Monday, August 31, 2009

Frankel: Too Young To Die

At age 54, Larry Frankel was much too young to pass on.
Here's a follow up on the death of Larry Frankel from Matthew Spolar at the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Larry Frankel, who worked the halls of Harrisburg for 16 years as a civil liberties lobbyist, died Friday in Rock Creek Park in Washington. He was 54.
Relatives said he died of natural causes.
Mr. Frankel was legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania from 1992 to 2008. He was also the organization's executive director from 1996 to 2001.
In March 2008, he took a job in Washington as state legislative counsel for the ACLU, but he kept his apartment in Philadelphia.
Mr. Frankel was well known at the state Capitol, where he worked to reform the state's Right to Know Law, defeat proposed state constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage, defend voting rights, and stop plans for school vouchers.
A native of Burbank, Calif., Mr. Frankel studied comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley. He also attended the university's law school, where he met Andy Chirls, his longtime partner before their separation five months ago.
The two met in September 1978 at a seminar for law students organizing against a proposition to allow school boards to fire gay teachers. They moved to Philadelphia upon graduating in 1981; Frankel first worked in the law office of Harold Diamond before starting a solo practice.
In Harrisburg, Mr. Frankel's conviction and talent for persuasion thrived.
"He viewed his client as the Constitution of the United States," Chirls said.
In a statement, Gov. Rendell said Mr. Frankel served the people of Pennsylvania "as much as any elected official in the Commonwealth."
"I could count on Larry for his strategic insight and clever approach to advocacy, making him a pleasure to work with and a gentleman that I always wanted on my side," Rendell said.

Remembering Larry Frankel

Back on March 21, 2008 I wrote this about Larry Frankel:
We had a wonderful time at the Duane Morris law firm in Philadelphia last night at a reception for Philadelphia lawyer Larry Frankel who has joined the National ACLU staff in Washington DC as State Legislative Liaison. Larry Frankel represented the ACLU of Pennsylvania for 16 years, as Legislative Director and Executive Director. During that time he earned the respect of legislators from both sides of the aisle as he played a pivotal role in legislation concerning many important issues. There is no doubt that Larry's work has made a profound difference in the lives of ordinary citizens. We saw many dear friends at the reception including former Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellors Abe Reich, Alan Feldman, Andy Chirls and Jane Leslie Dalton. Also on hand were Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission Chair Stephen Alan Glassman, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts Executive Director Lynn Marks, Philadelphia Bar Association Communications Director Mark Tarasiewicz, University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Lou Rulli, Blank Rome Human Resources Specialist Cory Watson, Support Center for Child Advocates Director Frank Cervone and David M. Rosenblum who now works as an attorney for the State of New Jersey.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

ACLU Confirms Frankel Death

From the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
It is with great sadness that the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania marks the passing of Larry Frankel, who served as Legislative Director to the organization from 1992 through 2008 and Executive Director from 1996 to 2001. At the time of his death, Larry was the State Legislative Counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in its Washington Legislative Office.
"There is a tear in the fabric of the ACLU of PA family. We have lost a dear friend, a skilled strategist, and a passionate fighter for civil liberties. And on top of those superlatives, Larry possessed a wit sharper than any saber and could make us all laugh," said Nancy Hopkins, Executive Director of the ACLU of PA.
An incredibly savvy tactician, Larry wore the title of lobbyist proudly. He worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to further the cause of civil rights and civil liberties for all Pennsylvanians. He was a passionate champion of a woman's right to choose, LGBT rights, privacy, and the rights of those largely ignored by society, including prisoners and immigrants.
In a field better known for bitter divisiveness, Larry brought together legislators and organizations from across the political spectrum. During his career, he worked in coalition with allies as diverse as prosecutors, defense attorneys, the faith community, business leaders, unions, gun-rights advocates, and immigration activists, among many others. He commanded the respect of all who knew him, even those who vehemently disagreed with the ACLU.
"He was so effective without money, without a PAC, and with only moral persuasion. He had so much integrity and honesty. You could rely on him to tell you the truth, even if it hurt his cause," said State Representative Babette Josephs, a longtime friend and colleague.
In addition to his successes in the legislature, Larry devoted considerable time to mentoring the next generation of civil libertarians and always had time to provide advice and moral support to his colleagues. Despite leaving the ACLU of Pennsylvania in 2008, he continued to stay in close contact with staff, providing invaluable insight.
"I've lost my mentor, but more importantly, justice has lost a friend. Thousands of Pennsylvanians were positively impacted by the work Larry did, and most of them never knew him or even knew his name," said Andy Hoover, current Legislative Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, who worked closely with Larry over the past four and a half years.
Larry's many achievements during his years in Harrisburg included advocating for reform to the state's Right to Know Law; defeating efforts to amend the state constitution to ban same sex marriage and other benefits for same sex couples; advocating for changes to the commonwealth's jury selection law to allow a greater pool of people to serve; defeating efforts to disenfranchise thousands of Pennsylvania voters through photo ID requirements and through bans on voting rights for former offenders; and stopping an effort to introduce school vouchers in Pennsylvania in the 1990s. Larry also served on the legislature's advisory committee on geriatric and seriously ill prisoners.
Larry was a native Californian and attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied comparative literature. He received his law degree from Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley in 1981. He is survived by his father, two brothers, a sister, his former longtime partner Andy Chirls, and many, many friends.
The family requests that donations be made to: American Civil Liberties Foundation P.O. Box 40008, Philadelphia, PA 19106 or the Fairmount Park Conservancy, 1617 JFK Blvd., Suite 1670, Philadelphia, PA 19103. The Philadelphia Horticultural Society will work with Fairmount Park to create and maintain a garden or grove.
Plans for a memorial service in Philadelphia will be announced shortly.

Summer's Not Over!

Repeat after me:
The whole notion that summer begins on Memorial Day and end on Labor Day is something that was dreamed up by the media and/or the travel industry. And it's a lie.
Because the calendar (and the seasons themselves) tell a whole different story.
May is often cool and transitional. And so is much of June.
Summer begins at the summer solstice on June 21.
And autumn begins at the autumnal equinox on September 22.
June 21 is the longest day of daylight.
September 22 is a day when the hours of daylight and darkness are about equal. Thus, the equinox.
After September, darkness begins to take over and it remains that away until December 21 which is the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight. Each day after that, we get more sunlight until the vernal equinox in March -- the first day of spring.
That's the cycle of the seasons.
We have many warm, wonderful days ahead of us.
So, go out and enjoy summer until at least September 22.
And don't let anyone tell you it's over!

