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Is Fishtown, The Hipster Mecca In Danger of Broification?

This is coming to Fishtown.   I can’t imagine anyone who rides a fixie bike will be heading over to this place:

Now that PYT is also moving to Fishtown, it seems the center of gravity for bros is going to be leaving Northern Liberties and the Piazza and head further towards the Delaware River.

If we can find some way to build a massive bro-yacht out in the actual river to attract enough bros… perhaps while they’re partying someone can unhitch the anchor tying it to the pier and set a bunch of bros out to sea.

Preferably to South Jersey, where they came from.

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Developer Roland Kassis Stirs Fishtown into Parking Outrage

Roland Kassis [Star Newspapers]

Roland Kassis [Star Newspapers]

If a developer was ever in search for a major controversy in Fishtown, Roland Kassis has just found it.

An online Facebook petition has been started against Fishtown developer Roland Kassis and his firm Domani Developers over his purported proposal to end resident parking on Frankford Avenue between Girard Avenue to Oxford Street and change it to 3-hour parking during limited hours.

The proposal would omit residential permit parking along the Frankford Avenue corridor and it would eject residential vehicles cars along that length of the Avenue all day, sending those cars into adjacent blocks devoid of open parking spaces.

The reason?  Kassis holds prior zoning approval to develop 1224 Frankford Avenue into a hotel.  That was approved back in March and Kassis owns several other commercial properties within Fishtown, all businesses that attract customers who select a mix of transportation to reach them.

If City Council president Darrell Clarke adopts Kassis’s proposal as stated in the petition, this would eject over 150 residential vehicles from Frankford Avenue and send then back into the neighborhood vying for spaces which rarely exist further away from the Avenue.

It’s not certain yet if this proposal will get any traction, but if Clarke introduces it into City Council it will become clear on which end of the parking rule changes Clarke is siding with.

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My Pretty Block

I live in Kensington, a neighborhood which has been through a downfall and much of it has undergone renewal.   My particular block was never “gentrified” as it’s always been a good block and longtime residents comprise the bulk of my block.  There are many other good blocks scattered about Kensington which survived the decline from 1970, the crack-cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and early 90s and the many tragic fires and building collapses of the 2000s.  Other blocks which have declined have been rehabilitated.

Kensington is the most diverse area of Philadelphia by race, by national origin and by income.   We have doctors and lawyers living in Kensington as well as the unemployed and everything in between.   We have black, white, Asian and Hispanic residents.  We are still one of the most affordable areas of Philadelphia to live in, and we are among the best transit-connected neighborhoods.

I live on one block out of many hundreds. Timothy Benston, my neighbor, took these photos of our fronts.   Most of the residents on my block have lived here for generations and we also have some new neighbors.  Between all of us, nearly 50 houses in all, are over 30 children on our block alone.

Nearly every story about Kensington focuses on its decline or crime and the drug epidemic.  I want to show you that Kensington is many things, and one of them is that there are many great blocks with good neighbors who look out for each other, who get together to take care of their properties and who keep our blocks nice and clean.

This is where I live, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the city.

Cumberland Street

Picture 1 of 22

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After Twelve Years, The City Will FINALLY Let You Search Properties By Owner Name

Baby, it’s been a long time.


In the beta part of the City of Philadelphia’s website lies the experimental Property Search Tool.   It will become one day but for now you’ll need to use this link to get to it.

It wasn’t but a decade ago that Philadelphia was adamantly against sharing any property records at all on the Internet.  To do a search query, you had to pick up the phone, before 3:30PM, and ask for records and then go to the Curtis building yourself or send a runner.

Open records activist Ed Goppelt (twitter) fought a battle with City Hall and was able to get the BRT [Bureau of Revision of Taxes] to cough up computer data tapes which he then uploaded to his website, Hallwatch:


But Hallwatch was so much more.  Besides opening up property records, Hallwatch tried to open up City Council, as City Council legislation was not available online, much less searchable.   City Hall preferred to work in the dark.  If you’re younger than 30, you can’t really appreciate how rotten this arrangement was and what it was like before transparency existed.

