Friday, October 26, 2007

What Every Other Candidate is Afraid to Talk About: SEX

I think it's safe to say that not one person running for office in this city has even mentioned the dreaded 3-letter word during this election; SEX. Despite what has happened in this city during the last 4 years, I could only assume that it isn't something they either feel comfortable talking about, or something that they feel isn't an issue.

It is, and I just want to point out why it is an issue.

In 2004, one out of 12 teenage girls in the city of Philadelphia had Chlamydia. The result was a massive outbreak in our cities high school of multiple STD outbreaks. Despite this, there is still a lack of overall good sexual education in our public high schools and the availability of free condoms to promote safe sexual health is lacking.

Despite the fact that there are 10 clinics run by the Philadelphia Health Care Center, only 2 of them offer STD testing.

There is no federal website informing citizens of STD rates in Philadelphia, or just what STD's are around. If there is, they've made it incredibly difficult to find!

In my platform, and when I'm elected, I plan on reforming this and making sure that Philadelphia becomes a national leader in safe sexual health! To simply ignore our most basic instinct and to hope it works itself out is not going to work.

1. In order to help stop the spread of STD's in the Philadelphia among not only our youth but also our adults, I will start by funding OPERATION: SAFE SEX. Free condoms will be given out at high schools, colleges, all government buildings, and will be given to any business requesting them. And business willing to hand out the free condoms will be given a small tax break.

2. There are 10 clinics run by the Philadelphia Health Care Center, and only 2 of them offer STD testing. When elected, we will make sure that all clinics have specialized treatment in STD testing and treatment. This will encourage more people to be screened and tested!

3. The City of Philadelphia will have a mandatory Sex Education course in all Philadelphia High Schools, with no one being allowed to miss it. All students will be taught the basics of human sexuality, encouraged to practice abstinence, and taught about both proper use of condoms and other contraceptives, as well as STD's that can result of unprotected sex. This will give teenagers a fair and balanced look at sex and allow them to make what they consider to be the proper choices in their lives regarding their own personal sexuality. In addition to that, all students will be given mandatory classes on how to properly raise a child.

4. Currently, the Philadelphia does not have much in terms of information about STD's in the City of Philadelphia, and very little to help educate citizens of STD's. We need a web site that has information and reports about reported STD's in both high schools, colleges, and the overall health of Philadelphia.

All of these measures are NOT to encourage sex out of wedlock, and they are NOT here to encourage people to have sex. Myself? I am not afraid to admit that, yes, I am a virgin. I went to Catholic School for 13 years, and I never received what I consider a proper education in terms of sexual health. It is because of this that I want to educate all high school students on proper sexual health.

We can not always rely on parents to do this job. Sex is one of the most difficult topics to discuss, but it is essentially a basic human function. We need to encourage those in this city who are most at risk and most likely to have unprotected sex to learn ways to protect themselves, their partners, and everyone else.

Without a doubt, what I want is controversial; not everyone is comfortable with having condoms in high schools, let alone a mandatory class in Sexual Health. I am the man who fights against the government telling us how to live, and that they are here to be a safety net. In essence, that is exactly what this is. The education is to teach everyone what sexual reproduction is and what it means. It is to educate teenagers of the risks involved in sex, and to encourage them to practice abstinence, but to ensure that they learn proper sexual health in the case they fall.

My policy is here to help, not legislate, sexual health in the City of Philadelphia.

This is a platform developed by talking to educators, parents, high school students, college students, and countless members of the community. I believe this is the best way tackle this issue, and I sincerely hope you will all join me in this.

I thank you very much for your time, and I sincerely hope you have a wonderful and productive day!

-Larry West

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In the Unlikey Case I Don't Win the Election...

NOTE: This post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. There is some truth to what you read, but not everything is a fact! Please proceed with caution!

Well, it's about 2 weeks before the election, and so far, I haven't been invited to one debate, forum, etc... It's enough to make you wonder what I'll do in case I don't win. I have sat down and thought about it. The answers may not shock you, and wind up pleasing you:

1. Get a REAL Job. It seems a lot of people are intent with me doing this and don't consider running for a mayor a "real job". I can only assume because you don't get paid to do this... and I haven't had any luck with fundraising or getting on the ballot. I should have taken Stephen Colbert's idea and gotten sponsorships. I have a few places interested.

2. Go head-first into my Art Career. I've had some luck getting freelance work during the election, and I just finished re-designing my website and MySpace page to get new clients. If running for office falls through, I don't mind just drawing again. I did go to school for it.

