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

     Pittsburgh skyline. (Credit: Ryan Loew/WESA)

    Pittsburgh skyline. (Credit: Ryan Loew/WESA)

    It’s Friday! That means it’s time for our roundup of recommended reading from this week.

    Politics

    Gov. Tom Wolf held a town hall meeting this week—on Facebook.

    Billy Penn put together a humorous summary of a Philly mayoral forum. (Read to the end to see “who got pissed,” “who dodged,” and “best insult.”)

    Capitol recap: Pa. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale wrapped up his series of meetings about the constitutional amendment that would change how the the tax status of nonprofits is determined.

    Indiana has drawn fire for its religious freedom law… but how do Pennsylvania’s own laws compare? (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    State budget talks: “The problem getting started is, where do you start?” 

    Pensions 

    Pa. chipped in more than $250 million last year towards municipal pensions–but how exactly does the state divvy up the money?  

    Penn Live reports Gov. Tom Corbett, a critic of the state pension system, now collects about $40,000 a year.

    The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has counted on municipal jails and police departments’ assistance in cracking down on undocumented immigrants… but cities are increasingly wary. Next City did a deep dive into Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s executive immigration legacy order to freeze out ICE and the legacy he’s leaving behind

    The federal government is now involved in a Scranton pension investigation. At least six former city employees had been benefiting from a 2002 retirement incentive they weren’t actually eligible to take. (This is just the latest chapter in Scranton’s history of pension problems.) The Times-Tribune

    We’re close to launching our series on municipal pensions. Stay tuned!

    Education

    Pennsylvania is considering more oversight of the four school districts suffering so severely that the state has put them in financial recovery status.

    Population

    We took a look at Pennsylvania State Data Center’s report on population growth in Pa. counties. Spoiler alert: Cumberland County is the fastest growing county since 2010, with Centre County not far behind.)

    And here’s a breakdown of a census report on “young adult migration” (i.e, where are millennials moving?). (City Lab)Public transit

    Next City’s recommendation for how Philly can better connect its commuter lines evolves into a history of the city’s rail system.

    The Port Authority of Allegheny County is investing in a new map (not an app, an actual map). Plan Philly

    Health

    Philadelphia has the dubious distinction of being the unhealthiest county in Pa. Union Township wins for healthiest. (County Health Rankings and Roadmap)

    Mental health advocates asked state lawmakers to push for legislation that would take down barriers to mental health treatments. (WESA)

    A medical marijuana bill is back on the Senate table. (The Collegian

    Good ideas

    Philadelphia was a big winner of the Knight Cities Challenge—seven Philly-based projects are among the 32 that beat out thousands of entries. A couple of the notable ventures: the Pop-Up Pool Project, aimed to spruce up public pools; and the Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub, a space that will offer immigrants assistance, training, and access to capital.

    Etc.

    For neighbors with shared walls and alleys, who takes care of repairs? Well, it depends on where you live.

    Good news for ex-convicts: Allentown is the latest city to “Ban the Box”

    Reading Eagle Press is now REP (which stands for “reliable, experienced, progressive”). Is this a trend? The Intelligencer Journal and Lancaster New Era switched to LNP last year. (To be honest, I still don’t know what that acronym stands for. Anyone?) 

    Wheeeee!! Ever-focused on making downtown cool, Lancaster is converting a street to a massive water slide this summer.

    And finally…

    THANKS to the more than 70 residents who attended our forum in Lehigh Valley (our sixth forum since we launched Keystone Crossroads last June).

     

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