Tag: Philadelphia

What Kelo Hath Wrought, Part 487

Take this as one of your semi-regular opportunities to say, “Fuck you, John Paul Stephens”:

James Dupree is a world-renowned artist and native son of Philadelphia, who is about to see his art studio turned into a grocery store, thanks to the rubber-stamp review that passes for judging when his city exercises the power of eminent domain.

James’ artistic accomplishments are truly awesome. He has five paintings in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Others can be found in the National Museum of Art in Cardiff, Wales; the Schomberg Museum in New York; the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

You can see the Philadelphia Museum of Art from James’ studio. It is located in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia, where James grew up. The studio was a dilapidated warehouse when he purchased it for a little under $200,000. He spent $60,000 installing new electrical equipment and plumbing, $68,000 on roof repairs, and thousands more on renovations, furnishings and appliances.

The investment paid off, for James and for Mantua. What was once a dead, abandoned building is now alive and bustling with activity. James has hosted and taught art classes at his studio and has plans to start a mentorship program in order to give artists an environment where they “can create serious work and receive the support and freedom to explore new ideas.”

Dupree Studios is as much of a part of Mantua as James Dupree. It is a monument to the kind of creativity, hard work and dedication that has always been associated with the American spirit.

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority has decided that this isn’t good enough. They want to lowball Dupree, bulldoze the building he restored and put a grocery store and a parking lot there. Pennsylvania strengthened its laws protecting citizens from eminent domain. But the PRA seized his home four days before the law took effect.

Think about that. When this state tried to put the kibosh on this sort of nonsense, the authorities in Philadelphia went on a shopping spree to make sure they stole people’s building while they still could.

Now two judges have basically said, “meh”. There is still a chance to save his studio through political pressure on the local government. But this shouldn’t be necessary. It wouldn’t be necessary if five assholes in robes had not decided that forcing Person A to sell to Person B constituted “public use”.

Monday Roundup

I get backlogged on stories. And I hate open tabs. So here’s a smattering of stories I don’t have time to do full blog posts on but thought were interesting.

  • The White House put the kibosh on the Platinum Coin idea, the IOU idea and the 14th Amendment idea and the President had a presser today calling on the GOP to raise the debt ceiling. The death of the Coin caused much angst among the Platinum Front of Judea crowd (who also turned on Jon Stewart when he ridiculed the idea). But it’s yet another data point showing that as dumb as the President can be, he’s not as dumb as his supporters.
  • A good read on a pair of developers who have taken on Philadelphia’s entrenched trade unions. They bid out a project, gave a little over half the contracts to non-union businesses and became the target of union wrath and violence. A peace has been reached but the terms are unclear: the unions are saying the developers’ next project will be all-union, the developers are saying they’ll bid it out to everyone. It will be interesting to see if this cracks the trade union stranglehold on Philadelphia business or if the Pestronk Brothers give in.
  • The minute I heard Lance Armstrong was interviewing with Oprah, I knew he was going to confess. The sky is turning red with lawsuits and the Feds may get involved as well. This is going to get ugly.
  • At the President’s Reddit chat, one question he ignored that has gotten some fun discussion is “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?” I’m not surprised he skipped it since it was probably much more substantive than most of the other questions. To me, it’s not even a question. You choose the horses. Ducks look nice on TV and they behave in a pond. But, like almost all fowl, they can be nasty violent dangerous creatures when they want to be. Horses, too, of course. But I’ve found birds to just be plain mean. Must be that dinosaur heritage.
  • Military suicides hit a record last year. It doesn’t seem to get that much attention, how much strain these wars are putting an increasingly narrow sliver of our nation. Let’s hope our politicians take a break from creating crises to figure out something that will help.
  • I’m sure we can have an argument about one of those things.