June 30: Council, lords of land use | Feibush v. Johnson: the blog | $23m unspent DRPA development funds | Penn National bows out | Violent crime drop | Kurt Vile mural buffed

Welcome to the working week, Streeters. Here’s what we’re reading this Monday morning:

An Inquirer editorial today calls Council the “lords of land use” and suggests that councilmanic prerogative, campaign contributions, and approvals for connected projects create a transactional land use environment. The editorial ends with this radical idea: “It isn’t stupid to want land-use decisions to be based on a plan’s merit, and not who the developer supported.”

Last week we told you that developer Ori Feibush is suing Councilman Kenyatta Johnson over the issue of prerogative. Feibush hopes to unseat Johnson in next year’s election, and this weekend revealed a new weird twist in this unfolding absurdist political drama: Political consultant Micah Mahjoubian tried to hire blogger Joshua Scott Albert, the unhinged voice behind Staphmeal, to create an anonymous anti-Ori blog. Those plans have, however, fallen through. Philly Mag recounts the strange tale.

The Delaware River Port Authority is supposed to focus on operating its toll bridges and PATCO, but it borrowed heavily in recent years to fund other kinds of development projects. DRPA approved its last batch of controversial development grants in 2011, and today nearly $23 million remains unspent, the Inquirer reports. Some funds – like the $4 million waiting for Cooper River waterfront improvements – are not yet drawn down, while others that were simply not spent during the course of the project should return to DRPA’s general fund – like the $4 million remaining that was earmarked for the construction of Philadelphia Union’s soccer stadium in Chester.

Penn National has bowed out of its bid to build a casino in South Philly, the Inquirer reports. “A contributing factor in our decision to withdraw our proposal was the City of Philadelphia’s vocal support for a Center City casino location,” said Penn National’s Timothy J. Wilmott. Four possible casino contenders remain and a decision from the Gaming Control Board is expected this summer.

Philly’s homicide rate dipped to a 46-year low last year and this year the city’s violent crime rate for the first half of 2014 is lower than the same period last year, NewsWorks reports. We wonder how much did the nasty winter help suppress those numbers?

This weekend Steve Powers’ Kurt Vile mural in Fishtown was buffed (at least everything reachable) by an angry neighbor who thought the piece was attracting graffiti to the neighborhood. The alleged buffer and his paintjob was spotted and photographed by Instagrammers, and after he cooled down actually figured out what he’d painted over – a sanctioned piece of street art put up for Vile’s 2013 album Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze (pictured above, from April 2014). The man claiming responsibility talked to writer Leah Kauffman about seeing red and said he reached out to Vile and Powers.

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