“On Friday, January 1, 2016, at 1:00pm, members of Philly Coalition for REAL Justice, Black Lives Matter, and others plan to gather at City Hall during the annual Mummers Parade to protest/demonstrate, and demand justice for the following issues: Black Lives Matter, Fund Our Schools, Fight for $15, Stop Oil Bombs, etc. “The Civil Affairs Unit will assign personnel to this activity. The Commanding Officer Central Police Division and the Commanding Officer of the 6th and 9th Police District have been notified of this event.”
I’m getting a vision in my head of what BLM + Froggy Carr might look like. I think I’ll skip that and go to lunch.
EDIT: Ahh, it’s not breaking, the announcement was put out yesterday morning. This was passed to me without a date on it. But as I see no news outlets making much of a mention about this, it’s sorta-breaking. Mea culpa.
Bok Technical High Schoolwas the gem of the New Deal-era of Great Spending under Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Built under a grant from the Public Works Administration, the massive Art Deco castle was meant to guarantee that every child living near 8th and Mifflin would graduate from high school with direct marketable and employable skills; mainly in the building trades.
But after a 75-year run, the School District of Philadelphia was ready to give Bok up because of the huge plant maintenance costs to keep the building maintained and fully heated. As newcomer parents tend to avoid the School District of Philadelphia wherever possible, family sizes are less than half of what they once were at the time Bok was built, and charterization of the school district has led many District kids to flee into the hands of charter school operators and Bok’s capital costs only increasing over time with fewer students, the SDP put Bok on the chopping block.
Under the 2013 round of public school closures, the vast floors have sat empty. The SDP then sold Bok off for a cool $2.1MM to eccentric proprietor Lindsey Scannapieco, daughter to Rittenhouse condo builder Tom Scannapieco. Lindsey has spent several years in London at a design firm that specializes in reinventing old spaces. Obviously the future of Bok will involve something that’s going to cater to the creative classers–the ones who would be foolhearty enough to pay enough rents into the building to maintain the massive ancient plant systems in the basement needed to heat what amounts to two city blocks of space compressed into one building.
While Scannapieco has been trying to figure out how to repurpose the space she has opened “Le Bok Fin”, an homage name to the former kitchen at Bok Technical, which itself was a pun to the famous (now shuttered) restaurant of the Philly upper-crust, Le Bec Fin. As it is on the roof of Bok, the space offers a stunning panoply of South Philly rooftops leading to the sharp peaks of Center City. View-wise, it’s the urban version of the Teton Mountains few get to experience. And no one did until the highly popular pop-up came into being.
Ignoring the legacy capital costs that led to Bok being put on the SDP’s shortlist of school closures
That Bok attendance had declined significantly enough by the time of closure that all the students were swallowed up by Southern. The technical vocation programs at Bok were relocated.
Blaming the whole thing on white people who have jobs
In fact, Teachadelphia has been on a tear lately with multiple ‘Bok is teh terribles!’ trolldom over the last several of its articles.
In essence, this is classic nonsensical SJW tripe.
Conklin herself appears on a BillyPenn listicle of “16 young teachers and leaders shaping education in Philly”. There, she’s described as a “9th grade English teacher at Esperanza Academy Charter High School” [emphasis mine].
Now we have arrived at the core irony of her Bok pieces.
As Conklin is completely oblivious to local history and how Bok came to be closed in the first place, I’ll provide a rough timeline from memory:
June 22, 1997: Pennsylvania enacts the Charter School Act. One of the first pioneers of the alternative school administration method, it’s touted as a solution to the systemic and intractible failures of central district systems. Intended for Philadelphia and adopted by a few other Pennsylvania counties, the law allows private entities to contract with the state and local districts to own and operate schools.
February 1998: Facing what was a severe deficit, the School District Superintendent David Hornbeckthreatens to shut the School District of Philadelphia unless Harrisburg restores state aid funding to levels not seen since 1975 when the District reached peak population. The move shocks state legislators who are met with waves of panic by angry constituents. By April, Harrisburg legislators responded with a lightening fast maneuver to strip the school district away from the City of Philadelphia. This sparks a deep legal battle between the City and the Commonwealth.
2001: Legal fighting between the City and Harrisburg finally ends and the City cedes control over the school district to the state.
2001-2011: The following decade sees several rapid bursts of charter school contracting, most notably during the 2005-2006 period. Charters are seen by many inner city parents as a solution to intractable violence issues at their local schools as charter operators offload some of the burdens of legal liability and are offered more room to control discipline. Charter funding causes more vacancies to form at District schools while legacy costs remain, making District closure an inevitability.
