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Street to announce stadium locations

(05/03/00 9:00am)

It's a big week for Mayor John Street. After several years of much-contested negotiations, deliberations and site tours, the mayor has promised to announce the location for the construction of two new sports stadiums by the end of the week. No matter which of the seven possible sites the mayor chooses, city officials say Street's decision will have a substantial economic effect on the stadium's new neighborhood. The Philadelphia City Council promised to approve a stadium deal by this fall so that a new stadium for the Phillies can open in April 2003. According to Street spokesman Ray Jones, the mayor ideally wants the Phillies' new home to be in Center City. The Eagles already have a plan for a new facility near Veterans Stadium in South Philadelphia. "He prefers a Center City site," Jones said. "He thinks you can get the best bang for a dollar down there." But while Street favors a downtown location, many Center City residents have continually protested living next door to a sports center. And it remains to be seen whether the city can afford to build a downtown stadium. According to Penn Public Policy Professor Ted Hershberg, if cost were not a factor in the decision-making process, it would be a "no-brainer" to locate both stadiums in Center City. "A downtown site will be much better for the city's health economically," he explained. "The psyche of the whole city fits together much better if you have a downtown site." Philadelphia Councilman Frank Diciccio, whose district encompasses five of the seven possible sites, said it's still too soon to tell where the mayor might locate the stadiums. He said the city should position the construction "wherever we can get the best economic development." "And where that is, the jury is still out on that," he added. But Diciccio said that it would make sense to put the stadiums in Center City, where they would be closest to commercial areas. And Tom Muldoon, president of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that for the hospitality and tourism industries, locating the stadiums in Center City is virtually the only viable option. Muldoon predicted that other downtown attractions would see a rise in attendance if stadiums are built in the vicinity. "You get a coupling of activities," he explained. "Bringing attendance into stadiums downtown is 3 million people. That's a lot of money that can be shaken out of people's pockets."

Pressure applied to some WRC schools

(05/03/00 9:00am)

Nike has withdrawn funds from schools that have joined the WRC. University of Michigan officials are learning that sometimes it isn't easy to do what they think is right. Early this year, student protesters staged a sit-in to pressure Michigan -- the top collegiate clothing manufacturer in the nation -- to join the Worker Rights Consortium to monitor the production of school logo apparel. In February, the school agreed to join the the WRC. But then last Thursday, Nike announced that it was ending negotiations on the renewal of a six-year multi-million dollar contract with the university, citing the school's decision to join the WRC as the cause of the termination. And after this incident and other attacks from the corporate world, some of the approximately 45 member schools in the WRC are suggesting that the organization consider a greater relationship with the apparel industry. But while certain schools have pushed for a better relationship --which could include putting corporate representatives on the WRC governing board -- the organization has no plans just now to take these steps, which are what student activists say differentiate it from the more established Fair Labor Association. WRC spokeswoman Maria Roeper said that under no circumstances would the organization allow industry representatives on its governing board, fearing they might adjust the high standards that the WRC claims to uphold. "They shouldn't have decision making power," Roeper said. "That would undermine the concept of an independent organization." Still, if the WRC sticks to its current make-up of collegiate and human rights groups, companies may continue to express their frustration. Nike officials explained that, by joining the WRC, Michigan had substantially altered the draft agreement that the company and school had negotiated several months before, saying in a statement that the two were no longer "on the same page." Michigan spokesman Joel Seguine said that Michigan is standing firm in its commitment to the WRC. "This comes along, and it's another hit," he explained. "But we're standing on principle." Nike's current agreement with the school, which ends August 31, provides Michigan with sports uniforms and equipment for men's and women's varsity teams. This contract is valued at $7 million, university officials said. And on Friday, Michigan President Lee Bollinger announced the one-time transfer of $3 million from his discretionary fund to the athletic department to help cover the shortfall introduced by the potential loss of Nike funding. Nike's decision to end negotiations with Michigan comes just after Nike President Phil Knight withdrew his informal pledge to donate $30 million to the University of Oregon, his alma mater, to help finance a new football stadium. Oregon joined the WRC in early April. In March, Nike moved to end an agreement to provide hockey equipment to Brown University after the school -- also a new member of the WRC -- tried to renegotiate its contract in accordance with the monitoring organization. Nike officials said the WRC is asking apparel manufacturers to comply with impossibly high standards, but that the company agrees with the overall goal of the monitoring organization -- to secure workers' rights. "It's about possibly subjecting our company to standards that neither we, nor our competitors or even the University of Michigan and its vendors can honestly adhere to," Morris said.

