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GOP gets 'Happy': Katz garners endorsement from Fernandez

(10/01/99 9:00am)

You don't need to tell Sam Katz to cheer up -- he's already got Happy. Onetime Democratic mayoral candidate Happy Fernandez decided to cross over party lines and endorse Republican candidate Katz for this November's mayoral election. "I am convinced Sam Katz is our best choice for positive, forward-looking and inclusive leadership," Fernandez wrote in a letter sent out on Wednesday to about 1,500 supporters. In the spring primary won by former City Council President John Street, Fernandez -- who resigned her Council seat to run for mayor -- received only 6 percent of the vote. Katz's campaign committee paid for the mailing. Just two weeks ago Katz received an endorsement from another Democratic primary contender, John White. His endorsement is considered more important because of White's longstanding friendship with Street and his standing as a prominent African-American Democrat. Like White, Fernandez draws on a base of middle class Democratic voters -- a group Katz is trying to lure with his moderate campaign targeting Democrats who disapprove of the party candidate. And as the race charges into the final month, Katz is now widely perceived as an actual contender in a city that has not elected a Republican since 1947. Fernandez, who left politics to become the president of the Moore College of Art and Design, said she will not actively campaign for Katz. While Fernandez's support may not be as important as White's endorsement of Katz or Marty Weinberg's of Street, the Katz campaign is pleased to have her backing. "I think [the endorsement] demonstrates the bipartisan support the campaign has," Katz spokesperson Bob Barnett said. And the decision surprised many insiders -- Fernandez worked with Street on City Council for seven years and they share similar views on issues such as education and tax reform. Like Street, Fernandez favors education reform and opposes school vouchers, which Katz supports. "This had nothing to do with the issues," said Street spokesperson Ken Snyder, who noted that the endorsement was "puzzling." Snyder added that Street had spoken with Fernandez on several occasions but "[he] is not going to say and do anything to get someone's support." According to Fernandez, choosing Katz "was a very difficult decision to make," but ultimately she decided that Katz's leadership style would more effectively govern the city. In her letter, Fernandez outlined the reasons behind her choice of Katz, including his goals for education reform in the Philadelphia public schools. "While we do not agree on vouchers, Sam Katz shares my dedication to securing fair funding to improve the quality of education for each of the 215,000 students in the Philadelphia public schools," she wrote. She also stressed Katz's leadership and management skills. "Sam Katz has taken initiatives to build coalitions across party, racial and neighborhood lines, and he has welcomed opportunities to talk with citizens in all types of forums," the letter continued.

Street's student supporters mobilize for campaign

(10/01/99 9:00am)

In response to a rival organization for the GOP's San Katz, a new group has started lauding the Democrat's virtues. John Street finally has some friends at Penn. A group of students calling themselves Friends of the Democratic Party -- whose primary purpose is to support the Democratic mayoral nominee -- was born this week, after intense campaigning by a student organization supporting Street's Republican opponent, Sam Katz. The pro-Street group -- currently composed of four founding members -- registered with the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life on Wednesday, just a day after a front-page Daily Pennsylvanian article publicized the Katz group and the lack of an equivalent Street organization. "I had been thinking about it," said Chief Coordinator Beth Harkavy, a College junior. "But reading the article and seeing [Penn for Katz] on Locust Walk was the catalyst." With the Philadelphia mayoral race speeding through its final weeks, it looked like Republican candidate Sam Katz might win the campus votes without a fight. Several Penn students work for his campaign office and the Penn for Katz group has about 60 active members -- many of whom have been out on Locust Walk soliciting support. Meanwhile, Street has had no Penn students in his campaign office and is without backing from even the school's College Democrats chapter. And before Tuesday, there was no campus organization working for Street. Earlier this week, a Street spokesperson even said that the campaign didn't feel the need to make an effort to attract Penn voters. But yesterday, Street spokesperson Ken Snyder -- who recently returned to Street's staff to help fix what many consider to be a faltering campaign -- stressed that the former City Council president does want Penn support. "Contrary to what you might have heard, we're very interested," Snyder said. However, the situation on campus mirrors the political atmosphere throughout the city, where Katz has increased the intensity of a typically uncompetitive race, pushing to become the first Republican mayor in 50 years. He has vigorously campaigned for months -- wooing voters in a city with a 7-2 Democratic edge -- while Street has kept a low profile since winning the Democratic primary in the spring. Harkavy said the group supports Street for his platform -- issues which include education reform, cutting crime and continuing economic growth. The organization was on Locust Walk Wednesday and yesterday registering voters and handing out Street information. According to Harkavy, about 35 people have shown interest in joining the group. But the Katz supporters didn't seem too concerned about the new table on the walk. "It's a small, not well-organized effort and the people running it aren't clear why they support John Street," Katz volunteer and College junior Cam Winton said. "[Street's campaign is] on the record saying they don't care about the Penn vote," added Penn for Katz founding member and Katz volunteer Patrick Ruffini, a College senior. Harkavy, who has also begun to volunteer in the Street office, said that "to this point Street has focused on other areas, not as much on Penn students." But she added that Streets campaign had been supportive of her efforts. Snyder said the campaign is pleased that a grassroots effort was developing. The College Democrats were not involved in the creation of the group but said they are a welcome addition to the Penn political landscape. "It's great we're finally going to have more than one organization," said College Democrats President Mark Christy, a College senior, who is supporting Katz.

Center City locals oppose stadium at downtown site

(09/30/99 9:00am)

Residents of the Broad and Spring Garden area met at a forum last night. Raising their voices in anger, residents of the Spring Garden neighborhood gathered downtown last night to discuss a proposal to build a baseball stadium in Center City at Broad and Spring Garden streets. And the roughly 300 community members present at the Highway Tabernacle Church at 17th and Spring Garden streets sent a strong message to area City Council member Darrell Clarke. They don't want a new neighbor. "I'm as likely to win the lottery as the site is to work at this location," said Patricia Freeland, a member of Stadium Off this Site. Last night's session was one of several community meetings Clarke is holding to discuss the issues surrounding the stadium. The Broad and Spring Garden site is backed heavily by both the Phillies and Mayor Ed Rendell, who says it will energize the area. Clarke has remained neutral on the issue so far, saying he wants more information before he comes to a decision. "I will do as many forums as I need," he said. But with a proposal expected from the Phillies in October, his time may be limited. The main item on the agenda was a presentation by SOS on potential traffic and parking problems. That was followed by a question-and-answer session between Clarke and his constituents. All those present were invited to fill out questionnaires on the stadium. Clarke said the information and the events of the meeting would be relayed to the Phillies, who did not participate in the forum. Last night was primarily a chance for residents to express their frustrations. Richard Orth, a transportation engineer who did the traffic analysis for the Phillies, spoke very briefly towards the meeting's end. During the traffic analysis, SOS member Ed Gruberg said that the stadium will attract 45,000 people and about 12,000 cars. According to Gruberg, the surrounding streets and parking cannot possibly accommodate the traffic. And he doubted the feasibility of the Phillies' plan, which calls for parking in Center City as well as commuter routes to the stadium. When he pointed out a proposed parking location at Eighth and Filbert streets, the crowd began to laugh. The audience frequently broke into raucous applause, with many holding up SOS signs, as several SOS members spoke to the group. Freeland disputed the city's argument that a Broad and Spring Garden stadium alone could rejuvenate Center City. "We can revitalize our own neighborhood," she said, as the room exploded with cheers and Clarke slowly wiped his forehead. The community frequently chorused the same request: give us some answers. Residents complained they didn't have information on traffic control, on neighborhood safety or on why other sites had been passed over. "A stadium would have drastic effects on our neighborhood," Freeland said, adding that "the Phillies are engaged in fantasies and wishful thinking." Three or four attendees -- organized by a group composed of property owners -- bravely gripped signs that read, "Ballpark Yes!" "It will bring jobs and employment," said Gene Wieczorek, the group's co-chairperson. But the stadium's opponents outweighed the supporters by at least 10 to one. And Clarke said he was receiving mostly negative mail on the issue. Another anti-stadium group present -- Stop Stadium Spending -- objected to using taxpayers money for the project. The group wants the money to go towards education and other community needs. "There shouldn't be welfare for fat cat billionaires," Chairperson Richard Ash said. Money for the stadium is coming from the team, the state government and the city. Other locations for the stadium include South Philadelphia -- near the Phillies' current home at Veterans Stadium -- and at 30th and Walnut streets. The latter site is strongly opposed by the University. One of Rendell's consultants, Patrick Mulligan -- the former director of operations for Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore -- attended the meeting. Mulligan said the presentation was misleading and that the panic was "blown out of proportion. "There was no mention of the subway system or the bus system," he said, adding that 22 percent of Camden Yards visitors use public transit.

