Sunday, December 31, 2006

I Love the Farm Show

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the nation. The Farm Show Complex contains 25 acres under one roof, spread throughout 11 buildings (including three indoor arenas). I went last year; it's a blast.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Fox Executive MBA program Ranked Top 20 in the US

The Executive MBA ("EMBA") Program at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has been ranked among the top 20 programs in the U.S. by the Financial Times. This is the sixth consecutive year that the Fox program has been ranked among the world's best by the London-based news organization.

Gambling and Addiction

"Eighty percent of people who gamble will have no problems. Fifteen percent will have some problems. Five percent will become addicted. This applies across the board to legal and illegal gambling and even state lotteries," said Eddie Looney, executive director of New Jersey's Council on Compulsive Gambling, which has broad experience with the 12 casinos in Atlantic City.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Factoid

Lots of toys are made in the Commonwealth. The Slinky is made in Hollidaysburg (Blair County); the Crayola Crayon is produced in Easton (Northampton County); and Boyd’s Bears are made in Gettysburg (Adams County).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Philadelphia Schools are Wired

Three Local Colleges Named 'Most High Tech' in Nation
by KYW’s Suzanne Monaghan

PC Magazine is announcing its 2007 "Top Wired Colleges". And a local university tops the list and two others are among the top 20.

Villanova University tops the list as the most high tech school in the country:

"Villanova's been pretty proactive about making sure students have the most updated equipment and then they have very strong tech support."

Erik Rhey of PC Magazine says Philadelphia makes a strong showing compared to other cities with Swarthmore College coming in at number four and Temple University placing 15th out of 240 colleges:

"I know they're in the middle of a big wireless project to get the whole city wireless on a certain timetable. And I think Philadelphia has a very strong initiative in that arena so I think it just sort of fits that the academic institutions sort of follow that."

Schools are judged on things like whether students can check coursework or take tests online, the availability of computer labs, and the strength and security of the school network.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Zoning Reform Bill

From PennFuture: Councilmen Kenney and DiCicco have introduced a Zoning Bill to establish a 29- member Zoning Commission to work with national experts to modernize our Zoning Code. As many of you know, our current Zoning Code was developed during the Eisenhower Administration and is over 600 pages long. More importantly, the code is out of touch with the current needs of the community. We need 2/3 of Council to give an affirmative vote on Thursday, December 14th. Please take a minute to contact your City Council members to urge them to support Bill No. 060699 and Resolution NO. 060716. You can send an email directly at www.nextgreatcity.org through our Take Action! page.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Agricultural Factoid

According to the Commonwealth's Department of Agriculture, 45 of Pennsylvania's approximately 200 milk processors sell eggnog, that fattening holiday drink. Dairy is Pennsylvania's #1 agricultural industry, contributing $4.2 billion in annual income. Moo.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The New York Times Loves Philadelphia

Another positive article in the New York Times about Philadelphia.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pennsylvania Gets Greener

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the Commonwealth’s Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”) has granted $2.0 million to Philadelphia University's Engineering and Design Institute and the Pittsburgh-based Green Building Alliance to establish the Pennsylvania Green Growth Partnership.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Horizons Wins Award

Horizons has won the “Restaurant of the Year Award” from VegNews Magazine. The husband/wife team of Rich Landau (executive chef) and Kate Jacoby (pastry chef) moved Horizons from the suburbs into Philadelphia in 2006 and became our City’s first upscale vegan restaurant. The two-story restaurant (downstairs lounge; upstairs dining) serves “nouveau vegan cuisine along with organic spirits”. Craig LeBan - Philadelphia’s premier food critic – gave Horizons an “excellent” rating. Horizons is located at 611 South 7th Street. I've been there; it's delicious.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid

This season, 380,000 acres of corn were harvested, producing more than 6.8 million tons of "silage". Corn silage, which is fed to livestock, contributes nearly $185 million to the Commonwealth’s economy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid

Chrysanthemums contribute more than $2.2 million to the Commonwealth's economy. There are more than 60 “mum” producers throughout the Pennsylvania. Overall, we rank seventh nationally in wholesale floriculture crops.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Philly Architectural Salvage Update

From my friends at Architectural Salvage News:

American Soil has opened an architectural salvage store in Philadelphia called Provenance at 1610 Fairmount Ave., (215) 236-6677. On American Soil's website, click on "architectural salvage." Presently, they're selling treasures from Philadelphia's landmark Divine Lorraine Hotel.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Philadelphia International Airport is in the Potatoes

According to the Daily News, Philadelphia International Aiport was awarded more than $38 million in grants for various projects during the fiscal year that ended on September 30. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, it set a record for the amount of money the agency has ever given an airport during one fiscal year.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mike Nutter Letter to Paul Vallas

Mr. Paul Vallas
Chief Executive Officer
School District of Philadelphia
440 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Dear Mr. Vallas:

I am writing to state my opposition to the numerous proposed budget cuts that have been detailed in the recent news accounts regarding the Philadelphia School District.

Some of these proposed cuts – art and music, athletics and sports, teen parenting centers, truancy officers, librarians, nurses and counselors - would have a devastating impact on our schools and many of your own education reform efforts.

It is unclear to me and many member of the public, especially parents and students, how the District’s finances have deteriorated over the past two years without more information being shared with the public, and more importantly, without a long term plan to fix the structural financial challenges that our District continues to face.

In response to this current funding crisis, I am asking that the District develop a comprehensive plan involving the wealth of partners who depend upon stable and improving public education system for the progress of this city and region. The Philadelphia School District must reach out in a cooperative manner to the City of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the foundation community, the many area colleges and universities, the education advocacy community and of course citizens, parents and students to develop a plan of action that will fully inform all of the stakeholders about the direction of public education and the quality of our educational services. The School District’s current schedule will not allow sufficient review and opportunity for public input.

I am proposing that you and the School Reform Commission take the following steps:

* Provide a full, detailed disclosure of how the current budget crisis developed and a complete accounting of the past two years’ actions taken to prevent any negative educational impact on students because of funding deficiencies.

* Request a review of the Philadelphia School District finances by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority which would serve as an independent financial oversight entity.

* Provide a public explanation of the overall impact of the educational and service impacts of any budget-cut plan that is submitted to the School Reform Commission, including the impact on planning as required by the No Child Left Behind laws.

* Provide a school-by-school analysis of any proposed educational and service impacts of any budget-cut plan that is submitted to the School Reform Commission.

* Engage in a week of public hearings in City Council Chambers in order for the public, parents and students to fully understand what the District’s proposed cuts are and how those cuts will impact the educational experience of our students prior to any budget action by the Philadelphia School District and the School Reform Commission. The District can utilize the procedure outlined in the Home Rule School District Charter section 12-209(b) for public meetings of the School Reform Commission, the City Council and the Mayor.

I am strongly encouraging that you take time to extend the public input schedule, because the currently announced schedule provides virtually no real time for input by anyone.

I believe that these steps would result in a more comprehensive and thoughtful budget and would also help to restore public confidence in the School District. Thank you for your consideration, and I would appreciate your timely response.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Nutter
Candidate for Mayor of Philadelphia

Monday, October 30, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Three Days Late

Pumpkins contribute more than $16 million to the Commonwealth's economy. In 2005, 7,500 acres of pumpkins were planted and harvested. Pumpkins rank our state second nationally in annual production at 136 million pounds.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Temple Law School Excels

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal - for the first time - Temple University's School of Law graduates led the rankings in first-time pass rates for the July 2006 Pennsylvania Bar exam. Temple Law grads had a score of 91.16 percent, 7 percentage points above the statewide average. Temple Law was better than all other ranked law schools, including Pitt (90.34 percent), Penn (89.47), Dickinson (89.17), Duquesne (88.32) and Villanova (85.47).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Center City Development News

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the Girard Estate has entered into a $90 million agreement with Trinity Capital Advisors of Conshohocken to develop the block bordered by Chestnut and Market Streets and 11th and 12th Streets. Trinity envisions a project that will likely contain hotel, retail, residential, entertainment and office uses that could total more than 3 million square feet.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence

From their website: The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence ("RBA") seeks to discover those special places, to celebrate and publicize their achievement. Excellence exists in every city. It can be found in downtowns, neighborhoods, and parks. The Rudy Bruner Award is a search for examples of this often overlooked excellence, and a celebration of their contribution to the richness and diversity of the urban experience. Often these places transcend the boundaries between architecture, urban design, and planning. They are born through processes of transformation -- the renewal of something old, or the creation of something new that resonates in the history of community life.

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Late Double Shot

Pennsylvania ranks fourth nationally in apple production. Apples contribute more than $50 million to our state’s economy. In 2005, 21,800 acres of apples were harvested for 405 million pounds in PA. Also, the Commonwealth ranks fifth nationally in wine grape production. In 2005, we produced 16,300 tons of wine grapes. The state is home to more than 100 wineries.

Friday, October 13, 2006

For the "Conservative" Urbanist In You

Announcing Citiesonahill.org, a project of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Civic Innovation. This exciting new website shines the spotlight on both the missteps of American urban policy, as well as potential solutions to urban problems. Citiesonahill.org operates with the assumption that the American metropolis can be transformed through better governance, crime reduction, and market-friendly economic policies.

