Kerry Seeks Release of Roberts' Documents
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jul 23, 1:09 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. John Kerry urged the White House on Friday to release "in their entirety" all documents and memos from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' tenure in two Republican administrations.
"We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record," said the Massachusetts senator who was his party's presidential candidate last year.
Opening what is expected to be a broader attempt by Democrats to pry loose documents, Kerry issued his statement as Roberts made the latest in a series of courtesy calls on senators in advance of confirmation hearings.
Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel's office from 1982-1986. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
The Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, Calif., holds an unknown number of documents relating to Roberts, arranged by subject matter. While material in some subjects are designated on the library's Web site as available to the public, most is not.
Among the publicly unavailable material is an entry marked "Specter, Senator." Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Roberts' nomination, beginning either in late August or early September.
The Democratic officials said Democrats also are eager to learn details of Roberts' activities in Florida in 2000, at the time of the state's contested presidential recount. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to provide details.
An attorney in private practice at the time, Roberts flew to the state at his own expense to offer advice to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, as the governor's older brother tried to clinch the election over then-Vice President Al Gore.
The Democratic officials described the search for information as routine in the case of any nominee to the Supreme Court.
Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, declined to confirm the disclosure. She said that in general, Democrats intend to seek material relating to Roberts' career.
Kerry is not a member of the committee. But he nonetheless injected himself into the debate at the end of a week in which Bush appeared to catch Democrats off guard by picking a court candidate with conservative credentials, yet one with little judicial experience, and thus, little public paper trail. Roberts would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who often provided the decisive vote in split decisions, sometimes siding with conservative justices and sometimes with the liberals.
"The American people should know whether John Roberts will protect their constitutional rights if confirmed as a justice to the court," Kerry said in a statement.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asked on ABC earlier this week about providing documents to the Senate, said, "I'm not going to prejudge ... at this juncture what the Senate may request and what information that the executive branch is ultimately going to provide to the Senate."
Roberts sat down with senators in their offices for a third day Friday, making the rounds of those who will sit in judgment of his nomination. He has additional visits scheduled for next week.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said he voted against Roberts in committee for his appeals court seat two years ago partly because he didn't feel the nominee fully answered senators' questions.
"I urged Judge Roberts, as far as he can legally within the canons of ethics, to be forthcoming and honest with his answers," Durbin said after their meeting. "If he is open and honest, I think it will go a long way."
There was upbeat Republican talk after Roberts' meetings with Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Sessions, whose own nomination to the federal bench was scuttled by Democrats before his election to the Senate, said Roberts "has the very natural qualities to make a superior judge."
AP Special Correspondent David Espo contributed to this report.
Bill's Comment: It sounds like Senator Lurch and the cronies on the far left are on a fishing expedition. It is a shame that him and his wife couldn't release all of their financial records, as required by law, during last year's Presidential campaign. Oh, I forgot. Those like the junior Senator from Massachusetts want to have it both ways.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Kerry Seeks Release of Roberts' Documents
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:52:00 PM
Roberts Makes Gains Toward Senate Approval
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
Thu Jul 21, 6:45 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court nominee John Roberts gained ground Thursday in his drive for Senate confirmation. He was rated a "non-activist judge, which everyone is looking for," by the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and was praised by several centrist Democrats.
"I'm enjoying my visits here in the Senate very much," said the 50-year-old appeals court judge, named to succeed Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
On the second day of a White House-choreographed confirmation campaign, Roberts had yet to draw the public opposition of a single Senate Democrat. Talk of a filibuster and partisan political brawl over the first Supreme Court vacancy in 11 years was nonexistent.
Democrats intend to use confirmation hearings later this summer to question Roberts on his views on abortion, the overturning of court precedent, invalidating acts of Congress and more. A separate struggle awaits if, as expected, they seek access to internal Justice Department memos from his days as a government attorney.