Mark Mendel: A Giant Remembered

That's what we called him.
And that's the way he signed many of his memos.
He was a bigger-than-life figure in every way. One of the last of the rugged individuals. One of the last giants. He seemed absolutely indestructible.
His large frame, booming voice, quick mind and ready wit made him formidable. But he could be very gentle and kind as well. He was unique.
He was M. Mark Mendel, a Philadelphia lawyer wrought large.
He took great pride in the title "Philadelphia lawyer" and he carried himself and conducted himself with that same degree of pride. He represented a place and a time when people were "just as they are" and were comfortable with that; no masks, no pretenses.
He was bold where others were meek, daring where others were cowardly, clear where others were duplicitous, loyal and steadfast where others were others were tentative and strong where others were weak.
Somewhere, somewhere his voice is booming and bellowing right now and other souls are running for cover. But they will soon learn to listen and to embrace him.
He will be greatly missed.
From Michael Matza at the Philadelphia Inquirer:
M. Mark Mendel, 80, the combative, fiercely mustached Philadelphia litigator whom friends recalled as "larger than life" - a la Zorba the Greek - died at his home in Radnor yesterday of complications from long battles with failing kidneys and heart disease. A specialist in medical-malpractice and public-utilities law, Mr. Mendel also is remembered for his role as the plaintiff's attorney in a 17-year-long libel case that pitted Philadelphia Magazine against a former New Jersey nightclub owner who claimed the magazine, in a 1971 article, falsely portrayed him as a cocaine dealer. As the case wore on, the defense, in its appeal of the $7 million judgment against the magazine, claimed that Mr. Mendel had out-of-court contact with the trial judge. Although battered for a time by negative publicity surrounding the accusation - and an appeals court decision that overturned the judgment - Mr. Mendel eventually was exonerated, said his friend, lawyer Dennis J. Cogan, who took Mr. Mendel's place as plaintiff's counsel. Ultimately, the case was settled in 1988 for an undisclosed sum on the eve of a second trial. "If you were in trouble or needed something, Mark could be the dearest friend a person could have," Cogan said yesterday. "But you didn't want to be his enemy." Mr. Mendel was born in Schwabisch-Gmund, Germany, near Stuttgart, and narrowly escaped the Holocaust: He came to the United States with his parents and sister, Sigrid, in 1939. Cogan said Mr. Mendel was about 10 when the family prepared to exit Germany. At the border, he wore a watch that was a gift from an aunt, but a German official, possibly an SS officer, ripped the watch off the boy's arm. The incident, Cogan said, planted the seeds of his future toughness. "He said he was frightened that day," Cogan said. "He was ashamed that he was scared; he resolved that he would never be frightened again." Mr. Mendel was active in city government, in bar association affairs, and as a booster for his beloved alma maters, Northeast High School and Temple University. He was a big man - 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounds - whose love of sports rivaled his appetite for fine food, said Susan Smolen, 63, his companion of six years. Smolen, who donated a kidney to Mr. Mendel in 2006, said she was constantly amazed by his stamina. An expert skier, he loved to give lessons when he went to Aspen, she recalled. He raised money for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team. He was a life member the Temple University Varsity Club, and a trustee of the Pop Warner Football League. "He was a wild man," she said. "He was driven."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Favoritre Dining Spots, Attractions

We've been visiting a number of our favorite dining spots, museums and other attractions recently and it's a pleasure to tell you about them:

Devon Seafood Grill
- Well established among a fine selection of Rittenhouse Square restaurants, Philadelphia's Devon Seafood Grill offers fresh premium seafood, an impressive wine cellar and handcrafted, signature cocktails mixed by bar chefs well practiced in the art of mixology. We enjoyed fresh martinis, calamari, and a variety of entrees including fresh, flaky halibut, swordfish, salmon and cioppino. The famous sweet biscuits here are out of this world. And the key lime pie is the best you'll find anywhere. The service is seamless and the inviting, upscale casual atmosphere truly sets Devon apart from many other Philadelphia restaurants. And the prices are appealing as well. This is a real winner!

Delaware Art Museum [pictured] - We journeyed down I-95 to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington to view two great shows: Exposed! Revealing Sources In Contemporary Art and Ellen B. T. Pyle, Illustrating Her World. These two exhibitions were as different as they can be but both were fascinating and illuminating.
Ellen Bernard Thompson Pyle (1876-1936) was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
She studied art at the Drexel Institute, and she was one of the few female students invited to study illustration at Howard Pyle’s Chadds Ford summer school.
She married Pyle’s brother Walter in 1904. She was a prolific illustrator during the 1920s, famous especially for her 40 covers for The Saturday Evening Post. Her recognizable style drew acclaim from around the country.
She receives the first overview of her career in this exhibition of approximately 50 works.
Exposed! explores artistic strategies of quotation and appropriation. The featured works present various relationships to their sources, from respectful homage to cultural critique.
The exhibition includes works of art by Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, Robert Colescott, Grace Hartigan, Ellen Gallagher, and Glenn Ligon, among others.
Some pieces are from the Delaware Art Museum’s collection, and some are on loan from private collections.
Pyle runs through January 3 while Exposed! runs through October 4.

Maggiano's Cherry Hill - We visited the new Maggiano's Little Italy at the Cherry Hill Mall and were very pleased with our luncheon slections. This is a big, splashy, spacious Maggiano's and we hear it's already one of the most successful spots in the Maggiano's chain.
A huge bar serves tasty adult beverages and though the luncheon and dinner entrees here are always plentiful you can also order smaller portions if you'd like.
And now Maggiano's Cherry Hill is offering a family Character Brunch with Dora, Diego, Elmo, Sponge Bob and more. Join them for Sunday Brunch September 13th from 10 am to 1 pm. They'll feature Music, Games, Face Painting, and Balloon Creations, complemented by Maggiano's Buffet Brunch! For Details or Reservations, call BonBon's Parties and Events, 856-701-8734.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Teddy: A Sobering Assessment

The hagiography of Edward M. Kennedy began early Wednesday morning after the news that the "Lion of the Senate," the "greatest senator ever" and "the brother who mattered most," had taken his last breath in Hyannisport, Mass.
There will be days of public mourning, hours of TV devoted to his accomplishments, testimonials to his service, reminiscences about his humor and kindness and praise for the dignity with which he exited the stage he'd dominated for almost 50 years.
To read the rest of Christine Flowers' column in today's Philadelphia Daily news, click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Contact Blue Dog Democrats!

With liberal Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, the self-styled moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Democrats have the power to curtail the excesses of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda.
Human Events has posted the list of Blue Dog Democrats that you need to contact NOW!
These are the more moderate Democrats that MAY vote against Obamacare if we can win them over.
CLICK HERE for the complete list.
You will find all of the names, e-mails and phone numbers.
Contact as many of them as you can. Tell them: "Hands off my health care!"
here's a good idea: Divide up the list with a few friends and call them all!
Don't delay. Do it now. Keep those phones ringin and keep those e-mails comin!

Don't Politicize Kennedy Death

Have Democrats learned their lesson?
Have they learned not to politicize the death of a famous liberal Senator?
Or will they make the same mistake that they made in 2002?
In 2002, after the tragic death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone [pictured] the Democrats turned his memorial service into a kind of campaign rally.
The 20,000-capacity memorial service for Wellstone and the was held in Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota and was broadcast live on national TV.
Many high profile politicians attended the memorial, including former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore, and more than half of the U.S. Senate.
The Bush White House offered to send Vice-President Dick Cheney to the service, but the Wellstone family declined.
The nation watched in horror as the service for Wellstone took on all the trapping of a political convention.
Republican members of Congress who attended the service eventually became so disturbed by the tone of the speeches and the vitriol of some of the "eulogies" that they felt compelled to leave.
It was sad moment, but not in the way that we associate with memorial services.
It was sad moment for the Democrat Party and for America. It was stupid and disrespectful.
And the whole thing boomeranged, costing the Democrats congressional seats and setting back the party's agenda?
Have the Democrats learned their lesson?
Stay tuned. Listen carefully. Watch closely.
We are about to find out.

Obama: The New Kennedy Brother?