The reader is invited to enjoy an engaging and interactive experience featuring original editorial content, timely analysis of breaking news, and moderated reader comments. Urban analysts based throughout the United States provide guest insight into the unique issues being confronted in their cities.

Citiesonahill.org is edited by urban policy expert Fred Siegel. Mr. Siegel was a major intellectual force in the revitalization of declining American cities in the 1990s. As a senior campaign advisor to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he was one of the first to conceptualize the reform policies carried out in New York. He is the author of The Prince of the City: Giuliani, New York and the Genius of American Life (Encounter Books 2005), and frequently writes for publications including The New Republic, The Atlantic, The Public Interest, Commentary, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Dissent, The Weekly Standard, and The Washington Post. He was also one of the original editors of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal.

Harry Siegel, formerly of the New York Sun, is managing editor of the site. Harry was previously editor-in-chief of NewPartisan.com and editor-in-chief of the New York Press. He is widely published in national journals and newspapers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nutter and the City Year Serve-A-Thon

Nutter for Mayor 2007 is pleased to announce an exciting volunteer opportunity in the near future. City Year will be hosting their annual Serve-A-Thon on October 28, 2006 from 8:30am-3:00pm, and we want to bring our Nutter Team along and show our support for this excellent program.

This year's Serve-A-Thon will be at the Bellfield Recreation Center at 2100 West Chew Ave in Philadelphia, and will include the repairing and cleaning of this facility. A full day of activity is planned, with a new playground to be installed and murals to be painted. This a great chance for us to show our support for Michael and for our great City. If you want to sign up, or just learn more, contact Jesse Cohen at Jesse.Cohen@att.net.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Secret Meeting with Neil Oxman

Philadelphia-based political consultant Neil Oxman worked on six of the last seven Philadelphia mayoral campaigns and has helped elect candidates across the city and nation.

In this strictly “off the record” talk, he will tell how a reform effort can make real and lasting political change. You say you want a revolution? Come out and learn how you can change the world — or at least make positive change in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 — 7:30 pm
Friends Select School / 17th & Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost — Free

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mike Nutter and Regionalism

From yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

While Philadelphia's bars and restaurants were trying to figure out the new smoking ban, Michael Nutter, the law's prime mover, was out trolling for votes, or rather contributions, at the Mendenhall Inn in Chester County last week. There, Nutter received an enthusiastic endorsement of his mayoral ambitions. He was praised as "a reform-minded public official, a person of the highest caliber who deserves to be elected mayor," in the words of Rob Powelson, president of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and the man who invited Nutter out to the suburbs. "When the city is doing well, the region is doing well," Powelson said.

Nutter was the keynote speaker at the second annual awards luncheon of the Chester County Chamber Foundation. "Philadelphia's future is inextricably tied to Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties," he said. "I want to change the nature of those relationships," seemingly a reference to Mayor Street, who has been little seen in Philly's suburbs.

Nutter noted that Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was able to bring together 272 mayors from six counties and form the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus. "There's no reason why we can't have something similar," Nutter said. Powelson gave Nutter credit for working with suburban representatives on the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority on the facility's long-awaited expansion.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

SoundAboutPhilly

This is a new project from the Pew Foundation & Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation that offers a series of downloadable audio tours about Philadelphia. The website is: www.soundaboutphilly.com.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Double Shot

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture:

Potatoes contribute $24 million to the Commonwealth’s economy. In 2005, 11,000 acres of potatoes were harvested. Average yield was 25,000 pounds per acre, totaling 137,500 tons.

Pears contribute $1.3 million to the economy. In 2005, 800 acres of pears were harvested. Pear production ranks us 6th nationally in annual production at 2,100 tons.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mike Nutter on SEPTA

Michael Nutter Submits Testimony to Pennsylvania Transportation Funding and Reform Commission

Philadelphia – September 15, 2006 - Mayoral candidate Michael A. Nutter submitted testimony today to the Pennsylvania Transportation Funding and Reform Commission in response to the Commission’s request for public comments on its August 2006 report entitled “Investing in Our Future: Addressing Pennsylvania’s Transportation Funding Crisis.”

“Citizens of the Southeastern Pennsylvania region rely heavily on transportation provided by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (“SEPTA”) and that reliance would increase still further if the system was improved,” Nutter commented. “One of the many critiques I heard from my constituents when I served the 4th Councilmanic District was that SEPTA does not serve them well and fails to communicate with them. That recurring problem causes an unnecessary tension between SEPTA and the neighborhoods.”

Nutter provided recommendations to assist in resolving that problem. He called upon the Commonwealth to reconfigure the composition of the SEPTA board to provide Philadelphians with greater representation. Nutter also called upon Philadelphia to solve the problem. He stated, “Philadelphia must do its part. Philadelphia needs a Deputy Mayor for Transportation, who would be the liaison between SEPTA and the citizens of Philadelphia.”

Nutter agreed with the Commission’s assessment that SEPTA remains under-funded and commented, “In order for the funding crisis to be resolved, there has to be a joint partnership between the Commonwealth and the five counties to increase funding.”

Governor Rendell created the Commission in 2005 to examine the funding crisis plaguing Pennsylvania’s highway, bridge and transit systems. The Commission is seeking input before it fashions a final report in November.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Participate in the September 16th “Statewide Action Day” - Help Build Momentum for Democrats Across Pennsylvania!

Governor Rendell is sponsoring a “Statewide Action Day” to build momentum, enthusiasm for November elections tomorrow. Thousands of people from across the Commonwealth will walk door to door to speak directly with their neighbors about the Governor’s record and the importance of getting out to vote on November 7th. This is an opportunity to build momentum on a grassroots level as Election Day quickly approaches. Please visit www.rendellforgovernor.com/actionday for a complete list of locations and for more information about how to get involved. The Governor will be in Bucks County, Bob Casey will be in Delaware County, and lots of local elected officials will be knocking on doors, too. In Philadelphia, things will be getting started at Rendell Campaign HQ at 123 South Broad Street, Suite 1220. Michael Nutter – candidate for Mayor – will be there.

Councilman Kenney Proposes Charter Change

Councilman Kenney is proposing to change the City Charter to eliminate the provision that requires elected officials or City employees to resign their position to run for another public office. Kenney notes that Philadelphia is the only county in the Commonwealth to have place this kind of restriction on its public officials and employees. Kenney says it takes good people, such as former councilman Michael Nutter, who resigned this Summer to run for mayor, prematurely out of public service. Said Kenney, "I think Mike Nutter is a perfect example of a person who worked diligently in here, had good ideas, got a lot of things accomplished, and then wants to take the next step up and has to resign and leave the body."

Monday, September 11, 2006

I Like Mike

Here's a little blurb from this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer. Nutter's actions evidence that he's not a grandstander, just another one of the reasons I like him so much and hope that he's our next Mayor.

"Some people crash parties. Politicians crash news conferences - especially those likely to draw international coverage, and when there's a mayoral race around the corner. At least that's what happened at the opening of the city's School of the Future on Thursday. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) and State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.) - both mayoral hopefuls - joined State Rep. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.), State Rep. James Roebuck Jr. (D., Phila.) and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell on stage at the West Philadelphia school. All were invited, but the Philadelphia School District and Microsoft Corp. - which helped design the school - had not planned for them to be on stage. Extra chairs had to be found. At least one politician didn't crash: Michael Nutter, the former councilman and declared mayoral candidate, whose district the school is in and who helped the district secure the site. He watched and listened from the crowd. 'I knew we weren't supposed to be on stage,' Nutter said. 'It wasn't about us.'"

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid

Grapes contribute $19 million to Commonwealth's economy, with Erie County producing the most. In 2005, 12,000 acres of grapes were harvested in Pennsylvania. Grape production ranks us 5th nationally in annual production at 90,000 tons.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tell Mayor Street to Sign the Smoking Ban

From an email from PennEnvironment:

BACKGROUND After more than five years of debate, Philadelphia City Council finally passed the smoke-free workplace legislation this summer. On March 27th, the Philadelphia City Council's Public Health Committee passed Councilwoman Marian Tasco's legislation that would make Philadelphia smoke-free by prohibiting smoking in all workplaces in order to protect the health of our citizens and workers. This legislation passed on June 15, 2006 by a vote of 9-6, with council members Clarke, DiCicco, Goode, Kenney, Miller, Nutter Ramos, Reynolds Brown and Tasco voting in favor of this important public health proposal. Unfortunately, Philadelphia Mayor John Street is now hinting he may refuse to sign this legislation--after publicly stating that passing citywide, smoke-free legislation in the city is one of his top priorities. Councilman Nutter first proposed smoke-free legislation in 2000. At that time, far fewer municipalities had enacted smoke-free laws and the bill met strong opposition. In an attempt to work with members of the hospitality industry, the legislation became muddled with exemptions and eventually was put on the backburner before ever getting a vote in city council. Since then, a lot has changed.

