Saturday, January 29, 2005

Saidel for Mayor?

Comporting with City Charter requirements, Jonathan Saidel has coyly declined to run for a fifth term as Controller (see story). He's indicated that he's inclined to take a shot at the Mayor's office. Would he do a good job? Possibly. Would he attract solid talent to help him run the City? Probably. Does he deserve your support? Not clear. As the City's elected watchdog, he hasn't been very proactive during one of City government's most fiscally and ethically challenging periods. That is, his bark has been worse than his bite.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Southwest Effect

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics' Air Travel Price Index, Philadelphia International Airport experienced the greatest decline in airline ticket prices in the second and third quarters of 2004. This is great news for consumers and the local economy. Much of the decline is attributable to Southwest Airlines and their inexpensive prices.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New Managing Director Named

Pedro Ramos - the current City Solicitor - will become the new Managing Director after Phil Goldsmith leaves sometime this Spring (see story). Phil Goldsmith has performed wonderfully in this capacity for the past several years and leaves big shoes to fill. By all accounts, Pedro is up for the challenge; he's smart, effective, and well-liked. The Managing Director's job may be the most important in City government; essentially a Chief Operating Officer position, the Managing Director is responsible for day-to-day operations of major City departments like Police, Streets, and Fire. For more information about the responsibilities of this position, check out the electronic version of the Philadelphia City Charter.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Twice a Week Trash Pickup to End for Mayor Street's Neighborhood

As part of the overall strategy to deal with fiscal strain, the City will no longer collect refuse twice weekly at 25,000 residences in North Philadelphia (see story). This practice has cost the City $300,000 annually and had been a curious annoyance to those who realized that Mayor Street's neighborhood was the only one with special refuse collection service. This is a small step towards a leaner City government that gets the job done without favoritism.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Innovative School Donation Program

School Donation, Inc. - a Philadelphia-based firm - has created an innovative mechanism for donating books and supplies to local schools. Here's how it works: Schools/teachers identify requested books and supplies, which get posted on the School Donation website. Donors then browse the site and purchase requested materials commensurate with budgets and priorities. Donors get a receipt for tax-deduction purposes and will receive a thank-you from the recipient of the donation. Also, donated materials can be labeled, indicating the source of the donation. For more information, please go to their website and click on the "Donation Demonstration" link to view simulated donating activities. School Donation, Inc. is working to bring participants on-line, but does not currently offer donating opportunities. If your school would like to participate in the School Donation, Inc. program, please contact them using the "Contact Us" tab on the left of their home page.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Caesars Bets on Slots License

Caesars - who operates casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas - has paid $64.7 million for a 30 acre site along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, which it hopes to turn into a slots parlor. The move is speculative, as they have not yet obtained the requisite license (see story).

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ft. Knox for Mayor?

Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox says he’s running for mayor and plans to spend $15 million of his own money to run in 2007 (see story). Mr. Knox says he’s “got the money, the time, and the inclination." Different credentials - like expertise and vision - might be better for our City at this point.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Philadelphia: #1 on MLK Day

Philadelphia has more community projects and volunteers on Martin Luther King day than any other City in America (see story). "Philadelphia has the most outstanding King program in the country," says Robert Goodwin, President and CEO of Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network, a D.C.-based non-profit.

Friday, January 14, 2005

First Mayoral Straw Poll Puts Councilman Nutter in the Lead

According to the non-partisan Young America PAC’s recent survey of its members, 23.30 percent support Councilman Michael Nutter for Mayor, more than any other potential candidate, including Sam Katz, John Dougherty, or John Saidel.

Selling Naming Rights at SEPTA Stations?