Roberts' second day of courtesy calls included Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Charles Schumer of New York, two of the three Democrats who opposed his nomination to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals two years ago.
Schumer said he gave Roberts a list of more than 70 questions and told him to "be prepared to answer them in the best way he can" when the hearings begin.
Some were broadly written, such as, "Is it appropriate for the Supreme Court to overturn a well-settled precedent, upon which Americans have come to rely?"
Others sought the nominee's opinion about well-known and controversial decisions of the past, such as, "Do you believe that Roe v. Wade ... was correctly decided? What is your view of the quality of the legal reasoning in that case? Do you believe that it reached the right result." Roe. v. Wade is the landmark 1973 case that established a woman's right to an abortion.
After spending an hour with Roberts on Wednesday, Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Thursday, "I think we have a man, I would interpret it, who is a non-activist judge, which everybody is looking for. Both sides are looking for a non-activist judge."
Specter, R-Pa., said Roberts had told him he didn't prefer labels such as liberal or conservative and "his view was that the court ought to be modest. ... The other word which he used which I thought was important was an emphasis on stability. When you talk about a modest approach by a court and an approach on stability, I think you have critical ingredients of a judge who would be non-activist."
Specter's remarks suggested he did not believe Roberts would inject personal views into his judicial rulings, a comment of potential political significance coming from a senior Republican who has long supported abortion rights.
It marked the second time in two days that Roberts' nomination was boosted by Republican senators known for reaching across party lines. On Wednesday, John McCain, R-Ariz., said Roberts did not meet the definition of "extraordinary circumstances" that would justify a filibuster under a compromise worked out by 14 senators earlier this spring.
While Senate Democrats generally have declined to express positions on Roberts' nomination, there were expressions of praise from some among the group involved in this spring's compromise.
Ben Nelson, D-Neb., said Bush had made a "wise choice." Said Sen. Mark Pryor (news, bio, voting record) of Arkansas, "So far, so good."
Some abortion rights organizations have announced their opposition, expressing fears Roberts will become part of a court majority that first erodes and eventually overturns the historic 1973 ruling.
NARAL Pro-Choice America has cited a legal brief he co-authored for a Supreme Court case while serving as deputy solicitor general in the administration of the first President Bush. "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled," it said in part.
Asked about the legal filing, Roberts told senators during 2003 confirmation hearings to his current post that he would be guided by legal precedent. "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent," he said at the time.
Specter, too, said he intended to pursue the issue.
"Now I don't know if that means it's settled for a circuit judge or if it's settled generally, but I intend to look at that," he said. The Pennsylvanian added, though, that he would not ask Roberts whether he would vote to sustain the 1973 ruling if the nominee became a justice.
At the same time, an AP-Ipsos showed that 52 percent of all Americans — and 60 percent of women — want to know Roberts' position on abortion before the Senate votes on his nomination.
The nervousness about Roberts among abortion rights groups has been fueled by his resume. He served in two Republican administrations and was appointed to the appeals court two years ago by Bush. Women's groups aligned with Democrats also point to comments from conservative activists who have praised Roberts' selection.
There is little in Roberts' record to guide partisans on either side of the abortion record.
Even before Bush publicly announced his selection, the White House has worked to assure abortion opponents and other conservatives that he would fulfill their hopes. These activists appear to be acting in part on political faith, however, choosing to accept reassurances from the White House and intermediaries who know Roberts and have vouched for him.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:49:00 PM
Pilots Arrested for Disability Payments
By KIM CURTIS, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jul 19, 2:36 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO - Forty pilots were arrested after an investigation found they were licensed to fly but were receiving Social Security disability payments for a variety of illnesses, federal officials said.
The pilots, who include commercial and transport pilots, claimed to be medically fit to fly airplanes. However, they may have been flying with debilitating illnesses that should have kept them grounded, ranging from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to drug and alcohol addiction and heart conditions, said Marlon Cobar, a prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney's office in Fresno.
