The Brief: Pay by Phone Parking Coming to Philly Really Soon

Plus, Mayor Nutter and Jim Kenney bury the hatchet (again) and City Council wrestles with prison politics.

1. Parking kiosk down again? No problem.

The gist: PlanPhilly reports that the Philadelphia Parking Authority has picked a company — Pango USA — to provide a pay by phone parking service. The cost to the consumer is one cent per transaction, PlanPhilly reports. The system could be ready to go within 60 days, but will be piloted between 4th and 20th Streets and Arch and Locust Streets first.

Why it matters: The Philadelphia Parking Authority — a largely political operation chock-full of patronage workers — is rarely on the cutting edge of innovation. And, well this is no different: pay by phone parking is pretty much commonplace these days. Maybe that means the kinks will be worked out? Pay by phone parking cuts a couple of different ways, actually. While it’s obviously a convenience for drivers, anything that makes it more convenient to park on the street might increase demand for street parking, at least on the margins, which is not ideal. There’s also the prospect of less revenue for the School District of Philadelphia, which gets a cut of the PPA’s revenue, if the parking app leads to less ticketing. On the other, other hand, over time, decreased revenue could put fiscal pressure on the PPA to cut down on its preposterously bloated patronage payroll through attrition. After all, fewer tickets means less cash to hire cousins of ward leaders.

2. Mayor Nutter and Jim Kenney make nice for the cameras.

The gist: Nutter and Kenney smiled, hugged and patted each other on the back in front of the City Hall press corps yesterday, Brian Hickey reports for Newsworks.

Why it matters: The post-primary blessing of the nominee by the outgoing mayor is an essential and predictable rite of election season, but in the case of Kenney and Nutter, it’s something of a psychodrama. The two men went to high school together at the Prep. They served long years on City Council together, rolling their eyes at their more dim-witted colleagues and texting back and forth like two kids passing notes in Latin class. They were good friends.

Then came the bitter falling out, after Nutter became mayor and Kenney grew frustrated with a couple thousand of Nutter’s decisions. Kenney has said some awfully nasty things about Nutter in recent years (though they’ve also patched things up more than once over that span as well).

So was this all a show? Yes and no. Friendship is all about shared experience, and if Kenney wins this November’s election — which he almost certainly will — the two men will have shared an experience even more grueling than running wind sprints for the Hawks football team: sitting in the big chair in Room 215. I’d wager they end up pretty tight in the end.

3. City Council delays $7 million purchase of waterfront land for new prison.

The gist: Responding to intense political pressure from schools advocates, neighbors and the city Planning Commission, a City Council committee delayed a bill that would have authorized the city to spend $7.2 million on land for a new prison facility to replace the overcrowded and outdated city House of Corrections. The 58-acre site, located next to the current facility (which was built in 1874), is along the Delaware River.

Why it matters: This is going to be a very politically challenging problem for Council and the next mayor. Criticism of the “school-to-prison pipeline” is fierce and growing, but even if the city reduces its prison population dramatically, there will likely be need for a new facility. The old one is falling to pieces. This is one of those situations where the city might just welcome an order from a court to build a new facility.

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