Philly Council OKs Massive 3-D Billboards in Center City

An urban experiential display outside of Reading Terminal Market.

Philadelphia City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow large-size digital billboards in a part of Center City near the Reading Terminal Market and Convention Center.

Critics of the ads — known as “urban experiential displays” — said they would be unsightly and lower the value of nearby properties.

“We’re not talking kiosks,” said Kiki Bolender, chairwoman of the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia. “We’re talking about the house next door lit up like a billboard on I-95.”

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Council Candidates Line Up for a Share of Philadelphia 3.0 Dark Money

A screenshot from the newly-launched Philadelphia 3.0 website.

A screenshot from the newly-launched Philadelphia 3.0 website.

Here’s the thing about dark money in politics: a lot of candidates will tell you it’s a malevolent, undemocratic force—but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the money spent on them.

Case in point: 27 City Council candidates sought the endorsement of Philadelphia 3.0, the newly created dark money non-profit that seeks to “bring new voices into the city’s political conversation,” starting with City Council. There’s no word yet on which candidates Philadelphia 3.0 will select, or how much money they’ll spend on behalf of their chosen contenders. Read more »

Clarke Wants ShotSpotter Tech for Philly

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Council President Darrell Clarke wants to bring ShotSpotter technology to Philadelphia in an effort to reduce shootings and track shooters.

The technology has been used for more than a year in Camden, where it’s credited with helping police reduce overall violence, and it’s now being rolled out in parts of New York City. The technology uses a series of sensors to detect gunfire and triangulate its location in real time, helping police respond quickly to a shooting scene if need be. Read more »

The Brief: The Coffee Can That Can Kill a Politician’s Dreams

Tim Dowling with the Horn & Hardart can | Photo Credit: Holly Otterbein

Philadelphia elections official Tim Dowling with the fateful Horn & Hardart can. | Photo Credit: Holly Otterbein

That innocuous-looking coffee can right there — yeah, that one — can kill a candidate’s dreams.

It can also suddenly transform a lackluster candidate into a threat.

That’s because, here in Philadelphia, the order in which a city candidate’s name is listed on the voting ballot is determined by which bingo ball they draw out of a Horn & Hardart coffee can. That can have a big impact on elections because candidates at the top of the ballot tend to fare better than those at the bottom.

On Wednesday at 11 a.m., the fateful lottery for the May 19th primary ballot positions begins.

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Jannie Blackwell, Stephanie Singer’s Candidacies Challenged in Court

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell | Photo Credit: City Counicil's Flickr

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr

[Updated at 10:40 p.m.] Any candidate or voter who wanted to get a contender kicked off the May 19th primary ballot had to file a legal challenge by the end of Tuesday.

By the time the clock struck 5 p.m., the candidacies of City Commissioner Stephanie Singer, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and mayoral candidate Milton Street had been challenged.

Other than that, there were few fireworks or last-minute surprises. None of the other mayoral candidates face challenges, nor do any of the better-known City Council At-Large contenders.

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Council Committee OKs Rolling Back Rules for Tax-Exempt Groups

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell | Photo Credit: City Counicil's Flickr

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell | Photo Credit: City Counicil’s Flickr

A Philadelphia City Council committee OKed a bill Monday that would roll back new rules aimed at ensuring that local nonprofits are eligible for the property tax breaks they receive.

The legislation, which was introduced by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, would repeal a city law requiring nonprofits to verify annually that they are “purely public charities” and that they use their property for charitable purposes in order to retain a real estate tax exemption.

At a hearing on the legislation, critics said the new rules are onerous and violate the separation of church and state. The regulations went into effect for the first time this year.

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City Council Won’t Debate Property Tax Hike Until After the Election

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

The Philadelphia City Council must decide in the next few months whether to support Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to raise property taxes by more than 9 percent to fund the cash-strapped schools.

That’s not an easy choice for legislators to make during an election year.

Lucky for them, that debate won’t take place until after the May 19th primary, in which 15 of 16 Council members are up for reelection. That’s because Council has scheduled its hearing on education funding for May 26th.

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3 Reasons Mayor Nutter Shouldn’t Build That New Prison

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

At first glance, you can’t blame Mayor Michael Nutter for wanting to build a new prison. The House of Correction — which has an awesome name — is super old and doesn’t even have air conditioning. Both the inmates and the staffers deserve better conditions than the facility can provide.

Still: Nutter should hold off. Let the next mayor deal with it, if necessary, but not this year.

Why? Three reasons: Read more »

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