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Brian Kelly got naked in front of the button yesterday. In the buff from head to toe, the Wharton junior was adorned only with the words "I'd rather go naked" printed in black marker on his chest. His point? Nudity beats wearing clothes made in sweatshops. Kelly was one of a handful of Penn Students Against Sweatshops members who performed a "reverse fashion show." "Nudity piques people's interest," a chilly Kelly said. He explained that they stripped to raise student awareness about the conditions their clothes are made under. "What are we wearing? We don't know," he said. A handful of students peeled off clothing during the protest, but Kelly was the only one to go the full monty. A small crowd of students gathered to watch the show -- one of PSAS's first big efforts this semester. The strip show and a banner drop from Steinberg-Dietrich Hall yesterday were both timed to coincide with Penn's upcoming decision on joining a sweatshop monitoring organization. "I think it's important time-wise because the decision is coming up," College sophomore Annie Wadsworth said. "We didn't want to go out without a bang." After PSAS sat-in last spring in College Hall, Penn pulled out of the Fair Labor Association, a monitoring group. The FLA and the Worker Rights Consortium are the two available sweatshop monitors. The FLA has the support of major corporations and the White House, while the WRC is backed by human rights organizations. PSAS favors the WRC, saying it is less aligned with corporate interests. The Committee on Manufacturer Responsibility -- comprised of students and faculty, including two PSAS members -- recommended last week that Penn join both groups. Rodin has yet to give the final word on what Penn will do -- but PSAS said they would not protest her decision. "We are right now going to be accepting of that decision," College sophomore Kasia Kubin said. Still, she added, "it's clear we disagree. And Wadsworth, who met with Rodin to discuss sweatshops, noted that, "in the whole issue of workers' rights and social justice, this is one part." The Undergraduate Assembly discussed whether to make a statement about sweatshops at their meeting Sunday night, but ultimately voted to wait. Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Alyssa Litman contributed to this article.
John Ikenberry will begin at Georgetown in the fall. he joins a long line of Poli Sci profs to leave Penn. In yet another blow to the University's embattled Political Science Department, Professor John Ikenberry said yesterday that he will be leaving Penn to take a position at Georgetown University this fall. Ikenberry, who specializes in International Relations and has taught at Penn for six years, will oversee the creation of a new research institute in international affairs. His departure leaves a hole in the already notoriously understaffed department and robs Political Science of one of its most prestigious scholars. "I do have an exciting new opportunity," Ikenberry said, adding that Georgetown, "made an offer I couldn't refuse." He explained that the new job satisfies both his personal and professional desires. The neighborhood in Washington where he lives is only blocks from Georgetown, and his wife is employed in the city. The move also gives Ikenberry the opportunity to join a larger, better-established academic department. Citing both the size of Penn's department and the limited resources made available to its faculty, Ikenberry said that the University has not been the easiest place to work. "[It's a] very depressing situation -- it's very difficult to build International Relations at Penn right now," he said. "I think there's a real problem that needs to be addressed." Several of his colleagues noted that losing Ikenberry would undoubtedly hurt the department. "Anyone would tell you he's an enormous loss," Political Science Professor Anne Norton said. "He's been a prodigious scholar." Added Professor Avery Goldstein, who is on leave this semester: "It is a loss for the department." Department Chairman Ian Lustick did not return repeated requests for comment yesterday. Still, some members of the department said that Ikenberry's departure was not a great surprise due to his desire to live in D.C. and his mixed feelings toward Penn. While undoubtedly a prodigious scholar -- his work is routinely published in the best journals in his field -- Ikenberry has not been one of the most-loved members of the Political Science Department. One graduate student, who asked to remain anonymous, criticized Ikenberry for paying scant attention to his students. "He has made little effort to work with graduate students, tries to get his undergraduates to agree to take three-hour seminars so he doesn't have to come to Philadelphia more than once a week and is completely unavailable for departmental service," the student said. Ikenberry was critical of the University in 1997 when Daniel Deudney -- one of the department's most popular professors -- was denied tenure. Deudney and Ikenberry collaborate frequently, even after the former's move to Johns Hopkins University. Ikenberry came to Penn in 1993 after failing to win tenure at Princeton University. He was promoted to a full professorship just this year. Still, whether he was a favorite or not, Ikenberry is leaving a department that can ill avoid to lose more warm bodies. Recruitment has proved a constant struggle for a department that has lost more than a half-dozen faculty to retirement, better offers and failed tenure bids over the last two years. "Frankly, I think Penn is a top-tier University and there is no reason we can't compete with others," said Goldstein, adding that recruitment and retention "is a constant battle." The University's strategy thus far has been to focus on recruiting senior-level superstar faculty. But with that plan having failed, officials have indicated that Penn will more aggressively seek out talented junior faculty over the next few years. In his strategic plan released last spring, School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston targeted Political Science as a department in need of additional funding. One faculty member said the best way for Penn to successfully build the department would be to provide more support at the junior level. "More resources are needed for mentoring and support for junior faculty," the professor said.