An 18-month review of 40,000 pilots in Northern California began in July 2003 as a Homeland Security project to look into the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.
When dozens of names turned up in both Social Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration rolls, "they realized there was probably criminal wrongdoing — either lying to the FAA or wrongfully receiving benefits," Cobar said.
The FAA immediately revoked 14 pilots' licenses and medical certificates, which are necessary to maintain a valid license, the U.S. attorney's office said. Others were referred for administrative revocation.
"We chose the most egregious," Cobar said Monday. "You can't really fly a plane if you're telling the Social Security Administration you have a disabling back condition or bipolar disorder."
Other pilots not yet charged were found to be lying about having illnesses in order to collect the Social Security payment, Cobar said.
FAA spokesman Donn Walker said it was unclear how many of the pilots flew for a living, but that at least a dozen of them held commercial or airline transport licenses.
Thirty pilots are charged with making false statements to a government agency, and 10 are charged with making and delivering a false official writing.
On the Net:
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:48:00 PM
McDonald's Plans to Stay at Ohio Hospital
By M.R. KROPKO, AP Business Writer
Fri Jul 22, 8:50 PM ET
CLEVELAND - The McDonald's restaurant in the food court at one of the nation's top heart hospitals is now offering up veggie burgers and carrot sticks.
And both sides say the tension is easing over whether cheeseburgers and fries belong in a place where patients struggling with coronary artery disease are trying to avoid fast food.
"We are generally pleased with the progress that has been made so far and will continue to work toward improvements on menu items and cooking techniques," Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil said.
Cardiac surgeon Toby Cosgrove, who is also the hospital's chief executive officer, questioned last year whether the fast-food restaurant belonged at the Cleveland Clinic.
McDonald's has about nine years left on a 20-year lease, and the disagreement over whether it should remain there resulted in several meetings involving hospital officials and executives from the Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's Corp.
The hospital and McDonald's issued statements of conciliation Friday, after Cosgrove was quoted in The Plain Dealer saying that he met with McDonald's officials a few months ago and told them he would love for the McDonald's to stay "if they clean up their act."
Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil said Cosgrove was unavailable for comment Friday.
Turan Strange, the owner of the McDonald's franchise at the Cleveland Clinic, said that the restaurant has satisfied the Clinic's concerns.
"I've said all along, we value our relationship with the Cleveland Clinic and welcome the opportunity to help our customers understand how our menu can fit into a balanced, active lifestyle," Strange said.
A fruit and walnut salad, which can now be found at McDonald's restaurants elsewhere, were first offered at the Cleveland Clinic in part because of the company's discussions with the hospital, McDonald's corporate spokesman Bill Whitman said.
On the Net:
Cleveland Clinic: http://www.clevelandclinic.org
McDonald's Corp.: http://www.mcdonalds.com
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:46:00 PM
Good news for dark chocolate-lovers
Tue Jul 19,10:12 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dark chocolate can not only soothe your soul but can lower blood pressure too, researchers reported Monday.
The study, published by the American Heart Association, joins a growing body of research that show compounds found in chocolate called flavonoids can help the blood vessels work more smoothly, perhaps reducing the risk of heart disease.
"Previous studies suggest flavonoid-rich foods, including fruits, vegetables, tea, red wine and chocolate, might offer cardiovascular benefits, but this is one of the first clinical trials to look specifically at dark chocolate's effect on lowering blood pressure among people with hypertension," said Jeffrey Blumberg of Tufts University in Boston, who led the study.
"This study is not about eating more chocolate," Blumberg added. "It suggests that cocoa flavonoids appear to have benefits on vascular function and glucose sensitivity."
Scientists are far from being able to make specific recommendations for patients based on their research on chocolate, and nutritionists have urged people to be cautious because chocolate is high in fat, sugar and calories.
Blumberg and colleagues at the University of L'Aquila in Italy studied 10 men and 10 women with high blood pressure.
