15 On The Spot

Philadelphia Daily News

January 29, 1993, Page 4

The Most Stressful Jobs in Philadelphia

By  Staff writers Jenice Armstrong, Stu Bykofsky, Kitty Caparella, Joseph R. Daughen, Rose DeWolf, Tom Di Nardo, Scott Flander, Ellen Gray, Harriet Lessy, Nels Nelson, Kathleen Shea, Jonathan Takiff and Anthony Twyman contributed to this report.

So you think you’ve got pressures? Check out these people in our 2nd annual look at serious stress.

They’re in the hot seat this year. They’re going to make it or break it. And how they cope will involve us all in some way – our attention, our emotions, our dough.


1. HARRY M. PERKS


Who he is: Executive director of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.


Turning Point: Perks, 64, is a driving force behind getting the convention center built on schedule.


What has to happen this year: The convention center exhibit hall must open in June to accommodate the first group scheduled to use the facility July 26.


Why the outcome is important: Perks’ reputation as a can-do guy is on the line. He’s scheduled to retire this year and wants to leave knowing he has accomplished the job he set out to do.


The odds for success: Good. The exhibit hall is close to 90 percent completed, and grand-opening ceremonies are expected near the end of June.

 

2-3. EDWARD DENNIS; JAMES TIERNEY

Who they are: Former U.S. attorney and former Maine attorney general, respectively. Both were appointed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Ernie Preate Jr. to investigate allegations about members of the state Supreme Court.

Turning point: In November, Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen filed court documents alleging wrongdoing by two other justices – Stephen A. Zappala and Ralph J. Cappy – who’d voted to reprimand him.

What has to happen this year: Dennis and Tierney must try to establish the truth or falsity of Larsen’s unprecedented allegations, and take appropriate action. They aim to complete the probe by September.

Why the outcome is important: To restore public confidence in the state’s highest court in the wake of Larsen’s charges that two members are “fix
artists,” and counter-charges that Larsen himself is unstable.

The odds for success: Excellent. Dennis’ and Tierney’s reputations are so impeccable, and the court is held in such low esteem, that virtually any action the two men take will be greeted with applause.

4. ROTAN LEE

Who he is: New president of the Board of Education.

Turning point: His election at age 43 made him the board’s youngest president, and although he’s the third African-American to hold the job, the election of Floyd Alston as vice president gives the board its first all-black leadership.

What has to happen this year: Lee and the board must find a way to reduce school violence. His succession to the presidency occurred amid a flurry of incidents involving weapons, including the first shooting inside a Philadelphia public school.

Why the outcome is important: The welfare and education of 190,979 schoolchildren depend on it.

The odds for success: Fair. Lee’s known for his political savvy; he’s also the first board president in a long time to have children in the school system, giving him a big stake in this issue. Still, the problems that end in blood in school hallways don’t start at School District headquarters.

5. CHUKWUDI ONWUACHI-SAUNDERS

Who she is: An epidemiologist on loan to the city’s Department of Health
from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Turning point: She’s responsible for coordinating a comprehensive effort to work towards eradicating violence in Philadelphia by the year 2000.

What has to happen this year: She needs to gather the plans of varied sectors – educational, academic, criminal justice, religious – and coordinate them, devise a strategy and put it into action.

Why the outcome is important: Violence, particularly among youth, continues to threaten the health, future, livelihood and lifestyle of city residents.

The odds for success: Several experts dismiss eradicating violence by 2000 as unrealistic. But Onwuachi-Saunders’ years of study, the cooperation of some local experts, her sheer tenacity and concern as a mother of two boost her chances of at least gathering the city’s hodgepodge of resources and cooking up a strong strategy to address violence.

6. THEODORE LEVINE

Who he is: City Human Services Commissioner, heading the department that cares for abused and neglected children and teen-agers.

Turning point: During City Council committee hearings in November, Levine came under attack by some Council members for stating that he doesn’t talk much to his staff. That admission fueled general dissatisfaction on Council with his slow progress in improving DHS operations.