Yesterday, on radio and television MSNBC's Chris Matthews (aka "Aunt Blabby") wasted no time in proclaiming President Barack Obama "the last Kennedy brother."
Isn't it interesting: Now that all of the Kennedy brothers have gone and can no longer speak for themselves Matthews has decided that he will speak for them.
Matthews says that Ted Kennedy handed the "ball over" to Obama before he died. He claims that Teddy passed the torch of Camelot not to a member of his own family but to President Obama.
Well, it's true that Kennedy supported Obama for the Presidency.
But other members of the Kennedy family publicly broke with Teddy and supported Hillary Clinton.
Let's get this straight: There is no Camelot. The Kennedys do not preside over a kingdom; they do not rule via a bloodline and they cannot automatically transfer their rule or whatever presumed powers they have either to members of their own family or anyone else.
We don't live in a monarchy.
And our President is not a King.
And one other thing: It's time for Chris Matthews to shut up!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Corzine Hides Enron Connection

As New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine continues to express his commitment to ethics, the citizens of New Jersey are waiting for him to set the record straight about his role lobbying for off-shore tax havens for Enron.
Governor Corzine must release the letter he sent to President Bill Clinton asking him to protect the tax loophole that allowed Enron to hide billions in debt, which led to the company's failure and a $61 million loss to the New Jersey pension fund. New Jersey needs to know where Governor Corzine's priorities lie.
It is time to come clean.

I Met JFK, Bobby, Teddy

I met all three Kennedy brothers.
I met Jack in 1960 at a Democrat Party dinner in Camden, New Jersey. The event was held at the old Camden Convention Hall (since demolished) on Haddon Avenue.
Then, in 1968 I met Bobby at a campaign rally, again in Camden, again at Convention Hall.

In 1972 I met Teddy at a Democrat Party event in Cherry Hill at the old Latin Casino.

My impressions? Jack was the most charismatic; Bobby
the most intense and Teddy the most gregarious and outgoing.
Teddy was an old-fashioned politician, a backslapper who loved the crowds and the personalities.
He was very much in the image of his grandfather, "Honey Fitz," (John F. Fitzgerald) who served as Mayor of Boston. Ted was jovial and engaging and I suppose that's why he was able to reach out to Republicans and accomplish so much in the Senate.

My favorite of the three? Probably JFK. He certainly left the greatest impression on me.

What made Jack so intriguing was that he was unfinished. And I suspect he would have remained unfinished even if he had lived. By that I mean that he always held a part of himself back. And that, after all is the true nature of charisma.

Bobby was the scrapper -- not as big as his brothers but nonetheless determined. He was the fighter and the poet who was able to spar with the best of them and then dazzle us with great flashes of understanding and compassion.
They each had their triumphs and their flaws.
They remain vivid figures on the American landscape.
BTW: The photo that you see here is one that I took of JFK in 1960.

Contact Blue Dog Democrats!

With liberal Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, the self-styled moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Democrats have the power to curtail the excesses of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda.
Human Events has posted the list of Blue Dog Democrats that you need to contact NOW!
These are the more moderate Democrats that MAY vote against Obamacare if we can win them over.
CLICK HERE for the complete list.
You will find all of the names, e-mails and phone numbers.
Contact as many of them as you can. Tell them: "Hands off my health care!"
Don't delay. Do it now. Keep those phones ringin and keep those e-mails comin!

Cheyney: Intelligence Saved Lives

Statement from Vice President Cheney:
The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda.
This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002.
The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions.
President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blast Pallone On Obamacare

Monmouth County (NJ) Republican Chairman Joseph Oxley called on 6th Congressional District residents to speak out against Congressman Frank Pallone’s plan to raise taxes while cutting health care services for Americans.
“In a televised interview, Frank Pallone recently revealed his and the liberal Democrats’ plan for healthcare of higher taxes and cuts to doctors, nurses and hospitals,” said Oxley. “Frank Pallone is out of touch with New Jersey families. He wants us to pay more for less coverage. It’s vital that citizens speak out against this disastrous scheme for the American healthcare system.”
Frank Pallone is holding a town hall meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, August 25) at the Red Bank Middle School, 101 Harding Road, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
The Monmouth County Republicans recently launched an internet video criticizing Pallone’s position and urging citizens to let their voices be heard. The video can be viewed at

GOP To Corzine: Disclose All

New Jersey Republican State Committee Chairman Jay Webber today issued the following statement calling on Governor Corzine to heed his own calls for transparency and disclose all information and documentation relating to his lobbying activity undertaken while serving as an executive at Goldman Sachs:
"After failing to make good on his promises to be fully transparent with New Jersey's finances, Governor Corzine finds himself with his back to the wall in this campaign and has suddenly rediscovered his interest in disclosure. The governor should follow his own calls for disclosure and immediately release all of his activities in lobbying the Clinton Administration to change its position toward Monthly Income Preferred Shares (MIPS). The taxpayers deserve an explanation of Governor Corzine's full-court press lobbying activities that benefitted him personally as an executive at Goldman Sachs. Just as importantly, Governor Corzine needs to explain the way in which he affected federal tax law to protect the benefits he enjoyed."

Harry Kalas' Final Stop

You can find Harry Kalas' final resting place at Philadelphia's beautiful Laurel Hill Cemetery.
The grave of the Phillies' legendary broadcaster sits high, overlooking Fairmount Park and the Schuylkill River. It's an incredible setting for the inimitable Kalas who was so much a part of the lives of so many Philadelphians.
A final stone memorial is not yet in place but Harry's grave is decorated with a large Phillies logo and American flags and keepsakes that have been left there by fans.
At Laurel Hill’s entrance, Harry Kalas’ family has left a guestbook for his fans and visitors of the cemetery to sign and leave comments.
There are many significant graves at Laurel Hill and the entire property is worth a trip since a cellphone tour is available and it's free.
The stories of those buried at Laurel Hill are fascinating and the views are absolutely breathtaking at any time of the year.
You can find out more about Laurel Hill by clicking here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bonaduce Filimg On Jeweler's Row

Former child star Danny Bonaduce is at Robbins 8th and Walnut on Jewelers Row in Philly right now.
He looks exactly as you'd expect him to look - just like you see him on TV.
He's reportedly filming a reality show at Robbins with owner, Bernie Robbins (the guy with the diamond in his beard).
Danny is recreating a scene where he buys his engagement ring for his fiance, Amy Railsback.
Bonaduce is busy acting out the scene (looking at diamonds, discussing the purchase, getting the ring wrapped, etc.) again and again.
Between takes, he's also spending a good deal of time out front talking with passers-by on Walnut St. He's quite amiable. But it's a very hot day so outdoor schmoozing time is limited.
His motorcycle (a Very Big Bike) is parked outside.
A native of Broomal, Danny has always had strong ties to the Philadelphia area and is now heard on FM 94, WYSP radio every day.

Cozine's 'Boast' On Jobless Rate

Following the release of new unemployment numbers for the state, Governor Jon Corzine yesterday sent off a self-congratulatory email about New Jersey's economy.
Corzine's cause for celebration was the 9.3% unemployment cited in the report - he even went as far as calling this "real progress for New Jersey."
Governor Corzine has twisted words and facts and performed so many rhetorical gymnastics in the past weeks, there's no telling whether he believes he "prevented" the economic downturn, or that the ditch of 9.3% unemployment he's driven our state into is "real progress."
There are some things we know for sure - Governor Corzine is out of touch with New Jersey families who are struggling through the higher property taxes, higher sales taxes, and higher fees he has burdened them with. The only "real progress" that's been made is in moving New Jersey closer to putting the failed governorship of Jon Corzine behind it.
And the only way to do that is to elect Chris Christie Governor.
New Jersey is broken. Chris Christie will fix it.

