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Gore, Bush make pit stops in Phila.

(04/05/00 9:00am)

The two presidential hopefuls focused on November's elections. With their presidential campaigns in full swing, Al Gore and George W. Bush both made quick campaign stops in Philadelphia yesterday. Victories in recent primaries have already assured them of their party's nomination, but Pennsylvania's status as a crucial swing state in November means the candidates are keeping a constant eye on the Keystone State. Gore met with a group of 80 local residents -- largely consisting of senior citizens -- in a South Philadelphia community center yesterday morning to discuss revamping Social Security to enhance benefits for women. "Social Security is a lifeline for millions of American women, but there are ways in which Social Security treats women unfairly," Gore said yesterday. He announced he wants to make "modest but crucial changes in our Social Security system that will make it fairer for women." Meanwhile, Bush held an education roundtable with local Latino leaders in the Philadelphia suburb of Abington. The Texas governor largely focused his education-based discussion on returning control of schools to the local level. The talk followed his announcement of new literacy and teacher aid programs last week. Although the two candidates were miles apart, they still managed to exchange heated attacks. "If [Bush] gets his hands on America's retirement system, it will quickly become a system of social insecurity," the vice president said yesterday. Gore announced during his talk that if he is elected in November, he would push to help stay-at-home parents -- most of whom are women -- receive Social Security credit for up to five years of work while they raise their children. Because many women often leave the workforce to raise children, Gore said the Social Security status quo penalizes women. He added that his plan will increase benefits to women by about $600 each year, emphasizing the important role stay-at-home parents play in their children's lives. "Anybody who's [raised children] knows what hard work that is," Gore said. "We should honor it, and we should respect it." Gore also proposed giving widows increased Social Security payments upon their husbands' death. Currently, a widow's payment can be more than halved when her husband dies. The vice president also continually attacked Bush's five-year proposed plan to cut $483 billion in taxes, calling it a "risky tax scheme." From across town, Bush threw criticism right back at Gore. "I can't think of a better reform than allowing women to manage their own personal savings account, particularly younger workers in our society," Bush said in a statement released after his talk. "It's going to be an important debate in the campaign for president," he continued. "It's the status quo in the administration that does not reform Social Security -- versus an administration that will put capital on the line? to make sure that Social Security is available in the long run." Recent Gallup polls indicate that the vice president and Texas governor are running neck and neck, with 46 percent of likely voters favoring Bush and 45 percent supporting Gore.

The Pennsylvanian Primaries: Klink wins Pa. Senate primary

(04/05/00 9:00am)

The Democratic congressman will ry to knock off Sen. Rick Santorum in November. U.S. Rep. Ron Klink (D) walked away from yesterday's Pennsylvania senatorial primary a clear winner, giving him the chance to take on freshman Sen. Rick Santorum (R) for his seat on Capital Hill this November. Klink's victory, clinched late last night, put an end to the hotly contested six-way race for the Democratic nod to run for Senate. With 99 percent of the precincts reporting, Klink's 41 percent of the vote easily beat out State Sen. Allyson Schwartz and former state secretary of labor and agriculture Tom Foley, who experts labeled his toughest challengers. Schwartz and Foley garnered 26 and 25 percent of the vote, respectively. And Philadelphia-area attorneys Murray Levin, Phil Berg and Bob Rovner together accounted for 8 percent of the vote. The bid for the Democratic nomination was the most carefully followed race of this year's state primaries. In the race for state attorney general -- the only other statewide competition -- Philadelphia lawyer Jim Eisenhower led Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli by a 51 to 49 percent margin late last night. Although victories in recent primaries have already secured party nominations for both presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush, yesterday's voters still voted for their party's favored presidential candidates. Gore received 74 percent of the Democratic vote, while 73 percent of Republicans cast a ballot in favor of Bush, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Election officials reported a low turnout at the polls yesterday, as experts predicted prior to the race. Philadelphia's Deputy City Commissioner Ed Schulgen attributed the traditionally light turnout to the fact that "much of the ballyhoos have been taken out of the presidential race." Klink -- a conservative Democrat who hails from a suburb of Pittsburgh -- received strong support from western Pennsylvania, especially in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh. The Philadelphia area largely came out in support for Schwartz, a Philadelphia resident. Political analysts had largely avoided picking a favorite for yesterday's senatorial race, though Klink, Foley and Schwartz were the agreed-upon frontrunners. Political Science Professor Harry Teune said last week that Klink could be a "sleeper" of a candidate -- meaning he could come out and take an unexpectedly large victory in the primary, as was seen yesterday. Klink has largely been recognized as the most conservative of the six senatorial candidates, touting a pro-life stance. His policy towards gun control has also been labeled by experts as more conservative than that of Schwartz or Foley. Currently in his fourth term as a congressman, Klink has spent much of his campaign focusing on issues surrounding health care. But officials aren't predicting that Klink will be too successful in taking on the incumbent Santorum in November. According to Teune, Klink lacks the financial backing and name recognition needed to win a race of this magnitude. As of March 15, Santorum had already raised $6 million for his campaign. And Pennsylvanians have not elected a Democratic senator to a full term in office since the early 1960s.

Election 2000, The Pennsylvania Primaries: Pennsylvanians head to polls

(04/04/00 9:00am)

