Tag Archives: Philadelphia PA

Pop Fizz Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is back to harassing the majority to pander at interest groups.


Starting in July, the mayor has decreed that cash, consisting of cotton with no intrinsic value and subject to the whims of an unconstitutional, unaudited Federal Reserve that is appointed to manipulate the money supply, must be accepted at all* city businesses or they will be fined as “discriminatory.”

Perhaps because they gave more money to his campaign, certain industries are exempted, of course:

[P]arking lots, garages, and businesses who sell goods through a membership model – such as gyms – [are] able to continue operations as normal.

And guess who’s back under the microscope by daring create jobs from the efficiency of cashless transactions??

Councilman Allan Domb said Amazon issued a warning that they would re-consider implementing an Amazon Go store in the city if the bill passed.

[…] Amazon Go stores have no cashiers and only accept digital forms of payment.

Admittedly, the jobs will be for filthy, NSA-style behavior monitors leering at you through surveillance cameras as you negate your cashless Planet Fitness workout with a cheesecake cupcake. WE SAW YOU BRENDA GET BACK ON THE TREADMILL.

According to Tech Crunch, the store’s 100ish cameras track your body movements, but employ no facial recognition. Yet.

How is Philly’s recent push for “universal pre-K built by soda drinkers” shaping up, anyway? Likely, with generous curves.

MarketWatch reported in January on a four-year Stanford University study of Philadelphia beverage sales (including two years prior to the start of the shake down). Scanning the paper turns up some good nuggets, from the mayor’s spokesperson admitting the main objective was to raise cash, not improve health (justifying the taxation of diet drinks, but not sugar-laden juices), to the mayor’s initial demand of $0.03/ounce that was trimmed to $0.015.

While the tax successfully moved some sales to just beyond the city limits, [t]he 46% reduction in quantity sold of taxed beverages [in city limits] leads to an equivalent percentage reduction in tax revenue relative to the case where consumers continue to consume at pre-tax levels.

Also, there was no increase in the city’s sale of untaxed beverages (like water), and the artificial drop in consumption (since people just stepped outside the city to buy soda or Gatorade merely hit by sales tax, not an additional sweetened beverage tax) was decrease[d] less in low income (and high obesity) neighborhoods.


After taking into account cross-shopping, the total demand reduction is equal to only 22%. We do not detect a significant reduction in calorie and sugar intake.

Read more here:




The California Bullet Train has been delayed again by governor Gavin Newsom (below, left). Perhaps to preempt bad publicity that his family was too good for the historic California governor’s mansion in Sacramento (which Newsom reportedly ditched after holing up there for three weeks so $4.1 million in renovations could wrap on his new crib in Fair Oaks), the newly-minted Democrat, via a “State of the State” publicity appearance, bemoaned that completing the $100 billion disaster, begun during the George W. Bush administration under outgoing governor Jerry Brown, “would cost too much and take too long.”

Newsom and ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle

California will complete just the leg between Merced and Bakersfield (for now?). The original plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with a “bullet” speed locomotive was sabotaged from the beginning by pressure to slow down and stop in politicians’ backyards, as even far-left Vox pointed out:



[California] set about to construct the segment connecting Bakersfield and Merced, two smaller cities in the middle of the state, as the initial segment. The idea was basically that a Bakersfield-Merced high-speed rail was so obviously ridiculous that nobody would be content to build just that and end the project, so future governments would go find billions of extra dollars somehow.

Did Newsom intend to cut his losses?

“Abandoning high-speed rail entirely means we will have wasted billions of dollars with nothing but broken promises and lawsuits to show for it […] And by the way, I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

Guess what. The evil orange man has attempted to cut off massive federal funds ($929,000,000, which is actually a fraction of the tens of billions the completed slog would consume) towards finishing the train.

Trump tweeted that California owed the federal government about $3.5 billion for the canceled project. “We want that money back now,” he wrote. “Whole project is a ‘green’ disaster!”

The Department of Transportation indeed announced they seek to recoup $2.5 billion granted for fiscal year 2010. (The 3.5 billion figure comes from 929 million + 2.5 billion = way too much to spend on a vanity project.)

“I can’t recall of any precedent,” [sic] said Art Bauer, a longtime state Senate Transportation Committee staffer who was deeply involved in the early planning on the high-speed rail. “They never claw back money. They are saying you are not getting money we committed to you.”

