Immediately after the storm, Nicky the boy and I drove over to Pennypack Park in NE Philly. I took these shots of the creek and some massive trees that came down. I have never personally witnessed the creek moving that quickly or that high. It was awesome to see that in our own back yard. Even though the winds didn’t seem that strong where we were, clearly they were powerful enough to bring down some vary large trees.

The mighty Pennypack Creek.

Massive tree down inside the park.














The boy checking out natures fury. Ok, natures aggravation...

Another tree down, victim of Hurricane Irene.

August 30, 2011 at 3:20 pm Comments (0)

Perzel to Plead Guilty

Morning Call

Former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel plans to plead guilty in a state corruption case.

An order issued Tuesday byDauphin County court says Perzel is scheduled to change his pleas from innocent to guilty at a hearing in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

The order does not specify which charges Perzel will plead guilty to.

Prosecutors have described thePhiladelphia Republican as the architect of a scheme to illegally use millions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer-financed computer technology to gain an edge in political campaigns.

He faces eighty-two counts.

August 30, 2011 at 10:40 am Comments (0)

Santorum’s Chickens Come Home to Roost

And I couldn’t be happier.

[Senator Jim] DeMint, R-S.C., is holding a forum for GOP presidential candidates in his home state on Labor Day. Invitations were extended to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.

Santorum? The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania essentially was invited to watch the event on TV.

Savor the karmic justice my droogs. It’s 1992, and Rick Santorum is Pennsylvania’s principled conservative crusader. Forward to 2004, and Santorum reveals himself to be an establishment hack when he barnstorms the state in support of now-forcibly-retired Democrat Arlen Specter over conservative icon and now-junior-Senator-from-the-great-Commonwealth-of-Pennsylvania Pat Toomey. The best line of that campaign? “A conservative can’t win in Pennsylvania.” Forward to today, and Pat Toomey is the point man for fiscal conservatism for Senate Republicans, Jim DeMint is a national leader for the conservative movement, and the conservative wing of the Republican Party is alive, well, and in power in Pennsylvania.

Rick Santorum? He’s watching from the cheap seats and basking in irrelevance, just like he deserves.

It. Is. Beautiful.

August 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm Comments (4)

Joey Vento Dies

A shame.

One of the few public figures in Philadelphia unafraid to speak his mind.

South Philly legend Joey Vento, who opened Geno’s Steaks at 9th and Passyunk in 1966, died today of a massive heart attack. Vento was 71.

“We’re a little tragic here right now,” Vento’s nephew Joseph Perno, manager at Geno’s, said tonight. “We’re doing fine. So far, so good.”

Vento was a controversial figure, perhaps known best for signs at his steak shop requiring customers to order in English that prompted a lawsuit in 2006. Geno’s Steaks also had a longstanding feud with Pat’s King of Steaks, which claims to have invented the cheesesteak in 1933.

August 24, 2011 at 10:24 am Comments (0)

5.9 Earthquake Felt All Over PA

How ’bout that?

August 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm Comments (0)

Mother Of Year: Denies Abusing Kid Before Slugging Cop (and getting Tased)


Crisis counselors said Lehigh County Children and Youth would have to get involved because of the child abuse allegations. Andino became angry and began yelling, “no one is taking my children,” and began cursing at the people at her home.

Officers told her to stop yelling and cursing, but she continued. She began resisting when police attempted to keep her from going into her home where counselors were conducting their investigation.

She eventually became combative and punched an officer in the head and shoulder. Another officer deployed his Taser and she was taken into custody.

Andino is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment. She was arraigned by District Judge Rod Beck and sent to Lehigh County Prison under $20,000 bail.

I’m sure the judicial system will let that slide.

August 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm Comment (1)

Obama’s Approval Plummets in Pennsylvania

From the Morning Call:

By Colby Itkowitz, Call Washington Bureau12:09 p.m. EDT, August 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, who political experts say will need a win in Pennsylvania to retain the White House, dipped to 35 percent approval among the state’s registered voters, according to a Muhlenberg College poll released Friday.

The results come on the heels of a bad week in polls for Obama that showed him first dropping to 39 percent nationwide in Gallup’s daily tracking poll. Then another set of Gallup results Thursday showed only 26 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is handling the economy.

These numbers are a huge blow to Obama who won the state handily in 2008, and a significant drop in just a few weeks from when Quinnipiac University polled Pennsylvania voters and found the president with 43 percent job approval.

Wow! Those are some bad numbers! Read the rest here.

Of course it’s just reciprocating his opinion of us. Remember the “bitter clinger” talk he gave in San Francisco?

Whoops! Sorry for duplicating Alex’s post. Next time I’ll check before posting.





August 20, 2011 at 3:58 pm Comments (2)

Obama in a Pickle in Poll

Morning Call:

President Barack Obama, who political experts say will need a win in Pennsylvania to retain the White House, dipped to 35 percent approval among PA registered voters, according to a Muhlenberg College poll released Friday.

