Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wednesday -- um, bunch of stuff

Lots today, so fairly quick:
  • Candidate challenge buffet

    • "Gloves come off" in mayoral race, as Evans and Knox challenge Brady's ballot papers, various candidates trade barbs over motives and fitness. More here (including that Queena Bass is getting a challenge too, and a listing of challenges in other races).

    • City Council races are also seeing a flurry of legal challenges, with the current count at 15 (!), mostly focused on the financial disclosure forms. Hearings start Friday; I don't know what the deadline for resolving these complaints is.

    • Milton Street getting a challenge, probably from a Sharif supporter. Did he circulate petitions for mayor or Council? Seems like a no-brainer if it's the former...

    • A blog that's new to me, "the fight for room 215," is tracking all the challenges and giving a little more meat for each (including some nontrivial omissions of consulting income by Carol Campbell).

  • Other political bits

    • The Pennsylvania House has adopted a set of rules reforms aimed at improving legislative transparency and public trust.
      Under the new rules, the public will be able to view House and committee votes and read testimony from hearings online. Representatives will no longer be able to spend up to $650 a month in public funds to lease a vehicle of their choice. Instead, they must now pick from a cheaper pool of state-leased vehicles. And the powerful Rules Committee can no longer gut entire bills at the last minute and insert other language.
      (More details summarized at the end of the piece.) Sounds like great stuff; let's hope it sticks.

    • In related news, State Rep. Josh Shapiro, a driver of much recent action in Harrisburg, including these reforms, explains what the legislative reformers hope to accomplish, considering the new rules a first step toward better accountability.

    • Daily News columnist Phil Goldsmith looks at some recent cuts in business tax, arguing that the gains to individual businesses are so small as to have little effect, while the changes in total city revenue are huge and could drastically affect city services and functioning.
      Don't get me wrong: I'm all for tax reductions. But I also believe that quality-of-life services play a significant role when individuals and businesses decide where to locate.
      It still seems awfully trendy for politicians to campaign on lower business taxes; will anybody take a different stance?

    • Evans' state bill to allow city campaign finance laws is out of committee. It previously passed the House, so is likely to do so again; will the Senate give it a closer look this time?

  • Unrelated news

    • An Inky piece says veterans in Philadelphia get good care.

    • Teachers at Community College of Philadelphia are out on strike. A bummer for their Everyfolk student body; I hope it can be resolved soon.

    • A city budget discussion reveals that Philadelphia undertakes only a fraction of needed capital upkeep projects because of an inability to issue more bonds. Why not make this part of things paid for out of regular funds (and plan revenues accordingly)? I'm probably missing a key governmental accounting distinction.

    • An Inquirer editorial calls on City Council to put the casino location issue on the May ballot. Inga Saffron agrees.

    • Inga Saffron summarizes a recent high-profile lecture that encouraged architects and builders to think of their projects in the context of the larger urban landscape and its needs. Great ideas that could use broader airing.


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