When Saba Tedla, the owner of several popular Philadelphia eateries, let some of her longtime kitchen staff go last year, she didn’t have any choice. Under the city’s vaccine mandate, employees who declined the COVID-19 shot were barred from working indoors at a restaurant. Similar stories can be found across the city. Facing a unique threat to public health, government officials believed the policy would make the city safer.
With the benefit of hindsight and data, we now know otherwise. A new study conducted by one author of this op-ed found no evidence that Philadelphia’s vaccine mandate led more people to get vaccinated or lessened the pandemic’s impact.
At the time, city officials insisted indoor vaccine mandates would save lives. “This winter looks like it could be very difficult,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole in December 2021, when the mandate was announced. “We have to do something to slow the spread now before it’s too late.” Health experts were right to be worried. The Omicron wave was tearing through the U.S., killing many Philadelphians.
Sadly, good intentions are not enough to produce positive outcomes.
The analysis compared the effects of vaccine mandates in nine major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, with data taken during the pandemic in hundreds of other cities. Whether it was vaccination rates, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19 deaths, we found no statistically detectable effect of the vaccine mandate.
To be clear, the research doesn’t suggest that COVID-19 vaccination is ineffective or unsafe – merely that vaccination mandates did not meet their goals.
The results surprised us, especially since vaccine mandates in Canadian provinces and some European countries have been linked to increased vaccination rates. Why weren’t similar policies effective here? We can think of a few possibilities.
The first is simply common sense. Unvaccinated individuals could enjoy indoor activities simply by traveling beyond the city limits. That is consistent with findings that in larger geographic jurisdictions, compliance with such mandates tended to be higher.
Second, vaccine mandates, paradoxically, may have exacerbated opposition to getting the shot. As recent research has pointed out, “insights from behavioral psychology suggest that these policies are likely to entrench distrust and provoke reactance – a motivation to counter an unreasonable threat to one’s freedom.”
Whether vaccine mandates were unreasonable threats to freedom is, of course, debatable. But it is an inescapable fact that much of the population regarded the mandates as impinging on their rights. In the end, for every Philadelphian who was coaxed into getting vaccinated by the mandate, we estimate that someone else was deterred from doing so.
Third, vaccination mandates may have triggered the “Peltzman effect,” the tendency to make riskier decisions when safety measures are implemented. In this case, the mandates may have fostered a harmful sense of complacency among vaccinated patrons of indoor venues. Thinking that requiring vaccinations eliminated infection risk, some people may have let their guard down in other ways – by visiting more crowded spaces, perhaps, or taking fewer precautions to mask and socially distance.
Our findings add to a long list of COVID-19 policy blunders and missteps – from depriving nursing home residents of relatively safe contact with loved ones to enforcing lengthy school closures in low-risk areas. Public officials were in a difficult position, but too often, they enacted draconian measures based on weak evidence.
Indoor vaccine mandates were among the most restrictive policies ever adopted in the United States. It was easy–perhaps too easy– to believe that the benefits outweighed the costs. But in this case, they didn’t.
If you’re looking for truth in accounting, don’t come to Philadelphia.
That’s the finding of a government watchdog group that rates American cities on their honesty and transparency in public accounting. They examined the accounting practices of 75 major municipalities and rated the City of Brotherly Love number 70.
“What we find is they take their books and they hide the true cost of government by not putting all their compensation costs in their budgets,” Sheila Weinberg, CPA and TIA founder, told Delaware Valley Journal. And these cities “could struggle to maintain current levels of government services and benefits,” TIA said.
Philadelphia’s financial problems “stem mostly from unfunded retirement obligations that have accumulated over the years.”
TIA assigned a grade of A to F for each city, based on the average taxpayer obligation. A or B means each taxpayer has a surplus of between $1 to $10,000 or more. C to F means there is an average taxpayer burden. Boston was given a D; Philadelphia an F.
“Philadelphia’s elected officials have repeatedly made financial decisions that left the city with a debt burden of $11.9 billion. That burden came to $21,800 for every city taxpayer,” the report said.
“The most common accounting trick cities use is to hide employee benefits such as health care, life insurance and pensions, from the current budgeting process by not acknowledging they exist.
“Cities become obligated to pay for these benefits as employees earn them. Although these retirement benefits will not be paid until the employees retire, they still represent current compensation costs because they were earned and incurred throughout the employees’ tenure,” TIA reports.
