SEPTA Super Sneaky Strike

150px-SEPTA_text.svgBy: Billy BeerSlugger

It was great of SEPTA’s TWU 234 workers to strike yesterday leaving hundreds of thousands of Philadelphian’s not only without a ride to work, school, doctors appointments etc, but also without leaving them with the proper amount of time to plan for alternate transportation. They struck at 3am in the morning so that it wouldn’t be announced on the 10 or 11 o’clock news or splashed on the front page of news sites before Philadelphian’s went to bed.  Which if you’re really trying to piss people off you’re going to sneak attack strike. Not only that but Tuesday, the day the strike began was an Election day.

Not that I don’t give the TWU a little bit of credit for sticking through the Philadelphia end of the World Series but not to inform your ridership at least the night before is downright dastardly. These people have jobs, scholastic careers and other necessary staples of life to attend to that count on SEPTA to get there. I’d love to see the attendance numbers for the thousands of Philadelphia school aged children that need a bus, subway or trolley to get to school.  These kids probably love the SEPTA strike because it effectively gives them a get out of school free card today. It’s hard enough to get these kids to go to school as it is without having them walk 4 miles. Lost in the news coverage is the kids who take SEPTA to school and as I always say to my friend who bangs a married chick with kids, “Think about the children.”.

Anyway, I’m not completely against Union’s.  My mom was a 30+ year member of the Communications Workers of America, my uncle is a high ranking SEPTA union leader though not the Union that’s striking (as there are 3 unions that serve SEPTA).  However, this is really a case of a Union holding a city hostage.  When my mom’s union went to the picket line you could at least still make phone calls. It’s pretty customary as well for the people that are striking to show up to a picket line in protest but these lazy sons of bitches, for the most part, are home watching cartoons. Though I did see a story that there was a picket line in front of the Fern Rock station.  Obviously they wouldn’t picket anywhere in Center City for fear of being heckled and laughed at.

Per a Union worker in this article

“We’re damned if we do, and we’re damned if we don’t,” said Harris. “The riding public is not educated on what we’re fighting for. Why should we work under stressful conditions without getting paid for it?”

Well sir, you are getting paid, maybe just not as much as you’d like to.  As for the stress of a job, join the club.  Without marginalizing the efforts of the workers who really do make SEPTA run, what about those workers in the subways averaging $53,000 a year to take $2 and press a button.  I wouldn’t wish that kind of stress on anyone.

Governor Rendell said the five-year contract spurned by TWU leaders called for a $1,250 signing bonus upon ratification, a 2.5 percent raise the second year, and a 3 percent raise in each of the next three years.  It also called for an increase in pension payments to workers and no increase in their health-insurance contributions.


By: Billy BeerSlugger

After reading my colleague Robby Ripchord’s article today I thought I would touch on SEPTA as well.  SEPTA Transportation Workers Union 324 voted unanimously to authorize a strike.  So now the riders of busses, trolleys and subways in Philadelphia are now subject to service interruptions should the Union decide to send it’s 5,000 plus workers to the picket line.

Coincidentally, (obviously not coincidental)  this strike threat is at the exact time that the World Series would be going on.  When tens of thousands of drunken people will come from all parts of the city and surrounding area to descend upon the South Philadelphia Sports Complexes.  Afterward these people will want a ride home.  If they can’t get home I can’t even imagine the carnage this city will endure as people flip over cars, light fires, climb slicked up lightpolls and generally destroy everything in sight.  One thing you don’t want to give a drunken Philadelphia sports fan, win or lose, is a reason to get completely angry and break shit.  And that’s if people can even get to the game. If people can;t get to the game there may be even more hell to pay.

SEPTA’s union does not want to increase their health care contributions from 1 to 4% and also are balking about a “wage freeze”. Which is a better term than “massive layoff”.  However, I doubt the TWU  will get much sympathy from the Philadelphia public on this when everyone else, including city employees are facing the same thing.

The union has been working without a contract since March which definitely gets good faith points when the negotiating begins.  The bad thing is that threatening a strike during a World Series is in effect extortion, definite buku negative good faith points.  As if you couldn’t decide to strike before or after the Phils are in the Series.  This is what they call a little bit of leverage.

