A City With Heart
And A
Whole Lot of Soul

Phil Cohen's observations about Camden, past present and future, 
and other musings designed to stimulate, instigate, and infuriate!

What will grow from this collection of writings comes from an idea that has been on the back burner for a while. I've written letters to the editor and a few other essays on Camden over the last ten years. In the 2000s I found myself writing a lot, mostly letters to Courier-Post and Philadelphia Inquirer reporters commenting on articles they had written. Of course in those days, I was still working in local government, and had to hold back on what I really wanted to say. I have been retired since November of 2009, and still have some reservations about speaking my mind on a few subjects, as there could be some repercussions..... i.e., people of low character and lower morals might try to do myself or family members some harm. 

I had begun a Daily Updates page listing the new and modified pages on the web-site, and I have occasionally thrown in a comment or two about things going on. It has been suggested that I write on a regular basis on issues in Camden...("Phil, you TALK about it all the time... why don't you write about it?").... so here we are, another new page, with thoughts and observations about life and goings-on here in the city and elsewhere. 

I haven't written here about Camden, that is, Camden as it exists and operates in the present, in quite some time. Here at the tail end of 2014, it may be time to do so. If not about Camden, there sure are enough other things going on worth putting words to print about.

As always, comments, criticisms, contributions and, as I'm going public with a few ideas in the near future,  crucifixions are welcome!

Phil Cohen

Friday, August 14, 2009 

I will NOT be following the NFL, let alone the Eagles, if Michael Vick plays. The only possible way I will pay any attention to the NFL is if it plays out that Jeff Lurie signed the guy so he could bury him on the practice squad for the next two years at the NFL minimum salary, and take any possible lawsuit by Vick against the NFL off the table. If that's the case, kudos to Jeff Lurie. 

On the other hand, if Vicks suits up on game day, I will turn my back on the NFL forever. I've GOT a life and a mind of my own. I don't NEED the Eagles or the NFL to live, thrive, and survive. 

Michael Vick is lower than a child molester. It is said that those sick individuals commit their crimes out of some sort of compulsion. On the other hand, Vick did what he did for "fun" and for profit. EVERYTHING Michael Vick did was premeditated. He was running a business.

Michael Vick has "done his time" and "paid his debt" according to some. Fine. He's out of jail, let him get a job that pays $12 an hour or whatever his education and other vocational skills will get him. If the NFL wants him, they can have him. But mark my words -Michael Vick IS NOT WELCOME at my house, and those who would embrace him - give him fortune, fame, and more disturbing than anything else adulation- are not welcome either. 

Why stop with Michael Vick..... the NFL can surely find a place now for Bernie Medoff? Wayne Bryant will be back in four years or so..... why not give him a job? Milton Milan has finished serving his time.... he's built like a lineman. Sign him up! Where does it end? 

There are more things in life and more things to do with my time and my money than supporting in any way, shape, or form the NFL or any business or institution that would embrace Michael Vick.

Wednesday, November 18, 2008 

The local news of the day- Wayne Bryant found guilty

It's an all too rare great day in New Jersey, and a great day for Camden. He sucked at least $700,000 out of the Housing Authority in the 90s and never gave back a penny.

As far as being a forceful advocate for minorities..... an honest look at current conditions, a drive through Camden, and a tour of our state and county jails will reveal the truth.... Wayne Bryant is a well spoken individual and a forceful advocate for Wayne Bryant, and not much more.

There seem to be a lot of that particular virus going around these days.

As printed in the Courier-Post, 

Christopher Christie, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, wasted no time and spared no invective in lashing into Wayne Bryant following the latter's conviction on federal corruption charges Tuesday.

Christie called the former state senator from Lawnside a "disgrace" and said his conduct was "the most reprehensible I have seen in my seven years as U.S. attorney for New Jersey."

Christie has secured the convictions, either through trial or by guilty pleas, of 132 public officials, including John Lynch, a former state Senate president, and Sharpe James, the longtime mayor of Newark."

None of these comes close in offensiveness to Bryant's crimes- multiple counts of bribery and pension fraud, according to Mr. Christie.

"He stole in plain sight," Christie said, referring to Wayne Bryant's brazenness. "He's a thief whose arrogance went beyond anything I've seen."

Mr. Christie, in his position of U.S. Attorney and in prosecutiong cases prior to this one, has seen quite a bit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008 

Today is Veteran's Day.... which, is to my mind, after July 4th and Memorial Day the most important national holiday in these United States. Today we honor those who served and the sacrifices they made, large and small, so that that all who are alive today could enjoy the freedom and lifestyles that we do. It is a day that where we all should be humble, especially those who have given nothing to this country or society in general. As a very smart man once told me, the WORST sort of human being is the ungrateful one.

Moving on to the subject of the ungrateful, here is a story from today's Washington Times. This comes as no surprise to me, but to the thousands... ok, I hate to admit this, millions... of converts to the new religion of Obamanism this may come as a shock:

Agenda disappears from Obama Web site
Tuesday, November 11, 2008


President-elect Barack Obama over the weekend scrubbed his transition Web site, deleting most of what had been a massive agenda for his first term that appears on his campaign's site.

Gone from are the promises on how an Obama administration would handle 25 agenda items — from Iraq and immigration to taxes and urban policy — which the campaign first laid out on the Web site

As The Washington Times first reported Monday morning, the official agenda on has been boiled down to one vague paragraph proclaiming a plan "to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives."

"We are currently retooling the Web site," said Obama transition spokesman Nick Shapiro.

The 25 agenda items and Mr. Obama's action items for each are still available on Mr. Obama's campaign site.

The Obama team announced on Wednesday, but because of an early glitch, the site wasn't available to the public until Thursday. The agenda items, which were active for at least part of the weekend, appeared to have been deleted by late Saturday.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama harnessed the Internet with incredible success, communicating with millions of supporters and providing live streaming video of his appearances. Mr. Obama said it was part of his commitment to transparency and is expected to translate much of that to when he takes office.

But political technology professionals said it appeared that Mr. Obama's team had been too abrupt with and didn't want the new administration tied to the campaign's list.

"I believe they were a bit out in front of themselves and realized after the fact that they didn't want to limit their agenda/priorities to what they put on the Web site before they had a clear picture of America's needs in a postelection environment," said David All, who as founder of helped pioneer grass-roots online political donations for conservatives.

Conservative interest groups demanded that Mr. Obama repost his agenda to make it clear where he wants to lead the country. 

"Does this represent a shift in Mr. Obama's position on Iraq?" said Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United, which advocates for finishing the military mission in Iraq.

Grover Norquist, president of conservative activist group Americans for Tax Reform, blasted Mr. Obama for deleting the agenda.

"This is the opposite of transparency," he said. His organization posted to its Web site,, a scanned copy of a printout of the "Economy" section of Mr. Obama's agenda. still contains pages about how to apply for jobs in the Obama administration, biographies of top transition team members and a call for Americans to serve as volunteers and for students to perform 50 hours of community service. The site also has press releases and a transition blog.

Meanwhile, yesterday a Georgia Congressman Paul Broun and at least one segment of the "mainstream media brought up the subject of Obama's agenda, motives, and to what lengths he would go to impose his rule on Americans... I DO say "RULE" and not "GOVERN", 

The co-chair of Barack Obama's Transition Team, Valerie Jarrett, appeared on Meet the Press this weekend and used, shall we say, an interesting word to described what she thinks Barack Obama will be doing in January when he's officially sworn into office. She told Tom Brokaw that Obama will be ready to "rule" on day one. It's a word that reflects the worst fears that people have for Obama the "arrogant," the "messiah," that imagines he's here to "rule" instead of govern.

Jarret told Brokaw that "given the daunting challenges that we face, it's important that president elect Obama is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one."

The italics, of course I mine. I would not want you to have missed that comment. Anyway, on to Paul Broun's comments about where Obama may be going, from the Associated Press, on Monday. 

Georgia congressman warns of Obama dictatorship

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado about building a new civil service corps. Among other things, he called for expanding the nation's foreign service and doubling the size of the Peace Corps "to renew our diplomacy."

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," Obama said in July. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Broun said he also believes Obama likely will move to ban gun ownership if he does build a national police force.

Obama has said he respects the Second Amendment right to bear arms and favors "common sense" gun laws. Gun rights advocates interpret that as meaning he'll at least enact curbs on ownership of assault weapons and concealed weapons. As an Illinois state lawmaker, Obama supported a ban on semiautomatic weapons and tighter restrictions on firearms generally.

"We can't be lulled into complacency," Broun said. "You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential."

Obama's transition office did not respond immediately to Broun's remarks.

About the Obama "Transition Team"... I wish I had put it like this, but I was beaten to the punch. From comments made on Jake Tapper's coverage of Paul Broun's statement on the ABC News website:

Barack Jong-Il just established a "permanent" transition committee. It is completely tax-free, takes unlimited donations and all of the donors are totally anonymous. How's that for open government, all you reform Democrats? Goes right along the lines of his "promise" to take federal matching funds in the campaign, doesn't it? Let the sun shine!

Obama, his allies, and enablers' actions, policies, and motives have NOTHING to do with REFORM in the sense of changing things for the better. They have EVERYTHING to do with the acquisition of power, with the goal of ensuring the permanence of his regime.

I'll finish with another comment made on the ABC website:

All visionary statists frustrated with the slow pace of "change" in a democracy begin their "rule" this way. If this is up, as I hope it does, 2010 will rival 1994, and 2012 will parallel 1980.

Such was the genius of the young people who founded our country. They understood history's hostility to self-rule and individual liberty, and so created a wide range of safeguards, including the 2d Amendment (which is not, of course, about hunting) to assure the continuity of both.

Mr. President, your Gestapo will create our Maquis, and the outcome of our conflict at the ballot box will be the same as the outcome of that struggle in the forests of Occupied France.

The writer, of course assumes that there actually will be free elections in 2010 and 2012. Given the Democrats' stated intentions regarding their suppression of dissent, and the near monopoly they already have on mass media, the third paragraph may be more on point than the first one.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 

It's 4:07 AM, and by the end of the night you and I will know the fate of the United States as we know and love it.... if you are one of those who do not love this country and its traditions, please find another website to visit.

Theodore Roosevelt, a brilliant and great man as whoever walked this earth, gave the following speech addressing the Knights of Columbus in New York City on October 12, 1915:

There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all.

This is just as true of the man who puts “native” before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance.

But if he is heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as any one else.

The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English- Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian- Americans, or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality than with the other citizens of the American Republic.

The men who do not become Americans and nothing else are hyphenated Americans; and there ought to be no room for them in this country. The man who calls himself an American citizen and who yet shows by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land, plays a thoroughly mischievous part in the life of our body politic. He has no place here; and the sooner he returns to the land to which he feels his real heart-allegiance, the better it will be for every good American.

The italics are mine... and necessary. At the end of this evening, an individual who speaks as a "citizen of the world", may have seized power in our nation. Heaven help the United States of America.

Our country has been balkanized.... we are as irreconcilably split on values and ideology today as we were in 1861. Frankly, the pessimist in me is quite convinced that it will come to bloodshed if American values are to be preserved, and that is a horrifying thought. However, given the contempt of Left and the intolerance shown over and over by them in academia, the media, this election cycle..... and the contempt so elegantly put by Comrade Obama in his description of small-town white Americans as "bitter people who cling to their guns and their religion"... I see no other future. It is not a matter of IF. It is simply a matter of WHEN.

A victory tomorrow by John McCain will not prevent this from happening, but it may delay it. Delay is very necessary, because it is only recently that the average working American has begun to wake up and become aware of who the "progressives" are, and what they represent. With mass media control (the death of talk radio and censorship of Internet content are already in the legislative agenda) and a stated intent to pack the judiciary with judges who place ideology over impartiality in the interpretation of law, 2008 may be the last reasonably free election in this country.

Its funny.... well it is NOT funny.... that nationally and to an extent in many cities and some states.. the "Democrat" Party has become the Socialist party in all but name. The Democratic National Committee..... well, let's just call them EXACTLY what it is... the National Socialist Committee. 

And if that, Virginia, doesn't scare you, it should. Because there is no Santa Claus, just a well-spoken, smiling guy in a disguise who is groping you as you sit on his lap. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 

Last night, according to the rules of baseball, which have stood pretty much unchanged regarding the issue of weather for over one hundred years, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. However, due to the greed and dishonesty of one man, "officially" this is not the case.

I am BEYOND angry and disgusted with Bud Selig, the "Commissioner of Baseball". I use quotes because for as long as he has sat in the commissioner's chair, he has disgraced the office. 

The rules of baseball state that if the game passes 4-1/2 innings and play can no longer continue due to weather, the game is official and play ENDS.

This game clearly should have been called after 5 innings, with the Phillies leading, thus giving them the win and the world championship.

As announcer Buck stated, THERE ARE NO SPECIAL RULES concerning weather during a World Series game.

Bud Selig, who has been a detriment to the sport for as long as I can remember, prolonged this travesty in order to extend the World Series if possible to 6 or 7 games, thus generating additional revenue. DISGUSTING. What little integrity there was was in Major League Baseball has been destroyed by Bud Selig, the same Bud Selig who allowed Barry Bonds to cheat his way into the record books. I for one refuse to accept any more of this garbage.

I don't care at this point what happens in the continuation of Game 5 or thereafter. The Phillies clearly, according to the rules, won the game, and that is that. From this day forward, I will NOT spend a penny on Major League Baseball, or otherwise expend any time or mental energy on it.

I didn't understand why the fans who didn't come back in 1981 didn't come back. I do now. Selig's greed has offended me to the point where I'm leaving, and I will not be back. There are too many other things to do in life than to waste time watching a sport whose rules change with, no pun intended, the direction the wind happens to be blowing in. 

Thursday, April 14, 2008 

The individual who is running as Der Fuehrer... make that the leader... well, it is a direct translation... in his quest for the nomination of the Democrat Party was quoted twice last week. The first quote by Barack Hussein Obama:

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Now understand that this was NOT supposed to be heard by me or you, the general public. They were addressed to the disgusting set of dupes, fellow travelers and co-conspirators who were in attendance at the event... I believe it was a fund-raiser... where he made the statement.

The second quote was last Saturday, in Indiana and on national television, where he tried to justify his remarks... and in the minds of anyone who still has one of their own and who can read, is even more infuriating. The italics are mine:

"I said something that everybody knows is true, which is that there are a whole bunch of folks in small towns in Pennsylvania, in towns right here in Indiana, in my hometown in Illinois, who are bitter. They are angry." 

Now, for the record..... I do not own guns, am not at all religious, have no particular people antipathy to people who are not like me (probably a lot less than most PC-infused "progressives", am the child of immigrants, and am not particular scared of free trade. I don't live in a small town, but in one of the largest metropolitan areas of our United States of America. I'm not particularly bitter.... my wife and my dogs I believe think of me as rather a sweet guy.

I am however, mad as hell. Bitter, no... that denotes disappointment, and I'm not disappointed at all. The world does not own me a living. I'm not even disappointed with Obama... I EXPECT this sort of nonsense from him. When my expectations are fulfilled, I'm not at all disappointed. I am, however justifiably angry. Angry that Obama and his handlers have the gall to try and take me and the rest of the country for fools.

Critics of Obama, including Hilary Rodham Clinton (see, I'm also rather fair!), likely Republican nominee John McCain and other GOP officials "pounced- portraying the Harvard-educated lawyer as snooty."

"Snooty" is not the word I would use. My brother and sister are both Harvard-educated lawyers. Obama isn't "snooty", he's simply WRONG. Wrong for me, wrong for you, wrong for America, wrong for Western Civilization, wrong for the planet....hell, he is even wrong for economically disadvantaged members of certain ethnic groups who make up less then a majority of the general population of the United States. He's even wrong for my dogs and dead people. He's wrong for everyone who ever put on a military or police uniform, a fire hat, or volunteered to work on an ambulance squad. He's wrong for scoutmasters and Girl Scout troop leaders. He's wrong..... wrong beyond all degree of forgiveness... for every man and woman who lost there lives while serving in the military during peace or war, and their families, friends, and loved ones. He's even wrong for the Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferenghi, and E.T. 

