Thursday dispatches from Philly
- As the field of 2007 mayoral contenders hem and haw about whether they're really candidates and whether they have to follow campaign finance law, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce has sided with the law in no uncertain terms.
"Enough is enough," said chamber president Mark S. Schweiker. "The reputation politically of this city has been damaged enough. It's time to live by the dictates of the ordinance."Given the number of big donors that the Chamber represents, their decision could have the effect of a fait accompli. The Inquirer editorial page supports the Chamber and Committee of Seventy in these efforts to resurrect the spirit of the campaign finance restrictions.
- City Council takes Street to task over neglecting the city streets in his latest budget. His own staff recommended a figure almost three times higher for simple upkeep of facilities and infrastructure.
- A Daily News article reviews the forecasts and reality of the city's new sports arenas, concluding that the construction projects have been a financial loser for city residents.
- Well, local financial shadiness is certainly keeping federal investigators employed! The latest object of scrutiny is the sale of a downtown parking lot by the Redevelopment Authority. The transaction sounds pretty clear from the descriptions given here, but who knows what goes on in the invisible generation of assessments and all the rest...
- Ray Murphy at YPP lays out the case for the criticality of Philadelphia in the 2006 election for US Senate, the criticality of that race to the region, and for turning Rick Santorum out of office. He'll be leading the charge via his new organization Philadelphians Against Santorum, putting to good use his experience as regional head of MoveOn's 2004 operations.
- Marc Stier has two posts today looking at the critical issue facing evolving neighborhoods amid a citywide economic shift: gentrification. The first piece looks at what happens when the middle class flees, sketching the things that make life ever more difficult for those left behind, but pointing out that the people themselves are often brave and hardworking, even if their neighborhoods are falling apart around them. Stier argues that the return of more self-sufficient residents can help these neighborhoods fix themselves, as long as the long-time residents are not shouldered out along the way. His second piece gives an outline of how to do gentrification right so that everybody wins.
The return of the middle class to parts of the city they fled years ago gives us a second chance to create the kind of city we failed to once before, a city of economically, culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse neighborhoods that give everyone the opportunity to succeed as individuals, to be part of a vital community, and to feel at home in their own country.An exciting prospect, and one that Philadelphia, in the midst of a huge amount of rebuilding and revitalization, would do well to pursue with care and foresight.