"What's black and white and read all over?"

Saturday, November 19, 2005
Posted 3:21 PM by

Robbing the poor to pay for the rich

After unsuccessfully giving themselves a pay raise, the Pennsylvania Legislature now wants to play reverse Robin Hood with income taxes.

In order to pay for a state-wide property tax reduction, the lawmakers want to impose a higher income tax.

That means retired home owners would pay a lot less and working renters, like me, would pay a lot more.

Nice job fuckers! What a great way to prevent the next generation from ever being able to afford buying a home.


Friday, November 18, 2005
Posted 3:30 PM by

It must be ratings week

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: [aloud] Everybody out at once!
- Casablanca

This how CBS-3 hyped the Club Kama Sutra storyIn case you missed it, Club Kama Sutra at Seventh and South streets got busted last week by Channel 3 (CBS) and the city's Licenses & Inspections agency for running an allegedly illegal sex club without proper permits.

It only took this hypocritical city five years to shut the club down. I mean the name is Kama Sutra, right? What the heck do they think the place was advertising 52 times a year in two weekly "alternative" newspapers and on its Web site?

Hell, City Paper even did a huge feature story on it last year - four years after it opened - which included the front cover.

Nevertheless, "investigative reporter" Todd Quinones and an undercover producer went inside the club and took surreptitious video of customers having sex - sometimes unprotected - everywhere.

"Is this club illegal?" Quinones asked Deputy Commissioner Dominic Verdi.

"Yes, no doubt it's illegal," Verdi replied. "This place is zoned to be a restaurant."

Give me a break. This is what passes as investigative reporting these days?

The club's web site says, "We are fully licensed and legal and have been open in Philadelphia since December 2000."

The only sign outside the club was for the now-defunct Senor Rattler's restaurant. Ironically, a recent state audit found thousands of Pennsylvania restaurants have been licensed in recent years without the required annual inspections for sanitation and health, and penalties for failing the checks have been rare and insignificant.

Which brings us to the real story - Why didn't L&I shut the club down sooner? There are even reviews of it posted on the Internet.

Meanwhile, every week advertisements for escort services/brothels take up two full tabloid pages inside City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly.

But did Quinones or his producer ask Verdi to explain any of that?


An even better question is why haven't the Inquirer or Daily News done anything until this lame TV report aired?

No one has reported that the club was founded by Alan Tizer, the same guy who used to own the now-defunct Diva's International Gentlemen's Club on Route 13 in Bristol, Bucks County.

That strip club - which even had a short-lived TV series, "G-string Divas," on HBO filmed there - closed after one of its dancers, Rachel "Roxanne" Siani, was murdered by patron John A. "Jack" Denofa in April 2000.

I reported on the murder case as the online editor for the Bucks County Courier Times and kept a gallery of stories online dedicated to it and the public response.

That included the passing of a township ordinance imposing new restrictions on existing strip clubs. Club owners challenged the law in court, but later signed an agreement that gave them until Dec. 31, 2005 to conform to the new rules.

Here's hoping Tizer and Kama Sutra sue Channel 3 and Quinones for violating the privacy of the club's more than "5,000 couples who are current members." It would make for one heck of a court case.


Thursday, November 17, 2005
Posted 7:28 PM by

Paper tiger in your tank and Congress

The heads of five major oil companies appear on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2005, to discuss energy pricing and profits before a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Left to right are Lee Raymond for Exxon Mobil, David O'Reilly of Chevron, James Mulva of Conoco Phillips, Ross Pillari of BP America and John Hofmeister of Shell. The chiefs of five major oil companies defended the industry's huge profits Wednesday at a Senate hearing where they were exhorted to explain prices and assure customers they're not being gouged. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)It's taken four years, two hurricanes and gas rising to nearly $3.50 a gallon, but finally somebody in Congress has asked about the elephant in Dick Cheney's closet - the oil industry.

While Cheney has been barnstorming across the country re-writing the administration's historical lie for invading Iraq and accusing others of beating him to the punch, Senators Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., have started asking questions about the energy task force Cheney set up in 2001.

You know, the secret little cabal that "helped" to write the Bush administration's energy policy.

The White House has refused to disclose contacts with industry representatives concerning the task force deliberations.

When asked during a Senate hearing on oil industry profits last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., whether any of the companies' representatives had participated in the task force, four of the executives said they did not and the fifth said he did not know.

The Washington Post, citing White House documents, reported Wednesday that representatives from four of the companies had visited the White House complex and met with Cheney task force officials in early 2001.

Lautenberg has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the executives might be guilty of giving false statements to Congress.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and five other Democrats asked Domenici to recall the executives and require them this time to testify under oath.

The oil executives who testified last week were Lee Raymond, chairman of ExxonMobil Corp.; David O'Reilly, chairman of Chevron Corp.; James Mulva, chairman of ConocoPhillips; John Hofmeister, chairman of Shell Oil Co.; and Ross Pillari, chairman of BP America Inc.

All this from a senate committee that couldn't even force the guys to stand for a photo like the seven tobacco executives did in 1994.

They stood up, took the oath, had their pictures taken and then lied about not believing cigarettes were addictive. Did they ever get prosecuted for perjury? Nope.

