Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Occupy Philly: From the Frontlines - Part 4: Eviction

They lied.

On Sunday, November 27th at 5PM, Occupy Philly was supposed to leave Dilworth Plaza after an eviction order from the City of Philadelphia. Despite this, more than 1000 people came down to protest and defy the eviction. By 11PM, it became clear that no one was going to be removed. The move came because the City of Philadelphia for nearly two weeks said that they needed to leave so construction could begin on Dilworth Plaza.

By Tuesday, Novmber 29th, it became clear that the city lied about why Occupy Philly had to leave. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that on that same day that the Wolk Law Firm had a permit for the spot to put up a plane at Dilworth Plaza at the same time "construction" was supposed to begin. The permit was signed and approved the same week the eviction order was given!

In other words, the reason Occupy Philly was being evicted was a lie.

Last night, November 29th, Occupy Philly was evicted from Dilworth Plaza. There have been nearly 70 arrests. Reports are coming in that they will no longer be allowed to march during the day, that every single park they tried to go to was blocked by the police, and reports of the police being violent as well as some protestors. A friend of my from Occupy Philly Media, Vanessa, possibly had two toes broken by a horse.

Either a horse was spooked or made to attack a crowd of protestors as well:

There is another report that a police pulled a knife on a protestor:

A person nearly getting crushed by a horse:

And a ton of protestors facing off against the cops:

As the day goes on, the reports from the mainstream media are ignoring the fact that there was another event planned for the site despite "construction." Even after the eviction, it still isn't being reported.

Reports are coming in that Mayor Nutter wasn't in town Sunday, but was in Chicago to attend a funeral.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Philly: From the Frontlines - Part 3: The Move

Yesterday, November 18th, a vote was held at the General Assembly about a possible preemptive move from Dilworth Plaza to Thomas Paine Plaza at the Municipal Services Building. The vote to move was in response to the eviction notice that was sent from the City of Philadelphia. After hours and hours of debate, a vote was held at around 10PM.

Here are the raw details of that vote:

Proposal: To move across the street to Thomas Paine Plaza in response to the eviction notice immediately after General Assembly (GA).


1. To move to Rittenhouse Square instead
2. To postpone the move until noon the next day
3. To block traffic while doing the move.

In the end, no amendments passed and the vote to move that night was around 65 to 74. On a whole, a vast majority of people were OK with moving over there in general, but the main reason for the split in the vote was because of the time of the move; that night.

Why else did we want to move?

1. The City of Philadelphia, along with the mayor's office and various other offices, indicated that they would like to see us move and actually proposed Thomas Paine Plaza multiple times.

2. The Unions has said they supported us, but the longer we waited to move, the less likely they were to support us. During the General Assembly, it was stressed that the unions would help us in the move as well.

So what happened once we had the vote to move that night? No one helped us.

Immediately after GA, people began packing up their materials to move across the street. At the same time, there was no visual support from any of the Unions, at least none that I could see. Within minutes of people beginning to set up at Thomas Paine Plaza, reports came in to the rest of the camp that the police weren't allowing anyone to setup. Soon, there was an official order to disperse. In return, everyone at Occupy Philly, after some discussion, returned and picked up their things and moved them back across the street.

In the end, the entire affair was hectic but civil. Again, there were no arrests and save the confusion, everyone was OK. The Philadelphia Police are currently blocking anyone from moving over. All the while, Occupy Philly is trying to reach a solution on being able to move.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Philly: Eviction - Facts and Fiction

1. Occupy Philly was told to leave immediately.

MIXED: The official notice from the City of Philadelphia states the following:

"Be advised that the Permit for Demonstration on City Property issued by the City of Philadelphia effective 10/6/11 expires at the start of the Dilworth Plaza construction project. This project’s commencement is imminent. Accordingly, you should take this opportunity to vacate Dilworth Plaza and remove all of your personal belongings immediately."

At the same time, this was NOT a formal notice of eviction. The city claims its just a friendly statement.

2. Occupy Philly is getting raided tonight or tomorrow!

FALSE: The City of Philadelphia, willing to speak on the record, maDE the statement that was repeated to the General Assembly (GA) tonight that there are no plans to evict Occupy Philly within the next 48 hours. That 48 hours lasts until Friday Night around 7PM.

