More Than 18,000 People Have Signed a Petition to Keep the Rizzo Statue

Frank Rizzo statue | Photo by Jared Brey

A petition to keep the city’s Frank Rizzo statue is gaining steam.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, more than 18,000 people had signed the petition, which was posted on change.org by South Philly resident Marc Ferguson. That’s about 15,000 more signatures than a petition calling for the statue’s removal has gathered.  Read more »

Councilwoman Gym: Rizzo Statue Must Come Down

rizzo

Frank Rizzo statue | Photo by Jared Brey

Our nation is more engaged than ever in debate surrounding the monuments we choose to honor.

The stunning violence in Charlottesville, Va. this past weekend was spurred (among other things) by white supremacists fighting to keep a statue of the Confederacy’s top general. Following the rally, officials in Tennessee and Florida announced plans to remove similar monuments. On Monday night in Durham, N.C., dozens of protesters toppled a Confederate statue, then pummeled and spit on the crumpled figure as it lay on the ground.

Philly’s no stranger to this discussion – for years, we’ve grappled with calls to remove our front-and-center statue of Frank Rizzo, the notorious former mayor and police commissioner whose legacy includes enacting brutish law enforcement polices that targeted people of color.  Read more »

South Philly Barbacoa Has Big Plans for 2017

SPB/Facebook

SPB/Facebook

The freedom fighters at South Philly Barbacoa and PAUWR, Cristina Martinez and Benjamin Miller, are organizing Philly restaurants for a May 1st general strike that will highlight the contributions of undocumented immigrants in the restaurant industry.

The restaurant will be closed on May 1st as part of the planned #ADayWithoutImmigrants strike. And several of the city’s top restaurants have joined them.

Read more »

Why SRC Haters Finally Have a Real Shot at Abolishing It

William Deadwyler, left, joins about a dozen students as they lock arms outside Philadelphia's school administration building Wednesday, April 17, 2002, forming a human chain and refusing to allow anyone inside. The Philadelphia School Reform Commission, set to announce which companies and nonprofit groups will be given control of some 75 schools in the district, decided to postpone the meeting for two hours and move it to another building several blocks away rather than make a forced entry. (AP Photo/Brad C. Bower)

In 2002, student activists locked arms outside of the building where the Philadelphia School Reform Commission was set to announce which companies and nonprofit groups would be given control of some 75 schools in the district. | Photo by Brad C. Bower/AP

The School Reform Commission is astonishingly unpopular in Philadelphia: Only 11 percent of residents think it should exist. Donald Trump has more support than that here!

And it’s been like this since the beginning: When the SRC was created in 2001 as a compromise between Mayor John Street and Republican leaders in Harrisburg, education activists were furious. The deal gave the governor the ability to appoint three members to the SRC, while the mayor only got two — and it led to the turnover of several local schools to a for-profit company. “In the first few months, their meetings were incredibly raucous. People would yell at the chairman,” says Paul Socolar, who was editor of the Public School Notebook at the time. “There was a view that it was a takeover being engineered to put the GOP’s buddies in charge of the school district.”

But for the last 15 years, the legions of SRC critics had no real chance of abolishing it — until now. Read more »

Trump Diehards Love the Wheely Wheely Good Food Truck

Alanna Li and Bailin Chen with their Wheely Wheely Good food truck.

Alanna Li and Bailin Chen with their Wheely Wheely Good food truck.

If you decide to go to the debate-watch party at the Republican City Committee headquarters on Cottman Avenue next week, you might see some familiar faces: the owners of the food truck deemed racist by Philadelphia City Councilwoman and second-generation Korean American Helen Gym. Read more »

Two School Reform Commission Members Resign

School District of Philadelphia

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Two members of Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission, the appointed body that serves in place of an elected school board, have announced that they will resign.

Marjorie Neff, a former principal at Masterman High School who was appointed to the SRC by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2014 and made chair of the commission by Gov. Tom Wolf last year, will resign effective November 3rd. Feather Houstoun, who was appointed by former governor Tom Corbett in 2011, will serve until October 14th. Their terms were set to expire in January. A third commissioner, Sylvia Simms, has a term that expires early next year as well. Read more »

Pew: Philly Gives Out $200 Million in Business Tax Breaks Every Year

In order to counteract what many see as an overly expensive and intricate business tax structure, Philadelphia has turned to tax credits and special incentives to a degree not seen in most other big cities in the United States, according to a report released by the Pew Charitable Trusts last week.

The city forgoes more than $200 million a year in tax revenue through 21 separate tax-credit programs for businesses, according to the report. The amount of revenue exempted by those programs is growing much faster than the tax base as a whole, Pew found. And while acknowledging that some of the tax incentives have helped businesses create jobs and construct buildings that might not otherwise have existed, Pew concluded — as have so many others who have studied these kinds of tax breaks — that it’s impossible to tell exactly how effective the programs are.  Read more »

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