Cuban students protested the government's decision to take the six-year-old boy by force. The now-famous photograph of Elian Gonzalez closeted with an armed immigration agent in the house of his Miami relatives was dramatically splashed across countless newspapers and televison stations last weekend. And now that the government's return of the six-year-old to his father Saturday morning has ignited passionate nationwide debate, Cuban-American students at Penn are making their own statement about the controversial situation. Members of Penn's Chapter of the Youth Leadership Committee of the Cuban American National Foundation were out on Locust Walk yesterday to demonstrate against the government's decision to return Elian to his father. The political group -- which has about 12 members and was established at Penn last semester -- handed out copies of its statement regarding Elian and other documents on Cuban President Fidel Castro to students and other passers-by. Members said the goal of the demonstration was to educate Penn students on the issue, as well as to tell local media about their perspective. "This is about a child that's being returned to a father who is unable speak for himself," said the group's founder, Engineering senior Andro Nodarse. Nodarse, who lived in Cuba until he was 12, said the media has portrayed Cuban-Americans unfairly. "No one, no one can possibly be against a child being with his father," he said, but added that sending Elian back to Cuba is returning him to a repressive nation. As they handed out information and talked to students, the demonstrators got mixed responses, according to College sophomore Philip Riveron, a member of the Foundation, as well as treasurer of the Cuban American Undergraduate Students Association. "Some people were receptive, some were very skeptical," Riveron said. Although it is a cultural rather than political group, CAUSA -- which has 20 members, about half of whom are in the Foundation -- fully supports the Foundation statement and demonstration, Riveron said. In its statement, the Foundation chastised the U.S. government, saying that Saturday was "a sad and reproachable day in this nation's history." Since November, Elian has been trapped in a seemingly endless custody battle between Cuba and the United States. The boy was taken in by his Miami relatives after he survived a refugee trip to Florida, during which the boat sank and his mother drowned. The family had refused to give the boy back to his Cuban father, spawning a passionate response from Cuban-Americans in Miami -- who believe that if Elian does return to Cuba, the U.S. government is effectively caving in to the Castro dictatorship. Protests exploded on Saturday after armed immigration agents forced their way into the home of the boy's Miami relatives and took him to his father in Maryland. The father and son have reportedly had a happy reunion. Penn's Cuban-American faction also said the Miami protesters had been given a bad rap. "The vast majority of them were holding up posters," Riveron said. "I have family down there [and some were] tear gassed." Riveron said the Penn students may hold another demonstration in the upcoming week, possibly with the support of other universities, such as Harvard and Duke.
Officials discussed three possible sites for a baseball stadium. They say you can't please all of the people all of the time. But in the ongoing deliberations over where to build the new stadium for the Phillies baseball team, it seems that no one will ever be pleased with a location. In a town hall meeting last night in City Hall, Mayor John Street joined City Council members, team representatives and about 200 community members to debate the merits of three proposed Center City sites for the future baseball stadium. Council has pledged to approve a stadium deal by the fall so that the Phillies will be in a new home by April 2003. For nearly three hours the recommendations released yesterday morning by the Stadium Subcommittee were discussed. The committee recommended three downtown locations for the stadium -- on the eastern and western ends of Broad and Spring Garden streets or on 12th and Vine streets. According to committee members, a downtown location would have a greater economic impact on the city -- an argument that former Mayor Ed Rendell had supported. "You can get a better return on dollars by having it closer to Center City," said committee co-chairman Kenneth Shropshire, a Penn Legal Studies professor. The 12th and Vine site was preferred by the committee, which said it posed the fewest logistical problems. But many community members, and indeed the Phillies themselves, said they do not agree. Team representatives yesterday said they want to construct the new stadium in South Philadelphia at the Sports Complex -- which includes the 29-year-old Veterans Stadium, the First Union Center and the Spectrum -- where the Philadelphia Eagles have long since committed to build. "We do not believe there is a viable site in Center City, with the amenities available, at this time," Phillies President Dave Montgomery said. Phillies management has said they believe that a downtown location will never be accepted by the surrounding communities, and they want to finalize plans to get the stadium built quickly. The downtown site up for consideration last fall -- at Broad and Spring Garden streets -- met with huge community outrage. The same fervor is in danger of killing the new plans. "I was shocked and appalled that 11th and Vine was chosen as a site of the new stadium," said Jennie Wang, a Chinatown community leader. "We oppose, we oppose, we oppose and we will lay our bodies down in front of the steamrollers if we have to." And backed by about 45 students and teachers, Lisa Cancelliere, the principal of Holy Redeemer School at 915 Vine Street, said that having a stadium nearby would threaten student safety and bring traffic problems to the area. "This is a neighborhood," she said. "Nobody would put a stadium in a neighborhood. It just doesn't belong." Although less vocal, residents from other areas under consideration also voiced their concerns. "I understand the appeal of Center City, where time and money can be spent before and after games," said Joan Marniman, a Spring Garden resident. "But it is important to consider at what cost." A Broad and Spring Garden site has been up for debate before. Last year, it was Rendell's favored location, but community outrage and disgust stalled those plans as they were debated into oblivion. The stadium plans were tabled last November when City Council ran out of time, and for the past several months the Street administration has been trying to bring them swiftly to a decision. Street has promised to decide on a location by June 30, with legislation following in September. University President Judith Rodin was also present at the meeting to protect Penn's interests in the ongoing debate. The postal lands at 30th and Walnut streets have been considered on and off for some time. Rodin said building a stadium at that location would ruin Penn's plans to build a high technology corridor in the space. Besides the postal lands, several other locations on the outskirts of Center City were considered by the committee, including Port Richmond and the city incinerator at Columbus Boulevard and Spring Garden. But the committee ultimately decided on a more central location.
Seamus Heaney may be out as Commencement speaker after complaints. [NOTE: This article appeared in the annual joke issue.] Responding to widespread student dissatisfaction over this year's Commencement speaker -- Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney -- University officials said they are considering reopening the search to find a new candidate. University President Judith Rodin said the issue was under discussion, but no decision had been made yet. "No matter what happens, Penn will have an inspiring speaker at this year's Commencement exercises," Rodin said. But whether that speaker will be Heaney, an Irish poet and acclaimed literary figure, seems unclear. Heaney was unavailable for comment yesterday. The announcement two weeks ago that Heaney would speak at the University's 244th Commencement met with mixed responses across campus. While members of the English Department expressed excitement about the choice, many students and professors outside Bennett Hall did not even know who Heaney was. Students complained, saying that they expected a prominent government or entertainment figure at their graduation. "Admittedly, he is a famous author, but most seniors haven't really heard of him," College senior and Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Michael Silver said. Sources close to the speaker search process said that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and talk show host Oprah Winfrey were among the other names considered this year. And with a month and a half left before the ceremony, Penn may be trying once again to attract one of these better-known candidates. "It would be difficult to get a different speaker so soon before graduation," University Secretary Rose McManus said. Interim English Department Chairman John Richetti said he was stunned that Heaney may not speak. "I'm truly flabbergasted," Richetti stuttered. "The brilliant John Richetti knows Heaney's work. Students today should be forced to read 10 Heaney poems before they can graduate. They should also all be required to take my class." Still, many seniors said that they might not even come to graduation if Heaney is the speaker. "He's just some random Irish guy," College senior and Class President Lisa Marshall said. "What will he talk about? Leprechauns, Guinness and potatoes?" To protest the choice of Heaney as speaker, Penn Students Against Irish People said they will be throwing Lucky Charms at Rodin's window tommorrow.
