In Praise of Mayor Nutter

Michael Nutter

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Mayor Nutter did a good thing this week.

Really. His decision to come to an accommodation with Councilman Jim Kenney on pot decriminalization will have widespread benefits in Philadelphia. It will save thousands of otherwise-law-abiding young men and women from an arrest record in their future. It might save some dough at the police department. And it’s probably good for his legacy: In 10 years, almost nobody will remember that he fought Kenney to nearly the last possible moment; they’ll just remember that he was the Philadelphia mayor who signed the decriminalization bill.

He even tweaked the bill in a way that improves it: By adding a $100 fine for smoking pot in public, Nutter moved to ensure that pot use will be a closed-doors activity rather than one for the street corners.  Nobody has to worry about young men smoking weed out in front of a grandmother’s stoop anymore.

Good job, Mayor Nutter! You’re going to get kudos and you deserve them!

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City Picking Up the Pace on Tax Collection

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

For the first time since Mayor Nutter took office, the City of Philadelphia made significant, measurable progress over the past 18 months in its long-running fight against the property tax delinquency epidemic.

The total debt owed the city and School District of Philadelphia in unpaid property taxes fell over the past year, edging down $10 million between April 2013 and April 2014, according to a Philadelphia magazine and PlanPhilly analysis of city tax data. The total number of property tax deadbeats declined as well, dipping about 1,400 over the same period.

To be sure, the gains are modest given the massive scale of property tax delinquency in Philadelphia; nearly 96,000 delinquent parcels and $512 million owed, figures that dwarf those in all other big cities except Detroit.

But it’s notable nonetheless that the city managed to stop — for a time at least — the spread of tax delinquency (the epidemic has grown quickly in most years of the Nutter administration), and more notable still that the city is now reducing the total amount owed.

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OK, So Not Everybody Hates Dilworth Park

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On Monday, we ran an article citing some objections to City Hall’s new Dilworth Park, most notably from Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron and Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky. We titled that article “Everybody Hates Dilworth Park.” And what we’ve learned since is that the new park has plenty of boosters and defenders. Below, a selection of reader responses.

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Everybody Hates Dilworth Park [UPDATED]

dilworth-park-panorama-940

UPDATE 9/9/2014: OK, OK. So not everybody hates Dilworth Park.

ORIGINAL:

Well, the redesign of City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza debuted last week as the $55 million Dilworth Park, with all of the political blowhard speeches, self-back patting and pompous fanfare that you’d imagine with such an event in Philadelphia. But make no mistake about it: Everybody hates Dilworth Park. Read more »

Philly Becomes the Land of the Logos

This space for rent?

This space for rent? Or every space for rent?

When I first moved to Philadelphia six years ago, one of its chief faults (in my view) appeared to be this: It wasn’t New York.

After living and working and starting to raise a kid here, though, I’ve come to a different opinion. One of the best things about Philadelphia? It’s not New York.

There are a lot of things I mean by that, but for our purposes today I mean this: If you’re awake and outside in Manhattan, it’s quite likely that all of your senses are being assaulted by advertising and corporate branding: Neon this, billboard that, handbills over there, posters over here. It’s big, it’s loud, it’s never-ending and sometimes you just need a break.

Yes, there is plenty of advertising in Philadelphia, but — like the city itself — it’s not quite so crammed in on top of itself. There are empty spaces on the sides of buildings! There is, occasionally, room to breathe! This is, on the whole, a pretty good thing.

But maybe that’s starting to change a little bit.

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Garces to Operate Rosa Blanca Cafe at New Dilworth Park

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A rendering of the forthcoming Rosa Blanca cafe.

Philadelphia super-chef Jose Garces will operate a new Rosa Blanca Cafe on the north end of the renovated Dilworth Park when that spot — on the west side of City Hall — re-opens next month.

Garces was on hand for a press conference Tuesday morning describing the renovations. He said the cafe will offer “Cuban-inspired” cuisine and be open in time for the breakfast crowd.

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