PHILADELPHIA: CULTURE OF CORRUPTION, THE BEAT GOES ON

With the federal government cutting housing subsidies in 2006, Philadelphia Housing Authority managers spared no expense to take “diversity awareness to a new level.”

How else to explain the karaoke singers, salsa dance instructor, Swiss Alps yodelers, and belly dancers who were mingling with PHA middle managers at the Wilson Park Community Center?

The cost: about $17,150, including $1,200 for the belly dancers.

The evening’s finale began when four exotically clad belly dancers pulled members of the audience into their show. PHA’s then-executive director, Carl R. Greene, was surrounded by the women, one leaning against him, another with an arm around him. LINK

I’m back. It’s been cold in Philly the last couple of days. While the fire department struggles against cutbacks, brownouts, extreme weather and little or no leadership, fire deaths are up this year. Number 31 happened the other day. While we work our asses off to accomplish our public safety mission, (saving lives and property), as we are forced to do less with less, other agencies and departments have no problem wasting tax payers dollars, paying millions in no bid contracts, belly dancers and generally dancing on the grave of our city.

Like Camden, Philly is slowly destroying its tax base. Essential services like police and fire are being decimated allowing crime to rule and public safety to evaporate. All while we celebrate diversity with belly dancers, no bid contracts and use money for bridge repairs for “economic development”. Cocktails anyone?

This latest story is typical of what’s going on not just in Philly, but nationwide. Fiscal and managerial incompetence, mismanagement has bred a festering culture of corruption that is rampant. Just like our City Courts, the School District of Philadelphia, The Delaware River Port Authority, The Phila. Streets Department, or The Department of Licenses and Inspections (you name the bureau), The Philadelphia Housing Authority under Carl Green is an agency that should be dissolved and it’s executives put in jail. I’m not even going to start on federal agencies (like TSA).

While the members of the fire department are under assault both internally and externally other agencies act like the gravy train just keeps rolling. One problem: there is no engineer to apply the brakes. Mayor Michael Nutter has targeted the fire department as the sole focus of his wrath since losing badly in the last contract negotiations. He has inexplicably waged an overt war on the best performing department in all of city government since he took office. The fire department responds to close to 300,000 emergency calls a year and consistently has the highest rating with the public of any city agency. Yet all around him other agencies are squandering tax dollars like they are going out of style and failing way short of their missions. Missions like educating children, providing housing or even painting a bridge.

Folks the current tax debate going on right now in Congress is indicative of this insanity: While the Federal Government just spent a TRILLION DOLLARS, they now want to raise taxes. Can anyone argue with a straight face that THIS government has been responsible with our money and deserves more of it? Seriously? Of course not. Same goes with Philly. The waste, fraud, corruption, pay to play, no bid contract culture of corruption is completely out of control. It has to stop, but who will take a stand? Who will take on these incompetent frauds who are currently running our city into the ground? Sadly I don’t see anyone with the intestinal fortitude.

It is abundantly clear that we don’t have a revenue problem in this city, state or country. We have a spending problem as well as a corruption problem. They are both easy to fix. Now if we can only find a fixer.

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3 Responses to PHILADELPHIA: CULTURE OF CORRUPTION, THE BEAT GOES ON

  1. Bob G. says:

    Cap:
    If THIS isn’t a “Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot??” moment…I don’t know WHAT is.

    (appalling, IMHO)
    “SHIMMY”…it ain’t!

    A LOT of such “diversity” needs to be placed where the sun never shines, if you catch my drift.

    You stay safe out there, and beware of frozen hydrants!

  2. Old NFO says:

    The level of stupidity/ridiculousness just keeps growing… Stay safe!

  3. Dee Dee says:

    I stumbled upon this blog quite by accident. I was looking for an article about the statue smashing at Ryan and St Martha school in 2005. I was sent to an article about Father Newman which led me here. I am not a blogger and I do not read any other blogs! I told you before I do not agree with all your politics but I am always willing to listen. I Stayed because you have enlightened me regarding how our city treats my neighbors, all police and fire. I just wanted to share with you the “facts” about my employer.