Aimee Cirucci Featured Nationally!

From Rachel Zupek at Career Builder:
For many workers, finding a balance between personal and professional commitments is a constant battle. In a March 2009 CareerBuilder survey of more than 8,000 workers, only 13 percent said they were very satisfied with their work/life balance. Fifteen percent said they were dissatisfied.

Between work, family, friends and all of life's little extras, it often seems there are just not enough hours in the day. So what happens when you add to going to school in the equation? Today's economy has many people returning to school in lieu of working full time, while others have chosen to enhance their education to make themselves more marketable to employers.
In the same CareerBuilder survey, 21 percent of workers said they were going to school to make themselves more viable for employers. Of that group, 7 percent go to school full time, 3 percent attend part time and 5 percent take classes online.
Have you toyed with the idea of going back to school, but didn't think you could? Here are 10 stories from workers who thought they didn't have time for school and how they made it work.

Aimee Cirucci, writer/editor/public relations specialist
After seven years working in various marketing communications jobs, I quit my job, sold my home and, at age 29, moved back in with my parents for six months while I found work and made my dream of going back to school for a graduate degree a reality. I wish I hadn't let seven years pass thinking this wasn't possible. I am currently finishing up an MS in communication management. I received a teaching assistantship that covered one year of my education and discovered a deep love of university teaching. I applied and was accepted to the Ph.D. program and will likely begin in 2010. I really do think that if you leap, a net will appear -- for me it has completely been the case. The hard part is just getting the courage to take that leap. . . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


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That's 7,000 page views every month.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Christie, Guadagno In Cherry Hill

Few candidates have spent more time in South Jersey than gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie.
Chris cares about South Jersey. He knows South Jersey. And he understands South Jersey because he's been here and he's invested time listening to the people of South Jersey. He knows how upset we are about property taxes, runaway state spending, big state deficits, mismanagement of the state government and rampant corruption.
Chris Christie and running mate Kim Guadagno came to Cherry Hill again today and met with a room full of mostly senior citizens at the Grand Apartments just off Route 70.
After a week off the campaign trail for a family vacation at the Jersey shore Chris looked tan and rested. He was sharp and refreshed.
Chris and Kim received a very warm welcome from the audience.
GOP candidates in Camden County have already knocked on 7,000 doors and their phone volunteers have made thousands of calls.
Here's what they tell me: People are angry - very angry.
They're angry about property taxes, reckless spending and corruption.
And they're angry at Jon Corzine and his cronies.
Still, it won't be easy to dislodge an entrenched Democrat machine.
Chris and Kim know this.
That's why they're working tireless to get their message across.

Chris In Cherry Hill Today

Chris Christie and Sheriff Kim Guadagno will visit senior communities in Cherry Hill and West Windsor today (Tuesday) to discuss the struggles facing New Jersey's seniors and their families because of Governor Corzine's failed economic policies.
Tuesday, August 18th:

WHO: Chris Christie
Sheriff Kim Guadagno
WHAT: Community Meeting At Grand Apartments
WHEN: 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Grand Apartments
Community Room of Tower 2
1900 Frontage Road - Fronting Route 295 at Route 70 in the former Landmark Apartments.

WHO: Chris Christie
Sheriff Kim Guadagno
WHAT: Community Meeting at the Village Grande Clubhouse
WHEN: 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Village Grande Clubhouse
100 Grande Boulevard

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blog Welcomes The World

Among our 100 most recent visitors we count people from twelve different countries: Australia, Canada, England, Greece, Korea, Germany, Italy, Romania, Belgium, France, India, and Malaysia.
We welcome the entire world!
Thanks for visiting.
Keep returning - and bring your friends!

A Picture Perfect Wedding

Over the weekend we journeyed to a picturesque village in the sky for the wedding of Kristi Lee Lake and Charles Spencer Cooper at All Souls Church in Tannersville, New York.
A beautiful reception followed at the classic Onteora Club Field House high in the Catskill Mountains.
Kristi is best friends with Aimee Cirucci. The two of them (pictured) attended Wake Forest University together. She is also the daughter of our friends Don and Doris Lake of Frederick, Maryland.
Both Kristi and Charles live on Capital Hill and work in Washington. Charles is a key Republican staffer on the House side and Kristi works for a pharmaceutical company.
Kristi and Charles (pictured) are a wonderful couple and they were joined for a joyful weekend in Tannersville surrounded by many dear friends and family members.
The weather was perfect and the weekend proceeded without a hitch.
The views and the colors from every angle were stunning.
Kristi and Charles are now off to Bella Italia for their honeymoon.

CPK: From Beverly Hills To Cherry Hill!

My best guess is that it was in the early 1990s.
My wife and I were attending a convention in San Francisco and a bright, airy casual dining spot caught our eye. The vivid yellow and black logo, sleek interior, cool lighting and busy atmosphere pulled us in.
There, amidst a wonderfully clean, streamlined and friendly environment we discovered an innovative menu and one of the finest thin crust pizzas we had ever tasted.
Over the years, each time we returned to Los Angeles, San Diego or the Bay Area we went back to California Pizza Kitchen (CPK).
The first CPK opened in Beverly Hills in 1985 and now there are more than 230 CPKs in 32 states and nine countries.
Today, finally this Beverly Hills sensation comes to Cherry Hill at the Cherry Hill Mall.
We wanna say: "CPK, what took you so long?"
But no matter. We love having CPK here.
Over the weekend we had an advance sneak peek at CPK and we can tell you that its about more than just pizza. But yes, the thin crust pizzas in every possible combination are still great.
We started with a toast of Chardonnay and then moved on to light and delicious Cabo Crab Cake appetizers. For our main course we delighted in the original Margherita Pizza and the Asparagus and Spinach Spaghettini (pictured). We gotta tell ya: The spaghettini rivals any pasta dish we've tasted anywhere. And since "pizza" is this restaurant's middle name we need say no more about the pizza.
We ended our meal with coffee and a sinfully, super-moist Red Velvet Cake.
CPK Cherry Hill features the chain's traditional tan and brown colors with the distinctive splash of yellow at the brightly tiled kitchen and counter area centered around a wood burning pizza oven. And there's plenty of outdoor dining as well. BTW: The service is excellent with a knowledgeable staff dressed in black and white.
You can find CPK at the Mall's restaurant row fronting Route 38 right next to Macy's
This is a wonderful new addition to the local restaurant scene and we want to shout about it to everyone.
"Go, go, go, CPK!"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Woodstock: Exclusive Photos Now

When young people ask me about the 1960s I have a standard answer: I was young. I was there. And I pretty much did everything that young people did at that time.
I lived it. And yes, I loved it.
It was an exciting time to be alive and to care about politics, personalities, the environment and the world.
It was a time of high creativity. And it was an age of experimentation.
I joined in the causes. I marched in the marches. And I did my share of experimenting.
It's just that I don't like to talk about it all the time because I've moved on and I don't like to live in the past.
Though I was not at Woodstock I did see Joan Baez and Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger and Judy Collins and Peter, Paul and Mary and Phil Ochs and many others in person and I cheered them on. And I got to meet both Jack and Bobby Kennedey (as well as Gene McCarthy and Hubert Humphrey) and was at the 1968 Democratic National Convention as a McCarthy volunteer.
But it's done. And it's over. And though much of what happened in the 60s may have been historic, much was also romanticized and blown all out of proportion. And all of it was thrown together. So, we have no way of knowing just how significant it was.
Only history can be the judge of that.
I do know that the Sixties Generation did not change the world. Our dreams were not fulfilled. In many ways, we failed.
And some of the dreams were quite wacky in the first place so I suppose it's OK.
But we were young and we believed and it was wonderful to be young and to be part of it. And I still believe in dreams.
Anyway, today we drove to Woodstock.
The little village of Woodstock is now a kitschy, largely commercialized shrine to an event that actually happened on farmland two hours away from Woodstock. The event simply came to be know as Woodstock because it captured the spirit of this village -- a place that has always attracted musicians and artists. And many of those who played at the Woodstock festival lived in Woodstock.
But to walk around the place now is to see part of one's life reduced to schlock. It's sort of funny and sad at the same time.
Still, the surrounding environment is breathtaking and how can you not like a cozy village nestled amidst the trees, sunflowers and mountains?
Even with all the "junque", it remains picturesque and captivating.
And I suppose we may as well enjoy it while those of us who lived it are still around.
So, here's to Woodstock and To Life!

