Monday, October 29, 2012

Hunkering Down With Sandy

The warnings are over and Sandy is about to arrive. The city and most surrounding municipalities wisely shut everything down well in advance of the storm and now all we can do is sit and wait.

I happened to be driving across the state yesterday and counted more than 100 utility trucks making their way east - from Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois and other points west. Sadly, they likely will not be enough to keep millions from being without power for extended periods.

We won't know the business impact, of course, for quite some time. But the pricetag will be in the millions of dollars for sure.

The worst should happen overnight, so until then, hunker down and be safe.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Scary-Good Issue

Our latest edition is on newsstands with some worthwhile distractions from the high-pitched noise of the election season. A great look at why Halloween is almost a recession-proof "industry" these days, in addition to some fail-safe time management guidance and a look at how Philadelphia plans on collecting a lot of delinquent taxes.

So check it out and, by all means, drop me a line to let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Obligatory Debate Post

Last night's final presidential debate signalled the beginning of the stretch run for this year's contest and not a moment too soon.

Campaign fatigue has set in and the seemingly endless stream of ads and news reports are all starting to blur together. About the only thing we know for sure is that it's going to be close on Election Night. For now, we can all hunker down and watching the flurry of conflicting polls. And if you think you've seen a lot of polls, just wait. They pollsters are just getting started.

A recent sampling:

So hang in there. The ride is going to get a lot more bumpy.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Must-See TV? That's Debatable

At long last, tonight is the final presidential debate and while this does not mark the end of the seemingly interminable campaign, it is an important milestone.

No, not for the impact it might have on the race - odds are that will be minimal, but instead, it marks the time where in a horse race, the announcer would yell "do-o-o-o-o-o-wn the stretch!"

And not a moment too soon.

The back and forth of this race has been exhausting. At the outset, the GOP thought it merely had to show up to win. A protracted primary season deflated party enthusiasm and fractured the base, allowing President Obama to create what looked like a commanding lead.

With the Democrats on autopilot, the Republicans were poised to chip away at the lead. Instead, Mitt Romney stumbled and bumbled his way through the summer and by the time we got to September, the unthinkable - President Obama winning a second term - not only looked likely, it looked like it might happen in a landslide.

The GOP finally got down to business and nibbled away at the lead in the polls and, of course, Mr. Romney pounded the president in the first debate and, suddenly, it was a race.

But the fatigue factor is in full effect now and keeping voters interested may be the biggest challenge. Polls indicate that there really aren't many undecided voters out there, which means this election will likely be determined not by which candidate has the strongest platform, but which party has a better get-out-the-vote strategy.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Our New Investor, Issue

No surprise, but we're pretty excited about our latest issue, anchored by a great feature about how savvy investors are making a bet on the long-term profitability of newspapers. But the news of our latest investor seems to have attracted even more attention.

That's the link to the article on Raymond Perelman's investment in our company, but we also have a more in-depth piece on our site. We're excited to have Mr. Perelman be a part of what we're creating. Take a look through this week's edition and see some of what we're up to.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teamsters Authorize Strike at Philly Newspapers

We were expecting a lot more buzz about this, but very quietly this morning - like, 3 a.m. this morning - posted a two-paragraph blurb stating that the Teamsters had authorized a strike against the company that owns The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News and These are the content producers or ad folks. The story states that this group includes "delivery drivers, clerks, dispatchers, security guards, and building services personnel."

But the other groups are also bound to have something to say, because management has made it pretty clear they are expecting everyone to sacrifice in order to get the company to profitability and the unions have, at least publicly, shown no appetite for that.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sadly, End of an Era

Right up front, I must admit I was never a huge Arlen Specter fan. I found the Single Bullet Theory implausible and his overall public persona a bit too cartoonish. But as his years in the U.S. Senate continued to pass, I began to appreciate him. And not because of who he was, but because of who he wasn't.

As Sen. Specter's tenure grew, the country's political environment became more polarized and, eventually, toxically divisive. That made him stand out more and more. Because Sen. Specter didn't change. He was a moderate. And not a moderate for moderation's sake. That was simply the way he was.

In a challenging era that would seem to demand level-headed practicality, you would think someone like Arlen Specter would be most valuable. Instead, he was kicked to the curb as extremists controlled public discourse over the issues of the day. And now, he's gone forever.

It would be easy to say he will be missed. The sad fact is, he was missed before he was gone.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Obligatory Post About VP Debate

The Twittersphere was flooded with the #VPdebate hashtag last night and this morning. Not surprisingly, both sides were claiming victory - the Dems saying Vice President Joe Biden took Congressman Paul Ryan to school while the GOP said Ryan held his own against a seasoned veteran.

While the initial presidential debate literally changed the game, it's really hard to generate any enthusiasm for VP event. For all the hand-wringing about selecting the right running mate and what they might do to boost the ticket, fact is, they are almost always an afterthought. I mean if George H.W. Bush can win with Dan Quayle on the ticket, it's clear that the only something as dramatic as Thomas Eagleton's revelation could cause a ripple in the election cycle.