I'm mad as hell because the last thing I need is some know-it-all who thinks he knows everything about anything and worse yet, believes he has been anointed with special knowledge and insight to impose solutions... mostly involving regulating MY life to an intolerable extent while picking my pocket..... talking down at me.

Obama said... and if I believe anything this man has ever said, and that ain't much... "I said something that everybody knows is true...". Exactly "who" is his "everybody"? Not mine, and that is an undeniable truth.

Hilary Clinton was right the other day when she described John Kerry as being seen "as being elitist and out of touch with the values and the lives of millions of Americans,"

The reason, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama, if you happen to be reading this... he was perceived "as being elitist and out of touch with the values and the lives of millions of Americans," is because he was, as far back as 1971 in the case of Mr. Kerry.

I don't cling to guns... I don't own any, yet. I MIGHT want to, some day. I am not religious, but I cling to the right to put an American flag outside of my house on Memorial Day, July 4th, or any time I might feel the urge. I don't particularly dislike people who are different than me, but I refuse to accept flagrant abuses of civil and criminal law as culturally justifiable. Hell, I might want to eat a pastry made with trans-fat, have a six-pack without spending an extra $1.80 a six-pack in "beer tax", have more than two children without being called "a show-off", or smoke a cigar while sitting on a park bench.

And I'm mad as hell when the most intolerant people this side of the Taliban and Hamas claim to be "progressive"... I'm mad as hell that Jimmy Carter gets Secret Service protection when he travels to Syria to get down on his knees to service Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists.... I'm mad as hell when self-congratulatory narcissists have the nerve to tell me that I'm bitter and clinging to the past when I refuse to swallow the sewage they are spewing as fact, creed, religion, science, and commandments by the deities.

I'm angry as hell. Obama and the Obamistas, Obamanoids, or Obamanations might just seize control of the Presidency this time around..... and when that happens, look for control on free speech and freedom of assembly not unlike those impose by Chavez in Venezuela.... but he will never have my allegiance. My allegiance has been pledged to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands. 

Thursday, February 21, 2008 

Today's headline in the Courier-Post: 10 key S.J. Dems swing to Obama

God help this country. I've only voted Republican for president once, in '04... because you DO NOT change horses in the middle of a war... and because as a veteran I would never vote for John Kerry for anything, except perhaps to be convicted as a traitor if I was serving on a jury. Still, I might have gone back to the Democrats this time with Hilary Clinton.... the REAL election says more about the candidates than the primaries.

As an independent who is socially liberal (pro-choice, pro-gay rights), fiscally conservative, and who wholeheartedly understands that we ARE in a war, and have BEEN in a war since that bungling boob Jimmy Carter began pandering to the Islamists back in 1979, I still might have voted for Hiliary Clinton if she showed me something during the campaign..... because she, like Bill, at least might try to work from somewhere near the center. Obama does not, and Ms. Redd's belief that she brings people together is dead wrong. Hilary may be divisive on personality... Obama is divisive on POLICY, and that had better be what people base their vote on, or else our elections will have become a personality contest, and the dumbing down of America will have become complete.

Likewise, Donald Norcross states that Obama can "unite us as a country"..... I think not. He may have energized the far left of the Democrats, got the kids going, and got the baby boomers who are still grieving over Bobby Kennedy or what they THINK John F. Kennedy was.... Obama and JFK are as different policy-wise as night and day.... that is NOT the whole country. Hilary Clinton I may have considered voting for. Obama..... no way, no chance, and not in this lifetime..... well, maybe if he serves 2 terms in the Senate and ESTABLISHES A TRACK RECORD of voting that I can find some logic in.

In this election, with the country (and the western world) at war with Islam... no way. Hilary might turn into Margaret Thatcher, and get tough when the country is attacked, as Thatcher did when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Obama? Well, it's like this.... while there is GENOCIDE going on in Darfur, he's on record as stating the Palestinians are the most oppressed people on earth. Barak, see ya, and I wouldn't want to be ya.

The left-wing of the Democrats have all but chased Joe Lieberman, another socially liberal but fiscally prudent man and their 2004 vice-presidential candidate, out of the party. The further left the party goes, the less comfortable many people who care about the country and who vote regularly are becoming with it.  

Phil Cohen

Monday, February 18, 2008 

The Courier reported today the "peace workshops" are going on at Sacred Heart Church in South Camden once again. Michael Doyle comments "I've seen evil"... Oh crap, here we go again.

It's easy to "promote peace" when OTHER PEOPLE are shedding blood so you can live and enjoy what the United States of America has given you. Well, Petunia, I've seen evil, too. The evil of the self-righteous who proclaim their moral superiority over the rest of us. Let's get one thing straight. If there is blood on anyone's hands from what happened in Southeast Asia so many years ago, ask forgiveness of the souls of those who fled Vietnam by boat rather than live (or die) under the Communists. Ask forgiveness from the souls of the 2,000,000 or so who were slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. 

Oh, I forgot... being "morally superior" means never having to admit guilt, never having to acknowledge ones errors, never having to take responsibility. 

Do yourself a favor. Read "The Evil of Pacifism" by Doug Hagin, an excellent analysis of the morally bankrupt crap that is more offensive than anything coming out of the DRPA facility. 

Phil Cohen

Monday, December 10, 2007 

Regarding the use of guns in crimes, I think one should be aware of the following:

You can't blame people OR Hollywood for all the crime involving guns, and you CAN NEVER blame the people who commit the crimes...... it's all the gun's fault.

Government studies.... (the Somali government, but who's counting?)..... recently revealed that guns have achieved intelligence. They have been levitating into the hands of innocent persons (who all just happened to have criminal records going back to their fourth birthdays), possess their spirits, take them out of the houses to malls, schools... (but never a state legislature, what a shame), and then the evil guns force these poor unfortunate souls to pull the triggers nineteen times or more... (these evil guns also force their captives to take ammunition with them and to stop and reload), killing a bunch of people and scratching the paint on someone's Prius.

Obviously the solution is to round up all the guns. Maybe we can drive wooden stakes through their hearts.... okay, down their barrels, and stop this evil.

Phil Cohen

Saturday, September 29, 2007 

I wrote this after reading the "Jena Six case shows need to teach tolerance" editorial in the Courier-Post on September 24, 2007. It was published in the Letters to the Editor section of the Courier on September 29, 2007.

Let's get this straight. Six green kids beat up a purple kid and it is a hate crime. Six purple kids beat up a green kid and it's an act of rebellion against a repressive system.

Sooner or later, the green kids and their families will figure out they are being scammed and whatever anger there was in the first place by green people toward purple people will increase exponentially. 

Purple people will still catch hell and those whose incomes are dependent upon keeping people at odds with each other will laugh all the way to the bank.

Phil Cohen

June 25, 2007 

It's all over folks, not just for Camden, but for virtually every other urban center in this country. Forget about redevelopment, recovery, and all the other buzzwords thrown about to sell you and John Q. Public on that notion.... and you can throw in a few suburbs as well. Read the following, and weep. Weep, because the rule of law is all but dead and buried. Political Correctness generally doesn't allow for you to be told this, and I'm surprised that the Courier allowed this to be printed.... but here it is, from today's paper:

......nearly three years ago when the department was plagued by a clearance rate on shootings that hovered around 10 percent, said Lt. Orlando Cuevas. It's now around 40 percent, well above the national average of 28 percent.

Now this translates that 9 out of 10 homicides in Camden were going unsolved, and now it's about 6 out of 10..... and that's no call for celebration... that is pathetic. Nationally, 7 out of 10 homicide cases aren't being cleared...... and the government wants to take guns OFF the street? With statistics like this, one would have to be quite irrational NOT to arm one's self..... the police cannot protect you.... the criminals are not intimidated by them. The police are there to clean up AFTER the fact, and that is far too late.

There are several questions that need to be asked after reading the article below.

Robert Morton said his son often brought broken guns to him, asking him to help fix them. He didn't.

One is why when the son "often brought broken guns to him", he did not immediately bring in law enforcement? 

At 14, Fred Morton asked for his share of the monthly Supplemental Security Income check that provided extra money for his ADHD. He used it to buy his first package of drugs, his father said, and kept that part of his life from his sister, who helped raise him.

Why was a 14 year old given part of a social security check by his parent or guardian to use as capital for his drug business? 

He inherited a Camden drug set at 15 when his sister's boyfriend spent nearly a year in county jail. Two years later, he was working with a "stick-up crew," robbing drug dealers and store owners.

And perhaps most important, in the long run, is why the Courier is painting a person who was committing armed robberies as well as dealing drugs as a victim, as a young man with potential. It is as clear as the four noses on Mount Rushmore that the only potential this person had was the potential to hurt an innocent person.

Camden Courier-Post June 25, 2007

Wall of silence hurts victims' families

Courier-Post Staff


Investigators pushed mugshots across the desk and Fred Morton shook his head.

"Don't know 'em," he said.

"You sure?" his father, Robert, asked, sitting next to him at the Camden Police Department. "You sure you don't know him?"

Another head shake.

"Don't know 'em."

By all accounts, Fred Morton, 17, was deep in the game. He began selling drugs in Lindenwold at 14, his father said. He inherited a Camden drug set at 15 when his sister's boyfriend spent nearly a year in county jail. Two years later, he was working with a "stick-up crew," robbing drug dealers and store owners.

Now, on a Saturday afternoon in November, Fred Morton was sitting with police, but not because he had been arrested. He had witnessed a homicide.

His sister's boyfriend, Lavar Dunlap, was dead. Shot in the back of the head while sitting in the passenger seat of a green Pontiac Grand Am. Fred Morton was the driver.

City police have long battled the code of the street, where fear of retaliation or distrust of police often prevent residents from cooperating in criminal investigations. Law enforcement often uses financial rewards to coax witnesses to come forward with information, typically in high-profile cases.

Camden police are taking a new approach to an old idea. Last month, the city's shooting response team began offering $250 rewards for information leading to arrests and convictions. Police hope the approach will slow shootings they say are often connected to or lead to other crimes. In the meantime, Camden Police Executive Arturo Venegas and Acting Camden County Prosecutor Joshua Ottenberg are trying to win over more residents with increased community outreach.

It won't be easy, they say.

For Robert Morton and his daughter Doris, the sting of silence is all too real.

Twelve days after Dunlap, Doris' boyfriend, was killed, city park workers found Fred Morton's body out in the open at Van Hook Park. His throat had been slit.

Members of the Camden Police Department said Morton was killed because people thought he was talking to investigators. On Nov. 20, officials arrested Rodney Jamal "Petey" Daniels, 20, of Camden, in connection with Dunlap's slaying.

It was an abrupt end to a life relatives say was troubled, but also promising.

At 14, Fred Morton asked for his share of the monthly Supplemental Security Income check that provided extra money for his ADHD. He used it to buy his first package of drugs, his father said, and kept that part of his life from his sister, who helped raise him.

"We always argued about it," Doris Morton said. "He would promise me, "You know, I'm not out there. I'm going to do better now. I'm just out there chilling.' "

But the streets were always too much of a lure, his father said.

"The fast money," Robert Morton said. "Cash."

The teenager, described as small for his age, felt further empowered with a gun in his hands. Robert Morton said his son often brought broken guns to him, asking him to help fix them. He didn't.

"He brought in a .22 Smith & Wesson long barrel. It's a nice-looking gun. It's clean," Robert Morton said. "He liked that gun like it was a girlfriend or something. I could see this in his eyes, when he talked to me, when he held it."

At times, it seemed like Fred would fulfill his promise to his sister. He worked at a local store stocking shelves and taking inventory. He trained to become a lifeguard. He committed himself to school. He found the basketball court again instead of the corner. He spent time with his nephew, now 3.

But he left the job after fighting with a co-worker and school sputtered, leaving Fred right where he left off.

On that Saturday in November, Fred sat stone-faced as his father worked with investigators to get him to cooperate. The father said he recognized some of the mugshots being pushed in front of his son and knew he recognized them. Still, his son would never talk to police. He promised as much before.

It was a stubbornness that infuriated his father and left his sister wishing her brother handled things differently.

"If you knew who did it, let (police) take care of it," Doris Morton said. "I don't need to lose two people."

Despite the fact Fred never cooperated, police Capt. Joseph Richardson said people thought he had. His death, which remains unsolved, was meant to intimidate others from talking with police, Richardson said.

"I don't know who they thought he was talking to," he said. "But he wasn't talking to us."

Why someone was killed -- along with the rumors that accompany it -- carries a lot of weight on the street, Richardson he said.

To combat the problem, the city's shooting response team, made up of members of the police department, prosecutor's office and state police, are now offering the $250 reward to encourage people to cooperate.

The shooting response team was founded nearly three years ago when the department was plagued by a clearance rate on shootings that hovered around 10 percent, said Lt. Orlando Cuevas. It's now around 40 percent, well above the national average of 28 percent.

Six to eight detectives are on call 24/7 to respond to reports of shots fired. They flood the area, Cuevas said, canvassing for information and witnesses. Cuevas said those who see shootings are more willing to talk immediately after an incident. Having extra detectives allows the team to capitalize on that, he said. Before the response team, only one detective responded to shootings.

"It's such a serious crime and so many other things are linked to it," Cuevas said. "The timing was right to do something."

The $250 rewards come from state police funds. A figure on how many rewards have been given out was not available.

Officials said money has proved in the past to be a motivator, but the mother of one of the city's recent homicides isn't so sure.

Rosalynn Glasco's son, Salahuddin Igwe, was gunned down in the city's Whitman Park section June 17. Igwe, 16, was standing on a corner in the 1200 block of Thurman Street. No one has been arrested in connection with the killing.

Glasco, who now lives in Lindenwold, said she grew up in Camden and knew about the problems on Thurman Street before her son was killed.

"Some of those people that live on those streets . . . (are) scared," she said. "Every time they turn around, there's a killing."

Glasco said the promise of money isn't enough to turn those residents -- or herself -- into a cooperating witness for investigators.

What's needed, she said, is the ability to shield people from the retaliation most expect for cooperating with police.

Glasco said she hopes someone will come forward in her son's case, because she wants closure. But it's not something she would do.

"Snitching or telling on people, I don't involve myself with stuff like that," she said. "Where is $250 going to get you? It's not going to take you far. That ain't enough to take your or your family out of the city."

Ottenberg said officials recognize the problem and are exploring ways to combat it. A grant application is awaiting approval to provide witness protection at the most local of levels.

The grant, part of the Attorney General's Project Safe Neighborhoods program, would allow law enforcement to change people's cell phone numbers, the locks on their doors and their work schedules. In some cases, witnesses will be moved on a whim.

Ottenberg said there are elaborate systems to protect witnesses at both the federal and state levels, but nothing has been done at the local level.

"We will have something that we can use at our fingertips," Ottenberg said. "We really don't have the facilities to do this quickly and easily at this point."

In the meantime, a new program sponsored by the state's Attorney General, Operation Ceasefire, trains residents on ways to take more active roles in their communities while countering the day-to-day fear in which they live.

Ottenberg's office has also created monthly meetings between police and residents in the city's four districts. The meetings provide a confidential setting for residents to voice concerns and police to build intelligence.

"We're trying to unlock the pandora's box of political power in the neighborhood," Ottenberg said. "It's slow in this city."

At some point civil society either puts this down once and for all, or surrenders and lets public order disintegrate. It's not just Camden, it's Willingboro, Winslow, Beverly and Burlington. And it will soon be coming to a neighborhood near you.