For 15 days, half ate a daily 3.5 ounce (100 gram) bar of specially formulated, flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, while the other half ate the same amount of white chocolate.
Then each group "crossed over" and ate the other chocolate.
"White chocolate, which has no flavonoids, was the perfect control food because it contains all the other ingredients and calories found in dark chocolate," Blumberg said.
"It's important to note that the dark chocolate we used had a high level of flavonoids, giving it a slightly bittersweet taste. Most Americans eat milk chocolate, which has a low amount of these compounds."
Writing in the journal Hypertension, Blumberg's team said when the volunteers ate the special dark chocolate, they had a 12 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and a 9 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) on average.
Blood pressure did not change when the volunteers ate white chocolate.
"This is not only a statistically significant effect, but it's also a clinically meaningful decline," Blumberg said. "This is the kind of reduction in blood pressure often found with other healthful dietary interventions."
Eating dark chocolate also seemed to improve how the body used insulin, and reduced low density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol by about 10 percent on average.
"The findings do not suggest that people with high blood pressure should eat lots of dark chocolate in lieu of other important blood pressure-reduction methods, such as medication and exercise," Blumberg said. "Rather, we are identifying specific flavonoids that can have a benefit on blood pressure and insulin sensitivity."
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:45:00 PM
Feds propose changes in mortgage rules
Feds propose changes in mortgage rules
Monday July 18, 6:00 am ET
The federal housing department wants to simplify the process of getting a mortgage and, on Thursday, proposed changes in the paperwork that borrowers get from prospective lenders.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development recommended alterations Thursday in the good-faith estimate, or GFE. The housing agency revealed the proposal at a round-table, organized by HUD, in which bankers, title companies, consumer groups and others were invited to argue, discuss and occasionally agree.
HUD wants to amend the regulations enforcing the law that governs loan closings. The law, called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA, would remain the same. But HUD's secretary, Alphonso Jackson, wants to change the rules under RESPA for two reasons: to make closing a mortgage less confusing to borrowers, and to prevent lenders from lowballing the closing costs in the GFE, then jacking up the costs at the closing table.
Surprises at closings
The GFE is not binding, so a lender can underestimate the closing costs, mistakenly or not. As a result, borrowers sometimes discover at the last hour that the final closing costs are a lot higher than the original estimate. When that happens, they have three choices: knuckle under and pay the higher costs, delay the closing, or nix the deal and start all over again, preferably with another lender.
HUD proposed a revised GFE document that would force lenders to give accurate estimates of closing costs. The proposed new GFE would have fewer categories of closing costs. It would separate settlement charges into three broad categories: the lender's service charges, charges for services that the lender selects, and charges for services that the borrower selects. The latter two categories overlap; the borrower can choose a slew of providers or can leave that chore in the hands of the lender.
More certainty at closing?
The lender's service charges listed in the GFE can't be increased. As for charges for services in which the lender selects the provider, the total can't rise more than 10 percent over the total listed on the GFE. The sky's the limit on upward revisions for charges for services in which the borrower selects the providers.
The draft GFE includes a worksheet that would make it easier for consumers to compare mortgage offers.
HUD proposed another document that lenders could use, called a Mortgage Package Offer, or MPO. It's a tuned-up version of an idea that HUD proposed but which was withdrawn last year after the industry complained.
With a Mortgage Package Offer, the lender would guarantee the rate and all of the settlement costs. All the settlement service providers, such as the title insurance company and flood certifier, would be selected by the lender. The MPO would guarantee one flat fee for all of those services, and it would guarantee an interest rate (if locked) and any discount fees or yield spread premiums.
A few lenders, such as ABN AMRO, E-Trade Mortgage, E-Loan and ditech.com, already offer bundled services in which all or most of the settlement services are guaranteed in one flat fee. A few years ago lenders were reluctant to offer flat-fee, bundled services because HUD's rules made such business practices risky. That's because RESPA forbids kickbacks.