[NOTE: This article appeared in the annual joke issue.] A greasy spoon diner is finally coming to campus this fall. And although the restaurant will be new, a familiar face will be flipping pancakes in the kitchen -- John Fry. Penn's executive vice president said he was sick and tired of hearing students complain that there was no diner on campus -- so he's decided to take matters into his own hands. Literally. Fry said that when the diner opens at Sansom Common in September, he will be discarding his pinstriped suits for a chef's hat when he takes leave from his executive responsibilities and starts working as the chef. "You may think I'm just a money grubbing businessman," Fry said. "But I know my way around a kitchen. I make a mean Denver omelette." As executive vice president, Fry is the University's top financial official and oversees all of Penn's business and financial dealings. Still, he said these responsibilities are nothing compared to the satisfaction he will receive by providing students with bacon cheeseburgers and french fries. Fry added that he is not unfamiliar with the business, having worked in a McDonald's to earn extra money before he was hired at Penn. "I worked in Micky-D's all through high school," he said. "And I won employee of the week three times." Students praised the proposal, saying that maybe with Fry in charge they would get a decent meal. "He's going to cook us crazy-good food," College senior and Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Michael Silver said. "I can't wait for him to cook me a big plate of scrapple." And even University President Judith Rodin said she was looking forward to the new eatery on campus. "John really does have a way with a spatula," Rodin said. "He made me eggs benedict once. It was orgasmic." Penn Students Against Diners expressed anger with Fry's plans to bring a diner to campus. They will throw greasy hamburgers at Fry's car on Thursday in protest.
Darkness envelops you when you step through the doorway. Slowly, you move through a narrow hallway into a long dining room, hung with lush red velvet draperies and lit by hundreds of candles. Sit back in the cushioned leather chairs, as exotic spicy scents float through the air and soft music coos in the background -- you've arrived at Philadelphia's newest romantic hotspot. Tangerine is the most recent addition to Stephen Starr's rapidly growing fleet of trendy eateries, the most popular being Buddakan. Located on 3rd and Market streets, the restaurant opened in December and has been wowing customers with its stunning decor and culinary flair ever since. On almost any night, the dining room is filled with a diverse mix of people -- local celebrities, rising young professionals and pure food lovers all crowd around the low tables amid the twinkling lights for an eclectic experience. My guest and I started with a cocktail and leisurely surveyed the diverse and ambitious menu, which combines Mediterranean, French and Morrocan cooking styles to create an exciting range of dishes. The meals are served family-style at Tangerine, which means you can share the different entrZes with your entire table, sampling the various international flavors. We started off our meal with Pan-Seared Shrimp ($14), which was served in a tomato couli with warm mozzarella. The seafood was fresh and tasty, complimented by the savory tomato. My guest suggested we try another starter, the Meza Platter el Tangiers ($27) -- a medley of Mediterranean appetizers, chosen by the chef and served on a huge platter. Some of the items on the platter included hummus and tabouli, seasoned olives and eggplant -- providing a diverse variety of flavors and textures. While the introductory courses were unusual and tasty, the entrZes really were the piece de resistance of the meal. I sampled the Crispy Skin Salmon ($22), which was accompanied by a leek gratin and a kumquat salad. The salmon was fresh and mouth-watering, complemented by the appetizing salad. For the second entree, my guest also chose seafood, ordering the Chilean Sea Bass ($26.50). The sea bass was topped with a parmesan basil crust and was served with mashed potatoes. Chilean sea bass is a culinary highlight at many restaurants across the city. But at Tangerine, this dish was truly superb -- soft and flaky, it melted in your mouth. This is undoubtedly one of the best things on the menu. We were now more than pleasantly full, basking in the warm red light of the dining room. But although we thought we couldn't possibly eat any more, dessert still awaited us. And the desserts here are worth waiting for. After lengthy consideration, we decided upon the Tangerine Chocolate Cake for desert. The individual cake was surrounded with a layer of dark chocolate, while the inside was composed of layers of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and orange-flavored cream. We lingered over frothy cappuccino as our meal drew to a close. And finally, it was time to dim the candle and leave. So, if you're looking for extravagant dining in an exotic locale, look no further than the city's newest super-Starr restaurant, Tangerine.