Phil Cohen

June 10, 2007 

Why was the "Greatest generation" so great? Among other reasons because America, our great nation. knew to fuse many into one. English would be the language taught, the common language of education, commerce, and government

Today we are in REAL trouble, because the idea of common language has been pitched out the door by special interest groups and to be perfectly frank, well intentioned fools. It has been proven over and over again, throughout this country, that children whose first language is not English can... and in fact MUST... be taught in English. We have had many times in the past 200+ years periods where in many of the households in this country English was the second language, but we never weakened, never lost our minds to the effect of sacrificing "One Nation" on the perversity that race hustlers and crybabies call "diversity".

Camden Courier-Post (Morning Post) March 29, 1930


Vineland, March 27.-In the first six grades of schools here 50 percent of the pupils live in homes where languages other than English are spoken, according to figures made public today by Supervising Principal H. W. Weidner.

Each of the 2554 pupils in the lower grades were asked this year to tell what language is commonly spoken at home. In compiling the answers given by the pupils Professor Weidner was surprised to find that 18 foreign languages are spoken in the homes of families of this community whose children attend the Vineland schools.

Italian ranks next to English, according to the statistics, with Hebrew, Russian and German next in order. French, Austrian, Polish, Ukranian, Swedish, Greek, Spanish, Swiss, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Dutch, Finnish, Danish and Welsh are all on the list. The number of pupils in whose homes the various languages are spoken is given in the following tabulation: Italian, 923; Jewish, 91; Russian, 78; German, 49; French, 44; Austrian, 27; Polish, 15; Ukranian, 8; Swedish, 7; Greek, 6; Spanish, 6; Swiss, 3; Lithuanian, 2; Hungarian, 2; Dutch, 2; Finnish, 1; Danish, 1; Welsh, 1.

I am perfectly sure that Vineland, Cumberland County, and South Jersey did not fall into a state of anarchy because of the above situation. I am also sure that the teachers and administrators had to work harder, and some individual students were at a disadvantage. That's life, there is no level playing field in nature. However, I am equally sure, perhaps even more so, that there were far more successes with the children of these "English as a Second Language" homes than failures.

High standards bring a reality that all will not make the grade. Lowering the standard in an effort to make thngs easier on those who cannot achieve, to right perceived past wrongs, or for any other "feel good" reason including monkeying with the numbers to show an artificial "improvement" is intellectually dishonest and only serves to ensure inferior results.

Phil Cohen

May 8, 2007 

In Today's Courier-Post:


Alleged racist talk probed

Courier-Post Staff

An alleged racist conversation between two top Camden County Jail officials that was inadvertently broadcast over one of the county's public safety radio channels last week is now under investigation.

Law enforcement officers who were tuned to the channel Wednesday afternoon allegedly heard Deputy Warden Anthony Pizarro and Capt. Ronald Barr, who are both black, use racist slurs and expletives to describe white corrections officers at the county jail.

The alleged 20-minute tirade occurred in a county vehicle and was prompted when a white police officer stopped Pizarro and Barr to issue a traffic ticket, said corrections officers who have requested anonymity for fear they could lose their jobs by speaking out about the incident.

Pizarro and Barr apparently didn't know they had keyed the vehicle's microphone and were broadcasting their conversation countywide on a channel used by the corrections department, sheriff's office, park police, prosecutor's office and Merchantville police, the officers said.

The lengthy conversation tied up the channel and prevented other officers from using it to communicate on the job, they said.

Pizarro denied the accusations when contacted at his home Monday.

"There's an element in the department that, for whatever reason, they've got an ax to grind and they made these accusations," he said. "If we said what people say we said, we would have been suspended immediately."

"There's an investigation and the truth will come out. I'm not worried about it at all," said Pizarro, who noted he's been told the Camden County Prosecutor's Office and the corrections department's internal affairs division are investigating the matter.

"They've taken something that was an accident and they've blown it up into something that's not true," Pizarro said. "They've crossed a line."

Why should ANYONE be surprised by this? This kind of abusive language is all over FM and AM radio, in local government, and in just about every other venue....

Why? Because people... just about ALL people.... are just plain MEAN, no matter who they are, where they come from, and what they look like. 

GOOGLE "Blacks can't be racist" if you are in denial about this.... then ask any Asian-American business person with a store in an urban area about it... better yet, spend some time, go to one, and then WATCH AND LISTEN.

One might Politically Correct censor all "offensive" language in public out of existence, but one cannot Politically Correct human nature. 

So what's to be done? Not much, to be real. One can spend millions rebuilding sand dunes at the shore..... the ocean pays no attention.

May 5, 2007 

About the Sears Building in Camden:

Sears building's fate on line


The stakes will be high tonight as preservationists fight to save the old Sears building at 1300 Admiral Wilson Blvd.

The Campbell Soup Co. says it may abandon expansion plans and leave the city if it doesn't receive permission from the city's Historic Preservation Commission to tear the building down.

At risk is Campbell's plan to build a $72 million world headquarters, along with 1,700 local jobs and more than $1.3 million the company pays in lieu of taxes to the city each year.

Until the end of January I worked for the Housing Authority of the City of Camden inside of the Sears Building five days a week. The roof leaked to the point of collapse. So much water came through in June that the Authority had to clear out of two thirds of the building. The carpets were soaked, the landlord, represented by Brian Jackson, did nothing. The County and State authorities were called in, air quality tests were made, a deadline to evacuate was given and finally the Authority evacuated the building on the last two days of January.

The Housing Authority, which means you the taxpayer, took a real beating because the landlord did not take care of the building. The public at large took a beating, becasue the owner of a historic landmark let it fall into a state where now it is a public health menace.... the landlord neglected a "public trust".

Now let's get real. "Dr. Denim" is NOT coming to Camden. The cost to make the Sears building fit for human occupation is far more than whatever profit he could possibly recoup in a reasonable time. The truth of the matter is that he has an option on the building and is trying to extort $5,000,000 out of Campbell Soup, while portraying himself as someone who wants to invest in Camden. What a pathetic lie that is.

While the preservationists have a valid point about the Sears Building being historic, the building is in such a state of disrepair that the benefit derived from keeping it has greatly diminished.

To hold on to an empty building that will NEVER be reoccupied (unless millions of dollars fall from the sky and aren't snatched up by the same crew who took the last $175,000,000 that came to Camden) is simply not justifiable. To lose one of the few taxpayers of import that the city still has is simply WRONG..

Of course, the City Historic Commission voted unanimously to reject Campbell's plan. Typical. 

December 17, 2006 

There little more disgusting than to see people use the dead for there own personal gain. It gets worse when the dead being used... well abused is the better term... are Camden Fire Fighters.

The Courier-Post ran a story a few days ago about a lawsuit brought by an African-American fire fighter's organization, the local chapter of the NAACP , and allegedly Camden's Hispanic fire fighter's organization. The following day the Courier printed a retraction, as the Camden City Latino Professional Fire Fighters, representing 75 of Camden's Hispanic fire fighters, made it clear that they are NOT part of this lawsuit. The suit alleges that Chief Marini engaged in a racist conspiracy in the design of the monument honoring those Camden Fire Fighters who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Sadly, whoever writes the Courier's Sunday editorials does not read the Courier themselves, as they left that retraction conveniently out of their lead editorial. Pathetic at best, intentionally irresponsible at worse. Why am I not surprised?  

What is it all about?

Apparently two disgruntled African-American fire fighters brought suit a few years back charging that their rights had been violated. They were awarded damages of I believe $1,300,000, but unfortunately for them but fortunately for you and I who pay taxes, this judgment was set aside. This decison, currently under appeal, left the two complainants quite unhappy, to say the least.

If their lawsuit was really about righting wrongs, I'd have some sympathy, but their subsequent actions disclose their motives. They should be  should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no shame, with them. It's NOT about the public good, its not about respect for the dead, its about money and power, and they do not care what damage to the community is caused by their actions. 

The fire fighters memorial was not done built with public funds, as I am given to understand it. I believe the monument was commissioned and designed by private parties, some of whom were fire fighters and former fire fighters, and at least two men who were civilians. The monument was raised and design by men of good will and integrity, with not a breath of bias towards anyone.   F

Here is a disgusting fact I've been keeping under my hat. The two complainants... lowlifes is a better word... threatened to picket and disrupt the dedication ceremony for the monument by harassing the family members of the fallen firefighters, many of whom were elderly. That is about as low as it gets.

FACT: The monument was built years ago, and was being kept in storage while a suitable site was being decided upon. 

If this lawsuit concerning the Fire Memorial was about genuine community concern, and Kelly Francis of Camden's NAACP gets no pass on this either, any issues regarding the monument could have been settled behind closed doors. As a point of FACT, the monument was relocated shortly before the ceremony to make both sides more visible to the street. Shrubbery and decor was also placed on both sides of the monument to emphasize that there were fallen firefighters named on both sides. As far as the actual monument is concerned, this was settled months ago among all parties genuinely interested in the civic good.    

This suit is not about the civic good, however. It is about the ambitions and greed of a few who put there own wants, whims, and desires above all, and who do not care what damage is done to the Fire Department, the City, or the community as a whole. Their what can only be described as disgusting tactic of making a racial issue out of the efforts of men and women of good will to honor those who died while serving the community dead is appalling.   It's another sad day for Camden. Once I would wonder why people from outside of the city want nothing to do with us. Today, for the first time in my life, I'm beginning to understand.

So lets get down to brass tacks. The Courier-Post's story is a load of hogwash. The Courier has the story DEAD wrong, and obviously hasn't spoke to anyone who was involved in the fundraising and design of the monument. This is journalistic negligence of the worst kind, but not surprising.

The FACTS of the matter are as such. Two plaintiffs against the City had their settlement overturned, and are looking at receiving not one thin dime. The Latino Fire Fighters are not part of the lawsuit... the Courier printed a retraction the day after the story broke.

That two or three disgruntled individuals... and I'm being charitable... would stir racial dicord for personal gain is awful. That others and the Courier to jump on the bandwagon without doing the due diligence is irresponsible, at best. Once again Truth, the City of Camden, and the general public have been poorly served.

November  19, 2006 

A riddle! The largest "industry" in Camden is... no not the drug trade, that is not even a close guess. The largest "industry" in Camden is "delivering services to the poor". What would happen to the city if the gravy train ever stopped? Perhaps, just perhaps, the inertia that has trapped Camden for so many years would be broken.

Fact of the mater is that there is a large and powerful collection of politicians, pressure groups, agencies, and organizations that have been profiting off of misery for decades, and are determined to retard change in Camden by any means. One major way of doing this is to the prevent the influx of a new voting population who simply will not stand for the nonsense that has gone on here in recent times.

The role that Legal Services has played in the tragedy that is Camden is absolutely shameful, and its doubly compounded as they and their confederates have no shame.... better to keep the misery than to accept change. 

While Legal Services is determined to seen that no one "escapes" Camden, a more interesting comment could be made as to how many of Camden's best and brightest move out, never to return. How many of the students who go on to college from Camden return to make a life here? How many of those who do return, stay, once they have children of school age? How many of the Class of, lets say, 1990, who went on to college, are living and raising there families in Camden in 2006?

Given the facts of the game as it is played in Camden, why should they? Present political conditions in the city have served the "poverty pimps" quite well, the money keeps rolling in. Imagine what would happen in Camden, politically, if 2,000 new voters came in who refused to accept the status quo?

May 31, 2006 

It's been about 9 months since I posted anything to this page. A lot has happened of course in Camden and in the world that I would like to comment about. On much of it I've had to hold my words... in the "politically correct" world of 2006, I have to watch my ass, so to speak. I'm a government worker, and it's pretty obvious that if I exercised my rights to speak freely, SOMEONE would find an excuse to see that I joined the ranks of the unemployed. This I cannot afford at the present time. However, on July 1, 2015 I can retire from my job, and will I ever air it out then!

So many subjects to write about, the world being in turmoil as it is. I'm going to present a thought here that some may find upsetting, and some may find offensive. Don't take it personally.

I know and have known many people who are deeply religious, and they are all right by me. Personally, I find absolutely no comfort in ritual, but I understand that many do. It's a hard world, and I don't begrudge anyone following whatever path they choose to spiritual peace.

On the other hand, a great many of the planet's problems in this day and age can be laid right at the foot of organized religion.... an oxymoron if ever there was one, methinks, but that is another topic. Terrorism, overpopulation, genocide, and human slavery... all conditions that exist on Planet Earth at the moment, and all religious endorsement. Not good at all, no sir!

The problem isn't the "religion" per se, it's the "organized". People are so easily moved by faith. There are so many opportunities for people of low character- political and financial hustlers, and sexual predators to name a few- to use religion as a tool for personal gain. The "charity hustle" I find particularly vile.

This is not a new problem, it has been going on for a LONG time, from the beginning of recorded history, in fact. To prove that however, I am not going to go back that far, rather, I am going to the editorial page of the Camden Courier-Post, on October 21, 1931. The title of the editorial is NO MEANER RACKET. As they say at the poker table, read 'em and weep.



There are certain specimens of homo sapiens of whom it is difficult to speak calmly, men so low in the scale of civilized values that one thinks of them instinctively in reptilian rather than human terms.

Among such men are the charity racketeers.

There is no meaner racket than that which preys upon the generosity of one man toward the need of another.

There is no more despicable trade than that which consists of lying to arouse human sympathy and betray that sympathy for a few coins.

The latest charity racket to be exposed is a typical example.

Collectors were hired by its presiding genius, one Cavalluci, without serious discrimination.

Their divvy was 50 percent. Ten percent was paid the manager of each branch "mission"- what vile mockery!- while the cen­tral office, operated in Philadelphia, managed to worry along with the remaining 40 percent. 

Whether any of this money ever went to the needy no one seems to know.

Certainly none was distributed through the Camden "mission," and the little work that was done consisted of distributing loaves of bread donated by a bakery.

In any event, the amount passed on for actual relief work must have been so small as to be negligible.

Most amazing is the Philadelphia District Attorney's office in its attitude that there are no laws under which prosecution can be brought. That the so-called public protector of a great city should confess helplessness before this obvious racket is an intolerable situation.

The whole scheme is nothing more nor less than a swindle. It must be dealt with as such. Pennsylvania, we hope, will be merci­less in dealing with these vultures who have practiced fraud in the name of charity, at time when charity is a most urgent need.

In olden days the managers of such an enterprise would have been ridden outside town for a coat of tar and feathers. Such salu­tary punishments not being in vogue today, we hope that the equivalent will be dealt out to them without delay. 


August 27, 2005 

This letter was printed in today's Courier-Post. It was, however, heavily edited. I am posting the entire letter. What the Courier printed is in BLUE, and one word that they added is in RED. While I'm quite flattered that the Courier printed the letter, I believe that the editing of it deflects the point that I was trying to establish, that Ms. Sheehan is either a dupe or a willing partner to those who mean America no good. She's either a fool or a traitor.... and judging by her close association with attorney Lynn Stewart, convicted Of Aiding Terrorist Activity on February 10th of this year. Stewart was convicted on conspiracy charges of aiding and abetting terrorism, of defrauding the U.S. government and of violating a government Bureau of Prisons Special Administrative Order (SAM) when she released a press statement from her 1995 client, the Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rachman. For Sheehan to claim that she is a non-partisan is silly. Her record speaks for itself. Her abuse of her son's sacrifice is particularly egregious.

Regarding Cindy Sheehan and her demonstration outside the Bush ranch in Texas, I agree with President Bush's position. Cindy Sheehan appears to be exploiting her son’s death for her own misguided political views. There is precedent for this, it HAS happened before. Joseph Goebbels and his wife murdered their own children at the end of WWII, Jim Jones and David Koresh used the lives of children for a political statement, and most recently, the father of Nicholas Berg in a manner most foul and shameful attempted to blame the beheading of his son by Islamofascist terrorists on the government of the United States.

In a dangerous world, over the last 100 years several hundred thousand sets of parents have lost sons AND daughters in defense of our nation and our way of life. Having lost a son, I can empathize with their grief in a way those who haven't lost children cannot. Grief, however, does not give license to advance one’s politics, grief does not qualify one as an expert in world affairs. Grief does not give one permission to give aid and comfort to the enemies of this country in time of war.  

