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 »

Who’s Afraid of Darrell Clarke?

Darrell Clarke

Darrell Clarke

City Council President Darrell Clarke—and by extension City Council as a whole—is showing in both words and deeds that Council intends to play a huge, perhaps dominant, role in city government now and in the future, no matter who is elected mayor. Read more »

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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The Brief: Doug Oliver Doubles Down on Being Vague

Last night, I interviewed long-shot mayoral candidate Doug Oliver at Venturef0rth as part of Citified’s new Candidate Conversations series.

Going into the Q&A, my big question was: Does Oliver deserve to be in the major leagues?

He’s never held elected office before. His exploratory committee had only $1,085 in the bank at the end of 2014. And yet, former Gov. Ed Rendell has called him “enthusiastic,” “refreshing” and “charming.”

During the interview, I found Oliver to be energetic and honest and passionate about the city. But he was also stunningly vague at times, and perhaps more surprisingly, unapologetic about his lack of specific proposals to fix the city’s problems. Toward the end of the Q&A, I told Oliver I thought the mayor’s race in general has suffered from a dearth of ideas. (You can watch the full exchange above.)

As a candidate who has pitched himself as someone with “fresh eyes,” I asked him what his big idea is for the city. He doubled down on being vague.

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The Brief: No Peace for the SRC

Green Williams Clarke

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved five out of 39 applications for new charter schools yesterday night at the tail end of a meeting that featured four arrests and lasted five hours. The decision appeared to please no one. One prominent national ed reformer called on SRC Chairman Bill Green to resign, for not approving enough charter applicants. Pretty much simultaneously, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten condemned the decision to approve any new charter schools. Gov. Wolf issued a statement saying his administration “continues to believe that the district’s financial situation cannot responsibly handle the approval of new charter schools.” We haven’t heard yet from Republicans in the General Assembly, but you can bet they would like to have seen more new charters than the five the SRC authorized. Read more »

Philadelphia Finally Gets a Veterans Parade

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Believe it or not, Philadelphia did not have an official Veterans Parade until now.

That’s right: The city where American democracy got its start did not have a citywide parade to honor its veterans. U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, philanthropist/Inquirer owner H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, City Council President Darrell Clarke, City Councilman David Oh and other city officials announced Wednesday morning that that will change this year.

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The Brief: Jim Kenney’s Council Record Comes Back to Haunt Him

Jim Kenney

Former City Councilman and mayoral candidate Jim Kenney.

Back in 2007, then-City Councilman Jim Kenney sponsored legislation that required Philadelphia’s pension fund to give bonus checks to retired workers if it surpassed its investment goals.

Today, the city’s pension system is less than 50 percent funded — but the checks are going out anyway, perhaps as early as April, the Inquirer reports. Kenney, now a mayoral candidate, defends the bill through a spokeswoman, who says, “It will take a multiple-solution approach to get to a place where [the pension fund] is stable. We should not do it on the backs of our seniors.”

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Alan Butkovitz Isn’t Running For Mayor (Again)

Photo: Curtis Blessing

Photo: Curtis Blessing

This will shock absolutely no one, but we feel the need to share it with you anyway: Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz tells us he has decided not to run for mayor.

This is, um, the second time in recent months he’s decided not to run in the Democratic primary on May 19th.

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