3. This eviction is part of a coordinated effort between mayors and the FBI.

PLAUSIBLE: Mayor Nutter, who has changed his tone since getting re-elected, stated that while he is the Vice President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said he did not work with the Mayor of Oakland and 17 other mayors to crackdown and evict the occupations across the country. At the same time, a news article stating that the FBI and Homeland Security worked with local law officials in various cities to evict them.

4. Occupy Philly will not move!

MIXED: Occupy Philly has stated time and time again that they ARE willing to move, but only once basic questions are answered, such as if they're allowed to have tents at the new spot (Thomas Paine Plaza is most likely it) and what resources will be available. Some people have said they want to stay, and the Occupation is fine with that. At the same time, that's a very small minority and does not speak for the vast majority who are OK with moving. It isn't about the location; its about the message.

5. Occupy Philly has not been working with the City of Philadelphia!

FALSE: I can't stress this one enough! The legal team has been working with the city, and a working group known as Reasonable Solutions has been talking to the city as well and trying to help fix the situation. At the same time, because there is no one person in charge, it is confusing for the City of Philadelphia to talk to the Occupation. Despite that, its safe to say that Mayor Nutter or Deputy Mayor Nagin saying no one is willing to talk to them is just a flat our LIE.

6. Occupy Philly's permit expires when construction begins!

TRUE: Despite the fact the people in Occupy Philly's General Assembly voted on the permit only if there was no end date, NO ONE who voted on it was told we would have to leave once construction began. In fact, it wasn't even brought up.

7. You guys are just looking for a confrontation!

FALSE: The vast majority of people at Occupy Philly are not looking for any sort of confrontation outside of civil debate. The idea of a "show-down" is not something the vast majority wants, and instead we would rather handle this as civilly as possible. The City of Philadelphia and the media are lying to you when they say that's Occupy Philly wants anything else.

So, lets just state what we know:

There is NO EVICTION scheduled! At best, we know nothing will happen until Friday Evening. The City of Philadelphia stated it would not try to evict or forcibly remove anyone within 48 hours of the notice.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Occupy Philly: From the Frontlines - Part 2: Why We Occupy

I've decided to start a series of short posts concerning not only my involvement in the Occupy Philadelphia movement, but also the movement itself in my opinion. This is the second in a series.

It is now 22 days into the Occupation, and everything seems different. Over the past week I barely went back to the Basecamp at Dilworth Plaza, really returning more to my own personal life than to helping out the occupation itself. The attacks in Oakland... they're just horrifying. To me, its just a harbinger of what's to come in Philly once the cops kick out the Occupation for the construction to begin on Dilworth Plaza.

On Thursday, the General Assembly in Oakland voted for a General Strike. The strike was later adopted by the entire movement. Today, Friday, I talked to a few co-workers I knew who were either following or semi-involved in the movement if they were going to participate. The reaction was split.

The general reaction from my friends is just one question: Why? Why are you doing this?

With everything I do, with all the running around and working I've done lately, its nearly impossible for me to actually explain myself to them without going into a diatribe. So I decided to take their most interesting and common questions and explain what I've seen:

1. Why are you even out there?! You guys have no message!

We're all out here for different reasons, but the general sentiment is the same; We're mad as hell that the banks got bailed out for doing a poor job while we were all left to fend for ourselves. We're mad that the income of the Top 1% rose over 270% over the last 30 years while that of the 99% percent only rose 18%. We're mad that over 50% of the people in this country only make less than $27,000 a year. We're mad that jobs are being sent overseas, that the job market stinks, that education in this country is so poor, that we can somehow pay for another war but we can't seem to get enough cash together to let everyone in this country to at least have guaranteed health care.

At this point, there is no one single message. Instead, it's a jumble of hundreds of thousands of messages, but everything I said are, in essence, the underlying points.

If you had to put it on a bumper sticker, it would simply say, "It's the Economy, Stupid."

2. It's nothing but spoiled rich kids!

If I'm a spoiled rich kid, then you're the Queen of England. At one point, I was actually on food stamps. At another I almost lost everything. Right now I work full-time. It was with hard work and persistence that I got my current job, and it wasn't because my parents put in a good word for me.