So while this this give TV's talking heads plenty to chew on for the next few days, it will be forgotten as soon as prep begins for the second Romney-Obama debate.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Latest Issue: State Pension Mess, Execute Like a CEO, Buy Your Own Church

How's that strike you for a nice mix? Lots of information on the immense amount of red ink swirling around the two state pension funds. Painful as it will be, looks like the state legislature is going to try to tackle the problem.

Productivity expert Neen James gives us a few easy tips to help be a better, more effective leader. Then there's the little issue of dozens of Catholic churches and schools hitting the real estate market.

Forget the summaries, just dig in and see for yourself!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

As We Predicated, It's a Race in Pennsylvania

The editorial for our October 4 edition had a headline that flew in the face of the political pundits: Don't Buy Fuzzy Poll Math, Pennsylvania a Swingin' Place to Be.

This, after most all polls showed the state solidly in the Obama column and off the battleground state list.

Well folks, we were simply ahead of our time, or so says a poll commissioned by the non-profit group Let Freedom Ring, Inc. and published exclusively by the good folks at PoliticsPA. It shows the presidential race within the margin of error and even incumbent Senator Bob Casey's race, also once thought to be a blowout, in the same territory.

In both instances, the Dem holds the lead, but it's a paper-thin advantage.

Bottom line folks, plan on brewin' up a strong pot of coffee election night. It's going to be a long one.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nutter: Romney Told 'Lie After Lie'

We reported on Michael Nutter eyeing up a move to Washington should President Obama win next month and he certainly played the part on Sunday.

On CNN's State of the Union, he slammed Mitt Romney, including this frontal assault:

“So, if you just lay out lie after lie after lie about your own plan, as well as what the president has been talking about, of course you can look good,” he said.

Expect the rhetoric to continue to heat up as most polls show the race tightening nationwide.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Maybe Pennsylvania Is Ready To Swing

A lot of pundits colored in Pennsylvania with a permanent blue marker for the upcoming presidential election, but with Mitt Romney's strong debate performance, maybe that was premature. We look at Pennsylvania's presidential politics in this week's print edition. Another highlight, a look at the crazy 8th congressional district, which is once again up for grabs. Can't like, the illustration (above) is one of my favorites.

Lots more to enjoy - a look at Philly's climate for startup companies with First Round Capital's move into the city. Also a look at the economic impact of Marcellus Shale; while much of the state wrestles with the environmental impact, people here are saving money.

We also have an interesting Q&A with the principal of a city charter school and we had a lot of fun with By The Numbers, where you'll find the one and only Brian Dawkins.

Great issue and some heavy stuff on the way for next week. Strap in, folks, things are really getting interesting.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tonight's Debate Playbook

We've discussed the fact that presidential debates rarely, if ever, have a major impact on election results, but we'll be treated to the first installment of the 2012 edition tonight.

While political pundits are wringing there hands in anticipation, the expectations of the general public should be where they are for everything involving our federal government - low.

Tonight's playbooks are simple. President Obama will play defense, bobbing and weaving. He doesn't need to win, he simply needs to stay away from any blatant mistakes. As the underdog, Mitt Romney must be the aggressor, attempting to land a decisive blow that he hopes will create some electoral momentum.

What's the best the viewing audience can hope for? Two things. First, that one, memorable moment, whether it's Lloyd Bensten's zinger ("You're no Jack Kennedy"), Gerald Ford stumbling through a question about Soviet domination or The Gipper smiling and saying, "there you go again." Second, enough material for Saturday Night Live to write a funny script. After all, the debates have become, above all, a television event.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Obligatory Voter ID Post

Sanity has prevailed and the state's rush to implement a Voter ID law has been put on hold. There's nothing wrong with requiring a picture ID to vote, but ramming it through just ahead of a presidential election looks bad, even if the intentions are good.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Can These Events Change the Election? That's Debatable

Fall is underway and in a presidential election year, that means the next season is debate season.

On the upside, this will give the 24-hour cable news stations a different angle to discuss on their endless stream of talking head shows. Instead of the semantics of a stump speech or the latest one-tenth of a percentage point change in a poll of likely Montana swing voters, they can obsess and convulse over the debates.

In the end, though, that's really all the debates are good for - a televised diversion.

The Democrats are approaching them in a frenzy, seeing an opportunity to seal a November victory. On the other hand, the Republicans are frothing at their collective mouths, ready to vault Mitt Romney into the lead, building the momentum needed to capture the White House.

Before investing too much time watching the debates or listening to, watching or reading too much analysis of the debates, read this smart commentary by Franklin & Marshall political observers G. Terry Madonna & Michael L.Young. Then find yourself a good movie to watch or a book to read and wait for the merciful end to one of the most painful presidential election seasons ever.