The sweatshop protesters' sit-in continued for a second day after their demands were not met. Tension rose in College Hall yesterday as the 13 students protesting Penn's sweatshop policies continued their now two-day-old sit-in in University President Judith Rodin's office, settling in to spend a second night in the building. Although the students -- part of the United Students Against Sweatshops group -- are receiving national attention from the media with the ongoing sit-in and yesterday's rally on College Green, they have yet to get the desired response from Rodin in their quest to change the monitoring organization for University-logo apparel. After a 20-minute meeting with the group yesterday morning, Rodin said that she would not withdraw from the Free Labor Association -- a monitoring organization USAS says is biased and ineffective. But she did not rule it out, saying that she wanted to wait until a recently appointed committee on the matter can examine the issue. Three members of USAS will sit on the committee, which Rodin said would report back by the end of the month. USAS has long been calling upon Rodin to leave the FLA and join the Worker Rights Consortium. They imposed a February 1 deadline upon the Penn administration to make the change. But their deadline has come and gone without any results and the group has begun the sit-in and other demonstrations. "The WRC is better than the FLA because it involves the beneficiaries of the agreements -- the workers," said College freshman Lincoln Ellis, a USAS member. "I want it to be clear that the University has taken a very principled stand," Rodin said. "We are deeply concerned about the plight of workers in underdeveloped countries." But USAS has dismissed the creation of the committee as a "stall tactic" on the part of the University and they held the protest rally yesterday to further communicate their position to the administration. Administrators insisted that they ultimately had the same goals as the students and just needed more time to review the situation. "Everybody wants fair labor standards," said Steve Schutt, Rodin's chief of staff. "[It's a] question of which of two organizations are best set up to help Penn achieve good." And Associate General Counsel Eric Tilles added that "it's a little disheartening to see students saying we're stalling." Still, loud clapping, drum-playing, speeches and cheers echoed across College Green yesterday afternoon as more than 50 students -- mainly USAS members -- and community members rallied against the sweatshop policies. The crowd joined in on chants of, "No justice, No peace" and, "The people united will never be defeated." Following a series of speakers from local and national organizations in support of the cause, the rally moved inside College Hall. Wharton sophomore Brian Kelly, one of the speakers, invited everyone in attendance at the rally to go inside and meet the members of USAS. "Find out what they're doing," Kelley said. "These 13 students are making a stand for human rights." College senior Miriam Joffe-Block, one of the leaders of the USAS group, said she and the other members "had no real expectations" as to how many students would actually attend the rally. But, Joffe-Block continued, pointing to the excited crowd as they sang inside College Hall, "This means a lot to us?. It's really inspiring." Bearing signs indicating their support, representatives from the Penn Environmental Group, the Penn's Women's Alliance, local Teamsters and Temple University students were among the supporters on College Green. Thomas Wheatley came from the National Labor Committee in New York City to attend the rally. "I bring solidarity from NYC," Wheatley exclaimed. "Let's fight for human rights," he said, as the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. Traveling to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Student Labor Action Project, Treston Faulkner said he was pleased at the level of emotion and excitement that he said he saw among Penn students. "This is strategic," Faulkner said. "This action is going to set the pace for the rest of the semester." College sophomore Nati Passow and other USAS members emphasized the importance of both student and community involvement. Now, according to Joffe-Block, Rodin should recognize that the group has "the support of the students and the community." Amid increasingly loud cries inside College Hall, Joffe-Block announced a vigil to take place on College Green today at 9:30 p.m. The crowd dispersed only after signing the over 10 signs posted in College Hall supporting the demands of USAS. USAS members say they are prepared to take off even more time from class. "The students will be here as long as possible," Kelly said.
Although he is now counting down the final days of his successful eight-year mayoral term, Ed Rendell isn't spending any time looking back. In fact, he isn't even pausing to take a breath. "I don't have any time to reflect," said Rendell, who was recently named general chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. "I'm leaving one pressure cooker to go to another." The pressure Rendell refers to will come from his DNC job. He will spend the next 10 months, leading up to the 2000 presidential election, engaged in non-stop traveling and fundraising for Democratic candidates. Rendell sat down with the local media yesterday afternoon and talked about the nostalgia pangs he feels leaving office, the many accomplishments of his mayorship and his future political aspirations. After eight long, busy years in City Hall -- during which he successfully revived the economy, balanced Philadelphia's budget and rejuvenated the Center City district -- many would think that Rendell had earned the right to a brief rest. But Rendell will jump straight into the DNC position come January. He had initially planned to relax a little this winter, but when the DNC position came up -- and President Clinton personally recruited him for it -- Rendell said he was pleased to accept the responsibility. "I'd like to elect a Democratic president and Democratic Congress," he said. As well as working for the DNC, Rendell will teach two Urban Studies classes at Penn in the spring semester. And the frenetic pace may continue beyond this year if Rendell makes his predicted run for governor in 2002. "I think there's a decent likelihood I will [run]. I still believe I want to do some things that influence the quality of peoples' lives," Rendell said. Rendell said he will not break out the tissues when Mayor-elect John Street officially takes office on January 3 -- instead, he'll be on the road for the DNC. And just as he doesn't spend time looking backwards, Rendell said he dislikes discussing what his lasting impact on the city will be. "I'm not a big legacy person," he said. "I think when you're underground it doesn't matter a whole lot what people think of you." Still, in many ways, Rendell's achievements speak for themselves. When Rendell took office in 1991, he inherited a city with a $200 billion deficit and failing city services. Now, eight years later, Rendell can look out of his City Hall office to a very different Philadelphia. He has successfully rejuvenated the economy; tamed finances by submitting six years of balanced budgets; and lured the 2000 Republican National Convention to town. But Rendell said he is most proud of his work restoring "hope and belief in this city." The enthusiasm has caught on. Vice President Al Gore dubbed Rendell "America's Mayor," and Wawa even named a hoagie after him. While many experts say that Rendell's political savvy and spunky personality will be a hard act to follow, Rendell himself said he has full confidence in his successor. "I'm extraordinarily impressed with the things John has done during the transition," he said.
Katz talked of the uphill battle he faced against Democrat John Street. A subdued Sam Katz stood before approximately 30 students in the Terrace Room in Logan Hall last night and talked of his disappointment in losing the close Philadelphia mayoral election last month. "Everybody said [my campaign] was uplifting, inspirational, high-road," the defeated Republican mayoral candidate said. Then he smiled and joked, "personally, I would trade all that to win." Katz stopped by campus yesterday to discuss the mayoral election and to thank his many Penn supporters. "It really was a spectacular effort made on this campus," Katz said, adding that he "always saw the Katz signs." The Penn for Katz club and the College Republicans co-sponsored the event. The recent mayoral election was one of the most competitive races in modern Philadelphia history. Katz posed a major challenge to Democrat John Street with a moderately conservative platform that stressed tax reform. He lost the election by a razor-thin margin of about 10,000 votes. Katz discussed the election and many of the factors that affected the race, ultimately edging Street to victory. Basically, Katz said, he was fighting against the powerful Democratic machine in Philadelphia. According to Katz, "every stop was pulled out" for Street by the local Democrats, after outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell was elected general chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. He noted that it would be "unacceptable" for the DNC chair to hail from a city where his party lost the mayorship. Katz also said that the labor unions in the city launched a big effort for Street with the help of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.). And Katz added that there was another unpredictable factor on Election Day -- rain -- which traditionally is supposed to help Republican candidates, he said. "Rain was supposed to be my friend," he joked. But Katz said he is genuinely proud of his campaign effort. "We had a 390-400 day campaign and only one day was really bad. But unfortunately, that day's the only day that matters," he said. Still, Katz noted that "people were truly excited and inspired about [the campaign]." After his brief speech, Katz answered questions on topics ranging from the future of Philadelphia's economy to his doubts about the future of the city under Street. "For a guy who said he was going to hit the ground running, all I think he's done is hit the ground," he quipped. But Katz added that maybe Street would surprise him. "As a Philadelphian, I hope he does well," he said. Katz said he had not decided what he will do next. He says he is looking at some business opportunities, but will not rush into anything. The students, many of whom volunteered for the Katz campaign, crowded around Katz after the event to shake his hand and applaud his campaign. And Katz walked out of the room clutching a Penn sweatshirt that the students gave him as a gift. College senior Patrick Ruffini, a former Katz volunteer who helped organize the event, said he enjoyed the discussion. "I was curious about how willing he would be to look back," Ruffini said, noting that Katz "was eager to admit what went wrong and right [in the campaign]."
