The Weekly Brief: How 83 Aliens Are Voting in Philly
1. There Are Dozens of Adarians Registered to Vote in Philly
The gist: Ever heard of Adarians? Oh, you haven’t? Weird. They’re a “species of bipedal humanoids from the planet Adari in the Inner Rim of the galaxy,” according to Wookieepedia, a/k/a/ the Star Wars wiki. They made an appearance in the comic-book adaptation of the Stars Wars novel “The Last Command.” They look nothing like the green guy in that photo above (apologies, Star Wars fans). And, according to an article in the Philadelphia Daily News, there are 83 of them registered to vote in Philly, and 206 signed up throughout the rest of Pennsylvania.
What it means: The Adarians that the Daily News spoke with said they didn’t know why they were registered with the extraterrestrial party. The newspaper wrote, “The mistakes are likely the result of alphabetical happenstance and human error, either on the voter’s part or on that of the PennDOT photo technicians who processed the applications.” Likely story.
2. Philly Government’s Diversity Problem Is Finally Getting Some Attention
The gist: Earlier this week, Philly.com’s Tom Ferrick wrote a series of stories highlighting the diversity problem in city government. He found that the municipal workforce is only 5 percent Latino and 2 percent, whereas Philadelphia’s population is 13 percent Latino and 7 percent Asian; plus, women and minorities are underrepresented in the city’s top highest-paying jobs. His articles coincided with the publication of a new report by the American Federation of Teachers, which found that minorities are underrepresented in Philly’s teaching positions.
Why it matters: The city government is one of Philadelphia’s largest employers, so it ought to reflect the local population. City Council has been shining a light on the lack of diversity within local government for years, but the renewed attention by outsiders this week seems to have tipped the scales. On Thursday, Council members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Maria Quiñones-Sanchez introduced a resolution calling for hearings on a potential solution to the gap.
3. Charter Schools’ Risky Bond Deals Are Being Questioned
The gist: Philly.com’s Ryan Briggs and Alex Wigglesworth wrote an excellent story this week about the high-stakes bond deals used by city charter schools to buy and upgrade properties. There is “a risky, expensive, and fast-growing financial scheme underpinning the rapid expansion of Philadelphia charters,” they wrote, “a market now worth nearly $500 million. But the bond financing behind the mountain of money gets little scrutiny on whether the debt is a smart use of Pennsylvania’s limited educational dollars.” After the piece was published, John Hanger, Gov. Tom Wolf’s secretary of policy and planning, told Philly.com that some of the spending was “stunningly bad” and “not defensible.”
Why it matters: Citified’s Patrick Kerkstra explains what this story says about the charter school movement (spoiler: it’s not good).