I guess the good thing is that the regional rail is on a separate union(s) so that obviously still operates and people can get in and out of the city that way to partake in the Phillies Fever and also work. However, there is no regional rail stop in South Philly and unless you’re driving, taking a cab or have a bike, you’re hoofing it from City Hall to 1 Citizens Bank Way.

SEPTA and it’s Union do not see eye to eye on things and that’s fine, but strike after the Phils win the series or there may not be transit lines left to drive subways through if the drunken masses can’t get to or out of South Philly.  I’ll personally start whacking away at the Girard Ave exit on the Market-Fankford line.  They should have used some of that 1.31 million from the economic stimulus to redo that piece of shit anyway.  Consider it free labor.

Overall, while hundreds of thousands of people are out of work, TWU 234 says lets strike for better benefits and wages. Seems logical to me. Tell you what, lets have them strike and then fill most of their mindless jobs like the Subway Cashiers with people who do actually want to work.  I mean besides the people who actually fix busses, trolleys, trains and other technical things how hard could the rest of the jobs really fucking be?  Drive a bus, subway train or trolley? I mean as long as you don’t hit anyone or anything and make pickups at all the stops along the route then you’re golden baby.

Good article here.

SEPTA Cashiers

SEPTA TrainBy: Robby Ripchord

We here at apologize for the lack of posts lately.  You see the Phillies are in the midst of a World Series defense and we have been drinking heavily, waking up late and generally calling out of work for no good reason.

That being said, I was out last Wednesday for the Phillies NLCS clincher against the Dodgers. Eventually a group of friends and I made our way to Center City to celebrate with the masses, bag o’ beers in tow. That’s not what this article is about though.

As I awoke in a strange place, multi-colored polka-dot sheets, a room filled with women’s clothing, I realized i was not at my house. A quick survey of the situation placed me in Manayunk. Great, I don’t live in Manayunk and i obviously did not drive there. So here I am forced to take two different forms of SEPTA transportation back to my domicile.

I have a over-priced crappy omelet at the Manayunk Diner which is situated close to the train station and make my way up the rotting concrete and steel stairs.  Before I left I had picked up the latest copy of Philadelphia Weekly and read a great article about SEPTA attendants while I sprawled out like a homeless man on the train station bench.

I always wondered what the SEPTA cashiers in the Subways actually did since, as the article points out and I realized from personal experience, that:

  1. They cannot give change.
  2. Most do not sell tokens, at least not all day.

Effectively their job is to take two dollars per rider and press a button.  Occasionally they are supposed to help elderly and handicapped individuals get onto platforms and trains.

What I didn’t know is that these same people I see napping inside their booth’s or just plain not there at all are paid $55,000 a year on average.  All of the 346 full time cashiers on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines are from the medically disqualified pool.  So really if you get hurt/sick on or off the job then you get a cushy job collecting dollar bills and pressing a button for $55,000 a year.

Which would be fine with me except that much of the SEPTA budget is funded by Federal, State and local subsidy’s. So taxpayers are mostly paying for these people to sit on their brains all day.  Further, every year or two SEPTA threatens to strike wanting better pay and better benefits.  Which is exactly the beauty of unionized labor and government jobs, there’s always a few people that get to sit around and do absolutely nothing to collect a sizable paycheck, have little to no work stress besides showing up and even that is debatable.

Sometimes I’ll be on the Subway and there won’t even be a person in the booth to take my $2. Further they don’t have token machines at every stop.  So what is a person to do when a train is coming? Not only is SEPTA losing money by overpaying a person who effectively does the job of George Jetson but it’s also losing money from people who want to pay their fare but have to hop over the turnstile instead.

God forbid we upgrade our outdated token system with a card system like New York or Washington D.C.! Technology which has been employed in these cities since at least 1995. But that’s neither here nor there.  Your suggestions and good ideas will be promptly ignored by the SEPTA officials that are taking your tax money to run their Transit Authority.

