Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mariano & Dougherty: Puppet and Master?

According to a December 25, 2005 Inquirer piece (authored by staff writers John Shiffman and Michael Currie Schaffer), recently indicted Councilman Rick Mariano and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“IBEW”) leader John Dougherty had an “interesting” relationship. A couple of the aspects of this relationship – according to FBI documents – are as follows:

  • Councilman Mariano didn’t even hire his own chief-of-staff, a political operative for “Johnny Doc’s” electricians' union (Local 98) took care of it. Amazingly - according to FBI documents – the indicted Councilman met his new top aide when his chief-of-staff reported for his first day of work.
  • Another Mariano aide told the FBI that he regularly briefed Johnny Doc "on all legislative, political and administrative activities that were going on within Mariano's office." "Whatever we know...is passed to Dougherty," the aide told agents.

According to campaign finance records, Local 98’s political action committee has been Mariano's largest contributor; Mariano's campaign has received $452,000 since 1998 - a third of all money raised and nine times the amount from the next largest contributor, Mayor Street's campaign fund.

Many speculate that Dougherty is interested in a run for Mayor in 2007, but – if the FBI’s characterization of this relationship with Mariano is accurate – he’ll be running, but only from his record. The drumbeat for a more ethical and effective government will only get louder as the Mayoral election approaches and it appears as though Mr. Dougherty is marching to a different beat.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from the staff at AHT. This photo was taken during the summer at Rickett's Glen State Park in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. It's a reminder that some of the most beautiful things (and people) are very close by.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Pennsylvania Agriculture Industry: More Random Facts - Holiday Edition

As AHT readers already know, Pennsylvania leads the nation in terms of Christmas farms; here's some more interesting, related info. According to the Pennsylvania State Data Center, the Commonwealth ranked fourth in number of acres devoted to Christmas tree ("holiday tree" if you're waging a war on Christmas) production (44,905) and fourth (1,724,419) in the number of trees harvested in 2002. Berks County hosted the most Christmas tree farms in Pennsylvania (114), while Schuylkill County had the largest acreage (4,064) devoted to Christmas tree production. The Christmas tree's little sister - the poinsettia - is also a significant part of our agriculture economy. There were 140 poinsettia producers in Pennsylvania in 2004, many more than our closest competitor, New York (104). The Commonwealth ranked sixth in the nation in both production of potted poinsettias ($3.7 million) and value of sales ($13.5 million wholesale) in 2004.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Why People Choose to Live Where they Do

The Metropolitan Philadelphia Indicators Project (MPIP") surveyed 1,000 residents from the Philadelphia region to ask them what factors they considered when deciding where to live. Results from the 2004 survey are presented in this chart. For individuals (as opposed to businesses), it’s apparent that taxes are not a primary factor driving relocation decisions. Rather, safety, value of the housing dollar, and school quality are factors given the greatest weight. But maybe that's too simplified. Maybe individuals articulate their primary motivations for living in one place or another differently than businesses, but are essentially expressing the same concerns; people - like businesses - place a great importance on getting value for their money or retaining wealth. For individuals, considerations are broader - they want schools, safety, quality of life, etc. Businesses, while their constituent workers may value the things that individuals do, are more narrowly focused on profits and the bottom line. So, I wouldn't conclude that taxes aren't important to individuals, the concern about value just manifests itself differently than in businesses. In the end, the concerns of businesses and individuals meld together; we as a City need to think about ways to create incentives for both to stay in Philadelphia, whether it be through targeted tax reductions/reform or enhanced services. The MPIP is administered by Temple University.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pennsylvania Agriculture Industry Leadership: Philadelphia Grown

Candace Moore, a 2005 graduate of Saul High School, was elected president of Pa.FFA (formerly the Pennsylvania chapter of Future Farmers of America). She is the first African-American female to serve as president of the 8,000-member organization. Candace has deferred her college career for a year as she represents Pa.FFA as its leader. Saul is Philadelphia's unique and successful agricultural high school. The photo above is of Saul's expansive campus in the Upper Roxborough section of Philadelphia.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

This is Just Cool

Thanks to Philadelphia Forward, anybody with Internet access can text message their Councilperson; talk about direct democracy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More Random Facts About the Commonwealth's Agriculture Industry

According to the Commonwealth's Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania is the number one state in the nation for Christmas tree farms, with 2,164. In 2003, approximately 723,000 trees were sold, generating $13.9 million in profit, ranking PA fourth in the country for revenue related to Christmas tree sales. Actually, Indiana County is often referred to as the "Christmas Tree Capital of the World."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Giving the Gift of Mean this Holiday Season

Representative Scott Boyd (R – Lancaster) is drafting an amendment to the Pennsylvania State Constitution that would deny gay/lesbian families legal recognition. Four other representatives have already signed on to this proposal called the “Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment”. On December 6, the Pennsylvania Family Institute sent an email urging their members to contact state legislators to support this amendment. If you’re not a homophobe, please contact your state representative and ask them to actively oppose this mean-spirited legislative initiative. By the way, homophobes in the legislature have already established in Pennsylvania law a prohibition against gay/lesbian marriage; this amendment is not necessary, and is only designed to add insult to injury.

If you’re heterosexual, the “Marriage Protection Amendment” would affect your family as well – not just families with same-sex partners. For example:

  • In Ohio, courts have ruled that unmarried people, including unmarried heterosexual couples, may not seek protection from abuse orders.
  • In Michigan, groups are challenging domestic partner benefits for employees.
  • Virginia’s recently enacted amendment is so broad that it may interfere with the rights of all Virginians to create wills, medical directives, powers of attorney, child custody and property arrangements, and even joint bank accounts.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Robert Reich: How Unequal Can America Get Before We Snap?

Robert Reich was the 22nd Secretary of Labor. During his tenure, he implemented the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), advocated against sweatshops in the U.S. and illegal child labor abroad, and spearheaded the Clinton administration’s successful effort to increase the minimum wage, among many successful initiatives. I’ve become a fan of his NPR spots and also just listened to a lecture he gave in Berkley entitled “How Unequal Can America Get Before We Snap”, which I recommend.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Pennslvania Agriculture Industry: Blue Chippers

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Commowealth chipmakers Utz Quality Foods and Herr Foods are leaders in the Baltimore/Washington and Philadelphia markets, respectively. According to recent analyses of supermarket sales, totals for both companies ranked #1 in each market over the national leader, Frito-Lay.

BPT and the Chamber: Let's Seek Quid Pro Quo

Why not ask the Chamber of Commerce - as the organization ostensibly representing Philadelphia-area businesses - to put their money where their mouth is in terms of the argument that Business Privilege Tax ("BPT") cuts translate into increased employment, business expansion, and economic opportunity. Let's ask them - in exchange for BPT reduction or elimination - to create a quantitative, measurable array of economic benefits (e.g., more jobs) for the City of Philadelphia. A continued program of tax reduction could be tied to the prior period's performance (three to five years?). If positive results were not achieved, there'd be no further tax cuts, if job creation goals were achieved, then the tax cutting program would continue. This concept would be an expansion of the more targeted job creation tax credit programs that Councilman Goode has championed. Could it work?
Thanks to A Smoke Filled Room for helping to refine this concept.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

We Already Knew: Downtowns are Back

There’s a new report by the Brookings Institution that confirms what downtown boosters have known for years: downtowns are back – in a big way – as high-end residential and entertainment districts. The report also has some general advice for city leaders: it finds a “relationship between density and the ability to attract downtown residents.” The import of this finding is that cities should not build communities and housing that looks and feels suburban. That is, if people want suburban living, they’ll live there. Downtown residents are a different species; they want density, sidewalk dining, action, buses, culture, honking horns, and bikes on the sidewalk. In short, they want urban life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Homegrown Energy Solutions from the Rendell Administration

Governor Rendell has been aggressive in developing homegrown energy solutions. His efforts include:

  • The East Coast’s first commercially viable biofuels storage and blending system in Middletown, Dauphin County. The plant will replace 3.2 million gallons of foreign oil with domestically produced biodiesel and will keep about $6 million worth of energy dollars in the commonwealth by reducing the state’s need to purchase imported fuels.

  • The nation’s first-ever waste-coal-to-diesel plant and creation of a fuel consortium that will purchase nearly all of the cheaper, cleaner, diesel fuel that will be produced at the Schuylkill County facility. The plant, which is being built by Waste Management and Processors Inc. of Gilberton, Schuylkill County, will use waste coal to produce as much as 40 million gallons of clean-burning diesel annually. Construction will create as many as 1,000 jobs. Operating the plant will produce another 600 permanent, high-paying, positions. The company expects to break ground and start construction as early as spring of 2006.

  • The Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grant Program, which funds projects that build markets for advanced and renewable energy technologies that use biomass, wind, solar, small-scale hydroelectric, landfill methane, energy efficiency, coal-bed methane and waste coal. The program has awarded $10 million and leveraged another $26.7 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003.