Six Democratic hopefuls will vie today for the chance to challenge incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum. With the presidential primary races long over, today's Pennsylvania primary might have been nothing more than a formality. But among the various national and local elections on the ballot, the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Rick Santorum has clearly emerged as a rough-and-tumble match worth watching. The six candidates vying for the nomination have spent months preparing for today's elections. They've canvassed from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. They've debated each other endlessly. They've sought every endorsement they can think to find. And when today's results are tallied, the field of six Democrats competing to take on the Republican incumbent will be narrowed down to one survivor. According to Political Science Professor Henry Teune, whoever receives the go-ahead from today's primary is in for a rough ride. "This is no walk for any Democrat," he explained. "Santorum's going to be hard to beat." State Senator Allyson Schwartz, U.S. Rep. Ron Klink and former state Secretary of Labor and Industry Tom Foley have emerged as the leading contenders for the nomination. In the tradition of state primaries, many are predicting that few voters will make it to the polls tomorrow, thereby making it virtually impossible for political analysts to pick a winner from among the contenders. "The election depends on who is going to turn out at the polls," Bruce Caswell, chairman of the Political Science Department at Rowan University in New Jersey, said last night. "And in this primary, where there will be such low turnout, there's no real clue as to who will win." The frontrunners The race's three leading contenders -- Schwartz, Foley and Klink -- are no strangers to holding public office. Klink is currently serving his fourth term as a U.S. congressman for Pennsylvania's 4th District. Schwartz is in her third term as a state senator for Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. And in 1991, Foley became the youngest politician to serve as the state secretary for labor and industry. With this sort of experience behind each of them, the three candidates are trying to distinguish themselves by what they've done in government. Schwartz, an unabashed liberal who worked in health and human services for 20 years before turning to politics, has come to the forefront for her work in education and health care. As Democratic chair of the state Senate Education Committee, Schwartz has championed early childhood initiatives and statewide academic standards. But Foley -- who won national honors for increasing opportunities for minorities and women in the state Labor Department -- has also identified health care and education, as well as Social Security, as his top issues. The former professor and scholar of Irish history has advocated increased prescription drug coverage and a patient's bill of rights. Klink has also focused his campaign largely on education and health care. According to spokesman J.J. Balaban, Klink has "been talking more about health care than any other issue in this campaign." As a result, the congressman has spent his terms trying to expand health care coverage for children and secure a patient's bill of rights. Emotional appeal Since state officials are anticipating a low voter turnout today, each of the six candidates have been emphasizing the issues they think will have the greatest impact on mobilizing voters. And, Teune said, the candidates have repeatedly turned towards two hot items on the democratic agenda: gun safety and abortion. "It's turning into a race to see who's more pro-abortion," he noted. "In an election like this, you've got to activate the Democratic faithful [by] appeal[ing] to emotional issues." In opposition to conservative Santorum's staunch pro-life stance, five of the six Democratic nominees have identified themselves as pro-choice. Klink remains the sole pro-life Democrat, though his spokesman was quick to add that "being a pro-life Democrat in Pennsylvania isn't that odd." Schwartz spokeswoman Eulalia Brooks claimed that the state senator's track record on the issue reflects her commitment to the pro-choice camp. "She started the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center, a model for many women's health centers," Brooks said. "She's been endorsed by every major pro-choice organization." However, to Foley and lawyers Bob Rovner and Murray Levin, abortion is simply a medical matter -- with no place for government. The sixth candidate, Phil Berg, could not be reached for comment. Like their stances on abortion, nearly all the candidates have emerged in distinct opposition to Santorum's stance against further gun control laws. Many of the six Democrats have declared their allegiance to what Levin calls "common-sense gun-safety measures," like child safety locks. University of Maryland Government and Politics Professor Paul Herrnson said it takes precisely these kind of inflammatory issues to mobilize voters in smaller elections like state primaries. "People who participate in primaries tend to be more ideologically extreme," he explained. "Sometimes that's what it takes to get people to the polls." Geographic struggle But today's election won't be decided simply by issues. According to Penn Public Policy and History Professor Theodore Hershberg, recent polls indicate that support for the three major candidates largely coincides with their area of residence. "There's a big geographic divide," Hershberg said. "There's been such limited media and visibility on this my sense is people will follow geography." "I'm not sure any of the issues emerged strong enough to differentiate the major candidates," he added. With Schwartz hailing from Philadelphia and Klink claiming residence in Pittsburgh, Teune said the race could turn into a face-off between the state's urban poles. Caswell agreed, adding that Western Pennsylvania historically votes at a higher rate than other areas of the state -- which could work to the advantage of Klink. "It really depends on which parts of the state come out tomorrow," Caswell said. Organizational battle Yet regardless of the issues -- or of a candidate's place of residence --Teune claims that today's race will eventually come down to each candidate's endorsements. "It's an organizational thing," he explained. "Endorsements will help. What these groups can deliver in votes is key." Philadelphia Mayor John Street gave Schwartz his endorsement in late February, calling her "the MVP for Pennsylvania's children and families." "She's a real strong supporter of public education," Street's spokeswoman Barbara Grant explained. "And, importantly, the mayor thinks she can beat Santorum in the fall." This endorsement, Teune said, may prove to be crucial. "Street's guys can deliver votes," Teune said of the mayor's endorsement. "That'll help Schwartz." Klink, too, has received dozens of endorsements, including several from U.S. congressmen. Foley received a significant boost when The Philadelphia Inquirer handed him their endorsement. And the state's labor groups remain largely split between Foley and Klink. "It's all split. It's so evenly split," Caswell said, noting that the even distribution of endorsements render many ineffective. "With endorsements we're only talking thousands of votes," he explained. "Of course, in this primary, with low voter turnout, thousands of votes might make a big difference," he continued. The real challenge Although today will mark the end of the race for five of the candidates, today's victor will only be starting the real work. Most experts predict that the conservative Santorum will be an especially hard candidate for a Democrat to defeat. Teune notes that Santorum is in "way better shape financially" than any of the Democratic candidates. But to Caswell, the Democrats will probably not win because they aren't strong enough candidates. "They're all very weak," he explained, although he also said that Santorum himself isn't that strong of a candidate. "Only about 15 percent of incumbents lose," he continued. "You just can't beat a weak incumbent with a weak challenger."

Not a DisneyQuest world after all: Plans for complex collapse

(04/04/00 9:00am)

DisneyQuest turned out to be a Mickey Mouse operation after all. Philadelphia Mayor John Street announced on Friday that the two-year-old plan to bring the $167 million DisneyQuest entertainment center to an amusement complex at Eighth and Market streets is "dead." "The deal as it was originally envisioned can't go forward," Barbara Grant, Street's spokeswoman, said yesterday. However, she added that although the original deal fell through, another plan could be negotiated. "There is still an opportunity to have a DisneyQuest at that location -- they just have to start over from scratch," she explained. DisneyQuest -- a high tech entertainment center meant to bring the Disney experience to Philadelphia through computer animation and virtual reality -- was originally intended to be the lead tenant in a 420,000-square-foot development on Eighth and Market streets that the city expected to help rejuvenate the downtown area. But the mayor said the Center City development had failed to attract what he called a "critical mass" of restaurants, stores and retail centers to support DisneyQuest and fill the rest of the complex. Consequently, he said, DisneyQuest officials didn't feel they had the financial backing necessary to sustain the project. A deal with United Artists to construct a multi-screen theater in the same complex also fell apart. Former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell had announced plans to bring the entertainment center to Philadelphia in December 1998. The project was originally expected to open in time for the Republican National Convention this summer. Officials had hoped the five-story attraction would draw approximately one million visitors a year. While Street said in January that the city might allocate $35 million in funds to support the project, Grant said yesterday that the city ultimately couldn't justify making such an investment. Disney was expected to spend up to $80 million in building the attraction. Grant also said that construction on a similar entertainment complex planned for the Penn's Landing site along the Delaware River has been delayed. The Penn's Landing development -- a conglomeration of shops, restaurants and entertainment centers similar to the complex at Eighth and Market -- was originally projected to open in 2000. But Simon Property Group Inc. -- the developer of the project -- has already missed its projected deadline to start construction and officials are now estimating that the complex won't open until 2002. Simon Property Group spokeswoman Billie Scott said the company now anticipates construction will not begin until this summer, attributing the delay to the complexity of planning such a large development. "It's an extremely complex process," Scott explained. "While everyone always has a best guess for the timetable, there are things that need to fall into place." Scott added that about three quarters of funding for the center have been secured, as have several crucial retail centers. New York-based toy retailer FAO Schwarz announced plans last fall to open a flagship store at the Penn's Landing site. Jillions, a chain restaurant and bar, also has indicated that they will open in the Penn's Landing complex.