Winking at volume discounts
A strict interpretation of RESPA's anti-kickback provision would make volume discounts illegal. If a credit bureau were to charge $24 for a credit report, but would be willing to charge $20,000 for 1,000 credit reports, the lender could charge each customer $20 for a credit report. But RESPA, strictly interpreted, wouldn't allow such a discount. And it certainly wouldn't allow the lender to charge $22 and pocket the extra two bucks as profit. Nor does RESPA seem to countenance average-cost pricing, in which a lender would charge every borrower $100 for services that sometimes cost $50 and sometimes $150, but on average $100.
By not going after ABN AMRO and other lenders that bundle settlement services, HUD has given its tacit OK for volume pricing and average-cost pricing. But, says Ann vom Eigen, legislative and regulatory counsel for the American Land Title Association, that approval hasn't been made explicit. Her organization would like HUD to do so.
Packaging is already happening, vom Eigen says, "so certain parts of the rule, as it would have been released in 2004, are clearly unnecessary at this point in time."
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:43:00 PM
Hewlett-Packard to Slash 14,500 Jobs
By MATTHEW FORDAHL, AP Technology Writer
Tue Jul 19, 5:39 PM ET
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Striving for Dell Inc.'s efficiency and IBM Corp.'s breadth, Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday it will cut 14,500 jobs and overhaul its retirement plan in a move that all but buries the legendary company-employee bond known as the "HP Way."
The computer and printer maker once known for treating employees like family said it will save $1.9 billion a year as it trims its global work force of 151,000 by 10 percent over the next 18 months.
HP did not specify where jobs will be lost. But executives said support jobs will be most affected — in information technology, human resources and finance — as they weed out inefficiencies.
"Cost structures and revenue growth go hand-in-hand," said chief executive Mark Hurd, who has been on the job four months. "We know that only by having a competitive cost structure can we compete aggressively in the marketplace, thereby growing the company for our employees, customers and shareholders."
Hurd was hired away from NCR Corp. with a mandate to perform painful surgery that HP's board had sought but failed to obtain from Carly Fiorina. The board fired Fiorina as CEO in February.
Tuesday's was just the latest in a series of moves by the Palo Alto company become more competitive in an industry dominated by lower-cost rivals. Critics contend that such moves have obliterated the workplace philosophy espoused by William Hewlett and David Packard, who founded HP in 1939.
But Hurd, like his predecessor, argues that the changes are necessary.
Rivals including Dell in computers and IBM in consulting services have managed to squeeze higher profits. At the same time, HP's highly profitable printer and ink business is coming under increasing threat.
Though HP has remained largely profitable, its stock has underperformed most of its rivals.
Shares of HP fell 40 cents to close at $24.52 in Tuesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's stock has risen some 19 percent since Jan. 1, but remains well below its peak during the technology boom.
"Our objective is to create a simpler, nimbler HP," Hurd said.
Beginning in January, HP will freeze the pension and retiree medical-program benefits of current employees who don't meet defined criteria based on age and years of company service. The company said it instead plans to boost its matching contribution to most employees' 401(k) plans to 6 percent from 4 percent.
HP said the changes won't affect benefits currently received by retirees or eligible employees who are longer-serving and close to retirement age. Existing employees will retain benefits they have already earned.
"People who have been around the company a long time and have a clear idea of what HP culture is all about aren't seeing such a big change," said Eric Johnson, a former HP employee who is now a Dartmouth College business professor.
"For the next group, it's definitely a little less paternalistic, a little harder, colder, rough and tumble world," he said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hurd said the philosophy known as the HP Way has morphed over the years.
"If you looked at the great days of HP, when things needed to get done, they got done," he said. "This was something we needed to get done."
Some analysts see the restructuring as just a first of several steps needed before HP can realize its potential.