  • The Renewable Agricultural Energy Council, which focuses on developing and expanding agricultural energy industries in Pennsylvania. Renewable agricultural energy has the potential to support and grow the agriculture industry by providing as many as 64,000 additional jobs. Renewable agricultural energy can help diversify agricultural activities and stimulate the growth of crops that strengthen the agriculture industry.

  • Expansion of the state’s Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program, which invests in enhancing the infrastructure necessary to expand the state’s capacity to produce alternative fuels. AFIG also helps residents purchase alternative-fuel vehicles and finances related fuel projects to create new markets that can have measurable impacts on pollution reduction, environmental protection and economic growth.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Philadelphia Marathon Breaks Participation Record

Last weekend’s 12th annual Philadelphia Marathon was the largest ever, with 1,500 more runners than last year. The event is ranked among the top 20 marathons in the nation. Of note, the women’s division winner was a local, Emily Kroshus – age 22 - of Manayunk.

Instead of TABOR...

What would be a responsible plan for imposing spending caps on state spending?

If legislators are serious about capping spending, they should tell the public where state spending should be reduced and then they should seek to enact such spending cuts when they vote on the annual state budget.

Before locking the Commonwealth into spending cuts with unknown consequences, the General Assembly should hold public hearings on any spending cap proposal they are considering. So far the House and Senate have not held a single public hearing on any spending cap proposal. They have already taken votes on these important legislative proposals without one opportunity for the public to comment on or question the cap proposals. Hearings would allow the Administration and citizens affected by state programs to discuss the impact that caps could have on the Commonwealth’s goals to increase educational attainment, accelerate economic growth, enhance environmental protection, and protect public health.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Hybrid Technology for the Home

The Braintree Electric Light Department in Massachusetts is launching a pilot program to test new “mini-power plants”; natural gas-powered hybrid energy systems that can be installed in private homes. The units generate enough electricity and heat to satisfy a household’s daily needs. These systems produce electricity more than twice as efficiently as an average power plant and are already used – where else - in Japan and parts of Europe.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Is PA Spending Out of Control?

No. In 2003 (the most recent year for which Federal data is available), Pennsylvania ranked 26th in spending per capita, slightly below the average for all 50 states.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

TABOR? Why Not Just Follow the Constitution?

Article 8, Section 13 of Pennsylvania's state Constitution requires a balanced budget. The Constitution states that the General Assembly shall not make appropriations that exceed actual and estimated revenues and surplus available in the same fiscal year. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania cannot adopt a budget that exceeds its revenues.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Turkeys in the Commonwealth: The Legislature

So, some in the State Legislature would like to pass a "Taxpayers' Bill of Rights" bill that would limit budget expenditures to inflationary levels. What has our fiscally prudent legislature been doing over the past three budget years to reduce its spending? Nada mucho. Between the 2002-03 and 2005-06 fiscal years, the Legislature has increased its budget by nearly 35% – from $252.4 million to $340.4 million. This compares to 5% annual growth in the overall budget, and a 9% cut imposed by Governor Rendell on state agency operating budgets. The message? "Do as we say, not as we do".

Turkeys in the Commonwealth: Not the Legislature

The Commonwealth ranks 9th nationally in turkey production, with 9.5 million birds raised on PA's 704 turkey farms. The average market price for a turkey was 47 cents per pound, making turkey production a $101.4 million industry in our state.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ethics/Reform Movement Presses On

From the Committee of 70, "Members of the Law and Government Committee voted today to push forward six pieces of ethics-related legislation with minor amendments. The bills now move to the floor of the entire Council where members will have the opportunity to take the next step in ethics reform and answer the voices of the voters who made it clear on November 8th that they want change."

Germantown Condomania

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Westrum Development Corporation has preliminary plans to build between 200 and 400 townhouses on a portion of Germantown Community Health Services' campus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Benefit Bank

The Benefit Bank is a web-based software program – developed by Solutions for Progress (a Philadelphia-based company) - that helps low and moderate income individuals apply for benefits and tax credits that they and their families qualify for. Billions of dollars go unclaimed because applying for state/federal benefits are time-consuming and confusing; this program aims to lower the barriers to application.

University City Condomania

According to the University City District, the Hanover Company (out of Houston) has broken ground on a project they’re calling “Domus” (that's a Roman word for “house”). It’s a $71 million project that will include 290 luxury homes and will rise eight stories on a former surface parking lot at 34th and Chestnut.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Philadelphia Public School Notebook

For those who want to know more about what's going on in the Philadelphia School District - arguably the entity most integral to our City's long-term social and economic success - might AHT recommend The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, which, according to their website is "an independent quarterly newspaper that serves as a voice for parents, students, teachers, and other members of the community who are working for quality and equality in Philadelphia's public schools."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pennsylvania’s Agriculture Economy

The National Agriculture Statistics Service recently released information about Pennsylvania farmers' 2004 cash receipts. Milk accounted for 36.4% of the $4.9 billion in gross sales across the Commonwealth. Rounding out the top five were cattle/calves with 9.5% of sales, greenhouse & nursery products 8.8%, Agaricus mushrooms 7.8%, and eggs 7%. Broilers, hogs, corn, hay and turkeys occupied the remaining top ten positions. Other commodities were each less than 1% of the total gross sales.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Victory for Nutter and the City of Philadelphia

Councilman Nutter’s ethics reform ballot initiative passed yesterday by a 6-to-1 ratio, the largest margin for such a measure in 15 years. The huge margin of victory dispels two myths:

(1) That Philadelphians don’t want an ethical, reform-oriented government; they clearly expect it, and

(2) That Councilman Nutter is a “lone wolf” and that he has no political base. From getting this measure through Council to galvanizing overwhelming public support at the polls, Councilman Nutter has shown himself to be quite adept at both the “inside” and “outside” components of the local political game.

Did You Know? Random PA Factoid

The Commonwealth's hardwoods and forest products industry generates $5.5 billion in sales annually, according to the PA Department of Agriculture. There are 16.7 million acres of forests in Pennsylvania, covering 58% of the state. This industry is growing in PA, with increasing lumber, paper and log exports, along with secondary wood products such as cabinets and flooring. Fortunately, because PA is a national leader in implementing sustainable forestry practices, our forests will continue to be a great resource for future generations, both economically, for recreation, and for the flora and fauna that live there.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Center City Hotel Occupancy Strong in September

Center City hotels had a 78.8% occupancy rate in September, up 12.3% from the same month in 2004. Year-to-date, Center City hotels are up 4.5% over 2004. RevPAR (i.e., "revenue per available room") is up 12.8% this year so far, according to Smith Travel Research. Some of this improved performance is attributable to the conversion of over 1,000 hotel rooms to condos.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Comcast Center Update

Two new tenants have signed leases at the Comcast Center, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. TelAmerica Media, a cable-industry "media aggregator" serving 72 million households, has leased a 24,000 square foot floor. Center City Film & Video will occupy 11,000 square feet. Comcast is leasing 39 floors - according to the developer - Liberty Property Trust. The building - now 70% leased - is scheduled to open in Fall 2007.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

How Philly Works

Two remaining sessions in "How Philly Works" cover how the Philadelphia Department of Streets (Nov. 10) and the Department of Public Health (Nov. 17) use Geographic Imaging Systems ("GIS") technology to provide basic city services. The presentations will take place at 5:00 p.m. at the Atwater Kent Museum, 15 South 7th Street. There is no cost. For more information, call (215) 685-4830. This is a great opportunity for residents to get some insight into the vast array of services that the City of Philadelphia provides - competently and professionally - to its residents.

Rittenhouse Hotel Receives Honor

The Rittenhouse Hotel ranked #38 in Conde Nast's "Readers Choice Awards" of the top 75 U.S. hotels, as revealed in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler. Last year, the Rittenhouse was #68.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

New Center City Retail

According to the Center City District, a slew of new retailers have recently located in Center City, are planning to open or are reporting to be looking for space, including:
  • Del Frisco steakhouse will open its 7th U.S. location at the former Jack Kellmer store on the 700 block of Chestnut.
  • Barney's Co-op and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa are committed to a new—unidentified—building near Rittenhouse Square.
  • BCBG is coming to 1601 Walnut St., L’Occitane to 1606 and American Apparel to 1611.
  • Theory, Club Monaco, Levi, and Sephora, the cosmetics giant, are reported scouting for locations.
  • South Moon Under, a women's retailer, is committed for the 1700 block of Chestnut.
  • BoConcept, a furniture retailer, is opening later this year at 1719 Chestnut St.
  • Capogiro, the gelati place on 13th, is opening a second location at 20th and Sansom.
  • Estia, a new restaurant, is now open at the former Toto's location on Locust Street.
  • West Elm furnishings is opening in mid-December on East Chestnut; Lucky Strike bowling will open at the same building in the spring.
  • Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a furniture retailer, has opened at 1308 Chestnut.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Nutter Bill would Promote Interests of Philadelphia Construction Workers

Councilman Nutter is sponsoring an ordinance - #050950 - that would amend Chapter 17-1000 of The Philadelphia Code and is entitled "Employment of Low-And Moderate-Income Persons by City Contractors." If passed, it would require those performing work under certain construction contracts supported by City funds/financial assistance to have a percentage of construction hours performed by City of Philadelphia residents.

