Ten Out of Ten District Council Members Have Challengers in 2019

(Committee of Seventy button wall | Photo: Jon Geeting) Philadelphia is coming off of two unusually competitive and high-turnout election cycles in 2017 and 2018, in the wake of Donald Trump's surprise 2016 victory, and while we're still too far from Election Day to know whether 2019 will fit the pattern, early signs point to another lively change election. Case in point: ten out of ten District Council members are facing a primary challenge. Continue reading

How Term Limits and Public Financing Would Make Council Elections More Competitive

Max Marin has an important piece up at Billy Penn on why it's so hard for anyone to run against sitting District Council incumbents under the current system, leaving Philadelphia with one of the oldest, most entrenched local legislatures of any large U.S. city.  Continue reading

The Math Behind Why Philly Isn't Seeing More Office Building Construction

(Photo: Jon Geeting) Philadelphia has been seeing a lot of new residential high-rise construction since the mid-2000's, but we haven't had as much new commercial office tower construction despite reasonably strong downtown job growth. Why is that the case? Glenn Blumenfeld has an interesting op-ed looking at some of the math behind it, and why we're unlikely to see an office tower boom in the near future.  Continue reading

Don't Bring the Broad Street Line South, Move the Navy Yard North

(The Stadium District has plenty of empty land and BSL access without any of the Navy Yard's transportation problems) Philadelphia's Navy Yard office district has seen incredible growth over the last 20 years, and while that's been great for the city's economy, the area suffers from major transportation problems that, taken together, conspire to choke off that growth: the lack of a subway connection to the Broad Street Line, and the Navy's ban on residential housing in the area. Fortunately, there's a vast expanse of open land in the stadium district just north of the Navy Yard that features none of these problems, and would make a better target for the Navy Yard's future expansion.  Continue reading

Germantown Neighbors Resort to Buying a Trash Truck Because Mayor Kenney Won't Sweep the Streets

(Street sweeping in Olney | Photo credit: Philly.com) Have you ever read one of those heartwarming stories about thousands of kind people on social media raising $100,000 through a GoFundMe page for a stranger's medical treatment, only to despair at what that says about the wider inhumanity of health care policy in the United States? That's the same feeling I got reading this story from Billy Penn's Michaela Winberg about two Germantown non-profits raising money from their neighbors to buy a trash truck and bootstrap their own miniature Streets Department.  Continue reading

Why Doesn't City Council Post Their Votes on Legistar Anymore?

(Council President Darrell Clarke | Photo credit: WHYY) City Council used to record the vote breakdown of how different members voted on legislation on Legistar, the vote tracking software that Council uses, but they stopped doing this randomly in 2006. That's ridiculous, and the next Council President should commit to posting the votes again.  Continue reading

Philly Home Inventory Dips to a Record Low in Q4

(Image: Kevin Gillen, Lindy Institute) The Lindy Institute's new Q4 housing report from economist Kevin Gillen shows Philadelphia's housing market still deep in seller's market territory with record low inventory of homes for sale and prices continuing to rise, albeit more slowly this quarter. It's a situation that calls for local elected officials to shake off their complacency and start thinking harder about their role in ensuring there's available and affordable housing for everyone who wants to live here. Continue reading

Al Taubenberger Signs onto #MuteRKelly After Defending Vince Fenerty's Harassment as "High School Puppy Love"

(Al Taubenberger called PPA director Vince Fenerty's harassment of a colleague "a high school puppy love situation") Councilmember Helen Gym and some Council colleagues are on track to pass a resolution expressing solidarity with the national #MuteRKelly campaign, which seeks to deny a public platform to the singer R. Kelly, who has been accused by a long list of victims of sexual abuse and minor abuse. But we have to raise an eyebrow at some of the members on the co-sponsor list given their roles in other local harassment controversies. Continue reading

The Biggest Scandal in the Local 98 Indictment is Totally Legal

(Bobby Henon) Yesterday, in what portends a major shake-up for city and state politics, federal prosecutors announced a litany of charges against about a dozen individuals connected to their investigation of powerful IBEW Local 98 business manager John Dougherty, aka Johnny Doc, most notably including Doc himself and 6th District Councilmember Bobby Henon.  Continue reading

City Council's Property Sale Decisions Need a Better Paper Trail

Philadelphia's broken process for disposing of the city's vast land holdings is finally getting the attention it deserves, but many of the critiques and proposed solutions so far have missed the mark. The problems start further upstream from where some Councilmembers and administration officials are focused, at the very beginning of the process when people first try to acquire city land. Continue reading