expected to pass, calling for a “fair contract that represents the significant fiscal support that these two city employee unions have already rendered.”
Goode would not say whether that support extended to budgeting for raises.
“This resolution is in support of a fair contract,” he said. “I think there should be a negotiated contract. The resolution does not deal with raises or benefits specifically.”
Other items in the budget included a $4.1 million proposal to hire 400 new police officers by July 2013. New hires would help the city bolster its complement of officers at 6,500 over the next five years. City officials expect to lose 900 officers through attrition over that period.
The administration also budgeted to hire between 80 and 120 firefighters, hoping that by expanding the department, the city could save about $2 million in overtime.
Another $6.7 million has been earmarked for improvements to six police stations and 11 firehouses, and $9 million for design work to renovate the former Penn Mutual Insurance Co. building at 46th and Market Streets with plans to eventually move police headquarters and the city morgue, along with a public health center to that site.
Nutter hopes to leverage $1.5 million over the next three years for improvements to neighborhood libraries. Ultimately, the administration hopes to leverage those funds with private partnerships to raise a total of $6 million for library improvements.
The budget did include about $2.2 million in cuts: $900,000 in the Office of Information and Technology; $20,000 in the finance department; and $300,000 in the managing director’s office. Also included in that figure was a $1 million savings for the streets department, money spent this year to buy salt for the road that was not needed due to the mild winter.
With 2012 having barely begun, Philadelphia homicide detectives are working on 31 new murder cases — a 10 percent increase from last year — and law enforcement officials are also concerned about the rising number of non-fatal shootings in the city. Some of those cases have been solved, others are waiting for more evidence to arrest suspects, and several of the new cases require reluctant witnesses to step up with information.
That’s not an easy thing to do in a city where thugs have easy access to illegal guns and use them indiscriminately.
Many of those concerns were expressed during a press conference on Thursday, when Mayor Michael Nutter announced expanded crime fighting efforts; this plan oriented around greater prevention and earlier intervention, more assistance on the federal level, and major rewards for information leading to the arrests and convictions of suspects wanted for any homicide committed in the city.
“There are a series of concrete measures we will be taking to make Philadelphia safer, and the kind of city we all want it to be,” Nutter said during a press conference at Strawberry Mansion High School. “There are three words that will be the context of what I’m talking about, prevention, intervention and collaboration. We have to send a message to every punk, every criminal and every person carrying an illegal weapon in this city. Got a gun? Go to jail. No more slaps on the wrists, no more falling through the cracks, no more walking away and thinking nothing is going to happen. Sections 6106 and 6108 of the Pennsylvania Crime Code provides that carrying an illegal firearm on public property or on the streets is either a first-degree misdemeanor or third-degree felony that results in sentences of five to seven years.
“Unfortunately in Philly this is not the case. Many of these defendants get probation. We need to protect our citizens, those who come forward and give us the information we need to solve crimes. So we will be doubling the funding of our witness assistance program to protect witnesses from that hateful ‘don’t snitch’ mentality.
“Also, as of today there is a standing reward for any information leading to the arrests and convictions of suspects wanted for murder, wanted for any homicide in the city. To every criminal out there, I just put a $20,000 bounty on your head. We’re coming for you, we will find you and people will give up that information.”
The mayor’s remarks follow an extraordinarily violent week in Philadelphia, where 8 people have been killed and several others wounded in gun violence. The mayor also said that there is a standing reward of $500 for the recovery of any illegal handgun. Police department statistics show that almost all of the homicides in Philadelphia are committed by individuals with police records carrying illegal firearms.
“We are pleased to see the mayor announcing decisive new action to crack down on the proliferation of illegal guns in the city,” said CeaseFirePA Board President Dan Muroff. “The proposals laid out today are a significant step in the right direction — and another example of cities desperately trying to take measures to stem the scourge of gun violence. Yesterday, the Violence Prevention Center in Washington D.C., issued a report identifying Pennsylvania as the state with the third highest rate of African-American homicide in the nation. It comes as no surprise that 85 percent of those homicides are committed with illegal firearms.”
