Alleging racism, Free Library staff protests to oust Board Chair

Protest free library board chair balija
White staffers of the Free Library of Philadelphia, in support of their Black colleagues, staged a protest outside the Chestnut Hill home of the Library Board Chair, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Pam Dembe, as part of a campaign to oust her for insensitivity and alleged racist comments and actions. In this video, a handful of Black employees watch from a corner across the street as the protesters hold signs and shouted chants such as, "When libraries are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" Librarian Sunita Balija was one of the first to address the gathering of about 25 of her colleagues, who presumably had authorized time off from library work to attend the morning action. She excoriated the board chair, making a case for "The People vs. Pam Dembe" and running down a bullet list of factors to support the demand for her resignation. "Fact: Black staff are largely relegated to non-professional jobs including custodians, guards, and library assistants and therefore they earn seven-thousand, five-hundred, thirty-three dollars less than the median salary while White staff earn twelve-thousand more than the median salary." Watch video here.

Genovese library protest oust board chair

AFSCME Labor Union (District Council 47) shop steward and Free Libary of Philadelhia staffer Perry Genovese explains the protest outside the Chestnut Hill home of the Chairperson of the Library Board.

"I'm here today for the Campaign for a Just Philly Budget calling on Judge Pam Dembe to step down..this is a call being made in solidarity with the Concerned Black Workers of the Free Library who successfully ousted" now former Executive Director Siobhan Reardon. Genovese refers to disparaging remarks made by Dembe and widely reported in the mainstream media. "She doesn't get anti-racism." Genovese says the Concerned Black Workers wanted the protest action taken to Dembe's residence because they hadn't been listened to. Genovese says the black workers were given a slap in the face when the Chair only responded to a letter from white staffers to the Board on behalf of their black colleagues, whose original letter to the Board she had ignored.

Watch video here


Crowded outdoor restaurant seating puts diners and walkers in danger of catching Covid-19

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Living a block and a half away from Germantown Avenue we like to stroll up and down. It's enjoyable and it's healthy. It's one of the reasons we live here.

We understand Chestnut Hill restaurants, several which we patronize (and now do more take out from) are just trying to stay financially afloat. Due to Covid19 many have added extra outdoor seating both next to the building and at the curb. But If you were to walk past a few of these restaurants you might be 2-3 feet away from open-mouthed diners, a delicious opportunity to spread the corona-virus.

In his July 17 Inquirer article,"Eating out during the pandemic is a dilemma. Outdoor dining appears to be the most safe," Craig LaBan writes "It’s nonetheless unrealistic to expect customers hungering for a taste of quarantine escape to consistently respect boundaries, just as it’s naive to expect restaurateurs, with so little guidance or oversight to suddenly become altruistic public health experts, and not try to squeeze in a few more seats than they should."

No, Mr. Laban, there may be little oversight but the guidance is clear. Pa Governor Wolf's Covid-19 *mandate* about outdoor restaurant seating is clear. "Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e. such that pedestrians on a sidewalk can pass with at least six feet of distance to customer)." Source www.governor.pa.gov/covid-19/restaurant-industry-guidance

Here's the math. The average width of an adult is 1.25 feet so a pedestrian would need 6 feet distance from a table on their left side and 6 feet on the right for a restaurant to be in compliance: In other words the width of the walkway to keep both pedestrians and diners safe is *13.25* feet.

I conducted a little informal survey of how wide the pedestrian passage is at Chestnut Hill establishments with outdoor seating. The most ample passage was outside Iron Hill Brewery with a width of 9 or more feet and staggered tables. The general manager was kind enough to pose to provide a sense of scale. Outside Campbell's Place, the pedestrian passageway is 6 feet or less and similarly so at establishments at the top of the Hill. Without addressing the governor's 6 foot mandate, Campbell's owner Rob Mullen writes that according to the City's Health, L&I and Streets Department Campbell's outdoor seating is in complete compliance. (It is not clear what seating arrangement the inspectors saw when they made their inspections. )

Perhaps we should just cross the street, as a friend suggests, to avoid the restaurants. Perhaps the restaurants could take away just a few tables to be closer in compliance with the law. Perhaps I should watch the next episode of "Breaking Bad" on our daughter's NetFlix account and sulk about how the only real thanks health care workers want is the one they're not getting- people and businesses uniformly embracing good public health practices and regulations. Photo gallery here Crowded outdoor restaurant seating puts diners and walkers in danger of catching Covid-19


Shirtless boxer, Trump supporter, rails against fear

Shirtless boxer rails against fear and for Trump
Driving along Northwestern Avenue past the top of Forbidden Drive, I noticed a shirtless, mask-less, older man wearing red boxer shorts and blue boxing gloves. Next to him was a heavy punching bag hanging from a post of the wooden Wissahickon Valley welcome structure. In our video interview, the man, who gave his name as XXXXXXX, indicated he was taking a break from six to eight sets of fifty punches each and obliged me by demonstrating his technique. He would not disclose his age, residence or occupation but asked "What's your story?" which I told him in brief. XXXXX indicated he was positioned where he was, at the busy entrance way to the valley park, so as to engage people. As he approached the car, challenging me "What are you afraid of?" but not giving me time to answer about Covid-19 concerns, I would press the button to raise the car window up but for a crack, with him standing just on the other side of the window. And so our conversation continued with me lowering the window as he backed away and raising it again as he approached, railing about fear and telling me I wasn't alive, wasn't living. Unsurprisingly, he asked what I thought about President Trump. And, uncharacteristically, I abided by the maximum "If you don’t have anything nice to say..." and said nothing. XXXXX answered my silence with "I'd take a bullet for Trump." Watch video interview here.

NOTE: At the time of this interview, Philadelphia had a mandatory face mask requirement due to Covid-19 in public places where it is not possible to consistently maintain a distance of six feet from other people. Face covering required

Mask up philly

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