NJ: More Bad Economic News!

New data reveals a harsh reality for New Jersey families.
Instead of foreclosure filings falling over the last six months, they have actually risen by more 30 percent and "the number of homeowners in trouble in New Jersey has been soaring" (Lisa Fleisher, "N.J. foreclosures rise 31 percent during first half of year," The Star-Ledger, 08/13/09).
The latest report outlines what Governor Jon Corzine was too out of touch to realize a month ago because he was so busy patting himself on the back: New Jerseyans in cities and towns throughout our state are under tremendous pressure to make ends meet. These new numbers should not come as a surprise for someone with Jon Corzine's financial background. Earlier this year, home foreclosure filings in New Jersey jumped 40 percent from February to March indicating, along with the rising state unemployment rate, serious trouble for New Jersey homeowners (Lisa Fleisher, "N.J. foreclosures start ticking up again in March," The Star-Ledger, 04/16/09).
New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie stated: "What will it take for Governor Corzine to wake up and realize that New Jerseyans are struggling to keep their homes and provide for their families? He believes his policies have actually prevented the economic downturn and now has failed to ask serious questions about why there has been such a jump in home foreclosures in the last six months.
"The reality is that under Governor Corzine's leadership New Jersey has the highest tax burden in the country, the highest unemployment in 32 years and has now just experienced a 31% increase in the number of foreclosures in the last six months. Governor Corzine can ignore the economic reality for as long as he wants, but his political pandering doesn't make it any easier for families to put food on the table, send their kids to school or stay in their homes."

We're At Woodstock!

Believe it: We're just a stone's throw from Woodstock, NY.
The days have been sunny with blue skies and the evenings have been crisp and beautiful here with a dazzling galaxy of stars in the sky.
The mountains make for a perfect backdrop to this most scenic setting.
And today we'll be in Woodstock.
But no, we're not here to commemorate the anniversary of anything and we're certainly not here because of that event in 1969. We didn't come to Woodstock for that then and that's not why we're here in the Woodstock area now.
This is not to say that we wouldn't have attended that event in 1969.
We probably would have if only we had known it would have been so eventful. But, at the time, who knew?
No, we're here for an event that's very much of the here and now.
Our reason for being here is not about then, it's about now - and about the future, not the past.
We're here because of tomorrow, not yesterday. We're here because of new beginnings, because of all that's worth looking forward to.
So, that should give you lots to think about; or at least give you a hint as to why we're here.
You figure it out.
We'll tell you more in an upcoming blog.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blog, Columns Soar: Thanks!

Yesterday, our column, "It's Only A Game" was the most-read opinion piece on the Philadelphia Daily News web site. We thank you for making that happen!
The column was also circulated on the national blog. Thanks!
And the column generated plenty of comment at the Daily News and at Lucianne.
What's more, our blog continues to grow and now approaches 60,000 visitors. And we are attracting vsitors from all over the world.
If you haven't yet read "It's Only A Game" you can read it by clicking here.

Contact Blue Dog Democrats

With liberal Democrats in control of both houses of Congress, the self-styled moderate-to-conservative Blue Dog Democrats have the power to curtail the excesses of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda.
Human Events has posted the list of Blue Dog Democrats that you need to contact NOW!
These are the more moderate Democrats that MAY vote against Obamacare if we can win them over.
CLICK HERE for the complete list.
You will find all of the names, e-mails and phone numbers.
Contact as many of them as you can. Tell them: "Hands off my health care!"
Don't delay. Do it now. Keep those phones ringin and keep those e-mails comin!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jersey Stiffed On Stimulus

New Jersey Senator Robert Singer, Senate Republican Caucus Leader, called on Governor Corzine and United State Senators Menendez and Lautenberg and an investigation and reconsideration of $1 billion of federal economic stimulus grants awarded to police departments throughout the country. On July 28, Vice President Joe Biden announced grant recipients and indicated that only 18 of approximately 300 local governments in New Jersey that spent time and money applying for grants received any funding.
The $1 billion was provided by federal taxpayers through the federal stimulus appropriation (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, P.L.111-5). The funding was to be provided directly to law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire career law enforcement officers in an effort to create and preserve jobs and increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.
According to the IRS data, New Jersey taxpayers pay about 4.5% of all federal tax revenue, so New Jersey taxpayers had to pay about $45 million towards the $1 billion in grants. However, New Jersey only received $26 million of its taxpayers' money back.
In comparison, Ohio taxpayers pay less than 4% of all federal tax revenue, so their taxpayers had to pay less than $40 million towards the $1 billion in grants. However, Ohio received almost twice what it sent to Washington.
In other words, the program took money out of New Jersey and sent it to other States, thereby further weakening our economy.
In Senator Singer's District, 8 towns applied for grants and received no money (Allentown, Bordentown, Fieldsboro, Howell, Jackson, Lakewood, Plumstead, and Robbinsville).
"Our United States Senators need to speak up, and forcefully, about how poorly New Jersey is being treated by our federal government when it comes to stimulus funding out of Washington."

Yo, Fans: It's Just A Game!

It happened more years ago than I care to remember. It was stressful. It was ugly. And I swore I'd never let it happen again.
The Phillies were battling the Dodgers for the National League title. The pivotal game went into extra innings with the Dodgers' winning run at second. A fly ball, the L.A. sun, an error, the agility of the Dodgers' Ron Cey and the fates combined to hand the game, series and the championship to the dreaded Dodgers.
I shouted. I screamed. I threw things. I nearly lost my voice. And by the time it was over, I was actually sick to my stomach.
To read the rest of my column from today's Philadelphia Daily News click here.

Moose: World's Cutest Dog!

Good morning, everybody!
I'm Moose.
Please vote for me in the world's cutest dog contest by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Let Passionate Voices Speak!