2007-2008 – While the City has been able to enjoy some revenue growth from 6 years of a condo building boom, property tax revenues start to fall statewide, due to the effects of foreclosure, particularly across middle-class neighborhoods like East and West Oak Line, Mayfair and Tacony. The Commonwealth also tightens up and state funding does not increase.
2011-2012 – Facing job loss, attrition, population shifts, calcified plant costs and legal bills, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia dramatically retracts its school system offerings and embarks on an ambitious program of real estate sales, leading up to the sale of the megaplex campus of Cardinal Dougherty High School. This provides a blueprint for the SDP who is also planning on massive closures.
2013 – In one of the largest consolidations in the District’s history, the SDP embarks on a massive school closure spree, shuttering 24 schools, including Bok in a bid to slash capital and plant maintenance costs.
What’s done the SDP in, and took Bok with it, has been a perennial lack of stable revenue that local property taxes are simply not going to buttress. Real estate is a good revenue source, but it’s not symptom-free and in poor districts like ours with a worst-in-the-nation tax collection record, we rely on state handouts which have never flourished.
When Harrisburg took ownership of the system which removed direct local management of the district it lifted the visibility of the state delegation that Philadelphia sends to represent itself in Harrisburg. That opportunity has not produced much, save for some state pols like Senator Anthony Williams who are effectively circus fairground attractions who dote on parents and look like they care, but have been administering and brokering this failure for years by boosting charterization of the District, a process that has been financially destructive to the District’s balance sheet despite the unquantifiable blessings that the charter school cheerleaders champion.
What’s sad is that Conklin’s dystopian myopia is warped by simple-minded social justice classicism and unawareness of the facts I’ve outlined leading up to Bok’s closure. She then she takes her venom out on unsuspecting white hipsters chugging Genny Cream Ale in former school desks on Bok’s rooftop, as if they somehow must be rejoicing in Bok’s catharsis and are somehow directly responsible for its fall; like hipsters must have devised this as some strategically-placed landmine in the Gentrification Wars. Conklin even takes some time out in the comments to rail against dog parks. Sigh. She doesn’t get it.
Something tells me Conklin’s rage could just as easily be transmuted into joy if she was told the building was being repuposed into affordable housing. Or perhaps a dildo factory that hires locals. Anything but white people eating arugula salads.
As far as redeveloping Bok, there’s at least some good news in state case law. In 2014 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard a zoning case over the shuttered Nativity BVM school in Port Richmond which will certainly be a legal template for any future repurposement of these dead city-block-sized behemoths that are in dire need of a new life.
In the BVM case the entire project to repurpose the shuttered Catholic elementary school into senior apartments was held up by one neighbor over a single street parking spot.
After the appeal was sustained in Commonwealth and then reversed in Pennsylvania’s highest court, any zoning attorney that would be advising Scannapieco right now might want to keep that case handy in the fan file.
While it’s difficult to live next to such large single-purpose buildings built in an era when owning cars was a luxury, there’s not many car-free uses that could come to Bok to completely re-use the building, short of imploding the place and turning it into a paid surface lot.
The community as a whole will have to deal with Bok’s 75 year history as an urban city school being over. That might not mean that education will never be a use that’s inside the building. No community is meant to live encased in amber for all eternity.
It’s written by a dude I’ve seen mentioned before: Colin Flaherty.
The story is about a white creative classer who moved into a low income black neighborhood. One evening he left his home to “check out” a party comprised of black individuals. Then, something happened (Colin conveniently leaves out what) and cuts straight to the victim’s injuries from being beaten to a bloody pulp.
While it’s probably not disputable that something bad happened, Flaherty’s “reporting” is self-defeating. Not a single link in this “news” article links to an actual original source story. Not even a police blotter, or mugshots of four men arrested for this supposed “black mob“. There’s three separate quotations from supposed articles that exist in the mainstream press, particularly the Minneapolis local ABC affiliate, but no screen capture or link back to where the story actually is even though Flaherty says it’s online.
In fact, almost every single link in almost every article Flaherty publishes on his site is a circle jerk that brings you back to Colin Flaherty’s book: White Girl Bleed A Lot – The Return of Racial Violence and How the Media Ignore It. Amazon.com shows it’s in its 5th edition. [I’m not going to gratify Mr. Flaherty by linking to his tome].
The picture gets a lot clearer when you go to Google News to search ‘black mob’. You will wind up with this:
So why precisely is Flaherty scared to link any reader over to other sources? Because there’s a great media conspiracy to stamp out any evidence that there’s black on white crime, he contends.
Luckily Flaherty is dumb enough to say who the victim’s name is, which makes it easy to get around his super-biased conspiracy theory shilling of his book and get directly to local news sources in St. Paul.