A resolution (H.R. 6) has been introduced urging Commonwealth transit authorities to sell naming rights as a revenue generation mechanism (see story).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Wachovia Complex: #1 in the Planet for Ticket Sales

The Wachovia Complex in South Philadelphia sold more tickets last year than all other public assembly facilities on the planet, according to Pollstar Magazine (see story). “The Complex” - as it’s know in Philadelphia - has 39,000 seats in two arenas and sold over 900,000 tickets to non-sporting events during 2004. The number of tickets sold does not include sales for the sports teams based at the complex, such as the Sixers (basketball), Flyers (hockey), Phantoms (minor league hockey), Wings (indoor lacrosse), Kixx (indoor soccer), and the Soul (arena football).

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Seth Williams to Challenge Incumbent Philly DA

Seth Williams of Overbrook is planning to announce his candidacy for District Attorney in the Democratic primary (see story). How would his leadership contrast with the incumbent? He would assign prosecutors to geographic regions of the City instead of assigning them by crime type, as is currently done. Also, Williams has said that he would reserve the death penalty for the worst offenders. Says Williams, "I envision a world in which we don't have the death penalty…I want the death penalty to be used as the exception - not the rule." This might be his biggest difference with his opponent, once called the nation's "deadliest D.A." by the New York Times Magazine.

Philadelphia International Airport Sets Record

Passenger traffic for 2004 is expected to be over 28 million people, a new annual record and an increase of 3 million over last year (see story). Increased traffic is attributable to the influx of low-cost carriers such as Southwest and Frontier airlines.

Boulevard to get Red-light Camera

Grant Avenue and the Boulevard will host a traffic camera - the first in Pennsylvania - that will photograph red-light runners. Registered owners of the offending vehicle will be mailed a $100 ticket (see story).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Kvaerner Starts on First Oil Tanker

Approximately 9 more such tankers could be built over the next five year (see story), providing 800 shipyard workers with steady work and generating indirect economic benefits to businesses and workers who supply and support the shipyard, located in South Philadelphia at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Waterless Urinals!

The planned Comcast Center will be the tallest “green” building in the country (see story), according to the U.S. Green Building Council. While green buildings typically cost about 2% more to design/construct than ordinary buildings, energy efficiency and tenant satisfaction provide a return on the investment. One of the green features at the Comcast Center? Waterless urinals.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Comcast hires Charisse Lillie

Lillie is currently a partner at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia. Next month, she will become the vice president of human resources for Comcast and senior vice president of human resources at Comcast Cable Communications Inc., a subsidiary of Comcast. (see story).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Good Quote

"I love growth, I love change, I love cities," she said. "Cities feed on growth and change. Like a shark, if a city stops moving, it dies."

Georgette Chapman Poindexter - chairwoman of the real estate department at the Wharton School - speaking about the Comcast Center's impact on Center City (see story).

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Boyd Theatre will be Reborn

After a $30-$35 million refurbishment (all private money!), the historic property on Chestnut Street will be a venue for concerts, musicals and Broadway-scaled productions (see story). The property is being acquired and developed by media giant Clear Channel.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

CHOP is on Top

For the third time in as many years, Child Magazine has ranked Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (a.k.a. "CHOP") as the best pediatric hospital in the nation.

Best Chocolate Found in North Philadelphia

February's Consumer Reports has rated North Philadelphia’s John & Kira's as the best chocolate makers. Their base of operations - the former Goldenberg's Peanut Chews plant - produced 375,000 pieces of candy last year.

Philadelphia’s Tallest Building: Coming Soon

Liberty Property Trust will begin construction on One Pennsylvania Plaza, a 57-story, 1.2 million sq. ft. tower at 17th Street and JFK Boulevard (see story). Comcast will move their world headquarters to the facility, to be called the "Comcast Center". The project will cost $435 million and require approximately 4,500 construction workers and have a $1.4 billion economic impact on the Philadelphia region. Occupancy is expected in late 2007, with Comcast staff to grow by almost 50 percent to 1,900 at that time. Comcast was first incorporated in Pennsylvania in 1969. Comcast employs 10,000 in Pennsylvania and serves over 21 million cable television customers and more than 6 million Internet customers across the country. To the cynics who thought the project would never move forward, have a little faith in our great city.

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