Study: Pa. Gets D+ for Pre-School Education

Earlier this week, Philly Mag told the story of cutthroat competition among Philly parents to get young children into top-notch preschools. A new report from a national foundation suggests one reason why that’s the case — Pennsylvania lags behind the national average in nearly every measure of access to pre-K education. And the gap between the haves and the have-nots is, unsurprisingly getting wider.

The Quality Counts 2015 report from Education Weekly measured the states on a variety of criteria. Pennsylvania lagged behind most U.S. states in most of them:

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DNC Decision on 2016 Convention Expected Soon

American Spirit | Shutterstock.com

American Spirit | Shutterstock.com

Democrats will soon decide where to hold their 2016 presidential nominating convention, the Associated Press reports. It’s a $65 million undertaking, and party leaders say the decision will come down to “finances, transportation, security and available hotel rooms.”

AP assesses Philly’s bid thusly:

PROS: A highly walkable and historic city, Philadelphia has been the home to a variety of large events and played host to the Republican National Convention in 2000. The Vatican chose Philadelphia as the site for the World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis will attend in September. Philadelphia has a booming millennial population, a demographic that Democrats want to capture in next year’s election. Clinton also has ties to Pennsylvania — her father was born in Scranton and she has longtime allies in the state such as former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, an ex-chairman of the DNC. Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in every presidential election since 1992 but Republicans hope for a breakthrough there.

CONS: Though the main political gathering would take place at the Wells Fargo Center sports arena, some smaller events would be held at a downtown convention center involved in a major dispute with the carpenters union. During the Republican convention in 2000, police were criticized for their heavy-handed dealings with protesters.

The New York Post, incidentally, is poor-mouthing Brooklyn’s chances, saying the city is too troubled under Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as a showcase for Democrats.  Plus, the paper adds, New York fund-raising for the convention has been abysmally slow.

Both NYC and Columbus have made videos backing their bids:

A final decision is expected in late January or early February.

Three Predictions for Tom Wolf’s First Year

Tom Wolf

Tom Wolf takes office as governor of Pennsylvania today, and here’s the worry: That today — with the swearing-in, the pomp, the circumstance, and the Yuengling-free celebrations — might be the last good day of his term.

That’s probably an overwrought concern, but not by much. We’ve already discussed the reasons our new governor isn’t going to get much of a honeymoon — he’s staring down a gigantic deficit, and to fix it he needs the help of an ever-more-conservative Pennsylvania Legislature that might not be all that inclined to help him get anything done. It’s like trying to patch your ship in shark-infested waters, with the assistance of the sharks.

So how’s it all going to shake out? Three predictions for Tom Wolf’s first year in office:

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Philly’s Unfunded Pension Liabilities: $5.3 Billion

shutterstock_money-pile-940x540

A stark reminder of the seriousness of the “pension crisis” you hear about so often: A new report says that Philadelphia is $5.3 billion behind on payments to the pension system that is supposed to pay for the retirements of its municipal employees.

The city is far from alone: An audit released Wednesday by State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says that 562 Pennsylvania cities are collectively $7.7 billion under water — up from $6.7 billion two years previously.
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Conservatives Launch Attack on Comcast

Is Comcast America’s “most-powerful and militant left-wing force?”

Pennsylvanians who watched Comcast’s David Cohen raise money for Gov. Tom Corbett might not think so, but Comcast’s ownership of MSNBC has put the company squarely in the sights of a group calling itself the “Conservative War Chest.”

And that group has just released an ad describing Comcast in the terms we used above — and it’s doing it as the FCC enters the stretch run of completing its review of the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger.

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Ramsey, Nutter Open Policing Panel

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair,  the President's Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair, the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is chairing meetings on the president’s task force on “21st century policing” this week — the task force created after police controversies in Ferguson and New York triggered nationwide protests —and Mayor Nutter was one of the first witnesses on Tuesday.

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Paul Steinke, Former Reading Terminal Manager, Will Announce City Council Bid

Paul Steinke (right) at Reading Terminal Market. Photo | Facebook

Paul Steinke (right) at Reading Terminal Market. Photo | Facebook

The Philadelphia City Council at-large race is starting to get crowded. Democrat Paul Steinke, who stepped down from his position as general manager of the Reading Terminal Market last month, will officially announce Tuesday that he’s running for an at-large seat in the May 19th primary.

His announcement is taking place at the Field House, a sports bar across from — where else? — Reading Terminal. More from the Steinke campaign’s announcement:

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