Wolf Brings Urban Policy Expertise

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s next governor knows all about distressed cities.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf spent 12 years as president of Better York, a nonprofit bent on revitalizing the city of York. In that role, he worked closely with a nationally prominent urban expert who promotes regional solutions for urban woes.

As he prepares to take office Jan. 20, Wolf said he wants to lead a statewide discussion about how the future of older cities such as Scranton, inner ring suburbs and the surrounding townships are interrelated.

“What I bring to this is a real appreciation for what cities do,” he said in an interview.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/wolf-brings-urban-policy-expertise-1.1803039

How Heroin Abuse Has Become Epidemic

1044756_392391437532570_1638549602_nEditor’s note:  And the last two paragraphs are about a heroin death in Pottstown!  Wake up borough officials!!!!! Stop denying this problem exists! The man who robbed National Penn Bank on High Street was a heroin addict and high at the time.  It’s not a “bump in the road” or a “perception problem” as your soon-to-be ex-mayor likes to tell people.

Heroin-related overdoses jumped nearly 250 percent between 2010 and 2012 in Philadelphia and, depending on how they are measured, slightly more in Montgomery County. In Kentucky, they quadrupled in just one year.

Experts say the culprit is actually prescription painkillers. Abuse of the expensive narcotics leads to tolerance – and cravings for more and more. Heroin is the cheap and more powerful alternative.

Experts point to a series of events that began when the Food and Drug Administration in 1997 proposed easing the way for advertising of prescription medications on broadcast television, which almost no other country does as freely. Industry spending on direct-to-consumer advertising rose tenfold in five years. Prescriptions written for opioid painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin soon rose more than 500 percent.

“As a culture, we are just very used to, ‘You have a problem, get a prescription,’ ” said Jay Unick, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Social work, who studies how public policies affect behavioral health outcomes.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/20131107__We_lost_an_entire_generation__to_heroin.html#oec76sPDSpAZbJT2.99

Pittsburgh’s Median Family Income Rises

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Household incomes rose in Pittsburgh in 2012 while the overall metropolitan area and the rest of the country saw incomes remain flat.

The city saw what the U.S. Census Bureau calls a statistically significant increase in household incomes as the median income rose by $3,281 to $39,884 from 2011 to 2012.

That happened as the median income in the seven-county metropolitan area stayed statistically the same, rising from $49,809 to $50,489. The median income for the metropolitan area was below the average of all U.S. metropolitan areas of $53,607.

The income information was contained in data released this morning as part of the American Community Survey.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pittsburghs-median-family-income-rises-703920/#ixzz2fLzN7EPP

Detriot Files For Bankruptcy

Map of downtown Detroit with I-375 and BS-375 ...

Map of downtown Detroit with I-375 and BS-375 highlighted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DETROIT — Detroit on Thursday became the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy, as the state-appointed emergency manager filed for Chapter 9 protection.

Kevyn Orr, a bankruptcy expert, was hired by the state in March to lead Detroit out of a fiscal free-fall and made the filing Thursday in federal bankruptcy court.

A number of factors — most notably steep population and tax base falls — have been blamed on Detroit’s tumble toward insolvency.  Detroit lost a quarter-million residents between 2000 and 2010.  A population that in the 1950s reached 1.8 million is struggling to stay above 700,000.  Much of the middle-class and scores of businesses also have fled Detroit, taking their tax dollars with them.

In recent months, the city has relied on state-backed bond money to meet payroll for its approximately 10,000 employees.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130718/NEWS04/130719263/once-mighty-motor-city-files-for-bankruptcy

Valley Forge National Historical Park Proceeds With Deer Culling

English: A white-tailed deer

English: A white-tailed deer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has set off a heated debate, a federal lawsuit, and enough documents to fill a couple of phone books.

But for the third consecutive year, Valley Forge National Historical Park is proceeding with a deer-culling program designed to thin the herd and encourage new plant growth in the park.

And officials at the famed Revolutionary War site say it is working.

The deer population has long been a bane of Valley Forge, they say.  Before the culling began, the park counted 291 deer per square mile.  A “sustainable” population would be closer to 35 per square mile, said Deirdre Gibson, the park’s chief of resources.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20121217_Valley_Forge_National_Historical_Park_proceeds_with_deer_culling.html

Where Obama Did Better — And Where He Did Worse

Editor’s note:  Very interesting election analysis regardless of which side you are on.  Shows the differences between McCain and Romney’s efforts in their respective run for President again Obama.

President Obama carried fewer states than he did four years ago.  He won a second term by dominating the nation’s large urban areas — although mostly by smaller margins compared to his 2008 vote totals.

To view interactive maps for each state, by county, for 2008 and 2012 click here:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/obama-better-or-worse/?hpid=z3

Easton Moves Forward With Commuter Tax

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easton City Council approved a commuter tax Wednesday, raising the earned income tax for more than 10,000 people who work in Easton but live outside the city an average of $127.

City officials estimate the new tax will generate $1.35 million, which Easton can use only toward offsetting a $1.8 million increase in pension obligations. The commuter tax, which takes effect Jan. 1, raises the earned income tax for non-Easton residents from 1 percent to 1.75 percent, the same rate city residents pay.

Council’s 6-1 vote came after an impassioned debate between Mayor Sal Panto Jr. and Councilman Jeff Warren, who wrote a recent op-ed piece opposing the commuter tax. Panto accused Warren, the only council member to vote against the tax, of political grandstanding.

“You keep saying you’re against this but you haven’t laid out any alternatives,” Panto told Warren. “What are you coming up with? What is your solution?”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/easton/mc-easton-commuter-tax-vote-20120808,0,1762718.story

Pew Charitable Trust Survey – How Suburbanites View Philadelphia

This is a very interesting survey on what residents of Philadelphia’s PA and NJ suburbs think of the city.  It’s worth a few minutes to read over:

http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=62459