Philadelphia rolls out the red carpet

(03/30/00 10:00am)

A variety of events are on tap around the city to complement the Final Four. This weekend, Philadelphia is expecting a few visitors. About 40,000, in fact. With the 2000 NCAA Women's Final Four taking place at the First Union Center this weekend, officials are busy preparing the City of Brotherly Love for the thousands of basketball fans anticipated to attend -- and getting ready to reap the rewards the tournament will bring to the city. "This has literally been about a six-year process," Philadelphia Sports Congress Executive Director Larry Needles said. "To bring an event of this magnitude is truly a city-wide effort." Philadelphia Women's Basketball 2000, a local organizing committee, has been working closely with the Philadelphia Sports Congress and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau to schedule a week of activities related to the Final Four and women's basketball as a whole. The Final Four games themselves, to be played Friday and Sunday nights, are sold out, but there are a host of events over the next four days that are open to the public. Today's first public event is an open practice and autograph session at the First Union Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring all the Final Four teams -- Connecticut, Penn State, Rutgers and Tennessee. Across the street at the First Union Spectrum, the U.S. women's national team will play a Hungarian club team tonight at 7 p.m. The rest of the weekend will be filled with basketball clinics for children aged 10-18 and a variety of fan-oriented events at the Convention Center. "This is a way of creating a women's basketball week in Philadelphia," PWB spokeswoman Laura Loro said. "It's a great opportunity to showcase the city and women's basketball together." To give visitors a good impression of Philadelphia, Danielle Cohn, the spokeswoman for Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that her organization has prepared transportation, special signs and welcome booths to help visitors navigate the city. In conjunction with the Philadelphia Sports Congress, the group has developed a shuttle system to transport coaches and visitors from events to hotels, games and airports. The routes will also be used to transport the large contingent of media members expected to cover the event. Cohn said she expected that those in town for the tournament will make full use of Philadelphia's tourist and historical attractions. The Philadelphia Sports Congress estimated that the economic benefit to the city from the Final Four will be approximately $25 million. This figure includes expenditures on hotels, restaurants and transportation. "People want to see the staple items of the city just as much as they want to explore the new," she said. "It's our job to make sure people are well-informed about what's going on throughout the city." Cohn said several welcome booths -- which will be manned by employees of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and by volunteers -- will be placed in the airport and in several hotels to help visitors get to and from the weekend's activities.

Blight removal in full swing

(03/29/00 10:00am)

Mayor John Street unveiled a plan to remove the 40,000 vehicles currently abandoned on city streets. Philadelphia Mayor John Street kicked off his city-wide abandoned vehicle removal program yesterday by hitching a decrepit car to a tow truck, climbing behind the wheel and driving it out of North Philadelphia. Responding to a backlog of 40,000 abandoned vehicles reported to the Philadelphia Police Department, Street announced that the city will tow 1,000 of the vehicles each day for a 40-day period. Following Street's speech, State Transportation Secretary Bradley Mallory outlined steps the Pennsylvania government will take to further the initiative by revising the state's procedures for towing cars. Street, who has made neighborhood blight removal a top priority for his administration, had promised to remove abandoned vehicles from city streets during his inaugural address. "We intend to remove every single one of these abandoned cars," he said yesterday. "If we can't remove abandoned cars from neighborhoods, then we don't have a very bright future as a community." Dozens of community members, state representatives and City Council members turned out for Street's announcement at the North Philadelphia Ramonita Negron-Rivera Recreation and Community Center. Per the mayor's plan, the PPD will assign all current abandoned vehicles officers to a newly created centralized unit, which was established to organize the task of towing the city's deserted cars. "This move will place the responsibility for towing abandoned vehicles under one centralized command, promoting efficiency and effectiveness," the mayor explained. The program, which will begin April 3, encourages citizens to call a new hotline number to report abandoned vehicles. Private salvors will also be permitted to move the abandoned vehicles, with $15 per vehicle offered as an incentive to do so. Street had no definitive figure regarding the financial costs the removal will incur for the city, and did not release any cost estimates. However, he reaffirmed his commitment to the project no matter what the cost. "We're going to go from the problem to the money, not from the money to the problem," he said yesterday. "Although we're always concerned with money, we're not going to get caught up in it. It's too important." To support the city's effort, Mallory read a letter from Lt. Gov. Mark Schweiker to Street, promising help in this initiative. "These heaps of steel impact the health and safety of our citizens and are indeed a quality-of-life issue that our residents should not be expected to tolerate," Schweiker wrote. In the letter, Schweiker explained that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will aid in the effort by changing the specifics regulating which cars may be towed. City officials expect this will help remove approximately 40 percent of Philadelphia's abandoned cars. Street also said he met with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge last month to help outline several other initiatives the state will develop to help in this process of blight-removal. Among other things, PennDOT will work to make its staff more available to process abandoned car claims, and a full-time PennDOT liason will be assigned to Philadelphia. Members of the North Philadelphia community -- the site of yesterday's announcement -- remain optimistic about the impact the plan will have on their neighborhood. Jimmy Martinez, an area resident, said he hoped the mayor's program would free up space to devote to children. "We want to see if the mayor can help us take care of an abandoned lot nearby and make a playground and cultural center out of it," Martinez said. "We really want to make the area safe for children to go."

Convention preparations gather steam

(03/28/00 10:00am)

Penn and Philadelphia are getting ready for this summer's Republican National Convention. As the Republican National Convention rapidly approaches, the City of Brotherly Love is getting ready to welcome an anticipated 45,000 visitors. With the convention scheduled to run from July 29 to August 4, GOP Convention Committee spokesman Tom Fitzpatrick said preparations for the event will soon kick into high gear. "We're really starting to branch out and expand," he explained. "Until now, our planning had really been based on working out the nuts and bolts." Hosting the convention, Fitzpatrick said, is expected to generate approximately $125 million in direct revenue for Philadelphia, and another $200 million in ancillary benefits. "But the biggest prize in bringing a national political convention to a city is the publicity and national media attention you get," he said. Penn officials said they too are excited about the national publicity the convention will bring to the University. "Because there's going to be so many media included, that's going to be a priority for the University," Executive Director of the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol de Fries explained. "This is a prime opportunity to showcase the University to these media." The University is offering dormitory and meeting facilities to the convention committee. According to de Fries, 1,500 Penn dorm rooms will be contracted for use by different groups attending the convention. Fitzpatrick said the planning committee's recent undertakings have largely focused on developing transportation for visitors and outfitting the First Union Center -- the site of this summer's convention -- for the 15,000 members of the media expected to arrive in July. The convention committee recently outlined plans for a shuttle service of 150 vehicles to transport visitors to dozens of destinations, including hotels and tourist sites along 21 routes. And with all the major news networks planning to attend, Fitzpatrick said the coordinating committee will build 350,000 square feet of temporary office space outside the First Union Center and convert about 60 of the building's skyboxes into broadcast studios. "We're basically creating a 26-story office building with furniture, air conditioning and wiring," he said. The convention committee will take full possession of the First Union Center on June 17 to start the construction necessary to prepare the facilities for the event. City officials estimated last fall that hosting the event will cost $50 million, a third of which will come from the local and state governments of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The remaining cost will be paid by private companies. But Philadelphia needs to be ready for more than Republican delegates and members of the national press. Already anticipating protests during the convention, police announced plans last Thursday to allocate areas of Roosevelt Park for demonstrators. Sue Schwenderman, spokeswoman for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said approximately 18,000 volunteers are being recruited in a program called "Make the Convention Connection" to run errands, staff welcome booths and help the press during the event. "Within one month of announcing the volunteer jobs, we had 9,000 people signed up," Schwenderman said. "That's a strong indication of the high level of enthusiasm for the event." Penn students are among those being recruited to volunteer. De Fries said students will have access to "everything from the mundane to the very plush, sexy volunteer opportunities."

