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Arlen Specter - We the People
Arlen Specter, the Senator from Pennsylvania, announced that he would change over from being a Republican to a Democrat today, much to the consternation of his fellow republicans.
Arlen Specter is only one of three politicians during my adult life that I have ever had any respect for. All three were Senators. He is the only Republican.
"We The People"
I was living on South 6th st. in Philadelphia, much to my distaste, in late 1991 early 1992. It was the height of the Crack epidemic. I was unemployed as it seemed that the economy of the whole Mid-Atlantic coast had collapsed with the closing of the steel mills. I was living with my girlfriend of that time whom also happened to have a beautiful 3 year old daughter. I loved this beautiful little girl. I would take her on walks almost every day.
There was a playground on Catharine St. only 3 blocks from our flat. It was right in the middle of the block with beautiful wrought iron fencing with a matching gate. The problem with this playground was that it was littered with thousands of crack vials, and hundreds of used needles. There was also a stained mattress for just the right effect. She had seen the playground equipment and wanted to play. It killed me to deny those beautiful innocent eyes any reasonable request. The answer was no.
I went back to the area a few days later on my own to scope the scene. This is also the street that would I would later witness a carjacking, but that is another story. Now there was a filthy pair of old pants to decorate the mattress. I was fuming with outrage at the idea of the whole thing. I called the police. They blew me off. I went to the police station. The experience was like a bad movie. A worn out old sergeant, with a hell of an south Philly accent, sighed and asked me if I had been witness to an actual crime. I told him that it was littered with drug paraphernalia and dirty needles. Again he asked if I had actually seen a crime take place. I told him no and started on a tirade about playgrounds and crack heads and the least they could do is get someone to clean it up and patrol the area. He told me that they had more important things to do and take it up with city hall. So I did.
They sent me to this department, that department on and on. So I went to the top. The Mayor’s office. They informed me that the appropriate departments were doing their jobs and to please go away. I tried to get radical and strong arm them. I would go to the media. Newspapers and TV news. The mayors office told me to f^*# myself in almost so many words.
Up the ladder
The state Representative’s office wouldn’t deal with it. They said that was a local issue. State Senator? The same. The Governor’s office gave me the run around and around and around. What was my problem? Why wouldn’t I just leave well enough alone? I looked up who the United States Senator for our area was. I was new to the town and hadn’t a clue.
What was this going to get me? I had been a bit of an activist and seen that government does what it does, and it does not take “people” into account. The Senator in question was Arlen Specter. A Republican to boot. Oh well, I wasn’t stopping till I had run the gamut. I called the Senators local office to be told that he was in DC. “Oh great” I thought. At least the local office in Philly might take issues in their own yard more seriously. I figured I was wasting my time but called and left my message for the Senator with some young secretary, or page or whatever they were called.
Two days later I got a call from the Senators office, stating that the Senator had felt strongly about my plight. Here is where I was thinking, “Yeah yeah, but blah blah blah”, but was shocked, as what the young gentleman was saying soaked in. He informed me that an effort to rectify the problem was already underway.
I walked down to the playground and was astounded that there were several city trucks and quite a few people, also from the city, cleaning up the place. I asked one of them what was going on and was told that it was getting cleaned up. Still feeling jaded I pointed to some of the many crack vials still laying around and said something to the effect that it would do no good when it got dark and “They” came back. He told me that the city was now responsible for locking the gate every night and the area would be patrolled. I stood there in shock. No photo op. Nothing in the news. Just action.
A few days later I took her to play at the playground. I looked into those big beautiful innocent eyes, as tears rolled from mine. There was something right about the world. I had found some justice for the people.
The Playground 17 years later
Once again I found myself losing all hope in our government. It is my belief that the “Golden Prince” Obama has been made out to be, is losing some of his shine. I did not ascribe to all the Obama hype, though I did figure he was our best shot. I have been waiting for a sign that he either was, or was not all that he was cracked up to be. So today when I heard on NPR that Obama had tried to uphold some of the Bush administration’s policies on “State Secrets” being held from a court of Law, I couldn’t help feeling the bile from a jaded man start to rise again. I was once again given hope as the Federal Appeals Court ruled against the Obama administration’s policy and stated that there are no “secrets” from a court of law. The very next story was about Arlen Specter leaving the GOP (Grand Old Party- The Republicans) to cross the isle and become a Democrat. I do not think that this is the Godsend that will solve all of our problems. I dont agree with many of his stands. He is a politician. Although he may still be a politician, at least once, he took the time to help “The People”. The little people.