There were several stories from the City of Brotherly Love yesterday which amounted to nothing more than wastes of money.
By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a petition by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office seeking to reinstate the death penalty against Mumia Abu-Jamal.
The ruling in the case of Abu-Jamal – convicted of murder in the 1981 shooting of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner – was one of more than 250 appeals summarily rejected by the high court without comment. It means that, unless the District Attorney’s Office decides to conduct a new sentencing hearing, Abu-Jamal, 57, will continue serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.
Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said the prosecutor’s office would not comment on the ruling while its appeals unit decides what to do next.
The prosecutor’s unsuccessful appeal to the nation’s highest court followed a decision in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
The Third Circuit reaffirmed its ruling that Abu-Jamal’s sentencing hearing was unfair, giving the District Attorney’s Office the choice of conducting a new death-penalty hearing or letting Abu-Jamal serve life.
More at the link. Wesley Cook, the convicted murderer who likes to go by the ridiculous name of Mumia abu Jamal, was willing to deal out death, but is afraid of death for himself. Given that, even if the capital sentence against him were reinstated, it’s highly unlikely he would actually be executed. In Pennsylvania², there are currently 219 people on death row. Since capital punishment was re-enacted by the state legislature in 1974, there have been three executions in the Commonwealth, and all three were of men who had voluntarily dropped their appeals; they, in effect, volunteered to just get it all over. But no one has been executed against his will in Pennsylvania since the reinstatement of capital punishment.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams knows this, as did Lynne Abraham, his predecessor, yet they have kept pursuing the efforts to have Mr Cook executed. His case has become something of an international cause célèbre, which means that all such continual efforts on the part of the District Attorney do is to keep promoting this thug and murderer to the idiot fringe . . . and, of course, costing the city money it doesn’t need to spend.
But, it isn’t just the stupidity of the District Attorney that’s wasting city funds:
Occupy Philadelphia costs city $400,000 in police surveillance³
By Bob Warner, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
The city has spent more than $400,000 in police costs to deal with the Occupy Philadelphia protest on the west side of City Hall, Nutter administration officials estimated Tuesday.
The figure includes $164,000 in police overtime through the first five days of the protest — the bulk of the city’s out-of-pocket costs — and an additional $237,000 for the plainclothes and uniformed officers stationed at Dilworth Plaza and other City Hall locations on their regular shifts.
“In one sense the added cost is the overtime number, but there is also a deployment issue — the officers are here instead of other places,” said Mayor Nutter’s spokesman, Mark McDonald.
Now entering its seventh day, the demonstration has drawn several hundred people or more to City Hall during peak periods each day. The number of tents that provide overnight accommodations increased to about 100 from 80 over the weekend.
City budget director Rebecca Rhynhart — now initiating an effort to pare about $47 million from the budget to compensate for three months of weaker-than-expected revenue — said she would ask all city departments to provide reports on what the demonstration is costing them.
The offshoot of the Overly Wet Snuggies protests in Manhattan are complaining that those mean ol’ capitalists and wicked corporations and evil rich people aren’t paying enough in taxes, yet their protest is just costing the city — and all of the cities in which they are protesting — more tax dollars which are collected and which could be spent on other things.
Nor are these costs even complete. The article noted that Philadelphia has a 100-tent area to “house” the overnight protesters, and there will certainly be clean-up costs if they prove to be as big a pigs as the ones in Manhattan . . . which I’d bet a case of Mountain Dew will be the case. I’d be very surprised if the bill for the Occupy Philadelphia protests — which are planning to move to Doylestown, a borough which really can’t afford to pick clean up after their mess — comes in at under a million bucks.
Perhaps if they were cleaner, more responsible people, like the TEA Party protesters of 2010, they wouldn’t be costing the government so much to clean up after them.
And here’s one in which it could be argued there was no choice but to spend the money:
By Allison Steele, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
One night a month, police say, the inside of the modest Mummers’ Downtowners Fancy Brigade clubhouse in South Philadelphia transformed into a bacchanalian free-for-all where dozens of men ate, drank, and had sex with prostitutes in full view of each other.
For a $30 cover charge, attendees got one free beer from the cash bar, food, and access to the women at the party. The women, police said, walked around scantily clad or naked, charging from $30 to $100 for sex.
On Tuesday night, the festivities came to an abrupt end when police officers swarmed the two-story building near Second Street and Snyder Avenue. About 50 men and 20 women were inside.
Police arrested 13 people in the prostitution sweep, including 10 women and two executives of the Downtowners.
John Murray, 56, of Deptford, the club’s financial secretary, and Alfred Sanborn, 44, of South Philadelphia, its steward, were arrested on liquor violation charges. The two acted as bartenders during the parties, and the clubhouse did not have a liquor license, police said.
Lawrence Crovetti, 65, of Feasterville, was charged with promoting prostitution by arranging for the women to get to the building. Police said he organized the parties and rented the building each month. Authorities on Wednesday were uncertain how long the parties had been held at the clubhouse.
OK, prostitution is illegal, no doubt about that, and perhaps that makes spending the money on this investigation legitimate, but it seems to me to be absolute idiocy that something which is perfectly legal to do if no money changes hands — having sex — can legitimately be a crime if money does change hands. We’ve already established that it’s really none of the government’s business with whom someone has sex — as long as it is consensual — so how it can continue to be illegal to have sex for a specific reason (money) seems silly.
And from a monetary standpoint, wouldn’t it be less expensive for the city and the state to have prostitution legal, and taxable?
¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, 12 October 2011, page B-1
² – Information accessed on Thursday, 13 October 2011; the numbers are subject to change.
³ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, 12 October 2011, page B-1
4 – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, 13 October 2011, page A-1