Monday, December 21, 2015

What are your top stories of 2015?

We all have different versions of different events, but some stories just stand out as the most talked about of the year. Even some you wish people would stop talking about, Kaitlyn Jenner! In my latest rant, which really wasn't much of a rant (I promise to rant more in 2016), I talk about some of the local top stories of the year. But, now it is your turn. Let me know which stories stood out for you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Another possible title: We have no one to blame but ourselves

This week's rant is titled Don't hold your breath on tax relief. I was looking for a photo to go with it because photos get attention in the online world and low and behold, what did I find? The photo above, as you can see, is from a column I wrote more than two years ago! How long are we going to accept the inaction on the part of our elected officials? Apparently 'the people' are not fed up enough!

Monday, December 7, 2015

#GivingTuesday should last all year round!

We had an incredible Winter Concert Dec. 4, 2015 at The Centre Theater. From a 5 year old girl playing piano to a couple of near virtuoso performances on cello. We need to raise enough money to bring more students into the theater for music lessons. One student played without even using sheet music! I was thinking about the column when I wrote this week's rant on giving back.

Monday, November 30, 2015

New game plan needed in PA

I've been ranting about property tax relief for so long now that I would be hard pressed to even remember how the topic first got me fired up. I'm sure it was somewhere near the 10th time in a row my local school district raised property taxes, but I'm not quite sure. During that time I've followed with great interest any news stories on the possibility of said relief, all to no avail. I've pushed hard for reform, even going so far as delivering stacks of letters to Harrisburg from resident who were/are completely fed up with the antiquated collection system. Last week might well have been the last straw. The state Senate finally got enough moxie to pull off a vote on the elimination of the property tax as a funding mechanism for public education when what do you think happened? That's right, thrown out at the plate. Read how it all went down in my latest rant.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Attitude a big piece of Norristown’s revitalization puzzle

There isn’t much anyone can do about the past. I think everyone knows that. Certainly, we need to learn from the past and do our best to not repeat mistakes that have been made, but lamenting about the good ol’ days doesn’t do a lick of good when it comes to what we’re going to do to prepare for the future. That was the overriding sentiment, at least one of them, at last week’s Norristown Rising Roundtable discussion held at the Centre Theater. So I decided to take off on that in last week's rant. People with bad attitudes bring the whole group down to their level.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Norristown road less traveled is now open to traffic

Road closures, road blocks, detours, does anyone like them? I don’t even like road construction. But I do understand they’re necessary evils. You could say they’re just evil, but I don’t think the closures and detours are done on purpose, so I’ll stick with necessary evil. In my latest rant I somehow take the opening of Markley Street to two way traffic and turn it into a way to mention the Centre Theater Music School, yet again!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Time to bring a little culture to Norristown

The Centre Theater Music School is up and running. We're looking for students and teachers! Bringing a little culture to the county seat. Talking about that and much more in this week's column. Right now we have one teacher giving piano lessons on Friday afternoons. He has four students, and they’re making incredible progress considering the amount of time he has been teaching them. And the school is expanding. We have world-renowned cellist Steve Kramer, who will be teaching classes for us on Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. And the cost for the classes? Very similar to some of those television commercials when they tell you the price is so low that we can even advertise it here! We do have some brochures printed up, though, and they have the prices right there in black and white for the world to see.

Monday, August 24, 2015

"The lion sleeps tonight"

For those of you who have not been following along, I’ve been on a mission to find photographic evidence of the lion that once roamed the grounds of the Elmwood Park Zoo. I’m working on a book about the zoo and while there was plenty of talk about the lion, I didn’t have a picture, and I didn’t want to mention the story about the lion without having a photo, so I posted my plea on the Facebook page, You Know You’re From Norristown When, and the response was terrific. While it may not have gone viral in the traditional sense, the post did garner 44 likes and 75 comments. In my latest column I thank Susan Owad for coming through in the clutch!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Help! I agreed to do this new book before I realized what I was taking on. If you have some old photos of the zoo you'll most likely make it into the book, and you'll get full credit! My latest rant is not a rant at all, but a plea!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Huskey's Brigade is getting ready to march

So, a 'friend' of mine called to tell me he wasn't happy that I continue to write about property tax reform. He then went on to tell me that another columnist really ticked him off because he wrote about how America is moving toward imperialistic rule. Hmmm, I wonder how he's going to like next week's rant about how freedom of speech is becoming a right that only the left is permitted to enjoy?

