Why trust Philadelphia's new voting machines?

Rabb voting machines yt
We  received a voicemail on our landline from Pennsylvania State Representative for the 200th district Chris Rabb (pronounced like "dab") with an invitation to try out,
this past Friday, Philadelphia’s new ES&S voting machines at the Wadsworth Branch Public Library. Your correspondent planned to first attend a yoga class at the nearby Lovett Branch Public Library, then head over to Wadsworth to get acquainted with the new machines which have been in the news. See Philadelphia's New Voting Machine Contract in Jeopoardy... Coincidentally, PhD renaissance man, yogi and fair election activist Josh Mittledorf was substitute teaching. After class, I asked Mitteldorf to explain his concerns about the new machines. He pointed out the ES&S company’s sordid history and claimed that the software it uses could possibly skew results; even election officials purchasing the machines do not have access to the software to verify its integrity because, in legal terms, the software is considered a trade secret.

I headed off to Wadsworth where a representative from the Philadelphia City Commissioners' office walked me through how to use the new machine and referred me to Rep Rabb for any additional questions. The voting process is initiated when a voter inserts a physical ballot into the machine.  On a large display screen, the voter then touch taps the candidates they want and, when done,  the printed ballot with the voter’s choices shows up behind a window panel for the the voter to approve before submitting their vote. Predictably, on the demonstration machine, your correspondent voted for Democrat Party candidate Nick Foles for President and Green Party Candidate Julius ("Dr. J" Erving) for U.S. Senate. Then it was time to buttonhole Rabb.

Interview with Rabb

BR (your correspondent, Brian Rudnick): Are these machines secure?

CR (his Pa State Rep Chris Rabb): No.

BR: How do we know the election is not being stolen?

CR: We don’t.

BR: We don’t? Well that’s not good.

CR: I agree. Just like any system, Any system  is imperfect.

BR: Any system- even a paper ballot system…

CR: Well paper ballots can be stolen…

BR: Why don’t we have access to the software in the systems?

CR: I don’t know.

BR: You’re our representative, can you ask?

CR: The City Commissioners’ office is here so you can ask directly.

Watch video of activist and Pennsylvania legislator expressing concern about integrity of new ES&S voting machines in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Electrofishing the Wissahickon

Electrofishing

In a short time, aquatic biologists from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission netted hundreds of fish from the Wissahickon Creek just above the covered bridge - and then returned them to the water. Biologist Aaron Henning (center in photo) relayed that SRBC had won the contract to assess the health of the waterways in this region as part of a national study commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The day before, Henning, his teammate Matt Shank and Michelle Peck from Region III IEPA were working down on the Schuylkill River in the less scenic refinery area. Electrofishing entails putting a weak electrical current in the water through a rod, which actually attracts the fish Henning says, to momentarily stun them. This gives the biologists enough time to identify them by species, take measurements and, for some of the larger specimens, take plugs of tissue to test for PCBs and other contaminants. Henning showed off two large, American eels, a species that lives in fresh water but migrates to spawn in the ocean. The squirming pair were eager for release. More photos here

Watch video here


1902 motorized buggy greets visitors to Quakertown visitors center

Quakertown history visitor center
Upper Bucks Chamber and Visitors Center
Executive Director Danielle Bodnar treated your correspondent to a little tour of the Center's museum. A 1902 motorized buggy is one of the many treasures on display. The Chamber partners with The Quakertown Historical Society which provides historical artwork, memorabilia and binders of old newspaper clippings and photographs and more for the center museum. Bodnar says people like to come in and take a trip down memory lane by searching the archived Quakertown High School yearbooks for, say, pictures of their grandparents or to research some family genealogy. Outside the Center, she pointed out historic Liberty Hall across the way where the Liberty Bell was temporarily hidden on its way from Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War to keep it safe from the British. And Bodnar added that the Richard Moore house on Main Street will be honored this September 14th for keeping escaped slaves safe during civil war times. A historical marker will be placed at the building which served as an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Watch highlights of Quakertown visitor center tour here.

For more photos of the visitor center, click here.


