Judge Suspends All Sunoco Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction

mariner east 2, pipeline, sunoco

Image via claffra/iStockphoto.com

On Tuesday, a Pennsylvania environmental court judge ordered a two-week halt to all horizontal directional drilling associated with Sunoco’s controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline. The order comes after several incidents of water contamination and alleged contract violations that were reported by environmental groups and some southern Pennsylvania residents.

The temporary ban, which will affect drilling at 55 sites, will be effective until August 7 when a Pennsylvania court will hear arguments from Sunoco and complainants in a hearing. The court will decide whether to lift or extend the suspension until a future hearing that will determine whether to withdraw permits for the project.

Groups like the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council, and Mountain Watershed Association are challenging he issuance of construction permits for the pipeline by the Department of Environmental Protection, State Impact Pa. reports. In the one-page order Judge Bernard Labuskes wrote, “The permits that are the subject of this appeal are hereby superseded effective immediately to the extent they authorize the permittee to conduct horizontal directional drilling.”  Read more »

I Love My Job: Chuck Peruto

Chuck Peruto, 62, and girlfriend Lindsey Glasgow, 29.

In this week’s edition of I Love My Job, we talk to high-profile Philly lawyer Chuck Peruto, who has defended deranged murderers, mafioso-types, and certain high-profile marijuana enthusiasts. Peruto has his critics, but one thing’s for sure: he’s a true Philly character.

My full name is… Angelo Carlo Peruto, Jr. My family is from Abbruzze.

I grew up in… Overbrook at 64th and Jefferson, which I wouldn’t trade for the world. It was a tough neighborhood but still friendly at the same time. Very close-knit. We all knew each other, all the kids played together, there was a lot of car-pooling for church and sports and school.

My very first job was… when I was 14. I stayed with a friend and cleaned fishing boats at Andy’s Marina in Margate.

My worst subject in high school was… any kind of math. Why do we need this stuff? is what I always wanted to know, and I have never needed any of it. I used my aunt’s address to go to Haverford High, because Overbook was really getting tough at that time. Then I went to St. Joe’s and Widener Law. I guess I’m still on Temple’s waiting list. I got the waiting list letter and never heard anything since.

These days, I live in… Rittenhouse Square and Avalon. Read more »

Philly Startup Raises $1.85M, Readies to Clean Up Black Market of Online Advertising

Amino Payments executive team. L to R: founder and SVP of engineering Chris Chapman; founder and CEO Will Luttrell; and founder and executive chairman David Bookspan.

Armed with $1.85 million in seed funding and built by some of Philly’s top serial entrepreneurs, Amino Payments — Philly’s newest homegrown startup — is ready to take the adtech industry by storm.

The startup’s executive team – founder and CEO Will Luttrell, founder and executive chairman David Bookspan, and founder and SVP of engineering Chris Chapman — say they’ve built a payments solution to clean up the black market of online advertising, one that specifically addresses the billions of dollars companies lose through digital ad sales.

“About 20 percent of budgets are lost to fraud, waste and abuse online because of bad actors and bad practices,” CEO Luttrell told me. To illustrate his point, take a look at the flashy display ad to the right of this Philly Mag article. That ad didn’t randomly land there, and Philly Mag didn’t place it there either. Instead, the company’s sell-side tech platform — an outside third party actor — is responsible. As a middleman, the sell-side platform hosts an automated auction to sell off Philly’s Mag’s ad space inventory. Advertisers looking to place an ad on the Philly Mag site simply need to enter one of these auctions with a bid. Sounds trouble-free, but not so fast says Luttrell. While display ads are all the rage — it’s a growing $36 billion-a-year industry — the space is increasingly riddled with fraud.  Read more »

Wells Fargo Wants Philly’s Discriminatory Lending Lawsuit Dismissed

Image via Flickr.

In May, Philadelphia filed a lawsuit alleging that Wells Fargo engaged in discriminatory lending practices against black and Latino home loan borrowers. Two months later, the bank is pushing back. It wants Philadelphia’s complaint thrown out.

In a July 21 motion to dismiss the city’s discriminatory lending lawsuit, Wells Fargo says the court should drop Philadelphia’s suit for several reasons.

One reason listed says that Philadelphia’s claims are “too remote” to prove that Wells Fargo directly led to a loss of property tax revenue for the city, a standard set by a recent Supreme Court ruling from a Miami suit against the bank.  Read more »

Comcast-Pennovation Challenge Winners Want to Upgrade Philly’s Bridges

Back in November, Comcast and the University of Pennsylvania announced the Comcast-Pennovation Challenge, a joint initiative out of Penn’s Center for Innovation (PCI) that motivated teams of students to develop Internet of Things technologies using Comcast’s machineQ network.

On Monday, Comcast and PCI announced that a team of students behind an infrastructural solution called Viewpoint became the competition’s first winners. 

The results were announced after more than six months of project development. The Viewpoint team, graduate students from Penn’s Integrated Product Design and Historic Preservation departments, used the time to develop their machineQ application, which can effectively collect live information on the structural stability of a city’s railway and roadway bridges.

