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:

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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 »

Here Are Maps of All of SEPTA’s Proposed Route Changes

Spring is here, which means it’s time for SEPTA’s annual planning ritual. The Annual Service Plan is where SEPTA lays out the route changes it intends to make in its bus and rail lines and puts them before you, the riding public, for feedback.

This year, SEPTA plans changes to 16 bus and rail routes in the city and the suburbs to improve operating efficiency and beef up service. Here’s a map of each proposed change with a brief explanation: Read more »

“Suspicious” Man Taking Photos Near Bus Stops Was Property Inspector

newtown-police-400x400Earlier this week, the Newtown Township Police Department in Bucks County issued a suspicious person warning.

“Early this morning Newtown Township Police received two reports about a suspicious vehicle with the male driver taking pictures at bus stops,” the police reported on Tuesday.

The police began investigating. Fox 29 reported on it last night four minutes into the 5 p.m. news broadcast. (Yes, this means there were more people filming near bus stops.) The news reported a fourth-grader said he’d seen this man before, and he occasionally smokes a pipe.

There was good reason the fourth-grader had seen this man before: He’s a property inspector who is in Newtown twice a month. Read more »

WATCH: Philly Man Fires Shots From Moving Minivan

A man in Rhawnhurst fired a gun into the air multiple times from a moving minivan while leaving a restaurant, police say.

Surveillance footage from May 3rd shows a group of men walking into a minivan in the parking lot of the Mediterranean 2000 Restaurant at 8026 Bustleton Avenue, near Solly. One of the men fired several shots into the air while the van exited the parking lot. Read more »

Pennsylvania Has Some of the Most Expensive Weed in the U.S.

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Shutterstock.com

If you want to smoke up in Pennsylvania, it’s going to cost you.

I mean, obviously. Drugs aren’t free. But according to a recent report from Forbes, Pennsylvania has the some of the most expensive marijuana in America.

The magazine used the website Price of Weed, which has been collecting user-submitted reports since 2010, to chart the price of marijuana in every state. Pennsylvania ranked fifth on the Forbes list (tied with two other states): 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 »

Engineer’s Cellphone Examined in Amtrak Accident

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. |Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. |Photo by Joseph Kaczmarek/AP

Investigators are trying to determine if the engineer of a doomed Amtrak train was using a cellphone at the time of a Philadelphia derailment that killed eight people, reports say. Read more »

Newspaper Strike Vote Possible Next Week

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Shutterstock.com

Updated at 8:50 p.m. with comment from Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild.

Journalists at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com could vote as soon as next Wednesday whether to authorize a strike against the company.

Negotiators for the Newspaper Guild, which represents those journalists, said in a Wednesday evening memorandum that an impasse over seniority and health care costs continue, and that they will not extend the guild’s contract with the company when it expires this weekend.

“The company’s offer for main unit employees now stands at: No raises, higher healthcare costs for worse coverage and weakened seniority,” negotiators said.

“If we can’t reach an agreement, please check your email over the weekend regarding what to do Monday should the contract expire Sunday night and be prepared for a Strike Authorization vote on Wednesday or Thursday of next week.”

“Our negotiating team is continuing to work with the mediator and Guild to try to find solutions to the remaining issues,” Amy Buckman, a spokesman for Philadelphia Media Network, said in an email to Philadelphia magazine. PMN owns all three news organizations.

How realistic is a strike threat? “I’ve never seen the membership more mobilized in the 15 years I’ve been here with the guild,” Bill Ross, the guild’s executive director, said Wednesday night.  He said guild members would “never accept” the company’s current health insurance proposal.

“They’re done making any type of concessions,” he said of his membership. “Our members won’t be able to survive if the company gets what it’s looking for.”

Read more »

Top 10 Cat Photos From PAWS’ Instagram

Detective John Munch

Detective John Munch, a former PAWS cat now living in East Falls.

It’s Philly Loves PAWS Day, which means 10 percent of proceeds from participating businesses is donated to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society.

We thought it’d be nice to use Philly Loves PAWS Day as an excuse to run our 10 favorite cat photos from PAWS’ Instagram. We did a version for dogs, too. Enjoy! Read more »

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