Should the School District Declare Bankruptcy?

Not long ago, it was rare, almost unthinkable, for cities and school districts to declare bankruptcy. Even when they did it wasn’t a panacea. Sure debt was restructured, creditors were put at bay for a while. But towns didn’t get to wipe the ledger clean and start afresh just by declaring bankruptcy.

Then came Detroit. After the city declared bankruptcy in 2013, the court eliminated $7 billion Detroit’s debt in one fell swoop. The city was authorized to borrow a fresh $1.4 billion to invest in city services. Pensioners made out pretty well. And there are now credible reasons to think the city is recovering, at least a little.

Sure would be dreamy if the School District of Philadelphia could do the same, right? Whoosh, $1.45 billion in debt payments over the next five years wiped away just like that. There’d be an extra $276 million this year alone. As Larry Platt at the Philadelphia Citizen writes, that’s enough to “hire roughly 1,000 more teachers and provide each student with an iPad.” Read more »

The Brief: Mayor Nutter Says the Candidates “Need to Get It On”

The mayor has some advice for would-be successors. | City Council Flickr

The mayor has some advice for would-be successors. | City Council Flickr

Mayor Nutter made his final address at the Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon yesterday, taking the dais just as the Jim Kenney goodbye party was winding down in City Council. The chamber address is always a big speech, the mayor’s best chance to enlist the business community’s support for his agenda. Nutter, for instance, made selling PGW a feature of his past two chamber addresses (funny how it didn’t come up yesterday).

The speech served a somewhat different purpose this time. A lot of it was given over to legacy-fluffing and victory-lapping, as you’d expect from a mayor serving out his final year in office. But Nutter, who took the stage to the strains of “Run This Town” by Jay-Z and Rihanna, also (gently) threw down the gauntlet for his would-be successors. From his prepared remarks: Read more »

Do Millennials Actually Love Cities — or Are They Just Too Broke to Leave?

No bottle shop, no thanks. | Shutterstock.com

No bottle shop, no thanks. | Shutterstock.com

Millennials have been hailed ad nauseam as the saviors of urban America, and there’s no debating that they’ve helped rejuvenate Philadelphia. There are nearly 75,000 more 20-34 year-olds in the city in 2013 than there were in just 2007, a boom more than big enough to offset declines in other population groups. Read more »

The Brief: Jim Kenney’s Authenticity Cuts Two Ways

Kenney Testimony

Councilman Jim Kenney decides it’s a good time to tell the people of Philadelphia about his diet.

Jim Kenney seems sure to dominate the mayoral news again today. Ditto for Thursday, when he will no doubt make a memorable final speech from the floor of City Council before resigning from the job he’s held for 23 years. Expect tears. Expect rough eloquence. Expect an abundance of highly quotable moments.

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Is New Millennial PAC Just Trolling Council?

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo from City Councils Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo from City Councils Flickr page

Citified reported yesterday that The 5th Square, a new urbanist, progressive political action committee, has squatted on primo URLs for half of City Council.

Clicking on CurtisJonesJr.com, or BlondellReynoldsBrown.com, or six more URLs ripping off or riffing off the names of other council members redirects web browsers to the PAC’s slick homepage. Some of the city’s urbanist progressives tittered at the move. But not all.
Read more »

Philadelphia Commuters Are Slowly, Slowly Giving Up Their Cars

Screenshot of a new commuting map from FlowingData.com.

Screenshot of a new commuting map from FlowingData.com.

Americans love their cars. We all know that. About 86 percent of U.S. residents commute to work by car or truck, and most of them are driving alone. A new visualization at the always-interesting FlowingData.com really drives that home. There’s hardly a corner of the country where other commute modes–transit, walking, biking–beat out driving, by oneself, in a car. Read more »

The Brief: Who Will Win the Snow Primary?

Very mayoral.

Very mayoral.

Philadelphia’s primary election will be held on May 19. But today is the Snow Primary: a solid chance for the city’s mayoral candidates and mayoral-maybes to show a little mayoral mettle on the cold, mean streets, and to shoot some solid B-roll of the candidate shoveling sidewalks or comforting the disadvantaged. Read more »

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