While walking home last Sunday night, he came across 30 to 40 teenagers fighting in the street. He tried to walk through the crowd but was knocked to the ground, hit and stomped on, then left unconscious and bleeding on the sidewalk.
Ahh this is making more sense to me now. When I read Colin Flaherty’s “journalism”, I’m left to believe the black people Ray Widstrand encountered were having some kind of party before he turned up to see what was up. You know, like a block party with a moon bounce for the kids and people seated outside with paper plates and eating finger food. That is until of course, their “animal instincts” kicked in when they saw a white hipster and the mob set out to destroy him, as Colin Flaherty conveniently leaves the reader to believe by his cunning ommissions.
St. Paul police said Tuesday they arrested a fourth juvenile in the near-fatal Aug. 4 beating of a St. Paul man on the city’s East Side.
Along with the four juveniles arrested in the assault of Ray Widstrand in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood, police arrested Issac Maiden, 19, of St. Paul. Maiden was charged Friday with first-degree assault, first-degree aggravated robbery and crime to benefit a gang.
The cases against the four juveniles are being referred to the Ramsey County attorney’s office, police spokesman Howie Padilla said. He said police are continuing to investigate the incident.
Widstrand, 26, suffered potentially fatal brain swelling after he was assaulted by a group estimated at 30 to 50 young people about 11:30 p.m. near Preble Street and Minnehaha Avenue. He was walking near his apartment when he was hit in the head, fell to the ground and was kicked and stomped, according to the criminal complaint against Maiden.
When police arrived, members of the group fled and Widstrand was found bleeding from the nose and mouth, with his pants removed and shirt torn, according to the complaint. The complaint said the young people involved in the assault were members of the East Side Boys, or its affiliate, Ham Crazy. The young people were at a party when a fight started outside and other attendees went outside to watch. That’s when Widstrand apparently tried to walk past.
Oh but there’s more… this story made it to international news:
So much for the global media “conspiracy” to keep black-on-white violence out of news reporting.
Curiosity got the better of me and I just had to look… what exactly has Colin Flaherty been writing about for the better part of a year?
I see. Let’s just click on Page 10 and see what’s over there:
This so-much reminds me of those crackpot scientific “studies” from back in the 80s during the crack-cocaine crime epidemic that tried to paint black people as having problems with their brains, or their DNA was designed to make them poor, etc. By concocting this faux media conspiracy, he’s desperate to secure more ill-deserved legitimacy for himself [and hey, there’s the book sales].
You know, like how Art Bell needs people to believe in space aliens. At least there’s a statistical argument to be had about other intelligent beings living elsewhere besides Earth. With Flaherty, all he has for references is his book. “Pulitzer stuff!” says WorldNetDaily on the inside reviews.
What’s so much more puzzling to me are Flaherty’s core consumers of his groupthink: white people who carefully economically remove themselves from low-income black people as much as possible. I guess these folk need Flaherty to help scare themselves periodically so they can keep their moorings.
The underlying tone Flaherty makes when he writes about Ray Widstrand’s beating is not just that the men who beat him up were black, and Ray was white. It’s that Ray Widstrand chose to live in a black neighborhood. That’s the biggest sin of all.
It reminds me so much of this op-ed in PhillyMag over a week ago from Maya K. Francis dripping with connotations about higher income people moving into urban life; all the urban problems that exist now have congealed and are focused squarely on the new fashionable root cause: the urban gentrifier who is typically white or Asian. Because, you know… everything was totally fine before these people appeared; if you want to go to bed at night near low-income black people there MUST be something wrong with you.
For all that talk of diversity that corporations have made under the threat of lawsuit and the spam of how life will one day become a Bennaton ad, it seems plenty of white people and black people from the outside looking in and vice versa cannot stomach the idea of someone moving into a neighborhood that’s the farthest away from their demographic composition as one could get.
The lamenting about Starbucks and Real Estate Tax hikes from Francis’ piece is not that much different to me in argument than PhillyMag’s abortion of an article: Being White in Philly. And it’s not all that different from Colin Flaherty’s sensationalist writings about a great global media cover-up of black on white crime.
It’s the same broken record: people of different incomes and different races should not live near one another, and neither should neighborhoods ever become transitional because change is always bad/immoral/evil, etc. I’m at least grateful that hipsters don’t have the attention spans to absorb any of this giant backstory and simply just move wherever the fuck they can afford to and couldn’t give a shit what mainstream people think about it.
As for Ray Widstrand, I hope he manages to recover. He may have permanent brain damage and if he does, I’m hopeful he’ll still be a lot less damaged than certain peoples’ thinking and attitudes.
I’m sure Flaherty’s waiting any day now for that Pulitzer.