Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday speed news

Unbelievably short day, and lots of chewy links...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Wed II: speed round-up

Short on time, so just headlines on the rest:

Wednesday news I: top stories

  • PA State House

    • It's (semi-)official: Democrats take the majority by one seat. Challenges still possible, including a county-wide recount; don't expect Perzel to give up power without a fight!

    • State Rep. Dwight Evans would be slated to become Chairman of the Appropriations Committee if the Democratic takeover is confirmed. This raises questions about whether such a powerful seat would convince him to give up his interest in Philadelphia's mayoral race, or just give him a higher profile in the field.

    • John Baer adds more speculation about whether back-room deals will be made to get some Democrats to switch parties, takes some digs at potential Speaker DeWeese, and notes some other Dems in line for key committee chairs.

    • Update: forgot to include this YPP piece on "How we won in Chester County" from one who was in the middle of it all...

  • Street cleaning

    • Milton Street, brother of Philly's mayor, was indicted on corruption and tax charges stemming from the multi-year investigation of airport-related scams. Quite a range of crimes mentioned, all right in the heart of the pay-to-play tradition... (although stiffing Uncle Sam takes an extra dose of chutzpah) More details here.

    • A Daily News piece looks at Milton's colorful history as a public figure over the last few decades.

    • The Inquirer devotes an editorial to the story, without actually adding much more than the sound of "tut tut."

  • Casino rumblings

    • Did you think that a set of innocent slots parlors would be harmless fun without bringing the whole mob-associated feel of a total casino setting? Innocent babe, you. The licenses haven't even been granted and already legislation is in the works that would allow poker and blackjack to be added to slots sites; after that, roulette and whatever else is left are likely to be considered an arbitrary exclusion... Who's behind this brilliance? Potential Speaker DeWeese. Sigh.

    • Meanwhile, a second story notes that promised aid for gambling addicts is nowhere in sight.
      Although the slots parlors are required to advertise the existence of such services, the state has not set up a compulsive gambling hotline or a procedure to subsidize treatment services for gambling addiction.
      Various funding tricks will allow state reimbursement of public and private services currently in place.

    • The whole thing is making Dan at YPP feel sick. Hard to disagree, and hard not to wish we had better ways of holding our legislators accountable.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday round-up

  • Politicians

    • Mayoral musings
      John Saidel has opened a campaign office, but still no formal announcement. Meanwhile, there's a resurgence of rumors that Brady will run, and lots of rustling in the bushes.

    • City Council

      • The new short-term council-members were sworn in yesterday in what sounds like a real show of ring-kissing and other self-congratulatory insiderness. More here.

      • The Daily News offers some advice to the rookies, especially to try to prove themselves before the voters have a say next year.

      • Neighborhood Networks is sponsoring an open forum for all prospective At-Large City Council candidates (running in May): it's next Thursday, December 7, at 8:00pm at the Italian Bistro (211 S. Broad St.). A rare chance to see the candidates in person and hear what they think about city issues. Spread the word!

    • Legislators et al.

      • Tabulation of absentee ballots in the contested Chester County state rep. race is taking place today. Young Philly Politics is reporting that the results are in and the slim margin was reversed, giving the seat to Smith, and thus the state House to the Democrats. Expect much discussion tomorrow!

      • Meanwhile, a DN letter writer expresses disbelief in Perzel as reformer.

      • A recent New Yorker had a short piece on newly elected US Rep. Chris Carney, who could find himself in the middle if Democrats decide to undertake more thorough investigations of the decision-making process that led to the Iraq war, since he was part of the Pentagon's counterterrorism group at the time.

  • Other news

    • The Inquirer notes that the smoking ban seems not much in evidence, at least outside Center City -- perhaps Nutter's departure from Council leaves nobody who cares to see that it's enforced.

    • Inga Saffron notes that the onetime Strawbridges building at 8th and Market may be getting new tenants, with Family Court moving into the upper floors while a retail tenant like Boscovs occupies the main floors.

    • New Jersey legislators are poised to institute civil unions that would be separate but equal legal equivalents of marriage under the recent court ruling there. The debate has taken some wacky turns, as with gay marriage opponents suggesting that such unions be extended to any pair of partners, romantically involved or not, who wish to look after each other over the long term.

    • A recycling test program in the Northeast has show substantial success, increasing the amount of waste recycled by some 29%. Sadly, no amount of success appears capable of rousing our leaders to take the next step...

    • The new City Ethics Board was sworn in yesterday. There's certainly plenty to do!

    • The New York Times discovers Philly again.
      (via America's Hometown)

    • On PhillyFuture, a cop complains about special units, which drain personnel from regular patrols at a time when numbers of police are in decline.

    • Another PF post describes the problem of homelessness on the Main Line, which is less used to dealing with displaced families and individuals.

