Dive in to this week’s city reads as we get ready to launch our waterfront series on Wednesday, August 12th.
A cool dip in a pool brings welcome relief from the August heat. Here is a handy chart with the number of public swimming pools per resident across the state, and how much it costs to take the plunge.
Pittsburgh lost a beloved philanthropist and GOP matriarch who co-chaired the Save Our Summers campaign in 2004, raising money to reopen public pools closed by budget cuts. (TribLive)
Is there something in the water?
There has been no summer slow down in Pennsylvania political drama.
On Thursday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was indicted by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Furman. Charges for Kane include perjury, official oppression and obstruction of justice. Patrick Reese, Kane’s driver, was also charged. (WITF)
On Wednesday, former Reading City Council President Francisco Acosta pleaded guilty to accepting a $1,800 bribe in exchange for trying to orchestrate the repeal of some of the city’s anti-corruption laws. Federal prosecutors allege Mayor Vaughn Spencer is involved in the bribe.
Acosta’s attorney, Robert Goldman says that his client is remorseful and wants to “redeem himself” by assisting the federal investigation of “political corruption in the region.” (The Reading Eagle)
The bribe was alleged to have been delivered by Sam Ruchlewicz, who was working for Michael Fleck, campaign manager to both Mayor Vaughn and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Reading and Allentown are part of an FBI probe of city contracts. (The Morning Call)
In light of the FBI probe, Allentown residents packed a city council meeting Wednesday night, calling for resignations of Mayor Ed Pawlowski and council members. “You should all be very, very ashamed,” Allentown Brew Works co-owner Rich Fegley said. (LehighValleyLive)
According to sources, Reading Mayor Spencer and two others have received target letters in conjunction with the “pay to “play” FBI probe. A target letter is a letter sent to an individual (or target) who will likely be indicted and subpoened to appear before a grand jury. Sam Ruchlewicz and Eron Lloyd, special assistant to the Mayor are named as the targets. (The Reading Eagle)
In a recent interview with Keystone Crossroads, Mr. Lloyd discussed the negative reputation created by gridlock in city government, especially when trying to develop partnerships that attract grants and loans. We spend so much time dealing with, you know, keeping the train running so to speak – taking out the trash, really – that we don’t have the time to stay on top of those relationships,” Lloyd said.
Oh, and Pennsylvania lawmakers still have not yet passed a budget.
To protect and respect
You often hear about the registration of sex offenders, but what about victims? A collaboration between the State Police and the Office of Victim Advocate has almost doubled the registration of victims. By being registered, victims can be notified of any changes in their offender’s status and request services.It’s known as “catcalling,” and it’s especially prevalent in cities, impacting women and the LGBTQ community. That’s why one Manhattan mother decided that she had to have a conversation with her teenage son about street harassment. She also enlisted the help of a favorite comedian’s video to reinforce the message. (CityLab)
Development and demolition
Last week, we learned about councilmanic prerogative, an unofficial practice where Philadelphia city council members, representing geographic areas, have the power to make land use decisions. The rationale used by the council is that it members have the most knowledge their geographic area and constituents, and are best positioned to make these types of decisions. (PlanPhilly)New York does things differently and it may be an idea that could work for Pennsylvania cities. A 1975 City Charter was passed that ensures that the public, the Community Board, the Borough President and Borough Board, the City Planning Commission, City Council, and the Mayor are involved in development decisions. Public input is not binding, but the process — called the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP — is more transparent.
One Lancaster County 18th century house has become so dilapidated it is on the verge of collapse. It’s in the historic district, and attempts have been made to stabilize the structure. Long term plans to restore the building must be presented today or it could face demolition. (LancasterOnline)
Pennsylvania has over 200 colleges and universities, and does a great job of attracting thousands of students to enroll. A study explores the post-graduation plans of students from ten colleges in northeastern Pennsylvania. The findings? We could do a better job of keep grads in the commonwealth.Central Pennsylvania also has experienced the temporary excitement of brain gain when waves of students arrived, followed by the sucking sound of students looking for jobs outside of the state. (Central Penn Business Journal)One lawmaker proposed a unique solution: keeping bars open until 4:00am so that those post-grads would want to stay in Pa. to work and play. (Philly.com)
Carnegie Mellon University is developing a pavement inspection program that could help Pittsburgh and other Pennsylvania cities quickly identify damaged streets that need repair or repaving.
Those newly paved streets could soon be filled by driverless cars. The foibles and quirks of human driving are highlighted in a new keyboard based traffic game. Imagine: tailgating without fender benders. (CityLab)Driverless cars stop and recognize pedestrians, but they still need insurance, maintenance and repair. A public private partnership in Michigan (of course) has developed “MCity”, a “village for driverless cars” and will examine the business implications of this new concept. (NextCity)With technology, does human connection become obsolete? This essay explores the special relationship one woman developed with of all places, her bank. (Newsworks)
Go outside and play
A new school playground in Johnstown is designed for students with special needs. It’s open weekends and after school for the entire community. (Johnstown Tribune Democrat)Plan ahead. On August 15, Slide The City is coming to Allentown. Imagine a slide the length of three football fields. It’s a Slip ‘n Slide –”on steroids.”
Have a great weekend.