[our emphasis]

Incidentally, CNN argues Trump cannot repossess the funds appropriated to California High-Speed Rail Authority by Obama’s
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They need only
complete a 120-mile high-speed train track for the “initial central valley section” by the end of December 2022.

No actual trains required! Not unreasonable expectations for thirteen years of heavily-subsidized “reinvestment” in a failing industry.

Newsom bitched that Trump pulling the project plug after the Governor indicated he, himself was mostly pulling the plug constituted retaliation.

“It’s no coincidence that the Administration’s threat comes 24 hours after California led 16 states in challenging the President’s farcical ‘national emergency,’” Newsom said in a statement, referring to Trump’s emergency declaration to secure funding for his wall on the Mexican border. “The President even tied the two issues together in a tweet this morning. This is clear political retribution by President Trump, and we won’t sit idly by. This is California’s money, and we are going to fight for it.”

Earlier in the day, Trump had declared on Twitter, “The failed Fast Train project in California, where the cost overruns are becoming world record setting, is hundreds of times more expensive than the desperately needed Wall!”


The Governor continues to lay down some statist policies. According to Inside Higher Ed,

Newsom is calling for a $10 million investment into a data collection system that will track Californians from kindergarten all the way into the work force.

[our emphasis]

According to Ed Source reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn, the governor’s January budget proposal publicly proposed a new layer to the state choke hold on young citizens’ prospects:

Thanks to our sources:









Soda Tax Update

It’s shaping up to be quite a year for government confiscation. Seattle has joined the rush of ravenous localities dipping further into poor peoples’ pockets under the guise of improving their health.

A $0.0175 per ounce levy on every sugared beverage (including Gatorade) sold in the city kicked in on January 1.

Emerald City denizens may develop some bottled up rage over the endeavor, forecast to [stupid phrase alert] make it rain $15 million for the progressive utopia.

(Presumably before the additional 9.6% sales tax.)

Kshama Sawant (below), a Socialist Alternative member of the Seattle City Council, was absent for the 7-1 vote last June to enact the tax.

Kshama Sawant Portrait (24588157130).jpg

The full use of the new cheddar is unclear. Ricochet reports:

Since this was sold as a health initiative, $2 million of that will expand a city program that gives fruit and vegetable vouchers to low-income families [Fresh Bucks]. Of course, only $400,000 will go to actual vouchers; the other $1.6 million stays with the government for “administrative costs.”

[our emphasis]

This includes job creation for five (5) well-connected Seattle residents to get in good with local government, according to Seattle Times.

As with any government initiative, there are exemptions. Diet soda drinkers (whom Ricochet notes are more likely white, wealthy and/or campaign contributors) will escape the tax. 100% fruit juice (metabolically identical to soda) is exempt.

Distributors are also exempt if they post less than $2 million in annual sales. ($2 to $5 million in sales? You pay just $0.01/ounce.)

Any coffee with sugar that is not milk-based is subject to the tax.

And Forbes reported disgraced ex-Mayor Ed Murray initially wrote in an exemption for sugary coffee prepared onsite, meaning you could choose between paying more at the grocery store for a bottle of Starbucks brand sugar or standing in line with insufferable Starbucks customers. Seattle Times noted this exemption was killed just before the vote.

Washington state-based Costco risked retaliation from lawmakers by encouraging consumers to buy outside the city.

Since distributors are officially paying the tax, public shaming will no doubt follow for any price increase (like Costco’s “recovery fee” intimated above). That’s not fair to the struggling citizens!


Death Capital of America, Chicago, similarly tried to Band-aid its remaining residents’ health with a $0.01/ounce confiscation from August 2 through December 1 of 2017. Cook County officials scrapped the blatant budget-shoring measure, backed by big-government billionaire–and failed New York City soda tax perpetrator Michael Bloomberg–after the public noticed the measure penalized consumers of diet soda, but not sugar-laden juice. And that nearly 1 million consumers purchased soda with food stamps, so they were exempt from the tax. And that restaurant soda sales tanked. And that nearly 90% of citizens were opposed to the shakedown, according to anti-soda tax lobby Can the Tax.

Cook County Against Beverage Taxes

How’s Philadelphia‘s trampling of lower-income consumers going?

Proponents of the soda tax shut down Harrisburg-led hearing in City Hall.

