Abolishing Traffic Court Will Be Your Most Satisfying Vote Ever

Pennsylvania constitutional amendment to abolish Philadelphia traffic court

Editor’s Note: This is an opinion column from Philadelphia magazine reporter Dan McQuade.

There is much on the line in today’s Pennsylvania primary. Voters head to the polls with multiple choices for president, senator and attorney general. Nominations in Congress and in the state legislature are up for grabs. Many of these races have been contentious, with supporters of candidates staunch in their support of a certain candidate.

But there is one thing voters across the state can agree on today, and that’s a ballot question asking this: Should Philadelphia Traffic Court be abolished? Everyone should know you simply must vote YES on this one. Read more »

Hillary Clinton Blasts Trump at City Hall Rally

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands with Pennsylvania elected officials during a campaign stop, Monday, April 25, at City Hall.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stands with Pennsylvania elected officials during a campaign stop, Monday, April 25, at City Hall.

Backed by local Democratic leaders past and present, Hillary Clinton held a boisterous, picturesque rally inside the City Hall courtyard a day before Pennsylvania and four other states vote in presidential primaries.

Clinton is expected to win tomorrow’s election against Bernie Sanders in Pennsylvania. A poll released today by Republican-leaning firm Harper Polling puts her in front, 61 to 33 percent. She didn’t mention her Democratic rival for the nomination during the event, instead talking in stark terms about the Republican candidates.

“When Donald Trump talks about not caring about whether more countries develop nuclear weapons, that is so contrary to what we have tried to do for the last 70 years,” Clinton said. “We can’t have someone running for president who basically says, ‘I don’t care if countries develop nuclear weapons’ — making our world all that much more dangerous. No! And when he says no Muslims can come into America, he is sending a message to the entire world that will make it more difficult for us to defeat ISIS. We have to have a coalition with Muslim-majority nations, and that is exactly what I will do.”

Clinton was preceded by speeches by Rep. Bob Brady (who led a contest among different sections of the court to see who could cheer louder, as if he were at an Eagles game) and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. former mayor and formergovernor Ed Rendell and City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell were also in attendance.

In contrast to some previous Clinton appearances in the city, there were no interruptions at the early evening City Hall event. The only disturbance in the crowd was a woman who fainted about halfway through Clinton’s 17-minute speech. A group called Black Men for Bernie had a convoy of minivans outside the event, but it was barely audible inside and only for a brief moment. Read more »

Review: Trevor Noah at SugarHouse Casino

Trevor Noah - SugarHouse Casino

Photo | Matt Bishop for SugarHouse Casino

I’m not a huge gambler, but I like places where you can gamble. I enjoy the thrill of pretending that next small bet or slot pull will lead me to riches, I enjoy the people watching and I enjoy the complimentary drinks. That includes the sole casino in Philadelphia, SugarHouse. Unfortunately, among my group of friends, I might be the only one to feel that way. So I don’t go much.

I get it. For a while, SugarHouse’s slogan might as well have been: “Sad, even for a casino.” It was just a slots barn at first; only recently is it becoming more of a destination. The casino is in the process of a $165 million expansion. It’s expanded the gaming floor — the casino has an actual poker room now, instead of just a “poker tent” — and the whole place has been refreshed. Hugo’s Frog Bar & Chop House is scheduled to open sometime in the near future. Yes, the expansion included a giant parking garage. Still, the whole place looks nicer. Read more »

Harper Poll: McGinty Moves to First Place, Shapiro Has Commanding Lead

senate-primary-poll

The final poll of the Pennsylvania primary, conducted by conservative firm Harper Polling, found that Katie McGinty has moved into first place just one day before the Democratic Senate primary. Previous polls showed Joe Sestak leading the race, or Sestak and McGinty tied. In the poll, 39 percent of voters said they would vote for Katie McGinty — compared to just 33 percent for Joe Sestak, 15 percent for John Fetterman and 3 percent for Joseph Vodvarka. Eleven percent are undecided.

In the previous Harper Poll in early April, Sestak had 41 percent, McGinty had 31 percent and Fetterman had 9. (Vodvarka, who had been kicked off the ballot but was reinstated last week, was not polled that time.) Read more »

Is This Chaka Fattah’s Last Stand?

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah speaks outside of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia on August 18, 2015.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah speaks outside of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia on August 18, 2015.

The crowd of several hundred was waiting, eagerly, for Bill Clinton to speak at a Mt. Airy playground. Later in the day, the Clinton appearance would make national news when he argued with a protester for several minutes. But now, the PA system was cycling through multiple recent pop songs. A bunch of the people in the crowd were dancing, tapping their feet or just nodding their heads to the music.

And, there, bopping along to the beat in the front row, was Chaka Fattah. He was not on stage, as he might have been if this event were held, say, a year ago. (Mayor Jim Kenney, City Councilwoman Marian Tasco and former Gov. Ed Rendell spoke before Clinton did at the event.) No, Fattah arrived early, got a good position to stand up front and stood there the whole time.

Some politicians, when facing trouble, resist the public eye. Some resign. But Fattah has chosen to fight.

Last year, Fattah was indicted on a stunning array of corruption charges: Federal prosecutors accused him of using charitable donations and taxpayer dollars to pay off an illegal $1 million loan to his failed mayoral campaign in 2007. Fattah is combating the charges. And despite the fact that an indictment is hanging over his head, Fattah has in recent months appeared at numerous public events, even getting a handshake from Barack Obama at the State of the Union. He’s frequently made himself available to the media, and, most boldly, chosen to run for a 12th term in Congress. He is confident that he will win the election, and the case. “In any objective look at the race, I think that there would be consideration that the outcome of our winning is not as it’s been postured so far in the media,” he told Philadelphia magazine in an interview last week.

The truth, though, is that his reelection is far from guaranteed. Fattah has three opponents, one of which is particularly formidable, and his campaign is all but broke. Jury selection for his trial starts May 2nd, six days after the primary election, which has drained money and energy from his campaign. If Fattah loses in Tuesday’s primary election, it would mark the end of an era. Fattah has been an elected official in Philadelphia for more than three decades. He has also built a powerful political machine, which has helped elect everyone from Councilwoman Cindy Bass to Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown to state Sen. Vincent Hughes. That political organization would at the very least lose clout — and could possibly die altogether — if its boss were ousted. Even if Fattah ekes out a victory this week, he’ll have to face a jury just a few weeks later. Several members of his inner circle have already pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the federal government.

This may be Fattah’s last stand.
Read more »

The Phillies Batted the Pitcher 8th Last Night

Jeremy Hellickson batting 8th

The Phillies won last night on a walkoff single in the 11th inning, with Peter Bourjos driving home Freddy Galvis to salvage one game in a three-game series against the Mets.

Bourjos was in that position last night because the Phillies did something they hadn’t done in nearly 40 years: Last night, manager Pete Mackanin batted the pitcher 8th. Per beat writer Matt Gelb, it was the fist time since June 1, 1979, that the Phillies batted the pitcher 8th. Read more »

ESPN Fires Curt Schilling Over Anti-Transgender Meme

Curt Schilling during his Wall of Fame induction at Citizens Bank Park on August 2, 2013.

Curt Schilling during his Wall of Fame induction at Citizens Bank Park on August 2, 2013.

That is a real headline: Curt Schilling, a star pitcher on the Phillies in the 1990s, has been fired from his baseball analyst job by ESPN for an anti-transgender meme he shared on Facebook.

“ESPN is an inclusive company,” the company said in a statement. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.” Read more »

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