The Really Important Criminal Justice Conversation You Missed

The Atlantic panel on criminal justice reform included (left to right) Anne Morrison Piehl, District Attorney Seth Williams, WIlliam Cobb, Keir Bradford-Grey and moderator Ron Brownstein.

The Atlantic panel on criminal justice reform included (left to right) Rutgers professor Anne Morrison Piehl, District Attorney Seth Williams, Redeemed founder William Cobb, Keir Bradford-Grey of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, and moderator Ron Brownstein.

The one discussion this week that will probably impact Philadelphia the most in the not-too-distant future took place in a bar on Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Seth Williams were among a handful of city officials who participated in “Rethinking Crime and Punishment: A Next America Forum,” hosted by the Atlantic in the Field House, that spot you absentmindedly walk past all the time on Filbert Street across from Reading Terminal Market. Read more »

Police: Actually, No One Has Been Arrested at the DNC Yet

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., march during a protest in downtown Philadelphia, Monday, July 25, 2016, on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. On Sunday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced she would step down as DNC chairwoman at the end of the party's convention, after emails presumably stolen from the DNC by hackers were posted to the website Wikileaks. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., march during a protest in downtown Philadelphia, Monday, July 25, 2016, on the first day of the Democratic National Convention. | Photo by John Minchillo/AP

Some media outlets have reported that protesters were arrested outside the National Democratic Convention in Philadelphia tonight.

But according to the Philadelphia Police Department, no activists have been arrested so far — in all of Philly. And there’s a reason for that.

Police say 54 people were given code violation notices (a/k/a $50 tickets) for disorderly conduct Monday outside the convention at Wells Fargo Center. No one was arrested Sunday or Monday as of 6:44 p.m., a police spokesperson told Philly Mag.
Read more »

Kenney: Trump’s GOP Is the New Know-Nothing Party

jim-kenney-dnc-speech-940x540

Philadelphians know Mayor Jim Kenney as a man who is passionately pro-immigration. As a Councilman, he told anti-immigration protesters, “You can’t go through life hating.” On his first day as mayor, he signed an executive order making Philadelphia a sanctuary city again. And for years, Kenney has drawn parallels behind the way his Irish ancestors were treated in the 1800s to the way Mexican immigrants are treated today.

Kenney could have chosen to show the nation any number of sides of himself during his speech on Monday at the Democratic National Convention, the most high-profile address of his life so far. He could have talked up his pro-union or feminist bonafides. But with only three minutes to speak, and with the dystopian, dark anti-immigration speeches at last week’s Republican National Convention fresh in his mind, Kenney opted to focus on immigration.

He started his speech by recalling a shameful episode in Philadelphia’s and America’s history: the anti-Catholic riots in the 19th century. Irish Catholics were flooding the city; their numbers ballooned from 35,000 in 1830 to 170,000 in 1850. Nativists opposed the immigrants’ new way of living and worshiping — and they rioted. Read more »

WATCH: Supercut of Darrell Clarke Attacking Donald Trump

Last week, Hillary Clinton’s campaign opened its first field office in North Philadelphia, near Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

City Council President Darrell Clarke spoke at that opening, and he spoke at length (well, 90 seconds) about Donald Trump while rallying the troops. We here at Philadelphia magazine figured you might enjoy that 90 seconds, so we made a supercut of all of Clarke’s comments about Trump. Enjoy!

Desperately Seeking Seth

Photograph by Nell Hoving

Photograph by Nell Hoving

Seth Williams is sitting on the porch of his home in Overbrook, taking a pull on a cigar and trying to find the right words to explain the bullshit that’s consumed his life for much of the past year.

It’s a warm, clear Saturday night in early June, and whatever plans he might have had were scuttled when his black Lab-mix puppy, Charlie, got sick. After he tended to the dog, his thoughts turned to a topic he can’t seem to escape these days, namely, why do so many people have an ax to grind with him? Read more »

DNC Guide: The Parties and Events

Blavat: Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images; stadium and fox: istockphoto; Loews: G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia; Kimmel: M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia; Noah: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central.