New Condo Project at Washington Square

According to the Center City District, the Goldenberg Group and Brown Hill Development plan to redevelop the N.W. Ayer building at 210 W. Washington Square. The structure will be converted into 56 condominium units and will cost approximately $50 million.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Climate Mash

This is fun and timely...check out the "Climate Mash" website, watch the funny video, then send a message to President Bush.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Greening of Philadelphia

PennFuture is embarking on a project that Philadelphia desperately needs. The working title is “Building Philadelphia’s Future” and the concept is to formulate an action plan that focuses on quality of life issues that intersect with environmental/sustainability concepts. Philadelphia is unique among large American cities in that it doesn’t provide structured local government support for the advancement of environmental/sustainability issues. No pedestrian coordinator, no bicycle coordinator, no office of environmental sustainability (or similar function), no City-sanctioned environmental commission. Heck, currently we don’t even have a recycling coordinator. The action plan will promote changes to Philadelphia governmental structures, ordinances, and policies that will result in a cleaner, healthier City. For more information and to be involved in the development of the action plan, contact Christine Knapp at PennFuture at knapp@pennfuture.org.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Our Leaves are Better & Bigger than Your Leaves

The Commonwealth's tourism promotions have become more professional since Governor Rendell took office...check out this link to the fall foliage tourism campaign.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Stop Pay-to-Play: Vote "Yes" on Charter Change Nov. 8th

On November 8, 2005, Philadelphia voters will be presented with a ballot question about whether to change the City Charter - essentially the City's constitution – and significantly curtail the City's costly "pay-to-play" system.

Here's what the question is going to say: "Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require Council approval of certain City leases, contracts and concessions, to empower Council to address public confidence in the integrity of the City's contracting process by requiring certain disclosures and by providing whether persons who have made certain campaign contributions are ineligible for such contracts and for City financial assistance, and to empower Council to regulate the process by which non-competitively bid (no-bid) contracts are awarded?" Wow, that's a mouthful.

What does it mean? If a majority of Philadelphia voters vote yes on this question, information regarding City professional services contracts would be made available to the public, providing for a more transparent process whereby pay-to-play and other related corrupt practices would be less likely to occur and/or more easily detected. Individuals/businesses seeking no-bid contracts would not only be required to disclose political contributions, but there would be limits as to how much individuals/businesses could give to a candidate, incumbent and/or Political Action Committee (“PAC”).
The only reason to vote no on this charter change question is if you have personally benefited from the City's pay-to-play culture (like maybe somebody put a deck on your house or slipped you an envelope full of money); because most of us have not (and would never), please make sure that you vote yes on this question. For more information, check out the Committee of 70's website.

Monday, October 24, 2005

South Jersey Ad Agency Leaving Suburbia for Center City

One of the Philadelphia region's largest advertising agencies will relocate its headquarters from Cherry Hill to Center City, bringing with it up to 100 jobs (see story). The Star Group intends to spend $5 million to purchase and refurbish a five-story building at 1635-37 Locust Street. The Star Group also has offices in Las Vegas (NV) and Kansas City (MO), both of which service casino clients.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Minimal Disclosure Standards for Political Polling

Standards for Minimal Disclosure

Good professional practice imposes the obligation upon all public opinion researchers to include, in any report of research results, or to make available when that report is released, certain essential information about how the research was conducted. At a minimum, the following items should be disclosed:

1. Who sponsored the survey, and who conducted it.

2. The exact wording of questions asked, including the text of any preceding instruction or explanation to the interviewer or respondents that might reasonably be expected to affect the response.

3. A definition of the population under study, and a description of the sampling frame used to identify this population.

4. A description of the sample selection procedure, giving a clear indication of the method by which the respondents were selected by the researcher, or whether the respondents were entirely self-selected.

5. Size of samples and, if applicable, completion rates and information on eligibility criteria and screening procedures.

6. A discussion of the precision of the findings, including, if appropriate, estimates of sampling error, and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used. Which results are based on parts of the sample, rather than on the total sample.

7. Method, location, and dates of data collection.

The next time you see a survey that doesn’t include most of these supporting elements, you might want to view it with some suspicion. Like maybe, that mayoral poll that came out last week.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Condomania Comes to East Falls

The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority ("RDA") has preliminarily selected Global City to construct the "Terrace at Falls Bridge". This proposed $85 million development would consist of 172 condo units in four modern buildings ranging from four to twelve stories. A key feature in the design is a forty-foot wide public terrace that will run between Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive. The public terrace will be flanked by 17,000 sq. ft. of retail space, likely to include a food store. The selection of the developer by the RDA Board is considered preliminary. Global City will need to negotiate a developer's agreement with the RDA and then secure necessary approvals for their project, including zoning.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I thought it was a typo at first; Mayor Street's travel schedule for today included a trip to the 4th annual conference on "Glocalization" at the World Bank. Glocalization is "[t]he creation of products or services intended for the global market, but customized to suit the local culture", according to Wikipedia.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Random Environmental Factoid: The Marines and Soy Beans

According to PennFuture, the United States Marine Corps is the largest consumer of biodiesel fuel in the nation and the US military is expected to use more than six million gallons this year. Military fleet managers find that using biodiesel means cleaner engines that produce less pollution, without any loss of power and performance. Also, the Department of the Navy has ordered all domestic Navy/Marine facilities to use biodiesel when possible.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Are More Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Philadelphia’s Future?

A resolution – sponsored by Councilman Kenney - was unanimously adopted by Philadelphia City Council and referred to the Committee on Legislative Oversight authorizing the Committee to hold public hearings on whether the Office of Fleet Management’s vehicle purchasing policies should require a preference for the purchase of alternative fuel or hybrid-electric vehicles, which will facilitate savings, reduce fuel consumption, and promote a positive image of Philadelphia as an environmentally-conscious City. Hearings are likely to be held towards the end of the month.

The City of Philadelphia’s fleet consists of approximately 6,200 vehicles, including ambulances, fire apparatus, police cars, passenger and cargo vans, jeeps, buses and sedans that use approximately 4.6 million gallons of fuel (gasoline and diesel) each year. Given the rapidly rising cost of gasoline, many cities across the country have moved to replace conventional vehicles with hybrid-electric or alternative fuel vehicles. In particular, hybrid-electric vehicles have excellent warranties, lower projected maintenance costs (because the combustion engine receives less wear) and as much as 50 percent lower fuel costs than conventional vehicles. By way of example and inspiration, New York City has been purchasing hybrid-electric vehicles since 2001 and have amassed a hybrid-electric fleet of over 800 vehicles by requiring 80 percent of their light-duty vehicles purchases per fiscal year to be hybrid-electric.

Council Action on Proposed PGW Rate Hike

The Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities – Chaired by Councilman Michael Nutter - will meet to consider Resolution #050845 on Tuesday, October 11 at 2:00pm in room 400 of City Hall. This resolution would authorize City Council's Transportation and Public Utilities Committee to hold public hearings to discuss the impact of the proposed PGW 19.4% rate hike on the Philadelphia's citizens and explore methods of providing resources and relief to those most severely affected by such a dramatic increase.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Philadelphia Lawyers

A new survey of lawyers who practice in Philadelphia reveals that almost half - 45 percent - live within city limits and 30.3 percent are women (see story). The Philadelphia Bar Association survey of 340 attorneys - released last week - also found that lawyers eat out five times a week and 60 percent regularly do pro bono work. The survey establishes empirically what’s generally known about the legal profession in Philadelphia; law firms and their lawyers and support staff are a vital and productive component of the local economy and they also contribute significantly to civic life.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Philadelphia Food Distribution Center will Relocate to Navy Yard

A $100 million private/public sector investment will support Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry (its largest) with a new Food Distribution Center that will replace the one on Packer Avenue with an almost one million sq. ft. facility at the Navy Yard (see press release). Food merchants at the Center and approximately 1,500 jobs could have gone to New Jersey or New York, but Philadelphia and Pennsylvania put an economic development package to make sure that did not happen. 375 new jobs over the next three years are projected. Infrastructure improvements near the site will support both the Food Distribution Center and future port and Navy Yard redevelopment are planned.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Philadelphia’s World Renowned Mural Arts Program Get Funding for Expansion

Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program (“MAP”) has received approximately $.5 million in public and private funds to construct a new, 3,000 sq. ft. “Mural Arts Center” adjacent to the MAP’s current facility at 1727 Mount Vernon St. in the Spring Garden section (see article). The Mural Arts Program works with residents, grassroots organizations, government agencies, educational institutions, corporations and foundations "to design and create murals of enduring value while actively engaging youth in the process," it said. Since its founding over 20 years ago, the Mural Arts Program has done more than 2,500 indoor/outdoor murals through Philadelphia, more than any other public art program in the nation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Philadelphia: America's Next Great City

According to a nine-page story in National Geographic Traveler that hits newsstands on Oct. 4, Philadelphia is America’s Next Great City (see article). The article cites our restaurants, arts/culture scene, walkability, and other positive attributes. National Geographic Traveler has 715,000 subscribers and a “pass-along” readership of 6 million; the magazine is the most widely read travel publication in the world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Real Estate Tax Abatement: It Worked

In 1997, City Council passed a bill (thank you Councilman DiCicco) giving developers a 10-year real estate tax abatement when they converted buildings into apartments or condominiums. In 2000, another bill (thanks again Councilman DiCicco) provided a 10-year abatement to developers building new projects. All indications are that the breaks are facilitating an unprecedented construction boom and significantly impacting components of Philadelphia's economy; currently, the City has approximately 9,000 new residential units coming online in the near future. Based on the market value of conversion projects (as opposed to new construction), the City will eventually receive $3.5 million annually in taxes, about half of which will hit in 2009 (see article). Financial statistics don’t say as much as experiencing the vitality Center City in person; the restaurants, the street life, the retail, the throngs of people – it wasn’t like that in the late 1980s when I moved to Philadelphia. The conclusion about City governance to be drawn from all this? Think locally and act locally. The tax burden in this City is too high and complicated; policies that strategically mitigate this burden can do much to improve economic and social vitality. Of course, policies that provide universal tax relief and de-complication are beneficial as well, but that's another topic.

Monday, September 26, 2005

New FLP Website

The Free Library of Philadelphia ("FLP") has an awesome new website. A multitude of free downloads and other features that are worth checking out.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Relocation vs. Rebuilding?

In his latest column, Mark Alan Hughes states that “[o]lder American cities have become warehouses for people whose prospects would be brighter in other places. But immediate obligations, lack of resources and information, and plain old inertia anchor people in places that are declining.” And further, “the eventual happy ending for poor people comes from relocation more than rebuilding.” A couple of questions: is there empirical evidence to support this last statement? That is, is relocation more effective than rebuilding with respect to poverty eradication? Notwithstanding, should voluntary relocation be a component of poverty abatement policy? Americans of means frequently relocate for better employment opportunities and lower cost of living; should there be policies (and commensurate funding and support) for those of limited means to do the same?

Ford to Dramatically Increase Hybrid Production

According to the New American Dream, Ford Motor Company has announced that it will increase hybrid production from 25,000 annually to 250,000 hybrids per year by 2010.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Masterman: #1 Public High School in the Region

According to Philadelphia Magazine’s list of the region’s top 50 public high schools, Masterman High School is the best in the region. Four other Philadelphia public high schools made the list: Girard Academic Music Program, Creative and Performing Arts, Girls’, and Central.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nutter and DiCicco: Politicians of the Year

Philadelphia City Councilmen Michael Nutter and Frank DiCicco have been named “politicians of the year” by the Library Journal for their use of “classic urban political strategies” to ensure that the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch expansion was advanced and neighborhood branch service levels were maintained. In the last budget cycle, these two library funding priorities were presented as an either/or choice; Nutter and DiCicco, their allies in City Council, and library advocates from all over the City secured - through political maneuvering and advocacy - funding for both important activities.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Where do all the Yuppies Meet, South Street, South Street

One of the latest Philadelphia condominium projects is on South Street. The $30 million, six-story building will contain 72 condos and 11,000 sq. ft. of retail; the exact address, 1326-52 South Street. Condos will range from 800 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft. and will run from $259,000 to $1.2 million for larger units (see story).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Demonstration Wetland Takes Shape in East Falls

Saylor Grove – a three acre “pocket park” in East Falls – is being converted into a wetland by the Philadelphia Water Department. The man-made marsh will attract bats, frogs, toads, and other critters that you’d generally find in a wetland. Visitors will be able to stroll the quarter-mile trail encircling the wetland and the site will also feature an overlook and a bridge over small waterfalls. The parcel is located across Lincoln Drive from Monoshone Creek, site of Historic RittenhouseTown and the first paper mill in America (circa 1690).

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Translating the Politics of “We” into the Politics of “Me”

There’s been a lot of debate about what the Democrats should do in order to become more successful at winning elections. While there are many strategic moves we can make to improve our team’s chances of victory, there’s an imperative paradigm change that must infuse the way that we articulate our message; we must translate the politics of “we” into the politics of “me”. What does this mean? First, let’s say what it doesn’t mean; it doesn’t mean that the party should turn its back on communitarian ideals, progressivity, and concern for others. It means explaining to voters - clearly and effectively – why our policies (to the extent we can agree on them) make sense to them personally. This won’t apply to every policy, but we need to do a better job of appealing to self-interest of the enlightened variety. The Republicans have been great at telling voters how they’ll be personally served by conservative rule and it’s one of a number of reasons they’ve been able to knock us around so much lately.

Monday, September 05, 2005

LaSalle Contributes to North Philadelphia’s Economic Expansion

LaSalle University plans to create a retail center on land it holds adjacent to its main campus. The planned center - in the range of 60,000 to 100,000 square feet - would serve both students and community. Their plans call for a supermarket as the retail anchor with ancillary commercial amenities such as a dry cleaner, hair dresser, etc. filling the balance of the space (see story).

Friday, September 02, 2005

More Pro-Hybrid Legislation in PA

House Bill 1630 would waive annual emissions inspections for hybrids and House Bills 968 and 969 would waive the annual emissions inspection and registration fees for hybrids, as well as the 6% state sales tax on their purchase. Do you support these bills? Contact your legislator and let him/her know. Note that there is bi-partisan support for these bills.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Plug it In, Plug it In

The next generation of hybrid vehicles is upon us. Plug-in hybrids don’t need to be tethered to an electric cord when not in use, but the option is there. Users get the benefits of an electric car, without the challenges presented by their typically limited range. Plug-in hybrids can go all-electric for the 90% percent of driving that takes place close to home. When the electric charge draws down, a “mini-sized” petrol engine starts up and the car drives like a regular hybrid.
  • Hybrids get about two times the fuel economy of a conventional car
  • Plug-in hybrids will get about two times the fuel economy of a hybrid

Here in the Commonwealth, legislation has been introduced in the State House of Representatives that will promote and increase the use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Pennsylvania.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Alternative Fuel Industry Expands

According to PennFuture, Spanish turbine-blade manufacturer Gamesa has decided to accelerate the opening of a second production line at its new facility being constructed in Ebensburg, PA. The plant will employ nearly 200 by next April, with room for two more production lines if needed. Gamesa officials have said that the Pennsylvania’s Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard law, heavily influenced their decision to locate in Pennsylvania.

Friday, August 26, 2005

John Dougherty's Union (Local 98) Accussed of Harassment

According to the Philadelphia Tribune, a local community activist is upset with one of the City's most prominent union leaders - John Dougherty, whose members have allegedly been harassing African-American contractors working at a School District of Philadelphia construction site. Activist Sacaree Rhodes said union members working under Dougherty of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (Local 98) allegedly threatened the African-American contractors and "encouraged" them to join their union.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Take the Money and Run?

In his most recent op-ed, Mark Allen Hughes has a thought provoking suggestion for residents of gentrifying areas with rapidly increasing home prices (and property tax burdens): “many should consider cashing out altogether and selling their houses. The proceeds from such sales…would generate a transfer to lower-income people that's long overdue.” Mr. Hughes notes that - since 1995 - housing prices have increased by 97% in North Philadelphia (above Girard), 183% in Kensington, and an incredible 233% in South Philadelphia (below Washington).

Another Random Philadelphia Treasure You’ve Probably Never Heard About

The Wagner Free Institute of Science is a natural history museum and educational institution that has remained as it was in the 19th century. It offers free public education courses on science - now in their 143rd year. These programs are the oldest free adult education classes in the United States. Incorporated in 1855, the Institute is named for its founders, William Wagner (1796-1885) and Louisa Binney Wagner (1814-1898) who wanted to provide free educational resources through public lectures, a library, and a museum. The museum is located in North Philadelphia, about two blocks from Temple University’s main campus; for more information, please see their website.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Philadelphia International Airport: Ecomonic Powerhouse

According to the July issue of the Pennsylvania Air Service Monitor, Philadelphia International Airport’s total economic impact was over $14 billion last year. This accounts for 63% of the Commonwealth’s $22 billion total economic impact from air service in 2004. The $14 billion figure includes direct spending by airport and airline employees, indirect spending by Pennsylvania visitors arriving by air, and “induced” spending from the multiplier effect of the direct and indirect amounts being re-spent in the Philadelphia region.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Record Year for Passengers and Cargo at PHL

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Philadelphia International Airport set a record in fiscal 2005, which ended June 30. The airport reported 31.07 million air travelers, up from 26.19 in the previous year. Additionally, 4.12 million international passengers came through the airport, a 6.4 percent increase from a year earlier. Philadelphia International also handled 599,758 tons of cargo last fiscal year, up from 586,924 tons last year.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

"It's Costly Being Poor": An Article from the Economist about Philadelphia

This article came from the August 11th, 2005 edition of the Economist.

