'Home Rule' Episode 6: Food Fight! The Politics of Philly's Restaurant Recovery

  The hospitality industry, and particularly bars, restaurants, and live performances, have born the brunt of the job losses over the last year, and this is an important driver of the elevated unemployment rate, as the Pew ‘State of the City’ report shows. Continue reading

The Urban Exodus That Wasn't

Philadelphia’s upcoming budget debate involves more of a guessing game than usual, with several significant unknowns about the pace of public health recovery, the pace of economic recovery, the extent of the structural changes favoring remote work, residential population changes, and more.  Continue reading

Get Ready for Another Aimless Litter Task Force

Residents got some good news about street sweeping funding in Mayor Kenney’s budget proposal last week, but as has been the case with prior announcements about this topic, the classic next step is always for the Mayor to come out with some novel way of stalling or making concessions in the direction of parochialism. Continue reading

Mayor Kenney's Optimistic New Budget Plan

Mayor Kenney released his annual budget proposal Thursday, with a much more optimistic outlook for city services this year thanks to a major infusion of $1.4 billion in funding from the American Rescue Plan. Continue reading

Let's Make County Government a Thing in PA

Pennsylvania continues to underwhelm on vaccinations, ranking 27th out of the 50 states in the percentage of our population that’s been vaccinated. In response to some recent dust-ups between the state and local officials about the roll-out, Governor Tom Wolf told the Inquirer that “you kinda have to scratch your head” to see where things might be going wrong.  But those of us who follow local government policy in Pennsylvania are not scratching our heads. We know at least one of the reasons why things aren’t going better: the near-total lack of government capacity below the level of state government. Continue reading

What Philly Should Watch for in Biden's Infrastructure Plan

Now that the American Rescue Plan has been passed, the Biden administration is intent on pivoting to a big infrastructure package to the tune of $2 trillion. On Wednesday, Biden lifted the embargo on the American Jobs Plan, which laid out some very ambitious goals for infrastructure that, if adopted, could have some major positive impacts for Philadelphia’s economy, its built environment, and even the local politics of transportation and housing. Continue reading

Early Voting Set to Begin Soon in PA

Everybody is still settling into the rhythms of Pennsylvania’s new election calendar, which was changed significantly because of the new vote-by-mail option, and one thing not everyone may have been expecting just yet is that it's already almost time for early voting! The vote-by-mail change came with a 50-day early voting window for mail voting that technically begins this coming Monday, March 29th. In practice, the ballots aren’t going to be ready to go by then because there are still some ballot challenges to resolve, and the Commissioners can’t arrange or print the ballots until all that’s settled.  Continue reading

How Fast Will Philly’s Budget Recover From COVID?

(Image: Controller's Office) Philadelphia’s budget deficit was substantially resolved by the American Rescue Plan’s provisions for state and local aid, but what is likely to happen to local revenues next year and the year after as that funding starts to dissipate? Continue reading

Philly's Housing Trust Fund to Receive 2nd-Largest-Ever Payment, Thanks to Mixed-Income Housing Program

(Image: Rendering of 2300 Market | Tantillo Architecture) The Housing Trust Fund is set to receive its second-largest single payment, of nearly $1 million, thanks to a 222-unit over-build development in the works at 23rd and Market St. To be able to build at a greater density than would otherwise be allowed, the builder is utilizing the city’s Mixed-Income Housing density bonus program, and will make a payment of $948,330 into the Housing Trust Fund.  Continue reading

Philly's New Voting Machines Can Finally Randomize Ballot Position. Let's End the 'Ballot Lottery' Once and For All

(Image: Sixty-Six Wards) Philadelphia’s judicial elections are a lot like a lottery system, where a candidate’s randomly-selected ballot position tends to be the most influential factor in the race. Sixty-Six Wards writer Jonathan Tannen, in a 2016 analysis for Econsult, found that candidates who draw the top left-most ballot position can triple their vote total as a result of their lucky draw.  Continue reading