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

     A Philadelphia firefighter walks near the scene of an overnight blaze in west Philadelphia, where ice has formed from the water used to fight the fire. Bone-chilling, single digit temperatures have gripped the region. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

    A Philadelphia firefighter walks near the scene of an overnight blaze in west Philadelphia, where ice has formed from the water used to fight the fire. Bone-chilling, single digit temperatures have gripped the region. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

    Happy Friday! Here’s some recommended reading for your weekend.

    Capitol recap

    A bill that would let voters decide whether to give the General Assembly more authority to decide which organizations should be tax-exempt cleared Senate this week.

    We crunched the numbers to see which Pa. cities are most affected by tax exemption.

    School decisions

    Philadelphians have been heatedly debating the expansion of charter schools in their city. The SRC turned down 34 charter school applications and approved five. But it’s not necessarily over for the denied providers–they can appeal the decision.

    Pottsville and Saint Clair area school districts are considering a merger.

    Another day, another corruption case

    Pa Treasurer and former gubernatorial hopeful Rob McCord pled guilty to attempted extortion. He could face up to 40 years in prison. 

    Transparency

    Next City reports Philly upgraded its open data portal this week. 

    And Pittsburgh’s budget visualization site, Fiscal Focus Pittsburgh, launched this month. Mayor Peduto calls it the “latest way Pittsburgh is letting the sun shine in.”

    Trends and numbers

    The number of manufacturing establishments in Pennsylvania dropped 9.2 percent 2007-2012. That’s better than the nationwide average, but not by much.

    Venture capital funds in Pittsburgh, on the other hand, have more than doubled from 2013 to 2014. The catch? Almost half that money went to just three deals. (WESA)

    Pittsburgh expects to see job growth this year… but how will those jobs pay? (WESA)

    Self-defense… from lawsuits

    Many municipalities opted to change their local ordinances under threat of lawsuits by the NRA over local gun laws, but there are some that have stood their ground. Now Harrisburg and Lancaster are asking for money for defense from the lawsuits filed against them by gun groups.

    How much is your time worth?

    During his campaign, Gov. Tom Wolf said he wanted to speed up travel between Philly and Pittsburgh. But PennDOT crunched the numbers and, well, it would cost a lot of money to shave off even just ten minutes.

    In other news…

    A report released yesterday looks at “super-utilizers” (frequently-readmitted hospital patients). One finding? Super-utilizers make up only 3% of admitted patients—but they account for a disproportionate amount of resources.

    Scranton council members are seeking an investigation over how 14 employees have been receiving double pensions worth almost $1 million. (The Times Tribune)

    It’s a good time to be a landlord. (Marketplace)

    Latest in our Five Questions series: Pittsburgh’s Mark Fatla says there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to amenities he wants to bring to his city.

    Just for fun: movies and TV

    The final episode of Parks and Recreation will air next week. Next City lists three ways the show gets municipal government right.

    A police department in Harlan, Kentucky (no doubt driven nuts by the cold) got desperate and issued an arrest warrant for… Queen Elsa? (City Lab)

    It’s true–it’s so very cold. If your weekend plans include curling up on a couch under a pile of blankets, why not take the time to learn more about your state? We put together a list of Pa. documentaries for your Netflix queue.

    Stay warm, friends!

     

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