McInerney, Kuklick win Abrams Award for classroom work

(04/26/00 9:00am)

History Professor Bruce Kuklick and Classical Studies Professor Jeremy McInerney were both named this year's recipients of the Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching, the highest teaching award given by the School of Arts and Sciences. Kuklick, the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor in American History, has been teaching American history at Penn for 28 years. "I'm very much honored by SAS in getting this award," Kuklick said. "I think I do a competent job teaching, but I never thought of myself as doing anything outstanding." Kuklick characterized his teaching style as flamboyant, adding that he uses dramatic presentations to convey important points. "What you really teach, in some respects, is yourself," he explained. McInerney was out of the country yesterday and could not be reached for comment. According to Classical Studies Department Chair Ralph Rosen, the professor -- who came to Penn into 1992 and received tenure just two years ago -- largely focuses on ethnic identity in ancient Greece, ancient inscriptions and archaeology. "He's just an amazing professor," Rosen said. "He has very high standards [for students] and still manages to have students adore him." Rosen also commended McInerney's polished and dynamic lecturing style. In a similar vein, History Department Chairwoman Lynn Lees commended the decision to give the award to Kuklick. "I have heard for years students praise his classes," she said. "He has extraordinary range as a teacher and extraordinary commitment." Lees said she thought Kuklick drew his strength as a teacher both from his expertise in a variety of areas and his excitement about studying history. "He brings an enormous passion for history, along with an ability to relate part of individual experience with large historical trends, to class," she explained, calling him a "dynamic teacher." "He teaches all over the map and he does it superbly. I was absolutely delighted when I learned he received the award," she continued. The award, now in its 16th year, is given to one or two faculty members annually. Last year, Psychology Professor Robert Rescorla received the Ira Abrams Award. English Professor Vicki Mahaffey and Math Professor Frank Warner -- both still teaching at Penn -- were the first recipients of the award in 1983. According to College Dean Richard Beeman, a committee of four or five faculty members determined this year's award recipients. He added that "students have significant input in the nomination process." Beeman also emphasized that SAS introduced three new awards to recognize undergraduate teaching this year. "The school is making a considerable effort to highlight the importance of excellent teaching and to award it with high visibility," he explained.

Campaign funds rule Senate race

(04/21/00 9:00am)

Challenger Ron Klink's lack of funds could limit his future campaigning. For Congressman Ron Klink, victory in the Democratic senatorial primary cost a lot. So much, in fact, that Klink had to mortgage his home to finance his television campaign ads. After beating out five other candidates in April's primary, Klink must face off against incumbent Rick Santorum in a run for the conservative senator's seat in the United States Senate. And according to Santorum's spokesman Rob Traynham, the freshman senator has $3.7 million in cash on hand to finance his campaign. But J.J. Balaban, spokesman for Klink's campaign, said Klink currently has less than half a million in campaign funds. And the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday that Klink only had $119,162 in funds at the end of March. "That's not unexpected at the end of a heated primary," Balaban explained. Klink may have managed to come out ahead of his toughest challengers, State Senator Allyson Schwartz and former State Secretary of Labor and Agriculture Tom Foley, but Balaban said the primary race cost the campaign around $1.5 million. And with Santorum expecting to raise $12 million, Klink has a lot of catching up to do. "We said that we would have enough money in the primary, and we did," Balaban said, maintaining that Klink will raise enough to run a successful campaign. But Political Science Professor Henry Teune said that Klink is facing an uphill battle in securing the finances necessary to take on Santorum. "The only way he can [fundraise] well is by presenting himself as a candidate that can win," Teune explained. "And how does he do that? By having money -- which he doesn't." "He might be in deep trouble," he added. Balaban said that Klink has already received significant financial offers from several senators and the president, and expressed optimism that unity among the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania would help the congressman's bid. "We have a united party, and that helps," Balaban said. Don Cockler, spokesman for the Democratic State Committee of Pennsylvania, said that while the group remains committed to helping Klink to victory in November's election, it too is limited in terms of funding. "Every chance we get, he'll be one of the spotlighted candidates," Cockler said. "But we have to help all the candidates any way we can. Money's always a limited resource." Balaban said that the congressman and his campaign continues to remain optimistic, noting that the other candidates in April's primary have already endorsed Klink. He also said that much of the money spent in the primary went towards name recognition, which should be helpful in November's general election. Teune, however, said he thinks Klink faces a tough race against Santorum in the next few months, explaining that both candidates share similar stances on a lot of issues, which could work against Klink. Additionally, Teune noted that popular Republican Gov. Tom Ridge -- widely considered to be a top potential running mate for George W. Bush -- could give support to Santorum that could prove to be very helpful. "Ridge can get the big Republicans, and he's going to back Santorum," Teune said. "He can activate the Republican organization and get out the vote."

