City Hall on Bedbug Scare: “We’re Talking About One Bedbug”

The 311 call center at City Hall was shut down earlier today after a dead bedbug was found.

An exterminator was called in around 11 a.m. When presented with a cup with a bug corpse in it, the exterminator confirmed it was indeed a bedbug. The office then stopped taking calls and the staff of about 50 was sent home.

“It’s not like they were crawling out the walls and ceilings,” said Mark McDonald, spokesperson for Mayor Michael Nutter. “We’re talking about one bedbug.” Read more »

City Hall to Transform Into Giant Interactive Art Installation


You may walk by City Hall and Dilworth Park every day, but you have surely never seen it like this: A visual art studio is transforming the west facade of the iconic building into a huge light installation.

Klip Collective is creating the giant light-up show during opening night of the eight-day 2015 Red Bull Art of Can exhibition at Dilworth Park. Read more »

Job-Seekers Already Hounding Kenney


They say that to the victor goes the spoils. Jim Kenney hasn’t technically won anything yet, but the Democratic nominee for mayor is already hearing from lot of folks spoilin’ to get a government job.

For now, he’s still ostensibly preoccupied with winning the November general election against Republican opponent Melissa Murray Bailey.

“I’m not obviously not elected yet, that’s really presumptuous to be talking about positions, but you’re almost forced to because the press asks you questions,” Kenney told NewsWorks. “But I’m not prepared to announce anything at this point.” Read more »

Finally, Someone Explained Councilmanic Prerogative

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

WTF is Councilmanic prerogative?

That’s a question that has been asked by countless journalists, developers, political junkies and people trying to buy city-owned property in Philadelphia for decades. Put simply, it is a potent combination of city law and tradition that gives Council members an astonishing amount of power over land use in their geographical districts. It not only bestows lawmakers with the power to decide whether a large portion of city land should be sold or not, but also whether some bike lanes should be installed and if certain types of businesses should be banned in specific parts of the city.

In fact, it gives those lawmakers the power to shape development in their districts — and who gets to do the developing. Not everyone is always happy with the results: Developer Ori Feibush sued Councilman Kenyatta Johnson in 2014 over his use of Councilmanic prerogative, saying the lawmaker obstructed his plans to purchase two city lots as political retribution. Johnson strongly denied the charge.

The more you learn about Councilmanic prerogative, the more you realize how much you don’t know about Councilmanic prerogative. It’s that pervasive and opaque.

That’s why it’s a big deal that someone finally wrote a definitive guide to Councilmanic prerogative in plain English: On Thursday, the Pew Charitable Trusts released the report, “Philadelphia’s Councilmanic Prerogative: How it works and why it matters.” (Full disclosure: Citified editor Patrick Kerkstra authored the paper along with others. He had no part in writing or editing this story.) Read more »

WATCH: Lightning Strikes Billy Penn

This is making its way around the social media rounds today, and for good reason: Lightning appears to have struck Billy Penn during Tuesday’s storm.

I caught Billy Penn snoozing before he got zapped. Check it out!

A video posted by Jennifer Finley (@time_hump_chronicles) on

We checked with Mayor Nutter’s office to see if Billy Penn was damaged by the strike. They didn’t have immediate information, but said they’d get back to us.

[Update]: Jen Crandall from the mayor’s office called back. Billy Penn, she said, has a lightning rod in him — so lightning strikes aren’t that unusual, though pictures of it happening are less so. “He’s fine,” she said.

How to Fix the Mayor’s Race

The party’s over, almost before it’s begun.

The worst thing about the Philly mayor’s race? It’s over.

Some of my journalistic colleagues who attended forum after forum and reviewed commercial after commercial no doubt feel differently. And certainly, the primary election process seemed to produce a well-qualified and forward-thinking potential mayor in the form of Jim Kenney.

But it’s June. The campaign has been over for weeks already, but a half-year remains before Kenney takes office, assuming no independent candidate emerges before November’s otherwise foregone conclusion of a general election. Which is more than enough time for him to lose any honeymoon momentum from the election he might otherwise have had — putting him (and the agenda that voters thought they were supporting) at a disadvantage when he takes office.

That’s not good for Kenney. That’s not good for the people who voted for him. And that makes it arguably bad for the city as a whole.  Read more »

Ed Bacon’s First, Last Names Misspelled on Street Sign

Edmond Beacon Way (It Should be Edmund Bacon Way)

In May of 1998, City Council passed a resolution honoring a stretch of Dock Street with a secondary name: Edmund Bacon Way. It was named for the city’s former planning commission director — the man famous for Penn Center, Market East, Society Hill and other areas during his 21-year tenure.

“I’m so used to being in this room over there; where that desk is where I came during the 21 years I was director,” Bacon said at City Council while accepting the honor. “I beseeched you — as a very humble servant — to, number one, give me money for the planning commission and, number two, to let me do what I wanted.”

In seventeen years since naming the stretch of Dock Street between Columbus Boulevard and S. 2nd Street after Edmund Bacon, the city has apparently changed it: While running by this morning, I noticed the street sign now reads “Edmond Beacon Way.” Yes, both his first and last names are spelled incorrectly.

The Streets Department didn’t return a request for comment. (Anyway, what would they say?) There’s no sign in the latest Google StreetView from June 2014, so the sign has been installed some time in the last year.

Read more »

Philadelphia Sick Leave Law Starts Wednesday

city hall sick leave

Believe it or not, Philadelphia’s sick leave law goes into effect Wednesday.

Why would that be so hard to believe? Consider: Mayor Nutter vetoed sick leave legislation twice in recent years before undergoing a conversion on the issue. And opposition to such worker-friendly requirements is so intense that Republicans tried to block Philly’s bill in the Pennsylvania Legislature. (They’ve only passed the Senate with their bill; even if they get the House, they’d have to do so in sufficient numbers to override a likely veto from Gov. Tom Wolf.)

Now, according to some estimates, 200,000 Philadelphia workers stand to benefit. Read more »

Let’s Not Tax Airbnb for Pope’s Visit

pope city hall

Councilman Bill Greenlee has an idea: He wants to tax Philadelphians who rent out their rooms for the pope’s visit.

I have a different idea: How about we don’t?

Maybe I’d think differently if the 8.5 pecent tax on room rentals would go to city schools, a one-time windfall they surely wouldn’t refuse. But as the Inquirer notes: “Hotel tax revenue is split between the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Philadelphia, and the Convention Center.” Those are worthy organizations: They bring visitors and their money to town — and as the old trope goes, it takes money to make money, etc. etc.  Read more »

City Hall Wants to Delay Parking App


The Philadelphia Parking Authority wants to offer a new smartphone app that would nearly automate the process of paying for on-street parking, but it has run into opposition from the Nutter Administration. Turns out the city that gave the world Parking Wars depends on some friction in the process.

Otherwise, officials say, it’ll be hard to raise money for Philadelphia public schools. KYW reports: Read more »

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