THIS week saw the start of yet another campaign to boycott Wal-Mart. In Philadelphia, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) joined two teachers' unions to urge parents not to buy their school supplies at the big store, which doesn't recognise unions. “Low wages mean more poverty,” announced the UFCW's local chief.

Yet the poor might benefit from low prices. “The Price is Wrong”, a recent report from the Brookings Institution, a think-tank based in Washington, DC, found that Philadelphia's poor pay more for almost everything than the city's rich folk do: they pay more for loans because their credit history is patchier, more for insurance because their neighbourhoods are rougher, and more to cash cheques because they don't have bank accounts and go to extortionate cheque-cashing stores that can bite $450 a year out of a household income of $15,000.

And they pay more for their groceries because they shop at places like the Thrift Discount store on Girard Avenue. Wal-Mart, it ain't. There's not much choice, the soup cans are grimy with dust and the nappies are 57% dearer than at a big store in the suburbs.

Why doesn't somebody undercut Thrift Discount and its sort? One reason is the powerful lobby against big stores, such as Wal-Mart, opening in cities. Another is that small entrepreneurs don't like working in rough neighbourhoods. “It's not so bad round here during the day, but you hear gunshots every night,” says Patrick Park, a member of the Korean-American family that owns Thrift Discount. Armed robberies are fairly common in the area, he says, and shoplifting is “a big problem”.

Brookings says the risks of running shops in poor areas are exaggerated, citing a Department of Agriculture report that found no statistically significant differences in operating expenses between grocery stores in poor and rich areas. Poor densely populated areas also contain more potential shoppers. Heidi Hwang, Mr Park's sister, who is minding the till, says she is astonished how many $50 hair extensions she sells.

One intangible and awkward cost glossed over in the Brookings report is the daily experience of racial tension. “They don't like us watching them,” says Ms Hwang, “but then you turn your back and they steal something.” Black shoppers have a different perspective. Ice Cube, a rap artist, once released a song called “Black Korea” that included the lyrics: “[D]on't follow me up and down your market/Or your little chop-suey ass 'll be a target” and “[P]ay respect to the black fist/Or we'll burn your store, right down to a crisp.

Such threats are very rarely carried out, of course, but they are another reason why shopkeepers shun the inner cities. Mr Park's family moved to the suburbs as soon as they could afford it. And Mr Park says he won't take over the family business unless he has to. He's planning to be a lawyer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Center City Hotels: Still Strong

Center City hotel occupancy was up 7.4% through June, a larger percentage change than other East Coast downtowns, according to Smith Travel Research. Center City hotels were at 73.9% occupancy for the first half of the year, compared to Baltimore (70.2%), Boston (71.2%) and Washington (76.4%).

In June, Center City hotels were at 86.4% occupancy, up 5.9% from 2004. RevPAR (revenue per available room) was up a strong 15.9% for Center City hotels in the first half of 2005.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bio Conference a Success

According to Select Greater Philadelphia, July's BIO 2005 Conference was a smashing success: 18,700 attendees from over 60 countries came to Philadelphia and spent approximately $35 million in the region.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cough, Cough - Got a Minute to take a Poll about Smoking?

The Mayor of Philadelphia wants your input about smoking and whether you'd support a ban on indoor smoking in restaurants and bars; go take the on-line poll.

Germantown Deserves Better

The Daily News has an interesting but sad story about the Central Germantown Council, a three-person community development agency that has spent $1.4 million in City funds since 2000 to enhance the business district on Chelten Avenue. Critics - including some CGC board members – contend that the CGC has little (or nothing) to show for the money, that it operates under a shroud of secrecy, and that the City (via the Commerce Department) should conduct a performance audit to find out what’s really going on. On a related note, the CGC’s former president (Steve Vaughn, former aide to City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller and most recently of “Federal Probe” fame) is doing time for unrelated federal corruption charges.
I live in East Falls, right next door to G’town; I’ve been on Chelten Avenue in the business district and you can get a palpable sense of the grandeur and resplendence of what “Downtown Germantown” used to be like. The residents and business of Germantown deserve so much better than what they’re getting from the CGC. Want to take some positive action? Please e-mail Stephanie Naidoff – the City’s Commerce Director at stephanie.naidoff@phila.gov and ask her to conduct a full scale audit of the CGC’s operations and finances so that we can find out where the money went and how it can be spent more effectively and efficiently in the future.

Philadelphia's “Brooklynization”

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times about the influx of young/young at heart, creative types from the Big Apple. These folks are leaving New York City and coming to the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection) for the same reasons their kind once moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan; they’re attracted by a thriving arts/music scene and a cost of living 37% lower.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Better Models for Development in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources ("DCNR") has released a new publication that will assist local government officials and other decision makers in creating greener, more prosperous and appealing communities. "Better Models for Development in Pennsylvania" is designed to help officials to conserve natural/cultural resources and better manage growth and development.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Why Can't (or Won't) American Car Makers Do This?

According to PennFuture, Toyota has announced the introduction of 10 additional gasoline-electric hybrid car models by early next decade. One of the models will be a hybrid pickup truck. The world's second-leading automaker is also aiming to sell at least one million hybrids a year worldwide, and to have hybrids account for 25 percent of Toyota's annual U.S. sales.

Rankings, Shmankings

A new study, "Grading Places: What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?" indicates that many of those ranking studies can be biased and misleading. The study identifies examples of shoddy work, such as identification of Las Vegas as having the best airport infrastructure in the country, while New York City is ranked 40th. However, Las Vegas has only one large commercial airport and New York has three. What should we conclude here in Philadelphia? If our City comes out being ranked well in a survey, believe it. If Philadelphia is poorly ranked, the survey is dubious and should be ignored (see story).
Thanks to T. Madres, Board Chair of Young Involved Philadelphia for this tidbit.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Philadelphia County: We're #23!!

According to a recent report by the Census Bureau, Philadelphia County - coterminous with the City of Philadelphia - is the 23rd best paying county (out of 3,141), in terms of payroll per employee (see story).

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Councilman Mariano: Don’t Read this, It’ll Bum You Out

Philadelphia politicians under federal scrutiny are not alone; the Feds are taking a hard look at public officials in places like Atlanta, San Diego, and Chicago. The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section - which prosecutes political corruption cases - reports 43 convictions or guilty pleas at mid-year, compared with 51 for all of 2004 and 48 in 2003

According to research by The Dallas Morning News, the Public Integrity Section has a proven record of effectiveness. Between 1984 and 2003, they achieved convictions for 20,393 of the 23,320 people they indicted. That’s an 87% conviction rate. Success is predicated on the propensity of federal prosecutors to indict only when the evidence is strong and its probative value provides a high likelihood of conviction (see story).

Indy Racing in Philadelphia?

Paul Newman (the salad dressing guy and actor) and representatives from “Champ Car World Series” are scheduled to meet with senior City officials this afternoon to discuss holding an Indianapolis Speedway-style race on Philadelphia streets. Champ Car draws international media coverage and an average of 150,000 fans per event and could generate $25 million to $50 million in revenue, including 10,000 room nights at local hotels (see story). Watching a bunch of cars rip around Philadelphia streets; can’t we already do that during rush hour? But seriously, if it’s good for the Philadelphia economy, America’s Hometown is for it (and would probably go down to watch it).

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


GoodWorks-PAC.org, a Federal political action committee based in Philadelphia, has endorsed the campaign of New York City Council candidate Gur Tsabar as a model for all Democratic campaigns. GoodWorks-PAC.org recruits and assists Democratic candidates who use public service in their campaigns. These campaigns highlight Democratic values, earn positive media, and strengthen the Democratic Party’s ability to turn out voters.

Ritz-Carlton Hotel to get a 44-Story Neighbor

The “Residences at the Ritz-Carlton” will be a $250 million, 44-story condominium project on the former Meridian Plaza office building site at 15th and Market Streets in Center City. Shovels will hit the ground this Fall and project completion is scheduled for the Spring of 2008 (see story).

Monday, August 01, 2005

Philadelphia Housing Market Not Risky?

A list of the 13 riskiest housing markets and Philadelphia is not on it...

Greenhouse Gas Reductions and Economic Vitality

According to PennFuture, new data from Portland (OR) indicates that it is possible for a City to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions without a negative impact on the economy. Portland has reduced its emissions below 1990 levels, the standard for the Kyoto accord.