PS: Thanks to the nice lady who gave me a quarter to take the Market Frankford line home Thursday.  I had exact change for two tokens ($2.90) and put a dollar bill and my change into the token machine only to find out that nickels and dimes were not accepted. Then i tried to get my money back and it only gave me the change and not the dollar.  So I was left ten cents short of the requisite for a single trip and 25 cents short of the requisite $2.90 for two tokens.  Good people are hard to come by in a Subway and salutes you anonymous subway lady.  Had it not been for you I would have had to walk my hungover ass home.

Valley Swim Club Racism

By: Billy BeerSlugger

You may have heard this story about a group of 60 kids from a day camp in Philadelphia which was bussed to the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley PA only to be told not to come back a day later after an emergency board meeting by the swim club.

The story is all over the news and reached national levels even moving Actor/Director Tyler Perry of the Tyler Perry movies to pay for a 3 day stay in Disneyland. There’s no denying that the kids in the day camp are primarily black and that the clientele in the swim club is primarily white. There’s where the story comes from; the sensationalism of racism.

Now the swimming club says they had legitimate crowd concerns which may or may not be true. One of the campers,  Dymire Baylor, commented, saying, “I heard this lady, she was like, ‘Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ‘I’m scared they might do something to my child.” Two other campers reported strange comments, prompting one to ask, “Am I too black to go into the pool?”.

Well you might just chalk that up to what Obama might call being a “typical white person“. As in there is an inherent reaction to white people that’s “been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way and that’s just the nature of race in our society”.  (And he’s right we do have to break through it).

But I digress, the issue here is that the summer camp paid $1,900 to have the 60 kids go to the pool every Monday for 90 minutes for the duration of the summer. I did some math and it essentially breaks down to $2.64 per visit. Now the swim club supposedly received multiple complaints from members leading to the emergency board meeting that terminated the Day Camp membership. I think the economics of this decision are pretty easy. A swimming membership for the summer for one person can range from $300 to $350 in the area for a single person and a family of four can be around $600 – $650. So from an economics standpoint if you lose 5.5 singular memberships or 3 family’s of four due to the kids being there the swim club takes a bit of a bath.  Not to mention dealing with the other “typical white” people who don’t relinquish their membership but complain constantly.

This is all conjecture but I’m thinking from a economical and “dealing with bullshit” standpoint, you say let’s give the kids back their money, keep our “typical white” members happy that are our bread and butter. You cite crowd concerns/safety and that’s your alibi.  Seems to work for me except maybe the alibi wasn’t airtight and you didn’t count on the national news coverage on your ass and the racist label hung over your Swim Club sign.

There really was no winning angle to be played here. Either lose money and reputation with your members and let the kids stay the summer or refund the money and take whatever the parents, media and Tyler Perry throw at you. It’s sad but the real wrong move was to invite the group at all.  Every private swim club board in America has now been served up a lesson in how not to get into a Public Relations nightmare and possibly a $50,000 fine; don’t go out of your way to try and do a good deed and give some underprivileged youngsters a place to swim. So in effect what may seem like a win against racism and anti-civil rights actually just made it ten times harder to get underprivileged kids into nicer private swim clubs. It’s a double edged sword but it looks like the kids are at least going to get $50,000 minus lawyer fees.  Hopefully it all goes right to a college education fund, I could get my Michael Phelps on with that scenario. Of course that’s not going to happen.

The Foodery – Northern Liberites

The 2nd Street Establishment
The 2nd Street Establishment

By: Billy BeerSlugger

The Foodery is really a beer store that also has a deli. Though when I say beer store, we’re talking about six packs and more so singles of the best beer you can find in Philly. There’s 10 or so coolers that have some of the finest imported beer from Belgium, Germany, England and anywhere else that makes stuff worth drinking.

You can sit down and have a beer and a sandwich there, it’s not a bar but they will give you glassware.  And I believe it’s open until 10pm which is crucial for those for a halftime beer run on a Monday Night Football game or a Tuesday night when you’ve just had a really bad day.

So overall, one of the best selections of beer I’ve ever seen in one place. The bad part is that most of the single beers there run $4.50+.  Yes imported beer is a little more expensive but it’s more or less a 300% markup for single beers. I walked out of there with a $20 dollar sixpack last week. If I was smart I would have went to the beer store earlier in the day and had at least 18 more beers but such is life sometimes.

