Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Bush Propaganda Machine

According to Harper's Magazine, James E. Hansen - a director at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies - said that NASA had ordered its public-affairs staff to review and possibly censor his upcoming speeches and papers after he called for reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.

Two Philadelphia Business Schools Do Well In Rankings

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Penn's Wharton School of Business topped the Financial Times' list of global full-time MBA programs. Wharton, which shared the top honors with some Ivy League School in the Boston area last year, pulled ahead this year because salaries reported by alumni were higher than the salaries reported by alumni of that other school.

Temple University's Fox School of Business and Management was the only other Philadelphia-area MBA program to make the list. It tied with Rice University's business school for No. 67, up from No. 74 a year ago. Fox wasn't ranked two years ago.

Monday, January 30, 2006

An Independent Ethics Board: Coming Soon?

Question that will be on the May 16 Primary Ballot:
"Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for the creation, appointment, powers, duties and annual funding of an independent Board of Ethics which shall administer and enforce all ordinances pertaining to ethics?"

Quick Overview:
The current Ethics Board, created on August 12, 2004, operates within the office of the Mayor with all members appointed by the Mayor; not exactly an independent body. Constituting an independent Board would mean a more genuine independence from the executive and legislative branches. If passed in May, an independent and empowered Board of Ethics would help encourage and enforce higher ethical standards for all City officials.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Green Power!

According to PennFuture, the Air Force and Whole Foods Market are leaders on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's list of the leading purchasers of green power in 2005. The Air Force purchased 321 megawatts of power from renewable energy sources last year and made over 40% of all federal purchases of green energy in fiscal year 2004. Dyess Air Force Base in Texas is 100% powered by renewable energy. Whole Foods Market purchased over 20% of its national electricity needs from green energy sources and some of their stores are 100 percent green-powered. Five stores in California and New Jersey have solar panels to generate electricity on-site. The University of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also finished in the top 25 on this list.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

PA's Agriculture Industry: There's a lot of it

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Commonwealth contains more than 58,000 farms covering 7.7 million acres, a quarter of the state's total acreage. These farms are diverse in size and output, averaging 133 acres, and producing everything from mushrooms to Christmas trees to milk.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Something for the Commonwealth to Consider?

In Maine, there's a new law requiring manufacturers of televisions, computers and appliances, to pay the cost of sorting and recycling the products they sell. The management of discarded electronic equipment ("e-waste") - which contain toxic materials and are costly to recycle - is a growing problem across the nation. This law, the first of its kind in the United States, is designed to encourage companies to build products that are easier to recycle.

New York Discounter Coming to Chestnut Street

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Loehmann’s, the popular discount designer clothing chain, has leased the vacant Today’s Man location on the 1500 block of Chestnut. The 10-year deal is worth $5 million. This is good, as the occupancy deal fills the last large retail vacancy on Chestnut west of Broad.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ex-Mayor on Trial for Corruption

The former Mayor treated city contractors like "human ATMs," taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts in exchange for favors, prosecutors told jurors in opening statements at his federal corruption trial. The former Mayor’s attorneys countered that he would never have abused his elected position because of his lifelong dedication to civil rights and public service. The former Mayor is charged with racketeering, bribery and fraud. The indictments against the former Mayor were the result of a seven-year federal probe that led to the convictions of 10 city officials or contractors. Some are expected to testify against him. The prosecutors made the case that - while in office for two terms – the former Mayor and his associates made it clear to contractors that they had to "pay to play."

No, this isn’t a fictional piece, it’s a report about what’s happening to Atlanta’s former Mayor Bill Campbell (with a few details left out), now that he’s left office.

Lynn Swann will Revert Back to an Ugly Ducking on the Campaign Trail

One of the reasons why Lynn Swann’s candidacy for governor will ultimately implode (either during the primary or general) – aside from the fact that he’s got no government experience and doesn’t have the expertise to run the Commonwealth – is that things in Pennsylvania are going along quite nicely and the state government is being well run.