    • Ray Murphy has some ruminations about shared goals among progressive activists and, for that matter, many others who live in the city, as well as questions about how to get some momentum behind our priorities. A good discussion to be a part of.

      In related news, AAJane alerts us to an effort by the Progressive States Network to come up with a Progressive States Agenda for key issues and policies to promote nationwide. Their list might provide some interesting counters to the discussion at YPP, as their efforts seem both more narrow and better detailed (which has pros and cons).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Belated Monday round-up

Doing a bit of catch-up on many fronts today, but blogging is not forgotten!!

Two from Sunday

Yesterday's Inquirer had two substantial local pieces worth bringing to your attention:
  1. One looks at State Rep. Dwight Evans and his mayoral prospects. The only long look at him that I know of thus far, although it features the same frequency of evasions as many of the candidates are putting out in place of policy positions at this point...

  2. The editorial page ranked the five Philadelphia casino proposals with regard to their prospects for bringing more good than woe. Take-home: they favor Pinnacle and TrumpStreet, with Sugarhouse a runner-up (too close to the better Pinnacle proposal) and the other two far behind. No opinion given on the likelihood that any of the casinos will bring a net plus to the city...

    This online version of the full-page coverage (p. C6) is a main article describing what they looked for, and then five linked pieces giving ratings and overall impressions for each of the proposals. [Also note that in the linked pieces, a cute 5-bell ranking system for each category has been reduced to an awkward row of o's and q's here -- more o's is better.] I recommend trying to get ahold of the print copy, as the illustrations help give a handle on some of the specifics...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday round-up

  • Legislative follies

    • State Senate failed to block the mercury emissions standards championed by Rendell. Score one for survival of the species...

    • State Senate narrowly passed a strange measure to allow casinos to give more than one free drink to customers. You know constituents were really up in arms about this! The House still has to consider the bill.

    • An article from points west looks at the ongoing tallies and legal maneouvers that are helping decide control of the State House.

    • Here are two bits of small business that squeezed under the wire in Harrisburg.

  • School-related bloviation

    • Cutting budgets has led some crazy person to cut a volunteer intervention program that's been helping at-risk kids find purpose in working with younger children (and, you know, giving them a mentor that cares). Wouldn't want hippies whispering in kids' ears, I guess. Suspect they'll get a deluge of letters...

    • The Inquirer offers an editorial that seems to argue against Philadelphia's trying to regain control of its school system, at least until it's worked out its budget woes.

  • Other news

    • D-Mac notes signs of a strike at Philadelphia's major papers. The Philadelphia Weekly notices the same writing on the wall...

    • Fattah in meaningless trouble over whether his big announcement illegally occurred on school property. Whoops!

    • Saidel lays out his good-government plan as a column for the Daily News.
      The recent ethics reforms adopted by City Council and Mayor Street are a good start, but they don't go nearly far enough. If Philadelphia is going to continue to improve and become the city we know it can be, we need fundamental reform. We need to make our elections fairer and more open, and make government more accountable, efficient and accessible.
      Can't disagree with any point made in this piece.

    • Ray Murphy gives a quick synopsis of last night's homelessness forum and where it might lead.

    • The Philadelphia Weekly asks why there are so few mainstream movie houses available downtown, along with speculations about an answer. [This is the cover story, and is followed by a heap of movie-related articles.]

    • Another PW story tracks efforts to hold local judges accountable than they are under the current system, where voters barely know who they are.
      The group will evaluate such things as impartiality, civility and efficiency, as well as trial experience, reputation in the legal community, overturned decisions and community work. The first report card will be issued mid-January.
      I don't know how easy this will be to do, but it sounds like a great idea to me.

    • The CityPaper's "Loose Cannon" gives props to anti-casino activists for their determination and creativity (also noting how little coverage the press has granted their efforts).

  • Holiday-related
I have no intentions to be blogging over the next few days, so probably see you on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday quickies

My day has been chopped to bits, so not much time for this...
  • Politicians

  • Other news

    • Unsurprisingly, Jefferson not thrilled with Street's gambit to designate their Eakins painting of historical value to the city. But that's *our* golden egg!

    • Philadelphia area (and especially its unions) hostile to Wal-Mart and having some success in keeping the giant out of local communities.

    • Ray Murphy's back in action at YPP, asking some hard questions about our city.

    • Heap of Irish dancers to descend on Philly in '09 for their world competition.

    • Homeless forum tonight, sponsored by Young Involved Philadelphia.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday news round-up

Can already feel myself getting into a holiday/vacation mindset, so am glad that news was a bit light today...
  • Gamesmanship continues in the Eakins painting controversy: Street nominates the work as a historic object, which would block its leaving the city. In related news, Inga Saffron looks at the degree to which Jefferson Hospital has been a good neighbor in designing its buildings, acquiring property, and other matters.