Census coming to mailbox near you

(03/27/00 10:00am)

The census data will be used to provide a count of citizens in the U.S. This month, Uncle Sam's looking for some answers. And by law, everyone in America must supply them. As mandated by the Constitution, this year the members of nearly every household in the United States will receive a simple questionnaire asking about their lives. The Census -- conducted every 10 years -- aims to provide the government both with aggregate data about Americans as a whole and a complete count of every citizen in the United States. "Census figures affect our lives in just about as many ways as you can imagine," explained Judy Antipin, spokeswoman for the Regional Census Center for Philadelphia. "They're used to distribute literally billions of dollars in state and federal money to communities every year." By April 1, every household in the United States is required to return the census forms that have been arriving in American mailboxes for the past several weeks. While students living off campus should fill out and return their forms like the average household, Partnership Coordinator for the Regional Census Center Lyn Kirshenbaum said dormitories and on-campus housing are enumerated as "special places," leading to a slightly different census-taking process. "A contact person and census liaison, appointed in each dorm, will hand them out to residents and collect them later on to return to the Census Bureau," Kirshenbaum said. As a result, students living on campus will not receive census forms in their mailboxes. Census forms should be available in dorms sometime in early April, past the deadline for mail-in questionnaires. Antipin also emphasized that Penn students need to identify themselves as residents of Philadelphia regardless of what they consider as their hometown. "It's important students do this because they're using services in the community where they're living, and it's important for these communities to get their fair share of resources," she said. "That's something that students often don't realize." Kirshenbaum added that there is a "huge undercount of students in the city where they're living." Five out of six American households will receive a short seven-question form asking, among other things, about the age, name, sex, race and possibility of Latino origin of every household resident. The remaining one-sixth of households will instead fill out a longer, 34- question form asking for detailed information about things like family income and educational level. A random process selects whether a household will receive the longer or shorter form. While the data will largely be used by the government to help allocate funds, Antipin also said that businesses use aggregate data about a community to help guide decisions about investing in that area. "It tells you about the workforce, and helps tell you whether your business will do well there," she explained. This year, Antipin said, the government launched the first-ever paid advertising campaign to encourage households to fill out and return the forms. She noted that census advertisements have been shown during the Oprah show and the Super Bowl. "This in an advertising campaign geared towards all kinds of special populations," Antipin said. Minorities are being especially targeted, she added, with advertisements running on Latino and Korean television channels. "Minority populations are among the groups that have historically been undercounted in previous censuses," she explained. Also for the first time, the form will be available in six languages other than English to help recent immigrants or those unfamiliar with English fill out the census form.

State politicians get ready for primaries

(03/24/00 10:00am)

Six Senate hopefuls are vying for heDemocratic nomination on April 4. With the major presidential candidates already set, state primaries are no longer headlining the evening news. In Pennsylvania, however, primary season is far from over. On April 4, hundreds of candidates will be vying for smaller offices ranging from United States senator to representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Though the Pennsylvanian primary probably will not attract national attention, state officials maintain the primary's importance lies in the effect it will have on state politics. "This election is not just about the top of the ticket. It's about the delegations in the convention and it's about local officials," Pennsylvania Republican State Committee spokeswoman Lauren Cotter Brobson explained. And according to Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee spokeswoman Sandi Vito, the race where votes will count the most will likely be the six-way Democratic struggle to challenge Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. The six candidates have turned out in an effort to oust the conservative Santorum, who was swept into office in the 1994 Republican electoral landslide. With the focus in Pennsylvania on the race for the Senate, Political Science Professor Henry Teune thinks the true contest lies not among all six Democrats but among three key candidates: State Sen. Allison Schwartz, former state secretary of labor and industry Tom Foley and U.S. Rep. Ron Klink. "This is going to have to be an organizational fight," Teune said, explaining that endorsements of the different candidates are going to be crucial in swaying voters this April. Despite the fact that Philadelphia Mayor John Street recently endorsed Schwartz, the only woman in the race, Teune said her close ties with her predominately Democratic hometown of Philadelphia will work against her in the primary. The Democratic candidates will be on campus on Wednesday for a debate sponsored by the College Democrats. But despite the local focus on the senatorial race, the Pennsylvania primary will not be entirely irrelevant to presumptive presidential nominees Al Gore and George W. Bush. According to state spokeswoman Stephanie Rimer, this primary differs from most years not only because presidential candidates appear on the ballot, but because it gives voters the opportunity to nominate delegates to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions this summer. "Pennsylvania is a state that is a must win for either part in the fall," Brobson said. "The primary is a good indication of what voter turnout might be in the fall." However, with the presidential nominations basically decided, Teune predicted voter turnout April 4 will be low, estimating that no more than 25 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot come primary day. "There's no real attraction," he noted. "Most of the voters don't know who these people are." Furthermore, he added, the national parties will be concentrating little attention on Pennsylvania after the recent victories of Gore and Bush. But Vito, Brobson and Rimer all contend that the upcoming primary is important regardless of the degree of national resonance, citing the primary as an early opportunity for Pennsylvania residents to make their voices heard.

Penn prepares for end of modem pool

(03/21/00 10:00am)

The University arranged deals for service with two commercial ISPs. Officials yesterday released plans for moving Penn's off-campus Internet users from the soon-to-be discontinued modem pool to commercial service providers. The modem pool has provided free on-line access since 1986. But with new, faster technology available in the private sector, officials decided to discontinue the pool by mid-2002. So starting in July, users will be charged to dial into the service and will be encouraged to switch to a commercial Internet service provider. "Our modem pool is obsolete," Vice Provost for Information Services and Computing Jim O'Donnell said yesterday. "It's too slow, and it's too small and it's getting slower and smaller by the day." On July 1, the approximately 15,000 dial-up users -- predominately students, faculty and staff who live off campus -- can choose between continuing to use the modem pool for $13 a month, or use a commercial provider. ISC officials have negotiated preferred relationships with DCANet and Bell Atlantic, two commercial ISPs, to provide services to students for $12.95 per month. The private ISPs will provide students with a 56 kbps connection, which is significantly faster than the 33.6 kbps dial-up offered by the Penn modem pool. Additionally, the private ISPs will give students unlimited use of dial-up services, while the University dial-up pool terminates the connection after one hour of use. "Our recommendation is that if you want quality of service, you go with one of the $12.95 service providers," O'Donnell said. He estimated that the technological advantages of the commercial ISPs will prompt students to change from the Penn service to the private sector within the next two years at the rate of approximately 3,000 users per six months. "It's a pain to make the changeover, but at some point people are going to sit down and look at it and realize they can get better, faster service for the same amount of money," O'Donnell added. To make sure DCANet and Bell Atlantic are providing users with quality services, ISC will run a pilot program with 180 users in April. With this service, the University will pay a user's ISP fees for the first three months provided that the user provides detailed and specific evaluations of the commercial service. "We want to make sure the commercial providers are doing a good job," O'Donnell said. "That's a way to make sure real Penn people are getting the quality of service necessary for Penn purposes." O'Donnell said running the modem pool costs the University around $1 million each year. And to update the 33.6 kbps service to 56 kbps -- the current speed of commercial ISPs -- would cost the University an additional million dollars. While users will be charged for the basic dial-up use of the modem pool, a smaller "express pool," where users can dial in for 15 minutes, will remain free. That way, O'Donnell said, students will be able to quickly check their e-mail without being charged. "We're not doing this for the money," he explained. "We're doing this so users can get the technology they need at Penn."