In recent years a groundswell of support for smoke-free laws has developed in states and localities across the country. Nearly one-third of the U.S. population--or more than 90 million people--is now covered by strong smoke-free laws. Cities such as New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Minneapolis have all passed comprehensive smoking bans, as well as our neighboring states of New Jersey and Delaware. As the numbers come back from places that have gone smoke-free, numerous careful scientific and economic analyses have shown that smoke-free laws do not hurt restaurant and bar patronage, employment, sales, or profits. In fact, in most cities the workplace smoking ban is credited with increased sales and creating new jobs as local residents who avoid smoky locales once again began going out to local bars and restaurants. For this reason, it isn't surprising that the Chamber of Commerce even supports this proposal. It is widely recognized that exposure to secondhand smoke causes disease, disability and death. Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals and at least 69 carcinogens, including formaldehyde, cyanide, and arsenic. In addition to heart disease, secondhand smoke is proven to cause lung cancer and many serious respiratory illnesses. Here in Philadelphia, a broad alliance of public health groups, businesses, environmental groups and concerned citizens has come together in support of a smoke-free Philadelphia. For more information, check out the website, www.breathefreephiladlephia.org. Yet until June 15, 2006, Philadelphia's City Council had refused to take action on this important public health proposal.

Now, Mayor Street is threatening to bring us back to square one and start all over by refusing to sign the smoke-free workplace legislation. So take a minute to ask Mayor Street to sign the smoke-free workplace legislation. Then, forward this to your friends and family in Philadelphia and ask them to do the same. To email the mayor, click on the link below or paste it into your web browser: http://www.pennenvironment.org/PE.asp?id=1771&id4=ES

Meet Mike Nutter - September 20th

If you have not had the opportunity to meet Michael yet, here is your chance. Young Professionals for Nutter are having their next meet and greet on September 20, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. at Abbraccio located at 820 S. 47th Street.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pennsylvania is Green

Governor Rendell announced this week that the state government will double the amount of electricity purchased from renewable sources. The enhanced purchase makes Pennsylvania the largest state purchaser of green electricity and ranks Pennsylvania number 12 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Top 25 Green Power Partners list.

Friday Agricultural Factoid: There's a Fungus Among Us

I’m proud to report that, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, our state ranks first nationally in mushroom production, producing more than 495 million pounds annually. The mushroom industry contributes an excess of $391 million to the Commonwealth’s economy every year.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Rendell for Governor Event Tonight

Young Professionals for Rendell

32 Lounge - 16 S. 2nd Street - Old City

Wednesday, August 30th - 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Open Bar from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

No cover - drink specials

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Four Days Late

According to the PA Department of Agriculture, snap beans are a $6 million industry in the Commonwealth. In 2005, 9,500 acres of snap beans were planted in harvested. Snap beans rank 6th nationally in annual production at 27,380 tons.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: On Time!

According to the Commonwealth's Department of Agriculture, peaches contribute $19 million to Pennsylvania’s economy. In 2005, 4,500 acres of peaches were harvested and we rank 5th nationally in annual peach production at 23,000 tons.

Mike Nutter on Taxes

Candidate for Mayor Mike Nutter has an op-ed in the City Paper discussing his position on taxes that is worth reading. Here are two notable excerpts:

"The negative effects of Philadelphia's tax laws on job growth are about as scientifically certain as the effects of global warming, having been recently documented in studies from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority and the Philadelphia Tax Reform Commission."

"Because of our tax laws, we don't have enough good living-wage jobs in this city. Because of our uncompetitive tax system, we don't have enough money to invest in affordable housing, to provide more afterschool programs for our children, or to offer the hope of quality education and employment opportunities to the thousands of young men and women who drop out of school or don't go to college. Creating jobs, providing quality education and investing in our citizens would significantly reduce crime and violence in our city. That is why I care about tax policy."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pennsylvania Becoming a Major Player in International Trade

Acccording to Governor Renell's Office, Pennsylvania jumped over five other states last year in the volume of goods exported to other countries. According to the federal government, Pennsylvania companies increased exports by $4 billion in 2005 to $22.3 billion, or a 20-percent increase in total exports. Further, since 2002, Pennsylvania has experienced the largest rise in exports among U.S. states at 41 percent. We now rank ninth among states in the total dollar value of exports, up from 14th last year.

Michael A. Nutter Denounces Drug Testing on Prison Inmates

August 14 - Philadelphia - Mayoral candidate Michael A. Nutter today denounced a recommendation by a Federal panel that would remove most limits on drug testing on prison inmates.

“We should be offering drug rehab to prisoners, not drug testing,” stated Nutter. “These recommendations, if implemented, could return us to the days when experiments were performed on prisoners at Holmesburg Prison, and the Tuskegee Experiments, which conducted syphilis testing on African American males in Alabama during the 1930s.” Nutter issued his statement in response to a front-page story in Sunday’s New York Times, which reported the recommendations by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences. The Times reports that the discussion occurs during a time in which the biomedical industry is facing a shortage of subjects. Current regulations, passed in 1978, prohibit testing of prisoners, except where the experiment poses “minimal” risks.

“This is about one thing, taking advantage of a vulnerable population – mostly black men,” stated Nutter. “The City should refuse to allow drug companies to use its citizens for this purpose. It is completely immoral.” Nutter suggested that “If drug companies really want to help prisoners, as they claim, they should provide funding for job training and medical services that the prisoners truly need.”

Prior to 1978, experiments were conducted at Holmesburg State Prison, a facility run by the City of Philadelphia. At least one former prisoner reached a settlement with the city after he sued for damages caused by these experiments.

Michael A. Nutter is a candidate for mayor of the City of Philadelphia. For more information about Michael, visit www.nutterformayor.com.

Rendell Way Ahead in Recent Poll

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released today, Governor Ed Rendell has a 57-38 percent lead among likely voters over Lynn Swann a political neophyte with no governmentmanagementt experience. 4 percent were undecided.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Housing Sales Price Growth Strong in the Northeast

According to the National Association of Realtors recently released report on home sale trends for the second quarter of 2006, the strongest increases were in the Northeast where the median resale single-family home price in the second quarter was $299,200, up 6.3 percent from a year ago. The Philadelphia metro area was at $235,100, up 11.4 percent. Calm down everybody, calm the heck down.

Philadelphia Office of Fleet Management Done Good

From yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer:

Wireless Philadelphia isn't the only program giving the city some buzz these days. The city's Office of Fleet Management ought to be clinking champagne glasses, too.

Two years ago, there was a lot of griping when then-City Managing Director Phil Goldsmith started swiping cars from commissioners and lower-level bureaucrats as a way to save money. In all, 329 "underutilized" city vehicles were sold, saving taxpayers $1.7 million a year. But the officials at fleet management didn't stop there. Faced with budget pressures, they came up with a program in which the city now partners with nonprofit PhillyCarShare, enabling employees to "borrow" cars from nearby parking garages whenever they need them. It's more fuel efficient, more cost effective - and so creative that the vehicle-sharing program was named one of 18 national finalists for the Innovations in American Government Awards, which are overseen by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "To be honest with you, it was a little disappointing that we didn't win. I think we would have made a push for publicity if we had," said Robert Fox, the department's administrative-services director and one of the brains behind the program. Out of 1,000 entries, seven won $100,000 each. Philadelphia and the other finalists "got an 'attaboy' with a nice certificate," Fox said. But his office also got this: the distinction of making Philadelphia the first government in North America to reduce its fleet by partnering with a local car-sharing provider.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Three Days Late

According to the Commonwealth's Dept. of Agriculture, Pennsylvania is home to more than 1,000 farmers markets. The local fruits and vegetables grown and sold at farmers markets across Pennsylvania generate over $50 million in annual revenues.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

GPTMC Wins Awards

The Travel Industry of America has announced that the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation has won three of eight 2006 Odyssey Awards. Nobody has ever won multiple Odyssey Awards in the same year. Awards are presented to tourism agencies that have demonstrated originality, creativity and effectiveness, with notable, measurable results.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rendell = Open Space Preservation

Governor Rendell recently announced that $212 million has been committed for more than 236 projects in the first year of the innovative Growing Greener II initiative, including projects that will clean up streams, expand open space, preserve farmland, invest in state and community park improvements and redevelop communities.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Three Days Late

According to the PA Department of Agriculture, vegetables contribute more than $99 million to our state’s economy. Pennsylvania is home to 3,500 vegetable growers who manage 50,000 acres of crops and produce more than 240,000 tons of vegetables for fresh and processing use.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Smart Places to Live in PA

Pittsburgh is #9 on the list of "50 Smart Places to Live," a ranking of American cities released May 8, 2006 by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and published in the June 2006 issue. The magazine looked for places that combine affordability and livability. To make the list, a city had to score well in a number of areas, including housing prices, cost of living, economic vitality, education, health care, the local arts scene and recreational facilities. The Pennsylvania cities that made the list and their ranking are as follows: (9) Pittsburgh; (12) Harrisburg; (19) State College; (22) Philadelphia; (37) Lancaster.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Three Days Late

According to the Commonwealth's Department of Agriculture, tomatoes contribute over $26 million to Pennsylvania’s economy. In 2005, 3,900 acres of tomatoes were planted and harvested in the Commonwealth. Average yield was 13,500 pounds per acre, totaling 51 million pounds.