For instance, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate dipped last month and its non-farm job count rose for a 10th straight month, according to the state's Department of Labor & Industry. Seasonally adjusted non-farm jobs increased by 300 - the smallest month-to-month gain over 10 months - to push the state's job count to 5,730,300. Over the year, total non-farm jobs increased by 64,400, or 1.1 percent, just under the national growth rate of 1.5 percent. The state's unemployment rate dipped from 5.1 percent to 4.9 percent last month, matching the national rate. In December 2004, the state's unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. The number of people working or looking for work fell by 4,000 last month to 6,306,000, which is 20,000 below the December 2004 level.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Trump Coming to the Waterfront

According to the Inquirer, Donald Trump plans to build a 45-story luxury condominium building along the Delaware River, to be called “Trump Tower Philadelphia”. The $190 million project will consist of at least 250 units on Penn Street near the foot of Spring Garden Street, with construction to begin this summer and completion expected in mid-2008. This will be a "first-class" complex with landscaped gardens, spa, five-star restaurant, wine cellar, health/fitness club, recreation rooms, and an outdoor deck.

AHT staffers will likely not be able to afford a unit.

More Center City Condos

Hovnanian Homes plans to start construction and sales in March on a residential conversion to be called "The Residences at 1401 Walnut". The converion will produce 36 one and two-bedroom units, with prices somewhere in the low $500s.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Philadelphia Cruise Business Continues Growth

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, 36 cruise lines will depart from Philadelphia in 2006, with an economic impact of over $44 million, an increase from less than $2 million in 2002. The Delaware River Port Authority ("DRPA") has invested heavily in improvements to the cruise terminal at the Navy Yard and marketing for "CruisePhilly", which also includes hotel and restaurant packages.

A Right Winger for Gay Marriage

Because this was such an interesting perspective on gay marriage from an unlikely supporter, AHT decided to share the entire piece:

Pro-Bush, pro-equality Wisconsin resident and former Massachusetts lawmaker Bob Hall is a conservative Republican who wants everyone to know that the only people who threaten traditional marriage are straight couples.

By Bob Hall

An Advocate.com exclusive posted, January 17, 2006

I’m opposed to the state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage now being considered by the Wisconsin legislature. Oh, I know I’m an unlikely champion of gay rights. I’m a Marine Corps Vietnam vet who has deep regrets about that war—mostly I regret that we didn’t kill twice as many of those murdering totalitarian bastards. I hope we do better in Iraq. I believe the “out now” crowd are racists who think the Iraqis are too inferior to deserve democracy. Or they don’t care, as long as America is defeated and George Bush embarrassed.

I worked hard to defeat John Kerry last November and will do so again if he runs. And I’m a death penalty advocate who thinks we should run it like a barbershop—two chairs, no waiting.

As a member of the Massachusetts state senate, I regularly voted against increasing the state budget—more than any other senator. And don’t get me started on guns. I’m not for mandatory concealed carry, but I do think fondly of how polite folks were in the days when gentlemen wore swords.

Living in Madison, Wis., I feel a certain kinship with the Israeli ambassador to Baghdad. While I think of myself as a centrist Republican with a libertarian bent, to the average Progressive Dane voter, I’m a fascist pig.

So how did I become a supporter of gay rights? In 1973 then–Massachusetts state representative Barney Frank had filed bills prohibiting employment and housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The bills came before a committee on which I served. There were a lot of jokes and nudging going on—this was the early ’70s. Appearing to testify was a bright and charming woman, Elaine Noble, who would later serve as a state representative herself. Elaine convinced me that supporting Barney’s bills was the right thing to do. I told the chair, Sen. Allen McKinnon, to record me in favor of them.

The bills received a favorable report—but no one in the committee’s Democratic majority was willing to carry (be floor manager) for them. So I volunteered.

The Republican floor leader had a minor stroke when he learned I was carrying gay rights bills. He had only seven Republicans out of 40 senators. I was 27, single, and holding a seat I’d won by nine votes out of 60,000 cast. The common wisdom was that I was a one-term wonder who caught the incumbent senator vulnerable but couldn’t be reelected.