A lot of the people down there are anything but spoiled or rich. In fact, virtually everyone on the tech team I know works a full-time job and are just trying to pay their bills. Based on who I met, that's the vast majority of people. The people down there protesting aren't looking for a handout; they're looking to help the world.

3. You guys aren't getting anything done!

Actually, we are.

I was thinking about this today while reading Over the past month, there have been some MASSIVE reforms! I can't say for a fact there's an immediate cause-and-effect, but I think its safe to say that some of these could be connected:

People were protesting at Bank of America's around the country, writing them letters and closing their accounts because of their new $5 fees for using debit cards. The company refused to eliminate the fee. Chase Bank, which had considered a similar plan for $3, got rid of theirs October 28th.

One common things protestors have said they wanted was a forgiveness of Student Debt. Student debt is currently at $1 Trillion (Trillion with a T) Dollars, and for countless people its a source of pain and problems. Even with a job, most people can't make payments. The White House came up with a plan to cut some payments on October 26th.

We're marching on the streets demanding that the people who got us in this mess face justice! Criminal charges were brought up to an ex-Goldman Sachs Director for insider trading and he turned himself in on October 26th to the FBI.

We want Corporations to treat people better and be punished for their crimes! A federal ruling will make it easier to be sued for human rights violations in foreign countries on October 26th.

Want more?

They're making it easier to refinance your house.
People are closing their accounts at big banks and going to credit unions.

So, no, we may not know exactly what we want, but we are making a difference.

4. Why aren't you protesting the government?! They started this whole mess!

The problem with the economy today boils down, in my opinion, to unrestrained capitalism. Ronald Regan, during his Presidency, did everything he possibly could to being the re-regulation of not only the U.S. Stock Market, but also industry as a whole. During his term, we saw more and more businesses begin to ship jobs to Mexico. Over the last 10 years, we've seen more and more deregulation and more volatility in the market resulting in market and eventually destroying the country.

Is this partly the governments fault? Yes. Could you also make the argument that the government has been corrupted by the same companies that are hurting us and that they are, to a degree, nothing more than a middle man between us and them? Yes. So why not just go after the source?

We've tried voting out the bums, and we've tried writing and calling our politicians to actually effect change.

5. You're all a bunch of Communists and anti-Capitalists!

Not even close. I actually like Capitalism myself. Although I have some Libertarian leanings, the truth is I do believe in government regulations of business to a degree. Because of the mess this country is in now, I now believe more than ever that there is a need for them. At the same time, I don't want to see a system in place that says that my money and gain is not my own. A lot of people do believe in Capitalism, but they want restraints. Meanwhile other people would rather see Communism. That's just how it goes.

6. What, you guys just want a handout?! I WORK!

We don't want a handout, we want what's fair and what's right. We want to go back to the days of the New Deal and FDR, a return to the America we were promised at one point. Instead we were given a nation in over $14 Trillion dollars in debt and growing thanks to wars we shouldn't be fighting in the first place. We're not looking for people to give us stuff (outside of donations for the occupation), we're looking for a chance to get things better.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Philly: From the Frontlines - Part 1

Let Freedom Ring Poster - Occupy Philly

I've decided to start a series of short posts concerning not only my involvement in the Occupy Philadelphia movement, but also the movement itself in my opinion. This is the first in a hopeful series.

Ever since the Occupation started, I wanted to write about my personal experience, thoughts, and feelings about the movement. I've seen this movement go from the highlight of the entire occupation and devolve into something I'm not even sure of anymore. The same spirit that was there the first two weeks seems to have given way to something that I don't know how I feel about anymore, yet I still feel hopeful.

But lets go back to the beginning.

I was at a planning meeting for the new Art Committee and having a background in both graphic design and marketing, I felt particularly apt to tell them what the feeling was from the other 99% who did not want to join us. "I told my co-workers I was going to this, and they said the same thing; 'I support their message, but they all seem like hippies who don't know what they want.' I say we start working on an image for our part of the occupation and prove them wrong!" The reaction was less than pleased, with the general feeling being that everyone should be able to express themselves as they see fit and we go from there. I was skeptical, but at the same time I wanted to see where this would go. I spent the night making designs for protest posters to print and distribute at the protest.