Rendell = Jobs

According to the AP, Pennsylvania added 49,500 jobs during the month of June, bringing the nonfarm jobs total to a record 5.75 million. “It’s encouraging because it’s past the pre-recession peak,” said Ryan Sweet of Economy.com. The unemployment rate was 4.7 percent for June, the 12th month it stayed below 5 percent.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mike Nutter on Crime

"It is a matter of political will and determining how aggressive Philadelphians are prepared for policing to be to create a safe environment." City Paper’s Brian Hickey read these words in last Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer about Mike Nutter and saw them as “the words of a man willing to actually expend intellectual capital and find a fresh approach to saving Philadelphians' lives — the words of someone who, if he continues on such a path, might actually be able to make a difference.” After speaking with Nutter, Mr. Hickey “loved what [he] heard”. Read Brian’s impressions of Nutter and Mike's commitment to and vision for combating violence in Philadelphia here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Nutter's Campaign Kick-Off Speech

Here's a link to Mike Nutter's campaign kick-off speech. He's intending to focus on three core issues at this point: public safety, education, and job creation.

Greenadelphia!

Greenadelphia! is a Philadelphia-based blog about environmental issues affecting the City and the region as well as issues of national and global importance. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Four Days Late (Again)

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, July is national ice cream month. In 1904, the first banana split was invented at Strickler’s Drug Store in Latrobe. Our state is ranked 4th nationally in ice cream production, manufacturing 41.6 million gallons every year.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Nutter for Mayor

Mike Nutter's got a new website; check it out when you get the chance.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Nutter Podcast Interview

From the Next Mayor Blog, there's a good podcast interview with my pick for Mayor, Michael Nutter.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Four Days Late

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, sweet corn is a $32.4 million industry in our state. In 2005, 20,300 acres of sweet corn - intended for market - were planted. The average yield was 6,100 pounds per acre, totaling 108 million pounds for the Commonwealth.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It's Official: Nutter to Announce for Mayor

All are invited to join Michael A. Nutter as he announces his candidacy to be the next Mayor of Philadelphia. Here are the details:

Saturday, July 22, 2006
10:30 a.m.
5156 Parkside Avenue
Across from the Mann Music Center

Food, Drinks & a Fresh Direction for Philadelphia will be provided!

Accessible by SEPTA buses #40 & #52. Parking is available at the Mann Music Center.

Contact Nutter 2007 @ 215-545-9700 or www.nutter2007.com for more information.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Friedman...Out!!

I will be away for the next week vacation...posting highly unlikely. See you all when I get back.

Yea Baby! The Friday Agricultural Factoid!

According to the Commonwealth's Dept. of Agricutlure, the state provides $3 million in funding for its Farmers Market Nutrition Program, more than any other state in the country. While most states rely solely on federal funds, our state doubles the total amount available. This year, the program has assisted more than 250,000 people

Friday, July 07, 2006

Water Works Restaurant and Lounge: Opening Tomorrow

The Water Works Restaurant and Lounge opens tomorrow. It will offer an awesome view of the Schuylkill River and a Mediterranean-themed menu. The address is 640 Water Works Drive, just below the Philadelphia Art Museum. Their phone is (215) 236-9000.

Philadelphia History Through Photographs

The Philadelphia Department of Record's new blog features weekly updates that tell the story behind interesting historical photos and provide links to further information.

Cool Website: Short Films about Unique Neighborhoods

Check out a new website called Turnhere. This website features short films about unique neighborhoods and cool places throughout the world. Check out the ones about Old City and South Street.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

MenuPages.com Launches in Philadelphia

MenuPages.com is now offering Philadelphia-area residents a fantastic dining and restaurant resource: philadelphia.menupages.com. The site includes complete menus for over 1,400 establishments, from pricey Center City establishments to neighborhood joints.

Monday, July 03, 2006

McClure for Council: Propitious Timing

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning: "Candidate Matthew McClure had perfect timing last week when he lunged out of the gate for Michael Nutter's Council seat. The Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll lawyer happened to plan his first fund-raiser - friends and family only - for the day Nutter resigned. 'The timing was phenomenal,' McClure said, adding, 'I can't take credit for it.'" FYI, that fundraiser was tremendously successful, to be followed up by another one on Tuesday the 25th of July in the Fourth Councilmanic District, in Downtown East Falls. For more info about the event or the campaign, please email info@mcclureforcouncil.com.

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Three Days Late

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Commonwealth is home to America's oldest fair - the York Fair - which began in 1765, 11 years before our nation was founded. Three other 200-year-old events, being recognized as Bicentennial Fairs this year, include the Reading Fair, the Washington Co. Fair and the Cumberland Ag Expo.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Random Pennyslvania Factoid

Per capita personal income in Pennsylvania reached $33,257 in 2004 and ranked 18th nationally, according to the "Survey of Business", recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis ("BEA"). Per capita personal income in the Commonwealth increased $1,527 between 2003 and 2004 and has increased by more than $5,000 since 1999. Personal income in Pennsylvania totaled $435.4 billion in the 3rd quarter of 2005, 1.0 percent higher than the previous quarter ($431.2 billion) and 5.2 percent higher than the 3rd quarter of 2004 ($414 billion).

Friday, June 23, 2006

Friday Agriculture Factoid

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, sweet cherries are in peak season. Our state produces nearly 350 tons and ranks in the top 10 nationally in utilized production.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rendell is Still Killing Swann

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Republican sacrificial lamb Lynn Swann has made no gains against incumbent Governor Ed Rendell in their race for Governor; Rendell now leads 55 – 31 percent.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Councilman Nutter Gets it Done: Smoking Ban Passes!

Philadelphia City Council has passed a bill to ban smoking in most restaurants and other businesses and public spaces in Philadelphia. The final vote was 9-6. The legislation includes exemptions for certain neighborhood taverns and outdoor caf├ęs. No word yet as to whether the Mayor will sign it. Thanks to Councilman DiCicco for casting the deciding vote.

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Philadelphia Business

Philadelphia Distilling - the state's first distillery since Prohibition - just began bottling "Bluecoat Gin" in a plant off Roosevelt Boulevard in the far Northeast.

Alternative Fuel Industry Update

According to PennFuture, Gamesa this week announced a $300 million agreement to construct 132 wind turbines for Shell WindEnergy Inc. at Gamesa's new Pennsylvania manufacturing facilities. The turbines will be fabricated at the company's locations in Ebensburg, Cambria County and in Fairless Hills, Bucks County. Gamesa's - a Spanish company - North American headquarters is in Philadelphia.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: One Day Late

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, in 2005, 1,300 acres of strawberries were planted and harvested in the Commonwealth. Production was 5,400 pounds per acre, totaling 7 million pounds overall. The average price paid was $1.83 per pound, making it a $13 million industry in Pennsylvania.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Eddie Loves Farms

According to the Governor's office, Ed Rendell committed a record-setting $150 million investment for farmland preservation this year. Pennsylvania took another step in its commitment to agriculture by investing $18 million to preserve an additional 49 farms and 4,989 acres at its State Farmland Preservation Board meeting this week. Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres preserved with 2,883 farms and 328,355 acres since the program began in 1988. The Governor committed $150 million for farmland preservation this year.

Historic SDP & Building-Trades Partnership to Benefit Philadelphia Public School Students

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, an historic agreement was signed this week that will provide building-trade apprenticeships for public school graduates in Philadelphia. "We are about to create a new middle class," said Philadelphia School Reform Commission chairman James Nevels. The agreement stipulates that the building-trades unions will accept at least 250 and up to 425 apprentices over the next four years. These apprenticeships offer the opportunity for public-school students who don't plan to go to college to eventually get union work as bricklayers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers and painters, positions that can pay between $20 and $40 per hour.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Councilman Michael Nutter

Councilman Nutter has a new website up; check it out and find out more about the man who could (and should, in my humble opinion) be our next Mayor.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Philadelphia High School Takes Top Honors

A few weeks back, 20 students from Father Judge – a Catholic boys' school in Northeast Philadelphia – beat out approximately 2,500 high school students from across the country and 190 other countries to win top honors at a competition at the United Nations in New York. Father Judge won the coveted “Secretary-General's Award” for amassing more points than any other school.

Monday, June 05, 2006

CHOP's to Build $400 Million Facility

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia ("CHOP") plans to build a $400 million, eight-story facility on some of the former Civic Center site in University City. CHOP's 558,000-square-foot building will be dedicated to "translational research", encompassing "turning basic science research into real-life treatments and cures for a variety of diseases and disorders." CHOP's long-term plans call for building out the research facility to as many as 22 stories depending upon future need.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Wawa Lands at Northeast Philadelphia Airport

A new Wawa store opening on grounds of Northeast Philadelphia Airport, the first Wawa located on airport grounds. The store is new design prototype encompassing 5,700 sq-ft, approximately double the size of most stores. This Wawa will have a deli, bakery and gas, and will feature technology for “contactless” credit-card transactions. The store will employ around sixty. It will be Wawa's 41st store in Philadelphia. Wawa is a privately held company based in Wawa, Delaware County that has more than 500 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, our state's dairy industry represents 42 percent of PA agriculture and has 8,900 dairy farm families who care for 561,000 cows that produce 10.5 billion pounds of moo juice. Nationally, Pennsylvania ranks 4th in milk production, 3rd in butter production, 6th in cheese production and 8th in low-fat ice cream production.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Pennsylvania's Job Count Reaches New Record

Governor Rendell announced last week that Pennsylvania's non-farm job count rose by 6,100 in April to a record high of 5,747,200 jobs! This is the seventh gain in total jobs in the past eight months. The Commonwealth has generated over 120,000 new jobs during Governor Rendell's tenure.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid

Next week is "Amusement Ride Safety Week". According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, The Commonwealth has almost 1,300 ride-safety inspectors covering more than 7,000 rides and attractions at more than 607 community fairs, carnivals and amusement parks - more than any other state or foreign country!

