Teachers’ Union Head Rejects District’s $100M Contract Offer

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has reportedly rejected a $100 million contract offer from the School District of Philadelphia.

The Inquirer reports that PFT president Jerry Jordan won’t take the contract to his membership. The PFT says the deal doesn’t include retroactive pay or cost-of-living adjustments. Philadelphia teachers have been without a contract since August 2013 — a total of 1,187 days.

As a result of not having a contract, district teachers have not received raises in four years. The contract offer, per the report, would not retroactively move teachers up in “steps” that guarantee teachers higher pay. It would not give teachers increases for earning advanced degrees — instead using $32 million in bonus pay to help fill positions at difficult-to-staff schools. Read more »

The Latest on the Pennsylvania Vote Recount Effort

Jill Stein with Pennsylvania recount logo

Jill Stein photo by Gage Skidmore (license)

Update, 1:40 p.m.: According to Jill Stein’s campaign, by Monday afternoon recount requests were filed in more than 100 districts.

“After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities and hacks, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable,” Stein said in a statement. “We must recount the votes so we can build trust in our election system.”

Stein also said Monday she’d filed a legal petition with more than 100 voters seeing a recount in the state.

Earlier: Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein says she expects vote challenges to be filed today in Pennsylvania, the last day to request a recount of the state’s 2016 presidential election results.

Stein, who rallied with Cornel West under I-95 in South Philadelphia during the DNC, has raised $6.2 million for recounts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The effort began after computer experts said they had found evidence that vote counts in those three states may have been manipulated or hacked.

But the process is complicated — at least in Pennsylvania. Stein can’t file for a recount for herself; instead, three voters from each voting district must request one. Per Billy Penn, Stein would need about 30,000 volunteers for this effort — and in some counties, the recount filing deadline has passed already. Stein could also file a lawsuit, but would need evidence that election fraud was “probable.” A lawsuit, then, seems like the likeliest avenue to force an audit of election results. But it seems unlikely to succeed barring evidence of fraud emerging. Read more »

There Was a Bull Loose on I-95 Today

a cow on I-95

The bull on I-95 around 2:15 today, as photographed by Colleen McCarthy.

Ryan Haigh was surprised when he hit traffic on Tuesday afternoon. The Holy Family men’s basketball assistant, in the car with head coach R.C. Kehoe, was heading north on 95 to campus. Then he saw something even more surprising, something he never expected to see on a highway in Philadelphia.

“We were sitting in traffic wondering what was with all this traffic — and I looked to the right and a cow just ran right by my car,” Haigh says. “We could not stop laughing … we were actually headed to a game and, when we saw the cow, said, ‘No one’s going to believe us.’” Read more »

Philly Cop Charged With Attempted Murder of Son

Philadelphia Police

When Dorion Young’s son walked away from him at the end of a holiday argument about the use of the car, the Philadelphia police officer raised his pistol and fired two shots at him. One went through his shoe. The other hit him in the back.

That’s according to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who announced Young’s arrest today at a press conference. The incident happened inside Young’s home on September 5th, Labor Day, in the Holme Circle section of Northeast Philadelphia. He was off duty.

“If you are a Philadelphia police officer, elected official or private citizen, you cannot use your gun to try to end an argument,” Williams said in prepared remarks during a press conference at the DA’s office. “Everyone, no matter who you are, no matter what you job is, no matter if you are rich or poor, will be held accountable for their actions. While this is a terrible, I repeat, terrible tragedy, there’s no excuse for what happened that day. Dorion Young will be held responsible for having shot his son.” Read more »

Philadelphians Heckle Another Minor Celeb into Liking Our City

Mara Wilson headshot

Photo by Ari Scott/Penguin Books

Mara Wilson is a writer whose recent debut for Penguin, Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame, was well-reviewed. A regular on the New York storytelling scene, she is best known as the child actress who starred in Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda in the 1990s.

Yesterday, she tweeted something mean about Philadelphians.

