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

     Kim East works on a mosaic sign for the front of the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, which opened in 2012. The development of an arts community is a big part of Tamaqua's vision for revitalization. Read more about Tamaqua under the heading “Community revitalization.” (Chanukah Christie/WPSU)

    Kim East works on a mosaic sign for the front of the Tamaqua Community Arts Center, which opened in 2012. The development of an arts community is a big part of Tamaqua's vision for revitalization. Read more about Tamaqua under the heading “Community revitalization.” (Chanukah Christie/WPSU)

    Happy first day of winter! (Oh wait, I mean spring.)

    Here’s this week’s list of recommended reading to keep you warm this weekend:

    Capitol news

    Unfunded pensions is a huge problem for Pennsylvania municipalities. (Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto says under the current system, present employees will not receive a pension.) But city leaders say the pension problem can’t be fixed without state reform

    Remember the proposed constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers more power over how to determine what organizations are tax exempt? Some municipal officials are worried.

    Community revitalization

    A yearlong program trains community leaders in the long-term work of revitalization. “If you think it’s going to be quick and easy, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But if you stick at it for the long haul, you can really change your community.”

    Police

    Pittsburgh is one of six cities chosen to be a pilot site for a national program aimed at improving community-police relations through training on issues like racial reconciliation and violence prevention. (WESA)

    There were 25 Pennsylvania municipalities that dissolved their local police departments last year—leaving state troopers to “pick up the slack.”

    A number of cities are empowering their police officers to advocate for the homeless population in a new way. 

    Schools

    Charter schools are wary of the fine print of Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget.

    There have been mixed responses to the resignation of York City School District’s chief recovery officer (who was pushing to charterize the district). (WITF)

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Pa. has the widest spending gap between rich and poor districts (Philly.com). But Watchdog reports that statement might be misleading

    Looking ahead

    We break down five upcoming mayoral elections to watch in Pennsylvania.

    Newsworks is unrolling “Around the Corner,” a new series on Philadelphia’s changing neighborhoods ahead of the mayoral election. First visit: Brewerytown, a study in gentrification. 

    Philly.com crunches the numbers to see mayoral hopefuls’ potential pensions. (They warn: “The information you are about to digest may cause a rash of jealousy or sudden vexation. Or, at the very least, a burning desire to run for elected office.”)

    City life

    City Lab sums up a new study: “the largest cities in the U.S. are also some of its most unequal, now more than ever.”

    How can cities woo small businesses? The Week has a few suggestions.

    Presidential matters

    Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto had two minutes to talk with President Obama. His topics of choice? Autonomous cars and localized energy.

    VP Joe Biden waxed poetic during a St. Patrick’s Day visit to Scranton, his childhood hometown. In a nod to James Joyce, Biden said, “When I die — it’s not hyperbole — Scranton will be written on [my heart]. It is the place from which all the values I hold dearest sprung, right here in this Lackawanna Valley soil.” (Lancaster Online)

    Commutes

    Philadelphia workers have the longest commutes, while Erie residents have the shortest. All told, Pennsylvania commuters “have it easy.” 

    (Speaking of commutes, check out this new luxury bus line in San Francisco. For $6, you have the option of having a granola bar delivered to your seat. Via City Lab)

    What happens when a town’s major bridge can’t be repaired? Residents of Donora say a bridge closing quickened the town’s demise. (Wall Street Journal, paywall)

    A Q&A about bike policy and infrastructure in Philly. (Newsworks)

    Let’s just all try to get along, ok?

    Lancaster Online posted a list of reasons “Lancaster’s downtown is better than York’s.” 

    And York Daily Record responded through an editorial: “York has an unfortunate inferiority complex about its neighbor across the river. We need to get over it.”

    And more:

    Casino revenues have been slipping. Leadership from 10 Pennsylvania casinos have asked state legislators to protect the casinos’ interests. (Philly.com)

    Ithaca’s millennial mayor says urbanism isn’t just a hipster fad. (The Washington Post)

     

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