Phila. nearly Y2K ready, but worry lingers

(09/29/99 9:00am)

Local utilities and government offices report that they'll be ready for the new year's computer bug. With less than 100 days before the year 2000, Philadelphia is checking and double-checking to ensure that the Y2K computer bug won't cause citywide breakdowns for services or utilities. And after years of evaluation and correction, most local officials express confidence that the transition to the new millennium will be a smooth one. But a recent U.S. Senate report on the Y2K bug -- the result of some computer software codes that record the year by the final two digits, meaning that 2000 may be read as 1900 -- indicates that many small businesses and utility companies are not fully prepared. The report specifically singled out industries like health care and air travel. According to Philadelphia mayoral spokesperson Kevin Feeley, the city started a Y2K effort in 1995, doing a risk assessment of city services and operations. "We systematically set about testing the town," Feeley said, noting that the two main areas of concern are PECO, the city's main electric company, and Bell Atlantic's phone services. In preparation for the year 2000, almost every organization that uses computer technology -- like the Philadelphia Police Department, the Philadelphia International Airport, PECO, Bell Atlantic and SEPTA -- was forced to test its equipment. The Senate report predicts that breakdowns could cause national "disruptions." It also points out that there are virtually no national standards for Y2K preparedness, meaning that every industry is relying on its own tests and evaluations to determine Y2K-compliance. Locally, however, City Computer Chief Brian Anderson said that "as of the end of August we were 91 percent done" with bringing city computer systems into compliance. Anderson said the city has gone over police systems "with a fine-tooth comb." And he said the airport technology and security has been analyzed. He also noted that SEPTA has reviewed their operations and does not have many systems that will be directly affected by the bug. But if either PECO or Bell Atlantic has problems, that could disrupt other major city services, even if they themselves are in compliance. The city has been working closely with both PECO and Bell Atlantic for some time to combat possible problems. Anderson said Philadelphia is also developing contingency plans for the night of December 31, the same night the city is planning a massive New Year's Eve party. Up to 50,000 people are expected to attend. There will be an emergency operations center open all night and extra police officers and city employees will be on duty. "I live by a law called Murphy's Law," Anderson quipped. Despite the possibility of massive breakdowns, both PECO and Bell Atlantic say they aren't anticipating any major disruptions. PECO spokesperson Michael Wood said that "at this point we're finalizing our compliance." He said the company has spent $75 million over the last four years to do a comprehensive inventory of their computer technology. PECO officials have met with city officials several times, Wood said, to review planning, and now the key focus is on contingency plans. "[We] have an obligation to employees and customers," he added. And Bell Atlantic has spent up to $300 million, utilizing thousands of people in its Y2K effort, according to spokesperson Ells Edwards. "You simply cannot have a day when your phone doesn't work," he said. Edwards said the company -- which serves 25 million customers in the greater Philadelphia area -- has tested all the computer technology according to industry-wide standards. He added that there are alternative power generators in place and there will be other back-up plans, such as an early warning system for problems. "We will be prepared should anything happen," he said. But he added that "we believe that January 1 in the Year 2000 will be just another day in the network." And Feeley echoed those sentiments, saying that the New Year's celebration proves officials aren't too worried. "You don't plan a party if you're worried they're going to turn the lights out," Feeley added.

Penn students rally behind GOP candidate Katz

(09/28/99 9:00am)

Unlike Democratic opponent John Street, Republican hopeful Sam Katz has won spport from an active group of students. Signs decorate the streets, flyers circulate among students, buttons keep appearing on jackets -- a political campaign has hit the Penn campus. The campaign? Sam Katz for Mayor. As his push to be Philadelphia's first Republican mayor in 50 years hits its final climactic weeks, Katz is earning a wide range of support from Penn students, Democrats and Republicans alike. Several Penn students work in the Katz campaign office and over 50 of them are drumming up votes for him on campus by urging students to register to vote and holding Katz for Mayor meetings. Meanwhile, his Democratic rival, John Street, has no Penn volunteers and no visible base of support within the University. "I have actively sought the support of the student body on the Penn campus," said Katz, who has made several trips to campus -- including a speech in a Wharton class two weeks ago. What's happening here is not unlike the rest of the city, where longtime Democrats are turning their support to Katz. Though he remains an underdog, Katz has made a race out of a general election that is usually a non-event. Even an endorsement from popular outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell has not guaranteed a victory for Street. The former City Council president has kept a very low profile since winning the Democratic primary last spring, while Katz has been vigorously campaigning and courting the voters he needs in a city with a 7-2 Democratic advantage. "[Katz is] more in tune with our ideas and our philosophies," said campaign volunteer and College sophomore Jarrod Koenig, a 34th Street magazine staff member. But Street spokesperson Ray Jones said the students-for-Katz movement will not be a factor in the election. Jones said college students were not a key concern for their campaign, largely because most are not from the area. "For Katz it looks good but he can't get [any] votes out it," Jones said. Fighting the assumption that college students will not affect the election, the Penn for Katz organization has been out on Locust Walk registering hundreds of voters and talking to students about the Katz campaign. College senior Patrick Ruffini was a founding member of the group, which currently has about 60 members. And students have responded positively to Katz's moderate Republican platform, which focuses on education reform, lowering taxes and fighting crime. Ruffini, who has worked for Katz's campaign since January, said they registered 300 to 400 voters last week. He estimates that about 500 students were already registered. "I think [Penn] is a valuable new source of votes," he said. "We could impact the result." While the College Republicans have officially endorsed Katz, the College Democrats have not decided which candidate to back. But College Dems President Mark Christy, a College senior, said he personally would support Katz . Christy said he could not vote for Street because "he's against initiatives that support gays and lesbians." He added that Street is "a power-hungry monster." And College junior Cam Winton works for Katz's campaign although he is a Democrat. "Rendell is a saint. I love Rendell," said Winton, who wears a "Democrats for Katz" button. But he added that "we need fresh ideas about problems." "We believe that if they look at both candidates they can't make any other choice," Senior Class President and College Republicans Chairperson Lisa Marshall said. "I think Sam Katz will be a refreshing change."