Local socialites and politicos crammed into the Pennsylvania Convention Center last night for a tribute to Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell. Perhaps the greatest single tribute of the evening was President Clinton's effusive praise for the outgoing mayor's achievements. "I knew that he was committed to turning this city around," Clinton said, adding that there is "nobody in America, nobody who does it better." About 1,800 hundred people, who each paid $1,000 to attend, were jammed into the ballroom, drinking red wine and dining upon sea bass and filet mignon. Officials estimated that the fundraising dinner will raise more than $2 million for Rendell's campaign committee. Rendell, who Clinton recently appointed general chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, is expected to launch his own gubernatorial bid in 2002. His second four-year term as mayor ends on January 3. The president heavily recruited Rendell to take on the DNC job two months ago, seeking him out for his powerful fundraising capabilities. Starting in January, Rendell will spend extensive time acquiring funds for Democratic candidates. Clinton said he was "profoundly honored" to be present at the event. "I have a lot to be grateful to Ed Rendell for," he said. "The results are here." Rendell himself spoke affectionately about his time as mayor. "Every day I've gotten up and known that I've had the opportunity to change the quality of people's lives. It just makes you feel great," he said. The program began with a dramatic choral rendition of the national anthem. David L. Cohen, Rendell's former chief of staff and the event's master of ceremonies, then introduced the evening with glowing remarks about his former boss. "[Rendell is] the best mayor in the history of the City of Philadelphia," Cohen said. The more-than-kind words for "America's Mayor" continued with a short video that highlighted Rendell's achievements. Celebrating Rendell's eight years in office, the video talked about the "turnaround" in Philadelphia, noting the improvements in public services, safety and the economy. "He has lifted the spirits of the city," boomed the voice-over, as positive news headline and photos of Rendell shaking elderly people's hands flashed across the screen. The final words wafted through the darkened room: "No matter where he goes or what he does, he will always be Ed Rendell -- the mayor." After waxing sentimental about his mayoral achievements, Rendell thanked the audience for their political -- and financial -- support. "The people in this room are not just good political supporters," he said. "They are people, who when the chips were down for the city? they put their money down." Other local political figures were at the convention center last night, including U.S. Reps. Chakah Fattah and Robert Borski, local party chairperson U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and City Council President Anne Verna. Rendell thanked all the members of local government for their hard work during his tenure and wished the best to his successor, former City Council President John Street. "I believe he's going to surprise everyone and make a great mayor," Rendell said. Although the popular outgoing mayor's impact may be impossible for Philadelphia to forget, each guest received a lasting momento of the Rendell years. They all left clutching a paperback copy of A Prayer for a City, the book by Penn alumnus Buzz Bissinger chronicling Rendell's first term in office.
About 1,800 guests will be at the Pennsylvania Convention Center tonight to honor outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell -- and amid the congratulations, the cocktails and the hors d' oeuvres, one of Rendell's personal friends and supporters will hold up his glass in praise. That friend just happens to be the leader of the free world. President Clinton will make remarks at a tribute to Rendell -- who was recently appointed general chairperson of the Democratic National Committee -- at the Grand Ballroom of the downtown Convention Center, which opened in 1994 and was one of Rendell's biggest accomplishments. "It's a way for the people in Philadelphia to pay tribute to the mayor," Rendell spokesperson David Yarkin said. Air Force One will likely land in a more peaceful city than it traveled to yesterday when Clinton visited Seattle -- the site of turbulent protests against a meeting of the World Trade Organization. Despite the turmoil raging on the other side of the country, Clinton will still appear in Philadelphia tonight to praise his Democratic ally. And he will probably keep his talk focused on Rendell, not on the WTO. The tribute will also serve as a Democratic Party fundraiser, Yarkin said. One of Rendell's main duties as DNC chief is to raise money for the upcoming 2000 elections. Yarkin said that Clinton is honoring Rendell's highly-touted mayoral record. "A lot of people have noticed the turnaround in Philadelphia," Yarkin said. Rendell, who will leave office next month after eight years in City Hall, has generated a massive economic revival in the city -- luring businesses, boosting tourism and improving the performing arts. Despite inheriting a Philadelphia engulfed in debt, the mayor has successfully streamlined operations and balanced the budget for six consecutive years. Those were the successes that brought Rendell to the attention of national party officials, who recruited him to head up the DNC for his business know-how, spunky personality and powerful fundraising skills. When he officially leaves office at the end of the year, Rendell will plunge right into a loaded schedule of touring and fundraising for the DNC. Clinton visited Philadelphia a month ago for a campaign appearance with Mayor-elect John Street, who fought off Republican challenger Sam Katz in a razor-thin election.