Deer advocate demands to know cost of deer cull

Deer advocate bridet irons
Your correspondent came across well-known deer advocate Bridget Irons sitting on a bench along Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon getting ready to take off on her constitutional. Irons has been fighting against the deer cull in the Wissahickon woods for many years now. She related that she had written to Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart back in April asking that the financial costs of the deer cull be disclosed. She was encouraged when she soon heard back from First Deputy Kellan White who was to look into the matter but now, four months later, she still hasn't heard back. (According to the Controller's Office on August 15, 2019, White was still gathering the information) Aside from the contentious issue of whether the damage to the forest caused by the deer browsing on the under-story vegetation justifies bringing in sharpshooters each winter, Irons believes that the public has a right to know how much money city government is spending on the deer cull program. Your correspondent suggested that she may be able to retain a sympathetic pro bono lawyer to help deliver the information the public likely has a right to know. For this photo, Irons obliged your correspondent by striking the signature arms-up-in-the-air pose of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. ADDENDUM: From the Chestnut Hill online edition of May 18, 2018, "After 20 years, once-controversial deer cull is now routine": " These yearly efforts usually cost the USDA and the Parks and Recreation about $40,000 a year, an increased rate since the program’s start in
1999, [Parks spokesperson Barry] Bessler said."

Watch video interview of deer advocate who is asking Philadelphia City Controller for information about the financial costs of culling deer in the Park."


Gallery showcases artwork rejected by museum for their annual juried show

Renny and nocia imperfect galery
Renny Molenaar and Rocio Cabello, owners of the iMPeRFeCT Gallery in the Germantown section of Philadelphia were approached by Simone Spicer and Virginia Maksymowicz,two artists whose work was not accepted at this year’s Woodmere Museum’s annual juried art show. (Out of 638 submissions, Eileen Neff, Woodmere's juror this year, chose the work of ninety-four artists)Spicer and Maksymowicz had the idea to mount an exhibition of rejected works, fashioned after the famous “Salon Des Refusés” exhibit in Paris in 1862 of works rejected by the conservative French Academy of Fine Arts, some by now very notable artists of the time - Gustave Courbet,
Édouard Manet, and Camille Pissarro. iMPeRFeCT Gallery was game and just happened not to have a show scheduled for July. Unable to obtain the list of applicants to the Woodmere Annual, Cabello says the pair mounted an online campaign through Spicer's connections with the “Dumpster Divers” and other groups to find other artists whose submissions had been rejected by the Woodmere this year. Twenty five artists answered the call and your correspondent was able to briefly see the exhibit the Saturday afternoon it closed. In addition to the exhibit, the Gallery hosted a round table discussion at which artists, actors, writers and other creatives talked about the effect of rejection. Rejection of a career choice to be an artist begins with one's family, Molenaar lamented. "You want to be a what?" Cabello added that rejection is harder for younger artists because they take it personally, thinking they're not good enough. There are many reasons behind rejection, she elaborated. "There are space limitations, there are a theme to a show that maybe your art work didn't fit a certain theme or vision..." Your correspondent, impressed with both the works of art in the show and the dynamism of the gallery owners made his exit as Cabello began to prepare a vegetable salad for the gallery's traditional monthly"Last supper." Supporters cater a dinner on an exhibit's closing night as fundraiser or "rent party."

Watch video interview of gallery owners in Germantown, who hosted a showing of art works rejected by a prestigious nearby Chestnut Hill museum for their annual show

More photos here

 


Burning weeds with propane torch

Joann Hyle uses a propane-powered weed torch to burn the weeds sprouting up between the bricks in the sidewalk outside her house. It doesn’t keep the weeds from growing back but she thinks it’s a better alternative to killing weeds with chemicals. Your correspondent didn’t press her about getting down on her knees and weeding by hand. (Germantown Avenue)

Weed burning Weed burn fire

Watch video of neighbor burning weeds with a propane torch and interview here


Veterans with team red white and blue hike with weighted rucksacks

Team red white blue hike
One recent, hot morning, your correspondent came across a small group of hikers wearing red t-shirts, carrying backpacks and hoisting two large American flags as they approached an entrance to the Wissahickon woods. They are the the Philadelphia Chapter of Team Red, White and Blue (RWB) teamrwb.org John Bond, second from left, and Joel Stark, center, are both army vets. They are flanked by their civilian supporters, team members Caitlin Pollard, Joan Kim and Heather Jordan, Stark's sister (left to right). Team RWB, Stark explains, is "a veteran service organization based around the United States enriching veterans' lives through social and physical connections." This morning they were out on a "ruck march" with weighted bags. Stark opened his to show a weight that brought his pack's weight to about thirty-five pounds. Bond had college textbooks in his pack for weight. Pollard says,"I always like being part of Team RWB because it allows me to do something with people and not just for people," Stark triggered laughter when he added, "The idea is - we can sweat together."