Monday, June 29, 2015

We must start rewriting the Pennsylvania property tax stories

If there was a way to make this required reading for all state representatives and state senators I would do it in a New York minute. Maybe if everyone reading this would either cut it out or send the link to their own state rep or state senator, we could reach a good portion of them anyway. Maybe if they had to pick up my phone from time to time you wouldn’t have to. Or maybe, they get the same telephone calls, and they just haven’t been able to make it happen. In this week's rant I talk about Rose. She's 82 and she's about to lose her home because she can no longer afford to pay her property taxes. We should be able to write a different story for Rose.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dreaming of Independence (Day) from property tax

I'm not really sure, but I'm beginning to think that I just might be the human definition of insanity. How many times can I keep writing about property tax reform and expect a result different than what we have today? In my latest rant I'm actually hoping for the day that I will be able to tell my grandkids, of which I have none at this time, about how property tax reform finally came to fruition.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Classical music coming to Montgomery County, PA

We’ve been in the process of establishing the Centre Theater Music School for so long now it seems more like a medical procedure than a process. I’ve been saying it for years, and I’m going to keep saying it until it actually comes to fruition: Norristown can revitalize itself with the help of the arts. It has happened time and time again throughout Montgomery County and all of southeastern Pennsylvania. Perhaps, what we’ve needed all along is something special, something unique to kick start the movement. This is that something special. When was the last time you had the opportunity to hear live, classical music in Norristown? And the caliber will be something to behold. Steve Kramer is bringing a few of his friends with him to Norristown on June 28, including a first chair violinist from the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. I have learned there are several first chair violinists, but one is also known as the concert master. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ll ask Steve when he gets a few minutes to himself. Right now he’s preparing for the afternoon, and also teaching at Musicopia. The afternoon, by the way, starts with cocktails at 2 p.m. and the performance begins at 3 p.m. In my latest rant, which is more of a plea this week, I talk about the positive impact music can have on the children of Norristown.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Spring cleaning should include Pennsylvania's antiquated election laws

I'm not 100 percent sure, but I believe there are only three other states in this country that have closed primaries. In this week's rant, I ask for a change, and it would also be nice if there was an answer as to why! Between cross filing and closed primaries it's a wonder people go to the polls at all during off-year election. Wait a minute, most of them don't. Only 14 percent of registered voters bothered to make their way to the polls.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Spring cleaning time, and I have the broom

The first thing to take a broom to is all of the registered voters who decided to stay home during the primary election a couple of weeks ago. Just about 14 percent of the registered 532,200 voters in Montgomery County decided to make the effort at the polls on May 19. You reap what you sow, folks, you reap what you sow. I know I’ve written this before, but I am tempted to just not cover elections at all. It would be interesting to see how many people even notice. You can find this and more in this week's rant, and I'm already working on a follow up, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Freedom of speech is for all, not just for those who complain

How is it that it is no loner socially acceptable to believe in what you want to believe in? In my latest rant I talk about freedom of speech and about how we're actually whittling away at that right with all of the protest against those who want to have the freedom to stand up for what they believe in, even if it doesn't fit the latest socially acceptable norm.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A rant that bears repeating - Vote!

I often feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I write this column, but just like the coverage we provide for the elections, which seems to attract fewer and fewer voters, especially in off-year elections, I feel like it is my civic duty to encourage folks to get to the polls. This year is an off-off year and will only see an extremely small percentage of the voters who come out during a presidential election. And since I’m a betting man of sorts, I’ve got a cup of coffee for anyone who thinks turnout will be above 25 percent in the county. Any takers? I didn’t think so. And it’s such a shame. It really is. We’re about to elect folks responsible for setting our property taxes. We’re about to elected judges who will decide the fate of our fellow man.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Final TED talk installment

I've been on a mission to create a TED talk. I doubt that I'll ever get to give it, but at least I was able to write it. This is the final piece, which I used for this week's column. My premise is that we cannot allow social media to overshadow real journalism, which, ironically created the first social media platform. Talk amongst yourselves!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Newspapers: The original social media platform

