Letters: Surefire ways to raise $ for schools

Posted: August 27, 2014

IT'S LATE August and Walmart is selling 10-cent spiral notebooks. Flip-flops and bathing suits are in the clearance bins, and backpacks and khaki pants, saddle shoes and golf shirts are overflowing in the aisles. The smell of chalk dust and pencil shavings is in the air and the School District of Philadelphia is $81 million short.

Do the same math wizards that run the flu vaccinations also control the district? Because every winter when our civilization is coughing, throwing up, battling a high fever, running for the toilet and sneezing out son of Flubber, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announce that there is a flu-shot shortage. Every year they fail to make enough flu shots and the supply runs out. It seems their miscalculations are as infectious as the flu here in Philly, because every summer we are told that the district doesn't have enough money.

Our elected officials tried to tax smokers with a $2-a-pack hit, and that didn't work. Not only will the puffers head over to Jersey for their smokes (along with their gas and their liquor), it's simply an unfair target. We already hit our drinkers up for a 10 percent drink tax and we still don't have enough money. All the tickets the Philadelphia Parking Authority gets you for, a portion of that is supposed to help public-school funding and we're still almost $100 million in the red.

Here are some ideas to get some extra change in the district's pockets before the first week of September. And memo to the flu-shot makers: Start cranking out the vials now, Einstein!

Rocky Statue Selfie Tax. Ya know more people visit that movie-boxer statue than climb the 72 steps and enter the Philadelphia Museum of Art? Already there is a guy selling knockoff Rocky T-shirts he hangs on a clothesline along the pavement, tying the ends to trees and light posts. He also charges you $1 to take a picture of you and Rocky Balboa with your camera or cellphone. Is the cash-register bell ringing in your ears yet, Superintendent Hite? Stallone went to Lincoln High, in Northeast Philly, and was a Railsplitter. $1 a snap for the Rocky Statue. Cha-Ching!

Skinny Jean Ban. Our redheaded stepbrother - Wildwood by the Sea, the summer home to many 215ers - implemented a droopy-drawers fine if you are on their boardwalk with your pants hanging down, exposing your underwear and butt. Let's do a reverse ban and start fining $25 for the horrible fashion faux pas of skinny jeans. Really, guys - nobody but the Ramones can pull off skinny jeans. And in tribute to Robin Williams' one-liners about men wearing ballet tights, the same can be said about skinny jeans: "Ah, yes, men wearing pants so tight that you can tell what religion they are."

School District Beer Garden. Like the lemmings trail of cupcake trucks and $8 gourmet hotdog carts, it seems a pop-up beer garden is the new thing to do here in Philadelphia. With the loophole of not needing a liquor license or anything else a brick-and-mortar corner taproom or restaurant has to have, why not open up a few of these puppies and hold disgruntled teacher-and-parent happy hours? $2 Jell-O shots and $1 domestic pints go a long way. Go ahead and make the apron of school district headquarters on North Broad Street a tiki bar, complete with umbrella drinks and bamboo barstools - all the cool nonprofits are doing it, much to the dismay of the state House of Representatives and legal bar owners. I bet Yards Brewery or Philadelphia Brewing Co. will brew you up a special IPA called No Child Left Behind Ale, or Late Slip Lager. The Home and School Association is bringing beer pong! Free appetizers during standardized testing week!

Bicycle Lane Tax. Why is it that I can get a moving violation for driving in the bus lane during rush hour but the entire population of hipsters living west of Broad Street can use 17th Street as their Tour de Philly? Not only is there not a bike lane, but you also ride in the middle of the street to the rhythm and pace of Barry Manilow's "Daybreak." Stay to the left or buy a $20-a-year special bike bell that rings the tune "Bicycle Race," by Queen. It will alert drivers that you are going to slow traffic down and cause delays. All proceeds go to the district.

The Happy Birthday Envelope. Why can't lobbyist-turned-FBI-undercover-stinger Tyron B. Ali give us an envelope with $81 million in it in exchange for some BS contract for food vending, printing, public relations, security-camera operations and all the other jib-jab the district doles out? During his sting with the state Attorney General's Office, they captured at least five Philadelphia legislators on tape, allegedly accepting gifts or money in envelopes. Happy birthday, School District of Philadelphia! Make a wish!

Made in America Swear Jar. The summer I graduated from high school, I shared a house in Wildwood with my friends. The swear jar paid for the keg on Friday nights, bail money on early Saturday mornings and pregnancy tests on Sunday afternoons, along with unlimited Curley's Fries from the boardwalk and our first college semester. With the "talent" we line up to perform on the Parkway during our Fourth of July Welcome America and our Labor Day's Made in America, we should place a swear jar on stage. Ten thousand for every F-bomb dropped. We'll be the richest school district in the country. Thank you, Kanye. Tell Kim we said hi.

Patty-Pat Kozlowski lives and writes in the Philadelphia river wards. She believes you should be charged extra for ordering sprinkles instead of jimmies, with the fines going toward district lunch programs.

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