UA eyes increased minority membership

(03/07/00 10:00am)

Departing from the proceedings of traditional Undergraduate Assembly meetings, the UA on Sunday night held a special program with more than a dozen United Minorities Council members to discuss community service and minority representation in student government. The UA and UMC combined forces in Logan Hall and broke up into small groups -- each with two UMC members and four representatives from the UA -- to tackle how the groups can together address student government representatives and community service initiatives. "The UA does not represent accurately the school. We don't have enough minority representation," UA Chairman Michael Silver, a College senior, told the roughly 40 students assembled for last night's meeting. He added that the small groups should "start talking about how these organizations can pool their resources." After spending nearly an hour brainstorming, discussing and debating different initiatives the UA and UMC could put forth, the small groups came back together to pool their ideas. Among the proposed community service projects for the two organizations were culturally infused service initiatives, mentoring the student governments of local high schools and working together for Habitat for Humanity. But the students also spent time addressing how to recruit minority students to run for the UA and, once those students decide to run, how to help get them elected. The small groups suggested that the UA educate UMC constituent groups about different candidates that directly pertain to their interests, hold more UA and UMC joint meetings and co-sponsor more events. "Even when minorities run, they don't get elected. We don't know why that is," Wharton and Engineering sophomore and UA member Michael Krouse said last night to his small group. He added that the election of the next UA this spring may generate more voters -- including minority students -- because students will be able to access ballots electronically through Penn InTouch. UMC members echoed the need for undergraduates, minority or not, to understand the impact of the UA on student life. "We have to extend the idea that this is something that will affect you," College junior and UMC member Kevin Chan said last night. After the special session with the UMC, the UA returned to its traditional agenda. The group passed a $1,500 budget request for Change for Change, a project that will provide students with small plastic cups to collect spare change and, at the end of the year, pool it with other members of their college house, fraternity or sorority. The change collected will be donated to Upward Bound, a program to help Philadelphia high school students gain admission to four-year colleges and universities. The UA also passed a resolution supporting a new funding plan for Student Health Services that will prevent students insured by Penn Student Health Insurance from having to pay a Clinical Fee twice, as the current plan mandates.

Groups hope to add to U.'s political awareness

(03/01/00 10:00am)

A voter registration drive is being held all week long on Locust Walk. It's not unusual to find Locust Walk littered with brightly colored quarter sheets of paper, remnants of student groups trying to attract their peers to their cause. But this week, the quarter-sheets aren't about a party on Friday night or an a cappella performance. Instead, they're about politics. With the deadline for registering to vote in the April 5 Pennsylvania presidential primary fast approaching, political groups this week are supporting each of the four major candidates as part of Voter Awareness Week. "Our impetus for doing this was that students at Penn are extremely intelligent, extremely involved," Voter Awareness Week co-chair Beth Harkavy said. "But there seems to be a lack of political involvement. Students can have a big impact on the issues if they get out and vote." So throughout the week, Penn for Bush, Penn for Gore, Penn for McCain and Penn for Bradley will join forces with the College Democrats and the College Republicans to register voters from Penn's student body. Six tables with voter registration forms greet students and faculty as they rush down Locust Walk to class, to meetings and to the library. According to Harkavy, the goal of voter awareness week is to help get Penn students registered to vote in the state primaries. "This is a week where we're focusing on education and awareness on campus," the College junior said. And the Penn groups supporting different presidential candidates see this as a perfect opportunity to get the word out on the candidate of their choice. Consequently, the groups decided to hold "Issue Days" on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, with each group issuing quarter-sheets on the stance of their candidate of choice on a particular issue. Yesterday, students learned about the views of Bill Bradley, John McCain, Al Gore and George W. Bush on education. Today, each candidate's opinion on the state of the American economy will be discussed. And tomorrow has been dubbed "health day," giving the four groups a chance to advertise the candidates' take on health care, Medicare and Medicaid. "Those three issues really highlight the candidates' differences," said College sophomore Matthew Oresman, the co-chair of the Penn for Bradley group. But Friday, known as "free issue day," gives the four organizations a chance to highlight their candidate's platform on a subject of their choosing. As part of the effort, the College Democrats also hosted several senatorial candidates vying for the Democratic bid in an informal discussion and the College Republicans invited any politically inclined Penn students to a relaxed movie and dinner discussion last night. According to Penn for Bush co-chair Patrick Ruffini, what is unique about this week is the non-partisan foundation that is underlying the different groups' efforts. "People may not realize that if you want to vote in the primary, the deadline is fast approaching," the College senior said. "That's the whole point of what we're doing." Oresman echoed his sentiment, adding that a lot of students are "really looking for a candidate" before they cast their ballot. But overall, Ruffini thought Voter Awareness Week was living up to its goals -- getting Penn students involved in politics. "Some people come up and argue with us, some people come over and help," Ruffini explained last night. "It's achieved its goal, bit by bit, every day on the Walk. It's given everyone a chance to gradually build up their membership base."

Cmte. releases sweatshop report

(03/01/00 10:00am)

The report recommends Penn hold off on joining a monitoring group until certain conditions are met. The Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor released its full report to University President Judith Rodin yesterday, including both a proposed code of conduct for University-logo apparel and a recommendation to evaluate the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association before joining either. The report identifies the lack of university representation on the two organizations' governing boards as the committee's prime concern and recommends that Penn only sign on with the FLA or the WRC or both if the groups resolve this concern. "The current representation of colleges and universities on the governing boards of the FLA and the WRC is unacceptable," the report stated. "Institutions of higher education are at the forefront of the movement and must have a voice that is balanced with those of other groups on the governing boards of the FLA and the WRC." The committee's report comes several weeks after members of Penn Students Against Sweatshops launched a nine day sit-in at College Hall, which culminated with the University withdrawing its membership from the FLA. The report recommends that the University join either the WRC or the FLA only if they agree to augment the university representation on their governing boards. The committee began meeting February 10, reviewing materials and listening to presentations from both groups before presenting this unanimous report to Rodin on Monday. "I expect to respond to the committee's recommendation on monitoring organizations shortly," Rodin said in a statement Monday night. PSAS members have repeatedly demanded that the University withdraw from the FLA -- which they contend is biased and inefficient because of its close ties with the garment industry -- and join the fledgling WRC instead. Anti-sweatshop and human rights activists claim that the WRC provides better safeguards for workers' rights. The WRC only possesses the membership of a handful of colleges and universities, while over 130 schools belong to the FLA. But the recent decision of three Big 10 schools to join the WRC generated increased publicity and funding for the new group. Penn student anti-sweatshop activists continue to request that the University abstain from re-joining the FLA and become a member of the WRC instead. "We still believe that the FLA is not an adequate organization," College junior and PSAS member Miriam Joffe-Block said last night. But Joffe-Block was pleased that the committee's report agreed with three of PSAS' main concerns with the FLA's policies on public disclosure, factory certification and independent monitoring. According to Joffe-Block, the WRC currently has greater university representation than the FLA does, addressing the committee's chief concern. She noted that the WRC allocates six of its 12 seats on the governing board to university students and administrators, while the FLA only delegates one of its 14 seats to university representatives. Also included in the committee's report is a proposed Code of Workplace Conduct for Penn apparel licensees, outlining policies manufacturers should abide by in the production of Penn-logo apparel. The code outlines a range of human rights standards and enforcement procedures. Among the recommendations are establishing a living wage at factories, a minimum employment age of 15 and the right for employees to collectively bargain with unions of their choice. "The goals of this code are to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment and to assert that Penn expects its licensees to conduct business in a manner consistent with the high standards in its code," the committee said in the report. The proposed code of conduct will be printed in Almanac, the University's journal of record, for comment.