The study examined the cities’ spending practices and unreported liabilities. Fifty municipalities didn’t have enough money to pay all bills at the end of the last fiscal year even though they presented themselves as having balanced budgets.
“To balance their budgets, elected officials did not include the full/entire cost of the government in their budget calculations and pushed costs onto future taxpayers” according to the report.
Philadelphia city officials declined to respond to requests for comment. Rebecca Rhynhart, the former city controller now running for mayor, also did not respond to requests for comment.
Cities, unlike the federal government, must balance budgets, yet many don’t, the study said. It cited accounting gimmicks: Inflating revenue assumptions. Counting borrowed money as income. Delaying payment of current bills until the start of the next fiscal year.
Weinberg contends most cities only pay debts on a “pay as you go basis.” The near-term problem, she adds, is sometimes disguised by bull markets as well as recent federal government COVID payments. She cautioned that a bull market can make a city’s bottom line seem healthy but “in a bear market it will be in a lot of trouble.” Cities, she adds, should lower investment return expectations.
Philadelphia’s money woes eased in 2021 when the stock market was up some 29 percent, but TIA warns long term problems persist.
“Even with inflated pension asset values, the city had set aside only 63 cents for every dollar of promised pension benefits and 12 cents for every dollar of promised retiree health care benefits,” the report said.
Philadelphia could potentially face the same problem as New York City, when the Big Apple skirted bankruptcy in the 1970s, according to Weinberg.
Time Magazine wrote on August 11, 1975, “in the time-honored fashion of New York politicians, Beame (Abe Beame was the mayor of New York City) had put off dealing with the crisis in the vain hope that it would somehow go away.”
William Simon, a former Treasury Secretary in the book “A Time for Truth,” wrote, “New York was spending in excess of three times more per capita than any other city with a population of more than one million.”
While Philadelphia is bad, New York is worse. Today, New York City taxpayers are facing the biggest bill of any major U.S. city.
“New York City had a taxpayer burden of $56,900, earning it an F grade from Truth in Accounting.”
I’ve known Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh for about 20 years, and over that time, I’ve attended 100-plus events where he has been in attendance. He has been a guest on my show on many issues and is known as a voice of sanity in the middle of the day-to-day insanity that grips Philadelphia. Can this problem solver actually become the next mayor of Philadelphia?
Oh joined me in the studio this week after announcing he is running for mayor. We discussed the fact that the last Republican who served as mayor in Philadelphia was a child when Billy the Kid was alive. The last viable Republican candidate for mayor was Sam Katz, who ran against John Street in 2003. And since 2003, Philadelphia has become a lot more radicalized.
Oh said that the increasingly progressive nature of city leaders is why he believes he can win. Oh has a tremendous following among immigrant groups from Asia, West Africa, Ukraine, and others. He told me that in addition to the concerns these residents have about public safety, they often question why Philadelphia doesn’t enforce all kinds of laws while, at the same time, city officials overregulate shop owners and other law-abiding citizens.
Oh believes that this coalition of people numbers around 50,000. And, added to others who want a return to sanity, he could defeat a Democrat nominee like radical former City Councilwoman Helen Gym.
I think it’s still a long shot but I’m intrigued by much of what Oh told me. For example, when discussing public safety, Oh said that he would replace police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw with someone who formerly was or currently is a Philadelphia cop. This would go a long way toward restoring department morale and pushing back against the idea that the Philadelphia Police Department is a corrupt and brutal organization.
We also talked about why Kensington has been allowed to become a nationally and internationally known dumping ground that Mexico featured in public service ads to warn their citizens about illegal drugs. Oh responded that Kensington reflects the progressive mentality of arrogantly and irrationally declaring that addicts have the right to violate laws to feed their habits. He would make arresting drug dealers a top priority and use drones to identify these dealers.
I was impressed by the fact that Oh, an honored veteran, would appeal directly to tens of thousands of military veterans living in Philadelphia, many of them disabled. We discussed that few, if any, political leaders in Philadelphia are veterans.
Oh believes a massive mail-in ballot campaign will be part of his winning strategy. Given the facts on the ground, it’s good to see Republicans embracing and executing good mail-in ballot operations.
