Some Answers to a Vexing Question: Why Don’t Millennials Vote for Mayor?

This is how millennials "feel" about voting in local elections. Pull yourselves together, guys. | Screenshot from Knight Foundation study.

This is how millennials “feel” about voting in local elections. Pull yourselves together, people. | Screenshot from Knight Foundation study.

Voter turnout in last month’s super high stakes mayoral primary election was abysmal. Just 27 percent of registered Philadelphia voters turned out. That’s the worst showing in a competitive mayoral primary in the city’s modern history.

We don’t yet know who voted and who did not, though that data should be available soon. But it seems clear at least that young adults did not vote in large numbers. That’s not a surprise. It’s the norm. But why? Why are young voters so indifferent, particularly when it comes to local elections?

The Knight Foundation took a stab at answering that vexing question in a new study that featured focus groups with “millennial drop-off voters,” or people age 20 to 34 who voted in the last national election, but didn’t cast a ballot when the top jobs in City Hall were on the line. They interviewed a total of 60 such voters spread over three cities, one of which was Philadelphia. A few themes emerged. Read more »

4.9 Million Philadelphia Parking Tickets Since 2012


4.9 million tickets, and counting.

The City of Philadelphia just released a massive and fascinating new data set that includes every single parking ticket issued in the city since 2012. And there are a lot: just about 4.9 million of ‘em. But the data goes way beyond a raw count. Each row includes the location of the ticket, the time of day, the penalty amount, the violation type — you get the idea.

With analysis, this data trove should shed some new meaningful new light on how motorists use the road, and how city agencies and the state-run Philadelphia Parking Authority regulate street parking. The release couldn’t come at a better time. Philadelphians have begun to question if it really makes sense to allocate so much street real estate to parked vehicles, in favor of other uses like wider sidewalks, bike lanes or small parks.

We’re going to dive into this in the weeks to come, but until we do, here are five quick takeaways from the city’s release, which already includes some very illuminating maps and top-level analysis.  Read more »

The Brief: Unapologetic Bill Hite Presses His Case for More Cash for Schools

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in the Pennsylvania Capitol meeting with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and state legislators seeking funds for Philadelphia Schools during state budget talks Sunday, June 29, 2014, in Harrisburg, Pa. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

William Hite, Superintendent of Philadelphia Schools, in Harrisburg last year. He’s got a whole new funding fight in 2015. AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

1. With City Council prepped to short the School District, Superintendent Bill Hite urges politicians not to let the district’s ongoing crisis become the new normal.

The gist: As Citified’s Holly Otterbein first reported, City Council is now considering an array of funding options for the schools that will fall short of the $105 million requested by Hite. Probably well short. Council members have telegraphed this for a while, particularly during last week’s district budget hearings, which were a spectacle. This week, City Council President Darrell Clarke said Hite’s request — which totals $300 million overall, including $200 million from the state — represents a “Cadillac version of what [Hite would] like to see moving forward.”

Hite is pushing back. He told the Inquirer’s editorial board: “I respect Council’s position as the authorizing authority for additional revenue. But I’m the superintendent, which means I have to tell you what it costs to educate children.” Read more »

As Harrisburg Readies for Budget Brawl, Philly Sends Its C-Team

The opening moves are now being made in what will likely be a fierce, months-long battle between newly-elected Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican leaders in the State Capitol.

The stakes are immense. Wolf’s audacious freshman year budget seeks nothing less than a fundamental restructuring of the state tax system and $1 billion in new education spending. It’s an agenda that — win or lose — will have enormous consequences for the state in general, and for Philadelphia in particular. Should Wolf’s vision, or a significant chunk of it, win out, Philadelphia will get a big, badly-needed cash infusion for city schools and a new tax structure that would make it far more competitive with the suburbs and big cities elsewhere.

It sure would help Wolf, and by extension, Philadelphia, if the city’s delegation in Harrisburg featured an array of powerful pols working in unison to help the new governor’s boundary-pushing budget get passed.

