Why Is The Budget Deal Breaking Down? Philly, That’s Why.

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today.

Why is the state budget deal foundering? Because Pennsylvania legislators don’t want to cut Philly a break.

Harrisburg, it seems, is happy to give us extra taxes, but not extra tax relief, according to TribLive’s Brad Bumsted. Here’s how it works: The budget framework would raise Philly’s sales tax rate to 9.25 percent, one of the highest rates in the nation. That money is supposed to claw back property tax rates — but lawmakers are balking at a provision that would give Philly an extra share of property tax reduction. (Or so we’re told: No one’s publicly provided the precise numbers for the distribution of property tax rebates.) Read more »

WATCH: Mayor Nutter Joins Inky Staff for Air Guitar Video

Here’s the Inquirer staff — joined by an incredibly game Mayor Nutter — playing air guitar to a classic ZZ Top song.

The video is part of the Rock Out Brain Tumors Challenge to raise money and awareness for brain tumors. You can make donations to the National Brain Tumor Society here. The Daily News started the wave of air guitar videos last week, when it made its own to honor Gar Joseph, the paper’s city editor who is being treated for such tumors. Read more »

Porngate Could Stifle Pa. Court Reforms

PA. Supreme Court | Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

PA. Supreme Court | Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today.

The Porngate controversy (and other problems)  could short-circuit the effort to extend the careers of Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices.

Justices are currently required to retire at 70. A measure expected to hit the 2016 ballot would extend the retirement age to 75 — but experts now wonder if voters will be in the mood, given recent court shenanigans, of which Porngate looms largest.  “Generally, you would think with the aging of the population, oh, what’s another five years?” said Terry Madonna, Franklin & Marshall College pollster. “Now with this anti-establishment mood, and then you have all the controversy with the Supreme Court and the attorney general.” (NewsWorks) Read more »

Nutter, Kenney Back Wolf’s Welcome of Syrian Refugees

Jim Kenney and Mayor Nutter. | City Council Flickr

Jim Kenney and Mayor Nutter. | City Council Flickr

The cause of Syrian refugees has become controversial in the wake of last weekend’s terrorist attacks in Paris, but Philadelphia’s incoming and outgoing mayors both say they would welcome such refugees to the city.

Mayor Nutter joins Gov. Wolf in supporting the relocation of refugees from Syria to Pennsylvania and Philadelphia,” spokesman Mark McDonald said today in response to a Philadelphia inquiry.

Lauren Hitt, a spokesman for Mayor-Elect Jim Kenney, noted that Kenney had offered a statement supporting Wolf early in the week.  Read more »

Linc to Help Host Copa América Tournament


Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:

Are you ready for some futbol? Philly is one of 10 American cities chosen to host the Copa América tournament next summer.

And that’s kind of a big deal. “The Copa América, the world’s oldest international soccer championship, doubles as the South American championship and has always been held on that continent,” the New York Times reports. “But in 2014, officials from the Americas’ two soccer confederations — Conmebol in South America and Concacaf, which governs North and Central America and the Caribbean — joined U.S. Soccer in announcing a special Centenario tournament to mark the event’s 100th anniversary.” The United States won’t just host the tournament: The men’s national team will also participate. If all goes well, the U.S. will use the experience to launch a bid to host the World Cup in 2026. In Philly, the games will be played at Lincoln Financial Field. Read more »

Franklin Square PATCO Could Open Again

Photo credit: Mike Williams / Delaware River Port Authority

Photo credit: Mike Williams / Delaware River Port Authority

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know.

The reopening of the PATCO station at Franklin Square is a step closer to reality.

PlanPhilly reports: The DRPA board has set aside $500,000 in its 2016 budget to plan for the station’s rehab — and set aside $28.3 million for the project over the next five years. “The Franklin Square project advances despite the fact that DRPA’s application for the last round of federal TIGER grant funding was rejected,” Jim Saksa writes. “After the board meeting, PATCO General Manager John Rink said the project could move forward using just DRPA funds, should the board approve design and construction.” One person who should be happy with the news? Johnny Doc. “The IBEW 98 business manager and DRPA board member has consistently advocated for reopening the station, which was abandoned in 1979 due to low ridership.” Read more »

Katie McGinty Calls on D.A. Seth Williams to Fire “Porngate” Lawyers

Businesswoman and former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty has run a solid campaign, building a network and achieving fundraising success. But most important, she, unlike opponents Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord, stayed away from attacking Wolf. Given that, combined with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s implosion and much of the Democratic establishment disliking former congressman Joe Sestak, watch for the articulate McGinty to quickly become the frontrunner against freshman Pat Toomey in 2016.

Katie McGinty

U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty on Wednesday waded into the “Porngate” controversy, calling on Philadelphia’s top prosecutor, Seth Williams, to fire scandal-tarred lawyers in his office and saying that a state Supreme Court justice should resign over the matter.

“As a woman and the mother of three girls, I am appalled by the misogynistic, homophobic, and racist messages that were sent by these officials,” McGinty, a Democrat, said in a series of early afternoon tweets on the issue.

Read more »

Philly Newspapers Sue Landlord Over Lack of Signage at Headquarters

The entrance to PMN's headquarters at Eighth and Market streets.

The entrance to PMN’s headquarters at Eighth and Market streets.

The Inquirer and Daily News once occupied one of the most easily recognized buildings in Philadelphia — the 18-floor tower on North Broad Street that suggested the newspapers had managed to build their very own fortress.

These days? The papers can’t even get a good sign to advertise the location of their current headquarters at Eighth and Market streets, leaving the journalists there to practice in relative anonymity.

That’s why the papers’ owner, Philadelphia Media Network, filed suit against its landlord this month, seeking more than $3.5 million in damages: Signs identifying the headquarters of the city’s largest news organization were promised in the company’s lease of the former Strawbridge & Clothier department store, its lawyers say, and the landlords still haven’t made good. Read more »

Wolf, GOP Battle Over Refugees

Photos: Associated Press

Photos: Associated Press

Good morning, Philadelphia. Here’s what you need to know today:

Harrisburg Republicans are unhappy with Gov. Tom Wolf’s welcome to Syrian refugees — but he’s got Ed Rendell’s support.

“Republican lawmakers are pressuring Gov. Tom Wolf to stop accepting Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania out of fear that deadly terrorists attacks like those in Paris will happen here,” PennLive reports. “The governor has to realize this could be a life and death situation with radicals,” said Rep. Ron Marsico. “The danger is real and the safety of Pennsylvanians is at serious risk.” Wolf’s response? He couldn’t keep them out, even if he wanted to. “Despite the implication of some, states do not have the authority to refuse to accept refugees that are admitted by the federal government.”

Ed Rendell, talking on Rich Zeoli’s radio show, defended Wolf: “Remember who these people are. These are people who fled ISIS. They fought ISIS. When ISIS started rampaging in their country, they fled. I think it’s fair to assume that they’re not ISIS sympathizers. Now, would I be worried that some people who once the announcement was made that we’re taking people, that some people would try to jump in and get into the group? Sure. But people who fled and have been in refugee camps for six months, nine months, a year, I think it’s fair to assume that they hate ISIS too.” Read more »

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