by Jim Harris

YOU READ IT FIRST HERE, FOLKS: Our gigantic Pennsylvania Convention Center, with its recently completed $850 million taxpayer-supported expansion, is already up for sale to the lowest bidder. The purchase will come complete with ill-tempered workers from 478 different labor unions.

Due to Philadelphia’s ongoing budget crisis, a number of new cost-cutting measures are being implemented, including a municipal auction for the sale of surplus and seized goods. Bidding is open to the public, which means you can take advantage of these incredible bargains.

•Filing cabinets. Hardly ever used. Please make sure, before taking possession, to check inside the drawers for sleeping city employees, many of whom may have been there since the John Street Administration. Be sure to wake them up gently, and tactfully inform them that it is now 2011.

•A number of nice office chairs are also available, the only drawback being that inert bureaucrats have actual grown into them (like trees), and require the use of an industrial crowbar or the Jaws of Life to extricate them.

•9,000 obsolete parking meters. Put some in front of your house and take in a little extra money. Has the added advantage of discouraging relatives from visiting you.

•47 upscale coin-op outdoor toilet kiosks. The remnants of a failed, highly misguided experiment based on the insane idea that Philadelphia pedestrians would actually pay to go to the bathroom. Also available, 33 non-working Liquor Control Board wine-dispensing kiosks (without the wine).

•15 solar trash compactors. Although it is not yet public knowledge, other than for a bag of donuts and a pillow, these structures are completely empty. They are, in reality, just additional places for public employees to sleep. Once this becomes more widely known, more of these boxes will become available.

•A 600,000-square-foot convention center. The city has decided to cut its losses and sell the facility for a cool half-billion before it starts hemorrhaging money. Comes complete with ill-tempered workers from 478 different labor unions, including Paper Towel Dispenser Refillers Local 666.

•100,000 school books. Due to cuts in state funding for education, the city is forced to sell all of its school supplies. Proposals for new, cost-cutting schools include having children “auto-educate” (i.e. teach themselves), and having kids engage in full-time community service (like a job, but without the pay).

•A large collection of designer jackets and tee shirts. Previously worn by members of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, these items bear slogans like, “PHA — In Da House!” and “PHA — Party Hearty, Amigos!” Also available, the PHA yacht, “Frisky Bizness,” stocked with a year’s supply of champagne.

•A sampling of repossessed and impounded items includes: taxpayers’ shirts, drug dealers’ assault weapons and thousands of hapless pit bulls bred for fighting by young, inner-city entrepreneurs.

Apart from the auction, the city has also launched the following innovative programs to raise money:

•“Adopt A Politician.” True, we’re already supporting city officials with our taxes, but for an additional monthly stipend, you can receive a computer-generated thank you letter, two “get out of jail free” certificates and preferred seating at all ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

•“Adopt A Park Deer.” You will receive a picture of your deer (taken from a USDA helicopter gunship), 100 pounds of venison (so good we feed it to homeless people) and a lovely deer head (complete with bullet hole) to mount on your wall.

•As a byproduct of Pennsylvania’s burgeoning gas-drilling industry, Philadelphia will soon begin selling flammable drinking water. Marketed as “Fracker’s Fabulous Firewater,” this zesty beverage will be available from automated kiosks located in shopping malls and gas stations throughout the state. You must be over 21 and incredibly stupid to purchase this product.

•I’d like to humbly suggest a cost-cutting idea of my own. As you may know, Mayor Nutter recently committed $500,000 of the city’s money to erect a statue to civil rights pioneer Octavius Catto. I say, why not use a statue that we already have, like the one of Frank Rizzo outside the Municipal Services Building, and simply change heads once a month?

•In January, it’s Rizzo. In February, it’s Catto. Everybody’s happy. Or even better, put heads representing all of Philadelphia’s ethnic groups on a Lazy Susan atop the torso, and have it revolve 24/7. It would be a tribute to our richly diverse population as well as a sign of our commitment to recycling. Consider this idea my gift to the city that I love so much.


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