  • So, unsurprisingly, Fattah's Saturday event was to announce for mayor, bringing us to two official candidates and 5 shadows (plus some speculation about Republican contenders). A Daily News piece looks at Fattah's educational background, since it's one the central issues he talks about -- he himself didn't finish either highschool or college (although he was permitted to do a masters at Penn after becoming a state rep.). Meanwhile, the Next Mayor pledges to keep an eye on Congressmen who run for Mayor, both to see how it benefits their campaigns and how their work for the taxpayers might suffer.

  • A special anti-gun investigative unit is being set up between city and state authorities, to focus on illegal guns and dealers. Branches will be focused on high-crime regions of the Philadelphia; state funding will be needed to expand to all areas.

  • The first third of needed school budget cuts were approved this weekend, with the Commission tweaking some of Vallas' recommendations. [More details summarized in a table at the above link.]

  • A state Rep. is introducing a measure to ban robo-calls, which I'm sure would be embraced by many in hot legislative race districts this year.

  • Among the political tidbits, whether Blackwell will try for Council Presidency, Ed Rendell staying out of the Philly Mayoral race, and other odd bits.

  • Philadelphia Homeless Forum is tomorrow night. Philadelphia was once making great strides with this problem, but has been back-sliding of late. Many experts will discuss possible solutions.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday round-up

  • Politicians

    • Battles over provisional ballots underway in the two close Chester County races for State House seats, with absentees and military ballots also still to be counted.

    • The Philadelphia Tribune has released a poll of African-Americans and their mayoral preferences. The poll probably measures name recognition as much as anything, at this point, and puts Chaka Fattah in the lead -- see here and here -- but with a third of voters remaining undecided. I wonder about the timing of such a focused poll -- is somebody trying to weed out the field and/or be an early kingmaker?

    • Rick Santorum says no Presidential run for him.

    • Apparently Michael Nutter can ruffle feathers even when he's cleaning out his office in City Hall. Other political gossip here includes rumors that Rendell is trying to flip a Republican legislator to guarantee the state House; speculations that US House leadership votes could have local consequences (making Brady more likely to run for Mayor); and images of Gene Stilp taking his big pig back to Harrisburg to send a message to freshman legislators.

    • A Daily News piece wonders whether Johnny Doc's mayoral aspirations may have gone up in smoke when the feds visited his house earlier this week. Answer? Hard to tell...

  • Miscellaneous local

    • New Jersey continues to set precedents that give Harrisburg headaches. Most recent? Atlantic City considers removing casino exemption to smoking ban.

    • The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is concerned about budget decisions, given that they are already dealing with excessive class size and other impediments to good teaching.

    • Looks like Pennsylvania is set to enact higher mercury emission standards than the federal guidelines, unless the state legislature acts quickly to block the regulatory board's decision.

    • Local market giant SuperFresh is adding stores rather than closing them for the first time in a while. Interesting notes here about the relative fates of union and nonunion supermarket chains. Apropos of nothing: I had no idea that SuperFresh evolved out of A&P...

    • Unsurprisingly, Jefferson alumni upset over the proposed Eakins sale, especially as their association bought the painting for the institution originally.

    • Here's a cool site that tracks Philadelphia's water -- its remaining streams, sewer systems, their histories and other cool stuff.
      (via phillyskyline)

    • South Philly tournies breed Rock, Paper, Scissors champion!

    • Finally, get out of the office! It's the weekend! In case you're stuck inside, here's an inspiring photo-tour along the Wissahickon in the fall -- you can almost hear the water and smell the leaves.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bloggered Thursday

Blogger glitched me out all afternoon, and now I can't stick around. Just headlines: you sort 'em out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday deluge II

  • Schools and education

  • Ethics

    • City Council gives preliminary approval to Street's nominees for the independent Ethics Board. A final vote should come tomorrow. Intriguing question raised here about how the oversight turf should be divided among this Board, the Inspector General, and the City Controller. I say, the more the merrier; there's plenty to go 'round!

    • The new board is already eyeing the mayoral race and particularly city limits on campaign contributions and expenditures. [Timeline laid out here.]

  • Miscellaneous regional bits

    • This seems overdue: a large chunk of money is being designated to help West Philly businesses hit hard by the Market Street El reconstruction projects there. Too late for those stores already driven under, but something to help the rest hang on...

    • Only the Shadow knows: now that elections are past, will the dredging dispute be settled, allowing the PA/NJ Port Authority to function normally again?

    • Score one for rationality: academic bill of rights declared unnecessary by a bipartisan legislative panel because political discrimination is rare on campuses. Not *opinions*, mind you...

