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

     Trivia: What city is this, with Philadelphia on the horizon?. (Naomi Starobin/WHYY)

    Trivia: What city is this, with Philadelphia on the horizon?. (Naomi Starobin/WHYY)

    Where did the week go? Catch up with these good reads.

    We had a public forum in Reading, and they came

    Despite threats of snow and cold, we had a great turnout of Reading residents on Monday. People are hoping for many different things in their city.  

    And in one poignant map one of the attendees drew, there is the story of the state divide.

    themusthem

    We’re planning another public forum for people in the Lehigh Valley in March. Stay tuned!

    Maybe it’s the weather…people are talking about urban “cool”

    A New York law firm is buying a downtown Pittsburgh office building. “We’re trying to bring New York hip and cool to Pittsburgh.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    And while young tech workers might want to live downtown, that’s not where the jobs are, at least in the Philadelphia area. “You know, for some of these tech workers, it isn’t appealing for them to work in some commodity office park outside King of Prussia…They want the exposed brick — the urban cool feel — of working downtown or off of 13th Street or Third Street in Old City and Northern Liberties.” (Newsworks)

    And speaking of weather, this not-so-cool graffiti on a snowy landscape. (WITF)

    City economies and growth

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the urban growth action is mostly down South and out West. Dallas had the largest growth in employment from December 2013 to December 2014, at 4.4%. In the Keystone state, Pittsburgh was up 1.1% and the Philadelphia metropolitan region nearly flat, at 0.8 %.

    Pa. lawmakers have been tossing around ideas to change the way charitable organizations, that are traditionally not taxed, are defined. It impacts how much tax revenue cities see, especially those cities that have major nonprofit universities and hospitals. Now, there’s a delay in whether a constitutional change will be considered. (WITF)

    Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to bring in revenue by taxing gas extraction. That could mean a boost for school funding. Right now, though, there are competing proposals for just what that tax rate should be.

    Five European cities have won the 2014 European Mayors Challenge, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies. It’s a competition for “bold ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life and have the potential to spread to other cities.”

    Guns and cities

    Remember the story from last month about the National Rifle Association suing cities in Pennsylvania over their local gun laws? This week, the fallout: Some cities, including Allentown and Bethlehem, are rescinding local gun laws, hoping to avoid the lawsuits.

    The Oakland, California Police Department has destroyed more than 2,000 guns since 2010, and as Reveal reports, “each gun has its own story.”

    And in other news…

    City leaders are looking to attract artists by offering affordable housing. (Next City). Keystone Crossroads reported a while back about Oil City, Pa. becoming a center for artists.

    Pittsburgh leaders are pretty proud of their new public budget tracking site.

    Tweet about your bike commute!  Some researchers think tracking social media can help with city planning.

    We’re watching and reporting on pension shortfalls in Pennsylvania, and how it’s affecting budgets and services. Central Dauphin School Board President Ford Thompson says, “These numbers are staggering. They’re staggering for every school district. It is driving us to the brink of financial crisis.” But he’s having trouble getting the public’s attention. (Pennlive)

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