Report: Superstorm Sandy Second-Costliest Weather Event Since 1970

Yes, still. Compared to the absolute destruction on many North Jersey beaches, where homes are still empty and entire blocks have been bulldozed, our South Jersey shores fared relatively well (and I say relatively because some people here lost everything). Still, climate change isn't going away, and neither are issues of flood zones and flood insurance, nor the debate of whether or not our barrier island beach towns will be here for the long haul, and what we can do to protect them (i.e. dunes — the Margate resistance to dunes should continue to be nasty). We'll hit the two-year anniversary in October, but expect this to be affecting policy for a long time. I still hear people talking about the Storm of '62. Sandy will be on our lips more than 50 years from now, too.

According to a new report published by the World Meteorological Organization, the $50 billion in economic damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy ranks second only to Hurricane Katrina’s nearly $147 billion among the costliest weather events since 1970. Storms in the U.S. took five of the top 10 slots (above), while the events with the most fatalities tended to occur in less-developed countries.

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Is Michael Nutter Too Honest?

Philadelphia Schools

Over at Politico as part of the magazine’s “What Works” series on innovative ideas and urban reinvention, WHYY’s Holly Otterbein takes a look back at the Michael Nutter-mania that swept Philadelphia back in 2007 and wonders, as we prepare to select our next mayor, if it’s possible for a Philadelphia government to be “honest and effective”:
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Christie in Nashville: Smacks Obama on Middle East Policy, Calls for Obamacare Repeal

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

Speaking to reporters Saturday at a conference of the National Governors Association in Nashville, Tennessee, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continued to talk like a man with plans for a 2016 presidential run while finding new ways to be coy about actually committing to said presidential run. 

For starters, NJ.com reports that Christie took former BFF President Barack Obama to task for his foreign policy in the Middle East:
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The Phillie Phanatic Is an Ass

USATSI_phillie-phanatic-Howard-Smith-USA-TODAY-Sports-940x540

Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but the Phillie Phanatic is a dick.

I know. You’re very angry right now. You really love the Phanatic. Honestly, I do, too.

But sit with it for a minute: The Phillie Phanatic is a raging, first-class asshole.

I know, it stings. It’s hard when you love someone who’s no good for you. Who triggers all your bad reflexes. Who enables all the dark impulses that keep you from reaching your full potential. Philadelphia, your love affair with the Phanatic is what Lady Gaga calls a bad romance.

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Flash Flood Watch Through Late Tonight in Philly, Surrounding Counties, Tri-State Area

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 4.14.04 PMProceed with caution as you make your way home this evening, as the National Weather Service in Mount Holly has issued a flash flood watch in Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Northern Delaware (full list of affected areas below) through late tonight.

“Variable rainfall overnight between one half and 2.5 inches in a large portion of the watch area along with flooding in Southeastern Pennsylvania and far Northwest New Jersey this morning has set the stage for the potential for new flooding,” says the NWS.

“The flash flood threat in Eastern Pennsylvania and far Northern Delaware is mostly this afternoon and evening while in New Jersey the primary risk for flash flooding is between 3 p.m. and midnight”

How to proceed? “Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. The water depth may be too great to allow your car to cross safely. Move to higher ground,” advised the NWS about an earlier flood advisory.

About the flash flood watch, it adds, “conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.”

Be alert.

Full report after the jump »

Katz, Lenfest Winners of Inquirer, Daily News, Philly.com Auction

Philanthropist H.G. "Gerry" Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia's two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke

Philanthropist H.G. “Gerry” Lenfest, left, and businessman Lewis Katz arrive for a closed-door auction to buy the The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Philadelphia. Katz and Lenfest are taking over Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers with an $88 million auction bid. AP Photo | Matt Rourke

Joel Mathis is on the scene of the auction of the Inquirer and Daily News, where it’s just been announced that the group led by Lewis Katz and H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest has emerged victorious with a winning bid of $88 million. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day.

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Schuylkill River, Areal Flood Warnings in Effect

Heads up: It’s extremely wet out there, with no signs of letting up.

