Sunday, December 21, 2014

POSTED: Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 4:24 PM
Mayor Michael Nutter, left, visits at Famous 4th Street Deli on Election Day in Philadelphia on November 4, 2014. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

So, about that mayor’s race....

While the focus Tuesday was still on the final stretch of the Governor’s race, the political chatter included some discussion on the next big election: the 2015 mayor’s race.

The politicians and operatives who stopped by the Famous Fourth Street Deli — the traditional lunch spot for the city’s movers and shakers on Election Day — chimed in on the suspected mayoral candidates and the issues that could drive the race.

POSTED: Monday, November 3, 2014, 4:16 PM

After a five-year hiatus, the city’s leaf collectors will be back in action.

Starting next Monday, the Philadelphia Streets Department will resume weekly leaf curbside pick-up, a program that was stopped after the 2008 fall season due to budget cuts.

However, the reincarnation of the program will be slightly different. Bagged leafs will no longer be picked up, only piles of leaves.

POSTED: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 1:11 PM
FILE PHOTO: Councilwoman Marian Tasco. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

City Council, having already blocked the proposed deal to sell Philadelphia Gas Works, on Thursday offered its own resolution.

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco - who chairs the body that oversees PGW, the Philadelphia Gas Commission — introduced a resolution Thursday to hold hearings to  discuss the future of Philadelphia as an energy hub.The resolution was approved unanimously. 

The hearings will be a substitute for what the Nutter administration was really pushing for — a bill to hold hearings on the proposed sale of PGW. 

POSTED: Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 6:41 PM

Yet another task force is being proposed to deal with the city’s crumbling infrastructure.

City Council’s Committee on Licenses and Inspections moved forward Thursday with a bill that would create a Vacant Property Task Force comprised of various city agencies to catalog and inspect large vacant commercial properties.

The task force -- an idea that arose from the fatal fire of a vacant Kensington warehouse in 2012 that killed two firefighters -- would focus on the estimated 400 large vacant and commercial scattered throughout the city.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 11:31 AM
David B. Thornburgh (Photo from fels.upenn.edu)

Philadelphia government watchdog group Committee of Seventy has named its new leader.

David B. Thornburgh, executive director of the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, will be taking the helm in December, the committee announced Wednesday. Thornburgh is replacing Zack Stalberg who retired in July.

“David checked all of the boxes we were looking for in a CEO,” Stephen S. Tang, Seventy's search committee chair, said. “But above and beyond that, the Committee was struck by his interest and passion for civic engagement and better government as well as his experience improving the economic competitiveness and public sector performance of Philadelphia and the region.”

POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 1:03 PM

City Council approved Thursday to extend a job creation tax credit for businesses that hire and pay new employees at least $12 an hour.

The Living Wage Job Creation Tax Credit Bill, sponsored by Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. and unanimously approved by Council, extends a $5,000 tax break from one year to five years.

For every new full-time job created, in which the employee is paid at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage or $12 an hour (whichever is higher), businesses would receive a $5,000 credit each year for five years. The extension could provide businesses up to $25,000 tax break per employee during a five year period.

POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 8:42 AM

One more hurdle has been cleared in the lengthy process to get a land bank up and running in Philadelphia.
 
The Philadelphia Land Bank Board held a two-hour long public hearing Wednesday in which it received feedback on the strategic plan the board plans to submit to City Council for approval in November.
 
For the most part, the more than a dozen people who testified were supportive of the overall plan but had suggestions for tweaks and changes, such as accessibility for the handicap and a better defined plan to preserve affordable housing in the process.
 
The land bank was approved by through legislation in December and the interim board has been working on developing a strategic plan since then. The goal of the bank is to cut through City Hall red tape and create a comprehensive system for confronting blight by turning vacant and tax-delinquent parcels into tax-producing properties.
 
Some suggestions were specific to the city's role in managing the land bank.
 
"The land bank needs a plan for how it will maintain its own inventory, which will require more resources than are being allocated to that work now," Beth McConnell, of the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, said. (The land bank is starting with a $4.1 million budget.)
 
The land bank board and staff will be digesting Wednesday's testimony in the next few weeks and making revisions to the plan before presenting it to the board on Oct. 30 for a vote, John Carpenter, executive deputy director of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority who has been working to get the land bank up and running, said following Wednesday's hearing. Assuming the board approves the plan, it will be submitted to City Council for approval. Then the land bank would officially start working - transferring deeds from the various city agencies to the land bank for disposition.
 
How the properties are disposed of and to whom was of concern to some residents Wednesday.
 
"We are a community that's fighting gentrification," Tiffany Green, of Concerned Citizens of Point Breeze, said. "There needs to be an inclusionary policy here. You just can't have 10 properties go up for auction because developers are sitting back waiting."
 
Land Bank board member Jennifer Kates said after the meeting that it's a delicate balancing act. Some of the affordable housing advocates are calling for equity but the private market developers also want to make sure they have fair access to properties, she said.

The full strategic plan can be found HERE. The plan's executive summary, here

POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 8:15 AM
Current City Controller Alan Butkovitz. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

The city’s Department of Public Property City overpaid nearly $650,000 within a three-year span ending in 2013, Controller Alan Butkovitz found.

The controller’s audit on the public property department’s contracting practices, released Tuesday, showed that some changes to original contracts, including for labor and supervision costs, were higher than city standards.

Some examples cited in the audit include:

About this blog

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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