Sheehan said her piece, and had her moment in the media spotlight... a moment that I will allow that she may have been entitled to. For her, and those who are funding her, to carry on beyond that goes beyond the personal realm to the political one, and must be seen for what it is.

The notion that American citizens would place personal political gain over the national good in time of war is quite disturbing.

During World War II, in Camden County alone, no less than FIVE families lost two sons... in one case twins. Can you (anyone) honestly see President Roosevelt meeting with anyone picketing his home saying, "bring back our boys from the Pacific, the Japanese were entitled to bomb Pearl Harbor, it was all America's fault"? I surely hope that you cannot... but I guarantee you that in 2005 America there are those who can. As the saying goes, "the world will always be full of useful idiots".

Phil Cohen
Camden NJ

July 5, 2005 

This is a letter I wrote to the editor of the Courier-Post late in June, after they got all hot and bothered becasue three legislators from North Jersey stepped in and sued to prevent a needle exchange...make that needle giveaway.... for drug addicts could be started in Camden and Atlantic City- a stupid, valueless, and meritless idea if ever there was one. Where were our local State legislators on this? Obviously NOT protecting you, me, our parents, children, homes, pets, and property. 

Letters to the Editor – Camden Courier-Post- June 30, 2005

Regarding needle-exchange, it is completely erroneous to characterize the legislators who had the guts to stand in the way of a foolish policy as a “small and vocal group” that is “doing a tremendous disservice to the people of their communities”.

They are, rather, courageous defenders of the silent majority of decent, hard-working, NON-CRIMINAL people who live in Atlantic City and Camden, who do not want to see their towns turned into the heroin theme park of South Jersey. They stood up when the those who are supposed to be representing the Camden and Atlantic County constituencies DID NOT, and they should be applauded.

Having lost loved ones to AIDS, I am as sympathetic and aware of the dangers of the disease as anyone else. On the other hand, as one who has lived in Camden since the mid-1970s and raised children here, it is equally if not more important to discourage drug use and to combat criminal behavior by any means necessary.

It’s quite interesting that suburban legislators and a suburban newspaper are quite excited about the prospect of a needle exchange in Camden. If needle exchange is such a good idea, if the motives behind this are so completely altruistic, why not host the needle exchange at the Tavistock Country Club, where they have lots of room. Or at the Echelon mall in Voorhees, badly in need of tenants. The new Cherry Hill Library has lots of room- why not needle exchange at that site? The drug-users could take advantage of the opportunities offered by the library, and perhaps turn a new page in their lives (pun intended).

If as you say, AIDS and other fatal diseases are exacting a terrible toll in impoverished communities in New Jersey, anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity will acknowledge that drug use and criminal behavior have exacted and continue to exact a toll that is far, far worse, a toll that affects not just the immediate victims, but the entire region.

Phil Cohen
Camden NJ

June 16, 2005 

SHAME on the Courier-Post, a once-great (it was a long time ago) newspaper that has exploited the crisis in health care that affects ALL Americans of modest means by framing it in racial term in order to "sex up" the story to boost newspaper sales. The lack of affordable health care affects EVERYONE, and is a serious problem. Nowhere near as serious to American society as a whole as the continued race-baiting for political and economic gain that has the potential to turn America into Bosnia. That the further you go down the economic means scale the less health care one gets is indisputable..... I think that also as a rule affects the number of fur coats and yachts one has, too. That this is a crisis that has nothing to do with race and everything to do with a HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY determined to skim profits off the top of the system is equally indisputable. A little discussed fact... that the Courier and most choose to conveniently ignore.... is that mostly white Appalachia.... the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky... had and has so much poverty and so little infrastructure that the Federal government set up a boatload of programs during the Great Society years in the sixties, including VISTA.... sort of an in-country Peace Corps.. to address the many problems there. Overall, little has changed in Appalachia, just as little changed for the better in the cities. There still are not enough jobs, not enough schools, and not enough doctors to properly serve the population.

The basic rule.... going back I think to the Roman Empire...or perhaps the Sumerians... is "money talks". Not fair or nice, but pretty much universal. That is one fact of life that is not going to go away.

What diseased and disgusting thing has emerged to a greater degree in recent times than in the past however, is the EXPLOITATION of racial and ethnic differences for short-term gain. The Cruz-Perez campaign in Camden did so, and the were horribly wrong for doing so. I believe it was Councilman Jenkins who said after the election that it was time for the healing to begin. I say, that if the Cruz-Perez campaign had been at all responsible and had IN FACT cared at all about the future of the city and and the future of this city's children it would NEVER have taken the route it did. To its credit, the Courier offered some criticism, albeit somewhat muted,  about this during the election. 

You would think however, that a newspaper supposedly dedicated to a high journalistic standard would perform better. The Courier once again has chosen to "sex up" a story to sell newspapers.... and it is simply unacceptable. That the by "spinning racial" in this article resent, distrust and hatred between ethnic groups will only grow is obvious. Shame on the Courier-Post for shortsighted and sleazy behavior, and its complete abandonment of any pretense of concern about the overall civic health of American society..

June 16, 2005 

Congratulation to Mayor Faison on her re-election, and to the members who will serve on City Council. Camden must move forward.... the past and those who have profited from all this misery must NOT be allowed to hold the city back. Camden has a historic chance.... one which certainly won't come again for another 60 years or more. Hopefully, this opportunity will not be squandered.

Due to the nature of my job...I DO need to remain employed, my friends..... I did not comment on the election in Camden prior to the election, the primary, and the run-off. I DO have strong opinions about the future of the city, what got us into the mess we are in, who was and is responsible, and what the best course and courses of action are for fixing it. Suffice to say that many of them are at odds with the Courier-Post's coverage and a few of them are politically incorrect.

If memory serves, one of the re-elected council members said something to the effect of let the healing begin. Frankly, that takes a lot of nerve... considering that 95% of the hating and 98% of the harm came from that slate.

April 22, 2005 

In today's Courier-Post 'Letters to the Editor' section . . .

Camden Is...

What is Camden?" (letters, April 19).

The writer of that letter was a teacher at Woodrow Wilson High School who lives in Newtown Square, Pa. He asserts that Camden is a "giant feeding trough," where a few villains profit and no one speaks for "the people," who are defined as being "the children, the old, the impoverished and the disabled."

As one who has lived in the city since the mid-1970s, worked and raised two sons who are drug-free, crime-free, in school or working and with no children born out of wedlock, I, in the spirit of education, would like to answer the question, "What is Camden?"

Camden - the real Camden, not the urban decay movie set - is working families, homeowners and small business owners. Camden is, and always has been, diversity in action - a multi-ethnic city that has always been enhanced by people coming to this country to partake in the American dream. Camden is civil servants and school teachers, mothers and mechanics, bartenders and barbers, secretaries and shopkeepers. Camden is a city of tens of thousands of decent people whose reputation is smeared by the actions of several hundred knuckleheads who, in a less permissive age, would have been shown the error of their ways in an effective and expeditious manner.

Camden is where my heart and the hearts of thousands of residents and ex-residents live. Camden is far from the most dangerous city in America, but it is arguably the most loved.

If anyone is interested, drop me a note via e-mail and I'll send you the original letter, as they left a few things out!

From Letters to the Editor -  Courier-Post, April 20, 2005.

I don't know who Joe Walker is, but he sure pointed out things for what they are.- Phil

Re: "Baltimore should be a model for Cramer Hill" (editorial, April 11).

You mentioned that Baltimore's budget for relocation includes charitable grants. I have not seen any of these organizations come forward to assist Camden.

I believe the city would like to replace the current residents with "higher quality" ones who do not bring poverty, crime and apathy to their neighborhoods. You almost cannot blame Camden.

However, you should not treat people in this manner unless you want to repeat the integration problems of the 1950s and 1960s in reverse. Camden needs this last best chance of revival so it will no longer be a ward of the state. I assume merger with the surrounding suburbs is not an option.

It is in everyone's best interest to make this redevelopment a reality.


April 21, 2005 

One person shot to death at Ablett Village, and another is in serious condition. OK, this is America in 2005, lets play Find Someone To Blame. In this case finding the Blamee is a lead pipe cinch.

A couple of years ago, HUD, the federal agency which sets rules and policies for public housing projects like Ablett Village, instituted a one-strike policy concerning drug offenses. The policy is if any family member is convicted of a drug offense during the term of the lease, the entire household is evicted, and must leave public housing. As public housing is a very limited resource with a long waiting list of families who could use the unit, this is a good thing, and the public has a right to demand lawful behavior from those who live in publicly owned housing projects. While this may sound harsh, this rule is necessary to ensure responsible behavior, and to deter inactive tolerance of and inactive participation is criminal behavior.

Needless to say, those “defenders of the people” South Jersey Regional Legal Services, popularly known as Legal Aid, continue to fight the Housing Authority of the City of Camden tooth and nail on this issue. Every time the Authority tries to better conditions in the projects by getting drug dealers out of them, SJRLS steps in to keep the drug dealers in. I don't know who they think they are protecting, I DO know that it SJRLS is NOT acting in the best interests of the residents of Ablett Village, Branch Village, Roosevelt Manor in particular, not to mention law-abiding people in the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

So let’s draw a straight line. Drug dealers are in the projects. South Jersey Regional Legal Services fights to keep households of convicted drug dealers IN the projects. Today, one person is dead and another is possibly on the way out. If there is blood on the hands of anyone in this tragedy it would be that of Olga Pomar and David Rampler of SJRLS, who by opposing the one-strike rule are actively promoting a sheltered environment to promote drug dealing within public housing projects. Undoubtedly if the management of Ablett Village would be allowed to evict families with convicted drug dealers, there would be less drug dealing there, and  perhaps this tragedy would not have taken place.

From Letters to the Editor -  Courier-Post, April 20, 2005.

I don't know who Joe Walker is, but he sure pointed out things for what they are.- Phil

Re: "Baltimore should be a model for Cramer Hill" (editorial, April 11).

You mentioned that Baltimore's budget for relocation includes charitable grants. I have not seen any of these organizations come forward to assist Camden.

I believe the city would like to replace the current residents with "higher quality" ones who do not bring poverty, crime and apathy to their neighborhoods. You almost cannot blame Camden.

However, you should not treat people in this manner unless you want to repeat the integration problems of the 1950s and 1960s in reverse. Camden needs this last best chance of revival so it will no longer be a ward of the state. I assume merger with the surrounding suburbs is not an option.

It is in everyone's best interest to make this redevelopment a reality.


April 11, 2005

With all the noise in the Courier-Post about how "the people".... and I am 90,000% sure it is a SMALL minority of people who actually live, WORK, and PAY TAXES in Camden, are upset and oppose the redevelopment that hopefully will take place, I thought I would tell the truth about who the winners will be if redevelopment, and especially the redevelopment in Cramer Hill, Bergen Lanning, and South Camden is stopped.

First and foremost, let's get out the dirty little secret that the so-called "million dollar drug economy" in Camden doesn't hold a candle to the "million dollar social services" economy which the real leaches and parasites depend on. Fix Camden and a lot of so-called activists would lose their meal tickets.... and let's get real, a meal ticket is what it has become.

In the old 8th Ward (the neighborhood centered around Broadway and Ferry Avenues), in North Camden, and in the court system in Camden, the same groups and individuals have been in place since the 1970s, running their programs, performing before the media, soliciting money, and so on. The only "empowering" ever done by these groups and individuals is to give people in the neighborhood the sense that they are helpless victims of a grand conspiracy, and that the "activists" are their saviors. It's very much like the movie Undercover Brother. Needless to say, in the 30-plus years this con game has been going on, things have not improved a whole lot in either neighborhood..... but OF COURSE that's not the fault of the activists, it's ALWAYS someone else's fault. There is always a cry for "social justice", which can usually be translated to more money.

A great many people profit off of misery in Camden, but mark my words, they are NOT who you think they are, for the most part. The blame in recent years has is given to George Norcross, Randy Primas, and Wayne Bryant. Assuming that was so, where is the proof? With the exception of Wayne Bryant, show me a conflict of interest or ANYTHING that would hold up in court. Show me the proof.... better yet, SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!

On the other hand, one can easily find out exactly how much taxpayer money has been given over the years to among others, Camden Regional Legal Services, Heart of Camden, North Camden Land Trust, and the once-great Camden Rescue Mission. One could easily find out how much real property is held... the track record is there. One could pretty easily figure out the effect on law-abiding, tax-paying, and child-rearing families that the activities of these parties have when they "empower" the addicted, the criminal, and the vagrant to remain where they are, doing what they do, neighbors be damned. Once law-breaking was encouraged in the name of civil disobedience. Today drug-dealers and pan-handlers own our streets. Many people who could leave the city did so. Of all this, who has profited? If Camden is redeveloped, who REALLY stands to lose? 

The answer to the question of who stands to lose if Camden is redeveloped is those who have made a career out of "urban misery". If things are so bad in Camden, why are these people fighting tooth and nail, using lies, half-truths, and innuendo, to preserve the status quo? If things are SO BAD..... why are these groups and individuals determined to keep things as they are? If those "on the ground and in the trenches revolutionaries" haven't solved the problem in all this time, maybe it is because the "solutions" they have simply don't hold water?

Teach a man to fish, he can feed himself. Teach a man to beg.... teach a man or a child for that matter, to be dependent.... teach that all of ones problems are the fault of someone else..... and you have crippled someone. Those who have encouraged laziness and provided excuses have injured children and adults as much or more as if they had molested them. 

Camden is a very sick patient in 2005. The patient is on the operating table, and let's get real, there is only one shot at saving the patient. The city is bleeding, not blood or money, but human capital.... intelligence, integrity, and ambition.... and unless the drastic surgery that is needed is performed..... unless the CANCER that has taken over much of the patient is cut out completely, the patient.... our Camden.... will never recover. 

April 7, 2005

I took down a picture of a 110 or so year old stapler, as someone who claimed to be the owner threw a tantrum. Now this stapler is on record as a patented invention, which means that images, drawings, blueprints and so on are available for free from the U.S. Patent Office, and the tantrum thrower is not apparently  the inventor himself, but a "for-profit" site. No fear, I will find another image.

There perhaps are two types of people who create websites. Those who seek to enlighten, inform, and share..... and those who seek to exploit and turn a fast buck. That being said, here is a bit of policy, as it were:

No man owns history, therefore you should feel free to use anything in this web site for any purpose you see fit. The only important thing is that knowledge be preserved, made accessible,  and passed down to future generations. This site is not for profit and proud of it, for to claim title to and profit from the actions of those long gone seems to, at best, bogus, and at worst, immoral. If left to the greedy, there would be no public domain- Constitution and the Bible would be the property of an individual, institution, or corporation. -- Phil Cohen

March 31, 2005

Another "news" article about Camden. I sure get tired of this media crap, so I thought I'd write a piece on the subject myself


It Must Be Spring

 It must be spring, so it’s time for another “news” organization to milk the Camden cow once again, as Reuters (isn’t that the French word for hearsay?) has just released the Bi-annual Urban Despair in Camden NJ article for the spring of 2005. They have to have a schedule for this stuff…. Or maybe not.

Imagine this scenario at the Daily Planet. Our crusading editor, imagine the J.J. Jameson character from Spiderman, or, if you are a Superman fan, Perry White, at his desk, when the phone rings.


White: Daily Planet, White here, what is it?

Voice: This is Whipple downstairs, we’re ready to go to press,
            but it’s just come over the wire, Terri Schiavo has died.

White: Great Caesar’s Ghost, that’s terrible.

Whipple: Yes, it must be very hard on her family and…

White: No not that, you simpering idiot. We have to get a paper
            out, and our lead story just died.


White slams down the phone, then picks the receiver back up


White: Get me the News Room!

Voice: News Room here.

White: Send Clark Kent and Lois Lane to me right now, and that
            Olsen kid, too.

Voice: Uh, Boss, they’re not here.