    This morning’s Washington Post has done it again.
    For the fourth time this year, the Post has offered an editorial on the Postal Service’s financial problems that is remarkable in its ability to get even the most basic facts wrong. We have corrected the editors in published letters and we have met with the editorial writers. Yet the paper refuses to learn and appears to accept postal management’s bogus talking points with an utter lack of skepticism. These are fundamental failings for so-called journalists.

    Let’s try it again. We hope they are paying attention over there on 15th Street.

    1) The financial crisis at the Postal Service, including the large losses in recent years and the $12 billion debt the paper decries, is not due to postal labor costs or the Internet. The entire amount is due to the massively unrealistic and unaffordable payments to pre-fund future retiree health benefits that Congress mandated between 2007 and 2016, of which $20.9 billion have been made in the past four years. No other public agency or company in America, including The Washington Post Company (which does not pre-fund at retiree health benefits at all), is required to pre-fund such benefits.

    The fact that labor costs represent 80 percent of total costs, as the Post editorial cites, does not mean that labor costs are excessive; it simply means that the USPS provides a labor-intensive service—we serve 150 million households and businesses each day, six days a week. Even so, labor costs as a percentage of total costs have declined (to 78 percent excluding the pre-funding costs) over time from a peak of 86 percent in 1979. Moreover, as new Postmaster General Pat Donahoe testified last week before the Senate, postal productivity has increased dramatically over the years. That allows the USPS to provide universal service at among the most affordable postage rates in the world.

    2) The postal unions are not “lobbying the Congress to release the Postal Service from its requirement to pre-fund about $5 billion in retiree health benefits,” as today’s editorial asserts. As we told the editors in our face-to-face meeting, we are simply asking Congress to allow the USPS to use its massive pension surplus to cover the cost of the pre-funding payments.

    Two independent, well respected private sector actuarial firms, The Hay Group and The Segal Company, have found that the USPS has overfunded its pension plans by between $50 billion and $75 billion over the past 40 years. If we were allowed to transfer these funds to our retiree health benefit fund, which currently has more than $42 billion in it, we would have fully funded all our future liabilities—currently estimated to be $92 billion over the next 75 years.

    A pension transfer is sound public policy that is consistent with best practice in the private sector among ERISA pension plans. It would not only allow us to save the $5.5 billion we are being charged each year, but it would allow us to avoid the kind of draconian cuts in service that The Post seems to take such joy in advocating—the elimination of Saturday delivery, the closing of thousands of post offices and the elimination of 80,000 jobs in the midst of a recession.

    3) The Post has exposed its gullibility by swallowing hook, line and sinker the bogus claim by postal management that “federal law gives unions the edge in collective bargaining with postal management,” as claimed in the latest editorial. It offers no evidence of this whatsoever, because there is no evidence. Postal wages and postage prices have risen in line with inflation over the past 40 years of bargaining and postal productivity gains have more than allowed the USPS to absorb the rising cost of benefits (especially health benefits) while taxpayer subsidies that once covered a quarter of the budget were eliminated.

    Rather, the Post has bought into postal management’s dishonest argument that arbitration boards “are not required to consider the financial condition of the Postal Service in their decisions.” This is simply not true. The law requires, and the practices and standards of professional arbitrators mandate, that arbitration boards consider all the evidence presented by the parties. Testimony and data on postal finances is always presented by one or both of the parties. In fact, management’s claim is absurd: Postal interest arbitration is a tri-partite process, with arbitrators appointed by both management and the union joining a neutral arbitrator on boards established to resolve bargaining impasses. Apparently, the USPS has convinced the Post’s editors that its management arbitrators are struck dumb, like potted plants, when it comes to presenting management’s financial evidence to the other arbitrators. This is nonsense and postal management knows it. And The Washington Post should know better than to fall for it.

    Understanding the financial crisis facing the Postal Service is not easy. But it is not rocket science. Shame on The Washington Post for misleading its readers.

    In Solidarity,

    Fredric V. Rolando, President
    National Association of Letter Carriers

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