3. Audition as the lead vocalist of DAATH. Daath is a relatively new Death-Metal band. they just lost their old vocalist and it would be awesome to see the country, maybe the world, with these guys. But do we really need another major (OK, maybe not MAJOR) musician out there spewing their political beliefs?

4. Finally Start my own band! I've been trying to start one for a while now. I'm no Jello Biafra, but...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

PHILADELPHIA: Leading the Way for Taking Away Your Freedoms!

Sometimes this city makes me sick.

In the last two years, the citizens of Philadelphia has seen what can only be called “Too Much Government!” I have always been aware of the fact that we as citizens must constantly ask ourselves some rather basic questions about our government, namely this: What is the roll of government in a democracy? To some, the roll of government is meant to be nothing more than a “thing”, something that sits as an obelisk and sometimes intervenes. To others, it is a constant babysitter.

But to me, and to those who want freedom and liberty, the roll of our government is to simply be there when we need them! The roll of these employees of ours, the roll of those we hire and have decided to put in charge, the people we are in charge of... their job is to be our safety net. They are here to enforce OUR laws and OUR ideas. They are not here to tell us what to do and when to do it! We all live in a constant fear of a Big Brother Government, where those in the government can look up anything and everything we do, that they track our every move.

Yet, we allow them to do just that!

No, there are not cameras in your houses. No, there are no bar codes on your neck. And, no, your not forced to stand in front of a TV screen for 5 minutes and told to hate the enemy or face ridicule from everyone and possibly be called a terrorist. But we ARE allowing our government to control us, and we are simply letting it happen!

In the last two years in Philadelphia, the rights of citizens have been stripped away! Layer by layer, pound by pound, we are falling prey to our fears of criminals, of murders, and allowing those fears to govern our ways of thinking and our politics! Yes, Big Brother is here, and the signs have been there for you to look out for!

The smoking ban. A lot of people supported this as a way to clean up the air in Philadelphia, to make our city a shining example of what a pro-health law can do! But the reality is that it was just the beginning of a slippery slope, one that many who opposed the ban warned us of but many chose to ignore. Lets consider this fact: A large number of restaurants and businesses have taken it upon themselves to ban smoking. Before the ban, it was nearly impossible to smoke in most restaurants in Philadelphia. If you did, you were put in an uncomfortable and awkward smoking section. That alone should make you want to quit but, at the very least, you had the freedom and your right to smoke.

But City Council with Nutter at the helm said that wasn't enough. They decided, not us, that there needed to be a large ban on this. That this ban must apply to bar and outdoor restaurants. They, not us, decided what was better and healthier for us. We, as grown adults, were declared too foolish to do so. They decided that businesses were inept at deciding their own policies. Thus began the slow decay.

Since then, we have seen the TransFat ban, a ban that is hypocritical in and of itself. While many fast food restaurants and bakeries have begun to eliminate TransFat from their food, City Council decided that these harmful fats must be banned! THEY decided that we can't make sensible health decisions for ourselves and, like your parents, they must regulate what you eat! And, of course, the ban doesn't effect local restaurants and bakeries, so the ban really targets corporations. I sincerely hope that McDonalds sues City Council and whoever voted for this legislation for discriminating against corporations in terms of public health, especially since local businesses tend to be very fattening. Cheese steaks, Tasty cakes, pretzels... the list goes on.

Taking the lead and these bands is Councilman Darrel Clark. The man is a step away from declaring himself Czar of Philadelphia at this point. First he ignores the Anthony Reilly case. For those not familiar, Anthony Reilly was the young man who was arrested for singing in Rittenhouse Square, leading to a city-wide debate on the right of performing music in public without a permit. Anthony was found not-guilty. While decrying gun violence, he has gone on to suggest that the City of Philadelphia should TRACK purchases of cigarettes and alcohol. He wants you to have to scan your ID every time you purchase either item.

Most recently, he now wants to start tracking sales of spray paint. Why? He reasons that most graffiti is being done by adults. The bill neglects that most graffiti artists don't buy their paint, they steal them. At the same time, there is already laws and rules in effect for not allowing minors to buy any spray paint.

The Licenses and Inspection Unit has now begun a seemingly unprovoked attack on artists in Philadelphia. First Friday in Center City, when peaceful artists gather on 2nd Street to sell their artwork, play music, and enjoy the new art galleries opening. In recent months, the department of L&I have begun sending officers to arrest people for this practice, declaring they now need Permits to do so, namely a vendors license. Myself? I was told to leave while a homeless person next to me continued to beg. Again, the City of Philadelphia is slowly draining the arts and culture from Philadelphia.