Rendell officially takes top DNC job

(09/24/99 9:00am)

The mayor will head the Democrats' fundraising efforts for the 2000 race. After a week of wooing by President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell officially accepted his nomination to head up the Democratic National Committee yesterday. Clinton offered Rendell the position Wednesday night and members of the DNC are scheduled to vote him in tomorrow. According to insiders, Rendell was chosen specifically for his fundraising skills. As general chairperson of the committee, he will spearhead intensive fundraising efforts for the 2000 elections and serve as the main party spokesperson. The party has become increasingly concerned about the financial momentum of the Republican presidential frontrunner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who has raised about $50 million. Gore, the Democratic presidential favorite, has taken in less than half that amount. Rendell had several conditions upon accepting the job, including that he would not have to travel extensively during his final three months as mayor. Rendell has raised about $14 million for his two mayoral campaigns and has taken in millions more for the Clinton-Gore campaigns, the DNC and state and local democratic campaigns. Last June, he held a Gore fundraiser in Philadelphia that collected $450,000. David L. Cohen, Rendell's former chief of staff and close advisor, said his former boss has "extraordinary fundraising capabilities." "This should be an enormously proud moment for the city," Cohen said. Referring to his upcoming fundraising goals, Rendell said yesterday in Washington, D.C., that he plans to "collect as much as we can legally raise." Despite his move from Philadelphia to a prominent national position, Rendell says the new job will not interfere with his final three months as mayor. "No one in Philadelphia will be shortchanged," he said. And mayoral spokesperson Kevin Feeley said Rendell "will serve out every day of his term." The new position also will not interfere with Rendell's plans to teach at Penn next semester. He is still scheduled to teach two urban politics classes next semester, according to University President Judith Rodin. Rodin said that teaching will be "something Rendell will do in addition to [the DNC position] but not instead of." She added that she spoke with Rendell last week about the teaching position. Rendell has been close to Gore -- who once dubbed him "America's mayor" -- for years, and he endorsed Gore for president long ago. Now as the party leader, Rendell also tried to voice some support for Gore's only Democratic opponent, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, calling him a good friend. The popular Rendell has long had higher political aspirations. His close relationship with Gore could result in a Cabinet-level post if the vice president wins the presidency, and Rendell is also mulling a run for Pennsylvania governor in 2002. Cohen said this job will only improve Rendell's opportunities in the future. "The places you can go after being a successful chair of the DNC are almost unlimited," Cohen observed. Rendell was previously asked to chair the DNC in 1994, during his first mayoral term. Former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, the outgoing chairperson, will take on a new role: head of the Democratic National Convention Committee. The new job means that Rendell will likely spend next August promoting the Democrats during the Republican National Convention, which he helped lure to Philadelphia. He remains committed to raising money for the event, which will likely draw tens of thousands of people and millions of dollars to the region. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Despite the polls, third-party candidate thinks he can win

(09/21/99 9:00am)

Unknown John McDermott says religion can save the city. He's got fire in his belly. Referring to the words of legendary Mayor Frank Rizzo, John McDermott -- the third-party candidate in the Philadelphia mayoral race -- explained that you need internal fire to succeed politically. And he hopes that fire can carry him to City Hall. Sure, experts say the mayoral race is a two-party affair and that McDermott, the right-wing Constitutional Party candidate, has no chance. But the 48-year-old Northeast Philadelphia native says he will still run against Republican Sam Katz and Democrat John Street -- and that he just may surprise people. "Let's see come Election Day, but I think a lot of people are sick of Republicans and Democrats," McDermott said yesterday from his Center City campaign office, which was composed of two tables and a Constitutional Party sign almost falling off the wall. McDermott is running on an ultra-conservative platform in a fairly liberal city. His campaign stresses his own pro-life values, which moderate voters may shy away from. By his own estimates, he has raised less than $10,000. His rivals, meanwhile, are expected to spend $10 million each on the general election. So the other candidates aren't panicking just yet. Katz spokesperson Bob Barnett said McDermott's push for mayor was not a concern for their campaign. "We don't think about it at all," he said, adding that "everyone knows there are two candidates." And Ray Jones, spokesperson for Democratic candidate John Street, echoed the sentiment. "We don't forsee that as an issue as we proceed to Election Day," he explained. But when confronted with the citywide view of his candidacy, McDermott -- who is single and lives with his elderly parents -- leaned back in his chair, took off his checkered suit jacket, smoothed his patterned tie and said the race wasn't over until Election Day on November 2. McDermott -- the third of 11 children in an Irish-Catholic family -- said he was named after John the Baptist. Like the biblical figure, McDermott said he sees himself as a "voice crying in the wilderness," fighting against the centrist views of most politicians. Katz and the GOP have moved too far to the left, McDermott said. Beyond his political platform, McDermott said he is also counting on his name and background, as well as the backgrounds of his two opponents, to pull in voters. "Philadelphia is 36 percent Catholic. If you look at Sam Katz and consider yourself Catholic, you couldn't vote for him," said McDermott, explaining that Katz is "pro-abortion" and "pro-homosexual," two stances which he thinks a Catholic could not condone in an elected official. McDermott was a registered Republican until 1998, when he switched parties because the GOP refused to stop funding candidates who supported legal abortion. McDermott, who counts the "rights of the unborn child" as his key issue, said that he has to support "the things I know are true." As a Republican he worked on several state and local campaigns throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He then ran on the Republican ticket for office three different times, winning once. In 1994, McDermott gained a spot on the Republican State Committee. But he also launched an unsuccessful campaign for state representative in 1980, and in 1995 lost in the three-way Republican primary for Philadelphia City Commissioner. If elected, McDermott said his first order of business will be to cut the size of City Council so that it correlates with the city's population loss during the 1990s. He also wants to decentralize the school system and regulate public housing by imposing background checks and drug testing.

