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

'Philadelphia Platform' a Preview of Philly's New and Improved State Delegation

(The Philadelphia delegation, minus a few reps | Photo credit: PA House Democrats) Philadelphia's delegation to the General Assembly in Harrisburg has had a lot of turnover in recent years, and there are now a majority of newer younger members in the mix who are changing the way the delegation operates for the better. Late last week we saw the latest fruits of these positive changes with the release of their Philadelphia Platform—an outline of the delegation's common priorities, anchored around the goal of reducing poverty.  Continue reading

Darrell Clarke Should Make St. Laurentius the Test Case for Historic Preservation Task Force Recommendations

(St. Laurentius | Photo: Jon Geeting) Last summer we wrote about the ongoing saga of St. Laurentius church, the historic and fast-deteriorating Fishtown church that's locked in an intractable legal battle that only Councilmanic Prerogative can save it from.  Continue reading

Controller Report: OPA is Getting Worse at Assessing Land

(Image: Philadelphia Controller) A new analysis from Controller Rebecca Rhynhart confirms a problem we've been flagging here for a while now with the City's assessments, which is that the Office of Property Assessment's method of assessing land values is totally broken. Continue reading

Kenney Street Sweeping Pilot Would Make Air Quality Worse to Avoid Tough Parking Politics

Ryan Briggs and Aaron Moselle report that Mayor Kenney plans to pilot a version of a street sweeping program in six neighborhoods that will avoid asking anyone to move their cars by instead hiring people to blow all the curbside trash into the middle of the street and sweeping it up there. Continue reading

2019 Citizens' Guide Makes the Case for Ward Redistricting

City Commissioner Al Schmidt recently released the 2019 update to the Citizens' Guide he puts together every year, which is a great introduction to all the really useful basic facts of Philadelphia politics, complete with legislator contact information, the divisions that make up all the different local, state, and federal districts, and voter registration statistics for all the different districts. It's a very useful resource to bookmark for all kinds of practical political questions, and I personally refer to it all the time. Continue reading

Philly's Political Wards Haven't Been Redrawn in Half a Century

Congressional and state legislative redistricting is a hot topic that's getting a lot of attention these days, but most of the action isn't going to happen until after the 2020 Census. While we wait, there's a redistricting issue close to home that's worthy of everyone's attention because it's even more egregious, and it's also easier to fix. Continue reading

Single-Family Zoning is a Tax on the Housing Trust Fund

Minneapolis City Council recently rocked the housing policy world by passing a new comprehensive plan that calls for eliminating single-family zoning (and minimum parking requirements!) everywhere within city limits. Under the plan, up to three dwellings would be allowed on any plot of land in the city. This decision has attracted lots of attention among people who follow housing politics nationwide because it's one of the most radical moves taken recently by any large U.S. city to begin dismantling the legacy of housing segregation, and to increase affordable housing choices in more areas of the city. Continue reading

Luck of the Draw: A Bad Way to Hire Judges

(Photo: Jon Geeting) Do you believe that Court of Common Pleas judges, who are responsible for deciding major civil and criminal trials, and family and domestic issues, should be chosen completely at random, by fishing a ping pong ball out of a coffee can? If so, you're going to love Philadelphia's upcoming judicial primaries. Continue reading