Rendell and Pennsylvania Grow Greener

Twenty-three Pennsylvania counties will benefit from a $17 million investment in land conservation projects that will preserve natural resources and open spaces across the Commonwealth. The money will fund 42 projects to help preserve more than 11,000 acres in Pennsylvania. According to Governor Rendell's office.

John Dougherty: He Said, He Said

John Dougherty having some trouble with the facts, from Gar Joseph's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer today:

"When anti-Frank DiCicco posters sprouted on utility poles last week, the city councilman quickly blamed Eddie Kirlin, whom he called "director of arts and crafts" for Local 98 of the Electricians Union.

Union leader John Dougherty told us last week that Kirlin hadn't worked for 98 in two years. But National Labor Relations Board documents show Kirlin was a consultant for the local, making $36,000 last year.

"He does information technology for us," Dougherty said. "He helps on our Web site and with marketing."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pennsylvania's Official Bumper Sticker Contest Underway

HARRISBURG — Sixteen slogans, including “I break for Shoo Fly Pie,” “Pennsylvania is for Roadtrippers” and “Honk if you like Roadtrips” are battling for votes at www.visitPA.com as the PA Tourism Office opens its search for an official bumper sticker.

Other candidates are uniquely PA with messages like, “Don’t follow me. Pick your own road.” and “Proud parent of a PA roadtrip.” Aspiring bumper sticker authors can also submit their own slogan and artwork for consideration.

Voting ends at midnight on July 1 and the winning bumper sticker will be announced on visitPA.com on July 4. Voters will be invited to visit a PennDOT Welcome Center this summer to pick up a free Pennsylvania bumper sticker.

To weigh in on the debate or for help in planning a roadtrip across the State of Independence, go to visitPA.com. And before hitting the road, check out the Roadtrip Etiquette section for “rules of the road” for responsible and thrifty roadtrippers.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Tourism Office recently launched the “Where You Want To Go” trip generator on visitPA.com, an online tool that not only provides directions but also allows visitors to pre-select from 10 travel activities, the results of which are plotted on interactive maps. Users can also pick lodging and dining options, along with attractions, shopping, nightlife, theatre and more, which are added to the map for a completely customized itinerary.

Travelers who might become lost along the way can also get directions – anytime – at any one of Pennsylvania’s Welcome Centers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Wild, Wild East

The National Geographic Adventure article, "The Wild, Wild East," highlights specific outdoor destinations within the Pennsylvania Wilds region including Cherry Springs State Park, Elk State Forest, Pine Creek and the Pine Creek Gorge, and Hyner View State Park. According to the article, "North-central Pennsylvania is a bona fide, 21st-century Eden. Or so says the Wildlife Conservation Society's Human Footprint report, which put the rugged woodlands on par with Brazil's Pantanal and China's Gobi as one of the last untarnished tracts on Earth. Only 1.3 percent of the lower 48 is as pure."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Judge Edward Becker Passes

Federal Judge Edward R. Becker climbed to within a step of the U.S. Supreme Court but never lost his touch for the regular guy. Becker, senior judge of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, died after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 73 and lived with his wife, Flora, on Herbert Street in Frankford in the house where he lived as a child. He rode the Frankford El to work every day. "He probably just rode the El to heaven," said Third Circuit Judge Marjorie O. (Midge) Rendell. Becker was born in Philadelphia in 1933, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 and three years later from Yale Law School. Senator Specter called him "one of the greatest Philadelphians in our city's history."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Environmental Issues are a Top Concern for Philadelphians

A new poll of Philadelphia residents and business leaders found overwhelming support for protecting the City's environment and investing in infrastructure improvements, with 85 percent of those surveyed saying they would be more likely to vote for a mayoral candidate who made the environment a primary policy focus.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Make Tax Competitiveness a Priority

The Philadelphia Inquirer today had an editorial encouraging continued efforts to enhance tax competitiveness. The City’s projected budget surplus is $168 million. The state fiscal oversight agency PICA doesn’t think that the City’s budget plan "meaningfully" addresses its "uncompetitive tax structure." Mayor Street's thinks an additional one-year reduction of the City's gross-receipts tax on business is fine, while Councilman Michael A. Nutter offers a more effective plan, with five years of programmed cuts in the gross-receipts tax. Guaranteed tax-cuts give businesses a level of comfort that this City is headed in the right direction and encourages them to make commitments to growing. An even better advancement would be Nutter's proposed net-profits business tax cuts. Unfortunately, even after 11 years of progress, Philadelphia ranks highly among American cities with the highest taxes. Nothing generates tax revenue like adding jobs, particularly Center City office jobs. Let’s keep moving forward towards tax competitiveness.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tax Collection in Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania State Data Center, information obtained through the U.S. Census Bureau's 2005 Annual Survey of State Government Tax Collections showed that tax collections in Pennsylvania totaled $27.3 billion in 2005, an increase of $1.9 billion or 7.6 percent over 2004. Since 2000, tax revenue in Pennsylvania has risen $4.8 billion, or 21.3 percent. Pennsylvanians paid an average of $2,193 to the State in 2005, slightly above the national average ($2,192) and a per capita increase of $148 from the previous year. The Commonwealth ranks 17th nationally in per capita tax revenue growth since 2000 (up $363.92 per resident), but just 30th in per capita increase last year. Total tax revenue for all states grew 9.7 percent between 2004 and 2005, and since 2000, revenue has grown by 20.2 percent.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Vote for Ethics in Tomorrow's Election!

Thanks to legislation passed by Councilman Michael Nutter, Philadelphians will have the opportunity tomorrow to pass a referendum creating Philadelphia's first independent ethics board. The ballot question - if approved - would establish an ethics board with the authority to investigate complaints, administer hearings, issue subpoenas/fines, and conduct ethics training for all City employees. The independent board would have jurisdiction over all officials and branches of City government, in contrast to the current board that only has authority over the executive branch. Board members would be unpaid and would serve five-year terms, with a two-term limit. Elected or appointed City officials, City employees and political party employees would be ineligible for service. If voters approve the referendum, the Mayor would still pick the board members - as with the current group - but appointees would require City Council's approval.
Why do we need a new ethics board?
Philadelphia's first ethics board was created in 1962, but lacked enforcement powers and met infrequently. In August 2004, as the federal corruption probe of City Hall's pay-to-play culture exploded, Mayor Street created a new ethics board and appointed its five members. However, because the board was created by executive order, its jurisdiction is limited to the executive branch. Also, the board's not so independent, given that its members are picked by the Mayor, without input from anybody else. This kind of self-policing, "fox watching the hen house" kind of arrangement just isn't effective.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

IssuesPA/Pew Poll Shows Pennsylvanians Dissatisfied with State Direction

May 10, 2006 (Harrisburg, PA) – A new IssuesPA/Pew poll shows that close to half (49 percent) of all Pennsylvanians are dissatisfied with the direction of the state, compared to just 43 percent who are satisfied with the state’s direction. These are the most negative ratings recorded in an IssuesPA/Pew poll since August 2004. These results also show the widespread nature of the dissatisfaction – reaching more than 50 percent in four of the six regions in the state; only one month ago, dissatisfaction was over 50% in only one region.

The poll also shows that rising gas prices are one factor behind Pennsylvanians’ growing dissatisfaction. Mentions of high gas/fuel prices as the most important problem facing the state have doubled in the past month (13 percent now versus six percent in March).

Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) conducted the poll for IssuesPA, the non-partisan statewide awareness project focused on raising the issues most critical to Pennsylvania’s economic future. Funding for the survey was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The margin of error is plus/minus three percentage points.

Views of the Legislature
When asked for a one-word description that best describes the legislature, the largest number of Pennsylvanians (69 respondents) said, “greedy.” Though the top ten list of responses includes some positive or neutral words like “good,” “okay,” and “fair,” most have a negative connotation such as “crook,” “poor,” and “corrupt.”

Only a quarter (26 percent) of Pennsylvania residents feel they can trust the legislature to do what is right just about always or most of the time. Nearly seven in ten (67 percent) feel they can be trusted only some of the time or never.

Pennsylvanians’ negative perception of the legislature might carry over into this year’s elections, as two-thirds (66 percent) of voters say that an incumbent state legislator’s vote on the pay raise should be a very important issue in this year’s legislative elections

“The well-reported furor over the Legislative pay raise appears to be having a lasting effect,” said Larry Hugick of PSRAI. “Pennsylvanians express low confidence in the state legislature as whole but have more positive opinions of their own state representatives.

Education
Education has emerged as a key issue in the 2006 elections. Most voters (85 percent) say that making sure high school graduates have the skills they need for college or a career will be very important in determining their vote in the gubernatorial and legislative races this year. Eighty-one percent say that making sure children have a similar opportunity for a quality education regardless of where they live will be very important. Voters were asked to rate the importance of 30 different issues this spring. Only one other issue – providing health care for uninsured children – was rated “very important” by 80 percent or more of the respondents.

Across Pennsylvania, most residents (56 percent) agree that financing education should be the responsibility of the state government. However, a similar majority (53 percent) want local school officials to be in charge of ensuring that public schools provide a quality education.