Oh discussed SEPTA, arguably the worst public entity in our area. He told me that as mayor, he would challenge that transport agency’s funding and demand a litany of reforms. He said much the same thing about the equally troubled Philadelphia public schools.
David Oh is a very thorough and detailed-oriented person with his own base of support. If Gym is the Democratic nominee, he will present a clear choice of sanity versus increased misery for Philadelphia. If another Democrat is the nominee, Oh still would be a viable choice.
Is it possible that Philadelphia could actually return to reason?
Late last year, the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held a hearing in Philadelphia about the city’s critical role in boosting liquified natural gas exports – and the positive geopolitical and climate impacts that come along with it.
Nobody knew, however, because no reporters in the region bothered to show up. Aside from a few costumed protestors who would clearly favor Russian domination over the global energy market and the continued pollution and warmongering their LNG offers, no one came to hear what labor unions, gas companies and European business and climate experts had to say.
This is strange considering the overwhelming support for aiding Ukraine and stopping Russia’s totalitarian advances. It’s even more unusual considering the overwhelming scientific evidence illustrating a direct correlation between LNG and lowered greenhouse gas emissions worldwide over the next decade.
But that’s okay. I’ll tell you what they had to say. EQT, the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, told the committee they are just 26 months away from net zero status. This is critical since the energy crisis – looming over us for years, but exacerbated by inflation, the invasion of Ukraine and the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipeline – will reverse, at an unprecedented level, two decades of emissions decline.
You see, the United States doesn’t exist in a vacuum and so, every investment in wind and solar energy we’ve made since 2007 proves insufficient to offset even one year of fossil fuel emissions from the rest of the world. Boosting American LNG exports – of which a Philadelphia port makes entirely possible – has the potential to reduce these harmful emissions at a rate equivalent to electrifying every car in the country, installing solar on every home and doubling our wind capacity, combined.
We’ve seen it firsthand stateside. From 2005 to 2019, 61 percent of our emissions reduction came from our cleaner, more efficient production of natural gas. Our gas transition reduced more pollution than the other top five countries combined. It’s simple to extrapolate from there.
Pennsylvania produces roughly 22 percent of all domestic natural gas production and could replace nearly three-quarters of Russian gas currently imported into Europe. China, as it makes its own gas transition in the coming decade, would likewise turn to us for LNG, further immobilizing Russia’s war machine and any further turmoil President Vladimir Putin may cause.
That’s what central and eastern Europe need most, Ivo Konstanitov told us. He’s the U.S. Office Director for the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria and knows firsthand the devastation of weaponized LNG. He advocated for America – particularly Pennsylvania and nearby states – to extend necessary infrastructure to share its plentiful natural gas supply with Europe.
This aid alone, he said, would better protect Ukraine and other vulnerable countries from tyrannical governments. Fortunately, last year, the Biden administration said it will send an additional 15 billion cubic tons of LNG to Europe to see it through at least the end of 2022, staving off the worst impacts of Russia turning off the proverbial tap. Unfortunately, it’s clear Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is continuing.
So is record inflation and, as Konstanitov told us, demand for energy – both domestically and globally. That’s where Pennsylvania – rich in natural gas, pipelines and the necessary workforce – comes into the picture.
President Biden is going to need help if the United States is to continue propping up the European energy market. An LNG terminal in Philadelphia would connect Pennsylvania LNG to the world, fully unleashing the potential beneath our feet and restoring energy independence to this country.
Last session, state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) authored legislation, House Bill 2458 (Act 133 of 2022), that would create a task force to study making the Port of Philadelphia an export terminal for LNG. The task force, which includes members of the General Assembly, natural gas industry, Philadelphia building trades and other leaders in the region, is expected to produce a report by November 2023.
Jim Snell, business manager for the Steamfitters Local 420, serves on the newly created task force. He told us recent international affairs have silenced some LNG opponents, many of whom once allowed their ideology to blind them to the reality that a rush to renewables creates: higher prices and weakened domestic and international security.
And although building infrastructure to meet this demand won’t be easy, Snell said, the several hundred members of Steamfitters Local 420 have the expertise and skills necessary to do the job. They already service Pennsylvania’s existing pipeline distribution system and the organization, itself, boasts nearly 120 years of experience constructing, installing and maintaining mechanical systems.
The union believes so much in the power of LNG that it offered to host our Senate hearing last year. Snell said himself there could be no more appropriate venue than it’s Philadelphia headquarters. It’s not just the steamfitters that have jobs tied to LNG expansion.
