Archive: February, 2013
This week, Gov. Corbett announced the year's first round of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants (RACP). A number of Philly entities — all but one of them nonprofit or public institutions — cashed in for anywhere from $500,000 to $5 million. Also receiving the state's largesse: An offshoot of Sunoco, a company that was recently named in a study as one of the Pennsylvania biggest tax-dodgers.
The RACP round included $5 million for a new art-handling facility for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, $500,000 for the Enterprise Center CDC's open but half-vacant Culinary Enterprise Center, $1.3 million for the zoo, $3 million for a parking garage and ambulatory care center at CHoP, $2.5 million for a University of the Sciences technology center, $1 million for a clinical learning center at PCOM — and $5 million for Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES).
PES is, of course, the joint venture between Sunoco and the Carlyle Group, which is using the money to help refurbish the Philly refinery's catalytic cracker unit. They plan to invest $200 million in the plant, but are also supposed to be getting a promised $25 million in state grants plus "the possibility of a tax-free zone."
Sunoco is, of course, one of the top three companies in Pennsylvania when it comes to exploiting state tax loopholes by offshoring, according to a recent report by PennPIRG. Such loopholes cost Pennsylvania an estimated $2.1 billion a year.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development is getting $4 million to develop its Central Green, pictured below, in the Navy Yard.
Ah, love. It can be co-opted for so many causes. This morning, Philly paid-sick-day proponents are urging City Council to show some love to the paid-sick-day legislation introduced by Councilman Bill Greenlee.
Philadelphia Coalition for Healthy Family and Workplaces and PathWays PA organized the delivery of postcards, letters and petitions to City Council offices at 11 a.m. today. Per the press release: "On Valentine’s Day, Philadelphians will show their love for the Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill, which currently awaits a hearing in City Council. Many Philadelphians, including constituents of Councilman Mark Squilla and Councilman Bobby Henon, will visit City Hall to hand deliver over one thousand signed letters, postcards, and petition signatures urging support and passage of earned sick days. In Philadelphia, about 200,000 workers do not currently have access to paid sick time and are forced to work sick or risk their wages or jobs to take time off when they or their families are ill."
Two men behind the local animal rescue Justice Rescue (known to Daily News readers as "burly bikers on a mission") are known for being aggressive in responding to reports of animal cruelty. But recently they crossed a line, according to the Pennsylvania SPCA. The PSCPA claims Justice Rescue has been impersonating its Humane Law Enforcement officers, who are sworn, armed police officers with arresting powers. They say Philly Police were able to arrest Russell Wayne Harper (aka “Wolf”) and Robert John Lewis (aka “House”), after the PSPCA received numerous complaints.
An email to Justice Rescue on Monday was not returned. Their motto is, "It's not about the toes we step on, it's about the paws we protect."
PSPCA spokesperson Wendy Marano says Justice Rescue took a dog from a home in Northeast Philly against the owner's wishes; it was the first time that the PSPCA was able to confirm that the rescue had been imersonating its officers. "We had complaints about [the conditions provided for] this animal at this location, but the animal actually met the letter of the law. The dog was fine, and had food, water, shelter. But we got some addtional complaints and our officers went to the location to check it out — and the owner said, 'I don't know what you're talking about. You guys were here yesterday and you took the dog.'"
Act 13, the state's meager shale-gas-drilling "impact fee," is turning out to have something of a misnomer, according to activists who say those actually impacted by drilling (ie. people who have lost access to safe drinking water) aren't benefiting from the funds. Today, a year after the measure was signed into law, they'll be protesting Act 13 at Love Park at 4:30 p.m. sharp, apparently creating a photo-op to showcase the fact that "Corbett LOVEs Fracking.”
Gov. Corbett isn't the only one. Last night, President Obama once again affirmed his commitment to shale-gas drilling in his State of the Union address, noting, "the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits." The Marcellus Shale Coalition immediately released a statement ot the effect that it is satisfied with this "agressive agenda."
A weekly series of foul-mouthed investigations into empty lots, dead-ass proposals and other design phenomena in Philadelphia. Find more stories like this at Philaphilia.blogspot.com.
The only picture of it is from this model of an unrelated Dead-Ass Proposal. Its the one with the two goofy rectangles at the top.
Ever wonder why there's a big empty hole at 13th and Market? Less than a block away from City Hall? Prime real estate that can't get moving on ANYTHING and has been empty for nearly 20 years? Well, this is it. This is the reason that piece of fuck just sits there parking cars night and day, embarrassing the fuck out of the city. It all started in the late 1980s.
