Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday miscellany

  • The Sunday Inquirer launched an apparent series on public housing in Philadelphia. The first part looked at the transformation of public housing from burden to impetus for growth (see also prev. here). The second part looks at the sometimes downsides of renewal, as surrounding neighborhoods are outclassed by new projects and/or squeezed by rising property values. Several specific neighborhoods and PHA projects are profiled.

  • In related news, a PHA official expresses concern about two bills currently under consideration in Harrisburg, which might constrain the right of cities to resurrect failing neighborhoods. I think these are measures arising from eminent domain concerns, but am not certain...

  • Another Inquirer story profiles a violence-prone intersection in South Philly as emblematic with difficulties in preventing gun violence and other woes.

  • Another Inquirer article looks at the wave of reform efforts throughout Pennsylvania as coming in part as consequences of the pay-hike fall-out, pointing out that many of these efforts had been stymied for years and given new life by citizen anger (and legislative fear). Many new good-government initiatives are being considered in Harrisburg as well.

  • The Daily News reports that the usorious practice of payday lending (see prev. here and here) may be getting another regulatory look in the state Senate, at least.
    Payday loans are short-term advances offered at annualized rates that typically exceed 400 percent. The interest for a two-week, $200 loan might only be $40, but a cash-strapped borrower who renews his loans several times can quickly dig a deep financial hole.
    There are two competing bills under discussion, one (Fumo) aiming to close the loopholes and ban the practice, the other (Rendell) aiming to make payday lending legal and then enforce stricter regulations (um, or rather some kind of regulation, since it's currently technically illegal).

  • An Inquirer editorial calls for lawmakers to come together on tax reform. A tangle of proposals (of varying merit) have been made, but discussions were halted before Thanksgiving. The Inky fears that Rendell may be too worried about his casino/school tax proposal and will keep other ideas from getting discussed.

  • Ben Waxman at YPP picks up on a comment from another thread indicating that the Chamber of Commerce has a habit of handing out big checks just before critical votes, a not-so-subtle use of campaign contributions for influence. Ugly.

  • America's Hometown also looks at the Chamber of Commerce, asking them to "put up or shut up" about the Business Priveledge Tax by suggesting a set of objective measures that could be used to assess the degree to which tax cuts result in economic benefits for the region.

  • And finally, Above Average Jane provides an interview with Patrick Murphy, candidate for the US House district 8 (Bucks et al). A lengthy and chewy chat.


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