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City Councilman Loves Coldplay

Late Friday afternoon, Mayor Nutter attempted to sneak the list of mayor’s box attendees at the sports complex from Oct. to the end of 2008 past everyone. Ooh, tricky tricky!

Yours truly will not fall for such Friday news dumps, however. And so I downloaded the full list of attendees. It was pretty boring, actually; just pages and pages of empty listings for Phantoms games, lots of tickets going to the Democratic City Committee and every Disney on Ice show with a box that’s completely full.

Of everything, though, this stuck out:

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Looks like Bill Green and his wife just can’t get enough of that Coldplay! Hmm. I’ll give him a pass this time, but if he’s caught attending another disappointing Brit band that’s a worse version of late U2/early Radiohead…

City Council To Vote On Verizon

If Comcast is circling the PR wagons, that can only mean one thing: Competition is coming!

And, at least in Philadelphia, what do you know: Today’s City Council meeting has just started, and today our fine public servants will vote on Verizon Fios’ entry into the city.

Though, reports the Inquirer, we won’t be sitting with faster Internet speeds and cheaper TV anytime soon:

[T]he council’s public works commission may finally decide whether to allow Verizon to offer cable television inside Philadelphia. Building the Verizon network would be a multi-year construction project.

I’m still not sure how this isn’t a done deal already, as Philadelphia is not known for needing palm-greasing or any other kind of back-scratching in order to get things done. We will have to wait and see.

City Council Calls For Day Games

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A million billion years ago (i.e., October 2007), Philadelphia City Council took time out to demand Roberto Clemente’s number for all teams. That hasn’t happened, of course, and so City Council has decided to weigh in on baseball matters again:

Councilman Jim Kenney’s resolution calls on the league to change its rules to require at least one day game during the playoffs and the World Series. This year’s series World Series games all started around 8:30 p.m. The resolution, approved by Council, said day games would ensure that “youths can share in the excitement of these games and we can preserve the next generation of baseball fans.” The resolution also noted that some games ended after midnight, meaning young fans had to go to bed not knowing the final score.

Ahh, yes, perhaps we can start the games at around 1 or 2 p.m., so our youths can share in the excitement of skipping school to watch the World’s Series!

Photo via Library of Congress

Red Light Cameras To Circle City Hall

At first, only Northeast Philly’s residents had to deal with red light cameras on the Boulevard. Now they’ve slowly been creeping around the city, collecting big fines for the state, big contracts for the red light camera companies and big campaign contributions for the politicians (from the red light camera companies).

And now they’re going to put red light cameras outside City Hall, because it will lead to instant free hilarity when a politician gets a fine in the mail and attempts to get out of it.

Councilman Jim Kenney is talking about the rampant red-light running around City Hall. He says a pedestrian could get hit: “Especially in some of the blind spots, when you step off the curb around Dilworth Plaza, and people are speeding up and you can’t see them coming until they’re right on top of you. We need to modify the behavior, and the cameras have clearly modified behavior in other parts of the city. And I think it’ll do it around City Hall.”

Yeah, cameras, the complete behavior-modification system. I can’t wait ’til they start to have these things for pedestrians. It might not happen until 2070, but there will be riots.

Next Location for Phila. Red Light Cameras: Around City Hall [KYW 1060]
Photo by functoruser used under a Creative Commons license

Latrice Bryant’s New Tactic Even More Annoying

Yes, as expected, the Fox 29 are racist story just won’t die. And, as also expected, Latrice Bryant has issued an apology for holding up signs that also said “Jeff Cole KKK.”

It’s okay, though: She didn’t apologize to Jeff Cole, just to Wilson Goode (her boss at her $90K-a-year job) and other members of City Council: “I sincerely apologize to you, to City Council President Anna Verna, to all other City Council members and staffers… and especially to all residents and taxpayers of Philadelphia.” Ooh, does that count as Jeff Cole?

Anyway, now she’s going to do what she should have done in the first place, says her lawyer in another letter:

“I agree that my client’s reaction was inappropriate. I explained to her that the appropriate response would have been to do exactly what she later did. And that was to contact an attorney who could determine whether or not Fox29’s relentless paparazzi-like conduct… was libelous and slanderous, thereby warranting the filing of a defamation lawsuit.”

