Best of Philly 2014: The Best Philadelphians

Katherine Gajewski and Connor Barwin. / Photography by Joseph Balestra

Katherine Gajewski and Connor Barwin. / Photography by Joseph Balestra


Best Athlete: Connor Barwin, 27

Six-foot-four, 264-pound linebackers don’t usually make headlines for their social consciousness, but Barwin is a different breed of football beast. The Detroit native has earned cheers off the field for his Make the World Better Foundation, aimed at bringing sports and arts to kids; a benefit concert he staged at Union Transfer in June raised $170,000 to revitalize a run-down South Philly park. He’s fearlessly outspoken (tweeting praise for marriage equality) and bleeds green in more ways than one — bicycling to work, driving an electric car and promoting SEPTA.

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The Fonzi-Specter JFK Assassination Tapes

Linked By History: Salandria speaking in 1998; Arlen Specter working with the Warren Commission in 1964.

Salandria speaking in 1998; Arlen Specter working with the Warren Commission in 1964.

Philadelphia lawyer Vince Salandria prepped journalist Gaeton Fonzi for his interviews with Arlen Specter about the Warren Commission’s work; Specter’s evasiveness and inability to explain inconsistencies in the findings are chilling.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation has the audio and transcripts from three of those interviews in 1966, as well as a discussion between Fonzi and Salandria. Click here to listen.

Four Philadelphia Schools That Work

Ways Parents Can Fix Schools

Photo By Clint Blowers

Science Leadership Academy

A partnership between the school district and the Franklin Institute, Center City’s SLA is proof that a strong outside collaborator can help produce strong results. The diverse students (45 percent black, 34 percent white, seven percent Asian, seven percent Hispanic) have to apply to get in, and once there, they follow a college-prep curriculum focused heavily on science, technology, ­math and entrep­­ren­eur­sh­ip—­with a special emphasis on p­roject-based learning (plus some cool outside speakers, like Michael Dell). Eighty-eight percent go on to college, and SLA has been named an Apple Distinguished School from 2009 to 2013.
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Six Leaders Who Need to Step Up

6 city leaders Philadelphia schools

Darrell Clarke

The City Council prez talks frequently about how dire the current fiscal crisis is—even though he, more than any other city official, is in a position to help solve it. With the state legislature having rebuffed his cigarette-tax plan for raising more dough, he needs to look at other funding options—soda tax, real estate taxes, government cost savings—to help right the financial ship. Failure isn’t an option here, Mr. President.

Amy Gutmann

As the leader of the most important institution in the city, Penn’s president needs to get more involved in the conversation—and use the resources of her mighty university to help educate more kids. The highly successful Penn Alexander School is a model of a university-supported grade school, but it was launched under Gutmann’s predecessor, Judy Rodin. Where’s Gutmann’s PA?

Michael Nutter

After keeping his distance from the schools in his first five years in office, the Mayor has become more engaged, taking some politically tough stances to raise more revenue. But he could still do more to persuade a skeptical public that the dollars won’t be wasted, and to lead from behind in a statewide coalition of districts that have been shafted by state budget cuts.
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Three-And-Out: Eagles-Broncos Predictions

Michael VickIntroducing a new weekly feature here at Birds 24/7. Every Friday, Tim and Sheil will go back-and-forth on a few game-related topics.

Here is the first installment.

Player I’ll be watching:

McManus: Mychal Kendricks. 

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Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio, Week 4

What do the Eagles need to do to beat the Broncos? What’s working on offense and what’s not? Tim and Sheil broke it all down on Birds 24/7 on 97.5 The Fanatic Thursday night.

You can listen to the podcast here or download it here from iTunes.

They’ll be broadcasting live from Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7 every Thursday during the season.

Live Chat: Eagles Vs. Chiefs

Join Tim and Sheil for a live chat as the Eagles host the Chiefs tonight at 8:25 p.m. The guys will have updates and observations from the Linc.

Podcast: Birds 24/7 Radio, Week 3

Tim and Sheil hosted a special Tuesday edition of Birds 24/7 on 97.5 The Fanatic. Look beyond the Andy Reid story line, and you’ll quickly notice that this is a big game for the Eagles. Can they pull it off? And what to make of this team through two weeks?

You can listen to the podcast here or download it here from iTunes.

They’ll be broadcasting live from Smiths in Center City from 6 to 7  Thursdays during the season.

Do It Today: Philadelphia Magazine Editor Tom McGrath to Moderate DOMA Conversation

Today at 5:30 p.m. as part of the National Constitution Center’s Constitution Day programming, Philadelphia magazine editor Tom McGrath will moderate “DOMA and PA: Legal Showdown,” a discussion of the future of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania in the wake of PA attorney general Kathleen Kane’s decision not to defend the state’s ban.

Representing both sides of the issue will be Mark Aronchick of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin and Schiller (the firm representing the ACLU in its challenge of the state law) and Greg Randall Lee, a professor of constitutional law at Widener University.

The event starts at 5:30 p.m. You can attend in person at the Constitution Center (reservations recommended) or watch a live stream.

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