Incoming freshmen to read Kafka

(04/20/00 9:00am)

Members of the Class of 2004 will read 'Metamorphosis' for the Penn Reading Project. Imagine falling asleep and waking up a giant insect. For the Class of 2004, this will be their first official Penn assignment. Marking the 10th year of the Penn Reading Project, incoming freshmen will read Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis -- the chronicle of Gregor Samsa, a young man who wakes to discover he has been transformed into a giant vermin. The program assigns all freshmen a single text to read before arriving on campus, and students are then divided into small groups to discuss the reading during New Student Orientation. "For these students, PRP represents their introduction to intellectual life at the University and to the engagement with faculty which they will experience throughout their years at Penn," Associate Director of College Houses and Academic Services David Fox explained in an e-mail statement. The Metamorphosis, published in 1915, tracks Samsa as he struggles with the new identity his transformation introduces. Fox -- who sat on the committee that selected the book -- said that the work was chosen because it touched on themes that were especially relevant to students entering college today. He called the book an "important document about the development of a kind of modern consciousness." "Those just seem to be the kinds of themes to talk about," he said, adding that the book was also a good selection because of its interdisciplinary nature and broad appeal. "The students who haven't read it before will be introduced to a remarkable work, and the students who have read it already will see how a research institution can bring remarkable new insight," Fox added. He also said that the committee would design other events related to the book, such as lectures and symposia. "The whole community is excited for the possibility of events surrounding the book," he explained. Kafka's book was selected by a committee -- chaired by Deputy Provost Peter Conn -- that included faculty representatives from all four undergraduate schools and one student member. According to Fox, The Metamorphosis was chosen from a final list of four books, including A Prayer for the City, an account of former Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell's first term in office written by Penn graduate and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger. Although the details as to how students will receive the book are uncertain, Fox said that the books would most likely be mailed to freshmen during the summer. Last year, incoming freshmen read Copenhagen, a play by Michael Frayn that examines a meeting between key figures in the race to build the atomic bomb during World War II. Students have also read Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Gary Wills' Lincoln at Gettysburg in past years of the Penn Reading Project.

McCain works to lure young voters

(04/17/00 9:00am)

Although he entered to the lighthearted tune of the Dave Matthews Band's "Ants Marching," Arizona Sen. John McCain took on a more serious tone on Friday when he addressed almost 500 Gen-Xers. The former Republican presidential candidate spoke on a variety of topics -- including his pet issue, campaign finance reform -- at the Penn Tower Hotel Friday morning, kicking off the We the People 2000 convention. The national convention featured a weekend of events designed to work against the stereotype of young voter apathy by teaching adults aged 18 to 35 how to get politically involved -- an issue McCain confronted immediately during his speech. "I care because you are the future of America," McCain said to the approximately 500 delegates gathered in Philadelphia for the convention. The senator, who has become one of the most popular politicians in the country since his unexpectedly strong challenge to Texas Gov. George W. Bush for the Republican presidential nomination, noted that only a small percentage of 18- to 35-year-olds voted in the 1996 presidential election. He expressed his disappointment in the inability of American government to captivate young people. "That shames me as a person who believes that public service is the noblest of all professions," he said. McCain spent about 20 minutes telling those assembled about his motivations for running for the Republican nomination for president, his experiences on the campaign trail and his own political beliefs. "We started a campaign based on reform," he explained. "The gateway to [reform], my friends, is campaign finance reform." Then McCain opened the floor for the remaining 45 minutes to questions from the audience. McCain was asked to tackle questions about everything from legalizing marijuana to health care reform to immigration policy. Delegates also inquired about the senator's future political plans, including whether he would buck the GOP. "The Republican Party is my home," McCain said when asked whether he would run for president on the independent ticket. "We fought an honest fight and I'm proud of it." Finally, McCain addressed his possible endorsement of Bush, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. McCain said he would wait until a scheduled May 9 meeting with the governor to make a final decision, although he indicated he would most likely come out with strong support for Bush. The We the People 2000 convention, sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Responsibility and Social Trust, attracted about 500 people in the 18-to-35 age range for three days of speeches, community service events and political workshops. On Friday, after McCain spoke, delegates attended theme sessions on American government. The afternoon seminars were followed by an evening speech by Jason Nastke, the 20-year-old mayor of Valatie, N.Y. Nastke was introduced to delegates by University President Judith Rodin. Saturday was devoted to more workshops, but also featured the presentation of the Generational Action Plan -- a document that has been the work-in-progress of FIRST conventions for three years -- designed to give young people ideas for how to become more politically active in their communities. Capping off the weekend, the delegates -- who represented 40 of the 50 states -- attended a series of strategy workshops.