EQT estimates building out our infrastructure would create an additional 200,000 high-paying jobs across Appalachia, generating both global decarbonization and an economic boom bolstered by tens of billions in royalty payments to landowners. All of that could be achieved without costing taxpayers a single dime. So now you know what’s at stake and how solutions exist that don’t require more government spending and regulation.
Now you know that carbon neutrality and the renewable revolution can’t be reached without an LNG transition. And maybe, just maybe, the institutions responsible for sharing the bigger picture won’t get sidetracked by the narrow lens through which they view progress.
I wrote about it in another column on another website, explaining that I wasn’t hurt beyond some bruises. I also confessed that I didn’t make a police report because in a city where over 500 people were murdered last year, I didn’t think my lost credit cards and boo-boo merited attention.
I licked my wounds, called American Express, asked my bank to reissue my debit card, called the Pennsylvania Bar Association to request another attorney ID, and I got a new license. All of it was done within two days.
But after I wrote the column and it was published online at the Daily Local News of Chester County and the Delaware County Daily Times, an interesting thing started happening. Democrats and liberals, the sort of people who normally sympathize with victims and tell the world that hate has no home on their front lawns, started heckling me. They suggested that I was lying about the incident, that I was using it to try and divide people (not sure exactly how since criminals don’t check your voter registration cards), and was a MAGA queen (again, not sure what Trump has to do with my credit cards).
While I was generally bemused by the lack of compassion because it’s rare that liberals and this writer can find any common ground, there was something particularly dark and troubling about the refusal to believe I had been a victim. The same people who said “believe women” when it came to women who alleged they’d been raped and put #MeToo in their social media profiles were unwilling to extend the benefit of the doubt to a conservative columnist.
One fellow named Rich lamented that I had a column while he, who had emailed several newspapers offering his services free of charge, did not. A fellow named Brendan called me a Nazi supporter, another poster named Todd suggested I was bloodthirsty because I wanted Mumia Abu Jamal executed, while another poster named Linda said, “She made it up.”
And Nicole suggested that I was sleeping with someone for positive reinforcement. Cory claimed I lied, another poster named Lauren whined about being a “real” victim (and was outraged when I asked for the proof she asked of me), and posters like Beth, Lindsay, and Lynn were all mean girls suggesting that I was seeking attention.
To be honest, I will never meet these delightful people who populate what were once wonderful towns in Philadelphia’s surrounding counties. The fact that I can annoy them with my comments and opinions is a great tribute to the First Amendment, something they seem to have a problem understanding since they usually call for me to be fired. And like the Cheshire cat, I smile at my keyboard.
Still, it saddens me that liberals like these people are incapable of compassion for those who do not share their politics and their worldview. You might wonder how and why I know they are liberals. I can confirm that simply by the context of their comments: They do not disbelieve me because of circumstance or the improbability of the crime. They understand full well that Philadelphia is a dangerous place, particularly for petite women of a certain age who make the mistake of going out to a CVS after sundown.
Their resistance to the idea that Christine Flowers was a victim stems from their anger at her–at my–views. They do not like my politics, my way of processing the actions of this feckless administration, my refusal to agree that two impeachments were legitimate, my attachment to the dignity of unborn human life, my equal attachment to the worthlessness of murderers like Abu Jamal, my votes against Democrats even when I was still a registered Democrat, and my failure to fall in line as a good little progressive female of a certain age, class, and education.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if strangers believe that I was mugged. The bruise on my hip and the tear in my handbag are reminders of that incident, which doesn’t need to be proven to readers with a vendetta against the conservative scold. I do appreciate, though, this obvious and powerful display of the character of men and women in the Delaware Valley who say that “hate has no home, here.”
You are not alone if you are a single person in the Philadelphia area and find dating difficult. The dating landscape has changed over the last decade or so.
For those seeking long-term relationships, the quest has become more challenging than ever.
And the task is tougher in the Philadelphia area than elsewhere. The personal-finance website WalletHub ranked 182 U.S. cities as to their desirability for singles. Factors included the size and percentage of the area’s single population, the types of recreational activities available, and the actual cost of going on a date (a movie and a meal) and dating opportunities. Nearly half of U.S. adults are single, the website said. An average date costs around $90.
