On January 4th, Mayor Michael Nutter’s eight-year run as Philadelphia’s 98th mayor will end. He’ll be replaced by Jim Kenney, an old friend and schoolmate of Nutter’s who in more recent years developed into an on-again, off-again antagonist. Nutter has no shortage of those. The political class has been eagerly awaiting his departure for years. And while he’s more popular with voters than are many mayors, Philadelphia never fell for Nutter the way it did for Ed Rendell. Yet Nutter leaves Philadelphia safer, more populous, better educated—at the collegiate level, anyway—more ethical and more financially stable than he found it. That’s in spite of a Great Recession that knocked his administration to the ground his very first year in office. Read more »
There’s no business better at hype than politics; except, of course, the tech industry. So it was probably inevitable that Crowdpac — a Silicon Valley-based political startup — would get a lot of buzz, both nationally and in Philadelphia, where the company chose to launch its local elections service.
Crowdpac’s aim? To upend the established political order. The for-profit company aims to do that by 1) making it easier for unconventional candidates to get into races, and 2) by giving voters the tools they need to make better decisions.
The problem is there are a lot of companies — including media outlets — that operate in that second space. And while Crowpac is using data in some interesting ways, nothing the site is doing locally to date has been particularly revolutionary or revelatory. Read more »
The Center for Public Integrity — which is a non-profit, non-partisan news outlet focused on, you guessed it, public integrity — has ranked all 50 states on transparency and accountability.
Pennsylvania got an “F.” That’s a big slide from 2012, when it received a “C-” in similar survey. This time, Pennsylvania was ranked 44th overall, so it could be worse. A little bit, anyway.
The center looked at 13 categories including “political financing,” “public access to information,” and “judicial accountability.” That last metric didn’t help the state’s grade any. Read more »
ThinkFest is streaming live all day. Watch ThinkFest here.
Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Inga Saffron has written about the city’s changing skyline for 16 years. Today, she says, “you cannot write about the changing city of Philadelphia, without writing about gentrification.”
Saffron Friday moderated a ThinkFest panel centered on a question that is being asked with greater and greater urgency as Philadelphia’s redevelopment accelerates: “Can Philly have urbanism and equity?”
Joining Saffron were Jay McCalla, a former city official and Citified columnist; Beth McConnell, policy director of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations; and Calvin Gladney, managing partner at Mosaic Urban Partners.
They disagreed on plenty, but there seemed to be consensus that it was still possible for Philadelphia to have urbanist amenities and equitable neighborhoods.
Near the end of the discussion, McConnell said: “the train has not left the station yet in Philadelphia.” She cited the gentrification battleground of Point Breeze, and said there was still enough vacant property and tax delinquent parcels in the neighborhood to build a solid supply of affordable housing. The city has a chance, she said, to “create mixed income neighborhoods of opportunity — and I really hope the next mayor makes that a priority.”
ThinkFest is streaming live all day. Watch ThinkFest here.
Within the very liberal city of Philadelphia, there’s the still more-liberal world of the non-profit sector; within that sector, there’s the tiny subgroup of do-gooders who who dedicate their professional lives to fighting poverty and homelessness.
This is the world Farah Jimenez has worked in for much of her life. She’s not like the others.
“Not once have I ever been accused of having a bleeding heart,” Jimenez said Friday morning at ThinkFest, in a speech that amounted to a broad critique of how society generally — and the non-profit world in particular — approach poverty and homelessness.
Jimenez is a School Reform Commissioner, and the former president of People’s Emergency Center (a non-profit social service agency for homeless families). She’s also a prominent conservative who thinks bleeding hearts and compassion have gotten in the way of effective decision-making.
“Since the pronouncement of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, we’ve spent an estimated $22 trillion on anti-poverty initiatives,” said Jimenez. “Did it make a difference? Every year, just in this five-county region, the social — or nonprofit — sector, comprised of 15,000 agencies, generates more than $35 billion in revenue and employs nearly 250,000 people. Those are big numbers, big investments, but is it making a difference?”
Jimenez didn’t answer her own question. Her goal at ThinkFest, she said, was more limited: “to challenge the orthodoxy that at times keeps us from examining our collective work and insisting on an answer to: Is it making a difference?”
Other highlights: Read more »
We all know voter turnout in Philadelphia has been bad — like historically bad.
The 27 percent of voters who turned out in a competitive primary election this spring was the lowest total in the city’s modern history for an election of that kind.
Prognosticators assumed turnout would be worse — perhaps much worse — in Tuesday’s election, given that the marquee mayoral race was a non-contest, with Democrat Jim Kenney facing overmatched GOP nominee Melissa Murray Bailey in a city where registered Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats 7-1.
And turnout was bad. It looks like 25.5 percent of registered Philadelphia voters cast ballots. But it could have been worse, and many were expecting that it would be.
Four years ago, when Mayor Nutter was re-elected, just 20 percent of registered voters showed up. Nearly 50,000 more voters turned out Tuesday then did in the city’s 2007 general election. Read more »
Tuesday’s election was a weird mix of pre-ordained results, huge upsets and one photo-finish.
It was, in the main, a very good night for Democrats. And Philadelphia being a Democratic town, the list of winners in this election is a lot longer than the losers.
1. Big city liberals
Pennsylvanians put two Allegheny County residents and one Philadelphian on the state’s highest court yesterday. Jim Kenney, a rowhouse champion with big labor backing, swept to an easy victory. Cities turned up big yesterday in Pennsylvania.
2. John Dougherty
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Johnny Doc had a really good election day. His brother, Kevin M. Dougherty, won a seat on the state Supreme Court. Kevin Dougherty was the top vote-winning Supreme Court candidate statewide. His victory speaks well of him, of course: Kevin Dougherty is a well regarded Common Pleas Court judge. But it also says plenty about Johnny Doc’s statewide juice. This was the most expensive state Supreme Court race in U.S. history, and Doc just crushed it. Read more »
(Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.)
Jim Kenney — the firefighter’s son, former Vince Fumo-protege and the surprising champion of an emerging progressive political coalition — was elected Philadelphia’s 99th mayor today.
In Kenney, the city has chosen a passionate, intelligent and empathic man who oozes affection for Philadelphia and its people. At his best, Kenney fuses the innovation and restlessness of new Philadelphia with the strength, resilience and character of old Philadelphia.
But Philadelphians are also getting a mayor who was never really tested in his audition for the grueling job ahead. His primary opponents were a feckless bunch, and all Kenney had to do to win was avoid big mistakes. Kenney has yet to articulate a clear vision for his administration — he didn’t have to to win.
Kenney’s latest contest with Melissa Murray Bailey shed even less light on Kenney’s plans. Bailey was a virtual unknown, and Democrats outnumber Republicans in Philadelphia by about 7-1. The predictable result was a Kenney romp. Bailey claimed just over 13 percent of the vote, with nearly 98 percent of precincts reporting. That’s a paltry total even by the standards of Philadelphia GOP mayoral nominees not-named-Sam-Katz.
It’s official. Dwight Evans, the reborn political king of Northwest Philly, will face off against Chaka Fattah, the trailblazing 20-year Congressman who is now serving under the dark cloud of a federal indictment.
This should be a hell of a contest. It’s a matchup of two titans. Both are bruised and battered, both remain far more powerful than their detractors would like, and both — despite the advanced stage of their respective careers — once more have a lot to prove. Read more »