White: Not there! Where ARE they?

Voice: They’re in Trenton covering the Attorney General’s 
            release of all the pay-to-play documents.

White: Hmmm, they may never get back from that. Well then, who’s

Voice: Well, boss just the other two guys.

White: Woodward and Bernstein?

Voice: No, the other two guys.

White: Abbot and Costello?

Voice: No, Boss, the other, other two guys.

White: Oh you mean...

Voice: Yeah, Boss

White: Well then. It is Camden, they’re perfect. Tell Al and
           Jazeerah to get right down to Camden and bring me a story.

      And don’t forget to tell them to keep it fair and
           balanced... and for crying out loud tell both of them to
           take their Xanax this time.


White puts down the receiver, wipes his brow and speaks, to the four walls of his empty office.


White: Thank heaven for Camden. Always there for us (to kick)
            when we need them.


Ok, folks, that was, albeit politically incorrect, plausible and perhaps some might find it funny. There is, of course one little problem with all of this, however…. Isn’t there always?


This attitude about Our Town is NOT FUNNY at all to those of us who live, work, raise families, pay taxes, and live quiet and productive lives here, and that is most of us. Like any other family, we can bicker and fight among our selves…. and, come to think of it, like a lot of American families occasionally shoot each other, but it’s another thing for a stranger to come in and spit on us in our own house.

The Reuters article is not news, not anywhere near an accurate reporting of what life in this city is, and not helpful to anyone. Full of distortion and exaggeration, it is yellow journalism, sensationalism, and a smear on a good although far, far, far from perfect city. It is shameful.

Am I angry?


Should I be?

Hell, Yes….. and so should we all

March 28, 2005

I can't believe five months have passed since I added a few comments here. So much has happened, locally, nationally, and internationally that deserve attention. I have done some writing during this time, maybe I'll go back and pull a few things out to post here.

I read Courier-Post columnist Kevin Riordan's most recent article this morning, noting the passing of Rebecca Somerville-Wortham, an African-American woman from North Carolina who, after coming to Camden in 1920, played a similar role to that of Antonio Mecca, in that she helped other newcomers from the South adjust to life in this city of ours. 

With ethnic tensions among the youth of East Camden rising to a level not seen in many, many years, I thought a few history-based comments might be appropriate, so I sent Kevin the letter below this morning:.

Dear Kevin,

 I'm glad you have made mention of the Black migration north that took place after WWI. While Camden has had an African-American presence since Revolutionary War Times, the fact of the matter is that when the Census was taken in January of 1920, Blacks made up about 7% of the city's population, and about 3-1/2% of that of New Jersey as a whole.

Perhaps if this was told to our children today, that as far as Camden is concerned, EVERYONE is an immigrant, there would perhaps be less tension between the more established ethnic groups and the newcomers. Often times instead of relaying that which actually happened and that which can be documented, history is taught to our youth using the "select (or invent) the facts that fit the ideology" method.      

I think a very good argument can be made that one of the reason Camden was and remains so magical to so many is that there were so many different ethnic groups, none having the numbers to dominate the city, but most having enough people to impact on the city's ambience.          

With SO MANY different ethnicities crammed into such a small place, a certain degree of cooperation had to be exercised, no matter what the personal feelings of those involved. Urban Legend states that Centerville was all Black, Parkside all Jewish, Whitman Park all Polish, South Camden all Italian. This simply was not true. An examination of census records, publicly available for 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 reveal hardly a block anywhere in the city that was "all anything".          

That unquestionable fact is NOT taught, and with a strong emphasis, in the schools of our city is a tragedy. When "ethnic pride" is emphasized over "civic responsibility" a certain degree of Balkanization is inevitable, which was seen at Woodrow Wilson this month. This Balkanization DID NOT happen in past times, and we even had people fresh from the Balkans here in the city! 

October 27, 2004

“Would you like to write a history of Camden in 1000 words, with emphasis on Business History (then to now), Art and Culture, and Institutional (the establishment of the hospitals and universities)?”

Cooperative soul that I am, I said yes, but once given thought as to how to describe everything that has happened in our fair city in 10,000 words, let alone 1,000 would be akin to stuffing eight great tomatoes in the little bitty can. One might get tomato paste, but there’s not much left that resembles a tomato.

That being said, the story of Camden, from its early days as the village by Mr. Cooper’s ferry, through is incorporation as a township, then as a city, then actually becoming a city, and its “golden age of industry”, and through its long and slow decline and bottoming out, to the rebirth and revitalization of today is a story where several themes constantly assert themselves, oftentimes in positive ways, and occasionally to the negative. I do not believe you can either tell the story or understand the city without  understanding what made this town, in a sense un-made it, and is rebuilding it today. These themes are Location, Transportation, Technology, Vision, and Civic Spirit.

Location gave birth to the city. The happy accident that William Penn put roots down on the other side of the Delaware made a ferry service necessary for those farmers and tradesmen who resided on the Jersey side. Camden and its environs was a fairly sleepy place until Technology and Transportation came calling, with the blessing of the steam ferry and more importantly, the railroad. Camden, then as now was the logical gateway from Philadelphia to New York City, and it was not long before rail lines were established along paths that are still utilized today. The railroad bridge over the Cooper River at Federal Street, and the right-of-way utilized by the PATCO High Speed Line were established far back into the 1800s.

With rail transport, several ferries operating simultaneously to Philadelphia, and the capacity for unloading the sea cargos of the day, Camden was in the right Location, and when men with vision embraced the new technologies of the day, Camden was THE place to be. It was by no mere accident that so many large industries, so many companies whose names are still known or are still in use today were in Camden. They were here not because their founders were natives of the city- they came here because like the Silicon Valley of our times, Camden was the place to make your vision happen. Time and again, name after name, company after company- Joseph Campbell and his chemist John Dorrance CAME here; steam heating manufacturer Warren Webster CAME here; Eldridge Johnson of the Victor Talking Machine Company CAME here; the Kinds, founders of the Kind & Knox Gelatin business CAME here- and, in the ultimate irony, the New York Shipbuilding Corporation was not in New York, but in Camden NJ. This story is repeated time and again, with large companies and small businesses, people with an idea and a vision of a better tomorrow coming to Camden to make those dreams reality.

That brings us to perhaps the greatest example of belief in the future of all, and that is the immigrant. As these United States are one Nation comprised mostly of immigrants, people have been coming to Camden since before there was a Camden to come to….. and before I go any further, in the days before the automobile, if you came to Camden from another state or part of the country, you may as well have been an immigrant; the cultural atmosphere being far less homogenous than today.

Wave after wave of new people came to this small place, our Camden, bringing new ideas, new languages, new cultures and religions, and with few exceptions, living peacefully with the neighbors who themselves had only arrived a bit earlier. From the mostly English Quakers who were here at the time of the Revolution were added Irish and German immigrants in the mid-19th century. Italians arrived in the 1880s, joined soon by Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, and other nationalities from Eastern Europe in the 1890s and 1900s. A large group came from Newfoundland to work in the shipyards, and there were smaller Greek and Armenian communities. The relatively small Black community was greatly augmented after World War I by a migration from the Southern states, primarily from Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. There were a very few Chinese families in town as well. During World War II labor shortages caused farmers and industries alike to recruit workers from Puerto Rico and Jamaica. All came, all mixed into the Camden stew to greater or lesser degrees, all contributed to the energy that filled this place. 

That was the Camden of the period of roughly 100 years, from the end of the Civil War to the very early 1950s. Location, Transportation, Technology, and People- so much happened in this small place that it would take many volumes to record it all. Let it suffice to say that whatever the endeavor, be it the arts or sports, war or diplomacy, entertainment or invention, politics or the professions, industry or espionage…. Camden or someone from Camden played a major role.

Much of what made Camden great contributed to its undoing. The automobile arrived and with it came the highway, and eventually the bridge over the Delaware, making living in the city optional for those who could afford it. When the bridge was built through Camden in the early 1920s, it destroyed an entire neighborhood full of professionals and small businessman, and placed the backyards of mansions on Cooper Street next to a noisy highway. Those people fled to the suburbs, and with it, their talents and energies for things civic in nature. When Henry Ford made the automobile affordable to many working families, even more left.

At the end of World War II technology, trade policy, and government policy combined to deal body blow after body blow to the city. Television and federal mortgage rules played a great part in making suburban life attractive. One by one industries that employed Camden workers for decades disappeared. Soon there was no more textile industry, no more leather industry, no radio factory, no furniture factory, no pen companies, no shipyards, and in time what no one ever believed could happen, no more Campbell’s Soup. All Camden was left with was its location and its people…. and for a time, those of us who lived here found it easy to believe that no one wanted either. Still, what never died, what was handed down from generation to generation, like a precious gift was the “I’m from Camden attitude”, and that is altogether a good thing.

Camden is changing once again, as a new wave of immigrants, this time from Asia, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and even suburban America (often considered a foreign country) are changing the face of the city once again. New languages are heard, new music played, and new restaurants and groceries open. As before, time passes, and the prejudices and suspicions of elders are erased by schoolyard friendships. Camden continues.

You may have noticed that I had not addressed the theme of civic-minded people and of the hospitals and universities. Camden was blessed with more than its share of remarkable men and women during the growth years. These people gave of their time, their wealth, their lands and their estates to the city with little or no thought of personal gain or recompense. Try to find a local school board upon which sat the president of a nationally known shipyard today. Camden had that, and the story repeats itself endlessly.

The story of the hospitals is typical of this. The need was felt, doctors and leading citizens responded to the call, and one of the city’s founding families, the Coopers, gave land and money to build a hospital. The West Jersey Hospital had similar humble beginnings- doctors practicing homeopathic medicine starting with a small clinic which grew to the large facility that is on Mount Ephraim and Atlantic Avenues. The internationally known Coriell Institute is a direct descendant of Camden’s own Municipal Hospital, a city owned and operated facility. Camden at one time had two homes for destitute and orphaned children; these institutions were founded locally, by men and women who felt a responsibility to make things better. To a great extent the social fabric of the city was colored by that shade, as the many civic and fraternal groups that existed here would strive together for the common good. When a call came to erect a publicly owned hotel (the Walt Whitman Hotel that stood at Broadway and Cooper Streets for so many years), well over 150 businessmen took the responsibility to raise funds, and every group and corner of the city took part. The monies for the project were raised in short order. 

Higher education in Camden, with the exception of the South Jersey School of Law and the Camden campus of Rutgers University. The South Jersey School of Law, from its early graduating classes in the 1930s, trained men and women who would play major roles in Camden city and county courts over the years. Its faculty in those years was comprised of many of the greatest lawyers in the region of the time; for it was common practice for lawyers give back by teaching law. Rutgers University’s presence in Camden has grown over the years, another wonderful thing, as now New Jersey’s best and brightest can either stay home or come to Camden and see first hand what the city has to offer. In more recent times Camden County College, the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Rowan University have established facilities in the city.

September 15, 2004


"Leave it to the coward to make a religion of his cowardice by preaching humility" George Bernard Shaw

Today's Courier-Post ran an editorial entitled "Calming Camden fears needs to be a priority", which finally touched very briefly on the disinformation campaign being waged to stall.... make that sabotage.... Camden's redevelopment and renewal. I sent the following article of my own to the Courier-Post..... I seriously doubt that they will print it. Here on the Internet, however, one CAN have a voice, can have a say.... and here is my take on things as they stand today in Camden.

The Courier-Post editorial of September 15, 2004 concerning the need to calm the fears of residents in Camden concerning redevelopment revealed two facts; first, that groups have been formed to oppose further redevelopment in Camden; and secondly, that residents in Cramer Hill are being given false information concerning the compensation for their properties.

            The very sad, and very under-publicized fact is that there are MANY individuals and organization who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. That’s right Virginia, there are a whole slew of people who have profited and continue to profit on keeping Camden poor, uneducated, uninvolved, and in fear.

            Heaven forbid the town ever recover! The social services industry, which may be the Camden’s largest employer, and what a sad comment that is, would dry up or have to relocate themselves. Imagine the unimaginable in Camden, a city with thousands of educated and informed voters who demand better services and an end to political patronage. Imagine…. and this is my greatest hope for Camden….. a town with true diversity, and not the “my-versity “ that has too often been stated, and never criticized for fear of being called politically incorrect.

            The city where I have lived in, worked in, and love since the mid-1970s has an historic opportunity to change for the better, and there is room for every individual and family who is willing to be a part of that change to benefit from it. However, than can be there no compromise, no lessoning of the vision that Camden will NOT remain the economic ghetto, that Camden will NOT be the place where other municipalities send their undesirables, that Camden will be less stringent in the enforcement of laws and statutes, and that Camden schools will have lower standards for its students than other school systems.

            To make this happen, hard choices have to be made. Mr. Primas and Mr. De among others have been and will be criticized, and some of the things I have heard stated about them are unprintable. I applaud their courage in standing fast in the efforts to improve our City, while others carp and seek to preserve their fiefdoms.

            One example of all this is worth noting. It is so revealing, that in a town that has been so ravaged by drugs and drug- related crime, that the idea of a needle exchange could gain any traction. While in no way would I ever diminish the seriousness of the AIDS virus, turning Camden into a Heroin Addicts Theme Park is not the answer. Anyone with an ounce of reason would tell you that if the clean needles are here, those dealing the drugs will be here to fill those needles. There can be no tolerance of criminal behavior in Camden, and if this is such an important issue, open up the needle exchange at the Tavistock Country Club. The truly important point in all this, is that outside of the few-and-far-between who are genuinely moved by conscience is why anyone who is supposedly responsible for bettering the city would endorse this notion in the first place. Those, however, who would have the Camden of the future remain just as it has been, would.

            Over the past 176 years, the economic and ethnic makeup of Camden has changed many times over, and it is still in flux today, as it should be. Those who claim a right to ethnic exclusivity “because we have been here” are no more right than some Camden residents were 40-50 years ago, no more right than the segregationists in the pre-Civil Rights era South, and no more right than the practitioners of apartheid in South Africa were. I do not believe that giving a “free pass” to those who publicly advocate such positions is in the public interest either.

            In conclusion, change in Camden must come, and for the honest, hard-working, and long-suffering residents of our fair city, it cannot get here fast enough. Change for the city means change in behavior for some of us who live here, and for many, such change would be a very positive thing. Change however, for the slumlords, poverty pimps, professionally poor, and other public leaches may not be to their individual benefit or liking, but surely would be of benefit to the rest of us.




September 15, 2004


"Leave it to the coward to make a religion of his cowardice by preaching humility" George Bernard Shaw

Today's Courier-Post ran an editorial entitled "Calming Camden fears needs to be a priority", which finally touched very briefly on the disinformation campaign being waged to stall.... make that sabotage.... Camden's redevelopment and renewal. I sent the following article of my own to the Courier-Post..... I seriously doubt that they will print it. Here on the Internet, however, one CAN have a voice, can have a say.... and here is my take on things as they stand today in Camden.

The Courier-Post editorial of September 15, 2004 concerning the need to calm the fears of residents in Camden concerning redevelopment revealed two facts; first, that groups have been formed to oppose further redevelopment in Camden; and secondly, that residents in Cramer Hill are being given false information concerning the compensation for their properties.

            The very sad, and very under-publicized fact is that there are MANY individuals and organization who have a vested interest in preserving the status quo. That’s right Virginia, there are a whole slew of people who have profited and continue to profit on keeping Camden poor, uneducated, uninvolved, and in fear.

            Heaven forbid the town ever recover! The social services industry, which may be the Camden’s largest employer, and what a sad comment that is, would dry up or have to relocate themselves. Imagine the unimaginable in Camden, a city with thousands of educated and informed voters who demand better services and an end to political patronage. Imagine…. and this is my greatest hope for Camden….. a town with true diversity, and not the “my-versity “ that has too often been stated, and never criticized for fear of being called politically incorrect.