To view the City's progress report on global warming, visit this site.

Friday, July 29, 2005

FDIC report says Philadelphia is one of 55 housing 'boom' markets

A new report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation says Philadelphia is considered one of 55 "boom" housing markets (see story). "Increased population, improved job growth, limited housing supply and innovative mortgage products have contributed to strong housing trends," says the report.

Temple University: The Owl that Could

Temple University produces a bit more than $1 of every $100 generated in the five Pennsylvania counties in the Philadelphia Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to a recent report (see story). The University annually generates $2.7 billion and creates 17,818 full- and part-time jobs in the five-county region. The economic activity produced by Temple results from the direct and indirect effects of its spending on operations and construction, plus the direct and indirect effects of spending by Temple employees, students and visitors.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sports Complex Skyway?

Mark Allen Hughes has an interesting idea: build an elevated walkway to connect the subway station and indoor/outdoor stadia at the sports complex, as well as whatever parking or retail/office complex that gets built on the former Vet site (see op ed). The walkway would enable pedestrians to avoid the parking lots, making it more convenient (and safer) for motorists and mass transit riders. Mr. Hughes suggests that the project would be a strong candidate for federal transportation funding for cutting congestion. Says Mark Allen, ”We missed a chance to build downtown sports venues. We should at least make it as easy as possible to get from downtown to those venues. Done right, that might even make for the best solution after all.”

The Next Police Commissioner Ascends?

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia's police commissioner is about to appoint Captain Richard Ross - commander of the department's Homicide Unit and a bright, energetic, innovative police officer - to a new departmental position as deputy commissioner in charge of gun violence.

Philadelphia Utility Work: Better Coordination

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a new, coordinated system for mitigating disruption and congestion caused by utility work on Philadelphia streets has been established. Eighteen utility and telecommunications companies, City departments/agencies, SEPTA and other stakeholders will meet monthly to resolve conflicts and coordinate work. The working group and related agreement also gives effect to an ordinance enacted last Spring requiring companies to reimburse the City for damage caused by street digging.

Monday, July 25, 2005

City Year Positions

City Year still has full-time AmeriCorps positions available. If you know someone between the ages of 17-24 who can spend 10 months making a difference, then please have him/her attend a City Year information session. Information sessions are held at the City Year office at 6 pm every Wednesday, 2nd floor of the Red Cross Building at 23rd and Chestnut. Additionally, anyone can visit their website for more information or call (267) 386-7013.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Friedman, Out!

I'm taking a break from blogging and all other serious activity; heading up to the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania. See you all when I get back. Take care!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Suburban Boomers Become Center City Roomers

According to a recent study by Commerce Bancorp, the Center City baby boomer influx could continue for decades and is an important component of Philadelphia’s economic growth and prosperity. Economist Joel Naroff - writing in the bank’s “Spring Economic Outlook” newsletter – said, “Now that the boomers are nearing their retirement years, they are reconsidering their locational choices. Without children, they are starting to rid themselves of their huge suburban homes to live where the amenities match their new lifestyles. Center City Philadelphia has become one major winner in the housing lottery, setting off a major boom in the construction of apartments, condos and co-ops. This demographic and locational shift could last for decades and is likely to help reverse the decline in the city [emphasis added]. When the city expands, it adds to growth throughout the region, so the future for the region looks even brighter.”

Monday, July 11, 2005

Center City Hotels Did Well in May

According to Smith Travel Research, Center City hotels had an occupancy rate of 78.3% in May, up 5.7% from May 2004. Revenue per available room (“RevPAR”) was at $97.79 in Center City for May.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Blue Future PAC

According to their website, the mission of Blue Future PAC "is to provide financial and other support to the campaigns of new Democratic candidates for state and local political offices in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties, Pennsylvania. Blue Future PAC seeks to support candidates who demonstrate the capacity for state-wide office." This group is seeking to replicate - to some extent - the locally focused, grass-roots electoral successes that the Republicans have produced over the past two decades. The idea is to get fresh, progressive Democrats elected to local offices in more Republican-friendly areas by giving them the organizing and fiscal tools they need to succeed.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Schuylkill River Skatepark: Coming Along

Plans for the Schuylkill River Skatepark - the place where exiles from Love Park are supposed to flock to - have been unveiled; while approval by the Fairmount Park Commission is still required, there’s an expectation that shovels will be in the ground by next Spring. A nonprofit called Franklin's Paine seeks to raise the $5 million needed for construction from the skateboard industry's equipment manufacturers, clothing makers and retail outfits, as well as from Philadelphia corporate interests (see story).

Friday, July 01, 2005

Philadelphia Law Firms: Nationally Competitive

Eight of Philadelphia's largest law firms made it onto a list of the nation's top 100 firms (see story). American Lawyer Magazine said it was one of the best showings by Philadelphia firms in two decades. Three of them, Pepper Hamilton, Cozen O'Connor and Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, were not on the list in 2003. Others that made the list were Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Dechert; Duane Morris; Blank Rome L.L.P; and Drinker Biddle & Reath. Thriving law firms bring significant economic benefits to the City and region, in the way of tax revenue and employee and firm spending in the local economy.

RecycleBank to Make Live 8 Environmentally Friendly

From the good friends of America's Hometown at RecycleBank:

June 30, 2005 – (Philadelphia) - RecycleBank announced today that it has been named the Official Recycling Provider for Philadelphia’s Live 8 Concert on July 2, 2005. RecycleBank will provide large, clearly marked recycling containers for an expected one million concertgoers, as well as arrange for collection and disposal of recyclable materials.

“We are thrilled to be a part of Live 8,” said RecycleBank co-founder and President Patrick FitzGerald. “It is an extraordinary global event, and as local company, RecycleBank is proud to help Philadelphia host guests from all over the world and demonstrate that Philadelphia can be a model environmental community.”

RecycleBank was founded in 2003 as a cost-effective and environmentally conscious solution to waste disposal. Through partnerships with more than 100 local and national vendors (including Starbucks, Whole Foods, Coca-Cola, ACME, Home Depot, and FedExKinko’s), RecycleBank financially rewards households that recycle. RecycleBank has tripled the recycling rates in the Philadelphia neighborhoods that are included in the program and will expand to the Philadelphia suburbs, Southeastern New Jersey, and Northern Delaware in September 2005. For more information please visit us at: www.recyclebank.com

Thursday, June 30, 2005

They Like Us, They Really Like Us

A survey of 2005 college graduates – recently conducted by Right Management Consultants – indicates that seventy-six percent of the area's college graduates prefer to stay in the Greater Philadelphia region. Thirty-nine percent of college graduates surveyed indicated they were “very likely to stay”, 37 percent were “somewhat likely”, 15 percent were “not very likely”, 6 percent had “no idea” and 3 percent said they were “not at all likely”.

Cancer Fighting Hospital to Open in Northeast Philadelphia

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (“CTCA”) – an Illinois-based company – is creating what will be its first East Coast hospital on the site of the former Parkview Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia. The cancer-fighting center - scheduled to open in November 2005 – should generate 170 new jobs in year one and up to 500 jobs within the first three years. CTCA estimates the center's regional economic impact to be $6 million in its first year of operations, and approximately $22 million annually by year five. The Philadelphia hospital will be CTCA's fourth regional cancer center, joining others in Zion (IL); Tulsa, (OK); and Seattle (WA).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

LISC Makes $22 Million Committment to Philadelphia

Philadelphia Local Initiative Support Corporation (“LISC”) announced a $22 million commitment of private/public funding to Philadelphia over the next couple of years (see story). Philadelphia LISC has assisted in the development of thousands of housing units, the construction of shopping facilities and community centers, commercial corridor rejuvenation, and cultivation of Philadelphia's community development corporations’ professional capacity. Among other things, LISC gathers corporate, government and philanthropic capital to help community development corporations revitalize underserved neighborhoods.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Modern Courts Coming to Philadelphia?

