Councilman Derek Green Proposes a New Independent Fiscal Office for City Council

City Council doesn't currently have a non-partisan way of evaluating what their bills cost, but that could change if a new bill from At-Large Councilman Derek Green becomes law, establishing an Independent Fiscal Office for City Council.  Continue reading

Rethinking Voter Turnout Beyond Registered Voters

(Image: Sixty-Six Wards) Philadelphia saw record midterm election turnout this November, with 53% of registered voters participating in the election. This is the way we're all used to thinking about turnout—as a percentage of those registered—but Jonathan Tannen's latest post at Sixty-Six Wards provides some interesting alternative ways of conceptualizing it as a fraction of all adults of eligible voting age—arguably a more useful way for wards and other political actors to think about it. Continue reading

Political Response to Johnson Land Scandal Ignores the Main Problem With Corrupt Land Sales: City Council

The reports that Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has now been caught twice steering city-owned land to the same campaign donor have begun eliciting a political response, but predictably, all the policy changes elected officials have embraced so far fail to address the core issue: that City Council ordinances shouldn't be required to sell city land. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney's Police HQ2 Deal is Even Worse Than You Think

The Provident Mutual Building saga continues with Jacob Adelman reporting that the Kenney administration is moving forward with a plan to sell the noted white elephant and surrounding 13-acre property near 46th and Market for just $10 million, after taxpayers recently invested about $50 million into renovating the building for a new police headquarters. They're going to lose $42 million, which sounds bad, until you realize it's even worse than that. Continue reading

Councilman Johnson's Defense of His Land Scandal Doesn't Make Sense

After getting caught twice steering city-owned land to the same friend and campaign contributor, and taking serious fire from the media—and possibly the FBI—Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's office finally issued a statement making the case for blaming everybody but himself. Continue reading

GOP Lawmakers May Try to Block Wolf's Push For New Voting Machines by 2020

(New voting machines | Image: WHYY) Governor Tom Wolf has been mounting a push to get counties to buy new voting machines before the 2020 elections that will have an auditable paper trail—something the voting machines in a majority of Pennsylvania counties don't have. For a variety of reasons this has led to consternation from county election officials, including our City Commissioners, and now the Senate Republican Majority Whip says he's drafting legislation to take away Wolf's power to force counties to buy the machines. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney's "Possible Pilot Program" for Street Sweeping Would Be Too Little, Too Late

(Photo: Bella Vista Neighbors Association) This morning on Radio Times, Mayor Kenney's Litter Czar Nic Esposito announced that the administration is looking at a "possible pilot program" for street sweeping, to potentially, maybe, be rolled out sometime this spring right before the primary.  Continue reading

Kenney Still Determined to Break His Street Sweeping Campaign Promise

(Image: Phila. Dept of Public Records, via Billy Penn) Many people find it perplexing why Philadelphia is still the only large U.S. city without a municipal street sweeping program, but in an interview with WHYY this week, Mayor Jim Kenney spelled it out more clearly than he ever has: he's terrified of confronting the city's parking entitlement crisis and won't spend any political capital pressing the issue. Continue reading

What Happens if the PA Supreme Court Allows Fusion Voting?

(How fusion voting could lead more energetic municipal elections | Image: Duke Energy) The PA Supreme Court could be on the verge of expanding fusion voting in Pennsylvania, where candidates can run on more than one party's ballot line, with some potentially fascinating consequences for municipal elections in Philadelphia.  Continue reading

To Prevent Council Land Shenanigans, We Need to Change the City Charter

(How to fix land disposition | Image: Jon Geeting) The recent revelations that 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has now been caught twice steering city-owned land to a campaign contributor—both times to the same. exact. guy.—has led to calls from some observers to end the informal legislative tradition known as Councilmanic Prerogative, which allows District Councilmembers to unilaterally control land use matters in their Districts. Continue reading