Early Biden Moves Could Finally Solve the Income Side of Philly’s Affordability Challenges

(Joe Biden in Philadelphia | Photo: Matt Rourke, Associated Press) Over the years, we’ve played a part in popularizing the political idea that Philadelphia has an income problem more than we have a housing affordability problem. This isn’t an argument for complacency about rising housing costs—a topic we write about often—but rather is an argument for greater awareness from our local political class about the important ways that Philly’s housing challenges differ from those in the big cost-crisis regions, and the different strategies that need more emphasis here. Continue reading

Al Schmidt Won't Run Again. That Raises the Stakes for Abolishing Commissioners' Office

(Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer) Philadelphia’s Republican City Commissioner Al Schmidt, whose matter-of-fact demeanor and competence under pressure provided reassurance throughout 2020, has announced he won’t seek another term as Commissioner in 2023. Continue reading

PA Judicial Gerrymandering Bill Advances, Could Be on the Ballot This Spring

Fresh off the recent campaign to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 election last week, Pennsylvania Republicans passed over a moment for introspection and instead pivoted straight to a naked power play to rig future statewide appellate court elections in their favor. Continue reading

Senator Brewster is Seated, Leaving PA Senate Balance of Power the Same

(Jim Brewster and Nicole Ziccarrelli) Democratic Senator Jim Brewster of Allegheny County had a very close reelection fight against challenger Nicole Ziccarrelli, ultimately prevailing over her by 69 votes after a court fight over whether to count certain mail-in ballots which was decided in Brewster’s favor. Continue reading

Will Trumpism Still Be Ascendant in PA's 2022 Elections?

As America grapples with the frightening attempted insurrection in Washington this week which left 5 people dead, there are grave concerns about the dynamics that brought us to this point, and the extent to which Republican politics will continue on this same trajectory after Donald Trump exits the Oval Office. Continue reading

Pennsylvania: Don’t Be the Last-Mover on Legal Marijuana

(Just a couple of guys who hate exporting tax revenue to New Jersey) New Jersey overwhelmingly voters approved a ballot measure this November creating a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana sales in the state, jumping ahead of several other nearby states in the densely-packed tri-state area to create a legal marijuana industry. Continue reading

Bi-partisan Group of Lawmakers Eyes 2021 Push for PA Open Primaries

(Source: Business Insider) Unaffiliated voters who aren’t registered with any political party surpassed registered Republicans in number about 4 years ago in Philadelphia, but this group is really limited in its ability to impact electoral politics in the city because in Pennsylvania, unaffiliated voters can’t vote in Democratic (or Republican) primaries—basically the only contests that really matter for most of the elected offices in the city. Continue reading

City Council's Street Seating Policy Is a Permitting Reform Success Story

One of the big municipal success stories of the COVID era was the discovery that city processes really can become a lot more flexible very quickly when there’s the political will to make them so. Inga Saffron takes stock of a few ways that played out in Philadelphia this year and what would be good to hang onto going forward after the pandemic ends, and the section about the change in street rules is worth dwelling on because it's a huge and unsung success story for permitting reform. Continue reading

Changing the Politics of Housing Through Local Hiring

(Broad and Washington rendering) Philadelphia is one of the nation’s poorest big cities, and one of the consistent goals and themes of city politics is about finding ways to bring down the bruising 24.5% poverty rate, through a combination of safety net programs, education, workforce training, and a great many other initiatives. Continue reading

The Changing Geography of Philadelphia's Voting Blocs

(Image: Jonathan Tannen, Sixty-Six Wards) One of the more interesting features of the Sixty-Six Wards data portal is the attempt to quantify Philadelphia’s different voting blocs, which for these purposes are divisions—not people—that tend to prefer the same groupings of candidates across elections. Continue reading