Considering all those factors, Philadelphia ranked a hardly inspiring 89th in terms of being a desirable locale for a single person and 109th in available dating opportunities.
In the former category, it fell well behind San Francisco (4th), Minneapolis (6th), Atlanta (10th), and even Pittsburgh (18th).
Kristi Price is a dating consultant and life coach based in Conshohocken. She started KP Matchmaking 15 years ago following a divorce to help others avoid her own dating mistakes.
Price says when she first launched her service, it was common for singles to meet each other through online dating sites. But over time, that medium has evolved, and Price noted not necessarily for the better.
“I think it’s become very transient,” she said. “Many people think there’s always something better around the corner if they’re online dating.”
Price says a significant problem with online dating is the flood of misinformation that confronts those looking for a relationship.
“Fifteen years ago, a lot of people did meet (online) and have relationships and are married,” she said. “But now, it’s such a difficult time, especially after COVID. (Online dating) is more saturated with scammers, people in relationships looking for validation, and those types of obstacles. So, it’s much harder to meet people who want a relationship.
“People are really relationship driven. Online is a tough place to meet a quality individual,” she said.
Karin Sternberg, a lecturer in the psychology department at Cornell University, said, “Online dating gives people access to a much larger pool of potential dates. It is OK to write and have video chats at first. However, I suggest people move their dates to an in-person format sooner rather than later. After all, you are most likely looking for an in-person relationship and not an online relationship. People behave differently in real life than on the screen, and when you meet someone in person, you share actual experiences, which helps you bond and get to know the other person.”
Price describes the online dating landscape as a chaotic mess.
“It’s ridiculous online,” she said. “You get ghosting, and people don’t get back to you. It’s like people have lost the value of humanity and being kind through online dating.”
“It’s about immediate gratification,” she added. “Look at photos instead of trying to get to know a person and get to know who they are.”
Price advocates doing a background check on any potential date, particularly someone you know only through online communication.
“It’s easy to do,” she said. “All you need is a first and last name, and if you know their age and location, you can pretty much figure it out.”
“You can’t just trust people for what they say online. Not only that they are single and want a relationship but also that they are not a criminal.
“So, it’s always important to get information on a (potential date) before you meet them. Even if all you have is a phone number, you can reverse search who they are, if they’re actually saying who they are. Even if I meet with a client, I do this. I do background checks on anyone I work with before I work with them. That’s the easiest way to protect yourself,” she said.
Price admits finding a compatible partner is challenging.
“It’s difficult to meet people who are looking for relationships and are quality individuals, professionals,” she said. “People who are in the same stage of life, looking for mutual relationship goals, and that type of thing.
“They claim they want relationships. They’re out and about and going to bars, which is totally fine, but they’re not really emotionally available. You see that across the country, but I see that a lot in Philadelphia.”
On November 20, 2022, FOX 29’s Steve Keeley reported that there were four homicides in just the last six weeks in the small Delaware County borough of Yeadon. As Keeley reported through his popular Twitter feed, that was more homicides than the entire four-plus year tenure of Yeadon Borough’s former Police Chief, Anthony “Chachi” Paparo. This is noteworthy because in February, Paparo was terminated by Yeadon’s Borough Council — an act Paparo alleges was done in order to replace him with an African American Police Chief, despite his having support from the Mayor, according to court filings in the federal discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Paparo and Lodge 27 of the Fraternal Order of Police in March.
Meanwhile, neighboring Philadelphia is facing another year of shocking violent crime. This comes three years after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney proclaimed that he would appoint an African American woman as police commissioner before a national search for the most qualified, experienced applicants was conducted. The result was the appointment of Danielle Outlaw, whose prior commands were as a Deputy Police Chief in Oakland and as Chief of the Portland Police Bureau. Oakland, which has 709 sworn members and Portland, with 795 sworn members, both saw an increase of crime during Outlaw’s tenure.
Philadelphia, with over 6,300 sworn members, is the nation’s fourth-largest police department, over nine times the size of Outlaw’s largest command. Since Kenney’s 2019 appointment of Outlaw, murders has shot up from 356 to 562 in 2021, with over 470 officially reported in 2022 so far, not counting over 103 “S-job” (suspicious deaths) which are likely to add to the official homicide tally at a later date. One must wonder if Kenney’s decision to restrict his search for commissioner within narrow gender and racial characteristics was prudent considering the life-and-death implications of the job.
