Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene's Wake

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Storifying' Obama's presidency

Monday, August 15, 2011

Norristown crime and the Mayor Nutter approach

Below is an excerpt from my column. Perhaps more importantly is an excerpt from an AP story on Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutters recent speech at Mt. Carmel church. 

Let's start the conversation or Norristown will never be more than what it is today, a sad shadow of itself. 

We cover a lot of communities, but none that need us more than Norristown right now.
So what is our purpose? It’s certainly not just to report on what we find.
We need to continually be involved in the events that shape our communities and lead the conversation on where to go from here.
Unfortunately, Norristown is currently being shaped by violence. We’ve published stories about the recent murders, shootings and stabbings that have taken place in rapid-fire succession, and there is one recurring theme throughout the comments and on our Facebook page:
There isn’t anything for the kids to do.
While the community organizations and churches have been doing their level best to provide cookouts and activities, there is still a void left when the day is done.
The robotics camp sponsored by Lockheed Martin is a fantastic four-day event, but it is just that: a four-day event.
The Norristown Parks and Recreation Department’s summer camp is a great place for kids, as is the Police Athletic League and the George Washington Carver Community Center, but are they enough?
Right now, they don’t appear to be.
So with a little trepidation based on past history of being bombarded by the naysayers, I am going to continue on my crusade to bring Norristown back to its once proud place of prominence.
Across the county, there are more than a few municipalities that provide a wonderful place for kids to go; places where young boys and girls can fulfill their need for that adrenaline rush many of us once craved like a treat from the ice cream truck.
I’d like to see the residents of Norristown rally around the idea of building a skateboard park so kids will have a place to call their own.
Upper Merion is in the process of building one for their youth; why not Norristown?

This is a way to get kids off the streets, but in reality, it doesn't get to the root of the problem. 
Mayor Nutter (click for video of the speech) gets right to the root, with a pick ax. 

As an elected official and a "proud black man" in the nation's fifth-largest city, Nutter felt he had to go a step beyond ordering a law enforcement crackdown.
So he channeled the spirit of another straight-talking Philadelphian: Bill Cosby. Nutter took to the pulpit at his church last weekend and gave an impassioned, old-fashioned talking-to directed at the swarms of teens who have been using social networks to arrange violent sprees downtown, injuring victims and damaging property. Moreover, he called out parents for not doing a better job raising their children.
"You've damaged yourself, you've damaged another person, you've damaged your peers and, quite honestly, you've damaged your own race," Nutter said at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
The 54-year-old mayor, married with a teenage daughter and a grown son, called out absentee fathers and neglectful parents. He did not mince words, saying they need to be more than just a "sperm donor" or a "human ATM."
"That's part of the problem in our community," Nutter told the congregation. "Let me speak plainer: That's part of the problem in the black community. ... We have too many men making too many babies they don't want to take care of and then we end up dealing with your children."
Is Norristown a microcosm of Philadelphia's worst side?