Why Philly's Housing Affordability Problem is Really an Income Problem

(Chart: Pew) Philadelphia’s housing affordability challenges are substantially different from those in places like New York City and the Bay Area, according to some clarifying new research from Pew showing Philadelphia’s issues stem much more from the high poverty rate and percentage of people with very low incomes, as opposed to runaway housing price inflation. Continue reading

State Lawmakers to Take Up Election Law Changes Next Week as Window for Action Closes

(Image: Timothy Rezendes via Creative Commons) Next Tuesday, the State Government Committee of the Pennsylvania Senate will once again take up the election bill that Republicans tried to rush through unexpectedly last week. The last-minute committee meeting violated notice requirements, so the passage of the Republican election bill was voided and they had to reschedule the vote.  Continue reading

The Downsides of Postponing Assessments for Yet Another Year

(Another missed opportunity to address known inequities | Image: Office of the Controller) The Kenney administration announced this week that they will be postponing real estate reassessments for an additional year, after also postponing last year’s reassessments, citing the impending CAMA system rollout and COVID-related complications as compelling reasons to delay marking assessed values to market. Continue reading

Trust the Penn's Landing Redevelopment Selection Process

(Penn's Landing | Image: Jacob Adelman) The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, the non-profit steward of Delaware River waterfront development and public space, is choosing a developer for the Penn’s Landing site next month, and this week we were treated to a series of juicy leaks about the three proposals, including one from the Sixers’ owners for a new arena and mixed-use residential and entertainment district. Continue reading

Pass a Clean Bill for Mail Ballot “Pre-Canvassing”

(A mail ballot dropbox at City Hall used for the primary | Photo: City Commissioners) State-level negotiations over a last-minute package of election law changes are heading in an unhelpful direction, with House Republicans attempting to extract unrelated policy concessions in order to pass critical mail-ballot “pre-screening” changes that both Republicans and Democrats agree must happen to avoid a prolonged count after Election Day. Continue reading

Wolf and Republican Plans Agree on ‘Pre-Canvassing’ Ballots, But Other Battle Lines Emerge

Pennsylvania’s elected officials have a very short window in the next couple weeks to come to some type of agreement on legislative changes to Act 77 in order for any new election laws to be implementable in time for the November election. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Lawmakers are Sleepwalking Toward Million-Dollar Liquor Licenses

Pennsylvania state law prevents the Liquor Control Board from just printing however many liquor licenses restaurant owners want to buy, and as a result, the state has too few licenses available and the prices are getting out of control.  Continue reading

City Commissioners to Debut 17 In-Person Early Voting Locations

Many people know Act 77 established a new vote-by-mail system for Pennsylvania, but there are a couple of unsung features of the law that there’s less public awareness of because they haven’t debuted yet due to the pandemic. The big one is the in-person early-voting satellite locations where people will be able to request, complete, and turn back in their absentee ballots in a single trip. This is still officially absentee voting, since the ballots are scanned later on, but there’s no mail involved. Continue reading

Pat Toomey is Trolling Us All on State and Local Aid

States and cities across the country have seen their tax revenue plunge as a result of the pandemic-related shutdowns and constrained activities, and the coming wave of spending cuts and lay-offs is expected to create significant headwinds for the economic recovery.  Continue reading

Political Corruption and "I Know a Guy" Governance

Philadelphia is famously a small town masquerading as a big city, and in the world of government and politics, this has both some large benefits and some large drawbacks. One of the benefits is that a superabundance of social capital means networks of personal relationships can sometimes make up for systems-level failures in governance and service delivery. And one of the drawbacks, on the flipside of the same coin, is that the ability to muddle through on the strength of personal relationships saps too much political energy away from coming up with systems-level solutions to the systems-level failures. Continue reading