South Philly Smells Like Cat Pee, And It’s New Jersey’s Fault

Last week, the Passyunk Post wondered where the pervasive cat urine smell in South Philly was coming from. There had been numerous anecdotal reports of it for a while now, but the smell was reported too widely to be from cats (or raccoons).

The South Philadelphia readers of Albert Stumm’s site had plenty of ideas in the comments: dog parks, chemtrails, refineries, drunks urinating in the streets, meth labs, sewers and even cats after all.

We may have an answer, and the “refinery” guess in the comments pretty much nailed it: The smell is likely from a New Jersey power plant.

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Court Delivers Blow to Tom Corbett, Drilling Industry

A Pennsylvania court upheld the rights of municipalities to regulate drilling, delivering a setback to Tom Corbett, the Republican legislature and the drilling industry. In December, a state court ruled that a 2012 law unconstitutionally restricted towns from regulating where oil and gas facilities can be located.

The state won on some points. For example, the court “confirmed that state regulators can be required to notify public water suppliers but not private water well owners of drilling-related spills.” Also, it upheld the limits on what doctors can tell the public about proprietary chemicals used in the extraction process. Yay?

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Serial Target Shoplifter Pilfered TI Graphing Calculators

A man who repeatedly shoplifted from area Target stores was sentenced to 3 to 23 months in prison. The item he targeted: Texas Instruments graphic calculators.

Per court records, David Gentile would slice out the calculators from their blister packs. He was caught stealing several times from several Targets in a short amount of time. “I was a scumbag for six months and I take responsibility for all that I did,” he said in court.

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Signs Now Required on Work Sites in Philadelphia

The city passed many new regulations in response to the building collapse last year. Yesterday, it unveiled another one: Detailed signs are now required at demolition and construction sites. The idea is that the detailed information will make it easier for the citizens of Philadelphia to report problems with work sites to the city.

For projects larger than three stories, a 3-by-5-foot sign is required. Smaller projects get a yellow one-pager with the same information.

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Philadelphia School District Publishes List of Employee Salaries

Interested to know what Philadelphia School District superintendent William Hite makes? That one I can answer for you: $270,000 a year. Interested to know what your teacher friend makes? You’ll have to look that up yourself.

This week, the district published a full list of teacher information, complete with salaries, titles, pay rates, and representation. I just looked up a friend I went out for drinks with recently, and I decided I’ll be paying for drinks next time we hang out.

The file is available as a zipped CSV, or comma-separate values, which stores tabular data in plain text format.

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President Obama Appears in Wilmington

President Barack Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del. Photo | Patrick Semansky, AP

President Barack Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del. Photo | Patrick Semansky, AP

“Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads. Now I’m gonna sign my memorandum.”

This is how Barack Obama ended his speech today in Wilmington, Delaware, where he spoke about transportation funding. He appeared in Delaware due to the shuttering of the I-495 bridge thanks to tilting bridge columns. Federal funds are paying for some of the repairs. “When I get a chance to help communities like Wilmington,” Obama said, “I’m going to do it.”

After his speech, Obama signed a memorandum that creates the “Build America” initiative, which creates an office that helps local and state governments get federal transportation funding credits and encourages the growth of private-public partnerships for infrastructure. “We’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects,” Obama said.

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The Stanley Cup Is in Sea Isle City Today

Everyone on the club that wins the Stanley Cup gets his day with the Cup. And today Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens — who both played for and coached the Flyers and the Phantoms — did the most logical thing he could do with it: He took it to Sea Isle City!

Stevens, who has won two Cups as an assistant with the Kings, owns a home in the area. “We could not be more excited that Coach Stevens offered to bring the cup to Sea Isle City,” Sea Isle mayor Leonard Desiderio said in a release. “I realize this is officially Flyers Country, but I’m sure everyone will agree that it’s quite an honor to have the Stanley Cup visit our community.”

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VIDEO: 3 Men Rob Fishtown Clothing Store

The Philadelphia Police are looking for three men who robbed a Fishtown clothing store. The robbery happened on July 11th at Tri State clothing at 120 W. Girard Ave. Three men entered the store, and one of them brandished a handgun. Employees were tied with zip ties. Police say the men then took “various clothing, watches, sun glasses, a cell phone and Gucci bag.”

According to employees at the store, the robbers communicated with walkie talkies.

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Workers Fighting to Keep Atlantic City Casinos Open

It is not a good time to be a casino worker in Atlantic City. Two casinos at the Jersey shore resort, the Trump Plaza and the Showboat, have announced closing dates. Executives at the glitzy Revel — Atlantic City’s newest casino, and the second-tallest building in New Jersey — say it, too, will close if no buyer can be found.

But now the unions for casino workers are fighting to keep at least some of these properties open. The unions are working to see if they can find buyers for the casinos. “We want the world to know that we’re looking for partners — not saviors or messiahs,” Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, told the Associated Press. “We will work with them.”

About 8,000 workers are employed at the three endangered casinos.

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Congressman Releases Whistleblower Photos; Wants Criminal Probe of Philly VA

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Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, who also represents a sliver of the Far Northeast, is calling for a probe of the Philadelphia VA regional office. While earlier reports said the Philly VA scandal was primarily due to incorrect bookkeeping, it appears to run deeper: Two whistleblowers from the Philadelphia office said staff shredded boxes of mail. The VA Office of the Inspector General says it also has evidence that staffers changed dates on old claims to make them appear new.

“By manipulating claim dates, many of these employees and supervisors financially benefited,” Fitzpatrick said in a letter (pdf) to the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “I urge you to consider opening an investigation into these allegations.”

Also, Fitzpatrick’s office today released whistleblower photos “that show boxes and filing cabinets containing unanswered correspondence from veterans at the Philadelphia Regional Office.”

According to a House committee hearing on Monday night, things got weird during an unannounced early-July visit by congressional staff to the Philly VA office.

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