How to Help Your Favorite City Council Candidate on Election Day

Election Day is less than two weeks away on May 21st, and with such unusually competitive races for City Council, there are some real opportunities to make a difference for candidates you support by spending even just a couple hours volunteering to help them persuade voters, turn those voters out on Election Day, and make sure they’re provided with information about the candidate at their polling place Continue reading

The Opposite of Councilmanic Prerogative is Planning

A recent controversy that popped up this week over a weird "flag lot" development in Garden Court in West Philly, where a 30-unit mixed commercial building is going to be built essentially in the middle of the block behind a row of homes, provides an excellent example of what's wrong with some Council members' approach to neighborhood planning and zoning.  Continue reading

Angel Cruz's Jobs Plan: Full Employment for 7th District Ward Leaders

(State Rep. Angel Cruz | Image: NBC 10) The Philly Democratic machine has had it in for 7th District Council member Maria Quinones-Sanchez ever since she beat their preferred candidate Danny Savage in a primary back in 2007, and she's since developed a reputation as the one incumbent Democratic City Committee never supports for reelection—an incredible fact given how many questionable candidates can always count on the Party's uncritical backing. Continue reading

Philly's RCO Process is Overdue for Some Democracy Reforms

(Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting | Photo credit: Maria Pouchnikova) What responsibility does the City have to ensure some baseline level of democratic practices in the Registered Community Organizations they deputize to host official public zoning meetings about development projects? A Northeast Times report from this week on recent zoning meeting in Mayfair provides a pretty compelling case that the City needs to go further than they've traditionally wanted to go in setting a floor for openness and inclusion.  Continue reading

New Report Shows What's Good for Center City's Economy is Good for Neighborhoods

(Image: Center City District) Center City District's new State of Center City report is full of great statistics about the amazing growth of Philadelphia's downtown business district, as well as some of the underlying weaknesses we still face in competing with other big cities, and our nearby suburban municipalities for jobs, residents, and tax base. Continue reading

Committee of Seventy Releases Plan for a More Accountable City Council

(City Council Districts) The new Democratic House majority in Washington has prioritized an ambitious political reform package, H.R. 1, as their first item of business, which would overhaul important aspects of the voting and campaigning landscape with the aim of expanding voting rights and restoring trust in the political system. Local government reform organization Committee of Seventy wants to harness some of that national momentum for a local anti-corruption, pro-accountability push, and this week they released an agenda they're calling Philadelphia Resolution 1 designed to strengthen our local democracy and governing institutions. Continue reading

Philadelphia Grew for the 12th Straight Year Since 2006

New Census figures released Thursday revealed that Philadelphia county's population grew for the twelfth straight year since 2006, increasing by 3,917 residents between 2017 and 2018. Philadelphia's growth outpaced most of the southeastern suburban counties, powered mostly by immigration and births. Continue reading

Jannie Blackwell Wants the Free Library to Throw Her Pre-Election Pep Rallies

(Image: Philadelphia City Council) It's budget season in City Council, and that means it's time for one of City Council to exercise one of their most important functions, which is holding accountable all the various departments and entities that receive public funding. Some Council members are better at this job than others, and some just use it to score political points and special favors. At the Free Library's hearing yesterday, we saw a particularly flagrant example of the latter from 3rd District Councilmember Jannie Blackwell. Continue reading

Poverty Concentration and Disinvestment Are Still Philadelphia’s Biggest Neighborhood Change Problems

A new report and mapping project from William Stancil at the University of Minnesota Law School’s Institute of Metropolitan Opportunity presents a novel way of visualizing different types of neighborhood change over two decades in regions across the United States, adding an important new layer of context to the debates over gentrification and displacement. In Philadelphia, the report's findings highlight the extent to which displacement through disinvestment is by far the biggest neighborhood change problem that most neighborhoods are struggling with.  Continue reading

Why Our Frustrating Assessment Politics Isn't Going Away

Property taxes are always a hot-button issue, especially in a city with such an unusually high number of homeowners, and few issues tend to kick the bees' nest quite like reassessments.  Continue reading