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Vol. I No. 119

Keeping You Posted With The Politics Of Philadelphia

December 15, 2010

Philadelphia

Daily Record

Why We Celebrate

CHRISTMAS CRECHE will be dedicated this afternoon at 4 pm at Love Park in ceremony commemorating religious aspects of the Holiday season. It will remain there until Jan. 8.


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Translation/Interpretation

Stack, McGeehan See Better Use For Liddonfield Site Continuing to honor their pledge to keep the public informed of the status of the former Liddonfield Homes site, State Sen. Mike Stack and State Rep. Mike McGeehan today met with the media at the property along with representatives of the Philadelphia Housing Authority and a construction manager. Both were glad to report the nearcompletion of the demolition of the deteriorated housing project. In 2006, the two sought the help of Gov. Ed Rendell and obtained $3.5 million from the State’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Fund to level the buildings.

get some idea of what they believe might be viable for the future use of the property,” Stack said. “We’re looking to stir things up and get people thinking about it.” The two noted the Housing Authority requires public input during the design process if PHA funds are involved. “We want to make certain that opportunity for public input is fulfilled and we get this property back to work benefiting people,” McGeehan added.

General Assembly Reserve Fund Cut To $188 Million

The next challenge is what to do with the vacant tract. Original plans had been for construction of a mix of housing units, including homes for older residents and regular market-rate housing. However, the current economic downturn and the state of the real-estate market have not favored those outcomes.

The General Assembly’s so-called “slush fund” has been trimmed a little, but it’s still sizable. According to an audit of legislative finances, the legislative reserve fund ended fiscal 2009-10 on Jun. 30 with a $188 million surplus, down from the $201 million surplus of Jun. 30, 2009. It’s a decrease of over 6%, said State Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-Montgomery).

“We have met with potential developers and the Housing Authority to stay on top of those prospects, but the current timetable for an issuance of a developer Request for Proposal invitation by the authority is not in place,” McGeehan said.

The report was done by the Legislative Audit Advisory Commission. The reserve fund has been defended by legislative leaders as necessary for keeping staff on the payroll if a State budget isn’t ready by the annual deadline of Jul. 1.

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“Rep. McGeehan and I recently met with potential developers to THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

15 DECEMBER, 2010


We’re China’s Christmas Gift Only $488.5 million. That’s the value of US imports of Christmas-tree ornaments from China between January and August 2010 reached $488.5 million according to the Census Bureau. China was the leading country of origin for such items. Similarly, China was the leading foreign source of artificial Christmas trees shipped to the United States ($28.2 million worth) during the same period.

School District Checks On Its Contracts General Counsel of the School District of Philadelphia, Michael Davis, after consultation with School Reform Commission Chairman Robert Archie, announced today an outside expert has been brought in to conduct an in-depth investigation of the District’s business and facilities operations. Apparent inconsistencies in the distribution of prime contracts to vendors, as well as questionable practices in other areas of business and facilities operations, as reported by multiple firms hoping to do business with the school District, led to these new aggressive steps. 15 DECEMBER, 2010

The investigation was started two weeks ago. It turned out to be much more complex than anticipated. An outside expert will be able to devote 100% of his attention to this matter. Officials hope to have the investigation completed within two weeks.

Penna. Voters Say No To Taxes by Eric Boehm Special From the Pennsylvania Independent – Pennsylvania voters are supportive but skeptical of Gov.-Elect Tom Corbett’s pledge not to raise taxes or fees to balance the State budget. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning, voters are split 47% to 44% when asked if Corbett’s “no-tax” pledge is a good idea. However, 65% of Pennsylvania voters oppose raising taxes to balance the budget. Despite their opposition to new taxes, 53% of voters doubt Corbett will be able to keep his pledge, while 33% say he will keep it. “Voters would love low taxes and lots of services, so [politicians] have to choose,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Those choices are not going to be pleasant ones.” When it comes to proposed plans THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

for balancing the budget, Pennsylvanians are split over the options to sell State assets and cut State services. Two-thirds of voters surveyed said they support the privatization of the State liquor stores, but only 36% of voters are in favor of leasing the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a private firm. Brown said he could not explain why voters would support privatization of some State assets and not others. According to House Majority Leader-Elect Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny), one of the leading proponents of privatizing the liquor stores, the sale of the stores could provide a one-time influx of $2 billion to the State budget. The State would continue to collect revenue from the liquor stores in future years through taxes. Pennsylvania faces an estimated budget deficit of more than $4 billion next year, along with increasing public pension payments, more than $3 billion in federal unemployment compensation debt and a $472 million annual budget shortfall for transportation. By a margin of 51% to 41%, voters are in favor of laying off State workers to help balance the budget. According to the US Dept. of Labor, State government jobs have increased by 13,000 in Pennsylvania since December 2002, the |

