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Date » 2009 » January « Home

Rendell: 10-Cent Tax Hike For Cigs

Pony up, smokers! Ed Rendell wants a 10-cent tax hike on packs of cigarettes.

Governor Rendell has long been advocating for a tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco products. But now, as he tries to figure out how to plug a $2-billion-plus hole in the state’s budget, spokesman Chuck Ardo says Rendell will also propose increasing the cigarette tax by ten cents a pack:

“I think it’s in response to the economic crisis and the fact that smokers cost the commonwealth a significant amount of money in health-related expenses.”

Yeah, but think how much the state saves from the calmed nerves of smokers. On the plus side for the cigarette smokers in the state, at least every pack they buy will be stimulating the economy. (Rendell’s office says the tax could raise somewhere around $50 million.)

As usual, the new tax will hurt poor smokers the most, but nobody cares about them.

Rendell Wants 10¢-per-Pack Hike in Penna. Cigarette Tax [KYW 1060]

Photo by Valerie Everett used under a Creative Commons license

Coatesville Situation Gets Worse

Well, it appears I was right. Now the Guardian Angels are (literally, I suppose) pouring gas on the fire.

Guardian Angels Help With Coatesville Arsons [NBCPhiladelphia.com]

Racial Harmony Through Free Stuff

Above Average Jane directs me to something I missed in the December issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Weeks before Election Day, Local 98 boss John Dougherty sent a message to union members, 80 percent of whom are white: Don’t let Obama’s skin color impede your vote. Even more intriguing than his plea to bridge the racial divide was how it was delivered — J. Doc mailed 5,000 one-time-use MP3 players loaded with his pro-Obama stump speech, plus words from building trades manager Pat Gillespie, Rep. Pat Murphy and Senator Bob Casey. Operation MP3 ran a cool $90,000 — but Dougherty says it was worth it: “Everybody loved it. I even saw one on Craigslist for $150.”

What I really like is that Johnny Doc sounds like he was pretty stoked when he saw one of those MP3 players on eBay. (Also: One-time-use? Is that even possible? I guess so, but you think it’d be a cooler gift if it were an iPod Shuffle.)

Anyway, It’s good to know we’ve reached a point in society where just a little free MP3 player can turn even the most racist men into diversity-loving Obama voters. Or something like that.

Interesting Note From Dec. Phillymag [Above Average Jane]

Chick-Fil-A Aficionados Hit Jersey

Chick-Fil-A may be owned by a devout Southern Baptist, but for fans of the fast food chain, new locations are more like Mecca. Case in point: The opening of the Audubon, N.J., Chick-fil-A, which the Courier-Post recapped yesterday.

Since 2003, the company has given out $260 in coupons to the first 100 people in line when new locations open. And now there are a whole group of “Chick-fil-A heads” who go to a ton of openings. Joe Wolfe drove all the way from Winchester, Va., to attend his fourth store opening. There was also Marianne Trovato from Bensalem, who was attending her eighth opening. And don’t forget Mike Lucci, of Pine Hill, N.J., who was at his third opening.

Seriously, follow the link. This is all real, I swear.

“This is probably the coldest, but it’s still worth it,” Lucci said. “It has good food. I won’t buy from a McDonald’s. I don’t like their greasy food.”

Because when I think of the opposite of McDonald’s, I think Chick-fil-A. Ahh, whatever. It is a free $260 worth of food. I’m thinking of hitting up the next opening, and I don’t even like Chick-fil-A.

Chick-fil-A fans heed the call of free food [Courier-Post]
Photo by J.Reed used under a Creative Commons license

Abridged Daily News Columnists

Christine Flowers: Christine Flowers is sad that the Eagles didn’t make the Super Bowl. Hey, we agree on something!

Jill Porter: The best (worst) part of this story is how school administrators never contacted the family of the kid beat up at his high school. Good job, guys!

Elmer Smith: Oh, no, the analog TV switchover wasn’t pushed back! But now it’s going to be pushed back anyway, probably next week!

Things In Coatesville Still Not Great

As you might’ve heard, there have been 13 arsons in Coatesville in the last four weeks, including one on Saturday that burned 15 homes.

Sadly, though, for Coatesville’s residents, things are going to get worse before they get better. Case in point: The Guardian Angels are coming to town! Curtis Silwa and his crew did such a bang-up job patrolling SEPTA, they’re headed to Coatesville to… I dunno, walk around and try to catch someone setting more fires.

And even the city’s charity isn’t working out: The Coatesville Memorial Community Center has put a stop to collecting food and clothing: “The community center at 99 9th Ave. in Coatesville has so much donated clothing that it is hard for it to provide all its normal recreation activities[.]”