What has to happen this year: Even Mayor Rendell conceded in his budget message that management of the department has not been good. As the Rendell administration struggles to bring DHS’ runaway costs under tighter control, both the mayor and Council will expect Levine to run a tighter ship.

Why the outcome is important: DHS is the third most expensive department in city government. Besides the cost issue, the quality of care provided to thousands of dependent children is of great concern to Council, advocates.

The odds for success: Depends on city’s ability to get more money from state and Levine’s ability to better articulate his vision for the department.

7. LARRY KANE

Who he is: The longest running act in Philadelphia television anchorage.

Turning point: When he came to be seen as an expensive thorn in the side of hard-driving, quick-firing WCAU general manager Gene Lothery, who blew into town three years ago with a mandate from CBS to get the Channel 10 news operation off the distant-second ratings dime.

The story so far: Kane let it be known in December he was seeking asylum at distant-third KYW as occasional correspondent and host of a new prime time news magazine. WCAU saw no apparent threat in allowing Kane to start work months before the “no compete” clause in his contract expired. Kane debuted at Channel 3 on Jan. 5, with the swearing-in of Congress. He has since reported on the U.S. bombing of Iraq and the inauguration. He’ll do his first ”Issue Tonight” segment, on domestic violence, on the post-Super Bowl newscast Sunday night.

What’s supposed to happen this year: The magazine is to debut sometime in mid-summer. Premiere date, show name, and time/day slots still up the air.

Odds for success: Industry watchers are skeptical the audience is there for a locally produced mag in a world already armpit deep in slick, network- produced jobs.

What the smart money thinks: Though Kane has denied it, industry sources speculate that struggling KYW will expect further return on its investment. Prediction: Look for Larry in the anchor chair before the year is out.

8. MIKE MORRISON

Who he is: Program director of WXPN, the non-commercial adult alternative radio station based at the University of Pennsylvania.

Turning Point: Having evolved a disjointed, fringe-interest, amateurishly- run radio station into a fine-tuned, professionally staffed, left of center alternative to commercial album rock radio with broad appeal, Morrison faces his first real challenge from WDRE, the new modern rock station at 103.9 FM.

What’s going to happen here: Younger and less committed listeners are sampling ‘DRE and liking the playlist. Some musicians, nightclubs and record labels that had been begging ‘XPN for attention are now playing ball with the new rival, too. If ‘XPN tightens up its playlist to compete head to head, it will dismay an older core audience. Morrison’s only option: play to his strengths, promote the quicker folk, blues and rock that ‘DRE won’t touch.

Why the outcome is important: In formulating its Adult Alternative Progressive Rock blend, and syndicating its daily “World Cafe” show, WXPN has set itself up as a model for survival of public radio stations nationwide.

9. ALEXANDER ‘PETE’ HOSKINS

Who he is: President of the Philadelphia Zoo.

Turning point: Last month’s naming of Hoskins, former Streets Commissioner, to replace revered president William V. Donaldson, who died in November of 1991. Hoskins, only two weeks on the job, inherited a fragile fiscal situation intensified by the city’s 1991 deletion of an annual $746,000 grant.

What has to happen this year: Increase attendance from the 1.3 million plateau of the last few years, and increase the 40,000 family memberships. Decrease $400,000 deficit. Complete plans and begin fund-raising for essential animal-care and research facility. Complete plans for longer-term Donaldson Educational Center, which will stress wildlife conservation and environmental preservation and make zoo more visitable year-round.

Why the outcome is important: America’s first zoo is the most-visited site in the city and a source of civic pride. Its attraction should be stressed as both a must for convention-goers and a standard attraction for regional residents.

Mitigating factors: Better weather than 1992, which had the worst weekend precipitation in many years.

The odds for success: Very high.

10-11. NORMAN BRAMAN; HARRY GAMBLE

Who they are: Eagles front-office tandem of owner Norman Braman, team president Harry Gamble.

