In case you missed it: this week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     (Groundhog Day/AP Images)

    (Groundhog Day/AP Images)

    This week: no budget approval, big crowd concerns … sounds like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

    This week: no budget approval, big crowd concerns … sounds like the movie “Groundhog Day.” Here are fresh new reads about urban challenges, and solutions.

    Ideas worth stealing

    Listen up, Philly. If you’re fretting over the details of the Pope’s upcoming visit, it’s time to chill. Pennsylvania towns can handle a crowd, even when it quintuples their population. Just ask Punxsutawney Phil.

    There is cheap and creative lodging available for the papal weekend. You can have a sleepover in a health club, a battleship or a museum. (Newsworks)

    New York City, San Francisco and parts of New Jersey do it. Pennsylvania is considering it, but hasn’t made the move. With immigrant populations growing, especially in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, it might make sense to give undocumented workers a municipal ID.

    Island hopping

    No TSA lines or luggage required. Explore Pennsylvania islands where you can hike, bike, play mini-golf and enjoy a baseball game, with a full-sized ballpark included.  Discover an island that was once a slaughterhouse and is now neighborhoods and marinas.

    Harrisburg

    Although the 400+ counts have been whittled down a bit, a judge ruled that former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed will face trial on charges including corruption, bribery, and theft. (WITF)

    As the budget that isn’t continues, GOP lawmakers have a plan for a stopgap budget, but are short on details. The governor vows to veto their plan.

    Citing a failure “to acknowledge the commonwealth’s responsibility” to fund mandated programs, a coalition of social service providers is suing the Wolf administration over the budget impasse.

    Some good government news for Pennsylvania’s neediest citizens: The Public Utility Commission believes many more Pennsylvanians are eligible for Lifeline, a federal discounted phone service, and is “calling on residents” to take advantage of it.

    Education

    Parents, don’t panic. There is a universal expectation that PSSA test scores will be lower this year as they adjust to the standards of the new Pennsylvania Common Core. This adjustment will create a new baseline for the PSSA in years to come. (WESA)

    One Altoona area school district is bucking the trend, reporting increased PSSA scores. (Altoona Mirror)

    If the commonwealth reaches October without a budget, many school districts face problems. Bradford predicts that districts will need to borrow money. (The Bradford Era)

    Two Lancaster County school districts have voted to withhold charter school payments until the budget is resolved. (LancasterOnline)

    Housing

    College students need not apply to rent in tony Rittenhouse Square. That seems to be the message in a bill introduced by Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke. Some center city residents see the ban on student housing as a bit extreme. (PlanPhilly)

    But it could be worse. Baltimore has a courtroom that has become an obstacle course for affordable housing. (NextCity)

    The unique fingerprint of each city can determine the success or failure of a neighborhood. Factors include density, diversity and transportation. (CityLab)

     

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.