Jan 21: Penn Alexander lottery | growth among Cambodian Buddhists | parkland tradeoffs | job-creation incentives | community preservation | remembering Happy Fernandez

Good morning, and happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We hope you’re enjoying a long weekend, maybe volunteering for today’s MLK Day of Service (one of the nation’s largest) and/or watching the Inauguration. It’s cold out there today  (there’s even a chance of snow into tonight) so bundle up. Here’s your Monday morning Buzz:

As parents lined up dozens deep outside of Penn Alexander on Friday, a full four days before the school’s kindergarten enrollment opened, the Philadelphia School District switched its enrollment to a lottery system in an effort to create a more equitable way in to the coveted elementary school. The Philadelphia Public School Notebook explains the last-minute switch.

The city’s Southeast Asian Buddhists has steadily expanded, outgrowing small community facilities in South Philadelphia started by refugees decades ago. Next City traces the growth of the city’s Cambodian Buddhist community and their new efforts to create better religious and community facilities: Khmer Palelai temple’s expansion to Southwest Philadelphia – with a new temple, school, and dormitory for monks at 58th and Lindbergh Blvd – and Khmer Buddhist Humanitarian Association will build a meditation complex in Voorhees, NJ.

Will the city roll over and allow new development to encroach on city parkland? While many may agree that Temple University’s proposal to build a new boathouse for its rowers is a good thing, that’s where the agreement stops. The Inquirer editorialized that Temple should be held to the city’s law, which requires the University to provide an equal amount of parkland in exchange for the land on which their boathouse would be built. Temple offered $1.5 million to fix up the Canal House (its rowers’ former home), but after an outcry by parks advocates Temple says it will reconsider the land swap requirement.

City Council will consider a job-creation tax credit, geared at turning around the city’s high unemployment numbers. NewsWorks reports that Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. will introduce a bill to make the current, temporary $5000 tax credit per job created permanent.

What is worthy of preservation honors? Community.  Ken Finkel ponders the question on PhillyHistory considering the Royal Theater, and featuring fabulous photos of 15th and South from 1937. Though The Royal is a decrepit shell of its former self – a hub of culture on South Street, with a strong community. And though hope continues to spring in the Royal’s revival, the Finkel reminds us that money is no substitute for community. When the dense mix of businesses and people gave way to vacancy and neglect, the preservation prospects for The Royal (and so many like it) declined.

Politician and community activist Happy Fernandez died on Saturday after complications following a stroke. She founded the Parents Union for Public Schools, served in City Council from 1992-1999, and in 1999 she was the city’s first major-party female candidate for mayor. From 1999-2012 she was president of Moore College. WHYY’s Dave Davies covered her entire career and offers this remembrance.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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