Woo-hoo! Maybe she can file the lawsuit from prison, where she will soon be along with the rest of Philadelphia’s residents.

Aide to Goode issues an apology [sic, kinda] [Inquirer]

Shocking New Developments In The ‘Fox 29 Are Racist’ Case

When Latrice Bryant held up signs calling Fox 29 racist last week, who knew it would become the hottest political story since Frank Keel crashed a shark mascot’s press conference? Jeff Cole got things going with this promo while Claudia Gomez sought the commentary of Al Sharpton.

Then a newspaper columnist suggested imprisonment for a protest sign; the responses to her column are more art than commentary. thelastRepublicaninPhilly: “I can see it now; if we make the tragic mistake of electing Obama; he’ll take some advice from Goode and hire goons to keep away those pesty reporters (’just one second sweetie’). He’ll have his goons rooming around in press conferences just to make sure they ask the right questions. I know a few other countries that have socialized health care, high taxes and and restricted freedom of speech.” Djata: “It’s even funnier how this paper censors legitimate intellectual ideas.” And, finally, Philly Guy: “You can put nice suits on thugs, give them (they really don’t have to earn them) decent jobs, expect nothing from them, pay them an extremely nice salary, allow them to act like they are respectable in respectable surroundings and at the end they are what we all know they are ….. thugs. There has been this double standard where black behavior can sink to any level they want and there are no recriminations.” Comment number two, Philly Guy; that’s an impressive dedication to nonsensical racism.

And I haven’t even mentioned Bryant’s incredible Myspace page.

Today, more developments: Councilman Goode both defended and bashed the media, Chris Brennan reports. His buzzword: Media diversity — rather, the lack thereof. While he loves freedom of speech, he also didn’t like being followed around by Jeff Cole.

“For the last week, it appears as if the press doesn’t care about my mission either. But I care about my mission. I believe in freedom of the press, even with its lack of diversity. Many black elected officials would never admit it but the lack of diversity in the press is a major issue for us. In fact, many don’t feel that the freedom of speech applies equally to them.”

Councilman Goode probably has quite a few insightful things to say about being a black politician covered largely by an all-white press. Could be a fascinating conversation. Of course, though, none of this would have gotten the publicity it did had his aide not held up a sign that read, “Fox 29 are racist.” Jeff Cole goes out and annoys local powerful people almost every week. “Fox 29 Investigates” saying a Philadelphia politician and his aide are screwing the public trust isn’t going to land on the front page of the Metro section. Hell, a timesheet problem is more notable.

Jeff Cole is apparently spending his time recording awesome promos; Claudia Gomez covered Goode in City Hall today. She seems a dogged enough reporter who appears to get bumped quite easily. There’s video on Fox’s site, but the real treasure is the photo gallery, which I’ve excerpted above. Larger (~1MB) version after the jump. Deinterlace your video before taking screenshots next time, guys!

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Goode’s Aide: Fox 29 Is Racist

Do you know who Latrice Bryant is? Right. Apparently, she’s an aide to Councilman Wilson Goode. And Jeff Cole and his team of crack Fox 29 reporters have been following Bryant around for some report about “city employees slacking off on the job” or something.

Bryant, therefore, did the only sensible thing: Hold up signs during today’s City Council meeting calling Fox 29 racist. And another one that said KKK! (To be fair, Jeff Cole is known to wear white? Geeze, I dunno.)

Clout gives us the scoop:

Cole confronted Goode after Council’s session wrapped up, asking if he thought Fox29’s reporting was racist. Goode didn’t break stride as reporters rushed after him.

Cole’s questions involved videotape he says Fox29 has of Bryant, while listed as working in City Hall: a) working out in the gym and b) walking with Goode into his house with a case of beer and c) leaving Goode’s house looking as if she had spent the night there.

Goode responded that a) his employees had not been filling out their work time sheets daily, which led to mistakes that have been corrected and b) who he goes to his house with is his business and c) Cole’s question was disrespectful.

Jeff Cole is following Wilson Goode all the way to his house and seeing who he kicks back and gets drunk with? Man, this is the best thing this station has done since May.