Oof. Is there anything people out there can be happy about? Why, yes! The West Chester Daily Local — which did this amazing year-end videohas a new video out with the same awesome narrator. I think he’s doing a Walter Winchell impersonation, but I can’t really be sure. You know what? Forget the other links in this post. You really need to hear the first 10 seconds or so of the video.

Photo by Cyberesque used under a Creative Commons license

Mayor Proposes Charity Concert To Raise Money For Cash-Strapped City

Remember how well Live 8 went off? I mean, I don’t know if it achieved whatever it was supposed to achieve. Actually, I don’t remember what it was supposed to achieve. Dropping the debt? Helping feed African children? Making people wear white wristbands for a week or two? Hmm. I think it was about awareness, maybe. And, boy, am I ever aware of Africa!

Anyway: Live 8 in Philadelphia went off very well. The concert was (amazingly) pretty enjoyable, there weren’t any huge riots where people destroyed everything around them, etc. But, really, should we push our luck with another huge concert idea?

The mayor thinks so. In fact, today he said talk is underway for a FarmAid-style concert to raise money for the city! Catherine Lucey calls it “PhilAid,” and I don’t think we’re going to do any better than that. Somebody register philaid.org, quick! Crap, too late!

“I was in a conversation where it was suggested that there are tons of stars, some from Philly, some might come to Philadelphia,” Nutter said today. “It entails a whole lot of work and effort and is not necessarily something you can build a budget around. Whatever you would generate would be a onetime thing.”

I guess if this is supposed to raise money, it can’t be out on the Parkway. So, ah… the Linc and its horrible sound? Or maybe they could charge a ton for tickets and hold it at the Kimmel Center? Or how about the Robin Hood Dell East, that concert hall the newspapers are always writing about!

Mayor Nutter says the discussions are very, very preliminary (read: it’s not going to happen). That’s probably a good thing, because you know they’d organize this thing and then it’d eventually lose money.

Could a PhilAid concert come our way? [Clout]

Photo by Lucius Kwok used under a Creative Commons license

More Fun With Barbaro Memorials

NBCPhiladelphia.com’s Dan Stamm, do you have anything to say about him?

It has been two years since the world lost Barbaro but he will never be lost in our hearts.

I dunno. My heart is a veritable maze, I have like 70 ventricles and 45 atriums. And don’t get me started on all my aortas and pulmonary arteries. He’s totally going to get lost in there one day.

Celebrating Barbaro, 2 Years Later [NBCPhiladelphia.com]
Thanks, RJ

Rolling Gov’t Shutdowns In Pa.?

With a budget crisis looming — this phrase is not as popular as I expected, by the way — the Pennsylvania state government has a novel idea to save money: Rolling shutdowns of state government!

Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo: “It’s a matter of responding to the fiscal crisis as we need to. We are not announcing any rolling furloughs at this point; we’re just making preparations in case we need to do so.”

Ardo says those rolling furloughs might mean shutting down most state government operations for a day or two per month, or it could mean closing different state agencies on different days.

I have no real opinion on this, unless they start targeting the liquor stores. If that happens, there will be a battle.

Amid Budget Crunch, Pa. Considering ”Rolling Shutdowns” of State Government [KYW 1060]
Photo by Dwight Evans’ mayoral campaign (really!) used under a Creative Commons license

Barbaro’s Brother Begins Career

Well, well! Today, the Daily News‘ Dick Jerardi reminds us today is a national holiday: It’s the second anniversary of the day Barbaro died! (If you’ve forgotten what a wonderful time that was in terms of Internet hilarity, please read the Field Guide to Barbaro Messageboard Factions. I can’t believe I forgot to submit it! I’m totally using that as an excuse.)

Anyway, the news is not all good on this oh so holy day. It turns out that Saturday will be the debut of Barbaro’s full brother, Nicanor. He’s in the eighth race in Gulfstream Park; Rockland, a son of Smarty Jones, is in the race right before him. Smarty Jones was the local horse the local media was obsessed with in 2004 (as opposed to 2006), but he actually began his career at Philadelphia Park (in Bensalem, of course) and won two races on the teevee instead of one. He did blow the Triple Crown after leading coming around the turn at the Belmont Stakes, but at least he’s still alive. (He is! I bet if you asked random Philadelphians if Smarty Jones was still alive, a majority would confuse him with Barbaro and say he was dead.) Jerardi writes that “something cosmic is at work here.”

Will Nicanor have the backing of God like Barbaro did? Considering how well that worked out for Barbaro, let’s hope not. But even if Nicanor is no good, don’t fret: There’s another Barbaro brother who’s about to start training.

Oh boy.

Barbaro’s brother Nicanor makingdebut at Gulfstream Park [Daily News]
Image by RNHurt used under a Creative Commons license