The day of the start of the occupation was amazing! I had met with the rest of the art committee and had signs paid for and printed and ready to go for the first of our marches! I wore a suit and tie and had plenty of people take my photo. Only one reporter asked why I was out there, and my answer essentially came down to, "I don't think the current system of capitalism without restraint works, and it needs to be fixed!" The fact that there was no unified look, no logo for the movement yet, or even a unified message actually started to make sense. The reality was that everyone working together, that we were all the 99% fighting against the Top 1% of American's who controlled everything.


It has now been over 2 weeks into the movement. Friday I ran over to Basecamp (The new name for the Occupation at Dilworth Plaza) and was alerted soon after that there was a meeting in City Hall about Dilworth Plaza being held by Design Philadelphia. More than anything, I wanted to know when the start of construction was planned. I want to note that on the first day of the occupation the General Assembly voted to have a permit on the condition there was not end date. The fact that the city is now LYING about this is not something I'm happy about! Myself and a lot of other protestors went into the room the meeting was being held, and one of the people heavily involved with the occupation handed out sheets with questions to ask.

The Q&A was part of Design Philadelphia and no politicians were present. The only person there with any real power to control the project was the head of the Center City District himself, and even he didn't control the purse strings. He knew there were a lot of protestors from downstairs and, in my opinion, he did his best to understand their concerns before giving the presentation. The new Dilworth Plaza will cost $50 Million and $30 Million will come from the Federal Government and was slated for Transpiration. $5 Million will be spent by the city on the project. The project would also include creating a park and a water fountain/ice rink.

The occupations main grievances were that that the money should be used to help the homeless, education, and other system-wide improvements. Despite being told repeatedly where the money was coming from and why it couldn't be used on other projects, my fellow occupiers didn't seem happy. Here was a project that was going to create 500 - 600 union jobs for 2 years, and then 20 new jobs for Philly Residents, a new park, free movies, a fountain, and improved transit. In essence, a lot of what we were fighting for. Yet they weren't happy.


Earlier on Friday, that same day, we had scared the crap out of GOP House Minority Leader Eric Cantor who was supposed to speak at the University of Penn but wound up getting freaked out when he found out we were going to be there! It was a massive victory for the movement! For 2 weeks we had stayed outside of City Hall protesting, and it had begun to pay off! First the city tabled the idea of making the new curfew for teens permanent, and now this! I was proud of what they had done, although pushing for the end of DROP and demanding paid sick time be applied to ALL businesses in Philly and not just ones with government contracts would be great, but that's me.


Last night, Saturday, the word came out that a group of protestors from Occupy Philly marched to 8th and Race to Police Headquarters to protest police brutality in solidarity with those who suffered in New York and Boston. At first I was happy to hear it... and then I heard where they were; the middle of 8th Street. They sat in a circle, arms inter-locked, in the middle of 8th Street. The police came out and simply blocked off part of the street to traffic so that they could protest.

To me, the action made no sense.

First, its an awesome reason to protest. The actions in New York and Boston are sickening, and showing solidarity with them makes sense. At the same time, why would you sit in the middle of the street? Not only that, but on the side with less traffic and on the side of the building? Why not on the sidewalk of the police station itself? Why not on the steps of the Roundhouse itself and around the statue of the officer?

The entire thing reeked of the protestors simply trying to get arrested for their cause, and not in a smart way. The group also was not truly part of Occupy Philly. Their demands came down mostly to asking them to do things that were outside their control, and renouncing them as puppets of the 1%, despite the fact we consider them part of us, the 99%. Occupy Philly works on consensus, and something like this would need to be approved by the General Assembly (GA). During the first week someone tried to get people to occupy a Bank of America branch and no one joined him largely because it wasn't agreed and discussed with the GA. Nevertheless, Occupy Philly still gave them support during the night, most likely in solidarity. The Occupation itself is distancing itself from them.

After over 12 hours of sitting in the street, the police put a stop to it. Fifteen people were arrested and charged with the minor crime of obstructing a highway. It is being dubbed the first arrests of the occupation.


On a whole, the occupation is GREAT! I know I'm not painting it in the best light right now. Sadly, that's where it is right now. Tomorrow is a new day and I'll be back on the front lines when possible to witness what's going on and try to help. There is still a lot of hope and optimism in the people not only at Basecamp but also with everyone volunteering when they can.

Please know that what I write, I write out of love for this movement! I write because I see hope and promise in this, and know it can and will be great!