This Monday, two state senators plan to introduce a measure that could make groundbreaking changes to the way judges in Philadelphia come to the bench (see story). "Our method of picking judges has become too heavily dependent on things such as ballot position, campaign contributions and street money," Sen. Vince Fumo said. "Judges should serve on the basis of their legal experience, competency and professional temperament." Consequently, Fumo and Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Phila.) have announced that they are advancing legislation that would amend the state constitution by requiring the Governor to appoint judges who are recommended by a judicial nominating commission. Who else is supporting this measure? Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts; Zack Stalberg, president of the Committee of Seventy; Andrew A. Chirls, chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association; and Michael Coard, head of a new watchdog organization named Judging the Judges. The legislation - affecting judicial placements for the Philadelphia Common Pleas and Municipal Courts - would create a 19-member judicial nominating commission populated solely by Philadelphia residents. There are a number of procedural hurdles before modern, progressive courts can come to Philadelphia. The proposal must win approval in two consecutive legislative sessions, then voters across the Commonwealth would have to approve the change (affecting only Philadelphia). Finally, Philadelphia voters also would have to support the change in a citywide referendum. A well organized and participatory selection process is the way that most states select their judges, and it's heartening to see Philadelphia move towards a more progressive judiciary selection process. For more information, go to the Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts website.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The One Great Thing About the Bush Administration (for Philadelphia)

History will show that George W. Bush was a bad president. From domestic to foreign policy, to his unyielding, repugnant, and regressive stances on homosexual marriage, gun control, and the environment, the President is a divisive, ineffectual, uninspiring leader. However, when he was first elected, I thought that if there was anything positive that his presidency could do for our great City, it would be to commence federal corruption investigations of those local public officials that our loyal partisan District Attorney would never go after. A few years later – while I don’t claim any credit/blame – news of a bug planted in the Mayor’s office revealed that the Feds had in fact been conducting a massive fraud/corruption investigation for several years. That bug (and others) led to the City Hall corruption case and recent convictions (and guilty pleas) of over a dozen political operatives. Assisted by a network of cooperating witnesses and 60,000 secretly recorded conversations, FBI agents indicate that they are far from completing their corruption-busting work in Philadelphia. "I see this case as being open when I retire in a few years," said FBI agent James K. Welch, supervisor of the public-corruption squad in Philadelphia. "We're not halfway done yet." Welch did not elaborate, but it has been reported that the Feds are examining City contracts related to insurance, Penn's Landing, minority contracting, and the Philadelphia International Airport. According to the article in last Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the FBI hopes for changes, such as proposed ethics reforms, in "what we see as a corrupt system." While the investigation and subsequent guilty pleas and convictions don’t guarantee positive changes to our political/government systems and culture, there are hopeful signs that Philadelphia residents and politicians are taking the issue seriously. The City’s Board of Ethics has staffed up and Councilman Nutter’s anti pay-to-play bills will become law, pending voter approval. While there’s certainly a downside to the corruption investigation – who needs the bad press and notoriety – the ongoing investigation will keep this issue in the public’s mind heading into the next mayoral elections and will no doubt shape the outcome, hopefully in favor of a candidate who will provide strong ethical leadership and improve the quality and focus of governance in Philadelphia.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Texas Developer Building 285 Luxury Rental Units in East Falls

Winther - a private developer from Houston, Texas - is building a $50 million, eight-building apartment complex on the grounds of a former mill in East Falls (see story). The community will be called Dobson Mills Apartments and will encompass 306,000 square feet; 7,000 square feet of street-level retail will be provided on Ridge Avenue. Winther focuses on developing luxury rental properties in high-density, urban “infill” locations. The company’s vice president – James Tollett III - believes the luxury rental market is underserved in Philadelphia and that people are seeking out new construction. The average apartment at Dobson Mills will be 1,000 square feet and monthly rents will average $1,800. "We're looking for people who like a Center City lifestyle and can put their feet on the grass every day and be five minutes from the business district," said Tollett. This new development will be proximate to downtown East Falls’ burgeoning restaurant and commercial district.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Rendell Administration: Running the Commonwealth More Efficiently

One of the things that most people don’t fully realize about government is that it’s a real enterprise, not an abstraction to be argued about at cocktail parties. Like any large business or institution, the Commonwealth’s state government administers a vast amount of personnel, physical resources, programs, and processes. This means that there are usually many opportunities to develop management and productivity initiatives that can save money and/or enhance service levels. That said, the Rendell Administration has identified procurement strategies that will generate $140 million in annual savings (see story). It’s a result of “strategic sourcing” (i.e., organizing contracts for maximum savings) initiatives. In addition to public policy and other more “exciting” issues, this is the kind of thing that Rendell and the excellent folks on his team focus on; the mechanics and processes of government. It’s not sexy, but it’s the real stuff of managing a government.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Pennsylvania to take Action on Global Warming?

According to PennFuture, Pennsylvania House Bill 500 - the "Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act" - has been gaining political momentum in Harrisburg recently. The global warming bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), has bipartisan support with 10 Republicans and 43 Democrats as co-sponsors.

The legislation would require Pennsylvania to:

- Conduct a statewide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions;
- Create a stakeholder group to advise the state on global warming issues;
- Develop and publish a global warming statement for Pennsylvania that includes an analysis of economic opportunities for the Commonwealth; and
- Develop an action plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Center City Hotel Occupancy and Tourism: Still Going Strong

April was an exceptional month for Center City hotels, which were 83.6% occupied, up 18.6% from April 2004, according to Smith Travel Research. Revenue per available room (“RevPAR”, a standard industry measure) was at $123.22, up 27% from last April. Year to date, downtown hotels' occupancy was up 8.4% and RevPAR was up 15.2%. PKF Consulting's April industry “Snapshot” also reported that attendance was up this year through April at most attractions in Center City; the National Constitution Center was up a whopping 64.1%.

Monday, June 13, 2005

National Council of La Raza: Philadelphia Bound

According to the Center City District and the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress ("MAC"), the largest Latino organization in the country - the National Council of La Raza - is holding its 27th annual conference in Philadelphia from July 16-18. The more than 15,000 delegates - including Latino civic activists and elected leaders - will have a projected economic impact of $8.2 million.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Philadelphia School District Creates More Comprehensive History Curriculum

The Philadelphia School District has become the first in the nation to require courses in African and African-American history as prerequisites for high school graduation (see story).

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Random Pennsylvania Factoids

PA has 2,569 units of local government, 500 public school districts, and 67 counties. The only state to have more units of government is Illinois. Of those municipalities, 56 are considered cities, 964 as boroughs, and 1,548 as townships. There is also one town - Bloomsburg - the only one in the state, created so by special charter championed by state Senator Charles Buckalew in 1870.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Architectural Salvage Industry in Philadelphia Expands

Second Chance – the Baltimore-based, non-profit architectural salvager – will open a retail operation this fall in Philadelphia, according to the architectural salvage industry’s leading publication, Architectural Salvage News. Second Chance’s executive director said that Philadelphia was the first city with the interest, manpower, and desire to make the enterprise a success. Second Chance focuses on deconstruction, architectural salvage, and job training. They work with low-income residents to train them in a wide variety of skills, ranging from carpentry to craftsmanship.

Philadelphia Art Museum: Going to the Moon

Ok, it’s not exactly going to the moon, but it’s just as ambitious. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is planning what will be the largest cultural expansion in our City’s history, an exciting $500 million push to expand/renovate the facility, including a dramatic subterranean excavation that would create addition display capacity (see story).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Emperor has no Clothes

Mark Allen Hughes from Penn has an op/ed about the Street Administration’s NTI program in today’s Daily News (see story). Mr. Hughes says that “NTI was a pile of money, and its only strategic imperative was to be spent. Without a core strategy, NTI was little more than a story told by the [M]ayor about the effects of absentee landlords and boarded-up windows.” Mr. Hughes notes that - according to the fifth-year budget for NTI - the program will have incurred $300 million in new debt and have knocked down less than half of the collapsing houses in Philadelphia, not exactly stellar performance with regard to one of the program’s main goals. I remember being at a “kaffee klatch” (at Babette Joseph’s house) for Mayor Street when he was running for the office in the 1999 Democratic primary. Mr. Street discussed the NTI concept then and I was struck by how half-baked the idea sounded coming from somebody who’d been in City Council for nearly twenty years representing a largely blighted area. He didn’t seem to have an informed vision/plan for advancing a structured anti-blight program, just – as Mr. Hughes points out – a pile of money that needed to be spent and an election that needed to be won.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Fuji Bikes Pedals into Northeast Philadelphia

Quietly, Fuji Bikes has moved their world headquarters from North Jersey into an industrial park tucked near Philadelphia's Northeast Airport. Fuji has renovated an old structure and built new facilities that house office space and a distribution warehouse totaling 70,000 square feet. While Fuji isn't the largest bicycle company, they have a distinguished 100-year history and have currently captured 10% of the bike sales market and continue to grow. Fuji could have gone anywhere in the world, but chose the urban center that is rapidly becoming the center of the universe – Philadelphia – America’s hometown.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Philadelphians Mistrust Local Government According to a Recent Poll

An Issues PA-Pew statewide poll suggests that the recent Philadelphia municipal government corruption trials (and various guilty pleas and convictions) has affected area residents' perception of government. AHT is shocked. Apparently, Philadelphians faith in local government is at a low ebb. A scant 20 percent of Philadelphians say they trusted local government to do the right thing at least most of the time. In the Philly suburbs, that level of trust jumps to 47 percent. What can be done to increase Philadelphians’ level of faith in their local government? Support current efforts to tighten ethics laws and in 2007 vote for a Mayoral candidate with the fortitude and conviction to restore dignity, professionalism, and high ethical standards to the second floor of City Hall.