But that’s not the delegation Philadelphia has. Not by a long shot. Read more »

The Brief: Why Are Minorities Shunning Careers as Cops in Philly?

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

A Philadelphia Police Department promotion ceremony. | Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photo by Mitchell Leff.

1. Why does the Philadelphia Police Department have so few minority recruits?

The gist: Citified and other outlets have reported before on the race gap in the Philadelphia police department. Compared to the demographic makeup of the city itself, white cops are over-represented, and black, Latino and Asian cops are underrepresented. But why? Mensah Dean takes a stab at answering that question in a Daily News cover story today that focuses on the department’s recruiting practices. Dean zooms in on hiring requirements that include a polygraph test, a minimum of 60 hours of college credit and psychological exams. The report suggests those requirements — which were put into place by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey — are creating unnecessary hurdles, particularly for would-be minority recruits.

Why it matters: Ramsey co-chaired President Obama’s task force on 21st Century Policing, and one of its key recommendations was for police departments to diversify their workforces. The Daily News report suggests Ramsey could start at home. Read more »

City Council to School District: Go Away Already

Students have a modest request of City Council. | Photo  courtesy of Philadelphia City Council. Produced and Edited by Michael Falconi and Jenae Brown.

Students have a modest request of City Council. | Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council. Produced and Edited by Michael Falconi and Jenae Brown.

There are few City Hall scenes more dispiriting than the display of mutual contempt that unfolds each year when the School District of Philadelphia comes to City Council begging for money.

This year’s spite of spring featured: Read more »

The Brief: Anthony Williams a No-Show at Dem (Dis)Unity Breakfast

This is the last time we'll run this photo. Promise. | Photos by Jeff Fusco.

This is the last time we’ll run this photo. Promise. | Photos by Jeff Fusco.

1. Anthony Williams a no-show at Democratic post-election unity breakfast to rally behind mayoral nominee Jim Kenney.

The gist: State Senator Anthony Williams was a no-show at a let’s-all-hug breakfast organized by party boss Bob Brady on behalf of Jim Kenney yesterday morning, Chris Brennan reports for the Inquirer. The entire point of the breakfast — which Brady graciously also hosted in 2007, when he was defeated by Michael Nutter — is to set aside any lingering hard feelings from the election (publicly, anyway), and make a show of backing the party’s nominee. Most of the breakfast attendees were Democratic ward leaders. Williams, in addition to being the (distant) 2nd place finisher in last week’s mayoral election, is a ward leader.

So where was he? Williams told Brennan that “he did not know about the breakfast meeting, received no invitation, and had no plans ‘to crash the party.'” That seems … dubious. Kenney shrugged it off. He told Brennan: “People take some time off … I assume that’s what it is, and I wish him well with the time he’s taking off to recharge and get back in the game.” Read more »

The Brief: Pay by Phone Parking Coming to Philly Really Soon


1. Parking kiosk down again? No problem.

The gist: PlanPhilly reports that the Philadelphia Parking Authority has picked a company — Pango USA — to provide a pay by phone parking service. The cost to the consumer is one cent per transaction, PlanPhilly reports. The system could be ready to go within 60 days, but will be piloted between 4th and 20th Streets and Arch and Locust Streets first. Read more »

Exactly How Wasteful Was the Tony Williams Campaign?

Photos by Jeff Fusco

Photos by Jeff Fusco

The only metric that really matters in an election is the vote count. But it’s interesting to look at which candidates got the most value with their campaign spending. One blunt way to look at that is to see how many votes the candidates get per dollar spent.

Jim Kenney fared pretty well, as you would expect. His victory cost him about $12 per vote, and $30 per vote if you factor in his super PAC support, and you definitely should. Anthony Williams and his super PAC? A gobstopping $149 per vote won. Wow.

Who got the most bang for his limited buck? Doug Oliver. He spent a measly $4 for every vote he won. And for that we’ll give Oliver campaign manager Mustafa Rashed the very last official campaign insult of the mayoral primary: “If you want to know why our city is in the fiscal shape it is in, look no further to how people in office manage their money.”

Shots fired — for the last time. Read more »

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