A week ago we were the model for the nation, now we're no longer talking about jobs, the economy, the lack of accountability on Wall Street, the bank bailout, or anything related to the rest of the Occupy movement. We once again need to go back to our core messages! We need to not think of the police as our enemy but as a group that does want to work with us! We need to realize that this is about jobs! This is about making things better! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

From the Past Comes the Storm

"I need a wet/dry vac. Now."

The only thing I could think of when I woke up Friday was that. Hurricane Irene was coming, and the predictions in terms of rain was astounding; Between 5 and 10 inches of rain, resulting in the worst hurricane since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. I still remember that one and how badly my basement flooded. Despite repairs and the fact that after some repairs and not getting a drain or sump-pump put in (I still don't remember why), I was assured flooding wouldn't happen again. I knew better. There were issues outside that I needed to take care of, and even still there was a strong chance things would get bad.

The news didn't help. CNN, MSNBC, Fox29, NBC10... everyone was saying this was going to be bad. Toss in mandatory evacuations in New York City and a State of Emergency being declared in Philly, I knew this was serious.

Sadly, not everyone I knew felt the same. A lot of them laughed it off, saying it was being blown out of proportion. Most of these people were transplants, people who weren't here in '99, some of them moving here from the South. A lot of them also rented. When you own your own home you priorities change and the idea of having a hurricane party becomes a luxury you only wish you could have. Instead, I had to stay home.

I needed a wet/dry vac to help with everything, so I ran out to Home Depot around 10AM and luckily picked up a small one. I also got some plastic sheeting, really just in case. The hope was that I wouldn't need either.

Lets just go straight to Saturday night. Around 10PM was when the heavy rains came, and within minutes a giant puddle in my basement started to get larger, and fast! I ran upstairs and got my wet/dry vac and started my work. After a while, I couldn't take it anymore. The water just kept coming in and it didn't seem like there was any way to stop it. I started moving things upstairs.

There was as worst-case scenario: The water pouring in and the power going out. No way to get rid of the water, and no way to save everything. I had essentially prayed that didn't happen.

Around 11PM, I ran outside and unclogged a drain by hand as fast as possible. Around midnight the rain came to enough of a lull where I could try and tackle another flood-prone spot outside. I opened up the plastic sheeting and covered the spot I thought the rain was coming in outside. Around 1AM the rains began again, after finally taking a break and talking to people on Facebook. During the next 5 hours, I spoke to people on Facebook on and off, helping to keep me sane while working to save my place.

I found out a friend of mine in the Northeast was stuck with a flooding basement. Writing back to each other helped us both, and we decided that we were "Riders of the Storm!

Around 5AM, I needed to get out out of the house. I put on my red poncho one more time, threw on some Slayer, and went for a short walk around the block.

By 6AM, things were fine. There didn't seem to be any new, or at least much, flooding thanks to the tarp outside. After being up for 24 hours and working for 8 hours straight, I was exhausted and finally got some sleep.

For some people waking up Sunday morning, they feel Hurricane Irene was nothing more than hype. For others in this area, it was a nightmare. For others still, the real horror was waking up and finding their basements flooded, or that their power was out, or countless other horror stories.

Was this storm over-hyped? I don't think so. Considering how bad it almost was, I think it was a fair reaction on behalf of all involved. I'd rather be over-prepared for something than under-prepared.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


If you're like me, you're sick and tired of the people in the U.S. Senate and House playing games with our economy, the full faith in the United States in order to pay our debts! You're sick of them toying with the idea that on Tuesday we won't even have money going out for Social Security and other government-funded programs!

The economy is suffering, and they're fine with letting it die!


The idea is simple: Since the people in Washington, D.C. can't seem to get their act together and solve this fiscal crisis, we need to have some massive public show that we're not going to take this laying down! We've already called our Congressmen and Senators, and now we need to take to the streets and protest!

At 12PM EST, leave work, go to your local meeting space (City Hall, Park... wherever there normally are large gatherings of people and protests) and PROTEST! Make signs! Call your local media if you have enough people interested!

If these idiots want to risk us having to pay higher mortgages, higher interest rates, higher credit card bills, student loans, and more, all while the price of everything possibly goes up because no one wants the U.S. Dollar anymore, THEN WE WON'T WORK!