Convention Center Expansion: Funding is on the Way

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is expected to soon release the first installment of land acquisition funding that will expand the Pennsylvania Convention Center’s footprint. The Commonwealth committed $632 million to the project last summer. The expansion is on schedule for a late 2008 opening, according to Councilman Michael Nutter, the chair of the Convention Center Authority.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Montco to Develop Global Warming Strategy

According to PennFuture, Montgomery County will be the first county in the Commonwealth to develop a global warming strategy. Penn State University is helping Montco prepare a greenhouse gas inventory and decision makers will begin meeting this fall to develop a list of policy options that will produce emission reductions.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Councilman Nutter, Smokin' (actually, not smokin')

By a 10 to 7 vote margin, Philadelphia's City Council approved amendments that clear the way for a citywide smoking ban in bars and restaurants. Councilman Nutter shepherded the bill through after working on compromise amendments that exempts sidewalk cafes, offers a wavier process to private clubs, and gives bars an extra two years to comply with the law. For others, the smoking ban begins next January (see story).

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cira Centre: 90% Leased

The office tower being constructed adjacent to 30th Street Station in Philadelphia – the first ever in University City - is almost fully leased out (see story). Out of 730,000 square feet, 412,000 square feet will be filled by tenants moving from within Center City. The remainder of the space will be filled by companies from outside the City and State. McKinsey & Company - an international consulting firm based in New York - will open its first Philadelphia office at the Cira Center. For those not in the consulting business, getting McKinsey in town is a big deal. It’s another indication that large, prestigious international businesses want to be in an urban setting that is economically and socially vibrant; America’s Hometown, Philadelphia, PA.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Breaking Wind?

The Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy ("PCIEP") runs an energy purchasing collaborative made up of 34 member colleges and universities. Nine have increased their purchase of wind-generated electricity to at least 10 percent. These schools are Eastern University (32.2 percent), Dickinson College (12.1 percent), the University of Pennsylvania (10.4 percent), Juniata College (10 percent), Allegheny College (10 percent), Chatham College (10 percent), Duquesne University (10 percent), Keystone College (10 percent) and Mercyhurst College (10 percent). Instead of "burning the midnight oil", will people say that students pulling all nighters at these schools are "breaking wind"?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I See Dead People (voting, that is)

While it is not clear whether the Chairwoman of the Philadelphia City Commissioners has a vision for running fairer, more effective and efficient elections in the City, Marge Tartaglione is apparently psychic (see story).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Zoning Bills: First Steps Toward Reform?

Three deceivingly minor zoning bills may constitute a big first step towards regulatory reform in Philadelphia. These bills – proposed by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia ("BIA") - will be considered at a public hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 24 in City Council Chambers.

These bills address difficulties encountered by those building/improving homes in Philadelphia. According to BIA, the bills would eliminate the outdated inner court requirements adopted to offer light and ventilation to tenements, exclude architectural features such as bay windows from setback requirements, and increase the maximum residential fence height to four ft. to permit Philadelphia homeowners to use standard retail fences. “If We Fix It, They Will Come” is BIA's agenda for “streamlining the development process and modernizing the zoning code” and can be downloaded here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

High School Students from West Philadelphia Build the Word’s First Hybrid “Super Car”

The car – that took almost two years to build - accelerates from 0 to 60 in four seconds and generates almost no greenhouse pollution (see story). The team is made up of 10th to 12th grade students from West Philadelphia High School's Automotive Academy. The sports car and the team that built it are leaving soon for the 17th Annual Tour de Sol, an alternative fuel vehicle event sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (“NESEA”).

Mayor Steps Down

Saying that the city "needs a fresh start." and that "[a] good leader knows when it is time to move on" the Mayor plans to step down on July 15. The Mayor’s announcement came after a recent Time Magazine article named him one of the three worst big-city mayors in the country and as a swirl of federal investigations has hindered his administration’s ability to effectively govern. Of course, I’m talking about the Mayor of San Diego, Dick Murphy. Did you have somebody else in mind?
Question: Does anybody have an opinion about what the Mayor of our City should be doing at this time, as former employees and associates are tried for and/or convicted of federal crimes? Should he be thinking about stepping down, for the good of the City? Should the public be thinking about retiring him - via the City Charter's recall provision?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Philadelphia Film Festival Set Record

The recently completed 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival drew record crowds; 65,101, up 4,000 over last year's record, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Of 300 screenings held from April 7 to 20, a record 90 were sellouts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Corruption Trial Verdicts Troubling You? Let's Stop Play-to-Play

In March, Philadelphia City Council could have modernized City government by passing two of Councilman Michael Nutter's bills that would have significantly changed the method by which professional service contracts are solicited and secured. The bills each needed 12 yes votes, but fell one vote short in each case. If you're disappointed, let the "status quo five" (the five Councilpeople who didn't support the bills) know that you are disappointed in them and want them to approve these bills - or similar pieces of legislation - when they come up in the future. Here's the website: http://www.stoppaytoplay.info

Monday, May 09, 2005

Cira Center is Filling Up

According to the Center City District, the Cira Centre has landed three new tenants; all are relocating from the Main Line. Mand Marblestone & Danziger - a Bala Cynwyd law firm - has leased 10,000 square feet. Reger, Rizzo, Kavulich & Darnall - a King of Prussia law firm - has signed a lease for 27,600 square feet. And Capsicum Group - a technology-consulting firm - is relocating from Berwyn, square footage unknown. Filling up this building and luring firms from outside the City is fantastic, but don't forget that they're coming in part because of the Keystone Opportunity Zone tax incentives. These tax incentives are fantastic, but think of all the other firms we'd lure if we could lower the tax burden more universally.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Philadelphia Construction Boom: Unprecedented

Ninety-five construction projects are under way in Philadelphia, with an aggregate value of $3 billion. The quantity and cost of these projects is unprecedented. In particular, Center City has never seen anything like it. The Philadelphia Business Journal has a good wrap up.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

RecycleBank a “Raging Success” - Increases Residential Recycling Rates to over 50%

RecycleBank has brought a groundbreaking recycling concept to neighborhoods in Philadelphia's “Fabulous Northwest” (see story). RecycleBank provides the City of Philadelphia with bar code technology that tracks a household’s recycling volume; households subsequently earn points that can be redeemed for coupons at local businesses. Cities and towns around the nation are looking to Philadelphia as the laboratory for this novel approach to incentivizing household recycling. Patrick Fitzgerald – one of RecycleBank’s founders – reports that the recycling rate in Chestnut Hill neighborhoods served by RecycleBank has increased from 15.5% to 50% percent since the program began in January. Initially, 600 households were involved; the program has since doubled. RecycleBank was launched by social entrepreneurs Fitzgerald (who is from Jenkintown) and Philadelphia native Ron Gonen, who conjured up the business model while graduate students.

Friday, April 29, 2005

RiverLink Ferry Season Begins

The RiverLink Ferry is now operating between Penn’s Landing and the Camden waterfront. The ferry runs Friday to Sunday from April to October. Daily service is available from May through September. Another ship - the Independence - will offer 90-minute harbor tours beginning May 1.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

School District Establishes Center City Region

The School District of Philadelphia – led by the visionary CEO Paul Vallas - has established a 10th, separate region for Center City that includes all public elementary, middle and high schools in the area circumscribed by Poplar Street, Washington Avenue, and the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. This initiative is a collaborative effort of the Center City District and Philadelphia School District designed to improve public school options for Center City residents through marketing campaigns, expansion of school choice programs and infrastructure improvements. For more information, go to the Center City Schools Initiative.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Philadelphia and the BPT: Imperfect Together

The Philadelphia Inquirer had an interesting story this weekend about Philadelphia’s wage tax. It talked about recent wage tax collection data and the story it tells; while employment and population continue to shrink (albeit slowly) incomes in Philadelphia are going up. The last four years for which the City has complete data – 2001 through 2004 – indicate that private-sector jobs in Philadelphia decreased approximately 4.3 percent. The wage tax rate paid by residents and commuters also went down, as it has annually since 1996. However, aggregate wage tax revenue increase during that same period by over $60 million. These figures suggest that the “Philadelphia story is no longer one of straight-line loss in employment and people, but rather of an evolving city, gradually becoming home to higher-paying jobs and higher-earning residents.” However, Philadelphia's recent gains are apparently concentrated in sectors dominated by non-profit employers such as colleges and hospitals. Other industry sectors are either static or decreasing in Philadelphia, but growing elsewhere in the region. Firms that create such jobs are for-profit and subject to the City's tax on gross receipts and profits – the Business Privilege Tax. This tax receipt data suggests that such for-profits are apprehensive about investing in Philadelphia. What’s the solution? Continued incremental wage tax reductions and a wholesale reengineering of the business privilege tax, with a gradual phase out of the gross receipts portion. Philadelphia Forward and about a million other people have been talking about it for years; the question has been asked and answered, with anecdotal and empirical evidence proving the point over and over again.

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