Turning point: Jan. 6, the day NFL owners and players association shook hands on agreement that liberalized free agency.

What has to happen this year: Eagles desperately need to re-sign star defensive end Reggie White, which many feel won’t be easy. If White departs, look for other veterans to consider bolting as soon as their contracts expire. Further, Braman needs to demonstrate he will pay competitive money for other free agents, and Gamble and his people need to have a plan about which free agents will best put Braman’s money to use.

Why the outcome is important: Those playoff losses have ended seasons on bad notes, but just think back to those Marion Campbell years.

The odds for success: Gamble says the Eagles will surprise people; the people seem to say, “Prove it.”

12. WES CHAMBERLAIN

Who he is: Wes Chamberlain, Phillies rightfielder.

Turning point: Could be first day of preseason.

What has to happen this year: After showing up for training camp last year in less than tip-top shape and having an injury-plagued season, Chamberlain must establish himself as the starting rightfielder.

Why the outcome is so important: Chamberlain has had chances before. This year, it figures, he either becomes a key starter for the next six to eight seasons or finds himself looking for another ballclub.

The odds for success: A quick glimpse at Chamberlain (Wes, not Wilt) at a recent Sixers game revealed what appeared to be a trim athlete. Another factor in Wes’s favor: He doesn’t lack confidence.

13. ERIC LINDROS

Who he is: In Philadelphia and all of Canada, Young Mr. Hockey.

Turning point: The day last year arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi unraveled a mess that only could happen in the National Hockey League and awarded Lindros to the Flyers.

What has to happen this year: That knee needs to fully heal and Lindros needs to steer clear of off-ice controversy.

Why the outcome is important: The Snider family will give you 21 million reasons why. Not to mention the 20,000 or so seats in the arena the Sniders still hope to build.

The odds for success: The headlines off the ice would seem to diminish as Lindros’s age increases (he turns 20 next month). Also, when healthy, Lindros has been as good as advertised.

14. STEVE LAPPAS

Who he is: Villanova basketball coach.

Turning point: The April Fool’s Day last year that longtime coach Rollie Massimino headed west.

What has to happen this year: Right now a win, any win, would help. Losing seven consecutive Big East games won’t win any converts on the Main Line.

Why the outcome is important: Lappas needs to keep the results respectable, particularly as Wildcats fans watch Massimino’s UNLV team climb the polls and waffle ‘Nova’s rival, Georgetown, on national TV.

The odds for success: Prospect is bleak this year, but Lappas will start to inject program with players he has recruited. Probably needs to land one of area’s top two big men, Gratz’s Rasheed Wallace or Olney’s Jason Lawson, to breathe easier.

15. JAY SNIDER

Who is he: CEO of Spectacor and President of The Flyers. He’s also the second-born son of Ed, the Daddy of all the Snider Family action. Jay and partner, on their own, started SpectaGuardin ’80, now a $40-or-so-million-a year venture.

Turning Point: Announcement last year that a new Spectrum would be built in Philly.

Why is it important: Ego and money. They’ve made money at The Spectrum. They can make even more in a bigger arena.

The odds for success: Once built . . . and that’s the rub . . . it should do as well. While everyone says he’s no Ed, he is a Wharton School graduate, who seems comfortable away from the main stage.

But, financing the arena in today’s economy is harder than getting fans out to see the Sixers. Insiders say the Sniders are finally realizing this may not be the cash cow they envisioned. The family will have to deal from a less powerful position than they are used to to get this baby built.

Illustration/Photo:

PHOTO (14)

1. Harry M. Perks
2. Edward Dennis
3. James Tierney
4. Rotan Lee
5. Chukwudi Onwuachi-Saunders
6. Theodore Levine
7. Larry Kane
8. “Pete” Hoskins
9. Norman Braman
10. Harry Gamble
11. Wes Chamberlain
12. Eric Lindros
13. Steve Lappas
14. Jay Snider

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