            The city where I have lived in, worked in, and love since the mid-1970s has an historic opportunity to change for the better, and there is room for every individual and family who is willing to be a part of that change to benefit from it. However, than can be there no compromise, no lessoning of the vision that Camden will NOT remain the economic ghetto, that Camden will NOT be the place where other municipalities send their undesirables, that Camden will be less stringent in the enforcement of laws and statutes, and that Camden schools will have lower standards for its students than other school systems.

            To make this happen, hard choices have to be made. Mr. Primas and Mr. De among others have been and will be criticized, and some of the things I have heard stated about them are unprintable. I applaud their courage in standing fast in the efforts to improve our City, while others carp and seek to preserve their fiefdoms.

            One example of all this is worth noting. It is so revealing, that in a town that has been so ravaged by drugs and drug- related crime, that the idea of a needle exchange could gain any traction. While in no way would I ever diminish the seriousness of the AIDS virus, turning Camden into a Heroin Addicts Theme Park is not the answer. Anyone with an ounce of reason would tell you that if the clean needles are here, those dealing the drugs will be here to fill those needles. There can be no tolerance of criminal behavior in Camden, and if this is such an important issue, open up the needle exchange at the Tavistock Country Club. The truly important point in all this, is that outside of the few-and-far-between who are genuinely moved by conscience is why anyone who is supposedly responsible for bettering the city would endorse this notion in the first place. Those, however, who would have the Camden of the future remain just as it has been, would.

            Over the past 176 years, the economic and ethnic makeup of Camden has changed many times over, and it is still in flux today, as it should be. Those who claim a right to ethnic exclusivity “because we have been here” are no more right than some Camden residents were 40-50 years ago, no more right than the segregationists in the pre-Civil Rights era South, and no more right than the practitioners of apartheid in South Africa were. I do not believe that giving a “free pass” to those who publicly advocate such positions is in the public interest either.

            In conclusion, change in Camden must come, and for the honest, hard-working, and long-suffering residents of our fair city, it cannot get here fast enough. Change for the city means change in behavior for some of us who live here, and for many, such change would be a very positive thing. Change however, for the slumlords, poverty pimps, professionally poor, and other public leaches may not be to their individual benefit or liking, but surely would be of benefit to the rest of us.



June 3, 2004


"Oh, I know it's a penny here and a penny there, but look at me. I worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty." --Groucho Marx

I'm back after a month hiatus. I had for mental health reasons to lose some weight. Would you believe I lost 185 lbs. of useless dead weight without dieting, exercise, or liposuction? I certainly did, and now that my divorce is finalized..... (will he really say it?).... I can eat anything I want.

For those of you who like to read between the lines, I'm allergic to sausage.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, and everyone is thoroughly confused, on with the show!

I was thinking.... always a dangerous time...... Shouldn't a suppository be a building where people go to make  suppositions?
      Seems pretty obvious to me.

In fact, I'm so moved that I've decided that, when I hit the $181,000,000 powerball lottery, to endow a college or university... .... preferably Whatsamatta U..... ....with enough money to open a new School of Philosophy and Animal Husbandry.

The building of course will be sort of rounded in an art deco style, and will be forever known as (drumroll, please)

The Phillip M. Cohen Memorial Suppository

where easily influenced young minds come to learn Philosophy and Animal Husbandry so that America will never lack for people schooled in the science of creating high quality, certified, homegrown, All-American, look-for-the-union-label bullshit!!!



May 1, 2004


"Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it." --John Adams


I was asked what dirt did I have on the chicken plant on Camden. Why should I complain when all of those "concerned citizens" utter nary a peep.... pun intended. So here it is, right off the Sierra Club website: 

The Rap: Lambersky Fined $210,000 For Selling Mislabeled Poultry, Filing False Corporate Tax Return, Plant Recalls Approximately 200,000 Pounds Of Potentially Contaminated Meat
Company: Jack Lambersky Poultry Company
Location: Camden, New Jersey


Jack Lambersky owns and operates a poultry processing plant in Camden, New Jersey known as Jack Lambersky Poultry Company.

In 2002, the facility recalled approximately 200,000 pounds of ready-to-eat meat products which were suspected to be contaminated with the potentially deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled meat was market under such well known names as Hatfield and Rockland and had been distributed to stores and institutions nationwide. This recall occurred as part of an investigation by the Center for Disease Control and Food Safety and Inspection Service into a Listeria outbreak which sickened 50 people and resulted in seven deaths in eight northeastern states. Along with the recall, the plant suspended operations until further testing of the facility could occur.

In March 1998, USDA announced that Jack Lambersky pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor of selling mislabeled poultry products and was fined $10,000. In November 1997, his company entered a plea agreement and was fined $200,000 for falsely representing the amount of water-based solution that had been added to 10,000 pounds of poultry products, and for the felonious failure to report $80,000 in income.

Source: As reported in documents in the files of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

So, Mr. and Mrs. North America and all the Ships at Sea, I'm asking you this simple question: Why have the "activists" who claim to represent the people who live near Broadway & Ferry Avenue silent when it comes to criticizing a repeat offender, one found to be the source of  "potentially deadly bacteria"? Has money changed hands? Has Lambersky paid for their silence voluntarily, or has was he a victim of extortion, i.e., the old "protection" racket..... make your donation to our association, and we'll make sure that nothing bad happens to you. It would not be the first time that this has happened. 

Lie once, and your word is in doubt. Lie repeatedly and any claim to a moral high ground is forever lost. When it comes to the subject of pollution in South Camden, there is no argument that it exists. There is plenty to debate as to the type, the source, and what is to be done about it.

I would put to you that the stench emitted in the form of moral pollution, and the long-term damage to people, both by creating artificial divisions and more importantly, by creating a false sense of entitlement, a false sense of being "owed something" may in the long run be more damaging than what comes out a smokestack, tailpipe, or sewer. Cleaning up this intentionally spread environmental disaster.... because a poisoned mindset has to be as damaging to the community as anything else.... radiation included... may in some cases be impossible.  

One can clean up an environmental mess. Cleaning up polluted minds is a far more difficult task. What Heart of Camden and Camden Rescue Mission are doing, by spreading lies and inciting fear is akin to what Hitler did to the youth of Germany during his reign. Poisoning minds..... now that is foul.   



April 28, 2004


"Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action." --Goethe


            There are a lot of more or less scared people in Cramer Hill these days. Change is coming, necessary changer mind you..... I don't think anyone with an ounce of honesty would say that things should stay the same. As I've said before, there are those with an interest in the status quo, and a lot of fear-mongering has been done, and will be done. One man is already running for Mayor, with a platform seemingly based on the politics of fear. Sad, very sad....especially now, when there is SO MUCH to be glad about in Camden.


             Let me take a minute and talk about the word Ghetto. As originally defined, a ghetto was a section of a city, separated from the rest of the population by walls, designed to keep "undesirable" people in. In 2004 Camden, there are those who would prefer to keep the ghetto, to keep the walls up, and to keep the world out. For reasons that range from fear and ignorance to greed and prejudice, a lot of stuff has been shoveled and the world I'm thinking of for stuff sure isn't coal.

             In today's Courier-Post, the following was written: 


What residents seem to envision are athletic fields or other public uses. Jose Delgado, a resident, said, "Part of the problem to us, is that a golf course is just culturally alien to us."


            There also was an assertion printed in the Courier in recent weeks, as if it were a statement of fact that "Nobody has a boat in Camden".


            I would put forth that those arguments are no more appropriate in 2004 Camden than they were in 1964 Mississippi, or at any other time for that matter. So let me clear the air.... in the same manner as I cleared the air in South Camden..... it still smells bad, but now at least you know where the smell is coming from!


Fact Number 1> There has been a boating club in Cramer Hill for almost 100 years. There marina is located at the foot of 26th Street, west of Harrison Street, right on the Delaware. Most of the membership was raised in Cramer Hill, a great many members still live there.


Fact Number 2> Golf, a sport which personally has absolutely no attraction to me (no bench-clearing brawls or half-naked cheerleaders!), is a sport played world-wide, and there have been champion golfers from many different countries and ethnic background, including a fellow in recent times from Spain named Ballesteros. Obviously Tiger Woods and Lee Elder before him show the sport has support in the African-American community. Golf has been broadcast on national network in America for at least 40 years, and there is even a Golf Channel on Cable TV. I would say that golf perhaps is less culturally alien to America than a panaderia. Both obviously have a place in 2004 America.... and both have a place in Camden.


      This whole argument, of course, is sheer nonsense, really. The walls of the ghetto, be they brick or in the mind, be they meant to keep people in or to keep people out, must come down. 

      What has not been said, an NEEDS to be said, is that people who live in other Camden neighborhoods... I live in East Camden.... have a stake in what happens in Cramer Hill and in the South Camden neighborhood at Broadway & Ferry Avenue. A lack of progress, a caving in to special interests and those who simply are self-interested, will destroy the last and best chance that Camden has of ever escaping the status of de facto economic ghetto which it has become.                      

The Right to Defend Home and Property

Last night, a man named RObert J. Clark Jr., whose home had been burglarized only none months previously, and whose neighbors had also suffered, with no relief given by local authorities, a string of burglaries and property thefts, caught two criminals who had broken into a shed on his property. The thieves had already removed an all-terrain-vehicle from the shed. When Clark yelled "Freeze" one of the criminals pointed at him, and Clark, rightfully so, fired on him, killing him. For this HEROIC act, Robert J. Clark Jr. has been charged with murder by the Gloucester County prosecutor, Sean Dalton.

For Sean Dalton to say that Mr. Clark had options other than to protect his person, home, and property is ludicrous, in light of the fact that law enforcement in Gloucester County had been unable to protect his and his neighbor's property. Somehow I seriously doubt there has been a detective working part-time, let alone full time, on the previous burglary to Mr. Clark's home.

Dalton states that Clark should have called the police. This, in light of the fact that no help had been made given Clark or his neighbors previously, is utter nonsense, and I will demonstrate why.

A very good question to ask is how long it would have taken for the Franklin Township police to respond to a 911 from Clark. This, by the way, is information that any good citizen with a car and a stop-watch could probably figure out. 

With this in mind, dear friends, I will list a few response times, and the probable outcomes, barring of course, the possibility that these are non-ambulatory criminals, i.e., burglars on crutches.


If the Response Time is The Outcome is:
2 minutes The criminals might be gone
5 minutes The criminals  would be gone
10 minutes Save your cell-phone minutes, the criminals, and your property are long gone
15 minutes Why bother locking your door? A thief has been in your house, through your possessions, is back out his car, and is a mile or two away
20 minutes Why call the police. You may as well haul your stuff out to the curb and say come and get it.

         Another question, the answer to which I GUARANTEE that criminals know is this:

How many officers are on duty AND ABLE TO RESPOND TO A CALL in Franklin at that time of night?

      If there is ONE OFFICER on the street..... and he is already responding to a call, or is in the bathroom, or is involved in a traffic stop..... then there is IN FACT no police protection. The officer sitting in the police station DOES NOT apply.... by the time he gets out the door, into the car, and out of the parking lot, the perpetrators are gone.

       If, as it appears, criminals understand that there is inadequate police protection, then there is no DETERRENT to crime. If we criminalize the victim, all we do is enrich an obviously self-serving judicial system, and worse, send a message to the scum of the earth that it is open season on honest citizens.

       One more thought..... if you aren't a burglar, then there is nothing to fear from Robert J. Clark's Law. As I and I sure hope you don't make a habit of breaking into other people's sheds in the dead of night, we have a greater chance of getting lost in the Bermuda Triangle then being shot by an angry person defending his or her home. 

       To those who would argue that the burglars have rights, I would say while they are in the commission of a crime they have no rights, when they place themselves outside of the law, they place themselves beyond the protection of the law. I would also say to those poor worried individuals that if they are so concerned about the burglars, ADOPT them! That's right, bring the criminals home, feed them, and let them sleep on the couch, AND be legally responsible for their actions. If you want to protect a criminal, than you might as well be held as an accomplice. In the cases of drug addiction or alcoholism, addicts (and criminals) need enablers. LETS HOLD THE ENABLERS RESPONSIBLE

        Robert J. Clark Jr. is now at risk, to lose his freedom, his home, and his livelihood, for the simple action of doing what any good hearted and public spirited citizen would and SHOULD do. With this in mind, I hereby pledge $100.00 to Mr. Clark's defense if he is persecuted.... and my use of persecuted as opposed to prosecuted is intentional. I also urge South Jersey shoppers to send Prosecutor Dalton a message by refraining from spending money in Gloucester County. He may not listen to you, I, or the people who live on Mr. Clark's street, but I am sure Mr. Dalton listens to the business community.

        I also call on the Legislature to pass an new law..... we can call it Robert J. Clark's Law.... so that decent people can legitimately defend themselves and their homes without fear of government persecution AND prosecution.


April 27, 2004



            Camden in 2015? The possibilities are mind-boggling for one who has spent most of his adult life here. There is already so much to do and enjoy here, both within city limits and within, let’s say, a five mile radius. Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t live anywhere else!


            The question I often asked of myself during twenty or so years wasn’t what happened here to make things as they were, but why weren’t things getting better. It took me a long, long time to realize that there is a powerful and organized set of people and organizations who had, and have, a vested interest in keeping Camden down, in keeping things just the way they are. To wit, in a town once famous for manufacturing household items used everyday, from soap to television sets, the main “industry” for far too many is poverty, crime, and social dysfunction, and the bureaucracy that services it.


            I’m not of the mind that it is the poor, the dysfunctional, or even the low-level criminal who have held this city back for so many years. Rather it is those whose financial and political power is based on poverty and ignorance that have held this city back as much as any other factor. These have been described by one far more insightful than I as “poverty pimps”, and in the case of our fair city, the words certainly do apply. Small wonder that progress has come rapidly once these “forces of evil” as I call them, were exorcised from the body politic.


            There are those who will make the argument that Camden’s residents were disenfranchised when the state stepped in. I would argue that the taxpayers and working people of Camden haven’t had a representative City government since Randy Primas left office. In the late 1980s, 1990s, and the early years of this century, government was by the few and for the few. One good Mayor, Aaron Thompson, was all but ignored by the political machine, two very bad mayors followed, and now good-hearted Gwen Faison is left to carry Camden’s banner. It would be nice if I can say that all is well at City Hall, but I cannot. The hyenas still abound, waiting for the first opportunity to feed on any carcass they can find. 


            The struggle that the people of Camden are undergoing now is very much like the one African-Americans underwent in the Deep South of the 1950s and 1960s. Just as in those times, powerful and deeply embedded forces who stand to lose much are resisting the changes so needed by our city, and have no qualms about fighting dirty to ensure their survival, which in our time, equals political power and/or government funding. These reactionaries are the first cry “plantation politics” and “racism”, but one must note that these are the same people who have been overseeing the plantation.


            The State of New Jersey coming to the rescue of Camden is much like the Union Army sweeping through Georgia in 1864. The bad government, the Confederacy, was booted out, a captive people was liberated, and an opportunity was created for a better life for those who lived there. I will kid you not, the facts do not lie- people were displaced, and businesses were uprooted. On the other hand, a corrupt and in the end cancerous system was broken up, at great cost.


            Sadly, history tells us that the reactionary forces in the South reasserted power, and while slavery was never legal again, the sharecropper system, damaging to poor whites and blacks alike, Jim Crow laws, and segregation arose in its place. It would be so sad if this pattern were allowed to happen in Camden…… so sad if Camden squanders it chance.


            Camden must and will evolve. I really hate the term “come back”, because Camden never really went anywhere. I much prefer the word evolve.  For Camden to evolve, it must first stop the flight of its middle class, which despite rumors to the contrary has always existed. This was termed “white flight” forty plus years ago, but it has long since stopped being a racial event. Camden MUST retain its best and brightest, and it MUST attract new blood and new people of quality, people who will sign that mortgage and make the 30 year commitment to the city. People who will live here, people who will take responsibility for their homes and neighborhoods, people who will step up and demand that the prostitutes, panhandlers, and poverty pimps be swept from our streets and governmental offices..