Hallwatch also had a form of social activism called “faxback” that was quite effective at torturing members of City Council.   Instead of, Hallwatch had a feature where you could use canned or free-form letters and then blast the fax machines of City Council offices and the Mayor.   Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell especially hated it.

But as far as transparency goes, City Hall still has quite a ways to go.   The Revenue Department still tightly holds on to its records and refuses give out dumps.  Philadelinquency however gets around this problem and I have all the Real Estate Tax records available upon request.

Business taxes are being kept in the dark and especially the state of how much is owed and which businesses are not paying their Use & Occupancy Tax.  There hasn’t been much of an effort by the public to get the Revenue Department to open these records up for inspection to judge the performance of the City in collecting this tax, but there’s enough anecdotal evidence that loads of small and medium sized businesses in Philadelphia actively avoid paying U&O  and business taxes which contributes significantly to delinquency.

In a city where a lot of taxpayers know that paying your taxes is basically optional yet we cut services to the poor, maybe it’s time to fire the Revenue Department and outsource it?  If it that results in better performance that would certainly save Philadelphia quite a bit of money on payroll and benes and we could get some of our services back that we’ve been cutting.

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CityPaper Will Be Gone For Good, And This Makes Me Sad


Yeah.  CityPaper is going to be no-more.  Next week will be the final issue.

CityPaper, founded in 1981, is the last alt-weekly newspaper in Philadelphia that committed itself to long-form news stories.   For any budding journalist, or any budding politician, or activist, or someone who wanted to be more engaged with our city, this is really the only place where long-form investigative reporting in Philadelphia has ever been truly free.

Numerous FBI investigations have been launched thanks to an exposé in CityPaper.  Just about every article Samantha Melamed ever wrote at CityPaper was fantastic and told you not only what was happening but was careful to include just the right amount of unbiased detail that readers could read a piece about a super-heated shouting-match zoning meeting in some obscure corner of the city and immediately understand all the dynamics at play.

Philly Weekly has tried to do news in fits and starts but could never really keep it going, then ultimately gave up.  Good journalists got so sick of the frat culture in PW’s offices that they would leave, or in the case of Tara Murtha, sue.

Meanwhile over at CityPaper, as budding new journo students enter the newsroom they would be cultivated and learn their craft with the freedom of print space to make use of the content.   Because of its “starter-paper” status, the reporters and columnists at CityPaper have had the freedom to look for stories in places that the Inquirer and Daily News won’t bother to look.  As a result, CityPaper would routinely scoop the local media.


One of the best examples in my eyes is Grand Theft Rowhome, an Isaiah Thompson piece covering how deed fraud is pervasive and the City of Philadelphia is not only aware that stealing houses in Philly happens by recording forged deed transactions, but that it does little to stop it.   The article sparked the arrest and conviction of Dwayne Stewart, one of the serial deed theft artists that CityPaper profiled.

Broad Street Media, the folks who publish the ad-ridden newspapers such as The Star, Northeast Times, South Philly Review and the grossest of print publications, Philly Weekly, bought CityPaper in order to kill it off and send their readers off into their other properties.


Since I’m running for Sheriff of Philadelphia I get hounded by ad calls from the local papers who want some of the little campaign cash that I have (hint: I really need your donations).  While I can’t say I hate BSM, I can at least give them a veritable “fuck you” for closing CityPaper down by letting you know how exactly how much money they want to shake me down for advertising.

There’s a lot of uncertainty what will happen now about CityPaper’s content, including the 30 years of archives and whether BSM is going to put CityPaper’s long-form journalism format in any of its other publications.    CityPaper would let a story stretch out six whole pages.  Philly Weekly could never even give six inches to deep news, and when they were trying at it they couldn’t shake the student U taste off the page.

The Northeast Times does print some long-form content.   However, longer stories are chopped up into a lot of splits and then their layout editor buries the continuations so deep around ads its not an easy-to-read newspaper.  And as their masthead says, it only prints in the Northeast.   So who knows what the fuck will happen now.

A valuable weapon will be lost in the fight against municipal corruption, in activism, in covering the deep recesses of local politics and for many newcomers to Philadelphia it was the user manual to figure this city out.   This will be no more.

I’m absolutely heartbroken.


Oh yeah.  Before I go… fuck Philly Weekly.


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