Read more »

Six Months In, Philly Soda Tax Nets $39.3M, Just Shy of Projections

Sodas for sale in a refrigerated case

Photo by Marlith (license)

Philadelphia reached the six-month mark on its sweetened beverage tax in June, and the Philadelphia Department of Revenue has reported preliminary figures for the month, which closed out fiscal year 2017.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the city told Philadelphia magazine that the preliminary total for collections of the beverage tax in June is $6.9 million, bringing the preliminary FY17 total to $39.3 million.

The city brought in the second highest collection of the tax in June (behind March’s $7 million), but the preliminary figure also suggests that the city has missed its FY17 projection of $39.7 million, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal, which first reported the numbers.

“The preliminary FY17 total is only about $300,000 below the revised target,” city spokesman Mike Dunn told Philadelphia magazine on Monday. “We remain confident that the beverage tax is and will remain a reliable source of revenue, to the benefit of thousands of Philadelphia families and children.”

Dunn said the city doesn’t expect the final FY17 total to be substantially higher than the preliminary total. “Projections are always approximate — and we feel we essentially hit our target. In addition, we have consistently said that — as with any new tax — we need a full year of collections in order to make fair assumptions about month-to-month collections.” Read more »

Brandywine Realty to Move Main Line Headquarters to Philadelphia

The FMC Tower at Cira Center South just got a new tenant. Its very own developer, Brandywine Realty Trust, announced on Friday that it will it will relocate its headquarters to floors 16 and 17 of the building, rendering the building nearly 100 percent full.

Brandywine will join the building’s anchor tenant FMC Corporation, and companies like NASDAQ, Spark Therapeutics, Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners and Freedom Pay that have are already settled in the vertical neighborhood.

The relocation makes sense for a company that’s had a big hand in shaping University City with properties like Cira Centre, the FMC Tower and evo at Cira Centre South, the new IRS Philadelphia Campus and the pending Schuylkill Yards project with Drexel University. Brandywine has always had a satellite office in the Cira Center since the building was constructed and the developer’s Radnor, Pa. office, formerly the site of its HQ, will still house its Pennsylvania suburban operations. About a third of Brandywine’s nearly 400 employees will be based at the FMC tower.  Read more »

Philly’s Impact Economy to Get $15M Boost With ImpactPHL Ventures

ImpactPHL Ventures initial funding partners.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners celebrated the one-year anniversary of its ImpactPHL investment collaborative on Thursday with the unveiling of its largest funding initiative to date: a $15 million follow-up project in line with ImpactPHL’s mission to assist early-stage companies that address social, environmental, and health problems.

Thanks to its seven initial funding partners, Ben Franklin’s new ImpactPHL Ventures will allow the tech investment powerhouse to assist Philadelphia’s impact economy more than ever before. ImpactPHL was initially created after the release of the 2016 report “Growing the Impact Economy Of Greater Philadelphia.” The report, put together by Ben Franklin and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, pointed to a number of regional factors that make the area the perfect breeding ground for a national standout impact economy. Included was an outline of five key objectives for ImpactPHL, beginning with advocacy and promotion and ending with research and education.

“Investing for regional economic impact has always been core to Ben Franklin’s mission. With ImpactPHL Ventures we are adding a focus and assessment of an enterprise’s social impact” RoseAnn B. Rosenthal, president and CEO of Ben Franklin, told Philadelphia magazine.  Read more »

Here Are the 2017 Philadelphia Geek Awards Nominees

Photo from Philadelphia Geek Awards Facebook page.

The annual Philadelphia Geek Awards is already in its 7th year, and it’s still showcasing Philadelphia’s best minds in activism, innovation, and tech. Geekadelphia announced the 2017 nominees on Thursday, and winners will be honored in 14 categories that include “Game of the Year,” “Movement of the Year,” and the esteemed “Geek of the Year” award. The list of nominees is impressive and serves as a capsule of the big ideas and movements that are shaping Philadelphia now. And Geek Award winners only go on to do more amazing things—I caught with a few of them last fall.

This year’s black-tie event hosted by Geekadelphia, Generocity and Technical.ly will take place on Saturday, August 26 at the String Theory Schools Vine Street Campus. The show has sold out every year, so move fast. You can purchase tickets here.

The nominees for the 2017 Geek Awards are listed below. For more information on the nominees and past winners, click here. Read more »

I Love My Job: Ben Franklin Tech Partners CEO RoseAnn B. Rosenthal

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal. Courtesy photo.

RoseAnn B. Rosenthal has been at the helm of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania — one of country’s leading tech-focused economic development institutions — since 1996. That’s an impressive stint, and the leader’s got tons to show for it. Under Rosenthal’s guidance, the organization’s profile as a catalyst for local tech development has risen, and so too has the region’s position as an emerging entrepreneurial hub. Most recently, Rosenthal helped create and launch the Health Care Innovation Collaborative, a model that funds digital enterprises in Philly’s strongest industry. Ben Franklin already has over 200 tech companies in its current portfolio, and with Rosenthal’s lead, the organization is taking even more in through bold, new initiatives like ImpactPHL Ventures and a Fintech Accelerator. As the region readies for more growth, Rosenthal tells us the ventures she has her eyes on and what an entrepreneur must do to get her attention. And because she has over 45 years of experience in a competitive, continually changing industry, she’s got some real lessons on work-life balance, being a woman in charge, and staying grounded.  Read more »

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