Blatstein, SugarHouse Appeal Casino Decision

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

Rendering of Live! Hotel and Casino via PlanPhilly

The Inquirer reports this morning that last month’s decision to permit a second Philly casino in South Philadelphia is being appealed by the losing bidders and by the city’s first (and still only existing) casino.

The plaintiffs include developer Bart Blatstein, the SugarHouse Casino, and the two other losing bidders. They note that the winning bidder, Live!, has the same ownership as Parx Casino in Bensalem.
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D.A. Drops Forfeiture Cases That Drew National Attention

Christos Sourovelis and the house he'll get to keep.

Christos Sourovelis and the house his family will get to keep.

The district attorney’s office has ended its attempts to seize the homes of two Philadelphia families who had sued over the city’s aggressive civil forfeiture practices.

The Institute for Justice, which had sued on behalf of Christos Sourovelis and Doila Welch to shut down the program, announced Thursday that the D.A. had dropped its forfeiture cases against the two.

“We are pleased that Christos and Doila’s families will be able to enjoy their homes for the holidays,” said Darpana Sheth, an attorney with the institute, in a press release.

Philadelphia’s civil forfeiture practices came under scrutiny in late 2012, when City Paper’s Isaiah Thompson wrote that the program brought $6 million a year in assets to the city’s law enforcement community. He explained that the law is intended to seize the assets of drug dealers to prevent the property from being used in crime.

The problem? The government doesn’t actually have to prove the property was used in a crime. And in many cases, it was only tangentially related to an alleged crime.
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Wolf Reiterates Fracking Support

Tom Wolf

Governor-elect Tom Wolf won’t be following the lead of fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who on Wednesday banned the practice of fracking in New York state.

Cuomo’s camp cited health and environmental concerns in deciding on a ban, but those issues won’t deter drilling in Pennsylvania, which like New York sits atop vast deposits of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.
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Brady: Kane “Asleep at the Switch” in AG’s Office

brady kane
Congressman Bob Brady, Philadelphia’s top Democrat, has harshly criticized Attorney General’s Kathleen Kane’s handling of the “abandoned sting” case — raising more doubts about her continued political viability.

The Inquirer reports that Brady said he has “no faith” in Kane as the state’s top law enforcement officer, though it did not provide a quote of him saying so. But his quoted comments were still plenty clear.

“People make mistakes,” he said. “There’s plenty of time to see how she handles herself, but this is certainly a misstep. It looks like she was asleep at the switch.”

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One Liberty Place to Get Observation Deck

Philadelphians and visitors wanting a bird’s-eye view of the city will get their chance: Mayor Nutter on Tuesday announced plans for an observation deck at One Liberty Place. Uwishunu reports:

Today, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced that Montparnasse 56 Group is bringing a brand new observation deck experience to Philadelphia in Summer 2015.

Montparnasse 56 (or M56) — a Parisian-based company that operates observation decks in the John Hancock Tower in Chicago and the Montparnasse 56 Tower in Paris — will be building the observation deck on the 57th floor of One Liberty Place in downtown Philadelphia.

There are currently only a few spots around the city that offer sky-high views of Philadelphia, including the City Hall Tower Observation Deck, R2L and Nineteen.

More details, including the deck’s official name, remain to be revealed.

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