Let us not forget that Nutter is proposing we have a Crime Emergency declared in Philadelphia. This is, without a doubt, the boldest solution to the crime problem out there. And as much as I like the guy, this is the deal breaker. The Crime Emergency would limit or prohibit gatherings in public on sidewalks or elsewhere. It would halt or limit cars and trucks within targeted areas, establish a curfew, and take away the right to legally carry a weapon. It is, in essence, putting away the U.S. Constitution and deciding that the freedom of the citizens of Philadelphia is only secondary to safety. The fact that this has not been made into a major issue is something that makes me wonder just what the citizens of Philadelphia considers "progress".

Add into this his "Stop and Search" program, and it paints a rather bad picture. It would give officers the power and authority to stop anyone who "looks suspicious" and search them. One of the problems in Philadelphia is that the citizens in these high-crime areas do not like the police. It isn't simply the criminals; a lot of good citizens feel the police simply don't care about them, and many of them feel that quite a few officers are biased in these assessments. I don't believe that, and I don't agree with that viewpoint, but the sad fact of the matter is that this is a stigma that a lot of people have. Add into this that in most high crime areas the response time is rather slow, and you have a public with an overwhelming negative viewpoint of the people who are suppose to protect them. T

he program is in effect in other high-crime areas in other cities, and the criticism has always been that the officers doing these are doing it based on, sadly, racial lines. One thing Nutter has done to defend this is state a fact; Most of these crimes are being done by a specific group, in this case, young black men. It's a sad, terrible fact, and since I happen to fall into that category myself, I am worried about being targeted for no real reason. But he does make a point, but this could very well become a stumbling block in the very progress he wants. If this program makes law-abiding citizens feel as if they are being unfairly targeted, then they may leave this city.

The program, overall, severely limits the civil liberties and constitutional freedoms that this city fought long and hard to attain and defend in the first place. Nutter's plan would strip a large portion of our law-abiding citizens of these freedoms in order to capture and target the criminals that roam the streets. We, as citizens, need to decide now if this is the step we want. It may seem like a tired cliche these days, but the so-called "police state" that we fear would come with this to Philadelphia. More cameras, more officers, stop-and-search, a curfew for adults, a limit to your right to assemble! In fact, more than anything else, the very fact that this would limit the right of citizens to assemble should be looked at more intensely! This could possibly limit the right protest, the right to perform in public, and the right to simply enjoy our city. This is, in essence, just two steps away from martial law.

To add to this, this isn't entirely plausible. This would require a few thousand more officers; First more officers in the high-crime areas, and then more officers to take over the shifts of the officers that have been moved. Most likely, this will also require more overtime pay at first since it takes about 1 year to train a new officer, and of 1000 that may enter, only half will make it. I'm not 100% sure how Nutter is planing to do this, and who knows, I could be wrong on that. If I am, I don't mind being corrected. But from where I stand and from what I've seen, this isn't going to happen. If it does, we will need to see a reduction in other city services to help counter the cost.

This was reported in January in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Since then, there has been very little press about it and the only people mentioning it are the occasional blogger and message board poster. He has mentioned it before in some detail, but the current TV Ad's do not describe what this "Crime Emergency" would mean. But it seems that the virtual tidal wave of support for Nutter is overshadowing this, and any other criticism, that could be given to Nutter.

I think it's safe to say that Nutter's Crime Emergency, which would limit our civil rights, is a much more urgent issue to take note of. Like I said, I like Nutter personally and think he's a good man, but this is going to limit our rights. I know I am going to come under fire for this, and I don't mind. A wise man once said, "The time to ask questions is when no one is asking questions," and with the rise of support and endorsements, no one is asking questions about Nutter when they should. No one, and I mean NO ONE, should be given a pass on criticism when it comes to running for office. Everyone else has been grilled, and now I am simply asking that we look into what Nutter wants now before it's too late and the primaries are over.

I'm sure Nutter's supporters are simply going to dismiss what I am saying as mere propaganda, or go on about how this is needed right now due to the rising murder rate. The issue then becomes is this all we have left to defend ourselves? Is the last act of defiance against criminals a limit to all of our rights and civil liberties? Isn't there some other, more reasonable way to solve this problem? These are the questions that we as citizens must ask ourselves before as we decide the faith of not just ourselves, but the very future and destiny of Philadelphia.

In all of this, we need to realize that these are people we can stop! We can vote them out of office, and we can stop them from getting INTO office! We can stop this!