The Brief: Mayor Nutter Rapped With The Roots in an Epic Performance

Mayor Nutter performs "Rapper's Delight" with The Roots. | Screenshot via 6ABC

Screenshot via 6ABC

1. Mayor Michael Nutter performed “Rapper’s Delight” with The Roots at the Philly 4th of July Jam this weekend.

The gist: You remember when Mayor Nutter did it at his 2008 inaugural ball. And then at his 2012 inaugural gala, too. Well, he performed “Rapper’s Delight” again this weekend, and it was his best delivery yet. I mean, he was backed up by The Roots and he dropped the mic at the end of the rendition, for Christ’s sake. Check it out on 6ABC. Something tells us this is his favorite karaoke song, too. Read more »

Philly’s Tax Lien Sale Sucked*

Investment desperately needed. | Photo by Jukie Bot on Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Photo by Jukie Bot on Flickr, Creative Commons License.

Philadelphia’s first tax lien sale under Mayor Michael Nutter was a flop. But it was also kind of amazing.

I’ll explain, but first, a quick primer on this complex but important problem. Tax liens are legal claims the city slaps on properties when the owners of those properties fail to pay their taxes. Liens give the city the right to auction off tax-delinquent properties and use the profits to cover the taxes that are owed. Property tax delinquency is an epidemic in Philadelphia. About 100,000 properties are in arrears — which is one of the highest rates in the nation — and they owe a total of about $500 million in unpaid taxes and penalties to the city and cash-strapped School District of Philadelphia. As large as that $500 million figure is, the bigger problem with property tax delinquency is probably the blight generated by past-due parcels, which are often vacant and owned by speculators, not homeowners.

The city has struggled mightily to curb rampant tax delinquency. The lien sale was an experimental attempt at a new strategy: selling the liens to private investors, who would then have the same authority the city has to collect penalties and interest from delinquent property owners, and even to begin foreclosure proceedings on delinquent properties. Lien sales are, at root, an outsourcing of delinquency enforcement.

Over the last few days, the city tried to auction off 865 liens online. The sale ended Monday, and the results sucked. Philly sold only sold 28 percent of the liens for a total of $2.1 million, according to data from the city’s revenue department.

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The Brief: Why No One in Philly Smokes Anymore

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

1. Philly’s smoking rate has fallen to a record low.

The gist: CBS3 reports that “the percentage of adult Philadelphians who smoke has dropped from 27.3 percent in 2008 to 22.4 percent in 2014-15, according to data from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey.” Even more impressive: A drop took place among all ethnicities and socioeconomic groups in the city, and it happened after smoking rates went up in 2000 and 2008. Also, the recent smoking rate doesn’t factor in the full impact of Philly’s new cigarette tax, which has likely caused smoking to become even less common. Read more »

Is Bad Data Costing Philly Millions?

Philadelphia City Hall | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Philadelphia City Hall | Photo by Jeff Fusco

When governments collect bad data, it isn’t just a headache for bureaucrats and taxpayers. It can also cost states and cities millions of dollars. Take California, where workers in the Controller’s Office incorrectly recorded eight hours of leave as 80 and even 800 hours time and time again, adding up to $6 million worth of mistakes. Or Oregon, where an employee error led to a contractor receiving a check for $1,748,304.24, although it was supposed to get just $323.88.

California and Oregon aren’t alone. We may live in the age of Big Data, but a new report by Governing found that governments throughout the country still collect reams of shoddy data: Read more »

Nutter Heads Back to Vatican

AP-mayor-michael-nutter-pope-francis-940x540

Mayor Nutter meets Pope Francis during an earlier visit to the Vatican.

 

Mayor Nutter is leading a trip to the Vatican this week as officials on both sides continue their planning for Pope Francis‘s September visit to Philadelphia.
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How the Beverage Lobby Quietly Killed the Soda Tax in Philly, Again

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Much in the same way that the best lawyers kill lawsuits before they ever make it to trial, the best lobbyists kill legislation before it is ever introduced.

In Philadelphia, City Councilman Bobby Henon was seriously eyeing a tax on sugary beverages to help fund the financially crippled school district, according to several City Hall insiders. In fact, sources say Henon went to the trouble of drafting up legislation and putting together a plan to promote it. As a lawmaker who has launched anti-childhood obesity initiatives, it was a natural fit.

But when Council unveiled its education funding package last week, it included a hike in parking tax, a boost in real estate taxes, and an increase use-and-occupancy taxes … but no soda tax. Read more »

PHOTOS: AIDS Education Month Kicks Off With Opening Reception

This week, Philadelphia FIGHT kicked off its 21st annual AIDS Education Month (AEM) with an afternoon reception at the Independence Visitor Center. The event drew community leaders and local celebs, like CBS Philly’s Cherri Gregg, who was named an honorary chair of AEM 2015; Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack; and Mayor Nutter, who was there with the director of his Office of LGBT Affairs, Nellie Fitzpatrick.



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