the mayor-elect's transition team is taking shape as the start of his term nears. With less than a month before his January 3 inauguration, Mayor-elect John Street is working on an elaborate plan for his transition that he hopes will smoothly move him into City Hall. Over the past few weeks, Street has appointed local officials and citizens to his Transition Team -- which will aid him not only in his immediate move to the mayorship, but also will help him outline a long-term vision for the future of Philadelphia. Street has named five transition co-chairs, including University President Judith Rodin, who will assist him in developing his administration by searching and screening candidates for city jobs. And he has appointed a whopping 38 task forces -- with approximately 300 members -- which will investigate various city issues, ranging from education to neighborhood blight. According to spokesperson Bruce Crawley, Street wants to address both short-term and long-term goals with this transition plan. "We would hope that many of these things are on a different time line," Crawley said. Crawley predicted that Street's administrative appointments will be made over the next six months, but the massive review of Philadelphia government may take over a year to complete. Street wants to take an in-depth look at city education, social services, neighborhood development, public safety and other quality of life issues. Still, Penn Public Policy and History Professor Ted Hershberg noted that Street will have to prove himself when he takes office. "This is good politics, you bring a lot of people in," he said, but added that the "real question is what happens afterwards." Street's extensive transition plans differ from his predecessor's efforts. Ed Rendell focused his transition mainly on recruiting candidates for top city jobs rather than long-term planning when he took office in 1992. But now, eight years later, the demands of the job have shifted. Crawley explained that Street is inheriting a very different Philadelphia. "About eight years ago there was a concern about the fiscal state of the city as a whole," he said, noting that today there is a different set of priorities -- namely the floundering school system and the crumbling neighborhoods. Because the major issues Street must address are community and neighborhood oriented, he has called this planning process "Vision for a Better Philadelphia." "Our vision for the city is one that includes better schools, better levels of public safety, improved job opportunities and a city government that is more responsive to its citizen's needs in every way," Street said in a recent statement. This plan designates three main committees -- education, government organization and policies and programs -- which will include the various task forces. Street has strived to ensure that the task forces are both bipartisan and multi-ethnic, Crawley said. "The mayor-elect has said he wants this transition process to look like Philadelphia," Crawley explained. Street moved into his new transition offices at 1818 Market Street yesterday. His 13-member staff will work on the organizational elements of his transition. Street expressed his excitement over the new base, saying that he was pleased with the progress of his transition. "The work being coordinated by this staff? is vital to the future of Philadelphia," Street said.
Caution tape decorated the floorboards, hard-hatted waiters passed around trays of mini-quiche and a string duet played Mozart in the corner of the Avenue B restaurant at Spruce and Broad streets. This melding of the architectural and creative arts set the stage for a status report from outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell and other city officials on the Regional Performing Arts Center, scheduled to open in 2001 across the street from yesterday's presentation. The $255 million complex, which began construction a year ago, will include three performing arts spaces, classrooms and cafes in a five-story building topped with a glass dome. Rendell has touted the center as the centerpiece of the Avenue of the Arts, which he says will help revive Center City by boosting tourism and increasing Philadelphia's cultural profile. But although Rendell has pushed for the mega-complex for several years, the hefty price tag was a problem for the city -- and when construction officially kicked off last fall, the RPAC was $45 million short. Still, despite a few bumps, RPAC officials say the funding and construction plans for the massive undertaking are right on track. The local business and community leaders sipping vodka tonics in the restaurant last night could look out the window to the vast 600,000-square-foot construction site that will soon house the RPAC. "We are still building it on budget and we are still building it on schedule," RPAC Board of Directors Chairperson Willard Rouse said as he stood, flanked by computer screens showing the pictures of the future center. "We are absolutely dedicated to building it on budget," Rouse added. RPAC has raised 91 percent of the $255 million price tag -- exactly $232.1 million. The funding has come from the city and state governments, local corporations and foundations and individual donors. Rendell stepped on stage after Rouse and spoke emotionally on how the RPAC will help rejuvenate and revitalize Center City, a longtime goal of his administration. "This [is] going to be a beautiful outstanding legacy," he said. But after praising the progress of RPAC and discussing his love for Philadelphia, Rendell asked the audience for just a little more financial support for the project. "This building can do so much for us, we have to be sure we can give it adequate support," Rendell said, adding that he and his wife, U.S. Circuit Court Judge and RPAC Vice Chairperson Marjorie Rendell, have donated $50,000. Later in the program, RPAC President Stephanie Naidoff discussed the goals of the center, which will serve as a home to Philadelphia's seven performing arts groups and will also hold popular attractions and performances by world-class musicians. The attendance projection for the year of 2003 -- RPAC's first normalized year -- is 1.13 million visitors. But Naidoff was quick to point out that this project will do more than just raise the decibel level in Center City. "There is more here than music," she said. "There's momentum of a world-class enterprise." She noted that the center will be an economic benefit to the city, providing 3,000 new jobs and netting the city $153 million in added revenue. Additionally, Naidoff outlined the five-year economic forecast for the center, which she said will net a projected $17.4 million per year while spending $21.6 million annually. Naidoff said RPAC will have an annual fundraising goal of $4.5 million to make up the difference between the expenses and the revenue, but she added that the expense is similar to other performing arts centers across the country. "This forecast has been based on every nuance of information," she said. Architect Rafael Vinoly also spoke at the event. His ambitious, unusual design for the complex -- which will include a 2,500-seat orchestra hall and a 650-seat recital hall with the glass dome curving 150 feet high above street level -- drew praise from those in attendance last night. "I think that [it] has been designed to lift up the pride of the city," Vinoly said.
Penn is evaluating plans to clear much of the area for a new cancer center. Wrecking balls will be swinging onto the southeastern end of campus before the year is over. The University is currently in the process of evaluating bids to demolish parts of the expansive Civic Center at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, part of which Penn purchased from the city last year. The demolition will clear the way for an expected $450 million development project, backed by both Penn and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, that will include a consolidated Penn cancer research and treatment center and a 2.2-acre parking garage. Jack Shannon, the University's top economic official, said the project to take down Center Hall and Exhibition Hall will begin before the year's end, adding that the University is currently reviewing the bids and finalizing legal arrangements with the city. And although the University of Pennsylvania Health System has been hemorrhaging money, the University Board of Trustees approved a $13.5 million initial expenditure for demolition and related costs. The demolition project should take about 10 months to complete, Shannon said. "This is not typical demolition," he explained, adding that the work must be done carefully so as not to damage the other halls -- like the famed Convention Hall, where the Beatles played in 1964 and several presidential nominating conventions were held in the 1930s and 1940s. But the Health System's ongoing financial crisis -- which included a $198 million deficit in the most recent fiscal year -- means the costs may be to much for Penn to handle alone. Health System spokesperson Lori Doyle said that due to its current financial status, UPHS will seek outside developers to work on the project. "[It's] more important to identify outside financing? We can't fund this solely through Health System dollars," she said. Starting the demolition means the University is finally realizing a longtime developmental dream. Penn officials have long coveted the enormous property on the southeastern corner of campus but for years city officials rejected University offers to buy the site. Last December, however, City Council approved a bill securing the site for Penn and CHOP to develop a cancer research center and parking garage. The garage will be the first building erected on the site after the demolition, Shannon said, adding that the University expects it to be finished by July 2001. The garage will ease the parking woes that have recently plagued the University. "It will be an enormous benefit," Executive Vice President John Fry said. "There is a real parking crunch in that area of campus." Meanwhile the plans for the rest of the site are still under discussion, according to officials, with University goals including the development of a cancer center and an ambulatory care center. "We do not have adequate ambulatory care or cancer care facilities at the Health System," Fry said. CHOP is committed to building a medical research office building on their 2.5 acres of the 10.7-acre site. Officials estimate that the cost of developing the entire parcel of land will be about $450 million, with Penn contributing $350 million.