I want to know: What's wrong with citizens giving public officials hell?
What's wrong with taxpayers raising their voices to elected officials?
What's wrong with ordinary people (seniors, taxpayers, vets, moms) coming out to meetings and speaking their minds?
What's wrong with afflicting the powerful?
What's wrong with challenging authority and being passionate about it?
What's wrong with passion?
Would we rather have a citizenry that's laconic, disconnected, apathetic? Is that what we want?
That's not America.
Our founders were passionate people. They cared. And the movement that created this nation was neither quiet nor particularly well-behaved.
Look at some of the trailblazing figures of American history: Patrick Henry, Ethan Allen, John Brown, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, W. E. B DuBois, A Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, Samuel Gompers, John L. Lewis, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Harvey Milk. These people were not particularly docile. They were vocal. They challenged authority. And they were often disruptive.
Even many of our leaders have been rambunctious: Andrew Jackson, William Jennings Bryan, Theodore Roosevelt, General Patton, General MacArthur, Barry Goldwater.
Harry Truman gave 'em hell and he became an American hero.
And Ronald Reagan was considered a dim-witted novice and a tool of special interests before he and his ideas began to catch on.
Yes, the anti-war movement, the environmental movement, the women's movement and the civil rights movement have all embraced passionate, vocal and sustained challenges to the powers that be.
I know; I marched in those civil rights and anti-war marches and I shouted down a few opponents myself. I was there at the Poor People's Campaign and the Days of Rage. It's called free speech. The First Amendment embraces it.
And at the other end of the spectrum, the modern conservative movement upset the sleepy, dispassionate, country-club mentality of the Republican Party to unleash a cause that led to the triumph of capitalism and the end of communism. That was ignited by free speech, too.
None of it was quiet.
All of it was noisy.
Much of it was disruptive.
The people, the system, the nation can handle it.
Let all be heard.
God bless America!

Corzine's Tweets: Dreamland!

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine should be careful what he tweets.

Yesterday, he boasted that his financial experience prevented this economic downturn.

Given the dire state of New Jersey's economy and Governor Corzine's role presiding over increasingly bloated budgets, it is offensive for him to flat out ignore the serious economic problems facing our state.

New Jersey's unemployment rate has gone from 4.8% at the beginning of Corzine's term to 9.2% today. (Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, Accessed: 07/16/09)

New Jersey's unemployment rate is the highest it has been in 32 years. (Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, Accessed: 07/16/09)

From December 2008 to May 2009, the average monthly drop was 16,000 New Jersey jobs. (Press Release, "New Jersey Employment Declined in May by 6200 Jobs," New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 06/17/09)

Jon Corzine will leave FY2011 with an $8 billion deficit. (Josh Margolin, "N.J. short $8 billion, report say," The Star-Ledger, 07/22/2009)

New Jersey ranks first in the nation in overall tax burden - a position it's held three years running. (The Tax Foundation Website,, Accessed: 07/08/09)

New Jersey property taxes have risen almost 55% in 7 years - twice the rate of inflation. (Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services Website,, Accessed 6/4/09)

Governor Corzine's 2010 budget raises taxes by another $1.2 billion.

(FY 2010 Budget)

Toomey: Obamacare 'Extremism'

The negative reaction Senator Arlen Specter received yesterday at a town hall meeting on health care in Lebanon, PA is a demonstration of the growing frustration and concern shared by taxpayers across Pennsylvania.
“The health care plan Senator Specter supports reflects the kind of political extremism that results from complete Democratic control of Washington,” said U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey. “Arlen Specter is giving the Democrats in Congress a blank check that will take us down the wrong path.”
“People across Pennsylvania have real concerns about the cost and intrusiveness of the government-run health care plan Arlen Specter supports. They deserve reforms that will lower the cost of health care and give them more choices, not government control, higher taxes, and a larger deficit. If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will work tirelessly to find real solutions to our health care problems through increased choice, personal ownership, and competition.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Most Popular Recent Postings

Here are our five most popular recent postings. Have you checked these out?
1) Judge Buckwalter Was Wrong
2) Five Smartest Dog Breeds
3) Five Dumbest Dog Breeds
4) Ailing Jackson Body Photos
5) Obamacare Limits Services
Obamacare. Michael Jackson. Judicial conduct. Canines. We cover it all!
BTW: Yesterday was a banner day for us with more than 1.000 page views. Thanks, everybody!

NJ GOP: Six State Offices!

The New Jersey Republican State Committee has announced the Grand Opening of its first six Victory 2009 regional offices across New Jersey.
"The New Jersey Republican State Committee is running an active campaign in every part of New Jersey to elect Republicans to office at every level. We share in the enthusiasm of people across our state in having a candidate like Chris Christie at the top of our ticket," stated New Jersey Republican State Committee Chairman Jay Webber.
"Throughout this campaign, volunteers across the state will be making phone calls, knocking on doors, and making sure that we communicate our message of positive change and a new, brighter future for New Jersey."
The media and public are invited to attend any of the Open House events taking place at each of the six locations across New Jersey this week. There will be an opportunity to meet headquarters staff, and local officeholders and leaders in attendance.
Locations of this week's headquarter openings include Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Bergen, Union, and Morris counties.
For more information go to
Several more grand openings around the state will be announced in the coming days and weeks.

Julie &Julia Buttered Sweetly

Over the weekend we rushed out to see Julie and Julia the new movie starring Meryl Streep.
First, let us say that it's great to watch Streep's sendup of Julia Child. True, the performance is just this side of caricature. But then again Julia Child often seemed like a caricature of herself.
Let's remember that Julia Child came from an age when people were characters.
Famous people were not homogenized or artificially "humanized" as they often are now. They knew who they were and they were who they were. They were more authentic.
That's the way Julia Child was.
By now you've probably heard that this movie is actually two movies -- the young bride (Jule) of today and the original Julia Child in postwar Paris where she was beginning to define herself. (Hey, she was a late bloomer.)
OK - so the movie almost cries out for a split screen since it jumps back and forth so much.
This movie sort of reminds us of You've Got Mail, another movie that Nora Ephron wrote and directed. It's gimmicky and demographically rigged. It's designed to appeal to both older movie goers who actually remember Julia Child on PBS and younger viewers who don't; that's why Julie is there.
So, not only is the movie kind of sliced in half but there's also not much of a story here. We all pretty much know the story of Julia: she writes a book, get's a TV show and becomes famous. The Julie story -- well, I'll let you discover that but there's really not much to it.
Let me just say that Stanley Tucci is absolutely wonderful as Julia's husband, Paul and he's more than a match for the great Meryl Streep. And Amy Adams is fine as Julie. And it's great to see a movie that is led by strong women characters. Bravo!
But this is a feel good movie - a sort of lightly toasted Hallmark greeting smothered with globs of butter.
And it's slick Hollywood movie making.
Yet, isn't that better than these dreadful disaster movies and shock flicks Hollywood has been turning out?
Surely some of you must agree because Julie and Julia was right up there near the top in the weekend box office race.
So, go - enjoy!
BTW - They've made Julia/Meryl look so big she seems overwhelming. I knew Julia Child was a large woman but I don't remember her as Amazonian.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Judge Buckwalter Was Wrong

