Bill Would Create Municipal ID in Philly

quinones city hall

Maria Quiñonez-Sanchez

City Hall may soon issue its own “municipal ID” to Philadelphia residents, a new form of identification modeled on programs in New YorkSan Francisco and other big cities with large populations of undocumented immigrants.

Though immigrants aren’t mentioned in the press release Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez issued in support of the legislation — which she introduced at today’s Council meeting — she pointed to New York’s year-old IDNYC program as a model for the Philly effort. That program has been heavily promoted, and heavily covered, as aiding undocumented immigrants in that city, as well as homeless residents who otherwise find it difficult to obtain state-issued IDs.

Sanchez’s effort has the backing of Mayor Jim Kenney.

“There is no question that something must be done to help bring Philadelphians out of the shadows,” Kenney said in the press release. “Our entire city benefits when all of our residents can legally own an apartment, open a bank account, and otherwise participate in our economy and society fully.” Read more »

City Bill Would Crack Down on Nuisance Businesses

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

City Hall would gain new powers in cracking down on “nuisance” businesses under a new bill proposed by Councilwoman Cindy Bass — and neighborhood groups would be given a formal say in determining the future of businesses that run afoul of the law. Read more »

25 Signs From the Anti-UberX Protest That Shut Down Center City

Anti UberX Protest - February 11th

Photo | Mike Meech

About 100 cab and Uber Black drivers shut down traffic in Center City today with a protest against Lyft and UberX outside City Hall. The drivers, who last time circled City Hall for a few hours, parked their cars in the surrounding streets this time for about three hours.

The drivers demanded a meeting with Mayor Jim Kenney, and several signs chastised Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for not paying drivers enough. At one point, the drivers chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Justice!” (They eventually got the “Now!” part right.) Read more »

Philly Lawmakers Are Making Even More Money Than Before

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

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

Back in 2011, the Pew Philadelphia Research Initiative studied how Philadelphia’s City Council compared to other legislatures in 14 peer cities throughout the country. At the time, Philly’s lawmakers had the longest average tenure of all 15 cities and earned the fourth-highest salaries. They also looked an awful lot like Philadelphia, with a ratio of African-Americans that closely matched that of the city’s population as well as the second-highest percentage of women members (41 percent).

Since that report, an election has brought several fresh faces to Council. That, in turn, led Pew to revisit the 2011 study and do a little updating of its findings. Read more »

Will Supreme Court Break the Power of Philly’s Municipal Unions?

The U.S. Supreme Court |

The U.S. Supreme Court |

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday heard a case that could undermine the power of Philadephia’s powerful municipal unions.

The case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, doesn’t directly involve Philadelphia. But the issue it decides — whether civic unions that serve the School District of Philadelphia, City Hall and other public institutions can force non-members to pay union dues as a “fair share” of the benefits they receive from union activity — could have a big impact here.

“All of the unions in the city of Philadelphia, certainly the school district, and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, have negotiated fair share agreements. So if the court were to overrule that decision, it would have very serious consequences for all local unions, including the uniformed services,” attorney Elaine Williams told KYW. Read more »

11 Things You Might Not Know About: Philly’s Public Squares

They’re some of the most revered spaces in the city — the five open public squares William Penn laid out in the 1680s to keep the green in his “greene Countrie Towne.” Today we hoverboard inside them, crave homes adjacent to them, let our kids clamber over their statues and fountains. Here, some facts you might not know about Rittenhouse, Logan, Washington, Franklin and Penn squares, courtesy of James McClelland and Lynn Miller’s new book City in a Park. Read more »

Audit: Philly Firefighters Often Late to the Fire

fire department

Updated with comment from Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz’s farewell present to outgoing Mayor Michael Nutter? A reminder of the ugly early years of Nutter’s administration, when recession-driven belt-tightening forced unwanted — and unpopular — choices.

One of those choices? The “brownout” policy, implemented in 2010, that cut the Philadelphia Fire Department budget by shutting down three fire companies per shift per day, and rotating firefighters away from their usual stations to fill in at other locations. It was only in 2014 that the administration began to back away from the policyRead more »

Fed Prosecutor Will Be Kenney’s City Solicitor

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

A federal prosecutor with a history of involvement in city politics will be the City Solicitor under Mayor-elect Jim Kenney: Sozi Pedro Tulante will be announced for the position at a press conference later today in City Hall. Read more »

Audit: City Pension Fund Still Going Broke

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released his annual compliance audit of Philadelphia’s city pension fund today, and it has some grim news: The city’s funding ratio—the amount of cash it has on hand relative to what’s needed to pay all its pension obligations—is at its lowest level ever.

According to city figures, the pension fund has only 45.8 percent of the assets needed to meet its obligations. That’s way down from the 77.5 percent it had in July 2001, two years after the city floated a $1.29 billion general obligation bond and put its proceeds into the pension account.

A chart released along with the compliance audit shows that the 2014 funding ratio is even lower than the roughly 47 percent balance the fund had in 1993. Read more »

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