Report: Rendell tapped for DNC post

(09/20/99 9:00am)

Mayor Ed Rendell, whose term ends this year, is said to be interested in the offer. Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell has reportedly been approached by Vice President Al Gore and other senior officials in the Democratic party about assuming a top post with the Democratic National Committee. While Rendell -- who has become close to the vice president and presidential candidate over the years -- has acknowledged that while he had talked with Gore and other party members, there had been no formal job offer. Rendell spokesperson Kevin Feeley said the party has inquired about Rendell's interest, but said the outgoing mayor would only be receptive to such a position under several conditions --Ethere would have to be a firm offer, a vacancy and he'd "have to do it on his own terms." But Feeley added that "these are not insurmountable roadblocks." The Washington Post, which broke the story last week, reported that Rendell's key attraction is his impressive fundraising ability -- he has raised about $14 million for the Clinton-Gore campaign, the DNC, state and local democratic candidates and his two mayoral campaigns. Rendell's term expires at the end of the year, and he is barred by city law from running for a third term. The DNC and Gore are trying to compete financially with the Republican presidential frontrunner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush -- who already has $50 million in the bank. Gore has raised less than half that, and may have a tough primary battle against former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. The DNC could definitely use the charismatic Rendell's fundraising skills. The party is becoming increasingly worried about Bush, who has opted out of the presidential matching funds system -- meaning his spending during the election will be unrestricted. It is not yet clear if Rendell would replace the current DNC general chairperson, former Colorado governor Roy Romer, or assume another senior role. Rendell has said he would not seriously consider working for the DNC until his term ends three months from now. But it may be an attractive option for him in January. Rendell caught Gore's attention with his financial triumphs in Philadelphia. The mayor has raised money for his own campaign fund, for Democratic mayoral candidate John Street and helped amass $450,000 at a Gore fundraiser in Philadelphia at the Wyndham Franklin Hotel last June. Rendell is widely believed to have a bright political future in state or national politics. His friendship with Gore could earn him a Cabinet-level post should the vice president win the presidency, and he is also considered likely to enter Pennsylvania's 2002 gubernatorial election. Rendell was asked to head the DNC in 1994, midway through his first term as mayor. He is currently planning to teach a course at Penn next semester about urban politics. It is not known how an appointment to the DNC would affect those plans.

Floyd batters down Phila. area

(09/17/99 9:00am)

The skies darkened over Philadelphia yesterday as pounding rain and angry winds raging late into the night enveloped the region in a maelstrom of canceled classes, falling trees and flooded streets. Hurricane Floyd decided to stop by. The powerful storm that has been blamed for at least 12 deaths dropped 12 inches of rain on the Philadelphia area and left thousands without power. It has caused flooding, toppled trees and downed power lines, prompting local schools and businesses --Eincluding Penn -- to close early for safety reasons yesterday. Southwest Philadelphia was the hardest hit and last night hundreds of people were reportedly evacuated from their homes there. The storm blew through the region all day with gusting winds that reached 50 mph in the afternoon. Late in the day, Floyd was downgraded to a tropical storm and by evening, the rain had diminished. But the howling wind continued to rattle the streetlights and shake the windows as the gray skies turned to black. Facilities and buildings across campus received a beating but managed to pull through without too much damage, according to Associate Vice President for Campus Services Larry Moneta. Moneta said the University Bookstore was the hardest hit, sustaining leaks through the center ceiling. He said several residences had minor "water penetration" problems and the third floor of Stouffer Dining Hall was flooded. Several students reported water accumulation in their dorm rooms. All the dining halls stayed open yesterday, said Moneta. And Facilities Services had staff members working around the clock to try and combat the weather-related difficulties. There were no reports of any power outages in University dormitories last night. Police last night were checking several facilities on the eastern end of campus for possible flooding. Overall, Moneta said he was pleased with how Penn survived the storm. "Nobody got hurt [and] anything that got wet can be fixed," he said Executive Vice President John Fry announced yesterday afternoon that all evening classes were canceled and non-essential staff were also urged to leave, effective at 1:30 p.m. Individual teachers were allowed to cancel afternoon classes at their own discretion, and many did. Fry said the decision was made for safety reasons, namely to help prevent a busy rush hour during the late afternoon hours that forecasters speculated would see the brunt of the storm hit Philadelphia. But he said unless the weather forecast changed, the University would be open today. "My understanding is that the weather will be fine," he said. Vice President for Public Safety Thomas Seamon said his office was in contact with city officials regarding the weather conditions and that an increased number of police officers would patrol the area throughout the night. Weather-related incidents punctuated the evening. Several large trees and branches fell to the ground -- including one on Pine Street between 40th and 41st streets, which hit three parked cars. "It sounded like thunder," said College sophomore Darleen Cafasso, the owner of one of the cars. There were no reports of injuries. Another tree fell down beneath the 38th Street footbridge. It ripped up the surrounding slabs of sidewalk but did not block traffic down the busy thoroughfare. The weather brought down power lines throughout the state, leaving a reported 200,000 customers in the dark. Railway and airline services were disrupted, including a temporary closure of Philadelphia International Airport. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge declared a disaster emergency in the afternoon, permitting state resources and personnel to be used to help various flood affected communities. Unlike New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, though, Ridge did not declare a state of emergency. Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell urged local businesses to send employees home on a staggered basis throughout the afternoon. "We asked people to exercise caution," said mayoral spokesperson Kevin Feeley, who added that non-essential city employees were also allowed to leave. University City businesses responded to the weather issues. All the Sansom Common stores -- the Penn Bookstore, Xando, Urban Outfitters, Douglas Parfumerie and Eastern Mountain Sports -- closed early. Floyd traveled up the coast from North Carolina, eventually being downgraded to a tropical storm as it hit the northeast region. At 11 p.m. last night, the storm's winds had fallen to 60 mph. Its center was 25 miles east of Hartford, Conn., and moving quickly northeast at 25 mph. Forecasters said it would continue to weaken today. Daily Pennsylvanian staff writers Karlene Hanko, Rod Kurtz and Jonathan Margulies and the Associated Press contributed to this article.

Quiet all summer, mayoral race to heat up this fall

(09/09/99 9:00am)

Democratic candidate John Street and the GOP's Sam Katz will take to the streets and the airwaves in pursuit of votes. Labor Day weekend ushers in the political season and marks the final stretch of the competitive Philadelphia mayoral race, one of the most-watched elections of the year. Over the next eight weeks, Republican Sam Katz will make a final drive to upset favorite John Street, the Democratic former City Council President, in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 7-to-2. Philadelphia last elected a Republican mayor in 1947. Third-party candidate John McDermott, running on the right-wing Constitutional Party ticket, is also vying for the office. Political ads will dominate television and radio until November 2 in a general election that is expected to cost more than $10 million, according to campaign officials. And candidates from both major parties have already spent millions of dollars during the spring's primary elections. The next two months will make or break the two major candidates, with many speculating that this could be one of the few elections in recent history where the Republican candidate puts up a strong challenge. "This eight weeks is the real race," said Penn History and Public Policy Professor Ted Hershberg, who added that this is "an enormously significant election for the future of Philadelphia." Street fought off four Democratic opponents last May, following a grueling and often nasty campaign. He kept a low profile throughout the summer, spending most of his time raising money and developing his campaign team. Ironically, the only Democratic candidate who has endorsed Street is Marty Weinberg -- his most ardent opponent during the primaries. Weinberg, a longtime campaign operative, spent millions of dollars raising his profile while attacking Street, and ended up finishing a close second in the race. None of the others, including influential third-place finisher John White, have committed to Street. But while Street slowed down his campaign, Katz increased his efforts, appearing at fundraisers, social events and press conferences. Katz spokesperson Bob Barnett said they ran an "aggressive campaign" all summer, noting that "we can't turn it up much more than we have." Street spokesperson Ray Jones downplayed the significance of summer campaigning, saying there has been "no candidate of note over the last 10 years who did anything over the summer." Street has tried to position himself as the natural heir to outgoing Mayor Ed Rendell -- the popular two-term mayor who has endorsed Street. "If you look at candidates based on merit, we have the most qualified candidate," Jones said. Jones cited Street's work experience with Rendell, his leadership skills and his ability to handle the budget as key reasons he is the better candidate. Katz, meanwhile, is promoting himself as a a successful businessperson who can continue the city's revival. "Katz wants to run the city like a business," Barnett said. Street and Katz are both stressing similar issues -- economic stability, better schools and the continued effort to improve and enhance the city. They disagree on such topics as school vouchers and the city's wage tax. But though the candidates may agree on many issues, voters can see two obvious differences -- their race and their party. Although Street has the upper hand in party affiliation, he is an African-American running in a city that has elected just one black mayor in its history. Recent figures put Philadelphia's population at 52 percent white and 40 percent African-American. "Most folk vote for folk who look like them," acknowledged Jones, who added that he hopes voters will focus on the issues and note Street's qualifications. But Katz has to deal with the more difficult problem of being a GOP candidate in a city that has not elected a Republican mayor in 52 years. Katz has tried to downplay his party affiliation -- and he was, in fact, once a registered Democrat -- instead stressing his goals for the city's future. Barnett said the Katz campaign wants voters to look at the two candidates, not the two parties. "There are no broad [party] policies here," he explained, saying that people would not necessarily adhere to the party lines.