Blavat: Bobby Bank/WireImage/Getty Images; stadium and fox: istockphoto; Loews: G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia; Kimmel: M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia; Noah: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central.

For the I’m-With-Her crowd: The Emily’s List party
What: This powerful PAC has been supporting pro-choice female candidates since the ’80s and has raised more than $400 million for their causes. Obviously, this is the election they’ve been waiting for, and they’re hosting a party at the Kimmel Center on July 27th to celebrate. (Psst … look for Ed Rendell in the crowd.)
Can You Get In? Hells yes! It’s free, but you’ll need to RSVP on their site.

For US Weekly Subscribers:The Creative Coalition’s concert and VIP party
What: This nonprofit uses star power (it was founded in the ’80s by Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon and others) to press for arts advocacy, public education and First Amendment rights. Not surprisingly, they’re known to throw kickass parties. The big one will be on July 27th (venue TBD) and feature Fergie as headliner. Can You Get In? You bet! About 500 tickets are available for purchase on their website; proceeds benefit the charity.

For the Smart-asses: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah tapings
What: The quick-witted Daily Show stars will be telecasting from Penn’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts from the 26th to the 29th. (The last time the show was broadcast from Philly was during the 2000 RNC.) Can You Get In? If you were one of 800 Penn students who won the ticket lottery in April, yes. For everyone else, there’s still a good chance; reserve your ticket on the show’s website.

For Political Fanboys/girls: The Atlantic HQ and Politico Hub
What: Both influential media outlets are rounding up their top talent and setting up shop for the week. Politico’s multimedia space in 2 Commerce Square will have nonstop programming, daily briefings, conversations with experts, a nightly lounge and a live watch party. The Atlantic will be at the Field House and offer in-depth analytical morning briefings along with discussions, luncheons, nightly networking cocktail receptions, and a workspace and lounge. Can You Get In? Access to the Atlantic’s HQ is limited; request an invite on their site. Politico’s Hub is open to the public.

For Lifelong Dems: Phantastic Philadelphia 2016
What: Bob Brady is kicking off the festivities with a bash at SugarHouse Casino on July 24th. Five hundred-plus bigwigs, from members of Congress to state senators to local ward leaders, will be getting down to live doo-wop (a favored Brady musical genre) curated by Jerry Blavat. Can You Get In? If you aren’t an elected official or working for one, most likely not. But then again, politicians are always up for discussing favors.

For News Chasers: The major-league media party
What: Correspondents, bloggers, Snapchatters and 10,000 other members of the media will flood Citizens Bank Park on July 23rd for a welcome bash where Philly’s hometown flavor will be on display. Five stages of local musical acts are expected (including the CAPA Jazz Band and DJ Jazzy Jeff), and more than 30 local restaurants (including options from Starr, Garces and Solomonov) will serve up eats. Can You Get In? Are you a member of the media who got your paperwork in on time? Then congrats, you’re in.

For the What-election? crowd: Philly Feast and Center City Sips
What: The Host Committee — the Philly-based group helping to coordinate
everything — is keeping the locals happy with Philly Feast, a daytime food-truck festival (with live music) in Old City on July 25th. And they’re partnering with the Center City District for a special Sips on July 27th; you can mix it up with delegates and convention guests at Dilworth Plaza, Comcast Plaza and Centre Square. Don’t know or care if Hillary is spelled with one “l” or two? These events are for you. Can You Get In? Yes, both are open to the public.

For the Power-in-Diversity crew: The 2016 DNC watch party celebrating the black vote
What: Actress Vivica A. Fox, activist group Dogon Village and some PA Dems are hosting a watch party at Penn’s Landing with dinner, dancing, and a performance by Grammy Award-winning singer Howard Hewett. Five hundred people, including pols and civil rights leaders from around the country, are expected to attend. Can You Get In? Yes. Tickets ($50 to $125) are available at Dogon Village’s website.

