The SRC’s Accountability Double Standard Ruined Christmas

“A-ccount-a-bility.” This is the politician’s mating call. The word echoes from podium to podium on crisp June mornings, too noble-sounding to question and yet forever immeasurable. John Street in 2002 prescribed the state takeover of Philly’s schools as a “strong dose of accountability.” Lawmakers that now want to re-localize district control condemn the School Reform Read More …

How Urban Outfitters made securities fraud the new hip

Urban Outfitters (UO) had a stunning a realization in 2013: Why stop at selling an inflated version of youth culture back to itself at profit? Couldn’t profit be maximized by selling stock shares traded on inflated confidence with regard to the rate at which youth culture will buy itself back from itself at an inflated price? Read More …

Drexel cops and the case of the invisible screwdriver

Former Drexel University Police Department (DUPD) Captain Fred Carbonara sued the university this month. He alleges school administrators fired him in part because he didn’t heed racial profiling directives and wouldn’t conspire to suppress evidence of police misconduct.  Carbonara’s claims address DUPD decisions regarding a December 30, 2011 campus incident. Troy Demby and Walter Johnson Read More …

Demolition privilege: another perverse effect of a mostly privatized housing authority

It’s not news that the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has been reducing its public housing stock since the 1990s. However, recent inspections of public housing sites show that PHA doesn’t demolish the complexes in the worst condition first. That’s at least kind of news. Government authorities since Nixon have rebuked public housing as an antiquated, ineffective counteraction to Read More …

New transparency regulations on legal defense for low-income people

Philadelphia City Council this morning unanimously voted to enact Bill 150001: a new transparency measure dealing with how the Mayor’s Office funds the legal defense of low-income people. Passing 150001, Council made its consent necessary before the City awards certain legal defense contracts worth more than $100,000. The Bill also requires that the City make the terms of those contracts Read More …

Audit ferrets out Philadelphia Housing Authority skims, negligence

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) released its 2014 audit in a vacuum of fanfare, last week. It shows that city workers pocketed Section 8 funds on top of triple-digit salaries and that thousands of dollars in subsidized tenants’ rent goes unaccounted for every year. According to McGladrey LLP, the firm PHA hired to perform the audit, several of the Authority’s top-paid executives Read More …

Why the Keystone Opportunity Zone Program still exists though it’s an abject failure

“Benign mercantilist” is its own taxable category as part of Pennsylvania’s Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) Program. It costs the city and the school district about $27 million in revenue a year. Philadelphia has foregone a total of $384 million in revenue through the KOZ Program between 1998 and 2012, according to the Controller’s Office. To understand the initiative’s rationale, imagine Read More …

1 in 20 Philadelphia homicides by cops, yet police oversight here’s some of the weakest nationwide

The number of deaths by Philadelphia police gunfire between 2011 and 2013 equates to over 5% of all Philadelphia homicides by firearm during that period. Newly released FBI data shows that, nationwide, the number of justifiable homicides by law officers equates to about 1% of all homicides by firearm in that same three-year span. Despite the relatively high ratio of Read More …

After eight fraud convictions, Philly charter execs won’t disclose info on financial controls

Federal courts nationwide have convicted 30 charter school executives of fraud between 2005 and 2014. A solid percentage of those cases involved Philadelphia schools: two at Philadelphia Academy Charter School, two at Raising Horizons Quest Charter School, one at the Center for Economics and Law, one at Harambee Institute of Science and Technology and two at New Media Technology Charter School. More Read More …

Where do bad homes go when they die?

Barry S. Slosberg Inc. of 2501 East Ontario Street in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood today auctioned 23 properties acquired by the City of Philadelphia via criminal forfeiture. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s (DA’s) Office seized all properties auctioned today in conjunction with drug crime convictions. They represent a combined value of around $1.6 million, according to Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment data. Read More …