Big city mayors talk on urban problems

(03/01/00 10:00am)

The discussion centered on education issues like private school vouchers. When former Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode returned to his high school alma mater several years ago, he found an auditorium filled with 150 wandering, sleeping and gossiping kids. It wasn't a large study hall. It wasn't lunchtime. The school simply couldn't fill its classrooms with teachers, leaving the students without a class to attend. "There's something fundamentally wrong," Goode said yesterday in a forum devoted to urban education. Goode's experience framed "Should Big-City Mayors Support School Choice?", a discussion sponsored by the Fox Leadership Forum on Urban Education, which was held yesterday in the Fels Center of Government. Moderated by Goode, Political Science Professor John DiIulio, Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial and former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith together tackled the issues surrounding urban education and school choice, specifically addressing school vouchers and charter schools. Schundler defended the usefulness of both vouchers and charter schools in improving public school systems, explaining that both introduce the type of economic competition in schools that is necessary to force them to improve. "Money means power," he said to the more than 40 students assembled in the Fels Center. "The money follows the child with vouchers." But according to Goode, vouchers can only bring bad news to public school districts. "Vouchers are simply bad public policy," Goode explained. "Vouchers are political gimmicks that distract from the real business of creating quality education," he continued, noting that they often divide communities. And Morial added that introducing vouchers into school systems can create a "train wreck" of parents eager to place their children in private schools. The quartet also debated other reforms public schools have recently started to implement in an attempt to increase poor student performance. Morial noted that regardless of the use of vouchers or charter school development, under-performing schools need quality facilities, smaller class size and more teachers. "In my city, the prisons look better than the schools," he said. "The schools don't look like the Third World. They look like the Third World used to look." After the panel spent almost two hours analyzing these issues, the audience -- comprised largely of College and Fels Center students -- was given a chance to ask questions of the politicians. Josh Dickstein, a Fels student and graduate of a Philadelphia area public school, said he was pleased with the overall event. "I loved it," he said. "I want to be mayor." And College junior Lauren Sypek echoed his sentiments. "It was amazing to have that many leaders in one place."

Report says U. should join both FLA and WRC

(02/29/00 10:00am)

The sweatshop cmte.'s recommendations were given to Rodin yesterday. The Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor yesterday recommended that Penn provisionally join both the Worker Rights Consortium and the Fair Labor Association to monitor factory conditions for its apparel, marking the culmination of more than two weeks of negotiations. The committee, charged with developing a code of conduct for Penn-logo manufacturers and evaluating the merits of different monitoring organizations, gave its unanimous recommendation to University President Judith Rodin a day earlier than the initial deadline of February 29. Rodin charged the committee with these specific tasks about two weeks ago, after 13 members of Penn Students Against Sweatshops staged a nine-day sit-in in her office, demanding that the University pull out of the FLA and join the WRC. The full report, which includes the proposed code of conduct for Penn, has not yet been made public. "We believe that, without question, effective monitoring of licensee factories is crucial to ensuring fair labor practices," Committee Chairman Howard Kunreuther said in a statement yesterday. "With that principle in mind, we believe that both the Fair Labor Association and the Worker Rights Consortium have potential in that regard, but we have a number of concerns about both organizations," said Kunreuther, the chairman of the Operations and Information Management Department said. The FLA is much more established than the WRC, though neither has actually begun to monitor factory conditions. But human rights activists have attacked the FLA for including the apparel companies on its board of directors, which they say makes it biased and ineffective. Less than half a dozen schools are members of the fledgling WRC, compared to more than 100 for the FLA. But the WRC's ranks have been growing in recent days, with three Big 10 schools announcing last week their intent to join the organization if certain conditions are met. Kunreuther explained in the statement that the level of college and university representation in the groups' governing boards was a primary concern. Still, joining either the FLA, WRC or both remains a decision left to Rodin, who said in a statement yesterday that she would respond to the proposal promptly. "I will give it all due consideration and I will do so quickly in the spirit of the committee's efficient work and the importance of the issue," Rodin said in her statement yesterday. Rodin formed the committee last December as a response to the repeated demand by PSAS that the University withdraw from the FLA and join the WRC. Penn joined the FLA last spring and was a member until February 16, when Rodin withdrew from the monitoring organization after the College Hall sit-in. According to Kunreuther's statement, the recommendation is contingent upon the two organizations addressing the committee's greatest concern -- the level of college and university representation on their governing boards. "The report recommends that the University ask the FLA and the WRC to increase college representation on their governing boards," said Jennifer Baldino, a member of the committee and Rodin's director of external affairs. College sophomore Mike Hearn, a PSAS member who also served on the committee, called the group's recommendation a "consensus" and a "compromise." But Hearn added that he did not foresee Penn joining the FLA in the near future. "Personally, I think the FLA isn't in a situation where it will be able to meet the concerns of the committee," he said last night. And PSAS members said that above all, they wanted to see the University become a member of the WRC instead of joining both monitoring organizations. "Our position since the sit-in has not changed, except that we are trying to work with this committee," College senior and PSAS member Miriam Joffe-Block said after the committee released its proposal. "We still feel the WRC has more potential to be an effective monitoring organization," she added. The committee's proposal to sign on with both organizations comes just months after Brown University announced it would do the same. But Nicholas Reville, a student anti-sweatshop activist at Brown, said he was not happy with his university's membership in both and discouraged Penn from following this same course of action. "For colleges and universities, the FLA is an inappropriately designed model," said Reville, a junior at the Providence, R.I., school. "The best way to improve the FLA is to withdraw, to say that we'll come back when their standards are better."

