Exceptional Parent: "Wisdom of a Child"

Family friend Lee-Ellen Pisauro shared with me a warm piece she had featured in this month’s edition of Exceptional Parent, a magazine for parents of children or young adults with disabilities.

The mag doesn’t share it’s content online, so I thought I would – it’s brief and isn’t losing them a darn dime.

The Wisdom of a Child

By Lee-Ellen Pisauro

My four-year-old son, Steven, is wise beyond his years. His faith is so strong. His belief in “the good” does not waiver.

When my second son, Sam, was born, friends and family members assured my husband and me that Steven was the perfect big brother for Sam. After all, he is so gentle, loving and compassionate. I was sure everyone said this to take the sting away from the diagnosis. Sam was born with Down syndrome.

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Capitol feels bite of Pa. gadflies (Philadelphia Inquirer: 7/29/08)

By Christopher Wink | July 29, 2008 | Philadelphia Inquirer

HARRISBURG – They call themselves, simply, “the Coalition.”

They are an informal group of about a half-dozen citizen activists – most of them middle-aged men from Central Pennsylvania – who spend their time waging a grassroots war for governmental change in the Capitol.

Each member of the group’s cast of characters has his own political persuasion and priorities – not to mention colorful turns of phrase and memorable props to enliven the good-government message. But all are motivated by the same philosophy: State government needs fixing and elected officials aren’t doing the job.

“There is a cancer on the Capitol,” said Gene Stilp, founder of Taxpayers and Ratepayers United and one of the more visible Coalition members. “The question is if it’s incurable.”

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Inquirer: Front page story on Harrisburg citizen activists

See it on the front page of the Inquirer at Newseum.com.

HARRISBURG – They call themselves, simply, “the Coalition.”

They are an informal group of about a half-dozen citizen activists – most of them middle-aged men from Central Pennsylvania – who spend their time waging a grassroots war for governmental change in the Capitol.

Each member of the group’s cast of characters has his own political persuasion and priorities – not to mention colorful turns of phrase and memorable props to enliven the good-government message. But all are motivated by the same philosophy: State government needs fixing and elected officials aren’t doing the job.

“There is a cancer on the Capitol,” said Gene Stilp, founder of Taxpayers and Ratepayers United and one of the more visible Coalition members. “The question is if it’s incurable.”

Love them or hate them – and many hate them – this small group of activists has had a big impact on Harrisburg’s political landscape. Since 2005, their work has helped push out a Supreme Court justice and almost a quarter of the legislature.

Stilp is credited with prompting the 17-month probe into legislative bonuses that just this month led to a raft of political corruption charges against a dozen Harrisburg insiders.

But who are these activists? And why do they spend so much of their time – usually without pay – to do what they do?

….

Read on at Philly.com.

This ran today for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The coverage is part of a post-graduate internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association (PLCA).

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Rendell conference call on Obama campaign

Senator Barack Obama (R) (D-Il) is greeted by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell before speaking during a Democratic Unity Rally at Temple University's McGonigle Hall October 21, 2006 in Philadelphia. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

The Barack Obama presidential campaign’s focus on Pennsylvania is “unprecedented” Gov. Ed Rendell said in a news conference call I listened in on during this my first day with the Allentown Morning Call for my post-graduate internship with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association.

Rendell was a noted booster for Obama’s primary opponent Hillary Clinton, but long maintained he would support whoever was the Democratic candidate. Rendell said “90 percent” of Clinton supporters are with Obama and getting “more excited” for Obama everyday.

“Pennsylvania is generally and typically a battleground state. Democrats have done well but absolutely can’t take it for granted,” said Steve Hildebrand, the national deputy Obama campaign manager. Aside from Florida, he added, Pennsylvania has the largest number of electoral votes that the campaigns are considering real battlegrounds.

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Booze, grudges and paranoia: what makes a journalist a journalist

Jobs are meant to include “occupational mythology,” expectations that are perhaps more commonly taken on than commonly found in a given position. Many with those positions relish in embodying these traits: rock stars use drugs, athletes use women, lawyers love the gray and green in their lifestyles. It’s why politicians kiss babies and go door-to-door.

These are ways we characterize someone, which makes it a hell of a short cut to being regarded as a rock star, an athlete, a lawyer or a baby-kissing politician.

Men and women become journalists, I have experienced, because they think their task is important, they are bearing light on what needs light most: from Washington D.C. to school board meetings. Journalists are self-righteous, unfailing in their belief what they are doing is good and just and unappreciated.

