Activists: Uber and Lyft Tax Should Fund Philly Schools, Not the PPA

Hannah Sassaman of the Media Mobilizing Project address the Parking Authority. Photo by Jared Brey.

Hannah Sassaman of the Media Mobilizing Project addresses the Parking Authority. | Photo by Jared Brey

Public school advocates packed the Philadelphia Parking Authority’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday to question a change in a state bill that would allow ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate in Philadelphia — and drive a guaranteed fee to the PPA with little or nothing left for the school district.

Philly Mag reported on Monday that the state bill was initially written so that the school district and PPA would share a 1 percent tax on ride-sharing revenues, with two-thirds going to the district and one-third to the PPA. But a version approved by a state House committee earlier in May changed those provisions so that the PPA would be guaranteed a $2 million yearly fee from each of the largest ride-sharing companies, while the schools would get a portion of what’s left over. According to current estimates of how much revenue the tax would generate, it’s unlikely that there would be much, if any, money left for the schools.

“There is no place in this world wherein a new revenue stream should go to the Parking Authority ahead of the school district,” Councilwoman Helen Gym told the board Tuesday morning. Read more »

City Officials Target Illegally Towed Cars

istockphoto.com | Slobo

istockphoto.com | Slobo

Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez has introduced legislation that could help prevent private companies from illegally towing cars.

It’s an issue she said is prevalent in her district, which includes parts of rapidly developing neighborhoods like Fishtown. She says her office hears often from people who have had their cars towed from legal parking spots.

According to CBS 3, the District Attorney’s office is reportedly investigating some private towing companies, but the office declined to comment to Philly Mag about the report.

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Op-Ed: Kenney Broke His Campaign Promises to Minorities and the Poor

L to R: Nelson Diaz and Jim Kenney | Photos by Jeff Fusco

L to R: Nelson Diaz and Jim Kenney | Photos by Jeff Fusco

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from guest writer Nelson Diaz. Diaz is a former Common Pleas judge and former general counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He ran for mayor in the Democratic primary in 2015.)

Last week, I celebrated the life of the person that brought me from Harlem to Philadelphia: Peter J. Liacouras. Peter, the former president of Temple University and dean of Temple Law School, proved pivotal in my life and I’ve carried his lessons with me. I am out of politics and will never run for anything again, but Peter taught me that you shouldn’t let people lie to you. Confront the lie and let the people know the truth.

Jim Kenney pledged during his campaign to be a new kind of leader who would bridge the racial and ethnic divides in our city and empower low-income and minority communities to succeed and thrive.

Yet the progressive and reformed Jim Kenney on the campaign trail has given way to the old-school politician while in office. (When I ran against him in the mayoral race, I warned that you might be getting the new or the old Kenney.) Mayor Kenney has broken his promise to bring our city together and instead pursued policies that would hurt our poorest communities and further entrench racial and economic inequality. Read more »

After Inviting Reporters to Outdated Jail, Kenney Kicks Them Out

Kenney House of Corrections

Jim Kenney and Brian Abernathy talk to the press outside the House of Correction in Northeast Philadelphia. | Photo by Jared Brey

There must have been a miscommunication, because Mayor Jim Kenney was clearly unhappy to see a small corps of reporters at the House of Correction in Northeast Philly when he arrived for a tour on Monday. So unhappy that he asked us to leave after about 20 minutes, despite the fact that his administration had previously invited the press to join him there.
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“Tax” on Uber and Lyft Would Actually Be a $4 Million Windfall to the PPA

uber-PPA-940x540First it looked like it was for the kids, and now it looks like it’s for the Parking Authority.

A bill in the state Senate that would allow alternative taxi services like Uber and Lyft to operate legally was initially written so that the tax revenue the services generated in Philly would be split between the Philadelphia Parking Authority and the Philadelphia School District, with two thirds of the money going to education. But the bill, which was approved by the state House Committee on Consumer Affairs earlier this month, has undergone an obscure but meaningful change. In the current version, PPA is guaranteed $4 million in revenue from Uber and Lyft before the schools can collect a dime. Read more »

We Want Answers: Harold Honickman, Soda-Tax Opponent

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

The soda lobby has spent at least $1.7 million fighting Mayor Kenney’s proposed soda tax, which might actually pass next month. Why the effort? Is the idea to keep the tax from spreading to other cities? To prevent a federal soda tax? I think there’s some merit to that. Look, there’s only one other city that has a soda tax: Berkeley, California, which is really a unique little area with very rich people. Read more »

Only a Fraction of Philly Neighborhoods Have Gentrified, Pew Says

university-city-dining-days

Cedar Park is one of the neighborhoods that has gentrified between 2000 and 2014, according to Pew.

Just 15 census tracts in Philadelphia experienced gentrification between 2000 and 2014, according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. That’s only 4 percent of the 372 total tracts in the city. Meanwhile, 10 times that amount saw a major decrease in median income.

But those figures probably don’t mean much to the former residents of the Graduate Hospital neighborhood in Southwest Center City. During that time period, more than 4,000 black residents left the neighborhood while the white population more than tripled, according to the report. (Full disclosure: I helped write a Pew report on Councilmanic prerogative last year on a freelance basis.) Read more »

Reynolds Brown: My Container Tax Is Less Regressive Than Kenney’s Soda Tax

L: Blondell Reynolds Brown (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council) R: Jim Kenney (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

L: Blondell Reynolds Brown (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council) R: Jim Kenney (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill on Thursday that would create a 15-cent tax on beverage containers, as an alternative to Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan to tax soda in order to expand pre-K and fund community schools.

While the administration opposes the measure and still wants the soda tax, some soda tax opponents on Council already seem to be warming to the idea of a container tax.

“I think it’s less regressive in that it doesn’t single out one particular industry,” said Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, one of three members of Council who has announced that they are against the soda tax. Read more »

The Incredible Political Insurgency of Chris Rabb

Photo via Mary B Photography

Chris Rabb | Photo via Mary B Photography

How did Chris Rabb do it?

In a city where political machines crush challengers like grapes, the 46-year-old adjunct professor defeated an establishment-backed incumbent in the April primary. Rabb’s opponent in the race for Pennsylvania’s 200th House District seat — state Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis — was endorsed by Gov. Tom Wolf, former Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Jim Kenney. Even more importantly, Cook-Artis is a member of the mighty Northwest Coalition, a group of African-American politicians that has racked up electoral win after electoral win in the last few years.

Philadelphia magazine talked with Rabb about how he overcame the odds, how other political insurgents can do the same, and what he’ll pursue in office if he wins the general election against Republican Latryse McDowell as expected. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read more »

Councilwoman Wants to Tax Containers Instead of Soda

L: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown ( ) R: Image via Alexander Kaiser, pooliestudios.com

L: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia City Council) R: Image via Alexander Kaiser, pooliestudios.com

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown will introduce a bill on Thursday levying a tax on beverage containers as an alternative to Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed soda tax, sources familiar with the plan told Philly Mag on Wednesday. Read more »

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