Reader Response: Foment versus ferment

I already shared the wide array of reader response I got for a recent A1 story I had for the Philadelphia Inquirer that covered the Harrisburg reform movement [There’s video for the story up now, too].

I got another call yesterday that I wanted to share.

A Maria called to compliment me on the story but she had one gripe that she “had to get off [her] chest.”

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Capitol Ideas: Blog post on Republican auditor general candidate

A press conference held by Republican Auditor General candidate Chet Beiler on July 31, 2008. (Photo by Christopher Wink)

Who said blog clips aren’t worth anything? Here’s one for Capitol Ideas, the popular state government blog by Morning Call reporter John L. Micek.

Republican Chet Beiler wants to be Pennsylvania’s auditor general and used the phrase “tax dollars” often enough today to prove it.

Flanked by supporters, Beiler stood in the Capitol rotunda this morning, and challenged Democratic incumbent Jack Wagner to meet him for a series of discussions of the issues.

Standing in front of a banner that promised Beiler, of Manheim, Lancaster County, said he’ll spend his time “protecting your tax dollars.” He also vowed that “wherever tax dollars go, I will be there.”

Read the rest on Capitol Ideas.

Watch out for the stronger voice in blog style, my friends, and please note the forlorn-looking boy in the right of my photograph – taken with my cell phone.

Number of Views:3241

This Land is Their Land: Could You Afford to be Poor?

I am reading the book This Land is Your Land by Barbara Ehrenreich, the noted author of the 2001 investigation into the U.S. working poor Nickel and Dimed.

It is mostly the standard fare criticism of the wealth from the left – not suggesting it is justified or not, but standard nonetheless.

However, one brief chapter did stick with me, one entitled “Could You Afford to Be Poor?” [Page 41 in hardcover].

She referenced a 2006 study of the Brookings Institution, which cited the “ghetto tax,” a higher cost of living in low-income urban neighborhoods. Many of the individual examples we all know or could recognize but seeing them together collectively was daunting.

Here is her list

  • Poor people are less likely to have bank accounts, which can be expensive for those with low balances, and so they tend to cash their pay checks at check-cashing businesses, which, in cities surveyed, charged $5 to $50 for a $500 check.
  • Nationwide, low-income car buyers, defined as people earning less than $30,000 a year, pay 2 percentage points more for a car loan than more affluent buyers.

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Reader response for Inquirer story on Harrisburg reformers

Last week, I shared some reader response I received after a recent story on state Rep. Babette Josephs ran on the cover of the Inquirer’s Local Section.

So it comes as no surprise that getting a story on the cover the newspaper – one about the Harrisburg reform movement yesterday – got some response, too.

A man who – jokes aside – I think was intoxicated and was either complimenting or insulting my coverage of “citizens” – I sincerely couldn’t tell. No name, no number, but he called back and left a second message in which he said the following:

Oh, I forgot. My primary concern is helping and reliquifying [sic] the American middle class, and until, well, that is the basis of everthing, until that happens, this country isn’t going anywheres [sic] and you can quote me on it.”

I don’t know who he is or how to contact him or why I would want to quote him – but I sure will.

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Number of Views:4161

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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Number of Views:2695

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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Number of Views:6162

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).

Number of Views:6198

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:8302

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:7432