Pennsylvania state Representative Mark Mustio and state Senators Mario Scavello and Scott Wagner (all Republicans) introduced memos attempting to remove the sugared beverage distributor measure, which took effect in January 2017, six months after Philly started spending the predicted revenue on “universal pre-kindergarten”.

Wagner is challenging Tom Wolf (below) for the Governor’s mansion this November.

Image result for wolf

Philly Me Up…Philadelphia Beverage Distributors to be Taxed by the Ounce “For the Children”

As we noted above, the skimming started mid-fiscal year 2017 (July 1-June 30). Projected profit for that period was $47 million, but the city realized just $39 million. They are projected to fall short of the FY 2018 “goal” of $93 million as well. City communications lackey Mike Dunn (below) gushed that the $66 million squeezed from Philly residents (as of December) is “a significant sum in a city where more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line.

Mike Dunn

BillyPenn suggests soda sales are down in Philly and somewhat less outside the city limits. A study concocted by Bloomberg himself found overall revenues at major grocery chains had not dropped in Philadelphia, even though sugary drink sales had declined 57 percent.

[our emphasis]

While Mayor Kenney predicted a maximum 27% decline in consumption (which is, hopefully, the ultimate objective of policing peoples’ diets), Health Department data recorded a 31% decline through November.

Thanks to our sources:








Philly soda tax year one: The finances, fights and its future

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! September 7: Francis Rawls update

Former Philly cop and accused child porn-viewer Francis Rawls has been jailed for at least two years on “contempt of court” order. Although prosecutors’ only evidence (apparently) is locked on Rawls’ computer hard drives, US District Judge Cynthia Rufe declared he will be held indefinitely while he appeals the potential violation of his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Rawls holds he cannot be obliged to provide passwords to the Feds for child pornography that may or may not exist.


February Flashback: Police Officer Held Under All Writs Act, No Charges

According to Arstechnica, Rawls is being investigated but is not actually charged with possession of the material.

The evidence not sought on the encrypted hard drives is slim, consisting of a Mac Book Pro with one image depicting a pubescent girl in a sexually suggestive position and logs that suggested the user had visited groups with titles common in child exploitation, as well as a claim from Rawls’ sister that he showed her hundreds of child porn videos and photos.

However, the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals concluded in Rawls’ case that it was a “foregone conclusion” that kid porn was on the drives because a forensic examination of the computer to which the drives were attached revealed that the “hash” values of the files have been linked by the authorities to known child pornography.

It is unclear if Rawls’ attorney is still public defender Keith Donoghue.

Thanks to our sources:



Soda Tax Update

The Philadelphia soda tax on beverage distributors, passed by the city council last year to fund “universal pre-kindergarten,” is making waves for government social engineering. While people continue to drink soda, sales are down and PepsiCo jobs are “drying up.”

The $0.015 per ounce excise tax has sucked 40% of sales out of Philadelphia, “bubbling over” to outside the city limits, where the tax is not levied and sales are reportedly up between 10 and 15%.

A spokeswoman for Pepsico told MUNCHIES: “Unfortunately, after careful consideration of the economic realities created by the recently enacted beverage tax, we have been forced to give notice that we intend to eliminate 80 to 100 positions, including frontline and supervisory roles, in Philadelphia over the next few months, beginning immediately.”

Pepsico employs employed 423 people in Philadelphia.

City spokeswoman Lauren Hitt “stirred up” a little class warfare, demanding Pepsico continue to sell poison to children, but make less profit on it so the kids can have more government-subsidized education. But God forbid you fire anybody working for Pepsi to cut costs:

“The soda industry sunk [we’re guessing no pun intended here…if soda were untaxed and bubbly, they wouldn’t sink!] to a new low today. They are literally holding hostage the jobs of hardworking people in their battle to overturn the tax. Pepsi reported nearly $35 billion in gross income and $6 billion in profit last year, their CEO makes $25 million dollars a year, and they along with the beverage industry continue to shill out hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbyists and advertising against the tax.”


[Interestingly, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi (above) made $19 million as of 2014 (according to Wikipedia), and while she may or may not have disparaged Trump supporters following his election (see link in sources…was it FAKE NEWS???) , she now sits on President Trump’s Business Council, according to Fortune.]