Another major aspect of the amped-up crime fighting strategy involves a successful tactical initiative the police engaged in during 2009 and 2010 called Operation Pressure Point. Nuisance bars were closed and wanted fugitives were captured. Beginning in the spring and through the fall, teams of local, state and federal law enforcement officers will be hitting the streets again, hitting the criminals where it hurts
“Beginning in April and extending to October, Operation Pressure Point will be active again. It’s like this; active criminals, we know who you are and we’re going to find you,” Nutter said. “We’re coming for you.”
One of the homicides police are now investigating happened on Wednesday afternoon just after 2:30 p.m. in the 5600 block of Arch Street. The victim, identified as Rashan Mickens, 24, of the 7600 block of Brockton Road in Overbrook Park was pronounced dead at 3:00 p.m. at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. So far, no arrests have been made. Mickens was found inside a 2005 brown Jeep Cherokee with a gunshot wound to the stomach.
“We’ve spent several months identifying those areas of the city where there is the greatest concentration of gun violence, not just homicides, but robberies and other crimes committed with a gun,” said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “We’re not talking about infringing on Second Amendment rights, we’re not talking about law-abiding citizens who have legal permits to carry or legally own firearms. We’re going after the straw purchasers and illegal gun traffickers. We’re going after some people and groups who are so violent that we may need to go federal.”
Every Philadelphian already knows that the best place to celebrate America’s birthday is right here, in America’s birthplace. The annual Wawa Welcome America! Festival comes back next month with 10 patriotic days of family-friendly and free activities through Independence Day. This week-long, only-in-Philadelphia party kicks off on June 24 and culminates July 4 with a parade through Historic Philadelphia and a mega concert with Grammy Award-winning artists, complete with fireworks, at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This year’s musical director for the festival is Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, the headline drummer of Philly’s own neo-soul super group, The Roots.
Mayor Michael Nutter recently annouced this year’s Philly Fourth of July Jam will be literally “star”-spangled with some of the brightest and boldest talent on the national music scene descending on Philadelphia to offer an unparalleled entertainment experience.
“In Philadelphia, we save the best for last — an our festival grand finale is ‘The Largest Free Concert in America,’ the Philly 4th of July Jam,” said Nutter. “This year, we’ll welcome back Philadelphia’s own The Roots, to take the stage as the official house band for the Philly 4th of July Jam. They will be joined by an impressive array of some of the brightest and boldest musicians in the country, including Queen Latifah, Daryl Hall, Common, Joe Jonas and other special guests. The concert will end with a bang — literally — as fireworks illuminate the sky over one of the world’s architectural gems, the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”
Wawa Welcome America! — the nation’s largest, free 4th of July festival — runs from June 25 to July 4, 2012. For more information, go to welcomeamerica.com or call (215) 683-2200.
Philadelphia, like most major cities in America, has become littered with teddy bear and candlelight shrines marking the violent deaths of young Black men and women.
Murder, particularly by gun violence, has become so prevalent and so pervasive among young Black males that it is the number one cause of death for those between the ages of 17 to 25. The well-documented statistics and the numerous causes of the violence are the subject of a three-day national conference being held in Philadelphia.
Call to Action: National Conference on Black on Black Violence as a Social Epidemic and Deployment of Workable Solutions, is being held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Presented by the Father’s Day Rally Committee, community and political leaders, criminal justice officials and members of the faith-based community are meeting to discuss strategies for reducing the number of homicides by 25 percent. Participants will look at evidence-based information on effective crime prevention programs, i.e., best practices, with the goal of replicating successful programs in their own communities.
“In today’s session we’re sharing programs and their success across the country,” Bilal Qayyum said. “We’re examining best practices to determine if a program in Philadelphia can work in Baltimore, or if something in Washington, DC can work here, or New Orleans. Now some people are asking what’s different between what’s happening here over the next three days as opposed to other conferences or meetings about this issue. First, national movements, which we’re trying to create today, have successes and failures - but you don’t stop moving. You keep pushing. For those naysayers out there, watch us as we keep moving. During the civil rights movement there were failures and successes, but at the end of the day, we got voting rights, we can go to any restaurant we want. In a year or two, if the homicide rate is down because of what we’re doing, we’ll know if we’re successful.”