For the “Party” people: The hotel bars
What: Thanks to a divisive election, some companies and media outlets known to throw top-notch convention events are staying away this year. But there’s one tradition that can be counted on: The bars in the hotels where large groups of delegates are staying will be lively fun zones. Head to 12th and Market and hop from the Marriott Hotel Downtown (where the delegates from California, Florida and Iowa will be staying) to the Loews Philadelphia (where New York and Virginia are sleeping). Can You Get In? Probably. Buying a few rounds helps.

Published as “The Philadelphian’s Guide to the DNC” in the July issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Kenney, Other Philly Pols Added to Lineup of DNC Speakers

Jim Kenney Tom Wolf

L: Jim Kenney (Photo by Jeff Fusco) R: Tom Wolf (Photo by Matt Rourke)

The Democratic National Convention just got a bit more Philly.

Today, the DNC announced five more speakers for the event: Mayor Jim Kenney, Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Bob Casey, and Congressmen Bob Brady and Brendan Boyle.

“As Donald Trump continues his divisive convention in Cleveland with dangerous ideas that would pose a threat to our economy and national security,” the DNC said in a release, “Democrats are preparing to lay out the clear stakes in this election in Philadelphia — a choice between building walls and tearing people down or an optimistic unifying vision where everyone has a role to play in building our future.” Read more »

Where Will Black Lives Matter Go From Here?

Demonstrators march through North Philadelphia to protest police shootings.

Demonstrators march through North Philadelphia to protest police shootings. Photo | David Gambacorta

So what happens next?

I found myself mulling that question while covering one of the many protests that took place in Philadelphia during the last few weeks amid national carnage: separate police shootings that left black men dead in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, an ambush that left five police officers dead and seven of their colleagues wounded in Dallas, and now an attack that has left three officers dead and three more wounded in Baton Rouge.

Much of the news coverage has focused on the tenor of the marches — the “Fuck the Police!” chants, the palpable tension in some cities, the worry that the fragile interactions between cops and protesters might dissolve into chaos. But the vast majority of the demonstrations have been nonviolent, and viewing the movement strictly through the lens of the protests feels shortsighted. The support for Black Lives Matter stretches across the country, across racial lines. The potential impact of the movement’s broader calls for criminal justice, education and economic reforms could be significant, but how it will take shape is still an open question. Read more »

Philly Workers and Businesses Might Get a Big Tax Cut … In Two Years

Photo credit: ryanoshea via Flickr.

Photo credit: ryanoshea via Flickr.

For years, a chorus of business leaders and policy wonks has been singing the same tune: The business and wage taxes in Philadelphia are too high, and they drive jobs to the suburbs.

It’s been a loud, harmonious chorus. It’s rare to find someone who disagrees. Opinions diverge, though, when the conversation turns to solutions. City government can’t easily lower business taxes, not with a huge hole in the pension fund and a school district perpetually starved for every dime of revenue it can get. And City Council is loath to again raise taxes on homeowners, an entrenched constituency that feels like the go-to source for revenue every time the city needs more cash.

But a remarkable thing happened earlier this month. State lawmakers took the first step toward allowing Philly to raise taxes on commercial properties without having to raise taxes on residential properties, too, as long as it matches the increase with a reduction in the wage and business taxes. It would be the first hole in the part of the state constitution known as the “uniformity clause,” which requires Pennsylvania cities to tax all real estate properties at the same rate. Read more »

Here’s Where Philly’s First Nine Community Schools Will Be Located

Photo | Jim Kenney

Photo | Jim Kenney

Mayor Jim Kenney hosted a press conference on Monday to announce the first nine community schools, which the city hopes to transform from education-only facilities to multipurpose community services centers over the course of the next year.

The first nine schools are located in South, Southwest, North, and Northwest Philly. The Mayor’s Office of Education selected the first cohort of schools from a number of applications, using input from residents at community meetings and neighborhood health and safety data. Five of the schools in the first round exceed the citywide rates for child poverty, asthma, obesity, and diabetes. Five schools are also located in police districts with the highest rates of gun violence and four schools have 20 percent or more ESL students.  Read more »

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