However, the Hitt fit continued in her rant to Philadelphia Business Journal:

“The idea that they can afford to do that but ‘must lay off workers’ should make every Philadelphian very skeptical of whether these layoffs are actually due to the tax. What is certain is that pre-k has already created over 250 jobs and allowed many parents to return to the workforce.”

[our emphasis]

Lauren Hitt

The Pepsi Hitt-woman. From Twitter.

So really, if Pepsico would just bend over a little more for Philly and create the kind of jobs the city believes are more valuable, we could all get along.



On the other side of the argument, the AP quoted an industry source saying that the tax most affects low-income people without the means to travel outside the city to purchase tax-free soda.

In its first month, the tax raised $5.7 million, which will go to funding universal pre-kindergarten education. The amount is twice as much as what the city expected, meaning people aren’t shifting away from soda as quickly as the city imagined they would.


Philly Me Up…Philadelphia Beverage Distributors to be Taxed by the Ounce “For the Children”


Thanks to our sources:





February Flashback: Police Officer Held Under All Writs Act, No Charges

Former Philadelphia police sergeant Francis Rawls remained in federal prison indefinitely–16 months so far. He has reportedly refused to unlock two computer hard drives alleged to contain child pornography.

Francis Rawls
Francis Rawls


US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals (Philadelphia) heard the case six months ago, but has not ruled.


Rawls was thrown in the slammer on September 30, 2015 “until such time that he fully complies” (PDF) with a court order to unlock his hard drives. A child-porn investigation focused on Rawls when prosecutors were monitoring the online network, Freenet. They executed a search warrant in 2015 at Rawls’ home. The authorities say it’s a “foregone conclusion” that illicit porn is on those drives. But they cannot know for sure unless Rawls hands them the alleged evidence that is encrypted with Apple’s standard FileVault software.

[our emphasis]

Authorities are using the 1789 All Writs Act to coerce the alleged child porn consumer into self-incrimination.

Arstechnica notes this is the same justification FBI thug James Comey unsuccessfully employed to manipulate Apple into reverse-engineering software for its iPhones under the pretense of gathering more evidence on San Bernardino ISIS murderers Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook–after deliberating sabotaging Farook’s phone by instructing local authorities to lock it up, as we have extensively covered.

Uncle Sam’s Unsatisfying Anal

Arstechnica also reports that, per the government, the eighteenth-century Bill of Rights specifically provided for obliging suspected criminals orchestrate the prosecution’s case by assembling evidence:

Rawls, the government argues, (PDF) “repeatedly asserts that the All Writs Act order requires him to divulge his passcodes, but he is incorrect: the order requires no testimony from [Rawls], and he may keep his passcodes to himself. Instead, the order requires only that [Rawls] produce his computer and hard drives in an unencrypted state.”

[our emphasis]

Thanks to our source:


Taxing Times in Chicago

Chicago Hikes Property Taxes to Pay for Pensions; Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Overpays $2,800,000

Emanuel to CPS teachers: 'Be part of the solution'

Former Sarah Lawrence ballerina Rahm Emanuel hiked property taxes last month to plug a $318,000,000 hole in Chicago finances, including police and fire pensions.

Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios speaks during the Cook County Democratic Party meeting to reconsider making an endorsement in the race at the party's headquarters downtown, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Apparently, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios (above) raised some property values this year, increasing the amount Windy City residents must pay in tribute to their thug government. For the children.

Of note, the Chicago Sun-Times found via a watchdog on July 30 that several of the city’s “aldermen” (representatives) got property tax discounts, even as 75% of property owners paid more:

Eighteen of the city’s 50 aldermen — including Ald. Patrick O’Connor, the mayor’s City Council floor leader who rounded up the votes to pass the tax increase last fall — staved off the hefty tax hikes, shifting a total of $19,484 in taxes to other property owners. Those aldermen, including several whose wards have seen real estate prices skyrocket, did that by convincing Berrios or the Cook County Board of Review to lower the estimated value of their homes or apartments.

Five of those aldermen — including four who voted against the tax hike — owe less than they did last year, even as most of their constituents pay more, the Sun-Times found in an analysis of the 882,965 tax bills sent to Chicago landowners.

Nicholas Sposato, alderman of 38th ward (here the constituent “wards of the state” pay for their overlord politicians, in a counter-intuitive bit of vernacular) was set to endure a $1,371 tax hike this year. However, he appealed to assessor Berrios, and will pay $377 less than last year instead.