Another expected outcome of the conference is the creation of a national network of groups and individuals who are already working to end the sub-culture of violence.
Needless to say, the task is a daunting one. It becomes even more so in an era of shrinking government budgets and dwindling available resources for alternatives to continuous incarceration rather than education and rehabilitation of the at-risk population.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between the thirty-five year period of 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims in the United States. Almost all of those murder victims were killed by other African Americans.
To place the national murder statistic of 279,384 Black murder victims in another light, a study conducted by the Tuskegee Institute showed that between 1882 and 1968, 3,446 blacks were lynched by racist whites. Numbers provided by the Veterans Hour, an on-line newspaper for veterans, showed there were 3,075 Black soldiers killed during the Korean War and 7,243 killed during the Vietnam War. Taking those figures in totality there were 13,764 Blacks lynched because of racism or killed in official U.S. military actions.
“If 200 whales beached themselves at Atlantic City, every scientist in the area would be there trying to figure out why. Every year, at least that many young African American males are killed at the hands of other young African American males in our major cities. But there are no sociologists or anthropologists lining up to figure out why,” said City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. “It’s a sad statistic that at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan at its height, more people in Philadelphia have been killed than lynched by the Klan. That’s a sad commentary for our city and our nation. We have to figure out how to turn the tide on this. I’ve been in rooms where architects have said, if a young Black male doesn’t read up to proficiency by the fourth grade, they know how many jail cells to build by the time they’re 18. The solution to the problem is in the problem. If there’s a correlation between literacy and crime then let’s educate, let’s teach kids to read. It costs far less to educate than incarcerate. We’re not going to arrest our way out of this problem.”
According to law enforcement experts, Philadelphia’s homicide rate remains among the worst of the top ten cities across the nation. After a 20 percent decline in homicide over the last three years, the numbers are starting to climb again, challenging law enforcement officials, community leaders and legislators to devise effective means of curtailing the violence, much less end it . The numbers illustrate the glaring and frightening reality that a young Black man is safer fighting in Iraq than he is walking around the streets of Philadelphia’s Black neighborhoods.
“This problem is painful for me — not as mayor — but as a resident of this city; to see the damage to families and communities,” said Mayor Michael Nutter. “On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists killed 2,977 people. Last year in 13 cities there were 3,005 murders. Because of the terrorist attacks the federal government created the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. The government secures billions of dollars for these agencies in funding and equipment and training. I want to see a comparable response to the violence in our cities. I want people in our cities to be able to walk down the streets without being afraid.”
It’s about time that area caregivers received some giveback of their own. And the Terri Lynne Lokoff Child Care Foundation will do the honors during the National Child Care Teacher Awards ceremony, to be held on Thursday, April 19 at the Please Touch Museum.
District Attorney Seth Williams and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey will join Mayor Michael Nutter in making comments during the presentation, which will award 52 caregivers from across the country.
“Child care teachers, particularly those honored as our national award winners, are professionals. Their curriculum-based lesson plans are designed to further children’s natural creativity and stimulate curiosity to explore,” said TLLCCF Executive Director Allan Miller. “Teachers play a vital role in the development of the children. They introduce children to reading and writing, expanded vocabulary, creative arts, science and social studies.
“They use games, music, artwork, films, books, computers and other tools to teach concepts and skills.”
The award is designed to enhance current projects or assist caretakers in creating new ones, and 2012 marks the 18th year that TLLCCF has offered such awards; the non-profit organization teamed with McNeil Consumer Healthcare — the makers of Children’s Tylenol — for this year’s presentation. In all, TLLCCF has presented more than 685 awards valued at more than $650,000 to deserving caretakers, teachers and providers.
