School Boards, Elections, and Philadelphia’s Utterly Failed Democracy

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Maybe democracy in Philadelphia isn’t working so well.

That’s not a novel observation, I realize, but it takes on new urgency with the growing campaign to dissolve the School Reform Commission. What would replace it? Maybe a mayoral-appointed panel — not too different from the SRC, but with more local accountability — but maybe, maybe an elected school board.

You know: One accountable directly to the voters and taxpayers of Philadelphia.

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NBC Butchered Philadelphia’s Geography for Sunday Night Football


The Eagles’ 27-0 demolition of the New York Giants Sunday night wasn’t just the Eagles’ first blowout victory of the season. It was a blowout victory on national television. Football fans across the country were forced to see the Eagles’ impressive win, even if they hate the Birds! (Right, as if NFL fans would have turned off a game of football. Eh, maybe when it got later into the game.)

NBC’s studio set for the game was appropriately Philadelphia-themed. The only problem: NBC completely butchered Philadelphia’s geography. Yes, the backdrop is supposed to be a stylized version of Philadelphia. It’s still hilarious. Let’s count the ways:

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PHOTOS: 5th Annual Philly LGBT History Month Celebration

History Month Header

A who’s who of gay Philly attended the fifth annual City of Philadelphia LGBT History Month Celebration and Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall this afternoon. Representatives from the Mazzoni Center, GALAEI, the Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League, Philly Black Pride, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, and more joined Mayor Michael Nutter, Gloria Casarez (Director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs), and Rue Landau (Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations), as the rainbow flag was hoisted above City Hall. We were there to capture some of the great faces that showed up to celebrate LGBT History Month right in the City of Brotherly love.

Firm Says PGW Sale Poses Concerns

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

KYW Newsradio reports that a new report is raising concerns about the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings, a private Connecticut company.

The report from Concentric, a consultant to City Council on the sale, hasn’t been made public, but council members have been briefed on the contents. And it raises two main questions, council member Maria Quinones Sanchez says:

Among them: the possibility that UIL would turn around and resell either PGW’s Liquid Natural Gas facility, or resell the entire utility.

“The concern is — what is to stop a company from coming in, figuring out it can’t make a profit, flipping it or splitting it, Quinones Sanchez says, “and creating a situation where the city would be dealing with two potentially different entities?”

Also questioned by the consultant, according to Quinones Sanchez, is one key premise of the sale — that private owners would run a tighter ship, thus keeping rates down.

“The ability for a private company to be more profitable or efficient is not as clear cut as folks would like us to believe,” she says

Quinones Sanchez, however, said the report contains neither an explicit thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the deal. That will be up to council — and the state’s Public Utility Commission, which also holds power of approval. The sale of PGW is expected to net nearly $2 billion, from which proceeds would be used to shore up the city pension system.

Panel Recommends L&I Be Split in Two

Photo by Bradley Maule from  June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

Photo by Bradley Maule from June 5, 2013 collapse at 22nd and Market.

The Inquirer reports this morning that a “blue-ribbon panel” is recommending that the Department of Licenses & Inspections be split into two agencies — one focused on construction, the other on the remaining licenses offered by the existing department.

The report comes a year after demolition on a neighboring building caused the deadly collapse of the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market streets.
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Law Firm Asks Court to Forgive Bob Brady’s $450,000 Debt

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

It seems a bit late to make a donation to Congressman Bob Brady‘s failed 2007 mayoral campaign — but not, perhaps, if you’re a well-heeled law firm.

The Legal Intelligencer reports today that the firm Cozen O’Connor is asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to let it forgive $450,000 owed by Brady from when the firm defended him from Tom Knox‘s challenge to his spot on the Democratic ballot that year. Stephen Cozen argued on behalf of his firm. (Earlier reports put the tab at $500,000.)
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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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