Have you heard of TED talks? I want to do one. There’s an online application and as soon as I come up with enough words for an 18-minute speech I’m going to apply. A TED talk is cut off at 18 minutes. I’m not sure why, but attention span probably has a lot to do with it. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and there are conferences held around the country where people speak on a particular topic. So, I’m auditioning here today. The following is the beginning of my talk. Newspapers were the first social media platform. Sure, cave drawings were probably first, but you had to be invited into the cave to see the etchings. Then there were hieroglyphics, but again, if you weren’t standing in the pyramid, you didn’t know what you were missing. The Romans, of course, were the first to publish a public document, Acta Diurna, which were public notices etched into stone and put in the town square for people to see. A more advanced version of the cave drawings to say the least. The publications would sometimes be copied and sent out to the outlying regions of the empire and be shared with the people there; a very heavy social media platform, but social media nonetheless as the notices soon evolved to include birth announcements, marriages and deaths. The first Acta is believed to be dated to 131 BC. Years before, Egyptian hieroglyphics were used as a form of communication. Hieroglyphics date back to nearly 4,000 BC, but most people couldn’t read them, so I’m not sure we’re able to qualify them as a social media platform. In my latest rant, I talk about the evolution of the forerunners for social media as we know it today, from the cave dwellers above to the brave souls who founded this country. After the revolution newspapers spread like wildfire, sharing stories of triumphs and tribulations of individuals for the first time, unfettered. Sharing is the staple of social media, and sharing true news, written by trained journalists is a form of sharing our Republic cannot survive without, and yet newspapers being threatened by the very movement they started hundreds of years ago.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The social world is all a Twitter

In my humble opinion, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, was one of the first useful pieces of social media to permeate our society, no matter how small it was back in the Revolutionary War days. Thankfully, Mr. Paine didn’t take the opportunity to tell folks what he had for lunch, or where he was heading off to for vacation, but to inform the public that the British were getting out of hand with their heavy handed way of ruling the colonies. Five years ago, parents around the world were trying to figure out what the heck Facebook was all about, and now they've nearly taken over the social media platform. In this week's rant I talk about the how socially acceptable Twitter is becoming. In another five years, we'll probably have another five popular platforms for people to espouse their daily routines from and Twitter will be as commonplace as a quick telephone call.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring tax bill is jolting reminder of school property tax bill to come

The annual rite of spring that brings my local and county tax bill to my door always brings a burst of sunshine into my humble abode. You did read that with the appropriate amount of sarcasm laced in, didn’t you? To be perfectly honest, I really don’t mind paying the local and county tax bill. And, to keep with the honesty thing, I meant what I wrote in that last sentence. The local and county tax bill pays for my roads and bridges; it also pays for my police protection, things that I couldn’t provide for myself, thus the need for government to step in. But that spring bill reminds of the one that comes due in the fall. Now that I think about it, I’ll ad the school property tax bill to the ever growing list of reasons why I don’t like the fall. I know what’s coming. And I think you know what's coming in my latest rant.

Monday, April 6, 2015

What's in a name?

When it comes right down to it, anything but complete elimination of the school property tax will be a complete and utter failure. We all know that any form of a property tax left open at the local level will be used to tax us again and again. In my latest rant I use the name game to make my point.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Saying goodbye to Chick's will take some time

Bridgeport is losing an institution. What was your favorite meal? Mine? I went through the wings, the mussels and more, but the tuna melt, my favorite by far. In this week's rant I, well, I don't really rant at all, but I do go down memory lane and remember a childhood kind of Chick's. If you didn't frequent Chick's in Bridgeport, tell us about your favorite restaurant. Where is it, what kind of food did they serve, and what was/is your favorite dish?

Monday, March 9, 2015

What a difference a party makes

About 10 years ago former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell was able to get gambling passed under the guise of providing property tax relief for Pennsylvanians. Now Democratic Governor Tom Wolf is proposing a budget that will provide property tax relief, if he can only raise taxes. Unfortunately, the local school property tax will remain. Please tell me we're not falling for a different sheep in 'Wolf's' clothing. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Here's this week's rant. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Should all documents produced with taxpayer dollars be open to the public?

I probably do this every year, and if you’re a regular reader you may be able to recite the following from memory, but I think it is important to keep alive what I consider to be one of the most profound statements from one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson. “We’re it left for me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” At the heart of the quote is Jefferson’s well known distrust of a government with too much power, and the power of a free press. In this week's rant, I take a look at national Sunshine Week, and at all the documents that should be available to the taxpaying public. I guess the issue here is, do you agree?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The sweet smell of vindication

It doesn't happen very often, at least for me, but when it does, why not enjoy it? In last week's rant I talked about the possibility of Montgomery County, PA following in the footsteps of Montgomery County, Maryland...about 10 years ago. The vindication came when I read a report by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia that talks about doing the exact same thing!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Not all Muslims are terrorists, but are all terrorists Muslim?