The Weather Channel has issued a river flood warning for the Schuylkill River through Friday morning:

THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE SCHUYLKILL RIVER AT PHILADELPHIA. * UNTIL FRIDAY MORNING… OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED. * AT 5:31 PM WEDNESDAY THE STAGE WAS 10.2 FEET. * FLOOD STAGE IS 11.0 FEET. * MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST. * FORECAST… RISE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE BY THIS EVENING AND CONTINUE TO RISE TO NEAR 12.9 FEET BY TOMORROW MORNING. THE RIVER WILL FALL BELOW FLOOD STAGE BY EARLY FRIDAY MORNING. * IMPACT… AT 13.0 FEET… MAIN STREET IN MANAYUNK IS CLOSED FROM RIDGE AVENUE TO LEVERINGTON STREET.

As a result, Lincoln, Kelly and MLK are all experiencing closures due to flooding:

The Philadelphia Police Department has issued a weather advisory:

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Abandoned Sting Case One Giant Grudge Match Between Kathleen Kane and Frank Fina?

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

AP Photo | Bradley C. Bower

Things have gone from bad to ugly in the bizarre microcosm that is the abandoned sting. Kathleen Kane’s epic “double-dog-dare” to Seth Williams (in which she challenged the Philly D.A. to prosecute the case himself) has fizzled after reports late last week that Kane had yet to turn over the case files — and is apparently asking for guarantees that her handling of case not be subject to scrutiny. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Williams isn’t having it:

“You state you will grant me access only if I am able to satisfy you that I will not engage in any evaluation of your actions in reviewing this investigation. You have no authority under the law to establish any such pre-condition,” Williams wrote in a letter to Kane, a copy of which the Tribune-Review obtained.

It’s an exchange that prompted this unflattering-for-Kane political cartoon from the Patriot News.

And this Sunday, the Inquirer painted a portrait of the whole sting affair as a pissing match between Kane and Frank Fina, the lead prosecutor for the sting and for the high-profile Jerry Sandusky case; Fina was on his way out the door as Kane was walking through it in January 2013. Kane — who’d specialized in child abuse cases as a Lackawanna County ADA —  had made Fina’s handling of the Sandusky case a campaign issue, and  has been in the process of reinvestigating it:

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Judge to Inquirer Owners: Let’s Have Us an English-Style Auction — You Have a Month

George Norcross (left) and Lewis Katz in court late last year. AP Photos | Matt Rourke

Inquirer ownership partners George Norcross (left) and Lewis Katz in court late last year. AP Photos | Matt Rourke

And there you have it. In a ruling issued on Friday, Vice Chancellor Donald F. Parsons of the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware has decreed that the warring partners in Interstate General Media — the company that owns the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com — will have a private auction among themselves to determine who will own the operation going forward. And that it must happen right quick:

… I will order the dissolution of IGM. In addition, I will order IGM to be sold in a private, “English-style” open ascending auction between General American and Intertrust. The minimum bid for the auction shall be set at $77 million in cash. I hereby direct General American and Intertrust promptly to confer and submit a proposed form of order implementing these rulings consistent with the other terms of the proposed private auction that were discussed at the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing and during the final argument on April 24, 2014. I further order that in no event shall the auction for IGM be held later than May 28, 2014; that is, no more than thirty calendar days from, and inclusive of, Tuesday, April 29, 2014.

So, imagine the kind of auction you see on TV: a fast-talking auctioneer and bidders who raise paddles or wink or make little shooting gestures with their hands when they hear a number they like. Now imagine that there are just two guys doing the bidding: George Norcross and Lewis Katz.

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Wolf Campaign Fires Staffer After Plagiarism Complaints

The Tom Wolf for governor campaign hit a bump last night as it admitted that several passages in a policy document were lifted wholesale from white papers on energy efficiency published by Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls.

The move came after the campaign of U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, one of Wolf’s opponents for the Democratic nomination, pointed out in a news release what it called the “troubling plagiarism” in his Fresh Start governing blueprint.

“I have directed the staff to make sure nothing like this ever happens again and have asked for a new process to be put in place to ensure it does not,” Wolf, a York businessman and former state revenue secretary, said in a statement.

Schwartz campaign spokesperson Mark Bergman told the Inquirer: “Tom Wolf claims to be a different kind of candidate [and] says he will lead us in a new direction … yet the words are not even his own.”

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