Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday round-up

  • For those who've been busy elsewhere, the state of PA is in a budget crisis, with talks about furloughing state employees next week if they can't pull it together. The latest here, which seems to revolve around casino employees, as though that were the most important function of state government (and maybe to the GOP it is!). An Inquirer editorial implies that the real disagreement is over an alternative energy program that Rendell wants too see put into action.

  • Speaking of Harrisburg, they really seem to have their sights set on unraveling any attempts that Philadelphia makes to regulate itself -- not just the schools and parking systems, which it took over some years back, but the smoking ban, which is weakened by the recent state law (see prev. here and new PW story here), and now our recently minted campaign finance laws. The latter is made harder to enforce by a measure exempting city candidates from any need to file electronic financial reports with the Board of Ethics (making it harder for them to use the information, and nearly impossible to make records publically available, as required by local law).
    In interviews, both Sabatina and Youngblood said they were responding to complaints from campaign treasurers - particularly those of Philadelphia ward committees - about the time it took to file the electronic reports and the complications that went with it.
    Waaaahhhh. Perhaps the requirement that candidates and organizations have some minimum computer competence would help the party learn to treat its younger members as something other than "fungus" (to quote Tom Ferrick). Anyway, the Senate still hasn't voted on the measure, and some in the House feel they were unaware of its impact, so there may yet be some resistance to this latest attack on Philly's clean-up efforts. More on the story here, along with grumbling at YPP here.

  • While we're looking at Philadelphia's treatment by Harrisburg, I should note that the Parking Authority promised that a state takeover would mean tens of millions of dollars per year for the school system, but in fact only a single $4 million payment has ever been made. This discrepancy has led to a call for an audit of the PPA and what it's been up to. Perzel, a PPA defender, counters that the agency is audited every year and that such audits are publically available -- perhaps we just need to see where the imagined revenues are going instead. (Taxi GPS systems, anyone?)

  • Also in the category of frustrating tangles: student groups asked not to feed homeless folks in Philadelphia, even though they are motivated by all the right ideas. The problem is that free lunches make it hard to direct the chronically homeless into shelters, counseling, and other systems that could help them improve their lives and get off the street.

  • An NEA conference has been in Philadelphia for the last few days, and it has attracted a number of Presidential candidates to talk about plans for education. Edwards (at least) was there the same day as his appearance at the ACORN forum, and apparently Obama was there yesterday, along with a handful of others (only one Republican among them).

  • This week's CityPaper features a cover story about an Iraq veteran who finds his old Philadelphia neighborhood nearly as dangerous as the place he left behind and as frustrating to deal with.


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