SEPTA provides easy access to Center City, outer suburbs

(09/03/99 9:00am)

When Penn students want to leave campus they can board a bus, subway or trolley and voyage into the greater Philadelphia area. Mass transit in the region is run by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. SEPTA charges a flat fee of $1.60 to ride on the buses or subway-surface rails, or $1.15 for tokens that can be used at any time. Exact change is required. Getting around town will be easier this semester with the introduction of the PennPass -- which, for $200, offers unlimited transport anywhere on SEPTA for a semester. But for the pass to be worth it, a student would have to ride SEPTA more than 100 times, meaning it is probably a good value only for commuters. The Undergraduate Assembly pushed for increased use of SEPTA last semester, and another one of its suggestions -- more token machines on campus -- will come to fruition this fall. The underground subway and subway surface rails are the quickest way to get around the city. The Market-Frankford El -- the blue line -- is the fast route to Center City. Students can board the train at 34th or 40th streets. Heading east the line stops at 30th Street Station, City Hall, Reading Terminal Market, The Gallery and Penn's Landing. The line also travels to the west, ending at 69th Street. Riders can use this route to get to the Tower Theater and the 69th Street Theater. The subway-surface rail -- the green line-- makes several stops across campus, before winding through Philadelphia. One stop is in front of the Quadrangle at 37th and Spruce and there is another by Kings Court/English House at 36th and Sansom. Another subway line is the Broad Street line -- the orange line -- which runs north-south along Broad Street. Riders can board the line at the City Hall station with a free interchange from the green and blue lines. Southward bound passengers go to the Philadelphia sports complexes of Veterans Stadium, the First Union Center and the Spectrum. Towards the north, the line hits Temple University. Several bus routes also serve traveling Penn students. The buses are easy to use, but city traffic and the frequent stops often slow them down. The No. 40 bus goes through campus down Spruce Street which becomes South Street near Franklin Field. It then continues down South Street until Second Street. The No. 21 bus also runs across campus, but on Chestnut Street. It provides transportation to shops along Chestnut and then continues into the historic district. And the No. 42 bus travels along Spruce Street west of 38th and then runs south for a few blocks. It returns to campus via 33rd Street by the Penn Tower Hotel and goes into Center City along Chestnut Street. In addition to the buses and subways around town, students can use SEPTA to travel further afield. SEPTA offers commuter rail lines to the Philadelphia suburbs. And the University City Rail Station -- situated beside Franklin Field -- serves various locations including, the airport. Finally students can use SEPTA to visit New York, by taking SEPTA to Trenton, N.J., and then riding New Jersey Transit to New York City's Penn Station.

U. to develop 34th, Chestnut lot

(09/03/99 9:00am)

The University announced plans over the summer for a $111 million project at 34th and Chestnut streets to provide academic space, housing and retail facilities on the eastern part of campus. Plans have not yet been finalized, but the proposal calls for a 19-story residential facility, a 5-story academic building and a 786-car parking garage. Additionally the plans allocate 28,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on the ground floor of the residential tower. This proposal comes on the heels of several large-scale construction announcements on both sides of campus, including significant work in the 40th Street areas on the Sundance Cinemas and specialty food market. On the eastern end, Penn's latest plans signify the second major expansion. In February, Penn announced that it would convert the former General Electric building at 31st and Walnut streets -- currently vacant -- to a $54 million, 285-unit luxury apartment complex. And the move towards the east may continue, according to Executive Vice President John Fry. In the case of its latest eastern project, Penn bid $8.2 million on the 2.6 acre site -- now used as a parking lot -- for the new buildings. Jack Shannon, the University's top economic development official, said Penn is currently discussing the proposal with the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority to ensure the project is a good use of the space. He predicted the plans will be finalized by the end of the month. Officials are projecting that the buildings will be completed in five years, but they have not set a date for construction to begin. Designs and plans though are still in the very preliminary stages. Fry said the project will fulfill three University priorities: extending academic space, increasing residential and retail options and providing more campus-area parking. The primary use for the proposed residential space, Fry explained, will be as temporary housing for graduate students and faculty members who are only on campus for a semester. But the building is not intended to be a freshman dormitory, nor is it part of the University's 10-year dorm and dining facility renovation project, Fry added. The academic building will supply classrooms and laboratories, fulfilling a constant goal of the University administration. It is still unclear which departments would get to use the space. And realizing another constant administration goal, the new facilities will provide more retail and restaurant options. The proposed parking garage will offer over twice as many spaces as the existing lot and Shannon said it will also represent "better management of the demand for parking on campus." The amount of parking available on campus has long been considered inadequate. Another large parking garage is being erected on top of a new grocery store at 40th and Walnut streets. Revenues from the parking garage and rents collected from the residential and retail spaces will pay for the residential facility's construction, but the University will cover expenses for the academic building. Shannon echoed Fry's predictions about developing the eastern side of campus in the future, noting that in the area there are "a number of vacant sites [that could] accommodate growth."

