Phillies’ GM Apologizes for Lashing Out at Fans

Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has apologized for saying the team’s fans “don’t understand the game.”

“I’m a fan myself,” Amaro said Tuesday, after his comments drew attention from across the sporting world. “I understand the passion and the knowledge that our fans have for our game and the other major sports, all the other sports in Philly. The comments weren’t meant to disparage our fans by any stretch of the imagination. I probably used my words incorrectly or poorly. I want to apologize for that.” Read more »

Penn Hotel Employees Charged in Kickback Scheme

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Two employees of the Sheraton University City Hotel have been charged in a kickback scheme that feds say netted them up to $3 million in ill-gotten profits.

Kenneth Kapikian, 57, and Dennis Gagliardi, 60, served as general manager and chief engineer, respectively, of the hotel, which is owned by the University of Pennsylvania. They were each charged with seven counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Read more »

Amtrak Will Install Cameras in Locomotives

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.

Following the deadly Philadelphia train derailment that killed 8 people earlier this month, Amtrak says it will install cameras in the cabs of its locomotives, to provide more information in the event of future crashes.

Read more »

Inquirer Journalists Launch Health Care Petition

newspaper guild

Members of the Newspaper Guild negotiating committee.

Members of the Newspaper Guild have launched a petition to pressure the Philadelphia Media Network — owner of the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com — to improve its health care proposals to the company’s journalists.

The Change.org petition had 129 signatures as of 8 a.m. today. A strike authorization vote by Guild workers is expected the first week of June. Read more »

Schools Renew Request for City Money

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Now that the primary electionis over, City Council will take a look at the Philadelphia School District’s request for $105 million in new funds for the 2015-16 school year. The request has been on the table for months, but council members seemed reluctant to approve that much spending before an election.

“School district officials will urge council to agree to May or Michael Nutter’s proposed 9.4 percent property tax hike,” NewsWorks reports. “Council members have been reluctant to raise property taxes on the heels of Philly’s recent tax assessment overhaul, which drastically boosted bills for some in the city.” Read more »

Penn State’s Barron Calls for Frat “Early Warning” System

Eric Barron

Penn State President Eric Barron is calling for an “early warning system” that would help the university confront misbehavior at frats and sororities on campus before it gets out of hand, the Morning Call reports.

Barron didn’t describe the details of such a system, but his proposal comes in the wake of this spring’s reports that the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity had posted photos of nude, unconcious women to a private Facebook page. That made international headlines, magnified when an anonymous fraternity member dismissed the matter as “humorous, albeit possibly misguided, antics of a bunch of college kids.” Read more »

UPDATE: Newspaper Journos Agree to Temporary Contract Extension

Updated with comment from the Newspaper Guild.

A possible strike by Philadelphia’s newspaper journalists has been averted, for at least a month: The union that represents them and Philadelphia Media Network, the company that owns the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, have agreed to extend their expiring contract to June 27. The contract had been set to expire Saturday night.

Read more »

Temple Physics Chair Charged With Passing Tech to China

Xiaoxing Xi

Xiaoxing Xi

Xiaoxing Xi, the physics department chair at Temple University, has been charged by federal prosecutors with passing semiconductor technology back to his native China.

The indictment (see the full document below) alleges Xi — a naturalized U.S. citizen — went to work for a U.S. company in 2002 and 2003, obtaining access to a device that speeds the growth of superconductor film. He later used a U.S. Defense Department research grant to try to purchase the device. The unidentified company licensed the device to him after he signed a document promising not to reverse engineer, reproduce, or sell copies of that device to any third parties.

Instead, according to the indictment: Read more »

PHOTO: Philadelphia Newspaper Strike a Real Possibility

See updates below with PMN’s memorandum to journalists, and the guild’s commentary on that memo.

[Original] We’re still waiting to hear back on the progress of today’s scheduled negotiations between the Philadelphia Media Network and the Newspaper Guild, but we received some photographic evidence this afternoon that the guild is serious about its intent to call a strike authorization vote next week:

philadelphia-newspaper-strike-940x540

That was the scene this afternoon inside 8th and Market, where Philadelphia Media Network maintains the newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. The guild represents journalists at those outlets. Our tipster was clear: No strike has been called as yet. But the signs have been printed. Read more »

Report: Philly Public School Graduation Rates Rising

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Source: Project U-Turn

Nearly two thirds of ninth-graders entering Philadelphia public high schools in the 2008-2009 school year graduated on time, a new study says — the greatest percentage of graduates in more than a decade of close study.

The report from Project U-Turn shows that 64 percent of 2008’s ninth-graders graduated from high school within four years — up from a low of 43 percent of 2000-01’s ninth-graders.

“This report shows that Philadelphia public schools are graduating considerably more students than in the past,” the study’s authors concluded. “More can be done, however, to ensure that those being left behind receive the support needed before they drop out.” Read more »

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