    • Two opinion bits on transit: a challenge to Rendell, and a plea to SEPTA to be more active in reaching out for support from everybody from riders to legislators, before the budget crisis gets here.

    • Another Daily News opinion piece looks at a current Council bill aimed at inclusionary housing, and finds it wanting in many ways, especially in directing most of its benefits to those who need them least.

    • The Philadelphia Weekly looks at the effect of local bloggers on last week's elections, noting in particular that Patrick Murphy got some early and vocal backing from the "netroots."

    • Apparently today is America Recycles Day. If only that were enough to make city officials care about our shameful lack of progress...

    • Green Plan Philadelphia is soliciting community input on how regional open spaces should be used. You can speak your mind at any of several upcoming meetings.

    • Finally, Tom Ferrick's getting out of the blogging business, at least for now. Good luck with your next project(s).

Wednesday deluge I

I have 28 pages open in tabs. Help. Well, here goes nothing...
  • Casinos

    • Folks lined up to get into the first slots parlor (at a racing track near Wilkes-Barre).

    • The next round of hearings on Philadelphia sites found Trump expressing alarm about the traffic effect of two riverfront casinos (his being conveniently located elsewhere). [Summaries are given here of the two proposals that were discussed yesterday.]

    • Meanwhile, a major investor wants out of one of the casino proposals, possibly prompted by fines levied for political donations by some members of the group. [Also here are other details of what tough questions developers faced.]

    • John Baer opines that with the host of prominent players, neighborhood lawsuits, and inevitable political fall-out for local pols, the whole licensing process is a crazy circus.
      At base are three layers of opposition: those who think the '04 slots law is bad and ought to be repealed, those who think the site-selection process is flawed and ought to be changed, and those who think one or more of the city sites is lousy and ought to be avoided.
      That sounds about right, and that's before the scheming is factored in...

  • Politicians

    • Apparently neither pay-hike gaffes nor the wave of incumbent oustings have worried state lawmakers, as the House reelected all of their leaders yesterday. You break it, you fix it??

    • Two unsettled state House races unlikely to be decided until after Thanksgiving. Actually, the election folks want to wrap up certification of all the settled races before starting recounts and whatever else will follow.

    • Breathless with anticipation? Fattah to announce intentions. More here.

    • Rainmaker Bob Brady tries his hand at blogging. Dicker and Payton tell him the water's fine...

    • The Philadelphia Weekly notes Murtha's reelection victory in the face of a major slime campaign questioning his patriotism.

    • Albert continues his hate on Casey, agog that he's being allowed on Senate committees. Can't have a state Treasurer piping up on banking, by golly!

    • In a political ad kerfluffle with a twist, moderate Republicans from the area are requesting that their images be removed from ads aimed at the "extremist wing" of the GOP. (I.e., Specter and Ridge note that they supported Santorum. Seek the center elsewhere...)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tuesday lag-blogging

Blogger has some hiccups today, but here's the news round-up...
  • After 18 months of study, a commission to study PA transportation needs has made its report. On the good news side of the ledger, it would put together stable revenue streams for public transit; on the bad news side, it recommends raises in all kinds of consumer costs, from gas tax to local real estate taxes to transit fares. The resulting monies would go to repair languishing roads and bridges, helping local transit systems, etc. Rendell sure to enjoy *this*!

  • In fact, Rendell has sworn to make transit a priority in his second term, but he's still dealing with a Republican legislature, and wants to make progress with them on tax changes and other priorities. Only time will tell how it all plays out, and a lot may ride on what new faces are in Harrisburg and who ends up in the leadership.

  • Stories on violence:

  • Slots hearing updates:
    Two groups who testified noted that they don't have casinos in Atlantic City, and thus will be focused on the success of their Philly enterprises. (NJ tax rates area fraction of those in PA, which could induce dual owners to redirect customers.) Some detail given here of these two (of the five total) competitors; more out-takes from questions and answers also here.

  • In somewhat related news, AAJane has some rather pointed remarks about the hiring process at the new Philadelphia Park casino.

  • Here's an update on the counting going on in the three close state House races. No final word on who will have the majority (by the skin of their teeth).

  • Nobody wants to be in the hot seat on property tax revaluations: they're being delayed again, this time at least until after the mayoral/Council elections next year. However, City Council will need to come up with its best suggestions for how to handle the necessary exemptions and grandfather clauses, and do so in time to put them past the state General Assembly before the new assessments can roll out (probably not until 2008-2009). Oh good, years more of teeth-gnashing and avoidance plays...

  • Alex U-A offers the first in a series of reflections on his experiences working this past election with PAS, and on outreach to young people, in particular.