The results come on the heels of a bad week in polls for Obama that showed him first dropping to 39 percent nationwide in Gallup’s daily tracking poll. Then another set of Gallup results Thursday showed only 26 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is handling the economy.

These numbers are a huge blow to Obama who won the state handily in 2008, and a significant drop in just a few weeks from when Quinnipiac University polled Pennsylvania voters and found the president with 43 percent job approval.



August 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm Comments (0)

Short Term sight

When I talk with people and the subject of politics comes up, you know what I hear?  Questions.  The questions range on a variety of topics related to politics and economics.  I don’t have the answers to all of these questions and that’s not what’s important anyway.  The questions are important and are great indicators of so many things.

I’ll share with you some of the questions – Do these guys know what their doing?  They are only concerned with their re-election aren’t they?  How are businesses supposed to take the risk of spending money when they can’t come close to predicting what the government will do next? etc. etc.

Lots of questions – some better than others.  They all point to a few main things.  The first thing is that people – average joe-six pack- has longer term vision than those in government.  It’s good for people to be thinking longer term.  When people do that, they carry less debt, they think about how much risk to take on, they plan, etc. – these are all very healthy functions.  My only hope is that this is a leading indicator of the direction we are heading and that people start electing people that have similar thoughts.

The second point is that our elected officials are thinking very short term – usually the next news cycle.  I’m not sure who to blame for this, besides ourselves ultimately. We have thrived on the 24 hour cycle – or as I like to call it – entertainment.  It’s very short sighted and our politicians have fallen into this.  We can’t solve our current situation with a 24-hour entertainment thinking.  It took years to get us where we are, it will in all likelihood take years to get us out – that takes long term thinking.

The third point is a little more complicated – I would argue that our elected officials have forgotten how to think long term.  They haven’t had to, or refused to, for so long that it’s become a foreign concept.  Add to that this idea.  Only someone with a vision for themselves or for a group or organization, or nation for that matter can truly think long term.  Having a vision for where you want to go requires you to think things out long term.  It also allows you to see that some short term things that many would view negatively need to be done in order to fulfill the much more positive long term vision. Having a vision is a part of leadership.  We clearly lack leadership in this nation right now.  Disagree?  Tell me – what’s the vision for America?

We lack vision from our elected officials.  Obama doesn’t possess leadership – he has no vision.  He’s a placeholder.  That’s not really what we need right now.  We need someone with a vision.  That will give us true hope.

But here’s the thing – we shouldn’t be relying on some elected official to provide us with a vision – that’s a victim mentality.  That’s saying that we the people don’t have to be responsible for where the country is heading.

The people are starting to think long term.  That’s great.  Now is the time to start thinking in terms of vision – Who are you right now?  Where do you want your life to go?  What do you want to accomplish in life?  Who do you want to become?  Who are you becoming?

Let’s take it upon ourselves to define our lives and our visions.  This is important because we shouldn’t expect anyone else to have a vision and define who they are is we haven’t done it ourselves.  Then when we have done it, we can help someone else do this as well.

August 19, 2011 at 6:40 am Comments (0)

Curfew Doesn’t Address Why Flash Mobs Riot

The televised images of violence and looting triggered one recurring thought in many people— that this isn’t supposed to happen in our civilized cities.

No, we’re not just talking about London, but right here in Philadelphia, as flash mobs have grown more frequent — and more violent.

To deal with mobs — which keep residents barricaded in their homes and visitors out of the city — Mayor Michael Nutter has instituted a citywide curfew.  Areas around Center City have been targeted with an extra police presence.  

Common sense tells us there will be a drop in flash mobs with the curfew, although violent incidents have still been occurring just outside the targeted zones.

In and of itself, the curfew isn’t a bad idea, but that seems to be the Mayor’s only answer, and that’s the real problem.

It should be obvious that a curfew can’t solve the underlying reasons as to why the uprisings are taking place.  But given the fact that flash mobs have been plaguing the city since early 2010, the Mayor has shown himself to be unable or unwilling to address the root causes.

So the problem only worsens.


Curfews Aren’t A Panacea

Curfews are short term, reactive tools of government, a tactic rather than a strategy.  While people feel safer — which is important to keep society functioning — the false sense of security that a curfew provides often evaporates when the situation doesn’t stabilize or the curfew is lifted.

They are simply too expensive and resource-intensive to be permanently maintained. Police become bogged down in the menial work of processing curfew violators and contacting their parents (who will be hit with fines they can’t afford), instead of focusing on the real criminals prowling the city.

And that is simply not the most effective use of our crime-fighting resources.

The other downside is that curfews create resentment among those affected — most of whom are law abiding citizens — because an entire group now becomes classified as criminals for doing something that two weeks ago was perfectly legal.  The majority are punished for the actions of very few.