GUEST COLUMNIST: Going to the chapel of love

(08/05/99 9:00am)

I love weddings. Yes, I know I'm sentimental and feminine, but a good old-fashioned white wedding tugs on my heart strings every time. I'll even make a slightly embarrassing confession: I watch "The Wedding Show" on Lifetime. I sit glued to the screen watching the mini-documentaries, which chronicle the romances and weddings for couples of every race and religion. The really poignant episodes -- like one about a hearing-impaired couple that signed their vows to each other -- move me to tears. Generally, I watch the show like I'm some kind of marital expert. I keep a running commentary on the wedding dress, decorations and flowers. Nothing escapes my eagle eye and my biting criticisms. My mother says I already have ridiculously high expectations for my own wedding. Let's see: I want the ceremony in a Cathedral with a string quartet and a pipe organ playing throughout. I'm going to glide up the aisle in a form fitting white silk dress with a five foot train. The groom will eagerly wait for me in tails with my Tiffany ring in readiness. My hundreds of guests will then sip champagne at the reception -- in a five-star hotel complete waiters serving a four course dinner and a professional jazz band. Now I ask you, is it so wrong for a girl to want a perfect wedding day? Needless to say, despite my elaborate wedding aspirations, I have no plans to marry in the near future. Or even the slightly further away future. For me, the idea of marriage and kids and "settling down" seems eons away. This is probably why I have such romantic notions about weddings -- they are just daydreams or fairytales. I always thought my generation shared my feelings about marriage. This complacency was recently shattered. Last December, my best friend Sarah called me. "Guess what I got for Christmas?" she squealed. "A fur coat?" I asked. "No, I got a rock! Robin and I are engaged." I weakly congratulated her while I tried to remember who Robin was. Was he the artist with severe acne problems? Maybe he was the drugged up pseudo poet? Ever since seventh grade, Sarah has had a different boyfriend every two months. Each one becomes the new love of her life and I have been known to get them confused. It turned out that Robin was an aspiring actor/musician she had met at school. She went on and on about how great he was. I wasn't listening very well, though. I kept telling myself it couldn't be true. My best friend of 12 years couldn't be engaged to be married. I keep trying to picture Sarah saying, "til death do us part." Every time, I then pictured myself dragging her out of the church and escaping to freedom on a Greyhound, like in The Graduate. I was sure she would soon call it off, that she would see what a ridiculous idea marriage is at 20. But now, six months later, she's still wearing the diamond and they are planning next summer's wedding. Hell, I'm even a bridesmaid. Why does this upset me so much? I should be happy for her. I met Robin recently and he seems like a nice enough guy. He did wear bright orange pants and a fisherman's hat for three days in a row, but we all have our little problems. Honestly, there's no logical reason for my shock and agitation. But it's there. I keep thinking about how Sarah and I used to go trick or treating dressed up as witches (we were so scary) and how we spent hours listening to New Kids on the Block tapes. I remember endless bike rides around our neighborhood and how we used to chase the ice cream truck down the street. In high school, we did our geometry homework together and had sleepovers every weekend, eating french fries and watching bad Molly Ringwald movies. And now, after our inseparable childhood, Sarah is embarking on something that I can't begin to understand or appreciate. She's going to stand up and pledge to spend her life with someone else. Her life. I've never been close enough to someone to take a vacation with them, let alone agree to stay with them until I die. I'm the queen of brief unsuccessful relationships. I've never really loved anyone. Yet while I cope with messy break-ups and struggle through awkward dates, Sarah has somehow found Mr. Right. And they've made a very adult decision -- marriage. She's becoming a grownup. Why doesn't she want to stay an irresponsible, commitment-phobic college kid like me? I guess what scares me is that this is only the beginning. As I get older, more and more of my friends may make "grownup decisions" about their careers, life goals or even relationships. I guess I may have to make a couple myself. I just hope I'm not picking out a trousseau anytime soon. While I'm adjusting to this onslaught of maturity and adulthood, I'm also bracing myself for her wedding. If I cry watching total strangers get married on TV, then I'm going to be a wreck at the first wedding of one of my friends. Still, I've told Sarah only one thing would keep me from seeing her tie the knot -- Laura Ashley floral bridesmaid dresses Because you never know; there may be some cute groomsmen there.

GUEST COLUMNIST: Just a girl in the working world

(07/08/99 9:00am)

I was propositioned at work the other day. A scruffy guy in his mid twenties leaned towards me and asked if I would care to spend the evening with him and a bottle of Jack Daniels. "I don't like being a third wheel," I told him. Now the really funny thing is that this incident was nothing out of the ordinary. Perfect strangers hit on me at work constantly and after I give them virtually no encouragement. Where do I work, you're probably asking yourself. Am I employed by a bar or a nightclub, do I maybe entertain as a showgirl? And the answer to all of the above is no, no and (honestly) no. I work as a barrista in a suburban coffee shop. I make espresso and cappuccino and serve brownies. Yet somehow, a very motley crew of gentleman have responded rather over zealously to my charms after I give them their change and say, "enjoy." I have made one very hard and fast rule at this job : Never mix work and pleasure. Although, in my case, it's less of an actual rule and more of a survival tactic. As I look back upon my work experiences I realize that over time I really have collected quite a special group of people. I hardly know where to begin -- all of the former potential suitors just pop into my head so vividly. There was a middle aged university professor with one leg. He happened to overhear that I'm an English major and kept offering to give me classic novels. He thought we would really enjoy "talking" about great authors. I kept running away to hide whenever I heard him wheel in. Then there was a slightly younger but equally bizarre conspiracy-theory type. One day he told me that the aspartame in diet soda was really a government mind control agent. He was convinced the government had secret plans to bomb major American cities for suppposed "population control reasons." He kindly asked if I would care to join him in his hideout in the Grainbelt. I was forced to turn down his very attractive offer. Fortunately, this winner also believed that FBI agents were hot on his tracks because he knew too much top secret information. He eventually left town. The list scrolls on and on. I also became acquainted with a high school sophomore who fancied himself as an opera singer. His idea of talking me up was to come in and begin a discourse on Mozart or Brahms. Not that I don't enjoy good music. But please, I never ever want to hear prepubescent boys serenade me with arias from Don Giovanni. Now, I don't want to give you the impression that I hate men. I really don't. In fact, I'm a big fan of men; usually I like them a lot. A whole lot. But clearly fraternizing with my customers is never going to take me to a happy place. And I'm not a militant feminist either. I don't want to drone on about the objectification of women in our society and how women are treated like second-hand citizens. My status as a feminist (although I did attend Gloria Steinem's talk) is admittedly a little vague. I think songmasters Rogers and Hemmerstein put it best in their song, "I enjoy being a girl." I do. I like wearing make up and pink miniskirts. I love having my hair done and watching Gone With the Wind. And I definitely enjoy male attention. I like it when doors are held open for me and heavy objects are carried by stronger arms. So if I actually appreciate male attention, why do I dislike my working environment? Well, I gave the question some thought while I painted my toenails this morning and I've come up with two reasons. The first: While at work I'm very busy serving customers and making drinks. And I'm mildly accident prone so if someone is bothering me I'm likely to burn myself or break something. And since I've already broken more mugs than I care to admit, I don't think I need any more detrimental distractions. And the second reason is far more selfish and far more important. Frankly the other reason I don't like the attention I receive at work is because all the men are, well, to put it kindly, a little bit different. Bluntly put, they're very, very odd -- possibly not human. For example, in addition to others, there is a Rob Zombie look alike that has been lurking around the shop recently. He really gives me the creeps. Maybe I sound unkind and shallow, but the reality is that good looking young guys just don't sit in coffee shops and drink cafe mocha's -- unless they're drinking them with their girlfriends. So I think I'm going to stick to my date-free workplace rule. I'll just start hanging out in the sporting goods store up the street during my breaks.