  • Two upcoming events:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday round-up II: Other topics

  • The Urban Warrior hopes that Street's team comes up with a fix for nuisance liquor sales (sometimes referred to as the "stop-n-go problem"), especially before time runs out for state approval.

  • Gaming Control Board hearings on casinos start today, and the Daily News offers the questions local activists would like answered about the proposals for Philadelphia slots.

  • A second DN (opinion) piece opposes the current sites on a variety of fronts, and suggests that the city should take charge of where casinos end up within its borders.

  • Above Average Jane notes a WSJ piece on redistricting in PA and the distortions that were introduced in 2000.

  • Two new pieces from Inga Saffron on local building and development: one looks at the challenges of conserving while renovating unique properties, and a second raises the iconoclastic notion of condo towers without huge parking garages, perhaps to encourage greater transit usage...
Update: Almost forgot the big local excitement of city's first public pay toilet. You can visit it right outside City Hall!

Monday round-up I: Election-related stories

  • Last Tuesday's

    • The Inquirer looks at Pennsylvania's role as a swing state, and whether its recent "blue" trends will change its role in Presidential elections.

    • State legislators, facing uncertainty over who will hold majority in the House once the counting is done, try to rush through lame-duck legislation, to stave off tougher emission standards, among other things, raising the ire of those who feel that ousted politicians shouldn't take on controversial bills. Some have suggested a rule to prohibit legislative sessions between elections and the changing of the guard, other than for election of new leadership.

    • The Daily News opinion page encourages Democrats to get moving on universal healthcare, among their top stated priorities.

    • AAJane gives us a summary of voter turn-out by county. It was up everywhere, but clearly some hot races pulled out the extra numbers.

    • Reflections on the races:

      1. Meet Rick Taylor, new state rep.
      2. Ben Waxman looks at a conservative district that went for Casey, and reflects on that that means for the ability of the Democratic party to reach out to rural voters.
      3. Another poster provides a glimpse of election night at Patrick Murphy headquarters.

  • Next May's

    • The Inquirer notices Philly mayoral candidates squirming into the picture with Ed Rendell last week as he gave his victory speech. Other glad-handing and fundraising also underway... Included here are profiles of the Seven Dwarves and what they bring to the table.

    • A noted absence from screens and airways is Johnny Doc, once the topic of much speculation, but possibly reconsidering since his feud with the rest of the party. [Other mayoral gossip at this link too.]

    • A Daily News columnist adds to the heap of advice being offered to the mayoral field, citing the centrality of city planning and zoning, and possible reform of both. Some good points made on somewhat unsexy but important issues.

    • There's already a fundraiser tomorrow for a candidate for the 4th City Council District seat (which I think is Campbell's now?)...

    • While I'm thinking of it, Neighborhood Networks plans its next mayoral forum (to feature Knox and Evans) within the next two weeks, and is trying for a second forum involving the City Council candidates for the At-Large seats, in early December if possible. More as details are finalized.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Friday trickle

  • Now I know the election is officially behind us, because the Convention Center is back in the news: City officials are struggling to keep costs down for the planned expansion, given that they've been given a $700 million (ahem) cap by the state. Nutter finds himself in the middle on this perennial hot potato. The Daily News version of this story leads with what the Inquirer version tucks at the end: that land, construction, and materials costs have been rising hugely during the time that this project has been under discussion; they also note that the CC Authority can't start spending money until it gets its budget under the limits.

  • The arrival of a new investor for one of Philadelphia's casino proposals sparks some interest. Remind me again why the skin color of the multimillionaires in the picture matters? Meanwhile the Daily News offers the schedule and substance of hearings at which the applicants will testify, starting next week; they're open to the public if you want to get your details first-hand.

  • The School District budget is the subject of more hand-wringing: parents decry cuts in bus service that might make it impossible for students to travel to their magnet schools, and Vallas spurns begging state for more money to fill the gap. Lots more testimony expected today.

  • State courts firm on pay-hike rulings. There shall be no further appeals!

  • It may be a couple weeks before we know which party has control of the Pennsylvania State House, as absentee and provisional ballots in two tight races are counted.

  • Cops raid a deli that offered pot. No really. Best line: "It wasn't a complete facade," Werner remarked. "He really sold food in there, too."

  • DN opinions:

    1. The recent Democratic victory should be the spur for reestablishing a balance of power in national government. Crazy talk!

    2. Councilwoman Joan L. Krajewski suggests that Northeast Philly may have something to teach the new Riverfront Development folks as they plan for the future of the city's Delaware River face.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

In other Thursday news

  • The Inquirer is getting as its new editor a onetime reporter who won two Pulitzers at the paper. Much talk here about ongoing contract negotiations too. More here, including the detail that the editorial transition will happen at the end of the year.