Measures which are perceived to unfairly target people based on age, skin color and gender will only enflame tensions, not soothe them. And as a result, people take on the persona of that which they are accused of being.

Curfew aside, perhaps the focus should be on targeting actual crime, and concentrate on arresting actual criminals, (not curfew violators).  If the police catch the bad guys, the prosecutors gain convictions, and judges hand down tough sentences, we’d be light years ahead of where we are today.

Here’s the bottom line: you don’t solve a crime problem by making something a crime that is now not a crime.

So why do we do these things? Because they’re easy and make good 30-second sound bites.  While the Mayor wants us to believe that the curfew will make everything right, in reality we are left with a city that is no safer in the long run.

Beyond the curfew, what does the Mayor suggest to solve the problem? That parents and children need to “get their act together” and that there will be a “zero tolerance” for this type of behavior.

Some parents absolutely need to get to get their act together, but for many, they are doing all the right things yet are still swimming against the tide. Things that would improve their situation are out of their control, and the person who could fix the problems — the Mayor — chooses not to.

Too bad Michael Nutter doesn’t employ a zero-tolerance policy where it’s needed most: educational failure and businesses fleeing the city.

Solve the Problem

Sure, there is an element in every society that is violent and lawless, and nothing can ever change that. The only solution for those thugs is a life in prison.

But for the majority of others, crime doesn’t have to be a way of life, but often is because of the lack of opportunities, both educationally and professionally. That’s where bold leadership comes into play, the ability to reverse years of decline with real solutions to the toughest problems.

Unfortunately, this Mayor is totally lacking in that category.

As Freindly Fire has repeatedly noted, the core reason for our situation is the horrendously bad educational system, which directly results in the lack of hope for young people.

There is simply no possibility of receiving a quality education in Philadelphia, despite taxpayers spending more than $17,000 per student, per year.  Some schools are deathtraps and, incomprehensibly, many sport graduation rates in the 20’s and 30’s — and that’s after a huge number have already dropped out. Despite all the rhetoric promising to turn things around, they have only gotten worse.

When the most basic life skills are lacking, the prospects for a decent job are virtually nonexistent, so many of our youth see the dream of a stable and prosperous life as nothing more than an illusion. Faith is lost.

If young people feel they have nothing to live for, they resort to criminal activity. The youths committing these crimes figure that, before they are thirty, they’ll either be dead or in jail. The “I’ve got nothing to lose” attitude turns them into predators, and law-abiding citizens become their prey.

When education is trumped by survival, everybody loses. But no one wants to fix the problem, instead pretending that more money is the solution. Wrong — it isn’t.  Only educational competition — school choice —can turn things around. But it isn’t happening, so another generation will be lost while gutless politicians continue their inane babble which accomplishes nothing.

And speaking of competition, is it any wonder why Philadelphia can’t compete with the nation’s cities that are growing? Could it have something to do with the fact that, cumulatively, it’s the highest taxed city in the country? And that the situation is only worsening?

Under the Mayor’s watch, property taxes have gone through the roof, the city portion of the sales tax has increased 100 percent, pension payments have been deferred, and numerous other taxes and fees have been instituted or proposed. And that’s in addition to what was already a crushing tax load.

It’s a simple cause and effect.  Businesses flee the city or refuse to relocate here. The resulting lack of opportunities in turn triggers despair and increased crime.

As the recently released Pew survey showed, residents who can depart Philadelphia do, leaving behind an underclass with scant opportunities and even less hope.

You wouldn’t treat a heart attack victim by giving him an aspirin, since that would only be treating a symptom. In Philadelphia, curfews and feel-good fairy tale rhetoric have become the “cure” but do nothing other than speed up the city’s deathspiral.


Until leaders with a true understanding of the problems — and how to solve them — take control, citizens will continue to be held hostage to terrorizing thugs, and brazen crime sprees will increase.

Whether its flash mobs, riots, brutal subway attacks, or cops in the crosshairs, it’s clear that respect for authority is waning, and no one is off-limits to the predators.

Create opportunity, and you create stability.  People with good jobs buy houses, have families and become productive, law abiding citizens with an incentive to keep their neighborhoods safe.

Ignore the problems, and you have a powder keg ready to explode. With nothing to lose, all bets are off — and society takes a hit.

Anything less than real solutions will make flash mobs more than just a flash in the pan, but an unfortunate part of everyday city life.  

An accredited member of the media, Chris Friend is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau,

Readers of his column, “Freindly Fire,” hail from six continents, thirty countries and all fifty states. His work has been referenced in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, foreign newspapers, and in Dick Morris’ recent bestseller “Catastrophe.”

Freind, whose column appears regularly in Philadelphia Magazine and nationally in Newsmax, also serves as a frequent guest commentator on talk radio and state/national television, most notably on FOX Philadelphia.  He can be reached at




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August 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm Comment (1)

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