Overall though you can’t really knock the price given the selection and trendy 2nd street location in Northern liberties. Maybe the City has a tax on single beer?

Another great thing is that I didn’t see any Budweiser or Coors there. Kudos to you friends. Viva le Beer!

837 north 2nd street (2nd & poplar)
(215) 238-6077
philadelphia, pennsylvania 19123
hours: sun-thurs 10:00am to 10:00pm
fri-sat 10:00am to 12:00am

They also have a location at:

324 south 10th street (10th & pine)
(215) 928-1111
philadelphia, pennsylvania 19107
hours: everyday 9:00am to 12:00am

I wish I had frequented that establishment a little more when I was living near Broad and Spruce St.

Philly Naked Bike Ride

nbr002By: Billy BeerSlugger

This past Sunday a horde of people got together for the Philadelphia Naked Bike Ride which was supposed to spotlight bikers being able to share the road with drivers (bikers rights) or something to that effect.

Now I cannot believe I missed this, not that I could really participate without a bike but I am a proud oggler of naked women in all shapes, sizes and ages. Not that most of these people were naked, most wore underwear, bathing suits and or body paint but still I’m all for a cause that has women take their clothes off.  Do you know those ads for PETA that have celebrities and models take their clothes off for fur abuse, I’m now a proud member of PETA just because of that? Well not really but now I know what PETA is and this was before the Mike Vick thing. And the same is now true for the Philly Naked Bike Ride, I’m all for biker rights and stuff like that, provided they don’t slow me down whilst driving.

There’s really nothing that can help your cause like naked people.  If I was organizing a benefit or cause or wanted to attract attention to atrocities committed by something/body, the first thing I would do is get girls naked. Dude’s, not so much but chicks definitely.

Center City Restaurant Week

By: Billy BeerSlugger

You know this thing seems like a great idea in theory much like a lot of other ideas seem good in theory like Communism  or a Utopian society.  However, like a lot of these great ideas, when put into practice disappoint mightily.

I’m not saying that Center City Restaurant Week is a completely bad endeavor but I think on the whole you don’t get the full experience of the restaurant that you go to during that week.  The price is right $35 per person for a 3 course meal but the portions are usually much smaller than normal and there’s more of a rush to get you in and out during the predetermined seating times.   What you thought was going to be a great evening taking your significant other to a nice romantic dinner in center City for a few less bucks than you would normally spend turns into a quasi-diner experience.

You’ll see all the cheap “tourists” from the surrounding counties and Philly locals who would not normally dine in Center City strewn about the Center City Streets not knowing where they’re going.  Usually it a woman nagging their boyfriend/husband to Center City during this week with the pretense of, “You never take me anywhere”.

So here we are “tourists” in my city streets, “tourists” in restaurants and bars I frequent, smaller portions, rushed dining, inattentive service because there’s a billion people in the place and probably a pissed off server who just got $5 on a $115 check.

Trust me, I’ve worked a few Restaurant Weeks in my time and it is great in theory bad in practice.  Now that’s not to say you can’t have a good time of it.  You may be happy just hanging out eating and drinking in Philly and enjoying the ambiance and swankiness of a Steven Starr restaurant, if that’s the case so be it.  All I’m saying is wait an extra week, spend the extra $30 and get the real experience of the restaurant you want to go to because it’s not the same during  Tourist Restaurant Week.


Professional Athletics and Marijuana in America

The Governator Smoking The Stinky Green
The Governator Smoking The Stinky Green

Bob McFlurry with Sports

So maybe you’ve heard that Jaqua Parker was arrested for possession of marijuana during training camp a day or so ago.  Apparently Todd Herreman’s was driving and there was two young ladies were also in tow when the car was stopped by police.

Now I won’t get into how I think Pot should be decriminalized (which it is in some areas of the U.S) or legalized, but would like to talk about two issues that this situation brings to mind.

