Pennsylvania Has a Wage Theft Problem

My essay on wage theft in PA is live right now at Speak Easy. Please read, share, comment, whatever and read the original report by he Schuller Center here (PDF).

Everyone Organized Against Rape

Everyone Organized Against Rape

Beth Boyle

The offices of Women Organized Against Rape are quiet. Polite signage around the waiting room requests that doors be shut with care and cell phones should not be used. The staff speaks in soft, polite tones and there are white noise machines to keep conversation during counseling sessions from being overheard. WOAR offers private and group counseling to adults (male and female), teens, LGBTQ and child survivors of sexual assault and abuse, so the need for privacy and a feeling of safety is of utmost importance.

“You know you’re my fourth interview today? It’s not even noon!” WOAR’s Executive Director Carole Johnson smiles as she says it. The phone ringing, her stacked schedule and the media attention all means that WOAR is doing what it’s supposed to do: provide as much support as possible to sexual assault survivors every step of their way. WOAR’S services include: court and medical accompaniment, counseling and support for survivors and their loved ones, and education and outreach to campuses, workplaces and community groups and awareness-raising events.

Carole Johnson at work

Carole Johnson working on her next proposal (photo credit: Beth Boyle)


Their next big event is the 9th annual Take It All Back walk on April 26th. April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. One of the pivotal organizers of the event and WOAR counselor Alea Cummings said, “The name is a reference to the Take Back the Night. We wanted to do something like that, but Take It All Back is intended to be more inclusive, and to break down the myth that sexual assaults only happen at night. This event is for everyone. We didn’t want anyone to think, ‘It didn’t happen to me at night, I must not count.’”

Whereas most days at WOAR are quiet, Take It All Back is about making noise. “Our event is survivor-centric. We sing, we chant, we carry signs, there’s a drumline. When we get to the Independence Visitor’s Center, there’s a SPEAK OUT where survivors tell their stories, read poems, just open up. We’ll also have food and this year we’will have Zumba breaks. It can get pretty intense and we want to encourage healthy coping.”

Women Organized Against Rape was founded in 1971 as one of the first rape crisis centers in the U.S. After taking early retirement from her position as HR Director at AT&T, Carole came to WOAR, first as a volunteer, then gradually moved up to Executive Assistant in 1990. Alea came to WOAR as a graduate intern 2011 to May of 2013 and then returned as a counselor in June of 2013. Continue reading

Philly Graffiti Style 2014

Since the 70’s, graffiti (defined as any scribbling, writing or drawing done illicitly on a public space) has covered every spare space in cities. In 2002 the Department of Justice reported that the U.S. spends $12 billion on cleaning up graffiti every year. I talked to writers past and present (that’s why MD hid his face and requested I not use his real name) about why they risk jail time, fights and physical harm to write their name.

Alleged Union T.H.U.G.S. Accused of Arson and Racketeering

10 members of Ironworkers Local 401 were arrested earlier today on charges of arson and racketeering. T.H.U.G.S stand for “The Helpful Union GuyS”, one of the nicknames the crew alleged led by Joseph Dougherty gave themselves.
Plenty of people in Philadelphia (including Your Author) have strong feelings and real cynicism about union labor:


Philadelphia’s City Hall houses the city’s Court of Common Pleas

Philadelphia’s City Hall houses the city’s Court of Common Pleas

Philadelphia’s City Hall houses the city’s Court of Common Pleas

Philadelphia, Pa–This  following semester, Temple University journalism students Naveed Ahsan, Beth Boyle and Ashley Dougherty will serve as crime beat reporters in the Philadelphia area over the next few months.

With thousands of employed police officers and dozens of prisons, Philadelphia and its suburbs are often perceived as criminal hotbeds.

The group will not only provide frequent crime updates but also explore several community crime prevention groups. For example, Mothers in Charge is an advocacy group that offers grief support for mothers who’ve lost children due to violence and also provides mentorship programs for young adults. Crime reports are largely comprised of facts and figures. Consequently, journalists fail to provide portraits of the actual victims and survivors.

Naveed, Beth and Ashley are also going to explore the streets of both Philadelphia and the suburbs to cover everything from court trials to petty crimes.

Covering more than 140 square miles, the Philadelphia Police Department is one of the nation’s largest police forces, dealing with crimes every single day. Stations in Philadelphia’s suburbs, including Springfield, Lower Merion and Upper Darby have much smaller forces and Naveed, Beth and Ashley are interested in looking into the differences that city and suburban officers face.

The trio of journalists will also take a look inside local courthouses. Philadelphia is home to numerous courthouses including the U.S. Federal Courthouse and the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice.

Media, located just outside Philadelphia, is home to the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas. With 20 judges and three senior judges, this courthouse is part of the trial level court system in Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Police Department has its own blog, where crime reports and crime maps can be found. Other local media, like and Action News cover crime throughout the city and its suburbs.

Crime is a common occurrence around the city and many stories don’t make the news, so Naveed, Beth and Ashley are looking to uncover those types of stories.

Sources for the pieces will vary. The trio is hoping to speak with officials–including police officers and judges–as well as Philadelphia citizens affected by crime. Court documents and police reports will also be used as primary sources for each of the stories that will be posted throughout the semester.