Insider: Allan Domb’s Truly Awful Idea

Photo by Jared Piper/Courtesy of City Council's Flickr

Councilman Allan Domb | Photo by Jared Piper/Courtesy of City Council’s Flickr

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.) 

Many Philadelphians cheered real estate developer Allan Domb’s election to City Council last year. Finally, they said, a real businessman who could bring innovative, market-savvy solutions to our city’s economic problems.

But those lofty hopes fell to earth with a dull thud when Domb introduced his first major piece of legislation: a bill to double the 10-year residential tax abatement to 20 years for houses worth $250,000 or less. It seems great on the surface, but it’s actuality a terrible idea.

Domb claims this expanded tax break on new home construction and major rehabs will encourage developers to build houses in struggling neighborhoods, and lead owners of blighted properties to fix them up.

It’s a laudable goal, one we all should support. But his proposal won’t actually further that goal, and will cost us precious tax dollars to boot. Domb’s plan will fail because it’s based on a misunderstanding about how the abatement works — a misunderstanding that’s shocking given his reputation as a real estate mogul. Read more »

Vote Like a Pro

Game theory in the voting booth. | Shutterstock.com

Game theory in the voting booth. | Shutterstock.com

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider.) 

So you’re a progressive reformer, and you want to see change on City Council. You’re active on social media, and you frequent news and commentary sites like this one. And you’re interested in the citywide Council at-large races, because they’re the real policy seats, the ones that should be filled by folks with big, bold ideas for our city’s future.

Then you look at all the at-large candidates, and you feel overwhelmed. A few names are familiar, but the rest… not so much. So you find out who the progressive groups are endorsing, ask your political-junkie friends, and if you live in a progressive ward, see who the ward endorsed. Eventually you decide on a full slate of five, because five good voices on Council would be better than just one or two. Right?

Wrong. It might seem reasonable and responsible to vote for the five best candidates, but it’s totally misguided. If you want your favorite challengers to stand any real chance of getting into Council, do something simpler:

Don’t vote for an at-large incumbent. Not a single one. No, not even that one you really like. Read more »