After 100 days in office, Street sees mixed results

(04/13/00 9:00am)

On a cold January morning last winter, Philadelphia Mayor John Street was sworn into office. And the next day, the new mayor sat down and wrote a promise to Philadelphians. He pledged to use his first hundred days in office to address 20 pressing issues -- focusing largely on education and neighborhood blight. Yesterday marked the official end of those first hundred days, beginning a detailed evaluation of Street's performance by local officials, citizens and scholars alike. While Street has done much to fulfill nearly all of the 20 goals set in his broad-stroked, aggressive 100-day plan, some outsiders argue that the new mayor's leadership style isn't well suited for the city of Philadelphia. 100 Day Plan The new mayor had tough shoes to fill, following the overwhelmingly popular two-term mayor Ed Rendell. While Rendell is credited with revitalizing the downtown area, Street's first 100 days in office have instead been characterized by a strict allegiance to the needs of neighborhoods. "He's certainly shown a greater friendliness to the neighborhoods than was seen in the Rendell administration," City Councilman David Cohen said. And Ira Harkavy, director of Penn's Center for Community Partnerships, added that he has seen "the sense of hope and possibility" Street has instilled in area neighborhoods. As part of his hundred-day promise, Street kicked off a plan over a week ago to tow 40,000 abandoned cars in Philadelphia in a 40-day period. Continuing with his neighborhood efforts, Street also unveiled a comprehensive set of initiatives this week to reduce crime -- including a lawsuit against the top handgun makers. "His effort to make this kind of difference throughout the city should be lauded," Harkavy said. After proclaiming the year 2000 to be the Year of the Child, Street has been developing a plan to address the fiscal instability of the school district -- but it is not finished. And, as promised, the mayor has held and attended town and education cluster meetings in all of the 10 City Council districts. "The work that he's done sends the message that he cares about the entire city," Penn Public Policy and History Professor Theodore Hershberg said. In all, Street has made progress on most of his 20 pledges, although one task is still glaringly undone -- filling all the currently empty posts in his administration. Managing Philadelphia But filling these positions, some say, will present Street's greatest challenge. Already Street has very publically dismissed two people, firing his former Communications Director Ken Snyder and ousting Alred Testa, former airport director. On these controversial administrative actions, Cohen said Street has shown he can be a tough, decisive mayor who is "used to making decisions all by himself." "The mayor's got to learn that government is a cooperative activity," he continued, stressing the importance of Street's dealings with City Council. Street generated the reputation of being difficult and highly inflammatory during his time on City Council, noted Cohen, who worked on council with Street for all 19 of those years. But the mayor's deputy communications director, Ray Jones, emphasized that Street has simply done what he deemed necessary to run the government. "The mayor is a hands-on mayor," Jones said. "He's done what he needed to do to get the job done." With three significant positions --the commerce commissioner, the streets department commissioner and the public property commissioner -- left open in his administration, the mayor continues to face the task of building a complete administration. Looking forward With the first hundred days past, Street must continue to move forward to achieve his goals. Cohen said he thinks the mayor needs to do more in the area of education, adding that he is worried that Street is going to be unable to resolve the school district's impending fiscal crisis. "He's got to deal with the schools," Cohen explained. Jones said education remains a top priority for Street, adding that the mayor will do his part in fixing the schools. "The mayor will do all he can do, and then it's up to Harrisburg," he added. Hershberg said that the mayor also faces the challenge of "evening the fiscal playing field" -- referring to the problem of taxes. But overall, Hershberg said he felt Street has proven his ability to lead the city. "I would not underestimate his ability," he said. "He's got the combination of intelligence and guts -- that's important."