This week’s rant is about President Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Obama told the audience that we should make sure to not get on our high horse about the violence taking place in the name of Islam because Christians are also guilty of the same sins. Of course, he had to reach back nearly a millenium to the crusades to make his analogy. He did try to bring his analogy a little closer to our time in history by referencing slavery and Jim Crow laws, but I’m not sure either was linked to Christianity. There has been national outrage over Obama’s remarks at the breakfast, and perhaps rightfully so, but in my opinion, his remarks are right in line with other remarks he has made about terrorists over the years. He doesn’t seem to want to link terrorism to Islam. Think about that for a minute. Can you think of any act of terrorism carried out in recent memory that wasn’t done in the name of Islam, radical though it may be. And I’m not by any stretch of the imagination trying to say that all Muslims are terrorists, but it sure is starting to seem like all terrorists are Muslim.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Where would you spend your money if it wasn't going to property taxes?

Long headline, I know, but that's the gist of this week's rant. What’s your biggest bill every month? For most of us, it’s going to most likely be the amount of money you pay toward your mortgage, or your rent. Unless of course you’re driving around in a Lamborghini, then you probably have a higher car payment than I have a mortgage payment. But let’s just go with your mortgage payment. Now, depending on what you paid for your home, and how long you’ve owned your home, there’s a chance the amount of taxes you’re paying each fall may just exceed the amount you’re paying each month for the actual house. I was talking with someone who lives in a nice house, not a McMansion by any stretch, but a nice house, and I was shocked to learn they were paying $8,000 a year in school district property taxes. That works out to, oddly enough, $666 a month. I’m not saying the devil is at work here, but I will say the devil is certainly in the details. Imagine you have an extra $666 a month in disposable income. The first thing I would do is try squirrel away about half of it, but I’d almost guarantee I’d be spending the other half.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Which piece of the puzzle is Norristown missing?

That's probably a loaded question, but it needs to be asked. There are a lot of good things happening in Norristown right now, and there is momentum for revitalization, but it certainly hasn't kicked into gear just yet. So what's missing? In this week's rant I look at what I believe just might be the missing piece.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Would you donate a dollar to save your town?

How much change do you have in your pocket or purse right now? Chances are, it’s close to a dollar, maybe two. If so, how much would it affect your ability to pay your bills this month if you were to send one dollar to a worthy cause? And what if you knew that dollar could make a difference? I mean a real difference. Norristown is on the brink of revitalization, but there are certain key pieces to the puzzle that also have to be in place for it to make a real come back. A town not only needs to be clean, and safe, and have a thriving business community, but it also needs to have a vibrant arts scene. Unfortunately, the arts community cannot be self-sustaining. It needs the help of the communities it serves to keep the creative juices flowing. To that end, the Centre Theater in Norristown is struggling and it needs your help. In this week's rant I explore the possibilities of what a dollar could actually do for the county seat of Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Norristown needs to resolve itself to revitalize

In my latest rant I go off about New Year's resolutions and how people pretty much dumped them after the first couple of weeks of January are in the books. I think people should resolve to do things when the moment strikes, not at the end of the year when they're thinking about all the things they should have done before the calendar came around for a change.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Calling Christopher Walken: Norristown needs more cow bell!

In my latest rant I talk about the good things in Norristown that are attracting people to downtown again, but, as I see it, there just aren't enough venues. We need more cowbell! Within the past couple of years we have seen new restaurants come along, including Banh Mi and Almaz CafĂ©, to join La Michoacana and August Moon, two established restaurants that anchor Main and Arch streets. The international flair is there, we just need to bring everyone together to talk about it, and more importantly to tell people who live outside Norristown about it. The addition of the new Five Saints Distillery, which is expected to debut sometime late this year, will add another dimension to Main Street. August Moon also hosts Second Saturday jazz nights every month drawing a crowd from far and wide to come into town to hear authentic jazz that might make you think you were sitting in a speak easy on Iberville St. in New Orleans. But the restaurants alone won’t keep the momentum going. We need specialty shops, and more eateries, to complement the two theaters we have in the county seat. The Centre Theater is holding ‘A Night of Wine and Roses’ with two live shows on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day. Tickets can be purchased at There are a lot of other events at the theater, which is currently undergoing a series of renovations throughout the building to attract a more diverse audience, including a space for music lessons and a small independent and second run movie theater. Theatre Horizon, celebrating its 10th anniversary, continues to produce stellar stage productions, and also holds acting classes, hosts an autism drama program as well as an after school drama club. These are the things that attract people to downtowns all across America. And we need more of them.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Journalism's future in 2015 and beyond

No, I'm not trying to channel Buzz Lightyear, I'm just thinking about the future of our newsrooms. In this week's rant I take a moment to reflect on the past year, but spend the majority of time talking about what the future of journalism holds. I think it's a bright future. You may not. No matter where you stand on the subject always remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: "Were it left to me to decide whether there should be government without newspapers or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." Well said, Tom, well said.