  • On to the next election: 5 of the 7 current mayoral suspects appeared yesterday at a forum hosted by the African-American Chamber of Commerce. Lots of agreement, not much detail here. More coverage, with highlights from some of the candidates, here.

  • Speaking of mayoral wannabees, state Rep. Dwight Evans suggests a merger for PGW, which would make it part of PECO. Not only is this unprecedented, but it's something of a logstical tangle, as PGW is a public utility (with tax exemption, among other things) and PECO is a private company. hmm.

  • The Daily News reports on a School District hearing on their budget deficit problem, which featured some skepticism from Mayor Street about how one just "happens upon" a $70 million deficit in the midst of a budget year. They also follow with an opinion piece on the event/issue, in which they picked up on other Street criticisms of the review process, especially the inpenetrability of the reports and the scheduling of the meeting at an hour when most parents (or other working members of the public) would be unable to attend.

  • Finally, three interesting pieces from Inga Saffron about city development issues: one looks at nice new developments that opt for parking over retail on their ground floors, and the impact that may have on the neighborhoods; a second looking at the first meeting of the riverfront development planning group, which involved brainstorming a desirable waterfront; and the third (from last week) looks at one ad hoc proposal for a riverfront condo tower that may now have to wait for the larger plan to be worked out, rather than applying for its own zoning variances, and how the players in the Old System resist such a notion. I gotta quote this:
    But the issue isn't whether this one particular tower is well designed or not, or whether it's good or bad for Philadelphia. The issue is whether Philadelphia should continue its self-destructive habit of looking at each development proposal in isolation - or whether it should start to see all of these development proposals in the context of a larger, neighborhood-creation exercise. It's not an either/or situation. Good planning will be beneficial for both business and city residents.
    Amen. This is tricky business, and I sympathize with the developers who are having the rules changed in the middle of their undertaking, but the city needs time to do this well. (All of these pieces have attracted lively, if not always civil, debates in the comments too...)

Residual election round-up

  • Control of the Pennsylvania State House is still unclear, with one race currently showing a 19-vote margin and a couple others around 100-150 votes; more here. Expect unusual scrutiny of the processing of absentee and provisional ballots; will be a while yet before everything is decided. (If all races are confirmed in current standings, the GOP will have a one-vote majority!)

  • Democrats made a good showing in the Philly suburbs. However, Jim Gerlach held on by his teeth, a triumph for the gerrymandering process. Patrick Murphy attributes his own victory to his shoe leather, as he went door-to-door for months. More on both of these races here.

  • Speculation about what Santorum will do next.

  • The CityPaper puts Philadelphians Against Santorum in the spotlight. Note the complete absence of acknowledgment that there are other progressive groups in the city, even though many of those turned out more Casey volunteers than PAS...

  • An Inquirer editorial looks at how voters responded to black GOP candidates -- they were able to separate skin color and policy positions just fine, thanks.

  • The Inquirer gives a great summary of the numbers:

    1. State Senate results

    2. State House results

    3. Ballot questions (including some from nearby townships)

    4. County-by-county breakdowns of the vote for Governor and US Senate

    5. US House races

  • Update: nice post from Albert about Paul Lang, who lost but ran a great race. Hope to see more of him.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Belated round-up of other Wednesday news

  • Election remainders

    • Yesterday's election involved little trouble with voting machines in this area, although there were some delays in Lancaster and beyond. Many counties were using electronic systems for the first time.

    • There was a bit of sneaky pamphletting at the last minute. I didn't see the ones mentioned here, but somebody (no affiliation marked) was handing out flyers around town that suggested voting Rendell and leaving the rest blank.

    • Philly Future gives a roundup of reactions and results as summarized by various regional bloggers.

    • The Inquirer editorial page digs deep for the insight that yesterday's results indicate a desire for change in Iraq and Washington. The Daily News ruminates similarly.

  • Looking ahead

    • John Baer has thoughts on who should be appointed to fill Casey's seat as Treasurer, what Santorum should do with his new free time, and other imaginings. Scariest two words in print today? Gov. Fumo.

    • A DN piece looks at what might be Rendell's 2nd-term agenda.

    • The DN also gets the jump on the next big election horizon, with two pieces on the mayoral race that's been unofficially underway for some time: one piece looks at the suspects and their calendars, and the other offers all of them unsolicited advice from a once and former insider.

  • Other news
    The Philadelphia Weekly has the unenviable task of putting out an issue the day after Election Day, but with no election results. So other good stories filled the gap.

    • One major story looks again at anticasino activists and their efforts to have a say in how plans progress. Ackelsberg gets some time here.

    • Another piece looks at the Tierney drama, and how unhappiness in the newspaper negotiations might play out this time.