Later, she added: “Everyone I know from Philadelphia is either the nicest person is the world or the biggest asshole.” Even worse, she disparaged our fair city in relation to New York: “It’s not the same kind of passionate, impulsive, get out of my way ‘Hey, I’m walkin’ here’ New York assholitude. It’s unearned.” As if Philadelphia assholes are some sort of lesser species than the brand of asshole that brought us President-elect Donald J. Trump.

The kicker to her initial Twitter rant was what you might expect if you follow these things: “Lot of Philadelphia people in my mentions proving my point, by the way.” Read more »

How They’ll Fix Ben Franklin’s Gravesite

Ben and Deborah Franklin's Grave

Photo | Dan McQuade

Ben Franklin’s grave’s all cracked and broken. But don’t blame the pennies.

Earlier this month, the Christ Church Preservation Fund launched a GoFundMe for much-needed repairs to Ben Franklin’s gravesite, at the corner of 5th and Arch streets in Old City. The church had already raised thousands for repairs, mostly in grants from Florence Gould Foundation and PHMC Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, but said it needed $10,000 more to put it over the top. With the help of a $5,000 donation from Jon Bon Jovi and his wife, Dorothea — as well as a grand from the Eagles — the GoFundMe has met its goal.

“The narrative definitely switched from ‘Ben Franklin’s grave needs repairs’ to the headline, ‘Bon Jovi saves Ben Franklin’s grave,’” says Carrie Hagen, who does marketing and development for the Christ Church Preservation Trust. “It was just a feel-good Philadelphia moment … it’s harder and harder to find funds for historical preservation work. And I’m trying not to say something corny, but this rocked our world for sure.”

Franklin’s gravesite — which also features his wife, Deborah, and assorted Franklin family members — has a large crack down the center of it. The GoFundMe blamed the pitting of the marble surface on the tradition of throwing pennies on Franklin’s grave, which goes back decades. (Franklin allegedly said “a penny saved is a penny earned,” but as with many Franklin sayings, that usage is without attribution. Apparently, tourists cannot be convinced to throw $100 bills on Franklin’s gravesite.)

But according to John Carr, owner of Materials Conservation, the problem isn’t really the pennies. Read more »

Ex-Pa. Chief Justice Ron Castille: I Want to Be U.S. Attorney

Ron Castille speaking at a podium

Photo | MavsFan28 (license)

Ron Castille wants to come out of retirement.

The ex-Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tells The Legal Intelligencer he wants to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under President Donald Trump.

Castille was also district attorney of Philadelphia form 1986 to 1991. He ran for mayor that year, but lost the Republican primary to Frank Rizzo (who died before the general election). Read more »

A South Philly Strip Mall Is Now Running a Trolley In Its Parking Lot

Whitman Plaza

Photo courtesy Breslin Realty

It was big news in South Philly late this summer when the ShopRite moved into Whitman Plaza on Oregon Avenue. The supermarket, perhaps best known for its painting of the Dr. J mural, was the centerpiece of the newly-renovated Whitman Plaza.

Whitman Plaza, located at 330 West Oregon Avenue, has approximately 300,000 square feet. Breslin Realty, the New York realty company that has been involved at Whitman Plaza since the 1970s, says landlord South Whit Shopping Center Associates wanted to try something different for this holiday season.

“The landlord wanted to try running a trolley around the plaza,” says Breslin Realty’s Karen Siegel. “He thought maybe it would be a great little thing for the customers and the shoppers. And the tenants also can use it.” Read more »

Health Department: Air Quality Worsened During SEPTA Strike

'Station Closed' sign at SEPTA El stop, man smoking in background

The entrance to the Market-Frankford Line and the underground concourse at 12th Street is closed on the first day of the SEPTA strike | Photo by Dan McQuade

If it was a little harder to breathe the first week of November, you weren’t just hyperventilating at the possibility of President Trump.

According to the the Philadelphia Department of Health, air quality was markedly worse during the six-day SEPTA strike. “At its peak, during morning rush hours, levels of fine particles, known as PM2.5, were four times higher during the strike than before,” the Health Department says in a release. Read more »

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