May 20: VOTE | Local 98 political machine | School funding now | vacant lot pop-ups | Cedar Realty Trust loves Philly | Neighborhood names

Good morning, Streeters. We have one word for you today: VOTE. Polls open at 7am, close at 8pm, and no ID is required unless you’re a first-time voter (at all or in your voting precinct.) Find your polling place, see a sample ballot, and get the rundown on ballot questions via the Committee of Seventy. And remember, you don’t have to be a party member to cast a ballot on the questions or City Council Special Election.

If you’re curious about the big money behind PA elections, look no further than Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The Inquirer’s Bob Warner took a close look at the political power of Local 98, and its business manager John Dougherty, Jr. – better known as Johnny Doc – and the networks through which IBEW’s political money flows. Local 98 has spent $25.6 million since 2000 on campaigns at every level of government.

A Daily News editorial skewered Council President Darrell Clarke’s “compromise” plan that would destabilize a dependable source of possible school funding – adding 1% to the sales tax that would garner $120 million for schools – by siphoning off half of that revenue to fill holes in the pension fund. “Clarke’s plan is a diversion from what should be the topic of the moment: funding the public schools. Delaying the transfer only increases the odds that the district will have to, once again, start a round of layoffs, transfers and the trauma that accompanies those moves.”

What if some of Philly’s 40,000 vacant lots could house pop-up buildings for new uses, responsive to community needs, like retail or clinics? Technically Philly profiles SHIFT_DESIGN’s “Blank Box” concept, one of 10 FastFWD social entrepreneurship projects that is seeking support.

Why does Bruce Schanzer, of NY-based Cedar Realty Trust, love investing in Philly neighborhood shopping centers? Stability and density of local shoppers, Schanzer revealed to the Inquirer’s Joe DiStefano during a tour of Cedar’s Philly holdings largely in the Northeast, River Wards, and South Philly.

Philly has some odd neighborhood names – mental floss takes a crack at explaining their origins. Do they get it right? Pretty much.

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