Festivities will continue all day and all night as the city that spawned 'Rocky' rocks its way into 2000. Got any extra sweats hidden away in your closet? If so, then pull them out on December 31 and head over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia's 24-hour New Year's Eve party will kick off with 2,000 Rocky Balboa impersonators charging up the steps made famous by the 1976 movie. The "Rocky Run" will start at 7 a.m that day. This cinematic tribute is the first of an extensive series of free events happening every hour -- including fireworks, parades, dance parties and a scrapple breakfast -- to celebrate the dawn of a new millennium. The non-profit organization Philadelphia 2000 has been organizing the party for over a year, according to Sponsorship Coordinator Amy Malerba, who said outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell wanted to see free festivities geared toward local residents. "What we're doing is a 24-hour event that highlights food, museums and parks," Malerba said, adding that one key goal of the event is "targeting [the] general public." The entire project will cost several million dollars, Malerba said. The events will be funded primarily by private contributions made by local companies and foundations. Malerba said the festivities are designed to appeal to a wide range of ages and interests. Family-oriented events during the morning include the planting of 2,000 trees in Fairmount Park and a costume party for kids at the Academy of Natural Sciences. In the afternoon, wedding bells will chime as Rendell and his wife Marjorie, a University Trustee and federal appellate judge, will marry 1,000 couples at 2 p.m. in the Convention Center. "We already have 2,000 people for the wedding," Malerba said. As the evening approaches, the celebration will brighten the night sky with several permanent light displays. The seven bridges across the Schuylkill River will be lit up and the statue of William Penn atop City Hall will also be illuminated. Malerba said this New Year's event will benefit the city throughout the next century. "Keeping in mind that the Republican Convention is coming? [lighting bridges] is one way to make the city welcoming and beautiful," Malerba said. The light extravaganza will also continue later in the night. When the clock strikes midnight, fireworks will explode across the sky in a display Rendell called "the biggest fireworks show of the century." And the New Year's madness will rage on well after midnight, with a block party on South Street, a scrapple breakfast for 2,000 and a traditional Philadelphia mummers parade. Malerba said it is hard to gauge exactly how many people will come to the party, but organizers are estimating several thousand revelers for each event. Unfortunately, one Philadelphia favorite will not be getting down in the City of Brotherly Love for the millennium. "[Sylvester Stallone] can't be in town," Malerba said. "He's going away with his family." However, the runners will view a pre-taped New Year's welcoming and kickoff speech from the original Rocky himself.
Mayor Rendell said that the city will not approve any plans until next year. After months of wrangling and deliberating over financing and locations, Mayor Ed Rendell announced yesterday that the city will not approve plans for new stadiums for the Philadelphia Eagles or Phillies until next year at the earliest. According to Rendell, City Council President Anna Verna told him there just wasn't enough time left for City Council to review the proposals during their final four meetings of the year. "It's a sad day for these two franchises, because both of these franchises have about the worst lease for their stadiums in their respective leagues and generate among the least amount of revenues from stadiums" Rendell said at an afternoon news conference yesterday. "Frankly, I'm worried about the fate of our two teams and where they go from here." For months, Rendell --Ewho will leave office in January -- has stressed his goal of completing the stadium plans before the end of his term and has expressed worries that too many delays could destroy the teams' plans. But although he will not see those plans develop within his time in office, he did say the discussions will resume again next year under Verna and Mayor-elect John Street. Both pledged yesterday to work towards securing a deal as soon as possible when Council returns in January. Last year, the state legislature approved a plan to fund about a third of the $600 million-plus cost to build the new stadiums, with the rest of the money coming from the teams and the city. Both the Eagles and the Phillies currently play in the 29-year-old Veterans Stadium in South Philadelphia. Though the Eagles quickly decided they would prefer to stay in South Philly, the Phillies have spent months contentiously debating the merits of a downtown location, which the team and Rendell prefer but the community opposes. Recently, though, the Phillies essentially gave up on a Center City site and now also want to build on a site adjacent to the Vet. Both teams voiced their frustration with the delay. "Today's announcement was deeply disappointing and frankly very shocking to us," Eagles CEO Joe Banner said in a statement yesterday. "We have been ready to proceed with a new stadium since last spring, when the state approved a portion of the funding," he said. And despite the months of indecision, Phillies President Dave Montgomery said the team was ready to show its proposal to Council this week. "We had agreed on all the major issues and were preparing to take it to Council," he said. "We hope that a way can be found to move forward on this proposal and that this setback will prove to be a temporary one," Banner said in the statement. Rendell dismissed speculation that the delays could be grounds for one of the teams to break their lease with the city, which runs through 2011. Los Angeles is still looking to replace its NFL franchise. "They can't leave," Rendell said. "They signed a contract." The Associated Press contributed to this article.