Gubernatorial Race Still Wide Open
The poll asked Pennsylvania voters about their chances of voting for Ed Rendell and Lynn Swann in the November gubernatorial election. Based on their responses to two questions, three in 10 (30%) voters are likely to support Rendell, another three in 10 (29%) are likely support Swann, and four in 10 (40%) are classified as swing voters, not strongly committed to either candidate. The new poll shows more voters on the fence than the March 2006 poll; the number of swing voters has increased by six percentage points.

Other Findings
The IssuesPA/Pew poll also generated these findings:
* Three in four (75 percent) voters statewide say the candidates’ positions on how to best control state spending will be very important to their vote.
* More than two-thirds (71 percent) of voters say the candidates’ positions on how to best provide a tax system that is fair, adequate and pro-growth will be very important to their voting decision.
* About half (52 percent) think the issue of helping cities and towns solve their financial problems should be very important.
* Most Pennsylvanians (63 percent) do not think local communities without their own police department should be charged a service fee for state police protection.
* Residents have many reasons for disliking local property taxes. Even numbers of Pennsylvanians (21 percent) say their main complaint about property taxes is that they make home ownership unaffordable and don’t specifically take household income into account.
* In terms of reducing the property tax rates, the two least acceptable alternatives are expanding the state sales tax base (27 percent) and increasing the local wage tax (25 percent).
* More than a third of Pennsylvanians (38 percent) think that conditions affecting their region’s economic performance have gotten worse in the past four years.

“There are a number of issues that matter to Pennsylvanians, and many of them may be important factors in the 2006 elections,” said Steven Wray, Project Director of IssuesPA and Deputy Director of the Pennsylvania Economy League’s office in Philadelphia. “The candidates’ positions on taxes, jobs and education may be key in deciding what could be a very close race.”

About the Poll
The April 2006 IssuesPA/Pew Poll, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Economy League and The Pew Charitable Trusts, was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. Telephone interviews were conducted from April 17 – 26, 2006 with 1,503 Pennsylvania adults, age 18 and over, of which 1,191 identified themselves as registered voters. The results have been statistically weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The overall margin of sampling error for results is plus or minus three percentage points.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Agriculture Factoid: Two for the Price of One

According to the Department of Agriculture, there are 4,000 alpaca farms in the U.S. and the Commonwealth is home to 188 farms with 3,396 registered alpacas.

Also, Pennsylvania is home to 24 sod farms, totaling more than 2,100 acres grown.

Not so Much Turnover in the PA Leg

Here's a startling statistic, courtesty of Terry Madonna and Michael Young, of Franklin & Marshall College:

"The number one reason leaders in the Pennsylvania legislature leave office is retirement. This fact is unremarkable enough, but becomes more interesting if one looks at the number two, three and four reasons: number two is death; number three is resignation after legal problems; and number four -- and last -- is defeat at the polls."

Yikes!

Rendell Leads Swann in Latest Poll

Governor Ed Rendell has opened up a 55 – 33 percent lead over Republican "challenger" Lynn Swann, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. This compares to a 47 – 37 percent Rendell lead in an April 5th survey by the same polling organization. Let's hope those numbers will give Democratic challengers some help in the November general elections in legislative races.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Voters Split on East Falls And River Slot Parlor Sites

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- Two telephone public opinion polls conducted by Global Strategy Group, LLC on the attitudes of voters in the areas of Philadelphia being considered for casinos, commissioned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, were released today. One of the polls surveyed 600 voters in the neighborhoods surrounding the former Budd Plant site where Keystone Redevelopment Partners and majority partner Trump Entertainment Resorts (“Trump”) (NASDAQ NMS: TRMP) have an application pending. The second poll surveyed voters of the Delaware River area where there are four additional applicants vying for gaming licenses.

The results of the surveys showed that community support and opposition to be consistent surrounding the Budd Plant site and along the Delaware River, as less than half of the residents surrounding the former Budd Co. plant are opposed to the TrumpStreet Casino and Entertainment Complex (“TrumpStreet”) proposal. Additionally, the research found that a majority of residents who live in proximity to the Delaware River sites stand opposed to having two venues built in their area.

The research was conducted following the request of the Multi-Community Alliance, who asked representatives of TrumpStreet to conduct a poll to accurately gauge community sentiment towards the casino. The poll determined that 43% of those surveyed opposed building a casino, 44% favored and 13% were neutral or had no opinion. The Delaware River sites had approximately the same levels of opposition and support: 42% opposed, 45% favored and 13% were neutral or had no opinion.

Jefrey Pollock, President of Global Strategy Group, LLC said, "The data is very clear that support and opposition for the TrumpStreet Casino is virtually evenly split. There is no empirical evidence supporting the claims of the individuals opposing TrumpStreet that residents are overwhelmingly opposed."

Data from the TrumpStreet poll also revealed that African-Americans support the Trump casino application: 47% support, 40% oppose, with 13% having no opinion.

White voters, however, oppose the casino with 51% opposition, 38% support and 10% having no opinion. When asked what should be done at the Budd Company site, 21% of respondents stated a casino and entertainment complex, 13% wanted a shopping center and 12% preferred a park and recreation area.

When the 600 voters surveyed on the Delaware River areas were asked "Would you prefer that one casino be built along the Delaware River and one somewhere else in the City, or should both be built along the Delaware River, or should both be built somewhere else in the City?" Only 36% of those residents wanted to see both on the Delaware River. The remaining respondents wanted to see both casinos located elsewhere or preferred only one be built along the river.

Donald Trump, Chairman of Trump Entertainment Resorts, met with elected officials and neighborhood leaders to discuss the findings of the poll last week.

Mr. Trump said, "We are gaining momentum in educating the residents of the neighborhoods surrounding TrumpStreet as to the real story behind our application. We understand the challenges that will face our neighbors should we be successful and it is important that they know how hard we are working to address their concerns. This poll is proof our message is beginning to resonate and that residents are now beginning to separate myth from fact. ”

The Global Strategy Group poll was conducted between March 29 and April 5, 2006. The Trump Site survey was taken from a one and one-half mile radius of the location of the casino. The Delaware Avenue survey was taken in the First Councilmanic District

The overall margin of error is +/- 4% at the 95% confidence level for each survey.

Friday, May 05, 2006

May is Beef and Egg Month in Pennsylvania

Gov. Rendell has proclaimed May as Beef and Egg Month. There are 28,000 beef producers in our state, raising more than 1.6 million cattle and calves that contribute $1.76 billion dollars to the economy. More than 7,000 poultry producers raise 23 million hens that produce 6.5 billion eggs annually - adding $340 million to the economy.

Friday Agriculture Factoid

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, trout season kicked off in April and lasts through September. The Commonwealth is home to 42 commercial trout growers, ranking us fourth in the nation. 1.52 million pounds of trout valued at $4.81 million were sold last year.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

PhillyCarShare and City of Philadelphia Named Finalists for Harvard “Oscar”

PhillyCarShare’s groundbreaking car-reduction initiative with the City of Philadelphia is among 18 pioneering finalists for Harvard’s prestigious Innovations in American Government Award, the “Oscar” of American government.More than 1,000 forward-thinking programs from across the country submitted applications to compete for the seven final $100,000 prizes.

PhillyCarShare’s project is among “the best and brightest, and represents government’s great capacity for creating positive change and achieving results,” says Gowher Rizvi, Director of Harvard’s Ash Institute. The project “takes a creative approach to a significant problem and demonstrates that [the] solution works.”

PhillyCarShare and the City of Philadelphia teamed in 2004 to create the first system worldwide in which government employees and local residents would share vehicles by the hour in a major car-reduction effort. Advanced technology facilitates easy independent access to vehicles 24/7, automated cost allocation, and unprecedented superb accountability.

The pioneering project has leveraged the City’s elimination of 330 vehicles, saving taxpayers nearly $2 million annually. Philadelphia residents have sold or avoided purchasing another 1,500 vehicles through the program. They drive 9.9 million fewer miles per year; walk, bike, and take transit 37% more; and save about $6 million annually versus owning cars, according to detailed participant surveys. All participants pollute 90% less while driving PhillyCarShare’s hybrid gas-electric vehicles.

The prize money is awarded specifically to support winning programs in the teaching of their model to other jurisdictions. “By celebrating and disseminating this kind of creative thinking at all levels of government, the awards program helps turn innovative ideas into commonly accepted practices,” said Patricia McGinnis, President of the Council for Excellence in Government.

Stephen Goldsmith, Director of the Innovations in American Government Awards at the Ash Institute says, “When you learn about the variety of programs, the range of problems they tackle, and the creative ways they do it, it gives you a renewed confidence in the quality and commitment of our public servants. By shining a bright light on these innovators, we hope to encourage others in government to follow their amazing lead.”

Winners will be selected later this month following presentations they will make to the National Selection Committee at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on May 25, 2006. The seven final winners will be announced on July 10 at a dinner ceremony in Washington, D.C., during the 2006 Excellence in Government Conference.

PhillyCarShare is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 by five local Philadelphians, operates a rapidly growing fleet of hybrids, wagons, and fun vehicle models from 40+ locations in central Philadelphia and Mt. Airy. Each member receives a personal key and 24-hour access to the entire fleet. Then driving is easy: reserve online, hop in, and go! Affordable hourly and mileage rates cover gas, premium insurance, and reserved parking. Members enjoy the convenience of driving, without the hassles of ownership.

