Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday miscellania

  • Education news

    • There was a terrible story in this last week about a federal inspector who found that a private daycare center had been operating for several years on the site of a former thermometor factory that was heavily contaminated with mercury. I didn't blog it because I didn't know what to say (other than OUCH!). Today we learn that there's plenty of blame to go around: the landlord gave assurances (saying that the previous users "did medical stuff"), despite having acquired the property for $1; township officials and other regulators gave permits, despite decades of records; and even the DEP found out about the center and delayed informing them for several months while trying to get answers from the landlord. Expect lasting recriminations, of no use to the children who've been exposed... More head-shaking here.

    • The Philadelphia schools are considering lengthening the school year by a month for its most troubled elementary schools, in an attempt to get more students reading at grade level. Additional intensive programs would also be added earlier in the year. These bold ideas still require approval, as well as working out of the host of logistical issues they raise. More on the story here.

    • Looks like the Schools Commission has relented, and is likely to approve a two-year contract extension for Paul Vallas. I think that's good for the city, and many will be glad to see him here through 2009.

  • Violence thoughts

  • Other

    • A reversal for eminent domain in Brewerytown (N. Phila): a community center will remain open, despite the efforts of an upscale developer to have it condemned (and engulfed in the sea of new townhouses he's building). An interesting story, embodying two visions of what constitutes neighborhood "improvement" -- community gathering, or the building of upscale residences. I wonder whether one rec center can stem the tide of transition, though.

    • Lynn Swann has written a book to explain his vision for Pennsylvania. That seems like a mighty tough sell.

    • The CityPaper reports some more rumblings from the Philadelphia GOP, including formation of a new group to revitalize the minority party, and rumors that Rizzo, Jr., may be considering a mayoral run.

    • Regional activists will be glad to hear that 8-sheet billboards in the city will be coming down. In exchange, the city will charge less for regular full-size billboards elsewhere. More on the story here.

    • Friedman notes that Philadelphia's tourist bureau has been doing an award-winning job.


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