Ideas for the online revolution.

Saving the Philadelphia Public Schools - Brainstorm

Here is a brainstorm of ambitious ideas for saving the Philadelphia public schools. As this is a brainstorm some of the ideas are very stupid (see the toxic dumps), and many of them wouldn't stand up in our unjust courts -- but the goal is to provoke better ideas.

1. Protest in Lower Merion Township or another school district that spends 80-100% more per student than Philadelphia.

2. Nutter and city council should publicly support a drive to unionize the charter schools.

3. Refuse every request by charter schools for zoning variances.

US Household Income by Census Tract

I'm working on a project to create open map layers for the United States for race and income at a high resolution. I want to create a system that encourages people who have limited to zero GIS (Geographical Information Systems) experience to create maps for their community!

So I've been messing around with TileMill, PostGIS, and the Census data. TileMill is an amazing program that makes it easy to make a map. They've got nice styling, great support, and you can publish it online for free (if you have limited traffic).

This is a map of household income in the US by census tract. There are 70,000 census tracts in the US.

Legend: red is below average income, and blue is above. I divided the data into ten quartiles.

Going Beyond a Carbon Tax

I think it is fairly inevitable that the United States and most other industrialized countries will implement carbon taxes within the next ten to twenty years.

A carbon tax can make wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency even more competitive than they are now. It could transform our economy and, if done properly, stop climate change. It would reward today's green pioneers with money which would encourage them and impress their friends.

While a carbon tax is better than a cap and trade system, it has numerous short-comings.

Turkey Protest Movement on Live Stream

I strongly recommend following the #OccupyGezi Turkish protest movement on live stream (live video). Here are three sources:

Tim Pool
Global Revolution
Revolt Instanbul
Russia Today - great feed of Taksim Square

Policy Map - Unemployment Rate Map, Widgets, and More

Policy Map is an interesting website. They have some maps that are widgets - so you can copy and paste the html into your website. For instance this is a map of unemployment in the US by county:

Philadelphia AVI - Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers Report

The Crosstown Coalition of Taxpayers has released a report finding that the Actual Valuation is a flawed initiative.

As a result of the efforts of the Coalition and the Controller's Office the city council has decided to audit the AVI for accuracy.

The findings of the Coalition's report are mostly similar to that of the Controller's office - which isn't surprising as they used the same data.

Philadelphia Property Tax - Two Different Stories

There are currently two very different views regarding what is going on with the Philadelphia property tax reform Actual Value Initiative (AVI). At stake is the largest tax reform in recent Philadelphia history and hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Office of Property Assessment and local real-estate expert Kevin Gillen argue that the new assessments are more accurate and more progressive than the old ones.

The Controller's Office argues that new assessments are less accurate and less progressive than the old ones.

Philadelphia Property Tax: Biased Against the Poor

The City of Philadelphia Controller's Office just released a report that trashes the city's efforts to accurately re-assess the value of its property.

The AVI's values are widely inaccurate and three times worse than industry standards for accuracy.

Vegan Fake Meat Reviews

Here are some of my favorite vegan fake meats. Not in order.

1. Tofurky Italian Sausage.
While their fake turkey product gets very mixed reviews, their fake sausage is amazing! Trader Joes sells Italian Sausage for $2.99.

I pan fry it. It is great for summer grilling! It goes well by itself or in pasta. There are several other varieties that are carried by Whole Foods and other stores.

2. Field Roast Sausages

Philadelphia AVI Property Tax Analyzer

I've written a web application that lets you analyze the impact of various Philadelphia property tax rates. You can choose the rate, a homestead exemption, and select a number of property value categories. You can analyze residential and other property types (commercial, industrial, stores with dwellings, etc).

It shows who gains/loses from property tax reform by property value as well as the overall shift of taxation from commercial to residential (and to stores with dwellings).

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