In the last days of the race, John Street worked to keep Democrats for defecting. Experts said the race would have a photo finish. They were right. The final Polaroid showed John Street edging just past Sam Katz, winning the mayoralty by a mere percentage point. In the weeks preceding the election, polls showed the candidates running neck and neck and the momentum seemed to be for Katz, the Republican former business executive who made the best showing by a GOP candidate since 1947. But in the final days of the campaign, Street cranked up the Democratic Party machine. His team furiously canvassed the city, telling voters to respect party loyalty. He even received a supportive visit from President Clinton, who filmed commercials and made a tape recording that was used for telephone solicitations. And with a razor-thin 7,200-vote margin of victory, Street just barely avoided the distinction of being the first Democrat to lose a Philadelphia mayoral race in more than 50 years. "I sort of knew for us to win it would have to be close," Street spokesperson Ken Snyder said, adding that "Sam was a tremendous candidate." Street received strong support from all the city's African-American neighborhoods and did well enough in working-class white areas expected to vote heavily for Katz to carry the election. Penn Public Policy and History Professor Ted Hershberg said that a key component of Street's victory was his moderate success in the white blue-collar neighborhoods in Northeast and South Philadelphia. He explained that local Democrats targeted these areas, urging lower-class workers and union members to vote Democratic even if they weren't particularly fond of Street, the former City Council president with a controversial past. "In the dynamic of the election, the difference was in those wards," Hershberg said. Still, it was a very slight difference. Street squeaked through to victory by the lowest margin in modern city history. Noting the 1 percent margin, Katz spokesperson Bob Barnett said, "You can't do better than that without winning." Winning seemed to be almost in sight for Katz over the past few weeks. He ran a skillful campaign that avoided using the word Republican and focused on his plans to reinvigorate the city economy by cutting taxes and encouraging business development. But it was an uphill battle in a heavily Democratic city. Street's campaign acknowledged the definite and unexpected challenge it faced. "We seriously underestimated Sam's candidacy," Snyder admitted. Street, after all, was the longtime Democrat with the experience and know-how, the partner of and designated heir to popular outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell. After a bruising primary election, many thought he would coast to victory. But some voters were not crazy about their Democratic option, and Katz was able to capitalize on discontent within the opposing party. Street has a reputation for being a powerful -- and at times ruthless -- politician. During his 19-year tenure on City Council he was famed for aggressively seeking the votes he needed. And despite Rendell's endorsement, many think Street lacks Rendell's spunk and charm. Still, the Street team felt confident enough about its candidate to virtually drop out of sight during the summer months, waiting until fall to start the campaign up again. But when they returned to business in September, a few problems had sprung up. The key one was Sam Katz. Katz posed a huge threat to Street's candidacy. He vigorously campaigned with a moderate conservative platform and received key endorsements from influential Democrat John White, as well as former City Council member Happy Fernandez and the two major newspapers in the city. "Katz ran a superb campaign," said former Rendell chief of staff and Street ally David L. Cohen, who praised the campaign for remaining "totally issue focused." With the support of White, a leader in the African-American community, Katz's candidacy became legitimate for many Democratic voters who were feeling guilty about crossing party -- or racial -- lines. But although Katz couldn't take down the staunchly Democratic city, Republican leaders say the tight race proves that the GOP's support is growing in Philadelphia. Republican National Committee spokesperson Mark Pfeifle said the Republican party was proud of Katz's effort. He added that Katz's wide support indicated that the Philadelphia area is becoming more sympathetic to the party -- which may bode well for the 2000 elections. "It says that the Republican message of local decision making, pro-business, tough on crime and strong schools resonates in America," Pfeifle said.
The Republican candidate mounted the greatest GOP challenge in 50 years, but conceded defeat at 1:15 a.m. Supporters glumly lingered in the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue amidst the red and blue balloons, crowding around TV screens, watching the last few votes come through. Reluctantly, in the wee hours, Sam Katz fans admitted they had lost the mayorship by a mere one percentage point. "Too close. Too close," roared supporters, as Sam Katz stepped up on stage at 1:15 a.m. before hundreds of loyal fans to acknowledge his defeat, even as numbers continued to come in showing that the race would be just as close as had been predicted. "We did as well as I think anybody could have expected us to have done," Katz said. Flanked by his wife Connie and his four children, Katz, 49, told the crowd he was proud of his campaign. "I'm confident that during the course of the campaign, my opponent learned a lot about himself and the city," he said. And Katz thanked his supporters and his family. "The only regret I have," he said, gesturing to Connie, "is that this beautiful woman will not be first lady of Philadelphia." Katz and his family left the room immediately after his speech without speaking to reporters, leaving numerous teary-eyed fans behind. The night was a roller-coaster ride for Katz's supporters, who watched as the early numbers rolled in showing Street far ahead. But as Katz's strongholds in Northeast and South Philadelphia began reporting, the race tightened. Still, at no point did Katz actually pull ahead. "I'm devastated," said Katz supporter Myrna Shure, 62. "I feel sorry for the City of Philadelphia." Lou Geibel, 31, echoed the sentiments. "I'm just disappointed," he said. "I hope John Street does right for this city." Deputy field director Patrick McIntyre was openly sobbing at the night's close. "Although Sam will not be our next mayor, we've all had one of the best experiences of our lives," he said, turning away to hug another campaign member. It was hard to believe that, just a few hours before, sentiments were so very different. A festive mood pervaded the gilt-covered Park Hyatt at the Bellevue ballroom early in the evening, as about 500 supporters drank martinis and danced to the strains of "What a Wonderful World." Republicans and Democrats alike partied for Katz -- demonstrating the wide range of support that defined his campaign. And his loyal supporters, many of whom had canvassed for votes all day in the rain, thought their man would win the day. "Katz is really saying, 'let's see how we can make the city prosper,'" said Miguel Vazquez, 38, who had helped with field efforts all day long. Katz's successful campaign had been surprising in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 4-to-1 margin. He was the first Republican in recent history to come within sight of the mayor's office -- and would have been the first of his party to be elected to City Hall in over 50 years. By avoiding party affiliation and focusing on his fiscally conservative platform, Katz drew the race to a dead-even point up until Election Day. Katz's crowd remained confident well into the night, proudly wearing their Katz buttons, even though early returns showed Street pulling away. But gradually the band began to pack up and some subdued fans started to head for the door. Soon the room became a lot less wonderful and a lot more somber. As the glasses were cleared away and disheartened supporters crept to the door, College junior and Katz volunteer Cam Winton admitted he was upset by the outcome. "I'm disappointed," he said. "[But] it's incredible how far the Katz campaign has come and it's incredible what Katz has achieved."