            Another term I despise is “we need to take back the city”. Who are we, with our perceptions of the recent past and present, to say that “we” have property rights? Who can say “It’s ours and no one elses” in Camden with a scintilla of honesty? The Indians who were here in 1680, when William Cooper arrived are long gone. I haven’t seen a Quaker here lately, Camden was very much a Quaker center for some time. Irish and German Catholics showed up mid 19th Century, Italians, Jews, and others from southeastern Europe and Asia Minor came in the period from 1880 through 1920, Camden was only 7% African American in 1920, and there may have been one (1) Hispanic person living here prior to 1941. Who gets to “take it back”? If anything, every person living here should be equipped with a welcome mat, to be used when the NEXT person shows up, looking to make his or her fortune here in our fair city. We NEED good people!


In Camden’s heyday, many languages were spoken in the street, people came together, and TRUE DIVERSITY reigned. Was it the Garden of Eden, a paradise? Of course not. The city was a product of its people and the times, with the all the opinions and prejudices which those people and times came equipped with. To look at it in any other light is dishonest. However, it is beyond dispute that for many years, people of different ethnicities lived in Camden side by side, city government and politics had players of all faiths and colors, roughly proportionate to the percentage of voters in the population at the time, and the consensus of those who lived here then as a whole was that Camden was a pretty darn good place to live.


            Camden today has a tremendous untapped resource, and that is its human capital. This town is filled with decent hardworking people who not only aspire to a better life, this town has a lot of decent hard working people who are PRESENTLY living a good life. We in Camden are NOT all poor and homeless. We who live in Camden do NOT particularly require constant social engineering either. We in Camden have as much right to Not In My Back Yard when it comes to homeless shelters, half-way houses for paroled criminals, and drug clinics…. If anything, we in Camden perhaps have a greater claim, because Camden has been pulling the rest of the county’s weight for the maintenance of the dysfunctional for far too many years. Why is it, then that when the “social service industry” is so quick to defend their constituency/clients/customer base, so little is done to defend or promote the interest of the homeowner or business-person?


            Those who have a vested interest in the status quo, while oft claiming to have diversity in mind, have not hesitated to practice the politics of divisiveness to protect their vested interest. Gentrification is thrown about as if it were an epithet, yet the city desperately need just that, people with income to support small business, people with education to demand that schools be what the can and are supposed to be, people wit the insight to demand that government perform as needed. Where will the next generation of Camden’s leaders come from, if our best and brightest leave town, not wanting to live, and rightfully so, in an economic ghetto designed to provide employment only to those who administer programs? Displacement is not necessarily a bad thing. I would think that people, as they have for thousands of years, and still do today, will, when circumstances dictate, migrate to where they can live, thrive, and survive. Chaining people to Camden by NOT allowing change to occur is akin to enslavement. The New Testament speaks of a man who lay for 38 years waiting to be healed, only to be told that all he needed to do was to get up and start walking. There comes a time when a little prodding is required. Some will say I’m cruel. As one who has raised teenagers, I’d say I’m keeping it real. As I’ve indicated above, Diversity is a truly great thing. Diversity, should not be confused with My-versity. If one demands a share, one had best be prepared to give a share as well.


            Camden is a city that was for the most part built in the pre-automobile era, when people walked to work. Houses and factories were built literally side by side, a practice no longer the case in our times. That wasn’t economic racism in 1904- that was common sense. Today the challenge that Camden faces is how to disengage residents, many of who are property owners, from industrial neighborhoods. The people deserve to live an environmentally safe neighborhood, and the rest of the city’s citizens deserve to have a city which has a tax base. That a fair and equitable solution to this problem exists is obvious, that the need for this solution to be implemented is in the best interest of every man, woman and child in Camden, is obvious; and sadly, that special interests under the guise of “social justice”…. And I ask, justice for who?…. stand in opposition to the changes necessary.


            Camden in 2015 should be a city with many new schools, new businesses, new residents, and a place where those who live here and who are willing to embrace the future have not only a place, but a say in how things are done. The Camden of 2015 must in no way resemble the Camden of, let’s say, 1995…. No money, no leadership, no hope. The Camden of 2015 must be a place where the ENTIRE NATION would want to come to, and not a fiefdom run by the few, for the few. In Camden’s heyday, many languages were spoken in the street, people came together, and TRUE DIVERSITY reigned.


            If you don’t mind my co-opting Walt Whitman, Shakespeare, and Chuck “The Bayonne Bleeder” Wepner, I will close by saying that last night I dreamed I saw a city in 2015, truly invincible, which despite suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, is still standing after 15 rounds. Camden, a city championed by champions!


April 20, 2004

Matt Katz of the Courier-Post wrote an article on the problem of bullying in the schools. A good subject to write on...... especially in light of the fact that this week was the anniversary of Colorado's Columbine High School massacre.

America's media is slow to analyze, and quick to blame. The media has its own agenda, which basically is to sell commercial air time or print ads. It's a much more attract proposition to blame the shooters in the cases of schoolyard violence, when a careful analysis of the facts show that in most cases the youths who turn violent have been repeatedly victimized themselves, and all too often with the tacit knowledge and implied approval of scholastic authorities.

Two observations:

#1> When I was attending High School, Cherry Hill West Class of 1973, I saw certain teachers not only ignore but take park it the humiliation of students. As an observer, it left me with a very low opinion of "the system" and self-proclaimed authority figures in general. God only knows what it did to the boy who was the victim of all that abuse.

#2> My son graduated from a Camden County public school a couple of years ago. While rarely the target of abuse from other students, he was pretty much a loner in school. After Columbine, someone started a rumor about him, stating that he had made threats. I received a phone call from a school official, asking about his behavior. When I told the principal that there were no guns in this home and that he had better have REAL evidence before "marking" my son a criminal, else I would sue, this individual suspended my boy without due process, and refused to provide a tutor. This situation went on for weeks, and it took legal action to get a tutor provided him.

This came at my own expense... and fortunately I had the resources.... to have him reinstated to school. When we got to court, the school, which had no evidence outside of hearsay, was properly spanked, and my son was returned to class. If memory serves, the principal or vice-principal involved did not return the following year. I doubt that the people bearing false witness were ever punished.

Believe me, I let the school "have it" in court, because what they did, in running on hearsay, was to mark my child. They ran on gossip, and my son was labeled as 'the Columbine kid'. I made sure... and the judge did also.... that the school was to be held responsible for any harm done TO HIM by fellow students as a result of their egregious behavior. In this case, "zero tolerance" was a case of "zero evidence". 

The happy ending is that my son returned to class, graduated from HS, and after serving in the US ARMY now works for the Courier-Post. If I hadn't been aggressive to the point of outright hostility to the school system, he would not have graduated, not have been accepted into the Army, and probably not be gainfully employed today.

Perhaps a THIRD point-------- Based on what I've seen and experienced with the self-serving school bureaucracies, it is entirely possible... perhaps probable... that Matthew Lovett was a victim of "gross professional negligence". It is a damn shame that school administrators can't be held as accessories for every time he was assaulted on school grounds.... for every time a teacher turned his back..... for every time a "pet" or a "jock" was encouraged by omission or commission to hurt a amller or weaker child. The problem of violence in the schools often as not originate not with the "troubled kids"; the problems START from "the little angels". When a Dylan Klebold or Matthew Lovett snaps, it is for a reason, and when someone has a list, it may well be for reason. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "it's retaliation, stupid". If there was no bullying, and no tacit approval for such, there would be no retaliation. Game, Set, Match.

April 12, 2004

Violence in Camden Schools is not the fault of Annette Knox, but rather the fault of the School Board. School Superintendents come and go, but in Camden, it seems that political hacks stay around forever.

It's the same old story...... there are far too many in Camden who are profiting on the poverty and ignorance in this town. As presently constituted the Camden school system is DESIGNED to force responsible parents (the kind who VOTE) to at least consider moving out of the city. What is ethical about warehousing most students in two completely dysfunctional high schools schools, while collecting huge amounts of state and federal dollars to feed the patronage machine?

Annette Knox is not the problem. She is an administrator. The School Board and the political organization that controls it, which sets POLICY for Ms. Knox to implement, is the problem. If Ms. Knox left tomorrow, and Ralph of Nazareth was hired, nothing would change, because the aims, goals, and agenda of the School Board would remain the same.

April 9, 2004

I hadn't much thought this week of addressing in writing a few issues that were on my mind, but an e-mail and conversation with business owners in North Camden and Waterfront South moved me to comment. on what has been and is going on in Waterfront South.

Politicians have to watch what they say, and because of that, people and groups that are not democratically elected in nature but who seek to use the political process to further their ends are oftentimes beyond public comment. Our elected leaders are often constrained by the bounds of political correctness and the need to appease special interest groups to the point where our elected leasers cease to show any leadership at all!

That being said, Let be known that I'm nut running for, or from, anything. I think I'll just park my old rusty dusty right here, and call 'em like I see 'em. 

Say, aren't you Boog Powell?

I got a comment on my assertion that a comment made concerning "We need to take out city back" was malicious, because the party who wrote it is a member of an otherwise charitable organization.  While I applaud the actions and intent of the group, they get no free pass for publishing the comment in their newsletter. Altruism and sacrifice do NOT give one a permanent concession on the moral high ground. What William Wright said and what unfortunately was circulated throughout the community was just as wrong as whatever "behind closed doors" comments were made in Lindenwold concerning the apartment dwellers, and the "need" to raze (and displace) 2200 plus families. No one gets a free pass on racist statements, and what was printed was disservice to the community AND to the legacy that the group who published it had built. 

 In another part of town, two other groups have done some things and made some statements in the newspapers that simply boggle ones mind.

Let me frame this in a way where one may understand where my...... hmmm what word do I want... amazement, disgust, contempt, anger, and rage are good words, even though a little over the top.... over utter nonsense is coming from. 

Do you remember from high school history class when Congress would pass money to give to the Indians living on reservations, so they could run their own affairs? The Indians never got the money, it would go to the "Bureau of Indian Affairs" because the "savages" wouldn't know how to "handle the money".

Down near Broadway and Morgan Boulevard, in the old Eighth Ward, known in recent times as "Waterfront South", we have seen some mighty peculiar goings on perpetrated over the last two decades.

In the neighborhood known as The Terraces, west of Broadway between Bulson Street and Morgan Boulevard, the remaining families are ALL homeowners, who obviously know how to make mortgage payments, tax payments, utility payments, and so on.... all obviously pretty capable people.... and this is not me spouting.... the proof is in the cancelled checks, the proof is in their very presence there. An equitable buyout has been placed on the table so that the homeowners of a neighborhood no longer residential, due as much to the fact as much as New York Ship, which employed most residents there in earlier times, has been gone since 1967 than as to the oft alleged pollution, may be relocated. This benefits ALL of Camden, as industry can be placed on the site, bringing jobs and tax revenue to our city,

Yet, the Chief-Whatever of one of the two "social action" groups is quoted in local newspapers... I believe the Courier but it may have been the Inquirer.... as saying "these people wouldn't know how to handle the money" that the Redevelopment Agency has offered..... implying that he would. HOW INSULTING..... and how revealing.     

Second example in Waterfront South is when the often cited Ms. Almodovar was quoted in the Inquirer as having paid $35,000 for her house in near Broadway and Ferry Avenue in 1989. EXCUSE ME!!!! The sewage plant..... ordered by the EPA in Washington DC mind you, and impossible for engineering reasons to locate anywhere else.... was operating in 1985 or earlier. If Ms. Almodovar or anyone else moved there after it was up and fragrant...... that was a free choice. No one can cry racism or poverty.... hell, they could have moved to North Camden, or, like me, bought a nice 3 bedroom house at 22nd and High for about $20,000. This poor woman, who seems to have been made the "poster child" of the "poor and down-trodden" either was or is being duped, or has clearly missed something obvious, somewhere. I suspect the former.

The really disgusting thing that happened in Waterfront South.... the totally unforgivable and immoral thing, is that families in need of housing with obvious language barriers were recruited into moving to a neighborhood by the same group that claims the neighborhood was unsafe. What is that all about?????

If Dow Chemical knowingly built a daycare center over a dioxin well, they would be criminally liable. There is NO excuse for this, and if possible less than no excuse from groups claiming to be faith based. It is simply evil, to take advantage of people, by placing them in an unhealthy situation no matter what rationalizations or self-justifying hogwash one wants to offer up.  Ms. Almodovar and her neighbors have been made slaves, chained by mortgages to their properties, and being used as HUMAN SHIELDS to protect and preserve one institution, and in doing so, one man's agenda and one man's ego. It is despicable......... Unless of course, every statement made about how bad the environment was was a lie. You can't have it both ways.                   

Third example. Three sources of alleged pollution are constantly brought up. One, the sludge plant... well, it doesn't smell too good, but it was deemed necessary by the EPA in Washington DC. It is an unquestionable fact that the rivers and streams in the county have made a comeback, environmentally. Cooper River is no longer a "dead" river, and should be clean enough to swim in, as it was 100 years ago, by 2020 or so. The CCMUA does have a moral obligation.... and THIS is where community oversight is needed.... to constantly be investing in the latest and best technology to alleviate the impact in the neighborhood. If CCMUA cut its advertising, coffee, Christmas party, office expenses, and donations to outside groups (see below), and quadrupled their "science" budget..... Well pilgrims, I'm good with that.... I wouldn't even mind paying an extra 5 to $10 every quarter to fund constant upgrades of equipment for odor reduction. I'm a generous guy when it comes to really helping people..... as opposed to enabling Poverty Pimps.  

The other two alleged sources of pollution are somewhat problematic..... when measured against what ISN'T being said. The is one VERY large odor emitter down that way that is never mentioned by the complainers. That is the McAndrews & Forbes licorice factory. Trust me on this, when that plant is up and running, it is funky... and outsiders often confuse McAndrews and Forbes emissions with that of the sludge plant.

The other polluter.... and arguably the worst violator on record in that neighborhood, and possibly within the city of Camden, is the Lambersky chicken processing facility on Broadway. This business has been cited numerous times and closed down at least once. Deadly e. coli  bacteria has been found there. This place is is bad, bad news, but is never mentioned as a source of pollution by the "defenders of the people". Meanwhile, St Laurence Cement and the Cogen trash-to-stream facility are consistently attacked.  

A check of EPA records easily tell you what is up, and will tell who is dirty and who is clean..... and who is blowing smoke, verbally, that is. A look at tax returns showing where money has changed hands might be quite revealing. When does a charitable donation become a bribe? When does the demand for "social justice" become become the equivalent to the "protection racket"? Follow the evidence, and the money, and you may well get a changed perception as to what was and is going on, and, more importantly, who is looking out for who. Speaking for myself, I accepted the "corporations and industry are exploiting the poor of Camden" for well over 20 years. Once I did a little homework, my point of view changed.                      

I would think the majority of people who are concerned with social justice are just that, people with exceptionally large hearts who care enough to make these causes their lives work. This is a very good thing, and is to be praised in no uncertain terms. On March 20, 2004 I spoke briefly with Tom Knoche, who has worked in North Camden with Leavenhouse and the North Camden Land Trust for many years. My comments to him were to "keep fighting the good fight". I may disagree with him on his politics, I have yet to see, hear, or be told anything that would make me question his motives. Camden, and the world, needs more people like Tom Knoche, and maybe a couple of more like me, too.

On the other hand, just as faith has all too many times become "the religion industry", so has "social justice".  Everyone who professes to have a heart of gold, everyone who claims social vision, and everyone who states they are doing God's Work doesn't, hasn't, and (as news in recent years have so aptly proved) isn't. So, as the real estate agent who has been so actively working to sell houses near Broadway and Ferry should tell you, caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. Before one jumps on the bus marked moral outrage, check yourself. Self-examination on a regular basis will keep you healthy, and, for the historically minded, remember that Stalin was a comrade once as well.


