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

Controller Rebecca Rhynhart Releases Long-Awaited Parking Authority Audit, Revealing Extent of Agency Staffing Bloat

One of the big applause lines during Controller Rebecca Rhynhart’s 2017 campaign was her pledge to audit the Philadelphia Parking Authority, on the theory that prior audits from Controller Alan Butkovitz had pulled punches by not conducting a true performance audit of how the organization operates.  Continue reading

Pennsylvania Leaders Should Do What It Takes to Gain Some More Congressional Seats

(House building in PA fell off in the mid-2000's and never recovered | Chart: Sid Kapur) Pennsylvania is expected to lose another Congressional seat due to population losses when the Census counts are released, reducing the political clout of the Commonwealth's delegation to Washington, and making it harder for PA residents to get a fair share back of what they pay in federal taxes. But while we can expect Pennsylvania leaders to grumble about this—and spend a lot of effort trying to make sure they personally don’t lose out from redistricting—we also don’t see them really trying to do much of anything to reverse the population declines either. Continue reading

Why Losing Straight-Ticket Voting Doesn't Explain PA Dems' Downballot Weakness

(Chart: Mike Johnson) Joe Biden won Pennsylvania, it’s safe to say, but his coattails were notably weak for down-ballot Democrats, and some people have theorized that the elimination of straight-party-ticket voting in Act 77 is an explanation for this. Continue reading

How Some Entrepreneurial Ward Organizations Are Learning How to Organize with Vote-By-Mail

Voter turnout in Philadelphia just barely exceeded 2016 levels in the 2020 general election, but a few wards saw noticeably higher turnout than some of their neighbors, and for that, some credit is due to the independent efforts of some individual Democratic ward organizations and committee people. Continue reading

Philly’s Own Joanna McClinton Elected PA House Democratic Leader

Philadelphia representative Joanna McClinton will make history as the new Democratic House leader after yesterday’s caucus leadership elections, after current leader Rep. Frank Dermody unexpectedly lost his general election race. Rep. McClinton will be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the General Assembly’s 244-year history and the highest-ranking Black woman at that. Continue reading

Supreme Court Again Declines to End PA’s Mail Ballot Deadline Extension, For Now

The Supreme Court ruled this week for a second time that Pennsylvania mail ballots received by Friday, November 6th—three days after Election Day—can be counted, affirming the Wolf administration’s position on the extended ballot deadline. Hopefully, this will lay to rest the last remaining lawsuit that was still in play heading into Election Day next Tuesday. Continue reading

Delayed Mail Counts: Stalling Tactic or Capacity Issue?

Several PA counties have now announced that they won’t begin counting mail ballots on Election Day, as they are allowed to under state law, and will instead start counting on Wednesday morning, on November 4th. Continue reading