Don't have a job? Then just go out and protest anyway! What else are you going to do? These guys haven't done much about the 9.2% unemployment in this country, anyway!



Twitter: #strikeaugust1st

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As opposed to last year, I've been fairly silent about my opposition to the Sugary Drink Tax or "Soda Tax" proposed my Nutter. Among friends and various online conversations, I've been the complete obvious, with my tirades going on for no less than 5 minutes at any given time going through the laundry list of reasons of just why this tax proposal is, in a word, stupid.

Once again, various writers are praising the proposal, especially since the idea is to fund schools with the revenue.

At the same time, these people don't seem to understand just why this tax isn't going to help squat.

This Tax ISN'T About Your Health!

I pointed this out more times than I can remember last year, but lets get this taken care of: The City of Philadelphia doesn't care about your health in relation to soda. None. Nada. Zip. Soda, in and of itself, isn't that bad for you. The reason it can cause problems is if you drink too much of it. In fact, even if you take that out of the equation, the main problem with soda today compared to 20 years ago is high-fructose corn syrup. That stuff? No, it isn't that good for you. If the soda companies went back to sugar (and with some sodas, that is the case), it wouldn't be that much of an issue.

The said, this still isn't about your health! Why? Because this tax would affect EVERYTHING with sugar in it. That means Vitamin Water, Gatorade... even Apple and Orange Juice would be taxed! APPLE JUICE! You're saying that Apple Juice is just as bad for you as soda? Really? Did I miss a memo or something?

This Tax isn't on You, the Consumer!

Another thing is, while I may hate this tax with a passion, it isn't on me. No, not at all. Instead, it taxes the STORE that sells it! I talked to a few people about that fact, and the general reaction was, "Wouldn't the stores just pass that onto the consumers?" No, I doubt they would. Soda for a lot of stores is one of their main sellers, and the cost of everything else in the store itself could go up! Certain items could get marked-up to help off-set the cost because no one wants to raise the cost of it on the consumer and lose more money.

Where does it End?!

You currently have places banning Chocolate Milk in schools, banning Happy Meal toys, and  essentially denying you personal responsibility! I'm sick of it! I'm sick of all these idiots thinking they know what's best for me! In school, the best way for me to drink milk was chocolate milk, and dang it, I was one of the fastest kids in my school! I went to McDonald's once a week for a Kids Meal, and you know what? I was one of the healthiest kids in my class!

With the sugary drink tax, shouldn't we just be more responsible? Shouldn't parents be able to say "NO!" Shouldn't ADULTS be treated like ADULTS?

The reason al lthe Nanny State crap bothers me is that it isn't really doing much to help ANYONE! It comes off as "feel-good politics" that don't solve anything at all! "I'm glad that little Johnny can't get his Happy Meal toys, now he doesn't want to go anymore! But he still sits on the couch all day just watching TV and playing video games."

To some degree, its sickening that I'm so upset over this! Someone once said people should be this mad about our property taxes going up, and I told them, "YES! We should! Our roads and bridges are great and the tax increase will keep them that way!" With this, its just the start. It's 2cents an ounce now (which is insanely high to begin with!), and then its just going to go up!

What happens when the city needs more cash? It can't raise the sales tax, it can't keep raising property taxes. Heaven forbid they raise the City Wage Tax 1% next year, raising it to $1 per $20k! No! Instead, they'll raise the soda tax another penny! "Crap, we need more money! We miss-managed funds and over-paid people on our pension program, and damn it, we still want DROP so we can retire for a day! RAISE THE SODA TAX!"

Soon they'll go for someone else in the name of "health"! Soon we'll have a cheese stake tax, a Tastykake tax, a fast food tax!

Meanwhile, they don't tax bottled water which hurts the environment, it's BAD FOR YOU, and it means less water fountains! They don't stop the cyclist rampaging through traffic who runs red lights or on the sidewalk (which is a $10 Ticket-able offense!) They don't propose ways of making the city feasibly BETTER with a tax!

Wait, no, they did. Someone said bars should be open later (until 3AM) and use the extra hour to fund schools. That could work. I'm still in favor of raising the fine for riding on the sidewalk!

This Tax Doesn't Solve ANYTHING!