In Irvine, Clinton praises U.S. economic boom

(02/25/00 10:00am)

At the inaugural Granoff Forum, the president extolled the 'new economy." The Constitution says the president of the United States can only serve two terms in office. But President Clinton got a chance for a third inauguration yesterday in Irvine Auditorium when he kicked off the Granoff Forum, going down in history as the new program's first speaker. "I want to thank Michael Granoff for giving me a chance to attend one more inaugural than I'm entitled to under the Constitution," Clinton joked at the beginning of his speech, eliciting laughter from the approximately 1,000 students, faculty and elected officials packed into Irvine. And then Clinton got down to business. Delivering an address entitled "The New Economy," the president outlined both his administration's economic achievements and what he believes needs to be done to sustain economic prosperity in the future. Clinton focused his 35-minute speech on what perhaps may be his greatest legacy as president -- the longest economic expansion in the history of the country. This prosperity, the president said, is a result of his administration's strict fiscal policy and the proliferation of the information technology. "When I took the oath of office as president, there were 50 sites on the World Wide Web," Clinton said. "There are millions and millions now." But Clinton was quick to note that these were not the only reasons for economic prosperity, citing America's capital markets as a factor. "That's why you have so many people just a couple of years older than most of the undergraduates here who are worth millions of dollars with their companies," the president said. And even though Clinton will be leaving the Oval Office in less than a year, he gave yesterday's audience a few tips on how to make sure the boom lasts in the next administration. "The first thing is, you can't forget what got us here," Clinton said, noting the importance of continued fiscal discipline. Clinton said that his 1993 budget, which passed each house of Congress by just one vote, began the process of cutting the deficit. "We've got to stay on course in expanding trade. We've got to bring economic opportunities to people and places that haven't had them here in the United States," the president continued. "We've got to lead to the far frontiers of science and technology. We've got to close the digital divide." But not everyone thought that Clinton's administration was as effective as the president seemed to portray. "The economy is booming. I think that he wants to take more responsibility for it than is actually his," History Professor Bruce Kuklick said after the speech. "If the economy were bad, he'd be blaming other people." Yet others said the president's speech was an entirely fair appraisal of today's economy. "I don't think Clinton gets anywhere near enough credit for the economic boom we are in," School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston said last night. "People who don't like Clinton say it's got nothing to do with Clinton. I think Clinton made a very strong case for the importance of his fiscal policies," Preston added. The president's visit attracted approximately 1,000 people to the Penn campus, including local officials and Congressmen Joseph Hoeffel, Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady. University President Judith Rodin introduced the president after his arrival to Irvine Auditorium shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday. "There certainly is no question that the United States has resumed its position as the leader of the global economy," she said. Philadelphia Mayor John Street and Penn alumnus Michael Granoff, who helped fund yesterday's speech and invited the president to kick off the new lecture series, also spoke at the event. Clinton's trip to Philadelphia required the collaboration of hundreds of members of the University Police Department, the Philadelphia Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service to make Irvine Auditorium -- and West Philadelphia -- a safe place for the president to speak. And according to University Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Tom King, the joint effort worked. "The Secret Service obviously are pros at this and fortunately we have liaisons with not only the Secret Service but with the Philadelphia Police," he said after Clinton spoke yesterday. "It's almost a template for the quintessential job -- everything was well coordinated."

Campus readies for Clinton economic address

(02/24/00 10:00am)

The president will talk about the government's role in the economy as part of the new Granoff forum. Eight years ago, then-Gov. Bill Clinton came to Penn to tell students how he wanted his presidency to impact an increasingly global economy. Today, he's returning to campus to discuss exactly how much of an effect his administration has had. Kicking off the new Granoff Forum, designed to attract influential global business leaders to Penn, Clinton will spend 30 minutes this afternoon in Irvine Auditorium, outlining the current state of the global economy and his projections for the future to an audience of approximately 1,000. University President Judith Rodin will introduce the President, and Michael Granoff -- founder of the forum -- will briefly address the audience of students, local officials and Penn faculty before Clinton takes the podium. Doors open today at 1:30 p.m., and student invitees are encouraged to arrive before 2 p.m. For security reasons, bookbags and backpacks are strongly discouraged. White House spokesman Joseph Lockhart said in a press briefing yesterday that the president's speech will largely focus on how his administration has altered the global economy. Lockhart added that Clinton will probably touch upon "what the proper role for the government is in providing stewardship for the economy." Immediately after his speech, titled "The New Economy," Clinton will depart for several fundraisers in New York. Just over half of those listening to Clinton's insight on the economy will be students, said Assistant Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences Allison Rose, who helped organize the event. Admission is by invitation only, and the majority of students invited to attend were selected from the SAS International Relations Program, the Political Science Department and the Lauder Institute. Philadelphia Mayor John Street, former mayor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Ed Rendell and several other elected officials will join the hundreds of students attending today's address, Rose added. "There will be some representation from all levels of elected officials," she explained. Today marks the first time Clinton has visited Penn since a campaign stop shortly before the 1996 election. Though the details of today's safety measures could not be released for security reasons, Rose said security would be very tight in and around Irvine Auditorium. "It will be at the level you would expect for a visit from the president," she said last night, adding that campus security has been working closely with the U.S. Secret Service in preparation for the president's visit. Irvine itself had to be slightly altered to accommodate the president's security force and the approximately 100 members of the press anticipated to turn out for the event. Press risers were added in several rows, but Rose could not detail any of the other changes to the building. As part of the tightened security accompanying the visit, University officials have predicted that Clinton's arrival might tie up the area at 34th and Spruce streets, the location of the main entrance to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. An e-mail was sent to several HUP officials on Tuesday warning that no traffic will be permitted on 34th Street between Walnut and Spruce from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow, possibly disrupting the traffic in front of the hospital. The speech will be broadcast on ResNet at 7 p.m. in its entirety. It will also be broadcast live on the World Wide Web. A link to the Website will be on this afternoon.

Protesters gain victories at three more universities

(02/23/00 10:00am)

The midwestern schools have agreed to join the Worker Rights Consortium. Under unrelenting pressure from student activists, three midwestern universities agreed Friday to conditionally join the fledgling Worker Rights Consortium, while Penn protesters strive to maintain the momentum generated by their recent sit-in. Indiana University, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin at Madison issued a joint statement last week indicating that they will conditionally join the WRC after meeting with them in April. "We take this step without endorsing all the provisions of the current working draft," Indiana Dean of Students and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Richard McKaig said in a statement on Friday. "We plan to attend and actively participate in the founding conference of the WRC in April in New York City," he added. Students from both Wisconsin and Indiana cited the success of Penn's sit-in as a catalyst for action on their own campus, and anti-sweatshop protesters at both Madison and Ann Arbor staged sit-ins last week comparable to the recent protest at Penn. And according to University President Judith Rodin, the anti-sweatshop activism at these campuses is directly linked to the nine-day sit-in at College Hall earlier this month. Rodin praised the Penn students -- who she had criticized during their nine-day sit-in earlier this month -- saying "the fact that their actions had influenced other students across the country is significant." Campus protesters across the country claim the WRC more effectively monitors the production of university-logo apparel for schools nationwide, safeguarding workers' rights better than does the rival Fair Labor Association. Activists point to the fact that the WRC is run by human rights organizations, while the FLA is closely linked to the garment industry. Penn withdrew from the FLA last week, ending the Penn Students Against Sweatshops sit-in. About 130 schools and universities are currently members of the FLA, while eight schools -- including the three that joined this week -- are in the WRC. Penn's ad hoc committee on sweatshops, which is composed of students, faculty and administrators and is charged to look into Penn's sweatshop policies, will meet throughout the week and will report to Rodin by February 29. The group is expected to recommend what monitoring group the University should use. Yesterday, committee members heard from FLA executive director Charles Ruff -- who led President Clinton's impeachment defense -- and WRC representative David Schilling to help them in formulating their recommendation. And the committee seems rather well aware of the actions of Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. "It's fair to say it's background material for us," Committee Chair Howard Kunreuther said last night. "But we're really trying to focus on what Penn should do." Michigan spokesman Joel Seguine said the educational trio will not promise the WRC final membership until the schools and the organization agree upon the final details of membership. "There are some shortcomings to the proposal as presented by the WRC," Seguine said. "We will become full members when these shortcomings are addressed to our satisfaction." Student protesters at all three schools were only cautiously optimistic about the pledge to join the WRC -- a demand many anti-sweatshop groups have voiced repeatedly -- saying that the process is far from over. "There was no enumeration of what it means to sign on provisionally or when that would occur," Wisconsin senior and student activist Marc Brakken said after the joint announcement. "It's a victory in the sense that the University has taken the initial step, but there is no way to guarantee that the University will continue to be active in the WRC," he added. Calling the FLA an inept organization, Indiana sophomore Bennett Baumer echoed Brakken's sentiment. "There's a lot of stuff we still need to work out with the administration," he said. "The battle is not over." Even though some students at the other schools expressed doubts about the overall impact of the pledge to join the WRC, College junior Miriam Joffe-Block -- a PSAS member and one of the students who participated in the Penn sit-in -- remained hopeful that the recent move in the midwest could ultimtely benefit Penn. "These are three really big schools with a lot of contacts that are aligned with the WRC, aligned with the principles it stands for," Joffe-Block said.

