Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Wednesday round-up

  • Governor Ed Rendell would like Pennsylvania's restrictions on mercury emissions to be more stringent than the (rather lax) federal guidelines. Apparently the state Senate disagrees. An Inquirer editorial explains why that position is wrong.

  • In a different safety realm, Rendell stands by his repeal of the helmet law for motorcycle riders, despite an increase in fatalities. Swann takes the other view, although no legislation on the matter is likely.

  • Time to get those NY-luring ads running: Philadelphia is on the verge of losing its Fifth Biggest City status to Phoenix, currently trailing by only a couple of thousand residents...

  • Inga Saffron went to a Philadelphia Planning Commission meeting last week and was appalled by what it revealed about how development and zoning decisions get made -- in a hurried way that appears more interested in clearing the docket than in making strategic plans or in bringing any expertise to bear. I hope that recent concerns about the riverfront lead to reform of this process and a longer-term vision!

  • Street and Fattah are joining a Hip-Hop Action Network effort to register young voters before the fall elections.

  • Tom Ferrick, frustrated by technical clogs over at his blog, writes a column that's a gemisch of short takes. Most amazing to me was the last one, which notes that Curt Weldon thinks there still might be WMD's in Iraq (!). Time for new (Sestak) blood in that paranoid seat!

  • Above Average Jane has a profile of the incumbent in the 151st State House District, which includes some remarkable non-taxpayer sources of support.

  • Only 55% of Philadelphia's highschool freshmen make it to graduation, a measure of the amount of work yet to be done. The comments on this article capture a lot of the debate around such statistics -- do we need to fund inner city schools better, improve management, or work on attitudes that encourage kids to devalue education starting around middle school? Probably all of the above, but there's a lot to be done in bringing the civic will around to the work ahead.

  • Perhaps in response to the above statistics, the Daily News offers a report card on the Philadelphia schools, what they've accomplished in the last few years (under School Reform Commission oversight) and what remains to be done. Lots of info here, from school construction to test scores to safety issues. They also provide a short history of the School Reform Commission's formation and make-up.

  • An Inquirer commentary piece applauds the smoking ban as protecting us from ourselves. Meanwhile, Howard at Philly Future notes that Mayor Street's equivocation over the bill (which he originally called for) is annoying supporters.

  • The Daily News opinion page wonders whether we can ever get a minimum wage bill passed, giving an especially evil eye to state Senate Republicans who are blocking a vote on the current measure.


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