Political Corruption and "I Know a Guy" Governance

Philadelphia is famously a small town masquerading as a big city, and in the world of government and politics, this has both some large benefits and some large drawbacks. One of the benefits is that a superabundance of social capital means networks of personal relationships can sometimes make up for systems-level failures in governance and service delivery. And one of the drawbacks, on the flipside of the same coin, is that the ability to muddle through on the strength of personal relationships saps too much political energy away from coming up with systems-level solutions to the systems-level failures. Continue reading

The Trump Administration Will End the Census Count a Month Early. Take the Census Today!

(Philly Counts Door Hangers | Image: City of Philadelphia) The Trump administration announced late Monday that the Census Bureau would be ending its count of the population a month early, even for the online collection form, in order to—they say—meet deadlines for reporting data for Congressional redistricting. The move alarmed Census experts and non-profits who have been ramping up door-to-door and other targeted outreach to harder-to-reach populations about the Census, and say an earlier deadline would lead to a less accurate count.  Continue reading

What the Early Evidence Says about Philly's Mixed-Income Housing Program

The Planning Commission released their report last week on the first-year performance of the 2018 Mixed-Income Housing program, which City Council adopted in fall of 2018 as a compromise at the end of a big debate over mandatory inclusionary zoning, and has been talking about expanding more recently. Continue reading

Education is the Biggest Determinant of Mail-Voting in Philadelphia

Political analysts are still poring over the Pennsylvania primary results, and particularly the absentee voting patterns and some of the observed differences in which demographic groups chose to vote by mail or not. Continue reading

Deeley: Get Your Mail Ballots In a Week Before Election Day

(Mail ballots that came in after Election Day | Photo: City Commissioners) Pennsylvania’s expanded vote-by-mail policies were a lifeline during the primary in June. The roll-out wasn’t perfect though, in ways officials and election observers are still piecing together, and this week the Inquirer added to that body of analysis with the alarming finding that as many as 92,000 Pennsylvania absentee voters may have been effectively disenfranchised by mundane logistical issues like postal delays.  Continue reading

Will the PA State Legislature Flip in November?

(Image: Stephen Wolf, Daily Kos Elections) With 102 days left until the November 3rd Presidential election, Joe Biden is polling about 7.5 percentage points ahead of President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania—a state the incumbent won by only around 46,000 votes in 2016. Continue reading

Kenney and Council members Roll Out Ambitious Livable Communities Action Plan

(Legalizing accessory dwellings in residential districts is one of the plan's recommendations | Image: APA) This Wednesday, the Kenney administration released a new Livable Communities Action Plan developed in coordination with AARP’s Livable Communities Action Network, which comes with a long list of recommendations for changes to major areas of city policy in housing, transportation, and public space that would make the city more accommodating to people of all ages, and seniors in particular. Continue reading

LCB Continues to Hide the Ball on How Many Liquor Licenses Exist

(Supermarkets have been gobbling up all the R licenses and the LCB's won't say how many more there are | Photo: Jon Geeting) Pennsylvania’s policy of promoting sky-high liquor license prices by capping the quantity of licenses in each county is a disaster for new restauranteurs, creativity and experimentation in food culture, and economic development of commercial corridors, but there’s an underappreciated way that the state’s liquor bureaucracy makes this even worse than it has to be, by refusing to tell anybody how many liquor licenses there actually are in the world. Continue reading

The Mixed-Income Housing Program is Working—Now Is the Time to Level It Up

(Image: Solomon Cordwell Buenz) The Mixed-Income Housing density bonus program is the closest thing Philadelphia has to a money printer, taking free empty space in the sky and selling it to developers in exchange for cash payments into the city’s Housing Trust Fund or on-site affordable homes. Continue reading

The Voter Participation Costs of Philly’s Polling Place Consolidation

The City Commissioners’ polling place consolidation likely lowered Philadelphia’s primary day vote totals by around 19,000 votes, according to Jonathan Tannen at Sixty-Six Wards——a little under half of Donald Trump’s winning margin in Pennsylvania in 2016. Continue reading