Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday mega-roundup

  • Big news of the day is that things are looking grim for Councilman Rick Mariano, who has been under federal investigation for some time (see background here) and now appears likely to be indicted for his various poorly considered financial involvements. Dan at YoungPhillyPolitics puts out a plea to Mariano to step down and spare the city another round of trials involving sitting politicians.

  • Meantime, mutterings over the poor ethical regulations of the Gaming Board have been heard in Harrisburg, where state legislators are drafting stricter controls. These will be bundled with other amendments planned for the casino legislation, so it may take a while to get all the negotiations untangled.

  • Not satisfied with their new control of the Phila. Parking Authority, state lawmakers are considering a takeover of the local gas utility PGW in response to its large debt and planned rate hikes. I just hope that this decision doesn't get hurried through as part of a show of machismo in the race for City Controller.

  • Sure to draw comment is a proposal by Mayor Street to raise city salaries. Learning a lesson from the state pay-hike furor, the mayor promises no dead-of-night votes and plans to convene an independent commission to recommend exact adjustments.

  • A story speculating about the Philadelphia city wireless internet network looks at how pilot programs are already helping homeless folks find forms and services online, but wonders who the eventual users (and funders) of the program will be.

  • Neighborhood library branches, which suffered from cuts in hours and services during a budget battle in City Hall this year, will be restored to full service in the next two weeks. The article discusses sources and uses of the new library funds.

  • In Pennsylvania's own gubernatorial sweepstakes, still a year off, Republican Bill Scranton officially throws his hat in the ring. He still has a lot of competition in the primary before he gets to take on Ed Rendell. The Daily News offers their take on Scranton and how he stands in the Republican field.
    Scranton is a political moderate in a GOP field that includes a state senator, a hard-line conservative businessman, and an ex-football star of unknown conviction. But yesterday, Scranton aimed his fire at Gov. Rendell.
    Still a lot of clarification of positions to be had.

  • Over in Dover's Intelligent Design case, the prosecution lawyer brought to light inconsistencies in the explanations and defenses made by one of the movement's core thinkers (who testified the day before as well).Imagine my surprise.

  • The Daily News notes that Philadelphia is carrying a high level of debt compared to other cities, what with bond issues for stadium building, school district improvements, and other projects. I'll bet they can't wait for all those 10-year tax abatements to expire!

  • Finally, a little good news: citizen outrage over the PPA enforcement of registration-sticker fines (see, e.g., here) has paid off. Councilman Frank Rizzo, Jr., reponding in part to a flurry of calls, has introduced legislation to remove that authority from the PPA (presumably back to the police where it belongs), and got the PPA to call a moritorium meantime. Score one for the beleagured little guys!


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