In both Yeadon and Philadelphia, the harsh reality of murder rates raises questions as to the accountability of those charged with public safety – from both law enforcement executives and the elected politicians who oversee their appointment and the fair administration of justice. Traditionally, the appointment of police chiefs and commissioners was completely in the discretion of the Mayor or County Executive. As crime was always a major issue for which politicians were held accountable, these elected leaders historically ranked political optics behind track records when making appointments in this regard.
Outlaw’s last boss, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was quoted in a Philadelphia magazine piece on Outlaw saying “This position is inherently political, not in a partisan manner, but in the sense that it is under public scrutiny and maintaining public trust is done in a political environment. You have good instincts and judgment already, but learning more about political history and relationships in Portland is important to being successful in the position in the long term.” Ironically, Outlaw only served for two years as Portland’s police chief before leaving for Philadelphia. What’s more disturbing, as crime has emerged as a key issue in daily news coverage, is that there has been no public discussion of Outlaw’s effectiveness in her role, despite rising crime and scandals within her ranks.
Which brings us back to Yeadon. Last month, a federal judge denied the borough council’s motion to dismiss Paparo’s lawsuit against them. If the suit is successful, it will be one of the first to create case law on using identity politics, in this case race, to appoint and/or terminate a law enforcement executive. The suit alleges the four individual defendants decided that Yeadon is “a black town,” and that that representation should be reflected with a black chief of police.
The events leading up to Kenney’s appointment of Outlaw in 2019 present similar questions. Mere weeks after being heralded a hero in his handling of an hours-long hostage siege in where six police officers were shot, Richard Ross abruptly resigned as Philadelphia Police Commissioner. While the resignation came in the wake of a sexual harassment suit (Ross wasn’t the alleged harasser,) sources within the Philadelphia Police Department noted friction between Ross and Kenney, specifically over Ross’ unwillingness to fire officers for a social media scandal in where no specific department protocols were violated, and differences over the use of the bully pulpit regarding District Attorney Larry Krasner’s radical charging and bail policies.
As an interim appointee, Kenney tapped Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter as Police Commissioner. Coulter, a career Philadelphia police officer whose start patrolling the streets of Kensington was documented in a 1991 episode of the series “Cops”, was well regarded by the rank and file of the department. However, it was shortly in Coulter’s tenure that Kenney publicly declared his decision to hire an African American woman to lead the department, which narrowed a national field to only three clear choices – Outlaw, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, and Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall.
Shortly thereafter, Outlaw was appointed, leaving many to wonder if the choice had anything to do with both Hall and Best’s strong reputations for speaking truth to power over their elected managers, especially in response to politically based decisions over law enforcement and termination of officers.
Hopefully, the outcome of Chief Paparo’s lawsuit or simply through public scrutiny in the upcoming election year – we can help local politicians remember that public safety appointments are too vital for our society to make using identity politics.
Personally, growing up in New York through the “crack explosion,” I recall the historic appointment of Lee Brown. He was the first African American Police Chief in Houston, then became NYPD Commissioner, and then returned to Houston as their first black Mayor. There is nothing wrong with firsts, but with something as vital as assuring the public safety of a major American city – you also have to be the best.
This is why we have laws that govern race and gender discrimination in employment, because the hiring and firing of people based on race is not only hurtful for the employees in the organization – but may result in further victimization of an already at-risk community.
A. Benjamin Mannes, MA, CPP, CESP, is a Subject Matter Expert in Security & Criminal Justice Reform based on his own experiences on both sides of the criminal justice system. He has served as a federal and municipal law enforcement officer and was the former Director, Office of Investigations with the American Board of Internal Medicine. @PublicSafetySME
Whenever I think of Thanksgiving, I think back to an article I read by noted author Alex Haley. He was serving in the Coast Guard during World War II and on Thanksgiving Day it occurred to Haley that the day really was about giving thanks to those who had helped him the most. He proceeded to write the three most important people in his life, and he was amazed that in their return letters, the recipients were overjoyed.
I have used the Haley technique with several people in my life and works tremendously. However, I’ve also decided to write this open letter to the people in the Philadelphia area that I’m thankful for this year.