And don’t think I didn’t notice Wilson Goode’s clever strategy: Have an aide hold up signs calling Jeff Cole racist, then when questioned about it by Cole himself, call him disrespectful. That’s a rhetorical strategy usually reserved for a blog! I am impressed.

Councilman Goode’s Aide Calls Fox29 “Racist” [Clout]

Dude In Funny Photo Indicted

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Catherine Lucey sends news that Jack Kelly’s chief of staff has been indicted, along with three local developers. The local developers did not appear in any funny photos, however, so who cares about them?

Breaking News: Council Staffer & Developers Indicted [Clout]

Who On Council Save Us From Fast Food?

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By now you may have heard about the ban on new fast food restaurants in South L.A.; although the ban is only for a year, it supporters hope to make it permanent.

Here’s the reasoning for the ban, from Slate’s Will Saletan (I’m only quoting this so I could attach the excellent caption from the Slate article, at right):

Start with the press release issued a week ago by the moratorium’s sponsor, Councilwoman Jan Perry. Its subhead says the ordinance will “help spur the development of diverse food choices.” In the second paragraph, Perry declares,

This ordinance is in no way attempting to tell people what to eat but rather responding to the need to attract sit-down restaurants, full service grocery stores, and healthy food alternatives. Ultimately, this ordinance is about providing choices—something that is currently lacking in our community.

How does blocking new fast-food outlets provide more choices? It helps local officials “attract grocery stores and restaurants to the area, by preserving existing land for these uses,” says the release. And why does the moratorium apply only to the poor part of town, around South-Central L.A.? A fellow council member explains: “The over concentration of fast food restaurants in conjunction with the lack of grocery stores places these communities in a poor situation to locate a variety of food and fresh food.” Supporters of the moratorium call this state of affairs “food apartheid.”

Okay, it’s time to do a little interactivity: Clearly, this legislation is coming to Philadelphia. But which City Council member will be the one to introduce it? My best guess would be Blondell Reynolds Brown, she of the tour guide regulation aiming to prevent hilarious tour guide lies. A buddy of mine who used to cover City Council says a majority of the ridiculous Council legislation comes out of the Northeast (no surprise), though.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if several Council members got stuck,Three Stooges-style, in a doorway in City Hall while rushing to get back to draft legislation like this.

Council bans new fast-food outlets in South L.A. [LA Times]

Heroes Try To Stop Stupid City Council Law

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Okay, it’s time to write more about my new favorite people in this city: The ones suing the city for its new law requiring tour guide licensing.

They are simply on the attack with an all-out media blitz following up on Elmer Smith’s column yesterday. There is an op-ed from an Institute for Justice lawyer in the Inquirer and another in the Daily News from one of the tour guides suing.

The writing by the I4J’s Bob McNamara is full of typical unintentionally hilarious libertarian seriousness — “This is a direct assault on fundamental American freedoms” — but makes the argument pretty clear: The government is limiting who can talk on streetcorners by imposing requirements on what they can say with a tour guide test. That’s not the reason I gave for keeping tour guides unlicensed — they tell awesome lies like, “City Tavern is where the First Continental Congress met” — but it seems to make sense.

The city can probably institute optional “factually-certified™” tour guide registration or whatever, but can’t make it mandatory. Either way this shakes out, I’m totally looking into setting up a tour where you can be sure you won’t be told one accurate thing at all.

Also, since I’ve been laughing at awful Internet comments all week — I do this all the time, but I’ve been posting some of them the past couple days — this comment on the Daily News article is awesome.

ghost stories and anecdotes are a far cry from patently false or misleading information about historical events, which I believe is the main concern here. Statements made in the course of doing one’s job are not protected by the first amendment. If I sell hot dogs and I tell my customers my hot dogs will make them taller, I’m a liar and will be fired (or lose my customers). i have no recourse under the first amendment. Your efforts should be directed at making sure the law is implemented as fairly as possible, with everyone’s best interests in mind. If you try to have the law struck down with a free speech argument you will be wasting your time.

This is also awesome: “Mike Tait is a Philadelphia tour guide who is filing a lawsuit today against the city to secure his constitutional rights.”

Photo by waffler, Creative Commons license