GUEST COLUMNIST: Unexpected change is difficult to accept

(06/17/99 9:00am)

My grandparents sold their house this week. Granny and Grandad live on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland, in an area where the houses don't have numbers, only names inscribed on the gates. Rockhurst had been their home for almost 30 years. Rockhurst is a large one-story house with shiny hardwood floors and rooms a few steps above or below each other. Oil paintings, Waterford crystal and large bookshelves decorate the house. Two large mosaics frame the entryway, given to my grandfather when he retired. The house always held a certain mystery for me. It wasn't like anything I'd seen before or since. As a little girl, visiting was always both exciting and frightening. I loved looking at the old family photos, the toys and books my dad used to own, but these interests were tinged with the worry that I might break an ornament or play with something I shouldn't. I was always slightly on edge throughout my visits. While I'm not frightened to visit Rockhurst anymore, the unusual house that my grandfather renovated and my grandmother decorated still excites me. And whenever I think of my extended family, I see them there. We have a whole series of group photos taken at Rockhurst, at passing glance very similar, but slightly changed from year to year by my brother's growth spurt or my cousin's new short hair. As my grandparents grew older, their isolated country house proved to be a mixed blessing. Rockhurst has been robbed countless times -- almost all of my grandmother's jewelry has been taken. Once, when I was seven or eight, the house was broken into while my mother and I sat alone in the back garden. My grandparent's response to these robberies was to install a home alarm. It terrifies me, but it hasn't prevented further robberies. That wasn't enough to convince my grandparents to sell the house that had served for years as a backdrop to family gatherings. But now, too many years have passed and my Granny and Grandad cannot stay in their home for much longer. Grandad has been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for years. The last time I saw him, he was in the early stages of the disease. We didn't know that he had Alzheimer's at the time. We just thought he was getting old. Grandad always wanted to be in control of things. For a while, he kept trying to take charge of situations, but eventually he didn't really know what was going on. Now, he's grown child-like and docile. He recently was moved into a new home in which he can receive the constant care and attention he needs. I haven't seen my Grandad for three years. One of the greatest tragedies of immigrating is the helplessness you feel when situations like this arise thousands of miles away. There is virtually nothing I can do. I can't even see what is happening first hand. I can only imagine. I keep trying to picture him in a nursing home and failing. In my eyes he sits in his armchair by the window sternly reading the newspaper, with Granny coming in and out offering him cups of tea. The last time I saw Grandad was in a coffee shop in Dublin. I was in the city for a week with my best friend and I told my grandparents we just couldn't make it out to Rockhurst to have dinner with them. I feel guilty every time I think of it. But more than guilt, I feel regret. I thought of Rockhurst as a constant. "I'll do that some other time," I said to myself, and three years later I'll never be able to recapture the opportunity. Who knows when I'll be in Ireland again or what will have happened by then? I've been spoiled, really. All four of my grandparents are alive and despite the distance between us, I have been able to spend time with all of them. I realize how lucky I am. I just wish I could have said that to Grandad the last time I saw him sitting in his chair.

Three schools look to find new deans

(06/01/99 9:00am)

Radnor High School '97 Radnor, Pa. Come September, the incoming Class of 2003 may not be the only ones trying to find their way around campus -- a few fresh faces should be joining the University administration as well. And with three search committees conducting rigorous searches since last November, the University hopes to have the three new deans in place by this fall. The committees -- composed of administrators, faculty and students -- have been advertising the positions nationally and seeking out possible candidates at peer institutions. After reviewing and interviewing the candidates, committee members will present a list of the top three to five to University President Judith Rodin and Provost Robert Barchi, Penn's chief academic officer. After five months, the search committee to find a new Wharton dean is currently at work trying to narrow the current pool of six candidates down to three or four. Committee Chairperson and Dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts Gary Hack said the position will hopefully be filled by the time outgoing Dean Thomas Gerrity steps down from his position on July 1. Hack noted that the role demands a leader with a background in both business and academia. Under Gerrity's leadership, new academic programs were developed and Wharton's endowment tripled to almost $300 million. But after nine years on the job, the 57-year-old Gerrity decided to take on the role of a Management professor, which will enable him to spend more time with his family. Law Dean Colin Diver -- who has held the position for 10 years -- will also step down in July. The search committee charged with finding Diver's replacement is currently narrowing down a "very short list" of candidates to the requisite three to five, according to committee chairperson and Wharton Undergraduate Dean Richard Herring. Herring said that "with luck" the University may be able to acquire a new dean by the time Diver leaves. During his tenure, Diver, 54, has increased the faculty by one third, expanded facilities and support services and raised over $100 million for the school's activities and endowment. He plans to remain at Penn as a professor and researcher in the Law School. Former Engineering Dean Gregory Farrington announced his resignation in May 1998 in order to assume the presidency of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Chemical Engineering Professor Eduardo Glandt has been serving as interim dean since last July. A search committee has been seeking out a permanent replacement for Farrington since last November. While officials said the committee would like to fill the position quickly, they do not have a set deadline. Under Farrington, who had taught at Penn since 1979 and then served as dean beginning in 1990, applications to the school increased by 60 percent, four new master's programs were created and the size of the endowment tripled. Penn has a history of long searches for top academic appointments. It took more than a year for Barchi to be appointed after the resignation of his predecessor, Stanley Chodorow, in October 1997. And in December 1997, Samuel Preston was appointed dean of the School of Arts and Sciences after a nearly 1 1/2-year search.

Rodin reports on U. budget

(05/14/99 9:00am)

University President Judith Rodin released her report on the budget for Fiscal Year 1999 to University Council this month, outlining Penn's academic budget expenditures from the past year. The University spent a total of $2.871 billion dollars in Fiscal Year 1999, of which $1.284 billion was used in the academic budget, divided among Penn's 12 undergraduate and graduate schools, administrative offices and facilities services. The total operating budget increased by about 4.6 percent from last year's $2.745 billion budget. The academic budget accounts for 45 percent of the total operating budget. The other $1.6 billion is allocated to the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Vice President for Finance Kathy Engebretson noted that while tuition and fees remain the largest source of revenue for the academic budget -- representing 34 percent of the funding -- outside research grants, from sources such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, now account for 30 percent of the total. Engebretson said research funding has increased dramatically over the past few years. Penn received $414 million in outside research funding for Fiscal Year 1998, a 14 percent increase over the previous year. Bernard Lentz, the director of Penn's Institute of Research and Analysis, said that he expects to see another research increase "in the excess of 10 percent" for FY99. While the growth in research funding increases the overall budget, the money only goes toward designated research projects. It does not support various financial needs, including capital planning or financial aid, which are funded primarily by tuition and fees, and more minimally by endowment and individual gift money. Penn draws 7 percent of the budget from its $3.02 billion endowment, which stands as the 12th largest in the nation. But although the endowment appears to be large, Rodin noted that the endowment per student figure needs improvement. As of last June, Penn had $155,941 per student in its endowment, while Princeton University recorded a significantly higher $875,321 per student endowment figure. The small per capita figure necessitates that Penn lags behind its peer institutions in contributing endowment money to financial aid. Engebretson said that limited tuition funding makes gifts and grants important contributors to capital planning and campus projects. Gifts account for 5 percent of the budget. "We definitely have good inclination to get as many gifts and grants as possible," Engebretson said. The bulk of the budget expenditures -- 71 percent -- is divided between the individual schools, with the Medical School receiving 34 percent of that amount; the School of Arts and Sciences 22 percent; the Wharton School 16 percent and the School of Engineering and Applied Science 6 percent of the available money. The University's other schools receive lesser amounts of the budget. Engebretson said the budget breakdown for the next fiscal year will likely look similar. "You'll hardly see any differences," she said.