Sen. McCain headed for Phila.

(04/12/00 9:00am)

The Arizona senator will talk Friday as part of a program encouraging youth to vote. After losing the race for the Republican presidential nomination, it might seem that John McCain would stop campaigning. Yet on Friday, the Arizona senator will be stopping in Philadelphia to encourage young people to get involved in the political process and vote in the upcoming presidential election. McCain will kick off the We the Future 2000 national convention -- sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Responsibility and Social Trust -- at noon. The event, which will be held at One Liberty Place, is free to Penn students with valid identification. The specific topic of McCain's speech is not yet known, FIRST Associate Director Melinda Scott said last night. The former presidential candidate will also attend several other events in the Philadelphia area on Friday evening. Continuing the weekend's activities, University President Judith Rodin will introduce Jason Nastke -- the 20-year-old mayor of Valatie, N.Y. -- to audiences at the Penn Tower Hotel on Friday night. The three-day convention is designed to let people in the 18-to-35 age range "come together to discuss what issues are important to them and present them to the presidential candidates," Scott said. She added that the presumptive presidential nominees, Al Gore and George W. Bush, were invited to attend the event but are sending campaign representatives instead. People from both campaigns will face off in a debate on Saturday afternoon at Drexel University. The event is open to students. Approximately 1,000 delegates from across the nation -- who can register to attend the convention online -- are expected to travel to Philadelphia for the convention this weekend. On Saturday, Chuck D of the rap group Public Enemy will address delegates about the importance of First Amendment rights, and Marian Wright Edelman, president of Children's Defense Fund, will also speak. Delegates will spend Sunday attending skill-building workshops on topics such as grass roots organizing, lobbying, handling the media and running for office in their home town. Scott said the idea was to give delegates "action they can take in their own communities? to make a positive impact." FIRST was developed in 1995 when current president John Smith, a Philadelphia-area lawyer, wrote a newspaper column "calling for a bill of responsibilities to match the bill of rights," Scott said. "The basic idea is that not only is it your right to vote, but it's your responsibility," she added. FIRST has hosted dozens of regional conferences in the past several years in an effort to re-engage young adults in the political process. This weekend's convention marks the third national convention FIRST has hosted. At the convention, delegates will put the finishing touches on a Generational Action Plan -- a three-year-old document that has passed from convention to convention -- designed to give young people ideas for how to become more politically active in their own communities. The final version of GAP will be presented to delegates on Sunday night.

Alcohol monitoring to be in force at Fling

(04/12/00 9:00am)

Police will be present at all Fling events to minimize underage drinking this weekend. For most Penn students, the phrase "Spring Fling" is synonymous with alcohol -- and lots of it. But the University Police will join forces with the state Liquor Control Enforcement bureau this weekend to combat the underage drinking that has historically characterized the annual event. University Police Chief Maureen Rush said that, similar to last year, numerous Penn Police, Philadelphia police and LCE agents will be present throughout the weekend's activities to minimize underage drinking. "We're working on a protocol with the college house system, and we'll be using Spectaguards," she said. Rush added that the LCE is expected Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and the agency will be using the University Police headquarters on Chestnut Street as a base of operations. "[The LCE] is looking for underage drinkers, establishments serving underage drinkers and houses serving underage drinkers," Rush said. "We help [the LCE] in any way we can." LCE officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. Unlike last year -- when there was a ban on alcohol at most on-campus undergraduate parties following an alcohol-related death -- University security officers are not conducting mandatory searches for alcohol in students' bags at all dormitory entrances. According to University Police Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Fink, security guards will only check "suspicious" packages to ensure underage students aren't bringing alcohol into dorms. However, from Thursday until Saturday, no alcohol -- regardless of whether the student is of legal drinking age -- will be permitted into the Quadrangle, Hill College House or Hill Field. For Fling events in the Quad, no beverage containers will be permitted to be brought into the area. Any individual bringing alcohol into one of the other college houses may be required to show identification for proof of age. University officials emphasize that the current alcohol policy will be strictly enforced throughout the weekend, adding that University Police will give citations to those found with alcohol at Fling events. Last year, only 16 students were cited by the University Police and the LCE for violating University policy or state law -- down significantly from the 180 students cited in 1996. Cited students must either plead not guilty at a hearing, risking a large fine, or pay $100 to attend a three-hour alcohol awareness class on Saturdays. And students who receive citations will lose their driver's licenses for 90 days, regardless of which state issued the license.