Here's something I didn't consider last time, but I think it needs to be realized: The soda tax isn't entirely bad. Its not. I may hate it, I may despise it, and really, I think its just trying to get another buck out of the poor. Then again, there's a reason for that last part.

Most people who support this don't drink soda, juice, or anything like that. Instead, they drink water. Mostly bottled water. Why? Because they live in places where there's a lot more choices on a whole. They cook well-balanced meals and drink water. They have easy access to good food and are surrounded by people who are eating healthy as well. The idea of having a soda is rare, and really counts as an occasional treat for them.

On the other side are the people who oppose the tax and don't have access to healthy foods.

Go ahead. Ask around your office. Ask people on the street. You'll see what I mean. People with access to healthy food choices drink water, while people who live in poor sections have no real alternative but soda and juice and aren't being told anything else.

As much as this is an issue about choice, about personal responsibility... its also about culture and education.

In a large majority of our public schools, there is no real food education. There is no concept that what you put into your body really impacts you. At the same time, even if you do crave decent fruits and vegetables, where will you go? For me, it isn't easy. There are some supermarkets around me (3 really good ones, thankfully!), but they require a lot of planning to go and take about 30 minutes to get to by foot, bus, or even the train. There are a lot of people in the same situation. The corner store? The healthiest thing there are week-old vegetables.

A lot of people live in these "food deserts", and more needs to be done about it. Not only that, but we need to do more to educate children and teenagers in school about healthy eating and providing better and healthier school lunches that they'll eat! It can be done cheaply, and it'll start teaching kids to eat better so that soda doesn't look as good.

If you support the tax, that's fine. I hate the fact that people who oppose it, much like myself, are constantly lumped into the same pile of people who work for the soda industry and we seemingly have no mind of our own. I've drunk soda for years, and right now I'm trying to go more towards juice and water. The main issue? Price.

If you support the tax, realize that if you do support it for the health of the city that it isn't that simple. You need to start writing people in City Council to start looking for a way to fund more supermarkets and healthy eating courses. You know what? If Nutter used the tax money for that... I wouldn't mind. Much. I'd still complain, but hey, at least its going to something decent.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bomb Scare at Market East Station

This is the bag that caused a bomb scare at Market East Station.

Around 6:45PM, someone alerted SEPTA and police of a suspicious package on the platform of Market East Station. The station was soon evacuated, the police and fire department arriving on the scene to make sure everything was ok. I arrive around 7:40PM to see all the cars and fire trucks, but didn't know what was going on. I went through the entrance  on 11th Street to catch my train that was going to leave in about 5 minutes, and was a little shocked the door was open.

I went down the stairs and was greeted by a completely empty train station. For being nearly 8 at night, it was incredibly eerie to witness. I saw an officer coming my way and asked him if everything was ok. "You just get down here?" "Yeah." "Yeah, its ok. You're fine."

Down on the platform were 2 trains that were simply sitting there, as well as a conductor and two random SEPTA workers. I asked what happened, and they had as little idea as me. Behind me were a few people who arrived on the platform as well. I heard the story second-hand; there was a bomb scare at the station, and the bag that caused it... was right behind me!

Obviously, there was no bomb, just luggage.

In the end, it really is amazing that this was called in, but I'm both thankful and annoyed. Annoyed, obviously, because just like every single time SEPTA and the police are called about a suspicious package is nothing more than... well, luggage. At the same time, considering that there was a call for attacks on trains, not to mention this is a major city during a major holiday weekend, its good to know that people are still being diligent.

Ride the Ducks Boat Crash on South Street

I was walking with my friend down South Street when we were greeted by a Ride the Ducks boat making a left turn on 6th Street. In the 5+ years I've had my mohawk, there's been plenty of people who like to point to it and either praise or dismiss it, and the entire time I saw the boat, all I could think of was "Please don't say it, please don't say it, please don't -"

"HEY, EVERYONE! Check out the Mohawk!"


So I waved back, smiled, and started to cross. That's when I heard a "whack!".

The duck boat hit a cab.

The "crash" was little more than a fender-bender, really. No one was hurt, the cab looked fine from where I was, and that was about it. That doesn't mean me and my friend didn't enjoy the insta-karma we witnessed and the fact we had to comment on what was another Ride the Ducks incident. That's when I realized I had a camera with me.

So remember, folks: If you're going to annoy someone... just be careful.