Will the Court of Judicial Discipline Restore Public Confidence in the Judiciary on March 29th?

On February 7, Inquirer reporter Mark Fazollah reported another attempt to protect the old boy network from the consequences of their actions. The Court of Judicial Discipline, currently investigating whether Judge Eakin should be disciplined for sending misogynistic, racist emails, tried to enlist attorney Richard A. Sprague to broker a deal that could forestall a public trial.When former Supreme Court Justice McCaffery retired two years ago, he did so as part of a secret deal which ended the investigation of his role in the email scandal and allowed him to keep his pension ....more

The Never-ending Judicial Scandals

Philadelphia NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, and Americans for Democratic Action have voted to oppose the measure on the April 2016 primary ballot to raise the retirement age for Pennsylvania judges from 70 to 75.There are many good reasons to oppose the retirement age, some of which I noted in Why I’m voting against raising the retirement age for PA judges. Judges routinely win retention elections despite well-publicized examples of incompetent, corrupt behavior. Mandatory retirement at 70 is one of our few opportunities to get rid of these judges and make room for candidates who bring new perspectives and experiences to the bench.(Judges have the opportunity to work part-time in retirement, so those who have much to offer can continue to do so on a part-time basis.)If the retirement age is raised, there is real danger that we will delay the transformation of the judiciary into something more closely resembling what America now looks like ....more

Reproductive rights are human rights!

Every year I look forward to the Roe v. Wade visibility event. It is gratifying for this aging abortion rights supporter to see so many young women picking up the torch! ...more

Special Elections Craziness

Special Elections CrazinessSpecial elections have been widely criticized as undemocratic--as reporter Patrick Kekstra put it in his report on the August 7 2015 special election, “grotesquely undemocratic.” In special elections to fill a vacancy, Democratic and Republican Party ward leaders in the district, not the voters as in a primary election, choose the candidate to run under the Democratic or Republican Party banner. If another Democrat or Republican wants to run, that person must run as an Independent along with any minor party candidates who choose to run. Given Philly’s 7 to 1 Democratic voter registration edge and poor track record in electing independents for local offices, the endorsed Democrat is almost certain to win and has the advantage of running in the next primary as the incumbent ....more

Kenney Inauguration Euphoria: Now comes the hard part

It was a happy crowd and a lot of youthful energy in the room at Jim Kenney’s Inaugural Block Party. This was an event consistent with what Kenney represents to so many his supporters —a down-to-earth guy, with deep roots in Philly and a real appreciation for what’s special about this town. My guess is that Philadelphians are going to feel a lot better about their city with Jim Kenney as Mayor ....more

Elena Ferrante's The Story of the Lost Child--the best book of 2015

With the Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante brings the final volume of the Neapolitan novels to a powerful, deeply moving conclusion. Reading the book was an exhilarating experience—finishing the book was a depressing one. There are no more Ferrante books to read ....more

The Blooms of my December Garden

Winter jasmineI've been keeping garden records for over 20 years and this has been the warmest November-December in decades. The cheery yellow flowers of winter jasmine which usually blooms in early March are popping up all over my garden. Probably not the last roseAn early December rose isn't all that unusual but I have quite a few rose buds which just might be blooming in late DecemberThe first snowdrop appeared in early December ....more

Why I’m voting against raising the retirement age for PA judges

I never thought so many judges and prosecutors including state Supreme Court justices, would routinely exchange vicious racist, misogynistic and homophobic emails. Yes, I know that many white men resent the gains that women and people of color have made in recent decades, but I never expected anything this ugly from those entrusted to administer justice. It’s even more of a shock that they felt safe doing this.This scandal will no doubt lead some voters to reject the proposal on the 2016 primary ballot to raise the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 ....more

Return to Prague: You can’t step in the same river twice.

Tyn Church overlooking Old Town SquareI fell in love with Prague in 1989; at the time, I was expecting a beautiful city with a rich, well-preserved architectural heritage, but I wasn’t prepared for the astonishing beauty of Prague. This was near the end of the Communist regime but neither we, nor most of the residents of Prague, knew we were on the cusp of radical change. Rick and I were there in July of ’89 and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in November of ’89 ....more

DRESDEN: The Germany Diaries, Part IV

In every trip there is always something we wish we had done differently. This time we wished we had given more time to Dresden. Much of Dresden was destroyed during World War II but its historic baroque architecture has been beautifully restored ....more