My opinion column from today's Philadelphia Legal Intelligencer:
Time, the Law, the Media and Judge Buckwalter
What's the significance of a tombstone proclaiming, "Unswayed by public opinion"?
And, in the 21st century, how much should we be inspired by the "rugged individualism" of those who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries?
These may seem like rather arcane questions to you. And I probably wouldn't even be asking them were it not for the fact U.S. District Court Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter cited these and other factors in defending the widely denounced 55-month prison sentence that he handed down to convicted felon and former state Sen. Vince Fumo. Buckwalter said he was inspired by the heroes and the writings of the 1700s and 1800s.
Of course my first thought in all this is: "How does a slap-on-the-wrist sentence square with the rugged individualism and frontier justice of the 18th and 19th centuries?" It seems to me that Fumo might be left to rot in jail or given over to a far worse fate if he had been tried in an earlier era.
But there's a bigger issue here and it has to do with the inability of lawyers in general and judges in particular to understand media and the modern interplay between the court of law and the court of public opinion.
When Buckwalter was growing up in rural Lancaster, Pa., television did not exist. When he went to college and law school, no one even knew what the Internet was. And for nearly 30 years now, Buckwalter has spent his life in the rarified confines of the judiciary — a world of mahogany, brass and marble where judges rule and quiet acquiescence is the norm. It's such a sheltered, powerful world that legal insiders have coined a term for the sense of unbridled authority that overtakes many of those who are cloaked in black robes. They call it "robitis."
Robitis means you do not have to pay attention to the masses. It means you don't necessarily have to ride public transportation or dirty your fingers with the daily newspaper or waste your time watching TV or log on to the Internet or even pick up the telephone. It means that you don't have to distinguish the Philadelphia Inquirer from the National Enquirer . It simply doesn't matter very much to you. You're above it, you're beyond it, you're better than that.
And robitis is like a reassuring vortex. It pulls you in further and further into an increasingly narrow and comforting world. What you don't know apparently doesn't hurt you. You don't need to be concerned with such common things.
But then you're suddenly thrust into the public arena via a high-profile case. The curtain lifts, the spotlight shines and it's clear that your view of the world no longer squares with reality.
Suddenly, you're facing the dreaded, sweaty mob. Suddenly, you're in the papers and your office is getting nasty phone calls and e-mails. Suddenly, people you don't know and don't care to know are asking tough questions. Suddenly, as a public official you're being asked to account for your behavior.
What to do?
Why, attack the media of course. Kill the messenger.
And that's precisely what Buckwalter did, or at least tried to do.
He attributed the public's outrage over his sentence to the news media, which shows you what little regard he has for the public's intelligence. He cited the media's "low reputation in the community" without noting that lawyers, judges and public officials consistently score even lower in the public's eye. He called Philadelphia a "one paper town" while ignoring TV, radio, the Internet and the newspaper you're reading right now. And, shockingly Buckwalter even seemed to suggest that there should be a "watchdog" over the free press. My goodness, has the judge even bothered to read the First Amendment? When was the last time he took a walk down the street to the National Constitution Center?
We're not living in the 18th or 19th century anymore. In fact, the 20th century is rapidly becoming rather quaint. Now, we're living in the global village that Marshall McLuhan foresaw 40 years ago when he warned us to pay attention to the media and stop looking at life through rearview mirrors. So, today if you want rugged individualism you're as likely to find it on a blog as you are on the Great Plains or in the Rocky Mountains.
Buckwalter may want to turn back the clock, but that's not an option.
Abraham Lincoln said it best: "Adjudication must follow and conform to the progress of society."

Corzine Lags On Ethics

New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean issued the following statement regarding vacancies on the “Governor’s Local Government Ethics Task Force.” The panel was created September 24, 2008 by Governor Corzine’s Executive Order 119.
“When it comes to ethics reform Jon Corzine talks the talk but he won’t walk the walk. More than ten months after its creation, every seat on the ‘Governor’s Local Government Ethics Task Force’ remains vacant. This is typical of an administration that that made many lofty promises on economic growth, property tax relief and ethics reform, yet failed to follow through on many of them.
“Less than two weeks ago, following the arrest of 44 people accused of corruption, many at the local government level, the governor stated that “the ethics problems that occurred, we have all the laws we need.” Obviously the governor thought differently less than a year ago.
“Given this set of circumstances Governor Corzine must immediately call a special session of the Legislature to adopt new and stricter ethics reform legislation. Republicans have suggested the following bills that could be considered:”

S-287 (T. Kean), 03-17-2008, limits contributions by certain public contractors; limits contributions by county and municipal political party committees.

S-445 (Pennacchio/Codey), 01-08-2008, "Transparency in Government Act;" provides for establishment of State public finance website.

S-600 (Baroni), 03-17-2008, prohibits campaign contributions by certain individuals, businesses or other organizations that purchase or acquire property involved in eminent domain proceedings.

S-684 (Beck), 01-08-2008, a bill that prohibits county committee of a political party from contributing to or accepting contribution from another such county committee.

S-685 (Beck), 12-15-2008, would prohibit the simultaneous holding of certain State, county and municipal elective and appointive positions, often referred to as ‘dual office holding’.

S760 (O’Toole), 03-17-2008, establishes stricter limits on contributions to county committees of political parties and by county committees to candidates; prohibits contributions between county committees.

Adler's Town Hall Quickie

Quite a few people here in South Jersey have contacted me about Democrat freshman Congressman John Adler and they're not very hapy.
It seems that Adler decided to hold a Quickie Town Hall session at the Cherry Hill Community Center this past Saturday (August 8) for one hour.
As part of the announcement of the meeting Adler sent out recorded phone messages (robocalls) to constituents. But it seems the phone messages arrived on Saturday morning about an hour or so before the actual meeting. And, don't forget - the meeting was only an hour long.
I happened to be out of town on Saturday. Frankly, I didn't pay much attention to my home voice mails. But when people alerted me to this I went back and checked. Yes, I did get a call from Adler about the Town Hall. The robocall came in at 9:57 AM for an 11 AM meeting -- 11 AM the same day! That was barely an hour notice.
Had I known about the meeting earlier I might have attended. And I probably would have brought other constituents along with me. And I might have publicized the meeting here.
But then again, maybe Congressman Adler wasn't all that interested in having me or my friends at this session. And maybe his staff is not that anxious to have these sessions publicized here.
I mean, I might have gotten passionate about a subject such as health care and even raised my voice a bit. And we all know that (according to Pelosi and Hoyer in today's USA Today) raising your voice at a Member of Congress is downright un-American.
After all, we don't wanna get all hot n bothered in August now, do we? And God forbid we should raise our voices to elected officials - especially here in Joisey where public officials are always so well-behaved, well-intended and squeaky clean.
So, Adler had his Quickie Town Hall and I hope it met all his expectations. I hope it was good for him.
BTW: The Congressman's web site indicates that no additional "Congress On Your Corner" events have been scheduled by Adler for now. If I hear of any I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Great Late Summer Reading

Just remember: Summer doesn't end till the third week in September.
So there's still time for some late great summer reading.
I've already been through quite a few books this summer.
Here are some of my very favorites so far:

Stripping Gypsy: The real story of legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, her mother Rose, her sister June and their dysfunctional family as told by Noralee Frankel. Way more that the musical "Gypsy" could ever tell, and way more honest. The author takes you through vaudeville, Broadway, Hollywood and every theatre, night club, hot spot, cabaret and bar, and two-bit strip joint along the way. It's not always a pretty picture. But Gypsy Rose Lee emerges as a feisty, instinctive, intelligent, independent woman who knows her to manage herself and her career if not all the men in her life.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. Her father is Eddie Fisher. Her mother is Debbie Reynolds. And if you're of a certain age, you remember Eddie and Debbie and Liz and Mike and Liz and Eddie and Liz and Richard and Debbie and Harry and Liz and, well, you understand. Carrie Fisher doesn't necessarily remember all that because she's had electroshock therapy. But don't think this is a grim or sad book. It's actually quite funny -- poignant, human, inspiring in many ways. Carrie is a recovering drug and alcohol abuser who is also bipolar. But she's marvelously creative; a fine author, actress and storyteller. BTW: The book is adapted from Fisher's one-woman stage show, soon to be on Broadway.