"This is a triage," said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research. He said Hurd was taking the first steps of getting costs in line and simplifying the corporate structure.
Left unresolved, however, is how HP can turn its size and position into new sales and persuade customers that its products best offerings from Dell or IBM.
For years, HP has derived most of its profits from the sale of printers and ink. In an attempt to strengthen its computer offerings, HP acquired Compaq Computer Corp. in 2002 in an acrimonious proxy battle.
The $19 billion purchase didn't reap the benefits Fiorina promised, and the company briefly considered splitting itself up into several parts. Just before Fiorina's firing, she merged the weak PC business with the profitable printer division — a move Hurd reversed.
"HP has been a fairly messed up company over the last few years," said Mark Stahlman, an analyst at Caris & Co.
In corporate servers, software and consulting, IBM has both a solid reputation and legions of consultants who advise corporations on technology buying decisions and point to IBM's offerings.
At the other end is Dell and its efficient PC manufacturing and distribution system that HP has had difficult matching.
On Monday, the research firm IDC report Dell's PC sales grew by 23.7 percent while No. 2 HP posted an increase of just 16.3 percent.
Beginning in fiscal 2007, HP expects to save about $1.9 billion a year from the restructuring, including $1.6 billion in labor costs and $300 million in benefits savings. In fiscal 2006, HP expects savings of between $900 million and $1.05 billion from the restructuring.
The company said about half the savings will be used to "offset market forces" or be reinvested in the business. The remainder is anticipated to add to operating profit.
HP plans to record pretax restructuring charges of about $1.1 billion over the next six quarters, beginning in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005. This excludes a previously announced $100 million restructuring charge to be taken in the third quarter.
Though the cost-cutting runs counter to some parts of HP's culture, it's reinvigorating others, said Cindy Shaw, a Moors & Cabot analyst.
"One of the things that's been lost and under appreciated is that Hewlett and Packard themselves very much held people accountable," she said. "Over the last decade or two, the accountability thing was falling out of the company culture."
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 09:41:00 PM
Lord Alfred Hayes passes away
LORD ALFRED HAYES
1928 – 2005
WWE lost a beloved member of its family on Wednesday when Lord Alfred Hayes passed away at the age of 76.
Hayes joined World Wrestling Entertainment in the early 1980s and soon became a television mainstay. His wit, distinctive accent and colorful insights helped make Hayes one of his time’s most remembered personalities. Hayes provided commentary for the WrestleMania 2 main event, pitting Hulk Hogan against King Kong Bundy, but he was perhaps best known as the broadcast partner on such programs as The Bobby Heenan Show and Tuesday Night Titans, alongside Vince McMahon. An accomplished wrestler himself, Hayes also managed such Superstars as WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter.
His voice, which graces countless video releases and matches, has become synonymous with 1980s WWE, and his contributions were integral to the company’s success during that time.
"His Lordship" will be greatly missed.
Bill's Comment: Here is a link for the fans, including me, of "his Lordship". (You may have to copy and paste it.):
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 7/23/2005 05:57:00 PM
Joyce Comments: This is pleasant news to share about New Jersey, for once. I live in a town in southern New Jersey next door to Moorestown to the West and William also lives in a town next door to Moorestown to the East.
By GEOFF MULVIHILL
The Associated Press
MOORESTOWN, N.J. - In this tree-lined suburb of Philadelphia, the schools are considered top-notch, police dutifully caution motorists who don't yield to pedestrians and, each winter, they make a big deal out of something called Random Acts of Kindness Week.
If you think that makes Moorestown sound idyllic, you're not alone. In an issue being sent to subscribers this week, Money magazine proclaims it the nation's best place to live.
Money looked at towns with at least 14,000 people and crunched the numbers on population, property value, school quality, recreation, safety and other factors. Magazine reporters were dispatched to the 12 top towns to decide which had the most community spirit.