Watch video interview with military veterans and civilian supporters who are team members of the Philadelphia chapter of TeamRWBV discussing the physical and social activities they sponsor to promote the well-being and health of vets.


Neighbors react to presidential candidates debates

Of the approximately 15 people your correspondent approached Friday morning to gauge their reaction to the Democratic presidential primary debates on TV Wednesday and Thursday nights, only three had watched one or both of the debates. Some of the remainder thought that there were just too many candidates at this time to make tuning in worthwhile. Responses of other non-viewers were “I don’t watch TV,” “I was asleep at nine”, “I get my news from social media” and “I watched 30 seconds of Joe Biden and had enough.” Here are what the three had to say

BR: What were your impressions of the first Democratic Party presidential debates?

Biden and Sanders were predictable Mcdowell debate reactionGeorge McDowell: One- too many candidates for an effective debate. I think a couple people started to make a name for themselves but ultimately it was just too little time to get any serious sort of issues really drawn out. BR: Anyone impress you , depress you? GM: Kamala Harris, I thought, was effective last night. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were somewhat predictable. A couple had some good answers and stood out somewhat but it still was very hard for them to really get across their messages during the time that was allowed.

 

Too many but I like Harris, Buttigieg, and intrigued by Yang

Esberg debate reactionTema Esberg: I'm overwhelmed with the number of people who are battling for attention. It’s hard to focus on anyone and learn anything meaningful about any of them other than how they perform in that moment when they're vying for the moment to get their pre-scripted lines out. That's my general observation. BR: Anyone you definitely would not vote for or would consider at this point? TE: I think it's too early. I did start liking some people more than others but recognizing that I liked them for their performance in that moment. I was surprised that I liked Buttigieg’s performance so much. I like Kamala Harris. I was disappointed in Biden and I was intrigued by Yang …So I shouldn’t say “shit show” on your video?

 

Biden's the right man for the job

Whitehead debate reaction

Jay Whitehead: First day it appeared that the candidates were just trying to show what they had. They really didn't seem important to me. Nobody really said anything significant. Last night it got pretty in-depth. I think Joe Biden, regardless of how Kamala kind of pinned his ears back a little bit, I think he's the man for the job. I'm impressed with Kamala. But Joe -I want to see Joe Biden become president. I think he's got the fortitude and I think he's straight up and down American no matter how you shake it – no crooks, no books. Just straight up and down. BR Would you like to see Biden on a ticket with Kamala? JW:I’d like to see Kamala on a ticket with Biden.


Nutritionist offers free consults at food coop

Nutritionist free consults

Nicole Schillinger, a registered dietition who prepares meals for her clients, was situated by a table in the back yard of Weavers Way grocery coop, Chestnut Hill, fielding questions from any comers. She's a member of the coop's Nutrition Team which holds free workshops for the public on a variety of topics. She recently conducted sessions on intermittent fasting, detoxing, making your own smoothies and, at the Weavers Way Farm at Saul High School, on essential oils. The Nutrition Team also makes itself available for on-the-spot nutrition consultations at the Weavers Way stores including Mount Airy and Ambler. Your correspondent was reassured by Schillinger that his dinner plan of pesto and rice was sound because the nuts in the pesto would complement the rice to provide a complete protein. A balance of carbohydrate, protein and fat she recommends for the main meals of the day. And, for a certain someone with a predilection for potato chips, she cautioned against exceeding 2000 milligrams of sodium that could happen with an intake of high sodium canned foods or cheeses and meats and even their alternatives. Watch video interview of nutritionist offering free healthy diet consultations at the food coop here.


Germantown celebrates Juneteenth freedom from slavery

Juneteenth libation
At Philadelphia's Juneteenth celebration in Germantown, Iraina Salaam performs a libation ceremony in honor of African ancestors as members of Boy Scout Troop 1719 and the Tyehimba drum group look on. Juneteenth, June 19th, is a celebration that marks the day in 1865, two and a half years after the emancipation proclamation when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the end of slavery. Also in the video Cerise Dash sings "Oh Freedom," a spiritual. Watch video of Germantown, Philadelphia's Juneteenth emancipation from slavery celebration featuring a libation ceremony, gospel spirituals, colored Union infantry troops and more

Click here for  photo slideshow

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Juneteenth chickenbone

Author Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks sells copies of her recent book with many photographs by noted photographer John W Mosley about the racially segregated beach between Mississippi and Missouri Avenues in Atlantic City, New Jersey.