Providers such as two-time award winner Serena Spearman, who runs a home child care establishment from her West Philadelphia row home. Spearman is one of the eight local caregivers to receive the award; Spearman first won the award in 2006.
“My project will help the children and their families experience more hands-on reading skills. The literacy project will help the children learn to read by building their phonological skills through reciting stories, shared reading, family reading time and a variety of reading exploration materials,” said Spearman, a career caregiver with more than three decades of experience, noting that the proceeds from the award will assist families to encourage reading at home. “Infants will be able to have their library full of board books … measuring the quality of my language and literacy environment will represent an initial but important first step in strengthening and reinforcing pre-reading skills, particularly those who come from a family childcare environment.”
TLLCCF’s director echoed many of Spearman’s ideas. For him, assisting Spearman and others like her in educating the today’s youth is paramount.
“Preschool children learn mainly through investigation and play. Early care and education teachers capitalize on children’s play to further language and vocabulary development, improve social skills, introduce scientific and mathematical concepts, learn self-help skills and physical independence through play and social interaction,” Miller said. “When teachers have done their jobs well, they will have instilled a life-long love of learning in their young charges.”
Credit Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for using a word during his Democratic National Convention speech last week that President Barack Obama seemingly has purged from his public vocabulary: poverty.
Nutter, just four full sentences into his DNC speech delivered the same night that President Obama spoke, used that “P” word that has practically disappeared from public political discourse among America’s elected leaders and leading media pundits.
Poverty grew by 27 percent increase across America from 2006-2010 according to an Indiana University study released earlier this year.
Poverty in America is “remarkably widespread” that study concluded.
Over fifty-million Americans are living in poverty the IU study stated.
That crushing condition guts over one-third of Philadelphia’s residents daily… the highest among American large cities.
And little surprise, that IU study noted that the largest increases in poverty afflicted Hispanics, African-Americans, children and households headed by women.
America’s child poverty ranks second-highest among 35 developed nations. (A three-person household with $17,900 annual income lives in poverty according to the federal government.)
It’s outrageously ironic that while poverty soars across America critically wounded by the wealth-greed enflamed Great Recession, anti-poverty discourse disappears from policy initiatives advanced by Democratic and Republican leaders.
Conservatives, especially Republicans, have long pushed the falsehood that America’s impoverished are solely responsible for their impoverishment.
That falsehood fudges foundational facts fanning impoverishment like what Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders castigates as America’s “grotesquely unfair distribution of wealth” — were the top 1 percent controls 41 percent of all wealth compared to the bottom 60 percent controlling just 2 percent of America’s wealth.
Irrespective of conflicted understandings about poverty’s root causes, at least one observable certainty exists about those tens of millions of Americans living in poverty or living near falling into poverty.
Not one among the tens-of-millions of impoverished were among the scores of millionaires/billionaires that recently paid a $1-million apiece for a private audience in Tampa Bay with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney aboard the ritzy 150’ yacht “Cracker Bay” that flew the flag of the Cayman Islands where the wealthy often off-shore income to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
Mayor Nutter referenced the word poverty when extolling the necessity of all people acquiring solid educations. Nutter scored Republicans for slashing educational funding from kindergarten to college.
Nutter stated that education was essential for achieving his goals in Philadelphia that included reducing poverty.
“In Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “Our public safety, poverty reduction, health and economic development all start with education.”
Obama’s rare referencing of poverty, either from political reticence or refusal, has sparked criticism from within his political constituency.
“This year, both Governor Romney and President Obama at least mentioned the ‘P’ word in their convention speeches, but neither pledged to make the alleviation of poverty in America a priority,” Obama critic Tavis Smiley wrote recently.
It speaks volumes that self-applauded businessman Romney doesn’t practice what he preaches about the virtues of private enterprise generating paycheck producing jobs that keep people from falling into unemployment induced poverty.
Very few Black businesses around Tampa Bay, Fla., received any revenue from the millions of dollars expended on and generated by the RNC that recently anointed Romney.
