Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pennsylvania Needs Clean Elections, and you can Help!

Hello again, everyone.

While I was on the train today, I happened upon this article in the Philadelphia Metro. It was very refreshing to read it, and I would like to point it out to all of you:

My View: Time to clean up elections

By Thomas Keown

Imagine if the best candidate could get elected no matter how little money they had. Imagine if the best arguments and not the best lobbyists delivered the best decisions. Fundraising for next year’s presidential elections is at nosebleed levels. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are already shattering Democratic records, and Mitt Romney has practically bought television in Iowa and New Hampshire. A wit once quipped that “in America, anyone can become president — that’s just one of the risks you live with.” Not anymore. You need a fortune.

But at state level we have started making inroads into the money that decides which laws get made and which don’t. Clean — or publicly funded — election legislation has been passed in seven states with significant results. In Maine, 83 percent of senators are “clean” candidates. In the legislation’s first year, a woman was elected from public housing to the Senate, as was a fresh graduate. Neither had a bean and neither would have thought the door to politics would open to them without clean elections. Now Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants to see it at the federal level, too.

It’s a simple premise. Candidates qualify for funding by raising a specified number of $5-$10 donations varying by the office — more for gubernatorial races than for state representative, for example — and agreeing not to accept any private donations. The state then funds their campaign roughly equally to the average spending for the same campaign in the last two to three years. If an opponent is not a clean elections candidate and raises more, the state matches it. But there is no incentive to do so and the mad money stops.

The result is that the smart — not just the rich — can run, more time is spent on issues than fundraising and, once elected, you are beholden to no one. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano has said she was able to provide prescription subsidies for seniors on the day she was elected because, as a clean elections candidate, the pharmaceutical lobby had no claims on her.

Opponents argue they don’t want their money spent on candidates they dislike. But that’s naive unless you don’t mind having your tax dollars continue to cover corporate subsidies and tax breaks to the industries with big lobbyists instead. Imagine your elected representatives accountable to you and not their donors. Imagine democracy.

For all the hype and demand we have for campaign finance laws, this would be THE law to help quell all of it, not just in Philadelphia, but in the entire state of Pennsylvania! I don't want to merely parrot the writer, but clean elections can, and will, ensure that we have not only the best candidates, but also an election process that is actually fair to all candidates running. I won't miss the obvious; if this law was in place, it would have helped me a lot.

So what I want to do is to begin to lobby to have this placed into effect here in the state of Pennsylvania. I want this to become a law within, at the most, the next 4 years, if not before the next gubernatorial election.

I will need help to do this. If anyone out there is willing to help me in this, please offer your tips and suggestions here! If you want to help me change this by offering your services, even better!

For more information, please go to the following websites:

Public Campaign:

Wikipedia Article on Clean Elections:

News on what is happening in Pennsylvania to make this happen:

With that said, I look forward to your replies, and together, we can make this commonwealth even better!

-Larry West

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


First, thanks to Brian Howard of The Clog for posting this:


As I always say, skateboarding is NOT a crime, and it's sickening that attempts are made by the Philadelphia Police to practice "Selective-enforcement" of crimes. In this same park, there are people dealing drugs, desecrating the area with vandalism, and the park is left in an overall bad condition. To have a group of young people who are dedicated to keeping the park in decent shape, all while enjoying themselves in a manner that hurts or harms anyone, is sickening.

I ask that the Philadelphia Police begins the long-overdue crackdown on cyclists who constantly are allowed to break the established traffic laws and banning in various parks. If I almost get run-over by a cyclist at City Hall again, someone is getting a REALLY angry letter!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Yes, Bootlegging is a Crime

When I saw this, I immediately was shocked and glad to hear it:

Bootleg Bust Nets $225k in Merchandise

I'm glad to see this happen, and honestly, the bootleg DVD market in this city is sickening. More than anything, it pisses me off because I buy all my DVD's legally, and I used to work for a music/movie store myself. While many simply write it off as nothing more than a simply matter of the RIAA and MPAA need to take care of themselves, obvious acts concerning this activity are widely ignored.

The first, and most important example, is the fact that this IS a form of organized crime. It is a very rare situation that your average bootlegger is just one person in their basement constantly making and printing bootleg DVD's and CD's to sell. Instead, it is normally a broad system of various people committing this crime. Just like with real DVD's, these operations have a manufacturer, a distribution center, and people to sell the product themselves. This tends to be on the street or on-line at auction sites. This all adds up into a form of organized crime.

My question to those who scoff at me for making this an issue, I have to ask; Are you so willing to turn a blind eye to organized crime? If your so willing to end this epidemic, wouldn't help to go after these incredibly large bootleg operations? Isn't one form of organized crime normally linked to others?

The next thing that needs to be stressed is the very simple fact that this IS a crime. It isn't about if you think the police should spend their time on it or not, it's just about basic enforcement. Part of my platform calls for a crackdown on minor crimes. While many may see bootlegging as just a minor, the reality is that it falls into a few different categories of federal law. Organized crime, copyright infringement... The list goes on.

If nothing else, let's just ignore that the MPAA and the RIAA are normally the faces of these crackdown. The reality is that that the people being hurt most are the actual writers, directors, actors, layout artists, storyboarders, and all the countless other people who work on these films. Let's not forget all the musician's, graphic designers, and engineers who work and create their music. They all lose money and they all have their work devalued by this.

In the end, it isn't a victim-less crime; YOU pay. You pay because you decide to tolerate crime. You pay because your paying more money for buying music and movies legally. When revenue is lost, it needs to be made up, and most of the time, it's us, the people who buy our movies and music legally, that wind up paying for it.

I am simply advocating that the Philadelphia Police Department no longer turns an overall blind eye to this and begins to start going after these criminals as well as all the others. This massive bootlegging bust is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

How the Media can Help Lower the Murder Rate

Wow, what a title, huh? The NEWS MEDIA lowering the murder rate? Frankly, this is the post I've wanted to write for a LONG time!

Today, there were ARRESTS made in the Killing of a 15-year-old for a Dirt Bike. The story got a lot of press immediately, and there was a large sense of outrage from the community about it. Again, no one was coming forward. Finally, someone saw 3 teenagers walking down the street with the bike covered.

What did this person do? THEY CALLED THE POLICE!

Yes, someone in Philadelphia did the right thing and alerted the police of this, helping to get a 16-year-old killer off the streets! It shows that there are people, even young people, who are taking steps to make sure Philadelphia is safe for everyone. Insult to injury? "Adult Told Teens To Get 'Dead Kid's' Bike Out Of House"

Unfortunately, it seems this story is getting buried a bit. It's late night, 10PM+, and Fox 29 had this on about 20 minutes into their cast. CBS 3 had it on at about 5 minutes in, and only for 30 seconds. 6 ABC? Nothing.

NBC 10 did lead with it, so kudos to them!

I've seen some sincere passion from these TV reporters when it comes to these murders. Jim Garner of 6ABC always seems to be especially annoyed with them, and honestly, I doubt any of us can blame him. So just what can the media do to change this?

This story. THIS is what we want! We want people to come forward and give this information to the police! We need to start showing, and supporting, people who do come forward and the positive impact it has! It shouldn't be buried behind another murder; THIS IS FRONT PAGE NEWS! THIS IS RARE! IT'S INTERESTING! IT'S IMPORTANT!

It seems easy to me, really; If the news outlets focus more on the positives that are happening, if they show the same results they always say they want, we can see a reduction in violence! We will see more people come forward because we'll see that other people have and this can encourage more people to do just that.

If the media outlets really care about reducing this violence, I ask them to please start reporting more and more about people coming forward with information and have it lead.