The Innovations in American Government Awards, founded in 1986, is a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The award is administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government in Washington.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Autobiography Project

The Autobiography Project is a public program that encourages Philadelphians to submit their own memoirs using no more than 300 words. At the close of the project, selected entries will be published in bus shelters throughout the City. The goal is the get Philadelphians writing and to have these stories be visible in public areas. The project launched on April 5th and ends on May 17, but the posters will be displayed throughout the summer.

For more info, check out their website. The Autobiography Project is being presented by 2 non-profit groups - the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary and One Book, One Philadelphia.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Philadelphia International Airport Shows Strong Growth

Philadelphia International Airport led North America in 2005 in passenger-traffic growth, with a record 31.5 million passengers getting on or off flights. That’s 10.5 percent more than in 2004, according to statistics released by the Airports Council International - North America.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Friday Agriculture Factoid

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Spring is the peak season for foaling. This year, the PA thoroughbred horse racing industry is anticipating the birth of 1,200 to 1,400 foals and the harness racing industry expects 1,000 standardbred foals. PA is home to more than 600 farms breeding racehorses, including the world’s largest standardbred farm, Hanover Shoe Farms in York Co.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Chestnut Hill College buying Sugar Loaf

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Chestnut Hill College plans to buy Sugar Loaf and expand its campus and student body; Sugar Loaf is an estate across the street from their campus in the “far northwest” section of Philadelphia. The College’s plans for growth began in 2003 when it went co-ed. Since then, enrollment almost doubled to 625 full-time undergraduates from 312. The school is projecting 700 full-time undergraduates for next year and has a goal of growing to 1,500 undergrads by 2012. The school's plans for the estate include using the existing mansion for conference/classroom space and the small hotel’s 32 overnight rooms for student accommodations. It would also look to construct additional student housing. It already has plans for a new residence hall that would cost up to $12 million to build and house up to 200 students. That building is expected to open in 2008.

Friday, April 21, 2006

PHA Receives Honor

The National Association of Homebuilders has recognized the Philadelphia Housing Authority's Martin Luther King development in South Philadelphia as this year's "Best Affordable Apartment Community."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More Condos: Near Chinatown this Time

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Pearl Condominiums will be constructed on what is now a surface parking lot on the fringes of Chinatown at 9th and Arch streets. The six-story facility will include 90 units, 10 retail spaces and a 120-space parking lot. Project completion expected by July 2007.

Thornburgh Leaving Economy League to Head National Group

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Thornburgh - executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League's Southeast office since 1994 – is moving on to become president and chief executive officer of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, which will be relocated to Philadelphia. The mission of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship is to foster collaborative multi-sector (government, business, & non-profit) regional stewardship as a means for advancing economic, social, and environmental progress, while maintaining a sense of place, in America’s metropolitan regions.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Funny Bumper Sticker

Seen on a Prius driving towards the City on Kelly Drive:

"Never Thought I'd Miss Nixon"

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Eggselent

According to the Department of Agriculture, our state produces more than 6.5 billion eggs annually, ranking us third in the nation. An average of 23 million hens produce approximately 300 eggs each year, for a total value of almost $340 million annually, and that's no yoke.

Mayoral Campaign Contribution Limits

Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial
April 14, 2006
Don't evade; reform

The city's would-be mayoral candidates should stop thumbing their noses at Philadelphia's new limits on campaign contributions. If it takes a court battle to make them mind their manners, so be it.

Thanks to a government watchdog group, the Committee of Seventy, that court fight has been joined.

On Tuesday, a member of that group filed suit against six men regarded as likely contenders for Mayor Street's job next year. A second lawsuit, filed Wednesday by Councilman Michael A. Nutter - the only candidate fully abiding by the donor limits - turns up the heat [emphasis added].

According to Nutter, nearly $1 million in combined over-the-limit donations have been raised by the targets of his lawsuit: U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.), former City Controller Jonathan A. Saidel, and electricians union chief John Dougherty. In its lawsuit, Seventy named those four, as well as Nutter and self-financed millionaire candidate Tom Knox.

The best outcome of the suits would be for the courts to clarify when the city's limits kick in. Is it only upon a candidate's formal declaration, or when any exploratory committee begins raising funds?

But the suits could backfire. There's the risk a court could find fatal flaws in the city's 2003 law, which capped annual giving by individuals at $2,500 per candidate and $10,000 for political committees. When the law was enacted, critics contended it was preempted by the state election code, which sets no donation limits.

It would better to get voluntary compliance with the limits, avoiding a court fight. The likely candidates who are evading the limits contend the delay of their formal announcements gives them leeway.

This may be technically accurate. From the standpoint of good government and citizen confidence, though, it stinks. Philadelphia needs politicians who aspire to uphold higher standards, not to finagle technicalities.

Remember the backdrop to this campaign reform: the city's pay-to-play political culture, where big donors often are rewarded with city business. A federal probe of City Hall has tripped up two dozen people - including Councilman Rick Mariano, convicted in March.

Whatever loopholes are in the campaign law, its spirit is crystal clear: Candidates should not take large sums from contributors, because that piles up the political debts that spawn pay-to-play and erode confidence in government. That's why city business leaders and the Philadelphia Bar Association urged their colleagues not to give more than the limits.

How can candidates claim to be all about cleaning up City Hall when their campaigns are perpetuating a key flaw of pay-to-play politics?

How Refreshing

"I’m just not qualified. You’re mistaking celebrity for credibility.”

A quote from Martin Sheen, explaining why he turned down an offer to run for the U.S. Senate from his native Ohio after the show ends, from the New York Times on 4/10/06.

Philadelphia: We'll Be OK When the Oil Crisis Hits

Philadelphia ranks fifth among the 50 largest U.S. cities in terms of our preparedness to cope in the event of an oil crisis, according to SustainLane - a website focused on sustainable living. Cities were ranked by commuting patterns, availability of public transportation, sprawl, congestion, local food and wireless network access. Also, Philadelphia was the #1 city for the highest combined per capita rate of farmers markets and community gardens.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Register to Vote!!

Monday, April 17 is the last day to register to vote in the May 16 primary. Go to the Commwealth's website for more information.

Governor Rendell Likes PhillyCarShare

Philadelphia’s favorite and only vehicle sharing provider - PhillyCarShare - has won the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, which honors Pennsylvania businesses and organizations for implementing programs that address environmental problems in ways that stimulate the economy, enhance revenues and engage citizens in a renewed commitment to community investment.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Meet Councilman Michael Nutter

Michael A. Nutter was elected to City Council in 1991, and is now serving his fourth term. He represents the 4th District which includes the neighborhoods of Wynnefield, Overbrook, Roxborough, Manayunk, East Falls and parts of North Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and West Mount Airy. And, he has served as the 52nd Ward Democratic Leader since 1990.

In 2001, Michael Nutter was appointed to the Board of City Trusts. The Board of City Trusts manages all money or other property left to the City of Philadelphia. The Board administers over 110 separate trusts for a wide variety of charitable purposes, the most significant being Girard College and the Wills Eye Hospital.

Michael Nutter also serves as Chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority Board. He was appointed to this position in February 2003. As chairman, he crafted a pivotal labor- management agreement which was signed July 2003; and, he is now spearheading a $630 million expansion project for the Center. Under his leadership, the Convention Center has recruited professional, experienced management staff; increased bookings; and, created a business-like environment for convention customers and attendees.

Prior to his public service, Michael Nutter worked as an investment manager at Pryor, Counts & Co., Inc., specializing in municipal finance.

Michael Nutter was born and raised in West Philadelphia. He graduated from Saint Joseph's Preparatory High School in 1975, and from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in 1979. He resides in Wynnefield with his wife, Lisa, and daughter, Olivia, who attends a Philadelphia public school. His son, Christian, lives and works in New Jersey. Michael Nutter is a member of the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.

The following is an abbreviated list of affiliations:

• Black Elected Officials of Philadelphia, Vice-Chair
• African-American Democratic Ward Leaders of Philadelphia, Vice-Chair
• Leadership, Inc., Graduate 1988
• Urban League Leadership Institute, Graduate 1989
• Southern Africa - United States Center for Leadership and Public Values (operated by University of Cape Town and
Duke University), Fellow of the Emerging Leaders Program, 2004-2005
• Philadelphia Outward Bound Center, Founding member
• City Year Philadelphia, Boardmember
• Gesu School, Boardmember
• Governor's Commission on College & Career Success, Commissioner

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Penn Breaks Wind...Purchasing Record, that is

According to KYW, Penn - currently the largest university buyer of wind energy in the nation - will be tripling its purchasing volume. In the future, Penn will buy 112,000 mega-watt hours annually from state wind farms

Commonwealth Posts Record Breaking Tourism Year

Pennsylvania’s travel industry sold a record 26.2 million hotel rooms in 2005, according to Smith Travel Research. The number was 2% more than 2004 and five percent more than in 2000, the industry’s benchmark year.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Good Government Forum

There's going to be a "Good Government" panel discussion on April 11th. This forum will be held between 6:30 and 8:00 pm at Huntsman Hall (main auditorium) 38th and Walnut, UPenn campus, Philadelphia.

The panelists are:

State Representative Greg Vitali who will speak on "campaigning with integrity."

Marian Schneider, a CPL fellow, attorney and cofounder of the Chester County chapter of the Coalition for Voting Integrity, will focus on the problems with electronic voting machines.