The presidents of the Tampa Bay Black Chamber of Commerce and the Sun Coast African American Chamber of Commerce both said economic exclusion ruled at Tampa’s RNC.
“There was not big tent of inclusion,” said Tampa Bay Black Chamber head Willis Bowick. “The RNC had no real outreach to Black businesses here.”
Before dismissing this Tampa Bay Black business criticism of GOP exclusion as partisan soar-grapes recognize that Bowick is the president of the African-American Republican Club of Hillsborough County that includes Tampa Bay.
Shortly before the Tampa Bay RNC, a leading Republican activist in that city, Joseph Robinson, resigned from the GOP citing frustrations with the GOP’s persistent lack of response to issues important to African Americans including the lack of Black business inclusion at the RNC.
Robinson, who owns an engineering consulting firm, said things for blacks worsened within the GOP during the past few years paralleling the ascendancy of Tea Party influence.
“With the GOP they do not even give us trickle-down crumbs,” Robinson said.
In contrast to the black business exclusion at Tampa’s RNC, Black business received more equitable access to economic opportunities generated at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
Dr. Renae Sanders, chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce, said “several” Black owned companies received DNC related contracts including construction firms and event planners.
That Black business inclusion during the DNC, while commendable, does not off-set the exclusion Black businesses experienced in federal contracting from Obama’s ARRA stimulus.
Between Feb. 2009 and November 2010 black businesses received a paltry 3.5 percent of stimulus contracting compared to white firms receiving 81.3 percent of stimulus-funded contracts.
While the Democrat and Republican parties again pledged to protect Israel from external violence (increasingly exacerbated by Israel’s increasingly intransigent government) neither Obama nor Romney are addressing the urban violence epidemic wrecking America, as noted in a recent article by Philadelphia Tribune reporter Larry Miller.
Miller’s article quoted attorney/activist Michael Coard observing that neither Obama nor Romney address urban violence because “Romney doesn’t give a damn and Obama is afraid to give a damn.”
Civil Rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson recently said Obama “must address poverty and violence in a different way.”
Linn Washington Jr. is a graduate of the Yale Law Fellowship Program.
Transit and city officials celebrated the $30 million rehab of two subway stations on the Broad Street Line Monday morning — holding a ribbon cutting at the Spring Garden Street station and marking similar renovations at the Girard Avenue station.
The ceremony marked the end of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s construction activities funded by federal stimulus funds — a total of 32 projects across the area over the last three years.
“These projects have created over 3,200 jobs, local jobs, in Philadelphia,” said SEPTA’s general manager, Joe Casey. “SEPTA is integral to the social and economic vitality of the city. We are proud to contribute to the transformation of the North Broad Street corridor.”
Renovations at Spring Garden and Girard were the largest two projects on SEPTA’s list. Both stations, each of which serves 10,000 passengers a day, date to the 1920s. Neither had been updated since their construction. Upgrades at the two stations generated 507 jobs, Casey said.
Among the new features: elevators, new cashiers’ booths, fare lines, turnstiles, stairs, improved lighting and reconstruction to pillars and concrete. In addition, each station was given electrical system upgrades and new fire alarm systems and fire control systems. Both also had public art installations put in place.
Elected officials hailed the improvements as a key to revitalizing the North Broad Street corridor — and the city as a whole.
“This is why our city is growing. This is why we are able to get people to jobs and to schools,” said U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. “We’re enhancing Community College. We’re enhancing the opportunities right here on North Broad.”
Mayor Michael Nutter agreed.
“This is what infrastructure renewal is all about,” he said. “It’s about jobs, about putting people to work.”
The two newly revitalized stations represented just part of a slate of projects that SEPTA has done across the city. Other big ticket projects include the redesign of Dilworth Plaza and plans to improve the Wayne Junction station. Funding for the work came from the stimulus plan, which sent $191 million to Philadelphia. According to Fattah, the state received $18 billion in federal stimulus funding.
“When people talk about the stimulus act … for the naysayers, let them come to Broad and Spring Garden,” Fattah said.