    • Also covered is the latest SEPTA budget shortfall that could cause transit crises at the end of the year. A commission is supposed to release a report next week with suggested solutions. Unsurprisingly, it's likely to call for dedicated state funding. Perhaps a change in the make-up of the Harrisburg legislature will improve prospects for such a plan.

Surely you're not checking in here for election results?!

I mean, that's what midnight TV is for! Well, here's the main stuff, mostly unread by me.
  • Casey wins big. Don't let the door hit ya'...

  • Menendez in New Jersey.

  • Rendell also gets a landslide.

  • Sestak beats Weldon in the 7th. (whoot)

  • Schwartz shows reality beats reality TV.

  • 8th District not called, with Murphy's edge over Fitzpatrick in the recount zone.

    Update: Fitzpatrick concedes! whoot!

  • 6th District also close, but Gerlach may hold on.

  • PA State House control still uncertain, with counts continuing in close races.

    • The 179th race saw Kenney hold on against Brendon Boyle. In the neighboring 172nd, Perzel beat challenger Kearney handily.

    • In the 151st, longish-shot Rick Taylor took out McGill.

    More here on uncertainty in other races, a win for Brian Lentz (?), and some upsets around the state.

  • All the special Philadelphia City Council races went to the annointed Democrats.

  • All 3 ballot questions were approved.
More on how the election day went, more mayoral jostling, and even some non-election news later in the afternoon.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't forget, don't forget!!

get out and vote!
It's Election Day tomorrow! Go do your part.
I'll be at the polls all day...

Miscellaneous small bits

  • PhillyFuture offers some ideas for citizen journalists for tomorrow's vote, many of which are good thoughts for anybody who'd like to be sure that elections proceed fairly.

  • Above Average Jane applauds long-shot candidates for keeping the system alive and the incumbents honest. It is pretty appalling that folks like Bob Brady don't have even a token opposition. Seems poor strategy, at the least. And, you know, sometimes something happens...

  • Jane also attempts to research Tommy Tomlinson, who's running against Paul Lang, but finds scant evidence of what he's been up to in the legislature.

Monday round-up -- pre-election edition

  • Last-minute candidate scrambling

    • Senate candidates rev up their bases.

    • Swann continues to push (against dim poll predictions).

    • Surprise news: suburban House races tight. no, really?

    • Sestak campaign has weekend of GOTV fervor -- I'm sure many campaigns have had similar schedules.

    • Presumed mayoral candidates prefer not to talk about how tomorrow's results could affect their plans. Or they say they won't be affected.

  • Voter info
    I recommend that anybody uncertain about election logistics buy today's Inquirer, which has pages in the first section devoted to polling place locations, listing every person on every ballot by region, and even walking you through the process with photos of the machines. The same information does not appear to be mirrored online, so you'll have to consult various sources to put together for yourself the things you need.

    • Unsure where to vote? See this or this site to enter your address and find out.

    • First time voting in this area? Here's a primer on the machines. (Also, if it's your first time at your current address, be sure to bring a photo ID.)

    • Philly Future has an assortment of links to other resources and tools.

    • The Daily News summarizes the ballot questions that will appear tomorrow.

  • Recommendations

    • Inquirer summarizes its PA state-level endorsements today, and yesterday they summarized their higher office endorsements for both sides of the river.

    • The three ballot questions attract a mixed batch of recommendations which are hard to sort out. The DN piece linked above mentions the major party positions on only the statewide matter. The DN gives its own recommendations and rationales here, which can be compared and contrasted with those of the Inquirer, which appeared Friday here.

    • You may or may not be interested in my own opinions. If so, here are some.

      • In the races that I have followed, I'm pretty much favoring a straight Democratic vote this year, with the possible exceptions of McIlhinney for State Senate, and the 7th District City Council race, where I make no preference. In all the major races in the greater Philadelphia area, I really think that the Democratic slate is strong, offering some exciting opportunities to improve how our nation and our region are governed, and I encourage supporting them. Will be keeping my fingers crossed for the excellent but slightly long-shot candidacy of Tim Kearney in the Northeast Philly area, where he's taking on Perzel.

      • I differ from both major papers in my feelings about the ballot issues. (However, I also feel radically unclear on the history or context of most of them, so I'm not as clear on the choices as I'd like to be.)

        1. On the statewide question, concerning belated compensation for veterans, I make no recommendation -- surely we are acutely aware of the hard lives of veterans, and it's nice that PA has usually offered them something, but this strange option to have a bond issue 15 years after the fact strikes me oddly -- why can't the legislators agree to fund it? Not sure what I'll do myself.

        2. On the first local issue, having to do with minority contracting, I think it's good to have benchmarks and accountability, and both parties appear to support this move. I'm just not sure why you need a charter change to require a report, and I can imagine future problems with that system. But, on balance, perhaps a qualified yes; use your own judgement.