Councilman Michael Nutter who will speak about ethics reform and integrity of elected officials once in office.

Zack Stalberg, CEO of the Committee of Seventy, will moderate the panel discussion.

The Center for Progressive Leadership - a co-sponsor of this forum - believes that government should be a powerful force for creating justice and equity in our society. Your participation in this forum will ensure that the emerging political leaders in Pennsylvania will have the necessary tools and knowledge of this topic to further the cause of good government.

The event is co-sponsored by the Fels Institute. (See http://www.fels.upenn.edu/

Friday Agriculture Factoid

Over 2 million acres of crops will be planted this Spring across the Commonwealth's 7.7 million acres of farmland. This includes wheat, corn, oats, barley, sorghum and soybeans. Farmers are predicted to plant 450,000 acres of soybeans, which will be the highest soybean planting in state history. This is good news, as I'm a vegetarian and depend on soy products for sustenance.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

But of Course: Rendell Leads

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Governor Rendell has a ten percentage point lead over Republican challenger Lynn Swann - 47% to 37%. Relatedly, Pennsylvania created 60,000 new jobs last year - the highest annual increase in five years - according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Philadelphia added nearly 21,000 net new jobs, a five-year high. Here's the thing...Eddie's doing a great job; the State's economy and employment is healthier than it's been in years, tourism is up, and government efficiency is peaking. His opponent has no experience, no vision, and no plan. In the end, we'll have four more years of the most effective governor Pennsylvania has seen in decades.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Toyota to Introduce Hybrid Technology to Entire Lineup

According to the Associated Press, Toyota plans to introduce hybrid technology across its entire lineup. The manufacturer has a goal of 1 million hybrids sold globally by 2012. In order to use the technology in less-expensive models, Toyota is concentrating on lowering production costs and will strive to keep the price differential between hybrid and conventional cars to less than $2,550.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Regional Choice Policy Article from the Public School Notebook

Families in Center City Region gain priority in applying to schools within region next year.
Transfers within regions get preference, new policy says
By Paul Socolar
A controversial new policy on student transfers adopted by the School Reform Commission may make it easier next year for families in the District’s Center City Region to gain admission to any of the elementary schools in the region. A 3-2 SRC vote in February gave priority to pupil transfer requests that are within a region over transfers from outside. The vote left advocates for educational equity troubled that the District has not adequately addressed questions about who might lose access to Center City schools and whether the policy is fair to all regions. Center City has been the focus of discussion about the new transfer policy. The regional preference policy, as written, applies districtwide, but District officials say it will be implemented first in the Center City Region. It was strongly advocated by the Center City District, a community development corporation that was also influential in the District’s decision to create a Center City Region. In Philadelphia, students within a neighborhood school’s immediate catchment area are always guaranteed a seat. Under the old admissions policies, transfer applicants from the rest of the city competed on an equal footing for any remaining seats – normally through a lottery – no matter how far away they might live. The new policy states that the remaining seats at a school will go first to student transfers under the No Child Left Behind law’s school choice provisions. NCLB allows students to transfer out of certain schools that have been identified as needing improvement or persistently dangerous. Next in line for transfer slots are students transferring from other schools within the same region. Any remaining slots at schools will be open to students transferring from outside the region. Under School District desegregation guidelines, transfers are limited when they harm a school’s racial balance. In voting against the regional choice resolution, Commissioner Sandra Dungee Glenn argued that the District should first address the factors that are causing families from some regions to flock to other regions like Center City. Dungee Glenn said that until there is greater equity in educational quality among regions, it is unfair to narrow the options of families that feel they cannot find a good school option close to home. “We have some real disparities. There are many more of what I as a parent would consider good choices in some of our regions than in others,” Dungee Glenn explained. Len Rieser, co-director of the Education Law Center, who testified on the policy to the School Reform Commission, commented, “If we’re going to move to a system of regional choice, we need to look closely at the extent to which the regions offer equitable opportunities across the city, and that has not been done.” “No data was shared publicly until two days before the policy was adopted, and the data that was shared didn’t begin to address the issues this policy poses,” Rieser added. Defending the new transfer policy, CEO Paul Vallas pointed out that the Center City Region’s boundaries are broad and the population reflects that of the District as a whole. He cited a number of steps the District has taken to equalize resources between regions, including mandating extended day, accelerated and gifted programs in every school. He pointed to his administration’s commitment to providing quality options in every neighborhood by “mandating that each region have anywhere from three to six accelerated academies.” But a District chart on its “accelerated academies” – new magnet programs for K-8 students that are now being planned in over 40 schools – provided support for Dungee Glenn’s argument. While still more accelerated academies are to be identified, only one school has been identified for an academy in the Central Region in North Philadelphia, whereas the Center City Region has eight schools already named as accelerated academy sites. Dungee Glenn is pushing to amend the new transfer policy to couple it with a new commitment to equalization among the regions. The new transfer policy does not affect any students who are already enrolled, and sibling preference will continue to be offered in the transfer process. But some predict a significant change in enrollment at a few Center City elementary schools that now attract large numbers of transfer applications from across the city. At Greenfield School on 22nd and Chestnut, two-thirds of the students transfer in from other regions. At Meredith on 5th and Fitzwater, 47% of students are from outside the region. The Center City Region is the region with the highest overall percentage of K-8 students coming from outside it. District data show that 1,621 students in the Center City Region – more than one-third of its K-8 students – have transferred in from other regions. The data indicate that many of these students are transferring in from schools that have been chronically low-performing. Less than a tenth of the K-8 students in the region are transfers from elsewhere within the region. At the February 8 SRC meeting, proponents offered a variety of arguments for giving families within a region preference in transfers over those coming from outside:
• The president of the Center City District, Paul Levy, stressed the importance to Philadelphia’s viability of keeping the booming population of young professionals in Center City. He pointed to research projecting a 43 percent increase in the number of school-age children in Center City and predicted that with this new transfer policy providing a greater array of public school choices within Center City, “we’ll have a dramatic increase in parents who are choosing public schools.”
• Jeff Friedman, co-chair of the East Falls Schools Committee, suggested that the regional choice approach could provide a basis for building stronger school-community partnerships in every region. “Proximity between families, students and their schools fosters a sense of community and mutual accountability that is diminished if not eviscerated if students travel long distances to schools that their families never get to,” he noted. Friedman said that a model of structured partnerships involving businesses, communities and schools was emerging in Center City that should be replicated as part of a regional choice program in each region.
• Three McCall parents said that Center City preference would boost parental involvement at their Society Hill school. “We need parents that will show up to plant flowers, to control the chaotic playground and the newly erected jungle gym, to discuss how McCall will make AYP this year and every year after,” said parent Mary Jo Cannon. “We are convinced that if more local parents had a better chance of sending their children to McCall, the numbers of involved families would increase.” The neighborhood choice policy applies only to grades K-8, but CEO Vallas says he would support 25 percent regional set-asides at some of the District’s new high schools, though not at established special admissions schools such as Central and Masterman. “The regions want local set-asides, even for some of their new high schools,” Vallas stated. The Center City Region will see three new high schools with high-profile partners opening in the fall: one in partnership with the Franklin Institute, one with the National Constitution Center, and one (the Academy at Palumbo) with Central High School.
Contact editor Paul Socolar at 215-951-0330 x107 or pauls@thenotebook.org

www.thenotebook.org/editions/2006/spring/transfers04.htm

Representative Cohen: Poster Boy for Term-Limits

I don’t usually go in for populist policy initiatives, but I’ve become a big fan of term-limits for elected officials, both legislators and executives. Twelve years seems about right to me; you shouldn’t need any more than that. If you’re good, you’ll run for something else and win. To me, Representative Cohen is a poster child for why we need term-limits. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “over the last two years, the state has reimbursed the veteran legislator $28,200 on bookstore spending sprees.” Cohen has been in office an astounding 28 years, and doesn’t have a primary challenger this year…the Democratic machine made sure of that. Further, “Cohen's book bill for 2004 and 2005 is more than what the Philadelphia School District spent to stock library shelves at the two high schools and two middle schools in his legislative district. The four schools, which have a combined enrollment of 5,000 students, spent $21,600 on books and periodicals in that two-year period, officials said.” Wow…you’ve got to give the man credit for having chutzpa. Why the heck the state even has a reimbursement program for these kinds of purchases is another issue. I feel sorry for the people of Logan and Olney who have to suffer through this kind of representation; a legislator so aloof and arrogant that he thinks this kind of profligate spending on reading materials is acceptable.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Agricultural Factoid: Baseball Edition

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the Commonwealth produces 75% of the American White Ash wood in Louisville Sluggers, which are used by most major league players. Further - BWP Bats - in Brookville, makes approximately 3,000 bats per week, including the one used by Johnny Damon of the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Another Philadelphia Organization You Might Not Have Heard About

The Philadelphia-based OMG Center for Collaborative Learning is an independent nonprofit research and consulting outfit. They work with philanthropic, nonprofit and governmental organizations across the country. Founded in 1988, the Center has maintained a focus on public and urban policy issues, emphasizing organizational capacity building, program assessment and evaluation, data and trend analysis, and grants management and intermediary support.

John Dougherty's Stool is Falling Down

Dan at Young Philly Politics has a great post today on the rise and fall of John Dougherty.

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