1) Juqa Parker made a mistake and probably the only mistake he made was getting caught.  I’ve listened to a lot of 610 WIP over the last couple days with people calling in to bitch and complain about why these professional athletes think they are above the law or don’t have to follow the rules or because they make millions of dollars they should be more responsible.  You know what, I don’t buy that.  The guy smoked some pot, took the edge off of what was probably a tough day at camp.  How many people go to Happy Hour after work to take the edge off every day? Millions? I don’t see Parker’s actions any different than what goes on every day in America other than the fact that marijuana relaxes you and you wake up the next day without a hangover.

And you can claim that these athletes make millions of dollars and with more money comes more responsibility and they should behave better or whatever but I’m really not buying that either.  I remember football camp, it sucked.  You’re out in the heat all day with 20 pounds of equipment on running around doing drill’s, sprint’s, long distance runs, begging for a water break and the coaches are on your ass the whole time. Waking up every day with your muscles sore as shit, dragging your ass to film and meetings, expected to know where you’re supposed to be at all times on every conceivable formation as well as the guy next to you.

Now imagine that it’s not High School anymore and you’re expected to do pretty much super human things everyday, fighting for roster position with all the other Alpha Males and the weight of a championship hungry city on your back.  Like I said some people need to take the edge off and football players are no exception.  Alcohol is pretty much out of the question at training camp unless you’re Maurice Clarrett so what do you do?  Play Madden?

2) Football players are not idiots.  There’s a bigger issue than Juqa Parker getting caught with weed by the police here. It’s the fact that he had weed on him at all.  Why would a player, being apprised of all the rules knowingly and willingly be (allegedly) smoking pot if the league is drug testing.  Now I’m not talking about being Ricky Williams stupid about the mary jane but by most medical accounts marijuana stays in your system for about a month. So I’m going to guess players get tested at the beginning of training camp and I’m not sure what happens after that.  But i know Corell Buckhalter and other Eagles players got detained for allegedly smoking weed on South Street back in 2001 during the season but no one ever tested positive. And there’s been countless other players I’ve seen or heard been vilified on ESPN or wherever for partaking in something that 90% of people have at least tried in their lives.

This leads me to believe that it’s probably pretty naive to think that the Ganja isn’t prevalent in the NFL and probably most other Major sports. Either the players that get caught are just plain stupid for failing a drug test or they are caught by the police with Pot, suggesting they were smoking pot, however, smart enough to avoid testing positive for it.

Whatever the case, it’s not the end of the world. I think that marijuana should  be legal and taxed the shit out of by the government instead of spending Billions of dollars futilely trying to stop it. Of course that’s not up to me and neither is the suspension Juqa Parker could be facing but gimme a break, is it so bad?  Did he kill anyone? Did he have dogs fight each other to the death?

The same people calling into 610 WIP bitching about this are the same people who are going to go in half wasted tomorrow to work. Anyone see the irony here?  Double Standard much? No matter what your job is or how much money you make a job can be stressful. Apples to Apples, what’s the difference?
Internet. Download Managers

The Post Office

Will Cliff Claven lose his Job?
Will Cliff Claven lose his Job?

By: Billy BeerSlugger

You know I’ve had a beef with the post office for a long time, whether it’s checks in the mail that never get there or arrive a week later than they should, it never seems like these people have their shit together.  To me it is just another vital service for the United States which the government controls, fucks up and annually loses millions of dollars.  I can’t even get a check delivered to me within a week and a half even though it was mailed from less than 20 miles away.  If the government can’t get my mail to me in a timely fashion how am I supposed to expect it will be any better at providing Health Care to the masses? The Government Accountability Office recently commented that, “without major change, the day will soon come when the Postal Service will be unable to pay its bills.”

Benjamin Franklin (my favorite person of all time) is rolling over in his grave on 2nd and Market right now at the state of how bad things have gotten for the service he founded and reared through it’s infancy.

Now the USPS will close as many as 700 Post Offices in an effort to save money.

Here is a list of some of the Post offices in Philadelphia that will be possibly closing in the near future:


For a full list of Post Offices around the Country here is the link to a PDF.

That’s 15 Post Offices which may close in the City.  I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad about this.  Is closing Post Offices going to make the mail more efficient and save money?  I guess only time will tell but I’m pretty sure things can’t get much worse than they already are, at least in Philadelphia.