First, I want to thank Northeast Philadelphia state Rep. Martina White for her tireless work in protecting you and me by directing the successful impeachment process against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. Martina had to do very detailed and relentless presentations over many months to her colleagues in Harrisburg in order to overcome their reluctance to challenge Krasner. Many colleagues acknowledged Krasner’s violations, but she gave them the will to move forward. Let her know you are thankful for this.
Martina’s doggedness might only be surpassed by Steve Keeley, a reporter for Fox 29. Steve’s Twitter is a running account of what is truly going on in the Philadelphia area. He is a one-man news department who is always at the center of the action. He has been particularly good at taking us inside the stores that are leaving Philadelphia or curtailing their hours due to crime.
I’m not just grateful this year for the people helping us against the worst that is happening in our area. I’m also grateful for John Middleton, owner of the Philadelphia Phillies. Middleton’s willingness to spend a ton of money and to help pursue great players personally led to one of the greatest sports rides of our lives. I broadcasted from the first Phillies block party for fans prior to their first home game against the Atlanta Braves and it was a magical day. I expect that next season the Phillies will continue to contend for a championship, but this year’s team will not be forgotten.
New Jersey state Sen. Ed Durr, who defeated former state Sen. Steve Sweeney and made national news was a true everyman story and he is doing great work in New Jersey. He gives me great hope that New Jersey will not remain under almost complete one-party rule that has made many people flee the state’s unbelievable taxation and regulation. Ed still drives a furniture truck and I think that connects him to life in New Jersey better than any politician.
If New Jersey is dominated by one-party rule, then Philadelphia is New Jersey on steroids. When the last Republican mayor of Philadelphia was born, Billy the Kid was still alive. If you’re a Democrat like state Rep. Amen Brown of West Philadelphia, it’s easy to just go along with the party and hope to advance through the ranks. Brown has chosen to break that mold and fight for his district, speaking out about Larry Krasner and taking on quality-of-life issues. I think he has a reasonable shot of being the next mayor of Philadelphia.
These are just some of the public people for whom I’m grateful. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to write for the Delaware Valley Journal.
And of course, I’m very grateful for all my listeners at Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.
I hope you’ll take Alex Haley’s advice and drop a note to the people you are thankful for.
An organization that defends election integrity says the City of Philadelphia isn’t doing enough to protect the election system from fraud, and it has gone to court to make its case.
Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) has filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia’s city commissioners demanding that poll workers be trained to prevent duplicate votes from being counted. Every one of those ballots, the group argues, cancels a legitimate ballot cast by a law-abiding voter.
In a press release, RITE said the commissioners are “threatening to discontinue critical, commonsense, and legally required election integrity measures that safeguard against duplicate voting. According to a recent report, the justification for this shocking conduct is officials’ unjustified belief that identifying and eliminating duplicate votes somehow jeopardizes their ability to access state election administration funds. The commissioners, who were recently caught deceiving the public regarding the distribution of absentee/mail-in ballots, have ignored RITE’s repeated attempts to correct this misunderstanding of the law, threatening to conduct the 2022 election without these crucial security measures in place.”
The lawsuit asked the court to require the commissioners to conduct a basic audit of the ballots at the conclusion of the election, known as a poll book reconciliation. That matches absentee and mail-in ballots received against in-person votes.
“This simple process identified 40 such duplicate votes during the 2020 election in Philadelphia, and it is becoming increasingly important as absentee/mail-in voting grows more popular in the city and throughout the state,” the organization said. “The lawsuit also challenges Philadelphia’s inadequate training and checks at the polling place on Election Day, which, if done properly, would further reduce duplicate voting opportunities.”
Philadelphia election officials declined to respond to requests for comment.
“As reports of election abuses in Philadelphia continue to come to light, Pennsylvania voters deserve to know that local election officials are doing all that they are required to do to prevent and eliminate duplicate voting,” said Derek Lyons, RITE’s president, and CEO. “Just weeks before the election, however, officials appear determined to weaken crucial election integrity measures without any justification. Duplicate voting is antithetical to election integrity. RITE is proud to support Pennsylvania voters fighting against this flawed, dangerous, and illegal plan that would undermine the public’s trust and confidence in their elections.”
Joshua Voss, the attorney who filed the suit, said, “Election officials must protect the ballot box from duplicate voting that can occur when someone votes by mail and then later votes in person. Unfortunately, even as mail-in ballots have become more popular, Philadelphia officials have suggested they might weaken safeguards against double voting that have proven effective in the past. Our lawsuit seeks to defend the integrity of Philadelphia’s elections by ensuring that robust protections against double voting remain in place, as required by law.”
