The Price of a Judge (Excerpt from 'Philadelphia Battlefields')

(Hon. Darnell Jones II) We are pleased to share this excerpt from John Kromer's excellent new book "Philadelphia Battlefields: Disruptive Campaigns and Upset Elections in a Changing City" (Temple University Press, 2020) about upset local elections in Philadelphia's history. Kromer is a professor at Penn's Fels Institute, the former director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and a one-time Sheriff candidate. His book covers the history of insurgent campaigns from the 1950's through the present-day, including Controller Rebecca Rhynhart's 2017 primary, and Jamie Gauthier's 3rd District Council win. Continue reading

Dropboxes Live! PA Supreme Court Protects Voting Access Expansion in Act 77

(Dropboxes live! Photo: City Commissioners) Pennsylvania has a good chance of being the tipping point state in the November election, according to an analysis from FiveThirtyEight, which gives President Donald Trump an 84 percent chance of winning reelection if he carries the state, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden a 96 percent chance of winning the presidency if he takes Pennsylvania. Continue reading

Why Philly's Housing Affordability Problem is Really an Income Problem

(Chart: Pew) Philadelphia’s housing affordability challenges are substantially different from those in places like New York City and the Bay Area, according to some clarifying new research from Pew showing Philadelphia’s issues stem much more from the high poverty rate and percentage of people with very low incomes, as opposed to runaway housing price inflation. Continue reading

State Lawmakers to Take Up Election Law Changes Next Week as Window for Action Closes

(Image: Timothy Rezendes via Creative Commons) Next Tuesday, the State Government Committee of the Pennsylvania Senate will once again take up the election bill that Republicans tried to rush through unexpectedly last week. The last-minute committee meeting violated notice requirements, so the passage of the Republican election bill was voided and they had to reschedule the vote.  Continue reading

The Downsides of Postponing Assessments for Yet Another Year

(Another missed opportunity to address known inequities | Image: Office of the Controller) The Kenney administration announced this week that they will be postponing real estate reassessments for an additional year, after also postponing last year’s reassessments, citing the impending CAMA system rollout and COVID-related complications as compelling reasons to delay marking assessed values to market. Continue reading

Trust the Penn's Landing Redevelopment Selection Process

(Penn's Landing | Image: Jacob Adelman) The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the non-profit steward of Delaware River waterfront development and public space, is choosing a developer for the Penn’s Landing site next month, and this week we were treated to a series of juicy leaks about the three proposals, including one from the Sixers’ owners for a new arena and mixed-use residential and entertainment district. Continue reading

Pass a Clean Bill for Mail Ballot “Pre-Canvassing”

(A mail ballot dropbox at City Hall used for the primary | Photo: City Commissioners) State-level negotiations over a last-minute package of election law changes are heading in an unhelpful direction, with House Republicans attempting to extract unrelated policy concessions in order to pass critical mail-ballot “pre-screening” changes that both Republicans and Democrats agree must happen to avoid a prolonged count after Election Day. Continue reading

Wolf and Republican Plans Agree on ‘Pre-Canvassing’ Ballots, But Other Battle Lines Emerge

Pennsylvania’s elected officials have a very short window in the next couple weeks to come to some type of agreement on legislative changes to Act 77 in order for any new election laws to be implementable in time for the November election. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Lawmakers are Sleepwalking Toward Million-Dollar Liquor Licenses

Pennsylvania state law prevents the Liquor Control Board from just printing however many liquor licenses restaurant owners want to buy, and as a result, the state has too few licenses available and the prices are getting out of control.  Continue reading

City Commissioners to Debut 17 In-Person Early Voting Locations

Many people know Act 77 established a new vote-by-mail system for Pennsylvania, but there are a couple of unsung features of the law that there’s less public awareness of because they haven’t debuted yet due to the pandemic. The big one is the in-person early-voting satellite locations where people will be able to request, complete, and turn back in their absentee ballots in a single trip. This is still officially absentee voting, since the ballots are scanned later on, but there’s no mail involved. Continue reading