U. plans ctr. for brain research

(05/14/99 9:00am)

After spending the academic year reviewing the developing scientific field of cognitive neuroscience, a faculty committee submitted a proposal to University President Judith Rodin calling for the creation of a Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. One of the fastest-growing fields in modern science, cognitive neuroscience brings together several disciplines -- including psychology, neurology and biology -- to study the physical basis of the human mind. And the faculty committee -- created by Rodin under the Agenda for Excellence, her long-term campus master plan, and chaired by Provost Robert Barchi -- recommends that Penn establish a center for the new interdisciplinary field. The proposed inter-school, inter-departmental center would develop a group of core neuroscience faculty members, acquire resources and scientific equipment -- such as tools for brain imaging -- and bring together faculty from a number of different departments. The center will promote interdisciplinary study among faculty and students in a number of different schools, departments, institutes and programs, and is likely to house the undergraduate major Biological Basis of Behavior, the David Mahoney Institute for Neurological Sciences and the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science. Barchi -- who was chairperson of the Medical School's Department of Neurology and Neuroscience before taking over as provost -- said he would like to see a "virtual center" established within the next few months and that in the fall officials will begin recruiting new faculty from both within Penn and from peer institutions. He said the center -- which would incorporate faculty and students from the Bioengineering, Neurology, Neuroscience, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Psychology, Radiology and Rehabilitation Medicine departments -- would not obtain a permanent home for four or five years. Barchi declined to estimate how much it would cost to develop the center over the upcoming years, though funds will be needed to pay new faculty members, acquire equipment and eventually fund a site. In the long run, he added, the center will not prove a strain on Penn's budget. Barchi explained that fundraising for the Agenda will cover some of the costs and the University will also fundraise specifically for this project. Barchi also noted that while research centers require initial capital to get up and running, they usually receive significant funding and grants from outside sources, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Barchi explained that cognitive neuroscience is a "hot area educationally," adding that over the past 20 years "there has been an evolution of new technology to look at the brain." Several other universities -- including Harvard, Columbia and Cornell universities -- have announced similar plans to hire cognitive neuroscience faculty and construct facilities for the growing field. Barchi acknowledged that there will be "aggressive competition" between schools for faculty and resources, but he said Penn will "make sure we're at the forefront." Committee member and Neurology Professor Mark D'Esposito said he is excited about the interdisciplinary nature of the center. "[Cognitive neuroscience] draws on different types of people from different backgrounds, all at one common goal," he said.

U. outsources Dining Services to Bon Appetit

(05/14/99 9:00am)

The plan to have the outside firm run Dining will result in some U. employees losing their jobs. University officials said last week that Penn Dining Services will be outsourced to the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Bon Appetit Management Co., effective July 1. The move to outsource Dining will terminate 20 positions -- including the managers of the dining halls -- within the department. Officials said the decision was made to increase the quality of food , not to cut costs. Officials stressed that although the 20 Dining employees will be jobless on June 10, they will be able to reapply to Bon Appetit for a position within the new management structure. Executive Vice President John Fry said he anticipates that "a good number" of those employees will procure jobs through Bon Appetit, but he declined to estimate a number. Only three dining services managers -- Managing Director of Campus Dining Peg Lacey, her executive assistant Pam Lampitt and Meal Contract Coordinator Adam Sherr -- are assured of keeping their jobs. The move is the latest major outsourcing deal that the University has entered into in the past two years. In 1997, Penn announced plans to outsource most of its facilities management operation to the Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co., a highly controversial decision that affected about 160 employees, about 120 of whom were rehired. That deal was estimated to save the University about $15 million a year in facilities management costs. The University has also recently outsourced the Faculty Club and part of its benefits administration department. Bon Appetit will provide tuition and benefits packages to all Dining employees similar to what they have received from the University, according to Associate Vice President for Campus Services Larry Moneta. "We worked with Bon Appetit's benefits plan and Bon Appetit will extend tuition [benefits] to Penn employees for 10 years," Moneta said. Officials refused to comment on the financial aspects of the deal, including how much Penn is paying Bon Appetit to take over Dining Services. Bon Appetit Chief Executive Officer Fedele Bauccio said the company has typically seen an 8 to 10 percent participation increase while managing dining services at other institutions. He attributed the statistic to improved food and customer service. "We are very good as a company at listening to students," Bauccio said. "We believe students are our customers and if students want us to go here on a menu and variety standpoint, we'll do that." He said there will be an emphasis placed on "restaurant-oriented" cooking, with fresh ingredients and more diverse menus. He also noted that Bon Appetit will try to customize the various dining halls according to student requests. Bauccio said Penn has made some progress in Dining Services over the past year but now it is time to "step up" services. "Everything we're going to do this summer is to re-institute a whole fresh food program," Bauccio said. "You won't see food sitting on the line for hours." Moneta explained that the new-and-improved food options will compliment the overall renovations to dining facilities. All four dining halls will be renovated at a cost of approximately $15 million over the next five years. The move to outsource comes after a year filled with sweeping changes made to Dining Services, beginning last spring after a lengthy review process. Bon Appetit signed on last March to serve as the University's primary caterer and to advise Penn on Dining restructuring. The company also signed a deal to operate all food service facilities in the Perelman Quadrangle, the $69 million student center located in the heart of campus scheduled to debut next year. But a year into the partnership, Fry explained that "we didn't feel the food was getting any better." He added that officials felt Bon Appetit should assume full control of Dining in order to significantly improve the quality of the food product. Moneta said the decision extends the existing partnership with Bon Appetit. He also explained that the decision did not necessitate an extensive consultation process with the University community, because "consultation was part of the process a year ago." "We always left open where we'd take the partnership," Moneta said. Fry noted that the outsourcing was not a financially motivated decision. "We cover all of this in our operating budget," he said. Moneta said the University could see a reduction in costs through the increased use of fresh ingredients and that Penn hopes to ultimately pull in more money by selling a greater number of meal contracts. Currently, the University sells approximately 6,000 meal contracts per year and under the new deal, Penn will continue to run the meal contracts internally. As changes to Dining were made over the past year, Penn decided to consolidate the dining, catering and food retail operations under a single food services administrator. Last September, the University tapped Lacey to serve as the chief dining official. Lacey will work closely with Bon Appetit liaison Lin Johnson to oversee the developing dining services, Moneta said. Founded in 1987, Bon Appetit's annual revenue is about $150 million. The firm currently operates food services at several institutions in California, including Stanford University and several Silicon Valley corporate cafeterias. The University had also considered contracting with the Philadelphia-based Aramark Co. last year, when it signed its first agreement with Bon Appetit.