April 5, 2004

What with all the he-said vs. she said in Washington this past week, I thought I would see if I've been the Waffle Man or, if consistency equals tasting good, Mr. Yum-Yum...  sort of a Charlie the Tuna thing.....

I know, I know...... there are those under the age of thirty who will think that Charlie the Tuna was a character from The Sopranos. No children, he was not. He was a talking, animated Tuna..... now stop looking at me like that!

About Lindenwold's efforts to bleach its population, I wrote this concerning building more low-income housing in Camden back in April of 2002. I stand by this today:

The absolutely LAST thing Camden needs is more low-income housing. This town will never come back as long as becomes the dumping ground for  South Jersey's poor. Camden CANNOT be the host for more half-way houses, homeless shelters, or facilities of any kind to warehouse what Haddonfield and Cherry Hill don't want.

Camden needs gentrification... Camden needs homeowners, Camden needs responsible people with MONEY who can support local businesses. Camden does not need to host anymore people on public assistance. For Camden to wean itself off of State support, its population must be self-sustaining as well. For Camden to prosper, it must shed itself of whomever of its population which for whatever reason drives potential homeowners,  business owners, and retail customers away. Please note that I phrased the last sentence to specifically include local politicians and especially the school board. 

On the subject of low-income housing, my suggestion, as a Camden resident, home-owner, and taxpayer, is to pave over Tavistock Golf Course and build it there.

March 27, 2004

A very busy week for your obedient servant, as I had meant to comment on a few things here earlier in the week.

There were four news stories locally that attracted my attention this week, three in Camden, and one overseas. The first that is deserving of attention, and that which deserves our complete respect, concerns Private First Class Adam Froehlich of Pine Hill NJ, the first Camden County resident to be killed in action while serving in Iraq. It is very sad when anyone loses there life in service of our nation- sadly, we humans are a violent and greedy lot by nature. The view most Americans have of the world is that it is a world similar to the one WE live in, in the TIME that we live in. A more realistic view is that much of the world outside of the fifty states and a few countries that share the values of Western Civilization is a very dangerous place, and that we humans are collectively a bloodthirsty lot. The freedoms and especially the comforts that people within the borders of the United States depend on young men such as Adam Froehlich, who are knowledgeable far beyond their years. To lose an Adam Froehlich is a horrible thing, but know this- if not for Adam Froehlich and those young men and women who are willing to put service to country above self, America would look like Haiti. There are those on this planet who truly hate America, and there is no appeasing them. 

Just a thought, and it is a frightening thought, but a probable one. History repeats  itself. In the 1930s Nazi Germany funded an organization called the German-American Bund, whose purpose was twofold. One was to recruit otherwise well meaning Americans into activities that were counter to the good of this nation, by enticing them with an attractive ideology, an idealized view of what life would be like. The other purpose was to conceal espionage and sabotage agents.

Now as History does repeat itself, its pretty obvious that terrorists and religious extremists are in this country, being funded by those outside our borders, and, as in the 1930s, disguising their activities as cultural exchange, religion, or social activism. We enjoy great civic freedoms in America, far greater freedoms here and now than in any other time or place in human history. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were not written to be a suicide pact, however, and the motivations of those who would defend patently treasonous acts under the banner of civil rights must be questioned, and sadly, should be investigated. It's a terrible thing, but the world has come to that.

So much for the planet, let's talk about Camden.

As I said, three events in the newspapers this week caught my attention. One is the fatal shooting of a would-be robber by a N.J. State Trooper in North Camden. There are those in the "social action" business who are going to hoot and holler about how the troopers are coming to Camden and killing people. Two points that they will not mention, as facts tend to get in the way of ideology should be taken into account.

First, over the last 15 years or so, exactly three (3) individuals have been shot by N.J. State Troopers within the boundaries of the City of Camden. Over the same period, well over 400 people have been murdered in this city by parties not connected with law enforcement. Many of those murdered, most likely a great majority of them, were those engaging in illegal activities themselves, but enough innocent people, people like you and I, people just raising children and trying to earn a living, have become victims of the violence that has gripped our city. In the last few weeks, an Hispanic grandmother and an Asian storekeeper were murdered.... twice as many as killed by State Troopers, by the way. So who are you scared of..... for real, now..... the State Police or the scum on the corner?

The second point, for all you conspiracy buffs who just can't let go of the "police as political enforcers" notion.... but who still live in the world and work for a living. Any shooting by a policeman is investigated, and investigated far more extensively than if you or I were murdered. Knowing that that, do you think any N.J. State Trooper in his right mind is going to throw away his job, pension, medical benefits, and dental plan away for a moment's gratification on shooting an innocent person?  

Violence in the schools is not just a Camden problem, it's an everywhere problem. This certainly is nothing new, it just may be the flavor of the week in issues, especially as a couple of suburban kids were badly injured in fights recently. Some of this can be addressed in the schools, and some of it must be addressed outside the schools. As long as bullying and taunting is tolerated..... and I saw it encouraged in the 1970s.... by faculty and staff within school systems, we should not be surprised by Columbine-like killings. Those boys and those like them, struck back because they were pushed and the system failed to protect them. It's easier to blame the kids, the parents, gun manufacturers, anyone but us. Everyone reading is who can honestly say they NEVER teased another child please stand up. Not too many standing, I think. 

It's not all in the schools, of course. It's in the homes and in the streets. A lot of angst says "omigod, we need to get into the homes". I don't believe this is practical. What would be far more effective would be to unchain the police and truant officers and let them do what they must. Curfews must be enforced, and loitering must be curbed. The police must be given back the tools to police the streets, and that means loitering and vagrancy must go back on the books. The streets must be made safe for our children, and the schools as well. If this means the criminalization of young criminals, so be it...... better they be dealt with than the ridiculous current practice of fining parents who hold their children out of school to ensure there safety, while those whose young delinquents terrorize the streets and schools get a pass. 

Number Three -  If you think I'm hard on liberals and "activists" because I'm an "ideological conservative" you are dead wrong. I'm very much a person who believes that Government CAN do good, a lot of good, and I respect committed people who are willing to devote themselves to a cause that benefits the world. That makes me a liberal in some circles. On the other hand, I have no time for fools, and no tolerance at all for scam artists of any persuasion.. 

One person and group whom I have great respect for is Peter J. O'Connor, executive
director of the Fair Share Housing Center in Cherry Hill. I don't believe that there is "environmental racism" in New Jersey, but there sure has been "economic racism" in the Garden State, and O'Connor has done as much as anyone else to combat it. The selfish and ultimately racist policies of suburban towns such as Mt. Laurel and Cherry Hill that not only keep out but also drove out poor families resulted in Camden and Gloucester City becoming economic ghettos. Go Pete!!!!

I bring this up because the Borough of Lindenwold has the intent of evicting 2200 households whom they perceive to be undesirable. Local politicians can try to clean this up, but at the end of the day, when it's all said and done, the motive and the attitude behind this were stated by Lindenwold resident Timothy Payne is the March 24 edition of the Courier-Post. Payne said "It's an opportunity to take back the town."

I'm hoping someone will stand up and call this for what it is. I'm waiting on a couple of parties, one in particular who purports to represent a county-wide organization and who tends to play the race card whenever there is an excuse, to take a stand on this matter. If no stand is taken over the next few weeks I will name a few names.

Take it back from who... and for who? This is not a one-way issue, of course. The exact same shortsighted, selfish, and from my point of view malicious point of view was printed in the July 2003 of the Leavenhouse newsletter. For those of you who don't know Leavenhouse, the group has operated a homeless shelter and provided services to the poor of North Camden for 23 years. Good hearted people, on the whole, I would say. I was completely disheartened when I read William Wright's comments opposing the redevelopment of Camden, not those where he was critical of money going to institutions and less to neighborhoods. What just blew my mind is when Wright stated "We need to take Camden back".

My question to William Wright is "Who gave it you you?". This is as ignorant an attitude as anything I would hear from the Klan or any other group. Take it back..... what would you say, Mr. Wright, if an Irish-American or German-American group came out with a statement saying how they would like to take back North Camden. Take it back..... 

I've got a large gift to give to all the Take it Back people.... size nine and applied to the posterior, where it might do some good. Take it back..... tell that to the Indians, who were living in North Camden 350 years ago.  

March 21, 2004

Last night I had the honor and the pleasure of accompanying my dear friend Howard Tate, as he performed at the Tweeter Center as part of a benefit concert for Leavenhouse. I was quite surprised when Howard asked me to address a room full of people at the pre-show gathering, and again when he brought me on stage to address the crowd, which I'm guessing numbered around 1,000.

Usually in life the only people who have the opportunity to speak publicly are politicians and preachers, so to be given the opportunity to speak one's piece on and issue is a rare event for we Average Joe's and Johanna's..... (you don't see all that many Johanna's anymore... I guess they broke the mold!). While I had spoken on radio for years, I've only spoken publicly twice, at a pair of Veterans events, and in both cases I had a prepared statement. This was a horse of a different color. Goodness gracious, I have to be spontaneous, cogent, understandable at the lowest common denominator, and speak clearly all at the same time with people looking at me????? I'd rather juggle bowling balls and chainsaws simultaneously.

Still, Howard asked me to speak, and after giving it some consideration a thought struck me... (just above my right ear)... that I thought was worthy of sharing.

Ah, Sweet Coincidence.... those things that make you go Hmmmmmmm!!!!!
           As opposed to are-we-all-adults-here things that make you go Ooooohhhhhh.....

It isn't often that the life of one man and the life of a city run on parallel tracks at the same time. In 1967 Howard Tate was churning out hit records and Camden was churning out everything from aircraft carriers to tomato soup. Over the next thirty years both Howard Tate the man and Camden the city fell about as low as both could go. Both Howard and Camden were drug addicted (the city's drug being state aid), estranged from family, disgraced, depressed, and as Howard tells it, unwashed and smelling pretty bad. There was a time that 99% of the world's population wanted nothing to with Howard Tate or Camden.... or so it seemed.

Throughout all of this, there were a few loyal friends, who with great faith and unswerving love for both Howard Tate and the City of Camden who refused to give up, refused to abandon hope, refused to accept the disrespect that others shoveled, and refused to believe that the story of Howard Tate and/or the story of Camden NJ had ended.

Jerry Ragavoy, now in his very late 70s, who had written and produced Howard's hits, called every "H. Tate" in the phone book NATIONWIDE looking for him. I spent two years on the radio putting out a call for Howard Tate sightings, believing that sooner or later, someone would come through.

In Camden, many people of good will over many years have done things of the same nature. People have worked endlessly, tirelessly, for the days we are seeing in 2004, and for the future that is unfolding now. We may have differing opinions as to exactly what should be done and why, but in general most involved in the changes now taking place in Camden are people of good intent. Show me an extended family where everyone agrees on everything, and I'll show you a very boring family. Take 100 people at random, there are going to be a few misfits, screwballs, idiots.... a saint or two, maybe a mad genius..... and of course there will be a few who are just downright malicious. That, in 36 words, may be as accurate a short view of humanity you will see this week! So as your family, my family, Camden, the USA, and the Planet Earth mucks about in a generally forward direction, don't lose heart! In the words of Adam Clayton Powell.... I can see everyone scooting for Google right about now.... Keep The Faith, Baby! 

I got a very sincere e-mail a few weeks ago asking me why I used the word agitator. I used it because the word so often used in the press, activist, is sort of meaningless. It doesn't say anything!!! What makes one an "activist"... do you get a diploma for being active? If you watch a lot of television can you be an inactivist? I am committed to staying out of spandex and health clubs, for which the world should be very glad, Does that make me a rabid inactivist? Only if I foam at the mouth, I guess. Anyway, I like agitator, which conjures up the image of one who stirs up trouble, which is not always a bad thing. Nor is it always a good thing. Just because you put on a robe or a collar, and/or declare yourself to be a Defender of the People, does not automatically confer that you have the moral high ground. Stalin was the Defender of the People, and Hitler considered himself to be a Socialist.

I spoke with two individuals last night. One, whom the newspaper always describes as an "activist" in the city, a name often in the papers for many years, refused to be happy about the news about the Carnegie Library. All he could focus on  was why had it taken so long, who was going to benefit, and why weren't "the people"... and I strongly suspect he meant "his people"... involved in this. It really struck me as sour grapes. The time for division is past, and the concept of "we have to get ours at the expense of anyone else's" has been proven wrong. Sour grapes on a joyous day from a man whom I believe in his heart really cares about the City... very sad. 

The other fellow I spoke with was in his mid- to-early thirties to look at. I believe he also was affiliated with one of the social action groups from North Camden, perhaps Leavenhouse, perhaps North Camden Land Trust. The conversation between his mid-30s and my forty-eight years concluded with the mutual agreement in the direction of we simply cannot demonize those we disagree with and expect to get anything done. I also gave him a glimpse of his future, which I think will go as mine and many others have. 

This is how it has will work out. When I was in my 20s, you couldn't tell me that I didn't have the definition of good and evil down to a science. In my thirties, a few shades of grey began to appear on my head and in my outlook, and at 48 the only thing certain is that no one has an absolute and immortal lock on moral certainty. I believe that Mr. Younger-Blood left the discussion with something he had not anticipated.  

Time is short, tomorrow is not promised, and as Michael Tierson so aptly reminded me last night, no one gets out of this world alive. Make today.... or if you are reading this at night, the next 24-plus hours, a VERY GOOD day for yourself!

March 20, 2004

I could not go another minute without commenting on the back-to-back home runs hit by the Camden Redevelopment Agency on Thursday and Friday. First the announcement that the 300 block of Market Street, with the Security Trust Building and the many other historic (and lived in) homes and businesses there would not be handed to Rowan University. Luis Puga of the Camden Courier-Post reported that Erenia Levinia, who owns 323 Market St., said the plan restored her faith in city government. Ms. Levinia is quoted as saying "I can believe in City Hall.".... five words that few in our town have been able to say with complete candor in many years. 

The second homerun is the announcement in today's Courier-Post that the historic Carnegie Library at Broadway and Line Street is to be saved. Your humble servant, that's me for those who haven't spent time reading 100 year old mail, is of the opinion that raising children without books is akin to child abuse. There has been and will be a great deal of construction and redevelopment of buildings in this neighborhood, and I can think of no better message than the one sent by the saving of the Carnegie Library, a great PUBLIC building, that our PUBLIC, especially the children growing up in South Camden, are a part.... a necessary part, of Camden's future.

A little off the Camden topic, but coming up on Saturday are the many images of Zeppelins and airships that 4th & Sycamore's own Jack Gant loaned by to scan yesterday. His grandfather saw the Hindenburg crash at Lakehurst, and had a lifelong interest in the giant craft. Very cool stuff from a time long gone, and well worth checking out! 

When I was a young feller, about 35 years and 180 pounds ago, I had two dreams common to boys my age. One, to see my face on a baseball card, and the other, to see my name on a hit record. I found out pretty soon that I lacked the talent for Number 1, and sort of gave up on Number 2, as I like most everyone else got caught up in the "who has time for dreams, I've got to make a living" aspect of modern day living. 

Which brings us to tonight's happening at the Tweeter Center in Camden. Tonight Howard Tate makes a triumphant return to Camden, appearing at the Tweeter to raise money for Leavenhouse, a social services oriented group in North Camden. Without tooting my own saxophone (I wish!), to say that I had less than crucial role in the revival of Howard Tate's career would be an understatement. That, gang, was in my "show-biz years" from 1989 to 2002, when felt that doing a little history work and being involved in community service was more important than spinning records and talking trash! Anyway, come on out, see the show, buy the GRAMMY-nominated CD, Howard Tate Rediscovered, and see old Phil mentioned in the liner notes under my stage name of Phil Casden. You see, I found out that no matter how old, tired, worn out, or overweight you are, NEVER give up on your dreams, and NEVER say NEVER!

If faith is the evidence of things not seen and the proof of things hoped for, than coincidence is the evidence of someone having an eye on you, and the proof that they have a sense of humor.