Of course, by journalists, I am speaking quite generally and referring almost exclusively to the breed of journalist that came from the urban print daily mold. I made the distinction in an earlier post.

They are independent, competitive and insular because sources won’t help, other media don’t stop, and no one understands.

Back in January, Slate magazine had a great article on this phenomenon, particularly in the newspaper field:

The journalist likes to think of himself as living close to the edge, whether he’s covering real estate or Iraq. He (and she) shouts and curses and cracks wise at most every opportunity, considers divorce an occupational hazard, and loves telling ripping yarns about his greatest stories. If he likes sex, he has too much of it. Ditto for food. If he drinks, he considers booze his muse. If he smokes, he smokes to excess, and if he attempts to quit, he uses Nicorette and the patch.

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Number of Views:7797

ESPN: Temple University Top 20 college basketball programs

LAST WEEK ESPN RANKED THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS MEN’S BASKETBALL PROGRAMS of the modern era, since 1984-85.

It came as no surprise that Temple University, my alma mater, was among them – ranked 20th.

20. TEMPLE OWLS, Atlantic 10
Positives: 13 conference titles (6 regular-season, 7 tourney); 15 20-win seasons; 17 NCAA berths; 5 Elite Eights; 6 NITs
Negatives: 1 losing season; 0 first team All-Americans; 0 Final Fours
Total points: 179
Did you know? The 2007-08 season was the first 20-win season for Temple since the 2000-01 season, but the Owls have been respectable in that downturn, falling under .500 just once (2006-07). The Owls have five Elite Eight appearances since 1985, a tally that helps them fly up the charts, but we’d be remiss not to mention that they are 0-5 in those chances to reach the Final Four.

I was an avid fan myself. The same research ranked the Atlantic 10 the No. 8 conference in the country of the modern era.

Image courtesy of PBase. Source. See Top 10 here.

Number of Views:7007

Reader Response for Babette Josephs story

THERE IS SOMETHING THRILLING ABOUT READER INTERACTION. In my short experience with professional journalism, readers rarely contact reporters about their story without a strong reaction – either an article is of great importance or is trash.

Getting a big story above the fold on the cover of Inquirer local section, like my story on state Rep. Babette Josephs was on Wednesday, will bring in some phone calls. It’s refreshing to see old forms of reader interaction still can work, and unsurprising the calls ranged from complimentary to insulting.

On the good end, one woman – whom I can only picture with hair curlers and face cream on a stoop of a Passyunk Square block that hadn’t yet been flipped – referred to my article as “excellent.” She talked to Babette until she “was blue in the face.” The sentiment this woman, and a couple other calls gave was that over the representative’s incumbency since 1984 – Josephs is the General Assembly’s longest-serving female member – she had lost her mission. “She’s a disaster now,” the woman told me.

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How walkable is your neighborhood?

PHILADELPHIA WAS RANKED the THE FIFTH MOST WALKABLE CITY IN THE COUNTRY – not as high as I would have suspected, but impressive nonetheless.

But what is even cooler about this is Walk Score itself, the online application used to create the rankings. Walk Score ranked 2,508 neighborhoods in the largest 40 U.S. cities to help you find a walkable place to live, but you can also search any address in the country – I think – and, using Google Maps, you can get its Walk Score.

I can compare the walkability of my new digs in Harrisburg, Pa. – 62 out of 100 – to my old haunts in the 3300-block of North Park Avenue in Philadelphia – 80 of 100.

For the city rankings, each is broken down and evaluated by neighborhood, as can be seen here for Philadelphia.

1. San Francisco
2. New York City
3. Boston
4. Chicago
5. Philadelphia

See the rest here.

Hat tip to Broad and Cecil.

Number of Views:2858

Brian Tierney, Sam Zell: journalism needs the business attitude

WITH THE 300-YEAR HISTORY OF NEWSPAPERS IN A SEEMING STRANGLEHOLD, plenty of wildly successful business men have gotten involved – all certainly interested in claiming a portion of history, which reviving and settling the newspaper ship would merit.

Public relations firm namesake Brian Tierney got all sorts of publicity when he led a group of investors in buying Philadelphia Media Holdings, taking control of the Inquirer and the Daily News, though he promised to stay out of editorial decisions.

The work he is doing is the same as Sam Zell, who gets more attention for working on a grander stage – majority owner of Tribune, which owns a handful of the countries largest newspapers – and being in worse fiscal trouble.

But like Tierney, what he is doing is what the industry needs. Bringing a truly business-mind to a self-proclaimed public service and, simply, trying something, anything. Just making moves – at least they’re getting attention, an important first step.

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Number of Views:4629