I suspect that I may have been the first legislator in the country to speak for gay rights on the floor of a state legislature. McKinnon spoke for the bills after me. On the roll call, only six senators voted in favor—McKinnon, four other Democrats, and myself. And the bills were dead that year.

But I won the next election by 10,000 votes, carrying every city and town in my working-class Democratic district. More legislators decided that supporting antidiscrimination measures was a safe thing to do. Today, it’s the law in Massachusetts—which strangely doesn’t seem to have collapsed because of it or because of the gay marriage decision there last year.

Trust me, no true heterosexual wakes up and thinks, Hey, I’m really angry with my partner. I think I’ll try dating someone from my own gender from now on. So who has destroyed traditional marriage in America?

How about men—and increasingly women—abusing their spouses? How about the heterosexual trend toward infidelity, led by the example of our highest elected leaders? How about men fathering and then abandoning children to poverty and state support? How about a large number of straight people deciding serial marriage and divorce is a cool lifestyle?

Doing something about those trends would really protect marriage.

The anti–same-sex-marriage amendment isn’t going to help my marriage by so much as a red whisker. If you think it will protect your marriage or any marriage, that marriage is already shot.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

SDP Building Receives Honors

The reburbishment of the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News’ old plant in North Philadelphia as the new headquarters for the School District of Philadelphia ("SDP") at 440 N. Broad St. received a 2005 Award of Merit from Mid-Atlantic Construction magazine. Said the magazine, “[t]he transformation of the once-dreary eyesore is considered an important step in the ongoing revitalization of the entire area.” AHT has visited the new headquarters; it's beautiful inside, with professionally placed student art on nearly every wall.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I'm Worried About the Groundhog

If you haven't done so, check out the Commonwealth's promotional website for Groundhog day. Very entertaining.

November Good Month for Center City Hotels

According to Smith Travel Reserach, Center City hotels experienced a 7.7 percent occupancy increase to 76.7 percent in November 2005, compared to 2004. The average room rate was up 16.5 percent and RevPAR - room revenue per available room - was up 25.4 percent.

Pennsylvania's Alt. Fuel Industry Expands

According to PennFuture, Pennsylvania will soon host its sixth utility-scale wind farm. Community Energy, Inc. is developing a new 12-turbine wind farm currently under construction in Bear Creek, Pennsylvania, just 10 miles southeast of Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County. After completion in the Spring of 2006, the Bear Creek project will include 12 Gamesa two MW wind turbines, each standing nearly 400 feet tall. The project will produce enough energy to power approximately 8,500 homes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Brandywine Realty Trust

Brandywine Realty Trust has completed its acquisition of the Dallas-based Prentiss Properties Trust, making it one of the top five office landlords in the nation. With the acquisition - Brandywine - already the largest office landlord in the Philadelphia region, currently owns property in Texas, Washington, and California.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Boyd Theater Update

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Live Nation, a new company spun off from Clear Channel Communications' concert division and now the biggest concert promotion outfit on the planet, will renovate then begin operating the Boyd Theater sometime in 2007.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Montana Comes to Pennsylvania

"Ted's Montana Grill" - that's Ted Turner - has arrived in Philadelphia. The new restaurant on Broad Street is the first in the Commonwealth for Turner and his business partner who have opened over 40 chain locations in 15 states. The chain features American foods in a setting meant to remind you of turn-of-the-century Montana. In case you didn't know, Philadelphia City Council proclaimed Jan. 5th as "Ted's Montana Grill Day"in Philadelphia.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Pennsylvania Farm Show

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in North America. This year, the eight-day event will host around 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors. AHT will be going to Harrisburg this Saturday to check it out.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Recycling saves the Commonwealth Serious Money

Pennsylvania saved an estimated $372 million in 2004 through recycling. The economic benefits of recycling were estimated at over $113 million in materials collected and more than $259 million in avoided disposal costs according to Governor Ed Rendell. A record 4.8 million tons of waste was recycled in 2004, the last year for which data is available. Locally, the Philadelphia Streets Department continues to drag its feet on recycling, having not filled the Recycling Coordinator position for over four months and not committing to expansion of the immensely successful RecycleBank pilot project.

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