After Moorestown, the top towns were Bainbridge Island, Wash.; Naperville, Ill.; Vienna, Va.; and Louisville, Colo. Three other New Jersey towns were in the top 100: Chatham, 9; Princeton, 15; and Hackettstown, 72.
Craig Matters, a senior editor at Money, said the list will likely have more of an effect on bragging rights than on anything like real estate prices. The magazine publishes annual lists of other best places to live, focusing in past years on small towns, coastal communities.
"It's a point of civic pride. It ends up on all their stationery, on all their Web sites," Matters said. "It's not like these places have inferiority complexes to begin with."
In Michael's Kitchen, a couple of tables full of mostly retired men gather each morning for pancakes, coffee, jokes and complaints about their town's rising taxes, worsening traffic and the swath of homes that has replaced farmland over the last 15 years or so.
So, what about the title from Money?
"Everything you'd want in a nice small hometown America is right here in Moorestown," said Joseph Wujcik, 72, who grew up in Moorestown, ran his pharmacy and raised six children here before retiring to a smaller house in nearby Mount Laurel.
Moorestown, with a hair under 20,000 people, was settled in 1682. By the 1920s, it was a desirable address for the captains of industry in Camden and Philadelphia. The town's roots in Quakerism - a practice that values simplicity - helped bring it a reputation for not flaunting its wealth.
The old-timers at breakfast say that's one thing that has changed in zip code 08057. "They want you to know," said Alex McGugan, 74, a retired golf pro. "That's why they move into town."
Plenty of executives still inhabit its 15-square miles. But the best-known citizens these days are a number of Philadelphia Eagles players, including star quarterback Donovan McNabb.
There are century-old mansions in one part of town, newer "McMansions" in another and neighborhoods of postwar suburban-style homes that help account for the $375,000 median price tag on a single-family home. There's a buzzing downtown full of law offices, antique shops and independent shops such as the beloved Peter Pan Bakery and Happy Hippo toys. A large mall sits near the border.
Moorestown is still a place where the community musical production (this summer, it's "Oklahoma!") is one of the biggest events of the year. And each February, the town takes a week to celebrate being nice. This year, child "kindness ambassadors" met with the mayor to talk about passing along civility.
It's a town where streets this summer are lined with 30 painted statues of Nipper, the Victor Talking Machine Co.'s iconic mascot, in honor of company founder and native son Eldridge Johnson.
It's a place where moms like Maura Rafferty let their children walk downtown by themselves for ice cream or pretzels. "They do old-fashioned stuff," said the mother of three, who moved to town from another suburb four years ago.
And the children don't forget.
"We raised five children here," said Pat Miller, whose husband is a former mayor. "All of them want to come back."
July 11, 2005 12:07 PM
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 7/23/2005 01:58:00 PM
Joyce Comments: A British friend of mine shared this poem with me the day of the second wave of terrorist attempted attacks in London, where she lives. It's a terrific poem so I will share it will you. The resilence and resoluteness of the British are admired and shared with them because it could have just as easily have been us instead of one of our country's best allies. Enjoy the poem.
You come to place your bags of hate
On bus and train, you made us late
Yet we'll be back again tomorrow
We'll carry on despite our sorrow
Your bags of hate caused some to die
Yet we stride out strong with heads held high
You'll never win, we will not bow.
You can't defeat us, you don't know how.
This London which we love with pride
Is a town where scum like you can't hide
Don't worry we will hunt you down.
Then Lock you up in name of the Crown.
We're London and we're many races,
Just look you'll see our stoic faces.
We all condemn your heinous act
You will not win and that's a fact.
We'll mourn our dead and shed a tear,
But we will not bow to acts of fear.
You're out there somewhere all alone,
There's nowhere now you can call home.
Olympics ours, we've won the race.
Your timing then, a real disgrace.
Our strength you'll find remains unbowed.
We're London and we're very proud.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 7/23/2005 01:46:00 PM