The Brief: Philly’s Hotel Occupancy Rates Explode to a Modern High

It's another sign that the Convention Center's new strategy is a success.


The Pennsylvania Convention Center | Photo by Jeff Fusco

1. Philadelphia’s hotels were more booked last month than during any other June since 1993.

The gist: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Center City’s hotel occupancy rates “reached 89.4 percent in June, the highest June rate since 1993” and that hotels were “booked nearly to full capacity on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at 97.9 percent and 96.4 percent, respectively.” The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau attributes the hotel industry’s success partly to three big conventions that took place here last month.

Why it matters: The three noted conventions were held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, a place that Philadelphia reporter Tom Ferrick once called a “capital D-U-D” because it booked so few events. Last year, most of the labor unions working at the Convention Center signed onto new work rules, and the uptick in hotel occupancy rates is another sign that they’ve been effective and appealing to customers. The Inquirer also reported recently that 2014 was the Convention Center’s “strongest convention-booking year in over a decade.” The more success stories like this that pile up, the more unlikely it is that the city’s carpenters will ever be let back into the Convention Center. They lost their jobs after missing a deadline to agree to the new work rules.

2. Is Pennsylvania’s General Assembly as bad as Congress?

The gist: Two weeks after Pennsylvania missed its deadline to pass a new budget, an agreement between the GOP-controlled legislature and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf looks as unlikely as ever. NewsWorks reports that the General Assembly might take a cue from Congress and pass a stop-gap budget in lieu of a real one:

A top Republican lawmaker suggested Monday that Pennsylvania may need a short-term budget as a compromise on a full spending plan proves elusive. “The Senate Republicans (and) the House Republicans don’t want to see services for the most vulnerable in the commonwealth … held up,” said Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, as he emerged from a private meeting with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Why it matters: Whenever you’re considering doing something that Congress is notorious for doing, that’s not a good sign. But Wolf may not be much better. He told reporters Monday that he is “stunned” by “the continued intransigence” of House Speaker Mike Turzai, referring to the Republican’s opposition to a natural gas tax. Anyone who is surprised by Turzai’s refusal to compromise on his no-tax agenda is either naive or not paying attention.

3. Philly politicos may get special treatment at the Pope’s visit.

The gist: NewsWorks’ Dave Davies reports that U.S. Congressman and Philadelphia Democratic Party honcho Bob Brady said that he has been receiving calls from ward leaders about getting inside access to Pope Francis’ visit in September.

“A couple of our Catholic ward leaders have asked, and I said,’I don’t know yet,’ but I will talk to the mayor,” Brady said. “In fact, I’ve already talked to the mayor, and they’re not settled [on their plans] yet, they don’t have the logistics down yet.”

But Brady said he’s sure there will be plans for people with connections.

“They’re talking about gates and people are worried about gates,” he said. “They’re not talking about gates for crowd control. They’re talking about gates for VIP’s to get in and get out and get better seats.”

Why it matters: Because it’s a little icky. And we can’t imagine that Pope Francis, washer of the feet of inmates and people with disabilities, would approve.

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