Tag Archives: city paper

Hoot! Tackling Complexities and Pointing Out Problems.

Daniel Denvir’s City Paper article “Living on the Edge” navigates complex social issues to deliver a convincing verdict on a shortsighted policy decision. Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year would eliminate General Assistance (GA) payments. These nine-month, one-time welfare payments help to maintain Philadelphia’s system of recovery houses.

These establishments offer low-rent housing and medical assistance to recovering addicts, a significant number of whom rely on their GA payments to afford these services. There are a host of problems with many of the recovery houses, including exploitation of the recovering addicts for cheap labor, but as a whole they provide a valuable service in keeping addicts off the street and on the path to recovery.

The article argues that if GA was ended, Philadelphia would see an increase in crime.

Denvir has a difficult task ahead of him with this argument due to the complexities surrounding both drug use and welfare. The failure of many of the recovery houses to meet basic standards of accountability and effectiveness also complicates the argument. The article quotes activist organizations, government bureaucrats, recovery house owners and addicts themselves in order to paint a picture of an imperfect but necessary system.

Denvir’s most compelling argument from an economic perspective is that many of these GA recipients will wind up in jail if they can no longer pay the costs of recovery houses. And that will ultimately cost the state more than the GA program would.

Text by Brendan Clay. Image via City Paper.


Hoot! Six Sources Prove on a Trend Story (Plus Historical Context and Future Predictions).

Kudos go to Philadelphia City Paper’s John Vettese for his inquisitive and well-sourced article from Feb. 23 on the growing number of rock clubs in Center City and why that influx is occurring in 2012.

Vettese’s article makes an astute observation: besides The Trocadero, there weren’t many rock venues in or around Center City. That, according to Vettese and his sources, has resulted in fragmented audiences: “You can play a show in South Philly, and you’ll only see that crowd in South Philly,” says Goldilocks Gallery’s Matthew McDermott.

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Howl! A Failure to Dig Deeper.

In his City Paper article “Food Fight,” Isaiah Thompson reports that the city’s health department recently distributed flyers to Benjamin Franklin Parkway soup kitchen workers, inviting them to attend a meeting of the Board of Health. That board is responsible for putting city food safety rules in effect.

Thompson reports that Parkway soup kitchen organizations are leery of this recent invitation. They see it as just another attempt on the city’s part to remove the homeless from the Parkway to make the city’s Museum Row more appealing to tourism. After all, as Thompson notes, the new Barnes is opening soon.

The piece basically agrees with the soup kitchens. It even goes so far as to identify past city officials who have tried to clamp down on soup kitchens as a way of discouraging the homeless from congregating on the Parkway: former councilman Frank DiCicco and former mayors Ed Rendell and John Street.

That there may be a sinister motivation behind what the city’s health department recently did is surely tantalizing and worthy of investigation. Unfortunately, in the end, the article comes up short in its investigation. While the city insists that the board of health meeting is unrelated to cleaning up the Parkway of the homeless in time for the new Barnes, the article fails to press the question of why the meeting has to happen now. It never asks the city the question: “the board of health meeting invitation is well and good, but why now? Why issue that invitation now?”

Instead, the article merely reports that the health department’s move is to ensure the safety of the food served by soup kitchens, thereby failing to dig deeper into the story, failing to ask the city the tough questions.

Text by Charlie Chan. Image via City Paper.