Coming off the Reading Company's success with the mostly taxpayer-funded Aramark Tower (aka One Reading Plaza) and foreknowledge surrounding the coming Convention Center, the northwest corner of 13th and Market was primed for a signature skyscraper that could bring the new life to an undead area. The block was still carrying short, beat-up, underutilized buildings constructed around the same time as the historic Wanamaker's across the street. At the corner, a shitbag mid-century retail box stank up the area. In order to bring Market East into the next century, this little spot would have to modernize.
Filed Under: News
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The William Penn Foundation has suspended grant-making to city-related agencies after public education advocates filed a complaint charging that the $2 billion philanthropy violated Philadelphia's new lobbying code when it funded and directed millions of outside dollars to pay the Boston Consulting Group to develop a controversial restructuring plan for the School District of Philadelphia.
"A citizen complaint was recently filed with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics alleging that certain grantmaking activities of the Foundation are regulated by the City’s lobbying registration and reporting ordinance," according to an email from Interim President Helen Davis Picher. "The Foundation wants to ensure our full compliance with the ordinance and is awaiting further clarification with regard to its scope concerning permissible grant activity."
The city says that it received a letter announcing the decision in reference to a grant application seeking funding for Bartram's Mile, a proposed 1.1-mile trail extension linking the east and west sides of the Schuylkill River.
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Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams accepted at least $9,466.99 in campaign contributions from indicted political operative John D. McDaniel, according to Board of Ethics records. A former campaign manager for Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown with ties to Laborers Local 322, a Philadelphia-based construction union, McDaniel was charged with wire fraud by federal attorneys last week after it was revealed that he had conducted and paid himself for political activity while employed by the City of Philadelphia. Political work by municipal employees is prohibited under the city charter.
I'm a little behind in my podcast listening, so I only just now realized that the Jan. 23 episode of the always-great design-oriented 99% Invisible concerned LOVE Park's long, strange history as a skateboarding Mecca/no-man's-land. City Paper was there back in 2002, when 92-year-old city planner/Kevin Bacon's dad Ed Bacon put on a helmet and defied Mayor Street's skating ban. In fact, that's then news-editor Howard Altman and then-designer Brian Hogan holding the elder Bacon steady during his brief cube-gleaming. Here's what Altman wrote at the time.
"Don’t drop him,” I think to myself as I hold up the old man who is in the process of becoming the world’s most ancient skate rat. "Just don’t drop him. The last thing I want is The Bacon Brothers after me.”
It is a brisk Monday morning in late October. A smattering of skateboarders, a world-famous architect, a couple of television crews, the merely curious, a cop and the homeless have gathered around the LOVE sculpture in LOVE Park. They are here to see Edmund Bacon, the former city planner who envisioned this space, stage a four-wheeled rage against the machine.
"Cutting this park off from skateboarders is a serious mistake on the part of Mayor John Street," says Bacon as he steps gingerly onto a borrowed board. "And by this act of civil disobedience, I am showing my displeasure with the mayor's actions."
Check out the full 99% Invisible story here. Then subscribe, because it really is one of the best podcasts out there.
Howard Altman's covering the news down in Tampa these days, and he's on Twitter.
About 4,000 Pennsylvanians have concealed-carry gun permits from Florida, a loophole that's been a major and intractable issue for gun-law-reform advocates, who have attempted to address it by way of legislation and advocacy. So, Kathleen Kane, our recently installed state Attorney General, just went ahead and took care of it by herself.
She changed up the agreement between Florida and Pennsylvania so that Pennsylvania will only recognize those concealed-carry permits issued by Florida to bona fide Florida residents. People who actually live here will have 120 days to get their Pennsylvania permits in order, or to stop carrying guns around with them.
Here's her press release:
February 8. 2013
Bart Blatstein has sold off 60 percent of his Northern Liberties holdings at Piazza at Schmidt's and Liberties Walk, the Inquirer reports. Which just makes official what Blatstein has been openly indicating as he talks up his plans for a North Broad Street casino/entertainment hub: He's just not that into you anymore, NoLibs. As for the fate of the neighborhood he took over and revamped (and that has since suffered enjoyed property value inflation nearly along the lines of Old City's), well, the majority of that is a New York investor group's problem now.
Blatstein told residents at a Logan Square community meeting months back that he planned to move his offices to North Broad from their location at the Piazza as he re-focused on his new dream project. He also said that his dream of building "a place I wanted to be at" in the Piazza hadn't quite worked out. Sure, the bright young things had come flocking, but "All these pretty girls were calling me 'sir.' ... Where was this party scene 30 or 40 years ago?"
Whereas at North Broad Street, "the demographics we're going after, selfishly, are me."
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