President Clinton to speak at Penn

(02/18/00 10:00am)

The president will speak on the new global economy as part of a forum sponsored by alum Michael Granoff. After seven years in office, President Clinton has learned a thing or two about the world economy -- and he has decided to let Penn students in on a few secrets. Clinton will deliver an address on global economics to Penn students, faculty and local elected officials in Irvine Auditorium next Thursday. The president will speak on "The New Economy" to kick off the University's recently established Granoff Forum, a program designed and funded by Penn alumnus Michael Granoff to attract the most influential minds in global economics and international relations to speak at the University. "President Clinton's participation underscores our commitment to providing a broad perspective on the critical issues of the new century," University President Judith Rodin said in a statement released yesterday. White House spokesman Steve Boyd said last night that Clinton's address would focus on "the broad picture of the state of the U.S. economy? and the opportunities and challenges of the next century." According to University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman, approximately 400 undergraduate students will be asked to attend the invitation-only event. She added that the students will be "primarily chosen from International Relations, Economics and other programs directly linked to the forum." "The wish of the donor was to have as many College students as possible," Holtzman said, noting that Granoff himself is a former College student. Granoff graduated from the College in 1980 and is now the president, chief executive officer and founder of Pomona Capital, a venture capital group. School of Arts and Sciences faculty, local dignitaries and elected officials and guests of Clinton will also be invited to attend the event. School of Arts and Sciences Dean Samuel Preston explained that Granoff came to him with the idea for the forum last fall, and they began tossing around ideas for the first speaker in December. "We thought we'd start out by asking the single most important figure in the global economy to speak," Preston said. "And to our delight and surprise, he said yes." Preston added that the University has known of the president's tentative plans to come to the University since January, but could not release the information until plans were finalized and the White House made plans for the visit public. In preparation for Clinton's trip, Irvine Auditorium will have to be outfitted for the approximately 100 press expected to attend the event, Preston said. But according to Holtzman, the security details for hosting the president at Penn have not yet been finalized. "The University Police will be working very closely with the Secret Service," she said. This will be the president's first visit to the University since 1996 when he made a quick campaign stop while running for a second term in the Oval Office. Clinton also spoke on his economic vision at Penn while campaigning for the presidency in 1992.

Protest officially over after 9 days

(02/16/00 10:00am)

Penn withdrew from the Fair Labor Association, effective immediately. The student anti-sweatshop protesters ended their nine-day sit-in yesterday as University President Judith Rodin officially withdrew from the Fair Labor Association and promised to re-evaluate factory monitoring options. Yesterday afternoon, Rodin faxed a letter of withdrawal to the FLA, which had been monitoring the manufacture of Penn-logo apparel. The agreement also specifies that the Ad Hoc Committee on Sweatshop Labor -- comprised of students, faculty and administrators -- will evaluate the different monitoring organizations and make a recommendation to Rodin by February 29. Rodin said she was pleased with the outcome, calling it a "strategy with no strings attached." She added that this decision "will wipe the slate clean and have the committee continue to do its work." Members of Penn Students Against Sweatshops expressed high spirits at the conclusion of their protest. The agreement made Penn the first school to withdraw from the FLA, which activists maintain is biased and ineffective. "We feel as a result of our actions President Rodin has made a good decision," PSAS member and College sophomore Harrison Blum said yesterday afternoon, as the students cleared away the sleeping bags and rolled up their protest signs in College Hall. Thirteen students began the sit-in last week demanding that the University pull out of the FLA and join the Worker Rights Consortium, which they claim more effectively monitors labor conditions because it is run by human rights organizations rather than the corporations it watches. "We're going to consider monitoring organizations from scratch now," PSAS Coordinator and College senior Miriam Joffe-Block said. "Our voice has been heard." According to Public Policy and Management Professor Howard Kunreuther, who chairs the committee, the group decided at its second meeting yesterday that it will draft a code of conduct for the University and use this to evaluate both the FLA and WRC. Previously, the only specified goal for the committee was to examine codes of conduct. "I felt very strongly that the deliberative process had to move forward," Rodin said. With both parties agreeing to the final details of the arrangement, PSAS members spent yesterday evening moving out of the building that had become their home for the past nine days. During that time, the group received extensive coverage in the local media, as well as from college newspapers across the country. They held several rallies and captured the attention of a campus normally apathetic to social causes. PSAS will continue its two-day fast until noon tomorrow. Over 60 colleges and universities are fasting in sympathy with the Penn protesters. PSAS members were quick to emphasize that yesterday's victory did not mean their work on the issue was over, noting that the University had yet to make a decision on future membership in monitoring organizations. "There's still a lot of work to do," said Anne Wadsworth, a PSAS member and Nursing freshman, who added that while Rodin has expressed concern for workers' rights, "she knows what we're capable of; we know what she's capable of." "It may take time but I didn't see any reason why we can't come to an agreement that works for both sides," Wadsworth added. The student movement against sweatshop labor, led by PSAS, has been gathering momentum across campus since the sit-in began. The original group of 13 students spending their days and nights in College Hall swelled to 35 on Monday and 28 student groups declared their support for the sit-in. Yesterday's arrangement resonated beyond the students in College Hall, with many student groups saying they agreed with the resolution. "The University has made the right decision to look at the WRC and hopefully decides to join the WRC," said United Minorities Council Political Chair Archana Jayaram, a College junior, after yesterday's announcement. "We saw it as a human rights issue." And the Undergraduate Assembly also commended the students' activism and yesterday's decision. "We applaud everything that's gone on," UA Vice-Chair and Wharton senior Ryan Robinson said. "We applaud the University for jumping on this and acting on it promptly and making an educated decision."