        3. On the second local measure, I find that I have a stronger opinion. The measure would attempt to compensate the families of police officers and fire fighters who are killed in the line of duty, by giving their children hiring preferences for civil service jobs (adding a few points to their exam scores). The argument is made that a similar benefit is offered to veterans. However, this parallel and thus this innovation seem misguided to me. (a) A distinction should be made between preferences offered to those who have sacrificed for the public (and perhaps lost seniority, training time, etc. to overseas service) and compensation offered to those who have lost a loved one (to war, or to high-risk jobs like fire-fighting). Certainly there should be survivor benefits for families who lose a parent on the job, but I would think that their need would be more immediate than to bump up their children's employment chances, possibly decades later. Better would be a scholarship fund, etc. (b) Do we really want to expand the amount of nepotism and unfairness in the construction and operation of local government, just at a time when we're working for increased transparency and ethics reform? I think that good government principles dictate hiring the best qualified people you can find, for every level of civil service. So, much as I admire those who protect and serve our city, I recommend a vote against this well-meaning but misguided measure.

      Not sure how much help that is, but something to chew on, anyway...


Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday news -- semimotivated edition

Here's some stuff that I want to highlight:

Here's some other stuff I feel should be linked, but can't get psyched up to do much with...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday round-up

Tight day, so will keep it brief (in theory, at least):
  • More on ties between Weldon's daughter and Serbian bigwig crooks.

  • Gerlach-Murphy race another nail-biter. (Still.)

  • The latest in electoral desperation: ads from GOP wives.

  • Less original, Lynn Swann plays the race card.

  • Voters under the microscope:
    1. Can they handle being redirected to new polling places?
    2. Will they remember the pay hikes?
    3. Heavy turnout expected, with absentee ballot requests soaring.
    4. Young voters appear to share the views of older voters this year.
    5. Here's some info you might need.

  • Apparently Pennsylvania is the country's second-most gerrymandered state, which news will come as no surprise to anyone living in Northeast Philadelphia.

  • I'm totally bored by the Kerry kerfluffle, especially since his actual intent (with his mangled joke) was clear in the advance transcript of his speech. I'll skip the "news" coverage, in favor of appreciating the pithy take of D-Mac at Philadelphia Will Do.

  • Ben Waxman (from YPP) makes waves: (1) he elicits a phone call from Johnny Doc, defending union backing of Santorum, and (2) publishes a DN opinion piece laying out suggested priorities (framed for youth but good for everyone) for Democrats should they take control of Congress next week.

  • Anti-casino activists also continue to get attention: (1) a CityPaper story profiles their recent seeming success on the local zoning rights front, and (2) a coalition of groups has filed a suit challenging the overall Gaming Board regulations (and particularly the lack of standards for awarding competitive licenses).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday deluge

  • Election yap

  • City Council focus

    • The Inquirer reveals that there are Republican candidates for the three open seats, whether or not the Democratic nominees are already picking out their office furniture.

    • The Daily News is unwilling to make an endorsement in the 4th District race. They encourage new faces to get into the battle next year.

    • The DN makes a pick in the 7th District race, giving a surprise endorsement to the Republican in the race while muttering about the inexperience of both candidates.

    • The DN does give Greenlee the nod in the at-large race, saying he's in good position to hit the ground running. And all signs indicate he'll have to run fast to stay ahead of the pack that will materialize next May!

  • Tips for voters

    • The Daily News offers some advice for voters, from being sure that your polling place hasn't moved (see list of new locations), to various past problems with interpreters, access, etc.

    • Here's some more details, including poll hours, your rights, and what to do if a problem arises.

    • A Philadelphia Weekly columnist calls on Jews to return to their liberal roots, rather than letting support for Israel draw them into backing crazy extremists at home.

  • Other news

    • City Council is hearing testimony on prison crowding and the state of the state's capabilities. More here.

    • Much excitement over money that doesn't yet exist. That is, crap headline of "Schools get $5 million slots win," in the deferred "once we actually have money flowing in" kind of way . . .

    • The FBI has just wrapped up a three-year sting, resulting in charges for 35 folks involved in an insurance fraud scheme.

    • The Weekly includes a piece looking at coalitions that help poor and homeless folks vote and get their needs addressed by candidates.

    • A YPP poster alerts us to a Commuter Options Program to help shuttle suburban residents to jobs downtown, as a possible spur to economic growth in the city.

    • Apparently I missed news yesterday that a the newspaper guild and city papers have extended their negotiation deadline by another month, so no strike around election time.
      (via Philadelphia Will Do)

    • Events:
      1. Sidney Blumenthal at the Constitution Center tonight.
      2. Election weekend kick-off with YPP and PAS Friday.

        Update: this appears to have been cancelled. Check with Dan...