Under the watchful eyes of a score of officers from the Philadelphia Police foot and marine patrols, the PA Fish and Game Commission and the US Coast Guard, serious but festive protesters stage a family picnic and paddle on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia to mark the third anniversary of the Lac Megantic Ontario oil train derailment that killed 47 people. Coryn Wolk of the Clean Air Council points to data showing the outdated tank cars are subject to puncture even at the low speeds they move through Philadelphia, putting 700,000 residents in the potential blast/evacuation zone at risk. Clean energy groups participating in the action are urging people to contact their elected officials to stop such oil trains from passing through Philadelphia and shift toward of wind, geothermal and solar energy. Watch video here.
Unionized Verizon telephone company workers (Communication Workers of America - CWA) conducting an informational picket outside the Chestnut Hill Philadelphia central station, which houses thirty to forty thousand landline connections, explain why they are on strike. They object to high executive pay and unwillingness to sign a contract without concessions from workers giving the company the right to reassign them to locations 50 or even a couple hundred miles away, freeze their pensions at 30 years of service and outsource their jobs to workers in the Philippines or Mexico. Watch video interview here.
A tall chain-link fence recently appeared dividing the narrow walkway between two buildings on Germantown Avenue in the posh Chestnut Hill shopping district in northwest Philadelphia. And now, next to it a sign that reads "Snowden's Spite Fence." George Hobe says the fence went up between his antiques store and a building owned by Richard Snowden/ Bowman Properties after Hobe refused to sell his building to Snowden. Hobe maintains the walkway has long been a public thoroughfare, that the fence is illegal and that the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections has not addressed complaints against the fence. During our interview Hobe retrieved a working Monopoly boardgame from inside his store called "The Game of Chestnut Hill." Snowden, who owns a large and ever growing proportion of the properties along the corridor, is presumably the inspiration for the unique Chestnut Hill version of Monopoly. Watch video interview here.
Your correspondent interviewed candidates and poll workers at the Grace Epiphany Church polling site in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, home to 3 voting divisions. Video playlist here.
Juvenile Court Master now Judicial candidate Betsy Wahl has the support of some kids who she has helped straighten out their lives after landing in juvenile delinquency court.
Eric Dickerson earned $100 for working the polls in three separate locations for successfuly Democratic primary Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney. Dickerson, who spent 22 years in jail lives in a recovery house and through research, which he learned to do in prison, believes Kenney is supportive of recovery houses to address the city's drug problem. Kenney faces an insignificant challenge from Republican Melissa Bailey in the fall general elections.
In the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia on primary election day, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, campaign pollworkers, who appear to outnumber those who have come to vote, make pitches for their candidates and hand out palm cards. Candidates are running for Philadelphia Mayor, Philadelphia City Council and Judges on Pennsylvania trial courts and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Watch video here.
Candidate for Philadelphia Mayor in Democratic primary criticizes outside money in election. May 19, 2015. Watch video here.
Suspended lawyer will likely soon hold Court. Watch video here.
Andrew, a Scotsman who has been out of the country for the past few years, says he probably would have voted in favor of independence from Great Britain in the recent referendum were he home to vote. In hindsight, with the vote split 55 to 45% against independence, he thinks that it’s best that Scotland is not independent just yet because if the vote were reversed with 55% in favor of independence, he does not believe that would be enough of a consensus. Watch video interview here.
Family members chanted outside the Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecuador calling on the government and President Rafael Correa to take action in locating loved ones who have been disappeared. (Kidnappers have been reported to force their victims into the sex trade or hold them for ransom) Watch video here.
Eighty-seven year old Pat Sellers, laid off from the Philadelphia Cricket Club three years ago, has started doing what she has seen young people doing to try to make ends meet. Since July she has been busking on the street. She serenades passersby on her electric keyboard with show tunes and old time favorites outside Kilian Hardware, with electricity provided by the store, in the hope they will put money in her donation bag. On a recent Sunday, the musician, striking in her poofy, coifed silver hair and smart blue and white pants outfit, tapped out songs from Les Mis and Nat King Cole. Watch video and interview here.
Victoria Carrillo solicits memberships and petition signatures door-to-door in Chestnut Hill for the Clean Air Council of Philadelphia. The long established organization advocates for recyclling, bike trails, fracking restrictions and such to combat air pollution and its serious effects like widespread childhood asthma. Watch video interview here.
Driving my daughter from Chestnut Hill to her job in Roxborough Saturday morning, we passed a man making his way on foot down the steep and treacherously narrow, icy shoulder of Bells Mill Road. When I again passed him on my return trip twenty minutes later, now on his ascent from Forbidden Drive, I had to offer him a lift. Robert Mongeluzzi’s car tire had been flattened by a pothole the day before and, after spending the night in Chestnut Hill, he was hoping to somehow connect with a bus and make it to his home in Merion Station. He offered to top off my gas tank as thanks but I settled for the story of his work as a trial attorney representing victims and families of the Market Street Salvation Army building collapse and other, similarly notorious and catastrophic incidents.