You can eventually expect the same treatment here.


Posted 7:08 PM by

Some interesting stuff from New Jersey

Here's my take on a few articles I found at work today that most New Jersey residents should pay attention to, but they probably won't:

Duh, what's a conflict of interest?

Presidents and governing board members of New Jersey public colleges and universities have 30 days to end business relationships with their institutions or resign, according to an executive order signed Wednesday by acting lame-duck Gov. Richard J. Codey.

The order against conflicts of interest comes on the heels of state and federal authorities' scrutiny of financial practices at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. But Codey spokeswoman Kelley Heck said Wednesday that the executive order was part of Codey's broader efforts at reform.

Reform? This from the same state that produced James McGreevey and his indicted friend, Charles Kushner. I don't think so.

Health vs. wealth

Nervous about calls for a smoking ban, New Jersey casinos warned Thursday of economic doom for the gambling halls, saying smoke-free blackjack tables and slot parlors would cause job losses and cut the state's share of casino revenues.

Snuffing out cigarettes in gambling halls would drive gamblers to other states, costing the state $93 million in revenue in the first two years, $80 million of which is earmarked for programs benefiting New Jersey seniors and disabled persons, according to the analysis undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers and paid for by the Casino Association of New Jersey.

"A ban on smoking will not deter people who enjoy casino entertainment from smoking," said Resorts Atlantic City casino president Audrey Oswell, who heads the nine-member association. "Rather it will give them a reason to choose to play in a casino in a neighboring state. A ban on smoking will put New Jersey at a competitive disadvantage, as neighboring states will benefit from New Jersey's loss."

This as Governor-elect Jon S. Corzine is about to inherit a projected multi-billion state budget deficit.

Court records access defined

The acting administrative director of the New Jersey Judiciary on Thursday released a set of guidelines for court staff across the state on providing public access to court records.

An informal inquiry from Judge Philip S. Carchman's office found that the process for releasing records varied from courthouse to courthouse and even from division to division.

The new guidelines start with an "Openness Principle," that says "in the interest of an open and transparent court system, all case-related court records are open to public inspection unless there is a specific statute or court rule that exempts them."

Bravo, your honor. Bravo.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Posted 4:45 PM by

Throw 'em out anyway

So, Pennsylvania lawmakers finally saw the handwriting on the wall Wednesday and repealed the record pay hikes they voted themselves, judges and Gov. Ed Rendell in the dead of night and with no public comment this summer.

Big deal.

It only took a Supreme Court justice getting thrown out on his keister for lawmakers to realize it wasn't a good idea.

Everyone who voted for the hikes before - including Rendell, who signed it into law - still deserves to be voted out of office for thinking they could get away with it.

Yet, Rendell had the gall to say, "After a strong reaction from the citizens of Pennsylvania regarding the pay increase, it is the will of this Legislature to repeal it, and today I am signing a bill that will, for all intents and purposes, put this debate behind us."

By the way, Ed, the law allowing slot machine gambling in Pennsylvania - which was also approved in the dead of night - should also be repealed for the same reason.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Posted 9:24 AM by

Bob Casey Jr. draws first blood

Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. on Monday criticized Sen. Rick Santorum's involvement with lobbyists and unveiled a plan to require lobbyists to report every substantive conversation with federal lawmakers.

Casey, a likely Democratic challenger to the Republican holy roller in 2006, said the two-term senator is a leader of the "K Street Project," a GOP effort to pressure lobbying firms to hire Republicans and keep money flowing to the party.

"What happens at those meetings and as a result of those meetings, is at best of questionable ethics," said Casey, whose plan would bar members of Congress from "using threats or coercion" to influence hiring decisions of lobbying firms.

You may hate Casey for inheriting his name-sake father's mild anti-abortion stance, but you've got to admit the guy has balls. He's also the only high ranking state official who answered his own office phone when I was a newspaper reporter.

To read all about Bob, click here.


Monday, November 14, 2005
Posted 11:41 AM by

Merry Christmas, Mom. Jesus Christ!

Ibuzz - Because jerking off is only half the fun.This new invention, fittingly enough called the IBuzz, is just what the world needed - a vibrator that hooks into an Ipod so you can pleasure yourself in time with your music.

Yep, we can't figure out a susbstitute for gasoline or how to fix the environment. But we can invent crap to help people jerk off.



Sunday, November 13, 2005
Posted 5:45 PM by

About The Daily Rant

The Daily Rant is dedicated to an unknown bar owner in New Orleans I met on my second trip there.

His small hole-in-the-wall used to be along Canal Street. Who knows where Hurricane Katrina, that bitch, moved it or if he's even alive now?

What I remember most about his bar was that there was no door, just a bunch of plastic strips dangling in front. I've seen similar entrances on loading docks. Next to the strips, though, posted on a bulletin board was his own daily editorial cartoon.

The guy was no artist. Just a pissed off barkeep with a Mac and a printer in an extremely corrupt city in a very corrupt state in a pretty corrupt nation.

Drawing the cartoon and posting it was his way of venting and dealing.

Years later, as I look around my state and nation, I now know how he felt. I hope my rants here paint with words the way he used to draw.


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