The new City Hall gates. | Renderings and designs from Vitetta.
Given City Hall’s grandeur, one of the more annoying features of the building has been the sad-sack gates at the four portals to the interior courtyard. They’re made of chain link, like you’d see on the perimeter of a prison, only without the razor wire.
Well, those gates are in for a pretty breathtaking upgrade in the not-too-distant future. Working off a conceptual design proposed by John McArthur Jr., the original architect of City Hall, the architecture firm Vitetta has come up with a painstakingly detailed, historically reverent set of schematics for the new gates, which could be completed by the end of the year, according to Bridget Collins Greenwald, the city’s Public Property Commissioner.
This is interesting news for an obvious reason: the gorgeous new gates are one more step of what’s become a very, very long project to burnish the tarnished jewel that is City Hall. But it’s interesting for another reason as well: Vitetta happens to have mayoral candidate and former City Councilman Jim Kenney on retainer as a consultant, at the rate of $75,000 a year. Read more »
Lynne Abraham. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.
1. An Old Philly Mag Quote Comes Back to Haunt Lynne Abraham
The Gist: Al Dia went into the archives and unearthed a politically problematic quote from Lynne Abraham in a 1990 Philadelphia magazine article. Abraham, who was in a meeting with a defense attorney, said: “There’s only one group of people who have problems with blacks more than whites in this city, and that’s Puerto Ricans.” That led Frank Burgos to editorialize in the Daily News columnist that Abraham was “the Margaret Mead of local race relations,” and not in a flattering way. What makes this interesting is that Abraham didn’t retract her statement when contacted by Al Dia. She told the paper: Read more »
Inside City Council chambers. Photograph by Jeff Fusco
Half the audience is sweating before the debate even begins inside the packed, sweltering basement auditorium of Greenfield Elementary School. There are at least 400 people here, and while the crowd is perfectly civil, there’s still a bit of an edge to the mood. This is a high-stakes election; the proof of that is all around. There’s a documentary crew filming the candidates and audience, campaign volunteers are crawling all over the place, and an obligatory thickset white dude in an Eagles hoodie passes out unsourced fliers about the black candidate. All standard election-season fare in Philadelphia. Read more »
Ori Feibush says a campaign office was vandalized and a tire slashed on one of his company cars. | All photos from Feibush.
Second District Council candidate Ori Feibush isn’t a stranger to vandalism. Long before he was running for office, he found a dead dog on the steps of his house. In 2013, someone threw a brick through the window of one of his coffee shops. That incident was caught on video.
Now, as his campaign against Kenyatta Johnson approaches its final month, more Feibush-related vandalism is popping up in Point Breeze. On Thursday, Feibush posted photos to his Facebook page of some really amateurish red graffiti reading “don’t vote 4 Ori” sprayed onto a couple of walls. Two weeks prior, Feibush said, one of his campaign offices was vandalized and a tire slashed on one of his company cars. Read more »
1. How Some Charter Schools Keep Out the Riff-Raff
The Gist: This is an important, well-reported story from WHYY’s Kevin McCorry, that’s not easily condensed into a sentence or two. Be sure to check out it out. In summary, McCorry explores how some charter schools inflate their numbers—graduation rates, college placement, test scores and so on—by not replacing the large volume of kids who drop out. Read more »
Screenshot from PhillyWardLeaders.com.
The wonderful people at Code for Philly have created a fun new website about Philadelphia’s ward leaders. You may have thought, quite reasonably, that such a feat was impossible. Ward leaders are many things, but “fun” is not usually one of them.
But fun they are—when turned into virtual baseball cards that can be sorted and ranked on metrics such as voter turnout and the total number of vacancies in committee people ranks. Read more »
Anthony Williams | Photo by Jeff Fusco
After months of investigation, the Philadelphia Board of Ethics today released a carefully-worded settlement agreement with mayoral candidate Anthony Williams that requires his campaign to pay $8,000 in fines, forfeit to the city $17,250 in illegal campaign contributions and to freeze another $62,927 now in his campaign account.
Those are big numbers, but not unprecedented ones. Council members Curtis Jones Jr. and Blondell Reynolds Brown have paid larger fines for campaign finance violations, as have the Electricians Union, as did 2oo7 mayoral candidate Bob Brady.
But make no mistake. This is much more than a slap on the hand. And while the Williams campaign made a tactical decision to settle, it vehemently disagrees with the Board of Ethics on one of two central questions at issue. Read more »
Tony Williams. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.
State Senator Anthony Williams has represented West Philly in Harrisburg since he was 31 years old. He ran for governor in 2010, and has become probably the state’s leading Democratic advocate of school choice—the notion that governments should give parents the option to send their kids to an array of charter schools and private schools, not just the local neighborhood public school.
Williams is a potent candidate. He’s backed by Bob Brady and much of the city’s Democratic party apparatus. A deep-pocketed Super PAC—funded largely by a trio of wealthy suburban traders who back Williams’ school policies—is supporting his campaign with a huge TV ad blitz. And as the only high-profile African American candidate in the field, Williams has a built-in advantage over his chief rivals, Jim Kenney and Lynne Abraham.
A lot of smart people think Williams will be the city’s next mayor. Come see if he has what it takes on Wednesday, April 15, at 6 p.m. Read more »
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
1. Lynne Abraham collapsed to the floor 10 minutes into the first televised mayoral debate, and didn’t return until it was over. She seems to have recovered.
The gist: The newspapers and Twitter are full of leading questions about what Abraham’s collapse will mean for her campaign (and so is our coverage). The Daily News headline: “After the fall: Is this the end for Lynne Abraham?” The Inquirer’s Metro front is dominated by a screenshot of Abraham crumpled on the floor. The paper’s story quotes a bevy of political consultants (including some with sympathies with other candidates) on what it means for her campaign, and all but one suggests the episode is politically damaging int he extreme.
Why it matters: Read Citified’s full analysis here. Read more »
Lynne Abraham. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.
Less than 10 minutes into the first televised debate of the 2015 mayoral race, Lynne Abraham crumpled to the floor of the stage at the Kimmel Center. She was quickly helped to her feet by Nelson Diaz, who was standing to her left. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” she said. Then she added, heartbreakingly, “I’m sorry.”
Abraham left the stage, and at the advice of a doctor in the room, she didn’t return to the debate.
Whatever you think of Lynne Abraham, it was a distressing scene to watch. And it was, for Abraham’s electoral prospects, a potentially devastating moment. Read more »