Losing Mum and Pup - Christopher Buckley tells the story of the death of his mother, Pat and then a short time later, his father, Bill. This is no sentimental goodbye. And sometimes it seems like too much information. Mum and Pup are tough, often stubborn, often difficult characters. But that's part of what makes it all so compelling. This is a full, balanced, revealing portrait of two of the most vivid characters of the second half of the 20th century and a delicious peek inside the world they built. It's also a complex family portrait. So, you can enjoy it on more than one level and for that we can thank the author who gives us a realistic, touching take on Mum and Pup.

She Always Know How - Charlotte Chandler's three-dimensional portrait of the great Mae West based on a serious of personal interviews conducted not very long before West passed away. Mae West always knew how to take take of herself. She always knew how to make a buck. And she knew how to invest, too. She made lots of money -- and not just from the movies. She had extensive real estate holdings and she was able to support her mother, father, siblings and many friends. She was shrewd, generous, proud and self-protective. And she was also a fine writer who had a way with quips and one-liners. This is one of Charlotte Chandler's best books.

Good Day! The Paul Harvey Story by Paul Batura - Tells the story of America's legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey. This can't really be called a definitive biography but it's the best we have for now. And it's really quite good as it follows Paul Harvey from Oklahoma, through the 20th century and into the Midwest where he emerges as one of America's best known and most powerful radio voices. It's also the story of Harvey's "angel," his wife Lynne Cooper Harvey and their lifelong love affair. In many ways she was the brains behind the success of Paul Harvey. She's the one who helped him become one of America's most beloved personalities. She did much of the hard work and gave him the love and confidence to succeed. Sometimes nice guys DO finish first. Paul Harvey was that kind of guy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ethics:Corzine Drags Feet

Shopping Carts Before Corruption:
Jon Corzine Believes The Legislature Is Too Busy To Deal With Corruption

When Jon Corzine Was Asked Why Ethics Reforms Have Not Been Passed In His 4 Years As Governor He Said...

"I don't think it is that there is an avoidance of this, I think it was a focus on priorities." (Claire Heininger and Trish Graber, "N.J. corruption scandal takes centerstage in governor's race," Star Ledger, 08/05/09)

But Jon Corzine found time to sign bills regulating everything from impounding shopping carts to declaring November "New Jersey Wine Month":
Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law...
Imposing moratorium on harvest and possession of horseshoe crabs.(A2260, 08)

Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law ...Establishing Ellis Island Advisory Commission. (A2869, 08)

Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law ...
Declaring November of each year as "New Jersey Wine Month."(AJR81, 08)

Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law ...Regulating the impoundment of shopping carts. (S1238, 08)

Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law ...Renaming the "police court of the Palisades Interstate park" as "Court of Palisades Interstate Park." (S1430, 08)

Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law ...Designating DOT's Engineering and Operations Building as "Jack Friedenrich Engineering and Operations Building." (S2369, 09)

Corzine: No time for ethics but time to sign a bill into law ...Designating Sunset Lake Hydrofest in Wildwood Crest as New Jersey Governor's Cup Hydrofest Series. (SJR27, 09)

Governor Corzine Has Made Promise After Promise That He Will Enact Ethics Reforms For Years:

" I will enact the toughest ethics reform in the history in this state." (Jon Corzine, NJN Debate, 09/20/05)

"Let us make these reforms permanent in the state's constitution so that they cannot be ignored in practice, subverted behind closed doors, or put aside after the present crisis of confidence subsides." (Jon Corzine, Inauguration Speech, 01/17/2006)

"'If the Legislature and myself don't have passion about trying to do something about combating the breakdown of the public trust,' he said, 'I will be in despair.'" (Tom Moran, "Corzine's reform opportunity,", 09/08/07)

"But I want to give the people of New Jersey the greatest possible assurance about that. I'm not done yet. You'll see in the next few months we'll do dramatically more." (Bob Braun, "Corzine takes on Christie in an arena of ethics reform," Star Ledger, 08/31/08)

"'Any corruption is unacceptable - anywhere, anytime, by anybody,' said Corzine. 'The scale of corruption we're seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated.'" (Max Pizarro, "Corzine statement on corruption arrests,", 07/23/09)

Jon Corzine: Watch what he DOES, not what he says!

Eagles Avoid Bad Boys

As the swallows return to Capistrano, the Eagles fly home to Lehigh. No matter which Harvard prof is miffed, which president is having problems with his health-care project or which wise Latina is about to make history, the only thing that really matters at this point in the dog days is that football is a month away.
Which is probably a good thing, since we need to get these guys busy. With too much time on their hands, they tend to run amok.
I'm not talking about our Birds, who're fairly boring in the bad-boy department. No illegal dog-fighting. No self-inflicted thigh wounds. No flashy girlfriends. (Hank Baskett has a flashy wife, but that doesn't count since she looks to be pretty domesticated these days with a bun in the oven.)
I'm talking about the other ones, the superstars from teams that specialize in obnoxious - albeit talented - players, many of whom seem to have a problem with their X chromosome, getting themselves into messes because of damsels in tight dresses.
Take Tony Romo. (Please!)

To read the rest of Christine Flowers' colum from today's Philadelphia Daily News click here.

Year's Most Original Movie!

Yesterday we saw "500 Days of Summer" and I can report to you that this is, far and away, the year's most original movie.
It's incredibly daring in that it tells a "love story" from the point of view of a sensitive, intelligent, caring young man.
This vibrant comedy avoids cynicism and unfolds like a breath of fresh air, reminding us that human relationships (most notably, those between the sexes) are not so simple.
And what a delight it is to experience a movie that depicts twentysomethings as passionate, aware, three-dimensional people. No trivializing or stereotyping here. As someone who spends quite a bit of time with those in this age group, I found that this film gets it right. And it presents us with characters worth caring about.
Yes, the movie involves a bit of obvious role reversal with some cinematic gimmicks thrown in. But overall it's an open, honest and wonderfully appealing film.
Kudos to director Marc Webb and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel [pictured] as well as the whole cast and everyone involved with this gem. And thanks for a charming new screen personality in Levitt. He has a bright future ahead of him.
Impressive. This is a breakthrough film.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NYC: Ten New Insights

Here are 10 things we discovered on a quick trip to Manhattan yesterday:
1) Even with all its faults NJ Transit is still probably the best (and one of the most economical) ways to get in and out of the Big Apple. The off peak trains get the job done.

2) The New York subway system works and clearly marked maps and helpful New Yorkers (and there are many of them) make it easy to get around.

3) The Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is till one of the best places to view the city skyline almost any time of the year but particularly in the summer. Right now, you can also enjoy artist Roxy Paine's Maelstrom installation on the roof [pictured].

4) The Met's "Model as Muse" exhibition in the Costume Institute is a great show that's worth seeing. Hurry, it closes August 9!

5) Cap your day at the Met by viewing Michelangelo's first painting.

6) The Boathouse in Central Park is still our favorite place to lunch as we watch the water shimmering in the sun. The waiter told us that Leonardo DiCaprio was a recent diner at the famed eatery. But go for the food and the seductive ambience, and hope for the celebrities.

7) Central Park remains an exquisite national treasure. And now you can enjoy audiophone tours.

8) Rockefeller Center's legendary channel gardens seem like a tropical paradise this summer with dreamy palm trees and island plantings.

9) Herald Square has never looked better as it has been reborn as an urban oasis where one can sit, sip and people watch.

10) It's hard to imagine New York without Macy's, the world's largest store and America's last great department store. Macy's IS New York!