Saturday, June 21, 2008

Recent news roundup

A few recent stories have caught my interest, especially several that appear to be the culmination of events tracked here previously:
  • Apparently, Philadelphia's trend-setting citywide WiFi effort will not end abruptly with the (inevitable?) departure of commercial partner Earthlink: a local partnership has taken over the network and hopes to figure out later how to make money from it. (No really, that's about how it sounds.) Civic pride, perhaps, or a cunning sense of future opportunity, but good news for the region. More here, including a hat-tip to emerging surprise favorite City Councilman Bill Green.

  • The School Reform Commission is reclaiming 6 schools that had been ceded to private companies but have continued to underperform; there are threats that more could follow. Apparently the magic of capitalism doesn't cure all ills, heh. My favorite quote = "Adults must be held accountable." Um, yeah, kids don't teach themselves...

  • City Council has passed a measure to make Fairmont Park part of the city Recreation Department (now to be Parks and Recreation), rather than overseen by its own independent commission. Clark and Reynolds Brown have been pushing this measure for years (see previous here), so there must have been some signal from Nutter that he'd support the move, previously controversial but now passed nearly unanimously. (Some arguments against this merger are noted by Rep. Cohen in the comment here.) Will be interesting to see whether any of the previously noted delapidation and problems in Fairmont Park will be cleaned up by new management.

  • Mayor Michael Nutter gave his first major policy speech, and made clear that stronger city planning will be a centerpiece of his vision for Philadelphia's future. This comes as welcome news to many, and was widely well received, although architecture critic Inga Saffron noted that there were a few gaps in Nutter's proposals for tightening things up, most notably the right of individual City Councilfolk to grant exceptions for pet projects -- this seems a pretty huge hole, so I hope that the public puts some pressure on their representatives to do what's right. In related news, developers propose building the nation's tallest building at 18th and Arch, which is bound to generate much discussion...


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