Sun-Times notes: more than 70 percent of taxpayers in [Sposato’s] ward saw [property tax] increases averaging $211.

Sposato is a Chicago firefighter and beneficiary of the very pension the property tax hike is set to replenish. He reportedly told Sun-Times:

“I didn’t vote for [the tax increase] just so my constituents could pay more taxes. We have an obligation to pay these pensions.”

Aldeman Proco Joe Moreno of the 1st ward must have slept with Berrios’ sister or something, because his “booming, hipster neighborhood,” according to the Sun-Times analysis, saw an average hike of $1,233 per property.

The tax on Moreno’s own two-story Wicker Park pad more than doubled to $19,833, an increase of $10,680. Berrios had deemed the property worth $518,980 in 2013, but this year it’s a cool $1.1 million.

“While I was anticipating an increase in my property taxes this year, I was not expecting that the county assessor’s decision would be to more than double the assessed value of my home and, more importantly, the homes of many others in my ward,” Moreno says. “I think it may be time to revisit the fairness of the appraisal system.”

Berrios evaluates Cook County, IL properties once every three years.

Some winners in the whole situation were identified by Sun-Times:

Eighteen other aldermen — including 11 who voted against Emanuel’s tax increase — successfully appealed assessments on their homes or other property, winning reductions that kept their taxes from rising a collective $25,750, the Sun-Times found. The savings ranged from $448 on the Lake View condo owned by Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) to $3,952 on the Kenwood home of Ald. Sophia King (4th). Tunney voted for the mayor’s tax hike. King wasn’t appointed by Emanuel to fill a City Council vacancy until after the tax hike passed.

(We are again assuming deduction or some other Government trickery that moved $19,484 to other, less-connected Chicagoans but ended up saving the opportunistic aldermen and women $25,750. It’s like the Federal Government multiplier in economics over here!)

O’Connor, who rammed through the tax increase last fall, has a story worth examining as well. He challenged the $645,680 assessment Berrios handed down on O’Connor’s home–an increase of 14.3% from 2013. The Board of Review lowered the home value to %596,360, and O’Connor saved $904 in taxes. It’s only money.

Without the assessment cuts, O’Connor’s tax bill would have been $11,356 — about $1,359 more than last year. Instead, it ended up being $10,447 — up about $450 over last year, while 69 percent of the taxpayers in his ward were hit with tax increases averaging $719.

Alderman Brian Hopkins cashed out on a condo in June, selling after saving $475 in a Berrios-authorized reduction.

“Sooner or later, the perception is going to be that the property taxes are too high, and people may leave,” Hopkins says. “But where are you going to go? Taxes are even higher in the suburbs.”


Meanwhile Juan Perez, Jr. has a nice little nugget out today at Sun-Times on President Obama’s crooked adopted hometown:

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund overpaid retirees nearly $2.8 million in recent years because of a misinterpretation of state law, fund officials said.

Over 25% of the money has reportedly been returned. Progress!

A “2012 policy change” led the Teachers Pension Fund to pay out to 234 retirees before they actually retired. Sun-Times credits Better Government Association with noticing.

(The “spend what you don’t have and bill the taxpayers” government practice is hardly new. As we have previously reported, head thug in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney, “garnered criticism from local and national economic commentators when he proposed bonus pension payments, distributing funds when pension plans exceed target returns in any given year even though solvency depends on the excess funds to balance underperforming years,” according to Wikipedia.

Mr. Kenney is currently overseeing six months of spending his new sugared-beverage tax…before the tax begins to be confiscated from beverage distributors January 1.)

Philly Me Up…Philadelphia Beverage Distributors to be Taxed by the Ounce “For the Children”

The Chicago pension fund in question, meanwhile, overpaid around $12,000 per retiree. 20 of the 234 got between $32,000 and $217,000 more than owed. Bill the taxpayers.

Jay Rehak

“As fiduciaries of the Fund, the Board cannot ignore its larger responsibilities and we will work to recover all monies as quickly as possible,” said pension fund board President Jay Rehak (above, left) who was the fund’s interim executive director when the error was discovered.

For more information, contact:


This article was updated 5:30 PM on 8/16 for proofreading and clarification.

[All emphasis is ours.]

Thanks to our sources: