Monday, February 24, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Paul R. Levy is the founding chief executive of Philadelphia’s Center City District (CCD), serving in that capacity since January 1991. The CCD is a $20 million downtown management district, which provides security, cleaning, place marketing, promotion, planning and capital improvement services for the central business district of Philadelphia. Mr. Levy also serves as executive director of Central Philadelphia Development Corp., (CPDC), an advocacy and planning organization supported by the downtown business community. He serves on the boards of many civic organizations, including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Committee and the Independence Visitor Center Corporation. He served on the 2009 Mayor’s Task Force on Tax Policy & Economic Competitiveness. He is a past chairman of the International Downtown Association and now serves on its board. Mr. Levy teaches at the graduate school of the University of Pennsylvania in the City Planning Department. Mr. Levy holds an MA. and Ph.D. in history from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree in history from Lafayette College.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Resolved this 1st day of February 2014
Republican State Committee
Robert Gleason, Chairman
Resolved this 1st day of February 2014
Republican State Committee
Thursday, February 6, 2014
OPED: Politicians Grease the Wheels at Penn Alexander
By J. Matthew Wolfe
Picture a bitter cold night. Four o’clock in the morning. People are freezing outside at 42nd and Locust. Parents lined up at the Penn Alexander School, a well-regarded public school. They are lined up in the middle of the night in this bitter cold weather because not every child who lives in the school’s catchment area can attend due to the limited space. The School District registers children for kindergarten on a first-come, first-served basis, hence the line outside more than 24 hours before the first morning of registration. The parents try and make the best of it, but its no fun for anyone. And it is even more difficult for those parents who for whatever reason – health problems, lack of child care – cannot be there knowing that their kids are at a disadvantage.
Picture the same bitter cold night. Four o’clock in the morning. Sleeping in their warm beds are parents in Overbrook Farms. They have kids, too, and they live in a catchment area for public school they feel is substandard but they can sleep peacefully. They’ve cut their deal. Their kids are already into Penn Alexander.
The Daily News broke a story that those of us in University City already knew but could not prove. The reason for the lack of transparency in the registration of children at Penn Alexander was due to politicians rewarding their friends. Kevin Johnson, who is exploring a run for Mayor and lives outside the Penn Alexander catchment area in Overbrook Farms, has his three children there. He was close to disgraced former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. Former Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson’s grandson is also there, and two siblings are graduates. They also live in Overbrook Farms.
The issue involving Penn Alexander’s enrollment is one of the biggest in our neighborhood. The first-come/first-served line was incredibly stupid and unfair, yet it went on for years. When Superintendent Hite learned of that procedure, he immediately ended it. The parents who were already in line stayed, however, hoping for some advantage for their kids.
The School District implemented a lottery system, but refused any transparency. They would not pick the "winners" publicly and would not publicly reveal specific information as to the results. was not alone in speculating on blogs and at meetings that this was so that the politicians could use their influence to help political friends and allies. Suspicions confirmed.
I cannot take issue with any parent who wants the best for their children. Fair is fair, however. More importantly, using our public schools and public tax dollars for political gain is not only immoral but can be criminal. There are a number of politicians sitting in prison right now for doing just that.
It appears that prior superintendents (Hite has not done this) had given themselves the right to bypass all the rules. A spokesman for the School District said that it looked like "superintendents in the past" had done this to benefit these politically connected parents.
For the first time, the School District admitted that there were 34 children out of Penn Alexander’s enrollment of 550 that were from outside of the catchment district. There are waiting lists for each grade in Penn Alexander. Well, I know a quick way to take 34 spots off that waiting list.
The School District says that going forward the district will allow only families living inside the catchment area to attend the school. That is good, but it is not good enough. The district needs to remove the children outside of the catchment area and give those spots to those parents who have been improperly excluded. They also need to be transparent about the process, both going forward and backwards. Any lottery must be done in an open meeting, announcing who gets in, who is out and the order of the waiting list. Looking backwards, it should reveal which children are from outside the catchment area, why they were admitted and who pulled the strings. Any documents involved should be made public. There is not a privacy issue here. These are public schools paid for with our tax dollars. None of the parents involved were forced to try and game the system.
J. Matthew Wolfe is the Chairman of the University City Republican Committee and writes for the Republican City Committee Policy Committee.
PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Councilman David Oh Introduces a Tax Reform Bill to Reduce Wage and Net Profit Taxes on Residents of Philadelphia without Increasing Other Taxes
Philadelphia, PA – City Councilman At-Large David Oh introduced a bill on Thursday to reduce the wage tax for employees and the net profits tax for individuals who are residents of Philadelphia by $100 million over ten years. And he has done so without raising other taxes to off-set the reduction.
“My bill reduces wage tax for employees and net profit tax for individuals that will see the rate go from 3.92% in 2014 to 2.09% in 2025. With the median household income in Philadelphia being $34,207, the annual wage and PICA tax being paid is $1,340. The reductions that I am advocating along with the conclusion of the PICA tax in 2023 will result in a savings to the average family of $626 per year” says Oh. “When more Philadelphians have more disposable income in their pockets, they will spend more money at local stores and businesses. In addition, employers will have a greater opportunity to retain both high quality talent coming from our colleges and universities to become residents of Philadelphia along with every other worker currently living in the city. This is the most practical way to drive our economy and benefit our residents without increasing taxes.”
Experts agree that the Philadelphia tax system is too complex and unfriendly to businesses and the residents who live and work in the city. In fact, in 2003 and again in 2009, Tax Reform Commissions were established and provided a series of recommendations to simplify the tax system in our City, but none of these recommendations have been implemented. Of these recommendations in both reports were the need to reduce the personal wage and net profit taxes on individuals.
In recent hearings on making Philadelphia a more globally competitive city, Professor Robert Inman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania stated “Even a slight reduction of wage taxes could result in adding roughly 5,000 jobs per year to the City.”
“Business owners and economic experts have consistently testified that the wage tax is so detrimental, and that by reducing it, we would actually add jobs and grow the economy of the City” said Councilman Oh. “After studying this issue I believe that my solution of reducing these taxes can be accomplished without raising different taxes. And that is the kind of reform our City needs in order to grow.”
During the last budget cycle, Councilman Oh found $48 million in potential savings that he believes will be there again this year and allow an initial individual tax reduction of the same amount. And with the mandated program-based budget going into effect in 2015, he believes that an accelerated reduction schedule of these taxes is completely reasonable and sustainable.
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