Albert Eisenberg, a Republican consultant with RedStateBlue, said that while he does not know the specific details of the lawsuit, “there absolutely needs to be more oversight on the absentee voting, drop-boxes, etc. in Philadelphia so people of all political backgrounds trust our elections. Open drop boxes with no supervision are a bad idea in a first-world democracy.”
Eisenberg added, “I believe (Senate candidate) Dr. Oz will be the first Republican in generations to get to 20 percent of the citywide vote in Philadelphia due to John Fetterman’s radicalism and a growing alienation among working Democrats toward their party’s main priorities, which are all related to social issues as life gets more expensive–and dangerous–for Philadelphians.”
Co-founded in 2022 by Steve Wynn, Karl Rove, and Bobby R. Burchfield, RITE is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rule of law in elections.
Imagine for a moment that you are done shopping and walking back to your car. You get there, hands full of shopping bags. You fumble for your keys to unlock your car. As you unlock it and get in, two men jump in with you. One gets in the front seat and the other in the back. The man in the backseat puts a gun to your head.
Now stop imagining. That happened last Monday night in the parking lot of a Target in Wayne to a teenage resident of Radnor Township at approximately 5:30 p.m. Fortunately he was not harmed. But the car was stolen and found running in West Philly. The perpetrators have yet to be apprehended.
Anyone can be a victim of crime in the Philadelphia area. Earlier this month on September 8th and September 11th, armed carjackings took place in Upper Darby, both targeting women. Furthermore, just last week three robberies occurred in Haverford between Thursday and Friday evening.
This all begs the question – what is being done? The answer: Nothing.
Nothing will be done as long as we continue to elect people like U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon and Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner who support defunding the police and openly admit they do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.
Those soft-on-crime policies have enabled lawbreakers and made our communities and families less safe. Public safety is the good upon which all others rest. As congressman, combating violent crime will be one of my top priorities.
It starts with protecting and supporting our police, law enforcement, and first responders. Fully funding them and equipping them with the resources they need to serve the public should not be a partisan issue. Unlike Mary Gay Scanlon, I will always oppose defunding the police, irrespective of how it polls.
I oppose DA Larry Krasner’s failure to aggressively prosecute violent offenders. I disagree with his contention that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession will not reduce shootings.
Furthermore, I will never endorse policies like the elimination of cash bail, as DA Larry Krasner and Mary Gay Scanlon have, that will lead to rising crime. Second, it is imperative that we hold violent and repeat offenders accountable – the opposite of what DA Larry Krasner has done and Mary Gay Scanlon have demanded.
This year alone, Philadelphia is on pace for 3,000 illegal gun arrests. Those caught are less likely to be charged and those charged are less likely to be convicted than ever before. In 2021, there were over 2,300 incidents of gun violence, yet 61 percent of illegal firearms cases were dismissed by the district attorney’s office.
Third, I am committed to making the much-needed enhancements to our law enforcement community to be better equipped to process evidence and convict offenders.
One solution is mobile crime labs. Oftentimes, families in PA-05 are left waiting while evidence sits and while a loved one’s killer goes free. By bringing a forensics team to a crime scene, evidence is processed more quickly and there is a greater likelihood of tying an offender to the crime within an optimal 48-hour window. Speedy, accurate processing of evidence leads to more solved crimes and fewer violent offenders on the street.
In addition, the presence of mobile crime labs acts as a visible deterrent. Their physical presence in communities will make criminals think twice about committing crimes. A greater chance that someone is linked to a crime also acts as a deterrent – current backlogs give criminals the idea that they will never be convicted. Last, resources for youth intervention and mentorship programs are essential. Strengthening the relationships that law enforcement have with the community ensures that families will be safe and that the rule of law will be enforced in a just way. These relationships can be maintained without denigrating the men and women that keep our communities safe.
We can and must find ways to work together to make our streets safe again. It is time to stop emboldening criminals and start protecting innocent people. As long as violent and repeat offenders go without consequences, innocent people across PA-05 in Philadelphia, Delaware, and Montgomery counties will continue to suffer. The crime and violence we are experiencing are simply not acceptable and stopping it will be a top priority of mine in Congress.