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month before Gov. Ed Rendell took office. In the same time period, private-sector jobs in the state shrunk by 12,500. When asked to rank their responses from most favorable to least favorable, 54% of voters supported selling the State liquor stores as their first choice to balance the budget. Seventeen percent said leasing the turnpike should be the first option, while 14% chose laying off State workers. Only 7% favored raising taxes as the first solution to the deficit. “Obviously, this is a time where

there are lots of fiscal challenges. No matter what the options that the new governor picks, it’s going to make some people unhappy,” said Brown. As Corbett prepares to take the oath of office in little more than a month, 59% of voters said they were optimistic about the next four years. “Voters historically give the new guy the benefit of the doubt,” said Brown. “There is a general tendency to give your leaders the opportunity to succeed, and that’s what they are hoping for.” Corbett, a Republican, has Democrat voters feeling optimistic as well, by a slim margin of 45% to 40%.

Suburbanites: City’s Great To Visit, But Not To Live

Fifty-three percent of suburban residents think the city is headed in the right direction while only 24% say it is off on the wrong track. That is a rosier assessment than Philadelphia residents gave in a poll conducted for the PRI in January; 41% said the city is headed right direction, 34% said wrong track. By a large margin (55%), residents of suburban counties also believe that the city will get better in the next five years.

In addition, suburbanites think there is a strong link between Philadelphia’s future and that of their own communities. But they identify less strongly with the city than they did a decade ago.

Residents of the suburban counties give the city glowing ratings as a place to visit; 81% give it a good or excellent overall grade. Ninety-six percent say it is a good or excellent place for historical sites and landmarks, 94% for arts and culture, 92% for spectator sports and 90% for food and restaurants. Only as a place to shop does the city get a less than stellar mark, with 64% rating it good or excellent for that purpose.

These are among the findings of a new poll of 801 residents of Bucks,

But suburbanites are not nearly as enthusiastic about Philadelphia as a

Residents of Philadelphia’s suburbs have a generally positive impression of the city, though they value it more as a place to visit than as a place to live.

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Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Cos. in Pennsylvania and Burlington, Camden and Gloucester in New Jersey. The survey, which explored attitudes toward the city of Philadelphia, was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative and conducted by Abt SRBI Public Affairs, working with Rutgers Professor Cliff Zukin.

THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

15 DECEMBER, 2010


place to live. Thirty-nine percent rate it a good or excellent place in that regard while 56% rate it “only fair” or poor. Asked what they would tell someone thinking of moving to the city, 42% say they would recommend in favor of such a move. The rest are split between recommending against a move or offering no recommendation either way. Thirteen percent think it is very or somewhat likely they will move to the city in the next 10 years or so. As for the relationship between suburb and city, suburbanites see the futures of their communities and that of Philadelphia as intertwined. Eighty-six percent say the city’s economy is important to the region; 78% say the social and economic conditions in the city are important to them; 65% say Philadelphia is important to their own quality of life; 78% would like to see city and suburban officials work together to address regional issues.

may be one of the most gratifying findings, the evidence that, for suburbanites, to know the city is to like it,” said Larry Eichel, project director of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative. “At the same time, when you compare the poll results with similar surveys done in the past, you see evidence suburban residents as a group feel a greater sense of separation from the city than they once did.”

Dec. 14Portrait presentation of Hon. Sheldon C. Jelin at City Hall, Room 653, 4 p.m. Reception following in Conversation Hall. Dec. 18-

In the current poll, for instance, 42% say they use “Philadelphia” or “the Philadelphia area” to describe where they live when asked by someone from outside the region. An average of 50% chose the Philadelphia options in surveys conducted between 1996 and 1998.

Caribbean Night Happy Hour fundraiser for Lawrence Clark for City Council at Banana’s 876 Lounge, 5500 Rising Sun Ave., 6-9 p.m. Donation $10 includes food.; donate blanket for homeless and it’s $8. Make checks to Clark4Change, P.O.

Today’s suburban residents say they come to the city less often – 42% of them report visiting more than once a month (including work trips), compared to 48% a decade ago.

Box 27154, Phila., PA 19118. Jan. 27Edward J. Lowry, founder of Phila. Veterans MultiService and Education Ctr., will be honored on retirement at Waterfall Rm. in Plumbers Local 690

On almost every question, the city gets higher ratings from commuters, the wealthy and the young and lower ratings from those who rarely visit, from low-income suburbanites and the elderly. For the most part, those who have more frequent contact with Philadelphia tend to have a more positive impression of it.

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Rd., Cocktails 6-8 p.m., followed by Tribute Program. Tickets $65. Order by phone (215) 238-8050. Event Chair Ed Keenan, Board Chair Jim McNesby and Exec. Dir. Marsha Four.

215-755-2000 “From the city’s viewpoint, this 15 DECEMBER, 2010

Fax: 215-689-4099 THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY RECORD

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Philadelphia Daily Record