April 29, 2008

Benson and Koplitz to Co-Headline YLD Comedy Night Saturday, May 10

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Join the YLD for a night of laughs on Saturday, May 10 featuring opening act Anton Shuford and co-headliners Lynne Koplitz and Doug Benson of VH1's "Best Week Ever." Tickets are available now and include open bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres, a silent auction and a DJ.

All proceeds benefit the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

Register Online for Bar Association and School District A.C.E. Program

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Advancing Civics Education (A.C.E.) is a program launched by the Philadelphia Bar Association in partnership with public schools in Philadelphia to provide supplemental civics education — in areas such as fundamental principles of citizenship, democracy and dispute resolution — to ninth-grade public school students.

An understanding of civics, legal systems and civic participation is vital to the success of future generations. A.C.E. brings civics to life for Philadelphia high school students. This effort will complement the hard work of teachers and principals to create a bridge from middle school to high school that focuses upon each citizen's rights and responsibilities within our community, our Commonwealth and our rapidly changing world.

Sign up to volunteer here.

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Volunteers Needed for Tomorrow's Legal Advice Live! and Friday's Lawyer For a Day

The Young Lawyers Division of the Philadelphia Bar Association seeks volunteers for this week's Law Week events. Law Week is a series of programs that place Philadelphia lawyers of any age and law students in the community to educate the city's youth and public about the law through direct interaction.

Legal Advice Live! - A free, daylong ask-a-lawyer event spanning across Philadelphia. On Wednesday, April 30, dozens of Philadelphia attorneys will gather on Independence Mall to provide free, in-person legal advice from noon to 2 p.m. in Center City. Attorneys will provide answers to legal questions on a broad range of topics, including landlord/tenant law, divorce and child custody matters, wills and estate planning, real estate law and employment law. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Abbie DuFrayne.

Lawyer for a Day - Volunteer attorneys, law students and judges pair with high school students and take them into the courts to learn more about the process of the judicial system as well as the role lawyers, judges and juries play in our community. Several city courtrooms will be open to allow the participants to observe proceedings. This program starts at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 2 at the Philadelphia Bar Association, and all participants are invited back to the Association’s 11th floor Conference Center at noon for a concluding lunch, which includes a keynote by a guest speaker. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Carey Chopko or Corey Davis.

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Hey Wesley. You’ve Gotta Hear This! by Harper Dimmerman

An Inquirer article caught my astigmatic eye while I was news surfing on philly.com a few weeks ago. Great site because it gives you the option of real news and smut, all in one nifty little url. As it turns out, this particular piece addressed the latest plight of the city's ultra wealthy, property reassessments. Boo Hoo. First of all, I love hearing the lamentable tales of the rich. Plus taxes of all shapes and sizes, especially the BPT, are so near and dear to my heart. My curiosity had been piqued.

Before we get to talk of reassessment though, let's talk turkey. For the 2007 fiscal year, real estate taxes comprised the second largest source of revenue for the city, second only to wage and net profit taxes and weighing in at a whopping 408 million bucks. Now that's a whole lot of tax. Not enough though, some might say. It certainly wasn't enough to make a dent in the war against crime in this lawless city (you criminal defense lawyers know what I'm talkin' about). At about this same time last year, our murder rate was higher than New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. That's a staggering statistic. And I definitely think Mayor Nutter was onto something with his gun law. If anyone can put things back on track, I reckon it would be him.

So it's no secret that the Board of Revision of Taxes is poised to shake that money tree even harder over the next few years. They particularly like the pines, spruces and locusts. Get with the times BRT. Take South Jersey for instance. Rumor has it that some Haddonfield dwellers, for instance, have been known to fork over 15k, even 20k a year in property taxes. Now that's a whole lot of quaint. So to all you Philadelphia homeowners out there, take heed. Beware of tax hikes. Did I say all of us? Actually I meant to say, to all of you who are living large. And you know exactly who you are.

If you've been living in a Rittenhouse Square mansion for the past twenty years or so, munching on foie gras (do you munch on that stuff?) and pretending your property tax bill is hefty, be afraid, be very afraid. The BRT thinks you've been getting off way too easy. Thanks to the likes of Vince Fumo, the city's super wealthy are officially on the BRT's radar, and not in a good way. Hone in on the rich. Let them take the proverbial first shot.

And now for the data. Us lawyers love data. Some 54 homes in the city were just reassessed, sort of spot taxation, if you will. One of them is the $3 million home of the late novelist Pearl S. Buck. The owners of that little Delancey Place number saw a 28 percent tax hike. I'm ashamed to say that I practically grew up in town and had never even heard of Ms. Buck. At any rate, kudos Ms. Buck. You obviously did quite nicely for yourself. I also had no idea that the heir to the Tylenol fortune was living right here in the city of brotherly love. Mr. McNeill just got the dizzying news that the taxes on his $11 million Rittenhouse Square mansion were going up by 108 percent. Talk about getting a dose of his own (actually daddy's) medicine. And to see someone related to the world of pharmaceuticals suffer...

And then of course there's Mr. Fumo. His 27 room (let me repeat that – 27 room) Green Street mansion was the proud recipient of the largest tax hike on the BRT's most recent hit list. Apparently his tax bill will almost quadruple from a measly $6,611 to $25,201 next year. There are those republicans out there who might even say he deserved every red cent of it. Did he really though? I must admit that the prospect of the richest property owners finally paying their fair share excites me. And I believe that under this administration, those revenues will finally be put to good use. Who knows? Our haggard infrastructure and ailing public school system, amongst other things, might actually get a fighting chance.

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